Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cooking With Sophie--The Lunch Edition

I love variety--I really do. But sometimes variety must come in very similar packages. My lunch is this way. If I want a wholesome tasty lunch it pretty much always must come in the form of a smoothie. Smoothies are easy to transport, easy to store, can be made days in advance and frozen, and are fairly wholesome provided I don't make them too strong (once I got a sugar high from my smoothie!!! I don't add sweetener to my shakes--the fruit did it. Now I always dilute my shakes with purified water).

This is what one of my shakes looks like before I blend it up. This one had a lot more color than my usual berry-only shakes, but I was in the mood to experiment!!

If I have time I try to add about one egg yolk per smoothie (generally I get 3-4 smoothies per batch, so this is about 4 egg yolks). I prefer mine cooked, so I add a tbs of water per yolk and boil, stirring rapidly until done.

I used 1 cup of coconut milk in this smoothie and a spoonful of mixed herbs. I added a squirt of lime juice as well, because we had it on hand. And here is the result:

Before I started this batch I told mom glibly that I liked making shakes because it was hard to mess them up. "You've gotta be some kidn of dumb to mess something up that is mainly fruit and coconut milk! What's to go wrong?"

Mom's raised eyebrow at the avacado should have been a warning, but it wasn't.

Final verdict? This particular combination wasn't the best. It's plenty tolerable, it just tastes like health food and I'm used to smoothies that taste... well... more like "healthy junk food." I should probably stick to mom's advice and start using 1-3 fruits in my smoothies.

But one thing I do know--no two smoothie recipes is ever exactly alike. And I do love variety!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What is your favorite type of music?

"What kind of music do you like to listen to?"

When I'm asked that question I never really know how to answer. I tend to respond mentally with, "You know, that's a good question."

I don't care for most pop music (yes, there are a very, VERY few pop songs that I enjoy, but most pop music is a real turnoff for me).

Absolutely no rock, rap, or anything resembling them.

Hymns? Well, yes. But only if they are done right. (The Wilds, BJU choir, and similar groups are what I consider "Done Right"

Classical? Well.... Not USUALLY. As horrible as this sounds to many of my musically inclined friends, I find the vast majority of classical music boring. Maybe I've just never heard the right stuff. Maybe Classical 101.1 (the main radio station I've listened to the past 5-8 years) just doesn't play the right stuff. Or maybe the "right stuff" only plays after I've tuned off.

So what DO I like?

I love music that tells a story--that picks me up and takes me to another place. Movie music is the best I've found, though it depends on the movie. Right now I'm listening to a piece from The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe. Ahh..... lovliness. The music tells the story--even though I don't know exactly what is MEANT to be happening with each musical phrasing, I can picture it. I can imagine the noble heroes and heroines as they battle against evil--I can tell when the evil seems to be winning, I can hear the moment of triumph as the foe is vanquished.

My favorite part of story telling music is that I'm not tied to the same story the music was written to tell. When I listen to the anguished but determined strains of "I will Find you" by Clannad (Last of the Mohicans), I'm not bound to think of Hawkeye racing to save his beloved Cora. When I hear the notes of Danny Elfman's Black Beauty theme, playful and serious rolled into one, I'm not bound to think of a black horse--or even a very pretty black horse. The story can be whatever it wants to be.

My brothers and I used to play a game--we would turn on a random song and guess at the story. We'd all take turns, and would come up with the funniest, fantastic, most random plots. This game was only a visible extension of what I've always done with music. I either use it to tell myself a story, or I let the music tell me it's own story.

Listening to music is to me like reading a book.

Because of that I have to take care about the kind of music I listen to. Some books are best left unread. Some music is best left unlistened to. Some stories are best unthought of. Any emotion I can feel, any sinful temptation, can also be contained in the story music tells. I can't give a list of rules that says what is okay and what isn't and why. I just know that some music tells of anger, some of lust, some of bitterness. How did it get there? What qualities make it bad? I don't know. I just feel the darkness in the story--so I turn it off. Some stories are best unheard.

Equally, every good and noble quality can also be contained in music. It can tell of courage and love, bravery against all odds, noble sacrifice, joyful exuberance, innocent delight, patient waiting. It can tell of green meadows, rocky cliffs, shadowed forests. It can tell of Gods holiness, grace and love.

And that's why, bookworm that I am, I love music.

Even if I can't tell you "what kind" of music is my favorite. :)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Snapshot of a Bride-to-be's Week

Do I start every blog post off with how busy I've been? I guess it's getting a bit redundant.... :-P

This has been a very busy and productive week in Wedding Planning Central. Last Sunday I handed out the brdesmaid dress fabric to each of my bridesmaids. Half of the girls are sewing the dresses themselves, the other half are having someone else do it for them. The dresses are scheduled to be finished around the end of July--after which we're going to go out and have our pictures taken to celebrate. :-)

I've organized the time to pick up my piano from my aunt Denise. She's giving it to us as a wedding present, but it has to be taken by next week. It was a little more than just making a few phone calls, as I had to clean a fairly large storage shed where dad works in order to retrieve the trailer that was buried at the very bottom and very back. My brother Dallas was kind enough to help me out or that trailer would still be buried.

I got the envelopes and the first part of the addresses to a friend of mine who offered to address the invitation envelopes. She was eager to learn calligraphy, and I was eager to not do it myself, so it worked out pretty well all around. :P

I contacted about doing the flowers for the wedding.

I've done extensive research on apartments. I'm working with an apartment locator and have a decent list to start visiting in the near future. The next step is to find a decent Realtor in the area who can look for good deals on duplexes and houses. I am doubtful as to whether we'll find something like that in our price range, but if we don't look we DEFINITELY won't find anything.

I did some visiting around to plan a certain beloved man's wedding present. I'm almost as excited about the various wedding presents I'm planning for him as about the wedding. The presents will certainly be more fun to give than the wedding will be. :P But I'm stringing them out through the first six months anyway (if I can wait that long!) and possibly through the first year. We'll see.

I ordered my wedding dress (!!!!!!!!!!!). I went back and forth MANY times in deciding whether to order the dress, make it myself, or have it made. Eventually I settled on ordering it. The dress will be in in one month to six weeks. I can't WAIT!!! :-D

And that is a snapshot into a bride-to-be's week.

Sophie's boxes

I mentioned that I did a lot of packing a couple weeks ago. Here is the fruit of my labors:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Perpetua, A Bride, A Martyr, A Passion

Yet another good book. Have I ever mentioned that I LOVE good stories? And if the story is true, or the characters ring true, and if it challenges me in my walk with God, the story is particularly special. Perpetua is a story like that.

Perpetua was a young woman who lived in Rome a century or two after Christ died. What we know of her we know through her diary, which was kept while she was in prison awaiting martyrdom and is the oldest surviving text written by a Christian woman. (A translation of this diary can be read here and further information about her can be read at Wikipedia.)We know that she had much materially to give up--she was wealthy enough to be well educated and able to express herself clearly in writing. We know that she had a son, who was not martyred with her. We know that she died willingly for Christ. The author of this book was reading her diary and was inspired to write this book by one sentence:

"the dungeon became to me as a palace, so that I preferred being there to being elsewhere."

To quote the author, "What, I wondered, had made this wealthy young mother not only willing, but eager, to give up her life so ignominiously? Her original diary records the events after her capture, I set out to discover through story what led her to the state of heart that suffered pain and loss joyfully and ultimately guided the executioners sword to her own throat. Every effort has been made to remain true to the historical context of her life and the people and events she herself recorded." In my opinion the author did a stellar job.

There are several things that stand out to me about this book--I'll list them from least to greatest.

First, I love historical fiction. I really do. But I've found that many books set in ancient Rome (moreso than Greece) and aimed at an adult crowd go a little far in describing the debauchery that permeated Rome before its fall. Even Christian books delve into actions, in the name of realism, that are best left out of entertainment. Perpetua does NOT do this. However, the story DOES deal with two, possibly three, situations that could be disturbing to younger girls (I say that based on what my own reaction would have been had I read the book when I was younger). As such I recommend this story to older girls (over 16 or so).

Second, I really, really appreciated the way the author handled the romantic portion of the story. I am absolutely set against girls reading romance novels--it isn't healthy for a woman spiritually or mentally. Though Perpetua does get married, the romance is handled well. Nearly half the book has passed before she ever knows her future husband, and there are so many encouraging statements in Perpetua's single years. She struggled, but ultimately submitted to ALL of Gods will in her life. I first read this when I was in the same place of life, and Perpetua's determination to sacrifice her desire to be married to God encouraged me to do the same. Now that I re-read the book in a different stage of life I find myself more challenged by Perpetuas struggle to give her husband up to the Lord. In every stage of life there is sacrifice to be made.

There were a few things I didn't care for in the story. A few were misunderstandings that probably are historically accurate (such as not allowing new believers to be baptized or participate in the Lords Table until they had continued faithfully for 3 years and been taught all the foundational truths). Then there were a few things that I'd differ on theologically. However, these differences were mentioned briefly, and were not remotely integral to the story.

A challenge from the book I have tucked away in my mind for pondering. In this quote a slave girl is speaking of a difficult situation her slavery had placed her in, "Now there is nothing more to do [to escape the situation] but run to Lady Julia and tell her I am a Christian. But that wouldn't be dying for love, for Jesus. It would be escaping. My death is not for my own choosing."

Overarching all is one word--passion. This is a passionate love story between a young woman and her Savior. I do not mean that in the flippant "Jesus is my boyfriend" way that has been in vogue the last few years. I mean it in the consuming, complete surrender of one's will to Another. Her life challenges the way I view suffering and live out my Christan walk. She wasn't perfect--her faults were many, and I could sympathize with them all!!--but she did trust the Lord. Even when something happened that was painful or uncomfortable, even when something made her angry, she took it first to the Lord and wouldn't leave Him until she had an answer (even if the answer was "Wait").

This is the closing quote for both the book and the letters written by Perpetua: "O most brave and blessed martyrs! O truly called and chosen unto the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ! whom whoever magnifies, and honours, and adores, assuredly ought to read these examples for the edification of the Church, not less than the ancient ones, so that 706 new virtues also may testify that one and the same Holy Spirit is always operating even until now, and God the Father Omnipotent, and His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, whose is the glory and infinite power for ever and ever. Amen."

Quotes from the book:

"I am so sad, for Revocatus, for Mevia's friends who will miss her here... but I rejoice," the sob was invulentary, "I rejoice for Christ!!" [...] She could speak only in whispers. "One more person has declared--to the heavens, to the earth--that He is worth everything they can give and more. He is worth it all." ~p 123


I began with a small weak prayer, the sort one prays when overwhelmed by how far away from His mind one is.
I am lost, lost. Do I know nothing of trust, Lord? I only know one thing. You are good. Good! I don't know how to see your goodness here, in this, but I still believe it. Were we obeying Him? Was the sword in my hand His, or my own? Speak Lord. Search my heart.
Not my will, but yours be done.
Christ? I trembled.
Though I was a Son, yet I learned by the things which I suffered. 
But You, You didn't need to suffer to learn.
I learned obedience by the things which I suffered.
Revocatus' boy-like voice came back to me. "A servant is not above his  master, right?" He and Felicitas had been learning these things, while I luxerated in the beautiful buds of salvation and priesthood and ignored the bloom of surrender.
Give up your will to Me.
"Oh, God." I shook. I'd thought I had. I'd given up marriage, and he'd provided Saturus. And since that provision, I'd come to expect every good thing and no bad. He didn't call me to simply give up my desire for evil things. That happened at the cross. He asked me to give up my desire for the good things, and to take what came as a gift and not my due.
The cost is not just your blood, but your self definition, your reputation, your life. Abandon these to me. These are the things I gave up for your sake.
I lost all sense of myself within the surroundings of flesh and wood and room. I was spirit and soul and I stood in front of my own God and found myself lacking, found myself counting earthly treasures more valuable than eternal ones, found myself unwilling to return what He had first given.
God forgive me. Forgive me. These things you gave, and I have held onto them. They are not mine but yours. And yet, as I returned what was his already, these drops of my blood, they became my extravagant gift to Him.
The faith to live, to trust Him regardless of the physical difficulties, is the deepest part of the human soul. His obediance had led to my life. I had no idea what my obediance, my submission, would lead to. But I did know this--joy would accompany it. I rose as if from an injury. It was healed...healing...but I must always bear the scar of this knowledge of God. Jesus became bright, and terrible, and so to be longed for." ~P 300, 301


"Oh, I do, I do, I greatly trust my heavenly Father, but my faith is like that of a child. It does not keep me from experiencing pain or fear. I simply always turn to, always fall back upon, always cry out with arms upraised, "Abba!" And I have no doubt that He will be there." P 321

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Oh, the joy!!

A couple days ago my mother casually suggested that I might consider going ahead and packing my stuff. At first I was surprised, but that only lasted about a second. Then I understood what she meant. The problem is my room. Though it is plenty large enough for my needs, it is NOT sufficient for both me and Wedding Planning Central. The result has been that even when I clean it it doesn't stay clean. There is just too much stuff. Mom figured, correctly, that if I would just go through it and pack what I won't be needing for the next three months, that would save me time down the road and help me function right now (I've been avoiding my room lately). My dear mother is brilliant.

 The first thing was to look on CraigsList for boxes. There was a place just 5 minutes from my house that had the boxes I needed. The listing was several days old, so I hurried over. They were still there--and the perfect size!!

I began packing immediately. First there was the garage. All the items I've been collecting needed to be packed properly, labeled, and sorted. It was a big job, bit a fun one. I'd forgotten a lot of what I had packed away!!! I made a lot of new discoveries,

Such as this set of flowerdy table things, most complements of my future grandmother, Mama Doll; with some help from mom.

It's all pretty, but that punch mug is my FAVORITE

I found a number of appliances that I'd completely forgotten about.

And then in my closet I found a set of crystal that used to be my grandmothers. It will serve for my wedding.

Not all of my discoveries were wedding related, either. I also found my all-time favorite pair of pants, rather the worse for wear, but full of memories. The paint stains from redoing out house. The holes in the knees from when Echo, the wild white mare, threw me into a rock pile. The ragged hem from many hours of work.

That was only the beginning of my packing endeavors, but it's getting late and I'm tired from all my hard work!! Suffice it to say, it's been a very productive weekend. :)