Saturday, October 16, 2021

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Shocking higher prices!


Prices are rising so fast on some items that it reminds me of being a young wife during the Carter Administration.  This was before items were scanned at checkout so there was a price sticker on each item.  Sometimes, the price increased so much between one week and the next that there would be two or even three stickers with slightly higher prices on each one. 

Recently, I was going to buy a small box of stickers I use in the Kitchen that I once purchased at a favorite local store that went out of business.  When I checked on Amazon, a box had gone up from the $4.00 I bought them just last year to $6.00.  I took a few days to decide if I really needed them and when I decided yes, I went back to purchase them to find they were now $8.00.  Yikes!

I have always read that the way to beat inflation is to buy now what you know you will need tomorrow.  Apparently, that truth prevails in these days of rising prices.  I should have learned my lesson already as I delayed purchasing my 2022 planner on Amazon in September because I always waited until late October or November.  Imagine my surprise to find it no longer available except third party. It was the same price but then I also had to add the cost of postage.  Sold out in September!

Because of the high cost of gasoline these days, we make every attempt to combine errands and appointments on the far side of town.  When my husband had an appointment this week, I went with him so we could shop Sam's Club together.  Thankfully, they had everything we needed but at higher prices.

I am putting together everything needed for Holiday baking and beyond. The higher costs in the stores reinforced my decision to stock individual baking items in my pantry (including freezer and frig) so while at Sam's Club, I bought a bag of milk chocolate chips, white chocolate wafers, and their large can of Hershey's cocoa (which has an indefinite shelf life).

We usually buy one bag of pecans and one bag of almonds there but with the shortages being off and on, we bought two bags of each and I put the extra bags (each inserted into a gallon size Ziploc bag) in the deep freeze.  I store chocolate chips in half-gallon Ball jars and I knew I had plenty of semisweet chocolate chips left since I hadn't baked much over the summer. 

Sam's Club didn't look like it had any shortages but everything we needed was in the front of the store.  The last time I was at Meijer, there were some empty or partially empty shelves and limitations on some items to a purchase of no more than two. 

What I noticed in short supply on Stock Up Day earlier this month at Aldi, WalMart, and Meijer was their candy aisle.  Aldi had my favorite dark chocolate that I'm allowed to eat a little at a time but many of the shelves were depleted with their other candy.  

My husband had asked me to pick up Fun Size Snickers bars at WalMart and I was surprised to find almost every shelf in their candy aisle depleted.  (One Fun Size Snickers is his go-to treat once a day with a second cup of coffee.)  I only noticed the candy aisle at Meijer was partially depleted as it is an aisle with something else I was purchasing on the other side.

I do wonder if the companies put their limited resources into the Halloween candy since there seemed to be plenty of it this year located on center aisles.  That would make sense... and cents!

With the increased prices, I have had to change some shopping habits.  I still purchase organic whole grass fed milk for myself (much better for stable hormones) and I buy organic almond milk for my husband but we stopped buying organic cream for our coffee and organic cheese.

I buy organic romaine lettuce since it is still inexpensive and organic baby spinach but I supplement them with Taylor Farms mixed greens that are not organic.  We do still buy most frozen vegetables organic since the prices are not all that much more expensive but I don't buy organic green beans or peas since neither are on any Dirty Dozen list.

For many people on special diets, there isn't a choice at times.  For instance, because of terrible environmental allergies and sensitivities, my husband cannot eat some food unless it is certified organic.  Especially "soft" vegetables and fruit like lettuce and strawberries that are heavily sprayed.

There is a possibility that our natural gas price to heat our house this winter will double what it was last winter.  This is when I am thankful we live in a relatively small-ish house and the previous owners replaced all of the old windows with brand new energy efficient windows.

I can see more so than ever that gaining knowledge and experience in cooking on a budget is going to be even more important.  As the weather gets cooler (finally), I want to experiment with more bean meals.  One may as well make something fun and stretching the grocery budget with healthy bean meals will become a treasure hunt for good recipes.  Beans are also great for bringing blood sugar down!

I have been amazed this summer at my gardening friend who has increased the size of their garden and has been canning and dehydrating like crazy.  I've told her that she reminds me of the Proverbs 31 woman!  While I no longer have the strength and energy to garden, I am gaining more experience in ways to stretch the grocery budget even more than before.

That old adage "waste not, want not" is certainly very true.  I've been making a game (only with myself) to think of all the ways to stretch everything from food to paper towels.  Although, so far the kitties are not taking part in any such game.  They want their kibble and even more as it gets cooler!

There isn't much we can do about inflation.  Some of it is brought about by the consequences of human decisions but some of it is due to heat and drought and floods and all kinds of abnormal weather.

I agree with a woman who teaches about prepping on YouTube when she talked about the importance of knowing what was going on in the world as we make decisions about our pantries.  She subscribes to a large city newspaper and reads the International pages.  I have long had a few people I follow that share news headlines from all over the world that I can click on to get more information.

We have to be aware of various situations and while we can (and should) pray, we also need to prepare.  For instance, there are concerns for shortages of almonds due to the drought in California and my favorite olive oil comes from California, the olive harvest was also in question at one time.

So, I know that a shortage of almonds is possible... thus, the extra large size bag purchased for the deep freeze.  We have already cut back on olive oil usage but I need to buy an extra bottle from time to time to "put back".  It is not always easy since a bottle of good olive oil is not cheap. 

I'm sure everyone else is having to do the same thing, rethink priorities, change brands, shop multiple stores (I have always done this when possible), look at loss leader prices in store flyers, and definitely purchase now what we can afford and we know may not be available tomorrow.  

Our shopping habits have to be revised from the good old days when everything was usually available when we wanted it and prices didn't fluctuate very much.  If our wartime and Depression era grandmothers and great-grandmothers could do it... so can we!  

I have always been interested in what the average person in other cultures ate.  For instance, the food of many cultures have basic ingredients like corn, beans, rice, and local vegetables in them with small amounts of meat added off and on.  Many times, the fatted calf (or pig, lamb, etc.) was saved for feasts.

The two books I would recommend this week are both books I have highly recommended before.  Both books inspire us to be creative and thoughtful when putting food on the table for ourselves, family, and guests.


Edith Schaeffer's The Hidden Art of Homemaking has an entire chapter on the importance of food and how she learned to stretch meals when needed at L'Abri. In another chapter, she talks about the importance of how we serve meals and how even one candle or a small bouquet of flowers on the table add to a meal.  

This is the book on the top of my list of books for that inspired my life as a homemaker.  Even if it is a little dated now, it is a treasure to be read every year.  More information can be found... here.


Of course, I would have to mention An Everlasting Meal here for it changed the way I thought of food and cooking.  I had been cooking for decades when I read this book and I still learned a lot.  Every time I read through it, I learn something new.  

My like-minded friends and I know exactly what one of us means when we say we are having an "everlasting meal" for dinner.  More information can be found... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.  I get a tiny percentage for any purchase and it cost neither of us anything extra.

Image:  Thanksgiving at my home a few years ago.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Book Talk - Fall


I've wanted to write a Fall book post for weeks now but I finally have the time to write one.  While any season is a good time to read, when we begin to get in the cooler months in the States, I find it even more appealing to grab a throw and a hot beverage for the reading seasons.

I do want to say one thing before getting to the subject of books, it wasn't until I published the archived post on Sunday that I realized some people may think I was talking about blog comments.  That post was written after the 2016 election and I was talking about Facebook comments, which were shocking at their animosity to each other.  I ended up taking the Facebook app off of my tablet.

Now, what books do I love to read for the Fall season?  These are not in any order but as they come to mind.


The author that first comes to mind every Fall is Gladys Taber, probably for her lovely writing about the changes in nature and life at the New England farmhouse she shared with her friend.  The two couples owned the house together and the wives moved to the farmhouse permanently later in life.

All of her books are lovely and some are easier to find at a good price than others.  The book I pull off the shelf most often is The Best of Stillmeadow: A Treasury of Country Living.  As one would expect, it contains multiple offerings from some of her books.  There are no reasonably priced copies on Amazon but there may be on other used book sites.  

Stillmeadow Daybook is also good and it does have reasonably priced copies... here.

A unique Gladys Taber book was found at a library sale many years ago.  It is Reveries at Stillmeadow, a 1970 Hallmark edition with excerpts and some colorful illustrations.  I didn't know the book existed until I found it buried under other one dollar books at the library sale.  It is now one of my prized Taber books.

Copies can be found used... here.


Another author that a lot of people like to read in specific seasons is Rosamunde Pilcher.  September is her best known "Fall" read, although my favorite book of hers that I have read so far is Winter Solstice...  a favorite Christmas/Winter read.  

While having subject matter that is not "Christian" so to speak, it has nothing in the reading that would be offensive to most and I always like it when people who have made unwise decisions about their lives end up happy when they choose wisely.

Paperback copies can be found... here and the Kindle version is... here.


I'm including the classic novel, The Country of the Pointed Firs, in with Fall reading for many of the reasons I include the Gladys Taber books.  This book has the most lovely descriptions of nature and life in a Maine seacoast town.

As with any good writer, Sarah Orne Jewitt makes one feel they have visited Maine in the late 1800s.  The book includes the original novella and four short sequels to it.

A paperback copy can be found... here and a 99 cent Kindle version is... here.

It seems every article about Fall books provides titles for mysteries and "spooky" books.  While I do not participate in Halloween activities, I do admit that Fall is the perfect time for reading dark, broody, moody, and yes... even books that keep us up at night.

If you like to read kind of spooky books in the Fall, one my favorite books in this genre is the gothic novel called The Thirteenth Tale.  It was the book everyone in the book world was talking about the year it came out. I always recommend it with reservations and to read with discernment.

That is because there is a relationship in the background of the story that is rather unsavory but nothing in-your-face. In this case, it is important to the story line but I would have been happier if it were not there at all.  At least it is only alluded to from time to time.

It is written from the perspective of a bibliophile writer solving a mystery and the real life writer is brilliant in her use of words.  It is the book I would read in a book club for Halloween books as one who does not celebrate Halloween.  

The paperback version can be found... here and the Kindle version is... here.


A series of books, although written by a Christian author, that I would put in the "spooky" category is the Redwing Saga series of books written by Sharon Gilbert.  I was going to read these on the Kindle throughout the Spring and Summer months but I read them so fast that I finished by around mid-July. 

Imagine a series of books that begin with the Jack the Ripper murders and introduces us eventually to a family loyal to Christ with secret royal lineage.  Then, imagine that the Jack the Ripper murders are actually committed by people and fallen angels loyal to the enemy of our souls. These are stories to give to friends and family who think Christian literature is boring.

This is a book about the warfare between Good and Evil and how it can enter into the headlines of newspapers.  It is about heroes that are men and women as well as  heroes of the angelic realm.  It is about sacrificing our own comfort sometimes for the sake of God's ultimate purpose.

Now, I absolutely loved these books but even I had a hard time with the first couple of books in the series because of the content of the Jack the Ripper murders and I can usually handle CSI kinds of plots with no problem. 

However, once you get through the first couple of books (and fast read through some scenes if you must), you realize why the author had to describe the murders the way she did because it is truly a battle against God and the enemy for the souls of men. I love the setting in Victorian Great Britain and the way their love of Christ brings together all classes. 

While the paperback copies are pricey, the Kindle price is half that of the paperbacks.  Even better, if you belong to Kindle Unlimited, you can read them for free.  Sharon Gilbert started writing these in 2017 and she is currently working on Book #8.  As I mentioned, this would be an excellent series to suggest to non-Christian friends who like this genre of fiction as it shows Christianity in a unique light.

Blood Lies, Book #1 in the series, can be found... here and for the Kindle... here.


I have recommended Frank Peretti's book, Monster, before.  There aren't many books about Bigfoot from a Christian perspective.  This book combines a spooky background with brilliant writing (Peretti is one of my favorite authors) and trust him to have a plot that points to more than what is obvious.

Yes, Monster is a spooky book but unlike most in the genre, it is family friendly for teenagers.  Just don't take it with you on a camping trip.

Monster can be found in paperback... here and on the Kindle (only $4.49)... here.


Okay, you know I'd probably have another Bigfoot book to add to the list.  However, Sweet Mountain Music is more of a pleasant romance story that happens to be centered around a search for a Bigfoot type of animal.

A friend read it and told me that I HAD to read this book, she knew I would like it.  Well, I bought it for the Kindle and it sat for awhile before I finally decided to read it... and she was right.  

I thought it was a book like Monster and at the time, I wasn't interested in anything too scary.  This book had just enough intrigue to make it interesting and the ending was unexpected but good.  It is the scary book version of a cozy mystery.

The paperback version can be found... here and the Kindle version (only $4.99) can be found... here.


If your choice for dark and gloomy Fall reading falls into the historical mystery category, then you may have already heard of the Brother Cadfael novels.  I first heard of the Ellis Peters mystery series about a monk in the 12th Century when the episodes appeared on PBS... long ago.

I know so many people who enjoyed reading these novels.  Not only mystery enthusiasts but those who liked to read about that time in history, people interested in herbs and such used for medicinal value, and readers who just like a unique story.

There are many books in the series but book one, A Morbid Taste For Bones, is probably where one should begin.  The paperback version can be found... here and the Kindle version (only $1.99) can be found... here.

November is the last month of Meteorological Fall and the beginning of the Holiday season in the U.S. with the much beloved holiday of Thanksgiving... which turns my thoughts and reading toward food and hospitality.

One of my very favorite books about the subject is Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist. 

Bread & Wine is a warm, cozy, and delightful read for those of us who love to cook and to share food with friends and family around the dinner table.  It will inspire you to tie on an apron and begin chopping root vegetables for an Autumnal stew.

Each chapter is a separate story/essay in her life that centered around food.  I already have it ready to reread soon. This is the perfect book if you want something to pick up and read one chapter at a time.

Bread & Wine can be found in paperback...here and on the Kindle... here.

For some of us in this country, the cooler weather of Fall may be a little late this year but it will arrive any day.  For me, cool weather begins the season of reading.  Enjoy!

Disclaimer:  Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.

Image:  Book Shop: Kim-Sung

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Relationships and Reality

 

To celebrate fifteen years of blogging, I am sharing a post from the archives each month.  This post was first published in Summer of 2017.

I truly believe that there is something in our surroundings those first years of life that are embedded in our soul throughout the remainder of our years.  Perhaps unrealized, when we see an object or hear a song or smell the aroma of a certain food.  We remember...

In late summer and early fall, when the corn is high and becoming golden, I feel as if the year is wrapping up.  When I hear a train whistle in the distance, it brings a smile. When I grind wheat for bread, I'm once again five years old and living across the gravel road from the grain elevator where the train would stop when a load was ready.  It is such a similar aroma.

The orange day lilies growing along side the side of the country roads right now remind me always of my father and our walks in summer when the ditch lilies were blooming.  My wish for my last meal would be chicken fried in an iron skillet, mashed potatoes with homemade gravy, and cooked to death green beans.  My mother's signature meal. I even think of her when I pass a Kentucky Fried Chicken sign.

Although we were not farmers, we lived with the land as we raised chickens, a pig, other animals from time to time, and my parents always grew a huge garden.  My father loved to add to the family meals by hunting and fishing.  Weather was always a subject of importance for those of us in the country.

When I was in early elementary school, we moved to the very small town nearby where the backyard was long and narrow and ended up at a fence near the wetlands.  We called it a swamp.  My mother and other adults would tell children stories to keep them away from the swamp lands.  They worked to a certain extent.

There were no A Girl of the Limberlost style romantic tales of moths or butterflies in these stories. The one I remember the most was about an entire tractor being sucked under by the quicksand.  I can't recall what happened to the farmer and I'm not sure it was actually a true story... or one invented to keep us out of the swamp. 

However, I had a fascination with the land so whenever possible, I made my way to a favorite climbing tree just beyond the fence and enjoyed looking at all the mysterious land.  Once in awhile, another young relative would join me.  We had a healthy fear of quicksand and snakes so we didn't go any farther. I don't think my mother ever caught on.  She may be turning over in her grave.

Growing up the way I did in my childhood, I understood why people value land whether it is to grow food or to protect swamps.  Ummmm.... wetlands.  It wasn't until most of the wetlands in this area were gone that we truly understood their value to much of nature.

As a young wife, I came to value health foods and supplements to improve my husband's immune system.  At the time, he did not realize much of his illness was made worse by being exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam.  We became immersed in finding out about healthy eating as well as beginning to learn about the affects of chemicals in our food, our rivers, our bodies.

A little later, when we lived in Iowa, I was the president of our local health food co-op and we used to laugh about the different kinds of people attracted to health foods.  For we tended to be either conservative Christian homeschoolers (although I didn't homeschool until my son was school age) or very far left hippy style liberals.

You know what?  We got along.  Just fine thank you very much.

Through the years our mutual interests bonded us together stronger than any differences in politics or religion.  I have had in-person friends and many online friends with these mutual interests but different politics and religions and we relished our similarities.  Until this past election.

Then the hate began and even longtime friends were unfriending each other.  People said such vial things that I was shocked.  Hateful words such as I have never experienced were spouted and there was no room at the health food or environment party for conservative Christians.

What happened?  Well, I've thought a lot about it this past year.  Part of it I think, is just the times we live in for those of us who believe we are near the return of Christ (which I do).  The Bible tells us in various places what the world will look like at this time but I'm still shocked.

However, I truly believe the excessive hate is because of the hit and run and anonymous nature of the Internet.  After all, I voted for Reagan and Bush and not one of my liberal friends disowned me at the time.  When Bill Clinton was elected, I went into a minor depression for a few weeks.  But I didn't disown any liberal friends.

Why?  Because we pretty much knew each other face to face.  We lived in the same neighborhoods and shared recipes and our kids played basketball together and we knew each other outside of any labels society would attach.

Take away the face to face knowing, making it all just a label stamped on by the mass media... add a few dozen or hundred or thousand nasty comments from people who will never know us face to face... and we have a whole new world out there.

Throw in the fact that most people can now join the world wide web on their phones (I still have a flip top), we rarely talk to people in person these days.  Yes, some may have a thousand friends on Facebook but do we really know them?

We make up our minds about each other according to what we are made to believe, not by what is reality.  We are being taught to hate but by whom?  Who is manipulating us behind the curtain?  Why is it that there may be a coming civil war in this country and how did we get there?

The only difference I can see from now and my former friendships is this... a combination of 24/7 news cycles and the Internet.  A new world of virtual reality in which people can hit and run comment anonymously and getting rid of friends is as easy as a single click.

I love the friendships I have developed through the Internet, many people for whom I have the same affection as I do those who live in the same town.  However, we do know that the enemy can take what is good and make it used for evil.  I just pray that in my own frustrations at what is written, God guide my fingers and my mouse as well as my tongue to show only grace.

Mentioned in this Blog Post

Girl of the Limberlost book... here. (Although a very old hardback copy would be wonderful if you can find it.  Gene Stratton Porter is a lovely writer, especially for nature lovers.)

Disclaimer: Most links to Amazon are Associate links.

PhotoThe road that runs by my part of the world.

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - A little Tookish adventure


I rarely write a blog post in the evening but I went on a Tookish adventure with Mr. and Mrs. Christopher and the kiddos today.  We had fun but it was unseasonably hot and by the time I arrived home, Florentine and I fell asleep watching The Zoo on Animal Planet.

However, I did want to quickly send out a hello today.  Oh, I did publish all the comments except for one that was obviously a spam comment that had slipped in with the rest.  If a comment didn't publish, it may have been too long for Blogger.  I do allow anonymous comments so that would not have stopped it.

In my research for the blog last week, it seems like everyone was talking about the energy crisis in Europe and other countries and how that will cause food shortages.  Parts of Europe depend on the food grown in greenhouses in the Netherlands for their fresh produce and the skyrocketing cost of energy is forcing them to shut down.  Which, won't help an already stressed food supply.

Now there is talk of a possible natural gas shortage in the U.S.  Which is incredibly difficult to believe.  Last year at this time, our country was exporting energy and now this year we are facing shortages.  It reminds us how quickly things can change.

Last week, I stopped by Goodwill to see if I could find winter tops that I like and I was happy to find a pullover top and an oversized sweatshirt.   Both are perfect for winter, especially to layer should it be necessary.  I don't stop by Goodwill often these days but each time I have been there in the past few months, it seems like their shelves are emptier, too.  

Thrift stores are such a good way to fill in wardrobe needs on a budget. Our local Goodwill tends to have very good clothes at a fraction of the price of brand new items.  What I save makes it possible for me to afford those new clothing items that I rarely find at Goodwill, like slacks that fit correctly.

Keep diligent, my friends.  Even adding to the pantry a little at a time and keeping a small pantry is well worth the thought put into it.  I noticed last week that paper products like TP and paper towels are now limited to two.  The shelves that held paper plates were almost empty and I bought the last large package of paper plates since we were almost out of them.

Something else I just remembered that I was going to say this week (it was really hot today and my brain is somewhat fried)... when stocking up on water be careful not to only stock the cases of individual bottles of water.  

We have gone through numerous water emergencies and the gallon size of water is much more practical if the water is turned off.  The individual bottles have their uses but remember that in an emergency, they also leave you with more trash that needs to be disposed of properly.

The above photo is one you may have seen before.  It was taken a few years ago on another Tookish adventure to the river.   I am much more like the Baggins clan these days and find adventures not so appealing.  However, family time is and after the last couple of years, we know how important it is to spend time together when given the opportunity.

Have a great week!

Sunday, October 03, 2021

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Answering a question about salvation and another about socialism


I thought a lot about the comment left last Sunday by a Canadian reader and felt the question was very appropriate.  Well, really two questions.  I will answer the question about if I would think you were a Christian first and the political question after that.  I always appreciate questions that are kindly asked.

First, only God knows the heart of a man (woman).  If one lives in the Church long enough, we are often surprised at the behavior of people we truly believe are saved.  Including myself when I look at past mistakes!  We cannot look at appearances and know if someone is truly a Christ follower.

I do know that going to a church doesn't make us a Christian, neither does belonging to a certain denomination.  I think the scariest verse in the Bible is not found among the imagery in the Book of Revelation but in the Gospels (Matthew 7:21-23) when Jesus warns the disciples that not everyone who thinks they are going to inherit the Kingdom actually will.  Jesus says that He never knew them, even though they did works in His name.

There was a saying going around when I was a young Christian that went, "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a Buick".  Even as a very young Christ follower, I got that imagery!

Salvation comes when we accept the gift that Jesus gave us when He lived a perfect life, died on the cross, and was resurrected.... taking the keys to life and death back from the enemy that our first parents had given up in Eden.  He restored our relationship with the Father!

When we confess that we are sinners (we are born with a sin nature) and ask Him to forgive us and confess that He is indeed the son of God who came to take away our sins... then the Bible says we are saved.  I think the book and movie The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe tells the story so well, especially when Aslan is comes back to life on the rock and tells the girls if the White Witch understood the ancient prophecies, she would never have taken his life. 

Do we ever doubt our salvation?  Some do off and on.  My own experience was so dramatic that I have had to repent of not following Him as I should but I didn't ever doubt my salvation.  I went from darkness to light overnight. However, I have known wonderful people who have had a struggle with their salvation because they did not "feel saved".

My story took place when I was in late Junior High/early High School and a student I barely knew asked my friend and me to a revival meeting taking place at her Wesleyan church.  Both my friend and I went and I received Christ as Savior.  I found out later that the congregation had been told to ask the least likely people they thought would ever come to Christ to that revival meeting.  Yes, Moi'.

After a great deal of childhood trauma and an extremely unhappy adolescence, I was already going down the wrong track in life.  Taking on more of the faults of my older half-siblings and my best friend was definitely on the wild side.  However, I had not stepped over into any of the bad behavior she already did... which, I know now was God's protection. 

You see, on the outside I already looked like someone who would never follow Christ but on the inside, I had been searching for God for a very long time.  I'm pretty sure it was the prayers of my aunt and grandmother.  I felt like I could hear Him call to me even as a young child.  But my parents were not Christ followers and except for playing records of hymns on the stereo, my parents didn't talk about God.

I think the hymns reminded my mom of her mother and not actually of a relationship with God.  She was not happy when I said I had accepted Christ as my Savior and kept telling me it would be another fad I would wear out eventually.  Obviously, that never happened. (I believe my mother later came to salvation in Christ and I pray my father did when he knew he was dying in the emergency room of a hospital.)

So, I would never say someone is or is not a Christian from outward appearance.  For, if all of that happened today, I would probably be the teenage girl with the purple hair and nose ring.

Christianity is not a religion like the other religions of the world.  It is a relationship with a Person who becomes our best friend when we spend time talking to Him and reading His Word.  As the years go by, we learn that we can trust Him even when life doesn't make sense.

The third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, comes to live within us and it is His strength that keeps us walking with Christ.  We cannot do it on our own strength.  That is why we must know Him personally and not as some kind of deity.

Now that I have walked with Him for so many decades, I can say that He is truly my best friend and I cannot wait for that day to see Him face to face.  Maranatha.

Second, as for how I could call our current administration socialist, I am an American History nerd so these are just my thoughts about how we can know where a party stands as far as capitalism or socialism.

In the United States, we have two main political parties and before the election, each political party has a political convention.  Long ago, it was not uncommon for the party not to know who was actually going to be on the ballot until the convention but these days... when each party starts the next political season before the new president is sworn in... it is usually well known who will be the candidate.

However, the other thing each party does is to write and decide upon their party's political platform that lays out exactly what the party believes as well as what they hope to obtain if elected. 

The two political parties have been at exact opposite ends of the spectrum for awhile now with the Republican party being pro-life and the Democratic party pushing for abortion through the time the baby is in the birth canal.  The Republican party tends to be against same sex marriage while the Democratic party promotes it.

Remembering that both parties are made up of good and bad people, those who are very well meaning and those who are corrupt.  It has been that way since the Fall and will be that way through the time of the Antichrist. 

The most basic definition of socialism is that the government owns (and/or controls) industry, property, etc. and distributes wealth equally among all the population.  Which has never happened in the history of the world.  Capitalism is where individuals can work hard and obtain wealth without much government interference.  Which can be good and not so good when dealing with fallen humanity.

Of course, what is going on in America is much more complex than that right now with an extreme form of distribution of wealth by printing money like crazy and raising taxes.  There are also decisions being made that take away the rights of the states and individuals that are found in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution.

So many people, including myself, believe the American Revolution was a miracle because prior to it, the states didn't like each other and mostly did not work together for anything.  But they did come together to fight King George III for multiple reasons and miraculously won.

So, a Constitution was written but many would not sign it because they thought it didn't go far enough to protect individuals and the state from a federal government taking control.  

So, the Bill of Rights was added. It is often what is found in the Bill of Rights... that being the rights each American citizen can expect... when we hear today that the Constitution is being torn apart in Washington.

The United States of America (again, which is a miracle) was to be a country ruled by the people at the local and state level.  The federal government was to have limited power as described in the Constitution.  The actual Bill of Rights can be read... here.

I hope that answers both questions.  Sorry about the length of this post but it took awhile to explain everything.

Mentioned in this Blog Post

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe book... here

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe film... widescreen DVD here and Amazon Video... here.

Saturday, October 02, 2021

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - In which I have proof God has a sense of humor


It is October, my favorite month of the year!  While May is beautiful and November has Thanksgiving and December has Christmas... October is still my favorite.  I'm not sure what our color will be like here, there are definite changes now but we had a very hot and dry summer, which does not make for stunning Autumnal colors.

I had already purchased two inexpensive mums for the porch and yesterday I bought a big pumpkin at Aldi (less than $3.00) and two pie pumpkins this morning to place between the mums.  Along with a couple resin pumpkins, they make the porch ready for enjoying the season.

As to God's sense of humor, you may recall last week when I said I much prefer baking from scratch and kind of get all snooty about cake mixes?  Well, as I was perusing Facebook during one of those rare times I view it other than weekends, I saw a recipe for a type of blond brownie that I had to try.  After all, I had a box of yellow cake mix already a couple of months past its' Use By date so, there was my excuse.

It was quite good and very easy.  I could still taste the salt but perhaps if I add vanilla next time, it will help.  I think the reason I find so many cake mixes salty is that they usually are made with table salt and I have stayed away from it for a couple decades at least.  Table salt (think Morton's) now has a chemical taste when I eat it in foods.

I use mostly Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt or any other good sea salt.  I have a fine ground of Himalayan pink salt in my salt shaker.  I even have Maldon sea salt flakes that I have kind of hoarded through the years.  But all of these are a natural salt and not made chemically like table salt.

Back to the recipe, I think most people will like it.  I froze a lot of it since I can't eat too much sugar at one time and when I cut the "cookie" in half in the 9 x 13 pan, it came out of the greased pan easily and I was able to freeze it in foil just as it came out.  It should be easy to slice and defrost at a later time.

I'll type out the recipe below.  It is probably good with any flavor of cake mix but it called for a yellow or white mix.  It is the kind of quick recipe that I liked to have when there were young kids in the house and little ones came over to play.

{Mr. & Mrs. Christopher just attended the wedding in North Carolina of one of those little boys who would stop by and check to see if there were cookies in the glass biscotti jar where I kept them.  Time goes so fast!}

So, the whole cake mix thing didn't stop there because my grocery store had confetti cake mix and confetti icing on sale last week, which is the one cake mix I had on my grocery list to "put back".  I bought two boxes for making cute celebration cupcakes quickly and two tubs of vanilla confetti icing for the cupcakes. 

I don't often buy icing in a tub and who knew the various confetti icings came in neon colors now?  I had to search for vanilla in the midst of all that food coloring.  As a mother of a very ADHD child, I wanted to make the sign of the cross in front of all those additives. (Believe me, manufactured food coloring could send my son into a tizzy!)

But I digress...

As far as what it looks like in my grocery stores, I went to Meijer and Aldi for my big monthly stock up shopping.  Meijer had a lot of empty spaces on their aisles.  There were just a few packages of frozen potatoes in the entire section where one would usually find them.  Their frozen vegetables that I usually buy were sparse.  

I was able to buy a medium size bag of kitty kibble but there were only a couple of large bags and neither of them were brands I recognized.  Other aisles had spaces but there were still items to purchase, perhaps a different brand than one usually buys.   

Prices have gone through the roof in some food items.  Whoever is saying that our food prices have gone up about 3% have not shopped lately.  Not to mention I noticed a lot more sizes of packaging being reduced.  My grocery bill at Meijer was $20.00 more than usual and the only meat I bought was a package of beef bones for $10.00 for the deep freeze.

Aldi was fairly well stocked, they still had less dairy than they once did and I noticed there were fewer packages in the meat department.  I had to go to Kroger this morning as someone's husband forgot to buy his wife's organic whole milk (he drinks almond milk) but I didn't mind because I wanted to look through their selection of frozen vegetables.

I was able to buy all the frozen vegetables I needed as well as a package of frozen potatoes I needed for a recipe.  I took the time to look up and down a few aisles and Kroger looked well stocked.  It was the best stocked during the COVID lockdowns, too.  Probably because it is the largest grocery chain in the country?  

The only thing I noticed not in stock was Essenhaus canned beef but they had a lot of Essenhaus canned chicken.  Which is the opposite of Meijer, they had plenty of Keystone beef but no Keystone chicken.

I also decided while at Meijer to go up and down some of their non-food aisles and found empty shelves in their camping and outdoor section.  There were a few rows of shelves that had perhaps six or seven coolers spaced out among the shelves.  

I don't recall who it was that I was watching recently that said when a store they go to often was remodeled recently, they had put all of their camping and outdoor supplies behind locked glass containers.  I know, he couldn't figure out why, either. They didn't include any weapons or anything having to do with them that one could understand being behind locked doors.

Now for the recipe and then I will share a couple favorite cookbooks, again.

Lazy Cake Cookies

  • 1 box yellow or white cake mix
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 5 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 cups mini chocolate chips (I used 1-1/2 cups regular chocolate chips)

Mix together ingredients.  Put batter in a greased 9 x 13 pan. (I had to use the back of large spoon to press it down completely.)  Bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes. 

I'm sharing two favorite cookbooks this week.  One I purchased a year ago and the other about six years ago.


Little House Living
is a cookbook by Merissa Alink of the Little House Living blog.  It not only has regular recipes in it but it has a lot of recipes for cleaning products as well as a large section about "Make Your Own Mixes".  

I've had this book for a long time and there is a lot to read in it.  I need to dust it off and reread sections to make some of my own mixes that I haven't thought of before.  Her blog is still a fun read, too.

The paperback version of Little House Living is... here.  There are third-party copies available of the book in hardback, too.  The Kindle version is... here.


I purchased The Gathering Table: Growing Strong Relationships through Food, Faith, and Hospitality last year.  It is one of those beautiful books about hospitality from a Christian perspective.  

It is divided by the four seasons: Spring: Family Picnic in the Park, Ladies Brunch, Tea Party; Summer: Favorite Pie Party, Anniversary Picnic, Sweet Corn Factory; Fall: Hayride, Easy Sunday Supper & Bonfire, The Pumpkin Patch, A Real Tailgating Party; Winter: Friday Night Pizza Party, Snow Day, The Big Game.

This book is available in hardback at an excellent price... here.

Also Mentioned in this Blog Post

Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt... here.

Maldon Sea Salt flakes... here.

Note:  Blogger only shows five blogs I link to under "Favorites" now but if you click on "Show All", they will all appear and Little House Living has a link there.

Disclaimer:  Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.

Image:  Cookbook and Apples