Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Peach Frenzy

Cooking is like love; it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.
~Julia Child~
I followed Julia's advice very well this week when I turned these
into this:

20 quarts of frozen peaches. Abandon or not at all. :)

Can I also say how much I'm enjoying this magazine?
My parents got me a gift subscription in July. It's great!
Have a wonderful and safe Labor Day weekend!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Colorado Recap

This post has a bittersweet edge to it, as my reason for visiting Colorado was that my wonderful housemate Rachel moved back to her hometown of Lakewood, CO. I had a great time visiting another part of the country and am so thankful to my thoughtful and fun tour guides, Rachel and her parents Dave and Kathy. Rachel and I did survive the 18-hour drive, even through the barrenness of Wyoming. Here are some pictures with captions from the trip:

The beautiful Grand Lake up in the mountains west of Denver. Rachel, her parents, and I went kayaking and canoeing on this lake for two hours, as you can see below. It was fantastic! When I was in Denver, it was really, really hot, so it was great to be near water.

The Miedemas' dog, Tasha, enjoyed the canoe with us in her pink life jacket. I tried to recall my sea-faring (or lake-faring) jargon, but all I could remember was starboard, port, and poop deck (from Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis). I'll have to work on that. :)

The Miedemas have a beautiful garden with some heirloom tomatoes. This picture shows a mix of two kinds; I think they were called Cherokee Purple and Black Krim. I'm growing heirloom tomatoes in my garden this year, so I particularly enjoyed eating these. Oh man, did I have good food on this trip...grilled bread salad, turkey sandwiches with Gouda cheese, fresh garden tomatoes and cucumbers, Kathy's homemade scones with lots of jam, BLTs, ice cream, and more. It was great!!


On Friday, we took a lovely hike about 45 minutes from Lakewood (above two pictures). We hiked up to a rock outcropping and had great views of the surrounding mountains that seem to roll on forever. I even got to see a little lizard! 

After the hike, we drove into the town of Evergreen and ate lunch by the lake. There was a charming Nature Center by the lake's edge with a huge elk head on the wall with this sign. I stared at that elk for a good minute trying to think of a name. If you can see up in the right-hand corner of the picture, I decided on Ernie. I like the alliteration. Wouldn't it be funny if they picked my name?!

After lunch at the lake, we toured the Hiwan Historical Museum and House, owned by two families over the course of 150-ish years. The orignial wife-owner of the house was one of the first female doctors in the area...very impressive! I can't remember the last time I was in a museum. I went to SO many museums when I studied abroad in England four years ago that I was pretty museumed-out. But that's been a while now, thankfully! I very much enjoyed this tour.

Rachel and her parents live close to the Red Rocks Amphitheater that you can see behind me. There are obviously lots of concerts in the summer because we went three times and each time couldn't get to the main amphitheater because they were preparing for a concert. But we were able to peek around the side from a viewpoint. The red rocks were stunning. There's nothing like it in Portland or Spokane, so it was a treat to experience.

Rachel's mom set out this beautiful vase of garden zinnias in my room. We spent time every evening watching the Olympics. It was great fun!

This is a beautiful early-morning view of the mountains near Bozeman where Rachel and I stayed on Sunday night after the first leg of our trip. It was hazy most of the week because of wildfires, but it made the sunsets and sunrises especially striking.
Of course, this is only a sliver of all I did on my vacation. It was a wonderful, relaxing week, and I am so thankful for the opportunity. We also had fun eating at a Middle Eastern restaurant called Ali Baba, working out at the Y, taking a bike ride, touring downtown Denver, walking by the river in downtown Golden, and more. Thank you Dave, Kathy, and Rachel!
The trip also prepared me well for my family's epic drive down to Azusa, California, to take my sister Julie to college this coming week. I'll be sure to post about that when I come back. Pray that I can fit everything for our drive in one reusable grocery bag and that my parents and I particularly survive two eighteen-hour drives in a week. It's going to be rough. :o) But we're so excited to experience Azusa with Julie!
May God bless you with many happy moments as the summer comes to a close!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

American Grown: A Book Review

I've been researching popular Christian blogs at work and noticed that many Christian bloggers write book reviews on their blogs. I thought that'd be a fun thing to do on this blog occasionally. I know many of you love to read and are always looking for good book recommendations. I'd love for you to use the comments section here to recommend your own books or chime in on my review if you've read the book.
This will also help me be accountable to reading more often and blogging more frequently. A win-win situation, right? :o)

I appreciated American Grown right off the bat for two reasons. 1) It celebrates the history of American gardens from the extensive gardens at Thomas Jefferson's estate, Monticello, to the Victory Gardens of WWII. 2) The book embraces subjects that Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike can support because the book is fundamentally about the joys of gardening, eating fresh, local food and the benefits of an active lifestyle.

The book is divided into four main sections: spring, summer, fall and winter. The primary narrative centers on the evolution of Michelle Obama's White House Garden over the past several years. My favorite part of this book was the way the garden involved people and celebrated tradition and diversity. Elementary school kids planted. White House staff tended the garden. Visiting dignataries received honey from the White House beehives and pickled vegetables from the garden. Native Americans taught the "three sisters planting" (planting corn, beans, and winter squash in the same bed). The plants that grow in the garden celebrate culinary traditions from around the country and world. Etc.

Gardens have a great knack for building healthy communities. Besides using the White House garden as an example of this, Michelle highlights community and school gardens that are bringing new life to derelict land, introducing kids to homegrown food, and drawing communities together.  

I also love that a portion of food from the White House garden goes to a local D.C. nonprofit called Miriam's Kitchen that serves the homeless. Michelle writes "[Miriam's Kitchen's] philosophy is that if someone comes and will only get one meal, it should be the very best meal they can have" (132). I love the principle behind that...when someone is in need, we give them the very best we have.

There's a lot more to like about this book, but I'll leave it you to read and discover. It's not an explicitly Christian book, but there is much to enjoy from a Christian perspective, both in affirming the goodness of creation and its higher purpose in helping people enjoy God's good gifts. And now, in the spirit of gardening, here are some pictures from my garden! I was going to show you my first Silvery Fir Tree tomato, but I ate it before I could take the picture. Perhaps that's how it should be. :o)

My first heirloom Bennings Green Tint Scallop summer squash. I grew it from a seed I got from my friend Megan. Here's the description from the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed website: "Colorful light green scalloped shaped fruit, tender and good quality; excellent yields, easy to grow. We have grown this variety for many years; an old favorite."

A zinnia I grew from birthday seeds sent to me by my friend Lydia.

A street view of my garden at Dottie's house with the garden sign I bought at the Gresham Farmer's Market two summers ago. The squash is a Long Cheese Squash, supposed to be extra good for pies!

I will post more garden pictures later. I'm proud of my garden this year and thank God that it's actually produced!

Question to ponder from American Grown by Michelle Obama: Have you experienced community around a garden? What did it look like?

Friday, August 3, 2012

To Love Is To Be

Two of my housemates moved out this week and another will move out on Sunday. They're all moving far away: Los Angeles, Princeton, New Jersey, Denver. It seemed appropriate that I stumbled across this quote on a friend's blog:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one...Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

C.S. Lewis' insights are always astute, even poignant.

Astute observations are also why I appreciate my pastor. He preached on Ephesians 3:14-21 this past Sunday where Paul prays that the Ephesians may be filled with "all the fullness of God" (19). I imagine Paul knew a thing or two about saying goodbye to people. He spent at least two years in Ephesus and writes beautiful prayers on behalf of the Ephesians. Paul wants them to fully comprehend the "love of Christ that surpasses knowledge."

In his sermon, my pastor explored what the fullness of God might look like. He said he had always assumed that God's fullness meant blessings and good and prosperity. But if we look at the life of Christ, there is also hardship and betrayal and anger and grief. Since Christ embodied the fullness of God in human form, my pastor concluded that for our lives to overflow with the fullness of God we must also embrace "every emotion on the continuum of the human experience," joy, sorrow and everything in between.

I just noticed in the verse that the fullness of God is fundamentally rooted in love. Paul prays that we will "know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that we may be filled with all the fullness of God." We won't be filled with the fullness of God until we know the love of Christ.

And, ironically, love invites brokenness. The love of Christ ended in death.

Brokenness hardly ever seems like fullness. I'm always surprised when love ends in grief, in separation, in sacrifice. I expect love to be easy, to fix all the problems. But human love will never do that. And yet somehow, even as humans, we experience the fullness of God when we embrace love-giving-way-to-brokenness.

And ultimately, this is the only way we can know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. This is the only way we will be filled with all the fullness of God.

Because someday brokenness will give way to love.

And we will meet the Source of Love himself.