Saturday, September 29, 2012

Chilled Saturday & Reviving Proverbs 31

   Hello you fine people... How goes your early autumn weekend so far? Everything here is great. Handsome and I have endured a very long, VERY emotional and hard working week and have since late last night been marinating in romance and worldly pleasures. We have been filling our bellies with comfort foods like slow cooked chicken and dumplings, excellent coffee, and made from scratch pumpkin bread. We've watched horror movies and plugged in way too many strands of decorative lights. We are just about caught up on rest, thanks in big part to some much needed dark, rainy weather. And there is not a frenzied expression anywhere in this house.

   Yesterday I enjoyed a restorative street taco lunch and shopping trip with my sweet friend Melissa, noticed I'd racked off 20 miles of running this week, and remembered the Worry Room and how closed it is supposed to be. And this morning, thanks to a head's up from our friend and neighbor Seri, we scored about a thousand garage sale treasures ranging from a yellow chenille bedspread to a rusted iron chandelier and big, heavy cedar scraps that are just perfect for making long benches out by the fire pit. Cozy, cozy stuff, man. 

   Oh! And a brass floor lamp that is begging to be up-cycled and re-imagined. Can. Not. Wait. I already know five places in the house where it will look perfect.

   Hey, I just noticed that both Melissa and Seri are members of our world famous Oklahoma book club. These women have a way of weaving joy into my life even without ever touching a book. Thanks, ladies. xoxo

   After one more afternoon nap and maybe a trip to our local feed store, I expect we will be getting ready for house guests! My baby sister, her childhood friend Erin, and Erin's baby girl Elise are all staying over at the farm, making me feel 34% like a grandma. I am so okay with this feeling, in tiny little doses, for pretend only. Although the kitchen is overflowing with leftovers, we are planning a beef roast, garlic-roasted carrots, and cheese-stuffed buns for dinner. What is it about chilly, damp weather that makes a salad with cold chicken breast a ridiculous choice for a family meal? Because that is just not happening.


   So, as we put the final, warm and luscious touches on this packed month of September, a month replete with both heartache and elation, both work and play, I have decided something. Thanks to a gentle nudge from Melissa, I have decided to revive my 2011 month-long study on Proverbs 31, the 31 day series I dropped about halfway through the month last year due to some family circumstances.

   Now, chances are I will recycle some of last year's material, but I am still super excited. The book of Proverbs has always spoken to me personally, and the thirty-first chapter especially is a great source of inspiration as the season shifts us more inward.

   What say you? Are you also dazzled by this little slice of the Bible? Are you perhaps interested in doing a guest post, or leading a discussion with us? If so, I hope you'll email me or something. My writing this Proverbs 31 series has zero to do with being an authority on the subject. I need input, you guys, and I welcome a curious,  learning community.

   Well, happy Saturday evening to you all! I hope it includes plans for a few of your favorite things, and I hope that however you worship or study or reflect on Sunday serves you in an extra beautiful way tomorrow. If all goes well, I will be back on Monday to kick this thing off right.

   Love your people. Enjoy your children. Think good thoughts. Resist worry. Fall asleep to the rain if you can. And bake something.

"If we have no peace, it is because
we have forgotten that we belong to each other."
~Mother Teresa

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Red Beans & Rice Won't Miss Her

   Of the following two things,
I cannot decide which I love more:

Cajun Cooking 
Spiritual Metaphors

A.)  On one hand, Cajun food is nourishing and spicy. It warms my belly and my bones, and it makes my mouth dance. It's an instant mood lifter, and it makes me want to string up lights on everything I see and paint things black and turquoise. And it's so practical. Cajun cooking is the best of both artistry and resourcefulness, really. It encourages us to make the best use of whatever ingredients we have, and it is always aimed at satisfaction and excitement, never leanness or deprivation.

B.)  And spiritual metaphors are really aimed at satisfaction, too, not deprivation, not when you see things clearly. I am a firm believer that God wants us to be happy and fulfilled in a thousand ways every day!

C.)  On the other hand, spiritual metaphors have the unique ability to relate me and my frantic, purpose-seeking mind to every little thing in the world. Spiritual metaphors can make me cry those good, cleansing, satisfying tears. And apparently I need a lot of that in life.

D.)  But wait. Actually, is it that unique? Really good Cajun food has done the same thing. A particular restaurant in New Orleans serves bread pudding that reduces me to actual wet, salty tears every single time we visit. I have tried to analyze myself to understand why this happens. I have even tried to keep it from happening (because openly weeping in small, crowded restaurants in embarrassing), but to no avail. Red Beans and Rice followed by Bread Pudding at Little Dizzy's = a sobbing, inarticulate me.

So, you see? Both Cajun Cooking 
and Spiritual Metaphors
are a kind of Soul Food. 
No wonder it's hard to choose a fave.

Little Dizzy's gumbo includes not only spicy andouille sausage but also crab legs, shrimp, and more...

   So basically it's a toss up for me. A toss up between the virtues of the best food you will ever put in your mouth and the veil of meaning around all the tangible stuff we might notice on a daily basis. It just so happens that this week I stumbled on a glorious and unexpected intersection of these two, which I'd really like to share with you guys...


   I pinky-promise I'm getting to the point.

   While cruising food blogs and keeping my eyes open for the perfect recipe for red beans and rice (been craving it, clearly), I found this lovely woman's story about counting beans and raisins. That is not a typo. For a month she kept two bowls, one for collecting raisins when she spoke kind, truthful, loving words, and the other for collecting uncooked beans when she spoke hard or unkind words, angry ones, words that hurt.

   Here is a link to the 2010 blog post written by Lisa over at My Own Sweet ThymeEating Our Words- How Will Yours Taste? I hope you spend a few minutes reading it. Then you should spend even more time browsing her gorgeous recipe collection! I have already Pinned about a thousand.

   So it's simply a metaphor for closely watching the things that we say... A simple way of measuring whether our words are hard and hurtful, or soft and sweet. I was rapt immediately. Then she continues the metaphor by describing how hard, dry beans can be redeemed into a delicious and nourishing meal. This slayed me... 

When the month is done we will cook and eat the bowl of beans we have collected. Soaking them in water the beans soften as the hard outer husk cracks and often pulls away. When heat is applied they become even softer until they are actually palaltable and can provide nourishment. Then the beans are able to absorb a little salt and other seasoning making them into a tasty meal.
   Are you with me? Is your jaw dropped open a little, and is your heart humbled? The notion that even our hard words can be transformed by the Water, heat, and salt provided by God... this is encouraging.


   All of this has been a big challenge for me lately. I have been shocked at some of the things proceeding out of my mouth, mostly because of what it represents in my heart. Way too much bitterness and hostility is bottled up inside me, and no matter how hard I work to keep it in check or filter those feelings, eventually they leak out of my mouth. Even if I just mutter things under my breath or alone in the barn while raking hay, the words hang in the air, poisoning our environment. They echo in my head and shame me during happy moments. The worst part is that sometimes people I love hear them and are hurt by them. I am hoping daily for multiple opportunities to make amends.

   What I need is the Water of Life, heat like discipline and conviction, and salt like Truth and power. I need Love to soak and soften everything, to transform my hard words into something better.

   Just for your own study, here are some relevant scriptures:

  • James 3:10 "Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not be so."
  • Matthew 15:18 (Jesus speaking) "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart, and they defile the man."
  • Luke 6:45  "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh." 
  • Ephesians 4:15 "But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ." 
  • James 1:19 "Wherefore, my brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath."

   And here are a few relevant quotes I found thought-provoking:
  • "By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach." ~Winston Churchill
  • "The trouble with talking too fast is that you may say something you haven't thought of yet." ~Ann Landers
  • "Speak when you are angry, and you will make the best speech you will ever regret." ~Ambrose Bierce
  • "Don't speak unless you can improve the silence." ~Spanish proverb

   But I am afraid this restraint of speech is only part of the solution. The root of anger still needs to be resolved, at least for me it does. I feel a series coming on, folks.

   Big thanks to Lisa for her sweet note and for allowing me to use her words today. I hope you all can take time to read her essay and then examine your own words. Weigh them, and if they are hard just know that they can be softened. God redeems all kinds of sin. All is not lost.

   Also, make some Cajun food! It's definitely on the Lazy W menu this week!

Be Happy, Speak Lovingly, Eat Well

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Autumn Arrives

   Happy First Day of Fall, Y'all!! Everywhere I look this week people are gearing up for and smiling about the official change in seasons. Women are wearing knee high boots (guilty) even though it's not quite chilly enough; stores are happy to sell us artificially colored plastic leaves because our real leaves are still too green to collect; and the Pinterest boards have been flooded with football "game day" recipes. This exuberant thrust into the future tends to happen with a little extra oomph after any one season has been particularly brutal, as was the case with summertime 2012 in Oklahoma.

   I have made my peace with the end of summer.


   I mean, our pool is still open, soooo...


   This time of year is sensationally beautiful, of course. In most parts of the country but especially in Oklahoma, we can enjoy all variations of weather and foliage and local foods and also new, boredom-busting activities. Longer, slower hikes outside, pots of soup simmering on the stove, gardening without melting your face off. Watching the sun set comfortably, maybe even with a blanket wrapped around your shoulders. Crisp apples, moist pumpkin bread, and cotton table cloths that you would never use any other time of year...

   I must admit that early autumn is a little bittersweet for Handsome and me. It is the time of year when each of my girls made the decision to live with their Dad. On different years, mind you, but at the same season. On bad days, this is all bitter and no sweet. But then sometimes I can vividly imagine that their homecoming will happen in the fall, perhaps sometime far into the future, to replace the echo of that heartbreak with the celebration of our long awaited miracle. Hope is always sweet.

Our beloved Talking Tree on a particularly foggy morning

   Autumn is also when we had that house fire here at the farm that was started by (get this) a candle I had just purchased at Michael's THAT SAME DAY to celebrate the arrival of fall!! Can you even believe the poetry in that?! I think it was a cinnamon-apple candle in a big glass jar, and it was almost three years before I could smell anything cinnamon with out feeling nauseous. "Hi, my name is Marie and I am terrified of cinnamon."

Our front door and first floor may have been gutted, 
but our porch lights stayed lit and the flowers kept on blooming!

   Fortunately, and as a testament to both the power of Nature to overcome everything else and to our wealth of happy family memories, so much beauty remains that every year I cannot help but fall madly in love with autumn all over again.

   I love the flowers of the season...

   I love the pumpkin carving...

Look closely at these seeds... they are actually sprouts! 
They had sprouted inside the pumpkin, in the dark! 
Nature is amazing.
We fed them to the chickens.

...and I love the animal pranks. Kitten-Stuffed-Inside-Pumpkin is a classic. 

Unsuspecting Cat, "Fast Woman," Circa 2008
Note the wary goat int he background. 
That is Marshmallow. She was no dummy.

Unsuspecting  and Unnamed Offspring of Fast Woman's, Circa 2010
I was more than slightly amused to realize that
our feline-jack o'lantern tradition spanned many years.

But do NOT try this stunt with a goat. Or a buffalo. By comparison, cats are defenseless.

Sweet little Chunk-Hi back when he was still little and free to roam the yard.
See his stubby horn buds? Such a scruffy age, and so tender hearted, 
but still not appropriate for pumpkin-stuffing.

   Speaking of animal pranks, fall is a great time of year to bring your pretty little hens inside...

 ...and make them look at fake, Styrofoam poultry stapled to little squares of cardboard. Seriously, if you have chickens just do this, ok? You should SEE the looks on their faces! It's awesome.

   I love bonfires SO MUCH. Bonfires are easily my favorite thing about autumn. They encourage people to cuddle and talk and laugh hard and loud without worrying how weird their faces look. They send up smoke and embers to point our eyes toward the stars in the moody, changing sky... Bonfires are for s'mores and ghost stories, romance and memories.


   I love that life is so full of texture. So rich with change and surprise, yet also filled with constant offers of strength and Truth. We just have to accept them. The painful times help us appreciate the happy times. The joyful times insulate us for the inevitable devastation.

   Take time to soak up the details and texture of whatever season you find yourself in. Accept its gifts, rise to its challenges, and whenever possible gather your loved ones around a bonfire and love each other through it.

And Take More Pictures!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The More I Run...

  • ...the longer I can run at once. Back in June, I couldn't even complete a quarter of a mile without stopping to catch my wheezy breath and lean forward to not pass out. Now on a good day I can run a solid five miles without stopping. On a bad day, I still run two miles easily. I look forward to the day when a five mile run is short for me and a half marathon is on the horizon.
  • ...the better I can breathe in general.
  • ...the stronger my tummy feels. I am shocked by how much secondary conditioning you grab without even meaning to! 
  • ...the longer my legs look.
  • ...the happier I am on a daily basis. After running, on sad days I feel more settled and centered and on already great days I feel downright jubilant!
  • ...the clearer my thoughts are. Mostly. (It is still me, after all.)
  • ...the less I feel bloated, which feels GREAT, so the less I drink soda to ruin that feeling. Since the only soda I drink is Diet Coke, drinking less is a huge benefit to me in the long run.
  • ...the more I drink cold, clear, ice-less water. Like, by the QUART. All day long.
  • ...the more often I brush my teeth throughout the day. Not sure why this happens, maybe because of the water guzzling? I like the feeling of a super clean mouth?
  • ...the less I crave sweets, including "filler" type breads and potatoes.
  • ...and the more I crave veggies.
  • ...the looser my jeans and yoga pants fit. Even wet or straight out of the dryer. This has been a terribly slow progression, but a progression nonetheless. 
  • ...the more I enjoy Pilates or yoga, maybe because I am all warmed up? Or because I know I am doing something to compliment the run? Not sure, but it's a clear benefit. The more I run, the stronger I am. Period. 
  • ...the better I am able to work efficiently around the farm. Running actually increases my energy, which is a very good thing.
  • ...the more I feel inspired to tackle other projects. Both mental and physical challenges are way more easily met.
  • ...the better I understand my husband. Why? Not because he's a runner (he certainly is not and makes no apologies for this), but because while running I tend to listen to a lot of white-boy rap, his soundtrack of choice during high school, when we didn't know each other. Also, now I finally know ALL of the lyrics to Teach Me How to Dougie. Bring on the karaoke.
  • ...the closer I feel to the youngsters who have inspired me (my own beautiful Jocelyn and my two handsome nephews, Dante, and Matt...) I am beginning to understand why teenagers love their Cross Country teams so much. 
  • ...the better my skin looks, more or less. I wear sunscreen at the farm, even when it's cool out, but I think that better circulation gives me the appearance of sunshine. LOL
  • ...the more cuddly our two biggest horse become. I mean, Chanta is always a lover, but Daphne, my moody mare, seems to tolerate me more since I have been using her back field for these half-hour adventures in sweat. I am guessing she likes that seeing me outside does not always equal me demanding something of her. Fair enough.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Foggy Monday Morning Greeting

   Hey everyone! How was your weekend? How has your work week started out? Is it still foggy where you are, as your read this? At the farm I can barely see past the garden gate and the forest trees are blurred, showing only their slender black trunks in the grayness. Also, our animals are still mostly asleep at 8:30 in the morning! Lazy.

   Around here, today begins two full weeks of lunar fertility; I have a long list of autumnal jobs to tackle, both indoors and out; a good friend is starting her wedding preparations, and I am super excited to help; I have a beekeepers' meeting and am working at the Great State Fair of Oklahoma again, AND (certainly most important of all these fine things) I am embarking on a new emotional adventure for my children.

   This might be a light writing week for me, but then again so much is going on that I might lost my mind if I don't write. So we'll see. Either way, I wish you guys perfect September weather, just the right amount of food and exercise, three or four great books to read, a secret love note or two, and deep, abiding faith for whatever breaks your heart.

   I would be so thrilled if you kept my girls and me in your prayers especially right now. And if you're local, come see me at the Fair this Wednesday! I will be at the beekeeping exhibit again, learning more than I teach.

"Autumn is a Second Spring 
When Every Leaf is a Flower."
~Albert Camus

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Storms, Tap Roots, and Looking Up

Check it out you guys! Later today I am guest posting 
over at sweet Edie's community blog, lifeingracegirls
So fun! I have admired Edie's personal blog for a few years now 
and have gleaned from her tons of inspiration and enouragement, 
from books to faith to redecorranging.
Please join the fun over there and meet some of the other ladies too!


 I was zoned out running in the back field Wednesday morning, listening to either Eminem or Godsmack or something else equally endorphonish, when something caught my eye. It startled me actually, although I have seen it a thousand times before. It was this tree and its giant root system, exposed to the sky...

This photo was taken immediately after the tornado.
You can see that the pine needles still face the tree's original "up."
Today they point towards the sky.

   A little over two years ago, a large and very strong tornado barreled up the western slope of our farm, thrashing the trees and ground but (fortunately) just grazing our house. Despite seeing the rain-wrapped beast with my own eyes through the kitchen window, it happened so quickly that we barely understood what it was until the next morning. Because, seriously, around here the wind comes sweeping down the plain a lot! Like, a 40 mph gust could be called breezy.

   Handsome and I walked around our property and discovered tree after tree either snapped off at the ground or skinned naked of bark. Fences were tangled. All kinds of debris (both our and our neighbors') were scattered everywhere. We found just exactly what Oklahomans expect to find after a tornado, only thankfully this time our house and our animals were more or less in tact. So thankful.

So much of the nearby forests was stripped down to stubble.

This poor family lost their entire roof, and many others lost much more.
We were so blessed to take a hit and only replace shingles.

   Okay, so that is why that tree looks this way. I am quirky, but I would never plant a tree in this position on purpose. I swear it was a tornado, you guys.

   What is fascinating to me is that after two years of being toppled and having its almost feathery and so crucial root system exposed to our extreme conditions (sub zero winters, triple digit summers, record breaking drought), this pine tree is alive. More than alive, really, it seems to be thriving, albeit in a slightly different posture than before.

   It is not thriving just because it has a good attitude, though I do personally believe that plants can pose themselves positively or negatively in this world. Why are goat-head stickers so hostile?!? Neither is it thriving because anyone drags the water hose and a bucket of manure out there every other day and keeps its nest of roots moist and fed. DUH. I do not have that much free time!

   This tree is thriving because its tap root runs deep and sure. It reaches far beyond the parched dust of the sandy back field. It runs several meters past where the cruelest winds might whip it silly.This tree is in touch with something deep and sustaining enough for it to grow under the most unlikely circumstances.

   Also, in addition to becoming strikingly beautiful in a brand new way, I see that now this pine tree's exposed roots have become a shelter for small animals. The vacancy created by what was lost has become a home and solace for something else. If that's not beautiful, you guys, I don't know what is.

   What about us? How well established are our roots, and how vicious a storm can we withstand and still thrive, still grow? Even if some of the peripheral attachments we make in life are torn out and exposed to deadly elements, are we securely tapped into something more permanent? Can we enjoy many more seasons of new growth and beauty? Where do we face, towards the past or upwards?

   Personally, I can point to each trauma in my life so far and recall whether at that time I felt peace or fear. I can also remember how I fared in the wake of each storm, whether I crumpled into myself, risking dehydration and decomposition...or whether I was deeply fed enough to just turn my face upward and change direction.

   My connection to that deep Source of Life has been tested lately. So I am unreasonably happy to have noticed that tree today. I am so grateful to see its unusual beauty, its new bright green pine needles, the yoga pose it does all day as the sun moves over the back field. I am reminded that life's features and posture change, sometimes permanently, but it all remains beautiful.

   Stay connected, friends, to the best stuff. Find Love and Truth and never let go. If (when) a storm topples you but you are still alive and connected to that fountain of Life that never runs dry, then you have hope for life, beauty, and joy. You might even be used for a purpose you never imagined.

"Surviving is Important;
Thriving is Elegant."
~Maya Angelou

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday as Springboard

   Greetings you sweet, creative, thinky people! How has your fresh new week started out? Are you off and running, pouring your momentum and energy into every task and whistling while you work? Or are you dragging a little, running a bit rougher than you would like? Or maybe somewhere in between? I don't mind saying that I hit the ground running today, both literally and figuratively.

   After a few days last week spent actively resisting sadness and then mindlessly eating too many bowls of indulgent pasta, today was a healthier, happier day. I traded sweet notes with my baby girl on Saturday, her seventeenth birthday, and now she and I are looking forward to some time alone, hopefully very soon. I have tucked a few long, sweaty runs under my belt; and this coming week is filled with unusual and very exciting opportunities.  (I'll be sharing some of this with you!)
   On top of it all, our weather in Oklahoma has shifted ever so slightly. The late evenings are cool, and the early mornings are downright crisp. Our afternoons have been sunny and warm enough to collect a few rays on my bare legs and shoulders, but they are no longer murderously hot. These are the sublime days. The days between summer and autumn, the days when at any moment you can turn off the air conditioner and shove open every window in the house. The days when horses nap with their bellies open to the sky instead of hiding beneath the cooling shelter of cypress trees. Even the herbs are responding to our friendlier atmosphere...

   So I'm feeling pretty good. Great, actually. Despite some recent disappointments in life and ongoing challenges in several areas, Handsome and I feel so blessed. I am more grateful than ever for good friends who care and who offer nourishing little bits of wisdom and encouragement when it is needed most. For others who laugh with us so hard that we forget ever not laughing. I am so grateful for this constant river of inspiration that somehow speeds along inevitable grief. Life at the moment is bursting at the seams with opportunities for growth, improvement, and comfort. Do you feel that too? There is something in the distance, but something wonderful.

   At a garage sale over the weekend, I snagged for exactly one dollar a framed oil painting of a garden door.   Believe it or not (I hope you do believe me) it is the spitting image of one of the ways that Worry Door appeared to me almost two weeks ago. I now have the painting propped up on my writing desk, gently reminding me to keep that door closed.

   As I close up this afternoon to move on to life's next skinny little chapter, I am expecting some good news for my parents and little sister. I am trusting that my girls, my human chickens, feel the best of everything along with me. I have confidence in my husband and his future.And I crave Nutella like nobody's business.

"My joy, my grief, my hope, my love,
Did all within this circle move."
~Edmund Waller*

*Edmund Waller was a seventeenth century English poet and member of Parliament.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Egg-cellent Apron Giveaway Today!

   So did anyone notice the little egg counter over there creep up and pass the 800 goal? A couple of days ago I collected "the"egg plus a few more, then yesterday Handsome and I ate them for brunch along with orange segments and some toasted and heavily buttered homemade English muffin bread. YUM. Egg #804 was as delish as all the others.

   Well, this morning I was in the barn raking hay off a large bale for breakfast for the buffalo and horses, when my steel rake hit something hard. Clink! I climbed up and reached around (foolish, perhaps, as it could have been anything. Like maybe a snake. A metal snake?) But my hand felt a nest of cold eggs!

   So here in this photo we have eggs #805-808. Of course, the rake did some damage to one of these little liquid-chickens-in-a-package, so it was promptly donated back to the hens who have already devoured the extra protein.

We love our chickens!

   Okay! So it's time for that custom apron set giveaway! Please feel free to comment here or on Facebook or Twitter. A few fine readers have already thrown their names into the hat on Facebook, which is awesome! The more the merrier, and enter as often as you like. I'll do a drawing this evening.

   The winner will receive a complimentary custom apron with coordinating dish towel! Aaaannnddd...  everyone else who enters will receive a 25% discount on a Green Goose Textiles purchase, just in time for the upcoming baking season!

   Have a beautiful Sunday everyone. In our corner of paradise, the sun is sparkling and the air is cool. Love is breathing deeply and keeping us on track.

"Compassion is the antitoxin of the soul:
where there is compassion 
even the most
poisonous impulses 
remain relatively harmless."
~Eric Hoffer

Be Compassionate. Everyone Needs It.
Including Chickens Whose Babies We Eat.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tomorrow is a New Day

   Today was strange. I read a lot, but not all books, certainly not all books I had decided were nourishing and worth my time. I thought and ruminated longer and harder than I planned to and went for an overly emotional run in the back field. I enjoyed a spontaneous lunch in town with my Momma. Then I went shopping for new vitamins, did some window shopping for my first born chicken's upcoming birthday, and met Handsome at home for a sleepy and affectionate afternoon.

This beautiful baby will be seventeen on Saturday.
When I look at her sweet face or think of the time that has passed, I cannot breathe.

   Handsome and I ate a light supper and I studied several pages of The Odyssey then we watched the sun sink behind that same back field where I ran earlier, citronella lamp glowing between our lounge chairs. We listened to the horses crunching grass. I stretched and reflected on how little I did today, hating myself for it. He tended to a flock of guineas sounding their Owl Alarm. 

   Overall it was a dense but calm day, inactive compared to most weekdays around here, and I am frustrated by the bare minimum feel of it all.

   But tomorrow is Friday, an excellent day to extinguish that staleness! My lists are plentiful and always growing and shifting, just like space and time, but I am lucky blessed enough to have all the resources to accomplish whatever I decide is important. Maybe not every single thing I conceive, but surely every single thing to which I actually apply myself  What is that saying we all have been seeing on the site that rhymes with Zenterest?

"You can do anything you want, 
but not everything."
   That is the crux, isn't it? Deciding what should fall away, what is nothing more than a distraction or an outright attack.

   Resisting the pull of that door to the Worry Room, swimming strongly through the waves of pain and challenging emotions without succumbing to the old downward spiral.

   Looking up when the habit of staring inward becomes unproductive. Seeking beauty and surrounding ourselves with it, celebrating it in all of its intricate and surprising incarnations. These are the actions that replace the slippery, dangerous ones. These keep me out of the Worry Room and back on track, doing more than just whittling down lists of projects. These positive habits keep me in the business of building life and cultivating joy.

   Thanks for listening to me ramble! I just needed a little pep talk tonight, to be ready for a big, rich, textured day tomorrow! I hope you are closing up your week with a healthy perspective to match a satisfying routine. I hope you feel loved and are finding ways every day to show it. I hope you can look up and know you are seen and heard.

Oblah-Di, Oblah-dah!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Pinspired in the Kitchen

   Hey you guys! (By the way, sometimes when I say that I do it long and drawn out and super loud, like on Electric Company. Remember that awesome show?) This summer I have collected more gorgeous, tempting, and inspiring ideas on Pinterest than is probably healthy for any one person. One day I was even (politely) kicked off of the site by the Pinterest Powers That Be for displaying signs of being a Spammer. I Pin you not. They actually thought I was Spam. I am not Spam. But I do love me some Pinterest.

   Anyway, it's been a while since I posted Pinterest experiments here on this blog, so tonight I'm just gonna offer up half a dozen recipes drawn from that deep, glorious, digital well of brilliant ideas. The only photo I am using here is my own. And I have linked you to the original posts then included my notes for each.

   Ready? Okay! (Say that like a cheerleader.)

Cooking hot dogs in a slow cooker:
Crock Pot 365 blog
WAHOO, this works pretty great! They really did taste like the roller-cooker style hot dogs you might buy at a gas station.

Muffins that taste like donuts:
Stylish Cuisine blog

   Okay. These. Are. Delish. They are tender, soft, and yummy, and the buttery-sugary coating is just so good. Downside? This recipe is tiny. I mean, it doesn't make very many individual servings. I made mine as miniature muffins, and they spilled over so far that the muffin tops ended up looking more like cookies. Not a disaster, unless presentation counts for you. I had made these to send to Handsome's office food day, but they were rather ugly, so...we ate them all. We are martyrs in that way.
Suggestion: use muffin papers and double the recipe.

Zuchinni Tots
Curious Country Cook blog
Oh, yum. These were very, very good. I made them on the recommendation of our friend Steph. Even Handsome loved zuchinni tots, which is fantastic! Any new fresh-vegetable dish we both enjoy is a score. And these are fast to make, too, with few ingredients. Try this recipe!

English Muffin Bread
One Good Thing by Jillee blog
Another easy recipe with big returns on flavor and homemade goodness kitchen Karma. Do you love English muffins? This bread has that fab texture on both sides when you slice it. And as with most homemade bread, the lingering aroma pretty much doubles the work pleasure.
Suggestion: Make this in triplicate. I shared some with our neighbor as a thanks for inviting our horses to graze on his rye grass meadow, and he loved it too!

Buffalo Chicken Dip
Tidy Mom blog 
I made this for Handsome on a night I was absent for book club or beekeeping or something. I thought it would be super satisfying for him, kind of a comforting, spicy, guy's dinner for playing video games or whatever. I served it with a big bag of tortilla chips and wished him luck. It turned out okay, but he was not crazy about it.
Suggestion: Use less of something liquid, maybe the ranch dressing, or maybe add more chicken. I think it would be flat out delish and addictive with a little more substance. Or maybe my guy was just sad I was gone all night.

Butterfinger Chunk Cookies
Recipe Girl blog
These are so tasty, and obviously the aroma? Oh my... The whole farm smelled like Butterfingers and bread and general bakery goodness the afternoon I made these for a going-away-to-college dinner for our friend's son. But they are not fool proof. I baked these exactly according to the recipe, but they were too crisp for my taste. As in, they stuck in my teeth. Not fun, but still tasty.
Suggestion: Under cook these bad boys more drastically than you have ever under cooked anything in your culinary life. 

So there you have a handful of recipes to try! Perhaps it seems like all we do is eat. Perhaps that is a fact.

What's Cooking in Your Kitchen These Days?


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