Friday, February 25, 2011

Philosophy of Beauty

I just finished reading a fabulous book that I can't help but share with you. It was a random find: Shaune and I had gone to the local bookstore for a "date," where we get a special coffee and wander around for a few hours, enjoying the books and magazines. I hadn't planned on buying anything, but this book caught my eye:

What a weird title! And an eye catching cover! And it was only just recently (2006) translated from French. It's a novel, but even more than that, it's a discussion of philosophy. Each of the two narrators is looking for worth and beauty in their worlds, and they craft essays describing the good they've found (or the lack of it).
Each chapter is only 3, maybe 4 pages, but it draws you in so deeply. Here's a teaser from the section on grammar:

I don't like Achille Grand-Fernet but in this case I agreed with him when
he asked this question. I feel it was long overdue. Moreover, when a literature
teacher uses a split infinitive like that, I'm really schocked. It's like
someone sweeping the floor and forgetting the dust bunnies. "What's the point of
grammar?" asked Achille. "You ought to know by now," replied Madame
Never-mind-that-I-am-paid-to-teach-you. "Well, I don't," replied Achille,
sincerely for once, "no one ever bothered to explain it to us." Nadame Fine let
out a long sigh, of the "do I really have to put up with such stupid questions"
variety, and said, "The point is to make us speak and write well."

I thought I would have a heart attack there and then. I have never heard
anything so grossly inept...

Personally I think grammar is a way to attain beauty. When you speak, or
read, or write, you can tell if you've said or read or written a fine sentence.
Upi cam recpgmoze a well turned phrase or an elegant style. But when you are
applying the ruses of grammar skillfully, you ascend to another level of the
beauty of language....

And on the way home I thought: pity the poor in spirit who know neither the
enchantment nor the beauty of language.

Yum. Check it out the next time you need some brain food. I guarentee you won't be bored :)

And all will be well

I'm so grateful to you for praying for me during my testing on Monday. Although I brutally failed my first glucose screening, the second one came back "perfectly normal." I've dodged the diabetic bullet for now, but it has scared me into looking over my diet more carefully. Baby Girl doesn't really like food (lol), just snacks and junk. A hot meal just isn't appealing, so I've blended up a healthy trail mix with nuts and dried fruit. Anything's better than poptarts :)

Countdown has started! Only 11 weeks to go!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Scope of the Project

My husband and I are hard-core do-it-yourselfers. We bought an 80 year old house with 80 year old house issues. We're too poor and/or too cheap to hire anyone to do work for us, so every project turns into quite the adventure. Our bathroom sink has been leaking, so since Shaune was off on Friday for Lincoln's Birthday, he decided to take care of it. Half an hour, hour tops, to turn off the water and put some plumber's tape in the valve.

On the other side of the weekend, the bathroom sink has been replumbed entirely. New valves, new pipes, even a new vanity and new sink -- and new power tools! What started so small turned into an epic project when the valve handle snapped off in Shaune's hand as he went to turn the water off. It spiraled from there.

It's just the way my brain works, but in this chaos I saw something so comforting I just had to share with you. Isn't it wonderful -- God already knows the scope of the project before he begins. He knows everything it will take to sanctify us before we're even born! He isn't surprised when he reaches the corroded valve in our hearts that won't let us turn off the flow of sin. He isn't shocked when our perfect-looking facade cracks down the middle, revealing our spiritual ugliness. He doesn't complain when the project that was supposed to be minutes turns into days -- he already had an accurate timeline. And nothing he finds in us will cause him to step back, gasp, and comment, "Maybe I got in over my head on this one!"

I'm glad to be God's project. I'm glad he's the master, who can evaluate my heart for what it REALLY is, and not just what I'd like it to be. I don't have to understand because I'm not in control. He is... and He is more than capable.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Happy Baby-Brain Land

I have gotten nothing accomplished for weeks. Literally, nothing... past daydreaming at least. But I FINALLY got my sewing machine out of the garage (doesn't mean it's set up yet). I also decided on the quilt for Baby Blueberry: I'm going to do a triple irish chain with animals appliqued/embroidered in the "blank" squares. Fulfills my needs for a complicated project, plus my recent bizzare cravings for hand-work. Should be lovely -- I ordered the pattern today and am dragging Shaune to the fabric store on Saturday to pick out cottons.

Oh, and if you don't mind, would you send some prayers my way? Although Baby Girl is doing just fine, I've had some bloodwork for myself come back abnormal. She's sapping my system. My iron's really low and my blood sugar is out of balance. I have to go in for further testing on the 21st. I'm making some changes to my diet now and praying that everything comes out ok after the tests. This "growing new life" thing takes a lot out of you!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snowpocolapse Soup

When outside looks like this:

Leaving behind this:

And this:

What's a girl to do but make something warm and comforting like this?

Black bean soup in whole wheat bread bowls. yummm.... Perfect for a cold night of getting snowed in. The bread bowls are no-knead bread taken from this recipe here (with some alterations). I've been making up batches of this about every 2-3 days. We don't eat a whole lot of bread here, unless this is lying around. The recipe is kind of small so if you're feeding more than a handful of people, double it.
The black bean soup is a family favorite. My mom found it, my sister perfected it, and I make it all the time :) It's spicy -- really! -- so be careful! Add extra corn or cheese to cool it down. Cheddar or Mexican Blend is wonderful.
Spicy Black Bean Soup

Cooking spray
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
45 oz. canned black beans, undrained (=3 15 oz. cans) (I use a randomly approximate amount of beans cooked from dry, plus enough of the cooking liquid to just cover)
½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
14 ½ oz fat-free chicken broth, or vegetable broth (or 2 cubes bullion with 14oz water)
10 oz canned tomatoes with green chilies (Rotel)
11 oz can yellow corn, drained

Coat bottom of a large stockpot with cooking spray. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are soft but not brown, about five minutes.

Place one can of beans in blender; add sautéed onion mixture, red pepper flakes, and cumin. Cover and blend on high until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour mixture back into stockpot.

Place second can of beans and broth in blender and puree until smooth; add to stockpot.

Stir third can of beans (do not puree first), tomatoes w/ green chilies, and corn into stockpot. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Yields about 6 servings.

OPTIONAL (and time saving): Instead of blending stuff before cooking, use an immersion / Stick Blender once you've added everything but the corn. It was the best $10 kitchen tool I ever bought for things like smooth soup and sauces. I use it enough that it's earned a place in my kitchen right next to the stove instead of in some obscure cabinet throughout the house (like the ice cream maker).