Cherry Limeade Sludge

DSC_0048So. Not exactly a success, but not exactly a failure.

6 ice cubes, juice of one lime, juice of half a lemon, about 15 whole sweet dark frozen cherries, about 6 oz of water, about 4 oz of tart cherry juice, and sugar.

A lot of sugar. Like 7 tablespoons of sugar, and then some more as people wished, stirred into each individual cup. Even with blending it had a tendency to separate and taste a little gritty. But it was party time, it was sweet, and no one really cared by that point. 🙂

How do you keep your smoothies from separating or becoming gritty?



Offering Help II

Something is going haywire in someone’s life, and I want to offer someone help. I walk up to the person at work, after the church service, or before class and sincerely say “hey, if there’s anything I can do to help, just let me know.”

As before, there’s NOTHING wrong with offering to help. Helping someone else is one of the more precious gifts that can be given. In this winter season of giving, all I have to do is look to the babe that came down from heaven to help poor underserving sinners, to pardon sin by giving nothing less than his life.

But it is true that there are more and less effective ways to offer that help here on this confusing and marvelous ball of dirt. I’ve been one of those people who have generally offered help. I’ve also been sick and/or hurt and/or drugged and/or in the midst of a whirl of emotions while unspecific “help” is offered by a parade of faceless human-shaped blobs, their words a static wash. You might think that the person to whom you’re offering help knows your name, your face, your contact information, and that you’re a fantastic cook… but at this stressful point in that person’s life, s/he may not. Go ahead and send a text with your contact information, message the details on the Book of Face, send an electronic mail with your number, or sketch your charming visage on a scrap of notepaper and scrawl what you can do underneath it.

And what can you do? There probably are people out there who are perfectly content to make a general offer of help and then walk away, already smugly secure in the knowledge that the call will probably never come. They will never have to sacrifice their time or energy helping someone else. I’m not writing this for them. I’m writing it for those warriors out there who count the cost and determine that the price is worth paying anyway, those courageous ones who look at suffering and decide to do something. But equally, you have to protect yourself. What can you really do? Can you not lift heavy things? Can’t cook? 🙂 Maybe you’d like to be able to take someone to a 9am doctor’s appointment, but you have an 8-5 job and can’t get off. It’s all right to specify what you CAN do, so that you won’t be asked to do something you can’t. Honestly, it saves everyone some time and heartache. If you can’t lift heavy things but can give someone a ride, that may mean the world on a day when your friend can’t drive. If you can’t help during the week but can do the yardwork on Saturday morning twice a month, that will mean the homeowner’s association doesn’t pester someone to early incarceration in prison, due to using a flamethrower on the grass from his/her wheelchair. It all helps.

In an earlier post, I listed some websites that can help with scheduling (MealBaby, MealTrain, and CareCalendar), but those can take away from the personal nature of offering or giving help. Sometimes that can be good; sometimes it may be bad. And sometimes one simply has to offer help in the instant that the news becomes shared. (Even if you may also later log in to a website). Also, as someone who has needed help rather frequently, there’s nothing like an extensive list of people to call when something goes wrong that wasn’t/can’t be scheduled online.

Be brave, be strong… and have the courage to say what you can’t do as well as what you can. On both sides.

Candy Cane Green Tea


I drink a lot of tea, especially in winter.  I love the Candy Cane Green Tea (decaf) made by Trader Joe’s. It’s a little sweeter and smoother than straight peppermint herbal tea, and like peppermint, it does do a bit to settle nausea.

Unfortunately, I’ve yet to find a creative way to photograph tea. It’s the result of the American college-student method of making tea — you’ve got your microwaved water in a mug heavy enough to deflect blaster bolts, you’ve got your tea bag, you’ve got your browny water.


Challenge accepted.

Offering Help I

The scenario is terribly, horrendously familiar. Something has gone wrong. Someone is sick, or hurt, or grieving, or giving birth, and/or frankly terrified. The notifications go out, the way they do, in one form or another. Absent from school. Leave from work. Prayer request at church. Cancellation of social engagements. And then the offers of help come flooding in, if one is so blessed.

It’s wonderful when this happens. I am not (for once!) being sarcastic. Helping others, and yes, having the grace to accept that help when offered, is so important.

However the offers can be overwhelming, and it can be horribly hard to manage for the person actually struggling. Fortunately, in this day and age there are a variety of options. Someone with technological skills can set up a google doc with dates and share it out, or there are a variety of websites that offer scheduling services for everything from meals to lawn care. Here’s a few!


A free website. The process is very user-friendly and quite charming. Despite the “MealBaby” moniker, it can be used for illness, grief, anything, and the design of the page doesn’t push the new baby look at all. It can be set up by someone in need, or on someone’s behalf. One step in the process even offers gift cards for restaurants and groceries as well as an option to send a meal – letting even those far away participate in the provisioning.



Much the same as MealBaby, but without the potentially painful moniker. Unlike MealBaby, though, only one meal a day can be set up for free. And like MealBaby, it really is only for providing food, so it won’t help organize rides to doctor’s offices or any other needs.


Take Them A Meal

Another meal-scheduling service. Also free. This site provides the option of sending paper flowers or VISA gift cards. And quite nicely, it has a bunch of suggestions for how to offer help and recipes that transport well. I didn’t check it out beyond that, but the website brags that it helps coordinate over 1.3 million meals a year.



A more comprehensive setup than the other two options, with the caveat that it’s also a lot less user-friendly. A coordinator sets up the initial calendar, not the person in need of assistance; there’s a lot of data to be filled in, verification emails, account setup…. It also requires each individual step of the multi-step set-up process to be completed in fifteen minutes. So make sure you know what it is you/someone else needs before starting! You can specify a calendar for a deployment, shut-in, childbirth…. There’s a variety of needs that can be filled in, from meals to lawn care to doctor’s office rides. There’s even an option to only open up certain errands to trusted friends and other tasks to more general acquaintances (so giving your child a ride to soccer can only be taken by those designated). No one else except the coordinator has to sign up for the service: there is a calendar ID and security code to access the calendar, with different numbers for the coordinator, recipient, general helper, personal friend, etc. It will even handle periodic updates and photos. In other words, you can spend a LOT of time setting up the calendar (and it still won’t visually be as appealing as Mealbaby, but from my limited test-run, it seems to work).