I Love the Raisin

My sister-in-law is the very best sharer of fabulous recipes.  She researches and tries and tweaks and then passes along the delicious to me.  How lucky am I?  Lucky.  I'm often uncertain of how that lady gets all that she gets done with four little people under tow.  

The last one she shared with me was a cinnamon raisin bread of only goodness and it is freaking delicious.  Just follow that recipe to a tee and you'll want to eat the entire loaf.  I don't have a bread machine so I did the normal bread making thing which is to knead the dough for about 8 minutes and then let it rise for about 45 minutes and then rolled it out and rolled it up and put in the pan to rise again to sufficient baking height.  Bread dough is not scientific, it's more of a feeling so one can't give precise kneading and rising directions.  

Then, I baked the loaf at 325 degrees for 20 minutes with a tinfoil tent over it to keep it from getting crispy on the outsides and then took the tent off to bake for about another 30-35 minutes.  

Last night, Sister Pister and I had the kind of chat sisters have about nothing as I was on my way to and from the bank.  She was all, "I'm just pulling a loaf of that raisin bread recipe from Sil out of the oven and I'm totally eating that, and only that, for supper."  Then I was all yelling into the phone because I tend to yell, "I know!"

And I must say, this dough is oh so pretty.  Like pretty pretty.  The entire process is really rather beautiful.  Nerd herd card punched for saying that sentiment aloud to real people instead of keeping it as an inside thought.

I made this particular loaf on Saturday afternoon because it's totally a weekend thing.  It belongs with Saturday, Sunday, and a side of sun streaming through the windows.  

That sun is a deceiving little bugger these days, flirting with spring but not actually delivering.  I soaked up its warmth while kneading the bread on the counter, while knowing if I stepped outside I'd be slapped with freezing.  At any rate, the sun warmed my back and caused me to move my rising place from the normal spot in front of the fire to right on the kitchen floor.  Flirting with spring around here.  

Every single time I manage bread dough actually rising, I do a little jig.  It's jig-worthy.

Here's a secret about this bread, it's so simple.  I'm often reminded how a simple process paired with only a few ingredients work together to be the tastiest.

Here's another secret, an even better one.  After you get the mixing and kneading done, your hands will smell like coconut oil for the rest of the day.  In my book, that's a very good thing.   

I love grapes and all of their life cycle.  Grapes, raisins, and wine.  I love the raisin.  Just as I love bread raisin' on the floor in my kitchen. 

Yes, that just happened.  Nerd herd card punched again for punning when one shouldn't.  

One more time.  Say it with me here...dry ingredients in a bowl are pretty.  Dry ingredients in a bowl are real pretty.


Yoga and Weekend Goodness

On the way to one morning this week, a Fleetwood Mac song started playing and I started thinking how I rather enjoy Fleetwood Mac for like one song.  Then after that it just gets too much of the same for me.  Cue guitar and raspy voice here.  But one song I'm all about.  Back in the day, every once in awhile, I would get a random hey you look like Stevie Nicks and I would be all hmmmm I should know who that is right?  

I do know now.  Not sure I look like her either.  But one song of listening I will do.  

Wednesday night Karen and I tried two different new classes, Booty Barre and Yoga.  I'm capitalizing yoga there because I feel like it needed it.  I'm feeling the itch to stretch my repertoire of working out options as running and muscle pump class have been it for about two years now, and I have this odd sensation to try new.  I also know how important stretching is and I do not do it; I jump on the treadmill, do my run, and jump off the treadmill.  Real healthy I tell you.  And don't even get me started on my flexibility, more specifically my lack thereof.  It's similar to a board, an actual wood board.

Booty Barre was fantastic!  Love loved it as it concentrates on remaining tall and works the posture, hiney, legs, and arms all at the same time.  The remaining tall portion was quite possibly my favorite.  I often have strange anxiety about hunchbacks.

That class was from 6:15-7:00 with yoga starting at 7:00 so we stayed through.  Then hilarity broke out because if you know me or you know Karen or you happen to know both of us, you know our strengths do not lie in remaining quiet, calm, nor still.

The instructor guy was rather intense and gave us a ten minute lecture before hand about how if things hurt, then we were to say "or not" to the pose.  This in itself started my inner inappropriate giggle.

Then it started.  Turns out Karen can't sit cross legged, which is apparently a key yoga pose.  Insert inappropriate giggles here.  Then I fell over from concentrating so very hard.  Like fell completely over.  Karen said she wanted to yell, "Timberrrrr."  But felt that would get us in more trouble.  At 7:50, after doing all kinds of things like holding and rocking our leg like a baby, we both looked at each other like okay we can do this for ten more minutes.  Yes we can.

But then.  Then!  He kept going.  And going and going.  At 8:15, we were lying on the floor with the lights completely off and hoopa music playing.  I have no words for it other than hoopa.  He proceeded to talk us through relaxing and clenching each muscle in our body, in a slow drawn out melodramatic voice.  I kept my eyes closed and tried super hard to get into this relaxing portion of the class.  Then, I made the mistake of opening my eyes and looking over at Karen, only to find her looking right back at me with a look which was precisely how I was feeling.

We lost it.

I whispered to her, "What time does this get over?  Ten?"

We lost it again.

Now mind you this, I really believe yoga is a fantastic thing to do with one's body and mind and soul and spirit and all other hoopa aspects of our being.  I really do.

I just need to be more prepared the next time I go.  As in, I need to know it will last an hour and a half.  I need to know that my feet will be bare and people around me will take inhaling and exhaling very serious like.  I need to know the instructor is like a mix between a counselor and a fitness instructor.  I need to know I will straight up fall over when trying to put my elbow on the floor while my one foot is the air and my other hand is behind my head.  I will.

My body is rather sore now two days after, so I feel Booty Barre and Yoga did some good.  And I do think I'd be a much taller stander and move my flexible as a board status to more of a flexible as a piece of beef jerky if I kept at it.

I just have to make sure I never make eye contact with Karen throughout the entire ninety minutes.  Not once, not ever.

Shoulder shaking, inappropriate giggling is our strong point and still, quiet, and calm are not.  Therefore, no eye contact.

I started this with Fleetwood Mac and went to fitness classes in the middle and now I'm ending with how lovely my last weekend was as we are the midst of a new one.  A long weekend with most of my family (we missed the rest!) was just what the doctor ordered.  There was life talks and singing loudly in the car.  Then, power shopping with my mom and sister.  A sushi lunch with Sister Pister before everyone else arrived.  Even more eating, this time brunch with everyone which happens to be my favorite meal ever.  Time spent at Sister Pister's apartment with her being all hostess with the mostess.  There was a win in Bingo!  A movie was attended.  It was just plain fabulous.

And now it's Saturday afternoon and I have cinnamon raisin bread doing its thing in the kitchen with no plans on the agenda for the rest of today, other than When Harry Met Sally paired with a glass of wine.  Yes please.


Dad, forgive me for this picture of you with bacon in your mouth and instead focus on the fellowship of my people on a Sunday morning with pretty sunlight streaming in.  


An Obvious Correlation

The mirrors in the men's bathrooms are more flattering, like by a landslide.  Don't ask me how I know this...I just do.  Men are on to something as evidenced by the following two truth nuggets.  They have tilted mirrors, or some other form of fun house style I'm not aware, in their bathrooms to visually lean the body out.  And then you know how some of them do that trick where they wear their pants with a belt up on the middle of their port belly so from the front they look like a cut in half svelte man but then, but then, when they turn to the side it's like they put a rubber band on an egg?  A rubber band on an egg.  You know that one right?  

I don't know how a woman could re-create that look because well...I just don't.  Titled mirrors though!  We could do that one!  

There's nowhere else to go with this other than to talk about soup.  


In specific, soup out of Grandma Gladys's stainless steel pot.  It really just brings me such joy to chop vegetables and get them going in her pot.  The soup cooking with the smell wafting, knowing it's a piece from her.  Such joy.

Taking pictures of things with sunlight streaming in on a Sunday afternoon also brings me a silly amount of joy.  

This soup recipe goes something like this:

Cut up whatever vegetables you have in the fridge.  This time it was carrots, celery, leeks, brussel sprouts, kale, and a sweet potato.  Heat up olive oil in the bottom of the pot and then saute in the veggies in a smart order with salt and pepper.  Like first the carrots, leek, and celery and then add the brussel sprouts and then the kale with some crushed garlic.

Once your veggies are all sauteed, add chicken or turkey soup stock and the seasonings of thyme, bay leaves, and parsley.  Finally throw in the sweet potato chunks.  If you wanted to add noodles or rice or something else carbo-esque, go for it.

Meat or no meat?  Totally your choice.  It's a soup.  It's not fancy, nor does it have rules.  Cook it on low until you can't stand not eating it anymore. 

Such joy I tell you.  


From Tuesday to a Different Tuesday

On Tuesday, in a parking lot at o' dark thirty, I had a mild panic attack.  

It went something like this.  

Car was running.  Of course it was running as we are in week twenty-seven of below temperatures so starting the car is routine.  

I hit unlock on the fob and nothing.  

I had just finished my morning run so I was sweaty which made the bitter cold all the worse.  I was shaking, holding my tennies, and frantically clicking the unlock.  Nothing.  

Panic attack.  I almost ran after Karen's car as it drove away...

And then I used the key.  

Funny how technology can ruin us.  

Keys!  They still work!  Even if the fob doesn't.  

On a different Tuesday, on the drive out to my brother and sister-in-law's house, I commented several times about the sky being pretty and the drive feeling relaxing.  Does sitting in a passenger seat feel so darn good to anyone else out there?  Might just be my favorite decompressing time. 

When the sky is pretty, it's not just relaxing but also worthy of pulling over.  

Then we carried on our way to celebrate birthdays for Momma Debi and my older brother with family visits and cheesecake.  

There you have two different stories about Tuesdays.  


Surprise Gifting Myself

A Christmas present to myself arrived on the doorstep last week.  At first, I wondered what was in the brown package because I hadn't ordered anything as of late.  But when I cracked it open there it was, the back ordered book I had purchased sometime in November finally being delivered.  

I do believe I might do this sort of thing on purpose from here on out.  Surprise gifting yourself is satisfying.  

The item from the random brown box is a book of street photography from Chicago and New York City in the 1950s and it is beautiful.  Like makes you want to literally feel the pages beautiful.  Vivian Maeir is the artist and she is unique in that she wasn't a photographer until after her death.  She was a nanny, living in a stereotypical 1950 woman's role.  In secret, she took photographs - many many pictures.  Since her passing, her work has been unearthed by the editor of this book, John Maloof.  After his careful curating and compiling, she is now a photographer with a capital P.  

Although I'd dare say she was that long before being recognized as so, a Photographer.  A see-er of the world - the tiny and the small and the everything in between.  She knew she was.  Otherwise, she wouldn't have kept shooting.  At least that's what I believe; we don't do things just because.  We don't.  For whatever reason, while she was amongst the walking and breathing, she didn't want to share her gift.  And maybe in a way, that was her way of sharing. 

I love the mystery of that nugget.  It makes me wonder what else is being hidden in this world which will one day turn into a tangible gift of talent and art.  

Like maybe the person next to me at the grocery store is a painter with a capital P.  Or maybe the person waiting in the next lane at a red light is a writer with a capital W.  

It's a rather whimsical theory, and I like it.  

A gift being shared after the person no longer can share it themselves. 

This book is a love.  It is inspiring, haunting, down right beautiful, and gets my full stamp of approval for a choice in surprise gifting to yourself.   

If for nothing else but this quote from Vivian herself, "It's a wheel - you get on, you go to the end, and someone else has the same opportunity to go to the end, and so on, and somebody else takes their place.  There's nothing new under the sun."  

Worth passing along.



I just need to and want to say this right now as I sit here on my couch at 6:17 on a Sunday night...I hope I live my life in such a manner so that when it's over, there will be stories.  Many many stories.  Of love and laughter and hope and inspiration and everything in between.  We have spent the last week saying goodbye to Eldon and it is very apparent the man touched many.  

It was beautiful.  It is beautiful.  And please keep Corinne close in your thoughts as she navigates her way without his physical presence.  He'll always be there for her, just in a different way.


Family and Fellowship

Today, somewhere between first grade and RTI pyramids, I lost my necklace.  A homemade number which matches one my little sister, my mom, and my sister-in-law all have.  It is crocheted chains of yarn with a flower on the side and I really rather liked it.  Mostly because I knew we all had one.  I am a sucker for ties that bind.

But it fell off and I lost it.  

And somewhere between first notice and missing it, I remembered big.  Big issues of much more importance than a yarn necklace.  So I am not missing it and not giving it another thought.  I just am not, because here's what I was thinking about as I walked down the hallway to try to find the gray and pink yarn.  

"Amy, I think you could sell that lamp over there to a blind man!" said with a chuckle and an arm thrown around my shoulder by my uncle Eldon a few summers ago.  We were having a garage sale at his and Corinne's house of Grandma Audrey's things before she moved.  I was selling, wanting to clear things out.  After a few successful attempts and people walking off with items that they never knew they needed nor wanted, that's what Eldon said.

I found myself thinking of that many, many times when I wondered if I could do my second job this summer.  The job of selling marketing and advertising.  "I think you could sell that lamp over there to a blind man!" 

In other words.  You are capable.  You can do anything.  

Because that's the thing about Eldon.  He found you.  He had a way of knowing exactly what words you needed to hear.  He made people feel special.  Every single day as he interacted with coworkers and sold cars at Ryan Chevrolet.  Every single day as he lived his life with family and friends and complete strangers.

So now that we are saying goodbye to him, there's an ever steady flow of people who have been impacted by the man named Eldon.  Impacted, inspired, and who have received candy from him.  Of course candy!  Both he and Corinne are the forever candy fountains.  When we went to Corinne's on Saturday afternoon, the very first thing Little Man said to her after a hug was, "Hey Quaaeen, can me have some candy?"  And of course, she jumped right to it.

Eldon's legacy lives on.  It will continue to always.  He was a giver and a lover of life so it's bound to. 

My parents, Sister Pister, and Hayes came over for brunch yesterday morning before we headed back over to Corinne's.  I have decided I can add other thing to my list of I believes.  

I believe in family and fellowship all the time, but especially in times of loss. 
This year, Uncle Eldon won't be calling every person in our family and singing the entire happy birthday song to them on their special day.  But you can guarantee we will all be thinking of him at some point on that day, knowing he'd want us to feel loved.  We will all be thinking of him many days.  Carrying on with his legacy of selling lamps to blind men.