Just Because

Monday, May 22, 2017

May 20, 2017

I'm having a little issue with blogger and my trusty laptop again...So, while I have picture posts and a birthday post and an essay and more on faith to share, this morning, I'm just writing from the hip. I hope you don't mind. I have a feeling you don't because these are the kinds of posts that I love to read when I head to other people's blogs.

This weekend was an eventful one! Tech week turned into opening weekend and we came out on the other side with a house that's in pretty good shape, food in the fridge, and none of us down for the count. Plus, the show is going SUPER well. I call that a win!

Over the weekend I also...

* Found out that I tied for 2nd place in a writing contest I entered back in March!

* Had a minor emergency involving maggots AND didn't throw up (the dog drug something out of the bushes).

* Read in the sun...ate in the sun...had ice cream in the sun.

* Saw a man in a dress/romper situation. (WHY? I ask you...)

* Said "thank you" to a credit card machine.

* Finished reading a book I've been working on for nearly 2 whole months.

* Cooked up the first of the "summer" dinners (hot dogs, Alton Brown's mac and cheese, baked beans, and watermelon).

* Got out of the car in an "I wasn't planning on getting out of the car" outfit and grinned like an idiot as I walked around looking for my Mom. (A junky tshirt and a pair of Gap sweat shorts from the late 90s as well as my old Adidas sandals that I can't bring myself to throw away...I know you were wondering!)

* Chose the next book for my book club to read.

I told you it was eventful! Aside from attending opening night and enjoying SO MUCH SUN, the highlight of my weekend was the ceremony for the latest writing competition I entered. When I wrote the essay back in February, I wasn't sure that it was good enough. I didn't know if people would be able to "get" it. It was one of those pieces that was easy to write which sometimes means you're not giving it all you've got. Apparently, it was alright. Another thing that caught my by surprise was the fact that the person that I wrote about was sitting next to me at the ceremony. That is not something I expected to happen as I wrote the words on that Friday afternoon in February. I shouldn't have been surprised...God has a way of bringing the right people into our lives at just the right times.

Here we are. May is almost over, every day feels more like summer. Almost every evening reminds me of a night at the beach. Our routine is about to change around here again. I've got a trip to SC coming up FAST. In the meantime, life is purring along just like it always does. More on that later.

How was your weekend?

What have you been reading lately? 

DIY Iced Lattes

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

You guys, I've been making cold brew coffee for SIX years as of this summer. I remember when everyone was getting into it and I honestly didn't know that there were still people who don't know how to do it...You learn things on the internet. This week, I learned that there are still people who don't know how to make their own cold brewed coffee.

I also learned: That wind currents and the temperature of the ocean control humidity. That there are apparently cold coffee BREWERS. That Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, and Johnny Mercer all have versions of the song "Accentuate the Positive" out there. That there are 14 books about the Wizard of Oz. That Lukas Graham is a young white guy. 

Back to the cold brew coffee thing. Cold brew coffee is great. From about May until October, I almost always have a little jar of it tucked away on the top shelf of my fridge. I've been known to mix it with chai tea, sweetened condensed milk, Hershey's caramel syrup, or some homemade toasted marshmallow syrup (along with milk and ice, of course). 

All you need is coffee, water, some kind of strainer, a spoon, and a couple of glass jars.

You ready for this?

I don't have pictures of the process, because I think you can handle it on  your own.

Cold Brew Coffee

1 c. coffee grounds (I use Folger's Columbian Roast)
4 c. cold water

Place coffee grounds and water into a glass jar with a lid. Give it a few shakes and set it on the counter where you will let it sit for 8-12 hours or overnight.

Once the time is up, place a fine mesh strainer over the opening of a second glass jar and slowly pour the coffee into the jar through the strainer. (Our coffee pot has a basket that doesn't require filters, so that's what I use.) Use a spoon to scoop any remaining grounds into the strainer and very gently press the grounds with the back of the spoon to release any coffee that they have retained. Discard those pressed grounds. Pour the coffee back and forth between the two jars through the strainer a few more times until no grounds remain.

Place jar in fridge where it will keep until the coffee is used up. You'll find that this coffee is less bitter and yet stronger than regular coffee. Use about 1/3 cup cold brew coffee for a 20 oz. iced latte. 

* * *

Before I let you go...You're probably going to want that toasted marshmallow syrup recipe. Right? I have my friend Jayda to thank for getting me hooked on this at home version. I looked and looked for one and as is usually the case, somebody else googled it and found JUST what I was after. Thanks, Jayda! I owe you big time.

The original recipe makes more than I'll ever need. So, I make a small batch of it at a time.

Toasted Marshmallow Syrup

1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. water
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine brown sugar, granulated sugar, and water in a small pot over medium-high heat. Bring to boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, let simmer 2-3 minutes, stirring often.

Remove from heat, stir in vanilla extract.

Let cool completely and then transfer to a small glass jar (I use a tiny little pimento cheese jar) and store in fridge. Use about 1 1/2 tsp. syrup for a 20 oz. iced latte. 

* * *

Okay, now I've done my part in helping those of you who are still buying your cold brew coffee find a way around all that madness. Feel free to play with the coffee grounds to water ratio. I certainly have! 

If you need latte making tips, that's even easier than all this brewing and syrup making. It goes like this: Add syrup to your cup, top with coffee, top with milk (leaving room for plenty of ice), STIR, add ice, ENJOY.

Now you know everything I learned on the internet this week and a few things I learned in the 6+ years before that. 

What's your coffee story?

What did YOU learn on the internet this week?

The Way I Always Do

Monday, May 15, 2017

April 11, 2017

Back in April, I tagged along with my brother and sister and a few of my sister's friends on a hike. It was the first really warm day we'd had and the trail was buzzing with people. My sister and her friends meandered along while my brother and I took the lead. We stopped every now and then so that people could take pictures or look over the edge or do whatever it was they wanted to do with a short break. 

Somewhere along the way I decided to look for ferns. I didn't know why I wanted to find some so badly, but it seemed important. I told my brother that the woods don't seem like the woods without ferns. Things were really green and there were all these little yellow flowers everywhere, but I couldn't find a single fern. 

I shrugged my shoulders and let it go. We hiked on until we came to this clearing where we decided to set up a hammock and take a long break. My sister and her friends messed around with the hammock while my brother and I climbed around on the rocks. After a while, I took a seat in the sun and my brother took the camera to snap a few shots. 

I was keeping an eye on him, the way I always do when we're out and about, but eventually I lost sight of him. He had climbed down into a dip in the rocks. All of a sudden I heard him yell, "Ferns!"   He came back into view and held up the camera signaling that he'd found my ferns and had taken some pictures of them. I smiled, the way I always do when his sweetness reminds me just how much he loves me. 

Ferns remind me of summer camp and hikes and my grandparents' front porch. They remind me of the cool shade of the woods and nights spent going back and forth between the porch swing and catching lightning bugs. They remind me of growing up and growing old. They remind me of who I am and where I've been. They remind me of days gone by and days yet to come. Maybe that's why I was so set on finding some.

We found some ferns. We finished our hike. We smiled and laughed and took pictures. We made memories. 

A month later, I'm still thinking back on them. The way I always do. 

5 More Things About Me pt. 7

Friday, May 12, 2017

July 17, 2012 
I thought it would be fun to do a reading edition...So, here are five reading related facts about yours truly. Enjoy and be sure to share some facts of your own about YOU! 

Sidney Chambers is my literary crush. He takes theology seriously without being uptight or proud about it. He loves jazz. He cares about people. He's just an all around GOOD guy.

Rhett Butler, Mr. Rochester, and Delores Umbridge are the characters who upset me so much that I had to put the book down until I was ready to face them again. They didn't ruin the book for me, but each of them came close.

E.B. White, Mary Higgins Clark, Madeleine L'Engle, and F. Scott Fitzgerald are the top four writers who inspire me most. They are all very different, but what they have in common is a knowledge about how people think and a willingness to write honestly.  

The Beautiful and Damned, Persuasion, To Kill A Mockingbird, and The Outsiders are classics that I think everyone should read. It's never too late to dig into the classics. If they've intimidated you, begin with something written in the first half of the 20th Century. It's a great place to start!

Literary fiction, mysteries, thrillers, theology, and biographies are my go-to genres. Every now and then I'll pick up something else, but more often than not, these are the books you'll find floating around my house and car and bag.

What are some reading related things about you that I probably don't know?

On Faith

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

April 11, 2017
"By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, 'Through Isaac shall your offspring be had.' He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking he did receive him back."
Hebrews 11: 17 & 18

Faith is a word that carries a lot of meaning in the mind of the Christian. It is by faith that we became Christians. It is by faith that we attempt to live. It is something that we admire in one another and esteem pretty highly as far as virtues go.

We know people who pray about everything from parking places and food to the church around the world and concerns in the lives of people that they know. We know people whose every word of advice comes straight from Scripture. We know people whose very countenance is like a breath of fresh air. We know them and we long to be like them.

Last week, I had three different conversations about faith. As it usually goes when a theme shows up, I didn't go looking for it. Three different people brought faith up and had specific things to say about it. I listened and smiled and tucked the conversations away. Abraham came up multiple times, so I went digging for his story. We've heard it so many times and encouraged one another with it, but it was time for me to go back to look it over with fresh eyes.

Abraham's life illustrates the hand of God in the lives of His people. God tells His people to have faith and then He shows them how. He tests that faith and, if I'm honest, I don't know exactly what that testing looks like or how to recognize it. I only know that I know faith when I see it and that faith in the face of real life is absolutely beautiful.

Abraham believed. His faith prepared him to obey. Time and time again, he didn't know how it was going to work out, he only knew that it would. And that's what we need. We need to be patient. We need to believe. God will make a way, even when there doesn't seem to be any way. What is meant to be, will be.

There's more to this theme and we'll come back to it another day. For now, I just wanted to get some words on faith down. I don't know what you're going through or what you're waiting on. I don't know what God is calling you to bear or to enjoy. But, I know this: God means for His people to be men and women whose lives are marked by faith.

He may keep you waiting. He may call you to endure more than you think you can. Faith is about looking to God no matter what. It leads to obedience and peace and joy. Circumstances can really mix us up, but remembering that they are all in His hands means that we can face them with our chins up and shoulders straight. What is meant to be, will be.

May we have the faith that looks to God and to the day at hand with confidence in His good plan. May this faith stir up the kind of obedience that delights in God even when that seems hard or impossible. May our waiting and enduring and enjoying and obeying make it possible for those around us to say of us, "By faith ______, when ______, ______." It's been said of many before us and will be said of many after us. God is seeing to it. Remember that.

Whose faith do you admire?