October 15?!?!

Already?!?! How time is flying by! Two months from today will wrap up a major phase of life… grad school. Graduation is December 15! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I can hardly stand it! Although I’ll still have 3 major exams to take for licensure, they will be spread out over the next couple of years and homework as a whole will disappear. I can read simply because I want to again!

Here are the things I’ve learned about myself over the past 2.5 years:

  • I am crazier about organizing, planning, tabbing and color coding than I ever imagined possible.
  • I really am a good student when I see the long-term benefit and feel the weight of the responsibility of how I learn and choose to value remembering information. It paid to take those 10 years between undergrad and grad school to better know myself, my interests, my abilities and my goals. I haven’t wasted thousands (and thousands and thousands) of dollars on something that I might or might not do something with… I know that I know that I know my calling and how I can best help people through ministry and counseling.
  • I can be disciplined working from home… but it can also be a slippery slope with Pinterest so easily available… I also really enjoy being home with Tony during the day. We may be in separate rooms, on separate floors, but it’s nice to so easily stop for lunch and hang out for a bit during the day.
  • As much as I’ve despised gas prices and the extra early mornings or late nights due to having to drive an hour or so to classes, meetings, internship sites, etc., it’s allowed me some much needed quiet time during the days for prayer, podcasts, reflection of thoughts and processing of clients or the day’s events. Especially now, I’m loving all the fall landscape during my drives!
  • I’m very blessed with a supportive husband and parents/family who have set me up to succeed during such a phase as this. I am thankful beyond words for their help during these past years.
  • As long as 2.5 years / 61 hours of classes and internships have felt… looking back, it has flown by. I feel as though I still have great things to learn and years of experience to gain before I feel fully comfortable and competent. I guess that’s why they require 3000 hours of supervised practice before the state will grant you a license for independent counseling, haha… there IS more to learn!
  • Balancing part time jobs, classes, internships, family and friend time is difficult. I’m not perfect at it. Prioritizing and learning to say “no” and when to take time for rest has become an art. Marriage will look different in a couple of months (due to scheduling, primarily), free-time will look different, availability to friends and family will look different… it’s exciting and a bit intimidating all at the same time…

So I can’t help but wonder what this next phase will look like… what I will look like? But for now… I guess I’ll get back to studying… 🙂


New Favorite Breakfast


For the past several weeks, I have been making peanut butter chip pancakes for Tony (using Martha Stewart’s basic pancake recipe). Tony looooves peanut butter, so these have been a hit. However, to celebrate the first day of fall last Saturday, we thought we would try something new, something with a little bit of fall flavor. We had seen the pan and recipe book in Williams-Sonoma for ebelskivers and have been waiting for the perfect day to try them… last Saturday seemed to be a pretty good one. We actually got our pan off of Amazon. We tried the apple filled ones… and let me just say… they were delicious! A flawless mix of pancake and filled donut hole all mixed into one. We were immediately sold. However, the first time making them was a bit of a chore for all the steps. I’m pretty sure as I practice, it will get faster, though. Check out some of these pics and recipes for ideas about how to make your own! I can’t wait to try some of these… especially the cinnamon bun filled ones… mmmmmm.

Here’s how ours turned out:

5 Years…

Happy 5 years together to a husband who is more wonderful than I ever could have imagined… this is a pic of us on our honeymoon in Maui!

Practical Parenting Tips

Here are some good tips about parenting from Andy and Sandra Stanley, it is part 5 of the North Point series Future Family. Click HERE to watch and listen. Or, download the podcast on iTunes. I think there are several things I’d like to incorporate one day… the series as a whole is great, but this one stood out with some practical advice from their personal experience as parents.

New Favorite Recipe for Dinner: Butternut Squash Stuffed Portabellas


We looooove butternut squash… in risotto, in raviolo, grilled, with potatoes, roasted with spinach, as a soup, as a creamy sauce with sausage over pasta… it doesn’t matter. And, since the most wonderful season of fall is quickly approaching, I’m anxiously pulling out all those butternut squash ideas for meals. We made this last week and Tony mentioned that it’s a new favorite to keep in regular rotation… let me just say that is not something that is said often, so it must be pretty good, haha. It’s not necessarily a quick-fixed meal, but definitely worth it. I think it took me a total of an hour from prep to plate. Here are the ingredients (for 2 large stuffed mushrooms):

  • small butternut squash, peeled and cubed in 1/4 – 1/2 inch pieces (the smaller they are, the quicker they cook)
  • small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 Tbsp butter, depending on how closely you’re watching your fat for the week
  • beer (1 cup total), optional
  • chicken broth (1/2 cup – 1 1/2 cup total)
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and chopped (I’ve found the best way is in the oven on a roasting pan – no greasy mess on the stove top)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 large portabella mushrooms, remove stem and scoop out the bottom to add more room for stuffing
  • olive oil
  • gruyere cheese, shredded
  • your choice of italian seasonings
  • salt and pepper

I chopped the squash and cooked it with butter over medium – medium high heat. In another pan, I added the rest of the butter and onions, stirring from time to time until caramelized. After the squash has cooked for 5-10 minutes, add 1/2 cup or so of the beer. Stir often. As the liquid cooks off, keep adding more of the beer/broth. (If you don’t cook with beer, keeping it simple with chicken broth is just fine; we just like the flavor it gives.) Cook the squash until all the liquid is absorbed, and squash is browned and soft (I think this took around 30 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in caramelized onions, bacon, sour cream, salt and pepper, and any other italian seasonings you like (just a little is needed).

Spray a pan with Pam and add the gutted mushrooms. Drizzle with olive oil and any seasonings you like (I used a mix of granulated garlic and spices). Fill with squash mixture and top with shredded gruyere. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese melts, about 15-20 minutes.

We had the stuffed mushrooms with green beans cooked with a little butter, brown sugar, whatever was left in the bottle of beer, and a few more pieces of crisp bacon… it was all perfect.

New Meal for Lunch

Tony and I tend to eat the same thing for lunch most days, so from time to time we have to change it up. We’ve been on a fairly long roll with lettuce wraps (with sliced chicken/turkey and a little mayo) or cottage cheese, with an apple/grapes. While on Pinterest last week, I found this picture:


I couldn’t find a recipe, but it looked easy enough, right? Here are the ingredients I used for my version of these Veggie Wraps:

  • red butter lettuce (or whatever kind you choose)
  • radicchio, cut in thin slices
  • shredded carrots (I bought the pre-packaged kind)
  • cucumber, peeled and cut in slices
  • thin slices of onion
  • Boar’s Head maple roasted chicken (I knew Tony would want a protein in there), optional
  • rice paper (I had to order it from Amazon, because I went to three different stores in town and couldn’t find it)

The rice paper was crazy – I had eaten it, but never used it before. It came in hard sheets that you soaked in warm water for 30 seconds or so (directions were on the package). Then, I laid it on a plate, filled it with the ingredients and wrapped it up. Pretty easy. I made 4 rolls total – one for me and one for Tony for lunch the night before. I ended up eating mine even a day later, and it was still good. Rice paper doesn’t have much of a taste, but sure helps to hold everything together. The most important part of the wrap was the peanut sauce…. I found a couple of recipes online that I combined to make this version of Crunchy Peanut Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth/water, or some combo of both
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce (I left this out of Tony’s because he doesn’t like it – it was still good, but missing that extra kick of flavor)
  • spoonful of light brown sugar
  • few shakes of red pepper flakes
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced

Tony said the sauce made the meal! It was a nice change in pace for lunch last week, and probably a new staple for the weeks to come. Here’s a pic of mine… not quite as pretty, but I wasn’t ready to eat them when I took the pic, so you just get a view from the outside.

About Prayer

It’s not as natural as some make it out to be… As I’m learning more about prayer… I’ve been encouraged and challenged by Andy Stanley/Northpoint Community Church’s series called Red Letter Prayers. I encourage you to download the podcast on iTunes or watch online!

Monday, Monday

Normally Mondays are not my favorite days (as with many other people), but today has been especially calm, relaxing and happy. I don’t know if it’s the feeling of fall being around the corner… with the crisp and cool air, warm colors, comforting foods… but today has been a different Monday than most. I think the things that have contributed to my happy day are:

  1. Having both a relaxing AND productive weekend (if that’s even possible to have the two together).
  2. I was motivated to wake up early this morning to begin my day (which hasn’t happened in a while – I’ve been waking up already exhausted with the day’s upcoming events lately).
  3. I got to sit and enjoy my egg white/chicken sausage/gruyere omelet and coffee with House Hunters for breakfast… without fear of having to rush to the next thing or guilt that I was putting off something important.
  4. I was able to run a few errands and then realize how much time was still left to work, read and write this afternoon! (Although I’ve spent a couple of meaningless hours on Pinterest, Facebook and dreaming of decorating a high end loft in a big city one day… haha.)
  5. I have been loving my study on Nehemiah by Kelly Minter and learning about the benefits and discipline of prayer… I’m being challenged by the words of Nehemiah and the things he did and felt for others.
  6. And sometimes it’s just nice to be able to be at home… I’ve loved that for the past few days… I think it’s refueled me enough to send me back out the next four days into a chaotic schedule of driving and meeting and talking and oh so much more.

So, happy Monday. I wish you one as good as mine.


This will be a busy semester as I wrap up my graduate program and internship and continue to balance an overwhelming to-do list each day. As I sit and finalize my list of to-do’s of what I would like to accomplish today, I’m reminded of all the special things that I love most that are quickly coming…

  • 19 days and counting to the first official day of fall… and the official beginning of my absolute favorite time of the year (late September through December)… with cozy sweaters and comforting food and caramel apple spiced everything…
  • 26 days and counting to mine and Tony’s 5 year anniversary… we may still be in the newly married category, but come on – 5 years is still a mile-marker!
  • 77 days and counting to Thanksgiving week… which we will be spending with family in a cabin in the mountains, hopefully surrounded by the beautiful colors of fall leaves…
  • 82 days and counting to… the beginning of Christmas music being played in our home and one of mine and Tony’s favorite weekends together decorating for Christmas…
  • 99 days and counting to Tony’s birthday (birthdays are always a big deal at our house) AND my very last final for graduate school!
  • 103 days and counting to… GRADUATION!! And hopefully a much less consuming to-do list…
  • 112 days and counting to Christmas… Oh, the cookies and goodies that will be made, the parties with family and friends, the sipping hot chocolate by a warm fire watching all our traditional holiday movies…
  • 119 days and counting to a New Year… of plans and a “new kind of normal” around the Hill house without multiple jobs and classes and homework… hopefully a little more time for spontaneity and relaxed time with friends and family…

There are some big days and good times coming… and I can’t wait!

You, Lord, are my shepher…

You, Lord, are my shepherd.
I will never be in need.
You let me rest in fields
of green grass.
You lead me to streams
of peaceful water,
and you refresh my life.
You are true to your name,
and you lead me
along the right paths.
I may walk through valleys
as dark as death,
but I won’t be afraid.
You are with me,
and your shepherd’s rod
makes me feel safe.
(Psalm 23:1-4, Contemporary English Version)

I had never really read from this particular version of Scripture before, but I liked how it worded this Psalm that I’ve heard so many times. A fellow staff member read it at one of my meetings yesterday and it resonated with me during a morning when I needed a little extra comfort in starting my day.

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