Thursday, April 30, 2015

"Mix"ing Things up a Bit

I've been having fun this past week reading about pantries again.  It got me motivated to make homemade mixes.   It finally dawned on me how convenient this would be and how it would save on time in the kitchen and how much healthier our food would be.  I'm a label reader and when I read a label on a certain product and cannot pronounce some of the "ingredients" I put it back on the shelf. But if I make my own I know what ingredients went in to making it.  I'm really trying to think of my pantry shelves as a mini grocery store.  When you go into a grocery store the shelves are lined with ready made food.  Bottled salad dressings, sauces, soups, jams and jellies, cereal, cake mixes, etc...... - when you think about it, everything that I just mentioned can be made at home or at least a part of it and then just add a few fresh ingredients to actually prepare the product.  That's where homemade mixes come in.  So, what I've been doing is going through recipes that I prepare quite often and see how much of those can be made ahead of time and put on the pantry shelf until I need it.  For example, I use Italian salad dressing for salads and a marinade for steaks and chicken.  Instead of pulling a bottle off the shelf at the grocery store (that has ingredients that I'm not happy with) I can take:

2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. dried basil
2 Tblsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 Tblsp. salt
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. paprika
6 Tblsp. sugar
1 tsp. black pepper

Mix these up and put into a labeled Ziploc bag or small jar and put on a shelf or in your spice drawer or cabinet.  When you need Italian dressing, take the pre-made mix and add 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil and 1/2 cup white vinegar.  Shake well and there you have it!  All fresh ingredients and the ingredients can be tweeked to your liking.  I just used this recipe as an example.  That's the fun of cooking - you can do what is good for your family and their specific tastes.

But think, also, of the money saved by doing this.  Most of us have the above spices available at home already.  All you would need to do is keep vinegar and oil on hand.  With the above spices and the vinegar and oil you can make a lot of dressing for a fraction of the cost of a convenience-food bottle.

I'm so excited about thinking this way.  I spent this morning making a few mixes of my own.  And I'm glad I did because it allowed me to go through the spices I had and threw a few out that were old and I made a list of everything that I need to stock up on and then continue on to making even more. So far I've made taco seasoning, dill dip seasoning, cream-of-soup mix, pizza seasoning, fajita seasoning, oatmeal pancake mix, and an all-purpose bread mix.  Next week when I purchase the spices that I ran out of, I want to make muffin mix, brownie mix, pumpkin bread mix, and pudding mixes.  

In my meal planning notebook I have a section on what to check weekly to make sure that I always have these on hand and this list includes:

*sugar (brown, granulated, powdered)
*spices and herbs
*milk (make sure to include dry milk for pre-made mixes)

I think I've posted before on how just these few ingredients in the house can make a lot of different kinds of food!    

I hope I've motivated you to take out a few recipes (especially baked good recipes) and see how you can break it down into dry ingredients vs. the wet ingredients and put the dry ingredients in a container, label it, put it in your pantry, and see how fun it is to build a mini-mart in your own home.

*Just a little note - a pantry can be any usable space in your home.  I have a couple of areas.  One is right down the hall from our kitchen for those items I use almost every night when I cook.  The other is downstairs in a storage room for long shelf-life foods.  But you can use under bed storage or in a closet or an extra cupboard.  

*Also, I re-found a website that has TONS of mix ideas that you will love to look at.  I've already printed a few that I want to try.  It's called "Budget 101" and it's especially for those of us who want to keep a close eye on the food budget.

I really do hope you have fun with this.  I would love to have you share what you've "mixed up" for yourself!!  : )  Have a good evening.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

It's Almost May

I really can't believe that May begins on Friday.  The year is already flying by.  Here is what my homemaking notebook says in regards to getting May things done. 

*change furnace filter
*de-clutter shelves, cabinets, and drawers in your living room, dining room, bathroom, bedroom, pantry, and basement.  (Remember - don't be a "big picture" person here.  Take small bites.  Do one drawer somewhere and move on.  A little is better than nothing)
*flip mattresses/wash all the bedding - bedspread, mattress cover, pillow covers, etc.
*check tires, fluid levels, and belts in all your vehicles
*stock up on sunscreen and bug spray
*clean outdoor furniture
*clean gutters
*ventilate basement
*plant something - again, even a pot of posies on the doorstep or patio pretties things up  
*clean upholstery/shampoo carpet
*clean and organize the garage
*wash/repaint walls

This is more than enough to get me started!   Please notice that I said started.  This is quite the list and there will be something that I won't be able to get to.   I have to remind myself to enjoy the process of doing.  To see things get more organized or cleaner than they were just a few weeks ago is a wonderful feeling.  Just concentrate on that - not what doesn't get done.  : )

Have a good day today.  Thank you for dropping by.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sowing Seeds, Sewing Skirts, Finished a Book, Sharing a Recipe


Good evening.  I once again made my weekly menu this morning to be ready to go out shopping tomorrow morning.  A recipe that I would like to share is what I made for supper tonight:

Brown Sugar Garlic Chicken Thighs

6 chicken thighs, bone-in
2 Tblsp. butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tblsp. brown sugar
Cajun seasoning

Preheat oven to 350.  Place chicken (I take the skin off) in a parchment lined baking pan.  Melt butter in fry pan over low heat and add garlic, stirring to combine and soften but watch closely so the garlic doesn't burn.  Remove from heat and add brown sugar making it into a paste.  Divide the paste between the chicken pieces and sprinkle seasoning on top as you would salt.  Bake for 45 - 55 minutes.  This smells so good!!!!!!  

I served it with chunks of potatoes that roasted in the oven alongside the chicken and about 5 -10 minutes before I took them out of the oven, I put grated cheddar cheese on top to melt and the potatoes get browned.  Serve them with sour cream.  And then I had green beans on the side.  A very frugal supper.  A family pack of thighs (9) was under $7.00, the potatoes and green beans I already had here at home.  : )

Gardening -

I finally got around to putting lettuce (and spinach) seeds in the ground this afternoon.  I took my "Square Foot Gardening" book out and am going to try that this year.   I can also plant the carrots but I don't have a cage made yet to protect them from the cute little bunnies and squirrels.  : )  The chives are up and doing well.  It is such a thrill every spring to see things sprouting up from the ground. What a blessing!

Sewing -

I finished the skirt but am not quite happy with it so I may have to play around with it when I have a moment and see what I can do.  A friend helped pick out the fabric and it is pretty so I hope I can get it to work.  I'm kind of fussy about how my clothes fit.

Reading -

I just finished "The Hawk That Dare Not Hunt by Day" by Scott O'Dell.  It is a book based on Tyndale and what he had to go through to get the Bible printed so that "even a peasant can read the Word of God."  And, of course, of his demise as well.  This is well written and would be so good for the boys in your home to read.  I would say Grade 7 - 12.  If you are homeschooling, it is an excellent book for unit studies.  The study of Tyndale, the early 1500's, King Henry VIII, searchers, ships and the terminology that goes along with that and much more.  It should show us that if we have a Bible in our homes and we can freely read it, we have a lot of people to be grateful to for allowing that to happen.  They literally gave their lives so we have that freedom.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Checking In

I had a fun idea over the weekend.  The weather is getting so nice yet I have sewing and crafting projects that keeps me in.  We have a small camper.  Hmmmmm..........  A studio!  I have transformed the camper into a summertime (springtime, falltime) sewing/crafting studio where I can enjoy the great outdoors, get the natural sunlight, and listen to the birds.  I have to tell you, it's wonderful.  My sewing machine is out there along with a small ironing board/iron, my dress form, fabrics, books, even a carafe of hot water so I can enjoy a cup of tea.  My plan is to get my work done in the morning hours, break for lunch, and then go out to my studio and work on projects as they come up.  I'm beginning my skirt today and then I need to start working on my Etsy shop a bit more than I have.  I bid you well and hope that you are enjoying your day with whatever you've decided to do.  I will check in again later.  : )  Back to work!

Sunday, April 26, 2015


I don't watch the news very often but what I do see and hear about drives me to prayer.  Would you please join me today in praying for our world, our country, our society?  It all seems overwhelming, but God in Heaven is waiting for us to bring it all to Him.  Some suggestions might include:

*the upholding of traditional marriage between a man and a woman
*the shutdown of all abortion clinics
*help for those who are so confused as to who or what they should be
*our youth and everything they have to go through in these times
*our churches - that only Biblically-based churches would stand and all the New Age, Liberal, and immoral churches will decline and eventually fall apart
*our schools - that godly men and women will be put in the classrooms of our public and private schools, colleges, and universities
*for the movement of the Holy Spirit across this land to change the hearts, souls, and minds of those who are in power over us
*for a Christian revival in this country that we have never yet seen before
*for our soldiers and their families' safety
*for our borders - that God would put the right people in the right places at the right time to catch anyone who wants to do us harm in any way
*for God's mercy upon us even though we don't deserve it
*for the music and entertainment industry - that they will have eyes and ears to see and hear what they are doing and turn it around for good instead of being so dark and nasty
*for our families - that they will be convicted to stay together instead of fall apart

I know you can add to this list but this is to get you started.   Please, again, join me today to lift all of these things up to the Lord.  Thank you. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Taking a Little Break

This past weekend I bought fabric for a skirt and top, so I will be taking a break from blogging to spend that time sewing along with the daily work that needs to be done.  I am not an accomplished seamstress, but I do enjoy sewing and sometimes the project even works out!  : ) I'm determined to get better at it because I just can't find clothes that I really like.  I'll let you know if what I sew has turned out or not. I'm not sure how long this is going to take from beginning to end so I will wish you well in your homemaking.  Are any of you working on something creative?  

God bless you.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Gift Pantry

In my quest to have a better pantry, I would like to start a gift pantry as well.  Setting aside little gift items is not only wise but it can be thrifty too.  It's like having a little gift store within your home to chose from when a birthday or anniversary rolls around.  Or it may stay stocked until Christmas! How fun it would be to just go and choose items that you already have instead of going to the store at the last minute and trying to find something appropriate.  That saves both time and money.  Think of the people you normally buy for throughout the year and begin looking around when out shopping.  It gets better when you can purchase things while they are on sale.  Of course, women are the easiest to buy for so you need to keep your eyes open for the men on your list.   Here are a few suggestions to have on hand:

Items for wrapping your gifts -

*a variety of boxes and gift bags
*a variety of wrapping paper, filler paper, tissue paper
*a variety of cards (bought or made)
*ribbon, bows, scotch tape
*jars with lids

Gift items -

*gift cards - I know this gets mundane sometimes, but it can be in addition to whatever else you are giving.  Even $5.00 or $10.00 gift cards are nice for a particular place such as a favorite coffee shop or fast-food restaurant.
*a pound of coffee beans (for food gift items, you'll need to be sure if the food will have a long shelf-life if you know you will have it around for some time)
*a variety of mugs 
*a variety of teas
*pretty candles
*bubble bath
*pretty soaps
*baby items (receiving blanket, pacifier, baby wash, washcloth, etc.)
*ice cream toppings
*board games, card games
*books or devotionals
*sparkling cider
*pretty glassware
*key rings
*commuter cups
*car wash supplies
*pretty napkins (cloth or paper)
*puzzle books with pencils
*stuffed animals
*work gloves for gardening
*hand tools for gardening
*music CD's
*picture frames
*fishing tackle
*padded hangers
*slinky, jacks, balls, frisbee, marbles
*bird feeder
*coloring books and crayons
*fingernail polish and remover
*sewing kit
*shoe polish kit
*box of greeting cards
*lotion - hand, face, body
*hobby kits - embroidery, woodburning, drawing, etc.
*dish towels

With some imagination, a few of these gifts can be combined to make a most complete gift.  Wrap each one individually and put into a covered box or gift bag.  Pull out a card and there you have it! 
It's really motivating me to get started as soon as possible.  : )  

Have fun with this.

Enjoy your day.

Monday, April 20, 2015


I feel a little convicted to explain a few things about my blog.  I, myself, like to read other blogs from Christian women who are taking care of their homes and families.  I like to read what they do and how they do it because I learn a lot and then try to implement those ideas in my own home.  I feel like learning is a lifelong pursuit no matter what we do.  And that's why I blog too.  I'm hoping that if you get even one thing from it, that would be great.  But, with blogging, sometimes I think that those of us who do it may come across as having a pretty easy life and that we've never experienced things that others have.  Some bloggers are very transparent so that you know they are real people with real problems and real struggles, and I like that.  There is a need within us to know that we are not alone in what we are going through and what we are feeling.

When I post about homemaking, I've mentioned that we live in a house in a suburb.  But you have to realize that my house is VERY small.  Some garages in the wealthy parts of town are probably bigger than our house.  But that's not the point.  Whether we live in a house, or an apartment, or a condo, or a townhouse, it still needs to be taken care of.  I lived in an apartment for a number of years.  I still wanted it clean and somewhat organized and pretty.  The "bloom where you're planted" saying is so true.  We can live in the most meager of circumstances, but it stills needs to be cared for.  My dream is to live out in the country somewhere, but I also know that may not happen, so I don't just stop taking care of what I already have just because I can't live my dream.

When I post about staying at home, I will admit that I do wish women would stay in the home even after the kids are grown and out.  But I do understand that some women HAVE to work.  My mom worked outside the home all my growing up years out of necessity.  I wanted it to be different with me if I possibly could.  I started working cleaning houses in my small town as a teen, then a waitress, then a check-out, then a file clerk, then a receptionist, then a secretary.  So, I do know what it feels like to work outside the home and then try to have energy and motivation to get anything else done when you get back at the end of the day.  And I believe some women feel called to do what they do and love what they do.  I wanted to be a Home-Ec teacher (surprise, surprise).  I loved home-ec and I loved 4-H.  But that never happened so I use that love here in my own home.  I may not bring in an income, but I save money by not doing certain things.  For example, I save by not driving the car every day.  I can fill my car up with gas and it can go for almost a couple of months without filling it up again.  That's a significant amount of money that we don't spend.  

When I post about cooking, yes, I plan and cook our daily meals because I believe it is much healthier and it saves money.  But, of course, there are times when I just plain don't feel like it (like this past weekend when not feeling well) so we get take-out.  It's just when that becomes the norm rather than the exception is when we get into trouble financially and pay for it with bad health.  So, I still believe that knowing how to cook and what to cook to benefit the family is very important.

When I post about giving, I totally understand that there are seasons in our lives when it's hard enough to pay for our own expenses let alone giving generously to others.  I worked until our son was born and then we decided that I would be home.  We lived in an apartment for the first year and half and then we moved into our first home (which is the same home we have now) and after moving into a house, I remember all those little things that you don't think of but add up and wondering how in the world we were going to do this without my working too.  But we hung in there and we lived without things that I think others feel they can't do without.  We were careful and it was ok.  It was more than ok, it was good.   The MOST important lesson I learned through it all was that when you give to the Lord first, he provides.  Maybe not the latest car or designer clothes or organic foods, but we always had transportation and we always had clothes and we always had food. 

So, today's post was to be more transparent too.   Some things aren't just black and white.  There are many circumstances that go into what we all do with the time we have.  And we can continue to build each other up and encourage each other in what each day brings.

Enjoy your day.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Day of Rest

Our kitty, Carl.

Isn't that cute?  Carl used to do this all the time.  He is no longer with us as we had to put him down last October because of cancer.   He used to snuggle under the covers and sleep.  He was so funny.

Well, my husband is on the tail end of a really bad cold, and now I feel I am getting it, so today WAS a day of rest.  We didn't want to cough and sneeze over everyone at church, so we opted to stay home.  Taking naps, drinking tea, reading.  It's interesting though, how Sunday doesn't seem like Sunday without going to church.  I don't want to get used to it.  It's a wonderful thing to have a daily private prayer time and Bible reading at home, and listen to the contemporary praise songs from the radio, but it's quite another thing to get up on Sunday morning, drive to church, and sit in the presence of God with fellow believers knowing that we all are imperfect people coming to hear from the Lord and worship Him with raised voices no matter how off key we are.  : )  Blessing comes from that.  And I pray that you have been touched and blessed by the risen Lord today.

Restful scenes to look at:

All taken along the North Shore of Lake Superior.  We don't live here, but we go up as often as we can.  

Have a good rest of the day.  God bless.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Little of This, Little of That

My thrifted teapot.  : )

Well, the weather has been lovely lately so yesterday with 70-something degrees I was able to take all the linens out of the bedroom, wash them, and hang them on the line to dry.  Wonderful.  

I tried my hand at making granola to be eaten as a breakfast cereal  and am not quite sure of the outcome.  I think it got a little too brown, so I will need to write on the recipe to not bake it as long.  It has all the good stuff in it - rolled oats, coconut oil, honey, cinnamon, pumpkin seeds, raisins, coconut, and walnuts.  Healthy!

We are trying to spruce up the outside of the house a bit.  We have the old original 1952 windows, but with new paint they are beginning to look pretty nice again (not that we haven't painted them before, but it's been a while).   We added the fertilizer and limestone to the grass so with this weekend's rain coming it should help green the grass up.  Just little things like that add to the curb appeal of a home without spending a lot of money.  I think it's important to keep the house looking nice, not only on the inside, but the outside as well.  

I hope you can get to something today that will make your home a pleasant place to be and to look at!


In this morning's Bible reading (Exodus 5:22 & 23 and Exodus 6:1-12) God promises deliverance to His people.  As with the Israelites, we question as to if God is listening to us - instead of things getting better, we see them getting worse.  But, we can be assured that if God says He's going to do something, He will.  

*"I will bring you out".......(v.6)
*"I will free you".......(v.6)
*"I will redeem you".....(v.6)
*"I will take you as my own"......(v.7)
*"I will be your God"......(v.7)

These are promises.  BUT, unfortunately -

......"they did not listen to him (Moses) because of their discouragement and cruel bondage." (v.9)

Discouragement.  It can be so intense sometimes that we can't focus on anything else.  It's difficult to listen.  It's difficult to read the Word.  But the Lord is with us.  He is patient with us.  He knows.  We only have to remember that discouragement is NOT from God.  It is from the enemy of our soul.  We need to hold on to the promises and He will see us through.  

Have a blessed weekend.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

So Far, So Good

As the title reads, so far it's been a very good homemaking day.  : )  

*Grocery shopping in the morning (trying to keep up with buying for the pantry - this week it was first aid items - Bandaids, Ibuprofin, cold medicine (just in time for my husband!), and cream antibiotic for wounds.  Last week I went through all our batteries and threw SO many out (took them to the hazardous waste facility).  Now our portable radio and all the flashlights have brand new batteries in them for the upcoming storm season.  I wrote down all of the ones I used, and are now low on, so that will be part of next week's pantry item.  This stocking the pantry is mainly due to my friend, Dee. We are trying to be accountability partners and ask each other every now and then what we've just purchased.  That really does help because she is very good at it and reminds me of certain items that I've long overlooked.

*Made homemade applesauce again.  I keep thinking that when I buy a bag of apples we will eat them all, but I always have a few that are best kept for applesauce (which is fine - we love applesauce).  : )  

*Made cinnamon sugar for the container by the toaster which, of course, doesn't take long but it was almost out.  Love cinnamon sugar on toast!

*Made oatmeal cookie dough for the freezer.

*Made pizza dough for the freezer.

*Threw a load of laundry in this morning before shopping.

*Made the homemade fabric softener.  Again, if we know how to make something out of things we already have at home, why spend a lot for the name brand product?  I had the vinegar already.  All I needed to buy a while back was Suave conditioner at $2.39.  And it makes enough to last quite a while.  I posted the "recipe" for this a while back.

What needs to be done yet:

*Write out a couple of birthday cards.

*Mend a couple of clothing articles.

*Make homemade fabric starch.  I haven't tried this yet so I'm hoping it works.  Again, I have the ingredients at home, so why buy it?  The recipe:
Whisk 1 Tbsp. cornstarch and 2 cups water in saucepan and gently boil it for 2 minutes.  Cool and if you wish, add 2 drops of lavender essential oil (and, yes, I will definitely do that!)  Pour into a spray bottle and spritz away!  : )

*Iron cloth napkins.

By this time, the supper hour will be rolling around.  Tonight's menu:

Chicken quesadillas
Tortilla chips and salsa

How are you doing today?  Have a good evening.  : )

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Business Day

Lake Pepin in Wisconsin.

One of the duties of a homemaker is taking care of the business side of the home.  Bills need to be paid and a budget should be followed, a plan of food for the week must be written out, doctor appointments made, trips to the bank, and household expenses kept in check.  When it comes to the household budget, I want to make sure that I'm doing what I can to make sure we're doing alright financially.  I don't want to make mistakes that may cost us more in the future, so a lot of thought goes into this kind of work.  I don't take it lightly.  I enjoy reading about and learning more on how to be better at frugality.  There are lots of blogs that address this issue and I enjoy reading them in my resting time.  Doing this kind of work almost makes me more tired than when I spend a whole day cleaning!  It's that mental kind of tired.  But it's a good tired.  : )


This morning in my Bible reading (I'm in the Book of Exodus, Chapter 3: 1-22) I read in verses 7 through 12 what God says to Moses in commissioning him to go back to Egypt to bring the Israelites out of bondage and realized the 6 points God made that can be applied to us as well -

*"I have indeed seen the misery"......... (v.7)
*"I have heard them crying out".......(v.7)
*"I am concerned about their suffering"........(v.7)
*"I have come down to rescue them"........(v.8)
*"I am sending you".......(v.10)
*"I will be with you"........(v.12)

God does indeed see when we are miserable.  He does hear us when we cry out to Him.  He is concerned about our suffering.  He does come to us in our time of need.  And when that need is for us to help someone else, He wants to send us to do the job.  And, He will ALWAYS be with us.  

He is the great "I AM."

Look around this week as to who might need us to be the hands and feet of Christ.  How can we lighten the load or burden of someone?  Like one of the contemporary praise songs says "Give me your eyes for just one second, give me your eyes so I can see, everything that I keep missing, give me your love for humanity."  

One of the main reasons for taking care of financial business (other than the obvious) is to make sure that we remember to have money available to be able to help someone when needed.  Our money is not our own.  It is God's money and He puts us in charge of it.  It's a joy to be "sent out" with a responsibility of helping someone in another country, or here in the United States where there is unbelievable poverty, or in our community and neighborhoods where it's difficult for some to make ends meet.   We can't help the whole world, but even just a little set aside every month to buy a bag of groceries for someone, or purchase a gift card and send it anonymously, or take a package of diapers to a new mom.  There are so many ways to help our fellow man that doesn't require us to be wealthy in order to do it.  Sometimes a little goes a long way - God can multiply it!  : )

Blessings to you.

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Few Little Things

Spring Pansies.

It has been so windy here lately that I thought I'd take advantage of it today and hang out some laundry.  It dries so quickly compared to using a dryer so it's a wonderful way of saving money and getting fresh air, sunshine, and exercise.  : )  I do this now before the seasonal allergies kick in which is pretty much every tree we have in our yard!  And I don't hang the laundry out in the summer when it is hot and humid because the humidity tends to hold the smells of the suburbs (which isn't exactly fresh country air) and the laundry holds the odors in.  So, now in the freshness of the Spring and then again in the coolness of the Autumn is when it is best for us.

The Monday housework is done - sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming floors, fresh bedding, clean bathroom, laundry - I'm pooped!  : )

I bought a ham last week that we had for our Sunday meal yesterday.  It was a 10 pound ham so we cut it in half and put the half that had the bone in it in the crockpot before we left for church and by the time dinner rolled around the ham was beautifully done.  First I sprayed the crockpot with cooking spray, sprinkled brown sugar on the bottom, set the ham on top of that and poured a can of pineapple (with juice) over it, sprinkled a little more brown sugar on top and set it on Low for 5 hours.  So juicy.

This morning I had ham broth simmering away which made the house smell wonderful.  I put the ham bone in a large stockpot and added 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, 1 onion (quartered), 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp. whole peppercorns, and 4 quarts of water.  Bring it to a boil and then reduce heat and let it simmer for 3 to 4 hours.   Strain it.  It makes about 3 quarts.  I make turkey, chicken, and beef broth, but had never made ham broth so I'm excited about this.  Tonight for supper I will take this broth and make Ham and Cabbage Soup.  We have bean allergies around here so I can't make the conventional Ham and Bean or Split Pea and Ham soup so I found this Ham and Cabbage soup and thought I'd give it a try.  I will let you know if we like it before I post the recipe for it.  : )  I will be serving cornbread with it:

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup oil
1 beaten egg
1 cup milk (I keep a box of dried milk on the shelf for recipes that call for milk - just reconstitute it and it works great)

Preheat oven to 400.  In a medium bowl, mix together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add the oil, beaten egg, and milk.  Mix together using a hand-mixer or whisk, until smooth and no lumps remain.  Pour into a greased 8 x 8 baking dish and bake for 22-25 minutes.  Serve, of course, with lots of butter and honey!!!  : )

I'm very motivated to use up leftovers and last week I had about 3 cups of leftover broccoli leftover from the night before.  I found this yummy recipe on-line and wanted to share it with you -

Easy Cream of Broccoli Soup

First, place half of cooked broccoli and 1, 14 oz. can chicken broth in a blender; cover, and process till smooth.

Then, melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat and add 1/4 cup chopped onion cooking and stirring occasionally for 1 to 2 minutes or till tender.  Sir in 1/4 cup flour and then gradually stir in 1, 12 oz can evaporated milk, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil.  Add blended broccoli mixture and remaining chopped broccoli and heat through.  That's it!  So easy, so good.

*Note:  this is the kind of recipe that you should have everything ready on the counter by the stove to just add when needed.  A little prep work ahead of time for any recipe you are following is always a good habit to get into.  

*Also, I had some bacon in the fridge, so I baked that in the oven while preparing the soup and then crumbled it on top of the soup in the bowls before serving.  The guys REALLY liked that part.  : )

And this last recipe I may have shared in an earlier post (if I have, forgive me).  Saturday afternoon was a work-in-the-yard type of day so around noon I made my Oven Beef Stew before going out and then by the time we were done in the late afternoon, all I had to do was pull it out of the oven, get the bread out, and open a can of mandarin oranges (remember to serve a Vitamin C food with meat).  : )

Oven Beef Stew

Put 1 to 1 1/2 lbs. stew beef in a 2-qt. casserole.  Add 1 medium onion, chopped, 3 - 4 medium carrots, sliced, 3 - 4 potatoes, cut in chunks, and 4 - 5 stalks of celery, chopped.  Combine 2 cans of Golden Mushroom soup, 1 soup can of water or beef broth, 1/4 tsp. pepper, 1/2 tsp. salt, and a bit of Kitchen Bouquet for color.  Poor over meat and vegetables.  Mix well, and bake, covered, in 200 degree oven for 4 - 5 hours.  Very good.  

*Note:  on days that I have a bit more time I brown the stew meat 1st, but truthfully it tastes just as good without out it.

That's about it!  Now I am going to go and continue to hem dinner napkins (I'm on number 8 out of 16 so I'm slowly getting there).  

Enjoy your home.  Enjoy your evening.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Glory to God

Evening along the North Shore.

Give glory to God for:

*getting up this morning
*having enough food
*having clean clothes to wear
*worshiping Him
*bringing us through the week
*the changes of seasons
*His Word
*a home
*flowers peeking out of the ground
*the difficult times
* can add your own to this list!  : )

He truly is our Everything.   

Extend the love of God to others this upcoming week.  Keep giving Him the Glory!!!!!!!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

What Our Girls Need to Hear

I just finished reading "Caddie Woodlawn" and if you have girls in your life this would be a wonderful book to read together.  I especially wanted to share with you a passage from the book that I so wish all of our girls could hear at a young age and carry it with them throughout their lives.  Here it is:  (her father is talking to her)

"It's a strange thing, but somehow we expect more of girls than of boys.  It is the sisters and wives and mothers, you know, Caddie, who keep the world sweet and beautiful.  What a rough world it would be if there were only men and boys in it, doing things in their rough way!  A woman's task is to teach them gentleness and courtesy and love and kindness.  It's a big task, too, Caddie - harder than cutting trees or building mills or damming rivers.  It takes nerve and courage and patience, but good women have those things.  They have them just as much as the men who build bridges and carve roads through the wilderness.  A woman's work is something fine and noble to grow up to, and it is just as important as a man's.  But no man could ever do it so well." ..... "I want you to be a woman with a wise and understanding heart, healthy in body and honest in mind."

Isn't that what we want our girls to grow up to be?  Isn't this what we, as women, should be?  Feminine.  Soft.  Sweet.  Gentle. Courteous.  Loving.  Kind.  Courageous.  Patient.  Wise. Understanding.  Honest.  Healthy.  

What is society teaching our girls today?  That it's OK to be a boy if you don't want to be a girl.  That you can curse just as much as the guys.  That you don't have to take any flack from anyone.  That whatever you do is your business and it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks or who you hurt along the way.  What happened? When did it happen?  How did it happen?

God created man and woman differently for a reason.  We need girls to grow up to be different so they can keep this unruly world sweet and beautiful in their own homes (whether they are still daughters at home or have homes of their own).  Husbands who are gone all day at work and children who are at school all day can be exposed to many harmful things.  Wouldn't it be nice to come home to a wife and mother who is soft and feminine and controls her tongue, yet strong and capable and understanding?   Our girls need to know what a difference that would make in the lives of whoever they are responsible for.  We need to tell them that being a girl is a blessing and that God wants us to be what he created us to be.   And what He created us to be is a wonderful thing.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Kitchen Duty

Today was grocery shopping.  I'm trying to re-stock the pantry along with buying food for my weekly meals so it took longer than normal.  I had a list of kitchen to-do's waiting for me after putting everything away which included going through all my spices and throwing a few away that were getting pretty old and took note of what I'll need to buy next.  I boiled eggs because we like to have them around for deviled eggs or to slice on a salad.  I made my "Restaurant Style Salsa" which is a favorite of ours and I'll post it below.  It tastes like the kind you get at a Mexican restaurant with those really thin tortilla chips.  Yum.  I made our oatmeal pancake mix for the freezer for those nights when we have breakfast for supper.  I also made our French dressing for the week to top our salads with.  After that, I cut up vegetables and got everything out on the counter for making Goulash tonight (which I will also post below).  It feels so good to know that real and fresh ingredients are going into what we are eating.  With all the prep work of cutting up vegetables I have to start remembering to put all the vegetable scraps in a bowl to be carried out to the composter now that there is no more snow to be walking through.  If you can find a way to compost, it's wonderful.  Every time I throw something in it, I see this black, organic dirt being made that is great for the garden. The kitchen work is good work.  If you know that something like this is going to take all day you can just get your mind off other things and concentrate on the task at hand.  The only other thing I did today was throw a load of laundry in this morning before leaving to go out shopping.   So, try to set a day aside just for kitchen duty!!  : )  It saves time later.

Restaurant Style Salsa

1 can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes with juice
2 cans (10 oz.) Rotel (diced tomatoes and green chilies)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 whole lime juice

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse a few times to whatever consistency you like.  Test a little on a tortilla chip and see if you'd like a bit more salt or other seasoning.

This makes a lot!  I either halve the recipe or make it in two batches.
Again, this would make a wonderful gift (put in a canning jar) along with those thin chips.  : )

Our Favorite Goulash

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef (I usually use 1 lb.)
2 onions, chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
2 beef bouillon cubes dissolved in 1/2 cup water
1 can tomato soup
1, 16 oz. can stewed tomatoes
1, 7 oz. pkg. cooked elbow macaroni
Garlic salt and Onion salt, to taste

Brown meat, celery, and onions.  Drain.  Add dissolved bouillon, soup, tomatoes, noodles, and seasonings.  Pour into 2-qt. casserole.  Cover, bake at 350 for 1 hour.

*If I happen to have leftover corn we really like that thrown in
*I serve this with bread and a simple salad


Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Homemade jam.

The comment on "routine" made me think of how important it is.  It's routine that keeps us moving and motivated.  After all these years, I'm just now figuring out a routine for a couple of things.  For instance, for years when having my dental appointments, I was constantly told that I need to be better at flossing.  I would agree, go home, and do nothing about it.  Maybe a couple times a week I would remember to do it and call it good.  For some reason I don't like flossing in the morning - I just want to get to work.  I don't like flossing before bed because I'm tired (lame excuse).  Well, I found out that right after lunch when I get the kitchen cleaned up, I go into the bathroom, take out the floss, and brush my teeth.  Now, that's my routine!  I don't hear any comments from the hygienist about flossing except that I'm doing a good job.  : )  She asked what the difference was and I told her what I just told you and she agreed that it is something you have to find a certain time of the day for.  She told me of a patient who likes to floss in the evening while sitting on the couch watching TV.  (That sounds a bit gross to me - food flying out of the teeth to who knows where).  But she found her right time of day I guess!  LOL  The other thing is exercise.  I put it off because I didn't know when to do it.  I took a look at my day and I thought I didn't want to do it in the morning because, again, I just want to get to my work.  I don't want to do it after lunch because I don't want to change into workout clothes (and floss too? - way too much going on! haha).  And I don't like exercise in the evening because I can't get to sleep afterwards.  But, I knew I needed to do something, so morning it is.  Now, it's becoming part of the routine.

Today I have a routine.  Tuesday means I do my menu planning and write out the grocery list. Tuesday means I watch the money from the paycheck sprout wings and fly away while I pay the bills.  Tuesday means that I iron yesterday's laundry.  So, routine is important.  But I am also aware that other things come up in the course of the day that are unplanned and the routine gets a little off.  So a schedule and routine are used as a way of knowing what needs to be done and then trying our best to get it accomplished but not beating ourselves up when some things go undone for a little while.


*A little tip on getting your water intake during the day -  fill a tall glass with water and sip on it throughout the day filling it up as it gets lower.  You'll be surprised at how often you fill it up and then you'll know that your getting that all-important fluid into your body.  I know it's a pain to keep running (and sometimes I do mean run!) to the bathroom, but I just read that the more you use the bathroom the less time the urine sits in the bladder and could become a problem.

*This time of year when the frost is out of the ground (finally), I like to put my dish tub in the kitchen sink to wash dishes in so when I'm finished I can carry the warm, soapy water outside and pour it under bushes or trees or in the summer under flowers.  I'm always amazed how much water we allow to run down the drain when it can be used for good outside!  Also, I tell my family  that if they wash their hands or let the water run to get it either warm or cold to let it run into the tub and then I can just pick it up and empty it outdoors again.  This does, however, require you to empty it quite often during the day, but that shouldn't be a problem once you realize that it's being put to good use.

Have a wonderful day today.  Just doing SOMETHING will feel good.  : )

Monday, April 6, 2015

Keeping House When It Feels Overwhelming

I wish I could say this fountain was in front of my house, but alas, it is not. 

There are times when housekeeping feels like it gets out of control.  Life happens, we get busy, we don't feel like doing something, throw in a holiday, and all of a sudden you find a room or two that just seems impossible to get back to some kind of organization.   I never want to come across as a woman who has this perfectly clean, perfectly organized home.  I try hard to keep it in some kind of order but if you walked into my home on any given day you would definitely find things that I've put off.   I do have my daily chores that are important for me to accomplish if I don't get anything else done that day.  The dishes do need to be washed and the garbage taken out or else the house will begin to smell.  The beds are made because that makes everything else in the bedroom seem tidier. The bathroom sink and toilet are wiped down so that it feels clean and sanitized.   

But it's the room that I keep putting things in just to get them out of the way and all of a sudden it's a problem. When I do get to it, I try to be methodical.  I think a lot of us are "big picture" people and that's where it can feel overwhelming.  If you can stop looking at the entire room and just focus on little areas at a time, I promise it will be much better.  I usually begin at the doorway of any room and work around it.  So, if I come into the spare bedroom, I start with whatever is closest to the door.  If there is a table or desk or bookcase, begin there.  Take ONE thing at a time.  Pick it up.  Decide.  Does it even belong in this room?  If not, take it right away to where it does belong.  Pick something else up.  Decide again.  Do this for the entire room.  Even if you're just moving it from one spot to another spot in the same room, just concentrate on that one little area until it's clean and tidy.  Move forward in the room and use the same technique.  Just seeing improvement will keep you motivated until all of a sudden the whole room looks good again.  Another idea is, that while you are picking things up and deciding what to do with them and you don't exactly have an answer, keep a notepad close by to write down what you need to do in order to make it better.  My biggest thing is paperwork.  It tends to pile up and then it takes forever to go through it all.  So, I'm starting to make more files.  Whatever it takes for you to feel like you're getting on top of things again will make such a big difference in how you feel every day.  

I hope this motivates you to begin on that problem spot of your home (and we all have one!).  : )

Sunday, April 5, 2015


New life. 
He is Alive! 
Christ the Risen Lord.  
The Bright and Morning Star.  
He lives.  
The stone was rolled away. 
Our Hope. 
Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

Be renewed.  Grow in faith.  Be encouraged.  Be strengthened.

May the Lord bless you today!!!!!  Happy Easter.  : )

Saturday, April 4, 2015


Do any of you remember the song Mr. Rogers sang?  "Have something to do while you're waiting." That's kind of how I feel on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter morning.  

Ideas might include:

*Do you have any children in your life?  Invite them over to color eggs.  Or, hide plastic eggs in the yard and have an Easter egg hunt.  Afterwards serve a lunch or supper and have a Bible story time telling them of Jesus' death and resurrection and what that means.

*If you are hosting Easter dinner tomorrow, you no doubt have no trouble finding something to do while you're waiting!  : )

*For those of us who are not hosting but have been invited to bring something, you are probably going to use part of today in preparing what you need to bring.  Here is a salad that I am taking tomorrow that seems to always be a request of the family and I want to share it with you too.

Pasta Vegetable Salad

1, 7 oz. pkg. macaroni rings
1/2 c. finely diced cucumber
2 c. finely chopped cabbage
1/2 c. finely diced green pepper
1 Tblsp. finely diced onion
1/4 c. white vinegar
1/2 c. gran. sugar
1 c. Miracle whip

Prepare macaroni.  Drain.  Add vegetables. Combine sugar, vinegar, and Miracle Whip.  Pour over macaroni and vegetables.  Refrigerate.

Very easy.  Very good!  : )  I usually double it for a group.

*If invited out, think of a hostess gift.  I know there are some who don't quite get this, but I think it's a nice way of saying "thank you" for their time and effort.  A pretty bouquet of flowers, a plant that they can transplant outside, a bottle of sparkling cider, something for their home like coasters or new dishtowels?

*Check the family's clothing for tomorrow.  Is everything clean, pressed, and in good shape?  You don't have to go out and buy new clothing, but what you have should look nice and neat.  

*Is there someone you can bless today?  A gift basket full of Easter goodies?  A gift card for them to go out to eat?  Drop it by and surprise them!

*Watch a movie together.  We like "The Robe" or "Ben Hur."  It may not be exactly Biblically correct, but it does show Christ's crucifixion and how lives are changed because of it.

Just a few things to do today!  

May the Lord bless you in all you do today.  : )

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday

From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land.  About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" - which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"  When some of those standing there heard this, they said, "He's calling Elijah."  Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge.  He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink.  The rest said, "Now leave him alone.  Let's see if Elijah comes to save him."  And when Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.  At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  The earth shook and the rocks split.  The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.  They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.  When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!"  (Matthew 27: 45-54)

Beaten.  Flogged.  Hung on a cross to die the most horrible of deaths. Feeling alone. Feeling forsaken.  

The cross is difficult to look at.  But we must.  He did it for us.  Let the gravity of it all sink in today. 

"Jesus gave it all,
all to Him I owe,
sin has left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow."

Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty."  A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips.  When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished."  With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.  (John 19: 28-30)

It is finished.  He gave his life so that we may have life.  Who of us could ever be the same again knowing this?