Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Ok, so these are from two weeks ago...

round button chicken
Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~ Every Thursday at Like Mother Like Daughter
I'm a little behind in my posts. There's been a LOT going on around here, mostly lots of intentional relaxation that somehow turns out to be more tiring than not relaxing. I can explain, but I will do so later...

For now, this week's (or last week's, depending on how precise you want to be) PHFR is brought to you by ancient texts, marshmallows and thriftiness.

It was hard to capture images with no flash allowed, but I did my best...

Last week, Calvin and I went with Mom to see the Dead Sea Scrolls (or Dead Sea Squirrels, as Calvin likes to call them, little heathen) exhibit at the Franklin Institute.  Calvin and I studied Old Testament history last year and Greek history and mythology this year so we used it as an end-of-the-year field trip.  What an experience.  I would highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in such things.  The exhibit is open until October so make the plans, make the drive and come see it!

There are over 600 artifacts from ancient Israel on display with the scrolls themselves.  The above earring is one of them.  It's made of gold, emeralds and pearls.  Mom and I agreed that we would wear it today if we could and marveled at the luxury it must have been for the original owner.

A dove, carved out of bone.  So tiny...

...yet so intricate and beautiful!

I took this shot because I found it to be beautiful as well as significant, but now I can't remember what that significance was.  Oh, the vexations of lacking a good memory and pen and paper!

I remember this one!  This is a bread press, used for communion bread.  The four inner squares contain the Greek symbol for Christ and the surrounding squares contain lilies representing the twelve Apostles.  I found this to be particularly fascinating and I'm not even sure why.

I apologize sincerely for this being so hard to see.  But it is a bronze figure of Prometheus.  If you could manage to make it out, you would see the eagle perched on his right thigh, eating his liver, his daily punishment from Zeus for stealing fire and giving it to man.

Remember all those times God warned the Hebrews against making graven images and worshiping pagan gods?  These are the things He was talking about!  Don't worship these bits of clay, people!  You'll be sorry!

And there were so many of them!

The scrolls themselves were in a section where no photography was allowed.  They were amazing to see.  As were the stones from the temple in Jerusalem and an entire block from the Wailing Wall!  Calvin had his first encounter with something so ancient as to beggar belief.  Putting our hands on something that old, that historically and Biblically significant, something Christ Himself could very well have touched, sent shivers up and down our spines.  Calvin just stood in awe with his hands on the cold stone.  I was so glad I "made" him come with me.


As his mother and, for the past two years, his teacher, I was so delighted and relieved by his enthusiasm.  He put on a big show of being totally bored and resentful that I dragged him along, but he had to read every little thing in writing and took tons of photos.


And don't let his glum expression fool you: he was unhappy that there wasn't anything else to see (though he would never admit it)!

Later in the week, a rather fierce chocolate-covered-marshmallow fight erupted after dinner.  My kids love toasting marshmallows over the flame on the stove top and slathering them with Nutella or chocolate sauce.  It's a favorite snack.  And, after the other night, it is now also a favorite weapon.

Redheaded Snippet better look out as Calvin is growing in leaps and bounds and got the better of her for the first time!

Funny and Real 

Sometimes, you run out of laundry detergent somewhat unexpectedly.  And sometimes you really, really, really don't want to go to the store.  And sometimes you really, really, really need to do a lot of laundry anyway.

So you put on your thinking cap and decide to have a science/home economics lesson whilst managing to be thrifty and avoid the grocery store!  And your geeky son responds enthusiastically because he can pretend to be in Potions Class at Hogwarts.

Ha ha, he's a laugh riot.  "Uh-oh, Mom, what if I eeeeeeat the sooooooap...!"  What do I care?  He's had his mouth washed out with that soap, I know it won't hurt him!

I only made about half a gallon and the stuff has worked perfectly and lasted waaaaaaay longer than what was originally in that bottle!

Haha!  Bonus loads indeed!  I feel like Superwoman every time I do laundry!

Where have you found contentment this week (or last week, for that matter)?  Why don't you take a moment and tell us all about it!


Friday, June 15, 2012

A Lifetime Supply of Jean Nate'

Intrigued? I bet you are!

Remember Jean Nate', the body splash? The one that came in a giant bottle with the huge, black cap the size of a bowling ball and sat in the cabinet under your grandmother's bathroom sink next to her Polident and dusting powder? Remember opening it every time you visited so you could take deep, masochistic breaths of it because its scent both puzzled and disturbed you? No? Just me?

Ok, how about this: remember housecoats? Remember your grandmother trying to give you her old ones? And when you wrinkled your nose at them and said you wouldn't wear them she'd explain, "...just for knockin' around in,"? Just me again?

How about the smell of mothballs? Or plastic purses--excuse me, pocketbooks--encrusted with seashells or beads? Freedent gum? Wintergreen mints? LAWRENCE WELK? Anything?

Are you following me here? Perhaps yours wasn't (crazy) like mine, but all these things remind me of my grandmother. And my grandmothers, for most of my life, was by far the oldest person I knew. And I never really seriously considered that I would actually become like that.

And then last Tuesday arrived.

And I turned 40.

Yes, it's true. I am now on my way to becoming an old woman. I'm not sure how well I'm handling this. The sheer number of people who have been asking me how I'm handling it makes me wonder if I need to worry about handling it. They've gotten to me. And now I'm paranoid. Well done, friends!

Anyway, besides the geriatric paranoia, turning forty has been rather delightful!

The Viking threw the most perfect little party for me last week.  He knows I hate a big fuss and he knows I hate surprises so he told me something would be happening on Saturday night but he wouldn't tell me what.  And then he confined me to the living room, cleaned the house and did a mess of shopping and next thing I knew, one of my favorite friends showed up at the house and there were bowls of snacks on the dining room table!  Ooooooh!

And then another favorite friend showed up!  Squee!

And then Lobelia showed up!  Surprise!  And another squee!

And then another favorite friend!  And by now I was squealing a lot and very jittery.

And then Mom arrived.  Poor Mom, she was the only one I didn't squeal over because she was the only one I was actually expecting to see that night.  But let it be known that I was no less delighted that she was there.

And walked DARIA.  Daria, who has been living 12 hours away with Dharma and Vance since Christmas!  Mom flew her in as a surprise for my birthday!

I believe I shrieked in shock when that happened.  And I hugged her for a long time.  I was so happy to see her!  I had a wild moment of hope that perhaps, just perhaps, Dharma had been able to travel up as well, but it was, understandably, not to be.  I really do think I would have peed my pants and burst into tears if she had walked through the door.

While everyone was still shrieking over Daria's surprise appearance (no one knew, not even The Viking), one more favorite friend walked in!  And our joy was nearly complete.

Then The Viking announced he was making fondue and would be tending bar for the evening and began taking drink orders.  We placed orders for Mojitos and Mudslides and decided to call him, "Wench."  And then the games began.  Literally.

We played games well into the wee hours of the morning, cackling and hooting all the while.  The Viking kept the drinks coming and we laughed until we were literally massaging our faces because they hurt so bad. One friend had to change her shirt.  There was a wedgie incident.  Mom chased Daria around the kitchen with her shoe.  It was, as the kids say, EPIC.

I was humbled and nearly overwhelmed by the willingness of so many of my favorite people to join me in celebration.  There are about a dozen women whom I consider my favorite friends in the world.  And all but four were there that night (they were invited but could not attend).  And I realized I am blessed not only with quite the treasure trove of fantastic friends, three of whom are my sisters, but also with a husband who knows me quite possibly better than I know myself.  I could not have planned a better party myself.  My only regret (other than the absence of the four friends to round out the collection) is that we were too busy having fun to take photos.

But wait, there's more.  Also in waves.  And I DID get a few photos of it:

First thing, on my actual birthday, I was no allowed to lift a finger!  No cleaning, no laundry, no cooking!  I did give a piano lesson (life does go on, after all), but that was about it.

Redheaded Snippet made dinner for us all.  And she did the shopping for it, with Daria's help.  The Viking pitched in when he got home from work, but the vast majority of the work was done by Redheaded Snippet herself.  I was strictly forbidden to come into the kitchen and by the time they led me into the dining room with my eyes closed, I was fairly jumping out of my skin!

And this is what I beheld when I opened my eyes:

Voila!  Ooh la la!  I had, months ago, made a rather casual, half-kidding comment to The Viking about possibly asking for a piece of Le Creuset for my 40th.  And, lo! he was listening!  And Redheaded Snippet got to use it to make our dinner!

We had eaten half of it before I remembered to take a photo.  The Viking and Redheaded Snippet decided to indulge my Anglophilia and looked up British dishes on Le Creuset's website.  This one is called Beef With a Kick and is best described as a rich, flavorful, fancy beef stew.  It had three kinds of mushrooms in it, two of which Redheaded Snippet had never heard of before and which required a phone consultation with Lobelia beforehand.  It was deadly good.

They went shopping for me at my favorite British Import store and got this stripey jack cheese...

These cute strawberry salt and pepper shakers that I always pick up and admire whenever I'm in the store...

And an assortment of little treats for my enjoyment...

Served proudly by my waiter, "Henri".  He used a (darn good) French accent and everything!

A lovely, dainty tea-for-one set...

Do not be alarmed.  It's a sticky toffee pudding, my favorite dessert in the world!  Redheaded Snippet was amused by the process of steaming it in a can...

Candy that Dharma and Vance discovered while in Italy and The Viking and I encountered again while in England.  There are only two places we know of around here that carry them so they are somewhat of a rare treat...

And, of course, unusually flavored crisps.  I wasn't brave enough to try the chili ones, but Calvin liked them.  The roast chicken ones were verrrrrry strange!  Not for the faint at heart!

After all of that, I was quite spent, as you can imagine.  But the celebrations weren't over yet.  The Viking and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary a few days later, there were several graduation parties and a handful of end-of-the-year cookouts and pool parties which we had to prioritize and attend selectively.  Plus, Daria was here for twelve days which meant that every moment we weren't running off to everything else we were squeezing in as much time as possible with her!  Throw in the SAT, term papers, finals and an upcoming Summer Kick-Off field hockey tournament and you've got one whirlwind of a fortnight!  And there really isn't an end in sight until...hmmm, let's see...January?  We may have a few slow weeks coming up, but once July hits and field hockey practices begin in earnest, it's a runaway train ride until after Christmas.

But let's not dwell on that right now.  I'm going to make myself a cup of tea and bask in the sunlight on the porch for a wee bit longer.

After I splash on some Jean Nate', of course!