Sunday, August 02, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Let's Use the Good Stuff

Christmas Eve dinner 2014

My husband and I were recently reminiscing about Mamaw... my mother.  We were talking about her much beloved and ratty nightgown, which was held together with safety pins.  What was amusing was the fact that Mom had a couple pretty nightgowns in a dresser drawer of her bedroom.  Given to her as gifts from her children to wear instead of the ratty red nightie.

However, she was saving them in case "she had to go to the hospital".  Which is even more amusing because as we know, one wears a hospital gown when actually in the hospital.  But Mom was part of that generation that lived through two world wars and a Great Depression.  Like so many her age, she saved the Good Stuff for someday.

I mean, really... for what are people saving saving their best?  That Perfect Day when the sun is shining and the birds are singing and it is 70 degrees and everyone we know has been in a good mood and we feel wonderful and the bills are all paid and the pantry stocked and the children are all obedient and Heaven has come to Earth?

There is a gift that comes with illness, whether a chronic illness like my own or a life threatening illness.  One either grows tired and bitter or one learns to embrace Life as it arrives each day.  His mercies are, after all... new every morning.  When one has not been guaranteed a next year or even a next day... and if you think of it none of us are... we learn to use the Good Stuff.  Today.

When pondering this Sunday Afternoon Tea post, I thought about my collection of brown transferware.  It began with a plate purchased here and there at thrift stores.  Through the years more pieces were added when found at low prices at the antique mall.  Amazon credit was used for the teapot one year.

Friends gave me pieces as they came across them.  Kristi sent me her set of brown Old British Castles dishes (lovely).  My daughter gifted with a platter on our visit to Brimfield (which was a Perfect Day).  As any collector knows, the memories of the hunt or the one who gave a gift is as endearing as the object itself.

And I admit I have other sets of dishes which... except for my wedding china... were inherited or purchased at thrift stores.  But it is my brown transferware that causes my heart to go pitty pat and brings a smile to my face.  Which is why it is displayed in the china cabinet and on the hutch.

But you know what?  I also use it!  I created a tradition of using it for sit down dinners during the Autumn season.  When the first pumpkin spice latte is available at Starbuck's (usually September 1st) is my official first day of Autumn.  No matter how hot it is outside.

It is the china I use for Thanksgiving Dinner and sometimes for Christmas Eve.  But I also use it for grilled burgers and crustless quiche and for individual Tea Times in Autumn.  I know many people who use it throughout the year.  But I do have to give equal time to other dishes.  ;)

Why do we not use the good perfume or actually light the lovely scented candles?  Why are there gorgeous journals on our shelves... with not one word written in them?  Are we waiting to write the Great American Novel in them instead of the most precious story... the very days of our lives?

We need to use the Living Room and the formal Dining Room and that pretty table on the deck.  We need to wear the lovely sweater that needs dry cleaned and the dress we were saving for a special occasion which may never arrive.

When I let my daughter-in-law choose from my teacup collection (offering everything except those which were gifts or had other sentimental value), I told her not to worry about breaking them.  But to use them and have lots of tea parties.

We need to dare to break things or to stain things or to have the baby spit up on the pretty blouse.  We need to use the pretty pens and the beautiful washi tape and the cards with the lovely artwork.  We need to wear the jewelry.  We need to be using the pretty tea towels and beautiful linens.

We need to set the table with the vintage lace and use grandmother's inherited china and the fragile crystal stemware and use the pretty teapot and the silver... whether inherited or purchased at a thrift store.  We need to brew the expensive tea that was gifted to us and perhaps even share it with a friend.

Why do we save the Good Stuff?  Are we going to take it with us?  I have a feeling that everything in Heaven is infinitely better than the Good Stuff we have here.  After all, the streets are paved with gold.  Yes... what man values most is the stuff they make pavement from there.

So use the Good Stuff now.  Today.  Don't wait.  Let Carpe Diem be our motto... while we look to That Day when all will be made Perfect.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - A Little "here and there" Pantry Building


This past week, I worked at chipping away my Procrastination List.  It was too hot and humid most days to work outside.  Not to mention the bugs.  Oh, my.  I've never seen it like this before.  But then again, it is reported to be a record breaking month of rain.  More rain in July than... ever before.  Since they started recording amounts, of course.  Noah's flood doesn't count.

Sometimes you just have to ask for help, which is what I did to defrost the freezer.  By husband is 6'2".  He is much better than I am at getting to the bottom of the freezer.  So we unplugged the freezer yesterday morning and I was able to remove most of the ice build up by late afternoon.  He is going to drain what is left and give the freezer a good cleaning.  It would not be a pretty picture if I were the one hanging over the side of the freezer trying to clean the bottom.  Although he could definitely use such a photo for blackmail!

Many of the remaining items on the list were accomplished sitting at my desk.  Pushing my furry helper's tail away from my space.  I think her absolute favorite place in the world is to be on the desk when I'm at work.  Sigh...  Anyway, there is about one day's work to do on my old list.  Then I will write down a new one with overdue Gotta Do's.

This week, although the budget is low, I added to my Emergency Pantry by purchasing one can of coffee and one jar of good jelly.  Actually, I tried a new-to-us preserves that a man told me about when I purchased the lemon curd a couple weeks ago.  He was from the South and was at Meijers to purchase Braswell's Fig Preserves.

He said I must try it someday and when I did... just a little dollop for me and a thick layer of preserves on an English muffin for my husband... it was delicious.  So a jar has been added to my Emergency Pantry with perhaps more to come.  Apparently it is quite famous in the South.  For good reason!

Just a little at a time here and there does make a difference.  I was thinking recently how our grandmothers (and great grandmothers for those younger than I am) would stock their pantry for Winter.  They depended on canning their vegetables, making jam and preserves and juice, drying food, pickling food, fermenting food, etc.  As well as laying in flour and other baking supplies to last for months.

There was not a huge variety in their diet during Winter months but we now know how healthy it was.  Those pickled and fermented items were just what the doctor ordered... literally.

I can't do a lot of my own preserving but I can take a page out of Grandmother's kitchen book and stock items that... should I once again have to live out of my pantry... would give nutrition and work well with everyday foods.  For instance, a really good quality preserves to be used with bread and good maple syrup for pancakes (think "The Long Winter").

When our Social Security check arrives this month, we are going to add a mega package of paper towels to the pantry (we use them sparingly so they last awhile).  I long ago learned if I can't do a lot, then I can do a little!


I used Amazon credit to try out an item that will fill a definite need in the pantry... cream!  I can drink tea without cream but I need a little cream in my coffee.  I also use cream to make scones and a couple other baked goods.

I had tried all kinds of things but they either had 1) too many chemicals, or 2) tasted awful.  So when I saw this while doing some Amazon research, I had to try it.  It is only a little over $8.00 as an "Add On" item, which means you can only get that price if you add it to an order.  Sometimes you also must have an order totaling over $35.00 but not with every item.

So... I added it to my last Amazon credit order (The Foyle's War DVD that was on sale) and couldn't wait to try it when it arrived.  It is really good!  I will definitely add another can here and there as I have the credit. 

Although it is a powdered cream, it is instant so you don't need any special equipment to mix it with water (it can be added to hot beverages straight from the container).  This would work great for making hot chocolate mixes.

It is a product of Holland.   It has a minimum two year shelf life unopened although I read online it can last for years.  Once opened, it does not have to be refrigerated. More information is available... here.*

PODCAST
I've been listening to more podcasts recently, with my iPad sitting on the desk as I work (away from the cat's tail!) or safely in a corner as I do dishes.  Yesterday I listened to a podcast on the Slow Your Home App, an interview with Rhonda Hetzel of the Down to Earth blog (one of my long time favorites).

You can catch it online... here.  You can listen to it on the website by just clicking Play.

*Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Help the West Ladies


I feel I know the West Ladies through their Homestead Blessings DVDs.  They inspired me in so many ways, including the planting of apple mint.  Which, alas... did not do well this year due to all the heat and rain.  But usually it is quite wonderful.

Some may know that the family has to move from the land they have been leasing for fourteen years.  Friends have set up a fundraiser at You Caring to help them have the money needed to purchase land and build a cabin on it.

I know many of you also loved the Homestead Blessings DVDs so I thought I'd share the information.  You can find more information on their You Caring page... here.

I'm sure for those of us who do not have the funds to help financially, we certainly can help in prayer!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

My World this Week

A few tweaks inspired by a $1.00 purchase.  ;)

In my part of the world, it is very hot and very humid.  Typical July weather but my longing for Autumn has already set in.  Pumpkin Spice... sweater weather... candles... evening tea or hot apple cider... soups simmering... mums... sigh.  Oh, so ready.

This past week included the celebration of my birthday (thank you for the cards and such!).  I think I will get some e-mailing time very soon.  With my husband being ill this summer, he has been in the office and on the computer more than usual.  He is feeling a little better.  Christopher had a bad summer, too, ending up at the clinic's emergency room.  Both suffering from mold allergies and it has been wet, wet, wet!

Victoria is losing fur like crazy.  I think she has fond thoughts of the cool Maine summers which are in her DNA.  This is the cat who can sit in an open window when it is below zero!

Otherwise... this is what has been happening in my world this week:

Reading

This is what my stack of books looked like earlier.  Yikes!  Two have been read, and three to go.  I used birthday gift money to purchase the latest issue of Where Women Cook.  I haven't been buying it lately but it had some articles I was very interested in this time.  Including one about Aimee Wimbush-Bourque who blogs at Simple Bites and wrote the fabulous cookbook called Brown Eggs and Jam Jars.  Info about the cookbook... here.*

My friend, Kristi (who introduced me to D. E. Stevenson and I will be forever grateful) sent Listening Valley.  It is my very next fiction read.  Looks fabulous.  More info... here.*

Disaster was sent by another friend and it was an excellent book.  While it begins with Hurricane Katrina hitting their home and church, the book is about the storms we all experience in life and how God uses them to shape us and mold us.

It is very well written, lots of Scripture, and easy to read.  More info... here.*  Thank you, Carol, for sending this book.  I highly recommend it to anyone going through difficult times (and we all do off and on!).

The Birds Our Teacher by John Stott has been on my Wish List for ages.  It finally had used copies at an inexpensive price!  This edition also comes with a DVD of Stott's trip to the Falkland Islands.  Info... here.*  I have perused the book but have it out to read and enjoy soon.

The other two books are review books, one review written... the other will be soon.

Watching

Foyle's War is one of my all time favorite TV shows and I was quite unhappy when Set 8 was not shown on PBS as the others had been.  Instead it was streamed through Acorn's streaming service, which makes sense as they do own many of our favorite BBC shows now.

So when it went on sale at Amazon, I was happy to be able to buy it with credit and to eventually share it with my daughter and her family.  It is said that this will be the last season due to the cost of producing it.  This is the second season after WWII has ended.  Further information can be found at Amazon.com... here.*

By the way, if you get the Ovation Channel on Cable or Satellite TV, they are now showing Foyle's War every Wednesday and Thursday afternoon from the beginning of the series.

Washi Love
Each color is a separate roll of French Ephemera washi tape.
Sorry about the glare of the flash, it was dark!

Stephanie gave me a delightful mixture of washi tape for my birthday, including a lace tape and package of colorful geometrics (some of those are shown in the upper right section and a couple others elsewhere).

Knowing my fondness for "all things French", she also gave me the container of beautiful Cavallini French Ephemera washi tape.  Further information... here.*  Thank you, Stephanie!

Creating

I bought the pretty picture at a garage sale years ago.  While I liked the cardboard artwork in it, it was so dingy with age that one could not see it on the wall.  But I kept it, thinking I could do "something" with it... someday.

That "someday" came when I found a roll of chalkboard style vinyl on clearance for a couple of dollars.  It gave me an idea!  So I took the cardboard out of the frame and carefully placed the chalkboard vinyl on it.  This is the same stuff as sticky shelf liner so it takes patience.  I found one layer wasn't enough so I added another layer of vinyl over it.  That looked fine.

I then wrote a thought I've been pondering for awhile, since reading an article.  It took about three times going over it with the chalk pen to get it to look bright enough.  So this project wouldn't work great as a chalk board one would erase and use a lot but it is fine for a permanent wall art!

Decorating by Tweaking

Stacked vintage suitcases are sitting in between a bookshelf and a "fake" tree in my family room.  I set a couple favorite flower accessories on the stack.  It looks good there.  That's a heart shaped pillow peeking out, trying to be seen!

Thrifting

I found this cute shelf for $1.00 at the Mission's thrift store.  Thus the slight change in the kitchen, shown in the first photo.

Her Fluffiness

How statuesque and beautiful!  Actually, she is waiting for me to open "her" window to look at the outside world.

*Most links to Amazon.com are Associate Links.  Which means I receive a very small percent of any purchase done when entering Amazon through a link or the Amazon Widget on the sidebar.  It cost neither of us anything but time and it all adds up... so I thank you!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Called for Life: How Loving our Neighbor Led Us into the Heart of the Ebola Epidemic, a review


Like so many Americans, I was watching the television when Dr. Brantly's plane landed in Atlanta.  The missionary was the first person with Ebola to be brought into the U.S. for treatment.  Those of us who had been praying for him were both happy and startled to see him walk in the hospital... albeit with the help of others.

The entire story fascinated me and I was curious as to what was going on behind the scenes.  How did he get Ebola?  Why was he and his family in Liberia?  What was their story?

So I was quite happy to read their story in Called for Life and I wasn't disappointed.  The day the book arrived I was busy so I skimmed the first couple of chapters and set it aside.  Sunday evening I picked it up again, thinking I would read a few chapters and finish it Monday.  Wrong thing to do.

For once I started the book Sunday evening, I could not put it down.  I had to continue reading it until the end.  The book is fascinating.  The story is fascinating.  Even though we know how it ends, the book keeps you on the edge of your seat as the Ebola story unfolds.

On one hand this is a story of faith and perseverance of a missionary team.  It is a story of how a drug test which begun years ago was in the right place at the right time to save a young missionary doctor.  It is the story of medical professionals who risked their own life to save others.

But it is also the story of how Ebola spread through that part of Africa like the proverbial wildfire.   The worse case scenario that medical professionals hoped would never happen.  It is a fascinating story and just a little bit frightening.

I highly recommend this book.  It reminds me again of the work missionaries do throughout the world.  As well as organizations such as Samaritan's Purse whose people risk their lives to go into dangerous situations to help others.  Exceptional story.

This book was provided by Blogging For Books for the purpose of review but the opinion is my own.

Further information can be found at Amazon.com... here.*

*Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Looking Through the Lens of Grace


I was washing dishes this week and looking through my kitchen window at the pretty flowers and herbs.  They had recently been moved to the deck fence to receive more sunshine, which put them in the line of sight for one looking out that particular window.

They are beautiful this year even with the decision to purchase less flowers and grow more herbs in the containers.  Perhaps that is why the scene is so peaceful.  I love lots of greenery around my "space".  The bouquet I carried at my wedding contained yellow roses and a lot of greenery, as I had requested when ordering it from the florist.

Creating this beauty didn't cost much as I have collected various kinds of flower pots from garage sales and thrift stores over the year.  So come Spring, a couple bags of potting soil and some flower/herb starts are all that is needed. 

But all of this reminded me of a comment left a few years ago.  The comment that almost stopped Coffee Tea Books & Me.  As with all bloggers, I had received snarky comments before but this one was different.  This person was not questioning the content of the blog but my character.

She had accused me of lying and manipulating readers.  She said I obviously had a lot of money for she couldn't afford to live in such a nice house and with such beautiful surroundings.  She went on to attack me but that was the basis of it.  Her biting words almost worked... I came within a whisper of closing down the blog.  Did others believe that about me?

As I spent time alone with the Lord, He provided much needed wisdom.  For this woman was looking at me through warped lenses.   She had formed her own version of what was true and I'm not sure why.  Perhaps she had a deep root of bitterness?  Maybe she was filled with jealousy of others?  I don't know.  But He showed me what others saw as sharing from my heart about creating Beauty with less... she didn't believe could happen.  So I had to be lying.

For one thing, she obviously could not have read my blog for long.  We are fortunate to reside in a part of the country where housing is quite affordable, especially in rural areas like we live.  But over and over I had written that the two primary messages I wanted to share in this blog are 1) we can live beautiful lives given all kinds of health & financial challenges, and 2) how to deepen the pantry on a small income.

Obviously I returned to blogging but made a few changes.  The most important being that it was then I began moderating comments.  For if "hit and run accusers" have no audience, they usually don't comment.  I haven't had a problem since then. 

The other change was that I was no longer as transparent as I had been.  Even all these years later, I still filter carefully what I share.  I will stare at the screen for long periods of time to find the right words.  Those which share a message but without a hint of self pity.  For I truly believe I'm right where God wants me and He is the Provider.  I want others to know that, too.  For their own lives.  So there is now... balance.  I hope.

I do have a gift from God, I have an eye for Beauty.  I can look at one man's junk and turn it into a treasure.  Personally I think my daughter is even better at it than I am.  But God gives me these amazing ideas and even I am astounded sometimes at how they turn out.  Knowing that He is the Master Creator and the True Artist.

So what is this blog title all about?  What do I mean about "lens of grace?".  It is this way, we need to be careful how we allow what others think of us to form our self worth.  For there are a whole lot of people more than happy to put us down.   The enemy sends people with forked tongues into every life and unfortunately... many can be Christians!

I have people in my life, those thorns in the flesh that I long ago stopped even trying to please.  For they look at me through their own varnished lens.  What I find surprising about my worst critics... those who love spewing their slander from one person to another... is that they really don't know me very well.  Those who are the most critical have never spent much time with me, their own idea of who I am has been formed and focused from long distances.

I also have learned... and this time through my own mistakes... to look at others through the lens of God's Grace.  You will never hear me criticizing another person, blogger, or ministry here.  Sometimes people have e-mailed me and privately asked me my opinion on a person in ministry and I'll give an honest opinion.  My theology will come through from time to time but hopefully never in attacking a person.

I do pray for those whose teaching I find lacks integrity of Scripture.  I pray that God sends people they will respect to listen to their correction.   Pastors and teachers who are skating on the thin ice of doctrine need our prayers as do all of us that we know God's Truth.

Do I look through the lens of Grace perfectly?  Not at all!  Recently I stopped following a favorite author on Facebook because she was just too liberal in her theology for my thinking.  But I missed her.  I missed her writing.  And her words that make me think.  I realized God had her in my life for a purpose... even if we didn't "Do Church" exactly the same.  So I liked her again.  I'm sure she didn't miss me among the 40,000+ Followers but I was glad to be back.

Whose lens should we care about?  Whose opinions should we choose to reflect?  Well, obviously the first is God's opinion of us as reflected in His Word.  If you have received His Salvation then we are told He sees us as if we have never sinned.  He sees us through the blood of His Son, who came to His own Creation as a baby... who lived a perfect life... who took our sins upon Him as the ultimate sacrificial Lamb... and returned to the Father having made a way for us to follow!

The Father sees us through the lens of Jesus life, death, and resurrection!  Hallelujah!

We need to pay attention to the opinion of our spouse, our children, our parents, and those who love us most.  To those who live with us day in and day out. They will not have perfect words for some of them are looking through warped lenses. 

But I have learned Truth through them.  Especially my children when they were younger and before they learned to be more... shall we say... diplomatic.  ;)

As for now, all these years later, I continue writing and showing and telling and waxing poetic about things of Beauty and Grace.  Being careful about the words I receive and that I give.  In this battle between Good and Evil... words are often the chosen arrows of the enemy.  No wonder the Bible has so many teachings about the tongue (and by default the pen and the mouse and the keyboard).

I often remember that the Bible says we will give account of our words.  All of them.  Hmmm... perhaps it is time to stop writing.  And talking.  Becoming a Joe Friday "just the facts, maam" kind of person.  I will  have to ponder that.  I'll get back with you.  Next week.  Same Time.  Same Place.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Stocking a little here and there

Lovely spearmint in a container.

I think if there is one question I receive more than others, it is how to stock a pantry on a limited budget.  Which, of course, I have a lot of practice with!  Recently I had extra funds available to do a little pantry stocking.  Not the "let's go to Sam's Club" stock up... but buying a little here and there at the grocery stores.

One thing that helps to stretch the limited funds is to know where to go to buy what.  The grocery store I went to quite often when we lived in town is now the most expensive in the area.  I pick up my prescriptions there and often peruse their aisles for sales.  I will, however, purchase items there that are 1) on sale, or 2) only available there.

However, most of my shopping is done at Kroger or Meijers.  I do occasionally go to Aldis, Target, or Walmart for items I know have the best price there.  The best chocolate for the cheapest price?  Definitely Aldis!  Just saying...  ;)

How I wish they would build a Trader Joe's here!  But I digress...

In this last little bit of stocking, I concentrated on basics such as a couple large containers of canola oil, an extra bottle of Colavita Extra Virgin Olive oil, an extra bottle of Bragg's Apple Cider vinegar, two boxes of kitchen trash bags, a super large package of TP, a jar of organic whipped honey (on sale), two jars of my favorite lemon curd (on clearance prices), a couple packages of tea, and a few packages of dry kluski style noodles.

Now, my list may be completely different than essentials you would buy.  For instance, I make scones once in awhile and my husband prefers them with lemon curd.  They are one of my "hospitality pantry" items.  The jar of whipped organic honey is also put back to use in the "hospitality pantry". 

Since I am almost out of cans of coffee, they will soon become a priority. Adding a can now and then to the grocery list.  Now that we are near the end of July, I need to go to the Farmer's Market to begin purchasing a jar of raw local honey now and then.  Not only is it used in baking but my husband mixes raw honey and Bragg's Apple Cider to use medicinally.

Sometimes we get the Eden Organic Apple Cider if it is on sale.  Like the Bragg's, it contains "the mother" as an ingredient.  Which is necessary to make it medicinal.  I always thought that sounded kind of creepy and it looks like something from the Black Lagoon on the bottom of the bottle.  ;)

I will soon need to restock flour, too.  If you don't want to stock both bread flour and AP flour, King Arthur's unbleached AP (All Purpose) flour has a high enough gluten level that it works well as both an AP flour and a bread flour.  Currently I buy both kinds of King Arthur flours but I'm leaning in the direction of just buying their AP flour.  I also have one container of their self rising flour but I don't stock extra since it has a shorter shelf life and I don't use it often.

I am once again learning the importance of keeping a list of items I need to purchase, even if it is only one extra.  For I have forgotten items I was out of and the stock up funds should have included them.

I have to work around special diet needs for both of us.  My husband is suppose to only eat organic foods but that is absolutely impossible.  Instead, we work in organics the best we can.  For instance, I buy organic milk because the Kroger brand is very reasonable.  But we can't purchase organic cream, ice cream, cheese, etc.

I buy organic carrots as they are inexpensive and I buy organic lettuce only for him.  I use regular lettuce.  He can only have organic strawberries but he can get away with eating non-organic citrus fruit.  I admit to having a few boxes of Amy's Organic Mac & Cheese on the shelf, too!

I need to always balance carbs and it may surprise people that insulin dependent diabetics must have a certain amount of carbs to balance meals.  My low blood sugar emergencies have been when I haven't eaten in time or when I had a meal without carbs.

Orzo and a really good brand of dry noodles are used most often in cooking.  I am not fond of rice and orzo works well in many rice recipes.  Other dried pastas like spaghetti, fettuccine, etc. are very pantry friendly.  The noodles have a good shelf life but the other pastas have been known to be in perfect condition after two years!  By having canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, perhaps a good marinara sauce, etc.... a meal can be available at the last minute.

My freezer usually contains frozen vegetables purchased on stock up sales.  I've used up everything and have not added additional freezer items since the defrosting of the freezer is on my Procrastination List and did not get done last week!   Neither did anything else on the list.  Sigh...

As I said, your list of what you would purchase should a little extra pantry funds come in would most likely be very different than mine.  For instance, if I had children at home, peanut butter or almond butter would be very high on my list to keep stocked!

Some friends have lovely pantries full of food they have canned.  Coveting?  Who is coveting?  ;)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

My World this Week

I adore lovely morning light coming in through lace curtains.

My goodness, this summer is passing quickly.  It is odd how, where I live, winter seems to go on forever and summer flies by.  But this summer has not been a good one where weather is concerned with flooding rains and storms having begun in spring.

We are now having a stretch of about four days without rain in the forecast, the longest dry period in weeks and weeks and weeks.  The garden doesn't like the soggy conditions, neither do the crops in the state.  How I wish we, in our part of the Midwest, could share our too-much-rain with drought ridden California.

If you wrote an e-mail and I haven't responded, don't give up on me!  Except for brief answers with the iPad, all of my computer time of blog writing, e-mail answering, etc. is squeezed into the time my husband is not using the office and/or the computer (which is really his).  At the moment he is mowing the lawn.  So I grabbed the computer.  Not literally but you know what I mean.

So after that long tirade, here is what was happening in my world last week.

Reading

Green Dolphin Street still is my ongoing fiction reading and Disaster is my nonfiction reading.  It was sent to me by a friend and I'll write more about it later.  But it is about the affects of Hurricane Katrina.  Amazing.

Two review books arrived today so the above books must be set aside for the reading of those books.  I will review both next week.

Morning Light

Decorating by Tweaking

So... after I moved the chalkboard to that wall, the other items there just didn't look right.  And I really wanted the chalkboard there.  So I had to do some switch-a-roo decorating with other wall objects.  But I think it worked out fine.

Collecting

I sorted through my cookie cutters last week and kept mostly only the vintage cutters.  There were a few favorites that were newer I kept, like the teacup and teapot!  I like that with less cookie cutters in the jar, you can see them better.

Cookie cutters are a fun collection to begin with children.  They tend to be quite inexpensive and very cute.  Not to mention you can actually use them!

Deck Flowers

I have babied these beauties this year by tucking them under the two small deck tables when there was heavy rain and/or storms in the forecast.  Which, as I mentioned, was almost daily this year.  So they look pretty good.

See that gorgeous herb in the blue container?  That is pineapple sage.  This is the first time I grew it in a container and I love the way it looks.  It will eventually get pretty flowers, too. Last year I grew it in the herb garden but like so many herbs, it didn't survive the brutally cold winter.

Her Fluffiness

P.L.E.A.S.E. Brenda, let me stay and help.  I love creating with you!  Even if you say I am sitting on the paper you need.

Oh, her paws are much better, the swelling has gone down.  Thank you for asking!  Dr. Lisa says the condition is rare and there is no known cure.  The medication helps a little but being a steroid, she can't stay on it.  So prayer is always appreciated.

Q & A

Vee will be happy to know there were no alligators sighted this week.  As am I.  I was asked about the statement I made that during the Great Depression in America, Hobos were known to mark a home if the people gave food and/or shelter to them. (Like I highly suspect the cold blooded critters are doing to my home!)

One must remember, most Hobos were just men who were out of work who road the rails across the nation looking for work.  So there were people (on farms especially) who would make them a sandwich or let them sleep in their barn.

Such accounts of a real life Hobo is given in one of my favorite nonfiction books, The Education of a Wandering Man by Louis L'Amour.  Yes...  that Louis... the famous writer of westerns.  He did his time riding the rails and this account is given in his autobiography (which actually is about how he educated himself by reading and traveling the world).



There was a comment about bacon grease.  I just pour the grease the bacon produces into a bowl to let it cool if I'm in a hurry and directly into the jar if it has had a chance to cool down.  I keep it in the refrigerator.  My mother, however, had a tin that set out on the stove at all times which held her bacon grease.  She never refrigerated it.

NOTE:  I don't have time to create Amazon links this week.  But if you are interested in more information about any of the books, just click on the Amazon widget on the sidebar and it will take you there.  Thank you to all of you who enter your Amazon shopping through a link or the widget!  I get a small percentage and it cost neither of us anything but time.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Poultry in the Kitchen


So it happened like this.  I was taking a photo of my latest poultry find for the Thrifting section of My World this Week. It happened to be my fine "feathered" friend peeking out on the right of the photo above. She was 99 cents at Goodwill.

When I remembered a post I did two or three years ago.  The one where I took the camera and clicked on every poultry inspired item in my kitchen.  Below is what happened when I did that again.  Mind you... this is just my kitchen.

My daughter used to tease me about my love of poultry but then went and gave me the beautiful rooster plate as a gift.  And the tall rooster on my frig. And the rooster hanging on the side of the yellow pantry.  And the round chicken that resides in the mixing bowl.  And that cute greeting card on my refrigerator.  But that is not a chicken. ;)


I may or may not have a poultry problem.  But my parents did raise chickens when I was a little girl and that was a happy time.  I loved those chickens.  I didn't care for the rooster.  But he was one good looking rooster.  As most roosters are.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Tea - For Such a Time as This

"... Yet who knows whether you have
come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”"
Esther 4:14 

Not too long ago, a friend and I were chatting about world events over a cup of coffee in her kitchen.  She mentioned that she had been warned to be careful what she puts on the Internet as it could be used against her should Christians become physically persecuted in America.

I laughed and told her I'd crossed that line a very long time ago.  Back in the 1980s, my husband and I used to say if Christianity were made illegal, we wouldn't last five minutes there is so much "out there" that we had said and done.

For instance, somewhere in our memories box, there is the front section of a well known newspaper with my husband's photo right there front and center.  It was the year he was in charge of a Christian Coalition campaign for our part of the state.  That alone would seal his fate.

Esther 4:14 has been one of my "life verses" for as long as I can remember.  I held onto it when I was active in politics and Christian political organizations.  I loved the Book of Esther so much that I studied it over and over and eventually wrote a Bible Study about how it relates to our world today.  I taught that Study many times.

But here is the deal... that was when I was doing.  A lot.  Speaking.  Talking.  Teaching.  Giving out pamphlets and other Truth. The world was falling apart and both my husband and I were on the front lines to slow down the darkness overtaking the country.  I say slow down for I think it was the Founder of Concerned Women for America who said we know it could not be stopped... only slowed.

The same week my friend and I chatted about the startling moral downfall of America, I had a letter from a long time friend.  She stated in it that we are now seeing those events unfold that we were warned against decades ago.  So why are we so shocked?  But we are...

I considered her question and told my husband that I don't think shocked is the correct word.  I thought instead of the term Scripture gave to Lot's feelings... vexed.  In the second chapter of 2nd Peter, we are told that Lot was vexed in his soul with what was going on in Sodom and Gomorrah.

I am vexed.  Not taken by surprised.  Neither overwhelmed, really.  Vexed.  A good King James Version word.

Being a pondering kind of person, I thought about that a lot since then.  Health concerns and the consequences they bring keep us from the front lines of the battle. So I really hadn't read Esther 4:14 for awhile.

Until I was pondering.  Until God spoke to me in that Still Small Voice that He uses to share Truth.  "There is more to that verse, Brenda. Think about it.  Ponder it.  What does it tell you about the world in which you live today?"

Then the Truth began to dawn like the morning sun rising above the horizon.  Gently at first.  A little insight here.  A little clarity there. Then an all out blaze of Glory and Truth.

I am here for such a time as this.  You are here for such a time as this.  We are abiding in the place and in the generation for which He planned before the dawn of the Age that we live.

I used to teach that God not only positioned Esther for her place on the World's Stage.  He prepared her.  She was obviously created to be quite beautiful.  One must be to win over a pagan King.  I doubt he looks at the heart very much.  So she was probably quite stunning to look upon.  God's idea you know.

But she had to be smart and wise and discerning.  She had to be brave.  She also had to be bruised and hurt at one time.  For how did she come to live with her Uncle and not her parents?  Life had not been easy for her.  A young Jewish woman who finds herself in the harem of a pagan ruler.

She didn't know she would be Queen.  She had no idea that thousands of years later, her people... those very descendents that she saved... would celebrate the Feast of Purim.

She, along with the other Jews, were in this place against their will.  Captives in a foreign land.  This was God's Will?  Well, he tried to warn them that if they continued in their ways they would be taken captive.  They did.  They were.  Captives that is...

You know what?  He prepared you and me, too.  What we have gone through, what we experienced in our lives.  It was not there by accident.  

We are vexed in our very soul as we see the immorality taking over our beloved country.  For many of us (me and my household included), we are bewildered by the decisions of the current Administration.  They so often make no sense at all.

What will happen to my children?  To my grandchildren?  GOD!!!!

What will happen?  We pray for them daily.  We ask God for protection and wisdom and discernment and all those things we desire for those we love.  But then we remember... They were chosen for their time on the planet.  They are there, not by accident... by God's Will.

God has positioned them.  God is preparing them.  Like Esther's day, the world has turned upside down.  There are wars and rumors of wars.  There are mad men chopping off the heads of Christians throughout the Middle East to please their god.  There is terrorism on our own soil.  That which was not spoken of in genteel places has now been made the Law of the Land.

But we are not here at this time by accident.  You may be like me and no longer on the front lines of the Battle between Good and Evil.  But you are where God wants you and you can become a prayer warrior.  For that is what is needed for the next generation.  Godly praying men and women covering those on the front lines with His Word and His Protection.

You may still be in the Battle of the Ages.  You may be so close you can smell the smoke of Hades.  Stay in His Word.  Talk to Him.  Stay close to others in the Battle.  This will not be the time of the lone warrior.  Find your own Fellowship of the Ring Coming King.

Instead of ringing my hands at the state of this country and the terror in the world, Esther reminded me that as long as I have breath, I'm still in the fight.  Right. Where. He. Wants. Me.  And you.  And us.  Together.  United.

Forget our squabbles about Eschatology, how and when and why and what about His Return.  Look around you.  The battle rages.  And get excited.  And if all you can do is pray that is a whole lot.  It is the essential part of this fight, you know.

Do what He tells you to do.  If He says to deepen your pantry, stock up.  Ask Him for financial provision to do so and if that is His Voice speaking, He provides.  If He says to move.  Move.  If He tells you to stay right where you are.  Stay put. 

If the road ahead looks impossible.  Good.  That means He has placed you right where He wants you for only by clinging to Him will you walk the Path He has chosen.

What does the Word say?  When you see all this happen... look up.  Rejoice.  The battle is almost won.

As another book puts it... Aslan is on the move.

Image:  Chronicles of Narnia, the movie