31 August 2012

Weekend linkage

"Well, it's a lot easier for you to sound condescending than it is for other people."
-Jared

---

Pregnancy happenings: Did you know that pregnant women tend to burp a lot? Neither did I. Until this week. Ha.

[while watching Planet Earth]
Me: Look, the penguins can sled on their bellies.
Jared: Soon you'll be able to do that too!

Lucky for him I have such an excellent sense of humor. Another woman would have slapped him upside the head.

---

From Thabiti Anyawile: "I'm tired of hearing The Gospel." So great, and I'm glad I'm not the only one who is thinking this. :) (I suspect that only those who attend a particular type of church will fully appreciate this article. Jared and I sure did. How easy it is to rely on shorthand rather than think deeply.)

The hipsters strike again, this time in a remake of Campbell's soup.

Besse Cooper, the world's oldest person, probably did not eat a lot of Campbell's. "I mind my own business and I don't eat junk food." ha.

Splendiferous paper art.

29 August 2012

Well Written Wednesdays: as small as a world

beach
{image credit: The Family Dog}
maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:

and may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea

-e.e. cummings

---

No beach for us this year-- first we lacked time, now I lack energy--but we do love it. There's nothing like the ocean horizon, the whisper of waves, and a wide expanse of sand. Thankfully, we got a good dose of the sea in Maine earlier this summer! Oh, how I wish I could be there now. Fresh air makes all the different in my current queasy state, and salt air? The best.

28 August 2012

summer flora

As it turns out, I made some excellent choices for the flower garden this year. Mostly by luck, with a wee bit of brainpower. I haven't really paid attention to my flowers for three weeks (thanks to the tadpole) and yet! They live!

It helps that in the spring we put down some mulch to discourage weeds, but apart from that, I think I just picked nice hardy plants that manage to thrive on neglect. They aren't worthy of a spread in Martha Stewart, but they are still blooming and not ugly, and that's all that matters to me right now.

At the top of our stone wall we have nasturtiums, lobelia, zinnias, and marigolds. (Most of the marigolds started out in the vegetable garden, where I planted at least two packets in hopes of keeping away pests. They all got enormous down there and were actually crowding out the tomatoes and chili peppers, so I transplanted at least half of them to this flowerbed, where they continue to grow.) Zinnias are one of our favorite flowers to plant because they are just so irrepressibly cheerful.

In the pine tree flowerbed-- that's how I identify it-- there are mostly shrubs, and nothing grows very well because the stupid trees suck up all the water. However, last year I discovered by chance that coleus will survive even in this acidic soil. So coleus it was, with its pink, lime green, and rusty orange foliage.

In the last flowerbed are my beloved lavender (done blooming now but still fragrant) and pink stargazer lilies (also finished for the season). Right now the chrysanthemums are taking over, along with autumn joy sedum. To fill in the gaps, I picked up some annuals on a whim: I liked the colors, really, and had no idea how they would turn out. I think they were called "cotton candy." Well, they took root and produced some lovely pink and white blooms!

So there you have it. I'm not much of a green thumb, but I have found that if you pick the right flowers, you can make things look half-decent despite your own ineptitude. And sickness. :) When we move-- hopefully this fall-- I look forward to transplanting some lavender and lilies to our new home!

24 August 2012

Weekend linkage

Me: I like the name Genevieve.
Jared: How would you spell that?
Me: G-E-N-E-V-I-E-V-E. And I like Eliza too.
Jared: How would you spell that?
Me: With an E. I also like Rose.
Jared: How would you spell--
Me: OH MY GOODNESS JUST STOP IT.
Jared: hahahaha

---

Pregnancy happenings: At least being sick 75% of the time gives me a legitimate excuse to lounge about with books. Yesterday I read Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers (yes! the whole thing!) and about half of Kim Edwards' The Memory Keeper's Daughter--which is extremely good so far. Though I managed to get some work in too, mostly I am working my way through the stack of Stuff I Haven't Read Yet.

In other news, I want Chipotle and our baby looks like a tadpole. (A cute one.)

---

Hipsters: visit Applebee's ironically! I love the Onion.

Interesting animated history of LEGO.

What ho! Another BBC period drama in the works.

Now that is a brilliant flash mob.

Climbing wall inspired by Alice in Wonderland.

Someone please buy this for us.

22 August 2012

my quarter-century celebration, part II

whiskey ganache in double boiler
{image credit: queenofthemoodswingset2}
Last time we talked about the healthy side of dinner. Now, less so. This torte does have good stuff like eggs and butter, but then there's all the sugar . . . aw shucks, who cares? It's a birthday cake!

This torte is wonderful. Very intense chocolate base with a rich cheesecake swirl. (Mom, I think you'll really like it.)

I served it in small wedges with a tart strawberry-peach coulis, which nicely offset the rich cake. And believe me, you only want to serve it in small wedges.

---

Chocolate Cheesecake Torte
(slightly adapted from Cooking for Seven)

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

10 ounces semisweet baking chocolate
10 tablespoons butter
3 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon rum
1 teaspoon vanilla

cocoa powder for dusting cake

1) Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch round cake pan, then line the bottom with parchment paper.
2) In mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until very soft.* Add 1/2 cup sugar, egg, and vanilla; beat until smooth. Set aside.
3) Break chocolate into small chunks and cut butter into pieces. Using double boiler** melt chocolate and butter together, stirring until completely smooth. Let cool slightly.
4) In second mixing bowl beat eggs, 1/3 cup sugar, rum, and vanilla for several minutes, until thick and glossy. Pour in melted chocolate and beat thoroughly.
5) Spread about two-thirds of the chocolate batter in the prepared pan. Add the cream cheese batter in several scoops, then top with the rest of the chocolate. Swirl the chocolate and cream cheese together with the tip of a knife.
6) Bake 35-40 minutes (a toothpick inserted several inches from the edge should still come out coated in soft fudge). Remove from oven and cool on wire rack for 1 1/2 hours. The cake will be puffy and cracked when it comes out of the oven, and will sink as it cools.
7) To separate cake from pan, tilt pan so that it is almost perpendicular to the counter; rap pan's edge firmly on counter, rotating as you do so, in order to loosen cake completely. Once cake is free from pan's sides, invert onto large plate covered in parchment paper. Lift pan off and peel away parchment circle. Sift cocoa powder over bottom of cake, then invert onto serving plate and remove remaining parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least four hours before serving.

*You can use a stand mixer or hand beaters for this. I used a large fork and elbow grease!
**Lacking a real double boiler, I just put a glass bowl over a simmering pot of water. Works just as well.

20 August 2012

yippy skippy: a story and FAQs

Here is the story of the miracle.

Part I  
(Guys, you probably won't care about this at all, but girls like to know.)

I have been working with a naturally-minded doctor for years--he has been my primary medical provider since age twelve and has done so much to help me. Despite the great changes we saw, however, my menstrual cycles were never normal.  Unpredictable was an understatement. This mattered little in high school and college, but when I got married, I wanted to settle things down.

We looked into it more. Turns out that my estrogen was off the charts thanks to a combination of stress and poor liver function. Friends, if you know anything about female hormones, you know that you really don't want anything off the charts; the body is a tightly choreographed ballet, and once your endocrine system gets wonky, so does everything else. Given my lovely Type A personality, the stress would most likely remain, so I used an herbal supplement to help reduce estrogen naturally. Though that certainly helped, actual pregnancy did not follow. Next we worked on the liver. No dice. Then we got to overactive adrenal glands, which were helping to churn out that excess estrogen and essentially tricking my body into thinking it was on birth control all this time. Fantastic.

Meanwhile, I had been discovered that my basal body temperature was alarmingly low. I felt lucky if it ever popped up above 97 degrees! This low temperature, coupled with adrenals on overdrive, pointed to hypothyroidism. (Thyroid and adrenal glands work in tandem: if one falters, the other picks up the slack. So it made sense that if my adrenals were working too hard, my thyroid must be weak.)

Medication seemed to be our best option. Now, I don't even like taking Advil, but if my crazy-smart, skeptical-of-modern-medicine doctor was recommending thyroid meds, I knew it was time.

I filled my first prescription the first week of June.

I got pregnant the following month.

Hmm. Guess he was right.

Part II

On July 21st I decided to take a pregnancy test. I hadn't done so for a year and had no real reason to think it would be any different this time--I simply cherished some faint, faint hope that the medication would have worked. But there was only one line. You need two for a baby. Not this time, I thought.

On July 28th I decided to take another pregnancy test. A few days before, a friend had casually mentioned that she'd had a false negative with one of her children. What if? I wondered. What if? Still, I was convinced that the previous weekend's results were accurate, and had no real reason to think it would be any different this time--but-- oh God.

In that second space there was a faint, faint line.

I started shaking. Then I took a shower, baked some apple spice muffins, and tried another test. Same thing. Holy cow. I called Jared, who was working outside, on the pretext that I needed him to find some paperwork for me. When he walked in, I gave him a muffin. And then I told him: "So. I lied. The real reason I called you is that I think you're going to be a daddy."

You should have seen his face. Grinning when your mouth is full of muffin is very difficult, but he managed.

I have to admit that I took three more pregnancy tests before I really believed it. (Remember what I said about Type A?) By Sunday morning I was fully convinced, and by Sunday afternoon, we'd told our immediate family. Talk about joy.

We're told that the baby will arrive at the beginning of April. Until then, we have a lot of waiting and planning and rejoicing to do. Thank you for sharing in our struggles; thank you for lifting us up in prayer; and thank you, now, for joining in our elation.

So that's it: I have a baby in my belly. And God did it.

FAQs

1) The due date is April 7th. If all goes well, we're planning to have the baby at Birth Care.
2) Though I am not drinking caffeine, it's more out of necessity than conviction; my body revolted against tea and coffee somewhere around week 5. Once the first trimester is over I will go back to one cup a day, which is the recommended allowance for a pregnant woman anyway. I am still happily eating fish, rare beef, and raw eggs. If it's safe for me, I am also confident that it's safe for my baby. (NB: I only eat those things because I trust my food sources. I sure wouldn't recommend making mayonnaise with factory-farmed eggs.) Also--gasp!--the occasional glass of wine.
3) Once we find out whether it's a boy or a girl, I promise to let you know. :)
4) My brothers' name suggestions so far include Gatling Gun, Pimsleur, Fifi, Gluteus Maximus, and Nicholas If-Jesus-Christ-Had-Not-Died-For-Thee-Thou-Hadst-Been-Damned Barebon. We have . . . issues.
5) Still sick. Oh well.
6) Yep, I'm planning to teach all year. We'll take a break when the baby arrives, then pick up in a couple of weeks and still be done by the middle of May. (The nice thing is that even if I get put on bedrest or end up with a C-section, well, all I need for work is a laptop. I don't have to go anywhere.) This should be the last year of teaching for a while, though!

p.s. If you know anything about botanical symbolism you know why I chose a pomegranate tree for this post's image. Ha, ha.

17 August 2012

Weekend linkage

Jared: Now I'm hungry again.
Me: So am I.
Jared: But you're always hungry.
Me: No, I'm just always really pleased to eat.

After an ultrasound to determine how far along the baby is, Jared's comments about his child: "It's rather blobby" and (in reference to the heartbeat) "Look, it blinks!"

---

If famous authors had written Twilight. . . (Language alert.) Thanks, Luke.

I really like this post from Ann Voskamp: 10 Ways to Be a Happier Mom. Note that it doesn't say "10 ways to be a better mom" or "10 ways to make your kids behave." It isn't legalistic--no big list of rules--it is directed at a mother's heart, her trust in the Lord, and in the end is supremely joyful.

I don't have a child outside of the womb yet, but this one is already shaking up my days. With feeling sick and tired, I already have a small taste of what it's like to give up your own plans for the sake of a little one. Nausea is not fun, not in the least, but I can see some of the Lord's purpose in it for me.

16 August 2012

houston, we have a miracle.

Texture Tuesday with Kim Klassen
{image credit: artsdesireblog}
Ummmmmmm . . . you guys?

I kind of have an announcement. It's a good one. So I wrote a poem, just for you. I spent an awfully long time on this. I hope you approve.

The effect is improved if you recite it aloud while jumping rope.
Jared and Rebekah sitting in a tree
K-I-S-S-I-N-G
First came love
Then came marriage
Now we're gonna need a baby carriage
Yes.

Jesus is amazing. And we're over-the-moon happy. (Well, I am when I'm not feeling ill, which is often. "Morning" sickness, my foot. Who are these lucky women who only get sick before lunch? But all told, it's really not too bad.)

Obviously, we will need your name suggestions or this baby is going to be called some crazy name out of a Hawthorne novel.

More details to come! :)

"The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life."
(Job 33:4)

The Dreame by Patrick Doyle on Grooveshark

15 August 2012

my quarter-century celebration meal, part I

  Salmon steak
{image credit: Maksis}
C'est moi, the shameless carnivore. Exhibit A: What I Ate On My Twenty-Fifth Birthday: grilled salmon steak, two salads, and chocolate cheesecake torte with a crisp organic zinfandel to round things out.

It really can't get much better.

Jared took care of the salmon so I won't be giving a recipe here. I have nothing to do with the grill, thank you very much. Flames mesmerise me, so much so, that I'd probably forget to turn the meat.

I do know that he brushed the steaks with olive oil, liberally doused them in salt and pepper, and grilled them on foil.

Every time my husband grills salmon, he makes some doubtful comment like "I don't know how this will turn out!" or "We'll see how this goes!" And every time it's astoundingly delicious.

Now for the salads.

---

Mustard Potato Salad
(adapted from Stylish Cuisine)

1 1/2 lbs red potatoes
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2-3 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon coarse-grain mustard
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/3 cup minced green pepper
black pepper to taste
chopped tarragon and thyme, to taste

1) Scrub potatoes and cut into bite-sized pieces. Bring place in large pot and cover with water. Bring to boil, then simmer until just tender (start with 5 minutes and go from there). Drain well, then place in large mixing bowl.
2) Whisk together remaining ingredients and pour over potatoes. Stir to coat and adjust seasonings. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Green Bean Tomato Salad
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

1 lb green beans, stemmed and cut in half
1 lb cherry tomatoes, halved (I used a mix of red and yellow from our garden)
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
fresh herbs to taste

1) Bring large pot of water to boil; tip in the green beans and cook for 5 minutes, just until tender. Drain well. Place in large mixing bowl with tomatoes and red onion.
2) Pour olive oil and vinegar into blender, and combine thoroughly. Pour over vegetables and toss. Season to taste. Serve at room temperature. This salad is honestly one of my favorite things this summer!

10 August 2012

Weekend linkage

Jared: What is your favorite meal?
Me: Well, it generally involves an expensive hunk of meat.

---

How the Olympic physique has changed over time.

Speaking of, which athlete do you most closely resemble? (My answer was Christina Vogel, a German track cyclist.)

The very colorful queen.

Why don't we eat camel cheese?

09 August 2012

Italian zucchini casserole

Grilled Zucchini 1of5
{image credit: Food Thinkers}
Two years ago, it was bread. Last summer, it was stuffed zucchini. This time around, my summer zucchini solution is a lasagna-inspired casserole. When the world offers you vegetables for pennies, you must find something to do with them . . . that is, something in addition to the quick and simple saute in butter.

(Really, I'm finding that when I need a vegetable for dinner, the best solution is a helter-skelter assortment of whatever is in the fridge. Slice and then stir-fry in coconut oil or butter, plus a bit of salt and whatever herbs seem to go best with the main dish. Since I usually have at least three different kinds of vegetables on hand, but they don't always lend themselves to salad (i.e. no lettuce), an ad hoc stir-fry is more reliable.)

Back to the casserole. After we enjoyed it for dinner one night, Jared took the leftovers to work the next day . . . and emailed me over lunch to emphasize how much he liked it. So you see it gets the husbandly stamp of approval, not just mine.

---

Italian Zucchini Casserole
(adapted from Kitchen Stewardship)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground beef or turkey
2+ zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds*
1 28-oz jar flavorful pasta sauce
1 6-oz can tomato paste, divided
2 tablespoons water
sea salt to taste
1 cup mixed grated mozzarella and Parmesan

1) Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish. Set a large pot of water to boil.
2) Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add onion and garlic; saute until soft, for about 10 minutes. Add meat and cook until browned and crumbled.
3) Drain any extra liquid from meat and vegetables. Stir in pasta sauce and 2/3 of the tomato paste; taste and add salt if needed.
4) Meanwhile, once the pot of water has come to boil, tip in the sliced zucchini and cook for 4 minutes. Drain in large colander and shake out excess water; let cool slightly.**
5) Whisk the 2 tablespoons of water together with remaining tomato paste; spread on the bottom of your prepared baking dish. Arrange zucchini on top, in two layers of overlapping slices. Add a generous sprinkling of salt.
6) Spoon meat mixture over zucchini layer and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
7) Sprinkle cheese on top and bake for 10 more minutes, until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbly at the edges.

Just as with regular lasagna and other casseroles, you can make this ahead of time. I have never frozen it (though I have frozen parboiled zucchini slices, which is a great time saver) but I will often make it in the morning and pop it in the oven later.

*Zucchini don't exactly come in standard sizes. You want enough for two layers on the bottom of a 9x13 pan. If you have those small grocery store zucchinis with a one-inch diameter, you will need four or five. If you have an overgrown baseball bat, you might only need one, with the slices halved or quartered!
**This parboiling step gives your finished casserole a nicer texture and makes it less watery.

08 August 2012

on skillets

Miso Glazed Salmon Steaks with Green Beans
{image credit: Kenchy}
I decided that cast iron is too much bother for me at the moment, so I'm going to stick with my standby: cold hard steel.

Though nonstick pans give me the heebie-jeebies, nothing beats them for omelets; this Paula Deen skillet works wonderfully for that purpose. For everything else on the stovetop, I try to use stainless steel. I recently discovered this lovely Calphalon skillet at TJ Maxx for $20 less than Amazon lists it (sticking it to Amazon! what!) and it is now my favorite piece of cookware. You gotta scrub it to get that shine, but that's what steel wool is for.

Scrambled eggs work just fine in stainless steel, by the way. Cook them in plenty of butter, keep the flame on the low side, and use a metal spatula to scrape the bottom. No problems and no Teflon flaking into your breakfast.

The rest of the collection: two small pots from Schulte-Ufer, a large stockpot from Kuhn Rikon, a huge high-sided skillet from Master Class . . . and every blessed one was found at TJ Maxx or Marshall's. :) None of it matches, but I don't mind. Each piece is all stainless steel with triple-ply bottom and sturdy construction, and with a dose of aforementioned steel wool, will gleam like new. That is what counts.

Oh. I forgot. I also have a tiny (like five inches in diameter) Revereware skillet I inherited from Jared's grandmother. It's perfect for melting butter. And with how much butter we go through, you better believe that thing gets used.

What pots and pans do you recommend?

Someday, when our elusive ship sails into port, I'll buy a full set of All-Clad. Heh.

p.s. The salmon in the picture looks fantastic. I've never tried miso . . . do you like it?

07 August 2012

this is not really a recipe but I will pretend.

drink
{image credit: Nicole Zeigler}
I drink a lot (of water, people, of water. Though we haven't suffered for a lack of mojitos and vermontucky lemonade either) during the summer, but sometimes that gets boring. And heavens, we can't have boring in our beverage department.

To shake things up, here is what I've been drinking for the past couple weeks: 1/2 cup cranberry juice blend, a 16-ounce bottle of Pellegrino, and several frozen strawberries, all dumped into a water bottle with lots of ice and a slice of lime.

Could one call this a mocktail? Does it have enough ingredients? Please say yes. It would make me feel so sophisticated . . . also, then I could come up with a fancy name for it, like The Scarlet Letter. Or The Red Badge of Courage. Or A Study In Scarlet.

(What? I've been writing study guides.)

06 August 2012

a quartet of lessons: things God has taught me through infertility

Rose Macro - IMGP7758
{image credit: Bahman Farzad}
I wrote this post before Jared sprung his on me. Be assured that despite the sober tone of this little piece, I'm nowhere near depressed. It has simply been a sober sort of year, in a good way, though not easy.

Baby, you're crazy and I love you.

---

Happy birthday to me!

The Lord has given me some hard gifts this past year. Hard to open, hard to understand. They did not seem like blessings at the beginning. However, I'm seeing them more clearly now--I wanted to share them with you as a way of testifying to His faithfulness. He doesn't give up on us and He never stops His good work in our hearts.

Here is what I have learned.

God's people love one another. I tend towards cynicism. When we first opened up about our struggle with infertility--that is, when we started to tell people outside of our very close circle of friends--I doubted that anyone would care. I was so wrong. They have remembered. They have encouraged us. They have prayed for us. They have cried with us. I have seen the love of Christ compelling them, igniting their hearts to extend the same love to Jared and me. And through that incarnated grace I've come to trust Him more.

Prayer counts. I have recently written several times about prayer, here and here. Those thoughts were  prompted by the darkness I've been walking through. Prayer used to feel a little like talking to the ceiling, or a duty to check off my Pharisee list. That's because I did not recognize my need for communion with the Lord. Once more, I was so wrong.

I know that without the desperation this trial has brought, I would not have learned what I did about prayer: that God listens, that He cares, that He speaks right back. Nothing we say to God--whether praise or a plea for help--goes wasted.

I cannot place my faith in a healthy lifestyle. Ever since I was a wee lass, I have loved to get things right. (Just ask my mom; I wailed on the first day of kindergarten because I didn't already know the answers.) The same goes for health and nutrition. I research my head off, then do the very best I can . . . and  . . . no pregnancy.

So is my hope in a perfect diet? It better not be. The Lord is sovereign. I trust Him alone. What I eat and how I exercise are important, but oh, they cannot be my salvation.

Life hurts. I am not a very compassionate person. I think this is partially due to selfishness, and partially to the relative ease of my life so far. In these two and a half years, God has been changing that. He has been breaking my heart so that it can feel another's pain. Grief and despair have moved from theoretical to actual. Infertility hurts exponentially more than anything else in my experience; I'm willing to bet that I have cried more in this small span of time than in the entire ten--even twenty--years previous. Now when I hear of suffering in the world, whether it's in a Chinese orphanage or just down the street, I actually have a reference point for that. I understand what it is to carry a burden, and I want to help carry others' burdens too.

This trial has not resembled my plan for our marriage in the least. Yet I am glad.

05 August 2012

something different.

Hello all, this is Jared - Rebekah's husband.  Not that I really have to say that for regulars who know all about me from reading this blog *ahem.

I wonder if you could help me out with a little birthday present for my lovely wife.  It is her birthday tomorrow - Monday, August 6.

If you regularly read this blog, would you be so kind as to post a comment?  It could be as simple as "Hey Rebekah, this is ____________, Happy Birthday!"  Or better yet write a paragraph or two.  If you don't mind leaving your name, that would be great.

I'd like her to be blessed by getting to hear from all of you who benefit from and appreciate her writing.  I don't know exactly how many of you there are, but quite a few I know.  Rebekah enjoys doing this and does it very well, but sometimes it is a labor and she wonders if it is really worth it.  I think if she would hear from every one of you, it would be a great encouragement.  Let's see how much the "Comments" tab can handle!

And now, this is my note:

Babe, thank you for thinking hard about things and thinking about hard things.  Thank you for taking the time, in this busy busy world, to carefully put those thoughts into words for others to benefit from.  Thank you for being such an awesome cook! (that's selfish, I know)  Thank you for your strong desire to do excellently with what God has given you.  Thank you for loving me and bearing with me.  Thanks for making our home such a wonderful place to be.  Thanks for marrying me.  I love you - Jared.

03 August 2012

Weekend linkage

Me (melodramatically): But seriously, babe. Do you think I'm pretty?
Jared (straight-facedly): Nope. Not pretty. Ugly! You are so ugly. I like ugly girls, and that's why I married you, because you were the ugliest one I could find. Ugly ugly ugly ugly ugly ugly ugly ugly. . .
[and at this point I am laughing hysterically into my pillow]

I realize that Jared's approach wouldn't work for a more thin-skinned woman. But it always works for me. You have to understand, he never insults people in real life. So when he starts getting ridiculous like this, I know that what he is really saying is: "You're being ridiculous. Of course I think you are pretty, and I think so because it is true. Now stop not believing me." I guess we just have strange ways of showing affection.

---

A fascinating Radiolab this week, all about color--I especially enjoyed the last segment on the ancient's lack of blue.

A Yelp review, read with the drama it deserves.

Pretty much.

Katie at Kitchen Stewardship reviews ten natural bug repellents.

"The logical next step in Mason jar mania." Not a bad step though.

To the Olympics! First of all, the US uniforms were boring as all get out. I wish we had a national costume like the Nigerians. Or the Senegalese.

Second, if you happen to win a medal, try not to lose it.

02 August 2012

ode to mustard

dijon mustard
{image credit: mary duque}
Oh, mustard. How does anyone cook without you? Quiche, lamb, and chicken are better for having met you. You perk up a plate of cheese and crackers (Dijon!), and complement sausage (stone-ground!). Some weird people even eat you out of the jar. With a spoon. Not that I know any such crazies.

And you're a star in salad dressings . . . like this addictive gem, perfect over a bowl of assertive greens.

---

Honey Mustard Dressing
(original recipe from This Week for Dinner) 

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup mild honey
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Whisk, chill, pour.

p.s. I did not realize how often I used mustard until I searched it on this blog. Wow. I should start bulk-ordering it.

Shared on Simple Lives Thursday

01 August 2012

but you have kept the good wine until now

20110709 010 Wine decanter
{image credit: scottdm}
On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine” . . . Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.
Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
(John 2:1-11)
I imagine that the bride and groom at Cana would have been quite happy with cheap wine, so long as their guests had something to drink. They weren't looking for divine glory--they just wanted a fix for the problem.

But God doesn't do shabby miracles.

In fact, shabby isn't even in the cards. When God acts, we know it will be the best imaginable. His perfection shines in His every deed. He is not satisfied with "good enough." God's works are superior to all.
And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
(Mark 7:27)
Why? Because He is Himself superior to all.
The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!
Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne . . .
The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.
All worshipers of images are put to shame,
who make their boast in worthless idols;
worship him, all you gods! . . .
For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.
(from Psalm 97)
You Alone Can Rescue by Matt Redman on Grooveshark