Category Archives: hospitality

Help Yourself Hospitality–Hot Drinks

I come from a big family.

My husband comes from a big family.

We had a big family.

When family isn’t around and we’re lonely,
we invite friends over to fill up the house.

In other words,
there can be many people in my house at any given time.

We love having people around,
and enjoy making them feel at home enough to

Help Themselves.

During the winter holidays,
hot drinks are made available on my kitchen counter,
ready for expected and unexpected company.

I like drop-in kinda’ company.
It’s a Midwest thing we love.
It says they like the real me enough to be
willing to throw things off the couch to sit down.

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I start with jars of mini-marshmallows and red-hots.

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I add festive tubs of hot chocolate and hot cider mixes.

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I add one pretty hot pot.

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Mixed all together on a metal tray,
and you have a

Help Yourself Hospitality Center for Hot Drinks.

We normally don’t drink hot chocolate and apple cider
or give my kids marshmallows to eat,
but at the holidays,
there are some rules that are meant to be broken.

Of course, the coffee pot is always on.

Regular coffee is brewed until supper, then we switch to decaff.

The evening meal is called supper if you are from farm country,
because lunch is called dinner,
and lunch is the meal you bring to the farmers in the fields
between dinner and supper.
Lunch can also be a snack between breakfast and lunch,
if ya’ got up really early to work in the fields.

So, if you followed that little rabbit trail,
the order of meals for Midwest farmers goes
breakfast, lunch, dinner, lunch, supper.
Got it?

(See, another trick in hospitality. 
If you invite someone for dinner,
you better know where they’re from.
We had a friend who didn’t know this
and invited someone to dinner.
She was surprised when they showed up at noon.)

Anyhoo…

My good ol’ Norwegian relatives drink a lot of black coffee.

Nothing is added to the coffee,
no milk and no sugar,
we drink it black,
because they dunk their cookies in it.
That’s where the sugar comes from.

My Mom calls cookies and coffee,
"A Norwegian Breakfast."

I love being Norwegian.

The generations that have lived through the Depression make
their coffee so weak, you can see the bottom of the cup through the coffee.

My brothers call this "Lutheran Church Basement Coffee."

Norwegians who know the Depression is over
make their coffee strong.

My brothers says it will grow hair on their chest.

Depending on who made the coffee in the morning,
I either add a little hot water to dilute
or  drink a few extra cups to wake up.

In the mornings,
I feel no pressure to get up and rush out to the kitchen,
because I have established the ability for my guests to

Help Yourself.

I don’t have to wake up,
until I smell the coffee.

Help Yourself Hospitality–Breakfast

A lot of women get up and make delicious breakfasts for their company.

I get up.

Years of living with cancer has changed my view on life
and my definition of hospitality.
I’ve learned to accept my limitations.

If my guests haven’t stayed overnight in my home before,
I casually let them know that if I haven’t slept well,
I won’t be up early.
(Sometimes, I need to sleep until 8 or 9am)

They’re shown where everything is in the kitchen,
the bathroom and the linen closet,
so if I can’t meet their needs,
they can

Help Themselves.

Mornings come too quickly.

Especially during the holidays.

Especially if you’ve been up talking with relatives,
drinking decaf,
watching holiday movies,
wrapping presents,
or reading a good book.

It’s hard to be up-and-at-’em early in the morning,
with a house full of early-rising old,
I mean experienced, people.

I like to have things out and ready, so if I’m not out in the kitchen,
my guests feel comfortable

Helping Themselves.

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I start with one jar of regular rolled oats, for those healthy on-a-diet kinda’ guests.

Add one jar of Trader Joe’s low-fat vanilla and almond granola.

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Add one tub of instant oatmeal packets of various flavors.

I try to find ones that are low in sugar,
but it can be a challenge.

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Take jars from your craft room, wash, and fill in with healthy mix-ins for the cereals.

(L to R) I have dried cranberries, dried apricots, raisins and slivered almonds.

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Display on a tray with a doily and you’re almost ready for breakfast.

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These three jars are always on my counter filled with cold cereal.

I was tired of having so many opened boxes in the pantry,
spilling and getting stale,
so this was a pleasing solution for all of us.

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This is another standard on my kitchen counter.

In our early years of marriage,
someone wisely advised it’s cheaper to eat healthy,
than to pay for a doctor.

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The bread basket is another company staple.

I fill it with good breads, bagels and English muffins,
so my company has a lot of options for

Helping Themselves

in the morning.

Cancer has taken much from me,
but I won’t allow it to take hospitality.

I’m healthier and stronger today
and have learned to PACE not PUSH.

But, there are three meals in a day,
I know I can’t give them each100%,
so I choose where to put my energy.

I help myself
by allowing my guests to

Help Themselves to Breakfast.

Who Cut the Cheese?

Growing up with three brothers,
disgusting body noises and smells were the bane
of my daily existence.
PULL MY FINGER
was their motto.
When
WHO CUT THE CHEESE
came into vogue,
they punctuated this new battle cry with rude armpit noises.
It was a harsh childhood, I tell ya’.
My Gramma Geneva
used the slang of her times to join  in our giggles and slang.
When somebody emitted a rude noise from the lower region
of their body, especially if it was accompanied by
a milk-curdling odor,
Gramma would holler out with (wit) a thick (tick) Norwegian (Norvegian) accent,
WHO CUT THE MUSTARD?
(Hoo cut du musTURD)
Then, she’d smile with the same smirk my brothers used
when they’d annihilated the air purity with a SBD.
(For those of you not privileged enough to grow up with
three flatulenting brothers, it means
SILENT BUT DEADLY.)
Notice how I’m not using the actual word you’re thinking of?
Yea, when my husband was teaching in a private Christian
school he was reprimanded by the trying-not-to-laugh principal
for using a bad word  in the classroom.
Apparently, a parent had called in because in some homes
FART
is a naughty word.
I wonder if they think a FART by any other name
would smell sweeter?
In case you are one who agrees with that philosophy,
I’ll elevate my diction and avoid further mention
of that dreadful word.

Back to Gramma’s mustard.
I couldn’t begin to imagine where her saying came from,
until I heard this song as an older teenager.

I grew up, married and was blessed with six cheese-cutting kids of my own.
Now, I’m the one cutting the cheese.
Literally.

During the holidays there is a constant ebb and flow of activities,
 festivities, responsibilities and company.
Sometimes, coming up with a last minute meal or snack can be challenging.
A few years ago I discovered having cheese cut up and ready
makes sandwiches and cracker trays easy to create.

The cheese is layered with waxed paper and the bag labeled.
My other favorite flavors to keep on hand are
dill havarti and smoked gouda.
You haven’t had dill havarti?
It’s my favorite.
If you love cheese and you love pickles,
you will love dill havarti!
It’ll be your new favorite cheese, I promise.

A piece of cardstock underneath sturdied up the package.
Two sizes were made, cracker and sandwich.
PULL MY FINGER!
I’m expecting more company this week
and I need to prove I’m not too old to
CUT THE CHEESE
anymore.

Thirst-Quenching Deliciousness

When my niece, Kjersti,  got married two summers ago,
my amazing sister-in-law, Susan,
cooked the ENTIRE wedding meal.
She even made  biscotti to go with the coffee.
.
In their honor,
I copycatted one of their ideas for Grace’s graduation open house
and served Italian Sodas for the beverage.
They’re fun, festive and since the syrups come in a huge variety of flavors,
 there’s something to please everyone.
Because I knew it would be a bit fussy to serve,
I bought platsic cups and lids from Cash&Carry
and filled them with ice ahead of time.
This crate held 24 cups and went  right into the freezer.
If there had been room in the freezer, I would have filled more cups.
It was a great time saver!

We set up the display, using little cups from Beka’s toy dishes
so each flavor had their own one ounce measuring cup.
The pumps were more expensive than the flavorings,
so we didn’t buy them for the party.
We bought a strawberry, mango, blueberry, 
vanilla and my personal favorite,
Tiramisu.
The directions were printed out and displayed behind the bottles.
The recipe is
one ounce of flavoring,
one ounce of half-and-half,
then fill the cup with Club soda.
Others buy the domed lids and top off with whipping cream.
I toyed with the idea of making labels for the cups,
but never came up with any great ideas.
Am taking suggestions….
Of course, Grandpa Jim’s vintage cooler held the Club soda
and half-and-half below.
Note for next function –
I was wishing I had asked someone to be the Soda Jerk for the party.
There are always friends who would love to help,
and it would have been great to have someone manning this station
and someone else to refill food trays.
If you are hosting, it’s really important to be able to mingle with your guests.
 
An adorable guest enjoying a strawberry Italian soda.
I plan to keep my shelf stocked with cups, lids, straws and Club Soda
so all our summer get-togethers will feature our new favorite beverage,
Italian Sodas!

Help Yourself Hospitality – Hot Drinks

I have a big family.
I come from a big family.
My husband comes from a big family.
When family isn’t around and we are lonely,
we invite a lot of friends over to fill up the house.
In other words,
there can be a lot of people underfoot at my house,
at any given time.
We love having people around,
and love making them feel at home enough to
Help Themselves.

I started with jars of mini-marshmallows and red hots.

I added festive tubs of hot chocolate and hot cider mixes.
I added one pretty hot pot.

Mixed all together on a metal tray,
and you have a
Help Yourself Hospitality Center for Hot Drinks.

We normally don’t drink a lot of either,
and certainly don’t give my kids  marshmallows to eat,
but at the holidays,
there are some rules that are meant to be broken.
Of course, the coffee pot is always on.
Regular coffee until evening meal, then we switch to decaff.
I didn’t want to confuse you,
but the evening meal is called supper if you are from farm country,
because lunch is called dinner,
and lunch is the meal you bring to the fields between dinner and supper.
Anyhoo…
Good ol’ Norwegians drink a lot of black coffee.
Nothing  is added to the coffee,
no milk and no sugar,
we drink it black,
because you dunk your cookies in it.
My Mom calls cookies and coffee,
“A Norwegian Breakfast.”
I love being Norwegian.
The generations that have lived through the Depression make
their coffee so weak, you can see the bottom of the cup through the coffee.
My brothers call this “Lutheran Church Basement Coffee.”
Norwegians that know the Depression is over,
make their coffee strong.
Whoever was up first to make the coffee in the morning,
determines if I add a little hot water to mine.
In the mornings,
I feel no pressure to get up and rush out to the kitchen,
because I have established the ability for my guests to
Help Yourself.
I don’t have to get up,
until I smell the coffee.
(Tomorrow I’ll show you what I do for Help Yourself Breakfast.)

Company Only Company Towels

After 25 years of marriage,
our love is strong,
but our towels are trashed.
Nothing lasts like they used to,
especially when the towels are used inside, outside,
 and at the beach.
They are taken to Bible camp, and if they return,
they are never in the same shape.
They have been stained by make-up and make-up remover,
fingerpaints and wall paint,
bleach and Silly Putty.
It was embarrassing to set out towels for the guests.
“Would you like towels with bleach spots or
towels with unraveling edges?”
I bought a set of company towels,
but once in the linen closet,
they became fair game.
They soon blended in with the rest of the
family towels.
Now they are stained with make-up and
 go to Bible camp every year.
So, I bought
Company Only Company Towels.
I also bought a set of  wicker baskets with liners
to slide under the couch for company only supplies.
(Another basket holds the company bed sheets.)
Under the row of washcloths are two hand towels.
They even match and aren’t stained.
When overnight company comes to our home,
 the basket goes into the room they’re staying in.
When company leaves, the towels are returned to the basket,
covered to keep clean, and slid back under the couch.
Oh, yea, I  do wash them first
before I put them back in the
Company Only Company Towel Basket.
I knew you were wondering,
just in case you come to stay with our family,
and needed a towel…