Now blogging at THIS SIMPLE HOME.

Now blogging at THIS SIMPLE HOME.

At This Simple Home

  • Homemade Magic Shell - I remember having Magic Shell once as a child. The chocolate syrup drizzled over my ice cream magically turned crispy hard. Mmm... So I was rather excited t...

Thursday, November 18, 2010


We recently had a really cool experience where a blogging friend became a real-life friend!  ( In the summer of 2009, our daughter M participated in a summer swap with Sissy.  Sissy is the daughter of Jenny from Academy at Thousand Oaks and Vegan and So Forth.)

M and Sissy definitely felt that they were best buddies though they had never met.  Over the past year, Jenny and I have been getting to know one another.  Well, Sunday night we got to meet!  Jenny brought her family to our home in PA all the way from Arkansas.  They stayed two nights with us before moving on to Philadelphia and NYC.

(Another blogging friend and I met and became real friends, too, but she was "local"-just an hour meet Jenny, I invited her to stay with us.  Risky?  Possibly, but we were both comfortable with it since we had already established a relationship.  We hadn't even talked on the telephone until 2 hours before their arrival!)

I have to say that our visit couldn't have turned out any better!  Jenny was just as great as I expected her to be!   It was wonderful!  Jenny and her family are really quite sweet.  And my daughter mostly shared, which was a huge concern for us.

This was the first time in many years hosting a friend overnight though we have many overnight family visits throughout the year.  It made me really think about what I needed to do to be a better hostess.

First things first (for me)...FOOD.  I have my favorite meals and desserts that I like to make for company.  With any company a hostess needs to consider dietary considerations.  Jenny is a vegan!  (Her family eats mostly vegan, too.)  I knew I needed to seriously consider this and not take it lightly.  It's important to them, so it needed to be important to me.  With any special dietary requests, whether by choice or medically necessary, I think it's just important to ask lots of questions.  I was so excited to learn that most pasta is egg free.  I emailed Jenny so many questions asking about foods.

We kept things simple with only having to serve one dinner.  (They stayed two nights, and arrived after dinner the first night.)   I decided on spaghetti so everyone could have something familiar!  Jenny suggested a can of black beans be added to my spaghetti sauce for additional protein.  My family had meatballs.  This was served with a salad.  Easy!

For our lunches we just had peanut butter and jelly.  This may not be what most serve their company, but it works for me, and it worked for them.  Paired with some apple slices and carrot sticks...lunch!  Knowing most breads wouldn't be ideal for them, I made white bread that had no butter or milk in it.  It was my only dairy-free recipe, so I went ahead and made it.  Oatmeal was served for breakfast.  Easy!   I decided on a seriously easy vegan peanut butter fudge that was really tasty.  It was the easiest fudge I have ever made, and I will likely make it again, though I hope to try it with butter at some point.

We have a small dining room and an even smaller table in it. (Our cat used the table for about a year while E was learning to not eat kitty food.) The big kids (not E) ate in the dining room while the grown ups and E ate in the kitchen.

I asked Jenny what would be good to have on hand and made sure I had soy milk for them and margarine.  I loaded up on fruits and bought some extra salad toppings.  My biggest suggestion for anyone hosting guests with special diets is to ask lots of questions!

Of course there is more to hospitality than just the food.  Our spare bedroom is no guest room!  Yes, there is a bed in it.  But there is also an elliptical machine and two large desks.  Yes, it a very tight space.  The spare room is also our catch all.  The week before they arrived, I gathered up all the random papers and just stuffed them in a box and closed the lid.  I didn't have time to sort through them, so I didn't.  It was so liberating to just get it put away!  The spare room also had a spare computer monitor, broken printer, and speakers.  We were finally motivated to recycle them!

Our girls shared a bedroom and E moved in to our bedroom for the visit so the boys wouldn't be awakened by him in the middle of the night.

Since they like to travel and visit lots of places, we went to a Maryland lighthouse that was close by.  It was a lovely hike.  Later that day we went to a store we like called Good's Store (maybe a PA Dutch department store).  Along the way we stopped at a covered bridge, and just enjoyed the farm scenery.  The next day we took the free Herr's Snack Factory tour, which was really awesome.  We just didn't have enough time to get to Lancaster for some additional fun there, but they saw a few of buggies around.

Turkey Point Lighthouse

While they were here I learned that I really can keep my island clean for longer than from the time I go to bed until the time I wake up in the morning.  It just takes some extra work! 

Thanks, Christy for introducing us!!  Look what happened by having the Super Summer Swap!


Carrie said...

It sounds like you did a great job with the food! AND it sounds like you had a GREAT time of fellowship with your new real life blog friends. ;D

Jenny said...

Hey! I just had a few minutes (finally! i'm exhausted!) here to catch up on your blog a little. Sorry I'm just getting to this post. I loved reading it! You are so sweet. And your guest room felt very spacious, for real. We had room for our ridiculous amount of luggage. We loved all of our little "stops" we made with you guys. I'll blog about them all over the next weeks I hope! If anyone who has not officially "met" Annette is reading this, she is adorable and just NICE. I have NOT ONE single even slightly negative thing to say about our visit. It was so fun! Love ya, 'Net!

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