Friday, September 24, 2021

September Newsletter Part 2


Another Autumn puzzle framed and hanging in the dining room.  : )

It's official.  It's Autumn.  It's cool.  It's cozy.  It's time to bake.  It's time for hot comfort food.  It's time for fire nights.  It's time to decorate.  It's time to plan.  It's time to clean.  It's time to organize things.  And I'm ready.  I hope you can grab a cup of coffee or tea and read my second post for the month of September!  : )

Ever since we had our first cool snap, my mind has been going in all directions.  I, all of sudden, want to do everything.  And I have to admit I'm kind of driving myself crazy because I can't seem to do everything I want to do.  So..........I have to step back, take a breath, and make my lists.  And then prioritize those lists and then jump in.  I'm not taking my own advice in that, right now, I'm looking at the big picture and it seems overwhelming instead of breaking all these things I want to get done down into do-able jobs.  So, after I'm finished with this post, that's exactly what I'm going to do!!!!  : )

I have been getting into the kitchen which feels good again.  Not that I took the whole summer off or anything like that, but in the summer I tend to plan cold, quick meals that go better with the heat.  Now I am cooking and baking and getting to my mixes for the pantry.  I do have a few recipes to share with you (most with photos - one not - sorry).  I don't have as many as I thought I would but it's a start.  : )

Because no one in our family went to the State Fair this year, we decided to have "Fair Food Night" in our backyard with "Fire Night" combined.  We did this last year (because the Fair was cancelled) so we thought we'd do it again.  Here was our menu:

This went outside where we were serving everything and then we just picked something off the list, made it, and ate it!  The cheese curds I bought frozen and then we just deep-fried them outside (what is fair food without deep-frying?).  We never did get to the hot sugar donuts.  I made the onion strings (recipe below) and we deep-fried those as well (really good).  We cooked the hot dogs on a camp stove.  We never got around to the corn dogs either.  And then I made my homemade chocolate chip cookie dough and baked them towards the end of the evening so we could have them fresh from the oven (with lots of milk).  : )   The only thing that isn't on this menu is Fried Green Tomatoes which our daughter-in-law brought for all of us to try (yes, we deep-fried those too!).  My goodness they were good so we'll have to remember that for next year.  It was a lot of fun.  We just made one thing at a time, went and sat by the fire to enjoy it and then went on to the next and played a trivia game in between eating.  : )

Our camper was the cooking and serving spot.

We were out until midnight!

Our next planned "event" is outdoor movie night.  We purchased a movie projector that plays DVD's and we already have a screen, so we're looking forward to that as well.  The menu for that night is Walking Tacos with sodas, the old-fashioned theatre candy you can buy at the Dollar Tree, and popcorn, of course.  : )  We'll also have the hot sugar donuts that we didn't get around to on Fair Night.

I encourage you to plan fun things with your family this fall.  Good memories.  

Here is the recipe for the onion strings - (I believe this is from the Pioneer Woman)

ONION STRINGS (no photo)

1 whole large onion
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 quart (to 2 quarts) canola oil
black pepper to taste

Slice the onion very thin and place in baking dish.  Cover with buttermilk and soak for at least an hour.

Combine dry ingredients and set aside.

Heat oil to 375 degrees.

Grab a handful of onions and put them into the flour mixture.  Tap to shake off excess.  Put them into the hot oil and fry for a few minutes and remove as soon as they are golden brown.  I put them on a paper-towel-lined plate to soak up any grease.  Repeat with other onions until they are all fried up.  SO good.  : )

Saturday nights around here are usually our Asian-inspired nights.  I think it all started when we used to get Chinese take-out on Saturday nights, but now I would much rather cook the meals myself.  I have a wonderful chicken wing recipe (which, I'm sure, is basically how everyone does it - but just in case...).


Chicken wings
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup water
1 cup soy sauce (I use the low-sodium)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice

Mix these ingredients together and pour into a ziploc bag.  Add your chicken wings and marinate overnight.  When ready to bake, drain wings (discard liquid), and place them on a rack over a 9 x 13 baking sheet covered with foil on the bottom to catch the drips.  Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

Oh yummy.  Hope you can give these a try.

The next Asian-inspired meal was this:


Mix this sauce in a medium bowl and set aside:

4 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. honey
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
2 Tbsp. ketchup
2 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 Tbsp. Hoisin sauce

In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. oil on medium high heat.  Stir in one bunch of green onions (I think I used about 6) and 4 cloves of garlic (minced) and cook for 1 minute.   Stir in 1 lb. of shrimp that has already been cooked, peeled, and tails removed and stir so shrimp is covered in the oil.  Stir in the above sauce mix and cook and stir until bubbly and thickened.  Serve over rice.  Again, SO good!  : )

It's SO very important, when cooking, to prepare all of your ingredients ahead of time - especially with Asian food because it's mostly just adding one ingredient after another and stir-frying - it won't wait for you to get the next ingredient ready.  The prep work is actually enjoyable.  It helps you to slow down and enjoy the process of cooking.  The reward for your work is a great meal!!!!  : )

On Tuesdays around here it's Mexican night - not just Taco Tuesday anymore.  I tried a new recipe that I've had in my "to try" box and last Tuesday was the night!  It is also meatless which we don't do very often so it was a nice change.  Here it goes:


1 cup cooked rice (I used white)
1/2 red onion, peeled and diced
1 red pepper, peeled and diced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 1/2 cups salsa or enchilada sauce (I used salsa, now I'm looking forward to the enchilada sauce)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
12 soft tortilla shells

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Toss the sweet potato w/olive oil, salt and pepper and put on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and add the red pepper and red onion - toss well and bake for 15 minutes more.  Put this mixture into a large bowl and add cooked rice, black beans and 1 cup salsa.  Mix well.

Prepare a large casserole or baking dish by pouring in 1 cup salsa or enchilada sauce on bottom and spread evenly.  Put about 1/3 cup of filling onto each tortilla and sprinkle w/cheese and roll them up.  Place seam side down and top with remaining salsa and cheese.

Bake, covered, for 30 minutes or till heated through.

I served these with sour cream and sliced green onions.  Tortilla chips and salsa on the side.

Yes.  They were great.  : )

Now, for my last recipe, it's cookie time!!!!!  I just took a photo of the recipe instead of writing it all out, so I hope you can read it.  If not, just let me know.

These tasted like fall.  Not only pumpkin, but molasses as well.  Best of both worlds!!!!!  : )

Soft and chewy.  You have to sneak one right after they come out of the oven.  Make sure you have your cup of coffee too.  And if you want to make your house smell good.............these are it.

That is it for recipes this time.  I'm continuing to try new recipes and then make sure I keep on making the old tried and true as well.  Hopefully the next time I post I will have even more for you.  : )

One new thing I did in our home is transition a tiny bedroom into a pantry.  I had been going into this bedroom and just thinking that it was such a wasted space.   It had my "office" space in one small corner but then it was just a bed and a small dresser with a few shelves.  SO, we took the bed out and now it's a pantry.  Not a pantry that holds food but a pantry that holds all my appliances and other things that my tiny kitchen wouldn't hold and those things that I was tired of going up and down the stairs to get.  It's just right down the hall from the kitchen so it's easy peasy to get to things.  Here are a few photos:

I feel it's a very workable space now.  Everything in cabinets and drawers - out of the way, yet easily accessible.  The Keurig is fun in here - it feels like a B & B where I can sip coffee in my mother-in-law's rocker and peruse a cookbook.  I'm so happy with the way it came out - no wasted space anymore.  With a small home I feel I need every room to work for us.  We don't have the luxury of too much space so it does need to work.  

Along with the rest of you, I've been trying to put little bits of fall touches in the home.  Some old and familiar - some new for a change.  But it comes with the changing of the seasons - I feel it's an important thing to do in our homes - I'll share a bit of home with you:

new potpourri

a little dollar store find

fake flowers but pretty nonetheless

a photo of a past pumpkin carving party

a bit of cute

in the living room

over the couch

an added touch

my favorite spot to sit and write

above the sink in the kitchen

I've just started outdoors, so I'm not ready to show photos of that yet.  The scarecrows have to go up, buy a few mums and pumpkins, maybe a couple of signs.........    : )

The YouTube channel I am now hooked on is called "Whippoorwill Holler" with Miss Lori and Mr. Brown.  You just have to tune in and watch.  They are just simple folk, wonderful people, and it's just a joy to watch and listen to. 

The book I'm now reading is:

like I've said before, I work like crazy in the morning when I have energy, we have lunch at noon, and then I treat myself to reading for about a half an hour.  I received this book as one of my birthday books and I'm about half way done.  Good so far!!!

I'm pretty sure that's about it for this post!!!  Thank you SO much for taking the time and visiting me.  I appreciate it when you do.  I hope this is finding all of you doing okay and staying well and planning on enjoying this time of year.  We all know that the holidays are right around the corner and I'm getting excited for that too.  I hope you all, as homemakers, remember to keep your home bright.  To celebrate in ways that you may not have thought of before.  Make your home enjoyable.  Let's get back to living after feeling like we've been on hold for so long.  Remember the old ways and bring them back - simple living, good food, laughter.  Let that be enough and enjoy the life God has given us.  We are blessed in SO many ways - let's begin to count the blessings!  : )

God bless you all and I'll see you next month!




Saturday, September 11, 2021

September Newsletter Part 1


For those who think that patriotism is dead, it's not.

I think I would be amiss if I didn't begin this post by remembering 9/11.  To say it was an awful day for our country would be an understatement.  It truly did change everything.  We remember, today, the families of those who lost their lives in an act of terrorism.  Remember when members of Congress stood on the steps of the Capitol and sang "God Bless America"?   We'll never see THAT again.

I remember being glued to the television set until my mind just couldn't handle it anymore.  I remember going out for my morning walk in the silence of it all.  No air traffic except for the occasional fighter jet so high in the sky you could barely hear him.  Feeling like nothing would be the same.  

Our prayers go out to those who have spent the last 20 years in grief and sorrow - which, in a way, is all of us, isn't it?   Maybe WE are the ones, today, that will sing "God Bless America" - how much more, at this point in history, do we need God's blessing!!!! we are........September.  At least, around here anyway, we've been getting the needed rains and the temperatures have lowered, and the skies are smoke free now.  The grass is green again and whatever flowers made it through the summer are perking up.  The only thing now to contend with outdoors are the bees!  Not those sweet, fat, little bumblebees but the wasps who want to bug you and irritate you and want to sting you!!!  SO hard to do anything outdoors without them buzzing around and aggravating us.  There's always something to complain about, isn't there?!

I guess I will begin by highlighting our little trip out to South Dakota:

all set up and ready to head out - the camper looks so long on this photo but it's really not.

I'll stop here for a moment and say that getting out of the city and into the wide open countryside was exactly what the doctor ordered.  Oh my goodness.  I felt the stress leave me at once and the farm fields were beautiful.  Driving through small towns with the simplicity instead of extravagance.  I actually took a few notes while we were driving about how some things don't change and I REALLY needed to be reminded of that.  Here are a few things that I wrote down:

*Every August, the monarch butterflies come through - that didn't change - it was beautiful.
*Every Fall, the different birds start flying through and other birds are grouping - that didn't change - it was fun seeing them.
*Every Fall, the cornfields are waiting to be harvested - that didn't change - they still patiently stood waiting.
*And, like I said, the small towns - they didn't change - all were exactly as we remembered them almost two years ago.

With the grouping of the flags at the top of this post, we were SO surprised to see that patriotism is not dead.  Because living in the city and hearing the local news, one would think that it is.  We are led to believe that people don't care any more.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  The moment we left the city we saw more flags than ever.  We saw LOTS of Trump signs!  We went from a blue state into a red state and it was even more noticeably different.  To tell you the truth, it was difficult to come back to this city of ours where everything seems so upside down.

we ate a restaurant where not only did they fly the flag outside, but had one displayed when you first came in and then this one was in the room we ate in!!!!  : )

our whole reason for going out to South Dakota was for this - this sign will be at each end of the Missouri River bridge in honor of my stepsisters and stepbrothers dad who served (and died in France) in WWII.

this is a photo of my mom, her husband, and four children on the day he left to serve his country not knowing that he would never return. 

We went through the town that I grew up in and stopped at the park that I played at every day.  The park that I lived right across the street from.  Our house is no longer there but, oh, it brought back lots of memories.

this used to be over the highway until they widened it and now it sits in the park - I'm SO glad they saved it.

It's funny, but every time we use the camper, it is a lesson learned at how little we need.  That little camper has two beds that fold out, it has a "dining area", a "kitchen", a "bathroom", and a little closet to hang things up in.  Everything is scaled down to size but when living in it you realize that  you don't need much more than that.  When we get home, our tiny home seems huge (especially the bathroom)!  And then that makes us grateful too.  : )

And now we are home.  Back to it.  Time for Fall cleaning.  Time for cleaning the yard up.  Time to bring out the Fall decorations.  Time for everything pumpkin.  Now with no smoke in the air, time to hang the laundry out again.  Time to cook again and try new recipes.  

Just a few extra things that I wrote down for this newsletter:

*Two new podcasts that I'm watching are - 
Country Stitchers - they do everything crosstitch which I used to do and now they are motivating me to bring it back!  I listen to them while I embroider.  I just find it nice to sit and stitch while they talk.
Lori Holt - she does everything! Stitches, quilts, crochets - you name it, I think she does it.

I would encourage you, again, to keep learning new things.  Or pick up what you used to do if you find pleasure in it.  I will say that crafting and stitching is good if you find that depression creeps up on you.  

*With the holidays right around the corner, begin your lists and begin saving all the change and dollar bills that you get back while shopping.  That change and those dollar bills add up quickly!!!

And, about Christmas.........please don't be so foolish as to repeat what's being said about Christmas being cancelled!  It cannot be cancelled.  Christ's birth is what Christmas is all about and that will always stay the same.  Yes, we do need to start shopping for what we might want and need but, really, so what if it means that we aren't going to get what we are normally used to?  The important thing is that God sent Jesus into the world, we can have our family and/or friends in, we can enjoy some good food together, we can still decorate with what we have, we can play games and listen to the wonderful music of the season.  Keeping it simple, yet meaningful.  We can do this!!!!!  : )

*I got a MAJOR surprise this past week!!!!  We have friends who are missionaries in Poland and I had NO idea that they were coming back for a short visit.  Well......a knock came and when I went to the door, I was totally surprised!!!!  Such a nice surprise.  And a great visit.  : )

A couple of photos to share:

if you can believe this - this is a library!!!!  I believe it's the smallest library in the U.S.  It's in the town that my sister lives in.  Isn't it cute?  I want it in my back yard!

these murals were all along the gymnasium that we were in - beautiful!

the Missouri River in South Dakota.

after the rains - I always think of Noah and the promise of God.

lastly, the September page on our kitchen calendar.  : )

I think that's about it!!!!!  Hopefully, in Part 2 I will have some yummy recipes for you.  I'm getting my desire for cooking/baking back after such a hot summer, so we'll see!!!!!  : )  

Thank you so much for being here with me.  I appreciate that you took the time to visit.  God bless your day, weekend ahead, and God Bless America!!!  Bye.