Thursday, July 30, 2009

Come On, Get Higher

As I shall be spending the majority of the next 2 days airborne, I thought "get higher" seemed like a pretty fitting sentiment. And that song is often stuck in my head these days, so it just felt right. :)

The big day of departure is TOMORROW! I'm on my way to India for three weeks. It feels incredibly surreal & I'm feeling more than a little bit inadequate at the moment. But I'm looking forward to this new adventure & opportunity to serve & teach at the Rising Star Outreach School in Chennai.

While I'm in India, I'll continue to post updates on this blog - hopefully with pictures, too! So leave comments & keep in touch! Thanks to everyone for all the love & support - you've helped make this dream a reality for me.

It's real. I'm leaving. Tomorrow. EEEK!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Everything I've Never Been Before

The past few months have been full of journeys, recipes, testimonies, and stories, as well as epiphanies - yet another "ee" that should probably be featured in the subtitle of my blog. I feel like I've suddenly reached a point in my life where everything is starting to change; there are a lot of big decisions floating out there on the horizon, just waiting for me to catch my breath and make the next leap. The wonderful lyrics of Switchfoot's "On Fire" have been running through my head a lot lately, as I really do feel as if "I'm standing on the edge of everything of never been before."

If you hadn't yet noticed, I like making lists, so here goes one more. I'd like to call it, "Real-izations."

1- I have some stunning tan lines. I may look a bit like a skunk.

2- I get on a plane to fly around the world to India TWO weeks from TODAY. wow. Soon I'll be starting my days eleven and a half hours earlier than I do here. Soon I'll be in a foreign country surrounded by ancient beliefs, customs, and architecture. Soon I'll start my days by singing primary songs with the children of the Rising Star Outreach School in Chennai, India. Soon I'll be facing poverty unlike anything I've ever seen. Soon I will have water buffalo milk on my cereal each morning. Soon I'll see stars I've never seen before. Soon I'll walk in the gardens of the Taj Mahal. Soon I'll be on the biggest adventure of my life. Those three weeks in India will be full of new sights, sounds, smells, and feelings. The trip that I've talked and dreamed about for months finally feels like a reality, and now I feel more than a little bit inadequate and intimidated. I'm just a little girl from a tiny farm town in Idaho. What could *I* do to make a difference to India? Not much, but I can make a difference in the lives of those I meet in India. I hope I can bring a part of my experience in India back home to share with all of my friends and family who have supported and believed in me.

3- My twentieth birthday is three weeks from tomorrow. I think this means I have to grow up a little. Which might mean that I have to make some grown up decisions. This is both thrilling and terrifying. :/

4- Our Father in Heaven truly loves each and every one of His children, no matter where they live or what language they speak.

5- Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith & believe.

6- Naps are good.

7- There are some people that just fit into your life like they were meant to be there.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Toll House Goes Shfancy

aka Super Buttery Chocolate Chip Cookies

My daddy is a big fan of cookies, brownies, ice cream, & treats in any form, although you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at him. So yesterday, when I was having a major chocolate craving, dad was all in favor of some chocolate chip cookies, but the recipe off of the Hershey’s bag just wasn’t going to cut it; rather, he wanted to try a new recipe from our favorite magazine, “Cook’s Illustrated,” for the perfectly chewy yet crispy cookie. I was a bit skeptical, but I’m always up to try a new recipe.

Verdict – These cookies are crazy delicious, but a bit more time consuming & labor intensive than Hershey’s or Toll House recipes, calling for browned butter & a separated egg yolk, among other things. This recipe also gives a much smaller yield, only about 20 cookies. If you’re planning on feeding the masses, stick with your usual favorite. But if you have a special someone in your life that loves butter & chocolate chip cookies, in that order, this recipe just might pave your way into their heart.

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
14 tblsp. (1 ¾ sticks) butter (if using salted butter, reduce the amount of salt to ½ tsp.)
½ cup sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 ¼ cups semisweet chocolate chips ( I used about ¾ cup semis, ½ cup milk chocolate – I like my cookies a bit sweeter
- you can also add ¾ cup chopped & toasted pecans or walnuts

1)Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat your baking sheet w/ non-stick spray.

2)Heat 10 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet over medium high heat until completely melted. Butter should sizzle & bubble – foam might form - don’t worry, that’s just fine – just keep stirring. Continue cooking butter while stirring constantly until butter is golden brown & has a nutty aroma, about 2 or three minutes. Remove skillet from heat & stir in the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. Stir until all the butter is completely melted. Transfer hot butter to a heat proof bowl – you will add the rest of the ingredients to this bowl, so make it a big one.

3)Add both sugars, salt, & vanilla & stir thoroughly. Add egg & egg yolk & stir until the mixture is smooth. Let this mixture stand for about 3 minutes, stir again, & let it rest for another three minutes. I would suggest using these 3 minute breaks to dance around the kitchen to your favorite song. Stir the mixture again – it should be thick, smooth, & shiny.

4)Stir in flour & baking soda. Add chocolate chips (& nuts, if you so choose).

5)Shape dough into balls about two inches in size & place on greased cookie sheet, 8 at a time. Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes – the cookies should still be puffy, with golden brown edges & slightly soft centers. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Counting Days

I arrive in India on August 2nd. For those of you who don't like to frequently count days on the calendar, that's just 26 short days from today. *insert awed face here* My to-do list for the next three weeks is beginning to feel a bit daunting, but I am incredibly excited for this awesome opportunity.

Here are just a few highlights from my list of things to do:

1- Learn to shower without getting water in my mouth - for a chronic shower-singer, this is very difficult.

2- Get immunized for Typhoid Fever & Meningitis. Tomorrow. I don't like needles. uh-oh... someone please hold my hand?

3- Wait patiently for my visa to arrive. (& Patience isn't always top on my list of virtues...)

4- Get used to the idea of water buffalo milk on my Wheaties... yummy.

5- Pack an extra-large suitcase with very few things.

6- Write about 100 thank you notes - Sorry I'm slow! I AM grateful... but also busy... but thank you to everyone that has supported me, both financially & emotionally. I really appreciate all the confidence that everyone has in me & all of the well wishes.

7- Figure out how I'm going to survive three weeks in 100+ degree weather when I'm not allowed to wear shorts. EEEK.

8- Talk my way in to a window seat for the 20+ hour flight.

9- Tell Amelia H that she's awesome about 703 times! Thanks so much for your help & faith in me!

10- Get ready for my biggest adventure of my life.


ALSO - a VERY happy birthday to Mr. Keaton Jolley, who used to comment on my blog & now spends his free time creating the most randomly entertaining podcasts on this earth, quite possibly in the whole universe. He's over there > check it out & wish him a rockin' birthday on the 8th.