Tuesday, January 30, 2018

February To-Do's

The February picture from our Gooseberry Patch calendar.   

It's going to be kind of a busy day tomorrow, so I wanted to get the February to-do's up today.  

*change the furnace filter
*declutter shelves, cabinets and drawers in EVERY room - (SO glad I started working on this in January!)
*flip your mattresses/wash ALL the bedding (mattress pad, bedskirt if you have one, bedspread, pillow covers and cases, sheets)
*repair any creaks in the stairs, floors, or furniture
*inspect your house for any ice damage
*remove debris from your drier vent

That's it!!!!  Not bad at all except for the decluttering part of it and if you were like a whole lot of others after the new year, you've probably already been working on this.  So good to get things in order and remove clutter that you haven't used or don't plan on using.  Enjoy the process! 

Since I've been working on major decluttering, I'm going to finally get back to the monthly cleaning schedule.  The monthly schedule allows me to take one room at a time and now I can begin to deep clean.  When I declutter I don't clean except for the general upkeep a room needs in order to be clean.  Now that the decluttering is getting towards the end, I can go back and be specific and deep clean.  For example, Week One in February (for me) finds me in the kitchen.  So here is what I will be doing next week:

*wash the curtains/dust the blinds/clean the windows
*clean the light fixture
*clean any pictures and/or knickknacks 
*wash the trash container
*clean the oven
*clean the fridge in/out/behind
*clean under the sink
*clean the toaster/coffee pot
*dust off all shelves

And because I've already gone through all the drawers and cabinets in the decluttering process those are done and in order so I don't have to think about that.  Just cleaning.  : )

I hope this is some help to you and will motivate you to keep up with the taking care of your home.  And remember, lists are to be of help not to stress you out.  Only you know what you can do or what needs to be done that hasn't been done in a while. Even an hour a day will get you on your way to keeping up.  It makes a huge difference in our attitude and how we feel about ourselves when we take care of our homes.  Again, don't think of it as drudgery, enjoy it!!!

Thanks for stopping by.  God bless.

Monday, January 29, 2018

I Love Mondays!

This Hyacinth smells wonderful!

Like the above post title says - I love Mondays!  I'm always ready to get to work on Mondays.  After a day of rest on Sunday, I look forward to working.  Here's what I accomplished today:

*dusted the furniture and floors in every room of the house
*vacuumed every room in the house
*did 6 loads of laundry - this included all the bedding and area rugs and cleaning rags and one small load of whites are soaking now
*cleaned the bathroom
*mopped the kitchen and bathroom floors
*did my morning stretches and lifted weights (I'm trying to get into an exercise routine - we'll see)
*cleaned the laundry area after all the laundry was done - (my laundry area is NOT pretty so it's a difficult area for me to get excited about but, like everything else, it needs to be done!)
*threw out a few things from the laundry area and found a couple of bags worth of stuff to give away
*made homemade laundry detergent -

I know "recipes" abound for this, but here is what I did:

Poured 1, 4 lb. box of washing soda; 1, 4 lb. box of borax; 4, 1 lb. boxes of baking soda; and 3 bars of Zote bar soap (which I grated on a box grater) into a large container with lid and mixed really well.  To use - add 2 heaping Tblsp. to each load of laundry.  With this detergent, even the cleaning rags come out smelling good!  (You can also use Kirk's castile soap, or Ivory soap with this too)

*A side note about homemade detergent - if you look into the washer while it is washing your clothes, you will notice that there is not a lot of soap suds.  This is good.  We are so used to seeing soap suds in cleaning that we think the clothes cannot get clean without them, when in fact, we use way too much soap and then soap is hard to get out completely.  I've been reading that this can be the cause of a lot of skin conditions.  So, no suds is okay!!

Having said that, I remember making homemade dish soap and not having suds in the dishwater didn't seem right to me.  That is one area that I need to see suds! So I don't use that any more.  : (

I now I need to get into the kitchen to get our supper going.  Looking forward to the evening - I'm tired, but it's a good tired.  : )  Thank you for your visit - I DO appreciate it.  God bless.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Last Sunday of January

Photo from the Black Hills of South Dakota trip a few years ago.

January almost gone already.  Christmas seems like a LONG time ago and now we're turning the corner this week looking into February.  I'm kind of thinking this year will go as quickly as last year.  Is it an age thing?  When I was young, it seemed like time didn't go fast enough!  It still seems strange to write the numbers 2018.  In two short years it'll be 2020 and sounds so futuristic - like we should be beaming ourselves all over the place instead of driving.  The only way I would want to be beamed someplace is if the molecules, when put back together once I get there, would make me twenty pounds thinner and no bags under my eyes!  : o

I feel like living in these times takes great fortitude.  The definition of fortitude - "strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage."  We live in dangerous times, painful times, and times filled with adversity.  Just when we think we've heard  of everything, something new comes up.  Yet we have to have the  "strength  of mind" to live through it.  And THAT is not easy. 

As homemakers, women have such a good opportunity to try and make their homes a special place that when you enter the door there is some relief from what is constantly thrown at us.  You can create an atmosphere of peace and contentment even if, for some, it will be short-lived because of having to go out into the world again the next day.  But even then, you can create a home where that loved one will look forward to going to at the end of the day.

Some ways of making home special are:

*meals prepared with love - are they good and nutritious?  Are they family favorites?  Does it make your home smell good?  There is a time and a place for snacking and even a take-out meal once in a while, but good old-fashioned cooked meals are best.  I remember going back home for visits just knowing that in the morning Mom would have her famous cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  : )
*a house that is clean - even for women who work outside the home, they are still homemakers and the home still needs to be cleaned.  This is a must-do.  Not perfection, but clean.  Especially the bathroom, the bedroom, and the kitchen.  When you walk into your home after being out for a while, how does it smell?  Get to the root of the problem - don't try to cover it up with sprays.  That is not clean.
*a house that is organized - do you or does everyone in your home have trouble with knowing where things are when they're needed?  Is time wasted just looking for something in the morning?  A home should have "a place for everything and everything in it's place."  Yes, there will be times when we get hurried during the week and we put things down and forget about it and then the pile just grows and important things get buried, but that should be the exception - not the norm.  Just establishing a habit of putting things away instead of down creates a peaceful home.
*a house that is pretty -  we all have our idea of what looks nice and what is pretty.  Even under the same roof we may have differing opinions, but try to strike a balance and create rooms that are nice to look at.  It's good to come home and look around and see things that bring joy just by being there.  This doesn't have to cost a lot of money.  There are houses that are decorated "just for looks" but you wouldn't want to spend much time there because you'd be afraid of spilling something on the while carpet or mess up the multitude of pillows on the couches, or lay something down that doesn't belong there.  The rooms are gorgeous but you can't relax.  Decorate your home so it looks nice but not stuffy.  

So, I guess what I'm getting at in my post today is that life is challenging in these days.  Going out into the world and having to be exposed to its worldly behavior isn't easy but we can't be hermits either.  But there is one place we all can go and decompress and that one place is home.  Like I've said before, home is where you make it and we need to encourage each other to make it the best place we possibly can.  As Christian women, we should be praying for the Lord to help us in the areas that we find difficult.  I went to see a new Dr. the other day and she asked me what I did for a living and I told her I was a homemaker.  I was ready for a strange look or a bit of silence on her part, but she graciously said that homemaking was a hard job that doesn't get enough credit.  I was astounded but so pleased.   : )   

I hope that we all will be motivated this upcoming week to make our homes into pretty, comfortable, relaxing, and sweet places to reside and for those who enter the doors.  It takes time, energy, and effort, but the rewards are great.  God bless you.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Using a Homemaker's Intuition

Things to come.  : )

This week has been very different than what I usually do.  The first couple of weeks in January was getting to all the nooks and crannies of the house and getting rid of things and re-organizing what was left.  The week after that was all about being in the kitchen and preparing food and planning and, well, this week has been a week of intuition.  Looking around and seeing and doing things that I haven't done in a long time and while doing them it just felt so good.

On one of the days I was looking around at all the houseplants and feeling the need to just spend time in taking care of them.  So I went from room to room and one by one took each plant into the kitchen and "cleaned them up" so to speak.  Watering, clipping off the brown ends, taking off dead leaves, moving them to other parts of the house where they might flourish a little better.  I wrote a list of needs for some of these plants - a bigger pot, new soil, etc. - I have plans to hang one of the plants because it's getting so big and would look lovely hanging up.  This whole process took a full morning and was so relaxing yet was important too in the health of the plants we enjoy.  It was especially nice to do in the dead of winter.  I've heard and read how important green plants are for our health and well-being and how working with them is so very good for us - I believe it!  : )  

One afternoon I kept looking at my tote that carries a couple of crafting/sewing projects and I just felt this need to grab one of the projects and work on it:

I love yo-yo's.  I love the vibrant colors, the shapes, and everything you can make with them.  Anyone, though, who has ever made these lovely little things, knows it's a labor of love.  First you have to cut out all the circles and then sew them into tinier circles and then, like a quilt, try to put them together in a pretty way and then sew that together.  It's definitely a project where you need time, but the effort pays off.  It's a wonderful way to use up the stash of fabric scraps you might have in the sewing room.  Anyway, this was a different thing to do this past week as well but I just felt that I needed to do it.

And that's making a home.  The cooking and the cleaning and the maintaining are all important components of keeping a house, but it's the other things as well.  The taking care of what you have, the crafting and the sewing and the baking just for fun.  I believe in always having a project nearby to work on.  I think we all have this creative side that is just screaming to get out.  I know that it takes some trial and error to figure out what we truly love to do.  I have tried many craft projects over the years that I simply don't have the patience for, but when I find out which ones I do enjoy, the joy is wonderful.  I've narrowed my crafting interests down to fabric and paper.  Sewing, embroidery, fabric crafts like the one above, and then decorating gift bags, making cards, decorating envelopes - I could sit all day and work on them.

I would encourage you to try and find something (if you haven't already) that you can work on and be creative with.  Something that gets you away from the tv screen or the computer.  Maybe put some music on in the background, put a pot of tea or coffee out, and just use that time to make things.  Forget about perfection.  Some things work out, some don't - but don't get discouraged.  What do you have in your home right now that you can make something out of?  Do you have a pattern for a skirt that you've wanted to try?  Do you have an image in your head that you'd like to draw out and then embroider?  Is there a fancy cake recipe you'd like to try?  Instead of buying your next birthday card for someone, do you want to try to make one?  What is it within you that you've been thinking about and that you're itching to try?  Make your own jewelry because you can't quite find what you like in the stores?  Again, I would encourage you to try.  At least try.  If one thing doesn't work, go on to another.  But try.  : )

Have a good upcoming weekend and thanks for dropping by!!!!!!  God bless.

Monday, January 22, 2018

A Snow Storm and Hot Soup

The view from my window.  I sat for a good part of the afternoon doing a month's worth of menus and watched the snow get deeper and deeper.

We've been sitting pretty high and dry for quite a while hearing about everyone else getting the snow storms.  Well..........it's our turn now.  : o    I will admit it's pretty, but I don't have to go out in it! Cars are creeping along on our side streets.  Really deep right now. I get so nervous when it's like this because some people don't slow down and then they can't stop when they have to.  I'm sure the evening news will be full of accident reports.  Need to lift them all up in prayer and that they will be careful!

Fortunately (for me) it's been an indoor day.  A day that's been devoted mostly to planning and filling in planners.  Like I said above, I've been working on a month's worth of menus and again checking the freezer and fridge and then writing out the list for grocery shopping this week.  I really like this so much better than the every week menu plan.  We're saving SO much more money this way and the shopping trips are easy in and out because it's just a matter of filling in with milk and fresh produce and maybe a few extras.  It DOES take quite a bit of time up front, but then it's done and I don't have to think about it until next month!  Happy day.  : )

Because of the blustery snowstorm, soup always comes to mind and I've had a recipe in my "to try" collection for a long time now and decided that today was the day.  It's called "Depression Era Corn Chowder" and it uses things from the pantry - items most of us have on our shelves.  This makes a LOT of soup and if I added the ingredients up it would maybe come to be about $6.00 for a big batch of soup.  I tried it.  We liked it.  I'm keeping it.  I'll make it again.  : )  So here it is:


2 cans of chicken broth (I used a 32 oz. carton)
2, 15 oz. cans whole kernel corn
1 large white onion, diced
3 cups diced potatoes
2, 12 oz. cans evaporated milk
1/3 cup butter
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot over medium heat, combine broth, corn, onion, and potatoes.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until potatoes are just tender.  Stir in evaporated milk and butter until butter is just melted.  Season with salt and pepper and serve at once.

Very easy.  Very inexpensive.  Very good.  We enjoyed it for our wintery lunch.

*I wanted to add that I had bacon that I also fried up and crumbled on top.  Of course, this adds to the cost but since I already had it I already paid for it so it really didn't cost more for us.  But, I must say, it was really delicious with the bacon bits on top!!  : )  Here are a few photos of the process:

The ingredients.

Getting ready to simmer without the milk and butter.

Milk and butter added and all dished up - sprinkled with a bit of bacon.  Scrummy.  : )

I hope you can give it a try.  Thanks for dropping by for a short visit.  God bless.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sunday Morning

It's only January, but I'm kind of looking forward to days like these again.  : )  This is a vacation photo from Grand Marais, Minnesota.

My goodness.  It seems like I was just here, but here it is Sunday already!  The weeks fly by at lightening speed.  I think the one word that I can use to describe the past week is praise.  I love uneventful weeks.  I love weeks filled with work and some rest.  I love weeks where there was a little of everything good.  Talks on the phone with family and friends.  E-mailing back and forth with others and getting together with people that mean so much to me.  A bit of creativity in crafting.  A bit of taking care of my family with good food and keeping the house.  A bit of time spent planning and thinking of the upcoming Spring.

I finished the Book of Psalms last week and now I'm into the Book of Proverbs.  The Psalms are so helpful in that they bring comfort and give you words to pray when you can't think of the words yourself because of difficult circumstances.  Proverbs, however, gives you instruction.  They teach.  They tell you how God wants us to act and react and live our lives in accordance to the way He wants us to.  And I definitely NEED that!!!!  : )

As I've said before, when reading the Bible I write notes.  I write notes in order to go back and review what I've read and be reminded of certain things.  

Proverbs is for:
*attaining wisdom and discipline
*understanding words of insight
*acquiring a disciplined and prudent life
*doing what is right and just and fair
*for getting guidance

(All from Chapter 1)

And then after reading and writing, I pray for these things.  Wisdom, discipline, understanding, insight, prudence, righteousness, fairness, guidance.  I pray for these things because I know that I'm a sinner and these things don't come easily.  It is only by God's grace that He would help me and give these characteristics to me - those things that are in His nature, but not mine.

I looked up the word "prudence" - I kind of knew but I wanted the definition - "exercising good judgement or common sense, careful about one's conduct."  So, just that one word alone is worthy of being prayed for.  There are times when I feel like I'm on an emotional roller coaster (all in one day!) I wake up happy, then somebody says or does something and then I'm upset, then something happens and I'm happy again, then I get aggravated by something else later.  Up, down, up, down.  So, I'm sure you can see why I would want to pray that God would provide the above list of attributes.

I'm looking forward to my study of the Proverbs.  I've read them many times, but I'm also in a different place in my life that I was before.  That's the beauty of Scripture.  It meets you where you are and it will speak to you at the moment you need to hear it.  Which is also a praise!!!  : )

May we all experience a week of being guided and taught by our Lord.  May we thank Him when He does and may we confess our disobedience to Him when we don't accept the guidance and teaching and then be sure to get back on track.  He loves us with an everlasting love and is ALWAYS there for us.  Reach out for Him today and feel the difference only He can make.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Giving Throughout the Year

Beautiful flowers in the midst of winter.   : )

I saw a commercial on the television that I'm so glad they aired (usually commercials are a frustration to me).  This commercial showed a mother and child in the food line at a shelter and the caption read - "The holidays are over, but the need is still great."

We forget don't we?  Once Christmas is over and our holiday giving is done, we kind of pack the Christmas spirit away with all the rest of the things.  But the needs of others never goes away.  People are still hungry, people are still cold, people are still without shelter, people are still without the basic needs of this life - men, women, and children alike.

I think we become so overwhelmed by this thought that we feel like there isn't possibly anything we could do to fill the need, but if all of us helped just one person each month, that would be significant.  Whether we live in cities or suburbs or small communities or out in the country somewhere, we can be of help to someone.  I grew up in a small town and we were constantly aware of those who could use some help (as a matter of fact, WE were one of those families).  I live in the suburb of a large city now and still am constantly aware of those who could use some help.

So, let's unpack the Christmas spirit that we may have put away until next Christmas and begin to look around and see the need.  Here are some possible ways to do that:

*one of the best ways to help is financially - just writing a check every month is of great help.  That way they can decide how they want/need to use the money.  (One thing you never want to do is give money to the person on the street - instead a good idea is to buy gift cards ahead of time for fast food places and give them one of those.)
*select one charitable organization and stick with it - call them and ask what their needs are.  Some need very tangible items like food, clothing, toiletries, toys, etc. and then set some money aside for that and then go shopping!  I don't know about you but shopping for myself is a chore, shopping for others is a joy!!  : )
*make things to bless others - in February I love to make a Valentine basket filled with all kinds of things a woman would like - shampoo/conditioner, soaps, chocolates, stuffed animal, tea, a good book, blanket, etc. and then drop it off at Valentine's Day to a local woman's shelter.  These women need our love and kindness.
*go through your local church and give to the various things they might be collecting for - this month our church gathers items for the local pro-life organization - asking for diapers, wipes, baby clothes, gift cards, etc. - at Christmas we give shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, etc.  - If your church doesn't have this kind of giving set up, maybe you could be the one to head it up!  Every month could be something different - ask people to donate Bibles to send to prisons, ask people to donate socks for the local shelters (did you know that socks happen to be the biggest need for shelters?), ask people to bring pillowcases and blankets for the local hospitals and nursing homes, ask people to bring canned goods for the local food shelf (or if your community doesn't have a food shelf, start one!!), ask people to bring hats, mittens, and scarves for another shelter, ask people to bring umbrellas for the upcoming rainy Spring months to hand out to those waiting for buses - the list of charitable giving could go on and on and on ............ and with many hearts and hands to give, a lot of people can be helped.  : )
*donate your time - can you serve food, or help cook the food?

And this is just a short list of some things we all can do throughout the year.  All we need to do is put our thinking caps on and look around and maybe make a few calls and then get busy and do them.  I tend to do some of these things on my own, but how about getting your neighborhood involved?  How about getting your lady friends together once a month?  Maybe your small group at church?  I think we all want to do something to help our fellow man, but not sure where to begin so getting a group together you would be able to accomplish much.  

Just something to think about as we go into a new year.  A reminder that it's not just about us.  It's not only the right thing to do but it also is a great help to the giver.  It gets our minds off our problems and worries and woes and is a positive way to bring joy to others.  Like I always say........I hope you can give it a try!!!!  : )

God bless your day and weekend.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Candied Orange Peel

During the winter months (and especially during cold/flu season) we eat a lot of citrus fruit and this idea came to me today.  I've candied orange peel in the past, but totally forgot about it.  All those orange peels gone!  I'm hoping I will make up for it now.  : )

These are very simple to prepare and wanted to share it with you as they are SO delicious.  You can eat them as is as a quick snack, use them in a dessert, gelatin, or pie - or you can reconstitute them for cakes, cookies, quick breads, etc.  Here are the directions:

*oranges - today I made mine with mandarin oranges 
*1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
*3/4 cup water

Rinse the oranges before peeling.  When peeling the oranges for eating save the peels in a bowl covered with plastic wrap until you feel you have enough.  Be sure to remove as much as the white part (the pith) and then cut into narrow strips.  Place the strips of peel in saucepan and cover with cold water (not the 3/4 cup water).  Place over high heat and bring to a boil.  Drain.  And repeat this two times.  In a small bowl combine the sugar and the 3/4 cup water and when you drain the peels for the last time, pour the sugar water into the same pan and and bring to a simmer.  Let the sugar water simmer for about 8 minutes and then add the drained peel back into the pan and cook in the sugar water for about 45 minutes to 1 hour and resist the temptation to stir it - if you feel you need to move it just swirl the pan to make sure all the peel is covered with the syrup.  At the end of this period, the peels should be translucent.  Drain any remaining syrup from the peels into a jar for another use.  I want to try some in a cup of tea.  : )  I had quite a bit of syrup left but sometimes you might only have a tablespoon or two.  Spread the peels out on a drying rack and leave to dry for 4-5 hours and then store in an airtight container.  I could have used the dehydrator to dry them, but it takes about 12-15 hours and then it is suggested that you store them in a container right away so they don't take on moisture again, so I'm just opting for them to sit on the counter this evening.

It's seems like a fussy thing, but really it isn't.  I think they're delicious and hope you can give it a try!  Here are some pictures:

The peels in the cold water.

The sugar water simmering.

The peels simmering in the syrup.

Again, the peels drying.

The leftover syrup ready for tea.  : )

And then lastly, here are three jars full of dehydrated potatoes that I did yesterday:

I feel like a woman obsessed with food lately!  But this is my idea of fun. 😊

Thank you for your visit - hope you'll stop by again soon.  God bless.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Slow Cooker Scalloped Potatoes with Ham

I had scalloped potatoes on our menu this past week and just didn't seem to be getting around to it.  I had potatoes I needed to use up and leftover ham in the freezer so last night I broke this recipe down into several components.  I thought this would make a good and hearty lunch today so prep was last night after supper.  Tuesdays are usually busy for us so I knew that if I left the prep for this morning, it would have taken more time than I would have wanted to spare.  So this is what we did last night:

*my husband peeled and sliced the 3 pounds of potatoes - we put them into a large bowl and covered them with cold water and set them in the fridge for overnight.  While he was doing that:
*I shredded an 8 oz. block of mild cheddar cheese, put it into a bowl, covered it with plastic wrap and put that in the fridge.
*I chopped 1/2 an onion and since I didn't want it to smell up the fridge I just put the chopped onion in a small canning jar and sealed it with the lid and stored that in the fridge as well.
*I prepared the ham slices - not really chopping, but kind of leaving them as small to medium slices and put them back into the fridge.
*I combined 1 can Cream of Mushroom soup, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in another bowl and covered it with plastic wrap and into the fridge it went.

This morning all I had to do:

*drain potatoes and used paper towel to help with excess moisture
*sprayed the liner of the slow cooker with cooking spray
*got all the other things out of the fridge and lined them up
*put a layer of potatoes in the slow cooker
*put a layer of cheese, onion, and ham
*and then continued with the potatoes
*and continued with the cheese, onion, and ham
*until I had about 3 layers
*lastly, I poured the soup mix over all and put the slow cooker on High for 4 hours.

It was perfectly done by noon for lunch.  At the end of cooking I stirred it all up to thicken the sauce a bit and so that the melted cheese would incorporate evenly.  This is very good and I found that when we did the prep work the night before, it really is an easy dish to put together.  We all had seconds and agreed that this is a keeper.

I hope you can give it a try.  It makes quite a bit, so if you don't mind leftovers or you know you'll be having company over, or you know that you'll have seconds (like us) this is the one!  

I know that above I said 3 pounds of potatoes and that's what this recipe called for, but we peeled and sliced all the potatoes that we had (which was more than 3 lbs.) so with the rest of the potatoes, I boiled a large pot of water to blanch them, rinsed them in cold water and brought out the dehydrator trays.

There were enough potatoes for 7 full trays.  They are dehydrating now and won't be done until about 8 or 9 this evening.  I'll put them into jars and store them on the pantry shelf for later use.  There.  Done.  Or, what do they say now?  Boom!  : )

That's it from here.  Again, I appreciate your visit!!!  God bless.

Monday, January 15, 2018

A New Blanket of Snow and Baking a Rustic Bread

A new snow came yesterday - not much, but enough to pretty it up a bit.  : )

SO cold again.  A good time to be in the kitchen.  I'm still trying my hand at making a good loaf of bread.  A variety of breads.  And Saturday, I tried one.  It's an oatmeal bread.  I love oatmeal bread and this one includes molasses so it's very flavorful, healthy, and again, rustic.  When I say flavorful, you need to like the flavor of molasses because that flavor really comes through.  It's excellent with jam (my husband liked it with peanut butter).  I was a little nervous about my yeast because it showed that it expired in August but I gave it a try and it was just fine - it still doubled in size and tasted great.  So, if you'd like to give this a whirl, here's the recipe:


2 Tbsp. fast acting yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup molasses
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. salt
5 - 6 cups flour
2 beaten eggs
extra oats to put on top of the loaves

Combine boiling water, oats, molasses, oil and salt and set aside to cool to lukewarm.  Once cooled, stir in 2 cups flour and beat well.  Add beaten eggs and 1/2 cup warm water and combine well.  Add the yeast and rest of flour adding only a cup at a time to make a soft dough.  Knead till smooth and elastic - about 5-8 minutes.  Cover and let rise for about and hour or until double.  Punch down, divide dough into half and let rest for about 10 minutes.  Shape dough into loaves and put into 2 greased bread pans and sprinkle some oats on top.  Cover and let rise until double (about another hour) and bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes.  Take out of pans and let cool on wire rack (although I couldn't help but snitch an end off and spread butter on while still warm).  😊  So good.

As you can see, this is a rustic bread and I really like that look.  While taking out my bread pans I noticed that I only have a large loaf pan and a small loaf pan - so I'll have to go the thrift store and see if I can find another of each.  But the large one is almost gone already and the small one is in the freezer for another time.  We'll be having chicken noodle soup tonight so the large loaf WILL be gone for sure.😉

I looked up the health benefits for both the oats and molasses:

Oats - antioxidants, high in soluble fiber, lots of vitamins, helps lower cholesterol (we're eating oatmeal every morning for breakfast so I feel good about that too)

Molasses - good for our bones, good source of iron, has potassium, and has antioxidants as well

I consider this a healthy whole-grain bread to eat which is wonderful.  Hope you can try it and hope you enjoy it as much as we do. 

That's it from here in the north country.  Take care and thank you for dropping by.  God bless.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sunday Again

You can just tell these are summertime clouds.  So pretty.

Another week has flown by.  And now, the beginning of a new week ahead.  Lots of possibilities.  If you could plan this week the way you wanted it to be and knew that it would all work out that way, what would that look like?  Some begin the new year with yearly resolutions, but how about monthly, weekly, daily, hourly?  

Breaking time down isn't easy because things change so quickly that just when you think you have something figured out you pretty much have to cross it off the list (whether it's in your head or on paper) and begin again.  Every Sunday that rolls around is, for me, almost like beginning a new year.  I look on the calendar to the week ahead and hope and dream that this week will be without too many surprises.  I'm just so happy when I can just buckle down and do my work.  But we all know it doesn't work that way.

Our church gave us (the congregation) a prayer request card to fill out for the year that people within our church will pray for us in regards to that request.  Our request was for us to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit to each other and to others.  Now for those of you who do not know what the fruit of the Spirit is, it's from Galatians 5:22 in the New Testament of the Bible.  And here they are:


When we ask Jesus into our lives, our lives should have the fruit of the Spirit.  Because of Christ and what he did for us on the cross, we are to be changed to be more like Him.  I have this list written down in my prayer notebook and read it every morning and pray for it, but oh how difficult to carry through!!!  I constantly look at the list and think about how many times I have probably grieved the Holy Spirit through my lack of love, or joy, or peace, or patience, or kindness, or goodness, or faithfulness, or gentleness, or self-control.  Can I get an "Amen?"   

Every week seems to bring some kind of situation in where I'm constantly humbled.  Where the Lord is trying to teach me something (which is good and a blessing because I don't want Him to leave me alone in my sinfulness).  And I know I won't be perfect in all these ways until I get to Heaven, but my hope is that with our church praying for us and we praying for ourselves in this area, that the Year of our Lord 2018 will be the breakthrough year.  That the fruit of the Spirit will be the norm rather than the exception.  Because I really do want to have all of these within me.  I don't want difficult situations or people to be the excuse for my flying off the handle.  I would so much rather have patience and self-control.  I don't want to be in constant worry or fear but would rather have peace.  I don't want to be a little rough around the edges but would rather have gentleness.

In saying all of this, there is evil in this life (Satan) and he really wants to ruin any chance for us to have peace, self-control, love, joy, etc..........all he is interested in is ruining us and our relationships and anything/anyone else that we hold dear.  So, I pray to be on guard and I pray for God's protection.  I can either let the frustrations turn into anger and say things that I need to take back, or I can remind myself that God does not want for me to react in an ungodly manner.  

What brought this post on today was that there were two different things that happened this week where I failed miserably in this.  And, again, the Lord had to humble me.  He brought to mind the above list and how it's how he would have wanted me to be instead of giving into the fleshly way of handling things.

So my hope for the next hour, the upcoming day, and the upcoming week, is that I act and react as God would want.  I'm so grateful for the patience He shows me and how merciful He is to me and even though he let's me suffer the consequence of my actions, that is His way of showing His love and grace as well.  The verse "Be imitators of God" (Ephesians 5:1) has come into my mind quite often this week and I know I haven't done that.  I don't ever want to feel as if I've gotten away with something.  I want to be convicted.  I want to learn the lessons God is trying to teach.  Not always easy, but I'm willing to learn.  : )

May you enjoy this day.  God bless.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Modern Conveniences

Inside an old lighthouse in Two Harbors, Minnesota

While I was going about my work yesterday I was thinking about the modern conveniences we have as homekeepers.  One of my thoughts turned into a question - "are the modern conveniences really that good for us?"  

While I wouldn't want to go back in time completely (I do like my washing machine, and the vacuum cleaner, and the food processor once in a while), I can see where some women think that housekeeping is dull and boring. I was out shopping once and overheard a couple of women my age talking about that very thing.  They were saying that there was no way they could stay home because they would be bored to death.  

Once upon a time, women worked really hard at their housekeeping.  My own grandma (my Dad's mom) was found dead under the clothesline and their family was told that she just worked herself to death.  Dad was only 5 years old so she was still young.

I certainly don't want women to work themselves to death in taking care of their homes, so there has to be some gratitude that someone wanted to make the work in the home a bit easier.  But I was thinking that there are so many things that women have gotten away from because of convenience.  That if they would just take up some of those things instead of doing them the "easy" way, they might find joy in their homes instead of being bored.

When grandma died, she was living the Great Depression days.  Saying that life was tough is an understatement.  But SO much was learned in those days.  People got inventive and creative.   It's so very easy to just go to the store and buy convenience food (bread, salad dressing, cookies, pre-made dinners), but it's something different to actually put flour, yeast, salt, and water together to make bread with. To actually feel the dough as you knead it and then to cut into it while it's still warm. It's fun to put ingredients together, place it in an oven and smell the goodness of cookies or bars.  It's healthy to buy fresh and take the time to put a casserole or soup together.  When you do this, it can't be boring.  A homemaker is actively participating.  And cooking from scratch takes time.  When I made chicken broth the other day, yes I did put everything into the modern convenience of a crockpot, but yesterday when I actually canned the broth and cut up the chicken meat, I was actively preparing it for the benefit of our family.  It was fun, it was healthy, it was relaxing and meaningful.  I just don't get that same feeling when I open a can and pour it into a pan to heat it up.

The same goes with the laundry.  While I wouldn't want the days of building an outdoor fire and scrubbing our clothes by hand, I do enjoy hanging our clothes up (even in winter).  I'm actually coming in contact with each article of clothing or other item - shaking them as they come out of the washing machine, hanging them up and observing them as to whether or not they may need replacing some day or if they need mending.  Again it's hands-on, not just throwing them in the dryer because of convenience.  The dryer takes a lot of energy and is not only hard on clothes but costs a lot of money to operate.

And there are other things in the home too numerous to mention where women could easily find great comfort and joy in doing.  I guess it all depends on what women consider boring.

Don't get me wrong on this - of course there are days when I open a can of soup and heat it up.  There are days when opening a bag of bread instead of making it is easier.  There are days when I don't want to take the time to hang laundry so in the dryer they go.  Again, I'm grateful that I have that option but always in the forefront of my mind is - what would be best, do I want to save money or time, what can I learn from this, will it benefit our family.  And time management is a consideration.  What do I really need to get to today, what things can I leave for another day, does it all have to be done or is that just me putting too much on myself and therefore becoming stressed out about it instead of enjoying it.

So, modern conveniences have there rightful place and I'm thankful for them, but I hope you can try doing things around your home (again, home is wherever you make it) with your hands - savor the moment.

Thank you for visiting.  Have a good day.  God bless you in your homemaking efforts!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

It's Been All About the Food

It's Wednesday already and I have yet to look at one drawer, cupboard, or shelf for my on-going organizing.  This week it has truly been about food.  This is the year where I am determined to be a better steward of our food.  I have been checking expiration dates on everything and once again looking in the fridge and freezer to see what I can make my menus with based upon whether or not I need to use things up.

One thing I'm doing more of lately is dehydrating (the above photo).   We bought a dehydrator a couple of years ago but have not been using it the way I should so I'm at least starting.   A friend had told me about dehydrating frozen vegetables so I did that with a package of corn last week.  Today, in about an hour, I can take our dehydrating frozen mixed vegetables out and store them:

And yesterday I noticed that the box of spinach that I bought last week for salads was about to expire, so I dehydrated that yesterday (again, in the above photo).  These can be used in soups, stews, and casseroles at a later date.  With the little oxygen absorber packet in each jar, these can stay on the pantry shelf for a long time.  A very good (and frugal) way to store food.  A dehydrator isn't all that expensive and might be worth your money if you want another way to store food without a big freezer or canning.  It sure does come in handy.  : )

When checking the freezer, I noticed that I only have a quart jar of chicken broth left so into the crockpot goes 3 lbs. of chicken legs (VERY inexpensive), 1 quartered onion, 1 quartered clove of garlic, 2 celery ribs cut into large pieces, 2 carrots, cut into large pieces, a tsp. of Kosher salt, a tsp. of freshly ground pepper and water to cover.  It's adding a wonderful aroma to the house and will be done this evening ready to pull the meat off the bones for another use and then to skim the broth, strain it, and pour it into freezer jars.  

I bought fresh ginger root last week, so I peeled and minced that and froze it in little mounds equal to about a teaspoon.  I know that I use fresh ginger quite often, so this is a time saver.  Next week I need to buy a bunch of onions and fry them up and freeze them as well.  I read that if you put them in a freezer bag, spread them out in a thin layer and then when you need some for a recipe, you will be able to just break a chunk off.  Love ideas like this!!!!  Makes prepping meals so much faster.

Not everything has to be fast though.  I admit that there are evenings when I have time that I don't mind doing all the prep work for a meal - dicing an onion, mincing garlic, measuring everything out - it makes for a very calm and peaceful time.  But when you've had a full day and still want a healthy, homemade supper on the table, these other ways of having prepared food already for you, is a great blessing.  : )

I think that about does it for today.  Thanks for your visit!   Love it when you do.  : )  God bless.

Monday, January 8, 2018

A Warmer January Day

Doesn't this look fun?  Again, I want to sneak into this picture and live there.  : )  

It was another good day of getting the Monday chores done.  No sorting or purging things today as I needed to spend some time in the kitchen this afternoon.  Last Saturday, I went through some recipes and made notes on what recipes I could turn into complete freezer meals.  I have a few that I want to make, but only had time to make a couple today:  (forgive the poor quality of the photos - these bags aren't exactly photogenic).

This bag holds all that we need for Szechwan Shrimp.  I broke it down into these elements -
*I made the Szechwan sauce and poured it into small freezer bag.
*I sliced the green onions and added minced garlic to them in another freezer bag.
*I cooked the rice and added that to a freezer bag (see note).
*I put all of these bags into one large freezer bag and then added a 1 lb. bag of shrimp.

Sealed it all up and it's resting nicely in the freezer to be taken out and enjoyed at another time.  : )  All I would have to do is take each bag out to thaw, follow the directions on the recipe to put it all together and a meal is done!  Maybe just steam a little broccoli on the side.

Note about the rice:  a good way to freeze rice is to cook it, spread it out on a lined baking sheet and put it into the freezer for about an hour.  When frozen, just divide it up into how ever many bags you want and freeze again.  When ready to serve, just pour the rice out into a microwave safe bowl and re-heat.  What a time saver!

The second bag was a lot easier to put together:

This is for Oven BBQ Chicken Thighs.  All I needed to do was whisk the BBQ sauce ingredients together and pour into a bag, put that bag into a large freezer bag and then add the pack of chicken thighs.  When ready to use, thaw both packages, place thighs in baking pan and pour sauce over to bake.  Just add a vegetable or salad, and fruit.  Again, very easy.  : )

Tomorrow I have plans to make one more - a Crockpot Cashew Chicken one following the same steps and ways of putting it all together in one bag with the separate elements.  I also wrote down to make pizza dough to freeze (along with shredding the cheese, and making the sauce for yet another meal - but I think I posted this idea a while back).  

So, it's been a fun afternoon.  Since we have a freezer, it's best to keep it full and this is such a good way to fill it!  : )  

I think that's about it for today - nothing too exciting but still wanted to share.  Thank you for your short visit.  : )  God bless.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Sunday Afternoon

If you can call 28 degrees above zero warm, then it's warm!  Compared to the below zero wind chills we've been experiencing, this is very nice indeed.  : )  Cloudy though (which I tend to like anyway).

I've been wondering about what I would post about today.  It has been an uneventful week other than getting a lot of organizing done and I've already mentioned that in past posts.  But maybe an uneventful week is a blessing.  It wasn't a perfect week - there were a couple of times when short tempers flared (the negative side to retirement I guess - maybe too much togetherness sometimes?)  But to get past that and keep going and keep trusting in the Lord for the strength to get us through each day was probably the one thing that was consistent.

Our homes are a place where we can make it what we want of it.  What do you want?  Country, cozy, modern, mid-century, sparse, full?  We can spend a lot of money to get it the way we want it to be.  Or, we can spend very little to get it the way we want it to be.  And home isn't exactly a house in the suburbs.  It can be a high-rise apartment in the middle of downtown.  It can be a lovely mansion in the wealthy part of the town.  It can be a humble cottage by a lake.  It can be a century-old farmhouse in the middle of wheat fields.  We all have our idea of what home is.

The Bible says that we labor in vain though if we are building our homes without God being the center of it.  All the work we do to make our homes comfortable and beautiful means nothing without God.  Does God come first or is He an after thought?  Do we constantly talk things over with Him (praying without ceasing) or do we take matters into our own hands?  Do our neighbors see anything different in how we "build" our homes?

I feel like so many women are jumping on the change train just to be "fashionable" or  "with it" - afraid of what others might think if they continue in their "old-fashioned" values and beliefs.  That's SO sad!  We've forgotten how to build up our homes for the edification of and glory to God.  We're allowing things into our homes that are not God honoring.  When we forget that it is God that has provided our homes we forget what's important.  We forget that we can use our homes for the good of the family, the good of our neighbors, the good of our community.  Our homes can look like it should be on the cover of House Beautiful magazine, but without God it means nothing.

I take care of our home because it not only needs to be taken care of, but it is also belongs to God and I want to be a good steward of what He has so generously given.  Like I've said before, our whole house could fit into some people's living rooms - but.........it's home.  So, this week will pretty much be like last week.  I will continue to go through all the stuff, reorganize, and clean.  I will do the extra chores that need to be done.  I will do it for myself.  I will do it for my husband.  I will do it for the Lord.  If this is all new to you, then ask God for assistance.  Ask Him to show you what HE wants you to do with and in your home.  Don't go outside the home and in to the worldly influence of others trying to tell you what to do - that can only get confusing.  God is not a God of confusion.  If you put Him first, He will make the paths straight.  : )

God bless you in your homemaking and homekeeping!