sparkling joy

Sometimes when she’s home I want to hug her so close and squeeze her, cup her face in my hands and stare into her ebony eyes. I want to press her close to me and stroke her long brown, satiny hair and smell her and cradle her like the baby she hasn’t been in nineteen years. But I get this feeling of restraint, like when in a sleeping dream, a book or newspaper appears and the harder I strain to focus on the words, the blurrier they become. Eventually my efforts to read wake me up, and the dream is gone. Dissolved. Sometimes I feel like if I squeeze her too tight, if I want her home too much or cause her to feel all the love I have for her, she’ll be gone again.

Jocelyn at age four, Christmas morning. Scrumptious! xoxo She still is, too. Every bit as beautiful, loving,  and sparkly in every possible way.

Jocelyn at age four, Christmas morning. Scrumptious! xoxo She still is, too. Every bit as beautiful, loving, and sparkly in every possible way.

That’s fear, not faith. And it’s never love that drives people away; it’s Love that brings them home.

She’s home. Home for dinner, home for movies, home for laughter and silliness and talking about everything under the sun, both serious and easy. Home for her horse and our family and memories old and new. Home to figure things out and also to just relax.

She’s home for Christmas, and my heart is bursting hour by hour, over and over again.

Nest feathering… Preparing the Apartment for her stay has been as much fun (more so even) as decorating a nursery for a newborn baby. I have felt every bit of the same joyful, nervous anticipation I felt just before her due date almost two decades ago. And daily I think of our friends Brad and Trisha who right this minute are expecting their first child, also a girl, Avery. I am beyond words excited for them! They’ll be amazing parents, I know. Avery is already a lucky little girl. And in what will feel like moments Avery will be a young woman visiting her parents for Christmas. And they will be so elated they will scarcely find words for the feeling.

Of course, our baby (not a baby anymore, I know!) is a busy girl, so it’s not like she’s here all day every day. But she’s here. Close. It’s music to hear her walk in the front door, her pretty, sing-song voice saying, “Heeeyyy, we’re here!” (She often brings a friend.) And it is beautiful just to see her tiny-feet sneakers paired up against our work boots. Cooking for her is a total pleasure, too. It’s become a running joke that somehow on the nights she eats at the farm, I manage to repeatedly serve either some variation of pork chops or spicy Italian food. It’s the weirdest ongoing coincidence ever. Last night we had homemade chicken and dumplings, so maybe the streak is finally broken.

Sometimes when the house is quiet and I am thinking about all that God is doing for us, in this arena and others, I can’t stop smiling with my whole face.  My back teeth chatter together gently, and I giggle until I cry. Of course there are still needs in life, still unanswered prayers. We know that. Except that they aren’t unanswered. Every wish deep in our hearts has already been heard and addressed. Every tear shed, already invested in laughter in the future!

This is for you too! All the faith you have been living is already accomplished in a miracle bigger than you can even imagine!

Brad and Trisha are experiencing a miracle different from ours yet still very much the same. They have been waiting to be parents for a long time, just like us. They have loved their daughter without seeing her, just like us. They have trusted God and the power of love and prayer, just like us. And their broken hearts are mending. Only to burst again with joy. Just like us.

Sparkling joy,
joy unspeakable
XOXOXOXO

 

 

 

good news brewing

You who stop here and read my farm stories and book reviews and clumsy philosophy or spiritual meanderings, my running diaries, sporadic garden ideas and recipes and Ted Bundy memories, you are very special to me. You are friends who accept the crazy, irregular things I have to offer, and you often return the favor with so many beautiful thoughts and words of your own. While writing itself is cathartic, your support and affection truly nourish me. And I know you have hundreds of blogs available where you can spend your limited reading time. I know that. So I appreciate your attentive hearts all the more.

I like the idea of you sitting in my living room with your feet up, like this, dirty garden boots and everything. I just made you coffee and biscotti.

I like the idea of you sitting in my living room with your feet up, like this, dirty garden boots and everything. I just made you coffee and biscotti. We discuss everything under the Oklahoma sun.

In addition to being so generous, you have also been very patient with certain measures of ambiguity.

Over the years I have alluded to changing family dynamics and a deep grief I have carried for my children. Maybe you know part of our story, and maybe you don’t. But with few exceptions this blog has been a safe, prayerful, encouraging place to sort of synthesize all of my thoughts and feelings. Here, I get the chance to put into words not just what’s happening inside me or around me from day to day, month to month, but more importantly… the possible meanings behind things. Lessons to learn and hope to cement. And I know that usually sounds like stuff about the miracle of seeds germinating or the strength of a honey bee colony. Apparently this is the arena where God speaks to me.

God has been so good to us. He has sustained us over the years in amazing ways, and I try to celebrate that here and share it with you. He has been good to us in the garden, with the animals, and with our children, even (especially) when the pain has been excruciating, both for us and for them. And things have been hard. No doubt about it.

In recent weeks though, we’ve been more than sustained. Love is transforming things. As filled with miracles as our life has always been, this showering of grace and revelation is unprecedented. And resisting the urge to write about it all has felt unnatural, itchy. I am omitting the biggest stories in our life to talk about, what? What is more important?

So.

I’ll still be guarded with what I share, mostly because these stories are not all mine to tell; but I will begin to share some of the amazing things God is doing for our family. I owe at least that much. And honestly I can hardly hold it in any more.

joc sunset dusty

So this is me taking a deep breath and preparing to share some good news with you. Tentatively, with carefully chosen words, but still with so much unbridled joy!

Thank you so much for listening and praying.
You have no idea how much it means.
XOXOXOXO

 

I love people who… Christmas edition

Back in August I wrote a fun post about some kinds of people I love. You all were so great! You added your own loving thoughts at the end of that post, on Facebook,Twitter, and in email, and it was one big warm fuzzy. Let’s do that again for Christmas, okay? Okay!

paperwhites

At Christmastime I love people who…

Send out Christmas cards with cute family photos in them.
Send out Christmas letters giving updates
on their family’s major events from the past year.
Or forget to actually mail their Christmas cards
even though they were purchased last year on sale and are just so cute.
(Not that I’ve ever done that.)

I love people who are devoted to real trees
and buy them from the same tree lot every year.
Also people who go cut down their Christmas tree, Clark Griswold style.
Who use artificial, pre-lit trees and fluff them out religiously.
Or who fawn over elegant flocked trees.
I really am crazy about people who love their antique metal trees.

I love people who host cookie exchanges and wear Santa aprons and silly sweaters.
I love people who faithfully buy those round tins of Danish butter cookies
and share them with me.
People who build actual gingerbread houses? Those folks are just plain legit. Amazing.

santa cowboy

I love people who feel passionately, one way or another, about Elf on a Shelf.
You just do you. And I’ma do me. Okay.
I have been known to actively defend parents who lie to their children
for too many years about Santa, etcetera.
It’s magical. I love you for lying about it a little. Or a lot.
I love every one of you who hangs a stocking, leaves cookies for Santa,
or feeds Santa’s reindeer (we do that).

Do you observe Advent? Do you light one more candle each week, pray,
and read devotionals with each other?
I love you. That is beautiful.
I love manger scene traditions and Christmas pageants,
solemn hymns at midnight and angels and stars as tree toppers.
I also love families who sing only the ridiculous, funny holiday tunes!
Who doesn’t, deep down, want a hippopotamus under the tree?

At Christmastime I adore folks who go all out
making handmade gifts, baking elaborate sweets,
covering every edible thing in the house with chocolate,
and crafting perfect paper snowflakes. I love those things!
I also think people who stick with gift cards are the bomb-diggity,
because they usually have more time to cuddle and watch movies!
Like Elf.

I really really love people who hang lights on their house,
whether it’s a simple white strand over the front door
or a complex, colorful, set-to-music extravaganza
that triples the electricity bill. It matters.

cool lights

 

How could we ever go on without the tradition keepers?
How could we ever manage to laugh at ourselves without the more carefree among us?
I love all of you, each of you, for every bit of magic you bring to Christmas, year after year.
And to those of you who I’ll see this season, I hope I can find some magic to cast in your direction, too.

Merry Christmas!!
XOXOXOXO

 

friday 5 at the farm: photos & captions

Whoa, is it really Friday? I’m not complaining, because Fridays are awesome. But I am surprised. Life lately has been lulling me with such pleasure, so many daily graces and perfect rhythms, that I forget to notice the passage of time. And I’m getting really good at Carpe Diem; it’s just that sometimes I forget which Diem it is.

How about a little Friday 5 at the Farm, just some photos and short stories? Okay.

Photo #1: Below you see an image of what holds my attention most of my waking hours: Books and sunlight. I am reading two very different from each other books right now, and each of them is fascinating in its own right. And I still haven’t told you more about Tasting Home! Sometimes I think about starting a blog just for book reviews. Because of all my spare time, you know.

  • Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  • The Mapmaker’s Dream by James Cowan

And sunlight. Oklahoma has been so wrapped in fog that every ray of warmth we enjoy is a total pleasure. Winter is right around the corner, and it promises to be a cold, wet, snowy season. For all my Carpe Diem preaching, I am already craving springtime.

 

f5f books lace

Photo #2: This horse below is Dusty, you may know. He is our girls’ horse, a smallish mixed breed with a heart of gold. He and our girls basically grew up together. He is cut now but before that little procedure he managed to sneakily father the only two colts to spring from the equine loins of the Lazy W. Our oldest daughter has been spending a lot of time at the farm lately, riding bareback and training Dusty to learn some basic groundwork. He’s doing great, but she does mildly reprimand me for having him so conditioned for treats. Apparently horses are supposed to obey voice commands more than Oreo offerings? Who knew. Here you see Dusty sporting a cool pair of her sunglasses. He is very likely the most photographed animal on the farm right now, thanks to her visits and loving devotion.

 

f5f dusty shades

Photo #3: A decent trade for sunlight is the wintertime staple of homemade pie crust. Cold, dark months boast so many good reasons to enjoy this simple pleasure. Whatever recipe you use, may I gently suggest that you try this? Divide your fat between half butter and half shortening. It is perfect. Perfect, perfect, perfect. Delicious, flaky, tender, flavorful. Whether for a sweet or a savory dish (here I was making homemade chicken pot pie), this combination is really truly amazing. As a side note, we tried chicken pot pie with finely diced potatoes in the mix, and it was really good. Maybe great. Possibly worth exploring again and sharing with you fine people.

f5f pie crust

Photo #4: Pacino, our blue and gold macaw, has been a lot of fun lately, too. Still perhaps not as photographed as Dusty, but he does get a lot of face time. He’s been keeping me company while I crochet scarves and fold laundry, and he is really good at never letting the house grow too quiet.

f5f pacino

Photo #5: Always take the scenic route, friends. Slow down. Neglect multi-tasking when you can. Taste the food you eat. Write down the details of your day, the things you see, hear, feel, smell, touch, think, and experience. Open your eyes wide and unclench your fists. Soak up the world with your heart. It is so beautiful, this world, and so are you.

f5f scenic route

Okay, that makes five photos and five short stories! Thank you so very much for visiting. I hope your weekend is shaping up to be restful, happy, loving, productive, and whatever else you need it to be.

Always take the scenic route.
Always.
XOXOXO

low visibility

All week we have been wrapped in thick, wet fog. Cool, gray, drizzly, dense fog that keeps our vision close and our temperatures low. And for all the dreariness, it has been magical. Oklahoma rarely has this many consecutive foggy days. I find it perfectly enchanting.

Walking around the farm, the intense moisture slicks my eyeballs and makes my wavy hair curly. The ground is saturated. Spongy. We look for the animals around the farm but only see them as blue shadows and silhouettes emerging from the blurry distance. And barely a breeze moves the naked trees.

The Pine Forest is a still life of flat, sharp edges, a painted cardboard scene for a fairy tale puppet show. All dressed in that enchanted fog.

I can feel the clock hands slowing down under the weight of it all, and it is wonderful.

fog, lazy w, oklahoma, faith

Dulcinea in the denim blue, foggy twilight.

Of course driving in the heavy fog takes special care, too. You absolutely must go slowly, and your lights cannot be too direct, too far reaching. The fog draws us in, folds us over onto ourselves a bit, shrinks our vision. This frustrates some people, but it’s temporary.

Everything, after all, is temporary.

Mysteries that seem unfathomable are dissolved in the warm light of truth. Terrible walls crumble apart. People are reunited by Love in ways that no one might predict.

The fog eventually lifts.

So if you are feeling socked in by life, if you’re having trouble seeing very far into the future, take heart. Sometimes that’s just how it is. Take a deep breath then let it out, slowly. Be very still and quiet. Take a look around yourself, right exactly where you are. There is plenty to be done in this moment, and there is plenty to enjoy, too.

Don’t be bothered by the fog. It will eventually thin out and disappear completely. The horizon will be clear again, your vision full. Soon the sun will be dazzling bright again, maybe when you least expect it.

Until that moment, be here. Be very present and calm, very still and safe in this moment, and enjoy the world’s magical appearance. Soon the rest of it will be revealed.

Take therefore no thought for the morrow:
for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.

Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
~Matthew 6:34
XOXOXOXO

lazy w pizza crust

Raise your hand if you love pizza! Raise both hands if you love homemade pizza! Homemade pizza is one of my favorite meals to arrange here at the farm. We no longer do it every single week, but we do it plenty. I love the fact that on pizza night everyone can eat exactly what they want, it makes the house smell amazing, and the whole process slows us down a bit. Pizza day is always fun!

This beautiful woman is my friend Melissa. She is one of the most avid readers I know (three cheers for our Oklahoma book club!) and loves homemade pizza almost as much as I do. Hi Melissa!

This beautiful woman is my friend Melissa. She is one of the most avid readers I know (three cheers for our Oklahoma book club!) and loves homemade pizza almost as much as I do. Hi Melissa!

 

Toppings are simple and completely up to you. Here at the W, we always make two sauces: Heavy, salty Alfredo in one pot and slow-simmered, sweet and garlicky marinara in another. (Sometimes I mix mine into a pink sauce.) Then we offer chopped grilled chicken breast (amazing with Alfredo), some raw veggies and herbs (I vote for mushrooms, basil, and parsley whenever possible), maybe jarred olives and artichokes, and sometimes pepperoni, ground Italian sausage, etc. And of course mozzarella and parmesean cheeses.

The details totally depend on our group that night. Have you tried Edie’s son’s version with honey and garlic? Delish. Often guests are happy to bring fun toppings to share, too! This is one of the coolest pot luck strategies in my opinion: “I’ll make a ton of dough and sauce, and y’all bring toppings!” Instant party.

 

lazyw pizza dough, recipe, pizza reicpe

When our oldest daughter comes home for pizza night, she tends to fill one crust to the max and flip in over into a big, billowy calzone. It looks so good! But she’s tiny and eats like a bird. So guess who always takes leftovers with her?

If toppings are the paint, then crust is the canvas. Excellent pizza really relies on excellent crust, doesn’t it? After trying several recipes and methods over time I have finally settled on a certain combination that all of us love. It’s tender, hand-tossable, easy, and reliable. My book club girls have been requesting this recipe, and I might as well put it here on my blog in case the crispy, wrinkled recipe pages where I’ve been taking notes over the years ever finally bite the dust.

Okay. My favorite pizza crust is basically from a slightly tweaked Betty Crocker recipe.

Ingredients:

5 to 6 cups all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt (I admit to a psychotic addiction to sea salt)
4 1/2 teaspoons of yeast (or 2 envelopes)
6 generous Tablespoons of olive oil
2 cups very warm water (see notes below for a REALLY cool trick)
optional: garlic powder and dried Italian spices to taste

Now, Method:

  1. First bring some water to boil in your tea kettle. When it is really whistling, measure into a heatproof measuring bowl one cup of boiling water, then add to that one cup of cold tap water. The half-and-half combination will give you precisely the right temperature you need to activate and grow your yeast, without needing a thermometer or endless water corrections. It’s magic. Kitchen magic, I tell you! (In case you want to check, the yeast needs water that is 120*-130* F)
  2. Now in a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups of the flour with all of your sugar, salt, and yeast. Using nothing more than a wooden spoon (I mean you could use an electric mixer, but let’s be Amish!), stir in the olive oil and magical warm water. Be sure to scrape down and incorporate all the dry stuff. At this stage, if you want fancy dough, add garlic powder and Italian spices too. It’s truly wonderful with or without.
  3. Now add enough of the remaining flour to your dough to make it nice and soft (I err on the side of less, since you’ll generously dust your working surface later). Betty Crocker says the dough should begin to leave the sides of your bowl.
  4. Dust your working surface with more flour and knead the whole fragrant, malleable heap of goodness with your bare hands. Knead it for several minutes, until it’s “smooth and springy” Ms. Crocker advises. The transformation is just beautiful. It feels sexy in your hands. But, in an Amish way. Totally wholesome.
  5. Now leave the giant ball of heavy, yeasty, silky dough in the same large bowl and cover lightly. You can use plastic wrap or maybe a clean, damp cotton tea towel. It’s only going to rise once, unlike lots of breads, and only for half an hour. And honestly I feel like thin crust is the way to live your life. So if it doesn’t rise to the sky that’s fine. But if you want it really thick and poofy, then make sure your dough is kept warm somehow. I always use an oven proof glass bowl just in case I feel the need to slip it into a barely warm oven (less than 200*).

The Fun Part! and extra notes:

  1. Okay, now the dough becomes a crust! I’ve given you the proportions for a double recipe, which is actually four good sized pizzas. So tear it apart once, then again, so you have four similar hunks of smooth, springy dough.
  2. Each one can be handed to its potential toppings artist for hand-tossing, rolling, or just pressing onto a pizza stone or greased cookie sheet. Instruct each other to speak with bad Italian accents as you work.
  3. By the way, for a really cool restaurant effect, use a drizzling of olive oil and a sprinkling of corn meal on your pan.
  4. If you’ve made more dough than you need, just pop it into a freezer bag and seal well for the next pizza party.
  5. For thin crusts, make sure to roll or toss it even thinner than you think you should, then pre-bake at about 400* for less than 10 minutes. It won’t come out crisp yet, but after you top it and bake it again? Perfect.
  6. For thick crusts, don’t handle it much more. Just shape it and let it rise once more on the stone or cookie sheet.
  7. Either way, once you’re ready, top it all to your heart’s content with everything that pleases your pizza-loving soul.
  8. For book club recently, I rolled some dough extra thin, topped it with marinara, cheese, and pepperoni, rolled it up, brushed the outside with egg wash and added Parmesan, then sliced it crosswise like you would cinnamon rolls. Cook slices on their sides for really yummy pizza roll ups!
  9. Okay, traditional pizzas just go in a hot oven until cheese is melted. Thin crusts only take about 10 minutes at maybe 425*, thick crusts take up to 20 minutes at 375*.

pizza

Friends, I’m telling you, there are two ginormous slices of leftover homemade pizza in my refrigerator right now. I’m not hungry. Not at all. But after talking to you about this I am giving serious consideration to eating that stuff cold.

Cold pizza, family, and friends who love books. Life is good.

“You better cut the pizza in four pieces
 because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.”
~Yogi Berra
XOXOXOXO

what I learned in november

Hi friends! Welcome to Tuesday. For the first time ever I am linking up with Emily over at Chatting With the Sky. She is the sweet, smart author of A Million Little Ways which I devoured recently and have been pushing on my friends the same way I push food onto my daughter when she visits the farm. (Translation: So much and with gobs of effusiveness!)

Once a month Emily hosts a cool link up for people to share what they’ve been learning. Anything at all. Fun, right?  I know! So here’s my contribution for November:

 

what i learned in november

 

Baby llamas can flat-foot jump four-foot high fences. And it’s awesome. Meh, about five months old now, recently displayed a new talent. In order to reach Handsome on the other side of a four-foot predator fence, with no running start whatsoever, he just sprang vertically into the air and landed with aplomb on the earth not two feet away. Probably for a cookie. We were duly impressed. And now we have to keep the front gate shut at all times.

"Meh." xoxoxo

“Meh.” xoxoxo

Crocheting scarves is a great way to pass some time while watching Dexter with Handsome. I’m getting pretty good less terrible at a single-double chain stitch. Very relaxing and somewhat productive.

Hens are vain creatures. We accidentally left the front door open a few days ago and turned around to see Red Nekkid Neck hen and this gorgeous black hen exploring the living room. Just, you know, pooping on the wood floors. No biggie. The nameless black hen was perched on my favorite green chair, staring with deep and fascinated longing at herself. Do you have name suggestions for such a vain creature?

aww you sexy thang!

Aww, you sexy thang!

Mixing both sides of our family at a tenuous, change-filled season for everyone was at once genius and insane. We hosted our two nuclear groups at the farm for Thanksgiving this year, and we made a thousand memories and had a great time, truly. But I learned that spreading myself too thinly among people who have to make a great effort to blend with each other, well, it kind of leaves everyone feeling awkward. It is wonderful too, don’t get me wrong! But it was a learning experience. If someone ever asks my advice on this issue, I would say that overextending yourself in grief-stricken times, with limited hours available to spend with your loved ones, can leave everyone feeling a bit shortchanged. Sometimes it’s better to really water your families’ roots deeply. One at a time.

Listening trumps talking. And believing the best in people and in uncertain situations makes a difference. You know, faith is a force to be reckoned with. This past month I have literally fallen asleep giving thanks so many times. And my waking hours have been blissfully free of worry. It’s the most amazing transformation ever. I am learning the fruition part of the power of imagination, the potential of faithful prayers. How are you doing with this?

Adult footie pajamas are the bomb-dot-com. Have you seen them in retail land yet? Super cute. And even moreso soft and comfy. I can’t even tell you how fast you should go out and buy some for immediate cuddling, pretend flying through the air, and extended air-ninja-battles with errant poultry. We recently rearranged the living room, allowing for a long, wide path in the wood floor. Wearing my cool footie pj’s I can slide right down that slick alleyway like Tom Cruise in Risky Business. Not much less awesome that a jumping llama.

supergirl footie onesie pajamas

And it’s December! I am two days deep in decorating, organizing, fitness, reading great books, and generally loving life. Now I’m off to see what the other guests at Emily’s link up have learned. Thanks so much for stopping by! What are you learning?

“I am learning all the time.
The tombstone will be my diploma.”
~Eartha Kitt
XOXOXO

 

post-feast fitness reset

Okay. It’s the Monday after Thanksgiving, the dawn on a new day after nearly a week of relaxed standards. The first full day after several days and nights of eating pretty much anything I wanted, napping a lot, and not running or doing strength exercises at all.

This is not the way my fitness role models suggested we do it exactly, but it happened. And the thing is, I loved every minute. Sometime during the really fun process of planning our big family feast, I made the conscious decision to not only allow myself some indulgences; I would deeply and thoroughly enjoy it. I affirmed in my own heart the intrinsic value of traditional foods, soul-nurturing traditions, and shared meals. Extended cuddling sessions. Empty agendas. What good is “cheating” on yourself? You’re much better off accepting that you’re trading one pleasure (fitness) for another (conviviality*). We can take either pursuit to dangerous extremes, after all.

(*These are just my opinions. My emotional philosophies.)

So I’m not writing this today with any apologies for falling off my miles plan or my calorie restriction ideal. Not at all. Until late Saturday afternoon I had been feeling pretty amazing physically, and that brief sluggishness was easily corrected with a gallon of water, a couple of plain salads with a little meat on them, and some grateful, sweaty time on the elliptical.

Nope, no regrets. I loved feeling free to stay up late with my daughter talking about life and eating an un-rationed amount of Pink Stuff. I loved sitting and relaxing and crocheting hats with my sister- in-law while eating pecan pie with a cloud of whipped cream and perfect coffee. I ate turkey and homemade stuffing until I gobbled instead of giggled. The food was a big, wonderful part of the week for me, and so was the time with my people instead away from them. Handsome was off work for four days in a row, and choosing to not lace up and disappear for an hour or two was smart. It was good for both of us this year.

Buuuuuuuut………….

There’s always a big but, right? Especially after several days like this?

Sorry. Let’s try that again:

All that said, as emotionally refreshing as this break truly has been, I am just as ready for a thorough reset. My body craves activity, raw vegetables, and waaaaaay less sugar (all kinds of sugar). My mind craves the satisfaction of having treated myself well. And whether he will admit this or not, my husband is ready for my to siphon off some nervous energy and show up for our time together exhilarated, rested, slender feeling, and energized. All of that together. That’s what running, mild weights, and healthy eating does for me, so it also does that for us.

kale salad with pomegranate

Torn up raw kale with lemon, a drizzle of olive oil, and a whole bunch of pomegranate seeds. One of the simplest, most gorgeous salads you’ll ever scoop into your gravy-weary mouth!

 

So on this first day of December, as we move away from a magical and delicious Thanksgiving, as we tiptoe into wintertime and all of those related temptations and implications, I am making this new temporary pact with myself:

lazyw wintertime fitness plan

Simple enough, right? Just daily habits that are sustainable, flexible, and completely geared toward living fully and feeling amazing. That’s what I want. To have a full life and feel great day to day. If along this path my jeans size diminished a bit, then so be it. If not, I’m happy with that too.

How are you feeling physically, post feast? Do you deal with guilt after indulging, or are you at peace? What was you favorite amazing food this past week? How do you plan to care for yourself this winter? Tell me everything!

Take care of your body.
It’s the only place you have to live.
~Jim Rohn
XOXOXOXO

 

 

 

thanksgiving grocery prep

It was Tuesday around 4 pm. My original plan was to drive straight home from garden class and get started on some housework then maybe go for a run before nightfall. But Handsome called me and made the very wise suggestion that I buy our Thanksgiving feast supplies now, if possible, because of some chatter he’d heard on the radio. Something about “record-setting shoppers” and “everyone in the civilized world is off work on Wednesday.” Crazy, slightly intimidating stuff. Even my idea of grocery shopping in the wee hours Wednesday morning might have been not quite enough to avoid the chaos.

Well. By chance I had my list with me, a three page list to be exact, a yellow legal pad filled with recipes and seating charts and what to buy from which store and in what department. I was wearing my super duper comfy plaid sneakers. And I had a fully charged cell phone. Ready for elbowing my way through at least half of my impressive list. Expecting stress.

I’m a list writer.

And a little bit of a worrier, despite my best efforts.

And I’m easily impressed.

On to my favorite grocery store in nearby Midwest City!

Friends, I want to tell you that after one deep breath and a forced smile, I was in for a wonderful surprise! Last night’s hunt (hunting is exactly what it is, am I right?) was a total pleasure. From beginning to end, I actually had a good time. Everyone there was happy, smiling broadly at each other and practicing Grandma-worthy manners. No children (and there were lots of children around) were screaming. Every aisle was sardine-packed with people and their heavy carts, but instead of competing with each other, we all were helping each other locate and reach needed items. I hope to never forget this particular woman who was searching for flaked coconut in the baking aisle. She was met with at least four happy, anonymous neighbors helping her get exactly the bag she wanted, without having to maneuver her cart. I watched the bag of coconut pass hand to hand like a passenger in a confectioner’s mosh pit until it reached its grateful cook. And everyone cheered when the mission was accomplished! Hilarious.

I got a dose of instant Christmas spirit last night, just shopping for Thanksgiving! It didn’t hurt that the store was piping in gentle, low volume Christmas carols. I sang out loud and danced a little while exploring the aisles.

 

lazyw Thanksgiving groceries

I snapped this photo about halfway through my market expedition.

 

My Mom and I chatted on the phone throughout the magical shopping trip, reviewing family recipes and letting the excitement for Thursday build between us. I found everything on my list. The butcher knows me and helped me find steals. The produce guy is about the nicest man ever and made sure I got the biggest fans of kale and prettiest oranges, as always. Butterball turkeys were half off! My cashier was the funniest girl in the world who is always trying to get me to try this particular Mexican orange soda (it’s possible her sweet disposition caused me to save $20 or $30). And when I finally wheeled our massive bounty from the sliding electric doors to my waiting Jeep, I caught a glimpse of the sunset, streaked red and purple, gold and silver. The crescent moon hung seductively between some wispy clouds, and I couldn’t wait to get home to my guy. On Twitter late in the evening I noticed that my sweet friend Rose had been admiring the moon too. It really was captivating.

 

A previously clean and clear, delicately dressed buffet table in our dining room is now loaded to the max with gorgeous raw materials for cooking. We are so blessed.

A previously clean and clear, delicately dressed buffet table in our dining room is now loaded to the max with gorgeous raw materials for cooking. We are so blessed. Blessed beyond reason.

 

So what is on the Lazy W menu?

Strong coffee, bacon, and cinnamon rolls for breakfast, for those who come early while the feast is being prepared. Then turkey (times two). Ham. At least two different stuffing recipes. Egg noodles from scratch. Julia Child’s garlic-mashed potatoes. Canned cranberry jelly (Handsome’s favorite) as well as raw citrus-cranberry relish. Marshmallow-roasted sweet potatoes. Scalloped sweet potatoes by Katie. Piles and piles of homemade rolls. Kale-pomegranate salad with olive oil and sea salt. Green bean casserole. Pumpkin pie. Pecan pie. Chocolate fudge cake. Lemon Ice Box Pie. Pink Stuff. And much more. We are planning a feast for the eyes and the belly. A great binding for a farm-full of people.

 

It is frozen rock solid as of Tuesday at 8 pm. Will it thaw in time?

It was frozen rock solid as of Tuesday at 8 pm. Will it thaw in time?

 

Today, the prep day, is going to be so much fun! I am incredibly grateful for the freedom to stay home and do this. To enjoy this process and fill every room in our home with love and decorations and yummy calories. I am unreasonably excited to brine this ample bird. To spend all of Wednesday loving this turkey. Flavoring it with dried sage from our own little herb garden. Adorning its white platter given to me by my Dad years ago. Giving thanks for its fatness. Etcetera. (Update: as of 8 am on Wednesday, it is softening in a sink of cold water. Thanks Melissa!)

 

I am loving the freedom to dress and decorate every table any way I want to! Different fabrics, fresh fruits, candles, and more. So fun.

In addition to food adventures, I am loving the freedom to dress and decorate every table any way I want to! Different fabrics, fresh fruits, candles,poetry maybe, and more. So fun. The celebration of a holiday in our home fills my heart to the brim!

 

I am bursting with gratitude for sure.

So “Happy Thanksgiving Grocery Wednesday,” friends! I hope that if you are out in the retail world today, your expedition is as charmed as mine was last night. If you are home rolling out pie crusts and brining poultry, ironing cloth napkins and searching for extra chairs, I hope you enjoy every minute. I hope you enjoy it all so thoroughly that you never furrow your brow. That you smile widely and giggle a lot. I hope you play music and wear your favorite necklace and get a surprise note or phone call from someone who makes your heart leap.

I hope you forget to count calories, because you are so busy counting blessings.

Now? I better sign off. Lots to do before the big event tomorrow. Lots to enjoy in every way.

To be sensual, he wrote, is to respect and rejoice 
in the force of life itself,
and to be present in all that one does,
from the effort of loving to the breaking of bread.
~Judith Newton
Tasting Home, Coming of Age in the Kitchen*
XOXOXOXO

 

*book review coming soon!

 

 

 

 

thanksgiving heart prep

With only days until Thanksgiving, my heart is shifting in miraculous ways. So is our life. Life is shifting in miraculous ways, and I feel it over and over again at the most unexpected moments. The more I consciously still myself and concentrate on that shifting sensation, the more it expands. And it feels wonderful. Unpredictable, a little scary maybe, but wonderful. Long-whispered prayers are being answered for us, out of the blue.

At the same time, loss that we would never have predicted is carving big holes in our bones. Loved ones gone, loved ones missing. All our traditions and routines are cast in a new light, and it’s not always pretty. Of course the holiday season brings all of this center stage.

Life, despite loss, is thriving. This holiday season will be much different from last year. Just as last year was much different from the year before. It’s this brackish water where we’re always drawn to swim, this deep pool, warm and salty like tears. But clear and sparkling in the sun. Both.

Sometimes in bitter moments I wonder if life sends us pain to temper the joy, to keep us humble. But in my heart I believe the opposite: That life sends us joy to help us bounce back from pain. To give us good things to reach for, people to actively love, instead of crumbling in around ourselves.

The Not Always Lazy W, thelazyw, oklahoma

This week we did a pretty silly thing. On a whim of decluttering mania, owed in part to the recent snow storm (cabin fever makes us want to clean) but mostly to a summer’s worth of collecting and indulgent fake decorating, Handsome and I sold a bunch of our furniture and put even more in storage. Dishes, too. The downstairs front room is pretty much empty now, vacant and echo-y like we just moved in. Pacino the parrot loves the new acoustics.

And it turns out we’re hosting Thanksgiving! haha, Haha, see what I mean? Shifting. Life is shifting, but it mostly gives me this effervescent feeling in my belly, and it warms my heart. Let’s call it… Emotional champagne. Okay?

lazyw, The Not Always Lazy W

Maybe because I’m a Pisces? I don’t know. But this back-and-forth swimmy reality, this brackish-water awareness that life is both grief and joy, both profound loss and shocking, blinding relief, it pleases me deeply. The balance keeps me upright and in the moment. Anything is possible. Both thrilling and terrifying, every day holds the potential for very real miracles.

So I have learned to look neither too far ahead nor too far in the past, except to give thanks and ask for grace. This day, this exact moment, is more than enough. We are not alone, and no matter what happens we will be okay.

thelazyw, The Not Always Lazy W, oklahoma, faith, thanksgiving

dormancy and new life holding hands

Back to Thanksgiving prep! This weekend Handsome and I are recharging our batteries a bit. Hoping to spend some time with good friends and maybe our oldest daughter. Probably doing a little domestic rearranging, a little nest feathering. A lot of romancing.

As I type, the skies are bluish gray and pouring rain all over the golden trees and pale, dormant fields. Beats of thunder are rumbling gently. We are sipping perfect coffee and watching old episode of Rifle Man. Sifting though Pinterest boards to really zero in on Thanksgiving projects. Enduring the occasional outburst from our acoustic-loving parrot. Every moment is so full. Pressed to the edges with life.

Okay. Turkey Day.

If you’re like me you like to look around and see what the experts are doing to prepare for the holidays. I have found a handful of really stellar posts that have sent my hostess soul absolutely into the stratosphere! Please check these out, if you haven’t already…

  • King Arthur Flour offered a detailed outline of preparing the feast itself. Really detailed, practical, and customizable!
  • Speaking of detailed, of course, there is the queen of step-by-step, Oklahoma’s very own Pioneer Woman. This post from 2008 is great. And it’s illustrated!
  • Then the Nester wrote about hospitality and how she needed to offer it to herself first, to refill her well. Beautiful! Must read. I teared up a few times and craved a frothy coffee and decided that my newly emptied living room shall be decorated with all kinds of new texture. Go see for yourself.
  • Possibly my most beloved blogger, Edie, wrote an equally beautiful but more colorful post on her Thanksgiving prep. She always shares both the how-to and the why, and that’s why I appreciate her so much. My favorite part? Her admonition to cup our hands on the faces of our loved ones, make eye contact, and tell them thank you.

What treasures have you found to read? What’s happening in your heart this Thanksgiving? I hope you can see your blessings clearly, up close, and with the heavy weight of gratitude that also lifts your burdens. I hope you too can enjoy swimming in the bright, salty, brackish waters of life.

leaves

Happy weekend, friends! Much love from the Lazy W.

God has two dwellings.
One in heaven and the other
in a meek and thankful heart.
Izaak Walton
xoxoxoxo