Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Super Late "Friday" Night Foodie (That happened on a Saturday…)

Her hands work quickly, much more quickly than mine, the long nailed fingers handling the specially sharpened knife with precision.  The pile of vegetables, a mixture of various colors, grows in the corner of the warped cutting board, soon to be bound together by white string, a garnish to flavor the sauce we've been working to perfect for months.  This is my father's brain child, my passion, but my mother humors us as we create a recipe found in one of our favorite book series, Nero Wolf.

A wine based sauce, this particular recipe is typically served with poached eggs.  My mother hates poached eggs; this time we use steak.  

The last few times this recipe has been attempted, the sauce met one of two ends; chunky and thick with excellent flavor, or thin and somewhat bland.  Maybe this time we'll find a happy medium.

Our steaks come off the grill at different times; my father's and mine first, juice pooling on the white china beneath the knife, my mother's second, charred through and ruined in our eyes. 

We serve the sauce atop the steaks and garlic mashed potatoes, paired with my new all time favorite wine; Silverado.  

Perfect thickness, perfect flavor, we all agree that this version was a success, the best attempt thus far as we sit enjoying our meal, the company, and an episode of Nero Wolf A&E put together.

I might have eaten the sauce straight from the pan…don't judge me.
But thick or thin, bland or flavorful, I needed that Saturday morning.  A lost job, the overwhelming prospect of the future, under a mountain of guilt by no means cured but eased by good company, a good meal, and entertainment.  Food is more than ingredients, a meal beyond wine and flour and produce…it is fellowship and experience, it should draw you back to another time like smells and songs and movies that stir up old memories.  Even failure can be success when such things bring us together.   

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Song in Prose

Linking up again with Kiki's "Not So (Small) Stories".  This week the topic is "song".  I had planned to try and get super creative, but after having a very difficult week (losing my job, questioning my direction, interviewing, temping, trying to study for my upcoming classack!) I decided to try some fiction yet again.  This particular piece is one side/perspective of a conversation written as practice with another writer I did recently (hence the lack of her dialogue).  So read on, my friends!  Hope you enjoy and will forgive my lack of energy this week.


...He followed her out of the kitchen, glancing at the floor as they went to make sure he wasn’t still dripping, and chuckled at her comments about a lack of musical talent. Drew could hardly imagine what it would be like to voluntarily choose not to play an instrument, but then not everyone was wired the same. Piano was what he’d stuck to, but from the time he was a small child any instrument he picked up could be easily mastered. On the other hand, the last time Drew had attempted to take a picture everyones heads had been cut off and the image had been horrifically blurry… clearly not his forte.
When his dark eyes landed on the piano in the sitting room he couldn’t help the grin that spread. It looked almost exactly like the piano he’d grown up with except in slightly better shape. One hand slid across the slick surface and Drew shook his head at her comment about it just being an upright. “It’s perfect,” he said. “Just like the one my grandma taught me on.” He eased down onto the slick bench
, always somewhat shy about playing for an audience, and rested his hands on the keys.

Like some sort of ancient spell settling on his muscles, Drew began to play without much thought. His fingers needed little prompting from his brain as the two moved in sink and his eyes slid shut, the tune a soft, minor melody that flowed from the dark clouds hovering above, the kind of music Southern Gothic writers might have set their stories to had they become plays or been put to film. It moved low, suggesting at times that it might brush upwards but never quite reaching that peak, and sweeping on like a low rushing wave. For a moment Drew slipped away from his surroundings, disappeared from that room and from his circumstances, caught in a tide he could not control and would not have sought to, hidden in a space of gray peace he rarely experienced outside of his music…a space Genny called his happy place.

That thought brought the lids of his eyes up and focused his gaze back to the girl standing next to him and he offered a grin that preferred not to meet his eyes. “Sorry,” Drew said. “It’s easy to get caught up…” His hands continued to move over the keys, but much more quietly, the tune shifting to a major chord, the pace quickening. Easy as breathing…or at least as it once had been. He could play for hours and never tire, never grow bored, this was his paradise, his safe haven.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

In the Name of Love

Even with Valentine's Day behind us, my mind remains on the subject of love.  Perusing my Facebook, scrolling through Pintrest, and spending even a little time on Eharmony, I got to thinking about the difference between love and lust.  Romantic love is such an odd dog.  Within a family you typically love even the most obnoxious of the bunch, clearly making a choice to put up with their quirks and annoyances; with friends it isn't quite the same, but coming together on that plain makes sense even to my addled brain…but romantic love?  A love that often begins with attraction?  Lust even?  This sort of love kind of shoots over my head.  Is it more complicated than hormones?  Less?  Why does it seem that the guys I'm always interested in are never interested in me and vice verse?  Am I too caught up in the attraction aspect?  Am I so dang screwed up that lust has become a driving factor in relationships I'm willing to pursue?

It's very stressful and likely I'm over thinking it, but it did lead me to confront some of the definitions I had in my head.  Ultimately I concluded this, that the difference between love and lust is really quite simple.  Once the object of lust ceases to satisfy whatever hole it has filled, it is cast aside much like a broken tool might be.  The object of love, on the other hand, will not suffer this fate because love holds dear the object itself rather than its usefulness.

This is how God loves us, how He loves me even though I am a broken and battered tool that might be easily tossed aside.  He created me in His own image (Genesis 1:27), knit me together in my mother's womb (Psalm 139:13), and He is working to complete the good work He began in me (Philippians 1:6).

This good work calls me to love in the same way, to care for those who can do nothing for me, and may even do me harm (Matthew 5:43-48).  This is difficult and painful and I fail miserably at it…yet God is patient and brings me to my knees in repentance, humbling and softening me.

I still don't have an answer about romantic love, it still remains a mystery, but I think learning about the difficult task of love is a good lesson that might one day help me love better in marriage, in motherhood.  No matter what, I am thankful for the lesson, and pray that as I continue to walk this difficult road I will be a beacon of Christ's love to the watching world.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Family of a Different Kind

This is my fridge.  Its landscape once bare, barren, now filled with the workings of tiny hands and young minds.

They are not my children, and yet in a way they are, bound to me by a bond even strong than familial blood.

For these children are part of my covenant family - tied to me by covenant, commitment... 

They are part of the body of Christ, now by profession of parents, soon by the words of their own mouths, and I have covenanted with the rest of the body to help train them up in the way they should go.  Barren though I may currently be, there are arrows in my quiver, children who love, and are loved by me.  

Romans 12:5

New American Standard Bible (NASB)
so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday Night Foodie: Valentime's!

My earliest memory of Valentine's Day is at a breakfast table in Plano, TX, a table where I played 'Memory' with my mom and often refused to eat my peas.  Other memories rested on the window seat near by; early mornings with my dad who, to this day, shares my struggle with insomnia, but this memory is a little further over.  Easter, Valentine's, Christmas, my mother always had something special.  I don't remember the specific candy or what she wrote on the card, but the warm light, the smell of scrambled eggs, and the reminder that I was dearly loved reach through the years, brought back to mind by certain sights, certain smells.

In recent years, this day has become somewhat painful for me, dragged down by the slight jab of bitterness and longing, but the memories from that glass table soften the pain.  My goal as of late has been to direct my attention to others, to remember that I can chase away loneliness and bitterness with acts of kindness.  My initial plan this Valentine's was to make a heart shaped cake:

I made two mistakes.  The first being that I bought two round cake tins instead of one round and one square, and the second was that I did not go to the grocery store armed with an ingredient list…whoops!  (P.S. Thanks everyone for chocolate cake suggestions!  Will be trying them next time I go to the grocery store)

On to plan B: Sugar Cookies!

1 cup of butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar

"It's so fluffy I'm gonna die!"  

1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 egg 

2 3/4 cups of flour - real flour for the office peeps!  I ended up breaking down and using my (clean!!!) hands to mix the dough because the flour kept spilling out onto the counter...

No, I didn't make my own icing, I'm not quite as talented as Kiki

Purple: the anti-Valentine's color ;-)

Soooo many cookies!
The good: I couldn't taste them myself, but everyone in the office claimed they were good!

The bad: Not a recipe criticism as much as a frosting criticism - the sprinkles didn't much care to stick the way they should have.  Next time I'll take my co-worker's advice and pour them in a bowl and dip the cookies…

The ugly: flour chaos!  

I would definitely use this recipe again!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Dewberry Pie - A Short Story

When I first started my blog back in college, I shared some of my fiction.  After going to Peru, this blog sort of morphed into more personal life lessons and events.  But this week, a little tired from studying and meetings and church and busyness at work (and, let's face it, watching the Olympics) I decided to go back to an old piece of fiction and share it with anyone willing to read.  For a little background, I wrote this for my creative writing class in college to get another perspective of an ongoing character named Tommy.  All of his stories are told from his perspective save this one.

Followed by the smell of Chanel Number 5, Judith Summers rushed into the white painted house grasping her five year old, wild haired son Tommy by the wrist.  So hurried was she that she did not even notice the smell of fresh dewberry pie that wafted through the living room.  But Judith Summers was constantly hurried and her sister Jo told her so.
            “Child, you need to slow down,” she said standing in the doorway of the kitchen, fists on her wide hips.  A bright red apron that stretched across her thick midsection was covered in flour and her dyed blue hair was just as crazy as her nephew’s.
            “Sorry Jo, my flight leave in a few hours and you know the nearest airport is an hour away,” Judith said readjusting the Coach purse draped over her bony shoulder.  “Thanks for taking care of Tommy again.”  She ruffled her son’s hair and without another word rushed out the door back into the dusty wind.
            Jo shook her head.  “That girl,” she mumbled.  Her eyes, the color of blue bonnets, turned to her nephew who was teetering backward under the weight of his ripped, red duffle bag.  “Well, Tom looks like it’s just you and me son.  Let’s get you settled upstairs and then you can have some pie.”
            Tommy grinned revealing a large gap between his teeth. 
            The two of them clomped up the stairs, Jo pausing every once in a while to help Tommy who constantly stumbled over his Superman shoelaces.  When they reached his ‘special’ guest room, a room Aunt Jo had made up pink in anticipation for a girl; Tommy dropped his bag and flopped onto the frilly bed, a sigh banishing the air from belly in a loud whoosh.
            Jo looked down at her nephew.  His chubby cheeks were red from heat stair climbing.  She sank down next to him, springs protesting her weight.  He looked up at her.  By some chance God blessed him with her blue eyes rather than Judith’s brown ones.  She smiled at him.  “Ready for some pie, hon?”
            “Can I have milk?”  The boy asked.
            “Of course you can honey.”
            Tommy jumped off the bed and ran down the stairs toward the kitchen, shoelaces flopping like dog-ears.  Jo followed his bouncing, blond head.  The boy slipped on her bristly red and blue rug but recovered quickly and darted into the black and white tiled kitchen.  He hopped up onto one of the wooden chairs surrounding the table.  His legs dangled above the freshly cleaned floor.  As Jo sliced into the golden crust he flicked the fake berries that hung from a wax plant at the center of the table. 
            From the living room came the rusty song of the old grandfather clock.  Tommy’s eyes darted through the door and he gasped slightly.  That clock had always frightened him.
            Jo placed the piece of pie in front of her nephew on a plastic purple plate along with a glass of milk.  She then sat beside him with her cup of coffee, black.  “So Tommy, how is school going?”
            “It’s ok,” Tommy said through a mouthful of dewberries and piecrust.  He swung his legs back and forth and berry blood stained his finger tips.  “We just had career day and there was this guy who was a fireman, and a guy who did something with rocks, and a guy who wrote stuff.  It was pretty cool.  Aunt Jo, what did my Daddy do?”
            Jo raised her brows.  Judith hadn’t ever told him, of course, why tell the child something like that?  Mark Summers had died of a heart attack when Tommy was two.  He had been out mowing the lawn and it just happened.  One minute there, and then the next…“Well sweetheart,” she said.  “Your father was a teacher.  He taught high school Chemistry.”
            “What’s Chem-ch- what’s that?” 
            “Chemistry,” Jo said rather slowly.  “Is when people study tiny little things that you can’t see with your eyes.”
            Tommy cocked his head to the side.  He was still holding his fork in his fist and sucking on one of his very purple fingers.  “What kinda things?”
            Jo thought for a moment taking a long sip of her coffee.  The tips of her fingers traced the raised outline of the blue cat on the front of her mug.  “Small things,” she said.  “You’ll learn about it one day.”  She watched her nephew as he licked the bluish juice from the plate and shook her head.  “Child, were you raised to lick your plate clean?”
            The boy grinned. 
            “You silly boy.”  Jo stood and took his plate.  She walked to the sink and ran the water.  Steam rose up into her face fogging her glasses.  “So Tom, what do you want to be when you grow up?” 
            Blue fore finger still flicking the fake berries on the plant and chin resting on his palm Tommy rolled his eyes up to the white ceiling, Jo’s glow in the dark stars yellow in the day light.  “I wanna go to the moon,” he said finally.
            “So you want to be an astronaut?”
            “No, I just want to go to the moon.”
            Jo smiled.  “How are you going to get there?”
            “Aunt Jo,” the boy said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.  “I’m gonna fly.”
            “Well Tom I didn’t know you could fly.”  Jo dried the plate and put it back in the cabinet.  She covered her pie with saran wrap then walked back to the table and put her hand on her nephew’s head.
            “Of course I can,” he replied.
            Jo poked him in the ribs.  “Oh really?”
            Tommy giggled.
            “Come on kiddo you wanna play outside or something?”
            Tommy slid off the chair and ran to the back door.  Jo laughed and unlocked it watching him run outside.  The boy turned around and looked at her.  “Aunt Jo, can we play with your marbles?”
            “Sure we can dear.”

Monday, February 10, 2014

Worshiping Types and Shadows...

“I will never find love!”

Really?  And I thought I’d left the overdramatic high schooler, well, back in high school…

“I am totally content being alone.”


"She's getting married?  But God…but…but…that's not fair!"

Sometimes I feel like I’m multiple people; one minute thanking my "lucky stars" I can have a Sunday afternoon nap with no children or spouse to demand my time...and the next minute shaking my fist at the heavens, bemoaning the “curse” of “not being loved”, not “being chosen”...

…Hmm, maybe it’s the multiple personality disorder that’s scaring the men-folk away…(not to mention my girl friends…seriously guys, stop moving away to stupid places like Norman and Midland!)

Oh look!  One of the girls I mentored four years ago just got engaged!  And there right beneath her on my Facebook feed is a chubby cheeked child sound asleep on his daddy’s chest…


…hand holding…

…teary eyed engagements…

…wedding dresses…

…baby belly pics…

Maybe I should quit Facebook.  Part of me rejoices - I’m so happy for my friends, for young people taking the difficult step to commit to one another before the Lord…but part of me aches, longs for the same, ponders what my dysfunction must be that I’m still alone when so many of my friends have broken “out of the cocoon of adolescence and [gotten] going with their lives”. 

...Netflix, you will be my boyfriend…oh wait, did they just add “Say Yes to the Dress”?  Maybe Pintrest…ooo, is that a wedding board?

Rats.  I must be a glutton for punishment.

You’re too picky.

It’s just coffee, so what if you don’t like him.

You’ll miss singleness once you are married.

“…do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”  Romans 12:2 

My problem isn’t Facebook.

It’s not that that girls I once discipled are getting married or that my peers are on baby number 2.

It’s not that there is something so screwed up about me that no man could possibly love me.

My problem is that I allow my mind to be conformed to this world.  If I can’t have something, frankly, I’d prefer that no one else had it either.  I cringe just writing that sentence, but sadly it’s true.  Worst still, I have made the love of an earthly man my ultimate goal.  Again…I cringe.  I have many married friends whose stories alert me to the fact that not only is marriage hard, but guys, like, think different…and I have a younger brother to prove that guys can be, like, gross…Yet I’ve elevated earthly romantic love to this pedestal that can likely only be found in some sappy romance novel…
Anybody know where I can get a dress like that?


Why can’t I remember the fact that I’m infinitely loved by One Who has no reason to love me at all?  Whose love I forfeited?  Why do I long for a stinky earthly guy who will in all likelihood leave his unmentionables on the floor and the toilet seat up when Christ died for me the ungodly, while I was still a stinky Sinner (Romans 5:6, 8)?  I need to be transformed by the renewing of my mind, to meditate on the greatest act of love imaginable…I think that’s the only way I’ll ever stop celebrating half-heartedly the joys of my friends, and truly be able to say with Paul “…I have learned to be content in…any and every circumstance…I can do all things through Him Who strengthens me.”  (Philippians 4:12, 13)

Still, just after this verse Paul tells the church at Philippi that they had done well to share with him in his affliction…so pray for me, friends, call me out when I complain and chose to dwell on the bitterness of this life rather than the joy to come, help me remember the love displayed on the cross and to stop worshipping the types and shadows instead of their fulfillment.


Happy Valentines to you all.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Friday Night Foodie: Muffins!

My mother used to make blueberry muffins on Saturday mornings.  The smell of baked goods threading from the kitchen to my bed room, rousting me from sleep, more than enough motivation to abandon the warmth of the pile of sheets and blankets, pillows and stuffed animals.  A few years later I would help her, stirring in tiny purple berries, watching the juice swirl like paint at the tip of a paint brush, licking the spoon after filling the muffin tins and sliding them into the oven.  In college I often treated myself to a health breakfast of Otis Spunkmeyer chocolate chocolate chip muffins and a diet coke (because that made it not so bad) before I went to my 8 AM English class Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Muffins have been a sort perpetual comfort food reaching from childhood on into my adult life.  Typically, I've stuck to the same box mix my mother used, after all, the simple dump and stir rarely failed even a baking dunce like myself.  Tried and true recipes I have no problem with, but venturing off the beaten path and I often find myself with rubbery cake, crunchy cookies, and pumpkin bread that looks like meatloaf.  So for me, attempting a new muffin recipe certainly poses a challenge and, as expected, results in the infamous kitchen disaster.  

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup white rice flour (I used brown rice flour because it's what I had)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon or lime zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries

The batter turned out very, very thick and literally flung in every direction.  See my shirt?  Covered in batter...

Fresh blue berries.

425 for 15-20 minutes in greased muffin tins.

The good: delicious!  Absolutely lovely.

The bad: very, very thick and messy…this was mostly my own fault.  I should have followed the direction in order of operations ;-)

The ugly: I used blueberries that were a little past their prime…so I kind of ended up pulling them out as I ate them and just ate, well, plain muffins.

This recipe is definitely a do again!

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Busy Hands

 Linking up this week with Kiki O. 


Long fingered.

Alabaster skin.




These are not my hands.

Marked by pale white lines of scars, memories of the past.

Broken by patches of skin torn away by table corners.

Interrupted by red-rimmed burn marks seared into flesh from careless baking.

Thin cuts from hurried zucchini slicing.

Dried by wind.

Knobbed by computer use.

Calloused by weights and guitar strings…

My hands see work.  My hands do not often rest. 

Busy with work.

Busy with school.

Busy in making a home even if only a home for myself. 

“Go to the ant…”

There is a glorification of busy, but “idle hands are the devil’s workshop”.  While busy can distract, the mind wanders to dark places in moments of rest.  Daily life is a balance of finding the quiet and being productive.  It leaves scars and tears and burn.  It drains and dries.  It makes the heart long…

Long for rest without temptation.

Long for work without exhaustion.

Long for productivity without pride.

There is miracle in the monotony as my eyes are drawn upward to that which I even my imagination can hardly grasp.  These scars remind me of the fallenness of this world and long for things to come.