Celebrating John and Laurel

Hello everyone– This past weekend we celebrated our John and Laurel here in California– They were married in the woods of Wisconsin in August,  so we had a little second party (because you can’t have too many parties!) here at our house for family and friends who couldn’t make it back to the wedding.

There was lots of busy prep going on a couple days ahead– picking up supplies (thanks Lulu & Jenon!), early morning cake decorating,  getting grand-girls all decked out in the “Link’s Camp” shirts! and setting out cupcakes, setting up tables.  (The bride & groom on the cake is from Grandma Lo’s 1949 wedding and has graced many family wedding cakes since!)
     

     

Then in came family & friends to congratulate John & Laurel, here with Roni & Bret– Jill & Tim loading up on bratwurst, salads and Wisconsin cheese!, Jobay hanging out at the cupcake table, chatting with friends, Grandma Lo and soon-to-be-mom Andrea, friends & family under the maples trees…

     

     

And thanks to my trusty kitchen crew (all 7 of you!) who slaved away all afternoon to make it all go smoothly– And the Gayland for brewing up a keg of Wisconsin Spotted Cow Beer!
     

Laurel and I ended the weekend with a birthday shopping trip to Homegoods and the requisite stop at Yogurtland.  Thanks for coming out– love you girl of my heart!

Being Known

“The beautiful thing about God is that even though we cannot fully comprehend his love, he fully comprehends us.”       — Morgan Harper-Nichols  (Daily Life Devotional)

It’s true– we all want someone to truly know us, to understand us deeply.

I had a older woman friend in Spain.  She would have us for coffee and spoil our little kids like they were her own grandchildren.  We would walk arm in arm to the plaza for pastries.

And one day in her kitchen, she told me the story of her marriage to her husband.  She had been in love with another young man, but her parents arranged for this marriage.  He had provided well and it had been a fine home for two sons over the years.  But she ended telling me,  “I just wanted someone to know.”

We want someone to know…  The wondrous thing is that there is one who knows us profoundly and loves us fully– it’s an enormous comfort.  So thankful for the love and understanding of God.

Search me, God, and know my heart;”  –Psalm 139:23

photo– Marin headlands hike

Chocolate Walnut Pie Bars

Hi there– I sure wish you could meet my Monday night ladies.  They come in the door in around 7:00 each week.  I can hear them talking and laughing as they come up the steps.  There are hugs and cups of coffee and when I finally get them to settle in, there is time to read and pray together. It’s a bright spot in my week.

And, of course, we eat.  This week it’s these pie bars– nutty and sweet (a little like my ladies!)

CHOCOLATE WALNUT PIE BARS

Crust:
1  1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted

Filling:
3 eggs
1  1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tab. melted butter
1  1/2 cups chocolate chips
1  1/2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped

To make the crust, mix together the flour and 1/4 cup brown sugar.  Then fold in the melted 1/2 cup butter until it’s all crumbly.  Press the mixture into 9″x 13″ baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, until it’s lightly browned.

While that’s baking, stir together the filling– beat the 3 eggs in a mixing bowl, then stir in the brown sugar and vanilla.  Then mix in the butter, chocolate chips and walnuts.

Spoon the filling carefully over the crust, covering it from edge to edge.  Bake it in the same 350 even for 25 to 30 minutes longer, until the filling is set.  Let it cool completely and then cute into tidy bars!

Joining Jac & Jackie

Hi there– We ended up our trip with a restful stay with the dearest friends Jac & Jackie–at their cabin in small town Endeavor, Wisconsin.  It was 5 days of woodsy walks, quite meals and talks on the porch.  From the first big hug, it felt like we were on a retreat!  Here’s my favorite bits.

Early the first morning Jac & Jackie bundled us into the car to trek down country roads past such farms, wild turkeys and then onto a forested track.  We came out onto a tidy Amish farm with it’s little log cabin bakery.  We stepped in to racks of pies, breads and sweet rolls fresh from the wood fired oven.  Breakfast!

     

Later we wandered over the Amish market– So many baking supplies.  I was wishing my sis Lulu, the baking queen, were there to stock up!

   

We spent a quiet afternoon hiking the 4 mile loop around Devil’s Lake– wooded paths and rocky shores.

     

And mostly there were talks by the campfire, morning walks and morning prayers on the front porch. Such a sweet time with friends we admire.
   

Thank you Jac & Jackie– for feeding us, showing us the Wisconsin countryside, for asking us the important questions and praying and loving us through it all.  You’re the best.

Peach Crostata

Hello all–  When we first arrived in Wisconsin a couple weeks ago, our dear friends Jac & Jackie trekked down to Madison to meet up for dinner with us at our kids house. It was a sweet time catching up with them, and ended dinner with this fresh peach crostata.  Sweet summer peaches– they make any dessert a celebration!  After supper we walked and talked down along the lake in the coolness of the evening– so thankful for J & J.

PEACH CROSTATA

Crust:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick), diced
3-5 tablespoons ice water
a couple more tab. of sugar

Peaches:
5 peaches, peeled, pitted, cut into slices
1 tab. flour
1 tab. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

To  make the crust use a food processor or a pastry blender (Or just 1 forks, if that is what you have on hand!), cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Mix in the ice water, starting with 3 tablespoons and adding more if needed until you have a ball of dough.

Wrap the dough ball in a piece of plastic wrap and set it into the fridge while you prepare the peaches.

Peel, pit and slice the peaches.  In a mixing bowl coat them with the tablespoon of flour, tablespoon of sugar and teaspoon of cinnamon.

Then take the dough from the fridge, roll it on a floured counter with a rolling pin until it makes a 11″-12″ circle.  Set the dough on a baking sheet that has been lined with foil or parchment paper.

Mound the peaches in the middle of the dough and then fold up the edges inward to hold in the peaches.  Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar over the turned up crust.

Put the crostata into a 400 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes– until the crust is nicely browned.  Serve it up hot, cut into wedges,  with a scoop of ice cream!  A fine summer dessert.

Friends

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”
― C.S. Lewis (1898-1963  British author, broadcaster, academic–Oxford University)

Loved this soon as I read it.  I can survive the day on my own, but sharing it with people I love, true friends (you know who you are!), makes the day all the richer, makes this crazy complicated life into a journey with dear companions.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.”  –I John 4:7

Open Heart, Open Home


Table ready for friends to sit and eat and talk 
together.

Hi friends– The year we lived in Costa Rica, we attended a small church in a village, a bus ride and then a kilometer walk from our home.  We loved those people, who opened their church doors and their arms to us.

One Sunday Eunice asked us to her house for tea after the church service.  She stopped by a little roadside market for a couple tea bags and a small packet of soda crackers.  We sat in her small home cobbled together from scraps of boards and a tin roof,  talked over the tea from chipped cups– and never felt more cared for, more welcome.

I learned a lot about hospitality from dear Eunice.  And learned how to meet friends at the door with welcoming hugs from our buddy Jenni.  And from Tim and Jill, how to make conversation around the table sparkle. I’ve learned impromptu meals can be the best from Carmen–as we carried the table and chairs up stairs onto the roof on a sweltering summer night in southern Spain, to sit and talk and sing over plates of simple tapas.

I’ve learned from Jen Hatmaker, who wrote in her book, For the Love–

“A shared table is the supreme expression of hospitality every culture on earth.  When your worn-out kitchen table hosts good people and good conversation, when it provides a safe place to break bread and share wine, your house becomes a sanctuary, holy as a cathedral.”   (page 116)

There’s a joy to setting plates around a table, anticipating friends in the door, praying for them and the time you will spend together.  And also there’s chocolate cake–that’s always good too.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need.  Practice hospitality.   Romans 12: 12-13