Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Five: Comfort Media

A Thrifted Cozy CornerRevGalBlogPals Friday Five today is about Comfort, media style. 

Comfort, yes!  Comfort media, absolutely!  I have my own selection of movies and TV shows that are never old, no matter how many times you watch them.  These are the treats you curl up with during a bad cold or to unwind after a particularly challenging Consistory meeting. Just sayin' ... 

And don't forget the comfort food!  In honor of the last few days of Fair Trade month, treat yourself to some Fair Trade chocolate from Theo Chocolate, the only only organic fair trade bean-to-bar chocolate factory in the United States.  For something hearty and spicy, check out my daughter's yummy Rattlesnake Pasta -- freshly posted today!  Surprise, it's vegetarian!   Be ye comforted to the max!

My media comforts trend toward strong women, slapstick comedy and just plain escape:

Legally Blonde (movie) starring Reese Witherspoon as a blonde who is underestimated by almost everyone but herself.  Witherspoon herself seemed to be underestimated until she won the Oscar for Walk the Line.

The Closer (TV show) starring Kyra Sedgwick as Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson.  She is sassy, competent, Southern, and is surrounded by a great supporting cast.  I watch every episode I can find, no matter how many times I've seen it before.  It's just a fun show to watch.

Pretty Woman (movie) which is great Richard Gere and great Julia Roberts. I watch the whole movie to get to the last line, which gets me every time.

Fletch (movie) starring Chevy Chase.  I almost have this movie memorized and I still think it's hilarious.

Instant Movie or TV Marathon -- My daughter introduced me to The Deadliest Catch when we watched a bundle of episodes together marathon-style.  I am now watching the first three seasons of Mad Men with my son whenever we get the chance to squeeze in a few episodes.  I love Netflix!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Knew Better, Did Better: Fair Trade Buying

Janee Payne:  Freshly-picked coffee beans
"I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better."  -- Maya Angelou

October is Fair Trade Month.  The "special month" is ending, but the opportunity continues year-round to buy with justice in mind by seeking out fair trade products.

ABOUT FAIR TRADE, from the Fair Trade USA web site:  "The Fair Trade Certified™ Label guarantees consumers that strict economic, social and environmental criteria were met in the production and trade of an agricultural product. Fair Trade Certification is currently available in the U.S. for coffee, tea and herbs, cocoa and chocolate, fresh fruit, flowers, sugar, rice, and vanilla." 

This week (Oct. 25-31) is International Nestle-Free Week.  Once again, coincidentally, my thoughts are swimming in the same stream as my amazing youngest at Anktangle.  She makes a convincing case for staying away from all things produced by Nestle, and she details how difficult that is to actually do.  Shameless, totally biased plug:  Amy's blog is special (like she is!) and her activism is filled with love for her family, for justice, and for life itself.  Spend a few minutes browsing!

I have been inspired by Jan at Yearning for God who has written regularly about Fair Trade products, especially fair trade chocolate.  Pay her a visit today and wish her a very "Happy Birthday!"

Equal Exchange:  Fairly Traded Coffee, Tea, Chocolate and Snacks.

Green Mountain Coffee has a fairly extensive selection of fair trade (many are organic) coffees and teas.

Small Farmers, Big Change:  "A green and more just food system starts with small farmers."

Divine Chocolate:  "Divine is the only Fairtrade chocolate company which is 45% owned by the farmers. While Fairtrade ensures farmers receive a better deal for their cocoa and additional income to invest in their community, company ownership gives farmers a share of Divine’s profits and a stronger voice in the cocoa industry."

Sweet Earth Chocolates: This company's "organic fair trade confections for chocolate lovers everywhere" includes wedding favors and bulk ingredients.

Mountain Rose Herbs (also teas, spices and essential oils) is committed to sustainability and ethical stewardship.  A significant number of their products are fair trade and part of the standards and values of their business.

DOING BETTER:  Some of my favorite things are coffee, tea and herbs, cocoa and chocolate, fresh fruit, flowers, sugar, rice, and vanilla.  I will enjoy them all the more by doing justice in the buying of them.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saturday Video Joy: Garments of Love

"Garments of Love" 
by Christopher Grundy, Eden Seminary professor

Therefore, as God's chosen people, 
holy and dearly loved, 
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. 
Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 
And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
[Colossians 3:12-14]

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Five: Joy of Friendship

The RevGalBlogPals Friday Five today is about friendship:

friends share everythingWho is the first friend you remember from childhood?  During my preschool days, Yvonne and I were inseparable at school.  One day, she walked in front of someone who was swinging and got kicked in the head and there was blood and she had to leave school suddenly.  Happier memories involved field trip days and our first experiences of going on a "trip" with packed lunches.

Have you ever received an unexpected gift from a friend?  A friend gave me a going away party when we moved from Philadelphia to Dallas.  The party itself -- of young women from our Sunday School class -- was a huge gift, though not unexpected.  The unexpected gifts were that each woman had embroidered a tea towel for me.  (Remember:  Young women, Dallas, luncheon party, in the mid-80s!)  The most unexpected and long-remembered gift was when she played the then-new song "Friends are Friends Forever" and we all cried together.

Is there an old friend you wish you could find again? Or have you found one via social media or the Internet?  Yes to the first question.  There are a couple of people I wouldn't mind finding again, including the women at the party I mentioned above, but I'm not looking for them, either.  To the second question:  Many of our high school friends are reconnecting via Facebook and have had a couple of get-togethers that I have been unable to attend so far.  There is a plan for us to gather for our (*cough*) 40th high school reunion next year, but in a location far, far from any official reunion function(s). 

Do you like to get your good friends together in a group, or do you prefer your friends one on one?  Slight preference for one-on-one.

Does the idea of Jesus as a friend resonate with you?  Yes, among a host of other images.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I'm Wearing Purple Today

Flower / nature / purple flower / purple lotus flower reflections / Lotus Flower (Purple Flower) in nature - Animated - IMG_0515 - زهرة اللوتس, ハスの花, 莲花, گل لوتوس, Fleur de Lotus, Lotosblume, कुंद, 연꽃Today is "Spirit Day" and I'm wearing purple to speak out against anti-LGBT bullying.  It is also a  reminder to me to speak up whenever I hear language that demeans anyone for any reason.  I am thankful for organizations and groups who have brought LGBT human rights issues into the mainstream and advocated for equality for all.

GLAAD (The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation ) amplifies the voice of the LGBT community by empowering real people to share their stories, holding the media accountable for the words and images they present, and helping grassroots organizations communicate effectively. By ensuring that the stories of LGBT people are heard through the media, GLAAD promotes understanding, increases acceptance, and advances equality. Go their Wear Purple page to show "Spirit Day" purple on Facebook and Twitter.

The Human Rights Campaign works for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender equal rights.  Find out what actions are taking place in your state by clicking on a drop down menu on the home page.

I'm especially grateful for the Jesus followers who are the United Church of Christ.   The UCC has historically been a pioneer faith in issues of justice and equality, including marriage equality for all.  Geoffrey Black, general minister and president of the UCC, was one of the national religious leaders who signed the Clergy Against Bullying Statement

LSU FlagYearning for God celebrates the "It Gets Better" You-Tube project

Anktangle celebrates the beauty of purple in pictures.

Kristin at Halfway to Normal proclaims "Not up for debate:  Acceptance and love for all"!  Amen!

And Geaux Tigers!  Today, I wear my purple LSU Tiger shirt in solidarity with teens who didn't live until it got better for them. 

Peace. With justice.  Now.

Monday, October 11, 2010

My Spiritual Friend: Thich Nhat Hanh

Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
True story:  I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and was a little restless.  Normally, I would just go ahead and get fully awake and start the day.  Today is my day off, and I really wanted to do that thing that is so unlike me:  stay in bed past 5:00 in the morning!  

So I grabbed my iPod off of the nightstand, and I opened up my thousands of yet-unlistened-to podcasts.  I happened to choose a Zencast selection called "Thich Nhat Hanh in VietNam" and listened to the first 15 minutes of it before his calm voice lulled me back to sleep for another couple of hours.  And now I have discovered that today is his birthday!  So ...

Happy 84th Birthday, Thich Nhat Hanh!  

Some inspiration from this Vietnam-born Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet, and peace activist:
 “The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
“In order to rally people, governments need enemies. They want us to be afraid, to hate, so we will rally behind them. And if they do not have a real enemy, they will invent one in order to mobilize us.”
If you haven't already crossed paths with his teaching, he is worth getting to know.  I recommend Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life and also Living Buddha, Living Christ.  
"People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child -- our own two eyes. All is a miracle."
Thank you, Thich Nhat Hahn, for making miracles with your life. 

Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Joy of Tradition: Enchiladas!

New Mexico Traditional Enchilada with Egg
Traditional New Mexican-style enchiladas, with sides!
In September, I made a trip to the Dallas-Fort Worth area to visit my young nieces and, oh yes, my sister Paula and her husband Jeff, too.  The girls and I got to spent some auntie-niece time when the parents went away for a few days.  Out of the 3 nights I stayed with them, at the girls' request, we had enchiladas two of those nights.  It's just what we do, and it's what we love.  In our family, enchiladas are soul food and enchilada night is family tradition.  My youngest niece, who is 11, wanted to help, and I was thrilled to be part of her desire to carry on this family tradition.  I had similar great joy when I read Amy's blog about enchiladas.

Enchiladas are just plain good food.  Really easy.  Relatively inexpensive.  Vegetarian.  Gluten-free, if the sauce is gluten free (Old El Paso wasn't when I first wrote this; they are now; always check ingredients).  The house smells like we took a trip south of the border.  So, as promised, here is the recipe our family loves, and freely adapts, for enchiladas:

Mack Family Enchiladas

This recipe serves one but can be multiplied to serve a multitude!

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Get out an oven-proof dinner plate.

Heat 1 can of enchilada sauce (a 15 oz. can will last for 8-10 tortillas) in a pan that is larger in diameter than the tortillas you will use. If you can find Hatch brand sauce, by all means use that.  Old El Paso is good, too.  My grandmother Deedie used to add a little oregano, cumin and garlic powder to the canned sauce as it simmered, so I do that, too.  She also thought that aluminum cans should be opened and allowed to "breathe" before using the contents.  I think my grandmother Lollie made her own enchilada sauce from dried peppers, and I haven't tried that yet.

Meanwhile, chop some onion and make sure you have some shredded cheese.  I often use what's packaged as Mexican cheese. Colby-Jack, Monterey Jack, or mild cheddar will do, too.

When the sauce is good and hot, then ...

Soften 4 corn tortillas per serving (or more, or fewer).  The traditional way to soften them is to pass them through hot lard or oil.  My sister Paula gave me a healthy hint that works great:  I now wrap 4 tortillas in a paper towel, sprinkle just a little water on the towel, and microwave for 45 seconds.  

One at a time, dip each tortilla in the sauce and put on a plate -- flat.  Sprinkle cheese and onions to taste. Continue layering sauce-dipped tortillas with cheese and onions until you have the desired number, usually a number that is between 3 and 9!  Our family fun comes with the special requests:  "no onions, light cheese, heavy cheese" and so on.

Put the plate in the warm oven to keep it warm.  When our whole family gets together, and we always have enchilada night, it takes all the racks of a double oven and one person's job is to keep the list of whose plate is in what place in the ovens.

Fry an egg for each serving, or poached egg works too.  Get the plate out of the oven.  Add the egg to the top and put more sauce over it.  Some people (see this picture) like a lot of sauce!  And some people also like to squeeze just a little lemon juice (totally optional) on top.

Whatever makes it yummy!
This recipe is participating in Hearth and Soul Hop (Volume 18)

Friday, October 08, 2010

Food on Friday: Fall Comfort Food

Enchiladas at Amy's house
I had this great idea to do a post on my all-time favorite comfort food, and then someone -- and not just any someone -- beat me to it.  And I'm glad she did!  So, beginning with her blog which highlights my all-time favorite comfort food, I will share a few fall comfort foods and encourage you to visit some of these really wonderful blogs:

Enchiladas -- or as Amy more accurately names them -- the Mack family enchiladas.  Amy is my younger daughter and the mother of my grandchild. "Mack family enchiladas" are the generation-to-generation recipe that is the go-to soul food in our family.  My grandmothers made them this traditional New Mexican way, and Amy's pictures and description do them proud.  Amy is a magnificent blogger of the real things of life, especially her passion for motherhood and creating a gentle cozy home for her hubby and infant son.  Take your time browsing the pictures of my amazing grandson -- oh, and his parents, too!  (Love you mucho!)

Tomorrow I will post the recipe for our enchiladas.

Roast Chicken -- Alex at A Moderate Life was inspired by the smell of those super market roasting rotisserie chickens to use her first "pastured heritage breed chicken" from her Amish food club to make Mark Bittman's Simple Roast Chicken from Bittman's How to Cook Everything: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food.  Think of Alex's blog as a doorway to incredible cooking delights, including:

Sweet Potato Fries or 'Chips' as we say in the UK - From Vegan With a Vengeance
Sweet Potato Fries
Perfect Applesauce -- Pam at From Apples to Zucchini reveals the secrets to making delicious canned applesauce.  I say "Amen!" to her suggestion to use a variety of apples -- let your eyes and nose guide you -- and I am going to invest in an immersion blender to make the job a lot easier.

Burrito in a Bowl -- Christy at Home Celebration put this recipe out there a few days ago and it sounds easy and delicious.  I can't wait to try it.

Sweet Potato Fries -- This recipe is not original with me, and I don't remember where I first found it.  I enjoy this simple and delicious and healthy substitute for those also-delicious gooey brown sugary, buttery candied kind.
  • Sweet potatoes (as many as you think you need) -- no need to peel, but you can. Cut them lengthwise into chunky-ish (3/4"?) fries.  Cut in half cross-wise if they seem too long.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil -- toss the fries with just enough of this to coat
  • Seasonings -- Use your imagination to toss some seasonings in with the potatoes and oil.  I like some cinnamon and a little cayenne pepper and some salt.
  • Spread out on a baking sheet (I use a Pampered Chef one) and cook at 400 degrees until they are done, about 30 minutes or so. Turn them over about halfway through.
Beef Stew -- and it brings us back to where we started, at Anktangle.  Amy posted a recipe today for this fall favorite, just a day after I made some stew myself.   Her pictures and the description are treats in themselves. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Knew Better, Did Better: The Dentist

Double Rainbow
Tuesday, I saw a double rainbow that looked a lot like this.
"I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better."  -- Maya Angelou

It had been awhile since I had been to the dentist.  There were dentist complications in my old congregational setting.  Lesson learned:  No matter how well-meaning, don't let the church drop dental coverage when a dentist in the congregation offers to "take care of it"  because if that dentist is against gay marriage, and the denomination, not the congregation, passes a "Marriage Equality Resolution" ... but that's another story.

Then I moved.
Then I got busy.
Then I was scared to break in a new dentist.
And then I did make an appointment for a cleaning with a dental office I found through my dental insurance (yes, I have insurance again!).  The first appointment was two months into the future.  Then I broke a tooth.

My new dentist is a wonder!  When I told him during our first visit that I was afraid, he said I had come to the right place.  I didn't believe him.

My appointment today resulted in a temporary crown, no need for root canal (praise be!), and an appointment in two weeks that I am actually looking forward to.

I asked him how he got to be so good at the "chair side" manner which got an extra-special workout today with this white-knuckled patient. He said he had been taught in dental school that there is a person attached to those teeth.  He sees dental work as simply technique that he has long-ago mastered.  What makes his practice meaningful to him is treating people's anxiety and fear, and not simply their teeth.  I was in very good hands, after all.

Wow!  Simply WOW!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Dream Job Part Two: What This Pastor Wants

Yes, it's supposed to be Hogwarts.  Makes sense to me!
Following up on yesterday's Friday Five post, I had to write more about what I want in my Dream Job:

I'm a pastor.  I do have a dream job. Given the biological reality that my baby-making and child-rearing years have been fully completed, my other dream job is indeed serving the church.  It's where I breathe; it's what I was made for.  I have had amazing experiences of God active, visible, available and working miracles in and through what we Christians call the church, the body of Christ.  Where else would I be?

I don't even like calling pastoral ministry a job.  Not that there's anything wrong with so-called regular jobs.  I've had a few of those, from my very first job at Kentucky Fried Chicken -- kids, it wasn't always called "KFC" -- to my first career as a medical technologist.  Even jobs are never "just" jobs, depending on the approach and the motivation.  Still, with those jobs, there were defined expectations, finite hours, and definite job descriptions.  It wasn't a life-style or a life commitment.  You didn't have to relate significantly or authentically to co-workers, bosses or customers.  And you could go home and be done with that job at the end of  the day!

I don't expect people in my congregation to understand fully what I do, how I do it, and what it costs me and mine.  They just never could really see it all.  They also can never grasp the deep satisfaction and the incredible joy and the thrill of the "a-ha" moments that are all part of "the job."

Friday, October 01, 2010

Friday Five: Dreamy Ministry

The Friday Five today on RevGalBlogPals is about the things that give energy in ministry and the things that take energy away.

The actual "Friday Five" bring out the Whine & Gripe in me, so I'm going directly to the Bonus Question (because I can!) about my very own Dream Ministry:

Orange DreamsicleFriday Five:  My Dream Ministry Ingredients
  1. Serving among an enthusiastic, authentic loving community of people who are spiritually focused, God-oriented, open to the surprises of the Spirit, and who seek to function as the body of Christ.
  2. A desk that has all of its drawer pulls, drawers that don't stick, and that is not located under the pull-down door for the attic storage.
  3. A water source in or near my office and a heated restroom that doesn't necessitate a walk all the way through the dark, unheated sanctuary in winter.
  4. An office that is not also an archives room, storage area for communion supplies, and catch-all place for "temporary" things.
  5. Technology that actually works for the ministry ('nuff said)
Come to think of it, I could let go of the last four of those to be blessed with the first one.