Mid-Winter Update: What’s saving my life right now

I’ve enjoyed Modern Mrs. Darcy’s What’s Saving My Life series for a few years. In that spirit, here’s what’s saving my life right now:

Thick hand cream and rubber gloves:

During the winter (and with all my hand-washing in the clinic) my hands get so dry they crack. There are lots of expensive options out there, but I like the $4 Vaseline’s intensive care deep moisture cream. This is not a sponsored post. I think it works; I like the price; I can still open doorknobs afterwards. All the same, I still need to use rubber gloves for all my household tasks involving water.



For the first time ever, I recently returned a candle to a store because the fragrance was too strong. (No, I hadn’t burned it yet.) Generally, I love candles, the more the merrier. Burning them all winter long (especially in February) makes me feel cozy and warm.


Normally in February, I reach for old favorites. I hate investing my imagination in a new book and discovering I have chosen poorly. Currently on my reading table: Pride and Prejudice and The Westing Game.


Getting Outside

There’s a direct correlation between how much time I spend cooped up indoors and my mood. At this stage in our schooling and in life, I have to be very intentional to make my outside time happen, but when I make it happen, life is better. For all of us.


My current favorite music to listen to includes Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, the music from the musical Waitress, and Ingrid Michaelson.

What’s saving your life right now?


7QT: Instead of the news

One: It’s been hard to write this year. There is so much terrible news, and all of it is much more important than anything I have to say about school or local food. When I finally get over it to write something and schedule it to post automatically Monday morning, something terrible happens (looking at you, white supremacists who overran Charlottesville, and nutcase in Barcelona) and then my response appears to be some links about the upcoming eclipse.  There are many thoughtful, wise responses to the state of our nation and world.  I’m sorry that you won’t find them here.  Read them first, and then when you can’t take reality any more, you can pick up some sheet cake and come back here to read about something less distressing.

Two: Welcome back. While you were gone, I’ve been organizing our books.  Every year I  pull out the ones I want to have handy to assign for school.  I’ve been putting it off this summer because… well, see #1 above.  (It’s not just writing that’s been hard.)  But school starts on Monday, and I’m running out of time. I began yesterday by going through all the shelves and pulling out the books I need. Now I have to make room for them in a convenient spot, which involves moving those books somewhere else.  Anyway, it quickly became overwhelming.





Three: So instead of finishing the task, I moved on to the abundance in the kitchen.  It’s August, which means melons and corn and tomatoes and peaches. Hallelujah. A God who made the peach is Someone I can get behind.


I used to spend a hot, August afternoon sweating over the canner with these beauties. No more. Now I wash them, slice them in half to remove the pit, and freeze them on parchment paper. (The peaches, not the pits.) It takes about 10 minutes and involves no heat. Then, when the peaches are frozen, I throw them in bags.  In the winter they are perfect for the cobblers and smoothies that are the antidote to the February blues.

Four: While I’ve been working hard (or running to escape the news), the children are struggling with boredom. Poor things. I feel so sorry for them.

Five: Phoebe has taken to writing a newspaper.  I was nervous about this at first, until her first two articles were Tips about the Eclipse and Tips for Going Back to School. A girl after my own heart.

Six: Moriah has been coping by baking. Alas, that enables my coping by eating. After days of double chocolate chip cookies, lemon bars and flourless chocolate cake (she has been limited only by the egg production of our hens), I begged her please to make something that could count as lunch.  “Here,” I said, “use all these gorgeous tomatoes to make some sauce.”




Seven: Teenage boredom for the win. Now if I could only talk her into helping me with the books…

When you can’t take the real news any more, check out Kelly for more Quick Takes.

What’s Saving My Life Right Now

Upon the inspiration of Anne Bogel, this is a reflection on what’s saving my life right now.

Midday walks.


Sometimes we borrow our neighbor’s dog. Sometimes we hit a nature preserve (no dogs allowed.) Sometimes we just walk, but it’s always worth the effort.

Good books.

The children and I are reading Swallowdale by Arthur Ransome and Greenglass House by Kate Mitford. I am re-re-re-reading Dorothy Sayers’s Gaudy Night. (Sam just read it for the first time.)

Honestly, I’m not up for a challenge right now. I need something I know ends well. Suggestions?

Colorful food.


This week I made Run Fast, Eat Slow’s Runner’s High Peanut Sauce, and we poured it over bowls of rice, grilled chicken and diced vegetables. Yum.


My friend Lori introduced me to the app Pray As You Go. It’s a lovely 11-12 minutes of contemplative music, Scripture, meditation on the Word, and prayer.

Also, because I’m not playing music in church right now, I am free to seek prayer from our prayer ministers during communion. And I do. Every week.


What’s saving your life right now?

Beating the February Blues: Day 29


Welcome to the end of a month of ideas to beat the February Blues!

Day 29: Make a plan.

I know this feels like a regular Monday, but it’s not.  It’s the end of a hard month. A date that comes only once every four years.  So take some time today to reflect. To look back on your last four years: How have you grown?  What went well?  What didn’t go so well?  What would you like to do differently in the future?*

Of, if that’s too much to take on in just 24 extra hours, make a smaller goal. Perhaps you want to run a half-marathon (though 13.1 miles isn’t really “half” of anything) or learn to tap dance. Maybe you want to commit more deeply to your faith, or make time to work with a cause dear to your heart.  Great!

Then make a plan.

*That little 3-question mantra (What when well, what went poorly, what will you do differently next time) comes from Make It Stick, by Peter C. Brown. I highly recommend it, and The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg if you want to make a change. (My reviews of both books are here.)

Beating the February Blues: Day 27

Welcome to a month of ideas to beat the February Blues!

Day 27: Help someone else.

Maybe it’s a neighbor whose day you could make by shoveling her walk.  Or stepping in to help someone at church who does more than his fair share. Praying for a family in trouble, or sharing a meal with a lonely student or senior.

Or maybe, as you’ve joined me in praying for those in Fiji who have lost everything, you are led to send a gift across the world.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is on their way now to Fiji, to begin a long process of rebuilding and restoring.  If you are led to give, please know that 100% of your gift will make it to the communities hardest hit by Cyclone Winston.

Photo credit: Jerusha and Wesley Neal

Read more here about how Cyclone Winston has devastated communities, and how UMCOR and our friends in Fiji are ministering to those hit hard by this disaster.

Better yet, donate here.  Even a gift of $5 (one family asked only for a cooking pot!) will make a difference.

Beating the February Blues: Day 26

Welcome to a month of ideas to beat the February Blues!

Day 26: Pull out the good craft supplies.


I have a bin where I keep the “good stuff,” so that I have something special when we need a little treat.  Maybe you’re one of those cool parents who always uses the good tools, but I have to keep the expensive stuff hidden, or it’s all used up by September 12.  Today is the day to pull out the good watercolors.