Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sweet Tea Treats

Hello ladies! I apologize for not participating in last week's installment of the Gracious Hospital~i~ Tea Blog~a~ Thon, but things have been busy and priorities must be set. When my flesh and blood family needs me, that must take precedence over blogging. I'm sure all you wonderful homemakers understand.

This week's theme is, "The-Sweet-and-Savory-of-Yummy." I must admit that the very first thing that came to my mind when I was reading the description given on the Gracious Hospitality blog were not recipes for tea time treats. It was a memory of my late mother. When I was about 10 years old, she and I started planning for and having official "tea times." We did not have a lot of money, but we would take what we had and split it between us. Then we would set off to town on "grocery shopping day" with our pocket money. At the time, our mall had a Pepperidge Farm store. Back then, it was not just a small area in the middle of the mall walkway put up during the Christmas season. It was an entire store and it was open all year long.

The two of us would each take a basket and split up. (It was a small store and we could be within sight of each other the whole time.) Now it was time for the fun to start. We would pour over the selections. Picking out different or odd flavored teas, treats, and chocolates. Whatever hit our fancy and was within the budget of our pocket money. I especially remember that one of us would always pick out a Tolberone. The store had all manner of teas, goodies, and chocolates that could not be found on any ordinary grocery store shelf. We would enjoy looking at all the pretty teapots and teacups they had. I still have an affinity to unusual teas, gourmet chocolates, and beautiful teapots.

We would eventually consider ourselves done and checkout one behind the other. After we got home we would get all the groceries that were purchased put away and then lay out our tea time finds. Each ooing and ahhing over the other's choices. Then, all the items were packed into a basket and placed atop the refrigerator. We had our designated "tea time" marked on the calendar and so now all we had to do was wait. Sometimes the day we picked was far enough in the future that we would be able to make two or three trips to the Pepperidge Farm store before our special tea time arrived. This made it all the more fun because there would be that much more to choose from for our tea party. Sometimes we would get down our basket just to peruse it's contents and oohh and ahhh some more.
Then, once our special day arrived we would adorn our table with lace, teacups, and teapots. We would bring our basket down and choose what we wanted to use. A bit of this, some of that, and I've been dying to try this! We would arrange it all on the table in a pretty manner. Once the table was set, my mother would turn on some classical music and we would sit down to our long awaited tea time. It was such fun.

It's so strange the things you remember. I don't really remember any conversations we had during these tea times. What I do remember is all the fun we had preparing for them. (To this day I love nothing more than the preparations involved in any type of dinner event.) I remember the music and some of the tea flavors we chose. And, being female, of course I remember the chocolate!

My mother always taught me that it matters not how much money one has but how one chooses to use it. We did not have a lot of funds at all, but we were able to have some wonderful, almost elaborate tea times because we planned so much and did a bit here and a bit there. I'm so glad my mother taught me that.

I was in my late 20's when she passed. She has been gone now four years. Such a strange feeling really. But I am so thankful for the lessons I learned from her. They are enough to last my lifetime.

Now, in the spirit of this post and the topic given for this week, I have went through my mother's recipe files and picked something that I think would be just perfect for a ladies tea. They would look very nice on a pretty platter with a paper doilie underneath.

I hope you enjoy.*~*~*~*~*

Honey Almond Twist
6-7 C. bread flour
1/2 C. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 pkg. dry active yeast
1 C. water
1 C. milk
1/2 C. butter
1 egg

1/3 C. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 Tbls. butter, softened

1/4 C. sugar
1/4 C. honey
2 Tbls. butter
1/2 C. slivered almonds

Grease two cookie sheets. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. In a large bowl, combine 2 C. flour, 1/2 C. sugar, salt, and yeast; blend well. In a small saucepan, heat water, milk & 1/2 C. butter until very warm. Add warm liquid and egg to flour mixture. Blend at low speed until moistened; beat 3 minutes at medium speed. By hand, stir in additional 3 C. flour until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

On a floured surface, knead in remaining 1-2 C. flour until dough is smooth and elastic with blisters under the surface, about 10 minutes. Place dough in greased bowl; cover loosely with plastic wrap and/or cloth towel. Let rise in a warm place until light and doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down several times to remove all air bubbles. Allow dough to rest on counter covered with inverted bowl for 15 minutes. In a small bowl, combine 1/3 C. sugar and cinnamon; set aside. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough into a 25x6 rectangle. Spread each with 1 Tbls. margarine. Sprinkle with sugar-cinnamon mixture. Starting with longer side, roll up tightly; pinch edges to seal. Twist each roll, stretching slightly. Form a pretzel shape; tuck ends under to seal. Place on greased cookie sheets. Cover, let rise in a warm place until doubled in size ~ about 45 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Uncover dough. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until deep golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheets; place on a wire rack. In a small saucepan combine all glaze ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Spoon hot glaze over warm breads, completely covering tops and sides.

Makes three 16 slice coffee cakes.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Greasing the Tracks

Free will. We all have it. A gift given us of God.

The dictionary defines "free" as this:
able to do something at will; at liberty:
free to choose
enjoying personal rights or liberty, as a person who is not in slavery: a land of free people

The word "will" is defined as this:
the faculty of conscious and especially of deliberate action; the power of control the mind has over its own actions: the freedom of the will
power of choosing one's own actions: to have a strong or a weak will
the act or process of using or asserting one's choice; volition: My hands are obedient to my will.

So, the Lord has gifted us with the ability and the right to make our own decisions. To determine right from wrong. To decided the type of person we wish to be. We hold in our own hands the decision of where we will place our heart, our mind and our own eternity. No one else can make these decisions for us. For they are deeply personal.

With our free will many choices must be made. The main choice is to whom you wish to belong ~ to the world or the Lord? Some may think that they will take the most personal and important decision of giving ones heart and mind to the Lord or to the world and put it off until a more convenient time. But, herein lies a problem.

You see, the Lord (having gifted you with free will) will not follow you around desperately trying to draw you to Him. That would defeat the whole purpose of the gift. He will not beg, cajole or try to convince you of what is right. As a matter of fact, He will grease the tracks in the direction in which *you* choose to go!

Romans 1:28
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient

Does he want all to come to the knowledge of Him? Yes. Does he grieve over lost souls? Yes. But he will not try to convince you to come unto Him. That - is entirely up to you. With the gift of free will the ball is put directly in your court. You get to choose who you will live for and where you will spend eternity. We should never take our free will for granted. It is a great gift and the decisions you make with it will follow you forever.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Old Fashioned Dumplings

The Recipe Box Swap

I love a good dumpling. So does my family. Perhaps it's our Southern roots, I don't know. But this recipe is one that has serviced me well since I was a young bride. I've used it for potlucks, company at my house and our own dinners with just us. I usually let a chicken simmer on the back of the stove throughout the day. Then when it's done I pull all the meat off and make up a pot of chicken gravy. I always make the dumplings at the last minute so they are fresh and hot when added in.

Old Fashioned Dumplings
2 C. flour
1 Tbls. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 C. butter, cold
1/2 C. water

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Using a food processor, pastry blender, or two knives, cut in the butter until it is the size of very small peas and distributed throughout the dry ingredients. Add the water and knead 8 to 10 times. If the dough seems too sticky, add a little more flour. Roll the dough out to a 1/8 in. thickness and cut into 1 inch squares. Bring water (I always use my chicken stock the chicken cooking in all day) to a rolling boil (now is the time to start working quickly!) and drop in the dumplings. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to simmer. Cook for 10 minutes (no peeking!) Lift your lid after the ten minutes is up and turn off the heat. Overcooking will cause the dumplings to fall apart.

Serve with chicken and gravy.~~


For many years making a good cookie seemed elusive to me. The reason is that I prefer a soft cookie to a hard one. Every now and then I would hit upon a recipe that would yield a soft cookie of some sort. But a basic chocolate chip cookie ~ well, they would all turn out too crispy for my taste.

So I decided to do some research on the matter. I learned that a lot of it has to do with the flour. Stir your flour first in your container with a spoon to make it fluffy. Then drop the flour into your measuring scoop by the spoonful and level off with a knife. Don't use any extra flour. Once you start adding the flour into your batter use your mixer until it becomes thick and then switch over to a wooden spoon. Mix only until the flour is blended in. Overmixing can make your cookies hard.

This is a recipe I found for chocolate chip cookies that has become a favorite of my family. It uses both butter and shortening, so a good texture is almost guaranteed. I made these yesterday.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 C. butter softened
1/2 C. shortening
1 C. packed brown sugar
1/2 C. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
1 12 oz. pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips (2 cups)

In a large mixing bowl beat butter and shortening with an electric mixer and medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, and baking soda. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour with a wooden spoon. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Each today
well lived
makes yesterday
a dream of
each tomorrow
a vision of hope
Look therefore
to this one day
for it alone is life.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Hello and welcome!! I know I missed last week's post in the "Gracious Hospital~i~Tea Blog~a~Thon." I'm sorry and will try to make up for it now. Last week was just a very busy week at our house and I had to devote my time and attention elsewhere.

I have to say that if you have not yet visited the blogs involved in this Blog~a~Thon, you are missing a real treat. If you have some spare time this week I greatly recommend going through them with a nice cup of hot tea!

Last week's theme was decorating with tea items and this week's theme is stitching with a tea theme. I will address both of those in this post.

These are just a few of my teacups. I actually have many more teapots than teacups, but unfortunately they are all packed away. :-( I have over twenty different styles of teapots as I have been collecting them since I was first married. But in our last move they did not make it out of storage. The next time we go there I will see if I can get those boxes out and share pictures of them with you all.

On the top shelf above is our Nativity set which I keep out all year long. I waited a long time to purchase one because I wanted one that was...just right, lol. I'm very happy with this one. Below are some teacups ~ some were purchased at antique stores and some at T.J.Maxx. There is a reason I chose these particular patterns. My mother had many teacups. They were all so beautiful. However, when she passed all of her teacups disappeared. I do not know who has them, but whoever it is I hope they enjoy them and that they appreciate what they have. I remember the different patterns on my mother's teacups and when I am shopping for teacups I try to find ones that remind me of my mother. The large cut-glass vase was my mother's and I always keep it displayed.

The apple teapot was given to me by my husband last year on our anniversary. The teapot in the very back is the only one from my collection that made it here in our last move. I remember I purchased it several years ago and liked it because it has on Oriental look and feel to it.

The cross stitch above is one I completed several years ago. I've always enjoyed cross stitching and I loved this pattern when I saw it. It's medium in size compared to some others, but anyone who cross stitches can attest to the fact that a lot of hours go into small and medium sized pieces.

This is just a little assortment that I really like. The doilies belonged to my mother, the candlesticks, tiny teapot, candle warmer and jug were all together in a box at a yard sale that I purchased for $2.00 and the pillow (which has a weighted base so it can stand) was found at Goodwill. I probably spend no more than $5.00 for the whole thing. Quiet pleasures do not have to cost much!


I just wanted to pop in this morning and wish you all a blessed Sabbath! I know I haven't put up my "tea" post yet, but I'll try to get caught up tomorrow. As for me, I've already got the children in their "Sunday Best" and now it's time for me to follow suit.

Blessings to you*~*~*~enjoy your Sabbath!!*~*~*~*

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Who is tending to *your* calling?

As wives, mothers and daughters we are given a sacred calling. In essence, we are to give our homes a heart. Are there other things in the world that we could attend to that are noble in character? Certainly. But one must be careful to guard the time and energy that rightfully belongs under our own roof. Yes, ladies ~ our time and energy rightfully belongs under our roof. Not running up and down the road, flitting from this activity to that opportunity.

I cannot help but feel that when one contracts out their personal duties (childcare, maid service, etc...) they are allowing someone else to tend to their God-given calling. Think about that a moment. The Lord himself presented you with the gift of your work. Every duty on your task list, every time you need to wipe a nose or kiss away a hurt, every single meal...these things make up the sacred work on the holy ground of your home.

Would you then, turn to face your Lord and say that you have found something better to do? Something more profitable? Something more fulfilling? I daresay that if that is the case we will have some things to answer for one day.

Please remember when you have changed the tenth diaper of the day, when you have scrubbed the tub for the sixth time that week, when you do any number of things that can seem monotonous, that in reality we are doing it all as unto Him.

Matthew 25:40
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Sacred work in your holy home. A gift given to us by the Lord himself. What could be more fulfilling than that?