Monday, August 31, 2009

Who Doesn't Like Chicken Pot Pit?

This past weekend was really great! Weekends that are that much fun make it even harder to return to the real world on Mondays. Our weekend was full of all the things that we like to do. The Lavericks, who I mentioned in a previous post, returned from the hospital with their new daughter Alina on Thursday so we took them dinner.

My chicken pot pie is becoming our staple dinner that we bring to families who have just had a baby. (I decided to post the picture so I could start practicing my food photography skills for my cookbook club postings)

On Saturday, Phil planned a lovely date-day. We went hiking and actually saw our first armadillo! We have seen them at the zoo and “statues” of them, but we’ve never seen a wild one. They look just as weird as we expected! In the evening, we went to see the new Quinton Tarantino movie; the movie comes highly recommended by the Hawley Movie Critics. Then we went out to a wonderfully romantic dinner downtown, Cave Bistro. The restaurant was transformed to look like a cave and the meals were spectacular. If you follow our blog and live in Houston, it is worth a visit! http://www.bellarestaurants.com/cava/maincava.html
Us feeling full after our yummy dinner!

Friday, August 28, 2009

I'm a researcher and a writer

In case you were wondering what I have been doing since I have been in Texas (occasionally I have wondered this myself)…this is what I have been working on for the past 2 years! I have basically finished the initial portion of my PhD program, and here it is, nicely bound!

When I said that I was writing a lot, I really wasn’t kidding!

For the next couple years, I am continuing my focus on the toxic effects of chronic stress on the brain and body, but will ideally focus more on perfecting the unpredictable nature of the chronic stress paradigm within specific age groups and identifying the specific cell phenotypes generated in various coping strategies to identify the coping strategy which best promotes neurogenesis (the creation of brain cells, neurons). Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Breakfast (Lunch & Dinner) Club


Some of the women in my Saved-2-Serve class (my young married couples Sunday School class) went to see the movie Julie and Julia. I have not yet seen this movie, but apparently in the movie the character Julie starts blogging about the recipes she tries from a cookbook by Julia Child. This movie has inspired many women to start a special kind of book club, and the women in my class are no different.

We are going to spend 9 months cooking our way through one of my favorite chef’s cookbooks: Ina Garten’s “The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook”. For this club, we will each be cooking 2 recipes from the book every week. And like a book club meets to discuss a book, we will meet every 4-6 weeks for a “Girls Night Potluck Dinner”. We will each bring a dish that we have made from the book and together will discuss particular recipes we have done over the past month or so. In the movie, Julie blogs about each recipe that she tries and our group will also be doing that, commenting on how difficult the recipe was, how it tasted, as well as offer suggestions for others who are trying a particular recipe.

What will be challenging for me personally with this cookbook club is that Phil and I are on a kick that we call, “investing in our health”. We make sure to buy foods that are organic and healthy for our body so that we develop a healthy lifestyle for our marriage. In order to maintain this goal, I will need to be able to adapt the recipes, when necessary, from Garten’s book to use only the most healthy ingredients or substitutes. My blogs will focus on how well I am able to do this.

I am really excited about starting this cookbook club because Ina Garten is definitely one of my favorite chefs and I really like how realistic her recipes are. Also, typically when I am going to cook something I look through my cookbooks for a recipe….meaning that I skim through picking and choosing. I have never cooked every recipe from a cookbook, so this will be the perfect opportunity for me to try all of the recipes, be challenged in the kitchen, and learn new cooking techniques. Above all, I love moments when I get to gather with other women who have the same love for the Lord as I do, and the time in fellowship spent with other Christian women will be the best and most encouraging part of this experience.

I already call Phil my “Professional Taste-Tester” so I’m sure he is going to like the extra “work” (taste-testing) I will be giving him. So when you start seeing pictures of the food that I attempt to cook, think back to this post.




Back to School

Can you believe that the summer has come to a close? I cannot! It seems like every day goes by faster and faster!

On our last weekend before school started, Phil volunteered to work at the Mission Training Center. They still have a lot of damage from hurricane Ike and are struggling to get back up and running, so Phil worked on some construction projects for them. It was a plus for everyone, Phil liked working with his power tools (what man doesn’t?) and the Mission Training Center got one more project crossed off of their to-do list. Sunday we had a pizza party with our Sunday School class and then enjoyed a relaxing day at the pool.

We had a wonderful summer filled with exciting projects and trips, and while we’re sad to see summer go, we are both looking forward to a new school year. I’m particularly looking forward to getting back into a structured routine. This is our 21st year in school; that’s a *long* time in school (but much closer to being done this year than we were last year). Thank goodness we actually like school! Stay tuned to see how this enthusiasm adjusts throughout the school year.

This is a picture of me on my first day of school 21 years ago….. a lot has changed since then!

Also a congratulatory shout-out to the Lavericks: Congratulations on your new baby girl, Alina Payton, born 8/24/09!!! We can’t wait to watch her grow!

Me meeting Alina….I am going to spoil this little girl!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Aviation Shower

As mentioned, on Saturday the women from my Smallgroup hosted a baby shower for the Bercaws. The nursery theme for their son Isaiah is aviation, and we applied that same theme to the shower. While at first I thought it was the hardest shower theme so far, it turned out to be my favorite. Here are some pictures of the shower.
The sign on the door
When guests arrived they wrote some advice/encouragement for the mommy-to-be on a diaper for when she is elbow deep in diapers she will receive support from her friends and family.
The sign that was on the advice station mimicked a boarding pass.
The baby's initials.
For favors we had a candy bar, with pacifiers and wooden initials hanging from the chandelier.
The sign at the Candy Bar Station.
The table scape with white balloons (clouds) and airplanes hung from the ceiling. The delicious menu included: blue cupcakes, quiche, 6-fruit trifle, bagels, juice, and yummy cinnamon coffee.
The blue cupcakes with airplanes that matched the ones hanging from the ceiling (Props to Morgan for the intricate work on these).
In the middle of the table we had a bucket of flowers. The flowers were made out of onesies. Props to Stephanie on this one!
On the buffet there were aviation themed toys and clothing for Isaiah. Also Amy made a French Memo Board out of the cloth used in the nursery.

This was the "Baggage Claim" Area. Haylee opened gifts under clouds and planes.

The "Baggage Claim" area sign.

Gifts :-)

The name tags had wings to mimic a flight attendant's name tag.

The mommy-to-be and the hostesses...or flight attendant ;-)


Grace made a video of all of this pictures that is really awesome. Check it out: http://animoto.com/play/MyVb0EHx18U0yfz5mLPa0Q?utm_campaign=share_email&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_email

Towels and Buckets

Last weekend was pretty busy, but very exciting. The weekend started out rather surprising. Last year when Hurricane Ike arrived in Houston, our roof was damaged. It wasn’t damage so much though that we were a priority to have it fixed. There were other families who had their entire roof come off, so we felt very blessed that we were not such a priority to have it fixed. The roof was patched but definitely looked like it has been patched because the shingles didn’t match the rest of the roof. This past Friday the company fixing our roof was finally able to match our shingles. I was working from home in the afternoon so that I could be there while they were patching. The workers got off the roof for a break at just the moment that the great large Houston sky decided to break. It has rained maybe, maybe, four times since May; one of those days happened to be the day that our roof was being fixed and while the workers were on break without a tarp on the roof. I was working in my *newly* finished office when I started to hear a drip. I had just finished the dishes and figured that I probably forgot to turn off the sink completely. Going into the kitchen I didn’t find any water dripping in the sink. Totally perplexed by this I turn and looked into the living room…and there I saw it! Where the chimney meets the vaulted ceiling portion of the living room (the portion I can’t possibly reach even when standing on the ladder!) the water was moving inside. The water was no longer dripping, but now a steady stream. I began setting up buckets and covering furniture and laying out towels to prepare for the rain coming inside. I called to the roofers to help me cover stuff and to get back on the roof, which they did. After the rain stopped we had more damage on the inside than we did before the project started. The kitchen, dining room, living room, my closet, the master bedroom, and the office ceilings now had to be replaced in addition to finishing the roof. I was not excited about this at all, but the good news was that since the roofers were already there they began to start fixing the ceilings right after the storm passed and are now almost done. It was a little inconvenient and started to scare me, but the good Lord wouldn’t give us anything we couldn’t handle! That was the most exciting part about Friday.
Part of the kitchen where the water started coming in and my bowls set up to catch water.

Saturday was really a great day. A couple from our smallgroup, Rhett and Morgan Dotson, had their son Caleb on 8/14 (congratulations Dotsons!) and we get the privilege of helping them adjust to their new lifestyle as parents. I say “privilege”, because it really is an honor to share this special time with them and glean what they learn about this transition. Phil cut their grass for them on Saturday so they will have one less thing to be concerned about completing. Also on Saturday, the women from small group hosted a shower for another couple, the Bercaws; I will post a separate entry on that. Saturday evening after all our running around, Phil and I met up for a date. Over the past couple weeks between work and traveling we haven’t had a date night. It was great to finally sit down together and spend some quality time with each other. We went to Preggo in Rice Village. The food was made from all organic foods and it was delicious! Sunday was nice and relaxing with church and some time at the pool. Now we are officially ready to start the last week of summer!

Oh and also…one more baby born last week! The Schillings, a very close family friend, had their daughter, Alexis Teresa, on 8/11. Congratulations Tom and Christine!
Alexis Teresa Schilling

Monday, August 10, 2009

Just Because

Last week Phil brought home flowers for me after his long day at work, "just because". I'm not sure what I could have ever done to deserve a man as genuine as him, but in case you didn't already know, my husband is truly wonderful and such a blessing to me.
The flowers Phil got me, "just because"


Us out to dinner over the weekend

A Visitor From The East Coast!

Well last weekend was awesome! I got to see my best friend, Katie! I hadn’t seen her since Kellyn’s graduation from Randolph-Macon College in May, which is just too long for us to be apart if you ask me. Katie is one of my Delta Zeta pledge sisters, former roommate, and was a bridesmaid in my wedding; we have a lot of history! She flew to Houston and we did a bunch of nothing! Her last visit to Houston we did the tour of Houston stuff, but this time we got to relax more and weren’t rushed to make sure we saw everything. We did some shopping, eating, laying by the pool, and of course plenty of talking. It was great to see her and I can’t wait until we meet up again!

Together again at last!

Something’s Gotta Give

For the past month or so I have been feeling the need for a new look. I really wanted a new haircut to spice things up (not to mention I don’t need 2 feet of hair in Texas!) When I was at home with my sister-in-laws, I mentioned wanting to get my hair cut like Kate Walsh from, Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice –see below, and everyone thought it would work great for me. So I made my mind up as to that being my next hair cut.


Kate Walsh from Private Practice

Then I watched a movie, dun dun dun!!!! I was watching a great movie, Something’s Gotta Give (starring Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton) and I decided on a new hair-do for myself. I only consulted a couple people and immediately did it. So here is the new look:
Diane Keaton in Something’s Gotta Give

Me with my Something’s Gotta Give hair cut
Now that I look at it, it looks like a nice combination of both styles.

From Hodge-Podge to Nautical Chic

This summer I have been spending a lot of time updating the Hawley House. When we first got married we had a bunch of different furniture that were hand-me-downs, too small (especially for Phil, haha you should have seen him sit on our first couch; his knees practically hit his chin!), or didn’t match. When we moved into our new place in the spring of 2008, we got rid of a bunch of stuff and started fresh with “adult furniture” for the living room, dining room, and bedrooms. The last room to be completely renovated was my office, which I finished last week. I couldn’t work on the office during the school year because the carpet was hidden with books and articles that I was using for my Masters. As soon as that was completed, I was ready to tackle the office. The office has been one of the bigger transformations. It started out as a collection of things, a hodge-podge if you will, from a sorority house; very girlie. It was past time for an update. Since my office transforms, on the rare occasion that we have company, into the guest room, I wanted it to be a peaceful room with lots of white with navy blue accents so that our company would be able to relax and truly vacation with us.


Here are some pictures of what the office used to look like.



Here is the new office.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ashlynn Brooke

This past weekend we took a trip to back home to visit the entire Hawley family. What perfect timing too! Thursday (***note at 7:30pm on 7-30-09***) the Hawley family welcomed it’s newest, and youngest, member. Phil’s sister had her fourth child, Ashlynn Brooke weighing 7 lbs and 9oz. Erin had an extremely challenging and complicated pregnancy and it is such a blessing that both mom and daughter are doing well. They were released from the hospital on Sunday night and were greeted with a Hawley celebration! Ashlynn is a gorgeous miracle baby and we are so happy that we finally got to meet her!


Ashlynn 2 days old

Phil and I meeting her for the first time


Phil in the backyard with Ashlynn the day she came home from the hospital

Isn't she just so beautiful?! I can't help but just to stare at her!


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