Tuesday, November 26, 2019


From our home to yours.  : )

I have a moment now to drop in to say "HAPPY THANKSGIVING" to you all.  I will be in the kitchen tomorrow and I will not be posting for the rest of the week - taking a little break to catch my breath and begin the Christmas season by bringing forth the decorations (as my husband is finishing up the outdoor decorations of the house as I type!).  

I do hope that you will enjoy your family and/or friends this Thanksgiving.  Enjoy this season of abundance.  Take time to enjoy all the food.  Laugh together.  Count your many blessings!  God bless.   See you later!  : )

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Always Lessons To Be Learned From Scripture

Aren't Cattails cool?  : )

When I read the Bible it amazes me how a small passage can be packed with life lessons.  This morning I was reading from the Book of Luke, Chapter 22, verses 1 - 6.  It is titled "Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus".  It seems odd that I'm about to come to the crucifixion of Jesus when we are about to begin the season of the birth of Jesus but it's just where I am in my Bible reading right now.

In this small passage we see the chief priests and the teachers of the law looking for ways to get rid of Jesus.  Now let's stop here.  "Men of God" wanting to KILL Jesus?  Here are men who knows the Old Testament, knows the Ten Commandments (and one of the Ten Commandments is "thou shalt not kill"), teaches others to uphold these teachings and commandments and are now plotting, in secret, to kill Jesus.  The life lesson here is that NOTHING is "done is secret" from God.  NO THING.  He knows absolutely everything.  He's sees absolutely everything.  There is not one idea, scheme, plan, thought, etc. that He doesn't know about.  A lot of people do things under the cover of darkness thinking that if man can't see them they'll get away with it.  But God sees it and He is the only one that counts.

This passage also says they were afraid of the people.  Their reputation was at stake.  They wanted to be seen as upright men.  Men who were wise and were looked up to to do the right thing.  Another life lesson.  A lot of people are more concerned about what other people think of them rather than what God thinks of them.  Again, it's what's God's opinion of them that counts.

The next thing we read is that "Satan entered Judas" - there are so many people who do not believe that evil exists (which I don't understand at all if they look around and see what's happening in this world).  Our days are battlegrounds for good versus evil.  It's a spiritual battleground for our hearts and souls and minds.  And we need to be reminded daily to pray "lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil".  Pray that God would fight for us.  Pray that He would walk ahead of us and pull out those landmines of temptations lest we destroy ourselves.  We need to pray for our family and friends in this way.  Judas sold his soul for a few lousy coins and this passage says "they were delighted".   Evil delights when we mess up.

There is a reason that the Gospel is called the "Good News" though.  It teaches us these life lessons so that we learn from them!  There isn't one of us who hasn't messed up at some point in our lives.  And it doesn't do any good to point fingers and say that we weren't as bad as so and so because sin is sin - and we are all sinners and we all sin.  But, for the Grace of God, we repent of that sin and turn from our ways and salvation through Jesus comes to us and changes our lives.  Those sins are as far as the east is from the west and we are made new.  

So, remember that nothing is hidden from God and He is just a prayer away.  : )

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Let The Work Begin!

We love our birds!!!  So fun to have them right outside the window.  : )

The house is chilly this morning, the sky is crystal clear and we're in for a very nice day (42 degrees for the high!) and that's why I've titled this post "let the work begin".   For us, Thanksgiving week is the beginning of the holidays and there is much work to be done - inside and out.

Because the weather is going to be mild (mild for us northerners) we will be spending a good part of the day putting some Christmas things up.  Some may think that it's too soon but there are a lot of people who have had their decorations up a couple of weeks ago already.  I used to think it was too soon but around here we really do have to use these warmers temps to do this kind of work.  My husband has spent TOO many Decembers in the freezing cold putting up lights and decorations so we know from the past that if we don't do it now, it's just too cold.

Some may think that we don't HAVE to decorate but it's fun for us to have a "Holiday House" so to speak.  It brings some brightness and fun to the neighborhood and gives the feeling of celebration.  We used to go all out - the whole house outlined in lights, the trees, the bushes, the fence, all the light-up decorations, etc., but this year we plan to keep it somewhat simpler (mostly because my husband is feeling his age and just can't do all the work anymore plus we got new gutters and gutter guards this year and it's difficult now to hang the lights).  But I have a plan in mind and hopefully we can get it all done today.  : )

And then as stated in my last post, the Thanksgiving preparations begin - putting the house in order as far as cleanliness, order, and party ready.  : )  I really do get a burst of energy and motivation in thinking about all of these things.

One thing about this time of year is how we can all "think forward" to the different times that we'll be having friends and family in our home and what that will look like.  What can you do to prepare now so you aren't stressed later?  How will you be entertaining?  Do you have enough chairs to accommodate?  Do you need to move things around (my favorite part - LOL) for people to sit and be comfortable?  Where will you put the tree?  How will you serve the food?  This is another favorite part for me.  I love thinking about all of these things.  Again, we have a small house so I have to make sure that we know what we're going to be doing.

Going through all your serving dishes, flatware, napkins, etc., now will mean that you are ready later.  One thing that I don't do until after the holidays are over is deep clean.  I know that sounds strange but I just clean as I normally would - dust, vacuum, mop floors, etc.  And the reason is that there is enough going on in the next month or so and that people will be coming in and out, the decorations are up and hard to clean around that just keeping up with the daily cleaning is enough for me!   And, really, for most of us who keep up with the daily cleaning won't have unpresentable houses anyway.  Your company is there to relax and have fun and eat good food - they aren't going to look around to see if you've deep-cleaned.  So, I'm encouraging you to relax as well.  Enjoy the wonderful people in your life and enjoy!  Because when January comes and all the decorations are put away - watch out!  Let the REAL cleaning begin!!!!!!  LOL  : )

And in keeping with the importance of learning and reading, I've been reading "Middlemarch" by George Eliot:

Love the old classics!

I've read Silas Marner, Adam Bede, and now this one by her and I'm enjoying this book very much.  Again, I encourage you to read.  Read these old classics because they make you think.  They have good morals and they increase your vocabulary!  Here are a few words that I've yet to look up:

.............and those are just a few!  This was literature that high school students used to have to read a long time ago.  When I was in high school in the 70's we didn't even come close to having our minds stretched like this.  It's really sad when I think back to it.  All the things we WEREN'T taught.

I like to write quotes down too from the books that I read and here are two that I want to share before I end this post:

"We mortals, men and women, devour many a disappointment between breakfast and dinnertime; keep back the tears and look a little pale about the lips, and in answer to enquiries say, "Oh, nothing!"  Pride helps us; and pride is not a bad thing when it only urges us to hide our own hurts - not to hurt others."

"The Vincy's (a family in this book) had the readiness to enjoy, the rejection of all anxiety, and the belief in life as a merry lot, which made a house exceptional........"

It's the last quote that I encourage you - to make our homes exceptional - to enjoy the things we have, and the people that come in, to reject anxiety by keeping the worldly stuff out, and be merry!  

God bless you as you build up your home and take care of it.  Thank you for stopping by and visiting with me - I appreciate all of you!!!!  : )

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Planning and Preparing

The finished puzzle my husband was working on - it is now in the living room as a decorative way to usher in Thanksgiving!  : )

It was raining overnight (or, I should say, early this morning) and it has changed over to snow (only sticking to the roofs so far).  I really do get more motivated at this time of year.  I love the seasonal changes.  We keep clearing away what is left of the leaves, but we have a "dirty" tree in our front yard that has literally hundreds of long seed pods that fall all over the yard and our roof.  The squirrels love them and it's fun to watch them hold the pods in their little hands like they're playing the harmonica or something and then they flip it over to get to the other side.  Our tree has never been so full of pods and that is why I think we will have another winter of deep snow.  So keep your pantries full, your cars in good condition, and enjoy the season!!!  : )

I know this is unusual to blog on a Thursday, but I wanted to keep in touch.  So far it's been a good week and like the title of this post says - I'm planning and preparing.  Getting ready for our gathering for Thanksgiving even though it's a small group of us is both fun and enjoyable for me.  I love writing ideas down and then seeing how I can incorporate them. I begin writing them in hand-written notes and then I type them out because it just looks tidier and more organized, leaving room to write notes off to the side.  

I begin by writing out the week's menu and this time I wrote out my Thanksgiving menu and EVERYTHING that needs to be done and when.  I then write out what needs to be bought yet next week - things like fresh fruit and vegetables.  Lastly, I wrote ideas down on what we can do after we eat.  I am SO not the kind of person who likes to just sit around and talk - in our home we either have to play games or do a craft project!!!  I remember one year at my in-laws when our son was really young yet and they decided to plug in a movie to watch after we ate.  It wasn't but a half hour later that everyone was asleep except for our son and me!  After that I was determined that we're going to stay a little more on the active side.  LOL  : )

My menu for Thanksgiving is VERY traditional (because that's just me) but I will share it with you anyway.  : )   I make EVERYTHING before Thanksgiving day except for the green beans which is quick and easy to pull together - other than that everything is done and just re-heated and it's just as good.

*Turkey (with a small group I put a turkey breast into the crockpot on Wednesday, slice it, put it into a roasting pan with all the juices and pop it into the oven to heat up on Thanksgiving - that way you still have that turkey smell in the house!)
*Dressing - this is another item that I make in the crockpot the day before.  When it's done, I put it into a casserole and reheat it along with the turkey.  Because I don't have a lot of room to dry my bread, I'm one of those who opts to buy that bag of dried, cubed, bread at the store!
*Mashed potatoes - we really like the make-ahead potatoes that have sour cream in it (a casserole of mashed potatoes) so, again, I make this the day before and into the oven it goes with the turkey and dressing to reheat!
*Gravy - this is also something I make the day before because all I do is make a roux, add the turkey broth and seasonings and then juices from the already cooked turkey.  Reheat on top of the stove when ready!
*Cranberry sauce - I make this a couple of days in advance.  No canned sauce for me - I need the real thing - chunks of cranberries.  : )
*Green beans - this is made right before serving.  Just blanching the beans first, put them into an ice bath, melt butter in a skillet, add minced shallots, the beans, salt and pepper and saute.  So good.  : )
*Dinner rolls - I found another bread machine dough especially for dinner rolls so I will make these the day before as well and just reheat before serving.  Serve with REAL butter!!!!!!
*Beverages - we just serve water and/or milk

This year I'm going to try something new - an appetizer board.  I guess these "boards" are how people are entertaining now and I love the idea.  I bought a new board so that I can entertain in this way.  They have boards for brunches, appetizers, desserts, etc., so this year I'm going to try an appetizer board because we won't eat for a while after everyone gets here.  So on to this board goes:

*A baked brie with figs and fig jam
*Crackers and toasted sourdough bread
*A variety of regular olives and stuffed olives
*A variety of regular dill pickles and sweet pickles
*Mounds of red grapes
*Sparkling cider

I'm envisioning this in my head and I think it will look pretty.  : )

As for what to do afterwards we will either:

*Play games, or.......
*The craft project to work on will be treats for the birds - we'll be stringing cranberries, popcorn, and Cheerios as a garland to hang on the outdoor tree.  And we will also put peanut butter on pinecones and sprinkle them with birdseed, attach a string and then hang those as well.  If time permits, we'll melt suet and add birdseed to that and fill our cookie cutters with this mixture to hang those up too!  I'll provide boxes to put them in for their houses - these can all be frozen until ready to put up.

So, we'll see what we feel like doing but at least there are options!!!!!!!!!!!!

Since the day is filled with food, I'm foregoing any pie this year but I do like to offer some kind of dessert with coffee later so I'm going for the no-churn Pumpkin Spice ice cream.  This is SO good and we'll still feel like we got a little pumpkin in the deal!!!  Here is the recipe if you'd like to try it yourself:


14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
2 cups heavy cream

In mixing bowl, combine pumpkin with all the spices (I mixed the spices together first so there aren't clumps of any one spice) and then add the milk and vanilla and mix thoroughly (I do this with a mixer).  Set aside.

In another mixing bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form and then add the pumpkin mixture and fold in carefully.

Pour into a freezer-proof pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and then foil and freeze for at least 6 hours (I always do mine the day before using).  Enjoy!!!!!!

This will go great with a cup of coffee.

That's it!!!  My Thanksgiving menu and craft ideas.  Now I've got to get to the day ahead!  God bless you as you plan and prepare for your holiday.  

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Finding The Joy in a World Gone Awry

Nothing but silhouettes of trees against the skies - but don't you love the colors of the sunsets?

I always find it sad when the bad stuff of this world gets all the attention.  And I think we all agree - there's a LOT of bad stuff (and that's an understatement!).  We're bombarded daily with it all.  Just a trip to the store I see far more than I ever wanted to on that given day.  I try to do my part in keeping some semblance of decency while outside the home but it truly feels like I'm a tiny drop of water in an ocean of strangeness.  It feels like we're living in some science fiction futuristic movie where the people are all just unreal.  It feels a little like the Twilight Zone where nothing makes sense.  It can feel overwhelming with what we see and what we hear.  I'll ask it again - when in the world did this all happen?  The dress, the attitudes, the words, the boldness, the rudeness, the complacency, the vulgarity, the morals........

For those of us who care about what this is doing to us, to our families, to our neighbors, to our friends, we need to have within us the need to find what is still okay, what is still good, what is still beautiful.  We all need hope for the future and first that hope is in Jesus.  From there we go on looking for things that we can count it all joy.  Here are a few of my joy finds:

*a new baby - we have a LOT of them at church right now and every time I see one, my heart melts.  They are complete joy - what a miracle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
*praise and worship songs - I absolutely cannot be still while singing praise and worship songs - they bring such joy to my soul and my whole being feels it.
*friendships - the old and the new - people to talk to, to care about you, and for you to care about brings about a joy that warms the heart.
*family - I know.  Families are difficult.  But there are certain members of family that bring great joy to us and we are so grateful that they are in our lives.
*work - getting up in the morning knowing that you are making a difference, being busy and productive gives us joy and satisfaction.
*good books - we can choose books that delight us and take us to a different time and place where we meet people with good morals and standards for living and is a joy to pick it up every day and get away for a while.
*What are your joys in life?  What is it that you can concentrate on when life makes you feel like there is no such thing as joy anymore?  What can you do for others that will make their lives better and help them to remember that there really is a thing called decency and manners?

My "homework" assignment for you this week is to begin to make your home into a place of being different than the world outside the home.  It should be VERY different than what we are seeing and hearing about.  It should be clean, it should be pretty, it should be organized, it should honor the Lord, it should be fun, it should hear laughter (and often), it should be pleasant, it should be comfortable, it should be modest, it should be filled with love and care for each other, it should be safe, it should keep the good things in and keep the bad things out, it should be filled with good memories and the wanting of making more.

It seems like a tall order but it CAN be done if we're serious about finding and keeping the joy in this crazy mixed-up world we live in.  Don't give up in trying.  God blesses our efforts.  He knows our hearts and He will definitely help us in this area because it's something that He wants for us too.  

God bless you and your family this week as you continue to find the joy! 

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Cinnamon Rolls for Saturdays

I finally got around to the cinnamon rolls!  : )   The brown transferware I bought from Tuesday Morning years ago - I love bringing it out in the Fall months.

Again, as I sit and write this post, I look out on darkness but there is a touch of sunrise coming.  All is very quiet and the house is warming up and, of course, a cup of coffee off to the side.  A new day.  : )

This past week wasn't anything out of the ordinary so it's not like I have a whole lot to write about, but I guess that's okay as it's in the ordinary daily things that life mostly consists of.  As the title of my post suggests, last Friday evening I pulled out the bread machine and made dough for my much anticipated Saturday morning cinnamon rolls.  : )  I had mentioned to you that I missed my mom's rolls and it was a very special memory of mine growing up.  And now that it's cold outdoors, I just had to do it.  : )

I found this same dough in several places on-line so I don't know who to give the credit to, but it WAS a good one and I hope you can try it too.   I know.  Cinnamon rolls - dough, butter, frosting - you're thinking fat, fat, fat.  Lately I just feel like we're too scared of food.  But people of long ago used to eat food like this.  My mom was never overweight and I don't remember a lot of people who were and we all ate real food.  So, I have to admit, that food doesn't scare me.  One cinnamon roll on a Saturday morning isn't going to break me.  A small snack-size bag of chips with a sandwich for lunch isn't going to put me over the edge.  A cookie or two for a coffee or tea break isn't going to be the problem.  It's the over-doing it that's the problem!  It's knowing portion control and self-control that's important.

I do know, however, that people DO have REAL problems with certain kinds of food and really have to watch what they eat so I'm not trying to be insensitive to that.   But I think it's important that we enjoy food again.  I have heard that French women do this.  When they sit down to a meal they don't look at the food and wonder how many calories it has in it or what the fat content is or whether it's going to be good for them or not, they sit down and comment on how lovely everything looks and how wonderful everything tastes and ask for each other's recipes!  They enjoy the moment of eating together and the delicious food they are eating - the secret though is not overdoing it!    

I'm sure I went on long enough about this and I know you know what I mean, so here is the recipe:


For the dough:  

1 cup warm milk
2 large eggs at room temperature
1/3 cup melted butter
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 tsp. bread machine yeast

Put all of these ingredients in your bread machine bread pan in the order that they are listed.  Select the dough cycle (mine usually takes about 1 1/2 hours).

Once the bread is done, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and cover with a clean cloth and let it rest for ten minutes.  Meanwhile, make the cinnamon filling:

For the cinnamon filling:

1 cup light brown sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup softened butter

Mix this together well.

Once the dough has rested, roll it out to a 16 x 21-inch rectangle and spread the 1/3 cup softened butter over the dough and then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture on top of the butter.  Roll the dough up starting with the long edge tightly and slice with a sharp knife into 12 rolls.  Place these rolls into a greased 9 x 13 pan.  Cover and let rise until nearly doubled.  BUT..............and this is what I did.............

Don't let them rise, but cover them with foil, pop them into the fridge overnight and then take them out 30 minutes before baking.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake for 25 to 30 minutes tenting them if you want to keep them from over-browning.  This is SUCH a time-saver!  Make them in the evening and bake in the morning - perfect for holidays when you're having someone over for a breakfast or brunch - your house will smell amazing!!!!!!!!

For the frosting (and you HAVE to have frosting):

3 ounces of softened cream cheese
1/4 cup softened butter
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

After the rolls have cooled a bit (but still warm) spread all this yummy frosting on top and serve.  : )

I really hope you can try these and let me know what you think.  Since it makes a dozen rolls, we ate just one and then I wrapped each of the others individually and put them in the freezer to just pull out the night before and heat up in the morning.  Works out great.

Other than the regular routine of getting my home-work done during the week, there are a few extra things that I managed to do:

our Thanksgiving napkins!  I finished hand-hemming them yesterday so they are good to go for our meal.  I just love the print on these - they were cut from an old duvet cover.

and I made some soy candles for the house - this one is in the bathroom and is lavender scented, I have one in the kitchen that is, of course, a cinnamon roll scented one (can you tell my love for cinnamon rolls?!)  : )

I spent some time in the kitchen looking at my upcoming meals and prepped a few things ahead of time - making syrup for pancakes that are on the menu, making a salad dressing for the salads, making a pizza seasoning mix for the flatbread pizza, etc.  I also tried to re-organize the fridge (starting off with cleaning it first!) and then putting little baskets to hold like-items together.  Now there is a place for all the nuts we eat and one for all the special grains like quinoa, flaxseed, cornmeal, rice, etc. and one for leftovers that need to be eaten before we make something new.  It has a label that says "Eat first" on it so it reminds me to heat up those leftovers!  

Also in the kitchen I finally pulled all those meal-planning ideas and printed recipes that I have yet to try into one kitchen notebook.  Quite a while ago, I pulled out the recipes that I do cook with and with nutrition in mind, wrote down the entire menu for each meal that would include what vegetable or salad to serve with it, what kind of fruit would taste good with it, what kind of pasta or grain do I need, if any.  So that helps tremendously when sitting down every week to think of meals to prepare.  Now it's in a notebook for ease and for organization.  And all those recipes that I haven't tried yet are in one place because my goal is to try one new recipe a week.

Since the weather for today is going to be so nice, a morning walk pretty soon will have to be planned for.  Come back to a smoothie and a warm cinnamon roll with juice and then get started on today's to-do's:

*Write out the Thanksgiving cards - I just send a few out to family since we can't get together.
*Keep crocheting the "quilt" blocks for my blanket to give away - I'm almost there!!
*Clean out the storage room - I keep putting this one off!!!!

That should do it!  Thank you SO much for dropping by again because I enjoy your visit.  I hope this encourages you to bake, clean, work on something for someone else, take care of yourself and just do what you can to enjoy this day.  That is your assignment for today!!!  : )  God bless.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Thanksgiving Sunday

The bits and ends of Autumn.

As I sit in this mid-afternoon, the house is quiet.  My husband is downstairs putting a winter scene puzzle together.  I just finished a chapter of the book that I'm reading.  I look outside and the flurries of snow are coming down as the little blusters of wind make them dance and the rooftops of houses are turning white.  Again, the birds are at the feeders and the squirrels are busy at burying who knows what.  I got up early again this morning and spent my time with the Lord, read another passage in the Bible and prayed as there are many requests lately.  Church fellowship was meaningful as we get to know each other more and more with the passing of time.  The sermon was so timely for what our world is going through right now and how people are.  Anyone who says the Bible is outdated hasn't read the Bible - it's as relevant now as it was when written.  God's word never changes and, thank goodness, He doesn't either.

Since November is a month of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share one of my favorite passages that I read this past week as I go through the New Testament again.  It's in the Book of Luke, Chapter 17, verses 11 through 19.  It's the passage titled "Ten Healed of Leprosy".  It's about ten men with leprosy who were standing at a distance, saw Jesus and started to call out in loud voices to have pity on them.  He did.  But........only one came back to Jesus, praising God, and threw himself at the feet of Jesus to thank him.  Jesus said out loud that all ten lepers were healed but only one came back to thank him.  Where were the other nine?

Now, before we say "shame on them", how often have we done this?  There are many times in our lives where Jesus protects, heals, answers prayers, provides.......do we ALWAYS say a prayer of thanksgiving?  THIS is why it's SO important to read the Bible!!!   In the Book of 2 Timothy, Chapter 3, verses 16 & 17 it says that "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."  The above passage in regards to the man who came back to Jesus because of healing was meant for us to read as an example of how we should be.  It's a teaching moment.

As we look back on this past week and now look forward to the next, let us all encourage each other in remembering to thank Jesus for his many ways of loving us and his many mercies to us on a daily basis.  Thanksgiving begins in our hearts.  If our hearts are self-centered we begin to feel like everything we've been given is because we are deserving.  I don't know about you, but because I'm a sinner and saved by Grace alone, I'm deserving of nothing.  Every good thing that the Lord provides and does for me is worthy of praise and thanksgiving - He doesn't have to do anything, but He chooses to.  I don't want to be the one who doesn't come to Jesus and tell Him how grateful I am for His love and generosity.

As we take steps to plan our Thanksgiving and everything that goes into that, let us put God first.  I then know that everything else will fall into place.  

God bless.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

'Tis The Season For Giving

We're going from pretty to pretty bleak right now!

Well, I'm liking standard time.  Especially in the morning.  : )  Right now, instead of looking out at darkness, there is light in the sky - a hint of a sunrise.  There are birds at the feeder and the squirrels are already busy.  : )  It's cold though!  I guess today is going to be nice with a high of 45 degrees but then tomorrow back into the 20's.  It happens every year but we're always surprised.  : )

In today's post I'm talking about depending on what season of life you are going through right now, and depending on whether or not it's a difficult time for you right now, the holidays can be a mixed bag of emotions and feelings.  Either it is a season of looking forward to it all with joy and expectation, or it is a season of not looking forward to it at all - maybe a little of both.  Believe me - I have been there.

This year (right now anyway), for me, I am in the joy and expectation.  I'm already praying that the Lord will settle me down a bit because when I feel this way I can easily over-expect.  I need to step back and take my own advice about just enjoying the process and not look too far ahead into the future and remember that plans change and to ALWAYS have a back-up plan!!!!   : )  But when your plans are dependent upon others' plans and they wait to tell you what their plans are it can be a little frustrating.  Certain things do need time to carry them out.  But there is one thing that you can plan for and is not dependent upon someone else and that is carrying through some acts of kindness to others in your community.

The following list is a springboard of ideas for you to take from and add some of your own!  It is a joyous thing to give to others and it's especially fun to do it anonymously.  : )  Little elves running all over town doing good deeds.  I guarantee you that even when you are at your lowest it will bring a wonderful feeling in your heart.  So, I hope you can try at least one of these things for the upcoming holiday season:

*Pay for someone's groceries behind you.
*Take flowers to a nurse's station.
*Pay for the lunch of the people behind you in the drive through.
*Take snacks, cookies, cupcakes, etc. to the fire department or police department.
*Donate stuffed animals to police and fire departments for the children.
*Put change in vending machines.
*Give extra groceries to the food shelves.
*Pick up someone's tab at the restaurant.
*Leave a VERY generous tip.
*Buy dessert for someone eating alone.
*Tape a gift card to a gas pump.
*Drop off little gifts to a nursing home - call ahead to see what would be appropriate.
*Buy extra dog and cat food for an animal shelter.
*Hand out gloves and mittens at a bus stop.
*Hide dollar bills around the Dollar Store.
*Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
*Drop off a toy or game at a hospital or doctor's office.
*Donate coloring books and crayons to hospital and clinics.
*Leave a bottle of detergent at a laundromat.
*Buy hot drinks for the Salvation Army bell ringers.
*Buy gift cards for cancer patients.
*Make baby blankets (or for the kids) for hospitals.
And I know you can add to this list!!!!  Just doing one or two this holiday season will mean SO much to someone.  I know that there are people who hesitate on some of these because they feel they will be taken advantage of.  For example, taking a bottle of detergent to the laundromat automatically made me think that someone will just take it.  They won't just take what they need and leave the rest for someone else to use - they will probably take it.  But we can't think that way.  Giving from the heart means that you leave behind those feelings of wondering how this will work in some cases.  We give because it's the right thing to do - nothing else.  There shouldn't be any strings attached.

I hope this gives you some ideas of what to do for others this year.  There are so many people who would love this and just feel great in knowing that someone cared to do SOMETHING.  Again, we don't have to do it all!  Even the Bible says that we just need to choose what we will give, but the important thing is to follow through on it - don't go back on your word.  Make a little difference this year in the life of someone.  This is so nice because in this kind of giving, there is no expectation of getting anything back and THAT is what the heart of giving is all about.  : )

God bless you today.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Finding Your Style

The perfect cold-weather food - soup.  From Victoria magazine.

Hello again!!!!  So glad you stopped by.  : )  I'm Mary and I'm the homemaker in Homemaker's Thoughts and my thoughts this time are focused on finding our personal style as women in our homes and while we are out and about.  

I don't know if you agree with me or not, but I'm really finding it hard to find affordable style.  Or style itself!  I'm not much of a fad person - I will buy one or two things that seem appropriate but I leave the fads to the young gals.  : )  That's why taking steps to find personal style is so very helpful.  It helps when you actually go shopping so that you can walk past all that stuff and focus on what you like and what looks good on you.  Here are some steps you might want to take:

*Make a notebook - it's like a design board where you cut pictures out of what you're drawn to.  Don't overthink it just cut out the pictures and put them into your notebook.  These pictures can be from magazines or, what I like to do is buy a pattern book at Hobby Lobby.  They usually put these back in the clearance section near the fabric.  They only cost a couple of dollars and then I take them home and start cutting!!!!  This is fun for me.  Even at a very young age I used to go to the fabric store and just drool over all the fashions that I would love to wear some day (it didn't happen but it was fun to dream!).  When you have several pages done just look back at what you did and you will see a pattern happen.  You will notice what you are drawn to and THAT is your style!  Here is an example of my notebook (I think I've shown this in past posts):

As you can see, I cut out a lot of pictures of fitted items and that is true of me.  Even with a few added pounds, I love fitted clothing even if it's under a jacket or sweater.  I also love coats and jackets and skirts.  I know you get the idea.  And that is pretty much what I have in my closet as well so I know this works.  Each one of us is attracted to certain things and we're all going to be different - I think that's why I dislike the "fashions" now - they make clothes that don't differentiate women's tastes.  That cold-shoulder fad that was going on was totally ridiculous but it seems that was all that was out there.  You can't put women into one box and make clothes to put into that one box - it just doesn't work.  Which leads me to the next point:

*Have an outing day - a day that just you (don't take anyone else along!) will go out and look around at various shops and stores to see what's out there that matches your style.  Wear nice clothes when you go out so that you can look nice while trying things on.  This takes a long time so be patient with yourself.  Take a coffee-shop break from it or divide it up into a couple of days.  But this will show and tell you what actually looks good on you according to the style you like.

Of course, not many of us can just go out and buy everything we want/need.  A clothing budget is really important.  Plus, it's not necessary to buy a closet full of clothes.  Which leads me to point number three:

*Start with a minimum wardrobe and slowly build on it.  I go back to an article that I found in the Tightwad Gazette Book 3.  It states that you begin with nine pieces of clothing - two blazers, three tops, and four bottoms.  The blazers (or it can be sweaters) and the bottoms need to coordinate and limit the patterns (solids are best).  With these 9 basic articles of clothing it is possible to make 24 different combinations!  That idea is so fantastic!!!  What a good idea.

Begin by shopping your own closet.  Pull out every single piece of clothing that you own.  Take out the ones that you know you don't like (you'll know this because these are the ones that you never see in the laundry - they just keep taking up room in your closet).  Now, take out the ones that don't fit and/or are getting pretty worn.  What do you have left?  Do any of them match your style from your notebook?  Do any of them match the above 9 basic articles that you can begin to build on?  Do you like them and do you just know that you look good in them.  We're trying to go for looking our best whether we're at home or at work or out and about.  How are you doing?  

Now, write things down - what should you be looking for?  What do you need to fill in with?  This could be some nice accessories too - a nice scarf to go with the plain top, some better fitting undergarments so your clothes look better on you, a pair of new shoes?  Write it all down - everything that comes to mind.  Put everything that you like and that fits back into your closet and take your list and prioritize.  On your outing day you can begin to look for item #1.  Remember to make a budget.  Maybe item #1 is all you can get right now - that's okay.  The goal is to limit your wardrobe - making everything go together for ease of wear, ease on the pocketbook, and where you feel pretty and pulled together!

Saying that shopping for clothes is a chore for me is an understatement!  It's very frustrating to find the kind of clothes that I like, but with a little perseverance we can do it!  I hope you enjoy this assignment.  : )

This can also work for your home as well.  Again, I have a scrapbook that I use to put in pictures that I cut out in regards to all kinds of things.  Accessories for the home, beautiful bedrooms, etc. - just ideas that I can look at once in a while.  Of course, there is always Pinterest for these as well.  I do have a board for fashion and also for home ideas and I enjoy looking at those too.  But little notebooks at home are fun to take off the shelf and just sit with a cup of coffee and browse through once in a while.

I know some people don't like to look through magazines and such for fear of becoming discontented with what you have.  I suppose that could happen.  We have to remind ourselves that we are who we are and what we have is what we have.  Yes, some women can afford to get a new wardrobe every single season.  They can shop at all the nice stores and money isn't an issue.  They are very blessed to be able to do that.  But for those of us who need to watch our money, this can actually be a challenge that we can enjoy.  Some call it "the thrill of the hunt"!  Finding that one thing without having to spend a lot for it.  There are some women who buy really nice clothing at consignment shops or thrift stores.  

So, take a deep breath - find your style, make your budget, get out there, and make yourself look wonderful!!!  You will definitely feel better when you know you look your best.  : )

That's it for today!!!!  The next post will give you ideas for starting this holiday season off right by being a blessing to others - some "acts of kindness" ideas.  God bless!

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Finding Motivation Through Others

My teapot that I found at a thrift store years ago - I love it.  : )

Hi there!  Thank you for dropping by.  Today's post is about finding motivation through other people.  We can all learn from others even when we think we know what we want to know.  There have been many women throughout the years that I have learned many things - women in our small town that always stood out by being classy and stylish, my mother-in-law with her thrifty yet pretty ways of doing things, authors of books such as Alexandra Stoddard or Emilie Barnes and their way of taking care of others, their homes, and their self, magazines that show how to make our homes beautiful, clean, tidy, organized...............

I have often mentioned the importance of always learning.  There ARE ways of doing things differently that might be more efficient than the way we've always done them.  Though I do like the adage of "if it ain't broken, don't fix it" sometimes we can just become lazy or prideful or stuck in our ways to the point of not learning at all.   I feel we all need mentors, whether or not we can actually talk to them (or them to us), or whether we read about them, or watch them.

This past week, three people came to my mind:

*First, on our public television station we used to have a program called "Dakota Life" (I think we can still watch them on-line).  And since I was born and raised in South Dakota I really like this program because they show so many familiar sights.  Anyway.....I'm not sure why they had this particular elderly woman on but she had to have been in her early 80's and she stuck out as a woman that I would love to aspire to be.  In one clip they showed her in her cute blue jeans and cowboy shirt donning a cowboy hat working in her pretty flower garden - the next clip showed her (in the same clothes) in her barn climbing up to the hayloft!  In the next clip they showed her in her eat-in kitchen, this time with a cute pink and white gingham dress making pies while four of her friends were watching her and then she served them fresh-from-the-oven pie with coffee.  That program is stuck in my mind or, I should say, SHE is stuck in my mind!  Because that's how I want to grow old - blue jeans for some jobs and a dress for others!  : )  Seriously.  She was just so cute and agile and "with it" and feminine.  A mentor to me and she has no idea how much she impressed me.

*The second was a friend that came over on Wednesday evening to do some crafting and chatting.  She is the kind of woman who, whenever she wants to learn how to do something she does!  She knows how to do all kinds of things - she could be a REAL Pioneer Woman!!!!  So she motivates me as well just listening to everything she gets done.

*Lastly in this group is how I learn through watching some Youtubers (sounds like a new name for a potato).  : )  But one video is what I needed to motivate me to begin to watch how I looked.  I mean I never want to look sloppy, but even what I do wear in my "off" times I want to look decent and cared for.  I do like my jeans but I want them clean, ironed, and they need to fit well.  Just because we're cleaning our house doesn't mean we have to look like it!

So, as you can see, there are women all around us that we can learn from.  I know that God puts the right people in the right place at the right time for me.  Even those books that I mentioned above - I found them when I was first married and had NO idea how to take care of my home in a way that represented the Lord and my family well.  I wanted to but without some kind of help I would have floundered.  This is not to say, however, that I have it all figured out now!  LOL  I keep looking for others to emulate, ideas to try, and ways of doing things that would work in our own home.  And I hope you do too. 

My assignment for you this week is to find a way to get motivated in something that you need to get motivated in.  Is it cooking?  Is it cleaning?  Is it taking care of yourself?  Is it finding family time ideas?  Is it gardening?  Is it sewing or crafting?  What is it that's kind of nagging at the back of your mind?   I'm not here to endorse YouTube but if you want to learn something you can.  Often you can find just one person who is like-minded and you feel like you can trust her to steer you in the right direction.

God loves it when we use the brains He gave us and He gave each of us gifts, talents, and abilities to use to enrich our lives and the live of others.   Try not to let complacency enter in.  Every new day is an opportunity.  First be thankful and then dig in!!!!!!!!  : )  

My next post will be about trying to find your style - whether that's in your home or the clothes you wear.  I hope you can join me.  God bless your day and upcoming week!!!!  : )

Saturday, November 2, 2019

November To-Do's and Tea Party Themes

The next picture on our calendar - living out in the country in an old house sitting on the front porch with Autumn beauty - what could be better?  : )

Hello again and welcome to my blog post!!!  SO glad to have you here for a visit.  : )  Again, it's Saturday morning and I'm looking out on the very dark morning, coffee off to the side, and seeing a few snow flurries in the air.  I'm so grateful for the small, warm, and cozy house in which to sit in.

Can you believe it's November already?!  It's REALLY hard to believe that Christmas is right around the corner.  I'm already in the Christmas mood and that doesn't always happen so I'm grateful for that too!  But, for now, we will prepare for November.  : )

November is a month where we try to get all the outdoor work done and begin to get our houses cozy for the upcoming winter months.  Right now it seems that every day (several times a day) we contend with the falling leaves.  We have a couple of trees that seem to hold on to their leaves until the last minute and then it's like a snowstorm where they all come at once.  And it's those tiny little leaves that are SO hard to rake up and we constantly bring them in on the bottom of our shoes.  So, for us, it's kind of a messy time of year but we (mostly my husband) keeps on top of it.  All the pumpkins have been taken care of by the squirrels so we need to toss those, the Mums are looking pretty sad right now with the cold weather that we've been having so we'll have to take those off the steps.  I guess that all leads me into the November to-do list which isn't very much at all but things that will help you to stay on top of it so it doesn't become too overwhelming.  Just doing something every day helps.  Here they are:


*winterize any trees or shrubs - are there any you need to wrap (whether that is the whole shrub or just the lower trunks of young/new trees).
*last-minute yard clean up - keeping leaves on the lawn with the snow on top is not healthy for your lawn.
*clean out your gutters and downspouts from all those leaves - we treated ourselves last year to gutter guards so that it catches those pesky little leaves!
*test and hang your holiday lights - it seems early but it's so much better than being out there when it's only 10 degrees above zero.
*winterize your cars - do you need winter oil or a safety kit or ................
*keep up (or begin) Christmas shopping - write out those lists, keep it simple this year, bake some holiday breads and cookies now to freeze for ease in gift-giving or entertaining.
*keep going through all your closets, drawers, and cupboards and give stuff away!!!!
*think ahead to Thanksgiving and begin to make plans now - are you having company over, are you going somewhere, what to bring, what to serve, etc. - planning now means peace of mind later!

That is it!  Not bad at all.  Remember that some of these things won't be for everyone and remember to ask for help and mostly, just enjoy the process!!!!!!!   Homemaking is a blessing.  : )

And then......the Tea Party ideas for November:


*Decorate with your best linens, your best glassware, your best dishes - remember that our "best" won't be the same as everyone else's best but don't think about that!  If you set a pretty table with what you have it WILL be the best!!!!!!  
*Buy some flowers from the market and divide them up into little vases and place them around the room or on the table.
*Serve pumpkin scones, a sponge cake, and petits fours with a variety of teas and coffee for those who don't like tea.
*Play Liszt, Shubert, or Mendelssohn in the background.
*Go around the room and ask each other about what they were thankful for this past year.

Just have fun with this and enjoy each other!!!!!  

Last night was our 4th annual pumpkin carving party and I had SO much fun in getting ready for it.  It's something that I look forward to every year.  Here are just a few pictures:

Just a simple table set for our supper before carving.

Our tables set up downstairs for the carving - we were going to have it out in our garage but the weather turned quite cold on us.

However, we DID have a fire which felt really good and relaxing.

Here are the finished products!  : )

For me, this whole process - from going shopping to buy all the food, to getting the house ready, to preparing everything, to sitting at the table with family and friends, to chatting away and laughing and being silly is worth SO much!!!!!!  Making memories and getting together for fun is really important to me and knowing that they WANT to do it every year just makes my day!!!!

Because of this party last night, a good part of this morning will be spent in cleaning up and putting things back in order again which is fine with me.  I'm sad it's already over but the memories are precious.  : )

I think that's about it for today.  I hope you will be able to be in your home and begin to think ahead to the holidays coming up and planning a few get-together's yourself!  No matter how tired you are, there is nothing like having people your home to share a meal with and a few laughs and have fun.  It's good for everyone - YOU be the one to initiate it.  I think we tend to wait for someone else to do it, but then it might not happen.  Just think about it and see what you come up with.  God bless!!!