I have been looking forward to this week for a while.  Two of my grandchildren are staying with me for several days; we plan to attend Vacation Bible School at my church. Vivian and Liam are both seven years old; each of them just completed first grade.  I wanted to include Lincoln, who is four days older than Liam, but he is on vacation with family and unable to be here.  I still find it amusing that all three of my children have a child going into second grade.

Vacation Bible School, also known as VBS, has been a part of my life since childhood.  I can’t say I have been involved with it every year; however, I can state that there aren’t too many years that were unaffected by VBS in one way or another.  As a child, I was a regular attendee, and several of those summers I went to more than one church’s version of the seasonal event.

The hours of each session were filled with lessons, memory verses, missionary stories, crafts, songs, and refreshments.  For the most part, our snacks consisted of Kool-Aid and cookies.  Quite often, the cookies were of the sandwich variety – the ones with a chocolate wafer on one side and a vanilla one on the other, and a sugary filling in the middle.  I could usually find someone to trade their vanilla side for my chocolate side since I was allergic to chocolate.  In those days, people were not so attuned to allergens as they are now.

One of my favorite parts of VBS was the music.  I can still recall several of the songs I learned all those years ago.  I enjoyed the slides from different missions and hearing how people lived in different parts of the world.  Nowadays, things are much more high tech, with videos instead of slides.

Craft time was another favorite for me.   I remember several of the ones we made that turned out well.  I can’t remember how old I was the year we created decoupaged wooden plaques, probably late elementary.   We made them in stages – distressing the edges with a hammer, staining them, gluing on a picture cut from a magazine, and then brushing on the finishing coat.  The image I had chosen was old-fashioned looking and consisted of two girls with flowers.  Unfortunately, the colors ran together as it was drying.  One of the ladies in charge of crafts noticed this and decided to replace my picture with another one after our class departed the room.  The only scene left that would fit my board was of a cowboy leaning on a fence smoking a cigarette.  Imagine my dismay when we picked up our crafts after the closing program!

As an adult, I have worked in a lot of areas during VBS, everything from nursery duty all the way up to being one of the directors.  I am sure that my children remember their Vacation Bible School sessions, whether fondly or not.  Maybe they remember their frantic mother trying to make sure there were enough craft items prepared, cookies baked, or lessons studied, plus kids cleaned up and ready for their own VBS experience.

Now I am getting to experience Vacation Bible School with the third generation, although it isn’t the first time.  I took Maggie, now thirteen, when she lived in the area.  Maybe I will feel like my grandmother did when she was working in VBS the years her grandchildren were there.

The theme of VBS this week is “Time Lab, Discovering Jesus from Eternity Past to Eternity Future.”  I feel almost like I am a part of a time lab, remembering past years of Vacation Bible School, taking my grandchildren in the present, and hoping that the VBS experience is part of many years to come.

Since we celebrate Independence Day on Wednesday of next week, I chose recipes with that in mind.  I realized if they were in next week’s column, it would be too late to use them for a July 4th event.


Tangy Cabbage Salad

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon dry mustard

1 (10-ounce)package finely shredded cabbage (about 4 cups)

1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

Whisk together first 9 ingredients until blended.

Place cabbage in a large bowl.  Drizzle with dressing.  Mix well.  Add tomatoes and toss gently to coat.  May be served immediately but flavors blend better if salad is chilled at least 2 hours.


Red, Pasta, and Blue Salad

1 (16-ounce) box mini farfalle pasta (mini bow ties)

1 (16-ounce) bottle red raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing

1 large cucumber, peeled

1 pint fresh blueberries

2 (6-ounce) containers fresh red raspberries

Cook pasta in salted water, according to package directions.  (The pasta should be “al dente” – it should offer resistance when bitten, but be cooked through.)  Drain pasta and place in large bowl.

Pour salad dressing over pasta and toss well.

Slice cucumber into 1/4-inch rounds and cut each round into fourths (stack several slices and cut the whole stack at one time for faster preparation).

Wash blueberries and add to pasta along with cucumbers, tossing well.

Wash raspberries and gently stir into pasta mixture.  Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight to blend flavors.


Classic Red Potato Salad

3 pounds red potatoes, cleaned and cut into chunks

Water for cooking

3/4 teaspoon salt (add to water)

1 cup low-fat sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used salad dressing)

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon white vinegar

4 hard-cooked eggs, finely chopped

1/2 cup chopped dill pickle

3 celery ribs, chopped

2 green onions, chopped (I used 1/4 cup snipped fresh chives)

1 dash hot sauce

1 tablespoon dried dill weed (I used 1/4 cup snipped fresh dill, loosely packed)

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

salt and pepper to taste (I used 1/4 teaspoon of each)

Place the potatoes in a pot with enough water to cover.  Add 3/4 teaspoon salt.   Bring to a boil, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Drain, and transfer to a large bowl to cool.

In a medium bowl, mix the sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, eggs, pickle, celery, green onions, and hot sauce. Season with dill, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Pour over the potatoes, and gently toss to coat. Chill at least 3 hours in the refrigerator before serving.