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Friday, August 30, 2013

Faith Friday - Creative Word



This devotion is based on this verse of Scripture.

And God said, "Let there be light." and there was light  (Genesis 1:3)

(I will not quote the devotions word for word, but will paraphrase and possibly add my own thoughts now and then.)

When we enter a dark room we feel for the light switch, and when we find it we flip it and instantly have light (unless you have slow starting CFL bulbs). We take it for granted that we will have light, don't w? And how upset do we get when the bulb is burned out or the power is out?

Have you ever thought about how much goes into getting that light to your house? At least four different manufacturing plants are involved, one to make wire, another for the switch, one more for the fixture, and a final one for the bulb. How many workers are involved at the power company, linemen, electricians and others? They all play a role in making it possible to turn on the light.

How much work was it for God to make light? Just one spoken command. "Let there be light." And the sun, moon, and all the stars were created. That is so much more awesome than all the people in manufacturing, power plants, and the linemen and electricians that it takes man to 'create' light.

God created enough light for an entire universe to run for billions of years. His spoken word empowered an entire electromagnetic spectrum that humanity is only beginning to comprehend, even after all the thousands of years that have already gone by. Think about this the next time you turn on a light!

Prayer: Illuminate my life with your creative word.

(original devotions written by Rob Matthews)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Down Memory Lane - Family Picture

An early family picture.
This is Grandma, Mom on the left, brother Robert on the right, and sister Clara on the lap. Mom is the oldest child. There are two boys and another girl yet to be born. Grandma looks so young here. I believe she is about 28 years old. I wonder why Grandpa isn't in the picture. Another question I haven't found the answer to.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What's Cooking . . . . Banana Cream Pie


(picture not mine but looks very much like my recipe)


Combine 1 1/4 cups fine graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts and 5 tablespoons butter, melted.
Press into bottom and sides of 9" pie plate and chill for 1 hour.

Slice 2 medium bananas into shell. Blend 1 cup commercial sour cream, 1 cup milk and 1 package vanilla instant pudding mix according to direction on pudding box. Pour over bananas and chill.

When I take this to a picnic or pot luck people can't get enough of it. It tastes a little like cheesecake and that makes it so good, and the walnuts in the crust is a treat. I think it would also be good with pecans. Another quick and easy recipe and no baking involved. I found this in a newspaper back in the 1960's and has been a favorite ever since. I have made it many, many times.

Monday, August 26, 2013

This 'n' That - Decluttering



That is going really slow right now, but still working at it when I run across something I know I can live without. Right now I have been working on magazines and Penzey's catalogs. I went through about a year's worth of the Penzey's catalogs and ripped out the few recipes I want to try. Penzey's is a wonderful spice company if you haven't heard of it. Go to their website and order a print catalog to
get recipes. Maybe they have some of the recipes online as well. I have not been there for awhile. Since I don't do a lot of cooking (just collect recipes. LOL) I don't use the spices up very fast. They have some wonderful blends to try, with recipes using some of those spice blends. I have found that leaving the recipes in the catalogs is not going to get them made - out of sight, out of mind. Now I need to sit down and put some of those recipes in a menu before I get groceries again. Then I will have what I need on hand and gives me the incentive to make them. The catalogs also usually have a good coupon on the cover that can be used in their stores or online.

I also have tossed a few other magazines that I have read, so my pile is getting smaller. I am now caught up on all the Better Homes and Gardens past issues, as well as Good Housekeeping. I only have the latest issue of GH to read. The rest in the pile mostly a year's worth of AARP magazines and their 'newspapers'. There are some valuable info in them but I just never got around to reading them as they arrived. I am no longer a member so those have stopped coming and can't say I am sorry. There are also over a year's worth of Consumer Digest magazines but I do intend to keep at least some of those for future reference. I would use their website but that requires paying for it, and I don't want to do that. Initially, I got the magazine subscription at a really cheap price or I wouldn't have it at all. I think in the future I might read them at the public library and save that money.

No picture of the ones I have recycled. And wish I had made a count of them, but I forgot to do that. I am guessing around 18-20 that are gone! Yaaaaay!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Faith Friday - Light and Darkness



As I was looking through a Words of Hope devotional I noticed a theme and found it interesting. There were several devotions about light and then noticed there were also some about darkness and the comparing of the two. Here is a list of titles. Not all of the titles have the words 'light' or 'darkness' but they do refer to them. I knew there were were many references to light in God's Word but had never seen them brought together like this.

Creative Word
Blinded by the Light
Led by the Light
Finding Our Light
Light of Discovery
Walking in the Light
Who's Afraid of the Dark?
All Things New
Darkness Isn't a Problem for God
When God Keeps Us in the Dark
A Citizen of the Kingdom of Light
Preparation in the Dark
An Audacious Claim
Everything is Exposed
What Are You Looking At?
Sometimes We Must Sit in the Dark
The Flashlight

I intend to do a series on these and explain what the titles mean in future blogs. There may be other subjects included here and there as I find something new and different, or as the Spirit moves me. Does this peak your interest?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Down Memory Lane - Parents

Mom and Dad with Pal
It looks like Dad is telling Pal to sit up. I have no date when this was taken. With that Elko border it matches other picture taken when I was 6 months to a year old - so around 1942-43 is my guess. Or it could have been earlier. I don't know why they had their picture taken in that spot. It looks like the corner of the hog house, or it could be on a different farm. I don't have a lot of pictures of my dad as he did not like to have his picture taken. So I cherish the ones I do have.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What's Cooking . . . . Quick and Easy Coconut Cream Pie



I tried this new recipe yesterday, and oh, my! It is s.o.o.o good! I found the recipe here. Coconut Cream is one of my favorite pies, but as my friend said, I have never met a pie I didn't like. If pie is on the menu I will be there!

Coconut Cream Pie

2 package instant vanilla pudding
2 cup milk
1 small container Cool Whip
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 small can coconut
1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked

Mix the pudding and milk together. Let set a few minutes in the refrigerator. Fold in the Cool Whip and vanilla. Add toasted coconut. Pour into pie crust and top with more coconut. Refrigerate. To toast coconut, place on lightly greased cookie sheet and bake until light brown, let cool. 

I tried to make this as frugal as possible, as well as close to sugar free since I don't need those extra calories.

First I baked a single pie crust ( Great Value from dairy case) in a glass pie plate, and while the oven was still hot I toasted the coconut. This was about half of a small bag of coconut that was left after using it in the cookies I made awhile back. It is a good idea to use up the coconut fairly soon as it does dry out. 

 Make sure you prick a lot of holes in the pie crust with a fork before baking. I still ended up with a large 'bubble' in one area. Some good cooks like to put some dried beans on top before baking to hold the pastry down but I didn't do that. There are also pie weights available if you bake lots of pies, but that is just more 'stuff' to find a place for in my small house. This is the first time I have used the Great Value brand from Walmart. I found it to be quite flaky and had a good flavor. The fluted edge did relax a little too much in baking so it didn't look so pretty. Maybe I was in too much of a hurry and didn't pinch it tight enough? It also crumbled very easily, not like the thick and almost cardboard texture of most grocery store pies, and it is a bit cheaper than the regular Pillsbury brand. If you want to make your own crust, my favorite recipe is below.

Watch the coconut very closely while toasting it. I don't leave the kitchen when doing that because it can burn very quickly once it starts to brown. I also stirred it a couple of times while toasting. Allow the crust and coconut to cool before making the pie. This step can be done a day or so before actually putting the pie together.

For the filling I used 2 boxes Great Value brand instant French vanilla pudding mix , sugar free. Great Value is quite a bit cheaper than other brands and I think just as good. I use sugar free as I need to watch sugar levels and don't need those extra calories. For the 2 cups milk I used 1 cup evaporated milk from the pantry and one cup water as I had no regular milk on hand. I did not have to chill the pudding as the directions say as it was already very thick. 

 I prefer Watkin's  vanilla extract. I know there are cheaper imitation vanilla flavorings available but I feel this is not an area to skimp on. It used to be that the only way you could by Watkin's products was to buy from a dealer that went door to door years ago. My Walmart does carry their vanilla as well as their black pepper and cinnamon, their most popular sellers. My daughter made a pumpkin pie from the recipe I always use and said it didn't taste like mine. It was the cinnamon as she didn't have Watkin's.  If you can't find it in a store, it can be ordered online.

The Cool Whip was in my freezer from a time when it was on sale for 89 cents, and I bought several to have on hand. When I added the toasted coconut, I reserved some to sprinkle on top. I have already had a piece and it is yummy! I haven't added up the cost or how much cheaper it is than if I had used the usual brand name, mostly because I can't remember prices of the name brands, plus I hate to take the time to do it. Yes, I am lazy. To guess, I would say it was about $1.00 to $1.50 saved, more if you don't count the cost of the leftover coconut that wasn't wasted.


3 cups flour
1 cup lard
2 teaspoons salt

Using a pastry blender, or food processor (I don't have one) blend the lard into the flour until pea size lumps.

Mix together:
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons vinegar
water to make 2/3 cup

Add to lard/flour mixture until it holds together. Divide into 3 balls as this is enough for 3 one crust pies, or 1 double crust pie and 1 single. Sometimes I use that single one to make treats by cutting into strips, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and bake. I can't get enough of those.

The reason I call this Mom's pie crust is that she found this recipe decades ago and never made any other after that. She might have gotten in from a popular recipe column of a local newspaper back in the 1950's, or maybe from a friend of hers.

I might also add that if you don't like the idea of using lard and use a solid vegetable shorting like Crisco, use about 1/3 cup more. With all the talk about trans fats and hydrogenated fats not being good for us, I am thinking lard is the way to go. It is a natural product. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Taking a Stay-cation

Staycation seems to be the popular new term these days. And I guess I have been doing that, at least a vacation from blogging, and yet staying home and not accomplishing a whole lot. You know, it is pretty hard for retired people to take a vacation since we don't have a job anymore. But, as you ladies know, women's work is never done even if you don't work outside the home. And it really doesn't end when you take a vacation. Most of our vacations included camping, so there was always the same work, just in a different setting.

I have been working on a couple of posts today, so am getting back into the swing of it. I have had the inspiration just not the energy or desire to write for awhile. So there will be a post or two coming at you now and then until I get back into a regular routine again. See you soon.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Down Memory Lane - Opa and Me

Me and my cousin, Gene, with Opa
This was taken on our farm. I love that old bench and wish I had it today. I am holding my dog, Pal. The other dog must have been Gene's. I don't know what year this was taken, but am guessing around 1947.

Monday, August 12, 2013

This 'n' That - Candy Parade


Our small town is home to The Foreign Candy Company. They import candies from all over the world, and then sell to stores like Walmart and many others, including smaller gift/tourist shops all over America. If you have ever bought Black Forest Gummy Bears, Warheads, bubble gum by the yard (looks like a yard stick) Toblerone chocolate bars, and the white Dutch Wilhelmina mints, you have had candy that has 'Foreign Candy Company, Hull, IA' written on the back of the package. Check it out sometime.

The owner of this company has been a big benefactor to many of the town projects by helping fund the new swimming pool that was built last year, getting 2 new industrial parks started so that he could build his business there, and in many other ways.

Each summer the town has a SummerFest event including a parade - advertised as the 'Best Candy Parade' around. It just so happened that my daughter and 8 year old twins came to visit the day of the parade, so of course we HAD to go, at least for the kids. We even made a stop at the Foreign Candy Outlet Store to buy some favorites before the parade.

The parade isn't so grand - not many floats, no bands (because it is summer) but there were 2 drum lines that marched, the town queen and Little Miss on a float, and lots of farm machinery, semis, fire department vehicles. Each one is tossing out lots and lots of candy. Plus every business has a pickup or cart and employees tossing candy, t-shirts, small balls, Frisbees, canvas bags, bottles of cold water. One lady who has a floral shop walked down the street with a flower cart and handed out single carnations. She knows me and walked over to where I was sitting and personally handed me one! She is the sweetest!

Needless to say, there were lots and lots of kids lining the parade route, and they all made a huge haul of candy.

The twins and their parade haul. I don't know why they were making such goofy faces. LOL  This should last them until Halloween (maybe). They did share some with Grandma - the ones they don't really like.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Faith Friday - Shrek the sheep


Here is something that is making the rounds on Facebook, and probably forwarded in emails. I think this has a great message.

This is Shrek the sheep. He became famous
 several years ago when he was found after 
hiding out in caves for six years. Of course, 
during this time his fleece grew without anyone
 there to shorn (shave) it. When he was finally
 found and shaved, his fleece weighed an
 amazing sixty pounds. Most sheep have a
 fleece weighing just under ten pounds, with
 the exception usually reaching fifteen pound
 maximum. For six years, Shrek carried six times
 the regular weight of his fleece. Simply
 because he was away from his shepherd.

This reminds me of John 10 when Jesus
 compares Himself to a shepherd, and His
 followers are His sheep. Maybe it’s a stretch,
 but I think Shrek is much like a person who
 knows Jesus Christ but has wandered. If we
 avoid Christ’s constant refining of our
 character, we’re going to accumulate extra
 weight in this world—a weight we don’t have to

When Shrek was found, a professional sheep
 shearer took care of Shrek’s fleece in twenty-
eight minutes. Shrek’s sixty pound fleece was
 finally removed. All it took was coming home to
 his shepherd.

I believe Christ can lift the burdens we carry, if
 only we stop hiding. He can shave off our
 ‘fleece’—that is, our self-imposed burdens
 brought about by wandering from our Good

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and
 burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My
 yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am
 gentle and humble in heart, and you will find
 rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and my
 burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

This is perfect

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Down Memory Lane - Grandma's car

Grandma Ada's Packard
I think it is pretty classy.
On the back of the picture, written by my grandmother, it says:
"The good old "Pack" itself. Taken from our front steps. You see the neighbor's house across the street in the picture. We will be in our new house for the winter months."
It looks like this picture was taken in August 1934.
This may be around the time my grandparents moved to California. I know this is not the street that I remember them living on, so maybe that is the house she was talking about moving to. It could be that they drove the "Pack" when they left Iowa. Wish I knew the story.
Anyone know what model year the Packard is?

UPDATE: This probably a 1924 Packard Single Six.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What's Cooking - Pork Carnitas


Awhile back Pam, an internet friend, had mentioned she made pork carnitas for one of their mission trip meals, and then shared the recipe. Thank you, Pam!  I happened to have a pork roast in the freezer so decided to try it. I thought it was good. I ate it as the main meat of the meal with sides of mashed potatoes and a vegetable. She served it with a delicious cole slaw. I also made sandwiches with the meat on hamburger buns and added some barbecue sauce. That is very good. But what I thought was the best was what my daughter and I threw together with some I had left in the freezer. She and the twins came one weekend and we had gone to the parade downtown. When we got home it was lunch time so had to come up with something simple and quick. I rarely think ahead. Bad me! 

My daughter has a wheat allergy so eating out poses a problem, especially with the few places to eat in this town. We either have pizza, broasted chicken (coated with flour), Subway, or the bowling alley which is mostly fast food.

I happened to have some corn tortillas on hand, which does not have wheat in them. She fried those to slightly crisp and we made tacos with the pork carnitas. Those were the best tacos I have ever had! We just added the lettuce, shredded cheese and salsa on the tortilla. The 8 year old twins thought they were great too, and they can be finicky eaters.

Here is the recipe for pork carnitas, which can be found at My Recipes website here


  • Preparation
    3-lb. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch chunks, trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • large onion, quartered 
  • cloves garlic
  1. Sprinkle pork with salt, chili powder, cumin and oregano. Place in a slow cooker along with onion and garlic. Cover and cook on low until meat is tender and falling apart, about 6 hours. Shred pork and serve hot.
This recipe also appeared in the February 2010 issue.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

'Tis Home, Sweet Home - Decor


This is a favorite gift I received from a friend many years ago. I just love it! Isn't that little bird just the sweetest? My friend didn't make it but it was crafted by someone in her town I think. It is a lovely way to display some old, pretty teacup and saucer sets that you might pick up at a rummage sale, flea market or thrift shop.

These are not the best pictures but have tried to show you different angles. The cup is glued to the saucer in a couple of places that actually touch the saucer.

If you look closely at the pictures of my kitchen hutch, you will see this on the top shelf.

Monday, August 5, 2013

This 'n' That - More decluttering


 I showed you the 'before' picture in  this post . Now you see the hutch after doing some decluttering. Below is part of what I removed.

There was also a large stack of white dish towels and a small white platter that I gave my daughter. I think there were a couple other things she took too. I also took out some large coffee mugs that were put in another cupboard. Below is how it looks today. I am sorry I didn't get a 'before' picture of this part.

On the left is what I kept of the embroidered white flour sack dish towels (my favorite to dry with). In the middle are a few terry type kitchen towels that I use to cover bread dough as it rises, or the baked bread to help soften the crusts a bit while it cools. On top of those are what is left of my dish cloths. I transferred a couple of ratty ones to the rag box. I have a couple that I knitted that I have held back for gifts but I think I need to 'gift' them to myself! On the right side are kitchen towels with crocheted tops to hang on cupboard handles that a friend gave me, and some of my microfiber cloths.
Bottom shelf - small plastic serving plate, divided pickle dish and a covered candy dish on the left, a matched crystal sugar and creamer set (could as well get rid of that as no one uses them anymore), and then a stack of serving bowls, one wicker bread basket, and two salsa bowls. Those larger bowls are only used when my kids are here and we have a large meal, which is maybe twice a year. 

On the right side are some jar candles and an empty beer bottle. Why do I have an empty beer bottle? I use that when I make an angel food cake. I turn the cake pan upside down and put the center hole over the bottle to hold it up while the cake cools. It has been my experience that every time I make an angel food it rises higher than the little legs around the top of the pan, so when the pan is turned upside down, the cake ends up touching the counter and that is not a good way to cool it. Years ago I used an empty pop bottle but most are plastic now. (I don't drink beer - can't stand it)

The last picture is of some more books and magazines I have culled out, along with my wristwatch that no longer works. I think the battery is dead, which could be replaced, but the band is also broken. I had been wearing it with the broken link tied together with dental floss. Since I only paid $10 for it, getting a new band and battery would cost more than a new watch. So I have a new one that I like even better. The magazines are from a stack waiting for me to read, and these I finally finished. I cannot throw out a magazine that I have not read! The book "Jars of Clay" is one that I have tried to read a few times but just can't seem to get interested, so rather than have it sitting on the shelf and making me feel guilty every time I see it, I am finally letting it go and maybe someone else will find it a good read. I think I may have bought it at a rummage sale in the first place.

I am just getting started on the decluttering and organizing, but this is more than I have done in a long while so am feeling pretty good about it. You didn't get to see all the magazine articles and pages printed from the internet that I tossed out of the filing cabinet. Still not finished with that either but things are looking lighter.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Faithful Friday - What's in Your Sponge?

Faithful Friday
There are five sponges lying on your kitchen counter top. Each member of your family has been cleaning up different areas of your home, but all the sponges look the same. You are curious as to what was cleaned in your home, but you can't tell by looking. . .  They all look the same . . . . So what do you do? You squeeze each sponge to see what comes out. As you squeeze the first sponge. . . you see that cola comes out, and so you decide that someone cleaned the kitchen with that one. Upon squeezing the second sponge, you find tub and tile cleaner -- that one was used to clean the bathroom. Next, in the third sponge, you find motor oil -- hubby was cleaning the garage! In the fourth sponge, baby powder puffs out when it is squeezed -- yep, the baby's nursery was done with that one! And finally, in the last one, is floor wax -- that was the one you used on the hall floor! As you lay the last one down, you look again at their similarity -- and they all look the same until they're squeezed.
Christians are the same way. As life squeezes us, different things come out -- anger from one, a need for revenge from another, tears from one, remorse from yet another -- also greed, untruth, lust -- and finally, from one saint, pours forth the love of Christ. Just like the sponge, we can only squeeze out what is put in -- stay in the Word daily, and be in continuous prayer, so that when life puts the squeeze on you (and it WILL), Jesus, and Jesus ALONE will shine forth from you!
(This was found in our church newsletter.)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Down Memory Lane - Farming

I started farming at a very young age! Here I am with my dad on the only tractor he ever farmed with.  I think it is a 1939 or 1940 John Deere B. I was told that Dad would take me out in the field with him and I would fall asleep with my head bobbing against the steering wheel. I guess he did that so Mom could get things done, or maybe she had to get groceries or had a Ladies' Aid meeting at church.

When I got a little bit older I started helping in the field with the work horses, Daisy and Queen.
No, not really. I never learned how to work with the horses. I don't even know what this machine did. Maybe it is a cultivator?  I have several pictures where I posed on the tractor at various ages. I did learn to drive the tractor and helped Dad quite often with some of the field work as I got older. I often sat in the oats wagon when he planted oats, and made sure the hopper stayed full. And later, when a little older, I drove the tractor while Dad was on the oats binder at harvest time. This was the machine that made the bundles of oats, and it was called a binder because it formed the bundle and then bound it with twine. My dad had to operate all the levers to make it do its job. Nothing like the machines of today.
After all the oats was bundled, we walked the field and set 6 bundles on end and laid a seventh one across the top. This was done to aid in drying the oats before it could be threshed. I did learn how to set them up and did a pretty good job. I thought it was fun except for the straw stubble we had to walk on and scratched the legs.
Oat Bundles in Shocks along the New York's Amish Trail
Oat Bundles in Shocks stacked by Amish farmers.
 Later, on threshing day, we walked the field with pitch forks, and using the fork we tossed the bundles into a hay wagon, or we called a hayrack. That was the kind of wagon that was used for hay rides too. It was basically a flatbed wagon with a high back and low sides that were not solid. A bit hard to explain.

hay wagon woodworking plansThis is a little bit like the wagons Dad had. His also had boards on the sides that were lower than the back and front, but open like the back and front on this one. And the sides sort of formed a triangle with the front/back. You can sort of see that in the picture below on the wagon on the right side of picture.

When the wagon was full, it was taken to the threshing machine set up in the pasture close to the barn. The threshing machine separated the grain from the straw.

 Someone would pitch the bundles, one by one onto the belt that took it into the machine (far left). The grain came out of a large 'spout' over the grain wagon (probably behind that pickup in picture). It was always my job to sit in the grain wagon again, and level the oats as it was augured in. Threshing time was always during the heat and humidity of the summer so I was all sweaty, and the oat chaff would stick all over me. Oh, that was so prickly and itchy! The straw was blown out the other side (right side, large, long tube where straw can be seen blowing out the end), forming a straw pile. The cows would eat from that during the winter. Straw was also used as bedding in the barn. You can see in the picture that it took quite a few men to get the job done, and that is why farmers formed threshing rings. Several got together and bought a machine, then they went to each farm in the ring, taking the threshing machine with them, and doing the harvesting as a group. My dad was the last one in his ring to continue threshing so he had to buy out the other farmers. Then my mom's brother-in-law from Illinois would come every year to help as he loved the job. And some of Dad's brothers or older nephews helped too, while I tended the grain wagon.

Here is a link that tells about a threshing demonstration done 3 years ago near Cherokee, Iowa, a town where we lived for 7 years in the mid '60s.