Comforting Smell of Shaving Gel

After Tom left for work this morning, I went about my morning facial routine: Dove, cold water, a dab of Lubriderm. I noticed that the bathroom smelled distinctly manly and wonderful. My husband was up early, had shaved, and gone to work to provide for us — not to mention that he thoughtfully cleaned the sink when he was done with his morning routine. I had just painstakingly cleaned our bathroom sink a few days ago, so this made me feel really loved. It threw me for a loop for a moment because I remembered touching his smooth face this morning when I kissed him, but yet there was no trace of hair in the sink! I stopped for a moment and thanked God for blessing me with such a great husband.

Sarah Joy’s Biscotti Recipe

I have worked to perfect my own biscotti recipe. (According to this link, Biscotti in the US can be traced back to Christopher Columbus.) My recipe is inspired by the recipes for Biscotti di Prato from Mary Ann Esposito’s book Ciao Italia: Bringing Italy Home and Mark Bittman’s Biscotti from How to Cook Everything.

The tediousness lies in setting a timer and flipping the cookies to dry them evenly without burning them, and in lowering the temperature for the second phase of the baking. The longer they cook at a lower temperature, they harder and drier they become.

I like mine a medium dryness. I have had some that are so crunchy, I feared they’d break a filling.

Anise, by the way, is an interesting spice that is in the dill, fennel, cumin and caraway family. In addition to flavoring, it was used in ancient times for medicinal purposes. It tastes like mild licorice, and is a great compliment to coffee or strong tea. Sambuca, an Italian liqueur that is flavored with anise, is often served as a compliment to Tiramisu and other richly flavored desserts. A number of biscotti recipes actually call for Sambuca to strengthen the anise flavor.

Sarah’s Mild Anise Biscotti
# 2 cups all purpose flour
# 1 teaspoon baking powder
# 1/4 teaspoon salt
# 3/4 cup sugar
# 3 eggs
# 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
# 2 teaspoons almond extract
# 1 tablespoon anise seeds, ground (measure before grinding)
# 1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix together dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, then fold the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix them by hand or on “low” if you’re using a mixer (Thanks again, my love, for my Professional 6 series). The key here is to stop when the dough gets clumpy – do not over mix.

Divide the dough in half, and roll it out into 4″ wide x 1/2″ thick slabs.

Put the two slabs onto a non-stick OR a greased and floured baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. They should be golden brown and just starting to crack on top.

Remove the biscotti slabs and allow to cool to touch. Cut diagonally in 1/2″ slices and arrange them sideways back on the cookie sheets. Lower the oven temp to 250 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Turn the biscotti onto the opposite side and bake for 15 more minutes. Continue to bake in this fashion until they are as dry as you like.

Store in an airtight container (moisture will make them lose their crunch!) and serve as directed in my blog ;-)

The photo, by the way, is of me enjoying my homemade biscotti along with a nice steamy mug of Stash’sHoliday Chai.

By the way, despite all this talk about anise, I can’t stand straight up licorice or the similar flavor of root beer!

Picnic Season: Biblical Fellowship

It’s Picnic Season, here are some thoughts to prepare our hearts as we prepare those “side dishes to share”.

Thanks to my mother-in-law, Becky Albrecht, for these!

Background is the Gospel – “Why do we do what we do?”

“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well, because you had become dear to us.” (I Thessalonians 2:8)

The gospel: “I am accepted through Christ, therefore I obey.”

Three aspects of the Gospel:

  1. The gospel is news about what God has done in history to save us, rather than advice about what we must do to reach God. The gospel is news that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection in history has achieved our salvation. We do not achieve it, only accept it. Jesus does not just bring good news; He is the good news.
  2. I am more sinful than I dared believe but more loved and accepted in Christ than I dared hope, because He lived the life I should have lived and died the death I should have died. Rest in his finished work.
  3. The gospel is: the way up is down, the way to power is give up power and serve, the way in to God is to go to the margins in repentance and faith. The gospel is: God loves to work through the weak, the marginal, the poor.

Source: Dr. Tim Keller, in the articleCentrality of the Gospel

“Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, a nd that He appeared to Peter, and to the Twelve.” (I Corinthians 15:1-5)

“[God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.. (II Corinthians 5:21)

“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10)

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

What does Biblical Fellowship include?
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Chocolate Covered Strawberries (& Topping suggestions)

This is an EASY dessert that tastes and looks amazing with little effort! Great for parties or gifts (they need to be kept cold, though, to keep the chocolate from melting).

The kids and I just made a batch, and are going to go bless the neighbors with them. Wish we had the camera – they look beautiful!

You’ll need:

-Fresh, cold, clean strawberries with leaves attached – wiped clean with a damp cloth (do not rinse, it makes the strawberry absorb the water and it lessens the intensity of its flavor). The colder they are, the easier the chocolate will adhere – not frozen, though, then they get pithy.

-Chocolate chips (white or regular (I like semi-sweet) )


-Toppings (optional) (Ice cream sprinkles, crushed banana chips, toasted coconut, crushed toasted nuts, dusting of cocoa)

-Trays that fit in your fridge

-Sauce pan if you are heating the chocolate on the stove, or a microwaveable dish

-Waxed paper

* * *

Line your tray with waxed paper

Stir together over low heat (or put in the microwave) chocolate chips and shortening. Add about 3 tsp of shortening to every half-cup of chocolate chips. It makes the chocolate smoother, and helps it to harden quicker. Only warm the chocolate. Do not let it bubble – this will make it get clumpy.

Remove from heat.

Holding onto the leaves, roll the strawberry in the chocolate.

Dip into a topping of choice (or just leave it plain with the chocolate) and then place covered strawberry on tray

When the tray is full, put it in your refrigerator to help the chocolate set.

Keeps in the fridge for about a day. Looks great carefully wrapped in a delicate looking box.

Sarah’s Strawberry Decorating and Topping Suggestions:

-Once resting on the tray, drizzle the berries with a contrasting color of chocolate
-For rich, strawberry truffles, use semi-sweet chocolate and dust with Hershey’s Cocoa powder before the chocolate hardens
-Banana Berries : Crush sweetened banana chips and roll the berries in them while they are still wet
-Strawberry Nut Crunch: Roll the covered berries into toasted nuts (almonds, pecans, and hazelnuts are rich in flavor! Yum!)
-Strawberry Colada: Toast snowflake coconut in the oven until golden brown. Roll covered strawberries into the flakes.

For more control over decorating the berries, use a decorator’s icing bag. This is how they make them at Shari’s Berries. (Check out the website for ideas!) I saw a tour of the factory on the Food Network. (The Bananas and Cocoa were MY ideas, Shari!!! If you copy me, I’ll know you’ve been reading my blog!!)

The Great Physician’s Nurse

Whom do you see before seeing the doctor? The nurse, of course.

The nurse assists the doctor by collecting information and specimens from the patient, assessing injuries, administering immunizations (as well as cartoon printed band-aids, lollipops, and giant stickers) and sometimes will even offer general medical advice. While laying in a hospital bed, a patient may have a whole round-the-clock rotation of nurses to care for them while the doctor is busy with other patients, though the doctor is always there immediately when one of his nurses calls.

Just as nurses can be soothing and attentive, there are nasty nurses who contribute to patients leaving a doctor’s care and looking elsewhere.

With a number of small children, we were often at a certain pediatric practice. It became quite a hassle to interact with nurses who made assumptions and volunteered opinions about unrelated personal matters, were rough and aggressive with tender little children in pain, ones who were always grumpy or rolled their eyes when they were asked to help. Or, would stand at the nurses station and would loudly talk about their patients as though they were less than human. Yes, patients notice these things. It was because of the unpleasant nurses that I chose to switch pediatricians.

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Preparing the Heart for Giving Birth

This is a letter I sent today to a friend whose baby is due next week. I wanted to save it to remind myself of these things, and hopefully it will encourage others as well.

Dear —

Sorry I missed you last week! Had I seen you, I would have given you a big hug and let you know that I am praying for you as you get to the end of your pregnancy.

No matter how many babies I have given birth to, I know that each pregnancy and birth will be different. I tend to fluctuate between “I can’t wait to get this over with” and having apprehensions about labor… and, even about the recovery and the responsibilities of caring for another little baby. I’m praying for you as I’m sure you may be having these mixed feelings, too! I hope that you’ll give me a call if you need encouragement or extra help at any time.

I know you are trying for a natural birth – and I really hope that you are able to do this! I will be praying that the birth goes well, and that the experience of relying on your husband will bring you closer as a couple and to the Lord as you trust in Him together.

Whether you are able to have a natural birth, or, if in the end you decide that you need pain meds during labor, what is most important to remember is that your trust is in the Lord. It is not in hospitals, doctors and midwives, medicines, birthing methods, husbands, birth plans or even in ourselves. It’s easy to get psyched about all of these things, and yet diminish in our minds who is ultimately in control.
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