Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Coffee! (One More Post Before Weekend Company Comes). . .

If you followed my old blog, you know how much I love my French pressed coffee. I don’t always have beans around to brew nowadays, but when I do, you can bet I’m still making myself a cup of morning coffee!

This is by far the most elegant presentation of how to make a pot of coffee in a French press I have ever seen.  It’s beautiful. It’s art.

Click here. Then scroll down and watch the video (but read the post, too). Really. Do it. Even if you don’t like coffee, you might appreciate this.

Notice the “bloom” when he pours in the initial bit of water and then the coffee-water expands so nicely? That impressive amount of bloom means the beans are extremely fresh, and really fresh beans mean really delicious coffee. I get this nearly this kind of bloom when I buy my favorite Stumptown Roasters coffee beans.

This video makes me want to turn on some happy Bach, shine my kitchen, gracefully brew a pot of coffee in my own French press, pour it into two beautiful mugs, then walk off to fetch the one who will be drinking it with me.

Check out the whole blog where this was initially posted. It is lovely kitchen blog, and the recipes are good.

Sick Duty, Letter-Writing, Perfectionism, a Book, and a Link. . .

Well, here I am, spending another day at my sister’s house in case my very sweet, mono-afflicted niece needs anything while her father is at meetings. I don’t mind at all. It’s the least I can do for this wonderful family who has done so much for me.

I should be cleaning my house and filling the fridge with food for weekend company (they’ll start coming in tomorrow!), but I am here, reading a stack of old issues of The Chronicle of Higher Education (that both interest and alarm me) and visiting with my nephew, who, though he is at home and is a capable honors college student, cannot be trusted to look after his sister (just kidding, I think).

I spent the morning paying bills and writing a few handwritten notes (if I owe you one, don’t jump eagerly up and down thinking there will soon—and finally!—be a note from me in the mail, but eventually, eventually, eventually, I hope to have caught up with my correspondence). I am not replying in the order that I received the letters because that would be far too organized a method for me. No, I am simply snatching a note from my correspondence box and writing to whoever wrote it to me, but when someone comes to mind and I think of something I want to say to them, that thought will prompt the writing of a note and will trump the former, random, selection process.

Notice I’m saying “notes” instead of letters. That’s because there is something about me that hinders my ability to actually, and routinely, write letters (those lovely, long, lyrical, thoughtful, handwritten missives that arrive in the mailbox). My letter-writing roadblock: perfectionism. Or maybe overkill. I have discovered, in going back to college (but I should have known this before) that I don’t like to merely get by. It’s even difficult to accept “good enough,” though I’m making progress with this because sometimes one needs to say finito even when something doesn’t feel finito.

That’s just one reason blogging is a good thing for me. Almost every post I put up does not feel close to ready to publish. Some of them are typed in one flash-fingered go, and there is no time to edit before posting. So, why bother to put it up? Honestly, because it’s good for me. Every time I do it, I conquer a bit more of my perfectionism. And I become a bit braver. For much of my life, I was hindered by fear of vulnerability, so I made a decision in recent years, to battle it head on.

When I kept my first blog, it was really hard for me to post, but I kept doing it, and it got easier. Last spring, I auditioned to write devotional pieces for a book meant to encourage young mothers. I was accepted, but I almost rejected the acceptance because I was so afraid of sticking my neck out and putting my writing on the line (can’t I just stay in my cosy, hidden, little world?). I forced myself to go on with it, and every time I sent a submission to the editor, I literally cringed and shrieked aloud when I hit send.

While writing the devotional pieces, I was still dealing with a lot of emotional and mental “stuff.” Plus, I was taking college summer courses at the same time, and anyone who has taken a load of college courses during summer term knows how very intense it is (a normally three-month term is condensed into one month, yet requiring the same amount of work as a three-month term). Truly, I did not think that most of my submissions for the book reflected me well or carried the same spirit that would normally be in my writing, but off they went anyway.

And, in spite of the shrieking, do you know how I thought about it then (and still do)? God gave me that job, and I needed the money. It was wonderful provision. If there’s anything that’s on my heart to do, it’s to encourage mothers, and here I was with a chance to do it. I gave it my honest best try, and if the writing didn’t sing (at all) the way I would have wanted it to, well that’s neither here nor there because it is God who can make something out of nothing and can miraculously use anything for His glory and His purpose. I gave the writing to Him, and I left it with Him.

I am thankful to say that the book has been warmly received by readers as highly encouraging. The contributors to the book did a truly lovely job with their submissions, and the editor (also a contributor) is wonderful and has a terrific heart for mothers. When my three (or was it two?) complimentary copies came in the mail, my niece snatched one of them up and couldn’t put it down. I sent off a copy to my Aimee, a brand new mother, and she wanted to read it all at once, too. She loves it, she says.

I'm sure some of you will wonder, so here’s a link to the book. I really do highly recommend it as a gift for new mothers:

I learned so much by struggling through this project. My perfectionism shrank considerably, and my courage grew. I suddenly cared less than ever about what other people think and took joy in caring what the Lord thinks (and His thoughts toward me are nothing but good and loving—yay!). And I continue to take steps to overcome a tendency toward overkill or perfectionism because, you know what? It has its roots in pride, and that is ugly.

So, if you get a letter from me, it will not be the tome I would like to craft, but it is written with love and warm thoughts toward you.


You know, this post really just came out of the blue. I came online to say literally a line or two and then to pass on a link. I receive blog notices from Peter Gray, psychologist and educational researcher, because he is an unschooling advocate. In today’s post, he discusses a new book titled Wounded by School that sounds really intriguing (I certainly intend to read it). Here's the blog post: