Friday, September 19, 2014

The Only Anniversary I Celebrate

I'm a few days shy of the anniversary of my blog. If I were more patient and organized, I would wait until the 28th, however this is my blog and I'm going to do what I want. 

Four years of blogging. I remember writing my first post in my college dorm room, not really knowing how far this would go. I am really bad about finishing what I start, and something open ended like a blog is just an excuse waiting to happen. But here I am, four years later. I've been perusing old entries this morning and find myself smiling, remembering the various locations some were written, and more importantly I vividly recall how I felt as I penned every one. 

I may not be a brilliant writer, and I'm certainly not a great blogger, but I am so glad I do it. It is a joy for me to have a yearbook of sorts to catalog my process. To remember. To see how far and from where I've come. I started this blog in the crux of a confusing relationship that turned into a difficult breakup. I walked through a season of depression here. Many of my favorite quotes and books are littered throughout. I have written on here from North Carolina, Florida, Hawaii, Dallas, Bolivar and Kansas City. If you dig deeply enough there are some really attractive pictures in here too. But really what I see is Jesus coming into my reality, inconsistently and clumsily in my words but so faithfully in His presence. 

As I read my favorite blog this morning by Jami Nato, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for this obscure world of words. I have been able to share bits of life with this woman for six years, and although I have never actually interacted with her (and we both live in KC) I am grateful to have been a benefactor of her transparency. And I hope in some small way I have offered that to others. Even if I haven't though, I am still so glad I have done this for me. 

Jesus has become truer and dearer to me in the past few years than I ever thought possible. He is my consistent comforter, he directs me in an about face from my sin and into joy and gently reminds me of His care for me in the process, He gives me good gifts and hard realities. He is my companion and I hope to see Him as ever gooder and kinder and more trustworthy as the years go on. And this is where I place those thoughts to tumble around. 

I will leave you with the quote from my first post that inspired this whole mess. It still rings so true to my vision. I wish I had a glass of champagne (or better yet, a mimosa since it's 9 am) as I close to celebrate my insignificant-to-most-but-joyful-to-me anniversary. I'll pretend for now and just have two glasses later. 

"Spirituality is not about competency, it's about intimacy...Messy spirituality has the audacity to suggest that messiness is the workshop or authentic spirituality, the greenhouse of faith, he place where the real Jesis meets the real us."
-Mike Yaconelli


Cheers friends!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

We Are Womans

Given the opportunity, my mom will share two primary stories of my childhood. The time I told my kindergarten teacher that my dad had left us forever (he was only on a business trip, apparently I really craved the attention of my dinosaur of a teacher who smelled of cigarettes and stale coffee) and my Four Year Old Inquistion. With great curiosity one day, I turned to my mother and inquired, "Mom, are we womans?" 

I must applaud her for containing her raucous laughter. With almost all composure, she responded with equivalent dignity, "yes, Emilie, we are womans." What caused my great need to confirm this fact is a mystery. Maybe I felt slightly insecure with my child-version of the Hanson brothers haircut, or possibly I just wanted to hear that I belonged. 

Regardless, on occasion, I still find myself checking in. Not necessarily of my Woman-ness, but on the integrity of it. You see, I love being a girl. At times, even recently, I have robbed myself of some of that joy by allowing insecurity to override, but in general it is an absolute pleasure. Beth Moore recently reminded me that to be a woman (in reference to p31) is to be worthy of respect, and likewise to offer that to others. 

And that, dear hearts, is a job big enough in itself. Men fight their own bloody battle in the war of manhood, and we have to take some ownership of our fight. In my love of womanhood, I have often lived defeated under an umbrella of insecurity of women I thought better. I speak from experience when I say that no one benefits from creating a mental hierarchy of the women who surround us. It only leaves you on the bottom or top, both are lonely places to make a home. So here's the thing, we really can help each other in this and I wanted to share some of the ways we can. Even if this isn't your current or frequent battle, remember these for the sake of each other, because God knows we all need some allies. 

Also in theme with childhood moments, a montage of the Best (of the worst) Emilie Fashion Moments of 1993. 

-Stop comparing yourself. Stop Pinning quotes of this and just start doing it. We do ourselves and each other a great disservice and lose a lot of ground when we constantly mentally rank ourselves. Our time could be spent better. 

(I was a pumpkin for Halloween five times, mom made the costume and wanted her sweat equity out of it)

-Encourage one another. Be genuine and specific. We could all use more positive reinforcement, especially from people who we may feel threatened by. 

(I hope the black shoes distract you from my toe-headed mullet)

-Speak kindly of one another even when they're not around. We don't have to qualify our stories involving other girls if there is nothing but positive intent in telling it. 

(Why yes, I was the third child and those were all hand me downs....thank you for noticing)

-Know yourself. When you understand your likes and dislikes, preferences, inclinations, tendencies, it allows you to offer others the space to figure that out for themselves. It also enables you to pick out similarities or differences in them and enjoy them better for it. 

(I may not rock bed head-but at least I wore peplum 17 years before it was cool) 

These are things I'm finding helpful in my own day to day. There is room to laugh at ourselves and grace for mistakes with one another when we're not so afraid or feel the need to posture or extend ourselves past what is healthy. And that's what I'm after my friends, let's be the best damn womans we can be. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Juniper Rose Cupcakes

Few things in my life right now excite me quite like good food and good people. Except maybe good people who will talk with me about good food. So when my sister told me about a lovely new spice shop that opened in Brookside, Season and Square, I knew I needed to venture and drag my roommate, Olivia, with me. Not surprisingly, we spent an hour chatting with the owner, a delightful and inspiring woman. 

She introduced us to Dram Apothecary, a company that forages their own herbs/flora to concoct bitters and simple syrups that are earthy and ingenious. Not to mention that their lives are about traveling and picking flowers in order to make cocktails, I'm jealously swooning. My mother had passed along half a bottle of their Juniper Rose simple she had picked up on her own trip to Season. Her exhortation being to bake with it and tell her what to do. 

Discussing with my libation-savvy friend Andrew what would be a good companion for my new acquisition. We settled on cucumber, playing off the cocktail concept, and thus these cupcakes were born. They're different, really light and refreshing as opposed to being extremely sweet, which is how I prefer my pastry. However, I know my brother would be bewildered if I attempted to offer him something so obscure, to put it kindly. 

Juniper Rose Cupcakes with Cucumber Buttercream

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
12 tbsp unsalted butter (I am ardently against margarine ps....use the real stuff), room temp
1 1/4 cups white cane sugar
3 large eggs, room temp
1/4 cup Dram's Juniper Rose simple
1/4 cup gin 
1 cup tonic water (mine was flat, so I used Grapefruit La Croix, it worked splendid)
1/2 tsp rose extract (I tried 1 1/2, but it was a little too floral) 

Cucumber Buttercream
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
4-6 cups confectioners sugar 
1/3 cucumber puréed 
1/2 lime 

For the cake: 
-Preheat oven to the good ole 350
-Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and stir
-In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar
-Add one egg at a time, letting it come together before adding the next 
-Add in the simple, gin and rose extract 
-Be a good baker and add half the dry, followed by half the tonic, then the other halves, letting it blend in between.. I, however, am impatient and added it all at once. Don't do that.
-Fill 24 cupcake liners about 2/3 full and pop in the oven for 18 minutes
-Turn on US Youth Olympics while they bake 

For the buttercream:
-Puree the cucumber in a food processor or blender
-Combine butter and confectioners sugar to mixer and cream
-Slowly add cucumber purée to the mixture letting it blend
-Add more confectioners sugar as you see fit to get desired texture
-Zest and juice the lime and add to mixer

This buttercream was the bane of my existence. I went through and amalgama of cucumber, minced, juiced, simple syruped, before landing on purée as the best texture and flavor. If there is one thing I am well versed in at the moment, it's the different consistencies a cucumber can take on. For those who interacted with me on Sunday, I apologize, I don't normally smell like Larry the Cucmber's estranged cousin. 

I imagine these would be the most fitting at a tea or garden party, but in true fashion, I plopped down on the floor in my living room with a cup of coffee and downed it. I have no shame when it comes to pastry.