Wednesday, November 30, 2011

to err is human

Recently, I talked with a friend who was beating himself up over something really stupid that he had done.  It wasn't anything immoral or criminal.  It was one of those universal momentary lapses in judgement, where something inappropriate was said,  that we have all had at one point in our lives. However, because it involved another person, and perception is reality, it had farther reaching effects than he ever anticipated. Obviously, there is more to the story, but this is enough to get the general idea.

As we talked, he told me that he couldn't let it go, because to do so felt like he was letting himself off the hook and not taking responsibility for what he had done. In fact he had done everything he could to make amends for what he had done. He owned up to and immediately recognized his mistake, apologized, and received and complied with the immediate consequences.

Now he has to live with the longer term consequences of his actions and the fact that the person involved will be affected by those consequences as well. It was a painful conversation to have with him, because he really feels bad and wants to take the brunt of the consequences so the other person is unaffected. He is also a person who doesn't have too much faith in himself and his accomplishments. He tends to beat himself up over his lack of accomplishments and his mistakes. He rarely recognizes the good things in himself. And this incident is  re-enforcing his lack of trust in himself.

As we talked, it became clear to me that he really did need to let this go and move on. I told him:  You are bigger than this incident. The sum total of who you are as a person is much bigger than this one incident. You need to remember that you are human and imperfect; therefore, you make mistakes. You need to recognize, not just, your error, but also the lessons learned and then move forward, letting this go but holding onto the lessons. I'm not saying you won't remember this and you won't feel bad about the consequences, but you cannot let this one incident define who you are. Learn from this, let it go, and move onto become better.

My friend listened and then said: You know this is easier for people who believe in God. People who believe in God seem to have an easier time moving past things like this.

My friend is agnostic, so I can't have the same conversation with him that I would have with most of my friends about giving it to God, letting him take care of it, and asking for and receiving God's forgiveness. I did think it was illuminating that he was the one bringing God into the conversation when I had made no mention of him in what I told him previously.

My friend started to go on to give more reasons why he couldn't let this go, when I impatiently interrupted: With or without God in your life, you need to move on from this and, yes, forgive yourself. You will hold yourself back if you hold onto this and let it define you. For you this isn't about faith in God, this is about your faith in yourself, your trust in yourself. This is about you taking responsibility, which you have done, and accepting the consequences, which you are doing. This is about being man enough to say: I made a mistake. I will learn the needed lessons here and move forward. I will remember to be better in similar situations. This is about you learning to accept and forgive yourself.

The phone was silent. As I waited for him to respond I had this thought: I need to take my own advice.

We continued our conversation, but that thought stayed with me. And I thought how fortunate I was to know that God lives, hears my prayers, knows my heart and has faith in me.

I don't know if any of what I said helped my friend, but I know it helped me. I haven't been able to stop thinking about our conversation. I hope my friend can find the way to move forward from this and allow himself to let it go.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

annapolis in the fall

as promised some .jpgs of the united states naval academy in the fall

chapel dome with the evening light

amazing light on the leaves

at the twilight's last gleaming...

the chapel dome is just so photogenic

this little tree is just so cool.

i love this line of golden trees.

in the morning light

right outside my office.

i work in a beautiful place.

all photos taken with my
and edited in picasa

the pirate king

This is dedicated to Mrs. Kelly, who once crossed the street just to tell Kevin Kline that he is an American treasure. I agree.

A few things that stick out from the Classic Conversation with Kevin Kline:

When asked what is the secret to a successful 25 year relationship with his wife, he said: "I said no to a lot of things I wanted to do. I did projects close to home. I planned projects away from home during the summer so I could take my family with me." In other words, he made his family a priority and for that indeed he is a treasure.

image via
He didn't start out loving Shakespeare. He thought it was boring, useless and didn't understand it. He had to grow into loving it.

He didn't know right away that he wanted to be an actor. It took him a while through school and trying out different things to figure it out. He was a musician and played the piano in a rock band, which had business cards printed with the band's name: 
The One-Eyed Jacks
   Jacks are wild!

He chooses projects because he thinks they will be fun and challenges are always fun. They are successful because the people involved are generous. 

as Cyrano de Bergerac
He originally turned down the role of the Pirate King and the movie Dave. He shook his head at himself and said he finds that he's done that a lot, turned down roles initially that are actually quite good for him.

When asked how do you play stupid people so brilliantly, he replied: Because I'm stupid and I know it. It's like that quote from Socrates: "I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing." So, I am a genius.

All in all a fun night and a great insight into being creative and fearless.

Monday, November 28, 2011

things that made me smile this week

* a telephone message from brother R1's family. they passed the phone around to each person, who said, "happy thanksgiving!" it was a fun message, especially from the youngest who was trying so hard to get my name right. i love my family.

* the Muppets movie. i laughed and cried during this movie. it was so fun to see the Muppets again and to feel of the innocence and joyfulness they embody. disney got this movie right.

* new orange suede platform heels. they're so pretty and fun to wear.

* catching up with a good friend -- grown-up woman to woman talk, fantastic shopping (awesome boots). basically just all around great company. oh, and hearing about her boldness with a man just made me smile and feel so proud of her.

* thanksgiving spent with good friends, good food, baking pies and playing games. i'm so thankful for my dc family.

* gardening again this weekend. both the front and back gardens are ready for winter. i planted 70+ bulbs in the front and can't wait for the show to begin. the front garden is also pretty much ready for some serious planting next spring. the back is ready for some work to begin to rescue it.

* eating chocolate pecan pie while sitting on my front steps while taking a break from gardening.

* an overwhelming sense of gratitude about my life right now. i've come so far this year. it's been a tough year filled with lots of hard lessons and good things, that have been totally life changing. i'm so much more solid in who i am and what i want. i'm so thankful for ALL my experiences this year.

* walking to work each morning across campus, just makes me smile. i'm so excited for my new job and very thankful for all the help i'm getting so i can be successful.

* homemade pancit and lumpia. seriously good stuff. i'll be making some soon and sharing recipes.

* a week with the house all to myself, alone time is a good thing.

* missing my roommate and her dog Josiah. it's nice to have people to miss.

* lots of scripture study and time to ponder. i listened to the book of mormon on my ipod while i gardened on saturday, and it was really nice accompaniment to my day.

* watching sunrises in my bedroom.

* assisting a friend do some spiritual-healing release therapies. i've always wanted to tap into this and it's been fun to realize how much i already know and can do. the best part is realizing that intuitively i know what to do to help her and that i will be able to help others.

* "hello, my name is christine, and i'm addicted to kitchen gadgets..." my sister, the pampered chef consultant, is my enabler.

* lots of upcoming musical performances and plays to attend this month. so excited!

* waking up early. (wow! never thought i'd say that one.)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

bedroom sunrise

for some reason i can wake up at 6 a.m. on the weekend with no problem. and for the past couple of days I will climb out of bed just long enough to open the blinds and watch the light fill the room. it's one of those little pleasures in life that makes me happy.

this is what I see.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


I appreciate tradition. The connection to family and past through a cherished routine is visceral for me. There is a security, comfort and tangibility in breaking bread with family and friends.

And yet, lately, the most memorable times have been those moments when I throw aside tradition to do something totally new. Sometimes, it's a choice and other times it's circumstance.

Three years ago, I spent Thanksgiving in Kuwait. I was headed home from a deployment to Afghanistan. I passed the day with two traveling companions. We hung out in our tent, ate a late dinner in the chow hall--turkey with all fixings-plus--, played some pool and watched a black and white Cary Grant. Not totally without tradition, but the part I remember most is smuggling bottles of Welch's Sparkling Grape Juice (non-alcoholic) back to the tent. We saved one for when we finally got through military customs to start our flight home, so we could celebrate. It took a couple of tries, but our flight finally wasn't cancelled and we opened that bottle and passed it around as we waited to board our flight home.

This year, I decided not to travel home again. I rarely travel on Thanksgiving, because it's just too crazy and I like to save my leave for Christmas. A couple of close friends sent an invitation for dinner at their house for anyone who didn't already have plans. J&MP and I had talked about cooking a turkey together, because none of us had before and figured together we could figure it. However, it ended up just being the three of us.

I'm of the opinion that Thanksgiving dinner is same amount of work, whether it's for three people or 20 people. I was feeling lazy, so I convinced my friends that we needed to splurge on a really great dinner at a DC restaurant and that is exactly what we did. My friend SD was able to join us as well.

I had one of the best Thanksgiving dinners, in fact one of the best meals in my life. The food was amazing. It was Thanksgiving dinner from Italy and with fresh mozzarella, parmigiano and pecorino, pancetta and prosciutto for ingredients. We had turkey with the fixings and it was the best turkey I've ever eaten, so moist and perfectly flavored, with squash, stuffing, mashed potatoes and brussell sprouts. But dessert was an experience in and of itself - panna cotta, chocolate mousse, Torta del Finanziere (a carmel, brown butter apple cake) and, of course, pumpkin pie.  But wait, there was gelato! 

I've now decided that every Thanksgiving dinner must include gelato, and if it's from Bibiana then nothing else in the dinner matters. It was heaven on a spoon -- apple cider gelato that took me right back to the streets of Florence and dark chocolate gelato with so much cocoa you could feel the grains on your tongue. I was cheeky and asked for more gelato and we got these huge servings for the four of us to share as an after dinner treat. Our server, who was fabulous, told me that if I call ahead I can order gelato to go and the chef will prepare it for transport. I am so going to do to do this!!

After dinner we went back to my place to make pies, stopping off to get the "secret" ingredient for one of the pies, and to get ice cream and whipping cream. 

We made four pies: two Pumpkin-Apple Pies, one Old-Fashioned Apple Pie and a Bourbon Chocolate-Pecan Pie. We played around with cameras, played Rummikub and ate pie all night. It was great fun!

For an nontraditional Thanksgiving, this was definitely one for the books and had plenty of tradition mixed in:  good friends, pie making, games and great memories. I'm thankful for such a great day to add to my memories.

Here some photos of our pie making...

pumpkin-apple pie
apples on the bottom, pumpkin on the top

apple pie

the venting of the apple pie with stars

chocolate bourbon pecan pie
with chocolate covered pecans and 2 TBsp bourbon

eating apple pie

apple pie
And some photos from playing around with the cameras:

my house! 
playing the piano - i

playing the piano - ii

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

on loss

My heart aches today for a dear friend whose sister passed away this past weekend. I know the emptiness and pain this loss brings, and hope he soon finds comfort.

My heart also aches because it brings back so many memories, an over-abundance of memories, as I remember my own painful experiences with loss, letting go, and feeling alone.

Thankfully, pain lessens with time, and memories lose their sting. It doesn't ever go away entirely, and some days the freshness is still quite surprising. I know my friend will discover all this as he begins moving forward, and memories of time spent with his sister will become so much sweeter.

So, JH here's to your sister. To loss, pain, sweet memories, and moving forward. It's all part of what makes life so full and rich.

I wish I could be there with you. Hugs.

Monday, November 21, 2011

things that made me smile

* a potluck luncheon eaten outside on sunday afternoon with good friends from church. it was a gorgeous fall day filled with good food, great friends and conversation. can't wait for the next one.

* a dog who has proclaimed himself my new best friend. and who wouldn't leave me alone when i came home really upset and fell asleep on the couch with one hand on him as he lay near me. he kept checking to make sure i was okay and even moved up to the bedroom floor when i went upstairs as 4 a.m. and cried myself back to sleep. it was nice to not feel so alone in those moments of being upset.

* seeing friends who recenly returned from deployments or had spouses return from deployments. their happiness and joy at safe returns made me smile. i'm grateful for their sacrifices.

* hanging out for an evening with some of my brother and sister chief petty officers. it was fun to be together  to celebrate this year's new chiefs and take off "the boot."

* more gardening. almost ready to start planting.

* The Big Bang Theory. this show makes me laugh every time. it is therapeutic.

* sunshine. and gorgeous weather.

* reading good stuff: The Good Earth, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Book Got Wrong.

* having friday off and being able to spend time with a friend, working on healing and letting go.

* next week is thanksgiving. and i'm feeling a little lonesome for family, but very thankful for my dc family. i am so blessed to have such good friends.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

good food: heavenly applesauce

This is not the applesauce of your childhood. This is applesauce for more grown up and refined pallets. This is how it should taste.

My roommate sent me this review on Monday after eating applesauce and pancakes for breakfast:

Officially the sunrise was at 6:49 AM today, but the almost 10,000 taste buds dancing on my tongue, in their Ann of Green Gables voice, declared to my brain that “God is in His Heaven and all is right with the world” around 8:44 AM, as the first morsels of oatmeal pancake and heavenly applesauce, slide off my fork.   Is it really the type of food that makes it comfort food, the rituals associated with the preparing and eating of the food or is it when someone reaches into all that is and was good about their life experiences and with fond memories prepares a dish that reminds you that it’s a great time to be alive.  -LP on 14 November 2011

I think that's a more than sufficient introduction. So, here is the recipe for...

Heavenly Applesauce
1. In a medium saucepan pour 1/4 cup of water and start it heating.
2. Add 4 (or more, I filled up the pan) peeled, large apples (I've been using Golden Delicious), cut up into small slices.
3. Add about an 1/8 (more or less) cup of turbinado sugar, just enough to pull out the natural sweetness of the apples. Add more sugar if you use a tart apple.
4. Add cinnamon as desired.
5. Cook until it's all mushy and yummy. Basically, as you cook the apples and stir them regularly, they will make themselves into sauce. I usually leave it on the stove on medium-low for about an hour and a half stirring regularly until I feel it's the right consistency.
6. I let it cool a bit before eating. It's best eaten warm.
7. Eat with these pancakes and your taste buds, too, will talk to you in an Anne of Green Gables voice.

A variation:
Champagne Applesauce - A previous roommate once received a small bottle of champagne as a wedding favor. She used the whole bottle as the liquid for the applesauce and it was absolutely divine. Absolutely divine! I still dream about this applesauce.


good food: beanie's whole wheat oatmeal pancakes

I have vivid memories of these pancakes from my childhood. These are hands down my favorite pancakes of all time. I salivate at the mere thought of these pancakes.

Mom would make a huge batch of these on Saturday mornings and freeze the leftovers in bread bags. During the week on school mornings, we could pull out pancakes, stick them in the toaster to heat them up and have a quick, yummy breakfast.

I made homemade applesauce last week and my roommate said it would go great with pancakes. I immediately thought of my Mom's wholewheat oatmeal pancakes. So, on Sunday evening I made applesauce again and the pancakes to go with the applesauce. The pancakes are in the freezer providing quick breakfasts throughout the week for my roommate and I. Yum!

Beanie’s Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes
The measurements in parentheses are half the recipe = about 15 pancakes
Whole recipe = about 30 pancakes
Mix together: 
(2) 4 c. whole wheat flour
(1) 2  c. oatmeal (quick or soak old fashioned)
(1) 2 Tbsp. baking powder
(3/4) 1 ½ c. powdered milk
(1/2) 1 tsp. salt
(3/4) 1 ½ c. sugar

Mix separately: 
(2) 3 eggs
(1/4) ½ c. oil

(2-3) 4-6 c. water

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. If you are soaking the old-fashioned oats, do not add the oatmeal until you add the wet ingredients. Beat the eggs and oil together in a separate bowl and add to the dry ingredients. Then add water until you get the desired consistency for pancakes. Cook as you would pancakes. Freeze leftovers.

1. If you have old-fashioned oats, soak them for about 10 minutes in warm water before adding them to your mixture. Use the water you soaked them in as part of the required water.
2. If you don't have powdered milk, use regular milk as half of the required water. I did and it worked great.
3.  I used turbinado sugar instead of white sugar. I also added 1 tsp. vanilla and some cinnamon as well.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. I'll post my applesauce recipe later this week.

Monday, November 14, 2011

things that made me smile this week

* yes, i know it's a repeat... walking through the leaves and hearing that swooshing noise. it just makes me feel  like a little kid.

* new beginnings and full activity.

* reading books.

* dinners with my housemate. it's nice to have someone to talk with over dinner.

* gardening. i removed the blue spruce bushes from the front garden. it already looks amazing! i'm so excited for the possibilities.

* my mom sent me my birthday present 5 months in advance. i have a bag of forty daffodil bulbs to plant in my front and back gardens. i'm so excited. (i might share some with the neighbors, because i bought bulbs from the capitol hill garden club at eastern market a few weeks as well.)

* getting moments of organizational genius. thank you!

* brunch with good friends at eastern market. lots of fresh produce. apples. apples. apples.

* clean laundry.

* i called brother R2 and my littlest niece L answered the phone with her dad's help. all she said over and over was: "hi. Hi. HI." i love it.

* shopping for tickets home.

* Uggs. i know they're so ugly, they're cute, but what they do for my feet is amazing. everyone needs a pair of these boots. heaven for your feet.

* nephew L singing his favorite song to me over the phone: I Am A Child of God. he was telling me all about his part in the primary program from church today and just had to sing his favorite song to me. love this boy!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

fall around the hill

there is so much color every where i look these days.
these were taken two weekends ago as i walked and drove around the hill.

love the fall roses still in bloom.

for your sunday viewing pleasure.

more roses.

on the drive home from my sunroof.

12th and independence ave se

tennesse ave between c and d st ne

15th and d st ne

yes, I do drive around taking random photos in my car.
(usually at stop signs)

the following photos are not in dc, but they're still one of the reasons i love dc.
some of the views at the naval academy in annapolis, maryland.

the color in the background caught my eye one evening.

the naval academy bridge at sunset.

looking towards the playing fields on the far end of campus.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

thoughtful thursday: my wealth

i am grateful for what i am and have.
my thanksgiving is perpetual...
o how i laugh when i think of my vague indefinite riches.
no run on my bank can drain it
for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.

                                           ~henry david thoreau

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

things that made me smile this week

*the morning mist rising up through brightly colored trees along weems creek. it's my favorite part of the new commute.

*turning back the clock and waking up to sunshine.

*giving into an indulgence: watching the martha stewart show at work. (i'm all by myself in the office usually, so no one complains.)

*my nephew G's prayer as related to me by brother R2: "thank you heavenly father that i'm not a robot and can bend my neck." he stands up and bends his neck to make sure, and then kneels down again. "thank you heavenly father i'm not a robot and can bend my stomach." again he stands up, then bends at the waist to make sure.  it's good to be thankful for the little things, like being human. (oh, and somebody needs to check mom and make sure she's not a robot!)

*treating myself to dinner at le pain quotidien. i love this place! it has such a great atmosphere, beautiful music playing and seriously good food. i always feel so decadent eating there, but the food is super healthy. i set aside a couple of hours, bring a good book and just enjoy my dinner.

*watching a friend's life change as she works on changing her self perspective for the better. and being a part of the change. keep up the great work!!

*free cupcakes from Sprinkles! yes, there is now a geo-town location. sprinkles was the first bakery to feature only cupcakes. i always say the original is best, and these are no exception: perfectly moist, flavorful cake, not too sweet frosting and fun cupcake forks.

*the swooshing noise as i walk through dry leaves. i know i said this last week, but it's seriously one of my favorite sounds.

*becoming more aware of how involved god is in my life. it's nice recognizing him in my life and gives me a lot of comfort and faith.

*the anticipation of a day off this friday.

*i'm listening to lds general conference on my ipod during my morning commute. it sets such a great tone for my day. i'm so glad i have my ipod.

*cooking a good dinner on sunday. i made pan fried pork chops with gravy from drippings in the skillet. acorn and butternut squash puree with butter, salt and a little all spice. trader joe's peas with mint butter. homemade applesauce from golden delicious apples with a little turbinado sugar and cinnamon. good food always makes me smile. and i have leftovers for lunches this week.

*my roommate was away unexpectedly one night last week, and i was left with josiah. i left him asleep on the rug in the hallway and woke up to him on the floor next to my bed the next morning. i almost stepped on him. i love how much this dog loves me and i love him right back.

*a phone conversation with a great friend with whom i haven't spoken in years. it was so nice to catch up and hear her voice. hugs to you CJ!!

*it's november and the holiday season is upon us. i'm planning the decor in my head already.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

thoughtful thursday: sing

so sing, already! or do whatever it is you're good at.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

my comfy chair

 for a while now i've been dreaming of a comfy chair in my bedroom. this summer, when i moved into my fabulous new house, i began to sell some things on craigslist and started the comfy-chair fund.

a couple of weeks ago, my dream chair came home with me.
i love my new chair from ikea, it seriously makes me happy.

i paired the chair with:
one of the rugs i bought in afghanistan, 
and my silver adjustable lamp. 
dad, the little red bird you gave me for christmas last year is hanging from the lamp.
all i need is a small side table to set my cup of chamomile-spearmint tea and i'm set.

oh, and the color tabs on the wall...
well i've almost convinced myself not to repaint...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

reasons i love dc: the red church door

i just love this church. 
the red door brings a smile to my face and reminds me of england.

christ church on capitol hill
just another reason i love dc.