Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Experience New England: Rhodey Staycation

This weekend my family drove down from upstate New York to vacation with me in Providence. It's a great situation for everyone- they get a great vacation, I get a great "staycation."  If you have never heard the term before, well, it means staying in ones own locale and exploring new things, instead of spending loads of money going elsewhere.

When they come down, I always do a little research of some new and exciting things that I have never taken advantage of, and of course things I know we will all love. They are still in town until Thursday, but I thought I would do a little recap of our Rhodey Vacation/Staycation 2010, days 1-3, in hopes that you will discover some awesome places to check out!

Nicks on Broadway
For some reason I cant imagine why I have never been to this eating establishment. Located on Broadway in Providence, Nick's boasts delicious, local, seasonal cuisine that is both highly rated and approachable. Their Eggs Benedict was out of this world, coming on top of two savory biscuits with delicious handcut ham slices. Their salmon breakfast sandwhich on pesto wheat bread was pure glorious, and vadalia onion corned beef hash blew me out of the water. Go there now.

RISD Museum of Art
The last saturday of the month is a freefor all at the RISD Museum, and so off we went! Quite larger than I imagined, there were some wonderful exhibits on display at the museum from classical style to extremely modern, something for all art lovers to enjoy. There was also an interactive art class open to the public in which you created answers to question promts with their provided suplies, for example, "write a love letter to a part of your body." We were slightly crunched for time, and I image this museum is ten times better if you are not crunched for time. Parking stinks, but it was all free, and I cant wait to check it out next month!

The Mooring
Get the Seafood Pie. This restaurant located along the Thames St, Newport Bay area is a great special dinner kind of place. It is quite upscale, but they serve some of their sides and apps in brown paper bags for an interesting twist! We sat out on the balcony and had a wonderful view of the Newport Harbor. I'll be going back.

Rhode Island Bay Lighthouse Cruise
This one is a show stopper. I random'y found an advertisement for this cruise on a billboard somewhere, and it is worth every single penny. ($25 a person). Leaving from Quonsett Point, this cruise takes you through the Narragansett Bay area, around the Jamestown Island, and into the Newport Harbor. This light house cruise is absolutely wonderful, providing narration and indoor and outdoor seating. Absolutely picturesque, up close and personal views of the ten lighthouses and other interesting sights, along with a perfectly sunny and breezy day spent with family, how could you go wrong? I would recommend this for everyone- kids to elderly, native rhodeys or out of towners. Seriously.

We also checked out WaterFire an artsy festival type performance art where giant cauldrons of wood floating on the river are set ablaze. Its pretty amazing.

I Love Rhode Island.
Let me know if you have any other awesome ideas for things to do or see in New England!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How do we enjoy God?

The Westminster Catechism states that the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Do you enjoy God? What does that look like in your life?

Enjoying God is a hard concept for me to really grasp, and I don't even know if I’ve gotten the concept correct.

But two verses come to mind when I think of enjoying God, first being 1 Peter 3:12 “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears attend to their prayers, but the face of the lord is against those who do evil.”

I can enjoy God because I know his eyes are on me, and he hears my prayers. I know I am righteous, not because of anything I do, but because his grace has allowed me salvation. It is not about working to gain his approval, because he views me as his own child and friend.

Psalm 15 “Oh Lord, who may abide in your tent, who may dwell on your holy hill? Those who walk with integrity and work righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart..”

 I can enjoy God because he has saved me from myself. In His sovereignty I have been made right with Him, have been saved from myself and can walk with integrity and righteousness.

Wow, dwelling on his holy hill? Pure enjoyment.

Maybe its because I am such a doer, but I have to remember always that it is because of nothing I have done that has earned me a place in the family of God, but merely from his pure grace and mercy in my life. And that really brings me enjoyment.

I think enjoying God also comes when we make what makes Him happy- what makes us happy.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

What's on Your Shelf Alissa?

I've been meaning to do a post about books, especially my summer reading list, but havent gotten around to it. The other day, I stumbled upon the "On My Shelf" series at the Gospel Coalition site. It sounded good and here we go!

What's on Your Shelf: Alissa Graham

What’s currently on your nightstand?

The Church and the Surprising Offense of Gods Love by Jonathan Leeman

Kindle, Nook, or iPad? What do you think of e-readers?
No thanks! Im all about paper and bindings.

Where do you most like to read? When?
I read when I have the time. Usually before bed, on the bus, slow times at work, and on my balcony on a nice afternoon.

Favorite genre of literature?
Biblical Counseling

Best novel you’ve read?
I love what Mark Dever says “I really don’t like superlative questions.”

Most influential book in your life outside the Bible?
:) See answer to previous question.

If you were stranded on an island and could have any three books in addition to the Bible, what would they be?
Instruments in the Redeemers Hands by Tripp, Greek and Hebrew Strong’s Concordance, and a biography of Adoniram Judson

Who are some of your favorite writers? What makes their writing great?
Paul Tripp, Mark Dever, CJ Mahaney. All of their writing is practical, gospel centered, and intelligently challenging

Do you have any “pet peeves” about writing? What do you try to avoid in your prose?
I don’t like beating around the bush.

Reading habits? (e.g., Pen in hand? Coffee? Diet Coke? Music playing?)
A book in hand, a pen nearby

Elephant ear or bookmark?
I go for the random bookmark method- post-it notes, receipts, napkins.

Approximately how many volumes are in your personal library?
Maybe 1,000? (Probably more) Someday they will all be reunited into one central home library, instead of sprawled out across 2 states and 3 homes.

Favorite children’s book?
Go Dog Go! By PD Eastman

Favorite library you’ve ever visited?
Lockport Public Library- New York

Stick around for more in this series! Maybe even you!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Urban Garden Paradise: Update

Wow, so I guess its been a little bit since I updated about my wonderful garden. For some reason, I am awake at 5am this morning, and have the chance to sit on my lovely balcony and enjoy the most delightful morning. Breezy and sunny, the best time to enjoy the garden.

Ive made some new additions to the family, either from purchase of already grown plants, or from my friend Casey, so the list is now quite extensive. I have strawberries, blueberries, cucumbers, zucchini, beans, peppers, lillies, tomatoes, cilantro, and basil!

The tomatoes already have little green balls growing, and have been given their own cages, the strawberries are already forming. My zucchini who once were seedlings, are now blossoming into full size planthood.
It's magical and rewarding.

I think my next post will be some unique tips based on what I think I am doing right.

How does YOUR garden grow?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Call for Submissions: Best Rhubarb Recipe!

Luckily, my friend casey left me a whole bag full of rhubarb stalks. But I have NOOOOO idea what to do with them.


What is your favorite rhubarb recipe!? 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mini Expeditions: Maps

Ok. I have to share these wth you but to save a million spearate random blogs, I will consolidate into one nice little bloggy blog links that you can check out, or not.

Ten of the greatest: Maps that changed the world
Maps are sweet. This is awesome and interesting.

Old and New Russia Transposed
Pictures of old soviet war torn Russia transposed on new pictures. Pretty cool stuff and crazy to see how much of Russia is still the same.

Free Stuff To Do in Rhode Island
This list, "Tons of Fun, No Cost: 10 Great Things To Do For Free" is a great resource to find out free things to do in Rhode Island!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Travelogues by Alissa!

Hey Everyone! Yesterday morning was week 2 of my travel internship with Annie's Escapes in Cranston Rhode Island. Its been an awesome experience so far and I appreciate the knowledge that Anne is willing to impart to me.

This morning I did some interesting travel reading, filed travel brochures (some of which I got to keep!), and called CVBs (Convention Visitor Bureaus) to get artwork for an article in a local bridal magazine about honeymoons. I was on the phone with people from New Orleans, Key West, to Nantucket. Cool, and I will take any opportunity to improve my phone skills.

Then I was asked to create some content for the website. So I wrote an article about Russia which I encourage you to check out here

This is an exciting opportunity to have my writing published in a variety of outlets.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How to Plan an Awesome Midnight Roadtrip

1. Gather awesome friends.

2. Drink loads of coffee, get all pumped up, end up staying awake late into the night.

3. Decide to go on a road trip at 1am.

4. Decide how much time you have until you have to be back. We had until 10am the next day.

5. Plan accordingly by picking a destination that allows for enough travel time there and back, as well as time to see the awesome sights! We chose Plymouth Massachusetts because we wanted to see Adoniram Judson's memorial on Burial Hill! And who knew it was less than an hour away from Providence!

6. Google Maps for the best directions!

7. Put on red lipstick and take some ridiculous pre-departure pictures

8. Gas up!

9. Take lots of pictures and enjoy!

Plymouth Rock. Its definitely smaller than imagined!

Burial Hill

Adoniram Judson's memorial. He was the first missionary sent from America back in the 1700's. Awesome guy. He was actually buried at sea, but this is a memorial to him and his family.

10. Come home and pass out! Don’t forget to set your alarm for work :)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Where Are You?

A fun part of blogging is meeting new people or keeping in touch with those you already know.

An even funner (more fun, super funnylicious- you decide) part of blogging is using Google Analytics, a program that tracks the who what where when of everyone who gets here.  I can see that my blog has been  visited by people from Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Australia, and tons of places all over the USA including Alaska, surprisingly alot of Kansans (23!), and Michigan.

This edition of "Where Are You" simplys asks you, my readers,

Where are you?! 

Comment and let me know region or city or state or country or maybe all of the above!! Then if you dare, add a cool little fact about where you live! (Even if you think its boring.) I'll go first :) 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Week One: "The hardest part is wanting to go on every trip that you book!"

Today I started my first day as an intern with Annie's Escapes, a small custom travel planning business. I knew I'd hit a gold mine when I first discovered the internship opportunity and looked through her website, full of delicious travel stories and photos. My instincts were right on the money when we interviewed and she told me what she was looking for in an intern: someone "excellent at social media," someone "good at organizing," and someone "who really wanted to learn anything and everything about the business."  Hi, my name is Alissa.

I learned so many things just during the debriefing:
  • Most small travel agents are a part of a "Host Organization." This is because there is power in numbers. Being a part of a larger travel organization gets the agent better rates for their clients on everything from cruises, accommodations, and excursions -- while still allowing the agent to operate their business on their terms and having the small business feel.                                          
  • Travel agents dont want to take care of your flights. Well, they want to help you, but they dont make any commissions from airlines--So in order to avoid a booking fee from your travel agent, book your flights on your own. 

 My first task this morning was to go through her website and read all her information and blogs in order to get more acquainted with her style. Well lordy, reading about all her client's trips to Montreal, Italy, Iceland, and Vancouver- did that ever leave me with an inflamed wanderlust!

She said the hardest part of the job is wanting to go on every trip that you book      .....Understood!

After doing that, I helped link the Annie's Escapes facebook and website, and then explained some awesome html things she can do with her facebook fan page. One of the projects during this internship will be creating content for her website, creating a "landing page" for her facebook fans, and managing the social media aspects. Good times!

As a travel business, she gets tons and tons of travel magazines. What blows me away, is that she reads them ALL! As she's going through them, she dog marks the interesting articles to go through later, rip out, and put into a file folder for that destination/company/country for later inspiration. Isn't that such a great idea?  Another one of my jobs this summer will be to go through those magazines and organize those articles. I will also be able to pick out some things from the magazines that I find interesting and blog about them on her website.

Some more practical "travel agenty" things I did today included calling a hotel to ask about shipping luggage, researching restaurant options for a group tour in Vancouver, and proofreading a travel package advertisement.

Week one, day one and I am really excited for this internship. 
 Sure I dont get credit or get paid, but come on, its a learning opportunity that will last a lifetime, not to mention a great resume addition and opportunity for hands on learning!!!  

Have any questions about the travel industry? (maybe I can ask!)
Have you ever had an awesome opportunity that you knew would benefit you in the long run? Did it?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Your Garbage, My Treasure: Planters

Walking down the street to catch the bus, a typical daily activity, I came across two stereo speakers that were clearly not work able and clearly in the trash pile. I saw their potential right away and hoped that they wouild still be laying there upon my return from work.

In my head they automatically looked like garden planters, and I knew it could be done. Thankfully they were there on my walk back, and I eagarly lugged them back to my apartment!

After evaluating the situation, the realization came that some major hacking had to be done. The nails were hidden, so I had to take a hammer to the wood and just pound out the speaker casing in order to have a box that was open on the top. After removing all debris and cutting out the wires, I took some nails and created drainage holes on the bottom of the boxes. Dirt was added along with the plants and viola!

 Perfect boxes for my cucumber seedlings!

Have you ever taken anything fron the trash and made a treasure?! Tell me about it!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Dessert Nachos? I think so.

Dessert Nachos? These fruity, not too sweet, just right snacks are the most delicious thing and everyone kept coming back for more! A great conversation piece, a fabulous food to bring to a friends house, and a fun project to make with kids! Thanks to my wonderful roomie Sarah for introducing me to these glorious delights! They look a little complicated, but I promise, easy as pie!  Enjoy!

Fruit Salsa:

2 cups strawberries, hulled and diced
2 large kiwi, peeled and diced
1 can mandarin orange slices, drained

Mix together in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cheese Sauce:
1 8 ounce package of Neufchatel cream cheese
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3 Tablespoons honey

In a 1 quart pan, combine Neufchatel cheese, orange juice and honey. Whisk (important to use a whisk because it will be lumpy if you don’t) over low heat until sauce is smooth (about 3 minutes)

Nacho Chips:
You need about 8 6-inch tortillas and about 1/2 cup sugar and some cinnamon to taste.

In a shallow bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon. Working with one tortilla at a time, brush both sides lightly with water; Dip one side of each wedge in sugar mixture. Cut into about 6 wedges using a pizza cutter. Arrange wedges in a single layer, sugared sides up, on baking sheets. Bake, one sheet at a time, in a 500 degree oven until tortilla wedges are crisp and golden (watch closely but in my oven it takes about 4 minutes. It depends on the tortillas. Some burn quickly). Remove wedges from baking sheets and let cool slightly on racks.

And there you go! Viola! Delish! Combine! Gorge! Partake!
Let me know how it goes :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Rhodey Living: Gaspee Days

I'm always up for a good adventure. Couple that with a craft show and MAN ya got me. When I saw Gaspee Days listed in the RI area events calendar, I couldn't resist. Putting out a request to all my friends go go along with me, only one other person wanted to go! GASP! Some people are no fun. So Leeta and I got in the car and headed off to beautiful Pawtuxet Village.

Gaspee Days is a Memorial Day Weekend celebration of American Patriots who torched an enemy ship during the American Revolution. It includes a craft show, races, musical acts, war reenactments, and all sorts of cool stuff.

There werent any wares that especially caught my eye, other than some "too expensive for me" nautical delights, but it was tons of fun seeing all the crafting of the area and getting free samples of mapled walnuts and gourmet homemade dijon mustard. Not to mention splendid views of the bay,

and cute little entreprenuers who sell exceptional lemonade.
You can check out Gaspee Days at