29 November 2011

Shiny Kettle Conquered

My tea kettle gets used daily. So she must reside on the stovetop and be routinely assaulted by myriad food and oil splatters. She gets all sticky, splattery, dusty, smudgy and wipe downs are rather futile. The tea kettle is hardworkin' gal, but rarely at her Sunday best.

I usually have at her with an SOS pad from time to time. It works ... mostly ... sort of. But today, I tried something new. Oven cleaner. I tend to shy away from nasty chemical cleaners such as these, but I had a most unfortunate fruit cobbler overflow in the oven not too long ago and something had to be done. Enter in: oven cleaner.

I purchased "fume free" and hoped for the best. I sprayed, I waited, I wiped ... and it was all clean. Wow. And then I sprayed down Miss Kettle and ... double wow.

After a nice soapy rinse down, she is nearly singing on her own. I think I may have to make room for an occasional chemical blast around here.  Any thoughts or experiences of your own?

24 November 2011

21 November 2011

Tricky Little Ruby Jewels

I have never purchased a pomegranate before, as I was downright scared of how one was supposed to get the tricky little jewels out. Someone told me to pare it and then twist it open. Nope. Didn't work. So then I turned to the trusty internet and found this brilliant instruction. No peeling or twisting, just chop in half, submerge under water and break apart membranes from seeds.  Brilliant!

And oh, they are so good. Already eaten plain, drizzled with chocolate, on a salad, and atop yogurt with granola. How do you like to eat them?

**Super fun task to do with kids. Just don't be a dodo head like me and forget the aprons. My sweater is currently soaking in oxyclean.

19 November 2011

Pops and Peter, Solving the World Energy Crisis

 The Science Fair Endeavor of 2011 is almost complete. I was the squawking schedule keeper, but otherwise, Pops and Peter were the masterminds in full.

And it's a good thing. If I'd been in charge we would have selected an experiment that had something to do with a dry bean or a shoelace. Never, never would I have ambitioned to test the efficacy of wind turbine placement and calculate the apportioned voltage. Say, huh??

I'm much better at sounding scheduling alarms. 

And the boys ... well they are much better at whatever it is they manage to consistently do. I just allow them to impress me and then I go back to my beans and shoelaces.

It's a happy system for all.

17 November 2011

16 November 2011

Pops Finds Art

 While we were off on our quick getaway trip together, we spent a day at a museum art market. Roaming musicians, dishes of local cuisine, and lots and lots of art booths. We looked with admiration and absolutely no personal expectation.

And then Pops found an artist that captivated him. He began describing his own evoked emotions in relation to the art. And they were deep.

This was a new experience. Pops doesn't normally talk art.

 I was more than a little surprised to find ourselves contemplating purchasing a piece of this art. "Maybe we should go have a bowl of soup and think this over," I suggested. I was having trouble seeing beyond the literal, beyond seeing, simply ... a wooden Moses.

But then Pops began elaborating on the form, the expression, the deep conotations.

We went back to look some more. And I realized. Why can I not support what Pops sees as beauty even if it is not what I initially would.

And suddenly. The art had life and beauty to me too. Was it the art? Was it choosing to delight in that which delighted him? I think, perhaps both.

This purchase was, for me, a moment of intentional grace. A choosing. I wanted to write it off as frivolous. Yet how often does my husband smile upon my own desire for "frivolity?" How often does the Lord? The answer to both, is frequently.

When I look at the piece, I am now absorbed by the expression of mercy, agony, weariness, devotion. A body bent with trial, yet strengthened by grace. A sense of rememberence past and hope in promise. I see beauty. I see art.

To give is to gain. To yield is to receive. To support is to be lifted up. A grafting together. A joy. Beauty.

 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 
Romans 11:17-19

08 November 2011

Choosing Intentional Grace

Have you ever noticed how good endeavors can sometimes lead to nit-picky difficulties? Little subversive issues to stand in the way of refreshment, growth and unity. Like arguments on the way to church? Yes, we've all had those. Same with date-nights and getaways ... often we can get derailed or undermined, our focus taken off of that which is truly important to us. Distractions or irritations to pull us off course. Suddenly we're arguing about granola bars. wet toothbrushes, and hurt feelings when we should be joyful in anticipation.

Over the years, we've noticed this pattern. But He is bigger and He is able! Once you know to look for it, it's pretty easy to spot those arrows of division. We've have been learning to call those moments out for what they are and to keep our focus on Him so He can clear the road ahead and make for smooth travels. We have to choose to give intentional grace for each other so those normal. hectic details we encounter lose their ability to fetter.

Off for some time with my honey, just the two of us. Praying God would use this time to build, build, build us up ... and to have us a little fun along the way.

Back after a bit!

07 November 2011

Oil Pastels, Arcimboldo, and Dreams of a Too-Old Mother

Peter and the girls have been studying Arcimboldo in their art classes. So awesome.

I kind of wish I was in grade school again. Think I could audit?

04 November 2011

Just Waiting for the Sentiment to Be Expressed

I love a good blank note-card. Perfect for a little letter of any occasion. (Why do I always seem to have plenty of 'thank you' cards, but so few multi-purpose?) When I found this giant Target pack on sale, I knew it was just the ticket. Sturdy, colorful note-cards with matching envelopes to boot.

Pretty paper always makes writing a letter that much more enticing, don't you think?

03 November 2011

Operation Healthy Lunch

 Do you know about pepitas yet? Just pumpkin seeds without the hulls.

I like to buy them raw and toast 'em a smidge in a skillet and toss them on salads. It's tasty business.

What's more? The kids like them too. Booyah.

01 November 2011

A Celebration of Color

Normally, I would never think to pair dusty turquoise, rust and concrete gray, pumpkin orange, and a dash of foliage green. But in fall, all colors seem to get a free pass to mix and match at will. The rules get bent and the sight is all the more glorious for it.

Another reason to have an affinity for fall.