Monday, August 29, 2016

the quotidian (8.29.16)

Quotidian: daily, usual or customary;
everyday; ordinary; commonplace

Luscious bits of sexy. 
(Yes, tomatoes are sexy. Do not contradict me.)

Blackberry balsamic vinaigrette. 
(Also sexy, shut up.)

Experimentation: a weekend of donuts, and the potatoes to go in them.

Mind blown.
(Like these, but made out of cast aluminum and costing 250 dollars.)

The Last Morsel. 
 (Me: Eat it. Husband: Can't. I'm stuffed. And then he ate it.)

Laundry folding party: we really know how to whoop it up good, be jealous.


Crafting, plus conversation about cake.

The kid has a thing for trees right now.

 The game that all good Mennonites (or MCC volunteers) must play. 

 This game looks calm. It was anything but. 

This same time, years previous: tomatoes in cream, don't even get me started, Bezaleel scenes, they're getting it!, pasta with lemon-salted grilled zucchini and onions, grape parfaits, 2011 stats and notes, chocolate yogurt cake, buttery basil pesto, roasted tomato sauce, and pasta with sauteed peppers and onions.

Friday, August 26, 2016

a big deal

When your friend travels all the way to Virginia to pick up you and your horse for a week-plus trip to South Carolina, it’s a big, big, BIG deal.

My  older daughter hadn’t seen her friend since January (when the friend and her family traveled back for the girls’ beloved riding instructor’s funeral). The squealing was ear-piercing.

“It’s a good thing I’m deaf in one ear,” the friend’s father said. “Otherwise the trip back would be intolerable.”

Packing for a horse is no small thing. “Here’s my pile,” my daughter said. “And this is Velvet’s. You gotta take a picture.”

She was especially proud of her medicine kit: an old medical kit re-purposed for a horse.

The friend had brought leg guards along for Velvet to wear on the trip.

After the girls put them on Velvet, she high-stepped around in the most hilarious fashion. It took a bit of coaxing to get Velvet onto the trailer, but she finally made it.

And then they were off!

My  daughter has called daily with reports of her adventures: galloping on wooded trails, getting bucked off (of course), a visit to an amusement park, movies, horsing shopping, getting a pedicure and massage (!), an all-day excursion to an equestrian center, etc. Basically, she’s having a filled-to-the-brim week-and-a-half of fun and games and loving every single minute of it.

She’ll be arriving home on Tuesday. I can’t wait. I’ve missed that girl.

This same time, years previous: on love and leftovers, atop the ruins, the quotidian (8.27.12), fresh tomato salad, chocolate malted milk frosting, and how to can tomatoes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

family extended

She’s a gem, this new family member of ours. Helpful, curious, smart, kind, low-maintenance, candid, and adventurous, Melissa’s got all the positive attributes. Bonus, she laughs easily and often. She blends right into our family.

In  many of my cross-cultural experiences, I'm the one traveling, navigating a foreign place, and floundering my way through a new language. Now it’s the other way round. I get to explain and correct and clarify. It’s such a treat, getting to build cross-cultural bridges from the comfort of my home.

Yesterday, we invited one of Melissa’s friends, a Colombian IVEPer named Ayda, for supper and then to help with canning tomatoes afterwards.

That evening the kitchen bubbled with Spanish and English, shrieks of laughter, and teasing. We were informed that when chopping onions, if you wipe the knife blade with fresh lemon, it will reduce the onion-y fumes. Also, Melissa claims, the most effective way to chop an onion is to thwack it all over and then slice it.

“We have lots of secrets,” Ayda said, her nose in the air. “One dollar, please.”

I have a feeling that this year is going to be a special one. The world is coming to our door, and we don't even need to go anywhere. Lucky us.

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (8.24.15), that special date, he got me, 16, coming up for air, whole wheat buttermilk waffles, and homemade butter.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

the quotidian (8.23.16)

Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
everyday; ordinary; commonplace

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes!

For the bruschetta.

Leftover toasts.

My  younger son's corn: he planted it, harvested it, husked it .... and then shared it.

My  older daughter's mind tends to wander....

We  ran out of salsa couple months ago. It's been sorely missed.

Light bulb moment!


Ten-hour workdays and the dirt to prove it.

Built for reading.  

Off to the fair: all four kids, by themselves, yes!!!!!


Feeling a little insecure there, son?

They asked if I'd like to try some samples and I said yes.

How in the world....?!

PS. Prepped this post yesterday but didn't get around to publishing it until today. My excuse: Life.

This same time, years previous: sun-dried tomato and basil pesto torte, kale tabbouleh with tomatoes and cucumbers, stewed greens with tomatoes and chili, and grape jelly.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

a new room

For years, the downstairs bedroom has been the bane of my domestic existence. Actually, my house has other banes, such as the back hall, the basement, the attic, and my children’s bedrooms, but the downstairs bedroom is one of the larger banes. We can never seem to settle on its purpose. Sometimes it’s a study. Other times, a guest room, art studio, minor league living room, or storage shed. We’ve considered knocking one of the windows out, putting a door in, and transforming the place into a mud room. But it doesn’t feel wise to turn that much square footage into unlivable space. So the room has just kinda existed, floating along, never living up to its full potential.

Until now.

A couple months ago, I read a little blurb in our church’s newsletter requesting host families for Spanish-speaking language assistants who would be volunteering at our local university through Mennonite Central Committee.

Me: Hey, hon. Want to have a stranger come live with us for a year?

Him: (Grunt)

Me: Great! I’ll look into it.

One thing led to another and soon our family was matched with a young woman from Guatemala City. She would be arriving the middle of August and she’d have the downstairs bedroom. Her imminent arrival lit the fire under our butts. Or rather, it lit the fire under my butt and then I, in turn, pestered my husband until he smooshed his nose to the grindstone and got to it already, thank you very much.

We took everything out of the room: shelves, coat hooks, furniture, ratty blinds, filthy rug, lamps, everything. Except for the bed, which we stripped, covered with an old sheet and left to stand in the middle of the room like a four-legged island.

My husband patched holes and mudded, and then he painted the entire room. He swapped the torn screens with the non-torn screens from other windows (and now there's a good chance a bat, or small dinosaur, might fly through my bedroom window), installed new blinds, and replaced the non-functioning light switch.

We contemplated buying a new rug.

“Let’s first try cleaning the one we have," I said. "If it works, we save a couple hundred dollars.”

 So my husband spread the rug on the deck, sprinkled it liberally with detergent, and then he and the kids scrubbed it into radiant submission. It took at least four rinses until the water ran clean, and then a couple days of basking in the sun to dry. And we had a new—or at least a clean—rug!

For the bed, we splurged with new pillows, blanket, duvet, sheets, etc. A friend gave us a dresser, I bought a desk and comforter from another friend for five dollars each, and we stole the super-comfortable ratty old swivel chair out of my daughter’s bedroom. We bought curtains, a bulletin board, new towels (in a color we don’t have—white—so the kids will know not to use them), a towel rack, and a fan. My mom gave us a couple lamps. We shopped our attic for a little shelf and a mirror, and my bedroom for a potted plant. My sister-in-law provided cut flowers, and my daughters scoured their rooms for little jars for the vases to put them in. My kids and their cousins made a welcome sign and pinned it to the bulletin board.

Finally, finally the downstairs bedroom was a real room.

Him: We're on a roll. Why don't we do the other rooms while we're at it?

Me: Because the kids are in them, duh.

Him: Good point. Once they leave home...

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (8.17.15), in progress, the quotidian (8.18.14), starfruit smoothie, garlicky spaghetti sauce, lately, our life, drilling for sauce, tomato and red wine sauce, and thoughts on nursing.