Saturday, February 25, 2012

leap of faith

If you are an observer of Lent, the 40-day time of reflection preceding Easter, then I welcome you to download this devotional booklet that Arkon and I created for Christ Episcopal Church in Charlotte. It is a compilation of quotes from the phenomenal thinkers, writers and speakers who have visited Christ Church this year. Themes revolve around discovering joy, feeling God's presence, serving others, concerns for community and world. This 'Lenten Companion' is part of a greater, church-wide journey called Leap of Faith, a process to discern where in our lives, and how as a church, we might take a step with God to experience growth and transformation.

Friday, February 24, 2012

too good to pass up

Today I've been given the grown-up equivalent of the hall pass, that ubiquitous yellow slip needed for approved passage to high school restroom or registrar. Actually, I've written one to myself. With maybe a half-hour of work to do, and chores and errands that can wait, I'm calling recess. To take a miles-long walk with the dog. To sip a pineapple ginger smoothie on the patio where the air is balmy. To write my favorite college professor a decades overdue letter. To noodle a bit on a creative project. To be quiet. To ponder Lent. To close my eyes and picture the beloved faces of the kids away at college who I miss so very much. Sweet freedom from the hamster wheel of my own making. I'd forgotten how good it feels.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fat Tuesday

Flour, a pinch of baking powder and sugar, eggs, milk . . . don't you just love the simplicity of a pancake? They're duly celebrated in Eric Carle's wonderful picture book and were piled on plates at church suppers everywhere on this evening before Lent begins: St. Mary's, St. John's, All Saints, Chapel of the Cross and Christ Church, to name a few we've known and loved. The constant is our Lenten rituals, traditions that imbue the season leading up to Easter with such meaning and significance. A golden stack of pancakes drenched in butter with a few slices of bacon, all swimming in maple syrup and washed down with an icy cold glass of milk. Breakfast for supper. Festivity and fun. On a school night. Ash Wednesday is tomorrow, the first of forty days of somber reflection. But tonight, pancakes.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

i (heart) shortbread

Here's an early Valentine for you, the recipe for Shortbread Hearts from The Silver Palate Cookbook. In fact, the whole cookbook is a Valentine. It's the one that started my collection, so creative and full of fun ideas, with recipes that have withstood the test o' time. Baking these cookies is a rite of February. They're even more luxurious when dipped halfway in melted chocolate. And almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

Silver Palate Shortbread Hearts

¾ pound (3 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup granulated sugar

1. Cream butter and confectioners’ sugar together until light.
2. Sift flour and salt together and add to creamed mixture. Add vanilla and blend thoroughly.
3. Gather dough into a ball, wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap, and chill for 4-6 hours or overnight.
4. Roll out chilled dough to 5/8-inch thickness. Cut out cookies using heart-shaped cookie cutter. Place cut-out cookies on ungreased cookie sheets and refrigerate for at least a half hour before baking.
5. Preheat over to 325 degrees.
6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until just starting to color lightly; cookies should not brown at all. Cool on a rack.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

love letters

Never underestimate the gold to be found in the dollar bins at the craft emporium Michael's, like these incredible notecards. I went in to buy black foam board for work presentations and came out with every pack they had, thinking I'd catch up on my loveletter writing for Valentine's. There's not enough paper - or ink - in the world to capture all that needs to be said, but this is a start.

Monday, February 6, 2012

all tied up in ribbons

If you follow the trail of love, it always leads to, well, more love. That's what happened when I fell in love with these new edition Love stamps designed by the amazing Jessica Hirsch. Due to my love of typography, I had to learn more, which led me to the website of Louise Fili, Ltd., graphic design firm extraordinaire. I realized that for years, without knowing the source, I have loved the work of the founder, Louise Fili, winner of every prestigious design medal awarded between here and Italy. I followed the ribbon to a charming interview and even a picture of her workspace. It was a bit like happening upon an unexpected doorway beneath a cheery red awning and, inside, cases of wondrous sprinkled cookies and pastries with a candied cherry on top. Love, love, love her movie star flair, her red lipstick and the pops of red in her design work, her innate Italianness and celebration of la dolce vita in every glorious little detail of life. That's amore!