Crema

noticing joy on the surface of simple things … the evidence of holiness happening in the daily grind.

Cleaning Day! November 14, 2013

I have never in all of my life been excited about cleaning.  When the cleaning is complete,  the calm, orderly, put-back-in-place, sometimes even shiny space I live in, makes me happy.  But excited about the cleaning itself – never.

Until tonight.

Next to my desk is the stairway down to the front door of our apartment.  As I write, on the floor between my desk and the stairs is a line up of things ready to go.  Swiffer heads up the troupes.   Next in line is blue bucket with Swiffer refills, Mr. Clean magic eraser, Mrs. Meyers Clean Day All Purpose, 409, and Windex.  Behind them stands white container with rags, then blue container with band aids, Advil, and sponges.  Red Niwot Market canvas bag pulls up the rear carrying paper towels, napkins, toilet paper, kleenex, soap, shampoo, conditioner.  Dawn, Bar Keepers Friend, shelf paper, and toilet bowl brushes are already in the car.

Tomorrow is Cleaning Day!  I am so excited, and that is not an exaggeration or me being dramatic.  Tomorrow morning, Calvin (my labrador pal) and I are heading  to Boynton Beach to clean.  It’s official, we now own a little townhouse by the sea.  It is in need of good ol fashioned Dutch cleaning and fresh paint, a bit of carpet and a bathroom redo.  Thankfully we’ve got a few weeks before we move all our stuff in.  For now, we have all the furniture we need there (bought it with the place), in the spot we imagine spending the most time.  The patio is the part of the townhouse that sold us immediately.

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We are tremendously thankful.

I am thankful for a husband that stewards our money well so we can own a place and live within our means.  We are thankful for Michele H and Laurie S for driving us from Lighthouse Point to Boynton Beach and towns in between,  looking…looking…looking;  for all the people who helped bring the mountains of paperwork to the table; for God who led us to this place we otherwise would not have found; and for those who supported us during this long year of waiting, disappointment, searching, and adventure.

I’m relieved the closing is complete and now… I am ready to clean!

p.s.  I heard that its a 2 mile walk or a 4 minute drive to the beach from this place…

 

 

Day 31: And Finally, A Word From My Sponsor November 8, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — lauradegroot @ 2:37 am

Final Button 3He is a self-described, King of Leftovers.  He has a love affair with White Castle and has since childhood.  He was famous in our home on Saturday mornings for whipping up pancakes or french toast or taking us all out for donuts.   He created the “clean out the container” game which we played most Sundays after church.  He likes being married to one who speaks Food as a love language.  And finally he wanted to contribute his strong opinion to the series:

Men are better fed than understood.

Thanks hubby.

 

Day 30: Food Love Stories November 7, 2013

Three Food Love Stories

Key Lime Love

When I turned 40 (yesterday…not really, a few yesteryears ago) my hubby threw me a surprise party.  He planned it via email in one week and no one blew it.  A handmade card from the girls gifted me with “go out with dad and we will stay home alone and pay for your dinner.”  My sweet near 12 year olds offered the gift of bravery and we took them up on it.  JR paid for dinner.  There were 2 calls during dinner which JR took,  passing on the updates from the brave ones.  Of course, they were in on the whole thing.

We pulled in the garage, I opened the door into the kitchen and in 2.5 seconds all of this happened:

  • I noticed the room was pitch black
  • The dog didn’t come to the door
  • The girls would NEVER have all the lights off
  • There was the silhouette of a very tall man dressed in all dark clothing
  • I panicked
  • The lights went on
  • 40 people I love shouted surprise
  • I fell in the doorway.

Horrific fear and delightful surprise slammed into each other.  The next 10 seconds all of this happened:

  • I saw my BFF  sitting on my kitchen stool
  • I went to her and started crying
  • I sobbed, “I LOVE SURPRISES”
  • She laughed and said, “I know you do”
  • I turned and saw all the people and couldn’t say anything
  • Then I saw the table full of everything Key Lime you can think of
  • I indignantly said to my hubby – who pulled off this wonderful surprise,  “Why did you let me order key lime pie at the restaurant?”

He said he didn’t want to blow the surprise over dessert!  It is the best gift he’s ever given me.

Hand Me Downs

When reorganizing my file drawer after moving into our little apartment here, I came across this envelope from my Grandma Rozie (Mother Mary’s mom).  Here’s what was inside:

  • One 4×6 card with a recipe for Never Fail Tomato Soup.  It has a swirly line under the title and this comment:  From Pella’s Choicest Cooking Recipes, green book.
  • “Leanne’s recipe – Delicious” on a Ciba Seeds note page with a recipe for something that has strawberries, yogurt, marshmallows in it and she took it for a potluck in R.Rapids Health Centre
  • 6 newspaper cut outs with recipes for Three Bean Salad, Rhubarb Blueberry Jam, Crock pot Barbecued Roast Beef, Sumi Salad, Creamy Rice Pudding, and Good Moist Coffee Cake
  • A Mutual Telephone Company  ‘tear off and remit with payment’ portion of the bill with a recipe for Penuche frosting on the back.
  • And a newspaper poem.  I’ll just share these few lines:

“All angels don’t have silver wings, Or long gossamer robes of white, Nor do they have haloes,  Of gold that glow both day and night.                                                                       There are those in polyester,  Who hasten to a sick friends’ bed, With love, a bowl of chick soup, And loaf of homemade bread.” 

Foodie language handed down through generations found in an envelope.  That explains a few things I love.

Crunchy Chili and Hard Tack

Michigan in the fall is spectacular.  They have colors there I’ve never seen anywhere else.  Michigan has two of the best things in my life.  1Pyc565026517m

I was just there in soup season, in my sweet spot.  Friday pizza birthday party night was a kitchen that slowly filled up with college students.  They came to celebrate,  meet and be met, and take part in dinner preparation.  I stood in the center of  kneading bread, chopping veggies, grating cheese and thinking, ‘life doesn’t get much better than this for me.’  I laughed when the girls pulled their dough covered hands out of the bowls asking why ‘hers looks different from mine’ and I remembered the missing 1/2 cup of water.  I thankfully handed the many blocks of mozzarella to ‘i want to do something’ helpers.  A meaningful conversation happened by the sink as one shared a piece of her life and learnings so kindly with me.   When it was time for assembly the volume increased around what would go on first, last, on half  or the whole thing.  Evenutally we ate the pizza creations, opened birthday gifts, shared life stories.

A day later, JR and I arrived at the house loaded with groceries once again and started some beans to soak overnight and prepare ingredients for chili the next day.  Prior to church Sunday, we threw ingredients in 2 crockpots and turned them on high.  What smelled good when we returned for lunch turned out to be chili with hard beans.  I took out a pot and poured one crockpot full into it and boiled away.  Even after 2 hours in the crock pot and an hour on the stove the beans were not very done.  Turns out that crunchy chili went well with the missing baking powder cornbread (aka: hard tack).  Yet, this less than perfect food didn’t take away anything from the joy of sitting around the table with my family and their community of delightful friends.   

Getting the food, making the food, eating the food…this is the love language I speak.

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Day 29: Good Things in Stinky Cans November 6, 2013

Final Button 3Part of  today’s post is another repeat from 4 years ago, but it applies to this day, this moment and I needed the reminder. It is more about cat food than people food.

When we moved to SoFL we knew there would be surprises.   We did not expect them to come in the form of real estate.  I know that in the big scheme of life this is minor and momentary, but JR reminded me that I don’t have to deny that it’s discouraging.  Closing on the little townhouse by the sea was set for tomorrow.  That’s not happening.  “Temporary setback;  a minor hiccup; an unfortunate delay” are the sentences I read from realtors and mortgage brokers today.  Hopefully that is true.  Today though, the emotional pot got all stirred up and it just smells stinky.  I will therefore share this earlier post as it was helpful to me.  And when, yes WHEN something good happens, I will report that too.

I will also provide pictures of Pekoe this time.  She is good for a laugh if anyone out there needs that today besides me!

Pekoe is our cross-eyed cat.  She is also cross-bred Siamese & Russian Blue which makes for a super soft, significantly shedding cat coat.  She only likes canned cat food.  She would rather starve than eat that crunchy stuff.  Have you ever smelled a can of cat food?  Stinky!  Pekoe loves it, lives on it. 

Yesterday, I was opening a can of tuna for lunch and started laughing at the realization I too eat stinky food from a can.  A tuna sandwich is a good thing, but the smell of it strongly resembles cat food. 

There are moments in my days, days in my months, seasons in my years that have really stunk.  Circumstances with loss; situations of change; episodes of aggravation;   happenings of hard times; matters of adversity;  scenes of stress and strain; conditions of complication; occasions of anxiety; cases of crisis.  I do not live for them. I do not love them.     

I have found good things in all these stinky cans.  Although the discovery of good isn’t always immediate, it’s always there.   I am often slow to embrace the gifts that are found in the seasons, months, days of what seems repulsive and rotten. I want simplicity and strength.   I need comfort and kindness & encouragement.  I want peace and contentment.  I crave perspective and perseverance and progress.  I hope for wholeness.  These are what I love, what I live on. 

Maybe Pekoe has a cross-sense of smell.  Maybe she knows that the great things in life don’t always smell like it. 

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Day 28: Hearing His Voice November 5, 2013

Final Button 3There are several places I can hear the Originator, Author, Creator.  He speaks the perfect Love Language,  sometimes in conviction, sometimes with clarity, so often summoning me to trust without understanding.  I’m learning to pay attention to His Voice, especially in these places:  ironing space, cooking space, & walking the dog places.  My heart ears are more tuned in, less distracted.  So it is with awe and wonder I receive thoughts from my daughter on baking bread and conflict.  I believe she too is hearing His Voice as she learns the love language of food.

She gave me permission to share.

“Today, baking bread reminds me of conflict.  You see, baking bread takes time. So does conflict. It isn’t something that you can plan into your schedule, or check off of your to-do list. Conflict is often a lengthy process. It is crucial to understand that time spent on resolving conflict is valuable and necessary. Time also allows healing.  It allows those engaged in conflict to come to a new place of understanding. 

You have to stick your hands in the dough and knead it until your forearms are sore. Conflict is the same way:  it requires hard work,  is not “hands-off” or something that one person can back out of.  If they do, the level of conflict might increase, or the friendship could end.  Dough sticks on your hands, fingers, fingernails. Even if you wash it off, remnants remain and crust over until you scratch them off.  Stickiness is also a factor of conflict.  It sticks on your mind, your spirit, your heart.   Sometimes, it does leave small scars that you “scratch” off.  Scars may remind you of the friendship that had to end, or the conflict that improved the friendship.

Baking bread requires multiple tries, and most of the time, much attention to detail. You normally don’t get it right the first time. Or the second. By time five, maybe you have begun to get a handle on things.  During the first (second, third, fourth, fifth) time that you are baking bread, it takes laughter and a great sense of humor to realize that you misread the recipe, and didn’t add enough water to the mix. Once you realize you have misread the recipe, you call your grandma and ask her for help. She gives you wisdom that should have been obvious in the current situation, but clearly that wisdom hadn’t dawned on you. You follow her directions (even when the bread seems hopeless and dry as play-doh) and find that there is hope for the bread (even if it is a little chunky on the inside).   Friendships often need multiple tries.   No one understands friendship or executes it perfectly at any point in life. Laughter is a key ingredient and is always welcome in friendship, and can be used with discretion during times of conflict.  In the midst of conflict, calling a wiser friend, parent, sibling or relative can give perspective, wisdom, joy, and reassurance.

Bread baking is messy.  There may times during the baking process that you need someone to pull up your sleeves and tell you how much flour you have on your sweatshirt. Similarly, friends involved in conflict need to confess their own failures, and express what the other friend did that hurt them.  

Baking bread requires space and creativity & time to rest.   Once you get through the process of mixing the ingredients, you have to let it sit.  And you wait. When the time comes, you punch it down and then let it rise all over again.  Friends must realize that giving each other space during a time of conflict is vital. Space allows for rest, reflection, perspective.  Issues that initiated conflict need time to “sit,” so that they are not blown out of proportion. Sometimes, the issues need re-assessment, or punching down. This re-assessment can allow friends to widen their perspectives, and understand the truth of the issues, not what was assumed.

 Finally, you bake that dough and something beautiful comes from it (hopefully).  You may realize the process is just as memorable as the product.  One of the best parts of friendship is resolving conflict.  Friends may find that conflict helped them to grow as people and as friends.  That’s beautiful.”

 

Here are some pictures of Lauren and a really good friend Scotch, who worked through a lot of conflict.  The results of that friendship…Absolutely Beautiful.

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Day 27: The Origin of Tea Time November 4, 2013

Final Button 3Most of the people I first met in Florida were fellow dog owners in our Apartment complex.  The dogs gave us a common interest and reason for conversation.  A few of those women have become more than just a fellow dog owner.  I am thankful and know that as we get ready to finish the home buying adventure this week, I will miss seeing them daily.  On one occasion my neighbor Cheryl and I realized we both grew up with Tea Time.  After school or between 3-4 pm, the tea-pot and cookies came out.  Black tea in a favorite mug with milk and sugar was and still is my favorite.

I decided to ask Mother Mary about this topic in my interview and the answer went down a lane I didn’t expect.  Enjoy:

Q:  Tell me about tea time origination?

“It’s from the time of Adam and Eve I am sure….I remember it with Grandpa  and Grandma Mouw, (MM’s Grandparents also called pa/ma) we always had tea time in afternoon.  There was catechism after school then we might walk to pa and ma….they would stop the earthquake for tea time.  It was around 3:00 in the afternoon.  

I guess tea time was part of  family routine.  Grandpa (my Grandpa – Mother Mary’s father), he had breakfast at home, then we brought “lunch” to him in the field at 9/9:30. Lunch was a sandwich with cookies or cake carried in a gallon size Karo syrup tin bucket.  There would be another tin bucket, 1/2 gallon size, that had coffee in the morning and tea milk in the afternoon.  

One of us girls (there were 5 girls, no boys) would walk to the field and find Grandpa.  Geri (the youngest) LOVED it.  Grandpa would be watching and go to the end of the row, park the tractor so they could sit in the shade , leaning against the big wheel, and eat together.  Usually just one of us got to go.  And there was always a dog that went along.  (me:  I love that).  He would come in for dinner at noon.  It was a  big meal,  meat and potatoes or casserole.  Lunch would happen again at 3:30, same routine as the morning.  Supper was a lighter meal, but plenty believe me.  Grandpa came home from the field, did chores and then ate supper.  

Quite often before bed we would have another snack. “

Me:  “You ate a lot. ”

MM:  “Yes, we worked hard”

“Harvesters…as they moved from place to place, my mother would cook those meals for all those men.  We helped.  In the morning we would catch chickens, pluck and fry them,  go to the garden get veggies, bake pies, cookies/cake.  Sometimes other wives would come and help.   That was hard work.  We would do a few days in a row usually for 10-15 men.  The men were harvesting oats.  They would cut, bundle, put them in shocks.  One man owned a threshing machine.  He would run the machine on your property – all would work together to bring in the shocks and put them into the machine.  The oats  would run down into a wagon.  The wagon of oats would go in the granary on the farm.  This was for livestock not for breakfast oatmeal.  Just wanna be clear. ( I needed the clarity…I did not grow up on the farm.  And if I did, I would have run and hidden the chickens).   When they were done they would go on to the next place.  

By the way, Grandpa was thin, and he ate lots of butter, cookies, cake, pie, potatoes, lots of meat, but he worked hard.   We had our own meat – never bought it.  So a hotdog was a rare treat.  I still like them, got to be a good one though.  All this junk you can put on them – No No –  just a bit of relish, mustard, chopped onion and plenty of ketchup.

And I just had to add this extra note because I found it sweet…the original make your own dog/cat food:

“There were always outside kitties.  The kitties and the dog got table scraps  Peelings from potatoes apples and such – went to the hogs.  Kitties would get milk in the barn when Grandpa milked.  I don’t think we ever bought dog food.”

Tea Time when I was growing up happened because MM was intentional about it.  It was a part of her life as a girl, but she incorporated it as a mother because her children were hungry after school, needed a snack, so she would pour us tea.  We would take a breath and tell her a thing or two about our day.

Thanks Mother Mary for Tea Time.  Thanks for the history behind an ordinary, meaningful part of my life and yours.  Would love to have a cup with you on your birthday today, with your favorite cookie out of the Cookie Book!

 

 

 

 

Day 26: Interview With Mother Mary November 3, 2013

At the beginning of this writing project, I knew I would interview my mother.  It may have been the best 2 hours of my whole week.  And this is how she began:

When I think of food – it wakes up everything in me – wakes up sight, smell, taste; it delights all my senses.”

We set a day and time for the interview.  It was easy to get her sitting down as she is healing from her bionic hip replacement.  She had prepared some thoughts prior to my questions, observations that were news even to me.  Here was the first:

“I love potlucks.  I look at that at those long tables, full of food, realizing I only have room for a small amount of it on my plate.  I think of the first one at this church (in Minnesota) over 20 years ago.  I  couldn’t believe my eyes…there was no color on the table.  Not a green salad in sight, maybe green jello but I doubt it because they only use red or orange.  The food was pretty plain – white, lots of hot dish, but what there was…Rice pudding, it was so delicious.  There were  3 or 4 varieties of that.   People were not as conscious about eating healthy then.  It is different now.  “

Q:  What are your favorite foods? 

A:  Soup because it’s fall. Anything with apples, because its fall;  pie, crisp, baked apples.  Homemade bread..Homemade Jam… Good roast with mashed potatoes and veggies…Salads with lots of interesting things on top.  I prefer to make my own dressing.  I love a good casserole, which probably  explains why I like  potlucks.  I don’t make them often anymore.  Cornbread and baked beans”

Q: Why did you make us breakfast every morning

A:  “Because you kids needed breakfast.  You needed food to think.  In my mind it’s part of being a good mother, having made sure my kids had a good breakfast.”

It turns our she didn’t even eat it herself.  She rotated the following:  boiled eggs, (jeff would eat the yolks and Julia would eat the whites); muffins, french toast, pancakes, rice n raisins, bread pudding, toast fingers, egg sandwiches.  I remember high school final exam week, she would insist I eat breakfast though I wasn’t hungry that early in the morning.  MM ran through a list of ideas until she found one thing I agreed to:  cheese burgers in the electric skillet – between bread or a bun rubbed through the pan burger bits/grease.  Mmmmmm.

Sunday mornings catered to my dad’s favorite:  Homemade dough tea ring or store-bought Danish with jelly or cream cheese filling and scrambled eggs.  What you need to know is that my mother was the church organist.  We had that meal before church, yet 5 kids and one dad all showed up to church on time (she was early to warm up), hair done, dressed up.

She didn’t know the answer to the question:  How did you do that?

A few years ago my mom wrote and published a cookbook.  It was many years between the idea and the finished product.  I admire her and thank her for that accomplishment.  The book gets a lot of use in my kitchen.   Of course, I wanted to print that story.

Q: Why did you write the Cookie Book?

A:  “Because of dad’s great love for cookies.  Also because you kids and your families and I love great cookies too.  I also did it to leave a sign of love and testimony for my kids and grandkids.  Dad’s favorite cookie  is the first recipe in the book.”

T1 and T2 nicknamed my father Mr. Wonderful.   I must insert here that one of the ways my mom speaks food love language, is to leave a container of cookies for Mr. Wonderful when she goes away.  During December she loved a lot more than just dad with her cookies.  There was a stack of containers in the garage all month-long.  (winter in South Dakota means the garage is the same temp as your freezer).  Each had a different type of cookie, candy, or bar that was made only that time of year.  And gallon buckets of homemade chex mix.  Mother Mary would pull out a sample platter anytime someone came over.  I and my siblings went out and snuck out there all month-long to get a thing or two for tea time, night-time, it-sounds-good-now time.

I am craving all those containers right now.   Shoot.

Q:  Why did it take so long to write the Cookie Book?

“I was afraid of the computer; of putting it together; the thought of it all.  It was an overwhelming task.  It finally happened because of Julia (my sister who passed away 2 years ago).  Julia had medical appointments in the city, so I took the computer along and typed while I was waiting for her.  The first time, I only typed one recipe.   There was a young man waiting for his girlfriend, I asked if he knew about computers.  That kid was all over me.  He sat at my elbow, walked me through my questions and beyond.  He was so excited about computers.  I  bought him lunch as a sign of thanks.  He told me that he was looking for work while waiting to go back to school.  I gave him this idea:  give classes for older women who don’t know how to use computers because  you are so good and know how to explain it.”

The young man got her connected to the internet and off she went.   Pretty soon she was ‘whippin them out pretty good.’  Most of the typing happened at Julia’s appointments.

Hannah (the gem my brother John married), may not think she did that much but MM adamantly said, “I could NOT have done it without her.”  Mom wanted those recipes to be written perfectly  before she sent it to Hannah.  Hannah is responsible for all that happened when the recipes were handed over.  Thank You Hannah from all of us who love the Cookie Book!

Q:  How did the cookbook get its name?

A:  “There was a book naming contest at John and Hannah’s kitchen table with their 4 children.  The prize: a root beer float.  The kids came up with lists.  The only stipulation:  I didn’t want my name in the title.     At some point Marybell pipes up, ‘..well why don’t you just call it Cookie Book?’ everyone’s eyes lit up and agreed – ‘that’s what you need to call it.’  I added the subtitle because in the process of writing, you all asked for my salads and your favorite recipe requests.”

The full title of the book is:  Cookie Book;  With Salads and Other Good Stuff.  The ONLY negative about this cookbook is its lack of availability.  I’ve encouraged her for years to make them available to people other than family and special friends.  Maybe you could help me convince her by letting me know that you would want the Cookie Book if you could get one.

Q:  Is Food  a Love Language of yours?

A:  “CANT YOU TELL, but you’re way better at it than I am.  I never thought of food as a love language, but I certainly do now.  I never would have put it in those words, but it is so loving.” 

My Dad says Mother Mary’s  family is way to preoccupied with food  He says that half their life revolves around food or talking about it.  Letters were always full of what they had at this gathering and that gathering.  It was a love language in a letter.

I agree Mr Wonderful that a lot o life has and does revolve around food, in mom’s family and in mine too.  But think of how YOU benefit….no whining.   Here’s how she ended the interview:

“I just finished eating my famous Cottage Cheese Sundae.  It’s so good for you and don’t vary it at all.”   

I needed a reminder of how to put it together.  Here’s how:  Cottage Cheese; pineapple; raisins; nuts, drizzle with honey.

Meet Mother Mary and Mr. Wonderful along with a few others…(there is just one tiny picture MM may not appreciate, but you have to see what a good sport she is…)

Best parents ever

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followingthewatershed

wa·ter·shed (noun) 1. an area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas. 2. an event or period marking a turning point, a change of course.

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Crema

noticing joy on the surface of simple things … the evidence of holiness happening in the daily grind.

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noticing joy on the surface of simple things … the evidence of holiness happening in the daily grind.

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