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Wednesday, April 27, 2011


 When God blesses the harvest, there is enough for the thief as well as the gardener.
~Polish saying~

We started planting our garden this weekend.  Hurray!  In our neck of the woods we will still have frost for another month, but we got in our carrots, onions, parsnips, lettuce, peas and radishes.  I quick peek at the asparagus bed is encouraging, as the little green and purple tips are beginning to emerge.  You can't help but be hopeful when you plant a garden.  I guess last year was a terrible year for those who wallow in the dirt, but my little plot of land thrived.  I'll tell you my secret, I always ask the  Lord to bless my garden as I plant so that I may be able to feed  anyone in need as well as my own family.  We've never had a bad crop yet, and we've been gardening for almost three decades.  Of course you need to be knowledgeable also.  You can't start a garden in the shade, sand, or a low spot  that gets flooded and expect great results.  You'd be surprised on how many people I know that do, though.  Seems that they are more interested in landscaping their yard than the productivity of their garden.

We had tornado warnings yesterday, so it was time to get out the oil lamps and make sure they are filled, because you can bet that we will lose our electricity at least once this summer.  It's a good time to go over the safety procedures with your children, in case there's a tornado and you're not at home.  One time my husband and I had just dropped of our son  Erik at the grocery store store where he worked and were headed home when we heard the tornado sirens.  We had to make an agonizing decision whether to go back and get him, or go home where to our other  teenagers.  Since we were  halfway from either place, we just continued on and prayed.   Fortunately everyone was safe, although the village, Frankenmuth, where Erik worked was hit.  Never want to go through anything like that again!

I received my order for  my Tattler reusable canning lids yesterday.  I've been reading all the articles and reviews on them that I could find, trying to decide if they would work for me.  Finally decided to take the plunge.  The only downside to them I can see is that you won't hear that satisfying "ping" when the jars seal.  I'll let you know how they work out .

Been staying up late to read Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum.  I'll be honest and say this book will not be for everyone.  It has graphic violence and sexual (and somewhat unnecessary) content but that was the reality of the times and the character's life, very disturbing. In a nutshell, it is the story of Anna Schlemmer and what she did to survive in Nazi Germany during the war, basically from the point of view of her daughter, who tends to feel disdain for her "Nazi" mother.  In the end, the daughter, Trudie, realizes that whatever shameful things her mother has done, it was so that she, the daughter, could survive.  It's a good study about the ambiguous gray area between right and wrong.  I've been curious ever since I watched a show on the History channel about the fall of the Reich as to how the regular German people felt about the war during that time, and this book helped explain it.  Like I said it is not for everyone, if you read it plan on having some sleepless nights!  The new book I'm reading is something I picked up at the dollar store,  A corny, cliched romance book set in a lighthouse.  I call these books junk food for the mind.  But they are fun to read too.

Lastly, I'm knitting the birch bark mittens that were in the Pieceworks magazine  about a year ago.  Each year I knit my husband a pair of Norwegian style mittens  for Christmas.  This year I'm way ahead of schedule.  Most years you will find me putting the finishing touches on them on Christmas eve!

Sunday, April 24, 2011


When I was a child we attended church at the quintessential little white church.  It really looked like a picture from Norman Rockwell's America.  As we entered the church at sunrise on Easter morn, the choir sang I Know That My Redeemer  Lives.  You could feel the Holy Spirit's presence. 

I Know that My Redeemer Lives
By: Samuel Medley

I know that my Redeemer lives!
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, he lives, who once was dead;
He lives, my ever living head!
He lives triumphant from the grave;
He lives eternally to save;
He lives exalted, throned above;
He lives to rule his Church in love.
He lives to grant me rich supply;
He lives to guide me with his eye;
He lives to comfort me when faint;
He lives to hear my soul’s complaint.
He lives to silence all my fears;
He lives to wipe away my tears;
He lives to calm my troubled heart;
He lives all blessings to impart.
He lives to bless me with his love;
He lives to plead for me above;
He lives my hungry soul to feed;
He lives to help in time of need.
He lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King!
He lives and grants me daily breath;
He lives, and I shall conquer death;
He lives my mansion to prepare;
He lives to bring me safely there.
He lives, all glory to his name!
He lives, my savior, still the same;
What joy this blest assurance gives:
I know that my Redeemer lives!

Hymn # 264 from Lutheran Worship
Author: attr. John Hatton

May you all have a joyous and blessed Easter!

Monday, April 18, 2011


We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”
~Frederick Koenig~
This past weekend was gray and blustery, we even had snow!  It was a good time to putter in the kitchen and just enjoy the coziness of our little cottage.  I also watched a lot of TV.  A lot of people eschew TV but I think it offers a good insight into the national psyche.  What I noticed is that  most of the shows promote excess.  The brides on Say Yes to the Dress buy wedding dresses that cost as much as a down payment on a house.  On the Food Channel, there's no such thing as a simple meal, everything must be an exotic concoction of flavors and textures, plated for visual appeal.  Over on good ole HGTV, house hunters are searching for houses that have closets larger than my bedroom. And a kitchen without granite countertops might as well be bulldozed, as it's a worthless as a tar paper shack.    What I want to know is this;  when did we become a nation of want-ers?

Contentment with what we have seems to be an idea that has become passe.  Oh I understand that it is human nature to aspire to have a better life, but when does it become too much?.  Really is the bride that buys her wedding dress from J.C. Penney's, less happy than the bride that spends her life savings on a bedazzled, meringue  of a dress?  Could those homeowners be just as content in a home that doesn't have a separate room for crafting and good old Formica countertops?  Wouldn't a simple meal of soup and homemade bread been just as satisfying as pan-seared prawns with a reduction of watermelon and jalapenos?

It's this wanting and envy that often lead people down the slippery path of indebtedness.  My husband makes a very good six-digit salary and I know what we can afford.  So I have to wonder how people that are making the national average for salaries, which is around $40,000, could even entertain spending tens of thousands of dollars on weddings,  or how they could   hope to pay for homes that cost in the upper hundred thousands.  Why is it so difficult for some to realize that there are some things that you simply cannot afford?  

I hate to sound like an old fuddy-duddy, but I do remember a time when people rarely used credit.  If you wanted something, you saved for it until you could afford it. If everyone did this, they'd be surprised at how little they can truly afford.  We thought a nice house was a house that had a garage and carpeting.  And when it came time to buy a house, you skrimped and saved for a down payment.  No one would ever have dreamed of a mortgage that you never paid on the principle.  If you couldn't afford the down payment, you rented a nice little house.    Each spring and fall, we took stock of our wardrobe and carefully selected items to fill in the empty spots.  We didn't need to worry about walk-in closets because we only had about five daily outfits, something nice to wear to church and one formal (sometimes passed down from an older sister). And you know what?  Clothes shopping was fun back then.  Each article of clothing was debated and selected with care with the assistance of a clerk,  no shoving something in the shopping cart back then.  I don't remember even hearing the word "plating" when I was growing up.  If you wanted to impress a guest with your meal, you'd serve a nice roast beef with mashed potatoes and brown gravy.  It looked good on the plate to us!

My wish for all of you is that you can be as content as I was with my meal of Sunday Supper Soup, a roll and a slice of Spanish Bar Cake ,sitting in a chair that was purchased at a thrift store and lovingly refinished by my dear husband in my little cottage of contentment.

Sunday Supper Soup

1 1/2 lb. ground beef
1 egg
3 Tbsp. water
1/2 C. bread crumbs
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
2 Tbsp. butter

Combine all ingredients except the butter.  shape into meatballs and brown in the butter in a Dutch oven.  Remove the meatballs. Drain the grease.Make the soup:
2 C. water
1 can (10 1/2 oz.) beef broth
1 can (38 oz.) tomatoes, undrained
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
1 C. sliced carrots
1/4 C. celery tops, chopped
1/4 C. parsley, chopped
1/4 tsp. each pepper, oregano, and basil

Combine the soup ingredients.  Bring to a boil,  Cover and reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add the meatballs, simmer an additional 20 minutes. To make this vegan, I used pre-made vegetarian meatballs, vegetable broth and dried onions instead of the soup mix.  A splash of Worcestershire sauce and mesquite seasoning  gives it a smoky flavor in lieu of the browned meat.

Spanish Bar Cake

2 C. water
1 C. raisins
1/2 C. shortening
2 C. flour
1 C. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
1/2 C. chopped nuts

Cook raisins in the water over medium heat.  Stir in the shortening, until shortening is melted.  Remove from the heat. Cool.  Combine the dry ingredients.  Add to the raisin mixture, blending well.  Stir in the egg.  Fold in the nuts.  Pour into a greased 8 inch square pan.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35 minutes.

It's important that you ice this cake with a thick layer of white buttercream frosting, or it won't taste like those delicious ones you used to be able to buy at the A&P!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I spent yesterday afternoon making these little beanbags to put inside the Easter goody box I'm sending out to my granddaughter Tatiana.  One year when our budget was stretched beyond the stretching point, I made these to fill up the boys Easter baskets.  With the addition of confetti eggs, they didn't notice how skimpy the goodies were.

Bunny Beanbags:

Copy the above pattern and increase to the size you desire.  Cut four of the body from the main color and two ears from the main color and two from a contrasting fabric.  Sew two body pieces together from the smaller point (the fromt) to the back.  Sew the other two pieces together.  Join these two pieces together, leaving a two inch space unsewn for filling the beanbags.  Sew the ear pieces together .  Turn right side out and attach to the body.  Embroider or paint on facial features.  Fill the body with beans and sew shut.

Confetti Eggs:

Blow out eggs.  Boil the empty shells to make sure they are clean.  Decorate the eggs.  Enlarge one of the blow holes enough to stuff the shells with confetti.  Insert the confetti, filling well.  Place a sticker over the hole.

These are a lot of fun for the kids to toss around outside.  JUst make sure they play with them outside or you'll be vacuuming up confetti until next Easter!

Friday, April 8, 2011


This little teacup hanging by a grosgrain ribbon from the knob of my china cupboard makes me smile every time I glance at it.  And the fact that it only cost a dime at a garage sale thrills my thrifty heart.  The pattern is Virginia Rose from Homer Laughlin.

Monday, April 4, 2011


In the previous post, I mentioned canning water for emergencies.  When I was growing up, most people had wells and when the electricity went out, so did the pump,so they would have a supply of  "canned" water on hand to cook with and to  drink.  I do not know what the extension office says about this, but I assume that if food is safe after canning, water should be also.  To be on the safe side, I would boil it for 10 minutes before using it, but at least it will be clean and handy.  Here's how you do it:

Canning Water

Fill the sterilized jars with boiling water to the depth you are filling the other jars. It's important that the water is boiling, not only to kill the "bugs", but also because your jars will crack when you put them in the boiling water otherwise.  Usually the headspace  for the hot water bath method is 1/2 inch and for the pressure canner it's 1 inch.  Since I only can water when there's extra space in my  canner,  I process it for the amount of time that I need to process whatever I'm making.  For canning the hot water bath method, the jars need to boil for at least ten minutes so the seals can soften and seal properly.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


"This week, for the Preparedness Challenge, I _____________________..."

Thanks to Mama's Mission Blog (see my blog list, you all know about my challenges with linking) I found  this website:  .  Each week the have a challenge where you list what you are doing to get prepared  for emergencies.
 Last week someone left a question in the comment box about why be prepared because all the work might be fruitless and were we just feeding into Glenn Beck's paranoia?  I'd like to answer these questions.

First, I've been canning and stocking up for emergencies since I married in 1978.  I don't think Glenn Beck was even old enough to have a career back then.  My mother always canned, and I'm sure generations before her  preserved their harvest also.  It just makes good sense financially to  grow and preserve your own food.  Period.  Even people that have known me for decades will say something snide about my canning and gardening, referring to  Mr. Beck or Chicken Little.  Back in the olden days it was considered a wise and thrifty thing to do, now it's ridiculed.

Secondly, this commenter asked what's the use, if like the people in Japan, a tsunami washes away your house and all of your emergency supplies with it? Well the tsunami didn't wash away all of the houses.  Maybe yours would have been spared, and your supplies could have helped those that were without.  I live in a safe area of the country.  We have no, earthquakes, hurricanes, or tsunamis, we rarely have tornadoes. But in the thirty plus years I've been married, twice a tornado has downed enough power lines to cause us to be without electricity for over five days.  We also had an ice storm that took down the electrical lines for three days. We live in snow country and often it is impossible to travel the 17 miles to the city to get food and trucks cannot make it to our little grocery store in the village. We used to live in an area that had a community well, on more than one occasion the well malfunctioned and we needed to boil our water and buy drinking water.  Wouldn't it have been nice to have had some kind of water filtration system?  We had to travel out of town to buy water because the shelves at our local grocery store were cleaned out.   All it takes is one small catastrophe, that probably won't even make the national news, for you to understand how nice it is to have a well-stocked pantry, kerosene lamps, a full tank of gas and an alternative way to heat your home and cook.  During those times, I've offered food and shelter for those that didn't plan for emergencies.  It is nice to be a helper rather than a victim. An emergency can arise, no matter how safe you think you are.

Also, there have been times, too numerous to count, where an unexpected emergency, such as a costly car repair or expensive medical bill have arisen.  It is nice to know that at least you don't have to worry about where your next meal is coming from because you have a well-stocked larder.  What about the rising cost of food and gasoline?  Do you see anything on the horizon that will make those costs go down?  I just saw a item on the news that the U.S. will be exporting 20% more food this year.  The  formula of supply and demand is a basic  economic truism.  Not to mention what rising costs in gasoline does to the cost of production, as well  as well as trucking it to the groceries stores.  A quote from the Bible:

24 Four things on earth are small,
    yet they are extremely wise:
    25the ants are not a strong people,
    yet they store up their food in the summer;

~Proverbs 30:24-25~

Friday, April 1, 2011


We have a fine crop of stray cats growing in our yard.  Look!  They even grow on trees!  Happy April Fool's Day!