Luis Melendez Monday, Jun 15 2009 

I’m visiting my family in Virginia, and on Friday we went to the National Gallery of Art to see an exhibit of still life paintings by Luis Melendez, an 18th-century Spanish artist.  Melendez, who would have preferred to be an official court painter and produce lavish portraits of rulers, was instead asked by a Spanish prince (who later became King Charles IV)  to produce a series of paintings that would reflect “the four Seasons of the Year, or more properly, the four Elements, with the aim of composing an amusing cabinet with every species of food produced by the Spanish climate.”


The paintings were stunning. While a few featured a landscape background that seemed overly-stylized, most of the paintings were arrangements of common food items on nondescript wooden tables — piles of fruit and vegetables, fish and meat, wedges of cheese, small packets of sweets, small honey pots, heavy white pitchers, wine bottles that catch the light. I found it interesting that this man who was frustrated in his career by his inability to achieve the position he desired had produced these paintings that are much more universal, much more satisfying, than lavish court paintings would ever be.

Melendez - Still Life


Small Herb Garden Tuesday, Jun 2 2009 

I love having fresh herbs on hand, so I’ve recently planted some in small pots that sit outside my apartment building. I did this last year with just a few herbs in one pot; this year I’ve increased the number of pots and herbs. I have mint, rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano, cilantro, and parsley. I hope they flourish — I love the convenience of stepping outside to clip fresh herbs to use in a recipe!

Oregano, Thyme & Cilantro

Oregano, Thyme & Cilantro

Flat-leaf Parsley

Flat-leaf Parsley



Rosemary & Basil

Rosemary & Basil

“A Neutral Education?” Friday, May 8 2009 

booksI was perusing The Well-Trained Mind website this morning and stumbled across an article by Susan Wise Bauer on the use and misuse of Christian and secular textbooks/curricula in education. I found the article fascninating and encouraging, as well as an extension of thought/conversations/growth I’ve had over the years in the area of Christian education, classical education, and also the role of the church. If you’re at all familiar with classical education or The Well-Trained Mind book, I think you might enjoy this article!

“A Neutral Education?” by Susan Wise Bauer

Chicken & Feta Tabbouleh Tuesday, May 5 2009 

I found this recipe in the April issue of Cooking Light and made it last Thursday night. It was delicious! There’s a little bit of chopping up front (some of that could be done ahead), but no real cooking is required (you can pre-cook your chicken breasts or use rotisserie chicken). I love the flavors of Middle Eastern food, and this recipe was quite satisfying. I plan on making this recipe several times over the coming summer months. I served it with pita bread and hummus.

Chicken and Feta Tabbouleh

  • 3/4  cup  uncooked bulgur
  • 1  cup  boiling water
  • 2  cups  chopped skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast
  • 1  cup  chopped plum tomato
  • 1  cup  chopped English cucumber
  • 3/4  cup  chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/3  cup  finely chopped green onions
  • 1/4  cup  chopped fresh mint
  • 2  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
  • 1  tablespoon  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1  teaspoon  bottled minced garlic
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper

    Place bulgur in a medium bowl; cover with 1 cup boiling water. Let stand 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Combine chicken and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add bulgur to chicken mixture; toss gently to combine.

    Serves 4.

    Monday, Apr 27 2009 


    I have been noticing in recent weeks the beautiful blooming trees along our street. There are a couple pink dogwoods whose color seemed to peak about seven days ago with a deep brilliant pink, and since then I’ve noticed the color fading day by day. It has reminded me of this poem by Robert Frost:

    Nature’s first green is gold,
    Her hardest hue to hold.

    Her early leaf’s a flower;
    But only so an hour.
    Then leaf subsides to leaf.
    So Eden sank to grief,
    So dawn goes down to day.
    Nothing gold can stay.

    Sunday Hymn Sunday, Mar 15 2009 


    Depth of mercy! Can there be

    Mercy reaching even me?

    God the Just His wrath forbears,

    Me, the chief of sinners, spares.

    So many times my heart has strayed

    From His kind and perfect ways,

    Making clear my desperate need

    For His blood poured out for me.

    Give me grace, Lord, let me own

    All the wrongs that I have done;

    Let me now my sins deplore,

    Look to you, and sin no more.

    There for me the Savior stands

    Holding forth His wounded hands,

    Scars which ever cry for me,

    Once condemned, but now set free.


    (text by Charles Wesley, adapted by Bob Kauflin)

    “The Drinking of Tea” Wednesday, Feb 18 2009 


    “In the kitchen at the back of the house there was a packet of green beans that needed to be washed and chopped. There was a pumpkin that was not going to cook itself. There were onions to be put in a pan of boiling water and cooked until soft. That was part of being a woman, she thought; one never reached the end. Even if one could sit down and drink a cup of bush tea, or even two cups, one always knew that at the end of the tea somebody was waiting for something. Children or men were waiting to be fed; a dirty floor cried out to be washed; a crumpled shirt called for the iron. And so it would continue. Tea was just a temporary solution to the cares of the world, although it certainly helped. . . . Most problems could be diminished by the drinking of tea and the thinking through of things that could be done while tea was being drunk. And even if that did not solve problems, at least it could put them off for a little while, which we sometimes needed to do, we really did.”

    ~ Mma. Precious Ramotswe (Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith)

    Winter Storm ’09 Sunday, Feb 1 2009 

    Kentucky experienced a harsh winter storm this past week. Thankfully, we never lost our power as so many others did. I had 4 days off school, and Jeff had no classes and a reduced work schedule — it felt like a mini winter vacation!

    Here are some photos I took on a walk — thanks to Dustin for snapping the picture of us! Check out Dustin’s website for some more artistic photos of Frankfort Avenue covered in snow!


    The view from our porch

    The view from our porch

    Another view from our porch

    Another view from our porch

    Crescent Avenue

    Crescent Avenue

    A beautiful home near our apartment complex

    A beautiful home near our apartment complex

    St. Mark's

    Stone cross at St. Mark's, Frankfort Avenue

    Snickerdoodles Sunday, Feb 1 2009 

    ms-cookiesI recently purchased Martha Stewart’s Cookies, a cookbook devoted entirely to cookies. I have made only a few of the recipes so far, but the easiest and most delicious has been the recipe for snickerdoodles.

    I don’t know that I would have listed snickerdoodles as a favorite cookie before trying this recipe, but I would now. These cookies have consistently turned out fabulously. I also like that the ingredients are normal, everyday ingredients that you most likely have in your pantry.


    • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 tbsp. sugar and 2 tsp. ground cinnamon

    Preheat oven to 350 F. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. In another bowl, mix butter and sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Mix in eggs. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture.

    Stir together 2 tbsp. sugar and 2 tsp. cinnamon in a small bowl. Shape dough into balls (I use a cookie scoop). Roll in cinnamon-sugar. Space 3 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

    Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are golden, 12-15 minutes. Let cool on wire racks.

    Notes: The recipe says it makes about 20 cookies, but those must be some big cookies! I usually get about 3 dozen; also, the parchment paper is key — I forgot it once and the cookies were jagged on the bottom. They turn out much better with parchment paper, and clean-up is easy!

    Sharpie Pens Saturday, Jan 17 2009 

    I was excited to learn that Sharpie now makes pens! I found some when I was home in Virginia over Christmas, and I bought the blue ones; only blue and black (2-packs) were available at the store, though there are other colors available. I would like to see Sharpie extend the color selection to the number of colors they offer for the markers. I haven’t yet seen a pack like the one in the photo — I’ll be on the lookout! These pens remind me of the Micron pens that I love, though these are less expensive.

    Sharpie Pens website


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