Sunday, August 29, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon Verbena Bread


This weekend my cleaning lady came to visit me early Saturday morning. I was happy to see her since the house was a total mess, but I couldn't help feel a bit sluggish. I was feeling pretty down in the dumps.

She immediately picked up on this and wanted to console me. I really wasn't in the mood to share my problems, but as I started to explain my woes I found myself telling her everything in great detail. She tried to advise me and even gave me a hug, but I really wasn't satisfied. I still felt depressed. But then she began to share with me her own problems. She explained that she felt lonely and there was never anyone at home to greet her when she arrived after a long day. She shared with me her experiences of customers that would pay her too little, or would demand extra service such as cooking and day care for a days worth of work and only pay her $50. And then there were the customers that after a full day of cleaning, would give her a ride home and charge her $40 becuase gas was expensive, leaving her only with a meager $60. And then...


My cleaning lady began to cry. It occured to me at that moment that my problems were so small and ridiculous. I also realized that there are people out there that truly have big obstacles in their lives that they are trying to over come. Or there are people out there struggling to make a living and that are truly suffering. In my cleaning lady's case, she is an elderly woman in a strange country where she does not speak the language. She is destitute, sick and often taken advantage of or swindled. But yet, she always keeps her head up and maintains an optimistic outlook on things.


After my conversation with her, it occured to me that I felt better and I realized that I should be happy even when times get bad. I should save my tears because there is always someone who is probably going through something worse. I truly have many things that I should be grateful for and I should continue to count my blessings. Even when my ego gets bruised, I should remember that life is beautiful. So when life hands you lemons, it is best to make lemon verbena bread.

Count your blessings

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.


Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.


When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.


So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Note: The pictures in this post are of pink lemons which I used to make lemonade and lemon verbena bread. I did not post the recipe since so few people visit my blog, but if you are interested in the recipe, just leave a comment requesting it.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins and The Time Travelers Wife

I just finished The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Its so funny how you can feel attached to the characters of a book. You can feel their pain as if they were real people that you know or as if you were living through their experiences. Only a few minutes ago I was crying like a baby. The story really penetrated me and moved me to tears. I felt like such a ninny because I was starting to cry so hard! Muppet, my dog, was even startled by the sound of my sobbing. The look of alarm on his face made me laugh. He was staring at me like What is going on?! But I had the afternoon to myself and I was determined to finish the book before watching the movie. I had Matt order the movie via Netflix and my plan is to see it today. But I am so anxious to watch it. There is a small part of me that is a little afraid to see the movie. Am I going to cry again?


Last year everyone was reading this book—it was very popular. Obviously I jumped on the band wagon kind of late with this story—oh well.


If you haven’t read this book yet, I highly recommend it. It is heartfelt love story about love, longing, and absence making the heart grow fonder. Henry is a time traveler who involuntarily time travels due to a genetic malady. He meets Clare for the first time when he is 28. But Clare had met Henry for the first time when she was six. Henry travels to the past and sometimes to the future and at some point in time the two of them intersect and meet in “real time” only to fall hopelessly in love. The story follows them across time as they do their best to live normal lives. Although it may seem confusing, the author patiently and carefully guides the reader through the story by shifting between each of their view points. If you decide to give this one a try, I’ll be posting it on is the easiest way to swap books, music, movies and video games for free. Here is the link if you want to swap books: Time Travelers Wife.


Coffee Cake Blueberry Muffins

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups cane sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 half-pints fresh blueberries, picked through for stems

1/3 – 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place 16 paper liners in muffin pans.

Mix flour and brown sugar. Add butter using a fork or pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. With a mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, sour cream, and milk. Add the flour mixture to the batter and beat until just mixed. Do not over mix. Fold in the blueberries with a spatula and be sure the batter is completely mixed.
Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling each cup just over the top. Sprinkle the topping on top of each muffin. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the muffins are lightly browned on top and a toothpick comes out clean.

Source: Adapted from
Barefoot Contessa.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sweet Disposition

Before I made my decision to give up on people pictures, I did shoot my little sister before and during her quinceanera. For those unfamiliar with this, it is a basically a sweet fifteen and a very important cultural celebration of a young girl's coming of age. It is practically celebrated like a wedding with big beautiful dress and a huge party. I decided I wanted to take her pictures before she became this grown up young lady. I thought this song, Sweet Disposition, really captures the moment and creates that mood of a young person full of hopes and dreams.
Be sure to play the music as you scroll down and view the pictures.






Here are the shots of her at fifteen. She's now a lovely woman.