13 September 2014

Weekend linkage

Literary Map of London: more here.


Laura Ingalls Wilder's original memoir was a lot . . . earthier than Little House.
It contains stories omitted from her novels, tales that Wilder herself felt "would not be appropriate" for children, such as her family's sojourn in the town of Burr Oak, where she once saw a man became so drunk that, when he lit a cigar, the whisky fumes on his breath ignited and killed him instantly.

Your guide to medieval shopping.
A vintner caught selling foul wine is dragged to the pillory on a hurdle, forced to drink a draught of the offending liquor, and then set in the pillory where the remainder is poured over his head. The sweetness of the revenge makes up for the sourness of the wine.

"Great Mistakes In English Medieval Architecture." Most amusing.


From The Federalist: being pro-life isn't about defending "beautiful" babies.
The babies whom we wish to save will not all be happy, healthy children who will be adopted by picture-perfect, loving families. Some of them will grow up in tragic circumstances. Some will suffer tragic illnesses. All of them, one way or another, will face the brokenness of life in this world. Knowing this, all we can do is give. Barbarism takes. Civilization gives.

09 September 2014

4 ways in which I am just like my toddler

Or she is just like me.

1) I get very excited about breakfast.

Ellie requests breakfast within fifteen minutes of waking up. She eats a lot of it, too. I have always been the same. I typically need a couple of eggs, some fruit, and something else-- cheese? toast? yogurt?-- to get me going. I don't think I have ever skipped breakfast in my life. The very thought is horrible. How do you "coffee and half a banana" people make it through the morning?

2) I have a hard time dealing with large crowds.

Not that either of us are afraid of people. It's just that we can't handle interacting with more than one or two of them at a time. More than that and we get cranky and overwhelmed. When there are a lot of people, all talking at once, we both start zoning out and go off to do our own thing. (After church, for example, Ellie will dart around the lobby, intent on her private exploration and totally refusing to interact with any of the people around her. THERE ARE TOO MANY OF YOU LEAVE ME ALONE.)

3) I like shoes.

Ellie is obsessed with shoes. If she sees an unworn pair sitting around, she becomes very distressed  and tries to find someone to put them on. If you tell her that we're going to put on shoes to go outside, she makes an excited beeline for the closet.

Myself, I don't have a huge collection, but those I do have are very nice. I buy good shoes, ones I can wear for years without growing tired of them or getting blisters on my heels. My wedding shoes, for example, were a pair of gorgeous gray suede pumps from Naturalizer. I'm still wearing them five years later and they just have (very) minor scuffing on the toes. I don't need twenty pairs to choose from; I prefer having five that I really like.

4) I complain a lot.

We have started to tell Ellie "No whining" and "No complaining" when she breaks down over minor mishaps, such as a slight delay in snacktime. She has very little patience and tends to shriek in anger or just burst into tears, and we'd like for her to learn self-control. That requires lots of hand-holding, comforting, and generally showing her that no, this is not the end of the world and she can choose to be cheerful if she wants to.

Anyway, at the end of one long hot afternoon, I found myself sprawled on the couch whining over everything I'd had to do that day, everything I had failed to do, all the pregnancy aches and pains I had to deal with, etc. I realized that I sounded just like Ellie when she doesn't want to clean up her toys. My new mantra is "No complaining."

05 September 2014

Weekend linkage // Family snippets

Ellie's latest life skills include prancing about on tiptoe; scribbling with crayons; perfecting her princess wave; not yanking out her hair clips; correctly identifying her head, ears, nose, and belly; pretending to give her stuffed animals water out of her sippy cup; and making "soup" with kitchen tools purloined from my cupboards.

bon appetit!


Here's a great post from Time Warp Wife on what it means for us to be our husbands' "helpers":

You are not called to make him sandwiches or refill his drinks, though that is a nice thing to do. Your calling is be such a strength and power in the life of your husband that your conduct, your words, and your actions point him to Christ and make him want to be a more godly person.

If you live around here and are looking for fun this weekend, why don't you hit up The Importance of Being Earnest, performed by the Servant Stage Company at the Lancaster Trust? It's going to be a fab production, as Wilde is wont to be (my brother is playing Jack).

Tickets are $12 at the door . . . follow the link for more info.


Something pretty: a carpet of 750,000 flowers in Belgium.

29 August 2014

Family snippets

"Why do I have a little girl sitting on my head?"
-Jared grapples with the reality of fatherhood

"Aww, are you just a big ball of hormones?"
-Jared is a compassionate husband

I feel just as weepy-waily as I did last pregnancy around this point . . . everything is sad, terrifying, or otherwise disastrous.

Oh wait, it's not all disastrous. Jellybean is a girl!!! We just found out this week. And that is happy. I can't wait for Ellie to meet her sister.

The summer has been uneventful overall, apart from baby-growing and garden-tending. I canned nearly two dozen quarts of peaches a couple weekends ago, and the tomatoes are coming on, possibly providing fodder for more canning. Last week we visited my grandma in Ohio, a long trip for a little girl (survived with the help of bunny crackers and raisins). We went to the fair while we were out there, which was fun, especially for animal-loving Ellie.

26 August 2014

crunchy dill pickles

halfway through: still fresh and green

For about a month in the middle of the summer, cucumbers invaded my garden. And kitchen counter. And refrigerator. They were "Solly Beiler" cukes, especially bred for making pickles, and they were remarkably fruitful. (I ordered the seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.) Next year I will plant them again, but only two-thirds the number, so as not to be utterly overrun.

finished: not as green, but more delicious

Of course this invasion meant plenty of pickling. Here is the recipe I used: it's based on one I found in More With Less, an old Mennonite cookbook, and dressed up with a few more spices. Pickles are much easier than I suspected. In fact, canning is much easier than I suspected. It involves a lot of hot water and slicing, but I always thought it was rocket science that required five thermometers and a calculator. As it turns out, it's just cooking on a large scale, with more than usual attention paid to the timer.


Dill Pickles
(given quantities are enough for 8-9 quarts)

fresh unpeeled cucumbers
fresh dill
peeled garlic cloves
mustard seeds
black peppercorns
red pepper flakes
optional but recommended: Ball Pickle Crisp

12 cups water
6 cups white vinegar
1 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar

1) To prepare: thoroughly wash and rinse eight quart jars in hot water, and let airdry in clean area. Place lids in shallow pan of water, bring to boil, and let simmer for a few minutes. Fill large pot or canner halfway full of water and bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium and cover pot.
2) Pack each clean jar full of scrubbed cucumbers (whole or sliced), two stems of dill, one garlic clove, a pinch each of mustard seeds, peppercorns, and red pepper flakes, and a rounded 1/4 teaspoons of Pickle Crisp. Fill jars up to the shoulder.
3) Meanwhile, dissolve water, vinegar, salt, and sugar together in large pot and bring to boil. Let cool slightly, then pour over packed jars until liquid reaches the top of the shoulder with an inch of headspace. (If you have enough liquid for more than eight quarts, go ahead and fill more jars with cucumbers!)
4) Place sterilized lids on prepared jars and screw on rings. Lower gently into hot water and return to boil. Process in boiling water for 5 minutes, then remove from water and re-tighten lids. I can fit three to four jars in my large stockpot, so it takes a few go-rounds to process them all.
 5) Let jars cool on counter; lids should seal as the pickles cool. If any fail to seal, just stick them in the fridge and enjoy them over the next few days. Store sealed pickles in a cool, dark place and let sit for at least two weeks before eating.