Thursday, January 29, 2009

A New Book

I have recently begun reading a book that I have been wanting to get my hands on for quite some time. It has always been one of those "one of these days I will get around to ordering it" type of thing. I finally broke down and actually spent a moment going through the ordering process at Amazon. I'm not very far into it, but I could tell immediately that it was going to be good. Certain books I like to read and then re-read right away just to make sure I don't miss anything good. This book falls into that category. The book is:

and if you are interested, it can be ordered here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

24 Hours in a Day

I realize that there are 24 hours in each day. But I tend to think that some people actually have more hours in their day than I have. I know that my days go by very quickly being filled with home school, laundry, cleaning, preparing meals, and the usual day-to-day activities that we all have. I try to squeeze extra moments in here and there for reading and sewing. Usually those moments are in the evening; but I am an early to bed type of person, and so the evening moments aren't many. Sometimes I begin thinking that I just never get anything accomplished. For the past two years though I have begun a finished project list. Whenever I finish something, I jot it down in my little notebook, being sure to add the month it was completed. This way when I am feeling like I don't accomplish much, I reach for my notebook, and realize that I actually did get a number of things made throughout the year.

I still think that some people actually do get more than 24 hours in their days. I know of two women that surely must. I enjoy looking at their blogs because it is so inspirational to see how many projects they finish up in a very short amount of time. I don't think I could ever finish projects at their pace; but by reading about their successes, it makes me feel hopeful that if I just continue grabbing a moment here and there to work on my projects, they will get done. If you would like to see some beautiful crocheting, embroidering, and applique, then I highly recommend you take a look at Knot Garden and A Passion for Applique.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Little Bears

My two oldest daughters are very talented, especially when it comes to making tiny little things by hand. When they were quite young, they began sewing things by hand. They would make little stuffed animals and dolls for themselves to play with. Some form of clothing was always included with each little toy. At one point their grandmother gave them some suede cloth and a little tiny pattern for a miniature bear. They took to it immediately, and seem to have no difficulty at all working with such teeny tiny seams. For years one of my girls would enter one or more of her bears in the local fair. She won Grand Champion ribbons several times for her work. I would always be the honored recipient of one of her fair entries. Both of them though also have given me several bears as gifts. Each bear is only about 2 inches high. Here is a picture of my little collection:

All of the bears seem to have their own little personalities:

Most of them are made out of suede cloth, with a few out of felt. Some of them go together, and could never be separated:

There is even a king and queen in the back of the group. All in all a very happy bunch!

The Bottom Line

This morning I was reading Psalm 46. It begins "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea." And then picking it up once again in verse 10: "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" No matter what happens in our country, or in our personal lives, it all comes down to the fact that God is God. In the end He will be exalted over all. There is no altering that in any way. It will happen. So in the meantime, any self pity we might feel about personal issues, grumbling and complaining about our new leaders (whom God has appointed by the way), are all just a waste of time and energy. I think a better use of our time would be to spend more time in prayer, being thankful for all of our many blessings, turning to God in our troubled times taking advantage of the refuge that He offers us, and especially spending time being still knowing that He is God. I like the words "be still". No room for anxiety, having a critical spirit, grumbling, or complaining there.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Turkey, Vegetable, and Rice Soup

I have mentioned before that in November I like to take advantage of the sales of turkeys in the grocery stores. I literally use turkey all throughout the year in a number of dishes that call for cooked chicken. Yesterday seemed like a "soup" kind of day, so in the morning I put together this recipe in the crockpot. I guess it was a hit because my husband told me that this was the best soup that I had ever made. In light of that, I thought I would share the recipe just in case any of you have a "soup" kind of day coming up.

Turkey, Vegetable, and Rice Soup
Hot, cooked rice (prepared just prior to when you plan on serving the soup)
8 cups of boiling water
3 tablespoons of McCormick Chicken Base
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups sliced carrots
2 cups sliced celery
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
3 tablespoons dry parsley flakes
4 cups diced cooked turkey (or chicken)

Add chicken base to boiling water and set aside. (Or you can use 8 cups of your favorite chicken stock or bouillon). In large crockpot, combine all remaining ingredients (except rice). Pour prepared chicken broth over vegetables and seasonings. Mix well. Cook on low for 8 hours. When ready to serve, place hot rice in the bottom of each bowl, and ladle hot soup over the top of it.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Of all of the needle and hand arts, embroidery is undoubtedly my first love. I didn't discover it until I was in 7th grade. At the time I was more interested in any kind of sports activity. We had moved to a new town, and I was amazed at all of the different sports offered for girls at my school. I signed up for every single intramural sport offered throughout the school year. Previous to our move, softball, tether ball, and jump rope were about all that was ever available for girls to play. But then in the spring, one of my sisters was in a serious car accident, and was laid up in bed for quite some time. She was unable to go up and down the stairs, so my parents set up a bed for her in our dining room. It seems as if my sister, Molly, had always been a fabulous seamstress. She could also knit and crochet; and seemed to excel at anything she laid her hands on. During her recovery time, she picked up embroidery. I remember being very fascinated with her work, and wanted to try it myself. There was something about it that I really enjoyed doing. I had never seen any of my friends doing any kind of sewing or hand work, and thought that I had better keep my new found hobby to myself. I guess it was just that good old public school peer pressure coming into play. But I didn't let it stop me from enjoying my embroidery. I have continued to embroider ever since. It was always one of the first things that I taught my kids to do as well. When each of them turned approximately 3 years old, they would always want to embroider with me. So I would give them a piece of cross stitch cloth, and a blunt needle, and they would have so much fun sewing with me. I saved all of those little projects that each of them had made. They hold sweet memories.

Last year I began a snowman redwork project. The pattern is entitled "Winter Wonderland" by Crabapple Hill. This is the first redwork that I have ever done. I only completed one block last year before I got busy with all of my gardening activities. But this year, I have placed this project on one of my lists of projects to finish during the year; and hope to continue on with it even through the busy gardening months. Here is a picture of my one and only completed block:

And here is a picture of the one I am currently working on:

And just to get back to my sister, Molly, for a moment. She did recover from her car accident just fine. And she has always been a source of inspiration to me. Even now, I still always think of her as being able to sew or make anything. She is extremely talented, and I am blessed to have her as my sister.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Joyful Snowmen

When I put away all of the Christmas decorations, I usually allow a couple of snowmen to remain unpacked to keep me company through the month of January. One in particular that I have kept out for the past couple of years is a small watercolor that one of my daughters painted for me. I just love him. He sits on my windowsill above my kitchen sink, and smiles at me every time I am there. This Christmas I received a new snowman to sit beside him. I felt that the new addition matches my little painting quite well; and now I have two joyful snowmen sitting in my kitchen.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Red Batter Bowl

I tend to be a very practical type of a person. When I see something I would like, I very rarely buy it. I comment to myself about how nice it would be to have it, and then I go about my business. One such item is a red batter bowl. I have wanted a red batter bowl for probably 4 or 5 years. Yes, years. I see them in catalogs, and always comment about how much fun it would be to have one. I see them in stores, and tell myself that some day I am going to buy one for myself. The years have gone by and still I have not purchased a red batter bowl. It isn't like it is an expensive item that I need to budget for; but in the back of my mind, I know I am thinking practically and wondering if it is really something I need or just want. Just this past November I was shopping with my youngest daughter, and saw one in a store. I made the usual comment about how some day I was going to buy myself a red batter bowl. Apparently as soon as we got home, she mentioned to her sisters that she knew exactly what she was buying me for Christmas. Yes, she did indeed buy me a red batter bowl. I was thrilled!! And since she had made a recent request for pancakes, this weekend I honored that request, and put my new red batter bowl to good use.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Blueberry Surprise

My husband's favorite dessert is what we have come to call "Blueberry Surprise". I have no idea at what point in our marriage this recipe took on this particular name, but I can only remember referring to it as such. I clipped it from a magazine in our first few months of marriage, taped it to a recipe card, and that is exactly how it has remained to this day (which was 32 years ago). I think it was featured in a Jello Pudding advertisement, and the actual name that is on the card is "Luscious Layered Blueberry Delight". It is very quick to put together; although it does need to sit in the refrigerator about 3 hours before serving. Whenever I take it to family gatherings, it is usually gone in a matter of minutes. I made it for my husband yesterday. I thought that since he is suffering from a cracked rib that he received on Saturday while snowmobiling, this might ease the pain slightly. I think it helped.

Blueberry Surprise

14 whole graham crackers (personally, I never count them, I just use how many it takes)
1 pkg. (6-serving size) vanilla instant pudding
1 cup thawed Cool Whip
1 can (21-oz.) blueberry pie filling

Line a 9-inch square pan with whole graham crackers, breaking crackers, if necessary. Prepare pudding mix as directed on package for pudding. Let stand 5 minutes. Fold in whipped topping. Spread half the pudding mixture over the crackers. Add another layer of crackers. Top with remaining pudding mixture and remaining crackers. Spread pie filling over the top layer of crackers. Chill 3 hours. Makes 9 servings.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Salsa Chicken

I love a quick meal just as much as anyone. This recipe is so easy, it is just too good to be true. My family really enjoyed it, and I plan on adding it to my list of regular recipes. I found it in my Fix-It and Forget-It Big Cookbook . In the book, the recipe is actually entitled, "Can-You-Believe-It's-So-Simple Salsa Chicken", and can be found on page 375 for those of you that might have the cookbook.

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
16-oz. jar chunky-style salsa, your choice of heat
2 cups shredded cheese, your choice of flavor

Place chicken in slow cooker. Pour salsa over chicken. Cover and cook on low 5-8 hours, or until chicken is tender but not dry. Top individual servings with shredded cheese. Serve this over cooked rice, or in a whole wheat or cheddar cheese wrap.

How about that for an easy dinner.

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Robin's Nest

God's creation is amazing. I know I have probably said this before; but I never get tired of pondering this particular topic. This past summer we had a robin that built a nest in a tree next to our deck. It was in a location that if we stood in just the right spot, we could watch her sitting on her nest. God created the birds with wisdom enough to know just where to build their nests, and how to build them with strength to endure the elements. Our robin built hers just high enough so that the sprinkler wouldn't hit it, and it was in a nice strong spot in the tree where the winds didn't bother it, and she couldn't be seen by her predators. This winter I have been watching the empty nest. We have had some amazing weather --- heavy snow, high winds, and freezing rain --- and after all of this, the little nest is still sitting right in the same spot not seeming to be affected by any of it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


I am in a constant state of wanting to be organized. I feel like I never, ever reach my desired goals. It can seem overwhelming at times. But I forge ahead just the same. With the page having turned to a new year, it of course gets me thinking of all of the ways that I want to get organized this year. I have the yearly list made out, and have actually even begun some of the items on that list. Maybe, just maybe, this year will be my year. In light of my hopeful outlook, I found these fun organizing ideas on The Farm Chicks blog.

I love the little tins, and the red polka dot paper in the front of the plastic storage boxes. Since I am wanting to get organized, I might as well make it look cute.

My sister, Kass, told me about this blog, and I have been recently reading through some of their entries. They have some great ideas, recipes, crafts, etc. After you read the above post, click on their main page, and see the other fun things they have to offer. As for me, I'm off to Michaels to try and find some red and blue tins with polka dot lids.

Monday, January 5, 2009

User Guides

I am a "by the book" type of person. When I receive a new appliance, or electronic device, I always sit down with the user guide first to read all about my new possession. My son and husband are totally the opposite. They would only read a user guide in an extremely rare circumstance (of which that circumstance I'm pretty sure has never occurred). They like to sit down with their new toy and just figure it out on their own. And they do a great job at it. My way takes longer, but I just want to learn about it the "right" way; and I think most of all, I don't want to miss something. I want to read about all of the features, and see what possibilities are just waiting for me to enjoy. And then here comes the lame part. I actually read the "Important Safety Precautions". But my main intention in reading these is for my amusement. I realize that most likely the sole purpose in a company publishing these is to protect them from lawsuits, not necessarily to protect the consumer from harm. In reading through my safety precautions for my new cell phone recently, I came across the funniest precaution that I have ever seen. This still makes me laugh: "Never place your phone in a microwave oven as it will cause the battery to explode." Why would someone even think of placing their phone in a microwave?

Friday, January 2, 2009

More Snow

This winter is only beginning, yet we have already set all kinds of snow records. If it keeps up at the current pace, we are really in for a lot of snow. Last year we set a record for the most snowfall received in one season. We actually had snowflakes falling from the sky on May 10, 2008. Of course none of it stuck, but it was snowing nonetheless. It will be very fun to watch and see what the Lord has in store for us this year.

A number of buildings have collapsed in the area this past week, which has made it necessary for us to shovel our roof. Here is a picture of my son up on the roof in the midst of a recent heavy snowfall. He said that he really wanted to build a snowman up there, but stuck to his duties instead. He will be shoveling more today, and I hope he does take a moment and build a snowman. How fun would that be to have a snowman up on your roof?

And here is a recent picture looking across our front yard towards our neighbor's house. We don't normally have many blue skies around here in the wintertime, but here was a little patch with some sunshine, and it was snowing all at the same time.