tuesday tunes - matthew mayfield.

i'm guessing most of you haven't heard of today's tune, birmingham's own matthew mayfield. we have some mutual friends who had been telling me about him, and then i finally got to hear him play a couple of months ago here in town (and then the same week heard one of his songs on grey's anatomy!)

a little about matthew: after a 2 year try with a major label as the band "moses mayfield" didn't work out, matthew branched out solo. first he released the fire ep in 2008, and has since spent time touring with bands like needtobreathe (side note: saw them live friday night...amazing.) while pumping out 6 more EPs along the way. stay tuned for some great music to come from this guy.

but, in the meantime, you get download a free song here:

or just listen to all of his current stuff here:

and here's a little video for that free song above ("can't change my mind")...


i ♥ nashville - a gwyneth paltrow story.

so gwyneth paltrow was here in nashville for a few months filming her new movie (w/ tim mcgraw) love don’t let me down. there were sightings all over town, of both her and beau chris martin, but for the most part everybody just let them be.

and good ol' gwyn wrote all about us in 2 of her "GOOP" blog newsletters...
{see part 1 and part 2.}

in my opinion, she's pretty spot-on (pointing out some of my favorites - the ryman, marche, ugly mugs, city house, & whiskey kitchen!) she even talks about gal pals faith hill & reese witherspoon helping her out here...no big deal. i just might have to refer to these little reviews now when i'm making suggestions of places to eat, venues to try, or things to do in my fabulous city.


tuesday tunes - andrew ripp.

we all know i love discovering new amazing music.
i got to see this week's tune, andrew ripp, play last night and i was blown away. he's one of our new mocha club artists, so i've been hearing my staff talk about him -- but i had no idea how talented he really is. andrew's been on tour w/ ben rector (you remember him) and steve moakler as one third of the "3 amigos tour", so it made for a very enjoyable evening.

y'all. andrew's voice is ridiculous. i'd even venture to say flawless. definitely original, full of soul and passion. and he was just insane live. his debut album, fifty miles to chicago, came out in 2008, but andrew is in the studio making a new album right now (dave barnes is actually producing it) which should be out sometime this year. and he'll be out on tour opening for dave next month!

here's andrew singing one of my favorites, "dresden wine"... (get ready to LOVE this guy!)


going back to gulu.

You may remember my 2008 trip to Africa – a team from my church here in Nashville, Midtown Fellowship, that traveled to East Africa. Though we were still very hands-on in ministry and service, a huge part of our trip was grasping a vision for the future of Midtown missions. The majority of our time was spent in northern Uganda, in a city called Gulu. After the trip, our team was unanimous that Gulu had stolen our hearts and we began praying towards a future partnership there.

And now, 2 years later, we are going back.

And this time, guess who’s leading the team?

That’s right, yours truly!

Let me give you a little back story:

The 2008 trip was through African Leadership - the parent company of the organization I have worked for since I moved to Nashville in 2007, Mocha Club. Then, you may remember that I actually had the opportunity to lead a team last summer to South Africa, on an official Mocha Club trip, which really solidified and affirmed my ability & desire to lead trips like this. I know it will still be scary and Africa always contains elements of the unknown and the unpredictable, but I feel confident in stepping forward and leading this team.


Our team is composed of 18 Midtowners, including our lead teaching pastor, Randy Draughon. The vision is to begin to build sustainable bridges from Nashville to Gulu. We will be working with Jeffrey Ocan, African Leadership’s National Director for Uganda, who pastors a church in Gulu. As we have spent time praying and seeking God’s direction for our community overseas, we are continually brought back to Gulu and the Achioli people, and a church-to-church partnership. The vision would include yearly short-term missions trips, and ongoing communication across the ocean between our two churches. Our hope is a long-term connection between our community at Midtown and the community we seek to serve, love, and learn from in Gulu.

If you’re not familiar with the history of Gulu, it is a place that has been devastated by two decades of war. Though it has now become a place of peace, the effects of war are real and the need is great. The time is ripe to enter into the journey of healing and restoration with our brothers and sisters there.


As with any trip like this, I am responsible for raising support to get

there. How could I not ask my faithful blog readers to join me? It is humbling having to (continually) depend on others to provide, but I know that ultimately God is the provider of all things, and I am confident of His leading me once again to Africa - to this team and this trip.

If you'd like to give financially (all contributions are tax-deductible) it's super easy...just go to our website -- make sure to put my name in the 1st box!

I am so grateful for these opportunities continually put in front of me, and that God would consider me worthy of leading a group of people on a trip like this. I can’t wait to share with you the stories and examples of how He is working in Uganda.

Of course, you can keep up with it all right here on my blog!


modern vintage.

when it comes to designing & decorating my home, i have a weird combination style. i like to blend together modern elements from places like ikea, west elm, and CB2 (crate & barrel's funkier side) with vintage eclectic stuff from urban outfitters & anthropologie. {though ikea tends to be the only one that is ever in my price range!}

i've been spending some time over at apartment therapy -- i love their tagline - saving the world, one room at a time. and it has inspired me to start making a design wish list. i'm sure it's also been spurred on by thoughts of potentially moving, and my craving for some change (and there's probably a lesson about discontentment in here somewhere, too) but, hey, a girl can dream.

here are some things i love right now:

"dream menagerie" rug from anthropologie.

firefly pendant lamp from CB2.

branch side table from west elm.

patterned city prints from CB2.

"lulu" chair from urban outfitters.

"winter tree" vinyl wall art from popwall on etsy.

"edition" wall art from CB2.

"birds on a branch" hook from urban outfitters.

"alvine parla" cushion from ikea.

trader joe's top 10 {part deux}

in case you missed my top 10 items from trader joe's the 1st time around, be sure to check out that original list from my all-time favorite grocery store!

because of a combination of 1) trader joe's adding new fun items to the store, and 2) i'm branching out and trying new stuff, i thought it was time to make a 2nd list...

10. gnocchi alla sorrentina // basically, it's gnocchi (potato pasta) w/ tomato sauce & mozzarella. it comes frozen, so i always have one or two in my freezer, then usually prepare it with a fresh sauteed vegetable (like zucchini) or some grilled chicken (see #1 below!)

9. whole wheat pizza dough // only 99 cents! just flatten it out w/ some flour, throw on your favorite toppings, and you have your own unique pizza! (note: it helps to pre-cook the dough for a bit, and then add your toppings and cook again)

8. lite popcorn // already air-popped & bagged for you (sold where the chips are) this is my favorite guilt-free snack. disclaimer: it's tempting to eat the whole bag (i may or may not have done this.)

7. cage-free liquid egg whites // i switched to egg whites a while back, but lately i've been getting really grossed out when i use my egg separator (it just starts looking too alive...ewww..) so i've gone to liquid egg whites for my own sanity's sake. but - this can be more expensive. thanks to TJs, though, this doesn't have to be the case. you get this little guy (16 oz - the equivalent to 10 large eggs) for just $1.69!

6. beer bread in a box // seriously -- all you add is a 12 oz. beer and voila! amazing beer bread. (goes great w/ chili, by the way!) really impresses your friends :)

5. almond butter w/ roasted flaxseeds // i'm a recent nut butter (peanut-to-almond) convertee, and this stuff is my favorite. (i prefer crunchy & salted)

4. chimichuri wild pacific salmon // i didn't even like cooked salmon before, but i love this stuff. they come frozen, with 3 or 4 fillets per package. you can grill, broil, or pan fry those suckers to your liking. oh so tasty (and healthy!)

3. frozen green beans // (the extra fine french cut ones) i know. simple, right? but really amazing. you get a huge bag, and can just take out the portion you need. (i enjoy steaming them for a couple minutes, then adding a little sea salt afterwards!)

2. whole wheat naan // if you don't know about this indian bread, do yourself a favor and branch out. it's soft and yummy, and perfect to dip in hummus or just enjoy plain (i like toasting it, too)

1. fully-cooked, boneless, skinless chicken breasts // oh my goodness. i seriously think these are the best thing since sliced bread. the pkgs are about 2 lbs (at $2.99/lb), so you get 3-4 of these lean, tender, breasts for around $6! they're already cooked, and come individually wrapped. microwave them, and in just 2 minutes you have a delicious grilled chicken breast, ready to throw in a salad, a quesadilla, or just enjoy plain (it's already seasoned w/ salt, pepper, & garlic). deeeelish.


tuesday tunes - dave barnes.

if you've been around this blog long, you've probably heard about dave barnes. he's one of our star mocha club artists (remember the LIVE event?), and a pretty hilarious dude (side note: his comedy dvd is for sale at the mocha club store!).

dave in the sudan last year w/ my boss, barrett

so far dave has put out 3 full-length albums: brother bring the sun, chasing mississippi, and me + you + the world, and 2 EPs: 3 then 4, and you, the night, & candlelight

on april 6th, his next album. what we want, what we get, will be released. and, here's the fun part: if you pre-order now, you get an immediate download of the entire album and a bonus track! (then they'll ship you the cd on april 6th) ...pretty cool. you can go to dave's myspace to hear the first single, "god gave me you" (and some of his other tunes!)

and i'll leave you with a little video for laughs...enjoy.


when {bridesmaid} duty calls.

this weekend i had the joy of being a bridesmaid in my friend julie's wedding.
(here we are, very excited)

you may find it hard to believe, but this was actually my 12th wedding to be in!! (sometimes i think i'm the next 27 dresses candidate...)

a lot of people would think that would make me crazy, but i really see it as a testament to the quality of friends the Lord has blessed me with. it's such an honor to be asked to be a part of the most important day of my friends' lives. but bridesmaid duties go far beyond throwing a killer shower, addressing some invitations, and helping the bride pee after she's already in her dress. (if you're not familiar with the typical bridemaid duties -- don't worry, there's a website for you: bridesmaid101.com. wow.)
i see it as a real responsibility.... to get up at the rehearsal dinner and share stories of God's faithfulness and pursuit in her life... to pray with her before the ceremony ... to stand up there beside them, as a witness and a supporter, promising to walk through this marriage.
what a privilege to step into that role!

these are friends that i continue to pray for and treasure in my life, and i look forward to having them all stand beside me on my day (whenever that may be!)

here's a little snippet of some of the beautiful brides i get to call friends ...and the fabulous dresses that i'll "of COURSE be able to wear again" (wink wink)


hungry girl.

hungry girl. no, that's not the new nickname you should be calling me (rude.) it's the name of a cookbook series i'm loving right now -- "tips & tricks for hungry chicks". basically, it's a ton of easy & healthy recipes that still taste great and fill you up! (like this one -- 200 recipes for under 200 calories!)

last night, my friend emily and i tried our first one:
Fiber-Fried Chicken Strips.

- 6 oz. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut lengthwise into 5 strips
- 1/2 cup Fiber One cereal
- 1/4 cup egg substitute
- salt & pepper

preheat oven to 375 degrees.
using a blender or food processor {i used my magic bullet of course} grind cereal to breadcrumb-like consistency.

add salt & pepper to crumbs & place in one small dish. place egg substitute in another.
coat raw chicken strips w/ egg and then w/ crumb mixture, then place on baking pan sprayed with nonstick spray.
spray a light mist of nonstick spray on top of strips & place in oven.
cook for 10 minutes, & then turn strips over.
add another light mist of spray & cook for an additional 8-10 minutes.

enjoy with your favorite dipping sauce -- we used buffalo sauce & trader joe's garlic mustard (stay away from creamy ranch or mayonaise!)

{serves 1}

and this is the best part...

serving size = 5 strips.

calories: 240

fat: 3.25g

{compare that to mcdonald's chicken selects - 5 strips is 670 calories & 39 grams of fat -- yikes!}

so, in the words of hungry girl... "i love food because food is delicious." amen.


tuesday tunes - gungor.

i'm stoked about this week's band, gungor. {formerly the "michael gungor band"} these guys are some of our mocha club artists, and are doing awesome things for music that wears the "christian" label. their songs are unique, powerful, artistic, and...well, just plain good.

i'm loving their new record, beautiful things. you seriously need to check this out.

but, instead of me trying to sell you on it, here's gungor, in their own words (and you'll hear the title track, "beautiful things", too!):



you probably remember my favorite book of 09: cold tangerines. i mean, i loved this book. i love the way the author, shauna niequist, writes so beautifully and authentically, and how you feel like you're her best friend when you finish reading.

well, thanks to christine (who originally told me about cold tangerines, too!) i have recently discovered shauna's blog. and the best news of 2010? she has a new book coming out this fall! it's called bittersweet, and i have really no idea what it's about, but i'm assuming its along the same lines as her last book -- a memoir-esque journey through life's ups and downs and the lessons she's learned along the way. and i know that it comes out in september.

shauna (we're totally on a 1st name basis..) did release an excerpt from the first chapter, "learning to swim". you can hear her read it here on her blog, or i've also copied over the text below.

my heart resonates particularly with the idea of praying to God like a a short order cook: "this is what i want. period. aren't you getting this?" (i mean, no, i've never said that...) and the praying for the waiting to be over...oh wow, do i not like waiting...at all.

hope you enjoy this little piece..
{and if you haven't already, go ahead and get cold tangerines.
you'll thank me later.}

Learning to Swim.

I learned about waves when I was little, swimming in Lake Michigan, in navy blue water under a clear sky, and the most important thing I learned was this: if you try to stand and face the wave, it will smash you to bits, but if you trust the water, and let it carry you, there’s nothing sweeter. And a couple decades later, that’s what I’m learning to be true about life, too. If you dig in and fight the change you’re facing, it will indeed smash you to bits. It will hold you under, drag you across the rough sand, scare and confuse you.

This last season in my life has been characterized, more than anything else, by change. Hard, swirling, one-after-another changes, so many that I can’t quite regain my footing before the next one comes, very much like being tumbled by waves.

During that season, there were moments when I lost touch with the heart of God’s story, the part where life always comes from death. I love the life part, and I always try to skip over that pesky death part. You can’t do that, as much as I’ve tried.

I believe that God is making all things new. I believe that Christ overcame death and that that pattern is apparent all through life and history: life from death, water from a stone, redemption from failure, connection from alienation. I believe that suffering is a part of the narrative, and that nothing really good gets built when everything’s easy. I believe that loss and emptiness and confusion often give way to new fullness and wisdom. But in that difficult season, I failed to believe in the big, beautiful story of who God is and what He is doing in this world.

If I’m honest, I prayed the way you order breakfast from a short order cook: this is what I want. Period. This is what I want. Aren’t you getting this? I didn’t pray for God’s will to be done in my life, or, at any rate, I didn’t mean it. I prayed to be rescued, not redeemed. I prayed for it to get easier, not that I would be shaped in significant ways. I prayed for the waiting to be over, instead of trying to learn something about patience or anything else for that matter.

What I know now, though, is that change is one of God’s greatest gifts, and most useful tools. I’ve learned that change can push us, pull us, rebuke and remake us. It can show us who we’ve become, in the worst ways, and also in the best ways. I’ve learned that in many cases, change is not a function not life’s cruelty but instead a function of God’s graciousness.

If you dig in and fight the changes, they will smash you to bits. They’ll hold you under, drag you across the rough sand, scare and confuse you. But if you can find it within yourself, in the wildest of seasons, just for a moment, to trust in the goodness of God, who made it all and holds it all together, you’ll find yourself drawn along to a whole new place, and there’s truly nothing sweeter. Unclench your fists, unlock your knees and also the door to your heart, take a deep breath, and let God do his work in you.


tuesday tunes - andrew belle.

today's tuesday tune is another nashville singer-songwriter. (although, he is a recent transplant and would probably claim chicago as more of a home than nashville!) but, regardless of where he's from..andrew belle is great.
andrew was one of the ten out of tenn (TOT) from the fall tour, and such a delight to listen to. he's got a unique sound and infectious melodies that get stuck in your head. (bonus points: he's a georgia football fan!)

following his 2008 ep, all those pretty lights, andrew just released his debut full-length album, the ladder. it's only $5.99 on itunes, and totally worth it.

here's one of my favorites, "static waves" (w/ the lovely katie herzig) -- filmed in the back of the TOT bus: