Cookies! (okay, and other things)

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Yesterday I got to meet up with one of my best friends / former roommates / bridesmaids (yes, same person). After a crazy hectic day and  of running around all morning (to prep for a new venture! More info coming soon!), going to the Fiesta Hermosa (Never again!*), I drove up to Westwood to meet up with her.

So first we go to Native Foods. I went there once when we were in college (UCLA, hence Westwood), and I remember it being good food, but odd. My friend was there all the time. Now, being gluten-free, it was like a paradise! So many choices! Good prices! Quality food! YAY! We chatted for a long time (why would you go through the hell of Law School then a big law firm THEN decide to switch careers? I do not understand. Well, I sorta do, if you want a family. I love you friend, even when you confuse me.), had watermelon water, and yummy peanut butter parfait for dessert, then went out walking.

You see, when you visit Westwood, there is always one required stop: Diddy Riese. If you have never been and you live anywhere in the SoCal area, you should make sure to stop by next time you pass UCLA. Their prices are ridiculous. I mean seriously: a dozen cookies for $4. Or an ice cream sandwich (with fresh baked cookies) for less than $2. You cannot beat that.

So my friend and I waited for more than half an hour. You know how at In-n-Out (okay, and other places, I’m sure), the line is so long it sometimes blocks the next driveway and there are signs saying “Please don’t block the driveway” ? – Yeah, Diddy Reise was the same, only it was a standing line. People were all the way past the store, past the next driveway, crowding the sidewalk. It was the place to be.

I got my 2 dozen cookies (because if I waited in line I was bring a serious prize home) for $8 exactly – no tax! –  and we went back to our cars and said goodnight. My husband called and asked if I was on my way home and if I had, indeed, bought them cookies (remember, I’m GF and not supposed to eat them) … I wonder how he knew I’d stop there. Anyway, so I said yes, he kept our daughter up late, and she got to enjoy the glory that is Diddy Reise cookies. (I also maybe ate one of the cookies because MEMORIES, COME ON! It was totally worth the migraine and stomach ache – this time anyway.) There are still more than a dozen cookies left (my husband took some to work) in case you are wondering. And I haven’t had more than one. Just FYI, nosy people. Eesh.

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The only other thing I have to note about our visit was that it was very odd visiting the place I went to college. I didn’t feel much older than a lot of the people I saw walking around, but I could have been 10 years older than some of them. And they were out studying for tests, talking about classes, etc. It was a whole different world. Very odd to be back and visit with things so similar and me so very different.

 

* Okay, so we might go back. Sometime. I had a hard time enjoying myself with the heat, the impossible parking (“YAY we found one! Oh, it’s only an hour. …They’re ALL only an hour. … Are they giving tickets? … Yes they are.”), the 3 year old with her face slammed into people’s rear-ends (I mean really. I picked her up most of the time to avoid it.), and the people groping (yes, fully) each other in public, I was done. I loved the booths and the stuff for sale though!

I also think I have a bit of an issue because now I go to fairs/festivals and think: “I want that for my booth!” “That’s a good display.” “This has good attendance; I could sell lots of things.” “That store is getting no one – why?” I think I have a problem.

Serve the City

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IMG_2950Today we went to the beach and collected trash. There were 30 some of us from church. We had shirts and everything. I was all prepped with the praying beforehand. Come on God, I’m ready. I want someone to ask me why we’re here. I want to share the gospel! Put me in an awkward position! I trust you! Having thoroughly worked myself up, I was excited to see what today would bring.

Well, about 20 minutes in, a lady walks up to me. My husband and kid are behind me. She looks at us. I see her look at our bags. I see her look at our shirts. This is it!

“Are you collecting trash?”

My heart pounds. Here we go! “Yes we are!”

“Great!”

And she put some trash in my bag and turned back around, happy to not have to walk the 15 extra feet to a trash can.

Well, maybe next time. At least we got the beach a bit cleaner, we had some time out in the sun, and we had a good time.

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P.S. We (collectively) found: a shoe, a lipstick tube, an ear of corn, broken beer bottles (glass hidden in the sand), big planks of wood, a dead bird, and too many cigarette butts, straws, napkins, baby-wipes, water-bottle wrappers, etc to count. Yay.

Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. – Jeremiah 29:7

Links Ahoy!

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I’ve been storing up links for a while – here’s some of the most interesting things I’ve been wanting to post about but just haven’t had time. So rather than thoughtful posts, here’s a list (with some brief comments).

 

Interesting article on a mom using real life women heroes instead of princesses. Love the concept – and I still love my disney princesses.

HAMLET – in pop culture/ film. An amazing compilation. So worth watching.

Some of the models who inspired famous works of art. Loved this article. I’m such a  visual person, this was really interesting.

Wonder what happened to all the awesome Firefly stuff on etsy (including mine)?

And finally, a woman takes the initiative to level the playing field in her work place by hanging a drawing of a mostly naked guy (to match the mostly naked woman). Great read.

 

So there you have it. A few things I’ve found interesting as of late. Enjoy.

Tea Drunk

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Today I was sitting eating my lunch and having some nice iced green tea (rose green tea!) and I stood up to get something. I felt woozy  Drunk to be exact. I thought it must’ve been something I ate – maybe there was gluten in one of the foods? I double checked the ingredients in everything, but no dice. I put my daughter down for a nap and staggered to bed for a brief nap myself.

Once I got up, I messaged my husband and went back to drinking my iced tea. I had felt totally better, but then – the drunkeness came back! It must be the tea! My husband googled it and found out you can get drunk from tea. (No alcohol needed!) Apparently too much or too strong of tea (esp cold) can trick your body into conserving the sugar or something – the cure is to eat something filled with sugar. I ate a bunch of blueberries and my drunkenness went away.

Strangest food experience of my life.

Women’s Tea – An Afternoon in Paris

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Every year for many, many years, our church has hosted a women’s tea the day before Mother’s Day. Last year, the ladies who have run it every year finally needed a break (we needed a change in management!) and the tea didn’t happen. Everyone was so very sad! So this year the tea was back and better than ever.

There are several groups who help with the tea. There are the decorating team – they are amazing. Let me show you some great examples:

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IMG_2468Then there is the gift team – they collect gifts to raffle off. There’s also the pastor’s wife, who does the mcing. We also have about 20 hostesses. They each bring dishes and decorations from home and set up a round table to serve 8. At the tea, they are in charge of bringing the food and tea to the tables. Often, they also provide favors to the guests at their table. (This is my table over to the right.) Finally, there is my team – the kitchen team. The tea is two hours long – the ladies walk in to a scone, they chat, are served lunch and tea, then are served dessert as the speaker gets up for about 40 minutes. Then the tea ends and everyone cleans up!

I volunteered (was asked) to take over the kitchen team last year, so I was ready to go, but never having worked in the kitchen, especially at an event like this, I had NO IDEA what I was getting into! This was “trial by fire” as the ladies kept joking. My job was to plan the menu, recruit volunteers, get recipes  test the food, shop (or assign shopping), prep the food (with help), run the kitchen, and serve the food, desserts and tea on the day of the event. I cannot even begin to explain how stressful this past 2 months or so. It was incredibly hard to walk a tightrope between trying to recruit people and answer questions while at the same time learning myself. I would often be asked a question only to need to turn around and ask the same question myself. I anticipate next year being just as much work, but a bit less stress!

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Luckily, I had these 2 amazing ladies to guide me through the process. They helped me plan and tweak the menu, as well as shop, bake, and prep. Our theme was “An afternoon in Paris” so I really wanted to try to add a bit of French flair to the food. I was told I needed to serve this tropical sandwich along with a cucumber sandwich as they were both favorites and always requested. Besides those, I picked a chicken salad on a croissant and brie, arugula, and tomato on a baguette – plus a salad with candied pecans, dried cranberries and feta. We had a scone to start and madelines, macarons, and Eiffel tower chocolates for desserts (along with fresh strawberries for those on a diet). Yum, yum, yum.

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The tea was an absolute blast! Everything went according to plan – incredibly smoothly. The ONLY issue we had was overbuying things. I had asked how much we needed of certain things and there was no notes written from prior years – so I had to guess on everything or multiply out the recipes (which sometimes worked and sometimes made WAY too much). I did, however, meet with my kitchen staff after the tea and took notes about things to improve and what we overbought so that hopefully we will have exactly the right amount of food next year – and not waste anything.


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The only disappointment was my mom and grandmother not coming. I have invited them before and they have come twice and enjoyed it. This year they both had other plans, which was a shame. However, I would have loved to show them these amazing decorations, the wonderful food, and had them hear the speaker. She had a great talk that touched on personal growth yet also managed to clearly present a gospel message. She was wonderful. Of course, my mom and grandmother showing up would probably have stressed me out more – I would have felt like I needed to come sit with them and chat with them at least a bit. I was able to have m friend/former student Shoko come. She’s a baby Christian, and all her family is back in Japan, so it was really cool for her to get to spend the day with a bunch of fun Christian women who are so welcoming – even if I only got to chat with her for ten minutes or so. I was very glad she made it!

IMG_2502In all, I had a great time at this tea, as I always do. It was fun being on the other side of the kitchen door and seeing all the hard work that goes into preparations. There are actually not too many things to change other than buying a bit less of certain things. And I didn’t give anyone food poisoning, so that’s a plus (I am totally joking – that wasn’t [much] of a fear.). I am looking forward to the tea next year – maybe next time I’ll start planning 3-4 months in advance like my mentors suggested!

 

 

 

Glutening!

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So I’m up to my 3rd week of no gluten. I have felt SIGNIFICANTLY better. My head is clearer – the brain fog has lifted. I haven’t had any headaches to speak of (I was getting them all the time). My stomach has felt much better; the bloating I’d felt constantly for months went away. I was teetering at 200 lbs (I hate to type that out, but I’m going to be honest here), and I am slowly dropping my weight back down. (I have never been that heavy in my life – not even when preggo.)

Anyway, so on Sunday we went to this lovely dinner with friends from church. Steak, asparagus, mashed potatoes, caprice salad, mushroom, and … mac ‘n cheese. My husband looks at me and says “should you eat that?” I look at him and go, “yeah, no prob!” – thinking about the sauce, not the noodles. DUH. He shrugs, thinking I’m just trying to be polite.

About an hour or two later, I get up to pack up leftovers. I sway a bit and grab the counter. I feel dizzy. I mean REALLY dizzy. Like seriously drunk, but I hadn’t had any alcohol. I sat back down and my head was swimming. I’d had serious dizziness before – a type of seizure – but this went on WAY too long. I felt nauseous too. I sat for another half hour until we decided to go. I barely made it to the car and the dizziness lasted for hours. I couldn’t eat until the middle of the next day. I had thought it was another seizure (not the Grand Mal type), but after research, it seems more like I was … GLUTENED (dun dun DUN!). I didn’t even know that was a term. Anyway, so I’ve been more careful with gluten this week and I’ll be watching to see if it happens again. I think I might have figured out where my numerous heath issues stem from. Finally.

P.S. The mac and cheese was really good. It might have been worth it.

Ropes course Part 2

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The second part of the ropes course was by far the most fun – and the final part was the scariest.

IMG_2054-2For the second part 6/8 (we lost 2 of the original 10) of the girls in our group were hooked up to what they called the dogsled leash. One was on deck, and one was hooked in. When given the signal, the 6 girls ran full speed as far as possible, lifting the one girl WAAAAY up in the air via a pulley system. When given the signal, she pulled on a purple cord, which released a lobster hook, and set her swinging in GIANT arcs. The pulling part was really fun, but exhausting. We were joking with each other and barked some of the time, while the leader joked back “mush!”

Once it was my turn on the swing, I was raised really fast – those girls could run! Then, letting go, there was a bit of a jerk … and I was free! It was like a swing at the park, only giant. A bunch of the other girls screamed, but I couldn’t bring myself to make a noise. I heard the wind whistling past my ears and felt it whoosh past my face and through my hair. Then there was this brief moment of total piece as I hit the turning point. Everything stopped – the noise, the wind, and there was total stillness.

Then I swung the other direction.

WHOOOOOOOOSH.

Then peace and stillness.

WHOOOOOOOOOOOSH.

Silence.

WHOOOOOOOOOOOSH.

Total peace.

WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH.

Calm serenity.

WHOOOOOOOOOOSH.

It was amazing. Then I had to get down and run a few more times.

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IMG_2020-2Finally on to the scary part. The part I’d heard stories about. The only thing I was a bit nervous about. The *gulp* Leap of Faith.

I’m rather sad I don’t have a picture of me on this. But I know I did it and that’s enough. Basically, you climb up a tree and choose the first, second, or third platform. You walk to the edge … and JUMP. They tell you to try to catch the handkerchief, but that’s really just to get you to jump away from the platform. There was one girl who climbed to the top and just sat there for at least 15 minutes (while we were doing the course part). Another lady dropped out here.

I asked what the recommendation was. I was told the first and the second didn’t seem that different, but the third felt really different (psychologically). The platforms got increasingly smaller the higher you got, so I could understand that. I asked Steven what he thought and he told me he wanted me to try for the top – way to push me!

So I start climbing. I get to the first platform, look out and think “well, if I have to jump from here, I may as well jump from the next one,” and I keep climbing. It’s the jump, not the height that scares me. I get to the second, look out, and think, “well, if I have to jump from here, I may as well jump from the next one,” so I climb to the very top.

I get to the very top and stand on the platform. I am HIGH off the ground. I take a minute to catch my breath. Before I can even do that, Steven yells below me, “Okay Kristin, on the count of three! One, Two, Th-” and I interrupted – “Hey Stephen? Can you give me just a moment?” “Sure, no problem!” I know he was trying to get me to jump before I had a chance to get nervous, but really!

I walk closer to the edge and look down. This is scary. I pray, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Yeah, that didn’t work. I can’t jump yet. I try again. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Oh, feeling a bit more ready! Once more to be sure. I think confidently, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” *

“Okay, Steven, I’m ready to go.” “One, Two, Three!” … and I jumped. And it wasn’t that bad. I survived and am a better person for the experience. One fear conquered.

*Philippians 4:13

Retreat – Ropes Course. Part 1: The course.

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The most thrilling part of the retreat was the ropes course. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to do it to begin with – I don’t particularly hate heights, but I don’t love them either. I figured if I could find someone else from our church who wanted to go, I’d go with her. On the drive up, I asked the ladies in my car – no, thanks. At lunch, I asked the women around me – are you crazy? In the cabin I asked my roommates – um, maybe when I was younger! By dinner I had about given up, but tried one last time – yeah, I’d love to. … Wait, really? … Yes! WhOO!

We signed up for the 1:15 course – just enough time to eat a quick lunch and run out to the course. There were a bunch of ladies out there – anywhere from their 20s into their 50s. I actually talked to a lady at dinner who was 72(!) and tried the course. I want to be like that when I am that age. How awesome. Anyway, when we got there, we were greeted by this sight:

Ropes course overview

There were 30 ladies at the 1:15 time (another 30 at 3:30). A young guy (college-aged) gestured, “Hey, I need ten of you with me!” No one moved. “Come on! This is the cool group!” So Sarah and I, along with 8 others moved over to the guy, whose name was Stephen, we later found out. The other two groups were directed to other areas of the course.

We got suited up with the harnesses and helmets (they were adjustable!) and got a quick training course. Then we scaled a tree to start on the bridge. Sarah and I stood there lamenting the fact that we didn’t have any friends from our church to watch us (and take pictures!) when one of our friends showed up! I handed her my camera and she started snapping. Soon after a few more friends came. They told us we were more interesting than the arts and crafts and other things going on around the camp (yeah, because we were terrified.)

the bridge

As we were waiting in line looking up, we were all thinking, “Pssh, that bridge looks so easy!” Yeah, we got up there and it was a foot step DOWN, plus there was a gap between the tree and the bridge. NOT EASY. SCARY. But it was nothing compared to what was going to come after. NOTHING.

About this time I looked over at the rest of the course. Those other 20 women who were too scared to go in the first group? – yeah, they got the scarier parts of the course immediately. “Hi, welcome to Ropes. Climb up this tree and jump off the platform. Don’t worry, the harness will catch you. Okay, go!” I was so very thankful to have started with the actual course and work my way up!

So I made it past the bridge, which was, in fact, quite easy – just not as easy as I’d expected. The next past was a slide swing thing. It was super fun – run and jump in, then pull yourself across the rest of the way.

wood & ropeNext came the rope/wood/rope/wood/rope. It didn’t look so bad from the ground (mistake 2!). Once I got up there, I realized the wood was hanging by the top, and the bottom was swinging free. So the choice was either to stretch between the ropes or hang on to a swinging piece of wood for dear life. I chose the wood – Sara chose the rope. (Sara was ahead of me, by the way.)

Next was the hardest part of the entire course. They called it a Tarzan swing. You needed to grab the rope and swing yourself to the platform, then do it again. We watched several ladies go before us and they fell cleanly into one of two categories: 1) brave and swung across easily, and 2) terrified and tried to walk across (it didn’t work – the cord above was at an angle). So we figured it must be easy if you gave it your all (mistake 3). Sara went first since she was ahead of me. She was a bit nervous for this one. I remember she turned to me and said, “Aren’t you scared?” I smiled at her and said, “Oh, yes, terrified. But talking about it makes it worse!” She laughed. I then put my hand on her shoulder and reminded her “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

I went right after her, clutched onto the rope, and swung with all my might – slamming my leg onto the platform as my hands slid down the rope. OUCH. I managed to catch my feet on the platform and pull myself up (barely), but it was HARD. Then I had to do it again. Luckily the second swing was a shorter distance. Oh, that part was awful.

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After that my leg was hurting (I’ll post the picture of my bruise later), but I still had 2 more obstacles (well, plus getting down!). Unfortunately, I don’t have good pictures of these. (Not of me on them anyway.)

end of course

Next was the hanging ropes – they were like jump ropes. You needed to stand on one, then swing to the next. That was my very favorite part! I loved it; it was like standing on a swing at a park – only 20 feet in the air.

Next came the net. As we were waiting, Stephen said, “So we have a kind of competition going on. Instead of just climbing across, we’re seeing how far you can jump. I asked what the furthest square jump was and he wasn’t sure – 6 or 7? I said I was aiming for maybe 3. I got 5! It was fun.

Finally we needed to walk across a tightrope holding our yellow straps above our heads. We needed to make it to the center tree in order to be lowered down. I kept looking down at the ground and moving slowly and Sarah yelled, “Don’t look down, just walk! Its easier!” I yelled back, “I’m looking down because this view is amazing. I cannot believe we are walking up this high.” Being lowered down was kind of scary because I wasn’t in any sort of control – I just needed to trust the girl who was lowering me. But it was fine.

There were two more sections of the course, but this post is long enough already. I would like to add I was super impressed with Stephen (again, just a college aged student). He pushed those of us who were a bit braver, and for the ladies who were a bit scared, he allowed them a chance to try to recover themselves before going in to help them at just the right moment. I was very impressed with his maturity and guiding hand.