30 July 2009

Thankful Thursdays: A certain nonexistence

Today I am grateful that something doesn't exist.

I am grateful that this thing has never existed.

I am grateful that this thing will never, ever exist.

Today, I am grateful that God-- unlike fallible humanity, and particularly the female half of it-- does not have mood swings.

"I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
-Psalm 16:7-11

28 July 2009

Okay, for realsies.

Apparently, some people would like an actual birthday list (how demanding of them). So here you go. To quote Maria, "These are a few of my favorite things."

Poetry, like this or this.

Sugar, like this or this.

Stoneware, like this or this.

And a bit of bling, like this or this.

Now I want to go shopping. Oh dear.

27 July 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: Sea Monster

"The Kraken" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Below the thunders of the upper deep;
Far far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides; above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumber'd and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

Kraken are mythological sea monsters, supposedly big and fierce enough to pull a man o' war to the bottom of the ocean. The legend seems to have begun in twelfth-century Norway and was probably based on real sightings of giant squid, or perhaps abnormally large octopi. Wherever Kraken came from, they're pretty sweet (and more than slightly terrifying). I like sea monsters.

Tennyson liked melancholy metaphors. I'm thinking that in this poem, the Kraken represents either man's subconscious fears and superstition, or the ugly truth about the world's evil nature. We drown it out but at the Last Judgment, where all things are revealed, it will come to light for everyone to see.
Tennyson was confused, like most Victorians . . . clinging to some Judeo-Christian framework, but doubting so much that his Christianity wasn't worth the name.

26 July 2009

Picnic Food

Our church holds weekly picnics on our farm property, which is a great opportunity for fellowship with the other members. It's also really nice to invite guests along! Our property is beautiful and the weather has been perfect for picnics.

Anyway, each family brings a side dish and dessert, and here's what I brought this week: a simple cucumber salad with cukes out of our garden (I never peel them, and sometimes I omit the sugar or vinegar), and a very moist buttermilk berry cake made with wineberries and a pinch of nutmeg.

25 July 2009

Filling the Bottomless Pit

Last night Jared and I made dinner for several friends, which is always a good time, especially since they were all hungry young men-- and as Hannah Stone would say, feeding hungry young men is my spiritual gift. :) At any rate, I take great pleasure in 1) making food and then 2) watching it disappear at an alarming pace. I like to think that I have contributed to filling the bottomless pit that is the stomach of the male populace.

While we're on the topic, my brothers (and my boyfriend) kind of remind me of this fellow:

Or this one:

Or this one:

23 July 2009

Thankful Thursdays: Quotable Brothers

I am grateful for my witty, ridiculous, and altogether wonderful brothers. Taken together, they are one of the greatest blessings in my life. (Yes, even when they blare distorted fiddle music through the basement, layering it with off-tempo jazz and slapping on some Howard Shore for good measure. Sheesh.)

Quotes from the past several weeks:

"Ahh! We lost our pants!"
-Simon and Matthew

"I love drinking whitewash."

"I felt like a German soldier in a Jewish furniture shop."

"Do you have any contact juice?"

"Yeah, I wasn't really eating the watermelon. I was just driving my mouth down in horizontal lines."
-Simon (after a watermelon eating contest)

"Get your foot out of my lap!"

"Do you like my tower of dishes?"

"It's okay. I'm used to picking my nose."

"Mmm. It is very tasty and munchable."

"I'll never laugh again, until I laugh at yooou . . ."
-Matthew (parodying a sappy love song)

"Okay, then we can put the dartboard in the kitchen."

"What did you do to yourself, Rebekah? You will never be pretty!"

22 July 2009

Birthday List

Like my mother, I tend to have pricey tastes. (No, really? That's a shocker.) See, I was thinking about potential birthday items. And I realized that the only things I really want are MONDO expensive.

Like seven-quart stand mixers.

Or razor-sharp Japanese knives.

And oh right, a car.

Ah, well . . . someday, when I dig up a treasure chest in the backyard or discover a rich uncle in Luxembourg, or when the proverbial ship comes in, I will have all the mixers and knives and cars I want. (And then I will realize that stuff doesn't satisfy me anyway, so I'd better learn to be content right now, with exactly what the Lord sees fit to give me!)

20 July 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: Les Miserables

Jared took me to see Les Mis at the Fulton on Thursday, which was very sweet of him, and all the more fun because it was a surprise. :) A excellent show. A more excellent boyfriend. So . . . an enjoyable evening all told.

Anyway, Eponine is one of my favorite characters, and I love this song. I always wish she could have married Marius rather than losing him to Cosette; not that I dislike Cosette, but I'm such a skeptic that I don't buy the love-at-first-sight thing, and I think that loyal, quiet, constant Eponine should have gotten Marius instead. Grr. The beauty of tragedy and all that.

"On My Own"

And now I'm all alone again
Nowhere to turn, no one to go to
Without a home, without a friend
Without a face to say hello to
But now the night is near
And I can make-believe he's here

Sometimes I walk alone at night
When everybody else is sleeping
I think of him and then I'm happy
With the company I'm keeping
The city goes to bed
And I can live inside my head

On my own
Pretending he's beside me
All alone
I walk with him 'til morning
Without him, I feel his arms around me
And when I lose my way,
I close my eyes and he has found me

In the rain
The pavement shines like silver
All the lights are misty in the river
In the darkness, the trees are full of starlight
And all I see is him and me forever and forever

And I know it's only in my mind
That I'm talking to myself and not to him
And although I know that he is blind
Still I say there's a way for us

I love him
But when the night is over
He is gone
The river's just a river
Without him, the world around me changes
The trees are bare and everywhere the streets are full of strangers

I love him
But every day I'm lonely
All my life I've only been pretending
Without me, his world will go on turning
The world is full of happiness that I have never known

I love him
But only on my own

16 July 2009

Thankful Thursdays: Visitors!

To my great delight, Laura Calderone and Hannah Mahan were at my house for several days this week. It was wonderful to see them and to catch up on life in person. We filled the time with tea, berries, and apple crisp; discussions of grammar, unicorns, and ecclesiology; and spending as much time as possible on the front porch. Also introducing one another to good new music. Also getting semi-sunburned.

Thanks for coming, girls. You are always a blessing and encouragement to me, and I'm so glad we have been able to continue our friendship after college. I will definitely come to Annapolis this fall, Lord willing and the creek don't rise. :)

14 July 2009

Pickle Love

Mmm . . . I love me some pickles. Crispy fresh sour vinegar garlic crunchity crunch pickles. That's summer to me, and this recipe is so easy that we've always got a batch in the fridge.

I usually double or triple the recipe, and when the pickles run low, just add more vegetables to the liquid. :) If you like sweeter pickles, you can increase the sugar.

Summer Refrigerator Pickles

1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1/3 cup white sugar
2 T. salt
2 t. whole cloves
1 t. whole peppercorns
1 t. whole mustard seed
1/2 t. whole celery seed
1/4 t. ground ginger
1 large garlic clove
sliced cucumbers, baby carrots, cauliflower, and whatever else you feel like pickling

Stir together all ingredients except vegetables; make sure the sugar dissolves completely.
Place vegetables in a large plastic or glass container (something with a lid).
Pour pickling liquid over vegetables. They should be completely covered.
Refrigerate pickles and eat at will . . .

Different vegetables take different amounts of time to be ready. Cucumbers take about a day, maybe two, while carrots and cauliflower need three days. They get less crisp as they go along.

13 July 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: In Word and Thought and Deed

Sonnet XXI, taken from "Sonnets From the Portuguese" by Elizabeth Barret Browning

Say over again, and yet once over again,
That thou dost love me. Though the word repeated
Should seem a “cuckoo-song,” as thou dost treat it.
Remember, never to the hill or plain,
Valley and wood, without her cuckoo-strain
Comes the fresh Spring in all her green completed.
Belov├Ęd, I, amid the darkness greeted
By a doubtful spirit-voice, in that doubt’s pain
Cry, “Speak once more—thou lovest!” Who can fear
Too many stars, though each in heaven shall roll,
Too many flowers, though each shall crown the year?
Say thou dost love me, love me, love me—toll
The silver iterance!—only minding, Dear,
To love me also in silence with thy soul.

I like this one. Browning asks for verbal confirmation, but also for sincerity of heart, and for deeds that prove the declaration. I suppose she's asking for the same breadth of love that we are commanded to give the Lord: heart, soul, mind, strength.

(I was at my cousin's wedding this past weekend. Hence the mushiness of this post. :) It was a lovely wedding, by the way, very joyful and God-centered.)

09 July 2009

Thankful Thursdays: Location, Location, Location

A few reasons why I love living in Southern Lancaster County, PA, during the summer.

1) Green. Green grass, green trees, green sumac and cornstalks and soybeans. Leaves everywhere, and plenty of rain to sustain them.

2) Fresh produce sold just down the road . . . down every road! Blueberries, zucchini, cucumbers, raspberries, corn, bell peppers, green beans, you name it. I love to cook, as everyone knows, and I'm blessed with such a crazy abundance of fresh ingredients.

3) Birds and deer and butterflies and squirrels. Yes, even though they have their downsides, critters make me happy.

4) Fireworks in all directions during Independence Day weekend. Rednecks are patriotic. ;o)

5) Winding roads are so much more interesting than grids on right angles.

08 July 2009

To Alter When It Alteration Finds

Read this post from Abraham Piper's blog, 22 Words.

It put me in mind of Shakespeare's sonnet on constancy in love:
Love is not love
That alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.

07 July 2009

Nerdiest Cool Thing Ever

Haha, oh man, this is amazing. Judith gave me a Shakespeare Globe as a graduation present, and I just put it together yesterday. Get this: ten-inch 3D cardboard globe, in four colors, crisp ink, and quotations from Shakespeare all over it. I kid you not. But not just any quotations. They're cartographical quotations about India and the Orient, about Spain and the Azores, about ocean currents and tropical winds. All in the correct spot on the globe, so that (for example) Antarctica has lines about "thick ribbed ice" and "frozen mountain-tops."

Plus there's a sheet of paper that lists every place that Shakespeare uses the words "globe," "world," and similar terms. Ahh . . . I can't stand the awesomeness. Maps maps maps. And SHAKESPEARE!!!

Why yes, I majored in English. How could you tell?

Anyway, to see pictures and to order your own Shakespeare Globe, visit this link.

06 July 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: Summer Fruit

"Blueberries" by Robert Frost

Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb,
Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum
In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!
And all ripe together, not some of them green
And some of them ripe! You ought to have seen!

Our entire family (plus Jared) went blueberry picking down at Spring Valley Farm last Friday. It's been a tradition for years; picking your own is a bit more expensive than buying a twenty-pound box at the grocery store, but if you do it yourself, you're guaranteed to get good ones, without bugs or leaves or shriveled rejects. Besides, it's a lot of fun! We met up with the Odells and had a great time throwing berries at one another, arguing over who had found the biggest blueberry, and having berry eating contests.

Oh, and we picked some too.

ALSO: gift cards are happy things.

AND ALSO: I love teaching kids how to write.

02 July 2009

Thankful Thursdays: Patience

This week I want to give thanks for patience.

I am grateful that God is patient with my stubborn, sinful heart. That Rachel and Mark wait patiently for me to finish work so that I can play games and read books to them. And that Jared has patience with, well, everything. (It's rather amazing. I don't think I would put up with my emotional tempests and feminine flutterings and crazy outbursts for more than a week. But here we are...)

May God give me more patience of my own!

01 July 2009

Bread Fabulosity

Easy, quick, cheap, and delicious. There are no excuses: you must make this bread. Or get someone to make it for you.

1 1/2 cups warm water
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (I used some whole wheat as well)
1 tablespoon instant "rapid rise" yeast
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano

1) Grease a 9x13 pan with cooking spray, and drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil in the bottom. I like glass pans for this.

2) Combine remaining ingredients in mixing bowl, and beat at high speed with an electric mixer for 60 seconds. I used the Bosch; a Kitchen-Aid would be great.

3) Scoop the sticky batter into the prepared pan, and use your fingers to push it into the corners. You may want to oil your fingers so the dough doesn't stick.

4) Cover the pan with a towel,and let it rise at room temperature for 60 minutes, till it’s become puffy. And oh baby, it WILL be puffy. The dough triples in size (at least).

5) While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

6) Gently poke the dough all over with your index finger and add toppings of your choice: definitely a drizzle of olive oil, plus pizza seasoning, and maybe some cracked pepper.

7) Bake the bread till it’s golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes.

8) Remove it from the oven, wait 5 minutes, then turn focaccia out of the pan onto a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. (Note: we all liked this better after it had cooled. So make it ahead and serve with spaghetti, ravioli, gnocchi, minestrone, roast beef, grilled chicken, or what-have-you.)

p.s. I don't think "fabulosity" is a word, but I liked its sound better than "fabulousness."

HT: King Arthur Flour. I only made a few very minor adjustments. For a blog post on this recipe with step by step pictures and instructions, check here.