Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lent: A Journey to the Cross

God has shared some really cool things with me this year for Lent. The thing that sticks out to me most is the idea that Lent is not about giving something up, it is about journeying with Christ to the Cross. It is about laying aside the things that keep us from going to the Cross.

Our church had an Ash Wednesday service, and I have never been to an Ash Wednesday service before. It was one of the best church services I've ever been to. We decided we will make it something we do every year. They emphasized that Lent is a choice, not something forced on us by God, where we have the opportunity to take the journey with Christ to the Cross. In the same way that Christ died so that we may live, this is an opportunity we have to die to ourselves, so that others may live.

And so with Lent, we have the opportunity to fast, to give up something in our lives for the sake of knowing Christ better, or to take something on, that helps us to hold on to Christ.

For me, this year Lent represents the death of "The Plan". The plan I had for my life. How I want it to look, my time line, my  hopes, all the earthly things I've been holding onto. I want to release those to God, and instead choose to walk with Him every day. To take what He brings, and hope that He will use this death to bring life to others.

Another really cool thing about the Ash Wednesday service was being marked with the ashes. Again, it is something that I had never done, but as I was waiting to go up and be marked, and was seeing people coming back with the ashes on a cross on their foreheads, I was struck with the visual representation of how we are marked with Christ. How when God looks at me, He doesn't see me, but Christ. And I was overcome with the weight of my sin, and how the 40 days coming up, this journey to the Cross, is necessary because of my sin, but also overwhelmed knowing that it has been paid for, the ashes on my forehead a visual of the fact that I have been covered with Christ, and am now identified with Him.

A few posts about lent that I came across yesterday can be found here and here. At the bottom of the second post was a really cool meditation that I love, by Thomas Merton:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, 
and the fact that I think that I am following your will 
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always, 
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, 
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Also, I listened to this sermon yesterday (this isn't the sermon from our church, but one I found on-line) and it talks about the fasting and feasting of Lent, and I really enjoyed it.

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Fondue V-Day

We may have a new tradition in the Warnick household: fondue for Valentine's Day. It's what we did this year and it was so much fun.

I've always had a bit of mixed feelings towards Valentine's Day. I'm not a fan of cliches or people doing things because they feel obligated. And that's kind of how V-Day has felt to me in the past. At the same time I do love to take the opportunity to let the people I love know that I care about them, and I love Valentine's colors and decorations. So these past couple of years I've embraced V-Day as a day to let people I love know that they are loved, while not having any expectations that anyone has to do anything for me, especially when it comes to Derek (although honestly, he has always done a great job with this day, and does a great job of letting me know how much he loves me the other 364 days of the year, that it's not like I feel that I need him to do anything special, even though he always does).

One thing I am not a fan of is crazy crowded restaurants and with long waits, or special Valentine's Day extra expensive menus at places where you can make a reservation. So, this year, I decided we would do dinner at home, fondue style. My friend Sarah got me a fondue pot for Christmas a few years ago. It was one of those great gifts that I didn't know that I needed and now that I have it, I'm so glad that I do. Here's a little run down of how it all played out. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of the food, but I do have a few fondue recipes, so that will have to do.

Prep work started Monday when I decided what I wanted to make, did my grocery shopping, and bought Derek's gifts. Tuesday, I got home from work and our friend who is also our roommate Keith was there (Keith was supposed to have young life on Tuesday, but they ended up not having it, so we figured that since we love Keith - although not in the same way we love each other - it would be fun to have all 3 of us for dinner.) Derek had to work til about 6:30, so Keith and I took Moose for a walk (Moose is much more enjoyable to be around when he has had his exercise) to the little shopping center in our neighborhood and picked up a movie. When we got back I got to work prepping our appetizer course, the cheese fondue. I don't know it's official name, and I also don't remember where I got the recipe, but here it is:

Cheese Fondue:
8 oz Monterey jack cheese
8 oz Munster cheese
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 cup white wine
2 Tbsp of minced garlic
2 Tbsp Kirsch
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
  • Grate up all of the cheese and combine it in a bowl with the cornstarch. 
  • Add the wine and garlic to the fondue pot and bring to a boil over medium low heat.
  • Slowly add the mixture of cheese into the pot, stirring and allowing it to melt
  • Add in the remaining ingredients and stir
  • Serve with bread, fruit, vegetables or whatever you want
After the first step I realized I only had 1/2 cup of wine left, so I sent Keith out for some more. We were then able to enjoy the rest that we didn't use for the fondue with our appetizer. I just bought a loaf of Ciabatta bread and cut it up into little pieces and that is what we had with our cheese fondue. Derek got home about 5 minutes before it was ready, which was perfect timing and between the 3 of us we consumed nearly all the cheese fondue, the entire loaf of bread and the rest of the bottle of wine. It was delicious and so much fun. Also, I should mention we broke out our fancy china for this occasion, as well as real cloth napkins, which added to the fun.

Everyone helped clean up round one, and between the 3 of us we proceeded to prepare the main course, which consisted of roasting asparagus, making marscapone mashed potatoes and slicing up a large sirloin steak into bite sized pieces so we could cook it in the fondue pot. The recipe for the main course fondue is below:

Sirloin steak (1/3 - 1/2 lb per person)
1 - 14.5 oz can of beef broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sherry
3 green onions, sliced
1 clove of minced garlic
1/4 tsp of ginger
  • Combine all the ingredients in the fondue pot, set to 350 and bring to a boil. 
  • Place bit sized pieces on skewers and cook in boiling broth about 2-3 minutes, depending on how done you want them.
In addition to preparing the main course, I also whipped up a batch of brownies and threw them in the oven so they'd be ready for desert. Once everything was ready, we brought it all into the dining room, sat down at our fancy place settings and proceeded to enjoy our dinner. A fun thing about fondue is that because you have to wait while your food cooks, it is a relaxed meal. It was a lot of fun just sitting around talking and eating at a leisurely pace.

After dinner Derek and I exchanged gifts. I got him some new cologne, which he had been saying he needed (and bonus - I was able to buy it using Macy's gift cards - that stuff is expensive!) and Derek made me a valentine's box filled with candy's and a bunch of Valentines inside of it. I took pictures of it because I was impressed with his creativity. (Excuse the blurriness and poor lighting of the pictures.) It was lots of fun reading through all 32 Valentine's that were inside. 31 of them were from Derek and one was from our pets.I also loved all the little heart doilies all over it.

After this we all cleaned up together. I loved this especially since it went way faster with 3 people. Then I talked to my sister briefly, iced our brownies and topped them with Valentine's M&Ms and we popped in the movie. We watched 50/50 and I cried through probably the last 30 minutes of it, but it was really good.

It was a wonderful way to spend Valentine's day, and as I said before, the fondue was so good, we'll have to make it a yearly tradition. Although I'm thinking that between now and next V-day we should have some friends over and do some friend fondue dinners.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Kitchen Reno: The befores

I mentioned in my New Years Goals post that one of our financial goals is to pay cash for a kitchen update. Pretty much everything in our kitchen is original from when it was built. There's nothing wrong with it, but we would love to update it a little. It's not going to be a quick process, as we are hoping to do a lot of the work ourselves and of course we want to pay cash for it, so we are going to do thing as we have the funds to do them. are a few pictures of what the kitchen looks like now:

So there it is. Clearly I didn't clean it up when I took pictures, but this is pretty much what it looks like most of the time. We like the layout of is, so we're not doing anything too crazy. Here's a little run down of what we would like to do:

  • Replace all appliances
  • Paint the cabinets
  • Take out the cabinets above the stove and install an over-the-range microwave
  • Build a shelf to go over the microwave
  • Hardware on the cabinets
  • New backsplash all around
  • Take out the florescent lights in the main part of the kitchen and replace them with can lights
  • Take out the can lights over the island and replace them with pendants
We'd also like to get new floors, but the kitchen, hallway and family room is all the same floor so whenever we do tackle the floors it will probably be a complete redo of the flooring on our first floor, and will exceed the scope and budget of the kitchen reno. So we'll call the kitchen done once the eight items listed above are completed.

We've already gotten started, so (hopefully) I'll be back soon with an update on how things are coming.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

This Week...

This week started out pretty fun. Derek and I were staying with a couple LCA kids while their parents were out of town. Saturday and Sunday went great. We've stayed with these boys before and they are so easy. We just make sure they get fed and taken wherever they need to go and they're happy.

Then Sunday night came, and I was up most of the night feeling sick to my stomach. Which is one of my least favorite things. I sent poor Derek out on a 3 am run to get me some Sprite to try and calm my stomach. Luckily the Sprite did the trick and I'm pretty sure I was sleeping by 4 am. Not ideal, but at least I didn't get sick, which is always the goal with me.

Well, around 4 pm on Monday, I get a call from Derek saying he is feeling really sick to his stomach. I tell him to go back to our house, rather than the house we're staying at, because I definitely don't want the kids to get sick. Poor Derek spends the evening with the full on stomach bug while I am staying with the kids.  The good news is that Keith is at our house to take care of Derek. Although I felt really guilty not being there, the truth is he was probably better off with Keith, because I don't do throwing up. I am happy to do whatever I can to try and make him feel better, but if he's throwing up, I'm staying where I can't hear it. This is going to be a problem whenever we have kids, but I'll cross that bridge when we get there.

So Monday and Tuesday of this week I was watching the kids myself while Derek was sick/recovering. Throw in full work days and it has been a long week. There are lots of things on my to-do list, but I probably won't get to many of them because we have full weekend planned with my parents coming in town and several other things going on. Of course I would much rather spend the weekend with my parents than crossing things off my to-do list, so I am a very happy camper and can't wait to spend the weekend with them.

So this is what's going on this week. Not the most fun week, but things are looking up and I hope to be back next week with better topics than stomach viruses.