Celebrating the art of making a home
  • Inspiration Wall
  • Who’s Martha?
  • Who are we?
  • Archives
  • Categories
  • Archive for October, 2009

    Take a chance on cheese

    Friday, October 30th, 2009

    OK, the title of the post is a little groan worthy. But you know you love Abba. And  Erasure. (You really should go check out both videos, it will make your day a little gigglier.)


    Yesterday I hosted book club at my home, and as with any good gathering, we had to have food. We read To Kill A Mockingbird, and as it is full of mentions of food, we decided to have refreshments that were mentioned in the book. If you’ve read the book (and if you haven’t, go read it!), you’ll remember the scene toward the end where Scout is dressed as a ham for a play.  So of course, we had to have something with ham, in honor of Scout. :)

    I had something roughly in mind, but when I came across this recipe, I decided to go for it, despite the fact that I don’t like Dijon mustard and am somewhat afraid of Gruyere cheese.




    So good.

    This was great as a savory refreshment (our other offering was angel food cake with strawberries- definitely on the sweet side), but it would be absolutely divine as a rainy day lunch.

    Or dinner.

    Or both.

    I might make it again tomorrow.

    So without any further ado, and with all credit to Ina Garten, the lovely Barefoot Contessa herself, the recipe.

    Wait- a little further ado. I really do suggest sticking to the recipe, just to try it. Don’t just substitute Cheddar like I always do. Go with the Dijon. Splurge a little. It’s so worth it.

    Oh, and I’ll also mention, the recipe says this makes 6 servings.  Just so you know.  If you were just making it for yourself, I’d only make 1/2, it doesn’t keep well.



    • 1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted (recommended: Pepperidge Farm)
    • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
    • 1/4 pound black forest ham, sliced
    • 1/2 pound Swiss Gruyere cheese, sliced
    • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash


    Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan.

    Lay 1 sheet of puff pastry on a floured board and carefully roll it out to 10 by 12 inches. Place it on a sheet pan and brush the center with the mustard, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge. Place a layer first of ham and then cheese, also leaving a 1-inch border. Brush the border with the egg wash.

    Place the second sheet of puff pastry on the floured board and roll it out to 10 by 12inches. Place the second sheet on top of the filled pastry, lining up the edges. Cut the edges straight with a small, sharp knife and press together lightly. Brush the top with egg wash and cut a few slits in the top to allow steam to escape.

    Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes and serve hot or warm.

    NOTE: I baked it for 25 minutes at 400 degrees (I saw it suggested multiple times in the comments) and it came out perfectly. Your oven may vary.

    Walk like an Egyptian

    Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

    Today for our preschool adventure day we braved the local Rosicrucian museum. I say braved because we went with a passel of 3 year olds, and there were mummies involved. But for the most part the mummies went right over the kids’ heads and hopefully there won’t be any nightmares tonight.

    The reason I’m posting, though, is because of a section of the museum dedicated to home life in Ancient Egypt.  And I quote:

    Women ran the household and its industries, bore and raised children, and saw to the spiritual activities that took place in the home. Egyptians cherished their children, and much of the household ritual and magic was related to procreation. The women of ancient Egypt appreciated beauty, not only in temples and palaces, but also in the objects of everyday use.

    I’ve always had a affinity for ancient Egypt, and reading this today, I felt a deep connection to these women who lived so long ago, but who worked at the same things we do, worried about the same things (in general), and loved the same things.

    In one of the display cases they had a series of carved figures that were made to be buried with a woman when she died, portraying her different roles throughout her life. I love that thought. We all do so much, and are so many things to so many different people; sometimes we need to sit back and realize just how much we do. Preferably before we’re dead. :)

    So that’s your challenge for the day. What roles do you fill in your life? Which do you cherish? Which do you dread?  Why? Which would you carve into little figures to be buried with you?

    Housework as Meditation

    Monday, October 26th, 2009

    I’ve been thinking this morning about Maryanne‘s Amish quotes, especially the one I’m “sitting with” today…

    A task takes as long as it takes.

    I have a concussion, and it is hard for me to focus or do much of anything.  My house is messy and I have a splitting headache.  I decided, in the Amish proverb spirit, to do just one task, and take as many breaks as necessary.  I chose laundry.  Laundry is good because for long stretches, the machine does all the heavy lifting :)

    As I slowly checked pockets and tried to remember which settings to have the buttons on, I was totally focused on that.  It almost felt like a Silent Saturday; I could hear Joey snoring, the fan in the living room, the cats scratching in the litter box.  Even my headache abated and I felt at peace.

    I’m grateful for that experience today.

    Need a thought?

    Saturday, October 24th, 2009

    Here’s some Amish proverbs to consider, ponder, whathaveyou. (All of the following are taken from Amish Peace by Suzanne Woods Fisher.) Pick one at random, pick your favorite, whatever you wish, but do yourself a favor and take a moment out of your day to think about something purely for yourself. If you’d like, tell us about your thoughts in the comments.

    You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage him.

    Before we can pray “Thy Kingdom come”, we must pray “My kingdom go”.

    A man is rich in proportion to the things he can afford to leave alone.

    Jumping for joy is good exercise.

    Beware the man who knows the answer before he understands the question.

    A task takes as long as it takes.

    It isn’t the mountains ahead that wear you out, it’s the grain of sand in your shoe.

    Do unto others as if you were the other.

    Blessed are they who have nothing to day, and who cannot be persuaded to say it.

    Good deeds have echoes.

    Reflections on Time

    Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

    I’m currently reading Amish Peace: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World by Suzanne Woods Fisher, a fantastic book I HIGHLY recommend.  It’s a great glimpse into the Amish way of life, and Fisher (who is not Amish) does an insightful  job of asking thought provoking questions that help the reader consider what can be learned from Amish beliefs.

    I read this yesterday and it was like a kick in the head, so I thought I’d share.

    “One Amish man joked that if her were meant to plow at night, God would have put a headlight on a horse. The Amish respect natural limitations: sunlight and seasons, hunger and fatigue. Do you accept those limitations, or do you try to override them? Do you ever feel as if you are expecting too much from yourself?

    How many times in a day do you feel rushed? How many times in a day do you feel frustrated? Are those moments always related to each other? Building a margin of error into your schedule – for unexpected things like traffic jams – can be a simple and effective way to add peace to your life.”  p 86 of Amish Peace

    Share your thoughts in the comments if you like, and if you need something to read, check out this book. The chapters are really short, so it’s easy to pick up and put down, and I’m really learning a lot from it — about the Amish, and about myself.


    Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

    A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness.–definition of “Love” from the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition

    Sometimes people say that I love you is an overused expression.  I think the quality of ineffability is why we look for other ways to “say” that we love someone.  Maryanne mentioned in a recent post that giving gifts is one of her main love languages (what are the others Maryanne?).  A coworker is into big romantic gestures, like rose petals scattered throughout the house and candles lit on every surface.

    I express love by taking care of someone, and I “hear” love that way too.

    I came home today to this…


    and this…


    An empty sink and folded laundry?  Nothing says “I love you” to me more than that :)

    How do you express love to the people in your home and life?  How do you “hear” that love from them?


    Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

    I love presents. I love getting them, I love giving them. It’s one of my primary love languages, just ask that guy who wrote the Five Love Languages book.  :)

    It’s my sister’s birthday tomorrow, and while I had one thing in mind when I went to the store for her present, I ended up coming home with a huge bag full of supplies and worked for most of the day on what has now become her present. And I’m so glad, because the first idea just wasn’t very personal — while she would have appreciated it (she’s very gracious that way), it wouldn’t have been that thing that made her go “ooooh!”. And I like my presents to have that “ooooh” factor.

    We’re coming upon the season of giving, and I’m already plotting out who is getting what, what I’m making, what I’m buying…

    So I’m wondering — what giving are you getting up to this holiday season? Are you making your presents? Buying? Giving time rather than potential clutter? Are you cutting back, or finding ways to stretch your gifts?  Any great gift ideas that you want to share with the rest of us?


    Saturday, October 17th, 2009

    I thought we could all use a little encouragement.  This is from the Vespers Office a few days ago…

    I now place the work of the day into Your hands, trusting that You will redeem my mistakes, and transform my accomplishments into works of praise.

    Calling in sick

    Friday, October 16th, 2009

    When I was little and got sick, (which I don’t remember happening often), I got to lay in bed and read and sleep all day. My momma would check on me, making sure I had everything I needed.

    For the last two days I have been seriously under the weather. Exhausted, with an overall feeling of bleh. And while I’d like to just stay in bed all day and read, I have two little ones who would be mighty confused by that.  Not to mention that one of them has just started climbing, and if I’m not watching she’ll end up on top of the table for the 50th time today.  I’d put them in front of the TV all day, but I don’t want to use that up too soon;, and besides, A just pushed the eject button and took out the fish DVD I had playing for her, so now she has to deal with no show.

    OK, I rescind that, I just put in a Fraggle Rock DVD I found at Target for $5. We’ll see how well it goes over.

    I got myself some yummy soup for lunch, some vitamins, and some magazines to distract myself. I’m looking forward to possibly getting a nap when it’s naptime for the girls, but I’m really not counting on it.

    What do you do to take care of yourself when you’re sick and still have responsibilities to take care of? How do you take care of all of the cooking/ laundry/ household that has to keep happening? And am I the only one who is an utter beast when I don’t feel good? Please tell me I’m not.

    Home Altar

    Tuesday, October 13th, 2009


    I have always had an altar in my home, even as a little girl.  Something about marking off a space as sacred appealed to a basic need in me.  I was reading at this website tonight, and was struck by this quote from the FAQ page:

    Many people are surprised when they realize that they may already have one or more altar-like spaces at home or work, in the garden or elsewhere. Think, for instance, of the fireplace mantle where one places family photos or awards or seasonal items such as fall harvest, holiday boughs and candles or spring flowers. Or consider the small cluster of family pictures and small mementos on the desks in many workplaces.  Some authors have suggested that these could be called unconscious, incipient or unintentional altars.

    What are your altars, intentional or unconscious?  How do they help make your home a temple?