Saturday, August 17, 2019

Saturday Morning



I don't know about you, but I'm definitely getting the pre-Autumn feelings.  I worked outside yesterday (pulling more weeds) and I could just feel it in the air.  Even though it was warm-ish and a bit humid (like summer is), the lighting is different now.  Everywhere I worked I was already planning on what to do with certain areas once Fall came (where to put pumpkins and Mums).   It's always so interesting that God has put within us a "knowing" of what to do when and how to prepare for the next thing.

Out of all the seasons, Fall is my very bestest : ) season.  I absolutely love everything about it - the leaves, the cool temperatures, the pulling out the sweaters, the fire nights, the everything pumpkin thing that goes on.  I only wish it lasted longer because we all know that it means winter is right around the corner.  But I do like all the different seasons and I am glad to experience them all in such great contrast.

It has been a good homemaking week.  I got my work done (and then some) and that is always a good feeling.  I was motivated to work in the kitchen for a few days - laying down some tile in bottom cupboards to make it look cleaner and then I painted inside a cupboard to freshen that up.  I've using things up in the fridge so that I can begin making even more products from scratch.  This week I tried a new French dressing recipe for our salads and we thought it was quite good, so I'll share the recipe with you as well.  My husband loves French dressing so I knew that I had to have this around.  While looking for a recipe, this particular one kept coming up from different people so I'm not sure to whom I should be giving the credit to!  But it was good and it's the creamy type of dressing which we enjoy.  Here is the recipe for you to try if you'd like:

CREAMY FRENCH DRESSING

1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 small yellow onion, chopped (at the time I made this, I only had white onions but I can see where the yellow WOULD be better because the white is quite strong)
1 tsp. paprika (I used a little less)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Place all the ingredients into a blender and puree till smooth.  Store in the fridge and enjoy!!!!!!





The mornings have been a little humid but they have also been nice and cool so, of course, I want the windows open.  But with humidity, sometimes I've noticed that our house can get a bit stale, so the other day I did this:


I've done this before and like the results, so I thought it was time to do it again.  You just put baking soda in a bowl (I used a plastic bowl so that I could throw it away afterwards) and then add several drops of essential oil (I used lavender) and stir with a plastic spoon (so you can toss that too) until combined thoroughly.  Then just sprinkle this all over your carpet/area rug and let it sit for about 1/2 hour or longer if you want.  Vacuum it up and you have a fresher smelling carpet and the scent stays for several days.  Just a couple of thoughts:

*test a small area of your carpet first so that you know it won't harm it in any way
*try a little essential oil at first - I have a problem with thinking that more is better so I can overdo it sometimes
*keep your pets and children off the rug until you're finished - this is safe but since it does have essential oil in it, it will get on paws (the pets, that is) and they will try to lick it off and that is not safe and you don't want the kids to track this all over the place

Well, I think that is about it - nothing too exciting.  : )  Now on to a brand new day with brand new possibilities.   A morning walk perhaps?  Another new recipe to try?  More weeds to pull?  Yes, always!  Sewing?  Crafting?  I hope you can enjoy this new day.  Thank you for your visit because I really do appreciate it when you do.  God bless.   : )





Sunday, August 11, 2019

Good Sunday Afternoon

The Badlands of South Dakota - one of our favorite vacation destinations.  : )


A good Sabbath to all of you.  I didn't post last Sunday because our church had their yearly BBQ and lake baptisms.  What a special time together that is.  Young and old (and everything in between!).  : )

This Sunday we left church with enthusiasm and motivation in our hearts.  Such a good sermon on how God cares what we do and what we pursue and what we spend our time on.  He put the love for beauty into us and He loves it when we create things of beauty - in song, in crafting, in sewing, in reading, in gardening, in cooking/baking, in what we go out to see (like the Badlands above).  And we cannot do any of this if we are constantly sitting in front of the television, or our computers (I'm getting off as soon as I'm done with this! LOL), or in front of our goofy phones!  The time wasted in our lives is unbelievable.

While pastor was talking I thought a lot about homeschooling and how we did everything he was talking about - reading GOOD literature, discerning about what movies came into our home, went on lots of field trips, studied things that were of interest to us (birds, photography, art, astronomy, etc.).  We sketched and drew a lot.  We kept journals.  We watched the changes of the seasons.  And to this day, our son is still interested in all of that (and fortunately his wife is too because she, too, was homeschooled).  If you don't know by now, I'm definitely a proponent of homeschooling!!!!!  : )

But, even after that, my husband and I (being empty-nesters now) have to carry that on ourselves.  God truly wants us to get as much out of this life as we can and every day that passes by without some kind of creativity, some kind of filling our minds with what is good and moral and right, some kind of carrying out of using the gifts and talents our Lord has given, some kind of learning new things that just might be what we needed and without at least trying we would have never known, is a life being wasted.

I know that for some of us, there are definite physical limitations, but there is ALWAYS something we can do.  I know I've posted about this kind of thing over and over again, but it's SO important for a life well lived.  A few of us were standing around talking after service and we were saying that we have to tell pastor that his sermon definitely was motivating us because we were talking about quite a few ideas.  I believe it's that kind of enthusiasm, when prompted, is from God.  I really don't think He wants us to sit around all day playing "poor me" (and believe me, I have done this from time to time!) - He wants us to get up and get going!  If being joyful is what you aim for, there is nothing like getting up and out of yourself.  

I'm going to let you in on a little secret...............yesterday my husband and I went to the State Fair grounds and entered one of my penny rugs into the State Fair creative arts exhibits!!!  This is a first for me and I have to tell you that I'm a little excited about it.  : )   Growing up I used to be in 4-H and exhibited different things (I really can't even remember what they were but it was so fun!).  I was even talking to an elderly lady at church asking her if she had any creative activities/hobbies that she liked to do and she, too, was going to enter something at the State Fair!  I have to admit that standing in line yesterday with all these ladies who were holding on to the things they were going to enter was so much fun.  It felt so small-town.  You could tell they were all so proud of what they created and worked so hard on to prepare for this fair.

I think things like this keep us young and mobile and sharp.  I have a friend where we talk about this kind of thing once in a while.  She and I both go through times of where we'll be working on something and then something gets into our minds (I think it's the devil) and tells us that we're just wasting our time and it's of no use to anyone so why do it.  And I have to encourage you to not give into that lie!!!!!!  I have another friend that God gave the talent of painting and she does it beautifully and I have never heard her once say that she doesn't know why she's doing it.  She says time and time again that it's a gift of talent to her from God and that's where the joy of it all lies.  

We aren't robots.  We were created with minds that need/should be used every day, all day.  Yes, of course, rest when needed, but think and do!!!!!  Pray about it - ask God for Him to reveal to you what it is.  None of us are naturals at everything, but if you want to learn to paint, try it.  Go to classes to learn the basics.  Same with drawing.  Same with learning to play an instrument.  But go for it!!!!  Let today (or tomorrow depending where in the world you are reading this from) be the day.  Turn off the technology and do something.  Let's motivate and encourage each other in this.  God bless!!  : )


Saturday, August 10, 2019

Saturday Morning

I love that out of all the green, there is one flower.  : )


I guess there is really nothing too outstanding to post about this morning.  It's been a pretty average week.  It's cloudy right now with a chance of showers off and on (which, again, we need).  This time of year in the outdoors, it's pretty much just maintenance.  We're enjoying all the flowers in bloom.  I continue to write in my garden journal about what worked and what didn't and what to do in the Spring (Lord willing).  Things such as digging out some plants and putting them somewhere else because they are just too close to other plants.  There are some flowers that I'm really disappointed in.  When we bought them they were very showy, but now no blooms whatsoever and quite spindly. 

I've been baking a little - we especially had a couple of cool mornings where the windows could be wide open and that's when I like to take advantage of baking time.  The birthday cake earlier in the week, a loaf of bread mid-week, and cookies yesterday.  Hope you can take the time today to bake something for family or friends today!  

I continue to crochet "quilt" squares for the "quilt to give".  I heard about this idea on "Sewing with Nancy" where she used to have women on at the end of her sewing show telling everyone about any charitable giving ideas and this was one of them.  Of course she meant a "real" quilt made out of fabric, but I came up with the idea of crocheting (because I'm not a very good knitter) quilt squares in different colors and then put them together to look like a quilt.  Then, when finished, you give the quilt away to someone in need (women's shelter, nursing home, children's hospital, etc.).  

I bought fabric on-line for the very first time and it came early in the week.  I bought broadcloth for a blouse, medium-weight jersey for a dress, and lightweight denim for a skirt.  It's all laundered and pressed, the table is set up for cutting out the pieces and now I just have to get to it!  I have to admit that I am not a very good seamstress, but I SO want to be.  And I know that in order to be better I have to actually do it.  So I'm going to give it my best try.  I am going to take my time in this - measure twice, cut once.  Baste everything together first, then try it on.  Tweak it, baste it again, try it on again.  Until I get it right.

The reason I bought on-line was that it gives the definition of each fabric and what it is used for and because I don't know a lot about the different fabrics (and fabrics have changed over the years) I need that information.  When I walk into a fabric store I always get so overwhelmed by all the selections and I know that in the past I have bought fabric simply because I liked it but it was definitely wrong for the pattern selection and then just tossed the whole thing aside in frustration and used the fabric for other projects instead.  So.............hopefully, this time, I will get it right!!!

That's about it outside of the normal cooking and cleaning part of homemaking.  But they are just the extra curricular things that a homemaker can add to her day to bring some balance.  There has to be other things in our lives to enjoy and have fun with.  I hope you can find those things in your day as well.  Is there something that you used to enjoy doing?  Maybe you can try it again.  Or, is there something that you always wanted to try?  Maybe today can be the day.  It's what makes life interesting - you never know until you try.  : )

Thank you for dropping by.   God bless.



Thursday, August 8, 2019

A Hello and a New Recipe

The chalkboard in our "dining" space.  : )


Last Saturday morning and into the early afternoon, I had fun sitting in front of the computer and looking up all kinds of recipes.  I'm in that mode of wanting to cook even more things from scratch (but taste really good too!).  So, I took my list that I had made out a couple of years ago about what things NOT to buy, but make instead.  Here's the list:

*salad dressings - a lot of people already do this, but I'm determined - no more bottled dressing (except one for the pantry)
*ketchup - another thing that I used to do, but fell off - again, one bottled one for the pantry
*whipped cream - I never buy the fake stuff - whipping cream is only $1.29 for a pint and I get a lot of mileage out of that one pint - the cream has a pretty good shelf life
*cake flour - it's SO easy to buy this, but much more frugal to make - I mean to buy cake flour when most of my cake recipes just call for regular flour anyway doesn't make sense
*pancake syrup - we don't like real maple syrup anyway so making this is not only easy, it's fun and with great results!
*gravy mixes - putting together your own packets of flour seasoned with the right kinds of spices - easy!  
*coffee creamers - I really don't use creamers except for special times like holidays, but again they are very easy and tasty and no extra weird stuff
*dill dip seasoning - make your own seasoning packets!
*"cream-of" soup mixes - make a basic mix and then add the goodies later - I have only tried the mushroom soup and it has a really good flavor - I do, however, buy a few cans for the pantry

********A note about the pantry - I think it is wise to have certain go-to foods on our shelves (canned goods) for those moments when you need something quickly or you have to go without buying food for a while.  Remember how women used to "put food up" so they could eat from it for quite a while.  When I say that I make my own "from scratch" food, I'm saying that I have to make sure that I have the ingredients around to carry it out (which tends to be less expensive than actually buying the food item).  : )  I make sure that I have canned fruit, vegetables, meats, seafood, and tomato products along with certain soups and broths.

*bread dough/pizza dough - so fun to make in the bread machine and freeze it - always good homemade bread and crusts at a moments notice!
*salsa - this tastes so much fresher but again I keep a store-bought jar on the pantry shelf
*ice cream - I'm really having fun making the no-churn ice creams right now (which is the new recipe that I have for you)
*frosting - this is kind of a no-brainer- SO easy to make and SO much better tasting!!!
*any bakery items - cakes, cookies, pies, brownies - make them in your kitchen - smell up the house!!!
*pizza/taco seasoning mixes 
*applesauce - I keep a jar or two in the pantry but mostly I just buy the apples and make it - really smells good while cooking  : )
*flour tortillas - again, these taste amazing
*soups/broth - easy peasy and great for the freezer

...........and I know there are many more things that we can all make from scratch rather than buy.  In this time of rising grocery prices, it's important to do this.  This is one area where we have a little bit of control yet if we take the time to sit down, think things through, and make a plan.

On Monday, we had a wonderful time celebrating our daughter-in-law's birthday.  Our get-togethers usually consist of eating/talking, playing a game (SO glad she's a game player!), open gifts, then eat dessert.  I baked a cake for her and then I knew she liked coffee ice cream so I made:

NO-CHURN COFFEE ICE CREAM

2 cups heavy cream
1, 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
5 tsp. instant coffee dissolved in 2 1/2 tsp. water
2 tsp. vanilla extract

In a large bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks form.  Add dissolved coffee and condensed milk and vanilla extract to cream and mix well until all combined.  Pour this mixture into an airtight, freezer-proof container and freeze for 5-6 hours or overnight.

*Make sure you take this out of the freezer a little bit before serving so it softens slightly.

I told everyone that after I made this I took a spoon to taste it and I could have easily eaten it all right then and there - it was THAT good!!!!!!!!!!!  We all enjoyed it so much.  Hope you can give it a try!

That is it for today.  Thanks for stopping by and I hope you can begin to get into the kitchen and making your own mixes and products that you would normally have to buy.  I think you will get great satisfaction from it.  God bless!

Saturday, August 3, 2019

First Saturday In August

The August picture on our calendar.  Again, I just want to jump into the picture - talk to the man in the little buggy, walk down that dirt road, visit the homemaker in the farmhouse..........  : )


It has been a good week.  Almost every day was busy with things that I've wanted to do, have been putting off, and just needed to get done.  There WAS one day that seemed where I was just spinning my wheels and really nothing got done at all but it was one day so all was not lost.  : )  I always try to give God the glory for my days because I DO pray about these things - strength, energy, and motivation - and He does provide.  When I don't feel those things I think it's either because my lazy self kicks in and tend not to do anything, or sometimes I just need a little time to not do anything in order to feel better.  So I am thankful no matter what.  : )

I'm getting back to organization lately and realize the importance of organization in the home.  Here is a book that I've had for years and it's what really got me started on the road to improving in this area:


I haven't looked on-line to see if this in print anymore, but my mother-in-law bought this for me back in 1991 and I take it off the shelf quite often for some motivation and inspiration.  This book is what got me started to organize my kitchen.  Ever since I've organized the kitchen, it hasn't changed since because it works.  Things such as:

*designating a baking station - I can get in and out of the kitchen in about an hour (depending upon what I'm baking) because of being organized.  All my ingredients, bowls, measuring cups/spoons, mixer.........are all in one spot and within reach and in no time I can bake something and clean up in no time at all!
*designating a food prep area - cutting board, knives, bowls - all next to the sink for ease of cleaning fruits/vegetables, chopping........
*designating a cooking area next to the stove - all the spices, spoons for stirring, pans..........

You get the point.  It is one of the things that has made me love my kitchen.  Before I did this I was fighting it all the time.  Never remembering where anything was, nothing made sense so I made more steps for myself than necessary.

Another idea from this book that I did right away was storing under things in the bathroom!  Don't have a separate underwear drawer in your bedroom - keep them in the bathroom.  Doesn't that make sense?  I mean, we get out of the shower/bath so the undies are right there to put on!  : )

And, another idea that I use all the time..........don't have a linen closet.  Put the linens in the rooms that you will need them.  Every bedroom should have the sheets and pillowcases in that room - not off in a hallway somewhere in the house.  All the towels/washcloths should be in the bathroom(s) not somewhere else in the house.  All the kitchen linens should be in the kitchen.  Again, you understand what I'm saying.  SO much more efficient.  No time spent looking in a separate closet going through stuff to try and find the right thing for the right room.

It has been amazing that just these little things (and so much more!) have made such a difference in our home.

My next project is to organize my desk space better.  Right now, I haul out all the things that I need for bill-paying to the dining room table instead of using the "desk" I have - so, once again, I have pulled this book out and am going to try some of the ideas and see what I can come up with to make it work.  I love this kind of work - it makes me happy.  : )

A couple of days ago I rearranged our living/dining space once again.  I've done this before and we did like it so I'm not sure why I just didn't keep it this way, but my motivation for change this time was that this Fall we are going to have groups over and I need space to put them.  In the "old" way, our living room was separated from the dining room with a table and chair.  The new way uses both rooms as living space with the dining room table in the center of both.  Maybe you can see:

The dining table is now in the center of both rooms instead of having a separate dining room.

The old dining space is now a space for people to sit in.

This way we can utilize both rooms yet still be able to see and hear each other and because of this we could possibly have up to 14 people in these two rooms without feeling too crowded!  : )  I love thinking about things like this and trying to carry the plans out - I especially like it when it actually works out!!!  My husband doesn't mind because I do all the work myself so he just sits back and watches to see if it works or not (because if it doesn't work, I'm the one who has to put it all back to the way it was!).  Whew!  : o

Lastly, while I was moving things around, I was thinking about other people's homes and how I love to see how their homes tell us what they do, what they read, what things they have around them are important to them.  I encourage you to do this as well.  Keep things out that you're working on.  Keep books out that you're reading.  Make it YOUR home first, and then others will feel comfortable too.  I, personally, like to be organized and somewhat clean, but I also like it to be comfortable.  I've mentioned this in past posts, but there is no better compliment than to have someone curl up on my couch and take the blanket that I have to cover up with.  Or pick up a book or magazine and start looking through it, or going into the kitchen by themselves to get a another cup of coffee.  Actions like those mean that the person visiting is totally comfortable and relaxed and that is the best feeling for me. 

So I encourage you to keep your home clean and organized, but comfortable and inviting as well.  Scuffed up floors are good (as a matter of fact, I wouldn't have new floors if you paid me - LOL), well-worn furniture is great (it's more comfortable that way).  Keep what you're working on out in the open for you!  It's okay if someone drops by and you're embroidery or knitting or whatever is out - it's your home and you should be working on something enjoyable!  : )  Keep the books you're reading out so that you can sit down at any given time and pick up where you left off.  If someone drops in it's okay if your book is on the chair!  It can be moved.  Your home is your home and it shouldn't look like a stuffy showroom where everything is perfect.

I hope you have fun in your home today - even if it's just for you - give it your personality and others will be comfortable in it too.  Whatever this day holds - cleaning, organizing, baking, crafting, sewing, gardening.........give it your special touch.  Enjoy the process.  Don't hurry through it.  It will show.  : )

Thank you for dropping by!!!!  I appreciate all of you.  God bless.



Sunday, July 28, 2019

Sunday Afternoon

Pretty roadside bushes.  : )


A warm and humid day.  But cloudy and little rains off and on (which we need!).  I hope this finds you relaxing on a Sabbath Day.  I'm hoping you got up and went to church.  I'm hoping you have spent time in God's Word.  I'm hoping you have prayed.  Dr. Robert Jeffress had a good series on "Grace Living" last week where he's noticing that people, once saved, feel like they don't have to go to church anymore, don't have to read the Bible anymore, and don't have to pray anymore because they are living "under grace" and they can pretty much do what they want to now because Jesus will pardon them.  Um.  No.  Sorry.  The question would then be, are you sure you're saved if you don't have any desire to do what God would obviously want you to do?  

We attended a funeral service yesterday and it was the wish of the one who died to make sure that the service was all about Jesus and his love for him from the time he was a young man.  And it was.  So moving and the Gospel message was conveyed.  I thought about the service all day yesterday and I was praying that for those who were yet unsaved thought about it too.  I'm still praying that they will come to Jesus and be saved and live what life they have left in obedience to Him.

Which leads me to my post.  Legacy living.

Whenever I attend a funeral service (especially of someone you know is saved and know that they are in Heaven and meeting Jesus face-to-face) I tend to wonder what words will be spoken of me when my time comes.  What do we leave here on earth that will pass from generation to generation?  Are we teaching our children and grandchildren about Jesus or do we want to be the fun and popular mom who gives material things instead?  Does the church see us active and involved and loving and helpful, or do we just show up whenever we feel like it and then leave?  When we're out and about, do we exhibit love and care for others or do we lose our temper and behave inappropriately showing our not-so-good self when things go wrong?  Legacy living is more than about money or what we are going to physically pass on when we pass on.  That's very nice and generous if we can do that, but more so it's about who we've been while here on earth is what matters.  How we've helped, how we've acted, how we've behaved - the things that are caught more than taught.  

When I hear about someone like we did yesterday and all that they did throughout their life and how they lived an obedient life - a life well lived - it motivates me to want to do more.  Ideas start to flood in and I write them down and at least try to make some kind of plan.  And it isn't because it's all of a sudden about me, but it's the Holy Spirit helping to sort things through and motivating me to take those ideas and actually trying to carry them through to help others and make a difference.  When we do this, especially if you still have children at home or grandchildren around, they pick up on what you are doing.  They see.  You can take them with you while dropping food off at the food shelf.  They can shop with you, come home, and put hygiene kits together for the homeless shelter.  They can help cook a meal and come with you while dropping it off for someone in need.  They can see you pray with someone who is going through a difficult time.  SO many ways of being the hands and feet of Christ and passing that along to the next generation.  To me......that is legacy living.  And I think we underestimate it.  It's not only our family that is watching to see if we are living out the Christian life service, but everyone around is too.  Yesterday was a testimony about someone who chose to not let a moment go by without proclaiming the love of Jesus whether that was in word or deed.

So, with the upcoming week - how can we get out of ourselves and give of ourselves?  How can we be Jesus to someone?  How can we convey the message of the cross in our words and actions?  There are people who are thirsting and starving for something more and faith in Jesus Christ is it!  Maybe begin by brainstorming - write as many ideas down as you can think of.  Talk to people in your church and begin a group and get together to carry these out (sometimes I think we hesitate in doing anything because we think we have to go it alone).   Of course the motive has to be right - we are not to do anything if we're trying to put the focus on us.  So maybe the first thing to do is pray what God would have you to do - ask Him to help you in figuring out what needs to be done for others.  Then carry it through!  : )

Have a good upcoming week.  God bless.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

August To-Do's and Tea Party Themes

Wide open spaces - I love the prairies of the Midwest.  : )


Well, I thought I would give you the August to-do's today since next week is..........August!!!!!!  Can you believe it?  Fall is right around the corner and then we'll be talking holidays - it makes my head spin.  It goes so fast.   There aren't many things in August, but here they are:

*Check your water heater - clean around it, make sure it's in good working condition, call for an inspection if needed.
*Clean your grill - we've only used ours a couple of times but it does get dirty!!
*Clean your outdoor garbage cans - we had to do this yesterday!  With the icky garbage in them along with the hot weather - well, you can about imagine!  : (
*Clean out the garage - keep going through stuff and give things away - the garage shouldn't have more things in it than you house does!!!  My husband bought a large container to put at the end of our driveway and he will be going through all the lumber he accumulates along with other items that aren't good anymore.  Then there is a service that will come and pick it up.  It's a good thing.  : )
*Shop for any school supplies/clothing.  I'm an advocate for homeschooling so maybe this is the year?  : )
*Maintain your car(s).  Keep them clean inside and out.  Get them checked regularly.
*And, yes, start shopping for Christmas.  Keep a gift pantry and whenever you see good deals on items, buy them, and store them on a special shelf or closet area.  You will be able to pull a gift basket together for someone in no time!

That's it for August!!!  Not bad.  And not everything will apply to all of you.  Just do what you can and what your pocketbook will allow.  But we find that maintenance is the most important thing in anything.  When you maintain things they last longer and you will save money in the long run.

AUGUST TEA PARTY THEMES

*Decorate the outdoors with quilts spread out under the trees.
*Put sunflowers into pretty bottles or vases.
*Hang up pretty windsocks.
*Serve iced tea with poppy seed bread, gingerbread cookies, and peanut butter cookies.
*Play Handels water music.

Sounds lovely.  : )  If any of you are having any of these monthly tea parties, I would love to hear about it!!!!!!  

It has been a good week.  I prayed for strength, energy, and motivation to get things done around here, and those prayers were answered!  : )  I'm trying to get back into going through things and getting rid of stuff so I worked in our laundry area where there are a lot of shelves.  On those shelves we tend to put things there just because of lack of space somewhere else, or we put things there that we just don't want to deal with just now and it grows and grows.  And all it becomes is a huge dust-collector!  So, working from the top shelves down to the floor, I went through boxes.  What a chore but I got rid of a lot and re-organized the items that we wanted to keep.  I dusted and vacuumed.  It looks much better.  : )

Since it IS almost back-to-school time, remember to give your child(ren) memories that will last them a lifetime.

*go camping and explore -make it fun but a learning experience too.
*visit historical sites around your area/state.
*go on a picnic to the different parks in your area.
*go on nature walks - take notebooks/sketchbooks along to write notes on what you see and draw - it doesn't matter if you can't draw, just do it
*take the time and money to have a family vacation - with careful planning you can do this on very little.  Go somewhere new this year.  

Children grow up fast and when they reach the teen years it gets almost impossible to carve out this time together, so don't wait and hesitate on this.  

Lastly, I have another recipe that I wanted to share with you as well.  When I cook with frozen vegetables, I usually open a bag and use only a portion of it.  I close it back up and put it back in the freezer.  After a while I have all these bags of opened frozen vegetable bags that only have about a cup or two in them.  So I found a really good vegetable soup recipe that used up all the frozen vegetables I had - yippee!  : )  This recipe is very easy to put together and it's made from everything you have (or should have) in your pantry (that includes the pantry shelf and the fridge).  Here is goes:

EVERYDAY VEGETABLE SOUP

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup thinly sliced celery
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3, 14 oz. cans vegetable or chicken broth (I used chicken)
1, 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
8 cups mixed frozen vegetables such as carrots, peas, corn, green beans, etc.  

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.  Add onions, celery, and Italian seasoning along with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently till onions are translucent - 5 to 8 minutes.

Add the broth, tomatoes with the juice, tomato paste, and 3 cups of water to pot; bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Add the frozen vegetables to pot and return to a simmer.  Cook, uncovered, until vegetables are tender - another 20 to 25 minutes.  Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed.  Enjoy!!!!

*Let this cool before storing.  This makes a lot so I just divided it up into canning jars and put it in the fridge.  We've been enjoying it all week!  For longer storage, make sure the jars are freezer friendly and freeze it for another time.


A few pretty little cherry tomatoes off the vine.  I only did one tomato plant this year, but we've had quite a few so far.  So sweet - nothing like it.  : )

I think that's all I can come up with for today.  I hope you will all be able to enjoy the homes God gave you.  Remember to keep up the good work in doing it as if you are doing it for the Lord!!!  He owns everything we have so we need to be good stewards of it all.  : )  Be thankful, be busy, rest a little, read a little, get outdoors for a while.  Just use the day to the fullest.  Thank you for dropping by and visiting - I really appreciate all of you!!!!  God bless.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Encouragement for the Week Ahead

Cute little couple in the garden.   : )

This homemaker had thoughts this week about how the Lord is with us in everything, everyday.  How comforting it is to know that.   We are all such imperfect people yet Jesus loves us and cares for us in our love and care for others (especially with those under our roof).  Every morning during prayer time I find myself just yearning for every woman in every house around the world to be at the feet of Jesus in prayer.  For every woman in every house to open her Bible and glean the awesome words for her life - to really study it, to pour over it, to let it sink in.  Even imperfect as we all are, the work our Lord does within us on a daily basis can make all the difference in our lives and in the lives of our families which then extends to others.  

The reason I emphasize prayer and Bible study so much is because I've seen results - in my life and in the life of other women.  There is something about putting God first that He blesses.  And it's this that I encourage you in.  If we're not careful, left to our own, we can become a me-centered person rather quickly.  And that just doesn't work.  The Bible teaches us that we need to be God-centered and learn from Him lest we become "wise in our own eyes."  

May you take this upcoming week and give it the Lord.  Give Him the first fruits of your time.  He cares about absolutely every aspect of what you have going on this week.   Remember to thank Him - always.  If you don't know the Lord or have never asked Him into your life, let this moment - right now- be it for you.  Let your family see you give your life to Christ.  Let them see you read the Bible.  Let them hear you pray.  Every house needs a woman who loves the Lord in it.  No matter what the circumstances - you be the one to make the change that our homes in this world needs.  

Again, let's encourage one another in this.  It's not only important for this life, but in the life eternal.  God bless you and then be a blessing too.  : )




Saturday, July 20, 2019

Just a Few Recipes

Black-eyed Susan in my "prairie" garden.  : )

Well, yesterday I said that I would post a few recipes from my cooking/baking spree I've been on lately, so here it is!  : )  Again, I'm sorry for the lack of photos.  I guess when I'm hostess, the last thing on my mind is taking pictures of my food!!!!! LOL

MARY'S LASAGNE  (I'm making this my personal recipe)

First, make the sauce:

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. hamburger (please try to get grass-fed organic)
Salt and pepper

Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering.  Add the onions, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper.  Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add hamburger and cook, breaking the meat up and cook until no longer pink.  Drain.

Add:

2, 14 oz. cans of stewed tomatoes
1, 6 oz. can tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
1 Tbsp. dried basil

Stir well and simmer while you make the cheese mixture.  After simmering and ready to use, taste it - I found that I needed to add a bit more salt and a bit more sugar to balance the tomato flavor.  ALWAYS taste your food!!!!  : )

At this point you will also need to have:

12, no-boil lasagne noodles
4 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cheese mixture:

24 oz. carton of small-curd cottage cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
and a little more pepper

In a 9 x 13 baking pan (I used the foil pans so that I could make these ahead and freeze them) that has been sprayed with oil, layer:

*Spread 1 cup sauce on the bottom of the pan
*Lay 3, NO-COOK lasagne noodles on top of the sauce (I love these no-cook noodles)
*Spread 1/3 cup cottage cheese mixture on top of each noodle
*Top everything with 1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
*One more cup of sauce

You will need to repeat this layering two more times.
Top it with the last 3 noodles, remaining sauce, remaining 1 cup Mozzarella cheese and then lastly the 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.

To cook right away:

Cover the pan tightly with greased aluminum foil and place on a foil-lined baking sheet (for any spill-overs) and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Uncover and bake for another 25 - 35 minutes until spotty brown and bubbly around the edges.  Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

To freeze first and then bake:

Do not bake after assembling, but cover the top of the pan with plastic wrap and then tightly with aluminum foil.  Freeze.

Before baking, take the lasagne out of the freezer a day before cooking, take the plastic wrap off but put the foil back on.  Put on foil-lined baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree oven for 1 hour or till heated through and then for 15 minutes more uncovered. *  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

*When it came to putting this into the oven, I found that even though I took the pans out of the freezer a whole day in advance, they were STILL frozen!!!!  With the advice of my sisters, I put the pans in the oven anyway (still frozen) and baked them.  I found that I needed a bit more time than the 1 hour and 15 minutes.  So.......you may want to check your pans and see if they are indeed thawed first.  But like everyone said - if you buy frozen lasagne from the store, the directions say you can bake from frozen, so it was all fine.  Just a panic moment for a while!!!  : )

We all agreed that lasagne is not something that any of us do on a regular basis because it is a dish that requires a good deal of time and prep, but I think that it's totally worth it for those times when you want to serve something a bit special.  I can't remember if I told you yesterday that I took 3 days (mornings) to make 3 lasagnes.  When I broke it up like that it was very do-able.  I hope you can try this and let me know what you think.  : )

The other recipe I wanted to share was:

LEFTOVER CINNAMON ROLL FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE

8 large frosted cinnamon rolls cut into 1-inch pieces
8 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups of milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup white sugar

Grease a 9 x 13 pan and set aside.
Place the cut cinnamon rolls into a large bowl.
Whisk the eggs, milk, vanilla, spice, and sugar and pour over the rolls and stir until rolls are coated completely.
Pour all of this into your 9 x 13 pan, spreading it evenly and pushing it down slightly to compress.  Cover with foil and place in the fridge overnight.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the pan in the oven and bake, covered, for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue baking for another 25 minutes or till center of casserole is cooked (mine took a bit longer).
Remove, cool slightly, slice and serve!!!!

This really did taste so good.  I'm going to try to remember this one for Easter or Christmas morning brunch.  Just serve with a good breakfast meat, fresh fruit, juice, and coffee and you've got yourself a hit!!!!  : )

And, still another recipe:

FRESH ORANGE SMOOTHIES

*4 fresh oranges, peeled and divided into segments (no seeds!)
*2 cups of ice
*1/3 cup milk (I used regular but the recipe said any kind would do - soy, coconut, etc.)
*1 - 2 Tbsp. honey (I used 2)
*1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine all of the above in a blender, and blend till smooth.  Taste to see if you need any more sweetener or vanilla.  Very refreshing!

Lastly:

STRAWBERRY JAM (lots of fresh organic strawberries at the store now)

2 cups fresh strawberries (cleaned, hulled, and chopped)
1 cup sugar (or less if you want - experiment with it to find out)

Place strawberries and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat.
Stir until sugar is melted and berry juices start to release.
Continue to stir intermittently to avoid scorching.
Bring to a boil
Continue to cook for 5 minutes at a boil, stirring often so that it doesn't boil over - you DON't want this to boil over!  What a mess!!!*
Remove from heat and pour into heat proof jars.  Let cool and enjoy!!!!

*One way of knowing if your jam is ready to take from the heat is to, ahead of time, put a small plate into the freezer.  When cooking time is up, just put a spoon-full of jam on the cold plate and run your finger through it.  If the the line you make fills back in, it needs more cooking.  If the line you make remains a line, it's done!!!  If you put your jam in freezer containers, this is excellent to keep around until you want/need some homemade jam for your toast, muffins, etc.  Hope you can try it!!!  Nothing easier to do.  : )

There.  I think those are the 4 recipes that I wanted to share with you from yesterday's post.  Thanks again for dropping in for a while.  Again, I would love to hear from you on any favorite recipes you might want to share with me as well.  Have a wonderful upcoming day (right now while typing it is VERY dark outside when it should be light - thunder in the background - so it looks like a storm!).  God bless you and your homemaking for this day.  



Friday, July 19, 2019

LOTS To Catch Up On!

The plantings are loving this HOT and HUMID weather that we've been having now for over a week - we're hoping it will break this weekend so that WE can love the outdoors again.  : )


It's been a long time since my last post.  Last week at this time we were waiting for the first group of family members for our get-together.  The second group pulled in around the supper hour.  : )  Everything went very well and we had a lot of fun together.  Lots of conversation, lots of laughing, and a few tears.   Good food, some games, and an outing for a few helped to pass the time.

Last week while getting the house and food ready, I realized how much I enjoy "playing" bed and breakfast.  There was something comforting about setting aside certain days of the week to tend to each room in the house.  Putting fresh bedding on and bringing out the "good" towels for each room (two siblings stayed with us, the others stayed in a hotel) to making sure their accommodations would be as comfortable as possible.  This, along with cooking and shopping for the food we were going to enjoy, rounded it all out.  

With all that said, I have been using this week to rest up from it all!!!!!!  : )  At the beginning of this week it was just a matter of laundering all the bedding and putting that back on, and light cleaning of each room again.  I was VERY surprised at how much food everyone DIDN'T eat!!!!  I am known to overdo on the food because I'm SO afraid of running out, but we really did (do) have a lot leftover.  But I will go through and tell you what I've been doing with it all.  With some of these things, I have photos, with others I don't - I always feel one should ALWAYS have photos to back things up with, but I've been keeping busy with it all (and other things) so I didn't always take the time.  Here we go:

*I made three pans of homemade Lasagne (one more than I should have, but two just didn't seem like enough for 11 people).  I am definitely a person who follows recipes and don't add or subtract from it, but I DID this time!!!  If you're like me, you have probably heard that we should NOT try anything new when it comes to entertaining - go with what is tried and true so that you KNOW it will work out.  So this was a daring move for me.  The other daring thing was combining the best of two recipes and creating my own from the two.  For someone who never does this, I was out of my comfort zone yet it all felt right and I'm glad I did it, because everyone really enjoyed it and it will be a recipe that I will call my own and use over and over again.  I did, however, have a pan leftover so I cut it up and froze individual portions that we will be able to enjoy throughout the rest of the summer!  : )  I will share this recipe with you tomorrow (this is one of those without photos to go with - sorry!).

*A fun thing that I did for Friday evening was to set out four S'Mores baskets - each one filled with all we needed, but there were only two that was hit hard and I totally agreed that these were favorites and something I will do again in the Fall when an outdoor fire actually feels good.  : o  The two favorites were:

-Graham cracker with a roasted marshmallow and a peanut butter cup that gets all melty.  Oh my goodness, it was SO good.

-And then I baked homemade chocolate chip cookies and used those instead of graham crackers.  So you put a roasted marshmallow and a chocolate bar in between the chewy chocolate chip cookies - THIS one was a favorite.  Yum doesn't even come close to what this tasted like.  LOL

The other two baskets I made weren't even touched because of the above two!!!!  I have a lot left over for this Fall (I need to have another gathering of some sort).  : )

*The chocolate chip cookies that didn't get all eaten up needed to have something done to them because I find they go stale quickly, so I put them all in the food processor to grind them up fine, added a little butter to them as a binder, a little sugar for added sweetness and put the mix in a pie plate (like a graham cracker crust) and filled it with frozen vanilla yogurt.  At first I was going to put my homemade fudge sauce on top, but I think it would be better to serve the fudge sauce WITH it so it runs down all pretty like.  : )




Now we have a fun, easy, summertime dessert in the freezer.  : )

*The other thing I did for the family staying with us is to buy things that a hotel would offer for a continental breakfast - small boxes of cereals, rolls, donuts, muffins, oranges, bananas, juice, milk, coffee.  I surely thought these things would be eaten up but we had SO much leftover.  Every morning this week, my husband and I have been eating some of these things up, but I had a whole platter of frosted cinnamon rolls that no one touched!  So I made a French Toast Casserole out them - so good and so easy to make and a wonderful way to use them up.  Again, I will post the recipe tomorrow.  : )

*I also had a lot of oranges leftover and towards the end of the week, I could see that I needed to use them up, so this morning (and tomorrow morning) I'm making Orange Julius for our breakfast smoothie.  Remember those?  They were all the rave (was it in the 80's or 90's?) and it still tasted good.  Bye, bye oranges!   Again, recipe tomorrow.  : )

*For our main meal on Saturday, I made up a fruit plate with watermelon, grapes, and strawberries and, again, I went a little overboard on buying and I had quite a few strawberries left so I made small batch strawberry jam.



I love the smell of jam cooking on the stove.  This tastes very good and fresh - maybe a bit sweeter than I like, but I'm not complaining.  Really good on bagels or English muffins with all those little holes in them to soak it up!  Yummmm...................

And, yes, you're right......recipe tomorrow.   : )

*So, the menu for our main meal was the Lasagne, fruit platter, Caesar salad, and breadsticks.  Again, I over estimated the amount of breadsticks so here is what I did with the leftovers for a meal one evening:

You cut each breadstick in half, put homemade pizza sauce on each half, cut up pepperoni into tiny pieces (or whatever you have on hand) and sprinkle that on top, then grate some Mozarella (or whatever cheese you have on hand) and put that on top.  Bake in a 400-degree oven for about 15 - 20 minutes or until hot and cheese is bubbly.

I seriously can't say enough about these.  They turned out SO good.  When I served them at the party (as normal breadsticks), I had brushed them with melted butter and then sprinkled them with a little garlic powder before baking so when I made these little pizzas, they already had that seasoning on them and it just made them better!!!!!  I hope you can try these.  This is something I would definitely make for a game night or any other casual get-together because they are something you can actually pick up and hold them.

So, as you can see, I had so much fun planning and getting ready for our get-together, enjoyed everyone while they were visiting, but even had fun after it was all over this week in trying new things.  : )

Here are some extra photos from the last week (not in any order -just random):

On the actual day of my birthday (the 3rd), my daughter-in-law surprised me with this lovely bouquet of flowers in the morning before she left for work.  I was telling her and my son that I was feeling a bit down this year, and this certainly helped me to feel loved and cared about.  : )

This is what I love when having people over - it makes my heart feel so good to know that someone is comfortable at my home - enough to just relax and fall asleep.  This is one of my brothers.  : )

And what's a family gathering without games?!!!!  It just makes it so much more fun - some weren't game players and that's okay but I have a special place in my heart for those who are!!!!!  : )  This is one of my sisters tossing the bean bag (I was her partner and we lost).  : (  LOL  In the background, a serious game of darts was going on.  : )

Fortunately the weather was very nice while everyone was here, but as soon as they left, we got a few storms!  It's REALLY hot today and we're expecting storms this evening.

Most of our plants are loving this heat - especially the herbs so I thought I'd better get some of them into the dehydrator yesterday.  I had a tray of rosemary, a tray of basil, a tray of lavender, and a tray of mint.  Oh.......it smelled good.  : )  I hung the rosemary and lavender up to use in potpourri, I used the mortar and pestle to grind the mint for tea, and I'm still waiting for the basil (I found it doesn't dry as quickly as the others).  It felt so good to just go out and pick these things.  Very homey.  : )  I'll need to keep up with this as I don't want any of these things to go to waste.

And this is something I've been wanting to do for years!!!  Make my own paper with dried flowers in it.  I finally couldn't stand it any longer and tried it yesterday.  So easy, but it takes a while to dry, so this is a fast and easy project that I could do every day if I wanted to (and I do want to).  I really liked the results.

Makes a nice, little notecard.  : )

Because I do not do well in heat and humidity, all of these indoor activities have been very pleasant to work on.  In my "down time" I've been doing some embroidery, quilting, and crocheting - those activities where you can sit and have a program (cooking shows in my case) going on in the background and just do it.  It's been rather nice.  : )

I do think that is all I wanted to share with you today.  I've missed chatting with you and I do hope you are all well and enjoying your homes this summer and doing some things that are enjoyable as well.  Thank you for dropping by for a visit - like I try to tell you - I enjoy it when you do!!!!!  God bless.







Sunday, July 7, 2019

Good Sunday Morning To You!

One of my favorites photos.   I love the clouds and rays of sun and the beautiful blue sky above it.


I thought I would pop in to see how all of you are doing and to say "hi".  : )  

Well, we have our major Summer holiday behind us - seriously can't believe THAT!  I had a very nice birthday on the 3rd this year with several e-mail greetings, flowers delivered, cards in the mail, a couple of phone calls with the birthday song sung to me, and our son and daughter-in-law with us in the evening.  In our area, the community right across the freeway has their fireworks display on the 3rd instead of the 4th so we found a new spot this year and we had it all to ourselves in which to view them.  It was kind of fun to "oooh" and "aaah" all by ourselves.  : )  We have it planned (Lord willing) to go there again next year (hoping no one else will think about this spot) but now we will bring chairs and snacks and be there a little earlier just to enjoy the evening.

I will still be on a blog break this week.  It will be a week of getting ready for a family birthday party with my side of the family coming over this way from out of state to celebrate.  We have three "big" birthdays - an 80th, a 30th, and 60th.  So I am very much looking forward to having everyone here.  

Yesterday I divided a piece of paper into days of the week and every single day has something to do in order to get ready (I'm just that kind of person).  : )  Everything from what food needs to be bought yet, to plugging certain things in to be ready, to what rooms need to be cleaned for those who will be staying with us, to what I need to cook and bake, to when to set things up, etc.............   For some this kind of thing is stressful, but for me I really do try to put myself in everyone's shoes and think about what would make their day.  What would please them.  How can I make them comfortable.  What would they enjoy eating.  What games can everyone play.  Hopefully I will remember to take a lot of photos so that I can share them with you next week.  : )  I love taking care of people and I love hospitality.

All of these things will have to be covered in prayer - from all plans to go well, to the safety of those who are arriving, even down to the weather and thinking of not-so-good weather plans!  I believe our Lord wants us to enjoy these times and I believe He's interested in the outcomes.  : )

So, until we meet again........I hope you can enjoy this upcoming week and that you, too, remember to daily lift your burdens, concerns, hopes, and plans up to the Lord as He directs your steps in it all.

God bless.