Saturday, April 30, 2016

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Cleaning pantry shelves

While the weather has been cool and mostly damp this week, I turned my attention to cleaning the shelves in the garage. 

I mentioned already that I was working on the "craft supplies/seasonal decoration" shelves this spring.  I'm happy to say they are now organized with no craft supplies at all on them.  I didn't have many craft items left, anyway, since I'd either moved everything to the Study or passed on what I didn't use.

Four boxes of seasonal decorations and a few craft supplies were dropped off at Goodwill this week.  I usually give charity items to the thrift store that supports the homeless shelter but this time I had a box of jars and I know people shop at Goodwill for them.  They are mostly what our honey came in from the Farmer's Market (not Ball jars).

There is now only one shelf that contains seasonal non-Christmas decorations and that is the top shelf of the unit.  It holds my Autumnal silk flower arrangements and a couple Christmas arrangements.  That opened two big shelves to transfer small appliances, my big stock pot, and a Sterilite container (which I already owned) to contain extra plastic cups and paper plates... keeping them from tiny critters.

I was very pleased that the organizing then opened shelves for holding canned goods and such.  Without spending any money on new shelves, I had extra room!  Getting rid of things you were holding onto way too long is a good thing.  I don't decorate seasonally like I did in the past.

My pantry shelves that I go to all the time are next to the door which goes into our family room.  That makes it easy to get the extra bottle of oil or box of sea salt when I need them while cooking.  Next to those shelves are my extra cans of veggies, salmon, etc.  After decluttering my everyday pantry shelves, attention was turned to the extra canned goods.

I don't have a lot of extra cans of those things I use often, not nearly as much as I'd like to.  But I do have extra canned green beans and corn.  Hubby brought them home from food pantries when he used to go to them and I just didn't use them very often.  But my friend, Holly Deyo, says canned veggies are good for years and years so I figure even those with the 2013 date are still good. 

I laughed at an article she wrote, when she said in a national emergency those seven year old green beans would be tasty.  My husband did call a couple manufacturers a few years ago, wondering just how long their canned products would be good. 

All of them said they should be good far past the date on the cans, they do slowly deteriorate in nutrients over the years.  All of them said if a can is bulging or when you open the can it "explodes"... throw it out... and a warning was made not to taste the food but to smell it for freshness.

There are canned goods that I've read don't store well for long, mostly acidic foods such as tomatoes and other highly acidic food, tuna surprisingly doesn't store as long as people once thought.  I'll have to do some more research to find out why tuna doesn't store for a long time.

All that to say... I set the old canned veggies in a flat on top of the flat of more recent cans to use them up soon.  I rarely have very many extra canned tomatoes, pinto beans, kidney beans, etc. since I use them up making soups and chili.  The organizing helped me to see I had plenty of canned garbanzo beans so I'm thinking homemade hummus is in our future.

While I was checking dates on canned goods, I checked the packages of rice and was quite shocked to find small packages that were two years old of brown rice.  I don't use it often obviously.  They had to be thrown out since brown rice deteriorates long before that. 

That's why I like using converted rice, it stores better and is suppose to be healthier than white rice (which diabetics are encouraged to carefully only in small amounts) and since there are only two of us for meals, I buy the frozen cooked brown rice when it goes on sale. 

There are other items you need to constantly rotate, such as any food product that comes in an aseptic packaged box. Their shelf life is far less than canned items.  Hubby brought home some items packaged in aseptic boxes from food pantries (which are often donated near or past their use by date by grocery stores and manufacturers) and I often found the food in them suspicious when past their date.

Time goes by faster then we think so our pantry shelves need to be cleaned, checked, and rotated.  My pantry isn't very deep but it still took awhile.  But then again... I was working a little at a time.  I need to get better at keeping the shelves organized in the winter.  When it is really cold and I just want to grab a can of tomatoes and get back in the house.

Very soon it will be time to give all our attention to the garden.  That may be hard work but it is still better than cleaning shelves in the garage.  Not my favorite household chore!  Probably because it is the one area of house keeping I let go until it should have been done months before.  You'd think one would learn.

Now I know what I don't have enough of (for instance... canned tomatoes) and what I have more than enough of (green beans and corn).  So when I can budget to deepen the pantry, it is good to know what holes need to be filled!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Book Talk

Welcome to Book Talk, where we get an opportunity to chat about books that are not received from publishers to review.  These are books and book related subjects that I'm currently loving.  Today I have a book and a podcast to share with you.  First the book...

I have followed Christie Purifoy's blog, A Spacious Place, for awhile now and I thoroughly enjoy her writing.  So I was excited to find out she had written a book, anticipating it so much that I preordered it on Amazon.  Something I rarely do as I like to hear what others have to say about a book before I actually spend Amazon credit on it.

When Roots & Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons arrived, I set it aside until I had unlimited time to brew a cup of tea and curl up on the sofa to enjoy it.  For it arrived while the weather was still cold and snowy and anticipating a good book is much nicer than squeezing in room for reading in the midst of a busy day.  I have to do that with review books.

So it was actually a week or so before I could open the book and do more than peruse the chapter titles.  The wait was well worth it, what a lovely story.  Now, I have to admit a couple things.  First, I thought I'd love it as I read the blog but I do know having a successful blog does not always translate well to writing books.  Second, I love books about coming home and houses.

The first thing that came to mind as I read was how much I could relate to Christie's longing for a place to plant roots for we moved a lot at one time for my husband's career.  The other unusual thought was that Roots & Sky is a nonfiction equivalent of what I loved about Elizabeth Goudge's Pilgrim's Inn. Christie understands the affect a house has on the people who live there.

Roots & Sky is the story of Christie's first year at Maplehurst, arriving in September with a baby due quite soon.  To say it is a story of their learning about the house through the seasons, of following their adventures as they begin to turn an old house into the house of their dreams, or even how God used them in their new old home... it doesn't bring to you the beauty of this book.

It is the story of one year (with some background of past years) in Christie's relationship with her God. Written with such beautiful prose... without being flowery which I don't care for... that I was only a few chapters into the book and I knew I would reread it every once in awhile.

I love a book that makes me wish the author was a friend I could invite over for morning coffee or afternoon tea and just talk.  The next best thing to doing that is to read the book.

Regular readers of A Spacious Place will know that Christie's brother-in-law (her sister's husband) was one of the military men killed in the helicopter crash in Hawaii a few months ago.  It has been heartbreaking following the story but well worth reading Christie's blog to hear how God has made Himself real to their family at this time.

My second recommendation is a podcast that... if you are a book lover and you haven't listened to it, yet... you are missing something.  I tend to download various podcasts on my iPad and over time I can tell which ones I enjoy the most by how many new podcasts are waiting for my attention. 

What Should I Read Next? with Anne Bogel (aka: Modern Mrs. Darcy) rarely has an unheard podcast in queue.  There is one now only because I've been busy outside and I listen to them on the iPad inside.

In each podcast, Anne asks a guest to list a few books they love, that they hate, and if there are any changes they would like to make in their reading.

After they discuss the books, Anne then offers recommendations of books she thinks the guest would enjoy reading.  Each podcast has had such an interesting guest and each has been enjoyable.  It is fun to hear titles listed in books people hate by some guests and the same title listed as a book another loved!

I'm not much of a reader of recently published fiction unless it is by an author I already trust.  However, since listening to this podcast I have a list of books on my "library" list and a few added to my Amazon Wish List.  Not to mention a few nonfiction books that are now on my list.

While most of the guests are those of a Christian background, one thing I love about the discussions is that they are not all Christian based books.  Although, if there is anything in a book that may be offensive to some people, a warning is usually given.  Many of the fiction books just tell a good story.

The podcast can be downloaded as an app or listened to online.

Christie Purifoy's blog... here.
Roots and Sky on Amazon... here.*
Pilgrim's Inn on Amazon... here.*
The What Should I Read Next podcast... here.

*Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.  I thank you very much.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Blog Tweaking

A sudden freeze took out our azaleas soon after they bloomed so I was glad to have cut these for a bouquet!

Come this August, Coffee Tea Books & Me will celebrate its' ten year birthday.  It seems my most often used phrase recently has been, "How did that happen?".  But it is true and that is a lot of writing.

I must admit to experiencing blog burn out over the winter.  I feel I'd done this and said that and what else is there to write about.  However, the nice thing that comes from having your computer unavailable for a long period of time is that it helps you step away from blogging and remember what you enjoy and what you... do not.

So I'm doing some blog tweaking, starting with adding a post called Book Talk.  I miss just chatting about books I'm reading without being concerned about how the post is worded as one has to do with an official book review.

I had that in mind when I started Recent Reading but I didn't care for that format, either.  It required a lot of work to list everything I've been reading.  So Book Talk will be chatting with you about one or two or three books (or magazine articles or podcasts) that I did not receive from a publisher to give an official review.

It is time to have fun with books again.  Not that I'm giving up reviewing, I do enjoy that.  But I have cut down on what I accept for awhile during the busy season.  My first Book Talk will hopefully be on Thursday and will be written as I have books to talk about.

The second change is that I'm no longer doing an official My World this Week.  It takes a whole lot of time and since I share the computer with my husband, I don't always have a long period of time to work with. 

I will include favorite photos within posts and I'm on Instagram as @coffeeteabooksandme.  All of those photos are taken with the iPad so for the most part, they are taken close to home.

Of course, the two weekend posts will continue as they are as long as something pops in my mind each week to write about.  ;)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday Afternoon Tea - The Dogwood Tree


My favorite tree in our yard is just beginning to bud.  Now, I must admit, when you are surrounded by dozens upon dozens and perhaps hundreds of trees, how can you have one favorite?  Because for a few days each year when it is in full bloom, the blossoms appear to glow...  especially at dawn or dusk.

Our two kitties are buried under the dogwood tree and yes... I do see the irony there.  Both Sasha and Storm despised real life dogs.  When we talked about, well, you know... D.O.G.S., we would always spell out the word as if it were a blasphemy in kitty language to even discuss such a thing.

However, I think both of our beloved girls are rollicking in Heaven, anyway.  For I am one who is convinced our beloved furry members of the family are there waiting for us.  I once heard a woman who had one of those experiences where she was briefly in Heaven say what surprised her most was that her pets were there, along with the humans who had passed on already.   Not to mention Billy Graham wrote that he believed our pets are in Heaven.  I'd like to think they will be.

But I digress...

This is the tenth spring that I have watched the rebirth of the dogwood tree.  The passage of time is difficult for me to wrap my thinking around... that we have lived in our home at the edge of the forest for ten years.

When we bought this house, it was such an amazing answer to prayer.  We had just gone through a few extremely difficult years.  I'm quite surprised I physically survived them, although I did spend a few days in the ICU after passing out from Ketoacidosis (when blood sugar goes extremely high in Type 1 diabetics).

I remember laying in the ICU, hooked up to monitors and hearing beeping and all kinds of strange sounds.  Knowing that it all indicated I was getting better but still unsettling.  I asked God at that time to at least let me live to see Christopher through high school.  We were still doing all of our homeschooling at the time and I knew he was not ready for a large classroom.

I'm certain God had to chuckle at that request for not only did He let me live to see Christopher receive his diploma at the Homeschool Co-op graduation, he let me see him graduate in Computer Science from a world class university, and get married, and soon to be a father.

When I lay in that hospital bed, I had no way of knowing we would be able to leave the townhouse we were renting, the one with a drunk living next to us and a possible meth lab in a couple doors down.

I sometimes cried because I missed my big, beautiful, upper middle class house in the "nice part of town"... but I also knew He had allowed us to be there for a purpose.  I could see it each day as I got to know the people who lived there.

I came away from that time with a deeper understanding of faith.  Having faith, unlike some of the theology we had been taught, does not mean everything is going to turn out just fine.  It doesn't mean one will always be healed.  It doesn't mean the trials you go through are even your fault.  Sometimes they are but quite often they are just being part of a fallen world.

What I learned is that sometimes there is a winter in our life when we can't see ahead at all.  The winds of adversity are sharp and bitterly cold and we can have hope only because we know His character.  We may think we are falling apart but instead He is just molding us and shaping us into even stronger vessels, shining us up in the process for the Father.

If we don't let the process turn us bitter, angry, against Him.

Molding and shaping and shining hurts.  Desperately at times.  When you have done everything right the world tells you to do and you get an education and you pay your taxes and you tithe 10% and you give offerings and you try to love your enemies and everything still falls apart... that is when you really get to know God.  For He is all you have.

Then there comes a day when He begins to put everything back together.  You find out about a special loan you qualify for because your husband is on Disability. Since you live in an area with very reasonable real estate prices, especially in rural areas, you qualify for the cutest ranch house next to a forest.

You  never regain your health but He gives the strength to go on one day at a time, one raised bed at a time to garden, one bush at a time to prune, one meal at a time, one evening of showing hospitality at a time, one coffee out at a time, one visit to a friend at a time... usually not being able to plan ahead very far as you don't know just how you are going to feel.  But day by day He gives grace.

Your son grows up into an educated fine young man with a lovely wife, both of whom love the Lord in spite of challenges.  Your daughter and her family are still 1,000 miles away but thanks to remarkable technology, you keep in touch with the big stuff and the little stuff... like your grandson sending you a photo of the fish he just caught.

Then come another spring... you find yourself looking out your window at the dogwood beginning to bloom and it has been ten years.  Ten years when the March chill causes you to wonder if spring will ever return.  Ten springs when the buds begin to pop and the flowers on the dogwood appear and for a few brief days, it is like the fairies sing.

There is a reason that dogwood is my favorite tree.  For after the long winter, it raises its' branches to God (as if thanking Him for the gift again of new life) by getting all glittery and glowing and absolutely beautiful before settling down and doing the work of shading the ground underneath. 

Can I do any less?  

Image:  My dogwood isn't this far in bloom, yet.  Image from:  Google

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Seasonal work

It is a lovely spring day in our part of the Midwest.  I've been working on organizing "my" shelves in the garage which contain seldom used craft items, seasonal decorations, vases of various sizes, etc.

This morning I have been going through a box that contains items from my son's craft projects, finding some wonderful surprises (like Prismacolor colored pencils), Crayola colored pencils, and lots of dried out markers.  The Prismacolor pencils were added to my collection, the small Crayola pencils saved for when the grandchildren visit, and everything else went in the trash. 

I think when finished, I will have one entire shelf free to move often used jelly jars, Ball jars, and vintage Ball jars to that shelf instead of tucked here and there where I can find a place for them in the garage. 

An important part of the work I'm doing is to bring inside those pantry items that do not do well in the garage when the weather turns hot.  For instance, the half gallon Ball jars which hold chocolate chips.  This is the time to sort through everything as garage shelves are being organized and reorganized and spruced up a bit.

As the temperatures warm outside today, I need to take the hoe to the three raised beds that will be planted in early May.  I like to hoe them and rake them a few times so the weeds that come up can bake their little (and no so little) roots in the sun.  It was a garden hint in an article on the Internet a few years ago that has proven very helpful.

Hot weather items like basil and tomatoes will be planted most likely after Mother's Day.  They will be planted in the additional raised bed Hubby will soon be building.  Instead of the big garden expansion we thought of doing, we are only adding the one large raised bed.  An expansion needed to hopefully provide one more area that receives good sunlight. 

Given a limited budget as well as limited energy... that is a good thing.

The past two weeks of off and on nice weather were used in getting old brush and dried up perennials broken off, raked up, and in the wheelbarrow to become mulch in the forest eventually.  That is the nice thing about living next to a forest, you feel it is happy to receive the old plants and brush so they can become a natural fertilizer for the trees.  Eventually.

Our friends south of the Equator are beginning to tuck in for winter just as our world is waking up from a long, cold slumber.  Presently spring is a delightful change but come say... October... we will be looking forward to cooler days and pumpkin spice lattes.  But not yet. 

Spring is just beginning, the tall trees of the forest have only unseen buds and many smaller trees are blooming in various shades of purple.  I can still see my neighbor's red barn, a sign the leaves have not fully formed on the bushes lining the county road.

Ahead of us there is yet to be garden veggies picked, and Farmer's Market veggies carefully chosen, and reading on the porch, and family sitting around the two deck tables, and watching a Maine Coon appreciate cool air when the air conditioner is running.  Her breed was made for the winter winds of Maine you know.

Now off to the garden.

Image:  Rooster and Four Chickens-Allposters.com

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Just Chatting...


My immediate surroundings currently look as if God began a painting from the ground up and it is still a work in progress.  For the ground is green and there are now buds on bushes and the perennials are beginning to break through the sod at a rapid rate.  However, the big trees continue to look as if they were sketched out and awaiting the paintbrush to fill in with color.  Such is April when spring was colder than usual in the Midwest.

This is the time of year when there is more to do than time and energy permits.  So I'm working a little at a time outside as well as a little at a time on spring housecleaning on the inside.  Every day brings with it new priorities of what must be accomplished now... for new growth... whether weeds or whatever... waits for no person.

It also means less computer time as I squeeze in book reviews and weekend posts amidst the real world work and have hopes of soon expanding into other days of the week again.  Miss Victoria is not pleased there have been no photos of her to show off since prior to the busy-ness and computer woes I'd just as soon not remember.  ;)

So I'm rerunning a favorite photo from two or three years ago.  I love the tippy toe stretch to see what lurks outside the window. She likes to view what is going on in her Queendom and wishes very much to have a face to face chat with the dogs next door.  Except she forgets she is now considered a geriatric kitty with her veterinarian and would no longer do well on her own in the cold cruel world.

So I leave you while I clean one shelf in the garage while dinner bakes in the oven.  The breakfast and lunch dishes are soaking in Mrs. Meyer's Lilac dish washing suds (thank you Meijers for selling their seasonal scents) and yes... that means I'm way behind on the day's gotta do's.  I desperately needed a nap in early afternoon. Even if it meant doing early morning dishes while dinner is in the oven. 

All of this and we haven't even started on the garden except cleaning up the mint and other herb raised beds.  This is exactly why I try not to complain too much in the bleak midwinter when the snow is falling and the winds are blowing and I can curl up reading on the sofa with a hot beverage without feeling guilty, whatsoever.  Sigh...

However, once the initial work is over... then comes the full enjoyment of nicer weather and garden and perennials and a clean deck and a prettied up porch.  Then I can sit on the porch with a book and a cold beverage and enjoy the fruits of our labor.  Something to look forward to as I keep chipping away, a little at a time, the work of spring.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Visual Theology: Seeing and Understanding the Truth About God, a review


I was very curious about this book, written by a favorite Blogger, Tim Challies with Josh Byers.  I'm a visual person with notes and such pinned on bulletin boards all over the house so the thought of combining theology with the visual was intriguing.

This is a truly unique book!  Full of basic but not fluffy theology that every Christian should know but written in short easy to understand language mixed in with colorful charts and illustrations.

The book is divided by:

Grow Close to Christ
Gospel
Identity
Relationship

Understand the Work of Christ
Drama
Doctrine

Become Like Christ
Putting Off
Putting On

Live for Christ
Vocation
Relationships
Stewardship

While written from a Reformed perspective, there was nothing in the book that would make it only for that denomination. I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting a better understand of the basic theology every Christian should understand.  But it would be especially good to give to young people in their late teens and twenties. Perfect for homeschoolers!

I am a word person but this is one book where I have to say you have to see it to realize how unique... in a very good way... it brings an understanding of theology to the reader.

This book was provided by the publisher for the sake of review but the opinions are my own.

More information can be found about Visual Theology... here.*

*Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Your Story & His Story


I've been thinking a lot recently about the way God weaves our lives, especially as my husband turns sixty-nine this week.  The Las Vegas odds against us ever meeting would have been astronomical.

I was in elementary school when he began his first year of college.  When we met, I was just finishing high school and he had started college, gone to Viet Nam, returned to finish college, and had just begun graduate school.

My own birth was a miracle as my mother was a middle aged widow with seven children (some of them grown already) when she met my father who was divorced with one older child.  I'm positive that my mother (aka: Mamaw) thought Joan was her youngest child forever and ever amen.

I think often of our friend, Sarah Clarkson, who is engaged to a man she met while she has been at Oxford.  I recall a conversation we had when we were all visiting Stephanie.  My daughter and I... much to Sarah's embarrassment... were speculating about Sarah's Mr. Darcy and how right now and right then God was preparing him to one day become the husband who would be perfect for Sarah.

What can I say, we both have some Emma tendencies in matchmaking.  However, he is and she is... perfect for him. We had no idea he was living and breathing and studying and going about his days in England.

Your story is no different even though the details are not the same.  If one stops to think about it for any length of time, I mean seriously ponder God's weaving together of history, we would all be downing Migraine Strength Excedrin.

The whole concept of God's sovereign will verses man's free will has perplexed theologians for millenia.  I do not come close to understanding one tiny part of it.  But it keeps me thinking... if He cares so much that He weaves together the smallest of circumstances then He certainly cares about the Big Stuff of life.

I don't know about you but when I'm walking through intense trials, I feel as one walking in the midst of heavy fog, not sure if there is a dangerous cliff ahead or a sun filled oasis.  I've experienced both.

However, I can testify to one essential fact of walking with Him over forty years now.  When I look back, I can see Him.  Oh, not with everything and I am certain on this side of Eternity most of our dark times will continue to be unexplained.  But there is enough of His Tapestry that I can view to know He was there all the time... weaving and shaping and using the dark threads as well as the pretty pastels and the vibrant primary colors... all coming together to form my Story.

I'm also certain of this... if I were to view the stitching close up and personal then I will see the dropped stitches and the tangles and the knots.  Those are all indications of the times I went my own way or didn't do what He asked or continued to do what He warned me against... or simply was too busy to pay attention to that Still Small Voice.

It is quite amazing and I have no clue... being the created and not the Creator... how He did it.  But there it is, proof in all its' glory.  The tapestry is my Story, the very me that Jesus will bring before the Father on That Day and show off to the Father in all its' Beauty.  Without the knots or the tangles or any dropped stitches.  Beautiful.  Perfect.

Of course the Father knows it is Jesus and not us who is truly flawless.  It was His plan in the very beginning.  Perhaps by that time I will fully comprehend His Sovereignty and my free will and how He made something beautiful of my mistakes... or perhaps not.  That may be one of the mysteries of the Ages.

If you are trusting Jesus, the tapestry of your life will turn out to be a thing of Beauty.  I can't promise you sunshine arriving immediately in the fog or that the bend in the road will come tomorrow that makes it all right.  But He is there and someday you will look back and perhaps be able to see how the Weaver was at work.  Even in the hard things of life as well as the seasons of blessings and joy.  He is always weaving and that work of art is you.

Image:  Time For Reading by Judy Gibson

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Write it down


I was wondering what to chat about this past week and as so often happens, an occurrence in my every day living gave me an idea.  I was running the vacuum cleaner and realized I needed a new bag for it... and I was out.  Yikes!

It is exactly for this purpose that I keep a list of urgent purchases, those which need to be squeezed into the budget as soon as possible.  These are normally items that I make certain there is a backup before I run out of them.  In this case the vacuum bags were on my husband's list but somehow missed mine (he does most of the vacuuming).

I forget about items if I don't write them down because 1) I'm not as young as I once was, and 2) I usually don't make that purchase often.  When we first purchased our vacuum cleaner, we had a two story house which was all carpeted except for the kitchen.  I never forgot to buy vacuum cleaner bags.  Vacuuming was my life.

However, our present home is a smaller ranch style with carpeting only in the family room, living room, and hallway.  There are no children running in and out.  If we didn't share the house with a Maine Coon, we wouldn't have to vacuum even as much as we do. So I forget.

Vacuum cleaner bags are the kind of items which are essential to have replacements put back for if your vacuum cleaner uses them, you don't want to have a day come when for some reason, you can't run out and buy replacements.

Now, most items are those that I use often enough they never go off my "need to stock up" radar.  Dish washing soap, for instance.  I think I have an unreasonable fear of running out of dish washing soap.  But then again, I do wash dishes two or three times a day.

Once in awhile it is good to take the time to think through what items you normally don't consider essential but if you were to run out, it would at the least be an inconvenience and at the most would be a near on disaster. 

For instance, we live in an area of the country where you must have a water softener or you will end up with rusty clothes, plumbing, and dishes.  We are pretty good about keeping an eye on the salt level but there was this one time when we didn't and... oh, my.

Since we often don't think of these items until we run out of them, the easiest way to keep at least one backup package (more if you can afford it) is to write it on your "need to purchase" list as soon as you open either your last package or when you have used a set amount you do not want to go below.  For instance, we prefer to keep at least two extra bags of water softener salt, although that doesn't always happen.

When you deepen your pantry this way (realizing there is more than food when I consider a pantry), it breaks down the amount spent over months instead of all at once.  It is far easier to make a purchase a little at a time than suddenly realize you need to stock up on more than your budget can handle.

This week I added vacuum bags to my list.  I have a feeling very soon there will be garden supplies on the list.  Spring has suddenly arrived.  :)

LINKS
I was asked about favorite websites.  There are three pantry type websites that are very user friendly and a prepper website that won't scare the heck out of you.  I'll think of more soon.   

A few of my favorites pantry style websites are:
Down to Earth (Australian)... here.
The Bluebirds are Nesting (Australian)... here.
A Working Pantry... here.
Pioneering Today (which is a homestead site)... here.

For Emergency Prep Info that is user friendly:
Survival Mom... here.

I know many of you already go to these websites, which is why they are favorites.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Eating in the Middle: A Mostly Wholesome Cookbook, a review


I am drawn to cookbooks by people who have lost a great deal of weight to see if they offer good recipes for a diabetic.  Most often I am disappointed because they call for artificial ingredients that I don't want to use.

This book by Andie Mitchell was a lovely surprise.  Not only are the recipes made with food I can easily obtain in the Midwest but the book is full of "from scratch", easy recipes that I know even my husband will like. 

I have already bookmarked a few to try soon, including Cauliflower With Bacon, Roasted Carrots with Honey Butter, Baked Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls (using less heat so said hubby will eat it), and Chocolate Raspberry Breakfast Pudding made with chia seeds (of which I have a package waiting for a good recipe).

These are recipes I will make pretty much as described in the book but it is also full of recipes which one could easily tweak like Tuna and Orzo Salad with Parmesan & Basil.  The author not only provides mostly healthy foods but there are recipes for those days when one can cheat a little that are not as nutritious.

This is not a diet book and she has already told the story of how she lost the weight in a previous book.  But it is an excellent cookbook, full of colorful photos of the food.  It is exactly the kind of cookbook I like these days.

This cookbook was provided by Blogging For Books for the purpose of a review but the opinions are my own.

Eating in the Middle can be found at Amazon... here.*

*Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.