Saturday, January 31, 2015

Quiet Service

The church I serve has this half court in the back parking lot. 

It's a simple, relatively inexpensive, and passive community service. Most every Saturday there are games going on out there. 

We also have some lovely green space in an area that's quickly reaching saturation--plenty of neighbors walk their dogs here, or just take themselves for a walk around our gardens. We recently added a Little Free Library, because let's face it--we all have too many books.

What are the easy and passive ways your congregation can serve the community, simply by sharing what you already have?

Friday, January 30, 2015

Love and Guts

My husband adores chopped liver. I inherited his grandmother's recipe, and once or twice a year I set aside my visceral dislike of that particular organ meat, and make him a batch.

I'm prepping a turkey for the Super Bowl*, so I had some liver on hand. Might as well get to work...

I finally diced the hard boiled egg while the liver cooked. I added some salt and pepper... it was coming together.

And then I realized that I'd overcooked the liver.  

And then I remembered that spouse only likes chicken liver, not turkey liver. 

All things considered, I may have just spent twenty minutes making a treat for the dog.

The famous letter to the Corinthians goes on and on with the many things love is. Here's my Friday night version.

Love can be less than pretty.
Love is compromise.
Love is making things work, even when things aren't perfect.
Love is at least taking a taste, knowing that it might not be exactly what you were hoping for.
Love is sharing a treat with the dog.

*For supper. Not special teams.

Thursday, January 29, 2015


 Sourdough experiments happen a couple of times a week right now. I'm finding that the Dutch over method gives a great crust--you leave the lid on the pot for the first half hour for an internal steam system, then remove the lid and let the top crust brown over a final fifteen minutes.

Here's the thing, though. Sourdough has this elastic nature. And the (enameled) cast iron takes on a lot of heat in that 450-degree oven.

Today, despite an oiling of the pot, the bread stuck. Like it seemed to be welded in there.

A variety of utensils, one burned palm and a couple burned knuckles, I managed to free most of the loaf from the pot.

That bit left behind was deliciously crisp, and was slathered with butter or olive oil and devoured while we waited for the rest of the boule to cool.

And I just learned that one does not pronounce the e in boule. It sort of rhymes with pool, and it means ball in French.

So, lessons for the day--
  • Use more oil in the Dutch oven.  Seriously. Do not skimp.
  • Patience would mean less burning of self.
  • People may not even notice that there's a hole in the bottom of their bread, as long as it looks nice on the board.
  • And even if it doesn't look nice, it's still fresh homemade bread.
  • Boule--rhymes with pool.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Don't Forget! Don't Forget!

Last night as I drove home, I realized that today would be the day.

The day the car's odometer hit 22222,

I adore palindromes, especially in numbers. Symmetry is pleasing.

So I drove to co-op and the office and home again, keeping an eye on the odometer as I could.

Traffic this evening was horrid--surface streets backed up enough that we were waiting through several light cycles. And then suddenly it all cleared up... right as the odometer hit this milestone. This picture was snapped in the six seconds before the light turned green, hence the blur.

But I did not forget to pay attention. To the odometer, or the traffic.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Character Flaws

It is January 27th and my Christmas cactus hasn't bloomed yet.

It's been showing signs for over a week now.

It has oodles of buds, pink even!

And this one putting on this hopeful show...this morning I thought, "Surely, it will be blooming when I get home tonight."

But now I need to go to bed and that bud is just not there yet.

I found myself muttering at this $4.99 houseplant.

I am so very impatient.

(And then it took forever to get a focused picture... and forever to get things to upload... I am flailing like Overwhelmed Kermit.)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Getting Ahead of Ourselves

We passed a milestone today, sooner than expected.

Firstborn got his first recruiting packet from a college.

It shouldn't be a surprise--he took the PSAT this fall, just as practice, but it was a debut of sorts.

He's fifteen. Plenty of time to consider. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Winter Storm Prep and Comfort

Winter Storm Juno* is already predicted to be a historic storm, with nearly three feet of snow possible in some of the biggest cities of the US East Coast. With heavy snow and high winds, some areas may lose power, and getting around will likely be treacherous for a while.

I grew up in Wisconsin, so being snowed in is not a foreign concept to me. The last time I dealt with extended outages, though, was when Hurricane Ike came to visit Houston in 2008.

Here are a few suggestions for getting through the next few days-

Before the worst of the storm hits-

  • Charge your cell phones, find your candles and flashlights just in case you lose power. 
  • Prep some easy food--if you lose power, hard boiled eggs are way easier than raw ones... 
  • Reassure family out of the area that you'll be fine and how best they can be in contact with you.
  • Yellow pages. Find them if you can, but if you don't have any, this is a good time to write down critical numbers you might need. (Also handy is a phone that plugs into the wall just in case everything loses charge...)
  • Make something that gets your home smelling excellent. Trust me on this one.
  • Catch up on laundry.
  • Give your heater a nudge up if you can, just in case
  • If you have pipe freezing issues, please keep on top of them. (This storm is not likely to be 'bitterly' cold, but freezing is freezing.)
  • Make deals with your kids on how you'll be weathering the storm. Especially "This is an awesome opportunity for Mom to sleep in. Make yourselves cereal." (Sadly, it's hard to negotiate with babies and pets.)

Staying comfortable during the storm-

  • Consider this an excellent reason to fall in love with your blankets, fuzzy socks, and silly hats. 
  • Books, jigsaw puzzles, board games (if you have company)
  • Moisturize! I mean it!
  • As delicious as comfort foods are, eat a vegetable. Or an apple at least.

If you have shoveling to do:
Yes, shoveling a few times as it falls is less heavy than two feet all at once. But if it's a whiteout, please stay inside. And please don't overexert, ever. If you collapse, some poor ambulance driver has to navigate the roads for you.

For folks elsewhere wishing they could help out, you might look into supporting Warming Centers in impacted areas as they provide shelter to homeless people.

What else do you suggest?

*No, I'm not really a fan of naming winter storms. Enough so that I mislabeled this storm as Iola originally...
It just makes people feel bad in a neverending winter.