Monday, October 22, 2012

Joy Dare Monday...

So the first thing you need to know is that the passionfruit skin jam/jelly/sauce is all gone. Clearly, I will have to make some more...

910. morning out with friend
911. hummingbird
912. jam that didn't gel
913. an older lady with bad balance full of joy and exclaiming over every small gift
914. refreshing cool sea breeze
915. 3 pelicans, one white, skimming the waves
916. sharing failed jam with choir
917. passionfruit skin sauce and Greek yoghurt
918. cleaning out fridge
919. enough time
920. getting another Anglican rosary blessed
921. sticky cloud cover
922. [redacted]
923. cool breeze

Am linking this up to Ann Voskamp's "multitudes on Mondays" (or will as soon as it goes up!)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The making of passionfruit jam

You may have noticed that passionfruit has been on my mind a little bit.

As we have a lot of it, with still more to come, I think.

On Sunday, I made jam from the passionfruit. 

This required unearthing all the jam-making equipment that my mother-in-law had given me and washing everything.

The passionfruit was cut open and the skins were left to soak in water overnight, and then boiled for 30 minutes (I should've done it a little bit longer) ...

And then the jam making began in earnest.

The result being two and three quarter pint jars of pink-colored (from the skins that were boiled) passionfruit jam.

And then to wait for 24 hours to see if the seals took.

The recipe I used came from here.

I had some passionfruit skins left and I really liked the color of the jam in this guy's recipe, so I tried that next.

First boiling the skins for 1.5 hours boiled down the water (guess my pan lid wasn't close fitting enough?) so I felt if I was adding two cups of sugar, I should add the water back in. (The outer skin actually doesn't make it into the jam.) Then the blasted thing boiled over and so I spent time monitoring the heat while dipping the candy thermometer in and out of it.

And then I forgot to swoop out the air bubbles and two jars didn't do that telling "click" of sealingbut they all did seal. Unfortunately, they didn't gel so it's ice cream with passionfruit skin sauce for us!

After another 2+ hours I've ended up with four small jars of passionfruit skin sauce and they look really pretty. Too bad they have to be consumed within a week. I'm going to use a jar in a pork glaze, took a jar to choir... and see if I can give the other jar away there.

So I think it's official. I'm hooked on jam making.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Joy Dare Monday: a week (mostly) on retreat

A different font today because most of the gifts were copied off my Notes app. Let me know if you can see that semi-handwritten style or if it looks terrible or whatever.

I can't believe I have less than 100 gifts to go before I reach 1,000! I think this is pretty cool. Of course, I don't think I will stop at 1,000. Changing my perspective is probably going to take at least another 1,000.

#894 below is "dark smudge of a bird". I was watching the dawn light fall upon the mountains from the back patio of the retreat house this week, savoring my cup of tea and then my gaze drops. There's a dark brown bird sitting motionless on an old quern stone right in front of me.  My perspective changed so quickly. From looking at grand beauty so far away to simple beauty up close.

Here's the list for this week.

877. angel card
878. cold water
879. frustrating enchilada making
880. Crescent moon peeking through clouds in an early morning sky
881. Pepper trees laden with red berries
882. Getting a seaside seat during the second half of the journey

883. "My soul has turned into heaven" - Macrina Wiederkehr, 'A Tree Full of Angels'
884. A field of large orange pumpkins
885. Dolphins!
886. Steak and potato pie

887.  Little pup trying to take ball from mom and hanging on
888. Figuring out how to layer and blend watercolors
889. Pretty roses
890. Eagle or hawk (at least twice as big as a crow)
891. How do birds know which way the other birds are going?
892. Waking up contented
893. Vienna Cinnamon tea (from Tea Forte)
894. Dark smudge of a bird
895. Chat with Br. Tom
896. Chat with fellow retreatant
897. Seeing the dark clouds, the curtain of rain on the mountains, hearing the leaves rattle, smelling clean rain

898. Click of beads
899. Delicious mushroom gravy over roasted green chile crepes
900. Red gold dawn touched mountains
901. God's glory within us
902. Large formation of pelicans
903. Drinking Chardonnay and watching the sunlit sea
904. Steel gray twilight sea

905. hug (even though I'm being grumpy)
906. orange sunset during a walk
907. singing descant
908. making jam is hot work!

will post more about the jam on Wednesday

909. pizza for dinner

Am linking this up to Ann Voskamp's "multitudes on Mondays" (or will as soon as it goes up!)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

7 Quick Takes ...


Confession, I hear, is good for the soul. I have done a couple of these Quick Takes posts in the past, but it wasn't zinging for me, although of course I still read Jennifer's blog. But for an Amazon gift card? I'm ready to not-zing!


This week has been quiet on my blog because I spent four days at a retreat house in Santa Barbara. It was formerly run by Episcopal nuns and is now run by Episcopal monks. It's called Mt. Calvary Community at St. Mary's Retreat House and it's located right next to the Old Mission and the food is to die for. (Like roasted green chile crepes with creamy mushroom gravy and spaghetti with red clam sauce, and home made bread and soups. Heaven.) Anyway, pictures from the retreat will appear on Monday. I haven't quite finished downloading them yet.


Which brings me to another thought. I used to not like mushrooms. I mean the flavor was okay, but putting one in my mouth was the slimy equivalent of a dry kidney from a steak and kidney pie. Now, I can't get enough. Very odd. On the other hand, I've always loved Oysters Rockefeller (bacon! cheese!) But my husband's happy because he loves mushrooms and now he's actually getting them when I cook!


If you  haven't seen The Way with Martin Sheen, put it in your queue. It's a beautiful film, super-rich about pilgrimage, forming community, and healing. Have a hankie to hand.


The retreat was for associates of the Order of Holy Cross, which is kinda sorta like being an oblate, but only kinda sorta. Our little group gelled pretty well and I'm hoping not to get the retreat crud that was going around. The theme of the week was pilgrimage and aside from watching the film listed above, we all received Anglican prayer beads (just like a Catholic rosary, but shorter), and practiced the Jesus Prayer, and of course, talked about it. It was a lovely, relaxing, peace-filled weekend.

My beads are in my pocket right now.


I was so tired coming home on the train, that I couldn't read the book I'd brought along for the purpose (which so far is really good: it's Macrina Wiederkehr's "A Tree Full of Angels"), so after checking email, Facebook and starting on the gazillion blog posts in Google Reader,  I listened to all the music from the Smash TV series. Am looking forward to its second season.


Today, I start making passionfruit jam. I've never made jam before, so wish me luck! Today is the easy part, scooping out the pulp of the fruit and soaking the skins (which are loaded with pectin which is apparently a jam essential). And I should probably wash everything again too. Tomorrow is the actual jam making and then day three is making sure that the jam jars are sealed...

Monday, October 8, 2012

Joy Dare Monday ...

This week has been one of taking care of myself -- although, somehow I managed to get sunburnt Thursday. I don't know how that happened as I wasn't out in the sun that long...

This past week's list:

856. relaxation
857. sketching bravely with a pen
858. setting boundaries
859. completing a task that I've been working on and off for a month
860. a fun lunch with a friend
861. movement meditation that turned out strangely fun and connective

862. moon in the morning sky
863. hibiscus flower
864. hot dogs
865. struggling through Lauds
866. orange balloon bouncing down the sidewalk
867. rolling boil
868. black tea
869. best cupcake ever (passionfruit and ginger -- no chocolate)
870. bittersweet and beautiful musical (and Lea Salonga!)
871. ginger flower perfume and chirping crickets
872. up early enough to see the dawn
873. reading about body acceptance in a ton of places
874. nap
875. husband's cooking
876. playing with art journal

Am linking this up to Ann Voskamp's "multitudes on Mondays" (or will as soon as it goes up!)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

God's love stories ... loving each other and our selves

photo by my husband
As I expected, two posts have come along shortly after posting my last God's love stories. These and the additional ones are about loving each other and loving ourselves.

I've been exploring this idea of self-care recently. It turns out I've been doing some of that already ... and the result of it is that I'm calmer, more grounded and (for me anyway) more patient.

Of course there are days where I feel crappy and act snappy, but nobody's perfect.

About loving each other:

About loving ourselves:

  • Liz Lamoreux posts a video about grieving for and forgiving our past selves: for her it was her 34 year old self. It's a beautiful video. Make sure you  have a peaceful, quiet space in which to listen and digest. You won't want to miss a word.
  • "God's Got This" from Christie at Home Sweet School
  • "Mastering Your Curves" from Sayable. Does your jeans size define you? Be reminded of Who defines you. (Hint: it's not that size tag.)
  • and from Rachel Held Evans' blog (which you really should add to your reading list), she linked in last week's Sunday Superlatives to "Let Love" from Annie at Home.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Is it weird to dance before the Lord? (plus link-up)

OK, so let me start with the link-up first. The link up is called "I am proud of my size."  The context of the photo is explained a lot further below.

I am a size 18 and here I am wearing a thrifted shirt, a skirt from Dress Barn and Chicago flip flops. More pictures below -- as well as the link to the link-up so you can see more folks who are proud of their size.

As I go through "The Artist's Rule" by Christine Valters Paintner, she gives a set of exercises at the end of each chapter to go deeper into the content presented.

Sometimes it goes beyond my comfort zone. When I first read about the movement exercise she wanted to do, I have to admit, I judged. My experience of liturgical dance is that it's amateurs moving and flailing their arms and ribbons about and failing to get their message across (aka the point of liturgical dance).

But don't I bop and groove in the choir loft on Sundays when we sing the Gloria and other up-beat tunes? 

So okay. I can try this in the privacy of my own home. 

And I only had to move one arm to music for about four minutes.

(this is a later representation, not the actual movement exercise)
Which I did, with my eyes closed.

I don't know if it has to do with my resuming Tai Chi this summer, recently taking up chair yoga, or the occasional Bollywood workout video, but it felt beautiful. Graceful. Grace-filled.

Some movements repeated, echoing the lyrics and became a kind of physical mantra ...

And while for a minute there, I flashed back to high school where a couple of friends and I danced energetically and ridiculously to "Flashdance (What a Feeling)". None of us were dance-trained -- I'm not counting my 3 months of jazz ballet when I was about 10 -- but it didn't matter. We had a blast and we were content within our bodies.

That contentment, that surging joy of dancing came back as I did this movement exercise ...

I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to set up the camera (without a tripod) to take a picture of my arm movements so the photos are a reflection of how I felt, sitting up straight on the sofa and moving my arms to John Tirro's "Use Me Up".

Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. 
As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before theLord, she despised him in her heart. (2 Samuel 6:14-16, NIV)

I have changed from Michal's attitude (which probably had nothing to do with David's gyrations and everything to do with her father being defeated) to having David's attitude.

Our judgements, our prejudices and our fears can sometimes stop us from trying new things. We need to remember to open our hearts and minds, and to lean in, just a little bit.

Meantime, I'll occasionally be dancing for the Lord in the privacy of my own home and every Sunday, of course, grooving in the choir loft.

Linking up with:

and Ann Voskamp's "Walk with Him Wednesdays".

Thursday, October 4, 2012

If you have a lot of time on St. Francis' Day...

Today is St. Francis' feast day. I thought it would be a good opportunity for a quickie post and link to the collection of blog posts that myself and a bunch of other good people wrote about the Prayer of St. Francis.



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Passionfruit abundance...

It seems like I'm finally going to be pushed into making jam -- something I've wanted to do for a while  but have put off -- because our passionfruit vine is overflowing with lots of fruit.

So, I thought I would share about passionfruit ...

We decided to grow this because my husband and I both love passionfruit. For me, it's a reminder of home: of passionfruit folded into whipped cream which ended up on the top of pavlova. Yum.

The vine is in danger of taking over the front yard (and shades our vege garden more than I would like).

overgrown passionfruit vine. yes, the trellis it is on has developed a lean, but the raised
garden bed is doing a good job of holding it up

The flowers are pretty, but small. The name passionfruit comes from the stamen of these flowers that look like Jesus' Cross, aka the Passion.

We've harvested two large containers of these. So far.

We froze some of the fruit, which is basically slicing them in two and scooping out the seeds and flesh with a teaspoon. The fruit are at their peak when their purple skin dimples, but so long as the skin is that  lovely dark purple they are good to eat.

Hubby doing all the hard work of cutting (the skins are super tough) and scooping,
while I document with my camera for this blog!
I made passionfruit cookies. It was from an Australian recipe (so really they are biscuits, just not remotely like American biscuits), so I think I still need to tweak it a little because it was too dry to form  a dough and I had to add additional passionfruit and water and I think the latter added to a reduced melt-in-the-mouthness that I was expecting.

Mum (who just scoops out the fruit and eats it) is going to send me a passionfruit slice recipe (which'll have some sort of crumb base and be topped with a mixture of passionfruit and condensed milk. Oh yeah.)

By the end of this week, I'm planning to make passionfruit jam. There are two kinds apparently: one using just the skins (!) and another using mostly the seeds and flesh with some of inside of the skins because they are so loaded with pectin which is what makes jam not be sauce.

This'll be my first jam making exercise so I'm a bit nervous about it, but it'll either work or it won't.

And I'd make passionfruit vanilla slice, but that only takes one passionfruit and I have a stack.

Wish me luck.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Joy Dare Monday ...

839. Scots yoga instructor
840. Cadbury "screme" eggs
841. crows flying home
842. a spider making its web
843. my choir buddy back at practice
844. treating myself to a spa @ home day: painted nails!

845. tough yoga stretches
846. feeling included
847. sweet scent of passionfruit
848. passionfruit cookies

849. getting the iCloud sorted out (and Notes synced)
850. shade of a tree
851. passionfruit
852. foraging bees
853. grooving in the choir loft
854. calming egg roll making
855. butterfly: so still and so close

Am linking this up to Ann Voskamp's "multitudes on Mondays" (or will as soon as it goes up!)