Wednesday, April 1, 2020

April To-Do's and Tea Party Idea

The next Rooster on our kitchen calendar for April.

Well.  Here we are.  April!  And we are to "distance" for another 30 days.  I can get really sad about that, but I have to be honest too - I'm willing to do what it takes to not get sick.  And I hope you will as well.  This is hard but we can do it so let's get busy with our April to-do's and even set up the tea table (for ourselves).  Here is the list (and it's a long one thank goodness!):

*inspect and adjust your window hardware especially if you have older windows
*tune up your lawnmower and clean it up if you didn't when putting it away in the Fall - fill your gas can up with gas
*prune appropriate trees/shrubs
*rake up the winter debris
*repair any walkway/driveway cracks
*store some of the heavy duty winter clothes and freshen up/wash/iron/Spring clothes
*remove storm windows and put the screens on - again, if you have older windows - and also begin cleaning windows!
*clean out the garage - take things out and sort through what you have and clean shelves and organize 
*put your garden furniture out - right now with the more mild temps that can be a blessing just to go out and sit!
*bring the garden hoses out - if you know that you won't have any more hard frosts
*clean the BBQ grill
*clean out any birdbaths/feeders
*start preparing your garden beds
*assess any Summer clothing needs
*plan Easter - I know this is difficult this year, but we have to celebrate our Risen Lord!!!!!!

My Easter menu is:
*Crockpot glazed ham
*Sweet potato casserole
*Green beans with bacon and caramelized onions
*Dinner rolls
*Fresh fruit
*Layered pudding dessert

Our plan (as of now), is to take some of this over to our son and his wife, hurry home where we can all "sit together" via face time and eat together.  Of course, nowadays plans change but I'll still make the above menu.  : )

Now for the April tea party idea.  Let's keep our home doings as festive as we can - it's okay to pamper yourself with this:

*Decorate with dyed eggs (or your plastic ones!) and ribbons of different Spring colors
*Serve your favorite tea in the prettiest teacup you have
*Serve pastel cupcakes with buttercream icing, sugar cookies with pastel buttercream icing, and fruit kabobs
*Play piano music in the background

Since this will be for yourself, choose a favorite magazine or book and sit by a window to look out of just like you would at a tearoom or coffee shop - or if you are experiencing nice warm weather, set up a little table outdoors!  When I do this, I will try to take photos of what I did.  : )

Yesterday when I heard about the 30 more days thing, I thought "okay, how can I turn this month into something positive (I mean, there's only so much cleaning we can do - although the above list will take a bit of time).  So I also remembered that it takes 30 days to develop a habit.  Well I worked on a notebook today that not only holds my household information and to-do's but I turned it into a "homeschool" notebook as well.  

I sat down and wrote down all the things that I'm interested in along with all the things that I could learn about in the next 30 days.  Things like:

*math (my weakness)
*reading about the history of clothing through the years
*working on sewing projects that I've been putting off
*learning about costume design and fashion
*using up fabric for quilt blocks and reading about the history of quilt design
*looking up famous artwork and the artists behind them
*take my sketch books outside and sketch again
*work on the crafts that I do have all the supplies for such as card-making, etc.
*listening to compositions and looking up the composers 
*look up all those words that I write down when reading for their definitions - they are kind of piling up on me!  : )
*look up biographies of my favorite authors
*try learning a new language - Spanish, Latin, Sign language
*when outdoors, collect things to look at under the microscope (that we've had since homeschooling years ago!) and make sketches of what they look like
*we collect rocks around here so I want to look them up and actually label them (using our field guides)
*taking our telescope outdoors at night and finding the constellations and looking at the moon
*learning more about the different plants we already have and what we plan to have

I'm pretty sure that should keep me busy this month!!!!!  : )  What kinds of things can you think of now that we're home that you might have the desire and time to learn and do?

There.  I think that's it for today.  I hope I have given you some ideas and maybe have motivated you in some way.  The time is going to pass anyway, so why not use it to keep our bodies and minds active?

Thank you SO much for dropping by because you know I appreciate it and I appreciate you!  God bless the rest of your week!!!!  : )

Monday, March 30, 2020

Just Me Checking In

Pretty.  : )

As I sit and look out my window, it is warm and sunny.  This past weekend brought much-needed rains (we could have had just a little more) that is helping to green things up a bit.  Today throughout my day as I was keeping busy and thinking, I once again wrote some of my Homemaker's Thoughts down to share with you.

*The first thing I was thinking was actually while I was putting my makeup on for the day and I wanted to encourage you to "keep up appearances."  I know that sometimes that saying is used in not so good a way, but I don't mean it that way.  What I mean is that at a time like this, I feel we need to keep our appearances up - clean skin, clean hair, putting makeup on, dressing well.......I believe in doing so we feel better in the midst of not feeling good about what's going on around us.  The way we treat ourselves when no one can see us says a lot about us.  Yes, this time we're going through makes us anxious, sad, depressed, but just getting ready as if you were going to work or someplace else important will help with those feelings.  

*Next, keeping busy.  This has helped me tremendously.  I've mentioned before that a couple of weeks ago were really bad for me and then I had a day last week, and the difference was in keeping busy.  I know that, when depressed, we don't even have the motivation or energy to do anything - I really do understand that.  So, with all of this said, give yourself permission to feel sad and do what you need to do.  For me sometimes it's just sitting or standing with a cup of coffee in my hands and look out the door or window and just not think.  I know some people get a little weird when you mention how much nature can help in how you feel - like we're forgetting the Creator of the creation!  Not me.  I KNOW who created all the things that I'm looking out at and I'm very thankful for it.

*Getting creative.  What I'm hoping is that now that we're all home, each of us will try our hand at something creative.  Something that maybe you've always wanted the time to do.  Getting "lost" in being creative is such a help for us mentally and emotionally.  And "if at first you don't succeed, try, try, again."  Don't expect perfection, just let it be a help to you right now.

*Do something that brings you comfort.  We all have our comfort things - for me it's having a pot of coffee on to fill the house with a wonderful aroma, it's having a book to pick up and read when I'm tired of the doing, it's a craft to work on while watching the same favorite DVD for the 100th time, and then working on the housework brings comfort as well (again, I'm a big believer that how we treat our homes says a lot about us - it shouldn't be clean and organized just when company comes over - it should be for you and your family too).  So, think of all the things that would comfort you right now.

One of my favorite things to do in the Spring is to write down all the different birds that are in our yard - here is a short list:

Redwing blackbirds
Mourning doves

And they all bring their own special songs with them - it has been a beautiful day so having windows open was such a treat as they all fly from tree to tree and then to the feeders and then to the ground - what an incredible gift they are.  They bring a sense of normal right now.  (Not to mention the funny squirrels and a cute little chipmunk).  : )

Well, supper is almost ready so I will leave for now.  I hope this has brought just a tiny little bit of encouragement to you because I know that I SO appreciate encouragement from you!  God bless you and thank you for dropping by.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Keeping The Home Fires Burning

Our "fireside hearth" right now.

As I look out the window now, it is windy, cloudy, chilly, rainy.   What it looks like on the outside kind of coincides with how we're pretty much feeling these days.  I think no matter how much we all want to keep our chins up and try to stay positive, having this worldwide epidemic over us like the dark clouds over us now brings an edge of sadness.

Our backyard right now.

Yesterday, while beautiful on the outside (a warm, bright, sunny day) I felt more like the rainy day that we're experiencing now.  I was so down.  Even sitting in the sunshine didn't help.  It just all felt so heavy.   Nothing is changing for the good.   A "this too shall pass" doesn't even seem to do it for me sometimes - and yesterday was that day.

Fortunately, today is a new day and keeping busy with positive things does seem to help.  We're called to keep the home fires burning as much as we possibly can.  I have the lights on in all the rooms and keeping the house quiet today to hear the raindrops on the windows and being in the kitchen to work with food that will have to sustain for ...............?  We turned the backyard lights on and the front porch light is already on for those who pass by.  Our neighbors have theirs on too.  I found my 4th of July flags and lined the front of our sidewalk with them that leads up to the house.  Finding ways to encourage each other and help each other (albeit from a distance) is important right now.

So far (because I'm hoping to get back into the kitchen to do more) this is what I've accomplished:

*cooked brown and long-grain rice for the freezer
*made our oatmeal packets for ease of preparation in the mornings
*made pizza seasoning mixes - something so easy (and yummy) as to make homemade crust, mix the seasoning with a can of tomato sauce, and add shredded cheese and bake till melty - simplicity at it's best
*made pancake mixes for ease of preparation - we eat pancakes for breakfast, lunch, and supper so having these around is a good thing - I also make pancake syrup so, again, very easy
*I bought onions this week but still had a few left so I cut up the few and sliced a few and bagged them all up for the freezer - a time saver when cooking to have the onions cut up

This afternoon I'm hoping to:

*make 3 different cookie doughs for the freezer - I'm finding I like just making the dough instead of actually baking the cookies and then freezing them because it's such a treat to take some dough out and bake the cookies on the spot so we can eat them warm from the oven : )

*make a cornbread mix to go with soup nights

*make a couple of cake mixes for the pantry for ease of preparation when the "need" for a cake might come up  ; )

I'm pretty sure that's about all I can do today.  I was doing a little Depression Era Cooking reading and it was saying that having dessert at mealtime was extremely important - it made them feel less deprived.  That's why you will find butterless, milkless, flourless, recipes around from that time.  And I agree with that.  Dessert seems extravagant so that's why I want to make the cookie doughs, and cake mixes, and I even bought some heavy whipping cream to make our homemade ice cream while we're going through this.  Just to hear a "mmmm............." is worth it.  : )

I'm definitely learning some lessons from being told to stay home:

*even though I'm an introvert, I need my dose of people time - or, maybe I should say that I don't like to be told when I can have that people time!

*I thought I was pretty thorough in my prayers, but have been convicted that I don't even think about praying for doctors, nurses, the medical community, emergency services, police, etc. that are putting their lives on the line right now.  I'm learning to pray now!

*I need diversions - I can't hear about what's going on all the time.  My husband gets impatient with me because his way of processing all of this is to talk about it.  Not me.  I don't need to hear all the details to know that this is serious - just having to be at home and not go out, I KNOW what I need to know about this.  So diversions are - reading, sewing, crafting, watching my favorite DVD's, cooking, cleaning..........

*this puts a whole new emphasis on gratitude and thankfulness for all we have.

*trying to remember all the things to not complain about once all of this is over.

And, I'm sure I will continue to add to this list.  But we seem to have short memories don't we?  When the going gets tough, we don't think we'll ever go back to grumbling and complaining - that we'll always be thankful and grateful............then things get back to normal and are good again, and we tend to fall back into the same grumbling and complaining.  I hope that doesn't happen this time.  

The next George Eliot book I'm reading - "The Mill on the Floss" - enjoying it!

Well, I think that's it for today.  Better get back into the kitchen and finish up.  : )  I hope all of you stay put, stay safe, stay healthy.  Thank you for dropping by - I appreciate you!!!!!!  God bless.

Cute little bunny.  : )

Thursday, March 26, 2020

A Hodgepodge of Thoughts

And yet, another past photo of the beautiful north shore - can you feel the warmth? this post is titled.......this will be quite the hodgepodge of thoughts from the past week.  This is the first time in a very long time that the whole world is experiencing the same thing and there are myriads of emotions right now.  Last week was my week of sadness about it all.  It's the unknown, it's the worry and fear, it's the aloneness - I think that THIS is the wonderful thing about all of us no matter where in the world we're from - we ALL experience the same kinds of feelings.  That's why it's SO important to stay in contact with someone via e-mails or other social media, letters/cards, phone calls, etc.  We all have the need to know that we're not alone in our feelings and "getting together" with others helps alleviate some of that.

I think you know me by now in that I believe with all my heart is that our greatest need is God and what I'm seeing and hearing about around the world is that this crisis we're going through right now is leading people to Christ!  And THAT deserves a HUGE praise and thanksgiving!!!!!!  My friend told me about the video showing Brazilians opening their windows and singing "Because He Lives, I Can Face Tomorrow" - how wonderful is THAT!!!!!!  I played it over and over again.  Please keep singing!

As I keep saying - one of my favorite pastors is Alistair Begg and someone asked him how he gets through crisis situations and he said to read hymnals!  Now, I really like the contemporary Christian music and listen to it often, but there really is something about the old hymns that reads like poetry.  I tried it and found one that I wanted to share with you (the words anyway):


Great King of nations, hear our prayer while at Thy feet we fall
And humbly with united cry to Thee for mercy call.
The guilt is ours, but grace is Thine; oh, turn us not away,
But hear us from Thy lofty throne and help us when we pray.

Our fathers' sins were manifold, and ours no less we own;
Yet wondrously from age to age Thy goodness hath been shown.
When dangers, like a stormy sea, beset our country round,
To Thee we looked, to Thee we cried, and help in Thee was found.

With one consent we meekly bow beneath Thy chas-t'ning hand
And, pouring forth confession meet, mourn with our mourning land.
With pitying eye behold our need as thus we lift our prayer;
Correct us with Thy judgments, Lord, then let Thy mercy spare.  Amen.

Seriously.  This is definitely what our daily prayer should look like and sound like!!!!  We HAVE to remember that God is Holy and that what havoc we create on His world will come to judgement - but He IS merciful and hears our cries but we have to humbly come before Him and ask.  Enough of getting God out of our public square.  Enough of getting God out of our schools.  Enough of doing whatever we want without Him.  Let's be bold and courageous for Christ.  : )

I know that you know about our Blessing Jar that we set up in our dining room at the first of the year - I was thinking that if you haven't set yours up yet that while we are all home it might be a good time to do it!  : )  I think we have the tendency to think of all the bad stuff and fears and worries, but now is a great time to think of ALL the blessings.  This would be a great lesson for the kids.  Some blessings might look like:

*being able to face time friends and family
*still having nice hot showers in the morning
*God's provision of food and clothes and shelter
*having time to read and work on some projects around the house
*talking on the phone with loved ones
*having time to reach out to others with letters and cards
*what are you thankful for?

One way that I'm "coping" with all of this is to keep the lights on especially on cloudy days.  I know we'll literally pay for it in our bill, but I'm a person who needs light and this definitely helps in how I feel.  In the evening we turn our string of yard lights on in the back to brighten up the night - I know a lot of people on our block are turning their front porch lights on early to show some kind of solidarity and unity which looks really nice.

The other thing I'm trying to do is stream "happy" classical music throughout the house.  There is something about it that helps me to get my work done with some motivation.  : )  Last week was NOT a good week for me - all of this just kind of hit me and fear and worry crept in, so the Lord is definitely helping me this week.

The last thing I did was to put up all my Easter/Spring decorations.  I decorated the front porch a little and inside with a few cheery things.  I know that this Easter will be SO very different and strange in knowing that we won't be going to church (only viewing on-line) and we won't be gathering with family, but I needed the Spring decorations up to give some kind of normal.  I have a ham in the freezer and have thought through what I'll be making - even though it's just the two of us.  What we will have to do is "sit down together" with our son and his wife through face time and just REALLY be grateful for THAT!!!!!!

I'm looking at those canned goods on our shelves and yesterday looked on-line for recipes on what to make from them so that they taste better.  I have never liked canned vegetables - I just can't open a can, plop it in a pan to warm them up and eat them.  Ick.  : (  I am grateful for them of course but I needed some recipes to use them in another way.  I found some so I'll let you know how it goes.  : )   If you have any ideas, PLEASE let me know!!!!!

I also found "recipes" for homemade Vick's rub and homemade sanitizing wipes that I want to make today.  Again, I'll let you know how they turned out.  One update on the homemade shampoo that I posted about a while ago - I found I cannot use it on a daily basis - there is just too much build up.  But I do still like it, so I use it probably once or twice a week instead.

Well, like I said this was certainly a variety of things but hopefully it was a help in some way.   Let's keep encouraging each other through this very strange time and use the time well for our own sake and the sake of others.  Focus on the Lord first, keep in touch with others, take care of yourselves.  

God bless you and I'll try to write things down as they come to me and hopefully "see" you on Saturday!!!  Thank you for taking the time to visit - I do appreciate it.

Little basket of eggs by the front door

an Easter tree on the dining room table

a little floral arrangement in an old sugar bowl

our "Happy Easter" blocks on a shelf

another little arrangement in an old teacup.

I didn't take a photo of the porch yet but maybe by Saturday's post.  Not much, but something.  : )


Saturday, March 21, 2020

A Quiet Saturday Morning

More pretty flowers.  : ) are all of you doing?  I think for me, the first time I wake up in the morning is the hardest.  Hard because I know that nothing has changed.  Still can't go anywhere.  Still can't see anyone.  It's just......hard.

But this morning in my prayer time and Bible study, the Lord brought something to mind.  If you've read anything about what the pioneers went through coming out west and settling in territories where you didn't see another human being for miles and miles and miles....leaving your family and friends behind and didn't know whether or not you'd see them again.....building a house in the middle of nowhere and living through the long, lonely winters on the prairie, with nothing or very little.....well, we don't have any of that!

We need to stop and think - we live with people all around us (yes, there is the social distancing right now, but still we have people around us).  In our homes we have radios, television, smart phones, computers...........the ability to watch what we want to watch, call people we know, e-mail each other, have "face time" on our computers.  We all have cars and can get in them and just drive around if we feel the need to get out.  If we get snowed in we have snowblowers and shovels and the city we live in will come and dig us out.  We have our hobbies, we have magazines and books to read.  We have food and can wash our clothes with ease.  Again I come back to the word - perspective.  We are a generation that has been SO used to having things our way that we just can't stand it when we're a little inconvenienced.  It's almost as if the Corona virus is not the issue anymore.  It's the lack of freedom.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm feeling a bit claustrophobic right now and going a little stir-crazy but I HAVE to get myself back to the point of thinking of how much we have in the midst of all of this!  What I'm hoping is that everyone (including myself) will learn:

*that we have SO much!!!!!
*that we won't be caught again without enough toilet paper  : )
*that we will constantly build our pantries and never again wait until there is a crisis situation
*that our families and friends are VERY important to us
*how little we really need to survive
*how not to take things (or people) for granted
*that we will take care of ourselves - be clean, be organized
*to be prepared
*what have you learned?

If we can just keep that pioneer family in our heads and compare us, and all that we have, to them who had literally nothing, we can do this!!!  : )

I prayed through Psalm 9 this morning and here are my notes:

*Pray for protection
*Pray for victory
*Pray for justice
*Pray for mercy
*Pray for refuge
*Pray for constant help
*Pray to be lifted up
*Pray for hope
*Pray for trust

Pretty timely, right?  : )  God bless you, your family, your day. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Dealing With The Changes

Raise your hand if you can't wait for this!  Blue sky, open water, green grass, leaves on the trees, and flowers blooming.  

Well, what we are going through right now seems to be constantly changing so my Sunday post of encouraging ideas seems a bit discouraging at this point.  Of course, not all of it is discouraging - but it's the getting together that isn't working right now, is it?

I had made plans to get together last night with our son and "daughter" but because of the social distancing we are all to put into practice we cancelled our St. Patrick's Day (evening).  I get it.  I understand.  And we plan on doing our part in all of this, but it doesn't mean that I like it.  I don't.  

I had mentioned today that after this is over I hope I will always be grateful for the freedom of moving around to wherever I want to go and whenever I want to go.  I love my home and I love being at home, but I also want others IN my home.  I know I'm not the only one feeling this way about now and unfortunately it's just the beginning.  But I go back to my post on Sunday and look at all the things that I CAN do and just get to work.

I've been spending time in the kitchen lately making more mixes and baking bread.  Yesterday I still made my Cabbage Soup, Irish Soda Bread, and Mint Brownies for our Irish meal and took a good portion of it over to our son and his wife.  So that felt good.  So very strange to just hand over a bag of food and promptly leave.  I told them that when it comes time where it's okay to hug each other again, they'll have to give me plenty of time because I'm missing a lot of hugs these days!!!!!  : )

I think there can be some positive things that can come from all of this.  I wrote some questions down for myself to think about and wanted to share them with you too:

*What do I take for granted that I am finding out about right now amidst this difficult time?
*What did we spend too much time and money on before that seems SO insignificant now?
*What did we think was REALLY important before, only to find out that none of it was REALLY important other than our faith, our health, our family, our friends?
*What do we fear most about all of this?  

Answering these questions helps me to put things into perspective.  Like my husband said the other day - if we have to go through a time of quarantine how nice it is to have a comfortable and cozy home, food on the shelves, clothes to wear, telephone and e-mails to keep in contact with those we care about........THAT'S perspective.  : )

This morning during prayer time and Bible study I came across multiple pages in my notebook taken during a difficult time in my life.  What I did during that time was read through the Book of Psalms only every day I took just one Psalm and wrote down all the things I was to pray about in regards to the words.  For instance:

*In Psalm 1 it speaks of blessing, delight, prosperity, and watchfulness.  So my notebook page looked like:

1.  Pray for blessing
2.  Pray for delight
3.  Pray for prosperity
4.  Pray for watchfulness

Psalm 2 looked like:

1.  Pray for wisdom
2.  Pray to serve the Lord with fear
3.  Pray to rejoice with trembling
4.  Pray to take refuge in Jesus and be blessed

Psalm 3 looked like:

1.  Pray for deliverance
2.  Pray for God to be a shield
3.  Pray that God would bestow His glory on me and be the lifter of my head
4.  Pray for answers
5.  Pray that the Lord would sustain me
6.  Pray to be without fear
7.  Pray for protection against the enemies
8.  Pray for blessing

And I know you get what I mean.  I'm so happy that I found these pages again, because I'm going to begin praying the Psalms during this difficult time.  The Psalms have been a help to so many during so much that I think it's appropriate once again.  I hope you can give this a try in your own Bible reading.  (I was amazed at how Psalm 3 was so timely for what we are going through right now - anyone who thinks that Bible is outdated and not relevant, has NEVER read the Bible!!!!!!)

Well, I think that is it for today - time to get to the kitchen and try to make those leftovers taste like they aren't leftovers.  LOL  God bless you and thank you for taking the time to drop by because I SO appreciate it when you do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  : ) 

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Just a Bit of Encouragement for the Week Ahead

A little up-north beauty again.  : )

I love it when someone encourages me.  I can get worried and afraid just like the next person and I need someone to talk me down from that.  This week, with all the talk of virus's and flu's and the toll it's taking, well............I wasn't in panic state, but things were going through my mind.  On Wednesday I posted the importance of preparing for death at any stage of life and the importance of being saved through faith in Jesus.  That, of course, hasn't changed.  So I wanted to give a little encouragement to you today.

It was one of my brothers that brought encouragement to me this past week.  He believes in the Lord and has walked faithfully along with his wonderful wife for years and he brings much calm when things get a little questionable.  And I'm grateful for that.  We all need our family and friends and our church at times like these.  We need to talk and get things out in the open and discuss and have voices of reason around us or our minds will go in all kinds of directions.  (Which means........stop watching the news!!!!!)

I mentioned the deaths of my two oldest brothers and I have three left who are very dear to me.  I am the youngest of nine (the others being three sisters).  They are very important to me and am SO blessed to have them in my life.  My husband once said that he is so surprised at how we all get along so well knowing what kind of upbringing we all had (which was on the dysfunctional side).  

So, here is my encouragement to you:

*Keep going.  Yesterday was a bit chilly but not so cold as to not go for a neighborhood walk.  While out, we noticed that there was no one out (and there usually is).  It's like, don't people know that they can go outdoors?  It was a bit odd and I didn't like the feeling of it.  Get outdoors!!!!!  Even if it's to sit in the sun for a while with a cup of hot tea.  If you have a nearby park, go to it.  This is especially important if you have children or grandchildren.  Don't assume they don't know what's going on and don't assume that they aren't afraid.  We need to stop talking about this and we need to keep going and we need to help them through this and one way is to enjoy nature with them.  Go for that walk.  Play at the playground.  Do a nature hunt with lists of what they should be looking for.  Get creative.

*Keep doing.  What is it that you enjoy doing?  Cooking, baking, crafting, organizing, sewing?  Keep doing these things.  Extracurricular activities help us to cope and get our minds off things if only for a while.  Get into the kitchen and do some baking - divide it up and bring some to the neighbors or, coworkers if your place of business is still open.  Cook ahead for the week.  But keep doing.  It's good for us.

*Keep planning.  Everyone is so unsure of the future right now.  How long will this last?  But even so, keep planning.  What were you planning?  Summer vacation?  Camping trip?  Get-together's with family or friends?  Home projects?  Gardens?  Don't stop doing this.  We all need something to look forward to and planning can, again, get our minds going in another direction that will bring a bit of "normal" to our lives.  Write things down - ideas of what to do, where to go, how to save up, etc.  Not everything we plan works out anyway so why not just do it?  Have fun with this.

These are just three areas that are do-able.  Other things might include watching funny programs - we love the old Dick Van Dyke shows.   This week we will celebrate St. Patrick's Day with our son and "daughter" by having an Irish meal and play games afterwards - don't forget to continue to celebrate in these times.  It's okay to have fun.  Or, the 1st Day of Spring is coming up this week - plan something for that!  

So, that is my encouragement for you all.  Of course, as with any cold/flu/virus, we need to continue to be diligent in our cleanliness (but, really, shouldn't we ALWAYS?).   Think of others - if you're not feeling well, stay away from other people.  Show your manners - I'm always saddened by the fact that something like this brings out the worst in people instead of the best sometimes.   Pray - President Trump issued a National Day of Prayer today so let's do it!!!!  "Cry out to the God who hears" is our theme at church this year.   So let's cry out!  Not just today but every day.  Because He DOES hear.  

What kinds of things do you do that keep you from becoming overwhelmed by circumstances that seem to be out of our control?  Sharing them with others is a wonderful way to encourage.  I'd love to hear!!!  : )  God bless.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

A Homemaker's Thought About What's Going On

".........and the heavens are the work of your hands."  Psalm 102:25

Yes, even homemakers have thoughts about what's going on in the world!  Yet I'm choosing to put a different slant on the panic.  This is not to say that I'm lessening the severity of the Corona outbreak - these are real people, with real families and with real friends who love them, that have died.  And it IS scary.  And it does give us all something to think about - and that thinking is about mortality.

None of us WANTS to die, do we?  But it IS the one thing we all have in common.  When we awaken every single morning getting ready for the day ahead, there isn't one of us who can say with certainty that we will make it through the day - Corona virus or not.  I'll give you a few personal examples of what I've experienced in my life:

*our family attended a wedding when I was in high school in my home town of a cousin and his bride.  Two weeks later we were in the same church only with the same bodies of my cousin and his bride in their caskets because, while on their honeymoon, they were both killed in a head-on collision.

*my oldest brother was a mechanic working on a truck at the shop.  Somehow, the owner of that truck thought that my brother was finished, turned the key, and drove over my brother and killed him.

*my brother-in-law was driving his semi-truck and was killed in a truck-train collision.

*my second oldest brother was diagnosed with cancer that filled his entire body and died.

*my nephew who was only in his 50's died of brain cancer.

And there are more.  All of the above family members didn't want to die the deaths they died - they didn't know ahead of time the tragedy of the accidents and disease that would take their lives.  And that is the way it is with us.  Every day on the news in our area it seems they find someone shot to death in their own home, or there has been a deadly car accident.  So, whether some of us contract the Corona virus or not, we all have to wake up to the fact that death is part of living.  And I believe the scary part is when we do not know where we will be in the hereafter.  Because their are only two places we will go..............either heaven to live with God forever, or hell where we will forever be separated from God.  I think THAT should be the panic.  

We are not little gods trying to fulfill our destiny here on earth.  We cannot choose our last day here on earth and nothing is going to save us except for our belief and faith in Jesus Christ.  He died so that we might live........forever.  Without Jesus, we are doomed and this is one area of our lives that we CANNOT wait to do something about because what if we have no time to wait?  What if today is our last day?  Without that decision to accept Jesus into our lives there is need for panic.  

I have often mentioned the importance of picking up your Bible and reading it and studying it.  The Bible is the inerrant Word of God - it is God-breathed.  It claims the promises of God and it teaches us over and over again from the Book of Genesis to the Book of Revelation that Jesus is The One that saves.  He was with God the Father in the beginning and He is the One who will return to judge the earth and those who choose not to believe that will be forever lost.  But:

*Jesus said - "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."  John 5:24

*Jesus said - "For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."  John 6:40

*Jesus said - "I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life."  John 6:47

*Jesus said - "I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death."  John 8:51

*Jesus said - "I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.............."  John 11:25 & 26

And there is SO much more!!!!!  If you don't know the Bible, I encourage you to buy one.  An ESV (English Standard Version) or NIV (New International Version) are good choices.  Now with shopping on-line, there is no excuse for you not to have a Bible.  If you are new to the Bible and don't know where to begin, I suggest starting with the Book of John.  But start today!!!  Don't wait and don't wait to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.  Then get into a good Bible teaching church.  There are many false churches and false shepherds who lead the people away from God instead of to Him, so please be discerning.  Also, I suggest that you listen to Alistair Begg on-line, or Charles Stanley.  They speak the truth from the Word of God - not adding to it, nor subtracting from it, as some religions do.  As a matter of fact, there is a warning from God in the Book of Revelation in regards to the adding to or taking away anything written in the Bible -

"I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book:  If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.  And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life........."  Revelation 22:18 and 19.

God is serious about this and He is serious about you.  He loves you and wants you to come to Him.  Now.  With everything that is going on in this world, it is not wise to wait.  Your life literally depends on it.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Brand New Saturday

Our new kitchen calendar this year is all about chickens - this is the one for March.  : )

Another week is gone and a new weekend has come.  I hope you can look back and see some kind of progress that you made within your homes.  I don't know about you, but I can always think that I should have done more rather than being okay with what I actually did get done.  For me, there never seems to be enough time in the day (or energy) to get it all done.

On Thursday, since it was such a cold, gray, blustery day, I took the day "off" and satisfied my creative side by getting into my tiny craft area and just worked on some paper projects.  I went through some things again and narrowing everything down.  It was just what I needed.  : )

So, now, for today I once again throughout the week wrote a few things down as I thought about them to share with you.  Not a lot, but maybe something will be helpful to you as well - maybe some encouragement, maybe some ideas you'd like to try, a couple of new (to me) recipes.................

*I spend quite a bit of time in the kitchen now that I try to cook everything from scratch and I really do know that I need to be better organized in this area because of what I said before about that when the weather becomes beautiful and we want to be outdoors more often I won't be able to do it all.  Something's gotta give and I don't want it to be the health and nutrition area of our lives.  So, yesterday I wrote down (again) the things I need to begin doing now as far as setting a day aside to just do a cooking marathon and get things into the freezer for the upcoming months.  I did this last year and it helped a lot.  Things such as:

-cooking batches of rice and putting them into freezer bags for easy meals
-cook bacon, sausage, and hamburger ahead of time and put them into freezer bags to just pull out when needed
-make hamburger patties and sausage patties for ease - just pull them out and plop them on the grill
-make muffins, cookies, and quick breads to freeze for that "little something" to add to the meals
-make mini-meatloaves to thaw and reheat or use in sandwiches
-of course, making pasta casseroles that freeze beautifully and are ready to pull out and bake

These are just a few things that I want to get working on.  I love to be organized in this area because it allows us time to do other things rather than quitting work an hour or two early just to get into the kitchen and do all the prep work and cooking.  Having said that, there ARE days where I really enjoy going into the kitchen and taking my time in the whole cooking process, but I also need to be prepared for when I DON'T feel that way!!!!  : )

*A while back I had mentioned that I don't cook anything new until the leftovers are all eaten up and that still is true (yesterday, as a matter of fact, was one of those days).  But I thought to take that a step further and say that we should treat the food in our homes, right now, as if it will be the last food we will see and use in a while.  While heating up leftovers, an episode of "Little House on the Prairie" came to mind.  In that episode the whole family, in their covered wagon, was coming back home after being away for several days and they were caught in a late snowstorm and had to take shelter in an old abandoned cabin.  Pa immediately asked Ma how much food they had left from their journey and she listed everything they had - a little stew, some bread, and a couple of other items.  Pa instinctively knew that this storm was going to last longer than they had provisions for so he set out to find a deer.  I won't go through the whole story, but it shows us that situations can arise where we won't be able to just go to the store when we feel like it and what we have left in our fridge, freezer, and pantry shelves will have to hold us until we can get out.  

So, it may not seem like a big deal to save every bit of leftovers but, in fact, it is!  What if those bits of leftovers are all we will have for a while?  It's a daunting thought.  I think those of us who live right down the street from all kinds of grocery stores don't think that we would ever come to that kind of a problem.  I mean now we have grocery delivery to our doors if we choose to do that.  But there is still the problem of emergencies - it's the emergency situations that we need to plan for.  It's great if nothing like that ever happens, but ...................

*When paying the bills this week (and I think I'm one of the very few who still gets paper bills and actually writes checks instead of the automatic withdrawal) I was thinking about how, at Christmas, I tried to write "Merry Christmas" on the back of the envelopes.  Well, the thought came back to me this week that I could write "Have a good day" on the back of the envelopes.  So that's what I'm doing as a way to maybe brighten someone's day.  Keeping that Christmas spirit through the year with just little things along the way may just be what someone needs.  What can you think of to do for someone today or this weekend or next week?  : )

*I showed you my flower press a while back.  On Thursday, while crafting, I came across some flower petals that I pressed last year so I made a SIMPLE card from them and wanted to show you -

nothing extraordinary, but just a fun and simple project - there are a LOT of petals left so I'll have to come up with another type of design!  : )

*I haven't taken a picture of it yet, but I'm trying to get back to decorating the bulletin board that hangs in our hallway.  Trying to decorate it for each month with all the things that go on in that particular month (March - clocks ahead, St. Patrick's Day, 1st Day of Spring).  It's a fun project that we used to do as a family while home-schooling and after that was done, I just kind of let it go and filled the bulletin board with photos instead.  So, I'm getting back to it again (just me which is sad but that's the way it goes - I can't ask my now-adult son if he'd like to come over to decorate the bulletin board with me!  LOL).  It is something that we can all enjoy though when we're together - just another "little something" to keep the house and home fun.  : )  Maybe you can give it a try?  Especially if you still have children (or grandchildren) around?

*I have a couple of recipes that I'd like to share again.  The first is:

NO-CHURN RASPBERRY RIPPLE ICE CREAM (sorry, no photos - I can't seem to get used to having my camera with me all the time and I don't have a fancy-pants phone!)

2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries (I used frozen)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine the raspberries and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to boil - simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes stirring until the raspberries have broken down and mixture has thickened.  Push the mixture through a sieve and discard seeds and pulp.  Allow this to cool.

Whip the heavy cream till almost stiff and then add the condensed milk and vanilla and continue to whip until stiff peaks.  Pour half of this into a pan and then dollop some of that raspberry goodness on top - swirl with a knife and then pour the last of the ice cream mixture on top and dollop again with leftover raspberry mixture and swirl again.

Cover with plastic wrap and then foil and freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight.  Oh my.  This is SO good!!!!!!  Another no-churn ice cream to add to my recipe box.  Hope you can try it.  : )


Package of ranch dressing mix (or make your own)
8 oz. package of cream cheese
Flour tortillas
Shredded cheddar
Cooked, chopped chicken
Cooked bacon
Chopped chives

Mix ranch dressing with cream cheese and spread on 4 flour tortillas.  Sprinkle with cheese, add chopped chicken, bacon, and chives and top with more cheese and top with another tortilla.  Bake in 350-degree oven till melty.  Cut into wedges and serve with extra Ranch dressing or BBQ sauce.  Tortilla chips and salsa along fruit finish this meal beautifully.  

this was a winner in our house - everyone really liked them and I hope you do too!!!!  : )

Well, I started this when there was just a glimmer of light in the eastern sky.  Now the sun is up and from what our forecast says, it's going to be a gorgeous weekend - in the 50's today, in the 60's tomorrow!!!!  That's amazing for around here.  So I bid you goodbye for now and I hope and pray that all of you can enjoy your day.  God bless and thank you for taking the time to drop by for a visit - I really do appreciate it.  

just showing off the Easter cactus again - it never fails to amaze me.  : )

Friday, February 28, 2020

Quite a Bit to Share Today

After re-potting, my Christmas Cactus is FINALLY getting lots of blooms on it.  : )

Well, here we are at the end of another week AND the end of another month!!!!!  I know I said this last year around this time but I think this year will be another year that will fly by.  But I am, however, looking forward to saying that it's Spring instead of Winter despite what it looks like outside.  This weekend we are to be in the 40's - bring out the shorts!!!!  : )

Once again, throughout the week, I kept writing things down that I thought about and wanted to share with you.  Some will probably be obvious, others being reminders, and hopefully something new will pop up.  : )  So, here we go:

*I had mentioned a while back that it's good to buy organic produce if you can and I buy organic produce only if we eat the whole thing.  What I failed to mention (and this is probably one of the obvious ones) is that even if you buy produce that you have to peel and won't be eating the whole, remember to still wash the outside of it!!! (avocados, grapefruit, oranges, etc.) Think of all those hands that handled that piece of fruit or vegetable before you got your hands on it and once the knife slices through it, those germs get inside.

*When getting ready the other morning I was reminded of how we should look at ourselves from all angles before calling it good.  That goes for makeup, hair, and clothes.  We should have a hand-held mirror that we can check the back and sides of ourselves to see if everything is okay.  This doesn't mean that we have to be a Narcissus but there have been times when I've been rushed and caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror at a store and said "whoops" - not good.  LOL

*A couple of health tips (again, I'm NOT a health care provider, I'm just saying what works for me - you would need to do your own research or do what you feel is best for you).  I have mentioned coconut oil - I have learned that this oil is a fat burner and since putting a Tbsp. in our oatmeal every morning, I have noticed that even though I may not be losing weight, I am losing body fat.  I actually have a figure again with a noticeable waistline!!!  : )

Next, throw the scale away!  As women we KNOW when we have gained weight and our clothes are what tells us.  The numbers on the scale fluctuate so much simply by gaining water weight through eating too much sodium or any number of ways of gaining.  Numbers can depress us.  I suggest to opt for a healthy lifestyle of exercise, eating foods that will help you and not harm you, and adapting healthy behaviors like good sleep, being careful what you watch and read, building relationships that build you up not tear you down.........I know that you know.  : )

Lastly, before you do or eat ANYTHING ask yourself if it's something you should be doing or eating or will you feel awful the next day if you comply to your craving.  For example, I used to have my favorite potato chips in the pantry (sour cream and onion) and whenever I needed something to chase the blues away or just got bored with other food, or I just............really wanted to eat them!  I KNEW what I was going to feel like after eating them (stomach problems, bad taste in my mouth afterwards, etc.) yet I GAVE IN.  I didn't stop to think.  So, I never have those in our house again to tempt me.  This goes with eating all junk food, or getting high fat/high calorie/high sodium take-out and eating it all, or drinking.  Whatever it is for you that gets you into trouble and makes you feel sad and depressed afterwards because you know it wasn't a wise choice, just stop and think first.

Once you begin eating healthy, your body really does get used to it and you will eventually find that the junk food you loved and craved will no longer taste good anymore - it will seem sweeter, saltier, and not as flavorful as it once did.  So, my encouragement for you is to begin by not bringing in those foods that you know are not good for you and will only make you feel awful.  And then begin the process of bringing into your home healthy foods that will take care of your mind and body.  It really DOES work.  : )

*I have been buying a product at Walmart for quite a while now and the product, more often than not, has been faulty.  I usually just toss it away but the other day I noticed the Walmart address on the product so I though that I would just send them examples of what is faulty and write a letter letting them know.  This is my thought and I don't know if many people do this very often and I think we should if we're spending our money on it.  The letter you send should be very polite however - it's not meant to vent your anger and be unkind, but I'm thinking that most of the time companies don't know if their product doesn't work or not and unless we tell them how are they to know?  So, instead of tossing it aside, speak up (nicely) and let them know.

*I just finished another George Eliot book (I'm always sad when I'm done but fortunately I have another one waiting).  : )  Before I read the other I'm going to change gears and go to another Grace Livingston Hill book that a friend recently gave me:

She is another favorite author of mine and have many of her books.  Here is a line from this particular book - "..............the house seemed less and less like a home, and more and more like a furniture display in a great department store.  There wasn't a thing in it that one could feel like loving and keeping."  You will find in GLH books that homemaking and homekeeping is important and she writes within her characters a sense of wanting that in their lives.  I'm looking forward to reading on!

Encouragement for you - get some really good books and begin reading!  Be careful and be wise in selecting and you will fill many hours of your life in a positive way.

*Another thing that I worked on this week is a garden notebook.  I went through the one that I have and pulled out all the articles that don't interest me anymore and organized what was left.  I wanted one that was more personalized and one that I could write in more often and keep decorating, so this is a very simple one that I started (nothing fancy!):

Very simple, very basic, but it feels more organized and there are so many more pages to fill with all kinds of things, articles, and information.  What I find is that I can get carried away in the Spring and plant things I know nothing about or too many of some, etc. - this really had me sitting down and thinking through what I really wanted to do.  Again, some of it is obvious to me but there were places that I had to make certain about and now it's on paper as a reminder (plus it was a good reason to use markers, and cut and paste).  : )

I think now comes the March to-do's and March tea party theme.  So amazing that it's March already.  March is such an in-between month especially for us in the northern climate where we still have snow and there really are no outdoor projects to work on as yet, so this to-do list is VERY small!!!!


*If you live in areas where you CAN actually do outdoor things, this is the month to clean your garden equipment and make sure that everything is in good working condition.

*Make homemade products - body and home - experiment and find what works for you and your home.  Have fun with this!!!!!

*I know Easter is in April this year, but some pre-planning is good.  Write down all the who's, what's, when's, and where's now and jot things down as you think of them.  Start pulling out your Spring/Easter decorations and pretty up your home.  Is there anything you can make?  I'm in need of some pretty Spring dinner napkins so I'll be making a trip to the fabric store soon.

*Keep up with decluttering!!!!!!!!!  Again, once the weather is nice and you won't feel like, or have the time to be indoors, use this winter time we have left to keep organizing and getting rid of stuff you don't use or need.  We're working towards Simplicity!  Using everything we have and loving everything we have.

That's it!  VERY easy.  


*Decorate with pots of shamrocks and float votive candles in pretty glassware and/or pretty bowls.
*Serve mint ice cream, shamrock sugar cookies, and some gingerbread.
*Play Irish music in the background.

I don't know about where you live, but around here St. Patrick's Day is a big deal (especially in the bars).  I pray that you don't succumb to that and that if you do celebrate (because it IS fun to celebrate) you will set an example to others that we, as Christians, can have a really good and fun time without alcohol.  

One idea is to invite family/friends over for a game night.  Set out lots of appetizers and non-alcoholic drinks and just have a fun and silly time over games.  Or watch a funny (and appropriate) movie - still serving food and beverages and sit around afterwards talking.  Make it meaningful and memorable.  Again, finding ways to celebrate silly holidays like this is very helpful in keeping life uplifting and fun since there is SO much serious stuff going on.  It helps to balance this life out a little.  

And I have a little give-away for you -

It's an appliqued cookie cover that I made for the month of March.  It's made out of felt and decorated (as you can see) with Shamrocks and buttons.  What you do is when you take a plate of cookies somewhere (church, school, etc.), just put a piece of plastic wrap on top of the cookies and put this cookie cover on top.  It just adds a bit of color and fun to your goodies.  This measure 13" across and it would have to be spot-cleaned.  So...........if you are someone who would enjoy this, just let me know in the comment section and I will assign numbers to your names and then draw a name/number next week and send it out to you!   (I'm sorry - this will be just for the U.S.)

Well.  I think I'm finally done.  I'm posting this on Friday instead of my usual Saturday morning because I have things to get to tomorrow and I need to begin early, so I hope you enjoyed this post and I hope you got a little something from it.  God bless you in your homemaking this weekend - remember to do something because something is ALWAYS better than nothing.  : )  See you later!