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Monday, September 30, 2013

This 'n' That - Grands having fun

When the twins were here recently they played a lot with Pla-Do at the kitchen table. There are some molds that make play food, so they were constantly bringing me 'sandwiches' and 'fruit' snacks, pretending to be cooks and waiters. It kept those almost 9 year olds busy for a long time. Their birthdays are coming up October 5.

This is Joseph being silly with Pla-Do on his nose.

This is the alligator that Joelle was making. She went to a lot of work on the details, making each tooth separately and then attaching, as well as those things on the spine. It seems to be more of a dinosaur alligator, doesn't it. She is the younger artist in the family. Too bad I didn't get more of her in the picture. I am getting a little better at thinking to take pictures now that I am doing this blog.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Faith Friday - Finding our Light



"O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD." (Isaiah 2:5)

The author of this devotion is again using the example of a theater production. Last time he talked about actors being led by the spotlight. A good spotlight operator moves the spotlight slightly ahead of the performer to lead them to their next location, and it is up to the performer to stay in their spotlight so that it all looks smooth. In this devotion he talks about finding your light.
~ ~ ~ ~ 

"Find your light!" the show's director calls out, obviously tired. The first technical rehearsal in which actors and lights come together is always brutal. As carefully as the lighting designer has studied the actors' movements, there is always a variation between where the light is focused and where the actor is standing. Generally the light wins, unless it's significantly off-target, and the actor is asked to find their light. At the end of the day, it doesn't much matter how brilliantly a line is delivered if the actor is unintentionally speaking from the shadows. Standing outside of their light, actors simply aren't a part of the production as a unified artistic vision.  

Isaiah 2 outlines a beautiful vision of the latter days in which all the nations of the world come together in peace to worship God. In this vision, God serves as judge and arbitrator to all, and all gather in his house to learn the ways of his law. Weapons are transformed into tools as people look to God, instead of war, to settle their differences. 

Like a great director, Isaiah calls out to Israel in verse 6, "Find your light!" His voice echoes into our generation, urging us to live into this vision of a world focused on worshiping God in spirit and truth. As the church, we are also beckoned to "find our light" living out Isaiah's vision in these last days. 

-- Rob Matthews.

~ ~ ~ ~

Have you found your light? Are you staying in your light by letting it lead you to your next location? Do you know the source of your light?
We previously looked at the verse, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." So, the source of our light is God and His Word. And, Jesus is the light of the world. Therefore we need to stay in the Word and allow it to lead our way in life. Using the theater analogy, God's Word leads us to our next location, and we are to stand in His Word and not  work in the shadows where we are ineffective.

Prayer: Almighty God, help us to find our light by walking in the light of your Word.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Down Memory Lane - My Graduation Picture

My high school graduation picture. I graduated (yes, I did!) in 1961. Those were the days when I still had a figure.
We had our 50th class reunion 2 years ago and had a great time seeing everybody. Nobody had changed (HA!) All but a couple of women had gray/white hair. We all know why those two had dark hair, don't we? The men who still had hair were also gray/white. But we were able to still recognize everyone. What is interesting is that after 50 years the 'clicks' are now on common ground, and I talked to the guys that I doubt I ever talked with in school. There was lots of catching up and reminiscing going on. Everyone commented afterward how much fun it was. We need to do this again, maybe in 5 years? We don't want to wait too long since we have already lost 3 classmates - one to cancer, one to scleroderma, and one had fallen off a cliff while mountain climbing.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What's Cooking. . . . . Old Favorites - Texas Hash

Old Favorites

I have to be honest and say I have not done much cooking lately, so I have no pictures to go along with these recipes right now. But I thought I would share with you some of my family's old favorites. The one I am sharing today is from an old community cookbook that was given to me early in my first marriage and there are several recipes that have been marked with 'good' or 'very good' in the margin. Most of these recipes are simple and economical. Nothing gourmet about them, just common, everyday foods that most families in the Midwest were eating in the 1960's. I would not be surprised that many of these recipes could be found in Amish cookbooks, even though most of the recipes in this book were contributed by Dutch ladies.

A side note: Did you know that the group of people called the Pennsylvania Dutch are not Dutch, but Deutsche? The Deutsche are German people, and Germany is called Deutschland. It sounds something like doytch-land. I haven't researched why the people from Holland are called Dutch.

On to the recipe for today ~

Texas Hash

1 pound hamburger, browned
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup diced celery
1/4 cup green pepper
2 cups tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 cup uncooked rice

Combine all ingredients. Heat to boiling on stove burner, then bake, covered, 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Note: I am usually in a hurry when cooking a meal, and find that bringing this to a boil in a heavy skillet with a lid, I can then turn the heat down to simmer and cover with lid. Allow to simmer until rice is cooked. That could be about 20 minutes. And it depends on whether you use regular rice or instant rice.

Since I try to have browned hamburger in the freezer at all times, using a bag of that makes for a really quick dish. This is also easy to add other ingredients to your liking. You might like to add garlic, a little bit of sugar to mellow the tomatoes, a can of corn or an amount of frozen corn to your liking, a can of pork'n'beans, or any kind of cooked beans. Adding the corn and a can or two of beans can extend the meal to feed more people if your kids bring friends home. If you happen to be out of rice, add some pasta.

Serve with a salad and garlic bread and you have a tasty and filling meal. In fact, I think I will make this for my supper tonight! I have everything on hand, except I think what is left of the green pepper in the fridge needs to go in the garbage. I should check the freezer as I might have some chopped pepper in there. I do know there are some whole hot peppers in there, and since I like a little heat, that is probably what I will end up with, or else a small can of green chilies. Adding a jar of chunky salsa could be substituted for the tomatoes, onion and green pepper. That is part of the fun of cooking isn't it? Make it your own. But if you find a combination that everybody loves, you better write it down so you can remember what you did the next time you want to make it. Ask me how I know that!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

'Tis Home Sweet Home - Pantry Reorganizing - again

It is hard for me to believe, but it has been over a year ago that I talked here about cleaning out and organizing my pantry! Well, I was at it again recently. 

Above is what it looked like when I was in the process of organizing 15 months ago. That wide board is the front half of the middle shelf. I had also removed the front half of the top shelf. That makes it so much easier to find things on the shelves below.

The above picture is what it looked like a week later, after I had gone shopping and stocked up on a whole lot of great sales. Not too bad considering what I have to work with. I am in no way an expert at organizing, especially in getting it to look really neat. I just have too much stuff that has to go into a small space. I would like to stock up even more when there are good sales, but there just isn't room -- yet.

This picture shows you what it looks like today, after I put in the can storage racks and got the canned goods neater and able to find what I need, and what I am low on. I could use a couple more racks but there is no more room. I have one-of-a-kind cans there that do not need a place in a rack. At least now I am able to see what I have. I wanted to eliminate the front plank of that shelf, but there is just too much there to be able to do that. I am happy with the way it is for now.

I think you all know that it takes constant effort to keep pantries in shape. Since I am a low energy person, whenever I go grocery shopping, I am just lucky to get it all in the house. It might take me another day to get around to putting it all away, and sometimes don't have the time to do it right, so it just gets put in anywhere I can find a space. I do hope that I will do better at it now that the racks are in place. It is so much nicer when I want to cook and I can find what I need right away instead of having to move can after can before finding it.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


I see I am behind on having posts ready! Please bear with me as I need to get my life back in order, and then I will have some time to get my thoughts and pictures together.

See you later!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tis Home, Sweet Home

While I was ordering my stool and cart, I also ordered this:

When I cleaned out my pantry previously here, I looked at can storage racks like this one, but did not order any. Later when I did a large stocking up shop I ran out of room again and was wishing I had this rack. So now it is on order and should be here by the time this post is published. And by then I will have my rolling stool, so I should be all set to get organized once more. (picture of finished project later)

Monday, September 16, 2013

This 'n' That - Latest Book Read

I recently finished reading this book that a friend loaned to me. If you love cats, this is one to read. I have not read Vicki Myron's first book -

but now that I read Dewey's Nine Lives, I really want to read the first story. Dewey and Vicki are from Spencer, Iowa, a town about 50 miles from here and a town I have been to many times. Vicki tells such good stories about Dewey and the other cats that people have loved and lost. Cats (and dogs) are awesome creatures that God has given us to share our lives. They have a variety of personalities, they love unconditionally, they can be aloof, and/or intuitive to our emotions and health.

They have an inner clock that tells them what time it is. My Felix would usually jump on my bed around 6 am to get me up so I could feed him. I often get up around 3 to go to the bathroom, so he would come in, wake me up and lead me to the bathroom, doing his cheek rubs on every corner along the way so that I wouldn't get lost (LOL), refusing to leave the room until I flushed, and then he went back to bed and so did I. Maybe he realizes that my night vision is not good compared to his?

Felix used to live with my daughter and family and when I would visit, I noticed that when it was almost time for my daughter to get home from work, he would situate himself so he could watch the door and wait for her!

When my Bible study group meets at 5:45 on Friday mornings, my alarm clock goes off at 5:00. Felix then knows that I have to get up and he makes sure that I do. Once I am dressed and ready I have some time to sit and watch the news and drink a cup of coffee until the gals arrive. Felix will sit where he can look out the window in the direction the gals will be coming from, and as soon as he sees the car lights he knows it is them, and often would go and greet them at the door. At least he did this when he was healthy. It has been very interesting to see him 'know' what is going to happen next.

Life would be so boring without our pets, don't you agree?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Michael W. Smith & Amy Grant - Thy Word - [Live]

Faith Friday - Led by the Light



Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)

(The following is a direct quote as I could not find a better way to state it)

A good followspot operator knows how to lead a performer. It's a subtle enough trick that you've probably never noticed at a concert or theater performance, but the spotlights move slightly ahead of the performers, leading them to their next location. It takes a lot of practice; the operators have to know where the performers need to go and how best for them to get there. Likewise, the performers need to be aware of their spot operators and choose to remain in their lights and follow the blocking laid out for them. When performers allow these technicians to lead them, the lighting looks smooth and enhances the performance. When performers make their technicians chase them, the lighting looks twitchy and distracts from the performance. 

This verse reminds us that God's Word is the truth by which our paths are illuminated. As we read the Word and apply it to our lives, we walk in the light, allowing God to lead us. If we choose to follow our own path, we often step out of the light and quickly find ourselves lost and confused. Thankfully, just as a good followspot operator always finds his or her wayward performer, God does not abandon us in our darkness; instead, he finds us again and leads us with the light that is his word. 
-- Rob Matthews

Prayer: Father God, illuminate the path of my life with your Word.

Isn't that indeed good news? God does NOT abandon us in our darkness. When it seems like God is far away as we go through our struggles (darkness) in life, He is really right there with us.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Down Memory Lane - My Funny Valentine

Anyone who knew my husband, did not forget him! He was a real jokester and a cut up character. He loved to get a rise out of everybody, and it wasn't always appreciated. He had a couple of favorite short jokes that he loved to tell everybody he saw - waitresses, cashiers, a stranger sitting next to him in the doctor's office, whoever came close enough to talk to.

Here are a couple of my favorite pictures of him. They were taken when he was young and long before I ever knew he existed. These were taken during WWII. This first one is the classic 'official?' army picture in full dress uniform. See the jaunty angle to his hat? That is typical of his character. I love those dreamy eyes and barely a hint of a smile. Pretty handsome, don't you think?

The next picture was in pretty bad shape so it isn't a clear picture but one I love. Les was stationed in the Philippines during the war, and here he is showing off his grass skirt! Hula-la! Always finding some way to have some fun was my guy.

And finally, this is his last photo taken by a photographer.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What's Cooking . . .Old Cook Book


If you like to look at old books, this cook book is interesting. It was in a kitchen drawer in my husband's house when I moved in. His first wife did not cook much, so my husband did most of the cooking, and her sister did a lot of baking and canning for them for payment of having her hair done, since his first wife was a beautician. Since my husband didn't cook with recipes I doubt that this book was used much. It looks like the grandkids played with it from the crayon marks on the cover.

Copyright dates are 1941 and 1943

I think the list of contents is interesting. This book seems to cover everything in the kitchen! Take a look and find the more unusual subjects.

Want to know how to cook eggplant? Here are six ways. All types of foods cooked in just about every way imaginable, at least back in the 1940's, are listed in this book.

Since I recently blogged about 2 cream pies I make, I thought you might like to see some of the recipes for cream pies back then. How about a coffee cream pie? Or a date cream pie, or orange cream pie?

If you would like to try one of these unusual pies, let me know and I will put the recipe here on the blog.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tis Home, Sweet Home - Only the Necessary

I haven't had time to concentrate on decorative things, nor the energy to keep the house in shape like it should be. My knees have been giving me a lot of trouble lately, so I am hobbling around at best. That means I only get the absolutely necessary things accomplished. And for me that is cleaning up after Felix the cat - scooping litter and replacing it, buying it, hauling it out with the garbage; finding something quick and easy to eat that doesn't require cooking, if possible. Nuking, yes. Washing dishes when I must, shopping when absolutely necessary, and PTL that Walmart has electric carts so that I can get around the store. Other than that, getting myself to the bathroom and to bed, etc. is all my basic routine. You would think this would be the perfect opportunity to get all my piles of paper in order, wouldn't you? But, alas, it isn't happening. I really, really need to be in the right frame of mind to sort things in order to do the job right, but my energy flags where that is concerned too. I am just a mess, don't you think?

After having all the trouble with my knees this past week, I decided it was time to spend some money on a few things that will hopefully make my life a little easier. I went online and ordered a rolling stool, similar to what you see in a doctor's office. The one I ordered had comments that said it rolled very well on carpet, and works well in small places and both those are important to me since my house is really small, and I have carpet on every single floor of the whole house. I am not crazy about that but since I rent, there isn't much I can do about it.

Right now I often have to sit on a chair at the sink to do dishes, and at the stove to cook. I do as much food prep on the kitchen table where I can also sit on a chair. But every time I have to get something from the fridge or another part of the kitchen I have to get up and move the chair, which does not slide on the carpet. So it is very frustrating. And the back of the chair is always in the wrong place so have to turn the chair around as well. The stool should solve all that.

Then I realized I can also use the stool at the sewing machine, and can swivel toward the ironing board to press, or a cutting table on the other side. I can also put the ironing board directly behind me since I won't have a chair back in the way. The stool also adjusts in height for either table or counter, so can use it as a piano stool instead of moving a chair - that is too low - from somewhere else. The piano bench I had for years is falling apart so it now holds plants in front of a window. It isn't even safe for my young grandkids to sit on, so is definitely not safe for me to sit on!

Another thing that is a real chore for me is to carry all the shopping bags into the house from the van. My garage is not attached but is very close, but I actually have started backing the van up to the patio step to unload. I then only have a few short steps to the back door. I first carry in all the freezer and fridge foods and put away. Then unload the rest of the bags onto the patio, put the van in the garage, then haul everything to the door and inside. Sometimes they sit there for the rest of the day as I am too tired to go any further.

But now, I ordered a fold-up cart to put several bags in and pull the cart to the door, so I don't have to carry the heavy bags at all.  I might also use the cart to carry things from the pantry when I cook. I have to store many of my counter top appliances in the pantry outside of the kitchen since I have so few cupboards and very little counter in the kitchen. And I keep all the baking supplies and canned goods out there as well. So I often have more than one armload of things to carry back and forth, and it does get tiresome on my bad knees. I can't wait to get the stool and cart and try them out!

Monday, September 9, 2013

This 'n' That - Decluttering Paper


After I decluttered several magazines and catalogs, I had copies of Consumer Digest and a few Discipleship Journal magazines that I am keeping and needed to find room to store them out of sight, but still handy for referencing. So I then needed to make some room in a drawer of the filing cabinet. The most logical (so far) was the drawer where all the income tax files are. I still had every year of income tax papers from all the years since my husband Les and I were married, and that is almost 24 years ago! Time to get rid of all but the last 10 years. I can probably go even further and save only the last 5-7 years, but will go with 10 for now. It sort of gives me the heebee-jeebees to get rid of them, for fear that I will need them in the future (but never have so far).

Here is the stack I worked on.

And here is were that stack went:

And this is what I ended up with:

Two garbage bags full of shredded paper and enough room in the file drawer for those magazines. (maybe a picture of that drawer will be forthcoming after I have finished decluttering and organizing it, but I am not there yet.)

Today, as I write this, the garbage has been picked up by the city. I first dumped used cat litter in each bag, plus added all the other garbage for the week, dividing it all up between the two bags. I have read that it is a good idea to use the cat litter when disposing of personal information as well as old drugs, as that deters anyone from rummaging through the bags to dig them out. Never flush old drugs down the toilet as they then get into the city water treatment plant (or septic tank) and contaminates everything. Actually, the best way to dispose of old drugs is to take them to your pharmacy and they can dispose of them properly. 

Do you wonder what papers you need to keep and which ones you can toss? I can't always remember so have a list that I got from FlyLady. I know some of you are familiar with her. If not, check her out at flylady.net. She has a very good program for keeping house.

Here is her basic list of what to keep and for how long.




birth certificates
adoption papers
custody agreements
death certificates
deeds to property
divoce papers
list of previous employers
loans that have been paid off (canceled notes or other evidence)
marriage certificates
photographic or video record of house and household contents
record of any governmental employment (e.g., armed forces)
income tax returns (supporting documentation may be destroyed after 6 years)
tax forms and supporting records relating to non-deductible IRA contributions
tax forms and supporting records relating to sale of a home


bank statements: 6 years
brokers' confirmation slips for purchases until security is sold
canceled checks: 6 years
contracts: 7 years after expiration
credit card statments: 6 years
receipts for home improvements that can be added to tax basis of home
6 years after home is sold in a transaction that is not a "rollover" transaction
insurance papers (all types of insurance): 4 years after expiration
mortgage records: 3 years after paid off
owners' manuals for appliances: until item is discarded
receipts for major warranted purchases: until item is discarded or sold
records supporting income tax returns and deductions (W-2s, 1099s, receipts): 6 years
warranties and extended service agreements: until expiration

THROW AWAY (shred):
owners' manual and warranties for appliances and cars you no longer own
receipts for credit card purchases if not major or related to a tax deduction

I might also mention that most of the things on the 'KEEP' list should be kept in a bank deposit box, including house inventory.

The IRS website does offer a different length of time on tax papers so you may want to check there for more information. The above list is a good guideline to begin with.

Have I done everything on the list? I have to admit that I have not. But I need to. There goes my procrastination gene again. Maybe some day. . . . .

Friday, September 6, 2013

Faith Friday - Blinded by the Light



based on --
They did not see one another. . . for three days, but all the people of Israel had light (Exodus 10:23)

To read the context of this verse, read Exodus 10:21-27.

This is the story of the second to last plague to strike Egypt. The Egyptians were in the dark. It was an oppressive darkness so deep that people could not see one another. It is the kind that you feel.  Have you ever been in a cave and they turn the lights off and leave you in total darkness? I have. It is eerie. It is scary. It is disorientating. You have no idea where you are or whether you are right side up or upside down. You put out your hand to feel the wall but feel nothing, unless you are lucky enough to be standing close to someone or against that wall. It isn't a good feeling.

At the same time there was light where the Israelites lived. In the theater the lighting designer knows that in order to direct our attention on the one spotlighted, the rest has to be in the shadow. Think of being in a dark tunnel and we finally see the light at the end. We can't take our eyes off that light.

God uses this kind of contrast between darkness and light to reveal Himself to Egypt. By putting the Egyptians in total darkness and the Israelites were given light, they attracted the eyes of Pharaoh and all of Egypt. The Israelites were in the spotlight. If you were the one in the darkness, wouldn't you wonder why someone else has all the light? What do they have that I don't?

Sometimes the darkness in our lives directs our eyes toward God's love through Jesus Christ. May our eyes ever be fixed on him.

The song that constantly ran through my mind when my husband was sick and dying was "Turn your eyes upon Jesus."

Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
in the light of His glory and grace.

Prayer: Light of the Word, amid the darkness of life may my eyes always be fixed on you.

(original written by Rob Matthews)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Down Memory Lane - the Iowa homes of my grandparents

This is Mom's brother, Harold, pointing to the farm where he and most or all of his siblings were born. This was taken in July 1964. I wish I knew exactly where it is located. I know the general area as it isn't too far from the farm where I grew up, but further north east a few miles. So my grandfather was a farmer at that time. Later they moved to town.

This is the first house they moved to in town. It looks like it was on the north edge of town, north of the railroad tracks and grain elevators. Main street was further south. There were only a handful of houses on the north side of the tracks. You notice, there are no close neighboring houses in the picture and this was taken in 1964, long after grandparents had moved to California and after I was married. I don't know if the reason they moved to town was because this was the time that Grandpa left the family, and Grandma wasn't able to run the farm herself. Lots of questions but no one left to answer them.

This is the second house they lived in that was south of the railroad tracks, so closer to the business district. The back of the picture says they lived there several years. I think this is where Mom lived while she was in high school, as well as at least her two oldest brothers and sister. There is a younger sister that went to school in California. Mom graduated from high school in 1927. It is the same school I graduated from. I remember riding with Mom when she pointed out this house, but I could not take you there today. I think I know the general area it was in. Some day I should take this picture along and go to that town and see if I can find it. No guarantee that the house is still standing today though. I am intrigued by why they may have moved to either of these houses.