Monday, January 28, 2019

Currently ...

Reading ... I'm in Proverbs in my Bible. In other reading, I'm in-between books at the moment, but I have a stack of books here that are waiting to be read. It includes the latest by Suzanne Woods Fisher, Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan, and a non-fiction Happy Wives Club by Fawn Weaver. My cookbook pile from the library is substantial, and I'm hoping to enjoy some of those later today to see if I can find a recipe or two we might like to try. As always there's also the stack of books Steven and I enjoy as part of our bedtime routine. Last night that included the book, Billions of Bricks. It was a hit, partly because it was construction related, and partly because it was written in rhyming form which made it extra enjoyable for both of us.

Writing ... not much at the moment. I still haven't upgraded to the latest Word program, which means any writing I'm doing is limited to letters, emails, texts, and blog posts.

Watching ... the sun begin to tint the eastern sky in a frigid glow.

Listening ... to the hum of the refrigerator in the kitchen, the ticking of the clock on the wall, and the fun noise a pencil makes as it travels across paper.

Eating ... I haven't eaten anything yet today, but yesterday we had baked chicken. I also, for the first time in months decided to have a bowl of cold cereal. Big mistake! I think I'd rather give birth than go through the aftermath of that again.

Drinking ... mostly water, though I did enjoy a cup of hot chocolate yesterday.

Wearing ... a comfortable and unattractive dress that I hopped into this morning. I decided since I'll be changing in a few hours any way, that it will be okay until then. Hopefully no one will stop in before then.

Loving ... all the birds that are using the bird feeder we have behind our house. They're so much fun to watch!

Disliking ... how close our neighborhood made it onto the news after a snowplow did not stop for the school bus that was stopped for our neighbor's children. Thankfully, nothing bad happened, but it could have very easily.

Crafting ... we have several different craft projects going at the moment. There are two applique lap quilts in progress, a scarf that is almost done being knitted, and an apron that still needs its pocket. We made a few giant pom poms for Steven last week for a game he wanted to play.

Wanting ... to list some things on ebay that we don't need any longer.

Later today ... we'll be heading to the dentist for routine check ups and cleaning of teeth. I'm hoping no cavities will be found. I'm also hoping that there will be room to park in his tiny parking lot, other wise I'll have to parallel park along the street, and it just so happens that is one of my least favorite activities.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Busy Family

    One little known fact about me ... I love cookbooks, trying new recipes, and working in the kitchen.
    Okay, long time readers of my blog may already know that. Judging by the stacks of cookbooks I check out from the library regularly I'm sure the librarians know it. Receiving cookbooks as gifts may be a sign that friends and family know it as well. I guess it may not be such a little known fact after all.
   A little over a month ago I received a new cookbook, Busy Family Menu Planning. I paged through it a little, noting the many different recipes that I wanted to try. It was close to Christmas though, and I had already planned our menus until after the holidays which meant it took a little time before I returned to my new cookbook.

   Once I did though, oh my! I love it! It stands out above all the other cookbooks I have ever used. First of all, I want to make every single recipe in the book. That's huge! No other cookbook has ever come close to that. Oh, we've attempted cooking our way through a cookbook before, but there were always so many things we didn't care for that we gave up. This cookbook has recipe after recipe of things I know my family will love. All of them! I will finally be able to cook my way through an entire cookbook, with the family appreciating everything I make.
    What makes this cookbook extra special is that it is set up into ten weeks. Each week has a menu prepared with recipes for breakfast and dinner, and a convenient complete shopping list. It makes it so easy! I love menu planning, but I've really been loving having it planned out for me already.
    We have a birthday coming up soon, and the one celebrating has already requested her favorite (so far) from the book for her birthday dinner. Chicken and Dumplings, made in the slow cooker.

     I really can't say enough about how much I love this book. I love that there are full color pictures of each recipe and easy instructions. I love the pre-planned menus and shopping lists. I love that it easily lays flat and you don't have to struggle to have it remain open at the correct recipe as you're cooking. And of course I love all the delicious recipes. The first evening I used it I managed to get something on one of the pages. I was so disappointed in myself, but wouldn't you know it ... with the semi gloss paper the pages are made of I was able to wipe it off without any damage to my new book.
    Last evening I reached out to the creator of this cookbook to tell her how much I love it, and that I'm planning to write about it on my blog. I was not asked to do a review, I simply wanted to share about a cookbook that has a cookbook lover like me, excited.
    She offered to share a link where you can sign up with your email and receive week one of menu planning, shopping list, and recipes to download, for free! So generous! You can do that here.
    You can order your own copy of the cookbook here.
    So far it seems each week of menus is better than the previous one, and every single recipe we've made has been delicious. I can't wait to cook my way through the remainder of the book, and then continue using it regularly in the years to come. It's a true gem in the world of cookbooks, and I'd love if you could use it to cook along with me.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Wednesday Medley

1. National Pie Day is celebrated annually on January 23rd. (Not to be confused with March 14 which is PI π Day.) Okay, fess up. Tell us your top three favorite pies, please. Will you have some pie today?

My top three favorite pies are cherry, pumpkin, and pecan with actual pecans or switched out for rice krispies which is still fabulous, but those with nut allergies can enjoy it as well.

I will most likely have pie today. I cleaned and organized our freezer yesterday and decided it's time to use the berries we picked last summer. That means time to bake some pie.

Pie is probably my favorite dessert, but only if they are homemade.

2. While we are talking about food ... are you a picky eater or are you ready to try almost any new food? What is the worst thing you have ever eaten?

I'm not a picky eater, though there are a few items on the food list that I won't touch. For example ... black eggs, caviar, balut, and I'm sure a few other things as well. In the realm of actual food I'm open to try almost anything.

Oatmeal though ... I just can't. I grew up having it for breakfast every single morning. I didn't enjoy it then, but my aversion to it only intensifies the older I get.

The worst thing I ever tried eating was octopus. It was very similar to trying to eat a spicy rubber band. I'm guessing that had something to do with preparation though, and I would be willing to give it another chance.

3. Baking could be considered an art, as could cooking. How do you define art?

The possibilities when it comes to art are nearly endless. To me it can be anything someone enjoyed creating.

4. Tell us a really stupid joke that made you laugh, please.

I dreamed I was a muffler last night. I woke up exhausted.

5. January 23rd is also National Handwriting Day. Do you have nice handwriting? Did cursive writing come naturally or did you practice in those double lined practice books until your fingers hurt?

I've been told I have nice handwriting, but I want to get better at it.

I was introduced to cursive in second grade and we used to have to practice it as our first thing every morning in school. In seventh and eighth grade I had a teacher who demanded perfection in penmanship. Her red pen marked up my handwriting every single day, though I did my best. At the time she annoyed me, but it was during that time I made the most improvement in my handwriting.

We used the double lined paper in first and second grade, but switched to this green lined paper from third grade to graduation.

6. Tell us something random about your week.

I've been limping when ever I walk ever since I got up this morning, because the ankle I broke 20+ years ago is hurting a LOT! I'm guessing there's some interesting weather on its way.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Wednesday Medley

For a number of years I used to participate in what was known as The Wednesday Hodgepodge, where its creator, Joyce, would provide a list of questions for us to answer. Sadly, she retired from that last fall, but happily a fellow hodgepodger has resurrected it on her blog. The name has been changed to Wednesday Medley, and I'm happy to participate once again.

1. Wednesday, January 16th, is National Do Nothing Day!! National Nothing Day was proposed in 1972 by columnist Harold Pullman Coffin. This day has been observed annually since 1973. Of course, the way to celebrate it is to do nothing!   To commemorate Do Nothing Day in SOME way, tell us something about your life (or the life of someone close to you) in 1973!! 

I wasn't alive in 1973, and my parents were only young teenagers. 1973 happened to be somewhat monumental for them though since that is the year they met.

My Dad used to love sharing the story of how they met. He and his family had just moved hundreds of miles to a new community several months prior. On this particular Sunday one of his friends had convinced him and one of  his sisters to visit one the neighboring Amish churches. After lunch he had wanted to talk to his sister about their plans for the afternoon, and he rounded the corner of the house just as my Mom stepped out on the porch to throw the dishwater away. He was left dripping from head to toe while she was absolutely horrified at what had just happened. Once he wiped the water from his eyes he saw her. He always liked to say it was love at first splash.

2.  Now that we are thinking back, please tell us what your favorite past time was as a child.

One of my favorite things to do as a child was losing myself in a good book. I would read when ever I had a chance, and at times when I should have been doing other things. 

3.  What is the best way to cheer you up on a bad day? 

The best way to lift my spirits is to start singing.

4.  How old were you when you first started dating? Do you remember your first date?

I had my first official date when I was seventeen, and yes I still remember it clearly. I ended up marrying him several years later.

5.  Today is also National Fig Newton day.  Do you like figs/Fig Newtons?

Yes, I like Fig Newtons. I hardly ever have them, but I enjoy them when ever we do. I love figs. Dried figs are delicious, fig jam is always a treat. So far I've never met a fig I didn't like.

6.  Tell us something random about your week.

Steven remembered this set of wooden shapes we have, and went searching for them. He's spent quite a bit of time creating various patterns with them.

I love technology free activities!

Monday, January 14, 2019

My Day in Moments

I decided to do a little something different today and have a running diary of sorts about my day. I'll update this post thoughout the day with the latest bits and pieces that happened.

4:30 AM My alarm clock jangled annoyingly loud and I shut it off and got up. I went through my normal morning routine, and feeling fresh and ready for my day I filled a pot with water and set it on the stove for LV's coffee. While it heated I sat down to read my Bible.

5:25 AM I logged into Facebook to wish those celebrating a birthday today a happy birthday. I then did a quick scroll through the feed to see what my friends have chosen to share.

5:35 AM  It's time to get breakfast. I heated the skillet and opened the fridge to retrieve the eggs I needed. They were buried under yesterday's leftovers so I make a quick mental note what I want to make for lunch with them today. With the eggs beginning to sizzle in the skillet I turn off the heat and covered the skillet and head upstairs to wake LV. Breakfast was a quiet affair as the eggs, cold cereal, and coffee were consumed.

6:00 AM Kenneth said his good-bye, and I wished him a great day at work as he left. I sat down at our school table to write out all the school work assignments for the day in the girls' logbooks. It took a little longer than usual because I had to prepare the new workbooks first. Adding their names and the date to the covers, removing the tests and tucking them away to be used at the completion of the workbooks in three weeks.

6:30 AM LV left for work after we said our good-byes and I headed upstairs to wake the girls. I opened their bedroom door and flicked the light on. Sharon was in her bed, but Rosie Mae's bed was empty. I went downstairs and looked in the living room to see if she was there. There was no sign of her whereabouts as I dashed from room to room ... visions of the horror of what Elizabeth Smart lived through flitting through my mind. "Where's Rosie Mae?" I ask Sharon as soon as she stumbled sleepily down the stairs.
She shrugged her shoulders in an unconcerned manner.
"Please, help me look for her," I said, trying to keep the desperation from my voice.
Rosie Mae was found safely curled up in the storage room doing a Bible study, blissfully unaware of the scare she had given me.
"I woke up early this morning, and didn't want to wake Sharon by turning on the light." was her explanation. "Or disturb your morning routine," she added when I asked why she didn't simply bring her Bible downstairs to read.

7:00 AM We hurried through our morning chores of getting the house tidied. We got it all done except for vacuuming the floors which would have to wait until Steven woke up.

7:30 AM We settled in to get school work done. The girls with their books, and me with a recipe book until they had completed a subject or two so I could check their work.

9:00 AM Steven makes his way slowly down the stairs. "I've decided I'd like cheerios for breakfast," he says before taking care of his morning freshening up. I prepare breakfast for him, and set up his little table and chair to be ready to do school as soon as he is done eating.

10:30 AM The girls are done with their school work. Sharon quickly vacuums the living room and school room while Rosie Mae heads to the kitchen to make blueberry syrup. Steven finished his math and happily continued on to the subjects he likes better. I do some writing at the computer as I keep my eye on the his school work and make sure he understands what he's doing.

11:30 AM I cleared away all the school books for the day, fold up the little chair and table and tuck them in their slot beside the roll top desk. It's time to think of lunch. Chicken broth makes a nice carrier for leftover meats and vegetables and a new soup is born.

12:00 PM Lunch is ready. We filled our bowls and decided it might be fun to watch an old episode of "I Love Lucy" while we eat.

1:00 PM With the lunch dishes cleared away and the kitchen tidied up Steven and I decided to do a craft project that tied in with his geography. He helped me dig up all the craft supplies we needed and we proceeded to build a little globe. The felt continents we attached to it only somewhat resemble the actual shapes, but he's happy with how it turned out so I guess I am too.

2:00 PM Sharon prepared the fabric Minnesota state shape for her appliqued United States lap quilt she is working on. She asked me to baste it to the quilt top so she can applique it.

2:15 PM I opened my treadle sewing machine and did a thorough clean and maintenance on it since it had been resting patiently for months and I'm hoping to get some sewing done later this week.

3:30 PM Sharon and I left to do an errand in town and then headed to Napa to pick Kenneth up after he dropped his vehicle off to have an issue taken care of. While he was talking to the mechanics Sharon and I sat in the vehicle and visited as we waited on him.

5:00 PM We arrived home and hurried in through the snow and cold. Kenneth went to shovel snow from the front porch and steps so I can use those instead of having to go through the basement when I leave the house. Steven and I read another chapter from his reading book.

5:45 PM Sharon and I left to go to her piano lesson. I grabbed a book by Lori Copeland and tucked it into my purse on the way out of the house. The piano lesson went well, but for some reason I couldn't really concentrate on my book, so I stuffed it back into my purse and simply sat there with my thoughts until it was over.

6:45 PM Arrived home to supper ready and waiting on the table. Rosie Mae had done an excellent job making fancy burgers and all the trimmings.

7:15 PM Dishes were cleared away and the kitchen tidied. An hour of relaxing with books for those who wish to read, and a game with Steven before bedtime.

8:30 PM Teeth have been brushed, time for a bedtime story and saying good night to all.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Not so Happy Planner

   I like making lists, and find that I'm more apt to actually get things done if I map out my ideas, plans, and goals.
    I don't plan my days out down to the minute, or stick to a rigid schedule, but if I want to make sure to get a special project done it helps if I plan ahead to do it on a certain day. 
    Enter the Happy Planner. I had heard a lot about Happy Planners. I saw the lovely spreads others were doing in them, and thought it would make a pretty keepsake type of thing to look back on, especially since my journaling has become sadly lacking.
    The girls found some at a greatly discounted price, and so the three of us embarked on the Happy Planner journey.

    I soon found that I don't really care for the planner. The little squares were much too small for me and my need for words. I stuck to it though, week by week preparing a pretty spread with only the tiniest amount of actual plans and highlights.

      My actual planning took place elsewhere, and the happy part of the Happy Planner was feeling like more of a chore and not so happy to me.
     I tried my best to like this planner, but have finally admitted defeat. I'll be returning to using only my binders and the loose leaf paper that I can write as much or as little as I want to. I can plan out my days complete with menus for our meals, books to read or request from the library, crafts I want to do, tasks I need to get done, phone calls to make, appointments, and any other little thing that I may want to add. There's room for it all. 
     I liked the washi tapes and stickers that came with the Happy Planner, I may even miss them just a little, but not enough to that I want to return to it. 
      To all the ladies who love their Happy Planners. I'm so happy for you! I wish I could be numbered among you. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

Encounters at the Grocery Store

     With next week's menu planned and the grocery list in hand we headed out on our weekly grocery run.
      Arriving at Aldi I hurried through the cold, into the questionable warmth inside. Grocery stores aren't known for their coziness, but even those temperatures felt better than waiting outside in the snow and wind while LV and his quarter selected a cart.
     We made our way up the first aisle checking off the items on our list as we went along. Rounding the corner we met some people we knew and stopped to talk for a minute or two before resuming our quest to find the groceries we needed.
     And thus the awkwardness began. Entering another aisle, we met the same people. What were we supposed to do? Ignoring them felt rude, acknowledging them again felt weird, so an awkward smile would have to suffice as we continued our mission.
    Meeting again and again in other aisles felt more awkward each time. It was with a sigh of relief when we got checked out and exited the store.
    Finishing up at Aldi and heading to Walmart to get the remaining items on our list, the last thing we expected was to run into the same people again. Even the items in our cart felt noisy this time around. The pack of toilet paper sent out a beacon "Look at me! ... Look at me!" while the potato chips for LV's lunch box seemed to wave for attention.
    I love friends, and meeting someone I know while out shopping is fine and even fun if it's a one time happening, but all the extra meetings and their layers of awkwardness about do me in.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

New Year's Thoughts

  I'm sitting in my favorite chair in the living room with my laptop open waiting for me to make a blog post. 
    Outside the window everything is in varying shades of drab browns and grays, except for the telephone wires that are stretched across my view. They have glistening raindrops clinging to them which makes things look just a little less gloomy for now. A fog is creeping in, inching its way down over the hills blanketing everything in its path in its misty shroud. It's only a matter of minutes before all the grays and browns have been swallowed up and I'll see nothing but fog.
    2018 had been the dreariest year I have ever experienced while living here. In total, we had only thirteen sunny days all year. Sunny as in, the sun shone from sunrise to sunset. There were days that the sun shone for a few hours, but then it rained or became overcast and cloudy.
    So far, even though we are only two days into the new year, we have yet to see the sun. 
    Growing up we always kept careful watch on the weather the first twelve days in January. Jotting down temperatures and weather conditions hourly. By studying it, we could predict the weather patterns quite accurately for the remainder of the year. Somehow we got away from doing that. Is it because weather no longer fascinates us as much? Are we too busy and it's too time consuming? Or …?
    Instead of focusing on the weather yesterday, the girls and I were working on our lists of things we hope to do this year. Our New Year's goals we tend to keep more on the fun side instead of imposing lifestyle changes or harsh rules upon ourselves that we would very likely not meet.
     We're still putting our finishing touches to them, and I'll share the lists once we've finished them. And as we do the things on those lists I might share them here as well.
     As I'm standing here at the beginning of a new year, I can't help but reflect on the year we have just completed. There were times of joy, times of sorrow. Blessings heaped upon blessings, and even during the hard times, God remained faithful, true, and ever present. And so as I look out at the year stretched out before us, I don't know what joy or pain lies ahead, but I'm so thankful I know Jesus and He knows me.