Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Things I Love #5 - Coffee Emporium

I LOVE Coffee Emporium.  

It is my "Cheers"…where people know my name…and my sister, nieces, brothers, and mom.  I love walking in and hearing, "Your sister or your brother was just in here with your nieces."
Coffee Emporium makes a big city small for me.  The entire walk there makes a big city small.  On the walk, the fella at Haps Irish Pub sometimes gives Tucker a treat.

I love that Amy is both my barista AND my friend.  I love that we get dinner together and shop together…and I love Gretchen and Jeremiah and Katie and Eileen.

I love that they put a fire pit outside.

I love the waffles on Sunday.

I love the Salted Almond Mocha.

I love the burlap bag I bought there.

I love that I can come in after work and chat, hear about Amy's niece and Gretchen's daughter's school.

I love Donna's cookies.

I love the wisteria that grows over the patio out back.

I love the community it fosters.

You get the point.  It's one of those things in life that I'm way thankful for...

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Cincinnati Adventure - Taste of Belgium

Taste of Belgium in Over the Rhine

Yesterday I had my "Cincinnati Adventure" - which means I have officially met my very first New Years Goal of the year!  The goal was to go somewhere I've never been, with someone else, trying something I've never tried.

My long time friend, Sandra, and I went to Taste of Belgium - a great place to eat in the historic neighborhood of Over the Rhine.  While this neighborhood used to be known as one of the sketchiest sections of Cincinnati, parts of it have recently been fixed up making it quite a conglomeration of folks.  One street might be the trendiest little place you've ever seen with urban shops, eateries, etc…and then 2 streets over you would think twice before parking your car on the side of the road.  I, for one, am quiet interested (and hopeful) to see how they merge these two worlds…I am hoping it's done well.

Taste of Belgium is quite the gem in Over the Rhine.  One of their specialties is the Chicken and Waffles dish.  I ordered those in addition to an amazing chocolate candied orange latte.  The meal was great, the latte was delish and the company was fantastic :)

Sandra sporting a sweet hat

Chocolate Candied Orange Latte

Chicken and Waffles

Taste of Belgium - right behind Sandra on the corner!

Cincinnati Adventure - Taste of Belgium and Chicken and Waffles!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

New Years Goals 2014

It's nearly the middle of February, which means I'm LONG overdue to type up my New Years Goals for this year.  They're not exactly difficult goals (and some are carry-overs from last year)...and perhaps calling these goals a yearly "bucket list" might actually be a better description.  I am excited about them, and I'm looking forward to getting started!

 2014 New Years Goals

1.  Read 10 books - 5 of these biographies, and some C.S. Lewis in there too
Completed…Radical by David Platt, Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis, Uprising by Erwin McManus

2.  Sew a skirt or a dress with my sewing machine

3.  Be filled with the Fruits of the Spirit - no matter what life looks like - pray especially for joy and peace.

4.  Brew Kamboucha

5.  Go on 4 adventures - 1 International, 1 United States, 1 Ohio, and 1 Cincinnati.
Rules:  It must be somewhere I've never been to before.
I must go with at least one other person.
While there I must do or try something I've never tried before.
Completed - Cincinnati Adventure: Taste of Belgium
Coming in July - International Adventure:  Inca Trail to Machu Piccu

6.  Get my piano tuned

7.  Run the Flying Pig half marathon in under 2 hours...it's going to stay on the list each year until it happens :)

8.  Go to one international adoption meeting.  

9.  Write 3 original poems for 3 different people - and then read the poem to that person over the phone or in person

10.  Finish Jason's table...
So...I have a beside table that Jason was in the process of making for me when he died.  It's been in the garage for 9 and a half years now - just sitting there collecting dust - unfinished.
This year, I'm going to finish it.  And hopefully not chop off a finger in the process.


This is a pretty great list, huh?! This isn't exactly the entire list - but it's most of them.

ALSO - This year, I've decided to have a theme verse...
"She is clothed with strength and dignity.  She can laugh at the days to come."  Proverbs 31:25

I'm excited to live this out a bit better this year.  Because of Jesus, I am clothed with strength and dignity. ...and because of Him, I can laugh at the days to come...

And this year I will do just that.  

Something unexpected happened to me as the New Year rolled over.  And I seriously hate to say that it was "unexpected" because honestly it should be what I expect day in and day out in this walk of faith and grace...

...but regardless of my expectations or lack thereof, as this year as started, I have found that the Lord has washed his peace over me….he has reached down from on high and lifted me up.

I feel different.  Noticeably lighter.  I have a fresh covering of peace and joy.

Seriously, to be honest, I'm almost concerned about my lack of concern :)

I take it as a season of rest.  Beautiful rest.
It probably means crazy is coming….and well, I'm up for that too.  But for now I'll sit here with a renewed sense of God's peace, and I'll feel content.

So - 2014 is here, a new list of goals is in writing, and I'm ready to go.  Adventure is coming.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

My Year of Mac

Before I lay out my goals for 2014…I'd like to highlight one New Year's Goal from last year that turned out to be stellar - getting mac-n-cheese every Monday at Keystone Grill.

I planned to eat Mac at Keystone Grill every Monday I was in town - aside from a few misses, I was pretty faithful.  I could not have predicted in January how much fun I would have doing it and how many great conversations would happen throughout the year.   I had loads of dinners with many friends.  I loved getting a "Hey - can I join you for mac some Monday night?!"  There were lots of special times with many dear friends.  My friends Meredith and Marina even became regular mac-n-cheese eaters with me - and it's still continuing.

I knew I had finally "arrived" as a regular when Jeremy who works at the bar answered my phone call with "Hey Dani - what do you want this evening?!"  I looked forward to seeing his smile and saying hello each time I went in to pick up a carry-out order.

And my students - oh man were they into this goal.  On Monday mornings during our Community Time, one of my boys would excitedly ask what I was going to get.  And he would follow up on Tuesday morning by asking what I got.  I would describe the type of Mac dish I had eaten, while they oooooohed and awwwwwwed over it.  They loved it.  And as the year came to a close they excitedly asked "What's your goal next year going to be?"  (As if Mac-n-Cheese was the whole of my ambition through the year!)  So fun :)

Favorites of the year:
Jimmy Buffet - Hamburger in the mac with french fries on top
Smoked cheese with turkey and bacon mac
Black Beans and Bacon
Chorizo macs
Green Day Mac - Sun dried tomatoes, spinach, etc.

Most of all, though, I'm thankful for the time with friends, and I have loads of good memories from these times.  There's only been 3 weeks in January so far…and 2 of those I've already eaten mac at Keystone even without the goal :)

I have talked over mac.
Listened over mac.
Cried over mac.
and Laughed over mac.

My year of Mac.  What a Great Goal.  It'll be hard to top in 2014.

Mac with Linda

Marina and Meredith - regular mac buddies - still going....

Friday, January 3, 2014



                                                 Click here to watch the Awaited Trailer

I had the priviledge of being the Awaited Show at Crossroads this Christmas season.  It ended up truly being one of the best experiences of my year!  We had 15 shows – and despite the fact that it became a bit like “Groundhog Day”…we had a total blast doing it!  From the beginning the focus of the program was made clear – this was a show to tell the story of Jesus and the rescue he brings to people who perhaps had never connected with God’s story before.  We were called “Go Awaited” – which is in line with all the other events where Crossroads “goes” and engages with others outside of their community - sharing the love and hope of Christ. 

We had table assignments where we ate dinners together and table facilitators who led discussion questions at the table if desired.  At my table, I had the privilege of having some older ladies as well as some younger gals – and in particular, the gal who was the “camel butt” in the show was at my table!  She was a stilt walker, a teacher, and knew how to juggle.  One night she juggled for all of us, which was so stinkin’ awesome!  Nearly every evening, folks from the prayer team came and offered to pray with anyone who wanted prayer.  All of this together led to a wonderful climate of joy.  JOY seemed to be the theme that covered the entire season.  Beautiful, fulfilling JOY. 

What beautiful people I was able to meet and also reconnect with.  What moving music I was surrounded by each evening.  While the rest of the world was out and about for the Christmas season – there was something so simple about being in one place, with the same people, celebrating a Savior through music, words, dance and family. 



*Dancing in the hallways with the stag-ish sort of creature at the beginning of the show before going down the aisle….double tap dance!
*Stretching Olympics
*The loud “AHH AHHH” part in the Mary and Joseph song….
*The scrim dropping with joyful dancing and singing
* Fearing for my life in the manger scene
*Walking down the aisle in the quiet of the “Silent Night Shhh” part and hearing children singing
*Walking past that cute little gal crouched down at the front of the aisle ready to go on stage
*Hearing Tiffany’s lovely voice behind me
*Table discussion with my table gals
*Catching up with old friends from former years of Awaited
*That great graham coffee
*The stink bug walking up the scrim during the show
*Melissa’s veil getting stuck on the manger

                                             Love this picture…a Baby Doll raised in the air.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Best Christmas Gift

As I teacher, I have received some unique gifts over the years….but this is perhaps one of my absolute favorites from many many years ago!

It's an ornament.  Don't try to wrap logic around this.  Just soak it in.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


I love the MADD Walk.  I do.  This might sound weird being that it's a day where many people who have lost loved ones in a tragic way gather…but the reality is that this day is quite the mix of hope, family, friends, purpose, and sorrow.  No one denies the reality of the losses so many at the event have faced and live with…but the overall feel of the day is one of hope and community.

For the Presley/McKinney/and friends clan - it's the only day of the year when loads of family and friends all gather in honor and memory of Jason.  The day is a celebration of him, his life, and the blessing of community that we have together.

And the fact that we're able to raise funds to prevent this from happening to others is satisfying as well.  Over the past 9 years, The Jason Presley Team has raised somewhere around 50,000 bucks to promote MADD's mission.  This past year, we raised 9,952 dollars thanks to the support of MANY.  This is satisfying…and it matters.  It promotes justice, freedom, peace.

After the walk, there is a lunch at my house - lots of soup eating.  Lots of laughter.  Lots of catching up with friends and family.  Lots of love.  I am reminded every year of how much I have and how blessed I am - in family, in friends, in community.

So here are some pictures from this year!

Nathalie and Eloise

Scott (aka "smack talker"), Roger, and Jim warming up with the Ben-gals.

Brad, Heather, Larry, and Tucker

Dad stretching - Eloise and Karah running

Tucker James

Dad and Wakefield during the opening ceremonies

Nellie, Natalie, and Audrey