August 31, 2007

To be innarticulate

Occasionally I stumble on blog posts out in the interworld to which I would dearly love to give a response. This one here that I found while link hopping is among those. However I have this problem that in the face a blustering and sarcastic (and unquestionable clever) blogger (often male) I find myself scrambling for arguments that won't leave me painted into some corner or forced into taking up a position which I don't really hold. I know there are good arguments against such thinking as his. I myself would say that his main failing is in his weakened sense of Christian culture. But how to articulate that to someone who has rejected so many of the tenets which inform my understanding? These men are very good at what they do. The gift of gab is in their mouths and they often have a sort of bench press persuasiveness about them which mocks my girly-biceped remonstrations. And many of them are demonstrably smart. So what's a girl to do? What are any of us to do when we sense instinctively that an argument is built on cow pats or we see the jagged cracks between their thesis and the panorama of God's Word? What do we do when God's Word is questioned and fragmented to suit their own logic? I'm inclined to wish at such times that I was a man trained in History and Theology to put the finger to their flaws and crack their argument like rotten nuts. But, being me, I simply add another book or five to my imaginary reading list and pray that someday someone with more brains than me will set them right or that God Himself will see fit to point them to the true paths. Other than that I mainly bide my peace knowing that imperfect logic or knowledge on my end with likely invalidate in their eyes anything of value I might say. It's frustrating, but that's the way it is right now.

August 30, 2007

Baked Tacos with Margarita Chicken

This recipe still needs a little fine tuning to get all the flavors balanced out (I sorta got too happy with the cumin and jalapeños), but I thought it was worth noting down here. Helps me keep track of all the recipes I've dreamed up :D.


2-3lbs chicken pieces pounded thin
1 very large onion
3 yellow bell peppers
3 c Monterey cheese grated
aprox 1c chopped cilantro
minced garlic
heavy cream
Triple Sec
Lime juice


Chicken Marinade:

Combine 3tbs tequila, 1tbs Triple Sec, and 3tbs lime juice with 1tbs salt and a dash of coarse ground pepper and pour into a gallon ziplock bag with chicken pieces. I pounded my chicken out somewhat and pricked it over with a fork to help absorb the flavors. Let marinade for several hours before grilling and cutting into small cubes.


Sautee pepper and onion together with a couple tbs minced garlic, 2tbs finely chopped jalapeños, a liberal sprinkling of cumin, and a dash each salt and pepper. Cook until tender. In a separate saucepan melt together 2c cheese with a splash of cream and 2tbs butter until you get a thick cheese sauce. Stir in cheese, chicken, and cilantro. Spoon mixture into tortillas and fold into tacos. Lay tacos overlapping in a greased casserole dish and sprinkle cheese over the middle.

Bake at 325 for 10-15min.

Makes about 8 thick tacos or probably 10 enchiladas.

P.S. usual caveat about measurements.

August 29, 2007

On the same note as below...........knickknack paddy whack

Let the carpets lie as they may I've been far more interested in fussing over the frivolities on my mantle piece than in the breeding habits of dust bunnies. I really should post pictures sometime when I get this place cleaned up enough to go on display. Over the past few weeks I've amassed a very modest collection of gewgaws, and I'm rather pleased at how they add to the place. It's really been quite fun. I've spent so much energy the past few months on practical and useful that I've enjoyed the chance to do a little pure decorating.

August 28, 2007

Organizing and decorating

My poor brain has been fluttering around with ideas for making things nice around here -so much in fact that I haven't been able to settle down to my normal chores and instead find myself flying off to Hobby Lobby, sales flier in hand, to track down some artificial flowers for the bathroom and hearth. Hardly a model of productivity! However yesterday while I was resolutely trying to complete something (tired+scatterbrained/=productive day) I did get the bathroom rather more organized that it's been in ages. I even threw out a vulgar plastic chest I received as part of a gift some years ago and in which I had been storing makeup and sundries. It's really funny how things come together. While I was looking for a new bag I came across some bathroom accessories that coordinated nicely (and actually looked nice themselves) with the odd brownish grayish mottled wallpaper in our bathroom and that matched the bag I was holding in my hand. I adore purple, but due to the various color combinations available to me when we got married I don't have anywhere in the apartment where purple really fits. But now I have my bathroom. There's purple flowers on the soap dispenser and toothbrush holder and my violet makeup bag on top of the cabinet, and just today I went out and bought some really nice purple and white artificial flowers and some ivy and twined them all in around each other with the flowers in a little jar filled with shells collected from here and there. Those are on the shelves over the toilet. Then there's another dish holding a candle surrounded by my prettiest beach findings sitting on the bathroom counter. All I want now is a tiny decorative rug to put down on the floor in front of the sink, and I think I will be perfectly happy with that room. It really is fun to put things together. I also think it makes it easier to keep up with things when they really look as though you'd put some thought and effort into arranging things.

August 27, 2007

Oh bother!

Since I keep hearing about the movie Wives and Daughters I decided to put it in our Netflix queue. Allen and I got about halfway through it and were putting in the other disc to watch one more chapter when we realized that they had sent us two copies of disc 1 leaving us with Molly crying on the stairs and us not having the faintest idea what would come next. Quite aggravating to be sure.
So far though both of are really enjoying it, and we've been having a wonderful time dissecting the characters and making predictions about what might happen later. I thought it might be too chick flick-ish for Allen, but he does read and enjoy Austen. Can't wait until Netflix sends us a replacement disc so we can keep watching.

August 24, 2007

foggy day in my head

After having three really great days I've crashed into a slump. My appetite has gotten all iffy, and my head is in a dull fog. Errg, this is not how I wanted to end this week. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

August 22, 2007

One pot mind

I'm sure some of you newlywed ladies from large families can relate. You start making soup and by the time you've added the spinach, zucchini, grated carrots, and those half dozen mushrooms left over from last night you find yourself with a brimming pot of soup more suitable to feeding your four brothers than you and your beloved. When I think soup and look at my pot I can't seem to get the proportions right for less than a full pot. Even when I set my sights determinedly at some point halfway up the side my hands go on their accustomed way until, lo! A soup fit for a dozen is simmering away on my stove top. Since it tends to be very good soup I can't really complain, but I'm afraid I must submit myself to the inevitable and admit that I have a one pot mind.

More on innocence

Re-reading my post and a couple of the comments posted on it I want to say that I fully recognize that what I wrote isn't by any means exhaustive on the subject. Just doing a brief word search of the Bible for the word "innocent" shows that it is used by many different people and in many different contexts. Even though I believe it's vitally important that we use words correctly I likewise affirm that words aren't static and unbending. They are imbued with nuances that can only be brought out by a full awareness of their contexts. I encourage anyone reading this who might have questions to do their own word search and study to draw their own conclusions as to how God uses this word.

August 20, 2007

Domestic garlic

I've just been in my kitchen mincing garlic and making Italian salad dressing with lots of pesto and fresh garlic.I feel so very domestic and housewifely knowing that my fridge now contains a green bottle of homemade salad dressing and a jar of fresh minced garlic preserved in olive oil.

Original Innocence?

Women will occasionally talk about the importance of protecting the "innocence" of their children -particularly their younger children. I've talked to Allen about this, and we both agree that theologically it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. If we want to locate this philosophy in the history of ideas we would shelve it near Rousseau and Blake and at least half a dozen rows to the left of Augustine. The Apostle Paul would be in an entirely separate wing. Delve into any number of writers from the Romantic Era and you'll see blithe depictions of innocent man in his infancy. The varying shades in which their souls are painted may vary from the innocuous gray of a blank slate having no original bent or aim and guided solely by impressions and experiences, or their souls might be covered in the glittering white of primeval innocence whose pristine surface is smudged only by the black soot of civilization. In either case man is felt to arrive in a state of innocence or at least neutrality regarding moral issues. Contrast this with Ps. 58:3. "The wicked are estranged from the womb;they go astray from birth, speaking lies." Consider also Roman 5:12. "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned." There are other verses of course, but these two make it pretty plain to me that, since we are sinful from birth, when we talk about the innocence of children we're really talking about something different than literal moral innocence. One of the things that emerged from my conversation with Allen is the idea that instead of protecting innocence we are training in innocence. How's that? Well indulge me a minute while I line up my axioms. 1. Christ being the perfect Son of God was innocent of all the charges brought against Him. 2. We have been clothed with Christ's righteousness, and 3. we are growing daily in the image of Christ (eg sanctification). Add to this a fourth premise that (4) we arrived on this earth already possessed of a fully functioning sin nature. The conclusion I draw from this is that it's the nature of the Gospel and the Christian life to grow more fully innocent the longer you live. Of course this is a different kind of innocence than the chasing after rainbows and puppy dogs sort that we associate with children, but I believe it's a Biblical definition.

August 19, 2007

The very best Pecan Pie ever

The only thing Allen requested for his homecoming was a pecan pie. I had been going to make one for our anniversary, but since we already had plenty of sweets from going out and nibbling on year old wedding cake he suggested I save it for when he came back. I got this recipe from Allen's mom, and it really is wonderful. If you have trouble finding the different sweeteners check your health food store or coop. Even though this is a "health food version" I think the real advantage of the succanat and brown rice syrup is that you get a much richer flavor that isn't too sweet.

Pecan Pie


1 c brown rice syrup
1/2 c succanat (dehydrated cane juice)
1 stick butter
1 3/4 cup pecans coarsely chopped (toasted if you wish)
4 eggs
pinch salt
dash vanilla extract

In a small sauce pan melt together first three ingredients until succanat is dissolved. Lightly whisk eggs together, add the pecans, and slowly mix in the syrup (first making sure it's not hot enough to curdle the eggs). Add salt and vanilla and pour into an unbaked pie shell. Protect the edges with foil and bake for 15min at 425. Then remove the foil and bake for 20min at 350.

Allen's Home!!!

Allen was hailed up North last week to get together with some of his partners in programming (aka boss and coworkers). That left me all by my lonesome...or would have if it wasn't for the fact that Grandmom and Granddad (and my mother-in-law) urged me to come spend some time with them while Allen was away. It's still surprises me a bit how much Allen's family just plain old likes being around me. When they found out Allen was leaving for a week the general attitude among them amounted to "Hot diggity dog, we get Natalie all to ourselves for a while." Like I said, it still surprises me at times, but I surely do appreciate their kindnesses. It kept me from getting morbidly lonely while Allen was up in New England. I tell you, the moment I walked back into that apartment from dropping Allen off at the airport it felt like the very life had been sucked out of the place. It didn't feel right again until Allen came home Saturday evening.I'm so glad he's back.

August 8, 2007

Lemon Curd

Ok, someone (sorry I don't remember who) asked for my lemon curd recipe. I would have used Grandmom's recipe if I'd had a little more time, but this one was easy and good (and smaller). I think I added more lemon zest than the recipe actually called for since we're big lemon fans. Otherwise I followed the rules. We ate ours with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Perfect Lemon Curd (from


* 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
* 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 3 eggs
* 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed


1. In a 2 quart saucepan, combine lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, eggs, and butter. Cook over medium-low heat until thick enough to hold marks from whisk, and first bubble appears on surface, about 6 minutes.

oh for a cottage in Maine

Every time I see a LL Bean Home catalog I wish I could do my place over in Maine cottage style. When I was young and single I actually used to design whole rooms out of LL Bean catalogs. Now that I'm older and married and don't have the privilege of imaginary bank accounts I look a bit more wistfully. Still, with a little luck and some spray paint I think I'll manage all right till hubby hits the bit time. I almost think I have more fun figuring out how to make inexpensive furniture stand in for really good stuff than I would just hitting the order button.

August 6, 2007

Anniversary Flowers

Our anniversary ended yesterday in roses. Beautiful things.


A blossom and its reflection from the trio my husband had waiting at the restaurant.


The top layer of our wedding cake sprinkled with flowers as it was a year ago.


Roses on the hearth...


and the table.


A lovely crystal bowl of blooms.


A tiny bunch for my bedside.

August 5, 2007

Happy first anniversary to us!

It's been one year today!

August 3, 2007

More GLH and other goodies

I've been puttering around on Ebay a fair bit for the past week or so. The result? Two vintage patterns (one with the duckiest neckline and sleeves) and several boxes of GLH paperbacks. I just got my first box in today which turned out to be a delightful mix of old favorites and new discoveries. I added up what I'd spent for all the books I'd bought on Ebay, and they came out to less than a dollar a piece including S&H. They're all paperbacks of course, but I don't mind spending a lot less money for a decent paperback. When all's said and done I know I'm going to end up with a few duplicates which I will hopefully remember to make available from here. If I forget then just throw pebbles at my window until I do.

Ok, I'm off to Daniel Deronda (Elliot, not GLH).

Festive meatloaf

Tonight's meatloaf was a hodgepodge of remembered tricks and impressions from Mom and Grandmom and recipes that I browsed through at Since Allen ok'd it though I thought perhaps I'd share tonight's version. As always, measurements are estimates so go by your own instincts if you try this yourself.


1-1 1/2lb ground beef
3 eggs
1 bulb garlic grated
1 can tomato paste
1 c rolled oats
1 large onion well chopped
1 green bell pepper well chopped.
1/2 basket of baby portobello mushrooms chopped
3-4 tbs finely chopped jalapeno peppers
1lb very sharp chedder cubed (about pea size)
generous splash Braggs Amino Acids (or soy/Worcestershire sauce)...about 2tbs
dash each tobasco and cayenne pepper (to taste)
salt and pepper.

(Since our beef is grass fed from my in-law's farm and tends to be extremely lean I added in a little grape seed oil to make sure things were moist and held together.)


Chop, stir, grate, mix, pop in a pan, and bake on 350 for about an hour.

It turned out a little on the spicy side, but otherwise it was very moist and flavorful. Although I'll probably do some free handing off it in the future, I think this is going to be my basic meatloaf recipe. Little bit Mom, little bit Grandmom, all the way me.

August 2, 2007

A feast of no occasion

Today between tossing bits of chopped onion in a mixing bowl and getting the dishwasher ready to go I was struck by the sudden urge to whip up a little something extra that Allen would like. I really do have the dearest and wonderfulest of all husbands, and I decided to take advantage of my unexpected burst of energy and give him a treat. So I rushed out for some cream and eggs and a lemon, and while my meatloaf was baking I dashed off a batch of lemon curd that actually turned out pretty well considering it was my first attempt. This isn't anything I planned beforehand at all, but we ended up having quite a gay little feast. It helped that Allen had finished work by this time and could help me wrap a few loose ends in the kitchen. Then, while the veggies were steaming we whisked away the day's clutter in the living room, shut the door on the clothes waiting to be put away in the bedroom, and lit some candles over our little feast table. That meatloaf certainly did look nice sitting there with the candle light flickering over its dark, crumbly self, but the best part was us just sitting there together enjoying it and each other.It really wasn't anything too terribly special -just meatloaf and brown rice with steamed veggies. It didn't have to be though. Candles and lemon curd cooked on the spur of the moment and lovely heavy cream waiting in the fridge to be whipped up in delightful accompaniment and, above all, the warm impulse in each each of us to celebrate "just because" was more than enough to create a feast of no occasion. After dinner Allen stacked the dishes and got the movie started (perfect timing NetFlix) while I whipped the cream and got out the dessert things. Then we settled back with our curds and cream to watch a wonderfully fun Deana Durbin film and enjoy the last of our little impromptu celebration.

Times like these are one of the reasons I love being married to Allen. We've always enjoyed fun little things like this. I'd say that some of our visits to that little BBQ place outside Amicalola Falls SP counted as feasts of no occasion. The food wasn't fancy, but it was all it was supposed to be in the perfect place for it to be. It exactly suited the occasion, and we reveled in it. Then there was the time that Allen and I were sitting at the dinner table talking about how much we'd like to go back to the Melting Pot. I was particularly talking about how much I'd like some chocolate fondue. Then before I knew it we were running around improving a double boiler to melt the chocolate in and running off to buy chocolate and fixings. We put the chocolate in a pyrex dish which we kept warm by means of putting my steamer basket over a tea candle and setting the pyrex dish on top. Pop a Nero Wolf dvd in the computer and behold tradition unrolling before you. Now however we have a proper fondue pot which my mother-in-law rather laughingly thought we'd rather use than my upturned steamer basket.

Regular feasts are good. Fasting is good for time. Plain, simple meals that do the job and leave you satisfied are good and welcome. But it's such a delight and a blessing when for no reason at all you decide to spontaneously enjoy the thrill of being yourselves together in the palm of God's hand. It's good to pull the magic out of a meatloaf.

August 1, 2007

Rum in my tummy...I wish

It's not as though I even really averaged a drink per week, but every once in a while I chafe a little. I may sample varied cheeses at the grocery store or compare imported chocolate, but no more do I sip of Dionysus's cellars. It's aggravating when there are so many different tastes to be explored in all their various permutations and applications. For instance, what's the difference between good whiskey and bad whiskey or between whiskey and scotch? What do whiskey and scotch even taste like at all? And what of the wines I haven't sampled and the laced coffee drinks I haven't sipped? Oh I know that it's all for a better cause and that there will be time enough later for these things, but you must admit that between exploring the possibilities in a parsnip and those in a spiced rum it's not hard to see where the romance lies. For now though I suppose I will have to be content with cheese and chocolate (and perhaps parsnips), but be forewarned that I have several recipes for yummy rummy Christmas drinks, and I fully intent to use them.