Friday, September 25, 2009

Vanessa's Sweet Tea

You asked for it, so here it is!

I am often asked for the 'recipe' for the sweet tea I serve. Although there is no real recipe, I have found the way we seem to like it best. I first learned to make tea from my mother-in-law, Jane, many years ago. I have tweaked it and changed it through the years and this is the way I make it most of the time.

Vanessa's Sweet Tea
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1 bag Lipton GALLON Size Tea (or 3 Family Size)
2 cups sugar **
1-1/2 qt. water
Additional water to make 1 gallon of liquid

1. Add enough cold water to fill 1-1/2 quart saucepan to within 3/4 inch of
top. Add 1 Gallon-size tea bag (or 3 family-size or equivalent). Bring just to
a boil over high heat. Remove from heat immediately. Steep for 25 minutes.

2. Add sugar to 1 gallon pitcher or container. Using slotted spoon to hold tea bags, add hot liquid to sugar, being sure to drain tea bags. Stir well to mix sugar. Add cold water to saucepan and pour into gallon container, stirring well after each addition of water. Be sure to drain the tea bags with each addition of water, to remove all the tea goodness out of every bag! Continue to fill to 1 gallon measure. Stir well.

3. Refrigerate. Tea may be served immediately, but is better if allowed to
sit 4-6 hours. Keep refrigerated. Serve over ice and garnish with mint, if
desired. I do not like to serve tea that is more than 2 days old, although
that is rarely a problem!

Note: Add flavored bags for a fun variety. I rarely make "plain" tea
anymore, as we prefer raspberry. Peach is also delicious. Garnish with
frozen peach slices!

** Also: I usually do not make "full sugar" tea anymore. Try Splenda or other sweetener to cut calories. If using the Splenda Blend, use 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of Splenda Blend. If using regular Splenda, use 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of Splenda. Or, use 2 cups of Splenda!

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Update from Charlotte

As I write today, I am sitting in a hotel lobby in Charlotte, North Carolina. It seems so strange and unfamiliar to be writing from here, but it's been so long since I've written and I wanted to let you know what's going on....

We left Ohio on Saturday for a family funeral. My cousin, Lynn, lost her husband unexpectedly last week and Ken and I came down for the services. It was a sad time, as Rickey was only 53 (he would have turned 54 tomorrow), and they have two boys, both still at home. Seth is a high school junior and Brice, who's 14, is autistic. Both services were beautiful and we were so glad we could be there with Lynn and her boys, as well as the rest of the family. (We came to Charlotte yesterday. Ken has a conference here.)

It has felt so strange to travel without Matthew. Of course, he's deep into his 5th week at Miami and could not come with us. Friends and family members, unaccustomed to seeing us without him, asked where he was. When we told them he was at school, they looked a little surprised and again asked where he was, as if we could and did just pick him up at our leisure (how I wish!). Ken and I thought it was really kind of comical; it showed how we weren't the only ones at a loss without our boy! Even relatives thought it strange to see us without him and couldn't imagine that we would leave him at college, apparently, while we traveled south.

I especially wish Matthew could be with us now. We are staying at a beautiful hotel within sight of Charlotte Motor Speedway. Ken even had the opportunity to ride around the Nascar track last night (and was especially impressed, it seemed, with the track's "banking," which was evidently all they say it is...) Matthew would have loved that and the golf course we're backed up to.... Funny, isn't it, how even though when our kids get older we still think of the things they love and love to do?

Even though we lived in this area of North Carolina and I sold real estate in Charlotte (as well as in Durham, when we lived there), it's changed so much since we lived here! Of course, that does seem like another lifetime ago... Ken and I are hoping to scout the area this evening, after his meetings are over. I'm not sure how far we'll get, but I have my eyes on a huge IKEA store I saw on the way in....

In the meantime, I am so grateful that hotels now have wireless internet - just like at home! A friend mentioned to me on the phone yesterday that a lot has changed in the last year. She mentioned that a year ago Matthew would have been home, but I would not have been free to travel with Ken like this. Fortunately, Ken doesn't travel much (I say fortunately, because he HATES it!). Writing about it today reminds me of 'Fortunately/Unfortunately,' a game we used to play with Matthew. It goes something like this:

Unfortunately, we had to come to Virginia for a funeral.
Fortunately, we were well enough to travel and were able to visit with family and old friends.
Unfortunately, Matthew was unable to come,
Fortunately, he is at Miami, which he loves.
Unfortunately, Ken had to come to Charlotte afterwards.
Fortunately, I was able to come with him.
Unfortunately, he's in meetings today (which is, after all, why we're here!)
Fortunately, I have a laptop and can travel with him.

If we look hard enough, we can find the fortunate in the unfortunate. Can you find a silver lining in whatever gray clouds hang above you in your 'sky' today? We all have the clouds - the challenge is to find the blessings also hidden there.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hello Friends.

I’m sorry I’ve been out of touch for so long. Some of you have been inquiring, wondering what’s been going on. It’s been a busy time. Here’s what’s new...

Sad news…
We learned last night that my cousin, Lynn, lost her husband, Rickey, yesterday. They had been married 22, maybe 23 years and have two sons, Seth, a high school junior and Brice, a 14 year-old son with autism. Lynn and I grew up together. Both only children, we are only 10 months apart in age and although we used to be very close, we had grown apart in recent years. Recently that’s been changing and I have felt a closeness with her that I have missed. Please pray for Lynn, Seth and Brice during these difficult days ahead.

An update on Janet
Janet is doing great. In fact, she has been moved to an extended care facility. She was finally well enough to have a tracheostomy and is off a ventilator. I understand she is learning to communicate with a trachestomy tube, an exhausting and frustrating process which takes time to master. She is alert and ate a little applesauce recently – her first solid food since being placed in intensive care nearly a month ago. Although she has many months of therapy ahead of her, her spirits are good and she is gaining strength every day. Janet is truly a miracle!

An update on Joyce
Joyce is doing great, too! She and her husband, Chris, were here last weekend and spent the night with us. Joyce had an appointment with her doctor in Dover on Monday. He was very pleased with her progress and after a month of a liquid diet has released her to (soft) solid food. Woo-hoo! Boy, is she excited!

1st Class
My first class was this week. It was a small class and those ladies were hungry for information about hospitality! I hope I was able to provide them with a few ideas that they were able to take home with them and use in their homes with their families and friends. That is certainly my goal. Those sweet gals were my guinea pigs – poor things! Thank you, ladies, for your patience and for your interest! It was fun meeting each one of you. Thank you for sharing your evening with me.

More postings to follow. Thank you all for your support of me and this hospitality blog!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Savannah in August

While flipping channels one day last week, I saw Paula Deen on Oprah. I rarely watch the show, but seeing Paula brought back memories of meeting Paula and visiting Savannah, so I just had to watch for a few minutes. On that particular show (which was rerun highlights), Paula had a mishap with the mixer. That was her first Oprah appearance, they said, but she handled it with the style, grace and humor for which she has become known. I had the privilege of seeing that same grace and humor firsthand when I attended Paula’s cooking class in Savannah. The way I landed in the class was nothing short of amazing, but it is a twist of fate for which I will always be grateful.

We had the opportunity to visit Savannah that first time a few years ago. Ken, Matthew and I were looking for a different vacation destination location that summer. We’d been tossing around various ideas with our small group (Bible study) friends for a month or so. Donna and Harold (who have the lovely pond with the frogs I wrote about before) suggested Savannah on more than one occasion. I must have appeared skeptical, because Donna said, “I think you’d really like it,” Other friends, Dave and Ruth, who’d also visited, told us, “It’s got this really neat City Market with all these little shops and a wonderful historic district.” Well, it did sound appealing, but had I known the attraction I’d feel for Savannah, I’d have wanted to leave that night!

We did go as it turned out, and I should tell you that we went in August. Let me say that again. We went in August. To Savannah. Georgia. And we loved it! Yes, it was hot….meltingly hot (I don’t even know if that’s a word, but it was that hot, and we still loved it!). So that should tell you how smitten we were! Even though Ken and I had lived in South Carolina right after we were first married and also in North Carolina later on, we knew how hot it was that far south late in the summer. Yet, we wanted to try something different and we (amazingly) went to Savannah in August. And yes, we all loved it. It was an experience we will never forget.

First of all, we left for Geogia from Tennessee, where we had already been vacationing, and we had no reservations for our time Savannah. We never do that. We always have reservations, make plans, know roughly what we’re going to do in an unfamiliar area. We actually arrived in Savannah with no reservations. I was a bundle of nerves. WHAT WERE WE THINKING? We drove around Savannah, and we spotted a beautiful hotel on the river. Wow, wouldn’t it be awesome to stay there, we wondered aloud? Ken called, checked availability, and actually made reservations at that moment! In fact, we drove right to the hotel entrance and from within five minutes of the time we spotted the hotel, we were in the lobby, checking in. I remember being amazed at how easy all of that was. (On a side note, the heat of the summer season could misdirect an uninformed soul to think that's why such accommodations were so readily available. However, Savannah's Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau were hard at work because its its Convention Center was fully booked at that time!)

So, with Step 1 to ensure a fun Savannah vacation complete, Ken was on to Step 2: Securing a ticket for me to the Paula Deen cooking class. I should mention that this was when Paula was doing her cooking classes in Savannah in her restaurant. I learned before we left home for Tennessee that the ONLY classes Paula had left to teach that summer were being taught the very days we were in Savannah, but there was NO availability. I was so disappointed! I really wanted to go to one of her classes, and I was heartbroken that her only remaining class that year was full, and had been full, apparently, for quite some time. In fact, that’s why we hadn’t made reservations for Savannah earlier. When we talked with our friends about Savannah, I thought it would be a nice to place to visit, but would I feel the same if I couldn't attend the cooking class? I wasn't so sure. Yet, Ken was convinced we should venture to the southern city to give it a whirl...

So, here we were, in beautiful Savannah, where Ken, my dear, sweet, husband, was determined that I WOULD attend that class. So, with Step 1 in his proverbial rear view mirror, Ken was ready to take on Step 2. At this lovely hotel, with its concierge, surely, Ken thought, they must reserve some tickets for the Paula Deen cooking classes. He contacted the concierge to inquire. No, they were very sorry, but those tickets sold out very early because they were in such high demand. No kidding. However, might they recommend The Lady & Sons Restaurant? They could give the hours where, although they didn't accept reservations, guests could stand in line for a ticket for a time to return for dinner. You’ve got to be kidding? Ken thought. (It’s true, we learned. Twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, a line forms where tickets are given for approximate meal times. These are similar to reservations, but they are not exact times and they do not refer to them as reservations. Sometimes these lines form hours before tickets are disbursed and people wait for these prized tickets in the hot, Savannah sun. Upon returning for the noon or evening meal, however, the wait is generally only 5-10 minutes, and the food is wonderful!)

Ok, back to Step 2....
So, my determined husband who was not easily deterred, called the Lady & Sons Restaurant to inquire if they had any tickets available for Paula’s classes that week. No, they didn't, but he did learn that the following days’ class would be taught at Bubba’s Oyster House at Tybee Island (Bubba is Paula’s brother and this was his new restaurant). That was only a ten minute drive or so from downtown Savannah, they told him.

So, no luck with the Concierge or the Lady & Sons getting tickets to Paula’s class. Yet, my husband was determined that I was going to that class. “But honey, it’s filled,” I said. Needless to say, on the morning of the class, we were off to Bubba’s. The staff at Bubba’s warmly greeted us and when I explained that I had come all the way from Orrville, Ohio they were impressed and then promptly explained that they were very sorry, but unless someone cancelled, they had no openings for the class that day. In fact, they further explained, they were already doing a double class that day due to a bus line scheduling problem the previous day and were completely full (thus the relocation to Bubba's). They told me I was welcome to wait. If someone cancelled, they would love to have me in the class.

Afraid to leave the place I had inside already with all the excited folks waiting to see Paula and attend her cooking class, I used my cell phone to call Ken and Matthew who were waiting outside. (Even though I had no ticket, and no reason to think I'd get inside the class anyway, it was like I thought the enthusiasm of those around me would whisk me inside with them, I guess.) “Just wait there,” Ken assured me. “You’ll get in.” Even though everyone showed up (it was, after all, Paula Deen!), amazingly, I was able to get in. At the last minute, a staff member approached me, smiled, brought me the bag of "goodies" that went with the class, and asked for a credit card to pay for the class fee. I'm not sure if it was the look of determination on my face, the fact that I was willing to sit and wait for an opening, or the sheer will of my husband (and perhaps his prayers on my behalf for a gift he so wanted to give me), but for whatever reason those dear people at the Paula Deen Show let me attend class that day.

And it was the most wonderful gift! It was 3 hours of cooking, sampling and 'dishing' fun (Ken and Matthew made their own fun - golfing maybe. Quite honestly, I don't even remember!) I don’t normally see myself as a starstruck person, but Paula really was wonderful. She made so much effort to make those who attended feel welcome and special. I found her to be warm and genuine. I felt like we were sitting in her kitchen while she cooked for us. She shared a lot of her personal history and if you are familiar with Paula, you know she tends to share a lot of herself. In fact, it could be said that she shared way too much personal information, but she just laughed heartily while doing so, like she didn't have a care in the world. It was really like being with an old friend or like someone I wished was an old friend. She was fun and feisty. She put humor and life in the kitchen where my mother showed me it should always begin. She showed all of us that we can enjoy ourselves while we're in the kitchen. That's a lesson I first learned from my mother and I was thrilled to share it again with Paula in her cooking class.

As far as Savannah....we loved every part of Savannah, with its dozens of beautiful city squares and moss-draped trees and its rich history, not to mention City Market with its lovely shops and River Street, with all its lovely shops. We returned to Savannah a couple of years later and stayed at the Hamilton-Turner Inn, a Bed and Breakfast on one of Savannah’s beautiful squares. It was the first house to have electricity in Savannah. We stayed in one of the beautiful suites on the 4th floor, and even when we made the reservations, we knew there were no elevators. This is a historical mansion and I really wanted to experience what it would be like to stay there. I somehow convinced Ken and Matthew they did, too. And guess what month we went that year? Yep, we went again in August! What were we thinking? And yes, we loved it! And it was so hot! We'd go outside and melt! Amazingly, we did get a little used to the heat after a day or two. I want to vist next time in May, when the magnolias are in full bloom. That sounds like pure heaven on earth! Even though Savannah is like no other place I've ever lived, in many ways I feel like I've gone home when I go to Savannah. I look forward to returning. In May this time. Or August. If it's Savannah, I'll even go in August.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Our Boys Were All Home This Weekend

But no, they weren't dressed like this! This photo was taken at their senior prom. From left to right are Jacob, Cody, Matthew (our biological son :-) and Trent.

I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to hear the garage door open on Friday night and to know that Matthew had arrived home safely from college. Ken and I looked at each other, arose from the couch excitedly and went out to hug and greet our baby boy, uh, I mean our young man. How wonderful it was to see him! And I do believe he grew 2 inches taller in the two weeks since we had last seen him! He's already nearly 6'5". How much more can he grow?!

We had the most amazing weekend! We learned about the classes Matthew is taking and the professors he has this term. They are some very colorful people! He shared some funny stories and some interesting anecdotes about campus life as only Matthew can. He told us about friends he's met and clubs and organizations he's interested in. We listened to him talk and loved every minute of it.

We were also delighted to have Matthew's close group of friends overnight one of the nights, too. They played video games and then crashed in the basement. It was just like so many nights from the recent past. As we made breakfast for them, Ken and I cried because we were so emotional, happy to have our kids all together again. You'd think these grown young men would be embarrased by such a sight or think us silly (and heck, maybe they did), but I have to tell you, what I saw was something way more mature. I saw understanding for our feelings. I saw affection returned and I saw appreciation for the love they sensed coming their way. Our 'boys' may be young men now, but they will always be our boys.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Thoughts on Supper Swapping

(This photo has nothing to do with supper swapping, but these are the gals with whom I supper swapped! Here Linda, Wanda and I are photographed after church one Sunday while on vacation together. At home in Orrville, we all go to different churches. In fact, both their husbands are pastors.)

Have you ever thought about participating in a supper swap? Do you know what I mean by the term 'supper swap'? It’s when you team up with friends, neighbors and/or co-workers to make meal-time easy! Trish Berg, author of The Great American Supper Swap, says “Supper swapping is moms helping moms by sharing the cooking responsibilities for their families. One day a week you cook enough food for everyone in your group, usually 3 -5 families. You keep one meal for your family and deliver the other meals to the families in your group. The rest of the week, they deliver supper to you.” Sounds easy enough, right?

Now that Ken and I are empty-nesters, we don't cook as much as we did and we are not currently participating in a supper swap (which I actually miss a little). However, every fall I always think a lot about supper-swapping since that's the season when we started. I guess that's why it's been on my mind a lot lately and also why I thought you might enjoy reading about the experiences Wanda, Linda and I shared during our supper swapping days.

I first learned of this concept from an article I read in Today’s Christian Woman, one of my favorite women's magazines (by the way, I just learned yesterday, TCW is no longer going to be published. It's going to be strictly an e-magazine). I read the article about three years ago and suggested the idea of supper swapping to Linda and Wanda, two friends who were also willing to give it a try.

Incidentally, I later realized that the author of the article and the aforementioned book, Trish Berg, is a gal who lives in Dalton, a community very close to our town of Orrville, Ohio! What a small world! In fact, after my friends and I met to discuss the idea of doing this, Wanda presented Linda and me each with a copy of Trish’s book, The Great American Supper Swap, after she heard Trish speak locally.

As the book suggested, before beginning the supper swap, the three of us met to discuss how we would approach it. Even though there were just our 3 families, it seemed to be such a huge undertaking at first! Some groups swap with 4 or even 5 families! We thought we'd be flying for 3 of us to do it since we live close together and it would be easy to deliver meals to each other. As it turned out, 3 did turn out to be perfect for us and we opted to leave our supper swap group at that size. (My friend and neighbor, Janeen, later started one with 5 in her group, and they love it!)

We also learned from the book that it's best to begin supper-swapping with families similar in size to your own. That makes sense from a meal prep standpoint. I mean, if there are 4 in your family, it really wouldn't feel normal for you to make dinner for a family of 7 or 8. Both Linda and Wanda have 4 in their families, and although we only had 3 at the time, as Matthew was still at home then, we always planned on at least one extra teenager for dinner, so that worked out great for us, too.

Before commiting to it long-term, we decided we’d try it for a month with each of us cooking once each week for the other families. So we met with calendars in hand and ideas of dishes to prepare. Not knowing how much to make or really where to start, we were still anxious to give it a try. We decided to make one main dish and one side dish each time. So, for example, on my night, I might make baked spaghetti with a salad and bread. Often we would add items, but only the two items would be planned and depended upon. (We figured we could easily add an extra veggie, salad or bread ourselves on our own, if we chose.) We decided our menus in advance so that we didn't plan to prepare chicken for our families when we cooked for ourselves in addition to when we cooked for each other. That all worked out better than we thought. Not knowing exactly how much food we would need, we made more than we needed. That turned out great because we often had leftovers, depending on the meals, which generally meant we had enough meals for the weekday meals. We liked that! That first month went great and we loved it, so we continued to swap.

I loved the 'swapping' part of the day! I looked so forward to packing up the food I had prepared for my friends and carrying it to my car to be delivered! Sometimes Ken or Matthew would help me deliver. Matthew had just gotten his license as I recall, and sometimes he would do the delivery himself! And wow, did I look forward to seeing my friends come in with their delicious food! Yum-my! I love to cook, but I really looked forward to having them deliver our supper! There were some days when we would have extra kids for supper (not unusual for us) and I'd just add some extra stuff to the dinner table. I'd always tell the kids who'd supplied what. I remember telling Trent (one of our boys) one night that Mrs. Pfahler had made something one night, and he responded, "Yeah, I remember when she made that once before!" Like I said, these kids were regulars at our house. Once we had favorite dishes, we would request them monthly. We'd meet at one of our favorite local restaurants for breakfast (a good excuse for a girls' outing!) and start our planning for the next month's meals. It might start out something like... "I don't know if you have anything in mind, but Vanessa, we'd love to have those Chickens Puffs again..."

We tried foods we wouldn’t normally try and we learned to be honest. What we were willing to try once sometimes we wanted to try only once. And we were honest about that. We decided at the beginning that we needed to be upfront about those kinds of things and we were. Wanda, a health-conscious person who liked my (baked) Chicken Puffs, was not so excited about seeing my family's favorite fried foods on the menu. (But I am from the SOUTH! I would jokingly remind her.) So, we worked around those things and honored each others' opinions. It was a wonderful learning experience for all of us. I would not trade that time for anything.

When Wanda decided to take a break from participating for a few months, she told us she really missed not seeing us. It’s amazing how those few minutes a few times a week helped each of us to feel connected to each other.

We prayed for each others’ families in a concerted effort on the days we cooked. I felt really close to my friends’ families, especially on those days. Preparing food is very personal and truly is a labor of love.

We decided to take a hiatus during specific sports seasons because it was difficult to work out schedules. We picked up the swapping at a later time, but Wanda later opted out, telling us that she was "the weakest link." We assured her that was not the case! Her salisbury steak is heavenly and you've already heard me rave about her cinnamon rolls in a previous posting! Yet, for her, the timing had run its course and Linda and I understood.

Linda and I continued swapping on and off, depending on our schedules. Even now, although we don't swap on a regular basis, I am often blessed by a call from Linda when she knows I've had a particularly busy or stressful week, telling me she's bringing over supper. Oh, that is music to my ears! Her chicken pot pie, as they say, is to die for! And I would be remiss if I did not mention her Asian broccoli salad...and her chicken and noodles, oh my goodness! Linda's cooking reminds me so much of my mom's cooking, so to me it's comfort food. I try to reciprocate and help her out with meals sometimes, too. She has a fondness for my chocolate chip cookies. And that reminds me, I'm sure I'm long overdue in making something for her family.

Obviously, I cannot adequately explain all the nuances of supper swapping in such a small space. I just wanted to share some of my personal insights with you and to tell you that supper swapping enriched my life and my friendships and for that I am so grateful. I am happy to answer any questions about my supper swapping experiences anytime. You are welcome to contact me here, by email or on Facebook.

To learn even more about all aspects of this fun endeavor including how to start your own group, the best recipes for supper swapping beginners, cooking/baking container suggestions, how it will save you money, Q & As, and so much more, BUY THE BOOK!!! It's a wonderful resource. Or better yet, visit the library and borrow the book. Also, Trish Berg's website is full of useful free downloads like recipes and calendars. She will even do a free 15 minute chat on the phone with your group to answer questions to help get you started - all more than I could offer! So, if you haven't already, I hope you'll check out Trish Berg's website at:

Incidentally, I've also attended a small group session she held on supper swapping and highly recommend her as a speaker for any function you might have at your organization or church. She fun, funny and down to earth. Again, the book is The Great American Supper Swap by Trish Berg.

If you have even an inkling to try it, find a friend or co-worker with an interest and give it a whirl. You might just be surprised at how fun it can be. It can enrich your life and your friendships more than you can imagine.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Prayers for Janet

Please pray for my cousin, Janet, who is in intensive care in a Chicago hospital.

As many of you know from Facebook and email, Janet has been diagnosed with H1N1 and is in critical condition. She is being brought out of the medically induced paralysis and coma that she has been in for a couple of weeks. Over the next few days, tests should reveal what, if any, damage has been done to her body as a result of the infection. Please pray for Janet and her husband, Dallas. Her grown children are Dallas and Allysha. (Also, her mom is Juanita, one of my favorite aunts, about whom I have written on different occasions.)

Janet is such a fun-loving person. She loves to laugh and although she's only a few years my senior, she's always been someone I've admired. A characteristic I've noticed about her is her sensitivity. When the family gets together and then gets ready to separate, Janet is always the first to cry, hesitating to break away. I think she realizes how precious family is and that we have no guarantees that we'll all be together again. Please pray for Janet. She is precious to all of us.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Leaving A Legacy

I had intended to write about supper-swapping today, but I have something else on my heart and feel I must share it...

I received a gift this week. A simply gift, really, but one that touched my heart deeply. My best friend, Linda, learned that I wanted a specific ringtone for my cell phone. She surprised me by having her son, Matthew, send it directly to my phone. I cried when I received it because this song has such special meaning to me. The song is Legacy and was written and recorded by Christian artist, Nichole Nordeman. I don’t know if you are familiar with it, but I am including the lyrics, below. Please note especially the chorus, which I have highlighted.

I don't mind if you've got something nice to say about me
And I enjoy an accolade like the rest
You could take my picture and hang it in a gallery
Of all who's who and so-n-so's that used to be the best
At such'n'such ... it wouldn't matter much

I won't lie, it feels alright to see your name in lights
We all need an 'Atta boy' or 'Atta girl'
But in the end I'd like to hang my hat on more besides
The temporary trappings of this world

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

I don't have to look too far or too long awhile
To make a lengthly list of all that I enjoy
It's an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile
Where moth and rust, thieves and such will soon enough destroy

Not well traveled, not well read, not well-to-do or well bred
Just want to hear instead, "Well Done" good and faithful one...

~~Nichole Nordeman

(For some reason I am unable to link this successfully, so to hear this song in its entirety and see the video, please paste this address directly into your browser:

The lyrics of this song are so close to my heart. When I hear them I I doing enough to show love to those who feel unloved? Am I really inviting those to our home who don’t feel like they belong anywhere, with anyone? While there is certainly nothing wrong with having fun and offering hospitality, in my effort to do so, am I making enough of an effort to place the focus where it belongs and point to the One who loves us unconditionally? And do I do so unashamedly, unapologetically?

Tough questions. I’m not sure I have the answers. If I do, I'm not sure I like them. If you’re sitting around town and you hear my cell phone ring, you’ll know I’m still asking myself.

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

(If you have still not been able to see the video, go to Google, type in
Nichole Nordeman Legacy Video
and you'll see a photo with piano keys. Click on this. It's a YouTube video.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Drying Tree Hydrangeas

Does anyone know anything about drying tree hydrangeas? We have a tree in our backyard (right outside our breakfast room and dining room) just full of white blooms that are beginning to turn pink. They are beautiful! One branch is nearly touching the ground this year! I've never tried to dry these, but I have tried - and not very successfully, I might add - to dry the bush variety.

I understand the blooms need to age slightly on the vine before harvesting. I tried that with my other hydrangeas, but still the blooms wilted after a few days. Any suggestions? I'd love to hear your comments, as I LOVE hydrangeas and have silk ones all over the house! I'd love to add some dried ones, too.

p.s. If you click on the photo on the left to enlarge it, you can see Jeffrey Bob, looking on! ;-)