Today I took the Balcony Girls to my friend’s home – a friend whom I have known for over 30 years.

Faye, a fun-loving, retired kindergarten teacher who is a great friend of mine, was there to greet us at the front door. She gave each girl a hug as we shuffled through the front door. I was so impressed by how each girl made eye contact with Faye, and introduced herself (some hugged, some shook hands).

The table was set and we quickly sat down for our BG lesson, peanut butter and jelly (my homemade raspberry/strawberry jam!) sandwiches – and our talk on hospitality.

Hospitality is a gift you give
I passed a small gift around the table, and as each girl passed it to the person on her right, I explained that hospitality is a gift you have (something tangible in their hands!) and a gift that you GIVE, as they passed it to the next girl. It’s a gift that is given in your home, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be in your home!

We then brainstormed different ideas for sharing hospitality, and discussed how you make your friends welcome as the host.

If you are the host
• Go out of your way to make friends feel comfortable.
• Look for new people to reach out to.
• Greet your guests at the front door.
• Clue your guest in on any house rules – like the mean dog, the parent’s room is off-limits, a certain bathroom that is for guests, etc.
• My Balcony Girls are great at this: they are flexible when choosing what to do. They most always agree on a game, especially toward the end of the group. They’ve learned to not wonder off but to stay a part of the group.
• Help your friends maneuver through the kitchen, offering snacks or a meal
• See your friend to the door when it’s time to leave .
• Mostly, make your friend feel welcome – like she is part of the family.

After three years of hanging out with the same group of girls, I can say that these girls are all awesome guests in my home! And I pointed that out to them, but we then took it a step further and talked about hospitality when you are the guest!

If you are the guest
• When you walk in, find out if there is a “no shoes” house rule, take your shoes and coat off and look around to where you should lay them. At my house, these girls know exactly where things go.
• Stick with your friend, not wandering around the house.
• Don’t go into the parent’s bedroom, unless you are with your friend and you are invited to go in.
• Don’t help yourself to snacks and food unless you’ve been given the invitation that the “kitchen is free-reign” (some homes work this way!)
• If you’ve made a mess, make sure and help clean it up before it’s time to go.
• Respect the belongings of others in the house. For instance, my girls know that my boys’ bedrooms are “off limits.” And of course, no snooping!
• Always a big hearty thank you is appreciated when leaving – and even a hug!

The girls each made their own dozen cherry tarts! What a fun idea for an upcoming Valentine’s Day celebration. You can put cream in first, and then a cherry on top, or just cherries. Faye made it easy for us – she had the balls of pie crust dough made and ready to go!

Mini Cherry Tarts
2 cans pie cherry filling
Mini muffin pans (or tart pan) – enough for 24
Pie crust :
1 ½ cup flour
½ tsp. salt
½ cup Crisco
2 T. butter

Blend all ingredients. Add ¼ – ½ cup cold water, blending small amount at a time. Set oven to 425.

Dough rolled into balls

Setting up different work stations

Faye explained how to use the rolling pin

And how to roll the dough, adding flour so it doesn’t stick

Then using a biscuit cutter, the tarts were cut

And placed in the pan

Cherries were spooned into each tart (1-2 depending on how much sauce), and baked 8-10 minutes (1 pan), or 12-15 minutes (all the pans at once)

While I helped Faye clean the kitchen, the girls played Apples to Apples in the living room. I got to talk with Faye about some very important issues going on in my life, and the girls had a blast in the other room. It was perfect. I’ve noticed as the girls are getting older, they are wanting more free time to connect with each other.

And then the tarts came out of the oven – and we packaged them up like this

And each girl got to take her dozen home with her!

Don’t forget to say, Thank You
Oh, and a very important comment that Faye made at the end of our lesson on hospitality was how important it is to say Thank You. She used the experience which she had with a scholarship program for students that she volunteers with, where she is part of the interview process. Students who are polite and express their appreciation just naturally seem more appealing and deserving. Now a girl most likely would not be denied a scholarship if she exhibited poor manners, but life is just so much nicer if we are all hospitable!

That was a great ending example for the girls! And I couldn’t be more grateful for Faye, and the hospitable time that she created for my Balcony Girls and me today!

By the way, I asked Faye if I could have the leftover pie dough, with this in mind for dinner last night!

And this comfort-food-goodness was devoured rather quickly by my family – Chicken potpie!

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