Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hearty Butternut Squash Soup


Photo by Taste of Home
A dear friend recently sent me the link to this recipe: Hearty Butternut Squash Soup.  Her neighbor had made the soup and shared a steaming bowlful with her.  Wasn't that nice?

When I read the recipe, I wanted to try it right away, but didn't have a lot of time.  I decided to try substituting frozen pureed squash for the fresh butternut (which is to be cooked and pureed) called for in the recipe.  I used 2 boxes of the frozen.  I made some other changes, too.  I used cut-up smoked sausage instead of Italian, and I used a can of the crisp and sweet whole kernel corn (a specific variety of corn which I buy in a store brand -- it has no sugar, but is just a crisp and sweet variety of corn) rather than frozen corn.  Also, I did not puree the soup at any stage in the preparation.  Of course, the squash was already in a pureed state.  I find that I invariably make a mess pureeing hot soup in a blender, and I thought this recipe would be just fine without doing so.

And it was.  It was delicious.  I tried it out on company last Monday night and they loved it.  So did we.  With the orange, red and yellow colors, it's a perfect autumn soup!

Days 18-22 ~ health & energy challenge


Here's how the past few days have gone with this challenge:
Day 18 (Thursday)
* Drinking enough water -- done!
* Getting to bed at a reasonable hour -- not done
* Eating more fruits and vegetables -- done!
* Getting more exercise -- done!
* Eating less sugar -- done!
* Keeping track of the above each day - done!
* Doing something creative every day (mental health!) -- done!  Worked for a bit on the scarf and  felt food.
 * Drinking some green tea daily --done!
Day 19 (Friday)
* Drinking enough water -- done!
* Getting to bed at a reasonable hour -- not done
* Eating more fruits and vegetables -- done!
* Getting more exercise -- done!
* Eating less sugar -- done!
* Keeping track of the above each day - done!
* Doing something creative every day (mental health!) -- done!  Worked for a bit on the scarf and  felt food.
 * Drinking some green tea daily --done!
Day 20 (Saturday)
* Drinking enough water -- done!
* Getting to bed at a reasonable hour -- not done
* Eating more fruits and vegetables -- done!
* Getting more exercise -- not done
* Eating less sugar -- done!
* Keeping track of the above each day - done!
* Doing something creative every day (mental health!) -- done!  Worked for a bit on the scarf and some felt tomato slices and lettuce leaves.
 * Drinking some green tea daily -- not done
Day 21 (Sunday)
* Drinking enough water -- done!
* Getting to bed at a reasonable hour -- done!  Yes, for the second time since starting this challenge I met my goal of getting to bed at 9:30!
* Eating more fruits and vegetables -- done!
* Getting more exercise -- not done
* Eating less sugar --not done (although I limit sugar pretty strictly on weekdays, I allow myself dessert at the weekly church potluck).
* Keeping track of the above each day - done!
* Doing something creative every day (mental health!) -- done!  Worked on felt tomato slices and went to Jo-Ann Fabrics after church to get some needed colors of felt.
 * Drinking some green tea daily --done!
Day 22 (Monday)
* Drinking enough water -- done!
* Getting to bed at a reasonable hour -- not done
* Eating more fruits and vegetables -- done!
* Getting more exercise -- not done
* Eating less sugar -- done!
* Keeping track of the above each day - done!
* Doing something creative every day (mental health!) -- done!  Worked on felt food for a birthday gift, every spare moment today.
 * Drinking some green tea daily --done!

And that is the progress report!  I'll be wrapping up this challenge on October 31 (though hopefully I will continue with these good habits) and will start a back-on-track homemaking challenge November 1, Lord willing.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Goals for week beginning 10/27/2013

This beautiful photo is from Little Birdie Blessings
 Another Monday!  The weekend passed like a blur ... a busy blur.  For that matter, the week was like that as well.  This week looks pretty crazy, too.  Here are my tentative goals:
*  Spend time in 2 Samuel Bible study
* Finish Sunday School lesson 11
 *  Make 1 or 2 pages for "What Do I Know About My God"?  notebook
*  Memorize Psalm 145:1-5
*  Read 1 or 2 chapters in  Following God With All Your Heart
*  Exercise or go for walks as often as time allows
*  Keep up with crafting goals for birthdays, Christmas, and finishing UFOs
*  Keep up a good water intake
*  Get to bed by 9:30 or 10 pm each night
*  Post at least four times in my regular blog, and in my Christmas blog as time allows
*  Get a lot of basic homemaking tasks done in various zones of the house, especially zones 4-5
*  Spend at least 15 minutes a day reorganizing the many piles, stacks, notebooks and containers full of recipes I've collected over time
*  Make a daily time schedule for the things I need to do
* Cut out and sew some fall curtains
* Find or make a better weekly to-do list
*  Write several encouraging notes to friends and family
*  Continue a back-on-track challenge in the area of health and energy
* Post some TripAdvisor reviews
* Do assorted errands
* Send a birthday package off to a birthday boy in Nevada who is turning 4


And here is how last week went:
*  Spend time in 2 Samuel Bible study -- DONE!
* Add a little bit to  Sunday School lesson 10 and continue working on lesson 11  -- DONE!
  *  Make 1 or 2 pages for "What Do I Know About My God"?  notebook -- not done
*  Memorize Psalm 145:1-5 -- not done
*  Read 1 or 2 chapters in  Following God With All Your Heart  -- DONE!
*  Exercise or go for walks as often as time allows -- DONE!
*  Keep up with crafting goals for birthdays, Christmas, and finishing UFOs -- -- DONE!
*  Keep up a good water intake -- -- DONE!
*  Get to bed by 9:30 or 10 pm each night -- managed this twice.  This deserves a big DONE!
*  Post at least four times in my regular blog, and in my Christmas blog as time allows -- -- DONE!
*  Get a lot of basic homemaking tasks done in various zones of the house, especially zone 4 -- not done
*  Spend at least 15 minutes a day reorganizing the many piles, stacks, notebooks and containers full of recipes I've collected over time -- not done
*  Make a daily time schedule for the things I need to do -- DONE!
* Cut out and sew some fall curtains --not done
* Find or make a better weekly to-do list -- not done
*  Write several encouraging notes to friends and family -- managed one note and one phone call
*  Continue a back-on-track challenge in the area of health and energy -- DONE!
* Post some TripAdvisor reviews -- not done
* Have friends over for a meal -- DONE!
* Clean the church ( together with Mr. T) -- DONE!
* Attend a get-together for friends -- DONE!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A grocery shopping perk


Photo from Photos Public Domain
I did our grocery shopping this morning, along with my dad's shopping.  I did my parents' grocery shopping for years and have continued to do my dad's in the years since my mother has passed away.  For a long time, Mr. T and I did the grocery shopping together in the evenings.  We usually went out to Subway for supper before tackling the task.  Mr. T would take our list and I would take my parents' list, and off we would go. 

In the past couple of years I've taken on the task myself and usually shop in the morning for both households.  It's a chore but I really don't mind if I can get going early enough.  Recently, I've discovered a perk of early morning shopping (along with finding all manner of meat at reduced prices, that is!) -- the in-store Keurig coffee.
 
 $1.29 is a small price to pay for a cup of Green Mountain coffee and the relaxed feeling it brings as I go about my shopping.  The past 2 weeks I've had pumpkin spice; today they were out of that, so it was southern pecan.  Thank You, Lord, for little things that make my day special!

Days 16-17 ~ back-on-track health & energy challenge


Here's how the past couple of days have gone:
Day 16 (Tuesday)
Drinking enough water -- done!
* Getting to bed at a reasonable hour -- done!  Yes, for the first time since starting this challenge (or, truthfully, the first time in a long time!) I met my goal of getting to bed at 9:30!
* Eating more fruits and vegetables -- done!
* Getting more exercise -- done!
* Eating less sugar -- done!
* Keeping track of the above each day - done!
* Doing something creative every day (mental health!) -- done!  Worked for a bit on the scarf and designed some packaging for the felt food.
 * Drinking some green tea daily --done!
Day 17 (Wednesday)
Drinking enough water -- done!
* Getting to bed at a reasonable hour -- not done.  But it could have been worse.  We could have stayed up to listen to the World Series...
* Eating more fruits and vegetables -- done!
* Getting more exercise -- done!
* Eating less sugar -- done!
* Keeping track of the above each day - done!
* Doing something creative every day (mental health!) -- done!  Accomplished quite a few rows on the scarf and did some work on felt food and its packaging.
 * Drinking some green tea daily --done!

I'm thankful for how things are going with this challenge!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The absolute BEST gluten free sandwich bread!


Photo from The Baking Beauties
I'm not a frequent sandwich eater, preferring leftovers or a baked potato for lunch, but one thing I have missed since going wheat free nearly 2 years ago has been the occasional sandwich.  Especially for picnics.  I've tried several gluten free sandwich bread recipes and have been quite disappointed in how crumbly and hard the bread turned out.  I've also tried several [expensive!] gluten free breads from bakeries or the supermarket, and have again been disappointed.  The best one of those I tried was a millet bread, but now that I've found this recipe: gluten free sandwich bread</> from The Baking Beauties , I will have no need to purchase gluten free bread again.

I baked this bread before our little getaway up north.  We picnicked en route both on the way up and on the return trip, and it was so nice to have a wheat free bread that tasted so good.  It's a nice soft bread with a whole grain type of flavor to it.  If you are looking for a good gluten free bread recipe, your search is over.  Head on over to The Baking Beauties and check out this wonderful sandwich bread.  You'll be glad you did!

Days 12-15, back-on-track health & energy challenge


The weekend and yesterday were very busy, so I'm finally getting around to updating on my challenge progress for the past few days.
Day 12 (Friday)
*Drinking enough water -- done!
* Getting to bed at a reasonable hour -- not done
* Eating more fruits and vegetables -- done!
* Getting more exercise -- done!
* Eating less sugar -- done!
* Keeping track of the above each day - done!
* Doing something creative every day (mental health!) -- done!  Worked on a crocheted scarf.  Did a bit of work on  "December" cross stitch sampler.
* Drinking some green tea daily --done!
Day 13 (Saturday)
*Drinking enough water -- not done
* Getting to bed at a reasonable hour -- not done
* Eating more fruits and vegetables -- done!
* Getting more exercise -- done!
* Eating less sugar -- not done; enjoyed a pumpkin and ice cream concoction at the Sweet Shoppe.
* Keeping track of the above each day - done!
* Doing something creative every day (mental health!) -- done!  Worked for a bit on the scarf. 
 * Drinking some green tea daily --not done.
Day 14 (Sunday)
*Drinking enough water -- done!
* Getting to bed at a reasonable hour -- not done
* Eating more fruits and vegetables -- done!
* Getting more exercise -- not done
* Eating less sugar -- not done
* Keeping track of the above each day - done!
* Doing something creative every day (mental health!) -- done!  Worked for a bit on the scarf.  Did a bit of cross stitching on the "December" sampler.
* Drinking some green tea daily --didn't find time for this.
Day 15 (Monday)
*Drinking enough water -- done!
* Getting to bed at a reasonable hour -- not done
* Eating more fruits and vegetables -- done!
* Getting more exercise -- not done
* Eating less sugar -- done!
* Keeping track of the above each day - done!
* Doing something creative every day (mental health!) -- done!  Finished the crocheted scarf while chatting with friends after supper.  Did a bit of work on the December sampler.
* Drinking some green tea daily --done!

So my progress with the challenge is sort of mixed.  I'm doing pretty well, but could do better.  Hoping for a good week from here on out!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Goals for week beginning 10/21/2013


Image from CrossCards.com</>
Monday again!  The weekend was busy but so enjoyable and encouraging.  Now that it's Monday, I admit to being a little bit overwhelmed by all that I have to do today and this week.  Here are my tentative goals for the week ahead:
*  Spend time in 2 Samuel Bible study
* Add a little bit to  Sunday School lesson 10 and continue working on lesson 11
 *  Make 1 or 2 pages for "What Do I Know About My God"?  notebook
*  Memorize Psalm 145:1-5
*  Read 1 or 2 chapters in  Following God With All Your Heart
*  Exercise or go for walks as often as time allows
*  Keep up with crafting goals for birthdays, Christmas, and finishing UFOs
*  Keep up a good water intake
*  Get to bed by 9:30 or 10 pm each night
*  Post at least four times in my regular blog, and in my Christmas blog as time allows
*  Get a lot of basic homemaking tasks done in various zones of the house, especially zone 4
*  Spend at least 15 minutes a day reorganizing the many piles, stacks, notebooks and containers full of recipes I've collected over time
*  Make a daily time schedule for the things I need to do
* Cut out and sew some fall curtains
* Find or make a better weekly to-do list
*  Write several encouraging notes to friends and family
*  Continue a back-on-track challenge in the area of health and energy
* Post some TripAdvisor reviews
* Have friends over for a meal
* Clean the church ( together with Mr. T)
* Attend a get-together for friends

And here's how last week went:
*  Spend time in 2 Samuel Bible study -- DONE!
* Start Sunday School lesson 11 -- DONE!
 *  Make 1 or 2 pages for "What Do I Know About My God"?  notebook -- DONE!
*  Memorize Psalm 145:1-5 -- not completed
*  Read 1 or 2 chapters in  Following God With All Your Heart -- DONE!
*  Exercise or go for walks as often as time allows -- DONE!
*  Keep up with crafting goals for birthdays, Christmas, and finishing UFOs -- didn't do so well with this.
*  Keep up a good water intake -- DONE!
*  Get to bed by 9:30 or 10 pm each night -- not done
*  Post at least four times in my regular blog, and in my Christmas blog as time allows -- DONE!
*  Get a lot of basic homemaking tasks done in various zones of the house, especially zone 3 -- did fairly well with this
*  Spend at least 15 minutes a day reorganizing the many piles, stacks, notebooks and containers full of recipes I've collected over time -- not done
*  Make a daily time schedule for the things I need to do -- DONE!
* Cut out and sew some fall curtains -- not done
* Put up some autumn garlands in dining room windows -- DONE!
*  Write several encouraging notes to friends and family -- not done
*  Continue a back-on-track challenge in the area of health and energy -- DONE!
* Post some TripAdvisor reviews -- not done
* Enjoy a couples' retreat with my hubby-- DONE!

I'm fairly pleased with how last week went; now, to see if this week can be as productive!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Home again ... refreshed

Some of the lovely fall decor at The Wilds of New England -- this is a photo from 2 years ago as we forgot our camera.
 Just a quick post tonight ... Mr. T and I got home around 7:30 from a most refreshing time away.  The time was brief -- we left home around 4:30 yesterday afternoon -- but God expanded and blessed our time in a marvelous way.  We were at a couples' retreat at The Wilds of New England, and we feel as refreshed as if we had been away for at least a week.  Ample time in God's Word; uplifting, truly edifying music; time out in God's beautiful creation; plenty of coffee and ice cream; great fellowship with like-minded couples -- all of this combined to refresh us exceedingly.  If you live in New England or a nearby state, you may want to consider attending one of the retreats at TWNE next fall.  We highly recommend it!  You will be refreshed -- guaranteed.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Stuffed Squash for 2 -- a delicious main dish for fall


Photo from Taste of Home
Here is a delicious main dish recipe that I tried for the first time last week:  Stuffed Squash for Two.  I used buttercup squash because we prefer it to acorn, and substituted rice for the croutons to make it wheat-free.  Because I eliminated the croutons, I had to add more seasonings, but this is a delicious main dish for fall!

Days 10-11 ~ back-on-track health & energy challenge


Here's  how days 10 and 11 went:
Day 10
*Drinking enough water -- done!
* Getting to bed at a reasonable hour -- not done
* Eating more fruits and vegetables -- done!
* Getting more exercise -- done!
* Eating less sugar -- done!
* Keeping track of the above each day - done!
* Doing something creative every day (mental health!) -- done!  Crocheted a few rows on a scarf.  Helped one of my granddaughters start a new cross stitch project.
* Drinking some green tea daily --didn't find time for this.
Day 11
*Drinking enough water -- done!
* Getting to bed at a reasonable hour -- not done
* Eating more fruits and vegetables -- done!
* Getting more exercise -- done!
* Eating less sugar -- done!
* Keeping track of the above each day - done!
* Doing something creative every day (mental health!) -- done!  Did a bit of crocheting on a scarf.
* Drinking some green tea daily --done! 

And here comes the weekend ... we'll see how it goes!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Gorgeous fall chalkboard printables


Image from Nest of Posies</>
If you're like me, you probably have a good bit (if not all) of your fall decorating done by now.  Still, you should be able to find a place for one of these beautiful fall chalkboard printables</> somewhere in your home.  Head on over to Nest of Posies</> and check out these gorgeous designs.  One is for Halloween, but the rest are for fall in general and are lovely.

I love the look of chalkboard art, and would love to learn how to duplicate it myself (both digitally and with real chalk) but for now I am thankful for those who share their beautiful work as free printables.

The quote at the top of the post is the one I chose to print out and frame.  It is in my front hallway with a spray of leaves tucked behind it.  So pretty!

Day 9 ~ back-on-track health & energy challenge

 Another encouraging day!  One thing I aim at with a challenge like this is to make the good habits more of a regular daily element in my life.  For example, I want to exercise at least 3 to 5 times per week, but I can't tell you how long it's been since that happened with any consistency at all.  So I'm hoping and praying that this habit will take its rightful regular place in my life once again -- and the same with each of the other good habits.  Then, when I begin the homemaking challenge in November, each of the health and energy habits will continue.  That's my hope and my prayer.

Here's how Day 9 went:
*Drinking enough water -- done!
* Getting to bed at a reasonable hour -- not done
* Eating more fruits and vegetables -- done!
* Getting more exercise -- done!
* Eating less sugar -- done!
* Keeping track of the above each day - done!
* Doing something creative every day (mental health!) -- done!  Worked the fall banners a bit more, and crocheted a few rows on a scarf.
* Drinking some green tea daily --done!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Gluten free baked pumpkin doughnuts!

Photo by The Baking Beauties
If you are a regular reader here at my kitchen table, you know of my favorite gluten-free recipe site, The Baking Beauties .  Jeanine is a genius at creating gluten free recipes that taste good.

She has outdone herself with these baked pumpkin doughnuts!  They are seriously delicious.  Mr. T and I think they would be wonderful even without the chocolate chips, but with the mini chips they are fantastic.  And really, one would never guess they are gluten free.  I plan to take this recipe along the next time we go to Nevada, as our grandson must avoid wheat and gluten.  And he loves to help me bake!

Here's the link to the recipe if you would like to try these too: Gluten Free Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts.  Hope you enjoy these if you try them.  We think they are the perfect taste of fall!

(Edited to add: Jeanine's site is now called Faithfully Gluten Free.  It's still a treasure trove of wonderful gluten-free recipes, so if you need to -- or prefer to -- eat wheat-free, you will want to visit and explore this site!)



Day 8 ~ back-on-track health & energy challenge


Here's how Day 8 went:
*Drinking enough water -- done!
* Getting to bed at a reasonable hour -- not done
* Eating more fruits and vegetables -- done!
* Getting more exercise -- done!
* Eating less sugar -- done! 
* Keeping track of the above each day - done!
* Doing something creative every day (mental health!) -- done!  Worked on some fall banners with my granddaughters.
* Drinking some green tea daily -- didn't find time for this today.

I'm pleased that after a busy weekend and a somewhat off-track Sunday, I did manage to get right back on track!  I'm thanking the Lord for this!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Goals for week beginning 10/14/2013


Graphic from CrossCards.com</>
Another Monday rolls around!  How they come around so quickly, I'll never know, but here are my tentative goals for this week:
*  Spend time in 2 Samuel Bible study
* Start Sunday School lesson 11
 *  Make 1 or 2 pages for "What Do I Know About My God"?  notebook
*  Memorize Psalm 145:1-5
*  Read 1 or 2 chapters in  Following God With All Your Heart
*  Exercise or go for walks as often as time allows
*  Keep up with crafting goals for birthdays, Christmas, and finishing UFOs
*  Keep up a good water intake
*  Get to bed by 9:30 or 10 pm each night
*  Post at least four times in my regular blog, and in my Christmas blog as time allows
*  Get a lot of basic homemaking tasks done in various zones of the house, especially zone 2
*  Spend at least 15 minutes a day reorganizing the many piles, stacks, notebooks and containers full of recipes I've collected over time
*  Make a daily time schedule for the things I need to do
* Cut out and sew some fall curtains
* Put up some autumn garlands in dining room windows
*  Write several encouraging notes to friends and family
*  Continue a back-on-track challenge in the area of health and energy
* Post some TripAdvisor reviews
* Enjoy a couples' retreat with my hubby

And here's how last week went:
*  Spend time in 2 Samuel Bible study -- DONE!
* Finish Sunday School lesson 10 and start lesson 11 -- DONE!
 *  Make 1 or 2 pages for "What Do I Know About My God"?  notebook -- DONE!
*  Memorize Psalm 145:1-5 -- not done; memorized a verse from Proverbs instead
*  Read 1 or 2 chapters in  Following God With All Your Heart -- DONE!
*  Exercise or go for walks as often as time allows -- DONE!
*  Keep up with crafting goals for birthdays, Christmas, and finishing UFOs -- DONE!
*  Keep up a good water intake -- DONE!
*  Get to bed by 9:30 or 10 pm each night -- not done
*  Post at least four times in my regular blog, and in my Christmas blog as time allows -- DONE!  (except for
*  Get a lot of basic homemaking tasks done in various zones of the house, especially zone 2 -- not done
*  Spend at least 15 minutes a day reorganizing the many piles, stacks, notebooks and containers full of recipes I've collected over time -- not done
*  Make a daily time schedule for the things I need to do -- DONE!
* Put together and send a care package to a friend -- DONE!
*  Write several encouraging notes to friends and family -- DONE!
*  Begin a back-on-track challenge in the area of health and energy -- DONE!

All in all, it was a decent week.  I'm hoping for even a more productive week ahead!

Days 5-7 ~ back-on-track health & energy challenge


Okay, here's how the past few days have gone with the back-on-challenge.
Day 5:
*Drinking enough water -- done!
* Getting to bed at a reasonable hour -- not done; but I'm still  not giving up on the goal of an earlier bedtime.
* Eating more fruits and vegetables -- done!
* Getting more exercise -- done!
* Eating less sugar -- done! 
* Keeping track of the above each day - done!
* Doing something creative every day (mental health!) -- done -- well, a little bit.  I worked on cutting out some felt food for a birthday gift.
* Drinking some green tea daily -- done!
Day 6:
*Drinking enough water -- done!
* Getting to bed at a reasonable hour -- not done; but this was the earliest night yet!
* Eating more fruits and vegetables -- done!
* Getting more exercise -- not done
* Eating less sugar -- done!  (Pretty much.)  I did give in and have some apple crisp in the evening.
* Keeping track of the above each day - done!
* Doing something creative every day (mental health!) -- done!  Did a bit of work on a crocheted scarf.
* Drinking some green tea daily -- done!
Day 7:
*Drinking enough water -- not done.
* Getting to bed at a reasonable hour -- not done.
* Eating more fruits and vegetables -- done!
* Getting more exercise -- not done.
* Eating less sugar -- not done!  I made some pumpkin fudge for a potluck dessert, and sampled a bit too much of it.  It was the only dessert I sampled, but still.
* Keeping track of the above each day - done!
* Doing something creative every day (mental health!) -- done!  Worked on the crocheted scarf and also put a few stitches into a cross-stitch sampler.
* Drinking some green tea daily -- didn't find time for this yesterday.

I didn't expect that Sunday would be a great day as far as this challenge goes ... it's just an out-of-the-ordinary day.  But I am getting on track quite well today, so am not letting my lack of progress stop me from continuing in the right direction.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Day 4 ~ back-on-track health & energy challenge


It's a gorgeous, mild fall day up here.  Not completely sunny, but a nice day nonetheless.  And I'm pleased to report another good day yesterday, pretty much:
*Drinking enough water -- done!
* Getting to bed at a reasonable hour -- not done; but I'm still  not giving up on the goal of an earlier bedtime.
* Eating more fruits and vegetables -- done!
* Getting more exercise -- done!
* Eating less sugar -- done!  The chocolate is still here and there are M&M's in Mr. T's treat jar.  I'm thankful to say I've been able to resist them!
* Keeping track of the above each day - done!
* Doing something creative every day (mental health!) -- done -- well, a little bit.  I worked on cutting out some felt food for a birthday gift.
* Drinking some green tea daily -- didn't find time for this yesterday.

I'm really not sure what the weekend will bring.  Am sure I will be eating some sugar and I don't know how the exercise or sleep will go, but I intend to continue with the challenge as much as possible.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Felt food goes to the Fair!


When I was growing up, and even in our kids' childhoods,  we had a fair and a fairgrounds in our town.  Sadly, it is no more.  One thing I had come to enjoy about the fair was the fun of entering needlework in the various categories for judging -- and sometimes even winning a ribbon or two.

So I was delighted when two of my grandchildren out in Nevada had the opportunity to enter some items in the County Fair.  And I was even more delighted (though not more so than the children themselves!) when they won some ribbons for their various entries.

The children both entered needlework wall hangings they had made.  Did you ever think of cross stitching on mesh shelf liner?  The hanging on the right utilizes that technique (along with others).  It's a fantastic way for kids to learn to cross stitch.


And they also entered Lego creations which both took blue ribbons.  Notice Emily's pleased surprise at her win:
Her next-younger brother appears unimpressed by the ribbon.
There was also a category called "I Collect It" -- in which kids could enter their collections.  These could be anything kids might collect -- stamps, beanie babies, action figures, or whatever.  (I had a fleeting thought of these kids' mother and one of her childhood collections -- frilled toothpicks! -- and wondering how that would have fared at the fair.)

Anyway, Emily chose to enter part of her collection of felt food that  I've made for her.  She entered just the desserts.  (Very smart -- maybe next year she can do sandwiches, fruit, or whatever!)  Here is what the display looked like:
As you can see, some of the food is crocheted.  They covered a piece of cardboard with a dish towel to look like a tablecloth, and pinned the felt food in place.
And here is how Emily's collection fared:
Yes, not only a blue ribbon, but a purple one for Best of Show!
So much fun!!!  I would never have dreamed that my felt food would go to the county fair!


Day 3 ~ back-on-track health & energy challenge


So far I'm doing well checking in to report my progress!  I'm thankful to report another good day!

Here's how day 3 went in the areas I'm trying to work on:
*Drinking enough water -- done!
* Getting to bed at a reasonable hour -- not done; we had prayer meeting at church plus Patch the Pirate Club and grandkids to take home afterward.  When we got home of course the dishes were still waiting, and I refuse to leave them undone.  I'm not giving up on the goal of an earlier bedtime, however.
* Eating more fruits and vegetables -- done! 
* Getting more exercise -- done!
* Eating less sugar -- done!  I'm happy to report that I stuck to this despite the seduction of some high-quality chocolate shared with my household.
* Keeping track of the above each day - done!
* Doing something creative every day (mental health!) -- done! Managed to complete a row or two on the scarf.
* Drinking some green tea daily -- didn't find time for this yesterday.

So I'm thankful for progress.  I feel a lot healthier already!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Gluten-free Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins


Photo by The Baking Beauties
I try to keep gluten-free muffins on hand in the freezer.  As I mentioned in the post about raisin bran muffins, up until I found The Baking Beauties , I was having a difficult time finding good gluten free muffin recipes.  I found one fruit muffin recipe that tasted good and just kept making that over and over, using different fruits.  However, since finding Jeanine's site, I have great choices to try for muffin recipes.  She has recipes for several varieties of baked doughnuts, too -- yum!

This gluten free banana chocolate chip muffin recipe is delicious and a great use for leftover bananas.  I used milk chocolate chips (rather than semi-sweet) because I just really like the taste of milk chocolate and bananas together.  Hope your family enjoys these muffins if you try them!

Day 2 ~ back-on-track health & energy challenge


Here's how day 2 went in the areas I'm trying to work on:
*Drinking enough water -- done!
* Getting to bed at a reasonable hour -- not done; even worse than yesterday.  That's what happens when we don't eat supper until after 6 and have other tasks that must be attended to in an evening.
* Eating more fruits and vegetables -- done!  It's neat to see how God is pointing me toward good ideas about incorporating more fruits and veggies into our meals.  It doesn't hurt that 2 of our favorite foods -- apples and squash -- are abundant and wonderful right now!
* Getting more exercise -- done!
* Eating less sugar -- done!  I'm thrilled to have managed a second straight day of this.
* Keeping track of the above each day - done!
* Doing something creative every day (mental health!) -- done! Had to pull out all I had done on the scarf because it was coming out too wide; now have gotten it back to where it was before pulling it out.  Also started work on some felt food for a November birthday.
* Drinking some green tea daily -- done!

I am praising the Lord for a good second day of this challenge!

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Cranberry Orange Pork Chops


Photo by Taste of Home
I thought I would share a recipe I made recently which turned out quite well even though it was mostly improvised.  I had seen this recipe: Sweet Onion and Cherry Pork Chops</> and thought it sounded like a good possibility for this past Sunday's potluck lunch at church.  I knew I would need to triple it because it only serves two, but that looked easy enough to do.  Boneless pork sirloin steaks were on sale for only $1.79/lb. so that made it even more of a good idea.

The only problem was that I couldn't find the frozen cherries the recipe calls for.  I didn't want to mess around with pitting fresh ones and I certainly wasn't paying the price for canned cherries.  Saturday afternoon, when we got back from our getaway, I set about putting this recipe together.  What I ended up with was vastly different from the original, so I will share it here.

CRANBERRY ORANGE PORK CHOPS
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries -- could use more
1/2 cup frozen chopped onion -- could use more
3 Tblsp. brown sugar
2 Tblsp. orange juice
1 1/4 tsp. seasoned salt
3/4 tsp. pepper
6 boneless pork sirloin steaks, cut in serving size pieces
1 Tblsp. cornstarch
2 Tblsp. cold water

In a slow cooker, combine the first six ingredients; top with pork.  Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until pork is tender.

Just before serving, combine cornstarch and water until smooth.  (I had brought my cornstarch along in a snack size zip top bag, so just added the water to the bag, zipped it closed and kneaded it gently until smooth.  But you could mix it in a small cup or bowl..)  Gradually stir into the slow cooker and stir until the gravy is thickened and smooth.

Yield: six servings (more at a potluck).  Good with mashed potatoes or rice.

This pork turns out tender and the gravy is delicious.  Hope you enjoy this (and/or the original recipe!) if you try it.

Day 1 ~ back-on-track health and energy challenge


Here's how the first day went:
*Drinking enough water -- done!
* Getting to bed at a reasonable hour -- not done; 9:30 is my goal.
* Eating more fruits and vegetables -- done!
* Getting more exercise -- done!
* Eating less sugar -- done!  I was especially pleased to say "no" to a serving of apple crisp when my hubby was dishing his up.
* Keeping track of the above each day - done!
* Doing something creative every day (mental health!) -- done! Started crocheting a scarf which will be a Christmas gift.
* Drinking some green tea daily [just added this on the spur of the moment] -- done!

So it was a very good first day for the challenge!

Monday, October 07, 2013

Back-on-Track health & energy challenge


If you've been visiting my kitchen table for awhile, you know that periodically I find it necessary to set a "back-on-track" challenge for myself, trying to get back on track in certain areas of my life.  Usually, I will aim to get back on track in several areas at once.  For a couple of months now I have been hoping to complete a back-on-track challenge.  It just hasn't been happening.  When I looked over how I did on my September goals, I decided I might just have the answer to why that is.  I noticed that in several of the areas I normally need challenging in, I was doing pretty well.  The two areas where I repeatedly fell down, week after week, were homemaking and health/energy.

Based on that, I decided to do two separate challenges -- one for each problem area -- in two consecutive months. 

When I got up this morning I was eager to start one of the challenges, and figured it would probably be the homemaking one.  Coming off a very busy weekend with grandkids here and also coming home from a getaway meant that there were lots of things to put in order.  But as I thought about it more, I realized I should start the health and energy challenge.  For one thing, I was already in the exercise and fresh air mode from our getaway.  For another, I had some excellent time with the Lord during our getaway and really felt that He would have me work on this area first.  So, here we go -- a health/energy back-on-track challenge!

Here's what I'm planning to work on:
*Drinking enough water
* Getting to bed at a reasonable hour
* Eating more fruits and vegetables
* Getting more exercise
* Eating less sugar
* Keeping track of the above each day
* Doing something creative every day (mental health!)

I am starting the challenge today and will end October 31.  Lord willing, I will check in every day or two.  If any of you would like to tackle a similar challenge, feel free to come here and check in at my kitchen table!

Goals for week beginning 10/7/2013


Image by CrossCards.com</>
A rainy Monday ... Mr. T and I are so thankful that the rain held off until after our getaway!  Now that we're back home and he is back at work, a great many home-keeping tasks require my attention.  We will see how it goes.  Here are my tentative goals for the week:
*  Spend time in 2 Samuel Bible study
* Finish Sunday School lesson 10 and start lesson 11
 *  Make 1 or 2 pages for "What Do I Know About My God"?  notebook
*  Memorize Psalm 145:1-5
*  Read 1 or 2 chapters in  Following God With All Your Heart
*  Exercise or go for walks as often as time allows
*  Keep up with crafting goals for birthdays, Christmas, and finishing UFOs
*  Keep up a good water intake
*  Get to bed by 9:30 or 10 pm each night
*  Post at least four times in my regular blog, and in my Christmas blog as time allows
*  Get a lot of basic homemaking tasks done in various zones of the house, especially zone 2
*  Spend at least 15 minutes a day reorganizing the many piles, stacks, notebooks and containers full of recipes I've collected over time
*  Make a daily time schedule for the things I need to do
* Put together and send a care package to a friend
*  Write several encouraging notes to friends and family
*  Begin a back-on-track challenge in the area of health and energy


And here is how last week went:
*  Spend time in 2 Samuel Bible study -- DONE!
* Continue work on Sunday School lesson 10 -- DONE!
 *  Make 1 or 2 pages for "What Do I Know About My God"?  notebook -- DONE!
*  Memorize Psalm 145:1-5 -- not quite done; I memorized verse 5 but now need to put the entire passage together
*  Read 1 or 2 chapters in  Following God With All Your Heart -- DONE!
*  Exercise or go for walks as often as time allows -- DONE!
*  Keep up with crafting goals for birthdays, Christmas, and finishing UFOs -- DONE!
*  Keep up a good water intake -- DONE!
*  Get to bed by 9:30 or 10 pm each night -- did okay with this
*  Post at least four times in my regular blog, and in my Christmas blog as time allows -- DONE! (except for my Christmas blog)
*  Get a lot of basic homemaking tasks done in various zones of the house, especially zone 4 -- not done
*  Spend at least 15 minutes a day reorganizing the many piles, stacks, notebooks and containers full of recipes I've collected over time -- not done
*  Make a daily time schedule for the things I need to do -- DONE! (but not while we were away; I deliberately did not make a time schedule for those days)
* Plan and prepare for a getaway with my hubby -- DONE!
*  Write several encouraging notes to friends and family -- DONE!
*  Harvest basil and make pesto to freeze -- DONE!


I am certainly hoping and praying for a productive week.  My reading in Following God With All Your Heart has challenged me to work at my job assignments from God in obedience to Him.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Home again!

 Mr. T and I arrived home this afternoon after a few days away.  We enjoyed some R&R at our very favorite place up north.  Will hope to get some photos up within a few days, but for now I will just share one taken up there in the fall a few years back.  Yesterday we went for a walk on this very same road, and it was just as beautiful.  We're so thankful for a few days of relaxation!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Gluten-free Raisin Bran Muffins

Photo by The Baking Beauties
 In my wheat-eating days, one thing I loved was raisin bran muffins -- especially the ones from the supermarket bakery!  I would often get one to enjoy with coffee as a reward after all of the groceries were put away. 

Sadly, they seemed off-limits now.  In fact, I had only found one gluten free muffin recipe that I liked.  And even it was sort of squishy and soft -- not really my sort of muffin, but I baked them anyway because I missed muffins so much.  It was far better than nothing.

Then I found The Baking Beauties.  Jeanine's recipes have not let me down yet.  I was delighted to find her recipe for gluten free raisin bran muffins</>!  When I first tried them, I had no rice bran or flax, so tried them as some suggested using quick oats for the bran or flax component.  Excellent!  They tasted just like oatmeal muffins I'd made years ago and loved.

Next time, I used ground flax for the entire amount of flax/bran called for.  Delicious!  They are very close to my old favorite raisin bran muffins.  Maybe your family would enjoy them too!

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

A favorite poem for October


My mother loved this poem, as did my husband's father.  One would often hear them quoting from it on a beautiful October day.

October's Bright Blue Weather
O suns and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October's bright blue weather;

When loud the bumblebee makes haste,
Belated, thriftless vagrant,
And goldenrod is dying fast,
And lanes with grapes are fragrant;

When gentians roll their fingers tight
To save them for the morning,
And chestnuts fall from satin burrs
Without a sound of warning;

When on the ground red apples lie
In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone walls
Are leaves of woodbine twining;

When all the lovely wayside things
Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
And in the fields still green and fair,
Late aftermaths are growing;

When springs run low, and on the brooks,
In idle golden freighting,
Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush
Of woods, for winter waiting;

When comrades seek sweet country haunts,
By twos and twos together,
And count like misers, hour by hour,
October's bright blue weather.

O sun and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October's bright blue weather. 
 ~ Helen Hunt Jackson

This poem is such an accurate description of October in New England.  It is simply beautiful.  The other day Mr. T and I went for a short walk on a nearby bike path.  I noticed the brilliant red "leaves of woodbine twining" on the fence that edged the path. And every time I read this poem I think of how my father-in-law shared his memories of his younger days and how he and his comrades "sought sweet country haunts" as the poem describes.  They were true outdoors people who thought nothing of striking off through the woods to hidden places that they knew about.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

October goals


Front cover of New Hampshire Troubadour, October 1950, from my personal collection
It's a new month ~ and probably my favorite month!  I love October.  It's still warm and sunny, with bright blue skies and of course the beautiful autumn colors ~ it energizes me, which is a good thing!  Here are my tentative goals for October:
* Continue reading through the book of Proverbs, journaling as I go.
* Continue reading Following God with All Your Heart
* Memorize at least 4 Bible verses.
* Continue study of 2 Samuel
* Exercise at least 15 times; walk as often as possible
* Get to bed by 9:30 pm each night.
* Limit sugar.
* Drink enough water each day.
* Keep up with Kelly's missions in homemaking zones of the week.
* Spend several hours updating my A-store.
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family.
* Post several times weekly in one or both of my blogs
* Finish some UFO craft projects
* Make several birthday gifts and Christmas gifts
* Declutter several closets
* Work on crafts for gifts or sale
* Complete a back-on-track challenge
* Go on a getaway with my husband
* Attend a couples' retreat with my husband
* Finish decorating my house for fall
* Make some fall curtains and other home decor items

And here is how I did with my September goals:
* Continue reading through the book of Psalms, journaling as I go -- DONE!
* Continue reading A Woman's Call to Prayer -- DONE!
* Memorize at least 4 Bible verses -- DONE!
* Continue study of 2 Samuel -- DONE!
* Exercise at least 15 times; walk as often as possible -- didn't do too well with this, but did a lot better than I have been doing, so am fairly pleased.
* Get to bed by 9:30 pm each night -- not done
* Limit sugar -- not done
* Drink enough water each day -- DONE!
* Keep up with Kelly's missions in homemaking zones of the week -- did great with this some weeks; not so well on others.
* Spend several hours updating my A-store -- not done.
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family -- DONE!
* Post several times weekly in one or both of my blogs -- DONE!
* Finish some UFO craft projects -- finished some, but still have some UFOs to finish
* Make a birthday gift and a wedding gift -- DONE!
* Declutter several closets -- not done
* Work on crafts for gifts or sale -- DONE!
* Complete a back-on-track challenge -- not done, and I don't know when it will be.  I'm hoping to complete this in October.


A glance at this list shows that I did okay with my spiritual-growth goals and fairly well with my creativity goals, but really fell down in the areas of homemaking, health and energy.  The need for a back-on-track challenge is evident, but I think I may revise my challenge to possibly completing two different ones, one for each of these areas.  We will see!

Happy October, everyone!