A Surprise was Brewing

Two smiling friends showed up at my house on this chilly Monday.  Their arms were filled with boxes as they headed straight for the kitchen table.  I was amazed as they began arranging delightful treats of goodness, such as cucumber sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches, fresh scones with cream, dipped strawberries, little quiches and fresh fruit.   The afternoon quickly warmed up as we spent a couple of sweet hours sipping Earl Grey, chatting and laughing.

This unexpected gift will warm my heart for years to come.  Lynn and Teri know that I love all things TEA.  They planned and schemed.  They baked.  They brought their own dishes.  They gave up their precious after-work hours.  Such a thoughtful surprise!  They left behind extra tea treats, a box of Earl Grey, a jar of chocolate hearts and a sweet card.  I feel so spoiled, loved, grateful, blessed.

“Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things” (Chaim Potok).

Prayer for Today:  Thank you, Lord, for sweet companions, simple pleasures, and memories to treasure.

Spinach quiches & Bacon Quiches
Homemade cranberry scones

Not so ordinary cucumber sandwiches
Mock Devonshire cream
Egg salad sandwiches

Lynn Hite, Teri Autrey & me

Summer Supper Recipes

I’m so thankful for my “baby” sister.  In addition to being a genuine Christian, Kristy is beautiful, witty, and just plain fun.  We laugh till we cry when we’re together.  She has always been one of the greatest blessings in my life.

In addition to enriching my life with her sparkle and wisdom, Kristy often enriches my palate with her creative cooking.  Every time we go to Oklahoma for a visit, I come home with at least a couple of new recipes jotted down.  For instance, did you know you can make homemade sherbet with just a 2-liter bottle of orange soda and a can of sweetened condensed milk?

A couple of weeks ago I posted some pictures on my facebook wall of a meal I made which I called “Summer Supper.”  The pasta dish was invented by my sister.  Not only is it delicious, but you can easily adapt it to suit your tastes.  Here are the recipes:

Garden Pasta with Chicken

I’ll describe this dish by layers.

Bottom Layer- Cook your pasta of choice, such as spaghetti, penne, or bow tie.

Sauce Layer- Saute some shallots (or onion) in a little olive oil, then add your favorite jarred sauce.

Veggie Layer- In olive oil, saute whatever fresh vegetables & seasonings you like.  I chose zucchini, squash, artichoke hearts, banana peppers (because they were ready to pick from my garden), scallions, and garlic.  I seasoned it with Cavender’s All-Purpose Greek Seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes, salt & pepper.  Saute till crisp-tender, then toss in some fresh basil ribbons.

Chicken Layer- Marinate some chicken breasts in whatever floats your boat (I used pesto), then grill and slice.

To Serve- Top the spaghetti, sauce, and veggies with sliced chicken and shaved parmesan.  Garnish with fresh basil.

Variations:  Instead of doing a skillet saute, you can throw the vegetables on the grill (as Kristy does) along with the chicken.  Also, Kristy recently made this dish using leftover parmesan-crusted chicken.  Yum!

This is the Artisan Bread I served with the pasta dish.  The recipe can be found at:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Artisan-Bread-in-Five-Minutes-a-Day/

Prayer for Today:  Thank you, Lord, for the heart-filling warmth of dear family, and the belly-filling comfort of good food.  May I never take your constant blessings for granted.

Revived

Thrift store rockers!

Had I seen these rocking chairs when by myself, I would’ve passed them by.  They looked worn and dreary to me.  But my friend Sheryl, who has the ability to see potential, pointed them out.  So I purchased the chairs for $2.99 each.  The plan was simple:  sand and paint.  I picked out a paint color the same day and envisioned getting the project done in one afternoon.  Ha!  Even with all of my guys pitching in, it took several days just to complete the sanding process. And then it took a couple more days to give the chairs two coats of Dolphin Gray paint.

Front porch rockers

We think the time and elbow grease paid off.  The chairs have been revived and now add a welcoming touch to our front porch.  Neal and I have already passed some time there drinking coffee together.

I’m so thankful that God sees the potential in all of us.  We might find ourselves feeling worn and weary because of past mistakes or sins.  But our God makes all things new (2 Cor. 5:17)!  We might find ourselves in a spiritual rut, lacking enthusiasm for Christian fellowship or desire to save souls.  But our God is able to revive us in His service (Psa. 51:12)!  The word revive means “to return to life; become active or flourishing again; to restore from a depressed, inactive, unused state” (Merriam-Webster).  It might take some time, and it might take some elbow grease (a.k.a. refining), but God can restore those who turn back to Him.

Prayer for today:  “Revive us again.  Fill each heart with Thy love.  May each soul be rekindled with fire from above.”

Garden Glory

My mom can just breathe on flowers and they thrive.  I read books and follow all the rules yet still seem to lack that magic something that real gardeners have.  However, that hasn’t dampened my love of herbs, flowers, vegetables, and all things green.   The items that spell garden, like colorful seed packets, pretty garden gloves, soil & fertilizer, potting benches, and garden hoses, make me smile.  After living in Colorado for five years, we finally decided to dig in and give gardening in Zone 5 a go.

There’s no telling how this venture will turn out, but already there is a great contentment in watering and weeding every day.  There is a breathless anticipation of the first ripe tomato or red strawberry.  There is the sheer joy that comes from the beauty of vibrant green plants against the dark earth.  There is the calming scent of the lovely lavender.  There is the united sense of purpose in a project that involves the entire family.  And there is the satisfaction that comes from slowing down long enough to play in the dirt.

Prayer for today- May I ever be mindful of God’s providence and grateful for the simple beauty of His green earth.

Boxwood Basil
Traditional Basil
Thyme
Cilantro
Thai Basil
Strawberry plants
Lemon Cucumber
Zucchini
Jalapeno
Sweet Orange Bell Pepper
Banana Peppers
Rosemary
Garden Gnome (Thank you, Sheryl!)
Lavender
First Tomato Appearance!
Sweet 100’s
Furry Garden Thief

Do You See that Face?

Neal’s million-dollar smile

That face has smiled at me for the past 19 years.  That face has greeted me in the morning, prayed with me, laughed with me, and kissed me goodnight.  That face has lit up at the birth of our children, and wept with joy at each of their rebirths when they were baptized.  That face has been filled with passion in the pulpit Sunday after Sunday.  That face has looked at me with compassion and strength during difficult times.  That face has offered me patience and forgiveness when I was the one that caused the pain.  When I look at that face every day, I see dedication, love, and a sterling character.

My prayer for today:  May my face reflect the same commitment, understanding, and generosity that has been so freely given to me.

Neal wrestling with Clover