Sunday, May 31, 2020

Sunday Afternoon

Thankful for beauty.

I had intended to post yesterday.  I faithfully wrote things down that I wanted to share.  Photos I had taken throughout the week.  But, after waking up on a Saturday with a city-wide curfew in place (and still in place for tonight) the wind was out of my sails at that point.  It's a bit scary when one is awakened early in the morning with a Black Hawk helicopter flying over your house.  There was no way that I was going to talk about a recipe, or what I just planted, or a completed project.  I probably will later in the week, but no, not right now.  Somehow, the homey things (or at least talking about them) just isn't appropriate when everything is out of control and you're left wondering what horrible thing is going to happen next.

We are experiencing one of the worst weeks in the history of our city.  Businesses and other property destroyed by riots and fires, looting, terrorist acts of violence...........  The whole thing, from what started all of this in the first place, to how the people are reacting, well, there are no words to explain the feelings at this point.  I so believe in the power of prayer, but there are times (such as these) where I find it so very difficult to find the words.  God knows our hearts and the Holy Spirit does intercede for us when we just can't voice those prayers.  I'm very grateful for that, but I also understand that it is still vitally important to keep praying - to cry out to the God who hears - even though sometimes that prayer is only the word "help."

Here we are slowing coming out of quarantine for the COVID-19, thinking that we can venture out a tad bit more (still with face masks and distancing though), and now we find ourselves under curfew because of terrorists in the area.   

Psalm 91 is appropriate for this time:

"You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday."  verse 5

"If you make the Most High your dwelling - even the Lord, who is my refuge - then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.  For He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;"................. verses 9-11

We have the Lord.  His words are true.  If He tells us this in His word, we have to hold on to that.  If we don't our hearts will fail and worry and fear will attack us.  Between the virus and the terrorists, the last thing we need is another attack.  What I do need, however, is to have a good cry.  Because even with all of this said, it all still breaks my heart.  So........if you will excuse me, I need a hanky.


Saturday, May 23, 2020

Memorial Day Weekend!

While pulling weeds this past week, this little cutie was all by itself - I didn't plant it, don't know where it came from, but it was a very nice surprise.  : ) we are..........Memorial Day weekend.  It came SO very quickly even though we may feel that time is standing still.  As I type, we are receiving a delicious rain - soaking the grass and new plantings and it gives a calm and solemnity.  The birds are singing through it all - maybe a reminder to us - that through it all we just keep singing.  Maybe it's a reminder that we are being taken care of even though the clouds hang over our heads.  To just keep on keeping on and do what we are supposed to do.

I do hope that if you live close to a cemetery (especially one that has veterans in it) that you will take the time to spend a little money and get a flower or two to put on the graves.  We went to Ft. Snelling yesterday to put a flag and a rose on my Uncle Pete's grave - a man who earned a Purple Heart in World War 2.  And then we find a grave that you just know no one will visit.  Since I'm from South Dakota, we found a grave of a young man (died when he was 21) from SD and we put a flag and a rose on his grave as well.  Twenty one years old.  What a sacrifice he made for you and me.  Never had the chance to go to college.  Never had the chance to find the wife of his dreams.  Never knew what it would feel like to be called "daddy".  Never had the chance to pursue a career, own a home of his own.........................the LEAST we can do for these heroes is to put a flower on their grave and say a whispered "thank you".   And, if you see a veteran this weekend (or at any time!) PLEASE say "thank you" to them as well.  

Well, since my allergies are really acting up with all the new growth out there, my time outdoors was pretty limited this week.  Last weekend we had another wonderful rain (3 inches!) so it did wash a lot of pollen away and I took advantage of that in the pulling of some weeds.  I'm hoping this rain will do the same.  I'm looking out the window right now and our Azalea bush just glows in all the cloudiness.  Such a beautiful Spring we've been having - everything quite luscious.  I did get another row of carrots planted wanting to continue with our succession planting so that we have different things coming up throughout the Summer into Fall (which I don't even want to talk about yet!).  : ) work turned indoors this week.  One of my very favorite things to do around the house is "tidy up".  Tidying up is different than cleaning.  If I see a drawer that has seen better days, I love to stop what I'm doing, turn on some soft music, and just take my time in tidying up that space until it's done and looking good again.  Same with the kitchen space - while drying and putting dishes away - if I see a drawer or cupboard that is a little out of control, I love to stop at that point and make it right.  I find that if I don't do it when I see it, it will always be a source of aggravation to me until it's done.  But there is just something in the process of doing that is calming to me - a chance to just settle down for a while and do something productive and see the after affects that is very pleasant.

And then I did some major cleaning in our laundry area (which also serves as a storage space with lots of shelves).  This area is my least favorite in all our house and it's not that I'm not grateful that we even have this space, but if there is one word for it, it's ugly.  There is absolutely NO way to make this area nice and pretty because it's old.  Sure, we could have someone come in and redo it, but that would take a lot of money and so we choose to at least keep it clean and tidy instead!  I've learned over the years that we have to choose as to what we are okay to spend money on and this area just hasn't seemed to be on our priority list.  I just envy (using this word lightly) women who have these bright and beautiful laundry areas - everything clean and pristine - all painted in white with the cute little signs up and lots of space.  Well, that ain't going to happen here!!!!!!  LOL  : )

A while back, while cleaning out our pantry to reorganize and gain space, I came across a whole LOT of dried fruit that I was going to use this past Christmas to make fruitcake with.  I saw a recipe at that time that sounded different than the traditional fruitcake (of which I do not enjoy) but I never did get around to it.  So.......I made it this week.  I'm not going to share the recipe with you (maybe this Christmas) but I have to say it is a very time-consuming recipe.  For any of you who make fruitcake, just the cutting up of all those dried fruits (and nuts) takes FOREVER!!!!  After THAT part is done, the rest is easy-peasy, but my goodness.........fortunately when all was done and baked and cooled and sliced and was VERY good.  VERY sweet and rich, but VERY good.  : )

We each had a slice (and even that was almost too much) and the rest went into the freezer for a treat now and then - this recipe made two loaves so we'll have plenty!  : )  Fruitcake in May - why not?

Since the weather was beautiful and warmish this past week, I wanted to fire up the grill for kabobs.  One of my favorite meals is kabobs served with rice on the side (or in our case, it was quinoa).  I know that people either love Spam or hate it - we happen to like it.  And I'm buying quite a bit for our pantry since it keeps forever.  Of course, it's a food item that you don't want to have as a regular meal every week because it isn't exactly what one would call a "health food" - but once every so often is okay with us.  So I opened a can of Spam.  We already had fresh pineapple, a red bell pepper, and a red onion and I cubed everything up, thread it all on skewers, made a Teriyaki marinade, and threw them on the grill, brushing with the marinade every time we turned them (which only took about 10 minutes in all).  Brought them in, slid them off the skewers onto our plates and served them with our quinoa and had a salad off to the side.  We really enjoyed them - very tasty.  

Ready for the grill.

Ready to eat.  : )

I found that I couldn't use up all the Spam, veggies, and quinoa, so I refrigerated it all to make this the next day:

Quinoa fried rice.  I shared this recipe in a past post.  It's really versatile - literally using up what you have on hand.  It, too, is VERY tasty.  A little fruit off to the side and it's a fun meal that only takes minutes to throw together.  Don't you just love that?  : )

Now.......for this day.  I ALWAYS have lists of things to do/make/get done so I'm hoping that I will!!  In between rains I'm hoping to go out and keep at the weeds.  But if it keeps raining steadily my indoor projects include:

*go through boxes underneath our basement steps and see what I can purge and reorganize
*I never did make any facemasks, so I want to get to that - we have purchased some throw-aways, but I would like some fabric ones as well
*I have old sheets that I need to make rags with
*I have a cross stitch project that I need to plug away on
*I need to make more greeting cards
*I'm knitting a scarf that I like to work on if I need something soothing to do
*I'm continuing to crochet quilt blocks for a blanket
*I want to make more aprons
*I found a tutorial on how to make cotton slips and want to make one for summer
*I bought a few summer tops that I would like to try and embellish since they are plain
*I bought fabric during the winter for a skirt and blouse that I haven't even begun to cut out let alone sew!!!  I'm not a seamstress so that is part of my hesitancy.  But I need to try.
*I have garlic that I need to preserve so that I can buy more next week!  We love garlic - and the garlic we're growing is doing very well, but of course it's not ready yet.
*I still have items on my "to cook/bake" list in the kitchen that I need to get around to

As you can see, I have more than I could ever accomplish today (or this whole weekend!), but it's a list and what I like about lists is that it's always a reminder.  None of these things NEED to be absolutely accomplished at any certain date but, for me, it's fun to pick and choose depending on what kind of mood I'm in, what the weather is like, what would give pleasure at this time...........

I think that is pretty much it for today!  Thank you SO much for stopping by for a visit - I sometimes wish it was a REAL visit from you.  Sit with a cup of coffee or tea and just chat.  But I'm VERY appreciative of you taking the time in your day to read what little I have to offer.  : )  Have a good day ahead - please stay safe and healthy throughout this coming weekend.  God bless you, your friends, your family, and your homemaking efforts!!!!!!!!  : )

Saturday, May 16, 2020

A Brand New Saturday Morning

More Mother's Day flowers.  : )

Here we are!  The middle of May already.  Spring really is a gift, isn't it?  It's SO very pretty.  It's clouding up as I type and we're SO hoping for much needed rain today.  

Here is our apple tree right now:

the perfume is absolutely amazing.

And here is the Jack-in-the-pulpit I had mentioned:

the photo doesn't do it justice, but it is such an interesting plant to have in the garden.

Everything else is coming along as it should.  Finally planted the strawberries and they are now taking off.  Need to plant the peppers and tomatoes and herbs yet.  I've already cut the chives a couple of times:

and now in a freezer bag.  : )

Don't you just love plants like chives - you cut them and they re-grow, you cut them again and they re-grow.  Always a fresh batch.

This week I tried something that I've always wanted to do - I'm usually the last person to do something that's been around for a while, but I did it and now definitely want to do more.  It's dry canning.

I think I had mentioned it in a past post where you take certain beans, grains, dehydrated foods, etc. and you "can" them using the dry method. 

as with the other canning, you make sure you begin with clean and dry jars - fill them with what you want to can (here, split peas) - put them in a 200-degree oven for one hour.

while the jars are in the oven, you put the lids and rings in boiling water for 10 minutes - dry them well.

after the hour is up, you put the lids and rings on, pop them back into the oven for another 30 minutes, bring them out and set them on a towel and let them cool down (you'll hear that ping) - they are now ready to set on your pantry shelf!  From what the article said, these can last for up to 30 years on your shelf.  I'm excited about trying other foods now - another way of making our food last long term.  : )

I'm almost finished with my George Elliot book, and it made me kind of panic that I might be left without a book to read after this one is done!  : )  So, I just had to order a couple more of course.  Reading is something I really look forward to after lunch.  It gives me that break before getting back into work in the afternoon.  Sometimes it's SO hard to put it down, but I do have to pace myself.

I read a quote a while back and I wish I could remember who said it but it was "visit many books, but live in the Bible" - I really like that.  Reading is so important and God has gifted many an author to write for our pleasure.  But, of course, we should be reading the Bible first and foremost.  : )

Which brings me to this -  during this pandemic and all the information that is thrown at us about it, I was reminded of the verse in James 1:5 where it says "If anyone lacks wisdom, ask God".  And that led me to pray every morning for wisdom.  Which, in turn, led me to the study of Proverbs (the book of wisdom)!  : )  And in Proverbs 6: 6-8 it says:

"Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!  It has no commander, no overseer, or ruler, YET IT STORES ITS PROVISIONS IN SUMMER AND GATHERS ITS FOOD AT HARVEST".  (emphasis mine)  The "stores its provisions in summer" jumped out at me like a bolt of lightning.  For all the times I've read this, I never noticed that part of it before.  I am already determined to use this summer to deepen our pantry and cook ahead and can and freeze, but reading this was like God was telling me that we're on the right track and this is something we SHOULD be doing right now.  I know we're all hoping that things will be getting better - of course, I'm hoping and praying for that too!  But............I think we need to play the "what if" game right now.  This whole thing has brought to our attention the swiftness of how things can change and left a lot of us unprepared and scrambling to get what we needed to get by.

So, "what if" this doesn't get better for quite a long time yet?  "What if" this Fall and Winter is bad, if not worse?  The above verse in Proverbs was the conviction and motivation I needed to get started on "storing our provisions in the Summer."  We all know that we gather our food in the harvest because that's when everything is ready to be pulled and picked and dug up, but what do we do in the Summer?

I wanted to share what we are doing and hoping that you can glean something from it.  We mainly shop at Aldi so I know the store by heart.  What I did was, on separate note cards, I wrote down the aisle numbers and what you would find in that aisle.  What we are planning to do this summer, is take an aisle of the store and only shop that particular aisle for pantry building.  For example:

Aisle #1 has:

coffee and coffee filters
nuts and seeds
dried fruit and dark chocolate
saltine and other kinds of crackers
tortilla chips
(this aisle, of course, has more than this but these are the only things we buy from this aisle)

which, then, leads us into the produce department.  Before we leave to go shopping, I write down all the fresh produce (fruits and vegetables) that we need or have run out of so I write that down first.  And we pick those up after picking the above items up.  After produce, we come to the dairy section - same thing here - I write down what we need or have run out of (eggs, milk, butter, etc.) and pick those things up as well.  After the dairy section, we have another aisle that runs parallel to the last of the produce so I pick things from that aisle as well which includes:

pickles, olives, relishes
mayo, ketchup, mustard
jellies, jams, peanut butter, honey
all those condiments you would want on hand when preparing your meals or recipes.

And then we stop here on that particular shopping trip.  We don't go down any more aisles (unless, of course, we absolutely need something and it can't wait until the following week).

Then, the following week we bypass the above aisles we shopped from last week - go straight to produce and dairy and then head for the next aisle which includes:

pasta and jarred pasta sauces
dehydrated potatoes 
soups and broth
canned meats and fish
canned vegetables and fruit

And then we stop again.  We don't go any further unless, again, we absolutely need something from another aisle.  Well, I think you understand what I mean here.  Shopping in this way, is a sure way of stocking up without going broke!  We get the fresh items we need weekly and also pick up the pantry items we know we would need and use in the Winter months without having to worry about being caught by surprise with empty shelves again!  I don't know if this made sense to you, but we're finding it a very stress-free way of shopping.  We definitely don't have the money to do huge shopping trips all the time, so this is a way of spreading out our budget and building our pantry at the same time.

I know we don't want to think this way, but "what if" there is another Depression?  Wouldn't it be wise to begin "storing in the summer" when there are still things to be found rather than wait and be desperate?    And yes, of course, I'm a believer in that God will provide - but I also believe that He wants us to use the brains that He gave us.  : )

I hope this was of some help to you.  And you may already be doing this so I'm probably preaching to the choir!!!  : )  I do hope you have a good day today.  Thank you SO much for dropping by because I DO appreciate it when you do.  God bless!

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Flowers For All of You Moms Out There!


Just a little photo gallery for all you mom's today.  : )  

The details of all the flowers never fails to amaze me and how God's handiwork is in each and every one of them.  Just like us!  God created us different from one another and in His eyes we are unique and fearfully and wonderfully made.  God loves you, mom's out there!!!!!!  I pray you have a great day even though, for some of us, it WILL be a bit different.  We're never truly alone.  God bless your day!!!!!!!!!!  : )


Saturday, May 9, 2020

A Cloudy, Cold, Saturday Morning

Mother's Day Lilies.  : )  A touch of Spring in the house.

Brrrrrrrr......................!  It is definitely not May-like outside.  For the next couple of days there are frost/freeze warnings - another good reason to wait to plant many things outside right now!  In our area, the weather can be very fickle.  We enjoyed warm temperatures last week and now rain mixed with snow is in the forecast.  I only have one thing that I need to cover up - everything else can withstand the cold (I hope).  The lettuce and spinach and garlic are peeking out right now which makes me happy.  Is it just me, or is anyone else amazed at how we plant these tiny seeds in soil and they become something to eat?  : )

All of the hostas we divided and re-planted are up and growing very well.  My neighbor gave me one of her Jack-in-the-pulpit plants last year and it truly looked like it died, but this year it's up and gorgeous!  I will need to go around the yard and take photos of how everything is coming up (whether you want to see them or not! LOL).  The plants that come up year after year are amazing to me and they're like old friends that can be depended on.  As I look out the window right now, the green grass is soothing to the eyes, the trees bursting with leaves, our apple tree is loaded with blossoms, the azalea is loaded with buds, our neighbor's lilac bush is about to blossom, the peonies are up and the buds will open soon - isn't it a gift to our senses after a long winter?  I think so.  : )

I was hoping by the time Saturday rolled around, I would have a lot to share with you but this week has been a lot about planning and paper work and correspondence with a bit of homey things in between.  I had my daily lists that I would add to and some things I did get around to but there were a lot I didn't, so today is pretty much sharing what I WANT to do rather than what I DID do!

A thrifty idea that I wanted to share with you is, that if you use bar soap (and I know a lot of people don't - it's usually body wash or soap in a dispenser) it's a good idea to save all those soap scraps in a container and then when you have enough, melt them and make them into new bars:

This is a double boiler that I use only for melted soap or wax for candles.  But look at all those little bars of soap that most of us just throw away - they can also be used in homemade powdered detergent (but for use in hot water laundry only so that they melt).  I find that these soaps take a while to melt so be patient if you try this.

Another thing I've been doing, is that when going through some of my crafty things, I found leftover cotton yarn that I had, once, crocheted dish rags with - so I'm using those up right now (one dishrag done and now working on a second and I think I might have enough for a third).  Using things up right now is kind of a priority with me especially if it's something that can be made for daily use.

Unfortunately, with allergy season upon us (all those trees and bushes and grasses are beautiful but they sure can cause discomfort!) every year at this time I find that I have to stop hanging laundry outdoors until it all settles down.  I have pine allergies and we have one right outside our back door and right over the spot our clotheslines are!  It won't last long, but I miss hanging the laundry out - mostly the smell when you bring the laundry in.  Mmmmm..................  : )

Well, all I can tell you now is what I'm PLANNING on getting done today and the upcoming weekend and week ahead:

*For Mother's Day tomorrow, the menu is:

Sloppy Joes
Potato salad
Savory corn
Homemade chocolate ice cream for dessert

And, THAT is what will get me into the kitchen today.  Again, I love food from scratch (no Manwich for the sloppy joes, no potato salad from the deli, no ice cream from the store) - it just tastes so much better and I know everything that is put into each thing (especially love).  : )  The ONLY problem with the above menu is that it is a warm-weather menu and tomorrow is going to be anything but warm!  Oh well.  This will also be taken to our son and "daughter" so they can enjoy it too - what a different kind of Mother's Day this year, isn't it?  But there is some peace in knowing that we are all safe and healthy so far and that, because of technology, we will be able to "be with them" at some point in the day - better than nothing, right?  

We are still building our pantry doing a little shopping on a regular basis.  If there is one thing that we should have learned, or are still learning from all of this, is that ANYTHING can happen and it can happen quickly leaving us to scramble around trying to find things that are in short supply or may not find them at all!  The stores right now are getting some things back (with limited supply) so if we can take advantage of this time now and build the pantry now, the Fall and Winter months will be provided for in case this turns on us again.  Our co-op actually had yeast in bulk!  I usually do a lot of quick breads, but last week for our Lasagne meal I was able to make a couple of small French loaves to go with it.  It's those little things, isn't it?  : )

The other thing we bought at the co-op in bulk is split peas.  We love split pea soup in the Winter and I've always wanted to try the "dry canning" method of preserving certain food and I thought that split peas would be a good place to start.  I need to get around to that so I'll try to remember to let you know how it went.  Dry canning is good for things such as pasta, white rice, dried beans, rolled oats, dehydrated fruits and vegetables, soup peas, flour, lentils, cereals without nuts or raisins, cornmeal, bread mixes, cake mixes, quinoa, white or powdered sugar, and dehydrated dairy products.  Isn't that wonderful?  And once these things are dry-canned they are shelf-stable for years!  Perfect for such a time as this when everything is so uncertain as to our food supplies and how long we will be able to buy certain things.  I'm looking forward to giving it a try.

Disinfectant wipes are still hard to find so I still need to make these by tearing up old sheets and making the solution and putting them into containers - another thing on my list!  : )  What I'm thinking lately, though, about all of this disinfecting is that we need to pray for wisdom and discernment in this.  Too much washing and disinfecting will lead to weakening our immune system - we are literally washing away the good bacteria that helps us build up immunity to germs!  So, it's a fine line of washing enough to protect us and washing too much to harm us.  Good grief.

On Pinterest the other day I finally found a face mask pattern that I can actually follow and understand.  LOL  When it comes to directions on certain things, I've always felt I have this blockage in my brain for understanding what in the world they're talking about!  But this one was (looked) easy so that is another thing on my list.  I like the idea of being able to wash them.  But seriously, is anyone, besides me, getting tired of putting a face mask on?  Whether they do any good is questionable, but doing it for others that feel it is doing some good - giving them some peace of mind - is a good reason to do it.  Also, there are places now that insist so we don't have a choice, do we?

Lastly, I still have an area in the back of our yard that needs some cleaning up so that is on my trusty list.  I didn't get outside much this past week so I'm hoping by Monday I'll be able to get out there and finish up.  And then there are already weeds from the already-cleaned-up areas that need tending - all of it is good though.  Like I always say, it's good to be busy and have more than enough things to do.  It makes these days go by quickly and it's nice to have more things to look forward to.

So...........I think that's about it for this day.  For someone who didn't think she had anything to post about, I guess I did!  I'm looking forward to trying more things and taking photos to share with you next time.  In the mean time, I wish all of you Moms out there a very "HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY" tomorrow.  I know it's different but it's still a day that can be celebrated.  Do something for yourself if you find it lonely - craft, read, cook, sew, garden - whatever it is.  Honor your own mom whether she is still alive or not.  Most of all, lift the moms in prayer - it's not an easy job, especially if she doesn't have the support she needs.

Thank you SO much for dropping by - I appreciate all of you.  I wish you a very good day and hope you will keep busy and then give yourself permission to relax as well.  We're all in this together!!!  God bless you and yours.  : )

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

God Bless America

America's Heartland.

Coming home from grocery shopping today, they were playing "God Bless America" on the radio and it touched my heart - especially now.  Get your singing voice on and join in.  : )

God bless America,
land that I love. 
Stand beside her,
and guide her,
through night with The 
Light from above.

From the mountains,
to the prairies,
to the oceans,
white with foam!

God bless America,
my home sweet home!

God bless America
my home

Also, a quick reminder - get your hearts ready for this Thursday, May 7th, for the National Day of Prayer!!!!!!!!!!!!  Put your knee pads on if you need them and let's lift our prayers up for our country to our Father in Heaven.  : )  

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Maintaining Our Nests

I love the softness of the old "Victoria" photos - so very pretty.  : )

Hello!  I am pleased to say that I have quite a bit for you today.  It has been a week of getting things  done which I am always glad of - especially nowadays.  Nothing like keeping busy!  So, if you can grab a favorite beverage and sit back and relax for a moment, I hope I can come up with some ideas for you all.  : )

The title to my post came to my mind the other day while I was cleaning.  I thought back to the night before our son was born (almost 31 years ago now).  I was one week overdue and my husband had a meeting that night so I was in our little apartment feeling the need to really clean.  To really move things around.  To really get the baby's room ready.  That nesting instinct kicked in and it felt wonderful.  Well, little did I know that at midnight I was on my way to the hospital and the next day our baby was born!

That nesting instinct is strong and it prepared me and got me ready for when we would bring this new little person into our home.  And I have to say, that nesting instinct has stayed with me ever since.  I always have this desire to keep our home ready - ready for us to relax in, ready for us to work in, ready for other people to come in (not now unfortunately.....but I'll keep it ready).  : )

And that's what we do, isn't it?  Our homes are our "nests" that we keep working on and making them safe, and warm, and comfortable.  With this stay-at-home, my way of trying to keep it cheery is:

*diffusing essential oil both upstairs and downstairs - I love to mix it up - seasonal scents or oils that help in killing germs.
*lighting candles - especially on darker, rainy days or in the evening.
*keeping key lights on - again, on darker or rainy days to give the affect of sunshine and brightness since that helps in our mood.
*playing classical music - I am SO surprised at what a calming effect this has.
*opening windows to hear the beautiful birdsong and letting the fresh air in.
*cooking and baking so that if feels like "Grandma's house" where everyone felt cozy and comfortable and relaxed.  

There were a couple of days this past week where I just had to stop and thank God for His provision of feeling content.  Because I long for the days gone by when things were simpler and slower, He gave me a couple of "old-fashioned" days where I just felt almost transported back to when I was a child.  Where:

*some planting of a few gardens took place.
*cleaning up areas of the yard took place (at a slow pace).
*laundry was hung up on the line.
*supper was slow cooking in the oven.
*a cold beverage was sipped slowly for a little break.
*bringing the crocheting project out on the patio while catching some sun.

It doesn't seem like much, but felt like it.  If just made me feel so taken care of.  I was reminded that God DOES care about these little things so we can feel a bit better when going through times as these.  : )

We have also been working on deepening our pantry.  Cleaning off more shelves in the basement and organizing what we have and writing down what we need to fill in.  During this process, I found a few items that needed to be used up (I always love) - so this weekend I will be making Lasagne for our Sunday meal (using up the noodles that I found), I made homemade salsa (using up the Rotel tomatoes that I found), and will be making 3 separate recipes not sure yet which ones (using up the 3 cans of evaporated milk that I found).  Other than that, everything else is still okay for a year or more.

This week has been more about being in the kitchen than anything else making:

*2 hamburger helper mixes (one I'm going to share with you)
*crockpot taco meat
*homemade salsa
*a pecan pie (using up leftover pecans in the fridge)
*crockpot stuffing (using up leftover bread in the freezer)
*homemade pancake syrup
*oatmeal packets for breakfast for the week
*pickled red onions for a tasty condiment with burgers and hot dogs
*homemade ice cream for our Sunday meal

I really would encourage you to use this "at-home" time to build your pantries up.  Now that store shelves are looking much better, using this time to create your own little store at home is such a good idea.  What I like to do is go through ALL my recipes and write down important ingredients I need in order to prepare the recipe with.  There are SO many things we can make at home if we would just be consistent in keeping the ingredients on our shelves.  Here is a list (not all inclusive) of what I tend to make myself instead of buying:

*salad dressings
*ketchup (although I do tend to keep a bottle or two on the shelf)
*whipped cream
*cake flour
*pancake syrup
*gravy mixes
*coffee creamer
*dill dip seasoning
*"cream-of" soups
*pizza dough and pizza seasoning mix
*French fried onions
*self-rising flour
*brownies and cookies
*ice cream
*taco seasoning mix
*bread, muffins, etc.
*flour tortillas

And I'm sure there are more.  But if you look at your recipes and always keep the ingredients on hand, you can whip something up in no time.  I really do love this - another way of keeping things "old-fashioned" and homey.   It gets us into the kitchen and giving us the hands-on time that can be very good for us.  

I want to share three recipes with you that I make quite often and that we very much enjoy and hope you do as well.  The first is a Hamburger Helper mix that I keep in our pantry at all times.  It is SO easy to put together and it's so easy to make (for one of those nights that you need something in a hurry and you'll know it will be good).


First, you begin by making the mix for your pantry:

In a freezer bag (or jar or whatever container you desire), put in 1 cup rice, 1 Tbsp. of cornstarch, 1 Tbsp. of chili powder, 1 tsp. onion powder, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. sugar.  That's it! Now just sit it on your pantry shelf until you're ready to use!

When you are ready to use it:

Brown 1 pound of hamburger - drain.  Add 21/4 cups hot water and 1/2 cup milk, 1 can of stewed tomatoes, and pour in your rice/seasoning mix.  Stir well and let it come to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer until rice is cooked and liquid has thickened.  Near the end of cooking, add 1 cup of cheddar cheese and stir until melted and blended in.  SO easy.  : )

I always have rice and seasonings on hand, so you can see all I need to remember is to have canned stewed tomatoes on hand (which I do) and cheese in the freeze (which I do as well).  Quick and easy meal.  The way we like to serve this is to put the hamburger/rice on our plates and then top it with lettuce, sour cream, and a little taco sauce (which you can also make from scratch) and then eat it with crunchy tortilla chips - the crunchy, salty-ness of the chips with the soft, savory-ness of the mix is very good.  Fresh fruit on the side and your meal is complete!  : )

I have enough yeast for now so I really haven't noticed if stores are carrying it yet or not, but for those days of a non-yeast bread, this is our go-to for soups and/or salad meals.  It's not a sandwich bread but this bread has a sweetness to it that works SO well with savory meals and it freezes well if you find you can't eat it up.


2 1/2 cups flour, sifted
3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. veg. oil
1 1/4 c. milk
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a loaf pan.  Mix all ingredients on medium speed for 30 seconds - pour in loaf pan and bake for 55 - 65 minutes.  Let cool before cutting.

Again, how easy is that!!!!!  It really is good comfort food.  : )

Salad dressing is one of those items that I have on my "make your own" list.  Again, so easy to make and no strange ingredients.  Here is a favorite:


1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Place all ingredients into a large jar and shake till combined.  Store in fridge - will keep for a couple of weeks!  

I hope you can try and enjoy these recipes and then let me know what YOU think.  : )

Lastly, since it IS May (can you believe it?) I have our May to-do's for us to think about and hopefully get to.  Some will not pertain to all of us, but I hope you can do what you can do and keep "maintaining your nests":

*change the furnace/air conditioning filter
*keep decluttering!  Even though the thrift stores are closed right now, it's a good time to get ready for when they do.  Never stop going through stuff to get rid of.  What we have in our homes should be what we need and what we use.  If there is anything sitting around that we haven't even looked at in years, it just might need to go.  This goes for our shelves, our cabinets, our drawers, our closets, our sheds, our garages, our basements...................
*flip your mattress (if you can) and wash all the bedding
*begin planting something - early season things - last week I got the garlic in, the green onions, the lettuce, and the spinach.  All other things should wait a while yet.  My mom had such prolific, beautiful gardens and I don't ever remember her planting until Memorial Day weekend and she never started plantings either, yet everything worked out.  : )  I encourage you in this - don't let limited space deter you from planting.  Plants in pots and window boxes work out very well.  It's one more thing that can keep us occupied right now.
*check your tires, fluid levels, and belts on the car(s)
*stock up on sunscreen for the upcoming summer months
*check your gutters for the upcoming Spring/Summer rains and clean them out regularly
*ventilate your basement - open the windows down there too!
*do what you can to keep bugs at bay - make your own bug repellent or buy something - nothing ruins a day outdoors than bugs!
*wash/clean/vacuum your rugs regularly - with all the walking in and out of the house all day long I find I need to do this all the time!!
*pretty up your patio/yard/balcony with a few outdoor solar lights - or if you can hang lights up that would be great.  We did that in our backyard and it just gives a little cheer.  We went walking around sunset last night and noticed that quite a few people have done that in their yards and it gave a very calming yet festive touch.
*organize and clean out the garage/shed
*fertilize your lawn (if you care about that kind of thing - my husband does - LOL)
*plan your Mother's Day - unfortunately this year, Mother's Day is going to be very different for a lot of mom's.  Personally, I would rather receive real hugs and have my family here but it can't be - so maybe planning ahead for this day would be wise so it doesn't get us down.  What can we do to take care of the time that will be given?  Can you write things down that will help and then carry them through?
*wash/repaint walls in your house

Wow.  That's quite the list!!!!!!  But, to me, that's okay.  We have this whole month at home anyway so we might as well use the time to take care of what God has given us.  : )

And, then, if you would like to give yourself a little tea time this month, here is what I have written down as a May theme:

*Decorate with your pretty teacups and balloons
*Serve your favorite tea with ladyfingers, chocolate cake, and lemon tea cookies (all of which can be made at home)
*Play Mozart, Bach, and Strauss in the background

That is it for this day!  It's a lot, so just pick and choose what jumps out at you.  Like I say, and truly believe it, doing something is better than doing nothing.  Work is good for us.  Keeping our hands and minds busy right now is a VERY good thing!  : )  God bless you all and thank you SO much for stopping by - I hope I didn't ramble too much.  LOL  Bye!