Thursday, November 19, 2009

Beer me

I have a new favorite person. I don’t really know him, but his name is Eric Blomquist.

He is a brewer at Summit Brewery in St. Paul and has concocted a special, limited-time-only batch of ale brewed with me: heather, the flower/herb.

I tried it last night, and it’s wonderful. I’d highly recommend purchasing at select locations while there is still some available.

Not sure about me in your beer?
"It’s on the sweet side...but the level of bittering balances it nicely, keeping it from becoming cloying..."
Here’s a review.

Dad, don’t buy. I’m getting you some!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Beans and legumes

So, I ran into Barnes & Noble today over lunch and was skimming the cookbooks. Suddenly a woman--a short, bird-like older woman with a very pointy nose--came so close to me that her purse was touching my arm. She too was perusing the cookbooks, but, in my opinion, a little too closely. I slowly took a step to the left. She slowly took a step to the left as well. I took a step back. She took a step back.

Then, she asked: "Have you seen any books on beans and legumes?"

Ok. now within seconds I was wondering:
1. Is she talking to me?
2. Does she think I work at Barnes & Noble?
3. And does she want a book on beans AND legumes? Or
4. A book on beans and then a book on legumes?
5. And who calls them legumes, anyways?

I responded. "Uh, no. No. Haven’t seen any. But then again, I haven’t been looking."

"Such a shame," she continued. "They used to be all the rage, and now when I want it they’ve all but disappeared! Isn’t that how it always happens?"

Me wondering again:
1. Books on beans and legumes were all the rage at one point in time?
2. They’ve disappeared?
3. Or beans and legumes themselves used to be all the rage, but people’s tastes have changed?
4. Who calls them legumes, anyways?

At this point, I was trying not to crack too big of a smile and just nodded. "Yes, that is how it always happens with beans and legumes."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tough skin

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about armor, tough skin, calluses.

You see, my magazine’s most recent issue just hit, which means the complaints are on their way. It doesn’t really matter what role (or lack thereof) I played in gathering a quote, doing an interview, or writing the piece. I am the editor, and thus the recipient of feedback. And to be fair, I know I receive more compliments than others who worked on the publication because, again, I’m the editor.

With time though, I’ve toughened my skin. Complaints are no longer personal. I’m better at letting things that I can’t control (like inserting a comma post-printing) go. And comments like this one, for example, make me chuckle now:

"Any correspondence from your organization elicits a negative, visceral reaction from me and I don't care to feel this way in my own home. Please stop IMMEDIATELY. Do not call, do not ever send anything, don't even respond to this email. Just STOP."

I induced a visceral reaction. Beautiful.

But recently I’ve also realized that I’ve toughened my skin in other areas—namely my singleness. Singletons have to, at least a little bit, to survive! Dating is not easy. First, there’s the fear that he just will not think you’re attractive enough. And then, let’s say, you get lucky and you actually find him attractive and he’s clearly digging you...then hold on. Just you wait. Something will fall, because it always does. It always has. I mean, we’re single! Something has always gone wrong! Either he stops liking you, you stop liking him, he hurts your feelings, he never calls back, he freaks, he stands you up, he moves away, he doesn’t understand, he needs anger management, he turns out to be psycho! (Yes, I speak from experience.) Perhaps he even says you’ve elicited a visceral feeling in him! Something goes awry. And I can assure you that misreading intents and desires is much more painful than misspelling a name. So, don’t you worry. I have grown tough (read: cynical). Me and one of my single friends don’t believe he’ll actually call. We don’t believe we’ll actually fall for someone. We think the chances of something lasting longer than a coffee date, let alone three coffee dates, is slim to none. We’re not stupid. Fall for something once, twice, but three times? C’mon! We’re smart girls. Sure, we’ll date, but we won’t believe. We must protect ourselves.

So, when someone does call, when he does show up, when he does’s a single girl to respond? How do you not fear a misspelling and wait for the complaining emails to fly?

Well, as I said, we’re smart girls. So first, we make sure he calls, shows up, understands not just once, but twice, three, four times. Heck, let’s go for five! And then you pray—hard—that he will be able to put the period at the end of your run-on, callused sentence, even though you think it’s too late.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Orange deliciousness

I love the color orange.
I love pumpkin.
I love mushrooms.
I love November.

So, here is my new favorite food: pumpkin mushroom soup, which pretty much HAS to be made in the month of November in order to enjoy it fully. And it’s orange, of course.

1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp curry
3 cups chicken broth
1 Tbsp honey
dash of nutmeg
1 can pumpkin (1 lb.)
1 cup evaporated milk

Saute the onions and mushrooms in butter in large pot. Add curry and flour. Stir. Add broth gradually. Add everything but milk; cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add milk, heat until boiling. Serve topped with sour cream.

Friday, November 13, 2009

In my spot

Driving home from work last night, I saw four long spotlights shining into the air in the far distance. You know, the circling moving ones that make me think of Batman’s Gotham City. I haven’t seen these in awhile, and I wondered if that fact had anything to do with the economy and people not spending money on Gotham lights? Or if perhaps people are just more green. There are more effective, smarter means of promotion that use way less energy/electricity?

I then pondered what they’d be for and where they were coming from, and as I continued driving toward them, I realized that they were in the general vicinity that I was heading. A few more miles, and I thought, huh, they actually must be fairly close to my house. A few more miles, ok, they’re actually coming from somewhere right off my exit. Interesting. Perhaps in the Wal-Mart parking lot? Maybe the nearby liquor store. I turned into the parking lot for my gym and headed to my normal parking spot: the first one, next to the curb, a few rows down from the gym door. And my parking spot...was the truck containing the spotlights. IN MY SPOT.

I looked around, checked my rearview mirror. Uh. Really?

Turns out it was my gym’s birthday. Inside were tables of appetizers, little sandwiches and lots of wine. I was sweating it out on the treadmill while three feet away people were inhaling cheese and merlot.

But the lights-in-my-spot thing. I have to’s indicative of my week. I’ve looked around my shoulders on multiple occasions wondering if other people were seeing this? Is this for real? And yes. It is. There are some crazy bright, shining people sharing my spot in life.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Before and after

Today is November 9, 2009.

For many it’s the difference between before and after.

Like B.C. or A.D., it becomes a marker. Before or after a loved one died. Before or after he proposed (yay, Paul!). Before or after cancer. Before or after something was said. And what the day means, then, is change. Drastic change. What’s ahead suddenly looks so different than it did yesterday. Life, as you know it, changes.

I can feel my anxiety rising at the thought of it, but God’s words whisper through my ears, calming me...

“Surely I am with you always...” (Matthew 28:20). Before and after.

Sunday, November 08, 2009


I’ve had time today to be home. To really be home on a gorgeous fall day. This has included sweatpants and slippers, coffee, paper-reading, baking, sewing, homework. It has been glorious. I am grateful for my cozy home, and I decided to bask in it. I lit candles that I usually only light when I have company. I turned my music up really loud. I plugged in the wine bottle filled with white lights that dad made me—again, something I usually save for company—I don’t want to waste electricity after all.

I got to thinking about how so often, my home becomes just a house. During the week, I can sometimes leave at 7am not to return until 11pm. My house becomes just a filling station for sleep, food, laundry. Oh yes, and a car wash—shower. I grab the receipt for all of the above on the way out the door, knowing I’ll be back for more, as needed.

I do this with God too. I get busy. Talking with him or spending any amount of time with him becomes a rushed transaction. More Saturday night, God—don’t you worry—I’ll be at church then! I don’t bask in Him enough. Unlike my house though which is pretty immobile, God goes with us all day everyday, so there’s really no excuse. My prof was recently talking about how he thinks daily living—driving to work, talking to a friend, eating dinner—should be a form of prayer or worshipping God. It’s a hard concept to grasp because so often we set parameters and timeframes around such things. Prayer happens for x amount of minutes before bed or in the morning. Likewise, worship happens for the first 40 minutes of church on such and such day.

I want to be with God all the time though, in the way I was at home today. Basking in him in my sweatpants and slippers. Really enjoying his peace and hope.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Delicious ambiguity

When I moved to California, a dear friend gave me a magnet with the following quote on it (thanks, HL):

“Some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity...”
--Gilda Radner

Honestly, ambiguity tastes pretty awful to me sometimes! But this quote, still on my fridge, is a great reminder that try as we might, we simply cannot know what’s going to happen. I ended a very special relationship not knowing what it meant for my future, but believing at that moment, I needed to change. I moved to California alone not knowing what lay ahead, but confident that God was directing me—shoving me—west at that point in time. I quit a job not exactly knowing how I was going to get by financially for awhile, but knowing I needed to do it. These decisions, and there are many more, were made with lots of tears, mainly fearful tears because I was so unsure of what tomorrow would or could look like.

This morning I read 1 Corinthians 2 and was reassured by Paul’s words to the Corinthians. He says honestly,

"When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power."

The last few words hit me. He talks of a faith that rests not on my own wisdom but on God’s power. I think if we believe and rest in God’s power rather than our own, the unknown, the ambiguity, can become... delicious rather than scary.