23 December 2010

No Tape, Oh My!

A Tiny Glimpse of Here:

Today is one of my top-ten-of-all-time-people's birthday. He is the only godfather to my only daughter. I would like to call his parents and confirm whether they purposely got pregnant toward the end of march in 1983 - you know, so I can rightfully chew them out. Not for his sake, but for mine. I am not able to adequately celebrate his birthday. Ever. Because it is two days before Christmas. Every year. It never changes. I feel like I'm in the movie Groundhog Day.

I remembered it was his birthday today around 3, as I'm wont to do. We ordered pizza for him and ate and toasted with our spoons full of (store bought by another dear friend) strawberry cake.

And now we have finished that great strawberry cake eating fest, and shall move on into work land.

Work Land?

Yes, 35 hours from now my children will wake up on Christmas morn.

I have approximately 40 presents left to wrap, though I get to set a few aside to wrap the day after Christmas for friends with whom we're not yet celebrating.

Christmas Cards got here late last night. I have not addressed a one, though my dear sweet friend who was here tonight for (pitiful) birthday pizza supper did sponge shut all of the envelopes, relieving me of the guilt of not putting personal messages on there.

I have to make, before 35 hours from now: A chocolate mint cheese cake. A pork tenderloin. Cheesy Risotto. Cranberry Coffee Cake. Cornbread Dressing. Shrimp and Potato Soup. Spicy Shrimp Dip. Potato Skins. Spinach Salad. And I'm probably leaving out something.

This list does include items from four separate meals - Christmas Eve Supper, Christmas Day Breakfast, Lunch and Supper. And I'm very excited to cook - it's my favorite thing, if you didn't know. But there aren't enough hours I tell you.

Off to wrap. Thank the Lord for tape. What did they do before Scotch Tape? Huh? What? How did they wrap things? 'Cause they did. Read Laura Ingalls. But there wasn't any tape.

Lions and Tigers and Bears and No Tape, Oh My.

22 December 2010

Bucket O' Toy Soldiers

Today, and for the past three weeks, I've been swarming around like an entire hive of bees. I'm physically exhausted (at least that's what people keep telling me I look like.... p.s.: don't do that, people), but emotionally just on top of the world.

I love this work. This preparatory, celebratory work! I just love it. There are christmas cards (mine are late) to be addressed, photos taken, menus planned, presents planned, purchased, hidden, wrapped. There are sweet and spicy pickles to be made, packaged and delivered to our friends and neighbors.

We had Christmas Numero Uno here yesterday with Paul's folks. We feasted on braised ribs (same piece of meat I wrote about recently, but cooked in an entirely different way - remind me - I'll update on country style ribs soon) and a variety of other things. We opened gifts, oohed and aahed, and enjoyed our (finally decorated - pretty much by Paul) tree.

Paul and I stayed up late last night 'wrapping' and by wrapping I mean more like nodding off in between pieces of gift wrap tape and trying not to cuss because once again someone is sitting on the scissors and doesn't know it. I think about 15% of my presents have been wrapped. We normally don't do a lot of little things for the kids, but this year, my mother took me to wal mart - I had no idea all these toy options exist, and many of them are very inexpensive - So, I stocked up on 3 dollar items, which I regret every time I pull another piece of wrapping paper off the roll. But I doubt I'll regret when the little people are beaming in three days.

But they shall be in heaven. And that is the point, right?

Why do we do all of this?

Ooh - evil consumerism - ooh - 3 dollar, plastic walmart toys - gross!

Not Gross! Well, sometimes gross, but at Christmas, it all gets a pass. Why? Why?

Well, my children had a sweet fight the other day. Oxymoron? No, it was one of the sweetest, cutest fights ever. I heard them arguing in their room - heard the tones escalating - no tears, just raised voices. I try not to intervene unless requested - or unless it gets out of control. We're trying to train them to resolve conflict between themselves. Plus, if I try to resolve the minor conflicts, my energy for the major ones - the ones that desperately need adult intervention - will be zapped by 9 am.

Anyway - so I hear the little voices - "Nuh uh" "Uh uh", etc.

And out stomps Eason.

This happens a lot. He's smaller. He is also the younger brother to the most confident (intellectually - certainly not physically or emtionally) child ever (I mean - even when she's as wrong as Pope UrbanVIII in that whole Galileo debacle - she's still confident she's right. She gets it from me. And from Paul. And we try and try and try to work on it in ourselves and in her. Two steps forward and One step back - but that's still progress, right?

So, here comes stomping Eason.

"Is Christmas about giving or about Jesus's birf? I know it's about giving, but Ada keeps saying it's about Jesus's birf, and I know she's wrong."

(We could have stopped to talk about mutual exclusivity vs compatibility of ideas, but his little sweet blue eyes would have glazed over. Trust me, I've seen it.)

But, I do hope you see the beauty of the question. Or perhaps I invented the beauty of the question to avoid dealing with the fact that my children were, for the seventh time that day, having a raised-voice debate.

Calm. Kind. Quiet. That's our motto. It's not working... =)

So, I rounded them up. All three. You never know what the little 18 month old internalizes. And I explained to them that they were both right. Which actually seemed to thrill their little souls. Christmas is about giving. Why? Why do we give?

We give because God gives. We love because God loves. We breathe because God breathes. Believe it, my friend.

But at Christmas, especially, we give for the very purpose of celebrating and pointing to the gift of Christ's incarnation. We lavish grace, in 3-dollar-plastic, onto our children, because God lavishes grace upon us.

Paul, Ada's godfather Dan, and my daddy have been working continuously for the last week- building the world's greatest tree house ever 10 feet in the air. And then modifying the safety railing when I said, "hey - is eason going to be able to squeeze through those holes?" and adding a trap door and all sorts of other awesome fings.

Paul's outside right now sanding down the presents that Ada Brooks really wanted to make for her friends. I'll take pictures later.

Ada Brooks is fretting because she doesn't have a gift for her father because the book she wanted to get him is out of stock on Amazon. (Never ye mind that she also has no money....perhaps I'll help her out with that).

Eason is, well, completely worried about whether he has to wear pants or can go to Sams in his panda underwear because, "Mama - it's new underwear!"
So, maybe he doesn't get it.

But he will. He'll get it. If it takes an entire Bucket O' Toy Soldiers, a pretend bow and arrow, a fireman hat, an army man hat, three different types of bouncy balls, a wind-up silly-face, and roller skates (shhh...those are what he really, really wants - roller skates!). He'll get it, eventually. We'll pray over the absurdity of it all, and he'll understand that what's truly Absurd is God choosing to become man to save the world.

13 December 2010


I'm not a big meat-eater. We've gone through a few entirely vegetarian phases at our house, though I don't think we'll ever go back to that extreme. I've come to really appreciate meat as a feast-maker. I grew up always eating pastas and occasionally a big pan of lasagna or enchiladas for feasts. And they are still some of my favorite things. But, while bean burritos, and various meatless soup, and some meatless pastas fill in our everyday meals, some piece of meat has begun to be central to feasting.

And when do we feast? Well, I'm always looking for an excuse (birthdays, friends from out of town, anniversaries, a 4.0 semester, a new job), but... always on Sundays. It's the sabbath day. A day set apart by God for us. Man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath for Man.

And especially on Sundays during Advent.

The First Sunday during Advent we had Beef Wellington. The Second Sunday, we had buttery, white bread with American cheese grilled cheeses and Shrimp and Potato Porridge. So, yeah, no meat. But, to hear the folks at my table, you'd have thought Advent was over and they had died and gone to heaven.
The Third Sunday, so yesterday, we went back to the meat theme. Meat meat meat! Because it's a feast feast feast.

When I first got married and started cooking a lot, I would hear accomplished family cooks say, "I just go to the grocery store, buy whats on sale, and cook that." I thought they were INSANE. It made me twitch to think about it.


If I could upload a picture of a twitch, I might upload two.

And on Friday, I went to the grocery store, there was a package of MEAT big time on sale - Manager's Special they call them - and so I just bought it. Having no idea what I would do to it. But I bought it anyway.

Country Style Ribs. This is not something you would expect to find me cooking. My cooking is not usually as light and airy as some of the current food fads - I like a good pile of very traditional mashed potatoes, or a very thick, vegetable heavy spaghetti sauce. But, at the same time, I haven't traditionally gone for greasy, dark meat, dripping in sauce yumminess.

I'm not opposed. I just was illprepared so to do. My mother wouldn't make country style ribs if you paid her. A lot of money. She didn't make pot roast, roasted chickens, or bearnaise sauce. We Eason women don't fry things. Like I said, we ate a lot of pasta. And some bean burritos.

I very much wish I had taken a picture of our plates last night. I'm not a big presentation girl - If it tastes good, that's the most important thing. But the plates were pretty. Braised Country Style BBQ Ribs, Crisp Roasted Asparagus, Baked Sweet Taters, Crunchy french bread.

What is braising? It is cooking for a while, usually on lower heat, in liquid. Usually a bigger, tougher piece of meat. It helps the meat get to that fall apart tender stage. I love it. Love, love it. It is different from roasting only in that you use a lot of liquid.

So, to the ribs:

I kind of made this up after reading about 20 recipes on the internet. Most had a BBQ element, some had orange. I always like rosemary with meat, especially paired with orange, everything benefits from a sprinkling of cayenne, etc.


3-4 lbs of country style ribs (You'll want 1 rib per person, and each rib will be 8-12 ounces, so at least half a pound per person, but perhaps a bit more)

Heavily salt and pepper all sides of ribs. In an ovenproof dutch oven, heat some olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Throw half of the ribs in there. Brown on each side about 2 minutes. Remove. Rinse. Repeat. (throw the other three ribs in there and brown on each side about 2 minutes...)
Add the first ribs back to the pan.

(If you don't have an oven proof dutch oven, you can brown and braise in separate containers. Brown in some kind of heavy bottomed pot, braise in a 9x13, covered in foil or somethin')

In a bowl, whisk together well:

1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce, or make up 16 ounces or so of your own. (last night I used Corky's BBQ sauce)
1 1/2 cups of orange juice
1 Tablespoon or a little bit more of Worcestershire
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsps dried rosemary
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)

Once it's thoroughly whisked, pour it over the ribs. Cover the ribs. Pop them in a 350 degree oven for 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 hours. If you are going for the longer range of time (which will make your meat more tender), pull them out at half way through and rearrange them a bit. The ribs on the top will not have as much sauce on them. And you want sauce.

Pull them out of the oven. Let them rest for 15 minutes or so.

Put them on a plate, spoon a bit of sauce over them, pour rest of the sauce in a bowl and put it out for serving.

Our plates were pretty, like I said, but even more than that, the flavors were good together. Sweet taters, 'sparagus, bread, ribs.

If you are not an omnivore, well, that's okay (and I do sympathize), but you might consider it for special occasion feasting. We shouldn't be eating meat 3 times a day, 7 days a week (bad stewardship, bad for health), but God clearly gave us the animals - not just to be pretty - but for us to put on the altar. We don't do altars anymore (thank heavens), but we still feast (doubly thank heavens), so get a piece of meat, give thanks over it (because without God's grace, it wouldn't be there), cook it slowly and perfectly, and pour a glass of red wine.

To advent! To food! To friends! To family!

there are ideas and then there are ideas.

I have a lot of pretty decent ideas.

And then, sometimes, I put off Christmas Card taking pictures until 2 weeks before Christmas, and on Sunday December the 12th, declare that today MUST be the day, and then it is 28 degrees outside.

My children have never loved me so much.


Also, the weather forecast doesn't look much better for the next seven days.

new years cards?

04 December 2010

An Open Letter

Dear Methamphetamine Users:

Please stop using methamphetamines. I understand that you enjoy them, and your life has, up until this point, put you in a position that means that drugs actually seem a good idea. . Yes, your teeth will rot, and your relationships will be ruined. But, I'm not going to belittle you with the usual arguments, however cogent. I'm here to beg. If you won't quit for you, please quit for me and all those of whom I'm representative.

How is your meth use affecting me?
You object to relevance?
I plead for a little latitude from the judge. I'll get there. Give me two shakes of a something or other.

Well, it's simple, really. Because you use meth, your drug suppliers make meth. It's basic supply and demand. Even meth-users understand supply and demand, right? Right.

So, since you use, there is demand for it. So, there becomes a supply for it. Because all drug dealers are in it for the money. Right. So that's easy.

So, if you quit using meth, what will happen? The answer is C) The suppliers of meth will move onto a different drug, because of the premises above - they are only in it for the money, and without demand, they can make no money.

With me so far? Good.

Now, if there is no demand and no supply, then perhaps, just maybe, I can be helped.

Each winter, I get a mammoth cold, which usually turns into a sinus infection, sore throat, and as of late, an ear ache. It also causes my most-days-a-week headaches with which I'm used to living to turn into bitches of headaches. There is no other word for it. For about three weeks now, I have had a bitch of a headache. And a faceache. Faceaches did not exist in Eden, I tell you.

It's Satan's fault, Adam's fault, and Eve's fault. But you, meth-user, can help repair the effects of the fall. You can, really.

Quit using. Demand dries up. Supply dries up.

And the fact that I took my last three pseudoephedrine last night will mean I have to run to Walgreens, not that I have to leave the state to get some more.

Yes, because of you, Meth-User, I have to leave the state or go to the doctor to get an effective, cheap decongestant.

(See, judge, I told you I could connect it back up).

Now, there is definitely a flaw in my plan. There is no doubt that if the meth-users as a group had never become users in the first place, my blessed pseudoephedrine would be a hop, skip and a jump around the corner. But the first rule of philosophical argument (well, maybe the fifth or so), is that you cannot assume the inverse. (The inverse of "If x then y" is "If not x, then not y")

See, my plan assumes that the Mississippi State Legislature, after seeing the usage of, and consequently manufacturing of, methamphetamines plummet, would repeal their stupid "need a prescription" law about the little red pills I call my best friends. But in America, and in our great State, lawmakers are loathe to repeal measures, even if it shows that by so doing, they can increase freedom, and the original threat that caused them to restrict freedom is now null.

But, if, you, Meth-User, will quit using meth, I'll lead the charge to have the law repealed. I'll march up hill in the snow both ways with all three of my young 'ns down to the state capitol. (I already live in the capital, it's not that far.)

You and me, kid. It's up to us. People with chronic congestion everywhere will thank us.

We could be heroes. For more than one day! (Name that awesome song... Ewan is your hint)

But, it has to start with you. I cannot lead my charge until you quit your meth. If I could, I would, but I cannot.

Just say no to drugs, so I can say yes to mine.


Ann Lowrey Forster, afflicted Mississippi resident.