This girl loves Chinese food

The smell of white rice cooking is the smell of my grandma’s house (not the one that lives on the street I grew up on, the other one). Oh, how starchy, white rice makes my mouth water. I am 1/4 Japanese, but here in the States, that translates into a family full of halves and quarters and one 100% grandma who love stir -fry, fried rice, egg rolls, and sushi. We are aware that this is not the typical food my grandma ate growing up in Japan, but this is the way she began to cook for us. And we became named regulars to places like “the Panda” in a couple of different towns growing up. One story so dear to my mother’s heart is of my older brother. While still in a stroller with his auburn colored, moppy hair and freckled little boy face, he peered up at the woman behind the counter at the Panda Garden in DSM’s Merle Hay Mall, to tell her that he is one quarter Japanese. Does that not make a deep place in your soul smile like it does mine?

When Dave and I began hanging out, we would sneak off to our very favorite Chinese restaurant (Jade Garden in Ankeny) multiple times a week for a good meal and the best egg rolls we’ve ever had. Now that we live a little further away, we occasionally make it there. The owner still recognizes us and wants to get updates on how we’re doing. He and I used to talk a lot about business; he knew what I was studying at college. It is always good to see his smiling face and to eat those famous egg rolls.

My expanding waist-line became well aware that so much (Americanized) Asian cuisine couldn’t be good for one person. I’ve made a few past attempts at Pad Thai, and we do have an occasional stir-fry or sushi, but this recipe is one I can recommend with joy. I toasted the sesame seeds quickly in my toaster oven. These little darlings along with the sesame oil, add such a welcomed (might I say, addicting) nutty flavor. The best part was, aside from the sesame seeds that I had recently polished off making this recipe, we had everything else on hand. Or maybe the best part was that it was so quick and easy. It is nice to make a dish you have loved for years at home because you can ensure the quality of your ingredients. We know that we put this meal together with the best ingredients we can afford. I do feel it would be great with a blend of wild rice (Dave isn’t a big fan, but I many indeed try it out next).

Please try it! And if you make any delicious substitutions or additions, I’d love to hear about it.

Happy Monday my friends!

It’s that time of year again

Can you feel the crispness in the air? Living in Iowa, I have a hard time choosing a favorite season; we get to see them all in their fullness of glory (so you’ll hear me swoon over each one). Love that. There is something kind of restful to me about summer turning into fall. You can just relax and stop worrying about sweating all over yourself. Time to grab the knitting needles and think up great new projects. Time to cozy up on the couch with your favorite blanket and a cup of tea. It is also the start of monthly family celebrations for the next few months. Dave and my anniversary is this month, actually just three short days from now.  Then October, November, December, and January are birthday months for my younger brother, me, my older brother, and my mom, respectively.

But let’s stay focused. I just wanted to share a few images of what I’ve been ushering this season in with.

For starts, my coconut oil became solid again; a true sign of the season. This won’t last too long though. When the out-of-our-control-radiators turn on, it will be liquid again.

You’re right. You did see some pumpkin maple butter on top of that french toast. Mmm.We picked it up from the farmer’s market in Buffalo a couple weeks back while visiting our friends Mark + Nikki. Nikki insisted that I taste the cherry almond flavor and YUM! Dave and I decided on the pumpkin maple thinking it would be a good choice for the fall. I like it so much I may have to try my hand at making some when we run out. There is a little bit of lemon juice in it which adds a nice brightness. In all seriousness, though, I could eat this stuff by the spoonful :-)

Kite Mail

My childhood was extra special. We were four houses in a row: Grandma + Grandpa, Aunt + Uncle, my family, and Great Grandma + Grandpa. Obviously I spent a lot of time with all of these lovely people, but then, not so far away on a bike, lived my cousin Stuart. Now, let me say that I love all of my cousins. They have such personalities and many talents, but Stuart is the cousin closet to my age, and for that reason we’ve grown up very close. (He also drove me crazy for a few years; you know, pulling my long, gorgeous, little girl hair.) All in all, he holds a dear place in my heart and has become a really great guy. He is one of those cousins you consider a friend.

Well Stuart loves the Lord in a quite beautiful way. He is on staff at IHOPE House of Prayer in Cedar Falls, IA. He is the Hospitality and Design Coordinator, but you will also find him serving on worship teams, prayer ministry, and working with students from the nearby University. You can read a little bit more about him here. Might I add that he doesn’t get paid for any of this? He relies on the support from family and friends who partner with him financially and with prayer. Recently he was part of an evangelical walk-through called Final Exit. I don’t know exactly what this looked like, but by the end of the month at least 430 people had decided to follow Jesus.

Let’s go ahead and pause on that. 430 people. There was a least one girl who cancelled a scheduled abortion, and a least one person who decided not to commit suicide. This is stunning. In case you are wondering, there is follow up with these people and continued prayer.

Anyway, with a heart like his, imagine the beauty in this note Stuart sent Dave and me. The kite is a Fair Trade product from Nepal, and I think it is such a fun idea for a card or letter. Look closely because you could make this, or buy a similar one over here.

If you are interested in supporting Stuart’s ministry, message me and I can get you the info.

Dear McKenzie



every once in a while

for a fleeting moment

I think of something I want to do with you

like a movie, a talk, a coffee, a book, a walk, or a song

and as quickly as it came

it quickly goes

as I remember

just how far away you are.