Friday, June 13, 2014


Written by one adoring husband, unbeknownst to Preethi

“Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion's paws,
And make the earth devour her own sweet brood; . . .
And do whate'er thou wilt, swift-footed Time,
To the wide world and all her fading sweets; . . .
Yet, do thy worst, old Time: despite thy wrong,
My love shall in my verse ever live young.”
Wm Shakespeare - Sonnet 19

Some fear the passage of time.  I don’t blame them.  Fear thrives in the soil of misunderstanding.

Some do their best to ignore the passage of time – hoping, perchance, that ignorance blunts its effects.   I don’t question their motives.

Some live so time’s passage is as welcome as the scent of dew-kissed lavender from a sunrise bike ride; a heartful of gratitude, no regrets in sight, and nothing but optimism for what may come.

Preethi lives in just such a way.

A Heartful of Gratitude

Cicero and Pres. Uchtdorf had it right.  Gratitude is a catalyst to all Christlike attributes.  In Preethi’s case, Christlike attributes and beauty.

This is the 14th time that Preethi’s birthday has come since I first met her.  In between and during those birthdays, I’ve heard countless spontaneous bursts of gratitude come from her lips, as if she is discovering radium for the first time:  “I *LOVE* you!” “I *LOVE* Libraries!”  “I *LOVE* Summer!” &c. followed by a listing of reasons she is grateful for those things.

But despite her prowess at spontaneously enumerating her gratitude, I’ve more often seen her gratitude in her circumstance expressed silently, given voice by her actions.

Gratitude for the people in her life through endless service for the young women in our congregation, friends, neighbors, and family.  Gratitude for the day in which we live by drinking deeply from books (sometimes five or six at a time!) and the internet (in its finest forms, of course).  Gratitude for the earth by respectfully exploring its wonders.  Gratitude for time by conscientiously, not hastily, passing her hours.  Gratitude for music by teaching children of its beauty.  Gratitude for the living word of God by studying, living and receiving it daily.

All of this gratitude has sharpened her sense of wonder.  For Preethi, wonder has become an ever-present sixth-sense.  That makes for a glorious, delightful co-pilot on this journey.

This picture typifies Preethi.  Sudden, overpowering rain trapped us under a bus-shelter in Dijon, France.  Rather than complaining at the rain's ability to limit our already-short time in that city, Preethi found this little flower shop to delight in (and beautifully capture).

No regrets

We *love* Arlington.  The people, places, paths, parks – it’s a challenge not to let yourself get too spoiled by it all.  Being a part of Arlington means being part of a greater community, as well as, in many cases, a lesser community known as a condo association.

We apparently have neighbors who are not very fond of small people or people who walk on the grass, as manifest in crusties and anonymous nastygrams on our door.  One such neighbor apparently had a conversation with our property manager on the subject to accuse us.  The property manager re-told me the experience:

Neighbor: “That family that lives upstairs with all those children.  I always see them cut across the grass. . .tell them to stop.”

Property manager: “You mean the lady with the baby on the hip, the toddler by the hand, and a bag of library books? (Editor’s note: Incidentally, I’m not sure that Preethi could concoct a more preferred way to describe herself) I haven't seen them cut across the grass, but I can talk to them anyway just to make sure.”

The property manager did not tell us where the complaint came from, but we knew.  Like a tea bag, we were thrown into hot water on this one.  But, like a tea bag in hot water, this experience revealed Preethi’s strength.

Not long thereafter, Preethi delivered home-made, decorated cupcakes to the door of the complainants.  She was received with skepticism behind a partially-opened door, and allowed the couple to re-air (unsolicited, of course) a few of their complaints (founded or not) and offered the cupcakes.  They declined the treat, and Preethi returned upstairs, still smiling.

No BFFs, but no regrets either.


On a recent trip to the Outer Banks, which place is surely counted among Preethi’s many “happy places”, we stopped at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk.  I wish you could have seen the excitement on Preethi’s face when she read the Orville Wright inscription: “Isn’t it astonishing that all these secrets have been preserved for so many years just so we could discover them!”  Explaining the miracle of flight to Nat and Kina, her excitement reverberated like an “amen” from a Southern Baptist choir coupled with the joy of Christmas morning.

Preethi is a realist, to be sure, but 30 birthdays of accentuating the positive have served her tremendously well.

30 wishing lanterns for one very special 30-year-old.

The Next Decade

The most recent decade of Preethi’s life has been kind to us beyond our imagination - marriage, 2.5 children, deep friendships, multiple degrees, six continents, &c.  I can’t wait to see what the next decade has in store.  I know my wife will suck the marrow out of it – in the vegetarian sense - whatever comes.

Happy Birthday, Love.

It is not really necessary to look too far into the future; we see enough already to be certain it will be magnificent. Only let us hurry and open the roads. –Wilbur Wright

Monday, March 17, 2014

Thin Mint Chocolate Tart

How was your Pi Day?  We had a party and there was much pie and good friends.  What more could one want?  Nothing, there is nothing more anyone could want.  My mom has her master's in math, so Pi Day is basically celebrating my family heritage, you know?  One of our friends observed as he was leaving that we and the party were, "A little bit nerdy, let's be honest; really sweet; and you always want to come back for more."  Pretty apt, I'd say.

Janssen and her family also stayed over one night last week.  It was so fun catching up and eventually all the children even slept. (wink)  In anticipation of Pi Day, I naturally had to make pie for dessert.  I've made this chocolate tart several times before and it's always been delicious, but decided to hack it a bit.  Mint seemed just right for St. Patty's Day (WHICH, by the way, we have a snow day today.  It is beyond amazing, I can't even tell you the level of excitement I felt at 5am when I realized Dan's work was cancelled).

Once I finally started making it after much distraction and bed-putting, it took about 15 minutes to throw together.  And was delicious.

Thin Mint Chocolate Tart

One sleeve Thin Mints (half the box)
4 T butter, melted

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips)
1 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 T all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt

Softly whipped cream, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 325F.  Finely grind Thin Mint cookies in food processor.  Mix in melted butter until moistened.  Press crumb mixture firmly into bottom and up sides of 9" tart pan.  Place pan on rimmed baking sheet and bake for 5-7 minutes, until lightly puffed.

2. Combine chopped chocolate and heavy whipping cream in a medium saucepan.  Whisk over low heat until chocolate is melted and smooth.  Remove saucepan from heat.  Whisk eggs, sugar, flour and salt in a medium bowl to blend.  Gradually whisk half the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture to temper until smooth.  Whisk egg mixture back into the rest of the chocolate mixture until smooth and blended.  Pour filling into crust.

3. Bake tart until filling is slightly puffed at edges and center is softly set, about 30-40 minutes.  Transfer to rack.  If you can wait, cool in pan 20 minutes, then remove tart pan sides and let cool completely.  Otherwise, scoop it directly out of the pan and serve with softly whipped cream.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Blueberry Banana Chip Bread

(First things first...happy happy birthday to my witty, ambitious, kind, gorgeous sister!)

Confession time...I'm not always a ginormous fan of banana bread.  I know!  Evil.

They're just usually too...banana-y?  I don't know.

Anyway, this basic version of this was the first version I ever made myself (we got this cookbook for our wedding) and I loved it.  I added blueberries and chocolate chips and coconut because, why not?  The blueberries do make it rather crumbly and moist, but when has that ever been a bad thing when it comes to quickbread?  I've made 3 batches in the last week, so I think that should tell you all you need to know.

Blueberry Banana Chip Bread

1 3/4 cups flour (I've also done half whole wheat, which I love)
2 1/4 t baking powder
3/4 t kosher salt
1/3 cup butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 t grated lemon zest
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 large mashed bananas
1/2-1 cup chopped pecans
1/2-1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
Butter or spray for greasing

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan with butter or spray (I often make it in mini loaf pans because I prefer the higher ratio of crust to soft interior).

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter with sugar and zest until soft and creamy.  Add 1/3 of four mixture to butter mixture and stir until incorporated.  Repeat, adding remaining flour mixture in 2 more batches.  Mix in eggs and banana and stir until well blended.  Gently fold in pecans, chocolate chips, coconut, and blueberries.

3. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan(s) and smooth the top.  Bake until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour for a full loaf or 35-40 minutes for mini loaves.  Let cool on a wire rack and serve.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

One Outfit: Winter to Spring

The weather here in DC has been playing with all of our minds and closets.  On Saturday, it was a gorgeous 60 and sunny and we took a long family walk in just our shirtsleeves.  And then today it snowed.  I was more than a little bitter (although I started to forgive it just a little for at least being those big, gorgeous, soft snowflakes).

Since this time of year is so fickle, I like to think of outfits that can easily bridge the seasons.  Here's one example!


Shirt: J.Crew Factory; Vest: Land's End Girls' Vest; Jeans: Forever 21; Scarf: H&M (similar); Purse: J.Crew (similar); Watch: c/o Daniel Wellington; Socks: Uniqlo; Shoes: Old Navy

For the winter version, I buttoned up the vest and added some decidedly cool-weather colors.  Burnt orange socks, chunky mustard scarf, booties, and a warm leather bag are perfect for colder temperatures.


Shirt: J.Crew Factory; Vest: Land's End Girls' Vest; Jeans: Forever 21; Necklace: c/o ShopBlueBirdBride; Purse: J.Crew Factory (similar); Bracelet: Old Navy (similar); Watch: c/o Daniel Wellington; Shoes: Tretorn (similar)

To take the same outfit into springtime, I basically took the brighter, springier versions of all the colors.  Burnt orange became coral, mustard became sunshine yellow.I rolled up the sleeves, opened the vest, and added a bright, fun necklace.

How do you take your outfits from winter into spring?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...