I LOVE chocolate. I really do. But there may be such a thing as too much chocolate after all. I can't believe I just said that.
Tonight I decided to experiement creating a yummy chocolate dessert. When I was in Texas for Christmas time, Sarah and I went to the annual "Kappa and Kin" holiday brunch. That is where I first encountered a wonderful cupcake-meets-cakeball delicacy. It was pretty much an upside down cupcake with hardened chocolate covering the top and sides. It looked like a miniture chocolate top hat. I have thought about it often since then and wondered how it was created. This is what I figured: you make miniture cupcakes, let them cool, turn them upside down in a larger cupcake tin, pour melted chocolate over them and let them harden. After some trial and error I realized that that is not the way to make the chocolate top hats.
So this is what I ended up with... dark chocolate mini cupcakes with the tops dipped in chocolate and white chocolate drizzled over the top. I'm taking these to our home community girl's night tomorrow. These are dangerously rich and should only be consumed with a tall glass of milk.
The Joy of Cooking
It's been a long couple of weeks and I have been exhausted each night when I get home. But baking is my idea of a relaxing evening. It's enjoyable and even a good way for me to relieve stress. What is it that you really enjoy doing? Or that helps you unwind at the end of the day?
This weekend I've been working at the Eugene Home and Garden Show for Medical Teams International. The production company who is putting on the show invited us to come set up a booth to raise money for Haiti and they will match donations up to $10,000! I was designated as the MTI employee to run the show for the weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). So I loaded up my car with all of our displays and materials and headed 150 miles south to Eugene, Oregon. I haven't made it this far south yet, so I was excited to see a new part of the state. Its not the most beautiful drive down I-5 and there isn't too much to the city, but I did do a little exploring. I had yesterday afternoon to myself, so I drove over to the University of Oregon campus and went for a run. Stephen Carter (another MTI staff member, not a relative) drove down to help out at the show today. He grew up in Eugene, so during our lunch break we headed over to his favorite fish market for some fresh fish and chips! The rest of my time has been spent at the Lane County Convention Center. The Home & Garden Show is an interesting place. Great for people watching. Besides being the "Track Capital of America", Eugene seems to also be the capital of interesting facial hair. I also met a young boy who was the 2005 International Yodeling Champion. And our booth was right next to the Adorable Alpaca group who actually brought live alpacas with them. As you can see, this has been a very exciting event.
But I have been truly amazed at how generous and supportive people have been of the Haiti relief efforts. We have had hundreds of people give donations big and small. One lady said, "My husband and I just got laid off from our jobs, but I have $6," and gave us her donation. The students of Clear Lake Elementary School raised money all week long for Haiti and brought us a $570 check today - which is $1,140 with the matching donation! Another little boy brought a jar full of coins and dumped them in our donation bucket. Every little bit adds up and goes to people who need more help than we can imagine.
To the golden ball of joy that used to brighten my days:
Where have you gone?
Why did you leave so abruptly without even saying goodbye?
You don't write, you don't call,
You don't peek out from behind the clouds to see how I'm doing.
Remember how you used to shine and we would go on hikes together?
Remember when we would share a lazy afternoon in Laurelhurst Park?
You adding a glow to my skin while I would nap under your rays?
Even when it was only 59 degrees,
I would venture outside with a beach towel and book to keep you company.
Those were the days...
Dear Mr. Sun,
This is a formal invitation for you to come visit me again.
You can stay as long as you wish.
I promise you won't wear out your welcome.
I am currently experiencing my first disaster response with Medical Teams International. A 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti on Tuesday devestating the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The epicenter was only 10 miles from Port au Prince, Haiti's capital city. About 3 million people - one third of Haiti's population - were affected by the quake. The disaster cut electricity and power which could leave people without clean drinking water and at risk for disease, infection and malnutrition. The new mass of displaced persons could create crowded, unsanitary conditions.
Our first medical team, which includes two doctors, three nurses and our vice president of international programs, left for Haiti this morning. An orthopedic team will travel to Haiti this weekend. The teams will be carrying medicines and orthopedic supplies - enough to help 12,000 people for a week. They are going into a very chaotic situation with reports of no fuel and possibly a lack of clean water and food. I am amazed at how organized, well-planned and quick the disaster response has been. The Haitian people need help now and everyone at the office has responded quickly to send immediate assistance.
The office has been as busy as ever during the past two days. I've had a hard time finding parking each morning due to the large volume of volunteers coming to the warehouse to help package medicine and supplies. The phones have been ringing off the hook with people who want to volunteer and donate money. Our website numbers have increased from 400 visits per day to 400 visits per hour! News and radio stations want to conduct interviews and host telethons. The response is overwhelming! Please continue to pray for safety and healing for the Haitian people and the medical teams who are travling into the country.
This weekend, my good friend Carrie visited Portland for the first time since she moved away in August. She is currently participating in a fellowship program in Washington DC which has been a great opportunity for her... but I miss her! Carrie and I picked up right where we left off, as if no time had passed at all. She's one of those friends that I can talk to about anything.
It was fun running around the city with her as her appreciation and excitement for Portland rubbed off on me. She kept saying how much she loved the city and misses it which made me realize just how lucky I am to live here. It was a good reminder to not take Portland for granted. Carrie, move back to Portland!!
No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth.
This afternoon, Katie and I traveled down to Salem to visit Mat who has been living there for the past five months. I have been to small towns around the the Salem area, but hadn't yet visited the Oregon capital city. So Mat gave Katie and I the grand tour: we visited his favorite coffee shop, walked past the court house to the state capitol building, ate at a local Mexican restaurant called La Perla, and stopped by the church where Mat is the youth minister. We joked about being the ultimate Oregon citizens since we were touring the state capital in the drizzling rain while sipping a cup of local coffee.
I can't believe that its already 2010. A new decade. After two whole weeks of holiday vacation down in Texas, I'm back in Portland. Thursday was a long day of traveling (extended by several flight delays), but I made it back in time to ring in the new year with friends. My time in Waco with friends and family was wonderful. I saw friends from high school and college, spent time with the Moores and the Carters and loved being able to just relax at home. It was tough saying goodbye and traveling the 2,000 miles from Waco back to Portland, but after being here a few days I remember why I love this city so much... the waterfalls which splash right onto the highway, the sweet and innocent two year olds that I work with at church (minus the poopy diapers), the weirdness of the locals (example: looking up from my eliptical machine at the gym to see 4 birdwatchers staring intensely at a bush through binoculars), riding my bike, the constant drizzle (okay, I definitely don't love that). I have a few days off of work before I start my new position on Thursday. Things will soon pick up and my schedule will become busy. I'm excited to see what this new year in Portland will bring!
This is a great passage I read today in Cry, the Beloved Country:
"...Pray and rest. Even if it is only words that you pray, and even if your resting is only a lying on a bed. And do not pray for yourself, and do not pray to understand the ways of God. For they are secret. Who knows what life is, for life is a secret. And why you go on, when it would seem better to die, that is a secret... Pray for your own rebuilding. Pray for all people, those who do justice, and those who would do justice if they were not afraid... And give thanks where you can give thanks. For nothing is better."