Friday, September 22, 2006

Mary on the Hill

Whenever Mary's in the news I just have to write about it! She was on the Hill this week endorsing a new magazine from the NIH. The mag “provides unbiased information about the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and research of common diseases to a wide audience.” Sounds good to me!

It’s too bad I heard about this after the fact, because if I had known she was in town, I would have metro’d on over to the Hill to catch a glimpse of Mary.

‘Cause I’m a Mary Tyler Moore stalker (just in case you couldn’t tell from my Minneapolis pics).

Growing up, my family watched a lot of Nick at Nite and around the age of 10, I fell in love with the DVD and MTM shows. I used to flip through the new TV Guide each week to make sure I caught every show/movie/infomercial that she might be on. And then in the 90’s Mary came to my hometown which just added to the obsession (and I got her autograph – woohoo!). When her autobiography came out, just about every family member and friend bought me a copy. Each person was so proud that they had found me the perfect gift that I didn’t have the heart to tell them I already had 8 copies at home!

Several years ago, my grandmother was a guest on the Rosie O’Donnell Show, and I prayed and prayed that Mary would be the star guest that day. I had these dreams of being backstage with G-ma and Mary sitting right next to us getting their makeup done. Unfortunately, I got stuck with Jason Priestly and Chita Rivera, but they both rock too and Chita is way up there on my list of fav stars! So it was all good!

Since being you know, an adult, I decided my obsession/stalking should calm down a bit. And it has for the most part. Not to worry though, I have friends who do the stalking for me. :)

This is Andrew last spring on a visit to New York. He saw a sign for a Broadway Barks auction hosted by MTM, so he headed over and took this lovely picture. Mary is on stage with Bernadette Peters. I have great friends!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

DC Life

As Alan and I stood outside of the office today trying to decide what to eat for lunch, our conversation went something like this:

“Which way are you going?” Alan asks.

“I’m going to the right.” I say.

“I’m going to the left.” says Alan.

“Okay, see you back at the office!”

As Alan headed for the Breadline and I headed toward Potbelly’s, we both looked back at each other and laughed. Even in choosing where to eat lunch, we just can’t seem to get past our political affiliations.

"Would you please serve us by serving somewhere else!"

I have a feeling this phrase will catch on better than Donald Trump’s “You’re Fired!”

Oh how I love Sovereign Grace Ministries! These guys just crack me up (and man can they bring the truth!) CJ Mahaney rocks! My friends and I joke (although maybe we shouldn’t joke about these things) that first we asked Jesus into our hearts and then we asked CJ in. The man can preach it like no one else, and he always points the listener/reader back to the gospel. If you’ve never read The Cross Centered Life I highly recommend it.

So back to the funniness: According to Tim Challies’ website, it looks like CJ is looking for a new successor.

Here’s an excerpt from Challies’ blog:

Gaithersburg, MD - From Sovereign Grace Ministries, based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, comes news of an exciting new competition. Throughout the Fall, Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) will travel the length and width of America, visiting malls and megachurches across the nation seeking The Successor®.

Find the rest of this hysterical post here:

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I could write about road trips forever.

Some more road trip thoughts:

1. It's fun to have a theme. The theme of this summer's trip was America A-Z. We didn't get all crazy and go through the alphabet in order, but we made sure we visited a site beginning with each letter. We had to make up an "X" ourselves, but the other 25 letters worked out great!

2. Take along a mascot. The gnome is way to0 over done. Sock puppets are fun and you can make them yourself! Baked goods work too! The soda bread is durable and easy to travel with. Your pastor's first born child is also fun for photo ops, but he needs to be returned to the parents eventually! For this recent trip, we took my co-worker's Geico gecko bobblehead because the little guy really wanted to see the states. Unfortunately, we only let him out of the car once!

3. Get the National Park Passport. No, I'm not talking about the Park pass (which is necessary in its own way). I'm talking about the passport which you can fill with stamps for each national park or national historic site that you visit. These are so much fun and years down the road you'll have a record of the exact date you visited the park. I highly recommend these for kids (I know my future chillins will have them). I've seen many a kid running for the stamp pad at the visitor's center, and the passports are also very educational with info. on each of the parks specifically and info. on what each region of the U.S has to offer.

4. Go on a road trip as soon as you can! Go with your friends, go with your family, go with anyone who seems normal and will help you pay for gas! The U.S. has so much to offer and is very accessible. And if you haven't seen much of it, you'd be amazed at how different it is from coast to coast. So get out there and have a look for yourself :)

For BooMama's road tripping pleasure:

Thanks to BooMama’s question, and the fact that my roommate and I just got back from a road trip, I decided to post some road tripping tips that worked for me and Liz. This post relates specifically to in-the-car entertainment. Later in the week, I may post some more advice about must see places, churches to visit, road trip themes (A-Z?) picking the perfect road trip mascot, etc.

But for now, here's the entertainment adivce. Super important tip #1: Plan Ahead!!! Don’t just hop in the car with your CDs or iPod and think the music you brought will last you for the whole trip. Trust me – even your favorite artists will begin to bore you. We drove close to 6000 miles, and at an average of 60 mph (drove faster than that but I like the simple math thing) that’s 100 hours in the car! That’s a heck of a lot of music. That being said, along with our typical musical favs (mostly contemporary Christian stuff) Liz and I decided to listen to music specific to the areas we visited. And let me just say – it made the trip so much more fun!!

Once we came up with our list of songs, we decided we should establish some road trip music playing policies and procedures. First, we needed to elect a Road Trip DJ. I nominated Liz and she seconded the motion. She was voted into the position 2-0. Yay for Liz! We then came up with the follow P&P’s:

The Road Trip DJ position requires agility and skill. Study playlist prior to trip. Songs about TN (for example) can be played in another state, but DJ must be prepared to switch to the state specific song as state line is crossed.

Play site specific song as you approach destination. This increases anticipation and creates potential for silliness. Play site specific song with windows open while cruising by/through said site. Sing along loudly. Passing cars may honk. This causes more silliness.

Do not attempt to play the role of both DJ and driver.

These P&P’s worked perfectly for us, even though we missed the teeny weeny “Welcome to Colorado” sign on Interstate 25. Oops! My apologies to John Denver.

So here’s our song list (in no particular order):

Graceland – Paul Simon
Walkin in Memphis – Mark Cohn
Nashville – Indigo Girls
Rocky Top – Every country star ever to exist sings this song, but I love the Dolly version.
Rocky Mountain High – John Denver
Toledo – John Denver (this song’s hysterical!)
Viva Las Vegas – Elvis
Leavin Las Vegas - Sheryl Crow
Everyday is a Winding Road – Sheryl Crow
These Thousand Hills – Third Day (Cause we figured we’d see a thousand hills, ya know?)
Wide Open Spaces – Dixie Chicks (For driving across TX, OK, UT, AZ)
Lubbock or Leave It – Dixie Chicks (Texas)
Yellow Rose of Texas – we chose the Elvis Presley version
Climb Every Mountain – The Sound of Music (great for crossing the Rocky’s)
There is no Arizona – Jamie O’Neal (we were able to find it)
Midnight Train to Georgia – Indigo Girls (can be played even though not traveling by train)
Philadelphia Freedom – Elton John
Chicago - Sufjan Stevens (you must listen to this guy if you never have before!)
Gary Indiana (from the Music Man)
Oklahoma (from the musical)
Take me home country roads – John Denver (for the drive home)
Jackson – June and Johnny (seems to be a Jackson in just about every state!)
Dust in the Wind - Kansas (play when you see the “Beware of Dust Storm” signs in Utah. Don’t play it in Kansas)
Proud to be an American (God Bless the USA) – Lee Greenwood (play anywhere, but good for those states for which you have no other song)
Everywhere – Fleetwood Mac (to be played everywhere)

Oh - and it's ok to make up your own songs along the way, especially for states where fun songs don't exist. I wrote a little diddy about Wiscon sin(ning) (to the tune of "What did Dela-ware?"). In case you're wondering how it turns out, Wiscon's sins are forgiven.

FYI - These songs will become stale while on a two week road trip. Bring lots of Chris Tomlin, Dave Crowder, Third Day, Matt Redman, Charlie Hall, Watermark and Passion type music. Oh - and it never hurts to pop in the Backstreet Boys to mix things up.

One more tip – download lots of sermons. Many churches now have them on their websites. You can have a mini worship service right in your car! Play a few songs, listen to a sermon, then play a few more. But don't attempt to raise hands or pray (with eyes closed) while driving.

And one final tip – books on tape are great too. We listened to several, but we both really loved John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley. It’s about Steinbeck’s trip across America with his dog Charley in the 60’s. The perfect road trip book!

That's it for today's road trip fun. I bummed that I missed yesterday's Oprah episode. Guess that's what reruns are for :)

Friday, September 15, 2006

For the love of Spinach

Today’s news has brought a tear to my eye but also created a flutter of praise in my heart to the Lord. Let me explain. First of all, I love spinach and I generally buy the kind in a bag since it’s more fun that way and between Giant and Safeway, one of them has it on sale. Second, I have a favorite sandwich from the cafeteria at work that I tend to eat everyday (by the way – our cafeteria was named the best cafeteria among DC government agencies although I can’t seem to find the article). Anywho, the sandwich is a wrap with ranch dressing, spinach, chicken, provolone cheese, and bacon (although lately I’ve been ordering it without the bacon because I’m going through a “God doesn’t like pigs so I don’t either” phase. I have to come up with a good biblical reason for the decisions that I make).
All that to say that last week I was struck with this bright idea: Why not buy some wraps, spinach, chicken and cheese (I’ve got the ranch dressing), and make my own wraps at home to take to work. I’ve been convicted lately about eating out and spending too much money on food, so this seemed like a step in the right direction. This weekend I headed to the grocery store to buy my ingredients to prepare my lunches for the upcoming week. Well, I got to the Giant and bagged spinach was not on sale. I almost bought a bag anyway, but then I remembered the times I found myself at home on a Friday night eating handfuls of spinach (which I really don’t mind) just so I wouldn’t waste half of the bag I’d bought earlier that week.

As all this was going through my head, I realized I could just get a few tongfuls of spinach off the salad bar. Brilliant idea! That way, I probably wouldn’t waste any, and since spinach weighs next to nothing, the salad bar spinach costs next to nothing as well.

The plan worked out perfectly. Mon-Thurs (today I went to Subway for some sweet onion chicken teriyaki yumminess) I had my chicken/spinach/ranch wrap and it turned out pretty good. I do miss my walks with Alan to the cafeteria though. Then the news came on this morning. Don’t eat bagged spinach! Throw it out, burn it, bury it in the back yard! When I heard the news I recalled my visit to the grocery store this past weekend. Was the Lord ever looking after me! He gave me the brilliant salad bar spinach idea so I wouldn’t be sitting here today thinking I have e.coli. Just a reminder that he cares about even the simplest aspects of our life right down to the kind of spinach we buy. Now I just have to pray that the bacteria didn’t make its way into the pre-packaged sugar snap peas. Ever since I convinced myself that sugar snap peas really = brownie mix, I consume about 2 Ready Pac’s a week.

Back to spinach - When the country’s spinach is back in full operating order, here is a great recipe for spinach artichoke dip, brought to you by the etiquette girls:

1 can artichoke hearts (not the marinated kind, the ones packed in water), drainedMayonnaise (regular Hellmann's, not the low-fat/ low-cal kind)1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice2 cloves garlic, crushed 1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese (or a parmesan/ mozzarella/ provolone blend, which you can buy premixed at the grocer's!)1/2 package chopped spinach (optional)Crusty bread and/ or Carr's crackers

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Chop artichoke hearts in the Cuisinart, or mash them up with the back of a fork. Don't chop them too finely--it's better if the dip has some Fairly Sizable Artichoke Chunks in it.

Place artichokes in bowl; mix in 2 or 3 Good Dollops of mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic, cheese, and spinach (if using). Is the dip creamy? If not, add more mayo.

Turn into a small casserole dish. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until dip is bubbly, and golden-brown around the edges.

Serve with crackers and/ or bread.

From the lakes of Minnesota, to the hills of Tennessee, across the plains of Texas, from sea to shining sea (almost).

I wonder if Lee Greenwood has actually seen all the places he sings about? Well now I have!

My roommate Liz and I have just returned from our “road trip/survey of the states/A-Z tour of America/visiting all those friends out there” vacation. And what a vacation it was! The whole thing went off without a hitch! Well, before we left I did have to take the long route to the gas station, and then drive up and down Stafford St. a couple of times before pulling back into the driveway, but you know what the outcome was? An odometer smack on 65,000 miles! Woohoo! How’s that for a great way to kick off a road trip! Makes adding up the mileage pretty durn easy. When we left I casually said to Liz, "Oh look, we're starting off right on 65,000." It wasn't until the next day that she caught on and asked me how many times I'd driven around the block:)

Now let me just tell you… the Ford Escort was a trooper. I’ll admit, I’ve been contemplating a new car for a while, so one reason for the trip was to let the Escort go out with a bang. And if that were to happen literally, we did have a backup plan: Car breaks down. Leave on side of road in middle of Utah. Hitchhike to nearest BMW dealership. Buy the dark blue 325i with grey interior and integrated Ipod hookup. Drive on.

Alas, the plan was never put into action and I’m now more in love with my little Escort than I was before the trip started.

So back to the trip. In two weeks we visited 19 states: Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee. It’s funny to me that we saw so much of the U.S. and still only visited 19 of the 50 states. Some of the highlights: seeing Brian in Madison, WI, the Mary Tyler Moore statue in Minneapolis, visiting Danica in SD, Emeril’s restaurant in Vegas, the Grand Canyon, four corners, Arches National Park. But the all time superstar highlight of the trip: The Grand Ole Opry! Hands down best three hours I’ve spent in a long time! I’m a fan of country music, but the thing that got me was how many of the artists pulled out some good old gospel tunes. That’s all I grew up with! Until I discovered Paula Abdul in the fifth grade, I didn’t really know any artists existed other than the Gaithers, the Kingsmen, and the Cathedrals. So, if you haven’t visited the Opry, I highly recommend it.

Oh – I’d also like to add that our trip was sponsored by Priceline and Hotwire. Let me just say that we were able to stay in some fancy pants hotels for some Days Inn prices. The Millennium in Minneapolis, The Pines Lodge in Beaver Creek, CO and The Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville to name a few. If you’re planning to stay somewhere for just a night, definitely check out these sites. If you pick something 3-star and above, it’s unlikely you’ll be too upset with the outcome. And how fun it was to wait the 5 seconds for the confirmation to come back with our hotel name!! It provided that extra bit of joy one needs after driving 600 miles!

On Monday night we pulled back into the driveway with the odemeter at 70,876 miles! We drove an entire 5,876 miles! (see - if we'd started out at something like 64, 397, there's no way I would have been able to figure out how far we'd gone)! My wackiness paid off.

I've decided I'm ok with putting my face out there for all to see, so here's a link to some road trip pics: