The Mark of a Good Character

I first saw the movie Mona Lisa Smile when is was about 13 years old, mom was watching it, and I was sitting on the floor with my nose in a book (what else is new?)…I remember not really paying much attention to the movie back then but that there was one character in particular that stood out to me, and that my odd, nerdy, 13 year old self was able to identify with…Connie Baker, played by Ginnifer Goodwin (Once Upon a Time’s Snow White/Mary Margaret).

Connie is a somewhat awkward character who clearly has (though it’s never stated outright) some self-esteem issues, is introverted, and relies very heavily on the opinion of her friends played by Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

That was me to a T…still is sometimes. I’m still kind of nerdy and introverted…and sometimes have a low opinion of myself, and put too much stock in to what people think of me, even though I know that I shouldn’t.

Watching it now as an adult and understanding more of the content of the film, I still identify with Connie – she’s the low woman on the totem pole that is her circle of friends but in the end Connie ends up being the happiest – she is their north star, she keeps the girls grounded, she is spunky, and in the end she gets what she wants…because instead of resting on her laurels, she gets up and goes after it despite the fact that (mean girl) Betty does everything in her power to put Connie down.

I knew a Betty – she was someone who would compliment you one minute and in the next point out everything that is wrong with you…it was someone that I considered a friend back then.

The fact that 13 year old me and now 21 almost 22 year old me can still identify with Connie is – to me – a sign of good writing and, the mark of a good character. In this movie the story is not about Connie at all…its about Katherine Watson, the art history professor but each of the girls is so well written, so striking that you can’t help but be completely taken in by the supporting cast as well.

Mona Lisa Smile is a movie that – when I watch it now – always makes me think; there are so many subplots dealing with social issues, societal norms, and a woman’s place in society. Many taboo issues for the time period – divorce, a woman going to law school, sex in general.

I will even go so far as to call this film timeless.

It’s a film that you can always learn something from, there are characters that will teach you something…

Connie Baker has taught me to get up and go after what I want…don’t back down regardless of what those around you think.

Even now whenever I see Ginnifer Goodwin in something I think back to this film, and to Connie Baker who will forever be one of my favorite movie heroines.


Back To School

Happy September (a few days late…oops)!!! I love September; school supplies “bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils” (name that movie), Pumpkin Spice everything, leaves changing colors, football – college and high school (I live across the street from the field where our district’s HS team plays Friday home games are the best; you can hear the band and the PA guy), canning, Christmas Concert prep for choir and orchestra, Bible Quizzing starts in September, and (of course) my fall semester starts! Wow! September is packed with great things!!

I started my fall semester today – I’m taking one class (YAY!!) online (YAY!!!)…it’s algebra (BOO!!!!). I am not a math whiz by any means; I can do “everyday math” – addition, subtraction, money math – but give me equations with numbers and letters and multiple operations and balancing equations and fractions and…and…and………


 I get so stressed when it comes to algebra….it’s crazy!! Luckily for me, with this class I have lots of help here at home. My dad is a college professor who just so happens to teach algebra (along with statistics and economics), so more than likely I will be having him help me out this semester…because I’m going to need it…big time!!

I much prefer English Lit., History, and Biology. Which leads me to my summer reading list . I finished my entire summer reading list!! This is the first year that I made a list to read through for the summer and I will be the first to admit that the list was a little daunting at first and at one point I almost gave up, BUT on Sunday night August 31st I finished the last unread book on my list!!! I’m thinking I might review a few of them or at least write up some recommendations.

Happy September my friends!!


7 Quick Takes: Fall Favorites

Happy Friday my dear readers! I missed a week of QT’s because of a crazy busy week at work, and getting ready for school to start up, but I am back this week with a fall favorites edition of 7 Quick Takes….and as always I’m linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary so be sure to check it out! Here we go….

Let’s call this one Take number 1/2: We spent Thursday evening mopping up a flooded kitchen and laundry room. The garbage disposal stopped working, causing the sink to back up and flood the kitchen. In the kitchen there is a low spot that (when not caught right away) leaks directly into the downstairs laundry room….we didn’t catch it in time…..thankfully we were able to have a plumber come to the house by 10:00 that night to fix it for us. I’m so so so thankful for the fact that they are able to come out so late at night in order to help people like us out!

Sorry, now on to the real takes! My Fall Favorites:

1.) College Football. There is nothing I love more on a Saturday in the fall than chili in the crock pot, leaves on the ground, and my Michigan Wolverines playing football! College football kicks off on Saturday and I am so excited! This year is going to be even more fun for me now that I am a University of Michigan student. Dad is UofM alumni, I’m a current student, and mom puts up with us yelling at the t.v.

A Michigan fan through the years. The one on the right is the most recent one I have in any Michigan gear, I was about 4 in that one….I think it’s time for a new picture! 
2.) Post-Season Baseball. The Tigers are leading the AL Central, the Pirates are fighting their way back to first in the NL Central….Playoff races will be starting soon, magic numbers are being calculated, MVP and Cy Young talk is in the air. Things I’d like to see this year: 
  • Detroit Tigers World Series championship
  • Cy Young for Max Scherzer
  • MVP for Miguel Cabrera
  • Lions in the Superbowl……………………………….yeah, that’ll never happen. : )
3.) Pumpkin Spice Anything: Lattes, muffins, cupcakes, Lattes : ) I can’t wait for my first Pumpkin Spice Latte this season!! 
4.) Cool nights. Extra blankets on my bed, the window slightly cracked, and the smell of leaves on the ground. Pure Michigan perfection! 
5.) Trips to Apple Orchards. Apples, apple cider, cider donuts, hay rides, and apple picking! 
6.) School supplies: New text books – I love cracking open a brand new text! The sound and smell of a new text is wonderful! Brand new pens and notebooks – there is nothing at all like school supplies!
7.) Music Ministry Christmas Preview. Every September we preview the Christmas music for the coming Winter. The choir gets their books, orchestra gets their parts, and rehearsals begin! I also start breaking out all of my Christmas music shortly there after! 
There are my fall favorites, now tell me….what are your favorite things about fall!?
Blessings for a wonderful weekend!

7 Quick Takes: VBS Hangover

Happy Saturday everyone! I’m a day late with my post but I’m recovering from VBS! It was a fantastic week, I had a great time with the kids, and am already planning for next year, but here are a few highlights from the week…..

1.) I was in charge of Bible Memory for the week. The kids learned 5 verses over the course of four days.

                a.) “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God.”
                       1 John 3:1a

                 b.) “Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people.”  Jeremiah 7:23a

                 c.) “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone the new has come.”
                     2 Corinthians 5:17

                  d.) “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5

                   e.) “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him
                        will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Each child got a card like this to take home at the end of each night so that they could work on memorizing their verses for the week. 
2.) If they could come back the next night and tell me their Bible verse they got…….
CANDY!! Wow, could these kids just devour the candy….but they were learning the Bible verses, and  retaining it! Did I bribe them….technically yes…..were they learning?? Absolutely! By the end of the week each of the hundred and twenty children went home with at least one piece of candy because they learned a Bible verse! I was so proud of those kids! 
3.) Bible memory was done in the same time frame as snack, so of course Miss Megan just had to indulge on the night of root beer floats. 
The kids you see in this picture? This was our (kindergartners going into the) first grade group. As far as memorization goes, they did the best job. Every child in this group was able to recite EVERY verse to me by the end of the week! My heart soared when I finished up with this group on the last night!
The theme for the week was Tumbleweed Gulch….it was a western theme. No western would be complete without a campfire right? So we employed the use of the inflatable campfire! 
5.) VBS was over on Thursday night, dad had the day off on Friday so mom decided to go blueberry picking! We went out as a family, and came home with close to eight pounds of berries. 
6.) The bushes were just absolutely loaded down with berries, peaches are coming in, and apples will be ready to pick by the first of September! I love the orchards here in Michigan, and can’t wait to go out apple picking in just a few short weeks…..
7.) As always I will be adding my link with everyone else’s over at Conversion Diary so make sure to head on over and check them out! 
Have a wonderful weekend everyone! 

A Whirlwind Weekend

Guys! I’m SO excited! I’m being featured today (on one of my very favorite blogs) Everyday Reading. Each weekend Janssen features a different blogger and their city! I look forward to these posts every week. I love traveling, and a lot of these have given great trips on where to eat, and where to travel in general. Janssen’s blog is one of my favorites. She always posts great recipes, book reviews, or craft ideas. I just happened to stumble across it one day via Pinterest (of course!) and now I’m totally hooked!

You can check out my Whirlwind Weekend in Frankenmuth, Michigan right here.

Janssen, if you happen to read this…Thank you so much! I just sent this off on a whim, thinking that you would get flooded with e-mails and not even see mine, thank you for allowing me to share not my hometown, but one of my very favorite day-trip locations with you and your readers!


The Bottom of the Barrel

Today is grocery day….yay! That may not seem like a big deal but it really is. You see, the fridge was pretty empty when it came time for lunch yesterday so I did what I could, with what I had….here is the result.

Easy Jalapeno Chicken Nachos:

(That title makes it sound waaaaay fancier than it actually is. What is really is, is scraping the bottom of the barrel, and just using whatever I had on hand. It is crazy easy, and you can mix and match ingredients….you do not have to follow this completely.)

1.) I figured out what I had on hand, I happened to have a jalapeno and half and onion. I thinly sliced the pepper, and diced the onion,

I just wanted to get a little color on the onions and peppers, so I tossed them in a saute pan with some butter, and cranked up the heat on the burner. 

Get them nice and caramelized, but be CAREFUL they don’t burn! There is a fine line between caramelized and burnt….do not cross that line! Caramelizing gives great flavor, burning does not!
2.) Earlier in the morning, mom boiled some chicken breasts so that we could use them up. I took a now cooled chicken breast and shredded it. 
3.) After I shredded it, I tossed it in the saute pan with the onion/pepper mixture, and added another tablespoon or so of butter. 
4.) While that was heating up, I melted shredded cheese over some tortilla chips (I’m telling you, this is the easiest recipe ever!). 
5) When the chicken was at the temperature that I wanted it, I simply piled it all on top of my chips……See, crazy easy!
Top it off with your favorite salsa, or hot sauce. A dollop of sour cream, and may some cilantro if you have it on hand, and you have the easiest Jalapeno Chicken nachos. 
This is one of those dishes where, all I did was use what I have on hand. If you don’t have sour cream, thin out some plain greek yogurt with a little squeeze of lemon or lime. No jalapeno? No problem! You could use any kind of bell pepper, or don’t use any at all if don’t want to! You can do what ever you want with this dish. Mix and match ingredients, play around with it until it’s what you like! Have fun with it. 
This recipe (if you can call it that) probably isn’t blog worthy, but what the heck, here it is anyway. I was thinking that if you wrap it all up into tortillas, you could do enchiladas with a salsa verde, or grill it up in quesadillas. Who knows, I’ll have to test it out soon!

7 Quick Takes: 6/28/13

Once again, let me wish you all a very happy Friday! I have no plans today, none, nada, zero! I am free! This may not seem like much, but let me tell you, it doesn’t happen very often and when it does I tend to enjoy it! So, without further ado, let’s get to the takes!

1.) From Friday to Monday, I was in Indianapolis, Indiana attending the 28th General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene. It was amazing! The city, the thousands of Nazarenes from around the world, the worship services, the Missionaries, all of it! I loved hearing all of the languages as we recited The Lord’s Prayer! All of the voices and languages mingling with each other as we sang! General Assembly happens every four years, and this year happened to be an election year. Two of our General Superintendents retired this year, and our delegates elected two new Generals! It is such a fun election process, and I was able to watch the entire Assembly (that I wasn’t there for in person) via live stream on the General Church website! I can’t wait ’til 2017, and look forward to what these next four years hold for the Church!

2.) Monday, we headed home…by way of Shipshewanna. I visited a few quilt shops in town, and had to leave them both before doing any serious damage to my bank account! It was fabric galore, and I may have drooled just a bit! While in town, we ended up eating lunch at the Blue Gate Restaurant. It was awesome! The Blue Gate also houses a theater, where they are currently performing Half Stitched the Musical. Half Stitched is based off of the book, The Half Stitched Amish Quilting Club. I LOVED this book! I would love to take more time and go down to see the show, wander around those shops a little longer, and take a buggy ride! I can’t wait to get back to Shipshewanna! 
3.) Wednesday was spent with Grandma. Gram didn’t want to be home that day, and I can’t say I blame her. It was June 26th, four years ago, that Grandpa was called home to be with the Lord. His battle with cancer was finally over. He passed at home, Mom was with him that day, and I was with Gram. It was pretty hard on her that day, and honestly it still is pretty hard for us. I don’t do this often, but on Wednesday it seemed like all of my stress, and frustration from the past few weeks, and memories of Gramps all came flooding in at once and I ended up a crying, emotional mess during orchestra rehearsal (of course, I was able to pass it off as being blessed by the Holy Spirit, it WAS a pretty powerful song). 
4.) Okay, I need some advice….I will spare you all of the details, but I’ve been having lots of stomach issues lately, and I think I may be on to something. I started thinking of how my eating habits have changed, and all I could come up with is that in the last two weeks I’ve gone from eating absolutely NO Greek yogurt (or yogurt of any kind for that matter,) to eating it every day. Is it possible that this could mess with my digestive system, or throw it out of whack?? Any help would be appreciated!!
5.) I’m currently reading While We Were Reading Downton Abbey, I’m not very far into it, but I highly recommend it! It is a great mix of characters and personalities, seriousness and levity. It makes for a very fun read! Check it out, you won’t regret it! 
6.) I’m hoping to work on my quilt some more this weekend. I’d like to at least add the rest of the panels by July! It was (is) on my summer bucket list, and I’m really hoping to have it done soon! If I do add to it, I’ll try and get some pictures up! Wish me luck! 
7.) I’m linking up with Jen like I do! Head on over to Conversion Diary and check out all of the other Quick Takes! Sorry for cheating, and using that as take number 7, it’s been a really slow week, and I honestly couldn’t come up with anything else worth while!
Enjoy your weekend! 

Throwback Thursday

Because I couldn’t think of anything better, here’s a little throwback for you……

I don’t know how I stumbled across this little gem, but here I am my senior year of high school on the day of my last marching band performance. One of the happiest days of my life! I loved being in the band, don’t get me wrong, but marching was not fun for me. I loved doing formal, sit down concerts that did not require marching and playing at the same time. Although, I have to be honest, the friends I made through marching band are friendships that will last a lifetime and I thank God for that! 
Happy Thursday guys! 

7 Quick Takes: 5/18/13

I’m BA-ACK!!! I JUST got back into town about two hours ago and hadn’t really planned on posting any quick takes this week….but hey, why not.

 Update, 9:45 PM Saturday: This isn’t a QT, it’s an urgent prayer request…dad just rushed mom to the hospital. She has severe pain on her right side. She can’t breathe very well, and can’t lie down. We are assuming it’s gall bladder, but it may be appendix. PLEASE please please pray for her. We’re all pretty worried around here about what it could be.

1.) I finished my time of prayer and fasting, and our interim pastor will begin on Monday. He will be officially in the office with us on Monday, and I’m looking forward to it. He is a wonderful, Godly man, and a good fit for our church. This doesn’t mean that I will quit praying, it just means that now I’m done fasting.

2.) I was in Florida for 10 days. My dad had a business trip that he (very graciously) took mom and I on with him. His company sent him to Orlando, and put him up in a Disney resort for a week of Continuing Education seminars….sounds fun right? Well, one day he took the entire day off and went with mom and I to Magic Kingdom. Walking in I felt like a 5 year old again….it really was magical!

3.) My father is an amazing man, and a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful ( I really cannot stress this enough…you’ll know why after I tell you) WONDERFUL dad. He got fast passes for us (read: ME) to meet the Princesses. Seriously, I don’t care how old I get I will always be a Disney fan, (which is why I enjoy Dash of Ash‘s blog so much)….so this just made my day. I got to meet Rapunzel, Aurora, and Cinderella. I also met Marie from the Aristocats, Mary Poppins, Mickey Mouse, Princess Tiana, Chip -n- Dale…..and so many more. I had such a great time on vacation with my mom and dad. Just being together for 10 days away from work (at least for mom and I, dad still had seminars).

Rapunzel (and a very sunburned Me)

4.) Mom and I did Downtown Disney, and Disney’s Boardwalk several times while we were down there and it was so fun just getting to hang out with her. My mom is an amazing mother. She is such a wonderful example of how to be a Godly wife and mother, and I thank God every day for the example that she is to me. I love my mom and dad with all my heart, and am SO VERY THANKFUL for the time that I was able to spend with them this week.

5.) I’m going to backtrack a bit now…..
On the first night of our trip we stayed in Blairsville, Georgia. We stayed with my aunt and uncle that live there. It is my Grandpa’s older brother, and boy is he just like grandpa. Grandpa passed away five years ago, and being with Uncle Ernie it was like having Gramps back, if only for a few hours. We had such a good time with them, and hopefully they will make it up to Michigan sometime in the fall so we can see them again.

6.) We also made a stop in Savannah, and it was GORGEOUS! I really loved that city. We stayed in the Historic District just blocks away from Paula Dean’s The Lady and Sons and it just so happens dad made us reservations for dinner there that night! It was so yummy!

7.) I really enjoyed being down south. The weather was phenomenal (Sunday in Florida it got close to 90, and in Michigan, it snowed). The people were so friendly, gas prices were lower, and the weather was great! I could get used to being in the south, I loved that is was sunny and warm every day, I loved that you could walk everywhere in Savannah. I loved how nice everyone was….then I came home. I love being home, but when you get used to something, it’s hard to come back. I just left the grocery store where the clerks were rude, they cut you off in the aisles, and to top it off; it’s cold here!

Really though, I had a great time on this trip and am so thankful that mom and I were able to go with Dad, but I am really REALLY glad to be home. After a while you just want to be home and we finally are. I have lots of stories to tell, pictures to show, and memories to last a lifetime!

Enjoy what is left of your weekend! Oh, and go see Jen for more Quick Takes! 



and another picture for good measure



I told you all this week in my 7 Quick Takes post, how excited I was that Chonda Pierce was coming to perform at our church. Mom and I have catered these kinds of events for the last few years, and I have never gotten starstruck. I’ve met (and fed) Aaron Shust33 MilesRebecca St. James, and many, many more. I have never gotten starstruck…until tonight.

Mom and I were putting the food out tonight in the catering room, and in the hall I could hear the distinct voice of Chonda Pierce. If you have ever heard her, you know her voice. You know that when she breaks precious into two words “pre cious” what she really means is “oh honey, that ain’t right” She walked into the catering room, and I’m not kidding you….I CRIED. My mom, God bless her, was in the room and covered for me, laughing about it, and Chonda very graciously took pictures with both of us, and we were able to talk with her for a while tonight.

She has an amazing testimony. She speaks very openly about the struggles she and her family have been through. If you ever have the opportunity to go see one of her shows, I encourage you to do it. She is a delight, and she is JUST.SO.FUNNY!!!

Goodnight all!