Friday, July 31, 2009

The Last Day of July

Summer feels like it's galloping by. Our kids are busy (work and mission trip), a giant three day concert comes to town in two weeks and they are psyched, and then it will be time for FBC to head back to college. DH completes his first full week of work (again, we give thanks)and I have a wedding for a delightful couple tonight.

I've read some terrific books lately: Autumn Gospel and Winter Grace by Kathleen Fischer and Sin Boldly by Cathleen Falsani have all made me think. I could not put down The New Jew by Sally Srok Friedes, her memoir of converting from Catholicism to Judaism. Right now I'm reading purely for fun: The Wildwater Walking Club, Home Safe, and Prayers for Sale. I'm hoping for some quality time this weekend to sit outside and read.

Hope you have some dog days of summer time on your calendar, too.

Image found here.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Feels Like New Year's

Today's an exquisitely beautiful day here in Chicagoland. It's sunny, warm and the sky is cloudless. DH is at his first day of his new work, FBC is at her job, SBC is on day 2.5 of his first mission trip. He and sixteen others from the church I serve are in Eastern Kentucky with Appalachia Service Project.

Today is the first Monday I've had off in quite some time. I began it early, by taking DH to the train. "You seem really excited about this," he said, and I realized I was. I grew up in a suburb of New york City and commuting on the train was a really big part of my family's life. I remember the fun of waiting for my family members to return home on the train, signaling the beginning of evening and family fun. Less romantically, I'm pleased that the new job brings some stress relief without an hour-long drive each way. When DH is in the city, it's a quick, twenty minute train ride and a short bus ride, or a longer walk, from Union Station to his new office on Michigan Avenue.

Today feels like a fresh, new start. It's so nice to having DH off pursuing meaningful work again. It's so nice knowing that our kids are off doing meaningful things as well. Today has been a good day for life-work balance, for sitting quietly, for taking a good thirty minute walk and reveling in some new itunes, for having time to plan a delicious dinner for the family when all return.

And I'm going to meet a 6:04 p.m. train...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Happiness and Relief

It is such a happy thing to be able to write this:
DH is newly employed!
We know that there are folks who've endured a job search for much longer than six months and continue to struggle in this struggling economy. We know that there are folks who've had both family members unemployed at the same time. We have been very fortunate to have an income, a home to live in, and a supportive community as he has searched.

We're happy that it's a job he will enjoy and to which he feels called and will keep us in the same community.
We're thankful that we can begin again to be responsible parents as we save for our second child's education.
We're thankful that the future, once again, has focus and clarity.

We are so thankful.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


One of my goals during this year of being 50 was to prepare polenta, which I accomplished this evening. I used an Alton Brown recipe from the Food Network (see below). It was pronounced delicious by all who partook.

I wonder what took me so long to try this? I was intimidated for some reason, but it turned out to be an easy, kind of soothing recipe, with great results. It was a special treat, and comments ranged from "I'd bathe in this!" to "I hope you'll make this again."

Here's the recipe:

Savory Polenta
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2004
Show: Good EatsEpisode: True Grits

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for grilling or sauteing if desired
3/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 quart chicken stock or broth
1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces Parmesan, grated
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large, oven-safe saucepan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the red onion and salt and sweat until the onions begin to turn translucent, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the garlic, and saute for 1 to 2 minutes, making sure the garlic does not burn.

Turn the heat up to high, add the chicken stock, bring to a boil. Gradually add the cornmeal while continually whisking. Once you have added all of the cornmeal, cover the pot and place it in the oven. Cook for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring every

10 minutes to prevent lumps. Once the mixture is creamy, remove from the oven and add the butter, salt, and pepper. Once they are incorporated, gradually add the Parmesan.

Serve as is, or pour the polenta into 9 by 13-inch cake pan lined with parchment paper. Place in the refrigerator to cool completely.

Once set, turn the polenta out onto a cutting board and cut into squares, rounds, or triangles. Brush each side with olive oil and saute in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, or grill.