Wednesday, May 18, 2011

{ Thanks }

I'm overwhelmed with thankfulness. With the goodness of a good God in raining--pouring--lavishing so much good on those I love.

Monday was a series of conversations with several dear-to-my-heart people, each sharing with me beautiful new news, start to finish good news--joy--thanks.

new baby

possibility of a new job

another dear one getting a job

new house closing a month early

All so unexpected!! I was delightfully surprised with the joy of conversation #1.....ecstatic over conversation #2....and by conversation #3, I was thinking, "Who's next? What's next? This is the most delightful day!"

Thank you, Jesus. It's been a pleasure glimpsing just the littlest smidgen of joy that pours forth from You, as You shower humanity with Your undeserved, all-beautiful love. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

{ Life Lately }

The past week has been too-busy-to-blog-but-in-a-good-way. I've been engrossed with little projects, sweet little this-is-my-life-right-now projects that are quite time-consuming till they're done, but not much in the grand scheme of things. My spare moments lately have been filled with planning a bridal shower for a friend who doesn't like traditional bridal showers, so it's morphed into a girls' afternoon wine-tasting in the city. In the process, I've come across lots of great little date spots, some of them quite inexpensive {score!}. I'm trying to think of a way I can share these potential-date-spot gems with the Mr.; perhaps a new page on my blog? A new sidebar category?

I'm also deciding on a paint color for the kitchen. Finally!! It's been over a year since I decided to paint the kitchen, but after our massive living room/dining room/bedroom/bathroom project over Memorial Day weekend last year sort, the Mr. and I were burned out. For, like, months. And then Painting Season ended {unless I wanted to {a} get intoxicated on paint fumes, or {b} freeze to death while painting with windows open}, kitchen still colorless. But I'm close to choosing a color! Really close! {If I keep being positive and using exclamation points, maybe even I will start to believe me!} In June I'll be hosting a joint baby shower for two of my coworkers, which has me dreaming of re-painting the living and dining rooms as well. I loved the Easter green for about a week. Mike detested it from the start. I admit that it was a bad decision for our main living space. In a kids' bedroom? Terrific! The majority of our living space? Not so much. I'd love to find a great color and have it all re-painted by the baby shower, but I know that's probably not a realistic timeframe.

Here is our current home...

 but imagine cheery Easter green everywhere!

...and here are a few inspiring snapshots from blogland:







isn't this dining room just dreamy?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

{ Shaved Asparagus Pizza }

Stick with me on this. I know it seems like a bit of a stretch.

Asparagus pizza is good.

Like, really really good!

I love asparagus; we've had a couple times a week ever since it showed up in the produce department a couple of months ago. I adore asparagus. I can't get enough. I broil it with a little olive oil and some lemon pepper, and even Mike {a self-proclaimed asparagus hater} loves the stuff.

When I saw this recipe on Tasty Kitchen, I was skeptical. Nonetheless, I was determined to give this new and exotic way of consuming my vegetable love a try. The pizza went together really quickly--making the asparagus "shavings" was the most time-consuming part, and it still probably took about 15 minutes, from start to putting it in the oven.

And people!

It smells SO GOOD when you take it out of the oven!!

Definitely a girly pizza--there's no meat, after all--but so springy and flavorful and fresh. It's like springtime in your mouth. That may be partly due to the fact that I used Trader Joe's herbed pizza dough. No one can convince me that making pizza dough from scratch is easier than spending $2-3 on Trader Joe's always-perfect pizza dough!! It took me literally one minute to spread out on the pan and I was done. I don't care how simple, how foolproof, how fast your pizza dough recipe may be, I'd bet Trader Joe's has you beat. Our time is valuable, ladies!

Here's the recipe, courtesy of Tasty Kitchen.

Shaved Asparagus Pizza


1 whole Batch Of Pizza Dough - Enough For 1 12-16 Inch Pizza

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, For Drizzling The Dough
8 ounces, weight Fresh Mozzarella
1 bunch Asparagus
5-¼ ounces, weight Boursin Cheese (or Similar Herb And Garlic Spreadable Cheese)
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper


Preheat oven to 450 F.

If not already shaped, stretch your pizza dough into a large circle 12-16 inches in diameter and place on your pizza pan or stone. Drizzle dough with a thin stream of olive oil.
Slice fresh mozzarella as thinly as possible and arrange in a single layer over dough.
Using a vegetable peeler shave your asparagus into thin ribbons. Use the entire bunch, as you might only get 3 or 4 good ribbons from each spear. Pile asparagus shavings on top of the mozzarella. The asparagus WILL cook down so you want to use more than you think is necessary.
Top asparagus with several cranks of black pepper and dot generously with Boursin cheese. (I tend to use 1/4-1/2 a package per pizza.)
Bake on pizza stone or baking sheet for 15-20 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let cool for 2-3 minutes before slicing and serving.


Monday, May 2, 2011

{ Cake }

My mother-in-law made the most amazing cake on Sunday... belongs in the Cake Hall of Fame.

White cake, perfectly light layers.
Homemade lemon custard filling.
Lemon cream cheese frosting.
White chocolate.
Ohhhhh, Mandy, you have won my heart. Even if you hadn't raised the World's Best Son into the World's Best Man and Most Amazing Husband, I would sing your praises forever because of the glorious perfection that is this cake.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

{ Rejoice }

After work on Friday I stopped by Sherwin-Williams to pick up some paint chips. Flipping through a sample brochure, I noticed this quote printed beneath a photo:

There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice. - John Calvin (theologian, born 1509)

John Calvin--quoted in a paint store idea booklet. God's exquisite artistry, His brilliant design in creation given a sideways nod via Sherwin-Williams promotional materials. I picked up the booklet along with my paint chips and hurried on my way.

It startled me, though. Bothered me as I ran errands, sorted laundry, ate dinner. I thought of the beauty I saw last weekend when we visited the tulip fields with my family. Beauty in so many shapes, textures, sizes; colors vibrant, unapologetic, theatrical.







Hesitantly, I admit: I am baffled by the Maker's apparent concern with beauty. Does He really care this much? Flowers don't have to be beautiful in order to pollinate and reproduce. This resplendent display of beauty and creativity and utter decadence for the senses is certainly not needed. And yet....He chose to make them so. Does Jesus really value beauty this highly? Does the delight of the senses really matter this much?

I am confused. 

I am all function, efficiency, results-driven. Whatever is the shortest, most efficient route between Point A and Point B, I'm there. There is not time nor room nor energy in my decision-making paradigm for non-essentials like beauty, enjoyment, or pleasure. The road doesn't have to be pretty, as long as it gets me to my destination. In fact, pretty would probably only distract me and make the journey take longer. I'd probably have to sacrifice more time and energy to seek out or cultivate that beauty, anyway, which is a waste of my limited resources. I'm not sure I'll make it to my destination as it is!

This lifestyle {for this statement is the foundation of all my choices; it permeates every fiber, every moment, every breath of my day} slams against the words in the Sherwin-Williams booklet. I flip it open when I walk by the dining table.

There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.

Really. Really? I don't believe it. I blatantly call that a lie every. single. day.

It's time to hit the gym {I may blatantly disregard the value of beauty around me, but with Hawaii around the corner, trying to get this body in better shape for a bathing suit is high on my priority list}. I grab my water bottle and this book,

a birthday gift I've been feebly attempting to read. I feel like I need a clean slate. I decide to start over. I balance on the elliptical machine, running, till my hands are too sweaty to hold the book. I set it down and my head wrestles with the dichotomy between mind and heart and what does beauty matter? and I sweat and I have no answers.

...all these mornings, I wake to the discontent of life in my skin....the wrestle to get it all done, the relentless anxiety that I am always failing. Always, the failing.

My eyes smart. How does she know? Someone else feels this, too?

I live tired. Afraid. Anxious. Weary. Years, I feel it in the veins, the pulsing of ruptured hopes. Would I ever be enough, find enough, do enough?....I really want to really live. Is that the message of nightmares and dreams? To live either fully alive...or in empty nothingness?
It's the in between that drives us mad.
It's the life in between, the days of walking lifeless, the years calloused and simply going through the hollow motions, the self-protecting by self-distracting, the body never waking, that's lost all capacity to fully feel--this is the life in between that makes us the wild walking dead. - One Thousand Gifts, p. 27

Did He really do that? God? Did He really create this world to make us rejoice? Are flowers beautiful because our souls respond to beauty and glory and Him and when we accept this beauty, seek it and delight in it and enjoy it, we are closer to Him? Is being intentional about beauty, creating it, and rejoicing in its presence wherever we find it, part of God's purpose for me? Part of His plan, rather than an optional, superfluous, not-really-worthwhile distraction? 

Long finished with my workout, I'm still wrestling with this, mind vs. heart, not understanding at all with my head, yet wanting to be convinced. I want to see. Help my unbelief.