Tuesday, March 30, 2010

delicious daisies

There's something so southern and gingham apron-y about this recipe. It says 'I'm glad you're here' and 'sit down and visit for a while.' There are many variations and, of course, the classic straw version, but I like this one the best. Probably because my precious neighbor Coma taught me how to make them years ago.

Cheese Daisies

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp red pepper
pecan halves

Cream butter and cheeses together. Sift flour, salt and pepper together and add to cheese mixture. Chill 1/2 hour and then form into one-inch dough balls. Push a pecan half into the center of each ball. Bake 12 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes 24.

Monday, March 29, 2010

hello Monday

A good cup of joe, a wedge of raspberry coffee cake, a new sales center poster for a favorite client. And so the work week begins.
(click to enlarge)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

meet Micah

Here's what I have learned about the Old Testament prophet Micah during Lent: he was a common man from a small village in the hills southwest of Jerusalem. He lived during the 8th century B.C. in a society that was increasingly polarized between rich and poor, rampant with social and economic injustice, and drifting away from relationship with God. His great summary of religion in Micah 6:8 has been a guiding force for many people of faith across the centuries. ' . . . and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?'

Friday, March 26, 2010

starting a revolution

Tonight's the night! The series premiere of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution (8 pm est on ABC), a documentary about nutritionally transforming school cafeteria food and improving the dire eating habits of the rest of America. He's about ditching the chemical-laced and addictive fast food and cooking easy, delicious and healthy food at home instead. I saw the film trailer and last Sunday night's preview. It's dramatic and inspiring. And if you don't know of Jamie Oliver, you're in for a treat of the non-caloric, best kind.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

what a riot

Field notes from a walk taken on particularly brilliant spring afternoon in Charlotte, North Carolina: fragrant hyacinths and cheery daffodils, forsythia branches bursting out in tiny yellow stars, fluffy white-blossomed Bradford Pear trees, pink pastel cherry trees and now the Japanese tulip trees.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Micah 6:8

What does God require of us? Our church has embarked upon an exploration of and service campaign centered around this question. The answer is found in the Old Testament words of the biblical prophet Micah: do justice, love kindness, walk humbly. Throughout Lent there have been studies, speakers and activities to help us grow in this direction. The hope is that, by Easter, everyone in the parish will choose one of three major service opportunities to devote their time and talent to moving forward and that powerful, positive change will result. I will share some of the great things I've learned and heard in upcoming posts. The main thing so far has been that when you start really, sincerely asking the question, you then begin to live into the answer.

Friday, March 19, 2010

make an impression

Now you can own a collection of abstract impressionist art for a mere $4.40. Paintings by Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and others. The United States Postal Service issued this little gallery of stamps last week and, at this price point, you won't mind giving them away to friends or even the electric company as you dress up the top righthand corner of your envelopes. Enjoying art of any kind, or any size, should be a part of everyday life. It adds so much. Thank you, Post Office.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

critical life skills

I once complimented my friend Burnet on deftly opening a bottle of champagne and she joked that it was a critical life skill. Which has had me keeping a mental list of other such skills ever since, if not for my own good, then for the kids' sake. Thankfully, they're still a few years away from popping champagne corks, but I won't rest until they know how to:

1. make a grilled cheese sandwich
2. write a thank you note
3. remember birthdays
4. tidy up their living space
5. fry an egg, sunny side up
6. plant a daffodil bulb
7. harvest a tomato
8. comfort someone
9. comfort themselves
10. laugh at a good joke
11. laugh at themselves
12. have fun on the cheap
13. be rich in love
14. appreciate a good poem
15. revel in a good book
16. do laundry
17. keep out of debt
18. keep the faith
19. stand up for themselves
20. stand up for others
21. make a decent cup of coffee
22. make a buck
23. make amends
24. make a difference

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

a million ways

Tomorrow is going to be 'one of those days.' Everyone going in different directions at different times, no one home at the dinner hour. There will be a big pot of meatballs and sauce simmering on the stove in the afternoon instead, for whoever can eat, at whatever time. It struck me earlier this evening, as I stirred eggs and breadcrumbs into the meat and rolled it into little balls, that there are so many ways to say I love you. To show I love you. And the opportunity arises with just about every breath when you're a mother. I wish I had been more conscious of this when I started out 18 years ago, but motherhood is a learn-as-you-go experience. And often the best teachers are your children.
(Mother's Goodnight Kiss by Mary Cassatt, 1888)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

step by faithful step

Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

going green

Things are greening up outside. And warming up. The sun hangs around a little longer in the sky each day. Crocuses have peeked out of the ground, the grass is beginning to grow lush again and the trees are full of buds. There's an energy and earthiness about everything. The world seems to wake up in the spring, to come back to life. So do we.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Dear Jackie,

There would be more than 1.5 million condolence letters in all, enough to stretch on for two miles if placed together. Only a few thousand were saved and eventually archived in Boston's John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. Historian Ellen Fitzpatrick has compiled 250 of them in Letters to Jackie: Condolences from a Grieving Nation. The book offers a fascinating window on history, capturing the voices of everyday Americans who wrote words of anguish, homage and comfort to First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy after the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy. There was a front page newspaper article about the book this week and our 12-year-old was struck by how much people seemed to love, respect and idolize the president. That's a foreign concept in his post-Camelot world of unrelenting media coverage. He also wondered whether as many people would send a handwritten sympathy note if this happened today. And, if they e-mailed instead, would the messages be saved for history's sake?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

wake up call

Sunny Saturday morning with a squeeze of citrus. Glad to be alive on this incredible earth, glad for leftover key lime cake for breakfast with strong hot coffee, glad for orange tulips from the grocery store, glad for the gift of another day.

Friday, March 5, 2010

take not the little things for granted

Dr. Mac moved to a retirement home yesterday. It's just across town but a million miles removed from the daily routine we've enjoyed for sixteen years. Oh, it's time and probably for the best. I get that. He's very frail and doesn't get around like he used to. He's going to appreciate the safety and security and, above all, the social aspect of his new home. We're left to appreciate all he's meant to us.

Dr. Mac tended things: camelias, azaleas, irises, tomatoes, birds, broken bicycles, broken spirits. He tended us. He was a well-loved medical doctor who, when retired, made free housecalls next door to diagnose ear infections, pink eye and chicken pox. I don't think I've ever left the house, even with the most seasoned of babysitters on hand, that I haven't called out, "Dr. Mac's next door if you need anything!" Truth is, I am the one who always needed something.

The way the two houses are configured, there are only about 25 feet between our respective kitchen windows. I've padded over in my robe and slippers to do laundry when our machine was broken, baked in Dr. Mac's oven when ours was overflowing, shared the clothesline, borrowed sugar, dish soap and, countless times, the 1983 Toyota when my car's been in the shop. During our high volume diaper years, I even borrowed space in his garbage can. For the first time in sixteen years, there wasn't a light on over Dr. Mac's kitchen sink last night. Nothing quite prepares you, although I've been bracing my heart for this day for quite some time. Sixteen years, if anyone's counting.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

drinking from the cup of life

The Wren from Carolina

Just now the wren from Carolina buzzed
through the neighbor's hedge
a line of grace notes I couldn't
even write down
much less sing.

Now he lifts his chestnut
colored throat
and delivers such a cantering praise -
for what?
For the early morning,
the taste of the spider,

for his small cup of life
that he drinks from every day,
knowing it will refill.
All things are inventions of holiness,
Some more rascally than others.

I'm on that list, too,
though I don't know exactly where.
But, every morning,
there's my own cup of gladness,
and there's that wren in the hedge,
above me, with his
blazing song.

- Mary Oliver

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

portfolio plug

When you create ads for others, creating an ad for your own company can be a lot like the cobbler's children and their lack of shoes. That's why Arkon and I opted to pull a page from the StewartMarr portfolio instead. Look for it in the March issue Charlotte Living magazine! (Click to enlarge)

Monday, March 1, 2010

in like a lion

If March comes in like a lion, let's hope it's one as sweet as Dandelion. Do you remember Dandelion? Invited to a come-as-you-are party, he decides to indulge in a make-over. Arriving with a snazzy new jacket, elegant cane and poufed mane, his host doesn't recognize him and turns him away. After being tossed about in a thunderstorm, Dandelion reverts to his ruffly real self and returns to the party where his friends recognize and joyously welcome him. Maybe that's a good theme for March. Come as you are. Be yourself. Enjoy the party.