Happy Thanksgiving (and more)


Hi there– Happy Thanksgiving.  That sounds like not quite enough.  I’d also like to wish you slices of pie and Grandma’s best biscuits. 

And while we’re at it, I’m hoping the people you love the most (all your true favorites!) are sitting around the table with you.

I’m wishing you memorable conversations and the kind of laughter that leaves you gasping.

And wouldn’t it be great if sincere thank you’s were taken and given –and big hugs of appreciation were passed all around??!

I’m wishing you a prayerful thankfulness that comes in quiet moments all alone — And the deep down kind of joy that comes from Thanksgiving days with your dearest people.

And finally, God bless you Dear Readers on this Thanksgiving Day.  Truly thankful for you all.

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P.S. Thank you to Dreamstime.com for the free graphic.

Loving Your People (& Pull Apart Apple Bread)


A little Grandma love for Jobay.

Hi all– I’m sure you have your people to love– the ones you stick with through thick & thin.  You know the ones I mean!  And I wrote about loving my people recently for a Women’s blog at church– Here it is:

LOVING YOUR PEOPLE

The Beatles famously sang it, “All we need is love!”

Blogger, Shannan Martin advises, “The way we spend our love is the way we spend our lives.”

Of course when our Lord Jesus was asked for the greatest commandment, he spelled it out, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.” — Luke 10:27

And Francis Chan wrote, “Do you know that nothing you do in this life will every matter unless it is about loving God and loving the people he has made?”

OK, got it. Sounds good. I want to be that all out ever-loving kind of person. I’m asking myself how that works.

And I’m thinking there’re two components I need to have in place:

#1. I can’t really love people until I know them well, what they need, the things that make them feel loved. I need to pay attention to the people God has given me, be quick to listen, to truly know them.

#2. And actually, I’m not that naturally loving. So first, I need to wallow in God’s love, draw on his tender mercies, rest in his daily care. Sit with him. Ask for his help! Then I’ll have the wherewithal to go out and love my people…

Saw this on Instagram this week and wrote it on a little card to carry with me–

“Today’s order of business: Pay attention. Be captivated. Practice gratitude. Share something with someone in need of love.”

So I’m trying to dig in and love the people God has given me. Love them with a pot of soup. Love them with a phone call and a listening ear. Love them with a ride to the doctor or with help cleaning out a closet. Love them over tacos and long talks. Light candles and sing to them on their birthday. Pray for them. Cry with them. Hold them. Laugh with them. Love them deep and wide. Stay with them for the long haul.

I think this this way of all out loving won’t be easy. People have messy painful lives and love means joining them in that pain and mess. But isn’t that exactly what Jesus came and did?

“The way of Jesus is an invitation to be attentive to the people near us, to dig deep with each other and to stick around for the long haul. This is the abundant life. It’ll cost us, but it’s worth it. “ (Shannan Martin from her new book, The Ministry of Ordinary Places).

 

Here’s a few of the people that I love to love…

     
Extended family on vacation in Wisconsin, our Young Adults from church, and some of those Monday night ladies.

And thinking about the Monday night friends– here’s an Apple Bread we had together a few weeks ago:


PULL APART APPLE BREAD

Bread:
5 tab. butter, cut into chunks
3/4 cup whole milk (or half & half)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 package rapid rise yeast
2 eggs, room temperature
3  1/2 cups flour

Filling:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar
3 cups apples, peeled, cored & coarsely grated (about 3 apples)
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)

Glaze:
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tab. whole milk or half & half (or use maple syrup!)

To make the bread, melt the 5 tab. butter in a large heat proof mixing bowl (about 30 seconds).  Then add in the 3/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar.  Warm the mixture a 10 to 20 seconds in the microwave until it is 120 to 130 degrees.

Stir the yeast into the warm mixture and let it sit for 5 minutes.

Then stir in the eggs.  And finally, stir in the flour.  When it’s all blended work it with your hands to make a spongy ball.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel and set it in a warm place (away from drafts) to rise for 1 hour.

While that is rising, make the filling.  Melt the 1/2 cup butter in the microwave. Then stir in the vanilla, cinnamon and 1/3 cup sugar.  Peel, core and grate the apples. Mix the apples into the cinnamon mixture.   Chop the nuts.

When the dough has risen, knead it a few times and then set it out onto a center that has been dusted with flour.  Dust the top of the dough with flour as well. and roll it out with a rolling pin to about a 20″ square.

Spread the cinnamon apple mixture over the the dough from edge to edge.  Sprinkle the chopped walnuts all over the top.

Cut the dough into 5 strips vertically and then 5 strips horizontally to make 25 little squares.  Stack 3 or 4 squares together and set them on their sides into a standard loaf pan* that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Repeat with the other squares stacking them loosely on their sides to fill the pan.

Cover the pan with plastic wrap and set it into a warm place to rise for 30 minutes.

Remove the plastic wrap and bake the bread at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

Let the bread cool a few minutes while you prepare the glaze.  Drizzle it over the bread.  Best served warm!!

*Sadly, I don’t have a standard loaf pan, so I used a 9″ springform pan in it’s place and it worked just fine.

“Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.” 
― Ursula K. Le Guin

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”
― Jane Austen

“The art of love is largely the art of persistence.”  –Albert Ellis

“Love is always patient and kind. It is never jealous. Love is never boastful or conceited. It is never rude or selfish. It does not take offense and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins, but delights in the truth. It is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.”  —I Corinthians 13:4-6
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One more favorite photo of people I truly love:

Thanksgiving Around the Corner

Hi friends–  I afraid to say that I’ve been stewing a bit over Thanksgiving. For the first time in a few years, ALL our family will be together in Ojai for a Thanksgiving weekend (It warms my Mom-heart!!) and I think I’m letting the details of getting us all together overwhelm my heart and mind.   I need to back up and not lose sight of this time of Thankfulness…


Some Family together about this time last year.

So here I am– stopping to sit in quiet and thank God for a few things today:
1.  The maple trees turning in the backyard, beauty out my window.
2.  My people (especially Larry) who walk through these days with me.
3.  Food in the fridge and a fire in the fireplace.
4.  MOPS moms and young adults at church who keep me from feeling old.
5.  Our kids–scattered and settled and doing well.
6.  Grand-kids learning and blossoming– nothing dearer.
7.  My Monday ladies who listen and understand and pray with me.
8.  Books and music and mugs of tea in the quiet of our home.
9.  Our parents who know us well and keep us grounded.
10. A walk with God, who loves us more than we can ask or imagine (Eph. 3)

I’m sure you have your own list– Doesn’t it bring a calm to your soul to think through your blessings??

O Lord, who lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.”  — William Shakespeare

 

And I wanted to send you one last pumpkin recipe (Thanksgiving breakfast??).  So quick and luscious!  Made these with two baking buddies– Jenna & Bekah.  Love those girls!!

PUMPKIN TWISTS
1 egg
2 tsp. water
2 sheets puff pastry (1 box), defrosted
1 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tab. coarse sugar

Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tab. milk
1 tsp. vanilla (or maple syrup)z

In a small bowl whisk together the egg and water.  Set aside

Open out the puree pastry onto the counter.  With a rolling pin, roll both pieces into 12″ by 16″ rectangles.  Cut each piece in half to have 4 !2″x 8″ rectangles.

Mix together the pumpkin, sugar and pumpkin pie spice.  Then spread the the pumpkin mixture to cover the 4 rectangles clear to the edges.

Starting at the long side, roll each rectangle into a long cylinder.

Then with a sharp knife cut clear through the cylinder, leaving a 1″ part at the top that is not cut.  Turn the two cut halves of the cylinder around so the pumpkin layers are showing.  Then braid the two stands together, so that the cut layers of pumpkin show on top.

Then twist the braid into a circle and carefully set the circle of pastry onto a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Repeat until you have 4 braided circles (so pretty!)

The brush the egg mixture onto to coast the tops of the pastries and sprinkle on the coarse sugar.

Pop them all into a 400 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes until the tops are crusty and golden.

While they are baking whisk  together the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla for the glaze.

When the pastries come out, let them cool for 5 minutes and then drizzle on the glaze.  Delicious warm from the oven!!

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Thanks Bekah & Jenna fo dropping in on a Saturday morning to bake and talk and eat.  Love you two!

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“What we’re really taking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday in November, when no one diets.  I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?”  –Erma Bombeck

 


Thankful  Heart Charts with the grand-girls 2016

And every Grandma needs a few easy tricks up her sleeve when the family gathers for Thanksgiving.
#1.  Thankful Heart Charts– Been making these every year since our boys were small.  Provide a cup full of markers and everyone draws tiny pictures of all they are thankful for (or contributes to a bigger chart to share with everyone).

#2.  Gratitude Basket –Last year Jodi had everyone write what they were thankful for on a slip of paper (keeping it a secret!) and then after dinner she pulled the slips from the basket and as she read them, we guessed who had written each one.  Some easy to guess, some hard, some hilarious.  So fun!

#3.  A to Z Thankfulness — Go around the circle and think of things to be thankful for, starting with the letters of the alphabet.

#4.  Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt– Give each grand-kid a brown paper bag with this list on the front– a turkey, a pretty rock, 3 leaves, something fuzzy, something smooth, a small pumpkin, something green, a stick, something you think is beautiful.  See what they come up with!!

     
Grand-girls in homemade turkey hats & standing by the welcome turkey at the front door.

 

“In November, people are good to each other. They carry pies to each other’s homes and talk by crackling woodstoves, sipping mellow cider. They travel very far on a special November day just to share a meal with one another and to give thanks for their many blessings – for the food on their tables and the babies in their arms.”– Cynthia Rylant,  (a favorite children’s book author)

And finally, here’s a few of our favorite Thanksgiving books to share together after the turkeys eaten and there’s time to sit cozy on the couch.
      

    
Best Thanksgiving Books   (Link to theses books & more)

 


Finally as you sit down around the table for Thanksgiving ahead, I hope for you that your heart is happy and settled and full of gratitude for your blessings great and small.  Thanksgiving Blessings to you, dear Readers.

“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues.”  — Cicero

 

Prayer and Pumpkin Bread


Hi all– Our four oldest grand-daughters spent a few days last summer for Grammy Camp.  Before dinner I leaned over to our five year old grand-girl and said, “Let’s hold hands so we can pray.”
She asked, “What’s pray??”
“Well,” I answered, “It’s when we talk to God.”
She turned to me surprised, “You can talk to God??!!”
“Sure, I talk to him in the mornings and pray for you, that you grow well and stay strong and smart…”   The other grand-girls chimed in, “Do you pray for us too?!”
It was a sweet moment– the chance to share that part of my faith with that little one I love so much.  I hope it stays with her.

Here’s the girls at Grammy Camp –taking off on an evening flashlight hike!

 

I truly want to be a fervent pray-er.  Coming to God with an open heart every day.  I’m not always as prayerful as I wish I were.  It’s been on my mind.

Martin Luther wrote, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.”

And a pastor, talking about prayer, compared it to his daily walks & talks with his wife.  Sometimes she is fascinating.  At times their walks are boring and she can even be annoying!  (I’m sure that goes both ways!)  But the cumulative affect of walking and talking day after day strengthens their bond, makes them closer.

And in the same way, prayer can be a struggle at times.  Some days I just say, “It’s me again praying, God, for the people on my heart and mind.”  But some days there is a worship and sweet communion with him that lifts my soul.  The bottom line is to keep showing up.  Drawing hope and strength from those times.

Just read Prayer, Our Deepest Longing by Ronald Rolheiser, a Catholic priest.  Great worthwhile book.
He writes:
“If we pray faithfully every day, year in and year out, we can expect a little excitement, lots of boredom, and regular temptations to look at the clock.  But the bond and an intimacy will be going under the surface: a deep growing bond with our God.”

 

So I wanted to pass on a couple things that have helped me.

I hesitate to write about my little notebook.  I’m not the best model of faithful prayer.  But it’s helped me– and might encourage you in your prayers…

In the morning I sit down with my Bible and my little pink notebook and a mug of tea.  And then I:
#1. Write the date
#2. Read a bit of the Bible and write what it makes me think (the Psalms are a good place to start)
#3. List 3 or 4 things I am thankful for right now
#4. Write down all the friends & family I want to pray for
#5. List the things I want to get done in the day ahead

Then I sit and pray over all of what I’ve written in the book, praising God and asking for help.  Then I start my day.

The other help to me in prayer is praying with other people.  Jackie and Debbie come one morning a week to sit and talk and pray together.  And when my Monday night friends come in each week, we share things we are praying for and talk to God together.  They keep me praying…

That’s it.  Hopeful you find great comfort and strength and joy in prayer too.

 

One more thing!!  –Made this Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread for my Monday night ladies this week.  Some people kick off fall with a Pumpkin Spice Latte, but for me it’s this pumpkin bread–spicy and sweet and delicious warm from the oven.

CHOCOLATE CHIP PUMPKIN BREAD
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1  1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the pumpkin, sugar, oil and eggs.  Then mix in the flour, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice.  Finally stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.

Spoon the batter into a standard loaf pan that has been sprayer with cooking spray.  Bake it up at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.  So good!

 

And here’s a few other favorite quick bread recipes:


Peach Pecan Bread


Orange Strawberry Bread


Cherry Chocolate Banana Bread

 

And one more thought:
Prayer should be the key of the day and the lock of the night.”  — George Herbert

So thankful we can talk to God, day and night.

Ten Blogging Years


Hello Blog Friends– This August marks my tenth year of typing away on this blog.  Really it’s more of a scrapbook of recipes and thoughts I want to hang on to.

I’ve been thinking for a while that I would use this anniversary to close the site down.  Life is full. And there are so many things I want to give more time to–people we love and projects we never seem to get done!

But when I then I thought about now much I would miss it–especially keeping in touch with old and new blog friends (that means you– Lacey, Mollie, Kat, Marcia, Daisy, Suzanne, Lisa, Mary, Carol, Lilly, Cindy, Brigid, Vero, Ursula and Susie!!)

So I’m cutting back to once a week– less recipes, more of life and faith and family.  I think that will fit just fine.

And to mark the happy event of Ten Blogging Years, I thought I’d link to my favorite posts (just click on the blue letters to link through):

 

FAVORITE RECIPES — DISHES FO FAMILY & FRIENDS


Chocolate Cream Cake with Ganache Frosting


Creamy Lemon Parmesan Chicken


Books & Breakfast– A Morning with Friends


Beef Barley Soup


Swedish Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce


Bacon Ranch Potato Salad


Moroccan Spiced Chicken with Apricot Couscous


Overnight Orange Rolls

 

 

FAVORITE THOUGHTS ON LIFE AND FAITH:


True Home


Waiting


My Notebook


Rethinking Christmas


Enough


Aging Well

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FAVORITE BLOG MEMORIES WITH THE FAMILY:


Christmas With the Crew 2015


Wonderful Woodsy Wisconsin Wedding Weekend


Good Times in Big Bear


Grammy Camp 2017


Cambria with Kids


Sweet Times in San Francisco


On Being A Mom

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FAVORITE BOOK POSTS OVER THE YEARS:

     
     
Booklist Page (Notations of books I’ve read the last 3 years)


Five Favorite Children’s Books!


At Home in the World (& Other Travel Books)

  
Books For A Special Baby

 
  
30 Years of Books (Lit Group favorites)

      
Favorite Books (October 2009)

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FAVORITE TRAVELS FROM HERE TO THERE:


Family Trek Through the Sequoias!


Beautiful Kyoto


Vancouver Days


Wet Market in Lijang China


Lunch in Paris


San Francisco with the Grand-Girls (or Fun in SF with kids!)


Wisconsin Part #2– Off to the North Woods!!

 

Whew! That’s a whole lot of posts.  It wasn’t easy narrowing down to very favorites!!  And if you, by chance, are still reading this overwrought posting– thank you!!  It’s been a joy to send out posts for the last ten years to dear people like you.  I remain thankful.

Piles of Thankfulness


Hey there– I was scrolling through facebook last week and came across a post from Amit, one of the smartest, most inventive, intentional people.  It was his birthday and he asked friends to leave a comment of something they were thankful for –as a gift to him.

He started it up–being thankful for a day on the playground with his nephew.  And he promised to donate $1 to an organization that helps small businesses around the world for each thankful comment.

It was heartening to read through the piles of thankful comment thoughts–  Matt was thankful to be a parent, the most humbling and rewarding experience he’s had so far.  Duane, thankful to be able to use and move his body.  Alex mentioned beaches and friends.  And Grace was thankful for the internet and instantaneous communication between friends.  Melissa talked about the luxury of a home. Cold coconut water and new babies and rainstorms also made the list… I added our beautiful, soul lifting hikes in Sequoia.

I checked back today and Amit had donated $175 for all those thankful thoughts.

It made me think again how wonderful (in the true sense of wonder) it is to review all that we can be thankful for.  I want to pile up reason upon reason to be thankful, to thank God for all those things big and small–to be overwhelmed with that wonder and thankfulness.

“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good.”  –Psalm 107:1

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”    — Colossians 3:17

And a favorite quote from George Herbert (Welsh, 1590-1633)
“Thou that hast giv’n so much to me,
Give one thing more, a grateful heart.”

P.S.  photo–walking to the swimming hole on our camping trip a couple weeks ago.

Waiting


Hi friends– Here’s a bit I wrote for the Women’s Blog at church.  It means a lot to me– Thought you might be waiting on something in your life too…

WAITING

I am not a patient “waiter.” I think you know what I mean. Waiting in line at the market in the 5:00 afternoon rush—or waiting on the phone, way beyond reason, to be connected the person I need to talk to. It gives me the fidgets.

Right now Larry and I are waiting on a matter of much greater magnitude. At times, it’s kept me awake in the night. And made my mind run to the worst outcome. The wait has stretched long beyond what we had hoped.

But in waits of consequence, I do find myself coming to God with my impatient prayers—taking him up on his “cast all your cares upon him” offer (I Peter 5:7). He knows me– my hopes, my needs, my impatience with the lengthening wait. I can rest and trust him in that.

On the back page of my Bible, I’m making a growing list of verses that talk about waiting. Exodus 12:40 recounts the Israelites waiting 430 years in Egypt. Yikes!

It heartens me to read “morning by morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation” –Psalm 5:3. Expecting God to hear and help.

And I love Psalm 33:20-22. “We wait in hope for the Lord; … for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” Hope and unfailing love—It’s what he gives at times like this.

C.S. Lewis said, “I am sure God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait.” Got it.

And Elizabeth Elliot understands the depths of waiting—“Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting hearts to God about it whenever it intrudes upon ones thoughts.”   She’s right. It’s the uncertainty that’s gnawing at me and the lifting it up to God that makes it bearable.

So I’m trying to find contentment , even joy in the wait. I don’t want to foolishly miss the good in “now”. The wait could be time to reconcile myself to news I don’t want to hear when the wait is over, to be ready. It could be a rest in the road—to read or quilt or play with grand-kids or care for friends who have their own waits. I think it’s called “living in the moment” even as I impatiently wait.

This I know. God’s love is unfailing and that is where I put my hope. So for now, I’m waiting.

P.S. photo from a park walk this evening with our Wisconsin kids.