Happys and Sads, Part Sei

I've been back in school for almost three weeks now and so it feels like a suitable time for the next installment of Happys and Sads. So here goes...
Name: Elise Jordan
Program: MSc Global Health
Year: 1
Weeks completed: 22
Focus: Getting my thesis proposal submitted. Due last week.

-A spontaneous weekend trip to see Sisterkind and Bobby when I was feeling homesick (my first weekend back).
-Being back in Durham with my great friends here.
-Walks and jogs in the Duke forests with Adam.
-Trying to give Adam Italian lessons in anticipation of our (hopefully) honeymoon in Italia.
-The fact that Adam decided that PREGO means anything he wants it to in the Italian language and is an appropriate response to anything I say, ask, or do.
-The study of Psalms that we are starting in my small group.
-Discovering two new places in the area where you get free soft serve with your meal. They are not buffets. Or fast food. I promise.
-It's officially less than 9 months till W-Day.
-One of my bridesmaids told me the other day that she would "even taste test butter if I needed her too." That is a sweet friend right there.
-The AMAZING care package that Adam's mom sent him from which I quickly confiscated the chocolate covered raisins...at least most of them.
-Adam's and my guilty pleasure trips to cookout for milkshakes. Weekly. Yikes.
-Starting to actually like STATA.
-Getting a letter and some of these yummy bars in the mail from my dear friend Stephanie who wanted me to try something new and delicious that I can eat! You're the best Steph.

-Getting an adorable and sweet letter in the mail from my friend Linnea today. :)
-ACC play in full swing.
-This new thing where Adam gives me foot rubs a lot. I don't know...but I'm liking it.
-Getting involved in a Saturday night supper club with some great friends from church with Adam. Such a blessing to have such awesome, wise, and wonderful people to fellowship and eat great food with!
-Starting pre-marital counseling with an amazing couple who we admire and love spending time (and eating ice cream) with.
-So many people encouraging me lately by telling me how much they appreciate reading my blog. Thank you so much for reading friends!!
-My mom deciding to make a quick trip out here in March!
-The letters from my little friend and now pen-pal, Matthew, that I get without fail each month. I just got one today. They make me smile. :) My favorite part was when he told me it had been exactly 1 month and 11 days since he last wrote me a letter.
-Sister is coming to visit this weekend. And the three Jordan children will be going to a Duke game. Together. This will be epic my friends.

-Back in work mode...or at least trying.
-Trying to finish my thesis proposal.
-Not having nearly as much time to blog as I did over the holidays and being resentful of that.
-Just today:

-My sister told me that she thinks I'm strange
-Adam told me he thinks I'm odd. (But that he loves my oddness...?)

-My cute new purple shoes gave me (many) horrible blisters when I wore them for the first time the other day. I walked most of the way home barefoot. What to do?

-Neither Federer nor Nadal making it to the finals of the Australian Open.
-Wishing the wedding industry wasn't so stinking expensive.
-It's too cold. Period.
-Discovering that I will be missing both my cousin's and my dear friend/future sister in law's (refer to THIS post for the details) weddings while I'm doing my research in Nepal this summer. Heartbreak.
-Sunday's game. But I really don't want to talk about it.

May this week bring you many Happys and few Sads everyone!!



I just started listening to a podcast of a pastor who is preaching on the attributes of love in 1 Corinthians 13. The first two attributes are that love is patient and kind. And don't even get me started on how much room I have to grow with those two...but the next one (I haven't listened to it yet) is on the third; do not envy.

This morning as I was reading my Bible God really convicted me of something: Not focusing on the pennies. Let me explain.

I found that in my life, especially here at Duke, it is incredibly easy to focus on what others have and I lack--whether it be possessions, success, beauty, character, drive, popularity, relationships, purpose...you name it. But God helped me realize something this morning: Apart from any gifts on this earth (physical, monetary, relational, etc...) God has given us the only truly infinite gift--Life forever, with Him.

So, God gave us infinity "dollars." Maybe He gave some infinity dollars plus 9 pennies and me infinity dollars plus 6 pennies and others infinity dollars plus 0 pennies. BUT, WHY ON EARTH WOULD WE FOCUS ON THE PENNIES?

This may sound simple, but for some reason, its what my simple mind needed to grasp this morning. There will always be things that others have that I don't. And I have been blessed with far more than some will ever have. But all of these things pale in comparison with that which is worth far more than silver and gold. Far more than beauty and riches.

"Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ." Philippians 3:8

So let us never focus on the pennies and lose sight of that which has infinitely more value.



As the season of wedding progresses...

Adam and I have been starting to brainstorm about some things that we might like to register for. Buuuuut, there is so much out there and its almost impossible to know where to start. So consider this our classified section:

Ideas. What is your ultimate couldn't-live-without-it item that you either
1.) Registered for when you got married
2.) Bought for yourself because it was so necessary
3.) Wish you'd registered for because you realize how much you need/want one now.
4.) Really want to have some day!!
Also, is there anything you registered for/have that you never use or don't really like?? (Is this a sore subject?)

What are some things that you have found you use way more than you thought? What should every couple have in their kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, home, etc??

In return, here are a few of my favorite kitchen items that I have. My kitchen is my happy place. These are some of the things that make it so happy...

THIS spoon that used to live at Kappa Delta. I loved it so much I used to hide it in the kitchen so I could always use it. Then I adopted it. Whoops.

These onion goggles. That's right. I have unusually sensitive eyes to onions. So one of my best friends, Corrine, got these for me!

These Hug Mugs are my roommates and I love them. They have no handles, instead you wrap your hands around them. Like a hug. And they keep your hands warm. :)

These adorable oven mits that my dear friend Ashley gave to me.

This hilarious picture of a dog that is on our fridge. It cracked me up. So naturally I had to cut it out and display it. He still has no name. Suggestions?

All the dove chocolate quotes that get posted on our fridge.

My pretty Rwandan basket that Sister gave to me. My produce lives in it.

The cookbook collection!! Duh.

My ginger yogi tea that "improves digestion." Takes me back to ginger tea breaks in Rwanda. Every day.

This Irish blessing that my mom sent me once in a care package. We're Irish so I love it. Now it hangs above the stove.

These precious Anthropologie measuring spoons that Brotherkind gave me for college graduation.

One of my two favorite candles (someone recently made fun of me for having "favorite candles"...but is that unusual? I don't think so. Anyway...) My sister gave me this one for Christmas. I burn it in every room. It makes my apartment smell like Anthropologie which is in a word, ideal.

And last
But certainly not


My FROGGY bag clips. These are quite likely my FAVORITE kitchen accessory. My mom got them for me at BB&B when I moved into this apartment. And everyday, when I open my drawer, or cabinet, or freezer, I see their happy little faces smiling at me.
"Life is good" they're saying.
It is good isn't it little froggies?

Ok, now that I shared these I expect some ideas/advice/wisdom from all of y'all about (other) essentials. Thanks!


An Elegant Spirit

There are few people who made such a significant impact on history that we all take a day off to remember their death. We just celebrated MLK day on Monday. And rightly so.

But there is someone else who I like to remember--even if I don't get a day off of school and the banks/post offices don't close. She has been a beautiful picture to me of what it means to be an elegant spirit. If I admitted to having idols I would call her that. But I'd rather just call her my favorite person to emulate. And she died on January 20, 1993. Happy Audrey Day folks!

I gained a fascination for Audrey Hepburn as a young girl and have been captivated by her ever since. She wasn't perfect. But she knew how to love others, how to be poised, how to have fun, how to try new things that she wasn't sure about, how to take risks, how to make other people feel important, how to be humble, and how to be LOVELY, inside and out.

She made the little black dress what it is. (The original LBD was designed for her)

She wore pearls.
She loved family.
She looked THIS cute pushing her son around, barefoot.

She loved smiling and laughing.

After her acting career ended she worked with UNICEF for many years, reflecting her enormous heart for children.

She didn't have the most cookie cutter life either. She was born in Brussels but then moved to the Netherlands where she lived through German occupation during WWII. She was abandoned by her father who was a Nazi advocate. She lived through two difficult marriages with a less-than-faithful husbands. She lost many children before finally giving birth to her two sons, Sean and Luca.

I admit it. I try to be like her. I try to dress like her, carry myself like her, smile like her (impossible), treat people like she did. My house is decorated with her. And my bookshelf is full of books about her (I've got it bad).
So for the sake of not over do-ing it, but in case I sparked an interest, I will leave you with a few things:

-If you are only going to see one Audrey film see: Sabrina (and also My Fair Lady)
-If you are going to read about Audrey read: An Elegant Spirit written by her son Sean (And also 5th Ave, 5 AM)
-If you want a glimpse into her spirit read this quote:
"For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you'll never walk alone.

I hope that this post inspired you a little.

And again I say, Happy Audrey Day.
Glam. Pure Glam.

There are not words for this preciousness.


DIY Bridesmaid Cards

These are the cards I made for my bridesmaids to ask them if they’d be in our wedding. I got the inspiration off of a blog I found on Wedding Gawker (refer to “Gawking” blog). I had so much fun making them and I loved getting to think about each person as I built them out of paper, designed their hair and decided whether it should be yellow or brown (which didn’t really fit many of my maids very accurately), wrote them a note, and sent them off to five different states.

As Adam and I decided who to have in the wedding party we were, once again, blown away by the way God has given us the gift of great friends in our lives.

Especially when they end up being the person we marry…


Life With A Strange Diet

In my last post I noted that most people that know me know about: 1.)My food fettish 2.) My obsession with "local food", and 3.)my wonderful fiance Adam.

Well, my fiance is still wonderful (and is currently at his first day of his new job!) and on the local food front, I'm excited for another trip to the incredible Raleigh Farmer's Market on Saturday! But this post is about #1, namely, my food fettish. I love to cook and I love to eat. But most people that know me also know that I have a VERY complicated relationship with food.

Ever since I was a little girl I have had horrible stomach/digestion/everything issues. And as a result, I had to cut all grains from my diet. Ugh. So my diet resembles a gluten-free diet, except worse. Because I can't eat any of the gluten free grains either (oats, corn, etc.) Just 4 months ago I experimented with adding rice (which is also gluten-free) into my diet in small amounts and so far so good...Now, I know that this sounds miserable, and at times, it is. But I've got to tell you, if you know how to work it, you can still eat well. Really well. Trust me. I've been doing it for quite awhile.

I know that a lot of folks have similar issues so I'm going to share some of my favorite insights and foods that are safe and delicious (even if you don't have issues...):

1.)Edamame Crackers from Trader Joe's. I love edamame. And now TJ makes crackers out of it. The glory.
2. Bob's Red Mill Flours: I like to use the rice flour for baking purposes and the garbanzo bean flour for any kind of sauces or, homemade waffles. Soon I'm going to try to use potato flour to make homemade pasta. I'll let you know how it goes.

3. When other people eat sandwiches, I just take turkey and cheese, etc and roll it in a piece of lettuce. A lot of places will do this for you too. They may give you a funny look, but they'll do it. Red Robin (Mmm) even does it for their burgers!

4. I can eat potatoes. Which means sweet potatoes all I want. Thank Jesus. They give me my carb fix.

5. Hard cider is a great substitute for beer. Usually it's either apple or pear. It's delicious.

6. Eating lots of green veggies gives you the fiber that you are missing from some of the whole grains. Edamame, as mentioned above, has lots of fiber and protein. Brussel sprouts, broccoli, Black beans (especially with eggs for breakfast) are also good.

7. I know I've mentioned these before but LARABARS are amazing. All that's in them is fruit, nuts, and sometimes something like cinnamon or ginger. No added sugar, no added anything. I buy them in bulk at Costco. But you can get them at most grocery stores. But, hint: stores like Whole Foods (a fave) sells them for much cheaper than say, a Kroger, because their customer base has a higher demand for them. Don't ever pay more than $1-1.25 for them!! These are my three favorite flavors: PB&J, Carrot Cake, and Ginger Snap

8. Making salads is almost always a safe bet. I usually just make my own dressings because gluten free dressing is usually really pricy. And, homemade dressing is just better!

9. Ice Cream and Sorbet are one of the best bets for dessert. Also chocolate. How convenient.

10. If you love Italian food like I do, but have "issues" try risotto. It's an amazing Italian rice dish and, if made right, if changes your world. This was one of my favorite things in Italy. Mmm. Also, you can buy rice pasta which, when you add sauce, tastes pretty much the same. But if its a real good meat sauce you don't even need pasta! I just eat it like soup.

So if you ever see me at a party or dinner and it looks like I am one of those folks who can't eat in public or something (?), you can bet that I either ate a good grain-free meal before, or, more likely, have yummy (safe) snacks in my purse. Or pocket. Or both. :) I love food.

Now, don't you see? Life as a grainless girl doesn't have to be miserable. Does anyone else have favorite foods that are friendly for people like me and many others I know? Or favorite recipes?


Daily Bread

A few months ago a friend of mine, Marcy, wrote a blog about saving things for the perfect opportunity rather than just living in moment and enjoying some of them before it's too late. And I loved it. It was brilliant and inspired me not to be so stingy about things and just enjoy them. So tonight, in an attempt to live that out a little bit, I decided that instead of saving my Christmas money from my dearest Grandmom (which I do for every birthday and every Christmas) I was going to take it and do something special with it. Something that I could remember and thank her for. So...

There's this restaurant in town called Watts Grocery. If you know me you know about: 1.)My food fettish 2.) My obsession with "local food", and 3.)my wonderful fiance Adam. Watts is an amazing restaurant that uses ingredients from local farmers and has incredibly unique seasonal menus. I'd never tried it. Until now.

In the spirit of celebrating the start of a new semester tomorrow, but, much more importantly the fact that Adam got a job in Durham today(!)we went on a date. A real, reservation, dress nice, feel kinda nervous and giddy, date. We never do this. Our "dates" usually include concerts, sailing, cooking, sporting events, (all awesome and so us) but we don't really do restaurants. So this was special. Thanks Grandmom. I loved several aspects of this night:

1.) Adam picked out what I was going to wear. And, it made me laugh because of all the things in my closet he picked this old purple and green $15 cotton dress from my freshmen year of high school. He was looking through my closet, found it, started dancing around the room with it grinning from ear to ear. I watched him and in true "that old thing?" fashion I called him crazy. But then I put it on. He loved it. It reminded me how easy he is to please and how when he came over at 6:00 and I was STILL in my PJs (it was a snow day, ok?), he probably thought I looked just as nice in those as in a dress.

2.) We shared amazing food and made sure to have conversations about the animals we (he) were eating. He had this wonderful lamb meatloaf with farro.

I had lentil cakes on whipped sweet potatoes (my word. these were amazing!)

Of course we shared a flourless chocolate cake for dessert. Mmm.

3.) I was reminded once again that Adam and I are the CLUMSIEST couple in the world. As I was telling a story over dinner my hands and arms were kinda flying (Italiano stlye...Mamma mia!) and not only did I knock over my red wine, but I broke the glass. Everyone looked. Everyone sighed. That poooor thing. Well, that's par for the course with us. Case and point: We are so clumsy that last month when we were staying at our friends, the Wootens, house in Charlottesville we were drinking wine and I insisted that we drink it out of juice cups because I knew that one of us would break one of their wine glasses. Adam refused. We used the glasses and had no accidents. Miracle, I tell you.

4.) No night would be complete without at least 10 minutes of conversation about Audrey which tonight focused on her amazing ability to be such a free spirit and yet so poised and classy. And to make EVERYONE that came into contact with her fall.in.love. Like me. Adam also (almost) agreed that I could name our (future) dog after her. Progress people, progress.

5.) I love when we are thanking God for our food at a restaurant and Adam ends up saying a 10 minute prayer over dinner because everything in his grateful heart just starts spilling out. Even when the smell of the food is filling my nose and people are probably looking at us strange, I thank God in my heart for a (future) husband who is so aware of God's provision in our lives. He reminds me of it constantly.

Thank you God for this education. Thank you for finding Adam a job. Thank you for this new town we are exploring together. Thank you for our daily bread.

Please keep our hearts always grateful.


Before It’s No Longer

Elise Leighann Jordan. This is my name. But not forever.

However, my mother, knowing how much I love to write letters, bought me a big set of stationary with my name printed beautifully on it for Christmas. Score.

But, it occurred to me as I opened the gift that I won't actually be Elise Leighann Jordan for too much longer. So this lovely Christmas gift has now become a challenge for me: use it all before it’s no longer my name. This means I’ll have to write several letters a week. Including the two months I’m in Nepal. Which means I’ll probably have to make up for them before I leave.

I’m excited. I have always been a letter writer but since I started graduate school, I’ve been slower at getting them out. So here is the kick in the butt I needed to get me writing letters regularly once again. I once learned that Princess Diana wrote letters and thank-yous each night to all the people she spent time with that day. Now THAT is commitment to the written word. I may not write several a night. But I am going to write several a week...
Despite the fact that these are the yuckiest envelopes to lick I've ever had.

If I don’t have your address, send it to me and I’ll send you a letter! If I do, you might just get one sometime soon. :)

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