Gathering Graces 1/16/2017

*I started the morning going out to coffee with my sister Christy.  We went to a local coffee shop, “The Bean”, and both enjoyed a latte and a good visit.  Even though we live in the same town, we often don’t get time for just the two of us to get away and talk, so it was a very nice outing.
*  I found a show yesterday afternoon on Netflix called “Fannie’s Last Supper” that was fascinating to watch .  The premise of the show was following the process of Chris Kimball, the founder of Cook’s Illustrated magazine, who spent more than two years  of “research, recipe testing, and intense planning” in order to host a Victorian dinner based on the recipes of Fannie Farmer, author of The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, first published in 1896.  It all ended in a dinner party, complete with Victorian plate settings, and a 12-course dinner. 
* We finally put Christmas away at Mountain View Congregational Church, as Paul and I gathered with a few others to take down the trees, lights, garland, and other decorations that makes our church look festive for the Christmas season, and stored it all away until next year.     Then we all gathered together to pray before we left, leaving us uplifted and encouraged.


Gathering Graces

I am not sure when my brother Bill first posted his Three Beautiful Things, but they have become a daily ritual in my morning routine, and, since during most of the year he lives on the East Coast, while I live in the Northwest, it is nice to have a little snapshot of the beautiful things in his life on a daily basis.

Every so often I have thought of doing something similar,  but never have followed through on it.

But this  morning, I pondered this again, and did some brainstorming on what I could daily write about so I could share a snapshot with the people I love so they know on a daily basis what is going on in my life.

So I did some thinking, and looked at some books on my shelf, and it hit me....

"Gathering Graces".

That is what I am going to attempt to do from now on to keep a track for me personally the wonderful things that happen in my life on a daily basis, and to make these things a part of my family and friends near and far who may want a glimpse into my daily life, as I similarly get a glimpse into my brother's daily life.

As I looked at the word "Grace" it fits so well with what I want to share.

As a Christian, God granted me grace by redeeming my life from sin.

We can say "Grace" before a meal to give thanks.

We say someone has grace if they have seemingly effortless beauty or charm of movement, form or proportion.

Grace is also synonymous with mercy, kindness, and goodwill.

In Greek mythology, a Charis, or Grace is one of three or more minor goddesses of charm, beauty, nature, human creativity, and fertility, together known as the Charites or Graces.  The usual list, from youngest to oldest is Aglaea (Splendor), Euphrosyne (Mirth) and Thalia (Good Cheer).  In Roman mythology, they were known as the Gratiae, the "Graces".

Marble Statue Group of the Three Graces

So, today, my daily exercise of "Gathering Graces" begins.

Gathering Graces...1/15/2017

* Sharing Southern Gospel music during church this morning as we bid farewell to Pastor Gary, who has been our interim pastor at church this past year.  I was fortunate enough to get to know Pastor Gary at the beginning of last year, as he was part of the cast of the play "Shadowlands" that I directed and acted in at the Sixth Street Theater in Wallace.  Gary, himself, is full of grace in many ways, including mercy, kindness and goodwill.

* Oldest daughter Molly surprised us with a visit this weekend, and it is always fun to have her home, even if only for a short 24 hours.  Saturday night, Paul, Molly and I watched the latest 007 movie "Spectre", ate dinner at mom's house, and then on Sunday, Molly introduced me to the series, "The Flash".  And her dog Sadie always loves having her "mommy" home as well.

*I fixed stuffed green peppers for Mom for dinner tonight, and she really enjoyed them.  Paul also changed Mom's filter in her furnace while we were there, which was a big relief to Mom.  Paul and I came home, and finished the night with another movie, "Raiders of the Lost Ark". 


Sibling Photo Assignment 2016.11 The Starkness of the Trees of Autumn #3Siblings

Christy gave us the following sibling photo assignment:

What makes effective black and white photos? Is it the subject, the light, the composition? Take a series of photos in black and white, explaining why they are effective.

Christy has photos of her dogs here, and I will share Bill's photos when he is done here.

As I watched the leaves fall off the trees in and around my home, I thought they would be a good subject for this assignment.

For this series of photos, I think the black and white photos are effective because of the contrast of the dark branches and leaves against the lighter sky.  It also shows a clear definition of the leaves remaining on the branches.

Here are some of the black and white photos I took of  "The Starkness of the Trees of Autumn" around my house today.


Sibling Assignment 2016.6:I Don't Need Applause for my Cooking, but a "Taste's Great" would go a long way!! #3Siblings

Bill gave us this new Sibling Assignment:

Write about what's been occupying your mind in the world of food preparation. Have you been trying anything new and different? Are there recipes or cook books that have excited your imagination? Utensils? Appliances? I think you get the point -- go about this assignment however you'd like -- but write about your life in the kitchen, going back as far as you'd like.
You can see where Bill write about heat  and light here, and Christy writes about Reading the Cookbooks here.

 I have come to realize that I like to cook for other people in order to get positive feedback on what I have prepared.

I LOVE cooking.  But I went through a dry spell not wanting to cook anything.  As I look back, I think it was because I gave up trying to please the picky eaters in the family, and just quit.  I felt defeated, so I quit.  Oh, I would get something out on a plate, but it wasn’t about preparing a meal any more.

This changed when I started fixing meals for my mom in the evening.  I finally had someone who appreciated what I cooked for them.  And it made a difference in the time I took to plan and prepare the meal.

Now it is different with my husband Paul.  He is not picky, and pretty much likes everything I fix.  So maybe because there was not challenge, it was hard to fix something for just the two of us.

So I enjoy trying to find ways to prepare different meats Mom buys.  Tonight I am preparing a pork tenderloin.  We are having a family dinner at our house with Mom, Bill, Christy and Everett.  So what to prepare?   I still have some apples that need to be eaten, so I found a recipe where you roast the pork in sliced up apples and onions with a mustard/apple cider vinegar glaze.  It sound wonderful.  Then I have some vegetables I am going to roast, and fix a salad. 

My favorite meal of the year is Christmas Eve.  We pick a different country, and fix food from that country.  It usually consists of an appetizer, soup, salad, main dish, vegetable and dessert.  I love preparing these large meals with many courses.  I like being stretched to try another country’s cuisine.
My best friend April has moved to Italy.  Before she left, our other best friend Kellee and I prepared for her an Italian dinner using a mostacciolli recipe that I had received from Kellee's mom when I was in junior high.  I loved finding that recipe and preparing it for April, because there was a connection with not only Kellee's mom (who recently passed away), but also a relative of April's who probably shared the recipe with Kellee's mom.  And I loved it when I heard the words "This is delicious".  It warmed my heart.

When I began cooking, I remember Mom giving me free rein in the kitchen.  No hovering.  No asking me questions.  I picked a recipe, and figured it out.  The first cake I made from scratch was a pineapple upside down cake in a skillet.  I remember making Sauerbraten.  And this was I was in grade school and junior high.  I like trying different things.  And my dad, bless his heart, would at least try them. 

Lately I have been getting back into food preservation again.  This year there was a bumper crop of apples, so friends passed on some of their crop to us.  I have canned apple pie filling and made apple butter.  But no crock pot apple butter for me.  I went through the process of cooking down the apples, then putting them through a food mill to get the pulp, then cooking the pulp for about 2 hours or more after mixing it with apple cider vinegar, sugar and cinnamon.  Then processed them in the canner.

I also made some jam.  I still have other fruit in my freezer that I want to make into jam.  I have also been baking pies lately.  I love baking pies.  Pies are my favorite dessert, when they are made right. 

One of the questions posed in this assignment was, “Are there recipes or cook books that have excited your imagination?”  I feel like I have been going back to basics with some of my cooking.  My red Betty Crocker cookbook gets pulled out the most.  I loved it when my daughter Zoe wanted to make Macaroni and Cheese for a work potluck, and wanted my recipe, because she likes it the best.  All I had to do was snap a photo of the recipe in the Betty Crocker cookbook and send it her way.  My pie crust comes from that cookbook.  I also have some recipe collection cookbooks I received as wedding gifts that have some of my favorite recipes.

Pinterest has become a fun way to find recipes, too.  That is where I found the recipe for preparing tonight’s pork loin.  And Friday night, Mom wanted potato soup, but a very plain potato soup.  Pinterest came to the rescue.  I modified it a bit, but it worked!!

So I move onward in my meal preparations, and wait in anticipation for the sounds of "Mmm mmm good"!!


Sibling Photo Assignment 2016.10: Road Trip to Gonzaga University #3Siblings

Christy assigned us to get in the car and take pictures wherever the road takes us and to write about why we went where we did.

I didn't get in a car, but a school bus.  And the road took me to Spokane, Washington with a group of 27 Kellogg High School juniors who wanted to visit the Gonzaga University campus.

Planning a college visit the first part of November can be risky, because of the weather.  It could be pouring down rain, it could be windy, it could be snowing.

But we experienced none of that on this trip.  After one of the wettest October's on record, November has proven to be a bit more sunny.  And the GU campus was beautiful.  Below are some of the photos of the campus I took on this day filled with blue sky, sunshine and God's magnificent display of fall colors.

Before you check out my photos, here are links to Bill's photos of New York City, and Christy's photos of Priest Lake.

We left Kellogg High School around 8 a.m. that morning, and arrived on the GU campus between 9:30 a.m. and 10.  Here are some of the views that I got to experience that day on campus.


Sibling Photo Assignment 2016.9: Things That Bring Me Comfort #3Siblings

"Create a series of pictures that depict a sense of comfort."

This is this week's photo sibling assignment Christy assigned to us.

Brother Bill's photos are here, and Christy's photos are here.

Today was a good day to take these photos, because today wasn't a good day.

I needed comfort. 

After a breakdown this afternoon that involved the shedding of many tears, I took advantage of the many comforts around my home.
Hugs from Paul always bring me comfort.

Spending time in the kitchen also brings me comfort.  Today I canned apple pie filling, and the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg brought me much comfort.
Pie is my favorite dessert.  Today I made an apple pie, and it brought comfort, especially when I got to eat it!!

 I love this blue quilt.  It is the blanket in our closet that brings me the most comfort.

A crackling fire always brings me comfort.  I love having a fireplace in our home (actually two fireplaces), and the warmth from the fire brings much comfort, especially on a cold evening.



Sibling Photo Assignment 2016.8 I See Rain #3Siblings

Last week Christy assigned us an Art Where We Walk assignment to look down. on the ground and take photos.

This week, our "Art Where We Walk" assignment part 2 from Christy is as follows:

This week we will be looking up. Create a series of photos by finding art while looking up.

This morning Kellogg was visited by a short lived rainfall, and I grabbed the camera to take some photos of the rain.

Here is how the rainfall was captured around my house in the backyard.  If you scroll from one photo to the next, it looks as if the rain falls from one photo to the next.