Monday, January 31, 2022

One new thing ...


 So here goes with another One New Thing post, inspired by Becki at Field Lilies.   My plan as of now is to post about one new thing every Monday.  We will see how it goes!

For today, my One New Thing is learning to substitute maple syrup for refined sugar in baking.  If you are interested in learning how to do this, visit Michelle at Souly Rested, where you can print out a free conversion chart to help you do it right.  I took a screenshot to show you what it looks like.

Now I realize not everyone has a "free" source of maple syrup like we do.  And ours, of course, isn't really free.  Family members work hard to produce it.

If you read Michelle's post you will see that maple syrup has a lot of minerals and other health benefits, so it's really worth your while to learn to bake with it.  She has many other great-sounding ways to use maple as well, including maple kombucha which I plan to try very soon.   If you are so inclined you can even learn how to make your own maple syrup!

Ordinarily when we are on a sugar fast as we are now, I just don't make very many baked goods.  But recently I found myself with some truly overripe bananas that just had to be used up, and I didn't want to take time to research a healthier recipe online.  So I adapted a banana muffin recipe, and we just couldn't be more pleased with the results.


1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
2/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350º.  Line 12 muffin cups with either foil liners or parchment liners.  Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl.  Add the bananas, maple syrup, oil, and eggs and beat on low speed until mixed.  (I actually used a whisk.)  Stir in the walnuts.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared muffin cups.  Bake at 350º until tops of muffins spring back when touched lightly, about 23 minutes.  Serve warm.

Have you ever tried substituting pure maple syrup for refined sugar?  If not, I encourage you to give it a try!

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Sunday Scripture


 I've been working on a Bible study of Ephesians for the month of January and so I thought I might try doing some Sunday Scripture posts for the remainder of the winter.  We can all use some encouragement about now, right?  

The study I've been working on is the Ephesians Bible study from Good Morning Girls.  I've been enjoying it, but I must say that it is causing me to want to dig even deeper into the book of Ephesians, so I may do just that before the year is out.  I'll probably use Rand Hummel's studies, In Christ and Like Christ, which we already own but have not worked through.

But back to this study I'm working on right now.  For the Scripture Sundays, I'll just select some of the verses I have worked on and share how I used the SOAP method of Bible study.  Here we go:

S= "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:
"Grace be to  you, and peace, from God, our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ."  (Ephesians 1:1-2)

O= This is the introduction of Paul's letter.  He introduces himself as the writer: "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God".  Then he notes who he is writing to: 1) the saints who are at Ephesus; 2) the faithful in Christ Jesus.  He wishes for these people to have grace and peace, "from God, our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ."

A= Although I'm not one of the saints at Ephesus, I'm part of "the faithful in Christ Jesus", so surely this letter is for me and other believers in this age.  I like the thought that Paul always puts "grace and peace" in that specific order in his letters, for a very good reason:  we must experience God's grace before we can experience His peace.  So true.  And I do need to focus on God's grace and all that He has graciously given me, rather than the troubles around me.  Then I will experience His peace.

P= "Lord, I thank You for Your living, powerful Word and how something that Paul wrote centuries ago can be completely relevant to my life today.  I pray that You will help me to focus on Your goodness and grace -- to stay my mind on You -- rather than focusing on the trouble all around me.  I thank You that as I do that, You will keep me in perfect peace!  I praise You in Jesus' name, Amen."

There was a reflection question for these verses as well: In what area of your life do you need more peace today?  

Here's my answer: I've definitely experienced God's peace in my life.  We are living in crazy times and I could be very fearful, but God gives peace and will be with me whatever the future holds.

Hope this simple study has been a blessing to someone today!

Friday, January 28, 2022

Friday five


 It's been awhile, so I'm just popping in with a quick Friday five to acknowledge some sweet blessings from the last week or two.  Pour yourself a cup of coffee and read on!

1.  Getting to spend time with our dear young friends Sam and Jennifer last Saturday.  Jennifer cooked an amazing meal of a turkey breast, vegetables, and cornbread, while we brought a cookie tray and a refined-sugar-free chocolate cake (mostly for ourselves, since we are on a sugar fast).  We hadn't been able to get together for a long time, so an exchange of Christmas gifts was in order!

2.  Finding time to do a little bit of crafting.  My hubby had been asking me about making a new checkbook cover, and I finally got to doing so.  Made the pattern one day, cut out the pattern pieces on another day, and finally sewed it together on a third day.  It was really super easy, but I just didn't have a lot of free minutes on any given day.  I'm planning a One New Thing post about this project soon.  Below you see, not a checkbook cover, but some fabric alphabet letters.  I recently made some very similar to these as a Christmas gift for a 7-month-old.  Hopefully I can take a photo of the checkbook cover before I post about that project.

3.  Celebrating my birthday with family a couple of weeks ago.  It was just a joy to spend time with these dear ones around a scrumptious meal of Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, and roasted broccoli -- and of course, cake and ice cream.  Carrie made an amazing three-layer chocolate cake with both chocolate and peanut butter frostings.  The only thing I was allowed to bring was the ice cream!

4.   Improved health and mobility.  It's an ongoing process, but I'm very thankful to have a lengthy bout of sciatica behind me (no pun intended) and to see improvement in a knee issue.  

5.  Getting to have Christmas Club on Tuesday!  Our little Christmas Club got its start at a local library some years ago -- at least five by my reckoning.  Most often there are only three of us that meet, and that's how it was on Tuesday.  Still it was lovely to get together at Carrie's home for tea and muffins and to talk over our Christmases.  I've written up a full report on my Christmas blog, so head on over there if you'd like to know more.  Below is a photo of Christmas kitchen gifts ready for delivery.

And that's my simple Friday five!

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Hodgepodge for January 26


 So it's Wednesday again, and time for the Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond, where Joyce asks the questions and bloggers provide the answers.  Here goes!

1. January 25th is National Opposites Day. 'They' say opposites you agree, and if so is that a good thing? Or do you subscribe more to a 'birds of a feather' philosophy? 

My husband and I are opposites in many ways.   Just for a few examples: I'm an introvert; he never met a stranger.  He can be silly; I tend to not be a fan of silliness.  He loves kayaking; I don't enjoy it.  He enjoys table games involving strategy; I'm useless at strategic games. He loves to hold a newborn; I'm a little wary.   He tends to be very adventurous; I'm much less so.  I do think the attraction of opposites is a good thing, generally.  We balance one another out.  And, of course, there are many things that we do agree on.

With Arielle, just a few hours old, in 2014

Cutthroat game of Cover Your Assets

 2. Something you're glad to have behind you? Something you're glad is ahead of you? 

It seems like my bout with sciatica is behind me.  At least I know what to do if it recurs. Something I'm glad is ahead of me: hopefully this summer our Nevada family will come to visit.  Really looking forward to that!  The last time the whole family was in New Hampshire was 2015, although several of them visited in 2019.

2015 visit to a lighthouse in Maine
Superhero photo shoot, Rumney, New Hampshire 2015

 3. Your favorite hot food? Cold food? Are you a fan of breakfast for dinner? 

I'll answer the easy one first.  We both love breakfast for dinner.   It's very comforting.  

Grandma's Sampler at Cracker Barrel -- breakfast extraordinaire any time of day

Favorite cold food: maybe chicken salad.  Favorite hot food: Let's say meat loaf (or maybe turkey), mashed potatoes and gravy.

I should note that I like hot food to be just that -- hot.  It's a joke in my family that we dish up my plate after we pray, and after everyone else is served.

4. Are you someone who always arrives to appointments/events early or do you tend to run late? Last thing you were late for? 

We tend to be early.  We both subscribe to the "if we're on time, we're late" school of thought.  I can't remember the last time we were truly late for anything.

Image from Pixabay

5. "What good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?" John Steinbeck....Your thoughts? 

I tend to agree.  I wouldn't enjoy living in a place where there was no real winter.  On the really cold days, we do remind ourselves that in the summer when it's in the 90s and terribly humid, we'll be wishing for winter.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

 January's nearly over.  It's pretty sobering to think that one-twelfth of the year has nearly passed.  

And there's the Hodgepodge for this week!  Why not head on over to From This Side of the Pond and snag the questions?

Monday, January 24, 2022

One new thing ...

Becki, over at Field Lilies, recently wrote about something she is challenging herself with in 2022.  I'll let her tell you about it in her own words.  She wrote: "Why not be intentional about exploring new things – just for the sake of learning or experiencing something new?  Why not once a week, challenge myself to interact with one new thing?  A new food, a new activity, a new person, a new idea to explore, a new skill to learn…  just for starters.   Hence the title of this post: One new thing…

 "So I’ve decided to do that.  And share about it once a week (if possible) here.   I’m not going to set goals or make rules.  I want this to be a discovery process, not a to-do list.   Actually, the challenge may be better worded this way:   I’m simply challenging myself to record here one new thing I explore, or learn about, or interact with… each week."
Becki is inviting her readers to join her in this challenge, and I must say it sounds good to me.  At first I didn't think I would join in.  It seemed a bit daunting, but after I read Becki's first One New Thing post, I realized that I've already done quite a few new things in 2022.  So I'm going to plan to share some of them weekly as Becki is doing.

For this week, I'll share three new things, the first of which led to the other two.  I may or may not have mentioned here that I've been dealing with sciatica for over a month.  That led me, in early January, to try the first new thing in the series:
Yes, visiting a chiropractor for the first time in my life.  I've found it amazingly helpful: adjustments, laser treatments, exercises.  And ice packs.  Now the sciatica is pretty much gone, although I’m continuing with the exercises.  A knee problem sort of surfaced along with the sciatica,  and has persisted quite painfully.  The chiropractor did adjust my knee and it helped tremendously but was sort of temporary relief.  So he gave me knee exercises to do and also suggested an anti-inflammatory supplement (EPA-fish oil) to help with the arthritis that is there.  He also said I should do a good bit of walking.  That led me to the second new thing:  in-store walking.
Since the weather and footing is not really conducive to walking around outside right now,   Mr. T and I have been going over to Walmart and walking around the inside a few laps every day.  I push a shopping cart and that really helps.  I’ve really been pleased with the improvement in my knee and how much better I’m able to walk. 

And now that led to the third new thing: 
A new-to-us flavor of tea!  Toasted Coconut Almond Bark.  The first day we came home and brewed two mugs of this.  So delicious!

So those are three new things just in the past few weeks.  I'm sure I'll have more to share soon.  Thanks to Becki for this challenge!

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

January 19 Hodgepodge


Not sure how this happened so quickly, but it's past the middle of January!  It's also Wednesday again, and time for the Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond, where Joyce asks the questions and bloggers provide the answers.  Here goes!

1. It's National Popcorn Day-my favorite! Are you a fan? Sweet or salty? A good or great movie you've seen recently (at home or in a theater, either one)? 

We are definitely popcorn fans in our family -- salty rather than sweet, though of course homemade caramel corn is yummy.  My hubby and I often have popcorn for supper on a Sunday night, along with apples and usually cheese and crackers.  I put a couple tablespoons of olive oil on the popped corn rather than butter, and toss it until coated before sprinkling on salt and nutritional yeast.  I got this idea from cookbook author Ken Haedrich, and it really does produce tasty popcorn that's a little healthier.

Most recent movie was probably A Wonderful Life, on Christmas day while waiting to Skype with the Nevada family.  We were all too full from Christmas dinner and Christmas cookies to even consider eating any popcorn, though.

Another of Ken Haedrich's cookbooks

2. What's something you didn't realize was going to take so much of your time as an adult? 

 Housework.  If only there was a way for it to stay done.

3. Your favorite yellow something? 

It's funny but there isn't much yellow in my wardrobe, although it's a color I do like.  All I can remember is a gorgeous yellow Fair Isle cardigan that I had in high school, and a couple of yellow t-shirts that I no longer own.   

I have a few yellow dishes -- some Fiesta plates which are a yellow I really like, and a newer Fiesta sugar & creamer which is a duller, paler yellow.  I don't love the color, but I do like the dishes, which were a gift.

4. Why do you write? 

Because I can't seem to help myself.   I've always liked to write.  When my daughter introduced me to blogging, I jumped in and started two blogs within a year (both of which are still going strong).  Somehow I have this maybe erroneous idea that people would be interested in what I write.  But I think I would blog anyway even if no one read it but me or my family.

5. Share a favorite memory associated with snow.

Let's see.   From childhood (although I have no photos of this): Every day after school in the winters of my younger years, we would come home, get all suited up in our woolen snowpants,  buckle boots, jackets, hats and mittens, and head for our sledding hill which was in a field a fair distance behind our house (but still in sight of it).  Whether we used wooden runner sleds or aluminum flying saucers depended upon the consistency of the snow.  Of course we wanted to get the greatest speed possible.  We had neighbor kids who usually went out with us.  We would stay out until dark and then come in soaked and sweaty, hanging up our outdoor gear and consuming mugs of hot cocoa with blobs of marshmallow fluff melting atop.  The photo below is of a snow fort our dad built us,  but it gives you an idea of the necessary snow clothes.

From last year:

My hubby and I took a wonderful getaway to Bridgton, Maine in February.  A nifty feature of Bridgton is Pondicherry Park, 66 beautiful acres of woodland and stream in the heart of downtown.  The covered bridge below is on one of the trails.  


We were able to follow trails and actually come from downtown all the way up to our Airbnb on one of them.  Slogging through the snow is not a favorite activity of mine as an adult, but most of the trails were quite clear and easy to navigate.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

This has been a blustery week in our part of New Hampshire.  Bitterly cold last Saturday and Sunday, then heavy snow on Monday.  Now we're back to cold and wind.   Here's what it was like yesterday afternoon as I wrote this post:

22 mph winds makes 15º feel like minus 6 degrees!

And there's the Hodgepodge for this week!  Head on over to From This Side of the Pond and snag the questions, why don't you?

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Making a Christmas recipe book, part 2


 I promised to share a couple more ideas for making a special notebook or recipe book just for Christmas recipes.  It really is a great project to work on right after Christmas, when the recipes you used are fresh in your mind and probably still right at hand.  

 However, you could work on this project any time of year, as the spirit moves.  It might be fun to work on during July, for Christmas in July, or anytime in summer to help you feel a little cooler.  Not only is such a cookbook a great way to keep your Christmas recipes accessible; these things would make absolutely wonderful gifts as well, for grown children or for grandchildren.  (I did post about this project a few years ago over on my Christmas blog, so if it looks familiar to someone, that would be why.)

Making a photo book from Shutterfly turned out to be the perfect way to get all of our favorite Christmas cookie recipes in one easy place.  We make a lot of cookies every year, but we do tend to use the same recipes each Christmas, possibly adding in a few new ones.  

The standard 8x8 photo books have 20 pages, so I used 18 of them as recipe pages with a different cookie recipe on each page.  Some of the recipes are from my childhood; others are as new as Christmas 2018. 

On the first page I wrote out some of my Christmas baking memories from childhood.  I actually had written these out years ago for a Christmas memory book, so I just copied and pasted it into a text box on a page in the Shutterfly book.

Then I chose the 18 recipes that I wanted to use and dived into making the recipe pages.  I had photos for most of the cookie varieties.  Shutterfly absolutely walks you through the process of putting photo book pages together.  The recipe book format was a little different than an ordinary photo book because there were so many large text boxes to fill with recipes.  I added in a few of the charming Shutterfly "stickers" to embellish each page.  I didn't overdo it with these pretty touches (though one certainly could be tempted to do so) but just added enough to add color and charm to each page.

The screenshots of some of my pages, below, give you an idea as to what can be done.


Every time I get a free photo book offer, I'll make up another of these cookie books.  In that way I just pay shipping. To my mind, $7.99 is a fair price indeed for such a nice and useful product.  I've been able to give many of these as gifts.

Hope this has inspired someone to make a recipe photo book!  If you want more details as to how I did it, let me know and I'll try to help.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Hodgepodge for January 12


So it's Wednesday again, and time for the Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond, where Joyce asks the questions and bloggers provide the answers.  Here goes!

1. What do you wish you'd done more of last year? Less of? 

I really tried to be more "in the moment" and to fully appreciate all the wonderful blessings of my life, both big and small.  Still, I could have done more of that.  Less of?  I wish I had procrastinated less.

Solar light at our little camp, last winter

 2. What's the tallest building you've ever been in? Do you have a fear of heights? 

 The tallest building I've ever been in is the Empire State Building.  I don't really have a fear of heights, but I don't like being on high places where you can see the ground through any type of gridwork beneath your feet.  That can immobilize me.  

From last February's getaway to Bridgton, Maine

3. Do you have a word for the year? Elaborate if you'd like to elaborate. 

I usually have a word for the year --  I've been doing that since 2013 -- but this year I don't have one yet.  If God shows me one (as He clearly did last year) well and good, but if not, I am fine with that.  I've had some truly meaningful words over the years and I have made Pinterest boards for each.  I may go back and review those just for some encouragement.

Another of the lovely old homes in Bridgton (2021)

4. January 11 is National Milk Day...are you a milk drinker? What kind? Your favorite recipe that calls for milk (cereal doesn't count)? 

I am not a milk drinker.  I have never liked it. My hubby does like it, so we always bought it, but in the past year or so we have switched completely to unsweetened almond milk.  He likes the vanilla flavor in his cereal, and I use the plain original variety in cooking.  I haven't noticed that it makes any difference, and the almond milk lasts much longer in the fridge than dairy milk, so we aren't constantly throwing away milk.  Probably my favorite recipe that calls for a large amount of milk is macaroni and cheese.

Pebble Cottage (February 2021)

5. What excites you most about the future? What do you miss about the past? 

What excites me most about the future: waiting to see what God will do.  What I miss about the past:  Oh, many, many things.  Too many to list.  Predictability (though in all honesty life is never truly predictable) may be high on the list.

From one of my hubby's beaver pond snowshoe hikes, last winter

6. Insert your own random thought here.

I'm getting ready to put together some simple vintage recipe packets for my Etsy shop.  I recently went through a huge accordion file of clipped recipes -- these would be ones I had clipped in the 1980s and 1990s, for the most part.  I threw away many, and am keeping a few.  The remainder I plan to put together in packs of 10 or 15, package them in either vintage wallpaper or wrapping paper, and offer them for sale in the shop.  We'll see how I do with that -- see part 2 of question 1 above.

Our little camp with its festively lighted windows in late afternoon (last week)

And there's the Hodgepodge for this week!  Head on over to From This Side of the Pond and snag the questions, why don't you?