Friday, December 2, 2016

White Christmas

The decking of the Streicher halls is officially underway. Today's progress:

^ I'm feeling so much white this year. With my ubiquitous paper snowflakes. a pair of fuzzy sheepskins, and white candles for dayz, the room is slowly capturing that pure and simple Christmas spirit that I crave. 

^ Last January, I was inexplicably inspired to buy three strings of paper lanterns. I'll confess I had absolutely no idea how I would use them but their white simplicity spoke to me. 

Today I pulled them in from the garage and showed them to my third-born, who took one look and created this scheme of three curving lines. Just exactly what I needed. 

As the afternoon progressed, my table full of mostly white baubles and bangles slowly emptied until just this item remained: a tiny white box of bold mini bulbs. Just this one splash of color, I told myself, will take this igloo look to the next level.

Pour them in a bowl,
spill them across a shelf,
string them from a doorknob.

But you know what? I couldn't do it.

Nothing looks cuter to me than those tiny ornaments tucked into that perfect, tidy - and yes, very white - storage box.

Looks like I'm headed for an all-white Christmas this year.

Brain Food

It's not much to look at, but I'm telling you, this stuff works miracles. 

On my busy teaching days, my brain gets quite a workout. Driving from house to house to house, I meet with my students for intensive sessions that cover a lot of material at an aggressive pace.

Fractional exponents
Abstract equations

Rationalizing denominators
Completing the square

Linear vectors
Circular permutations

Between delivering lectures, working examples, troubleshooting homework problems, and administering weekly quizzes, my cerebral cortex wears itself out pretty quickly.

In order to make it through the day, I need a lunch to nourish those overworked synapses, and I have found the perfect cure.

PCC's Perfect Protein Salad totally does the trick. Living up to its prideful name, one serving of this magical stuff - typically wolfed down with a compostable plastic spoon behind the wheel of my car in the store parking lot - restores my clarity and sets me right for my afternoon sessions.

And on the days when I am really feeling ruffled, I grab a second serving to eat - all calm and collected - when I'm back at home.

Both my brain and my stomach thank me for it.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Coming: Week 1

Festive lights peek through the trees and remind me what's coming. 

What a wild Thanksgiving weekend.

I cooked and served a full turkey dinner twice: once for the family and again for friends.
Drove more than 150 miles for teriyaki and sushi.
Ferried my daughters back and forth to the mall all times of day and night for their Black Friday shifts.
Walked my shivering dog through windstorms and cold rain.
Watched the new Gilmore Girls. Twice.
Bit my nails through several football games and suffered as my teams lost more than they won.
Washed more dishes than you could shake a stick at.

Come Sunday night, I was thankful...but worn out.

It wasn't until everyone else went to bed and I had a few moments to rest and reflect that I remembered that this day - this night - is the first Sunday of Advent.

Christmas is coming.

Not the shopping-for-gifts, pictures-with-Santa, deck-the-halls kind of Christmas. Though that season is racing toward us at breakneck speed as well.

What I remembered is that God's gift of peace, power and majesty to all the world is coming, once again, Baby Jesus in the manger is whispering to me, "I'm coming," and my heart leaps with joy.

All the busy-ness of my Thanksgiving weekend disappears in a snap, and I am

resplendently excited

for the coming of Christmas.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Timeless Thanksgiving

Clockwise from the top: green bean casserole, acorn squash, dressing, turkey, cranberry sauce. I didn't grow the vegetables in my own garden, but otherwise, this is pretty much the same meal that Clara used to serve me. 

As usual, during my Thanksgiving dinner today, I thought of my grandmother. She and my grandpa hosted most of our holiday meals as I was growing up, so her table set the benchmark in my brain for how Thanksgiving is supposed to look, taste, sound, smell, and feel.

Good food prepared in simple style.
A table set with pretty pieces. 
Generous helpings and lots of plate passing.
Comfortable conversation.
And a hostess who puts everyone at ease.

I never realized before how much I try to walk in my grandmother's ways, but one look at my holiday table proves the depth of her impression on me. And I think that if, just once, my grandmother could join us, our Thanksgiving feast would make her feel right at home. 

There's only one detail she would probably struggle to understand. 

Let's call it...the Instagram effect.

Guess Who

Once again, the Streicher women are reunited. My third-born flew in from Asia for the holidays and here we are, my four daughters and me, in all our leg and footwear glory.

What can you tell about us from our fashion choices? Let me spell out the specifics of each outfit and let's see if you can figure out who's who.

Clockwise from the top:

1. White high-top Chuck Taylor's with a pair of Abercrombie & Fitch boyfriend jeans 
2. Black high-top Vans with Abercrombie & Fitch light wash jeans
3. White Birkenstocks with Gap jeans
4. Suede ankle boots from Target with a pair of Gap black leggings. 
5. Heather grey sweatpants with navy canvas H&M high tops.

Take your best guess and then check your answers below!

* * * * * 
1. Emma
2. Tessa
3. Molly
4. Diane
5. Jane

Sunday, November 20, 2016

My LUSH-ious New Shower

Long story short, I remodeled my shower to show off my soap.

But as my down-to-earth contractor pointed out, it's easy to over-design a space with extravagant and expensive details.  Better to keep the overall look simple and clean, he advised, and let just a few personal touches shine through.

Immediately, I appreciated his wisdom and knew exactly how to proceed. 

My focal point would be... soap. 

Now it may seem counter-intuitive to plan a bathroom around something so temporary and insignificant as a bar of soap, but that is exactly what I did.

However, this isn't your ordinary bar of Irish Spring. 

I'm obsessed with snooty, upscale, artisinal, hipster soap.

And now my simple, white, pure and clean  shower stall - as well as the still-to-be-remodeled-rest of the bathroom - sets off my earth-toned bath bombs and golden body butters. 

And it all looks pretty LUSH-ious to me. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Lighting Candles

"It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness." - Eleanor Roosevelt

Last weekend, I drew up plans for a simple sconce made from pallet wood and set my husband to work. I'm happy with the finished effect.

Walking through this world has been wearing me down lately. 

There is darkness.
There is hate.
There is a never-ending sense that we are all swimming upstream against a torrent of negativity and evil and no matter how hard we try 

to smile
to bring a kind word and a positive thought
to love one another

our efforts come to precious little.

I feel tired. Maybe you do too.

Let's give ourselves permission 

to slow down
to enjoy quiet comforts
to feel a little bit afraid.

But we must never stop.

Because we are making a difference. 
That's why we are tired. 
Changing the world is hard work.

Our task is not to give up. Nor are we asked to burn down the wicked world overnight.

What we can do - what we must do - is light a candle every day and let our tiny flames chase away the darkness. 

Let's be honest. I'm obsessed with candles and you'll find them burning all around my house. But I love most to keep one or two lit in the hallway, just inside the front door. And I imagine that every time I open my door, a tiny bit of light slips out into the night. 

* * * * *

My project was inspired by this tutorial. Thanks for the great idea!