Friday, September 28, 2012

birds, hearts

i might have developed a garland problem. there's just something about them. they look so...festive, and colorful and---interactive, or something---that i can't seem to stop making them.

i made the heart garland over our bed from paint chips that i grabbed at walmart. last weekend when we had friends over, i think it was catherine who commented that she was surprised at how bright and girly our bedroom is---surprised that mark doesn't mind, that is. well, to be honest, i'm surprised too, but so far he hasn't vetoed anything. not even the hearts. i guess he's just saving up to choose a really big battle? 

after i made the hearts, which he wasn't exactly thrilled with, he said, "why didn't you do birds or something?" which just seemed ingenious to me and i wished i'd thought of it, so i immediately made a bird garland from leftover scrapbook paper. that one is in our living room. i might have to cool it on the garlands for a while... 

(sorry about the blurry iphone pics. i really should buy some new batteries for our camera.)

also, a happy housewarming and move-in day to adam and anna! congratulations on buying your first home together! maybe i'll send you a housewarming garland. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


when i was driving home from babysitting today, mark texted me and said he had a little surprise for me. i love doesn't matter what it is, it just makes any day more exciting. he could say he had a surprise and then bring me a glass of ice water and i would still be thrilled. 

when i got home and opened my computer, i found this: 

never mind the weird grammar...sometimes we baby-talk to each other. it's weird. 

and this is what i found...

we are big mumford & sons fans. and this album is awesome

Monday, September 24, 2012

sweet, sweet days

we had a great weekend: lots of friends, pumpkin treats, laughing, good food, crafts, and not enough homework. oops...i'm going to be paying for that all week. i couldn't resist the effort to make our house autumnal, so i spent like two hours cutting leaf shapes out of felt. phd in what? 

i tried to make these pumpkin doughnuts (you can tell i love annie's blog) on saturday, and it did not go so great for me. in the end, they tasted amazing (tough to make them actually taste bad), but it was a lot of work, and the dough was impossible to handle (way too sticky), and they didn't cook all the way through so all the doughnuts were doughy in the middle. "i thought it was some kind of filling," mark said. he's sweet to me. 

on sunday, i went to mark's soccer game, got sunburned (which i tried to keep a secret from him by not allowing him to see my back for the past two days because he gets so mad when i don't put on sunscreen. but he finally saw, and lectured me), cheered him on, tried to take some videos and pictures that were semi-worthwhile, and laughed a lot at him when he took an ice bath later on sunday. lots of yelping and general gasping issuing forth from the tub. 

right now i should be grading my students' assignments, showering, and washing dishes. sooo this is it for me! xo

here's a video of mark with a pretty beautiful header

my leaf garland! 

these are delicious and seasonal. hershey kiss + mini nutter butter +  chocolate chip. nutella is the glue that holds it all together. 

Friday, September 21, 2012


my lookout spot for grading papers the other day

university of north texas this morning (i can't even tell you how many hot days i have wanted to dive into that fountain)
this is what i did during my office hour today. and this strip is exactly how i got mark to marry me...i offered to fry his coffee every morning! love him. 

a few things: 

1. i've noticed a decrease in my basic hygiene practices since high school. back then, i wouldn't dream of going to school without showering. yesterday as i was sitting in my yeats-auden class, it occurred to me that it had been about 48 hours since i last washed my hair. 

2. listen to this song. i had the privilege of playing it at my dear friend carson's wedding this past summer, and i have returned to it week after week. just yesterday i had a real eye-opening moment as i listened to the lines, "Your love is sweeter than honey, Your love is stronger than death, Your love lifts me of my burdens and teaches me to dance." God teaches me to dance: the kind of joy He wants for me is not one that i can find anywhere else, and it is not one that i will ever feel naturally, apart from Him. He teaches it. 

3. we have a pretty low-key weekend ahead of us, a few fun things planned, and a lot of homework. i am planning to bake some pumpkin treats, mark has a soccer game on sunday at 11, and for now i am doing laundry and deciding which room to clean first. but mostly just grateful it's the weekend! 

happy friday from the library bathroom! and nope, i did not wash my hair today either! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

we like to eat

sweet potato fries are a staple in our household. we probably eat them three times a week. usually i buy the spicy julienne cut fries by alexia foods, which are delicious! but two weeks ago i decided to try my own hand at making them myself, and the result was actually really good. i think the word "fries" has gotten a bad reputation nowadays, and rightfully so, but sweet potato fries (when they're baked) are actually pretty good for you. they have lots of vitamin A and the serving sizes on most bags are pretty generous if you ask me, for much less calories than, say, a small fry at chickfila would be (yikes, don't even look it up. it will ruin fries for you).

anyway, for anyone who wants to try making their own, you can make enough for two people from one sweet potato for whatever a sweet potato costs, which is like 50 cents? and here's a big secret: i don't even use sweet potatoes. i use yams! weirdly enough, i've never been crazy about sweet potatoes (i think i'm the only person in the family who doesn't like my mom's sweet potato casserole, which is mostly butter and sugar anyway), but yams have a milder sweetness and the same texture. so i just buy yams and i'm not even sure anyone would know the difference (besides me). basically "sweet potato fries" is a huge misnomer because they aren't sweet potatoes and they aren't fried.

i peel the potato, then cut it into strips of equal thickness, otherwise some will start to burn before others are finished. i do about 1/2" to 3/4" thick. 

then i put all the strips into a bowl and toss with about a tbsp of cornstarch, which helps keep them crispy (yes that's my running route inked onto my palm). 

i drizzle maybe 1/2 tbsp of olive oil over them, then coat generously with salt and cinnamon. 

then i arrange them on a pan sprayed with non-stick spray, so that they are spread out flat and ideally not touching each other...though mine usually are. 

bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then flip them and bake for another 5-6 minutes, or until they're browned enough to your liking.

i think maybe mark still prefers the spicy fries, but he humors me because he knows i like to make things from scratch sometimes.

and since i'm sure everyone is dying to know, this is a poem i our home! mark spent a lot of time on the phone with customer service so now we are up and running. such a relief. and if you're wondering about the title and want to read something really cool, here's where i got the idea for the poem (which is a work in progress).

Sunday, September 16, 2012


 our printer croaked during the first week of the semester, of course. the printhead needed to be replaced (i just said to mark, "what part broke? our masthead?"-- clearly i know nothing as he is still laughing at me), which, according to our friend jordan, is basically like the transmission blowing on your car (which i have a feeling might be soon for the maxima, but that car has been running on prayer for a long time so hopefully it continues for a while longer). anyway, after lots of inconvenient trips to campus just to print one-page assignments (mark is now banned from printing in the library for "abusing" his printing privileges. i'm not kidding), we ordered a new one.
the room in printer-setup uproar
the new printer
it's a wireless laser printer. the only problem is we can't get the wireless part to work right and we don't have a usb cord (printers don't come with those, obviously) so we have already made one trip to campus to print even though we have a brand new printer. sigh. help us, technological friends.

here's a photo mash-up from mark's soccer game on saturday, which they won 4-2 against university of texas at arlington. mark had one amazing goal, which i would give about anything to have on tape! 

before soccer games he makes french toast. i made him wear my apron, which was good for lots of giggles (by me)
i'm working on this whole photographing sports events thing; sometimes i have difficulty getting mark and the ball in the same shot (you should see my game film of his hockey games -- ha).  
yep, that's the beer barn in the background.
chillin out at art six coffee house afterward
oh, this is unrelated, but i thought everyone should know how much of the cheese wrapper mark ate before he realized he was eating paper on his sandwich

to close out the weekend, here's a list of things that make me extremely happy. 

1. a husband who is quick to encourage and affirm
2. the promise of new friends
3. cool wind, and having the windows open
4. cinnamon, my favorite spice
5. getting the new yorker in the mail even though i never have time to read an entire issue
6. the little things mark says to himself without realizing he's talking
7. tea in the morning

Friday, September 14, 2012

caramel apple crumble bars, soccer, & rain

the title basically sums up our weekend. it's raining in denton today, a beautiful gray drizzle, and it's about 63 degrees. i'm wearing jeans: jeans

i made these caramel apple crumble bars last night on a baking whim. sometimes i just need to make something delicious, and i love when the house smells like sugar and caramel. it's like a candle, but better because you get to eat it. plus these seemed like a fitting treat for ushering in what finally feels like autumn!

they turned out great for the most part. i don't know how annie got them to slice up so neatly into bars, like they are pictured in her recipe, because mine had the consistency more of apple pie/apple crisp, meaning they glopped all over the plate. but they still tasted divine. we shared some this morning with our friend keith after a rainy run. 

mark's first soccer game is tomorrow, at the field by the beer barn/the old football stadium. denton friends, come out and watch! it's at 1:00. as a girl who never got to have a uniform for anything, i'm jealous of his sweet new gear. how come they don't give out uniforms for writing awesome poems??! 

and that's about it. we are basically just relishing our friday and looking forward to the weekend. i think i might also satisfy my craft urge and make an autumn leaf garland to hang on the wall in our living room. any excuse to pay a visit to hobby lobby.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Our traveling travel mugs

Mark used to have this gold, insulated, 12oz Starbucks mug that he used for years. And years, and years, toting it to every class he took or taught, as well as church, and all long car rides. He called it 'Golden Boy.' It was like his child.

This is me drinking out of Golden Boy at church (a very long time ago and with much less hair).

When Mark moved to Utah, he lost Golden Boy on the ski slopes. Then he got a replacement mug that leaked a lot and was generally terrible, but it worked for a while (I'm not sure that one ever earned a name)...until he left it at church in March and we never found it again.  So I went out and bought him a replacement of the original Golden Boy, only this time it was blue, and I gave it to him as a little surprise so he could stop mourning the old mug. He christened this one "Ol' Bluey," despite how many times I protested the name (it's a reference to something on The Simpsons--most things are).

Ol' Bluey lasted us until sometime last week, sadly, when Mark misplaced Ol' Bluey, and this time not only is the mug lost, but the general vicinity in which it was lost is lost on us as well. So I decide that Mark has also lost his travel-mug-owning privileges because we can't afford to spend $50 a year on travel mugs!  But two days ago he texts me this picture while he's out:

This replacement mug was an impulse buy, and impulse buys don't usually work out great for Mark. This is no exception.

The mug doesn't have a screw-on lid so he can't just throw it in his bag and trust it not to spill; the edges of the cup are metal so it scalds his lips when he drinks his tea; the mug isn't insulated so it doesn't stay hot very long; and finally, he has to carry it exactly like that, in this awkward I-can't-relax-my-arm-because-I'm-carrying-a-mug position, which is HILARIOUS. See below, a picture I could barely take because I was laughing so hard at Mark's indignation:

I named this one Tin Man, partly because it's metal and partly because Mark looks as stiff as the Tin Man when he walks around with that awful mug. In short, it only took one day for Mark to hate his new mug.

Today he left the house with his red mug, which you can just glimpse in his hand. The red mug is supposed to be only for lattes (because if the latte mug and the tea mug cross, then the tea tastes like coffee), but desperate times call for desperate measures. 

Happy Wednesday....have a cup of tea!

Monday, September 10, 2012

So, here's something I've been thinking about.

As I was walking home from class today, the subject of this post was all I could think about; in fact I think about it all the time every day. But I never talk to anyone about except for Mark. 

This might be the only time I ever do this, because this is one of my least favorite subjects, and one in which I am not particularly well-versed, and it makes me really nervous and anxious, but I'm going to write about it anyway: politics. 

I am really disappointed with the way it has become acceptable for liberal arts universities to preach a liberal politics like it is the gospel, and to silence, belittle, and mock any dissenting voice.  Last year I had a professor actually say to the class, "anyone who is a conservative has no right pursuing the humanities."  Are you serious?  How is that okay to say?  Has no right?  In my classrooms I have heard Christian universities mocked for the narrow-minded academics they teach, and for some reason it is acceptable to mock them.  Fellow grad students can speak laughingly of a conservative student, dismissing her as if she doesn't really know anything when she tries to defend her Jesus.  Others feel it is their duty to bring as many students over to the side of their politics as possible---it has literally become a kind of conversion.  

I have been unfriended on Facebook by at least four people who "found out"---I'm not even sure how because I have never had one conversation with anyone about it---that I hold largely conservative beliefs.

Mark and I have been the only people intentionally not invited to numerous social gatherings because of our politics and (maybe?) religious beliefs. Rumors have been spread about us. 

A fellow writer emailed us and forbid either of us ever to speak to him/her again, because of our beliefs about marriage.  

There are people in my program who will cross the street before they will pass me on the sidewalk. People who will physically leave a group of people when I join the conversation.

In short, Mark and I have experienced an incredibly disheartening amount of alienation and hostility over the past year, both personally and impersonally, inside and outside of the classroom (do keep in mind that we've also experienced incredible kindness and made really deep friendships that we both cherish. The subject of this post obviously overshadows that fact, but I want to make sure it's stated).  Part of the problem is that some students truly do not realize when they speak that anyone in the room might feel differently; it is unfathomable that a young person pursuing a high academic degree could believe in the words of Jesus Christ, could believe in a sovereign Creator who knows us intimately and longs for us to know Him, to experience the life and freedom He died to give us.


But as much time as I spent feeling like a martyr last year and lamenting what I saw as incredibly undeserved and unfair persecution, I realize a lot of things now.  I realize that scripture gives me no reason to be blindsided by persecution, but rather I should expect it.  I realize that I am the fragrance of Christ, and to some people that smells like death.  I realize that there are many, many groups of people who have been incredibly wounded by something a Christian has said or done, and I never want to be cause for that.  I am burdened by the fact that my credibility as a follower of Christ has been shattered by those who profess to know Him, but practice patterns of disrespect, hatred, and judgment.  I want to demonstrate the incredible riches of God's love and grace. That means that I do not shy away from speaking the truth, but neither do I ever insult or condemn. I pray that my heart is earnest, and humble, and continually broken over this.

I wish that academia were a place that truly practiced open-mindedness, that allowed space for the voices of all beliefs, whether religious, political, economic, whatever, no matter how extreme or incredible they may seem, because what are we accomplishing if we are unwilling to listen to each other? The end goal isn't perfect agreement.  My hope is that we could treat each other like humans, and in the face of disagreement, continue to interact according to standards of dignity and respect. 

I would welcome anyone who has thoughts to share about this, or has dealt with something similar? I hope the true, concerned state of my heart comes across in this post.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

I'm starting a blog!

So recently I've been reading several blogs (and realizing how much I enjoy them), and lamenting the fact that it's nearly impossible to keep in close touch with everyone I want to, and thinking that half the time my Facebook posts/pictures might as well be put in a more "mature" forum. Is this more mature? I'm not sure. But in any case, I'm hoping it will have more substance and give a better glimpse of mine and Mark's life here in Denton. 

I'm also slightly insecure about how to make a blog interesting, seeing as we have neither pets nor kids, and let's face it, the blogs I love are either by people with adorable, awe-inspiring, and chaotic lives devoted to raising children, or are wholly DIY projects and crafts. Alas, this is neither, but I do hope it will be a way for friends and family to get more substantive updates on us.

As of last week:

---School started back up here in Denton, and our lives are radically different than last year. Mark and I are both teaching two classes of freshman composition in addition to taking three classes of our own. 

---I started babysitting for two kids who live about 15 minutes away. I pick Austin up from 4th grade, then half an hour later pick Jessica up from 7th grade, take them home, and help them start their homework until their mom gets home. It is pretty low-key, and totally a provision of God when we were praying for some extra income! Mark is going to watch them two afternoons per week and I will do the other three. 

Other things we've been up to (well, were up to before school started): 

---Moving in to our house! Last year we lived in a one-bedroom apartment---our first place together---and we just loved it, and had such a wonderful year there together. But it wasn't walking distance to campus, and it really didn't have a lot of extra space (at all), so we hunted around this summer, hoping for a house to rent near campus that wouldn't be a complete dump. And honestly, we have been living here for over a month now, but every day when we pray together, one of us expresses our deep, deep gratitude to God for providing this home for us! We are an eight-minute walk from campus, a two-minute walk from our church, and in a quiet, sunny, settled area of town with sidewalks and no smelly dumpsters or Mexican restaurants (which frequently plagued us at our apartment). I've had a great time doing projects, repainting our bedroom furniture, thrifting little items here and there for the house, and seeing Mark put his handyman skills to work on a few different things. Now all we need are VISITORS! My hope is for our home to be open and inviting, and for our friends to feel welcome here anytime! 

---Taking advantage of all the green spaces and parks around Denton for our various early morning sprint workouts. It really makes the town feel like ours. 

---Arrested Development. Mark's been maneuvering me through the first two's pretty funny! 

---Soccer. Mark made the UNT club soccer team! Congrats to him, and I'm super excited to watch him of my very favorite things to do. So if you're Denton people, you should come out to his games and hang out with me and cheer him on! 

And to close out my first blog post, an explanation of the title. When Mark and I were dating long-distance, he once texted me a picture of a snowy field as he was out walking, and the caption read, 'a paradiso wherever we are.' I'm pretty positive I was waiting tables when I got the text, so I was probably about to carry somebody a diet coke or a plate of cheese fries, and just about anything would have seemed terribly romantic and poetic compared to that. But even now, sitting at my kitchen table at dusk on a Sunday evening with my husband in the next room, I still love the phrase...and I think it wonderfully encapsulates how we feel about each other. So that's where it comes from: Mark. And this morning, as we were having tea before church, I said to Mark, "I think I'm going to start a blog." Twenty minutes later, as I was braiding my hair, I said "I'm going to call it 'a paradiso wherever we are.'" He stared blankly at me for a moment, then said, "your braid?" 

So there you have it.