Hospitality for a Crowd

I am firmly convinced that hospitality is essential for creating community.  Whether it’s inviting another mom from church over to your (not-perfectly-clean) house for lunch or having another family over for dinner or hosting a weekly Bible study, hospitality is how we build those deeper relationships with each other.  If we haven’t done it much, even having another family for dinner can be nerve wracking.  I’ll never forget my greatest newlywed hosting failure, when we had our friends Jonathan and Jackie over to our tiny apartment and the stinking pork loin I’d selected with pride took an hour longer to cook than I’d expected (because I hadn’t totally defrosted it ahead of time).  Or the time we brought lasagna over to friends with a new baby and it had to go back in the oven at their house for another half hour because it was still frozen in the middle.  Or the time I got ambitious and tried to make homemade tortillas AND homemade refried beans for a bunch of my college girlfriends and the tortillas were totally messed up and we basically sat around our card table eating pieces of dry cracker-like substance with beans.  I could go on.  The point is, I’ve made lots of mistakes, but all the people to whom I’ve fed sub-par food are actually still my friends.  They know I’m not the perfect hostess, and thankfully, they don’t care.  All of this is to the young housewife to keep trying her hand at hosting.  And if you’ve mastered one family, how about inviting over a whole group?


Since my husband is a professor, we’ve become pros at groups, but I think we had our largest gathering to date this summer, when about 30 lawyers from the same Christian organization gathered in our home.  Fortunately, my friend Janelle and her husband are part of the group, and she volunteered to co-host with me.  Since she works part-time, she was in charge of the shopping, and since I’m home full-time, I did the cooking.  We did Mexican food, with two tortilla options, two meat options, and beans, rice, chips, and toppings.  I bought a second crock pot for this event (and because we’re going to be hosting a weekly small group in our home this fall), and it really was pretty easy!  Paper products made clean up a breeze.  With Janelle and her husband to help with last minute prep and hosting during the evening, I wasn’t even frazzled.  We were crowded, but everyone felt welcome.  We’re looking forward to doing it again next year.

Sometimes it’s hard to actually visualize how it all might work, but we are here to help you with that!  At our E2S Founder’s Reunion this summer, each family was responsible for feeding the 25 of us for dinner one night.  Since we’ve all hosted large groups in the past, each of us did a tried-and-true crowd pleasing meal, and they were all so good that we promised each other we’d share our recipes.  And if we’re sharing them with each other, we might as well share them with you!  Stay tuned for those yummy recipes in the days to come!

In the meantime, what’s the biggest crowd you’ve fed?  Any group meal themes or crowd recipes you can share with the rest of us?  I’ll be taking notes!

Posted in Good Food, Hospitality | Leave a comment


e2s 17 kids and counting

We are just coming off a reunion with all the E2S founders and our families.  When I sent the other moms a picture of our combined 17 kids, Bethany replied that we are so rich!  It is true.  These precious children are a priceless treasure.  We have the privilege of dedicating our youth, our energy, our education, the best of what is in us to cultivate this treasure.

I recently read about a man who inherited a Caravaggio painting.  He educated himself about his inheritance and dedicated a considerable amount of time and energy and money to ensuring it would survive to be appreciated by his descendants, and 200 years later, you can go to London and see it and be awestruck.  The painting was worth all the inconvenience.

How much more are our children worth the sacrifices made for their sake?  These days, we moms are told to go use the best of ourselves on careers and to leave the crumbs of our energy, patience, and time for our families.  We at E2S choose to differ.  We are richly blessed, and our children are worthy of being treasured.

Posted in Importance of Mothers | Leave a comment

Hidden Art Friday: Paint

We have spent the last six weeks painting every single inch of this house. I’m kicking myself, because I really didn’t take too many good before pictures. All the befores here are ones that I took during the final inspection, so still have all the old homeowner’s furniture in them. While we’ve painted every single room, I’m not including them all here–I’ll save some of the more extensive projects for a future post 🙂

The rooms in this house were either really warm, to the point that I felt like I was suffocating, or florescent. I’ve had many people tell me the yellow was really not too bad, but I just couldn’t stand it. It was upstairs and down, in hallways and the living room. Just too much. I’ve loved the new grays that have become popular lately, so I couldn’t wait to try some in all these yellow rooms.


If you look at the back of this picture, you can see my samples on the walls:


We settled on Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter for hallways and living room. (It’s also in the master, after we tried no less than 4 different colors in there and hated them, and then decided that since I had extra of the Revere Pewter, that was the winner. Pictures of that one later.)


The stairwell still needs some work, probably involving some unsafe painting practices and borrowing a friend’s extendo ladder:


My baby bedroom was neon green.


My daughter was so excited to get to help paint it. IMG_2376IMG_2578(Another good garage sale find: blackout lined curtains from Calico Corners.)

If you look in the top left corner of this picture, you can see the old color in the dining room. The change here was not dramatic, but since I was doing so much gray in the hallways, I wanted the dining room to be a beautiful saturated brown. This is BM’s Maryville Brown.



(Also, note my craig’s list score of the year: really cool hutch!)

You can’t see much of the den color here–but it was a faux sponge finish in a very warm orange. Ugh.


With all the beautiful white trim in this room, I opted for a deep blue. BM’s Phillipsburg Blue.



Most of our bathrooms are still a huge work in progress, but the kid’s main bath is pink. Pink tub, pint toilet, pink vanity, pink tile. Because the layout works for the kids, we won’t be redoing it anytime soon, and I knew that I had to cover up the pink paint (really? why?) with something to cut the color of the fixtures. Sorry for no before.

IMG_2580 IMG_2581

My son’s room was the color of the closet door behind the three boys. IMG_2379

When we were done, I let them put their handprints on the inside of the closet door. These are my son’s best friends, who flew out to help us move and paint and work. Having their imprint on the door is a fun way to start a new era in his new room.IMG_2382

There are many more rooms that I painted–guest room from florescent green to white (that took forever!), master, kitchen, big girls’ room, but I’ll save those projects for another day.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Posted in Hidden Art Fridays | 2 Comments

Hidden Art Friday: Trim

As part of our floor re-do, we are having to fix a lot of the baseboards. There are multiple layers of paint on the woodwork, several of them only after the carpet went on. So when the carpet came up, the bottom inch of every baseboard in the house got a lot uglier.

IMG_2571 IMG_2473 IMG_2471 .The stairs are the worst, since carpet was covering the risers.



Because the layers of paint above the carpet are so thick, it’s not just a matter of repainting the baseboards. First, they have to be scraped and sanded so that it’s an even surface to repaint. This makes a dusty mess.


After cleaning up the dust with wet rags and letting that dry, I can finally paint the trim. But it takes forever, since I have to be super careful to not get any on our brand new refinished floors!


On the left is before, and on the right, after. In some of the rooms, the gap between the baseboards and the floor is up to a half-inch. To fix this, we will need to add quarter round and paint that, but for right now, that project has been put on the multi-year list.

The most startling difference is on the stairs:

Stairs Stairs

Right after the floors were finished, I had started on some of the stairs and upstairs in the attic. Unfortunately, since then we’ve had multiple projects come up that needed our immediate attention, so this project has been shelved until probably the winter. My goal this winter will be just to spend a few minutes on it every day, slowly working my way down from the attic to the main floor. It is amazing how much the baseboards make a difference in how finished your house feels!

Coming up over the next months: paint colors, refinishing old doors, and a fireplace restoration!

Posted in Hidden Art Fridays | 1 Comment
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