Sunday, May 31, 2015

When Your Heart Breaks

My husband and I took a long needed break away from home on Friday and came back yesterday. Overnight trips often revive us especially when the scenery is beautiful.  The change of pace, the lack of having to be somewhere, where the time is yours.  It doesn't take long though to get back to the real hard things of life.  

After salvation, I'm much more emotional than I've ever been.  I love the song that says "break my heart Lord for what breaks yours."  I consider it a blessing to have, at times, a broken heart.  I know that goes against what most of us want.  I would love to be happy all the time.  I would love to look at the positive side.  I would love to wear a smile and say that everything is just fine.  But we all know better than that.  I don't go around being Mrs. Doom and Gloom, the forever pessimist, looking only for the bad, but I do believe there is the proper moment for gladness and the proper moment to be somber.  Today my heart breaks for:

*the homosexual couple that we saw in a store on our way back home yesterday
*the wayward adult children we know
*the unsaved family and friends we have
*the unemployed friends who desperately need a job
*the people who desperately need Christ 

Those are the things we came back to.  The real stuff of life.  I can't be happy about that.  But I can take it to the Lord.  I can name names to Him.  He already knows but He wants us to intercede for those we love and care about.  And when the hurt is too deep, we can ask the Holy Spirit to intercede for us "with groans that words cannot express." (Romans 8:26)

Please take EVERYTHING to the Lord today.  Intercede for those you know and those you do not know but need to be prayed for.  It's the only thing to do when your heart breaks.

God bless you today.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Good Morning

I thought I'd get my post done bright and early today as I have a busy day ahead of me.  And since we are almost to June (can you believe it?!) I thought I'd share what my Household Notebook has in store for the June to-do's:

*weatherstrip doors and windows
*patch concrete sidewalks
*regrade the foundation
*refinish/paint furniture
*restock 1st aid for car/home
*clean the gutters
*let that beautiful fresh air in
*change your furnace filter
*check caulking outside around the house
*weed regularly
*flip mattress and wash bedding (the bedspread/comforter, etc.)

I truly hope you have a good and industrious day today.  Remember - it's better to do something than nothing!  May the Lord bless you in your efforts.  : )

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Good Afternoon

Fun displays at a county fair.

Yesterday was a good afternoon for sewing.  It was raining steady all day so to be in my sewing "studio" and finishing my apron was wonderful.  No TV, no radio, just the sound of the rain. The work was done inside the house and I couldn't do anything outside, so it was the obvious choice.  : ) Here are pictures of the apron:

It was suppose to have a flounce at the bottom, but unfortunately my hip and thigh area doesn't need flounce, so I opted for lace instead.  ; )

I like the way it turned out and it fits (which is the main thing).   I'll be making more of these for sure.

I've been in the kitchen this afternoon making a few more mixes to add to the pantry and I wanted to share one with you.  This is our VERY favorite brownie recipe that was given to me from a friend.  It is meant to go into a quart jar in layers for a pretty presentation for gift giving, but I just use a quart freezer bag for here at home.  


1st layer - Combine 1 cup flour and 1/2 tsp. salt
2nd layer - 6 Tbsp. baking cocoa
3rd layer - 3/4 c. granulated sugar
4th layer - 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
5th layer - 3/4 c. granulated sugar
6th layer - 6 Tbsp. baking cocoa
7th layer - 1/4 cup each - white and semi-sweet chocolate chips

To Bake:

Heat oven to 350.  Grease a 9-inch square pan.  Whisk brownie mix in a bowl.  Stir in 1/2 cup melted butter, 3 eggs beaten, and 1/2 tsp. vanilla.  Spread into pan.  Bake until toothpick has a few crumbs (not clean!), approximately 35 minutes.  Cool.  Makes 12 (or 6 in our case)

This a wonderful, chewy, brownie.  Not cakey.  YUM

I've been thinking about the "bloom where you're planted" ideas for ways that we can help out in our own area.  These are ideas for those of us who live in larger cities where there are homeless and others who are struggling financially.  I came up with four that I would personally like to work on:

1.  This is not my idea, but I heard that a local Christian radio station is making "bags of hope" to pass out at a concert they will be hosting in June.  They didn't specifically say what they were putting into their bags, but I kind of came up with my own.  I'm thinking $5.00 gift cards to a fast food restaurant, comb, a toothbrush and toothpaste, wet wipes, deodorant, and a tract, all put into a plastic bag.  I often see men on corners with signs and this would be just a little something to let them know I care.  Whether they are legitimately honest about going through a difficult time is not for me to say, but I'll leave that part to God.

2.  I was thinking about having a neighborhood clothing drive a couple of times a year (when people are taking out and putting away seasonal clothing) to take to local shelters.

3.  I would like to purchase umbrellas to have in the car at all times to hand out to anyone at bus stops.  I feel so guilty driving by in my car out of the elements and someone is getting drenched.

4.  I have mentioned before that I'd like to put a table out by the front curb with free things on it (weather permitting and as items are available of course).

Those are just a few things that I could think of.  Do any of you have more ideas?  : )

Well, that is it for today!  Thank you for dropping in.  Have a wonderful evening.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Back At It

Northwoods flowers.

After a long, quiet, restful weekend, I am motivated to get back to work.  I sound like a broken record when I say that it's another rainy day.  We have moss growing everywhere!  I'm so glad I put the tomatoes in the ground yesterday.  Now all they need is a bit of warmth and sunshine.  : )

My list of to-do's today were (are):

Ironing yesterday's laundry (done)
Grocery list/menu for the week (done)
Go through budget to stay on track (done)
Clean the bathtub (need to do yet)
Get out to the "studio" and get my apron finished (need to do yet)

When I was writing out the grocery list, I was thinking of what I really do have in the pantry that would easily make a week's worth of meals if there would be an emergency of some kind.   Sadly, there quite a few things I needed even though I've been trying to keep up in stocking it.  So, the first thing I did was go through all my recipes and figure out a few dishes and then write down what I needed to have on hand in order to make them.  I came up with about nine days worth of meals, including buying more meat for the freezer in order to prepare them but mostly using canned goods off the shelves.  I pretty much like to cook with fresh ingredients and I like to cook from scratch, but these meals would be the kind where I would not be able to have fresh around.  Once I purchase the items, I will not use them, but keep them for a time when we need them most.  That could be a power outage, shortage of money, unable to get out to the store, or just unexpected company.  I do, however, have to remind myself that food stored does not last forever and will have to check the "use by" date on a regular basis.  I also taped the menus up in the pantry so I will remember what I planned.

My other stock-up items for this month (June) will be different kinds of rice (long-grain, brown, and quick cooking), oatmeal (quick and long-cooking), and flour (just all-purpose), sugar, and yeast (for bread baking).

Having these items makes me feel just a little more prepared. 

Before I go I want to leave you with a Bible verse from this morning's reading:
"Wherever I cause my name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you."  (Exodus 20:24)

Well, I will continue to carry on!  How are you doing today?

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Bloom Where You're Planted

Azalea bush in the back yard.

This bush smells amazing.  It's wonderful to sit in the yard and every now and then the aroma fills the air.  We are experiencing a beautiful spring.  We've never seen the trees so full, the grass so green, the flowers and bushes so dramatic.  It is raining once again today.  The rain barrel is overflowing.  A pretty typical Memorial Day weekend where we live.  

"Bloom where you're planted" is a popular saying.  Sometimes that's easier said than done. Especially if you're not planted where you really want to be.  I'm a small town girl (well a bit older than a girl!) living in a big city (or first-ring suburb).  I get tired of hearing freeway traffic a few blocks away.  I get tired of planes going over.  I get tired of buses and sirens at all hours of the day.  I get tired of the busy-ness all around me.  People hurrying, rude drivers, angry neighbors. 

I long for the country.  A house overlooking nothing but open space.  Watching a sunrise in the morning and a sunset in the evening.  Quiet and peaceful.

Part of our sermon today was kind of based on blooming where you're planted and once again I have to stop my dreaming and get to the business of doing what needs to be done in the here and now. God "plants" each of us where He wants us to be at the moment.  He plants us in a specific neighborhood. He plants us in specific families.  He plants us in specific jobs.  And instead of always fighting that, we are to do what we can, to do His work in all of those places.  It was a good reminder.  It jolted my complacent mind back to what I can do to make a difference in our neighborhood and in our family. And since my job is homemaking, what can I do to make a difference even in our own home?  I'm looking forward to jotting a few ideas down and see what I can come up with and hopefully share them with you too!  : )

To kick off the weekend and the summer my husband I decided to begin our "Friday Fire Nights." We did this years ago but like everything else we just stopped doing it after kids grow up and people get busy.  But I felt the need to bring it back.  So, we invited my husband's sister, her husband, and his dad over.  We ate a supper (under a canopy) of Sloppy Joe's, chips, pickles, carrots and dip, and fruit salad.  Banana cake with cream cheese frosting was enjoyed for dessert.  After eating we all took our chairs over to the fire and sat until dark just relaxing and talking.  We couldn't believe what a wonderful evening it was.  The weather was at its best.   We're hoping that this will be a summer-long activity with friends and family.  Here are a few photos:

I've also been working on a few sewing projects.  Here are a couple of tops that I "redid" but unfortunately I'm not going to keep them.  Hopefully someone else will find them presentable.  I, will, however to continue to work on the other projects - apron, sleeveless top, and skirt.  : )

This is a before picture.  Sorry it's so dark.

This is the after picture with added lace around the top and an ornamental dangle bead in the middle.


After.  I used what I cut off the bottom to make a ruffle and then just added a button on top.

Not much but a little something to experiment with.  I'm just sad they didn't fit properly and the fabric wasn't sturdy enough.  I did, however, with a suggestion from a friend, buy some tops at Wal-Mart where the fabric is MUCH better, so maybe I'll experiment with them too!  : )

And, I wanted to show the dinner napkins that I said I was working on a while back.  I was working on them to be done in time for Mother's Day and this is what the place setting looked like with them. And I still have 7 more to do!  

Well, I think I'm caught up now.  : )  I probably won't be posting tomorrow because of Memorial Day.  Have a good rest of this Lord's Day.  Have a good day off tomorrow, remembering a veteran and all they did and still do to secure our freedom.  God Bless America.  

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Catching Up

It was finally a pretty day.  A day to be outdoors.   I went out to my sewing room around 8:00 this morning and worked until about 2:00 this afternoon on an apron that I cut out last week.  I'm almost done with it, but by the time 2:00 came around I knew I had to do something else.  So, I pulled weeds. This is something I've been needing to do for a long time.  I don't know why I don't do it on a more regular basis (like I wanted to) because when it's done, everything looks so nice.  I dug up some ferns that were growing in odd places and put them in a place that is a little more suitable.  It's so enjoyable to see everything coming up and flowering.  The iris is in bloom, the tiny little bluebells are so pretty, and even the peony has those busy little ants running all over it trying their hardest to help it along.   Then there's the lettuce......I really think they're afraid to get too big lest we have another cold snap.  They are just not doing well at all.  Plus, this year I'm trying the square foot garden with them, planting only one seed in each hole.  Well, tomorrow I'm going back to my rows. At the rate they're going now, we won't have lettuce until August.  That's kind of the fun thing about gardening.  A lot is trial and error.  Learning about what works where.  Unfortunately (depending on how you look at it) our backyard is getting quite shady with mature trees.  It's wonderful during the heat of the summer but not so good when you need things to grow.  I also need to buy the tomato plants now that it looks like the cold weather is behind us.  Gotta have tomatoes!!!  : )  So, catching up on sewing (which I have been itching to do) and catching up on yard work (but more to be done) was the theme of the day.

If I don't get to posting this weekend, I hope you have a nice Memorial weekend.  Remember to thank a veteran.  Even if you don't have a veteran in your life, go to a cemetery and put flowers on a grave in rememberance.

Ft. Snelling Cemetery in Minnesota

I have a friend whose dad died last night.  I'm thinking of you dear friend.   You are in prayer.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Interruptions, Distractions, Change of Plans

Well, so far, the plans I had for each day this week just didn't seem to happen.  Yesterday I had so much motivation to get to things (that all-important list of things) but only one thing happened.  AND it was a big one AND it took all day.  One item on my list was to go through our budget and pay bills. I started at 9:30 in the morning and by 3:30 in the afternoon I was finished.  THAT pretty much took care of the day.  I won't bore you with details, but I made a HUGE mistake in the ledger a while back. HUGE.  And I wasn't aware of it. It was only by going through statements that a red flag went up. So with ledger and monthly bank statements in hand I had to go to the bank so that they could help me. They did.  Then I had to go home and make quick work out of re-doing and re-figuring and now I am back on track, but I can't tell you how exhausting and worrisome it was.

Last night I was going through posts on different blogs and came across one (I'm sorry that I can't remember which one) that addressed the issue of what I titled my post for today.  Life never goes smoothly.  Or, if it does, it's for a very short period of time before something starts to happen. Something that gets us off track, discouraged, behind in our work.  But a thought came to me while being totally embarrassed by what I did that the interruptions, distractions, and change of plans, can sometimes be a blessing.  For a few weeks now, there had been this nagging feeling that something was wrong with our finances and yesterday I felt the need to go through months of statements (which I never do) and it was then that I found the mistake.  I honestly thanked the Lord because I knew the "nagging feeling" was from Him.  I believe with all my heart that the Lord is in the details of our lives.  He cares about us.  So, from now on, whenever something happens that takes me away from what I had originally planned, I am going to try and see if there is something else I'm suppose to take care of instead.  I'm thinking my to-do lists will have to start looking like this:

*light housekeeping - dust, vacuum, etc.
*clean the bathroom
*change of plans  : )

Seriously, I'm going to leave you now, run downstairs, and get to ironing!  

Have a wonderful rest of the day.  Thanks for dropping by.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Pass the Test Tuesday

In this morning's Bible study, the Israelites are being led by Moses and Aaron through the desert. (Exodus 16: 1-36)  Here is what I got out of it:

*Every time the Israelites grumbled, the Lord provided.  Quail and manna.  
*He gave instructions.  Some listened, some did not.
*He tested them.  He can do that.  He is God.

*We grumble.  We have much.  We want more.
*In His word, He tells us what we should do.  Some listen, some do not.
*He tests us.  He can do that.  He is God.

*We tend to think that we would act and react differently than the Israelites did.  We shake our heads and we puzzle over why they can't see how the Lord is providing them with what they need.  But aren't we the same sometimes?  We feel we deserve better than what we have now. But the truth is that the Lord knows exactly what we need and deserve and even when we are to receive it. Let us see how the Lord provides for us and then instead of grumbling for what we don't have, send a prayer of gratitude for what we do have.  Let's pass the test of contentment today!!  : )

I'm posting early and it's still cold and windy which means indoor work once again.  Like I said yesterday, there is always plenty to do!  So, here is what I am HOPING to get to today:

*go through budget/pay the bills
*clean tub and shower
*iron clothes from yesterday's laundry
*make cookie dough

Hoping to get to a little sewing this afternoon.  I was talking to a friend about the tops I've been working on.  I wore one of them with a skirt on Sunday and even though I liked the way the embellishment turned out, I just wasn't satisfied with the fit.  It is cut too low for me to be comfortable. I was constantly tugging at it and afraid of bending over!  So, I will wash and iron it and give it away. It makes me sad but when I wear something I have to feel like I can just move around in it and not think about whether or not it is situated in the right position.  I still have another one that I am going to try adding a lace insert and see if that helps.  I also have a skirt and apron to sew.  It's fun though.  I do learn something from project to project so that is a good thing.  : )

Have a good, industrious day today.  Thank you for stopping by.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Rainy Days and Mondays

My goodness, it is a chilly windy day today.  A good day to be indoors.  I really don't mind.  Rainy days and Mondays DON'T get me down.  : )  There is always something to do:

*laundry done and put away
*light cleaning (vacuuming, dusting, sweeping)
*cleaned the bathroom
*fresh bedding

I spent a good deal of time in the kitchen.  I decided to do my two week menu today instead of tomorrow to save a little time.  Here are my menus for a couple of weeks (not in any order):

*Tacos w/lettuce and sour cream, chips and salsa, fresh pineapple
*Tuna Casserole, lettuce salad w/carrots and cucumbers
*Bagel sandwich (fried eggs, cheese slices, bacon), fresh fruit
*Sloppy Joes, carrots and dip,  potato chips, jello
*Chicken Fajitas, chips and salsa, fresh fruit
*Baked Potato supper - w/cheese sauce, crumbled bacon, sour cream, chives, green onions - served with salad, and fresh baked cookies for desert
*A leftover night
*BBQ country ribs, oven potatoes w/cheese and sour cream, corn, berry dessert 
*Pancakes, bacon, orange slices
*Slow Cooker Asian Pork Tenderloin (new recipe), rice, mixed vegetable
*Create-a-Casserole night (with variety of pantry items), salad, fruit
*Pizza and salad
*An eat-out night
*Peal n' eat shrimp, rice pilaf, vegetable
*Chow Mein over rice, salad w/mandarin oranges and slices of red onion
*Baked pork chops, oven potatoes and carrots, homemade applesauce

What I made this morning:

*Restaurant Style Salsa

1, 14 oz. can tomatoes with juice
1, 10 oz. can Rotel tomatoes (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
a little lime juice

Pulse everything in blender or food processor until it's the consistency you like it to be and then try it with a tortilla chip and adjust seasonings to your taste.

*Homemade Bisquick Mix

5 cups all purpose flour
3 Tblsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt
1 cup shortening

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl.  Using your hands add shortening and mix it really well. Store in airtight container and use the same as for any Bisquick in a recipe.

*Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

1/4 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. onion flakes
1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. oregano flakes

To use:  add above mix to 1 lb. ground beef.  Add 1/2 c. water.  Simmer for 15 minutes

As I look through my menus for the upcoming weeks, I will have to make:

*cookie dough for the freezer
*pancake syrup
*dressing for salad
*pancakes for the freezer
*the Asian Pork rub mix
*and after buying ground beef this week, I will make hamburger patties for the freezer 
*homemade applesauce
*dill dip

Never before have I spent so much time in the kitchen, but I am determined to make what I can so I don't have to depend on convenience food for our meals.  Pre-made convenience foods may be easier and less time consuming, but I want healthier.  : )  What are you cooking up?

On Saturday I cut an apron out that I thought I'd get to sewing, but I'm trying to get up enough nerve to "bundle up" and go to my outdoor sewing room!  Brrrrrrrr...............  

Here I thought I'd have quite a bit of sewing done by now so maybe I should just bite the bullet and get out there.

Have a wonderful rest of the day and a good evening.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Beginning Sunday Thoughts

Storm over Lake Superior

I'm listening to thunder outside my window.  I like the sound of gentle thunder off in a distance but hoping it doesn't mean storms.  For half of my growing up years we lived in mobile homes so whenever a severe storm came up, we'd have to get in the car and drive to a safe place which was usually the county courthouse.  How scary it was to drive with the wind blowing and things flying around wondering if you were going to make it in time.  And why do most severe storms come at night when you can't see anything?  Over the years I've been in several severe storms where I wondered if we'd be OK.  If we'd come out of it unharmed.  And by God's mercy, we did.

I decided to post tonight instead of tomorrow since my thoughts have turned to Sunday.  The weekend turned out to be totally different than what was planned.   In the blink of an eye, things change.   It was a different kind of a storm.  Life has a way of throwing things in our path that only being on your knees before the Lord can calm.  I think that's why God allows it.  It's a fear and a feeling that something is not quite right.  That the enemy is trying very hard to get the best of you. To recognize the need for the Lord God Almighty is the beginning of victory.  Victory over the enemy of your soul.  How awesome is the Holy Spirit that convicts us. Instead of staying stuck in our fear, he reminds us that we only need to come to Jesus.

The weekends can tend to get a little too quiet for me.  Everyone seems to be so busy nowadays.  So, it was a nice surprise that company dropped in unannounced.  A niece with 3 of her 4 kids ranging in age from college student to a 1st grader.  What a wonderful visit we had.  Bringing to the evening a little life.  That was a unexpected blessing!  : )

Sunday thoughts:

*God is on the throne
*He is holy
*He is waiting for us to come to him
*He gives us the Holy Spirit to guide us
*He gives blessing in the midst of storms
*He knows what we need
*He loves and cares for us
*He provides just at the right time
*He is our defender
*He is our strength
*He is the everlasting God
*He makes all things new
*He gives grace and mercy
Add your own thoughts of praise!  : )

May you feel how God takes care of you and may you give Him all the glory.  Have a blessed Sabbath.  

Friday, May 15, 2015

Beginning a Weekend

This is kind of what everything looks like around here.  Beautiful lush green and pretty little raindrops on everything.  We do, however, need a little drying and sunshine for the vegetables to grow!   The poor little lettuce - just peeking through and not quite sure if they want to.

My husband usually has Fridays off, so Friday tends to be kind of a mix of things.  No schedule of getting things done unless it's totally obvious.  Last Friday we had to sit around the house waiting for a guy to take part of our siding off two sides of the house as we have had problems with wasps getting in.  Can anyone tell me why we are already seeing wasps and Monarch butterflies that we usually don't see until August?!  Hopefully today will be a bit different.  : )

*we do need to go on a couple of errands
*we do like to make a trip to the thrift store
*we will be having his dad over for supper and this is what we're having:

Ravioli Casserole

1 (28 oz.) jar spaghetti sauce
1 (25 oz.) pkg. frozen cheese ravioli, cooked and drained
2 c. (16 oz.) small curd cottage cheese
4 c. (16 oz.) shredded Mozarella cheese
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Spread 1/2 c. spaghetti sauce in ungreased 9 x 13 pan.  Layer w/half of ravioli, 1 1/4 c. of sauce, 1 c. cottage cheese and 2 c. Mozarella.  Repeat layers.  Sprinkle w/Parmesan cheese.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 30 - 40 minutes or till bubbly.  Let stand for 5-10 minutes.

 I like this because it's a pantry meal.  It's easy and inexpensive to have these items on hand.  It goes together very quickly.  I will serve it with a green salad and garlic bread.  Cupcakes for dessert.  : )

I did make time to embellish a couple of tops yesterday (photos hopefully will come).  I didn't do as much with them as I thought I was going to, but they look OK and they're a little different than just being plain.  I don't like the tops they sell lately - first, they are of such flimsy fabric, they are way too long (as if we all still had the figure of a teenager) and they are cut way too low!  I wish I could come up with a line of 50-something clothing that is pretty and modest and of some substance.  I keep looking at vintage patterns, but the ones I like are so expensive.   

The upstairs is clean for the weekend and maybe today is the day I get to the basement.  It's another cloudy, raw day so it would be the perfect time to do it.  I'm so wanting to go through things down there to get rid of.  It's amazing how much stuff we accumulate over the years that we don't even use anymore.  Someone else should benefit from it.  I keep thinking that it would be fun to set a table up once a week during garage sale season and just put things out there (for free) and have people take what they want (if only the weather would cooperate a bit).  We have done that with big items like bookcases, chairs, tables, and they never sit out there for very long!  : )

Well, I will say goodbye for now.  Have a wonderful day and weekend.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Beginning a New Day

In my Bible study this morning, I am reading from the book of Exodus where God is leading the Israelites through the desert to the Red Sea.  I love this section because it's all about the Lord.

*He did not lead them through the shortcut
*He spoke
*He led
*He went ahead of them
*He was in control of everything

I was thinking that this is how He is in our lives too.  He sometimes makes us go the long way around instead of the shortcut that we would most desire.  He speaks to us.  He leads us.  He goes before us. He is in control of everything.  And, He is to receive all the glory.  He is mighty.

How often do we try to take things into our own hands?  We need to learn to trust that God takes care of us.  Sometimes not the way we would want it, but the way He sees fit.  One of my favorite Bible verses comes from this reading:

"Do not be afraid.  Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. ..........The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still."  (Exodus 14: 13 & 14)  I have, personally, experienced this.  Every time the Lord brings me through something my faith and trust grows.  That is why, sometimes, there are no shortcuts.


I am posting early today so that I can get to the tasks at hand.  : )

*make salsa
*make pancake syrup
*clean the upper shelves of the bathroom and clean out cabinet
*mop the bathroom floor
*another load of laundry and a little ironing

Not a busy day and I'm looking forward to it, but so that I won't have to stop what I am doing later in the day, I'm heading into the kitchen to put a Crockpot meal together:

Crockpot Swiss Chicken Casserole

6 boneless and skinless chicken breasts
6 slices of Swiss cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/4 c. milk
2 c. stuffing mix
1/2 c. butter, melted

Lightly grease the crockpot.  Place chicken breasts in pot.  Top w/cheese.  Combine soup and milk, stirring well.  Spoon over cheese; sprinkle w/stuffing mix and drizzle melted butter over all.  Cook on Low for 8 - 10 hours.  (Not a casserole for those trying to lose weight!)  I'll be serving it with green beans and fruit.

Another cloudy, rainy day today.  Everything is so beautiful and green.  We have an azalea bush in the backyard that is such a brilliant pink and the neighbors have lilac bushes in full bloom.  What a beautiful sight!

I pray that you will experience a good day and God's presence as you go about doing what needs to be done.  Remember, do everything as unto the Lord!  : )

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

It's Better To Do Something Than Nothing

Since the beginning of the new year, I keep finding myself saying this (the title of this post).  I found myself saying it this morning after my exercises.  I only exercise 3 mornings a week, but that's 3 mornings more than I did a couple of months ago.  So, it's better to do something than nothing. I'm trying to stick to that on almost everything I do lately.  

It has been a fine day.  We have had a sunny, dry, day today after a very rainy week and it seems that having the sun shining makes me feel a little more energetic.  Here are the things I got done today:

*grocery shopping 
*fried up taco meat for the freezer
*mashed some overripe bananas for the freezer
*divided up bagels and a loaf of french bread for the freezer
*made granola
*did a load of laundry
*pulled some weeds in the front yard 
*put supper on the stove to simmer

Again, quite a few things I did today I could use the better to do something than nothing saying.  I didn't have to fry up taco meat, but I know that it will save time later.  I didn't have to iron, but keeping up with it is so much better than having a lot to do later.  I didn't have to pull weeds, but they will (and do) get out of control.   I found that I didn't get to everything I wanted to today, but I did SOMETHING.  That's part of the joy of homemaking.  I never wake up in the morning wondering what in the world I'm going to do today.  There are always things to do.  : )

My new thing that I'm going to work on is freezer meals.  I'm finding that with the nicer weather comes a desire to work out in the sewing room or in the yard and to have ready-made meals to just thaw and pop into the oven would be wonderful.  That's where the taco meat idea came about.  Other ideas that I want to implement are:

*grilled chicken breasts to have for summer salads
*make hamburger patties (not cooked) available to just pop on the grill
*spaghetti sauce
*sloppy joes
*pulled pork
*cookie dough
*pie crusts
*baked quick breads

I'm already working on mixes that can be put together quickly so I'm really excited about setting a couple of days aside to make these freezer items as well.  : )

Again, I am not sure if I've posted the following recipe but this is what we are having for supper tonight - it's one of our favorites:

Spicy Beef Sauce over Noodles

Heat skillet till hot and add 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil.
Add:  2 tsp. minced garlic, 1 1/2 tsp. minced gingerroot, and 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper.  Saute' for about 5 seconds.
Add:  1 1/2 c. chopped onion and stir-fry till transparent.
Add:  1 lb. hamburger and stir-fry till light brown. 
In a small bowl, combine 1/4 c. chicken broth, 1/3 c. hoisin sauce, 1/4 c. soy sauce, 1/4 c. beef broth
Stir into meat mixture, cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes stirring once or twice.  Dissolve 2 Tbsp. cornstarch into 1/4 c. chicken broth and slowly stir into meat mixture; cook and stir till sauce is thicken.  Serve on vermicelli noodles, cooked and drained.  Top with sliced green onions.

This is so good.  I usually double it for leftovers.  : )  Enjoy!  (I'm serving mandarin oranges with it.)

It looks like it is going to be a lovely evening, so since I didn't get around to sewing today I think I will take advantage of it being so pretty outside and see what I can get done.  I love the evenings as the neighborhood quiets down and the birds are still chirping and the soft light replaces the harsh midday sun.  

Thank you for stopping by!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

By The Book

Today I needed a bit more structure so I opened my household notebook and went by the book.  : )

*re-wrote this week's menus and checked to see if I needed to add to the grocery list for tomorrow.  It's week two of my menus from last week so most food items were purchased then.  Mostly what I need to get tomorrow are the fresh items to add to the meal (salad fixings, milk, etc.).

*made pizza dough for the freezer - 

Pizza Dough

3 1/2 - 4 cups flour
1 tsp. sugar
2 1/4 tsp instant dry yeast
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 Tbsp. olive oil (or other oil works)
*additional flour for rolling out

1.  Combine dry ingredients, starting with 3 1/2 cups flour in a large bowl of standing mixer.   Add the water and oil and mix until the dough forms into a ball with the hook attachment of your mixer. Add additional flour as needed until the dough just starts to no longer stick to the sides of the bowl. Knead it until it forms a firm ball.

2.  Cover and let rise until doubled (about 1 hour).  Punch the dough down and divide into two equal portions.  (I put each portion into separate freezer bags - remember to write down what it is and the date you put it into the freezer)

3.  Pre-heat oven to 425 - 450.  On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to desired thickness.  Let rest 10 minutes.  Top as desired and bake for 15 - 20 minutes, watching carefully.

Please forgive me if I've shared this recipe with you already.  I really don't go back to see what I've posted before.  

This is a very nice dough.  We really enjoy having dough in the freezer for a quick pizza once in a while.  Just remember to have canned tomato sauce on hand (you don't even need to add a pizza seasoning to it), along with your favorite pizza meat (if you choose), and Mozzarella cheese.

*made another mix for my pantry - a "Hidden Valley" ranch dressing mix.  I'm trying not to use the convenient bottled dressings for salads anymore, but I do need to remember to have mayo and buttermilk on hand for this one.  I have not tried this to see if it tastes good, so I won't post the recipe just yet.

*cleaned the fridge - a good time to do this since most of the food is used up and it's looking a bit empty.

*went through our budget to see if we're on track.

*cleaned the bathtub.

*hemmed another top. (1 more to go!)

*posted my blog.  : )

This will take me up to getting back into the kitchen to begin our evening meal.  

It's been so chilly and windy today that I just stayed put in the house which ended up to be just fine. How has your day been?

Monday, May 11, 2015

Going With The Flow

I've said many times that I love my lists.  For me, lists are reminders of what I should get done and what I'd like to see get done.  But I also love the flow of housework.  Those moments when you are doing what needs to get done and it flows into something else other than what you had written down. Today is a little like that.  

When downstairs folding laundry and putting them away and hanging up clothes to be ironed, instead of cleaning the basement (like my list said) it was more natural to just begin ironing the clothes that were hanging up.  

I did some light housekeeping upstairs and it just flowed into puttering.  Putting some things away permanently (until I need them again), cleaning out a closet (that was NOT on my list) and rearranging items in the kitchen.  

I got the house back in order from yesterday and while doing that I rearranged a couple of pieces of furniture.  (Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am ALWAYS rearranging furniture!)  : )  I look at too many magazines. LOL

It's so chilly today that I did not go out to my sewing studio, but I did go out to bring in another top and finished hemming it on my work table in the living room with classical music playing in the background and a cup of coffee off to the side.  After I finish this post, I will go out and cut the bottom off another top and iron up the hem to be stitched later.

Even our evening meal changed.  I thought we were going to have fish fillets, but I noticed in the fridge that a few cinnamon bagels need to be eaten, so I will scramble up some eggs and serve a salad alongside the bagels.  It's important to me to use things up in the fridge before I make something new.

So, once again, my list was useful in helping me to remember certain things, but it feels homey to just let the work flow from time to time.  There are times when we have to stick to the tasks at hand until they are done, but I think most of us know when we can lighten up a bit.

Well, I had better get my coat and mittens on (haha) and get out to my other top.  I'm looking forward to getting the hemming done on all of them (2 done, 2 more to go) so the fun work of embellishment can begin.

I hope you are having a good day and thank you so much for stopping by.  : )  Have a wonderful evening.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A New Day

Mother's Day turned out to be a nice day (not so much the weather though).  We had our yummy lunch and then played several games of Bingo with prizes of king-sized candy bars!  Lots of laughter which felt so good and then cake and ice cream was enjoyed afterwards.  

Surprisingly, after everyone was gone, I had a little cry.  While I am grateful for so much, I sometimes feel the rapidity of the years.  I miss a lot of how it use to be when we were all so much younger and life seemed so much simpler.  There are people I miss and there are unfulfilled expectations.  This feeling, however, will pass and I will have my nightly rest and a new day will dawn (Lord willing).  : )

Tomorrow brings:

*getting things back to "normal" - with a small house I have to tuck things away in closets or in the basement to make room for company, so I will have to get them back to their original places.
*laundry - I tried to throw small loads in all weekend to not get behind so it will mostly be towels and bedding and then putting items away that are already washed and dried.
*clean the basement - the nice thing about having company over is that I cleaned the upstairs so I won't have to do that again - the perfect time to concentrate on another part of the house.
*hopefully get to some weed pulling if it stops raining - I almost don't like saying that because we need the rain and it could be a long time before we have more.
*hopefully get to a little sewing (hemming the tops before embellishing them)

That SHOULD take me up to supper!  Our menu for tomorrow:

Baked fish fillets (Tilapia)  just drizzle olive oil over and sprinkle with lemon pepper seasoning
Frozen mixed vegetables
Pasta with butter and garlic sauce

I hope each one of you had a fine day today and that you will begin this week with much encouragement and motivation to begin the work in your home.  God's blessing on you. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Preparing for Mother's Day

Mother's Day is a little bittersweet for me.  Almost 10 years ago my mother-in-law passed away.  She was a big help in teaching me how to be a good homemaker.  She loved her home and she had much creativity in everything from decorating to cooking.  We miss her.  My own mom passed away a couple of years ago this month.  She worked so hard and never had much time for her home but she did the best she could.  She loved her gardens, canned tomatoes, and tried to keep up with the housework. I miss her as well.

Growing up I was hoping for lots of children of my own, but over 30 years ago I was told I wouldn't be able to have children because when my mom was carrying me she almost miscarried and the dr.'s gave her a drug to prevent it.  Well, that drug kind of messed up my reproductive system and I had two miscarriages myself.  BUT!  The Lord was good to me.  He allowed me to have one full-term pregnancy which ended up in having a son.  Twenty-six years ago.  A healthy, wonderful son and he is my miracle.  So, Mother's Day means more to me because of that.  I was allowed to give birth, and raise, a child.  It was a gift.  I continue to look at him, a man now, and am always grateful.  : )

Since I will be hosting our Mother's Day luncheon tomorrow, I will be busy today:

*cleaning the house
*setting the table
*make the make-ahead mashed potatoes
*thinking of a game we can play

Our menu is:

*Grilled and fried chicken (which I am purchasing from the store)
*Mashed potatoes
*Salad (my sister-in-law is bringing this)
*Dinner rolls
*Cake and ice cream (my son is providing this)
*Assorted beverages

Unfortunately our weather is going to be stormy and rainy so we'll have to stay indoors.  We will have a small group this year so our house will be able to hold everyone.  : )  I am looking forward to making everything pretty and comfortable today so that we can relax and enjoy each other's company tomorrow.

I will not post tomorrow because of the busy-ness, so I will bid you a "HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY" today to all you wonderful mom's that love and care for your families.  God bless you.

Friday, May 8, 2015


I've had one of those weeks where I felt if I couldn't stop the doing of housework and get to something creative I would burst.  Nothing so dramatic as that but I was getting that restless feeling. So yesterday was the day that I did just the basic necessary housework and then devoted the day to sewing.  

*I finally finished the 9th dinner napkin so that I will have enough on Mother's Day.  I'm hoping to take a picture to prove it!

*Last weekend I bought 4 tops that are much too long, so I'm beginning the process of re-fashioning them by cutting the bottom off and re-hemming them.  And then with the fabric I cut off, I'm trying to think of what I can do to make a matching scarf or a pretty ruffle or a fabric flower to embellish the tops with.  I will take pictures when I'm done.  This has been very fun.  It almost makes you feel like a fashion designer!  

*I re-cut the skirt that didn't quite fit right and am looking forward to re-sewing that.  At least with this pattern I know it will fit because I've made a skirt from it before.  

So, I have plenty to work on which is fun.  I'm enjoying my "studio" outdoors.  Yesterday it was quite cozy with the rain coming down, the birds singing, the bunnies hopping around and hot coffee.  : )

When it was time to come in and make supper, I tried a new recipe that I'd like to share with you.  

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

2 Tblsp. butter
1 cup cottage cheese (not lowfat)
2 cups milk (not skim)
1 tsp. dry mustard
pinch of cayenne
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt (I thought it could use even less)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 pound sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 pound elbow macaroni, uncooked

1.  Heat oven to 375 and position an oven rack in upper third of oven.  Use 1 Tblsp. butter to butter a 9-inch baking pan.

2.  In a blender, puree cottage cheese, milk, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg and salt and pepper together.  Reserve 1/4 cup grated cheese for topping.  In a large bowl, combine remaining grated cheese, milk mixture and uncooked pasta.  Pour into prepared pan, cover tightly with foil and bake 30 minutes.

3.  Uncover pan, stir gently, sprinkle with reserved cheese and dot with remaining Tblsp. butter.  Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes more, until browned on top.  Let cool 15 minutes before serving.

This went together so quickly (which I love) and it tasted fantastic.  Enjoy!  : )

I served it with salmon patties and a green salad.

Have a wonderful upcoming weekend.