Saturday, September 24, 2016

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Chaos and Good Stuff

One has to be living under a rock to escape all the unsettling news recently.  I awoke this morning to news of another mall shooting, there are race riots in yet another city, and a broken pipeline sent the cost of fuel in the south sky high for awhile. 

Although I had to smile when a dear blog friend messaged me saying the first thing she thought of at that news was how I've been warning about possible disruptions in transportation affecting products getting to grocery stores.  Actually, that realization came long ago from Holly Deyo who believes it is not only a possibility but a probability some day.

Here at home I've been chipping away at my To Do list and getting quite a lot accomplished.  Just a little at a time.  This morning I told my husband that I don't think he realizes just how much I do get accomplished because I do it all so slowly.  ;)

Although it has been unseasonably warm this past week, cooler temps are again in the long term forecast and the calendar tells me the heat won't last forever.  So while the hose is hooked up to the spout in the back of the house, I spent some time yesterday giving the back windows and the windows in the French door on the deck a good wash down.  It is not something I want to do when it gets cooler.

When I returned to the house, I checked to see where Victoria was sleeping and fortunately she was on my bed.  I shut the door to keep her from escaping and was able to open the deck doors and take some Mrs. Meijer's honeysuckle window cleaner to them (after years of using it, I'm almost out!).  Just a small chore that took less than an hour total but one I'm relieved is complete.

This week while waiting for cooler temperatures to return outside, I also dedicated time to getting my new-to-me Study computer all hooked up and to complete the installations, downloads, uploads, and getting the computer to talk to the printer in the small home Office.  I'll share more about the story of the computer later this week but I am pleased to say I am typing this blog post on it while my Appalachian Hymns CD is playing music through the computer. Good Stuff, indeed.

As you know, I follow a few prepper blogs and listen to some alternative radio programs (the latter only when I get a chance and if there is someone I want to hear on a particular broadcast).  There is a whole lot of chatter going that people should have plenty of food and water in their house prior to the elections.  That would be a very good idea.

Once again, one does not have to stock up for the end of the world if that is not what God is leading you to do... but having extra of what we actually eat for at least a month or so is always wise.  

Think of the basics you would need and also think of food products that would be quick to make for those times the chief cook and bottle washer does not want to spend time assembling a meal.

I find it helpful at times to go to the grocery store when I'm feeling well and have more energy (usually in the morning) and just walk down the aisles to see what I could purchased at little cost that would be a great pantry food.  Some items like peanut butter and crackers are obvious, so are canned soups and canned protein (meat, fish, Spam... I actually like the Hickory style..., etc.), pasta sauce, salsa, etc. 

But there are other options.  For instance,  I always make homemade granola but sometimes I make a trail mix for snacking of peanuts, dried cranberries, and a cup or more of good quality chocolate chips... or if I'm really wild and crazy... M&Ms.  If I use them then I use less of the dried cranberries.  If I'm making a trail mix for my husband alone, I'll add more various kinds of dried fruit since he doesn't have to be concerned with balanced carb content.

I've gotten such good ideas from looking closely at items I can use just on grocery store aisles, some to purchase and others to make at home... like the trail mix.  I also look for pantry items elsewhere.  A dear friend sent me a Starbucks gift card (you know my love of pumpkin spice lattes!) and I used part of it for yummy coffee and some of it for their Via instant coffee to keep in the pantry. 

Like many of you, my budget is so tight it squeaks but I'm finding ways to add to the pantry.  A little at a time.  Here and there.  Everything helps, whether in an emergency situation or to stretch the budget by having on hand what we need without getting in the car and driving to the store.

The newscasts are a reminder that life is not what it once was here in the States.  It makes me remember the 1990s with nostalgia at how few huge news stories there were.  Boring... when it comes to news... is a good thing.  Sometimes I'll watch an old movie or TV show and think how it was made prior to 9/11 and how the world has changed since then.

Having said that... we are to do what God puts on our hearts, the work He has given each of us in these times, and then to cast our cares on Him.  He already knows what the future will bring.

Speaking of elections and all, if you are going to vote in the United States election and haven't registered, then time is running out.  I'm not going to write about politics or publish any political comments (since this is a Politics Free blog) but I am going to vote for the Party with a pro-life platform. A doctor suggested to my mother that she abort when she found out she was pregnant for me (in the 1950s!) due to her age.  I'm very happy she chose life.  Just saying...

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Berenstian Bears' Holiday Cookbook, a review

I'm a big fan of getting kids in the kitchen at an early age but I'm not always a fan of cookbooks for kids.  Many of them depend a lot on processed foods and unhealthy items.  However, this is a rare cookbook that is colorful, easy to follow, has a photo of each completed recipe, and many recipes are "from scratch". There are also some recipes using quick processed foods for it is a combination of both that most cooks use in their menus.

The recipes in the book are divided by Holidays, although they obviously can be made at any time of the year.  I have a couple recipes bookmarked to make and the only ten year old in the house is a cat.

Each Holiday has a very short Berenstain Bears story with a verse from Scripture.  For instance, Valentine's Day has "We love because he first loved us." 1 John 4:19 as the verse.  Most, if not all pages, contain colorful photos of characters from Berenstain Bears books which would make it especially enjoyable for young readers.

Some of the recipes are:
  • Lovely-Dovey Banana Bread
  • Easter Hat Panini
  • Honey Bear's Favorite Mashed Potatoes
  • Sparkling Raspberry Lemonade
  • Firework Fruit Explosion
  • Creepy Crawly Pasta Salad
  • Papa's Paw-Lickin' Good Chicken Wings
  • Caramel Apple Nachos
  • Gobbler Apple Muffins
  • Mama Bear's Turkey and Veggie Soup
  • Holiday Pinwheels
  • Winter Sweet Potato Soup
  • Accordion Potatoes
  • Christmas Pasta Bake
  • Bear's Christmas Cut-Out Cookies

This hardback, colorful, and fairly healthy cookbook is highly recommended.  For kids, parents, and Grammies.

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

Further information can be found... here.*

*Most links to are Associate Links.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

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

I've heard of so many people going through difficult times recently that I decided to repeat a former Sunday Afternoon Tea post.  For those who suffer, which is all of us.... First posted in June, 2015.

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, September 17, 2016

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Just pushing through...

This has been one of those weeks with a lot to do within a week of finite days and nights. When my daughter called this afternoon, I told her that I still hadn't started on my Saturday post.  Sometimes no matter how much we plan on doing something and want to get it accomplished... it still doesn't happen.

So today I'm just checking in as I push through the slowly chipping away of "stuff which needs to be done".  Although my conversation with her helped to put a lot in perspective as she was driving home from the house of a friend whose husband had passed away last night.  A man in good health.  An unexpected stroke.  Leaving behind a young family at age thirty-nine.

I was talking to my sweet pharmacist yesterday, as I was picking up one box each of my insulins.  I had just come from having coffee with my daughter-in-law and two month old granddaughter.  Mrs. Christopher and Piper had called a few days ago, asking if I wanted to be treated to a pumpkin spice latte.  Pumpkin spice and Piper cuddles... no need to ask twice.

I was sharing with my pharmacist how each day is like "icing on the cake", even if some days are harder than others when having to push through symptoms of chronic illness.  For I remember when there was doubt I'd make it through Christopher graduating homeschool high school and I was there for that event, for his college graduation, for his wedding, and to see Piper just hours old.

I was still here in late Spring when my New England family visited and as usual, was quite astonished at how everyone had grown in the past year.  It was worth pushing through fatigue to spend time with all the family that ten days we were together.

One of the reasons I am so adamant about deepening the pantry "in case of..." is that I am very aware that bad things happen to good people.  Like developing Juvenile Diabetes in middle age.  Like a young family suddenly losing their father at age thirty-nine.  Like losing a job or having to spend all of one's paycheck on an unexpected repair.

Stuff happens. 

So today I'm just chatting.  Nothing at all being said that one could write down in a list and take to the grocery store.  Instead just a reminder.  To budget for beyond today, to stock up a little at a time... and if necessary, to push through that next "gotta do".

Then fluff your pillow and find a place on the sofa and pick up that book you have wanted to read for ages.  Take care of yourself.  Life is a marathon... not a sprint.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Book Talk - The last part of September

From @coffeeteabooksandme Instagram

If you're thinking you missed the first part of September, you didn't.  I was just finishing up August a little late and reading three review books.  Two have been reviewed and one will be ready later this week.

To be honest, the week my foot was hurting a lot, I just wanted to veg out on TV movies and cooking shows.  It is much better although, I still have to check my foot everyday for signs of infection. 

Once the swelling went down, we knew there was no bone chip... just bruises.  I did make soup out of that chicken.

Now to books... I'm reading Shauna Niequist's latest because I like her books and Stephanie recommended it.  She took it with her to England when she and Elisabeth attended Sarah Clarkson's wedding in Oxford.

I've only read a few chapters but so far it is good.  She always writes with such honesty and this book is about losing her health because of everything it took as a successful writer to keep up with demands. 

I have chatted about Shauna's books with some CTB&Me readers, yes... she is on the liberal side of the Christian church but not so much it bothers me.  There are some authors I just cannot read.  Shauna isn't one of them.

I always read a couple Gladys Taber books each Fall.  This time I'm reading Still Cove Journal first.  It is the last book she ever wrote and while she did write the book, her daughter edited it for the final format due to her mother's sudden death.

I think this serves as the sequel to My Own Cape Cod.  If anyone knows for certain, you can leave a comment.  I love her writing so I'll be reading at least one more this Fall.  Which, for some reason, is the perfect time of year for reading Taber's books.

I'm finally reading Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry.  I have a few friends whose advice on books to read are always correct and each one of them loves Wendell Berry in general and Hannah Coulter as a favorite novel.

I tried to find a copy at the library but it was never on the shelf when I was there.  So I ended up purchasing a very inexpensive hardback copy third party on Amazon.  I haven't begun to read it but I'll let you know if my literary friends are correct once again.  I have read some of his poetry and essays and I did enjoy them very much.

If you have read this blog for very long, you will know I always pull my copy of Susan Branch's lovely Autumn off the shelf the beginning of September.  I love this book, it is my favorite of her "cookbooks" (which are a lot more than just recipes).

I don't know what is going on with this title.  She had a 10 Year Anniversary version which came out not long ago but it has to be out-of-print (the worse three words in the English language) for it is now going for over a hundred dollars on Amazon.

So, unfortunately, that means used copies of the original Autumn are still at least full price used. I've never seen this title inexpensive, even third party.

Quite a few people commented on the teacup when the photo was on Instagram.  Isn't it pretty?  My sister, Bonnie, was moving away a few years ago and brought that teacup to me as a gift. She used to own an antiques store and shares my love of everything vintage.

Books mentioned in this Book Talk:

Information regarding Present Over Perfect can be found... here.*
Information regarding Still Cove Journal can be found... here.*
Information regarding My Own Cape Cod can be found... here.*
Information regarding Hannah Coulter can be found... here.*
Information regarding Autumn by Susan Branch can be found... here.*

*Most links to are Associate links.  I thank you.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Raising the Remnant

My original five beautiful brilliant amazing grandchildren.

Recently I was watching the Franklin Springs DVD called Inherit the Land.  I hadn't watched it in ages, feeling perhaps it didn't apply to me anymore as I was no longer homeschooling... and I obviously do not live an agrarian lifestyle. But there was something within that pulled me back, causing me to want to watch the stories again.  Perhaps they do apply.  Even now.

The combined stories take less than an hour to tell but each one is the story of a family who made the decision to raise their children to love their God, their families, and the land.  Most were full time farmers or ranchers but a couple families were content to just grow most of the food they ate.  One of the latter two families was The West Ladies, whose DVDs so many of us enjoy.

There comes a time after the children are grown and raising their own families that one begins to forget their own decisions made at the beginning... perhaps even before the first child was born.  Watching the DVD... for some reason this time... caused me to recall how important it was to their father and me that they be raised mostly to love the Lord and to follow Him.

There came a time when I realized my mother's resistance to "church" was most likely due to the legalistic approach of many around her as she grew up.  I was always wary of my children viewing a walk with God as a set of rules.  No one ever fell in love with rules or a Book about rules.  One falls in love with a Person.

So there was an honest attempt to live in such a way that Jesus was very real in our lives, not a 2,000 year old story but living today.  Not as a set of do's and don'ts but as one we come to love and want to honor by living the life He wants us to live... then the do's and don'ts fall into place.

As I watched the families working together, I recalled the importance I placed on my children learning to love and appreciate the Beauty God has given us, even in this most fallen of worlds.  To learn to love real Beauty and not what the world says is beautiful, which sometimes can be the same and at other times is totally the opposite of God's idea of Beauty.

It was important to me that, at age appropriate stages, they understand there was a universal war between good and evil.  That the world's ways are easy and that road is wide and to choose Christ is to choose the narrow road... often going against the flow of society.

I think they were taught that to walk with Christ means you have to be brave.  To be people of honor.  To be people of integrity.  To be people determined to run the race without giving up.  To remain strong in their beliefs when even close friends may scoff at their decisions.  Sometimes the scoffing comes from Christians.

It was while watching the stories that it came to me.  I was raising the Remnant... or at least I had hoped and prayed they would be the Remnant as they grew up... those people who choose to live a life to honor God's Word instead of watering it down and giving into the ways of the world.

Piper at two months

My family is far from perfect.  I am far from perfect.  That sound you hear is my family agreeing to that with a loud "Amen!".  But the two households birthed from this one are everything I prayed for and more... for when one is raising their own children it is not easy to envision what the grandchildren will be like.  Amazing children.  Brilliant children.  Beautiful children.  But I digress...

I totally love both of my kids-in-law, the two I prayed for along with my own children since they were tiny.  I love their parents.  I love sharing the role of grandparent with their parents.   None of us perfect.  Far from it.  But Jesus is perfect.  When we lead our children and our grandchildren to Him, our own imperfections fade.

Recently, as I was reading the Word, I felt as if God was asking me if there was anything my soul desired... if there was anything I wanted.  I thought for awhile and told Him that I have everything I want.  There is nothing more I need.

How can I say this with all the health problems and financial issues and craziness that goes on around me?  My only request of Him so long ago was that I be faithful in raising children to love Him and walk the journey He has given each of them to walk.  Faithfully.  Beyond that... everything else is extra.

So... what if your family has strayed from that path?  I absolutely believe that there is no greater power on earth than the prayers of one who loves mightily and never gives up.  I have family members I'm still praying into the Kingdom. As long as there is breath, there is hope.  Some of the remnant are prayed in.  I know I was.

Further information on Inherit the Land can be found... here.*

*Most links to are Associate Links.  I thank you.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - What if the Manure Does Hit the Fan

October 17, 1962: U-2 photograph of first IRBM site found under construction

There have been many books through the years which deeply impacted my life.  However, there was only one chapter of a book which had that affect.  It was in the mid to late 1970s and the book was How to Prosper During the Coming Bad Years.

Howard Ruff was best known as an investments advisor but in this book, he included a chapter that had nothing to do with gold or silver or safe places for one's retirement funds.  The chapter was all about investing in food, water, and essential items... or what I now call deepening the pantry.

He tells the story of driving on a highway in the early 1960s when an emergency alert came on the radio, announcing what we now call the Cuban Missile Crisis. He stopped at the first payphone he could find, called his wife, and told her to get to the grocery store now.  He said he knew if he waited until he arrived home,  the grocery store shelves would be empty.

He was correct.  The grocery shelves were empty when he arrived back home.

Now, he admits to the irony of having to call his wife to stock up immediately.  He is a Mormon.  Their religion highly recommends members having a year's worth of food and essentials put back "just in case".

So... what would make a Mormon disregard this suggestion?  He didn't really think anything bad would ever happen that would require spending money on stocking up.  History tells us we were so close to nuclear war breaking out between the United States and Russia that it was nothing less than a miracle nothing occurred.  I'd say it was a miracle, God wasn't ready for the destruction of the world.

I was raised in a home where both of my parents had gone through the Great Depression.  My mother came away from that experience (as did many people from that generation) with a profound emotional need to keep the pantry as full as possible.  Not to mention a dozen or so cans of Aqua Net hairspray all over the house. So I was used to this way of thinking but that chapter still woke me up to... possibilities.

Perhaps because I have such vivid memories of the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Not the actual event, for I was only a child.  But memories of a recurring nightmare brought about by that event.  It is as clear today as it was when I was eight years old.

That one chapter started the additional research and reading which eventually led to becoming an Administrator of a section of a preparedness forum in the 1990s and eventually to writing to you each Saturday.  Pretty profound stuff, I'd say.  In only one chapter.

The title of this post is probably obvious to most readers, definitely to everyone who reads preparedness info.  It is a more ummm... ladylike?... version of When the Sh*t Hits the Fan.  Which is the preparedness way of saying... a real honest to goodness life changing crisis.

I can think of two such events which affected all of our country since the millennia began. The first was 911, whose "anniversary" we will remember on Sunday.  It not only changed the U.S. but the entire world.  The second was Hurricane Katrina, which directly affected the Gulf States but indirectly affected other regions of the country when there were shortages of various items.

Of course, it doesn't take a national emergency to be relieved one has food, water, and other essentials on hand.  While it is difficult to believe with the recent 100+ heat index days, the chance of winter storms are not too far off in the future for a great deal of this country.  Not to mention a multitude of other possibilities which could stop the flow of transportation of our food trucks.

Am I playing Chicken Little?  Well... yes.  Not to cause fear but to remind all of us... you and me... that there are all kinds of possibilities for cow doo doo to hit the proverbial fan.  Quite often with little or no warning.

There is a part of human nature which makes us reason this... if we don't prepare for an emergency then it will not happen.  Some odd section of our brain seems to think it is only when we are prepared that an emergency will occur.

Well, ask everyone who built bomb shelters during the Cold War if that is true.

What is Truth is this... we are living in dangerous days.  Even if one does not believe these are End of Days events as prophesied in the Bible, even then... one has to admit the world is crazy weird.

The leaders of Iran are not shy about saying they want to kill Israel and the United States.  Northern Korea's unstable leadership just tested another nuclear device.  ISIS is on the move and Russia is in the Middle East.  The fact that Russia is in the Middle East gives me shivers, not of fear but that the Lord's return could be near.

My friends, I don't want to cause fear in anyone.  I'm not afraid.  Oh yes, there is a little anxiety when I hear possible scenarios but when one reads the Word and talks to God and awaits His peace that passes understanding... that is the best anxiety reliever ever.

We are not to trust in our preparations.  We are to trust in God and His promises.  But if He gives us warnings, if He has been opening our eyes to what is going on in the world around us... if we take His warnings seriously as did Joseph and are obedient to those gentle nudges He has been giving to prepare the best we can with what we have... that obedience may be what helps you go through a crisis far easier than you would if you didn't obey.

Not everyone can do a lot but everyone can do a little... and every little bit of preparing for possibilities adds up over time.  Not peace in preps but peace brought about by the Prince of Peace and being obedient to what He is nudging you to do.

You know those nudges.  I don't have to tell you for you most likely have felt them from time to time.  Just a little here and there and if He wants you to do more... He provides.

These thoughts were inspired by a blog post.. here.  Interesting advice.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Hitting the Home Key

CTB&Me Instagram

The turn of the calendar brought with it cool breezes coming through the window as I washed the breakfast dishes.  I've been waiting for this day all summer long.  This cool down is temporary as heat returns on Labor day.  However, the calendar now shows the month of September so we are close to that which my heart longs.

I adore the Autumn months, so much that to me they are the true beginning of the Holiday season.  Especially those weeks when there is color everywhere I look and the forest shows off all her finery.  There is a great deal to look forward to in the coming weeks, once summer has let go of its' warmth for this year.

There is something about September that brings my thoughts back to home.  One may travel in the heat of the summer, to the lake or the sea or even perhaps a river flowing with the promise of tonight's meal.  It seems that just about everyone I know goes somewhere in the summer months.

Not so much once school begins, unless it is going somewhere to view the "color".  The cooler weather returns my thoughts to my kitchen as once again soup simmers on the stove and bread is baked in the oven and a throw is needed over my shoulders as I open the pages of a novel.

My preferred rereading changes with the cooler weather as I reach for a couple Gladys Taber books to leave on the coffee table and perhaps a Mitford novel that allows me to travel to a place I'd love to live with people who would make the most delightful... albeit interesting... neighbors.

It is a little early to purchase a rust colored mum for the porch if I want it to last through true Autumn.  While the calendar says September, the weather forecast brings us heat indexes well into the 90s.  There will be time for mums and pumpkins and Indian corn and the taking down of the box labeled "Fall Decorations" from the shelf where it has resided since tucking it away when the Christmas boxes came out.

This time of year held a bit of melancholia for my mother and the more years I have in the rear view window, the more my mother's melancholia slips in to my thinking.  I'm not sure why... perhaps it is the end of the season of growth... perhaps it is the falling leaves in the forest... we who have lived through many an end of summer know winter is on the way.

Even given that, we are on the cusp of my very favorite season.  One that brings such delights as pumpkin spice lattes (no, I haven't had one, yet) and the return of cinnamon and nutmeg and pumpkin and hot apple cider and apples and acorn squash and butternut squash and the other flavors best known during this time of the year.

The beginning of September always seems to cause me to come home in my thoughts.  It reminds me of when I had a laptop computer and the Home key was located in a place on the keyboard where I would occasionally hit it by accident.  Suddenly my typing was back at the beginning of whatever was being written.  I had hit Home quite by accident.

September is the calendar equivalent of the Home key in the days and weeks and months of my life.  Perhaps it is simply that the school year would always begin the day after Labor Day.  In my teen years, I couldn't wait until the September Back to School issue of Seventeen magazine could be found on the newsstands.  September was when we would get new clothes and new shoes and a brand new box of Crayola crayons.

These are but a few of many embedded memories that bring a sense of... coming back and coming home... thoughts of beginnings.

I may this week... regardless of what the thermostat says outside... pull a Taber book off the shelf, fill one of my red plaid Thermos containers with hot apple cider, play the George Strait CD in the van (for Country was the genre of music played at home), and find a cool spot under a tree to read and ponder and remember.

Remembering only the good stuff of home, family, dear friends, and how far God has brought us in His mercy and His grace.  Until that day He calls me... Home.  Maranatha.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Planning

I am absolutely loving this temporary cool down and wishing the heat wasn't returning tomorrow.  We are in for another blast of intense heat and humidity, which is not surprising after such a hot summer but made more bearable with the knowledge the season of coolness is just around the corner.

This week has been one that contained more planning than actually doing.  With the change of seasons comes yet another To Do list with everything being done a little at a time.  However, there was a change in plans from the "doing" to the "planning on doing" when I had a rather freak accident which left me limping.

For you see, I keep a few whole chickens in the deep freeze... each in an individual plastic grocery store bag.  That makes them easier to pull out if at the bottom of the freezer.  Well, as I was taking one of them out of the deep freeze last week, the handle of the bag broke and sent the (heavy) frozen chicken landing on my toes.

Ouch.  Note to self... double bag whole chickens.

The pain has subsided after a few days and the toes are turning a dark bruisy kind of purple... and the reaction from those who know what happened has been a mixture of concern and laughter.  It is not everyday one gets injured by a frozen chicken.  Which is now defrosted and will be turned into soup today.

All prayers are still appreciated as my doctor gets concerned over the slightest scratch on my feet and I can just imagine what he would say if he saw them now.  All that to say... life happens and plans change with a couple of days keeping the bruised foot propped.

Which also means my Procrastination List and Fall To Do list are kinda' merging.  Fall in this part of the world brings with it the undoing of what was planted in the spring.  The garden has mostly gone to seed except for cherry tomatoes.  I let the green beans dry to become seeds and everything else go to seed for the birds and butterflies and bees and everything else that appreciates it.

After the first frost, I will cut back and dig up the growth of the garden 2016.  Some of it to go in the compost bin while some of it gets thrown in the forest (nature's nearby really big compost pile).  It was so hot and humid this summer, there was more bug damage than usual and I really don't want those plants in the compost pile. 

The flowers on the deck are in various stages of dying so they are slowly being tossed in the forest.  As much as I love fall, it is always a regret to say goodbye to the deck flowers and plants.  This year we invested most of our flower budget on deck flowers and I must say it was worth it.  We will do that again next year.  God willing and the creek don't rise and all...

My outdoor list includes cleaning the porch (yet, again) and I've divided it on the list by doing the easy cleaning one day (including bringing in indoor plants) and that part of it which needs a deeper cleaning for another day.  Hubby is going to give the siding a good wash down after my part of the cleaning is finished.

I'm just beginning to write down the needed indoor fall cleaning chores.  That will include everything except the garage.  Fall is when I give the wood furniture a rubdown with lemon oil, getting them ready for the return of heat from the furnace.  We have a few pieces of furniture we bought through the years and quite a few nice inherited pieces that we want to keep looking good for the next generation. 

I'll not bore you with all of the list and I'm only writing about it as a reminder to all of us that regular seasonal maintenance is part of living the pantry lifestyle.  What we can keep well maintained usually means it either stops or slows down the need to replace it.

Now for a change of subject!  I'm on the launch team for Shaye Elliott's new book called Family Table.  I loved her first cookbook so I was happy to help spread the word about her new book.  

Family Table is a beautiful cookbook, she provided the ebook version to the launch team so we can view it before recommending it to you. It has yummy recipes with full color photos of the food and their farm.

Since Shaye is self publishing this book, she is offering everyone who preorders, through this coming Wednesday, free access to her Whole Foods Kitchen Course.  You can find more information on the product page of her website... here

Of course, this is not an Affiliate link.  At this time, she does not plan on making this cookbook available on Amazon.

NOTE:  There was concern in a Comment last week about me giving chili to a nursing mother.  No need to worry, my daughter-in-law knew the chili was coming and she already knew I'd never make anything for her that was spicy or had any sort of hot peppers.  She doesn't like these things even when she is not nursing.

Image:  Rooster and Four Chickens:

Thursday, September 01, 2016

An Amish Harvest, a review

This book is another volume of four novellas by Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller, and Vanetta Chapman.  This time all the stories are centered during the harvest season.

The four novellas are:

Under the Harvest Moon by Beth Wiseman
I liked this story because it opens with a subject I've never seen in an Amish novel, that of a husband who is physically abusive, as was the late husband of Naomi Dienner.  Her husband has been deceased for a few months and it is time for the crops to be harvested, so Naomi's father hires his friend who is "English" to help his daughter. 

This was an interesting story line and I would loved to have had it be even longer.  However, it is a novella and there is no time for long and drawn out relationships here. I was glad to walk alongside these people and wondered all along if it would work out or not.

Love and Buggy Rides by Amy Clipston
Janie Lantz is a new cashier at a store which gives buggy rides to tourists.  She witnesses an accident in which a car hits one of the buggies as it is turning into the parking lot.  Janie comes to know the Amish man who was driving and a deep friendship develops.

Will she tell the police that she witnessed the accident even though her father has forbidden it?  Makes for interesting reading.

A Quiet Love by Kathleen Fuller
I very much enjoyed this story about two "special" Amish people who are surprised to find another person who understands them and accepts them as they are.  The young man is autistic (high functioning) and the woman is extremely shy because she stutters.  Both have families who love them but who do not always understand them.

While it is obvious they come to care for each other, it is not a set in stone outcome that they will be a couple due to their special needs.  The story is excellent and some readers will recognize some of the characters from a previous novella by the author.

Mischief in the Autumn by Vanetta Chapman.
Martha Beiler is around forty years old and moves to Shipshewana to live with her aunt after her husband dies and she has to sell their farm.  She goes to work at the auction house and finds some strange goings on which she reports to her boss, who happens to be a bachelor.

This novella takes you through the solving of a puzzle that has to do with the history of Shipshewana. It is a story that people who love to solve puzzles will enjoy very much.  It is also fun to see how a confirmed bachelor learns to appreciate a middle aged woman with firm opinions. 

This is light reading and as the stories are fairly short, it is the kind of fiction one can read quickly and an entire day does not go by because you must know how the story ends.  Not that I would know anything about that.

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

More information about this book can be found... here.*

*Most links to are Associate links.