Archive for July, 2014

Sincerely Yours, Friendship

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014


Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…”

– C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Have you written a letter lately?

This week’s letter challenge is all about friendship. Some of the most complex, long lasting relationship in our lives are our friends. A good friend makes life better, someone to share joy, sorrow, secret keepers. I love friends that make me feel good about being myself and love me for…me. Sometimes friendships extend far beyond a social relationship, friends become like family.

My most favorite show is Friends. I have spent countless hours in front of the television watching Friends, so much so that I have completely worn out my DVD box set. Let me be honest, at times I feel emotional attached to the 6 crazy characters; Ross, Monica, Rachel, Chandler, Joey and Phoebe. It is through the fictional world of Friends that I am able to see how valuable friendships are. Though unrealistic I would love to have my best friends living in close community instead of states and oceans away. I am so thankful for technology that allows me to communicate with my far away friends instantly through text, Voxer and Facebook, but nothing beats seeing the words of one of your favorites penned just for me. So take a few minutes this week to write a little love note to your best friend or better yet… A new friend. Tell someone what their friendship means to you, that they are loved, share with them a special memory.

Sincerely Yours,

A moveable feast

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014


Wondering how my A Moveable Feast Meal turned out?

“We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other.” 

– Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast.

Inspired by Ernest Hemmingway’s A Moveable Feast, I packed up a picnic friendly meal to share with friends. In the Paris airport I was lucky enough to find several delicious French ingredients that could be packed up and taken back home with me on my 10 hour flight back to the USA; cheese, saucisson (dry cured sausage) and a jar of Dijon mustard. Although these ingredients alone would make the most decadent feast, I wanted to add a few fresh fruits and vegetables to liven up the meal. On Saturday morning I headed over to our local farmer’s market and there I found the most beautiful heirloom tomatoes, green beans, fresh French bread and wild flowers to pair with my French delicacies.

Crusty bread, the cheese and sausage… what’s not to love? My favorite part of the meal was discovering hazelnuts sprinkled throughout the dry sausage. The crunch and nutty flavor was special. I also decided to make a cold green bean and tomato salad, dressed with a Dijon vinaigrette. For dessert, I sliced a couple peaches, topped them with blueberries and a drizzle of sweet honey. Simple and oh so delicious!

The best part was sharing this little feast with my mother. What a surprise it was for her. She had never tasted heirloom tomatoes and immediately fell in love, so fresh and sweet!




A Moveable Feast

Green Bean and Tomato Salad

1 lb. green beans, trimmed

2 large tomatoes or 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes

1 tsb. Dijon mustard

1 tbs. red wine vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp. fresh thyme

1/2 tsp. fresh sage

Salt & Pepper

Blanche the trimmed green beans in boiling water for about 2-3 minutes. Remove beans from hot water and immediately chill in ice water to preserve that beautiful bright green color. In a large bowl, combine Dijon mustard and red wine vinegar. Whisk in olive oil and seasoning to form a smooth vinaigrette. Next, add green beans, tomatoes and herbs to the vinaigrette and toss gently. Chill your salad for about 1 hour before serving.


Summer Inspired Madeleines

Friday, July 18th, 2014


With summer in full swing, I am always looking for a sweet treat that is not too heavy. These Coconut Lime Madeleines are light, fluffy with a sweet citrus and coconut flavor. Jude loves Madeleines. He has a friend at school named Madeline. He once decided that in order to resolve a little fight that they were having, he wanted to bring  Madeleine a package of Madeleines. Every time we eat these decadent cookies Jude reminds me how a simple act of kindness can brightens someone’s day in a big way!

Coconut and Lime Madelines

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

1 1/4 cup cake flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

3 eggs

2 egg yolks

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 tbs. lime juice + zest (2-3 limes)

1/3 cup of sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease your madeleine pan with melted butter. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, place eggs, egg yokes, sugar, vanilla, lime juice and zest in a large mixing bowl. Using a electric mixer beat the eggs until pale and very thick, about 5 minutes. Next, mix in the melted, cooled butter. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the dry mixture in the egg mixture and allow mixture to rest for 30 minutes. Fill the buttered madeleine molds 3/4 full. Bake these delicate cookies for 7-8 minutes, until edges are crisp and golden. It is important to rotate your madeline pan half way through baking, for evenly browned cookies. Let your madeleines cool slightly and gently remove cookies from pan. Dust with powdered sugar. For an added indulgence dip these tasty treats in dark chocolate and sprinkle with lime zest or toasted coconut!

These Madeleines are for sharing and pair great with coffee; iced, hot, something citrus would work best. My friend Brittany and I shared a press of Kona coffee while spending the afternoon baking these cookies together.

Enjoy with a friend today!

The Paris Wife

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014


When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.
-Ernest Hemingway

Recently, I read “The Paris Wife,” a work of historical fictional written through the perspective of Ernest Hemmingway’s first wife Hadley. This charming book is full of romance and adventure.

Historical fiction is my genre of choice, a familiar story written from another perspective. The Paris Wife, draws most of its storyline from Ernest Hemingway’s memoirs, A Moveable Feast, which recounts the Heminway’s days spent in Paris in the 1920s. The book captures the spirit of the jazz age as the couple spends long afternoons in French cafes, drinking wine and dreaming with literary friends; F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, and Gertrude Stein. McClain beautifully captures the emotions of a wife trying preserve the idea of a traditional and loving marriage, in a world full of friends who lived the life of the times. The Paris life, held for the couple adventure, long weekends spent, Spanish bull fights and love, lots of it. However, the conflict for Hadley comes in watching her husband struggles to make himself known as a writer, all the while dealing with her own self confidence, leading to the “undoing of one of the great romances in literary history.”

Despite the tragedy of the whole ordeal, what I took away from the book is… never forget to experience the life that is around you, share it with others. Enjoy the simple things… a sweet desert, a good story, a decadent meal. Whenever I read the title, A Moveable Feast, I am inspired to create a moveable feast of my own (without the cassis and absinthe). I want to cook a big meal, pack it up and go share life with friends.

With Paris on my mind, I was excited to a stop in Paris to change airplanes on the flight to and from Prague. Although I never had the opportunity to step out onto French soil, the airport was heavenly. Designer shops of all kinds, French cafés and what caught my eye… Cheese. I was surprised they were able to pack up the cheese for my 10 hour flight back to the US! So I took home a beautiful piece of French cheese, saucisson (dry cured sausage) and a jar of mustard. So this week, paired with my Saturday morning farmer’s market finds, I will take this “moveable feast” to experience with friends.

I’ll let you know how it goes…

4th of July Supper

Monday, July 14th, 2014

I had the unique opportunity to spend the 4th of July in the Czech Republic. Though we were thousands of miles and an ocean away, we celebrated with a BBQ, fireworks for the small village of Postovice and the most beautiful church service set in a church built in 1330s. We brought with us tons of red, white and blue decorations, glow sticks and party blowers. A group of four of the sweetest little old ladies came to the party. When Mike gave them glow necklaces and bracelets they we enthralled, giggling, as they had never seen glow sticks before. The day was magical…

Now I am back home and still full of excitement from the time we spent with our Czech family. So, to continue the celebration, I wanted to make a special Independence Day inspired meal. However, I thought I would make something a little more fancy than hotdogs and hamburgers. Though nothing beats a Fourth of July barbecue! I challenged myself to make a dinner using three star ingredients, one red, one white and one blue. Complete with ice cold bottles of Coke we had quite the meal!

20140622-183444-66884341.jpg Red Garden Fresh Tomatoes

photo 1 Potatoes, White Cheddar & Garlic

20140622-183443-66883970.jpg Blueberries

In the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to get a hold of some really great fresh ingredients. Our garden is doing well, producing loads of tomatoes and the boys and I went blueberry picking.

Red Garden Tomato Braised Chicken




6-8 pieces of Chicken, legs and thighs

1 small onion

3 cloves roasted garlic (see instructions below)

Fresh herbs, 4 sprigs of oregano or rosemary

4 cups diced tomatoes

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1 cup white wine

Heat 2 tbs. EVOO and 1 tbs. butter on high. Season chicken with salt & pepper and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Turn chicken when skin easily releases from pan. Remove chicken from pan and remove any excess grease. Saute onions until golden brown. Deglaze the pan with diced tomatoes and white wine. Simmer tomatoes for 5-10 minutes, until tomatoes begin to break down. Add chicken, herb and cherry tomatoes back into pan. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve over warm mashed potatoes.


White Cheddar and Garlic Mashed Potatoes

4-6 white potatoes, peeled and diced

1-2 cloves of roasted garlic

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup cream cheese

2 tbs. butter

salt & pepper
Place potatoes into and a large pot of water, bring to a boil. Boil for 10 to 15 minutes. Potatoes should be tender when poked with a fork. Drain water from potatoes and return back to warm. Add to the potatoes the milk, sour cream, butter, cheeses, garlic and mash. I like my potatoes a bit lumpy. If you like yours very smooth, Pour ingredients into a stand mixer and mix for five minutes. Add extra milk to desired consistency. You do not want to overwork potatoes or they will lose their yummy fluffiness.

Roasting garlic is simple and packs huge flavor. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. I usually roast 2-3 heads of garlic at a time. Cut the top 1/4 of of the head of garlic, exposing all those lovely cloves. Set the garlic on a sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Wrap the garlic in the foil and bake for 35 minutes. The smell is out of this world! I use roasted garlic in dressings, soups and on crusty bread. It will store great in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

20140627-153125-55885590.jpg   20140627-153124-55884969.jpg


Blueberry Bread Pudding

1 large loaf of bread, I used challah

6 eggs

5 cups of milk, or half and half

zest of 1 orange

1 tsp. vanilla

2 tbs. honey

1 tbs. brown sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

3 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a large baking dish and add torn bread into pan. Pour blueberries over dry bread pieces. In a large mixing bowl whisk eggs, milk, vanilla, zest, honey, sugar and cinnamon. Pour egg mixture over dry bread and allow to soak for 15-20 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 45 minutes until golden brown, berries are bubbling and custard has set.

3 egg yolks
4 tbs. sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup heavy cream or milk
Whisk together eggs and sugar, until pale yellow. Heat milk in a small saucepan until small bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan. Remove pan from heat. Whisking very quickly, slowly add about 2 tbs. hot milk to the egg mixture in order to temper eggs. This warms the egg which will keep them from scrambling when back into the milk. Next, whisk the egg mixture back into the milk until combined and smooth. Heat mixture on low until custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, yet still thin enough to pour. Pour this dreamy custard over your warm bread pudding.


So today, cook up a special red white and blue dinner for your family and tomorrow sit back and eat a big summer burger.


DIY Screen Printing with Gabi

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

I’m Gabi – a simple girl with a love for adventure and grilled cheeses. A sucker for good coffee and a lover of donuts. My life is bent around following God into the hard places – to reach the unreached people of the world who have never heard the Gospel. My days are spent looking for laughs and color in the world. My heart swells when people discover Jesus’s love for the first time. I use painting and design as my creative outlet. I think journals are crucial.. for meaningless doodles and secret poems. I’m a lover of life. My current adventure is leaving home and stepping into missions. I have no idea where I’ll be in a year, and I’m learning to enjoy every step of the journey.. As long as it involves a few grilled cheeses.

As a 16 year old high school student Gabi often visited my happy little coffee shop. Covered in paint from head to toe she would stop by just to remind me how wonderful a barista she would make. I am not sure I have ever met anyone so persistent in their pursuit of a job, so of course I had to hire her. From day one I fell in love with this tiny, full of passion human being. Like the art she produces, Gabrielle brings beauty to those around her. Over the past few years I have watched as Gabi has gracefully transitioned out of high school into college life, make new friends, discover more of herself and fall more deeply and passionately in love with Christ. Gabi is so full of fun, creative ideas so I asked this sweet little artist to share a little art project with us!

DIY Screen Printing
A wooden frame, we used 11×17
1/2 yard of silk screen or sheer fabric material
Staple gun with staples
Adhesive vinyl or transfer paper
X-Acto knife
Masking tape
Screen printing ink
A small thin, evenly cut board
Material to print: tshirt, apron, bag

Step 1: Make your screen

You can purchase a premade frame or make your own. My sweet aspiring carpenter husband made ours! Apply the screen to your frame. Starting at one edge, wrap the frame as tightly as possible, stapling as you go. Once all four sides are stapled cut any extra fabric to clean up the edges. You want your screen to be pulled so tight that a coin when dropped will bounce off the screen.


Step 2: Draw

Now the fun part, coming up with your design. Choose something fun, something YOU. For your first time try something simple, stay away from fine lines. Simple shapes or lettering are perfect for this project. Gabi came up with this cute little camper design… “Let’s Get Lost!”


Step 3: Cut out your stencil.

Draw your design directly onto your adhesive vinyl. Cut out only the parts you would like colored in. Try to connect any pieces you can. We connected the doorframe and stripes to the outline of our camper. Sometimes this can be sort of a tricky puzzle that you will have to put back together. For example we had to remove the windows, wheels and door handle on our camper and put them back in place before printing. <strong>Save all pieces of your design</strong>. Cut slowly, smoothly, taking your time. As you separate your design from the paper backing touch the adhesive as little as possible or they may loose their stickiness. Tweezers work well for tiny pieces, and will also keep the stickiness better. The more you touch the adhesive side of your vinyl, the less sticky it will become!


Step 4: Apply your pattern to the screen

Apply your design to inside of the screen, as the screen is laying on a flat surface. Once applied, use masking or packaging tape to cover all open space around the design. Be sure to cover up and around the edges with tape. Any untaped spots will allow for paint to leak or drip onto your material when printing.


Step 5: Print

Center your screen over the material you are ready to print. Apply a thick stripe of paint to the top edge of your screen. Use a squeegee or thin board, to draw the paint down and up again over your design. Be sure you are applying pressure evenly across the board as you drag it.


Step 6: Peel

Finally, slowly lift your screen off of your material. Try not to wiggle or your design may smear.


I love the way our prints turned out. Gabi printed on a grey cotton tshirt and I made Jude and I aprons.

The aftermath.


This can be kind of a messy project. We also had a few challenges when printing due to using fabric that was too thick, so if you have any questions just leave us comments and we will be sure to answer them.

We look forward to seeing pictures of your prints!

Flying Paper Airplanes