Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Making bread and other tranquil things

I got one of those ideas in my head a couple weeks ago. I wanted to make bread. 

I could see myself quietly kneading the dough, rolling in the yeast, slowly, methodically, rhythmically. Connecting with an ancient tradition. It seemed so lovely.

Josh told me we had yeast, which I didn't think we had. It stressed me out a little to know that because that meant I really had no obstacles between me and the bread-making fantasy. 

Then I realized we had no flour because the weevils got to it. Which made me feel better.

Something about making things from scratch turns this girl a little nervous. I'm so afraid to mess it up. I'm afraid the moments in my head will turn into flour-covered disaster, with John careening through the house covered in white powder. And suddenly the walls and the furniture need to be cleaned. And the bread would be forgotten.

A moment made more tragic less by mess and more by disappointment.

So I went to the store and I bought more yeast. I told myself the old yeast might have gone bad. And I bought wheat flour since I believe that I am into that sort of thing, even though I drink Coke and eat candy bars. 

I put the molasses and the oil on the counter with the measuring cups. And then I waited some more. Bread-making required the perfect moment. I just needed to wait for it. 

Tonight my friends are coming for dinner. My friend who cooks with a Julia Child's cookbook, who knows how to poach an egg.

It's a good thing she is not judgmental. 

In my internet searchings, I found this short film from Kinfolk, the hipster crowd you secretly want to hang out with. They make everyday life look extravagantly beautiful with their aged film treatment and typography, the nearly-sedating music. It's nearly impossible to be stressed while watching this film. I realize the unidentified star of this film doesn't have a two year-old in the background who just lobbed his toothbrush into the toilet. 

But still, it's so peaceful, so slow. You can't rush, can't hyperventilate. Please enjoy this beautiful film and reconnect with slowness. 

the art of making bread from tiger in a jar on Vimeo.

After viewing this, I did make my own bread. How could I not? John was down for a nap, and the house went quiet. I tuned in to the Album Leaf station on Pandora, lit a candle, and gave myself the hours. Here is the recipe I used, which is a video from All Recipes. It's pretty tranquil as well.

Here is the result of my process. I was proud. Not bad for a first-timer.

The recipe did make three loaves. I gave one way and gobbled up the rest with help from the boys. It's something I will certainly do again soon.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Why we need all five

I've been craving curry lately. Spicy things: salsa...that's all I can think of.

It's one of those times I wonder if I'm pregnant.  Oh, wait. I always do. 

As I sat finishing my Thai yellow curry this afternoon, skin sweating just a little, nose on the runny side, I thought about what this biological urge for spicy might mean. And it reminded me the Chinese already figured it out. 

Our bodies need five flavors to function, to maintain life flow and balance. I'm not sure what to make of their theory of qi and all that, but they're onto something with their approach to diet and health.

According to this article from PingMing Health, each of the five flavors in food impact a specific essential organ. I find this so fascinating. 

Heart – Bitter
Liver – Sour
Spleen – Sweet
Lung – Spicy
Kidney – Salty

The functions of each flavor are relatively vague, but the article goes into more detail for each element. I recommend you read it.

Sour flavour can calm the body.
Bitter flavour can clear heat.
Sweet flavour can tonify the body.
Spicy flavour can expel wind and cold from the body.
Salty flavour can help the body to dissolve stagnation.

[photo cred:]
The article describes the path of each food and how cravings aid in diagnosis: 
"The famous ancient traditional Chinese medical text, Huangdi Neiing, records that after eating, sour flavoured foods goes to the liver first, bitter flavour goes to the heart first, sweet flavour go to the spleen first, spicy flavour goes to the lung first, and salty flavour goes to the kidney first. 
The organs try to balance themselves through your diet. When an organ is sick, the body can tell you what organ may be impaired through cravings for a particular taste.In the clinic, we consider the flavours as part of the traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis, to discover what organs may be in disorder. 
For example, my clients often complain of cravings for sweets, which usually indicates spleen deficiency, because the spleen organ likes sweets."
And of course, floaty philosopher that I am, I wonder what this tells us about our souls. How we stay in balanced in life. 

And maybe how sometimes, the adventures or relationships we crave reveal the imbalances and lacks in our "soul diet"

Sometimes life offers us the flavor. A death of a loved one, the ending of a relationship, a hope or goal that fizzles on impact: these can send us reeling. And suddenly we're in a new flavored season, one of sour or bitter. 

Primal beings that we are, we seek pleasure and avoid pain. We nearly always want sweet, or at least, we aim to avoid the bitter and the sour. But sometimes they come to us, and there is a balancing that happens. 

These moments of pain and sorrow are the ones that make us human. We stop doubting Jesus' humanity when we see his loneliness and fear in the garden of Eden, his compassion at the lost hearts of people  who had no one to care for them, his grief when his friends, Lazarus and John, died. 

His humanity is vibrantly on display maybe not as much in his laughter or statements of irony, but most in his aching. 

Pain makes us raw; reveals who we are. We stop propping up facades, and painful as it is, it's nice to let the fake go for a while. Maybe forever.

Then sometimes, we go in search of the missing flavors. We can feel our lives are missing the spicy, the adventures, the unexpected. Or the sweetness of companionship or feeling rightly fitted somewhere. 

And I think that says something about where we are and what we need. In other words, the experiences we seek reveal what is missing. Seems obvious, right? 

The problem arises when we try to forge the adventure ourselves, when we stop trusting in Someone who loves us more and out of fear of getting left out or being alone forever, we try to create the missing thing.

But it often feels empty when we do it ourselves. 

I don't know what else to say but this: He made you this way, made me this way. He wants me to taste all the flavors. Wants his life flow active in my veins and mind and spirit. He wants me to taste the sweet, to have the spicy of adventure and the alive of the sour and the bitter. It's all part of being human. 

And Jesus is there to remember with us in vivid color what it feels like to be fully alive, fully human, fully here. And he is fully with us. Always. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Crazy For Love Day 7: Lindsey + Ryan (and the whole family)

Today is our last day of the Crazy For Love series. It's a story sent in by Lindsey, mom of two littles and the wife of Ryan. She lives her dream out at Beyond Motherhood, recording the moments of parenting two kids less than two years apart. I admit I don't know how she does it. 

She wanted to share a few of the things she loves about her family, and she couldn't pick just one of them. Read on for Lindsey's list of things she loves:

"These are the ones I love. My first and true love, Ryan. The patient man whose calm strength guides our family.  The little people who run wild with big smiles and never ending energy. 
Our daughter Sarah, who is full of curiosity, spunk, and a healthy dose of drama.  
Our little guy Andrew, whose smile can light up a room and who is a source of laughter and joy.  
This is my family. When I look into their eyes, I see purpose, futures, potential, and lots of love!"
This concludes our wild week of Crazy For Love stories
Thanks for reading. It's been so wonderful to hear from readers who have lives full of love, hasn't it? And it's been a great reminder to me to slow down and appreciate the beauty of my favorite people. I hope you've benefited from the stories as well.

Now it's our turn to be Crazy For Love, not just once a year or around the holidays, in everything, and especially in the small things. 

Let's live lives full, enjoying and soaking up the precious moments with our favorites. 

Soak them up, everyone. Soak them up.

{If you've missed a few of the stories, don't worry. Click here to read the entire series.}

Friday, February 15, 2013

Crazy For Love Day 6: Jessica + Ryan

Today's Crazy For Love story comes to us from the East Coast, and really, it started all the way across the ocean, in Madrid, Spain, just a few years ago. It's a love story from my friend, "Ica", also known and Jessica and the love of her life, Ryan. 

I remember when Ica was just getting to know Ryan, just letting herself fall in love, scary as it was. And we gushed across the miles, hoping the feeling was mutual. 

And boy, was it! 

It was a great day when they finally shared their "I like you too" feelings, and then the whole thing took off. These two are a pair I don't get to see often, but I thoroughly love it when I do. Their love for each other and for life is contagious. They know how to enjoy extravagance and simplicity, and how to make any old day fun and adventurous. 

So let me introduce to you: Ryan + Jessica.

Oh my gosh, these two. They are such a crack up. I like them a lot.

Jessica tells us the story of what she was looking for most in a mate, and the moment she found it in Ryan. Here it is:

I asked him, “Would you describe yourself as whimsical?”
It was the first time we walked together in the city where we eventually fell in love.

He looked slightly amused and confused and didn’t stifle the laugh as he replied “Hmmm, I don’t know how to respond to that, why do you ask?

I didn’t answer, I need not have asked in the first place. He was whimsical, I knew it. And this meant that he possessed one of the most important qualities I was looking for in a soul mate. Life became a little more intriguing.

So we spent many days together that hot, dry August in Madrid. We wandered about the deserted city- long meandering walks where we spoke of life, music, people and nonsense. We ate red velvet cake with summer berries and always kept our eyes peeled for the rarely seen Spanish squirrels. He rode the carousel with me and wholeheartedly agreed that we should ride the pigs instead of the horses, giving them names and voicing their animated pig conversations as we swirled around.

“I like you.”
“Because you play my games.”

I am introverted, oh so introverted...happy as a little clam to be alone, drinking in the world around me and smiling at its peculiarities. But, here was someone who noticed those same peculiarities and wanted to smile with me. What great fun it was! I had never felt so completely free to share the ridiculous part of myself. And, even more than that, to know that it is appreciated and loved. 

He is a writer, a musician- an artist. He knows how to feel the fullness of life’s seriousness and has a beautiful way of expressing that which is solemn or even dark. This is one of the things I deeply admire about him. 
But...what do I love about him? I love that he is whimsical.

Do tell. Could two people be more whimsical than this. 

Happy Love Week, Month and Life to you both! And to all of us. Jessica, thank you for reminding us that playfulness, fun and friendship are what make relationships last. 
{We only have one more day in our Crazy For Love series, the story of sweet family of four. Stay tuned.}

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Crazy For Love Day 5: Deb + Tom

{Happy Valentine's Day, Everyone}

Today is Day 5 of 7 in our Crazy for Love series.

I chose this Crazy For Love submission from Deb for Valentine's Day because I think this couple is an excellent example of what it means to love each other for life. And not just that. They let their love overflow into the lives of others. Many of my friends and I have benefited from Tom and Deb's fun-loving, playful, God-centered relationship. 

Let me introduce to you: Tom and Deb

Here's what Deb has to say about what she loves about Tom:

"We will have been married for 33 years in May and are still very best friends. We finish each other's sentences or often don't even need to talk because we know what each other is thinking. We are living out the One-ness of marriage and act as a unit in all that we do. God blessed us with each other and He knew exactly what He was doing! All His ways are good!"

Let's take that little bite of wisdom from their story and let it become our own. Thanks, Deb.

{Just because it's Valentine's Day doesn't mean the love stops tomorrow. Two more days of Crazy For Love stories coming your way. And then, we get to keep the Crazy Love on all year.}

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Crazy For Love Day 4: Cris + TJ

Today's Crazy For Love story shows a determined kind of love. It's a love story between two Soldiers, which withstood the test of years of service to our country. Our submission is from Cris, who makes no fanfare of her and her husband's loyalty to our nation, but we can appreciate the strength of their love knowing the pressure and transition it withstood.

Here's to you, Cris and TJ. Thank you for your service to our country. We are grateful. May you have many more years together, enjoying each other's company. We hope your friendship only grows through the years.

Let me introduce to you our Crazy For Love story of the day: Cris and TJ. 

Here's what Cris has to say about her hubby and the love of her life, TJ:

"After 15 years of marriage, he still says please, thank you, excuse me, and I'm sorry. He brings me a towel every night when I forget and scrapes ice from my windshield in the winter. He cries during Grey's Anatomy and laughs during Big Bang Theory. He is my perfect match."

15 years? Isn't that awesome? I'm always inspired by couples who are still in love and admire each other after being married for several years. Thank you for sharing, Cris. 

{Stay tuned for daily Crazy For Love stories all week in celebration of Valentine's Day}

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Crazy For Love Day 3: Faith + Joe

This is our third installment in the week-long Crazy For Love series. So much love, and we're not even half-way done. Valentine's Day is two days away. Plan something lovely for the ones you love. Don't take for granted how special they are to you.

Now without further ado, let me introduce to you: Faith and Joe

This story was sent in by Faith:

"I love Joe because he has been through everything with me and has stuck with me when every other guy I know would've left in a heartbeat. 

We've both endured difficulties in our lives but we've always come back to each other. We grew up through many transitions and saw each other grow up through high school and to college. 

We both have committed ourselves to each other as boyfriend and girlfriend and help each other grow in faith and love every day."

{Stay tuned for daily Crazy For Love stories all week in celebration of Valentine's Day}