The rest of the mog story

Confession: I am slightly embarrassed. And extremely grateful.

Today my son brought home a package he’d found in his locker at school.


Inside the wrappings and quirky box and fun tissue paper


was this.

Picture of mug with this note: "I always wondered why I ended up with a mug like this. Now I know- It was for such a time as this!"

It’s made by my favorite potter (Alison Hershberger of White Hill Pottery), just like the one I smashed, and it’s large and perfect and shockingly beautiful.


I knew God was in the business of giving undeserved gifts, but apparently one of my local blog readers is too. I don’t know who you are—your careful typing left little chance of that—but I am so grateful. I will cherish this mog until smash do us part.

Thank you!


Our maiden voyage… Ahhhh!


Giveaway: R&R Roasters

Update: As of Sunday, June 7, 2015, this giveaway is closed.

Hello there!

The other day I got the darlingest package in the mail from Kansas.

coffee (1)

Inside was a bundle wrapped in stripey paper, tied up with string, and the smell that came out of it?

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Mmmmm, heaven—

Fresh coffee!

coffee (3).2

My friends Ryan and Rebecca Shetler started a coffee roasting business, and offered me a sample. I love a good cup. And though I’m not a coffee gourmet, my mom is—[grin]—so I invited her over. She said “[delighted shriek] Yes!! I LOVE their coffee!”

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We ground and brewed and sipped together, and I’m a believer. Sooo delicious!

(You know I try not to rave over things I can’t share, so hang on. Your part is coming soon.)

Ryan and Rebecca, also known as R&R Roasters (how cute is that?) buy ethically sourced beans, and carefully roast them to perfection in small batches. All the beans at R&R Roasters are organic, fair-trade, and roasted after you place your order because the Shetlers think freshness is what makes home roasting so wonderful. They ship within a day or two of roasting, so you get that perfectly optimum flavor.

Don’t even get these guys started talking about coffee experiences and tasting notes. This is good coffee.

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Plus it comes in adorable brown paper bags with tabs to seal in the freshness.

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And then of course you can make a latte with it, if you want…

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Ryan and Becca would like to give away one pound for free, to one of you. Stay in your seats, please. There will be no stampedes to the comment section. No people will be trampled in the giving of this bean.

But we mean it. And feel free to hang around and check out their website here, with coffee beans for sale by the pound here. They also offer subscriptions, for twice-monthly fresh deliveries to your door.

You can also find R&R on Facebook, and on Instagram.*

On their website they have a blog where they talk about coffee and life. Becca works as a barista, and loves to educate people about coffee and help develop their palates.

Since R&R Roasters is a new business (with years of personal experience in coffees), we’d like to spread the word. Please share the giveaway with someone—in person, by email, or on social media—then leave a comment to enter the drawing.


Shari Zook


Though I was given a free sample of coffee, I am not being paid to write this post and my opinions are my own.

*I’m not on Instagram so I can’t include their link. Search @randrroasters.

Giveaway ends in one week, Sunday, June 7, 2015. Open to any person with a US mailing address. Winner will be chosen by

Update: As of Sunday, June 7, 2015, this giveaway is closed.

Iced coffee

Well, it’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon.

We realized with a small shock we’re two-thirds of the way through summer vacation. How did that happen? Oh well. Pour out another round of iced coffee; we’ll need the boost before this is all over…

iced coffee

Iced Coffee

2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1/4 to 1/2 cup instant coffee
Splash of vanilla

Bring water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients until dissolved.


Pour several tablespoons over ice, and fill glass to brim with cold milk. Refrigerate remaining syrup until needed.

iced coffee in a cup

There are certainly fancier versions. I like the simplicity of this one.

The recipe is from my sister-in-law Renita, who says it’s public domain for the young housewives in her community. My little secret is to make half the sugar white and half brown, for an almost-caramel twist the whole family will enjoy

fight over.


Mo-o-o-ommmm….! You have iced co-o-offfffee?!?


Yes dear. Go unload the dishwasher.


Just kiddin.

three straws

No children were harmed or disappointed in the making of this blog post.


What’s your favorite cold drink in the summertime? Want to share the recipe?

Traveling mercies

Confession: I’ve been out and about a lot.

my beloved boots

Yesterday I realized that I’d been up till midnight three out of the last four nights, deep in laughter and conversation.

I am both exhausted and new-made.

caramel white chocolate mocha

I try not to tell other people’s stories on this blog, but I need to say that the ladies of Catlett VA are delightful. As are the foods they make. And the conversations they initiate.

I do feel a moral obligation to note that if ever you are in the Bristow area, if ever you pass from the parking lot of Choice Books down over the bank for a breath of fresh air and a little solitude, if ever you walk along the river and notice a set of stone steps reaching down to the brink, if ever you walk down them and step onto the last but one—the high one two feet above the water—you will most definitely be going Down. It tipped forward on me and I retreated in panic. The next person to set foot there, barring the mercy of Jesus, will receive a most unavoidable ducking. So sorry about that.

Now I feel much better.

As I came back up I saw a path. And then a No Trespassing sign, fallen over in the snow. So I am probably in danger of incarceration or something but I took the shortcut and didn’t know.

I also ran out of gas in my van Friday morning, high on Hunter Hill. I thought it was having a heart attack or something. I could feel it dying beneath me, losing function and pooping out. I tried checking vital signs, but the readings were not reassuring. I tried administering fluids, but it didn’t help. Twenty seconds later as I came to a complete and helpless stop right there in the roadway, I pulled out my phone and called The Boss.

Honey, something is terribly wrong with the van…

Doesn’t it seem like proof of his goodness (and His) that he was there within minutes, that he found it was not in fact dying but only out of gas, and most of all, that he was able to push it without engine power enough to coast it all the way down the hill and into our very own carport?

This blows my mind.

Plus the kids got to school on time, and I made it out the door for my big trip, and he treated me tenderly and made sure I was okay and never laughed, not once.

I am one lucky kid.


pumpkin maple candle

You need to try it, at least once a year.

A coffee shop is a good place to go, or a graveyard; or any other quiet place where people don’t expect much of you and are more or less unlikely to strike up lengthy conversations.

It’s good for every man to lay down his accessories from time to time—the add-ons that start feeling like identity. A phone, a job, a position, a persona. Lay it down. Lay down the cooking spatula and the dusting rag, lay down the little child always on the lap.

Come apart and rest.

If the thought of being alone for several hours with no resources and no periphery is terribly exciting, you might be due. Likewise if it’s terrifying. And perhaps most of all if it’s just silly, because you don’t need it and you’re doing just fine, thank you. Then you’re really due.

You may read. You may pray. You may write. You may sit and do nothing.

It’s good to remember there’s an inner person who can be distinguished from the outer, a Being who isn’t about Doing, an entity of its own. It’s good to bring that entity into silence before the Father.