Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Guest room makeover

I realize that the "rules" of a makeover involve both a before and after picture, but I was so excited to get the new duvet cover on the bed that I completely forgot to take a before picture. And if you've ever wrestled a down comforter into a duvet cover, you know it's not something you want to do twice. So, just imagine a very beautiful, but very old & stained off-white duvet cover with some eyelet detail. It blended into the wall too much. The room was boring. I had no idea what to do for curtains. The whole scene needed some help. 

After about 45 minutes of Internet research and some jaw-dropping prices later, I found this little puppy for (you're never going to believe this): $39.00. While it's not the most luxurious material, it doesn't look cheap either and, hey--it's a duvet cover. It sits on top of a bed. How sturdy does it really have to be? And, more importantly, I was on a budget for redoing the guest room. So...yeah. This was the one. Isn't it just a little bit of happy? Perks the room right up. Curtains to come sometime this summer...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cilantro-lime Salad Dressing

For some reason, I decided to grow cilantro in my herb garden. It's not like I make homemade salsa every weekend or anything, but I think I like the smell of it, and the availability of it. You know, just in case I did want to make salsa. So, since it's growing quite...heartily, I found this little gem that will change your summer salad making:
Cilantro-Lime Salad Dressing
This dressing is particularly good on a grilled chicken salad.
Originally from The Treasury of Creative Cooking
Karen Haigh & Rob Driskill
2 cups
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 cup olive oil
1 small bunch cilantro
1 clove garlic
2 green onions
salt and pepper, to taste
Pour lime juice and vinegar into food processor or blender. With processor on, slowly pour in olive oil. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth.

I paired this dressing with spinach, fresh oranges, fresh strawberries, sliced almonds, parmesan cheese, and boiled chicken. The chicken didn't even need any seasoning because the dressing did all the work.

Note to self: store-bought salad dressing is out. Making your own is just way too easy. And more delicious.

I have to warn you, though: the lime will probably make you want a margarita. Bad. Or some tortilla chips with a hint of lime, which I'm currently addicted to. Enjoy your summer eats!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Book Review: The Memory Keeper's Daughter

This book has been on my list for years. I've even given it as a gift to someone and still haven't read it myself. So, when I saw it in my grandmother's library the other week, I snatched it up and had it read within two weeks--Romeo & Juliet papers to grade or not. Waaaay to many late nights reading "one more chapter" until the words ran together, but definitely worth it.

Kim Edwards' novel tracks Dr. David Henry from his youthful marriage to Norah to his middle-aged life without her. His marriage, begun on the impulsive wings of romance, takes an unexpected turn early on when his wife gives birth to boy-girl twins. When he discovers that his daughter, Phoebe, has Down Syndrome, he makes an irreversible decision that haunts him the rest of his wife and drives a wedge in his marriage. David hands the girl to his nurse, Caroline, and tells her to take the child to a facility for the mentally ill. And that's just chapter one.

What makes the story so compelling is how the chapters yo-yo from the David-Norah story line to the Caroline-Phoebe story line, always leaving you hanging just enough to have to read the next chapter and keep you out of a plot rut.

In addition to a compelling story, the writing is well crafted and has a nice balance of accessibility and depth. Set in 1964, the story explores the hardships of raising a child with Down Syndrome, the consequences of a life stained with guilt, and the question of whether or not life's momentary choices can ever be captured.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Alabama tornadoes: sitting with the questions

Nearly a week ago, tornadoes ravaged the South, devastating parts of Birmingham. Nearly 400, 000 people lost power in the state of Alabama alone. Hundreds lost their lives. Hundreds have yet to be found. Many weren't found whole. And families are broken. Towns erased. Lives a mess.

And, by just a few miles, I was not one of them.

It's too soon to try to make sense of it all.

Nothing about this can be tied up in a bow. Nothing about it can be smoothed over with words even--especially not cliches, which tend to spill out of our mouths in times of grief. Even if "things like this bring out the best in people," it's still overwhelming and awful, and I can't get over that right now. Shouldn't get over that right now.

But there will be a time--weeks, maybe. Months. Maybe years--when people will want to piece things together, will be ready to question why God would allow such a thing (and ready to hear the answers), ready to open ourselves to hope again.

But for most people in Alabama right now, it's shock. And grief. And brokenness. And humility. And a feeling of helplessness. And absolutely the promise of hope. But not hope itself. Not yet.

All I know is that I'm increasingly grateful to have been spared, increasingly grieving over others' losses, and increasingly convinced that deep devastation needs time to heal, time before things can make any semblance of sense.