It was the perfect day for a top-down drive on one of our city's Dogwood Trails...and I just love the 'Polaroid' app on my phone.
Hope your Sunday was as blessed as ours...we dedicated four babies at Harvest today: our grandson Timothy, plus Ethan Cantrell, Gabbi Grace Cummins, and Jeremiah Bailey.
I'll post pictures of the Blessed Event soon!
Oh, that sweet, sweet face. Tuesday early morning, I was still under the covers waking up, when Poppy brought me a cuppa coffee and my grandson. There are no words for it! The sun was beginning to shine beautifully, dappling light through the trees, casting rays over the bedcovers and my walls. My window was open to let in the bird song, the coffee was hot, and grandson was snuggled under the blanket with me, smiling and "talking" to me - giving his mommy a few extra morning-minutes to herself.
It was like I was totally inside a "Folgers In Your Cup" coffee commercial.
We had found out the night before that our oldest boy has been meritoriously promoted this week (he is a Marine) and our youngest son had just left for his apprenticeship job...it was his first day. He is learning a trade as a part of his high school education, just as his brother did at his age. (Years ago, we made learning a trade mandatory, whether our sons were college bound or not. We felt it vital that every young man know how to do physical labor, with his own two hands, in addition to a college degree. That's just good character. "If you have not at least begun to learn a trade, you do not graduate from our home school..." that was the Atchley Tradition, and it has proven a wise one.)
So it was a fine morning, a milestone sort of morning, made all the finer by waking up to my grandson's sweet, sweet face. And a man who loves me bringing me both coffee and baby.
Folks, this is what it's like to be me these days. It just is. Don't hate on me for it. I'm not going to tell you I've "paid my dues". My family and friends would probably say that, because they are so good to me. But I don't look at it that way. Here is my take on it:
I'm living a dream I did not earn and do not deserve. God is true to His promises to me...that's all.
For many years, my roasts were hit-and-miss, and I never could figure out why. Some roasts turned out fork tender, others were tough. I tried various cuts of meat. I tried drenching the roast in whole bottles of Italian dressing. I tried the little packets of Lipton Onion Soup Mix. Still, some turned out, but most were ever so slightly tough.
Fork-tender is the goal. If it doesn't fall apart, it isn't a great roast dinner.
I am glad to be able to say that I have finally discovered the secret to a roast that "cuts like buttah..."
Don't overthink it. Don't hover. Provide plenty of liquid (I simply use water) and forget about it for hours.
Two words...if you remember just two words, you will never have another dry, tough roast, no matter what the cut of beef:
Low and slow. Low heat, sloooooooow cook. If it doesn't fall apart, it wasn't in your oven long enough. Just keep some water in with that roast, cover it, and forget about it, except to check the water level.
Step one: sear your meat, front, back, and sides. (I'm not sure what constitutes "front" and "back", but you can decide...)
Salt both sides generously - coarse salt. Please, please coarse salt, not table salt.
This is what a good sear looks like. I use my cast iron skillet for the whole thing, from start to finish, from stove top to oven. Get the skillet screaming hot, and plop the roast onto it.
I love that sound.
After a couple of minutes, take your tongs, and sort of jiggle it. If it doesn't release from the pan, leave it. I know...it's scary. Trust me. Leave it another minute and come back at it with your tongs. When it has seared properly, it will release from the bottom of the pan pretty easily.
Some will take issue with me on this, but I add my herbs at this point, after the sear. I might use a sprinkling of thyme, or, like today, I might do Herbs De Provence...
My herbs did come from Provence, really and for true! A friend of mine went to France, and sent this to me, (along with some lavender...no one does lavender like the French!) and I use it generously on my roasts.
After you sear, after you add your herbs, fill the pan 1/2 way up the sides with water, and add as many potatoes and carrots as you can fit in the space around the roast. I also add garlic cloves and rough-cut onion...
Cover it and cook it how? Low and slooooooooow. (Note to self: clean the oven. Ahem.) Set your temp to 300 (or even 275) and walk away. Walk away for a very long time. Three hours isn't enough. Four hours, maybe.
I wish I had a shot of the finished product, but the family was so hungry, I didn't dare make them wait. I promise, it was fork tender and really good.
Remember - if it doesn't fall apart, it wasn't cooked long enough. Don't be afraid to leave that hunk of meat in there for hours and hours...just make sure it doesn't cook dry, and you'll have a roast so yummy, it'll make your granny proud.
This past Saturday, Tim-the-Tool-Man-Husband finally had time to wire and hang it in my dining room! It is a sparkly gorgeous work of art, and the quality of the light in that room is exactly what I have been longing for. On the cloudiest day (we had storms here in East Tennessee this afternoon) my dining room looks like a clear, sunny summertime morning.
Beautiful, bright, crisp light. A must for me, in this season of my life.
Take a look:
I think rooms are not complete without something old and scuffed, paired with something fancy and shiny. Yin and Yang. Leather and Lace. Pearls and Jeans. Marrying the opposite textures creates such interest, whether in fashion or interior design.
My floors are (purposefully) worn and scuffed oak. My table is an oak antique. And on the wall, I have two sunburst-style grapevine wreaths. The sparkle of the girly chandelier balances out the scuffed masculinity of the wood and the grapevine. Walls are the white neutral backdrop that I have come to require.
"Hey baby, he's my handyman..."
(In the corner, behind the pocket parrot's cage, is a walnut room divider...put there to add warmth and texture.) All this room needs now is the right area rug, and a rustic, beautiful bird cage. With the right finishing touches, this will be the French/Swedish/Gustavian/Ecclectic/Undecorated look I've been going for.
I told you Hannah is a gifted designer.
Well, it sort of had to be today. Why today, I honestly don't know.
There has to be some name for it - this disorder I seem to have that puts me at the utter mercy of my impulses. I was dressed like I was running errands for Old McDonald's Farm. I was having a bad hair day. There was no rhyme nor reason for my sudden urge to keep my promise to show you this bird cage...right now.
No rhyme, no reason....and no camera. I didn't have my SLR. Just my camera phone.
I know, right? Oh well. Come with me to Cachepot - a completely lovely and unusual floral/garden design shop. It is tucked into the corner-end of a row of other unique and special shops, on Kingston Pike in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Here is what you see, when you first walk in: Moody lighting. Swedish/Gustavian inspired whites, creams, grays and the barest kisses of blue. This is a tablescape that sits between the bare branched trees...notice how another chair is used on top of the table, to add height to the display.
Turn to your left, and this is what you see:
(Ignore scary looking woman, who looks like she is running farm errands. She is not for sale.) This mirror...well, words fail me. Warning: "beautiful" is going to be an overused adjective in this post.
Turn to your right, and this is what you'll see:
Be. Still. My. Heart. Do you see the birdcage? (With yellow orchids in it...) The most-visited post on this blog is my post on real bird cages, used as a design element (a couple thousand views and counting). I love this cage so much, I wish I could date it. If I weren't already married to the Preacher, I'd marry it. And the framed letters on the wall behind it?
Please note: I am saving the best for last. As pretty as this cage is, it isn't "the one". I'll show you the birdcage I promised to show you at the end, here. Hang with me.
More letter love...and a look at the birdcage roof...
...and the glass wall pockets, filled with orchids... ...and the chair with the beautiful plate and bird bath filled with the beautiful glass wall pockets - those wall pockets that are just waiting to be hung in my house and filled with my favorite flowers. The whole thing? Yes, please. I'll take all of it. I'll even take that cracked concrete floor. It is all perfect.
I think this wants to be tucked in the corner of my future office/sewing room. With my pink wool snood around its neck.
...and you can purchase flowers and flower arrangements here. This is the flower 'fridge. I was told it was spare pick'ins today, but I still thought this was...beautiful.
::cough:: I warned you about my use of that word.
But wait. There's more. I'm serious. There's more hydrangeas. They go all the way around that corner you see there... ...more flowers. I think these were going to be used in some arrangements that someone had ordered.
Stop laughing. I'm a preacher's wife. We don't break rules and tell people about it. (I really didn't go back there. Promise. But I wanted to...because I'm curious like that.)
Can you even stand the un-Photo-Shopped beauty of the deep green, and the creamy-white hydrangea, popping against all that pale neutral beautifulness? And all that glass...vignettes like this were everywhere.
Would you like a mini orchid? I am going back for one or forty-seven of these. Maybe a gray wool-felt cachepot is more to your liking? What about all those aged, rusted corroded wire thingeys? It is all for sale. Trust me - rusted corroded aged wire thingeys are all the rage. I have some. I want some more. The "greenhouse" in the center of the shop - full of orchids, ferns, vines and several other varieties of plants. Note: rusted, aged, corroded metal.
And now. The part you've all been waiting for. The most beautiful (real) birdcage ever. Anywhere. Ever, ever.
Are you ready?
Are you sure?
Are you sitting down? (Okay, I'll stop.)
If you were standing inside the greenhouse, this is the birdcage on the opposite wall.
Here is one view of the cage...
...and from the other side...
...a close up... And just one more, for good measure:
Thanks for stopping by. I hope you have enjoyed our visit to Cachepot in Knoxville, as much as I enjoyed my impulsive photo shoot.
I arrived feeling harried and a bit scurried with a lot on my Preacher's Wife Mind. I left feeling tranquil. I realized, as I drove home, that I was humming "Somewhere Over the Rainbow".
How many places do that for you?
5508 Kingston Pike
Knoxville, Tennessee 37919
Did you realize that, by grace, God decided - long ago! before the foundation of the world! - that you would be holy and without blame before Him, as an object of His love?
Before you could have ever worked a righteous work, before you could perfect your own holiness, before you could sin, sweat, or be sincere, God had already decided that you will be loved and holy and blameless. Your sins were forgiven at the cross. The anger of God was spent on the cross. Jesus took the whole penalty - not just part of it.
How do we react to this good news? How do we receive it? With deep, humble thanks. Your sins...all of them....were forgiven, when Christ was crucified on your behalf.
How do you live and walk in this good news? You get in a church that preaches the gospel. Where grace is preached in all its glory. Week by week, day by day, you sit under the full and true preaching and teaching of the gospel, and over time, your mind becomes renewed. The truth of your "so great a salvation" will begin to affect more than your destiny. It will begin to deeply affect your day.
When you renew your mind in the truth of your inheritance, the truth of your utter freedom from the condemnation that comes with the law, Ephesians 1 will blow your mind. I'm in love with it...I've been in it (for the fiftieth time) for two days already. Enjoy!
...He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace,which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence...
Friends - this is called "The Finished Work of Christ". Grace plus nothing. If you renew the spirit of your mind in these truths, your foot cannot be moved off of them. You will live securely. You will live so abundantly and sacrificially and joyfully.
You come to Christ through Grace Plus Nothing, and in time, God will fashion you into a son or daughter that walks in Grace Plus Everything. When we come through the one, the narrow door, by grace through faith, we get all of Him on the other side.
He is our sanctification. All of Him, none of us. Such a glorious unbalanced stunning exchange. I long for the Good News of the Gospel to actually be the Good News God means for it to be. He entrusted it to those first apostles, and it behooves us to get back to the things they taught about the New Covenant, salvation, grace, and our response to the love of God.
This is the way-cool baby swing I told you about. (I'm hoping this YouTube video embeds properly!) This is Jeremiah Bailey's swing - called "The Mama Roo Swing". It can play your music from your ipod, and the movement of this swing is amazing...specially designed to soothe babies.
My, how times have changed.
24 years ago when my twin girls were born, it was a big advance to have one of the first battery powered infant swings. And I did have one. One. It was purchased gently used and given to me, a gift from our then-pastor's wife Sandi Fatow. The other was also a gift, a wind-up model. Those two little swings sat, side by side, in our tiny living room, for months. I used them every single day, as you could well imagine....two babies, with no one available to help consistently. Those swings were my lifeline.
Three cheers for technology! Here's hoping this sweet, amazing swing will give Jeremiah hours of entertainment and great napping...all while NOT playing those annoying, mechanized, computerized baby ditties.