Thursday, January 31, 2013

Love libraries? Watch this.

My friend, a former librarian, sent me this.  
So good on so many levels.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

To Wait Open-Endedly

"To Wait Open-Endedly"
Henri Nouwen

To wait open-endedly
is an enormously radical attitude toward life
So is to trust that something will happen
to us that is far beyond our imaginings.
So, too, is giving up control over our future
and letting God define our life,
trusting that God molds us
according to God's love
and not according to our fear.

The spiritual life
is a life in which we wait,
actively present to the moment,
trusting that new things will happen to us,
new things that are far beyond
our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction.
That, indeed, is a very radical stance
toward life in a world preoccupied
with control.

Henri Nouwen was a Dutch priest and author.  One of my friends sent me this poem recently, which feels especially meaningful for me at this time.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fair trade

I like chocolate in my coffee.

 There. I've said it.

My sister-in-law doesn't approve of coffee any way but black,
but I like milk and sweetness with mine.
Especially chocolate sweetness.

And because I only have one cup of coffee in the morning,
and because I really like a lot of milk...
I hesitate to confess this:
I heat a mug of skim milk instead of water 
and add instant coffee to it.

I know. Not brewed coffee.
And then, until last summer, I added Ovaltine to it.
And would feel guilty because Ovaltine is hardly fair trade 
and has a lot of packaging.

So - last June I contacted Equal Exchange 
and ordered a 5-lb bag of cocoa powder.

I mixed it in the food processor with sugar 
(faster and less dusty than stirring it in a bowl)

 And stored it in a jar for daily use.

The cost is a few guilt-free pennies more.

Next up:  I'm experimenting with cold-brewing coffee.
And if that works for me, and I can use the concentrated cold-brewed coffee instead of instant,
I'll be free of non-fair traded instant coffee.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Unfortunate juxtaposition

My friend and neighbor Jan sent me two emails in quick succession yesterday.

The first, entitled "dinner," contained an invitation to have dinner with her and her husband at their house next week.

The second email was entitled "wife swap." 

Oh dear.  This doesn't sound at all like what I was expecting.

When I opened the email, it contained a link to a clip from the (in my opinion, disturbing) Wife Swap "reality" television show that my friend thought would amuse me.

What a relief.  Dinner is on.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Secrets of Highclere Castle

  Courtesy of Lord and Lady Carnarvon

Last night's opening episode of Downton Abbey's season 3 was soooo satisfying.  I'll say no more in case you haven't seen it yet.

There was a promo for a special to air on Tuesday night, but the video is available on the PBS website now (or later) if you want to watch - a behind the scenes look at Highclere Castle, the setting for the fictional Downton Abbey.  If you need a Downton fix to tide you over until episode 2 airs, this might help.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Wait is Over - Phew!

Hurray!  Downton Abbey season 3 begins tonight.
I'll be watching with a group of friends that includes two Brits.

I always watch with the subtitles on so I don't miss a word.
Hope our hostess will be amenable to that.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sixth Day of Christmas Tea

 One of my splurges in early December: a $10 "just kitchy enough" teapot, which turned out to have such a large spout that it was hard to control the tea pouring.  We had a minor tea spillage incident, so no picture of the sideboard with teapot and cups. Next year this teapot will be used solely for seasonal decoration - unless someone knows how to retrofit it so it will pour in a civilized manner.
Last year, on New Year's Eve Day, I gave a tea with my friend C for ourselves, Gerrit, and one of our part time caregivers.  It was fun to put on, and I decided to expand on that this year.

The Sunday after Christmas seemed a good time to do it, to take advantage of the house being decorated for Christmas and to keep my spirits up during this first Christmas season without Gerrit.  I invited the women of the choir plus a few additional lovely women, including my mom. 

 I forgot to take a before picture, but this tells me that the most popular sandwiches were the cucumber and green onion with cream cheese on white, followed by egg salad on wheat, and salmon with fresh dill on wheat.

Planning the tea was a great distraction; I'm so glad I did it.  And having these wonderful women over was such a pleasure.  They are good company in all situations, and they have been such a comfort to me these last months.


Our house turned 100 years old in 2012, and I thought it would be fitting to mark that milestone, as well as the 25 year anniversary since I purchased the house in 1987, with something festive before the year ended.  My guests weren't told about the milestones; it was something that I wanted to acknowledge in my own mind.  To honor the house for all the years it has sheltered us and previous families, for all the love and laughter and sadness and life passages that have happened under its roof.  For the hopes and dreams and struggles of all the people who made their homes here.  I'm happy I could do that.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year's Wishes

 My 2013 Susan Branch wall calendar - an essential part of my kitchen decor.

 I wish you all a healthy, happy, and fulfilling 2013.
And I'm a day late doing it.  
Hmmm...maybe not the best start on the new year!