Thursday, February 26, 2009

Early Riser

I love waking up early. No, let me be clear: I love being awake early! Waking up is the pits. But being up, hitting the gym, showering & getting ready, walking my dog, watching ESPN, spending quiet time, eating breakfast, packing a lunch, and drinking tea are all things I get done between about 6:50 and 9 am. Today, I also read the paper! Of course, to be able to wake up, I've been going to bed a bit earlier, or at least "closing up shop" earlier. I turn the TV off by about 8:30 pm, then wash my dishes, run the dishwasher, wipe down the counters, switch over the laundry, let the dog out, fill the humidifier, get my glass of water, and then curl up into bed with a good book. I find that I am just a better organized person with an early night and an early morning, and I like the personnel at the Y early in the morning rather than the 5 o'clock crowd (mostly scantily dressed high-schoolers).
Anyway, my mornings make me feel refreshed and ready to take on the day because I don't spend all my time thinking about what I have to do when I get home or how overwhelmed I will be after I am done with small group or class and still have to clean up the house! Now when I get home from my various activities, I get to relax and enjoy my time.
If you're feeling stressed and overwhelmed, I suggest early to bed and early to rise, even just for a few weeks. :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I'm doing two things for lent, and "giving up" something isn't directly involved. But it will happen indirectly. I understand the purpose behind the "giving up" in order to represent the suffering of Christ for 40 days in the desert. But I've been thinking of things I could give up, and most of them are things that I am not heavily reliant on anyway (television, internet, junk food, reading). I have what you might call "built in moderation" because I am busy in many ways. But I have decided that in the same spirit, I'm going to adopt two things that will be a struggle for me, but that will ultimately be a joy.
1) Drink water. I don't like it. It tastes like nothing. I drink it when I go to the gym, or if it's really hot outside, but I mostly stick with juice or tea or milk. But I know that water is good for me, and I notice immediately when I start drinking a good 64 ounces a day that I have prettier skin, more energy, and I feel healthier. So I've got my pink nalgene all filled with agua, and it's off we go.

2) Live on a Dave Ramsey approved budget. I have had a "budget" in the past, but mostly it involved not spending too much money and having plenty left over at the end of the month. Dave advises a zero-balance budget, because "mystery unused money" lying in a checking account gets spent on junk. So I've balanced my budget precisely to the penny, I've got my envelopes all ready.

Balancing my budget out was actually surprising. I sat down with my calculator, bank statements, and Monthly Cash-Flow plan(from and figured out where I was spending too much and where I wasn't spending enough (can you say "giving" and "savings"?). I was spending very little on food, which I was sure would be the culprit. I actually increased my food budget significantly and tithed fully as well as saved 10% of my income, while paying off my school loans a little extra each month, and still came up with extra cash. That goes in the "blow money" which sounds like drug money, but really just means it's money that's there for my "Just in Case" moments. ;)

Anyway, I think both things will be like "giving up" things, but really adopting things that I know God is calling me to. I'll try to keep everyone updated. :)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Who knew?

To the right is a fennel bulb.

Below is "sweet anise".

I needed fennel bulb, but it was labeled "Anise". I thought, "There's no way that can be anise, I've seen it before, and it's star-shaped and grows on a bush!" I even picked up the bulb and smelled it to check, but I was wary, so I didn't take it home. Turns out that many produce vendors mislabel fennel as "Sweet Anise" because of its mild licorice taste, but that it is, indeed, fennel.

Who knew?

Monday, February 9, 2009


This is one of my favorite photos from Super Bowl XLIII. I watched the game over at Hot Metal Church in the South Side, and it was wild. My parents even drove up from Florida to watch the game in da 'Burgh - and it was worth every minute of the tedious drive! The church recently acquired a new building - formerly a bar - so it had the feel of watching at a bar without all the drinking. The place went nuts from the moment the guys came onto the field until the final turnover with 14 seconds remaining. I spent the last 3 minutes of that game in a true panic - which was nothing compared to one of the boys at the church who had to walk back and forth, in and out of the room. But I should have known that Big Ben would carry us through! It certainly was a Super Bowl to remember - and I sure will remember it, judging by all the Steelers memorabilia I am suckered into on a daily basis. Don't worry - I'm not too crazy, but I did just get a shirt that says, "got six?" on the front and "da burgh does" on the back.
Anyway, I really like winning the Super Bowl because it means that there's Steelers talk all off-season, wondering about the draft, and the future of the team. Plus, the game has been re-aired three times so far, with a fourth on Thursday night, so it's almost like the season hasn't ended. Mike & Mike bring up the team at least once daily, and usually more.
I can't wait until it's out on DVD! And I wonder if they'll include it on the "America's Game" list soon?