Thursday, March 5, 2015

Product Design Love {The Lettermate}

Everyone knows that the hand-written card is making a huge comeback.  (Check out this video clip and article in USA Today.)

In a world where automation is the rule - no longer the exception - we all crave "the human touch".

One area where the human touch has really never gone out of style is the area of personal correspondence.  I'm not talking business correspondence, or mass mail outs - those have their place, to be sure.  I am talking about the sentiment we want to communicate to that one friend (or two), or the shower invitation that goes out to a baker's dozen girlfriends, or even the wedding invitation.

Hand written is the new couture - it just looks so personalized, and it so speaks of great taste.

I have found a product I love so much, I have to share it with you.  It's called the "Lettermate".

First and foremost, how can you not swoon when your order arrives like this:




Here is what's inside:



This appeals to the art-geek inside me.  Like...seriously.


Here is the "Lettermate":




Obviously, it enables you to address your envelope like a boss.  (See first image)  Also, on their website they feature so many creative ideas for envelope garnishing.  If you think you can't get creative addressing an envelope - don't try to make your living in the arts.  You are an accountant or an engineer or a CEO and the world needs you to be you.

I have already ordered a plethora of beautiful stamps - of all denominations.  I will not be limited to a 49 cent stamp.  I have 10 cent stamps and 32 cent stamps and 70 cent stamps, as well as the requisite 49 cent stamp, all on the way, via USPS.com

The only rule is that my stamps had to be artsy and beautiful and usually botanical.  I love to stuff envelopes with random goodness and stamp accordingly.

By the way, if you need beautiful cards to go with your art-mail, I would be delighted if you checked my shop - here.



Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Where Does YOUR Internet Take You? {...it's time to limit the number of "teachers" we have...}



"For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions..." (II Tim. 4:3)

It isn't "the" internet, anymore.  It is your internet.  Your internet is what you create it to be.  Your internet takes you where you want to go.  Your internet is a direct reflection of your passions, your anxieties, your goals, your worship.

Where does your internet take you?  Nowhere is it more evident if you are, indeed, accumulating teachers to suit your own passions, than seeing your internet bookmarks and browsing history, and then let's look at your bookshelves.  

How do I know this?  I looked at my recent browsing history!

And I made the choice, as of awhile ago, to limit my teachers.

Not because any of my teachers are anti-Gospel.  Not because any of my teachers are fueling any angst or division or weirdness in my heart.  I'm making the choice because, for me, there is only so much I can appropriate and apply and actually translate into my every day.

And I want what I do choose to hear, to impart faith.   I want what I hear to impart a motivation to rise up, and I want to have a teacher or two who will challenge my bias.  

Isn't that the opposite of "accumulating teachers that suit my own passions"?  Instead, what if I chose one or two worthy, tested teachers who interrupt my bias?

As a woman, writing mostly for women, it is vital that I live my life on the bedrock of the Gospel, and make my every day living conform to how heaven thinks, how heaven acts, and it is equally vital that I learn to speak the way heaven speaks.  I can't do this if I am spending a big chunk of my time consuming ideas and information - on any subject.  

Trust me.  You.  can't.  even.  know.  what a consumer I can be.  

God is calling me to be a creator of beautiful things, of true words fitly spoken, and a creator of community.  I am not called to consume (surf, read, watch, learn, research, peruse, study, take in) beyond what I can apply with a heart of wisdom. 

What sort of time do you spend researching your bias, via the internet or books?  Who are your advisors (internet or physical) and do they build up your faith?  Are you consuming more than you are applying?  And for all your application, are you better off (having more peace, more joy, more wholeness, more energy, more health, more skill, more satisfaction) than you were?

At the risk of being misunderstood as self-serving, I will also say this:  not only do you need to limit your teachers, but one of the few teachers left standing in your life should be your very own pastor.

Yeah.  That imperfect guy.

He keeps watch over your soul.

Have you forgotten what it means to keep watch?  It means loss of sleep.  It means living with a sense of urgency, because these are perilous times.  

That will make any man a little odd, and a lot passionate, so cut your pastor some slack.  And if he isn't a little odd...I wonder if you have a good one.  That man is set in place by God to lead a peculiar people.  A people of faith.

Beware what is entering your household, via your very own internet choices, girlfriend.

"For among them (deceivers) are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led by various impulses, always learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."  (II Tim. 3: 6,7)

Always learning.  Never able to make progress.

So. many. women. want to learn, but so few willing to be taught.  So many women want to go places in the Spirit, but so few willing to be led there.  So many women want to lead, so few are willing to follow first.  So many women are consuming far more information than they can apply.  I am one of that last bunch, for sure.

What's more, so many women are consuming the wrong information - these days, usually from an internet source.  Or, they are consuming wrong information through a friend who has  discovered "an amazing" internet source, which means the source is the internet.

Friends, if I spent enough time on websites that inform me all about the process of having a sex change, and if I spent enough time researching the subject, if I spent enough time in internet chat rooms, getting to "know" people who have had or want to have a sex change, people who seem so nice, people who have such compelling stories, people who can cite highly scientific evidence...

...I would start to think that having a sex change might be awesome!

I'd be getting a Lifestyle Lift, at the very least.  Have you seen the wrinkles in my neck?

God or Google?  We get to choose.  Dr. Mercola or the Great Physician?  (I got nothing against Dr. Mercola...just citing a popular internet source.)

These are the last days, I believe.  Limit your teachers, for we are in perilous times.  And we need to be about transformation, not information.  And time itself needs to be redeemed.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Cooking for Two - Another Delicious Recipe {...from the cookbook "One Pan, Two Plates"...}

The Preacher and I are happy empty nesters.  However, I do confess that going from cooking (pretty much) every night for anywhere between 6 and 12 people, to cooking for only TWO people...

...well let's just say there were lots of leftovers.  For a long time.

Then, I mastered the art of cooking for two.  I don't cook every night, like I used to when the kids were all living at home, but when I do cook - I often use the cookbook One Pan, Two Plates.




{please do Pin the picture above...I'd be delighted.}


Rarely do I ever feel like I have struck gold when I buy a cookbook.  But I did, when I bought this one:


Find it here.

Tonight, I made the "Braised Chicken Thighs with Wild Rice, Walnuts, and Grapes".

Delicious.  Here are the main ingredients, besides the chicken thighs:



5 or 6 skinless chicken thighs (boneless if you'd like)
1 TB olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced (I do two - I love me some celery)
1/2 C wild and brown rice blend
1 tsp. dried thyme
1C beef broth
1C halved seedless grapes (recipe calls for red - I use what I have)
1/2 C chopped walnuts
2 tsp. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
...I do not consider a glass of wine while cooking as optional...but I suppose it is.


{I am going to share it here with you, in several "video shorts", exactly as I will next share it on my Instagram, so be sure to follow for more like this:}

First, throw coarse salt on 5-6 chicken thighs, and brown them in the olive oil, about 3 minutes each side...

video



Then, you remove the chicken from your beautiful turquoise pot (or cast iron skillet, which truthfully, I usually use.  All the cold and snow we've had here put me in the mood for the pop-of-color cast iron enamel pot!)

Anyhoo, remove the chicken to a plate, and set the plate in a warmer or in your oven on its absolute  lowest temp...the chicken isn't done.  You are just keeping it warm while you sauté your veggies and wild rice (and thyme) in all that goodness that the chicken left behind...

video





Let me try to show you how brown I want the bottom of your pot to be, okay?

This brown (look below)!



Once the rice begins to smell toasted and the veggies begin to soften, pour in your cup of beef broth.  This deglazes your pan so nicely...

I want you to pretend like you are cleaning your pan with the tip of your wooden spatula!  Don't think "Dirty pan, ew!"...look at all that brown and think, "Delicious.  I am so about to deglaze you, you beautiful brown stuff..."

video


Next, you cover all that, turn your heat down to medium low, and simmer the veggies and wild rice and broth for 20 minutes (yes, your chicken is still in the warmer)...




After 20 minutes is up, add your chicken back in, cover, and simmer on low for 20 more minutes.  After your second 20 minutes is up, taste the rice for doneness, and add more coarse salt and a few grinds of peppercorn, to taste.  Garnish with the parsley, if you like.  We didn't have any, so I didn't bother.

Lastly, you better plate this stuff up - because your husband will be feeling impatient by now - it smells so good, you would not believe!

video


Enjoy!