Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Writing Countdown Challenge, Day 62

Well, here goes with a big writing challenge! I have a kids' devotional book to write, and I'd like to complete it by May 1. I have 62 days until then, and need to write between 2 and 3 pages a day to make that happen. I need to write 113 actual daily devotional pages, and then prepare other assorted pages like projects, recipes, memory verse pages and coloring pages for a total of 141 pages in all.

For today, I got some organizational work done and began the Internet research for this project. I decided on one of the memory verses I will use and also chose a verse for the first page I'll write.

Perhaps someone else has a challenging project -- cleaning, a craft project, a home improvement project, etc. that they would like to complete by May 1. If so, feel free to join me in this challenge. We can cheer one another on!

Update on March decorating challenge

Since my weekend looks busy, and we still haven't found time to take down the Valentine/snowflake tree, I'm going to extend the March decorating challenge to March 9. We have houseguests coming on the 11th, I believe, so I need to get this taken care of before they arrive.

I have accomplished a couple of things on this challenge in the past 2 days.


* Took down a wreath (in front hallway) and replaced it with a picture

* Hung another picture in the hallway


* Put away leftover Christmas wrappings

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Life in order challenge, Day 12

Today was another good day! Here's what happened:

* A wonderful time of devotions

* Good time put in on my Sunday School lesson

* A nice long walk

* Exercising

* Healthy eating all day long

* Plenty of water to drink

* Finished journaling a Body Clutter mission

* Read another chapter in Body Clutter

* Filled out today's body clutter investigator

* Printed out new shopping lists and weekly calendars

* Planned healthy menus for the coming week

* Made a very healthy supper and enjoyed every bite

* Worked at blessing my home

* Got ready to start my huge writing project (with a deadline of May 1) and got lots of preliminary planning done

A great day!

A winter afternoon's excursion

During the time that Clay, Joanna and baby Darrin were with us, Mr. T took a couple of partial days off from work to spend time with them. One thing he had particularly hoped to do was to find a place where we could all take a sleigh ride. Of course, up until Valentine's Day (which was the night they arrived) we really didn't have enough snow to make such a thing feasible! I promised to check into it on the Internet.

Needless to say, since there was no snow before their arrival and little free time after their arrival, I hadn't gotten around to doing any research on sleigh rides. So, on Tuesday morning -- the day we hoped to go -- I googled sleigh rides in our part of New England and came up with 3 possibilities in two different states. Of those, one was out because they only offered sleigh rides on weekends. The research I did do showed me that prices varied wildly from about $10 to $45 per person! (Naturally, the weekend place was only $10 and included admission to a farm museum. It would have been great fun if we had had a weekend to work with.)

Mr. T called the other 2 possibilities and when he inquired about sleigh rides, they both said, "Oh, we're not doing that this year." (Because of the lack of snow, we assumed.) But one of them did tell him of another possibility of sleigh rides at an inn in the New Hampshire mountains. He called the inn and was told the sleigh rides started at noon. If we could get there by noon, we could go right then! Besides that, the price was right!

We did get to the inn just at noon and sure enough, these magnificent Belgian draft horses were waiting for us!

As soon as we could get baby Darrin bundled up enough (quite a frustrating process for a baby who's been living in onesies in the Caribbean!) we clambered into the sleigh and wrapped ourselves up in the quilts and blankets provided. What a wonderful time we had!

It was a very nice day -- only about 18º or 20º when we started out, but partly sunny and with no wind, which helped a lot. We had a lovely half-hour ride through glorious winter countryside with mountains all around and of course the photogenic inn in the background. For quite awhile baby Darrin looked as if he wasn't even going to blink, all of this was so foreign to him. But eventually he began to seem quite comfortable with it all.

When we returned to the parking lot, our congenial driver (and owner of the splendid team of horses) offered to take our picture, so we took him up on it and he did a marvelous job, as you can see here and at the top:

He also suggested we go into the lounge area in the basement of the inn, to warm up. It was very nice, with a huge rustic stone fireplace to warm up by.
We stayed there for a short time and then headed out on the rest of our adventure.

We were all hungry, so we headed to the nearby town of Littleton for lunch at the famous Littleton Diner. We had a delicious lunch -- and I actually had breakfast for lunch! (I love it when places serve breakfast all day.) My pancakes were wholegrain ones and absolutely wonderful. They were made with flour from the Littleton Grist Mill, a very old mill which has been restored.

After lunch, we went to see the grist mill. I had read somewhere that they offered tours, and we thought that would be an interesting thing to see. However, the mill was undergoing maintenance and we could not go downstairs to see the workings. Instead, we could view models that showed how it worked and also some actual millstones which were on display. There was also a nice little shop where I bought a few gifts and a bag of bran raisin muffin mix which I am looking forward to trying.

After another photo op or two, we headed for home and enjoyed the splendid views of the mountains along the way. What a happy day it had been!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Life in order challenge, Day 13

Today was another good day for this challenge:

* Had a wonderful time of devotions.

* Did some studying toward my Sunday School lesson.

* Stayed on track with healthy eating.

* Read a chapter in Body Clutter and began journaling for this chapter's mission.

* Filled out my body clutter investigator.

* Exercised.

* Drank plenty of water.

* Went for a 2-mile walk.

* Prepared a healthy, delicious supper.

* Took some preliminary steps toward my next writing project.

That may be about all, but it was a great day!

House in order challenge, Day 4

I didn't accomplish a whole lot toward this challenge today -- just changed sheets, did a lot of laundry and some menu planning, and washed a mirror and a couple of floors. But things are getting back to normal!

Italian Wedding Soup

(for the crockpot)

Diana asked for this recipe, and I thought I might have posted it previously but couldn't find it in a search, so I'm posting it now. It is very easy and absolutely delicious!

ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP (for the crock pot)

6 cups chicken broth
12 to 15 1/2-ounce frozen meatballs (or 6 to 8 1-oz. ones)
1 small boneless skinless chicken breast (may be frozen)
Sliced celery to taste (I usually use a cup or two)
Cut-up carrots to taste (I usually use baby carrots and quarter them -- again, about a cup or two)
Spinach to taste, stems removed (can use up to a bunch of spinach -- I have used part of a bag of baby spinach leaves or of frozen cut leaf spinach)
Garlic powder to taste
Lemon pepper to taste
1/4 cup tiny pasta, like alphabets or orzo -- or you can use rice (any of these will be added during last hour of cooking)
Parmesan or Romano cheese to taste

Put the meatballs on a microwave safe plate and defrost them for a minute or two, so you can quarter them. If using the larger (1 oz.) meatballs, cut them in eighths.

Put in crock pot along with broth, chicken, vegetables and seasonings.  Cook all day on low or 3 hours on high.

Add pasta during the last hour of cooking. (In the case of alphabets, I have added them just before
serving and they cook just fine.)

Before serving, remove the chicken breast and cut it or shred it in small pieces. Return chicken to the

Serve with Parmesan or Romano cheese for people to add to taste.

Probably makes about 6 servings.

This is one of my crock pot standbys! So easy with homemade bread from the bread machine!

Menu Plan Monday for February 26

Wow, here it is Monday again! I had to skip Menu Plan Monday last week because of being so busy with a houseful of company. Of course I did plan my menus, but I just didn't have time to post them or do any blogging, for that matter. I wanted to spend every possible minute with visiting family.

And now here we are again, back at Monday so quickly. I have a taste for eating healthier, lighter food at this point, so my menus will reflect that. Here goes:

MONDAY: Stuffed Vegetarian Shells, Lemon Artichoke Romaine Salad

TUESDAY: Dutch Split Pea Soup, Cheddar Drop Biscuits

WEDNESDAY: Leftover soup and biscuits from Tuesday

THURSDAY: Fish Fillets with Broccoli, Mashed Potatoes, Tomato Aspic

FRIDAY: Pizza Frittata, Baby Carrots, Breakfast Potatoes

SATURDAY: Rosemary Chicken with White Beans, Salad, Wheat Italian Bread

SUNDAY: (Potluck at church) Mexican Meatball Soup, Cornbread, Cranberry Apple Crisp

And there you have it! Looking forward to seeing what others are serving this week...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

A Busy Sunday

It was a busy Sunday, with missionaries visiting at church this morning for Sunday School and the morning service, and with Patch Club doing their presentation in the evening service. Mr. T and I had the visiting missionary couple and their daughters over for lunch. It was a blessing to have some time to fellowship with this dear family who have been serving the Lord in Brazil for over 25 years. How faithful they have been to the work God has given them to do!

For lunch I served Italian Wedding Soup from the crockpot, along with 2 kinds of bread -- cornbread and wheat Italian bread. For dessert we enjoyed caramel apple crisp with gingerbread man ice cream. Very tasty if I do say so!

With all that was going on, I basically accomplished nothing toward my ongoing challenges -- but it was a wonderful day all the same.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Life in order challenge, Day 15

Again today, I worked toward this challenge by:

* Having a wonderful devotional and prayer time

* Working on my memory verses

* Eating healthy all day

* Drinking plenty of water

* Exercising

* Taking a brisk walk

* Writing in my Body Clutter journal

* Filling out today's body clutter investigator

* Making a daily schedule

* Working on a weekly schedule for next week

And I think that's about all, but it's been a most encouraging day!

House in order challenge, Day 6

I didn't get a lot done on this challenge today, but did accomplish a few things:

* Got all of the extra things -- blankets, baby stuff, etc. out of our room and back into the guest room closet

* Made a list of all the gifts from our kids/grandkids (to use in writing thank-you notes later) and put the gifts away

* Cleaned more mirror tiles, the microwave door, and the teakettle

* Put down a new small rug in the living room doorway

* Mr. T vacuumed the downstairs for me, especially all the shedding pine needles from our artificial tree

And that may be about it for today. We're having guests tomorrow for lunch, so I don't expect to accomplish much on any challenge, but one never knows!

Scripture Memory...

I believe that memorizing God's Word is of vital importance. I try to memorize (or refresh my memory of) a passage of Scripture every week. But I have really struggled trying to find a systematic Scripture memory plan that works for me.

I thought I had found the answer when I stumbled across a couple of pamphlets from the Bible Memory Association. But I really hadn't... the first one was very basic, mostly salvation verses which I had memorized long ago. The second one is better, but really simpler than what I want. I find myself memorizing several verses or sometimes an entire Psalm rather than the one or two verses they suggest. This is working for me for now, but I'd like some other ideas.

What do others suggest? Does anyone know of a systematic plan for memorizing Scripture? I would welcome your thoughts and recommendations!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Life in order challenge, Day 16

Today was a great day as far as this challenge is concerned. Here's what I did:

* Started my day with a wonderful devotional time.

* Worked on my memory verse.

* Ate healthy all day.

* Went for a nice long walk.

* Exercised.

* Drank plenty of water.

* Read a chapter in Body Clutter.

* Filled out my body clutter investigator -- a tool I have neglected to use in recent weeks.

It's been an encouraging day!

House in order challenge, Day 7

Today we got a few more things accomplished toward getting the house back in order:

* Got ALL the laundry finished and put away

* Washed all of the baby bedding and got it ready to put back in storage

* Washed some mirror tiles in the kitchen; shined the sink and the toaster

* Got all of the clothes put away we'd been using while we "lived" in the guest room

* Mr. T got the crib ready to put back in storage

* Mr. T loaded up the van for a trip to the dump tomorrow -- all the stuff we had decluttered, plus all the trash accumulated by many get-togethers and a week's worth of disposable diapers

And I'm sure there was more... but those are all the accomplishments I can remember right now!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Life in order challenge, Day 17

I took one small step toward this countdown challenge today -- I planned most of my menus for the coming week using a Light & Tasty Annual cookbook that I have. It's a good feeling to be thinking about cooking and eating lighter now.

House in order challenge, Day 8

I actually accomplished a few things today on this challenge:

* Changed sheets in the master bedroom and in the guest room

* Emptied 2 overflowing wastebaskets and took out the trash

* Did several loads of laundry and got some of it put away

* Restored some of the items we'd been using in the guest room while sleeping there to their rightful places in our own room

* Vacuumed and mopped the front hallway

* Vacuumed the kitchen floor and did a bit of mopping there as well

And that's about it!

Three new challenges...

Well, our daughter and her husband and baby have come and gone. It was wonderful having them here, but I'm sure many of you may be familiar with the big letdown that follows an enjoyable, exhausting time. I'm not feeling toooooo much of that, probably because of the many prayers on my behalf. But I thought it might be proactive of me to also keep myself busy with a few mini-challenges. (I'm soon to start a great big writing challenge, so I'll ease into that this way.)

#1 -- House in order challenge -- from now to March 1. I'll use this challenge to get my house back in order, laundry caught up, fridge cleaned out, etc. etc.

#2 -- March decorating challenge -- from now to March 1. I'll use this challenge to get all of my Valentine and Christmas decor taken down, but I won't try and do much spring decor yet. It won't be spring here for a looooong time yet.

#3 -- Life in order challenge -- from now to March 10. I'll use this challenge to get back into good cooking and eating habits, and to resume my housekeeping routines, exercise routines and devotional and Bible study routines, as well as beginning writing and research for my big writing project.

The accountability of these challenges will be a wonderful help to me, I'm sure -- the concept worked so well for me in the previous 2 challenges. I'm looking forward to getting life and my house back into good working order!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Valentine Countdown Challenge, Day 2

Well, this is almost it! Today I got a lot done toward the challenge:

* Crafted 3 gift card holders

* Did more decluttering in the computer room and master bedroom

* Put up a valance in the guest room

* Washed the upstairs bathroom floor

* Cleaned up a rocking chair (which has been living on the front porch for awhile) to bring into the master bedroom (where our guests will stay) for nursing/rocking the baby

* Put up a new shower curtain

* Washed and replaced the tub mat

* Scrubbed the tub/shower

* Confirmed a dinner invitation with a couple of people

That may be about it! Still some things to do tomorrow, like changing sheets, etc.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Valentine Countdown Challenge, Day 3

Now we are really down to the wire! Today was busy with laundry and other things, but here's what got done toward the challenge:

* Washed the guest room window and bought what I needed for a new window treatment there.

* Cut out pieces for 3 felt gift card holders.

* Crafted a new toilet paper basket (out of paper twist and an empty tissue box) for our downstairs bathroom

* Planned out what I still have to do in the way of cleaning projects

* Did some more decluttering in the computer room

* Mr. T added WD-40 to a squeaking glider rocker -- should help with rocking the little one.

* Sent out all the open house invitations and a few valentines

* Talked with 3 ladies about what they will bring to Friday's tea party

* Planned the week's menus

* Decluttered a shelf in the linen closet

And that may be about it. Tomorrow must be super-productive, as it's the last full day that we have before our guests arrive!

Menu Plan Monday for February 12

Another Monday! Where does the time go? We have company coming on Wednesday and so our week is looking very different, food-wise. Also may use a meal or two from last week -- things that weren't used due to leftovers, takeout, etc. Here goes:

MONDAY: Something with leftover chicken from Sunday, plus other leftovers -- need to clean out my fridge to buy more groceries

TUESDAY: Corn Chowder, Italian Cheese Bread

WEDNESDAY: eating out, after we pick up our guests at the airport

THURSDAY: Pork Chops with Apples, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans

FRIDAY: Vegetable Lasagna, Roasted Veggies, Italian Bread, Salad (also will be having a tea party at lunch time)

SATURDAY: Our family "Christmas" -- will be having various appetizers and desserts for the meal

SUNDAY: Meatball Stew, Whole Wheat Bread (then an open house with appetizers/desserts left from Sat, in the afternoon, then a fellowship time at church at night)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Valentine Countdown Challenge, Day 4

Where, oh where has the time gone? Here's what happened today, in addition to a Sunday full of worship and ministry:

* Time spent planning for the upcoming week

* Open house invitations all ready to send out

* A few minutes stitching on a pillowcase

* Some major improvements (in the area of door trim and baseboards) in our upstairs hallway

* New window treatments in the office/computer room

Hoping for a very productive day tomorrow!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Valentine Countdown Challenge, Day 5

Today was a very busy day, as well, but I managed to accomplish quite a bit toward the challenge:

* Created window treatments for the master bedroom -- made no-sew valances from blue fabric placemats and napkins on clearance at Walmart. I'm very pleased with how they came out. I've had lace curtains up at those windows for a long time (taking them down to wash them periodically, of course) and I really like the fresh, crisp look of these valances.

* Did a ton of decluttering on bookshelves in the computer room and hallway.

* Vaccumed the entire house -- of course it will need it again before Wednesday, but it looks good now.

* Did some decluttering in the craft closet.

* Did a bunch of decluttering in the guest room.

* Framed a family photo and arranged it along with another photo on the little table in the new upstairs sitting area.

* Worked on invitations for our open house.

* Washed some extra blankets so our guests will stay cozy and warm at night.

And that's about it for Day 5!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Valentine Countdown Challenge, Day 6

Wow, it has been a crazy-busy day, but somehow, by God's grace, I did get a little bit done toward the challenge:

* Spent a bit of time working on the embroidered pillowcase. I'm down to stem stitch, lazy daisy stitches and a few french knots. It should get finished by the end of the weekend.

* Washed the bedroom windows.

* Experimented with a new window treatment for said windows.

Forgot to mention that yesterday I decluttered the fridge and cleaned the top of the refrigerator.

Am hoping to accomplish much more tomorrow!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Valentine Countdown Challenge, Day 7

Today wasn't the most productive day, but I did accomplish a few things:

* Picked up one last gift card.

* Baked Golden Apricot Cakes for a Valentine care package.

* Baked Double Chocolate Scones for the care package and also to freeze to enjoy with our company.

* Washed and dried all of the baby blankets I own so the little fellow will stay warm.

* Washed/dried a couple of turtlenecks and some thermal pajamas for our guests to use -- they are coming from the tropics, after all.

* Purchased lots of groceries for their visit and the different parties that will be going on while they're here.

* Emailed a number of people about different things going on during the visit.

Think that's about it! Not expecting much from tomorrow -- too much else going on.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Valentine Countdown Challenge, Day 8

Almost nothing got done toward the challenge today, alas. It was a much busier-than-usual Wednesday -- and they are always busy. Here's what I did:

* Spent an hour or so working on an embroidered pillowcase.

* Hung a picture in our new sitting area at the top of the stairs.

* Got a sweater for our new little grandson to wear as he makes the transition from the tropics to frigid New England.

Sure am hoping for a more productive day 7!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Valentine Countdown Challenge, Day 9

Today was pretty good for accomplishments toward the challenge! It didn't seem to start out that way, but a lot got done:

* I moved some furniture around to make a cozy seating area on the landing at the top of our stairs. (This is something I have always wanted to do.)

* Bought some pretty cloth napkins on clearance at Walmart to use for a valance -- $3!

* Bought a small hooked rug at Walmart to cozy up this area.

* Between Mr. T and myself, we got all of the Christmas wrappings and a lot of other stuff into the attic.

* Mr. T got the porta-crib out of the attic to use for our littlest grandson while he's visiting.

* I got the menu for our "Christmas dinner" and our open house planned in detail and got needed items onto my shopping list.

* I found one last present that needed wrapping -- and wrapped it.

* We made tentative plans for another possible get-together while our guests are here. It's been over 2 years since they visited last, so they want to see as many people as possible.

That's about it for Day 9!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Valentine Countdown Challenge, Day 10

Today was quite a good day as far as the challenge goes...

* With Mr.T's help tonight, the last file cabinet, plus a desk and computer, got moved into the computer room.

* I wrapped the last gifts for our family Christmas!

* I got quite a bit of stitching done on a pillowcase -- almost all of the cross stitching is now complete.

* I decluttered a shelf in the linen closet.

* I found a home for all of the twin sheets we don't need anymore.

And also did tons of laundry, changed sheets, etc. etc.

One more recipe

Here's the last recipe from last week's menu... It's a very healthy, flavorful dish. Enjoy!


2 tsp. canola oil
1 large onion, quartered and then sliced
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tblsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups water
2 large carrots, peeled, sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 large potatoes, peeled, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1 pkg. frozen zucchini/squash blend (or use a large zucchini, quartered and sliced)
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, juice and all
1/4 cup raisins
8 ounces frozen salad shrimp
4 cups hot, freshly cooked brown rice (I use the brown rice/wild rice blend one can buy in bulk in the natural-foods section)
Chopped banana for garnish, optional

In a large deep nonstick skillet, heat the oil and saute´ the onion & garlic until soft. Stir in the curry powder, cinnamon, salt and water. Bring to a boil; add the carrots and potatoes. Cover the pan, and simmer the mixture for 10 minutes. Add the zucchini, tomatoes with juice, raisins, and shrimp; cover the pan and simmer for 10 more minutes.

Place the cooked rice in a serving dish and pour the vegetable-shrimp mixture over it. Sprinkle with coarsely chopped banana if you like. I think this would also be tasty with chopped cashews or peanuts as a garnish.

Yield: 6 servings.

I have slightly adapted this from a recipe in Jane Brody's Good Food Book. We find this delicious!

An easy weekday supper

This is on my menu for Wednesday -- I had actually planned it for last Wednesday, but ended up serving leftovers; even easier! Some ladies were interested in my recipes for last week, so here are these two. Enjoy!


1-2 Tblsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
7 eggs
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. pepper
4 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
2 plum tomatoes, cored and thinly sliced lengthwise
2 to 4 oz. pepperoni, thinly sliced
2 Tblsp. grated Parmesan cheese

In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Saute´the onions for 3 to 4 minutes until slightly softened.
Preheat the oven broiler.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and seasonings. Stir in the mozzarella.
Reduce heat under the skillet to low. Pour the egg mixture over the onions and stir gently to combine. Arrange the sliced tomatoes over the eggs. Scatter the pepperoni over the tomatoes. Cover the skillet and cook the egg mixture over very low heat for 10 minutes or until almost set.
Sprinkle Parmesan over the frittata. Place skillet in broiler and broil until top is just set and flecked with brown, about 1 minute. Serve the frittata hot or, if you prefer, at room temperature.
Yield: 4 servings.

This frittata is one of those meals you can make when you have “nothing” in your house to eat. I keep pepperoni and mozzarella cheese in the freezer at all times, and there are always eggs in the fridge.


2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup sliced onion
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Coat a 9-inch microwave-safe pie plate with cooking spray. Arrange the potato and onion slices in the plate and sprinkle with the seasonings. Cover and microwave on High for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the cheese. Cover and microwave on High for 4 to 5 minutes more, or until potatoes are tender. Yield: 2 servings.

We really like this easy potato recipe from an old TASTE OF HOME magazine. It goes especially well with egg dishes, but I think it would also be good alongside a hamburger. You can obviously increase the amounts to make more servings, but if you do, remember that the cooking time will be longer.

I plan to serve these two dishes with baby carrots on the side, but cole slaw or any sort of salad would work equally well -- or even a cooked vegetable like green beans or broccoli.

Menu Plan Monday for February 5

Well, here it is Monday again! It's a chilly one here in New England -- only 5º as I write this! I have a couple of repeat menus this week due to leftovers and meals not used. Here goes:

MONDAY: Lentil Soup, Cornbread (leftover from Saturday)

TUESDAY: Zucchini Sausage Pasta, Italian Mixed Vegetables

WEDNESDAY: Pizza Frittata, Breakfast Potatoes, Baby Carrots

THURSDAY: Baked Fish Chowder, Egg Biscuits

FRIDAY: Vegetable Shepherd's Pie, Coleslaw

SATURDAY: Ham Steak, Scrambled Eggs, Spiced Grapefruit

SUNDAY: Meatball Stew, Whole Wheat Bread

And that's it! I still have a couple of recipes to post which people had requested last week. Maybe I can get to that today. Happy Monday, everyone!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Valentine Countdown Challenge, Day 11

Today being Sunday and a busy one at that, not a lot got done toward the challenge. (We were at church from 9:20 this morning until about 5 this afternoon -- got there early to set up for today's potluck lunch, then we both taught Sunday School.. Had an 11 a.m. service, then lunch, then a 1:30 p.m. service, then our annual church business meeting.)But I did accomplish a few things:

* Did a lot of embroidery on the pillowcase;

* Moved a file cabinet with Mr. T's help;

* Thoroughly cleaned the floor where said file cabinet formerly resided;

* Moved a small table and a couple of other office-type items;

* Extended a couple invitations to the open house;

* Spoke with our daughter and husband concerning their upcoming visit;

* Wrapped several gifts.

And that's about it for Day 11!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Valentine Countdown Challenge, Day 12

Quite a few things got done today. We are trying to make a bedroom/computer room into an office/computer room. So here's what we did today:

* Took down a twin bed and stored it.

* Got the twin mattress/box spring in a vehicle to take to the dump.

* Cleaned out, vacuumed, and decluttered where the bed had been.

* Planned where we will move file cabinets and another desk to in this room.

* Moved a cedar chest out of this room and into the master bedroom.

* Moved 2 totes of craft materials into this room.

* Finished decluttering Mr. T's closet.

* Took a trip to the dump.

* Spent 45 minutes or so embroidering a pillowcase.

I think that's about it, but that's a lot!

A couple more recipes...

Here are a couple more of my recipes from this week's menu.

First, Potato Cheese Soup, which I got from one of my favorite sites, Patty's Pantry. You can find this recipe here:
Potato Cheese Soup

Now, here are the recipes I plan to make for supper tonight. I've posted them both before, but to save hunting for them, here they are:


1 to 2 Tblsp. olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 carrots, shredded
3/4 tsp. crumbled marjoram
1/2 tsp. crumbled thyme
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
7 cups beef broth (I use the beef bouillon granules with water)
1 1/2 cups dried lentils, picked over, rinsed
1/2 tsp pepper
Shredded Cheddar cheese

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or heavy kettle. Add the onions, carrots, marjoram and thyme. Saute´, stirring, for about 5 minutes or until the onions are tender. Add the tomatoes, broth and lentils. Bring the soup to a boil; reduce the heat, cover the kettle, and simmer the soup for at least 1 hour or until the lentils are tender. Stir in the pepper. Serve soup with shredded Cheddar sprinkled over each portion. (Or put a bowl of shredded Cheddar on the table for people to add at their own discretion.) Yield: 8 servings.

The cheese completes the protein in the lentils here, but you could also serve the soup with corn bread or some other bread to serve the same purpose. I nearly always serve corn bread with lentil soup.


3 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1/2 stick melted margarine (1/4 cup) -- or use 1/4 cup canola oil as I do
2 cups buttermilk baking mix (I use Hannaford brand)
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal (I use the Hodgson Mill stone-ground brand)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9-inch square pan. Blend eggs, milk, and melted margarine (or oil). Sift sugar, cornmeal and baking powder together and add to egg mixture along with baking mix. (There will be some bran left in the sifter if you use the stone-ground cornmeal. Just add it into the mixture.) Whisk the ingredients together just until blended. Pour batter into greased pan and bake approximately 30 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the corn bread comes out clean. (It may take up to 40 minutes, depending on your oven.) Makes 1 9-inch pan of corn bread.

Recipe may be doubled and baked in a 9 x 13-inch pan. This may not be the healthiest corn bread in the world, but it may well be the best corn bread you've ever tasted! Wonderful with a bowl of chili or soup!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Valentine Countdown Challenge, Day 13

Just a few things got done toward the challenge today, but one of them was quite a significant accomplishment! Here's what I got done:

* Picked up some additional wet swiffer wipes so I will be well prepared for all the cleanup extra comings and goings will require. (For those of you not blessed to live where there is snow and ice, understand that we put down sand in our driveways, etc. to make these substances less slippery. If, as we do, you use sand which the town makes available to residents for this purpose, said sand contains salt. Makes quite a mess on floors, but helps greatly with the driveways.)

* Spent a good solid 2 hours cross-stitching on a pillowcase -- made good progress!

* And the biggie -- cleaned and decluttered my entire closet! It looks so much better!

For Sunday's Menu...

I'm still trying to get the recipes posted that I can for this week's menu plan, as several readers have asked for them. This Sunday we'll have a potluck at church after the morning service, as we do the first Sunday of each month. We then have an afternoon service -- usually at 2 p.m. -- rather than an evening one. This Sunday's afternoon service will be at 1:30 instead, as our annual church business meeting will follow it.

For this Sunday, I'm trying a new crockpot recipe. If I've done the link correctly, you can find it here: Crockpot Chicken Enchiladas

I'll also bring this salad:


2 lbs. carrots, sliced crosswise
1 10-oz. can tomato soup
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup vinegar
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 to 2 Tblsp. dried minced onion
1 green pepper, sliced in strips

In a large saucepan, cover carrots with boiling salted water. Bring to a boil and cook, covered, until tender-crisp, about 7 minutes. Drain.

Blend together soup, sugar, oil, vinegar, and seasonings; stir into carrots along with onion and green pepper. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Salad will keep in refrigerator up to 5 days. Makes 2 quarts.

This salad is a combination of a recipe from our pastor's wife and one I found in a wonderful older cookbook, Farm Journal's Homemade Snacks. I've adjusted the quantities to make this salad lower in fat and sugar that either of the originals. This is a great salad for winter because it uses vegetables that are readily available. It adds wonderful color and flavor to a plate or a buffet table!

For dessert, I'm planning to take this, which I made for last Sunday. The leftover cake has been residing in the freezer, and the sauce is in a plastic container in the fridge. This is one decadent dessert!


1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) cook & serve chocolate pudding mix
2 cups milk
1 pkg. (18 1/4 oz.) chocolate cake mix

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine pudding mix with milk in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cook, uncovered, for 6 to 8 minutes at 70% power, stirring at 2-minute intervals. (If you prefer, you may cook the pudding in a saucepan on the stovetop, but cooking it in a bowl in the microwave saves a step and a saucepan.)

Add the dry cake mix to the pudding and beat until well blended. Pour batter into a greased 13x9-inch baking pan and spread evenly. Bake at 350º for 30-35 minutes, until cake springs back when lightly touched and edges pull away from sides of pan. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack.

For sauce, in a heavy saucepan, melt butter and chocolate chips over low heat. Stir in evaporated milk and sugar until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 8 minutes or until sauce is thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla.

Cut cake in squares; serve on dessert plates with warm sauce over cake. Ice cream or whipped cream are completely optional.

This came from a Country Woman magazine -- it was a prize-winner in one of their contests. This recipe is chocolate to the nth degree and is incredibly easy and delicious.

Baked Cinnamon Pudding

Well, as promised, here's the recipe for the dessert I made last night. It came out every bit as yummy as I was expecting it to be. My parents ate their entire 8-inch dish of pudding at one sitting! The recipe is one I found in the Gooseberry Patch book Magic of Christmas. I did make a couple of changes in the recipe, however.


2 cups brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups cold water
2 Tblsp. butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 Tblsp. flavorless cooking oil (I used canola)
1 2/3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
Dash of salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)

Blend together brown sugar, water and butter in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Meanwhile, combine the sugar, milk and oil in a medium bowl. Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and add to the milk mixture in the bowl. Stir until all dry ingredients are well incorporated. Spread this mixture in the bottom of an ungreased
13x9-inch baking dish.

Remove the hot brown sugar syrup from the heat and pour carefully over the mixture in the dish. Sprinkle with nuts. Bake at 350º for 45 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 6 to 12 servings.

If preferred, you could make two 8- or 9-inch pans of this dessert rather than one large one, and give one away (as I did)! I think the recipe could also be cut in half successfully so you could just make one 9-inch panful of the pudding.

This is such a warm, comforting dessert! It is similar to a hot fudge pudding cake, but I actually like this even better. It’s good with ice cream too -- vanilla or any other flavor that’s compatible with cinnamon.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Valentine Countdown Challenge, Day 14

What a day! I seem to have spent most of it on the phone with doctors' offices, home health agencies and other such things. I didn't get a lot done toward the challenge, that's for sure. But here's what I did do:

* Finished 2 handmade gifts.

* Did a bit of stitching on an embroidered pillowcase.

* Designed and put together a Valentine-y centerpiece for the dining room table.

* Began decluttering another tote of craft materials.

Sure am hoping for a more productive day tomorrow!

Tonight's Menu...

Nanalin asked if I would be willing to share the recipes I'm using in my menu plan this week. I will be happy to, as long as I can find the time. The Broccoli Sausage Simmer is posted below. In this post, I'll share tonight's recipes, all except for dessert. Here goes:


8 ounces elbow macaroni
1/2 c. minced onion (may be omitted)
4 Tblsp. butter or margarine
1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. dry mustard (sometimes referred to as ground mustard)
2 c. milk
1 3/4 to 2 c. grated Cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 tsp. pepper
Salt to taste
1/2 c. dry bread crumbs (I prefer the flavored)

Cook and drain the macaroni. Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium-low heat, saute´the onion in the butter for about 5 minutes, or until softened. (If you are not using the onion, skip this step. Simply melt the butter, heat until bubbly, and proceed with the recipe.) Stir in the flour and dry mustard and cook, stirring, over medium-low heat for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk or stir in the milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sauce is thick and bubbly. Remove from heat. Gradually add 1 1/2 c. of the cheese and stir until melted. Stir in pepper. Taste and add salt if needed.

Next, preheat the broiler of your oven. If, like me, you do not have a functioning broiler, heat your oven to 425º.

Mix the cooked, drained pasta with the sauce and turn it into a 2-quart casserole dish. Toss together the crumbs and the 1/4-1/2 cup remaining cheese. Sprinkle over the pasta/sauce in dish. Sprinkle with paprika. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. (If you are baking the casserole at 425º, it will take longer -- maybe 10 minutes -- to reach this stage.

Yield: 4 servings.

We love this easy macaroni & cheese recipe. It seems a lot easier than some I have tried. It’s definitely quicker!


2 Tblsp. butter
1 Tblsp. chopped chives
1 tsp. each sugar, basil, instant chicken bouillon
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. salt, optional
2 cups sliced carrots, 1/4” thick
1 cup diagonally sliced celery, 1/4” thick

Melt the butter in a heavy 2-qt. saucepan; add seasonings and carrots. Cover and cook 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in celery; cover and continue cooking 3 to 4 minutes.

Yield: 3-4 servings

I relied on this recipe as a young wife. It was a quick, easy inexpensive way to add nutrition and color to meals, and even looks dressed-up enough for a company meal. It’s especially nice in winter when most fresh vegetables are more expensive. Good old carrots and celery are always available, and the seasonings in this recipe make them appealing.

Tonight I'm also making


The easiest cole slaw I know of, which I think I've shared here before, is just shredded cabbage & some shredded carrots, combined with enough mayonnaise (I use Hellman's Light) to almost moisten the veggies. Then add enough seasoned rice vinegar to moisten the mixture to your taste -- probably several tablespoons. Dried cranberries tossed into this slaw add a very tasty and colorful touch.

I'll try and share the dessert recipe tomorrow. In the meantime, I hope Nanalin and anyone else who tries these recipes enjoys them!

Broccoli Sausage Simmer

Several people have asked me to post this recipe, so I thought I would do that right now. I originally found this in Quick Cooking, January/February 2002 issue. It certainly is easy! Enjoy!


1 pound fully cooked kielbasa or Polish sausage, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 medium bunch broccoli, cut into florets
1 small onion, sliced
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes (do not drain them)
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. parsley flakes
1 tsp. sugar
3 cups cooked rotini (spiral-shaped pasta)

In a large skillet, saute´the sausage, broccoli and onion for 5 to 6 minutes or until broccoli is crisp-tender. Add tomatoes, basil, parsley and sugar. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add pasta and heat through.

Yield: 6 servings.