We love bagels, but they’re one of those rare treats in our home. It’s probably a good thing that we don’t have a Noah’s Bagels in our town. 🙂 But the bagel-bug bit me recently, so I decided to make them myself! Oh boy. Delicious. And while they may have been a little bit time-consuming, they were super simple and well worth it. I made a small batch, and did a few plain, a few poppyseed, and a few cinnamon-sugar. I highly recommend trying these. They are chewy and spot-on. Slather on the cream cheese and you’ve got yourself the most mouth-watering bagel treats you could imagine.



  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1.25 – 1.5 cups warm water
  • poppy seeds, sesame seeds or any other toppings


  1. Combine all the ingredients (except toppings) in a bowl. You want to incorporate all the flour, but your dough will be stiff. Only add the water as needed until the flour is incorporated.
  2. Knead the dough for ten minutes until it is smooth, either in a mixer or by hand.
  3. Cut the dough into 8 balls and let it sit, covered, for about 15 minutes. While this is happening, get a large pot of water boiling (enough so that the bagels won’t touch the bottom while being boiled), with a couple tablespoons of baking soda in the water.
  4. Take each dough ball and roll it into a foot long snake using your hands. Keeping your hand in the middle of the dough snake and use your other hand to bring the two ends together such that the dough is fully wrapped around your hand. Rotate the dough around so that the part where the two ends come together is under your palm. Press down to make the ends come together. (If this doesn’t work, you can also flatten one end, place the other end in it, and then wrap the dough around it to encase one end of the dough in the other.)
  5. You should now have eight balls of dough with a circle in them. Let them rest for about 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 while you wait, and grease a cookie sheet  so that the bagels don’t stick to it.
  6. Once your water is at a persistent boil, place a few bagels in the water (you don’t want them crowded). Boil on each side for about 1 minute.
  7. Take the bagels out of the water (use a spatula or something, as they are obviously very hot.) If you are using poppy seed, sesame seed or any other topping, sprinkle some onto the bagel on each side. Alternatively, you can lay some on a plate and press the bagel into it.
  8. Once all the bagels have been boiled, place them on the cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes on each side.  If your bagels are too puffy after the first side cooks, flip them over so that the cooked side is pointing up, and flatten them using the head of a spatula.
  9. Let the bagels cool, and enjoy with cream cheese or your other favorite spreads/toppings.

Baking Bread with my Big Boy

I know this articleis going around a lot online (at least in the reformed community) right now, and I’ve heard that people are specifically tweeting, facebooking, and blogging this quote from it:

A friend of mine, a homeschool mom, just passed away of cancer. In the week before she died, I asked her if she had any regrets in her life. She told me she wished she had baked less bread – she said if she had it to do over again she would buy bread and spend more time with her children.

But pardon me, if I may: one thing that I will not say on my death bed is that I wish I would have baked less bread. One of the best memories I can give my child(ren) is the gift of cooking & baking alongside me. (Perhaps that was this woman’s downfall? Shoving her kids aside and separating spending time with her children from doing other work? I don’t know, I can’t say, just reading between the lines in this out-of-context quote. And yes, I did read the entire article: and no, I did not very much like it.) Sharing in work and play and joy together. Learning and talking and laughing. Dumping in fluffy flour, making messes, punching down squishy dough, cleaning the messes & washing the dishes together while listening to music, watching the dough rise and being amazed at how it grows, smelling the deliciousness of baking all the way from the backyard where we took a soccer break, slathering on the butter when the bread was still steaming, and biting into the warm & crunchy goodness. So I just want to offer my perspective here. If there is one thing I am attempting to do more in my motherhood, it is include my child(ren) more in “my” world. If I were to die tomorrow, I would be so incredibly thankful that I have taken the time to (among other things) cook and bake from scratch, and include my child(ren) in the process, because it is life-changing and joy-giving for all of us ~ not because it is part of what will sanctify myself or my children, because the method makes no difference, but because it is such a beautiful opportunity to work together, rejoice together, and share together in some of God’s goodness.

I’ve got photo evidence of my big boy’s bread-baking joy for you. Wish you could hear his glee, feel the freshly ground grain in between your fingers, smell the rich bread, and share a crusty loaf with us. It’s like God’s goodness for all of my senses right here, right now. We’re loving it; and Gabriel especially loves his own little miniature round loaves. 🙂

End-of-Summer Peach Tart

I have been hugely enjoying fruit this summer. And let me just tell you that that’s an incredible understatement.

Recently it has been nectarines and peaches that have been my addiction. Especially some truly wonderful peaches grown in local orchards. We bought a whole box of peaches a week ago, some of which we enjoyed fresh ~ but I also made a few batches of jam, froze pie fillings, and froze some peach halves in lemon juice & sugar also. So yesterday Gabriel and I simply had to return to the local orchard and buy more. They are beyond delectable. Last week we had some called Lady Zee, and this week we are loving the Angelus variety.

Tonight for our small group dinner (finally reconvening after over a month off), I am bringing dessert and what am I bringing? Fruit dessert! Now, if you know me, you likely know that I really and truly do not like fruit desserts much whatsoever. Especially cooked fruit. But this dessert I’m bringing tonight? A fresh peach tart. No tainting baking of the fruit involved. Plus it involves cream cheese, which makes most things simply lovely to my tastebuds.

Inspired by this recipe, but constrained by a desire not to spend oodles of money on the deliciousness of mascarpone cheese right now, I came up with a slight variation (or two maybe). I also cut some corners on time because I tend to do that whenever possible with cooking & baking.

Following, below, is what I ended up creating and figured I may as well share my creation with you since I wrote it down anyway. 🙂 I hope you can find some juicy, plump, rosy, sugary peaches and give this a try before the end of summer really arrives. It’s just too delicious (and pretty eye-catching, to boot) to pass up!

End-of-Summer Peach Tart

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 Tblsp sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt. Cut in 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter. Once incorporated as you would a pie crust, add 2 egg yolks, and finally 1/4-1/3 cup of ice water.

Pull into a ball, flatten into a disk, and transfer to a cookie sheet that you’ve lightly dusted with flour. Stick the cookie sheet with dough disc into the freezer.

Preheat your oven to 375 F.

While the oven heats and the dough chills, wash up your dishes. After about ten minutes, take the dough out of the freezer, roll it out, and fit it into your tart pan. Make sure it goes up the sides, and cut off the excess. (I used the excess in a little tin pie pan and let Gabriel sprinkle it with sugar and cinnamon, then we baked it for a snack.) Line the tart with foil or parchment, and fill with beans/pie weights. Bake at 375 F for 10-15 minutes, depending on your oven.

While the tart shell bakes, prepare the filling.

In my KitchenAid mixer, I used the whisk attachment to bring 1 cup of heavy whipping cream to peaks (they were stiffer than “soft peaks” but you want to make sure you don’t let it turn into butter). Meanwhile, as that magic happens, in a large bowl with a handheld mixer, mix together 16 oz. of softened cream cheese and 1 cup of powdered sugar until very creamy. Add 1 tsp vanilla and the zest of half a lemon, incorporating well. Once the whipping cream has peaks and the cream cheese mixture is ready, gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Place that bowl in the fridge.

When the tart shell is done baking, stick it in the freezer and let it cool off (~10 minutes). While the tart shell cools off, peel, pit, and thinly slice a few peaches (I used two very large peaches; they were each nearly the size of a softball). Once your peaches are prepared and your tart shell has cooled, spoon the cream cheese mixture into the tart shell, and smooth the top with a spatula. Lay the peach slices attractively on top.

Put 1/4-1/3 cup of peach jam into a small microwavable dish. Heat for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between (I did two 30-second increments). Once the jam is pourable, use a pastry brush to brush the peaches on top of the tart with the liquified jam.

Garnish with a sprig of fresh herbs or edible flowers, and chill for a few hours before serving.

Truly delicious, especially with a peach mojito. Oh man: end-of-summer heaven! 🙂

UPDATE on Domestic Endeavors

This is the first of multiple upcoming updates for you all, so stay tuned over the next few days. I’m planning on having them rise in excitement each day… we’ll see if I can manage to pull that off.

This is an area where I have enjoyed thriving lately (although, ironically, I haven’t actually planned tonight’s dinner yet, haha). For a few months this spring, it certainly wasn’t an area in which I could thrive (thankfully my stash of freezer meals and my very loving, kitchen-savvy hubby thrived in my stead), but in recent weeks I have loved getting back in the kitchen. I have replenished my freezer with Chicken Divan, Stroganoff, Meatballs, Muffins, Whole Grain Bread, Cookies, Grilled Pizza Crusts, Taco Meat, and more.
This morning I was able to host my weekly ladies’ group, and made some Brown Sugar Muffins for it. They turned out well enough to share the recipe, which was my combining of a couple.
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a mixing bowl, cream shortening and brown sugar; mix in egg, milk and vanilla. Add flour, soda, and salt, mixing until combined. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 2/3 full. Mix together 4 Tblsp. butter (room temperature), 1 cup brown sugar, and 1-2 Tblsp. cinnamon in a small dish; sprinkle generously over tops of the muffins. Bake for 16-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. (I got 14 muffins out of this recipe.)

I’m trying to think of recent meals we’ve had or are soon to have (in case you’re ever in a cooking funk and want someone else’s ideas). Here are just a few:
Broiled salmon topped with balsamic vinegar & peach jam, then sprinkled with finely chopped pecans & panko breadcrumbs; served with rice and green beans
Baked salmon topped with crushed garlic, lemon slices, lemon pepper, dill, olive oil, and soy sauce; served with roasted carrots & beets
Fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits, roasted potatoes, and green salad
Taco salad
Grilled chicken caesar salad
Asian chicken salad
Chicken piccata; served with roasted asparagus and quinoa
Stromboli; served with fruit salad
Grilled pizza
Meatball subs
Pasta casserole (farfalle and chicken tossed in marinara; topped with mozzarella, topped with pesto); served with baguette and green salad
Steamed tilapia topped with lemon pepper; served with steamed broccoli and quinoa
Chicken and apple sausages; served with sauerkraut, fruit salad, and a veggie plate
Baked potatoes topped with chicken, broccoli, and a cheddar cheese béchamel sauce
Shrimp & veggie kabobs; served with pasta salad

I have to say that I have been doing a good job of keeping house lately (thanks, Lord!), and I am thankful. My little boy loves to help me clean, which makes it easy to incorporate into time I spend with him. He loves to vacuum with me, he loves to mop my kitchen floor (although his arm strength doesn’t make a big dent, so I do it myself after he’s done), and he really thinks there’s nothing better than washing windows & cleaning bathrooms. Who knew?!  I don’t do a big house-cleaning on a certain day of the week; I do it as things need it. I’d say we vacuum roughly every other day; sometimes more often when we go in and out a lot, which tracks in dirt from outside. I think we do a good solid cleaning of bathrooms once a week, and a second quicker “wipe down” also once a week (and just prior to whenever we’re expecting company: there’s not much worse than being a guest in a stinky, grimy bathroom). Mopping and windows and dusting? I do those on a less frequent, as-needed basis. Washing curtains and light fixtures and the like? Even less frequently, but still on an as-I-deem-it-necessary basis.
I will openly, even gladly, admit that I have not been going out of my way lately to update any decorating. We’ve added a large framed picture of the three of us (thanks to the photo shoot my brother did last month for us), but that’s about it since redecorating Gabriel’s room a few months ago. My decorating schemes & designs are, however, being recorded in a little notebook for room-by-room inspiration for our new house. So I have been clipping things from magazines and catalogues I run across, writing down websites with nifty ideas, and figuring out ways to describe with pen & paper what in the world I’m envisioning for each room in my head. Some of it will involve sewing, crafting, and repurposing; some of it will involve utilizing my father’s woodworking skills; some of it will involve thrifting and garage saleing and searching on Craig’s List for things I really really want.  But while I am not putting energy, time, or money into our current home’s decorations, I am able to hone some of that domestic creativity and start working on the planning and preliminaries for our new home. And that’s a blessing, because it certainly won’t happen overnight.

I tend to do laundry on Tuesdays and ironing on Wednesdays. Not always, but it’s my general rule of thumb. If only so it reminds me to get it done, as we’re not the type who wait until we’ve run out of underwear or until the hampers are overflowing into our rooms. But we’re also a small enough clan at this point that I am able to easily accomplish the whole week’s laundry in one day (as long as I am home for the majority of the day). I’m so thankful for my servants (i.e. my washing machine and dryer), even though they are admittedly a bit rough, old, and rickety! These servants do make my jobs so much easier. And I love ironing. Is that odd? I like to chat with my mom on the phone or stream something on Netflix (usually something from the BBC) while I do it, and I generally don’t have that much ironing to do each week, so one naptime is enough to get it done. Plus my iron is just splendid and makes ironing a breeze. Having decent domestic tools really is a plus, an aid, a blessing. Mending… well, mending I definitely try to do on an as-needed basis. But, um, I’ll be brutally honest here and tell you that I’ve had a pair of my hubby’s cargo pants folded up downstairs waiting for a button for quite a few months… I think I even have the button somewhere. Typing this out reminds me that I need to get that fixed. Today. Procrastination has no place in my realm of domesticity. I will say that the last time I noticed a hole in one of Steven’s shirts, I patched it within three minutes of locating the hole! But that is not the norm. I need some work there.

This is an area where I have sadly been inactive. I would love to get crafting again, but it seems to be more of a winter pursuit for me, I guess. I would like to think that I could stay on top of sewing, crafting, gift-making, and re-purposing of all sorts all year round. I need to work on this, get inspired, think of projects, and jump in. I have stayed on top of our family photo albums (I try to update them 3-4 times a year to keep them current, and to keep it a manageable project). My stash of homemade baby gifts is dwindling, and will soon need replenished. I have some ideas in my head of what to do next, so within a couple months I may be busily crafting once again! I will not be doing “a homemade Christmas” this year, so that takes a little pressure off the crafting and sewing world and puts it more heavily in my next category!

I have been thankful this year for my love of penny-pinching. I am far from perfect with it—I do occasionally do impulse buys or end up deciding that I really do need that latte (which makes me thankful for gift cards we’ve been blessed with!) or the larger pack of lightbulbs—but for the most part, I stick with my lists, I use what we’ve got, and we make do with what we can or we simply do without. I am already thinking about Christmas gifts, mostly because I know I need to be as frugal as I can with them this year especially (and because we’ll be busy with some other things during Christmas shopping season, so I need to be done before most people get started), so I want to keep my eyes peeled for good deals, clearance sections, coupons, and overstocks (in stores and online). A new place I am currently learning to balance frugality (and prayerfully seek wisdom) is in the realm of shopping for things for our new home. There are wide ranges of quality (and therefore price) for everything: windows, doors, siding, cement, appliances, paint, light fixtures, drawer pulls, countertops, toilets… everything. We are praying for wisdom with where to cut corners, where to invest a bit more, and how to get the best bang for our buck in every area of our home. It’s a huge responsibility, a bit of stress, and a good challenge that Steven and I are working on meeting straight in the eye.



I continue with my weekday typist job for Olive Tree Bible Software, and although I feel like it does eat up hours that I would love to use elsewhere, it’s only for a season, and I am thankful for the opportunity to serve my family, serve this company and its customers, and it also has the added perk of giving me some great resources to read while I am typing! I am also continuing to be actively moderating & fellowshipping at Hannah’s Prayer and actively writing for Grieve Out Loud. These endeavors also occupy a lot of time, but it is a blessing for me to have this opportunity to reach out, bless others, bear burdens together, pray for ministries and individuals, and use my childrens’ lives and legacies to impact the Church and her people.

While I have not done as much reading this year as I have in some others, I am reading through Scripture (currently, Jeremiah and Revelation), Streams In The Desert, Prayers Of An Excellent Wife, and Brave New Family. I have a few other books I’m itching to read, but am determined not to bite off more than I can chew (or more than I can read!) at this point.

With music, alas, it has been on a back burner. It would be wonderful to have half an hour every day to play harp and piano, to sing, to compose. But this isn’t a season of life where it is very practical. I accompany at church (and occasionally sing there), and very rarely will play here at home for my own pleasure or because Gabriel will ask me to. But yes, it is rare. I would like to change that someday, probably in some other season of life. Perhaps once I am teaching (family members) again, I will have more of an excuse to play more myself.


So that’s a little bit of an update in my domestic realm (although there’s certainly more areas I could have added)… and just for fun, I’m saving the domestic realm of GARDENING for tomorrow’s update…

Granola Goodness

These granola bars are in the works today in my home. It’s been a wonderful day of focusing on my little boy (hurray for setting up a tent in the backyard and going “fishing” in the kiddie pool!) in the just-arrived-warmer-weather, but now I’m giving in to a craving for some granola bars. What went into mine today? Shredded coconut, golden raisins, dried cranberries, crushed unsalted nuts, and some chocolate chips for good measure. 🙂

EDITED TO ADD: I just used granulated sugar (was tempted to use brown sugar), I don’t think it probably matters. I used freshly ground hard red wheat flour instead of oat flour. And for the syrupy sweetener I used maple syrup. Also, they were easiest for me to cut after I let the granola sit on its parchment hammock in the freezer for half an hour. This might not be the healthiest granola bar recipe out there, but it is super tasty plus I’m totally all over anything homemade. So yeah, it fits my bill perfectly. 😀

Very Cherry Fun

This wasn’t my first time picking cherries (it was so fun!)…

But it *was* my first time making cherry lemonade & a cherry pie. 🙂

Tuesday April 13, 2010

I think I’ve previously established with everyone that when I am stressed, I bake. Well, I bake more than usual, I should say. And I try to pawn off goodies onto people. For instance, yesterday I was particularly on the verge of being overwhelmed — so (in addition to homemade pizza) I baked two types of sweet quick breads to send to work with Steven today, in order to spoil his coworkers a bit. Thankfully we have a lot going on this week, so I have more excuses people to bake for. One fellowship group tonight, another on Thursday, pastoral visitation on Wednesday, and company coming over for dessert on Saturday.
I need to buy more sugar.

This is the lemon bread (I also made apple bread – I’ll post it another time) I made yesterday, and will likely make another loaf to take to the fellowship group on Thursday. I used a Meyer lemon from my grandparents’ tree. I don’t know if any other lemon would make this as perfectly. 🙂 Recipe originally from Hot Providence, page 51.


1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
Lemon zest of 1 lemon (remove zest first for the bread, then juice the lemon for topping)

1/4 cup sugar & juice of one lemon = the topping.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together. Add the milk, melted butter, beaten eggs, and lemon zest. Pour into a greased 9×5-inch loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together 1/4 cup sugar and the lemon juice; let sit. Remove from oven, but leave the bread in the pan. Carefully (and liberally) poke top surface of loaf with a fork (or toothpick); then pour the topping/glaze over entire surface of the bread. Leave in the pan to cool completely.
This slices easily and evenly.
Just delicious!

This is the cookie recipe I made today for tonight’s fellowship group. They are so delicate, I think they need to be served on china saucers. Recipe from a friend.


1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons lime zest (I zested an entire large lime)
1/4 cup lime juice (my lime only produced about 2 Tblsp juice, so I used about 2 Tblsp lemon juice to make the rest)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter, sugar and egg. Mix in lime juice and lime zest. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until combined.

Roll dough into small balls (I didn’t roll them because the dough was pretty sticky; I just tried to dollop the dough as neatly as possible), & place on greased cookie sheet.

Bake 10 minutes or until they are slightly browned (mine baked for about 13 minutes).

Place cookies on a cooling rack and (once completely cooled) sift powdered sugar over cookies.


Friday March 19, 2010

The lintel low enough to keep out pomp and pride;
The threshold high enough to turn deceit aside;
The doorband strong enough from robbers to defend;
This door will open at a touch to welcome every friend.
~Henry Jackson van Dyke

One of my favorite books about relationships is Face to Face by Steve Wilkins, discussing friendship and hospitality. It’s been about two years since I have read it, though, so it’s about time to start again. 🙂 Click here for a decent review of it. I once shared excerpts and quotes from it here, too (anyone remember that?).
The funny thing is that we are almost always eager to pursue friendship. But are we as eager to pursue hospitality?
The two things are frequently related, but not always. Interesting.

I don’t know that I want to get into a deep discussion about hospitality right now.
I just wanted to say that I personally have been getting back at it.
During times of heavy grief, I am not always able to open my doors to invite in lots of guests for pretty tables and delicious food. But times of heavy grief come and go (sometimes predictably, but more often less so), and the days come again when I am equipped by God’s grace to show hospitality.
In recent weeks, I have made an effort to have someone over for dinner once a week. We’ve done it for the last four weeks, and are about to take a break for a few weeks. But then maybe I will try it once again.
It is delightful to have people over to share a meal (simple or fancy, as the case may be), pop open a bottle of wine (or a couple of beers, or a pitcher of freshly squeezed lemonade), and chase the evening away with pleasant conversation and fellowship (and maybe even a board game or two).

I pray that as I age, I will grow into my desires of hospitality. I would love to share my home, my table, my meals, and my family with others. Especially those in the bonds of Christ (Galatians 6:10). It is mutually beautiful and encouraging! But I would, someday, like to grow out of my comfort zone. I would love to invite nonChristians into my home (with discretion and hubby’s leading) someday, so that we can share the Gospel more tangibly, with table & food & conversation. I have always felt more called to discipleship than evangelism (God gives different gifts to different people), but I think I must at least dip toes into both realms. And one way I would love to grow my evangelistic thread is by sharing food (not that that is the only way to show hospitality, for it certainly is not. It is just one of my main ways of showing hospitality, as God has gifted me in that area). I have a few thoughts on how this may develop and evolve through the coming years… but this isn’t the time or place for that just yet. 🙂

I have been trying out new recipes on my hubby very frequently of late, and have even tried new recipes on our guests (which can be risky business). For our first recent set of guests, we had fajitas (our favorite tried & true, easy & quick, go-to meal) and salad and chips & salsa; with sweet tea to drink and chocolate bundt cake (new recipe!) for dessert. The second set of guests helped us share a meal of salmon & tilapia (basted with garlic, Meyer lemon, herb butter), quinoa (new recipe!), salad, and bread; again with sweet tea to drink and peach cobbler for dessert. The third set came on a day I had a blood infusion, so I tried planning ahead with a crockpot meal of Beef Burgundy (a twist on the theme, at least – I didn’t actually use burgundy, I used port! and this was also a new recipe!), salad, bread (new recipe again!); with a Spanish wine to drink and blackberry buckle (another new recipe!) for dessert (the pictures below are of this meal). Then on St. Patrick’s day we shared a meal again (this time with my brother’s family!), so it was our traditional March 17th fare of corned beef (with a fabulous brine in the crockpot), cabbage, onions and carrots, Irish soda bread (new recipe!), sour cream mashed potatoes; with Guinness to drink and chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

Besides the food, the home and table and atmosphere should also be welcoming and lovely. It should seep with hospitality. While I don’t necessarily think you have to have your house completely spic & span to have company (for what of those unannounced guests that occasionally pop by? Do invite them inside, even if there is dog hair all over the couch and toys strewn all across the floor!); if the company is expected, your home should look like it was expecting company. This will look different for different homes and different families. So do what you need to do to prepare your home (as well as yourself and your meal) to be hospitable.
For me, this involves bringing out the vacuum to clean the carpets and get the dog hair off the couch, etc. Vacuuming almost always involves first decluttering the house and putting away [most of] the toys. It also involves wiping down the bathroom; if it needs a good, deep clean then by all means scrub away… but if it just needs a little freshening up, grab a Lysol wipe (or spray a cloth with some good all-purpose disinfecting cleaner), and wipe down the countertop & sink, and then lastly wipe down the commode (no guest wants to use a disgusting toilet – I promise). Don’t worry much about the shower/tub unless the guests are staying overnight. Just close the door/curtain, and call it good. A quick Windexing of the mirror would be nice, and maybe putting in a Glade Plug-In or lighting a candle out-of-the-reach-of-children on the counter would add a nice scent and ambience.

And the table… yes, the table! Basically the altar upon which you offer your delicious meal as a sacrifice of your time, energies, and means! Make it lovely. This can be very simple or very complex, depending on the day. I like to have a candle or two (or four…), a vase (or jar or champagne flute) with a flower/bouquet, sometimes a tablecloth (especially if your actual table is less than lovely), etc.

Remember to relax. If something gets spilled on the tablecloth or floor, just smile and quickly wipe it up – and deal with stain-removal once the guests have left. Shrug it off. If you are relaxed and comfortable, your guests will be too.

Share the Gospel – with your food, your home, your words & your actions. Interact with your family as well as theirs. Don’t ignore anyone, including the littlest guests! Keep the conversation going (which is sometimes easier than others). Bring out toys for children (or Tupperware and wooden spoons and cookie cutters if you don’t have any), turn on some music, and enjoy sharing of yourself and your resources.

Also remember that hospitality isn’t just shown by inviting a whole family over for dinner.
(Mrs. Wilson has an archive about various issues involving hospitality right here!)
Hospitality is shown by delivering dinner to someone else’s home; by dropping off half a dozen (or a dozen!) cookies on a random day of the week to encourage someone’s day; by giving a can or two to the local canned food drive; by offering a bedroom to a traveling minister who needs a place to rest his head; by inviting someone over for brunch or tea; by sharing your garden produce with neighbors or brethren at church…
Hospitality looks different for different people, and different at different times. But it is always lovely.
Share of yourself. Bless God. And encourage hospitality in yourself, your home, and your family.

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing constant in prayer;
Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
~Romans 12:10-13

Tuesday February 9, 2010

Okay… so I know it’s a little early… but I got my first birthday present of the year! It arrived on Saturday while I was out & about, so when I pulled into the garage and saw the big white object with the colorful bow (more than two weeks before my birthday), I was surprised and excited. 🙂

It’s freeeeeezing! Okay, not really the funniest pun ever. But it’s a freezer. A big, awesome, deep-freeze freezer. Aaaaah. I can buy in bulk even more easily now. And we can eat a better variety of foods this way. And when I get into a baking mood (like today — uhh, yeah, so I made 25 cinnamon rolls and 16 pesto rolls!), I have a place to store things. Hurray! I spent a while during Gabriel’s naptime organizing the new freezer today. I think I like the way I’ve got it set up. And I’m itching to head to Costco, bake a bunch of bread, and make myself some more freezer meals. 🙂 And by the way ~ thanks, Mama & Daddy!

Proverbs 31: 14-15, 27
She is like the ships of the merchant;
   she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night
   and provides food for her household…
She looks well to the ways of her household
   and does not eat the bread of idleness.

And in case you were one of the folks who wanted to know how I made 3-Cheese Pesto Rolls not too long ago… I made them again today and wrote down what I did as I went. 🙂

MJ’s 3-Cheese Pesto Rolls

Briefly mix together:
1 1/4 cups hot water
1 1/2 Tblsp yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar/honey
1/3 cup Crisco/butter/oil
1/2 cup bread flour

Let it proof for about five minutes.
Then add 1 egg and an additional 3 or so cups of flour (I used 2 more cups bread flour, and a little over 1 cup of all-purpose flour).
Knead for about 5 minutes.
Let rise in an oiled bowl until doubled.
Punch down; roll into a long rectangle.

In a bowl, mix together:
1/2 cup softened butter
3 oz. softened cream cheese
3 oz. pesto (I make my pesto in approx. one ounce cubes and I freeze them; so I used 3 cubes)

Spread the filling over the dough.
Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Cover it all with a nice layer of shredded mozzarella.
Roll, slice, and bake on a lightly greased jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides) at 350F for about 25 minutes.

Enjoy!! 🙂

Wednesday December 30, 2009

So I got a bundt pan for Christmas – something I’ve wanted ever since I got married. Very exciting stuff, people! 🙂
And right now I’ve got this orange chocolate chunk bundt baking in the oven to take to our church Christmas party tonight. Mmm. 🙂
Of course I just realized that I have no more orange juice to make the glaze… so I get to improvise. 🙂 Woot woot!