Merry Christmas!

Hi there Blog Friends–  We’re deep into tree trimming and cookie baking around here.  My smart young buddy Jenna is coming over to bake this morning and Larry is spending these days shepherding people on a “Walk through Bethlehem” every night at church.  It’s pretty much full on Christmas time for us.  And I’m counting the days until kids walk in the door!

So I’m taking a little Blog Break– to slow down the season, spend time in thankfulness to God and to have sweet time with people we love celebrating together.  At times you just have to simplify– and this is it.

I’ll still be Instagramming at “Rhonda Sittig”

But I’ll be reading along keeping up with all my Blog Buddies– and hopefully will be back posting in the New Year.  Hugs to all!!  And I hope and pray you have a blessed and beautiful Christmas.

     

     

Some Links to our Christmas Favorites:

Chocolate Cranberry “Fruitcake”

White Truffle Cake

Sugar Cookies

Swedish Lemon Hearts

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!  And God’s dearest blessings to you all…

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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:

Hello Autumn!!– and Pumpkin Baking


Hey there friends– It’s come!  Autumn has finally arrived.  Maple leaves are starting to cover the backyard and amazingly, we supposed to see rain tomorrow!! I wonder, are you one of those people who love autumn??  It just seems like a fresh new start after the hot lazy summer days. The best!

“Delicious Autumn!
My very soul is wedded to it,
and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth
seeking successive autumns.”
— George Eloit

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
— L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

I’m with Anne– So glad for Octobers!! Looking forward to the month ahead..

 

      

HOPES FOR OCTOBER
#1.  Pumpkin Cream Puffs– Let the pumpkin baking begin!!
#2.  Pull out my Halloween kid’s books to read with the Grand-girls
#3.  Mugs of hot Caramel Apple Cider
#4.  Hang the Fall Eucalyptus wreath on the front door
#5.  Take a brisk hike through Craig Park and the fall colors
#6.  Join in the Oktoberfest at the Rockwell’s
#7.   Make pots and pots of soup (Corn Chowder, Pozole, Chili)
#8.  Pull down all the cozy sweaters from the top of the closet
#9.  Evening fires in the fireplace & mugs of apple cinnamon tea
#10. Plant the Sweet Peas (for blooms in the spring)
#11. Just sit and watch the leaves drift down from the backyard Maples
#12. Cal Football & mugs of hard cider & a huge bowl of pop corn (Go Bears!)
#13. Harvest Party with my MOPS moms & their adorable kids!
#14. Have our friends in for Sunday Supper– pumpkin pancakes
#15. San Francisco with Mom to see her great grand-kids for Halloween.
#15. Make our Thankful Heart Chart to be ready for November 1st!

 

Started in on the list this week with those Pumpkin Cream Puffs– They look tricky to make, but cream puffs are so easy– and the way they puff up in the oven to be light and hollow is like magic!


LITTLE PUMPKIN CREAM PUFFS
Puffs:
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
pinch salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs

Filling:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Garnish:
powdered sugar for dusting the tops

Set oven to 425 degrees.

In a saucepan bring the water, butter and salt to a rolling boil.  Take the pan off the heat and stir in the flour until it forms a big glob.  In a separate bowl whisk the eggs together and then with a fork beat the eggs into the flour mixture until it’s a sticky smooth batter (no lumps! takes a few minutes)

Drop the batter by rounded spoonfuls onto baking sheets that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Leave about 2″ between each puff– they will grow!!  Pop them in the hot oven for 20 to 25 minutes until they are puffed and golden.  Let them cool completely, then slice each puff horizontally with a serrated knife.

To make the filling, beat the cream, powdered sugar and pumpkin pie spice with an electric mixer until it is a stiff cream.  then gently fold in the pumpkin.

Drop a spoonfuls of filling in the bottom half of each sliced puff and then set on the top half (it’s best to not fill the puffs way ahead– they could get soggy!).   Dust with powdered sugar through a sieve.  Makes about 20. Ready to eat!!

And to my way of thinking, there’s never too many pumpkin treats this month.  Here’s a few baking ideas:

Baked Pumpkin French Toast

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Pumpkin Bran Muffins

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Maple Pumpkin Granola

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Pumpkin Pecan Rolls with Maple Glaze

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So HAPPY AUTUMN!!  Hoping you enjoy all the coziness and brisk days.

“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”
–Lauren Destefano

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.

Don’t Give Up


Hello friends– We are on a continuing journey here.  Working through a daunting situation.  Just wishing it were finished.  And these words are just what I needed to hear. There’s Hope in the middle of it all.  I thought maybe they would encourage you too.

“Our job is to be obedient to God.  God’s job is everything else.  Don’t give up dear friend. Don’t give up.”   –Lysa TerKeurst  (author, speaker)

“So let’s not get tired of doing good. At the right time we will reap a harvest blessing if we don’t give up.”    Galatians 6:9 (NLT)

P.S. Photo from last summer’s walk in the Iowa woods.