30 September 2013

for munchies: Peanut Butter Energy Bars

The only drawback to these energy bars: they really ought to be refrigerated. Too long unchilled, and they start to get soft.

Apart from that, it's all good news: quick, simple, no exotic ingredients. And of course marvelously tasty.

The original recipe calls for a few chia seeds. I've not yet surrendered to this trend. However, I have bought hook line and sinker into green smoothies, Greek yogurt, and liquid stevia, so surely a bag of chia lurks not far in my future.


Peanut Butter Energy Bars
(based on a recipe from Gimme Some Oven)

2 cups rolled oats
1 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
1 cup natural peanut or almond butter
1/2 cup honey

1) Stir oats, coconut, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds together in large mixing bowl.
2) Stir together peanut butter and honey until smooth. Pour over dry ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined.
3) Lightly grease a 9x9 pan with nonstick spray, or line with parchment paper. Press mixture tightly into prepared pan and chill for several hours before cutting into 16 bars. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

29 September 2013

Weekend linkage // 7QT #7

Linked up with Seven Quick Takes.



Have you ever noticed that the same themes come up across all genres of music? They sing about the same things, just in different ways and with their own spin. Rap, country, r&b, pop . . .

::thinks for a while::

Well, I don't know about polka.


Teeth! They are fully in and ready to gnaw everything in sight. Jared has let her sample a lot of fruit lately; she approved of the banana and mango, not so much the kiwi.

She loves to play, whether that means tickling, "flying," playing peekaboo, pretending to eat her up, or rolling around on the bed. It's pretty easy to make her laugh now. When we're silly with her, she starts smiling bigger and bigger, until she breaks out in the most adorable spasm of giggles.

How is my baby six months already?


What your neighborhood listserv tells you about the demise of America, and other cheerful reflections on the state of childhood today.

Also regarding childhood, some important information on developmental hip displasia and how to choose car seats, carriers, and swaddling techniques to avoid it.

This is the cutest. J already tried giving her ice cream . . . not interested.


What's the difference between women preaching and women blogging? Some helpful thoughts, in my complementarian blogger opinion.

More humorous ecclesiastical reading: accidental worship heresies. Definitely made me chuckle.


In the "ooh, science!" department: Scout the robotic boat is making its way across the Atlantic, from Massachussetts to the Spanish port from which Columbus sailed.

Michael Crichton on the wishful science behind global warming.


Skirtification of the week, with Ellie thrown in for good measure:

Shirt: Land's End
Skirt: Target
Necklace: a gift to me after Ellie was born
E's corduroys: Baby GAP
E's shirt: Left Bank Babies

Shirt: GAP
Skirt: GAP again
Tights: Marshall's
E's outfit: Carter's 

Dress: Old Navy
Cami: Ann Taylor
Sweater: undecipherable designer brand via Marshall's
E's shirts: Carter's and Little Me
E's leggings: Carter's 

Shirt: GAP outlet
Skirt: H&M
Headband: no idea
E's shirt: Old Navy
E's pants: Babies R Us Organic

Dress: Banana Republic
Cami: Old Navy
Necklace: H&M
Tights: random off-brand
Shoes: ancient
E's dress: Old Navy

All of Ellie's bibs and socks come from Green Sprouts and Trumpette, respectively. I love them. Also, I have a really limited range of stores, don't I? Guess I know what fits me. :)


"Hashtag." HAHAHA.

25 September 2013

I know not any

Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel
and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
“I am the first and I am the last;
besides me there is no god.
Who is like me? Let him proclaim it.
Let him declare and set it before me,
since I appointed an ancient people.
Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen.
Fear not, nor be afraid;
have I not told you from of old and declared it?
And you are my witnesses!
Is there a God besides me?
There is no Rock; I know not any.”

-Isaiah 44:6-8

Dolomites mountain peaks
image credit: Nickolay Khoroshkov

God made these mountains.

God also made you.

And there is nobody even close to matching Him in love or power or wisdom or beauty.

And because He loves his children, all of that matchless love and power and wisdom or beauty, it gets dumped out on us every day and throughout eternity.

Is that not the coolest thing?

23 September 2013

the quotable princess bride #4

The Ingenue by Renoir
"I always think everything is a trap until proven otherwise . . . Which is why I'm still alive."

I don't like to describe myself as cynical. As the saying goes: I'm not cynical, just realistic.

Sometimes that is true.

When I find myself being suspicious of everyone, though, especially people in (actual or self-proclaimed) authority positions, something is probably wrong. Realism does not have to see ulterior motives behind every bush. You're a doctor? A congressman? An expert of any kind? You must be lying!

I think that critical thinking-- doubting conventional wisdom and striking out on a road less traveled-- has often served me well. I just don't want to become so "critical" that I live in fear. Let's avoid paranoia.

20 September 2013

Weekend linkage // 7QT #6

Linked up with Seven Quick Takes.


From our family vacation last week-- conversations between my sisters-in-law Kim and Lori, and their children C and A.

Kim: What's wrong, C?
C: My sticky bun is too sweet. I don't want it.
Kim: Okay. What would you like for breakfast instead?
C: Um . . . can I have some carrots?

A: How long until we get home?
Lori: Four hours, honey.
A: That is sooo long!
Lori: Or you could say it's 240 minutes.
A: That's even worser!


Ellie is developing a sense of humor. It's so much fun to watch her laugh at things (her reflection in the mirror, playing peek-a-boo, splashing wildly in the bath) and smile impishly when she knows she's entertaining us.

She learned how to stick out her tongue this week, too, so that happens all the time.


Couldn't ordinary be the new radical? Jared and I have talked a lot about how the people we respect the most aren't necessarily the ones with flashy spiritual resumes. They are, most often, the ones who have faithfully gone to work, loved their families, and trusted in the Lord year after year. Those who-- to mangle Voltaire-- lived quietly and cultivated their garden.

Speaking of flashy vs. faithful, watch this video from DG on Chris Norman, an outstanding football player who turned down the NFL to go to seminary.


Famous authors narrate the funny pages. The Joyce is rather brilliant.

Other amusing writings: a prank college admissions essay, written by a dad on behalf of his seven year old son.


The story of Hubble's first deep space image.


Some skirts!

Tank top: Target
Dress: Old Navy

Top: Ann Taylor
Sweater: Target
Skirt: GAP

Shirt: GAP outlet
Skirt: H&M
Tights: Goodwill
Headband: ancient
Drool spots: c/o Ellie
Horrible evening lighting: you're welcome


I love these things: a day in the life of a stormtrooper figurine.

18 September 2013

the quotable princess bride #3

Irene Cahen D'Anvers by Renoir
"Life is pain . . . Anybody that says different is selling something."

Look, that's a bit too dark even for me, but you know, life does carry a great deal of pain. In the pampered world of American suburbia it's easy to pretend that it doesn't-- or that it's not supposed to-- and that any pain is something extraordinary, to be surprised at, much bewailed, and forgotten as soon as possible.

The Bible says, though, that creation groans under the curse. Creation includes us. It includes mosquitoes and influenza and lying politicians and abusive husbands and torture chambers. That's what sin does: it makes a mess. Pain deserves bewailing, and if God gives us a way we should heal creation's wounds, but we shouldn't be shocked when things fall apart.

Though I don't believe in rubbing my child's face in evil, I don't want her to believe that a basket of kittens and sunbursts ought to await her around every corner, either. Here is an interesting read along those lines: "Must Every Kid's Movie Reinforce the Cult of Self-Esteem?"

16 September 2013

the quotable princess bride #2

Young Mother by Renoir
"Love is many things, none of them logical."

Not to say that love entirely excludes rationality or knowledge. I love God because I know that He is glorious and gracious. I love my parents because it makes sense to cherish and honor people who have put their lives on the figurative altar for me and five other mewling offspring. But it's not like I actually consult a logic textbook before I allow myself to feel love. It simply . . . happens. Naturally. Humans are made to love, and more often than not, it wells up without any particular "reason."

That was most evident when I fell in love with my husband and when I realized that I absolutely adored my child. In the first case, after a long summer of just-friendship, I blinked one evening and suddenly wanted nothing except to marry Jared. In the second case, after three weeks of dragging my weary post-partum self around and wishing that Ellie wouldn't cry so much, I woke up one morning and could not wait to get that baby out of her crib.

What happened? Love did. It's still happening. In hard times, intentional choice and careful reasoning are great aids to love, bolstering it when the fire flickers-- but in the end I think that it comes from God, and that at its best it goes beyond our logic to a place unreachable without Him.

13 September 2013

Weekend linkage // 7QT #5

Linked up with Seven Quick Takes.


"I know I'm supposed to love you and serve you and lay down my life for you, but not on vacation."
-best husband ever


On vacation we are, indeed. Ellie's enjoyed dabbling her toes in the pool and laughing as Jared pops out of the water in front of her. The ocean interests her, but she's not as excited about splashing in it. When we go on walks along the shore, she often dozes off on my shoulder. I suppose the waves soothe her, and her big sunhat blocks out the light!


In the "people never cease to amuse" department: how Greg Packer waged a successful campaign to be the most quoted man in the news.

Peggy Lee's "Fever" twelve ways. Which is your favorite? (Justin Bieber is mine, especially as the bassist tries to stifle his laugh in the background.)

Airplane bathroom art. No really, it's great.


Thoughts on privacy for mommy bloggers. I've been considering this carefully, and have actually filed through my archives and erased some of the clearer identification markers for myself and Ellie. I don't think I will be giving Little Mouse a permanent pseudonym, but I do want to be careful.

And as you write, keep these eight new and much-needed punctuation marks in mind . . .


In the "science is coolio" department: psychiatry in your stomach, and putting the globe's entire supply of water into one ice cube.


My skirts recently-- only a few, due to beaching it this week:

Skirt: H&M
Tank top: Old Navy
Shirt: Old Navy

Shirt: Target
Dress: Old Navy
Coffee: thank you husband

Shirt: Target
Skirt: Target


Kim Riddlebarger on the Middle East prophecy pundits.

10 September 2013

blame game

image credit: Andy Arecco
I'm tired of men and women playing the blame game. Who's the most unfairly treated? Who's the most downtrodden? Who's responsible for all the trouble in the world today?

You are! No, you are!

It's ridiculous. Must one gender be the villain, the other the angelic victim? To hear some folks talk, you'd think so.

For example, any post about modesty gets the commenters up in arms. HOW DARE YE, SIRRAH! Any suggestion that women ought to dress with self-respect tramples upon our souls! Anything remotely critical of a woman's behavior is outright approval of rape! Yea, the very word modesty reeks of patriarchal oppression!

Girl, please.

Of course, the dudes can whine too. To counter the indignant women, you find the Fee-males better cover up their bodies! Skanks in shorts are responsible for society's every ill! Hey, if you dress like a lady of the night, we have a right to treat you like one . . . by gum! Or you have very nice articles that encourage men to be chivalrous and all of the male commenters bewail how they caaaan't because women are so meeeeean to them. It's compleeeeetely the ladies' fault.

Seems to me that some folks just parade around looking for things to protest.

As you may have guessed, I don't side with either of these groups. Men abuse women, and it's horrible. Women make life miserable for men, and that's horrible too. Is one gender worse than the other? No.

We're all messed up, and we have been since we got kicked out of Eden. We all need Jesus to help us. We've contributed equally to the wreck of this world (there's gender equality for ya) and God is working to reconcile us, every one.

Besides, I think that playing the victim card gratuitously devalues the real oppression that goes on both here and around the globe. I don't agree with Camille Paglia on, well, anything but I kinda like what she says here: "The true mission of feminism today is not to carp about the woes of affluent Western career women but to turn the spotlight on life-and-death issues affecting women in the Third World, particularly in rural areas where they have little protection against exploitation and injustice." I might get on board with that kind of feminism.

09 September 2013

the quotable princess bride #1

Last month I reread William Goldman's The Princess Bride. (If you've never had the pleasure, you should know that the book's more cynical than the movie, but also far more clever.) Amidst my laughter, I found myself dog-earing pages to mark particularly good lines.

Then I thought that I should share them with the rest of the world. So here is the first.


Jeanne Samary by Renoir
"Isn't it awful what we'll do in this world to be wanted?"

At various times I've lived in fear of being unwanted. I would worry that nobody liked me, that people didn't approve of me.

That fear shaped my mannerisms as I interacted with others. Often I faked my way through, smiling big when I thought I should, laughing at jokes I didn't get, faking interest in the conversation when I actually thought it was stupid. Afterwards I would feel strange, knowing I had put on a "face" for the world. It was unsatisfactory. Awful, as Goldman frankly says.

This still happens but I am more aware of it. I am trying instead to listen to the people who encourage me, and to believe them-- to believe that they really do enjoy my company and really do want to be my friend. Which means that I don't have to impress them, to make them want to have me around. I can stop squeezing into uncomfortable masks, masks that I think will be more acceptable or popular.

I can just be me. It's a far happier way to live.

06 September 2013

Weekend linkage // 7QT #4

Linked up with Seven Quick Takes.


We do crosswords on long car trips.

Me: All right, the clue is "single." Has three letters, the second is N.
Jared. Um . . . one?
Me: Oh.
Jared: It's okay. The easy ones are too far below your intelligence level. That's what I'm here for.


That long trip was to see my grandma in Ohio-- eight hours each way. We had no idea how Little Mouse would do, and got a pleasant surprise when she spent almost the entire car ride sleeping or playing. Only a little fussing, and usually, that was just to tell us that she was hungry.

here we be!

I have started to give her big pieces of food so she can chomp on them while we eat our own meal. She enjoys sugar peas and apple slices, which are large enough for her to grasp, but not mushy or juicy. She just scrapes her teeth around and licks the surface. It's entertaining to say the least.


Wow, Slate is killing it with the stupid-head articles. First, let's sue the parents who do their research and reach different conclusions than the medical establishment. Now, let's shame the parents who do their research and decide not to feed their children to their local public education machine. Hurray!

On a more constructive note re: education, you should watch this clip of Stephen Colbert interviewing Richard Brodhead.


I don't think that the Bible forbids women to wear pants, and I own my fair share of 'em. But!! I love that men and women are so different and I enjoy doing or wearing things that strike me as particularly feminine. A dress makes me feel especially girly-- so I'm participating (as best I can) in Skirtember, a challenge to wear skirts or dresses every day in September. I only have a few, so I'll have to exercise my creativity to style them differently every day.

Here is this week's collection, along with our bedroom in various states of disarray:

Shirt: Old Navy
Tank top: Old Navy
Skirt: H&M

Shirt: GAP outlet
Skirt: GAP from forever and ever ago

Shirt: Lands' End
Skirt: H&M

Tank top: Target
Sweater: Coldwater Creek
Skirt: Target


Eleven untranslatable words from various languages.


In the "people are awesome" department: first, the history of Britain in LEGO.

Second, eighteen everyday objects you've been using wrong. Some of these are almost literally mindblowing. #1, #12, and #15 are my favorites.


In the "eating" department: is SNAP really all that restrictive? I don't know. I would have a hard time buying all our food for that much money, at least, the food we eat now. If that was my budget we'd have less meat, more beans and eggs. Things like Kerrygold butter and organic kale would have to go. We'd still eat pretty well, though.

Second, fanciest apple pie ever.

04 September 2013

for it is God who works in you

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. . .

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

-Philippians 2:1-4, 12-13
I've found a certain danger in praying "God, help me to be kind/courageous/otherwise holy." That prayer, though it can demonstrate faith and I am not bashing it for all time, can serve as a cowardly excuse. Because then I figure . . . well. I've put in my request, so now I'll wait until I feel kind or courageous or otherwise holy. And only then, will I do what God has asked me to do.

Fire Flame Tulip
flame tulip by coopisthehighroller

That approach paints me as someone who needs a magical jump-start every time I'm to do anything righteous. It ignores the truth that as a child of God I've been spiritually resurrected, given a heart of flesh, and empowered by the third person of the Trinity who now dwells within me.

I can obey God right now!
We also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world?
-Galatians 4:3-9
The Galatians think they are still enslaved to sin and need to find some clever way to break its chains, when Christ has broken them forever. The new life you received through salvation is more than sufficient, Paul says. Stop downplaying the power of the cross and trying to reach new heights of spiritual ability on your own. There are no greater heights than knowing Christ. There is no greater ability than that of Christ Himself, and He has given us His own Spirit.

Not to say that believers never sin. The same Paul lamented his own failings. However, how should we respond? By saying, Lord, you know my weakness, yet you also know the good works you have planned for me. I believe you have forgiven all my sin and will enable me to grow in holiness, so I'm going to keep walking. 

Of course this is vastly different from "believing in your best self." The obedience we now perform is done through the Spirit's strength, not ours. Because of that, it's a more hopeful obedience. It is done in confidence rather than fear.
If Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh . . . For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!"
-Romans 8:10-15
I think of the woman caught in adultery, and how Jesus said to her, go . . . and sin no more. She might have wondered how she could obey that command. Wasn't sin her identity? Wasn't it her occupation from birth? I wonder if she came back to Him, later, and asked him to explain.

If she did, I imagine He would simply have replied, "I will be with you."

03 September 2013

these are but the outskirts of his ways

He stretches out the north over the void
and hangs the earth on nothing.
He binds up the waters in his thick clouds,
and the cloud is not split open under them.
He covers the face of the full moon
and spreads over it his cloud.
He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters
at the boundary between light and darkness.
The pillars of heaven tremble
and are astounded at his rebuke . . .

image credit: New Scientist

Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways,
and how small a whisper do we hear of him!
But the thunder of his power who can understand?

-Job 26:7-14

02 September 2013

Tangy BBQ Meatloaf (and behold, it was very good.)

Contra Kid President, we truly do like meatloaf! Of course, our moms are wonderful cooks, which saved us from experiencing the fabled glop of grey meat and rubbery ketchup-- I never understood why so many people hated meatloaf so much.

(Kind of like I never understood why other kids hated history. It's a bunch of stories! What's not to love? Then I realized that their history classes consisted of memorizing dates and names. Oh. That would be horrible.)

No glop here. Not particularly pretty, okay, but then ground beef never won a beauty contest. Just super good. The savory sauce and tender meat play perfectly together; plain mashed potatoes or basmati rice are nice accompaniments. Use leftovers for sandwiches, if that's your thang.


Tangy BBQ Meatloaf

1 14-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup brown sugar (or 1/4 cup pineapple juice for a less sweet sauce)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 lbs ground turkey or lean ground beef*
1/2 cup almond meal or breadcrumbs
1 small onion, very finely minced
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9x9 square baking dish.
2) In food processor or high-powered blender, combine tomatoes, dates, Dijon, and Worcestershire until smooth.
3) Combine meat, almond meal, onion, egg, and salt thoroughly in mixing bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce and stir well.
4) Shape meat mixture into a loaf in prepared baking dish. (I place it diagonally in the dish and make it about four inches wide, two to three inches high.) Make a groove down the center; this trick helps it to cook evenly.
5) Bake for 50 minutes. Remove from oven and drain off any excess grease, then spoon remaining tomato sauce evenly over top. Return to oven and bake 20-25 minutes more, until sauce is bubbling and meat is cooked through.

*You can replace up to 1/3 of the meat with cooked lentils (by volume, not by weight). I think half a pound of meat's equivalent to about 1 1/2 cups lentils? Even my bean-averse husband didn't mind.

Shared on Simple Lives Thursday