Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Beauty and the Hodgepodge

It's Wednesday, and that means it's time for the  Hodgepodge with Joyce and the gang at From This Side of the Pond. Even though I'm a bit late linking up, I'm taking a stab at answering today's questions:
1. 'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder'  What's something you've seen recently that you thought was beautiful?

The Atlantic Ocean -- as seen above.  Lighthouses are beautiful, too.  Above is the iconic Nubble Light.  We just got back from a mini-vacation to York, Maine.  That's where most of my pictures will be coming from today.

2. Our culture and beauty...your thoughts?
In my opinion, our culture has completely lost its way with regard to what is beautiful. 

3. Age before beauty, beauty queen, beauty mark, beauty sleep...which beauty-ful phrase resonates with you today? Why?

I will have to go with beauty sleep.  We got quite a bit more sleep in the last couple of days than we had been getting for months.
4. I read here a list of the top ten beasts animals that scare us the most-
alligators, coyotes, black bears, birds (but pigeons in particular), sharks, bats, bed bugs, rats, rattlesnakes, and the black widow spider. 

Which 'beast' on the list scares you the most? What is the likelihood of you having an actual encounter with that particular beast? Did a movie contribute to your fear of this creature? Have you ever had a real life encounter with any of the animals listed?

I think bed bugs scare me the most because if you are unfortunate enough to bring them home with you, they are not easily eradicated.

I would say brown bears are more scary and more dangerous than black bears, which we have here in New Hampshire and which we have had on our back porch pulling down our bird feeders in years past.  I've had a couple other close-ish encounters with black bears while out walking, but none too close.

Rattlesnakes terrify me because of a television show I saw at someone's home when I was very young, before my own family had TV.  My younger daughter had a very close encounter with a coiled, ready-to-strike rattlesnake out west, but thankfully she was able to back away from it and then beat a hasty retreat.

5. Where were you when you last heard a bell ring? Was it alarming or musical?

It was in our car a few hours ago on our way home.  It was a signal that there was a problem with the battery or electrical system, so it was alarming.  We pulled over and checked it out, and when we started the car again the battery light didn't come back on.  So far, no more problems.

6. What's your favorite carb? How's that for random?
These are usually mandatory for a road trip for us.  We didn't get them this time, though.
Oh, that is random.  And a very difficult question indeed.  I'm not sure I could even say.  Probably any type of baked good.

7. Let's wrap up another month of Hodgepodging and life with an acrostic. Recap your month using the word MARCH.

Mini-dates and Mud
Atlantic Ocean
Romantic getaway  (and also Rain)
Carbs galore
High winds

8.  Insert your own random thought here.  

A getaway was very nice.  The weather wasn't great, but it was the time we had, so we went with it and enjoyed it.  I can't say we are really rested, but it was a complete change of pace and far different from our usual getaway where we rent a cabin for a few nights and I prepare most of our meals.  We had a great package where we had a nice room in an inn, most meals included, so I didn't even have to think about cooking.  And I feel as if I have never eaten so much on a getaway, either.  Thankfully we did a lot of walking!
View from our dinner table last evening

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sunday morning scenes

On our way to church Sunday morning, we saw some beautiful scenes.  Every bush and small shrub was coated with sparkly, glittery frost.
Mr. T snapped a few photos with the Kindle.
We were in the right place at the right moment to capture this effect.
Although we'll be happy when winter is over and done with, we still appreciate its beauty.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spring hodgepodge

My kitchen island decorated for maple season
It's Wednesday, and that means it's time for the  Hodgepodge with Joyce and the gang at From This Side of the Pond.  Head on over to Joyce's and get this week's questions, answer them on your own blog, and then link up.  The Hodgepodge is a great solution to writer's block, and it's also a fine way to get to know other bloggers.  Here goes with today's questions:

1. Setting aside the real March Madness (NCAA Basketball) describe something happening at your house this month that might earn the title 'March Madness'?

Mud Season is beginning, and that tends to drive me mad.  I detest mud.  Yes, yes, I know it's because of snow melting and frost coming out of the ground, and those are GOOD things.  But mud is ugly.  And the grit that gets tracked in during mud season!

2. What's a favorite made up word from your childhood or a favorite from your children's childhood? Does your family still use the word today? If there's a story behind the origin please share.

Wow, there are a lot of ways I could answer this question (a question I would never have thought of, by the way.  Joyce is so inventive.). My mother used a lot of words that had to have been made up, though I'm not sure who did so or what the story was behind them.  For example, anything not straight or plumb earned the description "skewangly".  Pronounced skew (as in skewed)- angle-ee.  She might use this to refer to anything from an uneven hemline to a pan of inaccurately cut brownies.  I seldom use it, but sometimes I find myself thinking it.
This photo of falling snow is from 2011
One of our favorite family expressions came from my daughter.  Away at college, she once said in a phone conversation, "It's snowing like a bandstand here."  She likely meant to say "snowing to beat the band", but that's not how it came out.  Whenever we experience a heavy snowfall, that expression still gets used.  Snowing like a bandstand.  That happened just last Tuesday when we got about a foot of the white stuff.

3. Will you be doing any spring cleaning now that the season is upon us? I read here a list of 15 quick (under one hour) spring cleaning tasks. They were-

clean out a drawer, vacuum furniture, whiten tile grout, dust the nooks and crannies you don't get to year round, degrease kitchen cabinets, wipe down walls, go behind furniture, wipe down ceiling fans, vacuum the mattress, clean the range hood, wash baseboards, shine the stainless steel, clean out vents, tackle the windows, and wipe down gadgets

Of the fifteen 'quick' tasks listed which two most need doing at your house? Will you do them?

I try to keep up with cleaning all year round so that I don't have to do spring cleaning as such.  But I usually fail miserably, so yes, I have begun doing some spring cleaning.

Of the fifteen "quick" tasks listed, I can cross three of them off right now since I don't have grout, ceiling fans, or a range hood!  Of the remaining twelve tasks, since I can only choose two, probably wiping down walls and dusting nooks and crannies would be the most necessary.  The mattress and stainless steel were recently done, and I've done several drawers in the past week.

4. A favorite movie set in Paris or New York?


5. What's put a spring in your step this month?

Some warm sunny days and several opportunities for mini-dates with my hubby.

6. Did you ever want to be a teacher? Why or why not?

I never did as a child or young person,  because teaching meant standing up in front of people and talking, something that terrified me.  As an adult, however, after trusting Christ as Savior, I came to realize that teaching is one of my spiritual gifts.  I've taught both kids and ladies in Sunday School, and have also worked as a teacher's aide at a Christian school.  It's so interesting to see how God works in our lives.

7.  What's your favorite floral scent? Do you have this somewhere in your home or maybe in a perfume? How do you feel about florals in food? How about wines with floral notes-yay or nay?

Hmmm... a toss-up between honeysuckle, apple blossoms, and lily-of-the-valley.  I have had each of these as perfume over the years.  I think edible flowers on/in food make a unique and interesting garnish.  We don't drink wine so I had no idea there were actual floral notes in wines.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

March is National Crafting Month and, although I've accomplished very little crafting, I have tried to work on something every day.  Mostly, it's been a cross-stitch Christmas ornament featuring a cardinal on a tree branch.  You can see a scan of the kit, below.

I did finish a crocheted hot mat too -- from this pattern -- some have asked about it, so here's the link -- Scalloped Potholder --

The one I just finished is a different color, but you get the idea.
A stack of finished hot mats, last summer
and I've been continuing to work on these fabric alphabet letters.
 Happy Hodgepodge Day, everyone!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Harbinger of Spring

Although I still haven't written the post about my maple-scented memories (maybe later this week), I am putting together just a simple maple-related post, using some recently discovered vintage items, for the first day of spring.

Lately I've been doing much sorting and decluttering of old keepsakes.  One of my favorite recent finds was the note card above.  I'd be keeping it regardless of the picture on the front, because the note inside was written by a great-aunt I didn't know well.  She was thanking my mother for sending her and my great-uncle a photo of us kids: "What a pretty little group they are."

The note card, though, depicting a hillside sugar house, is just beautiful.  Here's what it says on the back of the card:

famous for its aroma of maple sugar and 
hickory smoke, is from an original oil
painting by Freddy Peterson, who was born in
Denmark and studied extensively in Europe
before entering the United States in 1924.

The card was a product of Scenic View Cards in Hanover, Massachusetts.

(Do be sure and click to enlarge the card and see the details.)

As I've said before, I grew up with sugaring.   It's an important part of who I am.  So I was just thrilled to find this beautiful note card.  But there was more.

I'm not sure if all states do this (I believe they do) but in New Hampshire the fourth graders get a special emphasis on state history.  That's often the time for field trips to the state house and to the NH Historical Society Museum and so on.  The students have to do some sort of report or research project on state history.

Back in the day (a l-o-n-g time ago) when I was in fourth grade, the requirement was the same.  That may be when it all started, for all I know.  In my elementary school years, educational television was becoming the latest and greatest thing.  With my classmates, I'd leave the classroom on certain days each week and walk down, then across, the street to a different building and file into the basement where we had classes on music, French, and New Hampshire history at varying times.   (From what I recall, the music classes were not on TV.  All I really remember of them was that we had music books and that we learned to sing a lot of songs from them.)  Although the televised teachers did their best to make the state history and the French classes interesting, they did not really hold one's attention.  I suppose that is why I didn't really grasp the importance of either state history or the required project.  I vaguely remember doing much of it at the last minute and not getting a wonderful grade on it.

Fast-forward to my sorting and decluttering spree and I found the report with other keepsakes in an old desk.  There were a number of New Hampshire postcards stapled or taped to the pages, and also a couple of New Hampshire-related poems clipped from a newspaper.  One of the poems, and one of the postcards, are sugaring-related and so I am sharing them in this post.
This  postcard, depicting gathering sap with oxen, was sent to me in 1958
The poem is called Harbinger of Spring and the author simply signed him or herself as "Word Lover."  Here it is:

It's sugarin' time in New 
     England hills
And that's a sign of spring,
When warmth of sun and 
     wakening life
The magic flow will bring.

The trees are tapped, the 
     pails are hung,
The wood is amply piled,
To keep alive the roaring
Until the sap is "biled".

The hours of toil are long
     and weary
When sugar' time comes 
There's many a trip 'tween
     tree and vat ----
But eager joys abound.

After boiling's done, comes
     sugarin' off
And with beautiful amber
The syrup becomes 
     delicious taffy
When poured on pure white

Yes, it's sugarin' time in 
     New England hills --
God's chosen place on earth
Whence comes this wood-
     land nectar rare
Of truly royal worth!

Whoever Word Lover was, I appreciate their poem.  I hope you have enjoyed it -- and the other sweet vintage delights -- as much as I enjoyed finding and sharing them.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

This sweet graphic is by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
For this St. Patrick's Day, I decided to do something a little different.

Many readers know that every year I write (or update) a kids' summer devotional book for our church's children's ministry, Patch the Pirate Club.  (You can learn more about Patch the Pirate Clubs here.)

Back in 2005, the songs and lessons the kids studied were from the Patch the Pirate adventure Limerick the Leprechaun, so I wrote a devotional book for our church kids featuring an Irish theme and also including information about sheep and shepherds.  One of many things I wrote about was the topic of "Irish Blessings."  Of course, when sharing these with the kids, I steered clear of those that emphasized luck.  For, as Abby reminds us in this post, No Luck Here, we are blessed, not lucky.

So today I am simply going to share the devotional page I wrote concerning one "Irish Blessing".

"Delight thyself also in the LORD; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart."  
(Psalm 37:4)

Today we will learn about another "Irish blessing".  You may remember that these "Irish blessings" are good things that one person might wish for another.  Here is the one for today:

May you always have
Walls for the winds,
A roof for the rain,
Tea beside the fire.
Laughter to cheer you,
Those you love near you,
And all that your heart might desire!

These are good things to wish for your friends. "Walls for the winds" and "a roof for the rain" mean that you hope your friends will always have shelter from the weather.  

"Tea beside the fire" reminds us of a warm, cozy home.  Tea warms us up on the inside and a fire warms us up on the outside!

"Laughter to cheer you" is a good thing to have.  The Bible tells us in Proverbs 17:22 that "a merry heart doeth good like a medicine."

Of course, "those you love near you" is a wish to always have friends and family nearby.  We like to have our loved ones near.

The last wish is "for all that your heart might desire."  Our Bible verse today tells us that if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our hearts.  Delighting in God means that He is more important to us than anything else in our lives.  If we delight in God, we will love to spend time with Him, reading His Word, and talking to Him in prayer.  If we truly delight in God, the things we desire, or really want, will be things that please Him.  When we delight in God, He will give us the desires of our hearts.

*  Thank God for the promises in His Word, the Bible.  Ask God to help you delight in Him more each day.  *

And there you have it!  Hope you've enjoyed this glimpse into my devotional book In Green Pastures.  This particular Irish blessing strikes me as one that I would wish for all of my friends.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  And remember, we are blessed -- not lucky.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

From the March archives

Gorgeous winter collage (very appropriate today) is by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
I had so much fun putting together a post from the February archives that I decided to do one for March as well.  Since it's sort of a hodgepodge post, and since there is no Wednesday Hodgepodge this week, I decided to post it on Wednesday.

For March 2008, I found several posts I would like to share with you.  Many of them involve spiritual encouragement, especially for dealing with trials.

Trusting God is based off notes that I took at a women's seminar by Elizabeth George.  I was blessed all over again as I re-read this and some of the other posts.
This is a digital page that Abby at Little Birdie Blessings designed with a friend.
If you can't read the verse, it says, "When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I ... I will trust in the covert of Thy wings."  The reference is Psalm 61:2, 4.

Bookends is another post based on notes I took at the seminar.  This thought has helped me more often than you can imagine.

God’s Path is the first of several posts I wrote during my study of Elizabeth George's book Finding God's Path Through Your Trials.  I highly recommend this book -- I cannot recommend it highly enough, in fact.  While you are in the March 2008 archives, you will find several more posts concerning this study that you might like to look at.
And then there is this one, featuring a special cross stitch I made for one of my daughters.

For March 2009, I'm linking to a post about some of my paper crafting efforts with these winter tags.
For awhile on my daughter's blog, she was doing a feature called A Homemade Life.  I linked to it and shared homemade goodness for as long as she kept the feature going.  In this post I share my recipes for baked beans and brown bread.  Good, economical comfort food!
For March 2010, I chose two posts: one about my early spring decorating and the other on some fun handmade gifts for kids in Chef’s Hats Galore!
 A prayer for my grandchildren, shared in 2012,  has the distinction of being one of the most popular posts ever on the blog.  Not exactly sure why, but a lot of people have visited it.

In March 2014, Gluten-free Irish Soda Bread was a great discovery for me.  If you must avoid wheat (or simply prefer to) you would love this bread, I'm sure.

Also in 2014 I shared these cute felt play mats I had made for my grandchildren.  They were adorable and a lot of fun to make, but sadly, the hot glue didn't hold up well at all.  Guess I would hand-sew these if I ever made more.  Not that I think I will.
In 2015 I shared the recipe for homemade samoa bars from Jocelyn at Inside BruCrew Life.  They are decadent but scrumptious.

And then from March 2016, I shared info on some vintage camper dish towels that I had made and which a lot of people have asked about.
Putting together this post was a trip down Memory Lane for me.  Hope you've enjoyed it too.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Smoked Sausage Potato Salad

Photo from Taste of Home
The other night I made an old favorite recipe for supper.  I hadn't made this in a long time, so it was a treat for us.  I used Butterball® turkey smoked sausage.  The finished product is a warm potato salad and does not look exactly like the photo above, because the recipe includes green beans.  I found this photo on the Taste of Home website, as I did not have time or inclination to take a photo of my skillet.  So just picture the above salad with the addition of cut green beans.

This is a quick and easy supper that you can have on the table very quickly.  I served it with sauteed fresh tomato wedges -- quickly cooked the tomatoes in a small amount of butter with salt, pepper, and a little dill weed.  They came out really good.  So here's the recipe, which has been in my handwritten cookbook for years.  I can't even remember where I found it.


4 medium potatoes, cubed (I used yellow potatoes and did not bother to peel them; red potatoes [as in the photo] work well also -- but really, any potatoes will do)
8 ounces or more smoked sausage, halved lengthwise and then sliced
1 small onion, chopped
Several stalks celery, sliced
1 can cut green beans, drained
Mayonnaise to taste
Honey mustard to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

 Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water, covered, until tender, about 15 minutes or so.  Meanwhile, saute the sausage, onion, and celery in a large skillet until the onion is tender and sausage is lightly browned, stirring often.

When potatoes are done, drain them and add to the skillet with the green beans.  Cook, stirring, until heated through.  Stir in mayonnaise to taste (I use about 1/3 cup) and 1 to 2 tablespoons honey mustard.  (This time, I was out of honey mustard so I used some honey mustard salad dressing.  It would also work to use regular brown mustard and some honey.)  Salt and pepper to taste.

I buy sausages of all types when they are on sale and store in the freezer until needed.  That means (assuming I have canned green beans -- another staple -- in the pantry) I can make a dish like this very quickly at almost the last minute.

Hope you enjoy this recipe if you try it!