noticing joy on the surface of simple things … the evidence of holiness happening in the daily grind.

One of the Best Gifts Ever December 22, 2017

The Barbie Camper.   The Love Pup.  A horse, horse calender, horse socks, soft blanket with a horse on it, Breyer horses, miniature blown glass horse, horse and buggy ride, horse show tickets.  Cookbooks.  Coffee Mugs. These are a few of my favorite things, some   of the best gifts I’ve ever received.  So many more times I’ve been thrilled when opening presents but sadly I cannot recall every gift that made me respond that way.

I’ve always loved celebrations that include gift giving.  Receiving is great, but investigating, buying, wrapping, anticipating, and giving are just as great.  Selfishly what is not great this 2017 Christmas is the lack of family that will gather together on Christmas day.    Nurses work every day of the year and my two favorite nurses will be taking care of sick humans on Christmas day.   And my mother, the person who initiated all the joy of the season for me from earliest memory will not be here either.  It is a very rare Christmas that has not included my mom and dad.  My father now resides in the place Jesus prepared for him so he’s off the hook.  Again, o-so-selfishly, I would rather have him at my house or be at his previous house by the lake.  My mother however, had an invitation to Thanksgiving in Colorado and for Christmas in Iowa.  Those siblings of mine got to her first.  I did not realize there would come a time when I had to get in line to have my mother at my celebration table,  but now I know.  Not so selfishly, I am thrilled that Mother Mary has all the invitations.

When I married my hubby the summer 1986, I got the best gift ever from Mother Mary right before all of the holiday celebrations began.  She said: “Laura, you will always be invited but never be obligated to celebrate with us.”  I received that gift when young and naive to the dilemma of having multiple families and family members wanting to do the same things on the same days, so many of those days being holidays.  It did get overwhelming sometimes, not being able to say no or change traditions or handle missing out on everything or upsetting people.   One year, we just decided the best way to tackle the complexity of the seasons relational demands was to simply run away to Disneyland.  That my friends, was not the best idea we ever had.  My observation of Disneyland on Christmas day, is that a mass of humans decide to tackle the complexity of the season’s relational demands and run away to Disneyland.  I mean, if you are into holding hands and walking single file through ten million of your favorite strangers, doubling the amount of time waiting for rides, and misplacing your child in the Disney bathrooms, then go for it.

Here’s a tip for thriving this season of celebration:  Acceptance.  Practice it.  John Ortberg (one of my favorite preacher/writers) defines acceptance like this:  “A remarkable action, difficult to define, yet unmistakeable when we experience it.  To accept people is to be for them.  It is to recognize that it is a very good thing they are alive and to long for the best for them.  It does not mean to approve of everything they do.  It means to want what is best for their soul no matter what they do.”   (From Everybody’s Normal Until You Get To Know Them)

Family gatherings are heading into full swing the next week or so.  It will be fun.  It might be messy.  There may be a 2017 version of crazy making, awkward, not-again, arrrggghhhh, moments with those you are related to by birth, by in-law, by distant cousin status.  This year try a little acceptance in place of trying to change people, or hoping they changed this year.  In fact, maybe the very best gift you can give is to grant permission for your celebrations to be less than perfect.  That my friends, is a reasonable expectation for people who are.

I just opened up a box from my mom.  It is full of homemade goodness – more than one kind of Chex Mix, granola, Grandma Rozie’s brown bread made in the coffee can and more.  A very delicious and memory stimulating gift as we are apart this year.  What I am giving her?   I’m giving back the gift she gave me over thirty years ago.  Mom – you are always invited, but never obligated.

But in all selfishness –  I get her in 2018.  I’m first in the asking line people.

Merry Christmas Everyone

Laura Beth DeGroot – The Caffeinated Woman



No Ants, No Pants May 15, 2016

I tried on a pair of jeans that cost $187.  They were free to try on.  The adorable redhead who rocked those jeans chattered on to me about their qualities and benefits the whole time I struggled to pour my fifty-one year old body into them.  I ask you:  “Should one have to pour, pull, push, jump, suck, hold breath in, yank, and sweat to get into a pair of the correct size jeans that cost one hundred and eighty seven dollars?”  The fabric felt weighted and silky, drapey and stretchy.  Supposedly, they would not leave baggy spots where you bend (if you could bend), after hours of wear.  That’s the benefit of such a perfect denim made sustainably, produced scientifically, ensuring rich quality.  When I looked in the mirror, I thought the jeans looked painted on.  Can a woman over fifty wear painted on style jeans without embarrassing her daughters or herself?  If the painted style pour-yourself-in jeans had been marked down from $187.00 to $18.70 would it be a good idea to wear those in public?  I asked myself this in the dressing room.  My answer and the knowledgable twenty-something answer were completely opposite.  She said the jeans looked fantastic on me.   Ha…of course she would say that.  Shes PAID to say that.  I did not agree.

Two weeks later I took my pants off.  Not the expensive jeans – I did actually get those off in the store and left them there, I mean I took off my long-legged pants that do fit.  The temperature outside was 70’s warm after long months of 20’s cold.  Suddenly everyone had on completely different clothing.  Including me.  I exchanged the pants for capris – or ‘caprants’ as re-named by my friend Heidi, whose daughter thinks capris are silly.  Well Miss Mackenna, they are NOT silly, they are necessary for the greater good of humanity when one has leg skin that needs constant ironing.  It it much more appropriate to wear ‘caprants’ than short skirts at this stage of life in order to maintain personal modesty and public decorum.  You’re welcome.

Two days later, I put pants back on.

My new state of Michigan has a lot of surprises up its sleeve.  I’m not certain I will become fond of the morning surprise of sunshine.  I would prefer that to be reliable, a regular occurence not a rarity.  This is the first spring I’ve been a resident and I am gathering you go outside and do outside things when the sun is outside for tomorrow it may not be.  Today I tried three times to go outside when I saw the sun.  We started a neighborhood walk to peruse the garage sales, but it ended at block two with sudden rain and dare I say hail; possibly MI spring snow nuggets?  I’ll ask around to confirm.  By the third time I went out in a car, the garage sale hosts had given up and gone inside.  I did score a crooked floor lamp for $15.  Looks great in the spare room standing mostly straight in the corner.  Beside garage sale shopping, I wanted to get in the dirt.  My goal all week was to go outside and reduce the amount of mint that is growing and tame the fern in my gardens.    One week I had no fern.  Next week, fern farm.  I have no previous experience with mint or fern.  What I can confidently say after one partial spring, is they are both fast and hearty growers.  Clearly, they don’t need the sun like us humans do.   I’m not sure I will meet the plant reduction goal today.   Unless…I go out in the clouds with long pants, coat and mittens.

Ants.  Michigan, I need to ask you, do ants thrive here too?  I keep a relatively clean house.  Not “dutch clean” like my mom, but pretty clean.  One time in Florida we had a rat.  In My Kitchen Cupboards.  I discovered the rat before I discovered its feces in every single solitary drawer in my large kitchen.  I came undone, unravelled, repulsed, devastated that such filth touched the things I cook with.  And I kept a clean kitchen.  We also lived on the water and the rats apparently lived in the roof of the building with occasional drop downs into human dwellings. I threw our cat in the cupboard where the rat was and shut the door.  Crickets.  Fifteen minutes later (that’s long enough to take care of a rat right?), she sauntered out as if she was done using the bathroom.  She did not choose to pursue the rat.  Worthless cat…  The rat clean up project required the man of the townhouse; and later, flowers in all the drawers for therapeutic reasons. No more rat ever.  But now I have MI ants.  I’ve tried several removal tactics including letting them go outside.   When I opened my sugar bowl to scoop the raw sugar into my first cup of morning coffee and there is an ant flailing around I put my foot down, picked up the phone and called my mom.   She poo-pooed all previous ant removal systems and said get Tero.  24 hours after Tero tactic, no ants.  I hope ants are like the rat and not one of Michigan’s ongoing surprises.

Wooden shoe dancers, tulip lined streets in Holland, Fricano’s pizza, the Cone Shops soft lemon twist cones; the pure sound of Calvin Alumni Choir,  Stella’s burgers and chronic fries, Grand Rapids Opera, Marie Catribs, Fulton Heights neighborhood, the people of Art Of The Table,  solid-friendly, healthy-growing Encounter Church, Women and Wine, Grand Rapids Main Library, the acoustics of Cathedral of St. Andrews, generous beauty of all that is colorful and blooming are some of the Michigan surprises working to convince me to stay, belong, engage.  The increasing list of good surprises far surpasses the unpleasant.  The sense of settling down is happening.  I may weigh more than I want, battle fatigue more than I like, and am more conversant in grief than I’d prefer.  Those things accompanied me here.   But this new state is kindly meeting me with a sweet place to heal and renew.  Ants, clouds and tight pants, you might live here, but despite you I believe some really great new is happening.

Better than being surprised, I am so very thankful.


This Is Dangerous April 8, 2014

Filed under: Cookbooks,Cooking,Dessert,Food Stories,Mother Mary,Uncategorized — lauradegroot @ 2:47 am
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Frankly I’m disappointed with the publicized Foodie world.

They made my favorite food a bad 4 letter word (“carb”); they send mixed messages about what To Eat and what Not To Eat.  They make talented cooks/bakers/chefs cry on television when they are kicked off-let go-voted away from the kitchen because what they made was not good enough.  They claim: sugar – bad; salt – bad; fat – bad = Flavor – bad.  They tipped the food pyramid upside down.  They hail the praises of a food or beverage and the next thing you know, that very item lands on  the questionable or “bad” list.

Last night we had a local college student for dinner.   He is a storytelling foodie and appreciates home-made.  When he inquired about dessert, I realized I had none.  That didn’t sit well with the love language part of my being.  So, while I was talking on the phone I pulled out Mother Mary’s Cookie Book and landed on ‘Brownies From Heaven’.  From start to completion – 30 min.  Topped those hot  chocolate babies with some home-made hot fudge.  I was not going to send that boy home without dessert.

So today here is what is setting on my counter .
20140407_153851“This is dangerous.”  I spoke that out loud after cutting one, then two, then 3 small…really pretty small…like bite-size small, well maybe two-bite size small pieces.  The knife is sitting on top of the pan of uncut gooey goodness.  Hot fudge stands by…dangerous right?  My Grandma Rozie probably never ever said those words looking at the same food.  I’ll bet she would have said: “This looks Delicious.  There sure are an awful lot of brownies for Grandpa Rozie and I.  Who could I share them with?”

The bad thought about something so good startled me.  Food is not our enemy.  Food is not out to harm.  Food actually isn’t confusing.  Those brownies are Good.  Nothing bad at all about them.  The only bad thing would be for me to act on the temptation to eat the rest of the pan, one bite-size piece at a time, in one sitting.  I’ve let too much bad publicity influence my food thinking.

Yesterday I was invited to a cooking class in a friend’s home.  She had a chef come over and teach us to make paella.  A number of firsts happened during that class:  first time seeing and using a paella pan; first time seeing a whole squid beheaded, de-tentacled, relieved from its fins and cellophane backbone, then cut in rings.  I am proud to say, I didn’t look away, though near to gagging.  While de-veining shrimp I heard it repeatedly called the ‘poopsac’.  That was a first, and the last time I will let a vein stay in my shrimp. First time using real saffron threads, spanish bomba rice and spanish paprika.  Not the first time I’ve seen a chef with their own knife bag with professional tools, but it was the first time I was allowed to use one of those knives.

Yesterday was the first time I’ve eaten authentic spanish paella with chicken, chorizo, shrimp, calamari, and mussels.  First time I’ve participated in its preparation.   Yes, I ate the tender squid and the mussels too.  If I ever make it for you – I might leave those ingredients out unless I find out you love squid and mussels.   Then I would put them in for sure.

First time I’ve had someone tell and show how to “layer the flavors”.  It takes time.  And that time is worth it.

People, Food Is Good.  Learning about it, looking at it, preparing it, shopping for it, eating it.   Let’s not be bamboozled by the negative food PR.  I decided to listen Grandma Rozies voice in my head and share the brownie love with a friend who has twins on the way and a house full of kids and company.   Don’t worry hubby – I’m gonna leave you a big-bite-size one.

Eat all things in moderation.  Enjoy food.  Even brownies.  They really aren’t dangerous.




Day 27: The Origin of Tea Time November 4, 2013

Final Button 3Most of the people I first met in Florida were fellow dog owners in our Apartment complex.  The dogs gave us a common interest and reason for conversation.  A few of those women have become more than just a fellow dog owner.  I am thankful and know that as we get ready to finish the home buying adventure this week, I will miss seeing them daily.  On one occasion my neighbor Cheryl and I realized we both grew up with Tea Time.  After school or between 3-4 pm, the tea-pot and cookies came out.  Black tea in a favorite mug with milk and sugar was and still is my favorite.

I decided to ask Mother Mary about this topic in my interview and the answer went down a lane I didn’t expect.  Enjoy:

Q:  Tell me about tea time origination?

“It’s from the time of Adam and Eve I am sure….I remember it with Grandpa  and Grandma Mouw, (MM’s Grandparents also called pa/ma) we always had tea time in afternoon.  There was catechism after school then we might walk to pa and ma….they would stop the earthquake for tea time.  It was around 3:00 in the afternoon.  

I guess tea time was part of  family routine.  Grandpa (my Grandpa – Mother Mary’s father), he had breakfast at home, then we brought “lunch” to him in the field at 9/9:30. Lunch was a sandwich with cookies or cake carried in a gallon size Karo syrup tin bucket.  There would be another tin bucket, 1/2 gallon size, that had coffee in the morning and tea milk in the afternoon.  

One of us girls (there were 5 girls, no boys) would walk to the field and find Grandpa.  Geri (the youngest) LOVED it.  Grandpa would be watching and go to the end of the row, park the tractor so they could sit in the shade , leaning against the big wheel, and eat together.  Usually just one of us got to go.  And there was always a dog that went along.  (me:  I love that).  He would come in for dinner at noon.  It was a  big meal,  meat and potatoes or casserole.  Lunch would happen again at 3:30, same routine as the morning.  Supper was a lighter meal, but plenty believe me.  Grandpa came home from the field, did chores and then ate supper.  

Quite often before bed we would have another snack. “

Me:  “You ate a lot. ”

MM:  “Yes, we worked hard”

“Harvesters…as they moved from place to place, my mother would cook those meals for all those men.  We helped.  In the morning we would catch chickens, pluck and fry them,  go to the garden get veggies, bake pies, cookies/cake.  Sometimes other wives would come and help.   That was hard work.  We would do a few days in a row usually for 10-15 men.  The men were harvesting oats.  They would cut, bundle, put them in shocks.  One man owned a threshing machine.  He would run the machine on your property – all would work together to bring in the shocks and put them into the machine.  The oats  would run down into a wagon.  The wagon of oats would go in the granary on the farm.  This was for livestock not for breakfast oatmeal.  Just wanna be clear. ( I needed the clarity…I did not grow up on the farm.  And if I did, I would have run and hidden the chickens).   When they were done they would go on to the next place.  

By the way, Grandpa was thin, and he ate lots of butter, cookies, cake, pie, potatoes, lots of meat, but he worked hard.   We had our own meat – never bought it.  So a hotdog was a rare treat.  I still like them, got to be a good one though.  All this junk you can put on them – No No –  just a bit of relish, mustard, chopped onion and plenty of ketchup.

And I just had to add this extra note because I found it sweet…the original make your own dog/cat food:

“There were always outside kitties.  The kitties and the dog got table scraps  Peelings from potatoes apples and such – went to the hogs.  Kitties would get milk in the barn when Grandpa milked.  I don’t think we ever bought dog food.”

Tea Time when I was growing up happened because MM was intentional about it.  It was a part of her life as a girl, but she incorporated it as a mother because her children were hungry after school, needed a snack, so she would pour us tea.  We would take a breath and tell her a thing or two about our day.

Thanks Mother Mary for Tea Time.  Thanks for the history behind an ordinary, meaningful part of my life and yours.  Would love to have a cup with you on your birthday today, with your favorite cookie out of the Cookie Book!





Day 26: Interview With Mother Mary November 3, 2013

At the beginning of this writing project, I knew I would interview my mother.  It may have been the best 2 hours of my whole week.  And this is how she began:

When I think of food – it wakes up everything in me – wakes up sight, smell, taste; it delights all my senses.”

We set a day and time for the interview.  It was easy to get her sitting down as she is healing from her bionic hip replacement.  She had prepared some thoughts prior to my questions, observations that were news even to me.  Here was the first:

“I love potlucks.  I look at that at those long tables, full of food, realizing I only have room for a small amount of it on my plate.  I think of the first one at this church (in Minnesota) over 20 years ago.  I  couldn’t believe my eyes…there was no color on the table.  Not a green salad in sight, maybe green jello but I doubt it because they only use red or orange.  The food was pretty plain – white, lots of hot dish, but what there was…Rice pudding, it was so delicious.  There were  3 or 4 varieties of that.   People were not as conscious about eating healthy then.  It is different now.  “

Q:  What are your favorite foods? 

A:  Soup because it’s fall. Anything with apples, because its fall;  pie, crisp, baked apples.  Homemade bread..Homemade Jam… Good roast with mashed potatoes and veggies…Salads with lots of interesting things on top.  I prefer to make my own dressing.  I love a good casserole, which probably  explains why I like  potlucks.  I don’t make them often anymore.  Cornbread and baked beans”

Q: Why did you make us breakfast every morning

A:  “Because you kids needed breakfast.  You needed food to think.  In my mind it’s part of being a good mother, having made sure my kids had a good breakfast.”

It turns our she didn’t even eat it herself.  She rotated the following:  boiled eggs, (jeff would eat the yolks and Julia would eat the whites); muffins, french toast, pancakes, rice n raisins, bread pudding, toast fingers, egg sandwiches.  I remember high school final exam week, she would insist I eat breakfast though I wasn’t hungry that early in the morning.  MM ran through a list of ideas until she found one thing I agreed to:  cheese burgers in the electric skillet – between bread or a bun rubbed through the pan burger bits/grease.  Mmmmmm.

Sunday mornings catered to my dad’s favorite:  Homemade dough tea ring or store-bought Danish with jelly or cream cheese filling and scrambled eggs.  What you need to know is that my mother was the church organist.  We had that meal before church, yet 5 kids and one dad all showed up to church on time (she was early to warm up), hair done, dressed up.

She didn’t know the answer to the question:  How did you do that?

A few years ago my mom wrote and published a cookbook.  It was many years between the idea and the finished product.  I admire her and thank her for that accomplishment.  The book gets a lot of use in my kitchen.   Of course, I wanted to print that story.

Q: Why did you write the Cookie Book?

A:  “Because of dad’s great love for cookies.  Also because you kids and your families and I love great cookies too.  I also did it to leave a sign of love and testimony for my kids and grandkids.  Dad’s favorite cookie  is the first recipe in the book.”

T1 and T2 nicknamed my father Mr. Wonderful.   I must insert here that one of the ways my mom speaks food love language, is to leave a container of cookies for Mr. Wonderful when she goes away.  During December she loved a lot more than just dad with her cookies.  There was a stack of containers in the garage all month-long.  (winter in South Dakota means the garage is the same temp as your freezer).  Each had a different type of cookie, candy, or bar that was made only that time of year.  And gallon buckets of homemade chex mix.  Mother Mary would pull out a sample platter anytime someone came over.  I and my siblings went out and snuck out there all month-long to get a thing or two for tea time, night-time, it-sounds-good-now time.

I am craving all those containers right now.   Shoot.

Q:  Why did it take so long to write the Cookie Book?

“I was afraid of the computer; of putting it together; the thought of it all.  It was an overwhelming task.  It finally happened because of Julia (my sister who passed away 2 years ago).  Julia had medical appointments in the city, so I took the computer along and typed while I was waiting for her.  The first time, I only typed one recipe.   There was a young man waiting for his girlfriend, I asked if he knew about computers.  That kid was all over me.  He sat at my elbow, walked me through my questions and beyond.  He was so excited about computers.  I  bought him lunch as a sign of thanks.  He told me that he was looking for work while waiting to go back to school.  I gave him this idea:  give classes for older women who don’t know how to use computers because  you are so good and know how to explain it.”

The young man got her connected to the internet and off she went.   Pretty soon she was ‘whippin them out pretty good.’  Most of the typing happened at Julia’s appointments.

Hannah (the gem my brother John married), may not think she did that much but MM adamantly said, “I could NOT have done it without her.”  Mom wanted those recipes to be written perfectly  before she sent it to Hannah.  Hannah is responsible for all that happened when the recipes were handed over.  Thank You Hannah from all of us who love the Cookie Book!

Q:  How did the cookbook get its name?

A:  “There was a book naming contest at John and Hannah’s kitchen table with their 4 children.  The prize: a root beer float.  The kids came up with lists.  The only stipulation:  I didn’t want my name in the title.     At some point Marybell pipes up, ‘..well why don’t you just call it Cookie Book?’ everyone’s eyes lit up and agreed – ‘that’s what you need to call it.’  I added the subtitle because in the process of writing, you all asked for my salads and your favorite recipe requests.”

The full title of the book is:  Cookie Book;  With Salads and Other Good Stuff.  The ONLY negative about this cookbook is its lack of availability.  I’ve encouraged her for years to make them available to people other than family and special friends.  Maybe you could help me convince her by letting me know that you would want the Cookie Book if you could get one.

Q:  Is Food  a Love Language of yours?

A:  “CANT YOU TELL, but you’re way better at it than I am.  I never thought of food as a love language, but I certainly do now.  I never would have put it in those words, but it is so loving.” 

My Dad says Mother Mary’s  family is way to preoccupied with food  He says that half their life revolves around food or talking about it.  Letters were always full of what they had at this gathering and that gathering.  It was a love language in a letter.

I agree Mr Wonderful that a lot o life has and does revolve around food, in mom’s family and in mine too.  But think of how YOU benefit….no whining.   Here’s how she ended the interview:

“I just finished eating my famous Cottage Cheese Sundae.  It’s so good for you and don’t vary it at all.”   

I needed a reminder of how to put it together.  Here’s how:  Cottage Cheese; pineapple; raisins; nuts, drizzle with honey.

Meet Mother Mary and Mr. Wonderful along with a few others…(there is just one tiny picture MM may not appreciate, but you have to see what a good sport she is…)

Best parents ever

DSC_0297DSC_0443grandma and the littles
DSC_0531 DSC_0641

Day 22: Comfort Food October 23, 2013

Final Button 3“You must go to bed and rest” said the doctor, many many years ago.

How many days in my life have I longed for someone to tell me I had to go to bed and rest, just for a day or two. This edict long ago, was the requirement for the rest of my pregnancy.  I was only 20 weeks along.  I was headed to bed for a LONG winters nap.  A friend from church called  to see if she could set up a schedule of people to come and help out.  My response:  “O thanks so much but we are going to be just fine, really.”

This was the reality of my bed time – less like rest, more like jail.  I was allowed to get up to go to the bathroom which was steps from my bed.  I was allowed a shower or two – quick ones – each week.  That was it.  There would be no walking up and down the stairs.  Walking the dog, emptying the dishwasher, even standing to pour a glass of waters was out of the question.  There would be NO COOKING.  Sure, “we” were going to be just fine.  HA!  I was young, inexperienced, a little stupid, certainly unrealistic and fiercely independent.  Until…Mother Mary said these life changing words:   “Laura, think about what you would do if you’re friend was sent to bed for a long time.  You would want to help.  When you say no, you take away the opportunity for people to be a blessing.”  Who want’s to take something away from someone?  I called her back with a different heart and answer.

My jailbed became a sweet spot for friend time, visits from the scheduled people, small group gatherings,  and the christmas tree.  I met another lover of old musicals and we watched them while eating pb&j.   One lady would bring her handsewing, being productive while she visited.  The dog got let out, the dishes put away, the fridge filled up, and JR could still work at his job!  We would not have been just fine without people blessing.

When I hear of someone laid up, down and out, having a baby or a rough season of life I always think food is something I can do.  I can’t fix broken bones or broken hearts, and I know how impossible it is for new parents to do much beyond take care of a tiny human who needs everything all the time from them.  What I can do is find out what they like and don’t like, will and won’t eat and what’s the best time for drop off.  Then I go to the recipe books and look for my best Comfort Food.

Comfort Food recipes are often the very ones someone brought me once upon a time.  When you come home from the hospital and there is a beef brisket, a bowl of coleslaw, and a pan of brownies on your porch waiting for you, they are the very best brownies you’ve ever had, 5 star coleslaw, and brisket that ought to be served in heaven.  Comfort Food has superpowered deliciousness.  That is why you ask for the recipe.  If recovering from a surgically fixed something you may make that recipe in the near future.  If you come home with two tiny humans, the reproducing of delicious food will happen some day not soon.

Brother Jim is also bilingual:  english and food.  He has a killer special recipe burger named after him, the Jimburger.   It’s worth every single calorie of your day.  I’ve never left his home hungry as his wife can cook like The Pioneer Woman.  We are so loved when we are with them!  Yet, when I, his sister, returned home from surgery hungry for only one thing, he was able to put aside his mad grill skills and show up on the doorstep with a large, Strawberry hand scooped real ice cream shake, topped with whipped cream and cherry.  Comfort food specific…thanks Brother Jim.  (I never told you this Brother, but that act of kindness erased your debt for the not kind gift of black roses on my 40th birthday!  You were finally forgiven…Just keepin it real man.)

Even if your love language isn’t food, it still is a simple, practical, doable way to do something when you hear of a need.  Cheese and crackers, a platter of fresh fruit,  take and bake pizza, Thai take out, or Costco roasted chicken all work real well.    That little kindness in your world goes for miles in the world of someone in need of comfort food.

I’ll share the number one recipe of my Comfort Food list and take this moment to say thank you from the bottom of my toes to the tip of my noggin to anyone who ever brought our family food.  You are a blessing.  Glad I said yes.

Chicken Pot Pie (a la Pat J)

  • 2 cans cream of potato soup
  • 1 16 oz bag frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 cups cooked diced chicken (or turkey)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 2 – 9 inch pie crusts 
  • S & P


Combine first 6  ingredients.  Place one crust in pie pan.  Spoon filling into prepared pie crust.  Cover with top crust and seal top and bottom crusts together.  Slit top crust.  Bake at 375 degrees about 60 minutes.

Now, go and be a blessing!


Day 19: The Forgotten Lunch Bag October 19, 2013

Final Button 3Hot lunch.

What do those words bring up for you?

Pack a lunch.

How about those words – any thoughts?

27 years ago I packed my hubby’s lunch every night and wrote a note to tuck in the bag.  Yes I was smitten, and still am…but I don’t pack it every night anymore and I text sweet messages instead.  He does take a lunch from home nearly everyday. Lunch=leftovers…in a bag with handles that previously held leftovers from some restaurant.

For many years I packed lunch for Thing 1 and Thing 2 until they got old enough to take that on.  Though I still helped.  This college year they live off campus and are back to taking a packed lunch so we sent them new “lunch boxes” this year.

One of the Things was prone to forgetting her lunch bag at home.  I, who speak FOOD love language, couldn’t let that happen no matter how frustrated I was with the forgetting.    I am a forgetter, so really the frustration just triggers my own stuff!  A teacher or school staff member suggested not bringing it (rescuing) so she would learn to take ownership of remembering something she needed.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhh…………the suffering of a parent all over a child missing her peanut butter sandwich and carrots with ranch dressing for dipping.

Yesterday I had the immense pleasure of interviewing Mother Mary about Food being a love language.   2 hours, amazing stories, and lots of laughs later I ended the call with my cup of love overflowing.  I have much to share but for today, just one story about the forgotten school lunch bag and brother John.

Mother Mary:

” John couldn’t remember his lunch.  He had so many other important things on his mind.  I always brought it to the school office for him.  Until the day a teacher said stop bringing it or he would never remember to bring it himself.   So I stopped.   John’s best buddy and next door neighbor John walked to school with (brother) John every day.   Soon after I stopped bringing the lunch to school, friend John would come running back to get the forgotten lunch bag.  Friend John told me:  “I have to get it, otherwise if he doesn’t have any lunch I have to share mine because I feel sorry for him.”  From that day on I  always made sure son John got his lunch or brought it to the school office if he forgot it. So much for the teacher on that one.”

He probably wasn’t the only one of us 5 kids to be a lunch bag forgetter,  apparently just the most consistent.

All that conversation prompted my memory of a lunch bag favorite:  2 slices of white bread with Cheeze Whiz and a slice of bologna, 2 crisp red delicious apples and a Tab.  Mmmmm, tasty white, orange, brown goodness!





wa·ter·shed (noun) 1. an area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas. 2. an event or period marking a turning point, a change of course.

Life with Emily and Matt

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Ellen Brock

Professional Freelance Novel Editor

created for the love-light.

stories of a life captivated by an imaginative, creative God.


noticing joy on the surface of simple things … the evidence of holiness happening in the daily grind.

Don't Ask the Fish | Christian Daily Devotional

noticing joy on the surface of simple things … the evidence of holiness happening in the daily grind.

Big Fat Sweaty Guy

The personal blog of Derek Brouwer.

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