High Seas Highlights


Hi all — Just back from our very first time going on a cruise.  Our friends Paul and Sue (experienced cruisers & close friends for almost 40 years) invited us along on a trip up the western coast from L.A. to Vancouver.  So we tagged along and here are some of the best bits about cruising up the coast with good friends.

We arrived at the terminal and settled into our smallish rooms. Then set out to explore the ship–15 floors of lounges, dining rooms, shops and decks and places to settle in.

        

Between ports, we passed the time reading (it’s a gift to have friends who like to sit and read the morning away), eating (too much!) and enjoying the ships entertainment venues (here- a pop concert, interview with a Oscar winning song writer and our favorite piano violinist team from Russia)

     

And of course there was the meals, high tea and snacks galore.  Plus my favorite– a tour of the ships kitchen.

     

     

After 7 pleasant days, we glided into Vancouver B.C. docking right up nestled in the city!! (See Larry at the rail, taking a photo).   And I’ll end with our last late night walk around the deck.  Thanks thanks Paul and Sue.  We love time to talk and laugh and relax with you two!

Field Trip– Judson Studios


A watercolor of the ramshackle Judson Studios building, in the city of L.A.

Hello everyone–  A couple weeks ago our buddy Paul organized a “field trip” for a bunch of us to Judson studios, where they have been turning out gorgeous stained glass since 1897.  It is a family operation, now run by the 5th generation of Judsons.

First stop was the designer’s office, work all done on computers.  Then on to the room of glass samples and tables where it is cut from a pattern.

     

We moved on to the workshop where they bend the lead and assemble the windows.
     

And stepped up into the painters studio, and watched an artists add details to a face to be placed in a church window.
     

   

Thanks Paul and Sue for getting us all together for a wonderful day!

Italian Turkey Sausage & Spinach Lasagna

Hi there — Some men in our church built a sleek, beautiful long table this spring.  It’s being used for a series of “family” dinners.  Anyone can reserve the table for an evening and invite 14 people to come sit around together over dinner.  It’s gone on for weeks, night after night.  There’s a fire in a fireplace and flowers on the table.  But the best is the unhurried conversation, a chance to sit together in the middle of the week.

This week I joined in for dinner with our young adult group friends.  It was pot luck and this was my contribution.  Hearty and hot from the oven, I think you’d like at your table too.

ITALIAN TURKEY SAUSAGE & SPINACH LASAGNA
1 pound Italian turkey sausage
2  28 oz jars of marinara sauce*
1 package no cook lasagna noodles*
16 oz. ricotta
4 cups mozzarella, grated
4 cups spinach, chopped to shreds (about 5 oz.)

Cook the sausage in a deep skillet, chopping it to crumbles with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Drain any excess fat.  Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce into a 9″x 13″ baking dish and then pour the rest of the 2 jars of sauce in with the cooked sausage.

Cover the bottom of the baking dish with the uncooked lasagna noodles.  Spoon little dollops of ricotta over the noddles (using about 1/3 of the carton of ricotta).  Sprinkle on a cup of the chopped spinach.  Ladle 1/4 of the meat & sauce over that.  And finish it of with a cup of grated mozzarella.

Do that same layering 2 more times.

For the top, add one more layer of noodles, 1 cup of spinach, the rest of the sauce and the last cup of mozzarella.

Cover the baking dish with foil (tenting it so it doesn’t touch the cheese) and pop it into a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake it 5 to10 minutes longer until the cheese is beautifully melted.

Let the lasagna sit for 10 minutes to set before you cut into it.  Delish with a bright salad and a chunk of sturdy bread.  Enjoy!

Blueberry Filled Lemon Cake

 

Hello all–  Made this little cake to take along to our Sunday morning group that meets before church.  We’ve been together every week since we were newly weds– 43 years!  And let me tell you, these are my people.

We’ve celebrated babies, and kid’s wedding, then grand-kids together.  We’ve held each other up through cancer and divorce, job loss and problems with our children.  There were camping trips and banana-gram nights, movies and late nights talks over the dinner table together.  When one family lost their family business we chipped in to get their daughter through her last semester of college.  And now we are walking with dear friends through brain cancer and hospice.  There’s more, but I’ll stop– can’t count all the hugs and prayers or the laughter and sorrows shared.

I just wanted to say all this because I’m hoping you have “your people” too.  People who know you deeply and share your faith, who bring meals when you’re down and walk with you in joy and difficult days.  God has them for you– he can help you find them.

 

BLUEBERRY FILLED LEMON CAKE
2 medium lemons, peel grated & juice squeezed
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups fresh blueberries

glaze:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

 

Grate the zest off of the two lemons.  Then cut them in half and squeeze out all the juice.  Set both the zest and juice aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar until well blended.  Then stir in the sour cream, oil and vanilla.  Next , mix in the flour, salt and baking powder.  And finally, stir in all the lemon zest, 1/4 cup of the lemon juice and the blueberries.  Just stir enough until it’s all thoroughly combined.

Spoon the mixture into a 9″ springform pan (or cake pan) that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Then pop it into a 375 degree oven for 45 to 55 minutes until it’s cooked through and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

While the cake is still hot, mix together 1/4 cup of the remaining lemon juice with 1/4 cup sugar.  Stir until the sugar all dissolves.  Then dribble the sugar over the top of the cake and let it sit for 30 minutes to cool before you serve it up.

 

Thanksgiving Big Plans!

Happy Thanksgiving–  Are you ready for the feasting and family, for making pies and giving thanks??  We’re having our meal at our house for the first time in years!  Can’t wait to have grandparents, kids and cousins walk in the door!!

So since I’ve been plotting and making big plans (!) for weeks, I thought you might like a few Thanksgiving ideas I’ve come across. Here’s a few of my favorites:

PLANNING AHEAD
#1.  Find out who’s coming!!  It’s always a good idea to invite a friend or two to round out the family, make it more festive!!  (Have a guest list number to plan tables, amounts of food)
#2.   Imagine your big dream menu–  Then go back and simplify!  You don’t need 12 dishes on the table (3 vegetables?? no!) — narrow down to the very best, what makes it taste like Thanksgiving for your family…
#3.  Grocery shop early in the week– to avoid last minute crowds– And– a frozen turkey needs to defrost in your fridge (1 day for every 4 pounds– so a 20 pound turkey needs 5 days to defrost!)
#4.  Determine when you want Thanksgiving dinner on the table– then count backwards and make a list of start times for each dish!
#5.  Make as many dishes as you can the day before– cranberry relish, cakes, stuffing, make & refrigerate pie crusts, prep veggies…
#6.  Empty out the fridge to make room!  Old leftovers, extra bottles of mustard, less than fresh veggies– Out!!
#7.  Set out serving dishes with a post it note on each one for what will go on the dish.
#8.  Pick up some take home containers to send leftovers home with guests (available at Smart & Final if you have one nearby).
#9. Run the dishwasher Wednesday night and have it empty to use on Thanksgiving.
#10. Set the table Wednesday afternoon and admire it for 24 hours before the big meal.

GETTING THE FEAST ON THE TABLE
#1.  If you have houseguests, send them off for a lovely breakfast out, so you can get to work in the kitchen!
#2.  Tape your recipes up on the kitchen cupboards, easy to see, out of the way.
#3.  Set a cooler in the corner of the kitchen to keep hot things hot before the meal, and to hide dirty dishes after you eat!
#4.  Clean as you go while you cook, to keep counters clear and save yourself from a monumental mess at the end of the day!
#5.  Have a small group?  Just do a turkey breast, about a pound per person.
#6.  Eating early?  Cook two small turkeys in place of one large bird, to cut cooking time.
#7.  If guests want to help ask them to light the candles, open the wine, write out some place cards, read Thanksgiving stories to restless kids.
#8.  Never try out new recipes out on a big cooking day like Thanksgiving.
#9.  Keep appetizers light, a bubbly drink, some salted nuts, or raw veggies– dinner is coming!!
#10. Serve dinner buffet style– easier to manage and just set the cranberry relish, butter, gravy on the dining table to leave room for a pretty centerpiece.
#11. Relocate to the sofa after dinner for a relaxing round of desserts.
#12. Invite the non-cooks to help with the clean up– supply kitchen music and lots of towels.

MAKING IT SPECIAL
#1. A few days ahead, write out a notes detailing why you’re thankful for each guest and on Thanksgiving, tuck them under their plates.
#2.  Organize a family walk in the park after dinner to make room for dessert a little later.
#3.  Before the meal read Psalm 100 and have someone thank God for the year of blessings.
#4.  Post a large sheet of paper titled “Thankful Heart Chart” on the wall.  Set out a mug of markers and have everyone draw small pictures of what they are thankful for– trees, donuts, Grandma Lo, music, turkey, faith, friends…
#5.  Play “Thankful A to Z”– go round the circle and think of something you are thankful for– starting with each letter of the alphabet.
#6.  Have the family all chip in to buy a World Vision gift (chickens, a bicycle, schooling, vaccines) for a family in a 3rd world country.  (catalogues available at worldvision.org)
#7.  Play Thanksgiving charades (act out turkey, pilgrim, Mayflower, pumpkin pie, football…)
#8.  Have your Thanksgiving meal the weekend before the actual Thanksgiving– cheaper airfares, lets everyone also have a Thanksgiving with the other in-laws, less traffic, more people able to come.
#9.  Be liberal with your Thanksgiving hugs and telling people how thankful you are for them.
#10. Kids are only about 2/3 the size of adults.  So they should only have to sit at the table 2/3 as long!

That’s it.  Hoping you are part of a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving feast with people you hold dear.  Happy Thanksgiving!!

P.S. thanks to Holly Hobby for the illustration.

Walking Each Other Home

Hello all–  Thinking through blessings this November, reasons for thanksgiving.  And what comes to mind are the people around us–friends near and far, who share life with us.

Love what Tim Keller wrote:
“Spiritual friendship is eagerly helping one another know, serve, love and resemble God in deeper and deeper ways.”

It’s Jenni handing me a worthwhile book and some sage advice, Jackie stitching up a “family blanket” for us, Lynn walking with me in the mornings sharing her studies, Jenon texting early morning encouragement. It’s Joanne talking though daunting medical concerns and trusting God in it all and Kim rounding us up to make meals for foster kids.  It’s friends (& family) who trekked to Wisconsin to celebrate our Laurel & John’s wedding.

These are the people I want to spend a life with.  I recently heard a TED talk with Anne Lamott– she told about people “walking each other home.”  That’s it.  So thankful to walk my way home with the people God has given us.

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love… Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.”   Romans 12:10 & 15

P.S. photo of Wisconsin farmland from last summer.

 

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!