{Gratitude} Lately

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Nothing quite like finding a note in the bottom of the laundry basket first thing in the morning. Kind of like those bonus fries in the bottom of your burger bag.

{Atlas Hands by Benjamin Francis Leftwich}

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

This song has been wearing out the repeat button on my iPhone lately. Enjoy.

Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm (Bonus Track Version) - Benjamin Francis Leftwich

{Husband's Letters}

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Husband's Letters: Dear Mrs. Loerke, sometimes I'll do the alligator death roll in my sleep leaving you exposed to the elements (namely our fan and thermostat set at 65°). When I start to feel your feet jammed into my rib cage I know it's time to share the covers. Dear Male Patient, yesterday we replaced both of your knees on the same day. Your bravery and determination for a full recovery challenged all of us in the operating room. Dear Carry-on Backpack, you are packed and filled with everything I need for a week of teaching and learning in Uganda. I even managed to cram $27 worth of beef jerky into your pockets. Dear Emma, often I leave my BBQ tools sitting out for days telling you they're just "drying." Thank you for being patient when I lack motivation to put things away.

Over and out,

Best BBQ place you've ever eaten? GO.

{Towers by Bon Iver}

Monday, February 27, 2012

Bon Iver's latest music video. BAM.

Bon Iver - Bon Iver

{Today's Letters}

Monday, February 27, 2012

Today's Letters: Dear Mr. Loerke PA-C, this weekend you gave stitches to a little girl who fell and hit her head on the fireplace, watched a 65 year old man die of cardiac arrest, and had to tell a patient that she had miscarried. You are {STILL} the bravest man I know. Dear Late Night Snack, who knew a Bill Cosby Jell-O pudding cup bedazzled with chocolate chips could taste so delicious? Four points for making me feel like a kid again. Dear Tim Keller, looking forward to reading your new book The Meaning of Marriage on our 26 hour plane ride to Africa. The minute I start to think I have some wisdom in this area is the moment He shows me how little I know. Dear Husband, last night's dinner, movie, and a walk = the shiz. Love being your sidekick!

Happy freaking Monday, Homies! Did any of you watch the Oscars last night? Which movies did you add to your Netflix queue? We're looking forward to seeing The Artist, Hell and Back Again, and Undefeated

PS, several of you have asked me to re-post about the budgeting software Tim and I use. You can check it out here! We've been Mvelopes users for 6 years and can't imagine using another software to help us steward the resources we've been given.

{I'm Getting Ready} by Michael Kiwanuka

Friday, February 24, 2012

Required Friday evening listening: {Inspiration found at 0:54}. 

{Fist Pump Friday!}

Friday, February 24, 2012

To kick off this week's photos we have high school seniors Shea, Abby and Allison (pictured below) who spent President's Day hiking up Blood Mountain near Gainesville, GA.

Shea, pretty sure you've earned yourself some bonus points for being an Eagle Scout and for getting into Alabama. Allison and Abby, congrats on both getting into UGA! Proud of you three turkeys. 

Next, meet Taylor (friends with Jona from this FPF post) who threw fist pumps at his favorite BBQ joint Dinosaur BBQ in Troy, NY. Way to stuff your boca with a dino burger, mac-n-cheese, and collard greens!

Lastly, meet Mandy & Clarence who also threw fist pumps at their favorite BBQ joint, Oklahoma Joe's, in Kansas City! Fist pumps and leg kicks for bbq ribs, smoked chicken, dirty rice and seasoned fries!

Thanks to Taylor, Mandy & Clarence we've now completed one more of our FPF challenges! Here's to accomplishing some others: take a photo of you and your homies A) while riding an elephant B) with your mailman C) in front of Antique Archaeology in Nashville D) at your favorite BBQ joint E) at the Pyramids in Egypt F) at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo G) at the Sistine Chapel in Rome or H) in front of your sorority / fraternity house. Of course all other entries will be accepted. To participate email photos to em@todaysletters.com. And most importantly, Happy freaking Friday, Homies!

{Homemade Beef Jerky}

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A few weeks ago a friend asked if I would make him some beef jerky to take with him to Africa. After scouring tons of recipes online I finally chose this one based on the ingredients, reviews, and cost. I promise it will A) make your house smell AWESOME B) satisfy every savory craving you have and C) inspire you to never again buy store bought jerky. EVER. I look forward to making it again before we leave for Uganda!

4 lbs Beef Round Steak (we bought 3.74 lbs at SAMS for $16.54)
1/2 Cup Soy Sauce
4 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
4 Tbsp Liquid Smoke (can find at your grocery store in the BBQ sauce isle)
4 Tbsp Brown Sugar
4 tsp Salt
2 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 tsp Meat Tenderizer (we used Adolph's)
2 tsp Garlic Powder
2 tsp Onion Powder
2 tsp Paprika  

1. Place the meat in the freezer for 2 hrs so it's easier to slice.
2. Take meat out of the freezer and slice into 1/8" strips and layer them in the bottom of a large bowl.
3. Whisk together the soy sauce, Worcestershire, liquid smoke, brown sugar, salt, pepper, meat tenderizer, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika in a small bowl. (Go ahead, stick your finger in the bowl and taste it. You know you want to).
4. Pour liquid over the meat and gently turn using your hands to ensure that all meat is evenly coated. Cover with Saran Wrap and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
5. The next day remove the meat from your refrigerator and arrange on dehydrator trays. (Our 3.74 lbs of meet filled 6 trays).  Dry meat on your dehydrator's highest setting for at least 4-6 hours or until done. (Be sure and rotate your trays every 2 hours).
6. You'll know you're jerky is done when it's no longer pink in the middle and it bends (if it breaks you've overcooked it). ENJOY!

PS, this is the Food Dehydrator we use and love it! Original recipe adapted from here

{Cold Chicago by Humming House}

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Humming House is a new band from Nashville that will soon become one of your favorite sounds; the perfect mix of folk, blues, gospel and bluegrass. Enjoy!

Humming House - Humming House

{Uganda} Africa Update

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Did you know that we might get to meet the little boy we've been sponsoring for the past 2 years? His name is Moses and he lives in Pader which is close to the trade school we will be visiting in Uganda.

Moses' father was killed in battle in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and has since moved to Pader where he lives with his mom and three other siblings. We've been writing him letters and praying for him often these past 24 months. Next month he turns 11 and we'd love nothing more to kiss and hug him if our travel schedule permits. After reading The Hole in Our Gospel, When Helping Hurts, and Kisses from Katie, I'm convinced more than ever that we can truly change the world one child at a time.

You may think that sponsoring 1 child won't really make much of a difference in eliminating world poverty, but it's about so much more than feeding the hungry. Chances are you and I are wealthier than 90% of the rest of the world. We need a perspective shift just as much as those children need a warm meal, school uniform, and the opportunity to get an education. "To whom much has been given, much will be demanded."

Katie often talks in her book about how caring for the poor can often feel like "emptying the ocean with an eyedropper ... just when you have about half a cup full of water it rains." May we not grow weary in doing good as we seek to be faithful to provide for those in need. Let me know if you need information about sponsoring a child and I can connect you with a trustworthy organization.

Love to you, Homies!

{Husband's Letters}

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Husband's Letters: Dear Mrs. Loerke, lately I've had a lot on my plate but you've helped me regain a right perspective when we talk on our runs. Thank you for pointing me towards truth. Dear Emma, remember our trip to Alaska to celebrate our 5 year anniversary? We were the youngest people on our cruise by 20 years, but we had so much fun. I love your adventurous spirit. Dear Medical Spanish, I can only help our Spanish speaking patients so much with my broken attempts to communicate. I'm looking forward to one day saying more than, "Hable mas despacio por favor." (Speak more slowly please). Dear Little (who got 3 letters today), love you more than hanging in our Kammok on a Spring day, paddling at the lake on a Summer afternoon, camping with you in the Fall, and watching it snow on a Winter night.

Over and out,

If you could speak any language in the world what would it be?

{Today's Letters}

Monday, February 20, 2012

Today's Letters: Dear Mr. Loerke, this weekend we slept in, watched a movie, ate a free cheese wheel from Papa Johns, test drove a Prius, read more chapters in this book, went on a run, asked for each other's forgiveness four times, and listened to this on repeat. A great weekend. Dear Oysters, why have I treated you like liverwurst and that weird, gelatinous pate served at dinner parties? You are DELICIOUS! Dear Donald Miller, your book Blue Like Jazz changed my life in college. Here's to seeing your movie on April 13th and to keeping my fingers crossed for an appearance of the sexy carrot. Dear Husband, right now you're working 3 jobs in order to make up for our time away in Uganda. Your ambition and discipline challenges me! Grateful for all you do for our family ...

Happy freaking, Monday Homies! Did you have a good weekend? I hope so! I recently started eating Oysters (thanks to the #15 at Velvet Taco). What's the bravest thing you've ever eaten? And don't forget to check and see if you're one of our winners from last week's giveaway!

{Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!}

Monday, February 20, 2012

Thanks to all 342 of you who participated in our PollenArts giveaway! Please email me your addy if you are one of our winners so Mr. McFeely can deliver your MAJOR AWARD!

First Prize Winner: Kelsey King said ... "These are BEAUTIFUL! I love the three antique bottle shaped owl candles - cute!"

Second Prize Winner: Morgan Paige said ... "Oh man I am loving their shop!"

Third Prize Winner: Ashley said ..."These are so great and I love the story behind their company."

Fourth Prize Winner: Rebekah said ... "Been reading your blog for awhile now. Thanks for sharing art and passion in all of its many forms! Would love to share the warmth through these candles if it should be."

Fifth Prize Winner: Lola said ... "This giveaway is so sweet, I can almost breathe the delicate aroma of beeswax! Mmm!"

Sixth Prize Winner: Elise said ... "I am a fan of anyone who loves to simplify and would love some of these stunning candles"

A special thanks to our sweet friends Peter & Juwels over at PollenArts for being so generous in allowing us to pick 6 winners! If you live near Flagstaff, AZ keep an eye out for our homies traveling around in their 1975 Winnie!

{Bon Iver at AIR Studios}

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Required Saturday morning listening: enjoy living vicariously in the next 24:44 with S. Carey and Justin Vernon. {Hinom, TX : Wash : I Can't Make You Love Me : Babys : Beth/Rest}

Bon Iver - Bon Iver

{Fist Pump Friday!}

Friday, February 17, 2012

To kick off this week's photos we have Janelle, Ty, Molly, Austin, Johnfrank, and Abby who threw fist pumps and leg kicks in the Dominican Republic. They'll be visiting 11 countries in 11 months while traveling with the World Race!

Next meet Liz (far right) and some of her friends from the rural village of Kalavai, Tamil Nadu, India. She spent a week there hosting a day camp for the locals there. Go team blue!

Our next fist pump photo is of 9 year old Gabriel from Greenville, SC who enjoyed a weekend skiing in Snowshoe, WI. Bet it won't be long before this little guy is slaloming in the Super G. 

Lastly, meet Em and Nathan who threw fist pumps last May after tying the knot in Athens, GA. Congrats to you both on celebrating your upcoming 1 year anniversary!

A special thanks to those of you who sent in FPF photos this week. Here's to accomplishing some more: take a photo of you and your homies A) while riding an elephant  B) with your mailman  C)  in front Antique Archaeology in Nashville D) at the Pyramids in Egypt E) at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo F) at the Sistine Chapel in Rome or G) at your favorite BBQ joint. Of course all other entries will be accepted. To participate in FPF email photos to em{at}todaysletters{dot}com.

And, most importantly, happy freaking Friday, Homies! PS, don't forget to enter this week's giveaway! (Entries will be accepted until tonight at midnight).

{The Sea In Between Movie Trailer}

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Reason #483 why we love our friends Josh & Michelle. You can check out their film "The Sea In Between" here. You can also read Josh's guest letters he wrote on our blog here. These guys are like falling into a gigantic easy chair. I promise, you'll love.

{Makr Carry Goods}

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Jason Gregory founder of Makr Carry Goods. His motto: less, but better.

{Today's Letters}

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Today's Letters: Dear Mr. Loerke, last night you traded me the last half of my ice cream in exchange for making the bed for a week. I like your trades. Dear History Channel, after watching one episode of your new show "Mudcats" we were A) reminded why we love Troy from Swamp People B) grew in respect for the flathead catfish C) set the DVR to record the whole series or D) all of the above. Dear Brain Box, yesterday I locked my keys in the car while it was running for the 2nd time this year. Pretty sure this is a sign I need a vacation. Dear Husband, sometimes you like to save things like bottle caps and wax seals off of chocolate bars. You say this is because every dude has to have cool stuff to show his friends when they come over. Reason #989 why I heart Thee.

Speaking of vacations, what's one place you'd like to visit before you die? After watching this movie, I've dreamt of visiting Easter Island. And don't forget to enter this week's giveaway! We'll now be picking SIX winners!

{Holy Giveaway, Batman!} CLOSED!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

In honor of Valentine's Day our friends Peter & Juwels over at PollenArts are giving away some of their hand poured beeswax candles to SIX lucky readers!

Four years ago this husband and wife team traded in their fancy high rise loft for a 1975 Winnebago in search of a simpler life.

Since then they've traveled all over making beeswax candles on their tiny stove in their big red honey pot.

Our first prize winner will take home three antique bottle shaped owl candles. (All of you Chi O's out there better be shimmying across your hardwoods!).

Our second prize winner will take home these two milk & honey candles. (Swoon).

Our third prize winner will take home these three beeswax beauties.

Our fourth prize winner will take home three beeswax inkwell candles

Our fifth prize winner will take home this honey jar candle ... (one of my favorites!).

Lastly, our sixth prize winner will take home this pine cone shaped beeswax candleIn the meantime you can enjoy 13% off their Etsy shop when using the coupon code "todaysletters" at checkout!

To enter, swing by pollenArts Etsy shop and leave a comment below before Friday at midnight. Become one of our Google followers and you can leave two comments, doubling your chances of winning. After all, who wouldn't want to receive a box stamped F-R-A-G-I-L-E from these homies? All six winners will be drawn at random and announced on the blog next Monday.

Happy Valentine's Day!

{A Soft Place to Land by Kathleen Edwards}

Monday, February 13, 2012

Been loving this song by Kathleen Edwards. We had the privilege of seeing her open for Bon Iver last fall, and after last night's Grammys it still looks like her and Justin Vernon are going strong!

Voyageur - Kathleen Edwards

Happy {almost) Valentine's Day, Homies!

Monday, February 13, 2012

This weekend we celebrated Valentine's Day a little early ...

Simple decorations for the biscuit.

A homemade Coconut Southern Comfort Cake

And a feast cooked by the Mister himself: beef tenderloin with roasted shallots, mascarpone mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus. Our bellies were so full and grateful.

We also exchanged a few small gifts which included a gift card to get my nails done. You might think this kind of thing wouldn't bless me (I rarely wear make-up), but the last time I had a manicure was before Tim was in PA school! Honest truth is I can't wait to have Tammy cover my paws in cri-tal gel

Speaking of paws, I gave Tim some Boticario de Havana Hand Creme and Mast Brother's Chocolate for his boca. (You know how Team Loerke feels about the Mast Brothers). We ended the evening by watching this movie and falling asleep on the couch. It was another great low-key Valentine's Day celebration.

Hope yours is just as special! Btw, to all of my single ladies (and men) out there, I highly recommend reading this great article by Cheryl Boyd. A fantastic perspective re: Valentine's Day.


{The Scientist covered by Willie Nelson}

Monday, February 13, 2012

Did anyone else watch the Grammys last night? Loerke highlights included: Adele, Bon Iver, The Civil Wars, Taylor Swift's performance, and this Willie Nelson Chipotle commercial. The only thing I wish they would have done differently was given Nicki Minaj's 4 minutes to The Civil Wars so they could have finished their song! Anyone else agree?

{Now Accepting Sponsors for March!}

Friday, February 10, 2012

Today's Letters receives over 400,000 page views per month (receiving 67,547 page views on our highest day). We'd love to have your blog, Etsy shop, or website listed as one of our sponsors, so just email us for a rate sheet!

In the meantime be sure and check out Patrick Laurent's Etsy shop, Quiet Boy Studio. His hand painted lyrics on vinyl will make you kiss your computer screen.

{Fist Pump Friday!}

Friday, February 10, 2012

To kick off this week's photos we have our sweet friends Lara and Chad who threw fist pumps and leg kicks with their new bambino in front of Antique Archaeology in Nashvegas. You might recognize these guys from this post. Lara and Chad were the couple that found our letter in the Seattle Public Library!

Next, meet Kari who threw fist pumps in Cambodia in front of Angkor Wat, a temple that was built from the 9th to 15th century AD. Kari has currently been serving at an NGO (non-government organization) in India this year!

Our next photo is of Auburn students Hailey, Mary Katherine, and Emily who threw fist pumps and leg kicks after hosting a dance marathon raising over $65,000 benefiting Children's Miracle Network!

Lastly, meet Josh who threw fist pumps and leg kicks while night snowshoeing with his buddies in northern NM. Josh would also like to wish his fiance, Julie, a Happy Birthday!

Happy freaking Friday, Homies! Thanks to Lara and Chad we've now completed one more of our FPF challenges. Here's to accomplishing some others! Take a photo of you and your homies A) while riding an elephant  B) with your mailman  C)  in front Antique Archaeology in Nashville D) at the Pyramids in Egypt E) at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo F) at the Sistine Chapel in Rome or G) at your favorite BBQ joint. Of course all other entries will be accepted. To participate in FPF email photos to em{at}todaysletters{dot}com.

{Iris by All Tiny Creatures}

Friday, February 10, 2012

All Tiny Creatures will be touring with Bon Iver this April. If you live in California, Arizona, Louisiana, or Washington the rest of the world will be living vicariously through you. Get your tickets here!

Harbors - All Tiny Creatures

{Thoughts on Valentine's Day}

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Over the last couple of weeks we've received lots of emails from readers asking about our plans for Valentine's Day. Would you be disappointed if we told you that we're pretty Switzerland about it? As much as we appreciate having a national holiday dedicated to celebrating those you love, we feel like this is something we should be doing every day, not just once a year. That said, we still try and find simple ways to make Valentine's Day special.

Two years ago we celebrated by making Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon and Queen of Sheba chocolate cake. Both were melt in your mouth delicious!

Last year we also stayed home and cooked another homemade feast, followed by a movie at the Loerke Drive-In Theater. Tim made a homemade Valentine and gave me a vintage flash card with my favorite nickname on it and a wooden envelope making template from We Are 1976.

I gave him a chocolate bar the size of his head, some Cardamom Guinness Beer Soap, and this book. Pretty sure he liked the chocolate the best.

Since we're speaking at Merge next Tuesday night, we plan on celebrating Valentine's day tomorrow instead. Tim said he'd throw on his conductor hat and cook this if I get my Betty Crocker on and bake him this. Sounds like a deal to me! Other than that we'll probably just build a fort and watch a movie. In our opinion, the simpler the better! (But this comes from a man who lives in scrubs and his wife who only wears make-up once a year).

How do you plan on celebrating Valentine's Day? Do you have any favorite traditions? Whatever you do, we hope that you find yourself feeling known and loved!

Happy (almost) Friday, Homies!

{Today's Letters}

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Today's Letters: Dear Mr. Loerke, before we met I had never eaten Oreos in a fort, worn boy skivvies to bed, or read Emergency Medicine books about abscesses. Reason #270 why boy roommates are the shiz. Dear Le Creuset, I've always liked your vibrant colors, but your new murdered out Garden & Gun inspired French Ovens are completely swoon worthy. Dear Papa, recently you told me about your plans to grow moon & stars watermelon in your garden. Love you more than spitting seeds off the dock at Beaver Lake. Dear Husband, your new10a-10p shift means I'll be eating lots of cereal for dinner. Thanks for making sure we had an extra gallon of Bessie in the fridge.

Favorite Milk? Team Loerke = Promised Land 2%. Final answer. PS, some of you asked about the book Tim mentioned yesterday in his letters. It's called "Sacred Influence" by Gary Thomas. It's written for women and has quickly become one of my favorite marriage books I've ever read. Be sure and check it out!
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