Bwana Asifiwe it's Friday! Spending my last weekend in the states with my family... looking forward to a fireside dinner on the back porch, carving a great, big pumpkin, and drinking some mulled apple wine. Oh, and of course packing and brushing up on my Swahili! Ahhh! Here's some guilt-free fun on this beautiful fall weekend...
Hey it's ok...
If Pinot Noir accounts for 98% of your weekly fruit intake.
If you felt like you lost a friend when this past season of The Rachel Zoe Project ended.
To turn to baking when life gets crazy (a la Izzie Stevens)
Ok, so call this a diva moment, but when I realized I would be spending 30 hours traveling next week (and 30 hours coming back two weeks later, mind you) I had a little bit of a panic. Ok, I know this is moderately trivial, but you have to understand my dilemma. I am old-fashioned in that I believe in dressing up to fly. I mean you won't find me wearing a pencil skirt and stilettos, but the thought of wearing a Juicy Couture sweatsuit or Victoria's Secret sweatpants in public makes me nauseous. Literally.
Ok, so I don't necessarily dress up to fly, but jeans are typically mandatory. So then I thought... "What would it be like to wear jeans for thirty hours straight?" (Ugh and not to mention a bra...) The horror. So this is my solution.
Yoga pants seem like an obvious choice since they are so comfy and from far away they kind of look like real pants. The aviators will be perfect for hiding tired, jet-lagged eyes and the black cashmere socks are essential for keeping my toes nice and toasty. I always wear flats when I fly, it makes going through security that much faster. I think this is the middle ground between just-rolled-out-of-bed and ready for the runway. (Ha... runway! I didn't even plan that one!)
You are the only person I know who can cook an entire meal on the grill (and make it taste absolutely heavenly), who tucked me in every single night (tight enough so I couldn't escape) and would lay with me until I fell asleep (and 95% of the time he fell asleep too... sorry mom) when I was too scared to be by myself. Thank you for setting the bar so high and for showing me what it means to be a man of God. I love you so much.
Ok, if you never believe anything I tell you after this, that's fine but you seriously should consider adding a new station to your Pandora.
Ready for it?
"Quelqu'un m'a dit" by Carla Bruni.
Here's a little preview... This station is soooo good. Seriously. I was getting a little burnt out with my usual James Morrison, Gavin DeGraw, John Mayer music and all of my stations started sounding the same. But then I saw this video on a random blog that I don't even remember (I know, fail) but I adore it. It is just so folky and relaxed and I don't know the words to all the songs so it doesn't distract me when I am studying/reading/writing.
The only problem is that I find myself feverishly scribbling down names of new artists that I want to download (i.e. every person a the station). And I'll probably go broke trying to buy all this new music.
P.S. They play songs in English too, don't worry. :)
Have you ever seen Sleepless in Seattle? Gosh, absolute cinematic perfection. I woke up this morning thinking about my favorite scene, and it only seems right to share. Pardon the poor quality and sketchy subtitles. Gotta love YouTube and good, old globalization.
(In case you were distracted by the Shiite style subtitles, here is the transcript.)
Dr Marcia: Sam, do you think there is someone out there you could you love as much as you loved your wife?
Sam: Well, Dr. Marcia Fieldstone, that's hard to imagine.
Dr. Marcia: What are you going to do?
Sam: Well, I’m going to get out of bed every morning. And breathe in and out all day long. And after a while I won't have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breathe in and out. And then after a while I won't have to think about how I had it great and perfect for a while.
Dr. Marcia: Sam, tell me what was so special about your wife?
Sam: Well, how long is your program?
It was a million tiny, little things.When you added them up, it just meant that we were supposed to be together. And I knew it. I knew it the very first time I touched her. It was like coming home, only to no home I'd ever known. I was just taking her hand, to help her out of a car. And I knew it.
So, I missed Guilt-free Friday yesterday... whoops! I have just been so busy finalizing some last minute details before I leave for Tanzania in... 9 DAYS. Gosh, it hasn't really hit me yet. Probably because I am so unprepared. So, in addition to soccer-momming it up, I have been scrambling to finish some course work, get a prescription filled for malaria prevention meds (that I have to start taking in 2 days... eek) and checking the mail compulsively in hopes that my visa arrives. Stat.
Anyways, in the spirit if Guilt-free Friday, let's have a Shameless Saturday (i.e. things I probably should be feeling guilty about, but I'm not.)
... I'm on latte number three. It isn't even 10:30am yet. BUT, at least there's no Baileys in it, right?
... I'm listening to Christmas music. BUT, I'm going to be gone November 1-14, which means I'll be missing out on two solid weeks of Christmas music. So sing on, Glenn Miller, sing on.
... I've spent more time planning what to wear on the 30 hour flight than I have spent preparing for my two tests this week. (Not to mention the 3 papers and professional portfolio I need to complete before my departure)
... Instead of studying yesterday I got a manicure. And a pedicure. All while reading InStyle Magazine.
(not my feet)
... I know more about my new camera than I know about types of insurance and deductibles (i.e. what my finance test will be covering) Did I mention I don't know how to turn on my camera yet?
Also, I stole all of these pictures. I mainly found them on Google Images, which kind of makes it not like stealing. Except that it is. But I mean hey, what do you expect from someone who doesn't know how to turn on her camera?
I always get so annoyed when someone breaks the bank to buy a nice camera and suddenly thinks they are the next Nigel Barker. Seriously? Unless that package included classes, lessons, or one heck of a manual, you're just an average Joe with an above average camera. I don't mean to seem harsh or cynical, but let's face it, buying jeans a size too small doesn't make you skinnier, and owning a nice camera does not make you a photographer.
Ok, now the exciting news...
I am the proud owner of a Nikon D3100.
I am a complete camera/photography novice i.e. NOT a photographer.
And I will, undoubtedly, have to read the owners manual to even know how to turn it on. I mean, let's be real, until a few weeks ago I didn't even know what a "DSLR" was.
But it is going to be a fun little adventure and if all goes as planned, she will help document some exciting times in my life (i.e. this trip)
P.S. Did I mention my bank account had a seizure when I made the purchase?
Well cats, I can hardly hold it in any longer... the countdown has begun (no, not for Christmas you sillies... at least I'm not admitting to that just yet). Ready for it?
On January 30, 2010 the Water to Wine Project officially launched. This organization is a partnership of restaurants across the country that are working to end the global clean water crisis by encouraging the dining public to donate one quarter per person per visit to participating restaurants. Over the course of the past nine months, faithful guests, dedicated servers, and supportive restaurant owners have raised over $20,000 dollars for the clean water cause. That’s a lot of quarters.
Isn't it amazing to think that in these past few months a minimal contribution of 25 cents is now turning into 2 wells in Tanzania? Lives are being changed forever. AND (here's the exciting and moderately selfish part) 13 days from now I will be on a plane heading over to witness this awesome celebration! Seriously? Seriously?! Words cannot even describe how excited and honored I am to be a part of this. My dad received an email today from the NGO that is doing one of the wells and I just had to share a little piece of it:
"As you will not be staying in Morogoro for long, we have arranged that you witness the last part of it, which is pump installation. The people will also come out en masse to welcome you and share their joys with you."
I cannot even begin to imagine what it will be like when 150+ families come out into the streets of a rural village in eastern Africa and start sharing their joys! I'm picturing it kind of like Christmas... but with a really big family (with a lot of relatives that I look nothing like)
(These are images from the town where the first W2WP well is going! Isn't that unreal?)
As exciting as this is, the harsh reality is that 884 million people still do not have access to clean drinking water. These first two wells will only impact a small fraction of the people who live in danger every day, but they are a drop in the bucket. To learn more about the Water to Wine Project or to see how you can help fill that bucket, click here.
Side note: I understand that the title of this post is terribly misleading. Sometimes I think things are funny in my head. And a lot of times they aren't actually funny. Or appropriate. Whoops.
Have you noticed how universally flattering and adorable a Dolman sleeve can be? Seriously, 100% understated, effortless elegance. I've been loving them lately, which means I have been buying them in every color, which actually means I have been buying them in every shade of grey, which is a whole other issue.
Well, all I really want is this cashmere sweater from Uniqlo. I spotted it on a Cup of Jo over a month ago and I still dream about it at night. I understand that it is grey. But really, having half of your wardrobe consist of grey only lends itself to easy accessorizing when you're in a pinch and unmatched flexibility when it comes to selecting the rest of your outfit. And I know that I live in a region where cashmere is practically extinct, especially considering the fact that it is mid-October and temperatures are still reaching the low 80s during the day, but thankfully I'm cold-natured, which makes rationalizing this purchase even easier. BUT... I waited too long and I cannot find the sweater on Uniqlo. Whyyyyy?!
So, sweater gods, if you're reading this... you know what to do.
Confession: I have always been a little cynical about the tagline of my favorite Christian radio station, K-Love. Maybe you've heard it...
"Pooositiiiiive, encoooouuuuuraaaginnngg K-Loveeeeeee." (it's even cheesier when it is being sung... trust me.)
I mean, don't get me wrong, I have always thought of their music as uplifting, but the whole positive, encouraging thing just seemed over the top. That is, until I heard "Beautiful" by MercyMe. I heard it about an hour ago while I was driving to a meeting and I truly felt so encouraged. I had to share this beautiful song (pun obviously intended, as always) in hopes that it gives you some encouragement too on this Sunday evening.
Disclaimer: I'm not a home-schooled, horse-loving, Christian music fanatic. Yes, my mom let me listen to the Backstreet Boys when I was 12 and yes, I have a variety of music on my iPod. But I really do appreciate Christian music and the powerful message it conveys.
While I was home for Fall Break we made a little trip to the pumpkin patch. It doesn't matter how old I get, finding the perfect pumpkin is always so exciting.
Sunday evening as I was eating leftovers in my apartment, I received this picture from my dad:
Isn't it just lovely? My family was about to have Sunday night dinner by the fire on the back porch. To say that it made me miss home would be an understatement. I just love how my mom makes things look so festive and seasonal. I don't know if you can tell from this picture, but there are adorable baby pumpkins on the table nestled in between those big citronella candles. It makes the most perfect centerpiece, if you ask me. Rustic, earthy, practical, and never too fussy... Just how my mom thinks things should be.
"You cannot produce trust just as you cannot "do" humility. It either is or is not. Trust is the fruit of a relationship in which you know you are loved. Because you do not know that I love you, you cannot trust me."
Have you read The Shack by William Paul Young? I just finished reading it last night and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. It offers a deeply personal, relatable look at God.
The above quote is from a conversation between Mackenzie, the main character, and Sarayu, the Holy Spirit. Sarayu is explaining to Mackenzie that love is the foundation of trust, and until you are assured of love you cannot trust. This is probably the single-most powerful part of the book for me. I have always felt secure in God's love for me, but a natural product of that would be trust. So why do I always struggle trusting that his plan for my life is good and perfect? Heavy stuff.
Tonight as I was doing my devotional I ended up in Psalm 62.
"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge."
I was just so overwhelmed and convicted and completely blown away at how God used this passage to speak so directly to me. And so with a heavy heart and tired eyes I poured out my heart. And sometimes things are messy and painful and hard to understand, but God is understanding and God is faithful. The end of this chapter closes with:
"One thing that God has spoken,
two things that I have heard:
That you, O God, are stong,
and you, O Lord, are loving."
Psalm 62: 11-12
Isn't that just so reassuring? Trusting God on this day and finding my identity, my security, my peace, and my strength in him alone.
The amount of time I spent in my apartment this weekend (and in Ugg slippers, for that matter) was moderately exorbitant. Friday was ok, I got a lot of work done and felt pretty accomplished by the day's end. By Saturday night though, I started to resemble Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
All work and no play makes Jack Caitlin a dull boy girl.
Well, not leaving the building did have its advantages. For example, I had been dying to make pot roast and vowed to do so as soon as the temperatures allowed. But when you don't go outside all day, it doesn't matter if it is 60 degrees or 80 degrees.
So, I made pot roast Saturday night. I think the high that day was 82. But the pot roast was good. We finished it off with some homemade brownies that I saw on Chloe's blog a while back. And when I say "a while back" I mean sometime this summer. But those brownies looked so good and I have been dreaming about them ever since. They were even better than I imagined and I highly recommend the recipe. Alton Brown for the win.
Browning the meat is essential. But I decided against dredging it in flour, I just seasoned it then tossed it in the dutch oven (thanks Julian!)
Once I added the vegetables that baby was full!
Sent it off to ovenland with kisses and well wishes.
Seriously? I'm not gonna lie. I did a little dance when I took the lid off and it looked like this. And by little dance I mean I jumped up and down. After it roasted for about an hour and a half, I decided to stir things up a bit and pull the meat to the top so it could get nice and brown. Good decision.
Roasted brussels sprouts and broccoli.
I Caitlin, solemnly swear, to only buy boxed brownie mix if it is an absolute emergency.
Seriously? Seriously?! They were. legitimately. the best brownies I have ev-er had. They tasted just like chocolate soufflé. Minus the testy little egg white whipping.
Britney is a really supportive friend, and clearly we were really excited that I finally got dressed for the first time all weekend, even if I was wearing her clothes.
Happy Friday, chickens! I'm surprisingly tired after such a short week, so it looks like another low-key weekend is in store. I'm certainly looking forward to enjoying this beautiful weather! Hope your weekend is full of sunshine too. Until Monday...
Hey it's ok...
...to start nesting as soon as temperatures drop below 80.
...to spend more each month on bar tabs and dining out than all other expenses combined.
...if you have seen every episode of Laguna Beach. And own all three seasons on DVD.
Continuing with the Paris-inspired goodness, let's talk about the traditional French galette. After pining over this apple galette for weeks, my dreams finally came into fruition. Fall Break provided the perfect opportunity to take a stab at this French classic. I'm not going to lie, French food can be awfully intimidating, but to make a galette all you really need is flour, butter, sugar, and apples.
My sweet boy and I ended up using this recipe, but we made our own little addition. Fearing that the tart would lack in the flavor department, we decided to make a paste out of melted butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon and nutmeg. We put this directly on the pâte brisée before piling on the apple slices. It was delicious, if I do say so myself! And I felt so divinely French making it.
Ina better watch out!
We used some of the Jonagolds I picked last weekend. While picking your own proved to be particularly rewarding, it is completely optional. In my opinion, finding decent apples at Walmart requires much more dedication and expertise than picking them at an orchard, and I often walk away with the same feeling of accomplishment when I find a few good ones without bruises. Anyways, however you decide to retrieve them is your prerogative.
Tom Hanks, anyone?
We gave the mandolin a shot, but slicing with a knife worked out much better.
Our little paste made a lovely addition.
I think Yoshi has a nose for cinnamon. Once again, he was begging. We did some negotiating though...
... and after cramming in as many apple slices as possible, we still had quite a few left over.
Fortunately, we knew exactly what to do with the extras.
And alas, the finished product! Tada!
It made a lovely dessert, but I am particularly fond of the idea of eating it for breakfast (especially considering the fact that it is topped with fruit... it doesn't get much healthier than that, kids.)
The French have a term, "Je ne sais quoi" which literally means "I don't know what." It is used to describe that certain something that catches eyes and turns heads. "She had a certain je ne sais quoi..." Goodness, the French are so divinely romantic.
Have you ever been to Paris? I am dying to go. I just think the Eiffel Tower would be so beautiful, especially at night.
There is something about stripes that makes me feel so Parisian. Although the masses hail them the most unflattering of patterns, I tend to disagree. I have a special place in my heart for stripes. I guess it is just a product of my secret longing to be French.
Here are a few more cute ones from Gap... all on sale!
Can't you just picture them with skinny jeans, cheery flats, and bright red lips? A messy top not, French braid, or beret would be the perfect finishing touch. Can't you just picture yourself sitting in an adorable cafe eating a buttery, flaky croissant? Au revoir!
…to the only woman I can shop with, whose opinion I value above anyone else, who is patient, dedicated, and whose strength truly amazes me. To the woman who told me to act like a lady, but still taught me to be tough. Who raised me to be fearless, but is still the first person I call whenever I am afraid. Who is a picture of unconditional love and devotion and truly inspires the people around her.
In hopes that I may someday be half the woman you are today. All my love on your special day.