27 June 2012

Life of Pie: the Girl Friday Edition

my best friend beth's favorite book is Life of Pi. this has nothing to do with that strange little read. here's why...

start with some fresh picked produce (strawberries, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, etc. but apples come a little later)

pick a recipe for a delicious pie crust.
this one is my new fav. it is from a homemade poptart recipe that i tried and loved so it's not your traditional pie crust. i find pie crust to be a little too particular and persnickety {i adore that word} for my baking personality. 

3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup melted butter
1 cup plain yogurt

mix the ingredients til they come together to form a nice, not sticky dough. easy to handle. the kids will love to help with this!

use your hands to press into a prepared {well greased} pie dish. put in your fruit that has been tossed with a generous amount of raw sugar and lemon juice. then flour and roll out another portion of the pie crust for the top of the pie. be sure to douse with a little more raw sugar and cinnamon. don't forget to cut a few slits on the top crust so that the pie doesn't explode in your oven.

bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.

after the pie has time to cool, whip up some cream-the perfect accompaniment.  

for the whipped cream all you need is some heavy whipping cream, a mixer, a little powder sugar and a smig of vanilla extract. pour in desired amount of each ingredient and turn on your mixer. watch with delight as your liquid turns to foam turns to cream right before your very eyes. you will NEVER buy that crappy store bought stuff again. ever. and i am willing to bet one of boys on that! {well, not really, but still!}

here's a recap: 
share it with your friends. enjoy! and stay cool. xo gf

26 June 2012

right now

{i borrowed this idea from one of my favorite places.}

right now i am...

:thinking of my niece magnolia as she flies to haiti to help build an orphanage

:adding up all the medical bills from this past week's dental excursions, x-rays etc

:praising we have the money to pay for all our medical bills

:enjoying an unseasonably cool day. today's high is 79!

:mourning the news of a friend's husband's sudden death

:enjoying a little household quiet since two boys are at camp whilst the other two recoup from dental procedures

:thanking the dog for sitting content with his bone so i can sit for a moment

:thinking of all the millions of details that need tending to before we leave for our big,fat southern vacation

:getting excited to send the boys off to cousins camp this weekend

:planning to have a few days with the littlest-just him and me

:feeling nervous about the littlest's CAT scan tomorrow

:thinking it's probably nothing

:crushing on sufjan stevens on pandora

:anticipating an afternoon of fishing with two avid fishermen

:recalling my childhood spent fishing in our little pond 

:sneaking away to the gym since i slept through my 5 am wake up call 

:remembering i have two more chapters to finish before tonight's book club

:craving a banana shake, but will satisfy the craving with a milk/banana blend instead. so good!

:planning our next summertime alfresco meal. tonight? tonight!
what about you?

21 June 2012

Dear Sister

auntie d with george
everyone has their secrets. mine is my sister, donna. she has given me invaluable advice like just because you are going to prom doesn't mean you should wear sequins. i have watched her graciously host a few soirees effortlessly {as i sit in the corner taking copious notes}. she was the one who convinced me i should change my major in college right before i met with my advisor who was the head of the department which resulted in a transfer from a small, private all girls college to a huge, state school. you could say my sister is kind of a big deal. and today is her birthday. she is a smashing none-of-your-business-but-if-you-knew-you-wouldn't-believe-it-years old.

my sister loves a good handwritten, heartfelt card. me being the dead beat that i am decided to just write a blogpost. i'll call it "ode to donna". now to get her to turn on her computer to read it. here goes...

dearest sister.
remember that time you visited me at college and someone mistook you for my mother? that was hilarious. you didn't think so. but then recently two of my friends ran into you and thought you were me so who had the last laugh? remember that time you bought me and my boyfriend booze? that was so bad, but thanks. those wine coolers were tasty. remember that time i spilled clear nail polish down the arm of your newly recovered newlywed sofa? you were so great. you didn't even yell at me. and you let me crash on that sofa many a night when i needed a place to stay. remember that time i wanted to live with you because our parents were trying to decide whether they wanted to stay married? you were so kind to offer me your guest bedroom in your tiny memphis apartment. speaking of memphis, remember all those concerts at mud island? those were so much fun. remember that time you brought home that boy and i sat in between the two of you with old photo albums? that was so funny. i think that was the first time i saw you seething angry.

you have taught me how to laugh by not taking myself too seriously. how many times have we wet our pants from laughing too hard? funny back then. now that we are getting older, not so much. 

i love/hate how you know people everywhere. your husband is right. you are like the mayor. you asked me to be the godmother to your firstborn, and i returned the favor. my boys know you love them deeply. just yesterday george said, "joseph's mom is so fun. she took us to sonic." to which i said, "you mean aunt donna?" 
you have consistently surprised me with your fervor for truth and authenticity and you love jesus when nobody is looking. i love that about you. something else i love about you is you are a fighter. a fighter for relationships. a fighter for love. you mess up, and you own it. so thanks for that. i also love that even when you meet a person in need you go out of your way to help them even when it isn't convenient. how many homeless people have you given a ride or taken for a meal, sat with to listen to their story and offered a prayer or forgiven when they stole not one, but both of your cars and wrecked one? 

i take full credit for your dance moves even though you were born, ahem, a few years before me. i miss our thanksgiving dance fests. can we have one the next time i am home?

hey, thanks for letting me copy you and not complaining. thank you for letting me borrow your clothes when you were away at college {even though i didn't ask and you probably didn't know}. thanks for loving me and my younger-sister-selfish-ways and being patient as i realized it. i would not have made a good older sister. i am too impatient and easily forgetful, but not you. you are a gem and our father's favorite. he told me what he is giving you for your birthday, and i totally flipped out then he reminded me that he bought me a new camera and i backed down. i have said this before, i am so thankful we have each other in light of how crazy our family is {but crazy breeds character and we got a lot of that so that's good}.
we are lucky to have you! you make the world a more beautiful place. i cannot wait to see how you continue to flourish as the lord continues to grow you into the person he made you to be. here's to many more years of enjoying a life well lived, standing on god's promises and never ever giving up. 

i love you, thelma! xo

20 June 2012

riding in cars with boys

one of my favorite memories with my husband was when we were about to embark on a long road trip across the country. as we pulled out of the driveway, i said, "let's talk baby names." we were not even engaged. and we had a long road ahead of us literally and figuratively. 

i guess you could say some of our most meaningful talks have been in the car. it was on that first long road trip out west that we discovered that he had experienced as many early deaths in his family as i had divorces. the exact same number. who has the time to find out such minute details, but on a long road trip? that was long before there was technology to drown out the conversation. 

my most meaningful talks with my boys {i can't remember if any of their names made the baby list those many years ago during that infamous 'baby talk' drive} have also happened while driving. i think it's because we are sitting close, going somewhere, not looking at each other, and neither of us can leave the room. yesterday i found myself alone in the car with just one boy. we were on our way to the orthodontist. he was telling me about how a kid at the pool had called him "train tracks" because of his braces. "and mom. the thing is, he had braces too so i said, 'who are you calling 'train tracks', piranha?" this unpleasant exchange spurred me to explain how kids can sometimes be unkind {my boy's piranha comment not excluded}. i explained that as a homeschooler he isn't always privy to how kids can sometimes be cruel. "mom, i want to go to real high school." this is not the first time he has shared his hope with me. and i have always answered with, "let's wait and see." i confessed to him that as a mother i so want to protect him from things: hurt, temptation, distraction, anything that is not wholesome. but i also know that those things will eventually find him. as we drove down the road i explained, "i would rather those things find you while you are still living with us so that we can walk you through them than when you are not living with us, and we can't."
today i had a story to share with him, something i had just read by one of my favorite writers andrĂ©e seu peterson. she wrote about trees. apparently it isn't healthy to stake a newly planted tree because when the winds come the tree will not be forced to take root. instead, when a new tree is planted in the soil, it should be simply planted so that it can do what it is made to do-take root. when the rough winds come and buffets the sapling, the roots of the tree will grow deeper and stronger. the stake, on the other hand, keeps the tree from taking root and in the words of mrs. peterson, "makes the young tree a sitting duck for a good stiff gust." 

that reminds me a great deal of parenting. i explained this to my second born son. how i desperately wish to shelter him like that stake does for the tree, but how that shelter isn't always what's best so while he lives with us, we would rather the winds blow hard so that we can help steady his tree as his roots dig in. 

i adore our car talks and hope someday my boys will enjoy equally satisfying car talks with their kids. speaking of my kids driving...check this out. a bit long, but worth it! 


19 June 2012

Help Wanted

{This morning my darling husband sent me a link to an au pair agency. It has been 13 years now of parenting. While most of our friends have dropped their little ones off at Mother's Day Out, Preschool, public school, we have not. While some of our friends have regular help, live-in help, families who chip in to watch their children, we have always just taken care of our own and often other people's children. And frankly, I am quite tired. The cracks are starting to show, and I am pretty desperate as is my Mister. So today I sat down to draft this classifieds ad as my brood of boys drug out their earthly belongings onto the front lawn in hopes of having their own impromptu garage sale.}

Mother of 4 well-behaved {mostly} boys aged 13 years-5 years seeks the assistance of a younger version of herself-someone who has the energy to pursue their interests at the pool, nature park, library, home, and movies whilst she has a moment to herself. 

You must be comfortable caring for the boys sans television and have the ability to discipline when needed. We would love to have someone to also care for the boys overnight so that the mother and her Mister may have an occasional night away from their darling sons.

Monitoring the boys as they pick up their belongings and work on their schoolwork are also part of the job description.  {i.e. the Mother doesn't want to come home to a house that has been trashed and lads playing on their handheld gadgets.}

Must be comfortable around a sweet dog and be a nonsmoker.  Superpowers aren't necessary, but would be helpful. 

Position to begin immediately upon completion of an interview as well as an outdoor obstacle course. 

A generous wage will be offered! We are hoping for 10-20 hours per week beginning in June and lasting til the youngest graduates high school.

Thank you for your consideration,
Girl Friday

{If you know of anyone, seriously, let me know!}

18 June 2012

i have a dream

 There is a small town in Pennsylvania that called to us this passed weekend. We drove up-a mere 32 miles-to inhale the fragrant fields of lavender. It was dreamy. And at that moment I turned to my Mister and said, "Let's do this." I want to plant a field {or two} of lavender. So many varieties!

I want to invite friends and strangers over to hear live bluegrass music, to sip purple lemonade, to clip stalks of this fragrant herb to hang to dry in their closets, to watch local artisans fashion their wares as we watch. I want to hear horticulturists inspire us to use herbs to heal and garnish. This passed weekend we walked onto a small farm where we saw all of these things and left inspired. I am reminded of the verse in Proverbs 31, "she considers a field and buys it." Now to find the land to plant our fields of lavender.
I'll keep you posted! xo gf

15 June 2012

a good man is hard to find

Dear Mister,
It took me a while before I understood why providence awarded us four boys to raise. All boys. And then I realized it was because I married a man who was specifically gifted to raise future men who would honor their wives, enjoy their children and serve their community. Our boys have seen this in practice by you, dear husband.
You have heard me say, all of our boys' goodness comes from you {and a few of their idiosyncrasies}. You're the one who has patiently rubbed achy legs until our second born fell asleep. You are the one who can track with the oldest's love for tech and trees.
Never one to shy away from fully letting yourself enjoy who your boys are: good and bad. That must be why they love being with you. 
I know you always wanted a daughter. And you would've been a tender father to a girl. I can see it in the way you enjoy our friends' girls, but you are raising boys who will love girls-and love them well.
Have I told you enough how much I appreciate how you work tirelessly to keep us not just for today, but for tomorrow and the next day? Well, I do. And I tell your boys often how blessed we are to have you steering our ship.
I can see your tenderness in our boys, your kindness and your innate ability to converse happily with a stranger. Their insatiable curiosities and taste of music comes mostly from you as well. Their amazing dance skills, however, are all from me, darling. Sorry.
I knew when we married almost 17 years ago that you would be a good father, but you have surprised me by how great you are at fathering. You were made for it. And I am the lucky one who gets to reap the reward.
Thank you for loving us well and giving us your best! Your boys are fortunate as am I.
Your patience kicks in long after mine is lost. You push the boys to go the distance-figuratively and literally. I tell our boys, "to whom much is given much is expected." And you have given much.

So thanks, sweet man. You are a good man.
We love you lots. Happy Father's Day. I hope you enjoy the flying lessons you picked out for yourself. 

P.S. A sweet Happy Father's Day to my own Daddy for whom we named our second son. If that isn't the gift that keeps on giving, I don't know what is. 

12 June 2012

bread, bread, bread

i love baking. i love kids. put the two together and it's the making for a delightful {albeit chaotic} afternoon. 

a group of our homies {cool name for homeschoolers} came to the hillside cottage for a lesson on milling {yeah, they yawned at first too} and tortilla making. once i switched on the mill those little darlings sat rapt with excitement {seriously}. 
then we made our tortilla dough. hello, fun and tasty play doh. several of those darling, creative {dare i say brilliant} kiddos fashioned their lumps of dough into dinosaurs, hearts and the melted face of Darth Vader with an honorable mention to the lizard guy and the polka dotted tortilla. 

the kids ate up these tasty morsels {the moms did too}. wonder how many homes will be enjoying these easy, fun little flatbreads?

until next time, heat up the cast iron skillet....xo gf

fancy a homemade tortilla? here's how:

3 cups of flour {i used a little fresh milled whole wheat pastry and all purpose}
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
{i toss in some flavors: garlic powder OR cumin OR curry-to spice things up a bit}
3/4 cup shortening {i don't keep that on hand so you can substitute butter or oil}
3/4 cup hot water

{makes about 12 tortillas depending on size and design}

mix the ingredients and let set for an hour. we were too impatient so we went ahead and rolled ours out and tossed them into a hot, oiled cast iron skillet. 
get 'em while they're hot. 

I highly recommend this simple picture book! Bread is indeed a universal food. 

11 June 2012

the house that books built

book organizing. athens, georgia has a special place in our heart.

my father was more of a story teller than one who read me stories. my mother often confessed, "i hate reading". as a child i enjoyed reading, digging into an adventurous read. i am the youngest of 5 children and far down the row in age so there were no playmates for me in my family growing up. when i wasn't fishing in the pond in front of my house or climbing a tree, i would sit to read {sometimes in a tree}. my taste in books was wrought with adventure and teenager angst. nancy drew, encyclopedia brown and judy blume. 

even though i didn't have a strong literary beginning, i began collecting books early on. somehow i managed to wrangle out of my childhood home two books that still sit on our shelves adorned with my childish scrawled handwriting. 

in high school i adored my A.P. english teacher-even choosing to sit front and center in her class in between two boys who teased me mercilessly. reading was my assignment, but i loved the works she insisted we read. books i otherwise may never have read. 

in college, a young adult literate class introduced me to the writer lois lowry and books like tuck everlasting-books my boys and i just finished.

my love affair with old books began when i was in college. i would venture off campus to certain out of the way places and sit in the aisles with my lap dusted with treasures such as jane eyre {single girl angst} and anything with lovely illustrations. i still swoon when i think back to that time and look over at my little bookshelf with it's delightful collection started way back then. i often think if i were to ever write a book, i would insist it be designed to give the appearance of an old book with a cloth cover and gold leaf pages. old books are like people with british accents, they just appear smarter. it could be an old book on toilets, but with it's dusty cloth cover and yellowed pages it would appear more lovely. it makes me happy to say that my oldest feels the same way-he loves old books and looks for them whenever we happen upon a flea market or thrift store.  
i spy cute boys looking for books...

...dickens? poe? shakespeare?


recently the oldest asked if we could pay a visit to our favorite used bookstore. twist my arm. i love finding the boys'school books all hardback and worn from this shop. where's the adventure in ordering off amazon when you can comb the aisles of semi-organized book shelves looking for your title? do i have too much time on my hands? um no. i just love a hunt, baby.
with an honorable mention here. regret not buying this one.
most every night the Mister reads aloud to our boys {and sometimes to little visitors}. sometimes it's a book for school like red badge of courage. sometimes it's a book for fun like two towers. regardless, it's always time well spent-4 boys all draped over one another listening to their father. 

even though my husband was not read to as a child nor was i, it is a tradition we hope takes root in our boys, something they will continue once they have children. books are a worthwhile investment {please don't ask me about those electronic devices for reading books. they make me quite hysterical}. when i consider the one thing {and there is really only one thing} i have done well with my children, it has to be introducing them to great literature.

xo gf

08 June 2012

p.s. i love you

in summation, this past trip to tennessee was a delight.

couldn't stop thinking of the winnie the pooh quote: "no one can be uncheered with a balloon". think i may need to make it a practice to buy helium balloons to carry around every once in a while.

seeing the bride looking back at her brother who stands in the tan suit made my heart stop

high school chums
a feather perfect for a quill

the ranger on compasses vs gps {i hope one of my boys is a state park ranger someday}

enjoy the falls. mommy is going to watch from up here. 

from necktie to headband

reporting back...xo gf