Saturday, June 29, 2013

4th of July: Strawberry Crisp

4th of July is coming up soon!

Growing up in Czech, I haven't been to many 4th of July celebrations. I remember eating watermelon and ice cream at English Camps when I was little, alongside Czechs and Americans. The first real Independence day celebration in the States that I remember was only four years ago.

Although I haven't celebrated this day much through the years, it's still an important day for all of us Americans! And so, I make crisp. Red, white and blue, in the spirit of the holiday. I don't know what else we will do this year on the 4th, but I think this crisp will be on the menu!

I adapted this recipe from The Pioneer Woman's Peach Crisp recipe. The peach version tastes amazing too, but this one just looks more festive, right?

To make the strawberry filling:

Hull and slice strawberries. Sprinkle them with a few teaspoons of sugar (depending on how big your crisp is...enough to coat the strawberries lightly). Optional: squeeze half a lemon onto the strawberries, or add some cinnamon or nutmeg. 

As for the topping:

I used a gluten-free flour, and reduced it by a 1/3 cup. I added 1/2 (or more) of gluten-free rolled oats. I love the texture of oats in a crisp!

 I also reduced both sugars by half (you could also use just the brown sugar, and leave out the white sugar completely).

Bake until the filling starts to bubble, and the topping turns golden brown. Cool for 15 minutes, and serve with ice-cream, whipped-cream, or all by itself! I personally don't eat anything with milk, because I'm intolerant, but I don't think it needed it anyway. The strawberries are sweet, and warm. Divine.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Editing with Photoshop

I am finally getting to try out editing photos in Photoshop! It's fun seeing photos come alive in a different style than before. Photoshop is a powerful tool!

I have soooooo much to learn. I'm a beginner at this. But for now, I'll share just a few photos with you that I edited today.

These are from my walk with Kaylee this afternoon. The weather didn't look too inviting, but it was actually a wonderful stroll.

Question of the day: 

Does anybody know any really good Photoshop tips or tutorials? What's your favorite photo editing software? 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Last Fusion event

Today was the last Fusion event of the year; the last Fusion event that I will be at for a long time.

It was sad, and happy at the same time, sitting outside in Boza's (our Fusion leader) yard, roasting hotdogs and peppers (yes, peppers!). We laughed, we talked, we ate. It was a chilly evening, but so worth it. I am so thankful to know these great people!

Someone burned their marshmallow. He ate it anyway!

Fusion-- I will miss you!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Meanwhile, in Kaylee's world

She's constantly present, and must be near someone all day. She's spunky, as always, and sweet as could be.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Homemade Vanilla Extract

My mom laughs at me every time I ask her to pick up some more vodka at the store. It's always for vanilla extract, I promise! It just sounds funny coming out of my mouth when I ask for it.

 We can't buy vanilla extract here easily, and importing it is a hassle. Two Christmas' ago, I found a guide to making my own. I told my mom about it, and she was all sneaky, and wrapped up a bottle of vodka for Christmas (along with some vanilla beans), to my complete surprise. Oh, the laughs we had about that one! This sums up my reaction...  

That was a completely unexpected gift! (Well done, Mom!) Really though, homemade vanilla extract is fabulous, and so simple. I've been making it ever since that Christmas!

Things you need:

1 cup vodka
5 Vanilla beans

Split the vanilla bean pods lengthwise. Put vanilla beans into a (glass) bottle with vodka. Wait at least 2 months. Shake the bottle gently a couple times during those 2 months.'re done! Vanilla extract!

(The bottle on the right is a "work in progress". I just started that one a week ago, which is why it's still light-colored.)

Here's another simple guide with nice pictures: click HERE.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Little treasures

56 days left until I fly from Europe to the States for college.

In some ways, that seems like a long ways off, but at other times, it seems really soon. I know it's going to be hard to leave Czech, but I'm also really looking forward to what's ahead. Bittersweet, as is said.

I found out earlier this week that I will be living in Smith Hall at Moody, and I now also know who my roommate will be! We have e-mailed a bit already, and she seems really sweet. Can't wait to meet her, and so many other people at Moody.

I'm already getting ready for the move. We filled out my last Moody forms earlier this week, and we bought something that will make my time at school a lot sweeter.

This honey makes me so happy. I am very particular about my honey, but these ones are perfect! We went to the Farmer's market yesterday, and bought enough honey to last me for a while at Moody. I'll be bringing some for my brothers too!

These days are restful, warm, and good. Home, for a while longer.

P.S. Can you see my reflection in these pictures? Ha! Just noticed that!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Soak it all in

I babysat the Stephens kids today. I so loved spending the evening with them!

Being with those kids reminded me of growing up here in Czech when I was little. We walked to the ice cream shop together, just like I used to where I lived. They all got so excited. Seeing kids be so happy brings a smile to my face any day. 

We laughed, (they) got messy, Cece twirled around lampposts (spontaneously!), we read books, and enjoyed the Summer evening.

It's not much, but it's happiness. These are memories I don't want to forget.

And just for memory's sake... This used to be my favorite popsicle.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pink Summer Smoothie

A cool breeze, warm sunshine, peonies picked from the garden, and pink smoothies:


Pink Summer Berry Smoothie (gluten-free, dairy-free, coconut-free!)

1 cup frozen strawberries
1 very ripe banana
1 handful of blueberries
3 tbsp oats
1 1/2 cups almond milk
1/4-1/2 cup water, as needed
2 tsp honey, optional
3 ice cubes

Place all ingredients in a high-powered blender, and blend until smooth! Voila!

This is just what I needed for an "it's-almost-officially-Summer" kind of day. Ahh...sip, sigh, and soak it all in.

Spring Smoothie: HERE.
Fall Smoothie: HERE.

Looks like I need to make a Winter smoothie some day!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Road Trip: Italy

Here are some last snapshots from our road trip last week.

We only spent an evening and morning in Florence, and a day and half in Rome, but it was enough to get the feel for the two places. The food tasted amazing, tourists were everywhere, local musicians played on street corners, Hayley and I laughed ourselves silly as our feet ached from walking, and my camera kept snapping memories.

Florence was lovely. The old bridge-- totally the coolest thing! Charming. 

The Vatican. We were there on a Sunday, so guess who we saw?

Yep, the Pope! We stood in line for an hour and a half to get into St. Peter's, but because the Pope had a speech from his window at 12:00, we ended up not going anywhere. The square was packed!!

We had fun through it all, and though we could only see the Pope from very far away, we can still say that we saw him! After he finished his speech, the line for the church still didn't budge. We stood for another 20 minutes or so, before I started feeling claustrophobic a little overwhelmed, so we stepped out of line, and just went for lunch. I needed to breath (and eat!). Oh well, St. Peter's-- I hope I'll get see you someday!


This was the BEST coffee I have ever had. With no soy milk available, I had to have an Americano if I wanted coffee at my dad's favorite coffee place in Rome. I'm usually not much of a black coffee drinker, but this, this was an exception. So so good!

Here is the last picture taken on our trip. It completely summarizes everything, I think. We were tired, but it was all so worth it. These memories are priceless.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, again, for the gift of this trip!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dad, you are amazing.

Today was one of the most memorable Father's Days ever.

For one, my dad was home! Often he's in the States at this time of the year. Actually, he leaves to the States for a board meeting tomorrow, but he was here today. I am thankful for that!

Secondly, I am the only kid at home now. That's a first for a Father's Day! We made the best of it!

It's strange to celebrate without my brothers, but we figured something else out that made it memorable for sure: FaceTime.

After coming home from church (we have services in the afternoon), we took some pictures together, laughed a lot, ate a wonderful dinner on the patio, and... kept our phones close.

We kept our phones close, because at 8, my mom and I had planned with my brothers for them to FaceTime us. We surprised my dad, and got to have the whole family together on a Sunday evening! Even though we were just holding the phones out and talking, and even though it kept cutting out, it felt like the real thing. It felt good to be "together" as a family for an evening. 

Caleb is at Gull Lake this Summer (Haley's working there too!), and Tyler and Lara are on the other side of Czech, serving with Josiah Venture as Summer interns. We all have Internet though, and that's enough to bring us together!

My dad. He is amazing. I can't thank him enough for all that he has done and given to me these past 18 years. Especially in these last few years, as I have gotten older, he has intentionally taken the time to invest in our relationship. He takes me out for lunch, he asks me how I'm doing, he notices little details about me, like a new dress, or even painted nails!

Most importantly, Dad teaches me Truth from the Bible, points me to God's love, and always brings things back to the Father-- our Heavenly Father. That right there is probably the thing I value most about my dad. He knows that what he gives to me, he can only give because he is loved by his Father. He is humble, and knows that his imperfections point to our perfect Father. He reminds me to look to Him for everything. That is the greatest gift my dad could give me.

Thank you Dad, for everything. You are one of a kind!! I love you.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Fusion Summer concert

I had my last Fusion concert yesterday. *sniff*

The setting of the concert was perfect. We had the privilege of performing at the newly built amphitheater at Malenovice, near the cabins. Parents, friends, and towns people sat on the lawn as we sang, played, and danced. Hamburgers were grilling, drinks were being served, lights twinkled in the trees, and (I think!) people enjoyed themselves. What a beautiful place to have a concert!

It's sad to think about not doing any more concerts with our Fusion. Fusion will continue in the Fall, but I won't be here anymore (I'm off to Chicago!). Who knows, maybe I'll return some day, but no matter what, it will be different. I am incredibly thankful for these past two years. I hope, and pray, that they will continue to grow and make an impact wherever they go.

Here is a video from the concert. Actually, all the songs are up on YouTube, if you'd like to watch them! We are not a professional choir, but we love singing, learning, and having fun!

Fusion-- I will miss you all!!

*Mom, thanks for taking these pictures! See her blog post about the concert HERE.