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what i don't post on facebook

called me paranoid but i'm not posting a big announcement on facebook that i'm off to india for two weeks with John (i.e.; home unattended) so i'll post it here, instead, among friends. :)
we leave tomorrow morning.  last night, a couple friends asked if i was already packed.  i wonder, who are these people who pack two days in advance?  i'm packed with almost 12 hours to spare and i call that an achievement, even if 8 of those 12 hours should be devoted to sleep.  still, that's 4 whole hours i could be packing that i won't be.  THAT is definitely an achievement (for me).
i did a proust-style interview today (got a little distracted there as i read Proust's answers -- i wasn't so deep).  when asked what interesting fact i recently learned, i answered, "the GORUCK didn't break my foot."  keep in mind, we're trekking in india.  a broken foot would majorly disrupt our carefully laid plans.  and we don't need my foot disrupting plans because we have things like the indian airline, kingfisher, to do that.  i walked into work to find out our flight to HP is cancelled for wednesday.  anyway . . . John and i did what could be considered a mental endurance event saturday night to sunday morning.  it also involved a physical endurance aspect where we "yogged" around st. louis for 12+ hours, carrying bricks, "casualties"/people, logs, and cinder blocks.  my tough feet were no match for that physical challenge; i feared a stress fracture.  i was interested to learn my foot is NOT broken, however, and merely a tendon is strained.  thank God!
so, now we're nearly off.  i'll try not to yell at any auto rickshaw drivers.  i'll try to ignore the stares and cell phone photo-taking.  i'll try to stay tuned out of the media and avoid email at all costs.  instead, i'll try to immerse myself in the chaos and splendour of india.  i'll try to soak in every taste, smell, sound, color, and texture.  i'll try to enjoy each moment with all friends.  i'll try to relish the chance to experience india with my husband.  in typing, i'm already gearing up for a very good two weeks!

pillows and an underground dinner

John and I have an ongoing game where John makes the bed and arranges the pillows in an artistic fashion then titles his creation.  He was particularly proud of this installation called Hiding Pillow.  Here's a shot of the artiste with his creation (c 2012).  As John explained it to me, the large pillows are turned around in their quest to search for their young, fellow pillow.  Eagle eyes will be able to spot where the pillow is hiding.

In other news, we attended an Underground Dinner last night.  This underground food craze is all the rage across the US though we've only recently learned of it.  The couple sitting next to us were treated to dinner by their brother who runs underground dinners in Jackson Hole, WY.  The crew that puts on underground dinners in St. Louis is known as entre.  Here's how it works.  We signed up for entre's mailing list and received an email a month ago, asking us if we wanted to join their dinner June 15 or 16.  We signed up for June 15.  Yesterday at midday, they sent us the location and revealed the five course prix fixe menu awaiting us that evening.
The location was Kuhs Farm, known for a three-tiered garden built by German POWs during WWI and their horse rescue program through which we met the great-great granddaughter of Secretariat last night.  The first photo shows John and I on the farm grounds with the confluence of the rivers behind us.  Mercifully, the bluff overlooking the river resulted in gentle breezes to compensate for the 90+ degree weather.  The second photo reveals part of the three-tiered garden.  In the third photo, you can see the May Pole-like decor with Moroccan-themed lights to accent the Moroccan-themed meal.
For all those foodies out there, here's the menu:
signature cocktail: blackberry infused aquavit, moroccan spiced simply syrup, lemonada and mint.
(the menu, is themed around the idea of a summer bbq but with moroccan inspired flavors.)
course one: trio of deviled eggs: za'atar, smoke and vadouvan
course two: watermelon, harissa, chickpeas
course three: chilled pea and mint soup, preserved lemon
-intermezzo- orange blossom water push pop with gooseberries
main: "bbq" chicken with red charmoula, grits and rainbow chard (served family style)
dessert: goat milk panna cotta, allspice candied lemon peel, blueberry and sesame brittle.
And, finally, you can see John enjoying his push pop at the family-style long table where we ate.  John opted for a beer pairing and I went for the wine pairing.  I'll be reviewing the meal and experience on yelp.  John and I agreed, overall, it was four (out of five) stars.  The experience was unbeatable.  Who even knew this place existed so nearby?  It was a mere 30 minutes from our home.  The food was good but there were a number of items that didn't appeal to our palates.  The signature cocktail was aMAZing and definitely worth replicating.  When they say, "moroccan spiced," they mean cinnamon and cayenne.

time for an update

with so much recent activity, it's surely time for an update! here's a re-cap of what the "sensational Spears," as Lisa named us, have been up to . . .
Once John learned that Florida State was going to Nashville to play in the NCAA Finals, he took a day off and drove the four hours to watch. I joined him in the wee morning hours, after an eight hour bus ordeal involving narcotics police hauling a couple guys off the bus in hand cuffs (other than that, the rest of the trip was pretty tame). We LOVED the Grand Ol' Opry and the botanical gardens in Nashville where dogwoods were beginning to blossom and multi-colored tulips covered the grounds.
Mom visited the next weekend and we donned lab goggles and visited "the pit" at the regional semi-finals of a Robotics Competition put on by FIRST. Then we headed to the absolutely gorgeous Shaw Nature Reserve to enjoy spring in full bloom in St. Louis. We were treated to an off-the-beaten-path peak day for bluebells in bloom, covering acres of the forest ground.
My golden birthday (31 on the 31st) was celebrated perfectly with Crossfit, a vegetarian buffet at an anarchist bakery (I thought that was a joke but, really, the bakery is full of anarchist literature that made us ponder how such a system is sustainable), a stroll-hike at a park, and a Golden Gala replete with golden balloons, a pot o' gold, goldfish, fake gold eyelashes, gold lamee, gold hairspray, gold sequined vest, and the list goes on.
We headed to CO last weekend for some late season skiing. We stayed at Keystone and skied A Basin Fri and Breck Sat. I had trouble keeping up with John and could give you any number of reasons for that but I won't bore you. Sat afternoon we headed back to Denver for a night with Donna, sunrise Easter service at Red Rocks, volleyball in Wash Park (much to John's delight), skyping with the Spears, an Easter egg hunt that got rather competitive, and brunch with Donna, Aimee, and Raf.
All in all, life's been REALLY busy with work and these respites have been so needed and appreciated and enjoyed. We just wish all you wonderful friends and fam lived closer!


it's beginning to feel like spring around here -- temps rising (though they never got truly cold this winter), an anticipation building for what's right around the corner, the Hine fam birthday month!
John and i have been enjoying lots of fun activities in our part of these United States known affectionately as "the Lou." we checked out the Blues v. Blackhawks hockey game last week and were treated to the hometown Blues wining against their arch rival Chicago Blackhawks to a sold out crowd. as we left the arena, fans honked their horns three times and other fans cheered back, "let's go Blues!"
we've also been exploring the culinary niche known as paleo. the most recent experiment was beef enchilada cabbage rolls. despite the sound of that, John and i agreed that this experiment was a definite success (provided you go easy on the chili powder). tonight's slated experiment is shepherd's pie. i guess the cat's out of the bag; we do more than cook eggs and chai around these parts.
yesterday, we tried out a salsa class for the first time and finally found "the glue" for which we've been searching for five long months (j/k) when our instructor told us we had to keep our hands stuck to our partner's hands "like glue."
we also checked out The Artist for our five month anniversary and highly recommend it. we finished with some delicious shakes at a local restaurant known as Bailey's Range which is one of the St. Louis Originals. we've enjoyed checking out these local foodee havens and earning points while we're at it.
that's basically a week in the life of the Spears.

a couple quotables

"open your eyes to behaviors you've grown used to that [God] wants you to grow out of" ~Colleen Brown, CRM Lent Devotional

"[Outside America], people make time for relationships. In America, people make relationships fit time." ~John Houmes

shen yun

sunday evening, i witnessed one of the most precise, amazing performances i've seen. shen yun is masterfully choreographed, performed, and costumed. imagine sleeves that extend yards past a dancer's hands that seem to float and hang mid-air as the dancer throws her arms up. imagine jumps a la rudolf nureyev that end in a perfect landing without even a wobble of one's foot. these dancers were MASTERS.
now the really interesting part is that shen yun is also a platform to promote falun dafa. imagine dancers facing a backdrop of a five-story tall buddha. next, the dancers transition off the stage and appear to be flying through the air towards said buddha. i tried to find a video to clarify but all i could find was shen yun promo clips which conveniently omit buddha.
as much as i love dance, it's a bit hard to stomach a religious and political agenda cloaked under the guise of protecting 5,000 year old cultural traditions. still, it's great to see dance in st. louis and even better when it's my husband's idea to see it!


"A human Savior who is free from original sin and never commits sin Himself remains truly human because sin is not inherent to human identity; rather, sin is a later addition that 'de-humanizes' us. Adam was truly human before he sinned (Gen. 1:26-27)." ~TABLETALK, Feb 8, 2012

After reading John Eldredge's Beautiful Outlaw recently, I've wondered if I sometimes miss out on God's view of me as a human made IN HIS IMAGE, rather than merely a sinning but saved human. Eldredge is on a mission to get us to experience the playful, disruptive, extravagant personality of Jesus. That book and passages like today's TABLETALK reflection leave me with that niggling feeling that I may be missing out on something . . .


TEC @ the Railway Exchange Building is my new office space. Arch Grants (I'm not posting the web link quite yet b/c it's under revision and looks pretty archaic at the moment) is my latest project and a team of four amazing individuals pitched in to relocate our entire office for me last night. Here are some photos so you can see the massive piles of office supplies we basically pilfered from an office that went out of business. Ok, full disclosure: we did NOT steal these supplies, we just got them for a steal. Turns out office desks can be pretty darn heavy but thankfully John and the Arch Grants' intern, Carter, were on-hand for the heavy lifting. John's turning into quite a mover after helping a Nepali family on Sunday relocate a few blocks away. So anyway, this is where I'm now spending my days. No views of the Arch but I do have a window that looks onto an old building with lions' and dogs'(?) heads attached (look closely since my computer camera doesn't zoom).

beginning to feel more like home

before you worry, st. louis will probably never be "home home" for either of us but i had the thought last night that john and i were beginning to make ourselves at home in this city. a couple vignettes that come to mind . . .

john watching the football game with a few guys from church;
wandering about downtown, getting to know my area better and appreciating the local architectural marvels like the Old Cathedral and Old Courthouse;
actually having people to hug or say, "hi" to when we go to church.

i'll keep building the list because it helps to recognize how blessed we are to be here!

home tour

Many have been asking about a tour of our home so here ya go. I'll walk you through it . . .

First you enter our entryway. We hung
onto a couple small tables our landlord left in the house and have a favorite verse hanging near family photos.
Through the door on the left of the entryway, you enter the kitchen. We've had to be creative with storage and use the island shown and another island that came
with the home for pots and pans then there's another cupboard in the hallway,
opposite the powder room where we store mugs, our veggie steamer, plates, bowls, etc.
Moving through the door on the
right side of the kitchen photo, you enter the hallway with the cupboard and the pow
der room which is really a fancy name for a half bath but since the home was built in 1921 it is actually correct to call it the powder room (not pretentious at all!).
Moving through the hallway, you enter the dining room where we also have our Christmas tree. There's a ton of light
in our home during the day which I love. We've decided next weekend we'll take down the tree but we're still enjoying it with all our new Christmas decorations.
On the right side of the dining room shot, there's a doorway that op

ens into the living room where John's studying and watching
the Florida State basketball game simultaneously. John was a student manager of the team while at FSU so there's a natural affinity. We've lined all our Christmas cards up on the mantle in the living room.
To the right of the living room photos,
there's a doorway that leads back into the entryway. Our stairway has a couple landings, typical of homes in our neighborhood.
The movers had a few choice words for this arrangement when they arrived with John's household goods; their words were less than complimentary. We, however, enjoy the "old world charm" of our home.
The room into which you're looking at the top of the stairs is
our bedroom. We just got our bed frame from World Market and John assembled it the day before we left for Christmas. The quilt is the king-sister of the quilt Mom talks about in the long-version of the wedding video.
On the right side of our bedroom's picture, there's another
doorway that leads into the spare bedroom. Some of my lovely belongings have found a home. This is the first home in which I've dared to lay out the Kashmiri carpet I bought while with Lauren in Gulmarg, Kashmir. John and I took a trip to a local antique mall to find the desk and my ballerina paintings adorn the walls in this room. I also love that we have four (nonfunctioning) fireplaces. They add to that old world charm.
Along the same right wall as the guest bedroom, facing the st
reet, and to the right of the top of the stairs is the office cum Florida State shrine. This is actually the second bedroom as the guest bedroom does not have a closet so it's technically not a bedroom. The office has a closet that's been dedicated to gear, everything from a wet suit and headlamps to a skateboard deck.
Opposite the office, across the landing at the top of the stairs is our full bathroom. It's a unique design in that the shower is behind a half wall situated behind our sinks. Yes, we do have a toilet in here, too, which is to the right of the photo, opposite the sinks.
And I'll finish the illustrious tour with another odd element of this old home: the walk-in closet, complete with (drafty) window and all. This is situated immediately on the left as one ascends the stairs, directly across from our bedroom.
Thanks for taking the tour of 1109 Lami (pronounced lamb'-eye by the locals) St. in the Soulard neighborhood of Saint Louis.
Fun fact: Soulard boasts the second largest Mardi Gras celebration after New Orleans and John informs me that the Mardi Gras flag is now flying proudly in Soulard since last night kicked off the official start of the season.

reason for survey

Yes, Kelly was right. The survey derived from a game of Apples to Apples where Kelly and I held that fundraising was more violent than Dracula (who Grant and John thought surely more violent than fundraising). Due to the low response rate, John might have to pose this question to his facebook friends. For a moment, however, consider those evening fundraising calls or images of opponents used to raise funds for political campaigns or the marketing tactics of organizations that prey upon the elderly. Surely those could be deemed violent, at least at times. Furthermore, fundraising really exists whereas Dracula is merely fictitious so any supposed violence is pretend. There. I rest my case.