Hope & Soap

Saturday night was full of fun and laughter.  We spent it with 3 couples from church enjoying a meal, playing games and competing in a cookie bake-off.  Don and Rena invited everyone over for the evening and came up with the idea of the cookie bake-off.  Don and Rena provided the main course, each couple contributed a side dish and each person brought a batch of home-made cookies.

Jeff and I plotted and planned throughout the week and didn’t tell each other until Saturday morning what kind of cookies we each were baking.  I decided on Lavender Shortbread Hearts with Lemon Filling and Jeff made Triple Chocolate Pistachio.  We engaged in the kitchen ballet while making our cookies and trying to stay out of one another’s way.

After arriving at Don and Rena’s house, we ate dinner and talked.  Somehow the subject “To Which Click Did You Belong in High School” came up.  We had fun telling stories about our younger selves and learning more than a little about one another!

After dinner Don explained the judging.  Unfortunately, with all the post-holiday dieting going on, he was unable to find a judge; so he came up with Plan B.  Each couple was assigned a facet on which they would rate all 7 cookie offerings.  (No, you’re not math-challenged…..it should have been 8 types of cookies, but we all certainly understand hectic schedules!!!)

Rena and FriendsWhile Don explained the rules, Rena had some company on her lap!

The facets on which all the cookies were rated include appearance, taste, texture and overall appeal.  Once we all understood our assignments, we made tracks for the kitchen.  The cookies awaited – fortunately Don and Rena remembered to get milk!!!!

The cookie entries were as follows:

Everyone took their judging responsibilities very seriously – tasting as many cookies as necessary to assign a fair rating!

Scott and Carmen Rena and Don Donna and Darrel

Don Announcing the Winners


After all the score sheets were submitted, Don did the final calculations and, with Carmen on drumroll, announced the winnerS!  The bake-off ended in a tie – the winners: Donna and Me!  We posed for a photo together – me holding one of Donna’s cookies and Donna holding one of my cookies – but, truth be told, vanity has gotten the best of me – the bags under my eyes are so big you’d swear I was going on vacation…..so I’ll post a pic of the tally sheet.

The Final Tally

The fun did not end with the cookie competition.  After the milk was drunk and we couldn’t eat any more cookies, we broke out the games.  We played “Oh, Really” (a game in which you rank the importance to you of 5 items and your spouse tries to match your rankings) and “Catch Phrase” (a game – played men against women – where a clue giver describes a common phrase well enough (within limits) that their team members guess it within the allotted time).  There aren’t words to describe how much fun we had.  In fact, Darrel told me at church the next day that he doesn’t think he’s laughed that much in years!

In the spirit of responsible reporting, I must let you know the men won “Catch Phrase” 3 games to 2.  I know the old saying, “You had to be there” might apply; but some of the funny quotes of the night include:

  • While playing “Oh, Really” and ranking the 5 items I asked Darrell quizzically, “What is plastic more important than?”  He replied, “HUGS!”
  • Jan to Jeff after a round of “Oh, Really” that included the word LISTENING, “Good job on the listening!”  Jeff’s reply to the group, “That’s the only time you’ll hear that!”
  • Jan to Jeff after a poorly played round of “Oh, Really,” “You put soap at the top?  Before self-esteem and freedom of speech?” Jeff’s reply, “Yup.  Hope and soap!”
  • An “Oh, Really” exchange between Rena and Don.  Rena, “Diamonds?”  Don’s reply, “Wood.”
  • During “Catch Phrase” Don got a cramp in his leg.  Rena handed him a glass of water, to which he replied, “It’s not a fire!”

I am still giggling about some of the quotes above and I hope everyone else who played with me is still giggling as well.  It was heart-healthy to do all that laughing.  If what they say is true, that “Laughter IS the best medicine,” then I should be immune to sickness for all of 2013!!!!


Lemon Filled Lavender Shortbread Cookies

Meal type Dessert


Lavender Shortbread

  • 1 cup butter (at room temperature, (2 sticks))
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dried culinary lavendar
  • 1/4 cup white sparkling sugar (for sprinkling on shortbread before baking)

Lemon Filling

  • 1/4 cup butter (at room temperature, (1/2 stick))
  • 4oz cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 lemon (zest and juice)


Adapted from www.fromcalculustocupcakes.com/lemon-filled-lavender-shortbread-cookies. The author of From Calculus to Cupcakes recommends baking the shortbread one sheet at a time and I concur.  I tried using both racks of my oven simultaneously and the cookies were not nearly as uniform.  Take the extra time for a much better result!!!!


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking liner.
3. Cream together butter and sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy - 3 to 5 minutes.
4. Add flour, salt and lavender and mix until thoroughly combined and batter sticks together well.
5. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough until approximately 1/4 inch thick.
6. Cut with fluted heart shaped cookie cutters (or cutters of your choice - keep in mind that the finished product will have two cookies and filling, so you may not want to cut them too big) and place on prepared cookie sheets. Dough may be soft and you may have to use a spatula to transfer the cookies without altering their shape.
7. Sprinkle each cookie with white sparkling sugar and press VERY lightly into surface, taking care not to change the shape of the cookie.
8. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, just until the edges begin to turn golden.
9. Allow shortbread to cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheet and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Lemon Filling
10. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed with a paddle attachment until well combined and fluffy.
11. Pipe or spread filling on the non-sugar side of a shortbread and top with another shortbread (sugar side up).
Eat and Enjoy!
12. Serve immediately. Can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days or for a few weeks in the freezer. They taste best if you allow them to come to room temperature before eating.

3 thoughts on “Hope & Soap

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