Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes... a review

I was interested in reading Victuals as soon as I saw the Publisher's description as, "an exploration of the foodways, people, and places of Appalachia".  The author, Ronni Lundy, was born in Corbin, Kentucky but her family moved to Louisville.  Which is where my interest came in.

My mother was born in the area just south of Louisville. While it is not officially part of the mountains, the food and culture is similar for the rural people of the state.

The author drove 4,000 miles through Southern Appalachia covering parts of Kentucky, West Virginia, southern Ohio, northern Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina.  What follows is a loving account of the history of this region through its food, its' culture, and the people who have lived in each area.

If you are only wanting recipes, this is not your book.  If you want a history of a region by food... this is the best book on the subject I've read.  The author's research is amazing and written as if one were reading a novel.  The photography is gorgeous, both of the food and the various locations.

It brought me to tears a couple of times.  For instance, the "recipe" for sorghum butter took me back immediately to my childhood when my mother whipped up sorghum and room temperature butter for biscuits and pancakes.  I could taste it as if I'd had them for breakfast that morning.

I highly recommend Victuals for those who want to learn more about southern Appalachia, the culture in each location, and the food.  This makes for great reading even if you don't know how to cook.

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

More information about Victuals can be found... here.*

*Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Ten Years of CTB&Me

This was my favorite header...

I type out the number and I know it is true.  For I was there in the beginning.  However, it is still difficult to believe this blog is now ten years old.  How the times have changed.  We had been living in our home less than a year and our elderly kitties, Sasha & Storm, were both alive.  They are now both at rest under the dogwood tree out back and Victoria is the reigning queen.

When I first started blogging, Christopher didn't have his driver's license and I was spending a great deal of time in the role of chauffeur.  He had just begun to take some classes at the Community College to round out what he was learning at home and at the homeschool co-op for graduating high school.  He was involved in fencing a few times a week and we both volunteered at the County library a couple times a month.

Stephanie had three very small children and I believe my son-in-law was still working as a professor.  We kept up through emails... which is how this blog came about.  I have written before that I once sent out an email a couple times a week to my daughter, two friends, and my late brother-in-law who would print it out for my sister to read.

Stephanie suggested I start a blog instead.  You know, one that would be only for family and close friends.  I didn't know what a blog was so she sent me a link to Amy's Humble Musings.  The rest, as they say... is history.

I remember coming up with the name for the blog as I thought of things I love like coffee and books and everything British (especially Tea Time).  Thus, the name... a play on the airline saying "coffee, tea, or me" (was that a 60s movie?).    I couldn't get everything in the title for I also loved writing about the pantry, which is what I did at my previous online gig, and there was not room to say anything about cats.  But both subjects were well covered in the past ten years.

Blogging has brought with it many wonderful memories and cherished friends.  I had written for a preparedness website before and made good friends there (who are still my friends) but blogging made it easier to just... ponder and chat.

Blogging helps writers become better at their craft and bloggers learn to develop a thick skin... although it is never thick enough.  But through the years I had to learn to not let comments bother me or to give up blogging.  More bloggers I have known gave it up due to comments than for any other reason. But mostly blogging is quite wonderful.

Long time readers will know my posts have been shorter and probably less wordy these past couple of months, especially the Saturday posts which require more research... but I'm slowly getting stronger.  Victoria is curled up close to me and I can hear my husband talking to himself in a nearby room.  Some things never change.  ;)

You have blessed me so much with your friendship, which is strong even if we have never met in person.  There are some of you I only stay in contact with once or twice a year and a few whom I email back and forth much more often.  Although do forgive me if I dropped the ball on emails and didn't respond again over the summer.

I'll continue writing as long as I can and as long as I know people are reading.  Blogging has changed tremendously over the past ten years and I am thankful for every comment, as we receive far fewer than we once did.  (Except for my friend, Vee.)  There are so many other places online for competition for those of us who have smaller blogs.  That being those of us who are for the most part, not professional bloggers (Amazon credit doesn't count).

I kept Coffee Tea Books & Me small on purpose and declined opportunities to expand. I want it to be just what it is... a safe place on the Internet for my friends and family.  Albeit a lot more friends then I think Stephanie ever envisioned when she suggest I take up this new thing called a blog.  ;)

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Time to take stock of Fall & Winter needs

One of my love languages... as far as showing love... is definitely cooking & baking.  So after a tough week for my son and daughter-in-law, when the baby was in the hospital for two days with a viral infection, I wanted to take something with me when we went over for baby cuddles yesterday.

Along with chili (which can be heated up at any time), I made a family favorite cheesecake with the cream cheese I had bought two months ago when it was on sale.  Don't you love how far out the "Use By" dates are on cream cheese?

When I was mixing the cheesecake batter, I used the last of the sugar in the kitchen canister so it needed to be replenished.  I was shocked to find only two bags of sugar left from when I stocked up last year.  I don't bake nearly as much as I once did but it still gets used faster than one would think. 

This was the second time recently that I was either completely out of something or near the end of my supply.  The other being old fashioned oats and while I knew I had used a lot of the bulk supply, I didn't realize I was using the last of it.

So how can such a thing happen?  It is easy when your pantry shelves are in the garage.  I don't restock most items until the very hot months of July and August are behind us and this year they were hotter than usual. So I tend to not keep a close eye on the few things I buy in bulk until September.

It is suppose to be hot again this week but cooler temperatures are just around the corner.  I know.  The squirrels burying nuts in the flowerpots on my deck tell me so.  This week I'm going through my list of essential pantry items again and making a stock up list, which will be put in order of priority. 

For instance, old fashioned oats will be at the top of that list... as will honey from the Farmer's Market.  I just opened the last jelly jar of last summer's honey purchase.  That was good timing but it only lasted a year because I didn't make as much bread as usual.  As I wrote previously, changes in our home life certainly affect the pantry.

I like to have everything I need in the pantry for our needs and to show hospitality so I don't have to run to the store.  Not to mention should the item be out of the current available budget.  For so many items, it is best to buy on sale and shop the pantry when needed (such as having cream cheese in the refrigerator for a third of the non-sale price).

These days I tend to take what I bake to people rather than have them to our place.  But the nice thing about a well stocked pantry (and having a few favorite recipes), is that the items we need to make a last minute meal or dessert are in the house (and garage), available now for putting together into something tasty.

Once it is cooler, I will be looking through the Rubbermaid style containers, old Tupperware canisters, glass jars, etc. and writing down what I'm getting low on before I run out completely as with the oatmeal.

I'm still wondering if there is a container somewhere that has extra oats in it... but that is the subject of another blog post.  Organization! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Amazon Associate's Program - How I earn credit

I've been asked again how I earn credit from the Associate's program so it is a good time to write it out again.  This time I'll make it into a Page under the blog header and keep it legal since I am required to remind you all of it constantly.

I earn credit a few different ways:
  1. When you click on a link to Amazon I've provided and make an immediate purchase.
  2. When you come back to the blog and enter your Amazon shopping by clicking on any link or on a product in the Amazon widget at the sidebar.  You do not have to purchase the item you click on to take you to Amazon.
  3. When you click on the Amazon Gift Card widget to either purchase a gift card or to reload your gift card.
I only receive a small percentage for each purchase but it adds up nicely.  Even small purchases make a difference as the more items are purchased through one's blog, the higher the percentage goes up. 

The most credit I receive (other than when someone make a BIG purchase that takes my breath away) from Amazon comes from the purchase or reload of gift cards through that widget on the sidebar.  Go figure.  I only put it there for your convenience and it has blessed me!

It costs neither of us anything but some extra time since you need to return to the blog before shopping Amazon.  It costs me time to set it up and keep it going but that's fine.  I don't want anything flashy on Coffee Tea Books and Me and Amazon is a good fit since they sell coffee.  And books.  And tea.

When I make a purchase with credit, I always go to a good friend's blog.  I think I'm probably the only one that has ordered Mountain House freeze dried pouches through her widget.

Once again, I thank you for taking the time.  It is a great blessing.  Oh, and while I know what is purchased... it never shows me who purchased an item.  So your purchases are quite private.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Life is not Instagram

So, I've already chatted too much about not feeling well these past few weeks.  I have to say when more sofa time is part of my day, I begin to notice some things about life that one can't when going about their regular activities.

For instance, the garden produces to the level that I cannot get out to harvest anything.  It is a new Truth of Life recently discovered.  I have also noticed that The Food Network, The Cooking Channel, and even PBS... they all could use some new cooking shows. 

I now know at what time of the day it is best to catch Tec the Tractor on the channel which is supposed to be for people who have babies and preschoolers (what can I say, it is filmed in Wales and so very cute) and what morning's PBS lineup I like best.

But what I really learned during this process is that one who must stay fairly quiet and in one place should not view Instagram in the Summer... or perhaps I should include Winter for Australia is in Summer mode then.  For it will make you believe that everyone else in the whole wide world is out vacationing at a beach, in the mountains, or at least in some really fun amusement park.

When you are trying to get up to make cereal for dinner, someone everyone on Instagram are showing photos of their latest locally grown and sustainable and organic gourmet meal.  In the best restaurants around the world.  Or their back yard.

I learned long ago that the contentment I feel towards God in general and life in particular has much to do with not comparing myself to others.  For I can always find what I'm looking for... if I want to look righteous then I know where to look for people with obvious sins.  If I want to feel miserable then I can always find someone who is more successful, richer, more attractive, and healthier.

As if I think God doesn't know what I am doing.  Hey Lord, look at them.  I'm better than them!  Hey Lord, I can write just as good as that person so why does she have yet another book on the Top Ten list at Amazon?  Ummm... God.  You do know that photo on Instagram shows exactly the place I've always wanted to go and never made it?

Where are you, God?  Why am I flat on my back and everyone else in the entire world is out there having fun and writing books and eating delicious meals in amazing places.  You obviously have either 1) forgotten about me, or 2) you don't care.  Sheesh.

But as I leave my pitty party brought on by comparing my lot in life to those with iPhone photos on Instagram... He opens my eyes to the millions upon millions of people suffering in this world.  Many of them love Him as I do.  Most suffering far more than I will ever suffer this side of Eternity.

For you see, if there is one thing the enemy of our souls knows will cause the average Christian to turn their backs on the Lord, it is in the simple act of comparing oneself to others... and it is rarely people who have it far worse than we do that the enemy brings upon our path. 

No... it is usually the person who has what we want whether it is as simple as a pizza made in some fancy backyard brick oven or a house decorated just in the style we love.  The enemy loves to have us compare our old car with the neighbor's new Porsche, even if our family would not fit in to such a small automobile.

We notice that he takes better photos than us and that we can never write as good as her and that her dress is made with expensive fabric and that their kids always behave and if they show one more Instagram photo of their new baby when you long for a child so much it hurts... the enemy knows how it affects you and me and us and all God's children.

So do you close your Instagram account and never go on Facebook?  Unfortunately, while it may add a lot more time to your day, it will never get rid of the human need to compare our life to another.  It has been going on since the days of Cain and Abel.

This Summer I learned how to battle the devil formerly known as Lucifer by doing something simple.  You know all about how the Lord told us to pray for our enemies?  Well, I learned to pray for those people posting pretty images on Instagram and be thankful for them.

For those I know either personally or have an Internet acquaintance... I pray for them as God leads.  The people I know only through pretty photos and I'm fairly sure don't know my Friend... I pray for their salvation.  For writers with new books and artists with gorgeous paintings and craftspeople with the most amazing works of art and people who get paid to cook coming up with the most delicious recipes... I thank God for their creativity.

A thankful heart cannot live in a bitter soul... or should I turn that around?  Bitterness will not be able to flourish in a thankful soul.  So thank God for what you have and know if you are able to read this on a computer or other device, you are richer than 99.9% of the world.  Even if your dinner is not Instagram worthy. 

When jealousy sets in, think of children whose homes have been wiped out by war and floods and fires.  Somehow it makes laying on a comfy sofa with one's fluffed up pillow and access to lots of books and beverages and flowers on the deck and a Maine Coon snoozing beside the sofa seem like Heaven on earth.

Artist: Susan Wheeler

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - With Low Energy

Thank you again for the kind comments and prayers, especially after I missed writing last Saturday.  Long time readers knew something was wrong.  Thankfully, it was just a flare up of symptoms more intense than usual so they left me sofa bound for a week.

Type 1 (Juvenile) diabetes is an autoimmune disease which brings on Hashimoto's disease as well.  Both affecting one's energy... and as I have lived with both quite a long time... the symptoms have worsened.  But I'm feeling a little better now, enough to get the basics of life accomplished.

Each time this happens, it reminds me all over again of how my pantry has had to be tweaked over the years due to illness.  I almost subtitled this "With a Chronic Illness" but then I recalled seasons of life when very low energy was not caused by illness but by periods of a very busy work load, lack of sleep, and for many... just growing older even if one is in good health.

Things are just harder to do when you don't feel well.  When my kids were still at home, I kept a Rubbermaid style container with a label taped on it saying "Cold and Flu".  It contained cans of chicken noodle soup (for I had read that the high salt content was particularly good for flu sufferers), crackers, tissues, cold medicine, cough drops, and other food items preferred when one is ill.

Since such illnesses usually came on suddenly, I was always glad to have them ready and in one place.  Whether it was for family members or myself, canned soup seemed to taste delicious when one is ill even though whole chickens are a priority for the freezer to make homemade chicken noodle soup most of the time.

I've had to make changes to everyday living as the years with an autoimmune disease have progressed.  My garden is set up to make planting and harvesting easier and we usually get enough veggies to help the budget, even though it must remain small.  This year I planted all bush beans for the first time and now I know why my garden expert friend said I should space their planting out... to also space the harvesting out.  There is always something new to learn.

My pantry has had to change, too.  Fifteen years ago I did all the cooking so I bought just about everything for the pantry.  Most of my pantry at that time was made up of basic ingredients for my cooking with a few additional easy to make items here and there.

These days, my husband makes all of his own breakfasts and part of his own lunch meals.  His has to be as organic as we can afford.  I can no longer spend hours in the kitchen as I once loved to do so my pantry reflects easier meals to put together.  Which is why I am so happy the hot weather season is soon to be behind us and cooler days return for the making of slow cooked soup, stews, and oven meals.

I have more spices than I once did to reflect changing tastes and to make simpler meals even tastier.  I've been known to throw a pinch of red pepper flakes in certain casseroles without my husband realizing there was a little spice added.  When I discovered sumac it was a very good day, the lemony spice used often in Middle East cooking (although I recently found out the same red berries were dried and used for spice in Appalachia... not the poison berries obviously).

My recipe card file reflects the change in health as the more complicated recipes are not made as often and when they are, I make the meals that are "do ahead" so the dishes can be washed and put away before a guest arrives.  I can still show hospitality but at a different speed.

Just this week, Christopher came to dinner when his wife was out of town to visit her parents.  I made one of his favorite cheesy casseroles, fixing the ingredients ahead of time while watching a Finding Bigfoot marathon.  The kitchen was clean and the casserole in the oven when he arrived.  Rather than clear the dining table and set it with pretty dishes as I love to do, we ate in the family room while the guys discussed sports.  It worked fine.

Hmmm... is it odd that my grandchildren think of their Grammie whenever anything about Bigfoot is around.  I'm certain it cannot be strange that I would get so excited that a Finding Bigfoot marathon was on that I didn't know about.  But I digress...

My Emergency Pantry has changed through the years, too.  I always have the basics like rice but now I use converted rice instead of brown rice since I can't use it as often and brown rice spoils quickly (my freezer doesn't have enough space for a lot of brown rice).  Thanks to a friend, I have a container of dried eggs for an emergency and I've used Amazon credit for dried milk.

I have some wheat to grind but I do so far less than I once did since I don't bake bread as often.  So I don't buy the large bags of wheat that were once essential.  I've always had canned fruit and veggies but they are even more important now to make quick meals.  Canned beans have become more important for last minute meals.

The biggest change is the purchase of some freeze dried meal pouches for the grab and go bag that can also be used to grab and stay.  I have used Amazon credit to purchase some and I know that during an extreme emergency, we could eat by just adding boiling water.  So they are worth spending the money (in this case credit) to have these options.

Viewing the floods and fires on the news recently, it is once again a reminder that having a grab and go bag is very important.  Something prepared and where you know to find it without thinking... and practicing to grab and go!

When our house was hit by lightening, I called 911 and grabbed Victoria.  I didn't think about the important papers even though I had them in a container ready to go. I didn't think about our food or kitty food or anything but getting out of that house.  But those ponderings are for a future Saturday post.

Sorry for the rambling but my computer time is limited today so what you are getting are my thoughts on the subject rather than very much that is specific.  I'll be back with some more specifics at another time.

Remember, don't ever think it is too late to put back even a little at a time.  Whatever you can do to prepare for an emergency is better than nothing.  A good pantry with some food, water, and necessary supplies keeps you from being a victim.  A pantry will save you a lot of money and time as you learn to purchase items on sale or at a great price and shop the pantry when an item is needed.

Image:  Three Hens with Coop

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Greater Than Gold: From Olympic Heartbreak to Ultimate Redemption, a review

I've been curious as to what brought David Boudia to follow the Lord after the 2008 Olympics. This is that story and so much more.  It reads like a novel but it is the true story of how his quest to be the best almost ruined him.  It is also the story of redemption.

He shares the good, the bad, and the ugly of what it takes to be a world class athlete.  Once I started reading, I could not put the book down.  For his journey after becoming a Christian was not easy, there were many ups and downs and even though one knows the outcome... the reader is left on the edge of their seat wondering what happens next.

This book is an essential read for the young Christian athlete who struggles with living in a world that makes walking with Christ difficult.  It is an excellent book to give to any young person who needs an honest hero.  It should be read by every parent, grandparent, coach, youth pastor, and college pastor who may think their influence is not important.

I highly recommend this book.  At the time of this writing, Boudia and Steele Johnson have won a silver medal in synchronized diving in Rio.  He will also be diving for an individual medal.

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

To check out this fantastic book, click over here.*

*Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Life in Grayscale

Grayscale - a range of gray shades from white to black,
as used in a monochrome display or printout.

Thank you to everyone who was concerned about my week long absence.  Each day I thought I'd write a blog post but the combination of intense heart/humidity and not feeling so well made writing impossible.  Especially when the computer was only available in the evening when my brain doesn't function well, anyway.  ;)

Normally I can work through symptoms and get on with the day's activities as long as they are in the house, in the garden area, or a short distance away.  But it didn't work that way this week.  Such high humidity can be felt in the house even when the air conditioner is set to 75 degrees.

I constantly choose to focus on the good, the colorful, the Art of living life to the glory of God.  While I don't always break through the ribbon at the goal line each day, at least there is that goal to work towards.  

When we stop running (or in this case... walking) toward the goal then the enemy of our soul tends to succeed in whispering defeat, which turns into feeling sorry for oneself, which can lead to comparison with other people, and that always ends up in bitterness and discontent. 

There is a reason that in the Letters to the Churches, Jesus promises gifts to those who overcome.  Which should tell us there is much to overcome in this life.  Thankfully, for most of us, there are no huge battles every day of one's life.  Mostly it is the little foxes nipping at our heels that wear us down in between great battles.

But my thinking tends to wander to the Christians who suffer greatly for their faith in other countries.  For many of them, the battle rages daily but the strongest Christians tend to come out of those lands of intense persecution.  God gives the amount of grace each of us needs in our situation.

The title of this blog post comes from a thought which came to me this week when I was feeling particularly dreadful.  I told God that my world at the moment appears to be lacking color. It reminded me when I print out a page which is colorful and I don't want to waste the colored ink... so I change the printing option to grayscale.  No color.  Black and white and shades in between.

Sometimes grayscale is beautiful.  Stephanie's wedding photos were mostly in grayscale and the images today remind me of that magical (Narnia magic, of course) day when the wedding party and parents walked through a grove of woods to the small chapel and one felt as if a couple hundred years had slipped away.  

In many ways, each of us has the ability to choose between color and grayscale just as Stephanie chose for her photos to be in black and white.  Now, I admit that there are some who... for medical reasons... have great difficulty finding their way back to color.  They need healing, whether directly through prayer or a combination of spiritual, emotional, and medical assistance.  Most often it requires all of this as well as a great deal of love and grace. 

But for others... for instance, my own recent struggle with limitations... there is a choice available.  Not an easy choice for when one feels weary physically, when there is a struggle to do the most basic of daily To Do's, when the brain is fuzzy and sitting is all one wants to do... then the choice is a battle of sorts.

However, unlike one who needs medical assistance to even begin to return to  normal... those who are weary in the journey of life and that which has been given them to overcome... we can still choose to run or walk or perhaps even crawl our way to the finish line.

The Bible tells us there is a "cloud of witnesses" cheering us on as we live each day towards our final breath.  While there are theological discussions about just who they are and if they actually see us physically or if spiritually they "sense the race"... I still like the idea that someone is cheering the Church to the ultimate goal in Christ.

Hebrews 12 continues to tell us we are to "run with perseverance the race marked out for us".  What is our goal... or rather Who is our goal?  It goes on to say it is Jesus.  Some translations say He is the author and finisher of our faith.  I like that best.  Being bookish and all.  Jesus was and is and evermore shall be the author and the finisher of our faith.

That is why peace is a Person.  Why Christianity is not a religion but a relationship.  It really is all about a god... the God... who became like one of us to live a perfect life and win back legally the Keys to the Kingdom... and has restored to His Creation the ability to return to a relationship with Him.  One just has to accept Jesus as who He is, that He is the One True Way back to that relationship with the Father.

Ponder how amazing it is that we have a God that not only comes beside us as we walk on this fallen sod that is Earth but the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us.  I don't know about you but no matter how I feel physically... there is a lot of wonderment in that Truth.  

Am I feeling better? Not so much at the moment.  But I'm not quitting even if I have to slow down for awhile.  I can almost see the goal line.  I've come too far to quit... and so have you. God left Heaven so that He could be our finish line.  How could one ever give up?

Thank you for caring.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Highways and Interstates

There exists a narrow road close to my home which curves and winds through the forest and ends up at the stoplight on the highway.  One must pay attention while driving this road as there are many more vehicles that travel on it these days than intended when the road was cut through the forest.

I was pondering recently... while carefully watching for oncoming cars as I drove around a sharp bend in the road... how different the situation is with the country road and the highway it intersects at the stoplight.

The increased amount of traffic on the narrow road is due to the building of stores and businesses on the highway.  However, the highway itself has less traffic than it once did.  For when I was a child, this highway was the route most locals took to Chicago.

Once the Interstate system was completed, fewer travelers wanted to drive the 55 mph scenic route which takes one by corn fields, prairie grass, small towns, and these days numerous windmill farms... now that there was a faster route in an increasingly rapid paced world.

In the interest of full disclosure, the narrow road is the one I take to my favorite mega grocery store so I'm not without an appreciation of progress.  Nor do I completely dislike the Interstate system as it gets me to my family in New England far faster than would a country highway.  However, I would choose to drive the highway over the Interstate any other time.

For faster is not always better and there is something to be said for 55 mph highways.

I've been writing about this anxiety in my spirit, that feeling that something is off-kilter.  I'm not alone as many of my favorite writers are talking about the same thing.  There is so much bad news, the headlines assaulting us more often than our spirit can keep up with them.

I am told when one first moves to certain areas in California, they can feel the small earthquakes which happen regularly and the people who grew up there don't appear to notice them at all.  It is not until buildings shake that native Californians feel the anxiety that those who did not grow up in earthquake territory experience more often.

I'm thinking that is what is going on in my life... our lives... at the moment.  We are feeling the small rumblings.  Most of us are not used to the bombardment of such bad news day in and day out.  There are more big shakings that rattle our everyday existence, not unlike the skyscrapers in Downtown LA.

My husband, curmudgeon that he is, complains often about the way the world is today.  As if by muttering and complaining it would change things.  But that is what card carrying curmudgeons do you know. I often remind him that this is what the Bible said the days (years) before the return of Christ would be like and that we are told to "look up" for "His redemption draws nigh".

It may briefly cause him to stop mumbling but I do realize that spouting Bible verses alone does not always bring peace in the midst of turmoil. There must be something I can do to make stable the ground underneath my days.

My soul was not meant to bear such a weight of grief as my eyes see and my ears hear through the various forms of media available to the average household.  

I think most of us function best on the slower winding roads of life and the world throws at us news at the speed of light.  We are connected electronically to just about anyone but are we connected to someone... and to Someone?

I think of the difference between the New York Toll Road we take to see our New England family and the Blue Ridge Parkway we drove on our honeymoon to Virginia.  Although New York is a beautiful state, most of what we see are the stop off gasoline/food/restroom areas that look pretty much alike except some have a Starbucks and others don't.  (My daughter knows which do...)

However, on our honeymoon, when we left Asheville, we decided to get off the Interstate for awhile and drive the Blue Ridge Parkway to get a close up view of the mountains.  Oh, my... all these years later and I still recall the beauty of the mountains.

We stopped for lunch at a tiny restaurant tucked away in an equally tiny mountain town.  Neither name can I remember but I do recall that meal... both my husband and I still talk about it.  For they served us trout which had just been caught from the creek "out back" that morning.

We have driven the New York Toll Road numerous times but I honestly can't remember anything we ate and my recollection of the foothills of the mountains were from a distance.  But the mountains of North Carolina... imprinted in my memory for the ages.

What was the difference?  The speed of the trip.

So I'm still pondering how to slow my days so the weeks and months and years make sense.  One does not have to leave home to live life in the fast lane.  No... whenever we turn on the computer, the iPad, the smart phone, etc. we are connected to the fastest lane in of our life... the World Wide Web.

That is where the craziness of the world comes into my home most often.  It is through the lens of the flickering machines that the turmoils begin again in my soul... as I watch the reports of what men can do to each other and the planet.  The ground beneath me seems unstable more so each day.

I truly understand that to make sense of the world, I need to remain connected with the One Who Created it.  In my very soul, I know the only way to stand firm as the world rumbles in despair is to run to The Rock of My Salvation.

I need to get off the Interstate and take the byroads and the slow winding roads and those which meander through forests and by cornfields and around mountains and to look for the places that refresh the anxious heart.

Everyday I have a decision and you have a decision and we decide how much of the world we let in.  If we work in a job which requires we jump right in to the midst of the chaos... He gives grace.  But if we have any sort of filter available at our discretion then perhaps we need to set aside Facebook and read a book (a nice, long book) and obviously The Book. 

We need to pick green beans.  To water flowers.  To walk beside the river or the lake or the ocean.  To pet a cat or a dog.  To hug a child. To bake bread or soup or something else requiring time. To listen to the sounds of the forest. To listen to the sounds of a great city.

To listen to something which does not need to be plugged in and charged.

I am trying to rearrange my schedule each day so I don't get caught up by some sort of electronics first thing in the morning.  There is a time for such and an importance in my days.  But I'm trying to make it of a lesser importance.  Something I control that does not control me.

I need a firm foundation, the return of slow to my days, to get off the Interstate and back on the side roads.  Still working on it.... but at least I'm heading in the right direction.  Realizing that need is the first step on the slow road.

Image:  Blue Stove

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - The Procastination List Once Again

You may remember when I spent a few weeks (or more) on my Procrastination List.  I wrote down everything I could think of that needed to be accomplished.  Some items on the list were only mildly necessary while others were of a more extreme (and quite late) importance.

Well, I realized this past week that another Procrastination List was necessary. For I have been putting things off for various reasons.  Some were prudently cast aside during hot weather... and will wait for cooler weather to arrive permanently.

While others were hidden in that deep recess of my brain where I tuck away things to do that I am avoiding.  They usually require either 1) a phone call to a person or company I do not know, 2) dealing with a difficult person, or 3) both.

Thankfully, this time the only items such as these were on the list because they required a phone call.  Except for a couple of good friends or my family, I dislike talking on the phone.  Which is amusing since I spent a great deal of time on the phone when I worked outside the home.

I am in the process of writing down another list of Stuff that Needs Done and Done Now... or Soon.   Finding a new optometrist that my insurance covers is at the top of the list since my prescription has changed.  My former doctor moved away from town and I really liked her.  But I have an If You Give a Mouse a Cookie thing going because I need new glasses before I can see the retinal specialist and I must have that checkup so I can report the results to my primary physician.  Sheesh.

While some items that are on the list are those I've put off doing for one reason or another, others are seasonal chores which pop up as we are entering late Summer.  I'm also looking around the house to get an idea what needs to be added to the list.  I really should be organized like Martha (Stewart, of course).  She has a large calendar where she writes seasonal To Do's that must be done on or around that date.  Great idea if one puts it into practice.  But I keep putting it off.  Maybe that should go on the list.

The above photo was taken after I had looked around the Study for chores to add to the list.  It was so easy that I did it immediately.  You see... when my mother-in-law passed away, my husband brought home a lot of her vintage linen.  However, most of them had to be thrown away.  They fell apart when taking them out of the box.

I found out that this is what can happen if one never actually uses their vintage linens.  So about once a year or so, I wash my collection of vintage tablecloths in warm water on the gentle cycle.  It not only protects them from permanent crease lines but they are clean and ready for use should I do more than display them on a shelf.

So... what happens when one drapes them over their rocking chair before they get a chance to fold them and put them back where they belong?  Someone in the family... no names given but she is the only one with fur... made them her new napping place.

I hate to admit it but I left them there for a week since they made her so happy... and I had to rewash them before they were folded and put away.  She was not at all happy but you know, fur and food don't exactly mix well.

But that is the kind of seasonal-ish chores which are going on the list.  I'll be writing down more this week including a few long term procrastination Gotta Do's and quite a lot of seasonal chores.

One thing I did accomplish this morning, while I could take advantage of the computer being available, was adding the Chocolate Syrup recipe to the Recipe Blog.  You can find it... here.

In answer to a question, I think the link where I printed the above chalk art from is... here.  Mine is a little faded since it has been out on the porch all Summer.