Thursday, August 30, 2018

Thrifty Thursday

End of Summer pretty.

The past two days have been SO nice as far as the weather goes.  It, at least, gives me a little more energy!

This week has still been all about food prep and storage.  This is what I got done today:

*filled our daily instant oatmeal packets (this is an on-going, weekly, thing to do)
*made our gravy mix (we don't have gravy often, but this is handy to have on the shelf in case we feel like a really good pork chop gravy with mashed potatoes!) mmmmm.....................   : )
*made a homemade poultry seasoning mix for bread stuffing (again, we don't have stuffing very often but it's a good thing to have in case we do - all of this is done for those times when you DO want something and don't have the time to make it or run to the store to buy it - it's already done and there for you to use).
*I just took the beef stew out of the oven to cool for freezing (the house really smells good right now).  : )
*The apples are in the slow cooker making homemade apple butter for the freezer (again, with the beef stew aroma it smells like Autumn!).
*I made 2 pie crusts for the freezer.

Hopefully I will continue to make a couple more things tomorrow.  I've been looking through my "Ball Canning and Food Preserving" magazines and have dog-eared several pages of other things I'd like to add to our food storage.  Next week I'd like to make my crockpot Chili and bake a couple more things (I'm thinking something pumpkin like bread or muffins).  Again, my idea of fun!!!  : )

I DID make the Taco Bake the other evening for supper and we liked it so I'm going to share it with you.  It wasn't a WOW! thing, but it was easy and good.  It makes a 9 x 13 pan so we easily had leftovers (it re-heats very well) - I would think you could halve the recipe and make it in a 8 x 8 pan because I don't think this would freeze very well (could be wrong though).  Here it goes:


1 lb. ground beef
1 envelope taco seasoning mix (I used our homemade so that was about 1 1/2 Tbsp.)
1 can of corn, drained
1, 15 oz. can of tomato sauce
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese (remember to buy the block cheese and shred it yourself!)
2 cups baking mix (Aldi has an excellent "Bisquick" type baking mix and very inexpensive)
1 cup milk
2 eggs
cornmeal (optional)

1.  Brown and drain the ground beef.
2.  Mix the beef with the taco seasoning, corn, and tomato sauce.  Spread in 9 x 13 pan.  Sprinkle the shredded cheese over this.
3.  Stir the baking mix, milk, and eggs together until well blended.  Pour/spread over the cheese layer.  If you'd like, dust the top with cornmeal.
4.  Bake at 350 uncovered for about 35 minutes or until done.
5.  Serve with a side of refried beans, salsa, sour cream, black olives, taco sauce, lettuce - anything you'd like.  Even some crispy tortilla chips on the side is good.  That's it!  Easy and satisfying.  

And that's all I have for you this lovely day.  I hope I can encourage you to get into the kitchen (if you already aren't) and start preparing your pantries (fridge, freezer, and shelves) for the upcoming months.  It's money well spent and good insurance for uncertain times.

Thank you for stopping by - I DO appreciate it and would LOVE to hear from any of you as to what you do to plan ahead!  God bless.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Organizational Tuesday

Thought this was a striking photo to take.  : )

Well, yesterday was almost unbearable as far as the weather went - very tropical.  And then some lovely rains came in the evening, the wind switched around to the north, and today it is cool and rainy and delicious.  A cozy day to do some organizing.  : )

I have three notebooks that I've been wanting to re-do so this afternoon was spent on that.  The first notebook is where I keep all my information and it's broken down into sections - shopping information, phone #'s, charitable giving ideas, food/health ideas, personal thoughts, etc.  I carry this notebook everywhere.  It's kind of my brain on paper!  There were old things in there and ideas that were no longer important, information that needed some updating, things that I wanted to re-read and add to.

The original charitable notebook that I kept is now in my personal notebook so that when I go shopping I can see at a glance what I need instead of having to re-write information down just for a shopping trip.  So, now the charitable notebook is no longer and I can use that for something else.

The other notebook I wanted to update and sort through was my prayer notebook that I keep with my Bible.  It was getting very tattered so this past weekend I bought another one and today I transferred all the information from the old into the new.  I feel much more organized now.  : )

I'm still working on the food prep list too.  I made a couple more mixes this morning, so this is what I've done so far:

*raisin bread dough
*pizza dough - two kinds
*variety of cake mixes
*variety of pancake mixes
*variety of pudding mixes
*taco and pizza seasoning mixes
*muffin mix
*brownie mix
*chocolate chip cookie dough
*taco meat
*spaghetti sauce
*sloppy joes

And tomorrow I will be buying chicken breasts to marinate and freeze, some stew beef to make beef stew to freeze, and fruit to make some freezer jam.  I am enjoying this immensely.  If you read "Little House on the Prairie" (I think it's the "First Four Years" book) - I completely get how Laura feels when she first gets married and she sets up her first pantry and how proud she is when she sees all the canned goods and other things on the shelves.  It really is a good and satisfying feeling.

Tonight I will be making a new recipe - Taco Bake - if we like it, I will pass it along to you too!!!!

I think that's about all I have for today.  Just getting to the homey stuff.  Thank you so much for dropping by!  God bless.  : )

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Sunday Afternoon

A pretty countryside.

When I pray for our little family (husband, son, daughter-in-law, myself), I've begun to pray for the fruit of the Spirit in our life:


Every day I take one and pray over it and pray that we would eventually exhibit these things in our lives.  Looking at the list, I'm sure we can all say that some of them definitely don't come naturally.  Some seem a little easier than others, but none of them truly come naturally.  Only with the help of our Lord will we ever see some progress.

I think back on the week and the day that sticks out most is Friday.  Starting off the morning with prayer, the fruit of the Spirit for that day was "joy".  I learned a long time ago that joy is internal - happiness is external.  We can be happy about many things, but joy (for me anyway) can be hard to find.  Being a pray-er, I get prayer requests that break my heart.  I truly love and care about the people I pray for so when I have my prayer requests in front of me and I get up from lifting them in prayer, they don't just go away.  I don't just pray and then go on.  It stays with me.  They are literally on my mind for a good part of the day and to be honest - it can take a toll on me.  Some of the people that I pray for are going through REALLY difficult things and I feel it, I cry over it so to pray for ourselves and pray for joy on that particular day was real because there are times when I just want to be happy and I want to be joyful if only for a day.

Friday.  My daughter-in-law had a birthday in early August but because of having so many other things going on at that time, we celebrated her birthday on Friday.  Asking ahead of time what kind of food she would like, I spent Friday morning getting everything ready for it which I enjoy and then spent the afternoon resting off and on because I know myself - I know that I will get too tired to enjoy anything in the evening if I don't rest a bit in the afternoon.  Also ahead of time I read a book that I bought while on our little trip up north.  It was a book on hospitality and I love reading books about what other people do when having company over.  This book shared what kind of food they cooked, what themes they made the party, how they decorated, what games they played, even conversation starters (which I really needed because I sometimes feel that if I don't do all the talking, not much conversation will happen which tires me out even more!).

The food I prepared was definitely comfort food and that theme was actually in this book so I borrowed the conversation starter and wrote it on the blackboard that hangs in our dining room.  The question - "what was the best meal you ever had?"  Lo, and behold, it worked!  LOL  The conversation  brought up good memories of good food and the different places we ate.

Under the "comfort food" theme, it was suggested that old-fashioned board games should be brought out (which I had planned to do anyway).  We played Monopoly.  I really didn't think we would finish the whole game in one evening (if you know Monopoly, that's hard to do) so I put it on a flat painted board that could be slid under a bed and be brought out at another time.  But we were having so much fun and so many laughs with it, that 4 hours later our son was the winner of every. single. piece. of. property. on the board.  None of us had ever seen that in our entire lives.  So much fun.  We even stayed up until after midnight which is SO not like us (mom and dad, that is).  : )

The next morning I woke up with a sore throat from laughing so hard the night before.  All of this to say that the Lord answered my prayer of giving me (us) both happiness AND joy that day.  Something that I've so desperately needed for a VERY long time and again, I prayed prayers of praise on Saturday.

We have a God who cares about whether or not we have a good day.  This post has a lot of "I's" and "me's" and "we's" in it, but it's meant to fix your eyes upon Jesus.  God isn't a kill-joy.  He wants us to have times of peace and joy and happiness.  Life is hard.  Life is tough.  The world is crazy.  Life is sad.  People hurt us.  So to ask God for a day that is fun and funny and memorable is what I needed to do and He was so faithful in that.  Because early Saturday morning I once again opened my prayer notebook and was reminded of all the people who did not have a good day on Friday.  And that's the reality of it.  I love praying for people because I believe in the power of prayer.  The Bible is filled with verses on prayer - we are to come boldly before the throne of God, we are to pray without ceasing, we are to pray and not lose heart, when we stand (or kneel) praying we are to believe in our heart, we are to bring ALL our prayers, petitions, and requests before God.  And I try my best to do that.  But it also means that it can wear me out emotionally.  Some people that I'm praying for I do not know or have never met - but that doesn't matter.  What matters is that someone has entrusted me to lift someone that they care about up in prayer and I want to do that for them.

So, in closing, looking back on Friday I am so grateful to the Lord.  It renewed me and revived my spirit.  And I'm also grateful for the privilege of praying for those who ask it of me.  Again, if you don't have a personal relationship with Jesus, take this time - right now - to ask Him into your life.

God bless your day and the upcoming week!!!!!!  : )

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Food on the Brain

The whole food storage thing is great within me lately and I need to really pay attention to that.  For the past couple of years there have been many posts from women who have been feeling this way as well.  I think the Lord provides us with knowing when to start taking action in certain areas of our lives, and I believe this is an area that He's trying to get our attention in.

Food is a major area that we need to do something about - we all need to eat to survive!  And we are relying on the grocery stores and restaurants to provide that food for us.  I don't know if you've noticed or not, but even the grocery store shelves are getting pretty slim.  So we need to ask ourselves - what do we do about that?!  What if you couldn't just go and get what you wanted or needed?  I don't think any of us feel that that would really happen.  Not here in the land of plenty.  But, yes indeed, it can happen.

I encourage you to go to your freezer, your fridge, your cupboards and/or pantry shelves and take a good look at what you have stored.  How long would it take for you to run out of food?  Do you live day by day?  Week by week?  Month by month?  Are you certain you could go for any length of time before you had to make another trip to the store?  It's kind of a scary thought.  I would also encourage you to find a copy of Laura Ingalls Wilder's book "The Long Winter" and read it (or re-read it).  Talk about scary!!!!  Their winter began in September and lasted until May!  And back then, women were very good at "putting up" food.  But by the time Spring rolled around they were using up the last of the flour and down to the bare minimum - so much so that they were literally starving.

We may never get to that point of desperation but there are still so many things that can happen to our economy that unless we begin to prepare for the worst we could find ourselves in need.  Even with what I'm doing now in cooking and baking ahead, I don't think it's even close to being enough to sustain us very long.  That's why we all need to think.  Think things through.  Think ahead.  And take it seriously.

Some of the questions I ask myself - can I provide good nutrition for our family?  what does that look like?  how much money am I willing to put into this now? how much time and attention do I need?  do I really consider this a priority?  what other things should we give up in order to make this work?

I think it's harder for those of us who live in an area where there are restaurants all around us and grocery stores right down the street.  With so much food all around us and at every turn, we simply cannot imagine that there would be any problem in this area, but the high price of food (whether that be in the restaurants or in the stores), the empty shelves in the stores, the shortage of truck drivers getting the food to the restaurants and stores, are all indications that we need to begin to do for ourselves again and rely less on others.

Every woman should know how to bake a loaf of bread.  Every woman should know how to make a pot of soup.  Seriously, if you know just those two things you can get your family through the winter in a healthy manner.  The problem with most of us, though, is that we get bored and we get lazy and we feel we deserve more than just a loaf of bread and a pot of soup.  I know I cave in once in a while and it's just easier to get take-out somewhere.  So, I would love for us to encourage each other in this area.  Let's get back to the kitchen.  Let's use our heads and hands again to protect us from what might and could happen.  Let's share thoughts and ideas with each other.  And, also, if you have any girls in your life, teach them!   What I'm seeing is that parents want their girls to be active in sports and be honor students but failing in teaching them in how to care for a home or cooking or baking - the home economics part of education.   Quite a while back, I heard of a story about how the parents sent their teenage daughter out to buy a package of chocolate chips.  She went to the store and went straight to the chip aisle.  While there, she asked a clerk where the chocolate chips were and he politely told her that they were in the baking section.  True story.  This daughter may have been on the honor roll and may have done other exceptional things, but if she doesn't know her way around the kitchen or what real food looks like, how in the world will she be able to take care of a family of her own?

So, begin now to do SOMETHING.  Get to the point where you know that you could make it a full week without having to go the store for anything.  Then work up to two weeks, then three, then a month.  Start out slow and methodical.  Think things through.  Ask questions.  Learn new skills.  Build up to the point of where you feel confident and then go on to the next thing.  I constantly have to talk to myself and remind myself to enjoy the process.  You'll get tired of hearing me say this but........DOING SOMETHING IS REALLY BETTER THAN DOING NOTHING!!!!!!

God bless you in your efforts today and this weekend!   : )

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Easy Peasy Taco Meat

This taco meat couldn't be easier and it's very good as well.  Only three ingredients!!!!  Here it goes:


3 lbs. hamburger (cooked and drained)  I use Aldi's organic hamburger
3 cups salsa (mild or hot, whichever you like) I use Aldi's organic salsa
3 tsp. chili powder (more or less to taste)

Add all of this to the crockpot and cook on Low for 4-6 hours (I usually do mine for the 6 hours).

That is it!  Seriously, it is SO smart to add salsa to the meat because all you need (onions, peppers, spices) are already in it - no need for chopping, dicing, and slicing.  I tried this a couple of years ago during our Fall pumpkin party and it was a hit, so this is definitely my go-to.  It makes a lot so it was another meal that I prepared for the freezer.  I'm putting all my meals into quart-size bags so that they'll be smaller portions and it also saves room in the freezer.  You can just stack all the bags on top of each other.

Short and sweet post - thank you for dropping by.  I do hope you can give it a try and let me know what you think!!!!!  God bless.  : )

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Quinoa Suprise

We are liking quinoa more and more these days.  For grains in our meals, I usually turn to brown rice or whole wheat pasta, but I'm also using quinoa.  It is an ancient grain (which I think is really cool) and it is dubbed as a super food (which I also think is really cool).  This is my kind of thing.  : )

What the quinoa surprise is all about is that on Monday, for supper, I baked some salmon and made quinoa to go with it.  You rinse the 1 cup of quinoa in cold water first and then add it to a pan with either 2 cups of broth or 2 cups of water, bring it to a boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes with the lid on.  Turn off the heat and let set for another 5 minutes or until all liquid is gone and then fluff with a fork.  As with rice, it's usually always a 2:1 ratio and it always amazes me as to how much you get from that!

Well, anyway - with our salmon we both had a good-size scoop of quinoa and I found I had a LOT leftover.  On Tuesday, I made Quinoa Fried Rice with the leftovers and for a meatless meal it was fantastic!  I STILL had a LOT leftover (it was like I couldn't get rid of it!).  So, today for lunch, I put the leftover Quinoa Fried Rice in a skillet, heated it up, and then added a bag of cooked shrimp to it for, yet, another really good meal.  I can now say that the quinoa is gone!  But, seriously, three meals out of it is excellent.  : )

If you find yourself with leftover quinoa and wonder what to do with it, I want to share this recipe with you:


1/2 small onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped (about 3/4 cup)
3 scallions (green onions), chopped and divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
5 Tbsp. teriyaki sauce (recipe below)
3/4 tsp. sesame oil
2 eggs, lightly scrambled (but still raw)
1/2 cup frozen peas (I had some broccoli leftover so I used that instead)
Leftover quinoa, refrigerated

1.  Make the teriyaki sauce and set aside.
2.  Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large saute' pan over high heat.  Add onion and carrot - cook for 2 minutes.  Add 2 scallions, garlic, and ginger to the pan - cook for another 2 minutes.  Add the rest of the olive oil and add the quinoa - stir-fry for another 2 minutes.  Add the teriyaki sauce and the sesame oil and incorporate it.  Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the eggs - scramble until eggs are cooked.  Throw in the peas (or any leftover vegetable you wish) and toss everything together until the vegetables are warmed through.  Add remaining scallion and serve.

TERIYAKI SAUCE - (why buy Teriyaki Sauce when it's SO easy to make!)

Mix 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup honey, and a clove of minced garlic together.  Seriously, it's that easy.  This will make more than you need for this recipe so store the rest in a glass jar in the fridge for your next stir-fry!  : )

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did.  : )

It really has been all about the kitchen and food this month.  I am so enjoying all the things I'm making for our pantry and freezer.  Cookie dough, bread dough, sloppy joes, spaghetti sauce, spice mixes, fudge sauce, pancake mixes, pancake syrup - tomorrow will be taco meat and another cookie dough.  While grocery shopping this month, I'm trying to pick up a little more than usual based upon what we go through.  I'm buying soup bones and ham hocks for winter soups.  Every little thing that I can do know will be of great help in the future.  That old pioneer spirit is in me - the one that says start "putting up" things now.  I have that Fall feeling and it's definitely motivating me.  I have projects downstairs to work on, but I want to get this done first.  

That's it for today!!!!!!  Again, I hope you can try the above recipe.  Thank you for stopping by for a visit - I appreciate it.  God bless.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Sunday Afternoon

I'm posting a little later than normal today.  Our church had our annual one-service Sunday followed by an all-church BBQ and lake baptisms.  What great fellowship!  Such wonderful testimonies from the people who were getting baptized - the children's testimonies were precious.  What a gift for a child to already know Jesus and want to declare it through the obedience of baptism.  Lots of tears shed today.  Joyful tears.  : )

As I look back at the past week, two things stand out.  First the funeral of a beautiful elderly lady.  The "theme" of the funeral (for lack of a better word) was "a life well-lived".  From the stories that were told and the photo boards that were set up it looked like she truly did live life well.  Her love for Jesus stood out most of all and what affect that had on her whole family.

Isn't it true that we all want to leave a legacy?  I think at funerals most of all, it gets me to thinking of what I am leaving.  What have I done that's lasting?  When someone goes up in front of the church, what will they say about me?  Did I make any difference at all?  It's definitely a motivating thought - a thought we should all be thinking about while we still have breath.  It's one reason why I post my Sunday thoughts.  I'm not a theologian, I don't know Scripture inside and out, I didn't spend years in seminary - I'm a wife, a homemaker, a mom, a friend.  I'm someone who falters and fails and gets angry.  I'm someone who struggles, who has fears.  But I am also born-again.  Born into the family of God.  Saved by Him and has a personal relationship with Jesus, my Savior.  I'm not perfect, but I'm loved.  And if I can get you (if you are not yet saved by grace) to come to Jesus and experience His love for you, then blogging would have been worth it.

The second thing that happened this week was on Thursday.  I had to take my husband to the emergency room because of an accident that happened here at home in the backyard and he definitely needed stitches around the ear area.  I won't go into the specifics, but because of God's protection, this accident wasn't as bad as the Dr. said it could have been.  The CT scan confirmed that there were no broken bones or a skull fracture or concussion.  So, again, I was praising God for His protection.  It reminds me every day to keep praising God for something.  Just the fact that we are still breathing and have life within us is reason to offer up thanksgiving!!!   

I guess that was three things this week - our church gathering today which was so very meaningful and special, the funeral that helped us to think what we are doing in the lives of others that will bring them to Christ, and then the protection God provides for us in those times when accidents happen.  What a blessing!  Hallelujah!!!!!!

May you truly know how God works in your life today and the upcoming week.  : )

Saturday, August 18, 2018

More Thoughts About Food Storage


Last Saturday, I just quickly jotted some ideas down about food storage.  Yesterday I sat down with those ideas and really made it specific as to what I want to begin working on in the kitchen for our Fall and early Winter food storage.  In January, I will do this again for the Winter and early Spring.  I know this is what I need to be doing right now.  It's not just a feeling (although I have that too), it's something within me with the changing of the seasons that just seems natural.

I know this because for the past week - as much as I love to craft and sew - I go down to my "studio" space and have little desire.  The pull to the kitchen is strong right now and I really need to go with that.  But in order to be efficient, I also knew that I needed to take the time to actually sit down and think things through.  I needed to be specific in my kitchen time.

When first beginning to try making food for food storage, I just randomly picked things that sounded good but ended up throwing them away because we just weren't using them up in time and that is wasteful and I didn't want to go through that again.  So, in being specific, I needed to take out the notebooks and recipes that we really do use on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis and go from there.  

The other day I posted about the modern conveniences that we have in our home to make food storage easy so I just went with that but expanded it a bit.  Because of these conveniences, none of these things will take long except for the prep work and I'm willing to do that!  I really wish that I would have spent some time in the Spring to do this as it would have come in handy for the Summer months.  There have been several times when we were working outside and didn't feel like stopping to cook that my husband just went out and grabbed some fast-food instead.  That made me uncomfortable.  First fast-food is not good for us AND it's expensive.  And I'd rather that be an exception, not the rule.  So, looking back, I should have had freezer meals available that I could have taken out in the morning and by mealtime they would have been thawed and only needed to be heated up.  ALWAYS LEARNING!!!!!!  😊

Here is a glimpse at my notes from yesterday and what I'll be working on today (not all of these, of course, but will pick and choose according to what I have on hand right now):

I know I've shared some of these already, so I hope you're patient with me!  😏

*The bread machine:  I think having bread on hand is good hospitality.  There is something about breaking bread together that is satisfying and cozy and homey.  I just make the bread dough and freeze it because baking bread in your home screams comfort!  So, things like our Raisin bread dough, regular bread dough, pizza dough, and there are a myriad of bread dough recipes to choose from.  We have our favorites, I know you have yours.  If you don't have a bread machine, I encourage you to make your own dough by hand.  I know a lot of people have gluten sensitivities nowadays but there are recipes for that too.

*Homemade mixes:  This really works for me.  To have pre-made mixes on the shelf is a blessing.  And you know what the ingredients are because you put them together!  You can limit the salt and the sugar if you need.  But the convenience is amazing.  Here is our list of what I try to keep on hand:
-a variety of cake mixes
-a variety of pancake mixes
-a variety of pudding mixes
-seasoning mixes such as taco, pizza, dill dip, stuffing, etc.
-our morning oatmeal packets
-cookie, brownie, and muffins mixes

Again, these are wonderful to have and pull of the shelf when needed or when you need a quick dessert.  So much better than to have to buy them at the store.  Of course, you will need the ingredients to make them, but having the ingredients on hand is savings in itself.  Flour, sugar, oil, cocoa, oatmeal, spices, vanilla, etc. should be something we have on hand anyway so why not just go the extra mile and prepare the mixes ahead of time?

*Dehydrating:  I know I posted about this last time, so I won't say it again but dehydrating food is an excellent way to preserve real food.  Read up about it so that you do it properly but I hope you can try it.  Dehydrators can be inexpensive or expensive depending on what type you get.  But how about getting together with a group of friends or neighbors and buying one together and share it?  How fun would that be?!  You could share what you dehydrate and learn together.

*Freezer meals:  I went through the recipes that I knew would freeze well and have decided to one or two meals a week until I'm done.  Most freezer meals last for about 3 - 4 months for optimal taste, so that would take me through November and into December which is perfect.  Here are some of the meals I'll be working on:
-Taco meat
-Beef stew (keeping the potatoes out because potatoes do not freeze well)
-Little meatloaves
-Chow mein
-Hamburger soup (again, without the potatoes)
-Spaghetti sauce
-Pre-patty the hamburgers into 4-packs
-BBQ meatballs
-Beef barley soup
-Marinated chicken breasts
-And, as always, keep making beef and chicken stock

I always try to buy frozen shrimp and other fish for the freezer too for something besides red meat in our diet.  I buy whole chickens and turkey breasts so that I have the bones for stock and soups and the meat can be turned into wonderful casseroles.

*Jams:  We like to have these on hand.  It takes us a long time to go through a jar of jam, so we don't need to have a lot around, but things such as: (for the freezer)
-crockpot apple butter
-small batch grape jam
-even the bread machine has a recipe for strawberry jam that I want to try!
-small batch blueberry jam

*Other miscellaneous things that are nice to have in the freezer:
-cookie dough
-sweet breads such as pumpkin, banana, etc.
-small 8x8 cakes
-homemade flour tortillas
-pie crusts and even a baked pie or two
-ice cream desserts

Just some sweet things you can pull out when you know someone is coming over or your own family feels like having a treat.  

Well, that is the list I have in my kitchen as of yesterday.  We don't have unlimited funds to do all this, so part of the process is to do what I can right now with what I have right now and then plan as I go what I should be doing next within our budget.  This won't happen overnight - it takes time and energy and some of these things might not get done.  But the whole idea is to get us all thinking about what we CAN do.  The "something is better than nothing" attitude is very important so I really do encourage you in this.

Just like with getting together with friends or other family in buying and using a dehydrator, maybe a group of you can get together and start working on these food items.  Sometimes it's more fun and motivating if you work together for a common good.  To spur one another on in the kitchen.

That's it for today!  Thank you so much for your visit - I hope it helps.  😊  God bless your day and weekend.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Thinking Ahead and Preparing

Last Saturday while watching a couple of cooking shows, I got to thinking of how I can use what I have to prepare for the upcoming months as far as food goes.  What I have:

*a dehydrator
*bread machine

I feel very blessed to have these modern conveniences to make and preserve food.  I first began to think of what ingredients I use in my recipes that I should have here at home.  So I started with the dehydrator - what can I dehydrate?  Well, we always buy bananas because we love our morning smoothies.  And I like making granola and banana chips would go great in that.  On Tuesday I bought 2 big bunches of bananas and yesterday I dehydrated them.  Three full racks of sliced bananas dry down to one quart jar of dried banana chips.  And then I wrote down - onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, and garlic.  Those foods are the ones that I always want to have on hand.  So this week I bought the bananas, next week I wrote down to buy the bags of onions and garlic so that I can dehydrate those next.  One thing that I made note of, however, was that while the bananas were dehydrating the whole house smelled like I was making banana bread (because it takes about 10 hours to dehydrate), so I'm thinking that if I do the onions and garlic next week the dehydrator will be going outside or in the garage because again it will take about 10 hours to dehydrate those as well and even though I love the smell of onions and garlic I don't really want the house to smell that way all day long.  😐  All of these dehydrated foods can be put on the pantry shelf and stored for a very long time.  I even want to try making homemade pasta, dehydrating it, and putting that away.  The ideas seem endless.

Okay - next - I thought about the bread machine.  I've said in a past post that we really enjoy our raisin bread treat on the weekends for breakfast with peanut butter and smoothies on the side.  So why not just make raisin bread dough (several loaves) and just freeze the dough?  On Fridays I can take the dough out of the freezer, thaw and bake.  Simple.  The next thing I thought of was pizza dough.  We enjoy making pizza at least a couple of times a month - it's simple, fast, and tasty.  So, again, why not just make a lot of pizza dough and freeze them?  Instead of waiting till the last minute it only makes sense to have it available and then make sure that I always have the other ingredients on hand for a spontaneous pizza when you feel like it.

I'm really not a canner though I do have everything I need for it.  However, I do enjoy the small-batch canning and I enjoy making jam for the freezer.  So I keep my eyes open for boxes of blueberries or strawberries on sale.  I was just reading about some easy pickles to make along with salsa that I want to try because both of those we eat a lot of too.

And then - freezer meals.  I went through my cookbook and wrote down everything that I want to make for the freezer - little meatloaves, taco meat, marinated chicken breasts, chili, spaghetti sauce, sloppy joes.  I bought the hamburger this week and tomorrow I'm going to make the sloppy joes.  Next time I will look at the list and buy what I need for that and so on.

Lastly, other things that aren't necessary but are nice to have - make pie crusts to freeze, make different kinds of cookie dough to freeze, make homemade mixes to have on the shelf such as cake mixes, or hamburger-helper type mixes.

When talking about thinking ahead I'm pretty much talking about a few months at a time.  In a couple of weeks it will be September - that leaves us only 4 months to Christmas!  (oh my)  Wouldn't it be nice during that hectic time to have things in your freezer and/or on your shelves that you can just have available without thinking too much about it?  Freeing up your time to do something fun and meaningful?  The time and money you put into it now will be time and money well spent.  For those of us who have to watch the spending, when we do this kind of thing, take it slowly.  I chose to do the bananas this week because bananas are always inexpensive.  I chose to make the doughs for the freezer because I have everything I need for that already.  And because I planned ahead I bought the 2 lbs. of meat for the sloppy joes, and I have what I need to make a batch of cookies dough.  That's 4 food items in one week and it is very cost efficient.

So, again, I encourage you in this area.  Time is valuable.  Money can be sparse and with the cost of food only going up, we need to think now and do something about storing food away.  And always remember that this doesn't have to be just for us.  With food in the freezer and on your shelves, we can help others who may be struggling and just need a home-cooked meal to be delivered.  Wouldn't it feel great to have a pan of frozen lasagne in the freezer along with some bread dough and cookie dough?  You could bring the lasagne out, thaw it, bake it.  You can bring the bread dough out, thaw it, bake it,  You can bring the cookie dough out, thaw it, bake it.  And everything can be brought over as a special treat.  I would totally love that!!!!!

At least it's a start!  😊

Thanks for stopping by!!!!  I love it when you do.  God bless your homemaking efforts.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Linguine with Shrimp and Tomatoes

I've posted in the past that when I'm on the look-out for new recipes and I come across one that may not have the exact ingredients as I do at home (but close), I try the recipe with what I already have.  I don't think I've ever ran to the store at the last minute just because I didn't have a specific ingredient.

With this recipe, I did not have linguine, but I always have spaghetti noodles (or some other pasta) on the pantry shelf.  I also did not have on-the-vine tomatoes, but I usually pick up either a box of cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes on every shopping trip.  And because we are shrimp lovers, we always have a bag or two of shrimp in the freezer.  So, even though I didn't have the exact ingredients, it was very close and I wanted to try it.  It turned out very good - although like I've said before - I wouldn't post a bad recipe for you to try!!! LOL  😄

I hope you can try this and enjoy it as much as we did.  Unfortunately, I didn't take photos of the process (I forgot again), but the directions are very easy so I know you'll get it.


Kosher salt
12 oz. linguine (I used spaghetti)
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes (I used the grape tomatoes)
5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 - 3 cloves minced garlic (of course I used 3)
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp (tails removed)

1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook al dente'; drain and return to the pot.

2.  Meanwhile, if you're using regular tomatoes, core, halve and seed them.  With the grape tomatoes, I just cut them in half (so much easier!).  In a food processor, blend the tomatoes, 1/4 cup olive oil, the garlic, the oregano, 3/4 tsp. salt, and a few grinds of the pepper to make a chunky sauce.

3.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Season the shrimp with salt and pepper.  Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil to the skillet, add the shrimp in a single layer; cook, turning once, until just cooked - about 3 minutes or so.  Add the processed tomato sauce to the skillet and heat up.  

4.  At this point you can pour the whole shrimp/tomato mixture in with the pasta and toss to coat or what we did was just serve up the pasta onto our plates and then spoon the sauce over it.  I also provided fresh grated Parmesan cheese and a little olive oil to drizzle on top.

The recipe says that it serves four.  I think that if you had bread and a salad or some fruit to go with, you could get away with the smaller portions, but this was our main dish and I just served a little fruit to go with it, so I think in reality it would serve 2 or 3 (but that's just us).  😉

I'm definitely going to put this into the notebook of recipes to make again and I hope you do enjoy it!

That's it for today.  Thank you for the short visit!!!!!  God bless.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Baked Teriyaki Chicken

This is another recipe that you can make for one person or many - just multiply the ingredients for the many!  : )  It's very easy to put together and tastes amazing along with making your home smell good too.  Hope you can give it a try!


1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. cold water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced (I used 2 because we love garlic)
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the above ingredients.  Let simmer, stirring frequently, till sauce thickens and bubbles.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place your chicken pieces (the original recipe calls for boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but I had boneless, skinless chicken breasts so I used them instead) in a lightly greased baking dish.  Pour the above sauce over the chicken, cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.  After 45 minutes, uncover and bake uncovered for 15 minutes and baste with the sauce every 5 minutes so it gets a nice coating.  The original recipe didn't call for this, but I opened up a small can of pineapple chunks and put those in during the last 15 minutes as well.  It just added a nice sweet/sour taste.

I steamed some long grain rice (because, believe me, you're going to want to spoon some of that sauce over the rice!) to go along beside and I stir-fried a sliced onion, a red bell pepper and a yellow bell pepper in some olive oil until soft and browned around the edges.  (My husband is not that crazy about the onion and peppers, but I'm trying to get him to eat his veggies).  : )

Serving some cold watermelon for a refreshing addition and you have a complete tasty meal that is very quick and easy to get on the table.

*As I try to remind you - remember to set all of your ingredients out, measure everything beforehand so you can just add as you go.  We have a rice cooker so I don't need to do anything there except pour everything in, but when stir-frying cut everything up so it's all ready to go.  It makes for a less stressful dinner hour.  If you give yourself time and relax and remember that there isn't a need to hurry you CAN enjoy the process of cooking.  It's when we aren't organized and we haven't planned ahead is where we can get into the trouble of not liking to cook.  

That's it from here!  Enjoy and God bless your efforts.  😎

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Sunday Afternoon

Another photo of the North Shore.  I already want to go back!  : )

As Christians, we talk about being in the fellowship of other believers.   My husband and I have only been at our church for a couple of years, but in the past two years we have come to know quite a few people.  As I sat in church in this morning, I looked around  - some we know, some we've said "hello" to in passing, some we haven't met yet - but it was a good feeling.  We sit by the door where everyone comes in and it's always wonderful when someone comes up and says "hi" and asks how we're doing and we carry on a short conversation.  Then someone else comes in who we know that her husband has not been feeling well and are able to ask about him.  Our son got married in our church last year and we always see the gal that helped with the wedding and her mom who cooked all the food.  We sit in front of women who I know from Wednesday morning Bible studies and it's fun to chat with them.  We will go to a funeral at church this Wednesday to support our Bible study leader as it is the funeral of her mom.  Our church sends out prayer requests on a weekly basis (and as needed) for anyone who needs to be lifted up in prayer.  In meeting new people a couple of weeks ago, I glanced over and noticed a woman who looked very familiar to me and went over talk to her - she was my BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) leader from over 25 years ago!!!!!

This kind of fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ is important in our lives.  We laugh together, we cry together, we learn together, we grow together, we sing together, we pray together.  We used to belong to a mega-church and at first we enjoyed it, but we're finding that this small country-like church in the suburbs is what we needed.  In a large church (and I'm not saying anything against large churches!) I saw that it was easier to be and stay anonymous.  You could slip in and out without anyone noticing.  You don't have to get to know anyone and they don't have to get to know you.  And some people really like that.  But I'm not so sure that's how we should live.  We need people in our lives - someone we can call on and count on.  Someone to talk about Jesus with!  I have been with non-believers in conversation and I always feel like there is something missing.  I can't really share my heart with them because there isn't any way of them understanding what that all means if they've never experienced a life with Christ.  Not that we, as Christians, should only have our exclusive group and never associate with anyone else.  Just the opposite.  As Christians we need to reach out to everyone.  But my thoughts today are focused on finding a Bible believing church and getting to know the people inside the church.  A church is not the building - it's the people.  And to never put the full responsibility of getting to know other people within the church totally on them.  We have to do our part as well.  Get involved.  Go to the Bible studies, help out with meals, volunteer where needed, you be the one to say "hi" to someone you don't know and introduce yourselves.

I've heard many people complain about the church and how click-ish they are and how they can't get anyone to notice them let alone talk to them.  Well..........what are you doing to change that?  Do you stand off in the corner where it looks like you DO want to be left alone?  Do you leave right away?  Do you come in at the last minute?  Do you take part in what activities they have?  Do you volunteer your time?  Don't put all of that on everyone else and then come home disappointed because you just can't seem to enter in.  It all takes time and effort on everyone's part to feel like you are a part of a church family.  And they ARE family.  When you look around, think of every single person as a brother or sister.  God is our Father and those of us who have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior will someday be together forever.  Wouldn't it be nice to know these people you worship with every Sunday so that you can carry on in eternity?  : )

I hope this encourages you in some way.   God bless this day and the upcoming week.  : )

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Saturday Morning

One of the things that my husband and I enjoy when we go on a little "vacation" is that we stop at the local grocery store to pick up fresh food to eat and make (if we have a room with a kitchen or kitchenette).  While at the store, we indulge in buying magazines (he usually gravitates towards the outdoor magazines or handyman magazines and I usually pick up ones that are about cooking or crafting).  Then, after we have exhausted our time away from our room, we sit down and relax with our magazines.  It's a wonderful way to end the day.

The magazine I chose this time was called "In Her Studio" - a magazine full of articles about a lot of different women and the studios they create in.  And it was refreshing because not all the women had huge, gorgeous, studios.  Many of them just had a corner of their houses.  Some of them were organized and could bring everything to the dining room table and then pack it all up at the end of the day when the table was needed for supper.  The ones that did have a wonderful workspace (sometimes a whole lower level of their house, or a really nice "shed" out back) worked their way up to that - it didn't just happen.  And they were all at home!  No fancy urban studio somewhere else.  The idea of the magazine was to spur people on to getting back to finding a passion, a hobby, an activity that we can all go to in our spare time which can, in some cases, turn into a home business but that was not the chief end.  It truly was trying to get women back to doing something creative.

I have an article hanging up in my workspace downstairs (that I re-read often) from another magazine called "Living a Passionate Life" - and the idea is pretty much the same - find SOMETHING to do!!!!!  Hobbies add meaning to our lives, they can actually add years to our lives, they can make us feel emotionally and physically better.  You find things out about yourself that you really didn't know and that brings about feelings of self-confidence and an I-really-can-do-this attitude.

So, today's post is all about encouraging you to find something creative to do.  I always post about the monthly to-do lists that we need to keep up in our homes.  I post about food and recipes because we need to eat and it's a necessary thing to do.  But in between those times of getting things done around the house, it's a really good idea to find something outside of that.  Something that is totally your own.  In the magazine I bought, it was full of women from all walks of life.  Some were just beginning with a couple of young children, some were women whose children were grown, some were grandma's already, some were single women, some were married - all of them had responsibilities to their families and friends (because they do come first).  But they were able to carve out time to just pursue their hobbies and interests and found that it made them more relaxed, more interested, and more interesting.  Many people just let their passions die within them.  They don't even try.  And then they get to the end of their lives and have regrets of all the things they wish they would have done.    Let's not be that way.  Let today be the day that you begin to work on just for the pleasure of working on it.  If you don't try, you'll never know.  I've posted about this before - if you try something, and you feel that it just isn't enjoyable, try something else.  Don't quit.  It's easy to quit.  Keep going until you find that one thing - and you'll know it once you try it.  If you're not sure, here is a list of hobbies and activities to maybe get your brain thinking:  (this is not an exhaustive list, there are many more ideas out there).

*volunteer somewhere - I know that this isn't a hobby or creative interest, but a lot of people find great pleasure in helping other people.  Ask yourself - do I enjoy working with children, the elderly, people with special needs, animals?
*gardening - instead of trying to grow everything and get frustrated, are you interested in something special?  Roses? A great vegetable patch? Tropical flowers?  Can you set up a small greenhouse for the winter months?
*collections - this can range from teacups, to stamps, to rocks, to coins, to quilts - whatever you love.  This is something we all have to be careful of, however.  We don't want to fill our houses up with stuff, so this has to have some kind of borders and limitations.  When collecting, in order to learn something and keep the brain active, do research on what you collect.  Document it, write up something about it.
*knitting/crocheting - their are tons of on-line tutorials for this!  There are also community education classes you can sign up for.  This is a nice hobby, because you can make useful items for yourself and others, it's relatively inexpensive, and you can take it wherever you go.
*sewing - again there are lots of on-line tutorials for this (and for everything else that I list, so I won't say this again - LOL).  Sewing is another hobby where you can make useful items for yourself and others, as well as your home.  Walking into a fabric store is a great pleasure for me - seeing all those bolts of colorful fabrics just makes me happy.  : )
*quilting - bringing all those colorful fabrics cut and sewn together to make something beautiful is wonderful.
*card-making - I've been doing this for quite a while now and still enjoy it.  There are so many ways to turn simple cardstock paper into something pretty and fun and is nice to give.
*embroidery - I know there are embroidery machines out there, but it's much more fun to find the embroidery stamps you like, put them onto a piece of fabric, choose the pretty embroidery floss, and do it yourself.  Again, this is something you can pick up and take anywhere and you get wonderful results.  Look around at things you already have in your home - kitchen towels, sheets, bedspreads, pillow cases, etc. - what could you put on these to personalize your home with?
*canning - now is the time of year to can those fruits and vegetables.  You might like entering your canned goods into a county fair and see what happens!  You can do this all year with small batch canning - good to keep and good to give away.  : )
*photography - I'm not a photographer by any means, but I LOVE taking photos.  You can be so creative with this - do you like the outdoors?  Do you like architecture?  Do you like taking photos of people?  I only have a point and shoot camera and it has taken some pretty amazing photos (if I do say so myself - LOL), so don't feel you need a lot of fancy equipment.  Just be inspired and shoot away!
*woodworking - I know this needs space.  A space where you can get messy so it won't work for everyone.  But even buying some pre-made kits where all the sawing and cutting are done for you and you just need a hammer and nails and some stain or paint to finish them would be fun.  Make doll furniture, or birdhouses, or picture frames - just try it!
*painting/coloring/drawing - this is very satisfying.  I, myself, don't have much patience with painting because I tend to be highly critical of what I come up with, but I do enjoy the adult coloring books they have now and I do enjoy drawing.  This can really help with stress - to just sit down and doodle and color and get carried away with the process of it.

There are a lot more ideas out there if you just think for a moment.  This was just a spring-board to help you get started.  I really do encourage you to get started today.  We have got to get away from the television and our phones for a while.  While working on your hobby, turn on some favorite music, or listen to a book on-line, but mostly focus your attention onto what you are doing. Bring out the creative part that God has put into you.  Have fun!!!!!!

Thank you for stopping by - I appreciate it!  : )

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Chicken Quesadillas

This is a meal that I go to often (at least once a month).  After the initial prep work, it goes together quickly, heats up in the oven for a few minutes and then it's ready to eat (AND very good).  😊  This is good meal for one or twenty because you only make what you need at the time.  Here are the directions:

*First prep everything - like Chinese food, everything really needs to be prepped ahead of time so that it can be made quickly.  The choice of ingredients are really what you like or what you have in the pantry and fridge, but I'll give you what I made as an example.

1.  I usually have flour tortillas on hand because they are so versatile, so I set them out on a baking sheet - you'll need a bottom and top tortilla for this.

2.  I shredded the cheddar cheese - if you can, buy cheese in blocks that you shred yourself instead of buying expensive already shredded cheese.  The pre-shredded cheese has something on it that keeps it from sticking in the package.  Ick.  Shredding your own takes, literally, seconds.

3.  I opened a can of chicken and drained it, then rinsed the excess sodium off - let it drain while prepping more things.  If you prefer fresh chicken instead of canned you will need to bake chicken breasts (however many you need) first and then shred the chicken for this, but I always keep canned chicken on the shelf for this very thing.  Actually it is wise to bake chicken breasts ahead of time and freeze them so you have the meat all ready.

4.  I normally don't put bacon in this, but since I had a few slices that needed eating, I fried the bacon, drained it, and broke it up in pieces.  Thought it would give the quesadillas a yummy change.

5.  Cut up a red and yellow bell pepper into strips and slice one medium onion.  Stir-fry them in the bacon fat until soft and browned.  Browning the peppers and onions give them a wonderful smoky, sweet taste.  Sprinkle some turmeric powder on while stir-frying.  Turmeric is an excellent spice for good health.  I sprinkle it on eggs and fish too.  Now, I'm sure you're thinking - she's talking about being healthy by using bell peppers and onions and turmeric, yet all of this is stir-fried in bacon fat.  Well...........first I buy good bacon (I know-fat is fat), but this bacon has very little fat, it's very lean, so I have to add a little canola oil while frying it - so it's actually the canola oil with a tiny bit of bacon fat that you fry the vegetables in.  Take them out of the pan (draining as much fat as you can) and set aside.

6.  Now comes the assembly - you can do this any way you want!  There is no right way or wrong way.  I guess the only thing I would suggest is that the cheese goes on last so that when it melts, it holds the top tortilla in place while you cut it out of the oven.

Put the top tortilla on and place in a 350-degree oven for about 10-15 minutes or until heated all the way through and the cheese is melted.

I serve them with a dollop of sour cream and a spoon-full of salsa in the middle.  We like to add fresh fruit on the side (tonight was cold watermelon).  And it's a very satisfying meal.  I hope you can try it, and enjoy!!!!!!! 😊

One thing about cooking is that you need to really organize your kitchen.  Have stations in your kitchen - baking, serving, prepping, etc., and then making meals is much more enjoyable.  Have a place for everything - spices in a rack or a special drawer, your knives near the prepping and sink area, mixing spoons by the oven, measuring cups and spoons by the baking area, etc.  This will take time to establish as you use your kitchen.  It takes many meals to figure out what works and what doesn't.  Keep moving things around until you know where everything is and where it all makes sense.  If you see things that just don't get used, don't hesitate in getting rid of them.  Only keep what you use and that will also reduce the stress.  Don't throw up your hands and give up.  The kitchen is one of the most important rooms of your house.  If that room is organized, you'll be okay.  When mealtime rolls around, you won't dread it.  I can't say that cooking is one of my favorite things to do, but we do have to eat, and I do want to keep it as healthy as I can, so this is important to me.

Well, I think that's it for today!  Thanks SO much for dropping by - I appreciate it.  God bless your efforts!!!!! 😁