Wednesday, April 28, 2010

simply book club

We have simple snacks or dessert for our book clubs but usually enjoy a festive table. Why not? 

Don't we all love to gaze upon beauty? It just does something good for us. A form of art for sure.

Lydia  Grace hosted us in her lovely home and combined two sets of dishes for a beautiful view of blue and white, set off so nicely in her blue and white dining room.

Azaleas were in full bloom that spring evening, so we enjoyed them at the table. Our gatherings always make a memory! 

                                      Thanks, LG !!!

Check out Susan's Between Naps on the Porch for more pretty tablescapes.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Little niece and her daddy were here this past weekend to take my mother back to their house for a visit. Kay was very excited to make this trip alone with her dad and packed her own little suitcase, carried it upstairs all by herself, and excitedly shared with me some of the treasures she tucked inside to show me.  Kay loves playing with my baby dolls (yes I have two now) and packing up clothes for them (I think she's a packer.) Kay also usually brings one or two purses along, containing interesting items.

Anyway, here is the story: While eating dinner on Sunday we talked about the deer we have seen in our yard and on our street, and a large possum as well.  K. sighed, "Why are there deer?"  Followed by, "Why are there possums?"

I turned to ask her why there are little girls, thinking I could then explain how God created all of us to bring Him glory. Her answer was as quick as a bullet to why there are girls: "For talking."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Just Dandy

See Little Red House for some wonderful Monday Mosaics.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

What's In A Pie?

Strawberry pie has a big history in our family. When it's strawberry season, the pie begs to be made, and usually is. At least once every spring. Going back about 30 years now.

Favorite recipes are like family heirlooms, in a way. I love it when I have a recipe from a friend or from my mother. Making the recipe brings them to mind. Sometimes I remember the meal we had at a friend's house when I asked for the recipe and then made it a favorite of my own.

I always think of Betty, an old friend from years ago, when I make this strawberry pie. The recipe is in her handwriting. But more than that, strawberry pie takes us right back to living in Ghana.

We had left our southern city and gone up to the "bush" to visit a good friend. While there we piled into the pickup truck and went across the border to Burkina Faso to shop. There the markets were plentiful (compared to practically empty stalls in Ghana, at that particular time). I always liked visiting the French-speaking countries that bordered could buy potatoes in them for one thing. Potatoes had become a rare treat for us. We could also buy apples...another thing we never could buy in Ghana. I remember coming up to a market stall that particular day and finding fresh strawberries! A wonder to the eye! We had to have some. So we bargained for them, put them in the cooler, and never thought about the trip back home across the border, over bumpy roads, and what damage might come to them.

We got back to our friend's house. No electricity. An outdoor shower and toilet. No other houses around for many kilometers. It was a "Little House on the Prairie" experience for us. On the way back from our day in Burkina, we had talked excitedly about making this strawberry pie. Our bachelor host thought he had a package of strawberry jello.

Sure enough he did. It was in a sad state of affairs, rather old, brought from the states a few years before. When I opened the package it was no longer red, and rather a big lump. But we crushed it into granules, found some sugar, margarine, and old flour (the flavor was distorted by weevils, but we had learned to just going with the flow). I went to open the strawberries and was dismayed to find that the bumps on the road had turned them to mush. Never mind, it would work. And it did. Maybe not to the standard of taste we might expect today, but it was delicious to us and looked so beautiful.

When I saw strawberries at the grocery store this week it seemed the time to make one again. So at our Sunday dinner today, we will enjoy the pie ... and the memories.

Reposted from three years ago this month. And yes, we're having this pie again today!

Please visit Chari's Happy to Design for other Sunday reposts. She's having a great give-away!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

ground nut soup

Groundnut Stew or Soup is a favorite of our family from our days living in Ghana. It's called "soup" but really is a stew. It ends up as a soup for left overs. And the ground nuts are "peanuts" so watch out on the food allergies.

In the many times I've cooked this for others, I've never known one, young or old. to not like it. It's good for a crowd. It serves 8 well, but 6 if they are starving.

The bones of the recipe come from the Mennonite "More With Less Cookbook."  You can get the recipe from the book pictured here (if your eyes are good). If you want the original recipe, leave a comment and I'll send it to you!

Now,  here's how I make it:

In a large pot saute 2 large chopped onions in oil with garlic, 1/2 tsp nutmeg and 1 Tb chili powder. Add red pepper as you desire to make it spicier. When onions are nearly cooked, add one 6 oz can of tomato paste, stir in, and then 6 cups of water (hot water makes it go faster).  Add 6-7  beef buillon cubes. (yes lots of sodium, but lots of water.)  Add about 4-5  already-cooked and cubed chicken breasts.

Simmer this while in a separate small pan cook 1/2-2/3 C peanut butter (smooth or chunky) in 2 Tb oil. When it begins to smooth out, count four minutes while you stir. Be sure to stir constantly as the PB will easily burn. In Ghana they told us this was an important step to avoid a "running stomach." Then slowly pour the PB mix into the simmering stewpot and continue to simmer for 20 minutes.

Serve over rice. This can be made with beef, but we always use chicken. It can also be done with dark and white chicken meat. And you can thicken the stew more it if you like. Tastes even better the second day!

Connecting to Foodie Friday! today.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


"You (God) maintain 'my lot.' So it is as though a hand gathers up the minutes of [each] new day, before ever it begins, as one might gather up a handful of pearls ... and all that the day is going to mean is upheld from minute to minute." (Amy Carmichael) 

What a wonderful thought to think of each morning as I wake -- God is gathering up the pearls of my day, and holding them in His hand. I rather like the minutes of a day described as "pearls," rather than, for example, nails. It envisions a loveliness to the moments of our day, even if they may be tough like nails sometimes.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Revisiting a Serendipity

The English author Horace Walpole coined the word serendipity. In a letter of January 28, 1754, Walpole says that "this discovery, indeed, is almost of that kind which I call 'Serendipity,' a very expressive word." Walpole formed the word on an old name for Sri Lanka, "Serendip." He explained that this name was part of the title of "a silly fairy tale, called 'The Three Princes of Serendip': as their highnesses traveled, they were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of...." 
During our cousin weekend, on a lovely afternoon, we visited Wing Haven. It is just what it is called––a haven for birds in a beautiful three acre garden, with paths begging to be wandered. But we didn't know about the big bucks party being readied for that evening. Donors, patrons, the board ... some important people were going to have a smashing gala when twilight settled in. 
With pure delight we gazed upon elegant table settings under a green tinted tent. We "admired 'til we were tired" ... and took some neat photos. It was, without a doubt, a "serendipity."

See Chari's Happy to Design for more Sunday reposts and Little Red House  for Monday Mosaics.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

the same difference

"There's something I learned when I was homeless: Our limitation is God's opportunity. When you get all the way to the end of your rope and ain't nothing you can do, that's when God takes over. I remember one time I was hunkered down in the hobo jungle with some folks. We was talkin 'bout life, and this fella was talkin, said, 'People think they're in control, but they ain't. The truth is, that which must befall thee must befall thee. And that which must pass thee by must pass thee by.' You'd be surprised what you can learn talkin to homeless people. I learned to accept life for what it is." (p. 178-9)

When I first started reading Same Kind of Different As Me, I wasn't sure I would finish it, but slowly it drew me in, grabbed my heart, and held it fast. For one thing, the descriptions of the homeless shelter/street mission took me back to my youth and the times we would go sing at a Chicago street mission or help there in some other way. The bleak eyes in the faces of troubled men and women came back to me as I read the story.

So our book club met to talk about the book and the discussion was lively as we shared what we thought Denver's world view was, and what that meant to us personally. I think we were challenged to come out of our comfortable spaces and see how we also can make a difference.

This true story is about a unusual friendship between a homeless man and a wealthy art dealer. And it's a story about a woman who was determined to use her life to make a difference in others' lives. I had no idea the book would affect me so powerfully, but it did, and did so for others who sat around Lydia Grace's beautiful and gracious table.

The book ended with Denver, the homeless gentleman saying, "I used to spend a lot of time worrying that I was different from other people, even from other homeless folks.... But I found out everybody's different--the same kind of different as me. We're all just regular folks walkin' down the road God has set in front of us."

You can find more about this book by g*ogling the title, or by pasting .com after the title, in your browser.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"springtime in her soul"

I'm one whose heart still skips a beat (albeit a small beat these days) when I walk to the mailbox. Still, in spite of email and our several other ways of online communication, a rare note arrives in the mail. Often it's a thank you note (and how wonderful people still find a notecard and stamp and ink to express thankfulness for a gift), and if not that, more often than not, it's a note from a dear friend who lives only a few miles from me. Getting a note from her is as refreshing as a cool breeze on a warm summer day. I always want to settle down with a cup of tea before I pause for a minute and then open the envelope, always delighted with what's inside. She was one of the friends who came in for tea last week.

 Knowing her as I do, I was not surprised she followed up that impromptu visit with a note. And there is never a note without a quote. How she finds such fitting ones is beyond me. This one (read above) from George MacDonald, continued at the bottom of her note with, "Before she left the cottage [yeah, I like to think of our house as a cottage], it was springtime in her soul; it had begun to put forth the buds of eternal life."

Sunday, April 11, 2010

"Let's take it from right here ..."

You'll notice Little One is pointing to the sheet music. "Let's take it from here." And she goes from the delicate one-handed play of fairy music to a full concerto.

Connecting to Little Red House for more monday mosaics!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

spring mow again

I love cutting the grass this time of year. Its lush green color and rich scent spill into my psyche. The tidy definitive rows do something for my love of orderliness and sense of accomplishment. 
And when I mow I wish I could be a child in our yard. My mower turns a corner under trees that would make wonderful tea party places or passes over expanses of lawn begging for blankets spread out for doll playing. There's a few potential climbing trees and tall bushes for hide and seek.
 Mowing affords time for my mind to deliciously wander back to childhood and visions of delight in simple things. An hour later muscles may ache, but my mind is refreshed like I've been on a short holiday.

 This was one of my first posts, four years ago. I still love to mow the lawn. It's like time out where I only have to focus on the lawn, and whatever I want to think about!  

Connecting to Happy to Design   for more Sunday reposts.

Thursday, April 08, 2010


Two friends dropped off a book for our next book club. I invited them to come in for a cup of tea ... and they did!

That doesn't happen very much any more! Great fun to catch up on "the news," and admire their crocheting and knitting, while sipping some hot tea. I wish this happened more often. Most times people say, "No, can't; I've got to keep going ... so much to do." So when these two said "Yes" and hopped out of the car, I was filled with delight!

I had just been to the consignment shop and was washing some "new" toys.
And "sanitizing" some story books I got for 50 cents at the library sale.
Little One is visiting this weekend and we haven't seen her in a long time. I'm sure she has changed a lot. 
We're ready to have some fun.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Easter Fare

A quiet Easter, with a focus on celebrating the resurrection of our Lord. Because of illness in our extended family, we were only three at our table.
But I decided to make a special meal and make some new recipes. It took a bit of planning to have it ready when we arrived home from church but it worked and actually was delicious!
Pulled out the old blue plates, and found these beautiful toile paper napkins someone had given me! Perfect.
And yes, chalk eggs, can you believe it? But love the pastel colors. Speaking of eggs, we hadn't had deviled eggs in a long time. This time I added some salsa in the mix and we loved the extra flavor.

Menu: Portabella pork loin; roasted fingerling potatoes, artichokes, onion, and cauliflower; green salad; from-scratch no-knead parmesan whole wheat rolls; and not-so-patient peach tea.
For dessert: Fresh strawberries with honey-yogurt.
Good to the last bite!

Joining Between Naps on the Porch for more "Tablescapes on Thursday."

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

bits and pieces

1. Spring has sprung forth in all it's glory here. After what I call a "northern" winter, it is especially welcome. But it seems to have come all at once with an extra dose of pollen. And may fade fast with our sudden 90-degree heat wave.

2. After being away from the house either at work or traveling for 14 days, it's amazing how I can enjoy being at home, even if it means cleaning, organizing, polishing, and puttering. Of course good weather helps too!

3. The Gardener had a freak mishap on one of our major expressways when his tire spontaneously began to shred while he was in the middle lane in a 65 mph zone. God's grace enabled him to limp through two lanes of traffic to the side of the road. There was damage underneath the car and therefore an unplanned huge expense. But this is one of those moments when I look at him and think, "I love you and I am so happy you are here with me."

Photo: St. Petersburg, Florida

Monday, April 05, 2010

book house update

So many of you expressed concern when I wrote that our city was closing half of its libraries. Apparently many locals were unhappy too, and immediately got to work. Here's an update from the paper today:

1. 140 (or so) library employees did get pink slips.  :-(
2. Libraries will remain open but only from 10 am to 7 pm and only five days
     a week (all closed Sundays and either Friday or Thursday), with the main
      library open also on Sundays.
3. Some library programs will be cut or reduced.

But they are still open. For now at least. Obviously people worked hard on a plan. So thankful!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

savannah and spring

When we were in Savannah last week, I was surprised how "behind" its spring was, and found more blooming trees when we got home, further north. My guess is Savannah's was slower because its temperatures have been colder than normal by a larger degree than ours. Does that make sense? Here's some blossoms in our town today:

When my mother and I went for a little Easter drive today, we were struck by the symphony of blossoms. I don't think I've ever seen: forsythia, dogwood, tulips, fading daffodils, pear trees, cherry trees, vibrant pansies, ornamental cherry trees, wisteria, and azaleas ALL AT ONCE! And depending what road we drove on, some were coming, some were going, and some were "peaking." I guess it's all because of the cold weather this year.

(Photo: our neighbor's house today with a driveway full of Easter guests.) See Little Red House for more lovely mosaics.

Friday, April 02, 2010

how we know love

"Hereby we know love, because He laid down His life for us." I John 3:16 
not my photo
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