Sunday, September 29, 2019

Last Sunday in September

Again, another North Shore photo - can you tell we like this area?  : )

As I look back on the week, the one thing that sticks out most is humility.  I have mentioned this in a past post (like I do sometimes) about how opportunities to bless someone goes right over my head at the moment.  And then a couple of hours later I'm convicted as to what I DIDN'T do (or say) and then it's a "slap my forehead" moment and wonder why it's so hard for me to recognize the opportunities right away.

It happened a couple of times this week with my husband - he was very excited and proud about what he accomplished (and it really was a big deal), but because I was thinking of other things and busy with my stuff, I didn't give him the recognition I should have at the time.  When I DID think about it after finally pausing with my own work, I tried to make it right by asking him more questions about it and congratulated him on a job well done.  So, I did try to make it right (he didn't complain or anything like that), but what I'm learning is that I have to put "self" away more often and focus on what others need at the time.  He worked at doing a good job and I looked past it being more interested in my work.  So..............another life lesson.  Less self, more others.   In a past post I had said that my husband isn't very good at giving compliments.  Hmmmmm............I wonder why?

I could say that this was just a little thing but it's not.  Not really.  In our homes we cannot save our best selves for company.  We can't save our best selves for the outside world to see.  We need to try to be our best for those we live with.  Build them up, make them feel special and loved and appreciated.  It's not always easy because those we live with are the ones who can wound us as well and we constantly have to get over one ill feeling when another comes along.  But when we know that we are all imperfect people trying to do the right thing at the right time and sometimes fail at it (but then try to make it right) it's a grace-giving time and that speaks volumes.  So, this is an area that I need to work at and hopefully I can get it right more often.  : )

The second thing (which is TOTALLY different than what I just wrote) is that last evening I was watching a cooking show with Nigella (I hope I'm spelling this correctly).  I believe she is British and I don't watch her program often because I guess I just don't think about it.  But when I do I find I really like her style.  She is very relaxed in her kitchen and while she works she always smiles.  This certain program had her at home on a rainy day and she had said how important it is to slow down on days like that (which we are experiencing here at this time) and that when we go into the kitchen use it as an excuse to take our time with our cooking.

Well she motivated me.  After church this morning, when in the kitchen, I first made a pot of coffee.  And while it brewed and filled the house with that wonderful aroma, I got to work on our Sunday meal.  Slowly.  Cutting things up, working with my hands, cooking everything from scratch in a very relaxing way trying to enjoy everything about it.  My kitchen is small but I had everything I needed.  It was (is) a cloudy day, but our kitchen is bright.  Sipping on my coffee felt special.  

I think we are so determined nowadays to get in, get it done, and on to the next thing.  And with some things I suppose that's a good thing, but it doesn't have to be with everything.  I think we've lost the ability to enjoy the moment.  The doing can be very enjoyable and meaningful.

So, I guess two take-away's from this past week for me are:

*look for ways to bless our loved ones - let them know that you see the work THEY do 
*slow down and cherish the little moments that are given to you - make them special 

I pray that you will have a wonderful upcoming week ahead.  Let the Lord speak to you and learn from it (even if it hurts).  And make the time to be the calming influence in your home.  God bless.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Last Saturday of September

The October picture on our calendar - doesn't this look like Anne (with an "e") of Green Gables?  : )

Well, here we are!  The ending of another month.  This past week I was thinking that in 3 months we will be celebrating Christmas!!!  How can that be?  But it is what it is and we move forward and enjoy the the months as they come (and go!).  : )

I'm sitting here looking out the window at a new sunrise coming up.  The squirrels are already busy and the birds are at the feeders.  We have been cleaning cobwebs off of everything every day, the trees are full of fruit and seedpods - according to all these things, it does seem like the winter is going to be harsh again this year.  We need to use the upcoming month or two to prepare and "squirrel" away provisions to be ready for the "come what may."

I think those of us who live in towns and cities tend to think that it's not a big deal because there are stores so close by that we can just go to in our time of need but that is not necessarily the case sometimes.  There is still a thing called being stranded in our homes until we are plowed out and there are still power outages that can last for quite a while and there is still a possibility of trucks not being able to get to the stores to restock, so even though we can feel relatively secure in our needs being met, there is great wisdom in being prepared for the unthinkable.

Again, make sure your pantry is well-stocked with things that you can't do without - soap to wash clothes, drinking water, toilet paper, food items that are shelf-stable and that you can actually make meals out of.  If the electricity goes out for several days make sure you have a way of washing clothes and hanging them up.  Stock up on batteries for a radio and flashlights.  Have candles available along with lanterns, and matches.  Have a lot of blankets.  If you have pets stock up on litter and food.  Just take the time for a while to go through your daily routine and think and write down everything that you use and/or need on a daily basis and work from there.  

There are so many people who don't take this seriously and I'm not a panic person but we do need to be wise and organized and prepared.  If nothing happens, that's wonderful!  You'll still have all of things around which we need anyway but if something does happen then you won't have to worry about how you're going to get through it.  It's also a great way of being able to support a neighbor as well.

So, I encourage you to begin to think about this and take the time to prepare ahead.  : )

Now, on to the October to-do' (it's a long list, but not everything applies to everyone, so pick and choose what you need to to - also, some of these things won't need to be done until the end of October since this month is pretty mild and we don't put things away until the end):

*clean your lawn mower and garden tools - it's good to put things away clean
*turn off the outdoor water 
*bring those snowshovels out and the snowblower
*replace your furnace filter
*again, keep going through stuff - every closet, every drawer, every shelf, every cupboard
*store your summer clothes someplace else and bring out the Fall/Winter
*make a list of what you need for clothing - coats? boots? new gloves/mittens?
*rake the leaves as needed - either bag, compost, or use as a winter mulch to protect your plants
*clean the gutters -those leaves clog them up - it's good to invest in gutter-guards!
*make emergency kits for the car(s) and house - make sure everything is up-to-date
*stock up on Vitamin C and healthy teas and raw honey for the cold/flu season
*empty the planters of dead/dying flowers/plants - fill them with pretty branches, pumpkins, gourds, grasses for the upcoming Fall months
*winterize what needs to be winterized - water pipes, the lawn mower, the shrubs, etc.
*start making gift baskets or at least plan them out!
*I know this sounds early but think about your Christmas cards - a LOT of people send photo cards so if you do that, take photos of your family for this!
*wash the walls in your home - start Fall/Winter fresh!
*clean your upholstery/shampoo carpet for the upcoming months/holidays
*again, start thinking Christmas and slowly add to your gift pantry little (or big) items that you know you will be giving this year - this takes a lot of stress out out last-minute shopping  : )
*start making/baking for the freezer - a good time saver

There.  That's it.  It's a lot but not everything is for everyone - it gets us thinking about things that could be done now.  Delegate help if you need it.  There is something fun about doing things with others - family or friends can come over and help one day and then another day you can go and help them!  We have turned into such a self-reliant people nowadays - it's become so difficult to ask for help - but people long ago used to always get together and help each other out.'s more fun that way!!!!!  Laugh over things, talk while you work, sit down to a meal together and enjoy the fruits of your labor together.  No one has to be a lone ranger.

Now for the October tea party theme.  October can be a bit fickle - warm one day and downright chilly the next so this is for either in your home or outdoors:

*decorate with pressed leaves, bittersweet branches, lots of apples and a variety of nuts, beautiful mums and marigolds, and LOTS of candles
*serve pumpkin loaves and/or muffins, toffee bars, and ginger spice cake along with strong coffee and cozy teas and/or apple cider
*play Chopin in the background

Beautiful.  : )  Make sure to take LOTS of pictures.  I was thinking about this and how fun it would be to take pictures of each monthly tea party and then make up calendars for everyone - each month would have it's own pictures.  Great memory-making idea!!!!!!  : )

This past week has been exceptionally nice.  Every morning I pray for strength, energy, and motivation for my homekeeping and I really felt the answers - I got SO much done that today, looking back, feels very comforting.  Going by my Household notebook helps me tremendously.  I find that, for me, Mondays through Wednesdays are my busiest days.  Those are the days that I get a lot done.  By Thursday it's lighter and then by Friday it's hardly anything at all except for preparing things for the weekend - Thursdays and Fridays can be those "gift" days of doing special things either out and about or within the home or with someone that happens to be available.

Yesterday I made a batch of my homemade dry laundry detergent:

This literally lasts me a year, so it is well worth it!!!  I use it only for hot-water washes (linens, sheets, rags, etc.).  I usually don't need the cup for measuring out (but I think it looks pretty) because a spoonful or two does the trick.  And it smells really fresh.  I found this old canner at the thrift store for next to nothing and it's perfect to sit on the floor next to the washer.  Here is the "recipe" if you are so inclined to try it (it really is a good thing to have on hand along with your liquid detergent):

4 lb. box of super washing soda
4 lb. box of baking soda
4 lb. box of Borax
3 bars of Zote 

All of which can be found at the grocery store/Walmart, etc.

Just grate the Zote bars, add the rest of the ingredients, and mix thoroughly.  I really think you'll like it.  : )

That's it for this day!  When I first started writing this post, it was still a little on the dark side of the morning - now the sun is up so I had better stop!!!!!  Thank you for dropping by - have a wonderful weekend ahead.  God bless.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Another No-Churn Ice Cream

Storm clouds over our house last evening.  Isn't that awesome?!

I'm still looking for no-churn ice creams as you can tell.  I really like walking past the ice cream aisle at the grocery store and know that I can make something just as yummy without any ingredients that I can't pronounce.  : )

I had 1 pound of strawberries in the fridge that I needed to use so I did some looking around and found this:


2 lb. strawberries, halved (I know......I only had 1 lb. but we still liked it!  But I CAN see how 2 lb. would make it even more fruity!!!!)
1 Tbsp. white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 325 (yes, we're going to partly make the ice cream with the oven).  Put all of your yummy, red, halved strawberries in the middle of a baking tray.  Sprinkle with the sugar and toss all around until coated.  Now spread the strawberries out.  Roast them in your oven for about 45 minutes, rotating the tray half way through.  Toss the strawberries again and bake for another 15 minutes but keep an eye on it - the strawberries get nice and juicy so you don't want that juice to turn into gum.

Remove from the oven and scrape all that wonderful-looking, red, juicy, fragrant strawberry goodness into a food processor.  Process until the strawberries are as smooth as possible.  Let this cool a bit while you whip your cream.

In a standing mixer, whip the cream until stiff peaks form (again, don't overbeat!).  This doesn't take very long.

In another bowl, pour the condensed milk and vanilla in along with your pureed strawberries and beat well  on High until well incorporated and creamy.  Now fold this into your whipped cream and gently fold until it's a uniform color.

Pour this into a freezer-proof container with lid putting a cover of plastic or parchment on top of the ice cream before you put the lid on.  Pop it into the freezer for at least 6 hours or overnight.  Enjoy!!!

***What I have noticed is that ice cream made with fruit forms ice crystals faster than your chocolate or caramel ice creams.  I have also noticed that even though I always take the ice cream out of the freezer and put it into the fridge before serving, fruited ice creams take even longer to soften so you'll have to experiment a little with it.

But we really enjoyed this one even though it wasn't as fruity as it should have been.  Just having that little hint of strawberry was very good.  I'll have to try it with more strawberries the next time around!

I made a black cherry ice cream a few weeks ago and we did not like it so I didn't post that.  It just didn't have any flavor to it and it also made my throat feel funny so I'm now wondering if I have a food sensitivity to cherries?  Anyway, I won't make it again.  But I do hope you try the one above and let me know what you think.  : )

Today is the most lovely of days.  The weather turned around last night after storms in our area (not here though).  The wind shifted to the north and it's nice and cool and the windows are open and the sun is shining.  : )

I'm happily getting my daily to-do list items finished according to my trusty notebook and yesterday I spent quite a bit of time figuring out a few Fall/Winter make-aheads for the freezer.  Just like I did last Spring (which seems like yesterday), I wrote down things that I'd like to have around for cozy meals.  Each shopping trip I'm trying to buy a couple of meat items for the freezer along with pantry ingredients.  I'm stocking up on pumpkin for the muffins and breads.  Buying chicken to cook for meals and then use the bones for stock.  Last week I bought reusable meal-prep containers so that I can cook on the weekend as the holidays get closer and put the food into the containers (meat, grain, vegetable) to cover and just re-heat throughout the week.  Most last 3-4 days in the fridge so it'll be fun to just have everything ready and it would be great to share/give to someone too.  

I just heard that we will have our 3rd annual pumpkin carving party at the beginning of November so I'm REALLY looking forward to that and already planning the particulars.  Something to look forward to!!!!!  : )  There is something SO very nice when you do something for others and they want to do it again.  It really warms my heart.

Well, that is it for this middle of the week.  SO glad you dropped by for a visit.  Now off to get the last thing done on my list before I start to think of our supper.  God bless!!!!  : )

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Sunday Afternoon

A little Autumnal decor.  : )

Well, tomorrow is the 1st day of Autumn.  I love the changing of the seasons.  Around here it doesn't look too much like Fall yet - we've had so much rain that everything is green and blooming still.

The weekend (so far) has been nice.  Friday evening we went over to our son and "daughter"'s house for supper and games.  It's fun to see the life that they are building together taking on the responsibility of fixing up a REAL fixer upper and doing a good job with that!  Sitting together at the table and eating and chatting and sitting at the same table laughing over games.  I SO cherish the family time together and am often sad when the evening is over - (I'm one of those moms who could have her family live under the same roof together).

Yesterday I DID have my crafting day - a couple of paper crafts and a fabric craft (which I'm still working on).  So that was nice.

Today the message at church was so good again - a thought-provoking message from the Bible (which I definitely need for the upcoming week).  

For me it will definitely be "homemaking thoughts and doings" -  getting my lists ready for what should be done and what needs to be done and working towards those goals.   During this time of year I always think of my mother-in-law.  She taught me so much not by words but by the way she did things in her home.  I appreciate homemaking books written by women who love their homes and think it's important enough to write about.  I'm grateful that the Lord put within me a love for homemaking even though there are times when I struggle with feeling whether or not it's important enough.

I have often stressed in other posts the importance of learning and how we all should be learning while we're here at home.  Learn how to cook better, learn how to bake better, learn how to garden, learn how to clean healthier, learn how to get rid of clutter, learn how to organize, learn how to take care of yourselves.........because by learning we grow.  By learning we become interested and interesting and we enjoy our homes rather than getting frustrated with it.  

One thing about my mother-in-law is that she had a way of looking at something and make it pretty.  You would open a kitchen drawer and she made her own dividers covered with pretty wallpaper or something and everything had a place.  I like that.  She was very motivating.

Now with the onset of Autumn I get that motivation again.  Our homes get cozy and homey and inviting.  The soup is on and the casseroles are in the oven.  The bread and the cookies are baking.  The holiday list-making starts to stir in our minds as we write down ideas (whether or not they all come to pass we know it's okay to at least think about it).  The hot chocolate with marshmallows and the hot apple cider fill our cups.  We have books to curl up with.  We have Fall cleaning to accomplish (both inside and out).  It makes me feel like I'm young again like when, as a child, you're looking forward to something.  You know it's important to bring out those traditions that brings family and friends together so you go through all the effort.  It's called LOVE.  Love for home.  Love for family.  Love for friends.   And a homemaker has a very important role to play in all of that.

So, this week, I encourage you to be motivated!  Live the life God has put you in and live it to it's fullest.  Get creative.  Look at everything with fresh eyes.  Write down as many ideas as you can think of to put some fun into your home.  Let the Autumn days bring about a welcome change.  Go back to when you were a child and remember what brought you comfort and joy and try to recreate that in your home.   Was that:

*good smells from kitchen?
*helping others?
*outdoor fun?
*canning and preserving?

Write everything down that you can think of and then begin taking the steps to fulfill those wonderful memories.  It may not be exactly the same and you may not be able to do it all but you'll be amazed at how wonderful it is once you start.  

What special things do you do this time of year?  I'd love to hear about it!!!!  : )

Thank you for the time you've spent with me today.  God bless your week.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Saturday Morning

Sunrise over Lake Superior.

There wasn't a lot of domesticity going on here this past week.  Last Sunday after church, my husband I took off to go up north for a few days to one of our favorite places - the north shore of Minnesota.  We hadn't gone anywhere all year and we were just itching to get out of town so it just worked out and we had such a nice time.  Here it is in pictures:

You'll see lots of foliage photos - I love all the trees, flowers, and bushes.

In a park along the shoreline.

Waking up to a very foggy morning on our first day, but it burned off and we had a beautiful afternoon.

Getting better!  This is right outside of our room - lovely.  

On one of our walks.

Little spots of color amongst the green.

The beginning of Fall beauty.

The perfect afternoon for viewing Split Rock Lighthouse.


I love vegetation growing out of rocks.

Pretty little daisies all around.

Stormy skies.

We must have a thousand pictures of Gooseberry Falls but I always have to take one more!

Another view from our room.

Woke up to really thick fog the next morning too so I never expected it to go away in time to see this gorgeous sunrise.  : )  Amazing.

Before a day of heavy rain set in we were able to view this freighter come in.

Getting closer to it's destination.

Almost there.

Made it. 

After a whole day of rain it cleared up towards evening so we had a chance to go out again and do some walking after resting and relaxing.  The fresh smell was wonderful.

We are always amazed at how just 2 1/2 days of getting away is just what we need.  It doesn't have to  be a long stretch of time in order to feel rejuvenated.  We left on a Sunday and returned on Wednesday and it really was just right.  We walked a lot.  Climbed rocks.  Sat on driftwood.  Looked for special rocks.  Took pictures.  Ate lunches by tailgating.  Saw beauty.  Smelled the clean, fresh air.  Soaked in the sun.   So grateful to the Lord for this time away.  : )

Upon arriving home, though, we quickly get back into the swing of things - laundry has to be done, the grocery list has to be made, shopping needs to be done, the yard needs to be mowed.............but that IS home ownership and I'm grateful for that too.

It has been unseasonably warm (hot and humid) around here and today looks like it will be rainy so I'm actually looking forward to a day of crafting and sewing.  I have craft ideas to try out and a dress that is almost done and a rainy day is perfect for that kind of thing.

Well, I think that is about it for today!  Thank you SO much for dropping by again for a visit - I appreciate it when you do.  God bless.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Taking the Autumn Box Out

The Autumn Box of goodies just waiting to be decorated with.  : )

We've all heard of comfort food - well, seasonal decorating is my comfort too.  There is something so satisfying about pulling a box of decorations out and giving myself the challenge of arranging this "mess" into something pretty.  For me, it takes a whole morning to do this because I put something somewhere and then change it around to someplace else and then maybe change it again until I'm okay with it.  I love it though and it is, indeed, comforting.  It feels old-fashioned and cozy and homey.  I just couldn't wait any longer!  : )  

I wish I had more photos to show you, but the photos I did take mostly turned out too dark so I'll only show a couple:

By the front door - pretty simple.  The cute little guy in the photo is my husband (little Eddie).  : )

Again, very simple.

I'll have to try to take more photos - not that my decorations were anything close to inspired or magnificent, I think it's fun to look into someone's home and see what they do.  If you have any seasonal decorations that you would like to share, I'd love to see them!!!  : )

In caring for what our homes look like, I encourage you (once again) to go outside and look at your home with eyes for details.  I posted briefly about this before, but it came to mind again while my husband and I were out driving around.  We like to go through neighborhoods to see how others take care of their homes or decorate or garden ideas.  And I noticed that a few people don't realize that how they decorate inside makes a difference as to how it looks outside.

For instance, while driving by a house that had a beautiful bay window, I noticed that they had a lot of picture frames lined up on a table in front of the window.  The pictures probably look very nice when you're sitting inside but all I could see was the backs of all these frames (which aren't pretty) and the store labels were still on.  Now I know this sounds very nit-picky but I think curb appeal in a home is important - what people see when they drive by - what captures their attention.  What may have helped is for some light-weight curtains to conceal the backs of the pictures?

Another thing I notice quite often is off-kilter mini-blinds.  Some of them are so off - way down on one side, and up on the other side - on an angle instead of pulled straight across.  Just looking at things like this can really help the beauty of your home because none of us have to live in fancy houses with perfect landscaping.  Just looking around to see what might be "off" and keeping things neat and tidy goes a long way!  

If I sound a little OCD on this, I never mean to sound offensive or act like a perfectionist - I just know that we would all feel a little better about our own environments if we just took the time to care about the little things because the little things add up to the big things.  If you drove past our house, you would see bushes that need to be shaped and a walkway that needs to be replaced, so I get it!  : )

We have been getting SO much rain lately that time has been spent indoors.  Yesterday was a huge project of getting things out of a certain area downstairs to make into my husband's "office" area.  I was able to go through (and get rid of) a lot of things once again.  One of my favorite things to do!!

Right now looks sunshine-y so we'll need to go outdoors and clean up the yard - lots of leaves and branches fell from the wind and rain.  Also a good morning for a walk!!  : )

That's about it for today.  Thank you so much for dropping by.  If you can (or want to), please let me know what you do to prepare for Autumn.  : )  God bless.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

September 11th

I think September 11th will always be on our minds in America and even across the globe as people watched in horror at what was done.  May we, on this day, remember the families and friends of those who died.  May we remember those who saw what no one should ever have to see while experiencing it all right in front of them.  The first responders, the doctors, the nurses, the firefighters, the police.  It will be forever in their minds.  

It changed everything.

We NEED to pray:

*for a national revival
*for protection from terrorism
*for our president
*for national morality
*for racial harmony
*for national patriotism
*for safety of our nation
*for protection for the body of Christ
*for peace
*for the strengthening of the family unit
*for repentance

God is waiting for us to fervently pray these things for our country.  We are STILL the United States of America but we need to come humbly before The One who gave this country to us.  Let us offer up prayers not only today but each day for God's protection and continued mercy on us.

Let us not be forgetful.


Sunday, September 8, 2019

Sunday Afternoon

Isn't that THE most beautiful shade of blue?!

I guess this homemaker's thoughts from the past week have been on how God lets us go (and grow) through things in our lives, but then at the right time gives us strength and courage to move on.  Over 25 years ago, I went to Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) and that is where I came to know, trust, and give my life to Jesus.  A note here - if you can find a BSF group in your community, I highly recommend it - it is a LOT of work, but getting to know your Bible better is worth the work.  Or, maybe you can contact someone to see if a group can begin in your church.

I came to this Bible study because I KNEW I had changes to make and while there a verse jumped out at me from the Book of Joel:

"I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.........".  Joel 2:25  I knew God was speaking to my heart.  In that even though I had wasted SO many years of my life up until then, He was going to give those years back to me and renew my life.  And He did.  Again, I have to say that it wasn't perfect or all sunny days, but I knew I could trust Him.

Over the years, during the ups and downs of life, God continued to bring that verse to mind as a reminder that that promise YEARS ago, is still one that I can hold on to today.  The past three to four years have been some of the saddest, difficult, and challenging years and this past week God brought Joel 2:25 to me once again.  He will restore these past three to four years that have been eaten up from relationships gone bad, from distrust, from doubt, from anger, from fear.  I have said before in past posts that this time of our lives we can truly feel God at work in us and He really is restoring us through our new church family (3 years now!), new friendships, new responsibilities, new interests, etc. and it's exciting to wonder at how God will use us and renew us and refresh us so that we can say goodbye to the past and move ahead in where He wants us to be.  

So, with all that said, I'm going to definitely give God the glory!!!!!  It's only through Him that we can feel our lives getting back to some kind of normal and truly love the people He is bringing into our lives when we need them the most.  Alistair Begg had a great message on how we deal with our past - even though we have dealt with the past, have been forgiven of the past, we often open that past box with all that rotten stuff in it, peak inside once again to remind ourselves of how rotten things were, and then we're right back in the "woe is me" state of mind.  (This is my summary of his message).  And that is so true of me.  I push the replay button WAY too many times when I just need to leave it all to Jesus.  

The past week has been one of the best weeks I've had in a LONG time - my husband has felt it as well and we agree that we feel like things are finally turning around after the grief.  And it's not like we had this huge revelation, or all our problems were gone, or there weren't still some concerns - but we have truly felt God's hand of mercy and grace upon us and now we are ready for the next step in our life wherever God leads.

So, He is indeed repaying us for the years that the locusts have eaten and I continue to claim that verse in my life.  Thanks be to God!!!!!  : )

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Saturday Morning

Star-gazing again last night with fire night - the clouds kept coming and going so I couldn't help trying to take a photo of the beautiful moon and all the clouds around it.  I love looking through the telescope - all those dark areas and craters on the moon are so fascinating.  To look at what God created in the night sky for us is always amazing to me.  : )

Well, today it's all about food.  My husband doesn't give out compliments very often, but yesterday it was as if his eyes were opened as to what I actually do in the kitchen!!!  LOL  First, early in the morning yesterday I put all the ingredients for bread dough into the bread machine and had that going while I sat sewing on my dress.  When the bread dough was finished I took out it and put it into a bread pan for the second rise and continued sewing.  I then went back into the kitchen, put the bread into the oven to bake as I cut up the ingredients for homemade chicken soup and had that simmering while I went back to my dress.  When I could smell that the bread was baked I took that out to cool and then brought out of the freezer the ice cream I made the night before so it could soften a bit for our dessert.

So............when he sat at the table he actually said out loud that not only was I sewing my own clothes, but I made ice cream, bread, and soup from scratch!  He said he was impressed.  : )  I didn't say anything, but I kind of wanted to say "you've just begun to notice this"?  LOL!  But it WAS a compliment and I have to admit that I basked in it all day.  : )  A homemaker needs to hear a compliment now and then just to hear that someone notices what she does all day.  It's very much a motivator to keep going.

I don't know about you, but now that cooler weather is here and the feel of Fall is in the air, it's all about pumpkin with me.  From now until Thanksgiving I LOVE pumpkin and then after that I kind of drop it.  But I've been bringing out my favorite pumpkin recipes for muffins and bread and pie and I just found a pumpkin baked donut recipe along with a pumpkin coffee creamer.  So I think I'm ready!

The other day as I was going through things in the pantry, I noticed a bag of pecans that should be eaten up before the expiration date, so at the beginning of the week I baked a pecan pie (a very favorite for me).  I usually make my own pie crusts but I've also learned to have a box of ready-made crusts available in the freezer for those times where you just want to whip something up quickly.  So, a two-fold lesson in this was:

*go through your pantry and read the expiration dates and find ways to use them up
*have a few "convenience" items around so that you CAN use them up

The pie was SO good but I always forget how rich pecan pie is!  A little does go a long way - keeping it refrigerated all week helped us to have just a little slice with our meals.  : )

The ice cream I made the other evening was another no-churn and I know I say this about all of these flavors, but oh my goodness, it was good.  : )  Here is the recipe for you:


2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla 
caramel sauce (optional)
sea salt (optional)

Stir together the milk, cocoa powder, and vanilla in a medium bowl.  Set aside.
In the bowl of your mixer, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form (do not overbeat).
Fold in the milk mixture to the whipped cream and mix until all is incorporated.
Pour half of this into a 2-qt. freezer container and then drizzle some caramel topping on top of this - pour the last half of the ice cream on top and drizzle a little more caramel on top with a little sprinkling of sea salt on top of that.  Freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight.  Again, before serving, I take it out of the freezer for a little while to soften it a bit.  Really very good.  : )  Hope you can try it!

One of the things that I love to do is read about nutrition.  I like learning about what foods should be paired up for optimal nutrition and how to make as much as we can from scratch so that we don't continually put into our bodies all that other stuff we don't need.   When sitting down and writing out our menus every week, I try to go by what I read a long time ago:

*salmon once a week (whether that be a filet or canned)
*eggs once a week (I love the versatile egg!)
*pasta with a good tomato sauce twice a week (including garlic and onions in the sauce)
*halibut or tuna once a week (again, canned tuna is fine)
*white chicken meat once a week (SO many ways to make chicken)
*shrimp once a week (we enjoy the peel n' eat shrimp - it makes for a fun meal)
*pork once in a while (I have it twice a month in either roast or chop form)
*red meat once in a while (that includes a roast or hamburger in some form)

From this list, I go through the recipes I've already collected over the years which are family favorites, and then I also make sure that I'm finding new recipes to try in order to keep it a bit fun.  We very rarely go out to eat anymore - we have been so disappointed in the food that I just keep track of what we tend to order when we do go out and try to replicate it at home so we don't feel like we're missing out on anything.  And what can be better than to enjoy good food in the comfort of your own home!!!!  : )

The above list may sound expensive (seafood, red meat, chicken breasts), but I think we tend to overbuy and overeat so the secret to menu planning is to not keep the meat/seafood as the main thing.  Build your meals around the fruits/vegetables.  I try to keep in my mind what the plate will look like when serving up.  It should have a good portion of healthy, colorful vegetables first, a smaller portion of the starches (pasta, rice, potato, bread), and then the meat portion would be the smallest.  And be sure to include fresh fruit with your meals.  You will be begin to see that you don't need to buy a lot of meat to round out the meals - so a small salmon fillet could feed 4 for around $10.00.  Eggs are always a good buy (even at organic prices).  And pasta!  Now THAT is a frugal meal!  Make your sauce with canned tomato sauce and inexpensive garlic and onions, serve with homemade bread and a salad - really good.  The halibut and/or tuna is like the salmon - it may look expensive at first - but you don't need huge portions.  And so on...........................

I hope you can really think through your meals while planning.  Keep them healthy first.  Have fun with planning - it may take a while, but that's okay.  If you have family favorites, keep cooking those but re-think portion sizes.  Keep looking for new recipes - they may become new family favorites.

With the on-set of cooler weather I know that my mind automatically thinks soups and casseroles and all good things slowly cooking in the oven, so I consider this fun and a wonderful opportunity to take charge of your own nutrition.  I hope you do too!!!!

Thank you for dropping by for a moment in your busy day - I do appreciate all of you.  : )  God bless.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Forgotten Fondue

My one and only fondue cookbook - I've had it for over 20 years and love it.

I may have presumed to think that fondue is forgotten, but I don't know of anyone who fondues anymore.  It wasn't until I was married that I even knew about fondue!  My mother-in-law is the one who offered it a couple of times and then after that I made sure that we did it here at home.  When our son was little it was a favorite for him.

The reason I bring this up now is that on Labor Day my husband and I decided to fondue again (well, I wrote it into my menu plan and we shopped for the ingredients last week).  It's a meal that you really should share with other people but we were both hungry for it and we missed it so we thought we would just treat ourselves.  : )

It's a fun meal that I think everyone should at least try.  We all know of the cheese fondue that you serve with melty cheese and dunk bread into it (we haven't done that yet).  But this fondue is with hot oil and you fry your own meat which makes it wonderful for a party because that way everyone can cook the meat to their liking - rare, medium, or well.

I will admit that fondue is a fussy meal and a messy meal so maybe that's why it's not done very often?  But, like everything else, if you can look past the fuss and mess and just enjoy the whole process it truly is a very festive thing to do.  Here are my pointers (and pictures):

*First - the messy part.  Whenever we plan a fondue, it needs to be outdoors so it needs to be done during the months of good weather (Spring, Summer, but Fall is best!).  We tried to fondue indoors once and we said "never again."  Your whole house will smell like fondue for quite a few days no matter how good the ventilation.  And, it's frying meat in hot oil and the oil will splatter which means that the tablecloth (which should be one you can either throw or wash off) will be greasy.  So, keep it outdoors.

What is fun for us is that we have a screen tent that we use for camping so we always set that up in the backyard (it's one that is enclosed and you zip up the sides to keep out the bugs and if it's a rainy  day/evening it's actually fun to be sitting enclosed with the rain coming down).  

I would recommend having a fondue party in the late afternoon/evening because of the ambiance.  Outdoors you can hang lights up, or have lots of candles set out and about, or if you have a fire pit have that going.  It really does make it special.  

*Next, the food.  We already have our next fondue planned for next month and I will explain later, but for most of our fondues we do:

Top sirloin steak cut into good-size chunks (recipe to follow)
Breaded shrimp on the side (I buy these in the frozen fish aisle and bake them in the oven beforehand and bring them out hot)
Onion rings/strings to cook in the hot oil along with the meat (recipe to follow)
Fresh Fruit
A variety of relishes (we do sweet and dill pickles, and black and green olives)
A variety of sauces (we do steak sauce, ketchup, ranch dressing, cocktail sauce)

As you can see, having all these things set out in dishes so that everyone can choose/do their own is a lot of fun.  But, it is quite a bit of prep work but I think that's part of the fun.  If you just keep your mind on your guests and how much they will enjoy all of this, I will be worth it!!!!  Hospitality is such a wonderful thing and your family/friends will have fun with this.  

The other thing we like about fondues is that it's a meal that takes a long time.  You linger.  You converse while things are cooking.  There is so much to choose from that it seems very indulgent and pampering.  Of course it's NOT budget friendly, but to splurge once in a while is okay.  Really.  Maybe this can be a once a year gathering that everyone will look forward to and you can save up for it!  Or, maybe it can be a time where everyone splits the food - someone can bring all the relishes, someone can bring the sauces, someone can bring the fresh fruit, someone could bring the salad - but the hostess should be the one to provide the meat, and as for the other things, I would also do the onion rings.  But whatever works for you and whatever food you want to have and how many guests you have would determine all that.  

*And, the equipment.  We've had our fondue pots (we have two) since we've had the above cookbook!  You will need a fondue pot or two (I highly recommend two especially for a party - one can be at one end of the table, the other at the other end so that everyone can reach).  You will need fondue forks - the more the better - but each person will want to have 2 at least.  You will need oil - we just use vegetable oil and each pot needs to be filled halfway up.  You will need extension cords - the fondue pot comes with an electric cord but it's very short so you will need to have the extension cords to plug the pot in and then to plug it all into a main circuit.  That's about it!!!!  Everything else is like other parties - silverware, napkins, plates, drinking glasses.

So here are the ways that I do the meat and the onion rings:

Fondue meat - cut the top sirloin into good-sized chunks and put them into a plastic bag.  Pour some olive oil over them, slice an onion and put that in, add some lemon pepper seasoning, close up the bag and massage the bag until all is covered and refrigerate (this can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours before serving).  When ready to serve, drain the meat and put into a serving bowl (or bowls depending how many you're serving).  The amount of meat is up to you but I bought a small top sirloin steak and my husband and I had leftovers so you might think you need a lot but with everything else you'll be serving you'll be surprised at how quickly you fill up!!!

Onion rings/strings - I use Vidalia onions for this - just slice them (I like thin slices) and put them into a bowl and cover them with milk.  Let them soak for about 3 hours; drain.  Put some flour mixed with some seasoning salt into a plastic bag and add the onions.  Shake the bag until the onions are well coated.  Put these into bowls for everyone to cook on their own (that's why providing lots of fondue forks is fun - cook meat with a fork and the onions with another).

I'm hoping I covered it all!  And I hope you can try it.  It really is a fun and special way to entertain because it's something different and unexpected.  I should have taken photos of all the steps and how it looked outdoors, but here are a few that I did remember to take:

the marinated meat

the floured onion rings

the coleslaw

the breaded shrimp

our fresh fruit

all the extras before putting them into little bowls for serving - a Lazy Susan is PERFECT for these!

I know I had mentioned earlier that we already have our next one planned.  What we've done in the past is offer red meat AND marinated chicken but that was just WAY too much.  So I'd suggest doing just red meat for one fondue party and then just chicken at the next (which is what we're doing next month).  The chicken is called Korean chicken and the marinade is beyond good!  When we get around to doing that, I will post that as well.  : )

But for now, I think that's just about it for tonight.  I hope I've whetted your appetite to try something like this and bring the fondue party back!  You will find the whole thing to be a wonderful, meaningful time (except maybe for the clean-up but you can handle it - LOL).  : )

Take care, God bless, and thanks for stopping by!!!!!!!

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Sunday Evening

This photo was from last month - they're all done blooming now.  : (

The flowers are slowly fading now as we get closer to the Autumn months.   Lots of things looking quite spindly.  I need to pot the lavender and rosemary to bring into the house and I cut a lot of basil to root so that I can stick them into pots as well.  I have a HUGE geranium that I HAVE to figure out where I can winter it because it's way to full and beautiful to just let it die down.  I need to make new notes in my garden journal because there are quite a few things that didn't work this year and there are a lot of things I need to split and re-plant in the Spring and if I don't write it all down I know I will forget.

But that's the joy of homemaking isn't it?  To me it's never stagnant.  Beginning yesterday afternoon, I'm bringing my sewing/craft area up to the little bedroom upstairs.  I have the perfect little corner for it and my husband is very surprised at how I'm making it work.  It has forced me to go through things again and organize them.  I tried having this sewing/craft area downstairs for a couple of years now and I found that I just didn't like it.  I felt TOO away from everything.  Having just a basement window to look out of isn't pleasant (especially in the winter when it gets covered by snow anyway).  Upstairs I have windows all around so it's brighter and more motivating.  It ALWAYS amazes me how much room we think we need when we really don't and each time it brings more contentment rather than feeling like I'm missing out on something or don't have enough.  What a blessing.  : )

It's been a good day today.  Such a good sermon at church - the kind that makes you really think (the truth of God's word does that - or it should).  I'm constantly amazed how the Lord provides - a timely sermon, gathering with friends when we need the fellowship, a meaningful e-mail asking me to do something that I love to do, a good book to read that hits me right between the eyes (in a good way).  None of these things were by chance - when you walk with the Lord, He provides.  There is no more wonderful feeling as that.

I feel that lately the Lord is teaching me through some challenging things.  I've always loved the saying "Obedience precedes blessing" and during this difficult pruning process (which hurts) I'm learning that if I can get through it and stay focused on Christ, He truly does bless.   And it is true that God provides you with what you need TO get through it!  There might be days, weeks, months where you feel alone and that God isn't hearing your prayers.  But be assured that He is.  Sometimes the silence IS the answer.  It's not that He's not there anymore, He just wants you to see that we should lean into Him for what we need and stop trying to find it in other places or people.

When I've gotten through one thing, I find that there follows a time of peace and refreshment again.  A moving on and moving ahead.  It's not to say that the life lessons are done, but it's that He gives us just a little more strength to do the next thing.  And when that next thing is over, a time of testing comes again to prepare us for what's next - and so on.  Just like homemaking is not stagnant for me, my spiritual walk is never stagnant.  And that's a good thing.  We just can't be the same person we were - whether that's last year or last month!  It would be a terrible thing if we couldn't get out of our high school years when we're already 60 years old.  There should be some maturity and change taking place.

So, I encourage you this week to listen to the lessons the Lord is trying to teach.  He is our Heavenly Father and sometimes the lessons can be difficult, but hang in there.  He's loves us SO much that He doesn't want us to stay stagnant.  He wants us to be vibrant Christians who are willing to learn and grow and then do something meaningful.  Whether that's taking care of your family and your home, or volunteering, or doing charitable work, or giving your service within your church - He will give you what you need to carry it out.  : )

Have a good Labor Day tomorrow!!!!