Friday, June 26, 2015

Smooth Operator

For whatever reason, we have entered a Smoothie phase in our house.  I'm not quite sure how it evolved.  Perhaps, my Mama Boot Camp efforts combined with He Who Is Now Taller Than I embarking on his own self-styled fitness regimen, inspired these blended attempts toward clean-er eating.  And drinking.  Anyhoo, it's been fun.  And, of course, I created a Pinterest board for it all.  As if.

Good equipment is key.  Our lovely, low-end wedding gift of a blender survived about a half-dozen smoothies until it gave up the ghost.  Actually, the almond milk.  Flowing out the bottom.  After nearly two decades of faithful service, we retired the Oster.  And, thus, I set out to research blenders.  Yes, when you have access to things like Consumer Reports, it's amazing how research-focused you become.  Major and minor appliances.  So many reviews, so little time.  But, when you come across an affordable and highly-rated machine called NINJA, you realize that you can't go wrong.

Kudos to my sista-friends (and innocent bystanders) who have tolerated my waxing eloquent about the electric Ninja 1000.  Not to be confused with the human Ninja who dwells in our house.  Though the energy and noise levels are about equal!  I feel like a real Smoothista--or whatever they might be called.  This beauty has a tree-like piece with multiple blades that will slice you just by looking at it.  You might not think this important but it means that you can put ice in at the top--or the bottom.  We're getting crazy around here! Three pulses and thirty seconds on high--and voila.

Our favorites?  Banana, baby spinach, almond milk, vanilla yogurt, honey, and ice.  Well, my human Ninja isn't crazy about those.  He prefers "traditional" smoothies--fruit, milk, and ice cream.  Yes, we have learned from reliable sources that a local Smooth-erie uses ice cream in their concoctions.  Illusions of healthy consumption go right out the door.  But, we will keep their secret.  I will use this opportunity to blatantly promote Pour Me Some Juice, at The Lift in Downtown Jackson.  A dear friend manages it, some good friends are employed there, and much like the oft-celebrated brand name ice cream in our newly-renovated Kroger, it's 100% natural.  End of commercial.  

Just for fun, I have also tried the Pineapple Dole Whip recipe.  If you like Orange Julius (which I do), it's basically a Pineapple Julius.  It's quite yummy.  A dollop of whip cream on top.  A maraschino cherry to make it look pretty.  A taste of the islands in the rhinestone on the buckle of the Bible Belt.  Wahoo...and Squee!

Oh, and we call the spinach-banana mixology, the Yoda Smoothie.  Rightly named, it is.  And, yes, the straw must match.  Curb appeal and all that.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


He Who Is Now Taller Than I turns 13 today.  Yeah, I just typed that number.  It's much harder to say.  "My oldest is 13...".  How did that happen?  I keep thinking about the classic line from Steel Magnolias.  "Time marches on.  And sooner or later, it marches right across your face."  Actually, it's more like "Don't Blink".

I won't post any embarrassing baby pictures here--that is the stuff of which rehearsal dinners are made.  He has sweetly tolerated my random bursts of nostalgia these past few weeks.  Being wired like his mama in that vein, he plays along.  And tends to surprise me with what he remembers from his preschool days.  While I'm tempted to regale you all with tales of his first real Halloween costume (Elmo), his first complete sentence (Kitty bite you!), and his favorite riding-in-the-car song (Sing "Day", Mama, Sing "Day"--that was toddler-speak for "This is the Day!"), I look at this 5'5", size 11 shoe basketball player who cracks up at Tim Hawkins young man.  And, I think, wow.  Just wow.  Pretty eloquent, eh?

I'm thankful for his conscientiousness, his diligence, and his compassionate heart.  His patience with his uber-energetic younger brother, his laughter at goofy puns, and his devotion to his favorite sports teams brings a grin to my heart.  Truly, I think the only person who took the Gators loss in the 2008 SEC Championship harder than he was Timmy T himself.  He amazes us with his nearly-photographic memory--he's your man in Jeopardy, Millionaire, or any Trivia battle.  He wonders at the injustices of the world and has little tolerance for leaders who won't take action to right them.   (We're working on channeling that ferocity--he comes by it honestly!).  

Sonic Blasts, Picasso's Ranch BLT pizza, and his dad's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake rank among his edibles of choice.  He didn't come to the All-American adoration of macaroni and cheese till he hit double digits--and yet, he orders up the Lovely Roll at our favorite sushi place.  And, those fruit-filled cereal bars--aptly named "bar-bars" by him at the age of 17 months--are the go-t0 snack.  And, yes, we all call them "bar-bars".  Still. 

We packed him off to camp this week.  For the first time.  A week East of the Parents.  He took the essentials--extra socks, sunscreen, and SpikeBall.  My mom's heart was touched by the fact that he was concerned about not being home for his birthday.  Concerned for me.  We celebrate long after the actual date, the rule being that the celebration ends when the last birthday card is received.  And, then there's a 7-day extension.

It's all good.  Or as he often says, "Good point."

The size 11s.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

"As If You Were Mine..."

Father’s Day evokes a myriad of emotions for many.  While some of us lived the Father of the Bride closeness with our biological fathers--”I couldn’t love anything more”--some of us didn’t have that storybook relationship.  Our dads may have been the life of the party and someone everyone knew of--but no one really knew.  That was my dad.  He was a fun-loving, competitive-to-a-fault sports fanatic.  He hunted, he fished, he played golf--and he grilled huge slabs of cow on the Weber.  He knew magic tricks, taught me some of the finer points of Black Jack (he did casino nights for charity organizations, as a side business, for a decade or so), and was a heck of a dancer. I get that from him--wink!   We were more like casual acquaintances that had fun together. Divorce will do that.  Sometimes, physical separation and occasional weekend visits don’t allow for much more.  No matter the “status”, I loved my dad.  And, I knew he loved me.  He had a hard time expressing it.  It took me years to realize that because I was so verbal--I couldn’t fathom why it would be so difficult to express affection.  If discerning love languages had a been a trend back then, he would be the one who demonstrates love by acts of service.  He worked hard--and he lived hard.  I like to think that he would have been awfully proud of his two grandsons.  And just might have met his match in these sports trivia aficionados. 

Pop-Pop.  My dad’s dad.  I was the apple of his eye and he was my first love.  The only grandchild until the age of 21, I wasn’t spoiled or anything.  He played cards with me, taught me silly piano duets and crazy ditties like “Little Brown Jug” and “I’m A Nervous Wreck”.  He built a dollhouse with me and fashioned the neighborhood’s best tire swing (We should have charged admission!).  He picked me up from school every Friday afternoon where we visited 7-11, purchasing a Coke Slurpee and a Cheez-n-Crackers snack.  In the 25-minute ride back to my grandparent’s house, I sometimes dozed off.  Likely from the effects of a sugar high crashing down upon me.  There is one common thread in all of that--he spent time with me.  He listened to me, he laughed with me, and he loved me.  He was a hugger, would often steal “sugar” from my neck, and as I got older, he would graciously but warily “inspect” the young men that I deemed suitable to cross his threshold.  Interestingly enough, my Philosopher was always his favorite.  Imagine that.

God’s grace is lavish and unfailing.

Remember that Economics professor who invited us in for a piece of pie whom I mentioned in an earlier post (Of Sailfish and Bulldogs)?  I was one of those who never left.  I would say that he became “like a father” to me; but, in truth, he became a father to me.  His unconditional love and encouragement, coupled with his infamous shrug and non-verbals that spoke volumes, helped me to grasp how much my Heavenly Father loved me.  I babysat his children who, in turn, 20 years later, would “hang out” with mine.  He is Pan, I am Rufio.  He is godfather to our Ninja.

God’s grace is lavish and unfailing.

There is a lovely meme which says something like “I never knew how much I loved your Daddy until I saw how much he loved you”.  And, oh my heart, is that ever the truth.  A bouquet of long-stemmed roses is nice--or dinner at a favorite restaurant is sweet.  But as I watch my Philosopher coach his boys on the finer points of hoops, instruct He Who is Now Taller than I in the lost art of pancake-making, or answering those tough questions that ricochet around in my Ninja’s mind, in the dark of night, my heart melts.  As our eldest saunters into teenage-land later this week, I am grateful that he has a father who will walk beside him, guiding him, listening to him, and whose presence provides a stability and security that many young men (and women) crave.  And, it is the Heavenly Father on whom his earthly father leans for strength and wisdom.  He is not perfect.  Nor would he claim to be.  But, our Heavenly Father is perfect.  That’s a relief.

God’s grace is lavish and unfailing.

Oh, and did I mention that when I married my Philosopher, I also got a super father-in-love? He’s exceedingly gregarious, “infinitely flexible” (an inside joke), and does more before 9am than most folks half his age.  He is passionate about the Truth, unapologetically likes what he likes, and places his cereal bowl in the freezer each night.  Why?  Because who wants to eat cereal, with cold milk, in a lukewarm bowl?  Perfectly logical.  I am the only one of his “kids” who is not taller than he--he likes that.  And, he loves my mother-in-love with every fiber of his being.  After nearly 45 years of marriage, they still like each other.  And, they love being together.  Another gift they have given their children--of which I am a beneficiary.   I got a bonus Dad.  That’s pretty cool.  

God’s grace is lavish and unfailing.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love” ~ Jeremiah 31:3

Yes, you. And me. Us.

God’s grace is lavish.   Unfailing.  Everlasting.

Friday, June 19, 2015

God of the Brokenhearted

It's about good versus evil.
It's about love versus hate.
It's about a broken, fallen world.

Let the pundits holler, the media exploit, and the birds Twitter.

These words keep rolling through my brain.

"I have decided to stick with love because hate is too great a burden to bear." 
~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In bold, red letters, Jesus spoke in John's Gospel:

"I have said these things to you, that in me, you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” 
~ John 16:33

I notice that He didn't say "I might" overcome the world.  Or "I've thought about" overcoming the world .  Or "I'm considering" overcoming the world.

He said, "I HAVE."

And, that's what I have to hold onto. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Hump-Day You Know What

"We are Nippersinkers, we're in luck;
If it rains all week, just pretend you're a duck.
Quack, quack, waddle, waddle!"
A favorite of mine.  Give me a fry, and I'll tell you some more.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Hump-Day Hilarity: MadMen Style

It's a MadMen thing.  
I would say it was a location joke; 
but, I'm honestly not sure that I would have wanted to be there. 
Thank you, Joan Holloway.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Flower Power

Several years ago, after reading The Language of Flowers, I became fascinated, nay, nearly obsessed with the meanings of flora and fauna.  The more I read, the more enchanted I became.  Back in the Victorian Era, when young lovers would court, always chaperoned, there wasn't much room for the whispering of sweet nothings.  So, these besotted admirers would create bouquets of various flowers, seemingly innocent in appearance.  However, one could easily communicate the deeper, inexpressible feelings of ardent love (cactus), passion (bougainvillea), attachment (jasmine), or hope (hawthorn).  

Interestingly, the hydrangea, a bloom featured in many summer wedding bouquets, represents dispassion.  Hmm, it might be time to re-think that one.  Perhaps something that is a declaration of love (tulips).  They are quite lovely.  It's also quite appropriate that the apple symbolizes temptation.  It goes back to the Garden.

As Teleflora and FTD would like us to know, a rose isn't just a rose.  The color of the rose communicates a very specific message.  You find modesty in pale peach, longing or missing someone in yellow, and fascination in orange.  Of course, with the hybrid blooms and color dye, we have teal, purple, and blue roses, too.  The traditional red rose will always speak of love.  Usually the true, the passionate, the eternal.  According to one website, should you receive a bouquet of mixed color roses, the sender is saying, "I don't know what my feelings are yet but I sure do like you enough to send you roses." Kind of the floral equivalent of putting your money where your mouth is, I suppose.

If there was an important message forthcoming, one would send a bouquet of irises.  An unsure admirer might send a handful of camellias, indicating that his destiny was in the hands of the recipient.  However, you certainly didn't want to receive of bouquet of thistles which represent misanthropy.  Only Eeyore makes thistle admiration tolerable.

I decided to take a stroll through my not-so-secret garden.  We have magnolia (dignity), azalea (fragile and ephmeral passion which fits as the blooms only stay around about two weeks), and hosta (hardy plant which even I can't kill).  External donations have come in the form of amaryllis (pride) and daylilies (coquetry--I adore the sound of that word).  Once the premier flower of our iris (message) garden fades away, we have asiatic lilies (chastity and purity) and a beautiful butter-cream wild rose bush (there is no traditional symbolism but I like to think of it as meaning unmerited gift or serendipity).  We have strawberries (perfection) and various types of mint (virtue and protection from illness).  We have planted oregano (joy) which I trust will counteract the basil meaning of hate (How did that happen?  Basil is a lovely herb.).  We also have some veggies growing which have no documented definition but to our family means salsa, pickles, and tossed salad.

And, one single Blaze rose bush.  Wild, low-maintenance, and resilient.  Slightly unpredictable.  A bit thorny.  It has quite a bit of character, methinks.  

Wishing you a day filled with cosmos, gerber daisies, pink roses, and pear.  I'm not sure how that bouquet looks in a vase.  Just add baby's breath and all will be well.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Hump Day Hoo-Ha: Paisley-Style

I like country music and I cannot lie.  And Brad is a favorite.  This is, dare I say it, "marvel"-ous.  Cue internal eye roll.  But, you know you chuckled.  Just a little bit. 

Atta Boy, Paisley.