Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spring hodgepodge


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

Annie.

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

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

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

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

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


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

8. Insert your own random thought here.

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

I did finish a crocheted hot mat too -- from this pattern --

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

Monday, March 20, 2017

Harbinger of Spring


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

From the March archives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Smoked Sausage Potato Salad


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

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

SMOKED SAUSAGE POTATO SALAD

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

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

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

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

Hope you enjoy this recipe if you try it!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Cookies and tea part 2


As promised (or maybe threatened?) here is part 2 of my recent post, Cookies and tea with Judy and Vee.  As you may recall from that post, I was inspired, both by Judy's post concerning her White Crackle Cookies and Vee's post That Promised Chat, in which she referenced her mother's very similar Oatmeal Cookies, along with some other topics.  Both cookies reminded me of an old favorite recipe for Angel Cookies, which is in my last post if you didn't see it.

I spun my Cookies and tea post off that one, with Vee's blessing (and I'm hoping Judy didn't mind, either).  At the time, I mentioned it would probably take a second post to cover all the topics.  So here goes:

First off, there's another cream-of-tartar enhanced cookie that I want to share: Crunchy Toffee Crackle Cookies.

Many years ago, the bakery in our town had a similar cookie among their cookie offerings, and I always loved these.  On the rare occasions we went to the bakery for a treat (my mother was an inspired home baker) it was always a difficult choice.  Lemon bars, raspberry bars, coffee rolls, jelly doughnuts, these cookies -- so hard to decide!

Even as a grownup, I always remembered the crackly, melt-in-your-mouth cookies with their veins of toffee running through and hoped to duplicate them.  One day in Taste of Home I saw a recipe that I thought might make a good base for these.  It was a spice cookie, but no matter.  I left out the spices, and added some vanilla, some almond extract and some toffee bits.  The result?  Very, very close to the bakery goodies I remembered.  I had my cousin (who also remembered these cookies) sample them, and she agreed.

Then, tea.  In the last post I shared about the gorgeous package of Irish Breakfast tea I found at Ocean State Job Lot.
But I would be remiss if I did not also mention the lovely rooibos tea which a friend just brought me from South Africa.
 Here is the back of the package.  (I had to open it up so that all the writing could be read, so the package looks a bit untidy.)

Such a sweet remembrance!  It was so kind of L. to think of me!

And then, Vee also mentioned a couple of unique sewing projects: bowl cozies and a petal pouch. The bowl cozies are made from cotton fabric and cotton batting, to protect a bowl of microwaved food from burning one's hands.  I had barely heard of these, and would have been quite sure that I'd never use one, but just this past weekend I came close to burning my hands a couple of different times when microwaving leftovers.  I now think it's a great idea and I plan on making some soon!

The petal pouch was made by Vee to hold her makeup.  Since the pouch will open out completely, it's easy to see the contents -- much better than a regular makeup bag.  She found the tutorial here: petal pouch.  I think this is a wonderful idea and it looks like a very enjoyable project too. 

Now what I found so interesting about this is that I actually own a petal pouch (a much smaller one) that a friend made for me.
~ closed ~
~ open ~
She gifted it to me with a pretty necklace inside.
the roses are made with rickrack
I'm sure that at the time, my friend told me how the pouch was made, because she is very generous with sharing unique crafting ideas she finds.  But I must not have been paying attention, because as I look at Linda's tutorial, this looks fairly simple ... easily within my sewing abilities. 

And I think that wraps up my thoughts on Vee's Promised Chat.  I've enjoyed this "conversation" and hope that my blog friends have enjoyed it too.


Friday, March 10, 2017

Cookies and tea with Judy and Vee


(Being a shameless spin-off of My friend Vee's recent post, That Promised Chat, in which she discussed tea, cookies, craft projects, and more.)

After reading Vee's post, I had so much that I wished to comment on; really, too much to just leave in a comment on her post.  I asked if she would mind if I wrote a post of my own concerning her chat, and she told me, "Go for it!  We all get ideas from each other."

I think, actually, I am going to have to divide this into two posts.  The discussion of the cookies alone is going to take a lot of space.  I must admit, too, that I am cheating in that I have not actually baked cookies myself for the post.  I've baked cookies from the recipe I'm sharing,  many a time (it makes nine dozen), but not this time.

It actually all started, I guess, with Judy’s White Crackle Cookies, which she posted on her blog, Cranberry Morning.
Photo by Judy at Cranberry Morning
When I saw those cookies and read the post, I thought, "Those look a lot like my old favorite Angel Cookies!"  When I noticed that the recipe called for cream of tartar and brown sugar, I was quite sure of it.

I must explain that I own Farm Journal's Homemade Cookies, a perfectly wonderful 1978 cookie cookbook edited by Nell B. Nichols.  That is where I found the Angel Cookies recipe many years ago.  If you like to cook and bake and enjoy country-style recipes, and if you have never read or cooked from any Farm Journal cookbooks, you owe it to yourself and your family to do so.  One of the things I love so much about these books is the chatty descriptions with many of the recipes.  (I'll get back to this in a minute.)

I thought I would at least comment on Judy's post and tell her I had a similar recipe, but didn't find time to do that.

Enter Vee.  Judy's cookies reminded Vee of something, too: her mother's oatmeal cookies.   The recipe is very similar, but Vee's mother rolled the cookie balls in oatmeal prior to baking them.
Photo by Vee at A Haven for Vee
Unlike me,  Vee got busy and did something about it.  She not only baked cookies and took a gorgeous photo of them, but she wrote a blog post all about it -- That Promised Chat -- which also included a number of other interesting topics.

And that, in turn, galvanized me to write about my Angel Cookies.  I've already told you the recipe came from Farm Journal's Homemade Cookies cookbook.
Photo from ThriftBooks, where the book is out of stock.  My own copy has long been missing its dust jacket.
I told you, too, about the fun and folksy descriptions of many of the recipes, and I'm pretty sure that's what motivated me to to try the recipe in the first place.  Listen to this:

"An upstate New York woman says: 'They are our best-liked cookies.  It's a big recipe that makes about nine dozen so I make four different kinds.  
"I divide the dough in quarters and bake the first portion plain.  I roll the balls of dough from the second portion in flaked or cookie coconut.  To the third, I add 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate pieces, to the fourth, 1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts.'
 "You may think of other ways to introduce variety and interest to the cookie plate or tray."

Now, doesn't that just make you want to bake up a batch?

Here's the recipe as I have adapted it:

ANGEL COOKIES

1 cup butter or real margarine, softened 1 cup butter-flavor crisco
1 cup sugar 1 cup brown sugar 2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
4 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cream of tartar
2 tsp. salt
Optional ingredients/techniques*
Sugar for dipping tops

Cream together the butter, crisco, and sugars. Beat in eggs, one at a time, to mix thoroughly. Add vanilla.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Add to creamed mixture to blend well. If you like, divide the dough up and add some optional ingredients to each section to make different flavors of cookies. Chill dough for 1 hour or until it is easy to handle, if necessary.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls and dip tops in sugar. Place cookies about 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle 1 or 2 drops of water on each cookie (to make them crackle nicely). Bake at 350º for 15 minutes.

Remove cookies and cool on racks. Makes 8 to 9 dozen cookies.

(Recipe may easily be divided in half to make fewer cookies.)


* Optional ingredients: chopped peanuts, coconut, toffee bits, chocolate or butterscotch chips, etc. I think mini chocolate chips would be even nicer than the standard size.  Optional technique: Dip tops of cookies in cinnamon-sugar for a Snickerdoodle effect.

The actual recipe calls for lard rather than shortening.  I have never used lard in them.  Crisco works very well.

I haven't a clue as to why these are called Angel Cookies, but I imagine it may have something to do with their light, melt-in-the-mouth texture -- which, I think, is a hallmark of cookies made with cream of tartar.

Oh -- and a quick hint about cream of tartar.  If you live in New England (and maybe other places too) you do not need to spend big bucks for a teensy container of cream of tartar.  You can buy a wonderful New England product called Bakewell Cream and get a much larger container at a far better price.  I buy it at my local grocery store, but it can also be ordered online from New England Cupboard or from Amazon.
Photo from New England Cupboard
I found a picture of someone else's Angel Cookies since I didn't have time to bake any.
Photo from Bitz & Giggles
The recipe is shared by Sara of Bitz & Giggles as a guest post on I Heart Naptime.  The link will take you to her recipe, which is pretty like much my recipe cut in half.  Sara's grandmother used to bake them for her, and the recipe has been in Sara's family for as long as she can remember.  This cookie recipe has obviously gotten around over time.

Now, how about some tea with those cookies?  I recently found this package of Irish Breakfast Tea (80 teabags!)
Front of package
Back of package
at  Ocean State Job Lot for not much money at all.  It's very good, and the package is so pretty that it's currently serving as part of the March decor on my hutch.

This post has rambled on for long enough.  Time for a break for cookies and tea.  I'll post Part 2 another day.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

A perfectly fascinating Hodgepodge


This free graphic is from Holley Gerth.
It's Wednesday again, time to link up with Joyce and the gang at From This Side of the Pond for the weekly Hodgepodge.  Joyce is declaring a Spring Break from the Hodgepodge next Wednesday, the 15th, so if you've been wanting to join in, don't wait.  Employ the Do-It-Now principle; head on over to Joyce's and get those questions now!
This week's questions revolve around a theme of perfection.
 1. What is one area of your life where you're a perfectionist? Is that a good thing?

 I could be considered a recovering perfectionist, I suppose.  I grew up with the idea that if one  couldn't do something perfectly, one shouldn't even attempt it.  But really, I have grown beyond that erroneous notion and I think I can say I'm really not a perfectionist in any area of life at this point.  I am perfectly [oops!] happy "winging it".  I've come to regard perfectionism as a character flaw.

 A friend and I once discussed quilting (which she is expert at, and I am not) and she suggested that  perfectionism was important to quilting.  I don't think that I completely agree.  I would say accuracy is important, crucially important, in quilting and a number of other endeavors, but not perfectionism. 

2. What's something you find perfectly ridiculous?

Grandparents who require grandchildren to call them by their first name and who persist in dressing (and acting) like teenagers.  There are a number of other things I find perfectly ridiculous in today's society and political climate, but in the interest of being kind I will not mention them.

3. What's a skill you've developed by way of that old fashioned saying, 'practice makes perfect?

 Planning and preparing so every part of a meal is ready at the same time.

4. What's your idea of a perfect breakfast?
Photo from Cracker Barrel.com
The Sunrise Sampler at Cracker Barrel.  (I would order my eggs scrambled.)

5. What's a trip, holiday, vacation, or day outing you've taken that you'd rate a perfect 10? Tell us why.

I am not sure any trip, holiday, vacation, or day outing could rate a perfect 10.  Probably one of the nicest times was in fall of 2012 when we took our married kids and many of our grandkids to a log cabin on a lake for a long weekend. It was very special because so many of us were together and that we were able to share with our family a place that we truly love in the midst of God's glorious creation.  Lakes, fall foliage and blue skies.  Almost perfect!

6. What quote or saying perfectly sums up your life right now? If you can't do perfect, how about one that comes close?

 "Life is what happens while you're making other plans."  Not perfect; it just comes a little bit close.  We're trying to make plans for a visit to our daughter and family out West -- and real life goes on.  Busy real life.

7. How would you spend $300 today?

On a 2-night getaway with my hubby.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Today [that is, Tuesday, when I am writing this] has been one of those days.   Phone calls, people stopping by, UPS delivery, and more.  Trying to add some maple sugaring and St. Patrick's Day touches to my decor.   Just a busy day.  There are so many other things I wish I'd gotten to, but the day is winding down.  Good thing I'm not a perfectionist!  Just trusting God for every day.
Graphic by CrossCards.com

Monday, March 06, 2017

Goals for 2017, better late than never

This wonderful graphic is by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings

Somehow I just haven't gotten around to setting goals for 2017.

I've done lots of thinking and praying; I've reflected on 2016 and thought about needs for the coming year.  I've reminded myself of God's purposes for my life and His particular job assignments for me.  I've considered areas where I need to grow and change.  I've chosen a word for 2017.   So at long last I'm finally getting around to post my

GOALS FOR 2017

I've chosen six categories in which to set goals:
Personal growth:  Work on character qualities of unselfishness, kindness, compassion, perseverance, and self-control. Work at eliminating the time-wasting habit of procrastination.  Work through the book Come Before Winter, by Charles Swindoll.  (This is more a devotional book, but I am meditating on the Scriptures he mentions in the "Come Aside" section for each reading and am getting a lot out of it as almost a Bible study.)  Read at least 12 books.  Continue working on my "What Do I Know About My God?" Scripture notebook.  Memorize Scripture on a weekly basis, meditate on it daily, and finish several Bible studies.  Strengthen my computer skills.  Nurture creativity.

Health (physical, mental, and emotional):  Exercise at least 5 times per week.  Get enough water, sleep, fresh air, and sunshine.  Cook and eat with health in mind.  Work on a different healthy habit each month so that in general, I'm taking better care of myself.  Do something creative or craft-related every day.  Journal and write as often as possible.  Cultivate the habit of gratitude.  Seek to be joyful every day and keep my eyes open for the little things that make each day special.

Marriage/family life: Plan periodic getaways.  Take the best possible care of my husband and help him in every way possible.  Take advantage of every moment together.  Take time for dates.  Plan fun family activities with grandkids.  Minister to my husband with the gift of a peaceful, orderly home (translation: declutter the entire house and get back to my homemaking routines!). Plan trip to visit faraway family.

Money matters:  Spend less on groceries on a weekly basis.  Put time into my A-store.   Prayerfully get an Etsy shop up and running if I feel God is leading in that direction.   Consider doing some writing for paid publication.

Relationships outside the home:  Be more of an encourager to my elderly dad and also to my daughters, friends, and the ladies in my Sunday School class.  Prayerfully fulfill my numerous eldercare responsibilities, seeking God's guidance in them.  Stay in better touch with faraway friends and family.  Make myself available to help and encourage those who are nearby.  Continue blogging as a means of encouragement to other ladies.

Ministry:  Deepen my prayer life, praying faithfully for those with deep needs.  Pray regularly and diligently for our church's pastoral search.  Finish teaching a series on following God with all your heart and seek to encourage each lady (including myself) in doing just that.  Start another study, probably in April, with the ladies -- I think this one will be on Proverbs.  Write or re-write another kids' devotional book for summer use by our church's Patch the Pirate Club sailors.  Continue cleaning the church with my hubby once per month. 

Word for 2017: STEWARDSHIP

So happy to have these goals posted at last!

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Baking day


Last Saturday was a sort of baking day for me.  I was making a couple of different types of squares for Sunday's potluck lunch at church, and ended up trying two new recipes in addition to an old favorite.  I thought I would share the links and my thoughts on the recipes for those who may be interested.

One of my favorite sources for dessert recipes is Jocelyn at Inside BruCrew Life.  I don't think I have ever made a recipe from Jocelyn that hasn't been absolutely wonderful.  She just has a knack for putting ingredients together and her recipes work beautifully.

I looked at recipes I had saved and found these: Caramel Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars
Photo from Inside BruCrew Life
Oh, my!  Were these ever good!  I didn't bother with the sprinkle of sea salt on top.  It just didn't seem necessary.  I cut them in smaller squares than specified.

For the second variety of bars, I intended to make Cookie Dough Brownies, but discovered I was all out of baking cocoa.  I bake so seldom that it seems I run out of something every time I do!  Since I had already softened a stick of butter, I had to find a recipe calling for that amount, and turned to my old favorite Blond Brownies.
Photo from Taste of Home
I love this recipe because it does only call for one stick of butter (I usually use margarine, but this time I had butter on hand so used it), and it doesn't call for any ingredients I don't ordinarily keep on hand.  And it produces a lot of bars very easily.   I also cut these brownies into smaller squares than specified.  I usually do that for a potluck so people can try more than one kind if they like.

Then I also ended up making a coffeecake, just for our own breakfasts for a few days.  In perusing Inside BruCrew Life, I found a recipe that would work well to use up a couple of ingredients.  Mr. T ordinarily takes a banana in his lunch every day, and when he's not working he tends to forget about the bananas.  So I had some to use up.  This Banana Split Coffee Cake
Photo from Inside BruCrew Life
looked like a great idea to me, because it not only called for 2 ripe bananas, but also a cup of strawberry pie filling.  I seldom buy pie filling, and in fact had none on hand, but what I did have was about a cup of strawberry sauce.  It was left over from a waffle supper we had served to some of the grandkids one evening while their parents enjoyed a date night.  ("This is like having dessert for supper!", they exulted.)  So here was a great way to use up the strawberry sauce.

The coffeecake was delicious, too.  My hubby dearly loves coffeecake and was happy to contribute 2 of his overripe bananas to the cause.  I didn't bother with the icing on top, figuring to save a few calories.  I cut the coffeecake  in smallish squares and we enjoyed a square or two every day for breakfast.  Always a nice treat!

It's cold here today (3º -- yes, three degrees -- when I got up this morning).  The temps are not predicted to get out of the single numbers today.  More baking just might be in my future!

Friday, March 03, 2017

March goals


A portion of my St. Patrick's Day ribbon board.  Tag at center made by my friend J.
February is history, and it's time to set some goals for March:
* Continue an informal study of Come Before Winter, by Charles Swindoll, for my quiet time
* Memorize at least 4 Bible verses and review some older ones.
* Add 4 pages to my "What Do I Know About My God?" Scripture notebook
* Continue study for Sunday School -- Following God With All Your Heart
* Order books for our next Sunday School study 
* Exercise or walk at least 20 times.
* Get to bed by 9:30 pm each night. 
* Limit sugar and red meat.
* Drink enough water each day.
* Keep up with Flylady's missions in homemaking zones of the week.
* Post in my Christmas blog at least once or twice weekly
* Post in this blog most weekdays if possible
* Continue working on several UFO craft projects
* Continue planning for family birthday gifts and begin crafting any handmade ones
* Accomplish some paperwork on my dad's behalf
* Declutter filing cabinets and bookshelves
* Spend several hours updating my A-store.
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family
* Help and encourage my local daughter as I'm able
* Clean church and set up for potluck meal
*  Continue weekly visits to my dad at the nursing home
* Sort out and declutter my dad's house
* Finalize plans for a getaway with my hubby
* Plan meals with a greater emphasis on healthy eating
* Begin planning a trip to see loved ones in Nevada

MARCH'S HEALTHY HABITS:  Drink enough water/exercise/eat healthfully
WORD FOR 2017: STEWARDSHIP

These goals, as you may well note, look remarkably similar to my February goals.  I'm still working on a lot of the same things.  My to-do list is still filled with many decluttering projects to work on.

So here is how February went:
* Spend time reflecting on 2016 and consider my goals for 2017  -- DONE!
* Continue an informal study of Come Before Winter, by Charles Swindoll, for my quiet time -- DONE!  (That is, the study is not completed, but I have continued to keep up with it.)
* Memorize at least 4 Bible verses and review some older ones -- DONE!
* Add 4 pages to my "What Do I Know About My God?" Scripture notebook -- DONE!
* Continue study for Sunday School -- Following God With All Your Heart -- DONE!  (Again, the study is not completed, but I'm continuing with it.  Three chapters to go!)
* Order books for our next Sunday School study -- not done
* Exercise or walk at least 20 times -- not done, though I did manage a few times.
 * Get to bed by 9:30 pm each night -- I think I can pretty much call this DONE!  There have been a few nights later than 9:30, but some as early as 9, so it averages out, I think.
* Limit sugar and red meat -- great with red meat, not so well with sugar.
* Drink enough water each day -- working on this, but it's still not really "enough".
* Keep up with Flylady's missions in homemaking zones of the week -- not done consistently, although, last week in Zone 4, my hubby did help me with some huge tasks like turning the mattress and vacuuming under all the furniture.
* Post in my Christmas blog at least once or twice weekly -- DONE!
* Post in this blog most weekdays if possible -- I'm calling this -- DONE!
* Continue working on several UFO craft projects -- -- DONE!  (That is, they are not completed, but I've continued working on them.)
* Continue planning for family birthday gifts and begin crafting any handmade ones -- did okay with this, but didn't plan as well as I'd like.
* Accomplish some paperwork on my dad's behalf -- this is 2/3 DONE!
* Declutter filing cabinets and bookshelves -- not completed, but my hubby decluttered a two-drawer filing cabinet this week.
* Spend several hours updating my A-store -- did a bit of this, not enough.
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family -- DONE!
* Help and encourage my local daughter as I'm able -- DONE! But I could do much more.
* Clean church and set up for potluck meal -- DONE!
*  Continue weekly visits to my dad at the nursing home -- DONE!
* Sort out and declutter my dad's house  -- made good progress with this, but it's a long, long way from done.
* Possibly plan a getaway with my hubby -- we've planned the place, but not the time for sure.
* Plan meals with a greater emphasis on healthy eating -- DONE!

FEBRUARY'S HEALTHY HABITS:  Drink enough water/exercise/eat healthfully
WORD FOR 2017: STEWARDSHIP

I'm continuing this habit this month, since I didn't keep up with these habits well at all.

How is your March looking?  Did you meet your February goals?  Let's encourage one another!