True Devotion

This morning I started reading Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales. A friend of mine gave it to me when she was cleaning out her bookshelves. I have been looking for something new to read during my devotional time and thought I would give it a chance. Well I’m only a couple pages in and St. Francis has been hitting me where it hurts so far. I want to share a quote with you, but it has been really hard to keep it small enough to be meaningful when I really just want to include an entire page.

In the first chapter, St. Francis makes the point that humans often judge their piety and devotion to God by their own standards. For example, if prayer comes easily to me then I consider myself devout when I pray a lot but give myself a break when I am a gossip because that is harder for me to give up. He posits that true devotion is measured by our love of Christ that manifests itself in our deeds.

When I write it out like that it seems so basic and not mind-blowing but I know that when I read it this morning, God was aiming those words right at me. Am I judging my devotion by being good at the things that come easily to me? Do I judge my brother or sister in Christ when they aren’t doing the things that come easily to me? I needed the reminder that root of it all is a love for Christ that spills over into my heart and life.

Ok, I think I can narrow the quote down from one page to two long quotes.

He that is given to fasting holds himself for very devout, if he do but fast, though his heart be full of rancour: and though he dare not moisten his tongue in wine or even in water for fear of transgressing sobriety, yet he scruples not to plunge it in the blood of his neighbour, by detraction and calumny. Another will account himself devout, for reciting a great multitude of prayers every day, although afterwards he gives his tongue full liberty to utter peevish, arrogant and injurious words among his familiars and neighbours.

True and living devotion, O Philothea, presupposes the love of God; nay rather it is no other thing than a true love of God; yet not any kind of love; for in so far as divine love beautifies our souls, and makes us pleasing to his divine Majesty, it is called grace; in so far as it gives us strength to do good, it is called charity; but when it reaches such a degree of perfection, that it makes us not only do good, but do so carefully, frequently and readily, then it is called devotion.

So, what’s been rocking your devotional world lately?

Homemade English Muffins

After a six month hiatus, Saturday Morning Breakfast is back! I wasn’t necessarily planning on bring the series back today but last night I saw a picture on Bonnie’s Instagram of her homemade English Muffins and my mind was blown. For some reason, I considered English Muffins one of those things that you had to have some specials skills to make. How do they get them flat but puffy? Where do all the nooks and crannies come from? I was sure that it would be one of those things that didn’t turn out nearly as good at home.

Despite not even being sure that I had all the ingredients, I decided to give them a go when I got up this morning. On the off-chance that they turned out well, I started documenting. In the middle of documenting, I switched to using my camera in manual mode for the first time because why try doing one new thing at a time when you can do two, right?

So without further ado, on to the muffins!

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Homemade English Muffins
recipe taken from here

1 3/4 cups lukewarm milk

3 tablespoons softened butter

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, to taste

2 tablespoons sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

4 1/2 cups bread flour

2 teaspoons yeast

semolina or farina, for sprinkling the griddle or pan

Yield: 16 large (3″ to 3 1/2″) English muffins.

I halved the recipe to make 8 and used white flour instead of the bread flour that they call for.

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Playing around with the camera resulted in the ghost beater.

1) Combine all of the ingredients (except the semolina or farina) in a mixing bowl, or the bucket of your bread machine.

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2) This is a very soft dough, so you’ll need to treat it a bit differently than most yeast doughs. If you have a stand mixer, beat the dough using the flat beater paddle until it starts coming away from the sides of the bowl, and is satin-smooth and shiny; this will take about 5 minutes at medium-high speed. When you lift up the beater, the dough will be very stretchy. If you have a bread machine, simply use the dough cycle.

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My dough rose sufficiently in an hour. 

3) Scrape the dough into a rough ball, and cover the bowl. Let the dough rise until it’s nice and puffy; this will take 1 to 2 hours or so.

4) Prepare your griddle(s). Using two griddles allows you to cook all the muffins at once; but since you probably don’t have two griddles, you’ll need to cook the muffins in shifts. Whatever you use — an electric griddle, stovetop griddle, frying pan, electric frying pan — sprinkle it heavily with semolina or farina. If you’re using a griddle or frying pan that’s not well-seasoned (or non-stick), spray it with non-stick vegetable oil spray first, before adding the semolina or farina.

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5) Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into 16 pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball, then flatten the balls until they’re about 3″ to 3 1/2″ in diameter.

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When I began the recipe I didn’t think we had Semolina flour so I was just planning to use the Almond flour in the ingredients picture but then when it was time to put it on the griddle I looked in the fridge to see if we had any open bags on Almond flour and there it was, Semolina flour left over from when Andy made homemade Lasagna noodles. Like manna from heaven
I think Andy would say.
 

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I probably used too much Semolina flour on the griddle surface, but I was afraid of messing that part up for some reason.

6) The easiest way to handle and cook these muffins is to lay them right onto the cold surface you’ll be frying them on. That way, you don’t have to move them once they’re risen; and they won’t mind cooking very slowly as you fire the griddle up to its desired heat. If you don’t have enough griddle space to do this, sprinkle a baking sheet heavily with semolina or farina, and place the muffins on the sheet; they can be fairly close together. Either way, sprinkle the tops of the muffins with additional semolina or farina.

7) Cover the muffins (a piece of parchment works well), and let them rest for 20 minutes. They won’t rise like crazy, but will puff a bit.

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Cooking on side one.

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After flipping them the first time. Already looking legit! I cooked mine on our Griddler at 300* for 30 minutes or so.

8) Cook the muffins over low heat for 7 to 15 minutes per side, until their crust is golden brown, and their interior is cooked through. When done, the center of a muffin should register about 200°F on an instant-read thermometer. If you find the muffins have browned before they’re cooked all the way through, no worries; simply pop them into a preheated 350°F oven for about 10 minutes or so, or until they’re thoroughly cooked.

9) Remove the muffins from the griddle (or oven), and let them cool thoroughly before enjoying. Remember: use a fork to split, not a knife to cut. Fork-split muffins will have wonderful nooks and crannies; knife-cut ones won’t.

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The finished product! Less nooks and crannies than store bought, but still really tasty. I considered them a huge success. I think they look like you just pulled them out of the Thomas’ bag.

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Andy enjoyed his as a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich and with just butter. I don’t like eggs, so I had a bacon and cheese sandwich.

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Look out Thomas’, I’m going to be cutting into your market share soon. :-P

Our Summer in a Hot Minute

I thought it might be a good idea to do a fast recap of our summer before Christmas, or next summer at the rate things are going. :-P So here it is, our summer in a hot minute.

//MAY//

Summer kicked off with a Memorial Day camp out in Lexington, VA with my family. We got to see Natural Bridge, VA and VMI (and little Sorrel…).

The next weekend we went camping with some of our Med School friends to Jenny Wiley State Park and used our new tent for the first time.

//JUNE//

Early in June we hosted a cook-out for some of our med school friends who were still in town for the summer.

Mid-June I found myself presenting at the AICKU Tech Conference with my coworkers.

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I drove straight from Springfield, KY to Abingdon, VA where we got to spend a fun weekend with Andy’s family. We biked 30 miles on the VA Creeper Trail. I don’t have any pictures though.

My Mom and Grandparents stopped through to have dinner with us on night in June.

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We went to Mt. Washington, KY to visit Andy’s Grandma. While we were there, I got about 7 inches cut off my hair. I think this haircut wins the award for most compliments I’ve ever received on a hair cut, so it might be sticking around. Of course, no pics of family just of my hair; I don’t know what that says…

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Somewhere in June we found time to cheer for our friends’ son Stephen during his first summer swim season. He did such a good job for a first time swimmer!

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//JULY//

In the beginning of July we found some time to make the trek back to our hometowns to visit family again. This time I don’t have any pictures of our time with my family.

When we were in King George, we picked up my Mom and headed back to KY for our mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Our week in the Dominican was awesome and by far our most restful week of the summer. (That may say something about us…) It was also the first time I’ve served on a mission trip with my Mom, so that was special.


After we made it back from the Dominican, we slipped away for a quick anniversary trip to a bed and breakfast in the Smokey Mountains. I don’t have any pictures of the room or the breakfast, which is a real shame because both were excellent. The breakfast was amazing. I have a feeling we will find time to go there again while we live in Pikeville. It was that good.

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2 countries, 3 states, 10 cities. We saw both sets of our parents twice, all 6 of our grandparents within one week, all of our siblings and their significant others at least once, and a pretty good number of aunts, uncles and cousins.  I guess that’s how you make the most of your husband’s last summer vacation. It was awesome, really fun, and I’d likely do it all over again. However, we were worn out by the end of it making the normalcy of school a welcome relief. I would say that we won’t go that hard again in a summer but who am I kidding…

A Letter to Myself as a College Freshman

This semester I am teaching a section of First Year Studies at UPIKE. It is a class that is geared toward helping students transition from high school to college and helping them feel at home on campus. One of their first assignments is to write a letter to themselves that they will turn in this week and it will be mailed back to them on the last week of their first year of school. To introduce myself to them and give them ideas for their assignment, I wrote a letter to myself as a freshman in college to share with them. It was fun and let me do a little reminiscing. I thought I would share it here.  

Dear Class,

If I was writing to me as a college freshman, what would I want me to know? First, college is going to be some of the best years of your life. You’re away from home and can finally be you without any expectations. It is unbelievably freeing.

The friendships and Spiritual Life here will be deeper and more meaningful than you ever could have imagined. Believe it or not, you’ll make life long friends here and find clubs and activities that you love. You’ll grow as a person and as a leader. In four years, you’ll be that Senior you look up to. I know. Crazy, right?

wmcommencementIt won’t all be sunshine and roses. There will be that math final you miss parties to study for and still bomb. Great Grandma will get sick and you’ll be the most homesick you’ve ever been in your life. There will be days when you feel alone and like a failure, but you’ll get through it. Because even when you feel alone, you’re not; you’re already and always part of the campus community.

neworleansCollege is also about so much more than classes. Those mission trips will change your life forever. You can’t study all the time, but you have to be wise. That all-nighter you’ll do to pass the Chemistry final? Worth It. The Computer Science project you’ll turn in unfinished because you talked a friend through a hard time? Also Worth It. When the time comes, you’ll know the difference.

Follow your heart but don’t be foolish. Take risks, have fun, and be a little crazy. Its cliche but true, you’re really only this young once. Enjoy it, its going to be awesome.

Love,
Sarah at 25

p.s. Your husband is living in the dorm next to yours and he’s so much more wonderful than you can imagine right now. See, I told you, the next 4 years? Some of the best. <3

Andy and the Summer Pantry Upgrade Crusade

This summer, I decided to refinish our pantry/cupboard.  It is an heirloom, passed down from Sarah’s parents; her Dad had constructed it many, many years ago.  We currently use it to store our cookbooks and serving-ware.  Over time, the heritage piece has taken some abuse: scuffs, crayon marks, stab wounds that Sarah insists come from her brother, NOT her.  I resolved within myself to give the cherished old furniture some time and love, to reveal what new vigor could emerge from the tarnished legacy.  The process will unfold below, largely in the form of images…

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This is the pantry as it was, after being partially disassembled. Note the hole punched in the cardboard backing in the top right. That happened during the move to Pikeville.

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These are the pieces I removed.

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