Lots-o-change

So, I told you yesterday that Brian was bragging on me. Gosh– still makes me blush. Anyways… the bragging was centered in large part around the changes going on at my job.

Next year, I will leave the elementary school and go back to being a middle school teacher. We are restructuring parts of our school, so I will still have my beloved 6th grade, but I will also have 7th and 8th grade. I will teach English Language Arts to all three grades, and then teach Bible to 8th grade. It’s another BIG change in a series of BIG changes.

In the last two years I met the love of my life, got engaged, got married, got involved in a new church and a new missional community, moved from south to north Austin, moved in with a MAN and a dog, started at a new job, switched to elementary school, wrote all new curriculum for that position, began turning the bachelor pad into a home for two, got a hematologist and a blood disorder, started a major development program through church, got a new missional community, and now, got a new job.

THERE’S BEEN A LOT OF CHANGE IN MY LIFE.

You’d think I’d be used to it by now. I am much more so than I used to be– that’s for sure. It just feels like I never get comfortable in anything, or else I do and that’s when the change comes. And what complicates this further is that I’m a natural planner– so I plan for all of these futures that never occur.

Our reading last week for Women’s Development was the book of Malachi. In chapter 3, God tells us that he does not change. I smiled when I read it because I learned that verse last semester when I learned about the character of God, specifically God’s immutability, or unchangeableness. God is unchanging in his being, perfections, purposes, and promises (yet God does act and feel emotions, and he acts and feels differently in response to different situations).

This is such a comfort! With all of these changes in position and location and role, my God stays the same. He stays holy and true and perfect– even when I am none of those things and shaking my fist at him that he changed things on me again!

The other part of my life that is unchanging is that I have Brian. I know that some people don’t see marriage as a forever- relationship, but Brian and I take marriage very seriously. We entered into a covenant relationship with God, and that relationship is for life– which I pray will be for many many more years. Our relationship changes, and we as individuals change, but Brian is always there.

After those last two paragraphs, I am reminded that I cannot complain about all of this change. It is my reality– it’s what God has decided for my life. I see the joy in almost all of the changes I listed above, and I can already see joy in this job change to come. No matter what the new school year brings, I have my God and (God willing) my Brian by my side.

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He brags

After class tonight at church, Brian and I were talking to a friend of ours from the Austin Stone Story Team.

When we finished with our Story Team business, Brian got really excited and wanted to share some news. But the news he shared wasn’t his news, it was mine. Brian was bragging about me.

Just when I thought he was done, he started up again, “Oh hey, did Lindsey tell you about…?” He just kept on bragging!

I don’t know why that’s so strange to me– I’m get really proud of him, too. My husband is proud of me. So proud he can’t keep his mouth shut 😉 It makes me feel so loved– he knows me, he knows my life, he pays attention. My joys are his joys. My successes are his.

I love this part of marriage, this part of being one.

Not afraid

I mentioned last week that there are some changes going on at work. Tomorrow morning, we have another meeting.

Tonight, I’m fretting about it. I have no idea what’s going to happen, but that doesn’t stop me from speculating and reacting to my speculations. So, Brian stepped in.

Brian walked through some situations and asked me some hard questions. He made sure I wasn’t letting my pride interfere and that I was thinking about this from several points of view. He also pressed me to figure out where all of my feelings were coming from.

Honestly, it was annoying. I wanted to stew and pout. But Brian did the right thing and asked me hard questions, pulling me out of my funk.

I’m still not excited about tomorrow. But my mind is clearer and my heart less heavy. I’m grateful for a husband who is not afraid of the tough stuff.

It blew up

So, I’m sitting there on Sunday at church, just zoning out. It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with the sermon on the Gospel & Work, it’s just that, well– I didn’t really feel like I needed to hear it.

I work at this unique little Christian school with loving women who are called to teach. It’s so different than public school. Every woman I work with is doing what we do because they have the gift of teaching and they truly love God and children. And then there are my students– oh, my students! What a precious group of personalities! They make it a pleasure to go work every day. They are so dear to me.

So… I wasn’t really listening. I have a sweet situation at work. The sermon wasn’t really for me.

And then on Monday, work blew up.

It was misunderstanding after misunderstanding. The parents I’m supposed to be “partnering with” to educate their children were coming at me. Every time I tried to reach out to one of them, I got my hand slapped. It was nuts! And then we had a meeting where I realized my sweet situation would not look anything like this next year. It blew up.

Now– nothing catastrophic occurred, so I should clarify. I’m not leaving my school or anything– my job will just look different than it does now. And most situations with parents ended up working out in the end (after some drama). But my serene scene was definitely disrupted and this was a stressful, hectic, exhausting week of work.

Know what I’m doing tomorrow? I’m listening to that sermon again. Only this time, I’m going to actually listen.

PS– I just have to say this– it’s 8:24pm on a Friday evening and Brian is already asleep. And snoring. That’s the week we’ve had. Long hours for both of us. But he listened to the sermon the first time. I dare say he was more prepared than I for the week we just had. I’m not far behind him. At least for tonight, there is rest for the weary 🙂

The badass

Wow– to look at our blog for the past three days, you’d think all we talk about is food! And Brian didn’t even mention the banana bread I baked yesterday 😉

I just wanted to share a humorous incident that keeps making me giggle. I have prior approval from my dear, sweet husband to post this.

We were in the bathroom this weekend both getting ready. I was applying my mascara as Brian was admiring himself in the mirror. He spoke the following words: “I (pause) am a badass.”

That, in and of itself, is not the humorous portion of this story. Living with each other and loving each other has created very healthy self-esteems in the Lundin household, so much so that commentary such as this is somewhat commonplace.

No, no– the humor here lies in what immediately followed his remarks. For not two seconds later, the badass accidentally rammed his hand into the bathroom wall and let out a wail that a passerby would not only have assuredly heard outside, but would also have undoubtedly determined that I beat my husband.

(I do not. His pride does it for me 😉 )

I fell forward on the counter laughing, smearing mascara first across my face, and then the mirror. I wanted to check on my husband– to make sure the injury was not life threatening– but I could not. Belly against the granite countertop, face against the mirror, I laughed until my stomach hurt. Only then was I able to recover and see how the badass had fared…

Thank God– Brian was laughing, too!

An epic cake

On Sunday, I set out on an adventure. Scratch that. I set out on it last Thursday watching countless YouTube and eHow videos. You see, folks– I did something that many young brides do. It’s called biting off more than chew.

But… I’m not most young brides.

I’m stubborn. I’m stubborn like my Gran– and if you know my Gran, you know that’s some serious stubborn. It’s also called “stick-to-it-tive-ness” in kinder circles– but I don’t run in those 😉

I learned lots of things from the videos and other things from trial and error. My husband also learned a few things: 1. a chef needs to eat or else she gets cranky, 2. a pep talk goes a long way, and 3. to keep thanking the chef for the tasty creation profusely so that even though on Sunday she swore she’d never make it again, she might. Maybe.

This thing took 7-8 hours total. I took a break to go to church. Brian didn’t get to taste it until 10:30pm, but he assures me that it was worth it.

I took photos along to way, so you get to share in the adventure…

The icing was Ginger Buttercream Icing. I had to peel ginger root, which really looks like something used in voodoo, and then grate it. Both of these steps required research.

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Then, the recipe called for 10 egg whites (research) and 8 sticks of butter. It’s a lot of butter…

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I, then, had to cook the egg whites and sugar to a specific temperature over a double boiler (thank you, Brian),  before about 20 minutes in the Kitchenaid mixer.

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The icing took about an hour and a half from start to finish. I was exhausted, but at that point, I only had icing. Must keep going…

There were some interesting steps for the cake batter as well. I had to core and grate 10 pears, and then squeeze them through cheesecloth…

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…toast and chop pistachios…

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…burn– I mean brown– butter…

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…and then bake it in three pans.

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And then there were the pear chips. It was a lot of work for a topping– but man, those chips were delicious!

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And several hours later, I got to show off my final product.

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I felt pretty accomplished, until we realized there were some unforeseen issues: 1. the cake is so rich and dense that one can’t eat more than a couple of bites at a time, and 2. two people cannot eat this entire cake!

Solution: share. That’s been fun 🙂

Recipe from Garden & Gun: 

Brown Sugar, Pear & Pistachio Cake with 
Ginger Buttercream Frosting and Oven-Dried Pear Chips

Ingredients (Serves 12)
CAKE:
4 sticks butter
2 lbs. (6–8) winter pears, or unripe Bosc or Bartlett pears, scrubbed clean
6 large eggs
3 cups brown sugar
3 tsp. baking soda
1½ tsp. baking powder
1½ tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
3 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 lb. (3 cups) toasted pistachios, roughly chopped

GINGER BUTTERCREAM FROSTING: 
1 cup egg whites, about 10 large eggs, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
½ tsp. kosher salt
8 sticks unsalted butter, softened and cut into 2-inch chunks
4 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. freshly grated ginger
2 tbsp. powdered ginger

OVEN-DRIED PEAR CHIPS:
¾ cup pear juice (or water)
¾ cup sugar
Juice from half a lemon
3 very pretty, symmetrical winter 
(or Bosc or Bartlett) pears

Preparation
CAKE: Adjust oven rack to center. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line three 8-inch round cake pans with parchment, then lightly butter and flour.

In a small lightly colored saucepan, melt butter over low heat. When it has completely liquefied, turn heat to medium to brown the butter. It will bubble, and brown bits will form on the bottom of the pan. When the sputtering stops, strain butter through cheesecloth, and set aside to cool. You should have 1½ cups.

Core the pears, leaving the peel on, and shred using the large side of a box grater or the medium-size grating attachment on a food processor. Gather shredded fruit into a triple thickness of cheesecloth or a thin cotton dish towel, and squeeze the liquid from the pears, capturing ¾ cup of pear juice (for the pear chip recipe).

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg at medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. Then drizzle in brown butter and add vanilla. Add flour, and stir until just incorporated. Stir in shredded pear and pistachios gently. Divide the batter evenly among the three pans.

Bake for 25–30 minutes, or until the cakes have puffed and are lightly browned. Remove to a rack and let cool entirely before peeling away the parchment paper.

To assemble the cake, generously spread buttercream frosting between layers before stacking. Frost the sides and top once with a thin “crumb coat.” Chill cake for 30 minutes, then frost sides and top again with a thick layer. Chill well. Decorate with pear chips.

Make Ahead:
GINGER BUTTERCREAM FROSTING: Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in a medium-size mixing bowl. Set it over a pan of barely simmering water. Whisk the mixture gently until it warms to between 145 and 150 degrees. Remove from heat. Using a mixer, beat on medium-high speed until the egg whites double in volume and turn snowy white and the bowl is completely cool, about 10–15 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and add in butter, one chunk at a time, giving each addition several seconds to incorporate. (You’ll see the meringue deflate during the first few additions.) Add in vanilla and both gingers, and continue whipping until evenly incorporated. Store in the refrigerator up to one week. Whip again before frosting.

OVEN-DRIED PEAR CHIPS: Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. Combine pear juice (or water) and sugar in a small saucepan, and cook over medium heat until sugar has dissolved. Stir in lemon juice. With a sharp knife or a mandoline, slice both sides of the pears vertically into ¹⁄8-inch-thick chips, placing each slice into the syrup as soon as it’s cut. Let slices stand for ten minutes. Remove each slice, letting the excess syrup drip back into the pot, and transfer to the baking sheet. Bake until the slices feel very dry, about 1½ hours, turning them over midway.

Happy Birthday, Brian!

What. A. Day.

It all began early this morning, when I got up to make breakfast. It had to be early– we both had an all day retreat to get to and a friend to pick up on the way. The Pioneer Woman taught me to make biscuits and gravy— Brian’s favorite. While I was whipping that up, I put out Brian’s birthday basket and cedar shoe valet. I also got my phone ready to play The Beatles “Birthday” when Brian came downstairs. I was having a blast jumping from the oven to the stove to the french press to setting the table. I was giddy for him to come downstairs and enjoy the fun.

Brian's birthday basket included homemade blueberry infused bourbon, simple syrup, a shoe shine kit, a monogrammed mint julep cup, and specialty beard oil-- I thought it had a "southern gentleman" feel :)

Brian’s birthday basket included homemade blueberry infused bourbon, simple syrup, a shoe shine kit, a monogrammed mint julep cup, and specialty beard oil– I thought it had a “southern gentleman” feel 🙂

Breakfast was fun, but fast! Brian enjoyed the food and coffee (my first gravy ever!), and we laughed and chatted as we got ready to leave.

Today’s retreat was all about Gospel Fluency and living that out. It was incredible. During the morning session breaks, I would run up to Brian and word vomit everything I was connecting with and convicted of from the first session. We both planned on napping when we got home, but the conversation that started in the car as we processed what we learned kept going when we entered the house. We talked for a couple of hours– confessing and sharing and marveling. During this, we did make mint juleps with the infused bourbon in Brian’s birthday gift and sipped as we talked– yum!

This is the bourbon I infused and a peek at the process

This is the bourbon I infused and a peek at the process

Brian wouldn’t let me do any housework on his birthday, so we read our novels together until it was time to leave for the movie. We saw ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ at Alamo. It was a looooooong movie, but very good. Brian liked it more than I did, but I was also freezing cold in the theater and nodding off during the very long, slow middle of the movie. In my defense, we went to a 9:40pm showing.

It was an awesome day– the first time I’ve been able to spoil my husband on his special day. I look forward to spoiling him over and over for the rest of our lives. Today was great– and I’m sure we’ll be sharing more of what we learned about at the retreat in an upcoming post.

Happy Birthday, Brian!!! I love you!!!