Monday, September 26, 2016

Seed Faith, A Penny Ann Poundwise re-post

I had  this post from September 2009 up to post in mid-August.  I decided to hold it until September and so here it sat, waiting for edit.  In the last few weeks, we have again had reason to study 'seed' and the principles of  seed faith.  As we learned this time, John requested that I 'name our seed' when I wrote out our usual tithe check.  I did.  I named it 'New Flooring'.  That was during this last pay period.  Three days later we were informed we would be receiving a  monetary gift..  I don't consider it coincidence.  God is the provider of all we have and I love how often he likes to 'remind' us of how he can and will do so.

There was a little frame of time when we could have doubted we'd get new flooring after all.  The first quote we received was roughly double what we'd been given!  We went right on packing up boxes and someone at John's work recommended a guy who lives in our county.  He came out and measured and gave us a quote that was well within our range and we're getting better products.  As always, we're overwhelmed how God blesses us.

From September 2009, Penny Ann Poundwise

                                              photo source: lunaticpoet

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were given a wonderful gift of a few days in a cabin in the mountains.  Each morning  we went out on the big screened porch to eat our breakfast and spend time in study and prayer. Each day we spoke of the blessing we'd been given and prayed for the woman who gave it.

One morning as I prayed, my attention was captured by the trees surrounding the cabin.  I noticed first the huge old pine tree that stood just inches from the screened porch.  Then I saw at the foot of the pine tree lots of smaller pines, some only 6-8 inches high.  I found myself completely absorbed in the wonder of those trees.  I felt in my spirit that God was trying to reveal something to me, some essential that I'd missed, but I never quite captured the thought.  I looked at the pinecones on the larger tree and wondered how old the small trees would have to be before they too bore pinecones.

In my mind, I saw the young pines on a piece of farmland near my home, trees no taller than I with their spires of  blooms.  Were they of age to bear pinecones?  I pondered the trees for quite a while  but still I felt I was missing  what God wanted me to understand.   I took a scrap of paper and wrote down "Pine tree" and tucked the paper into my Bible.  I even took  a picture of one of the tiny pine trees.  I wanted very much to know what God was trying to impart and so I tried to make sure I had reminders of what he'd tried to teach me that morning on the porch. 

That week we spent in the cabin was a wonderful time for my husband and I.  We were blessed at every turn, and we spoke often of the blessings.  In fact, we've been experiencing a series of blessings for several months now and when, as happens in every life, we've hit a pothole here or there in our pathway, just as we'd feel our spirits begin to flag one of us will turn to the other and say "We're in a season of blessings."

For some time now, the Lord has been instructing me through His word and revelations about seed. I know that every action, every word, every tithe or gift given becomes a seed but I hadn't realized the full extent of seed faith.  Many months ago God guided me to Genesis, where I found he created seed on the third day of creation.  I realized that seed were very important in God's plan, so important that he created seed before he created man.  Yet in my mind, seed crops were temporary crops, seasonal crops that bore fruit and died away and required planting again and again.

This past weekend as I sat and studied in the early morning hours, God again showed me that pine tree with the smaller trees at it's feet.  I knew that pine trees grew from seeds.  We've evidence of that here on our own land.  Seed blown from Granny's tree a quarter mile away fell to the ground here and grew into several trees that now stand ten feet or more tall.  Suddenly I grasped what the Lord had been trying to show me.  The tree grew from was a seed bearing plant.

My heart leaped as this realization fully came upon me.  Some of the seed we sow are seasonal, temporary plants and do require replanting again and again if we're to gather a repeated harvest.  But some of the seeds we plant grow into trees.  They endure for years and years to come, bearing more and more seed each year as they grow.  I thought of the vast oak tree in a coastal Florida town that was reckoned to be six hundred years old.  How many acorns had that tree produced in it's lifetime?  How many of those acorns had also grown into trees, bearing still more acorns to grow into trees?   I looked out over our land and noted the many pine trees now growing in the overgrown fields.  Not one of those trees was planted by man, but each grew from seed and each year they bear pinecones that bear more seed.

I don't think I've grasped the fullness of all God wanted me to understand about seed yet, but I am thankful for His being patient with me as I grasped his message on this particular day.  I checked my Bible to be certain I'd 'heard' Him aright.  This is what I found:

Genesis 1:11  Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so.
Praise God!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

In My Home This Week: Dreaming of Things to Come

In my home this week...

I am contemplating the changes new flooring will bring.  I've been looking at pillow covers today on Amazon (hard not to consider them when they will cover existing pillows for under $5), that will bring more colors into the room.  I am discussing a custom piece of artwork with Katie for the gallery wall.  Changes, changes, changes.   Gracious there's an air of change here!

I didn't get much done in the house this past week. It is staying so very clean of late.  I am pretty sure it's because it's simply hot here still.  I am so looking forward to cooler air! I don't want to move too much indoors and haven't done a thing outdoors.   But it's more than that hot weather.  We are not messing the house up very much at all.  I'm not sure quite what that is all about.  It may be because John keeps moving things away from the wall and cleaning under them.  He bought more of those handy furniture gliders this week. Now every big hulking big piece of furniture we have has them permanently under their feet.  We have spare sets to put under the smaller pieces we can easily lift.  These things are so very handy!

Anyway, the need to not do housework left me plenty of time to finish up some posts last week.  Hopefully this means I'll have a bit more content up for the next few  weeks.  I stayed busy enough  just the same.  I don't seem to have gotten very much done in the leisure department, but I did get a haircut.  I spent a lot longer than anticipated in a new salon getting my hair done.  Oh the joy of having your hair come out exactly right!  I told John it was so fun to hand the stylist the photo I wanted my hair to look like and then I watched it take shape on me.  I felt as though I could have floated out of the door.  I managed to finish another creative project, a short table runner that is fall inspired.  I am waiting until we're done with all the moving before I put it out.

Gracious! September will be over this week.  I must start planning for October goals.  I wonder how far I'll manage to go with my September goals?  New floors, cool air, dreaming up things for the month ahead....

I plan meals:

Roast Beef Sandwiches, Chips, Grapes

on my own x 2

Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti, Green Salad, Garlic Toast

Shepherd's Pie, Tossed Salad, Baked Apples

grocery deli day

Polska Kielbasa, Sweet and Sour Cabbage, Pierogies

I plan my work:

Finish sewing up aprons I cut out.

Buy mulch, landscape blocks, and paint to finish September projects.  Finish September projects.

Purchase mums and fall plants for planters.  PLANT.

Pack up all books and files.  Get them stacked out of the way.  Clean under small bookcases and file cabinet.

Harvest week:  Paycheck, bills, errands, groceries.

Try to alter a pair of pants to fit. 

Set up 7-10 days of outfits.

Get book review written and posted.

Put hand fans in handy spots on front and back porch.  Gnats are fierce right now.

Make more pupsicles.  Heated days make them necessary for Maddie.

Work on October goals.

I plan leisure:

Take morning coffee on the front porch.

Watch sunset if it's nice enough to be out at that hour.

Genealogy work.

Spa Morning.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Weekend Reading

Isn't it lovely?  The picture, I mean.  Because so far autumn doesn't even begin to describe the appearance of our landscape.  The trees look a little thinner, the lawn looks terribly dry, the flowers look scrappy and the golden rod just can't seem to make that final push and really bloom.  But hey, I've got a picture full of fall beauty right there.

I saw this on MSN last week.  I love big piles of fall leaves and this series of videos captures the joy they can be for kids and pets.

I plan menus here on the blog.  I then forget all about them and have to have the computer up and running in order to see what my plan was.  Nine times out of ten I won't bother.  I thought menu plan sheets might change all that.  I haven't printed any out just yet.  I had to buy new ink cartridges just in case I ran us completely dry, since the warning sign keeps coming up.  Perhaps tomorrow I can choose something pretty and print it out for my home notebook.  Here's a post I found on Pinterest with loads to choose from.

I don't have Microsoft Office on my computer.  I refuse to pay the huge price for it.  I'd heard of this program earlier this week.  Virginia got a new computer and installed this program but it played heck with the particular word program software that makes up her work.  I don't know how this will work on anyone's computer but it's free and if you don't need something very specialized or specific it might be a great answer for you.  Apache Open Office.

I have really been enjoying the ideas behind the posts at GoodCheapEats.  This one asks some relevant questions about rethinking the grocery budget.  And this one has some good ideas for cutting down on meal prep time.  I don't have to have dinner on the table quickly, but if I'm in the midst of a project I sure do like to cut out all the stuff that takes me away from my project work.

I happen to like to clean bathrooms (except to scrub the shower).  I think sparkling white porcelain and shiny chrome are the most rewarding of cleaning jobs.  That said, I know it's not to everyone's taste and some of you might even like to {{shudders}} dust, instead.  To each his own.  That said, we must all clean the bathroom and why not make a grand job of it and be done with it?  You might appreciate these professional hints in this post.

I love my gas stove and oven.  I don't like the idea of cleaning it and mixing gas fumes and pilot light with crazy oven cleaning chemicals.  This MOO (sort of a trademark from this blog that stands for Make Our Own) oven cleaner.  Anabelle tried it and liked it.  I'm going to try it myself, though I confess I have found that just wiping it out each time I use it is the very best method of all for keeping it clean.  And while you've got the site pulled up look at all her other MOO mixes.  You might find something useful!

That's it for this week.  There's the most wonderful bit of sunshine coming through the sheers that I kind of want to gaze at just now.  Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Frugal Friday: Working Steadily On

Saturday:  Made up John's work sandwiches yesterday evening.

Sat on the back porch last night and watched the Harvest Moon rise.  It was lovely.

I made three apple pies yesterday.  I think I failed to mention that I saved the peels and cores from the apples in the freezer.  It is my hope to make a small batch of apple jelly from them in the week ahead. 

This morning I made my first batch of Soft Baked Pretzels.  They were easier than I'd imagined (though there is definitely a misprint in my cookbook) and went far quicker than I'd thought they would.  In retrospect, I could have baked them much later in the morning.

I made German potato salad, and Cheddar Beer Dip.  I was not too fond of either one.  The potato salad was not as flavorful as I'd hoped it might be and the Cheese dip was bitter.  There were plenty of both leftover, naturally.  Haven't you ever noticed how often things we least like, even when others pronounce them delicious are always leftover?

I packed up food for Katie's husband and an extra apple pie (I know she'll share that with her next door neighbor) and sent Bess and Sam home with extra items as well.  I had enough leftovers for our supper tonight and some for one day next.

Ran a very full load of dishes in the dishwasher and hand washed a copious amount of dishes as well.  I chuckle now when I think how using the paper plates were going to save me working so...but in the end I suppose it did.  If I'd had to pack those in the dishwasher I'd have hand washed a lot more...or run two loads!  Made sure to turn off the heat dry.  Tiny little fingers do love to push buttons and turn knobs.

Washed a small load of clothes for Katie this morning.  She added in our few things to increase load size.

Had a rather awesome day with my family and enjoyed my two little grandbabies.

Put all of John's work lunch items in one spot in the fridge so I'd have an easier time packing them tomorrow morning.

Sunday:  Made John's breakfast.  Packed his work lunch.

John's car would not crank this morning.  We're pretty sure it's the battery, which we've never replaced in all the years we've had the car.  He took my car.  I'll stay at home which is not a hard thing for me at all.

Stripped bed and started a full load of laundry.  Went about house and generally straightened every area, even though John kindly vacuumed yesterday evening after everyone had headed home.

Mopped kitchen and poured mop water over plants.

When it started to rain, I moved potted plants to the back steps so they could catch more run off of water.

I kept feeling cold last night and again today.  I checked the thermostat and it was set on 75f.  I kicked it back up to 77f.  I'm sure it got turned down when the oven was on and doors had to be shut to the other rooms to keep babies out of them.

Hung a small bulletin board above my desk.  Put a clock there as well.  Although there are several clocks in that room I can't see them from my desk or the sitting area.  I may remove it later but for right now I have a handy reminder of time...supposedly.

Ate leftovers for dinner and for supper.  Not from the weekend but from this past week.

Fed Maddie half cat food, never a hardship as far as she's concerned.  Tomorrow I will go get dog food.

Monday:  John worked an hour overtime this morning.

He stopped on his way home to pick up a battery.  He took the old battery back to recover the core charge.

John tackled a problematic maintenance required light that came on in my car this morning.  We'd just had oil changed last week and everything on the check list appears to be fine.  He noted the battery cables were covered with corrosion and cleaned them.  He replace the battery in his car.

I rode into town with him and got dog food at the dollar store. 

He filled his car with gasoline while he was out.  We picked up mail, talked with family we ran into in town and took off the trash.

We ate leftovers from our weekend meal for dinner today.  I mixed the cheese dip with the potatoes and oddly enough both tasted much better.

Made 1 1/2 quarts of croutons this morning.  I popped the pan of bread cubes into the oven when I took out the breakfast toast.  After ten minutes, I turned off the heat entirely.  Left them to sit for about two hours and they were nice and crunchy.  I make croutons from end pieces and odd slices of bread.  I set aside the larger pieces of bread to use to make French toast or Strata (think breakfast casserole) and such.  I accumulate them in the freezer until I have enough to use.

Tuesday:  Made my on variation of a recipe I saw online: Maple Pecan Oatmeal.  I used real Maple syrup instead of the usual brown sugar in the stovetop oatmeal that I usually make and tossed in 1/4 cup chopped pecans.  That was very good!

Roasted Butternut Squash and baked chicken today.  I set aside one breast to use in making the chicken soup later in the week.  I had about half the butternut squash left as well.  Not sure just yet what I'm going to do with that but you know it might be very tasty in my soup later in the week...Just thinking as I type, y'all.

The Lemon BBQ sauce was quite good.  I knew I didn't need the full recipe for my dinner of two chicken breasts, so I halved it...and I halved it again when the measuring cup slipped sideways in a freak accident and the sauce spilled all over counter, dishwasher, floor and me, sigh.  The recipe reads as follows:

Lemon BBQ sauce:
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard (I crushed 1/2 tsp of whole mustard seeds)
2 tsp grated onion
2 tbsp. brown sugar

Mix well and spoon over meat.  The recipe was for fish, but John doesn't eat fish, so I used chicken breasts.  This was light, refreshing and the brown sugar made it sort of thicken and glaze on the meat. Even halving the recipe and spilling more, I really had more than I needed, so plan accordingly if you make this.  The recipe was from a 1940's September Woman's Day magazine.

Used scrap fabric to make a table runner.  I don't know what happened between sewing the sides and ruffles I made and going back after prepping dinner but the bobbin suddenly began snarling on the back of my thread so the tension is off somehow.  I'll have to get out the booklet and adjust it once more.  And pull out a fat lot of wasted thread.

Burnt myself three times on the stove.  Decided to give up sewing and cooking for rest of the day.

Took Pound cake from the freezer and sliced for John's lunch tomorrow. Also made gelatin in individual bowls and prepped his sandwiches.  I need to add some fresh fruit to this mix and he'll be good for the day tomorrow.

Put Dawn detergent on the spots on my jeans and t-shirt and left them to soak.

Wednesday:  Packed John's lunch and made him breakfast. 

Earned 50 points on Swag bucks this morning, working before 7am.

Packed a snack and water to go with me today since I'd eaten breakfast about 6:15 a.m.

Picked up magazines at Mama's that had been gently read.

Before leaving home this morning I thought to grab some extra cash from what I'd set aside last week.  Good thing I did.  Invariably when something special is requested for dinner, as it was today, it's my turn to pay and it's generally higher than our usual meals out. 

I went by the grocery store on my way home and picked up bread and sodas for this week.  I also bought two big family sized boxes of cereal with coupons and sales combined.  I paid $1.79 for each box, but they are twice the size of those I typically buy at Aldi for $1.49. 

I minded my budget while I was in the grocery. Not so hard as you might think.  I found three receipts I hadn't put in my notebook earlier this week. I was over budget after all this month. Lower than I've been in a long time on my grocery budget but still over where I'd hoped to lower it.   I'll try harder still next month.

Thursday:  Made a big breakfast this morning, using the larger slices of frozen bread to make French Toast.  I scrambled the egg and milk mixture with another egg when I was done making toast.  I put four slices of French toast in the freezer.

I spent all morning ripping out stitches and reading the manual for my sewing machine and testing stitches.  I mostly have it fixed. I still need to make a further adjustment of some sort but after an hour and  a half I needed a break from it.  It was not all lost time however.  It's more fixed than not and I learned how to properly wind my bobbin.  Funny what you can learn from reading the manual!

I mixed up a meatloaf while I was making dinner from hamburger meat today.  I'd taken two packages of ground beef from the freezer, totaling about 1 1/2 pounds.  I made two Salisbury steak patties from about 1/2 pound and then made meatloaf from the rest.  I started by mixing in some minced onion and garlic, Worcestershire, salt and pepper in the meat.  That's the mix I made my Salisbury steak from then I added bread crumbs, tomato sauce, oregano and an egg and made meatloaf.  I put that in the freezer for a future meal.

Had another bit of genealogy info drop into my lap this morning.  I am definitely going to be working with all this new information this afternoon in my quiet work time.

I ordered something from Walmart earlier this week.  I tried four times to go directly through the Swagbucks Shop and Earn link but the store page would simply not load.  In the end, I got the order placed and waited to see if it would show on my Shop and Earn page.  Nope.  I contacted them this morning with a request for help.  I supplied the information asked for and will wait to hear from them.   It's worked for me in the past and hopefully will this time as well.

I had two over ripe bananas.  I made banana muffins.  I wanted banana nut bread but I didn't have enough bananas.  I halved the recipe for the banana nut bread and put the batter into muffin tins.  I have six of the prettiest banana nut muffins ever.

Friday:  John wanted to go out today to pick up more boxes for packing and more of those slider things to go under furniture.  We've found them so handy!  I made a simple breakfast for us and gathered trash.  We picked up mail, dropped off mail, and went on to our destination. 

There is a new Ulta store and salon in the same shopping center as the DIY store.  I told John I'd like to go in to get a hair appointment or a hair cut if it was possible.  He dropped me off there and went on to Home Depot.  I gave him a short list of items I needed (primer and paint for the dining room chair).  The price at Ulta salon is a leap over what I've been paying but I was no longer happy with the cut I was getting.  I can tell you honestly that it was a thrill to look at the picture, which I'd brought with me, and look at my hair and see the exact cut and style.  I was complimented four times on my way out of the store!   My husband and Katie are both well pleased with the way it looks.  So in this case, I guess it's entirely true: you get what you pay for. 

John offered to buy us lunch at the local diner.

When we got home we had a call from the flooring guy...We CAN afford this quote and we're getting the nicest quality of both carpet and vinyl tiles for the three rooms.  I am so pleased.  We have an install date in October.  Happy dances and all such.

I made a lovely pot of chicken rice soup.  I used some turmeric to create a lovely golden color in our soup.  The soup used only 1 chicken breast, a bit of carrot, onion, celery and brown rice.  It was delicious.

While in Ulta I was able to price the perfume I've come to love of late.  It's pricey...that's the trouble with liking real perfume.  I'll look elsewhere to check prices to see how they match up.

Received my new Swagbucks rewards gift card and added to my store card balance.

Received my AdSense payment.

That's my week.  I keep working steadily on to reach my goals.  How was your week?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Iced Tea Chat: The Last for the Year?

Come in...I hope that soon we will be in autumn mode and able to share a coffee chat once more.  For now, it's hot so have some more iced tea.  Blech.   I am well over my sorrow that summer is ending and ready for the next season.  Mama amused me no end when we were out the other day and I mentioned that it was meant to be hot through next week.  "I'm ready for WINTER!" she said.  Well good luck with that since we can't seem to get autumn off the ground just yet!   I'm always impressed with how nature will hold on until the proper season is evident to do something major.  Like last Easter when it was so very cold and early, too and the dogwoods looked absolutely bereft of life and yet two or three days before Easter they suddenly bloomed out, just as they do every year.  How do they know?  Well now it's the golden rod.  It's almost but not quite at bloom, just tipped with color and that's the state it's been in for the past few weeks.  What is it that tells golden rod when to burst into riotous bloom? 

I've been toying with an idea of something, an Etsy shop, for a number of years now.  Well Katie actually went ahead and started one and she's got the cutest things!  For her birthday in June she'd asked for art supplies and special pens and I knew she'd been practicing scripts and such.  She told me Saturday that she'd set it up and she officially opened her shop on Monday.  I think I can share the link:  Katie's Etsy.   I'm so proud of her!  Please have a look about Katie's shop.

I didn't have much time to spend with Katie this past weekend when she visited.  She came down early on Friday and I was in the midst of making pies and slicing potatoes and generally trying to get things ready for our family day on Saturday.  However, she had saved Taylor's bath time for Friday evening at my home.  Katie was sure it would help Taylor sleep better and she knew I'd get a kick out of bath time.  I love changing diapers and bathing babies!   I got to see how long Taylor's hair really is (middle of her back) and how tightly it will curl up when just washed (all the way up to the base of her head) and to watch that little girl in her sleepy time routine.  She goes to bed awfully early, just as her mama did when she was an infant and like her mama it doesn't matter where she is, when it's bedtime it is most definitely bedtime.  Period. She went right off to sleep and slept all night long.

Katie had to run an errand in the next town and while she was gone I slipped out of the house and sat on the back porch and admired the moon rise.  It was a lovely full harvest moon, all orange and glowing as it slid up the skyline.  I'd have enjoyed it mightily except for the pesky doggone gnats which are at their worst just at the moment it seems.  I am afraid I was tired that evening and the opportunity to really talk with Katie passed in silence.  John had on the TV and snoozed in his chair, and Katie and I smiled at each other and drifted back to our respective internet interests.  I think we were all tired, really.

I happened to be up the next morning when I heard Taylor cry out a little bit and when I walked into the room she smiled so sweetly at me and let me do all the little things that makes my Gramma heart glad.  I changed her diaper and dressed her and kissed her and praised her.  Oh how I enjoyed that!   And then I watched in astonishment as this tiny little bitty delicate girl put away enough food to do her Grandpa justice!  She ate a packet of yogurt, a granola bar, half a piece of toast and two eggs.  Katie said that is pretty typical for her, too!

Our family day was the brainchild of Bess.  She'd come to me just at the end of their stay here and suggested that since I was essentially the half way point between both Kate's and Sam's homes that we have a quarterly family day.  Everyone thought it a great idea and we chose the date in September that worked with John's schedule.  Hence the kids were here for the day this past weekend and it was grand!  I ranked it a success.  Bess sat down with us before leaving and we looked over dates and chose a time for our Family Holiday in December.  It falls in the general holiday area.  Katie refers to this as our "ThankHannukahMas" celebration. 

I had Taylor to myself for a short bit of time Saturday morning and then Josh came in with his parents.  I watched both of them with interest.  Taylor was walking so much better than when I saw her last and had added words to her vocabulary.  Josh is getting more and more articulate and I was intrigued to see how he acted with Taylor.  Well I wish you could have heard him say, "C'mon Tay!" and she'd toddle right behind him all over the house.   Periodically they'd stop and one of them would come climb up in my lap.  Towards the end of the afternoon, they both found their way to my lap.

John doesn't believe in winning over children.  He tends to just sit back and let them come to him when they've gotten comfortable.  However, Taylor never did voluntarily go to him.  Just before they left I took her over to him and plopped her in his lap.  And there she happily sat until it was time to go.  Her big thing with John, the thing that made her smile hugely was when he'd shake her hand.  I don't know just why this tickles her and Josh so much, to have their hands shaken, but it does.  He had to do it repeatedly with Taylor before she'd finally let go.

After Taylor was gone, John and Josh played kazoo.  Bess took a video and you can see Josh watching John's tapping foot and then picking up the rhythm in his own movements, keeping perfect time all through the song.  They went off to the music room where John played the guitar and played the kazoo and Josh tootled along with him.  At one point I realized the perfectly pitched, spot on tune kazoo playing was solely Josh!  That little boy does love music and it is my prayer that John will at last have a kindred amongst his grandchildren who  loves music as he does.

Josh and I had our moments.  I do love that little dimply smile of his!

Our theme for this visit was Oktoberfest.  We had brats and buns, German potato salad, and a salad, soft baked pretzels with beer cheese dip and my favorite apple pie recipe.  I was sure I'd shared that pie recipe on the recipe blog but I haven't.  I'll try to get all the recipes that turned out well up on that blog this next week.  What didn't turn out well: the beer cheese dip was bitter and the German potato salad had none of the needed sharpness of the dressing and seemed bland.  Not at all happy with those two recipes.  I made the pretzels from scratch and that was far easier than I'd imagined it might be.  Sort of boosted my confidence to try bagels and English muffins. 

The apple pie is something I only make in autumn.  I've been making it for years upon years, since the 1980's.  It is rich and tart and sweet and spicy.  I've always followed the pastry recipe that comes along with it and it's always turned out just lovely.  This year, due to it being a family gathering, I made three pies.  One extra large deep dish, which  really is just one recipe worth of pastry and filling and then two smaller ones which was a second recipe of it all split between a small 6 inch deep pie plate and a standard 8 inch pie plate.  I sent that 8 inch pie home with Katie along with some of our foods so that her working husband could enjoy our dinner, too.  I generally use some sort of pie apple but this year I chose from Aldi's selection and I mixed Granny Smith and Gala.  It made for a very good pie!  The apples held their shape well and the slightly sweeter Gala was well matched to the more tart Granny Smith.

Do you save certain foods for a sort of seasonal celebration?  I'll be making Gingerbread this weekend which I only ever want in the autumn and winter months.  I've made my apple pie which is strictly an annual autumn ritual.  I hope to find butter nut flavoring so I can make that lovely butter nut cake this year.  I think I'll make just a half recipe though and decrease the frosting recipe by 3/4 so it won't be quite so sugary sweet.  Oatmeal cookies are generally an autumn-ish sort of cookie in my opinion though I can't just tell you why I believe they are.  I'll make those two or three times during the season. At least once as they are written out  and once with apples and dried cranberries and white chocolate chips in them.  Sometime during autumn, I usually manage to make apple turnovers once.   But really for all that I'm saying we don't eat something sweet every day. I find it easy these days to pop things into the freezer or to share with the kids.  I have my small share of the treat and they enjoy some of it as well and that is that. 

I'll also make applesauce several times over the fall and winter months.  It's such a lovely way to make good use of the apples when they start to age a little and John decides to start shunning them.  I never use sugar in applesauce.  I find it just about perfect in it's own right.  I like to eat it with a crisp graham cracker or a small dollop of whipped topping or even with a little cottage cheese.  Gracious, I wish I had a whole bag of apples just now!

We had roasted butternut squash this week.  I have leftovers.  I like butternut squash and John does too.  I used to get an acorn squash or two each year during these months but John didn't much care for it.  However, he likes butternut squash well enough.  I'm deliberating on presenting him with butternut squash soup at a meal...but I have a feeling I'd better stick to roasted squash.  Maybe he'd like one of my great Aunt Johnnie's Butternut pies?

I was remembering my Aunt Johnnie the other day.  She was actually my great aunt.  She had dark curly hair and beautiful blue eyes and a round cheeked face.  She was a laughing woman, always laughing or making others laugh.   She never had children of her own but she adored her nieces and nephews and their children, too.  She was married to Uncle Herman who was as tall as Aunt Johnny was short and as lean as she was round.  He boomed when he spoke and was a night watchman at a factory.  I always imagined he frightened away the bad guys just by speaking, but he had the kindest face.  They were well matched in laughing at life and enjoying it.

The road in front of their house was a dirt road but it wasn't the same sort of dirt road we have here.  Their road was loaded with mica bits and it shone and glittered in the sun.  I used to pick up pieces of the thickly layered mica rocks.   I loved the little white house trimmed in red that sat on the greenest bit of lawn you've ever seen.  I've no idea how they got that grass so thick and green but it was and it was bordered by a neatly trimmed, carefully cultivated boxwood hedge.  Either side of the front sidewalk was an old tire, cut so that the tops pointed upwards, painted white and filled with red petunias.  I adored those tires filled with flowers!  I don't think they used the front door much.  I don't recall it ever being opened.

The main entrance seemed to be around back.  There was a wide brick back porch and two doors leading into the house.  One door went into a bedroom and the other into the kitchen.  The rooms all opened one into another so I've no clue why the double back doors.  The living room was hardly ever used I think.  I believe they used the second bedroom as a sort of sitting room but the living room fascinated me and I'd sit there for hours just gazing at all of the what nots Aunt Johnny had collected.  A trio of monkeys depicting "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil".  A crinolined shepherdess.  A matched set of turkey salt and pepper shakers.  A porcelain curly poodle with a chain leash.  A frilled high heel shoe.  Those are the ones I remember. 

I never saw or set foot in Aunt Johnnie's bedroom which was off the living room.  That was just beyond the realms of politeness to even think of touching the door to that room.  I wonder how prettily she had decorated it? 

Outside the kitchen window (above the sink as it ought to be) was a lovely weeping willow tree.  It had such thick foliage that swept the ground and I could sit inside that lovely cool greenness and not be seen, not even from the kitchen window which faced it.  Oh how I loved hiding there!  The tree was watered by the runoff from the washing machine in the basement of the house.  I never saw the basement, either.  Aunt Johnny was worried about me tumbling down the stairs.

The house was part of a farm.  There were barns and fields surrounding it and one autumn we visited while they were having a dove shoot over the mown cornfield.  We came in unexpected but Aunt Johnny wasn't in the least phased.  She just peeled more potatoes to put into the pot and quickly mixed up another butternut pie.  I remember sitting around that table with all the adults, eating those tiny little birds that were fried to tender crispiness and eating mashed potatoes and gravy.  And oh how sweet that Butternut pie tasted!

I remember after dinner, when the men went out to the porch to smoke their cigarettes, that Mama and Aunt Johnny and I cleared the table.  Mama had asked Aunt Johnny how she made such good pie crusts and Aunt Johnny had blushed and laughed and said "Oh Ann....there's nothing to it!"  Mama went to put something in the trash and she said "Why Aunt Johnny!  You used bought pie crusts!" and she held up the wrapping.  Aunt Johnny blushed a little deeper and laughed and said "I told you there was nothing to it, Ann!" 

Oh how I loved that little house that evening, with the big full moon rising in front of the back porch and the murmur of gentle quiet talk in the cool September air, our stomachs filled with good food, the lights of the kitchen burning out into the darkness that crept over the oak trees and barns.   I don't remember leaving.  I don't think I ever did really, for that evening shines out in memory as a lasting one.

A few years ago I had occasion to ride up that way and passed the little house.  The barns were gone and the fields were too.  The little house stood stark naked without the willow tree or boxwood hedges to soften the edges.  They'd paved the road.   Aunt Johnny had died years earlier from diabetic complications.  Nothing was the same.  But I had that memory to keep that little home place and those dear people vitally alive within.

I've just been watching a nature program on PBS...Sigh.  Beautiful, stunningly beautiful photography but oh my goodness the suppositions they do promote.  They suggest that we are all just a set of molecules of water.  Why is it so improbable that we are created from dust as the Bible says if they can believe we are created from molecules of water?  It does make me chuckle.  Minds can be bent only so far in some directions.  Man has need to explain things and this theory that we were created by the breath of a God creator is beyond explanation.  And yet they look and look for a plausible theory in multiple other equally improbable places.  And it's better than accepting the story of creation how?  Beyond me. 

I haven't always been a Christian.  I sought long and hard and read multiple books on various subjects related to spiritualism and the supernatural and in the end, I came right back to the point where I'd started and suddenly this  whole thing of the Creator and the created, the awesome and the awe filled world made sense to me.  I'm not a scientist.  I know this.  On the intelligence quotient I rank a little more than average but not genius level by any means.  Yet, I can see that here is something that fills the empty places.  

Sometime ago a friend who chooses not to believe in God reposted a blurb from an atheist which said "How ridiculous is it to believe in a God who created the universe and all in it and think that he could possibly see someone as tiny and insignificant as you."   I felt laughter bubble up in my throat and wrote back, "And that is where you are mistaken.  How wonderful it is that a God who created the universe and all that is in it thought I was significant enough to send his son to die for me; that this awesome God knows my name, has counted the hairs upon my head and has a plan for my life." 

Oh do look at the time!  How it does get away from me when I'm chatting away!  I've so enjoyed visiting with you.  Remember to go check Katie's shop.  Christmas is coming up....

Gosh it is and this is the time of year I start to plan for all that.  I have lists to get busy making...Talk to you all later.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A, B, C, D, E Building Blocks for the Body

I am not a nutritionist...Let me make that clear right from the start.  I am not a nutritionist but I've been studying nutrition in some manner over the past four years because of a general desire to improve my health.  Last year, after being diagnosed as a diabetic during an emergency hospitalization for pulmonary embolisms, I began to review what I'd been learning and amped up my studies.  I knew that the lung problem was serious enough on its own but one that was taken care of by a surgical procedure.  Diabetes is a lifelong condition.  I'd been taking some vitamin supplements and somewhat changed my eating habits  over the past four years and had considerably improved my overall health, but I could tell from about February of last year that something was off.  Once my blood sugars were lowered and more balanced, I felt considerably better.  I was given insulin among other drugs while in the hospital and the endocrinologist gave me a plethora of prescription diabetic drugs to take when I left the hospital.  I was convinced however, partly through the Diabetic Education Counselor's teaching and the endocrinologist's Nurse Practitioner's cautious advice that I could EAT my way to better health and so I began to look at the tie-ins to good health and the nutritional values of foods.  For myself this proved to be the key.

I've only just begun my study of nutrition all over again this year.  I overwhelmed myself last summer with an overload of information.  I wanted to get on top of the diabetic diagnosis and bring my elevated sugars within normal ranges.   Today I take only Metformin and two or three supplements recommended by my Doctor of Osteopathy and my blood sugars are well within normal range.  My doctor urged me to add a few vitamins and supplements to my diet which are known anti-inflammatories, like cinnamon, D3, Vitamin C.

While all vitamins and nutrients are important to our bodies we must remember that nutritionally speaking it's not possible to get all vitamins and nutrients from one food or one food group.  We must eat a variety of foods and each food we eat adds to the values of the others. Think of it like those A,B,C blocks we all provided for the children to play with.  Remember how they'd stack them, one on top of the other?  That's how vitamins work:  together.   We don't just get A, B, C, and D vitamins but also E and K, and we also get selenium, iron, calcium, phosphorus and so much more when we eat across the whole spectrum of available foods.

You might think that there's little value in eating a wide variety of foods or even in eating seasonally but studies have long proven that indeed it does make a huge difference.  It's hard to believe that people might not eat well because of conflicting ideas from doctors and nutritionists but honestly, they do.  They read that butter and dairy isn't good for them, they become so obsessed with fat that they don't eat enough (it's necessary for the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals as well as the function of the intestines).  Some people avoid foods that are cultivated (think grains here) or eat gluten free (again grains) though there's actually very few people who have a gluten intolerance. And that's just due to what can be read in any magazine or best selling diet book given the current decade!   We ourselves followed a low carb plan for about four years and there's nothing wrong with that but gracious when you stand and gaze at a pile of oranges in the grocery store with tears in your eyes, honey something has to give!  

Here I'll have to go back to Granny's wisdom:  Everything in moderation.  She advised me long ago to have a little  sugar every day, to eat a little  fat every day, eat a little sodium  and to be moderate in portions.  Turns out she's exactly right. 

Vitamins are either fat soluble or water soluble.  Water soluble vitamins are easily depleted because they are not stored in the body.  Fat soluble vitamins are A, D, E and K (Vitamin K affects blood clotting. It was recommended I not eat more than my normal amounts of dark green leafy vegetables while I was on blood thinners.  Apparently the Kale diet was not needed at this time!) Water soluble vitamins are B and C vitamins.

Vitamin A is a well known vitamin for eye health.  It's also a terrific antioxidant. It's found in milk, eggs, cheese, but most popular are the beta carotene rich foods: winter squashes, sweet potatoes, carrots, apricots, cantaloupe, grapefruit and in dark leafy greens. 

Vitamin A helps build strong bones, promotes healthy skin and mucus membranes.  As with everything: MODERATION.  No one should build their diet simply about Vitamin A's.  Generally speaking ONE serving of Vitamin A daily is sufficient so if you're eating any of the above named beta carotene rich foods, then limit yourself to one serving.  That's 1/2 cup sweet potato or 1 cup of  carrots or 1 medium cantaloupe.

There are 8 essential B vitamins.  B vitamins break down carbohydrates and fats in our diet.  They promote healthy skin, hair, mouth, eyes, and liver. B vitamins are necessary for the nervous system of the body.  The nervous systems is the stuff that runs the whole show.  Think of them as the electrical lines. 

Complex B vitamins (that's all the B group) are found in brewers yeast, liver, meat, fish, fruits, leafy green vegetables, legumes, whole grains, cereals, rice, nuts, milk, eggs.  Because B vitamins are water soluble there is little risk of getting too much.  Unless you drink alcohol in excess you aren't likely to deplete your body of B6.  And just as a side note here it wasn't uncommon in those older magazines from the 1920's and 1930's to see advertisements for the benefits of adding yeast to the diet.  With meats, liver and dark green leafy vegetables not available year round it's no wonder many people suffered with a deficiency of B vitamins in those days!

Vitamin C is something we all say we need when we get a cold.  I've personally found that increased doses of Vitamin C does indeed help limit the duration of cold and flu but 'there's no evidence'...just so you know.   It is a powerhouse vitamin and that's no kidding.  Autoimmune booster, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, promotes healthy heart, eyes, and it's a wonderful anti aging vitamin. Vitamin C ties into muscle and bone health. 

This vitamin also is a water soluble one so getting too much is not a great concern.  In fact, most doctors think we get too little because it's virtually impossible to eat enough of it.  My own doctor recommended an additional dosage daily.  Forget the recommended five servings of vegetables a day, one site even pushed the idea of nine servings of fruit and vegetables each day if you were to EAT all the needed foods to gain enough vitamin C.  Since the average American is doing great to get three servings of vegetables and fruit daily, despite the recommendations by government guidelines of 5-7, Vitamin C deficiency is a concern.   That's why some doctors recommend taking a supplement of 500 mg.   

Good sources of Vitamin C are foods that are naturally high in citrus,  broccoli, dark leafy green vegetables, and most of the red vegetables: red cabbage, tomatoes, red (and green) bell peppers. strawberries.  Other good sources of Vitamin C are potatoes (white and sweet), kiwi, winter squash, pineapple, cabbage, blueberries. 

I was not surprised to read this year that the use of sunscreen has actually caused a huge deficit of Vitamin D for many Americans.  While skin cancer is a very real concern and can be very serious, we are now being urged to not only drink our fortified milk but to sit in the sun, sans sunscreen, for 5-10 minutes just three times a week.  Choose those hours when risk of sunburn is considerably lowered.

Vitamin D deficiencies are also linked to Diabetes and Thyroid diseases, so this is obviously a key vitamin in a healthy diet. If you go online there will be a statement that there is 'not enough evidence' to support what I just said...  However, the evidence coming in from recent studies are certainly telling us why so many diagnosed with Diabetes also may have hypothyroidism. This all important vitamin also can affect bone health, nerve health, and help fight cancer.  The best sources?  Dairy, cold water fish (think Salmon and Cod), Sardines and Tuna,  egg yolks (proof that egg whites alone don't cut it in a healthy diet!),  and fortified cereals. 

Vitamin E is a fat soluble  vitamin.  It is found in nuts, vegetable oils, green leafy vegetables and fortified cereals.  It is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, promotes healthy skin, heart, eyes.  Most doctors do not recommend taking a Vitamin E supplement because it is most readily absorbed from foods containing it and deficiencies of this vitamin are rare.  Dosage requirements are actually low, but necessary all the same.

So there's some basic knowledge for you.  Did I learn anything during the work I did on this post?  Yes, I did...My doctor has recommended we take a low dose Vitamin E pill each day but we typically eat a healthy balanced diet and I think I'm going to leave that supplement off in the future.   There appears to be little need for it and no real benefit to taking the supplement.    I also learned that indeed, while some foods are higher in certain vitamins than others eating the rainbow of colors truly does merit good health overall.  

I plan to continue this series so look for posts in the coming days/weeks. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Household of the Ant

                                          photo source:

I was recently reading through the book of Proverbs and was, as always, intrigued by the references made to the ant.   As a child, I often lay upon the ground and watched ants as they worked busily.  I loved to watch them on their self-made super highways traveling from job site to ant mound and back again, often in as many as six lanes, three headed out and three headed in. Considering how frequently we battle them here, I was curious as to why the Bible mentioned them at all.  Well with good reason, as it turns out.  Here's what I read and what I learned in research.

Solomon mentions the ant in Proverbs 6:6-8  Take a lesson from the ants, you lazy fellow!  Learn from their ways and be wise!  For though they have no king to make them work, yet they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.  (TLB)  Other versions say, "having no king, or overseer, or ruler, provides her supplies in summer and gathers her food in the harvest."

And Agur, in Proverbs 30:24-25:  There are four things that are small but unusually wise:  The ants are not a strong people, but they prepare their food in the summer. (NASB)

This week, after reading these references I did a quick study on ants, nothing very in depth but enough to show me still more the great knowledge that Solomon had as a naturalist and how well he had studied the ant.

Ants are social creatures.  Their lives are built on community.  They are industrious indeed and work tirelessly to feed and build the colony.  Ants are farmers and shepherds.  They have 'herd ants' that they shepherd onto plants infested with aphids and they harvest a by product the aphids produce on those plants.  There are even ants whose job is to move aphids from one plant to another so that the harvest can continue.  While ants do have a queen in their mound they are just naturally workers.  The males are drones whose sole job is to feed the queen and insure she lays eggs.  The females are the ones that keep the colony going.  Truly these creatures are fascinating...more so outdoors than within my house mind you!

Proverbs 6 is referring to the lazy fellow, a common enough reference throughout the Bible but especially in Proverbs, now that we're more aware of ants, we might interpret that to read 'woman' or 'female', as well.  I cannot ever be accused of being always busy but I do try to be industrious and get busy doing the work I see that needs to be done.  I find this verse certainly makes a statement for being self-motivated.  John is not much of one for the cracking of a whip over my head, lol.  However, if you read further references to the 'lazy fellow' in Proverbs you'll soon realize that the 'lazy fellow' will never be the one who prospers in any sense of the word.  I think that goes for the 'lazy woman' as well, don't you?

I also find that these verses, along with the description of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 pretty much can go hand in hand with that description.

It was only a short study on ants and just these two verses that spurred it on, but I thought you might be interested to learn about the humble ants as I did.