Monday, October 31, 2022

Turning winter squash into a main dish


 I mentioned buttercup squash in a recent post, and realized through comments that some people have never heard of this wonderful winter squash variety.  It is our very favorite!

You can read much more about buttercup squash here, including its nutritional profile: Buttercup Squash.  It has a deep, rich, almost sweet flavor that we really enjoy.


It isn't watery like some winter squashes can be.  It tends to be on the dry side and sometimes when mashing the boiled squash, one has to add some of the cooking water to make it a better consistency for mashing and serving.

That said, my preferred way to cook buttercup squash is to bake it.  You wash the squash, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and place the squash halves cut side down in a baking dish.  Add a little water to the dish, and bake the squash at 350ยบ for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until it is tender.  You can serve it different ways -- scoop the flesh out and mash it, adding butter and seasonings; or turn the halves cavity side up and add a little butter and brown sugar or maple syrup.

I also like to turn buttercup squash into a hearty main dish by baking and stuffing it, usually with sausage of some type.  The other night I had just such a meal planned, but I tweaked it as I went along and the result was such a good autumn meal that I just had to share it.  You will want to start about 1 1/2 hours before you want to eat.


1 medium buttercup squash
1 package chicken breakfast sausage in the apple maple flavor
Olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion (I used frozen)
1/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (or to taste)
Brown sugar or maple syrup
Salt & pepper

 Bake the squash as directed above for about 45 minutes.  Near the end of the baking time, slice the breakfast sausage and saute it in a small skillet in a little olive oil, adding the onions and cranberries.  Cook for about 5 minutes.  

Remove the squash from the oven and turn the halves over so the cavity side is up, replacing them in the baking dish.  Place a dab of butter and a spoonful of brown sugar or maple syrup in each one, then sprinkle with salt and pepper and fill the cavities with the sausage mixture.  Return to the oven until the sausage is heated through, 25 to 30 minutes.

I like to bake potatoes at the same time as the squash for a nice hearty oven meal.  Add a salad, and supper is ready.

If you can't find buttercup squash in your part of the country, kabocha squash would be the closest in flavor and consistency for a substitute.  I hope you enjoy this recipe if you try it!

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Sunday Scripture


Again this Sunday, I'm sharing from the Made for Community reading plan from Love God Greatly that I worked on back in 2015.  With this study, as I have often done, I used the SOAP method of Bible study.  Just a quick reminder that the S is for Scripture, O is for Observation, A is for Application and P is for Prayer.  The sixth section is Living in Community in Our Spheres of Influence.  So here we go with the Scripture for the third day of that section.

S= "Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and show mercy and compassion, every man to his brother.  And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the sojourner, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart."  (Zechariah 7:9-10)

O=  Here in these verses God is instructing Zechariah how to answer some who were questioning why their prayers had gone unanswered for 70 years.  They had been fasting on the anniversary of the fall of Jerusalem for over seventy years and were questioning if they should continue to do so.

 God explains why His judgment had come upon the nation.  He had spoken to them the instruction detailed in these verses.  And verse 11 tells how they responded:

"But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear."  What a graphic description of not listening!

The remaining verses in the chapter (verses 12-14) show the results of their disobedience: a great wrath from the LORD of hosts; unheard prayers (God actually told them "I will not hear");  scattering of the people among all the nations; desolation of the once-pleasant land.

So the event they were inquiring about was a direct result of their own sinfulness and disobedience.

It would seem that verses 9-10 are still God's Word to us today in our relationships.  There are things we are to do, and things we are not to do.  As we compare Scripture with Scripture, we see that this is so.

* to execute true judgment:
* to show mercy;
* to show compassion.

* to oppress widows, the fatherless, sojourners, or the poor;
* to imagine evil against others in our hearts.

But most importantly of all, we are to pay attention to God's Word with a heart to obey it.  

A=  So in my relationships with others, I'm to be showing mercy and compassion and judging righteously.  It sounds so simple, but showing mercy and compassion do not come naturally to anyone.  In fact, I have identified one of my own ongoing sin issues as being a lack of compassion.  As I read these verses,  I couldn't quite see at first how the part about not oppressing widows, etc. applied to me.  Then I thought of James 1:27 and how we are instructed to "visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction" and how Isaiah 1:17 says we are to "relieve the oppressed".

So certainly we are to reach out and help widows, fatherless, sojourners, and the poor, whether with hands-on support, financial or material help, or by prayers.  All of this would be the opposite of oppression and would contribute to the relief of the oppressed.

 Imagining evil against others in our hearts, it seems to me, equates to suspecting others unjustly, or jumping to conclusions (and reaching a wrong conclusion) concerning their words, actions and motives.

But if we expect God to hear and answer our prayers, we need to be obeying His Word.  "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the LORD will not hear me."  (Psalm 66:18)

P= "Lord, I thank You once again for Your Word.  Even here, in this prophetic book of Zechariah, you have instruction for our lives today.  I pray that You will help me to judge situations carefully and rightly -- for You do call us to 'judge righteous judgment' (John 7:24).  Help me in my relationships to show mercy, to show compassion, to do all that I can to help meet the needs of the oppressed.  Help me with what may be the most difficult instruction here -- not to imagine evil against others in my heart.  Help me to remember that if I harbor iniquity in my heart, You will not hear me.  Help me to please You in my relationships.  I pray in Jesus' name, Amen."

And there is our simple study for this week!

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Just in time for fall cleaning -- a homemade dusting spray that I love


Now, I don't necessarily do what I would label Fall Cleaning.  I try to follow the Flylady system and it really does work well if I stick with it.  A huge bonus of this system is that you can just jump in again, right where you are, if you get off track.  One way or another, whatever system you follow, we all need to clean, and many of us now try to use more natural cleaning supplies for many of the tasks.

Back in March I wrote an entire post about handy homemade helpers.  Up to that point I had never found a homemade dusting spray that I liked.   Now, I am happy to report, I have!  I researched DIY dusting sprays and eventually landed on this one, at One Good Thing by Jillee.  

Well, I am sold on this formula!  All it takes is water, vinegar, olive oil, and a few drops of lemon or orange essential oil.  You have to shake the bottle before spraying, which makes perfect sense, because after all water and oil don't stay mixed.  

This works better than any dusting spray I have ever used!  It's super effective, cleaning surfaces as well as dusting them.  And surfaces seem to retain their shine longer between dustings.   Jillee explains how it all works in her post, so you will want to head over and snag the formula for the DIY Dusting Spray.  I have even taken a bottle of this homemade spray along for times when my cleaning tasks at my volunteer job have involved dusting.  Now that I've discovered this super formula, it's the only dusting spray I will use. 

Friday, October 28, 2022

Starting a new scrapbook journal

I've written bits and pieces about my scrapbook style journals before, but only in passing.  I've never really shared much about my personal journals.  I had read on several blogs about this wonderful idea of keeping a simple daily journal that would be interspersed with beautiful bits and pieces of things that speak to the journaler in a personal way.  I so wanted to do this, ever since I first read about it.  But it wasn't until 2007 that I finally spent the money on the watercolor sketchbook that would be the basis of my scrapbook journal.  (In case readers hadn't noticed by now, I tend to be extremely frugal.  Bordering on cheap.)  

Above you see my first journal, begun in July 2007 and filled up in just over 2 years.  I don't think other scrapbook journals I've seen have been titled, but I have given titles to mine.  I titled this first one "Gathering My Thoughts" and, as you can see, the first picture I chose was bowls and crocks full of cherries.  You can't really read the lettering around the picture, but this is what I wrote: 

"I love cherries; I love vintage things; my kitchen is red and green.  Just as the cherries have been gathered into these lovely bowls and crocks, I hope to use this journal as a place to gather my thoughts.  No perfectionism allowed."

The next two photos show some of the pages from that book.  You can get an idea as to some of the kinds of things I have been drawn to. 


My next scrapbook journal was begun in August 2009 and here is the first page of it:

Its title is "Stir Up Memories", but of course there are all sorts of topics covered in this scrapbook journal.  I jotted the following in reference to the patchwork scraps surrounding the pretty vintage bowls:

"Life is like a patchwork quilt ... some beautiful patches, some ugly ones, some dull patches, some unusual ones ... all stitched together by God's hand to produce something lovely and useful."

Many memories are detailed in this scrapbook journal: holidays, trips, births and deaths, and just day to day happenings.  There also memory joggers, such as what action to take if the wood furnace smokes.  And toward the end of it, I kept the journal at our cottage and, in my spare time,  journaled through the book Make Room for What You Love, by Melissa Michaels. 

And now I'm ready to start a new one.  A little simple math will tell you that "Stir Up Memories" took me 13 years to complete!  Yes, sometimes I skipped entire years in between journaling here.  Life has been just a little busy.  That's why I ended up taking it to the cottage and giving myself a specific topic to journal about.

 "Keep the Homefires Burning" seems like the perfect title for another scrapbook journal as I start this new one in October 2022.  Keeping the homefires burning is such an important responsibility in our day when life itself seems to be turning ... well, maybe not upside down, but surely sideways.  We need to make sure we are holding tight to traditional values [gasp!] and keeping our families as close as possible.  We need to make our homes beacons of warmth and light, ministering not only to our loved ones and friends, but also to others who need the light of the gospel.

As I think of homefires, I also inevitably think of our little camp.  Fires are pretty much a constant here -- fires in the woodstove to take off the morning or evening chill, and campfires in the outdoor fire pit to roast hot dogs or marshmallows with family and friends.  Or, sometimes just for the companionship of a friendly, cheery, crackling fire.

I'm several pages in and so far have just been journaling about happenings this fall, starting with our Nevada family's visit in September.  I have high hopes for keeping up with this scrapbook journal more regularly than the previous one.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Late October at our little camp

Yesterday was not a good afternoon to take photos at our camp, but I had brought the camera and so I snapped a few anyway.  Even though we are nearing the end of foliage season (just look at all the leaves on the ground!), the dirt road where our camp is located still has trees laden with a good amount of gold, orange, yellow, and russet leaves.  I've been saying that the road's name in this season (especially on a sunny day) should be changed to The Golden Road.  These leaves glow in overcast weather too, though, as you will see. 

Notice the smallish red tree approximately toward the middle of the photo above.
The photo above shows the edge of our camp's back yard and the road below.  I liked the color of the leaves in this photo.

This shows part of our neighbor's property across the street.  At the very edge of the photo at the far right, you see just a tiny corner of our lake view.
The sign above, woodburned by grandsons, gives a hint to our seasonal water view.  I know I've posted a photo of this sign on Instagram, but can't remember if I've put one here on the blog.
The older photo above, taken in springtime, shows a little more of our lake view.  This was taken before we owned the camp or had done anything with it.

 And the photo above, taken last winter, shows even more of the lake view.  The flat expanse you see in the foreground is the roof of a house, but the second rectangular expanse, with a mountain just above it, is Loon Lake.

I also keep forgetting to show a recent addition to our cottage, a simple guest book which I put together using a composition book, some scrapbooking paper and some washi tape.  It's something I wish I had thought of from the beginning, but I didn't.  I did manage to have the composition book there in time for our first overnight guests, though I didn't complete the cover until after they left.

Below, a little bit closer look at the scrapbook paper and washi tape I used.  It may not hold up perfectly, but that is absolutely fine.  We are not about perfection here!

We feel blessed that the temperatures have been warm enough to allow us to spend several nights this week at our camp.  I've been hoping to get a few photos of The Golden Road, too.  Maybe the leaves will last until the next time we get over there, but with all the rain we're getting, that is by no means a given.  And we do need the rain.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Last hodgepodge for October


 Yep, it's time again for the Wednesday Hodgepodge -- the linkup where Joyce, at  From This Side of the Pond, asks the questions and bloggers provide the answers on their own blogs.  Again this week, the  questions are all over the place, but they were fun to answer.  Here goes!

1. In two or three sentences describe yourself to someone who has never met you. 

I thought I would use my profile info, but it doesn't quite say it all.   So let's try this:  I'm a Christian wife, mother, and grandmother, blessed to live in scenic northern New England with my wonderful husband.  We're loving retirement and the opportunities it brings for volunteering and travel, but also take joy in being home.  Some of my passions include spiritual growth and mentoring, along with creativity in many forms: writing, cooking and baking, needlework, and more.

2. Will you celebrate Halloween this year, and if so tell us how? Let's play this or that-chocolate candy or fruity candy? pumpkin seeds or pumpkin pie? Halloween party or scary movie? hay ride or corn maze? carve a pumpkin or paint a pumpkin?

We're not into Halloween at all, so we won't be celebrating it.  In fact, my hubby and I were just saying the other day that some of the scariest Halloween decor out there may be political signs.

For this or that -- chocolate candy; pumpkin pie; fall party; hay ride; carve a pumpkin.  We got in on a fall party and a pumpkin-carving contest a couple of weeks ago, in fact.  We didn't carve, but enjoyed watching the process and the creativity of others.

Fall photo taken from a hayride at The Wilds of New England

3. What's something that scared you when you were young? Are you still afraid? 

 Tough question.  Nearly everything about school scared me in first grade.  I eventually did get over it, but my reputation for crying easily followed me for years.

This college clock tower adjoined my elementary school campus.

4. Your favorite soothing drink? 

Probably hot apple cider. 

5. Are you thinking about Christmas yet? Does this make you feel happy or stressed? 

I am thinking about Christmas a bit, and pretty much it makes me feel happy.  I'm trying to be in the moment and enjoy the fall season, but I am also thinking ahead to Christmas and even making a few little things for gifts.  Thinking ahead, too. to daily posts in my Christmas blog.

6. Insert your own random thought here.  

I've been trying to do my own spin on Write31Days -- posting in this blog every day of October -- and what I've been finding is that just the act of doing this is giving rise to much more creativity in my life this month.  I'm thoroughly enjoying it!

 And that's this week's Hodgepodge?  Why not snag the questions and link up yourself?

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

On the other side of Back Lake


During our time at beautiful Back Lake, we always enjoy sitting on the dock.  We like seeing what's going on across the water, as well as on it -- for example, loons.  Above you see a partial view of what we see from the dock.  We can often hear hammering in the distance, as it seems homes are being worked on, or new houses are being built.  

Quite a few years ago, our curiosity got the better of us and we figured out how to get to the other side of the lake.  We had to drive over there and park at a public boat launch and then we could walk from there.  This year, we decided to do that again and I'll share some of the photos we took.

The sun finally came out around 5 pm after a day of open-and-shut.  We thought this would be the best part of the day for our expedition, and we were right.

Aren't the cloud reflections glorious?
The scrubby little bushes below were so colorful!  Notice that a couple of the leaves are brilliant red.
And that is some of what is on the other side of Back Lake!  There are some incredibly large and beautiful homes being built over there, but we wanted to focus on nature rather than the man-made with our photos.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Late-fall beauty at First Connecticut Lake


During our recent trip up north, which I hope to blog about soon in its entirety, Mr. T and I spent some good time at First Connecticut Lake.  (For those who may not know, there are four Connecticut Lakes, the headwaters of the Connecticut River, up here in the tippy-top of New Hampshire.)  First Lake, the largest of the four, covers 4.8 square miles!   The foliage is pretty much gone up north, other than yellow tamaracks, but we saw some lovely sights regardless.  We spent a long, long time just sitting on a bench and soaking in the beauty and sunshine.  Storing it up for later.

The above was one of our favorite photos from the afternoon.  We loved the red leaves up close, the water, the evergreens, and the majestic mountains in the distance.
So pretty framed by the evergreens!
Have you noticed in your part of the country that picnic tables have disappeared from parks and public areas since c*vid?   There are a lot less of them than there were in many places here in our state, and there is no viable reason for it.  But I was happy to see here in this state park that there are plenty of picnic tables in scenic spots, and even a few thoughtfully placed benches.  Wouldn't you love to picnic here by the lake?
The red leaves are such an eye-catcher!
We loved the red and yellow leaves along the stone edges of the lake.
Some pretty yellow bushes.
Another shot from our favorite vantage point ... this one shows a bit more of the mountains, I think.
Pretty gold shrubbery.  We liked the red and gold effect below also.
Hope you've enjoyed this peek at some late-fall beauty on magnificent First Lake!

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Sunday Scripture


 Again this Sunday, I'm sharing from the Made for Community reading plan from Love God Greatly that I worked on back in 2015.  With this study, as I have often done, I used the SOAP method of Bible study.  Just a quick reminder that the S is for Scripture, O is for Observation, A is for Application and P is for Prayer.  The sixth section is Living in Community in Our Spheres of Influence.  So here we go with the Scripture for the second day of that section. As I often do, I took a rather deep dive into the Observation component of the study.

S= "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."  (Galatians 5:13-14)

O=  In verse 1 of Galatians 5, Paul is encouraging the readers of his letter to stand fast in the liberty with which Christ has made them free, and to not become entangled again with the yoke of bondage.  

He goes on in verse 2 and following to discuss characteristics displayed in the life of the Christian who is justified by faith.

In verse 13 he notes that believers have been called unto liberty.  A cross-reference is Romans 8:2 -- "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made us free from the law of sin and death."

Even though we are called unto liberty, we must be very careful not to use that liberty the wrong way -- as  an "occasion to the flesh."  Two cross-references are given for "occasion": Romans 6:1 -- "What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" and 1 Peter 2:16 -- "As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God."

Instead of using our liberty as an occasion to sin, we are to serve one another by love.  A couple of cross-references give examples as to how this is done.  Galatians 6:2 -- "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ"; and Ephesians 1:15-16 -- "Wherefore, I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers."

After noting that we are to serve one another by love, Paul goes on to note that all the law may be summed up in the instruction, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

I loved what Warren Wiersbe wrote about this in Be Free, his Galatians Bible study: "Paul's caution is a valid one.  Christian liberty is not a license to sin but an opportunity to serve.  This leads to a commandment: 'by love serve one another.'  The key word, of course, is love.  The formula looks something like this:

liberty + love = service to others
liberty - love = license (slavery to sin)

Wiersbe goes on to add, "The amazing thing about love is that it takes the place of all the laws God ever gave.  'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself' solves every problem in human relations.  If you love people (because you love Christ), you will not steal from them, lie about them, envy them, or try in any way to hurt them.  Love in the heart is God's substitute for laws and threats."

A= These are interesting thoughts concerning liberty.  Christ has made us free; and we are to stand fast in that liberty.  Verse 13 reminds us that we have been called unto liberty.  And yet, we are not to use that liberty in a wrong way -- as "an occasion to the flesh".  Instead, we are to serve one another by love.  In loving our neighbor as ourselves, we are fulfilling the law of Christ.  A practical way to serve and love others is by helping to bear their burdens.

P= "Lord, I thank You for these wonderful verses in Galatians.  What a blessing to know that I've been called unto liberty and I'm exhorted to stand fast in it.  I pray that You will help me never to use that liberty as an occasion to sin, but instead to serve others in love.  Help me to remember that loving my neighbor as myself is all-important, and give me the strength to do this daily, I pray in Jesus' name.  Amen."

That's our simple Bible study for today!  I hope it's been a blessing to someone.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

October "to dos": six ways to be intentional this autumn


The Daily Grace Co. is at it again!  They posted another fun and encouraging graphic that showed up in my Instagram feed a day or two ago.  Even though October is 2/3 over, this sweet to-do list encouraged me, so I thought I would share it with my readers.  Here are some of my thoughts:

Embrace the joys of a new season.  Oh, I have been seeking to do that ever since fall began.  I think that this year I have appreciated the fall leaves like never before, even the little scrubby bushes that just shine their little hearts out in bright orange, red or gold.  We're enjoying fall flavors like apples, cider, and pumpkins.  As we've traveled around through New Hampshire this season, and as we've taken a foliage trip up the Cannon Mountain tram, Mr. T and I have oohed and ahhed over the leaves we've seen, commenting that this glorious show never gets old.  Brilliant red and orange are some of our favorites.

Create an intentional prayer practice.  For years I have used a prayer journal to help me pray more effectively.  My prayer journal posts have been some of my most read here on the blog.  I'm doing a couple of things this season that have enhanced my practice of prayer.  At our church we have a "prayer bulletin" to use on Wednesday nights, and on the back is a list of many folks who are members of the church or frequent visitors ... even many who used to attend and moved away, etc.  This list is broken down by days, with several families or individuals to pray about each day of the week.  Mr. T and I tend to pray through this list in the evenings.  I've begun transferring some of these names to my prayer journal so I will pray for them more frequently.  Another thing I've been doing for  awhile is to set Sunday as my day to pray not only for our church and services, but also to pray for the persecuted church and any believers who are in prison or labor camps or other hard places right now.  I believe it's very important to keep those needs before the Lord in prayer.

Check in on a friend.  This is such a good one.  We have many friends that we aren't in close touch with.  As I was working on this post and read this prompt, I was reminded of a friend I needed to check on.  So I picked up the phone and called.  Why don't you do the same?

Do one thing each day that sparks joy.  Loved this one!  For me, creativity sparks joy.  Writing sparks joy.  Being in God's word sparks joy.  Being with family and friends sparks joy.  Think about what sparks joy for you and then take time for it daily!  Life is too short to not allow time for joy.

Fast screen time for time in the Word.  I don't really do this because my time in the Word is early and consistent and is a quality amount of time each day.  But I would definitely fast from screen time and replace it with time in the Bible if I was struggling with getting into the Word of God.

By Abby at Little Birdie Blessings

Work towards one new goal.  Great idea!  For me, fall often feels like a new beginning.  My new goal is actually going to be an older goal -- decluttering our space.  But this time I am tackling it from a different perspective.  I've been journaling through Melissa Michaels' book Make Room for What You Love (using a scrapbook style journal during downtime at our little cottage).  I finished that up yesterday and so I am going to work through Melissa's step by step guide to making room.  It looks doable and encouraging.

And there you have it.  I hope that you, too, will be inspired by one (or all) of these ways to be more intentional with your time and energy this autumn.