The Book Review You Didn’t Ask For

“Choose a book,” they said.  “We’ll send it to you in exchange for a review.”InHerKitchen

So I said, “Sign me up!”

There was fiction and non-fiction to choose from.  There were books on better living, entertaining, crafting and faith-ing.  But I chose the book with the cute grandma on the cover.  I could tell she was no ordinary grandma (as if there is such a thing).  No, this grandma was both darling and daring.  She’s also from Zanzibar, an island she has always called home.  With all her ingredients laid out on a mat in front of her and a mysterious smile, she is ready to cook her favorite dish.

This sweet book, In Her Kitchen by Gabriele Galimberti, is filled with stories of grandmas from around the world, each preparing their favorite (and sometimes famous) meal.  The photos are colorful and capture the personality of the women and their country – a little snapshot of her story.  Each story includes the recipe as well.

Things I loved: The grandmas are so beautiful and wise and you get to step into each home for a moment and take a look into their life.  I loved the recipes from near and far and will definitely be making the Ratatouille from France and the Tiramisu alla Toscana from Italy.  However, I’ll pass on making Honduran Iguana with Rice and Beans.  I appreciated that the author, Gabriele Galimberti, didn’t set out to make this book – instead, like most great adventures, he stumbled into it.

Things I didn’t love: I would have liked to know a little more about each grandma instead of the brief paragraph given.  I also would have liked to see them in action – cooking, laughing, talking and tasting.  Instead, each photo is set up the same with all the ingredients perfectly placed before the camera as if they all lined up for the picture to say “cheese!”  I think this is just the photographer’s personal style as his own photo on the back cover reflects this structure.

Here’s what it comes down to:  If you like travel, stories, cooking, and cute grandmas then you’ll love this simple, yet enchanting and visually appealing book.  If you don’t like travel, stories, cooking and cute grandmas, then I’m not sure why we’re still friends.  (Just kidding!)

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Recipe for Cambodian Lok Lak.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Will you look up?

When my best friend and I were Juniors in high school we went on a school “field trip” to France.  The school required chaperones, which meant our moms got to come as well.  I call it a field trip, but calling a grand adventure such is nearly insulting.  I’ll call it our French Adventure instead.

Back home at school our teacher had told us to blend in by wearing nice clothes.  Jeans and tennis shoes were to be left at home as this would make us stand out as Americans.  Walking in a row 18 people long down the streets of France with cameras out, however, was acceptable.  And so, my best friend and I brilliantly bought matching outfits to blend in.  Our favorite outfit was black and white printed capris with little knit berets.  Seriously.  We totally blended in.

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Yes, we walked down the Eiffel Tower barefoot. Is there any other way?

 

In the midst of this two week French Adventure, we found ourselves in the most perfectly charming city overlooking the water around every cobblestoned bend.  High stoned walled kept the ocean on one side and the town on the other.  I can’t remember the name of this most perfect French town, but I do remember what happened here.Picture this.  You are walking together, the four of you, breathing in the city’s evening sounds as the sun is slowly deciding to set.  It’s not crowded, so you’re not worried about hanging onto your purse or watching where you’re going.  You are simply meandering, winding down streets of cobblestone.  Small buildings line the quiet street, some are shops, some are restaurants and a few others are homes.

Suddenly, you see something on the ground just a short distance ahead of you and your little group.  In your excitement, you point to it and yell, “Look up!”

Because you’re still excitedly pointing down at this mysterious object, you don’t understand why everyone is looking up.  Now everyone is just paces away from this object.  So, again, you point to the ground and shout with fervor, “Look up!”

Everyone continues to look up searching for what mystifying piece of historic scenery you are trying to point out.  It doesn’t occur to you that you meant to say “Look out” until your mom, who is focused on looking up, walks right into a pile of French doggie poo.

Oops.

Years later, my friend would use this little story as a word of advice.  On a Christmas card to me she wrote,

“I was thinking about our trip to France, and I discovered something profound.  As we walked along the cobblestone streets filled with poo you cried “Look up!”  I think you had discovered a universal truth: The road of life is full of sh… poop, and the best thing to do is to look up and just enjoy the beauty around us.  My wish for you this year is that you ignore the shit and enjoy all the wonderful things.”
I still have this Christmas card – it’s kind of a treasure.
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Clearly we were awesome.

Then today, I thought of this story again.  I was driving home from work and was blown away by the sunset.  Not just the sunset, but the skies themselves.  It was like standing inside a snow globe of sunset surrounded by a sky so vast you had to turn in circles just to see it all.  I had to pull over and take a picture (or ten) it was that breathtaking.  I don’t know what your sunsets are like, but in my opinion Colorado has the biggest skies.  This means miles of sky for your viewing pleasure, and a perfect canvas for sunsets.  But you will only see it if you look up.

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So often my eyes are glued to a computer screen, my phone, my desires, and my worries.  What if my eyes were more often drawn to the sky?  What if I sought His face over the bustling pace of life?  What if we all did?  What if we all trained ourselves to look up a little longer and a little more often?  What if we looked up?What if … two little words charged with potential.

Look up … two innocent words drenched with invitation.

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Every day we’re given invitations to stop what we’re doing and look up.  Moments of beauty given just for us.  Take a moment to breathe in the moments of peace.  Feel the sun warm your skin and the breeze on your face, don’t just take note of it on the run.  It’s a calling.
He will not force you to rest and look up.  But he’ll always be there waiting.
Will you look up?

 

An Adventurer’s Heart

2323761_origAn adventurer’s heart.  It’s a dangerously exciting place.  One that loves to try new things, meet new people and go to faraway places.  Over the past few weeks I rode in a tuk tuk, ate shrimp with eyeballs, slept on an island, and met people that changed my life forever.  People who love fearlessly, live boldly, and trust unwaveringly.  Their faith and belief is so simple and so powerful.  They have overcome obstacles bigger than most people can fathom and have walked down roads much rougher than most will ever experience.  They may not have as many things as the world thinks they should have, but that doesn’t matter.  I looked into their beautiful faces full of joy and saw a freedom that I’ve only tasted.

I find that I am envious of them and their ability to walk in the Kingdom of God here on earth with such clarity.  One of my favorite authors writes that if you could just peel back the skin of this world, you could see and walk in the Kingdom of God.  The world we visibly see is far less real than the world just beyond, but so few of us access what is ours to engage with as God’s children.  However, while in Cambodia, I caught a glimpse of this, and I loved what I saw and I didn’t want to leave.

Perhaps we don’t desire the kingdom enough.  Like the pearl of great price, we must long for it above all else.  Like C.S. Lewis said, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Adventure doesn’t start when you visit a new place.  Adventure begins when you allow God to open up the eyes of your heart to His Kingdom.

I wish I could share every detail with you about my trip to Cambodia, but here are some of my favorite memories.

Baptism

18 new believers experienced water baptism at the coast!

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Our sleepover at the island was complete with songs around the campfire, dinner under the stars and manicures by lamplight. What an honor to be welcomed as family!

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Tears and forgiveness flowed freely for all as we washed the feet of our precious friends at Sak Saum.

 

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So blessed to make lifelong friends.

 

Tuk Tuks and Vintage Maps

4448034If we don’t offer ourselves to the unknown, our senses dull. Our world becomes small and we lose our sense of wonder. Our eyes don’t lift to the horizon; our ears don’t hear the sounds around us. The edge is off our experience, and we pass our days in a routine that is both comfortable and limiting. We wake up one day and find that we have lost our dreams in order to protect our days. This is why we travel. – S. Ward Harrison

I am so excited to share with you that I will be travelling to Cambodia this January with my church.  I’m passionate about empowering women and girls, which is why I’m looking forward to working with the women and girls of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

We will be going to work with In His Steps International (IHSI) and Sak Saum, which is a ministry of IHSI that offers rescue, rehabilitation and restoration to vulnerable and exploited women who have experienced firsthand the devastation of trafficking.  Right now, there are 100 million missing women in the world.  Most of them are from third world countries like Cambodia.

I am thrilled to travel to Cambodia with such a wonderful team and I know that this will be a very special trip.  Thank you in advance for partnering with me as I embark on this adventure of missions!