Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mission Lab 2012

Hurray for finally posting a few more pictures from our trip to New Orleans! Last Sunday was our mission report service and it was so wonderful to hear from several different students and adults. One of the greatest joys I get from working with students (And I think Jordan would agree with me) is to see the heart transformation that goes on during trips like this one. Seeing our students come together and work hard and seek after Christ both excites and encourages me in a majorly huge way. So many of our students are still reeling from what happened during the week of Mission Lab (some of the adults left New Orleans with changed hearts as well!). It's just so good. Isnt our God good?

Here's our motley crew, early early in the morning on the day we left New Orleans. Very little sleep + lots of hard work + early morning = some sleepy eyes and cranky faces. Dont let them fool you though- half of them were wishing we could stick around another week.

One of the things that we did on 2 different afternoons was visit a nursing home and an adult day care in New Orleans. At both places, we played bingo with the residents, which at the nursing home was serious business! These ladies were out to win and nothing else! It was hilarious to spend time with these sweet older people and see them get so excited (or frustrated!) over bingo. I hope they enjoyed our students as much as our students enjoyed them!

On a free night, we took our group to a New Orleans Hornets game. The Hornets arent exactly on the top of the NBA rankings, in fact, they lost the game to another team at the bottom of their conference thingy. Despite the loss, I think everyone had a pretty fun time - and how often do we get to see an NBA game?

Also on a few afternoons, we spent some time prayer walking through New Orleans and ministering to the homeless. We brought along care packages full of hygiene products, towels, socks and snacks, which I think we blew through in about the first 10 minutes with the homeless. There was definitely more of a need than what we brought with us, but hopefully for a few dozen folks, we were able to provide some basic needs. This was easily one of the most uncomfortable activities that we did on this trip. Unfortunately, we dont usually seek out the company of homeless or "undesirables," so this was far outside of many comfort zones, but I think that once our students (and adults) became acutely aware that the homeless are still people with needs that we can meet, they became bold and outgoing. What a blessing to see!

It was truly shocking to still see such devastation in New Orleans 6 years post Katrina. We worked a lot in the 9th Ward and saw a lot of the picture above - the simple front stoop remains of what used to be a home. There are still so many needs.

We spent 2 full days and 2 half days in the 9th Ward helping them clean up overgrown lots. When we got our ministry list from Mission Lab prior to leaving, it said we'd do "yard clean up." Thinking we'd pull weeds or rake leaves or maybe mow a lawn or two, I was really surprised to be taken to these majorly overgrown acre-sized lots. I liked the picture above, because it shows how tall the weeds and grass were on some of these lots (there were others that were even worse!). Not only was this helping to prep lots for new houses, but also improved the safety of the neighborhood. Getting rid of the 3-4 foot tall grass meant that folks didnt have spots to hide, hopefully cutting back on the crime and drugs that are so rampant in this neighborhood.

Here's an after picture of one of our lots - leveled! I think in total, we cleared probably somewhere between 4-6ish acres worth of land over the course of the week. It was hot and humid and hard work, but our students and adults were so fantastic and as a group, we accomplished some great things during this week.

Ready to work!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Caramel Apple Bread

Now that the 24DC is behind me, I'm working some baked goods back into my life. I really missed cooking and baking during the challenge, which frowns upon all things containing sugar, butter, and cream. Jordan is starting the 24DC as soon as his kit arrives, so very soon it'll be back to grilled chicken and green beans, but I was itching to bake something recently for both of us to enjoy before he takes the big Advocare plunge.

I made this Caramel Apple bread back in the fall and we both loved it. It's definitely a fall-ish food; great for when the best apples are in season and full of cinnamon and ginger flavors with a sweet caramel-y glaze on top. But it's also delicious all the other seasons and a piece of cake (bread?) to make, so I threw the "seasonal food" excuse out the window and made us a loaf the other night.

(image via Cooking Club)

Caramel Apple Bread
1 3/4 cups AP Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups finely chopped apples (I used Honeycrisp)
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (I ran out of brown sugar and subbed in plain old granulated. It worked just fine I think!)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup heavy cream (I didn't promise this was low cal!!)
1 tsp light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger

350 degrees. Generously grease 8.5 x 4.5 loaf pan. Combine dry ingredients and whisk together in a bowl. Blend brown sugar, oil, sour cream and eggs until smooth and then incorporate into dry ingredients. Stir in apples and ginger. Pour in loaf pan. Bake 55-60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean but slightly moist. Cool for 10 minutes.

While cooling, bring all the glaze ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute. Cool slightly. Remove bread from pan and poke holes in top of bread with a wooden skewer (about every inch or so) Spoon about 1/4 cup of the warm glaze over the hot bread allowing the glaze to seep into the holes. Cool completely. Once cooled, warm the remaining glaze until spreadable and spoon over the bread.

Or you could be like me and glaze/eat the bread while it's still warm and awesome. That works too.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My Favorite Products

There's something about going out of town that seems to make me feel a little more spendy than I would be otherwise. I'd heard rave reviews about the Urban Decay Naked palette and I've been to Sephora (with a gift card even!) several times and picked it up, put it down. Picked it up, put it down.

Confession: I'm a horrible person to shop with. My husband can attest to this. I am notorious for L.O.V.I.N.G. to shop -I'll never turn down a shopping trip. Only problem is, I'll pick out half a dozen items, walk around the store for an hour and slowly (but surely!) talk myself out of every single item. It turns the trip into a colossal waste of time. Case in point: Jordan and I went to Old Navy yesterday at MY request because of a skirt I'd seen in a different store. We get to Old Navy, I find the skirt, carry it around for a few minutes, put it back on the rack, and walk out empty-handed.

And I digress.
While in New Orleans, I finally put my Sephora gift card to good use and purchased the Naked palette. I LOVE IT. The colors are perfect and the shadows are well pigmented, so a little goes a long way. The shades are layer-able, so there's really no way to go wrong with this palette! I'm so glad I finally took the plunge and brought home a palette of my own. They aren't cheap, but a gift card made it all worth it. I have a feeling that the Naked palette will quickly become one of my favorite makeup bag products!

Keeping that in mind, I thought I'd share my current makeup bag favorites! These are items that I use every time I put on a "full face." Its a rare day that I put on a full face of makeup when I go to work. A little concealer, mascara and eyeliner and I'm out the door. Something about a 5am alarm and a 12.5 hour work day just takes away any primping desires.

And I digress.

#1: Too Faced Shadow Insurance

Having been blessed with an oily T-zone and lids, it is almost impossible for me to put on eyeshadow and it last all day without creasing or getting weird. Enter Shadow Insurance and I can have my eyeshadow last all day, go to bed and wake up with shadow still intact. (Note: I don't often fall asleep with makeup on my face). A little dab goes a long way. I put it on when I put on my face primer and it makes my gorgeous Naked palette shadow stay right where I put it. Amay-zing.

#2 Bobbi Brown Natural Finish Long Lasting Foundation

I really love this foundation. It's also pretty pricey, but a little bit goes a long way and I definitely don't wear this stuff to work. But regardless, it's the best foundation I've found. It covers well, has SPF 15, and feels great on my skin. In combination with face primer and a little setting powder, it keeps my oiliness at bay.

#3 Benefit They're Real Mascara

(all images via pinterest)

This mascara might just be my favorite makeup bag product of all!!! We all have features that we deem better than others and for me, I think my eyes are my best feature. Therefore, I love shadows (obviously!) that play up my blues, eyeliners that stay put, and mascaras to take my lashes out and up! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this mascara. It's super black and makes my eyelashes do things that I never thought they could do. They're thick and long without being clumpy. Plus, the mascara stays put, which may be an understatement. Im telling you, it doesn't budge, which is a blessing and a curse. Getting the stuff off takes a little elbow grease, but that's not enough of a drawback to keep me away. I love this stuff.

What are some of your favorite products??

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Glorious Bed

We've safely made it home from New Orleans and I couldn't be happier to sleep in my own bed. There's just something about sleeping alone on twin-size dorm mattresses that squeak with every move that just makes life lovely. Talk about NO quality sleep. But I guess if that's the only thing I can complain about, then we must have had a pretty incredible week.

And we did.

Don't be surprised when I tell you I completely forgot my camera. I realized this about Baton Rouge, when it was entirely too late. My husband didn't seem to go for the whole "we should just get a new camera!" suggestion, so now we're at the mercy of about a dozen teenagers who took pictures of every move we made. So until I can get my hands on a few pictures, I'll share with you a few things about mission trips and a few things I've learned about New Orleans.

(ok so I have ONE phone picture of our stroll through Jackson Square)

1. I never would've fathomed that I would ever be in a place more humid than Rockport (or Augusta). And I would be wrong. New Orleans takes the cake. My hair reached new levels of frizz.

2. Same goes for bugs. My legs are a testament to the fact that no amount of bug repellant can keep those blood suckers away.

3. Being in a new environment and doing new things is a stretch for a lot of people. It brings me such joy to see the hearts of our students soften and grow in Christ.

4. New Orleans is widely known for its debauchery and it certainly lived up to its reputation. We spent Wednesday afternoon in the French Quarter and even on a weeknight, the darkness was palpable. Despite this, when people learned of what we were doing around the city, they seemed genuinely grateful.

5. Just because someone claims to be a native to New Orleans, does not automatically mean they can make a good gumbo.

I guess I can't share everything, but should leave some revelations and experiences for my photo-heavy post. So stay tuned friends for some more lovely stories of our week in New Orleans. It was a blast.

But right now, my bed is calling me.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

On the Road Again

It seems we've spent more time out of our house than in it. Bright and early Sunday morning (don't forget friends, daylight savings resumes Saturday night/sunday morning!), we'll board up a couple of church vans and drive all the way to New Orleans for Mission Lab. We're taking a group of 25 middle/high school/college/adults and i'm truly excited for this experience.

By now, we all know that I've never been to New Orleans. We drove around NOLA on the way to Atlanta in January, which is the closest I've ever come. So, I'm really excited to see and experience a new place. Of course I've heard that NOLA is a foodie mecca, so I'm looking forward to some goooooooood (advo-approved!) eats! We'll also be taking in a Hornets NBA game while we're there. I'm not really much of a basketball fan and honestly had no idea who the Hornets were when Jordan first mentioned this, but I do think that pro/college sporting events are always really fun, especially when paired with a couple dozen students. They can liven anything up!

Mission Lab is a week long camp that's hosted by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. We'll stay on campus and they'll feed us and have a worship service each evening. They also set up ministry projects throughout the city of New Orleans, so that during the day, we're serving the city and it's residents in many different ways. Our group will specifically be doing yard clean up in the 9th Ward, homeless ministry and nursing home ministry. How many folks can say that they spent their spring break serving Christ in the city of NOLA?? I'm stoked!

Jordan and I would greatly appreciate your prayers over our group next week. Prayers for good health, safety in travel and while in NOLA, unity in our team, patience with each other, extra energy for those hot days outdoors, and opportunities to share the love of Christ with others.

We'll be back on Saturday (17th) and I promise a full report!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Eleven x Eleven

At least a week ago now, Erika tagged me in a little blog survey, which I secretly dig. I can totally remember beinghigh schoolish age and seeking out these long surveys, spending hours pouring over my answers making sure they were perfect, saving them as a word document and re-reading them months and years down the road. Basically I was a loser.

Anyway. Being out of town and then working several days in a row to catch up has left me a little behind on filling this out and passing it along, but here we go.

Rules For Bloggers: (you must repost these)

1. Post these rules.

2. You must post 11 random things about yourself.

3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post.

4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
5. Go to their blog and tell them that you’ve tagged them. (ok, so I probably won't actually do this.)

6. No stuff in the tagging section about ‘you are tagged if you are reading this.’ blah blah blah, you legitimately have to tag 11 people!

Section 1: 11 Random Things About Myself

1. A conversation with Chris Norris sparked the idea for our dog's name (Mauve).

2. I think I could eat my weight in chips & queso... or ice cream... or Sister Schubert's rolls. Coincidentally, I haven't had any of these in months.

3. I have not read the Twilight series. I don't want to. Don't tell me they'll change my life.

4. I wear a mouth guard when I sleep. It's the shining symbol of my geeky nature.

5. I do not like to swim in stagnant water, i.e.: lakes. Gross.

6. There's nothing more distracting when I'm trying to go to sleep than feeling my leg hairs rub the wrong way against the sheets. It drives me nuts.

7. I haven't ever been to New Orleans, but I'll be driving there a week from tomorrow. Lets just call this the year of long car trips. (Atlanta... New Orleans... and in June, Tennessee)

8. I am not a good at keeping plants alive and growing and am pretty ashamed at how pitiful my front and back yard looks. I'm sure we're that house on the block that everyone drives by and thinks, "geez, can't they cut their grass and clean out those flower beds?"

9. I have strong magpie tendencies.

10. I am not good at math.

11. I have become pretty well known around the labor & delivery unit for being a weird patient magnet. I'm convinced there's some sort of Facebook group somewhere for kooky/weird/idiot pregnant women that has my picture posted above this quote, "When you go into labor, ask for Hollie! She loves the strange ones! "

Section 2: My Answers to Erika's 11 Questions

1. How many pairs of shoes do YOU own? (I need to know if I'm normal) Without literally going to my closet and
counting them, I've come up with 24. Talk about the picture of laziness.

2. If you had to have one type of plastic surgery done (and it were free), what would you pick?
I don't think this qualifies as "plastic surgery," but I'd love to makeover my smile/teeth. I'm very self conscious of my overbite and am jealous of those lucky people with pearly white smiles!

3. If you could have one exotic animal for a pet, what would you choose? Liger. Specially bred for its skills in magic.

4. What was your (first, most memorable, lamest, you pick) AOL Instant Messenger screen name? When did you stop using AIM (or DID YOU)? Holli64 was the one and only AIM screen name. I chose it when I was ridiculously young and silly and thought it would just be the cat's meow to drop the "E" off the end of my name. 6-4 is my birthday. Voila. I don't remember exactly when I kicked that habit, but I want to say it was sometime around the 10/11th grade area. If someone out there knows otherwise, feel free to raise your hand now.

5. If you had to move to another country tomorrow, which country would it be? If we're talking fantasy/no cares/no responsibilities kinda life, lets go with someplace lovely like Tahiti or Bora Bora. But if I'm required to support myself and make a living in this new country, I'll go with an English speaking country that has appropriate nurse-job opportunities (we're talking more than birthing babies on a dirt floor in a hut), which would be someplace like Ireland or England. I thoroughly enjoyed London many years ago.

6. If you had to enter the Witness Protection Program and get a new identity, what would you choose as your new name? Regina George? Gretchen Weiners?

7. Do you believe aliens could (or do) exist? Even if they did (and I don't think they do), I really couldn't care less.

8. What's your favorite book? Redeeming Love is always at the top of the list. My most recent read was the Hunger Games series and it was surprisingly very good. I also try to spend some time every day reading through books of the Bible. I'm currently working my way through the major and minor prophets.

9. If you could be on a reality show, which one would you choose? (All are fair game: trashy ones (Temptation Island?? Haha), contest ones (Survivor, The Apprentice), as well as stuff like House Hunters) This one is ridiculously easy. What Not to Wear. Hello?! $5000 worth of new clothes plus a fab hairdo and new makeup? Sign this girl up.

10. If you had to live in another era, which one would you want to live in? The 80's seemed pretty rad and I was only there for 60% of the decade.

11. If you were going to invite me over for dinner, what would you serve? I like to think my Chicken Spaghetti is pretty awesome. With Sister Schuberts rolls of course. And maybe a little salad with Green Jacket dressing. Dessert would be apple turnovers with Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream. Come on over!

Part 3: My Questions for YOU
1.What's your take on the Twilight phenomenon? Are you a fan? Are you strongly opposed?
2. What's your favorite form of exercise? Window shopping is a perfectly acceptable answer to this question.
3. Running along with the shopping theme, if you could max out your credit cards (without penalty or paying them off!) at any one store, where would that be?
4. If you could pick a movie title to describe your life, what would it be and why? (just the title- not the movie subject or premise... like if you pick "Pretty Woman" it just means you're a pretty woman, not a prostitute who falls in love with Richard Gere.)
5. What (in your opinion) are the ideal condiments or toppings on a hamburger?
6. If you could learn a new musical instrument, what would it be?
7. Are you an Apple or PC person?
8. If you could re-do a day in your life, what day would it be and how would it be different?
9. What is your ultimate guilty pleasure? (i.e., that trashy tv show? romance novels? ice cream??)
10. Do you have any brothers or sisters (or siblings-in-law?)? Are you close in age? Are you close in relationship?
11. Will anyone actually fill this out? It's taken me like 2 days.

Part 4: Bloggers I Tag for the Above Questions

1. Cas
2. Samantha
3. Melissa
4. Allison


so I know, I know. I've talked a lot about Advocare recently. I promise that this should be the very last post ever.

But I finished my 24 day challenge!!!!

Wednesday was day #24 and I couldn't be happier about my results! I already know of 3 folks who have also taken the plunge recently after seeing/hearing about MY experience. It's been pretty great, I can't complain AT ALL. Seriously, I've wanted to get rid of this weight for years... YEARS y'all. I wasn't ever classified as "overweight," but I knew I was more comfortable and healthier with fewer pounds on my frame, but I couldn't ever bring myself to stick with a diet or exercise plan. And now after only 24 days, I'm back down to what I weighed in high school. My clothes went from being snug to nearly falling off. People even tell me that my face looks clearer.

But before I get a little vulnerable by sharing what I've lost, folks have been asking what a no carb/dairy/sugar diet actually contains. So here's a rundown of what my intake has looked like over the last 3+ weeks. Lean proteins are encouraged (chicken, turkey, fish, eggs) and pork, lunch meat and red meat are discouraged (at least until phase 2). Healthy fats are my go-to snack (natural almonds, peanuts, walnuts, and all natural peanut butter. Avocado is also ok, but I'm personally not a fan.). Fresh fruits are encouraged during the day. Fresh vegetables are also welcomed. Finally, some carbs are actually allowed, but only whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, sweet potato).

Are you still there? Bored to death yet?

Ok well here's the great news: I lost a total of 12 pounds and 6.5." My starting weight was 150lbs and I'm now comfortably sitting at 138lbs. Ridiculous! Even just typing that out seems unreal. I haven't seen the 130's in 11 years! I kept running regularly throughout the challenge and my energy is high. I hope now to continue sticking close to the same diet and maintaining my new weight for a little while. Visiting my family was exciting, because many of them noticed without even knowing I'd been on a diet. Nowadays, I'm getting lots of encouraging comments from folks at work and people at our church.

It feels good.

Advocare <<--Check it out.
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