Thursday, July 2, 2020


This spring when my brother moved in with us over the quarantine, he brought a jar of tahini with him. He has introduced us to several Middle Eastern foods since he returned to the States, and I decided to try learning to make hummus. 

Who knew a can of beans could turn into something so yummy. And with a food processor, it is super simple, taking only minutes

Tahini is a sauce made of toasted sesame seeds and can be found in ethnic grocery stores.


1 (15 oz) can of chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans)
3 T olive oil
3 T tahini 
1 T lemon juice
1-2 cloves of minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Drain and rinse chickpeas. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until a smooth paste.

Drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle paprika on top for garnish.

Serve with crackers, carrot sticks, or cucumber slices.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Italian Pasta Salad

I'm often frustrated about blogging in the summer. I compile brilliant posts while weeding the garden or sitting by the creek, but few words find their way out of my brain. Life is full and busy, and I struggle to write about it in a way that feels profitable. I don't want to just add to the noise on social media, plus I'm facing the deadline for several projects, which sucks my desire to show up here. 

But I'm finding that I miss writing about food. Summer food is so much fun. This blog started by sharing my favorite recipes, but I've lost that aspect the last few years. When Ed was on a very strict diet, I didn't have the energy to be creative about any other food. But probably the biggest deterrent is the photos of mouth-watering food that I see online and in cookbooks. I love beautiful photos of food, but I'm not a photographer. 

What I really like to do is share food with people. I enjoy people around the table. Since I can't have you all over, the next best thing is to share a favorite recipe. 

So, the next few weeks, I'm planning to share what we are eating. If I snapped a photo on my phone, I'll share it, but don't expect anything spectacular. I promise that a good photo isn't needed for it to taste good.

This recipe for Italian Pasta Salad came from my sister's work at a deli and made a huge amount. This spring I've made some large batches for several events, but I managed to cut it down to a bit more manageable size, though it still serves a crowd.

This recipe is endlessly adaptable. Don't like olives? Skip them. Enjoy broccoli? Double the amount. Don't have any tomatoes? It will still be delicious. 

This salad is perfect combined with grilled chicken, but I've been known to eat a meal entirely of this salad.

Italian Pasta Salad

1 box (1 lb) dry spiral pasta
2 cups chopped broccoli
1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 cup shredded carrot
1 small can (2.25) sliced olives (drained)
1 cup chopped pepperoni
1 cup diced provolone cheese
1 cup diced red pepper
1 bottle of zesty Italian dressing

Cook pasta until barely tender. Drain and cool. Add all ingredients to pasta. Toss. Best flavor if allowed to sit for a few hours before serving.

If you don't want to buy dressing, here is my favorite homemade Italian dressing which works great for this recipe.

Italian Dressing

1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp honey or sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1/4 tsp paprika

Blend together with whisk, blender, or food processor.

Here is some other favorite summer recipes that we've been enjoying this month.

Easy Method for Freshly-Squeezed Lemonade

Friday, June 19, 2020

This Blessed Life

I haven't known what to share in this spot. For several weeks I wanted to just listen, choosing to stay off almost all news and social media, and look for some wise Christians who understand race issues because they live it daily, and listen to them. 

Meanwhile, life at my house has been full. I love the long days of June. It is almost startling how many hours we have in a day when we don't have schoolwork to accomplish. We've been sewing dresses for my brother's wedding, painting and replacing flooring, and spending hours out doors. 

Here is a glimpse of the last month.

I love how boredom sparks creativity. My son spent hours shaping a bow from a few simple materials. Sadly, it cracked after a few uses, but now he knows how to make the next one better.

The girls did a bedroom makeover, painting the walls and rearranging furniture. My brother-in-law helped pull out the old carpets and install vinyl flooring. I love the final result, but in the middle of the project, when it accidentally became a much bigger project than expected, I wondered why I wasn't content with forty-year-old carpet. But when several men interrupted their Friday morning to come to my rescue, I was reminded of how blessed I am with support.

The boys' room got the same flooring with a lot less drama. 

In the last ten years, our pasture has grown up into an impossible jungle of honeysuckle and briers. In 2017, Ed set the goal of getting some goats to work on clearing the undergrowth. Of course, the summer of 2017 held different plans. Since we were forced to stay home this spring, my boys thought it would be the perfect time to get goats, especially since my brother is staying here and could help. 

A friend lent us three goats, another brother gave us electric fencing, and Project Goat began. Each week we move the fencing to another spot in the pasture. My brother has to use the chainsaw just to make a spot to place the fencing. 

But in that one week, these three goats can eat it bare. It is amazing at how they clear out the brambles and grapevines. I'm seeing parts of the pasture that have been buried in undergrowth for years.

A sultry afternoon is a chance to take our dog swimming in a nearby creek.

My six-year-old learned to ride a bike.

If you are a long-time reader, you might remember our frequent bike rides on the C&O Canal towpath in 2015 and 2016. We had spent many Saturday and Sunday evenings biking sections with the goal of some day completing the whole route. It had been four years since we biked the towpath, and it was such fun to go back. There is just nothing like biking along a quiet river on a summer evening.

Added fun to the towpath is the many caves to explore along the river.

My oldest had turned sixteen just after everything had closed down this spring. Finally, two months later, the offices reopened she was able to get her permit. When she drove home I thought I might not survive teaching six children how to drive, but she caught on quickly. I might enjoy riding in the passenger seat again.

Early May was so cold that many of our strawberries were frozen. But to my surprise, we are still getting a nice amount of berries.

We served another community cookout. This time restrictions were lifted enough that we could enjoy sitting with our neighbors and listening to their stories. 

The scooter gang who did our meal deliveries at the community cookout.

We visited some parks that had not been to for years. This one holds so many memories to me, but my children could not remember being there. We made new memories by fishing, catching salamanders, and grilling soft pretzels.

However crazy life may be in the world, if you have little girls who giggle contagiously at the simplest joys, your life is blessed.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Arise, My Soul, Arise

What do I write on a week that was personally busy and fulfilled, but contained so much pain for our nation? 

I have no words. Only cries. 
For understanding. 
For forgiveness. 
For restoration.

Then I remember Jesus, our Intercessor, who stands before the throne, pleading with His blood for our forgiveness.

I was in my early twenties when I first heard this song, and I'll never forget the joy-filled message of these words. 

I have no answers for the crisis in our nation except to turn to the Lord and plead His forgiveness for all the human race and the many ways we have walked our own roads instead of His way of love.

Arise, My Soul, Arise
by Charles Wesley
Hymns of the Church #296

Arise, my soul, arise; shake off thy guilty fears;

A bleeding Sacrifice in my behalf appears;

Before the throne my Surety stands,

Before the throne my Surety stands,

My name is written on His hands.

He ever lives above, for me to intercede;

His all redeeming love, His precious blood, to plead:

His blood atoned for all our race,

His blood atoned for all our race,

And sprinkles now the throne of grace.

Five bleeding wounds He bears; received on Calvary;

They pour effectual prayers; they strongly speak for me:

"Forgive him, O forgive," they cry,

"Forgive him, O forgive," they cry,

"Nor let that ransomed sinner die!"

My God is reconciled; His pardoning voice I hear;

He owns me for His child; I can no longer fear:

With confidence I now draw nigh,

With confidence I now draw nigh,

And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.

Click over to the blog if reading this by email to hear these words sung.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

There Is a Land of Pure Delight

At a quaint farmhouse back a long lane.  

I joined four friends for a writers' retreat this week.

Hours of conversation.

Amazing food such as a Belizian brunch.

Fragrant springtime blooms.

Solitude in God's stunning beauty.

I returned from those three days feeling refreshed down to my soul. I have never had an experience quite like it, and I'm still pinching myself to see if I was dreaming.

But now glad to join my favorite people again.

A retreat like this reminds me of how blessed I am. Yes, there are hard moments in my daily life, but I've been given so much joy. I don't even need to get away to experience friendship and love and beauty; I find it every day. 

Days like these with brilliant blue sky and puffy white clouds and smiling little girls are when I mourn for all that Ed lost. I wish he could be enjoying these blessings for a few more decades. 

But is that the right perspective? Ed never mourned for himself; it was always the pain of others that grieved him.

I want to enjoy the blessings God gives me to the fullest, but I don't think I need to pity Ed for missing springtime. I truly want to believe that "the best is yet to come.' And Ed got a head start.

This morning I was flipping through the hymnal and chanced upon this song. If I could stand with Moses, or Ed, I don't think I'd compare the delights of heaven to a May day in Pennsylvania. 

There Is a Land of Pure Delight
by Isaac Watts 
Hymns of the Church #988

There is a land of pure delight, 
Where saints immortal reign;
Eternal day excludes the night, 
And pleasures banish pain.
There everlasting spring abides, 
And never with'ring flow'rs;
Death, like a narrow sea, divides
This heav'nly land from ours.

Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood
Stand dressed in living green;
So to the Jews old Canaan stood,
While Jordan rolled between.
But tim'rous mortals start and shrink
To cross this narrow sea,
And linger, trembling on the brink,
And fear to launch away.

O, could we make our doubts remove,
Those gloomy doubts that rise,
And see the Canaan that we love, 
With unbeclouded eyes!
Could we but climb where Moses stood, 
And view the landscape o'er,
Not Jordan's stream, nor death's cold flood, 
Should fright us from the shore.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

God Himself Is Present

Wherever you are worshiping today, whether at church or at home, God is present. Jesus was called Emmanuel, God With Us.

This hymn has been a favorite for several years. Not only does it remind me of the presence of God in my own life, but it calls me to surrender.

God Himself Is Present
by Gerhard Tersteegen
Hymns of the Church #135

God Himself is with us:
Let us now adore Him,
And with awe appear before Him.
God is in His temple,
All within keep silence,
Prostrate lie with deepest reverence.
Him alone God we own,
Him our God and Savior;
Praise His name forever.
God Himself is with us:
Hear the harps resounding!
See the crowds the throne surrounding!
Holy, holy, holy,
Hear the hymn ascending,
Angels, saints, their voices blending!
Bow Thine ear to us here:
Hear, O Christ, the praises
That Thy church now raises.
O Thou fount of blessing,
Purify my spirit;
Trusting only in Thy merit,
Like the holy angels
Who behold Thy glory,
May I ceaselessly adore Thee,
Let Thy will Ever still
Rule Thy Church terrestrial
As the hosts celestial.

Gladly we surrender
Earth's deceitful treasures,
Pride of life, and sinful pleasures:
Gladly Lord, we offer
Thine to be forever, 
Soul and life and each endeavor.
Thou alone
Shalt be known
Lord of all our being,
Life's true way decreeing.

Click over to the blog to view the video if you are reading this by email.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Well Done

This weekend marks one year since Ed's death. I thought about sharing one of Ed's favorite songs or maybe one of the hymns we sang at his funeral, but instead I'm sharing a song that I don't think Ed ever heard.

I first heard it sung this winter for Clayton Shenk by his school students. In the months since then, our family has listened to this song so often that even my little girls can be heard singing it.

I miss Ed every day, but when I listen to Well Done I can't wish him back.

If reading this by email, click over to the blog to hear the song.


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