Gifts of great beauty

So now that we are talking to each other, what should we talk about?

If I were a smarter blogger, I would have quickly followed up on your willingness to talk with a titillating post on a hot topic, like “Q: What do you think of The Shack?” (A: I don’t think of it at all. What shack?)

I’m not stupid, I’m just stubborn. And occasionally tongue-tied.

So this is a popcorn post – random bits of delight from my days – and then you can share some of yours with me.

First I have a few things to say about food. I found a new favorite cake: chocolate, with maple and buttercream frostings alternating. So yummy.

I’ve been eating my Grandma Grace’s peanut butter toast for breakfast (okay, my peanut butter toast made her way; I’m not stealing poor granny’s brekky). Take a piece of wheat bread and toast it. Spread with peanut butter and long slices of banana. Top with honey and cinnamon. I’m not sure if it’s *that good* because it’s *that good* or because I grew up on it.

This is my favorite lunch: a changing kaleidoscope of color, texture, and flavor. The best edible cure I know for gray days.

I’m spending lots of time with my family. I was watching this basketball game happen and they said “Do you want to play?” and I sort of laughed and panicked because I don’t know the rules. But I said yes, and it was actually fun. No one took pictures of that part, which on the whole is probably a good thing.

Then I found this on my kitchen counter, a teeny bouquet tied up with grass.

Only a six-year-old can be that artistic and precise with weeds, turning them into gifts of great beauty. I love that about her.

She is growing her writing skills too, and has spent much time on this paper just for the fun of it, imitating her big brothers’ assignments. (click to enlarge)

Spring has sprung in Meadville. Last fall I finally remembered to plant the bulbs for which I long in March, crocuses and tulips and daffodils and hyacinths, and I can’t wait to see more of them pop.

I am thinking often of Easter, remembering the wonderful things we did last year to celebrate. This year we are adding handicrafts in the form of glittery eggs from Dollar Tree strung on bare branches. I can’t stop looking at them. I never know how to decorate for this holiday, but if eggs are a symbol of new life, I cannot think of anything more appropriate for Easter than new life hung on a Tree.

Plus it makes the children busy and happy, cutting and twisting all that wire.

We revived last year’s mercy garden, with fresh things from the yard and gardens. On Easter weekend I will put a candle in the tomb.

I think it is so amazing that I found an incredible photo backdrop I didn’t know I had, in the form of my dilapidated basement doors (above). Isn’t that smashing? You might see more of them in future. I always assumed foodie bloggers had cardboard backgrounds they stood behind their masterpieces… I didn’t know they carried the food outside and set it on top of their junk.

But talking of eggs, my son brought me a real trophy from his flock. “Imagine being a hen laying normal eggs and then having to lay this one,” he said.

She is doing well on bedrest.

What popcorn would you like to share from your days? Three pieces at random.

Happy Tuesday!

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6 years ago

The baby smiles and coos that I have been receiving help to balance out all the bugs that have been making the two year old scream.

I was incredibly blessed by the comments I received in town today. Instead of the normal, “wow, you must be so busy. . . I could never have that many kids; one is plenty for me”, I was hearing, “you have a beautiful family. . . And they are all blessings.” Definitely encouraging and something to ponder in my heart.

And my seven year old has been collecting very similar bouquets for me as well. I need to find her “a bit of earth”.

Kathryn Swartz
6 years ago

1. Maple syrup kettle corn. You SAID popcorn.
2. Little boys and mud get together… what fun.
3. Why is it that if I am supposed to be avoiding sweets and dessert that’s all I want… a sweet milky coffee and blueberry coffee cake.

Thanks for the fun glimpses. Bed rest… hee hee! I’m feeling too large for 28 weeks pregnant, so I will laugh now while I can.

6 years ago

Before my three, a response: I was immediately hungry for popcorn! That mercy garden is exquisite. (The blue eggs are pretty stunning too). Your hen on bed rest made me chuckle.

1. The two baby doves that were nesting on the ledge of our laundry window have left. (Baby doves are very ugly.)
2. Our whole household is sick with/recovering from bronchitis.Today somebody decided that homemade pesto would be medicinal and made us some. (Poor us!)
3. She also brought home a package of pitted prunes. The English translation on the label reads: “Dried plums without a nucleus.” (Protons and electrons included, though?)

6 years ago
Reply to  Elisabeth

This made me laugh and I needed to laugh today. Thanks! ~ Michele

6 years ago

1. My baby’s delight in finding her lost tomato under her highchair …post lunch. And proceeding to munch. Best form of recycling I know.
2. Neighbor boy’s excitement at seeing Harper, running to her and yelling ‘kiss’ ‘kiss’ ‘kiss’ ‘kiss’, and proceeding to peck her on the head.
3. Chocolate cake!!!
And by the way, HOW did you do those dollops of frosting?

6 years ago

1. hot chocolate and a candle on this rainy day
2. my two-year-old’s possessiveness of mum after I’ve been gone
3. audio books for my four-year-old’s afternoon quiet time

Your egg tree is so pretty. And the food pictures, of course! Since we’re in the hatchery business, we eat the ones that won’t hatch (the cracked or the double-yokers). Which means we regularly laugh about the poor hens.

6 years ago

1. Talked to my boyfriend on Friday night
2. Played some fun volleyball with the Maranatha Bible School students on Saturday night
3. Enjoyed a wonderful chorus program by the MBS chorale on Sunday morning at my home church!

Kendra Sensenig
6 years ago

1) A candle and two small but lovely bunches of fresh flowers on a Jonah day.
2) Sick baby (who made the day a Jonah one) playing quietly for a few minutes then actually napping nicely, giving Mama some time to cool her head and reboot!
3) The fact that I actually WANTED olives, a cheese stick, and an apple instead of chocolate for my afternoon pick-me-up!

These things have been grace to me today. My daily dose of medicinal humor came in rather a roundabout way, by means of two small children, having been dressed approximately ten minutes before, dancing gleefully in a mud puddle in the backyard, which we are attempting to cultivate into something vaguely attractive. Now that my head has cooled – see above – I’m actually finding it funny!

6 years ago

Having a fun day of hiking with hubby celebrating my 60th birthday.

Coming home and chasing a stupid steer back into the field after he tried eating my spring flowers, and making deep tracks in the soft yard. I was sooo mad!

And I’m super happy that the steer is going to the butcher shop tomorrow!

6 years ago

Enjoy seeing new life outdoors coming forth and cleaning out the flower beds.

When our almost 2 year old keeps trying out new words to add to her vocabulary.

Taking one day at time and waiting for this precious baby to make his/her appearance any day now!

Random here…noticed your red paisley curtains. I also have that fabric in our dining room and kitchen windows.

6 years ago

1. Crab and cheese stuffed mushrooms waiting in the fridge for tomorrow’s supper
2. Relaxing by my oil diffuser
3. I am a food photographer and have taken my food out on the back patio (brick), in the grass, or on the front porch rocker for a different background. 😉 And I need a basement door like yours!!

6 years ago

I really liked your mercy garden! My children would love it if I did something like that with them!

Moments here are the blessed quietness after seeing 5 children off to school!!

Enjoying the sweetness of an almost 4 month old with all his smiles and cooing!

We are fighting tooth and nail to get over a bout of strep throat without antibiotics. This is the 3rd round in 5 weeks. The other times we went on antibiotics but it just comes right back. It’s afflicting I, the mother and she’s finding it very discouraging! I would like it to go away and stay away!!!

6 years ago
Reply to  Becky

Sometimes a family member can be a carrier with no symptoms. 🙁

6 years ago
Reply to  Yoli

We are starting to wonder about that. My question is how long can they be a carrier?

6 years ago
Reply to  Becky

A really long time! But you have probably done this, but especially in the middle of the treatment (long enough that the bacteria have died, but soon enough that you are still taking the medicine about 2-3 days into treatment) change ALL the toothbrushes. Also, if you can, have each child use their own handtowel for a while. So sorry! We did that once as a family as well. And don’t wait too long for antibiotic treatment as strep can cause other longer term health effects (rheumatic heart disease, post streptococcal glomerular nephritis, etc). Praying it goes quickly! ~ Michele

Twila Smucker
6 years ago
Reply to  Shari Zook

I second that advice…my daughter got post strep arthritis for a couple of years when I didn’t realize it was strep at first and they said it would have gone to her heart next. I am not much for antibiotics but I promptly treat with antibiotics for that one thing since that experience!! Nothing to play around with!

6 years ago

“She is doing well on bed rest.” Belly laughing.

Ok here’s some of my popcorn:

My baby is weaned now. I always think I’ll miss nursing, but then I feel so good after weaning that I don’t miss it at all.

Feasting my soul on the album Arise by tapestry chamber singers. All the pieces are composed by anabaptists, which I find incredible. Some of them sound like they had to have been written by people who dance.

Yesterday I heard a car horn, and something told me to look outside. My two year old was on the road. God has spared his little life so many times that it makes me wonder what plans He has for my little Nicholas.

I’ve been reading your blog so long that you feel like an old friend. I really hope we can meet someday.

6 years ago

Sunshine after days of grey clouds and cold.

Planting seeds from seed packets labeled “plant as soon as soil can be worked in the spring”. In Minnesota? 🙂

Pruning apple trees without freezing in my boots.

6 years ago

What a fun post!
1. Yesterday’s laundry is all put away.
2. I threw away my corsage from our daughters wedding in September. But first I took a picture of it on a watercolor quilt backdrop. It was beautiful and made me feel nostalgic.
3. I made a pan of monster bars. Hours later the house still smells peanutbuttery. I may have to have one for a bedtime snack.

Oh and I read an amazing verse from Psalm 118, “This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.”

Carolyn K
6 years ago

Ah-h-h, Shari, I was just thinking about you this evening as i rolled out pie crusts. I missed you. 🙂 Here are my three things:
1. Walking a mile to our town’s coffee shop and drinking coffee with a friend. Four hours later I drove to another friend’s house and drank more coffee and talked about life’s woes, found good answers, came home encouraged, and strung out!! Haha.
2. Thoroughly cleaned the bathroom using random cleaners at various places: white vinegar, Dawn dish soap, peroxide, Ajax, and bleach (by accident) and felt a little more than strung out for sure.
3. Walked to the little Holdeman restaurant where I hostess on Friday nights and make pie crusts every week or two. I rolled out 165 pie crusts.

6 years ago

Three bits of popcorn ….
I just returned from a weekend in Kentucky helping my sister Audrey move. Sisters are just the best thing ever, and I love all of mine terribly much!

We are plugging away at the last quarter of school work. HOW do you motivate teenaged boys that book work is important? ?

There are so many opportunities and callings and passions within me … that I find myself torn as to which to pursue and when. How can I possibly do justice to them all? And mothering is surely my first priority right now.

How’s that for random? ?

6 years ago

I love seeing pictures of your youngest. She has about as much hair as my little girl:) no bows needed here!! And my popcorn…. 1. Forsythia is stunning in old blue mason jars. 2. Going out to eat for supper after a rough day is just about the best thing. 3. Lighting a perfectly scented candle in the kitchen makes dish washing much more bearable.

6 years ago

attended a viewing with my husband and baby girl… almost a date!

trying to wrap up notes for a presentation tomorrow – on some cultural parallels between New Testament women and conservative Mennonite women. 🙂

at the end of the day, watching three kids sorting through the pile of clean laundry, folding it, and putting it away… I really should ask this of them regularly.

6 years ago

I love random posts.

1. The comments and observations of a two year old who can chatter non-stop and her insistent need to help feed the puppies. May she always be so eager to work.

2. My mom dropping everything to come help me make freezer meals.

3. A hard working husband who works long hours and then comes home and does house stuff because I have to be careful for the next 18 weeks, and trying to remember how blessed I am in spite of troublesome pregnancies.

6 years ago

Laughed out loud about the hen! Thanks!

1. Bought a piece of fabric – blue and orange, what was I thinking? – that was on sale on a whim. Now to design it into something nice.

2. Went shopping with some new co-workers I’ve struggled to mesh with – and had fun!

3. Went into work extra hours today and was so behind as always, and had a really sick baby to care for at the hospital when a colleague unexpectedly showed up to help out giving me time to get some urgent paper work done (like April’s schedule!) and saving me from having to work in clinic.

And finally – I love snuggling cute babies at work. Just started working on neonates and was totally scared and God has blessed me through it so much!

6 years ago

I was just trying to think of something light to eat before heading off to church. I read your post, and decided to try your banana sandwich. If I was unsure about anything beforehand, it was the cinnamon on top. Having now polished off two of them (!), yes it is that good. The cinnamon adds a nice counterpoint to the other flavors that are going on. Good stuff.

Today I watched the first movie in The Hobbit series with my two oldest (8 and 10). They have been bellyaching to watch it with me, and I decided to dive in even though my wife and I were uncertain just how they would respond. Amazingly, they watched it all and loved it, even though they struggled to follow the complex storyline and plot at times. And they said “it wasn’t even scary”. Of course, the battle scenes were “the best parts”.

I have been looking forward to enjoying more complex films with my children, and it is gratifying to have a positive initial outing together.

I’m sure we will be revisiting Tolkiens world in the future.

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