Fasting from Facebook

This year for lent, I have decided to take 40 days off from Facebook.

I came to my decision about what to do with this wonderful time before the Easter season by realizing that 1.) I wake up, check my email and Facebook every day before I get out of bed (of which I am also fasting from…no technology in bed during these 40 days!), 2.) during study breaks, my default was always Facebook, and 3.) I get so nosy. Granted, people put information and pictures on Facebook (myself included!) to be seen by others, but seriously, I want to practice minding my own business for a bit! (1 Thes 4:11).

So…what will I do with the time I would normally spend stalking (just call it what it is, people) friends, making comments on pictures, and updating my status (I am becoming more and more convinced that I become more and more narcissistic the more I use Facebook–do people really care what I have for dinner??? 🙂 )

Well, since Lent is purposed to bring believers closer to God, I would like to use that time for some self-examination and some God-examination.

1. In the morning, I will take the few minutes I normally took to check my email and FB to read a daily Scripture. That sounds like a good start to any day to me!

2. Study breaks – whatever happened to just sitting back, closing my eyes, and appreciating silence? Listening to podcasts, writing a hand-written note, SLEEP…those are some ideas. Do you  have any???

3. Those times when I am waiting for someone and my hand automatically reaches for my phone and presses the beckoning blue icon — well, I am thinking I should stop and smell the roses, or just do some good old fashioned people watching. Maybe making a list of what I am thankful for. What do you do when you have a few minutes of waiting time?

So, here’s to my little “unplugging” experiment. I welcome ideas, as well as ideas on what you are doing for Lent!

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Mid-Semester Update!

Fall 2011 has been quite busy for me. Fabulous, but busy.

This semester, I started my practicum training. Denver Seminary has a counseling center on campus, Shepherd’s Gate. It offers discount counseling services to the community, counseling provided by students (i.e. me!). People get counseling, and I get practice. All of the sessions are recorded and I meet with two supervisors each week. I have 5 cases and I can’t believe people see as many as 30 in one week — I am so exhausted after just 5! Although it’s challenging, this practicum experience has been extremely positive and helps me to apply my course-work in realistic ways. I can’t believe they trust me in a counseling room alone with clients! But, this reality helps me to depend on God more and more — I am realizing each day how much I CAN’T do without His influence, wisdom, presence, and power.

The first weekend of the semester was Labor Day. For the past three years, a group of college friends and I (Team Austin!) get together somewhere in the country. Our first year, NYC, last year, Nashville. This year, Denver! We had a fabulous time hiking, dining, and lounging in parks.

In Wash Park's flower garden.

One of my new favorites! Cajun-style brunch. Beignets galore!

Later in the month, my parents came up to visit and meet Dave’s parents. We took a tour of his dad’s sod farm and then had steaks at his parents’ house. It was so fun getting our families together and in the same room. And Remy was so happy to see her “grandparents”. 🙂

Dave and I took a short trip to the mountains to take a look at the amazing aspen trees and their new yellow coats. Another purpose of our trip was to purchase our season ski-passes. Copper Mountain, here I come!

Golden Aspens

Remy!

Denver also got its first snow in October. Before Halloween this year. Apparently, it’s a big deal here if snow comes before the 31st or not! Of course, the day it snows I have an 8 am class. Go figure.

First snow! On DenSem's campus

Dave turned 41 on October 19th. We had a very nice steak dinner at Del Frisco’s. I had my first medium-rare filet — it was so good!

Last weekend was probably one of my favorite parts of the semester. Dave and I took a trip to Austin, TX for a football game. I haven’t been back to Austin since I moved here. When we landed into ABIA, a sense of peace came over me and I just felt at home. My friend Rebecca came to pick us up at midnight and had two other friends in the car to surprise us! Just love my Austin community. We stayed at my old house on 37th and I got to reminisce with my old roommates, Emily and Mackenzie. I felt right at home again! The next day, I decided to show Dave some great Mexican food. We took a lunch trip to Trudy’s and went all out with queso, burritos, and lunch specials.

Later we took a walk around the UT campus on our way to the stadium. I journeyed down memory lane as I showed him my favorite spots. We then met my parents and friends at a tailgate where Dave was gifted his very own UT shirt from my  mom.

Dave sporting his new UT apparel!

Hook em!

A great day for college football! Kansas Jayhawks vs. UT Longhorns

I LOVED showing Dave my favorite parts of UT games and being a part of the crowd at DKR again. Again, I felt right at home and as if no time had passed. In the end, the Horns pulled it out without letting Kansas score at all!

The tower is orange!

On Sunday we attended the Austin Stone — the third major time I felt at home. I enjoyed being back in my old fellowship environment more than I can express. It was such a privilege showing Dave where my faith had grown over the past 6 years.

Overall, it’s been a great semester! Continuing friendships I started in the spring, exploring Denver, experiencing my first fall (it really is a season….something this Texan really hasn’t seen before!), testing the waters of counseling, and working to bring my worlds together.

Just 6 more weeks to Christmas break!!!

The 10 Demandments

One of my supervisors gave a group of student counselors and I a great resource to use with couples in counseling. I think I will use it with myself and my own relationships as well. It’s called ‘The 10 Demandments”–basically 10 rules to live by to ensure unhappy relationships. It was created by Joy Erlichman Miller in her book, “Addictive Relationships.” Although secular, it is spot on.

  1. Thou shalt make me happy.
  2. Thou shalt not have any interests other than me.
  3. Thou shalt know what I want and what I feel without me having to say.
  4. Thou shalt return each one of my sacrifices with an equal or greater sacrifice.
  5. Thou shalt shield me from anxiety, worry, hurt, or any pain.
  6. Thou shalt give me my sense of self worth and esteem.
  7. Thou salt be grateful for everything I do.
  8. Thou shalt not be critical of me, show anger toward me or otherwise disapprove of anything I do.
  9. Thou shalt be so caring and loving that I need never take risks or be vulnerable in any way,
  10. Thou shalt love me with my whole heart, thy whole soul and thy whole mind, even if I do not love myself.
What do you think? Humorous because it’s so true! I see just how much I “demand” things from other people and it only creates strain.

Prince Edward Island

The day after Dave and I got back from our Ouray trip, we took a 6:45 am flight to Boston, the first leg of our trip to Canada’s Prince Edward Island (PEI). Getting to this beautiful island is either really long, or really expensive. We chose the really long option. After arriving in Boston, my travel buddy and I rented a car and drove to Dover-Foxcroft, Maine. Here, we spent the night at Dave’s good friend’s house, Phil Eyster. Phil and his family were actually waiting for us at their house in PEI. Dave and Phil have been great friend and ministry partners for over 15 years. They both work with EPI, Eagle Projects International, of which Phil is president and Dave is a board member. EPI is an incredibly unique ministry organization and I encourage you to check out their website.

After a great, restful night in Maine’s countryside, Dave and I got up and drove for about 7 more  hours to PEI. After all of the traveling (18 hours), Dave calculated that we could have flown to London and back in less time. At least it was a pretty drive…

Phil’s house is on the North Shore of PEI, very close to Green Gables. Ring a bell? Yes, this is the birthplace of the beloved children’s book series (I feel completely comfortable telling people that I enjoy them as a 26 year old), Anne of Green Gables.

This is the green gables house Lucy Maud Montgomery modeled Anne's house after.

Phil's charming house, London Haven. Dave and I are reading on the porch on the right hand side.

After arriving at Phil’s house, we took a little trip to the shore at sunset.

The French River. The most photographed spot on the island!

The North Shore. The island's red sand/dirt made me feel somewhat close to home -- I have family in East Texas where red dirt is the norm (and bane of existence for cars and clothes...)

A very old lighthouse at Cape Tryon.

Then we made it to the red sand beaches. For being just north of Nova Scotia, the water isn't that cold!

The next day we went to the island’s capital, Charlottetown. This is no “island town” — it has its own university! Our destination was the theatre, to see Canada’s longest running play: Anne of Green Gables. Of course!

BUT — first we HAD to get some ice cream. The brand is Cows. It is local to Canada with 11 stores all around the country. All of the ice cream is made on the island!

I got to be Anne for 5 seconds.

The next day Dave and I went to church with the Eysters. I was so impressed with how many churches are on the island — so encouraging. After that, Dave and I took the afternoon to drive through the national parks and then eat a VERY nice dinner at Dalvey — host hotel of the royal tour! Apparently William landed his helicopter on the hotel’s lake…

We took a walk take on one of the park's beaches. We got one of many French tourists to take our picture. She told us it was a "framer."

Though dead, we got excited about this find: a very rare blue lobster.

Dalvey by the Sea -- beautiful hotel and restaurant.

William and Kate were still there! Well, not quite.

After one of the best meals of my life, and Dave's very rare filet, we almost fell asleep in front of this beautiful fireplace.

Our amazing day ended in returning the Eyster house and watching a Canadian mystery TV show. Actually very entertaining!!!

The next day was somewhat rainy. So, after canceling horseback riding and kayaking, Dave and I went to the next-best thing: The Cows Ice Cream Factory! Not only are they known for their ice cream, but maybe more so for their T-shirts. They take cultural icons, phrases, and names and use a cow theme to transform them.

"Justin Beefer" I got a T-shirt that says "Moo Moo Lemon" (For those of you who aren't yoga freaks like me, it is a play on "Lu Lu Lemon" -- an athletic apparel store).

On the Cows Factory tour. It's a good look for us...

Later that night we did one of my favorite things about the trip. PEI has a high islander influence (Scottish, Irish, etc.). They even have a College of Piping (bagpiping). So, we went to a great show the student put on all summer. The show included not only bag pipes, but strings (violin, guitar, harp), piano, lots of percussion, and DANCING. If you are a fan of Stomp, Drumline, or Riverdance, you would have loved this.

A student bagpiper welcomed us into the show.

A bit of drama was added to the show. Competing tap dancers and instruments.

The next day Dave and I drove around the Green Gables area to see more of the Anne-fetish. It truly has amazing history! Later we went to dinner with Phil and his lovely wife, Marcia. They imparted some great relationship and ministry wisdom to us. I will not forget what I learned and have taken it to heart. Later that night, we went to a local theatre show that had me laughing off my seat. (If you haven’t guessed by now, PEI is a very art-focused island.)

The next day was a travel day. We only needed a total of 7 hours to make it to Phil’s house in Maine. So, Dave and I took the opportunity to engage in more art — pottery. We took a 3-hour pottery class and made some pretty great pieces. We don’t have them yet because they had to be fired and glazed. Hopefully only a couple more weeks and then I will post some pics, since we are so artsy and all…

My perfectionist side came out, and Dave’s patience resulted. So thankful that he was encouraging me even when I probably drove him crazy with how “uneven” my platter was becoming.

At Off the Batt Pottery

Dave rolling out his clay

Doing some design work on his platter

Me using some lace to create a pretty border on my platter.

Finished raw product: peacock (not a turkey!), flowers, and border. It will have a glazed white finish and will hopefully look antique-ish

Dave and I made it back to Phil’s in time to get some pizza and watch Fletch. A good finish to a great trip.

We arrived home safely to Denver, but I do miss wearing my fleece in the middle of the day! Oh well, I’ll give it a few more weeks here and I am sure I will be tired of wearing it!

A small update going foward: I start school today! Normally I would start seeing clients at 5 pm, but I don’t have any lined up yet since it’s the beginning of the semester. But, I do have a class at 8 pm!

So, hopefully that DOESN’T mean I will stop blogging frequently. But, know that my blogs will be much less pretty. 🙂

Ouray Trip

Dave and I have been super travelers this summer. He went to China for most of July (after our great drive to Texas) and I went home a few times during his time abroad.

After he got home, we took a Colorado-exploration trip. We went to Ouray, CO with side trips to Telluride and Salida. This area of CO is known as Switzerland of America, because the mountains are comparable to the Alps. Here is a photo-documentary of our trip! This will probably be the prettiest blog I will ever post!

Our bed and breakfast in Ouray, Spangler House, was AMAZING! Gourmet food, hot tub, private baths and comfy beds. The hosts were so helpful and MADE our trip — they gave us the best places to go.

Spangler House. It's actually a lot bigger. You can see the roof of the second floor behind. You can also see the "Alps" in the back ground. We had the best views from this place!

First stop: Crystal Lake

I don’t have a professional camera, but you can get a sense that these mountains are pretty Alp-ish!

Day One Destination: Clear Lake

Our drive to Clear Lake was breath-taking.

Our lunch spot that day was a remote glacier lake: Clear Lake. It’s quite different than what I know as Clear Lake (Texas).

Dave preparing our picnic among the wildflowers on the shore of Clear Lake. He definitely has some romantic-setting skills!

Day Two Destination: Telluride

Our B&B host told us about a great backroad to Telluride. Here’s what we found…

We found a great fence overlooking the Telluride mountains.

Amazing aspen grove.

We had quite the views…

We found a point that looked over numerous valleys. We christened this spot "Top of the World." Breathtaking.

Our destination was this great waterfall.

At the top is a water power plant. We drove all the way to the top of the falls to watch it in action.

The plant is actually housed in that little white building.

By the way, we saw our first bear ever (for both of us)!

Day 3: Destination Backroading in the mountains, on a search for a particular field of wildflowers.

Again, our B&B host told us about an area outside of Ouray with some amazing sights.

We had quite a gorgeous drive.

One of many abandoned mines along our way.

Our final destination and lunch spot.

Wildflowers and snow on one mountain.

We got pretty good at taking our own pictures.

Our little marmot friend.

  

After this adventure, we drove to Salida and stayed at The River Run Inn, a B&B on the Arkansas River. We were the only people staying that night, so had the run of the huge house to ourselves. Full kitchen, laundry machines (important since we would be traveling to Canada in two days!), movies, pillow-top beds, and amazing views made this last night amazing!

View of our B&B backyard. The Arkansas River is right below, complete with lots of river rafters.

Needless to say, this was quite a perfect Colorado-summer experience. I HIGHLY recommend taking a Ouray-Telluride-Durango trip sometime!

Stay tuned for my Canada/Prince Edward Island blog!

Colorado Hike

Colorado is beautiful in the summer, and I really want to take advantage of it. I have wanted to take Remy on hike in the mountains, so this morning I decided today was the day. Just 30 minutes outside of Denver is a gorgeous area called Evergreen. I found a bunch of trails with various difficulty levels. I chose something relatively moderate so I could just enjoy the scenery.

Trailhead. Wildflowers are everywhere!

 

This particular park has a special dog-off leash area. We hiked the trail and then played around sans leash. I want to share the beauty with some pictures!

Along the way Remy found her first chipmunk! She chased it up a tree and didn't take her eyes off it for a good 3 minutes.

 

Resting...the altitude got to both of us.

Wildflowers

 

Remy during her off-leash time.

Our view from the top.

 

I will definitely be returning to this beautiful place. Come join me!

Texas Trip #2

Dave and I made the lovely drive* to Round Top, Texas (18 hours!) recently to meet up with my extended family. Every 4th of July since before I was born, my dad’s side of the family gets together at our family farm. I have missed one 4th in my whole life — I was in Costa Rica one summer, so who can blame me?

We had a fabulous time. About 25 people total showed up, and Dave met them all with flying colors! I drew him a family tree so he could at least have some idea of what he was getting himself into.

So what do we do during a 4th of July weekend at the the farm? My dad bar-b-que’s for 2 days straight: sauce from scratch, chicken, ribs, brisket, and sausage. OH how I have missed Texas BBQ! We eat a lot, play corn-hole, nap every day, sweat, take (early) morning walks with the dogs, and just generally take a load off. However, there are two traditions we have done EVERY year: make ice cream from an old wooden ice cream maker, and go to the Round Top 4th of July Parade.

2 out of 12 tired dogs after a morning walk and swim.

Family members playing corn hole...under the flag of course!

We used to make peach ice cream from peaches on our own farm. But the peach trees passed away after years of drought. So, we found a new recipe this year; this time we used chocolate sauce, peppermint pieces, nuts, and rum. Needless to say, we will be using this recipe again! We use an old wooden and metal ice cream maker — no electricity allowed.  The task of churning the ice cream always results in a challenge of who can turn the handle the longest. It always gets thicker over time, so I try to jump in first. 🙂

Vanilla Ice Cream

Ingredients

3 cups half-and-half

1 cup heavy cream

8 large egg yolks

9 ounces vanilla sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions

Place the half-and-half and the heavy cream into a medium saucepan, over medium heat. Bring the mixture just to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and remove from the head.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the sugar and whisk to combine. Temper the cream mixture into the eggs and sugar by gradually adding small amounts, until about a third of the cream mixture has been added. Pour in the remainder and return the entire mixture to the saucepan and place over low heat. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon and reaches 170 to 175 degrees F. Pour the mixture into a container and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract. Place the mixture into the refrigerator and once it is cool enough not to form condensation on the lid, cover and store for 4 to 8 hours until the temperature reaches 40 degrees or below.

Pour into an ice cream machine maker and process according to the manufacturer’s directions. This should take approximately 25 to 35 minutes.

(Courtesy of Alton Brown on http://www.foodnetwork.com)

 

 

Now onto the parade. Apparently, the Round Top parade is the longest running 4th of July parade “west of the Mississippi.” I believe it. It’s about 2 hours long. But very entertaining, as you can see. Dave was like a giddy little boy at this new experience; he soaked up every moment. From the beads to the beauty queens, the flying candy to water guns spraying us on a 100 degree day, the theater kids in their costumes and makeup to riders on longhorns, the old Buicks to the ancient John Deeres, this parade can make anyone smile for the duration of the show.

A real small town beauty queen

Dave snapping pictures of some very peculiar sights...

...Including this guy. The parade has the best people watching. Our own Independence Day Santa!

Dave caught a flag and some beads. I think we both have Tootsie Rolls in our mouths.

Cowboys riding some longhorns!

Abe Lincoln?

A fishing float. Why not?

The fam!

Dave and I. The poor kid in the background has probably been in direct sunlight for at least 2 hours!

On our journey back, Dave and I took a small detour to an ancient volcano in New Mexico. We drove up the cone and then walked down to the crater. From the peak we could see lava formations and rock for miles around the area.

Taken from inside the crater. Lava rocks everywhere!

In sum, it was another very successful 4th of July trip. Now, I am looking forward to taking a road trip to Telluride/Durango and then to Prince Edward Island (north of Maine, next to Canada) in August with Mr. Schlup!

*One of the main reasons we drove was so that we could take Remy. Yes, we took 4 days total to drive so that my dog could have 3 days at the farm.

She got the prime treatment in the car. In Dave's lap for over an hour.