Saturday, June 20, 2020

Sunny Saturday

I LOVE arranging flowers - even IF they aren't real.  : ) we are - another Saturday!  As I look out my window, it is green, green, green.  We started the week with hot, humid, weather and then it rained Thursday evening, cooled down and dried out yesterday, and now today looks promising with pretty much the same as yesterday.  : )  Another good day to get out a bit.  

I say it ALL the time but the months are flying by.  It's the first day of Summer already (even though it's already been summery) and tomorrow is Father's Day.  I know that Father's Day is either a sad day or it's a happy day or it's a bittersweet day.  I won't go into all the aspects of that because how we feel about our dads is a very personal feeling.  Some are still with us, some are not.  But it's a day of honoring them whatever that looks like to you.  Yesterday we began the day by buying flowers for my husband's dad's grave to honor him.  My dad is buried in my hometown of South Dakota so I hardly ever get to go there.  Tomorrow our son and his wife will come over for brunch (outdoors of course) to celebrate here before they leave and go and prepare a meal for her side of the family.  : )  Our meal for tomorrow includes:

*English muffin breakfast pizzas - these are SO good.  All you do is toast English muffins, drizzle a little olive oil on top, add a slice of tomato, next add a few slices of hard-boiled egg, and then top with a sprinkling of shredded Mozzarella cheese.  Pop them into the oven for a few minutes until all melty and serve warm.  I usually serve 2-3 (halves) per person.  They are delicious and actually quite pretty in presentation.  BUT.......because there is no meat on these (and men need the meat) I will also serve:
*Homemade sausage patties and bacon slices.
*Yogurt parfaits - taking a small canning jar and layering yogurt, fresh berries, and granola on top.
*A variety of sweets - poppy seed muffins, coffeecake, and cinnamon rolls
*A variety of juice and coffee.

We usually like to play a game of some kind when we're together so I'm thinking of putting up the bean bag toss.  After that, and before they leave, I will serve:
*Homemade no-churn chocolate ice cream with caramel sauce on top and then sea salt on top of that!

That's the plan anyway!!!!!  : )  We all know how plans can change.  

I hope you can make the day special, in some way, as well.   Again, I know there are a lot of emotions associated with this, so also give yourself permission to feel what you feel and then keep going.

The next plan for this month (the 28th) is our son's 31st birthday.  When I say this I can't believe it - where DID those years go?  But since he is now married, as moms we all know that we now have to leave it up to their wives to plan something!  We no longer take the reins and plan it (no matter how hard we want to!) - we just wait and do whatever we can to help.  : )

And, then........after that.........(can you believe it?) - making plans for the 4th of July!!!!!!!  My birthday is on the 3rd so that is when we usually get together, but really - July 4th already?  I'm assuming there will be no fireworks this year because of all the virus restrictions, so we are tossing back and forth as to whether or not we should buy some backyard fireworks this year.  We'll see.  But, most likely, we'll have a backyard BBQ and play some games.  Just being together (outside) is what I look forward to.  I haven't made any set plans or meal ideas yet, so I would love to hear what your family does and serves for the holiday!!!!!  SO fun to learn from each other.  : )

Since the week was hot, again I was in the kitchen.  I'm hearing this from a lot of people - that because of our staying home, the kitchen has been the place to be.  I keep working from my list of to bake/to make for freezer items and it has already proved to be working.  I look at what I'm serving for supper in the morning and then just go downstairs and pull what I need from the pantry shelves and freezer and it frees my mind for the rest of the day, knowing that I have the meal already planned out.

Also being indoors because of the heat (heat and humidity is hard for me) I found an idea for helping out Senior citizens in their isolation.  It is called "Letters of Love" - where you send cards and letters to them so they feel connected to someone.  Through all of this they feel so lonely right now.  Well, I love to make cards so I spent a couple of afternoons doing this and this is what I came up with for now (looking forward to making more!):

sorry about the background - I just put them on an extra bed with this covering on it.  

There are 20 of them in all so I will spend part of this weekend adding Bible verses on note cards to place inside of the cards and then write a little note.  In all honesty, I do hesitate sometimes in telling you about service projects because it always feels like I should just keep these things to myself - kind of what the Bible says (and I'm paraphrasing here) - when you do something don't brag about it but do it in secret so that no one else knows.  The ONLY reason I WANT to mention this is so that it might spark an interest in YOU (or you could pass it along to someone who might be interested) as well.  Is there a nursing home or senior center in your community who could benefit from this project?  You don't HAVE to make the cards (I just enjoy doing it) you can buy the cards.  If you are like me and enjoy going to the mailbox and seeing a card from someone, you can imagine how they might feel about receiving one too.  : )

Before I go, I wanted to mention that while I was looking through all my Bible study notes I found something that is usually applicable for right after Christmas, but really it is applicable all year long and I wanted to share it with you.  I wrote it on a note card a long time ago and so glad I found it again because I want to hang it up as a reminder.  It goes:

"When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,


*To find the lost
*To feed the hungry
*To rebuild the nations
*To bring peace among the people
*To make music in the heart
*To heal the broken
*To release the prisoner (and this, of course, is for those who are in bondage to sin - prisoners of sin)

I think this is truly wonderful.  Isn't this what the world needs right now?  Our world is SO broken that they need someone to do the above and those of us who profess to be Christians are called to this work.  Let us begin today to do SOMETHING that just might make a difference.  

What I'm seeing (and feeling myself) that with this staying home and isolation is that we tend to get the "poor me's" and only think of ourselves as far as what we're missing out of and our own loneliness and our own aggravation of it all, but it's SO much bigger than ourselves because this WILL pass (even though it might take a while) and when it's all said and done what will we have to look back on?  Will we be able to say that we helped someone in some way?  The one sure thing that can be of help to those of us who are VERY tired of all the virus news and social unrest news is to be proactive.

And then the next thing I found was this from Alistair Begg -

"Live for your soul".   

I love that.  Our fading bodies will die some day - it's the soul that lives.  And it's going to either live in heaven or hell depending upon whether or not we have believed in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  Ask Jesus into your life and you will live with Him forever.  : )

I hope you have a good homemaking day today!  Thank you SO much for dropping by because I appreciate it very much.  God bless.  : )

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Staying Diligent at Home

Backyard Peony.  : )

I've been thinking about the word "diligence" in our homemaking lately.  Diligence means "careful attention" and lately I'm thinking that we need to guide our homes with careful attention.  How many of us ever thought that within a matter of a few months our country and our communities would face a virus that would make us rearrange our lives and ways of doing things and then on top of that the social unrest that has destroyed neighborhoods and brought division and upheaval?  But that's exactly what has happened and it's what has brought the word diligent about.

As homemakers we have the awesome responsibility of paying careful attention to our homes and our family.   Diligent in the raising of our children and stop assuming that everyone else will do that for us.  Diligent in building up our homes with hard work, time, and the attention it needs in order for it to run smoothly instead of letting things go and assuming it doesn't matter.  Diligent in taking care of ourselves not only physically, but emotionally and mentally so that we can better take care of others whether that be family, friends, or anyone else that might need us in some way.

This week started out very hot and humid and then by mid-week it cooled down and was beautiful.  So on the hot and humid days I was "diligent" in the kitchen - cooking and baking for the freezer and then writing out a grocery list to keep building our pantry with.  I put emphasis on building the pantry for all of us in these times because I believe it is of upmost importance especially this year.  When this pandemic started we saw runs on the grocery stores and empty shelves and products gone in a matter of a few hours.  Now we are seeing that things are a bit better, but I still see some empty shelves and the products they do carry are on a limited basis.  We can't assume that we won't see a repeat of what happened before.

My ideas for stocking up (and they will probably be different than yours) is to begin with food that you use in all your recipes and meals first.  A couple of months ago, I sat down with my recipe box and cookbooks and wrote down all the meals that we enjoy - chow mein, baked chicken, grilled salmon, potato salad, casseroles.................I came up with almost 50 meals that we like.  Then I wrote down every single ingredient on another list.  The shelf-stable ingredients.  And then I wrote (aisle by aisle - I know I shared this before) of where these ingredients are found at the grocery store and began purchasing them.  Not all at once, of course, but little by little, being "diligent" in our buying and storing them.  Not only food items - I did this with what we need and use daily as well - soap, toothpaste, deodorant, garbage bags, TP!, dish soap, laundry soap............and now I know that on our weekly shopping trips just picking these up and beginning a stocking up helps us to know that we will be taken care of in the future months to come.

If we were totally caught unprepared for everything that has happened, there is no way that we can think that it's over and won't happen again.  I don't mean to be a Johnny raincloud and be all doom and gloom, but we HAVE to prepare.  What we experienced and are continuing to experience is what it should take for all of us to have a plan and carry it out.  

Mid-week when it was nice and cool, I went outside all day - pulling weeds, putting mulch down, taking care of what we already have.  This is another part of diligence.  I totally believe that when we live in a neighborhood, we are to take care of what we have for them as well as for us.  They are the ones who have to look out their windows day after day and see our house and yard.  It wouldn't be very nice if we let it go with weeds and long grass and paint falling off.  So, I try (with my husband) to keep things up.  It's not perfect and there is much that should be done (like a new front sidewalk, and a new backyard patio), but we at least try to keep it clean instead of an eyesore.

When Thursday came around, it was a very different day than the ones before it.  I was diligent about taking care of myself.  I have to admit it was a sad day for me - it seems I can only go so long with all the stuff going on before I find myself just having enough of it all.  A time when I need to pause and stop and and "pretend" there is no such thing as a virus and no such thing as crazy people who are bent on destroying.  So I used that day to do things like read my new book, sit in the sun, do some cross stitch, bake some cookies.  I know it doesn't change anything, but it makes me feel better (for a while).

Yesterday was another beautiful day and because I took Thursday "off" it was time to get things done  and be diligent again in the keeping of the house - so I cleaned the house for the weekend, pulled a few more weeds outside, mended a couple of things and made a good supper before we had our small group on-line.  We ended the evening by going for a walk as the sun went down.

So............I believe diligence pays off.  In taking care of what God has given us - our homes, our family, our lives.  What can you do today in being diligent?  Do you need to build that pantry?  Do you need to clean your home?  Do you need to take care of the outside of your home?  Do you need to take care of yourself?  You know I'm a list maker and I highly recommend it!  Take a moment to stop, grab a beverage and some paper, and start by listing everything you can think of.  If you want to make separate columns that would be great - one for inside the house, one for outside the house, one for yourself, one for the pantry, one for other people, etc.  Do a brainstorming session today.  Look at your calendar and look into the coming months and what you want/need to accomplish.  Without a plan, we plan to fail.  We will be caught unprepared.  If we don't do what we should do now, we will look back and be sad that we let the months go by and haven't accomplished anything and regret is difficult.  It just adds more stress to our lives.  Let the word "diligence" become a part of you in absolutely everything!!!!!!  : )

Thank you so much for dropping by.  I really do appreciate the time you take in doing so.  May God richly bless your homemaking efforts.

More peonies that I cut and brought into the house - this lasted over a week and smelled heavenly.  Wouldn't white peonies be a lovely bridal bouquet?  

Another puzzle my husband put together and framed - this is a summertime theme - again, I want to just jump into that picture and live there - simpler times.

Trying my hand at growing lavender again - it's flowering now and so beautiful and smelling amazing.  God has certainly provided us with so much to enjoy, hasn't He?

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Saturday Morning in June

 The Azalea in the backyard.  : )  Smells heavenly.

Well, to say it has been a stressful couple of weeks in our country and around the world is an understatement.  I do pray for Mr. Floyd's family and for the peace of God to sustain them.  I also pray that people will begin to understand that we are all created by God and in the image of God and that God does not see color, He does not see race, He sees human beings that are deeply loved by Him.  I pray that all of this brings about some kind of change for the good and that evil will not prevail.  But it begins with one person - so let that person be us today.  And then let that spread to the next person, and the next, and the next.................

One thing that I know about myself is that during stressful times, I turn to the kitchen and I turn to getting things done around the house.  I need to occupy the time I've been given and there was no exception during the past couple of weeks.  I feel like I got a LOT done and just wanted to share some of it with you.  I wrote most of it down so I wouldn't forget!  

The weather has been wonderful around here with lots of sunshine and warmth along with timely rains here and there.  Everything is so green and beautiful and the plantings are doing very well.  



The herbs - basil, oregano, sage.

I also have lavender in a pot, and mint in another pot.   The green beans are coming up, the strawberries are doing great, and for the last couple of weeks, while shopping, we were able to just walk by the mixed greens because our first crop of lettuce and spinach was picked and has been enjoyed:

Isn't it beautiful?!  So fresh and good.  The second crop has been planted in it's place and is already coming up for us to enjoy later.  : )

The carrots are also coming up and today I'm planting the tomato and pepper plants (maybe a bit late, but that's okay).  So..........all in all, everything is coming along nicely.  For a non-gardener, this is a VERY big deal!!!!!!!  : )  And I'm such a fan of the square foot gardening system - it just makes such good sense and it works great.

We have a small patch of rhubarb that I have already picked - it never amounts to very much but it's always enough for one pie and that's what we enjoyed last week:

When I was young and in 4-H, I made a rhubarb pie and never won any ribbons on it - but I have a feeling that if I would have had THIS recipe, I would have won something!!!!!  It's SO good.  Here is the recipe:


1, 9-inch unbaked pie shell

1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. flour
2 eggs, beaten
4 cups rhubarb, diced

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
Pinch of salt

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Stir together the dry ingredients for the filling.  Stir in eggs and then rhubarb and mix well.
3.  Pour into unbaked pie shell.
4.  Mix sugar and flour together for topping and using a fork cut in the butter and add salt.
5.  Sprinkle this over top
6.  Bake for one hour.  
7.  Enjoy!!!!!!!!!!  : )  I really do hope you can try this.

Also, beginning this week, I have begun to make sun tea.  We love iced tea in the warm weather, so I bought our Lipton tea bags (there is nothing better than good old black Lipton tea - in our opinion):

If you've never tried sun tea, I highly recommend it.  Just take a glass container (about 2 quarts) and put about 3-4 bags of tea in it (I put a clothespin on the end of strings so that the whole thing doesn't go into the water - only the tea bags are immersed), fill with water, cover with plastic wrap, and set it outside in the sun for about 4-5 hours or until brewed to your preference.  Bring it in, put it in the fridge, and serve over ice when wanted.  It's really very good.  BUT..........we also like our tea sweet, so I'm beginning to make a simple syrup that I keep in the fridge for this very thing.  I don't like just putting sugar in the tea because it seems like it never dissolves, but this syrup is already dissolved and mixes perfectly.  Here is the recipe:


3 cups sugar
3 cups water

Stir together in medium saucepan and bring to boil and cook, stirring often until sugar dissolves (about 3 to 4 minutes).  Remove from heat and let it cool down to room temperature, about 30 minutes.  Store this syrup in airtight container (I use canning jars) and keep in fridge for up to a month (it never lasts that long).  You'll have to experiment with this depending on how sweet you like your beverage, but it's SO easy and SO good and SO summery.  : )

I have a list of to-do's in the kitchen that seems a mile long, but I find that if I can do one, two, or even three of those things every day, it gets done quickly.  I'm still building our pantry and freezer so actually I've been enjoying it immensely.  Again, with everything that's going on, it brings some comfort.  Here is what I've accomplished so far:

*Baked two loaves of French bread for the freezer - these are good for French toast or for when we have a spaghetti supper.
*Baked two dozen dinner rolls for the freezer - these are good for just some nice soft bread with a Sunday meal, or can be made into small sandwiches for lunch.
*I love my pantry mixes so that I can just pour the mix into the bowl when ready and add the wet ingredients and it's done!  So this past week, I made our Applesauce muffin mix, butterscotch pudding mix, a favorite hamburger helper mix, a steak rub mix, salad dressing mixes, and our breakfast oatmeal packets.  They are sitting on the shelves just waiting to be used when the time is right.  I think this is especially important for the summer months when we just want to get in and out of the kitchen.  A little time spent now is a lot of time saved later.  : )
*Baked a banana bread for the freezer from a bunch of overripe bananas we had.
*Baked Orange Creamsicle cupcakes for the freezer - these are SO good.  I don't know where I got the recipe (and I thank whoever is responsible for it) but here it is:

ORANGE CREAMSICLE CAKE (which I made into cupcakes instead)

1 yellow cake mix
1, 12 oz. orange soda
1 egg

Mix these together and either pour the batter into a 9 x 13 pan or cupcake liners and bake according to package directions.  After it has cooled, top with fresh whipping cream and garnish with orange candy slices.  Sooooooooooooo yummy and sooooooooooo summery and soooooooooo easy!!!  : )

I bought lemons this week so on my list for this day, lemon cookies need to be baked for the freezer.  I also need to make some homemade breakfast sausage for the freezer today.  But since it's Saturday, those are the only two things I'm going to do (other than a meal that needs to go into the slow cooker for tonight).  One thing that I've really enjoyed doing is having my iPad on and binge watching Paula Deen cooking shows while I'm in the kitchen.  I absolutely love her laugh and I SO want to talk southern and say "ya'll" all the time!!!!!!  : )

In the evenings when I just can't do any more cooking or cleaning or outdoor work, I've been trying to get into the craft room to just settle me down before bed and work on embellishing a notebook that I bought a long time ago or make some greeting cards, etc.  One project I finished up was this:

Made out of old postage stamps, cardstock, and then framed.  It was a fun project.  : )

And then, I wanted to share my next new book that I bought on-line (because I'm now finished with my last George Eliott book which I, again, truly enjoyed).  Here it is:

I love biographies and when this one popped up and I read all the great reviews, I knew that I had to have it.  It is one of the best books I've read.  I paid more money for this book than I normally would but it is a first edition book written in 1967 and I do not regret buying it.  I SO wish that every single person could have access to this book - it is THAT good.  It should be a must-read in the schools but because God is banned from the public schools, I'm afraid that won't happen because this books tells of how Mr. Carver's faith in God made him into the wonderful man he was.  And he truly was an amazing man!!!!!!  Every day I'm telling my husband the next cool thing that I read - it's hard to put this book down.  So...........the reviews were right and if you can find THIS particular book, buy it!  Make your children and grandchildren read it (better yet, read it to them).  It's inspiring.  It takes a sickly baby who by all accounts should not have lived, a baby born to a slave and grew up with much stacked against him, who defied all odds, the most humble man, and changed so many lives - it's proof that God had a plan for his life and he knew it and he fulfilled it.  Well........I could go on and on.  I just plain love it and I can't wait to meet this awesome man in heaven some day.  : )

Well, now on to the last thing.  The June to-do's:

*weatherstrip your doors/windows
*patch concrete sidewalks
*regrade the foundation
*refinish/paint furniture
*restock first-aid for the car/home
*clean out gutters
*let the fresh air in
*change the furnace filter
*check any caulking inside/out
*weed regularly (which I desperately need to do today!!!!)
*plan for Father's day if appropriate and even plan for the 4th of July - I know that this year will be SO much different but if we plan we can still make it special in some way
*flip your mattress and wash all bedding

And, then, if you are so inclined to a tea party theme, here it is for June:

*have it outdoors, of course (weather permitting)
*decorate with colorful pillows and votive candles
*serve lemon muffins, strawberries, chocolate biscotti, coconut macaroons
*serve variety of hot tea and iced tea
*play Mendelssohn's music in the background

Even if this is just for you, try to stop and make this time special.  We're all going through some very stressful times right now - this kind of thing is good for our mental and emotional health.  Bring out a magazine or book and just enjoy the sunshine.

Lastly, if you live in an area (like we do) that has experienced violence and riots and the destruction of property, ask yourself what you can do to help.  The first thing that I always think of is beginning a food/clothing/household drive.  Can we (either with our churches or in our neighborhoods) ask others to help us in giving to the communities that have lost much?  Or, how about giving financially?  God has given us much, how can we give back?  Just please prayerfully consider this and go about in trying to help someone.

Also, as we know, this virus has kept many people (especially the elderly) inside without much contact with the outside world.  Is there any way that we all might just contact a local senior center or home and ask for the names (first names only of course) of those who are especially lonely and write a letter or send cards?  Sometimes this is all someone needs to know that they are not forgotten.  I know how much pleasure I get in getting something in the mail!!!!!!!  Just a thought.  : )

Well, thank you for so much of your time!!!!  I hope you can enjoy this day and that you enjoy your homes.  God bless you in all your efforts.