Monday, February 20, 2023

Hunkering Down For A Huge Storm


It's quite possible that we will have a repeat of this in a couple of days.

Hello ladies!  As the title of the post says.....we're expecting quite the snowstorm this week.  At first it was going to be about a foot of snow but I just checked again and if this storm stays on track (which I'm hoping it doesn't) we could get up to 25 inches of snow by Friday.  For someone who is pretty much done with winter right now and especially the ice and snow, this isn't good news.  My poor husband.  He's the one with the snow blower and will probably remove snow for three of our neighbors as well.  The ONLY up-side to all of this is that it won't be frigid, but then with mild temps means the snow is going to be wet and heavy, so I'm not sure if I can see anything positive about it!!  LOL

I hope you all have been okay since I last posted.  I've been doing a bit of organizing - especially clothes and accessories.  I went through my shoes and put them in order.  I went through my wardrobe and found only one thing that doesn't fit and will be giving that away but then put my clothes in order going from jeans, to skirts, to jackets and sweaters, to blouses, and then lastly clothes that I only wear when I garden or do other messy work.  I then went to my scarves and belts and purses and organized those, noting that I need to replace my dark brown purse and then went on to clean out the purse I use all the time.  Lastly, I went through jewelry.  I'm not a big necklace person but I do love my earrings (and they have to be silver)!  So I sorted through them as well and tossed two pairs that looked pretty rough, again noting that I should replace at least one of those pair since they were a classic hoop.

I've been starting to shop for Spring/Summer clothes.  That part of my closet is pretty sparse probably because we tend to pull out the cold weather clothes in October and wear them until April, so I don't buy a lot for the warmer weather.  I found a couple of pretty tops but will have to go to the consignment store and see if I can find some skirts.  When the warm weather comes I like my skirts and dresses.  To say that I don't like clothes shopping is an understatement!!!!  I put it off until I can't anymore.

Well in hoping to stick with my new format, I will begin with a book that I finished a couple of weeks ago:


The Willows in Winter

The bread is Lemon Blueberry and the recipe will be below.  The pretty cup and saucer has a little story behind it.  When our son was little, his aunt and uncle were very thoughtful and took him shopping for occasions such as Father's Day, Mother's Day, birthdays, and Christmas.  We would give him a little money so that while they were out and he saw something he could buy it for us.  Well, ninety-nine percent of the time, aunt and uncle had to "add to" the amount we gave because he kept picking out items that were a little on the pricey side!  He, as a grown man, STILL has good taste.  LOL  So, this pretty cup and saucer was a Mother's Day gift from him when he was about 6 or 7.  And the tea I'm drinking is just plain old green tea because I think it pairs so well with the lemon bread.  : )

Now.....on to The Willows in Winter.  Have you read "The Wind in the Willows"?  Well this is a sequel to that written by William Horwood and illustrated by Patrick Benson.  I absolutely loved this book.  You would think that it's a children's book (and it can be) but I think adults would greatly enjoy this as well.  It was a book that I couldn't wait to get to after putting it down.  If you've read the Wind in the Willows you will know the characters by now - Mole, Badger, Otter, Rat, and the VERY naughty Toad.  Well, the character's are back.  Mole gets into trouble during a terrible snow storm and some of the others feel they need to risk their lives in search of him and all that encompasses.  Everyone thinks Toad has changed from his naughty self but proves that he has not and puts others in harm and gets into all sorts of trouble which he does get out of in the end.  You wouldn't think a book like this - one with animals as the main characters - would be exciting reading, but I thought it was.  It is a book about how far one would go to take care of a friend.  It is also a book about forgiveness no matter how frustrating, irritating, and exasperating a friend might be.  

If you were reading to a child (I would say middle school) there are lots of lessons to learn and things to talk about.  Only you, as a parent or grandparent, will know how much you want to talk about.  Towards the end of the book Toad drinks a little too much and acts silly and says silly things so some might not want to venture into that, but as an adult (even though I don't condone drinking to get drunk) I can read it and get through it and just know that's how the author wanted this certain chapter to go.  

I do understand that a lot of adults don't like reading these kinds of books, but if you do like a fanciful book that you will find very entertaining (and frustrating at times), I recommend it.  It was a fun read.


Lemon Blueberry Bread

This is very good.  It's a recipe from the "Taste of Home" archives and it's lemony and moist.  Quick to put together and enjoyed by all.  : )


1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup 2% milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
2 Tbsp. grated lemon zest


2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup powdered sugar

In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, lemon juice and eggs.  Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir into egg mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition.  Fold in the blueberries and lemon zest.

Transfer to a greased 8 x 4-in loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.

Combine glaze ingredients and drizzle over warm bread.  Cool completely.

YUMMY!  : )  Hope you give it a try.  I think this would be excellent in the Spring.  Maybe for an Easter gathering?


Mostly, I've been cross stitching.  I just so wanted to get my sampler done and I did!

From last time I added the borders, a couple more flower buds, and four birds on the bottom.  I'm very pleased with it and it was so fun to do.  I have several finished cross stitched pieces that need to be framed.  I think that's my next thing to learn how to do.  Framing is WAY to expensive at the stores so I need to learn!  I've already started another stitch-y piece and will show you the progress on my next post.

While snowed in this week, I'll see if I can get to some other things as well.  I have pulled out all my gardening books and notebook and want to read those and plan gardens while the snow rages on!  : )


This is another "fear" verse for you and it's one of my favorites.  It's from Deuteronomy 20:3 -

*"Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic.....For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you......."

Isn't that wonderful?!  I don't know about you, but I've experienced panic attacks and they are frightening.  Here we are told not to give way to it.  Not only that - the Lord God goes WITH us and fights for us.  There are times when I feel so totally alone in what I'm going through, what I'm thinking.  But it is amazing that the Lord God is right there and He fights the battles for us.  Wow.  Thank you, Lord, for your word, for your promises, for your help, for your care, for your love, for your protection!  

I hope this encourages you to hang in there and to call upon the name of Jesus when you are fearful.  He'll be right there with you.  God bless all of you this week and I hope to see you soon!!!!  


Wednesday, February 8, 2023

An Important Side to Homemaking

I'm thinking of warmer weather.  : )

Hello everyone!  Here we are in February already and today in Minnesota we are having a nice, melty, warm day (41 degrees).  I just came in from sitting out on the patio and drinking up the sunshine to help both my mood and my health!  

Today is the first post that will follow somewhat of a different format.  As I mentioned in my last post, I am thinking about giving book reviews, a recipe, a Bible verse and/or other helps, and craft information.  I really hope that you will enjoy this change.  It's a bit of an experiment so if you can let me know what you think as time goes by that would be wonderful.  : )

I have been thinking about this because when we think of homemaking it's the cooking, cleaning, organizing, baking, planning, etc.  But there is also another side to homemaking and that's the personal side to us all.  We are also known for what we are interested in and I think it's very important to have those other interests that are creative.  Reading expands our minds and vocabulary. Trying new things helps us when life gets to be a little discontented for whatever that reason is - inclement weather for days on end, not enough money to go anywhere, just the desire for something different.  It's part of who we are.  So I hope you can grab a cup of tea or coffee or favorite beverage and sit back and read my post and my hope is that it will encourage you in some way.


For my book review, it is a book that I had already shown you, but now have finished it a couple of weeks ago.  As with every good book, there's a bit of a sad feeling when I'm done.  Most of you have already heard of this book but if you haven't read it yet, I do recommend it.  

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell

The only other book that I've read by Elizabeth Gaskell is North and South (which I also recommend although it is a bit on the dark side - not evil but it does depict England during the industrial age where there is much poverty and suffering).  In Wives and Daughters you immediately get caught up in each character and as in many novels you find yourself liking some, and wanting to shake some others!  The young heroine, Molly Gibson, is sensitive, kind, well-learned, wise....and these are wonderful characteristics to have but are also characteristics that can allow people to take advantage of and they do.  Her father remarries (for all the wrong reasons) and in comes a step-mother who takes charge of everything (she's one of the characters that a good shaking comes to mind - LOL).  She has a daughter who comes to live with all of them and her character is one that feels as if she's on a constant roller coaster with all of her relationships but when you come to realize that she is the way she is is because of her mother pretty much abandons her at a very young age to pursue her own life you have a bit of empathy for her.  She has no sense of direction and it causes nothing but trouble.  You also get caught up with the small village townspeople and people of influence and it does make you realize that no matter how much influence you have you still suffer the things of life.  Death is the great equalizer - it comes to the poorest of the poor and it comes to the most wealthy and what makes the difference is in the knowing of where you are going after that.

So, again, I recommend it.  I felt it was a page-turner - hard to put down, easy to pick back up again!  : )  I have decided, however, that I will not watch the movie version.  Books are SO detailed that I feel a movie wouldn't pick up all the little things that are just as important as the big.  I like what I read and there was a constant "movie" going on in my own head as I was reading it, so I will leave it at that.  : )

A bit of a spoiler alert here - there isn't an ending to this novel.  Unfortunately, Elizabeth Gaskell died before she had time to finish it.  When I got to the end and read this, I was so surprised!  I don't think that has ever happened to me before when reading something.  At first it bothered me a bit, but the novel felt like it was coming to a close anyway so whoever reads it can make the ending be whatever they want it to be!  Of course, I married Molly off to who she secretly loved and he was beginning to feel that he was having feelings for her as well.  So there you go.  : ) It's lengthy, so it's perfect for the rest of winter or a good summer read.

The cup in the picture was given to me by a friend a long time ago and I drink my morning coffee in it every day.  This afternoon it has Lady Grey tea in it.  Hopefully from now on, I will have a bake on the side to go with the tea. I have rhubarb muffins in the freezer but I forgot to pull one out.  : )


The recipe that I wanted to share with you today has fast become a favorite go-to when we feel like Asian food.  Everyone who eats this loves it so I most definitely wanted to share it with you too.  As with most recipes that I print out, they sit for quite a while before I get around to trying them so I don't know who this recipe is from.  Thank you to whoever originally posted this a while ago - it's a winner!!!!  Here it is:


As with all Asian cooking, it is wise to have EVERYTHING ready to go beforehand because it all comes down to adding things to the skillet at a moment's notice - there is no time to stop and cut things up or measuring things out.  Anyway........

*1 Tbsp. vegetable oil (use a good quality oil)
*1 large onion, chopped
*1 red bell pepper, chopped
*1/2 head of broccoli, cut into florets
*1 lb. ground beef
*6 oz. ramen noodles (2 packets with the seasoning packets discarded - NOT good for you)
*Salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil.  Add onions, peppers, and broccoli and cook until tender, 5 minutes (I think it takes a bit longer).  Remove from the pan and set aside.  Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink, drain fat and then season the beef with a bit of salt and pepper.  Return the vegetables back to the skillet.

Make the sauce:  (I like a saucy dish so I double the amounts - it's your call)
*1/4 cup soy sauce
*1 Tbsp. brown sugar
*1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
*1 clove of garlic, minced

Whisk together the above ingredients and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, bring water (according to ramen noodle directions) to a boil and add the noodles and cook until tender (about 2 minutes or so).  Drain.  Add the noodles to the beef/vegetable mixture and then pour the sauce over all.  Toss so everything is completed combined.  

Plate up, sprinkle with a few chopped green onions and enjoy!  You really won't be disappointed with this one.  As a matter of fact, I have all the ingredients as of this writing and we're having our son over for lunch tomorrow...........sounds like Beef Ramen Noodles to me!  : )


I've been working on a few things, but the one craft that I'm especially focusing on is a new cross stitch piece that I'm designing as I go.  It is this so far - I have a ways to go on it and will show it again when I'm finished:

I really like how it's turning out.  If that line on the left side looks out of place, it's because I'm in the process of making a short decorative border and that's all I have so far.  This is being worked on a 14-count Aida in Ivory from Zweigart.  I'm using such beautiful DMC floss in muted colors - numbers 407, 224, 926, 356, 3740, 838, 221, 223, 680, 422, 372, 890, 370.


I use the "Ultimate Sampler Motifs Source Book" by Brenda Keyes for all the motifs you see.  Again, there are already a couple of mistakes on this piece (and I'm sure I'll probably have more!) but that's okay.  It's for me.  However, I do love the process of designing so if anyone out there knows how one goes about designing cross stitch patterns I'd sure love to hear about it!  : )  I also enjoy following a pattern that others have designed so I'll go back and forth with making up my own and stitching from others.  It's all fun to me!


Lastly, and most importantly, is a Bible verse.  You know, when I'm feeling certain emotions when going through difficulty, it always helps me to look up verses in the Bible that pertain to what I'm feeling at the time.  A couple of weeks ago, I was struggling with putting a label on what it was that I was exactly feeling and the Lord helped me to realize it was FEAR.  Fear is something that I've lived with all my life from a VERY young age.  And, seriously, the world we live in is bound and determined to keep us afraid of everything.  So it can be a bit overwhelming sometimes.

To help me with that, I took my concordance and looked up a lot of "fear verses" and wrote them down in a notebook so that I could go back again and again and re-read them for hope and encouragement and even to use them in my prayers.  It's a wonderful thing to pray the verses in the Bible specifically to what you need.  Everything in the Bible is truth.  The words written are God's promises to us and it's okay to pray accordingly.  So here is the first "fear" verse and I've been praying it a lot lately:

*From Genesis 15:1 - "Do not be afraid..........I am your shield, your very great reward."

I've underlined the "I am your shield" in my notebook and have been especially praying that part of the verse.  As we all know, a shield is protection from whatever is being thrown at us and God is saying that He is our Protector.  The Bible says that Satan throws fiery darts at us all the time so praying for God to be our Shield is totally what we need and what He will provide when we ask Him.

My hope is that you will write this verse down too if you are fearful today for any reason.  The one thing we cannot do is discount a person's fear.  We may think that someone is being silly for being afraid of what they are afraid of but I hope that we never tell them that they ARE being silly.  Those feelings are real to them (to us) and I can say from experience, that praying this verse has helped me and I hope it helps you as well.  It's also okay to say "Lord, do as you have spoken."  (2 Samuel 7:25)  God never goes back on His promises so give your fear to Him and see how He will help you.  : )

Well.......that's it!!!  I hope this was an enjoyable read for you all.  Again, I would love any feedback or ideas you may have.  I don't want you to get up from spending time with me and call it a "yawner"!!!!!  LOL

God bless you all and have a great rest of the week and upcoming weekend ahead.