Saturday, August 31, 2013

Camping Recipe: Campfire Cupcakes!

When I was in 5th grade, I went to a church summer camp with Ward church (called Kid's Camp). During my week away, I learned this yummy recipe that I still make when camping 15 years later! It is easy, and every time I make it, I am always surprised that it works!  It is a fun dessert alternative to your traditional (but always yummy) s'more.

What you need:
• Cake mix
• Eggs
• Oil
• Oranges
• Water
• Tin foil

How to:
- Start by cutting off the top of an orange and pitting the inside (no need to clean perfectly, the orange will bake off into the cake, and it is very yummy!)

- Next, mix your cake batter as indicated on the cake mix box (I did this in a ziplock gallon bag)

- Pour the mixed cake batter into the orange, filling the orange two-thirds full (the batter will rise like normal cupcakes)

- Wrap in tin foil and place in the coals of the fire (the peel may char a bit, but the cake will be okay)

- Let the cake sit in the coals for about 15 minutes and then check its progress (continue baking, if needed)

- Carefully unwrap the tin foil and enjoy your orange zest campfire cupcakes!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Spartan Football

To celebrate the start of college football this weekend, I am throwing back to a Spartan Football game that I went to with my MSU girlfriends last year.  It was great to have almost all of us back together, and I would certainly consider flying in if there was a round 2 this year!

Although not all of us made it to the game (wink, wink, Elizabeth!), it was wonderful to catch up, let loose, and celebrate the Spartans.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Taking the Plunge!

Last Wednesday, John and I were baptized at NorthRidge’s New Life service. They did the first ever outdoor baptism and baptized more people at one time than they ever had before. It was a wonderful celebration, and we were so thankful that we got to be part of it before we moved.

What’s the importance of being Baptized?

The word “baptize” means “to immerse or dip under water.” Water baptism by immersion is public display of obedience in following Christ’s example for His baptism (Matthew 3:16). Baptism does not make you a believer – it shows that you already believe. Baptism does not “save” you – only your faith in Christ does that. Baptism is like a wedding ring – it’s the outward symbol of the commitment that you have made in your heart.” For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
- See more at:

What’s the importance of being Baptized?

The word “baptize” means “to immerse or dip under water.” Water baptism by immersion is public display of obedience in following Christ’s example for His baptism (Matthew 3:16). Baptism does not make you a believer – it shows that you already believe. Baptism does not “save” you – only your faith in Christ does that. Baptism is like a wedding ring – it’s the outward symbol of the commitment that you have made in your heart.” For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
- See more at:
What's the importance of being Baptized?

Baptism is a public statement about your relationship with Jesus.

The word “baptize” means “to immerse or dip under water.” Water baptism by immersion is public display of obedience in following Christ’s example for His baptism (Matthew 3:16). Baptism does not make you a believer... it shows that you already believe. Baptism does not “save” you, only your faith in Christ does that. Baptism is like a wedding ring, it’s the outward symbol of the commitment that you have made in your heart. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:8-9
he word “baptize” means “to immerse or dip under water.” Water baptism by immersion is public display of - See more at:

The word “baptize” means “to immerse or dip under water.” Water baptism by immersion is public display of obedience in following Christ’s example for His baptism (Matthew 3:16). Baptism does not make you a believer – it shows that you already believe. Baptism does not “save” you – only your faith in Christ does that. Baptism is like a wedding ring – it’s the outward symbol of the commitment that you have made in your heart.” For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 - See more at:

Romans 6:4, We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Camping Recipes: Pizza Pockets!

When I was younger, my family would go camping several times each summer. At the time, I wasn't in love with camping (I would have much rather been glamping! Sorry, Real Housewives reference...). One thing I did love, though (and still do), is all of the yummy camping food that you get to make over the fire. One of my favorites is pizza pockets!

What you need:

- Butter
- Bread
- Pizza sauce
- Pepperonis (or desired toppings)
- Shredded cheese
- Camp cooker (also known as a pie iron)

How to:

1. Start by buttering the side of the bread that will be touching the pie iron
2. Then, add pepperonis, or whatever toppings you would like, to one of the pieces of bread
3. On the same piece of bread, add shredded cheese
4. Add your desired amount of pizza sauce
5. Next, add the second piece of bread on top (buttered on the side that touches the iron), and close the pie iron and place into the camp fire, alternating the sides exposed to the heat
6. After several minutes on each side, take a little peek to see if the bread is toasted to your liking; if not, continue to cook

Finally, enjoy! But be careful... the first bite will be very hot!

Monday, August 26, 2013


We made it!!

The last 5 hours of driving went by painfully slow, but sure enough, here we are in one piece.

Driving through Texas was enjoyable.  I like the vibes that the state gives off - the whole wanting to secede from the USofA shows some real panache! And I like the shape of the state.  Throughout the drive there were 4 radio stations, 3 of which were in Spanish... And the 4th? You guessed it... K-Love!

We are incredibly happy that we (and our furry friends) made it here alive.  We have movers coming later this morning to unload all of our things and Scout will be at puppy daycare, so hopefully we will get a chance to unpack the essentials.

I asked John if the water was drinkable here... He said he was 95% sure (not good enough for me, I will call on it in the morning!).

Until then, adios amigos! (Look how New Mexican I am already.)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

2/3rds of the way...

Wow - Oklahoma is probably the worst state ever, just saying.

They have tolls in the most obscure places... For residents this isn't an issue because they have a "Pike Pass" (which allows them to drive through at full speed) but for everyone else, it requires you pull over on the side the of the freeway to pay, and then merge back into traffic.  This would not be as large of an issue if we didn't have a massively large caravan.  They key to survival is to have no shame.

Also, these tolls do not have people at them - they are buckets that you throw change in... Yes, change.  Apparently they assume people carry a piggy bank with them.  (This is how ridiculous it is) I missed my exit, so I got off the free way to turn around - I had to pay a toll to get off, turn around, and a toll to get back on! I ran out of money! Also, there were two which happened to have a person at them so I had to write them two separate  checks to cover the $4 tolls.

After paying (what was in John's opinion) more tolls than necessary and also running a few, we got to one were the coin machine didn't even work (yet of course when you run the toll the alarm still worked perfectly). Ahh! We already decided we are not going to ever come back (this was semi disappointing  as I loved the movie Twister and have always wanted to chase tornados).

Anyway, we are (only) 455 miles from Albuquerque...! The trip is not going that bad, and as long as Scout can not freak out until we get within an hour of getting there, we should be on good shape! No flat tires, no bad weather, no broken timing belts... Just a few whiney animals, so I'm not going to complain (aside from the nonsensical tolls... John said he was just going to blow through them and throw money out the window in protest).

Saturday, August 24, 2013

1/3rd of the way

Yesterday, John and I started our journey to New Mexico.  We made it to Cuba, Missouri before we called it the night.  We didn't get as far as we had hoped, but considering we were going about 55mph the whole way, we made pretty good time (but mostly we just wanted to spend the night in Cuba... Yeah, I've been to Cuba).

John and I like to consider ourselves foodies, and when we travel we like to sample the local cuisine.  We had lunch at DQ and dinner at Taco Bell.  Taco Bells in Missouri have great cinnamon twists.

Sweet little Shadow, Winnie, and Scout travel better than I expected (however, the bar was pretty low).  Either way, they are still alive (despite the look of Winnie's eyes on the sedatives) and enjoyed their first night in a hotel room.

I bought a pair of Keens the day before we left, and they make me feel super road-trip-y.  So that's nice! 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Saying Goodbye

Today is the day...! John and I are currently on the road heading towards New Mexico. It is a 24 hour drive and we hope to complete it in a solid two days. I haven't driven this far before, but I have a feeling that our sweet little pets will keep me motivated to get there.

Our move is bittersweet. Sweet because John will be starting his job, and we can begin establishing a life routine, but bitter because we will be leaving all familiarity behind. The past few weeks have been full of last minute goodbyes with close friends. John and I have built some very close friendships during our time in Ann Arbor, and we will most certainly miss them when we leave. I posted some tearful good-byes below.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Last Small Group

Today was my last small group with the girls at NorthRidge… and I will miss them so, so much. We have grown close over the past several studies, and it was very difficult to know that this was my last one with them.

Priscilla Shirer’s book on Gideon was the perfect last study for me – it was exactly what I needed, and it has impacted me in the exact way that I needed. I am pretty sure Priscilla knew I was leaving Michigan and made sure to publish this study just in the nick of time. :)

Below I captured some of my most significant #LessonsfromGideon.

- If we are constantly anticipating a grandiose event to accompany the times when we encounter God or hear His voice, we will miss out on many intimate moments in our relationship with God
- Today's tasks, even the most mundane of them, are often preparing us for tomorrow's calling (sometimes we prematurely pursue the mission to which we've been called and forgo the critical groundwork of learning about and walking in our God-given spiritual identity)
- Our weaknesses are the conduits through which we experience God's strength (don't concentrate on the disparity between the problem and your resources - look to God, and watch five loaves plus two fish equal more than enough... your resources are in your relationship with Christ)

2 Corinthians 12:9-10
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Hocking Hills

This past weekend John and I shared a final midwestern goodbye with Jameson and Val.  The four of us went camping for the weekend at Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio.  The weather was perfect, and aside from a minor incident with a hungry raccoon, everything went exactly according to plan.  It was a wonderful weekend away, and we are already planning our next couples' get away!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Taste of Autumn

If I did not know any better, I would have thought that it was early October this morning. I know that it is not even mid-August quite yet, but I cannot help but let myself be tricked into thinking that autumn is starting! Since I will soon be relocating to New Mexico to restart summer all over again, I wanted to soak up a little bit of fall (even if premature).

To celebrate my fall morning, I treated myself to a pre-work Chai latte (hot, not iced). I also went hunting for trees that had already started to change colors, and I sang the Michigan State fight song (ya know, like when tailgating).

Monday, August 12, 2013

Pre-camping planning BBQ

This coming weekend, John and I will be going camping with our friends Jameson and Val at Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio. Although my husband (being a Michigan alum) despises Ohio, the current series of talks at our church feature an intro video filmed at Hocking Hills, and it looks like a beautiful place to go (waterfalls, caves, etc.).

Yesterday we had a little planning barbeque to go over who is bringing what, etc. John and I are trying to soak up some last minute Midwest gems before leaving for the Southwest!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

DIY: no sew ottoman

This DIY ottoman is an easy and inexpensive way to add an accent piece of furniture to any room. And for non-DIYers, no fear... I am fairly certain this cannot be messed up!

What you'll need:
1. a base for the ottoman (I used the top of a Lack side table from Ikea)
2. foam to cover the base (for a thicker ottoman, use a thicker foam; purchased from JoAnns)
3. furniture legs (I purchased mine from Home Depot)
4. fabric to cover the foam and base

5. a staple gun and staples

How to:
- Start by trimming your foam to fit your ottoman base (I used a bread knife).
- Once your foam is the same size as the ottoman base, cover with fabric. If you are using a fabric with a print, make sure that the print is even and centered on the ottoman.

- Start by stapling the sides of the fabric under the base of the table. Make sure you pull the fabric tight to get a firm look. I pulled my fabric tight enough to round the square edges of the foam.

- After stapling the sides, smooth the fabric before stapling the corners. When stapling the corners, take care to leave room to attach the ottoman's legs.
- Once the fabric is attached to the base, cut off the extra and attach the legs. Since I used the top of Lack table from Ikea, there were already premade holes to attach legs. Instead of attaching the legs that came with the table, I attached furniture legs from Home Depot.

- Add little felt bottoms to the legs to make sure they do not scratch your floors, and enjoy your new ottoman!

Fun ideas:
- Use outdoor fabric and keep on a patio... it would be perfect with an Adirondack chair.
- Instead of covering a side table, cover a larger coffee table for the center of the room.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A weekend in the Windy City

My family and I are originally from Minnesota, and my parents recently moved back to Minneapolis so that they could be closer to family. Since their move, I haven't had many chances to see them, so this past weekend I met my mom, aunt and cousin in Chicago for a few days of shopping, yummy food, and Lake Michigan.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sweet Little Hyundai Santa Fe

Recently, my parents very generously offered John and me to trade cars with them. I had been driving a Hyundai Santa Fe which, when maintained properly, runs great. However, I am not equipped with the skills to be able to monitor the car as needed. Because of this, they offered me their car in exchange for the Hyundai. Although the Hyundai left me stranded many times, it certainly taught me a lot about how to manage car related, stressful situations. I thought I would share a few of my “favorite” character building moments.

So, one of the first times this car had an issue I was driving to work and was on the freeway when the car suddenly jolted (about throwing me out of the window) and the engine revved very high. Worriedly, I called my dad who suggested I put the car into neutral to see if the RPMs would go down when the car was not in gear. Never having put the car in neutral before when driving, I accidently shifted the car one gear too far into reverse (keep in mind I am driving on the freeway). The car, obviously, screeched to a halt - faster than I ever thought possible. At this moment, I was sitting in the left lane with my car completely stopped and turned off. I was scared to turn the car on because I didn’t want it to blow up, but my dad finally convinced me to turn it on. Thankfully, it turned on and I drove away as if nothing happened. Everything was ok. Fin.

One time I was going through the drive through at Wendy’s, and I put in my order and went to turn the corner to go pick up my food, but as soon as I tried to turn, my power steering went out and I could not make the turn tight enough to get to the window. I drove away without my food and drove home without power steering. Everything was ok. Fin.

This other time I had been having issues with my brakes. Every time I would slow down the brakes would go “thunk-thunk-thunk” until I came to a complete stop. I called my dad who then came to come get the car to look at the brakes. While he was driving the car away, the brakes basically failed and he was stranded on the side of the road. John and I went to pick him up. Everything was ok. Fin.

One time I was driving to work on the freeway and the exit I got off on had a stop light. At the stop light, my car turned off and would not turn back on. Of course it was rush hour and people for some reason have serious issues seeing emergency blinkers and continued to drive up behind me and honk their horn as if I was purposely not driving away at the green light. After about 20 minutes of this, I was so irritated that people kept honking their horns that I just about got out of my car to personally direct these people and traffic around my car. Finally two very nice people that I worked with pushed my car across the intersection into a parking lot. It took me a few hours to calm down, but everything was ok. Fin.

This other time I was driving home from work on the freeway and passed a brand new minivan and I thought to myself, “I would never drive a minivan. In fact, I would rather have an old beat up car than a new minivan.” I continued this thought even further as I decided to call my husband and tell him this. As I was telling him this, the car jolted and would no longer accelerate. Super annoying. I pulled over on the freeway and waited for a tow truck to come get me. Everything was ok. Fin.

Shortly (meaning 5 minutes) after the car was repaired from the above incident, I got on the freeway and same exact thing happened again. I mean, I had not even gone 5 miles after getting the car back, and I was stranded again. Another tow truck came (it was the same driver too – we were good friends by this point). Everything was ok. Fin.

One time my husband was driving the car to go fly fishing in the middle of nowhere with a friend. After getting there, the car wouldn’t turn on. A tow truck came. Everything was ok. Fin.

Shortly (meaning 3 hours) after the car was repaired from the above incident, John tried to go fly fishing again and the car turned off in the middle of a busy intersection. He sat there and waited for the police until someone helped him push the car out of the intersection and into a park. The police finally showed up and told him he wasn’t allowed to park in the park… really?? A tow truck came. Everything was ok. Fin.

This other time, I was trying to go to work and the driver side door would not unlock. I then decided that this didn’t have to be a problem and I would unlock the car from the passenger side. Except, even the passenger side door would re-lock as soon as I unlocked it (not allowing me to get into the car). Keep in mind this was at 7 AM, and I was very frustrated because my parking pass for work was in this car. So I woke John up and in my go-mode, requested that he make my car unlock for me. He finally got the passenger side to unlock but could not unlock the driver’s side door even from the inside. He suggested I climb over the seats to get into the driver’s seat. I think not. I grabbed my parking pass and took a different car. Everything was ok. Fin.

Listed above are just a few of many adventures with this car. I didn’t even get into the time I was stranded at 7-11 or when my brake fluid completely leaked out of my car, or the fact that I had to pour oil into the car every week or so (or the fact that the radio is louder outside of the car than inside, or the very-difficult-to-turn-off panic button). Although in the moment these were all extremely stressful situations, I can now say that I know what to do if my car stops running in the middle of an intersection or freeway. And that’s what matters, right?

Below you will find a few pictures of my stranded moments (I needed something to do while waiting hours for the tow truck…). I edited the photos to make these moments look more beautifully glamorous.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Go West or Bust

Most of our friends and family already know, but in mid-August, John and I will be moving to New Mexico. John was offered a position in the Corporate Transactions group of a firm in Albuquerque and he will be starting in early September.

The job search process was grueling, and we are very thankful that he was able to find a job to start directly after taking the bar exam. Many of his friends and classmates do not have anything lined up yet, and it is quite a reality check as to how the legal economy is still struggling. Recently, a few top firms in New York pulled their offers to many of their starting associates because they did not have enough work for everyone. Some of John’s other friends will not be able to start their positions until January (and will basically hang out until then). So we certainly recognize how blessed we are.

When we first accepted the job offer in New Mexico, we were thankful to have something, but were somewhat disappointed with the circumstances. John went to a top 10 law school and had a scholarship… one would assume that there would be more opportunities available – that we would have our pick of jobs, perhaps. Instead, he had one offer at a firm in a small market. Why did God not give John a job that he really wanted? Why was God going to make us move all the way across the country to a strange place that we knew nothing about – when our hearts wanted something much different? We felt let down, forgotten about, and confused. Didn’t God know that we wanted to do BIG things for Him? And how were we supposed to do that in New Mexico, of all places?

After much prayer, God is beginning to slowly change our hearts toward the move and New Mexico. Although our circumstances have not changed, and we still would rather be located almost anywhere else, our hearts have grown to understand a bit more about what is going on.

As humans, we tend to rely on (what we think are) our own strengths and abilities to get things done. For example, John was accepted into a top law school on scholarship because he worked extremely hard studying for the LSAT, got a killer score, had a good undergraduate GPA, etc., right? Well sort of… He did do all of those things, but did them with the gifts that God gave him. I think that the latter portion is often forgotten about. If John would have had his pick of jobs, it would have appeared to be just a natural result of John’s hard work – the fruits of his labor, per se.

However, New Mexico was the place that God was sending us. (And we know He is sending us because we certainly didn’t pick to go there.) Had we been offered a position at a firm in Florida, it would have been great – exactly what we wanted, even. But we would have not been able to see God though the process. Our fingerprints would have been all over the plan, and unfortunately, God would have been blurred out.

A perfect Biblical illustration of this concept is in the story of Gideon (the same thing I am studying in my small group – coincidence? Unlikely…). Long story short, God directed Gideon to battle the Midianites. Gideon started with 32,000 troops, and with 32,000 troops they were still outnumbered by the enemy. Despite already being outnumbered, God sent most of the soldiers home, leaving only 300. This gave the Israelites a 1:450 disadvantage against the Midianites. God knew that the Israelites had such a strong tendency to take credit for all of God’s work that He had to make the circumstances so unthinkable that the only explanation for a winning outcome could be God.

Feeling confident that God is sending us to New Mexico makes going there much easier – exciting even. He obviously wants us there for a reason, right? Otherwise He would have let us go to Florida. Whatever comes out of New Mexico will be completely God given… our finger prints won’t be anywhere, that’s for sure.

John and I have learned many lessons through this process. Perhaps most importantly, we know that God has a plan for our lives. He is not going to let us go through life haphazardly… He wants to groom us and make us alert of Him to better serve Him. Also, we need to learn to listen to God. We cannot work for God effectively if we are not in tune with Him or deaf to what He is saying. We would have not heard God’s voice to take the job in New Mexico had we had any other job offers distracting us. Lastly, God is the provider… Not us. No matter how hard John and I work, everything we have is a gift from God – not a result of our labor.

Throwback Thursday: South Africa

Recently, I met up with my good friend from college, Emily.  She is currently living in DC, but came home for a summer visit, and I was thankful that she was able to squeeze me in for a dinner in Ann Arbor!  

She and I met in South Africa, and we became fast friends.  We were both exchange students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.  There were 13 Michigan State students studying abroad there, and we all lived together off campus (99 Manning Road, I believe)... We would joke it was a real-life version of the MTV's The Real World.

Anyway, we ended up going to dinner at Sava's and it was great to have some time to catch up!

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