I simply can not get over how perfect this hibiscus flower is!
The morning after the Type-A Mom conference, I was standing in line for a made to order omelet. Anissa Mayhew was ahead of me in that same line. She bantered a bit with the omelet chef and those of us in line waiting for omelets and Belgian waffles. But mostly, she watched the chef with rapt attention as he created her omelet. And when he slid it onto the plate and handed her the steaming hot, perfectly cooked, delicious looking omelet, she looked at him with complete adoration and said, “Will you marry me?” The chef was startled. I have a feeling he’d never been propositioned like that before. He kind of blushed and stammered, “I’m already married.” I was already giggling behind Anissa and blurted out, “Well so is she!” Anissa just sighed, shrugged her shoulders and headed back to her table leaving the omelet chef a little flustered and leaving me with a very funny memory.
That is classic Anissa.
In the blogging community, we all have our “rock stars” that we look up to, admire, fawn over, drool over, and generally get a bit twitterpated by when that person notices us or speaks to us at a conference or responds to something we said on Twitter. In my own blogging/social media universe, one of those rocks stars is Anissa Mayhew.
Right now, Anissa is an ICU in a hospital in the Atlanta area after having suffered a massive stroke Tuesday afternoon. We are all in shock. We are praying. We are determined to be hopeful. We don’t want to lose our rock star, friend, sister, wife, mother.
Get better Anissa. There are more omelets to enjoy and more unsuspecting chefs to proposition. You’re not done bringing laughter and mirth into people’s lives. Your family is counting on it. And so are we.
Tonight I spoke at our Wednesday evening Vespers service. I thought I’d share what I had to say here. A little background: from September through now we’ve been looking at the Apostle’s Creed and thinking about our own beliefs and doubts how they mesh or maybe don’t mesh with the statements made in the creed. I told Scott, the Vespers coordinator, that I’d like to speak one of the nights. And I thought I knew what I was going to say but in the end, this all came together for me this morning.
I don’t know what I believe.
At least, that’s how I often feel. Whether it’s doubt or the rather exhausting way my brain must look at everything from every side but rarely come to a succinct conclusion; I feel as though I either believe in everything or nothing at all.
The beliefs I held twenty years ago are vastly different from the beliefs I held ten years ago which are quite different from the beliefs I hold today. On the one hand, I know that is to be expected as I age and, hopefully, mature. On the other hand, my propensity to seemingly be swayed either by time and experience or by a well thought out argument troubles me. Am I getting wiser or just being wishy washy?
As I’ve been contemplating what I was going to say here tonight, I came to realize the difference between core beliefs, the foundational ones that will never change, and transient beliefs that center around personal preferences or schools of thought or what’s popular at any given moment. It’s the transient beliefs that have been changing as I get older and learn more. They may define seasons of my life but they do not define who I am.
Before a few months ago, I had never given much thought to the creed that we’ve been focusing on for the past several weeks. Creed was an academic word to me, a concept, something else other religions focused on. But as we read those words each week and contemplated each part of it, I began to see that that is where my core belief lies. I believe those statements we read each and every week. And I always have. And I always will.
I’m not sure what I believe when it comes to many of the hot button issues our churches face. I’m not sure what I believe in terms of how we read the Bible or how exactly prayer works or where we came from.
But I do believe in God. I do believe in Jesus. I do believe in the Holy Spirit. This will not change. It can’t change, because it is as much a part of me as this mortal shell I dwell in.
That is what I believe in.
November is a bit of a place holder between October’s Halloween and December’s Christmas. While November does hold the much anticipated and planned for Thanksgiving, the retailers (except possibly for the grocery stores) seemingly skip over it. And each year it seems that Christmas starts to edge out even Halloween bit by bit.
Over at Blissfully Domestic, we’re trying to savor this autumnal season just a bit longer before our hearts, minds and wallets turn towards Christmas. We’re hosting our first annual Fall Tour of Homes. If you’ve written a post about preparing your home for autumn or Thanksgiving or if you have a photo of a favorite wreath, tablescape, flower arrangement, or even your kid’s school craft projects; come on over and submit your link or photo. One lucky, fall loving person will get a nice prize (that could help out with that other upcoming holiday!)
I start decorating in September for autumn. A few weeks later, I add my Halloween items. After Halloween, those come down and the Thanksgiving items are set out. My favorite Thanksgiving decoration is my Pilgrim Family salt & pepper shakers from Publix. I’m especially fond of them because it’s a husband & wife and two kids, a girl & boy, just like us.
Also, I’m still in “mental snapshots” mode. Even though the fall colors have peaked, and many of the trees have lost most, if not all of their leaves; there is still a lot of gorgeous scenery to behold. I took these pictures last week at a friend’s house. They have the most gorgeous Maple tree in their front yard.
I took this picture while lying down underneath the tree and looking up into it. It is, to date, my most favorite picture I’ve taken.
My second foray into the world of winter squashes was making Butternut Squash Soup. I’ve never had Butternut Squash Soup before but after the yumminess of the lasagna, I was eager to try another recipe. I searched around the Internet until I came across this recipe on FoodNetwork.com by Alton Brown (love me some Alton Brown!) It looked really simple and very tasty! And sure enough, it was!
Ingredients I used:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel the squash, cut it in half, seed it (save the seeds!) and then cut it into approximately 2-inch chunks. Brush melted butter on the chunks, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes until fork tender and slightly browned.
Add the squash to a large pot with the stock and the ginger. Bring to a simmer and puree using a stick blender. (I don’t have a stick/immersion blender, so I had to transfer my squash mixture to a regular blender for this step. It was worth the extra effort and clean-up because you get a really smooth and creamy consistency by blending it.)
Stir in the heavy cream and return to a low simmer. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
While the soup is in it’s final simmer, rinse the saved seeds (you saved the seeds, right??), toss them with some olive oil, spread on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast on 350 until slightly browned. After pouring the soup into bowls, sprinkle some seeds on top. The combination of the sweet soup and the salty seeds is…wait for it…tonguegasmic!
I served this soup with a Harvest Salad (lettuce from our CSA, apples [they were honeycrisps from Trader Joes, yum!], craisins, walnuts, blue cheese crumbles and a white vinaigrette dressing.)
I really liked the soup. DB said is was good, JBelle liked it, GMan said he liked it at first, then changed his mind (typical).
Nothing more fun than a pile of leaves!
With all the horrors that surround us on a daily basis, the ones that leave us shaking our heads, shaking our fists, shaking in our boots, it’s nice to find out that kindness, compassion, generosity and chivalry still exist amid the ugliness.
Sometimes it’s the most simple of gestures that reminds us of this. Someone holding open a door for you when your hands are full or even when they’re not full. And someone coming to your aid when stranded with a flat tire definitely reminds you that!
This morning, as I drove GMan to school, one of my tires blew. And what could have been a stressful, nerve-wracking experience, turned out to be the most pleasant flat tire experiences I’ve ever had. There are a lot of factors that contributed to that, the nice weather, the fact that it occurred in an out of the way place where I wouldn’t impeded traffic or be in any sort of danger, and Bobby.
Bobby was the State of Tennessee employee who just happened to be in the right place at the right time. He came upon me just as I had pulled over and was looking at the damage. He directed me to a more level area in the parking lot, he got his jack and he proceeded to change my tire. I could have, possibly, done it myself had I needed to. And if I had been unable, I could have called my father-in-law or brother-in-law. (DB was, at that point, out of town.) And if I had managed it or if I had had to wait for someone, GMan would have been late to school and I would have been rather flustered.
But none of those things happened because of Bobby. We chatted, he talked to GMan, he got the “donut” put on and sent us on our merry way. GMan was only about 10 minutes late to school and even though I’m sitting in a Midas shop waiting for a couple of new tires instead of at home doing laundry and other household chores (like I had planned), I am grateful for this experience.
Grateful to have something to smile about. Grateful to be reminded that we can still have faith in humanity even when the world around us seemingly wants us to believe otherwise.
A few weeks ago on The Office, Pam & Jim were on their way to get married and they had this exchange where they talked about taking mental snapshots of the whole wedding experience. I feel like I’ve been doing that for a couple of weeks now as Nashville has been in the throws of peak Autumn color and perfect fall weather (well…once the rain stopped that is.)
The photographer in me wanted to capture everything with my camera. There were many, many times that I would be out and about and kick myself for not having my camera with me. There were a couple of times that I was able to go back to a spot and take a picture of a tree I’d seen. Yet even when I did take pictures, they never seemed to quite live up to what I had seen in living color.
Instead, I’ve tried to soak it all in and enjoy. My weekly routes take me through some really gorgeous parts of Nashville. It’s quite the miracle that I’ve not had an accident since I’ve spent way more time gawking at trees than watching the road. When I accompanied JBelle on her pumpkin farm field trip last week, the scenery along the way was breathtaking. I did have my camera then but most of the really good color I saw was along the interstate and it’s just not prudent to be stopping on the interstate to take pictures!
This Autumn has been an unusual one for us. It’s been uncharacteristically rainy and wet. The result has been vibrant fall color juxtaposed again lush green.
I do love this time of year!
I take the pictures, Picnik.com makes them better.
Staring at the blank, “new post” screen on WordPress trying to figure out what to write. I tried…really. The walls are high and suffocating today. And I am weary. Anybody want to march around me seven times?
The CSA adventures continue. Another completely new vegetable to me has been bok choy. I’ve heard of bok choy. I may have consumed bok choy at some point though I can’t be certain. I know I’ve never cooked with it before which means I didn’t really know what to do with it.
I sent up the Twitter signal (something along the lines of “what the heck do I do with this thing?”) and all the replies that came back were “stir fry”. OK, sounded simple enough.
Next step was Google. I searched bok choy recipes and perused several before settling on a combination of two recipes:
But before I could cook it, I needed to know how to prepare it. I went back to Google and found this video tutorial on YouTube:
Now that shows you want to do with the white, crunchy part but what about the green leafy part? Basically you just chop that part, as well, into bite sized pieces. And when cooking it, add the white part to the pan first because it takes longer to cook. You’ll just want the greens to wilt a bit.
Here’s what used & how I cooked it:
This was really delicious! I was quite pleased with how it turned out and I’m looking forward to making it again. DB gave it a hearty endorsement (he practically licked the plate) and the kids…looked at me like I had two heads. But that was about what I expected so no surprise there.
I pan fried some slices of polenta and poured some of the sauce from the stir fry over that as well. It was a filling, satisfying meal.
If you look at the recipe links you’ll see they call for sesame oil, which I didn’t have on hand, so I substituted the olive oil. One of them calls for oyster sauce (?). Didn’t have that either, so I omitted it. And I didn’t have cashews but I did have peanuts so that’s what I used there. Apparently, you can do that kind of thing with bok choy.
Updated – Take a look at what Tracy did with this recipe. Yum!