The Seductive Proximity of January 1

Our affable goldendoodle, Tilly, soon to be two years old, has become enthralled in the world of squirrels. I feel confident that she does not mean them harm. I believe her understanding is that they are merely more creatures with which to romp and play. They sit on our back fence, eating the specialty bird feed we buy at the specialty feed store and put out for the specialty fancy birds. Birds of stately yellows and regal reds. Birds that will not tolerate unhusked sunflower seeds nor rub shoulder wings with common underlinings like crows or blue jays. The squirrels, however, give not a second thought to scraping leftovers off the ground, possessing neither dignity nor self-restraint. Squirrels are not too proud to pick among the weeds and filth at the feet of God’s more majestic creatures of flight.

We have a large window in our dining room that is low enough for Tilly to sit for hours watching the squirrels in action, or (more humiliatingly), she simply stares at the spot where the squirrel disappeared over the edge of the fence. Tilly is nothing if not hopeful that the furry creatures will return at any minute, this time to ask her to play. Her innocent enthusiasm is infectious.

The week between Christmas and New Years is an odd wormhole of time where many of us are not quite sure what to do with ourselves. We carefully wrap and box away Christmas ornaments while we simultaneously pack away the previous year: our high hopes, our realized disappointments, our many questions about the virginal new year that lies ahead.

What resolutions shall I make for this next year? Are they reasonable goals? Are they reachable? Are they lofty enough to challenge me to new growth? I have plenty of anecdotal proof that resolutions are often broken. I regularly chastise myself for the perennial goals I have yet to achieve. At what point am I too old to set to paper, goals I want to achieve in the new year? At what point do I allow life to simply unfurl before me without pre-determined resolve or intentional orchestration?

Each year we are reminded that there is nothing magical about the first day of a new year. And yet the secret places in my heart believe that there, in fact, is something special about an empty tablet lain open in front of me, words yet to be written, experiences yet to be had. A renewed opportunity to change, grow, evolve. Become the kind of person I’ve always aspired to be. My better angels win out over my cynical tendencies and I tell myself, yet again, there are new vistas to climb. There are character flaws to hone. There is service to give. There are people to love.

May we always be enticed by the seductive proximity of a new year hanging over our to do lists, calendars, values, life goals. May we always resolve to resolve for a better tomorrow. A stronger self. A more binding community. An ever-expanding understanding. We are not too old. We are not too failed. We are not too ‘too’. We have survived and thrived and met the challenges of each past year. We are capable. We are over-comers.

Make the New Year’s list of resolutions. Hold them with grace and forgiveness when you fall short but also know that you were brave enough to commit them to paper and therefore, strong enough to try again.

From our home to yours, we wish you the happiest and healthiest of new days ahead. We hold a warm and tender space for you in our hearts and in our home this new year.

– g

Cookiethon 2021

Since Scott has to work on Christmas Day, I’m putting together a big cookie tray for the other AWESOME essential workers and doing goodie bags for some neighbors.

It’s been a fun cookie making week!

I hope your Christmas is a blessed and happy one.

salty and sweet (and a little more salty)

Wow. Wow wow wow!

This was a new-to-me cookie recipe and I was THRILLED with the results. It is definitely for the lover of all things salty and sweet together – just like the happiest of couples.

Sea Salt Butterscotch Pretzel Cookies


INGREDIENTS:
1 cup butter
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped pretzels
flaked sea salt

DIRECTIONS:
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat then bring to a boil. Once the butter starts boiling, swirl the pan constantly until the butter passes the foamy phase and becomes a deep amber color. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the butter to cool for 20 minutes.

While the butter is cooling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and sea salt. Set aside.

Add the brown sugar, eggs and vanilla into the cooled butter in the saucepan and stir to combine. Pour this mixture into the bowl with the flour mixture. Stir using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until the dough comes together.

Stir in the butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, and pretzels.

Using a medium cookie scoop, drop the dough 2″ apart on the baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden.

After removing the cookies from the oven, sprinkle with flaked sea salt. Allow the cookies to cool for 2-3 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack.

I want to know if you make these so we can oooo and ahhhh together over their perfect combination. Could this be the most complete cookie ever created?? Arguably so.

Really (really!) Fantastically Soft Gingerbread Cookies

I posted this recipe on my Instagram and Facebook today and had some people message me about a printable copy. So because I’m such an awesome person, here is the printable recipe version.

These are seriously good gingerbread cookies. Soft center. Lightly crunchy outside. Just the right amount of spicy and sweet. (Wait. Are these my signature cookie? DOES ‘G’ STAND FOR GINGERBREAD?!)

The things we uncover when we blog…

G IS FOR GINGERBREAD cookies


INGREDIENTS:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons prepared dark coffee
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup sugar

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In medium bowl, combine flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt and baking soda

In mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in egg, coffee, and molasses. Slowly blend flour mixture into butter mixture until incorporated; scraping down the bowl sides and beaters.

Shape dough into 1″ balls and roll in sugar.

Place on parchment-lined baking sheet – 1″ apart

Bake for 12-14 minutes. After 5 minutes, move to cooling racks.

ENJOY!!

(Tomorrow’s post will be a delicious salty and sweet butterscotch and pretzel cookie!) Is this a food blog now?! I can’t help it – it’s Christmas and you might have a few desserts still to make and I’m here for you! There’s nothing I like more than a good homemade cookie.

Support a Creative

The most important thing you can give to the creative in your life are the words that say, ‘I did not see the discarded canvases. I did not see the proofread scripts. I did not see the crumbled clay or the wadded paper. I didn’t see the frustration or the doubt (……ever, the crippling doubt.) I did not see the original idea or the multiple versions before conclusion.

What I do see, however, is the final result which looks shiny and easy and as if it spilled out of you as a whole and finished work. I see the energy you’ve put into your work. I see you struggling against the odds and showing up again and again.’

Appreciating art of any kind is somewhat easy. Wrapping words of appreciation around the art and offering those words to the artist as acknowledgement of their efforts, can alter a Creative’s perspective.

In this season of giving – and please oh please, all year through – if you’ve been given something that came from the creative’s unique talent, know that your words of encouragement are the power that undergirds their next step. It might seem simple to you, but it is soul-giving to them.

To all the creatives trying to balance passion and self-doubt, you have a grateful friend in me.

A HISTORY OF WILD PLACES by Shea Ernshaw

I was opening my Book of the Month box just as my dad called yesterday. I told him what I was doing and he (84 years old) immediately said he remembered the first Book of the Month they ever received: Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962) He also said he remembered ordering To Kill a Mockingbird through BOTM. Can you imagine?! My parents’ neighbors told them about the iconic book club when they were a young couple and as a kid, I remember looking through the (magical!) catalog they received each month.

(This sounds like a commercial, doesn’t it? I promise it’s not. I’m just a fan.)

A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw was my selection for December. Magical realism is a genre I didn’t know I enjoyed until a few years ago. And oddly enough, I enjoy reading it the most in the winter months. This month’s selection sounds like a thrilling one.

Everything I have read about this book mentions the brilliance of the atmospheric experience you go through while reading it. You are completely immersed in the reclusive community of Pastoral as Travis – someone who has the uncanny gift of finding missing people by touching an object of theirs – dares to enter where he isn’t permitted. When he goes missing too, the plot thickens. 

I’m excited to jump in with Travis and see what we discover!

ROCK PAPER SCISSORS by Alice Feeney

“Shhhhhhut UP!”

That is what I yelled into my empty home. It was just me, alone, reading the twists in this fast-paced thriller. 

“Wait. What?!”, I continue my one-sided conversation as I rapidly flipped back to the earlier chapters.

I still have questions. I’ve never googled, so quickly, to compare plot ending explanations online. 

1. Main character has prosopagnosia, the inability to recognize faces.
2. Old, secluded chapel turned into a home (complete with church pews, iron keys and a crypt!)
3. Takes place between London and the Scottish Highlands, for pete’s sake.

Quick read (seriously – put away all responsibilities.) Few characters. Multiple plot twists. 

I’m going to fix me a stiff holiday elixir and catch my breath. 

“Most people see the writing on the walls, even if they can’t read what it says.”

Have you read it? Let’s compare notes! 

in the in-between

I read an interesting description of Advent this morning in Common Prayer. While describing Advent as a time of waiting and expectation, the author wrote that ‘we are the midwives of another world.’

That sent me into a quick Google search of what a midwife’s responsibilities are: educating the parents before labor, nurturing the mother in preparation for labor, assisting her during labor, and caring for the parents and the child after the child was born. 

A midwife has their feet in the before, during and the after. Some of those stages are sanguine and reflective. Some are stressful and highly charged. And yet throughout, a midwife must remain consistent and always at the ready. 

Days like yesterday seem like the stressful and highly charged times. Senseless death. Another pre-adult’s life ruined by a violent act. Many more traumatized for a lifetime. We wept. God wept. When will the new creation come? 

Giving Tuesday was also yesterday. A time to pour resources of money and time into charities doing important work. Midwives, themselves. 

We stand, firmly planted, in two worlds. Each promising new and exciting things. We cannot abandon one for the other. We must hold them both with great expectation. We cannot forsake our fellow earth traveler in lieu of mansions of gold. We must walk with them, feeling their deep pain when needed, keeping each other healthy and whole. And we cannot ignore our Heavenly Father’s directives for the enticement of momentary earthly gain. 

A midwife exists in the in-between space, filling it with reassurance and direction and a calm confidence. 

‘Will you let me be your servant,
Let me be as Christ to you;
Pray that I may have the grace to
Let you be my servant, too.

We are pilgrims on a journey,
We are trav’lers on the road;
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load.’
– The Servant Song