Sunday, October 13, 2019

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Slowing down to really live

The winds turned cold last week, a much welcomed chill is in the air after a hotter than usual September.  The thick burgundy throw is now draped at the end of the love seat in the Living Room.  Candles have been brought out with the scent of pumpkin and apple and warm spices.  A recipe with apples and maple syrup resides on the front of the frig via a magnet... waiting to be made soon.

It is once again the season for hot tea, hot chocolate, and apple cider in the afternoon and evening... mornings no matter what the season are for coffee.  The Mrs. Beaver tea cosy my friend, Heather, made me is now ready to keep the yellow teapot warm.  The hand made brown pottery mug was brought down from the top shelf of the cabinet where it resides in Spring and Summer, a purchase from when we attended a special anniversary of our favorite historical reenactment.

I took the set of Jesse Stone DVDs that had been a gift from a friend off the shelf, she knew I had set them aside for cold weather watching.   There is just something about the broody Tom Selleck movies that are perfect for long, dark evenings.  I finished watching the equally broody Season 5 of Shetland just last night.  I like having options available for both reading and watching by season.

Something I have learned in sixty-five years of living is that one must set the stage at home for a warm and cozy atmosphere ahead of the need for a thick throw or a fluffy pillow.  Fluffing the nest is something I enjoy.  A talent and  desire that God has given me but that the enemy whispers in my ear, is not a real accomplishment.  Nothing to put a check next to on my To Do list.  Why do I listen to his lies?

I am ready for this brief season, when the air is crisp, the leaves are the color of jewels, and introverts unite in welcoming the perfect weather for staying inside and curling up in a chair with a great book.  There is something about colder days that give us permission to slow down and focus.  (I do realize that our friends south of the equator are in busy Spring mode... been there!) 

I am trying to slow down and appreciate the little things in life.  So often I have been busy when there is no need, going into overdrive to get things accomplished when it isn't necessary, and I find the years have flown by and darn if I can remember most of what happened in times past.  Even those I thought I would never forget. Sometimes I think October is God's way of getting in our face and saying it is okay to walk slowly.

A couple days ago, I was walking down the gravel lane to where our mailbox resides on the county road.   There is one small tree ablaze with color at the moment and as I walked by it, I picked up one of the deep ruby colored leaves that had fallen to the ground.  The beauty of that one simple leaf left me standing for awhile, just looking at how lovely it was.

He puts in our daily path those things that would cause us to slow down and take notice if we but take the time to look.  Sometimes it is a poem, at times it is an object in nature, sometimes a cat wanting to be petted and admired, and sometimes it is a particularly delicious meal.

Recently, I was part of a Messinger conversation going on between my children, my daughter-in-law, and me as they were sharing favorite dishes served in Paris. My daughter's family had enjoyed a trip there last year and now my son and daughter-in-law were taking their much longed for trip to Paris.

The object of the discussion was a bowl of French onion soup.  In a family of foodies, it may as well have been one of the portraits hanging in the Louvre (although they shared memories of that museum's artwork, too).  Their words almost made me want to grab a flight to Paris just for that soup!  (I am happy they get to travel but having always been a terrible traveler... I do not envy their adventures. Just their food.)

I believe there is worship to God even in something so simple as the admiration of a delicious meal. As we take the time to break bread and share food, in this case vicariously.  He could have sustained us with the same manna over and over again.  I like to think He smiles when His children appreciate the wonder of a well made bowl of French onion soup.

I will be filling out next week's planner pages later today.  In them, it would be a good idea to write down the words... slow down.  I need to take notice while the trees are shedding their shades of green to display the splendor of their jewel toned undergarments.  Before falling back to the soil to begin the process of renewal all over again.

There are two times of the year that are to me little windows into the world which is to come.  They are the magical (Narnia magic) week in October when the trees are in full color and that week before Christmas when everything sparkles.  I cannot help but stop and take it all in.

Mentioned in this Blog Post
Jesse Stone The Collection... here.
The movies are available individually and in other groupings, too.
(They are TV movies rated M for Mature Content but it is mostly for violence... they are realistic mysteries... and certain risque references.  Much like the BBC mysteries.)

Shetland Season 5 on DVD... here.
(The poor reviews were not for the Shetland DVD but how on Amazon Video, Britbox first showed only one program each week, I wish they would only review the actual product.)

I LOVE Shetland and I'm thankful for blog readers who told me a Shetland fan would love Vera, too.  You guys were very correct.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate links.

Image:  The Warmth of Autumn by Susan Rios

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Autumn cooking interrupted

If you follow CTB&Me on Instagram, you will have seen this photo of two magazines I bought with cool weather cooking in mind.  I had already purchased items for a recipe from Taste of Home when circumstances changed my plans.  I was working in the Study earlier this week and heard what appeared to be the sound a waterfall under the floor.  Yikes!

I recognized that sound and had my husband immediately turn the water off coming into the house.  The only 1960s era pipe left in the house had cracked.  The house had been power washed earlier in the day so we are not sure if the old pipe could not handle the pressure (the end of the pipe was where the water spout is located outside) or if it was the big change in weather... or both.

Having gone through a few water emergencies now, I went into action and filled the sink with hot sudsy water, brought the two red plastic dishpans in from the garage shelves and filled them with hot water until the water stopped.  I also filled a pitcher with filtered water. 

I must admit, there is something about experience because this water emergency was not as terrible as before.  Those few preparations made with the rest of the water in the pipeline and the water filter made all the difference.  Not that it was easy, one never realizes how much modern plumbing is a gift until they are without it.

The problem was fixed early Friday morning and we are now the proud owners of a brand new pipe and water spout and more importantly... running water. Sigh... this was our third big expenditure for the house in the last couple of months.  But every one of them was necessary for upkeep of the house and property.

You may remember that in my other recent water emergency... insert another sigh... I said what I was reminded of the most is just how much water we use.  One can never store enough water for a long term emergency.  This time, it was only for a few days, we had some stored water in the garage pantry, and we could fill a big bucket with water from our neighbor's house. 

I was reminded that most of stored water we have in the garage pantry is for drinking.  Which is important but so much of the water used is for flushing toilets and other non-drinking needs.  I need to store more gallon size containers of plain old water.  I did have water stored from filling club soda water bottles with tap water after they were emptied.  That helped a lot!

Once again, the two plastic dish pans were indispensable.  I purchased them originally for cleaning garden produce but they work great for what they were originally intended... the washing of dishes.  They are also handy because once that water was no longer clean, it was easy to take the dish pan into the bathroom and pour the water into the back of the toilet.  No water went unused!

Now that I have running water again, I've been doing laundry and cleaning but I'm also going to make one of the Taste of Home Recipes today or tomorrow... the Upside-Dow Apple Bacon Pancake recipe.  Since the ingredients have been purchased already, why wait?  I'm looking forward to trying it, as soon as I saw the ingredients, it sounded so good.  I mean, really... bacon, apples, pancakes???  Yes, it is higher in carbs than I usually have for dinner so I will take extra insulin!

I used to subscribe to Taste of Home and it always has good down-to-earth recipes in it.  However, my first love in cooking magazines is Where Women Cook, which is published quarterly.  This was always a good magazine but when they changed publishers a year or two ago, it went up another level.  Like Where Women Create and its' other sister magazines, it contains stories of different people and in this title, they share their favorite recipes.

I've been looking forward to this Holiday issue since they previewed the cover on Instagram a couple months ago. I've quickly perused it but I've been too busy with change of season (and no running water) activities that I haven't had an opportunity to choose recipes to try from it.   

Taste of Home is available at just about any grocery store.  Where Women Cook is available at Barnes & Noble and some grocery stores (and at their website online).

Everything is almost back to normal as far as cooking and housework.  I admit, sometimes I think living in simpler times would be lovely but it doesn't take much to realize how much I appreciate today's labor saving devices!

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Book Talk

Today I'm making a bit of a switch and talking movies instead of books!

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to watch an old favorite movie called Three Coins in the Fountain.  It was made in 1954 and I was thinking while watching it that a movie like it could never be made again.  Society has changed too much, I'm sure young people don't have a clue to the plot line.

I thought this the most romantic movie ever made when I saw it as a teenager.  It is about three American women who share an apartment in Rome.  So much is different now, for one thing... Americans can no longer depend on the strength of the dollar to make living there cheap.  Bosses can no longer tell their staff who they may and may not date. 

Although, visitors still throw pennies (or whatever else change they may have) in the Trevi Fountain and make a wish.  I know because my daughter did this very thing when her family visited Rome and made certain I knew about it.  She knows how much I love that movie.

So it got me to thinking... what other movies could not be made today because the cultural has changed so much.  I looked through the DVDs I own of older movies and came up with a few.  I love all these movies so I would recommend any of them with one caveat... these movies from the 60s were far more innocent than movies today but some have what I call... "wink wink" suggestive humor. 

Here is a list of some of the other movies I own.  I would love to hear movies from the 50s, 60s, etc. that you think could not be made today.

I thoroughly enjoy John Wayne movies, especially those that are not Westerns.  Hatari was filmed in what is now Tanzania and is about a group of men, one woman, and a female photographer who catch wild animals for zoos.

So right away you know that would not be politically correct today!  Not to mention that everyone in the film smokes like a chimney.  But this was the early 1960s when smoking was still considered tres chic.

If you like closely structured screen plays, this is not your movie.  Due to the nature of filming, some of the lines were made up as they went, especially in action scenes.  Also, the action scenes (which were very dangerous), were performed by the actors themselves.

But it is a fun romp through African scenery with lots of action and a couple very innocent love stories.  It would be SO different today.  It is a movie men will love as well as women.

Man's Favorite Sport
When people asked for a list of my favorite movies in my 20s and 30s, this film would always be in the list.  It stars Rock Hudson and Paula Prentiss about a man who is sells fishing equipment and has written a best selling book about fishing... but it turns out has never really fished.

Everything he has written that has helped many people be successful fishermen, he took from what customers had told him through the years.  One day his world changes when Paul Prentiss has his boss, who is unaware he has never actually gone fishing, force him to take part in a fishing tournament.

This is a true romantic comedy and sometimes the conversation can be on the risque and suggestive side but otherwise, it has no scenes one would find today. This is another romantic comedy men can appreciate.

Father Goose
In this movie, Cary Grant plays a man who lives alone on an island with his booze and no responsibilities until he is drafted into service (of sorts) by the Allies in WWII to watch for enemy ships and planes.

In a series of plot twists, he ends up saving a very prim young teacher (played by the lovely Leslie Caron) and her female students and has to take them back to his island until they can be rescued.  All kinds of adventures occur before they can be rescued and in true 1960s romance scripts... the quite older Grant and the young Caron fall in love.

This is the kind of comedy that showed movie goers Cary Grant could be slapstick funny at times.  This movie couldn't be made today for many reasons.  I think it is too far past WWII for some people to even get the plot.  People are too world wise to think Caron could cure his drinking in just weeks.  Most movie makers now would make the relationship far less innocent than it was in the early 1960s.

The Moon Spinners
This is one of the adventure movies Haley Mills made as a teenager.  She plays a very young woman who travels to Crete with her aunt.  There she finds romance, danger, and international intrigue.

This was a big change from earlier Haley Mills movies and I remember watching it in the theater thinking it was amazing.  The script still keeps me interested throughout and the scenery is beautiful.

This movie could be made today but it would have a completely different look and feel to it.  Which would make me sad because it is the innocence of the Haley Mills character amidst the international intrigue that makes it such a good movie.

I enjoyed most of Haley Mills movies back then.  Disney did a good job of giving her roles to play as she grew out of the childhood stories, knowing many of her fans would be getting a little older at the same time (like me!).

If you have any suggestions of good movies from the 1950s and 1960s, I would love to hear them in Comments.  They don't have to be romantic comedies.

Mentioned in this Blog Post
Three Coins in the Fountain... here.
Hatari... here.
Man's Favorite Sport... here.
Father Goose... here.
The Moon Spinners... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate links.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Sunday Afternoon Tea - New Mercies

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV

 In the early days of this blog, I wrote once in awhile about the short season of time I spent living next to a pond.  The year long experience was still fresh in my mind back then.  I would sit on the cement stairs leading from the house to the pond, my Bible often opened to the book of Psalms. I would often pray while gazing at the water and the nature which would visit off and on.

When the weather was particularly beautiful, I would drive the few miles to Lake Michigan, sometimes hiking through nearby woods with my young son before sitting on a quilt covering the sandy beach, enjoying a simple picnic.  There was something about the vastness of that inland sea that would bring calm to a troubled soul.

The year at the pond was during a time when there was one heart wrenching trial after another.  It had begun a couple years earlier and would continue for awhile after we moved back home.  The end of that particular season of trials occurred when my husband went on Disability and we purchased the house where we now reside.

What I remember most about that year by the pond was that I was forced to live one day at a time.  I had no idea where we were going, how long we would have to live there, or what the future held.  It was the year with little and then no income, when God taught me about the need for simple blind faith, that He had a plan for us, and that He could be trusted.

It was a season of increasing faith, perhaps not in a way that I appreciated at the time but definitely a gift from God.  My son, at his homeschool high school graduation, spoke of the miracle that occurred when we were leaving that house to move back home. 

We had taken one step at a time as God provided and we made the preparations to move back to my hometown.  We actually did not have the gas money to get all the way back to our destination, much less to purchase anything to eat.  Our short term plans were to spend a few nights at a friend's house while they were on vacation and take our furniture to a storage unit that we had rented for one week.

Our next door neighbor at the pond was a "biker dude" and just as we were pulling out with the car (my husband was driving the large U-Haul behind us), our neighbor ran up to the car and tapped on the window.  He gave me a hundred dollar bill and said he had been thinking of us and wanted to give us a gift.  Our neighbor had no idea we did not have any money.  That was just enough to cover our expenses on the way home.

I always get a chuckle when... through the years... people have said they wished they had the kind of faith in God that I have.  I assure them that they may want to be careful what they ask for as that kind of faith only comes from the fires of adversity.  He has always provided, although usually in a way I didn't expect and His timing was far later than I would have wished when going through the trial. 

It has now been about a month since my husband's nearly week long stay in the hospital and there have been challenges.  But I have taken my thoughts captive (as the Bible says) as much as possible... and they are not allowed to go down the "what if" road for long.

I have also been reminded once again of what each day is like when the future is uncertain.  I can't tell you how many times when I'm falling asleep at night that I begin to feel anxiety but once I place my mind on God rather than the problem... there is overwhelming peace.

Even after a challenging day, I can awaken the next morning with hope for the future.  Like that year by the pond, I am living proof that his mercies are new every morning.  It is not just a Bible verse to memorize for hard times.  It is Truth.

In the meantime, the temperatures have finally cooled and it is looking more like Fall everyday.  What a gift!  My favorite season of the year.  The warm weather clothes are now in the back of the closet, the long sleeve tops are where they can be easily reached each morning.

My old and much beloved red flannel robe is hanging on the hook behind the bedroom door.  Purchased at the grocery store last week were ingredients for the making of chicken soup and oven baked beef stew.  There is something about Fall that draws me closer to God and I know that His mercies are new every morning... and every new season.

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - A quick answer about stock up day lists

I had planned to go into a little more detail in responding to a question about how I do my stock up shopping once a month and how making lists helps to organize my pantry shopping.  However, I was away from home far longer than I had planned today but at least it should keep me from getting too wordy!  ;)

As I have mentioned before, I do a once a month stock up shopping day at both Aldi and Meijers (A Midwestern chain).  I purchase most of the meat I will use for recipes at that time, buying what I can find on sale, and then working recipes around them.  I can also purchase most frozen items, canned goods, and non-food items at that time, too.

Then during the next weeks, I purchase some fresh produce and anything I need for a recipe that is not in my pantry, frig, or freezer.  I don't have a very big refrigerator so I can't store much in the way of produce that needs to be refrigerated for long.

I use a long, narrow, lined note pad that has a magnet on the back so it can stay on the refrigerator all the time.  During the month, I write on it a list of items that I need to purchase on stock up day that I don't purchase often (like a spice, vanilla extract, silver polish, etc.) or anything else that comes up to purchase the next stock up day.

Then, I remove that page from the tablet and start a new list (on a fresh page) to take with me to the grocery store.  Making this list goes quickly because I keep every grocery list from stock up day in a business size envelope in the in-basket on my desk.  I can look through months worth of grocery lists within minutes and write down what I purchase most often.

In addition to listing items from former grocery lists, I add any items from the page I've had on the refrigerator all month.  This is the list I take with me to do my grocery shopping.  By using the same long, narrow, lined note pad each time (or something similar in size when that runs out), then it is easy to keep each list all together to look at each month.

I should say that it usually works out that my Meijers list can go on the lined side of the paper while the shorter Aldi list goes on the other side.  This makes it simpler to use while shopping. Sometimes, especially during the Holidays or when I am cooking for company, the Meijers list spills onto the "Aldi side".

I now have been doing this long enough that I have lists from last Thanksgiving and Christmas in the envelope.  This works because I do the majority of my shopping in the same two stores for stock up day.  Then in addition, I may go to Kroger during the week for just a few of their store brand items.

I keep another list in the in-basket on my desk, usually at the bottom of the in-basket where I keep items permanently.  This is a list on notebook paper of my priorities to purchase if I needed to stock up at the last minute should there be a winter storm warning, a national emergency, etc.  I have not had to use it for a national emergency but I have for winter storm warnings many times.

I got the idea for keeping such a list from a book I've mentioned before that I read in the 1970s (How to Prosper During the Coming Bad Years), from the section where the author shared about The Cuban Missile Crisis.  I decided to permanently keep such a list after going to the grocery store before a winter storm more than once and bringing home items that were not a priority... while forgetting others that were.

I hope this answers the question I was asked!  These lists keep me on track, not only for my regular food budget but to see what I need for the pantry.

Image:  Cookbook and Apples poster

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Our part in the culture wars

For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
Esther 4:14 ESV

Long ago and what seems to be another lifetime, I worked in Organization Development and thought a lot about Corporate Culture.  What was most interesting about that time is seeing a change in the culture of the corporation where I worked within only a few years.

We knew that most change in corporations begins at the top of the bar charts and it was no different there.  I started working there not too long after the son took over his father's role as president of the company, which had begun as a hobby and became a multi-national corporation.  It was just on the verge of going international when I left.

I recall working late one evening and the president of the company, who knew me by name, remarked that he hoped I was going home soon.  He didn't want me to spend extra time in the evenings having to work.  Go forward just a couple of years and one of the new vice presidents stood by me as I was looking out at the parking lot watching people leave work at 5:00.  He looked over at me and said something on the order that they were slackers for leaving on time and those of us willing to work long hours were responsible for the success of the company.

What happened in that short time?  Because of the fast growth rate of the company, many East Coast vice presidents had been hired and even though we had the same president... their influence completely changed the culture of the company.  No longer was it a joy to work there as it had been previously.

I should add that the reason I worked late at times was that I was either wrapping up an important project or I was facilitating a second shift group in a problem solving meeting.  I didn't work late all that often.

This trip down memory lane came about when I was reading a statement made by a Christian leader this week (I'm sorry that I don't recall who it was, not one of the people usually on my radar).  He made news by saying that the decision to begin impeachment proceedings of our president was no less the first shot in a new civil war than "the shot heard around the world" in the battles of Lexington and Concord in the American Revolution.

Although I don't watch the national news very often, I get enough updates and alerts to be aware of what is going on in the world.  Living in the United States, I am most aware of the cultural situation here.  However, I find it quite interesting that Great Britain and Israel are also going through similar political situations.

Of course, the Bible talks about what this world will be like before the return of Christ in many places.  I was thinking of Romans 1 recently and it is like reading today's headlines.  No one can say the culture is what it was not that long ago!

I don't talk about politics very much here but I do want to speak about the culture in which we live.  If you are over fifty, it is a different world than you ever thought possible (Bible prophecy or not).  If you are over forty, you can still remember when the culture was not quite so crazy.  For young people less than twenty-five or so... they most likely think what the world is like today has always been this way.

How did the change happen?  It seems like overnight the world went crazy.  But I know it was slowly but surely occurring in my lifetime.  I have written before about a situation comedy that was cancelled in the 1970s because the audience was appalled the man and woman were living together without being married.  That wasn't all that long ago but think of how each season television, the movies, and various media pushed the envelope just a little bit more each year until now pretty much anything goes, even in Primetime TV.

The real question I have been pondering is this... what does God want me to do in light of the change in culture?  I have been on the front lines of the "culture war" before and I can say without a doubt that it is a calling and not something to do just because you have an interest.

If you ever doubt such a thing as spiritual warfare, get in the front lines of the culture war.  I worked with such organizations as Concerned Women for America, a political party, and other less well known organizations.  I put that behind me, while still keeping a keen interest in the culture wars, after my son was born when I was in my mid-30s.

You can be on the front lines of the culture wars having no interest in politics, though.  I think of my friend, Sally Clarkson, as she continues to write books and give talks about the importance of raising our children to love Christ and be a Christian influence.  She is eleven months older than me and I am always amazed at the amount of energy she still has... God given energy for the purpose she and Clay were called.

That also takes me to the lesson God is teaching me about affecting the culture at my age and within my realm of influence.  These days I feel that my main purpose is to encourage my blog friends that they are not alone... you are not alone... as the media in its' various forms tries to portray Christians in general and conservative Christians in particular as being either stupid or evil.

One of the main ways the enemy of our soul... who is called the father of lies... works is to make us think we are all alone.  Everyone else is doing or thinking or reading or watching or going along with, etc.  What is wrong with you?  With us?

What was once looked upon as quaint and outdated thinking by those who do not hold the same Biblical values is now called out as hate and racist and evil.  Of course, it isn't a new trademark of the enemy.  Think of Isaiah 5:20 "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!"

Here is what I want you to know... you are not alone.  There is a large remnant of true believers who stand with the Word of God and walk bravely through the times in which we live.  Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ in other parts of the world risk their lives to stand for Christ.  Will there come a day when those of us in Western Society risk our lives?  I don't know but it would not surprise me.

Here is what I believe God has asked me to do as a wife, mother, grandmother, and friend... love people, pray for those on my prayer list, and hold fast to the Truth. I pray each and every day my family and I walk in discernment.  That we know God's Truth and recognize when that which looks like truth is actually deception.

I have good friends and family who do not believe as I do.  That's okay. I have a long time friend who has been kinder to my family than anyone I know who believes Bernie should be the next president.  I have a much cared for extended family member whose significant other is of the same sex.  I have family who love Jesus and those who... don't.   

God has us here where we live, in this particular moment of time, for a purpose.  It is not an accident you live where you do.  It was not just circumstances that caused you to have the same check out guy at Aldi each time, the one with the purple hair and nose ring.

It wasn't by chance you have to go to a particular specialist or have an office next to a person very different than you.  Do you think God was surprised when your illness brought you into contact with people who do not know His love?

What God has shown me and I know in my heart is this... yes, we may be near another civil war.  Only a third Great Awakening can possibly change the hearts of men and women who have turned so cold to His ways... and some of those are in the Church.

However, what you and I can do every day is to ask Him how we can be salt and light and love to those we come in contact with.  We are His ambassadors as we walk through this world.  We do not want to be too salty but you know... a pinch here and there is a good thing.  But never more salt than love unless God specifically has you ministering to a person who needs a salty dose of Truth.

None of us walk perfectly before Him and as the Word says, all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.  If you still have breath within you, then you have not turned too far away from God.   Perhaps you are the person who needs His compassion?  Maybe you need to forgive yourself?  He knows all about it.

There are people that God has called to be at the front line of the culture wars.  I admire their spunk and at times am amazed at their eloquence.  Having said that... I am now of an age when my part in the culture war is to show kindness to the kid with the purple hair and love those who think differently than I do (while praying for them, too) and yes... I do have the spiritual gift of cookies.  Ask my family.  Homemade cookies go a long way to bringing people together.

Don't despair, my friends.  You are all here "for such a time as this".  Ask God and He will give you wisdom, discernment, and compassion.