Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The End of this Chapter.

Dear friends,

I am taking part in a neat project, called the Start Experiement.  It is about taking risks, and living boldly.

My group is for bloggers, and part of my "risk-taking" is in creating a self-hosted blog- one where I have more creative control & more options than blogger allows.  I'm moving a couple of the more popular posts from this site over there :-)

If you are interested, you can start following my new blog at:

or like my facebook page:

It's been a fun journey so far.  Excited for the next phase in my blogging life!



Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Sweet & Sour Chicken

Back when I was working at A&O, a few co-workers & I went through a very hardcore Chinese take-out phase.  Mostly, we stuck to our favorites: sesame chicken, general tso's, something we called "fun noodles," and sweet & sour chicken.

We ate so much Chinese that I got tired of it.  There was a very long stretch of time when one of my work buddies Lizzy & I felt sick at the thought of one more "lunch special."

It took me awhile before Chinese sounded good again.  Now that Brian & I are married, I cook a lot at home and we don't get take-out very often...  I can't even tell you the last time I ordered Chinese!

But I do cook a fair amount of Asian food...  which is to say, I cook a fair amount of Americanized Asian food.  One of the things I've made several times is sweet & sour chicken.  It is not the most healthy dinner ever, but it has come out well every.single.time. so I thought I would share this easy recipe with all of you:

Ingredients for Chicken:
2-4 chicken breasts...  could also use thighs??
1 egg beaten
couple tablespoons cornstarch
couple tablespoons vegetable oil

Ingredients for Sauce:
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup pineapple juice
2 T soy sauce
1/2 T garlic powder

Preheat oven to 325

1.  Combine sauce ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Truth be told?  I pretty much eyeball the ingredients for the sauce; I don't find you need to be super precise with them*.  Wisk until it boils and let it bubble down for a couple minutes.

*And, by all means, taste your sauce!!!  As it cooks down more in the oven, it will get MORE sweet & sour-y, so you aren't looking for a strong sauce on the stove.  What you are looking for is a good balance between the sweet & sour.  If it tastes too sweet, add some more vinegar.  Too sour?  I would add more pineapple juice (though you could add more sugar... it just already has a lot of that...).

2.  Slice your chicken into small pieces; about 3/4-1 inch is what I like best.  And I blot the chicken with a paper towel; I don't know that it does anything, but I like to tell myself that it helps the egg stick.

3.  Season chicken with salt & pepper to taste...  I tend to like a lot of pepper.

4.  Coat the chicken pieces with egg

5.  Coat the pieces with cornstarch; I usually put the cornstarch in a gallon Ziplock bag, add the chicken & give it a toss.

6.  Let the chicken hang out on a plate for a couple minutes; it lets the cornstarch do it's thing.

7.  While the chicken is resting, heat the veggie oil over high heat

8.  Fry the chicken until it is pretty brown & golden on all sides.  It doesn't need to be completely cooked; it will have plenty of time in the oven to finish off.

9.  Place the chicken in a single layer in a baking dish (I spray mine with cooking spray to help clean-up), and then pour the sauce over.

10.  Bake for 30-45 minutes...  You want to make sure your chicken is fully cooked and give the sauce more time to thicken and get more delicious.

11.  Serve over rice & with some veggies!!  I served it this night with plain boring white rice, and a frozen bag of broccoli, carrots & edamame.  Usually I go for a fresh veggie, but nothing looked good at the store.  And truthfully, I like boring white rice, so that is usually what we pair with it ;-)

FYI- this also makes really good leftovers :-)

Happy cooking!!

Does any one else enjoy Asian flavors at home???

Saturday, May 25, 2013

You are Always a Teacup

Recently, Elizabeth Smart took part in a forum on sex trafficking.  For those of you who don’t remember, at age 14 she was kidnapped.  Held captive for 9 months; she endured emotional, physical and sexual abuse.  Following her rescue, she has become an advocate for educating our children about the dangers of sexual crime and violence. 

At this particular forum, Elizabeth discussed how growing up she was taught about sexual purity, and the impact that had on her views of self-worth following her assault. 

Elizabeth was taught that your sexual purity was like a piece of gum- you wanted your spouse to have a fresh piece for your wedding day.  If you sinned sexually, you became a gross already-been-chewed piece of gum.  She shares her mind-set:

I thought "Oh, my gosh, I'm that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away." And that's how easy is is to feel like you no longer have wroth, you no longer have value.

She continues to explain how this view prevented her from seeking help or trying to escape from her captors.  Why would it even be worth screaming out?  Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued?  You life still has no value.

I have heard the chewing gum example, as well as several other similar visuals to describe purity.  And, today I sit and wonder...  is there a better way?

I believe that teaching our children the importance of sexual purity is good; living lives of sexual purity is admirable.  So, how can we do that, without tying our sexual purity with our inherent value?

Depending on what statistics you read, anywhere from 15-25% of women will experience sexual assault in their lifetime.  How do we teach the value of sexual purity without these women feeling like they've become chewed up pieces of gum?

And again, depending on what statistics you go with- approximately 70% of teens become sexually active by the age of 19.  How do we teach the value of purity, without also teaching them that they are worthless? 

I'd like to go to an object lesson that I heard in high school...  I read it first in a book by Dannah Gresh (though I am not she is the one who originated the idea... and it has been awhile since I read this book, so I might not have it exactly right- And the Bride Wore White).  It talks about how we can view our purity in two ways- either as a teacup or as a disposable cup.

Teacups are precious, delicate and valuable.  You treat them with care and gentleness.  We can view our purity the same way.  A treasure; something with value.

A disposable cup is cheap; meant to be used and then tossed out.  We can also view our purity this way; worthless & easily thrown away.

I get this example; I understand it.  But I believe, if handled incorrectly, it can be dangerous.

This visual tiptoes very closely to saying "if you have sinned or been abused sexually, you become a cheap disposable cup." You become worth-less.  You become that chewed up piece of gum.

Here is where we need to be careful:

You are ALWAYS a teacup.  You are precious and valuable, because you are a child of God.  You are worthwhile because God says you are.  He says that He knit you together, and that He knows the number of hairs on your head.  You are a teacup in His sight and NOTHING can take that away.

Do we always act like teacups?  Certainly not.  There are times when we forget that we are valuable to God.  There are times when we act as though we are worthless...  Does this make us disposable?  No.

You are always a teacup.

Are we always treated like teacups?  Absolutely not.  We can be abused or used and tossed aside.  But just because we are treated as though worthless, does not make it so.

You are always a teacup.

We need to teach our children that, no matter what, we are valuable to God.  No matter what has been done to us, or we do to ourselves, we are still precious and loved.  God still loves us.  God still has plans for us.  God will still bless us.

And if we are always teacups?  It gives us room to receive grace.  If I sin sexually and become a disposable cup?  I'm done.  Who cares if I mess up in the future?  I'm already ruined...  But.  If I am always a teacup?  I might fall short sometimes, but I am still valuable.  I can repent and ask God to help me turn away from my past, and move forward.

Hoping & praying all of you know that you are infinitely love by your creator.  That you are precious in His sight.  And that through Him, you are always valued.

With love to all teacups,


Monday, May 20, 2013

5K and Other Updates.

So, it's been awhile since I've posted.  Life has just been carrying on and things are going well.  I thought I would take a little bit of time to update anyone who is interested on how the Virginia Beach Dahls are doing :-)

My husband continues to be hard at work on the USS Montpelier.  His boat is still in dry dock in Newport News.  It looks like it will be there sometime undergoing repairs...  Everyone asks what Brian does at work all day when the boat isn't out at sea or preparing for a mission.  Honestly?  His job isn't all that much different?  He still has several divisions to run, and needs to stand watch in the engine room or on the deck.  At sea or in dry dock, subs still need a full crew :-)

Molly has been with us for over a few months now.  She brings such joy... and such trouble... into our lives- as only a 5 month old puppy can!!  I spend half the day keeping her out of things, but I am so thankful that we have her.  She is a very smart puppy, and is learning a lot!  She is in the middle of teething, and eats about 10 ice cubes a day.   

A couple weeks ago, Brian took a few days off so we could go to Ohio to see his sister Amy graduate.  It was AWESOME getting to spend some time together, and then to join family and celebrate!!  

After graduation, I came home for a week and had a good time!  I spent a lot of time helping my parents with a garage sale, and with things around the house...  I also got to see Les Miserables (on stage!) twice!  I loved it!!  

Brian's mom came back to Virginia with me- it was great having company for the trip back & having her visit!  It was a relaxing time :-)

I am really looking forward to my friend Meredith coming next week.  Having her close-by is something I miss like crazy living here in VA!  We are going to go to the beach and sit by the pool and go to Chick-Fil-A...  We are also:

GOING TO RUN A 5K!!!  Mere has been a runner on & off for as long as I have known her, but I have only ever really run when I had to in gym class.  Brian's whole family has gotten into running, and all of them have been in a race.  I just didn't want to be the only Dahl who hadn't!  Plus!  I really want a 5K t-shirt.

So, for the last few weeks, I've been training for that.  I have improved a lot, but I am not quite ready for the race.  Thankfully, I have some time still to get there!  

I have to admit that running isn't something that comes naturally (or very easily) to me.  But I had a really great run this past Saturday, and the feeling when I was done was awesome!!  I had never gone that far in my life, and I had never before had a long run where I didn't have to stop and walk for a stretch.

Now that we are fully into spring here (which feels a lot like Rochester summer), I am trying to come up with some meal plans that use the oven less.  I think my husband & I will be having more salads, but I am looking for other options too.  Anyone have any good summer recipes?  ...  We do have a community grill we can use in our complex.  We've only used it once, and didn't have a great experience (we couldn't get it to get hot enough), but we hope to try again.

I think that is about it for now?  I hope to have more updates soon :-)



Tuesday, April 9, 2013

We Didn't Start the Fire.

1.  When I was a Junior in High School, we got a jukebox for our cafeteria   I have no idea where it came from; one day it was just there.  All the songs on it were older, and I didn't know most of them.  I think my most of my classmates were in the same boat...  I remember that every day, someone would play (what I remember to be) the most famous song it had:  Billy Joel's We Didn't Start the Fire.  Occasionally, it would get played multiple times; I remember once someone got really mad because THAT SONG IS ON AGAIN!?

2.  Since I mostly heard that song in a noisy cafeteria, I only knew the chorus.

We didn't start the fire.
It was always burning,
since the world's been turning.

And when I was in college, I decided that I should learn all the words to it.  It became a pointless goal of my sophomore year.

And.  I spent a bunch of time (that would maybe have been better spent studying) learning all the words.


At one point in my life, I could have sung the whole thing for you.

3.  When I think of We Didn't Start the Fire, now I always think of the Office.


4.  You would think that this is my favorite song, but it is not.

5.  Before I drove back to VA from NY yesterday, I added some music to my player.  And it had been well over a year since I'd heard this song, and decided I should put it on there.  I listened to it 3 times yesterday, and found that I only remembered 85% of the lyrics.  Which is still a lot.  But.

Part of me wants to relearn the ones I have forgotten.  But, I just can't imagine devoting any more time to this song.

6.  I wish there were catchy songs to learn Bible verses.  Because, frankly, knowing We Didn't Start the Fire isn't a great skill.  But Bible verses would be a good use of memorization.

7.  The End.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Libertarianism & Same-Sex Marriage

So.  I tend to usually keep my politics pretty quiet.  Other than with my closest friends/family, I don't typically get really fired up about my political views.  For a couple reasons:

1.  Most of the time?  It makes me crazy when people are over-the-top vocal about their political opinions.

2.  My stance is not necessarily very popular within my circle of friends & acquaintances...  I am not embarrassed by my politics.  But I also don't want to get in unnecessary disagreements with people.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. - Romans 12:18

But, the last few days, I've been getting really agitated over this whole same-sex marriage thing.  And for the first time?  I feel like writing about my views.

I am a Christian Libertarian...  In short, a Libertarian believes that there should be a very limited government.  We go back to the Declaration of our Independence...  We hold these truths to be SELF EVIDENT, that all men [and women] are created equal.  That they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that are among these: life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness.

I believe it is not the government's job to withhold rights from it's citizens.  It is the government's job to UPHOLD our rights; it's role should end there.

A Christian Libertarian is slightly different from a "regular" one...  To me?  The biggest difference is in our stance on abortion.  Traditionally, Libertarians believe in protecting the right for women to choose abortion.  A Christian Libertarian believes the government should protect an unborn baby's right to life.

So, let's look at this example of how a Christian Libertarian might think:

John Smith is a Christian.  He believes marijuana is bad for you, and using it does not honor God.  His abstaining from smoking is an act of worship.  And if he has a friend who smokes?  He might share the truth in love, and encourage them to quit.

John Smith is also a Libertarian...  He believes the separation of church and state is good & essential.  God says that gossip is bad.  But the government has no business telling people they can't gossip.  The same is true for smoking pot.  So long as someone else's marijuana use does not infringe in his rights, it is the not government's job to tell people they can't.

Which brings us to the real catalyst of this post:

Same-sex marriage.

First, it is important to me to say:

1.  I believe Jesus loves gay people.

2.  I love gay people.

3.  I believe that the church has not always handled things with our homosexual brothers & sisters very well.

4.  I also believe that some, not all, gay people have treated Christians badly.  I have personally felt judged by a gay person for being a Christian.

I don't really want to go into my religious beliefs on this topic.  What I believe God says about homosexuality is beside the point.  This post isn't about whether or not homosexuality is good or bad.

It is about what role the government plays in same-sex marriage.

When it comes to this whole Supreme Court thing??  It's not that I believe same-sex marriage should be legal or illegal...  I believe that the government should not be in charge of marriage.  Period.

-The government should not be able to say that marriage should just be between a man & a women.
-The government should protect the rights of same-sex couples; they should not be denied spousal rights.


-I also believe that it is not the government's job to say: everyone must be pro same-sex marriage.
-The government should not force pastors to marry same-sex couples.

You might disagree with me.  And that is okay.  Again, it is your right as an citizen of the United States to have whatever political views you want.

But my view??

Dear Government,

Instead of spending all this time on same-sex marriage, how about you come up with a plan to stop spending all your citizen's money.



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

She Won't Be a Puppy Forever.

Hey friends!

It has been a busy time for Brian & I!  After a nice trip back to Rochester, I came home and it was time to pick up our puppy Molly!!  She is a 9 week old Australian Shepherd and is completely adorable.

We've had her here at home with us for 5 days now, and I keep finding myself saying:

She won't be a puppy forever.

Sometimes I say it to encourage myself:

The night she got me up every hour and a half insisting that she needed to go out?  And the following exhausted day with her?  She won't be a puppy forever!

The potty mistakes??  She won't be a puppy forever!

The constant "No Molly!"...  She won't be a puppy forever!

When she tore my jeans this afternoon??  ...  She won't be a puppy forever!

Other times, I say it with some sadness:

When I kiss her sweet little head covered in that soft puppy fur?  She won't be a puppy forever.

When she sits in my lap and cuddles up?  She won't be a puppy forever.

That awkward puppy walk, or her cute excited gallops?  She won't be a puppy forever.

When she is eating dinner, and sits her butt down right in her water bowl?  She won't be a puppy forever.


I really do love her.

There are moments where I find myself wishing away her puppy-ness, but I am trying to hold onto all those moments when she is being my sweet fluffy little buddy.  Because the reality?  She won't be a puppy forever.  In fact, puppies don't stay puppies all that long. and before we know it she will be all grown up!