Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Only the good stuff

So teach us to number our days,
that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
Psalms 90:12 KJV

The weeks of mid-May to mid-June are tied with October as my favorite weeks of the year.  Especially this year as we have been enjoying a true spring for the first time in ages.  No jumping from winter's cold to the hot-humid temps of summer this season.

I have enjoyed hours of sitting at one of the small tables on the deck, usually the round table nearest the house... the one with the faded red umbrella shading from the June sun.  Often with my Bible and a book and a pretty mug full of cold tea, either white raspberry alone or brewed with apple mint (a delightful combination).

Like autumn, this small window of nice weather is embraced as one understands it is fleeting.  There are ninety degree days in the forecast.  Great for farmers and my garden but not so wonderful for those of us who love sitting outside with a refreshing breeze.  Very soon this will require early mornings outside to beat the heat.

One day last week after I had all the household responsibilities behind me, I sat at the deck table and pondered the difference in how I feel in the summer... even in the midst of tweaking insulins.  There is far more life within, as if my boundaries are set much farther back when the light of day is longer.

So, I started thinking of how I could take advantage of summer's strength.  I needed to embrace the short amount of time when life seems at its' fullest.  So often it is the end of August and I realize summer has already whizzed by as if I blinked and it was gone.

As I sipped my iced tea in the large Cath Kidson mug, the words that came to me were... only the good stuff.  Eureka!  That was it.  I would capture the wonders of summer by concentrating on only the good stuff.

That sounds ummm... wonderful.  But how does one implement a phrase into action?

I started by thinking through what I want to set aside to make room for more good stuff.  The first thing I thought of was taking control of the television.  It is rather easy in the summer when the few evening shows I watch are in reruns.  

So with the exception of favorite PBS cooking and gardening shows, the new Masterpiece mysteries, and the new season of Finding Bigfoot (yes... want to make something of it???), the TV stays off during the day.

I either listen to the CDs on the player in the kitchen or tune in one of my two favorite Christian radio channels (K-Love for music, Moody for teaching).  Sometimes I listen to music or a podcast on the itty bitty iPod.  Sometimes I just listen to the singing of the birds through the window over the sink... when the weather is nice enough for open windows.

I also gave myself the gift of finally organizing the pots and pans and casserole dishes in the kitchen.  In mid-winter, the last thing I want to do is sit on the kitchen floor (we only have a crawl space and it can get cold) and rearrange stuff.  But last week I spent about a half an hour getting those two large shelves rearranged so items did not fall on the floor when pulled out for use!  That in itself could be an entire post...

I also started rearranging the linen closet in the bathroom, switching items from the shelves they had been on to a better arrangement.  I don't have a lot of linens so prime space was being wasted for a few items while other shelves had things falling from them when one needed a candle.

I must admit that I enjoy organizing things or else it may seem strange that I would consider that good stuff.  Not to mention the bathroom gets little natural light in winter so it is much nicer to reorganize now.  I am already reaping the benefits of summer cleaning.

I decided choosing only the good stuff worked in the summer kitchen, too.  Which is what led to organizing the pots and pans and casserole dishes!  This summer I am making it a priority to get out to the garden early for herbs and now some various greens.  The ancient LeCruset dutch oven now sits in the far back of the shelves and I doubt the larger Lodge dutch oven will get used much until say... late September?

The grill pan is now easily accessible, as is the old salad spinner, the red dishpan I use for rinsing herbs and produce, and the gallon jar used for sun tea.  If it is easy to access... it gets used.  If it falls on me from the shelf or is hard to find in the garage... it does not.  I'm certain the Crock-Pot will be used from time to time, too.

We are definitely in warm weather cooking mode!  Meals are lighter with more veggie based options, less time with the oven warming the kitchen, and the perusal of sandwiches and salads in favorite cookbooks.

My computer time was already limited but I have cut it even more so to take advantage of summer days.   Technology is taking a back seat to the backyard.

I talked about my summer reading plan on the I Take Joy article.  Which, by the way... has wonderful book suggestions in the comments!  Rather than just reading willy-nilly, I am re-reading books that I have thought about re-reading for ages.  Including those listed and some which will pop up as the summer goes on.

The good stuff will include time spent with children, grandchildren, and friends.  For we don't have a lot of people here in the winter.  We don't live all that far from town but far enough that one does not want to drive the roads after a snowfall unless it is necessary.

I remember one of Laine's Letters* was titled Let the Summer Teach You.  It was about getting up earlier in the summer to spend time with the Lord since it is lighter in mornings, anyway.  I thought of that phrase as I sat on my deck sipping iced tea last week.  I know what she meant.  

There are so many things one does that is just plain easier in the summer... like getting up earlier to enjoy getting to know God's Word... or staying up a little later to write in a journal what He has taught you today.  I want to have a heart of wisdom.

What if you are working full time?  Well, there are more light filled hours after work to enjoy.  I once worked in a company with no windows except for way up high... so in winter one went to work in the dark and came out of work in the dark.  How wonderful were long summer days.

Parents with kids active in sports will be making memories spending their time at softball and baseball fields!  Stephanie loved to swim so I would slip a book into a beach bag to enjoy while at the pool  or when we would take a picnic to the Lake.   One really embraced summer months when living in Western Michigan!

Enjoy this fleeing amount of time.  Before you know it, we will all be waxing poetic about the cool days of autumn.  Unless you live in Australia.  You are in autumn mode already.  Forgive our enthusiasm for summer here as you leave its' heat for much anticipated cool days.  

We had a very long winter.  ;)

*Laine's Letters is no longer available in archives online.  I don't know why, it was just gone one day!


Terra said...

I like your idea of "only the good stuff" and will implement it as I get ideas. Great advice.

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

May you really enjoy every minute of these beautiful days, Brenda. I am finding this season a very special blessing this year. Perhaps the weather is more beautiful than usual.....And my health is also so much better than last year. You are inspiring me to organize things too, and to eliminate where I have too many things. Oh, how good I feel when I do that.

Florence said...

How I miss Laine's Letters!

Kathy said...

I like the good stuff!! Hope that you have a wonderful summer.

I didn't realize that Laine's letters was gone. I knew that she hadn't updated since she adopted a baby from China, but I thought her site was still up. She was so encouraging.

Judy said...

I think glorious sunny days are one of God's best gifts, and they are indeed fleeting on the often grey Canadian west coast (dreary and 54 degrees yesterday and only a little higher today). Getting a picnic hamper and blanket back into the car might be the best preparation I can make so I make sure I am only doing 'the good stuff' on those blessed days.
Enjoy yours!

Vee said...

It is wonderful that you are so intentional and thoughtful about what will work for you in a very specific period of time. I should try it to see if a voice says "Only the Good Things." It has always worked for me to follow your example over Christmas and I even asked John what his expectations were for Father's Day. He wanted an ice cream cone and a chicken casserole. That was easy!

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

Only the good stuff! Yes!

I choose it when I decide to embrace the season of fewer kids at home, and when I embrace having a smaller garden this year, but still a garden with tomatoes, peppers, mint, basil, lavender and chamomile!

It is a choosing to let the kids sleep in, and read all afternoon. It is grilled chicken and a large salad, homemade dessert for dinner.

Thanks for this encouragement!


Anonymous said...

How do you make your sun tea? I have lots of mint here and would like to make some.