Category Archives: Hospitality

Book Review: Bread & Wine, A Love Letter to Life around the Table with Recipes

511z58htsll-_sx340_bo1204203200_Niequist, Shauna. Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life around the Table, with Recipes. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013.

Bread & Wine is, by far, one of the best books I’ve read in the last several years! Shauna shares raw, real life stories mixed with a collection of her favorite recipes. I have literally laughed out loud and bawled my eyes out reading this! I feel like the author is sitting across from me, sharing a cup of coffee and opening up the window to her true self, and it feels like we’ve been friends for a lifetime even though I just met her in these pages. It’s as if you’re reading an intimate journal of an everywoman’s soul, and she says, “Come. Sit. Eat.”

In the author’s note on page 10, she writes the following:

“My prayer is that you’ll read these pages first curled up on your couch or in bed or in the bathtub, and then after that you’ll bring it to the kitchen with you, turning corners of pages, breaking the spine, spilling red wine on it, and splashing vinegar across the pages, that it will become battered and stained as you cook and chop and play, music loud and kitchen messy.

“And more than anything, I pray that when you put this book down, you’ll gather the people you love around your table to eat and drink, to tell stories, to be heard and fed and nourished on every level.”

Shauna begins with an explanation of what being a “bread-and-wine person” means: “By that I mean that I’m a Christian, a person of the body and blood, a person of the bread and wine. Like every Christian, I recognize the two as food and drink, and also, at the very same time, I recognize them as something much greater–mystery and tradition and symbol. … The two together are the sacred and the material at once, the heaven and the earth, the divine and the daily” (p. 11).

I am very much a “food” person. I love to cook, to share meals, to host friends and family and strangers, to talk about food and hospitality and life and God. So this book was perfect. The recipes are simple and offer a wide variety of personalization. I could not put this book down! Not only was it beautifully crafted, it was inspirational to get back to sharing food and faith with friends and family.

She talks about her cooking club, a group of friends that met together frequently, cooked together, did life together, laughed together, cried together, prayed together. Even when life and jobs scattered them across the country, they found ways to come back together, and it always involved food and faith and friendship in some combination.

I love that they would meet for dinner regularly, kids included. After supper, they’d put all the kids down for bed in pack n plays and sleeping bags, or whatever; and then the adults would come back downstairs to share what God was teaching them and pray with one another. Then when they needed to leave, they carried their sleeping children to their cars and took them home, but they stayed long enough for their souls to be fed and not just their bellies. And when there was a death or a new baby, a sick parent or another loss, they would bring food to one another, almost instinctively. This is the way I want to live my life; the way we try to live our lives.

Here are some of my favorite passages:

“Food is a language of care, the thing we do when traditional language fails us, when we don’t know what to say, when there are no words to say. And food is what we offer in celebration–at weddings, at anniversaries, at happy events of every kind. It’s the thing that connects us, that bears our traditions, our sense of home and family, our deepest memories, and on a practical level, our ability to live and breath each day. Food matters.

“At the very beginning, and all through the Bible, all through the stories about God and his people, there are stories about food, about all of life changing with the bite of an apple, about trading an inheritance for a bowl of stew, about waking up to find the land littered with bread, God’s way of caring for his people; about a wedding where water turned to wine, Jesus’ first miracle; about the very first Last Supper, the humble bread and wine becoming, for all time, indelibly linked to the very body of Christ, the center point for thousands of years of tradition and belief. It matters. It mattered then, and it matters now, possibly even more so, because it’s reclaiming some of the things we may have lost along the way” (p. 14).

“When you eat, I want you to think of God, of the holiness of hands that feed us, of the provision we are given every time we eat. When you eat bread and you drink wine, I want you to think about the body and the blood every time, not just when the bread and wine show up in church, but when they show up anywhere–on a picnic table or a hardwood floor or a beach” (p. 17).

“I believe every person should be able to make the simple foods that nourish them, that feel familiar and comforting, that tell the story of who they are. Each one of us should be able to nourish ourselves in the most basic way and to create meals and traditions around the table that tell the story of who we are to the people we care about. And the only way to get there is to start where you are.

“If you don’t cook, begin by inviting people over. Order pizza and serve it with a green salad and a bottled salad dressing. Get comfortable with people in your home, with the meds and the chaos. Focus on making people comfortable, on creating a space protected from the rush and chaos of daily life, a space full of laughter and safety and soul…and little by little, build a sense of muscle of memory, a body of knowledge, a set of patters for how your home and your heart open and expand when the people you love are gathered around your table” (p. 40).

“Learn, little by little, meal by meal, to feed yourself and the people you love, because food is one of the ways we love each other, and the table is one of the most sacred places we gather” (p. 51).

“One of the best part of my childhood was traveling with my dad” (p. 93). “…he taught me that where we are, we eat what they eat, and we eat what they give us, all the time. We taste the place when we eat what our hosts eat. As we traveled, food became a language of understanding, even more so than museums or history lessons” (p. 94). “…I want my kids to learn, as I learned, that there are a million ways to live, a million ways to eat, a million ways to dress and speak…. I want them to know that ‘our way’ isn’t the right way, but just one way, that children all over the world, no matter how different they seem, are just like the children in our neighborhood–they love to play, to discover, to learn. … I want my kids to taste and smell and experience the biggest possible world, because every bit of it, every taste and texture and flavor, is delicious” (p. 98).

“What people are craving isn’t perfection. People aren’t longing to be impressed; they’re longing to feel like they’re home. If you create a space full of love and character and creativity and soul, they’ll take off their shoes and curl up with gratitude and rest, no matter how small, no matter how undone, no matter how odd. …So that’s what we do. We throw open the front door and invite people into our home, despite its size, despite its imperfections. We practice hospitality, creating a soft and safe place for people to connect and rest” (p. 106-7).

“The heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved. It’s about declaring your table a safe zone, a place of warmth and nourishment. Part of that, then, is honoring the way God made our bodies, and feeding them in the ways they need to be fed.

“I do draw a line between food restrictions for health reasons and plain old picky eating. I bend over backward for the first–I make sure to have a meal that includes a filling and beautiful option for people who can’t eat one or another part of the whole meal….

“What I don’t do, though, is knock myself out for picky eaters. Part of eating at someone’s table is learning about the tastes and textures and flavors of their home, and part of eating at someone’s table is understanding that homes are not restaurants and your host is not a short-order cook….

“So this is the dance, it seems to me: to be the kind of host who honors the needs of the people who gather around his or her table, and to be the kind of guest who comes to the table to learn, not to demand” (p. 114-5).

“[Y]ou can decide that every time you open your door, it’s an act of love, not performance or competition or striving. You can decide that every time people gather around your table, your goal is nourishment, not neurotic proving. You can decide” (p. 195).

“The church is at its best, in my view, when it is more than a set of ideas and ideals, when it is a working, living, breathing, on-the-ground, in-the-mess force for good in our cities and towns” (p. 208).

“When you offer peace instead of division, when you offer faith instead of fear, when you offer someone a place at your table instead of keeping them out because they’re different or messy or wrong somehow, you represent the heart of Christ” (p.250).

“Body of Christ, broken for you. Blood of Christ, shed for you. ‘Every time you eat the bread and drink the wine,’ Jesus says, ‘remember me.’ Communion is connection, remembrance. …the genius of Communion, of bread and wine, is that bread is the food of the poor and wine the drink of the privileged, and that every time we see those two together, we are reminded of what we share instead of what divides us” (p. 251).

“And I believe that Jesus asked for us to remember him during the breaking of the bread and the drinking of the wine every time, every meal, every day–no matter where we are, who we are, what we’ve done” (p. 252).

“Most of the time, I eat like someone’s about to steal my plate, like I can’t be bothered to chew or taste or feel, but I’m coming to see that the table is about food, and it’s also about time. It’s about showing up in person, a whole and present person, instead of a fragmented person, phone in one hand and to-do list in the other. Put them down, both of them, twin symbols of the modern age, and pick up a knife and a fork. The table is where time stops. It’s where we look people in the eye, where we tell the truth about how hard it is, where we make space to listen to the whole story, not the textable sound bite.

“…if you can satiate a person’s hunger, you can get a glimpse of their heart. There’s an intimacy in it, in the meeting of needs and the filling of the one’s stomach, that is, necessarily, tied to the heart.

“I want you to gobble life up in huge bites, tasting everything, trying every new flavor, remembering every smell and texture like it’s the best thing you’ve ever had. I want you to live with wild and gorgeous abandon, throwing yourself into each day, telling the truth about who you are and who you are not, writing a love song to the world itself and to the God who made every inch of it” (p. 257-8).

See why I couldn’t put it down?! And it comes with recipes at the end of almost every chapter, a 4-week book club discussion guide (along with suggested menu for each book club night), and all kinds of entertaining tips. It’s beautiful and relatable, sharable and practical. Pick up a copy, read it, re-read it, share it, try the recipes, but most importantly, open your home and your table to the people God brings across your path, and enjoy!

Bon Appetit!

Always Room For One More…

One of the challenges of being a new mom is friendships. The challenge is multi-faceted. First, you’re so tired from countless feedings in the early days (and nights) that you literally have a hard time concentrating on more than three words at a time. Second, your doctor told you it was flu season and to stay away from people for six weeks or so…so you’re missing the fellowship of church and work and other social gatherings, and you feel like you’re always about a dozen steps behind on the latest goings-on in your friends’ lives. You’ve missed countless announcements and updates (even if you’ve been on social media more than you realized possible to try to fill that void). Then there’s the dichotomy of not always wanting to talk about kids but not knowing what else to talk about because they’re pretty much all-consuming in those first few months.

When you finally do make it back to church, the timing of services and feedings isn’t always complimentary, and you’re faced with the very real temptation to not even show up. But you keep going because the moms before you have said that the mother’s room was a fantastic spot for fellowship. Some days it is, and that’s great. Other days, there’s 8 moms in there at the same time, and it can be a little overwhelming–and you feel like you’re over-talking in an effort to relate to another human being. Then there are those days when you really want the fellowship, even if it’s overstimulating, and you find yourself in the mother’s room all alone.

One of the last posts I wrote was about having friends in all ages and stages of life, and I think this is more important now than ever! Sometimes hanging out with the fellow-new-mommies is exactly what you need, but then you realize that you’re all just figuring this out and there are countless others who have gone before and have some great advice. And it’s not worth getting offended over whether they offer said advice with or without solicitation.😉 Then there are others who may not be exactly in the same stage as you right now, but they still want to be your friend and are desperately trying to relate to you too.

I just finished reading two blog posts (a series called “Keep Your Circle Broken” by Sara Horn), and I hope you’ll read them both and glean from them truths about always making room for one more friend and not letting yourself get offended when they haven’t read the latest blog post on “15 Things Not to Say to So-and-So.” Just accept them for who they are and know that they’re probably just trying to make friends too. We all stumble over our words and say the wrong things sometimes. But grace is about forgiving and choosing to move forward in strength and peace. Here are the posts:

“Part One: When It’s Hard Making Friends”

“Part Two: Ways to Say Hello”

And as you step in to church this Sunday, keep your eyes open for the new mom, the single lady, the grieving widow, the empty-nester, the nursery worker, the…you get the point…and go up and say “Hello” to that sister in Christ. You never know what friendship might blossom by making room for one more conversation–for one more new friend.

“What’s Next?!” Might Not Be the Best Question to Ask…

I recently read an article called “26, Unmarried, and Childless.” I’m 32 and married, but I can still relate. My favorite part of this article is the following quote: “…instead of asking me what’s next, ask me what’s now. Ask me what God is teaching me, ask me what I’m struggling with, or what brings me joy. I am learning, I am growing, and I am happy. I would love to tell you all about it.”

The above article was written with a female’s perspective, but since then, another article has been posted to their site. It’s called “29, A Guy, and Single.” Yes, guys struggle with singleness too, but the point made in this article that resonates the loudest with me is to not isolate others when they’re not in the same stage of life as you.

I got married just before I turned 25. We’ve been married almost 8 years now and  still don’t have children. And we’re okay with that. It’s what God has for us right now (obviously). For the first three or four years, we got lots of questions about kids–even accusations and hurtful comments from some. Fortunately, we’re past that “stage” (if you will). Do we want kids? Sure, if that’s how we can best be conformed to Christ and glorify God. Will we have kids? I don’t know (and please don’t ask me–if you really want us to, tell God and let Him decide if and when). Do we love the next generation? Absolutely! If we didn’t, we wouldn’t serve in the Children’s Ministry at our church and hang out with the teens at church suppers and ski trips and help the junior high-ers bake cupcakes for a church wide shindig. Will we have biological kids? Foster? Adopt? I don’t know. (Is that question even relevant?)

Not everyone is meant to follow the same path. Not everyone fits in a fixed pattern or norm. It’s okay to not be in the same stage as your peers. God’s plan for each of us is unique…just like the gifts He’s given us. (Not to mention that certain personal questions just ought not be asked by casual acquaintances in the first place.)

Bryan and I have plenty of friends who are married with kids…one, two, three, four…or even nine or more! Some are new parents, others are parents of teens, and then there’s the empty nesters–not to mention every stage in between. We also have lots of “DINK” friends (Dual Income No Kids–yes, it’s a real thing), some by choice and others because of infertility or miscarriage. And we have lots of single friends–guys and girls, men and women, anywhere from high school into their retirement years–some who desperately want a romantic relationship and others who are fine with their current status. Some who are dating, others who are widowed, and some who have experienced the pain of divorce. But regardless of the status, gender, age, ethnicity, career path, or number of kids, one thing is constant: we all need God! And we need each other to point each other to Him.

Did you catch that?! We need each other, folks. The church wasn’t built of any one particular  demographic–or it would’ve been rendered extinct a long time ago. We need to stop letting our gender or stage in life define us and starting letting the name “Christian” define us. As Christians, we are all called to be followers of Christ and members united in Him. There is beauty in diversity, and there’s no reason we can’t share diverse backgrounds and still delight in unity.

Sometimes I wish we would go back to the days of calling other believers “brother” and “sister.” Many cultures still do, but it’s fallen out of common use in our American culture. It’s sad, really. Maybe if we started seeing each other as brothers and sisters in Christ again, we wouldn’t care so much about status and we’d focus more on loving one another and caring for one another and sacrificing for one another–like we do for our blood relatives. After all, it’s the blood of Christ our Savior that bonds us–isn’t that a greater connection than even familial bloodlines? If we would love our biological siblings despite their flaws and faults and “let love cover it” and even defend them “to the death” when others speak ill of them, should we not treat our heavenly siblings in a similar manner?

One of the saddest things to me is when a friend tells me that they had a “best friend” but that best friend got married and now they don’t hang out because the other friend is “still single” and “that’s just life” or “it’s only natural.” Or when one friend has kids earlier than another friend and they no longer interact because of nap schedules and early bed times. There are ways around this. We just have to be flexible–on both sides. I understand that there are certain things that can’t flex–babies have to be fed and cared for, and parents get tired, especially new parents, and we do need to rest. I just want to encourage you not to give up on a relationship because part of your situation changed. Relationships take work, and they’re worth the effort.

There’s no reason to not ask someone in a different stage of life than you to come over for dinner…or meet up for coffee…or host a game night. If they have kids, you might have to plan further in advance so they can schedule a babysitter, or better yet…just get together at the house with the youngest children, so the kids can still go to bed and the adults can stay up and talk. It works. Trust me. The perfect example of this is our Shepherding Group–we have 16 people when we’re all together, and we range from infant to senior saint. The backgrounds of where we grew up, where we went to school, whether or not we have kids, etc., are SO diverse, yet God has done something really cool by bringing such a random group of individuals together into a tightly knit group.

Maybe it is “natural” to fall into easy conversation with people in your same stage of life, but we are called to live “supernaturally” by the power of the Almighty God! So, fight what’s “natural” and choose to branch out of your comfort zone. Make friends with someone in a different age group than you. Or rekindle a friendship that’s fallen by the wayside because of different career paths or life choices. Mentor a younger brother or sister in Christ. Seek out a more mature brother or sister to mentor you. Share with them what God is teaching you…and ask them, “What’s God teaching you right now?” instead of “What’s Next?” And rejoice together in our Amazing, Unifying God!

Design Project: Dining Room Converted To Reading Room

We are almost done with our Reading Room Project – first DIY project of 2012. So, if you’re wondering what I’ve been up to (because the blog’s been a little sparse on new content), here’s your answer. It has been well worth it for us!

Let me start by explaining our thinking behind doing this re-decorate project. First, we found we rarely used the dining room. We work opposite schedules and only really get to eat dinner each night and the occasional breakfast together, and when we do eat together, we often found ourselves eating in the living room and chatting while we ate. Second, we’re combining the contents of our two extra bedrooms upstairs into one space for TV/exercise and the occasional guest, while the other room will likely be occupied by a short term renter. So, we needed a place for Bryan’s office and we were ready to pull some of our books out of storage. Finally, we’ve been hosting a Bible study/community group for young adults in our home for the last six months or so and wanted a more comfortable space for conversations to break off as necessary.

Most of our furniture was either given to us or bought as necessities before we were married (i.e., things that fit our budget and were functional but not necessarily our style), and though grateful for these, we were ready for a change. We talked about the idea a couple of weeks ago and I posted our dining room set for sale on Facebook  the next morning, just to see what would happen. It sold by lunchtime! I was shocked, and excited for an opportunity to finally buy some furniture that fit our style. I texted Bryan, “Guess we have to remodel now. Just sold the set on FB! They’ll pick up on Sat/Sun. :)”

Here’s the Before picture:

I found this really cool website that lets you design your room layout, specifying dimensions of furniture, placement of outlets, and even add links to the items you want to purchase from various vendors! It’s called Urban Barn, and I highly recommend it. Here’s a snapshot of the design I had in mind:

And here’s the final result:

View of Reading Room from the Kitchen

View of Reading Room from the Foyer - the couch and upholstered chairs function as extra seating around the table, as needed (note: I used my teapot collection as bookends)

Sideboard with Feather Arrangements and Teacup Racks; Table Centerpiece is a Jar of Foodie Ornaments that I couldn't bear to put away after Christmas

The Office Space in the Reading Room

We’re thinking of hanging a clock or floating shelf next to the desk, to the left of the mirror, and we’re waiting on one final piece of art to be matted and hung above the computer.

11x14 original acrylic painting from Etsy - will have off-white matte and black frame to match the other artwork in the room

We’ve already used the room every day since we finished it! And I’m thankful to finally have a space that’s my own little personal retreat from life. I love curling up on the love seat with my Bible and a cup of coffee or tea, sitting and chatting with a friend at the small, round table, or cuddling with Bryan while we watch a movie on the computer. It’s a truly multi-functional room, and we love it!

Enjoying the Journey,

Melissa

A Special Thanksgiving Week Basket and Recipe Ideas

Happy Thanksgiving! This week’s basket from Milk and Honey Organics was amazing and so festive for the holidays! They delivered on Tuesday instead of the normal Thursday schedule, due to the holiday. Instead of a meal plan this week, I’m sharing extra recipe ideas along with table-scape and fall decor tips for Thanksgiving Day…and what to do with the Leftovers!

This Week’s Basket includes: 

  • Microgreens from Chef’s Greenhouse
  • Green Beans
  • Cranberries
  • Sweet Yellow Onions
  • Garlic
  • Yukon Potatoes
  • Macintosh Apples
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Granny Smith Apples
  • Acorn Squash
  • Salad Mix (or Lettuce)
The first thing I did (after taking today’s picture using my Instagram app) was wash the salad mix and microgreens and toss them together with thinly sliced pears, apples, shallots, avocado, and carrots and topped with chopped nuts, feta cheese, dried cranberries and balsamic vinegar. If you’re not sure what to do with microgreens, mixing them with your salad greens is delicious!

Recipes Ideas for the Thanksgiving Week Basket:

For more LOTS of ideas on decorations and recipes, check out my “Thanksgiving” Pinterest Board.

And for Post-Turkey-Day, check out these great ideas:

by Mary Kate McDevitt

 Happy Thanksgiving! Bon Appetit! And Enjoy the Journey!

Sweet Paul’s Thanksgiving…And His New Winter Magazine!

If you love beautiful photographs of delicious food, fun crafts and home decorating ideas that will make you smile, then check out Sweet Paul! They also have recipes to go along with the beautiful food pics and some DIY gift wrap inspiration! Enjoy!

Recently he’s been putting out digital magazines of his collections. Last year, he put out a Holiday edition that featured ideas for Thanksgiving and Christmas! So, if it’s your turn to host this year’s Thanksgiving feast for your family, and you still don’t know what you’ll be serving, check out some of Sweet Paul’s ideas here. Here’s a glimpse:

And for the latest Winter edition of Sweet Paul's Magazine, check this out!

Doesn't French Toast Stars sound like a fabulous Christmas Morning breakfast?!

Check out the adorable tartan Scottie ornaments!

Don't forget to check out back issues of the magazine on the left nav bar when you're viewing any of the editions.

My favorite edition to date is the Special Kids edition from this past spring! This article is full of recipes for homemade organic baby food! So great! And the rest of the magazine has adorable crafts and kid-friendly recipes and party ideas!

I always look forward to the next edition of Sweet Paul Magazine! I hope you will too! Enjoy!

Whoever Thought “Epic” and “Oatmeal” Would Be in the Same Sentence?!

Every Tuesday night, we host a small group dinner and Bible discussion at our house for young adults. We usually provide a simple meal, like baked potatoes and salad, homemade pizza, custom omelets, etc. Well, this week, Bryan suggested we serve oatmeal.

At first, I thought this was a little strange. “We’re having company and you want to serve oatmeal?! OoooKay…” So I asked another girl in our group, Ashley, what she thought, and she said she loves oatmeal. So…Oatmeal Extravaganza it is!

I made a big batch of homemade oatmeal (4.5 c. oats, 4 c. water, 3.5 c. milk) and a small batch of quinoa (1 c. red quinoa, 1 c. water, 1 c. milk). Then we had the following options for toppings available:

  • fried apples (organic apples pan fried in butter with a bit of brown sugar)
  • brown sugar, white sugar, honey, maple syrup, and Stevia
  • cinnamon and nutmeg
  • Nutella
  • pecans, walnuts, flax seed
  • blueberries and raspberries
  • raisins
  • pomegranate arils

Then we also served eggs to order on the side (over easy, over medium, or scrambled) – fresh from the farmer’s market! And Ashley brought Immaculate Baking Co. Cinnamon Rolls, which are fabulous!

All in all, the oatmeal bar was EPIC! And it turned out to be a great dinner and discussion group!

Irish Pub Party

We host Book Exchange parties on a regular basis (kind of like White Elephant Gift Exchanges, but with books that you actually like instead of pranks). It started with everyone bringing a book and a snack to share. Then the food part evolved into a themed party. This last theme was by far my favorite to date: an Irish Pub Party! The food was fabulous! But then, how can you go wrong with an array of comfort food?!

Inspiration Behind the Irish Pub Party

Mini Corned Beef Sandwiches with Swiss, Sauerkraut or Slaw, Pickles, Horseradish, and an assortment of Mustards

Vegetable Tart by Rachel that featured an assortment of Potatoes, Parsnips, and Cheese, caramelized and baked to perfection! And it went well with the Loaded Baked Potato Soup by Ashley and Ben (not shown). Yum!

Toast with Pickled Beets and Soft Boiled Eggs, drizzled with a Dijon Dill Vinaigrette (recipe from the Irish cookbook) - apparently traditional, this was a surprising hit at the party.

Fresh Fruit brought by Daryl & Adrianne, used in combination with fresh veggies and bread for dipping in the Pumpkin Beer Cheese Fondue (not shown); the Fondue recipe can be found here.

Bread Pudding with Raisins by Catherine and Greg (perfect with a cup of coffee and some Irish Creamer) - I can't wait to add this recipe to my permanent file!

Are you inspired to host a themed party yet?! I highly recommend this theme. Remember, keep it simple and let your guests bring some of the food, so you can enjoy your guests during the evening and not have to spend the entire evening in the kitchen. So, do you have a favorite party theme?

The Party Dress Magazine and Blog

I stumbled upon an amazing blog that is affiliated with a magazine called The Party Dress. It has wonderful ideas for themed parties, like the Popcorn Party pictured below, and it’s filled with beautiful pictures and tantalizing recipes that would make Martha Stewart drool. Check it out!

Picture from ThePartyDress.net

We love hosting themed parties! One of our favorites is a Book Exchange party. Everyone brings a wrapped book that they love and want to share (no pranks allowed, unless you want to). Then we follow white elephant rules for the exchange. It’s so much fun!

In addition to the book exchange, we theme the food and ask everyone to bring something to share (which takes a lot of stress and cost off of you as the host). My friends Rachel & Dave have done roasting parties (bring something to roast on the fire; bonfire and coffee provided) and a flat bread party (bring something to top flat bread: sauces, dips, spreads, etc.). At our last book party, we asked everyone to bring a healthful hors d’oeuvre to share. And this next one is an Irish Pub Party theme!

What themed parties have you thrown (or attended) that were a big success with the guests?!

A Welcome Home Basket

Recently, we had some friends from church that had an out of town funeral and would be home for about half a week before heading out for a scheduled family vacation. The traveling was exhausting, not to mention emotional, and the last thing we wanted them to have to do between the funeral trip and getting ready for a much needed vacation was to have to go grocery shopping. So, we put together a quick basket for a few days of fast meals. They really enjoyed it! And it was a lot of fun putting it together. The fruit and vegetables were from our Milk & Honey Organics basket for that week.

What’s in the Box:

  • Loaf of English Muffin Bread (from Publix)
  • Florida’s Natural Orange Juice
  • Organic Milk
  • All-Natural Sliced Cheese
  • Mixed Baby Greens
  • Jar of Homemade Potato Corn Chowder (enough for 2)
  • All-Natural Sliced Turkey
  • Container of Homemade Guacamole
  • Homemade Cheese Quesadillas (wrapped in foil for a fast reheat)
  • Organic Onion
  • All-Natural Sour Cream
  • Organic Yogurt Cups
  • Organic Broccoli Head
  • Organic French Roast Whole Bean Coffee
  • 1 dozen Eggs
  • Organic Apples and Plums

Ideas for Meals:

  • Quesadillas + Guac + Sour Cream + Onion + Salad
  • Soup + Sandwich
  • Sandwich + Salad
  • Eggs + Toast + Juice
  • Yogurt + Fruit
  • Sandwich + Broccoli
  • Coffee + Milk (not a meal, but very important!)
I’m posting this as much for myself as for you all. I want to remember what we put in the basket, so we can do this again, maybe for a new mom, a sick friend or a special break for someone. It’s a great way to get your children involved in serving others too. Be creative and see how many variations you can create in one small box on a budget. This whole box cost us just less than $30.