Quilting

 baby quilt for the newest grand girl Ada Jo Sittig (aka Josie)

Here’s to quilting– stitching together bits of fabric with thread to make something cozy and snuggable.  I have to admit I’m a rather poor quilter, no serious quilter classes and no fancy patterns. no matching the corners and no intricate appliqués.  My grandmother (a busy quilter herself) called my quilts “serviceable.”  But I find it so relaxing to sit and stitch away an afternoon, sometimes praying over the work for the person I will give this quilt to, but more often using it as an excuse to sit and watch HGTV and still feel productive.  I’ve made wedding quilts, baby quilts, graduation quilts and am beavering away on a new one for Aaron and Jessica right now.  I don’t know–it just gives me a lot of joy to see a quilt I’ve made crumpled up on the sofa of one of my kids– snuggable, serviceable quilts.

At Home

Once with friends the question came up, “Where do you feel most at home?”  I can’t remember my answer back then, but now I would say my “home spot” is on the snug sofa in our study, looking down the hall through our bedroom and onto the maples in the backyard.  It’s where I like to start my day, a place to read, pray and to quiet my heart.  I’m thankful for this little patch of “home.”  Where  is “home” for you?

The Crop

The zinnia crop is coming in!  A vase full of blooms 2 or 3 times a week.  They are just so bright and perky!!  You buy and pack of seeds and throw them into the ground mid August in a sunny place. Then cut blooms September through October.  Where else can you get so much happiness for $1.69?

Puttering

There are few things more fun than finding yourself home with no pressing items on the schedule and an empty hour or two to “putter” around the house.  I found myself in that situation last week and took off on a puttering extravaganza!

To refresh the top of our old black fireplace, I dug out a painted dish I bought in a tiny shop across from the cathedral in Seville (memories!), moved over a tea pot inherited from my mom’s kitchen, set out a sweet blue pitcher from the thrift store and added a white candle stick (without candles as of yet) I found at an estate sale last week.

That was just the start– I puttered my way across the house in the next two days:
1. Nestled some new plants in the tired pots out on the patio
2. Added a junk store  print of “Castle Chillon” (more memories) to the collection of                           favorite art on the living room wall.
3. Picked up new pillows at Marshalls for the family room (retired my “granny pillows”)
4. And while I was shopping picked up a chubby turquoise lamp to replace our 17 year old                battered hand me down with the rocking shade.
5. Painted the french door out to the backyard a startling shade of turquoise–hmmm,                         that may get a “redo.”
6.  Put photos of favorite cakes we have made in to perky red frames and stuck them over                  the stove with that sticky scotch adhesive (hope it holds!)
7.  Put two turquoise plates on the hutch to make it a bit more modern.
8.  Got a new really red kitchen rug to replace those old slidey-bunch up faded ones.
9.  Found some old frames in the garage and hung a collection of food prints over the                           kitchen table.
10. Took all the dishes off the kitchen hutch and dug out anything I could find that was                         green and yellow to make it look more summery.
11. But some hydrangeas from the yard and brought them in for the table.  And the last                          little fistful of sweetpeas.
12. Planted two packets of zinnias behind the garage.  There are already brave little                               sprouts reaching toward the sun!

It feels a little fresher around here–with all that puttering.  I have a few more projects in mind… for the next time a find myself at home with a little free time.

Mini miraculous munchable apricots

It almost seems miraculous. A few months ago that apricot tree was bare, not a leaf. Suddenly, it sprouted into spring with snowy blossoms and leaves of the tenderest green. And then so many apricots–all the mini variety, no bigger than a plump grape! They were sweet and all the better since they grew in the corner of our yard. We gathered our crop and tossed them in salads with almonds and tarragon dressing, cut them up over vanilla ice cream and stirred them into cake. Oh, and munched quite a few straight from the bowl on the kitchen sink. Tender and so, so sweet. It’s gratifying to be a “farmer.”

Zinnias

I have always been envious of Mr. Wicks bright beds of zinnias next door, and so when I saw a pack of zinnia seeds for $1.69 at Target, I decided to see what would come up across the fence in our yard. Planted in August, we picked the first blooms about the time school started and have had a steady crop every since. It’s my new fall luxury!! (up there with apple cake and pots of soup). I’ve gotten many times $1.69 worth of joy out of these bright sturdy flowers–vases all over the house! Thanks to God for the gladness he gives us in the creation!! Beautilicious!!

Flowers for the table

I had a sad moment today. Early this Saturday morning Larry asked, “Is is about time to cut down the sweet peas?” Well, yes. But I hate to see them go. So I went out and picked one last little fistful of the fragrant blooms to rest on the coffee table. That’s all ’til next year…

I love a clutch flowers on the table, in the kitchen, by the front door… If I plan right and the weather is obliging, I can have flowers from the yard almost year round. Camelia’s (“winter roses”) begin in January, freesias and then masses of sweet peas in the spring, summer roses and hydrangeas on into the fall. I have to settle for a greenery and a pumpkin late November and holly in little bunches for Christmas. But it’s a joy to bring the fresh, bit of life into the house. When I sit and study the curve of a petal on a double delight rose (my Grandma Roses’s favorite) and the way the vivid deep pink fades gracefully down to a soft ivory along the slope of the petal. Who put God could design such beauty? I’m thankful.

House

Ani and Brian are beginning to shop for a house in San Francisco. So I am drawn back to our own first house shopping not so long ago. When we still lived in Spain, I would often have dreams in the night– Larry and I were walking through large, old houses, searching for one of our own. But as the sun rose, I’d always wake up to our 7th floor apartment in the city. Then when we came to live in California, my dreams were literally realized. Larry’s aunt unexpectedly left us enough money to afford a down payment and within days were we found our very own house–providential! We filled it with hand-me-downs from family and friends–the old owners sold us 3 couches for $100, we found a used table at Pottery Barn for $39, odd beds from friends and a rocker that we had given away when we went overseas found it’s way back to us. My favorite story of God’s provision, were the bookcases I loved in a catalogue but were too much ($$) to buy. Then one day I was taking my Grandmother to a Walmart near her home and there was an outlet store next door with the exact same bookcases at 1/3 the price! A piano my folks no longer needed, a desk from Larry’s parents garage… A lady I’d never met from church heard about us and dropped by our blue lamp. Bit by bit our house became a home and I love it so.

I have some favorite spots in the house– on the tiny office sofa, looking down the hall over the bookcase out the back window toward the maple tree… or coming in the front door to be welcomed by the green of the yard through the big wooden window. Standing at my kitchen counter with dinner brewing on the stove.
Mostly I love the house when it’s filled with people, like in a couple hours when my Monday Bible study friends arrive, everyone telling stories over mugs of tea, always a blessed time… or on Tuesdays when the young moms group comes and we share our lives and laugh (I mean laugh!) together. Last week week when friends came for Sunday night soup and Saturday night banana pie and a rousing game of banan-o-grams. And it’s always a lovely joy when my kids are around the table, with the grandparents for a meal together.
I was watching HGTV this week at a young woman shopping for a house in Portland. She said she wanted a house she “could hug.” Sounds corny, but I do love my huggable house. And I thank God for all that he has provided in giving us this home and all that is in it…

HOME

“Home is where the heart is.” I believe that. When we lived in Spain i was “homesick” for California. Now in California, I have my “homesick” days for Spain. And with Micah and family in Shanghai, I’ve plenty of “homesick” for China days… My heart is home in all these places. That’s why when I read this C.S.Lewis quote, I read it over & over and loved it right away…

“The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of this world; but joy, pleasure, and merriment he has spread broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and pose an obstacle to our return to God; a few moments of happiness, of love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe, or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”

At the end of my father’s life the family gathered in his cc unit room. We’d talk and sing to him. Sing “This world is not my home.” –an old favorite of ours. He knew where he was going, to heaven, to his real home. I love my life, my “merry” days with family & dear friends and the hard days as well. But I long for the real, eternal, heart home of heaven…

Lynwood

Last month Lulu, my mom and I spent a sunny Sunday afternoon up and down the streets of Lynwood. We lived there from the time I was 3 til 19. I’d been there before with other companions, but it was more fun seeing it all with mom and Luanne– so many common memories flooded back and we laughed and had a few serious moments as we toured our old neighborhood, schools, shops, friends streets. A highlight for me was finding our old Lynwood church just about to have their Sunday afternoon service. We slipped inside and sat in the back room as the hispanic service was starting up. So wonderful to see people who love God still worshipping there. We walked around the building, peeking in and stopping to take a photo of Luanne and me on the back steps– site of past Sunday school group shots! A lovely day together.

Kitchen

If we have crossed paths in the last 4 months, you most certainly already know that we have a new kitchen! Thanks to hours and hours of hard labor on Larry’s part, it’s done!! All buttery yellow and shiney new! And today I put on a few finishing touches. I painted the french door out to the little porch a warm golden color and over the kitchen window I painted “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good. Psalm 107:1” in a cozy script.

You’d think after a few weeks of being back at cooking up dinners in the new kitchen the excitement would have worn off– but no! It makes my heart happy every time I crank up that super stove burner or rinse dishes in the perfectly shaped sink.
In honor of the new kitchen and with great thanksgiving for the lovely gift that it is to me, I’d like to pass on my favorite newly discovered recipe that I’ve been making there:

ORANGE CHIPOTLE CHICKEN

butter
4 chicken breasts
1 1/2 tab soy sauce
1 tab marmelade
1/4 cup green onions
toated almonds

Brown the chicken in butter 5 minutes on each sice. Mix marmelade and soy sauce and brush onto chicken.

then the ORANGE CHIPOTLE SAUCE

3 tab butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tab garlic
1/4 cup chopped basil
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tab brown sugar
1 tab orange marmelade
1 chipotle pepper, minced

Brown the onion in butter, Add garlic and basil. Then stir in the orange juice, broth, soy sauce, sugar and marmelade. Put chicken into the sauce and simmer for 6 minutes. Serve garnished with the green onions and almonds.

And to serve along side the chicken:

CILANTRO RICE

1 1/2 cups rice
3 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 cup cialntro
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 minced chipotle
1 1/2 tab lime juice
1 tsp oilive oil

Cook rice with water and salt. In the food processor puree the cilantro, onion, chipotle, lime juice and oil. Stir this mixture into the rice when it is done cooking. pretty and delicious.

With a big green salad –greens, avocados,oranges, feta– it’s a spicey, yummy meal. Que aproveche!