Monday, July 30, 2018

Just a Couple of Things

August's calendar page from Gooseberry Patch - I know it's not August, but we're so close.  😮

Just a couple of things to share with you.  We're trying to eat less red meat around here, so when our supper on Saturday consisted of grilled hamburgers, I knew that Sunday would have to be a meatless meal.  I have a quick and tasty spaghetti sauce for you that you can have ready and on the table in a little over half an hour.  Here it is:


In a large saucepan, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil and saute' 1/2 of a small chopped onion, 2 tsp. minced garlic, and a handful of sliced mushrooms until softened and a bit of browning on them.  Stir in 1, 28-oz. can of diced tomatoes, 4 tsp. dried basil, 4 tsp. dried oregano, and 1 tsp. white sugar.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.  Serve over a healthy pasta and have a salad off to the side.  Very good.  Enjoy!!!!

This is a liquid-y sauce, so I think some toasted French bread would be great to sop up the yummy sauce. 😋

The next thing that I WAS going to share with you (but can't because all of a sudden my computer decided to quit uploading photos!) was how much I got out of the Crockpot chicken we had for Friday evening's supper.  

*First - we had the meat from that chicken with a salad and fruit on Friday.
*Second - today I took all the meat off the bones, threw the bones into the crockpot (again) along with celery, onion, carrots, and garlic and had it simmer all afternoon for homemade chicken broth.
*Lastly - tonight for supper I made a chicken pot pie and it makes a lot so we will have leftovers tomorrow!

All this to say that if you plan carefully, one item can give you a lot of meals.  😊  That's definitely a savings.  (sorry about the no photos)  😐  I took some pictures of beautiful clouds we had today too - I'm sad that I can't show you - they were very pretty.

Thank you for the short visit - I do appreciate it when you drop by.  God bless.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Sunday Afternoon

As always on Sunday, I look back upon the week.  On Sundays, I try to encourage you that if you do not know Jesus as your personal Savior then let today be the day.  On Sundays I try to convey that Jesus is The. Only. Way. to God the Father in Heaven.  Because He is.  I would never, in this blog, tell you what you want to hear if you do not believe that.  The world says that all roads lead to Heaven.  That is false.  Like it or not, there are still absolutes.  There is still truth.  There IS ONLY ONE WAY - that is your faith, belief, and trust in Jesus Christ.

Looking back on this past week, one thing in particular stands out for me.  Rather it happened to my husband but I was sitting with him at the time.  Let me tell you about it.

When we eat breakfast in the morning, we have our favorite Christian radio station on.  The station where we here teaching from the Bible from some of our favorite pastors.  At the beginning of the week while we were eating the pastor was talking about a subject that my husband desperately needed to hear (though he didn't know that at the time - we didn't know this particular subject was going to be addressed).   I won't go into details of the subject because it is a private thing, but it hit him right square between the eyes.  God's word is like that!  

My husband has been struggling with a difficult and strained relationship for at least a couple of years now and I have seen him become bitter and angry and confused.  After listening to this particular message, he has changed.  His heart has changed.  The difficulty is still there, but he is finally letting go, and letting God handle this particular situation (which we all should do - but, oh, so difficult).  There is more of a peace that I haven't seen before.  It's not totally okay yet, but every day is better and all because of a message he heard from a pastor on the radio.  What a blessing!!!!!

I think what I'm trying to get at in this post today, is that ALL of us need to hear from God.  And nowadays, there are many ways to do that.  There is now NO excuse for anyone to say that they just didn't get the message.  With Christian radio, Christian television, on-line Christian websites, Christian bookstores, there is just no excuse.   On secular television a certain show that is hosted by  a liberal all-women "team", they were making fun of someone who said that they heard from God.  They said that they believed that God hears us, but thought it ridiculous that anyone should hear from God.  Oh, really?  We now know what their theology is.  The sad and scary part is that they encourage others to think the way they do and the others are like sheep in following them and buying in to the lies.  Women - be SO very careful in what you watch, what and who you listen to, what you read.  Remember that we are all daughters of Eve and can be easily deceived if our faith is not rooted in the Truth.  The ways in which you can hear from God are (which I'm sure is what the man was talking about when the women decided to make fun of him):

*Of course, first and foremost - from God's Word!  Open your Bible on a daily basis.  Read it.  Take notes.  Pray over it.  Ask God to speak to you through His Word.  There are some things in the Bible that are difficult and sometimes when I read those parts and I put my Bible down, I just tell the Lord that it was difficult for me and I didn't quite understand it, but that's okay!  He knows that.  Who knows, when I read it again, maybe it WILL make sense.  The Bible is not stagnant - every time I read it, I gain knowledge from it.  You will find that too.

*Second, go to church!  But be careful.  There are churches popping up now that are NOT speaking truth.  They are the ones that are telling people what their itchy ears want to hear.  The feel-good churches.  When looking for a church, take your Bible.  First, the church should be teaching and reading from the Bible.  When they come to presenting the message (the sermon) you should be opening to that particular passage and read along to make sure that they are neither adding to it or subtracting from it.  Church attendance should not be a suggestion.  For whenever you "feel" like going.  If you wait until you feel like going, chances are you won't.  We can all think of something else to do.  But isn't God worth it?  Isn't He worth the effort?  Christ died a horrible death on the cross for you - doesn't that mean something?  A little sacrifice of our time?  Really think about this.  (I am not talking about those who physically can't go to church - I know that there are a lot of people who just cannot go because they physically can't - I'm just talking about those of us who are very capable of getting ourselves up and going).

*Next, Christian radio, Christian television stations, even the internet - never before have we had the ability to take our technological devices and use them for good.  You can look up the Bible and sermons from Bible-teaching pastors on-line.  Everyone I know has a "smart phone" (except me - I'm being stubborn about this).  You can "fix your eyes upon Jesus" wherever you are!  Some of our favorite teaching pastors that we often listen to (and that you can look up today and listen to them) are:

James McDonald (Walk in the Word)
Dr. David Jeremiah (Turning Point)
Alistair Begg (Truth for Life)
Greg Laurie (A New Beginning)
Philip De Courcy (Know the Truth)
Dr. J. Vernon McGee (Thru the Bible)
Dr. Robert Jeffress (Pathway to Victory)
Dr. Charles Stanley

This is a short list, but any one of these pastors can give you what you need in hearing from the Word of God.

*Lastly, other Christian books - God has gifted a lot of people to write Christian literature and Christian Bible studies to be used alone or within a group.  Again, however, you have to be discerning - some of these will be called Christian, but will throw in untruths and be more of their opinions than anything else.

So, I encourage you to spend your time in worthy ways of getting close to God and listen to what He has to say to you.  I will admit, that sometimes He will have you listen to something or read something that you don't want to hear let alone obey.  That is the Holy Spirit working.  God is our Heavenly Father and He will go to any means to convict us no matter how difficult it will be.  But don't be stubborn and prideful when this happens.  We have a loving Father who treats us as His children - discipline and all!!!!  It's not enjoyable and sometimes it downright hurts, but it's what we sometimes need to get us back on track.

May God bless you in this and your upcoming week.  I love you all!!!!!  : )

Saturday, July 28, 2018

More Chicken

Summer pretty.  : )

Good morning to you.  Again, we have been experiencing some gorgeous weather lately.  So nice and cool.  Blue skies, occasional rains.  On Thursday, since I knew it was going to be nice, I decided to devote the day to the great outdoors.  I started in the early morning hours and ended later in the afternoon and got the whole front yard done.  At least done to the point of it looking half way decent again.  I never think of taking "before" and "after" pictures - I should have because, to me anyway, there IS a difference.  : )  Weeds are pulled, more mulch is down, garden beds and walkways have a definite edge to them again with rocks we found along Lake Superior.  Every time I re-position these rocks it's always a wonderful reminder of some enjoyable trips.  I dead-headed flowers so that the new can blossom, pulled out some other vegetation that was overtaking the areas, etc.  A very good feeling of accomplishment indeed.

I think it's important to plug in a day now and then of doing something completely different from the rest of the days.  As homemakers, our daily routines, though important, can become a bit well.....routine.  And we need to get out of routine once in a while in order to revive ourselves and give ourselves a break.  Whether it be setting aside a day for gardening, or crafting, or sewing, cooking, baking - whatever that looks like to you - it's good for us to do that.  It gives us something to look forward to and it gives us new energy.  I guess the only tip I would give you before devoting a whole day to something is that you would first make sure that you have some basics done before you begin.  Wash and dry all the dishes in the morning, make your beds, pick up anything that doesn't belong, and give the bathroom a once over.  Once those simple things are done, you can confidently go ahead with your "day off."  : )  

I'm trying to clean out our freezer downstairs so we can de-frost it, so I thawed a whole chicken out and put it in the crockpot yesterday.  It worked out wonderfully.  Fall-apart tender and flavorful.  So, again, I wanted to share it with you (it couldn't be easier):


Place 2 stalks of celery (cut up in about 3" pieces) in the bottom of the slow cooker.  Rinse the whole chicken and dry it and place it on top of the celery.  Pour 1/2 cup chicken broth over the top (what I used is shown below), then sprinkle with garlic powder (I put quite a bit on), salt to taste, and freshly ground pepper.  Cover and cook on Low for 8 hours.  That's it!!!!!!

This makes the whole house smell really good!!!!!

This is what I used for the chicken broth.  I know I've shared this product in past posts.  I try to keep a variety of chicken broths on hand.  The best, of course, is making your own and freezing it.  But I also buy boxes of chicken broth (Aldi has a good organic broth) for the pantry shelf and then this product that you just reconstitute with water.

The finished product.  Really good and healthy especially with serving a fresh vegetable salad and quinoa on the side.  I hope you can try this and enjoy!!!!!  : )

I hope you don't mind in my reminding you of keeping up a pantry in your home.  It is SO important that you start stocking your shelves with food.  I really want to encourage you in this!  Begin today by bringing out some of your favorite go-to recipes that you make on a regular basis and write down ingredients that you constantly have to buy.  What starches do you serve with a meal?  Last night I made quinoa which we are beginning to enjoy.  As soon as I pull the last quinoa bag off the shelf, I write it down to buy another.  We enjoy pasta so I make sure that I have a variety of that on our shelves - spaghetti noodles, egg noodles, lasagna noodles, penne pasta, etc.  I don't like a lot of the cream-of soups in cans because of the high sodium, but I still keep them on the shelves for those last-minute meals that I think of now and then.  Since we enjoy pasta, I automatically know that most of what we eat is tomato-based so I constantly have a variety of tomato products on the shelf - cans of diced tomatoes, tomato sauces and pastes, etc.

I know you know the point I'm trying to make.  Make an effort this weekend to really think about what you cook and how you cook and begin to take steps in building an efficient pantry.  It saves time and money.  Food is getting expensive, so start small.  What are those products that you run out of on a consistent basis?  While at the store, buy 3 instead of just one.  If you do this every time you shop, your pantry will grow.  

I would also encourage you to try new recipes.  In talking about getting out of routines once in a while, trying a new recipe every week can help you feel better when supper time rolls around.  Most of us by reading a recipe can tell whether it will be tasty or not.  But at least try.  Same with baking.  If you enjoy it, do it.  If you don't want a lot of baked goods around, share it.  

Make this day a good one for yourself and those around you.  Love your home.  Be grateful.  A body in motion, stays in motion.  I've said it before - doing something is better than doing nothing!!!!  : )

God bless.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

A New Recipe

One Pan Balsamic Chicken with Roasted Vegetables

I love one pan dinners and I'm trying to locate more, but for now I wanted to share this one.  In the quest to eating healthier, some recipes are not keepers, but this one goes in my "to keep and make again" file.  It's quick to put together and it makes the house smell good (which is always a plus to me).  : )

Here is the recipe if you'd like to give it a try:


First make the marinade for the chicken:

In a large bowl, add 1 Tbsp. of stone ground mustard, 1 minced garlic clove, 3 Tbsp. of balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper.  Whisk to combine and then slowly whisk in 3 Tbsp. of olive oil.

Place 4 bone-in chicken thighs (I used boneless chicken breasts) in the bowl and toss with the marinade.  Let sit for 30 minutes.

While that is marinating, prepare all the vegies:

Place 3 carrots (cut into 2" chunks), 1 red pepper (cut into 1 inch cubes), 1 red onion, halved and quartered, 5 red potatoes with skin on, halved and quartered into a 9" x 13" baking dish.  Drizzle it all with 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.  Toss to coat.  

Place your chicken on top of the vegetables and pour remaining marinade over the entire dish.

Cover with foil and bake in 375-degree oven for one hour.  Uncover and bake for 30 minutes more till chicken is done and vegetables are soft.

A hint for serving quite a few people - never serve the whole meat portion.  Always cut up the meat into bite-size pieces before serving - it goes much further that way.  : ) We will have plenty of leftovers for tomorrow.


I'm done with my book "Cranford" - enjoyed it, would recommend it because it's a quick read, has touches of humor in it, along with some tender moments.  But it is definitely the first book I've read that I have had to look up 22 words in the dictionary for definitions.  And here are three more for you:


Seriously, if anything, I've had quite the vocabulary lesson.  : )  Keep learning!!!!

Lastly before I turn in for the evening, our neighborhood turkeys are back.  Only the mom and dad brought 6 little (or medium-size) babies with:

on the fence

on the neighbors garage roof

in our pine tree

back by the bird feeders

finally in the front yard getting ready to move on.

Fun thing to see and watch.

Well, the wind has switched around to the north, the windows will be open for the night and the cool breeze is blowing through.  SO nice.  Tomorrow is supposed to be cool as well so I will finally get a chance to work in our front yard in the morning.  I have really let that go because of the warm-ish weather and the weeds are taking over.  Looking forward to making it more presentable.

That's it for now - thank you for visiting.  God bless.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Sunday Afternoon

A delightful surprise in a north woods walk from last year's vacation.

As usual, on Saturday evenings I try to figure out what to post on Sunday.  Like I said yesterday, the week seemed uneventful (which, at times, is a very good thing).  But in my thinking, there were things that I needed to remember just for the very fact that they seemed small, but were huge indeed.  Here is kind of a run-down of our week and see what you think:

*Last Sunday - we started the week out being reminded of how people can hurt us and we're somewhat forced to remember all the details that we try so hard at other times to forget.
*Monday - we started to smell something not-so-good in our home but couldn't pinpoint it.
*Tuesday - I finally figured out that it was a gas leak, the gas company came and shut off the gas to the house and got someone to fix the problem (gas leaks are scary to me and especially scary that the gas company seems worried).  I also had a Dr. appointment that morning and found out that I didn't have diabetes!  The "numbers" seemed to indicate that I might.
*Wednesday - we were reminded of how grief and mourning continues in the loss of someone very special.
*Thursday - a very rainy day and I wasn't feeling well (again) so I took the day to find comfort in sewing and crafting (which helped immensely).  Just being by myself and figuring things out and coming up with new ideas and feeling the fabric was very therapeutic.
*Friday - we took flowers to my husband's mother's gravesite (it would have been her birthday on Friday) - we still miss her after almost 13 years of her passing.  
*Saturday - a variety of "helping out" times which we enjoy.
*Today - a wonderful time of worshiping the Lord and fellowship with others.

I think back and look back on the week and there were high moments and there were low moments and in-between moments and the one thing that struck me was that God was in it all.  He helps us in our pain whether that be physical or emotional.  He protects us whether that means a gas leak or an illness.  He cares whether we choose to be by ourselves or with others.  He understands the feeling of  being mistreated or why we still mourn losses.  He rejoices in the times that we rejoice.  GOD IS ALWAYS THERE.

I have to share another thing that happened on Friday that made me smile and praise and be thankful.  When my husband retired (or when anyone retires or quits a job) he lost that companionship of others.  Other men that he enjoyed being with at work.  He'd been trying to meet with a best friend for lunch on a somewhat regular basis, but of course everyone gets busy and it tends to be less and less and I could tell this was making my husband a bit sad.  So, I began about a month ago to start praying that the Lord would convict my husband's friend to think of him and call about having lunch.  Well......on Friday morning, his friend called and they're meeting for lunch this Friday.  😊

There are SO many big things going on in this world it makes my head spin and I tend to think that God doesn't have time for the little things.  But He does.  It's in our everyday lives and what goes on in the simplicity of a day that God wants us to remember that He's there for us.  He cares for us.  He's watching over us.  

I encourage you today to maybe begin a "blessing notebook" that you can have somewhere that you won't forget to write down as the day progresses all the little blessings that God bestows upon you.  If you're like me, I'll forget if I don't write them down - and I don't want to forget.  I don't ever want to forget the way the Lord answers prayer, the way He comforts, the way He heals.  I don't ever want to forget to quickly offer a prayer up to Him when He answers.  

Be comforted today that God loves you and He IS there for you.   Have a blessed day.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Saturday Morning

My new orchid - lovely.  : )

It's Saturday morning and it's a lovely morning.  We've been getting some timely rains so again, the flowers are beautiful and the grass is wonderfully green.  As I type, all the windows are open to a much-needed cool breeze and a mourning dove is singing outside.  The softness of the morning light is beginning to come in and all is quiet.  

If asked if I'm a morning or night person, I would definitely have to say morning.  I love everything about it.  Although, last night, while the sun was going down, my husband and I went out for a neighborhood walk and that time of day was also nice - it was quiet, you could see the lights coming on in people's homes, the sky was pink-ish from the sunset.  The only thing about night for me is that it's the end of a day whereas morning is a beginning.  It's brand new - full of possibilities.  : )

The week hasn't been a week of anything out of the ordinary (that's why I haven't had anything to really talk about).  Just doing our daily work.  So, today's post will probably be a bit shorter.

There are a couple of things that I wanted to share with you.  The first is something that I've posted before, but I think is worth repeating.  The importance of breakfast and the recipe for our homemade instant oatmeal packets.  

Not a great photo, but you can see what I mean.

With our quest to eat healthier, these packets for breakfast really help in that area.  They are so quick to put together and keep them in the kitchen by the stove so that in the morning, all I need to do is heat up the water, pour the packet in, stir, and a minute later - breakfast!  Here is the recipe:


For each packet: (serves 2)

1 cup quick oats
4 tsp. powdered milk
2 Tbsp. brown sugar (or 1 Tbsp if you prefer it less sweet)
2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Add mix to 1 3/4 cups boiling water and cook for 1 minute.  That's it!!!!  I'm all for preparing things the night before to make everything just that much easier in the morning - so I put the pan on the stove along with the liquid measuring cup (for the water), a spoon for stirring, and the packet out on the counter before bed.  That way everything is out and ready.

On the table you could set out any dried fruit that you might want to top it off with (remembering to also set the breakfast table in the evening so you won't have to do that in the morning).

Every ingredient in the oatmeal packet is good - there is debate over quick oats vs. old-fashioned but to me, oats are oats and oatmeal is an excellent food for nutrition.  The powdered milk adds extra calcium, the brown sugar is still sugar, but we need a little sugar to get the morning energy, the flaxseed is another ingredient that is excellent for nutrition (good for digestion and lots of fiber), and lastly, the cinnamon not only adds flavor but has lots of healing properties.  I love reading about the different pairing of foods for optimal nutrition, and I read that oatmeal and orange slices are to be served together so we do that too.  : )  We've learned that instead of buying orange juice, it's best to just buy the oranges and juice them or eat the slices.  I think it's a very good way to get the nutrition we need to begin our day.

I've also been making smoothies to go along with our oatmeal.  I keep frozen fruit in the freezer at all times and we always have bananas and kefir and/or organic yogurt.  So I throw a little of this and a little of that in the blender every morning - so yummy!  : )  I hope you can give this a try.  If you have children or grandchildren around they can certainly help you and I KNOW they will love the taste of everything.  Help them to learn proper foods to eat and good nutrition that will carry them through the rest of their lives.

The next recipe is a raisin bread recipe that I am now making every Friday for the upcoming weekends.  Our bread machine makes quick work of it, but yesterday I made the mistake of putting the setting on "dough" instead of "sweet bread" so I took the dough out after it was finished the first time, sprayed a loaf pan and put the dough in that, covered it and let it rise for an hour, popped it in a 350-degree oven and baked it for 35 minutes and it was perfect.  So my mistake turned out well.

The reason I bake this every Friday for the weekend is because we do take a break from the oatmeal packets on the weekend.  On Saturday and Sunday mornings, we toast our raisin bread and serve it with peanut butter and still make our smoothies.  It just gives us a nice break - something a little different to make the weekend a  little different.  Here is the recipe if you'd like to try it:


In bread machine pan add (in this order):

1 cup warm water
1 1/2 Tbsp. softened butter
2 1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar, firmly packed
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/3 cup quick oats
2 cups bread flour
2 1/2 tsp. instant dry yeast
1/2 cup raisins (at first I made the mistake of putting these in right away, but every bread machine has a timer that goes off telling you when to add the fruit and it turns out much better)

Select the "sweet bread" function (or dough like I did and just bake it in the traditional oven) and 1.5 lb. loaf.  Press start.  That's it!!!!  This is very good - again, I hope you can give it a try.  : )

I have been trying a couple of new recipes this past week that haven't exactly been a hit with my husband so I keep trying!  I wasn't cooking unhealthy food before, but I'm now more aware of cholesterol levels along with sodium levels and trying to keep food in it's natural state as possible instead of the creamy casseroles (we'll see how far that goes once winter comes!).  I wanted a summer of learning and am getting it with food preparation.  : )

Speaking of learning - here are 4 more words from my Cranford book that I looked up and am sharing with you as well:


While having a couple of rain days this week, I was able to get to my "studio" (love that word) and work on a couple of things:

Anyone who quilts knows how long it takes to cut little tiny squares out - but I'm getting there!

Working on my August cookie-cover-of-the-month that will go into the Etsy shop soon.  I don't have my shop listed in the sidebar of my blog, so if you'd like to go and check out what I have it's at HousetoHomeDesigns.  : )

Well, I think that's about it for this day.  I have my list of things that I want to accomplish (but it's okay if I don't get to it all).  It's going to be cooler and less humid so that will be a motivator.  I hope all of you enjoy the home that God has blessed you with and that you will be motivated to work in it and keep it a place that you, your family, and friends can enjoy.

Thanks for dropping in!  

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Sunday Afternoon

Quiet beauty.

July is half over.  I'm not sure that any of us always need reminding of how fast this year is going by, but, as usual, I'm surprised.  We commented the other day as to how the sun is casting different shadows these days.  The shadows that show us that Autumn is right around the corner.

It's been SO hot and humid this summer so we also talked about how this always prepares us for wanting Autumn to come.  You know, those cool dry days where when you sit outside a sweater is always welcome.  Where, for those of us who actually built a fire pit, we can actually use it!  

But we're suppose to live the day we're given and not get ahead of ourselves so we need to be thankful in it all (while praying for some relief).  😊

For Bible study this past spring and summer, we have been studying the end times with our friends and learning and rejoicing in it SO much.  Knowing that Christ will come back is exciting.  Remember the old Calgon bath commercial?  "Take me away, Calgon"!  Well, I find myself praying - "take us away, Jesus"!  For all of us who have put our faith, hope, and trust in Jesus will be saved from what is going to eventually happen in the end.  Having said that, my praying for wanting Christ to return can also be bittersweet.  There are so many people in this world who do not know Christ, nor do they have any interest in knowing Christ or being saved.  When Christ returns, they will be left behind.  I personally know people (friends, family) who will be left behind and that saddens me.  

That's why almost every Sunday on this blog, I try to bring you Christ.  If you haven't made the decision to follow Him, I beg you to do that.  Right now.  Today.  Believe me when I say - you do not want to be left behind.  If we think the world is falling apart now, it will pale in comparison to what it will be like after all the believers are gone from the face of the earth.   The sinfulness will be out of control and there will be nowhere to hide.  

In our study guide there is a quote from C.S. Lewis (which should make you sit up and ponder today) - "There are only two kinds of people in the end:  Those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done."  What group will you belong to?   Really think about this quote.  

Jesus may return before you even finish reading this - are you ready?  Jesus may return this afternoon or evening or tomorrow, or next week, or next month - are you ready?   God loves you and I love you enough to tell you this - to come to you and beg you to receive Christ so that we can be together forever.  But it is up to you.  It's your choice.  

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Saturday Morning

An old vacation photo.  Mmm......the north woods.  : )

Well, it's Saturday morning again.  The rains are over and now the sun is coming up and the humidity hangs in the air.  For this time of year, everything is still green and the flowers are beautiful.  We were saying yesterday that it's this heat and humidity every year that makes us look forward to the coolness and dry air of Autumn.  But we don't want to wish the Summer away either!

I think we've all heard of "Christmas in July" - I'm really not sure where that came from, but it is a good idea to start building a gift pantry if you don't have one already.  It's where, when you're out and about, you pick up little things that can be stored away on a shelf or in a cupboard so that when the holidays roll around (or someone's birthday, or for a "just because" gift) you can shop from your own home.  Of course you won't be able to buy or make everything - some things do have to be bought or made last minute - but you can make a huge dent in it!  Here are a few ideas:

*something for a baby-clothes, bibs, socks, blankets, diapers, wipes, soap and washcloths, etc. - usually this is something for a newborn when you hear about it so choose appropriately.
*something for an Italian meal (good for a newly married couple) - there are lots of good whole grain pastas out there and organic sauces that can be put into a basket - buy (or make) a couple of pretty napkins, a couple of pretty glasses can be bought at the thrift store, and sparkling non-alcoholic ciders are available - and, at the last minute, buy or make a loaf of bread to top it off.
*for the coffee lover - you could pick up varieties of coffee creamers and sugar cubes.
*spend the summer embroidering kitchen towels, napkins, or pillowcases to give - this may seem "old-fashioned" but it's still a nice and thoughtful gift to give.
*make fleece blankets - just think of the person and what they like - do they have a favorite sports' team?  Do they enjoy pretty flowers?  Is it for a child and do they have a favorite theme?  Again, these can be made in the summer and put away.
*picture frames - everyone loves to put photos up in their homes or offices of friends and family.
*things for manicures/pedicures - the dollar store has everything you need for this!  Nail polish, polish remover, cotton balls, emery boards, nail clippers, hand cream, etc.).
*I think you get the idea..................

As in all gift giving, we think of the person and what they enjoy and like so when you are shopping or just out looking around - if you see something that reminds you of someone, pick it up now and put it away.  Always have a variety of baskets and gift bags around.  Always have a variety of greeting cards (make your own or the dollar store has wonderful cards).

When the holidays start coming around, can you imagine how fun and (somewhat) stress-free it will be when you open up your gift pantry and start pulling things out and making up a little basket or bag full of items that are meaningful and useful for someone?

I hope you can begin thinking about this and have fun with it.  Gift-giving is supposed to be fun.  It gets our minds off of ourselves and onto others.  Like I said before, some gifts can be "just because" gifts - just because we thought about them and would like them to know it.

Thanks for dropping by for a short visit - so glad you did!!!!!  God bless your day.  😊

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Thinking About Kitchen Appliances


In preparing my supper tonight, I was thinking about the kitchen appliances that I'm using at the moment - a small crockpot, a rice cooker, and my oven (yes, my oven - even though the heat index is over 100 degrees! - VERY thankful for air conditioning).

I am preparing baked Balsamic Chicken in the oven, preparing a brown rice pilaf in the rice cooker, and one sweet potato to be split between my husband and me in the little crockpot.  How useful these small kitchen appliances are and what a good investment.  I have always liked the fact that these appliances are such time savers.  I know I still have to prepare the food to go into the appliance, but after that, the appliance does all the work!

In my opinion, it's a really good idea to have several crockpots (slow cookers) in different sizes.  They are very reasonable in price now and could possibly be bought at a thrift store (but be very careful that it really does work).  The rice cooker is kind of an appliance that a person really doesn't need, but I'm surprised at how often I use it - and, again, unlike cooking rice on top of the stove, I just pour everything in and it does the work!  They aren't expensive either.

You can spend as little or a lot as you want for a dehydrator, but it's something that does come in handy when you find that you have fresh produce that you won't be able to eat and you can also dehydrate canned fruits and vegetables (even frozen!).  Like I said in a past post, dehydrating is a very wise thing to do because it takes up less space in the pantry, it lasts a very long time, and it's a way of keeping the nutrients in your food.  It's kind of a "thinking ahead" thing to do - pantries are definitely for thinking ahead.  So many things can go wrong with our food supply and we need to plan for it - "fail to plan, plan to fail" is true.

I very rarely use our microwave.  I'm not sure why - I guess maybe it's because I plan ahead so I don't need to quickly defrost something, and I don't like leftovers warmed up in the microwave because of having to stop and start and stir and stop and start again for I don't know how many times!  But it is an appliance that is very economical now and it does come in handy for when we do want to use it.

The bread machine is another appliance that we don't need but is very comforting to have around.  Again, it is a time saver.  Put the ingredients in, turn the machine on, and in about 3 hours you have a loaf of bread.  I know what the simple ingredients are in that loaf and not all kinds of other things.  It may be a luxury to have one, but I'm truly enjoying ours.

I know it may seem like I'm saying that I don't want to slow down and enjoy the process of cooking.  I do.  I actually enjoy getting all the ingredients out and measured and sliced and diced, but after that if I can use things that will take over for me so that I can go and do something else while the food is cooking, I really want to do that.  The homemaking job of cooking from scratch can be made a little easier (not that I'm so interested in ease but time is always a factor when you need to do other things and still want to get a healthy meal on the table).  Take advantage of the different appliances out there.  Remember that I have a postage stamp size kitchen and using multiple appliances still works for me!  I just remember to always keep one countertop open and freed up for other things.

Thank you for dropping by - I appreciate it!!  God bless your homemaking efforts.  😊

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

So Good Summer Pasta Entree'

Isn't this pretty? 😊

In looking for something new and fresh and "healthy" I came across this recipe in an old Gooseberry  Patch cookbook (one thing I collect).  This really tastes like summer, really quick to put together and looks so appetizing on the plate.  I love color and this definitely fits the bill.  

I grow my own basil, and I always have tomatoes and garlic on hand, so the only thing I had to buy was a yellow bell pepper.  While you're prepping the vegetables, have a big pot of water on the stove to come to a boil to put the spaghetti in.    Here is the recipe:


A handful of tomatoes (either grape or cherry), sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced (I actually put in 3 cloves but even for me that was a bit much)
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch of fresh basil, torn
1/4 cup olive oil
A pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 oz. spaghetti noodles, cooked (I used whole wheat spaghetti)
Grated Parmesan cheese for top

In a medium bowl, stir together the tomatoes, garlic, yellow pepper, and basil; pour olive oil over and sprinkle with salt and pepper; mix well.

To me, this already looks good. 

Toss with the hot cooked spaghetti noodles and, if desired, sprinkle your freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top.    I hope you can try this!  Enjoy.  The only thing I served on the side was a variety of fresh fruit and water with lemon wedges (to go with the summer theme).

Well, it is another HOT and HUMID day here.  So glad we got out early to get the marketing done.  This day has been spent indoors again so I did a little crafting this afternoon and read another chapter in my Cranford book.  Here are two more words that I had to look up and I'm giving them to you as well.  😀


Keep learning!  

Thanks for dropping by for a short visit - God bless.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A Summer of Learning

I love old tractors.  : )

In early summer (or was it late spring?) I posted about encouraging all of you to use this summer for learning new things.  I hope it's going well so far!  It is for me.  : )

I am SO determined for my husband and me to eat better and healthier (due to a couple of test results) from now on.  I'm constantly surprised by how I can get a little lazy in this area - I start out strong and then waver and then give in to the not-so-good stuff (like Wednesday donuts and/or ice cream!).  Sometimes it takes a test result to get serious about some things.  I think the trouble is that I go the all-or-nothing route and that doesn't work.  Unless a person is so terribly ill that a lot of food is totally off limits, I believe moderation is key.  Again, I've said this before, I'm not a nutritionist or anything like that but I am (and always have been) interested in nutrition.  Anything I post about as to what I'm cooking or how I cook it or what we eat or don't eat is for us - everyone has to find out what is best for them.

But I have been doing a LOT of reading lately (hence the learning part!).  I've been writing notes on foods, oils, spices, menus, recipes and having fun with it all.  At first, I must admit that I was a bit nervous.  Knowing that all of this will have to be trial and error to see what works and what doesn't work is the challenge.  One that I want to take on.

I have been cleaning out the pantry and cupboards and drawers and beginning to replace the not-so-good stuff with better and healthier choices.  I've been reading labels like never before.  I'm learning that you can't totally give up on one kind of food because your body really does need a variety, but also learning that you don't pig out on it either - it's that moderation again.  I may not make a donut every Wednesday, but once a month isn't going to kill us (I hope not anyway).  😮

I'm learning we can't take out all the fat from our diet because our bodies need some fat to survive - it's what motivates our metabolism.  Sugar is a big culprit as well as salt.  Our bodies need salt to live, but knowing that all processed foods are so high in sodium definitely encourages me to stay away from them and buy fresh.  Which is difficult when you also want to keep a well-stocked pantry which means lots of canned food.  I'm not a canner so the next best thing is to dehydrate fruits and vegetables and put those in canning jars for the shelves and then re-hydrate them when needed.  Or freezing fresh fruits and vegetables is good, but then there is the problem of power outages so that would probably be less.

Sugar is something our bodies don't need - I mean the sugar from the sugar bowl.  A small amount of sugar is necessary for energy but when everything is heavily laden with sugar that's when the problems begin.  Pulling away from added sugar and salt is probably the most difficult for us at this point.  I have, however, read that you need to give your palate time to get used to less sugar and salt and then all of a sudden it will adjust to the new way and you won't miss it as much (I wonder how long that will take?).  😐

Cooking with spices and fresh herbs and vegetables is something fun to experiment with.  Tonight I will be scrambling some eggs (organic rich in Omega-3), but before I add the eggs I will saute' onions and garlic in olive oil first and then while the eggs are cooking I then sprinkle them with turmeric (which I'm reading is THE spice to have in your spice drawer) and black pepper (which I've also read pairs together for optimum nutrition with the turmeric).  We will have one slice of 12-grain bread, and have fresh oranges slices on the side.  That's my idea of fun!  😊

If I try any new recipe, I will be sure to share it so you can try it as well.

Speaking of reading - I'm still in my Cranford book (and really liking it) and when I read I always have a small notebook nearby to write words in that I don't know and then look them up later.  What ALWAYS surprises me about old literature is how vast the vocabulary is!  Maybe it's just me, but talk about learning.  I think back to the dumbing-down stuff we had to read in high school in the 70's (no wonder I didn't care to read) - it doesn't come close to the old literature where everyone knew what these words meant back then.  Glad I'm learning it now!  Here is a list of words that I've looked up so far just in the Cranford book alone (maybe you already know the definitions - I didn't):


If you want to take the time to look them up, you can say that you learned something today!  😊

Well, that's it for this day.  Thank you SO much for dropping by for a visit - I do appreciate it.  God bless you in your homemaking, and remember to keep the learning going!😎

Sunday, July 8, 2018

A July Sunday Morning

Last year by Lake Superior.

The last day of a break, so to speak.  Spending the last few days trying to improve my health and getting some energy back has proved to do some good.  : )  Resting, getting some sun, working on craft projects, reading a good book, eating healthy food, all has contributed to my feeling much better today.

During the last couple of mornings in prayer time and Bible reading, I was made aware once again as to how much God loves us and cares for us.  We can be at the lowest point, we can feel not so good, we can fuss over many things - but what needs to be remembered is that God loves us.

There is a young family that walks past our house every day - sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon, but mostly in the evening.  With them is the cutest little dog you've ever seen.  This little dog walks with such confidence and his little head is held high and it seems to say - "I'm THE most-loved dog in the whole world".  I just want to pick him/her (not sure) up and give it a hug.  : )

I wish all of us could walk in that confidence and hold our heads up and declare to the world that we are THAT loved!  I think we all talk about having self-confidence but what if "self" lets us down?  We can't really rely on that to get us through.  We need God.  We were created by Him and He is the One who sustains us.  Just like marriage vows - for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and health - God sees us through.

No matter what we've done in the past, God forgives.  No matter what we're faced with today, God is there in it and through it.  No matter that tomorrow seems dark, God can bring light.  I've said this quite a few times already in past posts - if you need assurance that you are loved, today is the day to find it.  Ask Jesus into your heart, confess your sinfulness to Him, and God, in His mercy will make you new.  He can heal memories, He can make you strong for what you need to face, and He can get you to the point of your holding your head up and walk with confidence knowing that you are being taken care of and you are being loved with an everlasting love that will not fail.

God bless your day.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Rest and Relaxation

Pretty.  : )

Here we are coming off a holiday week.  A full week of July gone already.  I haven't been feeling well for most of the week so that's where the rest and relaxation comes in.  Taking time to take care of ourselves is, in my opinion, important.  If we're not feeling well or even not feeling quite right, I believe it's our bodies' way of telling us to just stop for a while and rest.  So, that's what I did for the last three days.  : )

I rested a lot!  I don't think I realized how tired I was.  I had high hopes of reading a lot but every time I tried, I fell asleep.  It wasn't until yesterday where I could actually pick up my book and read a whole chapter at a time.  By the way, I'm reading "Cranford" - a book that I found at the book sale a while back.  It's a vintage book which I absolutely love.  I love the old pages.  I always wonder how many people read this book before me and if they enjoyed it as much as I am.  It also made me think of how a person like me who grew up in a small town in South Dakota who wasn't at all interested in books, came to love British literature!  But I do.  : ) 

Yesterday was the first day that I got off the couch for any amount of time - my body finally felt rested and I was ready to pursue some crafting and get outside for some much-needed fresh air.  The weather has been absolutely beautiful - low humidity and the low 80's.  The flowers are are amazing and the grass is so green from all the wonderful rain showers we've been getting.

I enjoyed using the new soap supplies that I received on Tuesday:

I got this idea while making our fresh mint and lemon tea - why not turn it into soap?  I infused the fresh mint leaves along with sliced lemons and put the infusion into the soap along with a teabag's worth of tea leaves.  It smells really good and was so fun to make.  : )  I have another idea that I hope to make today.

I finished the coasters by putting the final coat of spray acrylic on:

And, lastly, I put photos that I took on past vacations onto blank cards (I did more than this but I didn't want to bore you with all of them):

All of these things will go into the Etsy shop soon.  I'm still working on my Redwork embroidery and still crocheting dishcloths/washcloths.  It's fun to always have something to work on!  : )

Lastly, there is something that I would encourage you to do - and that is to keep on giving to others.  There is still so much need out there that we could all be helpful in.  The food shelves still need food donations.  And, they are also asking for school supply donations since many schools begin next month already.  Fortunately our church is good at giving us opportunities to donate and that's where I got the idea to bring it to you as well.  Just call your local food shelves or schools in the area and ask them what they need.  If everyone just gave a little it would make a great impact.  Do it for the children.  : )

I think that's about it for this day.  Thank you so much for your visit - I appreciate it when you drop by.  : )  God bless your day!