Friday, March 29, 2019

A Smoothie Success

I recently posted something on my Facebook page about smoothies. When I buy them in a coffee shop or out somewhere {which is rare, but still} I love them. When I've tried to make them at home - they are not nearly as good.

So I asked for tips and specific ideas, measurements and such for trying again. One thing I find frustrating about smoothies is that similar to growing zinnias, everyone tells me how easy it is. I mean, I'm glad it is easy - but obviously I'm over-complicating it somehow!

Meanwhile, David gave me an amazing new blender/food processor for our anniversary. I mean, you guys, I'd been hobbling along with the blender we got for a wedding gift and it never really was that powerful. We registered for it because it was a blender/food processor combo and I wanted to be efficient and take up less space and all that jazz. But seriously, it has to work or it is pointless.

Because of this, I have just avoided using our blender. It worked so poorly and I frequently ended up frustrated. Ok, I do not have this problem anymore. This Ninja blender is amazing, my mind was blown the first time I used it and we crushed ice to almost snow in just a few seconds.

Now I knew it was time to try the smoothies again. Combining multiple tips given by friends in my post, we had smoothies this last Saturday morning and guess what? They were amazing! Just what I was looking for in taste and texture. Maybe my biggest issue was actually not using a powerful enough blender all along? {shrugs shoulders}

At any rate, I was super excited to take that first sip in my super cute canning jar with striped straw {thanks Carrie for the fun gift!} and find the refreshing taste to be just right and smooth.

Here's what I came up with in case you want to try a restaurant style smoothie at home too! I hope to try other flavors but this was a great first try. If you have a favorite recipe {please don't say throw in some of this and some of that! HA!} I'd love to know what it is!

Peach-Berry Smoothie

1-6oz container strawberry yogurt
1 cup frozen sliced peaches
1 cup frozen mixed berries
1 1/2 cup apple juice {or to taste, I started with 1/2 c. and added more twice to get the right texture}

Blend together and serve. This made two servings.


* Amazon affiliate link for my new favorite kitchen toy!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Slow Sunset

Once a year, in early spring, we don our pajamas and head out to the local ice cream shop who offers a free ice cream cone when you are in your pj's. It has become a spring tradition, a kickoff of the season and I've started writing it on the calendar on March 1st to call and find out when the free pj night is.

This year, I called one Saturday and it was that day! We spontaneously ate an early dinner, changed into the comfy clothes we are always happy to put on and piled in the car for the short drive. We always enjoy this time of calculating how much we saved in getting free ice cream, having a bigger cone than we ever would if we were paying {they offer only one free size and it is big!} and laughing together over anything and nothing while licking the sweet frozen goodness that threatens to drip down our chins and fingers.

We swat at sand gnats and wonder if other customers know why we are wearing our pj's?! They could've had free ice cream too but it is quickly obvious who knew ahead of time and who didn't based on attire!

After our tummies are full and our sticky hands and faces are wiped as clean as we can get them, the sky beckons with watercolor paint strokes across it as the sun sets. God's artistry calls to a place inside and we answer the call with a quick stop at the boat landing.

Here, little adventurers are off on the hunt for shells and other interesting goodies while I like to look through the lens of my camera and capture the beauty to be treasured and remembered another day. Looking at the images transports me back to the smells of the water, breeze blowing over our skin and birds silhouetted against the ombre sky.

We wonder where all the bricks came from that are carelessly left to weather along the water's edge and who is out on the boat we can see in the distance. We notice how the sky changes every moment, each time you look at it there is some difference. The sun moves and changes the shadows and slits of light between the clouds. Jetstreams move and change and the reflection of light on water mesmerizes us.

Some Slow Days I wake up just not really wanting to document the day in photos and especially not wanting that practice to be forced. So, today I share this slow evening with you instead which was completely unforced and full of beauty. In many ways, the sunset is not slow - once the sun starts to go down, it only takes fifteen minutes to be completely hidden behind the shadow of the horizon, but its rays stay with us in the sky a bit longer.

To me, that is one of the beauties of experiencing beauty - how it stays with us even when we can't see it any longer just like the sun dipping beneath the edge of the earth. We carry the image and memory, the sensation and the moments with us and that brings fuel and inspiration and refreshment for the next steps in our journey.

Monday, March 25, 2019

A Book Announcement!

Shortly after Slow Lane was completed, I was giddy and adrenaline was strong to start a second project. I got started right away and then sort of petered out in discouragement over the publishing experience that left me feeling drained and taken advantage of.

Starting last summer, I really wanted to be purposeful about finishing this work and I'm finally ready to tell you more about it! The rough draft is complete and the professional edit is being worked on right now - getting closer to sharing a new thing of beauty with you.

Speaking of beauty, this is a common theme around here and that is because it is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. While working on Slow Lane, a second idea was close at hand and the title has stuck with me for the last few years.

Today, I'm excited to tell you that title and a little more about this next work that I hope to share with you later this year!


Beauty Maker: The Ministry of God-Given Beauty

Similar in style to Slow Lane, this will be a handbook of sorts for you to walk through Bible Study, reflection questions and also photos and journaling pages.

Here she is! I wanted her to look like Slow's sister - so there are some unifying elements here that tie them together.

Beauty Maker will also include some hands-on projects for you to create beauty with your own hands as well!

I can't wait to share more in the months ahead - thank you for your support of my writing and the heart of beauty!

Meanwhile, Slow Lane is back on Amazon! I don't know why the ship date is so long, it should print on demand and be to you quickly!

Friday, March 22, 2019

The Now and The Not Yet

When I see this picture, it makes me think of these words: now and not yet. It shows me that there is something up close that I can see right in front of me and those are the tasks God has given me to do daily in this life He has called me to.

It also shows me there is something else ahead - in our hearts, this is where we will be with Him forever in Heaven if we have received His free gift of salvation. Spring also evokes this call to new life and thinking of the spiritual parallels are a beautiful way to grow in faith and understanding.

In the now we have earthly beauty limited by time, space and human-ness. We see glimpses and reflections of this future hope we have but we don't see it fully and can't until we arrive in our heavenly home.

To know that we are traveling this earth temporarily is a comfort when things are crazy and make no sense. God will make sense of it all some day regardless of if we understand the here and now - we will understand the forever after and that is all that matters isn't it?

Every time we experience beauty and blessing, it is a glimpse of the things He has in store for us in the not yet. We see dimly but not fully as 1 Corinthians 13:12 reminds us:

"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known."

This should encourage us when life can be discouraging. Hearing the news, seeing the signs of earthly life and struggles can dishearten but the next thought I have is Jesus saying to my mind:

John 16:33 -

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

This is an example of the now and the not yet.

Generously, God has given us His peace and His presence in the now and hope for it even more fully in the not yet. We have opportunities in the now that will impact the not yet - who will we share our faith with, how will we display who God is to a confused and hurting world around us.

We will not convince them with force or shame, but with love and beauty and peace. With a quiet spirit that lives confidently in His future hope we may have the opportunity to share that hope with those around us.

What does my life say about the now and the not yet? What do I want it to say? Where do I need God to speak into my heart on this?

Enjoying: Golden hour at the Silos - a gift of now and hope for golden hour 24/7 in the not yet!

Monday, March 18, 2019

A Season of Growing

Several things lately have brought this idea of growth to mind but in very different ways. Visiting the greenhouse at the Silos was beautiful and inspiring as was taking a slow walk through the tidy gardens.

This kind of gardening is very appealing and yet something I struggle to achieve - we casually talked about gardening while walking through it and I admitted that I'm most successful at growing weeds!

As many have done before us, considering the beautiful metaphor of gardening and how it relates to our hearts may be even more beneficial for me.

To realize that there is a season of dormancy, quiet work of developing the roots, hidden work of growing and forming and being formed. The actual fruit doesn't come until months sometimes even years later.

Another book I'm reading mentioned the benefits of pruning and how what seems painful can end up multiplying the beauty and benefits of the branches. Also, with Spring making appearances near us and trees starting to bud, leaf and bloom - it has been a visual reminder of new life and new growth.

This growth speaks of hope. It shows that there is still something living in those seemingly dead-looking branches. Life still flows through the veins and is emerging for another season of shade, beauty and provision.

Tender and delicate buds of daffodils are sleepily raising their heads from the earth that is beginning to warm in the sun and be watered by the rains that fall frequently this time of year. The fresh green that is new and light emerges from sticks of brown in tiny leaves beginning their season of outward growth. This is an important distinction as we remember that there is always work going on in the life of a plant - whether we see it on the outside or not.

God gives us seasons as well in the heart - seasons of quiet, inner, hidden work. Seasons of pruning. Seasons of outer growth and blooming. Seasons of rest. Seasons of harvest and fruitfulness.

I want the heavenly gardener to dig in the soil of my heart and cultivate these various seasons there. To have His way in the garden of my heart.

John 15:1-8

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Be Yourself

One thing that is obvious from being at Magnolia Market is all the little touches of beauty and style that are so "Joanna" - you know what I mean right? For example, these galvanized buckets with herbs and greens on each picnic table under the weathered barn roof. The colors, style and inviting touches all scream of her personality and the things she loves.

Side note: it was funny to notice so much of her style in how other guests were dressed at the Market! It's like a Joanna uniform - olive green and black/white stripes were quite common!

This idea of being yourself is one that I write about in my next book {announcement coming soon on this!} and is one that I am grateful my Mom cultivated in my growing up.

Magnolia Market is decorated with a theme each season and that carries through into the magazine as well. I love this wall just as you walk in with a message we all want and need to hear - being me is enough!

The newest issue of the magazine has a great article about authenticity and some journaling prompts that will be fun to walk through soon.

What does it mean to you to be yourself? I find that it is rather circumstantial how comfortable I feel in being truly myself. For example: I don't like to be watched or to think that other people are waiting on me, I like the solitary-ness of doing things quietly on my own and then sharing them with others in a way that is comfortable to me.

But on the other hand, I find it easy to say what I like/dislike as I have opinions about all the things! Joining the writing group this year has been another layer in learning to be myself. Sharing of who I am requires putting myself out there and being honest and vulnerable, real and open. It also invites me into the opportunity to care about these things in others - wanting to be known is great, but I should also remember to seek to know those around me in the same ways I want to be known.

What are some ways you stay true to yourself? How do you live out being authentic?

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Slow Day

My Heart Christ's Home
Illuminated Scripture Journal: Colossians
Nigel Slater's Apple Cake
The Green Ember

*Amazon links are affiliate links :)