Monday, December 26, 2011

Our Existence is Still A Story

“The supreme adventure is being born. Our existence may cease to be a song; it may cease even to be a beautiful lament. Our existence may not be an intelligible justice, or even a recognizable wrong. But our existence is still a story.” 
- G. K. Chesterton

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas from the Reichs

Here at the close of 2011 we’re still reeling a little at all the change and adventure that one little year has brought to our lives. January found us crossing fingers and toes as Keith’s job search continued plodding along and we contemplated the possibility that we could end up, literally, anywhere. Meanwhile, we were deepening our already extensive roots in Waco and living a wonderful, rich, full life.

In April Keith accepted a job as Assistant Professor of Religion & Philosophy at Chowan University in Murfreesboro, North Carolina. A frenzy of activity followed as we navigated all the joys and pitfalls of moving across the country: selling a house, finding a new one, packing furiously, and of course, saying “farewell for now” to life in Texas.

August was the month of the move. Keith left Waco in a giant moving truck with four cats and everything we owned at the beginning of the month. I stayed behind to see a few work commitments through and followed him out a couple weeks later.

Since then, we've been busy building our new life in a quiet corner of a quaint and quirky, pine-studded town in northeastern North Carolina. We’ve been blessed with some wonderful new friends and we’re enjoying the peaceful-yet-constant hum of a very friendly and very active and very small town. Keith absolutely adores his new job and I couldn't be happier continuing to work for Waco-based Golden Acres from my new office in our home.

We’re winding up the year by (finally) slowing down (a little) and preparing hearts and minds for the joy of Christmas. We hope the year has brought you as many rich blessings as you can handle with even more to come in 2012.

Wishing You a Very Merry Christmas,

Brooke & Keith

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Almost Christmas in Murfreesboro, NC

It's really.....




No seriously....

It is!

I can hardly believe....

we're leaving North Carolina tomorrow....

and flying to Texas....

just in time for Christmas Eve!

But before we go...

 I wanted you to see our Christmas-decorated new home.

It really is the most wonderful time of the year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Very Special Book for a Very Special Girl

Keith's niece Marilyn is in second grade this year. But she's reading at a fourth grade level. And she really loves books. Keith and I decided it was time to pass on a special love to her this Christmas. We hunted all over for just the right version, and finally settled on this...

And on the inside, we're writing this note...
Dear Marilyn,

With this book, you are about to start a magical adventure that may just last your whole life. It did for us. And when you meet Edmund and Lucy and Susan and Peter, and Eustace and Jill, and Aslan (especially Aslan), well, we think you’re going to have some new best friends.
The books in this volume are set up chronologically, but they were first written in a different order. And we think that’s really the best way to read them. So when you start reading, don’t start with Book One. Start with the Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and then follow our list from there.

1. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
2. Prince Caspian
3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
4. The Silver Chair
5. The Horse and His Boy
6. The Magician’s Nephew
7. The Last Battle

This book, or really series of books, is full of some of our favorite stories of all time. They’re very special to us, and we wanted to share them with a very special girl like you. We love you so much!

Merry Christmas 2011 from
Aunt Brooke & Uncle Keith

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

That's the Beauty of a Small Town

You can live your entire life in medium to large cities and never get your picture in the paper. Not when even when you graduate from doctoral studies and have your book published.

Keith on the far left. The suspenders should be a dead giveaway.
And you can live in a small town for three months and get your picture on the front page, just for voting in a city council election.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Recent Deliciousness

The business of living and gearing up for a jam-packed travel schedule in the next couple months has left little time for the musings I enjoy so much. Every morning as I brush my hair and put on makeup I'm also writing in my head. I have so many things I want to tell you about! But time just hasn't permitted.

Please accept in the interim a peek into what we've been doing in the kitchen lately. There's lots of warm, fall flavors here. Some things that are elegantly simple. Others that are deliciously decadent labors of love. All of them as tasty as you could possibly desire.

Butternut Squash Quinoa

Chicken Chilaquiles

Pumpkin and Black Bean Tamale Bake

Creamy Orzo Risotto with Butternut Squash

Sweet Potato Cakes with Black Bean Salsa

Honey-Crisp Apple Sangria

Beef Stroganoff

Chipotle Chicken & Rice

Quick Jambalaya

Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese

Links to all these recipes (and more!) can be found here and here.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Doing It Anyway

It's really too cold to have the windows open today. But they're open anyway.

We were really too tired and ragged to get up early this morning and start chili bubbling in the crock pot. But we did it anyway.

I'm way too busy this week to have people over to share our meal and conversation tonight. But I invited them anway.

I do these things. I do them anyway.

Because I love the cool wind on my face, the smell of autumn, the rustling leaves.

I love how cooking something in the kitchen just warms up the whole house. I love how normal, and real, and grounded it makes me feel to slice and stir and sip a tiny-teensy taste from time to time.

I love laughter bouncing off the walls in our living room. I love welcoming others into our home. I love sharing our food and stories and our lives with friends both old and new.

I do these things because I simply must. Because I need to. Because the things I am too cold, or too tired, or too busy, or too whatever to do...these are the things that make a life rich. These are the things that make my life whole.

I really shouldn't be blogging right now. But I'm doing it anyway.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Today is the Calm

Today is the calm. Not so much the calm before the storm. Nor even the eye at the middle of it. There is yet a ways to go before the middle is reached.

Today is just a moment- that tiny, fleeting moment between the crash of one wave behind and the swell of another before. It's that slim, small chance to push the head above the water and snatch one quick breath before being pressed down again, dragged in again, whisked forward once more.

Oh, to make that breath a deep one. A good one. To hold the head above as long as possible and drink in the illusion of stillness until it is made real. To fill the lungs all the way, up and up and up. Because we're never sure just quite when we'll have that chance again. And it may be awhile.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Words for Today

May not be true all the time. People cry for many reasons. 
But definitely true for me today.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Beef It Up

On Saturday night we attended "Beef It Up" with some of our new friends. It was a fundraiser the Chamber of Commerce held just outside town at the Red Barn Market (which hosts a farmer's market every weekend). Tons of smoky tender barbecued beef, delicious sides, a beer truck, lots of fun and friends and laughter. A DJ and lots of "shagging" music. I'm learning things, like shagging in North Carolina means a particular kind of beach dance made popular in the 60's, not what you think. And yes, I did dance the Electric Slide, how could I help it?

I'm doing my best Vanna White-ing here people!

There were also "bling rings" (large, light up, gummy plastic rings) and lots of door prizes. And at the very end of the night, Keith and I walked away with this pretty baby. It's a mini-fridge made up like a Napa Autoparts toolbox. I could not make this stuff up if I tried. It's sitting in Keith's office at Chowan right now, keeping all of his Diet Mountain Dew icy cold. I seriously, seriously love this town!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Little Cabin in the Woods

After we closed on our house, we stopped at Wendy's to celebrate. Yeah, I know, Wendy's? What can I say? It had been a long time since either of us had eaten fast food, and it just good. It didn't taste all that great. Oh, well. We enjoyed the anticipation at least.

Then we came back home, and while we were both still dressed all cute, we set up the tripod, set a timer, and snapped a few pics of our new abode. To commemorate the day it officially became all ours.

Happy day!

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Quiet Friday Evening

Cooking can really feel like a chore. There are times when I can barely drag my butt to the kitchen. The end of a long, busy week makes me crave a quiet, lazy Friday evening. Take-out never sounded so good.

But we live in rural North Carolina now. The nearest Chipotle is a long way away. Don't even mention Chick-Fil-A, which was pretty much our go-to to-go in Waco. It would take us an hour and a half to get there.

But something happens when you don't have an easy solution at your fingertips. You get creative. You dust off long-bookmarked recipes that have been languishing on the shelf. You finally pull those ears of fresh corn on the cob (a little welcome to town gift) out of the freezer. You add a little curry powder, some red potatoes, lots of bright lemon juice, chicken broth. Things start to bubble and a smile spreads across your face.

You grab that half loaf of french bread left over from Thursday night's dinner party and start slicing it into thick hunks. Slathered with butter. The real thing. You scavenge the fridge and come up with a few different cheeses. Smooth Provolone. Holey Swiss. Salty Parmesan. You layer those on, then add several paper thin slices of ripe tomato, the remnants of summer, then more cheese. You grill it all to golden-brown melty-molten perfection and start to shimmy, just a little bit. Because sometimes the joy of anticipation just can't be contained.

Then you put it all on a big tray because, goodness knows, at the end of such a long week you don't want to sit stiff and formal at the dining table. Friday nights call for cushion-squashing, snuggling deep into the confines of a comfy couch, and being too lazy to take the empty dishes back to the kitchen quite yet. And yes, the dishes are empty. Practically licked clean, because everything was so darn delicious.

And you find that something magical has happened. You're not so tired, drained, week-weary anymore. You've been refreshed, restored. Nourished. Fed. You are content and deeply at peace. And (if you are a cat-whisperer like Keith here) you are also surrounded on all sides by purring kitties.

Happy Monday everyone. Hope your weekend was long, luxurious, and as sweetly, simply restful as ours was.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Our New Home Virtual Tour - Office & Sun-room Edition

Today I want to invite you into the room where I spend the majority of my time each day. My office occupies one end of a sun-room that runs the length of our house. This is pretty much where I live.

Working from home is a little weird. I can go days at  a time without having to leave the house. I was afraid at first that I might start to feel a little stir crazy.

That I might get a bit of cabin fever.

As you can see, it's really not so bad.

I really love my roomy, light-filled space.

I love the worn wood of the roll-top desk that used to belong to Keith's great-uncle. And then to Keith. And that has now been taken over by me. It has so many drawers and nooks and cubbies.

Technically it is still Keith's. But I'm the lucky duck that gets to occupy eight hours a day now. I've taken to tucking old china teacups into it and filling them with various office supplies. Paper clips, post it notes, thumb tacks.

Jadeite vessels hold highlighters, markers, note cards. Old sugar bowls and flower pots and other ephemera cozy up on bookshelves.

Most of these belonged to my grandmother or my great-grandmother. I've scooped them up at yard sales, rescuing them, using them again, and again in a variety of ways and places.

I usually have a companion in my little office space. When she's not curled up in my lap, she's here....basking in the sunshine. On the day that I took these pictures I'd thrown open every window in the house to welcome a crisp fall breeze.

The squat little dresser has been given new knobs. I think it makes her look a little cheeky.

This chandelier has seen several iterations before I finally landed on weathered white and teacups. I think she suits my little "granny-chic" space.

Craft projects wait for a free hour or two to arrive. This one is going to be a baby gift for a sweet friend.

The antique oak filing cabinet came out of my grandfather's office. And then worked for my dad for a little while. And now belongs to me.

The rest of the sun-room is a little bit of a catch-all.

This little white cabinet became Keith's by default after someone who had inherited it from someones else ended up leaving it in Keith's house. We distressed it, gave it new knobs, and used it in our kitchen in Waco. And now it's my craft and party planning storage.

This little white table is where we have breakfast and coffee every morning. It's also where Keith works when he's not in his on-campus office.

The armoire is gigantic and heavy. It belonged to cousins in Houston who generously handed it down to us when they built a new house in Austin. We borrowed a truck and drove down from Waco to pick it up. It takes a lot of creativity to move this thing.

Then it rode in the moving truck from Waco to Murfreesboro, where it almost defeated Keith and his dad. They manuevered it into this position in the sun-room and said it would have to stay there for good. Luckily it makes a great little second closet for me.

It houses all my favorite pairs of boots. Some t-shirts. Some scarves. Extra bags.

And makes a little hidden spot to stash purses next to it.

The church bells are tolling out "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," which means it's already half past twelve and I've spent half my lunch hour writing this post. I suppose it's time to go fix a sandwich and get back to the day at hand.

Thanks for joining me!