Monday, May 31, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Tantalizing Tomatoes

Summer in the South


(Lovely patriotic centerpiece by DD#1)

Heat, fresh tomatoes, field peas, sweet corn.

More heat.

(Fortunately, we no longer live below the gnat line, where our list would read heat, gnats, heat and tomatoes. And more heat.)

Anyhoo, for the first cookout of the year on Memorial Day, I used some early tomatoes from the farmer’s market for Marinated Tomato Salad, one of those wonderful make-ahead recipe that gets better the longer it sits.


The super-easy dressing is from a veggie salad my mom used to make.  Alas, she loves raw onions and used them plentifully in that dish.


So one day I poured the dressing over sliced tomatoes and cucumbers and let them soak in the fridge for a few hours.

Oh my.


Marinated Tomato Salad

3/4 cup apple cider vinegar (mix it up with some balsamic, red wine vinegar, or any other flavor you’ve got stashed in the pantry)

1/4 cup canola oil

1 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 tbl water

1 cup sugar

salt to taste

Dump all this in a pot and bring it to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.

Slice  tomatoes, cucumbers, and/or bell peppers (or, yes, even onions, if you are into those) in shallow dish (like a 8x8 baking dish) and pour dressing over all.

Refrigerate until serving, the longer the better.

I like to add basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, and any other herb growing on my deck (except the mint) to the mix for a little sass.  Big Red laces his liberally with Tabasco.

Talk about more heat.

Stay cool!




Linking up at Tasty Tuesday

Help Wanted

Attention bibliophiles!

Lately I’ve been boring myself at the library.

Normally, I’ll read just about anything.

I’ve been known to read this if I’m desperate.


Not that I don’t have standards.

It appears that my standards are the issue.

I don’t mind fluff if it’s funny or wholesome or has a good story line. (Hence my attachment to cozy mysteries.  Please confess if you are also a fan of Hannah Swenson mysteries or the Ellie Haskell series!)

I don’t mind deep either.  See this post.

What I don’t care for is egregious immorality, excessive post modernism as a worldview, or lots  of navel-gazing masquerading as depth.

Sometimes I just want to tell the main character to get a grip.  Anyone?


What are you reading these days that makes you laugh, cry, think?

Be blessed today.  Enjoy your porch swing and a glass of lemonade.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Resting Place


I have to start by saying that I don’t know where to start.

I may not say this well.

I’m in that place between public and private, and I am still chewing on this, pondering.

For the second time in six months, I went to bed last night with the word “cancer” hanging over my head.

For the second time in six months, I will go to bed tonight with praises for the word “benign”.

The first time, I had moments of tears and worry, but I can truly say that I knew the “peace that passes understanding”, the absolute assurance that God was working, He was in it, He had purpose for either result.

This time was different.

I knew fear.

Then my husband, my pastor, and a dear friend who has walked this path herself anointed me with oil and prayed for me.

Then I knew nothing.


Which is sort of like peace, but not exactly.

As I have prayed the last few months for the ladies on the retreat weekend, God spoke very little.    I felt we knew few specific things to pray over those women. 

We prayed anyway, and I finally decided that was the point.

“Will you,” God seemed to ask, “ praise Me, worship Me, seek My face, even if I choose  not to let you in on anything I’m doing?”

The last 24 hours, I have walked that question, not for other people, but for myself and my family.

Would I praise Him, worship Him, seek His face, even if He chose not the let me in on what He was doing?

In Ephesians 3, Paul writes a prayer for the church, that we would be strengthened by the power of Christ dwelling in our hearts through faith, and that we would know the wide, high, long, and deep love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.

His love for me goes beyond knowledge of my circumstances, beyond my future, whatever it holds.

Christ, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, is holy and good, and faithful.

Even if the news had not been good.

I don’t feel any different than I did this morning.  I still feel like God is being quiet.

But in the stillness, I know I am being refined.

These {trials} have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may prove genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

1 Peter 1:7 (NIV)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Garden Tour

Blooming in my yard right now:DSC02661






(view from a stump in my yard of my neighbor’s property and the community pond.)

Ah, the miracle of pictures!  They make me believe our yard is lush with blooms!

It isn’t.


May this little taste of summer to come give you hope that beauty is on the way.

May the deer not treat your garden as dessert.


Psalm 24
Of David. A psalm.

The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it,
       the world, and all who live in it.

Be blessed today!


Monday, May 24, 2010

Total Fluffy Randomness

I am BRAIN DEAD from lack of sleep (for very good reasons, but still true), so just to prove I am still alive in blogland, I give you

A DaY in the Life

Monday Edition

Outside my window: Grey skies, green leaves, and hydrangeas tinged with blue

I am thinking: Take that back.  I’m not thinking.  It requires too much energy.

I am thankful: For lovely ladies to work with and pray for this weekend; for an amazing hubby who prays for me and puts out fires at home while I’m off praying for other people

In the kitchen: Strawberries, sweet potatoes, squash, and green beans, awaiting the opportunity to be part of our supper

I am wondering: How to combine said fruits and veggies into anything supper-ish

I am looking forward to: A good (read: long) night’s rest

I am reading: Radical  by David Platt. . . and Apple Turnover Murder by Joanna Fluke. It’s how my mind works.  Bizarre, I know.

I am hoping:  Big Red avoids knee surgery after an injury a few weeks back; that I can get my act together for school without ruining our whole summer.

Around the house: Unpacked suitcases

One Two of my favorite things: French roast coffee this morning after a weekend of the weak stuff.

Hydrangeas, which just say “summer” to me.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Back up at the school tomorrow for meetings with department heads

A picture: Totally random picture of seagull taken at the beach this spring; the girls are hoping for a return visit this summer.DSC02331

Hoping to be more interesting tomorrow!  Be blessed today!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

I Want to be Radical

I don’t have a lot of time today, but I want you to order this book. 


Right now.

It’s important.

Spend some time here.

I don’t want the American dream. 

I want to KNOW Christ.



P.S Thanks for praying this weekend!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Shall We Dance?


Yesterday, we went to the Ball.

Not our typical Tuesday morning.

Our middle school hosts a Civil War Ball as the culminating unit of a year-long study of our state’s history.  Courageous 8th grade teachers dare to take a  bunch of uncouth teenagers and teach them the Virginia Reel, the Spinning Waltz, the Patty-Cake Polka.

What happens is magical. 

Girls, usually virtually identical in jeans and Aeropostle t-shirts, are transformed, Cinderella-like, into a rainbow of satin and lace, unique and captivating.

Boys who have never seen a pair of dress pants in their lives are suddenly dapper and suave in jackets and ribbon ties.

I loved it.

Not just because of DD#1, who was, in my humble opinion, the belle of the ball.   With her cascade of curls, my recycled prom dress (circa-1986), and the last hoop skirt this side of the state line, she blossomed into a beauty that made her daddy cry.

No, I loved it for everyone else there, too.

In a world devoid of elegance, it was a moment of dignity and refinement  

Girls were treated like ladies.

Boys behaved like gentleman.

With each bow and curtsey, each swirl of skirts and graceful footwork,  those kids caught of glimpse of what it means to be noble.

Maybe one day, years from now, the memory of offering his arm to his dancing partner will inspire a guy to open the car door for his date.

Maybe one day,  the memory of the courtly behavior of her dancing partner will inspire a girl to expect that on a date.

So, even though they will never read this, I want to publically thank the teachers and administrators who  recognized that there are life lessons beyond testing.

May those lessons be well-learned. 

I may be scarce for a few days; this is the retreat weekend where I am working on the prayer team.  I would appreciate your prayers for the team and the ladies we are serving!



Thursday, May 13, 2010

Jars of Clay

**How do you spell “busy”?  M-A-Y  Sorry for the odd timing of this post during the day!

After zooming to the middle school this morning (where, so they tell me, I am officially on staff next year, barring any weird budget issues that arise prior to contracts!), I popped into Walmart with dog food on the brain and came out with flowers as well. 


Paul writes, “ We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. … We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” (2 Co. 4:7, 10)

The gospel of Christ, the glory of God Himself, is our treasure to contain and to reveal.

Ponder that a moment.  For the sake of grace, for the sake of His great name, God chose to reveal His glory and power in us, jars of clay.

That’s why man was formed from clay.

His Glory was coming, and God chose the metaphor in advance.

In Paul’s day, the humble clay pot held grain, water, oil, and wine.

In Christ, our humble clay beings hold  the Bread of Life, the Living Water, the Holy Spirit, and the manifest Fruit of His Spirit.

How misplaced is my frequent battle with pride?  Umm…about as dumb as a clay pot considering itself the prize, not the flower.


Today, clay pots hold dirt, but something beautiful grows from the nourishment of the soil.

The metaphor still works.  DSC02597

May what grows from me reveal His glory.



Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ode to an Iron Skillet (and a Recipe)


In a continuing tribute to Mother’s Day, I share with you today my all-time  favorite hand-me-down and kitchen tool, my iron skillet.

Every good Southern cook owns an iron skillet.  Even if you are not Southern, you should buy one and fool people into believing you cook as well as old ladies below the Mason-Dixon line.  They will thank you.

Trust me on this one.

This iron skillet was my mom’s and is the one thing that I’ve told her I would NOT return should she miraculously be able to live by herself again.  (I’m safe here—and kidding, I promise.)

For 60 years, this pan has been faithfully producing the best cornbread in America, gumbo, fried chicken, stir-fry, roasted potatoes, and countless other delicacies. 

It is the original non-stick pan and doesn’t have to be molly-coddled with plastic spatulas, the bane of my existence.  The only thing is doesn’t like is to be put in the dishwasher, but a swipe with a dishcloth or a brillo pad and a good rub with a dry cloth makes it happy and ready for the next meal.

So without further ado, here’s one of my favorite iron skillet recipes.

Mama’s Cornbread

1 cup self-rising corn meal

1/2 cup flour

1 egg

1 stick butter

1 cup buttermilk

Heat oven to 350*.   Put the stick of butter in the skillet and let it melt in the oven.  Mix other ingredients in a small bowl and add melted butter, but don’t scrape out the pan.  (Now your skillet is greased and ready to go; isn’t that clever?)  Bake 25-30 minutes.  Serve hot.

Yum.  Notice there is no sugar in this recipe; that is a sacrilege. This cornbread doesn’t need sugar, thankyouverymuch.

What is your go-to kitchen item?  Be blessed today and happy cooking.



Linking this up on Tasty Tuesday.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Fly-By Monday


Flying by Monday morning to say

--I should know something official this week about whether I’m full-time at this teaching stuff next year :-)

--off today to sub for the band director;

-- praying he’s left a movie and not something musical since I know NOTHING about orchestra instruments;

--wearing a jacket today ($2—thrift store :-) ) since we’re in the midst of blackberry winter here

--wondering if any of you have read Radical yet; I haven’t but it is definitely on my list;

--trying to get back on my walking routine—but not enough to get up at 5:00 to do it;

--had the most fun Mother’s Day hanging out with all my favorite people!

--hoping you had a great weekend as well and praying for your good week ahead!



Thursday, May 6, 2010


Since we sold our traditional-lovely-but-not-us bedroom suite, we have been without a headboard.   If we were the US government, we’d borrow the money from China and buy an iron bed or a dreamy peeling-paint mantel. 

In the interest of fiscal responsibility (may Congress take notes on how that’s done), I shopped our house instead.


These frames were either all gifts or cost .50 or less a piece.  Somewhere back in time I probably paid $3 for the whole bunch.

The large frame was part of the Creative Memories line (now discontinued) and holds a scrapbook page of one of my favorite pictures and quotes.



No sewing skilz required for this pillow.


The vintage buttons were rescued from my mother’s sewing supplies that are languishing in my basement.   At $3 a yard, the trim was a bit pricey, but I like bobbles, and everything else was free. 

There’s still lots to do in our master bedroom, but I’m pleased with the progress.

I’m off to cover this freshly made bed with laundry to fold.

So much for progress.

Be blessed today!


Linked to Just a Girl, Transformation Thursday, and Thrifty Thursday.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Here’s the Story of a Lovely Lady

This is  a story about my mother.


It’s long, but I want you to read it.

I could tell you about her faith, her enormous creativity, her strength in the face of many challenges, her fabulous pound cake.

But not today.

Today I want to tell you a time when she went very far away from herself, and we feared we would not get her back.

I want to tell you how, in that very dark place,  her Jesus showed up.

A few years ago, my father, her husband of 57 years, passed away.  He was 87, a compromised lung patient, so while the illness was short, his death was not unexpected in one sense.

My mother had been a strong believer in Christ for many years,  so somehow we missed that his passing would cut her loose from her moorings.

Over time, she slipped into a dark, secret world inhabited by fear.

Yet, even when her grief dredged the bottom of its depth, the Holy Spirit in her called across the deep water.  We sat on her porch, singing snatches of old hymns, me reading scriptures over and over to her.

“The darkness is not dark to You.  The night is as light to You.”

Through those days, Psalm 23 glowed white-hot from the page.

He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

The Bread of Life, the New Wine, broken and poured out for her, for me.  In the presence of her enemy (where he was forced to watch),  her sweet Jesus spread a candle-lit banquet table, and we ate.

It would be months before the light shone bright out of my mother’s life again.  If you met her today, taking charge at her retirement home, you would not know the shadow she had walked through.

Mercifully, she doesn’t remember those days.

But I do.

And I thank Him for the Table. 

Happy Mother’s Day


Linking up at Chatting in the Sky:Tuesdays Unwrapped

Monday, May 3, 2010

May Days

Things to be Thankful For on a May Monday


Buds on a hydrangea that has produced two flowers in the last four years

Two concerts in a week means my child is talented and able to do something she loves

14 1/2 days of school left until my kids stop whining every morning

Several area churches gathering yesterday to pray for our community and our nation

Sweet sisters who bring deep needs to our attention so that we may join them in prayer 

Being able to visit my mom on Mother’s Day this week

A clear Word from the Lord

May you Monday be joyful, prayerful, and productive!