Monday, May 30, 2011

Meatless Meal of the Week {no. 4}

I haven’t done any menu planning for the week ahead. We traveled for Memorial Day weekend, and we’re getting home late tonight. I am sure we’ll be eating some meatless meals, I just don’t know what they will be! If you’d like some meatless inspiration, check out these posts...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Fork Card Holder

I enjoy giving plants as gifts. Sometimes when I'm at Goodwill, I pick up a few pretty forks. They can add a sweet touch to the plant. I can’t remember where I saw this idea (a magazine? a blog?), but I have been doing it for a while.

Also, do you like the card as much as I do? I love vintage-inspired images.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Atheism and Chess

I saw a newspaper article that made reference to a high school’s “atheist club.” I wonder if these clubs are common and if anyone else senses an irony. I understand an atheist to be someone who denies or disbelieves the existence of God. Do not clubs usually consist of people who share a common interest? An atheist club is a non-interest in God. It is like forming a non-chess club for people who are against the game of chess. And wouldn’t the existence of a non-chess club help to validate the existence of the game of chess?

While on the topic of atheism, my college philosophy professor, Dr. Jim Spiegel, has a great little book on the subject--The Making of an Atheist: How Immorality Leads to Unbelief. He approaches the issue with a unique perspective, and the book is insightful and very readable.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Easy Homemade Birthday Present for Kids

Our friends hosted a birthday party for their son on Saturday, and this is what I made for him. Homemade play dough is the perfect, frugal children’s birthday gift. It didn’t cost me a cent!
  • I used some of McCormick’s neon food coloring, which is a fun change from the usual colors. I dyed the play dough neon green, neon blue, and green. 
  • I have 8 oz. tin containers from when I sold candles in my Etsy shop (now I just focus on my spool stands). 
  • I stacked them and tied them in a mesh bag that I got from who-knows-where (you know, one of those things that I would see sitting in my closet and think, "Why on earth am I saving this?").

Homemade Play Dough Ingredients

1 cup flour

1/2 cup salt

1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup water

1 1/2 tablespoons oil

Food coloring (I used five drops)

Homemade Play Dough Directions
  1. Mix the flour, salt, and cream of tartar in a pot. Set aside.

  2. In a glass measuring cup, mix the water, oil, and food coloring.

  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the pot of dry ingredients. Carefully mix well until combined.

  4. Cook over medium heat while stirring for about one or two minutes. This step can go quickly, so carefully watch the mixture lest you overcook it. The dough will get clumpy, and then it will start to pull away from the sides of the pan. When this happens, it is done. 

  5. Quickly scrape the dough into a ball and remove it from the pan. Let is sit on parchment paper. It will continue to harden as it cools off. Once cool, store in an airtight container. 

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    Meatless Meal of the Week {no. 3}

    {Photo from Hedi.}

    I am really excited to share this week's meatless meal--Double Broccoli Quinoa. It is so yummy! It's another recipe by Heidi Swanson of Half of the broccoli gets pureed into a pesto, and the other half is cut into little florets. Then it's tossed with some quinoa, sliced avocado, and slivered almonds.

    If you aren't familiar with quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), it's an incredibly nutrient-dense grain. It is the only grain that contains all eight amino acids, making it a complete protein. It has a deliciously light, nutty flavor. You can usually find quinoa in any grocery store.

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    Seven Quick Takes Friday

    Today I am joining Jennifer by posting seven quick takes...
    1. I am happy to report that the lentil soup was just as good as I had hoped it would be. The coconut milk added a delicious layer to the flavors!

    2. This is an interesting article about the abortion debate. Timothy Dalrymple explains why he believes the tide is turning: (1) young adults have seen too many sonograms of children in the womb, and (2) militant feminism is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, something associated with aging baby boomers. 

    3. I came across this blog post and was struck by the photos of the brussel sprouts. I can’t believe it, but I never knew how brussel spouts grew! They look so incredible! Just like Wendell Berry says, this is a perfect example of how the food industry has turned the eater into a passive consumer.

    4. I am working on a fun little project for a child’s birthday party tomorrow. I’m excited to share the results next week!

    5. About Eastertide, my new-favorite-writer Joan Chittiser writes: "It is a time of unbounded assurance and a sense of limitless liberation. It is hope and faith and trust all bound into one in us. It is the fifty great days of illumination meant to carry us across the darkness of life’s divides (page 176, emphasis added). 

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    Easter Centerpiece

    This is the Easter centerpiece that I made this year. A great thing about celebrating Easter as an Anglican is that you can keep your Easter decorations up for fifty days! (Easter season is the period of fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday.)

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life

    Wow. Joan Chittiser is such a good writer. I’ve really enjoyed her book The Liturgical Year. And if the title sounds a little bland, allow me to add the subtitle: The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life. The phrase has been bouncing around in my head for a while now. I love Chittiser's use of language. Usually the word “spiral” is paired with the word “downward.” But the subtitle of this book evokes the image of an upward spiral--a gradual ascent to holiness. Here are some quotes that I've enjoyed...

    “The liturgical year is an adventure in bringing the Christian life to fullness, the heart to alert, the soul to focus. It does not concern itself with the questions of how to make a living. It concerns itself with the questions of how to make a life” (page 4, emphasis added).

    “The liturgical year is the year that sets out to attune the life of the Christian to the life of Jesus, the Christ. It proposes, year after year, to immerse us over and over again into the sense and substance of the Christian life, until, eventually, we become what we say we are--followers of Jesus all the way to the heart of God. The liturgical year is an adventure in human growth, an exercise in human ripening.” (page 6, emphasis added)

    “The liturgical year is the process of slow, sure immersion in the life of Christ that, in the end, claims us, too, as heralds of that life ourselves” (page 13).

    “Liturgical time is the arc that affixes the layers of life. It binds heaven and earth into one and the same rhythm. Rather than give ourselves totally to life as we know it here and now, liturgical time raises our sights above the dailiness of life to the essence of life” (page 39, emphasis added).

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Meatless Meal of the Week {no. 2}

    {Photo from here.}

    Right now I am really into Heidi Swanson of This week one of our meatless meals will be Green Lentil Soup with Curried Brown Butter. It's from her cookbook, and it looks amazing. The recipe is featured here.

    I try to cook with lentils regularly, but I don't particularly care for their texture or flavor. I think this recipe has lots of potential because the ingredients are pureed. Also, it calls for ingredients such as curry powder and coconut milk, which should hide that distinctly lentil flavor.

    I plan to serve this soup with fresh corn on the cob. For last week's meatless meal, check out this post.

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    Pretty Stamps

    My husband came home from the post office with a page of pretty bird stamps. He said he bought them because he knew I would like them. He was right. Apparently the Nature of America series was made up of twelve different panes of stamps featuring scenes of different ecosystems in the United States. The Rainforest of Hawaii is the final pane in the series.

    Thursday, May 12, 2011

    The Basics to Starting a Square Foot Garden

    As I mentioned at the end of this post, I am attempting to grow a square foot garden this spring. I’ve had vegetable gardens before, but I always felt intimidated by square foot gardening. I would see other bloggers post pictures of their gardens, and I assumed it was super difficult and that I would have to buy lots of book to learn how to grow a square foot garden.

    I am sure some books wouldn’t hurt, but I was surprised to find everything I needed to know on This website is maintained by Mel Bartholomew, the inventor of square foot gardening. Here are some of the important benefits and features of SFG...

    • Square foot gardening requires less work than conventional gardening. You don’t need any heavy tools to loosen the soil because the soil is never compacted. Also, square foot gardening requires very little weeding because of the loose soil and raised beds.
    • The size is an important feature of the square foot garden bed. Since you won’t walk on your garden, the garden must not be wider than 4 feet. Any wider makes it too difficult to reach across and tend to the plants. Mel recommends making 4’x4’ garden beds, although you could do something like 4’x6’ or 4’x8’.
    • Fill the garden box with a mixture of 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 coarse vermiculite. No dirt is needed! It's best to make your own compost from many ingredients so that the plants receive all the nutrients they need. The peat moss and vermiculite help hold moisture and keep the soil loose.
    • A 4’x4’ square foot garden will produce more than a normal 8x10 foot garden! The grid is the unique feature that makes the whole system work so well. It is very difficult to organize and manage a 4’x4’ space unless it’s divided up into squares. Without the grid, you will be tempted to plant in rows, which is a poor use of space.
    • The grid divides a 4’x4’ garden bed into 16 easy-to-manage spaces. You can up to 16 plants in one of the 1’x1’ spaces! You can grow 1, 4, 9, or 16 equally spaced plants per square foot. If the seed packet recommends to plant the seeds 12 inches apart, then plant one seed per square foot. If 6 inch spacing; 4 per square foot. If 4 inch spacing; 9 per square foot. If 3 inch spacing; 16 per square foot.

    If you’re interested, go here to check out Mel’s "three basics" and his "ten steps."  I decided that I should start small this summer. So I am using one 4’x4’ box. This is my planting grid...
    While on the subject of gardening, check out this post from the archives. I love writer Wendell Berry's seven tips on how to eat responsibly.

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Meatless Meal of the Week {no. 1}

    I usually cook a few meatless meals during the week (see some good ones here and here), and when I do include meat, it's never the main focus of the meal.  I want to begin a series featuring one meatless meal every week. For dinner tonight, we will be eating...

    Brown Rice and Spinach Casserole
    This surprisingly good recipe is from a A Continual Feast: A cookbook to celebrate the joys of family and faith throughout the Christian year. I love its title. It draws from 1 Corinthians 5:8, but liturgical Christians will also recognize that it draws from the Eucharistic prayer (“Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore, let us keep the feast.”).

    Carrot Ginger Soup
    Once I had a delicious carrot and ginger soup at a local restaurant, and I was inspired to create my own. To make this soup, puree several cooked carrots with a few cups vegetable broth. Then add salt, pepper, onion powder, and ginger to taste. Serve the soup hot and enjoy the lovely orange color!

    Homemade Wheat and Flaxseed Bread
    The good thing about this recipe is that it makes two loaves!

    Saturday, May 7, 2011

    Homemade Bread for Mother’s Day

    I haven’t baked very much since giving birth to our twins in January, and I am starting to miss it! This bread recipe was passed on to me by a friend, and it is delicious. It will make the perfect little something to give my mom on Mother’s Day.

    Wheat and Flaxseed Bread
    4 1/2 tsp yeast (2 packets)

    2 cups warm water (around 110 degrees)

    2 tsp salt

    2/3 cup sugar
    2/3 cup canola oil

    2 1/2 cups wheat flour
    1 cup freshly ground flax seeds
    2 1/2 to 3 cups white flour

    Dissolve yeast in warm water and add the rest of the ingredients. Start kneading as you add the ingredients. Stop adding the last cup of white flour when the dough pulls away cleanly from the side of the bowl. Total kneading time should be 5-7 minutes. Let rise in bowl until about double or for about 45 minutes. Punch down and place in two greased medium bread pans. Let sit for 10-15 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

    Friday, May 6, 2011

    Seven Quick Takes Friday

    {Image from here.}

    Tonight I'm joining Jennifer by posting seven quick takes...
    1. Is it true that Easter Sunday was nearly two weeks ago? I don’t know where the time has gone! I think our household has finally recovered from Holy Week. Perhaps now I will find the time and energy to resume blogging. My break was unplanned!

    2. Before this topic is totally outdated, I have a Lenten thought: It occurred to me that Lent is the appropriate season for one to go through his or her belongings in order to give things away. Yes, I believe that even spring cleaning can become part of living the church year! We have so much excess and so much that we don’t need . Lent calls us to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. As we prayerfully ask the Lord to meet our needs, we can learn to abstain from hoarding and greed, and we can give our belongings to the poor.

    3. Doesn’t this sound so fresh and delicious? I think I will try walnuts, oranges, and cranberry juice.

    4. "I wonder what percent of the population of adoptive parents are Christians?" my husband mused last week. Coincidentally, on Sunday our priest referenced this very idea. He told a story of an adoption class where every single couple in attendance happened to be Christians. I find this to be a very strong argument for the Christian ethic and for how Christians improve society.

    5. Our new house doesn’t have a front door, which makes it challenging to landscape the front yard. Based on all my Google searches, it seems that no one else has ever struggled with this dilemma! Last weekend my husband used our minivan to pull out the unattractive shrubs that dwarfed our house. Now we just need to figure out what should take their place!

    6. I stumbled upon this cookbook the other day (and the blogger behind it).  It has been added to my Amazon wishlist, to say the least! 

    7. I love the letterpress designs of Dutch Door Press. I have purchased some of their cards over the years, and now I have been eyeing their state bird prints. Wouldn’t a set of three look so pretty framed on a wall? 


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