Monday, February 08, 2016

The Life Giving Home... and Give Away!


I'm so pleased to be sharing about Sally and Sarah's new book today!  At the bottom of this post, you will find a way to win both the book shown above and the companion book written by Sally and Joel Clarkson called The Life Giving Home Experience.

My daughter tells the story of being asked how we became friends with the Clarksons.  Her reply was something like, "My mom blogs about her cat". 

Actually, Sally Clarkson was my friend long before we met online and in person.  I took Sally with me to the park as my homeschooled son wore off excess energy running up and down the equipment or hiking the trails... for that was when I would listen to her tapes on cassettes.

Sally was with me when I curled up at a corner of the sofa, a hot beverage at my side, finally getting a chance to rest after a long day.  As I read her books, I felt she was there.  That she knew me.  That she understood. 

I could connect with Sally in the way we were both deeply influenced by Edith Schaeffer's books.  Especially from her book called Hidden Art (known as The Hidden Art of Homemaking in paperback).  I always thought of Sally as the younger generation's Edith Schaeffer and shared with her quite often... mostly in the comments on her blog after a lovely post... that I would love to see her write a Hidden Art kind of book.

This book, The Life Giving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging & Becoming, is the answer to that wish from me and many others who have longed for it to be written.  For Sally shares the hows of creating a life giving home as well as the reasons we should do so.

I now understand God's timing for this book.  It could not have been written in previous years.  It takes Sarah Clarkson's heart and soul and gifting to also make this book possible.  For it is the coming together of the ideas from mother and daughter that creates something even better than it would have been separately. Magic.  Narnia magic.

Sarah has the gift of a writer who takes us beyond the everyday world around us.  She stretches the imagination.  She makes the Incarnation real.  Sarah's writing has always given me pause to ponder and reflect on the work God is doing in each of us.  She once again brings such writing to the table in The Lifegiving Home.

The Life Giving Home is divided into two Parts.  Part One is titled Thinking about Home.  It consists of:
  1. A Lifegiving Legacy (Sally)
  2. Made for Home (Sarah)
  3. A Symphony of Grace (Sally)
  4. The Rhythms of Incarnation (Sarah)

Part Two is called Seasons of Home with chapters being divided by the months of the year.  They are:

January:       Creating a Framework for Home: Rhythms, Routines, and Rituals (Sally)
February:     A Culture of Love: Growing Lifelong Relationships (Sally)
March:          The Art of the Ordinary: Finding Beauty in Your Own Backyard (Sarah)
April:            A Heritage of Faith: Engaging with God's Story (Sarah)
May:             Days to Commemorate: Marking Growth with Celebration (Sally)
June:             Times of Delight: Creating a Value for Play (Sally)
July:              A Heroic Heritage: Engaging with Story and History (Sarah)
August:         The Story of Us: Shaping and Celebrating Family Culture (Sally)
September:   When Seasons Change: Gathering In for Home and Soul (Sarah)
October:       Home is Best: Serving Life within Your Walls (Sally)
November:    Blessed and Blessing: Grace, Gratitude, and Generosity (Sarah)
December:    The Rhythm of Celebration: Seasons of Rejoicing in Family Life (Sarah)

Tyndale is giving away a copy of both the book and the companion book (which can be used for personal study or better yet... with a group!).  All you have to do is leave a comment below.  If your of an age when your children are grown, I'm sure you will know families who will benefit from them!

Comment moderation is enabled so your comment will show up after it has been moderated.  By moi'.  A winner will be picked by random on Wednesday at 5:00!

Further information can be found at Amazon.com.  Information regarding The Lifegiving Home... here.  Information regarding The Lifegiving Home Experience can be found... here.  Links to Amazon.com are Associate links.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Friends we have never met


Since you are reading this, you are online.  So you most likely know what I am talking about when I praise the many friends whom I have never met in person.  Women who are often as close as sisters.  Women who, through the years, have been a blessing of sane-ness in a time of upheaval.  Women who make me laugh and cry and feel so humbled at their friendships.

Tomorrow I will be writing the book review for my friend Sally Clarkson's new book.  The official launch team blog post.  It has me thinking of how important long distance online friendships can be.  While I have met Sally in person, most of our friendship has been through the tapping away of keys on a keyboard or the clicking of a mouse.

I have a dear to me blog friend whom I write almost every day... back and forth... just the stuff of everyday life.  But it helps make sense of my days and I believe it does the same for her.  I have close to me blog friends in states far away and when one of them decided not to buy another computer when hers crashed... she still keeps in touch through (gasp) the U. S. Mail.

I have longtime friendships with many of you.  Names which started out as a comment on the blog and became names that make me smile when I see them now.  Women who have blessed me greatly.

I was thinking recently, how different my life would have been if I didn't have friends I have never met in person.  For there are just a handful that I eventually have been able to actually meet, whether briefly or to enjoy a cup of coffee with.  Those friendships are just as real to me as my friend who lives in the same town.

This idea of friends that we have never met in person is not all that new.  In the great libraries of the world we have letters between such friends... sometimes taking weeks and weeks to cross a large ocean.  These libraries also contain letters of friends who met for a brief season of time but continued a lifetime of friendship through their writing back and forth.

Oh, we definitely need friends who live close to us.  People for whom we can call in the middle of the night in an emergency.  Friends who ask us to "come for coffee" when we need to chat and visa versa.  We need in person friends.

However, if anyone scoffs when you mention your dear friend for whom you have never met in person... they obviously have never had the blessing of an online friendship.  God blessed friendships.  God ordained friendships.  Not second best as a real friend... they are a real friend.

So here is a virtual hug to my virtual (but very real) friends.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Storm proof


I've been interested in reading what various people who experienced the blizzard conditions went through.  I must admit, we've had a very mild winter so far so it is kind of nice reading about the storms instead of experiencing them.

But it did remind me again how these things can seem to pop up out of nowhere.  I thought I'd share what we have done to prepare... on the cheap.  Remember... your immediate goal is to make yourself victim proof... meaning you will be warm and cozy at home, not standing in long lines before a storm hits.

1.  You know I'm all about water storage these days.  Just experience over two weeks without indoor plumbing and it will make you put it at the top of your priority list, too.  Yes... I know there are people who live off the grid but they are set up for such events.  We are not.

So I now make sure we have two or three cases of bottled water and about ten gallons of tap water (which is well water in our case).  If you have a way to purify your water, you don't need to do anything to the tap water.  However, if you don't have a water purification unit (the kind you can run water through, not the under the sink kind that purifies water coming into the house) then you need to do some online research about how much bleach and such to put in your water.

I have read that city water has enough chlorine added to it that you do not have to add any bleach.  But various towns are different so do some research on websites where they have long articles about water purification (there are tons of them).

When a storm is on the way, fill your bathtub with water as well as any clean containers that can hold water.  I have three pitchers and when we had water issues, all three were filled (when we could) with drinking water.  Victoria's water container was filled completely.  Other containers were filled to use for such things as flushing the toilet with tap water.  

2.  My son used to look at the pantry shelves and tell me there was nothing in the house to eat.  I came to realize what he meant was, there was nothing on the pantry shelves that didn't need to be cooked to have a meal.   That has been a long time ago but I did realize I needed to have more snack items on the shelf.  They are also perfect for when there is no electricity.

I keep crackers, peanut butter, granola bars, canned fruit, a few different kinds of cereal, corn ships, salsa, etc. on the pantry shelf.  I usually have cheese, milk, some kind of lunch meat, etc. in the refrigerator.

Should I know there is a storm coming, I will see what needs to be added to the pantry shelves according to opportunity and budget.  I have found it very helpful to spend some time every few months just looking through grocery store shelves for items that can be helpful for an emergency, whether it is a storm coming or in the past... a hungry teenage boy needing food and right now!

3.  Since my daughter has lived in New England; she has been through blizzards, hurricanes, and a very large tornado outbreak in their town.  She has learned that if any very bad weather is possible, not only to stock the pantry but to make certain the dishes have all been washed and the laundry is caught up.  Just in case the electricity doesn't come back on for days (which has happened more than once!).

This is the time to locate all forms of lighting including flashlights, camping lanterns (should you have them), candles (not scented) to be placed out of reach of children and pets, matches, and check for batteries where needed.  You do not want to be looking for these items in the dark.

This is also the time to locate your paper plates, paper cups, napkins, disposable forks and spoons, etc.  Should the power go off, you will be glad to have them on the kitchen counter and ready to be used.  It wouldn't hurt to have a case of bottled water in the kitchen ready to go, with instructions that it is there if the water is not available.

VERY IMPORTANT:  Charge your cell phone, iPad or other tablets, etc.

4.  Check around your yard before any major storm hits.  Bring in objects that can be picked up in high winds, or tuck them in a safe place where they cannot become dangerous missiles for your house or people.  We live in an area that tends to have a lot of Tornado Watches so as soon as one pops on the TV screen, or on the iPad... I get the porch and deck ready for high winds.

If you live in an area that has hurricanes, it is a really really (really) good idea to have your hurricane gear ready far in advance.  If you know you may need plywood, get it now.  Before you have to stand in line, pay extra money for it, or worse yet... find it all sold out.

I hate to tell you this but not preparing for an emergency does not make it never happen.  Speaking as one whose house was hit by lightening.

Most storm situations will have you hunkering down in your house for safety.  In a hurricane warning, you may have to leave the premises.  If you have a "bug out bag" already packed, routes to get out of town already planned, your pets already taken care of, a phone list of people to check on, reservations at an inland hotel or with friends, your house prepared, etc., then should that storm take a sudden turn right toward your house... you have a much better chance of coming through it as good as possible.

5.  Having a NOAA All Weather Radio is a big help.  I have the kind that has to be plugged in, which is better than nothing.  I also have a very small (inexpensive) emergency radio that can be wound up should the power go out.

Our Direct TV almost always goes out in a storm. Which is why we also kept a second TV hooked up to the old antennae.  It tends to stay on as long as we have electricity and we get local channels that often switch to all weather related coverage in a warning.  If you only have satellite TV, I highly recommend having a backup with an antennae... or some other way to receive information.

6.  One items we do not have is a generator.  It would be nice, especially the solar generators, but we do what we can with what we have.  I purposely have my insulin come in pens as they can go quite a long time without refrigeration.  If it is really cold, we have sleeping bags and a Maine Coon cat.  The only argument will be... who gets the cat to cuddle with.  ;)

I know this is not an extensive list of how to make yourself storm proof but I hope it helps a little.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Breaking Busy, a review


The subtitle of this book by author Alli Worthington gives you an idea of what the book is all about... How To Find Peace and Purpose in a World of Crazy. This book was interesting from the first pages as the author shares a humorous story of when she realized her life was just too crazy busy.  I was still chuckling over the story long after closing the pages of the book that evening.

While I have busy days since my children are grown and my time is more my own, I thought this book would be interesting but wouldn't be a great deal of help for where I am in life right now.  I was wrong.  Not only is the book interesting to read but the author provides good ideas for everyone, including those of us who are at that Empty Nest stage of life.

For those still in the midst of juggling children, responsibilities in and outside the home, church, Holidays, etc., you will enjoy reading this book and gain practical advice.  You should be able to come away with at least one... probably many more... ways to "break busy" in your life.

The Chapters
  • Capacity
  • Relationships
  • Calling
  • Editing
  • Thoughts
  • Traditions
  • Time
  • Decisions
  • Communication
  • Worth
I recommend this book highly for anyone who feels they have more to do than they have time to do it.

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

Further information about Breaking Busy can be found at Amazon.com... here.*

*Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Whatever Is Lovely, a review


The subtitle "A Coloring Book For Reflection and Worship" best describes this beautiful coloring book.  It will provide many fun hours of relaxation for those who love to color for it is quite a thick book.


When I first looked through this coloring book, I noticed two things.  One, I loved the quotes from hymns and various authors.  Two, I thought it the perfect coloring book for busy people as most pages are not as intricate as some coloring books.  Yet, the pages would still be frame worthy.


On the back of each page, there is information about the quotes or the hymns.  As shown above, the stanzas of the hymns where the quote is pulled from are provided.  It will make a beautiful addition for those who enjoy this form of "making art".

This book was provided by Blogging For Books but the opinions are my own.

More information can be found at Amazon... here.*

*Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Surrounding yourself with Peace

I tweaked the larger tea table in the Study by adding the vintage typewriter reproduction statue and a plant.

I missed chatting on Saturday but I ended up being away from home most of the day.  When I arrived home late last night, it was so nice to grab my pillow and collapse stretch out on the sofa to relax after a very long day.

I've put in a lot of thinking and doing and frugal shopping through the years to make the look of our home peaceful.  I can't say it has always been a home full of peace as fallen humanity and a few drama queen cats have lived here.  Which is why I need it to have a feel of peacefulness.

A long time ago in a universe far far away... oh, no... that was the movie we saw last night.  Ummm... a few decades ago, like in the early 1980s, I began keeping a file of magazine pages and photos that represented rooms I loved.  Designers will tell you not to over think your reaction until you have a good amount of such magazine pages so I probably had a minimum of twenty-four or so collected (adding up to dozens later) before taking the time to make careful ponderings.

What jumped out at me immediately were the colors I was most attracted to (different in the kitchen than other rooms), my preference for the way the Brits hang their artwork, Early American furniture, the occasional Primitive pieces, the look of lace and the silver collections in Victoria, bright yellow and red in the kitchen, candles, vintage books, and plants... lots of plants.

Of course, today you can do the same thing on your Pinterest board but I'm old fashioned enough to keep my magazine page file folders.  Through the years, I've changed a little... throwing away some of the much dated 80s era photos and including the occasional cottage style article.  However, mostly I've stayed surprisingly the same in what I find beautiful.

I am fortunate that the furniture inherited from both mothers were all in styles I love, which made our home look nice when they were all included.  But mostly what makes our home warm and cozy are the objects which have been collected for decades at garage sales, thrift stores, etc.

There are a few pieces of "good furniture" purchased during those years but they offer only the bones of the design.  The real Beauty is found in the details and it is in that search that the real creativity (and may I add, the fun) was found.

If there is one lesson I've learned over the years as I made the home my favorite creative canvas, it is to add what I love and everything will pretty much work together.  I also have to remind myself that mixing styles is not only permissible but creates a home that uniquely reflects our family.

Each of our homes create a backdrop to the kind of life we want to live.  Not always the life we are living but by creating a place of Beauty and Peace, it is far more likely we will add to our days what we love to do than if no one was giving such surroundings any thought.

For instance, I love the idea of afternoon tea but it was pretty much impossible when life was crazy busy.  Then there came a time when illness forced my days to slow down but somehow afternoon tea rarely happened.  But when my younger child grew up and went to college and got married and I cried and then realized, wait... I can have his room!!!... I decorated it for Peace, and Creativity, and Making Art, and... the taking of tea.

Not that you have to wait until your children all grow up to have afternoon tea.  I did collect teacups and teapots (often for a dollar or two each) and I did at times enjoy afternoon tea earlier.  But there is something about having a Place for such things that reminds me to enjoy that time often.

You may have already guessed that I must be surrounded with books.  My "Close Friends" are all in special bookshelves but I have hundreds of books which are well loved acquaintances.   We once had a friend helping us move and after the twentieth or so box of books, he looked at me and asked if I'd ever heard of the library? 

I haven't had many plants lately, as much as I find them adding so much Peace to a room.  A large number of magazine pages in my files show rooms full of plants.  We used all of our "plant budget" on the garden, and the deck, and the front porch.  But we've made a decision these past few months to purchase a small plant now and then to help clean the air and we get Beauty as a bonus.

I hope you know your importance as an artist for that is what you are.  Whenever you use your budget of time and finances to create a warm and cozy home... a refuge from the storms of life... you are doing so as one who needs to create... being filled with the breath of the Creator of all things.

Of course, when you live with other people you will make your home comfortable for all... taking into consideration various preferences.  But even then it will be uniquely yours as my home is uniquely mine.  I need to take into account what my husband likes and he reminds me of what... he does not. 

Just this past week I put a decoration I had in the small bathroom in a box I had going to charity as he reminded me he absolutely hates it.  We compromise on dislike but I don't keep in mutual rooms what he hates.

I hope when you walk through the front door of your house or apartment or mansion or cottage or castle or hut... that you can look around and sigh and feel yourself relaxing.  If that isn't possible, create one corner of a room that has the same affect and when you need to feel cozy... you head for that chair with that table and that lamp and that book waiting to be finished and hopefully a well worn Bible and a cup with a much needed beverage.

We lived in apartments for much of our early years of marriage and I had my favorite corner of the sofa that was "my special place".   Now that my children are raised, most of the house is "my special place" in which to create.  Only an abundance of photos bring back memories of the younger kids and pets who were part of our various homes in those years.

My house mostly stays the same but the accessories change now and then.  I've been known to change the artwork around to freshen the line of site in each room.  Sometimes a new old teacup is found at a charity shop or I include a bouquet of flowers from the grocery store which are inexpensive.

Just as in cooking, the decorating of homes is something we are always learning about and tweaking and trying new things.  Until that Day when the Master Carpenter shows us our Heavenly Home.  I have a feeling when we see that house, we will know we have truly arrived home.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

My World this Week


This is that time of the year where I live in which the weather is blah (but that can be a good thing after seeing photos of the Eastern storm!) and there is not a whole lot going on.  I've been doing some organizing that I won't have time for when the outdoor chores begin in March. But I'm not sure that is worth writing about.

However, I do have some photos taken over the past few weeks that are worth sharing.  Especially of the family member with fur.  The Queen of the Known Universe.

So... here is what has been happening in my world the past few weeks.

Listening

Lanier has talked about this album for two Christmas seasons now so when I had extra Amazon credit, I downloaded it.  No wonder she loves it, it is beautiful!  An unusual combination of folksy, country, bluesy, and almost Celtic.

The link is below for Amazon but you can look it up on YouTube, too.  While technically a Christmas album, I'd say it is more a "Winter" album or perhaps even a "listen to all year long" album.  Definitely not everyone's taste in music but I love it.

Watching

What can I say?  Best season ever!

I've enjoyed every moment of Downton Abbey this year after two years in a row of becoming annoyed at a story line and not watching it again until the last two episodes.

Thrifting
I found this little guy for a couple of dollars at Goodwill over Christmas.  Even Hubby thinks he's cute.
One of my best Goodwill finds ever.  A "piecrust" tea table, just what I've wanted for ages.
Here is the way it looks next to the chair.

Instagram
I took a photo after cleaning my desk.
The top drawer of my dresser after organizing it according to the latest Marie Kondo book (reviewed recently).
This was the scene when I looked up from the sofa one evening.  ;)

More Her Fluffiness
This is not her best view but I love how she gets nosy and watches what goes on outside.

*Over the Rhine's Blood Oranges in the Snow album can be found on Amazon.com... here.  Most links to Amazon are Associate Links.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Peace in Times of Trouble

 
"And who knows whether you have 
not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
Esther 4:14

 I woke up far too early one morning this week.  It was very cold and I was reluctant to leave the warmth of flannel sheets and two quilts but I also didn't savor the thought of just laying there looking at the numbers on the digital clock.  The thought of coffee in a hurry became stronger than the pull of warm sheets.  It was a K-cup morning.

On the way to the kitchen, I looked toward the large window in the Living Room which looks out upon the forest.  The full moon was hiding between the trees but the light was pretty amazing.  So much so that I stopped the main mission... that of inhaling coffee... and looked out upon that beautiful color and sparkle of moonlight on snow.  Such Beauty.  Such Peace.

Like most people, I have to make a place for peace as the world around me wants to take it away all the time.  Sometimes it means shutting the door to the Study (my reward for the empty nest syndrome).  Often it requires opening a book or listening to music.  There are moments that all I can do is to put headphones on and tune out everyone.

All of these can... at any given time... bring a temporary peace.  But what about real peace, true peace, the kind that runs deep within the morrow of our very being?  That only comes from accepting the Prince of Peace as Savior and Lord.  Peace is a Person.

There is something else that brings me peace.  An understanding which has grown over the decades of walking with Jesus.  That is the realization that I am... we are... right at place in time and history and location that He placed us.

He created us for such a time as this.

He had a reason for placing you and me in a time when the world is changing faster than we can keep up.  I used to tell people I did not shock easily with what the world offered.  Now I feel shocked all the time.  The culture, the current Administration in Washington, modern media, all that came together to paint a world which looks nothing like the one I once knew as a younger person.

He was fully aware when he brought about the circumstances of my birth... long after my mother thought she was done having babies... where I was born... when I was born... the people He put in my path and the experiences He allowed... all coming together for one purpose.

For such a time as this.

For you see, I know He calls us to very difficult situations and experiences.  Life is not easy.  It is not Heaven, yet.  He knows we are being born in the first Age of Man that the world could be destroyed by humanity made creations.  He knew the Middle East would be a boiling cauldron and China would become a world power again and that Putin would enter Syria last Fall.

He knew that the the personal computer would change the world and that the Internet would link the world and that both would be used for good and evil.  He placed us here in that time and space, chatting with each other via the keyboard... it did not take Him by surprise.

He wrote about this Day and Age in the Book so when we saw these events happening, we would look up and rejoice for they all are indicators that it won't be long before His second coming and this time... it is for good.

He plopped us in this very time of His-story for such a time as this.

He is always teaching us.  He is always equipping us.  He gives us strength when we falter and notices when we pick ourselves up and shake the dust off and get on with the race... with our spiritual eyes on the goal.  He promises rewards for not quitting.

He knows we are "made of dust" for He was there, making a mud human out of the dust of that fallen piece of earth.  Then breathing in the very image of Himself.

But He also knows something we can't and that my friend makes all the difference.  He knows what we become as we walk through the fires of adversity. As we don't give up, as we keep on keeping on, as we fall, as we take a detour and find our way back, that we have a tendency for fear to grip us and apprehension to steal our peace.

So when you watch the news and wonder at the future remember this... the God of Esther... the God of Joseph... the God of Moses... the God of Daniel... the God of Stephen the first Martyr... the God of Matthew and Mark and Luke and John and Peter and Paul...  He is the same God that allowed their lives to be what they were in their time and place.

He loves you just as He loved them.  Today.  Your Day.  Your Time.  Your People.  Your Place.  For such a time as this.

Image:  My neighbor's barn after a previous snow.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Answering a couple questions


I hope if you were in the path of the big snowstorm, you were well prepared!  I was watching the morning news out of New York and the reporters were showing video of grocery store shelves that looked like piranha had gone through and eaten the shelves clean.

The story was how many people waited until the last minute to shop for basics to get them through the storm and there was nothing left on the shelves at all.  I was not surprised.  How many times have we seen people in hurricane zones waiting in line for batteries, water, and the ubiquitous plywood?

It doesn't take much to set aside extra in the pantry.  Even on a tight budget.  Sigh...

I get asked a lot of questions and I really do try to answer them but I haven't been good at it the last few months.  Too many distractions.  However, I'll answer a couple today.

Do I see any product shortages?

I was asked this last week so it is fresh on my mind.  Which means ummm... it is too early for me to forget it.  ;)

Other than seasonal shortages (like wishing there were Meyer lemons out of season), there is only one place I've seen regular shortages and that is Walmart. I've read other people saying the same thing.

It is their "Just In Time" way of doing business with everything computerized and they bring product in at the last minute.  That may work in some places but I'm thinking it doesn't work that great in a big box store.  Should there be any big emergency, even a trucker's strike (do they still have them?)... products at Walmart would disappear fast.

I don't shop at Walmart a lot but my husband goes there for a few items that are cheaper there than Kroger or Target.  They are often out of the specific items he needs or there are only one or two cans left.  I noticed long ago that they will carry a product and then suddenly it is no longer available.

What I have noticed (and I'm sure you have, too) is that manufacturers continue to make products smaller in size or volume and keep the same price (or raise it).  Just last week I was shopping for Meijer brand food storage bags and noticed two different looking boxes for the same thing... the one I was used to and a new design.  So I checked and sure enough, the bags in the newly designed box were slightly smaller.

The size of various canned goods these days can make it challenging to use in older recipes as they don't contain the same amounts.  For instance, pumpkin for pies!

I haven't noticed anything else but I don't shop a lot.  I haven't been to the Mall in years (what can I say, I have a great Goodwill store with nice clothes).

How do I stock up on a limited budget and with food restrictions?

Well, that can be about as difficult as juggling cats.  Ummm... sorry Victoria.   It takes a lot of thought and planning.  Not to mention my cooking has completely changed.  Quite often we are eating entirely different meals.

We actually have a "yours", "mine", and "mutual" list... or lists.  Hubby is responsible for shopping for his food and some of the mutual items.  I shop for mine and some of the mutual items.  I don't like it that way but the requirements make it necessary.

It means he has organic butter while I have regular butter, he has organic cream and I have Kroger (or Meijers), I do use the Kroger brand of organic milk as it is reasonably priced and he has almond milk, I buy organic veggies when they are reasonable for both of us but sometimes organic for him/regular old veggies for me.

We just can't afford organics for both of us unless they are reasonable... like bananas.  But his allergies and sensitivities require it when possible.  He also has to keep a chart of when he eats and what.

So for the pantry, I always try to keep a couple extra bottles of Colavita olive oil and when I open one, I put another on my grocery list. We both use olive oil. I do the same with non-GMO canola oil that my husband uses for everything and I use when making his granola.  I keep on hand a large container of regular canola oil for things like frying chicken.

I don't use organic flour but I do buy unbleached/unbromated King Arthur (yes, I know they have organic but it is very pricey).  However, I do buy only organic non-GMO cornmeal.  I keep extra King Arthur flour in the pantry, as well as at least one extra of all baking items... but I keep the bag of cornmeal in the freezer and usually just buy one at a time.

I only use local raw honey and we both can use that. I buy an extra jar here and a jar there from the Bee Lady at the Farmer's Market in season.  I use Splenda in my coffee and he won't touch it with a ten foot pole... but I don't cook with it.

I keep extra sugar, brown sugar, confectioners sugar, chocolate chips, etc. for baking since that is my love language.  I have the spiritual gift of cookies.  When I had my doctor's checkup last week, I described to him how I had found flash freezing the cookie dough ahead of time worked and how it kept me from eating frozen baked cookies.  But we both agreed it is too difficult to resist at least one warm chocolate chip cookie as it comes from the oven.  Sigh.  Yum.  Worth a little more insulin.

This was after I warned him that my A1C numbers may be a little on the high side after the Holiday cooking... and eating.  I like my doctor so much.  He talked with me about the challenges he knows I face being that rare person who contracts Type 1 diabetes in middle age.

I know this is more of a prose than a list but I think you get the idea.  We both have priorities of what we need at least one or two extra in the pantry.  Sometimes they are mutual.  We do the best we can but it takes a lot of thought put into buying at the best prices.

When we have extra income to work with, stocking the pantry with our various "must have" food requirements is always the priority.  We don't eat out much, choosing instead to focus resources on the food at home, but we have been known to enjoy breakfast at Cracker Barrel and Hubby does not worry if it is organic.  ;)

I still enjoy getting out for coffee and a scone at Panera or coffee at Starbucks.  Not often.  Enough that it is a lovely treat... much like a frugal luxury vacation that last an hour or so.

We've talked about what we would do if there was an End of The World As We Know It event.  We both figured we wouldn't worry much about organics, low carb, fresh veggies, etc. at that time.  Which reminds me, I should stock up on some chocolate and hide it from myself so it is there during TEOTWAWKI.

I hope that answers the question at least a little.  Of course, I'll continue to write about it but not in one blog post.   The real secret is this... you can stock up a little at a time even on a tight budget.  Perhaps you will not have a deep pantry (like I once did) that would take you through the Apocalypse but you can have enough essentials for a few weeks should you not be able to leave the house!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

I Finally Like My Family Room


Instead of a "My World" post, I thought I'd just share photos I took recently of my Family Room.  For the first few years we lived in this house, it was my least favorite room.  I kept tweaking it and trying a few different looks but it always came out bland.

Then one day... as I was looking at a photo of French doors in a magazine... I was thinking how beautiful they were.  Then I thought, "Wait, mine look kind of like that behind those ugly drapes!".  Wallah, down came the drapes and the beautiful woodwork was shown in its' glory and that was the beginning of the transformation.  About seven years ago...  so I'm slow.

But I like where it is now, kind of an outdoorsy meets cottage meets 1990s era furniture mixture.  But it works. 

The woodwork that was hidden by ugly drapes.  The blinds are at that level so Victoria can see outside the window.
Scene from the Lazy Boy recliner.  That is a feather tree on the mid-century corner cabinet.  Christmas clearance purchase.  But like so many Primitive decorative items, it looks good displayed all year long.
I just returned that lamp back to the Family Room where it belongs.
My daughter-in-law gave me the calendar for Christmas.  It is perfect there!
The vintage suitcases hold old Victoria magazines.
Our old sofa that has been through kids and teens and has pillows under the pillows.  But it works...  Love the rainbow
Where the Family Room meets the Kitchen.  The TV show is American Ride on the BYU Channel. 
My first piece of furniture, a hope chest that was a gift from my mother when I turned sixteen.