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A New Adventure

It has long been a dream of mine to teach English in Eastern Europe. I finally have that opportunity, and have taken a job teaching in Prague for the next two years. I will be working through an organization that sends native English speakers into the Czech schools to teach English to the children there. This blog used to be all about my art, photography, forays into the kitchen, and adventures around the U.S. and my hometown. I’m revamping it a little bit to share my new adventures in this next phase of my life. I’m keeping all my old content published, but my new posts will be all about my life, challenges, and experiences in Prague. I hope you will join me!


Class of 2014

My baby brother graduated from college in 2014. It was a bright spot between the deaths of my grandfathers. Zach had quite the roller coaster of a college experience, but he persevered, work very hard, and I am just beyond proud of him. He is now getting a double-masters and is ready to take on the world.

I could not believe my luck with this shot of Zach processing in to the graduation ceremony:


My brother and I:


The boy and his girl:


The proud parents:


We had a gorgeous day at Anderson University to celebrate all the graduates:


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After nearly a year, I’ve decided I’m ready to jump back into blogging. For those who don’t know, I lost both of my grandfathers in the early months of 2014. One was a slow, lingering deterioration that was truly heartbreaking, the other was a brief, two-week shock that I still don’t fully believe happened. Having had my grandparents in my life for 28 years, I was very close with them. The deaths of my grandfathers left my heart and spirit greatly fractured, and I just didn’t feel creative for almost a year. Instead, I’ve filled my spare time with reflection, meditation, and journaling. I was broken in a way I’d never experienced, and I didn’t really know what that should look like. I developed an obsession with scanning the old photographs and slides of both my grandfathers, perhaps in some hope that by restoring the old photographs, I was keeping them alive.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m eternally grateful for my lifestyle and job at that time allowing me to spend so much time with each grandfather at the ends of their lives, even if it was difficult. With Dedo, I was there to hold his hand when he was in pain, cry with him, feed him, and tuck him in when he was cold. We said everything we’ve ever left unsaid. I knew how much he loved me, and he knew how much I loved him. I would fall asleep in the chair next to his bed when he slept. Near the end, when he was mostly unresponsive, I sang to him and stroked his forehead. Painful, but no regrets.

My Papa went so quickly. After five months of watching one grandfather slowly fade away, I recognized rather quickly that my Papa wasn’t going home. However, in this case, it all happened so quickly that I didn’t get to tell him everything I wanted to until he was on life support and I didn’t know if he even heard me. I was so stunned by how rapidly Papa died that I still expect to find him in his favorite chair when I go visit my Nana.

During both deaths, I learned so much about relationships. I watched how my mother and father honored their fathers by sacrificing all of their free time to help with care, medical decisions, and just loving their fathers well. I learned a lot about love itself: it’s painful, it’s beautiful, and if it’s true, it never goes away. Both sets of grandparents were married for about 60 years, and suddenly my grandmothers were without their lifelong mates. They refused to leave my grandfathers’ sides. Their love was deep and real, and it only made my love for all of them greater. I learned that there must be something beyond death, as my grandfathers witnessed people who had already passed as well as what my Dedo could only describe as a “beautiful angel”. Though I was losing so much (and I’ve never cried so much in my life), my grandfathers were gaining everything.

All that to say, thank you for sticking with me and for being so patient. I’m starting to feel that creative urge again and hope to give you, my readers, so much more in the coming year.


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Cooking: Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies

I cannot for the life of me remember where I found this recipe. My best guess is it is from Giada De Laurentiis, since quite a few of my recipes are derived from hers. I love these simple cookies, and they are perfect in a care package or as a pick-me-up. They are just the right amount of chocolate-y and just the right amount of chewy.



1 Cup (2 sticks) softened butter

1/4 C powdered sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 package mini chocolate chips

2 C flour

2/3 C Nutella

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and grease your cookie sheets.

Beat butter and sugar on high until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add the cinnamon and flour, then beat in the Nutella. Lastly, fold in about half the bag of mini chocolate chips.

Using a small cookie scoop or a spoon, drop 12 balls of dough at a time onto the greased cookie sheets. Bake them for 10 – 12 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack or wax paper to cool completely. With a small scoop, I get about 3 dozen cookies.



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Camera: Mehndi

My dear friend, Neha, had her Mehndi back in June, and I’m finally getting around to posting it here. Mehndi is an ancient tradition in the Middle East and India. Gorgeous, intricate designs are “painted” onto flesh using cones of henna. It’s also a festive celebration of the bride and the women of her family & friends who have helped guide her through life. If you are ever invited to attend this beautiful tradition, you must do so!


Neha receiving a blessing as her mama looks on…


The bride’s Mehndi is always incredibly intricate.


Here is my beautiful Mehndi!


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Camera: Bird


This guy (or gal, I’m no bird expert) flew straight into our window. It spent most of the afternoon just hanging out here. It tried to take off a couple of times, but it seemed its left wing was injured. We put some bird seed out for it after it fell trying to take off from the glider. Later that evening, it was gone. Mom & I assumed it got the strength to fly away. Dad said my neighbor’s cat ate it. So goes another adventure with nature.


Camera and Coffee: Pour Jons

This is a fantastic gem tucked away in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. All cups of coffee and tea are individually brewed to each custom order. It’s a unique shop that perfectly blends old and modern, sleek and hipster. The upper floor has a small stage for band performances, and a vinyl shop. Pour Jons also offers more unique choices, such as Turkish coffee (pictured at the bottom), which I ordered and thoroughly enjoyed in the tradition of my ancestors. If you are ever in the area, you must visit this place.

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Camera: Siloam Springs

My sister and brother-in-law now live in the charming town of Siloam Springs in Arkansas. They work at John Brown University in this lovely little community. For me, a new place equals tons of photography opportunities, and you’ll be seeing some of the results in the weeks to come.

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John Brown University

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My little sister, Maria, and I. I miss her so greatly, and this was a perfect, much-needed week.

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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

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Construction: A Bathroom Make-over

The final room in our house to be flipped was this bathroom! It had to be done, but I didn’t think to take pictures until we had already begun moving things out…

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The new shower:



All dressed up……

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We are finally finished making over this house. Praise Jesus.


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