Children’s Time: “How Smudge Came” by Nan Gregory and Ron Lightburn

The gentle illustrations in this children’s book soften the story a bit, which may invoke complex emotions. Cindy’s friends are inspired by how much she loves and cares for her puppy. As you listen, pay attention to your feelings. When do you feel sad? worried? angry? What actions in the story make people feel safe and loved and respected?

In When Smudge Came, we see that Cindy’s friends at hospice show her love because she showed love to Smudge, which reminds me of this week’s lectionary reading: 1 John 4:7-21. Can you think of times when you were inspired to love others because someone loved you?

Some ways to enjoy leftover ham

Easter means ham, and that means leftover ham, which makes me very happy. At the request of a friend, I’m sharing some of our favorite ways to enjoy it:

  • Ham and cheese quiche. Swiss, cheddar, and muenster are all lovely. Use a potato crust if, like us, you’re meh on pastry crusts.
  • Macaroni and cheese with cubed ham. Make it fancy with asparagus (also an Easter leftover) and panko breadcrumbs on top.
  • Fry ham slices with onions and pierogies.
  • Breakfast cups. Shape biscuit dough into a cup in a muffin tin, then top with beaten eggs, ham, cheese, and ground pepper.
  • Ham loaf. Yes, I mean it.
  • Ham balls. A throwback recipe that pairs well with pineapple upside down cake and Kansas Public Radio’s Retro Cocktail Hour.
  • Ham salad. Variations are endless.
  • Potato hash. Use leftover boiled potatoes or shredded hashbrowns. Top with a jammy egg and a wilted bitter green like Swiss chard.
  • Fettuccine alfredo with cubed ham and peas.
  • Ham and potato soup–creamy, with crunchy bacon bits, sour cream, green onions, and cheddar cheese.
  • Boiled red potatoes, cubed ham, and green beans in Italian dressing, served warm or cold.
  • Ham and cheese scones.
  • Ham, egg, and cheese bierocks.
  • Grilled cheese with ham. Make it fancy with thinly sliced green apples.
  • Buttered egg noodles with cubed ham and asparagus.
  • Baked potatoes with ham, cheese, and broccoli.
  • Dutch pancake with ham and gravy.
  • Calzones with ham and ricotta
  • Black beans with cubed ham.
  • Scalloped potatoes with ham.
  • Pineapple and ham kabobs
  • Chef’s salad with ham, turkey, hard boiled eggs, and blue cheese



Sharing Box: 31 things we’re sharing in March

One of my favorite parts of my neighborhood is our Sharing Box, a small outdoor pantry where neighbors can put things to share and take what they need or want. It’s the perfect distance from our house for a walk with our dogs, and we go at least once a day.

In March, we’re working hard to add more items that women need or we think women might especially enjoy. Here are some things we’re sharing:

  1. menstrual care products
  2. favorite recipes on notecards
  3. small zippered bags for makeup
  4. lip gloss
  5. hand sanitizer
  6. masks
  7. nail polish
  8. recent magazines
  9. cooking utensils
  10. a baking dish
  11. hair ties
  12. bars of soap
  13. decorative candles
  14. craft supplies
  15. wrapping paper
  16. book of puzzles
  17. oil
  18. salt
  19. pepper and other spices
  20. Cuties
  21. grapefruit
  22. boxes of tea
  23. children’s books
  24. Vienna sausages
  25. granola bars
  26. individually-packaged cookies
  27. cheese-and-cracker packs
  28. juice boxes
  29. Pop-tarts
  30. individually wrapped bags of microwavable popcorn
  31. individual soda cans (provided it’s not freezing)
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Sharing Box Ideas: 28 things to put in your neighborhood pantry this month

One of my favorite parts of my neighborhood is our Sharing Box, a small outdoor pantry where neighbors can put things to share and take what they need or want. Since Advent coincided with our new puppy’s ability to go on longer walks, we have used the Sharing Box as a destination multiple times a day (It’s a few blocks away–just enough for a little walk) and used Advent as an opportunity to share more. We set our goal of sharing once per day, and we’ve mostly kept it up.

Here are some things we’re sharing during the cold month of February.

  1. canned soup with pop-tops
  2. boxed soup
  3. crackers
  4. in-season citrus fruit (dropped off in the morning before the temperature freezes)
  5. tins of sardines
  6. double-bagged Ziploc quarts of homemade curry
  7. frozen pizzas (during our run of below-freezing days, marked on the outside with the moment of delivery so that folks know how long they’ve been in the box)
  8. single-serving size bags of chips
  9. individually wrapped tea bags
  10. packets of hot cocoa mix
  11. boxes of almond milk
  12. bottle of hot hot sauce
  13. a can opener
  14. box of cake mix + a 9×13 pan to bake it in
  15. small bag of apples
  16. extra toothbrushes  and sample-sized floss and toothpaste picked up from the dentist
  17. bars of soap
  18. winter pajamas we’ve outgrown
  19. hats, gloves, scarves, and mittens we’ve outgrown
  20. decks of cards, including Uno and Skip-Bo
  21. candles
  22. Valentine’s Day cards for kids to share at school
  23. bag of individually-wrapped Valentine’s Day candy for kids to share at school
  24. recent issues of magazines
  25. this week’s local newspaper
  26. repurposed shaker bottle (like from Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast) filled with sidewalk salt
  27. costume jewelry that a child might like to give to their mother or grandmother
  28. a doll

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We love our sharing box!