Sunday, October 22, 2017


Today, after church, we had our first choir practice in about 5 years.   We for have only been here 4. 

But I have the exciting privilege of directing our Christmas choir.  We are only singing two songs, but I am inordinately pleased about this opportunity.

My musical experience started as a young child.  Mom made sure to take me to children's choir practices.  As a teen I joined the adult choir.  I was in band from late elementary on.  I took several years of piano lessons.  A singing group in high school and college.  College music theory and conducting classes.  Choir and worship team experiences throughout adulthood.

I talk to my dad every morning.  He lives in assisted living.  My mom is his roommate.  She has had Alzheimer's for 12 years now and her care needs are very different than Dad's. 

But I asked Dad to pass this message along to her as it includes both of them.

Thank you:

  • for taking me to children's choir
  • for buying me a clarinet
  • for buying us a piano
  • for getting me clarinet lessons
  • for making sure I had to piano lessons
  • for 'reminding' me to practice
  • for driving me to rehearsals, concerts, marching band practices/games
  • for attending concerts and games
For giving me the gift of music.  It is such a privilege and I do not take it for granted.  Mom and Dad.  Thank you.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

not a food blog

Emboldened by Rachel's guest post on Annabel's blog, I decided to try my hand at homemade ravioli.

Although Rachel's instructions were very complete, I decided to leaf through my cookbooks and look for a ravioli recipe.  Unbelievably, the only cookbook that had one was my 1943 copy (formerly my mother-in-law's) of Joy of Cooking.

 Ravioli can be a carrier for almost anything.  Meats, cheeses, veggies.....
 I made a ricotta, egg, parsley and garlic filling.
 Brush with water.
 Cut with a pizza cutter.  I took a picture of the filled noodles boiling in water, but figured you didn't really need to see that.

I need to make this again.  First of all, I have more filling left and more cheese.  Secondly, although I got my pasta dough pretty thin, I think with practice, I can improve.  I might try a pesto topping as well.  Love pesto.

Even though I do not want to turn this into a food blog, there will be occasional recipes on here.

This was not as difficult as I thought and much more flavorful than the stuff in a can!

Upcoming recipes will be gluten free and dairy free.  Both my daughter -in - love and my granddaughter are gluten and dairy intolerant and other members of the family prefer to eat that way.

So please check back!  Have you ever made homemade ravioli?

Thursday, September 07, 2017

say it with coleus

I bought this handsome fella as a nod to my sweet  paternal grandmother who always had a cement toad (frog?) on her porch steps.  My sister has it now.  Fond memories.

Early in our marriage I discovered the joys of coleus.  A versatile plant.  Easily propagated.  At home outside during our summers, comfortable inside during the winter.

I haven't had any coleus for years now and this past spring went a little crazy, buying four plants.

There are so many different varieties and the colorful leaves have grown more striking as the years have gone on.

They are super easy to propagate.  Simply snip off (above two opposing leaves) a stem or five, put in a glass jar of water and wait.  They grow roots and then you plant them in a pot.

So my new venture is to become the crazy plant lady.  I have now potted up many cuttings and am on the hunt for more pots.

Apparently my brother in law has bought up all the pots at the antique/thrift stores in town, so I'll have to get up earlier in the morning to beat him.  :)

 Why so many coleus, you ask?

I'm glad you asked.    Flowers are expensive.  I have decided to add color to our garden and home by these  beauties.  AND...a pot of coleus taken to a sick or grieving friend will help brighten a little corner of their room.  Also suitable for birthdays or just because.
Always ready, frugally purchased, easily transportable and longer lasting than flowers, I think these make a perfect gift.

I've also had success rooting sweet potato vines and impatiens.

 How about you?

Monday, September 04, 2017


The seasons are changing.  There is a crispness in the morning air when I walk now.  Once in a while, I come across visible evidence of fall.

 And then more evidence.
A very close friend, who had moved away was in town recently.  We wanted to spend time with each other, but I knew that I couldn't be selfish, so I invited several other close friends.  All but three were able to make it.
 Speaking of seasons.  We have been through the seasons of life together.  Some of us knew each other before we were parents, as young marrieds.  Some of us knew each other before we knew Christ.

 Some of us made a plan.  We loved these gals and we gathered together as young moms.  We, for the most part, didn't work outside the home.  We also didn't have any disposable income. So we started a babysitting co-op and exchanged children instead of money.  ~smile~
 We had a point system to keep things fair.  As we watched each other's kids, we became closer, our kids became closer and the next part of our plan was put into play.
 Those of us who knew and loved Jesus, invited those who didn't know Him (yet!) to come to church.  We held Bible studies in various homes.   And  one by one these precious gals came to Christ.
 So, we began a season of growing together spiritually.  What a privilege.  I cannot begin to tell you how blessed I am to have these women in my life.
 As the years went on, our children grew closer.  Many of them still stay in touch..  Two of them got married.  :)  Some of them went to college together.

 And now, as I work in children's ministries at our church, I have the great honor of teaching some of these ladies' grandchildren.

We have grown up together.  In the LORD, in our marriages, in difficulties, in good times, in plenty and in want.  I am so blessed to have these women as friends.

We don't get together often enough. The year's melt when we are together.  Laughter and tears abound.  We are so blessed to share Jesus as our Savior. And lots of memories.

Now as we are in the season of grandmotherhood together, there are new stories, new difficulties, new blessings.

But we are still together, thanking God for His hand on our lives.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

meal plan part 2

 Just a couple of quick words about my meal plan.

First of all, calling it a meal PLAN, might be a bit generous.  We still basically fly by the seat of our pants around here.  But having been through a few situations, most memorably, my shattered elbow,
I like having food to spare.
That's easy to prepare.
Anytime, anywhere.
(Sorry, couldn't resist the rhyme..
.I was raised by Mother Goose,
 but that's a story for another time.)

Some of what I have could be easily heated up if one or the other of us is sick or other wise incapacitated.  If we get home later than expected and are hungry, we know we don't need to swing through the drive-through, we can just heat up a can of soup.

I'm not really preparing for the zombie apocalypse here, just ready for the everyday apocalypses.

One thing I have not done yet, because there are other things higher on the priority list, is to figure out exactly how much food we have.  As in how many meals.  For example, as you can see in the picture below, I have 11 cans of kidney beans.  Each can of kidney beans has 3.5 servings.  So, there are 38.5 servings of kidney beans available in my pantry.  Now, I prefer to eat them in chili, but if hungry, I would certainly not turn them down.

I have more green beans than anything else. 52.5 servings.  Since they are so plentiful, I would serve them more often.

With the variety of meat (except beef!!!) we have in our freezer and the fruits and vegetables on hand as well as some dairy and grains I could build a pretty varied meal plan.  And some day, perhaps I shall.

But for now, I've got a meeting to go to.  Homemade pizza dough is rising on the counter.  The sauce is made and the cheese is shredded.  When I get home at about 5:30 it will be easy peasy to assemble the ingredients and pop them in the oven for a hearty homemade deep dish pizza.


What do your pantry plans look like?


All these things were bought on sale.  Our little hedge against inflation.  Also...we can afford to be generous.  When a new family arrived in our church last month and were undergoing difficult circumstances (toxic black mold in their new home - yikes!!), we were able to quickly step in and provide several meals-without going to the store!).

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

meal plan

Hydrangea (pre-deer attack)

The resident fisherman was out doing what he does yesterday (fishing) and I had a rare fit of organization come over me.
After reading the post and  comments from Annabel's inspiring and encouraging blog, I donned my winter gloves and headed to the basement to inventory the freezer.

I set up a few card tables and pulled everything out.   I put all the things in categories: 

Main Course

Then within each category, I listed what we had:

Turkey Breast
Ground turkey
Chicken Breast
Sausage links  

(Apparently we are in crisis mode now as there was NO BEEF ANYWHERE TO BE FOUND IN THE FREEZER.  No worries,  since this is Labor Day weekend, there will surely be sales on Beef - ground and otherwise.)

Then as I put each item back, I tallied.

I am too lazy to take a picture of it, but it looked roughly like this:
Turkey breast     O
Ground Turkey    OOO
Chicken breast O
Sausage links )

Mixed O
Cranberries OOOO
Strawberries OO
Rhubarb OO

And so on...... 

Obviously, we are light on beef.  The ads come out tomorrow and I will rectify the situation immediately.

Buoyed by the sight of a nice, neat freezer, I came upstairs and tackled the fridge freezer.  Same system.  Different piece of paper.

Earlier this year I had already done the pantry, the lazy susan and the food stores we keep in the basement.  I would say 95% of our groceries were bought on sale.

I looked over my inventory sheets and roughly calculated the servings in each package of meat and some of the main dish type things like some homemade chili I have packaged up and frozen.

I came up with (roughly) 63 servings.  Just from our 2 freezers.  That would feed the resident fisherman and I for a while.  I did not count the other areas of food storage we have or the fridge.  I have 16 cans of canned soup alone  that would provide us with another 32 servings (2 per can).

Why am I mentioning this?   As of this writing, Houston is being inundated by Hurricane Harvey.  People are being flooded out of their homes.  Other people, sheltering in place, will be unable to find an open grocery store or restaurant for a little while yet.

Having a decent stockpile of food, means that (unless you are flooded out of course) you can shelter in place and feed yourself.  If we lost power, I could pressure can the meat and veggies and water bath can the fruits (gas stove).

If we had to evacuate our house (we are much more at risk for a forest fire than a flood here), I would grab a change or two of clothing, family documents and pictures, blankets, camping stuff and fill the rest of the car with food.

Hopefully, we will never have to do that.  But we are ready for other kinds of storms.  We have a rather large expense coming up in October.  Because of our deep pantry, we can divert money we would otherwise use for groceries in the next two months for that bill (which if paid in advance saves us 5%).

So, I save 25-50% on my grocery bills (I calculate my savings after every major shopping trip).  I 'snowball' that money into paying other bills advance when it is to my advantage to do so.

What do you do?  Do you have a deep enough pantry to get you through a rough patch?  A bout of flu?  An unexpected bill or job loss?  Or unexpected company?

I would love to hear your plans!

Oh, the circles after each item in each category?  When I use up, say, a bag of cranberries, I color in one circle to denote that it is gone.  If I buy more cranberries, I simply make another circle for each bag.  Every once or twice a year, I re-inventory.  You see, according to my previous inventory, we still had 4 pounds of ground beef in the downstairs freezer.  Someone forgot to color in his circles.  :)

The system works best if it is used properly.

Monday, August 28, 2017

while they are young

The beautiful monarda above, alas, no longer grace our front garden.  Mrs. Doe came in one night bringing Fawn (thing) 1 and Fawn (thing) 2 and taught them how delicious our bee balm are and how one should mow them down and not leave one single flower behind.

So that is what they did.

The resident fisherman has waged war on the deer.  He sprays bobbex.  He applies Deer Scram.  He bought wireless fences and recharges and refills them.   I fear he will follow Bill Murray's playbook in Caddyshack and resort to more drastic means.

The deer in our neighborhood refuse to believe what is written about them.  That they don't like: bleeding heart, daffodils, rhubarb, and several other things that if they don't like them, they certainly have been taught to clean their plates or go to bed without supper.

It is surprising that we have any flowers in our yard at all.

Hunting is prohibited in our little section of the northwoods, a land full of hunters, and the deer seem to know it.  It is not unusual for me to see 6-12 deer on my morning walk.  They are beautiful.  They would be even beautifuller if they did not make a salad bar out of our flower garden.


But they are doing something right.  Teaching their young while they are teachable where the good stuff is.

That is what we did with our kids and now our grandkids.  The kids loved  ( and love) going to church because we do.  They love Jesus.  They are teaching their kids to do the same and we get the fun of partnering with them on this.

This sweetie comes to spend time with us several times a week while Mommy and Daddy  work.  Every other week, when Mommy has to work on  Sunday she comes here and we take her to church where her daddy is associate pastor.  While we buckle her in the carseat we say, "We're going to church!"  She says, "Yay!" and claps.

Like our neighborhood deer, we are teaching our little ones while they are young.  We know where the good stuff is too.