The most extravagant new experience for me has been a long-awaited Caribbean cruise. It was exciting to see new places and to have a taste of cultures somewhat different than our daily American fare. Even getting to know the people aboard the cruise liner was exciting. Everyone had a story to tell, a tidbit of information that added to the novelty of the overall first-time cruise adventure. Because of this vacation, I experienced new people, new places, new food...new memories being made with my family.
I've also made some simple changes at home. I am spending a lot more time in my swing these days. Of an evening, I putter around with my few potted plants, and then I plop onto my swing and wile away the moments as the sun sets behind the trees. I am finding stillness and contentment in these moments, qualities that have been, at times, evasive for me. The real reason I am swinging is to spend more time in contemplation of the nearness of God. It's been exciting to me to become more conscious of the One Whose presence matters most to me. It's been a difficult, but wonderful change to cease the busyness of my life and practice mindfulness of the Holy Spirit of God. I have found that since I began seeking to listen to Him in these moments, I am more aware of Him throughout the day. This has special significance to me because I have often felt that I would get so caught up in my day that I wouldn’t be attentive to God’s presence, and I never want to have Him near without my acknowledging Him.
Another new experience has to do with what I’ve been cooking. I purchased a cookbook, Around the World on a Plate, with recipes for non-American dishes, and I have begun to cook those foods. It's been neat to taste a new mix of ingredients. I also purchased CD’s of cultural music from our Everything’s a Buck store to play during dinner, and I pick up the Wal-Mart cookies that give a taste from the other parts of the world to add to this culinary experience. I had begun cooking "tastes from around the world" last year, but I always adapted it to our Southern style of cooking. This time, I've tried to go completely authentic-or at least as authentic as the cookbook. The other new food adventure has involved cooking a few meals ahead and freezing them. I have particularly enjoyed a healthy apple muffin that I make in bulk and freeze. I double the recipe so I can freeze a bunch and have some fresh from the oven as well. I’ll share my recipe.
1 c. whole-wheat flour
1 c. all-purpose unbleached flour
1 tsp. baking powder & baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick butter
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
8 oz. (1 c) yogurt (flavored is fine)
2 large apples chopped
Optional: Add 1/2. nuts and 1/2 c. Craisins
Preheat oven to 450*. Grease 18 muffin cups. I also use other small shaped pans like the squares in a petit four pan. Cream butter, and sugars. Save a little brown sugar to sprinkle on top. Add egg. Mix in the yogurt; do not over beat. Mix it only until blended with other ingredients. Add the dry ingredients. Mix. Add the apples. Mixture is thick. Divide into muffin cups, sprinkle with brown sugar (I also add a little oatmeal to the tops of mine), Bake about 12-18 minutes until toothpick is clean. I eat these with fruit and yogurt when I want to start my day healthily.
This summer may not have begun the way summers of the past have started, but I am enjoying the new things it has to offer none-the-less.