November 12, 2014

I cooked dinner (and didn't burn the house down).

Anyone who knows me knows that there is nothing scarier than putting me in a kitchen.  It doesn’t matter what I’m trying to make.  I will find a way to screw it up so badly that you wouldn’t even recognize what my creation was supposed to be, or what recipe I was following.  I made one of those boxed cakes one time for my mom’s birthday.  I don’t know what I missed, but as wonderful as it smelled, it had no binding properties and promptly crumbled as I attempted to un-pan it. One time I tried to scramble some eggs.  I smoked out the house before anything even reached the griddle.  I made an attempt at oatmeal and ruined a pot...

You get the idea.  I am no chef.  Needless to say, I have never been allowed to cook dinner for the family.  In my mind, all I need is a little bit of supervised practice.
So at the beginning of last week, I asked my family if they would let me make them dinner on Friday.  I promised to buy all the ingredients and make something they’d like.  To my surprise, they gave in!

I did some Pinterest exploring and decided on a very simple meal that I was sure I couldn’t mess up.  I was also painting and re-tiling the bathroom that day, so I picked something kinda fast since I couldn’t spend all day preparing it.  Here’s what I made (along with the recipes!):

Coconut Chicken Tenders

These were super quick to make and everyone LOVED them.  I made about 15 pieces and it fed five easily.  The coconut was an awesome addition.

Whipped Sweet Potato Casserole

I am a little obsessed with sweet potatoes.  This recipe called for a lot of brown sugar and was pretty much half marshmallows, so they really were sweet, but they were delicious and a hit with my family.  I used 3 lbs. of potatoes rather than 2, and there was a LOT left over after us 5 going to town on them, so I think 2 lbs. would be fine next time.

Cinnamon Apple & Quinoa Salad

Okay, this one was a long shot.  I asked my family what they thought of kale, and the verdict was that we are not ready to expand our taste buds to include this strange green veggie just yet.  Also, no one had ever heard of quinoa (I Googled the pronunciation so that I didn’t say it wrong at the grocery store).  But I wanted to try something new and we had TONS of apples to get rid of before they go bad, so I replaced the kale with a lettuce mix and crossed my fingers.  It was okay.  The quinoa/lettuce combination was questionable (I see why it was made with kale instead).  Everyone had a serving of it (the dressing was really unique and delicious!), but I don’t think I will make it again.

All in all, it was a great experience, delicious dinner, and only (haha!) took me about an hour and a half to figure out.  My mom was happy with how it came out and I think she will let me cook again soon!  (Practice makes perfect.)

October 29, 2014

Hot fudge sundae, please. Hold the lemon juice.

This summer I finally got a job that I love: scooping ice cream and waitressing at a little family-owned cafĂ© and ice cream parlor.  Like most ice cream shops in the northeast, we closed for the season.  :(  I appreciate the break (more time for homework!) but I can’t wait until we open again.

As a Christian, I think is super important that I represent Christ even when I’m just scooping ice cream.  But practically, that can be hard to apply.  Here is a look back at some things I’ve learned during my time behind the counter!
  1. A friendly smile goes a long way.  It is always a special moment when someone walks in, looking like they haven’t had such a great day, and as they walk up to my counter I give them a smile and say “Hi there!  How are you?”  Instantly, they subtly mirror the happiness I am showing them.  My pastor frequently quips, “Why do some Christians look like they were baptized in lemon juice?”  I think it is a huge testimony to who I have in my heart when I can be joyful at work and it overflows to the customers.
  2. I can’t control how a customer is going to act towards me, but I can control how I act towards them.  I think about how I want to be treated as a customer, and then I do just that.  Whether or not the customer responds in kind is out of my control, but how I react to them (no matter how they treat me!) is my choice.  A lot of the time, people are very nice to me (how can you be mean while eating ice cream?!), but sometimes, there are difficult people who are just looking for something to argue about.  I can’t control that, so I just take a deep breath, and I hold onto the control I have over my reaction.  What's funny is that this didn’t go unnoticed by my coworkers.  One day, they admitted that they often ask me to take over their customers because they’re being too difficult.  “You have the patience of a saint,” my boss likes to tell me.  “That’s why we hand off the horrible customers to you.”  I don't think you would've been able to say that about me a few years ago, so it is amazing to find out how God has changed me in little ways like that.  Luke 6:32 – 36 outlines what it’s like to love people who are not all that lovely, and I hold to that as a model for how I feel about difficult customers.
  3. Integrity is KEY.  This is important overall, of course; but when it comes to dealing with money, I really need to be conscious of my actions.  The owner of my job is very particular about us scoopers weighing our ice creams before we hand them out.  I admit, at first I didn’t always weigh.  But this caused problems sometimes.  For instance, one customer heard the price of their order, and wondered aloud whether they were getting their money’s worth.  My manager took the ice cream back, weighed it, and saw that I had cheated them out of a couple of ounces.  I was very embarrassed and changed my attitude; I didn’t want anyone to doubt that I was doing the work to the best of my ability.  When I slack off at work, I’m discrediting not only myself, but I’m discrediting the God I claim to worship.  A good thing to remember is to do EVERYTHING to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31) and always be completely transparent.  I scoop my with such precision that even if no one checks to see if I scooped exactly six ounces, I know that I gave exactly six ounces.
  4. Get to know the customers.  Recognizing regulars makes the customers feel like they aren’t just another order.  Personally, I love when the people at Dunkin' Donuts recognize me (sometimes, they see me coming and have my coffee ready for me before I walk up to the counter!  It makes me so happy!).  Therefore, I aim to give everyone the treatment I would expect (Matthew 7:12).  I try to remember something about what a customer tells me to follow up with them about next time I see them.  Clifford, who invariably orders a large hard-serve vanilla shake, is a computer expert, and I can count on him to offer me advice about my laptop.  Some people I don't even know by name, just by their usual order, such as “coffee ice cream with a little fudge and walnuts," the couple who comes in after their evening bike ride and splits a tuna and cheese melt with tomato on half, and the phone order “3 hamburgers, 3 hot dogs.”  Relationships create a sense of community and friendliness, making the place you work pretty special.  One guy drives from an hour away every month, just to get his salted caramel truffle ice cream.  Then again, sometimes people come just once, such as the three British students who wanted to experience an American restaurant.  It was pretty cool to be a kind of an ambassador for the US food service! :)  It seemed like they had a great experience to bring back to the UK.
  5. Remember that I'm representing Christ!  I think the most perfect application of Colossians 3:23 is for people who deal with customers every day: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”  God is putting each of these people in front of me for a purpose – they didn’t wander in serendipitously – and there is an opportunity each time I see them to show them what God’s love looks like.  I don’t want to let that chance slip by. Colossians 4:5 says “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”

October 28, 2014


I haven't written for a blog in 3 years.  I'm not sure why I stopped, but I'd like to start again.

Writing, for me, can be a way of clearing my head.  I really like to sit down, write it out one item at a time, and leave it all on the page to be revisited later.  Usually I do this through keeping a journal, but lately I have slacked off, and I think I need to be held accountable by doing it a little more publicly.

A few things on my heart lately that could be coming in later posts include my passion for art and where God is leading me in that area, my favorite books, going to a secular college, and whatever else comes up. 

Thanks for reading!