Saturday, April 18, 2015

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - More ponderings on the importance of experience

I've been busy getting the garden ready for when we plant in May.  Last fall the circumstances came together that caused me to leave the garden as it was and not clear it as usual.  I did get all the plants pulled out of the ground but they stayed where they were left until now.  So it has not been easy or fun but it is all getting accomplished... a little at a time.

We must get the new chicken wire fence up before we plant but Hubby doesn't want to use the remaining chicken wire we've stored in the garden shed.  This one rusted in a couple of years.  A rust free version is a must purchase this time.  Live and learn...

Which is where my ponderings have been again this week.  I know I've written about the subject over and over but then I come up against that Truth again and feel the overwhelming need to share it.  All from learning the hard way that experience is just as important as stocking up in a Pantry Lifestyle.

When I was one of the Administrators of a preparedness forum, I spent a lot of time with my ear to the ground about what people were sharing about their preparedness efforts.  Back then the only people talking about the role of experience were basically the homesteaders.  They, too, learned the hard way.

I would read that many people felt they were prepared for any emergency because they had a cellar full of dried food, buckets of wheat, and a canister of hermetically sealed seed packages.  Should the proverbial pooh hit the fan (so to speak), they would pull everything out of the cellar and live happily ever after.

How shocked they would have been if they have never gardened to find they have to prepare the soil, add nutrients (especially if there is no compost), and that some vegetables do not grow well just by planting a seed in the ground... or that it pays in the long run to buy the higher priced chicken wire for your garden fence as it does not rust!

I have now been gardening at this location for about eight years and I'm only now accepting the fact that tomatoes don't grow well in the current garden location.  Not until we expand our garden out more away from the tree line can they get enough direct sunlight to grow strong and healthy.  But I do know what does grow well so I'm concentrating on green beans, lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, and other veggies that can take partial shade. 

I long ago decided to let the apple mint take over the raised bed that gets mostly shade (although the garlic chives and sage are holding their own in one corner).  I now realize that one should not grow lovage next to bee balm as they both get huge!  So eventually one will be moved from where it grows now but I don't have to make that decision this year.

Live and learn.  Definitely.

As for storing wheat, that is a good idea.  Wheat stores well.  I am using some wheat that is at least fourteen years old (from when I belonged to a food co-op) that is still good because it was stored in a bucket with oxygen absorbers.  It is a good source of nutrition! 

However... if one has never used the wheat in their pantry, they are in for a big surprise when they pull it out of the cellar.  Unless they have a way to grind it, good luck making it into flour.  Even if they have a wheat grinder, if they are expecting all purpose white bleached flour... they are in for another surprise.  So is their digestive track.

That is why your pantry (however deep you make it) should contain food you already cook and bake with and serve your family.  

A possible exception to that rule would be good quality food prepared for long term storage, the kind you can add boiling water to and have a meal.  They are fine if you 1) have little space for stocking a deep pantry, 2) have the money, and 3) find a good source that does not have a lot of preservatives and chemicals in it. 

We all learn by doing something over and over again.  I think that is also why a recipe from Grandmother may not taste the same when we make it from her recipe card.  I know I've tweaked recipes and then not gone back and changed the original.  We have learned through the years what will add flavor, whether it is an ingredient or the technique we use to cook a recipe.

I keep learning all the time.  Currently I'm going back to making bread with the help of the mixer instead of one loaf at a time on the Dough cycle of the bread machine.  My ancient bread machine wasn't working right so I decided it was time to use the mixer and make a few loaves at a time (one now, one or two for the freezer).  After all, I do have that heavy duty Kitchen-Aid mixer.  So it came back to sit in a place of honor and out went the bread machine.

But it does take time to relearn the different way of making bread again.  Even though I used to make it by hand before I had a bread machine.  Which is proof we need continuing education, right?  ;)

Hmmmm... what else am I learning or returning to doing?  I've decided to make jam again after the price of the brand my husband can eat continues to go sky high.  I'm thinking of dehydrating certain foods again, sparked by a desire to find a better way to dry my herbs.  I'm definitely spending time perusing cookbooks and the Internet for good vegetarian recipes as the price of meat continues to rise.

So this year, if you have never gardened and you have the room... build a couple raised beds and see what grows best for your area.  If you only have a tiny balcony, grow some herbs.  If you live in Manhattan in a a one room apartment, research what grows without direct light.  The thing is, we all need to be learning something new and practicing what we already know.

Which is why I read cookbooks by homesteaders when I know I'm not going to live on a homestead.  I need their experience and their recipes in my own life and small garden.

Image:  Rooster and Four Chickens:

Friday, April 17, 2015

Whatever the Cost, a review

I had heard of David and Jason Benham's story already, the two brothers who were in the midst of making a TV show for HGTV when it was cancelled at the last minute.  All due to the influence of the Gay and Lesbian community because of the Benham's religious beliefs.

But I admit I would not have agreed to review their book if I hadn't watched an interview with them on television.  For I figured this book was just about that story and I had read a great deal of it already.  After hearing them talk about their book on the TV show, I immediately checked to see if it was still available for review!

For this book is not just about the HGTV story.  It is about how God brought all their experiences together "for such a time as this".  After reading their story, you will know God did indeed have a platform for them to share their faith... it was just different than the road they thought it would be all along.

This is the story of their upbringing, their time as Liberty University baseball players, their desires to play pro-baseball, their business ups and downs, and basically how God was  at work in their life.

Sounds kind of boring, doesn't it?

This is one of the most fun autobiographical books I have read in a very long time.  They enjoy teasing each other and have an amusing way of describing their experiences.  Their co-writer on this, Scott Lamb, did an amazing job of corralling these two and their words together! I find it interesting that they were labeled "haters" by a group only because of their religious beliefs.  These two are love and joy personified.

One of the descriptions offered for reviewers says this book will:
  • Show that You are Faithful in Little
  • Be a Fountain to Others and not a Drain
  • Produce More in Value than You Receive
  • Work to Your Ability and not Your Pay
  • Breathe Life into All Situations
  • Remember that You are Human Beings, not Human Doings
  • Hold to a Standard of Disciplined Living
  • Don’t Swing at Every Pitch
  • Find Your Greatest Blessings on the Other Side of Your Greatest Fears

Who is this book for?  First and foremost, it is an excellent book to give to young men who need Godly role models.  Women... young and old... will enjoy it, too.  But there are not a lot of books (much less role models) for young men.

This book would also be good for anyone needing inspiration in today's world where Christian values are considered hate crimes.  How the brothers chose to handle this situation would be a lesson for everyone.

If you are going through a trial you cannot understand, you need this book.  If you wonder if God can still use you in spite of your failures, you need this book.  Fun to read.  Quickly read.  Highly recommended.

This book was provided by the publisher for review but the opinion is my own.

For more information on, click... here*.

*All links to are Associate links.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

My Inspirations - Edith Schaeffer

I mentioned previously that I wanted to begin a new series, inspired by reading John Stott's, People My Teachers, where he took the readers on a walk-thru of people who had greatly influenced his life... some in person, the majority in books.  I'll write these posts in between regularly scheduled ponderings when it is possible to tuck one in here and there.

What better person to begin with than the woman who influenced me most.  I was engaged at nineteen and married a week or so after turning twenty.  I pretty much went into marriage clueless on how to be a good homemaker at all, much less a young woman who wanted a Christ centered family.

The Presbyterian church I attended as a very young (literally) Christian was one that was radically on fire for the Lord.  Not only were the books of Francis Schaeffer a core part of the theology but our pastor was at L'Abri the summer of our wedding.

So that is how it came to be that Edith's books entered my life.  Answered prayer.  Changed my life. Affected my thinking about... everything.  Her influence can be seen today not only in my life and home but the generation(s) that have now come along.

I learned through Edith that every person is an artist.  We were created for Art. We make Art when we cook.  We make Art when we garden.  We make Art when we raise a family.  We show the world we are created in the image of a Creator when we live a Christ centered life.

Never perfectly, of course.  Her famous quote has also long been a foundation in my life, "If you expect perfection or nothing, you will always end up with nothing".

I think L'Abri* was the first book by Edith I read. It is still the foundational book for anyone to learn about the initial ministry of L'Abri as well as Edith's other books.  I skimmed through it when preparing for this blog post and decided it was time to read it again.  It reads like a novel!

Hidden Art was her first book about home-keeping I read, now called The Hidden Art of Homemaking: Creative Ideas for Enriching Everyday Life*.   In later books she said she didn't want the change in title thinking it would turn away men, who also have Hidden Art in their everyday lives.  But when it became available only in paperback, the publisher insisted on the title change.

This was the foundation book of the rest of my life.  Ground Zero.  From the first chapter on, I fell in love with the way Edith described what everyday life should become.  How we are made in the image of a Creative God so we must... create.  We were meant for Beauty.  We were meant to be His source of Beauty to a fallen world.

This book is now quite dated, having been written in the very early 1970s.  But the message is the same.  I have reread this book again at least once a year and usually three or four times as it is taken off the shelf when I need inspiration, ideas, courage, and a reminder of what it means to make a home.

What Is a Family* was also at the top of my list for inspiring the way I thought of being a keeper of the home, a mom, a wife, a part of the Church, salt and light in the community.  It opens with her ponderings at being sixty years old.  I thought that quite ancient at the time.  I thought of it again on my last birthday.  How time goes by quickly!

This book is similar to Hidden Art but much more specific to family life.  In a world where the family was already breaking apart, she spends an entire book sharing ideas on why the family is so important to the culture.  Why the family needs to have someone to look after it, cherish it, be there in times of crisis, and create within it.  I have reread it at least once every year, far more when I was in the full time mother mode.

Common Sense Christian Living* is another foundation book.  I gave my copy to someone long ago who needed to understand more of living the Christian life.  While it continues the message of the above books about living in family life, it branches out a great deal to talking about being salt and light in the world around us without compromising our values.

Someone had asked me for the title of Edith's book containing her L'Abri Family Letters and this is that much belated answer.  There are actually two volumes containing these letters (and these are just what they considered the most important to include!) which were originally sent to a few supporters and family members... then to the far expanded support group around the world.

These two books are a must read for those inspired by Edith Schaeffer.  Each one is truly like receiving a personal letter from her describing what is going on in their life.  She reminds readers that these were written in the midst of their daily life and unlike now... they had no idea of the outcome.  I have thoroughly enjoyed these two books. 

With Love, Edith* chronicles the years from 1948-1960 as they have been in Europe for only days.  We often forget that the Schaeffer's began their ministry in Europe just as WWII has ended.  So we not only walk through their early ministry there but Edith shares how WWII continued to affect people, years after it ended.

Dear Family* contains the L'Abri Family Letters from 1961-1986.  This volume begins at Swiss L'Abri and ends around the time of Francis' death.  Edith writes her letters in such a way that one feels they are reading a novel and must remind themselves over and over that this was life being lived one day at a time.

The Tapestry* is the official autobiography of the Schaeffers and L'Abri, written by Edith in 1981, when Francis was still being treated for cancer.  Whereas the first book I mentioned (L'Abri) is a good autobiography to learn about the ministry of L'Abri, it a short book, written in 1969.

This book is much larger, in-depth, and obviously continues the story into the very early 1980s.  This is the book for the serious Schaeffer students and admirers to read but I gave my original copy to a friend whose life was quite upside down at the time.  I told my friend this book would help them trust the Lord in the midst of serious trials..  For the Schaeffers experienced many of the "darts of the enemy" in their many years of ministry.

One could read this book and then both of the books containing the letters but all would be enjoyable and interesting on their own. You probably know how Franky Schaeffer has written so many rotten things about his parents (how sad that a child is used by the enemy of our soul as a source of intended destruction of a ministry).  One thing you will find Edith says over and over in these biographical books is that God uses them despite their imperfections!

Forever Music* gives us more about Edith's life after the death of her husband.  It is also the story of a Steinway piano and how music became the way God healed Edith's grief and led her into a new world as a widow.

Christianity is Jewish* is Edith's book about the Jewish (Old Testament) roots of the Christian faith and gives a bird's eye view in the process of Jesus in the Old Testament through early church.  She wrote that this book was a result of sharing through the years with her Jewish friends.  This is an excellent book for bringing the Old Testament and New Testament of the Bible together.

The Life of Prayer* is about... ummmm.... prayer.  But more so, it shares with the reader the miraculous answers to prayer through the years at L'Abri, examples of prayer through Church history, and trusting God when our prayers seem to go unanswered.  Once again, Edith makes a theological subject easy to read and understand.

A Way of Seeing* contains sixty essays first appearing in Christianity Today magazine.  I have picked up this book through the years to read an essay here and there when I need inspiration from Edith.  It is basically about how the Word of God and living with Christ causes us to view every aspect of our life through the lens of Christ.

Affliction* is a book about suffering.  No way to get around it in life.  Edith talks about what the Word has to say about suffering, how it has affected her own life, and how it affected people she has known and loved.  This is considered one of her best books.

There are a few other books by Edith that I haven't included here but these were the most important in my life.

I can't talk about Edith without sharing a book by her daughter, either!

For the Children's Sake* came along just as I was considering homeschooling Christopher.  In the book, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay shares the story of how they were introduced to the works of Charlotte Mason and her philosophy for education.  This was the book that caused me to homeschool using this philosophy (this and the books by Karen Andreola).

I know there are a lot of book links here but I never met Edith in person.  I was mentored through these books.  I can't wait to have tea with Edith someday in Eternity.  It is a good thing there is no time there, for I am certain a long line would otherwise form.

*All links to are Associate links.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Food52 Genius Recipes, a review

Genius Recipes is, well... genius.  The idea for these recipes come from the Genius Recipes column* of the Food52 website (in itself worth bookmarking immediately!).

Genius recipes are those which rethink cooking techniques, solve problems, and I believe make even simple food outstanding.  The most experienced cook will find all kinds of new ideas. At the same time, many of the recipes given are simple enough to make quickly for a weeknight meal.  There is a good balance of simple and complex in the variety of recipes given.

If you are a true foodie, you will be excited by the collection of recipes from well known cooks and chefs.  This book is like having numerous chefs together in one room, sharing their favorite recipe and how to make it.

I like that the cookbook is easy to read, the recipes are easy to follow, and there are beautiful photographs.  The two pages of photos on how to cut up a butternut squash had me from the very first perusal!

The recipes are divided between Breakfast, Snacks & Drinks, Soups & Salads, Meaty Mains, Meatless Main, Vegetables, and Desserts... making it very easy to take this book off the shelf when looking up a needed recipe... or just perusing through particular sections for an idea.

This is one of those books for the beginner as well as the cookbook collecting experienced foodie.  Highly recommended!

This book was provided by Blogging For Books but the review is my own opinion.

*The Genius Recipes column from Food52 can be found... here.

For a peak inside this book, click on over to here.**
**All links to are Associate links.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Resurrection Power

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you,
he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies
because of his Spirit who lives in you.
Romans 8:11 NIV

I hope you don't mind my Easter ponderings a little late.  There wasn't time last weekend for putting ponderings to pen but they have continued to float around that part of my brain where ponderings tend to remain... if not written pen to paper or keyboard to screen.

Easter is my favorite holiday on the Church calendar for thinking of what Jesus accomplished.  I must admit that Christmas has never been my most spiritual of holidays.  I find it the glitz and glitter and sparkle much needed in the bleak (almost) midwinter.

Oh, don't get me wrong.  Christmas has been Christ centered since I became a Christian in my mid-teens.  But I rarely get any deep spiritual thoughts during Advent.  Perhaps because it has been a long time since I was involved in a liturgical church (albeit once a Presbyterian, always a Presbyterian in my heart).

But Easter?  It is ground zero of Christ and His coming and His death and His resurrection.  Now, I don't have a problem (but I know many who do) about making up Easter baskets and books about bunnies and stories of duckies and little lambs with cute ribbons around their neck.

You may remember, my daughter thought of me when watching Miss Potter.   I have a thing for inanimate animals coming to life in my imagination and the thought of an Easter bunny bringing Spring cheer is just too darn cute to pass up.

Even if it takes on the same family legend status of a chubby guy in a red suit who leaves candy and an orange in one's Christmas stocking... all done with a wink wink attitude from Mother.  Fun stuff.  Make up stuff.  To add a little sparkle to life.

My children knew Peter Rabbit was make believe just as much as they were aware of pretend games when they were very young.  Such as my daughter and I searching for Pooh sticks in a creek in between her elementary school and home.

But Jesus is not pretend.  As Tolkien finally got through to Lewis... Jesus is the Real myth in the midst of all the fictional myths.  Jesus is The Story!  It really is all about Him.

Christmas brought about BC and AD on our calendars but it is the Resurrection that changed the world.

The Resurrection is why all of the apostles but "John the Beloved" were martyred.  I'm certain there were times John would have wished he had given his life already, especially as in his 90s he was sent to the Island of Patmos.  He truly suffered for his risen Friend.

They all knew Jesus was born and died and lived again, otherwise they would not have put their own lives on the line.  They could die for Him because they would once again live with Him.  Because of the Resurrection.

But there is much more to the story of resurrecting than dying for Him.  Without it, we could not live for Him day in and day out month after month and year after year.  It is absolutely impossible to live the Christian life without Christ and His Resurrection power.

The couple of weeks leading up to Easter this year were pretty miserable physically.  For one of those weeks, I had no strength at all... already in a human flesh that doesn't have a lot of physical strength.

But I kept pondering this whole idea that the Holy Spirit lives within me.  That same spirit that raised Christ from the dead.  I thought of how Christianity really is not about religion but about a Person.  

He told his disciples before his physical death that He had to return to the Father so the Comforter could come to us.  After He took our sins upon the cross and became the Lamb for which He was born to die.  He took back the keys to the Kingdom.  He conquered death for Himself... and us.

That is not a religion.  That is Gospel Truth.  And if you believe it and accept Him as that sacrificial Lamb and accepted that Truth... you have within you always and for the rest of your life the Hope of Glory.  Not to mention that Comforter He sent you.  Our Teacher. Our Friend.

Resurrection power... sometimes we may actually feel it raging within us as we have the strength to keep going when we want to stop, or we love the unlovable, or forgive the one who on our own strength would be impossible to forgive, or just wake up the next morning and go about our daily tasks when life is just-too-hard.

He is also there to give thanks when we have to thank someone for the beauty of a sunset, the taste of really good coffee, an afternoon pot of Paris tea and a really good book, milk chocolate that melts in your mouth, the first daffodils of Spring, walking through a forest, sitting by the beach, the Hallelujah Chorus, the smell of a freshly bathed baby... and all that is beautiful in life.

And to think... these are just the "Shadowlands".  He is still the Carpenter, you know.  Contracting and designing and building our dwelling place in Heaven.  All because of the Resurrection.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - One item at a time

These are so cute!

I was watching a program recently where the subject of stocking up for emergencies was being discussed.  Everyone on the panel believed we should be... what I call... deepening our pantries.

One of the individuals was a pastor who said he has been recommending to the people of his congregation to begin by purchasing one, two, or three items at a time when they do their grocery shopping.


This is what I started out doing long ago and have come back around to it as the budget became so tight it squeals.  While I do stock the pantry as much as possible with essentials when I have the budget, most items are purchased here and there... a little at a time... by priority.

Currently I've started purchasing one or two containers of water again since it has been awhile since I made water a priority.  I don't have a lot of room for water but I've made room here and there.

If you purchase water in plastic containers, it does disintegrate unless otherwise noted.  How do I know?  One of them in a long ago pantry disintegrated all over the place.  Fortunately that was back when my pantry was in a basement room so the only damage it did was to the shelving it was on.  (I do miss that room!)

Purchasing an Additional Item
The most common way I stock my pantry these days is by purchasing one or two extra items at a time... and more if they are on a good sale.   For instance, I wash dishes two or three times a day so when I found my favorite dish soap at a good sale, I bought four or five of them.

But usually I buy just one extra, using one and placing the other on shelves to keep until I have a good supply.  Instead of using that extra when I run out, I purchase another with one extra for the pantry.  Until I have the amount I feel comfortable with, and since I have this fear of running out of good dish washing liquid... that is at least six!  Preferably more.

If you do dishes by hand, you will know exactly what I mean.

I ran out completely late last year when the budget was very tight.  So thinking it was better to have two cheap brands than one of my favorites (either 7th Generation or Mrs. Meyers), I bought two cheap store brands.  I had to use twice as much and even then they did not hold the suds while my dishes soaked in hot sudsy water.  Lesson reinforced.

If you think you cannot afford stocking a pantry, try just purchasing one extra at a time and making the extra the start of your pantry.  First by doing this with what you consider a priority and then with other items.

Then when you can afford to do more, especially at a good sale price, purchase a number of priority items.  Currently I have four extra cartons of butter in the freezer, purchased when they were $1.99 each for Easter cooking.  Butter is near the top of my priority list to have on hand and purchase on sale.

But sometimes I can only purchase one to use now and one for the freezer.  But at least I know there is a backup.   Similar priorities are:  all baking essentials, raw honey, canola oil (regular for cooking, GMO free to use for salad dressings), and two kinds of sea salt - kosher and fine.  Those are just off the top of my head, there are many more I am certain.

Recent Purchases
I use both onion powder and garlic powder a lot.  I almost bought a large, cheap container of onion powder again but decided to see what the bulk section of the health food had first. I hadn't been at all happy with the quality of the cheap stuff. Sure enough, they had a lovely onion powder I could purchase in bulk... just enough to fill the Bonne Maman jar that I keep it in.

It cost a little more than the cheap stuff but oh, my... you could definitely see the difference. I've only recently started checking their bulk spice section as I always assumed it was expensive but it isn't bad as you rarely need a large amount.  I also shop on the day my husband qualifies for their senior citizen discount!

Sometimes my stock ups may not make sense to others (given a tight budget) but my tea time scone loving friends will understand that I purchased two jars of Dickinson's Lemon Curd at a good price.

Why two jars?  Because if I only have one I tend to hoard it and then it doesn't get used when needed.  Oh, if you keep a package of those tart size graham cracker crumbs in your pantry... lemon curd can be spooned in them with a dollop of real cream or Cool Whip on top for a delightful last minute hot weather dessert.

Sigh... you do know I planned to be a pastry chef at one time.  Then I developed Type 1 diabetes.  If I wasn't a Christian I'd say the Universe is against me.  But I digress.  ;)

When I find whipping cream or heavy cream on clearance, I buy either a large container or a couple pint size (according to what is available on clearance) for making my favorite lemon cream scones

And do you know what I found out quite by accident?  Cool Whip makes a good substitute for the real stuff on scones (with lemon curd or strawberry jam).  Yes, really.  I had leftover Cool Whip in the refrigerator after Christmas so I thought I'd give it a try. With lemon curd.  Oh, my good heavens. 

I hope this rather rambling post was understandable.  The most important Truth I hope you take away from today's post... even a little at a time pantry stocking can bring great results.  Don't do nothing because you can't do everything!

Thursday, April 09, 2015

My World this Week

It seems a very long time since I've been able to assemble a "My World" post.  I'm still recovering from the influenza but a little more each day.  I notice it most when I can only do lawn work for about ten minutes and then have to rest.  But doing the work a little at a time gets at least part of it accomplished.  Much better than staying inside and wishing I could do more!

We had a lovely Easter with Mr. & Mrs. Christopher.  I forgot to take a photo of the pie because I served it after the meal and after putting my camera away.  I suppose that means I'll have to make another one soon, just for photos.  ;)

Victoria had to visit her favorite doctor recently.  Her paws are giving her problems again so she is back on a short term steroid regimen.  But the reason we made the appointment was when she was "off her feed" a few days... and nothing comes between Victoria and her kibble.  Her doctor suspects a virus and she's fine now.  I'll share something funny about the visit after her photo.

Here is a little of what has been going on in my world... slowly but surely... a little at a time.


There was a lull for awhile between review books already reviewed and those received.  So I enjoyed some "just for me" reading.  All three books were purchased with Amazon credit, although Laura Childs' book was purchased last year.

For those who take the time to enter their Amazon shopping through a link or by clicking on any item in the Amazon Widget, I thank you very much.  Last month's credit went to a couple much wanted books.

Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - This is the new cookbook by Aimee from Simple Bites.  It is fabulous, just the kind of cookbook I love with good stories (her family are urban farmers), beautiful photos, and delicious recipes.
-This link to takes you to the U.S. version of the book... here*.  (Aimee is Canadian.)

Tea For Three is a book containing the first three Tea Shop Mysteries all in one volume.  I am enjoying rereading Death by Darjeeling right now.  It also contains Gunpowder Green and Shades of Earl Grey.  These are my favorite cozy mysteries!
-Amazon information... here*.

Pursue the Intentional Life is by Jean Fleming.  I have loved her writing since I was a younger mother.  This book is exactly what I need right now.  It is written for women after the age of fifty who want to live their life to the fullest regardless of circumstances.  But it is also for younger women to realize everything they do while young is preparing them for middle age and beyond.

I first skimmed it as I couldn't wait for each chapter.  Now I am going back and reading it more slowly.  It is a book written from decades of experience, Bible study, and working with young women.  A new favorite!
-For more information, click on over... here*.

I love this show, the writing is excellent.  While the actresses that portray the midwives are wonderful, my favorites are the nuns.

Each season we have learned a little more of their back story and Pam Farris is downright hilarious, just with a look!

This was the cutest gift from a bloggy friend.  I have already taken it apart to use some of it in my scrapbook journal but I had to take a few photos first.
The gift from God
The gift from my kids
Aldi's candy was placed in various pretty containers
Always Great Grandmother's china brought out for Easter
Christopher was so excited to see deviled eggs.
I roasted the asparagus this time and it was delicious cooked that way!

I think I showed this already but she looks so pretty.

When her doctor's assistant carried Victoria to another room to be weighed, he shouted out, "Supermodel alert!  Supermodel alert!".  It was so funny as they had just been talking about how beautiful she is.

No wonder she likes to visit her doctor.  Those are her people and she knows it.  ;)

*All links to are Associate's Links

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are; a review

I loved Shauna's Niequist's  last three books.  Her Bread & Wine* is one of my all time favorite nonfiction books.  So I was anticipating her new devotional called Savor.  So were a lot of other people as it sold out on Amazon when it first was published!

If you are expecting a book like her others, this is not it.  Each devotional is quite short and there is one question to ponder at the end of each page.  Having said that, I really like this devotional.  Each page gives one something to think about.  Shauna is a gifted writer and this shows through even in devotional format.

This is the kind of devotional perfect for a busy mom of very young children.  Since they often can grab only a few minutes for such a quiet time, anyway.  I would give it as a shower gift to a new bride or a young Christian woman just graduating from college and beginning life on her own.

Not to mention it is full of very yummy sounding recipes such as:
  • Blueberry Yogurt Morning Cake
  • Pumpkin Banana Anything Muffins
  • Frisee, Hazelnut & Goat Cheese Salad
  • Curried Chicken Salad Tea Sandwiches
  • Spicy Peanut Noodles
  • Baked French Toast
  • ... and many more

I highly recommend this book for what it is, full of simple and short devotionals written in Shauna's easy and conversational manner.  It is like chatting with a friend over your first cup of coffee.  An excellent book for gift giving or to slip into your bag for the beach this summer.  Who says you have to read it one page at a time?  ;)

Savor was given to me by the publisher for review but the opinions are my own.

For more information, go to here*

All links to are Associate Links.  I thank you.

Monday, April 06, 2015

After Easter

As you can tell, I didn't get the time for a Sunday Afternoon Tea post.  Easter dinner preparations and then Easter itself flew by without a chance to sit down at the computer.  But a good time was had by all and we thoroughly enjoyed having Mr. & Mrs. Christopher here.

We have been celebrating holidays with our daughter-in-law's family but this year they were too busy to make the trip to our town.  That worked out well since I was still weak from the influenza.  Easter dinner... as with so many things... was accomplished a little at a time.

There were a handful of daffodils almost ready to bloom on Friday afternoon.  Since it was to dip to the low 20s that night, I cut all that was almost ready and put them in a vase.  I was thrilled when they were in full bloom right away.  It appears they enjoyed coming into the warmth of the house.  So there were daffodils on the buffet at Easter dinner (photo later).

We are to warm up this week so I expect all the daffodils to start popping soon.  It also means outdoors work will begin.  This year we absolutely must put up a new fence around the garden.  Am I the only one that looks at my house and lawn at times and sees everything that needs to be done with dollar signs?

I'm not complaining (much) but there is that whole 2nd law of thermodynamics thing... everything ultimately falls apart.  On that happy note, I'll say that I will see you again Wednesday or Thursday.  ;)

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Holiday Stockup

Yesterday was my first real grocery visit since getting over the influenza.  I had to shop for a few weekly basics as well as Easter dinner.  Oh, my goodness... the stores were packed and it was quite early!

I didn't have a lot to spend on Holiday stock ups but I knew by taking advantage of deep discounts now, it would be good for my budget later.  The ham was half price and I'm thinking of going back for another to put in the freezer.  The jury is still out on that one as I do have other places for the food budget.

But I was able to stock up on frozen veggies and I was thrilled to find the frozen cooked brown rice packages on a 10 for $10.  They are perfect for when one is cooking for just two people and you want a quick starchy item for the menu.

One of my "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" foods was on a Holiday discount of about half price.  My title for these foods is because they tend to be unhealthy and perhaps not even real food.  However, I still purchase them because they are essential to certain recipes.  In this case it was Cool Whip but Velveeta cheese also falls under this category.

I bought one Cool Whip for the Easter dessert and two others for the deep freeze.  My husband was appalled when he saw the Cool Whip being placed in the grocery cart.  I should have stuck with the "Don't Tell" part of the story.  But Cool Whip for $1.00 was too good to pass up.

I told him it was for the Possum Pie I'm making for Easter dessert.  He thought I was joking but I assured him I was telling the truth.  I'm making Possum Pie Saturday (today) for Easter.  It has been awhile since I made it and I came to realize he didn't know that was the name for that particular dessert.  It is from an old Taste of Home article where they are asked to find favorite recipes from restaurants.

Those were my only stock up items but I do plan to go to Meijers Monday morning to see if they have the Hershey's Chocolate Kisses with Almonds half price.  If they do, I'll buy a couple bags for the pantry.  They are my husband's favorite treat and not mine.  I prefer the pure milk chocolate variety.  So that means they will last in the pantry.  ;)

I've learned to be appreciative when I can stock up a little and not let it bother me when I can't.  I've been waiting for a 10 for $10 sale on cream cheese but when it happened a few weeks ago, I didn't have $10 to spend on one item.  So I let it go... insert that song here... and made different plans for Easter dessert.  Which is how the decision to make a Possum Pie came about.

So... are you curious as to that recipe?  You can find it... here.  I'll try to remember to take a photo of it Sunday. 

ADDED NOTE:  I use Cool Whip instead of whipped cream as the top layer of the Possum Pie since I usually make it a day ahead of time and Cool Whip keeps better.  I also use 1-8 oz. cream cheese instead of 2-3 ounce cream cheese as the 8 ounce is usually what I have on hand.