Monday, November 30, 2020

Getting ready for Christmas baking


Today I've been spending some important time getting ready for Christmas baking, cooking, and kitchen gift making.  I cleaned and sorted the kitchen drawer where I store measuring cups and things like extracts, colored sugars, and sprinkles.  And I did the same with the shelf in my pantry where I keep baking items like flours, sugars, cocoa, chocolate chips and other baking staples.  Later this week, I'll be posting a Making Space entry that will detail everything I decluttered from these areas.  I'm hoping to get lots more decluttering done this week, so that's why I'll wait to post my list.) Suffice it to say that a lot got thrown away, especially from the drawer.

While I was working on the pantry, my hubby suggested that this would be a great time to take inventory of what's there.  He was so right!  Years ago, I kept both a freezer and a pantry inventory, using forms from Organized Home.  But I hadn't updated them in a long, long time.  I went to my household notebook and found that I had blanks all printed out that I could use.  (You can click on the Pantry Inventory form at the Organized Home Free Printables page, and the pdf will open up, if you are interested in using these forms yourself.)  Below you see my form with the baking items filled in.  I'm pretty sure this will be added to as I declutter the other shelves in the pantry!  Since Mr. T took over the grocery shopping when he retired, he usually puts the groceries away.  Baking items have definitely been tucked into other shelves in this overly full pantry.

From here it was a logical step to checking my long-term holiday ingredients shopping list, pictured below.  You can read about that here: Long-term holiday grocery list.  


I'm so glad I did this, because there are several items we're getting low on that would be important to our holiday baking.  I've been stocking up on butter for weeks, but we also need brown sugar, confectioners sugar, almond extract and more.

How about you?  Are you ready to begin your Christmas baking?

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Making space -- week 4


This past week was crazy and busy and included a holiday, but I managed just a teensy bit of decluttering anyway; undoubtedly a good idea with Christmas decorating on the horizon.  

Here are my very small accomplishments this week:

November 25 — a pair of pajama pants, a hand towel, and a washcloth, all worn beyond repair, but I’d been continuing to use them.  Tossed out!
Also, 10 1960s magazine pages — large size, like old Better Homes & Gardens issues, scanned for use in graphics and now tossed into the trash.

November 26 — While hunting for pumpkin in my pantry [yes, on Thanksgiving morning!😓], I discovered 2 cake mixes with “Use by” dates of 2016.  To the trash they went!  Shows how long it has been since I used a cake mix!

November 27 — To the trash: 1 cassette tape, a cake mix with a 2019 date and a box of graham cracker crumbs with a 2018 date.  A hardcover book headed for the thrift store, now that I’ve read it.

Certainly I'm hoping for greater progress in the week ahead!  I need to declutter some areas in the kitchen to make way for Christmas baking and to make space for any needed ingredients.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Praying for America


Beautiful graphic by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
 Often, it falls to my hubby to change the wording on our church's sign out by the road.  We usually brainstorm together about what Scriptures or other inspiring words to put there.  Throughout 2020 we haven't changed the sign as often as we ordinarily might, because there seemed a need for the particular Scriptures that were posted to remain in place for awhile.  We've included verses pointing to God as our refuge and to His sovereignty; we've used Scriptures pointing us as a nation to Him; we've shared that God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power, of love, and of a sound mind.  

In the weeks leading up to the election we pondered what words to use on the sign that we had not already put there.  As you might guess, space is limited.  We finally settled on "Pray for America" on one side of the sign.  On the other side we placed these words from the meaningful song "America the Beautiful":

"America! America!  God shed His grace on thee!" 

If our country ever needed God's grace, it is now.  I have come to believe that we are engaged in a struggle between good and evil -- a battle for the hearts and minds of our people.  Our liberty is truly at stake, friends.  This is not a battle between political candidates or between Democrats and Republicans.  It is a battle between liberty and socialism and quite likely communism.

Mr. T and I are praying that evil will be exposed, that Americans will see the seriousness of our situation and that believers will pray faithfully for our beloved country.

For many years, I've prayed for our country every Thursday.  I've shared about this before, but for those who may have missed it I will share the basics again.  I begin by thanking God for the blessing of living in a free country.  I thank Him for the freedom to worship, the freedom to share my faith with others, the privilege of voting, and the privilege of living in a country with so many natural resources, such natural beauty, and a high standard of living.    I then pray for our president and other leaders, our men and women in the military, our judges and courts, my state and governor, and my town.

The printed page you see across the bottom of my prayer journal is from a pdf titled How to Pray for America.  It's a free download at Revive Our Hearts, and I have found it very helpful in praying for our country as a whole.   In 2016, these requests were printed in our church bulletin, and I clipped them out to use in praying for our country on a regular basis.  Below is a scan:


You will notice that one of these requests is for truth in the media.  Thankfully, there are a few independent news outlets where one can hear the truth.  We are not hearing it from the mainstream networks.  Another important request on this list is that people will be able to see truth, that error would be exposed, and that people with wicked agendas will be made weak.  And that God would overcome the enemies of truth and righteousness.  The Scripture verses for this request are pertinent:

"Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.  

"Through God we shall do valiantly: for He it is that shall tread down our enemies."
(Psalm 60:11-12)

 If you are not in the habit of praying for America, may I encourage you to do so?

  "America the Beautiful" also includes these powerful words:

"America! America!
God mend thine every flaw.
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!"

I've often been reminded that truly, God is the only One who can mend our flaws -- but we have to want that to happen and we need to beseech God that it will happen. Our flaws have never been more obvious, it seems, and never have I been more aware of how fragile our liberties are and how easily they can be snatched away.

   Let's take time today to beseech God to help us "mend our flaws" as a nation, and to thank Him for the privilege of living in this land.  Thanksgiving is the perfect time to do that, it seems to me.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

No place like harvest home


 Just a little post today to link up with Sandi's No Place Like Home party.  It's been a busy week and weekend, but I wanted to share a little something anyway.  I thought I would share some of the pretty autumn and Thanksgiving decor from around our home, since I haven't really posted about that this fall.

I've noticed around the the net (Instagram in particular, but some blogs too) that people are decorating for Christmas already.  In fact, I visited a friend yesterday who has all of her Christmas decorations up.  She has a small place so has not overdone the decorating, and it does look lovely, but that is just not me.  I begin decorating for fall in September, then in November I add a few more Thanksgiving type things.  I tend to do more Thanksgiving decorating if we are having folks in for dinner on that day.  This year we are going to our daughter's, so I have not done as much Thanksgiving decor as I otherwise might.

Does it seem to you, as it does to me, that Thanksgiving as a holiday tends to get overlooked?  That's really a shame, because it is one of my favorite holidays and I feel that it's one of our most meaningful holidays as Americans.  (Although this year is different -- Thanksgiving is being somewhat overshadowed by election drama, yet it's also in the forefront of our thinking since our officials keep telling us all to stay home.) Really, though, we have much to praise and thank God for even in the midst of all the craziness, and those fundamental blessings do not change regardless of our circumstances.  

 One of the very biggest blessings that my hubby and I remind one another of every day is the sovereignty of God.  Nothing about our current situation is a surprise to Him, and He is in full control of every aspect of it.  I sincerely hope that we all are praising and thanking God each day for the liberties we have enjoyed in our country up to now, and that we are faithfully praying for our nation.

Thankful .. that says it all!
Some vintage autumn goodness. 
Clay wall pocket on our porch
Pumpkin candle and holder -- a sweet gift from my sister-in-law
Vintage toy truck and jadeite mug from my childhood home!

 Sweet Thanksgiving card from our faraway daughter.

And there is my simple No Place Like Home for this week. Let's cultivate the Gratitude Attitude!

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Making space -- week 3


 Well, I have done very little decluttering this week.  We were away Monday, Tuesday, and most of Wednesday -- a lovely getaway to the ocean which I will hope to blog about soon.

Friday and Saturday have been full to the brim with hospitality, friends and family and all of the cooking and cleaning that accompany such happy times.   Again, some of these are things I hope to blog about one day soon.

On Thursday, I did manage a little decluttering — I cleared out a basket I keep near my chair in the living room.  Lots of correspondence info and devotional type stuff.  This has been on my list of places to declutter for months.  Here’s what I removed to the trash: an unused band-aid, a nearly empty tube of nourishing foot cream; a package of lens cleaning wipes that turned out to be useless; 4 defunct pens; 2 defunct highlighters; a bouncy ball with no bounce (toys are stored in the cabinet underneath this basket!); a half dozen outdated church directories.

I also found some things to give away: 3 sets of Scripture memory cards, also a paperback book.  And I typed up a couple of quotes I found scribbled on bits of paper in this basket, and filed them in the appropriate folders on my computer.

I think that adds up to around 20 things gone this week.  I have some great ideas for areas to tackle next week, when I hope to get much more decluttering done!

Friday, November 13, 2020

Making space -- week 2


I'm joining in with Becki, over at Field Lilies,  with her decluttering effort called Making Space.  Why not join in, and maybe write a post a week about how the endeavor is going?  I've been working at this, and here's my Week 2 report:

 November 9 — a piece of cardboard (the back of a stationery tablet). along with a matching sized piece of carbon paper.  Stashed in my stationery cupboard, it was obviously something I’d used in crafting or writing something or other, quite a few years ago.  No idea what the project was anymore.
November 11 — 6 mugs being rehomed to our little camp.  We found a great Black Friday deal on a Keurig for the camp, but we’ve realized that not every mug is a practical size for it.  I winnowed out my mugs yet again and chose some of the larger ones to take to the camp.
    I also went through my dishtowel/dishcloth/potholder drawer and threw away 1 potholder.  4 potholders are going to the camp, where the only two I have there are rather thin but have sentimental value.  I am also taking 4 dish towels to camp.
November 12 — a glass tumbler with log cabin scene going to the camp.
A paperback book, a heavy glass stein, and a slate wall hanging with a teddy bear motif headed for the thrift store.
I cleaned out my utensil drawer and threw away the following: 2 old containers of dental floss which I kept there for splitting cake layers (haven’t done that in years!); an old metal pastry blender and donut cutter; a tupperware gadget for buttering corn; assorted plastic ware and plastic cooking gadgets like pasta measurers, etc.  A metal gadget which seems to have been a spout topper for a tea kettle.  I don’t even remember what it is or why it was stashed there.
November 13 — to the trash: 1 rusty melon ball cutter.
Headed for the camp: 2 ladles, one large and one small, 2 pie servers, 2 paring knives, 2 large knives, 1 bottle/can opener; 2 sets metal measuring spoons; 1 apple corer/slicer.

I've been trying to work at the 2020 Holiday Planning Challenge with  A Virtuous Woman which started Monday, November 2.  Maybe some of you would be interested also.

  I'll do more of a report on this over on my Christmas blog, where I'm trying to keep up with it but am off to a very slow start.  All that to say, it's the reason I've been tackling my kitchen drawers at this time.  This has definitely been helpful to my participation in Becki's Making Space feature!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Hodgepodge for November 11

 Wednesday again!  That means it's time for the Hodgepodge, where Joyce poses the questions and bloggers fill in the answers.  It's great fun and also a good way to come up with an interesting blog post.  If you'd like to join in,  just head over to From This Side of the Pond and get the questions from Joyce, then answer them on your own blog. Here are the questions for this week:

1. It's the 11th day of the 11th month and bloggers often make lists on days like today. Let's go with a list of eleven things you're feeling grateful for today.

1. The fact that God is sovereign, all-knowing, all-powerful and in complete control of this election process and outcome.  I'm praying that the truth will be revealed.

2.  The fact that God is sovereign, all-knowing, all-powerful and is also in complete control of this "pandemic".  He is able to end it instantly if He so chooses.  There is nothing too hard for Him.  I'm praying that He will resolve it, and the election situation, in a way that brings glory to Himself and points the world to Him.

3.  The fact that as we stay our minds on God and the truths of His Word, we will be kept in perfect peace.

From Abby at Little Birdie Blessings

4.  God's Word and the wisdom and comfort it brings to our hearts as we spend time in it each day.  Want to be encouraged?  Start reading through Psalms.

Another from Abby
5.  How great I feel on the 40-day sugar fast!  Can't believe how much more energy I have.

6.  Being able to get out and walk on these glorious fall days!  My walking partner broke her arm a couple of weeks ago, but we've been getting out on the warm days and enjoying every moment.

7.  A fun phone chat with our granddaughter Emily this morning as we discussed the cross-stitch project we're both working on -- me here, and Emily in Nevada.  Local granddaughter Julia is doing the same project, and she and Emily have FaceTime stitch-alongs!

8.    Our little cottage!  We're so thankful for this little getaway place  in the woods and how peaceful it is there.  We still have lots of work to do on it, but we are so, so blessed to have this place.  Photo is from late summer.

9.  Finally getting the cottage to the point where we can stay overnight there.  We've stayed over three nights recently, thanks to the warm weather.  If not for that, this not-yet-winterized building would be far too chilly.

10.  Time with our friend Charlotte last week at her cabin up north.  It was quiet, peaceful, and media-free.  We literally sat and watched snow fall.  Great fellowship and food -- and I got a lot of crafting done, too, as we chatted.

11.  The gorgeous, warm sunny Indian Summer weather we've been enjoying for days now.  Most unlike our usual November weather.  Photo is from a previous year, but this is how it looks and feels right now.

2. What's something you decided to do or act on at the '11th hour'?  

I'm sure there have been many situations like that, but at the moment I'm having difficulty coming up with one that I can remember.

3.  Apparently the Kentucky Fried Chicken recipe contains 11 herbs and spices. What's a dish you make that calls for exactly eleven ingredients? Feel free to share the list and/or recipe. 

Hmmm ...  I'm sure I probably have a recipe like this, but do I have time to hunt it up?  Probably not.

One of the handmade cookbooks I often give as wedding gifts

4. Something you remember about your 11-year old self? 

I loved sixth grade and my wonderful teacher, Miss Baston.  She really sparked my interest in social studies and writing --  and the projects she assigned nurtured her students' creativity in a big way.

I'm in the middle here, holding the toddler and the book.  I was 10 in this photo but would have turned 11 the next month.

5. The 11th of November is Veterans Day in the US of A. This is a day to honor those who have served their country in war or peace-dead or alive-although according to the government's website it's largely intended to thank living veterans for their sacrifices. 

Memorial Day is when we honor military personnel who died in service to their country. 

Share a thought relating to Veterans Day or tell us something about a Veteran you know-love-admire. 

Couldn't think of a better thought than this one from Gooseberry Patch

 6. Insert your own random thought here.

Not really random, but during my Bible time this morning, this verse came to mind:

 "Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass."  (Psalm 37:7)

Seems pretty relevant!

And there's my simple Hodgepodge for this week.  Happy Wednesday, all, and keep looking up!

Saturday, November 07, 2020

Making space -- Week 1


 What is this about, you ask?  Remember how Becki,  over at Field Lilies,  was doing a decluttering challenge through October?   Well, Becki has a new idea for all of us who'd like to work at this in the days and weeks ahead.  You can read about it here: Making Space.  Why not join in, and maybe write a post a week about how the endeavor is going?  I'm going to try it, and here's my first installment:

First, I'll share what I decluttered from the time I last mentioned Becki's October challenge:

Oct. 20 —From the nightstand to the trash: an empty container of Working Hands cream; an empty tube of Crabtree & Evelyn Hand Therapy; 2 empty tubes of Gold Bond Cream; an empty notepad; 1/2 jar of exfoliating foot wipes; 1 empty tube of Vaseline Advanced Healing Cream; a bunch of notes from my kids that I’ve sentimentally saved for years (having gone through such things in the clean-out of the old homestead, I know they will be disgusted that I saved them all this time).  I also found a bookmark someone had gifted my husband —still in its original packaging — that will be headed to the thrift store.
Oct. 30 — numerous church bulletin fronts — saved to use for Sunday School bulletin boards and other uses.  4 annual church reports from the 1980s.
Oct. 31 — an old makeup bag and its contents; 10 expired tubes or bottles of over-the-counter first aid type products; 2 freebie luggage tags, a used gift card.

Now, here's what I've decluttered in November so far (it's not much because we've been away from the house a lot):

November 6 — an extra mirror, taken to our little camp (where there were none)
November 7 — 2 plastic serving spoons, 1 large metal scoop, 1 metal ladle, 2 metal spatulas/pancake turners — taken to our camp (these are all items that have been taking up precious hanging space or drawer space)

Becki is aiming to declutter maybe ten items per week.  I didn't quite get there this week, but I'm inspired!

We've stayed overnight at our camp the past couple of nights, and the first time I remembered to take along a serving spoon for a crockpot breakfast oatmeal.  Then I took the spoon home. 😏 For this morning, I'd also prepared a crockpot breakfast -- an egg bake -- but realized we have no serving utensils at all over there.   

This is a rustic place and the amenities are very limited, but I'm sure we're going to find that more items we'd like to declutter from our home could be used over there.  

How about you?  Want to get some decluttering done and have fun and write a blog post a week in the process?

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

A peaceful November hodgepodge


And what a good thing to know that we can have peace in our hearts no matter what.  It's the day after Election Day -- but as I write this on Tuesday afternoon, the polls are still open here in the Granite State.  We have no idea which way the election will go, but God's peace is fully available to us.  

And speaking of elections, here's something that's somewhat more reliable than polls -- it's time again for the Wednesday Hodgepodge, where Joyce poses the questions and bloggers fill in the answers.  It's great fun and also a good way to come up with an interesting blog post.  If you'd like to join in,  just head over to From This Side of the Pond and get the questions from Joyce, then answer them on your own blog. Here are the questions for this week:

1.  How do you define peace? 

To help define true peace, I would love to share these truths about spiritual peace from Elizabeth George's book on the fruit of the Spirit, God's Garden of Grace:

• Our peace has nothing to do with our circumstances and everything to do with knowing we have a right relationship with God.

• Our peace has nothing to do with daily challenges or crises and everything to do with knowing that our times are in God's hands.

• Our peace has nothing to do with the conditions of our life and everything to do with knowing that God is all-sufficient.

• Our peace is an inward repose and serenity of soul that indicates a heart at rest -- regardless of our circumstances -- as we place complete confidence in God minute by minute.

• True spiritual peace comes with knowing that our heavenly Father is continually with us ... God is omnipresent and therefore fully aware of every detail of our life at every moment and in every place.

Graphic by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
2. November 3rd is Election Day in the US of A, but did you know it's also National Sandwich Day? Let's vote, shall we? egg salad or tuna salad? chicken salad or grilled chicken on a bun? peanut butter and jelly or a bagel with cream cheese? turkey and swiss or ham and cheddar? grilled cheese or pimento cheese? roast beef-corned beef-or make mine veggie? 

Oh yes, let's vote! I love the idea of voting on sandwiches!  So let's see:

Egg salad, providing the eggs are chopped fine and there is no raw onion.  Or even better, tuna and egg together.
Chicken salad.
Bagel with cream cheese (but I'd rather have it with peanut butter)
Ham and cheddar
Grilled Cheese
Make mine veggie

And if you want to try a really scrumptious sandwich, check out this old favorite of ours: Bacon Cheeseburger Subs.

3. When did you last say (or feel) 'no rest for the weary'

Oh, good question!   Probably back when we were spending hours every day clearing out the family homestead.  I certainly didn't utter that phrase in the last few days, as we have had some really good rest and relaxation time.

Another by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings

4. This time last year, where were you? 

I was busy!  You can read about it in a post from last year: Tuesday Thankfulness.  I found it in looking back in the archives to see what I was doing.  I'd forgotten, but our local daughter and son-in-law celebrated their 20th anniversary by spending a weekend in the north woods at a rustic lodge.  We stayed with the kids.  There was other busyness, too, during that time.

5. Share a favorite song, verse, or quote featuring the word 'peace'. 

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee."  (Isaiah 26:3)   I also love the hymn "Wonderful Peace".

Graphic from Good Morning Girls

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

We just got back from a couple of days up north with a friend at her cabin.  Talk about peaceful! On Monday we literally just sat and watched snow fall on the fir trees and a little pond.  I got a lot of crafting done too, and Mr. T caught up on some studying and reading and even took a nap!

(Photo from last winter)

Happy Wednesday, everyone!