Thursday, January 31, 2013

Why Candlemas is Better than Groundhog Day

Candlemas & Groundhog Day both take place on February 2, which is this Saturday. Candlemas is a feast that celebrates the "Presentation of the Lord," aka when the infant Jesus was taken to the Temple by his parents according to Jewish custom. 
While I will always love the movie Groundhog Day, I find that I prefer to celebrate Candlemas as a holiday instead  (And it's not just because I love Jesus, even though I do.) 
Here are some of the reasons why:

1) Candlemas has a very pretty rhyme to help figure out if winter is over or not. Much better than a silly old shadow.

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight;
But if it be dark with clouds and rain,
Winter is gone, and will not come again.
(old English song)

2) The scriptures that tell the story of Jesus being taken to the temple. I like the idea of "revealing light." This is the sort of verbage that I like to ponder for hours.  I also find Simieons words to Mary, facsinating, the future broken heart of a mother being something signifigant enough to mention. Also there is a prophetess involved. These are also things I like to mull over. 

The dedication of Jesus, 
"a God-Revealing Light," at the temple

3) There is a good dose of variety in the celebrations around the world. Food is almost always involved. Usually really good food.
For instance, Tamales are a Mexican tradition during their celebration of  Candlemas called Día de la Candelaria.   This year I am on the hunt for some really delicious and authentic tamales, something that doesn't come out of a can. I have a few leads and will keep you posted. 

4) See reason #3

Crepes are a Candlemas tradition in France. Since the feast will fall on a Sautrday this  year I am planning on making a Crepe Cake for our celebration (usually we would just have crepes with filling for dinner or dessert.) If I manage to pull it off I will try to take pictures.

5) Simple but lovely ways to decorate, or crafts to make or gifts to give:
Candles -specifically beeswax candles.
The burning and blessing of candles at church on this day, an old tradition. If you are hosting a Candlemas gathering you can 

So there you have it. All the reasons I like to celebrate Candlemas. Don't you think it is much better than Groundhog Day? 

(Candlemas is one of the celebrations featured in my book, A Homemade Year; the blessings of cooking, crafting and coming together, which will be released this spring. You can pre-order it now, online, through most booksellers. Visit my The Book page for more info.  )

** Click on images above to find sources

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

raining on our parade

Okay there was no parade. But there was a whole lot of snuggling. Which is almost as much fun if you are Miles Greer.

Tonight Wylie and Nathan had to run an errand so that left Miles and I alone for a bit.
As we hunkered down for some supremely great snuggles this is what he said:

Momma, I like it that Daddoe and Wylie are gone. Do you know why? Because now they won't rain on our parade.

(He thinks he is clever but I am on to him. What he really means is "now I have you all to myself" -cue evil genius laugh track-  because he is the baby. And in my experiance that is always what the baby wants.)

Of course then the tornado sirens went off and we had to go hide in the hallway for a bit. 
To which he said 

Now it really IS raining on my parade!

Oh kid. You slay me. Truly.

Monday, January 28, 2013

make-do {and make lovely} monday - almost and stuff

I am feeling a bit all over the map today so this post will be slightly all over the map as well.

First, thank you so much for all your sweet words about Potter. We miss the little guy and we really appreciate all your kindness.

In happier news. I am beginning to make out the faint outline of the finish line on our mini-kitchen make-over. 
The bottom cabinets are painted.
The door pulls have been switched.
The curtains changed and lowered.
I figured out where to put all the small appliances.
I found a vintage oil cloth in pink gingham to put on the table.

Still to do:
Make a bunting for top half of window
Move in chest of drawers and hang wall shelving (hoping for something like this?)
Figure out what I want to hang on the wall (leave the chalkboard? purchase something amazing? make something?)
Paint and put in drawer pulls.
And that is just what I can remember needs to be done. I am probably forgetting something.
Already the room is feeling so different. Especially when the sun is shining and all the colors just bounce around.

I promise to show it all soon. 

In other news we splurged and got a new washing machine. It is the first brand new one we have had in 15 years of marraige. It is so fancy it sings a song when it is done washing. Sometimes we just all stare at it, as if it is an alien space ship. It took us a month to decide what kind to buy (new, used, front loader, top loader etc.) Have I mentioned that Sweet Man's word for this year is Intentional? Yup. 
(BTW the bowls have nothing to do with the washing machine, I just love this picture of them.)

Okay, one more random bit.  Can I tell you how much I dislike Mark (or is it Marc?) on Parenthood? And how I like Sarah less and less the more wishy-washy she is?  On the flip side I love the way Julia and Joel communicate-the good and the bad. They are my favs for sure. 

I tried to warn you that I would be all over the map today. Thanks for hanging in there.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

saying goodbye to Potter Mittens Greer

Today our sweet Hedgehog, Potter Mittens, passed on.
His death was a complete surprise to all of us.
Just yesterday he had been burrowing and eating and doing his hedgehog thing.
We are not sure what caused his death. Was he sick and we didn't notice? Was it a sudden heartattack? Could we have prevented it? We have no idea. Hedgehogs don't have a particularly long lifespan (3-5 years,) but it doesn't make his leaving us any easier.

Despite our sadness, this is one of those moments when I am a really grateful that I have the blog. Whenever we are especially lonesome for him, we will be able to go back and read post about him and even watch the Urban Farm video anytime we want.  

I hope we will always the lesson that Potter taught us - that even the most prickly things often have softest underbellies, you just have to take the time to gain their trust in order to discover them.

Potter Mittens Greer
He was loved.
He was ours.
Will we miss him always.

sunday's challenge - rest is not idleness

"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky is by no means a waste of time." -John Lubbock

Friday, January 25, 2013

reading here and there

Today I thought I would share a bit about what I am reading here and there on the interwebs.
I know lots of people do this regularly, and it looks like fun, so I thought I would give it a try.

The Scandal of the Evangelical Heart by Rachel Held Evans (pretty sure this will be on everyones list this week)

Salon's Guide to Writing Memoir (um, why didn't they publish this before I wrote A Homemade Year? )

Born by Flowerpatch Farmgirl (my heartbreaks and soars in tandem)

Hollywood Housewife's tweets about AltSummit (some good advice being handed out)

Anti-Frantic by Shauna Niequist 

When Marian Sang by Melissa Bacon

This week I also read about how to set my comments where I can reply to them! Whoo hoo! Now we can actually chat a bit. This makes me so happy. So let's get started. Tell me, what are you reading and loving on the interwebs?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

love and light

Somewhere along the way we got Christmas put up in the attic.
And we found Candlemas and Valentines Day along the way.
Over the past week or so I have taken the the time to sprinkle bits of it here and there.

My friend Amy bought me this collage awhile back, maybe for Christmas or my birthday last year? I know it's awful that I don't remember, but honestly 2011 and 2012 are a bit of a fog in places.
Anyway, I love it. It came from Target, but most of the images where originally from Etsy. I think I had favorited them all.

I know it wasn't meant as a Valentines decoration specifically, but to me it is.
The colors, the sentiments, it all seems perfect for the months of January and Febuary.
The red warms everything up, the blues are like sky on a shockingly cold day.

I know that not everyone loves winter and how early the sun sets, or how chilly the tempatures get.
But I love it. Not indefinately, but for a couple of months that we experiance it in my small part of the world
I love the grayness of the evening light, the soft glow from lamps and candles in the evening, the desire to make comfort food,  and the way I feel snuggled under half a dozen blankets.

Of all the days of note that come after Christmas, in the months of January and Febuary,  Candlemas and   Valentines Day are my favorites.
Days that celebrate love and light in the midst of the darkest and coldest months are warmest and  most comforting to me. I like that they call me out of myself and remind me gently to share their gifts of light and love, quietly and slowly, and with much intention.

As always, in order to truly graft these things into my own heart so that they become second nature, I must begin my practice around my own little hearth, with those who depend on me and whom I depend on. Sharing blankets, nestling deep into the couch, reading or talking or watching. Making extra cups of hot chocolate on coldest days, hiding treats where they will be easily discovered, putting down my to-list to listen and hear. 
This is where love and light must begin in order that it may be reflected out into the cold, gray, winter days as a beacon of warmth and hope.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

insta-weeked recap, a wordless (almost) wednesday post

 Jello Cake

Come-hither Jesus

 Coffee. Yum.

 Bread and wine.

Family dinner.

My Maw. 

It was a wonderful weekend.

Monday, January 21, 2013

sunday's challenge (a day late) -braving beloved community

“The end of violence or the aftermath of violence is bitterness. The aftermath of nonviolence is reconciliation and the creation of a beloved community. A boycott is never an end within itself. It is merely a means to awaken a sense of shame within the oppressor but the end is reconciliation, the end is redemption.

Friday, January 18, 2013

time out

I am taking a time-out. You probably already noticed. Or maybe you have been taking a time-out too and not even given me a thought. Which is perfectly as it should be.

Last weekend I bought one of those knock-off spinning face cleaning brushes at the CVS in Memphis. 
I love it. I am addicted. I actually wash my face at night.
No more crazy dead-skin red splotches on my face.
This morning someone said I looked rested. Trust me. I was not rested.

A friend told me recently that the body's immune system does it's best work while we are sleeping.
I knew this experientially to be true (I always need a lot of sleep to heal and to progress in labor, )  but I didn't know it was a medical fact.

Today it occurred to me that maybe the soul needs the same sort of rest to heal and recover.  The same sort of quiet and stillness; a hibernation. 

So I just wanted to say hello, tell you to go buy a spinning face thingy if you have red splotches, and let you know that I will be back. I am just doing a little winter hibernating. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

marfa is my favorite

My mother brought this book home when I was 10.  And it changed my life. Only I didn't know it quite yet. The only things I knew at age ten was that Amy Grant was the best singer ever, that Mary Lou Retton actually made me want to do something athletic, and that my husband (someday) would look and talk just like Remington Steel. And that I loved to sit on the floor and read Entertaining for hours. 

I have been a Martha fan ever since. And I am proud to say, that I have never left her side. I stuck with her through PBS,  prison, Sears and KMart. I have followed her to Hallmark and Lowes and Macys and back to PBS. I have not always loved every idea or decision, I will be the first to say ok, now Martha, that is a bit much. But I say it with affection.
I love her laughter, I love her spunk, her grit, her fiestiness.  I find her love for her pets and her mother and  her daughter and her grandchildren endearing. I love that her barn smells like lemons (according to Brent.)  I love her sense of vision and thuroughness.  I love that her brand is consistant. I love that she is smart and beautiful and fierce. I don't think anyone messes with Martha except maybe Alexis. But I also think that underneath she is loyal, warm and very funny. Maybe it's not true, but I think it's true. I just do. Maybe it's because I have a soft spot for prickly people. And I like strong personalities. You always know where you stand with fiesty people, and most fiesty people I know tend to have a very soft underbelly. So I tend to think Martha does too.

Last weekend,while Kim and I were in Memphis, we went to Macy's where I petted all the pretty Martha items in the kitchen section, and made a mental wish list.  And while there, looking longingly at a multi-colored stack of bowls, I realized that perhaps I should have included Martha in the list of people I thank in the back of A Homemade Year. After all without Martha's influence I may never have found myself on this path. Sometimes, when people ask me what my book is about, I jokingly say that it is a bit like Martha Stewart and Anne Lamott were thrown together into a cocktail mixer together and given a good shake. I say it jokingly because I am no Anne Lamott or Martha Stewart (for one, I don't curse nearly enough and secondly, I still cannot fold a fitted sheet.)
 Because the truth is, both of them changed my life, in equal measure, in their own ways, at their own time.
But Martha was first, and she has been with me through childhood. And it is because of her, in large part, that this book was even a dream in the first place.

So Martha, Thank you. Thank you for the ideas, for the gumption and most of all for being you. Right from the start.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

homemade creme fraiche and other stuff

I was fooled there for a minute.
I forgot it was winter. 
I was lured in by two good feet, a blur of a weekend filled with exciting meetings and new acquaintances. By the unseasonably warm weather in a city not my own.

So I sped up. I made list. I took down Christmas decorations. I made plans with friends. I started thinking about things due in April.

And then I crawled into bed. Patting myself on the back for not doing "too much." For going to bed with  the Christmas bins filled, but unpacked luggage and baskets of clean laundry still sitting on the floor. 
I turned on the TV, grabbed my stack of books, and flung open the laptop and set to doing Something Important.  Whatever it was. 
And then I realized what I was doing. 
I was multi-tasking. When I should be resting. And relaxing. And suddenly I realized how fast I had tried to go fast again.  And how much I didn't like it.
I missed my Slow ways.
So I closed my lap top and watched Project Runway All Stars only. No texting, no blogging, no reading. Just watching.
And then I went to sleep. Before 10PM.

Today there was a blast of bad ice and sleet and school let out early.
At first I thought I would come home and clean and organize my studio now that it is all freshly painted.
Or finish with the Christmas decorations.
But instead I ate leftovers for lunch and then took a 2 hour nap.
Hmmm. Maybe Memphis wore me out more than I realized. In a good way. Trust me. I think I was napping off the excitement alone today.


When I got up I made coffee and some Banana Bread Pie. Because we had some very overly ripe banana's that I didn't want to go to waste. And I wanted pie.
Then I sat on the couch and got caught up on my DVR with my laptop wide open.
Because sometimes multi-tasking is exhausting at all. And sometimes it isn't. Especially when I am going about slowly. Watch a little. Surf a little. Type a little. Watch some more. Ya know. A nice steady pace.
I feeling so feisty I may just put away all my laundry, slowly, after dinner.
Maybe. I reserve the right to change my mind.

Tomorrow we have a late start time.
That means a little more time to go slow.
And pie for breakfast.

Banana Bread Pie (JollyGoode Style)
3 very ripe bananas
3/4 cup biscuit mix (like Bisquick)
3 large eggs
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1/4 Cup Milk
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla

Place bananas in a large mixing bowl and mash with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until well blended. Pour the mixture into 2 greased 9 in pie pans. Sprinkle a 1/4 cup of chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts) and bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes. The pie should be caramelized on the edges but still a little soft and custard-y in the center.

Whipped Creme Fraiche

(I found the guide for my recipe here, this is my version)

2 cups of Heavy Whipping Cream
4 Tbsp Buttermilk
Pour the heavy cream in a glass jar with a lid (like a mason jar) and add in the Buttermilk. Screw on the lid tight and shake well.
Unscrew the lid and leave on top of jar loosely .
Let mixture sit out on the counter for overnight. 
Stir, and place in fridge till you are ready to whip.
When ready to whip, pour mixture into cold mixture bowl and add 1 tbsp of sugar.
(You can also add flavoring like vanilla or fresh fruit, I have added raspberries before.)
Whip all together until peaks begin to form and it reaches desired consistency (I like mine more on the thick side.)

This mixture will keep for up to 10 days and you can pull it out and use it like cool whip during that time.

(If you do not want to use this as a whipped topping, leave the original mixture on the counter, in the jar for up to 24 hours. This will create a sour cream-like substance that you can use on top and in savory dishes. It also will not curdle when heated. Keep in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.)

Monday, January 14, 2013

blessings from the weekend

I spent the past weekend at the Emergence Christianity conference in Memphis. The entire weekend was amazing for so many different reasons. These are just a few of the blessings  I came home with.


At God's creation and Creation's creation. Art and music and ideas and architecture. At getting to be a part of something new and meaningful and diverse. That living in the questions can be so much more assuring than one would think.



Of deep gratitude. Of thankfulness for all the ways our stories intersect. Of humility that I get to share my story through the book. Of joy that I had two good feet (albeit slow) to walk on.


Over broken bread, and pie and spilled wine and lattes.
Where I met amazing people. Where we sat and talked, and laughed and shared stories, and found community. Where I was encouraged by a wise and jubilant friend and mentor. 


Long soaks in deep tubs. Languid meals, courses brought out slowly. Listening. Sitting. Watching. Falling asleep to the sound of a train in the distance. 


There are many stories. There are many needs. They journey is the same and it is different. It is okay to have a plan. It is okay to chunk it out the window. It is okay to stop and get your bearings from time to time. To find the one still point. 

These are just a few of the blessings from my weekend away.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

sunday's challenge - embrace

Mystery is where we worship best.
-Phyllis Tickle

Friday, January 11, 2013

away with me

I am away on a little trip.
Not far, but far enough.
I am staying in a small artsy house in a small artsy neighborhood in a big city.
The house reminds me so much of my years in Juneau. Or the movie Singles.
If Sweet Man was here he would never leave the house for all the maps and guitars hanging on the walls. 
I will have to take pictures of them all for him to study once I get home.
Maybe we will come back here together some day.
The house is close to the airport and the train station. Sounds of voyages echoing all around.
While I am away I will be doing many things and meeting many people. 
Soaking in ideas, textures, voices. Reading. Spending large amounts of time in bookstores. Drinking large quanities of coffee. Sharing bits of myself with strangers who will become friends. 
Listening. Lots of listening.

Also I am going to get to go to Urban Outfitters. For the first time. 
(Insert happy dance here.) 
Just keeping it real. 

In case I don't make it back here for a few days, I hope you have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

i have to get this off my chest

I have some things to say and I brought my soap box.
My apologies, but I have to get these things off my chest.

You don't have to be awesome everyday.

 (some days you just have to Be. That's all.  And then you can put that day to bed. And it's ok. Really. Who can stand being awesome everyday anyway? Doesn't it make you tired? It makes me tired just thinking of it. Ordinary, average, boring. They have their perks and their place. I promise.)

Ever moment does not have to be teachable.

(I stole this  Anna Quindelin and she is right. Can you imagine if your boss followed you around all day trying to make every moment Wonderful! Educational! Instructive! Showing you how to do everything Better! Faster! More like her!  Sometimes you just want to put your head down, get your job done and then be left to daydream. To play. To take the short cut and relax. Kids are the same way. Micro-managing is not helpful. Downtime is necessary for growth. Sometimes its ok to just stay home. )

8 year olds can load and unload the dishwasher.

(But to be clear, having ONLY downtime is bad. It leads to slothfulness. Children need to do stuff besides school and playing.   And not just stuff that serves them. Stuff that helps out everyone. They need to do things they hate.  Like unloading the dishwasher. Everyday. Even on weekends. Cause there are still dirty dishes. And that is how life works. And it won't kill them. Even if they swear it will. )

Cereal can be a perfectly good option for dinner. 

(I just learned this one thanks to the broken foot. It is a miraculous thing. Such freedom. Remember that downtime that we all need?  Yep. Sometimes the price is cereal for dinner. )

There are different seasons in life. For instance, seasons of Rest.

(And you do not have to justify the season you are in to anyone. Except maybe your spouse or your best friend . And justify isn't the right word.  Maybe the right word is Admit or Identify. You have to name it in order to move forward. And hopefully the two of you have an All for One and One for All thing happening, so it is ok if the particular season you admit you are in is a little wonky. A little hard to explain at polite parties. Your spouse or your best friend probably already knew this was headed here. Probably before you did. Which is why you chose them to begin with.)

So that is all. My little soap box speech for 2013.
Thank you for indulging me.

PS- I love you just as you. Even if you are, in fact, awesome everyday, naturally. Which you probably are. And, let me just say, it couldn't have happened to a nicer person.

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