Saturday, July 24, 2010

One of THOSE days!

Yesterday Rick and I spent the bulk of the day baking for a friend's reception. It was a comedy of errors from start to finish - one of those experiences that made me feel like an incompetent young bride again!

Anyway, after mistakes, tweaking, tasting, tweaking, and throwing a few cookies away, I finally got a batch of almond cookies that looked and tasted passable.

Here's the recipe in a much larger font that the little magazine pull-out I was using. ☺

Almond Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. almond extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Glaze: 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. almond extract
4-5 tsp. water

sliced or slivered almonds for the top

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine butter, sugar, and almond extract in large mixing bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add all remaining cookie ingredients. Beat until well mixed. (I do all the mixing with a spoon instead of a mixer.)

Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet. (I line mine with baking parchment since these cookies are rather "delicate".) Flatten balls to about 1/4 inch thickness with the bottom of a buttered glass dipped in sugar. Bake for 7 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool 1 minute before removing from cookie sheet, then cool completely before glazing.

Stir together all glaze ingredients in small bowl. Decorate cooled cookies with glaze and almonds.

Enjoy with tea!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


With all this heat, I find myself looking forward to cool and crisp fall days. Isn't that always the way it is? No matter where we find ourselves, our desires eventually run to something else. This can be a problem if we're never content, but one way to correct our perspective is to recognize that we ARE made for something more than the moment we are in. It's that "tension" thing again - not missing the good of the time we're in, but not camping in that moment either.

Our family is in a season of transition again. (There have been quite a few of those over the past four years!) Abigail is away today on her first solo drive out of town. She's camping with some folks from our church, and I'm delighted to see her taking on new challenges and developing deeper relationships with other families. I'm also aware of feeling more and more like a spectator of her life. There is a bitter-sweetness to all this; I wouldn't have her stay a child and I'm proud of her moving forward, but I also cherish those sweet times when she was younger and more easily encouraged and comforted. The new blessing is that now we are learning to appreciate each other as adult sisters in Christ.

The other big change is that we are wrapping up our homeschooling years (as far as we can tell!) Hope will be going to high school at her dad's school this year, so this summer is a time of getting ready. She has a more challenging summer reading list. She's reviewing her Latin in preparation for being in a classroom environment. And, we're shopping for clothes - school uniforms instead of jeans! She and I both are ambivalent about this transition. I know she's ready for the new challenges, and I've been so encouraged to see her maturity increase over the past year. But, I'm going to miss her!

I am thankful for so many good memories. As I realize that I have more years behind me than in front of me (unless I set a new world record for age!), I have to remind myself that I need to press forward with as much energy and eager anticipation as I did as a twenty-something. There are grandchildren to be loved! There are young people to be taught! There's a wonderful man who still needs an encouraging and loving home to come to each day. And, God is still at work in training my character and molding my heart. I'm not finished yet, so I don't want to waste time longing for those good things (or regretting those not-so-good things) of past years.

Seasons change. Each one has its blessings and challenges, but there's always the reminder that the new season is on the way. What a testimony to God's faithfulness! And what cause for hope!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I finished a fascinating book yesterday entitled The Shallows by Nicholas Carr. The subtitle is "What the Internet is Doing to Our Brain", but it not just an anti-Web tirade. Mr. Carr chronicles the history of man's quest to communicate and how the changes over time (invention of the alphabet, printing press, etc.) impacted culture. As he explores the development of the Internet, he brings in relevant research about the inner workings of the brain. I honestly couldn't put this book down, and there are many topics he introduced that I want to explore.

One thing that caught my eye was his mention of the use of "commonplaces" as a help for memory and thought. These were basically what we might call journals -- notebooks for recording quotes, ideas, or questions about what a person was reading. The idea of recording these sorts of things was suggested first (as far as we know) by Erasmus in 1512. Because of his habit of writing down excerpts from things he read, he was able to memorize an amazing amount of classical literature.

This amazing feat of memorization was not what grabbed my attention, though. It was the connection between the habit of "journaling" and the creation of thought. Taking time to write down quotes as well as responses to ideas begins the process of thinking deeply. In fact, Francis Bacon wrote that working consistently in a commonplace "supplies matter to invention".

Today there are beautiful notebooks available in bookstores everywhere. Sadly, most of us don't have (or take) the time to sit and write down much beyond a to-do list. However, I do think we've kept the idea of the commonplace and transferred it to a digital format -- the blog! As I've perused blogs over the past few years, I've found myself gravitating to those that are more like commonplaces. I enjoy reading snippets of reading, hearing another person's reaction to or questions about about what they're reading, and following the comments that often serve as a sort of conversation about the ideas.

So be prepared! I have a lot to process from Carr's book, and I'll be doing some of that here. If you enjoy being part of the process or conversation, pour a cup of tea and join me.



Friday, July 9, 2010

My days are full of tension

...but not the kind that causes headaches! I was thinking today about how each day brings new opportunities to find "balance" in life - between being and doing, hearing and speaking, contentment and longing, resting and working hard. This is one of the biggest challenges for me in my Christian walk - keeping the proper balance, or tension, in each area.

Beautiful music has provided a good reminder for me about how important tension is. It takes just the right amount of string tension for a violin string to sound a clear, beautiful note. It also takes just the right amount of tension for a life to sound forth a clear, beautiful song. Thankfully, God is the master tuner, so I know that whatever comes my way is designed to serve His glory if I yield to the perfection of His touch. If I slack off, the note is wobbly. If I jump hard on the difficulty and don't rest in Christ, the note is shrill and most unlovely!

For today - "Come, thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace..."


Well, this is the kick-off post for my new adventure! I hope to post regularly (probably weekly) random tidbits that I've gathered from living, loving, observing, reading, and conversation. Don't worry ... I won't use your conversations without your permission!
I've been a skeptic for many years about the benefits of the Internet. I have to say, though, that this past year has caused me to soften my stance and welcome the benefits of being connected to friends and family all over the world. I hope that the connections here will bless many and add to the richness of our lives together.
Please be patient as I learn to navigate these new waters!