HEalthy living


Leaving on a Jet Plane

Posted by Mary Jo Hudson on OP11er @ 11:14 PM

Leaving on a Jet Plane


Our little miss arrived in late July.  We have had the daily ‘grandparent fix’ via text message.  Pictures of our daughter passed out in fatigue on the couch, baby in her arms, in a milk coma.

Photographs of wet hair, post bath.  There are dozens of new outfits and several different sleep positions from surrender to side sleeping.


My jet leaves early in the morning for a few days ‘south’ to see our little granddaughter.  I’m not certain what to expect.  I’ve never been a grandmother before.  I hope it involves lots of holding and rocking.  She is too little to know or remember and I’m old enough to never forget.  The memories will linger long after I’ve returned.  


Life has been chaotic at our household.  If you read the paper, you know what has been happening in our life.  One thing leads to another.  An interview lead to an article.  The article lead to a host of phone calls and more baton passing to keep up with Matt’s daily schedule and cares.  We have had drop in company and more requests for interviews.  Political candidates have found their way into our living room and even Matt’s bedroom.


There are no complaints because all our efforts, whether near or far are for the higher good of someone in our family.  I can hardly wait to do things for my daughter so she can get more than an hour of sleep here and there.  Of course, taking a turn holding the baby will be high on the list, but I envision yard work, dusting, dish making, dish washing, clean up, laundry, and comforting my own little girl, now a mommy.  And, I have baby socks on one set of knitting needles and dish cloths on another for the girl who has her own apartment for the first time.


Back home, David will continue to field the requests for information and single handedly care for Matthew.  The laundry is completely done.  There are more meals in the freezer than he and his helper can possibly eat in the few hours I’ll be gone.  The garden has been closely harvested so they should not need to worry about anything.


So, what?  We are family.  That’s what we do.  We give. We move.  We encourage.  We share. We might laugh or cry together or apart. We roar for the needs of each one in the family.  We see needs and we meet them.  We work together.  We don’t stop.  We find new ways to communicate and express our love.


The real church is also a family.  We are forming new family units in just a few days.  Whether you are single, a couple, or somewhere in between, you are welcome in our family.  We will embrace you with open arms and open hearts.  We will empathize with you and show the Light of Christ in our words and ways. We will roar for your needs, pray for you, rejoice with you in times of good news and cry when there is pain.  We stick together because we are family.


Mark the date:  August 29 at the church.  Plug in.  Find your family.  You will be glad you did.



Foot and Mouth Disease

Posted by Mary Jo Hudson on OA7er @ 7:48 AM

Foot and Mouth Disease


Our two year old nephew recently contracted hand and mouth disease.  Who knows where he found it or where it found him?  I only know it comes with blisters and discomfort.  My children never experienced it and I was very little help on what to know, do or expect.


Yet, I find that Christians suffer from a similar disorder.  It isn’t intentional and it often comes from a big heart and a desire to comfort.  It’s called ‘foot in mouth’ disease.  We have probably all done it.  I could lead the pack of those who have said things I wish I could retract. My mind is full of embarrassing comments I’ve made, with great intentions but poor results.


Words spoken are like toothpaste squeezed out of a tube.  It isn’t easily returned to its proper place.  This is the time of year it is good to work with children on how to phrase comments in a positive fashion and even practice before returning to school.  


As we love one another, we must also learn to listen to the heart behind words.  I’ve often MEANT one thing but said something that could be understood entirely different.  


Having had medical tragedy in our family, here are a few of the things we heard:


  •  “Everything happens for a reason.”
  • “This is God’s plan.”
  • “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
  •  “At least it’s not cancer.”
  •  “Just think positive thoughts.”
  • “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.”
  • “At least you have other healthy children.”
  • “I know exactly how you feel.”

Somehow, the Lord protected our hearts from the words and we understood people were trying hard to express their care and love to us.

One of my dear friends had the best comment, one I have often repeated, ‘I don’t even know what to say.  There are no words.’

So, let me give you some additional suggestions when you don’t know what to say.  Here are some others:


  • “I care.”
  • “You’re so strong.”
  • “I have faith that you’re going to get through this.”
  • “I’m here for you.”
  • “My story that is similar shows I have a glimmer of what you may be going through.”

If you know someone who is going through a difficult time (tornado, flood, medical tragedy or diagnosis), hugs are always welcome and convey great love and compassion.  Shared tears do as well.  Assurances of prayer are kind if they are done.

Practical ways of love:  meals, yard work, repairs that your skill can offer, encouragement, a card indicating you are thinking of them.

These skills we need to hone and use regularly. Our family of Lifehouse is excellent at stepping up to the plate and hitting a home run.  Let’s remember that ‘neighboring’ can involve any and all of the above.  It’s the hands of Jesus at work in our body?





The Second Epiphany

Posted by Mary Jo Hudson on OP9er @ 9:18 PM

The Second Epiphany


A few weeks ago, I shared my view of the Father’s heart of love for his son and how it impacted me. But a few days ago, a second epiphany came into our household.  There were additional tears.  They haven’t really stopped.  Sometimes, they spring into my eyes before I realize what is happening.


We were old when we started our family.  We were older still when our youngest was born.  She is the only married child and the closest in proximity to our home. She and her husband live 6 hours from us so we only see them a couple of times a year.  They work at a church and she has another job, so they virtually work 6 days a week.  It’s hard for them to peel away.  


We had a surprise visit from them Thanksgiving weekend last fall.  They were driving home from Illinois and detoured through Iowa before arriving in Missouri to deliver a book.  The title was BROWN BEAR, BROWN BEAR, WHAT DO YOU SEE?  It was a nice addition to our children’s literature library but the inscription made it particularly special.


Inside the book, we read this: “Grandma and Grandpa, Please read this book to me when I come to visit. Love, Baby N”.  We jumped for joy.


Since that time, we have prayed nightly for Baby N.  We have prayed for the spirit of this babe to be receptive to the saving grace of Jesus. We have prayed for a safe and healthy pregnancy and delivery.  We have prayed for wisdom and direction for its parents.  We have covered all the bases for which the Holy Spirit lead us to pray.  


The due date came and went. The date of the induction was set in case the baby didn’t get in gear on the doctor’s schedule.  We prayed more.  We prayed for strength and courage for the parents and for the hospital staff. We prayed for safe travel.


Early Sunday morning, we had a call to announce the trip to the hospital. We prayed all night.  We prayed all morning.   Twelve hours later, we got another call announcing thirty minutes till they could ‘push’.    We prayed all afternoon.  My soul ached as I prayed.  I could do nothing BUT pray.   Hours passed with no announcement.  We agonized over what we didn’t know.  We continued to pray without ceasing.


Eventually, a brief text arrived, ‘Baby girl.  All is well.’ And, we fell to our knees, with tears streaming down our face in praise and thanksgiving for answered prayers.  I cannot stop being thankful.   Every time the miracle of this baby comes to my mind, tears well within my eyes.  


This isn’t about a baby, folks.  Though, we welcome our first grandchild with open arms and open hearts, keen to make memories, even if they have to be by snail mail and Face Time.  


The epiphany is the ‘crying out’ to God.  The epiphany is that this journey was exactly what God wants from us.  He wants us to cry out to Him, day and night; night and day. He wants us to cry out when we cannot see the outcome or even the future.  He wants us to trust the Holy Spirit to lead and direct.  He wants to be first in our lives and He wants us to trust Him, regardless.  Trust if the outcome isn’t what we had hoped; Trust if the outcome is everything we desire; Trust if we have to wait; Trust if the answer comes immediately.


Recently, I read in a daily devotional of the manner gratitude opens doors to the Father’s heart. And, this is part of the epiphany, too. Our gratitude in the midst of the situation (not necessarily FOR the situation, but in the middle of it) opens the door to the Father’s heart in ways we cannot imagine.  


It will be awhile before we get to hold this little miracle in our arms.  We have each written letters of introduction to her; letters her mom can put in a book and she can read as an adult.  They are letters of the importance of family ties but more importantly, that the family starts with Jesus.  They are letters to plant the seeds in her heart that she is loved from the moment of her conception; we have prayed for her spiritual and physical growth and development; for strength and grace, mercy and compassion for her parents as they rear her; and for her very own personal question to guide every decision in her life:  ‘Does this please God?’  


We have no greater gift to give her.  The closing sentence in my letter went like this:  ‘We can hardly wait to share with you all the ways God has sustained us throughout our lives.’  This is our call.  This is our mission.  This is what pleases God.  Especially, when it requires ‘calling to God.’


Her name is Clare Hudson Neyens.  She is perfect.  She is the image of her mother.  And, we love her already.


Posted by Mary Jo Hudson on OA10er @ 10:24 AM

Crunch, crunch


It’s a love-hate relationship in my refrigerator.  Celery is good for so many things:  it adds flavor and crunch to many a dish.  It’s a great snack because it holds peanut butter or cream cheese.  It’s health benefits surpass what we know. But, if it isn’t used quickly, it’s a beast to keep fresh forever.  


Maybe you have tried the many methods of keeping it fresh and crisp before it turns brown and soggy. There are paper towels in the plastic bag; specialty containers to keep the moisture at bay, or just leaving it in the cellophane sack in which it is stored at the store.  The last has become my favorite.  Once I’ve used some stems, I might even wrap a paper towel around it to absorb some of the extra moisture that leeches out.  It’s the moisture that promotes rot and decay.


But, today, I want to give you some of the nutritional benefits of the lonely celery plant.  It’s a powerhouse for goodies for the body. Primarily, it is high in moisture so it’s a great hydrator (and it spoils quickly unless stored in conditions that manage that moisture).


A, B, C, K are more than letters of the alphabet.  They are all nutrients in the mighty celery.  But, really the phytonutrients which are anti-inflammatory and antibiotic in nature and improve intracellular communication and boost immune systems are its real winning points. They help repair DNA from damage from toxins in our environment.  Think, anti-cancer and anti-heart disease.


Besides the hydrating benefits, it’s a known aid for weight loss.  The fiber keeps one full longer and often the desire to eat is quenched with more water intake.  These are both met with celery.  Add reduced inflammation which is great for anyone with arthritis or other inflammatory issues.  The fiber keeps things moving through the system.  If heart burn or acid reflux are issues, celery helps with that, too.


Other issues it can aid in alleviating include:  managing diabetic symptoms; cardiac health; relief from migraines and asthma; helps prevent cancer and improves immunity; reduces blood pressure and cholesterol; prevents urinary tract infections in women; and helps reduce swelling and pain around joints; improves eye health and prevents macular degeneration; has a soothing effect on the digestive system.


In the heat of the summer, include celery as a snack.  Make ants on a log for children.  Cut it up and add it to a casserole.  Cook it in a soup to be chilled before serving.  Eat it between meals, during meals, and before it spoils.  But, eat celery.  It’s cool, refreshing, and inexpensive.  



The Father

Posted by Mary Jo Hudson on OP7er @ 7:01 PM

The Father      


I walked into the kitchen. Immediately, I could tell something was not right.  Fragrant breakfast smells wafted through the air.  It should have been a pleasant scene.  Something was off.  


Lines etched the face of the fellow at the table.  Weary was his expression.  Tears fill his eyes.  His shoulders shook with sadness.  Droplets wet his face.  Words were unnecessary.  I already knew.  


“Is it a hard day, already?” I asked.  


He nodded in ascent. No words can comfort the grief of a father’s heart.  I didn’t try. I held him and let him weep.  We have had the conversation before.  


“I miss my son.  I cannot express how much I miss him.  He was so much like me.”  


I could not disagree. They were alike.  They touched one another in a unique way.  The ‘Bull Moose Club’, I called it.  They were always wrestling, talking, hugging, playing games. It was a father-son intimacy. There was a give and take; question and answer; push and pull; experiment and discipline.  It was unmatched in the yin and yang of a relationship.  


The day before I had seen a preview of this duress.  Our son had a ‘gang of guys’ with whom he sang in show choir, played golf, basketball, baseball, and football.  They continue to rally around him to urge his recovery, remind him of their everlasting friendship, and share the story of their lives.  They bring their girlfriends and babies to see him.  They have become adopted children to us.


They had come to celebrate the big ‘3-0’.  They have all passed the same land mark.  It was an opportunity for them to remind him their friendship had not waned.  We spoke from our heart to these men and their feminine companions.  It was a teary day for all of us.  We told them we were living our son’s life vicariously through them.  They were all he wanted to be:  entrepreneurs, dads, athletes, sons, brothers, uncles.  We were adopting each of them as sons and daughters because of their strong relationship with our son.


I was reflecting on how to encourage my husband.  Each of us grieves what we will never know in his/her own way.  We grieve for what Matthew must endure each day.  We weep for what might have been. As I tried to find words of comfort, the image that flooded into my mind’s eye dropped me to my knees.


This is the way my heavenly Father reacts when He longs for relationship and there is no response. He weeps.  His shoulders shudder.  Maybe he even looks weary.  For, He longs for the intimate relationship with His sons and daughters.  Our rejection, our ignoring or not listening saddens His heart.  Like one whose love is spurned, he suffers from our rejection.  He aches.  For His heart is to love and our response to Him, regardless of our emotion, does not dilute His love.


He aches for having the fine gifts He desires to give, rejected.  He sorrows that we thumb our nose at the test to make us stronger.  He bristles as our eyes roll in rebellion because we want to do things our way.  He is sad because of our arrogance and lack of humility.


His desire is for us to run into his open arms.  He wants us to wrestle mentally and physically with difficult questions and situations.  He wants to accompany us on the journey, giving us advice to help; encouragement to keep going; strength to finish the race.  He desires hearts and minds willing to learn and be nurtured in kindness and gentleness.  He wants us to depend upon Him for wisdom and courage.


Oh, that I would  know how my response would lightened the heart of my Father.  The desire of my heart is to run to Him in joy and in sadness; to share with Him my glee or disappointments.  To feel His comfort and hear His voice soothe my fears.


What a visual my husband has given me for the great, undying, deep, abiding love of a father for his child.  Never do I want to disappoint my heavenly Father or cause Him this kind of pain.



Summer Is In Full Swing

Posted by Mary Jo Hudson on OA10er @ 10:44 AM

Summer is in Full Swing


Maybe I’ve rung this bell before:  school is out and the herd is restless!  If you are a parent, you have already been dealing with the new ‘summer schedule’.  Your job forces you to alter the schedule, keep everyone happy, well fed and hydrated. 


Victoria Prooday recently wrote an article on what children need in their lives to become healthy individuals.  Many times, whether from cultural norms, exhaustion, or laziness, we parents become the enemies of ourselves and our children.  Rather than focus on all the things parents do wrong, I want to share with you her suggestions for how to best meet the needs of your children.


There are no guarantees this will be easier or will make life smoother.  It is a list of what children need for normal, healthy growth and development.  


“If we want our children to grow into happy and healthy individuals, we have to wake up and go back to the basics. It is still possible! I know this because hundreds of my clients see positive changes in their kids’ emotional state within weeks (and in some cases, even days) of implementing these recommendations:

  1.  Set limits and remember that you are your child’s PARENT, not a friend. Offer kids well-balanced lifestyle filled with what kids NEED, not just what they WANT. Don’t be afraid to say “No!” to your kids if what they want is not what they need.
  •       Provide nutritious food and limits snacks.
  •       Spend one hour a day in green space: biking, hiking, fishing, watching birds/insects
  •       Have a daily technology-free family dinner.
  •       Play one board game a day. (List of family games)
  •       Involve your child in one chore a day (folding laundry, tidying up toys, hanging clothes, unpacking groceries, setting the table etc)
  •       Implement consistent sleep routine to ensure that your child gets lots of sleep in a technology-free bedroom

2. Teach responsibility and independence. Don’t over-protect them from small failures. It trains them the skills needed to overcome greater life’s challenges:

  •       Don’t pack your child’s backpack, don’t carry her backpack, don’t bring to school his forgotten lunch box/agenda, and don’t peel a banana for a 5-year-old child. Teach them the skills rather than do it for them.

3. Teach delayed gratification and provide opportunities for “boredom” as boredom is the time when creativity awakens:

  •       Don’t feel responsible for being your child’s entertainment crew.
  •       Do not use technology as a cure for boredom.
  •       Avoid using technology during meals, in cars, restaurants, malls. Use these moments as opportunities to train their brains to function under “boredom”
  •       Help them create a “boredom first aid kit” with activity ideas for “I am bored” times.

 4. Be emotionally available to connect with kids and teach them self-regulation and social skills:

  •       Turn off your phones until kids are in bed to avoid digital distraction.
  •       Become your child’s emotional coach. Teach them to recognize and deal with frustration and anger.
  •       Teach greeting, turn taking, sharing, empathy, table manners, conversation skills,
  •       Connect emotionally – Smile, hug, kiss, tickle, read, dance, jump, or crawl with your child.

We must make changes in our kids’ lives before this entire generation of children will be medicated! It is not too late yet, but soon it will be…”

**This story was written by Victoria Prooday, a registered Occupational Therapist, Psychotherapist, founder and clinical director of a multidisciplinary clinic for children and parents. It originally appeared on her website

I’ve included her website (above) so you can read the entire article if you would like.  

As parents, we made our fair share of mistakes (it’s how we learned) but we also did some things right.  We also didn’t have much of the technology available today to use, limit, or navigate.  Our children (as adults) have thanked us for limiting the video games, electronics, etc. They used to complain that we lived in ‘the dark ages’.  Now, we observe how they view life and are grateful we used some of the techniques mentioned in this article.  

Each family will make decisions that work in its situation.  Each will be different.  Use what works for you!  And enjoy the summer because the bells for school to start will be ringing before we know it.





Something I Miss

Posted by Mary Jo Hudson on OP5er @ 5:42 PM

Something I miss


My dad’s baby sister lives near me.  We might go for months without a call or chat.  I try to remember her birthday and Mother’s day since one of her sons lives far away and the other is deceased.  


Recently, though, we have had a number of calls about family members who are ill or struggling with something.  It makes me remember the days of old and what I miss; of what I miss for myself and what I miss that my children never really knew.


In the old days of my youth, it was common for families to stay geographically close.  I lived on the same farm as my grand parents for the first 3 years of my life.  It was common for each farm to host 2 houses.  Sometimes, the newest off spring to be married inhabited the house and other times, perhaps the hired hand lived there.  


We always lived 30 minutes or so from my grandparents.  They were as close to me as my parents.  It was very common for any grandchild to overnight with a grandparent.  It was quite a treat when there were cousins there, too.


When new babies were about to arrive, we went to stay with aunts and uncles while my mother went to the hospital.  I don’t know who decided that rhyming names were fun, but I’m the middle cousin of the 13 and a whole string of the ones just older than I have names that rhyme: Larry, Gary, Sheri, Jerry, Mary Jo…The nick names were equally as challenging:  Spud, Mud, and Jud.  My poor grandmother had her tongue tied trying to get to my name!


The house my grandparents lived in wasn’t very large.  We ate in shifts at holiday meals.  The men ate at the dining room table; the grand children at card tables in the living room.  The women ate in the second shift just before dishes were done.


When my eldest cousin married a career Air Force pilot, the generational geographic closeness changed. She and her family lived around the world and became a kind of celebrity because of the tales they had to tell of shoes that grew mold overnight in Okinawa; or the chimney sweeps of London; or the way her boys laughed at the Japanese cartoons, not understanding one word of the cartoon.  She started the travel bug that several of us continued to hone.


All in all, the generations that followed had vaster fields to explore.  Technology made it possible for us to live hours away and still see one another; communicate by phone instead of walking across the driveway.


I miss the closeness of my cousins.  I miss that my children don’t have the same sense of generations being close.  It changes the dynamics of our lives.  


As I was contemplating all the changes I’ve seen and what I miss, it occurred to me that many in our church family are in the same boat.  And, so the church becomes the family.  Our friends take the place of the cousins and aunts and uncles who are weekend game playing companions and best friends.  


The work on our facility also reminds me of how family members worked together to accomplish one large goal.  Think of the farmers who pitch in to help one another harvest if there is a medical emergency or tragedy.  Our idea of ‘vacation’ was a project on the farm.  Since my mother’s birthday was near Labor Day, our tradition was to go home and complete whatever project she chose to accomplish that year.    We made memories; we laughed and sometimes had injuries; we accomplished something; we served the one who always served the rest of the family.


We are family.  We are diverse.  We love and laugh together through thick and thin; through building projects; and even as we wait for others to give us permission to occupy the land.   Let’s cherish the memories of these days.







Posted by Mary Jo Hudson on OA10er @ 10:42 AM



Recently, our daughter and son in law came to visit.  It was a busy weekend with other family members in town.  There were nuclear family members as well as extended family. There were many activities, including a baby shower.


Getting ready for company took extra time, being sure all the rooms were 5 star standard.  There was extra food to prepare so we could enjoy the company when they arrived and not spend lots of time cooking.  I was ready and prepared to spend time with my children, relatives, and just relax.


I had an agenda. There was a plan and purpose to it. It involved relating to folks I don’t see often.  I couldn’t wait.


The time came and went and honestly, it was a fabulous weekend.  We had fun, laughter, played games, enjoyed one another’s company.  We made memories.  It was remarkable.


In the end, though, I felt a twinge of emptiness.  I asked God to give me insight on why I my emotional cup wasn’t as full as I anticipated.


His answer was all about Him.  


Here is the deal:  I put a lot of effort into preparing for the weekend.  The return on my investment wasn’t entirely what I had hoped it would be.


The Lord sacrificed His only Son for us.  His hope is that we will fall down and worship; live every moment for Jesus. Instead, it’s easy for us to attend church on Sunday; work hard on the new building site; do all the right Christian things.  It makes us feel as if we are doing the right thing.  


What He wants is dedicated, individual time with us.  He wants a rich relationship with us.  He wants us to spend time not just in the crowd of Christians; not just doing all the right things for Him.  He wants time alone.  He wants to share His heart with us.  He wants us to listen and grow from what He has to share.


How many times do I have to be disappointed in a situation and then realize, this is how the Lord feels when I fail to spend uninterrupted  time with Him because I’m distracted?  This is how He feels in our relationship when I’m not focused on Him. 


 I’m a slow learner in some aspects of my life.  I have to be reminded.  It’s easy to be distracted by the people and things around me.  It’s easy to be distracted by the good and right things. The distraction is a tool of the enemy to make me less effective in God’s kingdom. 


I don’t know if you experience this or not.  Maybe I’m the only one.  I suspect there are others of you who sit down to read the Word and let your eyes pass over each word while your mind is really thinking about the ‘to do’ list.  Or you kneel in prayer and your mind wanders.  Suddenly, the realization hits that you are not praying but lost in day dreaming.


It pulls me up short when these things happen.  I have to put the brakes on my tendency to ‘do’ and become intentional in ‘being’. I’ve written before about my tendency to be Martha instead of Mary.  It rears its head regularly enough in my life that I know God wants me to make changes.


Join me in being intentionally focused on the Face of the Living God who wants to meet individually with us in our prayer closet or as we focus on what the Word is saying to us.

The Final Days

Posted by Mary Jo Hudson on OP10er @ 10:46 PM

Final Days


We are counting down. Weeks to this date and now weeks till an important event.  We don’t know when, exactly.  We know approximately:  the date we become grandparents.  


Our youngest made a trip home last fall with a book holding this inscription:  Dear G'pa and G'ma, Please read this to me when I come to visit. Baby N.  We have been excited since.


We don’t see them often. They live the closest of our three out of state children, but it is 6 hours and travel isn’t easy either direction. They are busy with normal lives working with the church youth program and juggling jobs and sometimes, school. From our end of the journey, we can travel only one parent at a time.


So, in preparation for what I hope will be a trip south and east of here sometime this summer, I’ve been preparing.  There have been knitting projects galore.  Today, I want to talk about another kind of preparation.

 My husband doesn’t cook.  In fact, I’ve advised my children to buy stock in Lean Cuisine, gluten free, frozen dinners if I die.  Because a lot will be purchased.  It isn’t that he CANNOT cook as much as he chooses NOT to cook.


When I’m absent, some other family member comes to stay to help him with the jobs requiring two people with Matthew.  Usually the person who comes to stay is the one who isn’t keen on kitchen duty either. 


So, I prepare food in advance.  I noticed a list on the side of my refrigerator one afternoon.  It lists what has been  prepared in advance and which freezer the items can be found. Enchiladas, mushroom covered minute steak, chili, beef stew, lasagna, etc.  I’ll move them to one area of the freezer before I leave.  All they will need to do is look at the list and decide what they want to eat the next day, pull it out of the freezer and defrost it overnight in the refrigerator and then crock pot or microwave or bake the day they want to eat it.  I’ll try to make a plethora of salads the day before I depart, too.  And, there is always ice cream for dessert.


It’s been an easy thing to do.  With a keen eye on the future, I’ve been making full (rather than half) recipes recently.  I bake half for our dinner and freeze the other portion for future use.  It takes me less time to make a full recipe than to divide the ingredients in half as I plug through the recipe.


It's a nice thing to do if you are cooking for more than one.  There are lots of ‘make ahead’ recipes, cookbooks, etc. on the market and on line.  Not all recipes freeze well, so that is something to keep in mind.  Sometimes, just freezing a portion of a recipe makes throwing the final thing together a breeze.  


During summer time, when we are all busy with games, pool, walks, work in the yard and garden, having food made in advance is a great benefit.  


As for me and my house, we are just looking forward to the steep learning curve of grandparenting.

Bits and pieces

Posted by Mary Jo Hudson on OP7er @ 7:15 PM

Bits and Pieces


This is a busy week at our house.  There is a birthday that ends in zero.  It’s always a cause for celebration.  Especially this one, because death has come knocking at the door more than once.  We celebrate life every day but especially on birthdays. 


Then, there are guests arriving.  I feel like a hospitality flood is coming because two by two we have guests arriving nearly every day of the week.  I love entertaining.  It gives me opportunity to plan and prepare and be sure I’m on the top of my housekeeping agenda.  (Some days, I need motivation to keep the house pristine during gardening season.)


Every grey hair on my head seems to slow me down a little more.  I’ve learned to attack projects a smaller bite at a time.  I planted my garden last week.  It took me 3 days this year to get it all done and there are things that are still in the greenhouse because I wait till mid-May to plant some species.  I used to do it in one frenzied afternoon.  Doing bite sized pieces has helped me enjoy the process a little more and it means I can sleep at night and walk the next day.


The rhubarb has been teasing us for some time.  I’ve been measuring the length of the leaves each time I walk by, watching and waiting to see if it is time to test new rhubarb recipes.  Sunday, it seemed close to 10” which is the recommended length to cut. I harvested as many stems as seemed appropriate.  


In the house, I washed and cleaned the leaves and cut it up.  I measured what I would need for the new strawberry rhubarb cheese cake recipe I’d saved.  I had taken more than the recipe needed, so I quickly put the remainder in a freezer container.  This is an easy method of saving for the future.  The cheesecake recipe was more decadent the second day than the first. It will be a ‘make again’, I’m sure. I’ll share my recipe if you are interested and request it.


One thing I learned when all the children were growing up in our home was that menu planning was fine and good but what really helped keep the tummies full and everyone happy was having a variety of sides to fill out the skeleton of a menu I made.  My menu usually consisted of an entrée, side, vegetable.  So, making 2-3 salads on the weekend would add rotation and variety through the week with little to no additional effort. 


In preparation for our impending hospitality needs, I embarked on salad making.  I’m fortunate that my husband loves vegetable salads. He’s not keen on tossed salads but he loves coleslaw, tomatoes with onion, pepper, and cucumbers; shoepeg salad, etc.  In fact, I’m sometimes fortunate if I can get a serving because he will snack on raw vegetable salads.


After the snap pea, radish and cucumber salad, I thought I’d make some coleslaw.  It’s a colorful, economic salad to make.  The difficulty is that one of us likes the creamy dressing while the other prefers sweet and sour dressing.  Often, I rotate:  one time I make one dressing and the next round, I switch it up.  It keeps us both happy.


To accommodate both palates and offer whatever our guests would prefer, I pulled out my oversized food processor.  I sliced each cabbage in half, dug out my two extra-large mixing bowls and set about slicing and dicing.  By dividing the ingredients in half, I could process each thing in equal portions and contribute  each vegetable to the appropriate bowl as it was processed.  There was no need to clean my equipment between vegetables because it all landed in one bowl or the other anyway. 


The dressings are a quick fix to make, requiring only a small pan to cook the sweet and sour dressing and an equally small bowl to mix the creamy dressing.  The new dilemma will be containers to store such vast quantities of coleslaw in the refrigerator.


The moral of the story is to work smarter rather than harder.  I’m still working on it, decades from when I started.  I’m still learning new ways to be efficient and have more time to enjoy my guests and the celebrations of life without stressing over the details. Working ahead helps me do that. 


In the glory days of spring, I want as much time outside as I can inhale to exercise my muscles and invigorate my lungs.  I hope you can also work ahead so you can bask in the glory of the season.

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