You might hear me complaining about how Ryder, my 95 pound Weimaraner sits on my face every morning until I wake up & pry him off of me. He's probably the biggest trouble maker you'd ever meet but his eyes still make me melt. I know he's "just a dog" but he's my dog and I seriously am happier because he's in my life. If he's not eating my freshly baked cupcakes, he's opening the lid to the toilet for an extra swig of water. He snuggles and lays on my body until I go numb. He has zero proximity issues and choses to remind me of that every chance he gets. I'll have a massive pup breathing on my face until I tell him otherwise. He jumps on my ivory comforter with his muddy paws. He eats snacks like there the last piece of food he'll ever see, smell, touch, taste...
I don't know--I guess I'm just obsessed.
We just made it back from our annual trip to the Smokies and it was better than predicted. We convinced our two best friends, Adam & Sam, to join us on our backcountry adventure which turned out to be the best idea ever. "Roughin' it" was probably an understatement--our first day was an intense 12 mile hike with heavy packs and hard terrain, we laughed as our toes began to ache because we knew it was only the beginning. In the backcountry there aren't many luxuries or glamorous things like toilets, running water, or high-end food so we made it a point to bring a little comfort from home. We premeditated our meals and we made sure to pack the pancake ingredients and the pour-over coffee. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day so I knew I wanted it to be special. Our first task was to boil the water for our delicious coffee, as we sipped our warm cups we then proceeded to mix the pancake batter. With a dash of cooking oil on the skillet we slowly poured the batter and dropped a few chocolate chips in for good measure. It was a timely task but worth every bite of comfort.
Age 36: he has his mom's hair--muddy blonde, like the strands of a strong, wet rope--it peaks out at the neck line of a blotchy grey helmet. one sock is scrunched and a dirty smear blends pink leg and white cotton where the elastic band of his pants cinches around his soft shins. James came like a fall storm./ We have no friends here/ The air is too thin and the grass isn't blue enough to feel good between my toes/ Yes, but I'm late again/ How late do you mean/ Two months late/ ...are you happy/ So happy/ Do you love me/ So much/. he has swung twice, body twisting too much with the inertia of the aluminum bat, missing one high and one wide. the third hits his shoulder on the meat before the blade--two years ago he would have cried and come to me--he drops the bat and puts his hand over the spot for an instant, then sprints for first. turning quickly he crouches, hands on knees, and tilts the helmet, which has skittered in flight, and grins at me on the second row of the wooden bleachers. his mouth, the size of a cherry tomato, mimes "ow" and I hold up a fist. another boy leans into position, and he plants his feet: ready to run.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!According to his great mercy,he has caused us to be born again to a living hopethrough the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,4toan inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, andunfading,kept in heaven for you,5who by God’s power are being guardedthrough faith for a salvationready to be revealed in the last time.6In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved byvarious trials,7so thatthe tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishesthough it is tested byfire—may be found to result inpraise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.8Though you have not seen him, you love him.Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,9obtainingthe outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
In a time of extreme capitalistic materialism, financial desperation, and oppressive poverty, there is no better news than Peter's declaration that we have been given a living hope and an indestructible treasure through the blood and sacrifice of Jesus. It is so easy to get hung up on silly things, whether they be financial, relational, or whatever else, but to know that the outcome of simple, childlike faith is the salvation of my soul is satisfying and good.
Least Favorite Things To Do: Be present during someone else's meal!-(any time we eat at the table Ryder places his head on it between our two plates and looks like a starving orphan). Be picked up-Ryder is getting very hefty and cannot stand being picked up because he feels self conscious when his belly is exposed.
If Ryder Was A Person...: He would be big, blonde, and athletic--much like the German royalty that bred him. I picture him in a pea coat walking in the snow towards a Honey Baked Ham shop, or wearing short shorts and Ray Ban Wayfarers drawing pictures on the deck of a sail boat.
Quirks (continued): Ryder isn't a huge fan of any sketchy looking person (again true to his German Aryan ancestry) and barks a very loud, very scary bark whenever they come near the fence. Ryder gets little nicks and scratches a lot (for one, he is annoying to Kola and she punishes him, for two, he attacks chickens often and they defend themselves). Ryder can literally jump any fence (I've seen him jump over the rail of a seven foot deck), and does often.
Favorite Memories of Ryder: About a week ago Ryder surprised us all by diving head first into the pool. That was funny. Before that, my favorite and least favorite memory of him was the first time he ate a chicken. He knew he had done wrong and payed for it all night as he laid on the floor, stomach bulging, farting and burping up the nastiest egg smell I've ever encountered.
Food is the best way to use your hands! Not only does it take copious amounts of effort to prepare a delicious meal but it literally is a beautiful way to share all the ways you love someone. This week is my Father-In-Law's birthday and the first thing Kara and I did was discuss what we were going to cook! The past two years I've really amped up my kitchen by incorporating more unique meals and trying to do all local ingredients. It has been relatively easy keeping things local because Louisville has so many Farmer's Markets and easily accessible places to buy Kentucky Proud Products. Lately baking has been my uphill battle--whether its sifting flour or just adding the correct measurements of all the detailed ingredients--it has definitely not come very easily to me. A couple of months back I got on a Red Velvet Cake kick so I just began experimenting with all different recipes until I finally just took one and kept adapting it until it made my taste buds happy. I don't know if I'll ever be a baker but it is so much fun playing in the kitchen and giving it a chance with no expectations.
Here is the recipe:
RED VELVET CAKE
2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon red food coloring
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 1/2-pint baskets fresh raspberries
3 1/2-pint baskets fresh blueberries
For cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Sift sifted flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla in small bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in dry ingredients in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in 3 additions.
Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 27 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks; cool completely.
For frosting: Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread 1 cup frosting over top of cake. Arrange 1 basket raspberries and 1/2 basket blueberries atop frosting, pressing lightly to adhere. Top with second cake layer, flat side down. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Arrange remaining berries decoratively over top of cake. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.)
I recommend adding 1 to 4 extra tablespoons of cocoa to the cake mix and 1/4cup to 1/2cup more butter. If you want to thicken up the icing add more powdered sugar but if you want it a little less sweet and more cream cheesy just leave a little out. Also, there is a lot of icing so it is possible to cut the icing recipe in half!
Next time I plan on adding ganache between the layers to give the cake more chocolate because chocolate is my favorite thing & its awesome!
Cherokee, like Central Park, is famous in Louisville (especially the closer you get to the river) for being a cultural center--more than just a place to take the kids for a go on the swingset. Park-goers may encounter anything from a pack of dogs running up and down dog hill, owners watching patiently with a smile and a poop bag, to a pair of goths swimming in Beargrass Creek, and no matter what walk of life you are from, Cherokee Park has a way of finding a place in your heart.
This week we had the opportunity to go to the park with Ryder, Kola, our friend Morgan and her little sister Gracie. As we arrived via the Lexington Road entrance we encountered old men in tight cycling shirts "living strong" up the hill, pregnant mothers walking golden retrievers, a man riding a segway, and two grandmothers holding hands. We found a spot and let the dogs out of the car and they immediately raced away to sniff a lady who was laying in the grass reading--this would usually be a problem, but at Cherokee rules do not apply...she good-naturedly rubbed their ears and waved. As we skirted dog hill, Gracie threw one after another soaring frisbees to us and we had plenty of room to spread out to catch them (another perk of the park). Finally, we played a little ultimate frisbee and Gracie and I trounced Morgan and Molly. The dogs watched or roamed around the edges of the clearing we were in. We walked back to the car, avoiding the little brown piles all over dog hill, and went home satisfied.
Cherokee Park is located between the highlands (take Eastern Parkway with Qdoba on your right, turn left on Willow and right after the basketball court) and St. Matthews (turn right on Lexinton from Grinstead and then turn right into the park after the lake). It features a 2.something mile loop that is a wonderful run/ bike ride, Big Rock (the best cliff jump in Louisville), a very hilly golf course, plenty of fields for frisbee or napping, access to Beargrass Creek, a real dog run or dog hill, a giant picnic pavilion that smells slightly of weed, and mountain biking/ hiking trails all through the woods. Go there now!
By the way y'all its August & you know what that means?! It's BANANA CHIP month at Graeter's! We've patiently waited and its finally here. Our best friend Adam is really who we should credit for the banana chip discovery--we have been going to our beloved ice cream shop for years and always sticking with the classics but a few years ago Adam kept going on and on and on and ON about Banana Chip! It made us laugh because that's all he talked about even when it was February he would mention how much Graeter's Banana Chip is the best ice cream in the world. Naturally we jumped on board and of course we are hooked. It seriously makes us so happy to take a "Graeter's Break" and indulge in the best ice cream of all time!
Once you go Banana Chip you'll never go back! I mean it.
Bananas: essential for Banana Chip Ice cream
Cacao beans which eventually become the 'chip'.
What would we do with out these guys?
I love you Andy! Thanks for understanding the importance of a banana.
Age 18: the air around my cheeks is like a warm apple. She walks ahead of me—tanned bare feet stepping lightly, avoiding rocks and twigs, on the concrete. I watch her legs that end inside a long blue button up Oxford—too large, even, for her shorts to show except on the sides—which is not to say she isn’t modest. I’m wanting to know her: can she watch a movie at the theater without talking and still want to talk afterwards? will she realize I don’t know myself? the way she tip-toes along the sidewalk seems playful because her back hunches and she keeps looking back, as if she isn’t sure I’m with her. I am with her. she stops at my blue truck to say goodbye and I lean back against it, too aware of myself to stand confidently in front of her—a vine more than a tree, really. the stars are bright , especially for being so close to the expressway, and I notice foggy water trickling down the back window of the car she is standing in front of. one strand of hair, not as wide as my pinky, has fallen across the bridge of her nose and her eyes are scrunched a little—as if she is trying to read the man I’ll become or the secrets I’ll hide. as if she is going to kiss me. she does and I am shocked by the warmth, as comforting and familiar as the shape of the moon over the buildings of another city. I am with her.
Ben and I got married before I had the chance to see a lot of the world! I'd only been over seas once before I met him and I hadn't even been to beautiful New York, New York. It was always my dream to go to the Big Apple, explore the city, eat good food, and of course fall in love. I grew up obsessing over movies that were set in the city (An Affair to Remember) and most of my favorite shows take place there (Felicity and Friends). So like Ben always does, he took the first opportunity to make that dream come true! In 2007 on our fall break we boarded a plane and set off to our big city adventure. Our to-do list was very long so naturally we stayed in the most conveinant location--a gorgeous old hotel in the heart of Manhattan, The Mansfield. Ben planned the whole thing and I got to sit back and enjoy everything I dreamed of.
Our first day we went straight to Washington Square Park and listened to the street performers play while we took artsy pictures and jumped off of sidewalk rails. We sailed on the subway trying our best to blend in and not act touristy--our goal for every trip is to act like a local. After strolling through times square, almost getting hit by a cyclist & taxis, eating some tasty food at an Irish pub, we headed back to our beloved Washington Square Park where we watched hippies perform Beetles classics.
Day two was fully booked with more subway expeditions, a classic tour of the MET, people-watching in Central Park, eating lots of hotdogs at those cute street stands, laughing at the naked cowboy, and loving every minute of it! We ate at the cheesiest place...Stardust--a place where Broadway wanna-be's serve tables & awkwardly sing to you. It was the most perfect day, and even though we made it busy we never stopped smiling. I know I might sound lame but it really lived up to the little girl fantasy I always had. We were so happy & in love--literally the picture of what New York represents to so many Americans!
Our third day was once again full of adventure. We got off to an early start and made our way to the Statue of Liberty. We didn't bother getting on the ferry because funds were tight so we looked at it from afar and laughed at the red necks that payed five bucks to get in a picture with the fake lady liberty who is really a creepy, probably smelly, old man. From there we booked it to one of my favorite places, the Brooklyn Bridge, & enjoyed the views. Later we went to China Town laughed at the crazy Asians trying to sell me fake Louis Vuitton purses, and from there bounced on over to Little Italy for some authentic Pizza at Sal's. We made our way back to Times Square, stood in a long line to get cheap Broadway tickets, & scored seats to my all time favorite--The Phantom of the Opera! We ate a delicious meal, watched a magical show, and kissed a lot!
On the last day we lazily drank cappicino, read books, and went to the Empire State Building! I literally dreamed of this building my whole life & I wanted nothing more than to go to the top with my love. Once we got up there it was a different story! I kind of have a height issue and being above the city threw me off a little bit. Ben held my hand and made me laugh at his corny jokes until I forgot we were so high. When I got over the height problem we began to read all the funny things people wrote all over walls (eg: Billy wuz here '99, Tina loves Kris 4ever).
Overall the trip changed my life. I seriously felt like was living in a movie and even when I look back on it four years later I still smile. I guess that's a sign of a good experience.
Generations ago, a proud Lakota people wandered the Great Plains of North America according to their own free will. The decisions to move their nomadic villages rested only with the weather, the season, and the migrating tendencies of the great buffalo herds. These people were proud and honorable and they were known to be stealthy warriors, great hunters, and nurturers of their extended families. In the years leading up to 1890, the government of the United States of America felt threatened by the nomadic nature of these great tribes and imposed extensive efforts to sequester them in designated areas, or reservations. Those who resisted or were perceived to resist this imposition were forced into submission or killed. The horrific Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890 on this reservation was a putrid testimonial to the over-use of military force implemented to accomplish this dominance.
These proud people still live on these reservations even though these designated areas of land were selected due to their undesirable nature. A difficult living, at best, was imminent for this “first Nation” as they struggled to modify their lifestyles and exist in these locations. They have existed despite every effort to weaken and dilute their rich culture.
In the last few years my dad has been in the process of doing some good for the Lakota people by starting a non-profit called Wings Like Eagles. As an organization, we've taken some incredible trips to the reservation, done a lot of work, and only have plans to do a lot more! The next project coming down the pipe is to refurbish the gravesite at Wounded Knee (the famous massacre that you've ever learned about in history class or will check out on Wikipedia now). Please go to wingslikeeaglesinc.org for information, and then vote for us to win the Pepsi Refresh project for a $25,000 grant to do the refurbishment.