Thursday, June 30, 2011

I will be "off the grid" this weekend, so please take this opportunity to check out some of my favorite blogs and websites, from the interwebz:

  • The Gospel Coalition - where I get all my theology news (when not directly reading the Bible, that is).

  • Goodreads - addictive online bookshelf. Check out my stuff (KellysPinkBicycle) and add me to your friends list!

What are some of your favorite sites around the interwebz???

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Miscellany - June 27th

Welcome to Monday Miscellany, where I present the best of this week in people, places, and things  (in my opinion, at least). 

I have to put Mama Carmen's on my list, first and foremost. If you haven't been yet, you need to stop by. It's an espresso cafe serving coffee from a farm in Guatemala. The story of the coffee farm is absolutely amazing (click here to read about it), and anyone working at Mama Carmen's would be more than happy to relay the story to you. The coffee is amazing - I have tweeted about it literally every single time I go (which is a lot), and the teas are fantastic. It's one of my favorite places to chill, blog, read, or hang out with friends. They also have a Global Shoppe that "operates in the spirit of fair trade, seeking to make a positive difference in the lives of the artisans with whom we work by purchasing their products for a fair price and providing market access for their products in the US" (from their Facebook page). You can find anything from handmade bracelets and purses to carved wooden bowls and figurines. Every item is handmade by artisans who are being supported spiritually and financially by the work they produce. Great coffee, great cause.

Next, I found this infographic on Mashable a few days ago, called "Social Dudes and Fast Food." It compares the eating habits of guys in regard to, well, fast food. For your information, guys love McDonald's fries above anything else. Guys apparently also order three junior bacon cheeseburgers on a ridiculously consistent basis (it was the second most popular meal, right behind Taco Bell's cheesy Double-Decker tacos). I also found another interactive infographic this week, called "How Many Households are Like Yours," from the New York Times. For example, I can click on the "married couple" and learn that 21% of American households are married couples. I can also see the average income, ethnicity distribution, and other demographic information along the bottom of the screen. That way, I can feel bad that I don't "represent" well, or feel superior that I overqualify. Hmmm. I can also add in children, parents, boarders, siblings, etc. and see how others live your kind of life. Pretty cool. The best feature: the silhouette icons, especially grandpa. 

Having just celebrated one year of wifehood, I am becoming quite sentimental and nostalgic (these are different things. Kinda.) about the memories we share together. I found this incredibly sweet journal constructed by Monika Wright on her blog. I tried to do a journal challenge this month that was similar, but (confession) I got through day four. Okay, fine, day three. But if I had a week of uninterrupted time and a room where I could spread my entire collection of glitter pens, craft scissors, glue, stickers, buttons, hot glue gun, sequins, ribbon, and crafting paper, then I could do make a journal that would Rock. Your. World. Or at least your Thursday. 

Finally, a rant. So there are several baked goods I would like to master over the course of the next few years, and honestly, the "cake pop" is not one of them.
I don't understand cake pops, nor the recent fascination with them. Why do we need this single serving cake-on-a-stick? Why not just eat a piece of cake? Doesn't this "pop" fall off the stick after one bite, thus negating the utility of the stick itself? There is apparently even a cookbook dedicated solely to cake pops, titled, Cake Pops: Tips, Tricks, and Recipes for More than 40 Irresistible Mini Treatswherein you can learn about making martian cake pops, apple cake pops, and even bride and groom cake pops (because nothing says "Congratulations!" like biting off the bride's delicious cake-y torso). 

So instead of the cake pop, I suggest a radically upsetting alternative: the cupcake. Why? I'm glad you asked:
  1. Larger bites-per-treat ratio. With the cake pop, you get 1-2 bites. That's it. Just enough for me to get upset that I have to go back for seconds, thirds, and fourths to get an appeasable portion. Not cool. With a cupcake, you get at least 4-5 bites of pure deliciousness veiled in a rich layer of icing. Yum...
  2. Ease of decoration. With cake pops, you pretty much have to roll them in something (sprinkles, nuts, cocoa powder, sprinkles, nuts...) or make them into a face, apple, or other generally round object. But with the cupcake, you have a fantastic canvas upon which to paint your sacchariferous masterpiece. Perhaps you're throwing a basketball-themed party. How about hoops and basketballs on top of yellow spiced cupcakes! Are you into Alice in Wonderland? How about some Cheshire cats and tea cups atop chocolate cupcakes! The possibilities are endless. Endless, I tell you. 
  3. Ease of preparation. From my experience, cupcakes are made in four steps: Mix. Bake. Cool. Decorate. Simple, straightforward, and (fairly) foolproof. However, in this "easy" recipe from Little Miss Momma, cake pops seem to require eight steps (though some of her steps have steps which, in my opinion, is cheating). That means there are eight separate opportunities for me to completely screw up the entire recipe and hurl a massive cakefrostingburntchocolateball into the trash can. Four steps I can handle. But eight? Eight? Have you seen me make instant rice?! I still read the directions.
  4. You can "stuff" cupcakes. Do you grasp the implications of that statement? You can STUFF cupcakes. Rumor has it that cupcakes have been stuffed with cookies, chocolate-covered cherries, mousse, dried fruit, chocolate chunks, creme, and a plethora of other divine bakery goodies. Apparently, there is even a bakery in New Jersey called "Stuffed Cupcakes." That's their whole thing. People make a living putting sweets inside cupcakes. The best part of this is, in reality, you get two-for-one: candy, cookie, creme, etc. plus a cupcake. And any time the words "two-for-one" and "cupcakes" are combined, the gold at the end of a rainbow doubles in size. Truth. 
My wedding (cup)cakes.

So that is why I think cupcakes are superior to cake pops. I hope you feel better about this serious and highly contestable topic. I also hope you have a fantastic week involving lots of stuffed cupcakes and Mama Carmen's coffee!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Meal with Jesus

In the past year I feel like I've become a completely different person. Before I was "Mrs. Peterson," I was introverted, career-minded, and - to be very honest - depressed. I was always anxious about social situations, making up random sicknesses and deadlines to excuse myself from anything that required conversation with more than one person. Eventually I ran out of excuses, but that was typically about the same time people stopped asking me. It was like an unspoken agreement: everyone knew I was lying to get out of social activities, but no one was allowed to say it outright. I never invited anyone over for dinner, coffee, or a movie.

Skip ahead to June 27, 2010 - the day I got married. It never really clicked with me that all those quiet nights alone were no longer a reality. I was married, and my husband was going to live with me. In our apartment. Every night. And more importantly, he had a right to do so. This may sound silly, but it took a lot of time for me to get accustomed to having someone else there with me (side note: I had a single room in college, then moved into an apartment by myself for my first job, then bought my own house....), even though I loved him and was absolutely thrilled to be married. I would go into the other room, then get upset when John would eventually wander in. This is my space! I would think to myself. Why is he here?!

Courtesy of

Over the past year I changed so much. I've made new friends, grown (slightly) more patient, and realized how much I've missed out on by retreating into seclusion.

I began to love going out to coffee with friends.

I began to love holding their babies.

I began to love asking them for advice, and giving advice when asked.

I began to love going out on double dates.

I began to love running into people I know at Walmart and stopping for a quick chat.

And the thing is, about the time I had this massive shift in perspective, John bought this book called A Meal with Jesus by Tim Chester. He bought it for himself, but I ended up reading it as well.  In it, Chester talks about how the ultimate witnessing tool is food. How the idea of sharing a meal together is far more intimate than we realize.
"When we invite people into our homes, we're putting ourselves on display. How will they evaluate our cooking, cleaning, decor, or parenting? Craving other people's approval or fearing their censure is what the Bible calls 'fear of man.' The Bible's antidote is the 'fear of the Lord.' When God's opinion is what matters most - the God who smiles on us in His grace - then we're liberated to serve others our of love, rather than gain their good opinion."

"We (Christians) should have a reputation for throwing the best parties."

"Jesus didn't run projects, establish ministries, create programs, or put on events. He ate meals. If you routinely share meals and you have a passion for Jesus, then you'll be doing mission."

As I read all these things I realized that this newly discovered openness was not random, nor was it "me" becoming a better person. It was God telling me, Kelly, this is your mission. I need you to start sharing life with your brothers and sisters. 


So I have been, and it's amazing. Just this past week John and I hosted community group at our apartment. Nothing fancy at all, just a picnic-themed potluck with a dozen or so friends from church. I was a bit nervous (especially since the electricity in our complex went out three hours before...but it eventually came back on), and I worried way too much about my cleaning/tidying abilities. But as soon as everyone arrived I thanked God for allowing us to host, and for putting this love in my heart. And I cannot wait for the next opportunity to share life with His children, my brothers and sisters.

(Here is a great review of the book from The Gospel Coalition's Justin Taylor, if you're interested...)

Monday, June 20, 2011

What I've found this week...

So, I read quite a few news articles throughout my week. And blog posts. And health magazines. And...well, you get the picture. I'm always finding things that I like or want to share, collecting the links like a child catching fireflies in mason jars.

Only my mason jars are called Pinterest, Google Reader, and Springpad. 

And while collecting all the articles, tips, pictures, recipes, and interviews is fun, it really doesn't help me know if anyone shares my sense of humor and/or obsessive fascination with crafty mom blogs. So I've decided I will cultivate my "blog crop" throughout the week, then prepare a delicious internet feast for you to dine upon each Monday. (I'm pretty impressed with my extended metaphor. That took some work.) Why Monday? Because we generally don't have a lot to look forward to on Mondays. Or Tuesdays, but I really don't think two days in a row is healthy for either of us. I'm just sayin'.

Also not healthy - chocolate glazed donuts with rainbow sprinkles.

Welcome to.....Monday Miscellany!
(okay yes, I looked up words on until I found an "m" word that would match. I like alliteration, okay? Don't judge.)

First up is American Pickers. Have you seen this show? Because if you haven't then you probably have no idea that a box full of old door handles left in your Uncle Elmer's barn for 30 years is worth $100 easy. To who? Um, interior decorators and people on ebay who, you know, collect doorknobs. Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz are the shows stars, driving around the U.S. looking for "dilapidated barns and overgrown yards" where treasures are often hidden. It's soooo much cooler than Antiques Roadshow.

Next is this awesome trailer renovation at Re-Nest. First off, you need to understand that I love tiny things. Dollhouses? Yes please. Baby carrots? Love them. Petit Fours? Ah-dorable! Teacup poodles? Okay, I have to draw the line somewhere, and I choose the point at which I measure an animal by the dinnerware it can fit inside. Anyway, this woman was given this abandoned trailer by a friend who didn't really want it on her property anymore (Happy birthday! I got you a trailer!!!) She ended up turning it into the cutest, most adorable living space on four wheels. There's a wood-burning stove, an impressively sized bookshelf, a bedroom, and a living room...all for $1200. Yeah. I could totally do an all-American road trip if I were set up like that. 

Okay, read this slowly to take it all in: in approximately the same amount of time it takes me to wash, dry, and fold a week's worth of laundry - four hours - this woman made FORTY-SIX meals for her family. In four hours. Four. This included (from her site): "Tomato Basil Soup, Sesame Chicken, Balsamic Roasted Chicken Thighs, Parmesan Garlic Chicken, Buttermilk Herb Chicken, Pesto Chicken, Cranberry Chicken, Dijon Pork Roast, Bourbon Brown Sugar Pork Chops, and Hamburgers." I think my favorite quote, however, was this one: "I often will make huge batches of 40 or so waffles and freeze them so the kids can pull them out on a weekday morning." Oh, me too! No I don't. I wish I was this meal-savvy, but I'm often the one standing in front of the pantry trying to figure out what I can make for dinner that doesn't involve the words "microwaveable" or "Whiz." I'm pretty amazed by her drive and determination to make healthy meals for her family, and I dream about the day that I, too, will make 46 meals in four hours. And then I grab a can of soup and call it a day...

Finally, a 1950s Murder Mystery Engagement Party. Yes, that's also pronounced "the coolest freaking idea in the world. Ever." Everyone dresses up in their favorite 1950s poodle skirts and rolled up jeans (because we all, apparently, have several to choose from. Pick your is an engagement party, after all...), then we gather around a table and eat hamburgers, french fries, vanilla shakes, and banana splits while doting over pictures of Lawrence Welk and Elvis and listening to records of the Beach Boys. How much fun would that be?!?! Someone get engaged, quick!

That's all for this week. Stayed tuned for more awesome finds...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Stopping to Smell the (Wild)flowers

Ozark Natural Science Center, June 2011

I live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. 
Even though we've had snow, rain, hail, and a variety of other random weather issues in the last six months, the flowers, trees, berries, and wildlife have survived. Not only that, they seem even more beautiful than last year. Here's a sampling of what I've seen so far this year, and if you know what any of these flowers are, please let me know!

Mud Creek Trail, May 2011

Mud Creek Trail, May 2011

Mud Creek Trail, May 2011

Mud Creek Trail, May 2011

Mud Creek Trail, May 2011
Ozark Natural Science Center, June 2011
Ozark Natural Science Center, June 2011

Note: all photos were taken with iPhone 4 and filtered through Instagram.

Monday, June 13, 2011

AWBU and ONSC - Blogging in the Wilderness

This weekend I had the opportunity to experience AWBU - Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged - at the Ozark Natural Science Center in Hunstville, AR. It was sooooo helpful, and I made a lot of new friends. Below is a list of a few of the awesome women I met at the conference, along with links to their blogs. I'll be posting more later, so check them out!

Mindless Wanderings
Eggs and Herbs
The Brokins
NWA Foodie
The Busy Nothings
For Love of Geek

Here are some pictures of the conference. Seriously, it was an amazingly relaxing, uplifting, encouraging weekend. I can't wait for next year!

Elmer's Glue sponsored craft night for all the AWBU bloggers! It was FANTASTIC!!!

glue, tape, tri-fold foam boards, scissors, paint markers, gel pens....

The Ozark Natural Science Center's porch, with an incredible view...

the path back to the ONSC main building and outdoor classroom

I loved this sign.

ONSC in the morning
a random wildflower

an on-site beehive


And thanks SO much to the sponsors!!!

Collective Bias - some of the sweetest ladies I've ever met
SC Johnson - they brought Off! Botanicals and all kinds of other goodies
H.J. Heinz - adorable travel-size ketchup bottles
MurphyUSA - gas cards, water bottles, pedometers, and more
Field Notes Brand - super-cute journals
Petit Jean Meats - yummy breakfast bacon
NWA Motherlode - M&M's and awesome advice for moms and non-moms alike
Elmer's Glue - oh my gosh, they provided craft night and we got to take all the supplies home!
Ghirardelli Chocolate - 'nuff said.