Friday, September 22, 2017

A blessed Fall to all!

 It's fall by the calendar, though really we don't have much of any seasonal color up here yet.  It's just beginning.  Our weather has been unusually warm, too.  Thus, the photos in this post are nearly all from previous autumns.  There are just a couple of individual leaves that I've found and scanned this month.

Road  near my dad's

At The Wilds of New England
On one of Mr. T's job sites
Shed at my dad's place
Multicolored leaves against blue sky
 Now for the aforementioned leaves:

 The tiny red leaf was found in my driveway.  The very unusual brown leaf (which looks to me as if it has been decorated with watercolors) is one that I found near the path by my cabin at The Wilds of New England last Saturday.

Wishing each of you a truly blessed and productive autumn season.  That's what I'm praying for myself, too!

Paperless Post -- a review

Lovely image from The Graphics Fairy
Recently I was given the opportunity to try out Paperless Post, a company that offers the capability to create one's own unique online and paper stationery.  There are many attractive designs for cards, invitations, and much more that can be completely customized to reflect one's own personal style (or, in the case of cards, the personality of the recipient).  According to their About page, since 2009 Paperless Post users have sent out over 85 million cards for all occasions.

I was interested to try this out because I often send e-cards for birthdays and other occasions.  It's been getting more difficult to find cards that I like everything about.  So the opportunity to customize my own digital cards with photos, personal messages, and more, seemed like a very good one.

Although I have only begun with seeing what Paperless Post has to offer, I like it so far.  I decided to start by creating some birthday cards for some of my grandchildren.

There are many, many birthday cards to choose from, and you can see them here: Paperless Post birthday cards.  Not all of the cards would be to my taste, but then -- not all of the cards in stores are to my personal taste either.

I chose a cute design and got started.  The cards are completely customizable -- one can change the wording, change typefaces, text colors and sizes and much more.  These aren't at all like e-cards I've sent in the past where the design, greeting, etc. are put together in advance by someone else and I've just added a simple personal message.

First there's the card front -- as mentioned above, there are many great designs to choose from.  The message on the front can be changed if you wish, the font made larger or a different color, etc.  Next, you can choose an optional backdrop to complement your card.  This isn't necessary, but it's fun and there are many backdrops to select from.

Next comes the back of the card -- the place where the greeting is found.  You can use their greeting or write your own, choosing the font, the font color, size, spacing, etc.  The envelope back is the next step; you can choose your color of envelope to coordinate with your card and then add an optional envelope liner which is lots of fun.  Again, loads of choices for these.  For the envelope front, you again choose a font, etc. for the address.  You can choose a postmark and a stamp for your envelope.

The whole process was quite easy and fun.  It actually reminded me of the photo calendars and books I've made online, with the many options for personalization.  There is the option to send a card right away or to schedule it for a later date and time.  I have four birthday cards already scheduled for four of my grandchildren.  I love the way these cards can be customized to suit the recipient and it's been such fun to choose designs that the kids will enjoy.  I also love the option to schedule the cards, as I am very prone to forgetting the dates and then scrambling to get a card sent.

All in all, I've greatly enjoyed customizing birthday cards with Paperless Post, and will be looking forward to personalizing and sending more of their cards to family and friends.  I would definitely recommend this site to my readers who might be interested in something like this.

This post was written in partnership with Paperless Post and Anagram Interactive, but obviously all opinions are my own and reflect only my experiences.   I've also started customizing a few Christmas cards and will be posting about that over on my Christmas blog.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

September 20 Hodgepodge

Graphic from
 Another Wednesday!  Truly, the weeks fly by so fast.  So it's time again for the Hodgepodge with Joyce and friends at From This Side of the Pond.  Head on over and get the questions, answer them on your own blog and then on back over to Joyce's to link up!

Yesterday was a crazy busy day and I was out of the house for most of it, so my hodgepodge answers are likely to be short and sweet this week!

1. What's something you'd rate a 10/10? Tell us why.

Hmmm.   In the interest of quickness, I'll say the Italian cream sodas at Cool Beans, the coffee shop at The Wilds of New England.  I had two this weekend -- a pineapple/coconut one on Friday evening and a peach/pineapple one on Saturday afternoon.  So refreshing!

2. What job would you be terrible at? What makes you think so?

I could never be a taxi driver!  I detest city driving, parallel parking, curbside parking/parking garages at airports and hotels.  Plus they have to drive in all kinds of weather and make conversation with all kinds of people.  Not a job I would ever even attempt, and for that the traveling public ought to be grateful.

3. When did you last take a fall

 About a year ago I had a scary fall down our cellar stairs.  No broken bones, but a severely bruised leg that still isn't back to normal, and a banged-up elbow that thankfully healed very quickly.

What's something you're falling for (in a good way) these days?

 I've been having a great time embroidering a fall themed dishtowel, using this embroidery pattern: Pumpkin Spice Latte, found at an Etsy shop.  It's an instant pdf download and such fun to make.  Other cute designs in the shop as well, so check it out!

4. According to the Travel Channel here are some of America's best fall festivals-

National Apple Harvest Festival (near Arendtsville PA, close to Gettysburg), Harvest on the Harbor (Portland Maine), German Village Festival (Columbus Ohio), Wellfleet Oyster Fest (Cape Cod), and Wine and Chile Fiesta (Santa Fe NM)

Have you ever been to any of the festivals listed? Which one appeals to you most? Does your hometown have any sort of fall celebration, and if so will you make it a point to attend?

I haven't  been to any of these.  Looking at them, the one which appeals to me most is the National Apple Harvest Festival.  That would be interesting to attend sometime.

5. What is your goodbye message to summer?

"Come again when you can stay longer."

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

Fall retreats are so refreshing! So thankful I can take advantage of the ones at The Wilds of New England!  If you live in New England and have never been to TWNE, you owe it to yourself to check out their fall retreats.  Beautiful surroundings, wonderful music, excellent Bible teaching and just unlimited opportunities to relax and be refreshed.
Taken at last year's couples' retreat
And so ends this simple Hodgepodge.  Enjoy the rest of your week!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Quote of the day

Beautiful graphic by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
 Part of the process of cleaning out a house that has been lived in for nearly seventy years involves sorting through things -- sifting out the things with sentimental value; the the things that might be used or donated or sold; and the things that can simply be thrown away.  At my parents' home, one category I am encountering often in the sorting process is books.  Hundreds of books.  There were and are books in nearly every room of their home.

Many, of course, are books I am familiar with, but some are books that my mother bought or ordered for various reasons -- maybe because they were inexpensive or simply looked interesting.  There were even boxes of books bought for very small sums at auction.

One book that I found in my sorting was called Pages from a Journal, by Joyce Butler, a well-known Maine writer.  Pages From a Journal is a book of essays, nearly all of which had previously appeared in the author's newspaper column of the same name.  The book has been on my nightstand for several months as I slowly worked my way through it, reading a bit each night.

Fairly early in the book I came upon a paragraph that I knew I wanted to share with my blog readers.  These words are from an essay titled "Grammy B." which alluded to the death of a loved one, and some of what our grieving may include.

Readers may remember that my dad passed away at the end of May.  When I first read these words, I was thinking of him.  I'll just share them now:

"We grieve for what is gone, but we ask too what is left.  It is surprising how much.  What a human being has given of himself to others in kindness, encouragement, cheer remains and gives meaning to the fact that he lived.  Those of us who lived close to him discover that he has also left us a legacy of attitudes, traditions, example, and the measure of wisdom which comes out of the experience of losing him.  And perhaps that is where the healing begins.  We become for a time a little more gentle and wise, and we grow a step or two into maturity.  And some of us, having asked ourselves what part of his life was important, are able to make of our questioning an equation to the meaning and importance of the life we ourselves are living.  Then for us the gauntlet is down and this too is part of the legacy." -- Joyce Butler, from the essay titled "Grammy B." in the book Pages from a Journal.

I've been meaning to share these beautiful thoughts for months, but I see now that the time was not right.  Now it is.  In the past three weeks, Mr. T and I have lost four friends to death, one of them violently.  Oh, we know we will see each of them again in heaven.  But we will miss them.

And this quote has become even more meaningful to me as I consider the folks who have passed away recently.  One of them was an elderly pastor from whom we had learned much over a period of years.  One was an old friend, a member of our church and a neighbor of my husband's family.  He epitomized many New England values -- again, a person from whom much was to be learned.

This week, though, I've been pondering the lives of two women who have passed on.  Both were personal friends of mine.  And the legacy of example they left behind is truly priceless.  Both were incredibly gracious women who loved God and others supremely.  Both had Scripture stored away in their hearts which often revealed itself in wise, godly speech and character.  Were they perfect?  Certainly not, and they would be the first to tell you so.  Is their example of love for God and His Word and for others worth pursuing in our own lives?  Absolutely, and I am seeking to do just that.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Times of refreshing

It's so important, in the busyness of life, to take time to refresh our souls.  That's what I'm doing right now at the Wilds of New England.
Outside the coffee shop
And inside the coffee shop
What a  wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

September 13 Hodgepodge

Wednesday again!  Time for the Hodgepodge with Joyce and friends at From This Side of the Pond.  Head on over and get the questions, answer them on your own blog and then on back over to Joyce's to link up!

1. Is a picture worth a thousand words? Elaborate.

I think that it could be, depending upon the picture.  There are some pictures that tell such a story that it would take more than a thousand words to describe all that is happening.

2. Have you ever driven any part of the Pacific Coast Highway? If so what was your favorite stop? If not, is this sort of trip on your bucket list?

We have never driven any part of the Pacific Coast Highway.  I think that this sort of trip may be in the offing when Mr. T retires.   Our daughter and son-in-law would like to take us on such a trip sometime when we are visiting them.

3. How do the changing seasons affect you? As the seasons change do you find yourself looking more forward or backward? 

 I enjoy changing seasons and am happy I live in an area where there four distinct seasons.  As the seasons change, I usually find myself looking more forward.  I think about the upcoming season and how I'd like it to look in terms of what I accomplish and what my walk with God looks like (and more).  I'm learning to set goals for various seasons and I think that's very helpful for the effectiveness of my life in general.
From Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
Which season-season transition bothers you most? Why do you suppose that is? 

No question, it's fall to winter that bothers me most.  I love fall; it's my favorite season of all.  I also love Thanksgiving and Christmas.  But cold weather, ice, freezing rain, winter driving -- just not my favorites.  I celebrate the arrival of fall with a bit of a shiver, for I know what's coming afterward.  It does help a lot, though, to keep in mind that it's God who changes the times and the seasons.

4. It's your birthday and you get to pick the dinner menu. What are we having?

As a child, I chose hamburgers, potato salad, corn fritters, and iced tea for my celebratory meal.   My birthday's in January so I liked this taste of summer for my birthday.  Nowadays, I guess if I could pick a meal from any time of year and eat it any place I would love to go to the Cabbage Island Clambakes and enjoy a delicious lobster dinner with fish chowder to begin, and blueberry cake and coffee to end.

Since that wouldn't be possible in January, I'd settle for our local seafood restaurant.

 Do you ever lie about your age?


5. What's a life lesson you've learned recently?

Hmmm.... I actually learned this one awhile ago, but I'm continuing to learn it:

     "Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth."
  (Proverbs 27:1)

Another by Abby
We just never know.  And sometimes, what a day brings forth is completely inexplicable.  Thankfully, God does know, and somehow He allows inexplicable things for purposes of His own.

6.  Insert your own random thought here.  

My mind is incapable of any rational thought right now, I'm afraid.
And one more ... yes, by Little Birdie Blessings
Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Carol's Apple Spice Mix

Every year when the apples are ready in our local orchards, this fun recipe comes to mind.  Right now, according to one nearby orchard, the following are available in their store: Paula Red, Ginger Gold, Gala, McIntosh, Cortland, Honey Crisp.  Only McIntosh are currently available as pick-your-own.

One autumn when our friend Carol and her husband visited us, they brought a jar of this delicious spice mixture, and Carol wrote out the recipe for me.  This mix is delicious (no pun intended) with fresh apple slices as a snack.  Carol says she has also sprinkled this on baked apples or on apple salad. 

Spice Mix for Apples

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp caraway seed
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cinnamon

Mix and enjoy!  Amounts can be varied according to taste. 

(I would think this could also be buzzed in a blender to make the seeds less obvious and maybe spread their flavor throughout the mix a little more.)

Now go get yourselves some nice crisp apples to go with this mix!  My favorite is Honey Crisp, but those Ginger Golds are delicious also.

Monday, September 11, 2017

A prayer for hope and healing

Graphic generously shared by Gooseberry Patch
Today, Patriot Day, is a somber reminder of that dreadful day, September 11, 2001.  The weather here in New Hampshire is even similar to what it was that day-- bright, sunny, breezy, a perfect September morning.

 9-11-2001 is one of those days of which many people can tell you exactly where they were when they first heard the unfolding, terrifying news.   I was at my parents' house that morning.   My daughter had met me there as we prepared to put down some new braided rugs in my parents' living room.  A friend was due to arrive to help with the task. She rushed in with the news that the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane. We immediately turned on the radio and heard the unfolding drama as it happened.

I remember fragments of our reactions.  My friend's young daughter ... I remember her horror as she realized that the planes that hit the towers were full of innocent people.  My mother ... at that time she had been ill with Parkinson's disease for several years already.  I recall her saying in a stunned way, "No one has ever attacked our country like this before."

Through my mind flashed thoughts of my aging parents and of my first granddaughter, only a few months old.  What sort of future were they facing?

We ladies all sat down and spent time in prayer for the situation. At that moment I just remember being overwhelmingly thankful that I know the God of the universe, and that all events are under His sovereign control -- even when they appear out of control. I remember thanking God that even though these events were a terrible shock to us, that they were no surprise to Him, and that somehow, in some way, He would bring good out of this national tragedy. I found that He increased my faith during those dark days, and I trust that others experienced this also.

This morning at, I was so encouraged by this post written by Paige: A Patriot Day prayer for hope and healing.  We must never forget 9-11 and its important lessons.  But neither should we forget to pray for the families so affected that day, and for our beloved country.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Baking days

Seems as if I have been baking a lot these first few days of September.  A few weeks ago I tried this recipe for Strawberry Cheesecake Pie when I needed a dessert to take to a friend who isn't feeling well -- our church ladies are providing meals for her and her hubby.   From Spend with Pennies, this is a no-bake pie, so I guess I can't technically call it "baking" -- but oh, what a delicious pie it is.  
Photo from Spend with
Last weekend I made two of these pies for Sunday's potluck lunch at church.  There was one piece of pie left over!  We stopped in to see my hubby's mother after church, so we took the last slice to her.

Last Saturday I also baked these Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies, which also contain white chocolate and pumpkin pie spice and are a favorite cookie I like to make in the fall.

A longtime member of our church passed away Saturday, so we ladies were going to be providing food for a gathering after the funeral.  On Sunday evening and all day Tuesday, I was in the kitchen.  I baked Crunchy Toffee Crackle Cookies, a recipe I created some time ago to hopefully duplicate a favorite bakery cookie from my childhood.
These really do come pretty close in flavor and texture.

I also baked these Chocolate  Crisps, which I often make for Christmas with a melted, swirled Andes mint on top.  This time I just dipped the tops of the cookies in sugar before baking, and skipped the mint topping.

And then I also baked a batch of Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars that are nice and chewy with a peanut butter icing drizzle.

Photo from Taste of Home

Lastly, I baked a batch of  Cookie Dough Brownies, using the recipe below for the brownie base:

1 cup flour
2/3 cup baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup canola oil
2 scant cups sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a mixing bowl beat together the remaining ingredients. Sift in the flour mixture and stir it in thoroughly. (Some people will add 1 cup chocolate chips here.) Scrape into a greased 13x9” pan. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or just until done. Don’t overbake or you’ll lose the fudgy texture.

Photo from Taste of Home
On Monday we were invited to the home of Mr. T's boss and his family for a Labor Day cookout, along with the rest of the crew.   I made two of these S’mores Pizzas to take along, as well as a Greek pasta salad.

Photo from  Five Heart Home
Those s'mores pizzas are a gigantic hit wherever I take them.

I actually did a bit more baking today, but I'll save that story for another day.  Have a nice weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

September 6 Hodgepodge

Beautiful ... the thought and the photo.  From Baptist Bible Hour
Wednesday again!  Time for the Hodgepodge with Joyce and friends at From This Side of the Pond.  Head on over and get the questions, answer them on your own blog and then on back over to Joyce's to link up!

Here are this week's questions:

1. When you think about your future what do you fear most? Hope for the most?

Honestly, I try not to fear.

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 
(2 Timothy 1:7)

Or how about, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me."  (from Psalm 23)
Beautiful graphic from Abby at Little Birdie Blessings

As for hope, I know this isn't the sort of hope the question is asking about, but this verse sprang to my mind: "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ."  (Titus 2:13)

2. September is National Chicken Month. How often is chicken on the menu at your house? 

Very, very often.  Usually our choices are chicken or turkey, meatless, and seafood.

What's a favorite dish made with chicken? 

We love chicken salad.  I cook chicken breasts in the slow cooker, then chop or shred the meat.  I usually add some chopped celery and some chopped dried cranberries in addition to mayo, seasonings, etc.   Seasoning will always include a generous dash of poultry seasoning. This is on my mind because I just made sandwiches to take to a couple of occasions -- and chicken salad was the filling of choice.

What's something you're a 'chicken' about doing or trying?

Parallel parking and city driving.

3. What are three things you don't own but wish you did?

Hmm...  I think a Cricut machine would be fun to have, but I have no idea when I would ever find time to use it.  A smart phone might be rather fun also, but I can do almost as much with my tablet and I almost never use the cell phone I do have. So truthfully, I can't think of anything I don't own that I wish I did.
From a vintage booklet
4. Would you rather be a jack of all trades or a master of one? Elaborate.  If you answered one, which one?

I would rather be a jack of all trades.  I enjoy doing a lot of different things fairly well, though I must admit I am a master of none.
Crocheting dishcloths
Making felt food
Stamped cross stitch
Sewing coasters
Appliquing felt candle mats
Sewing pillowcase grocery totes
Embroidering pillow cases
Back in the day, crewel embroidery
Crocheting hot mats
And I also like to cook, bake, write, do counted cross stitch,  and more -- just a non-perfectionist jack of all trades and I like it that way!  I think being a master of one thing might be somewhat dull.

5. Ketchup or mustard? 

Mustard. I like any mustard, but enjoy trying different and interesting varieties of this condiment.
Photo from Pixabay
On what?

Ham sandwiches, hot dogs, fried egg sandwiches ... mostly things that I seldom eat any more.  Occasionally I will put ketchup on french fries, but seldom use that. 

6.  Insert your own random thought here. 

We're experiencing a rip-roaring thunderstorm as I write this on Tuesday night.  Torrential rain, too.  Last week was unseasonably cold, today warm and humid.  One just never knows with New England weather.
Photo from Photos Public Domain
And so ends another Hodgepodge.  Happy Wednesday, everyone!