Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Milk Bar Life, a review


If you weren't familiar with Christina Tosi before, you may be enjoying her work as a judge on MasterChef this season.  I enjoy the sparkle she adds to the show (no offense to the men, however).

Christina is a James Beard award winner for Best Pastry Chef as well as the co-founder and owner of the Momofuku Milk Bar, which is known for rather unusual offerings.  So I wasn't too sure what to think of this cookbook as I'm not known for edgy baking.  But given that I enjoy her work on MasterChef, I was curious enough to agree to review the new cookbook.

That was one of the best decisions I've made in awhile!  What an amazing cookbook.  It truly is like an amusement park for cooks and bakers.  From the first section that contains recipes many home cooks will recognize from their childhood, made with very familiar ingredients.  To the edgy "out of the box" recipes Tosi is known for.  There is something for everyone in this cookbook.

It is also the kind of cookbook I enjoy reading, curled up on the sofa with a cup of herbal tea (okay, tisane) in the evening when I need an escape.  The photos are interesting, both of the food and the people.  Each section includes stories and the recipes have a background of their own to tell.  The font is easy to read and the recipes easy to follow.

However, this is not a cookbook I'll read and then place on the shelf.  I already have numerous recipes marked to try soon.  There are recipes for the home cook with just a little experience all the way to cooks who like a challenge.  There are plenty of pastry recipes as you would expect but enough savory offerings to keep you busy for quite awhile.

The book is divided up by Tosi's days and well... lifetime.  Sections include:
  • Hand-Me-Downs (growing up recipes)
  • A Cookie a Day...
  • Supermarket
  • We are Family
  • Weak Nights
  • Freakin' Weekend
  • Cookout/Bonfire
  • Craft Night/Sleepover
  • Going Out
  • and more...

I highly recommend this cookbook and don't let the amount of one star reviews scare you away.  For the most part, they are all people who thought her last book full of edgy, quirky, out-of-the box recipes was far better than this one.   I would say the average home cook would much (and I mean much more) prefer this one.

This book was provided by Blogging For Books but the opinion is my own.

Further information can be found... here.*

*Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Tea - The Story you will tell in Eternity

"... Who comforts us in all our troubles,
so that we can comfort those in any trouble
with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." 
2 Corinthians 1:4 NIV


Last weekend I was working in the kitchen, the usual making and baking and washing up, when my husband would peek his head around the corner to update me on the progress of the U. S. Open golf tournament.

Now you must understand, golf is probably my least favorite sport to watch on television.  Not to mention in person.  But this year's U. S. Open had a story I was following, to be more precise... a golfer I was following.

For one of the stories of the weekend was a golfer who suffers from vertigo off and on and had an attack during the tournament.  What I found quite amazing was his determination to continue through until the end of the tournament. He actually stayed among the leaders for a long time, eventually finishing "even" which meant he did not win... but he finished!

Why my interest?  Well, you may remember when I was hit out of the blue (in the middle of the night!) with a severe case of vertigo.  It was the worse thing I ever experienced.  It was scary.  It brought constant nausea.  My neighbor still believes (I presume) I was tipsy that summer because I fell over in the garden more than once!

I had experienced minor bouts of vertigo, as had my mother throughout the years.  But nothing like the life shattering symptoms severe vertigo brings about. The vertigo lasted most of the summer and then life returned somewhat to normal.

Although it never went completely away.  A week or two ago I didn't think and rolled my head back to turn out the sofa lamp behind me.  Oh, my.  Wrong decision! Just the turn of the head the wrong way caused the room to start swimming.  Like the golfer at the U.S. Open, I keep medication on hand to take when those first symptoms appear.  (My vertigo is believed to be a result of liquid building in the inner ear as a result of sinus infections.)

You see, I became interested in that golfer because I knew what he was experiencing.  I could be amazed that he would continue the tournament because I knew what it was like to walk with severe vertigo, much less swing a golf club!  He had my sympathy but also my empathy.  I had experienced the same symptoms he was, even if they were not on a golf course. 

When I was suffering with vertigo, I found empathy in the life story of Laura Hillenbrand, the author of Seabiscuit and Unbroken.  Laura has suffered from extreme vertigo for decades and while it makes it difficult for her to leave her house, she has written two bestselling books!  Her story encourages many people who go through adversity.

As you also may remember, I think that term about making your mess your message is a bit overused these days.  But for good reason.  It has a lot of Truth to it.  Godly principles to live by.  God's Truth in a cute soundbite.

For I am convinced God allows the trials we face in life for a reason.  A specific reason.  An individual reason.  They bring with them the road map of our destiny.  His answer to the big questions like, "What am I here for?" and "What is my life purpose?".

I would say, should you ask yourself those questions... "What have you suffered?".

God never wastes a trial.  Never.  Ever.  It is true that we live in a fallen world and that we as Christians experience the results of the Fall.  It is true that bad things happen to good people.  If we live long enough, we experience the bad stuff life has to offer.

However... and that is one big "HOWEVER", God truly does have a plan for our life.  In his, oh... Godly way... He allows certain trials in each life.  He knows it all, the beginning from the end, you know.  When you are in the midst of a crisis, you don't think anything good can ever come from it.  Especially when said crisis stays with you every single day of your life.

But He knows.  He is not only watching from afar but He is right there in you and by you and around you each step of the journey by way of the Holy Spirit and His angels.  It's just that... on this side of Eternity we really don't get it at all most of the time.  Romans 8:28 seems like a joke, I mean really God... you are going to turn this into something good?

Uh, huh.  He sure is and not only is He and will He but someday in Eternity we will get a clear view.  He is going to use those trials you have experienced throughout life.  That is your message!  That is why Lewis can call suffering "God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world".

Tell your Story.  

For in that story, in those stories, somewhere in the midst of all those tears and all that pain... you have a message that someone else needs to hear.  If nothing else they need to hear that you understand.  You get it.  You've been there.  God is in control even when your life is upside down (uh... literally!).

I love what Corrie Ten Boom shares about the tapestry of our life, how on this side of Eternity we see the ugly knots of the thread and the blackness of the background and how it appears a jumbled up mess.  But the other side?  From Heaven's perspective?  He has woven a beautiful tapestry.

Throughout Eternity I believe each one of us will have a story of how God redeemed the messes... and wove the tears in with the laughter and with the pain and with the joy... and how He embroidered it with glitter and sparkle and redeemed it with His Blood and look at us!  His Bride!

How does the old hymn go, "I love to tell the Story, it will be my theme in Glory!"?  Amen and Amen!

Image:  An April Storm by Robert Duncan

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - My procastination challenge


I'm throwing out my first ever challenge to you all.  The first in nine and a half years of blogging!  So what brought this about?

Well, the idea began when I went to use a block of baking chocolate from the yellow pantry and found the "Use By Date" was... 2012.  I couldn't believe it!  There was no way I had that chocolate in there that long.  But the more I thought about it, I realized I hadn't made a recipe calling for it in quite some time (obviously).

The other part of the challenge came about when I realized it was late on Friday and I still hadn't called to make a dentist appointment.  My physician warned me I needed to have a tooth that had broken pulled... last August.  I thought about it when it was hurting but then forgot until that area started getting a little tender again.

I think procrastination is something we all deal with but when you don't feel very good most of the time, it can become a real obstacle one needs to overcome.   At least it is in this household.

Don't get me wrong, I do get an amazing amount of things accomplished considering the challenges and all.  But honestly, some of the things I've put off until they become emergency status would only take a few minutes to do. 

Remember I told you I recently updated my address book?  That only took me a half an hour and I've been putting it off for over a year.  The only reason I did it at the time was because my husband was going over the American Legion books with a friend and I stayed out of their way in the Study for half an hour (his poor health has caused him to give up being their Treasurer).

So... here is my challenge to you should you want to take it up with me.  I'll report back to you next Saturday what I accomplished.

FIRST... choose at least two or three things you have been putting off that you know will take less than a half an hour to accomplish. 

For me all of these have to do with telephone calls (I hate talking on the telephone!). 

SECOND... choose one large project you have been putting off and then break it down into do-able sections.  

For me that large project is cleaning and organizing the garage.  That encompasses a lot of smaller projects so the first activity is to DEFROST THE DEEP FREEZE!  It is almost empty so this is the time to do it.

We've been having to use up what is in the pantry instead of adding to it lately.  So I've learned a lot (all over again) about what is essential and what I don't use even if my grocery budget is very small.  It is a perfect time to put organizing the pantry on the list albeit not the highest priority.  Keeping the garden alive with all the rain and storms is the main "pantry priority" now.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

My World this Week


I really do plan to write more during the week but summer has other plans.  Can you believe it is almost July?  It has been so wet this year that the woods near us look like a rain forest.  I've never seen it quite so thick.  Bigfoot could be there and one wouldn't see him.  Her?

So today I am going to follow my own advice that it doesn't have to be perfect, good enough is well... good enough.  Here is a quick as a bunny My World post. 

Speaking of Bigfoot and all... I'm enjoying the new season of Finding Bigfoot.  Yeah, I know.  My family doesn't understand my love for the show, either.

Watching
New Season on Animal Planet...  :)

Reading

I'm thoroughly enjoying this* book which is one of the Kindle reads I'm making my way through.  I'm only half way through it but it is good summer reading so far. 

It is the first book about prayer where I've found myself laughing out loud!

Tea Time

We love the lemon "crazy cake" recipe from this website.  I've made the chocolate version since I can remember, it is one of Christopher's favorite cakes.  But my husband loves "all things lemon". 

This recipe is great with an easy lemon frosting added.  I make the original recipe as it makes a small cake just right for my family but you can double it for a 9 x 13 pan.

Baking

I tried a new lemon bar recipe for Father's Day from this* cookbook.  Oh, my.  It is the best recipe ever!  I found my copy at Goodwill during the winter.

If you remember, I wanted to be a pastry chef at one time before illness prevailed.  But I still bake once in awhile.  And my husband loves it, as do my neighbors.  It is also much better for a person who has to count carbs to have something worth cheating on once in awhile.  ;)

Creating

Stephanie gave me this gorgeous paper when I visited New England a few weeks ago.  I put it in this large frame (which was originally from a thrift shop long ago), and there was enough left over for a couple cards and a scrapbook journal page.

Her Fluffiness

Yes, that is a Maine Coon lump of kitty in the chair snoozing.  This is where she has pretty much lived since it got hot and humid.  It is the only room where we keep a window open for her.  That is because it is my Study.  I spoil her. 

She does still jump on the desk when I'm working.  There are no photos this time but trust me, the cat hair on everything I'm doing is proof.

*All links to Amazon.com are Associate links.  Should you purchase anything when you begin your Amazon shopping by clicking on any item in the widget or by clicking on a link, then I receive a very small percentage.  It doesn't cost either of us anything (but time!).  Thank you very much for it all adds up.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Why God does not call us to do great things.

Samwise, who helped his friend who was called to do great things.

I caught a few minutes of a youth conference being shown on one of the Christian networks on TV this past week.  Just enough to hear the speaker telling the young people that God wants them to do "great works" for Him.  They were to take the world for Christ.  I remember hearing the same thing at that age and just as the thousands of young people at that conference were doing, we shouted amen and hallelujah!

Great words.  Even better soundbite. But is it true?  An easy answer to that is... no.  

Oh, for a few there will be a world wide ministry.  Some handle it well, like Billy Graham.  Most do not.  I was reading not too long ago about a well known evangelist whose family life was a wreck.  As his fame increased, so did the expectations of the family for people to treat them like kings and queens. His oldest child went on to reject Christ and eventually took his own life after years of disillusionment.  The entire family did not handle fame and fortune well.

My husband and I were talking about friends of ours recently. The couple were our best friends in our early married years.  We attended the same weekly Bible study and prayer meeting.  We were there when their younger children were born and they sat with us at church and cried with us when our firstborn died after birth. 

They were good people with one (what we thought minor) flaw.  They constantly talked about doing great things for God.  They were convinced God called them to a worldwide ministry.  It wasn't until much later when we realized they never talked about their relationship to the Lord or their love for Him.  It was always focused on "their ministry".  We moved away after my husband finished graduate school and we eventually lost touch with each other except for annual Christmas Cards.

We would hear about them from mutual friends, how they went from one church to another.  Getting involved and then leaving when they could not be among the upper leadership of the church.  This went on for a very, very long time.  Eventually we moved back to the area and we visited them one day.  We were quite shocked to find three of their kids had completely rejected the Faith and the youngest was "iffy". 

What I remember from that visit most was how downtrodden our friends were.  Unhappy.  Empty.  We reached out to renew our friendship but they weren't interested for our theology was no longer what they followed.  We at times spoke Truth and did not give a "good confession".  We had fairly serious health problems, obviously because we lost our "good confession".  Sigh...

A couple years ago, my husband was skimming Christopher's copy of the University's Alumnus magazine and there... in the obituary section... was the name of the husband.  We were shocked for we hadn't heard a thing about his death.  We asked around and all we could learn was that it had been a suicide.  So terrible that those who knew the details didn't want to talk about it.  He never did the great things for God as he was promised.

In some ways, this is human nature.  For instance, there are millions of bloggers but a handful get the book deals and fame so other bloggers feel they are failures.  They forget they started out just to write or share photos or wax poetic about beautiful things.  They put their focus on the glitzy and glamorous blogs with thousands upon thousands of Followers so they become discouraged and write less and don't share much and eventually they just stop.  Because others did "great things" for God and in their mind they felt... insignificant.

I love this quote from Mother Theresa, "Be faithful in small things for it is in them your strength lies".  She also said, "Not all of us can do great things.  But we can all do small things with great love."

I truly believe God calls us on a journey that is our life.  How he judges us is how we live that life.  Our life.  His calling for us.  For you.  For me.  And contrary to what we were once told, we are not all called to do great things for Him.  We were called to live ordinary lives and be His hands and His voice and His feet and show His love to those He chooses to bring our way. 

We were told to talk to Him and walk with Him and read His Word and fellowship with Him.  Not to do great things for Him.  But to know Him.  That is what He desires from us and if instead we put the works of doing great things before knowing Him, then we are on shaky ground.

So if today you are discouraged because you did not win the world for Christ, that is okay.  Really.  Honest.  Read a Bible story to your child, bake homemade cookies to take to the office, make soup for your friend who is sick and tell them you are praying for them, write a letter to a lonely friend, invite the elderly neighbor to dinner... for they are your world.

As for me, today is Father's Day and my husband is still quite ill.  Finances are tight so I'm having boxed mac & cheese for dinner.  But I remembered I had lemons in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator and butter in the freezer.  So I made lemon bars, his very favorite dessert, for Father's Day.  Insignificant?  I don't think so, not in God's economy.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - What money can't buy

No, we have not put new garden fabric between the rows.  Yes, those are weeds breaking through...

I've had quite a few blog friends ask how I come up with new weekend posts each week.  Every week.  Well, no one is more surprised than I am but each week (with the exception of blog breaks) I tend to see something that sparks a post or I hear something or I do something... so far.  Should that stop then I know it is time to stop blogging!

This past week two things happened within the same few days.  The first was working in my garden and hoping the chard will survive and flourish in spite of being drowned greens at the moment.  The second was an advertisement about garden seeds packaged for long term storage.

The seeds are a good idea, all heirloom seeds so one can save the seeds from this year's "crop" and use them in subsequent years.  Having them in containers which provide an extremely long shelf life is a good idea.  But putting them on the shelf in case they are ever needed, well... that might not be such a good idea.

It all gets back to this.  What I've gone on about ad nauseam.  Just buying stuff and putting it on a shelf does not equal being prepared.  Oh, some things like perhaps banana chips work just fine without any experience.  And powdered milk packed for long term storage.  And you know how I wished I'd stocked up on powdered eggs!

Stocking up is a very good thing.  Sometimes.

For you see, if you think having packages of garden seeds on your shelves will provide food for the family, it just may be money tossed in the trash.  Unless along with the seeds, you have been gaining gardening experience through the years.

What can't money buy?  Experience!

You have to DO SOMETHING.  You can't store flour or wheat and then hope you know how to make bread should it be necessary.  (Much less grinding wheat if you don't also have a grain grinder.)  You cannot subsist entirely on Hamburger Helper and think you will learn to cook real food should it be necessary.   

I wondered where people who stored the seeds were going to plant them if it were necessary to grow their own food?  In the lawn?  Assuming the planting of the emergency seeds meant a true emergency, would there be time and money available to build raised beds, or dig up the lawn, and add a fence to protect them?  How about the soil?  What will it grow?  Is there enough direct sunshine in at least part of the garden?

Experience is just as important as stocking up!  My husband was told by an acquaintance that grows his food way out in the country (we can at least see neighbors around us) that he has never ever needed a fence around his garden plot.  He actually made fun of us because we thought a fence important.  When a critter got into the garden before we could finish rebuilding our fence, we thought of this guy and his scoffing!   If we did not garden already, we may have believed him.

I know from experience that tomatoes do not grow directly from a seed planted in my garden!  Perhaps my soil is wrong or the growing season too short or whatever.  I have to start the seeds inside first and that hasn't gone all that great since I don't have the proper lighting set up (and living within a forested area means no sunny windows!).

Not to mention... I haven't had much luck with even tomato plants in the raised beds so this year we experimented with growing larger tomatoes outside of the box fence.  Directly in soil where the sod has been removed and the soil amended and fertilized.  There has been time for trial and error and replanting in various spots each year.

When I started gardening, I didn't know the difference between bush beans and pole beans.  It was on another gardener's recommendation that I came to realize both were important to grow each summer.  It was through experience that I learned you have to thin out the pole beans especially or you get a lot of vine and less beans (and I think garden spiders hid within and bit me last year).

So it gets down to this once again.  Having a pantry is essential.  Deepening that pantry is a good idea.  But at the ground level there is that important item you cannot buy and place on a shelf.  You need to gain experience using some items you stock for emergencies. 

You need to learn to make your own bread even if you don't on a regular basis.  You need to at least garden just a little if you store seeds.  You need to know how to use a First Aid kit.  Learning can be fun as well as tasty (well, not bandages but bread).

Ummm... I do hope people who are depending on the heirloom seeds for future gardens have also had experience with seed saving.  Just saying.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Garden Photos Late Spring

Apple Mint

Sorry about the lack of posting lately but as with so many of us who live north of the equator... it is full scale outdoor life this time of the year!

We've been experiencing heavy rain and flooding about the last week and a half.  Now the remnants of Tropical Storm Bill have caused concerns but so far it looks like we are far enough north to miss the heaviest downpours.   We will receive rain from the system but not like the southern part of the state.  The forecast is for hot and dry starting around Monday.  The garden can use hot and dry!

I've been able to do some weeding and hoeing and such when an opportunity presents itself.  Not to mention taking some photos earlier this week in between rain showers.  So without further chatting... here is my garden at the moment.

The apple mint has to be cut back completely due to heavy rains bringing on disease.  :(
Lovage, lemon thyme, parsley, and basil.  I may squeeze another basil plant and another parsley in there.  I got smart this year and put a tomato case over the lovage when it first came up!  It survived the brutally cold winter.
Bush beans
Pole beans
Summer squash and one cherry tomato plant
Summer squash getting a close up view
Swiss chard in trouble from heavy rains and an intruder (squirrel?). This part of the garden is shaded.
The kale seems to be fine, though.  It also grows in the shade.
Our "outside the fence" experiment with tomato plants.
One extra cherry tomato plant growing in a large container (yes, I did pour out all that rain water!).

You may have noticed those little yellow thingies all over the place.  We had experienced a big storm the day before and those are "seeds" from a nearby tree.  Once it was dry, they were all hoed up and destroyed.  Yes, the forest is always trying to take back the land!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Printer and The Preacher, a review


I have come to believe that most history geeks, myself included, tend to have a favorite time in history where they like to land for awhile... if not for a lifetime of study.  For me that has been the American Revolution.

Until a few years ago when I became interested in what changed in America which led up to the Revolution... and that began with my study of Jonathan Edwards.  It was in my "Edward's reading", that I learned of the odd friendship between Ben Franklin and George Whitefield. 

Franklin being one of our most famous Deists and Whitfield definitely one of the most famous preachers of the time.  He was THE most famous preacher if one doesn't include Edwards, who history probably views more as a writer and philosopher albeit he was also a pastor.

So it was with great interest that I agreed to review this book, subtitled Ben Franklin, George Whitefield, and the Surprising Friendship that Invented America.  The author, Randy Petersen, does a good job of bringing the reader into the lives of these two men.  We learn of their differences and similarities. 

We read what is going on in both England and America during their lifetime and the affects early religious upbringing has on both men.  The author takes us back to the founding of America for both religious and economic reasons and how this lays a foundation for what will become the Great Awakening.

It doesn't sugarcoat the history of America nor does it make an idol of either these two important men of the time.  America is seen as both a nation founded on the ideals of many Christian denominations (and how those denominational splits affected the founding of the States) as well as a place men came to seek their fortune.  

The book is interesting and informative, although at times a little choppy in the way it is set up.  Once you get past that, it is an easy read.  I would say this is an important addition to the library of any person with an interest in early American history. 

I would especially recommend it for homeschool families studying the American Revolution for there are few books describing the decades leading up to the revolt of the Colonies.  While this is a biography of two men and their friendship, it is provides a good "biography" of the nation in the eighteenth century.

This book was provided by the publisher for the sake of review but the opinion is my own.

Further information can be found on Amazon.com... here.*

*All links to Amazon.com are Associate links.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Life lived slowly and with focus

Close up of a beautiful flower arrangement in South Haven last Summer.

Focus... you may recall that is my "Word" for the year 2015.  I have found choosing one word for each year rather than a list of resolutions has been quite successful.  I pray about the upcoming year months before each ends and every year the "Word" has meant something special.  Often only God would know what it would mean to me.

So I've been attempting to remain more focused this year.  Focusing on living life in such a way that I really truly notice the important things.  The little things that make up my days, which become my years... which turn into a lifetime lived one moment at a time.

I've been thinking about the difference of what life was like a few generations ago to what it is like now.  How living slowly was, well... necessary. The last time my husband and I were at Old Sturbridge Village (a very favorite place of ours) in Massachusetts, we spent more time than usual inside the Sawmill reading the information provided in various parts of the building.

We were surprised to learn (and my husband has a graduate degree in Wood Science) that the work in each sawmill at that time was seasonal. The saw work that had to be done was scheduled by nature alone as the water flowed through the mill when the river was high each year. 

With summer pretty much arriving where I live, a new season has begun.  My life is slow and my borders small.  I came to accept this fact of life long ago as illness progressed (developing the auto immune diseases Type 1 Diabetes and Hashimoto's disease).

Life lived each year.  Every season.  Smaller.  Slower.

I've accepted the fact that it takes weeks to finally get the garden all repaired and the soil ready and the seeds planted and then the veggie starts planted and then weeded... you get the idea.  But it is worth it, even if it is gardening done imperfectly. 

It has all come together to remind me that life can be good even when lived within smaller borders and on a slower schedule than before.  In many ways, it is a blessing.  Once I accepted the limitations at least.  For it forced me to slow down and smell the roses... or in my case, the herb garden.

Instead of flying through dinner preparations as I did when arriving home from work, I enjoy the slicing and chopping of veggies.  I think of cooking as an art and the French chef's knife as much an instrument for making Art as a painter's brush.  Slow living and slow cooking allows such creativity.

A limited income can be frustrating, especially when one must put a bucket in the kitchen where the roof is leaking in heavy storms (we have had storms a lot this spring).  But then again, it forces one to stay home a lot and much like the homemakers before the automobile came along... the making of a home becomes one's canvas for creating.

I am still trying to focus more often, choosing carefully what I allow to fill the time.  I need to be more thoughtful as how I go about my days for they pass so quickly.  Life is, indeed, a vapor as the Word tells us.

Yesterday, I finally got around to updating the address book in my study with addresses from the family address book we keep in the small home office.  After I finished, my husband gave me the two older address books we have used throughout forty years of marriage (I didn't know we still had them!) that were stuffed with old envelopes and notes on paper as well as the names and addresses within.

It isn't often one has their entire married life in their hands, all the relationships that were important enough to write down in one's address book for forty years.  I went through it all and what struck me was how many of these people were no longer with us.  (Which happens when a couple is older and both were born to older parents!).

Not only have so many passed on but there were names of couples no longer married to each other, once close friends we don't know where they now live, and some names I hadn't a clue as to who they were.  A vapor!  Forty years of people and you know how many pages I saved from the books and all the papers?  One. Single. Page.

As I threw the Past into the waste basket, I was more determined to live in the moment more often.  
  • To take time to enjoy people when I am with them.  
  • To write a real letter.  
  • To make a celebration cake and serve it for no reason at all but that it is Today.  
  • To enjoy the process of making a meal instead of throwing it all together as quickly as possible.  
  • To make my time with God a priority instead of squeezing it in between unimportant tasks.
  • To Focus on what is important for Eternity.
  • To enjoy each season as it comes. 
  • To be amazed at how a tiny seed planted in the ground grows into something so big!
  • To pack a picnic and eat by the pond in the park my mother loved so much.

My prayer for you, whether you are entering the heat of summer or the frigid cold of winter... take the time to look for all the good God has provided.  Live as slowly as your circumstances allow.  Don't fall for the world's deceit that busy is better. 

This life may be the dress rehearsal for Heaven... but it is the only one you get.  So slow down and live.  Enjoy the season.  Even if it is hot and there are mosquitoes.  Think of those things you can only do by living slowly within this particular season... then do it.  Enjoy it.  Embrace it.

For before you know, it will be too late and another season will be upon us.  The opportunity that comes with this season will have vanished and I'm certain there are things you wish you took the time to do.  Before you can't.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Ponderings on Bird Flu

Image: Wall Street Journal
I was looking on Amazon recently for the cost of dried eggs.  With all the talk of bird flu and how some states are already limiting how many eggs one can purchase at a time, I thought perhaps using Amazon credit for a small container of dried eggs would be wise.

It would have been before the Bird Flu hit.  For what I found was quite alarming.  What products were still available were now far beyond my limited budget.  I had heard such products had risen in price but it was still a shock.  Although I should not have been surprised, the cost of fresh eggs at the grocery store has gone up a lot.

Would I worry about the bird flu?  I've written before about pandemics and how to prepare for them.  History tells us what would happen in such a case (they have hit and will again, of course).  People are told to stay in their homes and avoid all contact with the outside world.

So, of course, having at least a one month stock of food and essentials would be a very wise thing should that happen.  But that is part of what living a Pantry Lifestyle is all about.  We're the grown up version of the Boy Scout's motto, "Be Prepared".

Am I taking the bird flu seriously?  I'm not losing any sleep but I know those in charge are taking it seriously enough that the local and state 4-H fairs will have only photos of poultry and not the real thing.  Local chicken farmers are doing everything they can to prevent outside contact, including no longer allowing visitors on their farms.

Before you shake your head and think I've gone bonkers (in case you haven't already), let me tell you a story.  Something that happened to me just a few months ago.  You may remember I had to take Victoria to see her veterinarian because she couldn't keep food down for awhile.

She was past due for her checkup so even though she was feeling better, we went ahead and kept the scheduled appointment.  Her doctor heard my explanation of her symptoms and then got a funny look on her face.  She asked if my husband or I had the flu recently.  When I told her I had the worst case of flu I could remember in many years, she nodded her head.

She told me both she and her dad (the original owner of the veterinarian clinic) had been told in vet school that it was impossible for humans and animals to infect each other with illness and disease just by being around each other.  Then the original cases of bird flu started to pop up.  Her dad was still alive at the time and they discussed this new, alarming situation.

He told her he was always skeptical of what he had been taught.  For after decades of practicing medicine on animals, he heard one story after another of a pet that had been brought in with flu symptoms just after their humans had been ill.  So he wasn't all that shocked when he heard the original cases of bird flu.

Of course, diseases such as Ebola and SARS affect people from animal bites (and I believe SARS may also be transferred by eating an animal with the virus it is carrying).  It is believed the HIV virus originated in monkeys (although I haven't followed it recently if that was revised).  So we knew illnesses could be contacted by a bite or ingesting the animal... but just being around the animal?  Not so much until recent history.

So what does this mean to you and to me?  It doesn't hurt to keep an ear to the ground of any local outbreak in poultry.  It obviously means if you have the financial ability to purchase some dried eggs you may want to have some put in your pantry.  Or buy chickens and one of those cute chicken coops and keep them away from other poultry (including birds) if possible.

I also read recently you can freeze eggs in an ice cube tray but I haven't tried it.  I plan to soon so I'll let you know if it works.  I'd love to have have chickens and a cute chicken coop.  I have fond memories of the chickens we kept when I was a little girl.  But not so fond memories of the rooster.  Mean rooster!

But those of us who live a Pantry Lifestyle will usually find a way to handle what nature throws at us.  Whether by stocking up or learning to do without.  Like baking crazy cakes and other recipes from the Depression.  (Crazy cakes are also called Depression cakes or Wacky cakes, my son loves the chocolate version.)  The above link takes you to a website that has a lot of crazy cake varieties.

By the way, I have dozens of Pantry Posts archived from when I was writing those posts.  Before I switched to Living the Pantry Lifestyle, which incorporates more than just the actual pantry.  So if you have a lot of time on your hand, you can start reading... here.  When you reach the bottom, click on Older Posts to continue... and continue... and continue.  ;)