November 1, 2012

Fall Recipe

I have a lot of favorite things in life, but my husband and food are way up there on the list. So naturally, it's the highlight of my day when Tim and I hang out in the kitchen together, cooking up something yummy. I have grown to really love cooking, but it’s mostly because I have such an awesome sous chef! Tim is great about helping me cook and making it a fun, quality-time experience. (If you are married, I highly suggest cooking TOGETHER! It's less stressful when you have a helper, and it's more fun!) 

There is one big problem with my cooking, though- I never measure things. And not because I'm some sort of Julia Child, but because measuring utensils require washing. And even though Tim and I also clean up dinner together, dirty dishes are my arch nemesis. Not measuring = no washing! But not measuring also = slim chances of identically reproducing a really delicious meal... Today, however is a special day because I have been working on an original recipe that actually has calculated ingredients! I’ve made and re-made this dish several times in the last year or so, and I think I have finally perfected the recipe. And seeing as I actually wrote it all down, I figured it was only fair for me to share. (I do realize that I'm not the first person to put pretzels on chicken- I won't take credit for that.) My test subject (aka: Tim) has sampled each variety, and this is his favorite. So, without further ado, here is my 

Smoky Pretzel Chicken with Savory Peanut Sauce.

-        2 lbs chicken tenders, trimmed and patted dry
-        2 cups pretzel twists (You’ll want to use the twists opposed to other varieties because they have the most        

         “outside” area. The dark outside of the pretzel is what contributes the best flavor. Weird, I know.)
-        2 Tbs olive oil

-        2 Tbs. olive or canola oil
-        2 Tbs. chipotle chili adobo sauce (Found at any grocery store in the hispanic aisle.)
-        2 Tbs. brown sugar

-        1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar

Peanut Sauce
-        1 Tbs. olive or canola oil

-        1 Tbs. peanut butter
-        1 Tbs. brown sugar
-        2 Tbs. soy sauce
-        2 Tbs. chipotle chili adobo sauce


1)      Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2)      Clean and trim your chicken tenders until they’re nice and lean. Pound out any thick parts, pat dry, and set aside. 

I don't know why I took this picture.

3)      In a large ziplock bag, combine ingredients for the marinade. Squish the bag to mix it all together.

They spell "chipotle" wrong. Hehe!
Just a heads up about the chilies: they are SPICY! I can think of zero reasons why someone would need an entire can of these. But if you're not a spicy person (I am not) don't worry, we won't be using the actual peppers in this recipe, only the adobo sauce. It has much less of a spicy and more of a smoky flavor. Scoop out the adobo for the marinade and peanut sauce, then save the chilies to make yummy Mexican chili later in the week!

- Another side note: it was at this point in the night that I neglected to take any more photos... So hopefully the raw chicken and mini tin can will tide you over until you can see what it looks like for yourself. Ma bad! - 

4)      Add chicken tenders to the bag and let sit in the marinade for 30 minutes or so.

5)      Pour ½ cup of the pretzels into a food processor. Pulse until finely crushed (almost powdery).
6)      Pour the remaining pretzels into the food processor. Pulse to crush, but allow coarse pieces to remain. Shake the container a bit to mix the pretzels together then spread evenly onto a plate. (I add a little bit of kosher salt here because I’m a sodium fiend.)
7)      One by one, remove tenders from marinade and press into the pretzel crumbs. Get ‘em good an covered!
8)     Place tenders side-by-side in a 9x13 baking dish and baste or drizzle with a bit of olive oil.*
9)     Bake for 30 minutes.
10)   While tenders are baking, melt peanut butter and oil in a small saucepan over low heat. 
11)    Stir in remaining sauce ingredients. Heat until the mixture thickens, stirring frequently.
12)   Serve warm as a dipping sauce for tenders.

Yields: 2 servings with leftovers

*You can achieve a similar effect by cooking the tenders in a medium hot skillet with 2-4 Tbs of olive oil for about 4 minutes on each side. I’ve tried it both ways, and I’ve decided that the oven-baked version is a little more flavorful.

We usually eat this meal with garlic roasted broccoli and some form of rice/orzo/cous cous. I hope you enjoy!!

Favorite chef-inducing jam: On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons
Melody's favorite cooking utensil: Silicon basting brush
Tim's favorite cooking utensil: Cleaver
Favorite place to eat: on the couch

June 7, 2012


At the end of this month my husband, Tim, and I will be celebrating our 3-year anniversary. I still feel like a kid most of the time, so it’s hard to believe it’s already been as long as it has. Time flies when you’re having fun! And our marriage has definitely been fun. Truthfully though, Tim makes being married easy- he is the most consistent, intentional, and thoughtful person I know. The funny thing is, we couldn’t be any more different if we tried. When it comes to personality, interests, strengths, or activities, we are literally on opposite ends of the spectrum about 90% of the time. Here are a few examples:

Tim loves sports.
I love art.

Tim is very disciplined.
I am what we call “free-spirited.”

Tim will dress our future children in things like this:

I will dress them like this:

Tim knows what he likes.
I like to try new things.

Tim runs marathons.

I run into shopping carts.


Tim doesn't eat bread.
I plan to open a bakery.

Tim is prompt.
I am on-time if I'm lucky.

Tim hates to dance.
I dance like a crazy person.

Despite our obvious differences, there is one common thread that makes our relationship congruent and complete: Jesus Christ. I know that my husband loves the Lord with all of his heart, and it is only because of that commitment that he is able to fully love me in return. I can’t imagine being married to a man with more wisdom, integrity, and patience than Tim. I am truly blessed beyond measure. But if I had never experienced the love of Jesus, and made the decision to live my life for Him, I know I would never be able to love Tim with any amount of sufficiency.  

We love because He first loved us.

So yes, sometimes we don’t “get” each other, and maybe we can only count our mutual interests on one hand. But our marriage works because we recognize that fulfillment is found in Christ alone. It doesn’t mean we’re perfect or we don’t face challenges. But it does mean that when Christ is our everything, we are free to love each other simply because it glorifies Him, and not because we have to earn each other's affection. I can't think of a better reason to celebrate an anniversary!

May 12, 2012


If you have ever left me a voicemail, sent me a text, written me a Facebook message, tweeted at me, posted on my wall, commented on my photo, or anything of the like, you have probably noticed that I am the slowest at responding. It is not uncommon for me to reply to a text message 3 or 4 days after I received it. I’m sorry if this has ever hurt anyone’s feelings!

I love keeping in touch with my friends and family, and I’m blessed to have the ability to do so. I have an iPhone. It’s a nifty little gadget that I’m really grateful for. I can virtually connect with other human beings 24 hours a day if I want to.  I have access to a constant flow of updates, photos, events, and links. But I would submit that if I never allowed myself to put the phone down, leave it in another room, and miss out on a few messages, the iPhone has the ability to wreck my relationships, my walk with the Lord, and my reputation.

I am a quality time person. There is nothing that fills me up more than some good face-to-face time with a person that I care about. So naturally, it really bothers me when I am trying to have a conversation with someone who is constantly checking her phone. I actually take it really personally. I don’t think anything says “you’re not important” more than virtually disconnecting from someone’s presence, physically demonstrating that the tiny gadget in the palm of your hand is more worthy of your full attention. But unfortunately this has become something I practice in my own life on a regular basis. Who honestly enjoys spending time with a friend or family member who is constantly enraptured in the most recent version of Angry Birds? It makes valuable conversation impossible.

I think about it this way: I love to host dinners and hang outs for the people in my life. Sometimes I will make snacks, or burn candles, or have fun music playing. I do these small things because I want others to feel welcome when they walk into our home. I want to create an atmosphere where my guests feel free to engage in laughter and conversation with my husband and me. Never in a million years would I welcome friends into my house only to say “Hey guys! I’ve been wanting to do some shopping, but you go ahead and make yourselves at home. I’ll be back as soon as I’ve browsed through all of my favorite stores.”  That would be absurd! So why has it become completely acceptable for us to treat others with this type of disregard when it comes to our phones? We sit down for dinner with our best friend and decide that it would be a better use of time to browse the Women’s Apparel section on Pinterest.

I’m a fan of social media. And I understand that being “connected” to whatever goes on in cyberspace is really important to some people. I’m not suggesting that you only check your Facebook app when you’re in seclusion on the toilet. But here is what I’m getting at:

Every person you come in contact with is a guest in your presence.

What kind of atmosphere are you creating? Are you putting out the welcome mat? I can return the calls I miss, and send belated responses to hour-old text messages.  But I can never re-live my interactions with people. There have been way too many times that I look back and wish I would have been more actively engaged in a conversation with my husband, or more aware of the students sitting near me at Lemontree, and not mindlessly scrolling through my Twitter feed. These are the things that I want to take priority over the latest Condescending Wonka tweet. So if you haven’t heard from me in a few hours, I assure you it’s not because I don’t care! I just want to be the most welcoming hostess to the people in my presence, and I can do that best if I put my phone away.

March 3, 2012

Herringbone Painting

I decided that I would do a tutorial for the painting that I blogged about here because I finally remembered to take step-by-step photos - something I have forgotten to do for at least 12 other projects. If you are wondering what kind of lens I used for these photos, it's called iPhone 4G. *wink*

Now, without further adieu, my maiden tutorial voyage:

We've been living in our house now for about 1 1/2 years, and the wall behind our dining table has been stark naked since the day we moved in. I'm not the kind of person that can go out and fill my house with generic decor items just to call it complete. It takes me a looooong time to find something that I love. So long, in fact, that I usually end up making whatever it is myself. Because once I get an idea of something I would like in my head, inevitably it does not exist in any store imaginable. This is probably a good thing because it forces me to think outside the box and come up with creative ways to make things my own without breaking the bank.

So anyway, I came across this print on Pinterest and I was sold.

Found at
But after looking at the price tag, $328.00 was not going to make the cut. It seemed simple enough to make, so I decided to give it a try. Here are the materials that you'll need.

- Canvas
I bought a 30" x 40" Gallery Wrapped canvas at Michael's. My biggest piece of advice when shopping at Michael's: don't be an idiot! Do not even think about paying full price for anything there. They have 40% and 50% coupons available all the time. I just Googled a coupon while I was standing in line at the check out and they gave me credit for showing them the image on my smart phone. My canvas was originally $60 and I paid $30. Woot!

- Paint
I'm a cheapskate, so I bought two small bottles of acrylic paint, and used whatever else I already had at home. Including latex paint leftover from painting the wood trim in my house, which I'm not even sure is allowed. But it's art, so I figured there aren't really rules, right?

- Paint brushes
I used a total of 6 brushes for this project: a few artist brushes in various sizes, and 3 larger paint brushes (1 1/2", 2", and 2 1/2") that I typically use to paint walls and furniture. Just make sure that if you use latex paint, clean your brushes really well immediately after you use them! Acrylic should rinse out easily.

- Painter's tape
The width of the tape will determine the look of the painting. I used 1" tape, but any size would work.

- Scissors
- Drop cloth
- Patience

Hokay, first cover your work space with a drop cloth. Duh.
Second, paint whatever crazy design you want until there is no more white showing on your canvas. Or leave white showing, it's up to you. No rules, remember? This part was a little nerve-racking for me because I had no idea what I was doing. I started out with a crazy starburst/tie dye theme, but ended up with this simple vertical pattern of brush strokes.

The great thing about paint is that you can always paint over something you don't like! I really did not like the starburst thing I had going originally, and after making all of the changes for the above picture, I woke up the next morning and felt like it was now too neon and bold. I ended up muting a lot of the bright greens/yellows with softer blues and neutral tans, and ended up with this slightly varied version of the above photo.

Don't be afraid to manipulate it several times until you end up with something you really love.

Next, after allowing the painting to dry FULLY, I started playing around with the pattern I wanted to create over the top of the painting. I really liked the herringbone design in the photo from Pinterest, so I went with that. I cut several lengths of tape and laid them out on my dining table in various arrangements. I ended up with this combination of strips:

Not really sure how that fork got in there...

I liked having the tiny space between each strip, but you can close the gap if you prefer. The biggest thing to remember is that for your first canvas-wide herringbone stripe, make sure that you measure your strips of tape. The longest section of tape that creates the "forward slash" should be the same length as the shorter "back slash" strip + the width of your tape + the width of your tape. For instance, because my tape was 1" wide, my long strips were cut to 5" because my shorter strips were 3". (3" + 1" + 1" = 5") It's going to vary slightly because of the gaps in between strips, but as long as the first stripe you put on the canvas is fairly straight and consistent, the rest of the stripes should follow suit. 

Now that you have the pattern down, start taping! I suggest placing your first stripe across the middle of the canvas. This will ensure that your pattern remains consistent above and below the most focal portion of the canvas. Here we are with three stripes down:

Yes, that is my dog's paw. She sat under the table the entire time.

After laying your first stripe of pre-measured tape, measuring will no longer be necessary if you follow along with the original layout of the tape. By placing the edge of the tape in the right starting location, you can unroll the tape and cut it at the necessary length like this:

Repeat the "forward slash" and back slash" pattern until you make it across the canvas. Then keep taping...

And taping...

This whole process took close to three hours. If that seems like too much time, keep in mind that my canvas was giant and it would take considerably less time for a smaller canvas. 

Once everything is all taped up, it's time to paint again! Make sure that all of your tape is stuck down and no corners are curling. The tape doesn't adhere super well to canvas, so you'll have to be gentle with the next step: painting the outline for the herringbone pattern. Keep in mind that anything not covered in tape will be covered with a solid color. The photo from Pinterest showed some larger gaps, as if parts of the herringbone were "missing." You could easily achieve this look by removing a few strips of tape in various locations. I decided to forgo this step. I also wanted more of my painting to show behind the herringbone stripes, so that is why I kept my strips of tape really close together. If you like a bolder pattern, then you might want to make more space between your strips.

For this step I used a can of paint that the previous owners of our home left in the basement. It's probably at least 10 years old, and I had no idea there was a brand called "Easy Living" but it was free! So I used it. I wanted a white pattern, but any color would work.

Using my largest paint brush, I started painting over my entire canvas. It was easiest for me to imitate the pattern of the tape with my brush strokes, making me less-likely to peel up an edge of the tape with my brush. Once your canvas looks like a hot mess, you're done! Don't worry if there is still tape showing through. The most important part is good coverage between the tape.

I let the white paint dry for several hours before I pulled the tape off, but that's probably not necessary. I thought the lines were pretty crisp, all things considered. You can also see that I didn't stress about getting all of my strips of tape exactly the same distance away from each other. I liked having a little bit of variance and a subtle "messy" look.

Thankfully it didn't take forever to remove the tape because I had several awesome girls from youth group sit and help me peel those suckers off. And the final result: love it!

I ended up spending a total of $41 on this project. A savings of $287 if you factor in the cost of the original inspiration print. Not too shabby!

 And as if this post isn't long enough, some more useless details!

Favorite art-inducing jam: Islands by The xx
Favorite creativity tool: paint
Favorite post-art snack: apples and peanut butter
Favorite place to paint: in whatever room is closest to the music

Now it's your turn! Give art a try!

February 25, 2012

For Rosie

I had a really fun time creating this painting recently. I got the idea, of course, from Pinterest, but I found my inspiration nearly five years ago in a little dorm called Horton Hall...

I once had a good friend from Kansas City ask me where I would live if I could choose any place in the entire world. To her confusion, I instantly replied "Oregon." I have never been to Oregon. I don't have family there. I have never even flown over the state in an airplane. But I do have a friend from Oregon, and her name is Rosie. And if Oregon produces human beings that are even a fraction as cool as Rosie, then it's a place I'd want to live.

I met Rosie during my freshman year of college at Biola University. She lived a few doors down from me on the 5th floor of Horton Hall. It didn't take me long to realize that she would be one of the most awesome people I will meet in my lifetime. She's as sweet as pie, witty, adventurous, a closet comedian, and one of the most talented artists I have ever encountered. If you have ever been in my house, you have probably experienced her artistry first-hand. I received this gem in the mail right around the time Tim and I got married:

Rosie is a phenomenal artist by trade, but I think one of her most amazing talents is drawing the art out of others. I haven't met very many people who genuinely make me believe that I am fantastic at the smallest things I do- laughing at a joke, making a sandwich, walking to class, enjoying great music. Rosie sees a beauty in life that most people wouldn't notice if it smacked them in the face, or spilled across their canvas. And she is SO encouraging. Not because she doesn't want to make you feel bad, but because she genuinely sees the best and most beautiful things in people. I could (and at some point I probably did) draw the most hideous array of wonky figures in the worst color combination imaginable and Rosie would find a way to call it a masterpiece. If you spend any time around her, it is hard to not feel like the real Thoreau or Van Gogh or Mozart. To this day, every time I pick up a pencil, cook in my kitchen, or make an attempt with a paint brush, I can hear Rosie's sweet voice in my head, and she's literally changed my perspective on life.

I can say all of these great things about Rosie because I know where her heart is. I know that her ability to create and incite creativity in others stems from her relationship with her Creator. I believe that when the Bible says we are made in God's image, that includes his creativity. No, we are not all Rembrandts or Picassos, but we are "God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works." We have the ability to make simple things beautiful and awesome because we are made in the likeness of the ultimate Artist.

I wish everyone in the whole world could meet my friend Rosie, because she's that cool. But since that's mostly not possible, I'll just post this blog about her. And maybe you'll be encouraged to see the extraordinary in the ordinary too!

(If you're interested in a tutorial on the painting, stay tuned! I'll post it soon!)