Monday, October 15, 2018

The Best Breakfast Potatoes ... and a bushel of laughs

I will get to the recipe (you can see the potatoes at left in the photo above) in a moment, but first, a little background. 

During our recent trip to Elko, Nevada to visit family, one of the nicest blessings for me was the very rare opportunity to go out for breakfast with both of my daughters.  I'm so tickled that they thought of doing this.  It was a wonderful time, with conversation and laughter flowing freely.

Joanna, who lives in Elko, suggested McAdoo's, and it was a wonderful choice.  We all chose the breakfast croissant sandwich, and it was a fantastic choice, as it was filled with things like egg, bacon, greens, and avocado among others.  We also found that the potatoes that accompanied this sandwich were amazing!

We spent more than a few minutes trying to dissect the recipe -- but we also spent a great many minutes laughing hysterically.  Our server brought Joanna a bottle of ketchup to accompany her potatoes, and the problem started when the ketchup refused to leave the bottle.  (It was a brand new bottle.)  I think many of us have probably had a similar experience with new bottles of ketchup.  Usually a quick jab into the ketchup with a knife breaks the suction or whatever is holding the ketchup back. 

In this case, the knife maneuver did not work.  Worse, when Joanna attempted to remove the knife from the bottle, it would not come out.  No matter how much she worked at it, it would not leave the neck of the bottle.  Carrie then stepped in and held the bottle with both hands so Joanna could jiggle the knife with both hands.  Still no go. 

By this time, we were all laughing hard.  I wanted so badly to take a video with my Kindle, but two things held me back: I was shaking with laughter so couldn't have held it steady; and also I was pretty sure the knife was going to come out quickly, spattering ketchup everywhere, including my screen.

That didn't happen, however.  At this point, a rugged-looking young man seated near us had grasped the situation, and he signaled to Joanna to let him help.  She handed him the bottle and ... guess what?  He couldn't budge the knife either!  We had to return it to the counter like this:

Fast-forward to last week when we were having guests for brunch and I wanted some sort of easy potato dish to accompany an egg bake.  I was looking through my Gooseberry Patch fall cookbooks.  In Flavors of Fall, I came upon a recipe called Golden Parmesan Potatoes and decided to try it.  I had to adapt it a bit anyway to meet a dietary need, but that adaptation turned out to be just the ticket to potatoes that tasted very much like those we had at McAdoo's.  (I also cut the recipe in half to make a smaller amount, so that is how I will write it.  If you need a larger quantity, just double the recipe and use a 13 x 9-inch pan.)

I made these again for a supper guest the same night.  Absolutely delicious and so easy!

2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons Italian seasoned bread crumbs (I used gluten-free)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 medium potatoes (or 6 small ones) scrubbed, rinsed and cubed
3 Tablespoons butter or olive oil

Heat oven to 375º.

Combine the cheese, crumbs, salt and pepper in a gallon size zip-top plastic bag.  As you prepare the potatoes, put the cubes right into the bag of crumbs.  When all the potatoes are in the bag, seal it and shake very well to coat the potato cubes with the crumb mixture.

Coat the bottom of a 9-inch square pan (I recommend non-stick metal) with either butter or olive oil.  Add potatoes and any remaining crumbs.

Bake at 375º for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes or so.  Serves 3 or 4 generously.

We loved this and I hope that you will, too!  No ketchup required.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Friday five

Time for a quick version of Friday five! 

1.  A lakeside lunch with two cousins, last Saturday.  So much fun to have reconnected now, after all these years!

2.  Seeing God give wisdom every day as we look to Him.  Watching Him give guidance and direction for every day if we will only pay attention.

3.  My favorite lamp being repaired!  It stands by my favorite chair and I rely on it to see my Bible in early morning quiet times, or  occasionally to see needlework of an evening.  Recently it stopped working altogether, but my wonderful hubby was able to find what he needed at Walmart and fixed it in minutes!

4.  Wonderful fellowship yesterday with friends visiting our state all the way from Nevada.  Their first time seeing New England fall foliage, and they loved it!

5.  And the reason this must be quick: Mr. T and I have the opportunity to head out to a couples' retreat this afternoon!

Happy Friday, everyone!

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Creamy Sausage Stew, take 3

Photo from Taste of Home
Sunday we had guests for lunch  after church, and I made this sausage stew in the slow cooker to serve with corn muffins.  It's a perfect meal for fall!  I've had this recipe for a long time and have posted about it at least once previously.  I found it in a Country Woman magazine in 1995.  It was a great recipe to begin with, but I have tweaked it over the years.

As I noted in my other post, I usually use half the amount of sausage, cut in smaller pieces than specified, and I usually use light or turkey sausage.  I also use half-and-half instead of the heavy cream.  It even works with fat-free half-and-half!   The dish still tastes very rich but it is a lot lower in fat. 

You can find my other post about the sausage stew here and the original recipe from the Taste of Home site here: Creamy Sausage Stew.   The original recipe called for roasting the vegetables and sausage, and it is very good that way, but I have been tweaking it to try and make it work easily in the slow cooker.

Here is my most recent take on this recipe:

8 medium potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 to 2 yellow onions, cut in 8 wedges each
1 large green pepper, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 large red pepper, cut in 1-inch pieces
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, halved
14 ounces turkey kielbasa or smoked sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced about 1/2 thick
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Half-and-half to taste
Cornstarch and water to thicken if desired

In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients except for the half-and-half and optional cornstarch/water.

Cook on High for about 2 hours, then turn to Low and cook for 3 to 4 more hours.  (Or you could just cook it on High for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.)

When ready to serve, add half-and-half to your taste.  If it seems too liquid or not as creamy as you'd like, just mix equal parts of cornstarch and water and add to the stew, stirring well and allowing to cook for a few more minutes until it is as thick as you'd like.

This got great reviews from our guests on Sunday, with everyone having a second bowl of stew!  I hope that you and your family enjoy it also!

Friday, October 05, 2018

Friday five

Not sure how another Friday rolled around so quickly, but it has!  Here are five blessings from the past week:

1.  Safety as thousands of miles were traveled during our vacation.  We traveled from our home in NH to Boston by bus, then flew to Salt Lake City.  Our family picked us up there and we drove to Nevada.  We took a four-day road trip to south central Idaho and then back to Nevada.  This past Monday we all drove to Salt Lake City, then we flew out from there Tuesday morning.  Had a brief layover in Minneapolis, flew from there to Boston, caught a 9:30 pm bus to NH and were home shortly after midnight.  Whew!  It makes me tired just to think about it (still a bit jet-lagged!) but so thankful for the safety God gave.

Yes, there are even Dunkin' Donuts out west!  America truly does run on Dunkin'.  This one is in Wells, Nevada. ⬇

2.  The kind and generous hospitality of friends.   During our vacation, Mr. T and I were blessed to stay in a lovely quiet apartment in the basement of our son-in-law's parents' home.  D and J stocked the pantry and fridge for us and even loaned us a car during the time we spent in Nevada.  We definitely feel that this blessing enabled us to come back more refreshed and rested!

3.  Wonderful fellowship with God's people.  We attended church services last Sunday with folks who have come to be like our own church family.  In the afternoon, several families from church joined us at a local park.  The kids played safely while the adults visited ... just a lovely time of fellowship.  Wednesday evening saw us back with our own church family here in NH, which was certainly a blessing as well.

4.   Quality time spent in God's magnificent creation.  We were so blessed to enjoy a hike in Lamoille Canyon last Friday.  I was even able to spend some time in prayer as I rested on a large rock in the midst of this beauty.  (Photos below are from my daughter Carrie.)

Sadly, a fire began near the Canyon on Sunday.  You can read about it here: fire in Lamoille Canyon and see an update here: Range Two Fire.  Thankfully, the fire was 50% contained as of last night, and rain was helping with the firefighting efforts.  Still, those who know about such things say that the canyon, a treasured local resource loved by many people, will not be the same in our lifetime.  So thankful we have had numerous opportunities to enjoy its beauty over the years!

5.  The chance to attend a grandson's soccer game last Saturday.  We can occasionally get to a local grandchild's game or event, but have never been able to do this with regard to the Nevada grands.  So thankful for this opportunity, even though his team lost this game.

And a bonus, because I forgot to mention this last week.

6.  The fun of baking with grandkids, using the Concord grapes from our daughter and son-in-law's backyard.  They had a bumper crop of grapes this year, so we enlisted the kids and baked two grape pies.  Their grapes were quite small, so it took many hands to slip off the skins to make the pie.  Emily, a pie crust expert (at age 10!), tutored Julia in rolling out and crimping.  The result was delicious, although I failed to get pictures of that.  (These photos are also by Carrie.)

 If you should be interested in baking a grape pie of your own, the recipe for grape streusel pie is here on my blog in this post: Grape Streusel Pie.  You will need to scroll down to get to the recipe.  I was so glad I had written about it, since after volunteering to bake the pies, I realized I didn't have the recipe with me.  I did a search on my own blog, and voila!

So ends another Friday five!  Hope you've enjoyed these glimpses into our vacation.  I hope to write some actual vacation posts soon.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

October goals

Lovely autumn graphic by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings

I'm a few days late, but it's a new month, and so it's time to set some goals for October:

* Continue with my Bible study of Colossians
* 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 -- A Woman Who Reflects the Heart of Jesus
* Get to bed by 9 pm each night  
* Limit sugar and red meat.
* Drink enough water each day.
* Walk and/or exercise each day.
* Keep up with Flylady's homemaking zones of the week.
* Do something creative each day
* Post in this blog at least twice weekly if possible
* Continue working on several UFO craft projects
* Continue planning for family birthday gifts and crafting any handmade ones
* Continue stocking my Etsy shop and continue selling vintage items
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family
* Help and encourage my local daughter as I'm able
* Get together with friends from Nevada who'll be visiting our state
* Attend a couples' retreat with my hubby
* Continue to encourage and support my hubby as he works through a pastoral search for our church
* Clean church and set up for fellowship time
* Sort out and declutter my dad's house; work on estate
* Plan meals with a greater emphasis on healthy eating

OCTOBER'S HEALTHY HABITS:  Drink enough water/exercise/eat healthfully/get enough sleep
WORD FOR 2018: Settled

And here's how September went:

* Continue with my Bible study of Colossians -- done!
* 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 -- A Woman Who Reflects the Heart of Jesus
-- done!
* Get to bed by 9 pm each night-- not done
* Limit sugar and red meat -- did well limiting red meat, not so well with sugar
* Drink enough water each day -- doing better with this, but still not the best
* Walk and/or exercise each day -- technically not done, but we did do a ton of walking and hiking on vacation, so I'm calling this done!
* Keep up with Flylady's homemaking zones of the week -- not done
* Do something creative each day -- done!
* Post in this blog at least twice weekly if possible  -- done!
* Continue working on several UFO craft projects -- not done
* Continue planning for family birthday gifts and crafting any handmade ones -- done!
* Continue stocking my Etsy shop and continue selling vintage items -- done!
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family -- done!
* Help and encourage my local daughter as I'm able -- done!
* Fine-tune our vacation plans -- done!
* Attend a ladies' retreat !!-- done!
* Continue to encourage and support my hubby as he works through a pastoral search for our church -- done!
* Clean church and set up for fellowship time -- done!
* Sort out and declutter my dad's house; work on estate -- not done, but I've kept at it
* Plan meals with a greater emphasis on healthy eating -- done!

SEPTEMBER'S HEALTHY HABITS:  Drink enough water/exercise/eat healthfully/get enough sleep
WORD FOR 2018: Settled

Hoping to have a more productive month in October, but we will see.  Later this week I hope to write a few blog posts with pictures and details about our vacation to Nevada, Idaho and Utah.  Stay tuned!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Friday five

Friday has rolled around again, so it's time for a quick version of Friday five. (It's still Friday somewhere, right?)  Here goes:

1.  Ladies' retreat two Fridays ago at The Wilds of New England.  Meaningful sessions  on the topic of Craving Connection.

2.  Meeting the retreat speaker, Denise Cunningham, and enjoying breakfast with her sitting at our table.  I've been reading Denise's blog for years and had greatly looked forward to meeting her in person.  So thankful God worked that out!

3.  A short break from teaching Sunday School.  Just two weeks, but a refreshment.  Thanks to my friend Chris and missionary friend Bonnie for filling in for me.

4.  Breakfast out with both of my daughters.  A rare opportunity, and I'm so thankful.

5.  God's hand in providing for and working out the details of our vacation.  More information to follow!

So ends another Friday Five!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Easy Layered Tortellini Salad

It's not too much like fall yet to share one more main dish salad recipe.  This is a sort of adaptation of a recipe I used to make a lot, years ago.  I've recently been preparing it again and we have really enjoyed it.  Since it's so easy and adaptable, I thought others might like to try it, too.


1 pkg. frozen cheese tortellini (I like the tri-colored variety)
Lettuce or greens of your choice
Tomatoes or cherry/grape tomatoes
Chopped ham, chicken, or turkey
Ranch dressing
Bacon bits

In a large glass bowl,  make at least two layers each of salad greens, cooked tortellini, tomatoes, and meat.

Drizzle ranch dressing to taste over the top of the salad.  Sprinkle with bacon bits and chill until serving.

Enjoy! 😊

Saturday, September 22, 2018

First day of fall

I just had to share this vintage magazine page and thought the first day of fall would be the perfect time to do so.  This is a magazine page I found folded up in a kitchen drawer at my childhood home.  It is from Woman's Day, November 1954. 

The words are from the hymn For the Beauty of the Earth.  It's interesting to me that, long before my mother knew Jesus as her Savior, she recognized to Whom praise was due for our blessings. 

The photo here is so reminiscent of the area of New Hampshire where I grew up.  I don't think the photo was necessarily taken there, but it looks so much as if it could have been.  I'm guessing this is why my mother was moved to save the magazine page.

I'm thankful that we live in the digital age, for I could just scan this lovely illustration, crop out most of the tattered edges, and then throw the paper away.  (To see the photo in its entirety, just double click on it.)

Hope you have enjoyed this bit of vintage fall loveliness today!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Two of the first leaves to fall

In the past couple of weeks, I've noticed fallen leaves here and there on the ground.  These leaves are usually damaged in some way, but they are often unusually pretty.  I often scan these pretty, early leaves, then throw them away.  It's a good way to "preserve" their beauty for years to come.

I love the red and green in the leaf at the top of the post.

Then there is this one:

It's slightly misshapen, as if it just didn't grow quite right.  But the shades of green, yellow, orange, and even a bit of red, are uniquely lovely.  It's such a blessing to view God's artistry in His creation!

Hope you've enjoyed this peek at the beginning of our foliage season!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Friday five

 (Above photo is from a previous fall retreat at The Wilds of New England)
The Fridays sure do come around quickly! I'm thankful to be able to take this opportunity to praise God for five things He's blessed us with in the past week.  Thankful too for the Best of My Days cards by Ashley at Under the Sycamore.  As I mentioned in a previous post, each December Ashley has offered a new set of these to download and print for free.  Each card has a month's worth of numbered spaces, one for each day of the month, on which one writes the best thing that happened on that day.  As I noted before, getting serious about this simple journaling technique in August has really increased my gratitude and helped me to notice more of my blessings each day.  Some days it is awfully difficult to pick just one thing!  Anyhow ... on with this week's Friday five:

1.  Visitors at church both on Sunday and Wednesday evening.  Sunday's visitors had just moved here from a western state.  Interestingly, in conversation we found that they now live on our street!  Wednesday night's visitors live in another region of our state, but have family near our church and have previously visited on a couple different Sundays.  It was a blessing to have them there unexpectedly on a Wednesday evening.  When your church is as small as ours, visitors are a huge encouragement!

2.  Getting my dining room and entry area decorated for fall.  I ordinarily wait until the first day of fall, but this year I needed to get it done early.  The pic I'll share will be from a previous year, since I haven't found time to take photos of what I did on Monday.  And now I see that I left out many fall items that I usually use.  No matter, what I have done is pretty and I can add more later if I choose.  For now, the fall decor is making me smile every time I look at it.
3.  Celebrating my hubby's birthday with our daughter's family on Saturday evening.  Always fun to spend time with these kids.

4.  My hubby had a day off due to rain on Tuesday.  We got lots of errands and other tasks accomplished, went out for coffee after voting and actually went out for an early supper around  4 or so.  It was a treat to be able to spend extra time together! 

5.  Strength that God gave for a very busy day yesterday and one that is equally busy today.  I've felt rather tired and not up to all that I need to do, but God has given strength beyond my own.

In a few hours I'll be heading off to a ladies' retreat at The Wilds of New England.  To my delight, the speaker this weekend is Denise Cunningham, who happens to write the blog RefreshHer.  I am so looking forward to meeting Denise in person and hearing all that she will share from God's Word.  No doubt when I write my Friday five next week, this retreat will be one of the blessings I'll be counting!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Paperless Post review

(Photo at top is from Pixabay, though it sure looks as if it could be in my neighborhood!)

Well, it has now been nearly a year since I first tried out Paperless Post for e-cards.  I've been asked to do a review, so here we go!

In case you've never heard of Paperless Post,  the site 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, Paperless Post users have sent out over 100 million cards for all occasions.

I had been interested to try this out, since I often send e-cards for birthdays and other occasions.  I had been finding it more difficult to find cards that I liked everything about.  So the opportunity to customize my own digital cards with photos, personal messages, and more, has been a very good thing.

I started by creating birthday cards for several of my grandchildren.  I have since gone on to send Paperless Post birthday cards to almost all of the grandchildren, and they have really enjoyed receiving them.  (They have also liked the option of sending me a reply!) There are many, many birthday cards to choose from, and you can find them by going to Paperless Post and choosing the birthday cards option.

 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.  Users can put their creativity to work, and I really like the opportunity to do this.

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.  You can then choose an optional backdrop to complement your card.  This isn't necessary, but it's fun and there are many backdrops to select from, so I always choose one.

Next comes the back of the card, where the greeting will be located.  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, there are many choices for these.  For the envelope front, you can choose a postmark and a stamp.

I've found the whole process to be  easy and fun.  It reminds me somewhat of the photo calendars and books I've made online, with the many options for personalization.

There is also the option to send a card right away or to schedule it for a later date and time.   I'm thankful for the option to schedule the cards, as I am very prone to forgetting the dates and then scrambling to get a card sent.

After getting started by making some birthday ecards, I went on to design and send cards to friends for many different occasions.  I've sent Thank You cards and Get Well cards, but I think my favorite category for all-occasion use may be the Paperless Post Just Because cards.  So many times, I would want to drop a quick note to a friend as I was thinking of her.  Paperless Post saved me many a trip to the store to buy a card.  It was a blessing to be able to personalize a card for a particular situation in a friend's life.

I really, really like Paperless Post.  I love being able to customize e-cards for various occasions, and the ability to choose styles that the recipient will enjoy.  So I would definitely recommend this site to my readers who might be interested in something like this.

This post was written in partnership with PaperlessPost and Anagram Interactive, but obviously all opinions are my own and reflect only my experiences.  Hope others will find this site as useful as I have!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Patriot Day prayer

Last year I posted a link to a prayer for hope and healing on Patriot Day.  Today I would like to just share that prayer and quote a few lines from the accompanying post written by Paige at Again this year,  I was so encouraged by this post: A Patriot Day prayer for hope and healing.

Paige wrote:

"On this 17-year anniversary of that sad day in our history, we honor the memory of those who lost lives and loved ones. And, we give thanks for those who had the courage to serve in the face of danger.

"And, while Patriot Day (9/11) is recognized as the official day of remembrance for this tragic event, we know that any day is a good day to lift those most impacted up in prayer.

"Dear Loving Father,

We pause to remember the great losses and courageous acts of September 11th. We lift up those who are still affected -- Families of the victims, police officers, firemen, first responders and all who were involved. We pray for the light of Christ to flood the hearts of people everywhere. We believe you desire to redeem all your creation, and we trust that beauty will continue to come from the ashes of our darkest days. Surround us with your mighty angels of protection, give us compassion for one another in all life’s circumstances, and the courage to answer your call.

"So when we ask ourselves, even today: What is happening to our country? Are we safe? Is it going to be ok? Here‘s what I know: God was there in the chaos, and He is with us in this moment. His heart may break for His precious children, but He is never surprised by our struggles. He goes before us; He can be trusted with every detail; and He is our safe place today, and for all eternity."

So I exhort my friends today: oh, let us all take courage from those facts!  As His children understand, God is with us in chaos, as He is in each moment of our lives. And just as Paige pointed out so beautifully, "He goes before us; He can be trusted with every detail; and He is our safe place today, and for all eternity."

Friday, September 07, 2018

Friday five

From Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
Giving this a try again ...

1.  So incredibly thankful for God's protection in a very scary near-collision on Labor Day.  We were merrily tootling down one of our state roadways when an old man pulled out in front of us.  My hubby had a split second to decide what to do and quickly swerved around the back of his car.  Another vehicle was behind the old gent and thankfully there was enough room to go in front of them.  Pretty sure they were as horrified as we were when he pulled out.  It seems as if he looked to his right but not to his left before pulling out.  Praise God for His angels round about us!

2.  A cookout followed by s'mores and then learning a new game with grands, on Labor Day evening.  Lots of fun!
Arielle with s'more
A fun game
 3.  A great time of fellowship with friends visiting from out of state.  We took them to our favorite local seafood place.  (Not the one pictured below.  That one's in Maine.)  I don't have a good photo of our local place.

4.  Finding time to write a blog post for the last Wednesday Hodgepodge.  I will miss it (as will many other bloggers) but I'm sure I will find plenty to write about going forward.  Finding time to write may be a different matter!
5.  Finding a home for a large amount of music CDs and cassettes.  My parents and sister had large collections of Christian music.  Through a missionary prayer letter, I learned that a Christian radio station in another country has a need for good music.  The missionary (who, with his family, had stayed in my parents' home years ago and knew them well) specifically mentioned CDs, but when I emailed to ask about cassettes he was happy to take those as well.  I packed up a huge box, sent it off media mail (they are in the US right now) and it's on its way.  How wonderful that this music is going to be heard by folks who will be encouraged and blessed by it.  And my parents would be so pleased that a personal friend of theirs could utilize these tapes and CDs.
And there is my Friday Five!  Thankful to the Lord for all of His blessings this week, but those are a few of the highlights.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Farewell Hodgepodge

 (Above image made using a free image from The Graphics Fairy)

It's Wednesday -- time again for the Hodgepodge with Joyce and friends at From This Side of the Pond.  Sadly, but understandably, Joyce has made the decision to retire the weekly Hodgepodge.  Even as a relative newbie with the Hodgepodge myself, I had come to rely on it as a means of ensuring at least one blog post per week.  I will surely miss it, but completely understand Joyce's decision.  She has been hosting this for nearly nine years ... an incredible time commitment!

So why not join in for this final Hodgepodge? Just head on over, copy the questions, then paste and answer them on your own blog.  Go back over to Joyce's to link up, and you're done!   Here are this week's questions:

1. What has been the highlight of your summer so far? (It's still summer, people!)

I don't think I can pick just one highlight.  It may have been the wedding we attended in Maine, or meeting up with Vee,

or our recent visit to the Inn at Crotched Mountain.

Or it could be any one of the fun picnics we've enjoyed, or simple get-togethers with family or friends.

2. What do you wish you'd done more of this summer? Less of?

I should, and probably eventually will,  wish I had done more housework.  I wish I had done more walking.  My walking partner hates humidity (as do I) and was dealing with some hard things over the summer, so we didn't walk as much as we might have otherwise.  But I also wish I had spent more time at the lake.

I will probably come to wish I had eaten less ice cream, but for the moment I'm glad we enjoyed that as often as we did.

3. Something you're looking forward to on your September calendar?

A fantastic time of making memories with loved ones from far away.  Memories a little bit similar to (but in most ways vastly different from) those above, as these people are all together again for the first time in three years.

I'm also looking forward, very much, to a ladies' retreat at The Wilds of New England.

4. Best/favorite book you've read this summer?

 Have I even completed a book?  I'm nearly finished reading Gladys Taber's The Stillmeadow Road, so may have to call that the best.  I've also dipped into The Fringe Hours, by Jessica Turner, and have also been enjoying reading a cookbook -- Ken Haedrich's Feeding the Healthy Vegetarian Family.  I picked that one up at our local library and liked it so much that I ordered a copy from Thriftbooks.  Lots of good ideas in it.

I was always a reader.  Learned to read very young and always enjoyed reading, to an extreme at times.  I still like to read, but carving out time is difficult.  Hence, I am more apt to use books as seen below ...

5. Share something positive, encouraging, or uplifting here.

Oh, let me think.  I know!  Every year for the past few, I have been printing out the Best of My Days cards by Ashley at Under the Sycamore.  Every December for some time, Ashley has offered a new set of these to download and print for free.  Essentially, each card has a month's worth of numbered spaces, one for each day of the month, on which one writes the best thing that happened on that day.

I often give these as Christmas gifts to young women in my life, and usually make a set for myself as well.  (Below you see some that I have done as gifts.)  This year I failed miserably to write anything on my own set, but in August I determined to get serious about it.  As I recognized things to thank God for each day, I found my gratitude increasing so much!  This has been such a blessing in my life this month, especially when I would have preferred to complain about the heat and humidity.  I plan on continuing this for the rest of the year.

Why not try this yourself?  At the very least, why not number some notebook pages or scrap paper with the days of the remaining months and jot down a blessing each day?  You'll find it so encouraging to see all that God is doing in your life.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

Not all that random, but it has to be a thank-you to Joyce for keeping the Hodgepodge going all these years.  A huge commitment of time and energy on her part -- and a blessing to her readers and Hodgepodge participants.  Thank you, Joyce, and may the Lord bless you as you move on in your writing and blogging endeavors.  Lots of fun family things going on in your life as well!

So ends the final Hodgepodge.  Happy Wednesday, everyone!