Monday, March 30, 2015

Taking Care of Ourselves

When I was younger, I didn't seem to have a difficult time taking care of myself.  I used to do my nails all the time with polish that matched my outfit.  I took long baths and gave myself pedicures.  I used to give myself a facial once a week.  I used to exercise more.   Now that I'm older I still want to look my best but the motivation isn't there like it used to be.  Maybe because I could see the positive affects of doing all those things and now when I do something that is suppose to make a difference in how I look, it doesn't look like I've done anything!!!!  There is something about thinning hair, saggy jawlines, and dark puffy circles under the eyes that counteracts the efforts of doing anything.  

But, this morning I've decided to try to get back to doing a few things again.  So I started with exercise.  I put in a walking tape, pulled out my exercise notebook, and got the weights out again.  Instead of getting dressed in the morning, I will put my exercise clothes on so that I can get this done right away and then carry on with my day knowing that I have at least done that.  I know I won't ever go back to the polishing the nails to match my clothes again, but I will try to keep them clean and trimmed with a coat of clear polish on.  Sandal season is coming so I want to keep my feet looking decent.  I will try to do a facial again to see if I can rejuvenate this pale, sallow skin of mine.  A bath is always healthy, especially with Epsom salts.  Just little things we can do to feel better and look better as we age.  I've always felt that, as women, we represent our families and I think it means a lot to them that we look our best.   I think that, as Christian women, we want to be a good example to other women.  We don't have to wear expensive clothes, but the clothes we have should fit well and be clean and pressed.  We don't have to join a fitness club, but we should try to maintain some kind of exercise program.  We don't have to go to a fancy spa, but we can take a moment during the week and treat ourselves to something at home.  Remember good nutrition and getting plenty of fresh air as well!

Daily Skin Care routine includes:
*cleansing with cold cream or moisturizing soap
*tone just by splashing cold water over your face - closes the pores
*hydrate by adding a moisturizer
*nourish throughout the day by drinking lots of water

Weekly Skin Care routine includes:
*steaming - add hot steamy water to basin and bend over with a towel over your head
*facial mask - 1/4 c. cornstarch and 1 Tblsp. honey let set a few minutes and wipe off
*tone (as above)
*hydrate (moisturize)

Aloe Vera gel is great for moisturizing the skin.  Just keep it in the fridge.  Wonderful for summer!
For tired eyes - use cooled chamomile or peppermint teabags and rest for a few minutes

A very good smelling and emollient skin moisturizer:
16 oz. baby lotion
8 oz. coconut oil
a little Vitamin E oil or vegetable glycerin
Combine well.

While bathing, light some candles and put on some pretty music.

Get sunshine for Vitamin D - but only 10 to 15 minutes without sunscreen.

Have fun with this!!!  

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday

Let us meet Jesus with our praises today.  He is our Lord.  He is our King.  He is our everything.

There are several things Jesus told his disciples leading up to Good Friday - (he says these things to us as well):

* "I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness." John 12:46
* "A new command I give you; Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another."  John 13:34
*  "Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me."  John 14:1
*  "I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me."  John 14:6
*  "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."  John 14:27
*  "I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."  John 15:5
*  "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."  John 15:13
*  "In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."  John 16:33

What wonderful, loving, words he gives.  He knew what this week was leading up to.  He knew the grief his disciples would feel so he leaves them with such encouragement.

Let this help us too.  As we contemplate this most important week in all of Christianity we can see ahead and know what's coming, but we also know how it ends.  In victory!!!!!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Spring Cleaning

Laura Ingall's Wilder house in the Big Woods.  Pepin, Wisconsin

This time of year always makes me want to clean, organize, and get rid of stuff.  I usually begin at the front door and work my way around to the different rooms of the house.  Here are a few things to get your mind working on what needs to be done at this time of year.

* Inspect and adjust window hardware.
* Replace cracked windowpanes. (which I just noticed we have a couple this year!)
*Tune up the lawn mower.
*Prune trees/shrubs.
*Repair walkways/driveway.
*Store winter clothes. (remember to wash the gloves, mittens, hats and scarves before putting them away)
* Remove storm windows/put screens on.  (yes, we still have to do this with our original 1952 windows)
* Clean out the garage.
* Reseed the lawn.
* Put garden furniture out.
* Bring hoses out. (when the temps get above freezing)
* Clean BBQ grill.
* Clean birdbaths.
* Start preparing garden beds. (again, after the frost is out of the ground)
* Assess summer clothing needs and begin purchasing things.

Work towards efficiency in your home.  For spring cleaning:

* pick up clutter - really assess what you have.  Do you really need it?  Could someone else need it?
* dust or vacuum upper ledges - I always forget to look up.
* wash light fixtures
* wash all curtains 
* take everything out of the bookcases and dust - think about how you can rearrange things for  a different look 
* wash windows
* wash area rugs and clean carpets - winter does such a number on our floors with everything we bring in on our shoes and boots

Remember to make the outside of your home inviting:

* always sweep the steps and sidewalks that lead up to the house
* hang a pretty wreath at the front door
* brush off cobwebs around the door and light fixture
* when the weather is warmer, put pretty plants and/or flowers on the step
* does your front door need a fresh coat of paint?
* don't forget the back door - always sweep the steps, add flowers, etc.

Home is so important.  Remember the little details.  Keep it clean.  Have a plan and make it work.  It doesn't have to be picture perfect but it should be pretty and inviting and comfortable.

For the weekend:

* enjoy your family
* invite friends over
* bring back the Sunday meal

Thanks for dropping in!  : )

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Question to Ask Ourselves

In the mornings when I'm putting my makeup on, I have my Nook next to me and load our local Christian talk radio station that has the schedule for all the pastors I like to listen to throughout the morning.  One of my favorite teaching pastors is Dr. James McDonald at (if you'd care to look him up sometime and listen).  I like him because he tells the truth in love.  He tells it like it really is.  This morning's teaching was on being careful what we substitute for God.  It's a great question to ask ourselves on a regular basis.  There are so many things in our lives that can take the place of God.  Of spending time with him.  When I have my prayer time and Bible reading in the early morning hours, I can see cars speed past the house on their way to work and wonder if any of them took the time to spend time with Jesus.  I can't, of course, answer that.  Maybe they did!  But every morning I keep thinking how changed this world would be if everyone believed in the Lord and spent time with Him before anything and everything else.  So, what is it that can take the place of that time?  Our job?  Our kids?  Our house?  Our friends?  Church activities? Our self?  The Internet?  Television?  Our fancy phones?  It's such a probing question, yet if we're honest, isn't it true sometimes?  I've written before on busy-ness.  Any one of these things can keep us from having a personal relationship with Jesus.  How will we know if we're on the right track if we can't stop long enough to hear from Him?  We need to stop and consider how Satan loves to keep us busy.  Even he knows that when we're busy we'll put God off first before anything else.  And then we wonder why things aren't going well.  We think God is so far away, but it's us who is far away.   Daily, we who are followers of Christ, fight a spiritual battle.  If we think it's the people in our lives who make things miserable, think again.  We need God as our defense.  And The Word of God is the first place to go for that followed with prayer.  So, what can we do this week to start putting God ahead of everyone and everything else?  : )

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

More Food Thoughts

I'm trying to make a conscious effort when making my menu for the week to take a look at what I can make from scratch rather than buy pre-made.  I keep looking at the ingredient lists on whatever I want to purchase and have a hard time with all the unnatural stuff that goes into our food these days.  Plus, in most cases, it's less expensive to make your own with the ingredients you already have.  I do have to say that I stock my pantry with pre-made food for emergency purposes and really try not to touch it unless I  have to (or to use it up before it expires, whichever comes first).  So, for this week, yesterday I had some apples that didn't get eaten, so I made homemade applesauce to go with supper. I noticed a half a carton of whipping cream that needs to be used up so tonight I will whip it to put on top of a crockpot Mud Pie (new recipe).  Tomorrow I need to marinate chicken breasts and have usually poured bottled Italian dressing over them.  Now I am going to make my own marinade using the pre-minced garlic in the fridge along with cider vinegar and oil.  I need to use up some salad greens and noticed that we are low on bottled French dressing so I pulled out my recipe for French dressing (which my husband likes better anyway).  I usually write down to buy a loaf of bread every week but am now going to begin baking my own (whether it be the yeast bread or a quick bread).  Little things like this make for healthier foods and will save quite a bit of money if you learn to have the proper things in your home at all times.  On your pantry shelves you should always have:

*sugar (brown, granulated, and powdered) - but did you also know that you can make brown sugar just by adding molasses to granulated?  And did you know that you can make powdered sugar by adding granulated sugar to a food processor and pulse until it becomes powdered?  These tips are great in an emergency but I do tend to just buy them separately and have them on hand.
*vegetable oil
It's amazing to me that with just these few ingredients you can make a pie crust, bread, dinner rolls, pizza crust, etc.  : )
*dried milk

Then you will want to stock up on certain baking products and spices:
*baking powder
*baking soda
*cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, etc. - for whatever pies, cookies, and cakes your family likes
*vanilla extract

Make sure you have items for making salad dressings, pasta sauces, etc.
*canned tomatoes
*tomato sauce
*tomato paste
*ketchup, mustard

When you look at the above list of pantry items you can see that with some simple ingredients you can make a variety of things at a low cost because you can get a lot of food out of these products before you run out.  Good and wholesome food!

Homemade Applesauce:
In saucepan, combine 3lbs. (9 med.) cooking apples, peeled, quartered, & cored.  Add 1 c. water, 1/3 - 2/3 cup granulated sugar, and 1 tsp. cinnamon.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or till tender, adding more water if necessary.  Remove from heat.  Mash with potato masher.  Serve warm or chilled.  This makes the house smell wonderful!

Whipped Cream:
1 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Just whip with electric mixed till light and fluffy.  No weird ingredients here!

Crockpot Mud Pie  (this is a first for me, but I'll add it anyway)
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1 stick butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
In a med. bowl mix all ingredients.  Generously spray inside of crockpot with cooking spray and pour in batter.  Cover and cook on High for 2 hours.  Serve warm.  (You bet I will!)  : )

French Dressing
1 c. salad oil
1/2 c. vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. chili sauce (it tastes fine without this)
1 c. sugar (but I use less)
1 small onion, diced
1/2 c. ketchup
Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix well.  Store in quart jar in fridge.



This morning's Bible reading was from Genesis 39: 1-23 and it was when Joseph was sold as a slave to Potiphar who worked for the Pharoah of Egypt.  He was then tempted by Potiphar's wife but did not cave in and because of that he was thrown into prison.  Three things:

*verse 2 - "The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered".............
*Joseph is a strong young man with integrity and is able to say "no" under difficult circumstances
*verses 20 & 21 - "But while Joseph was there in prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness"...........

Because of the type of man Joseph was, the Lord protected him in everything - whether that be slave or prisoner.  None of what happened to Joseph was his doing.  It was always at the hands of other people.  The Lord saw that.  He knew that.  He knew the kind of man Joseph was and He saw how Joseph handled himself under VERY difficult circumstances.  How good it is to know that when we are right in the eyes of the Lord, He will take care of us and see us through.  He will actually work the difficult circumstances to our advantage - we need only to trust and have faith that does not waiver.

Enjoy your day.  : )

Monday, March 23, 2015

Women, Beware

Last night I thought of something that changed my life.  It was my Senior year in high school back in 1977.  The girls in my class thought it would be fun to have a sleepover before we graduated and went off in different directions.  So we did.  There had always (since 7th and 8th grade) been a group of 4 girls who didn't like me.  Never quite sure why.  I really didn't know them very well even though we all lived in a very small town.  But they went to a different school that only went up to the 6th grade so they came to our school for the Junior High and High School years.  I was aware that they didn't care for me but the extent of that came out at the sleepover.  We were all sitting in a circle, going around and telling what we liked about each other (the way high school girls do).  Well, when it came to me, this group of 4 lit into me and told me exactly what they thought of me (and it wasn't what they liked).  I had never experienced anything like that before.  Up to that point, I thought I pretty much got along with everyone, but they were not going to let me feel that way.  This was the climax of years of hatred.  What I felt would probably be likened to how some girls commit suicide after emotional abuse by their peers.  Fortunately I was not suicidal and never, ever gave that a thought.  But like I said, it literally changed my life.  To this day, women scare me.  Whenever I have to be in a group of just women, it's stressful.  But, of course, I've had to do it.  I wanted to go to a women's Bible study (and I did) but there was always something in the back of mind where I didn't want to let my guard down.  I went to homeschool meetings with just the mom's around and always felt inadequate and insecure wondering if they liked me or not.  Almost 40 years later and this is still an issue with me.   

Women, please be careful.  Words have the power to build someone up or tear someone down.  As Christian women, especially, we need to be careful that we treat other women with dignity.  I don't know what it is in women where we become snobbish with each other.  Why do we like a good gossip?  Why do outward appearances make us judge each other harshly?  Why do we become jealous of each other?  God doesn't want us to be this way.  If we are to be more like Jesus, this certainly isn't.

How can we be a blessing to someone today?  For a while now, when I go out shopping, I try to locate someone that I can compliment.   An elderly woman would love to know how pretty she  looks while they're shopping.  The check-out lady would love to hear what a good job they do.  I looked at a check-out lady's nametag and noticed it was Esther.  I love the name Esther and told her.  She liked that.  Is there a young woman who looks like she is really trying to be pretty?  Give her a compliment!  Compliment a woman on her perfume.  Just say something.  But, let it be done in true sincerity.  Let's not be mean-spirited.  Let's look at the good in people.  What if your compliment was the only one that person received in a long time?  What a difference in her day you could make!

I don't know if I'll ever get over what happened to me in high school, but I can remember what that felt like and certainly change the way I can make another woman feel.

Have a blessed Monday!!  : )  

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Lord's Day

Wildflowers along the North Shore.

We're expecting snow tonight.  Sure don't want to see that anymore (I want to see something like the photo above!).  But we are dry and need the moisture so I guess if it's only going to be 32 degrees, the precipitation that falls would be snow.  I'm so looking forward to thunder.  And raindrops on the window.  And the beautiful clear blue sky that comes after it.  I guess this time of year requires patience.  A few warm days here and there and then back to the cold.    

An old and wonderful praise song for today:

Oh, Worship the King

Oh, worship the King, All glorious above;
Oh, gratefully sing, His pow'r and His love,
Our Shield and Defender, The Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendor, And girded with praise!

Oh, tell of His might, Oh, sing of His grace,
Whose robe is the light, Whose canopy space!
His chariots of wrath, The deep thunderclouds form,
And dark is His path, On the wings of the storm.

This earth, with its store, Of wonders untold,
Almighty, Thy pow'r, Hath founded of old,
Hath established it fast, By a changeless decree,
And round it hath cast, Like a mantle, the sea.

The bountiful care, What tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, It shines in the light,
It streams from the hills, It descends to the plain,
And sweetly distills, In the dew and the rain.

When and where you can, I hope that you appreciate what God created.  It never fails to amaze me when I look at flowers or see the boulders and the trees and hear the pounding waters from an overflowing river what God gave us to enjoy here on this earth.  

Six days of creation.  For us.  It's pretty hard to appreciate it when we hold up in our houses.  Or give all of our time to work.  It's hard to see beauty when driving 65 mph on a freeway.  Or when we stay in our neighborhoods looking at the house across the street.  I believe we were meant for more than that.   One of the things we can all do now while we're waiting for the warmer weather to stick around is to plan our summer outings.  What gift of an outing can you give yourself and/or your family this year?  Our children are growing up without the benefit of being outdoors and really seeing with their eyes what God has created for us to enjoy.

God's creation has a way of melting away the aches and pains.  The worries and the fears.  The tiredness and weary-ness.  It's rejuvenating.  It's healthy.  Get your calendar out!  When can you go? The memories are priceless.   I guarantee that you will run across something that takes your breath away and you will stand in awe of The One who provided it.   : )  

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Emergency Preparedness

Storm on Lake Superior

I've been thinking about this for a while with Spring literally at our doorsteps and how, for a good majority of the country, a severe storm can come and catch us off guard if we don't think ahead and prepare.  We saw what the blizzards did out east this winter and how the cyclones are affecting Australia right now.  Every year someone, somewhere, is devastated by a storm.  And a lot of the time it's because we aren't properly prepared.  I don't know where the mindset comes from that there will always be someone to help us in our time of need, but that's not necessarily the case.  Wouldn't it be better for us to stock up on bottled water to drink in case our drinking supply is gone?  Wouldn't it be better to fill gallon jugs with tap water (not to drink!) and store somewhere in case we need water to flush the toilet with?  Wouldn't it be better to stock a pantry with food that doesn't have to be cooked just in case we don't have anything to cook with?  Wouldn't it be better to stock up on lots of candles, lamp oil, and matches so that we have light when the electricity goes out?  How about stocking up on lots of batteries for the radio and flashlights?  How about that all important toilet paper?  Doesn't it make sense to think about all of these things now instead of waiting until it's too late?   And there is an added benefit to being prepared - you can take of anyone who is not!   Make some time and think about your daily routine and what you need in order to survive a day, week, or weeks, without the basic necessities.  We are so used to flipping on the light switch, turning on the tap for water, cooking on top of the stove, etc.  But what if those things aren't available to us?  I don't know of anyone who hasn't had the electricity go out on them at some point and how "inconvenient" it is.  And it is!  But when you are prepared ahead of time, life can pretty much go on without too much trouble.  Here a few things to consider:

*I've gone through several cookbooks and wrote menus down that wouldn't have to be cooked - pantry foods that you can just open up and eat without much preparation.  Don't just assume that the grocery stores will always be stocked or that you'll have a way of even getting there!  It would be so much better to already have the food in the house for your family (and someone else too).  Ideas might be:

Sandwiches - keep bread and crackers around.  On your pantry shelf keep canned chicken, tuna, salmon, peanut butter and jelly, honey.
Canned fruits and vegetables.
Canned juices and canned milk.
Pie fillings and ready made crusts.
Graham crackers.
Nuts and raisins.
Packaged cookies.

We have access to a camping stove with propane (but make sure the tanks are filled), so if you have that (you may even think about purchasing one) then the variety of foods gets a little bit better.  All you need to do is open them and put into a saucepan for heating up.  Having a charcoal grill around is very helpful too.

Canned soups, stews, chow mein, canned pasta meals, etc. -  any one-pot meal that all you need to add is bread or crackers, and fruit (canned).

If you know the electricity is going to be out for a while, keep the fridge and freezer closed as much as possible but you will want to begin using things up in the fridge first like any milk or juice or sandwich meat, etc.  I like to keep hard boiled eggs in the fridge as a quick thing to eat so, of course, you should use those right away too.

*I think bottled water and toilet paper are the two things that we should all stock up on at all times.  Maybe every grocery trip, grab one or the other until you feel like you have plenty.  But be careful to not underestimate!  We need to drink a lot of water and TP goes fast!

Every family is different and every family has to decide on what they need in case of an emergency, but please try to do this.  It might be helpful to take pen and paper and create your own list and start purchasing and start checking things off as you go.  We need to, once again, be people who think ahead, be wise, and be ready!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Staying Somewhat Organized

Looking forward to this!

Because my "big" shopping trip was last week, today was short and sweet only picking up what we were running out of like milk, eggs, bread, etc.  I always feel like I have a free day when this kind of shopping trip comes up because I'm home so much earlier.  : )  I'm a person who likes to get out of the house early in the morning to do my errands as far as the store openings let me.  

Staying somewhat organized means, for me, writing things down as they come to mind.  With my older brain, those ideas can just fly away at a moments notice if I DON'T write them down!  So, my list today looks like this:

*wash the screen door windows (spring tends to show us how many things we neglect during the winter)
*clean out (or at least start) that basement storage room!
*clean the pull-out storage unit by the stove (I dropped something the other day, pulled it out and oh, my, let's just say I need to pull it out more often)
*make a few mixes and other things for the pantry and freezer (pancake mix, pizza dough, etc.)
*iron (my husband actually gets compliments at work from women telling him how nice his shirts look - motivation for me to keep doing this!)  : )
*write out my Easter cards

This should take me up to supper time.  And here is what I've planned for supper:

We often have breakfast for supper, so I'm making the above-mentioned pancakes.
Oatmeal Pancakes
1 cup flour, 1 tsp. salt, 2 Tbsp. white sugar, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and 1 cup quick-cooking oats  - this can be mixed and put into a freezer bag and stored in the freezer for quick breakfasts or supper.

To the above mix poured into a bowl, add 1 1/2 c. buttermilk, 2 tsp. vanilla extract, 4 Tbsp. veg. oil, and 2 eggs.  Heat lightly oiled griddle over medium high heat.  Pour approximately 1/4 c. batter onto griddle and cook.  *I usually have buttermilk in the fridge but if you don't, per 1 cup of regular milk add 1 Tbsp. vinegar or lemon juice and let stand for 5 minutes to thicken up.

Serve these pancakes with:
Homemade Pancake Syrup
2 cups brown sugar, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 1/3 cup water, 2 tsp. maple extract

Combine sugars and water in small saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and add extract.  Pour into a clean jar and refrigerate.  * I don't buy pancake syrup anymore after I found this recipe.  : )

I will be serving bacon with these pancakes and orange slices that need to be used up.

*This pancake mix along with homemade pancake syrup (recipes to each attached) would make a wonderful hostess gift.


*Speaking of my older brain - I have pulled out an Algebra book and I am determined to do this!  I know it's good for the brain to work on problem solving things so I'll give it a whirl.  : )  I have a distinct feeling that this might take some time. (If you are homeschooling, you might want your child to help you)  LOL

*I really can't believe Easter is only a couple of weeks away.  How can you bless someone this Easter?  How about a big basket filled with good things for a family in need?  Ideas would include a card with a gift card inside so that they can go to the store and buy the ham or whatever meat they choose.  Think of what YOU would like for an Easter meal and then provide it for them too!  Relishes, sweet potatoes, dessert ingredients?  Remember to add pretty paper napkins and plates.  How about some silk flowers for a pretty table decoration?    

That's it for today!  I'd better go and get to those chores listed above.  The best part is crossing them off.  : )

Blessings to you.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Random Things


Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day.  And because I'm part Irish, I've always felt the need to celebrate (in a good way).  My grandmother (on my dad's side) was Irish.  I wish I could have met her.  She died when my dad was very young.  I love the Irish brogue and would have loved to hear her talk.  So to carry on the Irish roots, for many years I've always tried to do something.  My family doesn't like the traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage so usually I just do the stuffed cabbage rolls, but this year I found a recipe for a Stuffed Cabbage Casserole that I'm going to try instead.  Most of the ingredients are the same, so I'm assuming the taste will pretty much be the same too.  Here is the recipe:

10 cups cabbage, chopped and divided
2 lbs. ground beef
1/2 c. instant rice, uncooked
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 c. sour cream
1 onion, chopped
2, 10 oz. cans tomato soup
1/2 c. ketchup
1 c. shredded Colby cheese (which I'm not going to use)

Place 5 cups cabbage in a greased 9 x 13 casserole dish; set aside.  Combine ground beef, rice, salt, garlic powder, sour cream, and onion; spread over cabbage.  Layer remaining cabbage over meat mixture; top with tomato soup, then ketchup; cover.   Bake at 350 for 2 hours.

Then I make Irish Soda Bread:

3 c. all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/3 c. white sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 c. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 325 and grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan.  Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda.  Blend egg and buttermilk together, and add all at once to the flour mixture.  Mix just until moistened.  Stir in butter.  Pour into prepared pan.  Bake for 65 to 70 minutes or till toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack.  Wrap in foil for several hours for best flavor.

This bread I will bake at the top o' the morning!   

And then for dessert, I will frost sugar cookies with green frosting and sprinkle with green sugar.  

Sounds like a celebration to me!  : )  Hope you do something fun with your family.


*Last week I finished reading "Around the World in 80 Days" and I recommend it to those of you who haven't read it yet.  If you are homeschooling this would be an excellent book for your Geography class.  Get your world map out and follow the journey.  You can easily do unit studies for each country they visit and the type of transportation they use along the way.  Like I said before, I'm trying to catch up with reading the good old classics and I wasn't sure about this one since it seemed more like a book that a guy would like, but I wasn't disappointed.  Especially the end.  : )

*I read an article the other day about "in the old days" when women were finished with the morning chores, they would pick up a needle and work on something (close to a window for light).  That's what I did today.  After cutting out 16 dinner napkins last week, I decided that this week I would work on hemming them by hand.    What a restful thing to do.  I had classical musical playing in the background and a cup of coffee nearby.  The afternoon was cool and windy.  A perfect day for work like that.  

*I've been pondering lately about how so different things are.  Getting older brings thoughts of looking back.  I have a picture in our bedroom that shows a lot of my family from a long time ago one New Year's Eve.  We all look so happy (some who are downright silly - LOL).  I look at that picture quite often and see how we were so young and how the elders are no longer with us and how we're so scattered now and how everyone is so busy.  I long for a brother or sister to stop by to chat but the miles keep us apart.  I long for parents to come for a visit but they aren't here anymore.  I long for an old-fashioned neighborhood where the moms would get together for a morning or afternoon coffee to catch up with what's happening but everyone works now.  There isn't anything I can do about it.  It is what it is.  But the longing remains.  

Enjoy your families!  Have fun.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Lord's Day

Flowers growing out of rocks along Lake Superior.

Part of our sermon at church today was about Manasseh, King of Judah, in Chronicles 33 (Old Testament).  "He did evil in the eyes of the Lord"........... (v.2).  When the Bible says he was evil, he was EVIL (I hope you can read the whole passage).  And God brought judgement.  Manasseh ended up as a prisoner led with a hook in his nose and was shackled.  

BUT .............

"In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers.  And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom." (v. 12 & 13)


After that, Manasseh was a changed man.   That's how it works.  God knows the heart.  Whenever you feel that there is no way God could ever forgive you for what you've done,  re-read this passage in Chronicles. 

The steps to salvation: 
*Sinful and going against what God has intended for you
*Convicted of the sin
*Repenting of the sin with a true and humble heart (remember, not just confessing!)
*Turning from the way you were and walking in God's way
*Living the life of a changed person through God's forgiveness and mercy

"Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God."  (v. 13)

Blessed Sabbath to you.  : )

Friday, March 13, 2015

Giving Yourself Permission to Have a Day Off

Piecing a quilt.

My role as a homemaker gives me a feeling of great responsibility.  I work at keeping the home clean, organized, and comfortable.  And I love it.  BUT, there comes a day when I feel I need a break from the "doing" of homemaking.  If I have done my job throughout the week and kept up with things, the day off can come naturally and there won't be something that is continually nagging at me to be done.  I realize that there is always SOMETHING that COULD be done (like that storage room in the basement that is beginning to look like it's out of control) but for one day it can be let go of.   That, for me, was yesterday.  I did things that my creative side longs to have time for.  I went through old magazines and cut recipes out that looked like I would try.  I cut out 16 dinner napkins that I want to hem to go with my good china.  I finished a penny rug candle mat that I want to put into my Etsy shop.  (Yes, I will give my "shop" a plug here - I have a shop in called HousetoHomeDesigns that I began a while ago, closed it, and then re-opened it a while back)  I like creating things and sometimes I don't have a need for it in my own home or never sure that anyone I know would like it so that's why I went to Etsy. I also took time to read a couple of chapters in a book.  I made lists of things I need to buy for spring/summer clothing.  I laundered our lightweight jackets and hung them up.  Just a nice day that my creative side needed.  It's funny how we sometimes feel guilty for having a day like this.  But, for me, it's necessary.  Today will be a day of running around doing errands before the weekend and because of a day like yesterday, I have energy today to do what needs to be done again.  Whether you are at home or you work outside the home, I highly suggest giving yourself permission to take a day off and do something creative and enjoyable so that your strength will be renewed for the tasks at hand.   What is it that you haven't done for a long time and that you're just itching to get back to?  You might want to write a fun "to-do" list and keep it handy for your "day off."  If you have young children, find a friend that wouldn't mind watching them and then go and do something that's all your own.   It's a blessing for you and for those you take care of.  : )


Remember to spend time with Jesus today.  Remember to be humble before Him.  Remember to give thanks in everything.  Remember to lift up those who have special need.  Remember to read His Word to gain insight and to carry it with you throughout this day.  Remember to pray without ceasing.  Remember what He did for you on the cross.  He is with you.  He will carry you.  He KNOWS you.  He loves you.  He will never leave you.  


Family is a gift.  It's not perfect and sometimes it's downright frustrating, but as the woman of the house, we have a responsibility to temper things.  The old saying "If momma ain't happy, then nobody's happy" is really kind of right isn't it?  I've noticed that in our home.  If I'm in a bad mood, everyone feels it.  It causes an uncomfortable atmosphere.  We all experience bad days, but I'm learning that I really don't have the right to ruin someone else's day just because I'm out of sorts.  I haven't mastered this yet, but God has helped and is helping me with this.  If this is a problem with you, just pray about it and ask for peace and contentment.


This and that:

*Incorporate healthy foods into your meals - shrimp, white meat turkey and chicken, lean beef, pork loin, eggs, blueberries, broccoli, flaxseed, yogurt, nuts and seeds, oatmeal, salmon, olive oil, coconut oil, oranges, peppers, red grapes, spinach, tomatoes, brown rice, apples, bananas, cucumbers, melons, and kiwi.

*Start planning a garden.  If you don't want all the work, grow a few things in pots that you can have on your steps or patio.  I grow my lettuce in "Radio-flyer" children's wagons!  Their root systems are short so it works really well.  And I can move them around to either put them in the sun or keep them out of the sun.  : )  But, I'd recommend growing something.

*Information about garlic (that you should use almost everyday if you can) - it is a natural antibiotic, helps lung infections, helps coughs and colds, good for gut flora, preventative against stomach and colorectal cancer, beneficial to cardiovascular system, lowers cholesterol, prevents hardening of the arteries, lessens the risk of blood-clot formation.  Need I say more?  : )

*Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Planning, Buying and Preparation of Food

Crockpot Vegetable Soup

I tell ya, I was thinking today of how much of my homemaking time is spent in the kitchen.  On Tuesday mornings I spend a good couple of hours just planning my menu.  I plan for two weeks worth.  The planning, for me, takes a long time because I want to be careful.  My food throughout the week needs to be healthy, it needs to be somewhat frugal, and it needs to taste good.  I keep a kitchen notebook so that whenever I run across articles in a magazine or a certain cookbook, I write notes.  I then read and re-read those notes.  Notes consist of everything from what foods go together, what foods will benefit us healthwise, what foods to purchase organically, new recipes that I'd like to try, etc.  I especially love going through vintage cookbooks.  I always feel like I'm taking a home-ec course.  They didn't just have recipes.  They taught you the how-to's of cooking.  And then I go through my tried and true recipes.  I look at the calendar and take note of who is going to be gone or if something special is coming up.  I go and look in my pantry to see what foods I already have and check my fridge and freezer to see what needs to be used up and then I go from there.  I also go on-line and check out the weekly specials at my favorite grocery stores to see if I can plan a meal around that.  This is why it takes a long time.  : )  But I feel it's very important.  Without a plan in hand when I go to the stores, I would end up buying things we don't need and my eyes would do most of the shopping!  Very rarely do I buy convenience foods (except for stocking an emergency pantry).  I pretty much cook from scratch as I feel it's healthier.  That takes even more time in the kitchen.  Sometimes I can pull a meal together in about half and hour (like tonight), and other times it takes a couple of hours from beginning to end.  After coming home today from grocery shopping and after putting everything away, I noticed some very ripe bananas that needed to be made into a banana cake that I could put in the freezer for a fast dessert sometime.  I also noticed that I had a lot of garlic that I needed to mince, put in a jar, pour oil over it, and store it in the fridge for those times I need minced garlic (which is quite often).  Just little things like that, but it take time.  If I sound like I'm complaining, I don't mean to.  It's just that whenever I feel like I don't get everything done during the day, I have to remind myself that a good part of my day was spent in the kitchen.  And that's a good thing.  : )

Here are a few meals that I've planned:

Baked fish (brush with a little olive oil and sprinkle with lemon/pepper seasoning)
Brown rice pilaf
Baked cauliflower (tossed with olive oil, red pepper flakes, garlic, and sea salt)

Oven Swiss Steak
Baked potatoes and carrots to go alongside
Cabbage slaw

Stir-fried green beans and onions

Chow Mein over rice
Mixed vegetables
Orange slices

Tacos ( mixing the hamburger w/brown rice and onions)
Serve with lettuce and sour cream
Tortilla chips and salsa

Just a little sampling!  Enjoy your kitchen!


This morning's Bible passage was in Genesis where Jacob "wrestled" with God.  There were six points that I got out of this reading that we, too, experience when we "wrestle" with God in our lives.

*Jacob was alone.  
*It was continual until God said "stop."
*Jacob asked for blessing.
*He overcame the struggle.
*He admitted that it was a victory only because of God.
*He remembered what God brought him through.

These are awesome steps.  From the beginning to the end.  Remaining faithful.  Gaining perspective.  Giving God the glory.


Is there anyone in your family that you could bless?  I like to help out where I can but I have to be honest and say that it's usually for people outside of the family.  But what about those within our families?  Right now, I have an elderly father-in-law who needs attention but up to now he wasn't comfortable with help so we haven't done much, hoping to not make him feel bad.  But it is time and my thoughts having been turning in that direction and coming up with three areas that I might be able to help out with.  One area is the laundry.   The other area is sharing food/mealtimes.  And lastly, help with the cleaning.  These are simple, practical ways to help and bring a little relief to someone who is finding that life is a little overwhelming right now.


Spring!   It's SO close.  : )  Celebrate!  On the 17th is St. Patrick' Day.  Dress in green.  Make an Irish meal.  Have someone over.  Talk in an Irish brogue.  On the 20th is the 1st day of Spring.  Set a beautiful table with tulips (save the bulbs to plant outside in the fall).  Look through cookbooks to find a "springy" meal.  Plan your garden.  Play a game.  In this so serious world, we need to plan for fun. 

Thank you for stopping by!

Monday, March 9, 2015

A This and That Kind of Day

As I've posted before, I pretty much like Mondays.  I like getting things back in order from the weekend.  Not that we're sloppy on weekends, but there are always a few things I put off, and then I have to make it right on Monday.   Today was the BIG laundry day - sheets, towels, clothes, etc., and I wanted to share a "recipe" for fabric softener that I saw on the blog "One Good Thing by Jillee."  If you ever want to start making almost everything for around the house as far as cleaning supplies go, her blog is a good one.  

Rosemary Mint Fabric Softener -

6 cups of water
3 cups of white vinegar
2 cups of Suave Rosemary Mint Conditioner

Mix in a 1 gallon container and stir.  Do not shake.  Pour into glass bottles and use in the wash the way you would normally use fabric softener.  This smells really good and it does make the clothes nice and soft.  The ONLY thing about this is that if you use the dryer, it does not control static cling.  She even suggests pouring the solution in mason jars, tie a ribbon around it, and write out the "recipe" card to go along with it for a gift.  I really like that idea.  Wouldn't that be a good bridal shower gift along with a laundry basket, clothespins, an iron, and spray starch?

I spent quite a bit of time in the kitchen too.  I like the look of open shelving in the kitchen, so I took it upon myself to get rid of the microwave (which we just admitted to not using very often) and that opened up a shelf above the stove.  Then above that shelf we had cupboards (with doors) that also had two shelves, so I took the doors off the cupboards and now it looks like open shelving all the way up!  It looks pretty good if I do say so myself.  : )  Our kitchen is about the size of a large walk-in closet so I find myself tweeking it once in a while to make it more convenient.

What am I having for supper tonight?  Here is the recipe (which is in the oven right now making good smells throughout the house):

*Take a family pack of chicken legs and put them in a 9 x 13 baking dish.
*Mix Cream of Chicken Soup, Cream of Celery Soup, and Cream of Mushroom Soup together with 1/3 cup of water and pour over chicken.
*Top with canned Parmesan cheese

Bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours.  I serve this with sweet potatoes that share the oven and a spinach salad.  Yum.

This was my mother-in-law's recipe.  As you can see this doesn't cost much.  A family pack of chicken legs was about $6.00 on sale and the 3 cans of soup were about .65 cents each and I already had the cheese.  It's a very frugal meal and it makes a lot so there will be leftovers for tomorrow's lunch.

Speaking of tomorrow's lunch - I found, a while back, a good idea for heating up leftovers.  Right away in the morning after I clean up from breakfast, I take the leftovers from the fridge and put them in a small crockpot (or whatever size you need) and put it on High for a couple of hours.  After the food is heating up, I can either turn it down to Low or Warm and then it's ready by the time noon rolls around. No heating up the oven.  

Thank you for dropping by!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Rest for the Weary - At Least it Should Be

"In the beginning"..........

*the earth was formless and empty
*there was darkness
*the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters


*the 1st day - light and darkness (morning and evening)
*the 2nd day - sky "the expanse"
*the 3rd day - dry ground and gathered waters "seas"
*the 4th day - the sun, moon, and stars
*the 5th day - creatures in the sea and birds
*the 6th day - living land creatures and livestock, man and woman

......"the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array."

*the 7th day - God finished his work, rested from all work, blessed the day, made it holy

We are a people who are busy.  We are exhausted.  We are weary.  We have six whole days to complete everything we need to do, yet because we have ONE MORE DAY left in the week, we feel we need to use that as well.  Let us use the example that God, himself, gave us.  When Saturday evening rolls around, let us call it good.  When Sunday rolls around, let us worship the Lord with gladness and thanksgiving and praise.  Let us use the day to rest.  Let us call the day blessed and make it holy.  Spend time with family and friends around the dinner table.  Take a nap.  Read.  Go for a walk.  I'm not so sure that the majority of people can do that.  We are in the habit of rushing around and doing this and that and the kids need to go here and there that Sunday rest is becoming a thing of the past.  How can we make Sunday a truly holy day if it's no different than the rest of the week?  If it doesn't look different than Saturday with all the chores that needed to be done how can it be a blessing?  

Rest for the busy.  Rest for the exhausted.  Rest for the weary.  It's here.  Now, how can we get it back?

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Need to be Needed

There are different reasons to be a homemaker.  For me, it's getting back to the way things used to be.  The woman at home, taking care of her home, and being available for others.  I grew up with a mom that worked outside of the home (out of necessity) and even as a young child, I yearned for her to be home.  My friends had mothers at home and I could see the difference it made.  As I remember, their homes weren't perfect, but there was a woman in the house.  She was there to take care of things and to take care of others.  She was needed.  As I look back over the years, I remember fondly at the times other people needed me.  To help out with serving at a funeral.  To take meals to a family.  To go and help clean someone's house.  To help take care of someone's children when the parents needed to be somewhere.  To go and visit someone that needed a visit.  To invite someone over for supper when they needed it.  To do yard work for an elderly person.  How wonderful those kinds of things make me feel!!   I worked outside the home in the very beginning of our marriage and for the first sixth months of my son's life, and remembering the longing I felt while working that I wanted to be at home instead.   Homemaking isn't just about doing the laundry, preparing the meals, dusting and vacuuming (although those things are essential!), it's also about how others might need you.  And you can gladly say "yes."   You can give of yourself and it comes back to you with feelings of being others-centered.  It doesn't happen as often as I wish it would, but when it does, I give thanks that I was available. 


In our devotions the other evening, the topic was on generous giving.  "God loves a cheerful giver" was brought up and how the word "cheerful" really means hilarious!  God loves it when we go out of our way to give so much that it almost seems ridiculous.  That so goes against how we feel about money these days.  We tend to be very tight-fisted with our money and the idea of giving freely frightens us.  The bills need to be paid.  The debt needs to be paid down.  Believe me, I totally understand.   But through the years I have learned that the more we give to God the more He gives back.  He sees our fears and understands how hard it is to make ends meet.  But in His Word, he tells us to test Him in this so that He can show you how He takes care of you.  But His Word also says to not give reluctantly.  He knows our heart.  He wants us to want to give because He has given so much to us.  Out of that pours gratefulness and thankfulness and it's then that we see others who need our help and then we're willing to be part of the help they need.  Give 1st to the Lord before anything else and just see what he will do.


I think it's important to have little family meetings once in a while.  Not everyone in the family is going to be keen on this, but life gets so busy that we actually do fall out of touch as to how everyone is doing, what they're feeling, what they need, what they want.  I'm not sure if we should just take it for granted that if nothing is being said that everything is OK.  I know that in families we have the talkers, we have the stuffers, and we have  the in-betweens so it's not an easy thing to do.  Now that winter is winding down we are all feeling a sense of spring fever and that always comes with being short with each other or impatient or being a little self-centered and only caring what needs of ours are not being met.  If we can get all of this out in the open we can better know how to help each other out.  Does someone need a boost financially, emotionally?  Does someone need to get away or just a change of scenery?  Does someone need to get out of the daily routine?  Does someone need encouragement?   Talk it through to the best of your ability and come up with a plan or solutions that will change things up a bit and I think you will begin to see a positive change.


As the weather begins to get nicer, one of the things I enjoy is hanging laundry outside to save money.  The dryer really takes a lot of energy.  Here are a few more frugal ideas to try and implement:

*make your own mixes for the pantry - taco seasoning mix, spiced tea mix, brownie mix, dill dip seasoning mix, pizza seasoning mix, pancake mix, etc. - making these (and so many more) is a lot more healthy and having them around means you can prepare meals from scratch and quickly which also means good hospitality.

* make your own candles - the items you need for candle-making are so inexpensive (wick, wax, etc.) that making candles is penny-wise.  I bought soy-based wax a long time ago and I'm still using it.  Just melt and pour into whatever container you want.  They also make wonderful gifts which would be good to have in your pantry as well!!!!  Just tie a pretty ribbon around it.  : )

*make your own cards - there is something relaxing about cutting pictures out of magazines or old books, taking some ribbon and pretty paper along with other embellishments and creating cards that can be used for any occasion.  Other than the dollar store cards (which I sometimes buy), have you seen that a single card can cost $5.00 or more?

*make your own food gifts - homemade peanut butter cups, fudge ice cream sauce, spiced nuts, etc. - I will post some recipes on these things later.

*if you use dryer softener sheets cut them in half or even thirds.

*I just bought a book on how to can foods in small batches that you can do all year around.  You don't have to wait till Autumn.  Every month has a seasonal food that you can buy inexpensively and each batch makes 3 - 5 pints at a time.  This is something that I'm definitely going to do!!!  What a boost for that pantry.

*when cooking, double the recipe and make the other one for the freezer.  Great when you're short on time or when unexpected company drops in.  You'll always have something to serve.

*forget about buying all those snacks to have around the house that aren't good for you anyway - make popcorn!  Low fat and inexpensive.

*always have dry milk on hand for using in recipes that call for milk.  Just reconstitute it.  A box of it may cost more at first but it lasts a long time.

Well, that is it for now.  I will have more later.  : )  
Have a good day!!!!!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Fear and Anxiety

A waterfall in northern Minnesota.

It seems, at times, that life is like this waterfall.  Raging at times.  Where you know that you could get swept away if you're not careful.  And the sound.  It's deafening.  You can't talk. You can't hear anything but the roar.  To me, fear and anxiety is like that.  I can't talk or hear or feel anything else but the constant raging.  It's all consuming like I've just lost footing and I'm being swept away.  But then I realize that I can walk away from it.  I don't have to stay there. And I immediately feel the difference.  It's getting quieter.  It's calmer.  

For me, dealing with fear and anxiety is never easy.  There are always steps I go through in order to get to the calm when uncertain news comes.  First, it seems like I go through all the worst-case scenarios.  The what-ifs.  The worries about the future. I don't have a lot of information to go on so I automatically think the worst.  Then, I get a little more information and the worry lessens.  I can see where it might not be so bad.  Then, I get too much information and the worry begins again because the new information is something that I'd never thought about or knew before.  Really. That's how it is for me.  And then, finally, I realize (after all of that agony) I need to go to God with this.  It's not that I stopped reading God's Word.  It's not that I stopped praying.  But the focus is still on me.

Every word in the Bible is true.  Every book in the Bible is there for a reason.  The Bible is there for us "for such a time as this."  And it seems like the Book of Psalms was given to us in our time of need.  It's filled with prayers that say exactly what we want to say but couldn't find the words.  When reading this morning, here are a few that helped me (and hope it helps you as well):

Psalm 13: 5 & 6 - "But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to  me."

Psalm 16: 1 - "Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge."

Psalm 25: 4 & 5 - "Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long."

Psalm 27: 1 - "The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid?"

Psalm 33: 20 - 22 - "We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.  In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.  May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you."

Psalm 34: 4 & 5 - "I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame."

Psalm 46: 1 - "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."

Psalm 54: 4 - "Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me."

Psalm 56: 3 - "When I am afraid, I will trust in you."

Psalm 68: 19 - "Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens."

Psalm 94: 19 - "When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul."

Psalm 105: 4 - "Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always."

Psalm 130: 5 - "I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope."

May the Lord bless you in the upcoming week.   Watch your step so that you don't get carried away with fear and anxiety.  If it all seems deafening and you can't hear the Lord speaking to you, remember that you don't have to stay where you are.  Step away and get into the Word of God and he will proclaim the promises to give us the courage we need.