Saturday, November 16, 2019

Enchilada sauce mix

In my November randomness post, I alluded to using an enchilada sauce mix, and some readers were interested in the recipe.  Alas, I find that that recipe is not on my computer anywhere.  I have it scribbled down on the recipe for the Tortilla Enchilada Soup, but cannot find it elsewhere.  I don't even know where I found it to begin with.  Hence this post.

ENCHILADA SAUCE MIX (for equivalent to 1 can red enchilada sauce)

1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon dried minced onion
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Combine with 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes to approximate 1 can of enchilada sauce.

Or, and this is what I do: quadruple the recipe, measuring the spices into a small bowl, and mix them well.  Transfer to a small jar and label.  When ready to use, combine 2 Tablespoons of the spice mixture with the 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes.

This has worked very well in every recipe I've tried it in.  As I mentioned to Vee, I really don't know how authentic it tastes, but it's great in recipes and the price is right!

Friday, November 15, 2019

Friday five for November 15

November graphic by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
Just a very quick Friday five post before the day gets completely away from me ...

1.  Having a quieter-than-usual week with very little time out of the house (our van was in the shop getting snow tires and having other issues checked out).  I was actually thankful I couldn't go anywhere when we ended up with snow and freezing rain, not to mention subzero wind chills this week.  Truly, God cares about every detail of our lives and His faithfulness is great!
Another by Abby
2.  Lovely chats with my two daughters and also with Jennifer, my "daughter of the heart". 

This past week as I studied for Sunday School,  I came to a question I had previously answered concerning people who have mentored us and helped us get to where we are today in our Christian life and walk.  This particular lesson is on thankfulness, and the question was to get us thinking as to people we could thank for bringing us along spiritually. 

As I thought further about this, I realized that my own daughters have mentored me in a way: while they were in college they frequently shared things they were learning about various spiritual disciplines, and they also shared helpful books they had read.  Definitely a good bit of what my prayer life is today stems from their sharing with me what they had learned on making a prayer journal.  Joanna is the one who first told me about Elizabeth George’s book Loving God with All Your Mind, which is truly life-changing.  At this point I'm a mentor to Jennifer, so in a very real way she is reaping the benefits of what my daughters shared with me.  God is so good!

Abby again!
3.  Time for some long-deferred housework, including scrubbing the tub and shower!

4.  Time to blog in both this blog and my Christmas one (link in sidebar).  Getting some posts scheduled for later this month and also for December.  Lots on my Christmas blog this week about cookies, candy, and freezing these goodies for later gifting.

5.  Saving money on groceries two weeks in a row.  Gotta love that Hannaford Rewards program that gives you 2% off on their store brands.  My bill was under $72 today and under $69 last week.

And there is this week's Friday five!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

November randomness

Lacking inspiration,  I thought a random November post might be in order.

Is anyone but me surprised at how fast November is passing?  It's over one-third over already, folks.  I am just not ready for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or wintry weather. Speaking of which, we got our first measurable snow yesterday.  And this morning we had wind chills of six below zero.  I hope it warms up.  I heard a forecast of 40ΒΊ for Friday.  Hope it's true and that it's sunny so this snow will melt.  Otherwise, we may be stuck with this until spring.  Oh well, it's all in God's hands.
Let's see.  I'm trying to get organized with my Christmas gifting.  Still not as organized as I would like to be, but I have some gifts purchased and made and a few more planned for.

Over at my Christmas blog,  I've been posting my lists for cookie baking and candy making.  As usual, I'm planning to post in the Christmas kitchen every day during December, Lord willing of course. 

Maybe here at my kitchen table too, I'm not sure about that yet.   I've written and scheduled a few posts for December already, so it's possible I'll get here every day.

Anyone else find their December calendar filling up already?  We have a couple of church events already scheduled and my hubby's work Christmas party.  I'm trying hard not to overcommit myself this year.  Other than a card swap with my friends at the Christmas craft forum, I'm not planning to participate in any online exchanges this year.

Doing some cleaning today, I was reminded of just how much I love these Crocheted Swiffer Covers.  I've made three of them now and find that I really use them.  I think I'll make a couple more so I can always have a fresh, clean one ready to go.  If you look at the pattern, you'll see that it calls for changing colors with the rows.  I don't bother with that; just use a variegated yarn.  It goes more quickly.

I find that I'm using the slow cooker more already this season.  I use the slow cooker even if I'm going to be home all day.  If I'm doing lots of cleaning, writing, crafting, or whatever, supper can just cook itself and I don't have to think about it once I've loaded the ingredients in the slow cooker.  Tonight's supper is going to be


4 cups chicken broth (I use water and the chicken "better than bouillon" soup base)
2 cans chicken with rice soup
1 small boneless skinless chicken breast (frozen is fine -- or use a can of chicken, flaked)
1 cup salsa or picante sauce
1 can red enchilada sauce
Flour tortillas (or sometimes I just use tortilla chips)
Shredded cheddar cheese OR cubes of velveeta-type cheese

In crock pot combine the broth, soup, chicken breast, salsa, and enchilada sauce. Cook on low for about 4 hours. Remove chicken breast from soup; shred it or cut in small pieces. Return to soup.

When ready to eat, cut flour tortillas into strips (scissors work best for this). Put tortilla strips in each bowl and ladle the hot soup on top. Top with shredded cheddar or cubed velveeta. About 6 servings.

This is another favorite in our “rotation” of crockpot meals. It is just delicious and soooo easy.

(So now I see I am going to have to write another post very soon and include the recipe for homemade enchilada sauce mix.  You combine a blend of spices with a can of diced tomatoes and it works admirably.  I mix up a small jar full of the seasoning and keep it on hand.  I haven't bought enchilada sauce (other than the green kind occasionally) for quite awhile.)

Check out "slow cooker recipes" in the label cloud for more ideas!

I've been thoroughly enjoying  the Making Your Home a Haven Challenge at Women Living Well, and have been posting my thoughts on Instagram most days.

Lovely graphic by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
Guess this post has gotten unwieldy enough so that I'd better close and go get myself some lunch.  Oh, one last tidbit -- Mr. T has 22 days left of work.  We're both looking forward to him taking a bit of time off while we think about what he'll do next.  An early Christmas present, if you will -- that time off. πŸ˜€

Monday, November 11, 2019

Monday musings

Graphic from Gooseberry Patch
First of all, I would be remiss if I did not mention that today is Veterans Day.  Some time ago I read a post from  Barbara H. who blogs at Stray Thoughts. She used a graphic which pointed out the meanings of Memorial Day, Veteran's Day, and Armed Forces Day.  I am often confused about these holidays, so I appreciated her sharing the information.  Memorial Day honors those who died in service to our nation.  Veterans Day honors the living who have served in our armed forces.  And Armed Forces Day honors those who are currently serving in the military.

I couldn't say it better than the folks at Gooseberry Patch have done above.  Veterans, we honor you and thank you today and every day!  Veterans Day is a blessing in itself as it reminds us of those who serve our country and help to keep it safe.

Let's see, other blessings. 

🍁  We had a lovely time on Friday evening with our friends Sam, Jenn, and Noah.  It's such a blessing to have these younger believers around our table, enjoying a meal and then a time of Bible study together!

🍁  Celebrating this little girl's 5th birthday on Saturday was a special time! 

🍁  I was also thankful to finish a gift I'd started for her some time ago.  She is really getting into spelling and sounding out words, and needed more of these to spell words to her heart's content!

🍁  We enjoyed edifying church services on Sunday as we received a final report from missionaries our church has supported for over 30 years.  They are leaving the field of Brazil and their mission, but they won't really be retiring from serving the Lord at all!

🍁   I'm thankful to have begun Week 2 of the Making Your Home a Haven Challenge at Women Living Well.  Week 1 focused on gratitude and was certainly a blessing.   Week 2 is focusing on Meditation and it, too, promises to be a great encouragement.

🍁  We're continuing to thank God for sustaining our church family while we wait on His timing for a new pastor.  He has given us good leaders and He faithfully supplies encouraging speakers for us every week. 

Just a few Monday musings to share with you all ...

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Tuesday thankfulness

Wonderful graphic by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
The weekend was very busy and there was no time to post a Friday five, so I am going with a thankful Tuesday.  I'm participating in the Making Your Home a Haven Challenge this year, and the theme for Week 1 is Gratitude, so posting this today seems just right.  Here goes:

1.  Strength and stamina to look after four grandchildren for the weekend!  (We spent the days at our house and the nights at their home.)  The kids were great and so helpful.  One example:  At one point after Saturday's breakfast I suggested the dish drainer could use emptying so I could start the breakfast dishes. Instantly the three big kids converged on the kitchen and flew around putting things in their proper places. 

2.  Lots and lots of furniture moved with the help of 15-year-old grandson Sam.  My parents' dressers and a nightstand moved to our home; one of our dressers becoming a storage area for my Etsy items; some antique furniture from our home moved to storage until we can decide how to sell it; other pieces of furniture destined for the dump as soon as a dump run can be scheduled; well, you get the idea.  Lots still to do, but lots got done.

3.  Coupons to eat out at Subway on Saturday night.  Not sure I could have produced a meal that evening after having spent a lot of time cooking for Sunday.   Again, the kids are so good and were so appreciative of this treat.  Not saying this because they are our grandchildren, but kids like this are a blessing to be around!

3.  Acquiring a new-to-us wood stove for the kitchen to replace the ancient one we've used for years.  With Sam's help Mr. T got all of the new stove pipe in place and the stove is up and running!  It's cozy and looks so nice too.

4.  Having longtime friends over for lunch after church on Sunday!  Due to circumstances and busyness it was a simple meal -- Italian Wedding Soup in the crockpots, purchased Italian bread, and then Apple Crisp and ice cream for dessert -- but it all worked out and of course the fellowship was the most important thing.

5.  An extra hour of sleep on Saturday night!  I am not a fan of Standard Time; however, in this case the extra hour of sleep was hugely helpful.  The three big kids all woke up in plenty of time to get ready for church and the little one slept on until awakened.  And Mr. T and I were so thankful for the additional sleep for ourselves.

6.  A beautifully sunny morning Monday for our dear friend's interment at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery.  We had prayed for good weather and for the day to not be cold, so that his widow need not stand out in the cold.  When we saw how beautiful it was at that time, we knew we were seeing an answer to prayer.  Later, the day clouded in and grew chilly, but we were so thankful for sun and warmth yesterday morning!

I could go on and on ... there is so much to be thankful for!  But I'll end this post and get back to work...

Friday, November 01, 2019

November goals

Wow, another month.  This year has simply flown by, it seems to me!  But November is here, and it's time to set some goals for the month:

* Do the Making Your Home a Haven Challenge at Women Living Well
* Memorize at least 4 Bible verses and review some older ones
* Continue our discipleship study with new believers
* Continue to help a recently widowed friend with the challenges of life in general
* Continue study for Sunday School -- A Woman Who Reflects the Heart of Jesus
* Get to bed by 9 pm each night  
* Limit sugar
* Drink enough water each day
 * Walk and/or exercise at least 4 times each week
* Keep up with Flylady's homemaking zones of the week (with some help from Clean Mama)
* Do something creative each day
* Post in this blog several times per week
* Post in my Christmas blog as often as possible
* Continue planning for family birthday gifts and crafting any handmade ones
* Spend a little time on some UFO craft projects
* Continue stocking my Etsy shop and continue selling vintage items
* Work on Etsy and trust bookkeeping as necessary
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family
* Help and encourage my local daughter as I'm able
* Look after said daughter's children while she and her hubby have a getaway
* Make and carry out Thanksgiving plans 
* Cook and bake for a Harvest Dinner at church
* 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
* Continue to sort out and declutter my dad's house, hopefully taking many loads to the dump and thrift store and consolidating the remaining items yet to dispose of;  work on estate
* Possibly spend a day helping my cousin get started with a similar task at her childhood home
* Have a getaway with my hubby
* Maybe go out for breakfast with friends from Vermont
* Plan meals with a greater emphasis on healthy eating
HEALTHY HABITS FOR NOVEMBER:  Drink more water/get more sleep/limit sugar
🍁  πŸ‚  🍁  πŸ‚  🍁  πŸ‚  🍁  πŸ‚  🍁  πŸ‚  🍁  πŸ‚  🍁  πŸ‚  🍁 
And here is how October went:
* Do an October Scripture writing challenge -- DONE!
* Memorize at least 4 Bible verses and review some older ones -- DONE!
* Continue our discipleship study with new believers -- DONE!
* Continue to help a recently widowed friend with the challenges of life in general -- DONE!
* Continue study for Sunday School -- A Woman Who Reflects the Heart of Jesus -- DONE!
* Get to bed by 9 pm each night  -- really worked at this, but not done consistently
* Limit sugar -- not done consistently
* Drink enough water each day -- not done consistently
 * Walk and/or exercise at least 4 times each week -- DONE!
* Keep up with Flylady's homemaking zones of the week (with some help from Clean Mama) -- not done
* Do something creative each day -- DONE!
* Post in this blog several times per week -- DONE!
* Post in my Christmas blog as often as possible  -- once was all I could manage, apparently
* Continue planning for family birthday gifts and crafting any handmade ones -- DONE!
* Spend a little time on some UFO craft projects -- DONE!
* Continue stocking my Etsy shop and continue selling vintage items -- DONE!
* Work on Etsy and trust bookkeeping as necessary  -- n/a right now
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family -- DONE!
* Help and encourage my local daughter as I'm able -- not as often as I'd like
* 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!
* Continue to sort out and declutter my dad's house, hopefully taking many loads to the dump and thrift store and consolidating the remaining items yet to dispose of;  work on estate -- DONE!
* Possibly spend a day helping my cousin get started with a similar task at her childhood home -- DONE!
* Have a getaway with my hubby -- DONE!
* Get together with friends visiting from Indiana -- DONE!
* Maybe go out for breakfast with friends from Vermont-- not done
* Attend a couples' retreat at The Wilds of New England -- DONE!
* Plan meals with a greater emphasis on healthy eating -- done most of the time
HEALTHY HABITS FOR OCTOBER:  Drink more water/get more sleep/limit sugar

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Our trip to the Great North Woods, part 5

Ducks on the shore just outside our cabin.
Time for the fifth and final installment of our trip to the Great North Woods!  This one will cover Thursday and Friday -- Friday being our travel day.

Thursday morning as the mist was rising over the lake, we saw an interesting sight.  A boat docked at the next place over was slowly sinking into the lake!  Apparently it had filled up with water from all the rain.  (The photo below is blurry for two reasons -- the mist, and a secondary reason which I'll explain later.  Those of you who are on Instagram already know what happened!)

Mr. T did try and find out who the boat belonged to and eventually tracked down someone who knew a friend of the owner.  Presumably he was able to contact his friend and hopefully get his boat pumped out and out of the water.  The dunking would not have done the engine much good.

Our plans for Thursday included two major events.  Mr. T was planning a morning kayak paddle on Second Connecticut Lake with our friend Charlotte.  And in the afternoon we were having longtime friends over for coffee, with Charlotte joining us for this time also.

The photos below are from Second Connecticut Lake.

When Charlotte dropped Mr. T off following their paddle, I was very surprised to see that he was soaking wet!   He hurried into dry clothes while I found places to hang/drape the wet ones; then he spread the contents of his wallet on the heater to dry.

What happened?  As he was getting out of his kayak (not his own; he was using Charlotte's extra one), it started floating away and he ended up with one leg in and one leg out of the kayak and landed in the lake.  Obviously the water was not very deep there at the shore, but he got very wet, and so did the camera, which was literally floating in the kayak.

More about that later.  But any photos from here on out would be taken with the Kindle.

Our friends arrived in the late afternoon and we enjoyed a great time of catching up with them and hearing all about what  they -- their kids and grandkids -- are doing these days.  (Our daughters all went to college together.)  I had made and frozen some brownies and some peanut butter brownies and had brought those along with us -- so we had treats to enjoy with coffee.  Charlotte also brought some cookies, and our friends did as well.

It was a truly lovely visit and one we hope to repeat the next time we are up north.

We had another quiet cozy evening in the cabin and even did a little packing.

We'd planned to go out for breakfast on Thursday morning, but the restaurant ended up being closed, so we put it off until Friday.  We always enjoy Happy Corner Cafe, and -- though we could have chosen to go elsewhere, we decided to just wait until they were open.  We knew that even though we were leaving on Friday, a breakfast out might be just the ticket and we would still have plenty of time to  pack the car before we needed to check out of the cabin.
Part of the dining room at Happy Corner
Happy Corner Cafe has an entire page of omelets to choose from.  I chose one I'd never tried before, a Benedict Omelet with Canadian bacon, Swiss cheese, and Hollandaise sauce.  Very rich but oh so good!  I would love Eggs Benedict but I just can't stand poached eggs, so I jumped at the chance to try this.  And that's a homemade English muffin in the photo too.  Happy Corner specializes in those.

Fueled and fortified by this amazing breakfast, we finished packing up the van and left the cabin as neat as possible.  Mr. T tried once again to get some photos of that favorite scene across the lake, but it was a losing battle from the start using the Kindle.

 The one above was taken through the living room window.

We  then headed out and snapped photos along the way, again using the Kindle, but they came out quite well.

 I think the three photos above were all taken along Route 145 in Pittsburg.  We took sort of a back way to Littleton and the photo below is in one of the tiny towns on the route we took.

We took our time going home and stopped to do a few errands en route.  Arriving home,  we were delighted to discover that all of the photos on the water-logged camera actually did transfer to the computer.  The first few (like the one of the sinking boat) had obviously been affected by the moisture, but not the others.  Thankfully there were only a dozen or so pictures on that new card anyway.

What a wonderful trip it was!  So many memories have been made.  Hope you've enjoyed following along...

Monday, October 28, 2019

Choco-Marshmallow Cookies

Last Thursday I took some time to bake cookies.  I would have guessed that I had posted this cookie recipe a long time ago, but it doesn't seem to be here, so I'm posting it now.  The Kindle photo above shows these cookies being packaged in a tin, which is only right, as you will see if you read on.

This is an old favorite that I often made years ago.  When my daughters were at boarding school in the 1990s, I routinely sent tins of cookies back to school with them after the weekend.  These cookies seemed necessary to get them and their friends through the week.  There were a number of different types of cookies that I baked, and this is one of the recipes that I used.

One friend of Carrie's, in particular, loved these chocolate cookies with a marshmallow half hidden under frosting,  and so from time to time I would make them just for her.

Here's the recipe:

1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortening -- I used butter flavor Crisco®, but I'm sure you could use butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup milk
Chopped walnuts if you like -- I never use them
18 regular marshmallows cut in half horizontally
Cocoa Frosting (recipe follows)

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; set aside.

Cream together shortening and sugar in bowl until light and fluffy, using electric mixer at medium speed.  Add egg and vanilla, beating well.

Add dry ingredients alternately with milk to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition.  Add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts if you are using them. 

Drop mixture by teaspoonfuls, about 2 inches apart, on parchment-lined baking sheets.  Bake in 350ΒΊ oven for 10 minutes.  Top each with a marshmallow half, cut side down.  Return to oven for 2 minutes.

Let cool slightly before transferring cookies to cooling racks. 

When completely cooled, frost with Cocoa Frosting, swirling frosting to cover the marshmallow.  Makes about 3 dozen.

2 cups confectioners sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
Dash of salt
3 Tblsp.melted butter
4 Tblsp. cream or milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Sift sugar, cocoa and salt into mixing bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and mix until smooth and creamy.

A couple of notes:
* I used Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten Free Baking Flour in these most recently.
* I doubled the recipe, but found I did not need to double the frosting amount.

This recipe was one I originally found in Farm Journal's Choice Chocolate Recipes --  a favorite cookbook and well used.  Its pages are liberally spattered with chocolate, and whole sections have come loose from the book.  Are you familiar with Farm Journal cookbooks?  I loved them and own quite a few of them.

Hope your family enjoys these cookies if you try the recipe!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Saturday six

Well, I ran out of time to post a Friday five, so we will go with a Saturday six.  Here goes:

1.  A productive day for getting a couple of larger items moved out of my childhood home -- a refrigerator and a wood stove -- and into our own house.  For years I have been accustomed to having an extra fridge in the basement, and when our 1940s fridge died it really impacted my shopping and cooking style.  For example, I could easily prepare desserts or even a crockpot meal  ahead and store them in the fridge until ready to use.  That all changed when we had only one refrigerator.  I'd gotten rid of my dad's fridge earlier through a recycling program, but there was still an extra one in the basement, so we moved it here and took our old one to the dump.  And then our old wood stove which we'd had for years was moved to a cabin we're hoping to fix up.  We took the soapstone stove  from my dad's home and put it in our kitchen to replace the old one.  Many thanks to our son-in-law Jim and grandson Sam for their help moving these heavy items around!
Crab apples near my childhood home
2.  A great day at church last Sunday.  We had a new-to-us pulpit supply and his morning message was so good -- from Titus chapter 2 and how believers are to live in this present world: we're to live soberly, righteously, and in a godly way.  We were also blessed by having several visitors worshiping with us.
Foliage from a previous year -- love these colors!
3.  Time to bake!  I baked some banana muffins last Saturday and some choco-marshmallow cookies on Thursday. 

4.  Time to post in both blogs -- no, not daily, but once in my Christmas blog and several times here.  Have you read my posts about our trip to the Great North Woods?  It's turned into a series with one installment to go!

5.  Getting a Christmas gift completed, and also a gift for a November birthday.

My hubby took this photo of a stone arch bridge a couple of years ago
6.  A McDonalds coffee date with my hubby today in the midst of running errands. 
Kindle photo of bittersweet from a previous year.  It's even nicer this year!
And there are some of my blessings from the past week.  Enjoy your weekend -- and don't forget to count your own blessings!