I constantly struggle with being content in my current circumstances.  I hope and believe that what we are doing here will pay off in the future, but keeping that in perspective now can be incredibly difficult. I sure do miss my friends and family in the South, and having a job at my beloved Southern Miss before coming here made it all the harder to leave.  With the holidays approaching, it is all the more a reminder that we live so far away from most of the people we love.  As seems to always happen, I got a little reminder at just the right time that we need to be content in all circumstance and work for good where we are.  This was The Upper Room’s devotional yesterday:

Paul wrote, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
— Philippians 4:11 (NIV)

Four young men in their prime were forcibly removed from their homeland and taken to a foreign, heathen kingdom. Not only were they of noble blood; each one was gifted with intelligence and wisdom. Daniel, one of the young men, had the ability to understand dreams and visions. And it’s clear from today’s reading that these talents were given by God. Amazingly, the young men entered the king’s service and remained there throughout Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. We know from the story in the Book of Daniel that these young men remained loyal in prayer and worship, serving God even while under the authority of a heathen king, even when in danger from lions or fire. How often do we find ourselves wishing we were in a different set of circumstances? We may feel sure that we could be far more productive in a different job, a different state, a different country, or a different church. Sometimes we dream of an ideal situation in which we could serve God fully. But the lesson from these young men who could do nothing but wait on God is to serve wherever we are, in whatever circumstances, to the best of our ability. If we are willing servants, God can use us for divine purpose anywhere.

A good and timely remind for me, and I’m sure for many of us.


Swing State Mania

Pat and I have had the unique experience of living in one of the most important swing states for both the 2008 and 2012 Presidential elections.  In the lead-up to the election, I wouldn’t even realize that the evening news had switched from local coverage to the Nightly News because they were reporting from Ohio nearly every night.  Airport rallies, Springsteen & Jay-Z, the President on campus, and campaign ads 24/7.  
Despite a little election coverage over-saturation, we were very excited to get up and cast our ballots on Election Day.  A lot of people took advantage of early voting, but we wanted to get the whole experience and vote on Election Day.
Here I am at 6:20 am waiting on our friends to get here so we could walk to our polling place.  It was about 32 degrees outside.
Pat, bundled and waiting.

We didn’t take any pictures inside our polling place because it was crazy.  It was totally packed at 6:45 am.  It’s always important to vote, but it was a special feeling knowing how significant our state’s votes might be.
After voting we did the most American thing we could think of…we went to Bob Evans’ for a hearty American breakfast.

Our friend and fellow patriot, Matt.

When we got home, a Mitt Romney blimp was flying over our house.  This really illustrates the ridiculous lengths the campaigns went to to catch the attention of Ohio voters.

Ohio has great “I voted” stickers.  We rocked them proudly all day. 

Cleveland Browns

A very generous person gave Pat and me tickets to the Cleveland Browns v. Philadelphia Eagles pre-season game on Friday.  We didn’t get the tickets until about 1:30 pm on the day of the game, so we immediately hit the road for Cleveland.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Lake Erie!  There is an airport right behind me, so we could see small planes taking off and landing too.

Pat’s first time at Cleveland Browns Stadium.  He said I’ve been responsible for three of his best football experiences:  Ohio State v. Illinois at the Horseshoe (first OSU game); Ohio State v. Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl; and his first trip to see the Browns!  *brushes shoulders off*
We still agree that a good Southern Miss game is the best, though!

Sixth row, 46 yard line…not too shabby for our first NFL game.

#3 Brandon Weedon and #12 Colt McCoy workin’ it out

Dan Emmett Festival

This weekend Pat & I headed to Mt. Vernon, Ohio to look at furniture.  Mt. Vernon is a rural town about an hour away from Columbus.  We struck out at the furniture store, but stumbled upon a great little festival!  Downtown Mt. Vernon was hosting their annual Dan Emmett Festival.  Never heard of Dan Emmett?  Neither had we!  But, it turns out that Mr. Emmett is the man that composed the Confederate hymn “Dixie” (as in “Oh I wish I was in the land of cotton…Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land”).  Apparently he wasn’t too happy the Rebels commandeered his song.  He’s the most famous Mt. Vernon resident, so they have a festival remembering him each year.  It was all the best of rural Ohio and the weather was in the 60s.  Quite a departure from August in Mississippi!

There were banjo and fiddle competitions.  This kid was in the Under-12 Banjo division.

We didn’t know about the festival when we left Columbus, so we didn’t have any cash on us.  Pat got the sugar waffle lady to give him free waffles by telling her he was from Mississippi and had never seen sugar waffles before.  He told her she needed to bring her sugar waffle trailer down to Mardi Gras!

Old man river warming up his fiddle.

Loving the rural Ohio life.

Pat found a truck with his life’s motto on it, “Everything’s better dipped in chocolate.”
On our way home we went through the Geographical Center of Ohio.  Had to stop and capture it!


Well, we made it!  We’re officially in Columbus for the next few years.  After saying goodbye to our families, we hit the road for our 12 hour trip north…unfortunately a few of those hours were spent in pouring rain and lightening.  Our stuff made it too, but with a few bumps and bruises from shipping.  Oh well!

Since we’ve been here, we’ve already ventured to the West Chester IKEA near Cincinnati.  Here’s the product of that trip:

We needed a little extra storage, so we figured our Fiesta dishes would be cute enough to display in the dining room.

We also made a trip to the Pottery Barn Outlet on our way up.  We thought we’d just take a look around, but we ended up finding a new sofa there!  We were already planning to order a sofa from Pottery Barn, but instead we found one at the outlet for about $700 less than the one we had planned to purchase.  What a deal!


If you follow me on twitter (@sara_fries), then you’ve probably already seen (or been annoyed) by a couple of my recent tweets through the new app Viggle.  I first saw the app on Mallory Cornell Lacey’s blog.  She posted about a great new app that gives you points for checking into tv shows you’re already watching. 

TV is definitely my guilty pleasure, so Pat and I decided to give it a try!  Within two days, we had both earned enough points for a small Starbucks giftcard…don’t mind if I do!  We’re actually saving our points right now to try for a bigger reward.  They have gift cards, Apple products, Kindle Fires, and lots of other great rewards.  They do turn the rewards over every so often, so we’re hoping they’ll still have what we want when earn all the points we need.

If you already watch tv, especially if you watch prime-time tv, you should definitely give Viggle a try.  You get bonus points for a lot of the prime-time shows…they let you know on the app which ones they’re currently promoting. 

**I’m sure it’s obvious, seeing as how my blog is no powerhouse of readership, but I was not asked to write this as a promotion.  I just think it’s a fun app.

Basil Pesto

One of my favorite summer treats is Basil Pesto on fresh bread with mozzarella and fresh tomato on top.  Here’s my go-to recipe.

2 cups of basil leaves (or whatever I have and I adjust the other ingredients in proportion)
1/4 walnuts or pine nuts
2-3 cloves of garlic
salt & pepper

Combine in a food processor.  Then, with food processor running, add about 1/2 cup of olive oil.
Place pesto in a bowl and add about 1/2 cup of shredded italian cheese (parmesan, pecorino, asiago; whatever is on hand).  Add more olive oil if needed and taste for seasoning.  Sometimes it needs extra salt, but it depends on what kind of cheese you used.

Lemon-Rosemary Sauce

We love roasted vegetables at our house, especially roasted red potatoes and zucchini.  About a year ago we were looking for a recipe with grilled potatoes because we wanted to try some out on our new grill.  We found a Bobby Flay recipe that included a lemon-rosemary sauce and this magic sauce has become a staple at our house, especially during summer veggie season. 

Lemon Rosemary Sauce
(adapted from Bobby Flay)

-Juice and zest of 2 lemons
-a few tablespoons of fresh rosemary (I think he called for two, but I LOVE rosemary, and I’ve never added too much)
-4 cloves of garlic roasted (I simmer them in olive oil in a little non-stick skillet until soft; turn them up high until bubbly, then simmer on low…learned that trick on Cooking Channel; then I use the leftover garlic flavored oil to roast my veggies in the oven)
-1 Tbs dijon or Creole mustard (I prefer the Creole)
-salt & pepper

Blend in a food processor until combined.  With the food processor running, slowly add 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil.

I can’t get enough of this sauce!  So easy and fresh tasting, especially if you have a rosemary bush.

On the road again…

Well, it’s been quite a while since I posted on my blog!  I shut it down for a bit while I was applying to graduate programs and job searching because I feel like the less that’s out on the internet when a potential employer Googles you, the better.  In the time since I last blogged, a lot has happened.

For almost a year, Pat and I have both been working at Southern Miss and loving being back in such a special university community.  We have tried to take full advantage of being back around friends, Southern Miss sporting events, and some of our favorite restaurants and hang-outs around the ‘burg.  It has been such a wonderful year being back in a place that we love so much and that has meant a lot to both of us in many different ways.  
Now, it’s time to make another move… After just a short year here in Hattiesburg, we’re on the road again!  For those that haven’t heard, we’re headed back to the cold, cold north…

What it is.

I had a blog before, but it was mostly personal and was created in the pits of graduate school despair.  I love reading blogs, but I needed to create a blog that had more substance than just my everyday life.  Plus, since I’ve added a husband to the mix, my single girl blog didn’t really work for ‘us.’  So, here it is.  My/our new blog that will still chronicle our life, but also our favorite hobbies…cooking and eating.

My husband is a big Michael Pollan fan.  For those not familiar, although I’m sure almost everyone is these days, he’s a journalist turned food author/activist who preaches to us to eat real food not “edible foodlike substances.”  This is our goal, although he has lots of other great advice as well.

We just celebrated our first wedding anniversary, and in the past year we’ve started baking our own bread, making our own pizza dough, eating more quinoa and vegetarian based dishes, experimenting with poaching eggs (runny yolks!?! I wouldn’t have tried that a year ago!), and using lots of herbs from our tiny little potted balcony garden.  I hope to share some of our favorite recipes and kitchen adventures here.