Books & Breakfast –Morning with Friends

Hi all– This isn’t really a recipe, but an idea that was so much fun, I thought you’d like to know about it.  Saturday morning a tableful of friends came in the door for breakfast and a favorite books “show and tell.”

We started off with a breakfast board down the middle of the table– sort of a help yourself to whatever looks good kind of meal.  Drank mugs of tea and laughed and talked over the week…

Then we all pulled out a short stack of what we’ve been reading lately to recommend to each other.  I typed up the list of books with small descriptions and emailed off the recommendations for everyone to use for future book possibilities.  So fun!  (we all had things to say about each other’s books–adding on movie and podcast ideas).

So here’s the Breakfast Board list –just in case you want to throw one together–
(sort of like a cheese board, but with breakfasty things thrown in!)
Smoked Gouda
Sliced ham
Rye bread
Cranberry walnut bread
Mini blueberry muffins
Hard boiled eggs (salt & pepper)
Pears, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe
Berry jam & orange marmalade, honey
Seedy mustard
(throw on a few flowers for the pretty part)

I got the long board (4′ by 12″) at Home Depot for $8.  Larry sanded and oiled it to make a breakfast worthy serving board.

And here’s a handful of the books we talked about:
Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown
My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl
Hearing God by Dallas Willard
Winter Garden by Kristen Hannah
A Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

Here’s to friends who read and love noisy talks over breakfast!!  Can’t wait to do it again!

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.



“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 

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

Early Thanksgiving


Hello all– Of course I have my share of cranky wake ups, but like Emerson, I woke this morning full of thanksgiving.  This past week has been one of the sweetest– the safe arrival of little baby Lois, days caring for her with Ani & Brian.  And it’s been made all the more sweet sharing the joy with family and friends, old and new.  So any notes, happy phone calls, texts, encouraging words…  Joy passed all around.

So I thank God for this new little soul–so much ahead for her.  It makes me happy to imagine her years to come ( I told her about reading books together and going to the zoo).  And I am utterly thankful for Larry (my co-grandparent), for family who’ve called and texted and (kindly) demanded daily photos!  For friends with beautiful thoughts and words of love.  And the happiness of watching Ani & Brian step into parenthood so deftly.  My heart is full.  I am thankful.

Here’s Ani & Brian with little Lois at the Apple store (Thanks Bri for helping get my laptop fixed!)

thanks anchor-imparo for the Emerson quote.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Friends

Hello there–  These juicy little fellows were on our table on a recent Sunday evening when friends came by to sit around the coffee table for a “Cider & Cheese” supper.  Larry brought home a variety of hard ciders (my favorite was blackberry pear) and we tried them all around and nibbled our way through the evening of convivial conversation with old comfortable friends.  It was just fine.

And it was one of the easiest meals to set out– just buy some flavorful cheeses, good bread, preserves and olives and a little salami and few other snack-ish treats.  And these cheerful tomatoes, roasted to sweetness to sit on a slab of bread with a smear of brie or onion laced cheddar.  I hope you give them a try!

16 oz. box assorted cherry tomatoes
3 tab. olive oil
1/2 tsp. rosemary, spines pulled from the stem
1/2 tsp. thyme leaves (plus a stem for garnish)
freshly ground pepper

Bread and cheese for serving.

Mix everything together in a bowl until the tomatoes are well coated.  Then scrape it all onto a baking sheet and put it unto a 400 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes until the tomatoes and starting to burst.

Serve with thin slices of sturdy bread and your favorite cheese.


Here’s the supper set out and friends around the table (I just love their pretty faces. Too bad the photo is just awful! But they look dear to me anyway.).

Gardeners of my Soul

“Let us be grateful for the people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”   –Marcel Proust

Hi all- So thankful today for the gardeners of my soul– for family far and wide, for old friends nearby– Thank you God, for all the happiness these people give…

. (just like the poppies along the road around us in Spain)


Hi all– Feeling so blessed today–  the hour rocking tender baby Mae in the green chair, quiet conversations over beautiful meals with Aaron & Jessica,  a day out and about today with my Ani,  sunshine in the window and mugs of hot tea,  Larry at home waiting for me, friends who read this little blog…

I could go on…  I’m losing count.  Thanks be to God for all his countless blessings.

German Chocolate Brownie Bites (and old friends)

IMG_9071Hello to you all–  Last weekend we had a little get away with 40 of our closest friends!  Spent a couple days laughing, eating, walking, have time to really talk and getting into a couple hours of intense bananagrams!  It was just grand.  And to contribute to the snacks galore, I took along this little brownie bites.  They are pretty irresistible.

Brownie Mix (9″x13″ pan size)
2 eggs


Make the brownies according to the instructions on the box.  Spoon the batter into mini muffin pans** sprayed with cooking spray.  (makes about 30)  Bake them up at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, until they are firm to the touch.  Cool before putting on the topping.

1/2 cup evaporated milk*
3/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
3/4 cup roasted, salted almonds, chopped

IMG_9091Drop the first 5 ingredients into a heavy pan and stir them constantly over medium heat until they come to a simmer.  Cook 30 seconds more.  Then stir in the coconut and almonds.  Spoon little mounds of the gooey coconut topping onto the cooled little brownies.  Eat them up and pass them out to friends!

*Evaporated milk comes in cans of over a cup– but you can freeze what you don’t use for the next time you need it.
**You can cook them directly in the mini muffin pans, or get these cunning little foil cups from the Kamei restaurant supply store in San Francisco.  Love those little things.

We do so love these old friends– been sharing life’s ups and downs with most of them for over 30 years– There’s no one I’d rather grow old with than these fabulous, fun and faithful friends.  Here they are:


IMG_9116      19616_10151415988784614_11828499_n
photos:  My Larry with Paul– the marathon walkers,  a little wacky after 2 hours of playing bananagrams,  just 4 friends hanging out,  the beach walking buddies.

Thanks Jenni

Hi there– Everyone should have at least one smartsy friend.  I know I do.  I don’t just say that because she has a journalism degree from Cal or that she sets me to reading books I probably would not have attempted each month for our Lit Group.  It’s because when Jenni talks, we’re all ears.

Like yesterday.  A bunch of us got together for breakfast and Jenni gave a little chat, to all of us sixty-ish friends, about living your last decades well.  She promised to give us 50 good ideas, so I thought I’d pass along a few:

Leaving a legacy– Your testimony is the best thing you can leave your children.  You don’t have to be a writer to tell your story…  (also family jewelry is nice to pass on now!)

Food– Stop clipping recipes (I don’t know if I agree with that one!) and perfect your best simple meals.  Plant a veg garden.  And streamline your kitchen.  Do you really need all those gadgets?

Clothing– Get to the size you want to be and stay there!  Then invest in timeless clothing with pieces that all work together (Pretend you are packing for a trip).

Housing– Is it time to downsize?  “Keep nothing in your home you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” –William Morris.

Books, Magazines, Paper– You don’t need to keep every book you’ve read.  Use the library!  And as for piles of paperwork– “Consolidate, sort, act on it”

Gifts–  Give your family and friends events/memories, not more stuff.  She took her grown son the the NCAA basketball playoffs for his birthday.  Now that’s fun!

Relationships– Put your time and energy here.  She used the quote, “Spend all your kisses.”  Don’t let hurts go unreconciled.

Planning and Dreaming– She said, “There is great health in having dreams & goals.” and “If you intend to be a lifelong learner, you will have a quality end of life.”  Then she told about an 85 year old nurse friend who does medical missions trips still.

She summed it all up mentioning a life lived with “intensity & intention”.  Loved that.  Thanks (once again!) Jenni for giving me so much to think about…

PS- The photo above is Jenny at her front door with her sweet husband, Jim.