Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sunday Afternoon Tea - God's October Love

There are those who must live close to the ocean to fill their soul.  Others need a mountain view.  As for me, I need trees.  Lots of trees.  Perhaps a cornfield here and there and a barn to pass by but mostly... trees.

This afternoon, I took a mug of hot apple cider and my Bible out to the front porch just to sit on the bench, to enjoy the seventy degree air and the view.  This has not been what one would call a "good color year" for there has been too much rain and too many very warm days this Fall.  But even if it isn't great color... it is good enough.

I sipped the hot apple cider and watched leaves raining all around as the occasional gusty breeze was felt in the forest.  The leaves, mostly dry and brown and brittle... but watching them as they let go gracefully and fell to the ground brought to mind a lesson that perhaps we shouldn't hold on to this world too forcefully when it is our time to rain. 

I was entranced by the October forest.  Thankfully, before I decided to sit on the porch, I had washed the breakfast and lunch dishes and all I had to do today was to write this blog post.  But it couldn't quite reach from my thoughts to the keyboard.  Not yet. 

I knew what I wanted to write.  About how each October the changing of the leaves remind me of how much God loves us.  What He has in store for us someday.  For there... beneath the shade of green... He has hidden brilliant colors of burgundy and gold and chartreuse and bright red and sometimes a mixture of them all.

Each Autumn, after the heat of the Summer and before the frigid Winter winds hit the forest... He gives us the most glorious explosion of color.  Even on those years such as this when it is subtle, there is a dull faded beauty to it all.

He didn't have to design the seasons this way.  But He knew that when the trees become but sculptures... silhouettes of black and grey and every shade in between against the white of snow... we would remember Autumn.  When Spring arrives again and life returns and flowers bloom and the trees regain their leaves... we know the color awaits.

As I sipped hot apple cider from a favorite mug and gazed at the scenery... the forest which is half as thick as it was last week... my neighbor's red barn now in sight as the trees between us have lost their leaves... the squirrels rustling around to store their food for the cold days... the scent of the forest and somewhere someone was burning leaves... I felt Him near.

How could I not trust Him in the days to come when every year... before the frosty winds blow from the North... He puts on a show for the senses.  Every October He reminds us that there was color there all the time.

We just have to have a little faith, about the size of a mustard see so He told us when walking this earth.  Not a whole lot... just a little... enough. He just asks that we believe what He said and that we trust when He tells us it all works out in the end.

Right now our life may look like this year's forest, rather battered by the heat and the rain and the wind.  We feel as lifeless as those brown and brittle leaves.  But He is there and as we look around we will trust that there is color left and life and hope and answers to prayer. 

It has been there all along.  The lesson He provides each October.

Image:  Ducks Unlimited:  As Good as Home

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Using the pantry

We have been a little tighter than usual the past few months as far as our grocery budget and it has proven a valuable lesson in eating out of the freezer and the pantry shelves.  I always learn lessons from these times the pantry is essential for most meals instead of a supplement.

I now remember that we really like Annie's Mac & Cheese in its' various boxes, that whole chickens and ground beef in the freezer are worth their weight in gold (and I can attest that frozen chickens have weight), and one needs to remember to label white pails so one knows which is old fashioned oats and which holds the emergency kitty kibble.  Just saying...

Once you are using your pantry a lot, it also offers the nudge one needs to finally do some more organizing.  The large bag of pinto beans from Sam's Club has now been poured into a gallon size glass jar and a half gallon Ball jar.  The half gallon size will be kept on the bench behind the Lazy Boy in the family room, along with popcorn, semi sweet chocolate chips, and milk chocolate chips (also from Sam's).

I've been experimenting with more meatless meals for a year or so and now that we are in cold weather cooking mode again (Hallelujah!), I'm going to be making more bean soup.  Last night I cooked one of our favorite meatless meals... albeit probably not the healthiest.

Earlier in the day I caramelized three large onions because if you have to babysit the skillet for thirty or more minutes... you may as well make extra for later.  About ten baby potatoes were boiled and set aside for later when they were cut in half and sauteed with the onions, served with a small can of Bush's baked beans warmed up.  Who missed the meat?  We didn't.

I had one can of pumpkin left and decided it would make one pie (which Hubby has been asking for) or my recipe that makes two large loaves of pumpkin bread.  The bread was made this morning with a cup of chopped pecans that needed to be used soon and a cup of chocolate chips from the Ball jar in the family room.  One of the loaves was cut into for lunch, the other double wrapped and will make its' way to the deep freeze eventually.

As I wrote recently, I've also been thinking of Christmas gift baskets that cost less.  One item I love to give (and receive) is tea.  I'm certain that shocks everyone but hey... it's true.  ;)

I especially like to use foil wrapped teabags for gift bags and gift baskets since they last a long time and the recipient doesn't feel they have to use them right away.  So I was very happy when one of my favorite teas was made available as individual bags in foil.  I love Paris tea but up until recently, it was only available in a pretty tin with sachets that made two cups of tea.  Now Amazon has it in single serve.

I wasn't sure if teabags would taste as good as the sachets, which have whole leaf tea inside.  So I ordered a box a few months ago with credit (thank you!) and I couldn't tell the difference.  I'm always telling people about Paris tea and now I can easily tuck two or three in a gift bag for those who may not want to brew more than one cup.

Yes, I'm thinking of Christmas gifts!  I actually do all year round since we have three birthdays from Thanksgiving-ish to Christmas, too.  My "little bit at a time" way of doing things is good for housework, yard work, and budgeting.

I'd love to know how others prepare for Christmas a "little bit at a time".

Items mentioned in this blog post

A box of 50 Paris tea in teabags... here.*  (Delicious)

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

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Book Talk - Late-ish October

Photo at night, with a candle.

I'm late writing a Book Talk this month for a few reasons.  First, I've been reading a lot of review books.  Second, I have read one novel and started another with both being major disappointments.  The first I threw into a bag for charity and told my good friend that I had promised it to that she wouldn't want it.  Believe me. 

I really don't like it when the premise of a book is unique and promising and then it is ruined with a lot of really bad language (I can handle swearing here and there but not like this) as well as the main character having a couple illicit relationships... in detail.  The second book that was promising ended up being so boring, I gave up after awhile and it also went in the bag to charity.  Too many books to read to finish boring books.

Photo: Amazon

So what am I reading?  I think I mentioned last time that I was reading Hannah Coulter after so many people recommended it.  It was a September read but worth a mention here as everyone was correct... it is amazing.  It will be on my list of all time favorite novels.

I don't know how a man (Wendell Berry) can write so well from a woman's perspective.  While I enjoyed the book as I was reading, it is the way he brings it all together in the end when Hannah is an old woman that I think makes it particularly beloved by so many.

Further information about this book is... here.*

Photo: Etsy

My second Gladys Taber book of the season is The Best of Stillmeadow: A Treasury of Country Living.  This book, from 1976, was edited by Taber's daughter and provides sections from seven of Taber's books which she believed were the best representation of that particular book.

It also contains an Introduction by her daughter, telling from her viewpoint the day Gladys and her best friend arrived at Stillmeadow with a car full of kids.  This is an excellent book to get to know Taber's writing but it is also one that is pricey because there is a demand.  I think this was one I found at the thrift store.  Cheap.  Always a good thing.

More information on this book at Amazon is... here.

Photo: Amazon

Mrs. Griffin Sends Her Love and other writings by Miss Read is a very unique Miss Read book, published in 2013, also put together by a daughter (Jill Saint) and an editor (Jenny Dercham).  I love the Miss Read books so I was very interested in this book which contains some of her shorter writings as well as essays and letters.  In one of these, she explains how Miss Read was created.

I'm enjoying this, especially as I can pick it up when I have time and read either a longer story or a short essay.  Fans of Miss Read (Dora Saint) will love it.

More information about this book is... here.*

Photo: Amazon

The Great Good Thing is a book I'll be reviewing next week, probably on Thursday.  The subtitle is A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ.  It is a fascinating memoir of how a well known author, Andrew Klavan, came to Christ in middle age as he was drawn to Him not so much by individuals but through great literature.

I'm about three-fourths of the way through it and spoiler alert... I will be recommending it.  ;)

Further information about this book is... here.*

Photo: Amazon

Okay, another spoiler alert.  Mimi Thorisson's long awaited second cookbook is set to publish on Tuesday, which is when I will be writing an official review.  But I can say here that French Country Cooking is one of the most beautiful cookbooks I've ever seen. 

If you like her blog, Manger, you will already know the magnificent photography on the blog and in the books is mostly by her husband who is a photographer.  More next week!

Further information about the book is... here.*
The link to Manger is... here.

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted, a review

What would happen if you achieved your dreams and realized this is not what God had in mind for you all along?  This is the story of Shannan Martin (formerly Flower Patch Farmgirl) and her husband and the process of leaving their dream farm and dream job for "the other side of the tracks".

It is the story of building a family through adopting babies and one unlikely adopted teenage son.  This journey was inspired not only by circumstances but as they felt God was leading them to a different way of life and to different dreams.

I found the story very good and encouraging for those who feel God is leading them to a different way of life in order to serve Him better.  I loved the book although I got bogged down in the middle for awhile, feeling like I was hearing the same thing over and over. 

It may not have seen that way to other readers but if the author was a close friend sharing her story over coffee, I would tell her that she has done a wonderful job of sharing where she was coming from but now I want to here what comes next. 

She does reach that point in the latter part of the book and I found myself turning the pages to see what happens next.  I am hoping another book will be written down the road which shares how God uses them in the neighborhood and how He works even further in this unique assemblage of people who have become a family.

While God does not call everyone to sell their dream home, adopt a lot of kids, or work with prison inmates... we can all be inspired when we read Falling Free to ask God if we are on the right journey and to give us wisdom if our dreams are not lining up with His destination.

I received Falling Free from the publisher for the sake of review but the opinions are my own.

Further information about this book can be located... here.*

*Most links to are Associate links.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sunday Afternoon Tea - A House Divided

"If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 
If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand." 
Mark 3:24, 25 (MEV)... 
and quoted by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.

Today's ponderings are different than the usual Sunday Tea chat.  They were inspired by an Instagram chat with a person I admire, whose writings are poetry even when they are in the form of prose.  She leans a little toward the left and I lean more toward the right when it comes to politics... but we are both grandmothers who care deeply about what is happening in our country.

I wrote in that discussion that I wasn't comfortable discussing actual political issues on Coffee Tea Books & Me as from the beginning I wanted it to be a place of safety, a respite in this stormy world in which we live.  However, that conversation sparked thoughts which I admit have been on my mind and hopefully have found their way to the keyboard.

I have prayed often about this post, asking God to give me grace filled words to write about... grace.  

I have seen division in the Church before but usually having to do with doctrine... having accepted Christ in a friend's Wesleyan church, spent my early years and cutting my theological teeth in an exceptional Presbyterian church, and later attending an  Assembly of God church.  But never as I have this year. There is a civil war and it has reached the Church.

Francis Schaeffer wrote a book long ago called The Mark of the Christian.  It is a short book with a vital message that is two fold.  First, the "mark" of the Christian is a love for those inside and outside of the Church.  Second, that the world has a right to judge the Church when we do not show that same love to teach other.

He has written in various works that one of the regrets he took into his older years were the arguments that broke out between the very liberal European Christians and the more conservative Christians (which he was one).

At the time, he felt the arguments were important but as he looked back he realized they did more to hurt the cause of Christ than to change fellow Christian's minds about the subjects at hand.  For they distracted from the message of Christ, the Savior and Redeemer.

Today the damage can be far worse than Schaeffer ever imagined.  For in the 21st Century, we have the Internet.  We now are accosted daily with drive-by vicious comments to people we don't know and by people we don't know.

People leave comments from their keyboard which they would never ever say to a person face to face!

Where has this hatred towards the ideas and opinions expressed by those different from us come from?  I am fairly certain that the seeds of dissension were planted by the media, TV shows, and movies over the past decades.  We are now seeing the ugly fruit in full bitter taste.

We have let the media (and whatever you think, you have to admit the greatest percentage do not like conservatives in general and conservative Christians especially) redefine who we are down to the very words we use.

As an example, if a Christian is against abortion they are defined as one who hates women.  If a Christian believes the Bible is against homosexuality, they are defined as haters.  If a Christian believes in a strong military, they are for killing children in foreign countries.  I think it is in the book 1984 that the meanings of words were changed as they are today?  Chilling...

We want to save babies but we love the mommies and pray for them.  What led them to this difficult decision?  Our hearts break for them.  We believe the Word does not adhere to homosexuality but we love the person.  God loves the homosexual as well as the straight man or woman who has fallen away from Him. 

We believe in a strong military because we are aware the world is a dangerous place.  War is not good but neither is being overtaken by the enemy.  It is said that the next World War will be the last war... ever... and mothers and fathers and grandparents and aunts and uncles all over the world pray for peace but know it can happen only with the return of the Prince of Peace.

I know the Church is far from perfect.  I mean... way far from perfect.  We have a stretch to go before we reach pretty good.  The enemy of our souls loves to work in churches to divide God's people.  Some of the rudest and unloving people I have met have been in the Church.  However, there are lots and lots of good, warm, loving, kind, generous people in the Kingdom!

We need to become like Him.  He walked in love but He also walked in Holiness.  He forgave the adulteress but told her not to sin again.  He loved the sinner, hated the sin, and really really did not like the proud and those who thought themselves better than everyone else.  For He who created us knows the very dark heart of man and that is why He came in the first place.

To redeem us back to His Father.

So what about politics?  Well, if the people aren't very likeable then look at the platform.  The most important part of both party's national convention is the writing of the platform and the voting on that platform.  It is what the largest percentage of the people agree to, what the candidate puts his or her approval on, and gives a good idea of where the next four years would go.

I believe voting is the responsibility of every person of age that lives in a Democratic Republic.   Our form of government was called the Great Experiment... the first of its' kind... ever.  What?  The people voting for who will lead them instead of a King or a Dictator?  What a joke, it will never last!

I truly understand our choices this year are not the best... but I also believe God is teaching us a lesson.  We are to depend on Him and not a man or a woman.  We've been called to pray for our country and that is the most important thing we can do.  Whichever side of the aisle we choose to vote for.

This is America.  The land of freedom.  We still have the Constitution and all those Amendments that were added to make it even better.   One of those is the right to the freedom of speech.  Americans are by nature opinionated people.  So let us listen gracefully and then speak gracefully even when we do not agree.

It is the time to pray for a revival in the land.  For a Third Great Awakening... it was that First Great Awakening that influenced the American Revolution, you know.  As Christians, we can agree to pray for God to intervene in this country and to give wisdom to all elected officials.

So how about this... let's make a decision to stay away from rude, vile comments for the rest of the election (and may it be over soon, Lord).  Let's agree to disagree.  Let's continue to support our chosen candidate and our chosen party.  It is still America so we can put up yard signs, and have bumper stickers, and hand out brochures, and call in on talk radio, and use any platform we have to share our opinion and our causes.

But when we talk to each other online, let's just pretend that person is sitting in our living room taking Sunday tea with us... or perhaps sitting around the table for Sunday dinner... and not say anything on line we would not say if we were showing hospitality here at home.

The Word tells us we will someday be judged for every word we have spoken.  I have a feeling that also includes every word we have written and typed and clicked with a mouse.  Share the news.  Share the Truth.  Stand up for your beliefs.  With love.  With grace.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Thinking of Christmas

My husband could never understand why he would find Christmas craft items in Michaels in say... August.  However, having sold at craft sales long ago, I know a lot of Holiday crafting has to be started in summer.

Holiday baking is often begun in late November and early December but if one has decided to make some kinds of food gifts, they should be started soon.  I don't know about you but I was shocked to find how close we are to American Thanksgiving so gifts such as homemade vanilla extract need to be started... now.  I've made it before and found it took a full two months to begin to develop a good vanilla flavor. 

I know, it is kinda' difficult to think of Christmas when the forecast says it is to be 80 degrees, as ours does.  But it is coming and before we know it... December will be here.  I don't like to have a rushed December at all.  I adore Christmas music and Christmas books and Christmas movies and morning Quiet Times by the light of the tree and I want to have time to enjoy them.

Have I mentioned that I do not like the Mall at Christmas?  It was different when our stores were Downtown and even though it may have been freezing cold, there was a feeling of the Holidays all around.  In the window displays of the department stores, the Christmas lights, the Nativity on the Courthouse lawn (yes... it was once legal), and the Salvation Army bell ringers on various corners. (Silver Bells, Silver Bellls, it's Christmas time in the City... yes, the bell ringers!)

Somehow the florescent lights of the Mall never had quite the same attraction.  But I guess the nostalgia for "Downtown" ages me.

While the decorations may wait until after Halloween in the stores (emphasis on MAY WAIT), a lot of the food products are already in the main aisles of the larger grocery stores.  Making it possible to buy a little here and there, especially as they go on sale.  That is what I'm waiting for to stock up, the bigger discounts on baking ingredients.

I'm already thinking about what gifts I'll give this year.  I only buy gifts for the kids and grandchildren and perhaps a couple of friends.  Everyone else receives baked goods or something similar and I find they enjoy them.

After reading a blog post by Annabel (The Bluebirds are Nesting*), it got me thinking about the kinds of food I give as gifts each year and whether an option with less expensive ingredients would do just as well.  Now, there are some things that I will never change... like using real butter.  Except for the few cookies that also use Crisco sticks.  So I'm already looking for sales on butter to stock up a little each week, as well as 10 for $10 sales on cream cheese.

But after reading her blog post, I decided to make granola as one of my gifts this year.  Granola can be very expensive or relatively thrifty, I go for the thrifty option that is just as good.  I already have containers the granola would look nice to be given in.  The cocoa mix recipe I use is good but expensive to make, even with using dried milk** I have on hand.  So I'm researching other recipes that are simpler to try before making a large batch.

I have already cut back on expensive cookie recipes to make in bulk and like Annabel, I make more shortbread cookies now.  I have a Christmas mold that I use sometimes to make one big shortbread cookie that can be kept whole to see all the designs.  Sometimes I roll out the shortbread dough and use cookie cutters (it rolls out so much better than my sugar cookie recipe).

One cookie recipe that is always in the mix is the Jewel cookie recipe, everyone loves it and I use strawberry (or cherry) jam in half the cookies and mint jelly in the others at Christmas. Red and green.  Of course. I think you can see why I start freezing butter in October (or earlier).

Now that I know how well my chocolate chip dough freezes after it is scooped on cookie sheets and flash frozen, I will definitely be making it in November and freezing the dough ahead of time.  They can be placed frozen on a cookie sheet and popped into the preheated oven, adding only a few minutes cooking time.  SO MUCH BETTER than making them and baking them all in one day.

Have I mentioned chocolate chip cookies have a siren song, wooing one to nibble a couple of them late at night when willpower is weak?

We'll be talking more about Christmas cooking and baking soon but today's post is to remind you how fast time goes once the leaves start falling (or the apple trees blossom south of the equator). 

The Bluebirds are Nesting, September 25... here.
Peak dry milk (I was asked what kind I think is so good)... here. (This is the smaller size.)
Some of my cookie recipes... here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

True Faith and Allegiance, a review

This book by Alberto R. Gonzales is subtitled:  A Story of Service and Sacrifice in War and Peace.  I was interested in it not only as an autobiography but viewing the events of 9/11 through the eyes of the Attorney General at the time.

I will first say that the Prologue made me smile as the former Attorney General and Counsel to the President describes what it felt like to be the Designated Survivor during the State of the Union address in 2007.  I had recently watched the pilot episode of Designated Survivor on TV and my son, daughter-in-law, and I had talked about what it must be like to be in that position.  He explains here what it felt like when he served in this capacity.

Alberto Gonzales story in itself is a reason to read this book.  It is a true American story of a boy from what one could view as "poor" circumstances who becomes the first Hispanic person to rise to his position.  This is the kind of book one could give to a young person to show them it is possible to achieve far more than what the world expects of you.

The critics say this is one man's opinion of what happened on, during, and after 9/11.  Which is, of course, correct.  It is from the perspective of the Bush White House.  It is from the perspective of a Conservative.  It is the telling of a story from his perspective.

However, that is what all biography is about.  The telling of the story of events from each individual perspective.  Which is why historians read widely from a variety of resources and biographies to get a good idea of each historical event. 

This volume will be much appreciated by individuals and historians.  Not to mention it is an exciting book to read.  It grips you from the Prologue to the ending.

True Faith and Allegiance was provided by the publisher for the sake of review but the opinions are my own.

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

*Most links to are Associate links.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Sunday Afternoon Tea - The Time For the Harvest

Not long ago I experienced one of those days when it was one errand after another, the unseasonably hot weather seemed to make everyone cranky, and to make matters worse... I was leaving town at the height of the evening rush hour.  The traffic was bumper to bumper on the Bypass and I'd be on it for miles before turning onto the road leading to the country.

After a couple of long sighs, I realized I was next to the stoplight which intersects with a street that eventually leads into the country.  It takes longer to get home but once out of town, it is quite scenic.  So I quickly got into the turn lane and already felt less stress just getting out of rush hour chaos.

This street is one I have traveled more than I can remember.  It passes a favorite grocery store.  It passes the street to our old neighborhood with lots of family memories.  It goes past the soccer field that becomes a Farmer's Market in season.  Eventually one passes the city limits sign and the street transforms from a city name to a county mix of numbers and direction.

Whenever I take this route home, I wonder why I avoid it so often.  Just for the sake of an extra five or ten minutes cut out of a drive here or there.  Instead of the tension felt all day, peace enveloped the van in spite of the chatter on K-Love.  No chatter please, no loud music, not even an oldie but goodies channel.  I turned the radio to another station where there was a Bible study going on.

I love it that in a nation which seems upside down, there are still radio stations with Bible teachers.  Although I have to admit, I didn't pay close attention for I was looking at the surroundings while trying not to miss the house where my daughter's good friend lived when they were in high school.  This is where I need to turn onto another county road.  But people chatting about the Word of God made for delightful background "noise".

I had felt tense that week even when at home for the cares of the world were on my shoulders.  Literally.  Not just our own cares but this election has shown just how far America has degraded in morality and even common sense.  I felt... like everything was coming apart and there was nothing we could do about it.

However, something happened on that drive home that was completely unexpected.  I wondered if God had engineered all those disruptions in my schedule so I'd be on the road at that time.  It was that simple yet that profound.

As I passed the fields of corn, now dry and the shade of maize that tells farmer's the harvest is almost here, I thought about harvest time and seasons and how everything is changing at just the right time.  The corn looks as if it were dead and all life was removed but in reality it was... just right for the harvest.

Sweet corn is picked when the stalks are green and vibrant and easily sway in a strong breeze.  Field corn has to be baked in the summer sun, allowed to dry completely before the harvest.  I expect, if one were a corn stalk, it would be highly uncomfortable.  But it would make the corn perfect for the purpose God intended.

There were other signs of the season, summer was at an end and fall was just beginning.  The bushes and small trees were beginning to change color and the tops of the big trees in the forest are turning shades of red.  Yellow leaves have been covering the ground for a couple of weeks already.

When I walk down the gravel lane, it is now possible to see deeper into the forest and the top of my neighbor's red barn is now in view.  Everything changes quickly now.  It would not surprise me to be in full color by next week and if a storm passes with strong winds, most of the leaves on the trees would be on the ground.  In my yard.

If nature did not know what was happening, it would seem like the end of the world.  But it isn't.  It is simply the change of seasons.  It is normal.  It is the time of the harvest.

God spoke to me in that van on the country road.  Surrounded by corn fields and trees, plowed fields and horses nibbling grass in their fields.  No matter what the world looks like through my finite lenses, the seasons are changing on schedule.

He is still on the throne.  Nothing is surprising Him.  Whatever happens in the days and weeks and years to come... and we may go through some uncomfortable turmoil... He still holds us in the palm of His hand.  Everything is okay.

Image:  Building Memories; J. Sorenson

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Preps and Links


What a week we've had as a major hurricane has skimmed the shores of Florida and as I write, it is taking aim on Charleston with flooding rain.  Instead of the sudden major destruction of a direct hit we've seen with most hurricanes, this one has given days of anxiety from anticipation and then... storms.  One of the Weather Channel meteorologists said it was as if Florida's coastline experienced hours upon hours of a severe thunderstorm.

A few days ago, I listened to an interview with people getting ready to leave the northern part of Florida.  They were talking about the gas stations beginning to run out of gas and store shelves were becoming empty within thirty minutes of the mandatory evacuation order.  Thirty.  Minutes.

Whenever I view what is going on in a disaster area where there has been plenty of warning, I never cease to be amazed at human nature.  That tendency to wait until the last minute to purchase what will be necessary. 

That is why preparing a little at a time is the best way to go if you are on a limited budget, in case you do not have the ability to purchase anything at the time of an emergency.

It got me thinking that I'm not going to be apologetic at all about believing one should be prepared for worst case scenarios.  For most disasters do not form in the ocean and give us days to anticipate.  Most disasters happen suddenly.

Wishing nothing happens nor hoping nothing happens nor even praying nothing happens does not guarantee that nothing will happen.  We live in a fallen world.  The area I live in has been hit by numerous tornadoes.  I'm told that a tornado even went through the forest next to me years ago.  You may remember that our house was hit by lightening when the sun was shining!  The storm was close to the high school, not over us.

All that to say... we need to be serious about being prepared for a few different scenarios.

Get out of Dodge
For those outside the U.S., that saying came out of the American Wild Western days.  It means that there comes a time when we have to leave and immediately.  Rarely these days would that be due to outlaws with six shooters walking down a dirt street but we have our 21st century version shown in the news.

Think through what you want to have ready to grab and go if given a few minutes.  If not original documents, then at least having copies of documents would make them easier to replace if necessary.  A list of important phone numbers is necessary these days in the age of pushing a button on a cell phone.  I couldn't tell you my daughter's phone number if my life depended on it.  She is button #3 (and that does not mean third place in my affection).

Have important photo albums in one place, easy to locate when you are in a hurry.  Know where your kitty carrier, dog leash, etc. is and have them always ready.  At the very least, you won't have to clean the carrier before your next visit to the veterinarian.   When our house was hit by lightening, I knew our kitty carrier was in the garage but my husband had stored it so I didn't know where in the garage.  Have you ever held onto a cat while vehicles with sirens were at your house?

You can do an online search of "grab and go" bags but I warn you that some lists are so long  you would have to take out a second mortgage on your house.  At the very least, besides water you will have food like trail mix, granola bars, dried fruit, nuts, and other items which do not require cooking.  If you have a pet, you will need a container of extra food. Have a set time on your calendar to begin purchasing these items again and rotate the old with the new.  Enjoy your snacks.

You will need flashlights, at least a large one and a small one.  You will need a small battery operated radio or some other way to receive news.  If you don't plan on using the radio outside of an emergency, then store a package of the kind of batteries it uses separately from the radio itself to prevent rust, etc.  Believe me... I know from experience. 

An actual emergency radio would be great.  It can be stored next to the bag (or bags if you have a large family) and used during times of weather emergencies even if you stay home.  Having a way to purify water would be a very wise investment. 

After the basics, you will need to add what is important in your family.  For instance, I would grab medication and insulin while young families need to keep a package of diapers and baby wipes on hand.  Actually, baby wipes would be helpful for everybody.  Lots of information is available elsewhere to decide what you would need but at the least... buy an inexpensive bag at the thrift shop (if you don't have one) and fill it with the very inexpensive basics.

I will say this... when there is even the remotest possibility of danger then you need to fill your vehicles up with gas and make a trip to the grocery store for last minute purchases BEFORE everyone else takes it seriously.

Short Term Stay at Home and Hunker Down
I'd follow the same instructions as above in case  you would need to leave home quickly.  But for most of us, staying at home if it is at all possible would be what we would desire in an emergency situation.  I can totally understand why people wait until the last minute to leave if a hurricane is coming, even though by doing so it puts your life in danger (so I would leave earlier... but I get it).

This would be the scenario most of us either have or may experience.  Sometimes we have a warning, such as when a possible winter storm is on the way.  But we have seen scenarios such as a terrorist attack or out of control protesters which have caused police to tell people to stay at home.  We say it can't happen to us but I'm sure that is what people thought in Boston and other lovely cities.

I have ten years worth of information about stocking up on this blog and there are plenty of places online for information these days.  There are far more now than there were before Y2k!  Most importantly I would say this... make a list or two or three.  Your list/s.  You can look at someone's list for reminders but don't think you have to go into debt for a whole lot of supplies and food. 

I am certain that is part of what causes people to put off stocking up, they get overwhelmed by suggestions of "essentials".

Make a list of absolute basic necessities if you haven't already.  For instance, for food it can be as simple as the suggestions for the food in the grab and go bag.  Then think of easy foods to cook should you have a way to actually cook food.  They don't need to be expensive... rice, pasta, pasta sauce, salsa, various soups, etc. don't cost a lot for a simple stock up and if these are foods you eat in your everyday diet, it will be easy to rotate.

Always having extra of what you need for baking is a pantry basic.  For you can purchase on sale (or at least at the store where you can get the best price) and stock up at sale prices.  I would also suggest some comfort foods hidden in a safe place to bring out when needed... and I'm not talking about your 10:00 pm cravings. 

It is possible to have at least one month's worth of very basic food supplies, TP, etc. put back on a budget.  Most families have this much and don't realize it if they have even a small well stocked pantry and a full freezer.

A Long Term Need to Stay In Place
This type of scenario doesn't happen often but it is not out of the realm of imagination.  This kind of stocking up requires being organized and some serious thinking through of what is required in a very deep pantry.

Everyone I know who have had (or currently has) a very deep pantry does so because they believe it is by God's leading and He has provided for them to do so.  I have had friends over the years who built up quite a deep pantry just a little at a time and they purchase only what their family uses in their day-to-day meals.

I know of others who keep a fairly small pantry but  make it a priority to deepen it as they bring in extra income.  If you believe God is calling you to have a deeper pantry and it is not out of fear... He will provide.  When my pantry is looking like Mother Hubbard's, I have always been amazed at His provision. 

Freeze Dried and Dehydrated Foods
There are a lot of various freeze dried and dehydrated foods available today.  I have some Mountain House pouches like those used by backpackers for our grab and go foods and they are good. I bought a few with Amazon credit and tried them before replacing the meals we liked. Each pouch has a Use By Date approx. 2026. 

If you don't need to use Amazon credit to purchase these products, do a web search of "Mountain High" and I've seen on Amazon comments that you can find sales that way.  I find the prices on Amazon Mountain High pouches comparable to what I've seen at a couple stores that sold them for hunters, hikers, etc.  They are lightweight and easy to store in the grab and go bag... and can be used if one stays at home in an emergency.

I have a small bucket of dried eggs and a few cans of dried milk.  The milk is only good for two years so it needs to be rotated but I use the "one year left cans" to make hot chocolate mix at Christmas for gifts.  I replace the milk throughout the year.  We don't use a lot of milk but we do both like cream in our coffee.

Hmmm... coffee.  THE storage priority.  And tea.

I know this is not in-depth but instead it is an overall post sparked by this past week's hurricane.  The various scenarios will be covered more in future posts as needed.  I truly believe we need to take seriously the possibility that there will come a time we will be glad we took deepening our pantry seriously.

I was asked the websites where I read people warning of possible disruptions before the election.  With everything happening, those links were no longer up and I read so many each day that I couldn't remember specifics.

Here are a few places I go from time to time for news links (they are conservative):

Stan and Holly Deyo's website... hereThis is the one place I go each weekday.  Holly has finished writing her latest book and is once again providing news links Monday - Friday.  Yeah!  I've known Stan and Holly since the 90's and they are good, reputable people.

While you are at their website, Holly's book Dare to Prepare is my absolute favorite preparedness book.  My copy is and old edition but it is extremely valuable to me as it was a gift from Holly and has a very nice inscription.  I highly recommend that book, it is pricey but that is because it is huge and in-depth.  Their website also has plenty of free preparedness advice, too.

CBN News... here News from a Christian perspective.  CBN decided a long time ago to make news "from a Christian perspective" a priority and they have their own reporters around the world and in Washington.  I've appreciated their updates for years.

Charisma News... here News from a Christian perspective.  This is a recent bookmark but each website has their own interesting links so it is worthwhile.  I've heard it is good.

I have more that I link to from their Facebook updates.  I'll write them down this week as I think of them.  I get Fox News updates through emails but I also watch from time to time the BBC and PBS news (which are not conservative).  Other than our local news, I rarely watch evening news on ABC, CBS, or NBC... and then only for something like hurricane coverage.

Okay, I've had a lot of you write and ask what radio programs I listen to.  I've been hesitant to recommend any because my preference for limited listening time is some very alternative options.

I'd say Tru News is the one I listen to the most and then only when I see what the subject matter is about on the Tru News app.  Their website is... here. Rick Wiles has been around since the late 90s and he knows a lot of people so there are interesting guests who are experts on everything from the economy to the Middle East.  

But I will clarify here that I do not agree with him on some of his opinions.  If you don't like conspiracy theories... stay away.  If, like me, you don't mind cutting through conspiracy theories to find out the truth of what is going on around the world, you will find him interesting.  If you are the nervous sort... don't listen.  At least not before you go to bed.

If you like someone milder, I love Janet Parshall, who has a daily show on the Moody radio Channel.  Info... here.  She reminds me of a very well informed funny good friend and while I don't get a chance to listen to her every day, when I do it is enjoyable. 

So there are some of the links and programs you have asked for.  I give a few of them with trepidation... I'll add more as they come to my attention again.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Star Struck: Seeing the Creator In the Wonders of Our Cosmos, a review

Star Struck is written by Dr. David Bradstreet, an award-winning professor and astronomer, and award-winning writer Steve Rabey.  First of all, these men can write.  It is not easy to take scientific knowledge and make it so readable and enjoyable that it reads much like the latest mystery novel.

Dr. Bradstreet's story of knowing he wanted to be an astronomer from the age of eight would inspire any young person wanting to be a scientist but it would be most desirable for a young Christian to read.  The author explains the need for Christians to go into the sciences and the history of the church advising them against it.

The book is so much more than the story of Dr. Bradstreet becoming an astronomer.  That is only the beginning. It includes the history of astronomy, a little about all the planets (Mars gets an entire chapter), the story of the space race and where that stands today, and much about the solar system and what we know about the universe.

All from the viewpoint of men who believe in a Creator.

I would say this book is obviously a great choice for teenagers interested in science, astronomy in particular but all fields of science.  However, it is an outstanding books for parents, grandparents, and every other adult.  I am a literary person surrounded by scientists and engineers but I thoroughly loved this book.

Star Struck was provided by the publisher for the sake of review but the opinions are my own.

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

*Most links to are Associate links.