Beautiful Day

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It's Tasha Tudor Day!

I mentioned before that Tasha Tudor is one of my great inspirations.  I just love her old-fashioned charm, her feminine ways, her skill as a gardener, and most of all how her life exemplifies that a woman was created to give life in all its forms.  Though I know she was an imperfect woman and her spiritual beliefs seem to have been misguided, her simple life inspires me.  The life which she shares through her beautiful illustrations always makes me think that her children and grandchildren had glorious memories--from her marionette theaters that sound like something from "The Sound of Music" to the luminary-lit Christmas Eve walks to her creche in the woods.  If I had unlimited time and such a piece of property, I would love to re-create such memories for my own dear ones.
I am unsure who declared the tradition of "Tasha Tudor Day," but I believe it's been marked ever since her death in 2008.  This year I actually remembered it, so I decided to hold our own little commemoration of the day.  I pulled out some of my favorite titles from the bookshelf and read them aloud.  Then I took out my "Victoria" magazine that featured her antique dress collection.  We ooohed-and-aaahed over the beautiful frocks.

Baking something special was a must for this occasion.  Though I do not have a wood cookstove, I baked up some recipes from this cookbook of some of her favorite recipes.  I made the cheese souffle for dinner (with a few adaptations), challah bread, a simple caprese salad with my garden tomatoes (they're finally here!) and for dessert the English Toffee Bars.  The only thing that would have rounded this out perfectly was to brew a pot of tea.  But I settled for iced tea instead.
I didn't have time to sit and peruse all of my favorite Tudor books, but I enjoyed my very small remembrance of a woman whose life reminds me to take joy in the beauty of small moments and that every effort to create precious memories is worth it!

Thursday, August 23, 2012


In our culture, twenty-one is somewhat looked upon as an age of maturity.  Though a 21st anniversary is not necessarily thought of as a milestone, I am coming to think of these years as a sort of maturing.  I don't think I will ever forget that John Piper, in "This Momentary Marriage," (a book well worth reading!) says, to paraphrase, that one doesn't know much of anything about marriage the first 25 years.  I once heard a sweet older couple in a church we were part of (who had been married 60 years) echo the same thing.  Yes, I think my Tender Warrior and I will both admit we have a lot of growing and maturing ahead of us.  And isn't that the beauty of it?

Warrior was traveling during the week, but returned home just in time for celebrating.  Special occasions afford me great bursts of creativity in the kitchen.  This was my companion cookbook for the day, "Barefoot in Paris:  Easy French Food You Can Make at Home."

Barefoot in Paris: Easy French Food You Can Make at HomeYou see, I recently watched livestream videos of "The Reformation of Food and Family" conference.  In case you can't tell, we have some people who are passionate about food here.  We would have loved to attend the conference in person, but it wasn't possible.  We very much enjoyed the messages we did hear.  And I was especially appreciative of the inspiration of Chef Francis Foucachon, a native French chef, in his messages concerning what we can learn from the French about food.  One of the greatest things I took away from that was the concept that the whole meal is an experience and not simply a fueling station; not merely something on the "to-do" list to be hurried through to get to the next thing (a distinctly American notion).  Having been to France and a few other European countries, I can attest that this is true.  You do not go to a restaurant that is full and wait for a table to open up.  Meals are very social and slow; not something gobbled down and generally not an experience where the pop music and air conditioning are designed to get you to eat and move on so someone else can have your spot.  Having made a little French detour on our way back from the Black Forest in Germany, we enjoyed one of those French restaurant "experiences" where the meal is brought out a course at a time over a long course of time!  We really liked it, but we left our gracious hosts/dearest friends a little worried returning so late with their car! (This was in the days before cell phones).

In the past I have been a bit timid when it comes to French cooking.  It always seemed kind of overwhelming in time and ingredients.  But I decided to revisit it.  And with the help of Ina Garten's book, it has been both manageable and enjoyable.  An anniversary is an especially good time to spend a little extra thought in beauty surrounding a meal.

I did not get  any pictures of the chocolate-orange mousse though.  I had wanted to make Creme  Brulee, but my kitchen torch didn't arrive in time.  I am eager to try that one out!
A couple of years ago, I watched a movie that was recommended by someone I respect. 

Babette's Feast

It was primarily recommended because of the concept of beauty surrounding a meal and how a meal brought a community together.  Being a foreign film, it was kind of different as far as film goes.  But the highlight was certainly watching Babette prepare an incredible gourmet meal and the lengths to which she went to prepare it.

We finished our days of celebrating together with some family music time and then a special horseback trail ride.  They were lovely days spent together and I am so grateful.  I am truly grateful for such a dear husband to walk this life with.  I am thankful to my Lord for allowing me the privilege of marriage to this man and how we are both challenged and stretched beyond the natural inclinations toward our self.  I love every year of this journey together, even with its struggles.  And each year I find I truly want more of the mystery of all that God designed and intended marriage to be.  Sometimes it feels that we have only scratched the surface thus far.

My friend, Lisa, has written an incredibly encouraging message, "A Deeper Desire," for women in marriage over here.  These are lessons I have learned as well (and continue to).  I encourage you to read it with an open heart.  You really must!

"But if we set our face to make of marriage mainly what God designed it to be, no sorrows and no calamities can stand in our way. Every one of them will be, not an obstacle to success, but a way to succeed.    The beauty of the covenant-keeping love betwen Christ and his church shines brightest when nothing but Christ can sustain it."
"And may the marriage-watching world be captivated by the covenant-keeping love of Christ."
~John Piper, "This Momentary Marriage"

Friday, August 10, 2012

Scenes from a Week of Joyful Noise

We just returned from an amazing week at Booher Family Music Camp!  We decided early this year, upon learning of it, that we would make this our family vacation for the year.  I haven't been so inclined to tent camp with babies and little children.  I know they love the adventure.  I just don't love the work.  Nor do I like not sleeping well on the hard ground and hearing strange noises outside my tent.  Tender Warrior and I have done a fair bit of camping in our time.  And even some wilderness camping.  But with a family to care for, it's not so appealing.  Though I adore being in God's creation and the quiet, I just find the work and the dirt overwhelming at this stage of life.  I do like yurt camping together.  Because I just like that door that can lock and that little heater, and that shelter from the rain, you know.

I was willing to make the concession to tent camp on this one.  Do you want to know what was a major motivation for me (no puns intended..really)??  FOOD!  That's right!  I would not need to plan food for an entire week!  (Insert happy dance here).  And I don't mean just food to get by.  We were downright treated to the very best camp food in the country.  I was told it would be so, and it was true.   The kitchen crew that served was a huge blessing.  And we had nutritious, home-cooked style food in abundance.  I hear that Grandma B. goes to great measure to ensure the food is good.  There are rules here.  Like "No macaroni and cheese or spaghetti and meatballs."  I wish I had taken pictures of food.  Because there were glorious salads, fresh fruit, amazing entrees, hearty breakfasts, homemade biscuits like I've never had, and amazing homemade cinnamon rolls. 

Food was truly secondary though.  I relished the idea that our family could have some good quality music lessons together under some of the very best musicians in the country.  Tender Warrior took his guitar and Country Girl, Adventure Girl, and Young Warrior took their violins.  This mama doesn't have so much time to devote to music lessons at this stage, though I treasure making music.  I grew up with the clarinet.  Because it was the only instrument we owned and I was the oldest, so when band came around, that's what there was to play.  I was good, as far as band goes.  But I never loved it.  I always wished I could play flute or something beautiful.  I was surprised to see one clarinet player (who doubles as a fiddle player) at camp.  And I thought to myself, "Wow!  I never knew one could make this kind of music with a clarinet!"  Now, I am thankful we own many different musical instruments, so I get opportunities to play here and there.  Even though I feel handicapped because I can only read music and don't have a solid foundation in chords and theory.

I did steal a few moments to play in this beautiful place.

And he would be my favorite back-up musician...he's had this guitar for 20 years and this is the first time he really had opportunity to take lessons.  I was so happy to see him learn to play it more and enjoy it so much (even if his fingers were mighty sore at the end of the week).

Most days during classes, I stayed at camp with the littles.  They started to want fiddle lessons too, when they saw the young children's class.  They got to play a bit in between other classes.  We did lots of fun things and enjoyed the quiet of the day while the majority of campers were away at classes at a nearby school.  Here's someone I know and love who wants to be a photographer.

These country scenes just make me LONG to have property like this.  It is one of our dreams.

And the music...oh yes, the music!  Spectacular!  God gave those Booher brothers amazing talent and they are using it for His glory!  And so are many others who gathered there.  It's quite a showcase of talent.

 And at camp, there are always recreational activities.  Ultimate frisbee, volleyball, foosball, a fun run, playing in the creek....

And a very nice tree swing from a giant oak tree.

Each night there were either jam sessions or family music nights of various kinds.  The band scramble was a highlight for all.  Students from various instruments were put together in a band with instructors and they had to come up with a creative music arrangement with only 2 afternoons to practice.  Here are my favorite cowboys who were part of the band, "The Lone-Star Rangers."  They sang and played, "Deep in the Heart of Texas."

And everyone together on final concert night.

And for the historical dance-loving mama that I am, YES!  There was even a ceili dance (that's Irish, if you didn't know).  I love a good ceili, though some of those moves are super high energy.  There was one dance we just had to watch because it was too advanced and confusing, especially for my favorite dance partner.  But we all got to do the Virginia Reel and all were delighted (yes, I know that's not Irish.  But it is historical and it counts one hundred percent in my book of dancing and was all the better for my resident Civil War history buffs).  Sorry, we were too busy dancing to take photos.  When we weren't dancing and took photos of that "Posties Jig" (I think that's what it was called), the people were spinning around so fast that they just look like kind of a blur anyway).

Wonderful memories for all to take home.   And it's been fun to be inspired and come home to lots of music practice.  Our hope is God will use it in some way in our lives and family to be a light to others.  I think we're ready for next year (even though we will miss one of our favorite Booher families who will be spending some time serving in South America for the next two years). 

I am grateful for that little bit of stretching outside of my comfort zone.  You can't really beat camping in a group or place like this.  To put children to bed with nighttime serenades just outside the tent can't really be topped.  And that stunning moonlight from the full moon.  Something about the scene and the setting reminded me of when I was at running camp as a teen (now that was entirely roughing it!)  I was even treated to a couple of long moonlight walks hand-in-hand with my Tender Warrior.  Now I wish I had a photo of that.


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