Spring Cleaning

During our Snow Day, we decide to attempt some much needed Spring Cleaning. The girls’ bedrooms feel light and airy with so much taken out to donate or throw away. Clothes now too small, projects not important enough to save, and supplies scattered now rest elsewhere.

We make room for fresh creativity. We create space for new clothing, new art projects, and even new design features. I love Spring Cleaning because of what it ushers in.

Even though snow falls outside, I think of planting indoor seeds next month and how I’ll fling wide the doors to let in the fresh air. As we haul out the bags of old clothes and projects, I think of what’s coming next now that we’ve made room in our spaces and in our minds.


If It’s Snow We’re Having

I put the vegetable dip in the Christmas bowl. I light all the candles. I turn up the heat. I even play a Christmas song. If it’s snow we’re having, let’s just embrace it. Let’s go all the way into watching holiday movies, sipping hot chocolate, and finding our warmest winter pajamas.

On this first day of spring that serves up snow and a darker, colder day, I decide to take it all in.



A Single Ant Who Comes to Visit Me

Every time I sit down to write at my computer, a tiny ant arrives to visit me. I’ve noticed this for a week now. I don’t eat up here, so there’s no food for this ant. And it’s never more than just this one ant.

It’s so strange. It’s whimsical.

I sit down to finish a project with my husband. We’re at the computer, and I say, “Just wait, my ant will come visit me–the single ant.” Sure enough, the ant arrives. I have a witness.

Sometimes I wonder about the natural, created world and the intelligence of insects that we simply cannot fathom.


All the Jamaican Spices

My daughter brought me two items I wanted from the market in Jamaica: coffee and spices for cooking. She purchased spices for Jerk Chicken, Jamaican Pumpkin Soup (a recipe involving chicken feet–I’ll use chicken breasts), and Rice and Peas. I’m excited to try new recipes with new flavors and report back to you. I’m thrilled that many of the Jamaican recipes I’m exploring involve coconut milk.

If you look at websites with recipes for Jamaican dishes, you can explore along with me.

Of all the meals I’ve cooked in the last 18 years, I’m excited to try this new adventure in Jamaican cooking.


Another Great Question to Ask Your Children

I have a friend who reminds me so much of my sixteen year old daughter. I decide to ask this wonderful friend what helped her connect so well with her mother–especially since the two have such a great relationship now in adulthood.

She tells me to ask my daughter to “tell me a story” about her day. It’s such a simple question: “Do you have a story about your day?” She loved it when her mom would ask her this question.

Something about inviting children of any age to tell you a story of something that happened to them makes them feel less stressed out, less interrogated, and less closed off. It’s a non-judgmental question, too. And I’m learning that everyone likes to tell a good story.

I plop down on her bed while she’s getting ready for work, and I ask, “Do you have a good story about your day so far?”

My friend also reminds me to let my daughter share as many details as she wants because, to her, they matter to the story. I’m normally telling my teen to “get to the point” or “bottom-line it” but that just shuts her down and harms our connection.

So I ask for the story.

And then, I hear all the great stories. 

She feels loved, and I feel connected.


When Your Southern Husband Cooks Dinner

My husband announced that he will cook dinner tonight since he has southern barbecue defrosting from the freezer–sent home from North Carolina. I imagine we’ll have barbecue sandwiches with maybe some fruit. Oh, no. I’m told he’ll fry hushpuppies, serve “slaw” and whip up some southern potato dish.

My favorite thing about today is the promise of hushpuppies. 

While I’m trying to fully inhabit my Pennsylvania life and perfect my Philly Cheesesteak recipe, I have a husband frying hushpuppies to serve with barbecue and slaw.



When All the Socks Find Their Match

It was a small moment: I folded the fresh, warm load of laundry on our bed. Something about folding laundry and putting it away makes me happy; it’s one project completed in a day full of long projects with looming deadlines.

And then, the scattered socks–blue, brown, patterned, and white–all found their matches. It was a moment of order and satisfaction.

And I was thankful for even socks matching.


Thankful for Lunch

I often go back to the original concept for Live with Flair: to find the meaningful and beautiful thing in an otherwise ordinary day. I wrote every day to cultivate a thankful, joyful heart. I wrote in order to pause, to notice, and to record.

I’m in my office at Penn State, and I pause. I’m so thankful for the smell of a freshly peeled orange I brought for lunch. I’m so thankful for the warm soup in my thermos on this rather cold day. Thank you, God! Thank you for oranges and my thermos and corn and celery. Thank you for parsley and minced onion and thyme!

For just a moment, my heart sang.


If I Would Have Tweeted

I honestly try to have more of an author presence on social media, but I find myself laughing at myself each time. I’m so sorry! I hope I haven’t let you down. It’s just that, if I did tweet, it would go something like this:

Happy that Leo the cat was miraculously found! Yeah, neighborhood. #neighborhood #missingcatfound

I cut a mango today. I love ripe mango because it makes me feel like I’m vacationing in the tropics. #mango

I’m editing my Chosen for Christ manuscript. Did you know you omit the hundreds digits for the closing page numbers in your endnote citations? So you would say 110-12 instead of 110-112. Yeah, Chicago style! #editing

We finished the raspberry lemonade cake. I’m making hamburgers tonight. We stuff blue cheese into our hamburgers and bake them on a foil-lined pan. We always have hamburgers on Monday night. It’s a thing. #hamburgersonMonday

I really love Jesus, and I think about Him all day long. #Jesus

I watched Taylor Swift’s Delicate video twice, and I love it. But I’d never say that on Twitter because haters gonna hate. #ILoveHer.

I’m excited to watch American Idol tonight. See above for explanation about why I don’t mention this. #Shhhhh.

So now you know why I have a hard time posting. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll tweet something.