Thursday, June 23, 2022

Summer and Ideas To Go With It

 

To say our garden isn't doing very well is an understatement - only two radishes out of many planted!  They were tasty however.  LOL  : )


It's Summer!!  It's what we wait for isn't it?  We've had some hot days and today is no exception - lots of watering going on around here.  I'm grateful for a rain barrel but if it doesn't rain, it doesn't help!  It seems like almost everyone is letting their lawn go and just concentrating on the plantings, trees, and bushes.  We always see dollar signs flying out the window if a plant dies.  But then watering all the time makes for a high water bill, so..................?

The lettuce has bolted because of the heat, and something keeps getting into the potatoes during the night even though we have a cover over them!  The only things that are doing well are the tomatoes, herbs, and green beans.  Wow.  If we had to depend on the garden for survival, we won't survive for long!!!! : o

The other part of summer that gets a little difficult is the high cost of electricity.  My husband and I like a cool house so the air conditioning is on especially at night for a better sleep.  I'm trying to keep lights off as much as possible which is easier to do in the summer because of the nice long days.  It's wonderful to wake up at 5:00 a.m. and it's already getting light outside.  It energizes me.  : )  I'm also hanging out the laundry more because allergy season is gone and hanging laundry is a great energy saver.  With this heat it sure doesn't take long for everything to dry.  The only things I don't hang are the outer clothes - I do use the dryer for that but for a shorter amount of time.  

I have been keeping very busy.  Just keeping up with the household chores, cooking, managing, etc. - before I know it the week is gone.  I love going to bed at night and looking back on the day knowing that I got those things on my daily lists checked off.  Towards the end of the week like this, I prefer to have my housework done so that I can concentrate on more personal items like writing letters, sending cards, e-mailing, writing, stitching, Bible study.  We also have a couple of birthday parties to plan and then we throw the 4th of July in there!  Is anyone else but me surprised that we're talking 4th of July?  

After the 1st day of summer on June 21st, we joked that from now on the days will be getting shorter!  That's a "glass half empty" attitude, isn't it?  So we enjoy these days that are given us and keep busy and keep planning for a few fun things to do.  : )

When we were raising our son, one of my greatest joys was planning things to do and places to go.  I loved it.  I had file folders of ideas from which to choose.  There was one book that I went to time and time again for ideas:

I haven't looked to see if this is still in print, but if you have children/grandchildren I would highly recommend this book if you can find it.  I used it ALL the time as a springboard for ideas and activities.

Now, I know that this is really geared for families with younger children (I'd say up to 8th grade).  But I'm sure you could improvise - we made sure in our family that when our son got into high school we still did things as a family.  There is an A-Z section in this book that covers almost everything your family could do or get interested in doing.  There is another section that breaks the year down into month-by-month activities.  It promotes adventure and saving up for that one big trip.  I used the section where it encouraged us to have fun without spending a lot of money.  And so it goes.  I STILL take this book off the shelf and look at it from time to time.  Such great memories were made from this one book.  I hope you can find a copy and buy it for your own - like I said, even if you don't have children at home anymore it would be great for doing things with grandchildren!  Actually, when I've said in past posts that I want to keep learning as I get older, this book motivates me even with just my husband and I.  Or just myself in studying things that my husband might not be interested in.

I'm going to give a few ideas that we did over the summer months as a family and because we also homeschooled I took advantage of the learning opportunities that went along with it - and our son didn't even know he was learning - sneaky.  LOL  : )

*Camping - there is nothing like the great outdoors for learning all kinds of things!  Just how to set up camp is good to know.  Learning to cook outdoors is important (especially if the grid goes down or we have those rolling blackouts they keep talking about). There are a lots of trees, animals, bugs, stars, clouds, grasses, wild flowers, etc. to learn about.  Getting those small guidebooks to take with you while walking around helps to identify things.  Let your kids/grandkids take photos of everything.  

*For cost-saving ideas, look to your own area.  Go to parks and have picnics.  Get a fishing license and teach your kids how to fish (it can be catch and release).  Find local historical places to visit.  Are there any museums?  Remember, this is for the benefit of your kid/grandkids - you may think you're too busy or you, yourself, won't be interested in any of this - but this is for your family.  These kinds of things are important and sometimes you just have to do it whether you feel like it or not.  Believe me, once you get going you'll be having just as much fun and you'll be learning things too!

*Summer is a great time to learn manners.  I've said this before, but I'm dismayed at the young parents nowadays.  They aren't taking the time to teach manners.  Sometimes I feel bad for the teachers who are getting these little people in the Fall at school!!!

When you're camping you need manners.  You can't talk loudly at all hours of the day and night.  You  can't run through other people's campsites (believe me, it's been done).  You can't leave the bathroom/shower room dirty.  You can't leave the campsite dirty.  And so much more.  

When you are visiting historic sites or museums or anywhere else other people are going to be, you can't let your kids run wild.  It ruins the visit and experience for others.  Teach them to say "excuse me", "thank you", "please"..............

But, manners really begin at home.  If you don't enforce it there, you will have a hard time out in public.

*Plan your summer together.  Each person should have a say in what they would like to do.  Have someone write the ideas down, look at the calendar together and come up with a plan that will be fair for all.  That way you can begin budgeting and looking things up on-line or in any books you may have.  Actually, this is a good winter project so that once summer begins, you will know what you're going to do and where you're going to go.

*Always have a "Plan B" - things just have a way of not turning out whether it be the weather, or someone isn't feeling well, etc. - having another plan is a good idea.  Or, maybe even better.......this is a good lesson for the kids to learn that not everything does go as planned and we have to learn to be disappointed once in a while.  That is life and a good life lesson to learn.

*Have LOTS of summer reading.  Keep your kids/grandkids into books.  SO important.  They can range from storybooks, to books on researching a particular topic of interest, etc.  You read to them, they read to you, all of it.  Read, read, read.

*If you are taking a longer trip, remember the journey is just as important as the destination.  Look at the map and see what things are on the way.  Get out of the car often not only to stretch but to actually do something and see something.  For us, sometimes, a four-hour drive could easily turn into a six-hour drive because we took our time to get there!  And picnics along the way are great - time to burn off energy, get some fresh air, and it also tires the kids out so they take naps in the car!  : )

*Remember that what your interests are can build an interest in your kids and it can last a lifetime.  I've already said fishing and camping, but how about antiquing?  Maybe they will develop an interest in collecting something.  How about gardening?  They can easily grow things on their own to learn the responsibility of taking care of it.  Or, how about creative outlets - woodworking, stitchery, sewing, painting.......this is something that they can take into their adulthood and be a source of comfort and pride in knowing how to make something on their own.  Summer is a great time for these kinds of things but they need YOU to come along beside them and be their helpers.

*Use your own home and yard to have friends and neighbors over.  Hospitality is a wonderful thing to teach your children.  It can be very simple - a fire night with dessert, a game night, a movie night.  Whatever you like to do, I'm sure others will enjoy it as well.

These are just a few things that we have done as a family over the years and I hope you can grab hold of these ideas and try them out.  We look back on those times (and all those photos!) as the best times of our lives and don't regret for one moment the time, attention, and money spent that we put into it.  It's really, really, important.  Don't let the busy-ness of this life rob you of spending time together.  Say "no" once in a while to some of that stuff you busy yourself with or all those things you sign your kids up for.  I think we let others and other things take care of our kids instead of investing that time together as a family.  Maybe let this summer be the summer of change and see if it doesn't make a positive impact.

As for me and my personal time, this is how far I am on my cross stitch sampler:

This is my own design stitched on 14-count Aida - I've already made two mistakes (which I'm not going to point out, but that you can probably tell) but I'm not going to stop because of that.  I have a long ways to go yet and I'm enjoying every stitch.  : )

While stitching, I'm listening to Marcia Schuyler by Grace Livingston Hill.  I read the book years ago, so it's fun to have someone reading it to me!  I'm enjoying it.

And I always bring this out for one of my summer reads:

Every year that I read it, I find more in it.  Love it.

Well, it's getting close to the suppertime hour, so I will stop for now.  I'm so glad you stopped by for a visit - I appreciate it so much.  : )  What kinds of things are YOU doing to keep busy?  Take care and God bless your weekend ahead.  See you next time!







Monday, June 13, 2022

A Couple of Recipes, A Little Visit Away, and "Homesteading"

The first Peonies of the season - one of my favorite flowers.  : )


Hello ladies!  How are you doing these days?  I hope you can take a moment with a beverage of choice and humor me for a while as I share a few things with you.  : )

As the title of my post suggests I have a couple of recipes for you, we went back home (my home) for the weekend, and a bit of news from the "homestead".  : )  We woke up to a cloudy sky this morning with slight chances of severe weather but fortunately did not get that.  However, we got a little rain for a couple of hours and that was much needed but UNfortunately it wasn't enough to get down deep but I'm not going to complain - we'll take it!!!  : )  Now the sun is peeking out and the humidity is up so I'm doing the indoor work today.

About an hour ago I went out to look at everything in the gardens to see how it was coming along (one of my favorite things to do is go out and look at everything).  From vegetables to the flowers to the herbs.....things are coming along very nicely.  Early last week something got into one of our 5 gallon buckets and took the seed potatoes out, so I just replanted those - the other two have potatoes coming up already so I covered them back up with soil per the directions.  Isn't it exciting to plant something and see them come up?!  I love it.  That's where my term "homestead" came from.  Each time I go out to check on things, I feel like I'm a part of a little acreage that I can tend and grow things even though we are a first-ring suburb of a city.  Everything from working with the chicken wire to put around our plantings so the critters don't get to them, to actually putting seed into soil, to "fetching" water from the rain barrel to water some flowers with, to going to the little composter to put our scraps in, to picking things such as fresh herbs for my marinade for tomorrow to working with the flowers, to pulling the weeds..........all of it feels so special and natural and homey and right.  I feel deeply blessed for all of these little things.  I am in no way doing what a lot of people are doing and there are times when I feel I have NO idea WHAT I'm doing!!!  LOL  But that's part of it too, isn't it?  The researching, the actually doing it, the failures, the successes.  It means a great deal to me and I thank the Lord for it.  : )

Yesterday we returned from South Dakota after visiting with family since the death of my sister-in-law in April.  It was a 60th Anniversary for my sister and her husband so it was a happier time but we definitely felt the loss of my sister-in-law.  I went to my brother's home to visit with him before the party and their house felt empty and he was/is in his grief yet so it was emotional.  There were three cemeteries we needed to visit and hers was one of them.  It still felt unreal.  The second cemetery was of my mom and dad.  They've been gone for a few years now but the wishing they were still here comes back to me.  The third cemetery we went to was that of my nephew who died four years ago of brain cancer so that was difficult as well.  

While going out (it's a six hour drive from here) I was thinking of car trips and how much we enjoy them.  It's enjoying the journey that matters to us.  So many people have no patience for car trips but I love them.  I always have.  As in past posts I will share what I noticed along the way and what we did:

We saw:
*small towns - the kind you have to slow down for
*wide open spaces - there is nothing like getting out of the "city" and out in the country - I grew up with that and miss it
*old barns
*beautiful purple wildflowers in the ditches
*trains - we love trains 
*lots of American flags

We did:
*stopped and had a picnic about half way into the trip - SO much better than sitting in a restaurant
it was the perfect day for it

*stopped at a cute little ice cream shop that we've been driving by for years now

I had an espresso ice cream, my husband had strawberry.   : )

Please allow me to suggest something while you are staying at a hotel when on vacation.  Most hotels offer a "free" breakfast (we're still paying for it as part of the cost of the stay).  Some are pretty elaborate and some are simple, but there is always someone who is there putting things out and cleaning things up.  Please remember to thank them for their service.  They have to come in very early and get things going and they have to clean up after some very messy people, so just saying "thank you" will make them feel appreciated.

Whenever we stay at a hotel, I'm constantly surprised and saddened by the growing lack of manners in people.  They let the doors slam shut late at night or early in the morning, they talk very loudly in the hallways late at night or early in the morning, and they are messy in the eating area.  I find that many people don't care about others anymore.  And a lot of them have their children with them - what kind of example is that?  There.  I vented.  I feel better.

My husband and I are trying the intermittent fasting type of eating.  We are on a 16:8 schedule and we are really liking it.    It means that from we eat in the 8 hour window of time and we fast on the 16 hour window of time.  We make sure that we finish eating by 7:00 p.m. so that we can fast in the evening hours and throughout our sleeping hours and then the morning hours so that we can eat around 11:30 a.m. the next day.  So, in fact, we skip breakfast and just have lunch and supper.  I've been reading up on it and I must admit that we feel better.  I'm not as tired and I'm losing a little weight (which I've been wanting to do).  Since we love breakfast meals, we tend to eat those for lunch - things such as pancakes or eggs and bacon, or whatever we would normally have.  And then our supper is what we would normally have as well.  It works for us but, again, you need to be careful with this if you have an underlying health issue such as diabetes or heart disease, etc.  I'm not a professional health care person so you do need to check with your doctor first.  We didn't check first because we don't have any health problems (as far as we know!).

Now on to the recipes.  I posted about my Rhubarb Custard pie last time so I'll share that one with you, and then last week I made some of my no-churn Raspberry Ripple ice cream (and I forgot to take a picture again!).  Here we go:

RHUBARB CUSTARD PIE

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Stir together:
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. flour

Stir in:
2 eggs, beaten
4 cups rhubarb, chopped into small pieces

Mix well.  Pour into unbaked 9" pie shell.  Set aside.

For the topping mix together until crumbly:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
pinch of salt

Sprinkle on top of rhubarb filling and bake for 1 hour.  
Really good with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  : )


NO-CHURN RASPBERRY RIPPLE ICE CREAM (from "Marsha's Baking Addiction)

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

Place the raspberries and sugar into a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Simmer for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally until the raspberries have broken down and the mixture has thickened a bit.  Push the mixture through a fine sieve into a small bowl and discard the seeds and pulp.  Allow to cool completely (I put mine in the freezer for a few minutes).

Using a mixer, whip the cream to stiff peaks.  And the milk and vanilla and slowly incorporate - the peaks with deflate and that's okay.

Pour half of the ice cream into a 9x5 loaf pan and then pour a little of the raspberry mixture over that and swirl it.  Pour other half of the ice cream over that and then finish off with leftover raspberry mixture and swirl again.

Cover tightly (I do plastic wrap first and then foil) and place in freezer for at least 6 hours or overnight.

This is SO good in a waffle cone!!!!!!!  I hope you can try it.  Enjoy!!!


Well, as I'm writing, it must be clouding up again because the room is darkening!  I usually close our westerly blinds in the summer because of the hot sun coming in, so I'll have to open them again!!!  

I'm working on a new cross stitch pattern (I'm, again, designing this one myself).  The last one I was working on I had made 3 mistakes which threw a couple of things off and I didn't have the patience to unpick those mistakes!  So, I'm giving it a break and starting something new.

Just starting, but I have big plans for this one - LOL.  I love primitive samplers and that is my plan!  : )

I think that's about it for this post.  Not a lot, but I wanted to check in again with what I did have.  Thank you SO much for stopping by and I hope you all have a good upcoming week.  Enjoy your home and enjoy your work in your home.  It's all important.  We're called to be good stewards of what God has given us whether it's your home, your car, your yard, etc........take good care of it all!  : )

Sorry this is so blurry, but this is from Memorial Day - the clouds were so awesome.  We had quite the tornado outbreak on that day up towards cabin country - fortunately no one was harmed.

See you next time!  God bless.





 

Monday, May 30, 2022

Can It Be?

 

Every year we put something on my Uncle's grave in memoriam of his service to our country in WWII.  Going to Fort Snelling National Cemetery makes me cry every time.  So many people looking down at the stones of their loved ones.  So many people bending down to place the flowers.  Some just staring, some crying.  Walking slowly back to their cars and driving away.  It's good to be there.  It's good to remember.  Thank you, Uncle Pete!


As the title of the post says, can it be?  Can it be that this is Memorial Day?  If I remember correctly, we said the same thing last year.  Time is flying by (again).  I hope you stay safe with whatever you have planned.

It's so beautiful outside now with all the trees, bushes, plantings, grasses, flowers........with all of that comes allergies and I think it's at an all-time high this year.  On the really beautiful days I refuse to keep the windows closed, but boy do I pay for it!!!  I didn't go as crazy this year on plantings as I did last year but I like what we have.  Very simple and that's okay.  : )  Here are a few photos:

Mosquito plant (although we haven't noticed that it works all that great! LOL).

I just tossed a bunch of flower seeds in (different kinds) and we're glad to see they're coming up. This year we have to put chicken wire around everything - the bunnies are in full force.

These planters hold our basil, green onions, radishes, tomato plants, and a variety of lettuce and spinach.  This time the chicken wire is for keeping the squirrels out.

By the garage in the backyard.
Our backyard is getting so shady so I decided to put my herbs in pots and just set them on the front steps.  From about noon till the sun goes down they get full sun here and they are thriving.  I didn't realize my reflection was in the glass on the door!  Sorry about that!!!  The flowering plant is a dahlia that I received from my son and his wife - it's in constant bloom and I love it.

It's a warm and humid Memorial Day here in Minnesota and we're expecting severe weather towards the supper time hour into the evening so it's kind of a good indoors type of day.  I have a few things going on such as stitching -

I have a LOT to do yet on this one but I'm just loving it.  To say I'm hooked on cross stitch is an understatement!  I stitch "in hand" without a hoop.  It really is therapy for me.  I have been finding free charts on the Pinker 'n Punkin Quilting blog site and this is just one of her designs.  After watching many "Flosstubes" I'm beginning to learn the stitchy language - LOL.  This is a WIP (work in progress) for me and every stitcher I've watched has multiple projects going on.  But that's not me.  I HAVE to finish one project before moving on to something else.  I have, however, perused this blog site and have quite a few of her free patterns printed for future stitching - another patriotic one, a couple of fall ones, a Christmas one.........and then I still want to keep designing my own - especially sampler pieces.  This particular piece is called Summer House and I'm stitching it on 14-count Aida using DMC floss.  The fabric is called Ivory from Zweigart.  What I've learned from others is that we need to stitch what we love.  And there is something called stitching on linen instead of Aida and that's not for me - I need to keep it simple.  And there are silk flosses rather than the DMC and that's not for me either especially when I'm a beginner at this.  So this is a project that I'm going to pick up and work on today!  : )

I'm trying to have summer reads on hand.  I just finished Rainbow Cottage by Grace Livingston Hill:

A favorite.  I always feel like I'm there - taking in the flowers and the smells of the food - looking out to sea in it's beauty and strength.  I've ordered (and received) two more Grace Livingston Hill books to add to my collection - The Best Man (hearing how good it was from a friend!) and The Enchanted Barn - so that will keep me busy for a while.  : )  Oh........right now I'm reading book number 8 in the Nancy Drew series.  I have books 1 through 15 now and so many more to go!!!!  It's wonderful to just go away to another place for a while, isn't it?

I don't have any new and exciting recipes for you at this time because I'm really using up leftovers from our meals.  I'm still trying to make more from the original recipe to either have leftovers or freezing them for the times I don't feel like cooking.  I did make my first rhubarb pie of the season:

Ready for the oven.  It tasted SO good!!!!  My rhubarb in the back didn't supply much so I did have to buy most of it from the store.  I really need to buy two or three more plants so that I can count on just having it available.  This is a rhubarb custard pie and I'm sure I've posted the recipe in the past - this with a little vanilla ice cream on the side?  Yes.  : )

There is a spot in our living room that I've always wanted to put a writing desk and we found one at a garage sale a couple of weeks ago.  We normally don't go to garage sales anymore because I just don't want to bring anything more home as we are trying to let go of stuff!  But......this caught our attention and we brought it back with us.  It fits perfectly and I love it (mostly because it's old).  I love looking out a window when I'm writing.  Just like I put my sewing machine in front of a window because I love looking out while sewing too.  



My brother wants me to write a book.  I have NO idea what that looks like, but wouldn't it be something if this is the place that I write it?  : )  One can dream, right?

I think that's about it for today.  I just wanted to quickly write a bit of something.  It's a quiet day and I'm in between loads of laundry - oh, speaking of laundry - we're getting a new washing machine tomorrow and I've never been more excited about a new washer before!  I knew we needed a new one when our older one literally walked forward during the spin cycle.  LOL  And when it was on spin it made so much noise and now when it's done washing the clothes and I open it up to put things into the dryer or to hang up, the clothes are still sopping wet.  So................before it quits on us completely...........we're getting another.  Unfortunately, along with everything else, they've gone up in price but we have to do this.  So today's laundry is the last time in this old clunker.  : )

Well, NOW I think that's about it.  I hope you are enjoying the day whether it's with family or friends or just on your own (which can be just as nice).  Is there anything that YOU are working on, reading, cooking, doing, etc........I would love to hear from you.

God bless your day and the week ahead.  Thank you for stopping by and visiting - I appreciate it!





























Thursday, May 12, 2022

A Few Tips for Meal Planning and Shopping


Some beautiful Lupine in the north woods - one my favorite plants.


I  guess by now we all know about the higher costs of food and even some shortages.  For those of us on a limited monthly income, that can be a concern.  But there are steps we can take to make the best out of a difficult situation.

First of all, we need to remember that this is not new.  Maybe new to some of us and we might feel like we won't be able to get through it very well, but this challenge can be a learning time.   I was going through my Kitchen Notebook and came across some tips that I wanted to share with you.  It was good for me to re-read too because it gave me the motivation I needed to get back to doing a few things that I had stopped doing.

What I find is that when times are good and money isn't a problem, I tend to slack off and go back to convenience.  It's SO much easier to buy everything for the sake of not having to DO everything.  But it's in the "doing" where we find the side of us that is linked to past generations.  Generations that didn't have as much as we do and therefore needed to make do with what they had.  I think fear tends to paralyze us when we should get into action and figure things out as to what we need to do.  Schools stopped teaching girls the REAL home economics and they stopped teaching the boys shop classes where they learned everything from fixing things on cars, to electricity, to basic plumbing.  We have generations of kids who literally know nothing but computers and other brainy stuff.  Not saying that that's bad, but kids used to be prepared to grow up, get married, and take care of their own homes without much outside assistance.

Knowing what your situation is is the first step to take.  Some of you are very blessed when it comes to finances and this whole shopping thing doesn't seem like a big deal.  But even when you are used to having what you want and when you want it and that is all of a sudden taken away or restricted, you will notice it.  Shortages affects everyone and you'll still need to get some items in your home in case things go from bad to worse.

So, let's get started:

*Eliminate processed foods - these are foods that are not healthy.  The processing of foods reduces the health benefits of food and they add stuff that are totally unhealthy!  I believe that in times like these, we should strive to stay as healthy as possible.  Unfortunately, we can't stop disease and illness, but we can take control of what we put into our bodies by purchasing good food.

*Plan meals according to sales - get used to pulling up store ads and create your menus according to what is on sale.  Remember that you don't need elaborate menus!  But choose good food - a good protein source, in-season fruits and vegetables, etc.  Before shopping, have a food budget if you don't have one already.  We all need to eat so your budget HAS to allow for food.

*Buy in season and when things are on sale or reduced, buy in bulk and freeze or can.  Since it's Spring, the "in season" foods are things like strawberries, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, green onions, mushrooms, rhubarb, etc.  If you don't know the basics of canning or freezing (or even dehydrating) read up on it and give it a try.  It is very satisfying to "put up" produce to pull from your freezer or shelves.

*Buy frozen organic fruits and vegetables.  I have to remind myself of this.  I always think that fresh is best but frozen is great to have around.   And I say organic (even though it might be a bit more expensive - but not always) because fruits and vegetables are often the foods that are sprayed and organics aren't and I buy them as a part of the staying healthy.  

*Buy whole chickens (again, organic grass-fed not grain-fed).  Chickens can be easily cut up or baked whole and then use the meat for casseroles and the bones to make soup broth.  Often chicken legs and thighs go on sale and are wonderful for the freezer.  

*Eliminate expensive drinks - we're all suppose to cut back on sugar and all those sodas and juices are full of sugar and they are expensive.  I know that sometimes soda is a treat and maybe should be treated as such instead of buying it on a weekly basis.  Train your family to drink water (which our bodies need anyway),  and varieties of tea (which can be served hot or cold).  If you love iced coffee in the summer (I'm raising my hand) it's so easy to make yourself instead of spending money on the expensive bottles at the store.  You can control the sweetness yourself.

*Grow your own food (at least some of it) - most of us don't have a lot of space to grow big gardens but we all can grow something.  Start by choosing one or two foods that you buy every week (that would be lettuce and carrots for me) and that your family really likes (makes sense).  This is where something is better than nothing and it helps you to learn the important skill of gardening.  One or two things this year and then add something else to it next year.  There are all kinds of helps when it comes to gardening so take advantage of this through on-line learning, books, and magazines and have fun with it.

*Buy/eat meat in moderation - every shopping trip for us includes buying some meat for the freezer whether it's only a pound of hamburger or a whole chicken or whatever is on sale.  Again, when it comes to meat, organic is important to us.  I'm willing to not spend on some things in order to spend on good meat.  Again, organic meat should be grass fed not grain fed.  And just a bit of meat at meals is better than a lot.  Try to aim for leftovers as that is a very good way to be thrifty!  Another good idea is to have a least 2 days a week where you serve meatless meals.

*Double your favorite recipes and freeze the extras - I've been trying to do that lately and it sure is a time-saver (but you have to remember to take the food out in time to thaw!).  I always feel so organized with this tip.  Taking out a quart jar of soup or a casserole pan feels great especially for those days when you don't feel like cooking.  Just pull a salad together and a bit of fruit.  

*Use up leftovers.  I admit that I haven't always been good at this.  I didn't schedule it in when making my menu plan for the week, but now I do.  Like doubling foods for the freezer, cooking for leftovers makes sense.  For example, I made a quinoa pilaf to serve with our baked fish for one night and then I had enough leftover for making a meal out of the quinoa a couple of days later - I just added canned shrimp to it and heated it up.  It tasted like shrimp fried rice that we used to get for take-out.  Oh, I forgot......with the original fish dinner I also steamed some broccoli and had some of that leftover as well and was able to add that to the quinoa and shrimp.  Added nutrition, it looked pretty, and was very tasty.  : )

*Make your own desserts.  If you're like us, we really do like to have a dessert once in a while.  I bought a favorite pie at a local grocery for Mother's Day and I paid $18.00 for it!!!!!!!  I, of course, normally wouldn't do that but it was Mother's Day and I didn't feel like making my own dessert!  So, I splurged.  But I couldn't believe it.  It could have easily been made for just a couple of dollars if I would have planned better.  And, desserts for us don't necessarily mean a fancy dessert.  I bake and freeze cookies all the time so that I can pull a couple out for after a meal.  Cakes are very easy and freeze very well - cupcakes are best as they can serve a group when needed or an individual or two.  Fruit pies are fun to make with seasonal fruits and freeze well too.  So, just plan ahead and have some sweets around for a nice treat.

*Prepare your own pick-up snacks - snack foods are expensive and they aren't that good for you.  This is where you can buy things like dried fruits, seeds, nuts, etc. and put them in little bags for your family to just reach in and grab one.  Having fruit around that are easy to eat like grapes, apples, and oranges are important too.  Chips are okay once in a while but, again, treated as a treat.  If your pocketbook says "no" listen to it.  Popcorn is another snack that is very inexpensive.  Just pop some, put them into little bags and let your family nibble away.  I know popcorn tends to go stale quickly so don't make too much ahead of time especially during the humid summer months.

*Cook from scratch - this is probably obvious, but the grocery stores are filled with convenience foods - everything from pizza to full meals that are frozen.  First, the ingredients on these are full of things that we can't even pronounce.    Cooking from scratch does take time and time is what our excuse is for not cooking from scratch very often.  But being careful with our money means that it should take precedence over our time.  We need to take the time to cook from scratch.  A pizza takes only a minimum of ingredients for example.  And speaking of ingredients......I think it's important to have ingredients on hand in your pantry.  For the pizza, obviously you need flour, yeast, and salt for the dough.  You'll need tomato sauce and Italian seasoning for the sauce and a block of cheese to shred for the topping.  It's a simple pizza but it's good, it's healthier than store bought, and it saves a lot of money!   Those ingredients you have will make several meals which is cost effective as well.  So get the recipe books out and start cooking!  

*Some healthy foods on a budget include bananas, broccoli, rice, eggs, sweet potatoes, spinach, organic yogurt, whole grain pasta, whole organic chicken.  Just with this list you can plan a few healthy meals without spending a lot.

I do know that having a take-out meal once in a while or actually going to a restaurant is a treat for everyone and maybe with what you save in shopping frugally and doing the work at home, you can set aside a certain amount to treat yourself or your family to something like that.  But don't be in despair if you can't either.  Now is the time to think things through and think about what is really important. Do you really need all that soda?  Do you really need those chips and other snacks?  You will be amazed at how much you can save when you stop buying what you don't need. What I like to do is think about what our favorite family restaurant used to be and what everyone seemed to order when going out.  Take that memory and prepare the same food at home.  Of course, you can't be a short-order cook and make something different for everyone at the table, but take one thing at a time and create a nice atmosphere.  Light the candles, dim the lights, etc. if that kind of meal screams for that or you can light up the room and put fun music on to create a whole different atmosphere that would go great with taco night or pizza night.  It doesn't have to be mundane and it gets those creative juices flowing.  Get the family involved or your friends.  

Yes, we are in difficult times.  But we can do this.  Even if we have to put a little water in some ketchup to make tomato soup, and make our own crackers to go with it, we can do it.  I know that that's extreme but maybe it will come to the extreme?  I don't want to be depressing but in all seriousness, now is the time to start thinking in a different way and to be ready for anything.  Preparation is key.  Learn lessons from the past and start implementing them now.

The last thing I would like to mention is to have an attitude of gratitude.  Always thanking the Lord for what he provides.  If you count all your blessings today you will find that you are so blessed and He will not leave you desolate.  Give all you have to Him (because it's all His anyway!) and He will continue to take care of you.  We have to remember to stop looking at how much other people have and learn to be content.  

Well.......I think that's it for today.  I began writing this post last night while listening to all the severe weather updates around us until our own tornado sirens went off and I had to go downstairs.  I was alone at the time and my husband was at church so I'm VERY grateful nothing but winds and heavy rain happened.  We actually needed the rain anyway.  LOL

So I bid you goodbye and I hope that you all have a good day, a good rest of the week, and a good weekend ahead.  Thank you SO much for stopping by.  I appreciate it very much.  God bless.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

From March to May

 

A photo from a trip up north years ago already.  I love close-up photos of just one thing.


I must say that it's good to be back writing again.  I lost that since the end of March and I think I'm ready to get back to it again.  Where and how to begin is the difficult part.  A lot has happened from March to May so I think I just need to jump in and begin.

In December of 2020 my sister-in-law, Lynette, was diagnosed with a rare, incurable, cancer.  I don't know how it is with you but when I hear news like that in the beginning I always feel like there is hope.  And, of course, I begin to pray for healing.  As time passed and 2021 didn't seem like healing was happening, I changed my prayers for a miracle.  At the beginning of 2022, things got progressively worse where I knew even a miracle wasn't going to take place.  So.......the prayers changed to mercy.  Lynette was so sick and in pain that mercy was all I wanted for her.  The Lord finally took her to be with Him the day after Good Friday and she spent Easter with Jesus.  Her funeral was a week after that and we already feel like there is a hole in the family that can't be replaced.  I miss my weekly calls to her.  During the month of April I couldn't go to church.  I couldn't work on the Wednesday night suppers.  I couldn't go to Easter service.  I just couldn't go and be around other people who were laughing and happy and trying to make me laugh and be happy.  Have you ever felt like that?  This had nothing to do with my relationship with the Lord.  I still had my faith.  I still had my trust.  I was still praying.  I was still reading His Word.  It's the being around others while in my sadness that I couldn't do.  Today was my first day back at church and it was good to be there again.

Also, something happened towards the end of March that also grieved me.  I was just beginning to get to know a woman on Wednesday evenings in the kitchen at church when we found out that she was brutally murdered the day before she was to be with us again.  I've never before known anyone who was murdered and it made me numb.  A woman who was vibrant, loved her kids, re-dedicating her life to the Lord............gone at the hands of a madman.  Her funeral was a week later.  This is something you see on television, you read in murder mysteries, you watch in the movies.  It took that de-sensitization away, that's for sure.  We see it and hear about it all the time but it happens to people you don't know.  It's a real thing that happens to real people and real families are never the same again.  I gave my Agatha Christie books away (I only had four) because murder mysteries are sickening to me now.  It's not entertainment nor should it be.

So with those two major happenings in my life (within one month), I have been introspective and leaning on the Lord and being quiet and thinking things through.  I couldn't write.  I couldn't write about homemaking even though homemaking has certainly been taking place.  As a matter of fact, in my thinking, my homemaking and my being home to take care of it has been a place of solace.  Keeping my hands busy was so very important.  I also found solace in my hobbies - sitting at my cross stitch listening to an audiobook (Anne of Green Gable for the umpteenth time) helped me to relax.  

I know we all grieve differently and I found it SO important to allow for that and SO important to allow that in others.  We cannot hurry it.  We cannot bury it.  We have to see it through.  But there does come a day when we go into the land of the living again.  And God is there to be our help in it.

I just wanted to drop by today to give you an update on what has been happening in my life and, again, I'm ready to get back to the homemaking part of my posts.  Not today, but soon.  

Thank you so much for stopping by.  I pray that God will bless your new week ahead.  Love to you all.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

March Days

 

Early morning light.


Well.  A lot has happened (and continues to happen) since the last time I posted.  I have a feeling that if I was on other social media such as YouTube or Instagram or Twitter or whatever else is out there, I would get a lot of comments on why in the world I would think that talking about homemaking is appropriate at this difficult time.  And I have to admit I was wondering if I should.  But in our home, our daily lives continue as I'm sure yours does too.  There are things that need to be done.  There are meals that need to be cooked.  There is laundry and cleaning.  There are out-of-the-house responsibilities.  As homemakers, the difficult world we live in is a great opportunity to rise above it and stay strong for our families and to keep trusting in the God who knows everything and is still in control.  It's the helpless feeling that is hard.  We live under the rule of people who are doing things that show us how much they don't care and like I said in my last post.....it's going to probably get worse before it gets better and we need to be prepared.  As homemakers, we can do what we can to prepare.  In Proverbs, this wife of noble character: (in a nutshell)

*helps her husband
*works with eager hands
*brings food into her home
*gardens
*works vigorously
*gives to the poor
*makes sure her household is taken care of
*makes things
*is dignified and is joyful
*speaks with wisdom
*instructs
*is not idle
*her children call her blessed
*her husband praises her
*fears and praises the Lord

THIS is what we can do!  No matter what else is going on, we can do this.  I don't have a lot to post, but I did want to connect with you now with a few recipes, what I've been doing and working on around here, and some miscellaneous things as well.

One thing that I've been working on is getting my sense of smell back.  Since I had covid in October, my smell is gone in a lot of ways and then what I do smell is "off" and sometimes just plain awful.  Coffee smells terrible.  Onions smell terrible.  When I put something in the oven I don't even know that it's there!  So, I'm trying olfactory therapy with essential oils twice a day for 3 months.  If that doesn't work, I try 4 new essential oils for three months, and then if that doesn't work, I go to the last new 4 essential oils for another 3 months hoping that my the end of 9 months (9 months mind you) it should be restored if not better.  I know, I know.........if this is the only thing that I have to complain about after having covid, I'm probably doing okay.  But our sense of smell is so important - it's not just a pleasant thing, it's a necessity.  So, we'll see how it goes!

I finished my first cross stitch sampler.  I am finding cross stitch to be very therapeutic and I'm very happy that I'm doing it.  Here it is finished and made into a pillow:

simple, yes, but it's mine.  : )

Here is the next one I'm working on:

I have quite a bit to fill in yet, but I'm liking the way this turning out.  I am truly enjoying the designing and when I say designing I mean taking the different motifs and putting them where I want them and using the colors I want instead of relying on a ready-made stitching kit.  I will frame this one when I'm finished.

I've been reading quite a bit and there was one Grace Livingston Hill book that I just bought and read that I found hard to put down!!!  It is "The White Flower" and it was a page turner.  Quite different from other GLH books but so good.  I'm a little confused about the name of the book though - it didn't fit with the story.  If any of you have read this book and can explain the title that would be great!  I'm not going to worry about it, but just wondering.

Mostly, I've just been working around the house.  We have had such frigid temperatures that it makes us want to hunker down and not go out which can be good as it forces us to get to things before the warmer temps finally do come our way.  I like to keep a clean and tidy house so that is a daily thing and I've been planning food and continue to keep our pantry stocked.  I've been making plans to use up the older items before buying new.  I've been planning what our gardens should look like this year.  I also just realized that I have to go out thrifting for some Spring/Summer clothes as I have nothing in this area.  Since our Winters tend to be longer, I've always made sure that this season is taken care of so I gotta get out there before Winter turns to Summer and I'm unprepared for it!!!!

And then I have three recipes I wanted to share with you.  I'm back to making bread in our bread machine and this one is very good.  I know eating white bread is supposed to be a no-no but, seriously, it will come in handy if you don't have anything else.  I know not everyone has a bread machine either so please forgive me for sharing something you might not be able to try.  Here it goes:

POTATO BREAD (sorry, no photo!)

1 1/4 cups water (70 to 80 degrees)
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
7 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. mashed potato flakes 
3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast

In bread machine pan, place all ingredients in order given.  Select basic bread setting.  Choose crust color and loaf size (1 1/2 lbs.).  Start.  Check the dough after 5 minutes of mixing to see if you need to add a bit more flour if too wet or more water if too dry.

Hope you can try this!


We had hot roast beef sandwiches with this bread and it was so good.  : )  Which brings me to the next recipe.  What is a hot roast beef sandwich without gravy (and lots of it).  I don't like the jarred gravy so I found this recipe on-line.  I know, gravy is gravy and should be easy to make but I don't trust myself in some areas of cooking without a recipe and this is one of those areas!

CLASSIC BEEF GRAVY

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups beef broth
1 tsp. beef bouillon granules
1/4 tsp. pepper

Heat butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until melted.  Stir in flour and cook for 5 to 7 minutes until mixture is deep brown, stirring often.  Whisk in broth until smooth; simmer 3 minutes stirring often.  Reduce heat to medium low and cook 2 - 3 minutes or until thickened.  Stir in bouillon and pepper; stirring until combined.  Season with salt, as desired.

VERY good.  : )

And then, lastly, we love our oatmeal for breakfast and we had stocked up on steel-cut oats but they take forever to make when I don't want to take all that long in the morning.  So I found this recipe to partially cook them the night before and let them set overnight and just re-heat in the morning.  Perfect, I said.  : )

HOW TO COOK STEEL-CUT OATS FOR BREAKFAST THE NIGHT BEFORE

1 tsp. butter or olive oil
1 cup steel cut oats
3 cups water
pinch of salt

The night before, toast the oats in the butter or oil in 2 quart saucepan over medium heat. Fry them until they start smelling toasty, about 3 minutes.  Add the water and salt and bring to a rolling boil.  Turn off the heat and cover and let sit overnight on the stove.  Say "good night" to everyone and go to bed.  : )

The next morning, uncover the pan and bring the oatmeal back up to a simmer.  If you need to thin it out, just add a bit of coconut milk (or whatever milk you use).  Heat to warm and enjoy.

This makes 4 servings so I just leave the other 2 servings in the same pan until the next morning which makes it even more convenient.  Just cover and refrigerate.  And they say you can keep it for up to 5 days.  Just reheat in the same way.

I've mentioned in past posts that I like to do oatmeal packets and I do that with this as well.  In a ziplock bag, I put the 1 cup oats in along with some flaxseed meal, some chia seeds, a little brown sugar, and a bit of dried milk and then just follow the instructions above.  

Well, I think that's about all I have.   Today is Saturday and I have my list of to-do's and then I want to get to some stitching yet.  I have my Spring decorations in a box downstairs that I have to bring up and start putting them up even though it is only 14 degrees as of this writing.  I have to get my gardening journal out and start thinking of seeds.  I want to call one of my sisters yet and bake some chocolate chip cookies (even though I won't smell them).  : (

So........I'd better stop and get going!!!!  I will leave you with a few photos I took recently:

Another stitchy thing - I designed this wool applique last night and cut everything out so I'm hoping I'll begin the hand sewing part of it sometime today.

I love close-ups of flowers - the intricacy of one flower is amazing!  I'm trying to keep fresh flowers in the house during the cold months and then planning on growing flowers this summer to cut.

Another close-up.

I love purple and yellow together.  : )  Isn't the purple gorgeous?

Stretch!

And then, while Mr. Squirrely is stretching, Mr. Bunny waits patiently below for some of those apples to fall to the ground.  

Okay.  That's it for now.  Thank you SO much for taking the time to stop by and read what little I have.  I do hope that we can all keep our heads up, our hands folded, and our trust in the Lord to keep us in His care.  God bless all of you.  See you next time!!!!