I love to cook. I love to cook for people. I love to cook for people that enjoy eating. I love to cook for people that enjoy eating and sharing their lives.
That is why I included sharing a meal in my monthly gathering of friends that we call, In It Together.
In It Together is a random gathering of women interested in knowing how to deepen their faith. We meet once a month to go over the chapter of a book relating to our faith. Currently, we are perusing Crazy Love by Francis Chan. The scriptural truths and biblical admonitions that Mr. Chan presents to us chapter by chapter, keeps us searching, delving and discussing how we accomplish this thing called a spiritual life focused on Jesus Christ.
This is not as easy as you may think. It involves confronting the sin in your life and in many cases, altering your life to an unrecognizable picture of a former self. It involves humbling yourself before a holy God and asking Him for His direction and guidance. It involves putting down your own agendas and recognizing a sovereign God.
Sheew. Heavy, life changing stuff.
Enough to build up an appetite, I'd say.
So that is why on another once a month, we get together to just sit down and share a meal. We reflect on our weeks since we last gathered in study mode and sometimes update on the current hot spot in our lives. But mostly, we just enjoy the meal, chat about our lives and laugh and laugh and laugh. There is something about the intimacy of eating a meal together that manages to put down barriers and share more openly with one another. Conversations can more easily be made over a meal than any other time. Hence, the Business Lunch. However, I find a great deal of satisfaction in cooking for others, especially those that I have a special affinity for, that I would not want to relegate this treat to a restaurant.
This past Monday, Lovely Liza became so excited about the food arriving at the table that she just got giddy. This young woman, who admitted that she did not own a garlic press, took a great deal of joy in the anticipation of a home cooked meal. You cannot imagine how happy that kind of response means to me! I was ready to sign on as her personal chef just for the reaction that she gave me that evening.
I have to thank Sweet Sharon for the recipe that I cooked Monday night. It is a simple slap dash thing that has served me well for many occasions. It is a flexible, fun thing and apparently, a BIG hit Monday night.
Sweet Sharon's Slap Dash
Saute crushed garlic (to taste) in heated olive oil. Add chopped pecans, almonds or walnuts. Your choice. Toss in vegetables - broccoli, snow peas, grated carrots, zucchini, summer squash, red peppers, onions; your choice. (I had the ladies bring a vegetable that they had hanging around to add to the mix. That was fun.) Serve sauteed veggies over cooked linguine or fettuccine noodles. Serve that over fresh spinach. Grate fresh Parmesan over that along with grated feta cheese.
(I sometimes saute or grill boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced in strips, to serve on the side)
In these days of uncertainty, it is best to cling on to what is true, solid, absolute and yummy. Make it a point to cook for someone or someones just because you wanna. Make it a point to gather like minded, like goaled people in your life for good discussion and biblical challenges. Serve one another in love... The payback is extraordinary...
It is no secret that I am a lousy business person. I could not make money if there was a gun to my head. I give away more things than I ever sell. Even when I was selling other products than my own, I was known to give 'Friend Discounts' just 'cause I couldn't bring myself to charge full price.
I am also known for coming out in the red in a Yard Sale. 'How does that happen?' I hear you ask. I set up, drag my superfluous collection outside and before I know it, my till is empty. Neighbor Nancy and her posse have held sales for years on a weekend in July. In fact, a sale was in progress when I showed up with my semi full of 'stuff', thirteen years ago this month. I joined them probably four years ago in this yearly event that I dread/look forward to with great trepidation. They are mostly responsible for my deficit. I seem to find every thing I ever needed at their sale. This is how I roll.
But despite my seeming ineptitude at actually making money at a Yard Sale, I do so learn ever so much more. This year was a banner year for memorable patrons.
Usually, I get a Jehovah Witness or two, who politely purchase a small thing in order to engage in a conversation prior to handing me a Watch Tower.
There is usually an Amish buggy parked nearby to take advantage of my very useful items. I have the bargain people, looking specifically for deals and sometimes, very needed items.
This year, however, I had several kindred spirits, people that 'get' my rather eclectic way of doing things. I had quite a few visitors under my pergola, where I set up shop to keep my noggin from frying in the 90+ degree temps.
I had lovely comments about the peacefulness in my little corner of the world. I had multiple comments on my prolific wisteria and even comments about the 'beauty' of my now dead garden.
I had crafters that saw the raw bones of my offerings that spurred them into a creative frenzy.
I had a precocious nine year old home-schooled little girl that asked for a tour and names of my flowers. She responded properly to the fairy bouquet that I give all little visitors to my Secret Garden. I believe I introduced her to the intoxicating joys of lavender to the point that she returned later in the day to replace her missing lavender in the teeny bottle that I gave her. I thoroughly enjoyed the repartee for which she shared with me, even the mulching tips that she gave me regarding my garden waste.
I met a lovely older women from another county that purchased items that were favorites and hard to let go of. How pleasant to know that they would serve an extended life in the home of lovely woman. We talked about Prince Edward Island and it's abundant beauty. We talked of conserving water and sewing and gardening and quilting. When she left, I hoped that we would meet again.
I met characters and interesting studies. I enjoyed watching and observing. I had lots of quiet time when things were slow and I knew I had to be there but nothing was going on. I like that kind of down time. I could read, write and pick around my garden a bit in the silence. Good reflection time.
So while I did not make the tiniest of cash, I came away gratified at what I earned. Glimmers of the fellow personages that share this space is always an insight well invested.
Water makes up nearly 60% of our bodies. Some organs, like our lungs, contain more water than other organs. We need a hefty amount of fluids a day to replenish this valuable resource.
This is my take on why we humans are inexplicably drawn to rivers, oceans, lakes, ponds, streams, bays, puddles.
I would reflect on this phenomena when I lived near the Mississippi River and would drive on the scenic River Drive. I would watch the multitudes drawn to the broad, quickly moving river. Park benches would be filled and the walkway would be traffic like in it's busyness. All to look at a river. Granted, it is a pretty phenomenal river, but nonetheless, simple H2O in it's basic form.
I would smile to myself as I prepared for this trip. I would think of the different vistas that I would experience. The ability to feast my eyes on the vastness of the Northern Atlantic Ocean with all it's bays and inlets, was something that my brain had a hard time wrapping around.
But proceed I did. And I was not disappointed. This longing to be near water becomes even more intense when one lives landlocked in the middle of a state forest. Trees are wonderful, but oh, the water.....
The Blues. Oh my, the deepness of the blues; the reach from sky to horizon. The greys of the overcast days. The wicked darkness of the waves on a foggy morning...The changeable tones making me ache for a paint brush and canvas....
From the harbor at Halifax to the far coastal reaches on Prince Edward Island, the water, that turbulent, story ridden, blessed creation, was the draw to our spirits and souls...
And there we were refreshed.......
Like no other time....
In our lives.....
' In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.'
Kindred Spirit friend and I are souvenir snobs. We eschew the usual convenient offerings for the far away artist's studio. We enjoy meeting the artisan in her natural habitat. (I know that their are male artisans as well, but oddly, during this trip we only ran across their female counterparts). I believe that the 2000 kilometers that we put on our wonderful rental car, will testify to the truth to that statement. We managed to perplex our Garmin and challenge all the iron nosed people in our car. But we found the artists and it was worth the excursions.
Marcela Rosemberg: www.marcelarosemberg.com Amazing glass artist. A Jewish woman from Argentina, she was invited to come to Prince Edward Island to live and work and share her art form with the locals and the tourists. A gracious woman who understands how blessed she is, displays with joy her work that includes her Jewish faith;, menorahs, mezusahs and Seder plates to delicate pieces of jewelry and functional art. It was a rainy day when we visited her studio but the brilliance of her glass and her warm hospitality made it a glowing encounter.
Brenda Watts:www.cattailswoodwork.com. Woodworker extraordinaire. KS did not make it out of the studio without a piece. Brenda's rural studio sits amid the very thing that she repurposes; bountiful trees! The men in our group were awed by her state of the art equipment and tools and the skill she used to create the wonderful things in her studio. From cutting boards to decorative items, her creative imagings in wood won us over. Her daughter, a fused glass artist, shares some of her mama's space as well. A good marriage of crafts. Pandia Glass/Meghan Watts
Naturally, all this oohing and ahhing worked up an appetite And wouldn't you know it, in the midst of NOWHERE there was the tiniest Tea Shop. This convenient little stop came attached to Belfast Mini Millshttp://www.minimills.net/index.php an extremely productive 'little' place, it produces Mini Mills for those involved in wool spinning cottage industries. This small spot on the island produces the mills as well as an abundance of hand knit and woven items for sale in their showroom. Not only do they knit and weave the items but most of the wool is from their own sheep. While we were there, a local sheep farmer dropped by a load of unspun wool. There was a torrential rainstorm going on while we were in the shop so we had plenty of time to peruse the finished items and the wool. I came away with a grand gift for all the grandgirls to share and some wool to make Hubby some warm slippers. The shop even had Samoyed Dog Wool. No kiddin.
Another stop on the Artisan Tour was at Hazel and Bette's home/rug hooking shop. Not being too friendly with contemporary ways, these two adorable sisters handed out their handmade cards without benefit of websites or Facebook friending. These two ladies have probably been hooking and designing and selling the accouterments for many years. They finished each other's sentences and complemented their skills. One sister was the bookkeeper who kept the other grounded. The other was the designer and right side of the equation. While KS received a perfunctory introduction to Rug Hooking 101, I snapped the sign on their door. 'Open at noonish today'. Somethin tells me that if KS and I had a shop, we would borrow their sign.
Driving the long lane to Hedwig Koleszar's Gallery/Studio,http://li58-148.members.linode.com/articles/profiles/394 it came to mind that artists, these designers of lovely things, are quite possibly, the glue that holds us together in the midst of our day to day mundane and challenging lives. The beauty that they bring into our lives in simple and amazing ways overwhelmed me as we entered Hedwig's property. Gardens carefully and organically cared for, the warm greeting from her puppy and the smiling face of her Summer Assistant, was a mere portent of the lovely pottery that she creates. It was at Hedwig's Studio that we discovered the true spirit of Prince Edward Island. We had encountered such lovely people during our stay. Cars stop in the middle of the road if you are waiting to cross. Smiles are abundant and greetings are warm. They seemed genuinely interested in why we would visit their island and where in the states we hailed from. KS is great at engaging conversation so while she did all the work, I quietly peered into all the areas of the studios and galleries. At Hedwig's, we were told that sadly, she was in town but that we were free to wander around. It was while we were absorbing the vibe in her studio, that we saw the note:.
Need I say anymore? Book your next vaca..'.Holiday' for next year, late June. And tell Hedwig that we said thank you for restoring our faith in mankind.....