February 4, 2017

Coffee Cantata

Posted in Coffee, Favorite Quotes, Just Life, Recipes, Trader Joe's tagged , at 8:11 am by catsinboxes

There are some things I cannot imagine life without.  Faith.  Family.  Books.  Coffee.

Life without coffee?  Inconceivable!

Often at Trader Joe’s I spot someone standing uncertainly in front of our coffee shelves.  It’s my queue, “Can I help you?”  Coffee matchmaking —oh, the joy!

My go-to recommendation is our Bolivian Blend ($7.99, Organic, Fair Trade).  Medium-Dark with wonderful nutty undertones.
Like a darker roast?  Take Cafe Pajaro (also $7.99, Organic & Fair Trade).  This is one of our extra dark roasts, and it is deliciously dark and bold.  —Cafe Pajaro is a new favorite of mine.  I’m a dark roast girl to start with, but the real reason I bought this, was *cough* the name/canister.  Who doesn’t want a coffee canister with a parrot on it?
Off-the-wall recommendation?  We carry a New Mexican Pinon ($6.99) that is a popular favorite.  Medium, already ground, and nutty —due to added pine nuts—, it is well worth trying.  One purist note though, since it’s not a TJs name brand, it does contain artificial flavoring . . . . I know, I know, you’re running screaming for the hills.

I could keep going with coffee recommendations, but I will save that for a later post.  If you have a question, feel free to comment.  Tell me what kind of coffee you like, and I’d be happy to recommend a blend.

Much, much more could be written on coffee.  Take the history of coffee, as it gained popularity in London among literary circles.  I’ve always found it a note of American pride that we gave up tea for coffee during the American Revolution.  Remarkably good taste, wot?

And then there’s iced coffee.  I can drink it all year.  I’m drinking it now.  Yes, I know it’s wintertime, your point?

The thing about iced coffee is that it is SO easy.  And yummy.  I follow Pioneer Woman’s recipe.  It takes a little advance planning —I usually make a big batch at night and then have a supply for days.  My current supply was made with Cafe Bustelo —which is very inexpensive.  The end product is quite good.  But, I think it’s even better with Trader Joe’s pre-ground Dark Roast or French Roast.

Someone (purportedly Oscar Wilde, but a quick internet search doesn’t confirm that) said,

“With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?”

Who indeed.  Go enjoy some coffee!

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March 11, 2015

Four Years Later

Posted in Blogging, Faith, Favorite Quotes, Japan, Just Life tagged , , at 9:13 pm by catsinboxes

There are some dates you will never forget.  Today is one of those dates.

*Originally published on March 11, 2011, at the LEX Language Project blog:

It started with a faint rumbling. I could feel the floor vibrating under my feet. Around the office, people stopped work; there were exclamations, and then everything really started shaking. Within a few moments, I was sitting under my desk and listening to the sound of cabinets and everything else in the office being shaken by the earthquake.

This was my first earthquake in Japan. I knew Japan had earthquakes, so I was a bit surprised when my supervisor told me I should let my mom know I was okay. Wasn’t this a normal earthquake?

In the hours since then, and one powerful aftershock later, I have come to understand that this was much more than a standard earthquake. In fact, this was the largest recorded earthquake in the history of Japan . . .

I was in Tokyo when it happened.  It doesn’t seem like four years ago.  In many ways, it feels like only a short time ago.

Then, and in the following days, God was faithful.  Just thinking back brings a rush of memories.  Listening to Praise You in the Storm and not getting it, on my way to work that morning.  Listening to it the next day, and understanding.

Reading Isaiah.  Remembering Isaiah 41:10.  Remembering God’s promises, and though I was scared, not being afraid.

Singing You Raise Me Up in Japanese with believers that following Sunday, joining hands and praying.  The power in that calm moment.  “Do not be afraid; I am with you.  Be not dismayed . . . I am your God.”

Four years later, and all these memories can slip, but they come rushing back.  They come on March 11.  They come at other times.  So please, take a moment, and do not forget.  Remember Japan.  And say a prayer because, 4 years later, many people are remembering this day.

March 5, 2015

Whatever the Weather . . .

Posted in Favorite Quotes, Just Life, Poetry tagged , , at 12:38 pm by catsinboxes

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Whether the weather be fine

Or whether the weather be not,

Whether the weather be cold

Or whether the weather be hot,

We’ll weather the weather,

Whatever the weather,

Whether we like it or not.

—Anonymous

February 19, 2015

Snowbound with Station Eleven and Jane Austen

Posted in Book Reviews, Books, Dystopia, England, Favorite Quotes, Jane Austen, Movie Reviews tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:53 pm by catsinboxes

It snowed this week, quite impressively for Louisville, blanketing the city and wreaking havoc on roads, schools, and schedules.

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;

I didn’t complain when my quiet weekend was extended by one day. (Though I did frown at my nearly-empty carton of eggs.)

As the snow fell outside, I made hot tea and settled down to read Station Eleven. (While the library has over a hundred people on the waiting list for this National Book Award Finalist, I lucked out and was lent a copy by a fellow reader.) Another book-loving friend had described Station Eleven as an absorbing page-turner, and it was a fun.

Resembling Dickens in its cast of characters and twisting story lines, Station Eleven darts back and forth, weaving the tale of a group of people across a number of years who are bound together by one man. Just after the book begins a pandemic sweeps across the world. It was almost eerie, reading about civilization crumbling in Station Eleven‘s world while —outside— the city ground to a halt, immobilized by snow.

I wouldn’t recommend Station Eleven unreservedly, but it is definitely an engaging book.

Another highlight of my quiet week was watching the 1995 BBC version of Persuasion with a fellow British drama lover. I. Love. That. Story.

Persuasion falls into my top three Jane Austen novels. It was my last to discover. . . . I was an early teen at the library and, locating Jane Austen in the fiction section, realized that here was one story of hers that I had not read. That was soon remedied!

Anne Elliot, the last heroine completed by Jane Austen, has depth. (And Amanda Root does a lovely job of displaying this in the movie!)

The movie is a wonderful adaption —my favorite for Persuasion. The casting is great and though I didn’t catch it last time, Harry Potter lovers, did you realize AUNT PETUNIA is Mrs. Croft?! It’s so funny to see her as a good character for a change, and actress Fiona Shaw does a lovely job.

I love the Crofts in both the movie and the book, and I’ve never forgotten Anne’s observations regarding the Crofts as they are out driving in their carriage. Mrs. Croft exclaims:

My dear Admiral, that post! we shall certainly take that post.”

But by coolly giving the reins a better direction herself they happily passed the danger; and by once afterwards judiciously putting out her hand they neither fell into a rut, nor ran foul of a dung-cart; and Anne, with some amusement at their style of driving, which she imagined no bad representation of the general guidance of their affairs, found herself safely deposited by them at the Cottage.

So, that’s part of what I enjoyed during this snowy week. How about you? Please do leave a comment; I love people chiming in!

August 7, 2014

Beginning Again

Posted in Blogging, Books, Favorite Quotes, Just Life tagged , , at 8:38 pm by catsinboxes

It has been a long summer. There has been so much to write about . . . I have started to compose blog posts in my head. Then I have stopped.

What is the point? I love to write, but I have been busy, and working. But there is another reason I have not been writing, the reason for my last post:

Granddaddy. I miss him. Memories come back and catch me, sometimes unexpected.

Making coffee in the French press yesterday, I suddenly remembered his detailed instructions last year, when I was visiting. He showed me how to use a French press, explaining carefully just how to manipulate the plunger.

So I smile, and catch my breath, and blink before I can cry, but it hurts. And then, with that memory, comes another.

That is the funny thing about memories, how they flow together. For some reason, I keep thinking of a time, probably over a decade ago, when he visited Wisconsin. We went for a walk in our woods, just the two of us.

Fall

The path was rough, it was a new path then –not the beaten old path it is today. I think it was fall because the woods were bare, but the weather was perfect for a walk. As he walked along, he gave me a lecture about the correct use of words. He told me how many words today are not used properly, like effect versus affect. He told me about the sometimes comical misuse of some words in advertising. (Illustrating this with a story about a restaurant though I cannot remember which word was misused!)

P1080293And then, just as quickly, comes one, final memory. Why? I do not know, but I am so thankful. My grandfather was a soldier. He was gruff, yet he loved us so much, and he did not mind showing affection. He would give me hugs, and I remember them, brisk and slightly awkward, and then I –being female and affectionate– would finish by kissing his cheek -rather dry and slightly rough. And I remember the kiss.

Why? I don’t know. But I am so thankful that I have that memory.

What does all of this have to do with blogging? Because in the past couple years, I was so busy, and I blogged for him. He was so darn proud of this blog. He would remind me that people read it, so it was important I updated it. He was proud of all I have done as a writer, and he liked to see my writing. And so I would write, and I would write for him. Because I knew, in the faceless blogosphere, that hardly anyone would see my work . . . except that one person. I had one faithful reader, and that was reason enough to write.

I know other friends read this blog, and I am so thankful for you. But I know your lives are busy, I know you do not have time to catch every post. But he did. And he cared. And so I would write. Or I would intend to write. Sometimes a post became an email, sent off to him.

And now he is gone. And why should I write? Oh yes, I write for other things. I write letters, and I love writing for Redeemed Reader, but this blog is different.

Yet, as the summer concludes, and as fall stares me in the face with a daunting schedule, I need to write. And I need to write here. It is time to begin again. I pray I will be more consistent, especially now that I do not have a loyal reader (who never really understood blogging!) there to remind me, mournfully, that I have not posted for months.

In Out of the Silent Planet, there’s a beautiful line that I have been thinking about this summer:

And how could we endure to live and let time pass if we were always crying for one day or one year to come back -if we did not know that every day in a life fills the whole life with expectation and memory and that these are that day?

There is a place for sadness, that is why I cried as I wrote this post, but there is today and tomorrow and the beauty and glory of everyday grace . . . and how can I help but write?

May 21, 2014

Wordsworth Wednesday

Posted in Bible, Creative Writing, Faith, Favorite Quotes, Just Life, Poetry tagged , , , , at 7:31 am by catsinboxes

No, this has nothing to do with Wordsworth except that it has something to do with poetry.  Also, in light of the popularity of Wordless Wednesday, and since in the English language there is not a day of the week to lend alliteration to poetry, I will get creative.  I am not very familiar with Wordsworth, and though I would like to better my acquaintance, I will not quote him at the moment.  Instead, I will share my own poem.

Today, I read D.A. Carson’s commentary on Hebrews 7.  In closing, he urges his readers to meditate upon verses 23-25.

The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.  Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him , since he always lives to make intercession for them.

I love those words.

Sunset on Superior

Praise His name, the Son of David,

Praise His name, the reigning King.

Praise His name, He saves the broken,

Praise His name, He intercedes.

Praise His name, He reigns forever,

Praise His name, He saves the lost.

Praise His name, He is returning,

He vanquished death upon the cross.

December 5, 2013

A Book Lover’s Christmas Gift

Posted in Book Reviews, Books, Favorite Quotes, WWII tagged , , , , , at 6:49 pm by catsinboxes

Looking for a good Christmas gift for a history, aviation, and/or WWII lover?  Look no farther, for I have a perfect suggestion!

A Higher Call: The Incredible Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World   War II, by Adam Makos with Larry Alexander, 2012, 371 pages

This has made the New York Times bestseller list for good reason.  On December 20, 1943, a  remarkable incident occurred in the skies over Oldenburg, Germany.  It was an event that would not be told to the public until decades after the war.

A Higher Call traces the lives of the two men who ultimately would encounter each other that day.  The book is highly readable and incredibly interesting.    Unlike many books, it focuses more on the German side of the war.  Through the eyes of Franz Stigler, readers will learn about Germany’s elite class of fighter pilots.  The perspective is fascinating and well-researched.  It is also a poignant reminder of a nation’s folly:

“When Franz looked at Mellman [young pilot], he knew he was looking at Germany’s great tragedy –a generation of innocents too young to have seen the rise of Hitler or The Party who now were forced to pay for their leaders’ sins.”

June 10, 2013

Mention it Monday, Mississippi Version

Posted in Book Reviews, Books, Fantasy, Favorite Quotes, Fiction, Freebies, Just Life, Theology/Christian life, Travel at 10:10 am by catsinboxes

Greetings from Mississippi!

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Though to be more accurate, it looks a bit more like this today:

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I woke up this morning to thunder rumbling and pretty soon a torrential downpour was ensuring that 1) I didn’t take the dog out for a walk and 2) Bible time on the porch was out of the question!

I must admit that I had hoped to do more blogging on this vacation, but that is not how it worked out, and that’s okay. Still, no reason I can’t do some before I head home. So, here’s another Mention-it Monday!

Red to Black -by Alex Dryen

After reading World Magazine’s review of Dryden’s latest novel, I checked out all three of his books to date and started reading the first. I’m not usually one to read thrillers; Joel Rosenburg’s Last Jihad and Last Days are the extent of my reading in this genre! Still, having just travelled to Eastern Europe, I was intrigued by the Russian side of this novel. So, I started to read. And I really enjoyed it. It’s definitely a thriller, but it’s also a fascinating look at modern Russia that is written by an author who knows his facts. The book is told in a series of flashbacks which I normally find annoying, but this time it absolutely worked! The story was engaging and kept me interested and reading. The main storyteller, Anna, –a Russian KGB agent caught up in an intricate plot involving a British spy– is interesting and well-developed. What’s more, she is likable, and you definitely find yourself pulling for her! There is occasional language, but I appreciated the fact that it was used sparingly and wasn’t gratuitous. There are also some sexual references: the KGB is happy to use Anna’s sexuality in getting what they want, but nothing was explicit. All in all, it was quite a fun book, and I look forward to reading more by Alex Dryden.

Merlin’s Blade -by Robert Treskillard

I won’t say much here because this book deserves a whole review and post in itself. In fact, I probably will be reviewing it for Redeemed Reader this summer. I started this book on the plane, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Arthurian aficionados, you should read this! Right now it’s only $2.99, Kindle version, on Amazon. What’s it about? I love how the cover puts it:

Before the Round Table . . . Before Arthur was Crowned . . . There was Merlin.

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The Explicit Gospel -by Matt Chandler with Jared Wilson

This is my theological vacation read, and so far, I haven’t made much progress though I have enjoyed everything that I’ve read.  Having heard Matt Chandler speak, I appreciate that his unique voice is very clear in this book.  Chandler is passionate about the gospel; that is very evident.  From a mere evangelistic point, I love the title of this book.  It’s eye-catching: a good book to read at the airport!  (If you’re like me, you do your best, via casual glances, to figure out what your fellow passengers are reading . . . This title is provocative enough to get more than one glance.  They’re reading the explicit what???)  As it happens, The Explicit Gospel is Christian Audio’s free audiobook of the month, so I might be finishing it via audiobook.  If you’re looking for a theological read or audiobook this summer, I’d highly recommend this.  (And you can get the audiobook for free this month, remember!)  In closing, here is a quote from The Explicit Gospel that I quite enjoyed and is very applicable to this post:

How deep is the wisdom and the knowledge of God?  God knows every word in every language in every sentence in every paragraph in every chapter of every book ever written.

May 21, 2013

This is so true!

Posted in Books, Favorite Quotes at 9:08 pm by catsinboxes

May 19, 2013

A Full Week and a Fight

Posted in Blogging, Faith, Favorite Quotes, Just Life tagged , , at 9:28 pm by catsinboxes

Today marks what I do believe is a first on this blog: since last Sunday, I have blogged every day.  For me, that’s a milestone!

The past week has been good, definitely full and busy.  All along, I’ve been planning ahead, and I knew what I wanted to write about on Sunday.  I wanted to blog about a fight.  Not a physical fight yet one that is occurring continually all around us.  I love how God makes everything work together, so I can’t say I was surprised when I sat down in church today to see that our sermon’s title was: “War Time Mentality.”

Wonder what that means?  Here’s a great quote from John Piper that Pastor Greg used to begin his message:

Thousands of Christians do not hear the diabolic bombs dropping and the bullets singing overhead. They don’t smell the hellish Agent Orange in the whitened harvest of the world. They don’t cringe or weep at the millions who perish every week. They don’t reckon with spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places and the world rulers of this present darkness. “In fact, it is not dark,” they say. “It is bright and comfortable and cheery. Just look at my home and car and office and cabin and boat, and listen to my new disc player.”

As Christians we should be aware that there is a battle raging at this moment, and, in the words of J.C. Ryle, “If we would be holy, we must fight. . . . True Christianity is a fight.”  J.C. Ryle goes on to clarify what he means by “true Christianity” in a passage I found very convicting to the state of Christianity in modern America:

There are thousands of men and women who go to churches and chapels every Sunday, and call themselves Christians. . . . They are reckoned Christians while they live.  They are married with a Christian marriage service.  They mean to be buried as Christians when they die.  But you never see any “fight” about their religion!  Of spiritual strife , and exertion, and conflict, and self-denial, and watching, and warring, they know literally nothing at all.  Such Christianity may satisfy man, and those who say anything against it may be thought very hard and uncharitable; but it is certainly not the Christianity of the Bible.  It is not the religion which the Lord Jesus founded, and his apostles preached.  It is not the religion which produces real holiness.  True Christianity is a fight.

This begs the question: fighting what?  Each other?  Bickering over theological thimbles and splitting hairs over secondary or tertiary doctrines?  No!

The principal fight of the Christian is with the world, the flesh, and the devil.

We have to realize that the moment we become Christians, we have an enemy who is doing his best to take us out, and the best thing we can do for him is to be complacent and unaware of our own danger.

Is being a Christian easy?  No, it is not!  There is a fight, and there are times when we are wounded and brought low, times when we are besieged by doubts and paralyzed by worry.  At times like these, it can be so hard.  You can ask, “What am I doing wrong?  Why is everything bad happening that possibly can?”

There can be times when that question is helpful.  But another helpful question is to ask the opposite, “What am I doing right?”  Because if you’re stepping out in faith, if you are striving to grow closer to God, if you are trying to weed that particular sin out of your life, then you are a target for the opposition.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  (Ephesians 6:12)

It’s a terrifying array of forces, all with more power than most of us can comprehend.  –Our sermon was on Daniel 10 today, in which a demon, ‘The Prince of Persia,’ manages to keep an angel from ministering to Daniel for 3 weeks.  If these forces can take on an angel, what about me??–

It is daunting, but at the same time, I am really encouraged by the fact that, when we –Christians– feel an “inward fight and struggle . . . It is the invariable companion of genuine Christian holiness.” (Ryle)  Often, when life just seems to keep throwing us curveballs, I’ll look at Mom and say, “Well, I guess we’re doing something right!”

Because this fight isn’t one we should be afraid of entering; no, it is a fight that has ultimately already been won.  We’re battling a foe who was already defeated at the cross.  Not only that, but we have weapons (Ephesians 6) that are not of our own craftsmanship, but made by the King.

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ . . .

Another Sunday is past, another week is beginning.  Fellow Christians, let us not be complacent to the fight that is waging at this moment.  The stakes are eternal, and victory is certain.

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Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.  -I Corinthians 15:58

*All J.C. Ryle quotes taken from Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Root

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