Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Tasty Read and Reminisce

I finished reading Molly Wizenburg's A Homemade Life this morning. She is the creator of the famous blog Orangette, where she incorporates the recipes that shaped her life and her memories with the stories that made them so special. Her book is a collection of essays that tell her story; each can be read separately, but together they make a delightful whole. At the end of each essay is, appropriately, a recipe. Not just any recipe, but a creation that has a specific connection to that character or chapter in her life. Her father's potato salad, the cake she made for this or that person, the meal she cooked this particular important day ... it's a charming, moving, and delicious account.

Her book naturally made me ponder my own journey, and what it is that has defined important moments in my short life. The initial (and completely not serious) answer would be hair cuts. I can tell exactly what grade I was in/how old I was in any given picture by my hair. However, there are definitely certain foods and tastes that I associate with certain moments, with important memories and events. The scones I made for my poetry reading, the white chicken chili that reminds me of Andrew every time I cook or eat it, my grandmother's cranberry-and-apple casserole, the apple cake at summer camp that I spent every exhausting week looking forward to ... and my mom's biscuits.

She invented her own recipe -- a little of this, a little of that throughout her early married years, combining her mother's and my dad's mother's biscuits in a delightful combination that resulted in the happiest of Saturday mornings for me as a child. As soon as they came from the oven, my dad would stand over the hot pan, knife in hand, braving the heat to slice and fill them with too much butter. They're best that way: with too much butter. I never put anything else on them as a child (and I still don't sometimes), no jelly or honey. I ate them just like that -- just soft, crumbly biscuit and dripping butter. We ate them all week. They're the perfect base for strawberry shortcake. Cake is no comparison. The next breakfast or two, mom would re-butter them, separate tops from bottoms, lay them out on a baking sheet in the oven, and toast them for breakfast. We called it "biscuit toast" and it was my favorite way to eat them. They are soft and barely crispy when first baked, but as they are toasted a day or two later, they become delightfully thin and so crispy as to crunch satisfyingly when you bite them, and then melt in a mass of sweet bread and warm butter in your mouth. No other breakfast was as anticipated in my mind as the mornings my mother would make biscuits.

Now, as a young adult, I have made them myself. Only half a dozen times, however, and the chief flaw in this recipe is, due to it being a homemade recipe, it has never been measured precisely or written down. I learned these biscuits at my mother's side, and even now, when I make them on my own, I am constantly double-checking against her knowledge, barraging her with a stream of is this right? As a result, I cannot give you the recipe. I could give you the skeleton of a recipe, but it would not satisfy. I beg your forgiveness for building such an appealing picture up and then withholding the treat. But don't despair. I will figure out how to share the biscuits. And then you'll see what I mean.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Odds and Ends

The North Carolina mountains have been my favorite place to visit every summer since I was seven years old. I've attended Ridge Haven, the PCA's camp and conference center for summer camp for years, and I have worked there as a counselor three out of my four college summers (excepting my thesis summer). Needless to say, Ridge Haven holds a deeply precious place in my heart. And I'm sure it could be expected that when, at work on Monday, a boy came in wearing this summer's RH camp shirt, I was thrilled. I asked him when he went, who his counselor was, told him I worked there ... was so looking for a connection, a laugh, a good conversation ... except he did not share my enthusiasm about having been at the same place at the same time. He just wanted his ice cream.


My cousin's wife has an Etsy account where she sells, of all things, bow ties! They're really nice. You should check them out here.


Laura and I took a day trip on Tuesday down to Athens, GA. We both had the day off, so we decided to go somewhere we didn't know very well, and Athens has a great downtown. The weather was perfect, so after finding a parking spot (right in front of the Georgia Theatre. So sad. I first saw the Avett Brothers at the Georgia Theatre two or three years ago, before it burned down.), we spent a delightful afternoon meandering around the various shops. There are several very weird ones, and lots of upscale boutiques. We discovered a salad shop, where we had great lunch and great conversation, and then we each made one under-$20 purchase. I bought an olive green scarf from a place called Private Gallery, which apparently isn't just a local place. You can check them out here.


Leave it to me for my favorite part of Anthropologie to be their books, but look at these:

The second two are Penguin books; they have about fourteen titles, and all bound so beautifully. The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook... I think that speaks for itself. I have a thing for beautiful books, especially beautiful cookbooks, lately. And I love planning and decorating. Basically, I love beautiful things. (Who doesn't?)


Mom went grocery shopping yesterday, and I'm so excited about the contents of our refrigerator! We not only have the typical broccoli-carrot-lettuce trio, but she also brought home asparagus and yellow squash! Colorful veggies and a warm entree (I think it will be macaroni-and-cheese-and-ham in the Crock Pot) make me feel cozy. I just need it to be cool enough to start wearing my cute fall hats ...


A week and a day until Andrew!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Not a Typical Sunday

Today was not a typical Sunday at the Jones house. It was, in fact, a highly unusual Sunday in a somewhat unusual weekend.

Andrew came to visit, so that was a welcome difference. I still had to work, but as he is in med school and had to study, the arrangement worked out very well. He studied while I worked, and we hung out when I was home. We walked around town, saw the new meat market, were given free ice cream from my boss, made a delicious dessert, and threw the frisbee (we were both woefully out of practice). A delightfully low-key Saturday.

This morning, as we were getting ready for Sunday School and church, our day took a decidedly different turn. My dad, who had to work this weekend, and who has ridden a motorcycle to work every day for longer than I've been alive, hit a deer on his drive to work this morning. On his motorcycle. He called my mom from the ER, told her he was fine and not to come until she needed to come and get him. In his words, "I'm just sitting and waiting." (My dad is an extremely gentle and low-key man.) So, instead of going to church, my mother, Andrew and I drove to fetch Dad from the hospital (he works at the hospital, and it's about a 35-minute drive from our house). Turns out, he actually hit the deer about five minutes from our house, and when he realized he wasn't really damaged, picked up his bike and drove it to work! When he got closer to the hospital that he realized he needed to get checked out. The bike is still at the hospital, much skint up on the right side and missing its right-side mirror (which we picked up from the median on our way home).

Dad is fine; he has his left hand in a splint (maybe a hairline fracture) and his right arm in a sling (potentially torn ACL on his shoulder. He has a huge lump and will call the orthopedist tomorrow). He's mostly bored of the sling and split already, and in his words, "annoyed at being sidelined." He's very independent, and doesn't like people to make a fuss over him. We're all very thankful for his Kevlar riding suit, which took the brunt of his slide down the highway (exactly like it's supposed to). Protective gear! Wear it!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Choosing Truth

The gospel really does change everything. To someone who's grown up in the church, as I have, and never really known a day without being in a Christian community--whether my family, at college, or at Ridge Haven--this truth should have sunk in much sooner. Yet, somehow, I never realized until this past summer at Ridge Haven that if I truly believe the gospel, nothing about my life should be the same as it was before I encountered it. My response to all things, to every situation, every sin, every hurt, every joy, should be shot through with gospel light.

I am currently struggling with being content living at home and waitressing; each time someone asks me what I'm doing or why I'm home, etcetera, I immediately feel the burning shame of pride and judgement ignite inside me. I make some excuse, trying to make my current situation sound at least wise, if not incredibly enviable; I at least don't want them to scoff at me. If my former classmates/teachers/friend's parents judge me, think I'm doing poorly, I'll ... I'll ... what will I do? I'll keep working where I am, because I have no where else to go right now. Because this is where I am, and obviously, God has a reason for me here. He does nothing without purpose, and no other application, resume, or interview has yielded a single sprig of hope for me. So, I wait tables in my small town. And often, I'm ashamed.

Yet, why should I be ashamed? If God has brought me here, there can be no shame in trusting Him! He, Yahweh, the One who created all things, who sustains all things, who wept bitter tears when man chose himself over his God, who had immediately a rescue plan in motion for the salvation of His children, who became a man, suffered the pain of merely living in a broken and sin-wrecked world, who was condemned to death by His own creation and died. My God died. He died to rip my name out of the log-book of hell and write it in His own book, to call me His child and so change me to be like one of His family. He died to destroy death, and then He rose; now and forever more He lives. And now, I live trusting His wisdom, knowing He has promised all things for my good and His glory, and that ultimately, my true life will be in a new earth, a life free of even the thought of sin. So, with this gospel in my heart, why should I be ashamed of a menial job? A businessman is not more godly than a janitor; it is the character of my heart that matters, and not the depth of my wallet, or the size of my ego (or shine of my resume).

If I truly believe that I am the beloved daughter of my Heavenly Father, a new creation, then I can rest in this joy, this identity. The judgements (whether imagined or actual) of my acquaintances will pass away, as will this phase of life. My strengthened trust in the Lord will remain. May I always choose to trust. May I preach the gospel to myself daily.

Help my unbelief!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

a few quiet moments

I never did discover how to cut and eat my flower basket cake. Mom took it to school with her to share with the other teachers, but sold it to one of them before it ever saw the teacher's lounge! I was both pleased and flattered, and I hope Mrs. Crawford's granddaughter loves her birthday cake! Andrew suggested that I continue to make a cake a week to send with Mom to school so I can practice (and maybe get some business?). That would be nice. I was sent home from work with a bunch of overripe bananas yesterday to make some banana bread.

I'm catching a few moments of peace in between my two shifts at work today; it's a busy weekend in town, so I was asked to work a double shift. Good for my savings account, but kind of depressing on a sunny October Saturday. It's good to know, though, that weekends like this are huge supports for our community's economy. My family has selected our 3/50 businesses. You picked yours yet?

A lady came into the restaurant today wearing Chacos! It made me so happy that I told her so. No one in my town wears Chacos except my family, so hers made me smile.

Important count-downs in my life:

- three weeks until I see Andrew again
- six weeks until my Linja-and-Harry-Potter weekend
- a month and a half until I'm a published poet
- twelve minutes before I head back to work

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Final Exam!

Last night, I attended my last cake class. The final exam? We learned the basket-weave technique and then applied it to a cake, along with multitudes of buttercream flowers we brought with us, resulting in a flower basket cake!

Our instructor showed us the sacred Wilton way of creating a basketweave, and then her own method. I like them both, but I chose her method for this cake. They both look great, and you create them the same way; you just use a different tip for a different look. The Wilton technique is flatter, looking more like an Easter basket. This one, as you can see, is more textured, and looks more like a country basket.

I brought about forty flowers, and could've used a few more, but my Tennessee trip cut into my flower-making time this weekend. Overall, I was pleased.

I have no idea how to cut this cake to eat it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Seven Good Things

1. Friends! I was so blessed to be able to attend Homecoming at my Alma Mater--Bryan College--with my best friend Lindsay this weekend. We had a whole weekend of heart-to-hearts and catching up with one another, and deep belly laughs. There was much quoting of A Very Potter Musical, many late night conversations, and contagious all-around joy at being with friends. And I got to see my boyfriend, and we went on our first date since July! (He's in medical school.) I also spent a very sweet hour with my mentor Friday afternoon.

2. Bargains! Lindsay and I stopped at an outlet mall, where I scored this bag for $8.01 (it's much cuter in real life than in the picture).

3. The 3/50 Project. Look it up. (http://www.the350project.net/)

4. Poetry! A friend from my summer camp job texted me today, asking if I'd heard of Steve Turner. I've spent the last forty minutes reading some of his poetry, and it is challenging and thought-provoking. A good find, indeed. For example:

The Cast of Christmas Reassembles For Easter

Take the wise men to the Emperor's palace.
Wash their hands in water.
Get them to say something about truth.
Does anyone know any good Jewish jokes?
The one about a carpenter
who thought he was a King?
The one about the Saviour
who couldn't save himself?
The shepherds should stand with the chorus.
They have a big production number -
'Barabbas, We Love You Baby'.
Mary? She can move to the front.
We have a special section reserved
for family and close friends.
Tell her that we had to cut the manger up.
We needed the wood for something else.
The star I'm afraid I can't use.
There are no stars in this show.
The sky turns black with sorrow.
The earth shakes with terror.
Hold on to the frankincense.
We'll need that for the garden scene.
Angels? He could do with some angels.
Avenging angels.
Merciful angels.
He could really do with some angels.
Baby Jesus.
Step this way please.
My! How you've grown!

Most of his stuff just hits you in the gut like that. At least, of what I read today.

5. Sleep! Taken for granted until entering college, then forever considered a precious commodity. I look forward to more than eight hours tonight. I must be old: I need more than one night's sleep to recover from my weekend away.

6. Neighbors! I was reminded an hour ago that I'm supposed to have cake for my class tomorrow night; the cake needs at least 24 hours to cool. Upon a startling remembrance that cake had to be baked, I then immediately realized that there were zero eggs in the house. Drive to town? Call the neighbors? Most of my neighbors are family, so that's not a huge deal. I called my aunt across the road, and in fifteen minutes or so, my sweet cousin came over with four eggs for me. He will get some cake when it is done. I also should have spent time today making more buttercream flowers, but I'm just going to use the 35 or so that I have. Tomorrow night is my last night of class; is the progress measurable at all? I hope so.

7. Home.