One of my favorite things is to have a girl friend or two over for dinner. Just a couple people or one on one so you can really talk and get to the heart of another person. A couple weeks ago I had a girl friend over for brunch. We sat around this table for a good while chatting and getting to know one another better. It's so great being around a table with someone else.
On the menu: a fruit spread, blueberry muffins, and quinoa breakfast recipe from Shauna Niequist's book Bread & Wine.
Delicious coffee and orange juice.
Such a good time. I need to be more purposeful and do this more often!
Growing up, my mamaw (grandmother) and I baked. This is what we enjoyed doing together.
She was an amazing baker. She baked her daughters wedding cakes, and cookies galore for any event we had. She knew her stuff!
I grew up at their house. I was there almost every day after school. I was there on weekends. I loved them. My pap was a gardener, and a professional lottery player that cherished his Hostess treats (Twinkies).
My mamaw was a homemaker that genuinely cared for others. She was so hospitable. She hosted baby showers, wedding showers, family reunions, graduation parties, etc. If your family member is in the hospital, then she was bringing you a meal. She genuinely cared for the people she loved and even those she barely knew.
This past Thanksgiving, my mamaw was very sick. She was on hospice, and my heart was breaking to see her this way. She was a "do-er". It was the worst thing for her that she could not get up and cook at Thanksgiving.
So I brought the Turkey to her for approval.
She was one of my best friends.
This day I sat down with her and we talked about what Christmas cookies I should bake. My cousin, Lydia, was to get married in March. We all had a certain cookie at our wedding we call "lady locks" that are a cream filled very delicate cookie. Mamaw and I made these together. She taught me how and it's one of my favorite cookies!
She asked me then, knowing she likely would not make it, if I would make these lady locks for my cousins wedding.
It was an emotional day making these cookies.
My mamaw passed away December 16, 2013, and I kept my promise.
This past weekend was the wedding. The cookies were a hit. I made 11 dozen and they were gone in minutes.
The cookies are hard to make. They are time consuming and the dough is very delicate. You cut the dough into thin strips, and wrap them around a round clothes pin to make them tubular. You bake them on the clothes pin and then let them cool. After cooling, you slide them off the clothes pin.
This is the tricky part, because usually this is when they break. I laughed because there were a lot of times while I was making them that I sounded just like mamaw. I remember when they would break and she would let a "well, shit" under her breath and just look at me and smile. I definitely had a few "well, shit" moments that day.
After they cool completely off the clothes pin, you make a cream filling and fill them with an icing decorating bag.
A friend of my aunt had my mamaw bake these a couple times for events at her house. At the wedding she came up to me and told me that mamaw would be proud.
I started to tear up just thinking about it.
I miss her so much.
I hope she was looking down and proud that day. Not only for those cookies, but how beautiful Lydia's wedding was, and how beautiful of a bride she was.
Being in the kitchen is where I feel at "home". It's where I am the happiest (aside from my bed probably!) I love nothing more than mixing up a feast. Having the oven on, every burner on the stovetop range with a bubbling pot or simmering onion, timers beeping and measuring out flour, spices, flavors, that is my happy place. I love this place. I love the kitchen.
After getting married and moving away from home, I learned this about myself. I love cooking, and even more I love baking. On top of all that, I love having people into my home. I love showing people love through the taste of food and comforts in my home. I get true and utter happiness preparing a table for people to sit around and talk, eat, and get to know each other on a new level.
I remember our first tiny apartment in the northern suburbs of Chicago. We had a tiny living room/dining area, a galley kitchen and one bedroom and a tiny bathroom. It was built in approximately 1970 and had the same carpet, same horrible plastic type baseboards and was so dusty I was at the doctor about 100 times for my allergies in the 2 years we lived there. Having people over was scary at first. I started having people in our building over because I knew that they knew what we were dealing with here. Once I got over it, put up some decorations and painted my hutch mustard yellow and fell in love with "our first home" a little bit (as much as possible...) I started branching out and having more people over. I realized that people didn't care.
(my mom and I cooking Thanksgiving dinner in our kitchen in Chicago, and our first Thanksgiving meal together in Chicago with our neighbors and my parents)
I recently read a book by Shauna Niequist that truly spoke to my soul. Her third book is titled "Bread & Wine" and it's an amazing book that I highly recommend you run out to Barnes & Noble or your closest bookstore and buy right now, and in case you live somewhere like me that has 3 feet of snow and the thought of leaving your pajamas and the couch creates a true panic attack, get it on your Kindle or reader asap and start reading. I promise you won't be able to put it down.
This is a quote from that book, and it is so true of my feelings and how I grew from having people over being about showmanship and a beautiful place setting and more about making people comfortable.
"What people are craving isn't perfection. People aren't longing to be impressed; they're longing to feel like they're home. If you create a space of love and character &creativity&soul, they'll take off their shoes and curl up with gratitude and rest, no matter how small, no matter how undone, no matter how odd".-Shauna Niequist "Bread & Wine"
Once I let people into my home, I fell in love. When we moved to Grand Rapids, we were renting again. Having a dining room wasn't on my radar, especially with apartment hunting. That's not really what we were looking for. Matt and I have learned so much in our marriage through hosting people. Making things work. My husband is such a patient man. Sometimes, I admit, I can become a bit insane when things don't go right in the kitchen and then He helps me move the entire apartment around to host meals.
We have our house church at our house once a week. We have meals together, we get to know one another. We live life together. A group of 15 people smashing into our living room with floppy card tables and metal chairs. When we got married, Matt's grandparents gave us their table from when they were married. It's metal, and green top 1950s style. It weighs about 100 lbs I swear. My husband and I lug that thing into our living room and move the tv and everything out and we have people snuggle up on the couch at one end of the table, and someone smashed against the wall in a metal chair at the other end, and we eat. We feast in fact!
Something our church here in Grand Rapids has done that we love and have been so blessed by is "family meals". A church member signs up to host a meal in their house with a purpose and a meal planned, and then church members sign up to come to a meal. We have hosted and gone to meals at others houses and we have always been so blessed. To walk into some strangers home for dinner is truly amazing. It's such a blessing. Some may think it is so weird, but it's really a great way to get to know people in such a raw way.
(a picture from our meal prep a couple weeks ago)
We have gotten to know some of our closest friends from just inviting them into our home for food , drink, and time around the table together.
(a table set for four. something about having other couples
We love hosting parties as well! We recently had an Oscar party and it was so much fun!
I've decided that this is something I really want to feature here on the blog. I recently got a nice new professional(ish) camera from a friend and I am ready to embark on this journey! So be ready for posts on food around the table, place settings, recipes, parties, and food and at times my inadequacies in these things and things that go wrong in the kitchen.
I'm really excited about it! Stay tuned for updates!
I literally have no idea what to put as the title of this blog post.
This whole blogging world is still really something I have a love/hate relationship with. The more I dive into it, the more I feel like it's just another social media outlet to make our lives look so sparkly and shiny. To make us look like we have it all together. It's a place to post pictures of our perfect children, our perfect husbands, our perfect houses.
I don't want my blog to be that.
I know that the entire blogging world does not consist of this, but the blogs I follow mostly make me feel like my two bedroom apartment is inadequate. They make my heart long for a beautiful house with subway tile back splashes, barn wood accents, and a beautiful kitchen that I can cook up delicious meals like risotto and beef bourguignon (and yes I did have to google how to spell that!)
The inadequacy and low self esteem truly eats at my soul sometimes. As much as my heart is longing for the house of my dreams, a precious baby in my arms, and the time and energy to DIY every aspect of my existence, I realize this is not a goal I can achieve, and while my heart longs and my mind thinks on these things all the live long day, I need to learn to be satisfied. I need to learn to soak in every once of sunshine God gives me. I need to remember what reality is. I need to give thanks to God for all He has blessed me with in the small moments and in the dark, dreary, cob webbed infested thoughts of my mind.
Mostly, I just miss an outlet to write my thoughts. I miss a place to put my feelings. So, I'm back in the saddle. The key strokes at my finger tips long to write out what I feel and what I have on my mind... so here it goes again. No plans, no hopes, no striving to be something I'm not. Just words on a (web)page and feelings written out into the world. I hope that in writing things and sharing my heart here that others are blessed. I plan to post even the gross, the ugly, the downright bitter ends of my life here and not jut the sparkly, ravishing, elaborately glamorous (like my life is at all glamorous, let's be real here people) portraits.