Life has been busy these days. I can’t seem to publish these lists every month or even every other month, but I wanted to finish out the year with a post because next year might be even busier! That’s because, in addition to joining the planning committee for our local homeschool coop, I’ve taken on the responsibility of writing and directing a play for our students. I’ll have lots of help for the project, but in the next several months most of my creative energy will be focused on the play. So I wanted to get these links to you now, before all the crazy begins.
But first, a few real-life items and events.
Girlfriends who share their beauty secrets. Did you know you can use coconut oil for shaving your legs and underarms? I didn’t, but I’m glad my girlfriends enlightened me. (I don’t know anyone who uses shaving cream here.)
Mineral deodorant. Another life hack from my girlfriends. When I was frustrated with the lack of efficacy of conventional deodorant, they informed me about Crystal deodorant. Works much better!
Watching Jonathan at work. It had been a while since I’d watched him counsel anyone, but I recently had the chance. (This happens infrequently and only when we are asked to do premarital counseling as a couple.) He knows what to do and what to say, where to lead. Watching him at work is simply MAGICAL. Although the work is hard, I know it is a privilege for him to witness the transformation of people’s lives. Every once in a while I get to see it.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, a play by a Christian international school. Their productions are always a community event. We arrive at the school campus early to be able to play on the grounds and catch up with friends we don’t often see. The play itself was a lot of fun, and the set especially was impressive!
Our homeschool coop’s Showcase. We ended our semester with a performance of sorts. The teens took a public speaking course and presented their speeches. The younger students had been working on some choir songs. It was a beautiful, cool evening, and everyone did such a wonderful job. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Cooler weather. Speaking of the weather, we enjoyed a nice cold snap the first week of December. Cool weather doesn’t last long around here, so we enjoyed it while we could.
Decorating for Christmas. Our tree and lights are up, and we’ve been singing Christmas carols during our morning devotionals. I love our tree, and I love Christmas music! We even invited some friends over for carols and had a lovely evening of singing and fellowship.
You Are by Hillsong.
Living Hope by Phil Wickham. I love songs that tell the entire Gospel story.
Through It All by Hillsong. “I’ll sing to you, Lord, a hymn of love for your faithfulness to me. I’m carried in everlasting arms, You’ll never let me go, through it all.”
Goodness of God by Jenn Johnson and Bethel Music. “All my life You have been faithful. All my life You have been so, so good. With every breath that I am able, I will sing of the goodness of God.” In many ways this song, much like the goodness of God, has been running after me. For months.
King of Kings by Hillsong. My most favorite song from the last 4 months. Every single word is my favorite.
I’m still on a journey to eat and cook in a more healthful way and am always on a search for new recipes. Here are a few that either I love or that my family also loves.
Vegan Pesto. I love this stuff — my family, not so much. Oh well, more for me!
Carrot Tacos. I know, a weird sounding name, but my family raves about this meal. I add pre-cooked lentils and frozen corn to the mix, and it helps bulk up the meal. Without those additions, I don’t think it would be enough. Kind of spicy as written – consider reducing the chili powder and paprika if spice bothers you. We also cut the spice with plain yogurt.
Vegan Sloppy Joes. Also a hit with my family (they like it more than I do).
Lentil Quinoa Loaf. Absolutely delicious and actually tastes like meatloaf. My family loves this. I double the recipe to make enough for everyone, and they would still like more.
Chickpea-Broccoli Wrap. I eat this plain, without the wrap. I’m not a huge fan of broccoli on its own, but it’s good mixed with other things (I’m trying to eat more cruciferous veggies). This recipe also inspired me to combine parmesan and nutritional yeast for several dishes; they complement each other.
Green Pea Pesto. I love this stuff, but my kids can’t stand it. I use it as a dip with carrots (peas and carrots!) I make these modifications to bring out the natural sweetness of the green peas: omit the olive oil, lemon, parmesan cheese, and pepper; substitute cashews for pine nuts and increase amount to ¼ cup; use 2 tsp dried mint (mint is essential here). That’s how I like it anyway.
Pizza Hummus. This is a kid-crowd favorite around here. I omit the crushed red pepper.
Cauliflower Mash. This is a basic recipe. I add some butter but not sour cream or yogurt, and not too much garlic, or it overwhelms. We all love cauliflower mash. Bummer that you have to chop so much to get such a small amount of mash.
Cauliflower-Chickpea Taco “Meat.” I can’t find my original recipe link, but this one comes closest to what I do. The only difference is, I replace all those spices with 2 tsp taco seasoning to make it easier, and I cook it on a skillet since I don’t have an oven. It’s not substantial enough to be a meal on its own, but it’s a nice side dish for us.
Gluten Free Vegan Snickers Bars. So delish. Aren’t dates amazing? I don’t use refined sugar anymore. They’re time-intensive, but my entire family loves these.
Vegan Pecan Pie Tartlets. More dates. More yum. Everyone likes these.
Vegan Girl Scout Cookies (Caramel Delites). Dates again. I don’t even use chocolate on these. About half of us like these, including me.
Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. Who doesn’t love Kate DiCamillo? I love everything I’ve ever read of hers, and this was a delight to read aloud and experience together.
Attached by Amir Levine, M.D., and Rachel Heller, M.A. Written about romantic relationships and mostly for people still in the dating world, this book helps you understand why you react the way you do in both romantic relationships and platonic friendships. Helped me understand why certain friendships haven’t worked out over the years (it’s a combination of certain attachment styles).
At home in Mitford by Jan Karon. I’d heard such good things about this series and have wanted to read this book for awhile, but it has a slow start up, and I never got into it until this fall. I bought the first two cheap at a garage sale. I’ve cried, I’ve laughed. I’ve underlined. (I never do that in a fiction book.) I love the town of Mitford, and I love Father Timothy. I am now in the second book, A Light in the Window. I may need to purchase the third when I’m done with this one.
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy. A classic I picked up super cheap in a bookstore. An easy and fun read, although because of its publication date, there are a few politically incorrect attitudes.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. We LOVE this story. We started reading it at Christmas time a few years ago when a different Christian international school was performing it. It’s easy and hilarious to read aloud, doesn’t take much time to read, and always makes me cry happy tears at the end. Makes for such good family discussions too. Read it every year!
Embracing the Body by Tara Owens. Still working my way through this. It’s good, but these are dense concepts, and I read it for a while and then stop, then pick it up again later.
The thing that opened my mind up to this type of theology is the phrase “Matter matters” and my introduction to the term sacrament from my Anglican friends. Over the years, that one conversation sank deeper and deeper in my heart and changed my attitudes toward my body and the physical world. Because sometimes an entire book is too much to digest at once. I can’t imagine reading Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, for example. But a single idea that one can ruminate on, that’s within reach.
I’ve recently come across another phrase that’s been helping me. It wraps up a whole lot of philosophy in one sentence. But to fully unpack it, I need more time, so you’ll have to wait on that one.
I’ve separated the following blog posts into several categories:
A few awkward thoughts on the love language of physical touch by Rebecca Reynolds.
Calling Our Bodies Our Own (Coming Out of Hiding) by Nicole T. Walters.
What I Wish You Knew About Childhood Sexual Abuse (a husband’s perspective). A very hard read, but important.
Education and Public Health
Measles makes body ‘forget’ how to fight infection by James Gallagher. Concerning news in this day and age.
Therapists use cooking to stir up better mental health by Lauren Lee. I stumbled upon this mental health tactic independently, but let me tell you, it works.
Elementary Education Has Gone Terribly Wrong by Natalie Wexler for The Atlantic. As with most social issues, this one affects the poor disproportionately.
I Was Wrong About Race by JR Forasteros. Foundational. I attended high school with the author.
Botham Jean’s Brother’s Offer of Forgiveness Went Viral. His Mother’s Calls for Justice Should Too. By Dorena Williamson for Christianity Today. There is so much to say, but for now all I will say is that I’m relieved that someone expressed this aspect of the issue.
I didn’t get a chance to read this Velvet Ashes book club book, but I was struck by this quote from Born a Crime by Trevor Noah: “In any society built on institutionalized racism, race-mixing doesn’t merely challenge the system as unjust, it reveals the system as unsustainable and incoherent. Race-mixing proves that races can mix — and in a lot of cases, want to mix. Because a mixed person embodies that rebuke to the logic of the system, race-mixing becomes a crime worse than treason.”
Recovering a Good Father by Helena Sorensen.
Always Serving Leftovers: Why I’m Not Traveling to Speak Next Year by Brandi Vencel.
Children Need Magic by Joshua Gibbs. “My children will know that the world is charmed by Jesus Christ himself.” Love that.
Why You Never See Your Friends Anymore by Judith Shulevitz.
I Refuse to Let My Teen Burn Out From Academic Pressure by Christine Carter. This is a concern for public, private, and homeschool students alike. There is too much pressure these days — and I say that as someone who lived under an awful lot of academic pressure herself!
Newsletter Code Words by Anisha Hopkinson.
Should We Have Waited Until We Were Older? by Amy Medina.
If I Could Tell You Three Things by Anisha Hopkinson.
I am a False Prophet by Amy Medina.
If You Send an MK Some Cookies by Craig Thompson.
I Belong to You by Laura Hope. One of the most important messages of all.