Wednesday, May 26, 2010

seedling update

remember when we planted seedlings?

careful watering and days of watching
the seedlings began bearing fruit

the fruit isn't large
or even very shapely
but to us it is beautiful

and Little Man assures me
that it is delicious too

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Today I am packing and doing laundry. That's quite self-explanatory, I think. However, I will comment that as much as I love my couch pillows, they do sometimes get in the way. I can't help but smile when I see them all stacked up on the back corner of the couch, their spot preempted by the things in the process of being packed.

Monday, May 24, 2010

wedding gifts

I had planned on saving this for another day when I didn't have anything to post, but I just can't help publishing it now. I'm so excited about how these turned out.
I needed to make wedding gifts for two sets of friends, and last week I finally got it done. Part of the reason I was dragging my feet was because I didn't have a clear idea of what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to do calligraphies of I Corinthians 13:4-8a for both couples, but other than that, my ideas for design were very foggy. Finally the perfect idea popped into my head, and I sketched a master design which I used for both final calligraphies. I finished them up on Saturday.

The hardest part of this design was that it's not a simple left-to-right and top-to-bottom pattern. The script faces all directions and wraps around, making it difficult to write some areas without smearing other areas that were already written.
For one of the calligraphies I used a similar pearly patterned paper as I did in my last project. It's a fun paper to work with. The ink glides smoothly onto the surface and the pearly finish is blessedly forgiving of smudges: if I catch a smudge early enough, I can simply wipe it cleanly off. These benefits more than make up for the small inconvenience of needing to work on my improvised light board (a glass table with a lamp underneath) due to the paper's thickness.
I am pleased with how it turned out. The pattern on the paper is almost distracting, but I think the overall effect works. I paired the finished calligraphy with a dark green mat and medium tone wooden frame. The final result is artsy and elegant.

I chose a crisp parchment paper that strikingly contrasts with my black ink for the second calligraphy. Parchment is a quiet backdrop that doesn't compete for attention with the calligraphy showcased on it. While I love experimenting with new papers, there's something about classic parchment that never gets old.

I finished this calligraphy by surrounding it with a black mat in a dark reddish wooden frame. In some ways this simpler version packs more punch than the version on the more ornate paper. However, I think they are equally nice in their own ways, and I enjoyed making both versions tremendously. I hope that the happy couples like them too.

p.s. If you click on the photos, you can get a larger view of the artwork.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Monday Menu

[stuffed mushrooms]

As I mentioned, we're travelling this week, so my menu planing is a little different than usual. Here's what I have planned:

M: ginger-lime stir fry (new recipe)
T: Chipping in for our small group's pizza party
W: Eat up all the leftovers so we have a clean fridge when we travel
Th: Sandwiches on the road
F: Rehearsal dinner

What are you making this week?

P.S. My next post will be my 300th post. I feel pleased with the accomplishment, and Benjamin's compliment that my blogging has come a long way makes me smile and smile.

Yesterday I had...

But oh, the results were worth it. : ) I'll be posting about them soon.

I hope to work ahead on a few blog posts and publish them little by little, but my posting might still be a bit sparse the next couple of weeks. There are several reasons for this:

1. Benjamin is in the middle of the flurry of work surrounding his senior project. Unfortunately, his computer chose this perfectly hectic time to die, so he's using mine. A lot. Which means that I can't use it as much.

2. We are going to some friends' wedding in Colorado this week. I need to pack, clean, alter dresses, teach music lessons, and practice the music we'll be playing for their wedding before it's time to leave on Thursday.

3. When we get back from the wedding, I'll need some time to recover. I would also like to get my garden in next week.

So, yeah. All that to say that my world is crazy-busy right now, and that even if this space gets neglected for a while, I'll be back.

Friday, May 21, 2010

i remember

i remember
when, tired from the trail
i rode on my Papa's
strong shoulders

convinced myself
he wasn't balding but rather
growing back his hair

admired the scenery
yet ultimately fell asleep
lulled by motion

now i see my little son
pleased with the arrangement
riding on his Grandpa's
strong shoulders

history repeats
family ties bind close
joy floods

Thursday, May 20, 2010

i teach

i teach
passing on my craft
of weaving the written notes
into floating melodies

embouchure, diaphragm
fingers, and tongue
moving in harmony
to mold fluid melodies

notes, round and full
notes, sharp and clear
notes, loud and soft
fuse seamless melodies

that linger in the air
then slowly dissipate
until they are gone
thought they aren't really

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

pillow fight

"Daddy, I want to wrestle you."
he pleads
"Sit up! I want to knock you down with a pillow."
he bossily scripts

fierce affection
tackle, tickle, knock
roll, climb, bounce
panting collapse

sheer delight, utter joy
i watch breathless
life is beautiful

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

cement trucks rate up there with trains

We have a friend who is a contractor. The house that he's building now was scheduled to have the cement slab for the garage poured yesterday. We were invited to come along and watch with his wife and two boys.

It was an enjoyable expedition. The weather was perfect: sunny, warm, and not too windy. We had fun hanging out with our friends as well as learning about cement.

The driver pulled up in the big cement truck and got the slide ready for the cement to come rushing down.
The workers used shovels to help the truck spread the cement and smoothed the surface with a long board and some special cement tools.
The big boys watched, alternating between nervousness over the loud noises, excitement, fascination, confusion over not being able to help or walk on the wet cement, and distraction (because even a good attention span for a two-year-old is relatively short).
After a while we lined up the four boys in a doorway to watch the work are to refresh themselves with tasty snacks.
The little boys were more interested in discovering that they can interact with each other than in the cement truck, but at least they got some fresh air and sunshine.
When telling his Daddy about the fun experience later in the afternoon, Little Man enthusiastically summed it up with: "Cement trucks and trains are the best!"

Recipe Reviews

I tried two new recipes last week. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos for the first one and only a somewhat unsatisfactory photo for the second. Not to worry, though, if you click on the link, you'll find excellent photos on which to feast your eyes.

The recipe: I purchased the lemon for Creamy Lemon Crumb Squares quite a while ago, and last Friday was finally the perfect time to make it. We shared these delightful treats with my parents who had asked us over for dinner.

The mods: Benjamin isn't wild about the bitterness imparted by copious amounts of lemon zest, so I reduced the amount of zest to about 3/4 of a lemon's worth.

My impression: These cookies are wonderful! They are a perfect balance of crumbly and soft while still holding together beautifully, and the lemony richness is sweet but not cloying. Plus they are quite easy to mix up. Even Benjamin (who in general doesn't care for bar cookies or things with lemon zest in them) pronounced them tasty, and those of us who like lemon and bar cookies were thrilled.

The recipe: The other recipe I tried recently was Chocolate Cobbler. I made it to share with our home group friends last week, and there wasn't even a teeny tiny little bit left afterward!

The mods: I used 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder in the battery section because, well, 4 tablespoons are easier to measure than 3 tablespoons. Plus you can't go wrong by adding a little more chocolate. In addition, I used dark brown sugar instead of light brown sugar and served it with whipped cream instead of ice cream.

My impression: This recipe was so quick and easy and so delicious that I'm sure it will be one I come back to again and again. The balance of sweetness and chocolatiness was perfect, and the addition of whipped cream just made it better. I got nothing but rave reviews from everyone who tried it.

The only comment I have about it is that the estimated 10 servings might make the servings just a little skimpy unless you are serving to a crowd with small appetites. Of course, the addition of ice cream would have made it stretch further, so perhaps I can't complain after all. : )

Monday, May 17, 2010

garden spinach

My spinach last year was unkempt and went to seed.
This year we have benefited from an early and generous crop
of volunteer spinach plants.
Last weekend I harvested my first baby spinach salad
of the spring.

Satisfying, fulfilling, crisply green.

nine months

Each month seems to fly by faster than the next. I know I say something like this on every one of Brother's month-birthday posts, but I can't believe how quickly he's growing. It's delightful to see his own unique personality shine more and more.

Right now Brother is:

sleeping through the night more and more often
starting the clingy i-love-mommy-and-want-to-be-near-her stage
chirping "Da-da!" or "Da!" when he sees his Daddy
playing with Little Man and his toys
getting bored with baby toys
trying to get into the Daddy-Little Man wresting matches
getting bored with baby toys
working on growing his two new top teeth
still putting almost everything in his mouth (yes, even that pine cone)
enjoying an ever broadening range of finger foods
delighting in blowing his baby food all over and making a huge mess
beginning to understand "no" and stop what he's doing when told "no"
pulling himself up on almost anything he can get his hands on
trying to travel while pulled up on furniture
falling and getting frustrated
walking with help
vocalizing along with music
learning to recognize "nose"
getting enough hair that I'm afraid I'll have to cut it before his birthday
charming the world with his winsome smile

sweet fellow, I treasure
each day I have to see you grow
every night I get to hold you sleeping
the smiles shared, the laughs they spark
the moments in between

Monday Menu

Here is what I'm planning on cooking this week:

M-Pasta with red sauce and spinach
T-Steaks, potatoes, and broccoli
W-Tacos for home group
Th-Frozen pizza and fruit (busy evening)
F-Make chili-dogs over an open fire in the park

What are you making?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

some days

some days
need more grace
than others

sharp words cut
worries rise
disappointments sting
decisions loom
unknowns gape at me

the boys sleep
and i make a dash
for the shower

where i try to calm
my run-away mind
start to pray
hum a snatch of song

hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me
hallelujah, all my stains are washed away, washed away

God and His powerful grace
the very constant
on which i must focus

i will be still
i will trust
i will see His work

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day-How we celebrated

We (well, Mum and I) went to a ladies Mother's Day tea.

The guys gave me Mother's Day gifts:
1. A card.
2. Izzy sparkling blackberry juice (my favorite flavor).
3. A fragrant grapefruit which will be enjoyed soon.
4. Chocolate covered dried fruit. (Yum!)
5. Junior mints, a long time favorite.
6. Vanilla Rooibos tea concentrate for making lattes.
7. An electric skillet "gift basket" holding all the rest.
I have missed my electric skillet since it's passing
and was thankful to get a new (and nicer) one.

This is a detail from the inside of my card. Little Man wrote the top "m" and the "o" all by himself. I think is easily one of my favorite part of the whole gift.

I gave Mum a gift: a mug, some fancy hot chocolate, a mini-whisk for mixing the hot chocolate, and a little, colorful notebook just for fun.

I added a hand made card and wrapped it all in purple cellophane with curly ribbon.

Benjamin also made a lovely dinner in celebration of Mother's Day. We had stuffed mushrooms for the appetizer followed by Chicken Alfredo and salad. We finished they meal with fresh strawberries dipped in homemade whipped cream.

Last, but not least, we celebrated Mother's Day by giving and receiving lots of hugs and kisses.

Monday Menu

Here's what I'm planning on cooking this week:

M-Chicken lettuce wraps
T-Ginger-apricot glazed ham and applesauce, broccoli, mashed potatoes
W-Small group--it's my week off!
Th-Ham and egg biscuit sandwiches and fruit
F-Macaroni and cheese with a vegetable side

What are you making?

Sunday, May 9, 2010


poignant joys
sweetest sorrows

days stretch out
nights interrupted

i give
and give again
more is demanded
i wonder if i can keep on

endurance fails
emotions fray
strength flags

small hand clasps mine
bright eyes meet my tired gaze
"i love you, mama" sounds in my ears
smiles meet me unexpectedly
i am greeted by laughter
joy and song

love floods my being
with beautiful, piercing pain
motivates me to indeed keep on
as my weariness abates
i even go beyond
mere survival
i delight

yes, my days are full

full of love and
pure, poignant joys
tempered with sweet sorrows

Friday, May 7, 2010

another graduation gift

My friend Katie is graduating from our local college this year. I'm looking forward to going to her graduation tomorrow. To celebrate the event, I made a calligraphy of Romans 8:38,39 to give as a graduation gift.

[wet ink]
The frame I had for her is a special frame, and I wanted to use a more distinctive paper than the plain parchment I usually use, so I decided to experiment with using calligraphy ink on scrapbook paper. I chose a pearlized paper with an elegant design as the one that would look especially beautiful in the frame. Much to my delight (and surprise, I must confess) it worked wonderfully.

[the text]
While this isn't perhaps one of my most labor-intensive projects, it's one of those that feels like it exposes a little more of my soul than is entirely comfortable. I think that the fact that the script is very close to my own everyday script contributes to the feeling in addition to the fact that these verses have been some of my favorites for years. Or perhaps I'm just feeling a bit more emotional than usual.

[the finished project in the frame]
Overall, I am pleased with how it turned out and hope that Katie likes it as much as I think she will.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

cards for Mum

Mum is the most conscientious and consistent thank-you-note writer I know, which I admire greatly. I like to make cards with calligraphy greetings on them, which she admires greatly. This works out wonderfully because my mom buys me beautiful scrapbook paper, and in exchange, I make calligraphy cards for her using some of the paper. (Did that even make sense? I'm feeling the effects of sleep-deprivation and need to go to bed.)

Recently Mum asked me to make "congratulations" cards for this year's graduates as well as some new thank you notes. Last weekend I calligraphied the greetings, and yesterday and today I sat down and put the cards together. They are simple but (I hope) pretty and elegant. The final count came to 29 thank you cards and 10 congratulations cards. I just have a few finishing touches, and I'll be able to deliver them to Mum.

Here are some of my favorites:

I made a birthday card almost identical to this one for my sister-in-law. I think she'll like it.
Our local high school's colors are blue and gold, so I did my best to make cards in the school colors for the high school graduates.
I love this red and gold paper!
This burgundy and brown tapestry-like paper is another of my favorites.
I carefully matched the colored segment of this pattern to the brown segment for an interesting effect.
I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with this one. Sometimes I think it's just so striking, and sometimes I'm not really impressed.
I am beginning to experiment with Copperplate writing. I have loved Copperplate for so long but was always a little intimidated. I find that everything about it comes quite naturally (thought not perfectly yet) to me except writing at a 45 degree forward slant. I'll have to dedicate some time to practicing. This is a little sample of my own pre-Copperplate script.


Do you ever feel like you live in Narnia? You know, during the time that it was always winter and never Christmas? Well, I'm starting to feel a little bit like that. Here is a screenshot of our current weather conditions as reported by weather for you:

Instead of dreaming of a white Christmas, I've began dreaming of a warm summer...
Today I had the privilege of helping one of my friends make her Mother's Day gift idea a reality. When she was a baby, a photo of her mom holding her made the front cover of the Mother's Day newspaper. This year she wanted to recreate the photo with herself and her small son, frame the two together, and give them as a gift for to her mother. My share in the process was taking the photo.

At first we were trying for a mirror image of the original. All of those photos were turning out tense and overly staged when suddenly little Jaxon smiled and snuggled in. Thankfully I was able to snap a photo of the sweet moment, and we ended up with a photo that reflects the same mood and "feel" as the original while being unique and a just a bit different.

While the black and white is more fitting for the Mother's Day gift, I think I almost prefer the photo in color. I couldn't resist posting the color version too. (Man, I love my camera, this image is strait out of the camera: no editing at all...)
After the successful photoshoot, we had a delicous lunch together. Little Man and his buddy got to eat a "picnic" inside since it was a windy and chilly day while the mommies enjoyed visiting as mommies do. It was an altogether lovely experience. : )