Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Day Consumed by Zucchinis

There are moments in life when you reach a point of decision and say, with every ounce of moxy you can muster, enough is enough.  That was me this morning when I regarded the twenty two zucchinis (some rivaling the size of whiffle ball bats) that had accumulated on my kitchen counter.

I made a declaration: This is the day when I will conquer those zucchini.  In a veritable zucchini-style veni, vedi, vici, I systematically attacked those gourds.  I now have ten zucchini breads and fifteen dozen (fifteen dozen!) chocolate chip zucchini cookies in my freezer to vouch for that fact.

My day was utterly consumed by zucchini.  And, amazingly, I didn't get through them all.  After pulling the last batch of cookies from the oven, I still had a sizable bowl of leftover shredded zucchini and four whole zucchini sitting on the counter, mocking me.

Don't even get me started on my tomatoes.

Or my apples.

Come to think of it, all of my produce.

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

We Don't Always Need to Know

While in college, I once sketched a flow chart to help me better understand my social life. 


Overthinking is my thing, a peculiar disposition to make sense, diagnose, and infuse meaning into every circumstance around me.  In its best manifestation, I remember details and observe nuances that others might miss.  In its worst form, my thoughts (and my shifting emotions about those thoughts) hijack my internal balance.

In light of this, if you're a fellow overthinker, a muller-over of everything, remember this:

We don't always need to know why we're going through what we're going through.  We just need to know that God is there with us.

Give yourself permission to not always immediately understand your life, those around you, or even yourself.  God understands.  God knows.  God guides even when you can't see.

That's enough.  We don't always need to know.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Off My Own Beaten Path

This morning when I went for a run, I started on one of my standard loops that I've run dozens of times before.  After a mile, I felt wanderlust kick in.  What if I went this other direction?  

I didn't know if the new route would be too long or too short or too hilly, but in the split second I had to decide whether to turn onto my regular trail or veer off my beaten path, I opted to take my chances and choose the unknown.

I passed quaint homes, old barns, and a garden where a young father was teaching his curly haired toddler how to pick raspberries from the bushes.  All the sights were welcome: the curve of a shallow creek, a pleasant old stone wall, an overgrown, dilapidated house set far from the road that conjured mysteries in my mind.

And I never would have known that any of it existed had I not tried the other direction. 

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Saturday, July 18, 2015

You Know Those Bulky Shopping Carts with the Little Car?

Title: You Know Those Bulky Shopping Carts with the Little Car?

Subtitle:  Well... clean up in aisle 18.

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Monday, July 13, 2015

A Small Taste of Summer Living

If someone asked me to describe my summer in just two words, the ones I'd select would be necessary and delightful.  The slower pace has unwound tension and propped open delicious little windows of free time that have reminded me I'm a human being, not merely a human doer.  It's been a gift.  Plus, I've been productive in ways I never can be during the fall and spring semesters: House organization!  DIY projects!  Reading for pleasure!

Summer, let me count the ways I love you.

Reading.  Each Tuesday evening my daughters and I visit the library.  In addition to a few titles I'm reading for work, I've been devouring some enjoyable fiction like the latest installment in Jeanne Birdsall's The Penderwicks series, Dee Henderson's O'Malley series, and (my recent favorite -- currently on loan and therefore not pictured below) Denise Hildreth Jones' The First Gardener, a gorgeous Southern novel that still lingers in my thoughts.

Organizing All. The. Things.  Purging the house is a never-ending process, but I take inordinate pleasure in it despite the fact that it's a never-ending process.  Case in point, the afternoon when my husband said, "Are you ready to clean out the garage?" (which occurred the day after we cleaned out the shed), I was convinced he was flirting with me.  Apparently, cleaning sprees are one of my love languages.

Rain and One Prolific Garden.  This summer, we never ask the question, "Will it rain today?"'  We simply assume that it will and ask when it'll occur.  All of this rain not only has resulted in a crazy grass-cutting regime, but also has generated one prolific garden.

Case in point, this is one day's crop of zucchini and summer squash.  We're either grilling, baking, or sauteing these bad boys daily.  My neighbor suggested I try zucchini pancakes, which I promptly Googled and set my sights on this Barefoot Contessa recipe.

Garage Sales.  Ironically, as much as I love purging my own house of items we've outgrown, I equally love going to garage sales on Friday or Saturday mornings to discover what other households are purging.  I'm selective with my purchases, and I seem to be on a hot streak.  The same morning I searched the zucchini pancake recipe online, I visited a yard sale where I found the Barefoot Contessa cookbook where it originally appeared for a quarter!

Let me tell you, it was a quarter well spent.  (I could eat an entire plate of those zucchini pancakes.  They're amazing.)

I also picked up this wire contraption at the same sale.  (It's now holding my zucchini.)  It had been quite dirty, but after a thorough washing it's as good as new.  And it was a dime.  True story.

All told, this summer garage sale's endeavors have yielded some lovely flower pots, a decorative vase, a few trinkets for the girls, several good books, a small bookshelf, and one gorgeous Ann Taylor pencil skirt in my size that looks like it never was worn, but was priced at $1.75.  (Another true story).

What I love most about garage sales is finding raw material for DIY projects, like when I bought a large bulletin board for two dollars.  It was nothing special with its natural wood trim, but I freshened up the border with white paint, bought a yard of fabric in a bold print, and secured the fabric with white tacks.  It's now an awesome addition above my ten-year-old's desk.

Let me tell you: my summer DIY projects have been such a blast that I hope to launch an official DIY week on the blog soon.  (Let me hype it up now.  Coming soon: One week of exciting projects, pictures, tutorials, and tips!  You'll be amazed and engrossed!  It's kind of like Shark Week, minus the terror.  And the carnage.  On second thought, it'll be nothing like Shark Week, except that it'll be a week.  But it's going to be an awesome week.)

The Barn Sale.  If garage sales weren't enough, this past weekend I visited a barn sale, which took matters to a whole new level.  My excitement rose as I walked the property's gravel path alongside a charming picket fence to reach the barn.

Like me, perhaps you wonder what transpires at a barn sale.  Ultimately, imagine someone opening up a barn and then selling the decor of an entire Cracker Barrel restaurant.  (You know, the stuff that you hope is securely anchored to the wall above your head so you don't get impaled with a rusty antique trowel or knocked out by a washboard as you're eating your meatloaf dinner or plate of pancakes.)

Most of the time, I had no idea what I was looking at, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.

The only item I momentarily considered was this Pepsi crate, which I suspect would have been something that the guys on American Picker would have bartered over. 

Local Festivals.  Gathering a community together around art, music, and food?  Yes, please.  This is one of the nicest ways to spend a warm summer evening.  It feels right deep in your core to stroll around a field looking at booths while eating a Gyro or a funnel cake.

The Future.  In the midst of this summer grandeur, Wal-Mart had the audacity to set up its back to school displays.  I will ignore these aisles until mid-August, which is when my mind will be able to go there. 

Yes, school for my children (and me) will resume once again, and yes, we'll be ready for it once it does, but for now, I'm choosing to embrace July.

This necessary and delightful July.

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