Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend

My mom, sister Julie, and I enjoyed a wonderful three-day weekend together over Memorial Day. We did lots of fun things and laughed a lot, but the highlight, by far, was simply time together. Julie just finished her first year at Azusa Pacific University in southern California and it was a privilege to hear more about the highs and lows of her first year.

This is going to be a picture-highlight blog, but two funny instances from the weekend stand out. First, Julie and I have always been different in big and little ways. On Saturday morning, we had a big breakfast at Petit Chat bakery, so I didn't plan lunch. I figured we'd just snack. Apparently, Julie doesn't snack. My mom and I were all over yogurt, peanut-butter filled pretzels, and toast, but Julie wasn't havin' it. So she got Taco Bell and all was well.

We had the privilege of staying in the house that I'm house-sitting in for a couple weeks. The house and gardens are beautiful--worthy of a Better Homes and Garden feature story--so we really felt like we were staying in a bed and breakfast. The owner of the house has a bunch of birdhouses in the back yard that are all different sizes and shapes. We walked around the garden and identified what all the different bird houses would be if it were a human-like community. We had high rise apartments, a condominium, a fixer-upper, a mansion Downton Abbey style (complete with a guard bird!), suburb houses, a chapel and parsonage, and studio apartments. If this doesn't give you a hint of how big the garden is, I don't know what will. :) We had fun letting our imaginations run wild. Who knows? Maybe Janie's garden will be the setting for the next great children's novel.

Here are some pictures for your viewing enjoyment with a little exposition:

We had a picnic lunch at Manito on Sunday. The weather was beautiful. Because I love food, I have to give you a quick explanation of what we had for lunch: blackberry streussel muffins, open-face sandwiches with mustard, mayo, chicken, cheese, and avocado, and veggies and homemade ranch. Delish!

We took time to walk around Manito, including the Lilac Gardens, Perennial Gardens, Duncan Gardens, Japanese Garden, and the Greenhouse, which has wonderful tropical plants and cacti. The above picture is from the Greenhouse.
Little bright out right by the Spokane river! Not the most flattering picture, but sure funny!

My mom and I rode on the carousel in Riverfront Park. It was my first time and it was so fun!

Here we are going 'round and 'round!

And that's it! We did a lot more over the weekend, but mostly I delighted in being with family. God has been so good to me. Thank you Mom and Julie for coming to visit!
I hope each of you had a blessed Memorial Day weekend!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Spring in Spokane

I have so much to write about, but tonight is just to share some pictures with you to celebrate the beauty of spring in Spokane. All photos were taken in the garden at the house I'll be house-sitting at for three weeks starting this Tuesday or Manito Park on the South Hill.

Happy Spring and Happy Mother's Day to the mothers out there! I am praising God for the beauty of spring and the loving care of my own mother today. I hope you are, too!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Highlights of April/Early May

Wow! I'm so sorry for not posting anything sooner. In light of my procrastination in writing a blog post, I'm going to write up a quick list of highlights from the past couple weeks. I must point out that as I sit down to write this post, I'm also occasionally dipping a Nutter Butter (or two) into a glass of cold milk. It's hot outside, and I have nothing in the house that resembles ice cream (and no desire to drive a mile or two to Froyo), so a glass of cold milk must suffice. I would also like to note that I'm sporting my first mosquito bite of the summer on my left hand. Is this something to brag about?

Here's my list of highlights:

1. My housemates and I all pitched in together to make a Chicken Bacon Spinach Alfredo pizza. I made the alfredo sauce and crust and the whole thing came together rather splendidly. For dessert we had a half-baked cookie with chocolate fudge ice cream, which was incredibly delicious.We also had a ton of fun talking and laughing.

2. My small dinner group from church had the pleasure of going to a Green Bluff farm (Cherry Hill Orchard) where one of the couples in the group lives and works. We had tacos, and I made a delicious pudding parfait dessert with vanilla and chocolate puddings, peanut butter whipped cream and chocolate and Nutter Butter cookie crumbs. The highlight was touring the big red barn out of which cherries are sold in the summer. We climbed up to the cupola at the very top of the barn and got a three-sixty view of the bluff countryside in the dusk. Stunning!

3. Near the end of April, a couple from church invited me to see their two daughters perform in The Music Man at a local high school. This is one of my favorite musicals, and I was in it in high school, so I said YES! We met at Pizza Hut before the performance and enjoyed a lovely time of fellowship with proud parents Samuel and Renee and six others. The performance was delightful and lines of Music Man songs have been playing refrains in my head ever since.

4. On the first Wednesday of each month, I volunteer with my friends Margy and Stella at the Mead Food Bank. Last month, Margy and I went out to dinner with the weekly volunteers and had a great time. Betty, a volunteer, said we could be on the dinner list, which means that if your name comes up on the list, you get to choose where to go to dinner. As soon as I walked in last Wednesday, Betty said, "Elizabeth! It's your choice for dinner!" I couldn't believe I actually got to choose! It wasn't a hard decision. I chose Zip's, a local Spokane fast food joint that I've only visited one time when I was fourteen as my youth group headed through Spokane on a mission trip to British Columbia. We had a wonderful dinner with the food bank volunteers, and I ate a corndog, crinkle fries, and a peanut butter milkshake. Bliss! I was raving about my corn dog so much that Margy said, "You know, you can buy frozen corn dogs at the grocery store." I agreed with her, but told her that I limit my corndog eating to once every six years or so, so I can really eat them with gusto. :)

5. On Friday evening, my friend Heidi and I went to Coeur d'Alene to see a Whitworth music professor debut his second concerto with the Coeur d'Alene symphony. The whole evening was wonderful. Heidi works with Japanese exchange students in town, and I had met her girls once before. I saw three of them while waiting for Heidi and chatted with them about their recent trip to the East Coast. Then Heidi and I drove the 40 minutes to Coeur d'Alene and enjoyed a picnic in a park by the lake. We ate wheat rolls with mustard, mayo, sliced chicken breast, cheese and avocado, cut veggies with homemade buttermilk ranch dressing, orange soda, and a chocolate-peanut butter no-bake cookie from Petit Chat. The concert itself was incredible. Brent Edstrom, Heidi's professor, is a jazz musician, so the piece was mixed jazz and orchestra. It sounds odd, but the pieces worked beautifully together. My favorite movement has some Latin-inspired rhythms and melodies which made it hard to sit still. Probably the best part of the concert, though, was clapping for Brent with pure delight at the end of the concert. He came back on stage three times and played an encore piece because we clapped so hard!

There are other highlights and hard things about the past couple weeks, too, but the stories above are the most delightful and brought me much life and joy. What are your highlights from the past couple weeks?

P.S. Also, I have to tell you that I watched the BBC Miniseries Wives and Daughters this weekend and loved it! I highly recommend it to all those who haven't seen it. It's a lovely story and can generate some good discussion (and maybe even a few good tears).