Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Filling Up On Happy (plus a recipe and a book giveaway!)

I am fascinated by people who read through recipe books the way I read through design books!  Being in the kitchen is like an art to them, mixing flavors the way a painter mixes colors; swirling pans and sprinkling spices until their masterpiece is just right.  They know things like how to emulsify liquids and oils and the correct way to hold a knife.  I love watching how creating a meal is a labor of love to them.  I wish I had that.  For me, cooking is labor, period.

I do love the eating part, though!  Even more than that, there is something about sharing a meal around a table with loved ones or new acquaintances that just sits right with me.  It's a happy place.

We recently had one such evening.  Scotty and I invited three couples over for dinner.  We decided on an Italian theme and everybody brought a little something.  The eight of us gathered around our table for six, pulling up a folding chair that was too short and a wobbly stool. We had the best time! 

With Bocelli playing in the background, we had Toscana soup (recipe here), salad and homemade ciabatta bread.  Then we took a break from the eating and told stories and talked about current events.  Next was lasagna and garlic zucchini.  We pulled out Catch Phrase and laughed until our cheeks were sore.

And then ...

Sea salt and caramel cheesecake.  Creamy, smooth, heavenly yumminess.  That's all I have to say about that! 

We laughed and talked late into the night.  It was the kind of evening that still lingered with a smile the next day.  We did so much more than just fill empty stomachs that night.  We built friendship and filled ourselves up with happy. 

I am no artist in the kitchen and my home does not look like the beautiful homes from the design books I drool over.  In fact, my bathroom has been in the middle of a ceiling repair for the past few (ahem) ... years.  The carpet needs a cleaning and the couch ... well, let's not go there.  But that night it was a lovely place.  The flaws were hidden by the richness of communion. 

I have just finished reading the book, Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist.  She describes what I am talking about so wonderfully!  Read this book!  And what are you waiting for?  Don't wait for your home to look perfect!  Order pizza, pop open some soda, and invite your people over to enjoy life around the table!  Unless, of course, you're one of those.  In that case, create your culinary masterpiece!   Here's to food and friendship!  Bon appetit!

- Liv

This drawing has expired.
This book is too good not to share, so I am going to give away ONE copy!  To enter, email me here and put your email address in the subject line.  Place your entry by Monday, August 12th!  Or, you can order the book here!  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

For when you can't find the words

Photo Credit: Mara Borrego
"Sometimes we can’t find the words to pray and we’re so desperate, so frantic, that elaborate prayers and words just fail us.  All I’d had was please and even if I’d not had that, my spirit would have cried out and doesn’t Jesus hear and feel that?  Doesn’t he know how we’re crumbling and tell it to the Father?...You’re frantic, but He’s already working on it and you haven’t even asked, but He‘s heard." - Ruth Povey
Guys, I know I haven't written much lately, but I sure do think of you a lot.  It's quite frustrating to me, actually.  I have started several posts, but the words to finish have been just out of my reach.  I'm  taking it as a que that during this season, I need to soak in words from those who have them to give.  Here is one from today that I wanted to share with you. Click on over to (in)courage to read more from Ruth Povey.

Love ya, Liv

Friday, July 12, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Present


I can smell the French-pressed coffee sitting on the counter.  Scotty's car is backing out of the drive.  The house is still.  The only sounds are the buzzing of my laptap and the c-l-i-c-k-i-n-g of the keys as I type.  With a busy day ahead, I may not have a moment of quiet like this until I crawl into bed tonight.

How to stay present in the busyness?  How does one keep herself from becoming intoxicated in this media-drunk world?  We have become numb to the ear-splitting cacophony of work and whining kids and tv and Twitter and sprinting from one task to another.  We feel the need to fill an empty moment with something productive.  Like a factory run by the unrelenting task master of time, mass-producing a commercially wrapped product of success in the form of  a clean home, beautiful pictures on Facebook, well-behaved, talented kids, a nice body, or ______ (fill in the blank).

How do we hear that still, small voice over the roar of it all?  The voice that offers us peace.  Peace. 

How do we remain present in our own lives?  To hear our loved ones and see their needs?

How do we put down the yoke of the urgent to be present and available for the important?

Somehow, I don't think the answer is more time...

- Liv 

New to Five Minute Friday?   Click here for the details.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Beautiful

How about a little bit of Friday for your Tuesday morning?  I linked up for FMF at  If you like to write, why not join the fun?  Set your timer for five minutes and write, using the prompt. No need to edit.  Just write for the love of writing.  Want to see what others wrote?  Click here

Tired, weathered hand holding a new baby.  Family gathered through tears to celebrate a life lived. Clothing scattered after watching my daughter dance graceful.  The aftermath of Christmas morning.  A kiss to make up after a fight.  Dark skies watering a cracked, thirsty ground, and the cool freshness after.   Dishes piles high after fresh baked yumminess.  The easy laughter of a friendship that has walked the hard times together.  Dirt beneath the nails after planting.   This life, well lived - it's a beautiful mess.      

Monday, July 8, 2013

My Favorites List


Check out the new 'My Favorites List' tab on the top of my page!  I can't wait to show you the book I'm reading right now!  Here's a hint:  It's about food.  And friendship.  What's not to love?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Tired does not mean defeated

 "It doesn't matter how you feel, just how you trust and how you respond."
A dear friend texted this to me the other morning after I told her that it felt like I was  "just trudging through - one foot in front of the other...dealing with one thing at a time with no motivation to do anything else."

There are some things going on in my life that I wish were different.  I'm not gonna lie.  Some things have been downright hard.  And I am tired. 

Her text went on to remind me that even when it feels like I'm running in the sand, God is in the present moment and He will carry me across the finish line if need be.  I love how she knows me well enough to use a race analogy.

Marathons (or 1/2 marathons) are long, hard and exhausting.  It is as much mental as it is physical.  You have to go in knowing that it will be a challenge.  Throughout the course you must constantly remind yourself that you are going to be ok.  Because really.  You think you are going to die.  You have to trust your training.  Drink. Breathe. Repeat.  Fix your eye on a short goal (for me it was the next crack in the sidewalk), then set your sight on the next one.  Your purpose is to just. Cross. The. Finish line.  Even if it means crawling across.  Quitting is not an option (well, I guess it is, but really - who wants to be a quitter?). And you will want to quit many times.  I am so glad that feeling tired or even feeling like quitting did not disqualify me from the race. It didn't even make me weak. Taking a break from the running and slowing to a walk did not mean I was a bad runner - it was absolutely necessary.

 We've heard it so many times, it's a cliché: life is a marathon, not a sprint.  Or as Ann Voskamp says, "Life is not an emergency".  Hurrying takes away from the present.  And the present is where God is. I AM.  Emmanuel - God is with us. Although I have a wonderful life, it is not always going to be easy.  There are going to be challenges.  Isn't that what Jesus told us?  "In this life you will have trouble" (John 16:33).  So when I feel like quitting, I have to remind myself that, "honey, every little thing is going to be okay." (Romans 8:28)

I am so aware that there are many around me who are going through difficult situations.  I can't help but think of the families of the 19 firemen who lost their lives earlier this week.  When the news reminds us daily of just how dark things can be, we have got to cling to what we know - that God is always good and you are always loved.  Do you know this?  I mean, really know it?

So girlfriend, if you're tired - I'm right there with you.  I am not a quitter and neither are you.  Let's remind ourselves that being tired does not mean defeat.  Let's set short goals for ourselves and just do the next thing.  Aren't you glad that feeling tired doesn't disqualify you from the race?  It doesn't even make you weak.  It just means that it's time to slow down.  Drink. Breathe. Repeat.

"...If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink."  (John 7:37)
"I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us."  (Philippians 3:14 (NLT))