Mini-Warrior

Mini-WarriorJustine–mini-warrior, age 5, started kindergarten last week. She’s off to embrace the world. Thankfully, she’s not alone. None of us are–no matter how deep the water, how bleak the night.

Follow her dad’s progress towards wellness at sansoxygen.com. Before his accident, Vernon designed fonts – he has a Masters in font design. Who knew? And worked for Google, as well as other contracts. I now use his font: Oxygen, for my emailing, and the newly designed cover of my book, Come to My Table will feature Pacifico – another of his many creations.

“…fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

“And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.” Isaiah 46:16

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;”  II Corinthians 4:8,9

Mini-warrior photo courtesy of her mom, Allison Moore Adams.

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Upstream People, Downstream People

“We all know some upstream people–those further along in their walk with God, a little wiser, a little more experienced. We need to intentionally go after those people. We also know some who are a bit downstream, and we need to reach out a hand in their direction. God made us with the potential to influence another person.” — Tim Theule, Lead pastor, Grace Church SLO

In our last Reel Life at Grace on Sunday – the end of our summer series (finding Gospel shadows in contemporary movies) – we looked at the true story of Louis Zamperini from the movie/book Unbroken. Pastor Tim reminded us of our God-given potential to be a person of influence as he recalled the impact of Louis’ older brother, Pete.

Louis thought he was a nothing; Pete told him otherwise. Pete became the main factor in Louis’ life, helping to change a young life bent on self-destruction on to be a success as a world-class athlete.

Louis was a juvenile delinquent.
Born in January 1917 to Italian immigrant parents, Zamperini spent his youth as one of Torrance, California’s most notorious troublemakers. A smoker at age 5 and a drinker by 8, he built an adolescent criminal empire based around stealing anything that wasn’t nailed down from neighbors and local businesses. Zamperini blackened the eyes of any kids that dared challenge him, deflated a teacher’s car tires after she disciplined him and once even lobbed tomatoes at a cop. Family members were convinced he was headed for prison or the streets, but he finally abandoned his life of petty crime in high school, when a group of girls charmed him into joining the school’s track team. Encouraged by his older brother, Pete, he soon became one of southern California’s top athletes, and achieved a national high school record after blazing through a mile run in only 4 minutes, 21 seconds. (excerpted from History in the Headlines – for more info click here.)

Upstream and Downstream

Without Pete, Louis wouldn’t have stayed out of jail long, much less made it through WWII.

Pete was Louis’s upstream person. Later, much later, after the horrors of war and alcoholism, Louis found Christ – the Ultimate Upstream Person – and spent the remainder of his life reaching out a hand to help another. View his testimony here. It’s a great one.

Who could use a hand up from you? We spend too much time thinking we don’t have anything to offer. We play the comparison game. It’s a waste of time. God will bring that person (today?) who needs a bit of His grace. Get ready. He knows you’re the one to pass it on.

Who could be your Upstream — someone to bless you, train you, teach you, coax you and bring you closer to Jesus?  Ask God for an Upstreamer to help you swim this week (and the next.) I don’t do that well in the water on my own. I’m not meant to. You, neither. Easier to keep your balance with both hands out.

Upstream and Downstream

 

Prayer for today:

Father,

Please show me someone I’m supposed to help. I need to stop comparing with others and get to work. And help me find a friend or two who can give me a boost. Work out the practical timing in all our lives–even if it’s just a phone call or a walk or a cup of coffee. Smooth the way, upstream and down. For Your glory. For my growth. Amen.

My brother, Hyatt who is mostly Upstream for me — although I’ve thrown in a few Downstream lifelines along the way – just put together a great little book about our folks. It’s aptly called Mom and Dad.

Upstream and downstream

Most people won’t need to read it. It’s not their mom and dad. But the idea is a good one: chronicling the lives of those who were always upstream–coaxing, coaching, dragging at times, and praying that we five would reach our potential – God’s potential. I’m sure they wanted to throw in the towel – more than once – but they had a lot of friends to keep them at it. I thank God for my folks AND for all their friends who helped them along the way.

Upstream and downstream

If you have kids, you’ve got your own set of down streamers – don’t give up. Keep the line out. Ask an older, wiser friend to give a hand. It’s the way we’re meant to swim. (Yep, that’s me by Dad, our official BBQ king.)

You can enjoy more fun photos from Mom and Dad.

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Praying for Your Husband (From Head to Toe)

After praying FOR a husband for a million years or so, and then producing three girls (with his help) — lickety-split, one-two-three — I can sometimes forget to pray FOR my husband unless there’s a crisis at work or trouble with the remodel or when he doesn’t agree with me … you know, the important things.  Those one-two-three young adult daughters can SO get all my prayers, I have to admit. With girls, I’m either at the bank or on my knees. (I think you know what I mean.)

My friend Bonnie sent me this great little prayer list and I still love the list and the reminder to pray what’s what for my Man-in-Plaid. (Plaid does not solve all ills. Nor does a mean burrito, although it comes close.) I made it into a bookmark so I can pass it out when I speak to women. Women don’t have to be married to know a man who needs prayer, and they love to get this little reminder to stick in their Bible or prayer notebook. The older we get, the more reminding we need (I think you know what I mean.)

Praying for your husband

My wonderful VA, Kaitlyn Bouchillon made the bookmark into a Free Printable just for you and three of your friends.  Yep–four to a page (so clever, that Kaitlyn–you can meet her over in my sidebar on your right.

Print the printable on cardstock if you want to go fancy, and put one in a greeting card or in a book for a friend. Their husbands may never know, but the results will be eternal. And that is the important thing. (I think you know what I mean.)

Praying for your husband

 

Find your printable here. Praise God that He invites us to pray day and night and loves it when we do.

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

James 5:16 (NLT)

Go for it, ladies.

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Fighting Fire with Fire

Fighting fire with fire

Every time we pray our horizon is altered, our attitude to things is altered–not sometimes but every time, and the amazing thing is that we don’t pray more.

Oswald Chambers, The Place of Help

Great title: The Place of Help. For me that’s every place – “Lord, help!” Still, it’s amazing I don’t pray more.

These local heroes knew their place – check out the photo on the front page of our newspaper yesterday. Firefighters starting their fight with prayer. So great!

Praying firemen No one likes to see a wildfire out of control. No one wants a firefighter to get hurt in the process of protecting another. Pray on, dear men. We love you and respect you and we add our prayers to yours.

Here’s the view from my street on Wednesday – my one-handed shot taken while turning into my neighborhood wasn’t the best photography, but I couldn’t believe the billowing smoke about eight miles from us.

Fighting Fire with FireThe Cuesta fire burned 3500 acres and is about 35% contained. And it’s one of many in the dried out state of California.

Praying for Hume Lake Christian Conference Grounds today as well.

Fighting Fire with Fire

Pray along with us and we’ll fight fire with fire. I’m proud of these men and women. God will draw near when we cry out to Him.

Every time our horizon is altered, every time our attitude is changed.

It is amazing I don’t pray more.

Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer. — Psalm 4:1

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. — Psalm 145:18

Come near to God and he will come near to you.– James 4:8

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Feast on Friday: Italian Mini Frittatas

Italian Frittata

Delicious! And so fun to say – try it: Italian Mini Frittatas (again…) One sounds so Italian – or French or Ta Ta – ish. Instead of muffin-sized, I made these into two 9″ pie plate sizes last Sunday afternoon when it was too hot to be cooking, but not too hot for Italian Mini Frittatas (I knew I could get that in one more time.)

I sent one off to a set of new parents (who don’t need to be cooking while doting on Jr. for the first time in their lives,) and put the second one in the freezer for our family dinner tonight. It’s so nice to have dinner ready after a long day at work. I was relieved it tasted yummy since I had already given one away. . .  daring, I know to try something new on new parents, but I didn’t think I could go wrong with these ingredients. And I banked on the mom and dad being bleary-eyed and not (even) caring.

First, the butter and bacon and green onions.

Italian Mini FrittataThen the garlic. Always the garlic. Easy as pie (easier) with the Pampered Chef fresh garlic press. Order one here. (Just type in Sue Donaldson as host.) No peeling necessary. I am not lying.

Italian FrittataHere you go – dig in and make two while you’re at it. Who knows who may be having a baby for the very first time this very moment?!? (I’m actually glad that it’s not me, but the thought is still exciting–for someone else, I mean, right?)

I doubled this recipe only because I didn’t want to store the other half of the can of artichoke hearts.

And like I said–so nice to come home to a ready-made home cooked dinner.

Feast on Friday: Italian Mini Frittatas
Author: 
Recipe type: Brunch, Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-5
 
This recipe called for egg whites but I didn't want to be too healthy. I used 5 whole eggs instead of the called-for 4 egg whites and 2 whole eggs. Compromise can work with the Italians, I've learned.
Ingredients
  • 2 T. chopped sun-dried tomatoes (not oil packed - mine were, so I rinsed them a bit)
  • ½ c. boiling water (since mine were oil packed, I skipped this step)
  • 2 thin slices prosciutto, finely chopped (I used Costo bacon crumbles, ½ cup - one doesn't have all day, mind you)
  • ¼ c. chopped shallots (sorry, only had green onions - I wonder what this recipe would really taste like if I followed it?)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (I used 3, of course. I'm not Italian but I've been there, twice.)
  • 1 t. butter
  • ¼ c. flour
  • 1½ c. low fat milk
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. shredded skim mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ c. shredded Asiago cheese (I didn't have that but I had some other one - oh, yes, Machego cheese - I had it in my freezer. You know you can freeze cheese, especially if you're going to end up shredding it.)
  • ½ can canned water-packed artichoke hearts, chopped - this is when I decided to double the recipe - so I went back and doubled the rest)
  • 2 t. dried basil
  • ¾ t. salt
  • ½ t. pepper
Instructions
  1. Place tomatoes in small bowl, add boiling water
  2. Let stand 5 min. and drain (I used dried tomatoes packed in oil instead)
  3. In skillet, saute the prosciutto, shallots, and garlic in butter until shallots are tender.
  4. In large bowl, whisk the flour and milk until smooth
  5. Whisk in the eggs until blended
  6. Stir in the cheeses, artichokes, spices, and prosciutto or bacon mixture
  7. If you want minis, coat 12 muffin cups with cooking spray and fill with egg mixture
  8. I used two quiche pans - one for sharing, one for eating.

The recipe above is not doubled. Tonight I served the second frittata reheated in the microwave, with a spinach salad and rolls. If I make it into cupcake size, I think it would make a great quick and easy breakfast, one at a time. Or for your teenagers who forget they need to eat protein before 10 am or they are sure to get a protein headache. (I am married to a Dr. you know, although I’m not sure he’s heard of a protein headache except when I’m complaining of one when he doesn’t want to stop on a road trip. But that’s another blog.)

Italian Frittata

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A Matter of Perspective – Looking for Clues

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As you may know, my niece Allison’s husband was in a terrible accident more than a year ago. A truck hit him while he was riding his Vespa. Vernon sustained multiple injuries including brain trauma, and he hasn’t been home since.

Allison chronicles their story and his progress at sansoxygen.com and if you ever need a “picker-upper,” I suggest you head over to her almost daily blog. She shows grace and strength and vulnerability, and I’m always glad to see her post in my email.

This week their car broke down on one of the hottest days in Southern California. When things are already less than perfect, who needs “one more thing?” Right? Right. (Our internet was out 24 hours and I felt like I was on a deserted island in 1803…)

contentment quote

It’s all a matter of perspective. We know that. We’re mature adults. I don’t always act like I am. Crisis and trauma and loss help build maturity (or not–we do have a choice.) Allison has taken the high road, and we’re all better for it.

Here’s the latest: CAR TROUBLE (on par with COMPUTER TROUBLE – actually worse, with two kids and rising temperatures…)

I guess what might have once seemed major now seems minor. It’s not that minor that my car broke down this weekend in the middle of the busiest two weeks of summer, and on the hottest day.  But in the slightly bigger picture, it’s not that major.

Instead of seeing it as a curse, I quickly decided it was most likely a hidden blessing, and I started looking for clues.

I was able to get the car moved to a parking space after too many tries with the ignition.  Immediately I was thankful that if I hadn’t stopped on our way out of town to help a friend last minute, the kids and I could have been many miles up the freeway before the car sputtered out. It was SO hot yesterday and we live by the beach, I image the heat on the inland freeway would have been brutal, especially since it took a good hour and a half before the tow truck arrived.  Another blessing was that we had parked right outside a Rite Aid, so we went straight in for ice cream and air conditioning before calling for help. See how well I prioritized?

On she writes about seeing those clues – and what a great ending!

vernons familyalli

Good writing, good perspective. I want to start looking for clues.

Enjoy her post and photos here. Leave her an encouraging comment. And let me know what clues show up. I don’t see any if I’m not looking.

A Matter of Perspective

May the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way.

II Thessalonians 3:16 NIV

IMG_3420

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Chocolate on Mondays: Parable of the Open Door (Guest Post)

I met my friend, Aly (online) when I came across the story of her table. Every table has a story, you know  (if tables could talk!)  We discovered a kindred spirit of tables and food and inviting others in.  

Parable of the open door

I love tables (and what’s on them) and mostly who’s around them. Someday we hope to be at one another’s. Check out her heart for hospitality – so open and lovely. Her new table began with a door. What’s not to like? And she’s married to a real contractor husband. I imagine there’s plaid there somewhere.

Now, Aly ~

Before my first IF:Table, before we gathered to share a meal and our hearts, before we talked about big and small ways to bring Jesus to our city, there was a door……

This isn’t going like I had planned. I kept my pouty lip securely tucked in and tried not to let my eyes show what my heart felt.

I had asked for a table. An altar of sorts, to gather and feed. To be in communion with God and the hearts that walk into our lives and meet us where we are.

But apparently it’s not that easy to just “build a table.” For little or no money. And love it.

My PLAN was to build a table out of recycled pallets. If you know me on social media, I am all about recycling and reusing. We have become kind of allergic to buying new.

I executed my part of the operation by securing pallets that Whole Foods was happy to give me for free. We brought them home and I. Was. So. Excited.

This is already becoming a long story but, I will never forget the day God orchestrated for table building. My contractor woke up on his first day off in a month and declared his service to me and our table. Sister, please. Unsolicited acts of love like this go down in history books.
The following is a list of lessons I learned during the making of the open door table. During every step of this process, I felt the Holy Spirit whispering, “Tuck this lesson into your heart. It’s a reminder of how to approach your life.”

I can’t imagine keeping these life lessons to myself and I am betting you are dealing with at least one of these in your own life today. Somehow, I suspect I will be re-learning a few of these for the rest of my life.

There will be work. I had no idea how much effort is involved in making a flat surface with legs. There are so many steps that must be done, in order. I had to trust the guy who had been here before to guide me through the process. What makes me think I can glide through life effortlessly and get it all right the first time? We need our guide, our God, to lead us through where he has already been. And ladybird, we are going to have to roll up our sleeves.

There will be provision. God provides the raw materials, you have to do the work. We made the open door table for exactly zero dollars. Tabletop, legs, supports, stain and varnish were already in our possession. God had already placed them here previously so they would be available when we were ready. Okay, okay, this minimalist can admit that it occasionally comes in handy to be married to a pack rat. Though, I am not entirely sure the other 97% of the time makes up for the 3%… but that’s another post.

There will be waiting. I have already made it clear that there is no instant gratification when asking for something of value. You don’t just build a table and sit down to eat an hour later. We waited for the right time. We waited 24 hours between coats of stain and varnish. And I mean three coats of varnish. There is meaning in the waiting. God is preparing our hearts in the waiting.

It may look disappointing during the process. Don’t judge a work in progress. There were moments when I knew this table was going to be ugly. At one point I even wished we hadn’t started it at all. Save that opinion until you and God are finished with the work. This goes for our own lives, and the unfinished stories of others.

It probably won’t look like you imagined. There will be pieces of the original dream, but it will look different. As a whole it will be so much more fantastic than you could have thought to ask. Those pallets we brought home were in rough shape. That’s when I got discouraged. But God knew all along that there was an old wooden door in the garage that my contractor had been using as a work bench. He suggested we take a look and when I laid eyes on it I almost jumped for joy. And we were still able to use some of the pallet supports for the legs.

 

parable of the open door

Note: I love, love, love the symbolism of our table being fashioned out of an old door. It is not lost on us as we open our doors and our lives to those who come and leave with full bellies and fuller hearts.
It means so much more than if God just handed me what I wanted. This table is the first thing my husband and I (and God) created together. The secondhand, mix & match chairs? We have memories of time spent together, hunting for them at garage sales and online. It is worth more than the most expensive dining table imported from Italy.

It will come with responsibility. Every dream God shapes from our prayers has one ultimate goal. To bring Jesus to the world one person at a time. It comes with the understanding that we will use our stories to show others they can have the same. You can bet we will be gathering people around our table to love them and laugh with them and cry with them and dream big, scary dreams with them and pray with them.
And you can bet Jesus will have a reserved seat.

parable of the open door

 

I love Aly’s life-lessons – did you see? Can you relate to any or all? She prayed. God answered; but not how she planned. (Now can you relate?) She learned that God’s answers to our prayers may include:

Work

Provision

Waiting

Disappointment

Creativity (she didn’t use that word, but that’s how our Creator-God likes to work–out of the box with surprises and joy)

Responsibility

What are you asking God for this week? Will you share with me how He’s providing – even while you wait, even if disappointed, as you see His creative re-planning of your plans?

As I wait, I learn that I’m more precious to God than my precious plans. And what a great lesson here: It means so much more than if God just handed me what I wanted.

Here, here!

I love Aly’s call to responsible living – whatever we pray for, however He answers – we’re called to answer His call on our lives: invite the world to Jesus. Show another His welcoming heart. You may even get a new table. A door for another to know God. Sounds like a job well done and life worth living. Thanks, Aly. Blessings on you and your table.

Aly Chase is living out of gratitude for her salvation.

aly chase

She retired from public school teaching, after 16 years, to move onto her next grand adventure. A Compassion International advocate and volunteer coordinator, Aly is passionate about releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name. She finds balance between the daily grind and the extraordinarily ordinary moments that come with an invitation to “come and eat”. Founder of onedaylighter.com, Compassion Volunteer Coordinatior, Moderator: instagram.com/brokenmadebeautiful.

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All In–Taking the Plunge (Video Clip)

Are you All In when it comes to God? I think I am, then I see water and wonder: “Do I really want to take the plunge?”All In

Fenelon wrote:

Don’t love God a little bit and think that is all there is to it. You can’t expect to live life as you please, then go to God as a last resort when you need help. Is this loving God? I think it is more like irritating Him!

The only way to love God is to love Him completely. Plunge into God and give everything that you are to Him.      — Fenelon, The Seeking Heart

Do I irritate God? Probably, if He weren’t so God-like in His love for me.

All In

All in? Plunging in with you today.

“Lord, I don’t want You as my Last Resort. I want you at my First, Last and Everything In Between. I repent of where I’m holding back from loving You completely. I’m stupid to think I’ll drown once I dive into You. I’m all in. Amen.”

Justine’s got the right idea. No holding back.

All In

PS

For me to be all in is to offer my home, my table, myself for anyone God sends my way. Welcome Heart exists to show off God’s inviting heart and how He’s made a place at the table for you, for me. Here’s a little video clip to show you want I mean. You can also find it on the menu bar above under About Me and Speaking Topics.

 

Linking with Christianmommyblogger today.

 

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Chocolate on Mondays: Hospitality Takes Practice (But Don’t Practice Too Much)

Hospitality takes practice, but don’t practice too much. We might make someone feel badly if they never saw us mess up. So don’t practice too much.

Here’s my latest mess-up: I didn’t pay attention to the timer. A timer only works if you pay attention.

Practice Makes Perfect

 

Hospitality takes practice. You might need a hand-up to get started. These five “P’s” could help:

1. Practice One – recipe, menu, time of day

2. Pool and Share – your resources, your friend’s talents, your friend’s offers

3. Party Purposefully – make the event a relationship-builder, ask a group question

4. Pray Confidently – for yourself, family, and guest

5. Prepare a Company Cupboard (you don’t need to be a Boy Scout to be prepared) – stock and organize.

Okay – which one are you already good at doing? Which one could you use some . . . practice?

Here’s your cute free printable. (Sometimes we need a free printable.)

Hospitality in Action // free printable

Allie practices hospitality regularly. I could write a whole series on Allie. One bit of advice she gave me was this:

“Practice one thing really well [see #1 above]–like homemade biscuits. Knowing you are good at making biscuits (or something) gives you the confidence to invite someone over.”

True. I’d come. I love homemade biscuits. Here’s my fav.

You could also practice hitting the Pillsbury can on the side of the counter. You could get real good at that. I’d still come. I love Pillsbury biscuits.

This cute reminder list is a Freebie Printable. A call to action! Action is easier if it’s a free printable, a cute free printable. (See Menu bar for more.) Feel free to print it out and start practicing. That’s your call-to-action (and mine.)

And that’s hospitality. Entertaining can be more about me (the host.) Hospitality is more about you (the Guest.)

This week:

What’s your favorite dessert to make? Gather up the ingredients–keep enough for two batches on hand, just in case. I bet you could find someone who would love your practice.

Mine is Moist Chocolate Cake. Don’t throw out that leftover coffee–use it to make cake instead. It doesn’t take a lot of practice. I may make one right now. I think I need a different smell in the kitchen.

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice Makes Perfect

 

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Feast on Friday: Tomato Salad (for a Hot Day)

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My darling sister-in-law, Karen gave me this salad recipe many years ago. It’s lovely for a Hot Day when you have an Abundant Summer Garden–or a friend with an Abundant Summer Garden and a Big Heart. Like Karen – she’s got a Big Heart. She married my brother.

steve and karen's wedding

They married when they were about twelve (oh–maybe I was twelve. They were mature at 20 and 20.) Glasses like these sell for high prices now–vintage, you know. Karen passed on this recipe–and many other delights through the years (have I shared her Mexican Lasagna yet? No? Okay, I will soon. Today I’m not turning on the oven so you get this great little salad instead.)

Tomato SaladVintage glasses. Vintage recipe cards. Feeling vintage today. It fits.

Four ingredients! How can you not make it. Of course, I added three more–just because I could.

Tomato Vinegar SaladGreat message from my Pottery Barn bowl:

Well, I agree. Here goes:

Feast on Friday: Tomato Salad (for a Hot Day)
Author: 
Recipe type: Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine: Summer
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-5
 
If someone gives you tomatoes or cucumbers or both, mix them up and chill. You won't regret it! I'm taking this to a BBQ tonight.
Ingredients
  • 1-2 lbs. fresh tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 T. vinegar
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Sliced red onion (opt.)
  • Sliced cucumbers (opt.)
  • ⅓ cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese (opt.)
Instructions
  1. Slice and mix and chill for about two hours.
  2. Serve in a white bowl for "popping pleasure." (Red and green look better on white.)

Enjoy! Got another Hot Day recipe to share? Email me or put it below in comments. It’s Hot and we pansy Coastal Californians are not used to it.

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