30 April 2012

all who call upon you

"Be gracious to me, O Lord,
   for to you do I cry all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
   for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
   abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
Give ear, O Lord to my prayer;
   listen to my plea for grace."
-Psalm 86:3-6

Gardening is good for prayer. I'm easily distracted by my home. I sit on the couch, determined to keep perfectly still and spend time in prayer, but then I see a dusty windowsill-- I should dust it. I hear the dishwasher stop-- time to unload it. I smell lilacs outside-- which reminds me that I ought to water my indoor plants.

While I dig in the dirt, however, my hands are already occupied and my mind is free to talk to God. I often do, literally, talk; it's more like a conversation that way. And I can sort out my thoughts before Him. I am glad that God doesn't demand that I have neat phrases to say to Him, or that I manufacture a happy attitude before coming into His presence. Usually my prayers are messy. I repeat myself. I ask questions and I complain a lot. If I feel sad or confused, well, that's exactly how my prayers sound.

Yet I know that He wants my heart, no matter how messy it is, and that He uses those times to refine it. What better place to take my grief or complaints than before His merciful throne of grace?

So even though weeds are a sign of the Curse, I'm often glad to see another patch lurking in my flowerbed, because it gives me a few more minutes of undistracted prayer. I would like to grow in self-discipline so that I can pray inside just as well as outside, but for now I am grateful for a garden.


Recently I've been overwhelmed by the number of people telling me that they are praying for me. For us. To have a baby. Some of these people are family, others are close friends, yet so many more are unexpected: some I barely know, but they found out about our struggle somehow and are lifting us up in prayer.

Many of you ladies (and gentlemen I might add) read this blog. If that's you, please know that your prayers are an incredible encouragement to me and Jared. Thank you so much.

27 April 2012

Weekend linkage

Jared: I passed my realtor's exam!
Me: Hurrah! Um . . . I already bought a celebratory bottle of wine.
Jared: Wow. You have confidence in my abilities.
Me: Yeah well, it's like that time I bought a wedding dress before you'd even proposed.

. . . that's a good story.


We do have a lot of beautiful books, but some of them are tattered and creased. So these hilarious fold-out bookshelves would be the perfect solution. Right?

A post on demanding things from God . . . Biblically. I just found this blog and I love it.

"Being Biblical More Than Logical: Or Why I Am a Four-Point Calvinist." Well. That about says it all.

A delightful infographic on relative lake and ocean depths from xkcd. "Presumably there are big squid down here? Man, we know nothing about the ocean." (Hint: click on the image to get a close-up on all the text.)

I Get A Kick Out Of You by Jamie Cullum on Grooveshark

26 April 2012

hey, sugar

{image swiped from Joy the Baker}
I went on a sugar bender over Easter weekend. (Candied nuts! Cheesecake! Brownies! Alfajores! Pasta frola!) Then I felt horrible. The next day I decided that we'd been consuming too much sugar anyway and chucked most of the sweet stuff in the house-- it's doing nothing but harm to my body, so why do I keep shoveling it in? Dumb. Inspired to new heights of health, I nobly resolved to stop eating poison.

So, of course, here are some cookies. :)

Okay. The resolve was actually something like this: I will make dessert once a week and cut sugar the rest of the time. That way we don't have to give it up completely, which would be stressful and not much fun, but we are not sneaking it in throughout the week either. (After all, I try to avoid toxins on a regular basis, so I figure we can swing the occasional treat.)

p.s. I'm fine with the minute amounts of sweetener in dishes like this carrot salad . . and if my husband wants to buy a doughnut on his way to work, oh well, he's a big boy and can decide for himself . . .


Peanut Butter Hazelnut Cookies with Dark Chocolate Drizzle
(adapted from Joy the Baker)

1 cup natural peanut butter*
1/2 cup brown sugar (you can make your own!)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole hazelnuts

chocolate drizzle:
2 ounces dark chocolate
2 teaspoons coconut oil

1) Preheat oven to 350 and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2) Spread hazelnuts on baking sheet and toast in hot oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool slightly, and chop.
3) Meanwhile, beat peanut butter and sugars together in bowl of stand mixer until creamy. Add egg, baking soda, and vanilla; beat thoroughly. Stir in chopped hazelnuts.
4) Gently form cookie dough into discs and place on lined baking sheet. (My cookies have about 2 tablespoons of dough each.)
5) Bake cookies 10-15 minutes, until golden brown and slightly firm in the middle. Remove from oven and let cool 2 minutes on pan; remove to rack to finish cooling. (You may want to just bake two or three your first time around, to check the baking time. They won't be solid enough to pick up when they first come out of the oven, but will firm up while on the baking sheet. Magic.)
6) For the chocolate drizzle, melt chocolate and coconut oil together in double boiler and stir until smooth. (My ghetto version: stoneware bowl over small saucepan of simmering water. Totally works.) Drizzle over cookies, and refrigerate to set chocolate.

*I think a combination of almond and peanut butter is really good.

25 April 2012

Well Written Wednesdays: even their virtues were being burned away

Two excerpts from Flannery O'Connor:


"At last she lifted her head. There was only a purple streak in the sky, cutting through a field of crimson and leading, like an extension of the highway, into the descending dusk. She raised her hands from the side of the pen in a gesture hieratic and profound. A visionary light settled in her eyes. She saw the streak as a vast swinging bridge extending upward from the earth through a field of living fire. Upon it a vast horde of souls were tumbling toward heaven. There were whole companies of white trash, clean for the first time in their lives, and bands of black [negroes] in white robes, and battalions of freaks and lunatics shouting and clapping and leaping like frogs. And bringing up the end of the procession was a tribe of people whom she recognized at once as those who, like herself and Claud, had always had a little of everything and the God-given wit to use it right. She leaned forward to observe them closer. They were marching behind the others with great dignity, accountable as they had always been for good order and common sense and respectable behavior. They, alone were on key. Yet she could see by their shocked and altered faces even their virtues were being burned away. She lowered her hands and gripped the rail of the hog pen, her eyes small but fixed unblinkingly on what lay ahead. In a moment the vision faded but she remained where she was, immobile.

"At length she got down and turned off the faucet and made her slow way on the darkening path to the house. In the woods around her the invisible cricket choruses had struck up, but what she heard were the voices of the souls climbing upward into the starry field and shouting hallelujah."

-from "Revelation"


"I am no disbeliever in spiritual purpose and no vague believer.  I see from the standpoint of Christian orthodoxy. This means that for me the meaning of life is centered in our redemption by Christ and what I see in the world as its relation to that."

-from Mystery and Manners

23 April 2012

happy birthday to the Bard

"Of course, it's possible that other people used these words first, but dictionary writers like looking them up in Shakespeare because there's more cross-dressing and poking each other's eyes out."

he cried out all the more

And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.”

-Mark 10:46-52 

Pass Me Not by Fernando Ortega on Grooveshark

21 April 2012

Weekend linkage

Me: I've had enough sad and serious for today.
Jared: There's always Napoleon Dynamite . . .
Me: NO.
Jared: Well, it's not sad or serious!
Me: It's really dumb!
Jared: You're really dumb.
Me: hahahaha

(this is how he pries me out of a tragic funk)

Dude in coffee shop: I'm independently wealthy, which is nice.


"The [political] trading of Bible verses ripped from their covenantal context and intention is a sure way to trivialize God’s Word in our society, in our churches, and in our own lives."

Squiggles were never so interesting . . .

If you're bored this weekend, you can try your hand at making "the turducken of cheese balls."

Blooming Heather by Kate Rusby on Grooveshark

19 April 2012

I would be frail

In high school I had a group of friends who really liked Jars of Clay. I, media ignoramus that I was, could barely recognize the name, and had only listened to a few of their songs. What I heard, I liked. But I never investigated further.

Dead Man (Carry Me) by Jars of Clay on Grooveshark

In college I had a roommate who really liked Jars of Clay. Jars, of course, was no longer cutting edge, but I finally realized how much I loved their music. After those two semesters, I knew they had to be one of my favorite groups ever, Christian or otherwise. Here's why: my roommate and I struggled through that year. It was so rough. Not between us, just with life. Homework. Illness. Theology. Boys. (BOYS.) We got little to no sleep, we cried, we held each other up.

At night we'd flop on our beds and say "Oh, what a day. Let's pray." And we would. And there was usually something from Jars of Clay playing on her iTunes.
You are my eyes when I cannot see
You are my voice, see, sing through me
You are my strength in weakness be
Somehow it always fit. (I miss you, Vanessa.)

Frail by Jars of Clay on Grooveshark

Since then, I've been the person who really likes Jars of Clay. The other day I figured out one of the main reasons why: they sing about sadness. In their lyrics, life hurts. Things get confusing. We doubt. We struggle.
And we sing while the city's burning
No room, no escape, no plan
We all never thought it would end this way
We veer perilously near to despair, even as we beg for faith.

Two Hands by Jars of Clay on Grooveshark

They know that to live means bearing pain. Even God, sometimes, means pain.
Do I want shelter from the rain
Or the rain to wash me away? 
Yet He is always mighty to save. 
This is the one thing,
The one thing that I know.
They can somehow lament a broken world without cursing God.

Hymn by Jars of Clay on Grooveshark

That, I think, is rare and precious: an ability to acknowledge the world's and our own corruption, yet simultaneously praise the Lord. To ignore neither grief nor joy. You can't paint either of those things out of your picture of the world. I am learning this.
All of these things I've held up in vain
Scared out of my mind by the demons I've made
Sweet Jesus, you never ever let me go
It's like the psalm I posted on Monday. The singer begins in deep distress, with days passing away like smoke and a heart lonely as a desert owl. None of this darkness gets a candy coating.  

However, in the very same psalm: "From heaven the Lord looked at the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die, that they may declare in Zion the name of the Lord, and in Jerusalem his praise."
No one loves me like you
No one loves me the way you do
Jesus Blood Never Failed by Jars of Clay on Grooveshark

18 April 2012

Well Written Wednesdays: the trophy of His victory

"When our Lord was handed over to the will of His cruel foes, they ordered Him, in mockery of His royal dignity, to carry the instrument of His own torture . . . To the wicked, the sight of the Lord carrying His own cross was indeed an object of derision. But to the faithful a great mystery was revealed, for the cross was destined to become the scepter of His power. Here was the majestic spectacle of a glorious conqueror mightily overthrowing the hostile forces of the devil and nobly bearing the trophy of His victory!"
-Leo the Great

(HT: Trevin Wax)

balsamic + beans

green beans
{image credit: house on hill road}
Hurray green beans! Hurray salads made ahead of time! Hurray responsibility!

This is not the prettiest salad, since anything made with balsamic vinegar is going to be rather . . . brown. Unfortunate fact of life. But the dressing has such wonderful tang, the almonds have such wonderful crunch, and it all tastes so fresh and summery, you've got to try it.

Leftovers would make a great lunch, maybe paired with chopped poached chicken? Hardboiled eggs? Feta? 


Balsamic Green Bean Salad
(I have no idea where I got the original recipe)

1 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup sliced almonds

1) Bring large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add green beans and cook until crisp-tender, approximately 5 minutes. I prefer mine more crisp than tender.
2) Place onion in bottom of large metal colander. When beans are done cooking, drain in colander and shake to remove excess water, then pour into a mixing bowl. This step takes the edge off the onions: they are not exactly cooked, but the boiling water tames them a bit.
3) Pour olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and garlic into blender; blend until smooth and creamy. Pour dressing over green beans, toss to coat thoroughly, and season to taste with salt and pepper. You may want a splash more balsamic vinegar as well.
4) Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Just before serving, stir in sliced almonds.

16 April 2012

that he looked down from his holy height

Hear my prayer, O Lord;
   let my cry come to you!
Do not hide your face from me
   in the day of my distress!
Incline your ear to me;
   answer me speedily when I call!
For my days pass away like smoke,
   and my bones burn like a furnace.
My heart is struck down like grass and has withered . . .
I am like a desert owl of the wilderness,
   like an owl of the waste places;
I lie awake;
   I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop . . .
My days are like an evening shadow;
   I wither away like grass.

But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever;
   you are remembered throughout all generations.
You will arise and have pity on Zion;
   it is the time to favor her;
   the appointed time has come . . .
Nations will fear the name of the Lord,
   and all the kings of the earth will fear your glory.
For the Lord builds up Zion;
   he appears in his glory;
he regards the prayer of the destitute
   and does not despise their prayer.

Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
   so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord:
that he looked down from his holy height;
   from heaven the Lord looked at the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners,
   to set free those who were doomed to die,
that they may declare in Zion the name of the Lord,
   and in Jerusalem his praise,
when peoples gather together,
   and kingdoms, to worship the Lord.

-Psalm 102:1-4, 6-7, 11-13, 15-22

13 April 2012

Weekend linkage

Me: Well, I think you're very handsome . . .
[Jared promptly sticks out his stomach and makes a fish face]
. . . even though you're trying your best to look like a Neanderthal.
Jared: Urgh. Me caveman. Where my woman?


Medieval monks scribbled in the margins too.

"Who can give a bailout, tell us to behave / Make the Founding Fathers roll over in their grave / The government can!"

When our kids have bicycles we are so getting these: Chalktrails, which turn your bike into a giant pencil. Sooo coooool.

With my well-known love of knives (the sharper the better) this blade-based typography really tickled my fancy. Fortunately I don't have a blank wall to try this out on.

God wants us to complain? "The psalms of lament are treasures for the saints. They give inspired voice to our troubled souls. They model for us how to complain to God in a way that honors him. And they are themselves expressions of God’s care and compassion for us because in them we see that we are not as alone as we feel and that God indeed does understand."

Learning flamenco is on my bucket list. Then Jared, his guitar, and I can go perform in Lancaster Square. What could possibly go wrong?

Because a normal smoke detector just isn't enough.

Dapper dinosaurs. A whole Tumblr-full. Need I say more?

When we were little, my brothers and I would plan how we'd respond if robbers broke into the house. "You grab the butcher knife. I'll take the pasta pot." Well, behold. . . wall art functioning as shields! Side tables with detachable club legs! Now I know how to decorate our future family room. If burglars ever show up we will be prepared.

Sugar is nasty.

But we still eat it sometimes, and I'd like to try these chocolate banana bites when summer shows up.

He Lives feat. Flame and Jai by Tedashii on Grooveshark

12 April 2012

ahoy, discoveries! vol. 6

The dollar store has great glassware. I've known this for a while, but the happy fact was borne in upon me once more when I went in search of new tumblers. Our old ones from Target were turning out to be too small and fragile; to replace them, I found twelve Libbey Imperial drinking glasses that I love. They are heavy, beautiful, sturdy, and of course only a dollar each.

Something to scrub the toilet bowl. Hahaha . . . only very special people (read: geeks about housework) will get excited about this. But if you qualify, listen up! Pumice stones. They're great.

A maxi dress. At 5'3", I'm a hobbit. I therefore had given up on maxi dresses; alas, when one lacks statuesque proportions, a billowing length of fabric is probably not doing wonders for the figure. Tailored shirtdresses are more my style. However. I grabbed one on a whim at Old Navy, and miraculously, it is not  too long. It has enough shape to flatter less-than-willowy limbs and-- even more importantly-- prevent that "maternity look." :) I couldn't find it online, but this one is fairly close. Mine is olive green and a bit simpler.

And below: how to make my skin stop screaming at me. On Monday I just wanted to peel my whole face off, an impractical plan at best. Then I figured I would try mixing up a facial mask instead. It worked wonders. If you have dry and irrititated skin on your face, as I often do, try this. Yogurt is moisturizing, pumpkin is soothing, turmeric is anti-inflammatory, and nutmeg provides a bit of exfoliation.


Pumpkin Yogurt Facial

2 tablespoons pureed pumpkin
2 tablespoons plain whole milk yogurt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Whisk it all together and slap in on your face. Leave it alone for 15-20 minutes, then wash off with a cloth you don't mind staining-- turmeric will leave a determined yellow mark on any towel it touches. Make sure you do not get this on your clothing! (This will be enough for several uses, as you only need a thin layer.)

11 April 2012

Well Written Wednesdays: any amount of rackets

"Policeman MacCruiskeen," said Sergeant Pluck.

Policeman MacCruiskeen put the lamp on the table, shook hands with me, and gave me the time of day with great gravity. His voice was high, almost feminine, and he spoke with a delicate, careful intonation. Then he put the little lamp on the counter and surveyed the two of us.

"Is it about a bicycle?" he asked.

"Not that," said the sergeant. "This is a private visitor who says he did not arrive in the town land upon a bicycle. He has no personal name at all, and his dadda is in far Americay."

"Which of the two Americays?" asked MacCruiskeen.

"The Unified Stations," said the sergeant.

"Likely he is rich by now, if he's in that quarter," said MacCruiskeen, "because there's dollars there, dollars and bucks and nuggets in the ground and any amount of rackets and golf games and musical instruments. It's a free country too by all accounts."

"Free for all," said the sergeant.

-from The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien


This book is crazy. By which I mean philosophically surreal and simultaneously hilarious. (I've been listening to it on CD and the narrator, Jim Norton, is incredible. He does voices! For every single character!)

10 April 2012

classic for a reason

I feel like such a fifties housewife when I make this for dinner. And I love feeling like a fifties housewife. It means pearls and shirtdresses and tiny aproned waists. (Don't talk to me about repressed suburban drudges. I am selective in my history and I can't hear you, la la la!)

I do draw the line at cleaning the kitchen in heels, though.

Pot roast, in my opinion, is best when served with something crisp and fresh-- this will balance the savory, salty richness of the tender meat and braised vegetables. Perhaps broccoli salad (I told you I was addicted) and plain rice? Mmm . . .

I used to think that "pot roast" meant a dry hunk of beef in a dull sauce, but let me assure you, not this one. I'm always amazed at how so few ingredients can produce such a fantastic meal. It has actually become one of my favorites. Dishes like this are called classics for a reason.

And now I know what to do with a chuck roast. Lowly and cheap it may seem, but it's earned a cherished place on our menu.


Classic Pot Roast
(taken and tweaked from Pioneer Woman) 

3 tablespoons butter, coconut oil, or other high-heat cooking fat (i.e. not olive oil!)
1 large yellow onion, cut into eighths
2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 3-4 lb chuck roast*
kosher salt and black pepper
a few sprigs of fresh thyme and/or rosemary**
1/2 cup red cooking wine

1) Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Grab a Dutch oven, or any other heavy pan with a lid (oven safe); it should be big enough to hold the roast and vegetables. I use a stainless steel pan of approximately 12-inch diameter and 4-inch depth.
2) Heat 2 tablespoons cooking fat in pan over medium-high, until hot and shimmering. Toss in the onion, carrots, and mushrooms. Let sear for 30 seconds, then stir to expose other sides to heat; continue to sear and stir vegetables until nicely browned on several sides. Remove from pan and set aside.
3) Prepare roast. Don't trim the excess fat away; just sprinkle it liberally with kosher salt and black pepper. Melt remaining tablespoon of fat in pan and sear roast on all sides, as you did with the vegetables. Remove from pan and set aside.
4) Deglaze pan with wine, scraping to loosing browned bits from the bottom. (You may have some smoke alarm action here. I always do. Open the window and carry on.)
5) Place roast back into the pan and arrange vegetables around it. Add fresh herbs and cover tightly with lid. Place in oven for 4 hours, or until fork-tender. I like to remove the meat and vegetables to a platter and put the pan back on the burner, bring it to a boil, and reduce to an intensely flavored gravy.

*A grassfed roast will of course be leaner than one from a CAFO steer, but it still turns out very tender with this method.
**Half the time I don't have fresh herbs around so I use dried instead. Works great.

Shared on Simple Lives Thursday.

09 April 2012

I'm being repressed!

All the Occupy talk of the past months has made me uncomfortable. You see, based on our yearly income-- i.e. the fact that we are not billionaires-- I'm pretty sure that the Occupiers would place us in the oppressed 99%. But honestly? I feel more like that evil, privileged 1%.

Here's why. We own two cars. I've never wondered where my next meal was coming from . . . ever. We live in a stone farmhouse with beautiful wood floors and more cabinets than I know what to do with. Though we will be moving soon and our next house won't be as nice as this, it sure won't be a shack by the tracks.  My husband has a good job and for that matter, so do I. We wear clothes with tags that say Eddie Bauer and Banana Republic. As evidenced by my writing this post, I have a computer, access to the internet, and enough free time to play around on said internet.

And I'm being oppressed?

I guess my beef with the Occupiers is that they take their (quite real) misfortunes and try drag everyone else into it.  They assume that because they have wrongs to address, the vast majority of America is likewise suffering beneath the crushing thumb of nefarious financiers. "We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent," they say. "We are the 99 percent." The first part of that statement, I won't argue. There are genuinely poor families in America, people are getting kicked out of homes and jobs, those in power can take cruel advantage of those weaker than they. All true. Such victims indeed have something to protest, something to demand. But not everyone does! So that's what I object to-- the claiming that "we" are the 99 percent. Occupiers have set up an artificial dichotomy, claiming that America is sharply divided into fat cats and slum dwellers, with nary a middle-class citizen between.

I sometimes wonder why these protesters feel the need to pit the extremely wealthy against . . . everyone else. As if every American without an overflowing bank account is duty-bound to hate and envy those with one.

I do hope that any reforms needed for honest business dealings are enacted. I hope that wrongdoers are brought to justice. Hey, I might even agree with taxing the rich more than the poor. And I am all for reasoned protest. It's extremism like this, so much of it smacking of victimhood, that raises my eyebrows. Exaggeration only cheapens an argument.

What do you think? Should I go occupy something?

08 April 2012

no more to die

Jesus lives, and so shall I
I'll be raised from the dust with Christ on high
Jesus lives, no more to die
And when He returns, with Him I'll rise

Jesus Lives by Sovereign Grace Music on Grooveshark

He is risen!

One thing I've grown to appreciate about holidays is how adamantly time-bound they are. That is, a holiday typically commemorates something that really happened. Independence Day, for example, isn't just a time to "celebrate our freedoms" but to remember a specific act of specific people: flesh-and-blood men standing in a building, picking up a pen, signing a document. Without that history, the day loses much of its meaning. Or think about a wedding anniversary. It's good to remind ourselves that we weren't always together like this-- that God brought us into a union, not to be taken for granted-- that there was an actual day, sweet and joyful, when we two became one.

So with Easter. Though we rejoice in Christ's resurrection year-round, choosing a date to concentrate more intensely on that fact reminds us that yes, it really did happen. It happened within this fabric of time and space. It happened on a morning just like this one. We celebrate, not because we have a vague feeling of happiness, but because Christ the Lord is risen today.

07 April 2012

in this dread act

O love of God, O sin of man
In this dread act your strength is tried
And victory remains with love
Jesus our Lord is crucified

O Come And Mourn (Sandra McCracken) by Indelible Grace on Grooveshark

06 April 2012

He groaned upon the tree

Was it for sins that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity, grace unknown,
And love beyond degree
Alas, And Did My Savior Bleed by Sovereign Grace Music on Grooveshark

Weekend linkage

"Reverence for church meetings is a Belgian ale."

My husband, the master of metaphor. I'll leave you to puzzle that one out.


We shall read books and we shall read them slowly.

"The Best Nanny Money Can Buy." As in $180,000 per annum.

So many passwords in my head these days; I try to make them clever and somewhat relevant to the site in question-- you know, like "ispend2much" for Etsy-- but that doesn't always jog the old memory. Tell me, am I the only one who forgets mine constantly? The password reset people probably roll my eyes when they see my name. (There are people who sit there on the other end of the internet and choose your new password for you, right?) Well, at least we can laugh at ourselves.

Oh man oh man oh man. As soon as raspberries come into season, these macaroons will be making their way to a table near you. (That is, if you are anywhere near our table.) I may try them with some strawberries, in fact, still in the freezer from last summer's pickfest. We'll see how they come out with unsweetened coconut . . .

This post is so sweet, so sobering, and yet so filled with faith. "The difference is now, I'm not sad . . . More like joyful and expectant, with these sprouts of sad coming up through the cracks when I see fluffy yellow sleepsacks." Yeah, me too.

Last week I got addicted to this broccoli salad. Did I already post that link? I don't even care. It's that good. I used plain Greek yogurt and homemade mayo; add some kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and my friends, you're in business.

Note to grocery list: summer's coming, time for gin.

And Rachmaninov is amazing.

Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18: No. 1, Moderato by Rachmaninov on Grooveshark

04 April 2012

Well Written Wednesdays: I test very high on insubordination

His long narrow body was wrapped-- in this heat-- in a traveling rug and a faded red bathrobe. His thin clawlike hands were folded loosely on the rug, purple-nailed. A few locks of dry white hair clung to his scalp, like wild flowers fighting for life on a bare rock. The butler stood in front of him and said: "This is Mr. Marlowe, General."

The old man didn't move, or speak, or even nod. He just looked at me lifelessly. The butler pushed a damp wicker chair against the backs of my legs and I sat down. He took my hat with a deft scoop. Then the old man dragged up his voice from the bottom of a well and said: "Brandy, Norris. How do you like your brandy, sir?"

"Any way at all," I said.

The butler went away among the abominable plants. The General spoke again, slowly, using his strength as carefully as an out-of-work showgirl uses her last good pair of stockings . . .

"Tell me about yourself, Mr. Marlowe. I suppose I have a right to ask?"

"Sure, but there's very little to tell. I'm thirty-three years old, went to college once and can still speak English if there's any demand for it. There isn't much in my trade. I worked for Mr. Wilde, the District Attorney, as an investigator once. His chief investigator, a man named Bernie Ohls, called me and told me you wanted to see me. I'm unmarried because I don't like policemen's wives."

"And a little bit of a cynic," the old man smiled. "You didn't like working for Wilde?"

"I was fired. For insubordination. I test very high on insubordination, General."

-from The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

03 April 2012

monkey muffins

Woo! More muffins! These are mostly banana, coconut flour, and eggs, and they definitely don't taste like "trying desperately to be healthy." I can't even tell that they are made with coconut flour (but then, I like coconut). I added a smidgen of sugar to the original recipe but the fruit provides most of the sweetness. To me, that will always be a point in a muffin's favor.

They're really good. Like this chickpea salad, they taste much better after they sit a spell; I am not sure why, but they seem kind of dry right out of the oven, and that problem vanishes after a stint in the fridge. They also have a lighter texture than most coconut flour muffins, which is nice for a change. :)

A delicious variation is to double the honey and add 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder. Antioxidants for the win.

Previous banana muffin recipes: whole wheat and chocolate.


Grain-free Banana Muffins
(original from Wellness Mama) 

5 large eggs
2 large or 3 small ripe bananas*
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup coconut flour
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup whole milk

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin pan with nonstick spray or butter.
2) Once oven is preheated, place all ingredients in blender; blend until thoroughly combined, thick and smooth. (You don't want to prepare the batter ahead of time because the coconut flour will suck up a lot of moisture if it sits. Wait until everything else is ready.) You could also use an immersion blender if you prefer.
3) Divide batter between 10-12 muffin cups and bake 15-18 minutes, until golden brown and set in center. Remove to cool on wire rack. Once fully cooled, store in refrigerator.

*"But mine are medium-sized!" you say. Oh fine, be difficult. Truth be told, mine are medium-sized most of the time too, so I put in 2 1/2 and freeze the rest for a smoothie. :) Fair enough? (As you can see, this is not an exact science.)

Shared at Simple Lives Thursday.

02 April 2012

something for Easter week

A day late, but in this case better late than never; perhaps you'd like to incorporate this into your devotions for the rest of the week. Jared and I were already planning to read through Passion Week in the upcoming days, so this insightful day-by-day commentary by Russ Ramsey is a great accompaniment.

not so well written Mondays

 A few weeks back I told the husband that I while I can write pretty good prose, I can't write poetry.

Well, only silly poetry, I amended.

Next thing I knew, I'd promised to write him a poem.

In our mudroom we have a chalkboard, which is where I composed said poem. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed that, and now, I'm writing one every week and leaving it on the chalkboard. They are all rather ridiculous. :)

Here is last week's: a haiku playing on Jared's nickname for me ("Penguin"), the return of several mallard ducks to the stream behind our house, and the fact that I have been digging my toes into the dirt every chance I get on these warm days. 

small penguin prefers
mud to snow; the springtime ducks
are kindred spirits

p.s. We watched How to Train Your Dragon on Saturday night. So funny. I want a Terrible Terror for a pet.

Sticks & Stones by Jónsi on Grooveshark