Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Cup of Friendship

A favorite quote reminds me, "You cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop that makes it run over. So in a series of kindnesses, there is at last one which makes the heart run over."

The cup of friendship above celebrates the idea that the vessel of friendship can be filled by the smallest of gestures. A warm smile, an encouraging word, a token of thoughtfulness. And drop by drop, these acts of kindness fill the heart until it overflows.

I made the travel mugs pictured for friends I met during my husband's law school days in Lexington, Ky. Our group of five met at church and became fast friends. With three of our husbands in school, money was tight. But at least once a month we planned visits to tea rooms, historic homes and other area sites. One of my favorite outings was lunch on the grounds of a historic home. Under a canopy of trees we sat nibbling layered pea salad, strawberry soup, egg salad croissants and other dainty treats. The whole afternoon was a delightful experience, and even the rain shower that sent us running to the car with picnic supplies couldn't spoil our fun.

Although we enjoyed our times together, I don't think we fully appreciated the beauty and simplicity of that time of life. Or how once our paths diverged, our happy memories would help sustain us through more difficult days. Since those golden days for our fivesome, three of us have moved to different states. Two have felt the pain of infertility; one the challenges of raising a special needs child. Three of our mothers have battled cancer. And sadly, the last time the five of us were together, we gathered to bury a child.

So this fall, from my little corner of the world in Alabama, I'm sending a cup of friendship across the miles to those four special friends from long ago. And I hope that when each one discovers her little gift in the mailbox, she will smile remembering our times together. And when she faces the demands of her most trying, hectic days, I hope she will carry her travel mug with her. Maybe it can serve as a little reminder that even when we are on-the-go, we go with the love, support and prayers of all the friends we have met along the way. And remembering their kindnesses, our grateful hearts will overflow, thankful that we have been so blessed to call each other "friend."

Oh, Fill My Cup. Making a personalized travel mug might be a wonderful way to show a friend you care. Sites like Oriental Trading sell design-your-own travel mugs, sippy cups and sport bottles in bulk, making personalized cups a cost-effective option for party favors and gift giving.

To make a personalized cup, remove the paper insert from the travel mug. Use the insert as your liner pattern. Trace the insert onto the wrong side of the fabric with a fabric-marking pen. Decorator fabrics will probably be thick enough on their own, but you may need to adhere a fusible backing to lighter-weight fabrics to give them more body. Sew a decorative edge around the liner, and cut it out. Add a monogram for the finishing touch. If you don’t have an embroidery machine, you could probably add this detail inexpensively by finding a mom who runs a home-based monogramming business.

If you are making coffee inserts in bulk or prefer to work with paper, print monograms on colorful scrapbook paper. Then use the travel mug insert to lightly trace your pattern. Cut the liner out, and laminate it. Check package instructions for dish washing instructions for your new travel mug.

Let It Overflow. What could be better than receiving a personalized coffee cup? How about filling it with rich, frothy mocha punch? I discovered this recipe at a church bridal shower and thought it would be great for all kinds of gatherings -- college and teen devotionals, dinner group with my girlfriends, or even a surprise delivery to the moms waiting in carpool line. And now I'm so pleased to share this recipe with you!

Mocha Punch
6 cups water
1/2 cup Nestle Quick Instant Mix
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup instant coffee
1/2 gallon chocolate ice cream
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream
Whipped cream

Boil 6 cups of water, and remove from heat. Add ½ cup Nestle Quick Instant Mix, ½ cup sugar, ¼ cup instant coffee, and stir until dissolved. Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight. Thirty minutes before serving, add ½ gallon each of chocolate and vanilla ice cream into a punch bowl by scoopfuls. Pour the coffee mixture over the ice cream, and stir gently. Ladle into punch cups, and top with whipped cream.

To adapt the mocha punch recipe to serve it at home with friends, keep the coffee mixture in a pitcher in the refrigerator. Scoop ice cream into personalized travel mugs, and pour the coffee mixture over. Top with whipped cream, and garnish with a sprinkle of Nestle Quick.

Let It Overflow with Love. I treasure the new friendships that have formed through blogging. Although we may not know each other by face or by voice, we share an intimacy because we know each other by heart. I am so thankful that you are now a part of my journey, so I would like to send a cup of friendship your way. Leave me a comment on this post, and I will draw a name next Wednesday to receive a personalized travel mug.

"Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up" (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
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