19 December 2009

Hello, White World

Rachel and I share a bedroom, and today we woke up at precisely the same moment, thanks to a passing snowplow. Gooood morning, Mr. Plow. You are not very melodious.

But yes, there's white stuff everywhere. Perfect day for it-- no one needs to go to work, our shopping is done, and we're free to stay cozy inside (or bundle up and play outdoors). I had plans to drive a little bit this afternoon, but it was nothing urgent, and I'm happy to look outside and marvel at the beauty of God's creation. How imaginative He is, and how blessed we are to have eyes to appreciate His beauty!

Also the wedding is in two weeks. ::squeal::

15 December 2009

Some Poetry

Although I've completely slacked off on weekly posts, here is some mellifluosity (is that a word? yes? no?) to poeticize your day. I like this one.

"The Taxi" by Amy Lowell

When I go away from you
The world beats dead,
Like a slackened drum.
I call out for you against the jutted stars
And shout into the ridges of the wind.

Streets coming fast,
One after the other,
Wedge you away from me,
And the lamps of the city prick my eyes
So that I can no longer see your face.
Why should I leave you,
To wound myself upon the sharp edges of the night?

10 December 2009

Flawed Faces

Girls, if you've ever felt-- and you probably have-- that you have a flawed face, these three links are for you.

Beauty Skin Deep by Suzanne Gosselin

Distorted Beauty by Carolyn Mahaney

Face Value by Jessica Inman

I have struggled with severe skin rashes since I was 12, and it hasn't been much fun. Nevertheless, I know that God has used this "flaw" to sanctify me and to highlight the folly of relying on outward beauty. It's easy to think that physical imperfections make you less valuable, less worthy of love. But when looking to the Cross of Christ, when meditating on God's constant care and His promises to keep you until the end, you see undeniable proof that you are loved and cherished by the Lord of the universe. That's astounding. That's life-transforming. That puts deeper joy in your heart thatn any cosmetic product can.

01 December 2009

A great deal of excitement.

Now that it's December, I can say this: I'm getting married next month!!!

::cue exhilarated bouncing::

Um, that's about all I have to say right now. Everything is going very well, though. Dress? Check. Flowers? Check. Rings? Check. Honeymoon plans? Check. Awesome mother who plans awesome things for an awesome reception? Checkity check check.


12 November 2009

For Tea Dorks

If you are not a tea dork, don't even bother with this post.

But if you are a tea dork...

LOOK LOOK LOOK! This pyramidal infuser is so cool! And this one is even better! And Republic of Tea's special blends for children are incredibly adorable! And serving tea in glass is always awesome!!!

The end.

11 November 2009

"He Chose Our Heritage For Us" (Psalm 47)

Believer, if your inheritance is meager, you should be satisfied with your earthly portion; for you may rest assured that is is best for you. Unerring wisdom ordained your lot and selected for you the safest and best condition . . . Some plants die if they have too much sunshine. It may be that you are planted where you get only a little, but you are put there by the loving Farmer becaues only in that situation will you produce fruit unto perfection. Remember this: If any other condition had been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there. You are placed by God in the most suitable circumstances, and if you could choose your lot, you would soon cry, 'Lord, choose my heritage for me, for by my self-will I am pierced through with many sorrows.' Be content with the things you have, since the Lord has ordered all things for your good. Take up your own daily cross; it is the burden best suited for your shoulder and will prove most effective to make you perfect in every good word and work to the glory of God.

Taken from today's reading in C.H. Spurgeon's Morning and Evening.

06 November 2009

Delightful Discoveries of a Recent Date

These are very nice, funny, beautiful, or otherwise worthy-of-sharing things I've discovered lately (somewhere between cake testing and dress alterations).

Mad Craft Group. They sell all sorts of wonderful papers and inks and other crafty goodness. It's like A.C. Moore, but cheaper (and free shipping on orders over $35). This is where I ordered the lovely embossed paper for our invitations.

Stemless wine glasses. Highly nontraditional, but whatever-- I think these are sweet. They don't tip over like those silly stemmed ones, which is an important consideration in a household with lots of active children, who seem to spill something at almost every meal. And anyway, they look cool.

Gorgeous letters! This is a blog by a graphic artist, who posts a decorative capital letter (you know, like illuminated manuscripts would have) every day. It's fabulous. Go look.

Pastry Paris. Pictures of Paris and dessert. Come on, how much better can you get?

22 October 2009

Yes, I'm Alive

Sorry about the distinct lack of posts. Apparently, planning a wedding in less than three months is quite time-consuming. Who knew?

In any case, we have all the big pieces in place (date, locations, and People to Help Pull This Off). I even have my dress! Now it's time for the fun details (like orchids, silk ties, and miniature quiches).

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? . . . Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

These verses from Matthew 6 have helped keep me sane, calm, and joyful through the first couple weeks of wedding nonsense. :)

p.s. This book looks amazing. I want.

03 October 2009

For those who care to know...

1. I'll be at the Outer Banks until October 10. So no blog posts until then, in all likelihood.

2. We got engaged yesterday. :)

01 October 2009

In Which I Get Chopped

I have this alarming habit of slicing myself open in the kitchen. Alarming, that is, to everyone but me. I'll be happily mincing garlic or butterflying chicken, and then I look down at my hands . . . Oh bother. Blood.

I usually don't notice the cut until I see it. It rarely hurts (due probably to the extensive scarring, burning, and lemon-juicing to which I've subjected my hands over the past six or seven years, a paring knife could do some pretty serious damage and I wouldn't feel a thing). So there I am in the middle of dinner prep with the snow peas wilting and the pasta boiling madly, and I need to run around to find a Band-aid or, at the very least, a paper towel to wrap around the offending finger.

It happens at least once a week. My poor family and boyfriend are horrified every time I make a mis-slice. But really, it's not a bit deal: no infections, no pain, and I've never gotten blood on the food. Promise.

Epic fail at "lily-white hands," though.


Also in the chopping arena, I (the hairdresser actually) snipped off at least two inches yesterday to give me a thoroughly-modern-Millie bob, or something close to it. I like it. My hair hasn't been this short since freshman year of college, when I whacked my former ballerina's mane. In any case, it will be awfully convenient for the beach next week (off to the Outer Banks from October 4-10).

30 September 2009

My Favorite Things #10

Orange slippers from LL Bean (especially when I have an LL Bean credit card and can rack up the points with which to obtain said slippers for free). Fuzzy and warm and cute! What more could you want?

Lip shimmer from Burt's Bees. Much better than lipstick, in my opinion, and available in thirteen beautiful colors.

Cold weather that calls for down vests and potato chowder. :)

28 September 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: A Throwback

"Where the Sidewalk Ends" by Shel Silverstein

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

Sometimes--a lot of times, actually--elementary school gets the best literature. On my list of Favorite Books Ever, supposed "children's" literature takes up more than its fair share of space.

24 September 2009

In Which I Make Several Discoveries

A couple weeks ago, Jared and I went to Culturas, the tapas restaurant at El Serrano on Columbia Avenue. I had never tried tapas before, but my parents had gone to Culturas the month before and I was pretty excited when we walked through those carved mahogany doors. (Is there anything cooler than heavily ornamented wood? I submit that there is not.)

Well, I discovered that tapas are awesome, especially when they are really expensive and eaten by candlelight on a Spanish-style balcony overlooking a fountain-and-shrubbery filled courtyard. (A SHRUBBERY!) The avocado frito was something of a revelation. Who knew you could fry avocado? Or serve it with balsamic vinegar and wasabi? I sure didn't.


Yesterday I was making Italian bread, and when I walked into the kitchen to place the beautifully shaped, slashed, and risen loaves into the oven, I realized that smoke was coming from the vent. Oh, bother. Sure enough, the oven had a fire in it, thanks to a very buttery pie crust the day before and very buttery scones a few days prior. Ergo, discovery number two: the postponement of oven-cleaning is a horrible idea.

The bread turned out just fine, though. After the fire died, I scraped the bottom of the oven and baked those shaped slashed risen loaves until they were golden and steaming. So there.

22 September 2009

My Favorite Things #9

Today, my two favorite Hot Beverage Makers.

A glass infuser teapot. Put a heaping tablespoon of loose-leaf tea in the infuser basket, pour in hot water, wait a few minutes. Voila, excellent tea with a beautiful presentation. My glass teapot doesn't look exactly like this, but close enough . . .
A French press coffeemaker. My parents have the largest size (I think it's the largest anyway) and I have a smaller one. Again, it is super easy to use and looks classy in the meantime; measure out coarse-ground coffee, pour in hot water, stir and let steep. Then gently push down to strain out the grounds. I do like glass.

21 September 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: I have spread my dreams

"Aedh Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven" by William Butler Yeats

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams.

Watched 84 Charing Cross Road last night with Mom and Dad. A good thoughtful movie-- and Anthony Hopkins' character quotes this poem toward the end.

17 September 2009

Thankful Thursdays: Chocolate and Chopin

I guess the title says it all. They are very comforting things to have on a cold, cloudy day.

15 September 2009

My Favorite Things #8 (and a recipe)

Using Facebook in Spanish. It's really funny to see how things translate, and it helps the Spanish channels of my brain to flow a little more smoothly.

Putting fudge sauce (homemade, of course) in the freezer. Two good things about this: first, you always have it ready for ice cream sundaes, cheesecake drizzling, or chocolate-dipped pretzels. Second, you can eat it with a spoon. Thick fudgy deliciousness. Not that I'd, uh, know that from experience.

While we're on the topic, here is the Recipe of the Week as well. Bonus post!

Dark Chocolate Fudge Sauce

1/2 c. butter
1 c. heavy cream
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. cocoa, sifted

In small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter in cream.
Stir in sugar until completely dissolved.
Whisk in cocoa gradually, until there are no lumps.
Bring to boil, stirring all the while to prevent scorching.
Reduce heat to low; cook on low for about ten minutes, stirring frequently.
Let cool. Serve or freeze (or both).

This is my favorite fudge sauce. It is not overly sweet, but packs a powerful chocolate punch. And yes, health-conscious friends, this sauce has a lot of calories. Suck it up.

14 September 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: Our Secret, Only Ours

"At a Dinner Party" by Amy Levy

With fruit and flowers the board is deckt,
The wine and laughter flow;
I'll not complain-- could one expect
So dull a world to know?

You look across the fruit and flowers,
My glance your glances find.
It is our secret, only ours,
Since all the world is blind.

I think that unspoken confidence-- the communication of trust and affection, without the burden of words-- is one of the greatest treasures a relationship could yield. It's good just to be quiet with the ones you love.

11 September 2009

"Let Them Drink Art": Another Reason to Love Tea

I'm a big fan of Portland Studios, and I just found this archived post on their blog. Painting with tea? Inherently awesome.

If I ever write a children's book, I want these guys to illustrate it.

10 September 2009

Thankful Thursdays: A Nice Duo

Two things today: one for me, one for someone else.

First of all, my students are awesome. They're so darn excited about literature and writing, and if anything, they ask too many questions. I would much rather have that than apathy, even when I have seventeen thousand emails in my inbox every morning demanding clarification on some exceedingly minor point. lol :) And second, Jared is now working full time, which is an answer to (lots of) prayer. We've seen so much of God's perfect timing and provision this summer; He is gracious beyond what we deserve.

09 September 2009

Recipe of the Week: She Sells Stuffed Shells...

. . . except she doesn't sell them. She just makes them and serves them to the Italian-food-loving people of her acquaintance.

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells

12 oz. box jumbo pasta shells
2 T. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 egg, beaten with fork
2 c. ricotta cheese
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 T. minced fresh basil
1/4 t. ground black pepper
1/4 t. salt
24 oz. jar spaghetti sauce

Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 9x13 pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Heat olive oil in skillet on medium-high heat. Saute onion and garlic until translucent; transfer to large bowl.
Add thawed spinach and beaten egg to bowl, and stir to combine.
Add cheeses and seasonings, reserving 1 c. mozzarella. Stir to combine.
Meanwhile, cook shells according to package directions (I undercook them by one or two minutes). Drain well, and toss with a few teaspoons of olive oil to prevent sticking.
Fill each shell with about two tablespoons of cheese mixture. Place filled shells in prepared pan; you might need to use a small pan as well, depending on how large your shells are and how closely you pack them into the first dish. :)
Spoon spaghetti sauce over shells (don't drown them).
Cover with foil and bake 40 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with reserved mozzarella, and bake 5-10 more minutes.

08 September 2009

My Favorite Things #7

Ziploc bags. Goodness, they have a million uses, from shredded lettuce to Latin flashcards. They make packing so easy, because clothing is compressed once you squish out the air and seal the bag. They fit into corners where solid boxes don't. They also make barriers where needed: wet swimsuits stay away from the rest of your suitcase, while onions stay away from the less pungent inhabitants of the refrigerator.

Besides, ziploc bags come in many handy sizes, so you can always find one to fit, whether you have a long baguette or a tiny collection of hairpins. I took a box of them to Turkey, and it was one of the best decisions of the trip.

No, I am not being paid by a plastic-bag-company to promote their products. haha :)

07 September 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: The Comfort of Providence

It fortifies my soul to know
That, though I perish, truth is so;
That, howsoe'er I stay or range,
Whate'er I do, Thou dost not change.
I steadier step when I recall
That, if I slip, Thou dost not fall.
-Arthur Hugh Clough

03 September 2009

Thankful Thursdays: Absolutely Gorgeous!

IT'S SEPTEMBER. The weather has changed accordingly. Pale foggy mornings and crisp autumn breezes and apples ripening by the side of the road? Yes please. Weather like this has always been my favorite, and a lot of my most cherished memories are linked to it; with every cold snap or reddened leaf, an instinctive excitement rises in me, and I rush to grab a scarf and take a walk in the beauty outside my door. I don't want to see the thermometer above 70 degrees again for a good long while.

Besides, when you consider that we have a year-long pass to Longwood Gardens, you can see why I'm reveling in the gorgeousness of the season.

01 September 2009

My Favorite Things #6

Coffee that is not from Starbucks . . . or as my dad calls it, Charbucks. That stuff is burnt and needs cream, sugar, and a shot of hazelnut syrup to make it drinkable. I'll take Green Mountain, Seattle's Best, the coffee at Panera, or any of the good little coffee shops around here over Starbucks. Yes, I will drink Starbucks if there is absolutely nothing else. But only if I need caffeine, and only with that cream, sugar, and hazelnut. The cinnamon dolce lattes are pretty good, actually-- but it's kind of sad that you need to dump a lot of flavoring in your coffee. You should be able to drink it straight, without doctoring it up.

31 August 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: More Tennyson

Some nice cheery Victorian verse to start off the week.

The Splendour Falls

The splendour falls on castle walls
And snowy summits old in story;
The long light shakes across the lakes,
And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

O hark, O hear! how thin and clear,
And thinner, clearer, farther going!
O sweet and far from cliff and scar
The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!
Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

O love, they die in yon rich sky,
They faint on hill or field or river,
Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
And grow for ever and for ever.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.

Tennyson was such a jolly optimistic fellow.

In the mind of these melancholy Victorian poets, splendour always belonged to the past, when peace and beauty and religious faith were realities. Now in the cynical modern age, the splendour is dying. It is giving place to agnosticism, industrial filth, and social upheaval. Nobody believes in "Elfland" anymore. I think that in this case, you can use Elfland as a code name for just about anything, from class structure to Christianity . . . anything that depends on faith.

30 August 2009

Recipe of the Week: Po-ta-toes.

Just watched The Two Towers again. I love Sam and Gollum's tater exchange: "Po-ta-toes. Mash em, boil em, stick em in a stew . . . lovely big golden chips with a nice piece of fried fish. Even you couldn't say no to that." "Oh yes we could. Spoiling nice fish! Give it to us raw and wriggling. Keep nasty chips!"

Anyway, you may or may not like wriggling fish, but these taters are darn good.

Olive Oil Potato Salad 

2 lbs. redskin potatoes
1 small green pepper, diced
1/4 c. minced red onion
1/4 c. olive oil
3 T. white wine vinegar
2 large cloves garlic, minced
minced fresh parsley
minced fresh basil
minced fresh oregano
salt and pepper

Scrub and quarter potatoes. Boil until just tender, and drain well. Place warm potatoes in large bowl with green pepper and red onion. Pour olive oil and wine vinegar over top, and toss to coat. Add additional olive oil as necessary (you'll need more than 1/4 cup, but I don't measure exact amounts). Add garlic and remaining ingredients to taste. Toss to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.

This is one of my favorite potato dishes. Unlike mayonnaise based potato salads, it won't go bad if it sits out in hot weather. Use lots of parsley and salt!

27 August 2009

Thankful Thursdays: The Living God

This morning I read 1 Kings 17-19 in my devotions. These chapters hammer one theme over and over again: the Lord is a living God.

"As the Lord your God lives . . . and the Lord listened . . . the Spirit of the Lord will carry you . . . the Lord, He is God . . . and the hand of the Lord was on Elijah . . . and behold, the Lord passed by."

God is both alive and active. Or as the writer of Hebrews would put it, he "exists, and rewards those who seek Him." I am so grateful that the Lord our God lives; unlike the host of pagan gods out there, he hasn't wandered off into another corner of the universe, turned into a constellation, been vanquished by a rival deity, or fallen asleep. He creates, listens, acts. That's a God in whom we can have faith. That's a God we can obey, follow, and proclaim to the world.

25 August 2009

My Favorite Things #5

The Kuhn Rikon skillet in my mother's kitchen. I covet that skillet-- no sticking, even heat, perfect size.

Slow Rise Bakery's Four Seed Cookies. Seriously, these things are amazing. Thick and chewy and sweet and crunchy and how about that, they're even good for you. If you ever want to make my day, you could get me one, yes? Stauffer's sells them in the bakery section. Very convenient. Very nice. Not that I'm dropping hints.

Pro Remarkable mascara from Cover Girl. It comes in a sweet purple tube. It doesn't clump. The colors are deep and natural. And finally, it's waterproof . . . but still washable. That, my friends, is a neat party trick.

24 August 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: Welcome to the Victorian Age

"Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold

The sea is calm to-night,
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; -- on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanch'd land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The sea of faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Matthew Arnold was a sort of cultural critic in the early Victorian era, and he put his finger on many of the tensions boiling beneath the surface of that prosperous, dignified society.

Problem number one was their loss of faith, which-- just as a retreating sea reveals barnacles and dead fish and limp seaweed-- left the ugliness of existence exposed on the beach, without hope for redemption. Stemming from that came a loss of direction, because without faith in God and in the Scriptures, it was hard to tell right from wrong or to discern the purpose of human life. Hence the "ignorant armies" and "confused alarms."

At the same time, a lot of really amazing things were happening in the world, most of which should have cheered the Victorians up, like expanding empire and technological advances and social reforms and more easily accessible education. But without God, that "land of dreams / So various, so beautiful, so new" was a nightmare. Arnold recognized that. Sadly, he and most of the eminent figures of his day refused to believe. Their best attempts at consolation consisted of beautiful art, increased control over nature, and somehow, love.

Yeah, that's an uplifting love poem for you. "Babe, the world's falling apart and I don't know what anything means and our life will probably be hell, but would you pledge yourself to me all the same?"

My online English classes start on Wednesday, and one of them is British Victorian Literature, so I've been thinking about this a lot lately. :) Brit Vic is a wonderful era in literary terms, but it's rather depressing.

21 August 2009

Recipe of the Week: Chocolate Excellence

Okay, full disclosure. This torte is neither cheap nor quick nor easy-peasy to make. What’s more, it will probably break your calorie bank for the next two weeks. But forget all that-- it’s one of the best desserts I know. With its dense, creamy, truffle-like texture and intense (not too sweet) chocolate flavor, you can’t go wrong.

Just go make it already.

Dense Chocolate Torte

16 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
½ c. butter
5 eggs, separated
1 T. vanilla
¼ c. powdered sugar

Prepare a springform pan: coat with nonstick cooking spray, dust with cocoa, and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.
Preheat the oven to 250.
Melt chocolate and butter over medium heat, stirring until smooth.
Whisk together egg yolks and vanilla in large bowl.
Pour chocolate mixture into egg yolk mixture, and stir to combine.
Beat egg whites to soft peaks; add sugar gradually, beating to stiff peaks.
Fold stiff egg whites into chocolate/egg yolk mixture, one third at a time. Stir gently until whites are dispersed.
Pour into prepared springform pan, and use a spatula to smooth the top.
Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, or until set and toothpick comes out almost clean.
Cool completely in pan, then remove from pan and transfer to cake stand. This torte is moist and will sink as it cools.
Dust with powdered sugar, garnish with fresh strawberries or raspberries, and serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Jared and I made this for Irene’s birthday on Monday. :) It was a hit there, and will be at your house too.

20 August 2009

Thankful Thursdays: All Sorts

1) I got a car! It is not cool, it is not new, and it is not going to be the envy of the neighborhood. But it runs well, it gets good gas mileage, and it was cheap-- so there. It's a black Honda Accord and I am very pleased to have it sitting in the driveway. :)

2) Simon's birthday today. How thankful I am to have all these wonderful siblings, and to watch them grow more mature in Christ with each passing year.

3) Yesterday was Luke's last day of work, which means that he will actually be around for the next week-and-a-half (until he leaves for Grove City on the 29th). This is a very good thing.

19 August 2009

Free Shakespeare. Come one, come all.

If you like live theatre . . .

If you like Shakespeare . . .

If you like free entertainment . . .

Then have we got a show for you. The West End Shakespeare Company, a group of very talented and energetic high schoolers, will perform Much Ado About Nothing on Monday, August 24 at 7:00. The show is at 1125 Columbia Avenue, Lancaster PA.

Admission is FREE (the company is requesting donations of canned goods and other non-perishable items, which they will give to Water Street Rescue Mission).

These kids have been working really hard on the play; I should know, as two of the principal characters live in my house and we all have Shakespeare lines coming out of our ears. ;) Anyway, it's going to be a great show, so you should come. All the cool people will be there.

18 August 2009

My Favorite Things #4

Crunchy crispy Wasa crackers, with peanut butter or tuna salad or just plain and unadorned. Looks like nasty cardboard health food. Tastes like GOOD.

Nature's Gate shampoo and conditioner. :) Part of the reason I like it is because of the great scents. I always go to the store and stand there smelling things for twenty minutes before deciding what to buy; it's my cheap version of aromatherapy, I guess.

Black picture frames (especially when they are cheap). Simple and classy whether with color or b&w photography. By the way, A.C. Moore always has a 50% coupon in the Sunday newspaper, which is helpful for framing. And last week JC Penny's had a lot of frames 50% off, so if you hurry you might still find some . . .

17 August 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: Clever Ogden

Ogden Nash is one of my favorite poets. He's ridiculous.

"A Word to Husbands"

To keep your marriage brimming
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you're wrong, admit it;
Whenever you're right, shut up.

"Introspective Reflection"

I would live all my life in nonchalance and insouciance
Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance.

"Reflection on Icebreaking"

Is dandy
But liquor
Is quicker.

13 August 2009

Thankful Thursdays: Getting Things Done

You know, there's nothing like that "ahhh" feeling after you finish a project that's been simmering on the back boiler for a while, eating away at your peace of mind and making you feel guilty about doing anything else. You've been mulling over it for so long, wishing it would just finish itself already, and then bam! goodbye project.

In my case, I completed my class plans for both High School Composition and Introduction to Composition this week. That, my friends, was a very good feeling. Now I just need to polish Brit Vic and Intro to Lit a little bit, and do some heavy-duty work on Creative Writing. [Edit: Creative Writing was hammered out this afternoon. Oh snap. Now looming literature lurks luridly on the larboard . . . why larboard and not starboard? Don't ask me.] Should keep me busy until classes start on August 26.

Other things-that-got-done this week:
-haircut (all short and layered and bouncy now!)
-sold several unwanted books that were taking up room on my desk
-finally had an ice cream date with Shannon and Elizabeth Anne (and people, if you have not yet gone to Carmen and David's Creamery on Prince Street, I'm telling you that you MUST go right now, and get the lemon ginger cookie ice cream or the chocolate orange sorbet, or even better, both)

11 August 2009

My Favorite Things #3

My new favorite dessert, gelato affogato (Italian for "drowned ice cream"). Scoop vanilla ice cream or gelato into bowls. Top each scoop with a good strong shot of espresso, a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream, and grated dark chocolate. Serve immediately.

Oh baby, this is good. Jared and I made it for my 22nd birthday party last Friday. Between the espresso and cream, it's a two-person operation, especially when you're serving eleven people and trying not to melt the ice cream . . .

10 August 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: Baseball, of all things

So Jared took me to a Phillies game on Saturday. I know, you're all thinking Rebekah? Baseball game? What a joke. But to my surprise, I loved it. From the national anthem to the crisp green grass to the greasy stadium pizza, it was lots of fun and I'd totally do it again. You learn something new every day . . .

Here is this week's poem. It is quite long ("Casey at the Bat" by Ernest Lawrence Thayer) so I've provided an external link.

06 August 2009

Thankful Thursdays: Birthday!

I'm a palindrome again. Woo!

Today I'm thankful that God has sustained me yet another year. Well, "sustained" implies a mere holding pattern. So maybe that's not the right word to use, because it's been more vivid and dynamic than that. He has upheld me in my faith (a miracle in itself given my stubborn tendency to stray), caused me to grow in godliness, and dumped a truckload of blessings on my undeserving head.

It's been one of the most surprising years of my life-- also one of the most dramatic, I think. Good thing I like surprises. Good thing the Lord has all my drama under control. Good thing I can trust Him with anything, anywhere, at any time.

"The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken."
-Psalm 16

All right, speaking of 22, I find this poem amusing. It's a bit cynical, but maybe I'm just cynical too. It comes from the marvelous A.E. Housman.

When I was one-and-twenty
I heard a wise man say,
'Give crowns and pounds and guineas
But not your heart away;
Give pearls away and rubies
But keep your fancy free.'
But I was one-and-twenty,
No use to talk to me.

When I was one-and-twenty
I heard him say again,
'The heart out of the bosom
Was never given in vain;
'Tis paid with sighs a plenty
And sold for endless rue.'
And I am two-and-twenty,
And oh, 'tis true, 'tis true.

03 August 2009

My Favorite Things #2

I had fun listing "a few of my favorite things" last week, so I decided to keep going. No, I'm not fishing for birthday presents anymore. Haha :) I just enjoy Sharing Useful Objects, as Pooh might say . . . along with some Useless But Nevertheless Entertaining Objects to spice it up. Who knows? Maybe these will become some of your favorite things.

1) Justin's Nut Butter, especially the almond. Very tasty.

2) Sharpie Ultra Fine pens. They're pretty much the best.

3) Magnetic poetry kits, particularly this one and this one. As if I needed an excuse to spend more time in the kitchen.

Mellifluous Mondays: A man will ne'er quite understand

"Woman" by Coventry Patmore

A woman is a foreign land,
Of which, though there he settle young,
A man will ne'er quite understand
The customs, politics and tongue;
The foolish hie them post-haste thro',
See fashions odd and prospects fair,
Learn of the language How d'ye do?
And go and brag they have been there.
The most for leave to trade apply
For once at Empire's seat, her heart,
Then get what knowledge ear and eye
Glean chancewise in the life-long mart.
And certain others, few and fit,
Attach them to the Court and see
The Country's best, its accent hit,
And partly sound its Polity.


A clever fellow, that Patmore. He was another of the Victorian litterati and a friend of Tennyson. One wonders which category he fit into: the foolish braggarts, the chancing traders, or the sincerely attached?

30 July 2009

Thankful Thursdays: A certain nonexistence

Today I am grateful that something doesn't exist.

I am grateful that this thing has never existed.

I am grateful that this thing will never, ever exist.

Today, I am grateful that God-- unlike fallible humanity, and particularly the female half of it-- does not have mood swings.

"I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
-Psalm 16:7-11

28 July 2009

Okay, for realsies.

Apparently, some people would like an actual birthday list (how demanding of them). So here you go. To quote Maria, "These are a few of my favorite things."

Poetry, like this or this.

Sugar, like this or this.

Stoneware, like this or this.

And a bit of bling, like this or this.

Now I want to go shopping. Oh dear.

27 July 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: Sea Monster

"The Kraken" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Below the thunders of the upper deep;
Far far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides; above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumber'd and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

Kraken are mythological sea monsters, supposedly big and fierce enough to pull a man o' war to the bottom of the ocean. The legend seems to have begun in twelfth-century Norway and was probably based on real sightings of giant squid, or perhaps abnormally large octopi. Wherever Kraken came from, they're pretty sweet (and more than slightly terrifying). I like sea monsters.

Tennyson liked melancholy metaphors. I'm thinking that in this poem, the Kraken represents either man's subconscious fears and superstition, or the ugly truth about the world's evil nature. We drown it out but at the Last Judgment, where all things are revealed, it will come to light for everyone to see.
Tennyson was confused, like most Victorians . . . clinging to some Judeo-Christian framework, but doubting so much that his Christianity wasn't worth the name.

26 July 2009

Picnic Food

Our church holds weekly picnics on our farm property, which is a great opportunity for fellowship with the other members. It's also really nice to invite guests along! Our property is beautiful and the weather has been perfect for picnics.

Anyway, each family brings a side dish and dessert, and here's what I brought this week: a simple cucumber salad with cukes out of our garden (I never peel them, and sometimes I omit the sugar or vinegar), and a very moist buttermilk berry cake made with wineberries and a pinch of nutmeg.

25 July 2009

Filling the Bottomless Pit

Last night Jared and I made dinner for several friends, which is always a good time, especially since they were all hungry young men-- and as Hannah Stone would say, feeding hungry young men is my spiritual gift. :) At any rate, I take great pleasure in 1) making food and then 2) watching it disappear at an alarming pace. I like to think that I have contributed to filling the bottomless pit that is the stomach of the male populace.

While we're on the topic, my brothers (and my boyfriend) kind of remind me of this fellow:

Or this one:

Or this one:

23 July 2009

Thankful Thursdays: Quotable Brothers

I am grateful for my witty, ridiculous, and altogether wonderful brothers. Taken together, they are one of the greatest blessings in my life. (Yes, even when they blare distorted fiddle music through the basement, layering it with off-tempo jazz and slapping on some Howard Shore for good measure. Sheesh.)

Quotes from the past several weeks:

"Ahh! We lost our pants!"
-Simon and Matthew

"I love drinking whitewash."

"I felt like a German soldier in a Jewish furniture shop."

"Do you have any contact juice?"

"Yeah, I wasn't really eating the watermelon. I was just driving my mouth down in horizontal lines."
-Simon (after a watermelon eating contest)

"Get your foot out of my lap!"

"Do you like my tower of dishes?"

"It's okay. I'm used to picking my nose."

"Mmm. It is very tasty and munchable."

"I'll never laugh again, until I laugh at yooou . . ."
-Matthew (parodying a sappy love song)

"Okay, then we can put the dartboard in the kitchen."

"What did you do to yourself, Rebekah? You will never be pretty!"

22 July 2009

Birthday List

Like my mother, I tend to have pricey tastes. (No, really? That's a shocker.) See, I was thinking about potential birthday items. And I realized that the only things I really want are MONDO expensive.

Like seven-quart stand mixers.

Or razor-sharp Japanese knives.

And oh right, a car.

Ah, well . . . someday, when I dig up a treasure chest in the backyard or discover a rich uncle in Luxembourg, or when the proverbial ship comes in, I will have all the mixers and knives and cars I want. (And then I will realize that stuff doesn't satisfy me anyway, so I'd better learn to be content right now, with exactly what the Lord sees fit to give me!)

20 July 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: Les Miserables

Jared took me to see Les Mis at the Fulton on Thursday, which was very sweet of him, and all the more fun because it was a surprise. :) A excellent show. A more excellent boyfriend. So . . . an enjoyable evening all told.

Anyway, Eponine is one of my favorite characters, and I love this song. I always wish she could have married Marius rather than losing him to Cosette; not that I dislike Cosette, but I'm such a skeptic that I don't buy the love-at-first-sight thing, and I think that loyal, quiet, constant Eponine should have gotten Marius instead. Grr. The beauty of tragedy and all that.

"On My Own"

And now I'm all alone again
Nowhere to turn, no one to go to
Without a home, without a friend
Without a face to say hello to
But now the night is near
And I can make-believe he's here

Sometimes I walk alone at night
When everybody else is sleeping
I think of him and then I'm happy
With the company I'm keeping
The city goes to bed
And I can live inside my head

On my own
Pretending he's beside me
All alone
I walk with him 'til morning
Without him, I feel his arms around me
And when I lose my way,
I close my eyes and he has found me

In the rain
The pavement shines like silver
All the lights are misty in the river
In the darkness, the trees are full of starlight
And all I see is him and me forever and forever

And I know it's only in my mind
That I'm talking to myself and not to him
And although I know that he is blind
Still I say there's a way for us

I love him
But when the night is over
He is gone
The river's just a river
Without him, the world around me changes
The trees are bare and everywhere the streets are full of strangers

I love him
But every day I'm lonely
All my life I've only been pretending
Without me, his world will go on turning
The world is full of happiness that I have never known

I love him
But only on my own

16 July 2009

Thankful Thursdays: Visitors!

To my great delight, Laura Calderone and Hannah Mahan were at my house for several days this week. It was wonderful to see them and to catch up on life in person. We filled the time with tea, berries, and apple crisp; discussions of grammar, unicorns, and ecclesiology; and spending as much time as possible on the front porch. Also introducing one another to good new music. Also getting semi-sunburned.

Thanks for coming, girls. You are always a blessing and encouragement to me, and I'm so glad we have been able to continue our friendship after college. I will definitely come to Annapolis this fall, Lord willing and the creek don't rise. :)

14 July 2009

Pickle Love

Mmm . . . I love me some pickles. Crispy fresh sour vinegar garlic crunchity crunch pickles. That's summer to me, and this recipe is so easy that we've always got a batch in the fridge.

I usually double or triple the recipe, and when the pickles run low, just add more vegetables to the liquid. :) If you like sweeter pickles, you can increase the sugar.

Summer Refrigerator Pickles

1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1/3 cup white sugar
2 T. salt
2 t. whole cloves
1 t. whole peppercorns
1 t. whole mustard seed
1/2 t. whole celery seed
1/4 t. ground ginger
1 large garlic clove
sliced cucumbers, baby carrots, cauliflower, and whatever else you feel like pickling

Stir together all ingredients except vegetables; make sure the sugar dissolves completely.
Place vegetables in a large plastic or glass container (something with a lid).
Pour pickling liquid over vegetables. They should be completely covered.
Refrigerate pickles and eat at will . . .

Different vegetables take different amounts of time to be ready. Cucumbers take about a day, maybe two, while carrots and cauliflower need three days. They get less crisp as they go along.

13 July 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: In Word and Thought and Deed

Sonnet XXI, taken from "Sonnets From the Portuguese" by Elizabeth Barret Browning

Say over again, and yet once over again,
That thou dost love me. Though the word repeated
Should seem a “cuckoo-song,” as thou dost treat it.
Remember, never to the hill or plain,
Valley and wood, without her cuckoo-strain
Comes the fresh Spring in all her green completed.
Belovèd, I, amid the darkness greeted
By a doubtful spirit-voice, in that doubt’s pain
Cry, “Speak once more—thou lovest!” Who can fear
Too many stars, though each in heaven shall roll,
Too many flowers, though each shall crown the year?
Say thou dost love me, love me, love me—toll
The silver iterance!—only minding, Dear,
To love me also in silence with thy soul.

I like this one. Browning asks for verbal confirmation, but also for sincerity of heart, and for deeds that prove the declaration. I suppose she's asking for the same breadth of love that we are commanded to give the Lord: heart, soul, mind, strength.

(I was at my cousin's wedding this past weekend. Hence the mushiness of this post. :) It was a lovely wedding, by the way, very joyful and God-centered.)

09 July 2009

Thankful Thursdays: Location, Location, Location

A few reasons why I love living in Southern Lancaster County, PA, during the summer.

1) Green. Green grass, green trees, green sumac and cornstalks and soybeans. Leaves everywhere, and plenty of rain to sustain them.

2) Fresh produce sold just down the road . . . down every road! Blueberries, zucchini, cucumbers, raspberries, corn, bell peppers, green beans, you name it. I love to cook, as everyone knows, and I'm blessed with such a crazy abundance of fresh ingredients.

3) Birds and deer and butterflies and squirrels. Yes, even though they have their downsides, critters make me happy.

4) Fireworks in all directions during Independence Day weekend. Rednecks are patriotic. ;o)

5) Winding roads are so much more interesting than grids on right angles.

08 July 2009

To Alter When It Alteration Finds

Read this post from Abraham Piper's blog, 22 Words.

It put me in mind of Shakespeare's sonnet on constancy in love:
Love is not love
That alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.

07 July 2009

Nerdiest Cool Thing Ever

Haha, oh man, this is amazing. Judith gave me a Shakespeare Globe as a graduation present, and I just put it together yesterday. Get this: ten-inch 3D cardboard globe, in four colors, crisp ink, and quotations from Shakespeare all over it. I kid you not. But not just any quotations. They're cartographical quotations about India and the Orient, about Spain and the Azores, about ocean currents and tropical winds. All in the correct spot on the globe, so that (for example) Antarctica has lines about "thick ribbed ice" and "frozen mountain-tops."

Plus there's a sheet of paper that lists every place that Shakespeare uses the words "globe," "world," and similar terms. Ahh . . . I can't stand the awesomeness. Maps maps maps. And SHAKESPEARE!!!

Why yes, I majored in English. How could you tell?

Anyway, to see pictures and to order your own Shakespeare Globe, visit this link.

06 July 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: Summer Fruit

"Blueberries" by Robert Frost

Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb,
Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum
In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!
And all ripe together, not some of them green
And some of them ripe! You ought to have seen!

Our entire family (plus Jared) went blueberry picking down at Spring Valley Farm last Friday. It's been a tradition for years; picking your own is a bit more expensive than buying a twenty-pound box at the grocery store, but if you do it yourself, you're guaranteed to get good ones, without bugs or leaves or shriveled rejects. Besides, it's a lot of fun! We met up with the Odells and had a great time throwing berries at one another, arguing over who had found the biggest blueberry, and having berry eating contests.

Oh, and we picked some too.

ALSO: gift cards are happy things.

AND ALSO: I love teaching kids how to write.

02 July 2009

Thankful Thursdays: Patience

This week I want to give thanks for patience.

I am grateful that God is patient with my stubborn, sinful heart. That Rachel and Mark wait patiently for me to finish work so that I can play games and read books to them. And that Jared has patience with, well, everything. (It's rather amazing. I don't think I would put up with my emotional tempests and feminine flutterings and crazy outbursts for more than a week. But here we are...)

May God give me more patience of my own!

01 July 2009

Bread Fabulosity

Easy, quick, cheap, and delicious. There are no excuses: you must make this bread. Or get someone to make it for you.

1 1/2 cups warm water
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (I used some whole wheat as well)
1 tablespoon instant "rapid rise" yeast
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano

1) Grease a 9x13 pan with cooking spray, and drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil in the bottom. I like glass pans for this.

2) Combine remaining ingredients in mixing bowl, and beat at high speed with an electric mixer for 60 seconds. I used the Bosch; a Kitchen-Aid would be great.

3) Scoop the sticky batter into the prepared pan, and use your fingers to push it into the corners. You may want to oil your fingers so the dough doesn't stick.

4) Cover the pan with a towel,and let it rise at room temperature for 60 minutes, till it’s become puffy. And oh baby, it WILL be puffy. The dough triples in size (at least).

5) While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

6) Gently poke the dough all over with your index finger and add toppings of your choice: definitely a drizzle of olive oil, plus pizza seasoning, and maybe some cracked pepper.

7) Bake the bread till it’s golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes.

8) Remove it from the oven, wait 5 minutes, then turn focaccia out of the pan onto a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. (Note: we all liked this better after it had cooled. So make it ahead and serve with spaghetti, ravioli, gnocchi, minestrone, roast beef, grilled chicken, or what-have-you.)

p.s. I don't think "fabulosity" is a word, but I liked its sound better than "fabulousness."

HT: King Arthur Flour. I only made a few very minor adjustments. For a blog post on this recipe with step by step pictures and instructions, check here.

30 June 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: Psalm 138

I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.

On the day I called, you answered me;
my strength of soul you increased.
All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O Lord,
for they have heard the words of your mouth,
and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
for great is the glory of the Lord.
For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly,
but the haughty he knows from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and your right hand delivers me.

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.

I'm so grateful to God for providing Scripture at the perfect time. This psalm answered many of the anxieties or weaknesses that had been filling my heart over the past several weeks. As I was reading it, I could hardly believe that there was actually a psalm that said all of this at the same time. How kind of the Lord to direct me to this chapter. :)

25 June 2009

Thankful Thursdays: Major and Minor

Major: I have been getting more and more inquiries for the classes I teach in the fall. This is really encouraging, and I'm grateful for God's provision in that area.

Minor, but more entertaining: On Monday Mom and I decided that I needed a haircut. So away we went with scissors and comb. It didn't quite look right, so we played around some more. Then it looked kind of weird, so she cut another half inch off. And then egad, it looked horrendous. Great, now what? Fortunately, we made one final adjustment (which involved hacking another half inch) and now everything is just peachy. Thank goodness for that. For a while I was having visions of a pixie haircut as a last act of desperation. Miraculously, however, it's very cute and flippy . . . and a good deal shorter than before.

23 June 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: Summertime

It's finally summertime! In honor of the season, and because I am tired of my pasty white skin, I went outside to roast myself yesterday. It worked, and I managed to strike the balance between "not quite tanned" and "horribly sunburned." I do enjoy sunshine . . . and bluebells, and blooming hedges, and bees. In short, all the things mentioned in the poem below.

Unfortunately, its woebegone author is too lovestruck to enjoy summer. Poor fellow. He can't even eat normally; and that is a sad state of affairs, indeed.

"Summer" by John Clare (1855)

Come we to the summer, to the summer we will come,
For the woods are full of bluebells and the hedges full of bloom,
And the crow is on the oak a-building of her nest,
And love is burning diamonds in my true lover’s breast;
She sits beneath the whitethorn a-plaiting of her hair,
And I will to my true lover with a fond request repair;
I will look upon her face, I will in her beauty rest,
And lay my aching weariness upon her lovely breast.

The clock-a-clay is creeping on the open bloom of May,
The merry bee is trampling the pinky threads all day,
And the chaffinch it is brooding on its grey mossy nest
In the whitethorn bush where I will lean upon my lover’s breast;
I’ll lean upon her breast and I’ll whisper in her ear
That I cannot get a wink o’sleep for thinking of my dear;
I hunger at my meat and I daily fade away
Like the hedge rose that is broken in the heat of the day.

21 June 2009

Just A Few Reasons Why I Love My Dad

Because he works hard. Dad knows so much, and no matter what problem confronts him, he puts that knowledge to good use. Behold the masterful packing job he did when bringing me home from school; you never knew an engineering degree could come in so handy, huh?

Because he knows how to have fun, and he makes sure that everybody else is having fun too. While in Maine, he took the younger kids out in the canoe several times, so they could experience the lake along with the "big people." You can just pick out the canoe and kayak in the picture below . . .

Happy Father's Day :)

17 June 2009

Thankful Thursdays: That To Which I Am Addicted

I'm posting early because I may not have time tomorrow. :)
Okay, maybe I shouldn't give thanks for being addicted-- haha. But now that I'm hooked, I'm awfully glad the following things exist:

TIC TACS. Also ORBIT GUM. I love minty things that come in small portable quantities.

MY WATER BOTTLE. I feel rather lost without carrying water with me. Ever since my trip to Turkey, I've been a little camel, always guzzling water and stashing it in my purse or backpack.

CLASSICAL MUSIC. It's great for homework, cleaning projects, washing dishes, planning classes, dancing, dinner parties, and just about everything else. Pandora comes in handy here. My "Yo-Yo Ma" station gets a lot of use.

DOWN VESTS. Also PASHMINA SCARVES. If I'm going to be an icicle all the time (which it seems that I am), I may as well be stylish about it.

CAFFEINE. I'll take it in any form. Coffee, tea, or chocolate. You know that Kristen Chenoweth song "Taylor the Latte Boy?" That's me. Caffeine makes me happy happy happy.

Luke took the picture below while we were in Winter Harbor, a tiny and beautiful town in Maine. We found a great cafe with coffee and freshly baked pastries, and there was much rejoicing.

Incidentally, if you have never heard that "Latte Boy" song, you should. It's hilarious. Look it up on YouTube.

16 June 2009

Poor and Needy

Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are toward us: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee. If I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered . . .
Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The Lord be magnified.
But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.
-Psalm 40

I'm going through the Bible chronologically this year, and Psalm 40 showed up this morning, with perfect timing. After coming back from Maine, my teaching responsibilities hit me full in the face and I also got sick. So I feel extremely "poor and needy," wondering how I'm ever going to plan these classes out, and how I will be able to devote enough time to the summer tutorials while trying to structure all the stuff that begins in the fall, and if I can possibly spend more time with people instead of with my laptop, and when I will stop catching random bouts of flu.

"Yet the Lord thinketh upon me."

That is a comfort like no other. "Many, O Lord my God are . . . thy thoughts which are toward us." His thoughts are merciful and good toward His children. If it's His will, I can accomplish all of this on schedule, do it well, and do it with joy. He knows exactly what's going on. Therefore I will "say continually, The Lord be magnified."

15 June 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: Down By the Sea

We ran off to Maine for a week, hence no posts. Imagine, a house without internet connection! But it was lovely. We were on a small lake with canoes, kayaks, and suchlike amusements. Also Acadia nearby, so plenty of crashing waves and giant rocks to climb, which makes everyone happy. Some rain, mostly sun, and a lot of ice cream throughout the week. Couldn't ask for much more than that.

I started early, took my dog,
And visited the sea;
The mermaids in the basement
Came out to look at me.

And frigates in the upper floor
Extended hempen hands,
Presuming me to be a mouse
Aground, upon the sands.

But no man moved me till the tide
Went past my simple shoe,
And past my apron and my belt,
And past my bodice too,

And made as he would eat me up
As wholly as a dew
Upon a dandelion's sleeve -
And then I started too.

And he - he followed close behind;
I felt his silver heel
Upon my ankle, - then my shoes
Would overflow with pearl.

Until we met the solid town,
No man he seemed to know;
And bowing with a mighty look
At me, the sea withdrew.

-Emily Dickinson

04 June 2009

Thankful Thursdays: Visitors

We've had so many houseguests and dinner guests in the month since I have been home-- kind of crazy. I have loved seeing the Hillsdale folks, along with friends from home, and hosting these dear people whether for a few hours or a few days.

Here are the people we have had in our house, all in less than four weeks: Kathryn Williams, David Wagner, Emily Fisher, Richard and Lois Sensenig, Anastasia Ealey, Keaton Christiansen, Allen Zarcone, Tom Cox, Nathan Pullmann, Ray and Irene Randolph, Thomas Roe and his dad, the Bigley family, the Odell family, and the Howard family (the Odells' cousins).

(Jared doesn't count as a guest anymore. He is over here too often for that.)

Oh yes, and I know it's not Thursday, but I was too busy hostessing to post yesterday. The guys in Augmented Fourth stopped by for dinner, singing, and a brief night's sleep before they drove off in the wee hours of the morning, headed to DC to sing at the Kirby Center. It was wonderful to see them on their mad dash through the lower 48. Safe travels, gentlemen.

28 May 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: Work

"To Be of Use" by Marge Piercy

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who stand in the line and haul in their places,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

I found this wonderful poem by reading an article in the NYT. The Times piece is about "real work," as opposed to "cubicle work," a theme that weaves itself all through Piercy's poem.

This thought resonates deeply with me. I appreciate the humility and patience evident in those who "jump into work head first / without dallying in the shallows." Too often, I myself am a mere "parlor general" frittering away moments that could be used for real, rewarding labor.

Thankful Thursdays: J People

This past weekend at the NEXT conference in Baltimore, over 3000 young adults were blessed by wonderful worship (led by Bob Kauflin), teaching (from such men as D.A. Carson, Sinclair Ferguson, and C.J. Mahaney), and fellowship (with one another and with the risen Savior!). It was excellent in every way. I know that all I learned about Christ's preeminence and power will continue to filter through my mind, affecting my life for a long time to come. I'm glad that the Lord plants seeds of change, not just working through big dramatic "bolts of lightning" but also laying the foundations for slower growth.

Anyway, thankfulness time. I could pick a lot of things, because NEXT was chock full of God's kindness. But I am particularly grateful for the joyful growth which occured in the following important relationships, with people whose names all coincidentally begin with the same letter: Jesus, Jared, and Julia. :)

27 May 2009

Mellifluous, Um, Wednesday

"Sea Fever" by John Masefield

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

I was in Baltimore all weekend at the NEXT conference (wonderful on all counts, by the way). Happily enough, we stayed only a few blocks away from Inner Harbor. So we got to eat there several times, enjoy sea air and seaweed smells, and wander around the docks at random hours of day and night. There's nothing like looking out to sea.

21 May 2009

Thankful Thursdays: A Beautiful Week

1) Adam and Linda Chamberland's wedding on Sunday. Beautiful in its Christ-centered ceremony, thoroughly Scriptural vows, and those gorgeous flowers: I'm convinced that you can't go wrong with gerbera daisies and hydrangeas.

2) Hiking on Tuesday with Jared, Julia, and David: enjoying God's beauty as revealed through nature (rich green forests and powerful, tumbling cascades of water). And conversation with those three is always a beautiful thing . . .

3) Emily is here for the weekend! And she's beautiful inside and out. :)

18 May 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: Continuing On

"I So Liked Spring" by Charlotte Mew

I so liked Spring last year
Because you were here; --
The thrushes too --
Because it was these you so liked to hear --
I so liked you.

This year's a different thing, --
I'll not think of you.
But I'll like Spring because it is simply Spring
As the thrushes do.

I'm not sure whom Charlotte Mew had in mind when she wrote this. It was obviously a very close friend, whether romantically linked or not; isn't it interesting how we come to value things by their association with friends? A tree, a piece of cake, or a baseball game can mean much more to us because we once experienced them in a certain person's company.

In any case, I admire Mew's determination to enjoy spring despite her loss. Springtime has its own beauty, a grace from God that we can appreciate regardless of our particular difficulties.

16 May 2009

This is me.

Need advice? Need cookies? Got you covered. I only took 12 academic credits each semester, but I guess I had 6 credits of Underclassmen Counseling on top of that . . .

It was a joy to do it, though! Only by God's grace :)

15 May 2009

Homemaking Is Not For Pansies.

That ought to be evident to anyone with a brain, of course. But in case you weren't convinced, here is an excellent reason: bathroom sinks clogged with hair.


And here's another great one: scrubbing bloodstained sweaters. Or this: four children throwing up almost simultaneously. Or even this: keeping the refrigerator and pantry stocked. Do you know how hard it is to plan meals, write a thorough list of ingredients, keep track of everything in the cupboards, remember which brand of granola Bobby likes, buy the right amount of sour cream so it doesn't spoil before you use it, and make sure that nobody drinks the orange juice that you needed for the cranberry sauce?

Nope. Homemaking is definitely not for pansies.

14 May 2009

Thankful Thursdays: Back

As of Sunday, I am back from Hillsdale for good.

As of yesterday, Luke (he of the shaggy hair and Frisbee prowess) is back from Grove City.

Daddy is back from his business trip to Chicago.

And finally, my six-year-old brother Mark has discovered a new talent: giving back massages. I am his most enthusiastic customer.

11 May 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: Something of the Old

A limerick composed on the car trip home from Michigan. This is for Oakley, a sandwich shop down the street from Hillsdale's campus.

Since Saga gets old pretty quick,
And of its entrees we grow sick,
We just head down the street
To Oakley, where we eat
Sandwiches with good stuff piled thick.

06 May 2009

Thankful Thursdays: Bittersweet

This song by the Mexican rock band Reik perfectly expresses the pain I feel at saying goodbye to everyone at college. In sum: when you love deeply, leaving wounds you deeply. The more good memories, the more trust and understanding you've built up over the past four years, the greater the difficulty of departure. So though this is technically a love song (duh, it's in Spanish, what else do they ever write about?) it still fits the situation very well.

Me duele amarte
Sabiendo que ya te perdi
Tan solo quedara la lluvia
Mojando mi llanto
Y me hablara de ti

Me duele amarte
Los sueños que eran para ti
Se pierden con cada palabra
Con cada momento que espere vivir
Me duele mas imaginar
Que tu te vas y dejaras
Detras de ti
Tu ausencia en mis brazos
Me duele tanto sospechar
Que ni tu sombra volvera
Para abrigar mi alma en pedazos

Me duele amarte asi
Hasta morir
Lanzandome a la nada viendote partir
Me duele aquel Abril
Cuando te vi
Por vez primera y dije que eras para mi
Me duele amarte tanto

[It hurts me to love you,
Knowing that I have already lost you
If only the rain could stay,
Drowning my weeping,
And if only it could speak to me about you

It hurts me to love you
The dreams that were for your sake
Are lost with each word,
With every moment that I expect to live
It hurts me more to imagine
That you will go and you will leave
Behind you
Your absence in my arms
It hurts me so much to imagine
That not even your shadow will return
To shelter my soul, all in pieces

It hurts me to love you this way,
Until I die
Throwing myself at nothing, watching you depart
That April hurts me now,
When I saw you
For the first time, and I said that you were for me
It hurts me to love you so much]

And now everyone is thinking, wait a minute, Rebekah. Isn't this Thankful Thursday? Where is the joy? Why so glum? Yes, yes. I know what day it is. Give me a moment.

Here's why I am actually glad to struggle with my departure. In this case, you see, pain is a proof of affection. And therefore I know that there is genuine love between me and my friends here. If it were easy to leave, wouldn't that be sad in itself?

As things stand, it is certainly not easy . . .

05 May 2009


I finally finished my final final: it was for Dr. Gamble, "Western Heritage Since 1600."

After blazing through twenty short IDs, I wrote the essay portion on the ironic effect of anthropocentricity upon Western culture, focusing upon Darwin (as the starting point) and Solzhenitsyn (as the concluding critic). Rather than liberating or empowering humanity, the elimination of God's authority has actually degraded us. That's evident through all the things we read this semester. Without God's guidance or faith in immortality, we lack purpose; we fear trials; we flee pain in sheer cowardice; we treat one another disrespectfully; we miss out on "spiritual" life because we're so fixated on "rational" life. Completely independent humans, in sum, are less than human.

I can't believe I have taken my last college exam. Were I a crying sort of person, I'd be crying right now. As it is, I just feel rather forlorn.


On a lighter note, though, here's the limerick I wrote for Dr. Gamble on the inside of today's Blue Book:
There once was a senior neurotic
Who slaved for professors despotic.
They gave such long tests
She got overly stressed
And so guzzled down antibiotic.

04 May 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: A Goodbye Sort of Poem

"The First Day" by Christina Rossetti

I wish I could remember the first day,
First hour, first moment of your meeting me;
If bright or dim the season it might be;
Summer or winter for aught I can say.
So, unrecorded did it slip away,
So blind was I to see and to forsee,
So dull to mark the budding of my tree
That would not blossom, yet, for many a May.

If only I could recollect it! Such
A day of days! I let it come and go
As traceless as a thaw of bygone snow.
It seemed to mean so little, meant so much!
If only now I could recall that touch,
First touch of hand in hand! Did one but know!

It's my last full week on campus. Thinking back over four years, I realize that with many of my close friends, I have no recollection of our first meeting: my impressions, what we talked about, where we were. That's okay. A friendship is no less complete if its beginnings have been forgotten.

Still, it would be nice to know. Precision of memory can provide milestones, markers, specific points at which to say "Do you remember when we first walked over this bridge?" or "Do you remember our first class in that tiny moldy stuffy room in Kresge?" It is easier to feel that you've come full circle if you recall where the circle began.

30 April 2009

Thankful Thursdays: Looking Forward

These are all the wonderful things I have to look forward to in the next 10 days.

-Finishing our Wives & Daughters marathon
-Finishing finals forever and ever
-Throwing away and/or burning old papers
-Giving people graduation presents and cards
-My very last meal at Saga
-Walks outside once the rain goes away
-Tea and brunch with little sisters
-Tea and brunch with some pretty amazing juniors
-Voice, piano, and organ recitals from Tricia, Cameron, Kathryn, and David
-Shakespeare in the Arb: The Taming of the Shrew, huzzah
-Rummaging through closet and finding random things I had forgotten about
-Exploring my desk drawers and finding more random forgotten things
-Dinner with Lambda Iota Tau at Dr. Freeh's
-Dinner with music department seniors at Prof. Holleman's
-Dinner with the honours seniors and Dr. Raney
-Dinner with Judith and the Whitley RAs
-Celebrating Gretchen's birthday with an ice cream adventure
-Celebrating Joy's engagement with, well, who knows what . . .
-End-of-semester orchestra concert
-Lots of baking in order to use up my remaining yeast, sugar, and eggs
-Swing dancing a few more times
-Finally finally finally seeing my parents and siblings and Jared and Grandma NEXT SATURDAY!

I'm sure I have forgotten some things, but wow, that is quite a list. I am an incredibly blessed woman.

28 April 2009

At Last

I can't believe the semester is over, or that I will never take a class at Hillsdale again. I'm trying not to think about the immensity of Life After College, and instead, am thanking God for how much I have learned during the past four years here.

These are the last things written in my notes for each class this semester.

Western Heritage Revisited
Discussion of "Letter to my Children" by Whittaker Chambers
"Western culture now lacks a moral will. Either it lacks a purpose and will altogether, or its purpose is a depraved one. We have lost a conviction to do good; we have no morally acceptable purpose. What does Communism do? It gives us a will, a purpose . . . To reject it, therefore, we need more than reason, which only supports it. Our soul must revolt if we are to stand against Communism. The soul of humanity must be resurrected if we are to oppose the new rational system. We can't oppose it with its own weapons. Conviction of soul is necessary to reject ideology. Capitalism is just another materialist ideology; we need Christ."

Utopian Fiction
Discussion of "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein
"Humans have a spirit: this is what humanizes our intellect and body, unites them and rescues us from what Walker Percy calls 'angelism-bestialism.' Men need chests, to quote C.S. Lewis. Men need a soul to combine our angelic intellect to our animal bodies . . . Where do we get our human personhood, then? If not from biology alone, if not from social conditioning alone, where does our free will come from?"

Oral & Written Spanish
Discussion of "Dos palabras" by Isabel Allende
"Usos buenos de las palabras: ensenar, hacer alegre, dar esperanza, expresar belleza o amor, comunicar la verdad. Palabras pueden herir o ayudar. Son poderosas y necesitamos usar este poder con cuidado, en una manera positiva. La noche, la oscuridad, es como la vida del coronel antes de que llegue Belisa. Ella trae luz consigo, en sus palabras y el amor."

[Good uses of words: to teach, to make people happy, to give hope, to express beauty or love, to communicate the truth. Words can wound or help. They are powerful and we must use this power carefully, in a positive manner. Before Belisa arrives, the colonel's life is like night and dark obscurity. She brings light with her, in her words and in love.]

History of England (Quote 1)
Discussion of Britain's House of Lords
"Pretending that tradition never changes is a sure way to destroy that tradition. It will get overrun by time, which does change whether you like it or not. So you must be flexible with form if you intend to preserve the essence."

History of England (Quote 2)
Discussion of the Prime Minister's Role
"Personality is a package for ideas . . . you can't win if you wrap ideas in newspaper. To be prime minister, you had better be a good speaker and a charismatic leader. If you're boring, you drag down the entire party, for which you are supposed to be the representative. It's not your reputation alone that is on the line, but the whole party, because as its leader, you are its embodiment."

Western Heritage Since 1600
Discussion of "A World Split Apart" by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
"Modernity has run away from the old norms. Yet it is always an option to live life well. Often this means living an ordinary and 'small' life. Why is this so much harder than grandeur? As young idealists, we often fail to see how much of life is taken up by mundane things. The great challenge, then, is to live the mundane life well. To live it all well. To seek God's glory everywhere-- to be a vessel of His grace in all life's details, whether high or low."

27 April 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: Blooming

"Loveliest of trees" by A.E. Houseman

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

There aren't any cherry trees around here, but we do have magnolias, and they're pretty amazing. Though the tops broke off in a heavy snow last month, the lower branches are blooming away with the most joyful springtime gusto, filling the air with magnolia perfume. When the petals fall on the brick sidewalk, it looks like one big bridal procession.

23 April 2009

Thankful Thursdays: Levaquin

So . . . I don't like medicine. I think I've taken a grand total of ten aspirin tablets during my entire collegiate career (that includes when I got my wisdom teeth out). I prefer suffering a headache and chills for a few days to getting the flu vaccine. And antibiotics are for losers.

Well, this semester I was a big loser, because I have been on antibiotics twice! Yikes. Most recently, I contracted cellulitis, inflammation of the skin cells. Hence my face looked like a puffer fish for a couple days.

Thanks to a very strong antibiotic (Levaquin) my face is just about back to its normal proportions. The stuff gives me a slightly upset stomach, but that is better than an infection spreading to my brain or something.

20 April 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: College-Appropriate

"A Timely Consumption of Drink" by James Kenneth Stephen

There are people, I know, to be found,
Who say, and apparently think,
That sorrow and care may be drowned
By a timely consumption of drink.

Does not man, these enthusiasts ask,
Most nearly approach the divine,
When engaged in the soul-stirring task
Of filling his body with wine?

Have not beggars been frequently known,
When satisfied, soaked and replete,
To imagine their bench was a throne
And the civilised world at their feet?

Lord Byron has finely described
The remarkably soothing effect
Of liquor, profusely imbibed,
On a soul that is shattered and wrecked.

In short, if your body or mind
Or you soul or your purse come to grief,
You need only get drunk, and you'll find
Complete and immediate relief.

For myself, I have managed to do
Without having recourse to this plan,
So I can't write a poem for you,
And you'd better get someone who can.


Now, I'm no teetotaler. Mojitos make me happy, steak tastes much better with Merlot, and rum is so very delicious. Oh fiddlesticks, I love booze . . . but only when I'm sober enough to enjoy it. After that, it's no fun. Overall, then, I concur with this cautionary poet: as a cure for pain or a route to happiness, alcohol leaves just-about-everything to be desired.

Unfortunately, quite a few people at college haven't learned this yet.

18 April 2009

I Am Weird.

As if we needed any more evidence of that . . .

But to prove the point, it has recently been brought to my attention that I eat some very strange things. Crunchy pears. Unsweetened yogurt. Raw spaghetti noodles. Slightly burned toast. Carrots with peanut butter. Apples with ricotta cheese. Orange marmalade on a spoon. Frozen brownies, frozen grapes, frozen muffins. Cold chili, cold fettucini, cold pancakes. Kidney beans for breakfast. Pickles and chickpeas for lunch. Sometimes I open a can of tuna and eat it plain, without salt or mayo or anything.

Where did I get such odd tendencies

16 April 2009

Thankful Thursdays: Rescues

1. The sun rescued me from rainy day depression by actually coming out today, along with warm breezes. No-jacket weather.

2. Vanessa rescued me from paperless despair, by brainstorming with me for an hour (and finally inspiring me to write about the failure of Pauline love in Brave New World).

3. Gwen rescued me from befuddled indignation with my computer by explaining that my new power cord has the wrong voltage. Not a happy discovery, but at least I know what's going on now.

13 April 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: Miraculous Awakening

"The Year's Awakening" by Thomas Hardy

How do you know that the pilgrim track
Along the belting zodiac
Swept by the sun in his seeming rounds
Is traced by now to the Fishes' bounds
And into the Ram, when weeks of cloud
Have wrapt the sky in a clammy shroud,
And never as yet a tinct of spring
Has shown in the Earth's apparelling;
O vespering bird, how do you know?
How do you know?

How do you know, deep underground,
Hid in your bed from sight and sound
Without a turn in temperature
With weather life can scarce endure
That light has won a fraction's strength,
And day put on some moments' length,
Whereof in merest rote will come,
Weeks hence, mild airs that do not numb.
O crocus root, how do you know?
How do you know?