Tuesday, January 27, 2015

a few thoughts on seasonal and local eating

I'm a definite foodie. I love cooking, utilizing new and old recipes, making up delicious dishes, looking at food photos on Instagram, reading any and all kinds of cooking blogs, and just enjoying the experience of eating. I have not found a cuisine I don't like, and I'm willing to try most things once. I have worked on developing my palate as I've gone through life, and it has been a most enriching experience. Sympathizing with picky eaters is not something I'm good at.

Along with all the cooking goes grocery shopping, gardening, and food preservation. I am not a huge fan of the shopping, though the produce section always makes me happy, especially when the selection is good and fresh. I know, I'm weird. I love gardening and food preservation, but I haven't done much of either on my own yet. Goals for the year! ;)

My favorite grocery shopping is when I can go to farmers markets. The photos I see of large markets in other cities gives me a heady feeling. Seasonal and local eating is where it's at, folks, I think as I purchase juicy tomatoes, a braid of onions, and multiple pounds of luscious strawberries. I don't need to eat tomatoes or strawberries in the middle of winter; summer is the time for them.

But the thing is, we have to be careful not to turn seasonal and local eating into a chore or a law. We are fortunate to live in an age where we can enjoy fresh fruits and veggies all year long, no matter what your climate. And let's face it, we might not even know what a kiwi or a coconut is if not for global transit. That's a blessing. I find it odd that so many of the folks who advocate for seasonal and local eating are also those who consume coconut oil almost religiously, not to mention the oodles of grains and superfoods from other continents. Those two things really can't reconcile.

So enjoy eating seasonally and locally, but if you want fresh strawberries when there's two feet of snow on the ground, I say go for it! They may be from California or South America or whatever and you may live in upper Michigan, but really who cares? It's not the end of the world.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Happy New Year. A bit late.

New year, new goals. Resolutions are made, only to be broken within hours of the turning of the year. Seems like a new year ought to be a good time for a fresh start, no matter what your goals, but it's understandably difficult in the middle of winter, which is where most of us are at this present moment. Nothing says "wrap up in a blanket and watch Netflix" like cold and snow. But I digress.

Have you made a list of goals for 2015? Is it actually doable? Lists are great, but if they aren't actually achievable, then you'd probably be better off without a list. I have generally made a list of goals that ends up being on the unattainable side, so this year I'm taking a bit of a different approach. I do have a few year-long goals, but I also intend to assess separate goals for each month. This breaks the year down, and also I think it'll be easier to have season-specific goals listed during that season. Writing about summer plans and/or goals in the dead of winter is just not how I roll. I appreciate each season for what it is, and besides I actually like winter.

That being said, here are my January goals/plans, in no particular order.

  • Conquer clutter and put away Christmas decorations.
  • Bake a cranberry pie.
  • Learn a new piano piece.
  • Watch all ten seasons of Friends. (I'm on season 4, so this really is plausible haha.)
  • Sew a tree skirt (to use next year and beyond) from leftover wedding dress fabric.


As for my year-long goals, here are a couple.

  • Read at least 25 books. (I know I can read more than that, but more about my reading plans will be on my book blog soon.)
  • Train to be able to run a 5K. (I was doing this last year but stress fractures ruin things.)
  • Sew at least one project a month on my new sewing machine.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas is..

The meaning of Christmas is not family. (Nope, it really isn't.)

The meaning of Christmas is not Santa Claus and gifts.

The meaning of Christmas is, in the (paraphrased) words of the Grinch, "something a bit more".

So while you gather round the tree to open those gifts (from Santa or others) tomorrow morning, remember that this simply wouldn't be, if it weren't for the plan that God set in motion at the beginning of Time when we Fell from grace.

Christmas wouldn't exist, and we would still be a "people crying out in darkness" and waiting desperately for God's promise of a Savior to be fulfilled.

Yes, Christmas is a season of joy for most, but even amongst all those cups of eggnog and all those roasted chestnuts and every single scrap of paper and ribbon, never forget the reason for which that blessed baby boy was born as one of us.

We cannot have Christmas without Good Friday and Easter, because without the cross and the empty tomb, Christ's birth means nothing.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Christmas is God for us, forever. It is one of the central moments in all of human history, and so it is fitting that we celebrate the birth of our most precious Savior with festivities and gift giving and lots of twinkling lights. But let us remember why He became man, and as we gather around Word and Sacrament tonight and tomorrow morning in our brightly light churches, that we receive Him, God with us, Immanuel.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Christmas traditions


Growing up, my family had a tradition of getting out the Christmas decorations on or around my birthday, November 29th, as that was near enough to Advent and also I have a history of being obsessed with Christmas, so it worked out well. There were certain things I did literally every year, such as dragging out the really old artificial tree and setting it up on the freezing cold front porch, lights, ornaments, and tinsel included. It was a closed porch, so there was no wind, but it was still super cold!

In my own house now, the decorating still begins around my birthday, but we our main tree is a real tree, from one of the places nearby, since that's what Nate's family has always done. With our wedding anniversary being on the 3rd, we try to structure going to pick out our tree around then. And then it's home to wrestle with the lights, which is my father's job back home but I definitely do it now because dear hubby doesn't want to deal with it, heehee. I do not mind, since Dad taught me how to get lights on nearly every inch of evergreen. Our tree positively glows with multi-colored Christmas cheer.

Christmas traditions can be fun, sentimental, or downright obnoxious, depending on you and your family. Over the month of December, I will share with you the history behind various Christmas traditions, such as the evergreen tree, the poinsettia, Santa Claus/Father Christmas, and others.


Monday, December 1, 2014

You're most likely not "keeping Christ in Christmas".

Happy December and blessed Advent to everyone! To kick off the month of December, I am calling attention to a meme that has been viral for many years now, even before memes were memes and the internet was prominent. I'm talking about the phrase" Keep Christ in Christmas" that everyone shares around this time of year. Sounds harmless enough, but there are many reasons why it is not.

  • When you say things like "keep Christ in Christmas" you are actually turning the sentiment back upon yourself, (there's an understood "you/I" at the beginning of that phrase; grammar FTW) turning it into a work. We cannot by any means "keep Christ" in anything, because we are poor, miserable sinners who will find every little detour to keep Him out.

  • If you profess to be a child of God through Jesus Christ, then why does family trump Christ? I'm serious about this one. I have known far too many churches to cancel their services if Christmas falls on a Sunday, in the name of family. Sorry, but that's not right. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are not about family, or parties, or alcohol and food, or gifts. They are about the birth of our precious Savior, the greatest gift we will ever receive. So please don't tell me you are keeping Christ in Christmas or that "Jesus is the reason for the season" if you do not go to church and gather around the Word and Sacrament on these Holy Days.

  • The absolute most important thing you can even do during this, the reflective season of Advent, is to attend a church that focuses on Christ and how He was long foretold. Truly confessional churches structure their services around the coming of Christ, all leading up to His humble birth.

That being said, I am not a scrooge. (See my most recent post!) Of course spend time with family, go to Christmas parties, and enjoy the food, drink, and gifts. But I challenge my readers to remember why we even celebrate during this festive season. Gather the family on Christmas Eve and find a traditional candelight church service nearby. If you truly want Jesus Christ to remain the center of our celebration, as you are implying with the sharing of that meme, then remember the reason He was even brought down to earth to be born and live as one of us.

This one is MUCH better.

O Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory, King of kings, and Lord of lords, the Son of the living God and Son of David, come. Come now to Your Church that you have purchased with Your blood. Come with Your gracious presence, that we may rejoice in You. Come and rule over us, that we may serve and follow You. Come with Your love, humility, and perfect obedience, and let Your lowliness become our glory. Come into the midst of Your people and bless us, for we are Your heritage. Forgive us our sin, and do not angrily cast away Your servants, for You are meek and gracious. Clothe us with the garment of Your righteousness, for You are the only righteous one and our helper. Satisfy us with the abundance of Your mercy, for You did become poor for our sakes, that by Your poverty we might be made rich. Hear us, Lord Jesus, for the sake of Your holy name. Amen.
~prayer for Advent, Lutheran Book of Prayer (CPH), page 120

Monday, November 24, 2014

The holidays are upon us.

It's the final week in November. There is lots of rain, soon to become snow. Yesterday was the Sunday of the Fulfillment, which is the last Sunday in the church year. What this means is that Advent is upon us, along with many other celebrations. Thursday is Thanksgiving, Saturday is my birthday, and next Wednesday is our 3rd wedding anniversary. Time flies.

Always be thankful. It is fitting that Thanksgiving takes place so close to the beginning of Advent, because we reflect on our blessings around the family table, overloaded with food and laughter, and then begin the all too short journey of reflection towards the celebration one of the greatest events in the history of the universe: Christmas Day.

Never mind that the world begins to celebrate Christmas as soon as All Hallow's Eve comes to a close and All Saints' Day dawns; we Christians have a blessed freedom in Christ to enjoy the secular merriment and reflect during Advent. Plus, we know that the season of Christmas doesn't end on December 25th! The Christmas season in the church year culminates with Epiphany, the celebration of the visit of the Magi, on January 6th.

Life is short, and it's silly to get all grouchy when the Christmas music begins playing in mid-November. In fact, I welcome it, because within all the fun (and strange, yes) secular holiday music playing, the message of Jesus' birth will come through. It's there, my friends. Rejoice in that. Don't refuse to listen to Christmas music. At least don't refuse to listen to it once December rolls around. Enjoy this season of family, merriment, and fun, which also remembering that Jesus came for us and why He came.

The holidays are upon us, and my family in particular has a few extra special days between Thanksgiving and Epiphany, some I did not specifically name. I am sure other families have special days in this time too.

Enjoy it, my friends. The freedom we have in Christ does not equal being a scrooge about all things secular.

With that being said, I'm going to dig out my stash of construction paper, put on some Christmas music, and craft some snowflakes and maybe a paper chain or two. And figure out where the heck our Christmas tree is going to go.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I feel like my Star Wars fan status should be revoked.

At least, it should have been revoked for the last five years or so. Granted, I was busy with life, going through college and getting married and moving and such. But I've lately been inundated with Star Wars news because of the movie being in production, and I realized there's a lot of Star Wars stuff that I have missed. Star Wars has long been my favourite movie saga, though the prequels do leave a lot to be desired. I loved them as a kid/teen and I'm not going to throw that love entirely out the window, but I digress.

I used to be an avid reader of the Star Wars Expanded Universe (EU) novels. My father handed me a copy of Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn when I was eleven and I didn't look back. The Thrawn trilogy remains at the top of my book list, and I discovered a character who would quickly become my favourite character in any book/movie/game universe ever. Her name? Mara Jade. She never appears in the films, but she is honestly the best. I have cosplayed as her more times than I can count. And the last Star Wars book that I read was the one in which she was brutally killed. That was shortly after I started college, and I was so devastated that I basically quit Star Wars for a time. I just couldn't continue the Legacy of the Force series. I was literally heartbroken, and possibly more heartbroken than I've been in my life. Probably not but whatever.  I was so angry with the author, Karen Traviss, even though I know it wasn't really her decision completely. And I think Timothy Zahn was angry at his character being killed, so that makes me feel a tiny bit better. The fact remains that couldn't handle her death and it's taken me a long time to get back into the EU and various aspects of Star Wars.

But I'm back in now. I've played a few games, I've read a few novels, Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn being the one I'm currently reading, and I've been getting into the online world of fellow Star Wars fans. My favourite thing right now is a new podcast called Jedi Alliance. It began in August, and I'm in love with it. It has its really weird moments, but it's a solid 45 minutes of Star Wars nerdiness. I can't argue with it. They've got everything from random trivia to fan stuff to obscure parts of the universe to news on Episode VII. Ken Napzok and Maude Garret are hilarious, and the obvious dedication they have to such an incredible saga is fantastic. You can find it on iTunes and on YouTube.


This was a hard post to write. Roll your eyes all you want, but I had to write it. This is my personal blog, and these are my thoughts. Star Wars has been central in my fangirl life and I'm finally admitting that I can move on. Though I'm still not *that* excited about Episode VII.