December 19, 2010

The Annunciation

The Annunciation, 1898, by Henry Ossawa Tanner.

an angel came to me
and i was unprepared
to be what God was using.
mother i was to be.
a moment i despaired,
thought briefly of refusing.
the angel knew i heard.
according to God's Word
i bowed to this strange choosing.

a palace should have been
the birthplace of a king
(i had no way of knowing).
we went to bethlehem;
it was so strange a thing.
the wind was cold, and blowing,
my cloak was old, and thin.
they turned us from the inn;
the town was overflowing.

God's Word, a child so small
who still must learn to speak
lay in humiliation
joseph stood, strong and tall.
the beasts were warm and meek
and moved with hesitation.
the Child was born in a stall?
i understood it: all
Kings come in adoration.

perhaps it was absurd
a stable set apart,
the sleepy cattle lowing;
and the incarnate Word
resting against my heart.
my joy was overflowing.
the shepherds came, adored
the folly of the Lord
wiser than all men's knowing.

- o simplicitas, madeleine l'engle

December 5, 2010

Chorus, Christmas, & the Coming Lord

This is the weekend of the community chorus concerts, which means I've been singing and singing and singing. This afternoon is the last one, which is kind of bittersweet. I'm looking forward to a little respite for my voice, but I do love singing with the chorus.

The chorus does a spring concert and a winter concert, though the "winter concert" would be better described as a Christmas concert. All of our selections are about Christmas in one way or another. This year we're singing selections from Rachmaninoff's Vespers and Bach's Christmas Oratorio, and a bunch of other stuff including an arrangement of Star in the East with a hammered dulcimer player (it's awesome). But my favorite piece is one by Daniel Gawthrop, called O Come Emmanuel, which the chorus actually commissioned 10 years ago. The music is gorgeous, meaningful to sing, and the text is a poem by Madeleine L'Engle, taken from a collection of her poems called The Ordering of Love: the New and Collected Poems of Madeleine L'Engle (Thanks, Google books!). This poem is the second of her "Three Songs of Mary."

2. O Oriens 

O come, O come Emmanuel 
within this fragile vessel here to dwell.
O child conceived by heaven's power
give me thy strength: it is the hour.

O come thou wisdom from on high;
like any babe, at life you cry;
for me, like any mother, birth 
was hard, O light of earth.

O come, O come thou Lord of might,
whose birth came hastily at night,
born in a stable, in blood and pain
is this the king who comes to reign?

O come, thou Rod of Jesse's stem,
the stars will be thy diadem.
How can the infinite finite be?
Why choose, child, to be born of me?

O come, thou key of David, come
open the door to my heart home.
I cannot love the as a king -
so fragile and so small a thing.

O come thou Day-spring from on high:
I saw the signs that marked the sky,
I heard the beat of angels' wings,
I saw the shepherds and the kings, 

O come, Desire of nations,
be simply a human child to me.
Let me not weep that you are born.
The night is gone. Now gleams the morn!

Rejoice, rejoice, Emanuel.
God's Son, God's Self, with us to dwell.

November 14, 2010

November = Wool

Well, it's cold out again. Actually, today it's in the 50's, so it's not really that bad yet, but still. I know it's coming. The time change, the darkness descending at 5, the frost in the morning...and the annual flu-like cold that hits me like sledge hammer: they're all here.

I've been out of commission with The Sick since Wednesday night. Mercifully there was no school Thursday, and no call to sub on Friday, so I've been spending a lot of time in bed or on the couch. And while rest is awesome, it gets oooooold after a while. To combat these doldrums?

That's right.

It's time to get CRAFTY.

I won't yammer on and on about how much I love making stuff this time. I wanted a hat. I found a hat pattern, and I made a hat.



How do you not look like a doofus when modeling a hat? I didn't want to look how I really feel, which is like this:


Yeah, that's a bit more accurate.

Anyway, that hat is the product of a good afternoon and evening's worth of work. I laid in bed. I watched the movie Waitress, which has been on my desk for almost a month after its arrival from Netflix in October. It was dark, clever, cute, and worth watching...though it made me want a piece of pie. I'm glad I didn't send it back entirely unwatched, which has happened before. My problem is that I don't usually feel like sitting down to watch an entire movie, especially by myself. I use the instant streaming of Netflix, like, all the time to watch 30 Rock or Veronica Mars or Arrested Development or all these other awesome TV shows. But movies? I dunno. They just require such a time commitment. So what ends up happening? The little red Netflix envelope sits there, starting balefully up at me, until I finally cave and either send it back or carve out a chunk of time to watch. Which becomes surprisingly easy when you can't muster the energy to get out of bed.

Anyway, so I made the hat. I watched Waitress, and I totally watched an entire season and a half of the show  Pawn Stars (also streaming on Netflix, duhhh) while crocheting my little heart out. And can I just say, that show is pretty flipping cool. And addicting. And a major time suck. You turn it on, and they're just these short little 20 minute episodes that are like the Antiques Roadshow, if the Antiques Roadshow said bad words. And suddenly you've watched 10 episodes and you forgot to make dinner (...wait, what?). But it's funny and interesting. And I'm probably going to crawl downstairs to my couch and watch it as soon as I'm done typing this thing. So there.

November 8, 2010

Under Duress

Oh hi. Remember me? Remember this bloggy mcbloggy thing? I barely do, to be honest - which is evident from my total lack of posts in the last, oh, two months.

- I have some cool stuff happening starting in January. I'm being purposefully vague. Perhaps unnecessarily so, but WHATEVER. It's my blog. I do what I want.
- Because of the cool stuff, I got to quit my retail job! Which is good. Because it was far away and it was retail, and there's this little thing called "Black Friday" coming up and I don't have to work in a retail job for it anymore. Bullet = dodged.
- I'm trying to get as much teaching in as possible. I taught English today and Friday, and I will again tomorrow! Though tomorrow I'm teaching at the tiny little private Christian school in my county, not the public school I taught in today and Friday.

So there. Changes, quitting, teaching! Also, I'm busy teaching/singing with the (two) high school girls at my church, teaching the high school Sunday school class, learning tons of music for the community chorus, and bouncing around doing fun stuff on the weekends.

I also got a web cam (and a haircut!)


See, I just took that picture! JUST  NOW! And I've been Skyping with everyone, near and far. Well, mostly far. Lindsay and Eric in Florida, Emily in Syracuse, Olivia in Lewisburg, and Whit in England! The internet is awesome.

In summation, further proof that the internet is totally awesome: A baby monkey riding on a pig.

You're welcome.

August 18, 2010

Quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock

I work! As in, I have a job. Not really news, but did I announce that yet? I'm working a retail job part time now, which is actually pretty great, thus far. I'm still in training, but everyone is quite nice, and I'm meeting new people. Young people! People who aren't in my family or my church!

That is kind of a big deal.

The only (kind of) downside is that I'll probably be working a lot of Saturdays. That's a negative since, for the most part, everyone I know works a job that would give them weekends off; having to work on Saturdays means fewer weekends with my teacher friends. But hey, making money? Worth it.

Anyway, on to other things! I've been listening to some good music lately. For starters, there's the obvious: Arcade Fire's The Suburbs. It's good. I'm no Pitchfork reviewer, but take my word for it and give it a spin. Or a download. Or whatever. And while you're deep in the heart of the iTunes store, you might as well go ahead and pick up Mumford & Sons Sigh No More. It's very Avett Brothers-esque, with lots of traditional folk roots and some great spiritual themes.


And now, an album that I consider to be a well kept secret: Anais Mitchell recently released Hadestown, a folk opera (stay with me) based on the myth of Orpheus. In case that doesn't temp you (I can't imagine why not), I'll sweeten the deal: it features Justin Vernon (Mr. Bon Iver himself), Ani DiFranco, Ben Knox Miller (The Low Anthem), Greg Brown, and the Haden Triplets. It's beautifully arranged, musically diverse (think soul, rock, folk, traditional American music, and the like), and rife with poverty, romance, fear, betrayal, sacrifice, and speakeasys. Speakeasys, I say! In Mitchell's words, it is "based on the Orpheus myth, and set in a post-apocalyptic American Depression era" Which, for nerds like me...well, what more could you want? And this is the real deal: they stage it and perform it as a show, not just a concept album. It's really quite gorgeous. Do yourself a favor and listen to it. For more info, you can check out the website.

Finally, one last bit of news! My aunt and uncle just gave me my graduation gift: a beautifully restored antique washstand.


It's chestnut. And gorgeous.


It looks a bit out of place in my Ikea furniture filled room, but when I have a place of my own someday, it will have a home that's a bit more fitting, I'm sure. In the meantime, I'm thinking about making a blanket or something to hang on it. Maybe I'll finally put those little granny squares to good use! ...Maybe.

August 6, 2010

Green Gardens!


Plants. We got 'em. I wouldn't call myself much of a gardener, per se. I mean, I've done my fair share of planting, weeding, irrigating, and picking, what with growing up on my grandparents' farm, but if you asked me to list my passions and interests, I don't think "Gardening" would make the top 10.

That being said, I enjoy fresh picked produce just as much as the next gal, and let me tell ya, there will be plenty of picking to do soon.

My parents planted a lot of stuff in the garden that rests atop a retaining wall running beside the sidewalk. That's where our little strawberry patch resides, and it's also home to a veritable jungle of plum tomato plants now.


I mean, seriously. We're talking about lots of tomatoes. May I remind you that my parents live two counties over now? My house has two people living in it: my brother and me. In two weeks time, I could literally bathe in tomatoes...if, you know, bathing in tomatoes was a thing. Instead, I'll be eating them. And once I've had my fill, I'll be dumping them into our Squeezo (it's like magic, seriously), making gallons of tomato sauce, and canning it.

Other than plum tomatoes, I gave into the awesome trend of planting some heirlooms. The variety we went with are pineapple tomatoes, and they look beautiful. They're yellow and red striped. I've been baby sitting this one for the last couple of days waiting for it to get ripe:


I'm giving it until the end of today, and then it's MINE. I don't know why I'm so impatient. I'll be getting a lot from the harvest in just a little while.


And to conclude tomato fest 2010, we have one cherry tomato plant that is going nuts. I love cherry tomatoes, so I'm down with this development.


We might get a few. You know, one or two.


We're also in the pepper buisness too! We have plenty of red & yellow bell peppers:


...and a veritable bumper crop of cayenne (which I string up to dry for later use) :


We have zucchini:


And cucumbers!


I'm sorry, did I say cucumbers? I meant The Tiniest Cucumbers Ever. Let me add my finger to the photo for the sake of scale.


Also featured in the garden (but not pictured): broccoli, which has mostly run its course (and is now happily living in my freezer), a cilantro plant that's bolted, allowing me to harvest fresh coriander seeds (some of which I've reseeded to grow more cilantro), a basil bush (not exaggerating), and a flippin' viciously invasive mint plant. I hate that thing.

But hey, what's a garden without the pretty?? People love flowers. Obviously this garden should be no exception. And since we Walkers don't do things half way, take a gander at these flowers:

In the lower garden, marigolds and petunias.


A morning glory plant that seems to be fixated on eating my mailbox:


And sunflowers! Glorious, enormous, sunflowers! They line the garden leading to library next door (and yes, I live next to a library. Now do you understand why I'm a nerd?).


There are also some marigolds in that garden, too.


And this year, the sunflowers yielded some really beautiful varieties beyond the usual yellow ones:


Even the honey bees appreciate them.


So there! That's our garden! And the best part of it all? It's pretty low-maintenance, believe it or not. For one thing, the fact that the gardens are between the sidewalk and the retaining wall means that we don't get any pests (bunnies, deer, etc.) munching on our stuff. Furthermore, since my dad is pretty brilliant, we have a drip irrigation system on a programed timer. There's a pump under the porch that keeps all the gardens watered from water we collect in our underground cistern. It's pretty money, frankly.

And now that I've uploaded a million pictures of my produce, I think I'm going to go eat some. And if you want any tomatoes, you know who to call.

July 26, 2010

Drinks & Coasters


It's been a while since I picked up the 'ole crochet hook and started making things again. I have a whole set of drawers full of brilliantly dyed skeins of wool, an entire grocery bag full to bursting with little orphan granny squares, and hundreds (or so it seems) of scraps and snatches of mostly-finished scarves, hand warmers, hats, and ideas. I get struck with inspiration! And then struck again with that mid-project lull, leaving me with lots of little nothings.

Sometimes, however, the inspiration strikes and I come out with something that I honestly need. See, that's what I love about real crafts. You have a need? Let's make something! I needed coasters. I have a really nice glass-topped desk, which is great except for the fact that cups and glasses leave little rings all over it. This weekend I did a big scrub down of my room - dusting, vacuuming, actually putting things where they belong - and I got to my desk top, spotted with all of those condensation polka dots. The answer? Coasters.


And what is more satisfying than identifying a need and meeting it? I mean, and the fact that I love to mix and match colors. Even though I don't really need more than 3 coasters, I have this little desire to keep making them just because I love to try different color combinations.


And hey, what's a coaster without a delicious drink? I've been enjoying mixing and matching flavors in this summer time drink lately. It's great as-is and can easily be made more grown up with a bit of vodka or rum. It's not too sweet, but really refreshing. And while I might put one on my new coaster, it's best enjoyed while sitting on a porch.

- Muddle 3-4 basil leaves in the bottom of your glass. I just mush it around with the back of a spoon, but if you have a good muddler (and who doesn't?) use that. You don't want to pulverize the leaves, just bruise them enough to release the oils.
- Add ice cubes. Fill up that glass!
- Fill 2/3 of the glass with juice. I've mixed orange and grapefruit, or just used grapefruit. You can also use a little rhubarb syrup (which is delicious) with any of these.
- Fill the last 1/3 with club soda, give it a little stir, and enjoy!

July 14, 2010

I'm pretty much a wizard now.

Well. It happened.

I went to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

It was awesome.

It was also unbelievably hot, humid, and crowded. But mostly it was awesome. And while I don't have any pictures to post - yet - I'll be sure to add a few on here one Whit uploads them on FB. All in all, the trip was something that came at an opportune time. This job search thing is really wearing me thin; I'm constantly anxious about where I'm going to be in the next months. I know I shouldn't be anxious, because I have a supportive network of family and friends, not to mention a couple of options that, while perhaps less-than-ideal, will certainly keep me from living on the streets. Being able to leave the confines of my house and just go enjoy a vacation made a big difference. It was like a weight lifted for a while.

Anyway, I'll just share a few highlights, because I think that trying to give a play-by-play of the whole trip could get tedious. Whit and I departed from her house in Maryland on June 23, and took two days to drive down to Orlando. We took 95 for most of the trip, and - obviously - we stopped at South of the Border. That place is...awful. Seriously. What a creepy, creepy place. Anyway, we got to Orlando, found our hotel, and spent the next 3 days at Universal (which is where Harry Potter World is; it's a part of their Islands of Adventure park). Like I said, it was really flippin' crowded in the park, but it was fun to be there and just see kids having a blast. It was unreasonably hot and humid the whole time, which made me admire the stalwart kids who wore their HP robes while roaming about. Actually, I was more fearful for their safety than impressed by their constitution. I wonder how many little members of Gryffindor passed out at the park during the first week?

We tried the Butterbeer (duh) and got commemorative mugs (from which I drink everything now), and we also tried the real beer exclusive to the park. It's a Scottish Ale they serve at the Hog's Head, and it was surprisingly good (even at 11AM...wait, what?). We rode the rides which were as follows: The Flight of the Hippogriff (a kiddie coaster), The Dragon Challenge (a suspended steel rail coaster that NEVER had a line...I guess the families and kids at the opening of the park were less into intense roller coasters, which is fine with me...we took advantage of that fact), and the Forbidden Journey, which is the most notable HP ride in the park. The line is a tour of Hogwarts, and the ride itself is one of those simulation rides where you fly around and deal with like dragons, dementors, quidditch, etc. It was pretty sweet, even if Whitney lost a flipflop (RIP) when the lady next to her kicked it off her foot.

Anyway, the whole experience was pretty great. Sure, there were lines to do almost everything, but we didn't mind. We also spent an afternoon watching Toy Story 3, and another watching the USA loss to Ghana in the world cup. We spent a day at Disney, too, which was wonderfully nostalgic. Though Space Mountain? Not nearly as fun as I'd remembered.

The return trip included a day in Charleston, SC, which was beautiful and a two-night stay with Julie Rafferty in Greenville, SC, where we picked her up to take her to Lindsay & Eric's wedding. And the wedding? Awesome. So fun, so meaningful, just...just wonderful. What a blessing to see two of my favorite people get married! I sang Come Thou Fount in the service, which was an incredible gift to be allowed to do. I feel so honored to have been a part of that day in their lives. And, most of my fave people ever were at the wedding, so that was awesome too! We kept the party going the next day, as a huge group of camp folks, current and old (like me!) went to the Pirates/Phillies game in Pittsburgh. And then, finally, after almost two weeks on the road, I came home.

And that's where I am now. I'm in the thick of the job thing again. I have two interviews today, one in just a few minutes on the phone with the DC Public Schools, and another at Best Buy for just some part time employment. Being unemployed is certainly an exercise in trust, but it's getting slightly easier as the days go by.

June 9, 2010

Summer time!

It's summer! I'm going to say that's 90% awesome, 10% not awesome. Here's why:

+ The weather's been consistently beautiful for the last two weeks. Even rainy days like today feel nice!
+ Speaking of rainy days, this is the first summer in 5 years where I don't have to worry about them. Since I'm not working at camp, I don't have to worry about thunderstorms or rainy day games or any of that stuff. I can sit on my porch and watch the storms roll by.
- However, that means I'm not at camp. And that's kind of lame, honestly. I'm still getting used to the idea that camp is happening without me...which is okay, and most of the time I'm totally fine with it. But occasionally I'll have a moment where I think about it and it's a little sad. More on that later.
+ I'm going to HARRY POTTER WORLD in about two weeks.
+ Lindsay and Eric's wedding is coming up soon, which will probably be the biggest social event of my summer. EVERYONE WHO'S EVERYONE will be there! Well, sort of.
+/- Subbing is over for the summer, obviously. On one hand, that's kinda nice; I can go to bed knowing I won't be getting a 6AM phone call. On the other hand? I have no source of income. Ugh.
- Not subbing allows for a TON of time where I get to sit in the house alone and fret about the future. Will I get a teaching job? Will I have to move somewhere else? Will I even hear back and get an interview anywhere? Will I be able to pay my student loans? Will I have to defer? Will I end up working at Giant bagging groceries? Should I get a retail job somewhere this summer, since I have no income? Will I be here next year subbing all year? Can I even handle that? ...You get the picture.
+ Gardening is cool! We have lettuce, strawberries, mint, thyme, and basil in abundance. On Monday, Anna and I went cherry picking at the cherry tree behind our church, so I have a fridge full of strawberries and cherries. We also planted tons of plum tomatoes, "pineapple tomatoes" (which are an heirloom variety), yellow peppers, red peppers, cayenne peppers, and broccoli. Those probably won't be ready for harvesting until much later in the summer, but I'm seriously looking forward to enjoying them.

I think that's it for the +/- game. This week is going by pretty quickly; Friday I'm hanging out with HS Beth and then going to a Hagerstown Suns game with my brother and aunt. Saturday I'm heading out to Lauren's house in Pittsburgh, and then going to the camp commissioning service at First Pres, then I'm booking it to Olivia's graduation party at the Greensburg Country Club. And then I'm back home! For about a week, before departing for HP WORLD (!!!!) with Whit, then picking up J-Raff and going to the wedding! And that brings me to July.

So the summer will be busy! Not as busy as being at camp, but I think I'm ready for that. Like I said, most of the time I'm totally okay with not being at camp. I LOVE it there but...I can tell it's time to step back. I'm trying to be intentional about praying for the camp, without letting myself feel like I need to be there. So far, so good.

So what about you? How's your summer? And do you know of any jobs out there??

April 27, 2010

Twitter, Design, and Questions

I got Twitter yesterday.

I know.

To begin with, I only half-understand it. All those # and @ and RTs and's a little bit confusing. But I'd be lying if I didn't say that my confusion is what lead me to join. How does that even make sense? My logic is this: I'm too young to not understand Twitter. Does that make any sense? Is that a good mindset? I'm pretty sure the answer to both of those questions is no, but there you have it. I've always grown up with computers and technology; it's something I enjoy. And it would appear that Twitter is here to stay...and if I can't keep up with Web 2.0 when I'm 22, I'll probably be totally clueless when I'm 30. And it's Web 3.0 or whatever.

ANYWAY, all of that silly justification went out the window after I saw this -- a tweet from @sesamestreet (see what I did there? That's Twitter speak. Try to keep up.) saying: "Cookie Monster: Today me ate: chocolate cookie, oatmeal cookie, peanut butter cookie, and tofu stir fry. What, you think cookie all me eat?" I love it!

And really, while I think Twitter may be - as High School Beth put it - "just another thing to check," there are a few interesting things I've gleaned from it. I follow mostly people or entities that I don't personally know (NPR blogs/shows/folks, bands, muppets, etc.) and I get some fun little tidbits. As of now, I don't feel tied down to it. I'm not concerned about gettin' my Tweet on regularly. It's mostly just for fun info, not for socialization. I'll let Facebook suck away all of that time, thank you very much. 

In other news, I have a new blog layout! You can thank Twitter for that. I got all excited about picking colors and designs that I decided it was time for a little makeover here. I'm pleased with the results. I'm not a graphic designer, but whatev. This'll do for me!

Finally, there's the job hunt. I'm no longer vying for a CCO position, as it's been filled by someone else. And while any rejection comes with its sting, God prepared my heart for it well. I'm still anxious, and a bit at sea when it comes to what my future will look like, but I'm trying to use this uncertainty as an opportunity to rest in the Lord's sovereignty. Prayers are welcome, as the hunt for a job (preferably one teaching art) continues. There are some good leads, but no answers to all these questions for now. 

Now I just have to learn to let that be okay.

April 9, 2010

Feelin' Green

'Sup, homies? It's spring all up in! The last week has been absolutely beautiful: 80 degrees, leaves coming out on trees, Magnolia trees in full bloom, cherry and pear blossoms, and even a few thunderstorms.

So what have I been up to? Interviews, subbing for 2nd graders, painting a musical set, and enjoying a beautiful Easter Sunday, that's what!

What else, you ask? Well, I got a new acoustic-electric guitar which is absolutely beautiful. I even learned how to play this song on it! I'm so classy.

Finally, I just tried out this awesome Oil Cleansing Method on my skin...and let me tell you, it was the real deal. I mixed 3 Tbsp of Olive Oil, 4 Tbsp of Castor Oil and 1tsp of Tea Tree Oil together, rubbed it on my skin, and then used a warm wash cloth to steam it. It. Was. Awesome. At first I was wary of rubbing cooking oil and an oil I found in the laxative section of the grocery store all over my face. "Won't this make my face feel greasy? Won't I feel like I'm about to saute my face?" Well, the answer is no. My skin feels refreshed and soft and not at ALL greasy.

I'll keep you posted though; if I wake up tomorrow morning with olive oil acne, I'll be a little annoyed. But right now, I'm converted! It was super cheap, easy, and natural.

Next thing to try? Going shampoo free!

March 21, 2010

The Great Debate

Well, it happened: the health care reform bill just passed, for good or for ill. I don't have a ton of time to write down my reactions to this historic moment (because it is historic, regardless of its outcome) since I'm about to go to bed, but I'll share a few thoughts.

I am not well informed enough on the crazy intricacies of our current system of health insurance, nor the health care reform bill, for me to be comfortable preaching my solutions to our woes. I'm often struck by others who share my lack of knowledge, yet seem to have answers aplenty. And where they may not have answers, they certainly have a reason for why their opponent's solutions will absolutely not work. What disheartens me the most is that often these ideas are rarely fruits of research and reason; they are usually the sound bites from one of the countless talking heads on 24 hour news channels. You want to believe this health care bill is a communist decree from Comrade Obama (or perhaps some of those "social justice" churches)? Turn on Glenn Beck. He'll give you all the "facts" you need. Do you want reassurance that finally we Democrats are cleaning up this horrible mess that GWB and all those dirty, nasty Republicans left behind? I'm sure MSNBC can help you out there.

See, my point is this: we are so far beyond being well-informed that it's almost unbelievable. We are not informed, we are simply opinionated. And as long as I can find someone who will support my opinion, then I am right.

But I guess I'm not talking about health care anymore, am I?

I guess what gets me so frustrated is that in the wake of this bill's passing, I've heard some of the most diametrically opposed reactions. I have friends convinced that this bill stands as the harbinger of our nation's doom. Others see it as a symbol of its salvation. Neither are correct. But that's what we're taught, isn't it? In politics there is either the savior or the antichrist.

And while we're speaking of saviors, let's talk about that aspect of all this hoopla, shall we? I've seen more of my Christian friends disparaging and crying out about this than I have for almost any other issue.

How is it that we allow ourselves to be more united, more vocal, more outraged about the health care bill than are about the literally countless other massive injustices facing our world today? I believe it takes some examination to see why this bill has become the centerpiece of our indignation. And does it deserve this kind of fervency?  Are there, perhaps, other issues that deserve your thought, prayer, money, or Facebook status?

I'm not saying national politics shouldn't be on the radars of believers. Injustice abounds, and the Gospel calls us to confront it (...Glenn). I am saying that we should be more thoughtful in our conclusions, and more prayerful in deciding what we make the center of our thought lives. When opinions come from a talking heads, and "just wrath" is reserved only for partisan politics, it is difficult to come to any conclusion...let alone one rooted in the Gospel.

March 8, 2010

Kitchen Magic: One Ingredient Ice Cream

I love food blogs. I love looking at pretty pictures of food, I love attempting to recreate dishes I find online (though our food resources at the local grocery store are kind of lame), and I love just makin' stuff up in the kitchen. The other day I found something on a food blog that I couldn't really believe: one ingredient ice cream. 

"One ingredient, Stef?" you might be saying, "How is that even possible?" Well, I appreciate your polite disbelief. I will now dispel it.


It goes like this: Get yourself a banana that's pretty ripe. You know, the mushy brown speckled variety that is getting close to the end of its days. You can use less-ripe bananas, but they don't blend as well, and that "green" flavor becomes a little bit overwhelming, so I found it's better to use those mushy buggers. Peel it, slice it, and put the pieces in the freezer for a couple of hours, until they're frozen. 1-2 hours ought to do it, but if you leave it in there longer it won't cause any issues. 


Pile the frozen banana coins into your food processor. A blender works okay, but you have to do a lot more fanagling with your spatula to make sure everything gets blended evenly. 


WHIRRRRR go the bananas! They'll get crumbly like this...that means you're close! The magic will be starting shortly. Use a spatula to mush everything in there so it's all getting annihilated together. Unless you want chunks, I guess.


And then: TA DA! Your crumbly banana turns into a creamy, sweet desert. The texture is almost identical to soft serve ice cream. It's also delicious. I don't really like bananas that get too mushy, but they are awesome in this form! Also? The improv you can do here is pretty awesome. Blend in a spoonful of peanut butter, or maybe some honey? Nutella, chocolate syrup, frozen berries...I could go on, but that would mean I would be keeping you from making this for yourself. And that just wouldn't be right.

February 25, 2010

I Make Stuff!

Being unemployed (hopefully not for much longer!) gives me a lot of time to do stuff during the day. "What stuff," you may be asking? Well...I'll tell you! I even have some pictures!
For starters, I've been cooking a lot. I don't have any pictures of this stuff, because hey, this isn't a food blog! Plus my camera is lame, and Dad's nice camera lives with him now. But anyway...on to the list of things I've made recently:
- More tiny jar pies (I've been sharing the tiny jar pie's a good deal)
- I roasted garlic and made garlic butter and garlic infused oil. I haven't used the oil yet but the butter is UNBELIEVABLE. If you haven't roasted garlic before, please stop reading this and go do it. It's so easy! And so delicious! And if you want guidance, I'd recommend going here.
- Roasted Red Pepper and Black Bean soup. It's cheap, it's spicy, it's filling, it's unbelievable. I found the recipe here, and I made some cilantro yogurt sauce to go with it. Just put a few generous scoops of plain yogurt (I used greek yogurt, 'cause we had it), the juice of half a lemon, and a big 'ole bunch of cilantro in a blender and give it a whirl. You can thank me later.
- Salsa Verde! I love the Trader Joe's kind, but it's not worth the commute to the nearest TJ's. Ken and I have been tweaking our own to get it right, and I think we're close. 
- The easiest, most delicious tomato sauce known to mankind. Three ingredients: tomatoes, butter, and an onion. Give it an hour of simmering and enjoy. If you don't believe me, take Smitten Kitchen's word for it because she knows what's up!

I've been doodling a lot lately, too, which resulted in  a Valentine's Day Comic (which I never got around to sending to anyone...whoops.)

I also found and fell in love with the comic My Cardboard Life which is easily the most charming comic on the internet.
Finally, I have pictures of the room transformation that's been taking place over the last couple of months. I think I can say it's finally finished for reals as of today. 

For starters, here's one of my walls mid-repainting...ahhh I do not miss that pink.

...isn't that pink carpet nice? I don't miss it, either.

I think this brown is a little more...grown up. I'm a fan.

There's the same wall, as of tonight. I hung some of my paintings, put out some little wee candles, and I'm enjoying some good 'ole Ikea furniture. 

But really, all of this is kind of old news. I've been done painting for over a month, I've had my carpet about as long, and the furniture has been here since January as well. What's been occupying my time this week has been painting a design on the wall over my bed, which is FINALLY finished as of today:

Ta da! I'm really quite proud of it. I painted some big abstract flowers on Anna's walls at my parents' new house in Boiling Springs, and I got inspired to do the same on my own wall. And there it is! I'm kind of disappointed that it's all over, because it's been a lot of fun this week, making thumbnails, doing scale drawings, and finally getting to the painting part of it. So if anyone out there wants something painted on their wall...just let me know! I'm all experienced now, so I'll hook you up. 

So that's what I've been making! How about you? Create anything awesome as of late?

February 3, 2010

Where has the time gone?

It's already February! What in the world? I know I shouldn't be too taken aback at that, but I feel like January flew by in a whirlwind of paint, errands, and cleaning. Lots of cleaning.

My brother and I are alone in the house these days, since the rest of the family migrated to Boiling Springs to be closer to my step-mother's new position as a itinerant teacher for the visually impaired students in the south central part of PA. Anna, the dogs, and our couches got packed up and shipped out at the beginning of January. Since then, I spend most of every day sorting, scrubbing, and otherwise restoring the house to it's proper state.

I started with my own room, attacking the teddy bear border and pepto pink that plagued my walls and carpet since fourth grade. Now I have an accent wall with green, surrounded by a nice warm brown on the other walls. Last Friday I said PEACE to the pink carpet and in came some nice beige carpet as a replacement.

So that's the work I've been doing...other than that? God is blessing this time over and over again. For one thing, I'm kept pretty busy between cleaning, hanging out with my family, seeing friends who are close by, Community Chorus, church choir, and helping my dad with the musical set. But even more than that, I'm in awe of how much the Lord has been making his presence known. I feel so in touch with Him right now, which is such a relief. I'm at peace with where I am, and I'm enjoying the work that I'm doing.

I'll have to take some pictures of my room, my house, and some of the other projects I've been up to. Included on the list of stuff I've been doing? On Monday I made some jar pies for my brother and me. What's a jar pie? Well, you can go here to see what inspired me, and later I promise I'll take pictures of the ones I'm making and post them. They just didn't quite last long enough for me to take pictures last time!