29 June 2012

Weekend linkage

{southern Iceland}
Three time-suckers for ya. The OED's blog, the live feed from the Olympic torch relay, and HowHeAsked.com (a collection of sappy proposal stories . . . yep).

If you or your significant other has a beard, well, here are some great ideas for what to do with it. Quote Bubble is my favorite.

I have been thinking a lot about the value of human life, particularly that of a child, and so this made me cry--in a good way. "I wanted to grab David and run far far away where no one would ever be mean to him . . . And then a spark of bravery ignited somewhere inside me . . . I am not ashamed of my son. Yes, he only has two fingers on his left hand. Yes, he is different. But he is amazing and he is mine."

From NPR: Fancy names can fool wine geeks into paying more for a bottle. Me, I tend to judge by the label. Pretty packaging wins every time.

Once you've picked your poison, here is a helpful cocktail randomizer from the New York Times.

Dehumanized: when math and science rule the school. "This is precisely the argument heard at parent-teacher meetings across the land. When is the boss ever going to ask my Johnny about the Peloponnesian War? As if Johnny had agreed to have no existence outside his cubicle of choice. As if he wasn’t going to inherit the holy right of gun ownership and the power of the vote." Written in 2009, and absolutely as relevant today, this article is so good I can't even say. Just go read it.

Lee Harris asks: Are Americans really too dumb for democracy? "Only someone abysmally ignorant of the history of ideas could believe for a moment that high intelligence is any guarantee against the lure of dumb ideas. The dumbest idea you can think of almost certainly owes its origin to an intellectual."


Þú ert jörðin by Ólafur Arnalds on Grooveshark

28 June 2012

can't leave well enough alone...

{image credit: Majilee}
Not when I can find better.

Today's is the third granola recipe I have posted, and I shall label it the best. It has no grains, but instead gathers a bounty of nuts and seeds-- with their valuable protein and good fats-- into crunchy clusters that pair perfectly with Greek yogurt (our preference) or milk (for the cereal traditionalist). Mmm.

You can switch up the ingredients depending on preference or availability; granola lends itself to experimentation. I've made a delicious hazelnut variation before, and may add some flax seeds or cardamom next time. And I just realized that tossing cocoa powder in with that hazelnut incarnation would yield . . . Nutella granola. I'm brilliant.

Again, wish I had a camera. The pumpkin seeds are especially pretty.

Obviously this is higher in both cost and calories than an oat-based granola; adjust your serving sizes accordingly. I would stir about 1/3 cup into a bowl of yogurt, top it with berries or sliced banana, and call it breakfast. Bon appetit. Never stop experimenting.

(a modified version of this recipe at Heartland Renaissance)

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups whole almonds
2 cups whole walnuts
1 1/2 cups shredded dried coconut
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves

1) Preheat oven to 300. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (I like to use my stoneware jelly roll pan since the raised sides prevent granola from slipping onto the bottom of the oven).
2) Heat butter, honey, and vanilla in small heavy saucepan until butter is melted. Whisk and remove from heat.
3) Pulse almonds and walnuts in blender or food processor until you have a mixture of fine meal and coarsely chopped nuts. (The meal helps to form nice big chunks of granola, and the coarser pieces add texture.)
4) Stir together chopped nuts and remaining dry ingredients in large mixing bowl. Pour in liquid ingredients and stir to coat.
5) Spread onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, stir carefully, and bake for 20-25 more minutes until golden. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack. (At this point you may be thinking, Hey... where are the promised clusters? Just you wait, Henry Higgins. It will clump up as it cools, so long as you don't mess with it.)
6) Once granola is completely cool, store in airtight container. I usually freeze most of it and keep about 3 cups in a Mason jar in the cupboard.

Shared on Simple Lives Thursday.

27 June 2012

Well Written Wednesdays: I thought you said Provisions

"We are all going on an Expedition," said Christopher Robin, as he got up and brushed himself . . .

"Going on an Expotition?" said Pooh eagerly. "I don't think I've ever been on one of those. Where are we going to on this Expotition?"
{Ernest Shepard}

"Expedition, silly old Bear. It's got an 'x' in it."

"Oh! said Pooh. "I know." But he didn't really.

"We're going to discover the North Pole."

"Oh!" said Pooh again. "What is the North Pole?" he asked.

"It's just a thing you discover," said Christopher Robin carelessly, not being quite sure himself.

"Oh! I see," said Pooh. "Are bears any good at discovering it?"

"Of course they are. And Rabbit and Kanga and all of you. It's an Expedition. That's what an Expedition means. A long line of everybody. You'd better tell the others to get ready, while I see if my gun's all right. And we must all bring Provisions."

"Bring what?"

"Things to eat."

"Oh!" said Pooh happily. "I thought you said Provisions. I'll go and tell them." And he stumped off.

-from An Expotition to the North Pole, by A.A. Milne


We're going on an expotition to Maine this coming week. Jared and I and my entire family, with plenteous provisions in tow. I am bringing the complete stories of Winnie-the-Pooh (plus Milne's poems for children) to occupy us during the car ride and any chance rainy days. These stories rank among the family favorites--Milne's childlike whimsy wed to grownup snark never fails to make us laugh.

25 June 2012

prayer is not a suggestion box

{image credit: hjukkhj}
Supplicatory prayer is less about getting what we want from God than it is about submitting what we want to God.

In Philippians 4 Paul says, "The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Paul makes the link clear: supernatural peace rises from the knowledge that we've given our requests to the Sovereign One. It doesn't hinge on confidence that we will get exactly what we prayed for.

Whatever we receive will be good, however, and it's that truth which brings rest.

I do believe that God invites us to bring specific requests to him, material desires included. As C.S. Lewis observes in The Weight of Glory, "There is no good trying to be more spiritual than God. God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us. We may think this is rather crude and unspiritual. God does not: He invented eating. He likes matter. He invented it." So yes, God cares about jobs and houses and parents and children and wars and diseases. He never asks us to pretend the physical facts of the world don't exist. He is honored, I think, when we boldly ask Him for help and then submit ourselves to His answer.

I guess what I mean to say is that prayer is not merely a suggestion box, wherein we drop a slip of paper through the slot and hope the manager implements our idea. It's not "asking for things"--it's a lot better than that. As Christians we have received an invitation to talk to the manager himself, and not just during office hours. We can run right in, day or night, to tell him our troubles. Then we can listen to His voice, realize His love for us again, and gather up our faith to trust His plans.

Over the past several years my prayers have become more like conversation. I now see prayer as a way to bring my heart before God, wrestling through each challenge with His help. It's a means of fellowship with Him instead of a lever on a candy machine. Through it, He shapes my soul and opens my eyes to see His glory, which is ultimately more important than the granting of my particular request.
One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock . . .
You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
(from Psalm 27)
Prayer is one way to inquire in His temple, sincerely seeking His face. This kind of conversation is so rich and gives such satisfaction. Even if He hears our request and gives us something else, we can be at peace, because we've been with Him.

(I'd already written this post when I came across this one from Ann Voskamp. "When you pray with eyes on Christ and not on the crisis--your prayers are always answered: He edifies, He embraces, He is enough." Looks like I'm not the only one with prayer on my mind.)

22 June 2012

Weekend linkage

"You are expensive. But I still love you."

"Oh no! I spilled my legs!"
-Chloe Plank


Use a spoon to slip kiwis right out of their skin. I tried this yesterday with great success! And to think that I've been wrestling with a vegetable peeler.

Introducing the Post-It desk. I think Mark needs this.

Have a slice of tea, darling?

The fastest way to rice cauliflower. It works marvelously well, and it made some great fried rice, if I do say so.

According to this sunshine map of Europe, I will NOT be moving to Iceland.

A laugh from xkcd: "Stores have a competition to see who can spread your items across the most plastic shopping bags."

Voyager II is about to leave the solar system. Fascinating article on NPR.

Carolyn Arends: "Death unaddressed is the bogeyman in the basement; it keeps us looking over our shoulders and holds us back from entering joyously into the days we are given. But death dragged out from the shadows and held up to the light of the gospel not only loses its sting, it becomes an essential reminder to wisely use the life we have."

How to make your own fruit and vegetable wash: vinegar, baking soda, grapefruit seed extract. Now I won't have to reorder the expensive Biokleen stuff.

A woman sues the city of Tulsa for--without her permission or legal cause--cutting down her garden.

Acrylic-latex caulk makes rugs nonslip.

Oh, and I'm finally on Pinterest.

Shifting Sand by Caedmon's Call on Grooveshark

20 June 2012

Well Written Wednesdays: all silver under your rain

Shine on, O moon of summer.
Shine to the leaves of grass, catalpa and oak,
All silver under your rain tonight.

An Italian boy is sending songs to you to-night from an accordion.
A Polish boy is out with his best girl; they marry next month;
   tonight they are throwing you kisses.

An old man next door is dreaming over a sheen that sits in a
   cherry tree in his back yard.

The clocks say I must go--I stay here sitting on the back porch drinking
   white thoughts you rain down.

   Shine on, O moon,
Shake out more and more silver changes.

-"Back Yard" by Carl Sandburg

19 June 2012

gluten-free Swedish meatballs

swedish meatballs
{image credit: andy pucko}
No spaghetti around here, but these meatballs are well loved. In fact, they're the only reason I have a bottle of Worcestershire sauce in the fridge.

I posted the original recipe a while ago and since then I've figured out how to eliminate grains altogether: almond meal! I also added some minced bell pepper, which is really nice. And man, do I wish I had a camera. The meatballs looked so enticing coming out of the oven, coppery-brown and succulent (is that an acceptable adjective for meatball description?). I confess to popping a few in my mouth right away. You will just have to trust me on how good these are; this borrowed photograph is not precisely accurate, as my sauce is lighter in color, but it gives you an idea.

The recipe looks long but doesn't take much time (though more time if you double or triple it, of course, since you have to stand there and roll each meatball out).


GF Swedish Meatballs

1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground turkey
3/4 cup almond meal
1/3 cup minced onion
1/3 cup minced bell pepper
1 large egg
1/3 cup whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce

chicken or beef stock
whole milk or cream
arrowroot starch
salt to taste

mashed potatoes:
if you don't know how to make these, go here
but I don't peel them
because I am a lazypants about peeling
and the skins have lots of nutrition anyway.

1) Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease two 9x13 pans.
2) In stand mixer or in large mixing bowl, combine meatball ingredients. Add a bit more milk if needed (up to 1/2 cup total). Mixture should be somewhat sticky but still able to be shaped.
3) Roll into balls of one-inch diameter and place in single layer on prepared pans. Don't let them touch; you may need to do two batches. Bake 15 minutes. Let cool before freezing or refrigerating, though of course you can use them immediately.
4) Now for the mashed-potatoes-and-cream-gravy of glory. Get the potatoes boiling. In the meantime, tip as many meatballs as you want into a large saucepan; for us, I'd use half and freeze the others. Add chicken stock and milk in a 3:1 ratio. Use as much as you want--if you like tons of sauce, awesome--but before you pour it into the saucepan, whisk in some arrowroot starch, 1 tablespoon per cup of liquid.
5) Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring often, then reduce to a simmer and cook until meatballs are heated through and gravy is thick and glossy. Add more arrowroot, dissolved in equal parts liquid, if you need the sauce to get thicker. Salt to taste.
6) Finish up your mashed potatoes and serve it all up together, with a fresh green salad on the side. Potatoes on the bottom, meatballs spooned over top with copious amounts of gravy.

Shared on Simple Lives Thursday

18 June 2012

O Lord, you will ordain peace for us

Yes, it's 2:45 in the morning. My mid-afternoon cup of coffee yesterday was evidently ill advised. I don't think I will be nodding off any time soon either. What better time to read Scripture? This passage strikes me as particularly applicable :)
"In the path of your judgments we wait for you, Or Lord; your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul. My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you . . . O Lord, you will ordain peace for us, for you have indeed done for us all our works."
(from Isaiah 26)
I have been wondering recently whether or not I am on the right path. It's typically a general angst (have I missed the boat? followed the wrong road? lost an opportunity to, I don't know, fulfill my destiny or something? WOE) but sometimes it does pop up in specific situations (i.e. should I keep teaching?).

Funny how a feeling like this has both good and bad aspects. It can be a symptom of a complaining heart, no doubt, and in those cases God is using it to teach me trust in Him. On the other hand, it can be real conviction, a sort of holy discontentment, and in those cases God is using it to stir me up to greater ambition--hopefully ambition with His glory at its core. I'm a lazy person who likes my status quo. This unsettled feeling is shaking out some of the knots, making me take steps I may not have before.

Well. Here I love how Isaiah proclaims that we can wait for the Lord and earnestly desire Him, and that this is the most important thing. Desiring Him, I mean. Because He's the one who guarantees our peace, and with Scripture in hand we can stand right here in His path, instead of worrying that we've taken the wrong one.

You have indeed done for us all our works. And ordained them for us before time began.

I Want to Be Where You Are by Sovereign Grace Music on Grooveshark

15 June 2012

Weekend linkage

"If I were Matthew MacConaughey, I wouldn't have this problem."


I'm making this kale and chard salad soon, but with feta instead of gorgonzola. Someone in this house doesn't care for blue cheese.

David McCullough, Jr. to graduating high schoolers: you are not special and you'll probably never be famous. "As you commence, then, and before you scatter to the winds, I urge you to do whatever you do for no reason other than you love it and believe in its importance."

Dalton Ghetti is a pencil artist. But he doesn't draw with them, he carves them--into miniature sculptures.

I found this article highly interesting. It proposes that the church needs increased maturity far more than it needs increased masculinity. (I agree so long as we're equating "increased masculinity" with "rough-and-tumble machismo"; men don't have to own a gun to be mature believers. I stop agreeing once the argument is bent to egalitarian ends, as if masculinity is utterly meaningless . . . that, I believe, is what they call tossing the baby with the bathwater.)

What guidebooks tell foreign visitors about the United States. "It is usually inappropriate to join a table already occupied by other diners, even if it has unused seats; Americans prefer this degree of privacy when they eat."

I buy a lot of our groceries at this Amish-run discount store in southern Lancaster County. Everything there is somewhat damaged (think dented cans of tomatoes and torn peanut butter labels), unpopular or overstocked in normal grocery stores (often specialty and health-food items like Terra Chips, Siggi's yogurt, and Larabars), or outdated (so you need to read expiration dates). Not to mention very cheap: fifty cents for a bottle of Pellegrino, one dollar for a block of imported Danish havarti. It's awesome if you like to pretend that your grocery shopping is a treasure hunt, which I do, and if you don't mind imperfect packaging, which I don't. I go every other week and have saved a mind-boggling amount of money as a result.

Anyway, one consequence is that I discover foods after they are trendy or in season, such as my new favorite tea: Stash decaf pumpkin spice. I'm sure this was on grocery store shelves last fall, but I can enjoy it just as well in June, right?

You Alone Can Rescue by Matt Redman on Grooveshark

13 June 2012

Well Written Wednesdays: he went galumphing back

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
  The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
  The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
  Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
  And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
  The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
  And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
  The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
  He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
  Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
  He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
   Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

-"The Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll

12 June 2012

an unexpected superhero: or, in which baking soda rocks yet again

FRAMED BAKING SODASYou already know that baking soda makes impressive volcanoes.

It gets stainless steel sinks shiny and causes pancakes to rise. It takes down a bee sting. Apparently it's a good facial scrub. (Personally, I use it to make deodorant, with a 1:2:2 ratio of baking soda-arrowroot-coconut oil plus plenty of delectable essential oils . . .  my favorites are rosemary and ylang ylang. It works better than any other product I have tried!)

Well, here is one more thing. Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking recently posted a list of several favorite natural products. She mentioned--almost offhandedly--that she's been mixing baking soda with her shampoo. I thought, why not? I'll give it a try. I already love my Aubrey Organics shampoo and conditioner, but if this stretches them longer and lets me go longer without washing, woo hoo!

Woo hoo it is. I love how my hair feels since starting this a month ago. I don't have to wash it every day because it takes longer to get greasy. My hair is also lighter; I think the baking soda acts as a deep cleanser for product buildup. Finally, it has decreased the itchiness sometimes present on my scalp (thanks a lot, eczema). A small jar of baking soda now lives in the shower caddy, never to depart. I just squirt some shampoo into my palm, dump in an equal amount of baking soda, and lather it up together.

Though I've labeled this crunchalicious, you oughta try it even if you haven't a hippie bone in your body.

Shared at Simple Lives Thursday.

11 June 2012

what I'll wear this summer . . .

I didn't intend to buy anything. I was just accompanying my mom to the Dansko outlet, which for us, is a stop along the way to bigger and better things . . . we like to get our Longwood-Anthropologie-Trader Joe's fix by driving down to Kennett Square and hitting them all in one fell swoop.

Then I tried on a pair of these beauties:

Whoa. I suddenly realized that, especially for someone with a chronically slipping hip joint, it's stupid to wear foam flipflops (comfortable as they are, and I do appreciate them for things like gardening or beach-going or tramping through streams) that only aggravate my lower back woes, when I could be wearing a shoe with actual, you know, support. So I plunked down the cash and I'm not sorry. I absolutely recommend Dansko sandals to ya'll. They may need some softening and stretching, but they are high-quality leather that will last years. Thanks, Mom, for being the one to blaze the Dansko trail many years ago; I think I now own four pairs.

p.s. I slipped a pair of these Fab Feet cushions into the back to avoid blisters. The website is of ridiculously low quality but the products are genius. Find them at Target.

Speaking of Target, I just picked up a Merona lace cami and am very happy with it. If you too are a layer-loving lady always on the hunt for good camisoles, give these a try. Lots of lovely colors, and (for me anyway) both high and long enough to actually be useful. :)

{image credit: Ann Taylor}
Here are a few other things I am enjoying in my summer closet:

Shirts with ruffles.

Slouchy, swingy skirts. I have a few pairs of shorts that I like, but if you don't plan on turning cartwheels, skirts are so much nicer. One reason I dislike cold Northern winters is that skirts and dresses get so much harder to wear.

Sundresses in bright colors and fun patterns.

Maxi dresses that sweep the floor, because they make me feel impressively put-together even if I haven't taken a shower and just stuck my hair in a ponytail. Alas, I am always late for the trend train: I only just bought my first maxi dress and pair of skinny jeans (they are Denizen by Levi's and I love them--in my defense, it is mondo hard to find skinny jeans when you're short and curvy).

New York Color Quick Dry Nail Polish, in Prospect Park Pink. It's so . . . well, as Uncle Max might say, so pink.

Oh, and my two favorite things to do with my hair currently? Topknot or baseball cap. You see I cover both ends of the elegance spectrum.

08 June 2012

Weekend linkage

"These are the Visigoth grandmas. They sit around knitting things and playing Tiddlywinks."



For your weekend dinner, I'd recommend this kale and sausage stew over creamy cauliflower. An unorthodox clafoutis made a delicious dessert.*

Cute: a "creative dating guide." I am going to print this out and stick it on the fridge once we're off the farm (i.e. when we actually have time to devote to hobbies).

Glass rings containing miniscule snowglobe scenes, from skiers to nuns to clowns.

The Les Mis trailer is out! This could be good. (Also, pictures.) The lead actors will do all their own singing, which I find exciting.

Downton Abbey paper dolls. HA. The Thomas and O'Brien set includes "evil cape," "evil soap," and "evil flour."

I do love how my hair looks at the beach. Maybe I'll give this sea salt spray a shot.

An amazing TED talk from Sir Ken Robinson, on creativity in education. "If you think of it, the whole system of public education around the world is a protracted process of university entrance, and the consequence is that many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they're not, because the thing they were good at in school wasn't valued--or actually stigmatized. And I think we can't afford to go on that way."

Big Rock Candy Mountain by The Soggy Bottom Boys on Grooveshark

*I used 1/3 cup almond meal and 2 tablespoons coconut flour, went with butter and sour cream, omitted the nutmeg, combined it all in the blender rather than using a whisk--and you may want to choose strawberries now that they are in season. Serve in small squares and spoon on some whipped cream for a luxurious accent.

07 June 2012

my salad bowl overfloweth

Salad Greens
{image credit: norcalkatie}
Salad greens abound in spring. Even our tiny garden provides some lettuce and (very soon) Swiss chard. Between that, the Millersville farmer's market, and friends who have so much they're giving it away, we are consuming a lot of salad at the moment!

A delectable way to turn salad into a main course: marinade chicken as called for in this lemony-garlicky recipe, then instead of grilling, slice and saute it until browned and crispy on the edges. Serve over shredded lettuce and red cabbage along with feta, olives, and a side of brown rice or quinoa pilaf.

This dressing is simultaneously tangy and smooth--altogether delightful. Also, both of us like it, which takes some doing (at least in the salad dressing department).


Creamy Italian Dressing
(adapted from Cheeky Bums: Raising Vintage Kids in a Modern World) 

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash of hot sauce

Combine all ingredients in blender until smooth, then pour into bottle--I save my cooking wine bottles for salad dressing, typically Reese Vintage with their slim necks and sturdy caps--and refrigerate.

Shared on Simple Lives Thursday.

06 June 2012

Well (?) Written Wednesdays: the insipidity which sometimes attaches to fair beauties

"Formed in the best proportion of her sex, Rowena was tall in stature, yet not so much so as to attract observation on account of superior height. Her complexion was exquisitely fair, but the noble cast of her head and features prevented the insipidity which sometimes attaches to fair beauties. Her clear blue eye, which sate enshrined beneath a graceful eyebrow of brown sufficiently marked to give expression to the forehead, seemed capable to kindle as well as melt, to commend as well as to beseech. If mildness were the more natural epression of such a combination of features, it was plain, that, in the present instance, the exercise of habitual superiority, and the reception of general homage, had given to the Saxon lady a loftier character, which mingled with, and qualified that bestowed by nature. Her profuse hair, of a colour betwixt brown and flaxen, was arranged in a fanciful and graceful manner in numerous ringlets, to form which art had probably aided nature . . .

"When Rowena perceived the Knight Templar's eyes bent on her with an ardour, that, compared with the dark caverns under which they moved, gave them the effect of lighted charcoal, she drew with dignity the veil around her face, as an intimation that the determined freedom of his glance was disagreeable."

-from Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott


Really, Scott? "A graceful eyebrow of brown sufficiently marked to give expression to the forehead?"

Ivanhoe is a rip-roaring good adventure, but sometimes the writing style makes me want to bang my head on the coffee table. Or fall asleep.

05 June 2012

chocolate for emperors (or their minions)

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month's newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Take from the dresser of deal,
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

-"The Emperor of Ice-Cream" by Wallace Stevens


Homemade Fudge Sauce
{image credit: dwoodward20}
I don't know what even half of this poem means. My study of English literature has thus far failed to give me a key to understanding Stevens. Yet I thoroughly enjoy the image of wenches dawdling round an ice cream truck, and if there were an emperor of ice cream, I'd likely pay him homage.

Another recipe resurrected from the archives; this chocolate sauce plays well with strawberries, cream puffs, whipped cream, and ice cream sundaes.

(Note how often the word "cream" appears in that sentence. Butterfat in its various forms-- heavy cream, cream cheese, sour cream, yogurt, butter, not to mention cheese-- is a must-have for most of our favorite meals. Butter: it's what's for dinner. I don't know what I will do if one of us turns up lactose intolerant.)

Alternatively, you can pour this sauce into a jar and let it thicken, as it cools, into a decadent fudge. Then eat it with a spoon. Win.


Chocolate Fudge Sauce

1/2 cup butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

1) Melt butter and cream together in small saucepan over medium heat.
2) Stir in sugar until completely dissolved.
3) Whisk in cocoa gradually, until there are no lumps.
4) Bring to low boil, stirring all the while to prevent scorching. Reduce heat to low and cook for about ten minutes, stirring frequently, until glossy;  let cool slightly and serve. Refrigerate or freeze any leftovers.

Shared on Simple Lives Thursday.

04 June 2012

someday I will have it all

Someday I will have exactly what I want, because what I have will be the only thing I want.

Come again?

Oh, I'm thinking of heaven, as I often do.

This past week was a tough one. I found out that two of my friends are pregnant, both announcements hard to swallow. My immediate temptation was to scream, "Seriously, God? Seriously? Somebody else receives my desire, one more time? I have to wait, one more time? The blade drives a little deeper, one more time? Why can't you give me this thing I want so desperately? YOU. ARE. UNKIND." And I did scream that, inside my head, for a while. Rolling in the mire of angered grief and refusing to receive comfort.

Then this came to mind: someday I will have exactly what I want, because what I have will be the only thing I want.

{Gustave Dore: "Empyrean" from The Divine Comedy}
Though rather than "what," I ought to say "who." In that blessed someday, Christ will fill my vision and there will be no room for sorrow. I am hanging on to that hope. It makes my disappointments weaker, smaller. The shadow of eternity falls back over today, and I realize today is merely a preparation for glory.

This post from Ann Voskamp, the story of the White Horse, helped me a great deal. "My focus need only be on Him, to only faithfully see His Word, to wholly obey. Therein is the tree of life . . . God's only up to good work."

Despite my spiteful accusations, I know God is indeed kind, and so is His plan. My complaints fly smack in the face of His promises, the grace He's poured out on me thus far and will in days to come. I'm full of rebellion when I should be full of faith.
"And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:5-13)
In Christ's trustworthy words I discover that when I ask, seek, and knock, God vows to give, reveal, and open. He doesn't state what the gift or revelation will be, or where that opened door will lead. It may be precisely what I prayed for. It may not. Either way He will be waiting on the other side. He'll give me a sustaining hand, and I'll keep walking toward the light.

That is what matters in this life. His presence, not the things I demand.

I do struggle to sort through the desires crowding my heart. Some are good, I know, yet can still become distractions. ("Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.") I feel awfully muddled about what I want, and why. Thank God that someday I'll toss out this dim glass and see clearly. I'll see Him.
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen . . .”

They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”  (from Revelation 10)

01 June 2012

Weekend linkage

Jared: July 15 to April 15 is nine months, right?
Me: Yup.
Jared: So July 1 to . . . what, May 1? That's nine months too?
Me: Uh no. That would be ten.
Jared: Man, really? *goes off to calculate on his fingers*

I finally caught him in a math error. Whee!


I hope that I'm having this much fun when I am an old granny.

Time for ice cream.

I am such a sap. This makes me cry! (And I believe "The Reichenbach Fall" contained some of the best acting I've ever had the pleasure to behold onscreen.)

"The Anatomy of a Newsies Number." Oh memories. Has anyone seen the Broadway show?

I'd like to start cooking with more beans, but my husband is not a big fan. Suggestions? This stew looks really good to me.

Thought-provoking post on small businesses versus big chains. "A super Walmart moved in next door to Mike's little store back when I was in college, and slowly, slowly it's chipped away at his dignity . . . if you can manage it, go find a little store." The comments are great too. (Me, I shop at Target and Amazon just like everyone else, yet I value the personal touch you find at family-owned businesses. Hmm. Thought-provoking as I said.)

GOOOOOOOAAAL!!! The BBC has a new show that purports to "give animals a voice," and it's very funny. Nighttime... daytime! I suppose it might tide me over with British wit until Sherlock returns (sob) next year?