let me tell you what happens in the spring

4.15.2014



Listen, here is what I know.

Just when you think spring will never come, it does. The rains pour and seep deeply. You turn to your neighbor, talk about the buds: I think they're greener than yesterday! and you titter and look at the ground and agree.

The springs when I was little, they came in a desperate rush. When February bloomed, you would already have started listlessly fanning yourself while sitting on the front porch and adding extra ice to your sweet tea. Winter doesn't exist in southeast Texas, just a cool spell. Mama would pat seeds into the garden most every year and hope that maybe this would be the year, but the heat still came and we just plucked plump, warm blackberries off the wild brambles instead.

Spring still arrives in a desperate rush in Texas. I know because I was there to see it last week. In the already-green woods lies my childhood, but I looked for it and it is no longer there. Just bones. Where are you from? a lady asked me. Texas, I responded. It was the truth but the words rolled strangely off my tongue. Where I'm from, I don't know. Home? I know of no place holding that title; only people.

So you wait. Things happen. You wait some more. More things happen. Things change. We all change. I guess what I'm trying to say is that with each spring, you morph. There may be one spring when you think, "Oh, this is it. This is who I am," and then you take another big swallow of life and you're different yet again.

Gradually you shed skins and step into new ones and they just tell you that you're growing.

What I know is not much, but come back next year and I'll have more to tell you.

'tis grace

4.02.2014

Instagram media by carlottacisternas - it's finally starting to get greeeeeeen!!!

"All that I am is a product of Grace." 
— Andy Mineo 

I took it easy this morning. I've found that when you have all your usual school and work obligations plus preparations for leaving the country for six months coupled with attempting some sort of social life, you get burnt out rather quickly. (Also, easily emotional? I think I've cried more this past week than I have this whole year.) So taking a cue from Donna and Tom, this morning was treat yo self day. I slept in, gave the snooze button a few solid wallops. With my hand curled around a mug of coffee, I leafed through the newspaper and read a two chapters of a good book. I didn't bother with any attempts to do my hair, finished an art assignment, and I'm feeling better now than I have in I don't know when.

I wonder, when I look back at this spring (the spring that is taking ever so long to fully arrive), is "tired" all I will be able to remember? Probably. I wouldn't be surprised. The tiredness has nestled deep deep deep in my bones and I suspect the only thing might offer a cure is a month long vacation in the mountains with a cat or two. Also, a heap of good books. I once heard of a man who went to Paris for a few months just to eat soft cheese and crusty bread and read an assortment of books he'd never gotten around to. I could use a bit of that life, I think.

Oh, and I have a date. June 10th. The tickets are booked and it is no longer a vague "oh, I'm leaving sometime in mid-June," but a "holy crap this is when I will get on a plane and land in Africa." So far, frequently asked questions have included the following: If I'm scared (I'm not. My mom has that one covered. I'm excited and intrigued and maybe a little nervous plus a hundred other emotions, but strangely, scared isn't one of those.), why I would want to go to Africa (because...I want to spread the Gospel? I'm fascinated by Kenya? Gap years are the best?), how long I'm staying (six months), oh, and how I am so brave?

I don't feel brave. Not one bit. I am not worthy of the laud I've been receiving, poured upon me like I'm some sort of trail-blazing pioneer. I hope that doesn't sound ungrateful, because I'm truly not, and the kindness of people has left me speechless - but I am only an empty vessel fiercely in need of God to work through me. I am such a wretch, and it is only by the grace of God that I've come this far.

Overwhelmed beyond measure.

dark chocolate espresso brownies

3.19.2014



These have been my go-to brownies for the past few months: dense and fudgy and rich with chocolate and coffee and all the things a good brownie should be. They're at their absolute best when chilled in the refrigerator - resist the urge to eat them while they're warm, it's worth it.

You can make them too, if you'd like:

dark chocolate espresso brownies

adapted from triple almond brownies by love and olive oil

ingredients:

+ 2/3 cup almond flour or almond meal
+ 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
+ 2 teaspoons ground espresso (or coffee) beans
+ 1/2 teaspoon salt
+ 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
+ 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
+ 1/2 cup granulated sugar
+ 2-3 tablespoons cold espresso / coffee
+ 3 large eggs, room temperature
+ 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

directions:

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line the bottom and sides of a 8-by-8-inch pan with parchment paper, leaving a slight overhang on two edges.

Whisk together almond flour, cocoa, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler or a medium-large bowl set over gently simmering water. Stir until smooth, then remove from heat. Whisk in sugar and stir until dissolved and mixture has cooled.Whisk in eggs, vanilla, and almond extract until just combined (do not overmix).

Sprinkle flour mixture over top and fold in to chocolate mixture using a large rubber spatula until just incorporated, then fold in slivered almonds. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Transfer pan to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. If you have time, cover and refrigerate at least a few hours or overnight for the fudgiest brownies.Remove brownies from pan using the edges of the parchment paper to lift the entire block out of the pan. Store brownies in refrigerator for best results.

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