The Five Thousand

Just yesterday the Biblical story of Jesus feeding the five thousand was twice brought to my mind. First, in the Lenten Devotional I am reading – Bitter & Sweet by Tsh Oxenreider – the author asked the reader to reflect on the painting The Five Thousand by Eularia Clark.

1962

From Methodist.co.uk

Eularia Clarke sets the feeding of the five thousand in modern dress and follows Matthew’s account in which women and children are present. The multitude has sat down in the grass, as Jesus requested, and is eating, not the fish and bread referred to in the Bible but, as in so much of Clarke’s work, a twentieth Century equivalent, fish and chips. The scene is more reminiscent of a church picnic than the biblical miracle. Tea is brewing in the lower right corner, bicycles and footballs are discarded, children and babies are remarkably well behaved, some people doze, others pay attention to the priest – or Jesus (whose head and shoulders are uncomfortably cut off by the edge of the painting). The artist said: ‘I daren’t paint Christ, I put in a pulpit, the priest is reading the notices before the sermon.’


I haven’t been able to stop pondering this gorgeous painting since seeing it for the first time yesterday morning. The rich patterns of the women’s head-coverings, the varied ages of the multitude, the casual nature of an outdoor picnic. Just a lovely image to ponder.


Later, yesterday afternoon, after our church’s well attended 5pm service our hospitality minister was certain we would run out of food for our post-service meal, only we didn’t! I later bumped into her in the kitchen, “that was a miracle, I did not cook enough food for all those people!”

I’m dubious that it was an actual miracle, and perhaps more of a rationing situation with good PR, but regardless, it was a reminder of this wonderful story we find in the Bible.


To be quite honest I’ve never loved the story of the Feeding of the Multitude. I find it too hard to believe; but then again, so is the gospel sometimes.

And how much more of a miracle is boundless, endless heavenly grace than some earthly fish and bread? Forgiveness for everyone and generous love for all is a miraculous gift! The miracle of the Gospel can often feel like a fish-tale, too good to be true. And yet, something inside me continues to believe. The gift of faith keeps me ever clinging to the mercy of God. A feast for many more than five thousand, the promised Feast of the Lamb is for everyone!

Cheers,

Jen

Texas Sheet Cake, a taste of childhood

As I mentioned yesterday, today we’ve been hit with a wintery storm. Snow, sleet, rain, and wind all included. One upside is that we’re enjoying our fireplace once more today!


The wintery weather made us stay home today, which meant I had ample time to bake!

I’ve been on an almond kick lately and finally switched it up with a childhood classic – Texas Sheet Cake!

Pecans, the state tree of Texas are a nonnegotiable addition IMO

There are many great things that come from Texas (this list somehow leaves out Blue Bell Ice Cream?), and this cake is right up there with them. A school cafeteria classic, it was a mainstay in my upbringing. Church potlucks, birthday parties, cake-walks, FFA stock show competitions, and a game I once played at a local Tractor Pull that I’ll attempt to explain.

Basically a grid was laid out in a pen with a heifer in it, you could buy a square and if/when the cow pooped in your square you won a cake. I’m not kidding, this is a real game I once took part in!

Today I made a NYTimes recipe, primarily because it features one of my favorite fellow Texans, Priya Krishna. My one tweak, I used the standard buttermilk, not sour cream.


I was salivating as I baked this cake, and you better believe I licked the bowl clean; totally worth the risk of eating raw eggs!

Part of what makes this cake so unique is the addition of buttermilk, an item I usually don’t have on hand. Since you usually have to buy it in 1/2 gallons it’s fun to find other ways to use it up. Today I made homemade buttermilk ranch dressing, and later this week I’ll use it to make another great Texan dessert.: Buttermilk Pie!

Have a sweet Saturday,

Jen

Spring + a short playlist

Albemarle County has just dipped into the CDC “medium risk” aka no masking required level which throughly excites me. As a long time mask hater, (but vax lover!) I am thrilled to think about returning to church without a mask. Church being pretty much the only place I was still required to wear one.

Tomorrow is supposed to be very cold and wet, a not-so-subtle reminder that we’re still in the season of winter, but the great number of warm days has been such a treat.

The fact that I found ranunculuses (my favorite flower) at my local Trader Joe’s tells me spring is well underway.


Today is mine and Robbie’s 5 year anniversary! We’re not doing anything big to celebrate – just dinner at Marigold – but while the celebration may be small, the love is big! Looking at these photos from our wedding 5 years ago is so so sweet, but knowing soon we’ll be a family of three is even sweeter!

Today has me looking way less formal than I did at our wedding 5 years ago. Much of today I’ve spent working, doing some chores, nesting (I ordered our stroller!), and reading a book: At Home by Bill Bryson.

the bump ❤️

Now, as promised a playlist!

I’ll be adding to this as I find songs that fit the mood. I’d love some new recommendations – please tell me what you’ve been listening to!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

xoxo

Jen

Things making me happy

Just a list of fun things making me happy these days! I’m at week 32 of pregnancy and moral is low! Mood swings are V real and annoying. Sleep isn’t great. And nesting / getting the nursery ready feels like it’s moved from whimsical and fun to *panic*!

Thankfully my parents will be here next week! Plus our shower will be happening on the 18th so everything will come together soon, but for today I just need a list of everything making me happy!

1. My new Soda Stream!

2. Lots of quality time with friends

3. The blooming daffodils

4. My cats

5. Our 5th year anniversary is this Friday!

6. Blueland laundry tabs and oxi booster powder!

7. The book At Home from Bill Bryson

8. My new makeup haul from Honest Beauty

9. The Lenten devotional Bitter & Sweet by Tsh Oxenreider.

10. Warm days! ☀️

Xoxo

Jen

Alice Waters + Wal-mart

We currently find ourselves in the season of Lent, the 40 46 days leading up to Easter, the day we celebrate the resurrected Christ. Lent is typically associated with fasting, although almsgiving and prayer are longstanding Lenten traditions as well.

For myself this year I decided to give up processed foods and to try and put good thought in to where my foodstuffs originate. I was heavily inspired by Alice Waters and her cookbook The Art of Simple Food. In this book, on the back cover she has written out her food rules. I made a poster to hang in my kitchen as a reminder of them.

To celebrate my newfound passion for slow, local, organic foods I decided to throw a dinner party. Tonight I’ll be making Carla Lalli Music’s Fat Noodles with Pan-Roasted Mushrooms and Crushed Herb Sauce and Alice Water’s Almond Cake.

I set out making my pre-dinner plan on Thursday. I wrote out my usual notes: to-do’s, what I need to buy, time table for cooking, house-work chores to be done before people come over.

At the top of my to-do list was farmer’s market. This was key to having a true Alice Water’s dinner party experience.

So, this morning (Saturday morning) Robbie and I headed out to our local farmer’s market. I was so excited to support local farmers and to stick to my Lenten Goals. Only, it was a dud. Winter is obviously a tough time for produce, and I knew that going in. I had thought to shop seasonally but other than some great mushrooms we were sorely let down by the pickings at the market.

No matter, I would go to a local health food market I had heard friends talk about. This would help me buy organic, avoid Whole Foods (another goal of mine after reading this article), and – I thought – avoid plastic and shop locally. This was not the case. This store was very well stocked, but the prices were insane — for products that still had plastic containers and didn’t come from anywhere local.

We walked out empty handed and I dropped Robbie off. I was headed to Wal-mart.

Frustratingly they didn’t have quite everything I needed, but they did have almost everything.

Would I go back to Wal-mart for my future Lenten shopping?

No probably not – but I do find the whole situation hilarious, and slightly infuriating.

Robbie and I had a great talk later as I was expressing my annoyance. He reminded me that I can’t singlehandedly fight corporations or avoid all plastic, some of that falls on the manufacturers. But I can control what I put in my body.

In order of importance, what I put in my body trumps where that food comes from. A good reminder for when I am feeling like I have to stick to a strict ideology.

It’s also just a great reminder of the futility of Lenten Fasting; the goal is not perfection, only to point out my imperfection and need of a savior.

No one, not even Alice Waters, could ever attain true perfection. As much as I’d like to live my life like Saint Waters, at my base I am a Wal-mart shopper.

California Trip | February 2022

Back home after a wonderful trip to Southern California. It took me a couple days to share any more photos or updates because 1) I was tired and jet lagged and 2) I wanted to post on my new WordPress Blog!

I wanted to move away from Micro.blog because, as simple and easy as it is, (and I still recommend it for folks,) I decided I’d rather have even less “social” interaction online. I wanted a space that’s mine and mine alone.

So, my debut post on my new site will be a variety of photos showcasing the time we had in OC! Enjoy!

Coffee in San Clemente
Mural outside our motel, Casablanca Inn, San Clemente
Lunch at In-N-Out in Costa Mesa. This exact booth is where Robbie and I had our first date 5+ years ago!
I wish I could include the wonderful fragrance of the orange blossoms! Taken outside the Packing House in Anaheim.
Frozen Lemonade Slush at Modern Times, Anaheim
Mockingbird Magazines proudly on display at Bad Coffee, Costa Mesa
Also, a book of sermons from my Pastor Paul Walker

Loved the baby poster. I look forward to taking baby Etta out with us to breweries in the future!
Last night in town. Drinks with friends at Green Cheek, Costa Mesa

South Orange County | Memory Lane

We spent Wednesday driving around South OC exploring our old neighborhood. We saw the school I used to work at, we had coffee with a friend, drove past our old apartment & [@robertsapunarich](https://micro.blog/robertsapunarich)’s childhood home, lunch at our favorite place – Board and Brew, bought some Trader Joe’s brand liquor to bring back with us, drove through Trabuco Canyon, and walked Lake RSM. Then, an evening by the fire with friends. Catching up has been so nice! We all remarked on how natural it felt to chat after years apart. Sometimes it’s nice to skip the “so… tell me, what have you been up to for the past two years?” and just skip to the familiar companionship of being old friends. It’s been cold and wet here, but in the afternoon it was so clear we could see all the way to Catalina Island.

Thankful for some wonderful meals with friends the past couple of days. I’m excited to leave bright and early tomorrow for a combo Texas + California trip but in my heart I’m already looking forward to being back home in Charlottesville ❤️

Started Simplicity Parenting this morning and, after getting about 15 pages in, I can already say I think I’m going to be very moved by it! | “Every stage in a family’s evolution can benefit from a little more space and grace, a little less speed and clutter.”