Prayer Flag Quilt

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been slowly getting back at sewing, making some progress on my Wonky Log Cabin quilt blocks and other things.  Perhaps it’s the cold weather bringing me indoors and wanting to curl up.  Perhaps it’s my wanting to get rid of things in my house and use them up.  No matter what, I’m feeling like I want to gain some closure in general.

That being said, just before Thanksgiving, I sent a text message to my mom asking if she had her sewing machine set up at home.  And, success, she did.  So, I grabbed my prayer flag layer cake and charm pack (I still love this fabric line) and took it to my parents house over Thanksgiving.  I decided to use the Meandering Path quilt pattern from Moda Bake Shop.  This is the same quilt pattern I used to make my Christmas quilt a few years ago, and I remember sewing that together in a snowstorm, so I knew it sews together fairly quickly — not too much cutting with this pattern and a great showcase of the variation of fabrics in the layer cake.

So, on the day after Thanksgiving, rather than getting up at the crack of dawn to go shopping, I woke up and started to cut the fabric for the quilt.  Then, I spread the quilt out and walked away.  Friday night I went to start sewing it together and my mom stepped in to assist me.  How lucky am I that she was willing to do that?

Saturday morning I woke up and finished sewing it together — an experienced quilter could pretty easily put the top together in half a day.  An inexperienced quilter could easily put it together in the course of  a day or two — the pattern takes so little cutting — after the initial cutting of the fabric, you’re done!

This was an excellent return to quilting.  And, I left there with a top that is finished 🙂

meandering path prayer flag quilt


Vanilla Cardamom Pear Pie

For Thanksgiving, my dad and I decided we were doing the majority of the cooking this year.  Like often happens, my aunt and uncle who live close by came up to my parents house and we had a great time together.  We always end up talking about people in the area and as I’ve gotten older, I appreciate more and more the genealogy aspects we explore, so I appreciate things increasingly.

On Wednesday morning, I realized I’d left the pie crusts at my place, but luckily my parents had anticipated this problem.

Anyhoo, this year we decided to move away from the traditional pumpkin or pecan pies, which, although we love them, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to continue to move through some other favorite pies.  A few years ago I was on a kick with this pie recipe and realized I don’t have it written down anywhere.  The milk, eggs, chocolate blog has a lot of great recipes, and before the blog goes away, I wanted to make sure the recipe was in my list of recipes.  I decided to make vanilla cardamom pear pie.

Remember how I shared that I forgot the pie crusts?  Well, I also forgot the cardamom, and that’s not a spice my parents keep on hand.  I considered going up to the store to get it, but my commute had increased significantly due to heavy snow in my hometown (8 inches throughout the morning) and the mile to the grocery store just didn’t feel worth it.  So, in this situation, I substituted the cardamom with cinnamon.  Both are great.  The original (modified) recipe is below.

I’ve also made a few adjustments in order to accommodate for ingredients I had.  Check out the pie crust recipe over on the milk, eggs, chocolate blog.  While I didn’t use it this time, it has worked quite well in the past.

Cardamom Pear Pie

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Turkey Gravy

gravy 2It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and while we have enough leftovers for a couple of meals, I think by Saturday, we’ll be pretty well knocked out on our leftovers.  Except, perhaps, for the gravy.  And the turkey broth.

I’m going to let out a little secret here: we tend to do our cooking ahead of time as much as possible.  We made our turkey on Wednesday (it helps to prevent the mess of carving the turkey at the table on Thanksgiving itself) and with snow coming down like crazy, my dad also made some turkey stock at my request.  In the delegation of the holiday cooking, I had volunteered to make the gravy.  It’s one of the items that people get most anxious about making on the Thanksgiving table because of recollections of lumpy gravy at one point or another in history.

Last week, I was driving through Colorado and listening to an episode of Science Friday (I had forgotten how much I loved that show) where they were discussing the science of some of the best-loved holiday dishes.  One item they discussed was the gravy.  And adding soy sauce to the gravy.  So, I was on the search for a recipe that included soy sauce.  I ended up finding one over on the Serious Eats web site which looked appealing enough to try out.  I used the turkey stock my dad had made after cooking off the turkey and when I told him I was using soy sauce, he was pretty skeptical.  But, the day ended with him asking me for the recipe, so I think we found ourselves in a good place.  In fact, he wouldn’t admit it, but I think we was waiting to freeze the rest of the stock until he knew it had turned out, but after the first batch was done, I had some strong encouragement to make a second batch (hence the leftover gravy).  I made a couple of modifications based on the suggestions from comments in the recipe.

turkey gravy

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Happy Thanksgiving

This prayer hangs in my dining room and on a week like this one, it feels especially important.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

To those who hunger give bread and to those who have bread give the hunger for justice.

To those who hunger give bread and to those who have bread give the hunger for justice.


The Ferguson grand jury verdict was made public last night.  Like many others, I am having many reactions to this event and am unhappy with the lack of indictment.  I am hopeful that we, as a country, and as humanity, use this as a catalyst for change.  Yet, I am not yet able to give voice to my entire reaction.

I saw a quote today which has stuck with me throughout the day:

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Additionally, our chaplain (who is amazing) shared a prayer at our vigil for peace earlier today which continues to bounce around in my head of which I want to take note:

May our eyes remain open even in the face of tragedy.
May we not become disheartened.
May we find in the dissolution of our apathy and denial, the cup of the broken heart.
May we discover the gift of the fire burning in the inner chamber of our being — burning great and bright enough to transform any poison.
May we offer the power of our sorrow to the service of something greater than ourselves.
May our guilt not rise up to form yet another defensive wall.
May the suffering purify and not paralyze us.
May we endure; may sorrow bond us and not separate us.
May we realize the greatness of our sorrow and not run from its touch or its flame.
May clarity be our ally and wisdom our support.
May our wrath be cleansing, cutting through the confusion of denial and greed.
May we not be afraid to see or speak our truth.
May the bleakness of the wasteland be dispelled.
May the soul’s journey be revealed and the true hunger fed.
May we be forgiven for what we have forgotten and blessed with the remembrance of who we really are.
–The Terma Collective


When we lose a student

Tonight we had a celebration of life service for a first year student who was in an accident four weeks ago.  As a member of our programming board, I was asked to speak on behalf of staff and faculty.

I wanted to share my remarks.  They don’t seem like enough, and yet, they were.

I can hardly believe that four weeks ago this afternoon we received the news that Connor had passed away.  I know that each of us received the news in different ways and have spent the last four weeks trying to understand it.  I was driving back from visiting family and was at a gas station in Illinois when I received a phone call.  John shared the name of the student who had passed away and it took me a minute to think about the different Connors within the first year class before I realized that this was the Connor I was hearing about in PAAC meetings and from Jackson.  I shared the information I had with John, hung up the phone, called my mom and started crying.

Like many of in the room, I didn’t know Connor very well.  He was just starting to make his mark on campus and we were just learning who he was going to be on our campus and beyond.  On move in day, I remember Jackson sharing that someone from his high school was coming here and he was going to help him get involved with PAAC.  At one point, I saw them talking for fifteen minutes or so and I told Jackson there would be plenty of time to get to chat moving forward; translation: talk with some other new students as well.  And, yet, now I’m sure several of us are thinking back to moments when we wish we had been able to start or finish a conversation with Connor.

When someone like Connor is lost in our community, the impact is real and profound.  It’s in these moments that we think back to what could have been and question why it happens.  And, unfortunately, there are no answers.  I have spoken with some of Connor’s faculty from his short time here and what was shared over and over was Connor’s potential.  And, I think for those of us who had the opportunity to get to know him even a little, this was evident.  We are reminded of this thinking back to the stories we’ve heard already and the stories we will hear throughout this evening’s service.  We are further reminded of this as we look at the photos on the front of this program.  Connor’s wit, sass, and vibrance are present even within the photographs.  Whether appointing himself with a position, co-emceeing events during Homecoming Week, or sharing in other meetings, Connor was starting to make his mark on our community.

And, that’s why this is even more of a challenge.  It makes this loss less understandable.  When we lose someone who is a member of our campus community, the loss is hard to measure.  It’s expressed in so many different ways.  For some of us, we’ve lost too many people who are close to us and this loss reminds us of others who are no longer with us.  For others, this is the first time we’ve lost someone who we knew, had class with, or passed on the sidewalk.  Our levels of comfort and discomfort vary.  We don’t always know what to do with the reactions we are having.  Yet, this is okay.  As hard as it is to know this, we each get to react in the ways we need to react.

These are the moments that we remember that as much as the campus is a series of buildings and snow and sunshine, it’s also a community.  It’s made up of each of us individually.  We cannot deny the fact that each member of the campus community is vital.  I know we are here to celebrate Connor and the impact he made on our campus, but I would be somewhat remiss if I neglected to be at least a little bit academic.  My research looks at the ways in which we create a sense of space and place on campus.  As I was working on a literature review this weekend, I came across some research which indicates that as much as we want the campus to be the physical spaces, each person provides an opportunity to interact, challenge our beliefs, assumptions, and represents how we understand our community.  Our humanity is recognized by our relationships with one another.  In class.  In the dining hall.  In this space, in meetings, in residence halls.  We cannot ignore the importance of our relationship with one another in this experience of our campus.  As we look around this chapel and move through our days, there will be so many moments when we are reminded of Connor and look around to tell him something.  And in those moments, we will remember that he’s missing.  We’ll take note of that absence and the way that this space has changed for those of us still here.

A loss like this one is hard to understand.  In these four weeks, so much has happened.  We’ve finished and begun another block.  We’ve had events.  We’ve ended relationships and started others.  Perhaps we’ve met someone we didn’t know before and our lives have been profoundly changed.  Even the weather has changed.  This reminds me of this quote from Anne Lamott, “You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved.  But this is also the good news.  They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up.  And you come through.  It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly – that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”

As we take this time to remember Connor and think about how we continue to move forward, I encourage us to think about the ways that individuals create our Cornell experience and that we acknowledge those who create our sense of place.  And, as the weather gets cold, let us learn to dance.

Chai Banana Cake

Are you noticing a banana theme?  I obviously had some bananas in the freezer that needed to be used up and rather than the usual banana bread or banana bars, which are delicious, I wanted to experiment and find ways to use other items in the cupboards.

I was looking for a banana something and came across this cake recipe from the spoon, fork, bacon site.  It looked like the recipe I knew I wanted to make, so I decided to go for it.  I was using a chai mix that I had received as a fit, and in hindsight, wish that I had used the chai tea from the store instead.  But, I’ll try this again in the future.  Another reason I loved it?  It gave me a chance to use the great oval dish I bought last spring at an antique store!

Chai Banana Cake

2 1/4 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 c whole milk (I used fat free half and half that was in the refrigerator)
1 Tbsp chai
3 medium ripe bananas
1/2 c butter, softened
1 c light brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325.  Pour milk and chai into a saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Remove from heat and steep for 20 minutes, later discarding the chai.  In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time.  Stir in vanilla and other spices.  Add the milk, bananas, and flour and stir together until combined.
Grease an 8×8 baking dish, oval baking dish, or bread pan and pour in the batter.  Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.
At this point, I used some pre-made cream cheese frosting that had come with cinnamon rolls a few weeks ago and spread it across the top.   This was a nice addition to the recipe.