Saturday, May 30, 2009


I am very much enjoying this webpage and especially this blog by the creator of those things. You know how there are certain things you can buy - or even just look at - and you feel like you're cooler already?

Great taste and a sense of humor.
She also created these.

extremely indirectly via priscilla

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Rachelle, in her excellent blog Magpie Girl, writes about fascinating things - ex-patriot life, parenthood, spiritual life after organized religion, art, ritual, and finding and cultivating life with your tribe.

Last Thursday, she posted her list of 8 Self-Care Essentials: "It’s time to think about what you need to stay healthy and sane on a day-to-day basis. "

Here's mine.
You've probably discerned these for yourself, if you check in here from time to time.

1.Sleep. I am just – literally, in the past 2 weeks - learning the joy of sleep.

2. Chemicals. For the time being, at least, I need to ingest a few chemicals, to balance out the ones that my brain makes too much of, or absorbs too little of, or...something. I’m not totally clear on the process. Here’s what I know: my brain was trying to kill me. Now it’s not. To hell with stigma. Bring on the pills.

3.A face-to-face conversation with my husband. About something other than laundry and schedules.

4.Reading time. A magazine, a library book, the Style or Food section, SOMETHING that’s not an email.

5.Food which is actual food. Like sleep, I neglected/ignored/did not believe this was necessary for about 45 of my 47 years.

6.Time to cook a meal and wash up/get things back in order.

7.A bit of news – real (NPR) or fake (Jon or Stephen, although this may threaten #1.)

8.Singing with my kid. And occasionally, without him.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Everything that is wrong with the world

Here's a post from the live chat on the Worship Facilities Conference and Expo, held last week in Long Beach CA:

szee: the conference was so great. church can
and should be as amazing as
concerts or broadway!
lets do it!


Monday, May 18, 2009

Two Recipe Links... (with a quick edit.)

..from two of my favorite people.

This article in the NYTimes (Sunday magazine section, several weeks ago) included a recipe for pizza crust by my favorite food writer, Jeffery Steingarten. (By the way -- that picture of him? In the last link, the author page? PRAY TO GOD that anyone ever takes a picture of you that is that flattering. Use it until you die. Require that a paper use it in your obituary. JS is a wonderful writer, a clear thinker, a man of unbounded enthusiasm, and very smart. But he does not look like that.)

EDITED TO ADD: This pizza crust is decidedly superior to my earlier pizza crust. If I invite you over for pizza, you do not need to be afraid!

Pizza quality will improve even more if I can find our pizza stone! I forgot that we even had one!

PS - I am grateful for a family who want to eat my experiments, no matter how questionable they look.

Anyway, I made pizza dough today. I often make pizza dough on Mondays, and it never quite pleases me (though I seem unashamed to serve it to people both inside and outside my family) so I am trying the linked recipe to see how that goes. We'll bake, eat and critique tomorrow.


My dear friend Beth is writing for Suite 101 - her first post, a recipe, appeared today. I have never made this - in fact, I've never even tasted it! But I am going to try it - it's made from pantry stuff I have around (except for the ground beef), and the kid likes beans.

Speaking of beef, I got some bargains while grocery shopping today, and now I have to figure out what to do with a pork "filet". (It's long and skinny. It's like a pork log. I think I might have called this a tenderloin, were I doing the labeling. But perhaps that's not technically correct.) Off to google "pork" (oh good Lord.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life..and see if I could not learn what it had to teac

.and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
Henry David Thoreau, Walden (1854)

I am going into the woods to...what? Talk about ministry? Come back out with a plan for 2010? Knit? Work our asses off for 3 days and come back exhausted, yet strangely renewed?

We're retreating, and will have all the comforts of home, if your home held 10 adults and had toilets and showers and one telephone on the wall of the coat closet.

I am bringing beer.

One of my comforts, when things in life are tough (at the moment, they aren't, particularly) is that there seems to be little danger that I will come to the end of my life and discover that I have not lived. That I just visited this planet.

More and more I think this is the question I was put on earth to keep asking:

"Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?"

Jonny Baker had me thinking about that today. He proposes that planning worship - curating worship - is nothing less than creating a world, and we should consider what kind of world we would create.

I think I would most want to create a world where people have time and space and brain power to do THINGS THEY ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT. Work that is diverting and also significant. Real conversations, not just pleasantries. Making things. Seeing things. Laughing. Not so much driving (except that even driving is a great backdrop for some of the most real conversations. Yesterday, as we were finishing up our errands, Ian said to me "Let's stay. Let's just stay in the car."

"Just drive around?" I asked.

"Yes," he said. "Just stay in the car and drive some more. Just sit in the car."

And I thought, kid, I have spent so many hundreds of hours just staying in cars, doing what we're doing - talking, listening to music, looking out the window - that I know just what you mean. "I'd like that," I said.)

I would like to create a world where no one has to wonder if they are really alive.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Fail or No Fail - Dinner edition

Improvised chicken soup = NO FAIL

delicious, filling, used up leftovers and produce odds and ends. I may make soup every Friday.

Improvised whole wheat cheddar biscuits = FAIL

Massively salty. Otherwise, not that bad. Plus we get to use these ridiculous little butter knives.

How I made the soup:

Warm a splash of olive oil in a dutch over (high heat.)

Slice 2 small onions and chop 5 stalks of celery, and drop into pan. Salt and pepper them generously. Stir occasionally.

Cut 3 carrots (or like 10 baby carrots) into thick slices and drop into pan.

If the pan seems too dry and the onions are sticking, add a splash of some liquid (I used broth, water or wine would be fine.)

Add the shredded meat from about half a cooked chicken. Stir. (Add any leftover cooked veggies you would like to see out of the fridge – I had a braised leek, which added a lot of flavor, and some sliced of potato.)

Sprinkle in a little (probably less than a teaspoon) McCormick’s Montreal Chicken Grilling spice. (YES it has sulfites, don’t judge me.)

Add 32 oz of chicken broth (that’s a box of Swanson’s Natural Goodness.)

Add fresh green beans (2 cups?) Lower the heat to medium.

Add a few handfuls of pea pods (what are these things called, anyway? I love saying pea pods, for some reason.)

Simmer until the beans are as tender as you like them.

This soup is flavorful (from the onions, which pretty much carmelize) spicy (from the spice mixture, which is awesome, chemicals and all) and has lots of texture and interest from the zillion servings of vegetables. It’s forgiving, cook-time-wise, so you can prep the produce and chicken as you go, as opposed to having to have all the beans strung and the chicken shredded before you turn on the burner. This allows you to improvise throughout, and also helps with the cleanup, eliminating all those annoying little bowls of mise en place.)

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

More totally awesome cooking tales: Eric's birthday picnic

The courses, and how I messed them up:

Fresh Pea Salad

(from Heidi Swanson's wonderful 101 Cookbooks which is the primary reason I am slightly less fat than I used to be. Still just as Funky, though.)
How to mess it up: Instead of a seeded serrano chili in the dressing, use a habenero.

A giant pressed sandwich.
I did not mess this up. It was really good.

Take one baugette. Slice it as if it is the world's largest hot dog bun. Use your fingers to pull out the places where the fresh bread has wadded up.

Assemble a sandwich using, in any order:
roasted red peppers (dry them off just a little)
fresh mozzerella (in slices or little blobs, drained)
basil leaves
butter lettuce
tiny little slivers of cured meat (in this case, Lebanon Bologne)
a little smoked provolone (because they had it at the farmer's market)
I might had had a tomato, too, although who buys tomatoes in April?

drizzle with a tiny thread of olive oil. Squish together and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and find a way to fit it into the fridge.

Before the picnic, wrap it in foil and find a way to fit it in the cooler.

My way involved bending it in the middle.

Serve at the picnic with salt, pepper, and the insanely spicy salad dressing that nearly killed you when you tried it on the pea salad. It goes really, really well with the sandwich.

Utz Kettle Cooked Potato Chips.
These cannot be messed up, as they are the most delicious chip on earth. If we're going to poison ourselves with junk food, by God, it had better be worth it.

Cardamom Iced Tea with honey in sports bottles. I did not mess this up either.

And the birthday cake: Pound Cake with Strawberries and Whipped cream.

Wash, de-leaf and slice a box of strawberries. Put them in a tupperware container with a splash of balsamic vinegar and about a quarter-cup of sugar. Keep in fridge for the day, shaking occasionally.

Make a sour cream poundcake.

Cream together 1 cup butter and 2 cups sugar. Add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, a 7 oz container of plain yogurt (we had Fage, yippee) and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.

Mix that.

Okay, here's your chance to mess it up: add one egg and one cup of flour and mix completely. Do this twice more, until you have added 3 eggs and 3 c. flour.

There, you just messed it up. The recipe actually calls for TWO eggs at a time. For a total of SIX eggs.

The recipe also says to "pour" the "batter" into a greased and floured loaf pan. Dude, even when you use 6 eggs - I'm guessing this would be true if you used a dozen - this is by no stretch of the imagination "batter" and it will never, ever pour. It's okay. Really. Transfer with a spatula and a huge spoon.

Also, this cake is too big for my largest loaf pan. It overflowed, even without the 3 more eggs. You could easily make 2 decent-sized pound cakes from this recipe.

Bake at 325 for about 75 minutes.

This is delicious. The number of eggs does not matter at all. Sure, it's 'substantial', but that makes it excellent for absorbing the strawberry juice and contrasting with the whipped cream.

Also on this picnic, try to fly kites, regardless of the wind situation.

Happy Birthday.

I burned the no-bake cookies.

Here's the recipe from yesterday. You've had these. I'm pretty sure.

Take a large saucepan. Put in 1/4 cup milk, 1 cup sugar, 1 and a half Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa, 2 Tablespoons peanut butter (supercrunchy if you have it) and a half a stick of butter.

It works better if the butter isn't frozen.*

Stir that mess together and place over medium heat. Bring to a boil.

Boil for 90 seconds without stirring.

Remove from heat. Stir in 1 and a half cups rolled oats (old-fashioned oatmeal, your box may say. The stuff you use for cookies. The stuff you cook on the stove top for 5 minutes. That oatmeal.) and a swig of vanilla extract.

Drop by spoonfuls (or whatever sort of lumpy shape you like) onto a piece of foil. (I didn't use a cookie sheet, just laid the foil on the counter.)

Don't eat these until they cool.


The next time I make these, I will add some salt, since, in my opinion, all cookies need salt. And use even chunkier peanut butter, because the peanut pieces are nice.

* Frozen butter does not encourage even heating of all the ingredients in the fudgey stage. If you're not careful, you could even burn some of it.

And then all your Facebook friends will say you are awesome.

Monday, May 04, 2009

more fascinating output at my Flickr page

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Sheeeeeps. We haz em.

greetings from the biggest fiber event in the world.

Ian rocked it and then some.

I did not buy one gram of yarn.

I did buy myself one present = a needle gauge pendant - this form, but made of teal aluminum, not sterling like this photo. I very rarely buy knitting tools. I really have much more stuff than I need already. (And I'm not really the pewter sheep brooch type, though there were some pretty nice ones at the fest.) But I fell for this months ago when I saw it in a magazine, and when I saw one in person, I splurged.

Come on. I'm on a yarn diet, not a gauge diet. Have a heart.

Friday, May 01, 2009

what we did today

baked some cakes (we're having a bake sale. The carrot cake should pay for at least one floor tile.) (Also made the nearly-flourless chocolate cake.

Ian helped.

He actually did.

my bangs have not fallen out.

This evening's suspense:

In 10 minutes, will I be saying,

"Dude! I totally rawk! Dig my edgy white highlights!"


"fuck. my bangs just fell out."