scenes from a weekend

Thursday (Yes, Thursday is the new Friday)
~ MM's eyes grow huge when he spies a surprise I'd gotten him earlier that day. It had been such a hard week. It felt so good to give hims something sweet.

~ The dark red liquid romance swirls in our wine glasses as we toast to the weekend. And the end of this week!.

~ The red hair and smiling eyes of my new friend-in-law as she sits amidst the bronze and orange sparkles of the diner booth. I eat a gorgeous gourmet meat loaf sandwich as she regales me with tales of past fun with her girlfriend group. I left lunch with a full tummy and some new laugh lines.

~ The sweetness of my dear friend holding hands with her beau as they share their love story with my hubby and I after dinner. He is a good man. Her heart is home. It is beautiful to see, and we can't wait for the rest of the story to unfold.

~ MM's eyes shine as we slowly fill his heart up with Art. He needs art like he needs air, and its been almost a year since we've visited a museum. His art-starved soul just drank it in big, slurpy gulps all day long. Love seeing my man energized and happy like that.

~ Our friends laughing over lunch as we chat about wine and Weird Al and how they came together in this big world. Good people. Good time to just talk and get to know them.

~ Our little niece's gasp of disbelief when she saw that her birthday gift from us was a trip to the same museum. She's an artist too, and we so look forward to sharing this place with her.

~ The whole family laugh and sing and joke their way through a three-person birthday celebration, complete with Bright Green Cake. Great fun.

~ MM's and his sword masters discuss an upcoming workshop and the rest of us enjoy the little blond baby heads and (mostly) toothless grins and slobber as we bounce sweet twin boys on our knees and chatter with another silly monkey.

~ Breathtaking, unexpected snow-blanketed forests. We'd intended an easy afternoon hike to some water falls, but were surprised instead by snow. Magical.

~ Sipping and snacking in comfy corner as we watch and discuss Star Wars and I knit away at dove grey scarves.

Peace. Rest. Full, nourished souls. Amen.


fake friday fave five - yo ho yo ho, a pirate's life for me

This was a rough week, friends. Rough. Wow. And I think weeks like this make it even more important to find things to be thankful for. To find the gifts. There were many gifts during this week of storm-tossed seas. Here are some highlights:

1 My husband - During this whole, stormy week he spoke gentle, soothing words and fervent prayers. He rubbed my tense, aching muscles. He sacrificed his own happiness for my well-being. And in the worst part of the storm he held me tight (so tight!), so I wouldn't get tossed overboard. Good man. ("Good pirate.") I am so thankful for his faithful, generous love.

2 Our community - Their prayers, encouragement, and reminders of gentleness and love were powerful on stormy days. So good to have people that have your back. Even if its just to keep bailing water so the ship doesn't sink. And better still, these folks sing sea shanties and tell jokes and bring light along with depth. Good mix. MM and I feel supported and cared for.

3 Jack in the Box $1 Chicken Sandwiches - We mostly eat at home these days (2001, Year of Health!), but a couple times this week, we were crunched for time, or had other priorities ("Douse the sails! Batten down the hatches!"), and just had no time to cook. MM has a fondness for these little sandwiches, mostly because they are exactly $1. Not 99 cents. $1. He just gets a kick out of that. As soon as they change the price, they will be dead to him. But for now, we enjoy their junk foody goodness.

4 Our neighborhood - On one of our Chicken Sandwich nights, we ate while taking a slow drive through our neighborhood, noting all the little local businesses. We want to start spending time and money in our little borough. We found several coffee shops, pizza joints, ice cream parlors, and do-it-yourself car washes. There's a noodle house we want to try. Some shops we want to go into. An art gallery or two. The community center has a little theater that always seems packed on performance nights. It was good to spend a lull in the storm, thinking about future fun. Ways to enjoy our park. Ways to connect to our neighbors. Support these little businesses.

5 Homemade Bread - I've been using Tonia's super easy recipe to make super tasty bread. Its quick and painless and sooooo yummy. Nom nom nom. Tonight I'm serving this wholesome bread with roast chicken, potatoes, and carrots and the first asparagus of the season. (It is good, in the winter, to live in Fake New Jersey instead of Actual New Jersey.) This sailor is happy to pull into a calm harbor to share comfort food, tasty beverages, and good conversation with loved ones.

Their ships were tossed to the heavens
and plunged again to the depths;
the sailors cringed in terror.
They reeled and staggered like drunkards
and were at their wits’ end.
“Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
He calmed the storm to a whisper
and stilled the waves.
What a blessing was that stillness
as he brought them safely into harbor!
Let them praise the Lord for his great love
and for the wonderful things he has done for them.
~ Ps 107:26-31

PS - MM's nickname for me is Captain Sassypants. He, of course, is First Mate. Arrrrr!



The inspiration for these posts came from the Simple Woman's Daybook. Just like the Friday Fave Five, I don't want to participate in the whole linky thing, but the meme is a good jumpstarter for posts.

For today I am...

Seeing ~ A deliciously foggy world with glimpses of gnarly, twisty gray branches and darker gray sky. Makes me feel like sipping tea and watching some kind of British period piece.

Hearing ~ A few brave birds, chirping away in the fog.

Wearing ~ Black turtleneck, purple long-sleeved T, jeans, black and purple wool socks, and a cream scarf.

Tasting ~ Nothing at the moment, but I'm about to go make that tea...

Planning ~ Not much. Keeping today and the rest of this week simple.

Working ~ Thanks to a solid 8 hours of sleep - HALLELUJAH! - I was up, bright-eyed, at 6 am and have all my chores done already. I'm going to start a batch of bread to rise while I answer email.

Creating ~ My hubby's website.

Learning ~ I'm sure I will learn more as I work on the site.

Reading ~ Still working my way through Anne of Green Gables, The Fellowship of the Ring, and Desire of the Everlasting Hills. I am a slow reader these days.

Pondering ~ Various things MM and I can do to reduce stress. We've been feeling pretty pummeled lately.

Remembering ~ That I have an appointment at 2:15 - better set an alarm before I forget again!

Thankful for ~ My MM, who loves me so well - steel cut oats with cinnamon and dried berries - regular massages that help my pain level - the fragrance of homemade bread - warm socks on a cold day - the smell of clean laundry...

i'll be getting this

Have followed her blog for years. Her voice reminds me to see eternity in little things, in ordinary moments.

So cool, after all these years to hear her actual voice. :)


imagine 50 cents' "in da club" playing in the background of this post

It's my birthday. (We gonna party, like its ya birthday... we gonna sip Bacardi, like its ya birthday...) Ok. That's enough of that. (NOTE: Folks with delicate sensitivities DO NOT Google that song. Just want to warn you.)

MM has been blessing my socks off today, celebrating my birthday. Kisses and snuggles and a bunch of big smilie, "I'm so glad you are alive! Happy Birthday!" declarations. At lunchtime, instead of Bacardi, he showed up with four dozen birthday roses. (!) Beautiful. The spray is 18 inches in diameter.

I am so thankful for this wonderful husband of mine. Oh, he does my heart good.

belated post - fake friday fave five - breaking bread!

So, I've written a few half-posts, and not actually posted them. Been busy livin, and not so much posting. Here's what I would have written for last Friday's Fake Friday Fave Five, or whatever the heck I call it.

1 coffee with my friend's lovely and classy mom - As a teenager, I was blessed with amazing friends, most of whom I'm still in touch with today. My amazing friends had great moms, but one in particular struck me as so classy. A picture of the sort of woman that I'd like to be someday. She's kind and fun and supportive and positive. She's beautiful and always dresses simply but with so much polish. She just looks and acts classy at all times. Very elegant. I've admired her my whole life. She's down visiting her daughter, and I got to take her to coffee one afternoon this week. She's in that phase of life where she's taking care of parents and children, and is handling the stress of it all with such grace and good humor. She shared a bit of her story, and gushed a lot over mine. This woman still inspires me, and my two hours with her was definitely a highlight.

2 dinner with good friends - I made a gazillion enchiladas (well, we call them gringoladas, b/c they are in no way "authentic") on Wednesday night and we spend a few hours with a sweet family. Dad and Mom and Little One told stories and jokes and made us laugh and just blessed our home with fun. These folks are writers and artists and foodies, and Good People. It was good to sit down to a bottle of wine and good conversation and Little One's antics.

3 lunch with my fabulous in-laws - I just hit the jackpot in the in-law department. I went over for lunch at 11, and came home at 5, stuffed full of a yummy salmon lunch and with cheeks that hurt from smiling so much. These folks have welcomed me with open arms and do so much to make sure I feel loved and special. It was a great day!

4 coffee with my bff - A whole morning of talktalkltalktalktalking. Awesome! We sat by the fire at Panera Bread and discussed all the important stuff like shoes, crass movies, marriage, church, career/life changes, and how her husbands homemade Double Chocolate Stout pairs really well with Oatmeal Scotchies. It was good for my soul. Very good. We got our next coffee date scheduled right then. Yay!

5 dinner with my husband's bff - MM's best man and his wife joined us for dinner on Friday. It was another evening of simple food, good wine, and fun conversation. These two were Rock Stars at our wedding - totally running the show with so much grace and good humor that for weeks afterward everyone kept asking us, "Who were those guys?" Did our hearts good to spend an evening with just the two of them, dreaming up a few adventures for this year (snowshoeing, camping, etc.)

A good week. I'm stuffed, both my tummy and my heart.


tuesdaybook - shepherd's pie

The inspiration for these posts came from the Simple Woman's Daybook. Just like the Friday Fave Five, I don't want to participate in the whole linky thing, but the meme is a good jumpstarter for posts.

For today I am...

Seeing ~ Through frosted windowpanes, the dark lacework of empty tree branches against a winter white sky.

Hearing ~ Soft sounds of The David Crowder Band streaming from the computer in the other room... neighborly leaf blowers... the whoosh of the heater kicking on.

Wearing ~ Brown turtleneck that MM calls my 70's Spacesuit; rose sweater; brown, cream, rose, and cranberry striped scarf; brown knee-high socks; and jeans.

Tasting ~ A second cup of tea and some spinache pie.

Planning ~ My afternoon projects: website design, enchillada design, and perhaps a craft or two.

Working ~ Well, I'm managing the dishes, laundry, trash, and recycling, but I just can't seem to get it together to do the floors. Tommorrow is D-day though, cuz we gots company comin.

Creating ~ Hopefully websites, enchilladas, and a wintry centerpiece/mobile type thing for our dining table.

Learning ~ Some new web design techniques. I'm also spending a lot of time on Simple Living and Homemaking and Organization blogs these days, seeking inspiration for New Years goals, etc. Fun stuff out there. Thinking about making my own hair/skin care products this year. :)

Reading ~ Well, I got derailed from one of my books by the Lord of the Rings. We watched the movies over Christmas, and that gave me a hankering to read the books again. Read the Hobbit, and just started Fellowship this week. My dreams have been an odd mix of adventures, orcs, menu planning, and homemade shampoo.

Pondering ~ Ways to support and love my husband and care for his needs... ways to bless him and surprise him with joy and fun... ways to approach my own healing (physical, emotional, etc.) and move toward health and strength...

Remembering ~ That I forgot to put the second load of laundry in the dryer!

Thankful for ~ The time and space to heal and rest... Internet in my home... That the wall in the laundry room is fixed and I can set up my craft/sewing stuff in there without fear of ruination... Shepherd's pie for dinner... A massage later today...


fake friday fave five - "Oh Mighty Isis"

For the real deal, go see the folks at Living to tell the Story. For mine, keep reading:

1 New Years Eve Non-Party ~ For a variety of reasons our original plan for New Years Eve didn't work out, and we ended up staying in. Since we were just hanging out at home (and to give MM a chance to use his brand new 24-qt stock pot) we sent a broadcast invite for folks to stop by on their way to whatever Cool and Classy Event they were headed to and grab a bowl of soup and a tasty beverage.

We actually had a pretty good crowd. Friends stopped in after playing in the snow. Others came by after fireworks. Others came by on their way to a regae concert. Our neighbors popped in while they awaited their own guests. A hodge podge of different people from work, church, college, etc. all laughing and talking up a storm. It was awesome.

Everyone left around 10:30, and MM and I thought we'd ring in the new year alone, but at 11:50 a knock at the door. Three old friends came from another party to raise a glass and toast the new year. It was a cool suprise, and a delight to start a new year with old friends.

2 Girlfriend Christmas ~ For the last 15 years or so, a few dear girlfriends and I have celebrated Christmas together on New Years Day. Stockings, fun breakfast, presents, a fancy meal, games, and the last few years a show. In the past, I'd often stay the night, and sleep by the twinkly tree. A traditional Christmas Day with our Chosen Family, with music, foods, and events that happen each year. We look forward to this every year. So fun!

3 Jammies Day ~ MM and I spent all of Jan 2nd in our jammies. I got a new pair of red, plaid, flannel Christmas Jammies, and saved them for the anual Christmas celebration my girlfriends and I had on the first. But our Christmas involved outside adventures (pedicures! and a theatrical spectacular spectacular!), and I didn't really get enough Jammie Time on the first.

So - in keeping with the trend of the last days of 2010, MM and I spent the bulk of the 2nd at our kitchen table in our jammies, cooking, eating, talking, laughing, crying, praying, dreaming... After a brief bit of cleaning up, we ended the day with real hot chocolate (organic, fair trade, dark, awesome, yum) and (huge) peppermint marshmallows made by a dear friend, and Rio Bravo. (I had never seen it before. Good flick. Ricky Nelsen's hair alone was worth it.)

Perfect, cozy, happy, low-key beginning to the year. Hooray for jammies!

4 Twelfth Night ~ One of our New Years Eve guests brought a hosting gift of fancy fig bread and champagne and told us to make French toast and belini's the next day. Since I was off celebrating Girlfriend Christmas, we saved the treat to share with our house church on the eve of Epiphany. Had a great time catching up and offering a double "toast" to the new year. Yum!

5 The Secrets of Isis ~ I discovered yesterday that Netflix has the old Saturday Morning show on Watch Instantly. I totally remember watching Isis and Shazam! So cheesy! I love how no one thinks its weird that this flying Egyptian superhero just shows up. They all seem to know her. And yet, no one can figure out why Andrea is never around when Isis shows up. I guess it's because Isis looks so different than Andrea. I mean, Andrea wears glasses and her hair is in a ponytail.

I learned yesterday that Isis was actually the first woman superhero on TV, predating Wonder Woman. Also, unlike Shazam/Captain Marvel, the Isis TV character came first, and then DC made a comic to go with it. Through the magic of the Internet, I can relive my childhood and watch all 22 cornball detective/superhero/mystic power shows whenever I want.

Ha! (Although, her little presto chango phrase is better than Wonder Woman's random spinning, it is less cool than yelling "Shazam!")


2011 words

During Advent each year I listen to my soul (what does it need?), my God (what is He telling me?), my heart (what is it longing for?)... and a word/idea/theme bubbles up that forms a focus for the coming year. Here are a few from years past:

2005: "chick" - to embrace femininity and all its color, sass, and verve. Appletinis and a great pair of shoes and "girls nights" and indulging in chick flicks and chick lit and other sorts of "girlie" stuff.

2006: oatmeal - this jokey word symbolized some new disciplines I wanted to integrate into my life. I started with training my pallet to like oatmeal, so that I could have oatmeal for breakfast every day. My oatmeal breakfasts led to other practical disciplines (making my bed every day, drinking more water, "spa nights", etc.).

2007: rest - to learn how to keep sabbath - to set aside (large) chunks of time to not work, fret, plan, scheme, strive, etc. but instead to purposefully loaf, nap, daydream, let go of control. Read Mark Buchannan's book on Sabbath. And Lauren Winner's. Spent a lot of time that year napping in the back yard or trying to, anyway. Still working on this one.

2008: dream - it started with an admonition during Advent to "believe" - to actively believe in goodness and hope for the future during a season of life filled with pain and fear and heartache and exhaustion. That led to the acknowledgement that I'd lived so long in survival mode that I no longer knew how to dream any dreams for myself, let alone big ones.

2009: cultivate - this year was about caring for my soul and investing in myself. I pour myself out for others all the time, so this year's word reminded me to invest wisely of my time and energy and cultivate good things in my life: beauty, peace, wisdom, health, stability... all things I worked on cultivating. Intentional living.

2010: trust - wooooah nelly! This was the year of Being Brave as I gave my smashed and hurting heart to a man I barely knew and trusted him to love and care for me. So worth it, but sooooo scary. I thank God every day for MM's patience, kindness, gentle love, and sense of humor as I learn how to trust. Again and again he is true. Again and again he is safe. And my heart is slowly mending within my husband's tenderness.


This new year is the first one I share with someone. The first one where goals and dreams (yay 2008!) are a team experience. We spent a lot of the last few days at the kitchen table sharing our thoughts and feelings about the coming year.

Our family word for this year is health. We see this year as one where we lay a foundation for the rest of our lives together. Before we soar off into Epic Adventures, we want a stable, healthy platform from which to leap. Toward that end, we want to pursue health (physical, emotional, financial, spiritual, etc.) and have begun listing action steps and goals in the various areas of our lives.

My personal word is actually two: release/receive. These two are connected. I cannot receive the good unless I release the bad. I have decades of pain (both physical and emotional) that I must release and heal from in order to receive the goodness surrounding me. And in order to release, I have to relax muscles (both physical and emotional) that have been holding on for dear life so long that they've atrophied in twisted, painful clenches. Trust lessons continue. I have a much easier time giving than receiving (money, help, love, grace, peace...) and I don't remember a time I was ever, truly relaxed.

But through a variety of sources, those are the themes that keep coming up. Relax. Breathe deeply. Trust that you are safe. You don't have to be ready to spring into fight or flight. Let go of all the pain and fear and gunk. Release those tight muscles. Release those tears. And Receive. Receive the love MM wants to pour into your soul. Embrace with hopeful anticipation the new career possibilities before you. Receive the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

May it be so.