Monday, November 30, 2015

Preparing to prepare for Christmas


From a vintage calendar my girls loved
I know -- that's kind of a funny title.  But it's the best one I could come up with for what I'm doing!

I've been preparing for Christmas baking.  When I was young, I always knew Christmas was coming when this little cookbook below made an appearance on our kitchen table alongside my mother's coffee cup.  It meant she was planning what foods to bake for kitchen gifts for neighbors and relatives.  As an adult, I was thrilled to find one of these cookbooks at a book sale!

If you have not visited my Christmas blog, Mrs. T's Christmas Kitchen, you will find that I posted there concerning my preparations for Christmas baking. And honestly, I think you'll enjoy visiting if you haven't.  Loads of ideas for baking, decorating, crafting and handmade gifts -- and more!

Briefly, so far I've stocked up on Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 gluten-free baking flour,

 a magical item which will help you make your favorite Christmas cookies gluten-free without ever needing to adjust a recipe.  I also bought a new nut chopper,

badly needed, and stocked up parchment paper at the Dollar Tree.  I've added all-purpose flour, sugar and flavorings to my shopping list.  I'm considering a re-organization and decluttering of the drawer where I keep items like measuring cups, sprinkles, extracts, etc.  And soon, probably tomorrow, I'll make a 2015 baking list.  Last year's is below.

I've been preparing for Christmas crafting.  I've firmed up my remaining "handmade gifts" list and purchased nearly all the materials I need.  Just a couple of small items to buy in Walmart.  Necessary fabrics are in the process of being washed and dried.  I also cleared off my little crafting desk and placed some favorite Christmas cards beneath the glass to cheer and inspire me while I work.

I've been preparing to send out Christmas cards.  I've bought all the cards I need except for special "family" ones.  Bought some new Christmas stickers, too.  And I'm preparing some "tuck-ins" for a Christmas card swap I'm taking part in.

And I've also been pondering the true meaning of the words "Let every heart prepare Him room."  I don't want my heart to be so crowded with Christmas preparations that there is no room for the reason we celebrate.  In addition to crafting, cooking, and card-writing preparations, I want my heart to be prepared and ready to celebrate the Savior's birth!

Today I am linking up with Sandi's No Place Like Home at Rose Chintz Cottage.  You will want to head on over and see what others have linked up!


Thursday, November 26, 2015

A blessed Thanksgiving to you!


This marvelous graphic is by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings!
Mr. T. and I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our American readers a very blessed Thanksgiving.  Things are unsettled in our world, to put it very mildly, but our God is always in control and He is always, always good.  There is much to thank Him for! 

We hope that wherever and however you are celebrating this day, with family or friends or perhaps by serving dinner to those less fortunate, you will take some time to count your blessings and thank God for them.

"O come, let us sing unto the LORD a new song: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms.
For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
In His hand are the deep places of the earth; the strength of the hills is His also.
The sea is His, and He made it; and His hands formed the dry land.
O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our maker.
For He is our God; and we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture."
(Psalm 95:1-7)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

"November" ~ a lovely poem


Vintage postcard from my collection
I found this lovely poem in the Readers' Poetry Corner of the November/December 1987 issue of Country Woman magazine.  It is written by Vivian Rice of Milaca, Minnesota.  Enjoy!

November
A lone gray goose flies overhead;
I hear its distant call.
The trees have lost their gold and red --
We're deep into the fall.

It's time to husk the Indian corn
To decorate the room --
To take the place of fresh-cut flowers
That now no longer bloom.

I've gathered in the last few squash;

The garden looks forlorn.
A rooster pheasant glides across
A field of rustling corn.

Our hearts are filled with thanks to God
For health and joy of living,
For beauty at this time of year,
For harvest and Thanksgiving.
~ Vivian Rice

How beautiful!  What wonderful images and thankful thoughts it conjures up for me ... and I hope for you too.


Monday, November 23, 2015

A few of my green and white dishes

 
Today for No Place Like Home, I thought I would share some of my green and white dishes. I have several different partial sets of dishes in this color scheme.  I guess green and white dishes are on my mind because I will very often use my varied green and white dinner plates at Thanksgiving.  They would be pretty for Christmas too!

When I was growing up, the family summer cottage kitchen was furnished with a complete set of "Colonial Homestead" dinnerware. It had everything from the usual plates, cups and saucers, etc. to tumblers, butter dishes, salt & pepper shakers, and even trivets for hot dishes. I loved those dishes and always wished for a set. The different pictures on the various pieces were deeply fascinating to me. (And now that I think about it, I think that the very completeness of the set had its own fascination.)

One day, as an adult, I was at another lady's home for a tea party and noticed she had some teacups in this pattern. I mentioned how much I had always liked these dishes and how I had never seen any, other than in the cottage of my childhood. From that time on, this dear lady kept an eye out whenever she was anywhere old dishes might be -- thrift stores, yard sales ... even the town dump. And slowly but surely my cupboard began to hold quite a respectable assortment of "Colonial Homestead" pieces. 

My friend has moved away.  By now,  in addition to cups and saucers, I have sugar bowls and creamers, dessert plates, dinner plates, a salt shaker, little sauce dishes -- that may be all.  I did have a perfectly lovely platter, sort of squarish, but it broke, unfortunately.  You can see the salt shaker and the teacup below.  Oh -- and also some green and white Fiesta salt and pepper shakers! 
 
And one day a few years back, my mother-in-law called to offer me some old vegetable dishes she thought might look nice in my kitchen. Yes, they also are "Colonial Homestead"! There are two sizes of bowls and they are wonderful, in perfect shape.  Here is the sugar bowl and creamer from the Colonial Homestead set (also seen at top of post):

And here is one side of a teacup -- a cameo. There's a cameo of a colonial gentleman too.

Here is the other side of the teacup -- a "God Bless Our Home" sampler.
In her search for these dishes, my friend began to find a few other green and white pieces which looked as if they might be "Colonial Homestead" but turned out not to be. So I have a few pieces from a set called "The Old Curiosity Shop". This creamer is one I found at a yard sale, but I also have a few odd saucers, a bread plate or two, and some dinner plates.  The creamer depicts an oil lamp, a pair of reading glasses, and what I think of as a Bible.  I also have another creamer, with a design of a sailing ship, which I believe is from a set called "Currier and Ives".  All of these are by Royal. 
As I was looking over the teacups in my cupboard, I also noticed a couple of other green and white ones. These are from a set called "Pastoral" and I have also some saucers, some bread plates, and some cereal bowls in this pattern. The one side of the teacup (I apologize for the blurry photo) shows a man driving a horse and wagon.

The other side of the "Pastoral" teacup shows a house and barn. The different pieces all feature various scenes from rural life.
 Someone mentioned this in the comments (I think it was Bernideen), and I just had to add to the post, that these Colonial Homestead dishes were their everyday dishes growing up, and that the set had been acquired through collecting stamps earned at the grocery store.  Several guests in our home have told us that exact same thing -- "These were the everyday dishes I grew up with!" -- and my mother-in-law told me she acquired her pieces at the First National grocery store.  So there is more history for you.  Thanks, Bernideen, for sharing that, as it jogged my memory.

I find that I am drawn to green and white dishes, and have many more of them -- just odds and ends -- in other patterns.  I wish that I had pictures of all of my green and white dishes, but alas, I do not.  Perhaps later this week I can get a few photos and add them to this post!

I am linking to Sandi's No Place Like Home at Rose Chintz Cottage.  Why not pay Sandi a visit and enjoy what others have shared?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

My favorite hints and recipes for Thanksgiving


 (or for any holiday meal that involves a turkey dinner!  I know that my Canadian readers have already celebrated Thanksgiving, but perhaps you might like to try some of these ideas for your Christmas dinner.)

With Thanksgiving coming up soon in the U.S., I thought I would post this again.  In this post from a few years back,  I  shared a few links to some of my older posts which are filled with recipes and tips for Thanksgiving dinner.  If you are a new visitor to my kitchen table, you may want to check out these links.  Here goes!

I posted the following in 2012, and it includes a lot of the same links I'm sharing today, but it might be helpful to someone:  A Gathering of Thanksgiving Tips and Recipes.

For pies, which are the most intimidating part of the meal for many people, I offer these Helpful Tips for Thanksgiving Pies.  If pie crust intimidates you (as it does many others), then don't stress about it.  I give you a recipe for an easy oil pastry, but if you don't want to go that route, then the sheets of refrigerated pie crust one can buy (I've even seen them in store brands!) work very well.  You can even buy frozen pie shells that aren't half bad.  Or if you just don't want to make pies, you can buy some very nice pies from bakeries that specialize in them.
From my antique card collection
Some of our Favorite Thanksgiving Pie Recipes are included in this post.  Maybe you will find a new family favorite!

But what if you are avoiding wheat, or a family member who'll be at your table is eating gluten free?  No worries.  This Gluten Free Pie Crust is easy to make and very good.  It's a simple press-in-pan crust and so it really won't work for a double crust pie.  But anyone who has lived without wheat for any length of time will be so happy to have a pie they can eat that they won't care if it's just a single crust pie.  It works perfectly for pumpkin pie, for example.

Probably the next most intimidating part of the meal is the turkey itself.  If you have, or are buying a frozen turkey, the rule of thumb for thawing it is to allow 24 hours in the fridge for each 5 pounds of the turkey's weight.  I find this not quite enough, so allowing an extra day would be my advice.  Invariably if I follow that rule of thumb, the giblets are still frozen in place.  Last year I bought my frozen turkey (21 pounds) on the Thursday before Thanksgiving and put it right into the fridge to start thawing.

Cooking it in an oven bag is my best advice on roasting a turkey.  It shortens the time considerably and produces tender, juicy meat.
From my Autumn in the Air booklet (Cracker Barrel, 2001)
For years, I stressed about gravy.  People love it and expect it, but making it at the last minute can be very stressful.  Usually there are other people in the kitchen, helping out with other things, and that complicates matters (even though they are truly trying to help when they watch over your shoulder and give advice).  So for a few years I then turned to canned or jarred gravy, transferring it to a saucepan and removing the evidence of the cans and jars well ahead of the guests' arrival.  That was great, but I found the gravy packets made even better gravy.  And then finally, I found this recipe:  Easy Turkey Gravy.  It truly is easy and it makes lots and lots of gravy.  If you are feeding people who think there is never enough gravy, try this.  For once they will be satisfied and there may even be some gravy left to serve with the leftovers or to make hot turkey sandwiches.

Stuffing, too, can be a source of discouragement.  I usually use a bag of Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix, prepare it with celery and onion as the package instructions suggest, and also add dried cranberries.  In my tips and recipes post ( the first link at top) I detail how I cook it in a slow cooker.  Just don't leave it in there for too long, as it will burn and dry out.

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes are my go-to recipe for making mashed potatoes for a lot of people.  This year I was seriously thinking of using the Idahoan instant mashed potatoes, which are actually very good and are only $1 per packet, but my hubby won't let me because he loves the make-ahead mashed potatoes so much!

Sweet Potato Casserole is our family's favorite sweet potato recipe.  I've made it with canned sweet potatoes and it comes out just fine.

Broccoli Casserole is another great side dish that always goes over well.

I tend to skip serving rolls when there is so much other good food on the table, but if your family won't let you, then try these: Homemade Dinner Rolls.  They're a homemade crescent roll and are really delicious.

If your family insists on creamed onions (as mine does), here's the recipe I use:  Scalloped Onions.  It uses the frozen small onions.  Life is far too short to peel those little pearl onions.  I always buy the frozen (unsauced) ones and make my own sauce.

Cranberry sauce or relish can be purchased and is just fine.  If you want to make your own, try the Taste of Home site for some good recipes, or you may be able to find one here.

For a memory of my childhood Thanksgivings, you might like to read A Thanksgiving Memory for a little nostalgia.  By the way, that's my grandmother in the photo at top, and the recipe is for my great-grandmother's Date Cake, which was somewhat of a tradition at our holiday dinners.  It was served thickly frosted with white frosting and with walnut or pecan halves pressed into the frosting.

And if you enjoy vintage things, you might like to take a peek at this Children's Book of Thanksgiving Prayers.  This was actually sold as a greeting card, I believe. 

For more Thanksgiving posts, click on the "Thanksgiving" label in the word cloud of labels in the right sidebar.  You may find some surprises I've forgotten about!

Today I am linking up with Sandi's No Place Like Home at Rose Chintz Cottage. And I am also linking to Gooseberry Patch's Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Bell Peppers and Pasta


Photo from Taste of Home
Mr. T and I eat a lot of meatless meals, so I am always on the lookout for some new recipes.  Here is one we've been enjoying for the past few months: Bell Peppers and Pasta.  We have access to lots of free produce thanks to the generosity of friends, and one item we often get is the colored sweet  peppers -- red, yellow, and orange.  So rather than just using just red and green peppers as the recipe specifies, I often use a combination of several colors. 

This is a delicious meatless main dish!  I often use rotini instead of penne, though either one is great.  I use the Ronzoni gluten free pasta.  This is good even without the black olives, but if you like black olives, I recommend including them, as they add to the flavor.  I have also found that more salt and pepper is needed, and possibly more oregano or Italian seasoning.  Taste before adding salt, though, as some feta cheese is more salty than others.

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!

Friday, November 13, 2015

A campfire just for two


Last Friday night, Mr. T and I enjoyed a simple and cost-free date in our own back yard -- a campfire just for two! 

A few weeks ago, we had hosted a fall fellowship here at our home for our church family.  We planned to end the evening with a campfire and s'mores, and I thought it would be a neat idea to string up some white lights so people could see their way out to our fire ring in our back woods.  I hesitated to bring up my idea, though, because Mr. T has plenty on his plate already and didn't really need anything else to do.  But I did suggest it that day,  sort of in the vein of "I know you don't have time; wish I had thought of this earlier" and so on.   To my surprise, he took the idea and ran with it!

He remembered some white LED lights he had purchased for 75% off after Christmas last year and thought they would work really well for this purpose.  Our grandkids were visiting for the afternoon and evening, and they gladly assisted him with the project.  He and 11-year-old Sam even tested out the idea of turning the lights on from inside the house with a small remote ordinarily used elsewhere.  It worked!

The lighting was perfect for our fellowship and making s'mores.  it was light enough so people could see what they were cooking and eating.  And, at that time, Mr. T and I both had the thought that the lights would facilitate a campfire any time ... even for just the two of us!  We decided to leave them up.

Last Friday night we needed to do something relaxing and so I suggested a campfire for two.  We did find that the lights, while helpful for getting our chairs out to the fire and getting everything settled, gave just a little too much light to be truly relaxing.  Next time, we will utilize our little remote, using the lights to get everything arranged and then switching them off to better enjoy the campfire ambiance.
Lights against a smoky sky
 We had some mulled cider left over from our fall fellowship.  I had kept it in the cider jug in the fridge and it was still fine.  This seemed like the perfect time to reheat two mugs of cider!  I balanced one on the arm of a camp chair to get the photo below.

What a wonderful way to unwind after a busy week!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Dolls for the Christmas shoeboxes


Photo from Operation Christmas Child
My daughter likes to make packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child part of her kids' Christmas.   This worthy cause sends shoeboxes full of gifts to children all over the world and is a very practical way to show God's love to others.  A couple of weeks ago, my daughter took her kids shopping to buy shoeboxes and all sorts of fun things to put in them -- T-shirts, notebooks, pens and pencils, crayons, colorful packs of tissues and more.  And then she got the kids even more involved by helping them make adorable fabric dolls to go in the boxes.

She asked if I would like to join them in making dolls and we took several hours on two different Fridays to work on this project.  The kids picked out their fabrics for the dolls and clothing, and cut out the paper pattern pieces.  Then I cut out most of the pieces and my daughter did the machine sewing.  The kids and I worked at turning the various pieces -- arms, legs, faces and so on -- and the kids stuffed them.  Then their mom assembled the dolls at the sewing machine.  I made the shoes for all of the dolls.  The work went quickly and was lots of fun.

These are the two dolls I ended up with -- I can't actually say that I "made" them because there were several people involved in the process!  But I did choose my own fabrics, hair, etc.  Sorry that the  photos are so blurry -- I guess in my haste to put the dolls in a cute setting, I took the photos at quite an odd angle.  But you get the idea!
Doll 1
Doll 2
2 dolls together
 For the dolls the kids made, they are planning to make sleeping bags to go with them.  For my own shoeboxes, I'm hoping to make pillowcase dresses to add and possibly some zipper pouches for the pens and pencils.  We will see!

If you would like more ideas for filling shoeboxes, check out Maggie's post Operation Christmas Child Gift Ideas at Smashed Peas and Carrots.  She has some wonderful ideas, plus great photos of her kids with the shoeboxes they filled.  The collection week for the shoeboxes is not until next week, so it's not too late to get involved!

Saturday, November 07, 2015

A little getaway


Hazy sunshine on the last morning
Last week, Mr. T and I were blessed to take a couple of days away at our favorite lake up north.  This time of year, one can expect any sort of weather way up there.   Here, it had rained hard on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, but was brightly sunny by the time we left around noon on Thursday.  On our trip north, we saw not one but three rainbows!  Talk about encouragement for our trip!

As we neared the Great North Woods, however, things were looking more ominous, and before we had finished unpacking the car the wind was whipping and the rain was lashing.  We really didn't mind, as we knew this was the time we had available and also the time our favorite cabin was available.  When you pray long and hard about the time frame for something, you can get it settled in your thinking that it's God's timing -- and leave details like the weather to Him.  We were there for rest and quiet and -- although warm sunny weather would have been nice -- the weather really was not our top concern.

It did clear off a bit in the late afternoon but was still cold and windy.  We sat by the lake for just a little while and read, but it was too chilly to sit out there for long.  As you can see from the photo at top, most of the pretty fall foliage is gone up there.  There are tamaracks, though, which are deciduous evergreens that turn a pretty golden yellow color in the fall.  Those were striking against all of the dark green pines, hemlocks, firs, etc.

In spite of dark clouds, we were blessed to see an absolutely glorious sunset!


As darkness came on,  the wind intensified.  We were snug in our little cabin on the lakeshore, however, and enjoyed a relaxing supper and evening by the fireplace.

In the morning, the power did go off -- no surprise with all that wind -- but we were not inconvenienced at all since the cabins have a wonderful generator that comes on when the power goes off.

We did find that we had to seek out a different breakfast spot than the restaurant where we had planned to visit, since they were closed with the power outage.  We traveled to a nearby town (if anything up there could be said to be "nearby") and were thankful to find a wonderful place that was open and served a fantastic homemade breakfast.  The homemade cinnamon-raisin toast was sliced at least an inch thick and was so amazing, as was the rest of the meal.  As is usual in places which serve good homemade food, this restaurant was filled with locals -- and you know you are near the Canadian border when half of the locals in a place are speaking French.

Friday was dreary and cold and spitting snow but we had a nice day regardless, mostly staying inside by the fire other than taking some time to visit with a friend who has a seasonal home nearby.  We sat by her fire for awhile!  And Friday night there was another fabulous sunset!



After another relaxing evening and good night's rest, Saturday morning came all too quickly.  We ate  breakfast at the cabin and packed up the car to head back.  We did see two loons on Saturday morning which was a real treat.  We really thought they would be gone to their winter home (the open Atlantic Ocean!) by now.  We were so happy to see they were still around.
This shows one of the loons.  They have nearly completed the transition to their winter plumage.

We had a leisurely trip home, stopping to have lunch out and do a bit of off-price shopping, and arrived home midafternoon.  Our getaway seemed a bit too short to us, but we knew this was the time frame God had given us and that He would use that time to give the refreshment we needed.

This week, Denise from RefreshHer shared a wonderful post concerning getaways and how they are simply to refresh us for the ordinary days which make up our real life and are to be lived to the glory of God.  Get-Aways and Ordinary Days is well worth the read. We have definitely felt energized and refreshed by this little break and are so thankful for it!

Friday, November 06, 2015

Recent simple crafting


Not a craft project, but a creative use of leaves by my 11-year old grandson.
Just a quick post to share some of my very simple recent craft projects.  I've made two more crocheted hot mats (to be used like trivets for hot dishes on the table) and also an embroidered flannel baby blanket.

In the picture at top, Sam was on our porch roof the other Saturday and decided it would be fun to decorate the dormer windows by hanging leaves on them.  I was busy preparing for a party at the time and did not get photos of his handiwork until the next day -- and not the best photos, at that.  Creative idea, though!

Here's the crocheted hot mat:
Both are exactly the same.  The ombre colorway is called "Freshly Pressed" and the outer color is called Rosemary.  And you can find the pattern here.  It is called "Scalloped Potholder" but to my mind it is way too thick to make a good potholder, so I leave off the hanging loop.  I'm nearly finished with another of these in a color called "Fruit Punch" with a lime green center and a "Blueberry" edge.

I've said it before, but I think this pattern may be slightly addictive.  And cotton yarn is so inexpensive, and they keep coming out with more and more colors!  I found one last night called "Blue Moon" and just had to pick it up as it will go with some solid colors which I already have.  These make terrific gifts.  I have yet to make any for myself, but I will!

And here is a partial shot of the blanket:
The tutorial for that is here: Personalized flannel baby blanket if you are interested in making some or seeing others I've made.  It's such a fun project and seems to be appreciated a lot by the recipients.  You can't really see the yellow print all that well, but it has whimsical little dogs, cats, bunnies and banners sprinkled all over it.  The blue in the print is a great match for the solid color side of the blanket.

 Much more crafting on the horizon, with Christmas approaching!


Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Beautiful bittersweet


I have always loved bittersweet.  I realize it can be invasive and can become parasitic -- see this article: Bittersweet: Friend or Foe? if you want to learn more -- but it is so beautiful.  (I'm sure there's a spiritual application there which I may eventually try and write about.  But for now, see a similar thought in The Return of the Periwinkle, if you are interested.)

As far as I remember, no bittersweet grew around the acreage where I grew up.  I do recall that my mother also loved the look of bittersweet and would often look far afield to gather some of it in the fall.   I remember one year that she and my dad made some very special pins to donate to a craft bazaar.  They were small wooden ovals, lightly stained and finished, and to these, in a pleasing arrangement, they glued tiny hemlock cones, yellow tansy heads, and bittersweet berries.

In more recent years, I've not seen bittersweet growing in our area, but one fall we had stopped at a rest area in the southern part of our state and saw a pickup truck with the bed overflowing with bittersweet vines.  I marveled that the driver would dare leave it unattended while he or she was in the building!

But last year, I saw some orange berries growing on a stone wall near my dad's house.  When I stopped for a closer look, I found bittersweet!  And this year it is back.  Time to hunt up a transferware pitcher.  You will find my visual inspiration for that in this post on my friend Vee's blog.

Here are just a few more photos:

You can see the stone wall peeking through here


Does bittersweet grow where you live?  Do you decorate with it?

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Simple suppers for a getaway ... or a busy day


We recently returned from a two-day getaway up north.  When we go there in the fall, I have two recipes that I usually make for our suppers.  Both are simple.  It occurred to me that others might enjoy these recipes, which work just as well for a couple or a family on a busy day as they do in a small kitchen at a getaway place. 

I usually make the soup recipe for the first night as it is incredibly quick.  There are always leftovers with just the two of us, but they work great for lunch the next day.

ZESTY CHICKEN CHEESE SOUP

1 can whole kernel corn (don’t drain)
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies (don’t drain)
1 small can diced green chilies (optional)
1 can premium chunk white chicken, flaked
8 ounces velveeta-type cheese, cubed

In heavy saucepan or dutch oven, combine everything except the cheese and begin heating these ingredients while you cube the cheese. Add the cheese to the saucepan and continue to heat, stirring until cheese is melted and soup is piping hot.

This recipe came from an early Quick Cooking magazine and is the fastest soup you will ever make -- just a matter of opening cans, heating and stirring -- and is also delicious!

For a getaway, I serve this simply with tortilla chips.  For a family on a busy day, I would probably serve it with cornbread or corn muffins.

The next recipe is for a simple oven supper that cooks by itself (until nearly the last minute) while you are doing other things. 

SAUSAGE-STUFFED SQUASH

1 medium buttercup squash (or 1 large acorn squash)
 Maple syrup or brown sugar
1/2 lb. bulk breakfast sausage (or links, cut up)

(These are the quantities to generously serve two people.  Obviously, you can double or triple this if needed.)

Cut the squash in half.  Remove the seeds to hollow out the center portion of each half.  Place them  cut side down on a foil-covered (or parchment covered) baking sheet.  Bake at 350ΒΊ until squash is tender -- 40 minutes or longer.  When tender, turn squash halves over; add a small amount of maple syrup or brown sugar.  Return the squash to the oven while cooking sausage.

Now cook the sausage in a small skillet over medium heat, about 10 minutes.  (This time I used Al Fresco chicken sausage in the Breakfast Sausage variety.  It worked great!)

Drain off any fat and heap the sausage in the center of the squash halves.  Bake for 10 minutes longer.

I usually cook baked potatoes at the same time the squash is baking.  Works great!  Rice pilaf would be good with this also, but I like the ease of a complete oven meal.

Sometimes I will take my slow cooker along on a getaway and make a slow cooker meal.  This works great if we are doing some sightseeing or hiking and will be away from the cabin during the day.  And of course, a slow cooker is perfect on any busy day at home, too.  Not just a day when you have lots of housework to do, or appointments that take you out of the house -- but also days when you want to do something fun, like crafting or decorating.  It's a blessing to have supper all taken care of!

What are some simple suppers that your family enjoys?

Monday, November 02, 2015

November 1953


One more calendar page from 1953 and the Woman's Day calendar.  I have always so enjoyed these little calendars, which used to come bound into the center of the January issue of the magazine each year.  This November illustration is not my favorite, because it just looks too cold and snowy.  In early November, at least, the trees would not be this bare.  There would still be oak leaves, at the very least, clinging to the branches.  And we wouldn't have this much snow.  By Thanksgiving, of course, we could possibly have snow that stays for the winter.  But hopefully not!

Still, the illustration does convey a sense of the stillness and quietness (even in its colors) that we find in November.  The hustle and bustle of the harvest is over and the land is still, just waiting for winter it seems.

This beautiful Scripture verse is another of my favorites.  If we were to read on to verse 2 of Psalm 121, we would find this clarification as to the source of our help: "My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth."  The psalm goes on to detail some of the many ways in which God cares for His people.  It is only eight verses.  Why not read Psalm 121 today?  It will truly set your heart toward thanksgiving!