Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wednesday Wonder ~ Katherine Sasser and Hurley House

It started with the Tanglewood Carnival cakewalk. Esther assured me she would win. Only one winner, with about twenty-five kids marching in a circle to the music.
And she won.
"I told you so," she smirked at me, exiting the room with a white, scalloped-edged, twine-wrapped cake box in hands.

And this wasn't just any cake. It was actually a box of pink-frosted cupcakes. As Esther scanned the science lab tables loaded with green, black and orange-frosted cake (think Halloween), one box stood out like a golden treasure among cheap, store-bought icing. And on that golden treasure was a "Hurly House" sticker. Before I could leap across the masses of cakes to pluck out the treasure, Esther skirted around the table and beat me to it. Thank goodness - it was her idea - no arm wrestling on this one!

"Essie - do you know who made these cupcakes? Do you know who Hurley House is?? Mrs. Sasser!"
"Ooooh - yum. She makes pretty cupcakes, Mommy!"

The next morning, as I stood at my stove in pajamas stirring scrambled eggs, Katherine walked in to deliver meals I'd ordered, along with a birthday cake for Corbin. I asked her, "Katherine, did you know that you taught me how to make scrambled eggs? Eggs only, no milk, low heat - makes them soft and perfectly cooked." She laughed, remembering our conversation from a couple of years ago. So funny the things we learn from our friends, when of course they have no idea.

Even before the Tanglewood Carnival, Katherine offered to make a couple of large meals for us the week of my mother-in-love's surgery, as we had Cameron's kiddos staying here and my time was stretched. So that Saturday morning Katherine arrived not only with four canisters of white chicken chili, but also an enormous pan of pulled pork. Those two entrees got us through the weekend with eight kids and several adults, as well as into the next week. Just looking at that delicious food in pretty packing made the world slow down for a bit.

Katherine chatted for a minute, offered hugs and promised her prayers for Jamie's healing, and as she left, Esther looked up at me with wide eyes and said, "Katherine Sasser is the best cooker in the whole entire world."
Corbin's HH layered lemon birthday cake with raspberry creme icing
My first glimpse into Katherine's intrinsic homemaking was during her senior year at TCU. I popped into her apartment one afternoon and while her roommates buzzed around the kitchen full of conversation and activity, Katherine sat bent over her sewing machine, listening and taking in the activity around her, but focused on creating a darling table cloth from thrift-shop fabric dotted with bright red cherries, the pattern giving a slight nod to Mary Engelbreit. I was newly married at the time, and decorating was new to me - shopping Pottery Barn sales and sewing curtains in an effort to make our home cozy. But I certainly didn't know any college girls who made those same efforts for a cramped, college apartment. Even then, Katherine worked to make those around her comfortable by surrounding them with beauty and a lovely home.

Nevermind that Katherine can sing like an angel. No kidding - an angel. Katherine pursued music for a few years early on, made a CD, put on concerts, and performed at more weddings and events than even she could count. A few months ago Katherine sang one of her songs for our church body - thousands in attendance - and as she sat at the grand piano and sang into that microphone, I sat high in the balcony with tears streaming down my face. Just the memories associated with her music, that particular song, and hearing her (truly - angelic) voice throughout the incredible acoustics of our sanctuary was a moving, worshipful experience. In a word - an offering.

Katherine married Tim and is a mother of four darling kiddos. Our lives have continued to intertwine through Young Life (sort of), church (off and on over the years), but we mostly keep in touch through a monthly dinner club Katherine started about thirteen years ago. Again - before she was married, before she had a family, Katherine was already forward-thinking and intentional about setting a time and space for relationships. And she was so wise to insist that our time would shared over a meal. Katherine is something of my very own Shauna Niequest (Cold Tangerines, Bittersweet, and Bread and Wine) - a friend who loves to cook and bake, loves to have people in her home, and knows how to prioritize relationship over a perfectly clean home (although she is very organized and clean).

Katherine brought this gorgeous cake for a dinner I hosted... just an every day offering in the life of Hurley House

Celebrating Kellie's birthday ~ Kellie, Sarah, Beth and Katherine
Sparkly chocolate cake for a sparkly birthday girl
So back to the cakewalk, catering, and feeding people food that looks as pretty as it tastes amazing... last Spring Katherine started a new business venture, Hurley House. In addition to taking orders online and through Facebook, Katherine sends out a weekly email with that week's menu offerings - entrees with or without all the sides, baked goods, and seasonal treats. The beauty of these emails is that you can order straight from that menu, or she and her team will take custom orders any time. For example, after the two large meals right during Jamie's surgery, and Corbin's (amazing) birthday cake, this week Katherine is making several smaller meals - dairy and gluten free - for Charles and Jamie to keep on hand at their condo. So whether it's for your own family, or delivering a meal to others, what an amazing offering to take advantage of.

I think my favorite thing about Katherine is watching her continue to serve and work out of her natural bent - which is to create a lovely, inviting space - whether in our homes or hers. It's putting a tangible frame around inviting people in to rest. I have observed her create that space over the two decades of our friendship through music, song, worship, decorating, and always baking - but now simply with a bigger audience. I am so touched seeing the joy she receives from working hard at serving others in the ways she was created to serve.
This image take from the Hurley House site... perfectly demonstrates K's love for hospitality

Katherine's beautiful children ~ in front of their real Hurley House
And just to offer a glimpse of reality... her beautiful kiddos again!
Find out more about Katherine and Hurley House:
- Order meals and see photos of her scrumptious food at Hurley House.
- Sign up for Hurley House weekly emails here on "Leftover line."
- You can also find some of Katherine's favorite recipes (and simply find out more about her!) on her blog, "K.S. Practically Elegant." I particularly love her "about me" page.
- Follow HH on Pinterest - such great food and party ideas!

I love writing these "Wednesday Wonder" posts, because when I see amazing people doing extraordinary things, I want to shout it from the rooftops. Or at least from my little blog!  The people I highlight here are "Wonders" in my eyes because I see God's work in and through them - His work transforming the ordinary to extraordinary. But it typically takes a willing heart, some risk, and an offering of "yes" for Him to transform.