Monday, January 26, 2009

Pack Schmack

I am procrastinating. From packing. I usually like to pack because that means I get to organize clothes, but I am seriously unmotivated. We are headed to the Anglican Mission's Annual Winter Conference in Greensboro, NC. I'm actually pretty excited to go. Last year we had a great time too, but missed most of it because of flight delays. You can read about that here. (Notice that was the last time that blog saw any action. Hopefully not the same for this one!)

I'm pretty excited because
A) it's a break away from home and work schmerk (I love my job)
B) we will get to see our Rwandan Archbishop in all his Bishop-y finery
C) I really enjoy the other AMiA folks and women who are married to pastors/priests (notice my clever use of the alternate of "Pastor's Wife", thank you very much)
D) I get to wear cute clothes, hence the pressure of packing the right cute clothes

Anyway. Please pray for us as we travel. Our church has been going through so many things lately, and prayer for protection is definitely needed.

I got to talk to my lovely Alice last night. It made me happy and sad altogether. Happy because I got to hear her and sad because we don't live daily lives together. She is a true soul friend and I am so thankful for her!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

In house pub grub

Hey's Jack writing this time, making my Red Bay Days blog debut. Emily wears the blogging pants in this family, but from time to time, I get an idea for a post. No, there's no theological reflection to follow, so in case you were getting your finger ready to click to the next blog because you weren't signing up for a mini-devotional, do not fear. I know, I know, it's always a possibility with a pastor writing, but we're people too, and we do have other interests besides the spiritual life.

It's hard to get excited about much of anything in January, but we've found something to keep us excited around here though the weather is rubbish these days. Two words: comfort food. Being a novice, yet enthusiastic cook, I love to try new dishes, but have always had a bad attitude when cooking in the winter months. In the spring and summer, it's easy to get excited because I can step outside and clip some basil leaves, thyme and rosemary sprigs, and fresh food is a half hour away from landing on the table. In past winters I've been apathetic because I don't buy many herbs from the store because they're too stinkin' expensive. And then a few weeks ago it occurred to me that I'd forgotten a food group that was so important when I lived in England--root vegetables! Carrots and celery and onions and turnips and parsnips! Eureka Mirepoix! My culinary Seasonal Affective Disorder was lifted immediately.

With the eureka moment about root vegetables I remembered some of the great comfort food I discovered in pubs when I lived in Gateshead/Newcastle. Because the Crown and Goose in downtown Knoxville is out of our price range I decided to try my hand at some in house pub grub. With Jamie Oliver's reliable Happy Days cookbook as my guide, I knew I could pull it off. Steak and Guiness Pie was my first challenge, and even though I couldn't make it look like the picture in Jamie's book, it came out pretty well. Last Saturday was the perfect day for the pie because it was absurdly cold outside so it was ridiculous to leave the house for anything. Here's the visual before and after we dove in.

Feeling confident from the Steak and Guinness Pie, I stayed with the pie theme and tried my hand with Shepherd's Pie. You may not know this, but unless you use lamb meat as the base for Shepherd's Pie, well, it ain't Shepherd's Pie. To keep culinary integrity, you need to tell your family or guests that you're making Cottage Pie. British fare gets a raw deal as it is, so why pile on by misrepresenting a signature British dish? Look, if someone called your grits by another name, you'd get hot and bothered too.

Anyway, after I tacked on a stupidly good puff pastry (store bought, sadly) to the Steak/Guinness Pie, we decided to make pub grub/comfort food as healthy as possible. Hence the use of ground turkey in this Cottage (not Shepherd's--let's show respek!) Pie. Turkey does take away some of the flavor, but with a hand full of good dried herbs (sage especially!) it came out well, especially for a Monday. Yep, Monday night Pub Grub. That's the fare on Red Bay Way these days. Mondays in the Winter have never been so fun.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Yoga Bear

I did yoga. I breathed (hyper-ventilated), stretched, and moved in ways I never think about. It was awesome.

The instructor looked exactly like Santa Claus' hippie brother. This man is a hearty man, complete with the whitish beard and belly. But unlike Santa, this man can contort into positions that are branded into my memory. It has been at least seven years since I did a yoga class (in college with girlfriends and we laughed the whole time), so I wasn't sure what to expect tonight. He was a GREAT instructor so I just followed directions and didn't have a lot of trouble. I did look up once to see what he was doing and all I saw was a mass of skin and gym shorts. So I didn't look up any more!

He told us when to inhale and exhale and if I followed him exactly, I really felt like it was too much and I might begin to hyperventilate! It did make a difference to exhale when he said. I mean, the man probably knows. Just like Santa. I didn't break a sweat, which was nice because I had just gotten my hair did. But I felt really worked and stretched. I'm definitely going to add yoga into my weekly repertoire.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A House Divided: A Facebook Manifesto

Last night we had dinner with Jack's pastor's small group and the topic of Facebook and the use of Facebook came up. I am "friends" on Facebook with most of the people that were at the dinner. Jack is friends with the guys in real life. I am too, but more so on FB. So when we were all standing around chatting, we realized that we knew what was going on in each other's lives, not because we talk to each other regularly, but because we read each other's status updates. I see pictures of these people and their kids quite often. Not because I go to their house and they show me, but because pictures are posted and I am nosy and I look. And I am irritated when people don't caption their pictures so I can know who everyone is and where they are and what they are doing in these photos.

Facebook has taken over.

So, the title of this post. Jack hates facebook. He has threatened for months to delete his account. He still hasn't done it, mainly because I don't want him to because it will change my relationship status on facebook from "Married to Jack..." to just "Married." I want people to know WHO I'm married to! (I realized I ended that sentence with a prepostion... forgive me.) Jack only checks facebook when his email account piles up with friend requests and wall posts and group invitations. I check facebook every day. I tell Jack what all people are doing, who is pregnant, who is moving, etc. etc. The thing is, Jack doesn't care. I care. Hence, a house divided.

I, obviously, don't have a problem with facebook. I heart it. However, dinner parties like last night are a real wake up call for the manner in which our generation communicates. I mean, half of the folks who were there last night are our NEIGHBORS for crying out loud! Many of us live within a few miles of one another. And I will be the first to say that I don't know what's going on with them if it wasn't for good ole FB. I probably won't change my use of facebook, but I do want to be reminded that they are actual PEOPLE that have the facebook pages, the pages don't just appear on their own, the pages are created by actual living human beings and actual real-life FRIENDS.

Last year for Lent I gave up facebook and it was HARD. I felt pretty disconnected, sadly. I used the "you can do it on Sunday" rule, fo' sho. I will probably do that again this year for Lent. The days that I work at Bradley's, I can't check email or facebook. The good thing is, it doesn't cross my mind all day. When I get home, it's not even the first thing I think about. I do check it eventually and it takes me a while to comb through status updates and to see what everyone else has done that day. My problem is that I LOVE to know what people are doing, talking about, eating, blahbitty blah blah. I WANT TO KNOW!!! Someone said last night that stay-at-home moms were the demographic who uses facebook the most. I can definitely see that. It's a way to stay in the know and feel part of things, even if it's impersonal. It's easy and makes you feel connected. I say that with complete openness and knowing that a phone call or face-to-face conversation is perferred, generally. But if you can't do that.... facebook is the answer.

Aside from the status updates and knowing and seeing what everyone you've ever known is doing, I don't participate in the games, the pokes, the applications, etc. I did really love the Flair application... there were some really funny political flair(s?). But when facebook changed it's format, that kind of got lost. I don't have facebook on my cell phone and I don't send people gifts like pandas or toaster ovens. I only post photos once every six months. I didn't post my political opinions. I don't use "Twitter," whatever the heck that is. Currently, I have 85 requests to all sorts of things, and 51 updates that I don't even open.

So maybe facebook isn't all bad and isn't completely destroying us. Or maybe it is. Either way, in our house, we've reached an understanding that I use it and love it and want it, and Jack wants nothing to do with it and thinks its the ruin of our generation(s). The couple who hosted the dinner last night are in their early 50's and were just flabbergasted at our conversation about facebook. They were happy to be in the dark with FB. Jack wants to join them in the dark side. I don't. I'm quite happy to be in the facebook light.

Monday, January 5, 2009


Last night we saw "Doubt" starring Meryl Streep and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I will see just about any movie starring either of these actors. The storyline didn't necessarily blow me away, but the acting definitely did. I love to watch indie movies where you can see the actor really pouring themselves into a role. Anne Hathaway did that in "Rachel Getting Married". Michael Douglas did in "King of California". Ever since we have had Netflix, indie movies and obscure, artsy movies have become quite popular at our little house. But anyway, back to Doubt. It was really interesting since Jack is a priest and we are in the Anglican church. To see people acting church and acting giving a sermon was pretty strange, actually. But I DO recommend the movie, especially if you appreciate acting and not just for entertainment.

I have been playing at home today, getting my house back in order from the holidays and ready for work to begin again. I start back tomorrow and I'm SO excited! I do best in a routine and schedule. Yay for 2009!

Tonight for dinner I made a lovely chicken recipe in the crockpot. Chicken with onions, apples, and lots of rosemary. Broth and a little cream of celery mixed in, then served over rice. YUM. I LOVE the crockpot and this recipe did not let us down. Robin Miller inspired me, yet again. And because is was in the crockpot, we got to eat earlier than normal, which means that Jack is now playing FIFA 07 on Playstation and I am going to read my book! And maybe we'll have a little taste of ice cream??? Perhaps?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

It's a New Year and a New Blog

I read blogs ALL the time. I love to read anything... books, magazines, news, but recently, blogs are just especially interesting. I know, I know, I gave up "Plain or Peanut" soon after we got married, and I just never got back in the rhythm of writing. But now I figured that it's only fair that if I read so many other people's blogs, I should have my own. AND this time is different too because maybe Husband Jack will contribute.

So my last blog was mostly about school, working at WVLT, and dating Pastor Jack. Well, I no longer am in school, working has changed (a couple of times, actually), and Pastor Jack has become Husband Jack (but he's still a pastor... no, make that a Priest!). Oh, one thing that is fun... I wrote some in my last blog about my amazing Shakespeare professor at UT, Heather Hirshfield. I could say ANYTHING in class and she would write it on the board and make me feel like a genius. "Ok, Emily, I see your point... let's go with that and explore this NEW theory on the possibility that YOU'VE given us!" She is great.... and now... she's our NEIGHBOR. That's right, she lives right across the street from us. AND we are on the homeowner's board together. The Montrose Court Homeowner's Board gives me many possiblities for blog entries, let me tell ya.

This picture is from our church Christmas party and also the one I used for our New Year's cards.

That's right... New Year's cards. I just did not make Christmas cards a priority this year. We were slammed with working, family and friends' events and the week of Christmas was here before we knew it. But we survived and enjoyed it! So, happy 2009 and happy new blog!