31 August 2011

A Photo Series By Pops

 She was reading.

  There was a welcome disruption.

Kisses were given freely.

 Then an inquisition ensued. Soon followed by poses and smiles.

30 August 2011

Summer Bounty Fresh & Roasted

 A dear friend, and true master gardener, gave me a bag full of the most gorgeous tomatoes I've ever seen. Deep, bright red, smooth and firm, and oh so sweet. Amazing. I have never, ever grown tomatoes even close to these magnificent specimens.

I've been eating them with my eggs in the morning, but decided to roast the remainders. Their flavor was so amazing fresh, I knew they would be simply inspirational with a little olive oil, salt, and sustained heat!

 Slice into thick wedges and drizzle/rub with olive oil and a little bit of ground sea salt and pepper. Roast in a 275 degree oven for 3-5 hours, depending on the thickness of the slices.

While they roast, your house will begin to smell as though a Tuscan granny has been cooking all day. I kept going in and out of the house just so I could re-enter and inhale the magic once more.

Once they are fully cooked (there should be little if no moisture left), let them cool and then store in the fridge. If you can keep yourself from snacking on them like candy, chop them up for salads or pasta dishes or even in a sauce for some roast chicken.

29 August 2011

A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of a Misspent Life

While I am still finding refreshment in my Joy of Less philosophy, I am loving this book, if not for the title alone. It's all about celebrating the beauty of home-life and not being too particular about perceived "perfection." Ahhh.

The hefty 250 plus pages are filled with photos, suggestions, ruminations and encouraging quotes such as:

"I think I am better at making a house warm, than keeping it organized."

 Because that's what's it's really about, isn't it??

26 August 2011

Parenting: Keeping the Oar In

 Ever get the feeling that your parenting years are rushing by?

 I've been feeling that lately. As though there is a sense of urgency to pull myself out of my habitual complacency and stick my oar back in the waters. It's so easy to just float and let life move us down the stream. Whether I like it or not, our boat is moving. Life is rushing forward ... it's a beautiful ride, but there are plenty of rocks to run into.

Is my oar in or is my oar out?

Time to reexamine some of my own issues and habits and tidy up a bit. Time to refocus my prayers for my children and dig purposefully into the Word. Can you relate?

What is some of the best biblical parenting advice you've ever received?

The words of the mouth are deep waters,
   but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream. 
Proverbs 18:4

25 August 2011

23 August 2011

In Which We Watch

 We aren't big TV watchers, but my, how we love a good DVD. Between our local library that carries a staggering selection and our beloved Netflix, we have so many options that are free or darn close to it.

Inspired by Christian's list (which was most helpful in loading up our Netflix queue), I thought I'd assemble one of my own. Don't we all like a few recommendations? Not knowing where to even begin, I thought I would start with one of my most favorite genres: Food.

In no particular order:

1. Babette's Feast
Philippa and Martina turn down a chance to leave their Danish town, instead staying to care for their pastor father and his small church. Thirty-five years later, a French woman seeks refuge, and Philippa and Martina take her in. The feast the woman prepares in gratitude is eclipsed only by her secret in director Gabriel Axel's Oscar-winning drama.

Blown in by the north wind, an iconoclastic single mother and her young daughter move into a peaceful French village and open an uncommon chocolate shop during the height of Lent -- directly across the street from a church. At first, the shop's rich, sensuous desserts scandalize the town. But the villagers soon learn to savor the sweetness.

In director MarĂ­a Ripoll's bilingual drama, widower Martin Naranjo is a Los Angeles restaurateur with a booming business and three headstrong daughters, who are all on the verge of leaving the house to pursue their individual destinies. He knows he must let go, but things get even more complicated when brassy neighbor Hortensia sets her sights on Martin.

Despite its superb cuisine, an Italian restaurant run by immigrant brothers Primo and Secondo is on the verge of bankruptcy. But the siblings risk everything to save their bistro when they get the chance to cook up a feast for bandleader Louis Prima. 

Amy Adams stars in this truth-inspired tale as Julie Powell, who decides to enliven her uneventful life by cooking all 524 recipes outlined in Julia Child's culinary classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking

6. Mostly Martha
German director Sandra Nettelbeck whips up this tragicomic tale about an uptight professional chef named Martha, who finds her world turned upside down when she takes in her newly orphaned niece, Lina, and tries her hand at parenting. Martha's obsession with precision gourmet cooking extends to discussing recipes with her bewildered therapist and verbally attacking anyone who attempts to send her food back.

7. Eat Drink Man Woman
**Haven't seen this one yet, but it's in my queue! Has received great reviews.

Now it's your turn ... any faves for me?

*Keep in mind that you may need to use your own judgment upon viewing. While these movies either didn't contain material we found excessively offensive, or it was solvable with a little fast-forward here or there, your sensibilities may be different.

22 August 2011

The Merits of Boredom

While we have certainly had our share of day camps and lessons, I am a big proponent of facilitating summer boredom. For you see, in my experience, it's the unstructured expanses of time that invariably lead to the stuff childhood memories are made of.

They may start off rolling on the floor saying they are bored. But when mother is completely lacking in sympathy, a clothes-line is strung, buckets of soapy water appear, and the washing commences. Not to mention the tent held up by a stick and secured by boulders. (It's for the town mercantile, naturally.)

What's more, mother may be instructed to go away and not return until they are done. Ignore the children for a morning? Well, I'd be happy to oblige.

It's a win-win.

16 August 2011

The Business of Getting it Done

Getting caught up on projects around the house lately and readying for school. No time for blogging! Back after a bit, friends.

11 August 2011

Old is New Again

When I was little, I played cards with Nannie. Old Maid, Animal Rummy ... oodles of fun. Especially since the illustrations were so very charming. Imagine my delight when I found a reproduction set of the exact cards Nannie and I used to play with.

Perfect for family game night when the little ones want to participate but aren't quite up to Monopoly yet. And more perfect, still, for an afternoon match between Miss Jane and me.

What a Relief

"... our adequacy is from God."
2 Corinthians 3:5

"Jesus Christ is able to untangle all the snarls in my soul, to banish all my complexes, and to transform even my fixed habit patterns, no matter how deeply they are etched in my subconscious." 
-Corrie ten Boom

10 August 2011

It Doesn't Take Much

Don't you remember times like these as a child? Magic.

08 August 2011

Noticing Milestones

 He still lets me love on him. He's good to me like that.

But there is no denying that the days are passing and he is growing up. Little milestones along the way assure me of that.
 Like when the moment comes that you can say, "Son, hoist me upon your back!" ... and he can ...

 ... well, that is a milestone to be sure.

I love how he is still a boy. But before long ...

... he'll be a man. He has a fine example to look up to.

05 August 2011

Ketchup Profundities or Something Like That

Maybe you already do this, but I feel like I just cracked quantum physics. You know how the ketchup cap always gets nasty and crusty and gross? And how when you go to open it, you get old ketchup goo all over your fingers?

So here's the top secret solution. Before recycling the empty ketchup bottle, save the cap and toss in the dishwasher. Are you ready for this? You now have an extra cap. So when your still half-full bottle of ketchup has a cap that's all nasty and crusty and gross, you can toss it into the dishwasher and twist on a fresh cap.

There is always a fresh cap waiting. It's like the circle of life. Like watching The Lion King and eating a hot-dog while solving math equations. Or something like that.

04 August 2011

The Joy of Less: Empty is Good and Other Priniciples to Live By

I was excited to find how much of a chord was struck with you all in my Joy of Less post. Seems as though many of us are very challenged by the possibility of less stuff ... and actually being glad for the stuff we choose to keep. I received several emails asking me to keep exploring this topic with you all.

It is rather fascinating to find out how other real-life people tackle this dilemma. I feel the same.

I'm in love with the idea that empty space, empty shelves, empty cupboards and even empty bins is a good thing! This allows breathing room for that which we truly want. When stuff is "stuffed in" it's not doing anyone or anything any good.

Additionally, another one of the key principles I have been using on my purging "benders" is the whole useful, meaningful, beautiful tactic. It helps me do less waffling and more decision making. Here's my take on it:

Useful: Yes, I know it can be used and someone on this planet uses it regularly. But do you? Do you actually and regularly use the melon-baller, the 72 flower vases, or comprehensive set of ratty "painting clothes?" Or how about towels and blankets, socket-wrenches and aprons, dvd's and puzzles? If you truly use every item, great. Keep it. But if each item doesn't make your life consistently easier and more joyful than move it all along. The melon will come out with a regular ol' spoon.

Meaningful: Sometimes stuff isn't that valuable or useful, it's just meaningful. This area is a tricky wicket, because it's quite subjective. If the item in question was destroyed in a fire would you actually be sad about it? Is it a family christening gown that may be yellowed or a bit shabby but lovingly represents the generations of your family tree? Or is it an outfit that nobody really knows the story to and doesn't really care about but it's kinda old and somehow you inherited it. Are you keeping it just because you feel like you should? Is there guilt involved? As said in the book, "You won't hurt your stuff's feelings if you get rid of it." 

Beautiful: Again, subjective, but valid. There are some pieces in my home that speak to me on a soul-level. The beauty of it registers with me deeply. Might be a book, or a plant, a set of curtains, or a travel tschotske. There isn't inherent value in the object itself, nor is there generations of family history. It simply speaks to me and a glimpse of it brings a smile to my face.

If an item in question does not fit into one of these categories I'm ready to move it along. And ... and this is a big one ... if you have multiples of an item worth keeping do you need all of them? Would keeping some be better than keeping all?

So tell me. Does this help? Tell me how this works for you. I'm interested!

(By the way, that Reisenthel basket in the above pic is sheer awesomeness. I've had it for over 5 years and literally use it daily. Library books, farmer's market, swimming lessons, picnics, you name it. The trick? Keep it empty so it's ready to use!)

02 August 2011

Achieving Beverage Bliss and Carpal Tunnel

What to do with an overly abundant supply of limes? Why, limeade, of course. Boil down 1c. sugar with 3c. water and add 1c. lime juice. Easy peasey.

Except, however, if you are using itty bitty limes because it will take you for-eva' and give you a massive hand cramp. Get the big ol' Persian limes and you'll stave off early-onset arthritis. Just sayin'.)

01 August 2011

Choosing to Rejoice in the Sacred

Transitions in life often come with pain or at the very least, discomfort. But so often there is joy to be had in the mix of it all. In fact, dare I say that in Christ, there is always joy to be had ... if we are ready to receive it?

Well, I want to receive. There is no denying that difficulty and grief is part of life that God allows into our lives. This is real. This is hard. But I don't want to miss out on the blessing of joy and thanksgiving simply because I am too busy "transitioning."

Not to be all preachy today, I'm only speaking for myself and where I am at. But I choose to praise Him today. And why? Because I have heard God's word and He helps me to understand.

"... 'This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!  ...  Hush! Don’t weep! For this is a sacred day.'  So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them."
Nehemiah 8:10-12