Thursday, September 29, 2011

Aunt Barbara's Famous Chicken Enchiladas

I have had writer's block for the past week or so... I never thought it would be so hard to write a blog about my life. When I was in Copenhagen I think it was easier...I'm not sure why. Maybe because I was also traveling and taking classes? Either way, I have been racking my brain trying to decide what to blog about! (And in my spare time watching copious amounts of Mad Men! A seriously amazing show...) I finally have a few blog posts in mind, so hopefully I will be writing more frequently.

I made my Aunt Barbara's Famous Chicken Enchiladas. I added the famous to the name. I've made them for a couple of different groups of people and everyone seems to love them! I know I certainty love to make them! I will include the recipe down below for anyone who wants to try them out!! I made them because we had a special dinner last tonight. One of my housemates is leaving us! :( Stephanie was here last year living in Chicago, and she was able to stay in the house until her new job started. Well, her new job starts in a few weeks and so she is going to go home for a little while before heading off to William & Mary (I believe) where she is going to be in charge of something...organizing college volunteers, I believe. Anyways, last night was her last night here. It was definitely a bittersweet moment saying goodbye to her! I am sad that she is not going to be a part of our community here in Chicago but I am also excited for her to start her new journey. 

After dinner we watched Saved. For anyone who hasn't seen the movie, I copied and pasted a summary from for you to read over. If you just click here, it will take you to the imdb (Internet Movie Database) site.

Mary is a good Christian girl who goes to a good Christian high school where she has good Christian friends, mainly Hilary Faye, and a perfect Christian boyfriend, Dean. Her life seems perfect, until the day that she finds out that Dean may be gay. After "seeing" a vision of Jesus in a pool, she does everything in her power to help him turn straight, including offering up her virginity. But none of it helps because Dean's caught and sent to a "degayification" center and Mary ends up pregnant. It's during her time of need that she becomes real friends with the school's set of "misfits," including Cassandra, the school's only Jewish girl; Roland, Hilary Faye's wheelchair-bound brother, and Patrick, the skateboarder son of the school's principal, Pastor Skip; whilst Hilary Faye turns her into a social outcast.

Anyways, the movie was a lot of fun and it was great to have one last community gathering before Stephanie left! I highly recommend renting and watching the film. Today was my first day at the 26th Street Location for PAWS. I will be splitting my time between the 2 different PAWS locations on Thursday and Friday. I had a really good day there and will try to blog about it tomorrow. I hope you all had a wonderful day!

Aunt Barbara's (Famous) Chicken Enchiladas
2 lbs. chicken
4 T. butter
1 large onion
1 lb. chopped spinach
3 c. sour cream
(2) 4 oz. cans chopped green chilies
1 t. ground cumin
¼ c. milk
salt to taste
10-12 flour tortillas
8 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, grated
Poach chicken, cool, then shred into small pieces
Melt butter and sauté onion for 5 minutes
Pre-heat oven to 350, butter large baking dish (13x9)
Steam spinach (I just microwave it), reserve ½ c. of liquid
Combine onion, spinach/liquid, sour cream, chiles, cumin and milk.
Add ½ of the spinach mixture to the chicken, mix well
Fill tortillas with spinach/chicken, place seam side down in baking dish
Cover tortillas with ½ of the grated cheese, then remaining spinach mixture, then top with remaining cheese
Bake until heated throughout and lightly brown (approx. 30 minutes)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

More Info about PAWS and the Zoo!!!

I am so excited about this year at PAWS. I had my first 2 days of actual work there on Thursday and Friday. And now that I've had more time to get everything sorted out, I now have somewhat of an idea as to what my duties will be at PAWS.

First off, I am a Level 1 Volunteer in Dog Town and Kitty City. I really want to be at least a Level 2 by the time I am done...which I don't think will be very hard to accomplish. After serving 36 volunteer hours, you are able to take Level 2 training classes. I've already spent 16 hours in Kitty City just the past 2 days, so I think I will get to 36 hours in no time! They have different levels of volunteers because there are some cats and dogs that are more challenging than others. I don't think there can be a Level 3 Volunteer in Kitty City... Anyways! As a Level 1 volunteer, I have a variety of duties. Since I work 8 hours a day, my mornings are usually taken up by cleaning the different cat rooms. The rooms are ridiculously clean, but it is that atmosphere that helps get so many pets adopted! If it smelt terrible and there were stains everywhere, people wouldn't come into the center. I don't mind cleaning the rooms. It is almost like a race against the clock! We have to be ready to open the doors to the public at noon and often PAWS doesn't get weekday morning volunteers. That means it is up to me and the Vet Tech (the one I've been working with is Erin and she is amazingly nice!) to clean all 9 rooms. Some of them are really big! After we clean the rooms, we just have to socialize with the cats. Some of them are really scared because they are confused, so we just help make them feel more comfortable so people will want to adopt them. Finally, we help people who come into the center to adopt a pet! In order for people to go into the pet rooms, they have to take a survey and once they have that survey we (being the volunteers) take them into the specific cat/dog room and let them interact with the animals. On Friday I helped 4 cats get adopted and it was awesome! I haven't actually volunteered at all in Dog Town, mostly because Kitty City gets fewer volunteers and I want to make sure the help is evenly distributed. But mostly the responsibilities are the same, except you also have to walk the dogs.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Book Sales and First Day of Sunday School!

I went a little overboard this weekend at book sales. I got 21 books this weekend. Whoops! BUT I only spent $8!! I don't really know when I am going to have the time to read 21 books, but they were such good deals and I really want to read all of them!

On Friday afternoon 2 of my roommates (Erin and Stephanie) and I went to the Brown Elephant which is a thrift store. They have a huge book selection and each book is only $0.50! (I can't seem to find the cents symbol anywhere...) So I got 6 books there, for a grand total of $3! Which would normally be a mighty fine deal, but then we went to a "$5 Bag of Books" book sale on Saturday at After-words. I was talking to the owner of After-words (I love when I get to say that because I really enjoy small, privately owned bookstores!!) and she explained the logic of the $5 bag of books. When the store buys books  from customers, sometimes they end up with books they don't want/books that were donated. The owner decided a few years ago that they should hold a book sale to benefit charity. So they charge $5 and let you go downstairs into the basement and fill up a bag of books! I went on Saturday with a couple of my housemates and came back with 15 books! I got a bunch of fiction books, but I also picked up some random business books and sociology books. Random, I know!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

First Day (Sort of) at PAWS

Well I had my orientation today at PAWS! It only lasted for 2 hours, and didn't really give me any insight into what I will be doing this year. :/ I had a good time at the orientation, but it is a little upsetting that I still don't know anything. I am going to more training on Tuesday and Wednesday night so maybe then I will have more of an idea. The problem is that there are so many areas that I could volunteer in, but my supervisor has been on vacation (or at least the person I think is my supervisor) and so I have no idea what direction I am going to be going in... Frustrating to say the least!

I don't really have much else to blog about....I just felt compelled to blog about my first day at PAWS. Hopefully I will have more exciting stories in a few weeks! The area around PAWS is really nice! If I stay in Chicago after this year, I definitely wouldn't mind living there. It's in Lincoln Park and there are a ton of shops in the area that I would love to spend hours wandering around in! And there is a Crate & Barrel outlet store near by as well. I'll probably pop in there at least one or two times this year. Not that I'll be able to afford anything...or have a place to put anything...but I still like to wander around and look at all the deals! My house actually does need a crock pot. I think it is a little insane that we don't have one. They are the perfect tool for cold weather cooking! Not that Crate & Barrel sells crock pots, or that I would buy one there.....

Tonight we are going to dinner with some other people in Chicago who are also living in an intentional community. Matt Black was one of the YAV Alumni that was at orientation and the placement event. And (from what I've been told) he lives in a community of other Christian people and they want to live simply. Which sounds pretty cool to me! Kiva (one of the other girls in the house and my roommate) is working with 2 girls that are basically doing the Catholic version of the Young Adult Volunteer program and I think we are going to invite them over for dinner soon. It will be nice to expand our group and get to know more people. :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First Day at Fourth Presbyterian Church

I had my first day of work at Fourth Presbyterian Church yesterday! The church is huge and has so many people on staff! I didn’t know until today that Fourth Pres is the 2nd largest Presbyterian Church (USA) in the US. That’s pretty amazing! The church building is beautiful and covered in ivy right now. They just broke ground this summer on a new building for Sunday School classes and offices, among other things, so we are kind of scattered among a few different buildings. For instance, my office is in the mance, but on Sundays we will meet on the 19th floor of one of the office buildings nearby. 

I am working with the “Elevation” group (6th and 7th graders) on Sunday mornings and whenever they have retreats/lock-ins and fellowship. I am pretty much planning everything for the year, but I have some templates to start with. And I have Sunday School curriculum to use as well, which is nice. We are covering the Old Testament this year…they alternate Old and New Testament lessons each year so that by the time the kids get to the Confirmation Class in 8th grade they have a good understanding of the Bible. I am really excited to be working with everyone here—they are all really nice! My office is SUPER COLD but that’s ok…I was advised to bring in an extra blanket or old sweater for the office because it is usually pretty cold. My office is in the old mance and overlooks the courtyard area. It is really nice! I share the space with 3 other people, but I have my own desk and it isn’t crowded at all.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Vlogging in Chicago

I decided that I want to have a video blog (vlog) for this year in Chicago at some point this summer, but I hadn't actually done anything about it until today! One of my housemates doesn't have a computer and since I knew we had extras at home, I asked my parents if he could have one. Of course they said yes because they are awesome!! So Denis wanted to say thanks and we decided to do it through a video blog.

I made a special youtube channel for my house to use to upload video blogs. I am not sure who else is going to bother to upload vlogs as well, but I thought it would be nice to let you all know that it exists!! Once I find out the policy on pictures/videos at my different site placements then I will try and get those up here or on the youtube channel. And once I get the house cleaned up to more of my standards I will film the house as well. :)

The link for the video is

Today was a lot of fun--tomorrow I will try my hardest to post a blog about this past week in Chicago!

YAV Orientation, Part 2

Well orientation came and went and I never blogged about it! I really meant to, but other things got in the way. We spent the week in different seminars about various topics such as, Critical Cultural Competency, Sexual Misconduct, Safety/Gender Issues/Relationships, Living in God's mission & how to share your story, Self Care and what makes you tick. I think by far my favorite sessions were Self Care and what makes you tick.

The Self Care session really helped to reinforce that although we are taking a year to live simply and volunteer our time to help others, we still need to make sure we are taking care of ourselves. Working out, eating right, doing things that we enjoy, are all important to remember so that we don't get down and therefore not as useful to our placements.

The "what makes you tick" session was a lot of fun (for me) because we took the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). For those of you who do not know what the MBTI is, it is a questionnaire designed to take Carl Jung's theories on differing psychological concepts and apply them in broad categories to the questionnaire's participants. I could go on and on about the test because I really enjoyed it, but I won't. :)

We had an earthquake in New York! My first earthquake experience and I didn't even know that it happened until Rebecca (my sister) texted me and asked if I survived the earthquake. It wasn't really that big of a deal up at Stony Point. Honestly I think only a couple of people noticed it. Most of our attention was focused on Hurricane Irene. About 20 of us volunteered to help prepare Stony Point for flooding on Saturday morning. We bagged so many bags of sand! At one point a couple of us had to go get more sand and I got to drive the golf cart! :) Haha I felt so official! Irene didn't hit us too badly. There was some flooding in the main building because the site isn't properly set up to handle that much water. The water basically drains down the hill into the side of the building, so of course it is going to flood. Luckily nothing was damaged (that I know of).

We were supposed to split up into different groups and attend local churches on Sunday morning to be commissioned, but all of the churches canceled their Sunday worship because of the hurricane. :( It was disappointing, but then we had a commissioning service at the ending worship service, which was really nice! I think my favorite thing for the entire week was getting to know the other YAVs that are going elsewhere in the country and the world. In a couple months I know it will be really nice to have that network of support! I got to know the people that are going to Kenya pretty well last week and I felt so bad because their flight was delayed until today because of Hurricane Irene! I know I was really lucky that my flight wasn't delayed or canceled!

I arrived in Chicago on Monday and we went to Lou Malnati's to get pizza. IT WAS SO GOOD! I love Chicago style pizza but this stuff was awesome!! :) According to my site director, Lou's also does a really good job of becoming part of the neighborhood and it is supposed to be a place where you can come and enjoy yourself--not get rushed out the door. A link to their website is here if you want to read more about their history.

I'll write another post about my week here in Chicago but I have to go get ready. Our site director (Krista) is blindfolding us and dropping us each off in a separate area of Chicago and we have to find our way back to the house. Luckily Chicago was designed on a grid pattern so it should be fairly easy....I am hoping! Wish me luck!