Friday, January 10, 2014

January: Book Swap

A list of the books discussed at January's book fair/swap:

Beloved Bridegroom:  Finding Christ in Ancient Jewish Marriage & Family Customs
By Donna B. Nielsen
A Thousand Splendid Suns
By Khaled Hosseini
The Peace Giver
By James L. Ferrell
Young Men in Fire
Norman MaClean
The Poisonwood Bible
By Barbara Kingsolver
Bay and Her Boys
By Bay Buchanan
The Hiding Place
By Corrie Tenboom
The Mindbody Perscription
by John Sarno
Half Broke Horses
Jeannette Walls
Odds Are: You're Going To Be Exalted: Evidence The Plan of Salvation Works
by Alonzo Gaskill
Ana Karenina
by Leo Tolstoy
by Angie Sage

Hardwiring Happiness
Rick Hanson

TED Talks

The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman
by Louise Plummer
A Light in the Forest
by Conrad Richter

December: Christmas Party

We enjoyed a wonderful evening at the Landrith home, socializing, eating and decorating sugar cookies. We decorated the cookies using royal icing, a frosting which lends itself to fun designs. It also dries completely smooth and hard making it a great choice for cookies that you are packaging or mailing.

Royal Icing Recipe:
3/4 cup warm water
5 Tablespoons meringue powder
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2.25 pounds powdered sugar

Whisk the water and meringue powder for about 30 seconds, then add in the cream of tartar and vanilla. Add the powdered sugar and mix slowly for about 10 minutes. A paddle attachment in a stand mixer is going to be your best bet for this. Tint with your food coloring of choice. To prevent the icing from drying out, place a damp towel over the bowl until you are ready to use the icing. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Mix well before using.

November: Card Making

Amy Johnson taught us how to make beautiful handmade greeting cards.
Even better, we were all able to take home two of our own creation!

Elizabeth Moon also shared a great tip about her favorite place to buy ribbon, the Offray-Lion Ribbon Outlet.

857 Willow Cir
Hagerstown, MD 21740
(301) 739-6314

October: Indoor Plants and Flower Arranging

Sarah Bell gave us some great tips about how to incorporate fresh plants in our homes. There are many, many health benefits to live indoor plants and she had some great handouts with easy-to-care-for plants. Some of her favorites are Peace Lilies, Spider Plants and Boston Ferns.

Low Light Conditions:

With the exception of the Peace lily, all of these examples of low light plants commonly bear no flowers and are grown for their foliage.
• Cast Iron Plant
• Chinese Evergreen
• Corn Plant
• Striped Dracena
• Baby Rubber Plant
• Bird's Nest Fern
• Heartleaf Philodendron
• Swedish Ivy
• Peace Lily
• Snake Plant
• Maidenhair Fern
• Bamboo Palm

Indirect or Medium Light Conditions:

• Asparagus Fern
• Rex Begonia
• Cattleya Orchids
• Spider Plant
• African Violets
• Fuchsia
• Streptocarpus
• Pocketbook Plant
• Gloxinia
• Cyclamen
• Norfolk Island Pine
• Pothos
• Dwarf Schefflera

Direct Light Conditions:

• Cacti and other succulents (water-storing plants)
• Urn Plant
• Gardenia
• Geranium
• Amaryllis
• Christmas Cactus
• Chrysanthemum
• Lilies
• Kalanchoe
• Jerusalem Cherry
• Hibiscus
• Arabian Violet
• Croton
• Bird-of-Paradise
• Sago Palm

Tisha Ashwood then led a great flower-arranging class where we all got to try our hand at our own small arrangement.
Some of Tisha's tips:
- Make sure to strip an low-lying leaves from your stems. If they sit in water they will rot.
- Place the flowers so there is a visible "triangle" from each side of your arrangement
- Use Flower foam (found at craft supply stores or Walmart) and soak it in water beforehand
- Two favorite products: Chrysal Leafshine and Dynamite fertilizer

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dinner Party Recipes

We had some yummy food at our Dinner Party and wanted to share the recipes with everyone.

Chicken Salad (recipe courtesy of Kristy Councill)

2 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 cup (or more) finely chopped celery
1 cup (or more) seedless grapes, halved
1 cup chopped walnuts or 1 cup pecans 
1 small minced onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup Miracle Whip or other mayonnaise of choice.

Serve on croissants or in lettuce wraps.

Sesame Pasta Chicken Salad (recipe courtesy of Elizabeth Moon)

1 (16 ounce) package bow tie pasta
1/4 cup sesame seeds 
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup light soy sauce
1/3 cup rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/3 cup chopped green onion
3 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups shredded, cooked chicken breast meat
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 small bag spinach 

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add sesame seeds, and cook stirring frequently until lightly toasted. Remove from heat, and set aside. 

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente. Drain pasta, and rinse under cold water until cool. Transfer to a large bowl. 

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine vegetable oil, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, sesame seeds, ginger, and pepper. Shake well. 

Pour sesame dressing over pasta, and toss to coat evenly. Gently mix in chicken, parsley, spinach and green onions.

Panzanella Salad (recipe courtesy of Lauren Marsh)
1 teaspoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon butter
1 small French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2 bunch asparagus, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/3 red onion, finely diced
15 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
2 oz. goat cheese

For the vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1 teaspoon honey
3 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Bake bread cubes with salt and olive oil in a 375 degree oven until lightly brown and crisp, about 15-20 minutes, stirring often.

For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together. (This makes enough vinaigrette for two batches of this salad. I just refrigerate the leftover until I make the salad again.)

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, asparagus, red pepper, red onion, and basil. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Crumble goat cheese over everything and serve.


We also had a couple of recipes that were brought in as tips. Thanks for sharing!

Italian Delight (recipe courtesy of Angela Probst)
1 lb bag egg noodles
3 cans tomato soup
1 can corn
1 lb hamburger
1 cup cheese

Boil noodles according to package directions. In a separate pan, brown hamburger and drain. Then add tomato soup and corn. Mix in noodles when done and add cheese. Stir on low heat until hot and well-blended.

Fresh Fruit Dip (recipe courtesy of Lillian Atkinson)
8 oz. package cream cheese
7oz. jar marshmallow creme

Combine softened cream cheese and marshmallow cream; mix until well blended. Serve with fresh fruit and cookies as dippers.
Variation: Add 1 T orange juice and 1 t grated orange rind to mixture. May also be served as a sauce over fresh fruit or shortcake. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Tips, Hints and Favorite Things

The master list of tips, hints and favorite things from our September 11th activity is here! Thank you to everyone who came with ideas to add. Hope you learned something new!

  • When rinsing dishes, the coldest water helps to rinse things off best, unless you have something really greasy, then hot water will do the trick.
  • Water and white vinegar cleans everything!
  • Use white vinegar instead of Jet-dry in your dish washer.
  • Use white vinegar to get rid of hard water stains in your bathroom.
  • Dissolve a dish washing detergent tab in hot water for extra clean windows and cabinets.
  • Magic Erasers really are magic!
  • To clean your microwave: Place a wet a paper towel in the microwave for 5-8 secs.  It loosens the stuff on the microwave and allows you to wipe it clean.
  • Use Lysol toilet bowl cleaner in your shower for a great clean. (Don't use on metal!)   
Home and Family
  • Ants don't like chalk.
  • Make dinner after lunch so you don't have to fight with fussy kids during the 4-6pm cranky hour.
  • Apple cider vinegar, soap and water kill fruit flies. 
  • Take pictures of children's artwork and put it in scrapbooks instead of keeping big, bulky art projects.
  •  During off-seasons, use frozen strawberries and raspberries from Costco for making jam.
  • For insomnia, listen to brain wave music to help you fall asleep more quickly. (Binaural Beats)
  • Eat almonds to prevent heartburn.
  • The "wet brush" (on Amazon) really works for brushing wet hair without pulling.
  • Sephora has colored bobby pins.
  • Bring eggs to room temperature by covering them with hot water in a bowl for 5-10 minutes.
  • Store 1-2 onions in the refrigerator and replace them as they are used. Cutting a cold onion helps you avoid tears as the odor doesn't burn your eyes!
  • Check out for lots of great ideas.
  • Check out for restaurant quality supplies with bulk pricing. They ship to residential addresses as well as commercial ones.
  • Use a toilet paper roll cut in half to keep your wrapping paper from unrolling or tearing.
  • Dry erase crayons and coloring pages in page protectors are a great quiet activity at church and are easy to clean.
  • 1canoe2 for lovely letterpress. (
Caring for Roses
  • Always cut stems at a 45 degree angle under running water.
  • Choose flowers with tight, firm petals.
  • Leave the bottom petals on so your flower opens all the way when it blooms.
  • Don't let greenery touch the water. "Less is more."
  • Cut flowers at least 1/2 - 1 inch from bottom of the stem.
  • After cutting, let roses sit in room temperature water for a few hours, then put ice cubes in your vase to keep flowers extra fresh.
  • Use extra flower food (3 packets every time you change the water).
  • Costco roses are the best deal. (62 cents a stem.)

*The flowers from the picture above are tissue paper flowers that were used as decorations for our dinner.