Confession, I don't really like most Christian music. So much of it is cheesy and sounds nothing like the type of music I really like (acoustic and indie rock, folk, ya know stuff I play on this blog). But, I do love  old hymns made new. Growing up at Centenary in Winston-Salem we only sang hymns, so by age 18 when I graduated high school I knew the words to so many hymns and had my favorites. At UT (Tennessee, not to be confused with Texas) RUF many of the songs we sang were hymns in new arrangements, and that is where my love affair began. There is something so beautiful to me about the words from songs of the old Church. The songs have lasted so many years but, are very much a picture of my heart today. I have started collecting old hymnals and at an antique store in Austin even found an old glass slide of the song "Jesus, Lover of my Soul". The thing I love most about hymns is God uses them to bring my heart to a place of seeing Him more. Some of my favorite hymns to new melodies artists are Red Mountain Music, Indelible Grace, and Sojourn Music . 
Right now my very favorite song is "Jesus, I Come".  Shelly Moore Band does a beautiful version. The video is pretty boring because it is simply a picture of Rembrandt's Return of the Prodigal Son painting (which is one of my favorites), but the song is worth it. It has such tender and freeing words.

I made a playlist this morning to burn to a cd (because, yes, I still play cds in my car) that has a couple of my favorite hymns, but also lots of other good music. And there is one Caedmon's Call song that some may find cheesy, but I actually really like.  (Click to enlarge and see the text.)


Letters from Camp.

Every summer in college I got my trunk out of the garage and packed it full of one piece swimsuits, ADPi t-shirts, Soffee shorts galore (long before the Nike shorts craze) and about 1,000 hair rubber bands and headed to Camp Greystone in Tuxedo, NC. (I even have a quote on the Greystone website.) I loved being at one of the most beautiful camp properties I have ever seen, living in the cabin with 10 12 year olds and all of their glitter nail polish, becoming friends with other counselors from all of the south, helping teach synchronized swimming, singing camp songs in the dining hall, and of course writing letters to all of my friends back at home and other camps. I would write about 5 letters a day during rest hour and it was mostly in hopes of receiving mail back. After lunch all of the counselors would head to the mail room to find about 100 Wrinkled Eggs (a.k.a. clutter), watermelons, letters galore for campers and of course our own letters. It was one of my favorite parts of the day because, there is nothing like a real handwritten letter.

This morning on USAToday.com one of the front page articles is a story questioning if summer camp can revive hand letter writing. I never thought about it, but it makes sense. Now, I will not get on my rant about technology and how teenagers don't know how to communicate in ways other than texting and Facebook, etc. But, I do think letter writing is wonderful and now seems like a past time. Hopefully summer camp can help revive it. (Check out the article here.)

I found these watercolors of Camp Greystone and it makes me miss evening program in the pavilion, Camp Life on Sunday nights, "the camp game", taps, Odds and Evens, the waterslide, singing karaoke in the Grey Cafe, ham and cheese bagels, and more. 


It's Just a Little Crush.

After seeing Inception last weekend Joseph Gordon Levitt has become my latest celebrity crush. I mean I kind of had a crush on him after 500 Days of Summer, because his character had the idea to go on a date to Ikea, was an architect and loved buildings, was a hopeless romantic, and wore some great skinny ties. But, after Inception the crush was solidified. In the movie he was in my favorite scene in the movie (the hallway gravity scene), was funny, and even though he probably weighs the same as the average 6th grade girl, he is just so cute. So, here is some eye candy from the new Google Images for ya (including the Inception hallway scene and Ikea date scene)...


Guest Blogger. Laura Virginia Underwood.

I am so excited to introduce this week's Guest Blogger Laura, because I have known her since she was in her mama's belly. Her mom, Jayne, and my mom were great friends (and still are) when I was in elementary school and her sister, Ellen, and I were the best of friends too. Ellen and I were almost like sisters (twins specifically, because we looked quite a bit alike and frequently told people we were twins) and since both of us just had brothers. So, when Laura was born I felt like she was my little sister too. Now Laura is going to be a senior in college at N.C. State, has her own blog (which is awesome and you should definitely check out), has a cute boyfriend, takes amazing pictures, loves Jesus passionately, has great taste in decorating, mason jars, and fashion, loves cheese and is a fantastic cook (you will see below!), has the best taste in music, and if we lived in the same town I think we would be fantastic friends. I just can't believe how fast time has gone by and how grown up she is and I love the beautiful woman she has become both on the inside and out.

Meet Virginia...
I like to think that growing up I thrived on the five main food groups. And, of course, by that I mean: grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers, ranch dressing, and anything with chocolate in it. I once said to my mom, “My life is cheese!” At least we know where my priorities were. Many nights I sat at the dinner table long after everyone else was finished because I would NOT eat that salad in front of me. Lettuce made me gag and there was no way you could sneak me a tomato. Of course that meant I wasn’t getting dessert, and so… no chocolate. Life’s not fair. 
Then this strange thing happened. I went off to college and my tastes and preferences for foods started changing. People had told me that this might happen, but I was sure there was no way. Slowly I started trying new things and before I knew it I was eating crab cakes, making kale chips, ordering anything on a menu with the word “black bean” in it, buying every fruit I could get my hands on, shopping at Trader Joe’s, dreaming of asparagus, and getting dinner from the salad restaurant in the mall 3 times a week. Did you hear that? A salad restaurant!   
Now don’t get me wrong. I love a good grilled cheese. I still order a “Mac-a-roo n’ Cheese” off the Kid’s Menu at Outback. Not much beats a 6-pack of chicken nuggets from Chick-Fil-A. And as much as I try to resist, every time I have french fries with a meal, I just have to order a side of Ranch to go along with them. 
But I also have learned to love being healthy. It makes me feel so much better inside and out to be eating well and to be taking care of the body that my Creator gave me. I really just believe in a healthy balance. I think that it is so important to live a healthy and active lifestyle, but also to really enjoy the things that you love. Remember that “chocolate” food group? It is still a part of everyday life.   
Yesterday, I made what I am going to declare “The World’s Best Muffins.” They are a perfect example of my “Nutritionally Delicious” philosophy. They have some really nutritionally redemptive qualities, and they are to die for! It would be cruel to keep the recipe to myself. I recommend eating one fresh out of the oven with a glass of milk. Enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Muffins
Makes approximately 24 muffins
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon Flax Seed Meal
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 egg
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 Bag Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
!/4 Bag Peanut Butter Chocolate Chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place muffin cups in muffin tins.
Mix sugar, applesauce, and egg until creamy and light yellow. Add bananas and vanilla. Add flour, flax meal, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Stir in chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. Stir until smooth. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.


Breaking Bread.

I found this photo on weheartit.com last week and have been enamored by it for some reason. The composition is really great to me. The view is wonderful. The bar cart is chic. I love that the little baby is in a bassinet with an umbrella. The mod clothing and patio furniture is just fabulous. I would have loved to be the stager on this photo shoot.
And, most of what I love is that it appears the people are sharing a meal and sharing life. There is something so holy about sharing a meal together.  Jesus frequently shared meals with people. One of my favorite places in Scripture is Mark 2:13-17, where Jesus eats dinner with the tax collectors. They were so disliked and not who anyone thought Jesus would share a meal with. I would imagine the meal probably lasted a long time and there was probably story after story,  laughter, and heart conversation. Isn't that just beautiful?
When I think about some of my favorite memories with family and friends it has involved sitting around the table breaking bread...Rock-Ola Cafe with my mom, dad, and brother growing up, the dinner table on Grey Widgeon Rd. on Hilton Head Island with the Rolfes and Pishkos, Chesapeake Bagel in high school with my friends Katie and Elizabeth after swim practice, Smokey's on the UT campus with so many friends in college and an especially funny lunch with Krista and Callie, Mellow Mushroom in Knoxville with the Young Life staff, Big Blue Bagel with All JJ Crack Cakes in Auburn, the Reid's dining room table, and the many Dallas YL office lunch parties to Freebird's, PeiWei, and Chipotle. Times filled with story after story, laughter, and heart conversation.


Friday Night Lights.

This past weekend I had the BEST time being an extra on Friday Night Lights. I mean, it was awesome. I got paid to sit and cheer for the East Dillon Lions (and the opposing team at times, but who cares about that.) There are a few things I learned from being an extra though. 1, I never want to be an actress.  I spend a whole lot of time and energy trying to be who God made me to be. Now, I know it is acting and I have no judgement towards people act for a living, but for me, I felt like I was going against everything I try to do in my everyday real life. 2, I would LOVE to be a Set Decorator/Dresser/Designer. The hours were crazy, it was hot as all get out (I mean it is Texas in July), but I just love the idea of getting to take the lives of characters and create the world where they live. So much of the tone of a movie or television show is set by how the scene is set. As a Set Decorator you get to find items that are just perfect for a house, office, classroom, retail store, or even a football game. Hopefully one day I will get to be a part of the crew of a tv show or movie. Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose.
Jenna and me. Go Lions!
I was reprimanded by a friend for putting up this picture on Facebook because it is sort of a spoiler. Sorry if you are mad. I know a BIG TIME spoiler too, if you wanna know, let me know. 
Matt Saracen and Luke Cafferty
Taylor Family hangout. Where is Gracie Belle?
Matt Saracen (aka Zach Gilford) you are so very cute. 
I was pretty pumped to see this guy because he played D'Shawn Hardell on old school 90210. Ya know, the basketball player that Brandon Walsh tutored through Professor Randall's class. 
This is Bonnie Clevering, one of the hairdressers on the show. We became friends because we were sitting next to each other. She told me all about how she has done hair for Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, and most recently Kristen Stewart on Eclipse. She is going to do her hair for Breaking Dawn too. 
Jen and me on the field after the shooting ended at about 2:30 in the morning Sunday. 
What a fun weekend! 



Today my Friday will include...
Working at Anthropologie. This sounds so cheesy, but working there I am inspired to be more creative, make things with my own hands, and work hard.
Reading a little out of my new book, "Lifesigns" by, Henri Nouwen. Here is a quote from it to spark your interest to go out and buy it immediately. "Somehow, we think we can only fully enjoy our being loved by God if others are loved less than we are. But the spiritual life breaks through these distinctions made in the context of rivalry and competition. The spiritual life allows us to experience that the same God who lovingly embraces all people has counted every hair of our heads, and that the same God who cares for everyone without exception, loves each individual with an exceptional love. The deeper our prayer becomes the closer we come to this mystery of God's love. And the closer we are to this mystery the better we can live it out in our daily life. It frees us to appreciate other people's talents without feeling diminished by them and to life up their uniqueness without feeling less unique ourselves. It allows us to celebrate the various ways of being human as a sign of the universal love of God." p. 34
And, being an extra on Friday Night Lights!!! Don't be too jealous of Jen, Mallory, Jenna, and me as we are getting to watch it all go down in person as extras both tonight and tomorrow night. We think it may be the series finale they are filming, so I am pretty excited to see how it all turns out for the Taylors, Tim and Layla, Buddy, Vince, Landry, and the gang. I don't know what I would do if I saw Tim Riggins, Matt Seracen, or Coach Taylor in person, (because, I mean what do you do if you see famous people? It is kind of weird when you think about it) but I do know that pictures are the new autograph (according to my friend Jen) so I will probably keep my phone handy just in case there is a run in. 



How great are these bowties? These little postcards are absolutely precious. 
Check them out at Something's Hiding In Here and swoon.



My Love Language.

A bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils is my love language. 1, because it is from a movie I really like. 2,  it is more creative than flowers. 3, I know it is cheesy. 4, it means that whatever boy is giving me the flowers really knows me. 5, I start to school tomorrow. Number 5 is not a reason why I would like a bouquet of freshly sharpened flowers, but just why this is on my mind this Monday evening. 


So right now I am at the Apple store because my phone is not working. And, I must say, I am a little ashamed that I shed a few tears, hopped in the car, dragged my mom with me, and am now spending 2 hours playing on the laptops, IPads, and new 4G phone, because I am so attached to my phone that I felt the need to get it fixed/get a new one immediately. Now that my confession is out of the way I can move on to a more pleasant subject.
Here are a few Post Secrets that I am loving (and are pretty true of my heart right now)...
All images found via weheartit.com and Google search "Post Secret) and I apologize for such an emo post. 


Before and After.

Last night my grandmother (Mimi) treated my mother, uncle, and me to Five Sixty, Wolfgang Puck's revolving restaurant atop Reunion Tower in Dallas. I had the most delicious duckling my taste buds have  tasted. 


Guest Blogger. Melissa Priode.

In August of 2003 I went on staff with Young Life at a little high school named Carter, in Strawberry Plains, Tennessee. 3 or 4 days a week I would make the 20 minute drive down Asheville Highway to stand in the lobby and meet kids as they were heading into lunch. Everyday this girl would stand at the stairs and wait for her friend to meet her then they would prance on into the cafeteria. She was cute as a button, always dressed to a T, a cheerleader, and someone I wanted to be friends with. The girl at the stairs and I eventually met and hit it off instantly and a month or so after meeting she asked me to be an assistant swim coach for her high school team. Young Life eventually started meeting at her house. She went to Windy Gap. She started bringing her friends to Young Life. She became a Young Life leader. And more than anything she became one of my great friends. She is so much fun to be around and is one of those people that after 5 minutes you feel like you have known her your whole life,  has an infectious smile, is always up for adventure (she even lived in Australia for a while!), loves Long's Drugstore and lists (read on and you will see), and will be my friend for life. I thank God that Melissa would wait at those stairs everyday for Meghan because God ended up using her to grow Young Life at her high school and now so many have come to know Jesus through YL at Carter. 

If I had a show on DIY or the Food Network, it would probably be called the List Queen (mainly because the Ace of Cakes and Barefoot Contessa were already taken). Simply put, I love to make lists. I constantly scribble bits of info or reminders down on scraps of paper and tuck them into my wallet or pocket. In honor of my sometimes paper-wasteful habit, I am going to make lists of things that will help you get to know me!

(in no particular order)
Top 5 Favorite Desserts

1. Banana pudding
2. Lemon cookies/bars
3. Strawberry shortcake
4. my Granny's pumpkin chocolate chip bread
5. my Grandma's chocolate cake with cream cheese icing

Top 5 Favorite Songs to Fall Asleep To
1. If It's The Beaches, the Avett Brothers
2. Where Are You Going, Dave Matthews
3. Breakdown, Jack Johnson
4. (tie) Savannah Fare You Well and Floridays, Jimmy Buffett
5. Angel in the Snow, Elliott Smith

Top 5 Best Pieces of Advice I Have Ever Received From My Mom
1. "Always carry a jacket with you from September to May."
2. "Never use Nair on your eyebrows ever again." (after an unfortunate incident in 6th grade)
3. "Melissa, you should never be a nurse." (after my sister threw up on me and I nearly passed out)
4. "Eating a new food adds 7 years on your life." (there is no verification if this is actually true. Yet)
5. "If you are having a bad day you should read the jokes in Reader's Digest."

Top 5 Things You Would Only Know If You Really Knew Me:
1. I had a Star Wars birthday party for my 10th birthday
2. I like grocery shopping more than any other kind of shopping
3. A huge pet peeve of mine is when words are misspelled on purpose. (Ex: KOOL Aid)
4. I accidentally rolled my sister out of her baby crib the day she came home from the hospital
5. As a child, I thought my dad was a train conductor. Actually, he worked for Trane Heating and Air. Easy mistake to make for a kid. 

Top 5 Ficitional Characters Figures I Would Like To Have Lunch With:
1. Jo March, Little Women
2. Scarlett O'Hara, Gone with the Wind
3. Kristy Thomas, the Babysitters Club
4. Coach Eric Taylor, Friday Night Lights
5. Luna Lovegood, from the Harry Potter books

Top 5 Movies I Will Always Get Sucked Into Watching When They Are On TV:
1. Forrest Gump
2. the Indiana Jones trilogy
3. the Sound of Music
4. Jumanji
5. the Shining (even though I know it scares me)


Record Player.

Lately I have really been wanting a record player. Half Price Books has so many old records that I would love to play throughout Casa Bonita. Also, record players are great for decoration. So, you get a 2 for 1, music and decor. 
all images found via weheartit.com search "record player"



My favorite song lyrics right now are from Ingrid Michaelson's song "Breakable"...
Have you ever thought about what protects our hearts?
Just a cage of rib and bones and other various parts. 
So it's fairly simple to cut right through the mess,
And to stop the muscle that makes us confess.
And we are so fragile,
And our cracking bones make noise,
And we are just,
Breakable, breakable, breakable girls and boys. 
This song makes me very thankful for Jesus, who protects my heart, loves me in the midst of my mess, takes my brokenness and makes me whole with such tenderness and mercy.