Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Mid-Winter Check-Up

solar-powered flower from Sue, a cheery item on winter days.
Set in a daylight window and the leaves bob up and down
(even on cloudy days)

Today I am joining in with the Hodgepodge meme where our hostess asks the questions and bloggers submit their answers. It's like taking an informal poll to get the pulse of the readers on different topics every week. 

1) Can you believe it's the end of January? What was the best day of January 2017 for you, and why?

The best day of January for me was Inauguration Day because the candidate I wanted won. He is wasting no time fulfilling his promises. 

Yes, he is brash and almost like a bull in a china shop at times, but he is one who will get things done for the good of our country. Just hold on and keep praying for the man! 

2) What sounds make up the background noise in your life?

Often when I am writing a blog post (like now), it's the quiet drone of the dishwasher just a few feet away from where I am sitting that is making up the background noise for me.  Other than that, we usually have a Christian radio station turned on with quiet praise music.

3) The Power of Positivity website has a list of ten things to drop from your life right now. They are --

anger outbursts
people who put you down
negative self talk
being a people pleaser
the notion you need to be perfect
the past (but keep the lessons learned!)
gossip and judgment
comparing yourself to others
the word hate (focus on what you love instead)

Which thing on the list do you most need to drop? Are you trying or will you try?

At various times I've had to deal with all of the above, but I won't share with my Internet audience which ones test me the most right now.

4) What is sacred to you?

My relationship to God, my husband, and my family, to top the list.

5) January is National Oatmeal month. Are you a fan, and if so, how do you like it?

I really like [gluten-free] oatmeal and most especially in cookies when they include both raisins and non-dairy chocolate chips. I've got some in the refrigerator right now. I think I'll stop here for a moment and go grab one!

Oatmeal-Maca Cookies from page 158 of Superfood Snacks by Julie Morris
(see Barnes and Noble or Amazon)

6) What feelings does twilight stir up in you?

Twilight on a warm summer night stirs up romance in me. I think of twinkly lights, music, Italian food, wearing a sleeveless top with a swingy skirt, low-heeled shoes and holding Beloved's hand.

7) Something you're looking forward to next month?

I'd love to see a problem we've been dealing with get resolved.

8) Insert your own random thought here.

Have you see the new movie, "A Dog's Purpose"?  It's very good, family-friendly, and in theaters now. Here is the movie trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jLOOCADTGs

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These are my answers for this week's questions. How would you reply to them? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

Linking up today at From This Side of the Pond

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Journal Reflections on a Thursday Evening

A little seasonal hand embroidery

For today…

I am thinking about …how blessed this day has been.

I am thankful for … quiet evenings with instrumental quiet praise music.

One of my favorite things …the peaceful evenings Beloved and I enjoy night after night in our recliners with music, reading, and the dishwasher quietly working for me in the kitchen.

I am wearing … blue jeans, a rose-colored long-sleeved T, knee socks and tie shoes.

I am creating … a quilt for next Christmas to throw over the back of a chair in the family room. 

I am watching …my computer screen as I type this blog post.

I am reading (for relaxation) … Slender Reeds, Jochebed’s Hope by Texie Susan Gregory. It’s historical fiction about the mother of Moses.

I am listening to … radio station KTLF out of Colorado Springs.

I am hoping …we can get into Sam’s Club tomorrow. They opened a  brand new store today here in our town, so we were eager to go see it. But we couldn’t find a parking spot!!! We’ll try again tomorrow, earlier in the day with hopes we can beat the crowds.

I am learning … how to be a better, more confident cook, which was one of my desires for 2017.

In the kitchen … this evening for supper we had Chia Tortilla Soup from Julie Morris’ Superfood Soups. Wonderful!

Shared quote … “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, Bless His holy name.” Psalm 103:1  This is a good verse to say to myself when my thoughts want to trouble me or when my body wants to be sick. When I bring all that into the submission of praise to the Lord, things tend to even out.

A moment from my day … here is that Christmas quilt I mentioned earlier. I'm using the solid white bedspread in the guest room as my "design wall."

Linking up with The Simple Woman's Daybook {January Edition}

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Salty Hodgepodge

photo credit
Joyce has come up with some salty breezes and good questions for this week's Hodgepodge.

1. "The cure for anything is salt water -- tears, sweat, or the sea." (Isak Dinesen) Would you agree? Of the three, which has 'cured' you most recently?

I've not heard this quote before, but I like it. I don't like to sweat and the sea is at least a two-and-a-half day drive from me, so salty tears are my usual cure for what ails me.

2. What's something you can't eat without salt? Do you normally salt your food a lot, a little, or not at all?

I can do without salt but I much prefer using some. Asparagus is better with salt (garlic salt and roasted with olive oil, since you're asking!).

3. Sands of time, bury your head in the sand, built on sand, or draw a line in the sand..which sandy phrase could best be applied to something in your life right now?

"Draw a line in the sand" pretty much sums it up for me.

4. A favorite book, movie, or song with an island setting or theme?

The Beach Boys singing Kokomo. The first time we moved to The Land of Flip Flops, I played this song DAILY in anticipation of escaping the cold and snow of Colorado.

5. Yesterday -- did you run your day or did it run you? How so?

Living the retired life now, Beloved and I pretty much get to run our days as we like them -- and how thankful we are for that.

6. You're on an island holiday. Will I most likely find you parked in a beach chair, shopping in town, on the back of a jet ski, or snorkeling off the back of a catamaran?

While all of those things sound fun (I've never snorkeled or been on a jet ski), I like to sit under the shade of a large beach umbrella and stare at the ocean waves coming in, wave after wave after wave ...

7. What do you think we humans most take for granted?

Hands down, without a doubt, humans most take for granted the mercy and grace of God.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

The elections and inauguration are over but we need to still uphold our government in prayer daily, whether we approve of the personalities or not. God will work through anybody to get His purposes accomplished. 

* * * * * * *

Linking up today with other bloggers at Joyce's blog, From This Side of the Pond.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Getting My House in Order

Gift from The Cook on Fifth Street
[mischievous smile] No, my dear readers, I don't have one foot in the grave, although my title today might lead some to wonder. I've been literally getting my house in order after the chaos of allowing the snow people to take over after Christmas. 

kitchen dishtowel

They are not packed away just yet, but the lit evergreen garlands, pinecones, and that beautiful, nebulous goldie cheesecloth stuff has been taken to the basement. 

I don't remember what the gold stuff is called...
The silver and teal balls remain... they still delight my eyes so!

cameos of some of the players
This year I took individual snapshots of the snow people, much like taking school pictures for the yearbook, because once they start leaving their posts on January 31st, they cannot linger lest they melt! 

snowman quilt, embroidery, and tree with frosty balls hanging by silver ribbons
The snowman quilt came down today because although it's one of my handmade treasures, it doesn't quite hang as nicely as I'd like and by this time in January I have grown weary of its imperfections. 

copycat Currier and Ives dishes
The plate rack with snow scenes will stay up until the end of February or May (which is when the snow really stops around here).

winter candles in miniature mugs
Other knick knacks of winter remain, too, until it's time to bring out February decorations.

table runner with the Charming Barbara soup tureen
In the last couple of years, I've added to my seasonal collections with handmade items. Last year it was the aforementioned snowman quilt. This year it was this table runner that combined the colors of the aqua, teal, and silver Christmas balls hanging from the chandelier with the chocolate-colored table cloth and the beige upholstery of the dining chairs and place mats.

one of our newest residents refuses to leave the table after dinner!

By the way, I've said many times that quilters should always make a label for the back of their projects. This past week in my church quilt group, Bonnie shared how she embroiders her name on the back of projects she will be keeping for herself, when perhaps a detailed label is not really necessary.

hand embroidery following the stitching lines of free-motion quilting
I thought that was a great idea and made that my hand project while watching the presidential inauguration and parade yesterday.

updated breakfast room: then (on the left) and now (on the right)
The snow people theme has not been the only focus of my attention this week. We also decided to switch out the furniture in the kitchen breakfast nook using our black table and chair set that matches the black kitchen cabinetry.

I know you are admiring that white trash bag over one of my sewing machines --
it's a dust cover!!

AND as if that wasn't enough, after much deliberation, we decided to move the guest room furniture back up to the main floor (from the basement) and to combine my sewing room with my study (no small feat, I must admit).

In the closet of my study-sewing room, our builder made this funny little niche that was good for nothing more than storage of long curtain rods. Beloved pulled out his tools and one morning this week while I was away from the house, he built these nifty shelves for me! I use them to store a number of things, most especially boxes of greeting cards for all occasions. I love it!

We have yet to move the bed up from the basement to the 'new' guest room, so I've got no pictures of that to share with you yet.

Other than that, 'my house is in order,' and it feels really good!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hodgepodge for January 18, 2017

a recent purchase from Kirklands
with Christmas gift card
Today is the weekly Hodgepodge and I'm so glad to have our hostess, Joyce, back from her travels so we can get back into the Wednesday routine again. She supplies the questions, bloggers reply, and then we all link up at From This Side of the Pond.

1. ASAP typically stands for 'as soon as possible'. What else could it stand for in your life right now?

Abundant Snow and Pleasure

2. Are you the last person to speak up in a group or the first person to have an idea? Why do you suppose that is? Is it a good thing or no?

My impulse is to be one of the first to speak up in a group, and especially if nobody else is responding. However, as I age, I am realizing the benefits of not sticking my neck out so much.

3. What do you remember best about being 12?

I was in the 6th grade with junior high looming up fast. I won an art contes and was featured in our town's local newspaper, which was a real surprise to me.

4. January 18th is National Winnie the Pooh Day Which character do you relate to the most, and why? If you're stumped, go here for inspiration.

I'm really not in touch with Winnie the Pooh and his friends but I took the quiz and here is who I tested out to be:

5. What's an app you use that helps simplify or make life easier for you in some way?

I use the Maps App on my iPhone to give me audible directions to unfamiliar destinations. What a wonderful invention that is!

6. San Francisco (CA), San Diego (CA), San Juan (PR), San Antonio (TX), Sanibel (FL) ... you have an all expenses paid long weekend to one of these destinations. Which one do you choose and why?

photo credit

I would choose Sanibel Island, Florida. I've heard nothing but good things about it and I have people in the Land of Flip Flops that I would invite to join me.

7. Share with us a song that makes you feel nostalgic? For what?

"Let It Be Me" by the Everly Brothers. When Beloved and I were dating, it was "our song," and still is!!

8. Insert your own random thought here.

At my house are praying for a peaceful inauguration and transition of power this Friday. May God bless America!

"First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers ... be made

... for kings and all who are in authority ..." (I Timothy 2:1,2) 

* * * * *

Monday, January 16, 2017

I Spy ...

Bear awaits the arrival of children for Christmas

Many of the projects I make for others can't be shared on my blog until after they have been received by the recipient, which is why I am only now writing about a quilt made for one of my granddaughters in early December.

hand sewing the binding is one of my favorite parts of the process

For somebody who's made a baby quilt for all of her grandchildren and all of her sister's grandchildren, in addition to more for baby shower gifts (that's at least 25 or more over the last 17 years), I was surprised to realize I had no smallish quilts for my granddaughter's bed when she would be visiting from the Land of Flip Flops. I was like the plumber who fixes everybody's else's leaky faucets but the one at his own house!

I Spy quilt
You are familiar with the game that says, "I spy ..." and the child has to find what you are looking at and point to it.  An I Spy quilt is made up of many picture blocks for that purpose.

my favorite of all the blocks
The design is very simple, with sashing and cornerstones separating the picture blocks. I "stitched in the ditch" around each picture block, and used variegated thread to do free motion stipple quilting inside the picture blocks.

The best part of the entire project was watching
her play with it.
I am a strong advocate for putting a label on the back of all of my quilts. To paraphrase a famous quote by the late Maya Angelou, "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget the quilts you made for them." Here is the label for the I Spy quilt, including a verse that has to do with looking around (I Spy):

I edited out names for reasons of security

This will be an especially productive year in my sewing room because my sister is expecting three new grand babies. I intend to
share with you the quilts for each of them after they have been delivered.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Food for the Soul January 15


My readers may remember that last week, I said my word for the year is "trust." As is often the case, when we make a declaration about anything, our commitment to that statement is tested. Yes. It seems to be a fact of life.

Beloved and I we are in the midst of a frustrating circumstance that is out of the norm for a governing agency but remains unresolved as of now. We are thankful that with all the Internet activity, phone calls and even a personal visit by the two of us to the responsible offices, we have come across a good woman who is serving as our advocate to get this matter resolved. (an angel, perhaps??) But with that said, we still wait for the issue to get untangled and made right.

We trust the Lord, who sees and knows all, to release the answers at just the perfect time. Meanwhile, He desires for us to genuinely rely on Him (trust) that all is as it should be for His glory and our good.

Today's graphic comes from a blogging friend of mine who lives in Maine. She produces the most wonderful illustrations and this one is no exception. With her permission I am including it.

Her words today were also a blessing to me. Perhaps they will lift your spirits, too, as you face whatever life has unfolded to you.

This old postcard of winter birdies inspired me to add the inspirational word TRUST. This image and the word Trust fit perfectly with Matthew 6:26:

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

I can't claim to imagine what goes on in a bird's mind, but I know their creator does. I would think by instinct, they don't worry, but trust in the provisions of our heavenly Father. This verse tells me I don't have to be anxious.

Said the Robin to the Sparrow:
"I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so."

Said the Sparrow to the Robin:
"Friend, I think that it must be,
That they have no Heavenly Father,
Such as cares for you and me."
~ Elizabeth Cheney ~ 

* * * * *
Dear Readers, If you read my post of yesterday, 

then you know I wrote about a wonderful recipe that calls for hemp seeds. 

One of my faithful readers left a comment questioning hemp's relationship to cannabis (i.e. marijuana).  

Lest my readers think I'm into hallucinogenic drugs (I am not) and because marijuana is legal in my home state of Colorado (I did not vote for it), I wanted to share some helpful information on the subject.  

If you Google something like "is hemp marijuana" these are the kinds of answers you will see (I'm listing only 3 but there are more):

Although hemp and marijuana both originate from the cannabis plant, which is one of the oldest domestic crops, "the core agricultural differences between medical cannabis and hemp are largely in their genetic parentage and cultivation environment."

Hemp and marijuana are two subspecies and are two distinct types of cannabis plants (Cannabis indica and Cannibis sativa).

Marijuana plants contain high levels of THC while hemp contains very little of the psychoactive chemical. It is the THC that is credited with causing the marijuana high.

Hemp is used to describe a Cannibis Sativa plant that contains only trace amounts of THC and is typically bread for industrial uses such as oil and topical ointments, as well as for fiber for clothing, construction, and more.

Eating hemp seeds will not make your lab test positive for marijuana.

I am grateful to Linda for bringing up this question -- I should have addressed the issue when I wrote the original post. 

You can find hemp seeds in health food stores,  whole food markets, and Kroger grocery stores.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Delicious Teaser

Butterscotch-Hemp Crispy Rice Treats

In this post I am going to do something terrible -- I will tell you all about a wonderful new recipe I found without sharing the actual recipe (due to copyright laws).

Recently I mentioned here on my blog that one of my desires for 2017 is to be a better cook, more comfortable and accomplished with preparing delicious foods that work well with my intolerances to gluten, dairy and eggs. 

With that in mind, I have already been very proactive in this new year with my attempts to make that happen. I started out with the purchase of a book by Julie Morris titled Superfood Soups.  After studying the recipes and making her very flavorful vegan Chili con Nieces (page 180-181), I was sold on this author and wanted more of her books. 

A couple of days later I came home with two more of her titles, Julie Morris's Superfood Kitchen, and Superfood Snacks (with the help of a gift card from Barnes and Noble). She also has a book on Juices and another on Smoothies. I spent nearly two hours in the bookstore flipping through all of these books, trying to narrow down my purchases to the ones I thought I would use the most. (Superfood Kitchen had some overlap to the book on smoothies)

Ms. Morris is an accomplished chef who's focus is "superfoods" -- ingredients that are heavy on nutrition and lacking gluten, dairy, and eggs.  Admittedly, some of the requirements are things I've never heard of before but many of them I am finding pretty easily in my local health food store/whole food markets. She also says they can be ordered on the Internet. I don't mind. At this stage of my life I have the time to enjoy such a challenge. It's like a new hobby!

This evening I made her version of the Rice Krispie Treats recipe we have all seen on cereal boxes. When I fed one to Beloved and asked what he thought, his exact words were, "There's nothing about this not to like." And then he asked for another!

drizzling on the non-dairy dark chocolate
Whereas the original recipe has butter and marshmallows, this revised version has maca powder, ground cinnamon, hemp seeds, almond butter, pure maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and non-dairy chocolate (the latter is optional but I included it).

It was easy to prepare -- easier even than the original recipe that gets hard to stir with the marshmallows as the mixture cools. 

I look forward to sharing more of my cooking adventures with you from Ms. Morris' recipes.  This book, Superfood Snacks, has chapters on "spoonables," crackers and crisps, spreads and dips, energy bars and bites, candies and chocolates, cookies and pastries, frozen treats and kid snacks.

If you are looking for some adventuresome, nutrient-dense cooking ideas, I recommend these books by Julie Morris, perhaps starting with this one:


Tuesday, January 10, 2017


It is amazing and wonderful to see the great lengths the Lord will exercise for light to reach into the dark places of our lives.

That was illustrated to me this morning as the sun in the east hit our neighbor's house windows to the west of us. The light then bounced off their windows to shine into my dining room windows and all across to the east side of my house, hitting a quilted wallhanging in my study. It was as though the sunshine was boomeranging (is that even a word??) back and forth.  It was beautiful. If it had been a cloudy morning, my study would have been very dark.  

This illustrates to me how the Lord wants us to be aware of His goodness, the extent to which He brings illumination to our problems and discouragements. Anyway, that was the cheerful way this day began for me. 

Fun stuff: Today is the wedding anniversary for Sister and Former Farmer. I was her Matron of Honor.  Wow - a lot of water has gone under the bridge since that most happy day. The Lord gave them four children and six grandchildren, with three more expected this year!!!

More fun stuff: This past weekend I got to shop with gift cards from Christmas. I found these elf legs at Kirklands at 75 percent off. Such whimsey!

looks like the elf made a dive into my flower arrangement 
When I brought the elf parts home, all of our Christmas decorations had already been packed away. I left these out for the remainder of the weekend and then tucked them in with the Christmas tree for next year.

Cheesecake Factory's Santa Fe Salad

Yesterday Beloved and I had lunch at The Cheesecake Factory, using one of his gift cards. Sadly, I can't eat real cheesecake anymore due to my food allergies/intolerances, so I made my salad last through Beloved's entree and dessert. And that was okay because it was wonderful!!!!

Cheesecake Factory's Peanut Buttercup Ripple Cheesecake
I did feast my eyes on his dessert ...

one of the windows at Anthropology
After that fine feast, we waddled through both floors of the mall in an attempt to work off some of the recently-acquired calories. The window displays at Anthropology are always very enjoyable eye candy for me. 

a table runner in progress
Today's activities weren't as glamorous as yesterday... a trip to UPS to send my dear Vitamix blender to the factory for some warranty work, washing our bedspread at the local laundromat where they have BIG machines, and then some sewing in the afternoon.  

For dinner, I made the most wonderful chili from a new vegan cookbook, Superfood Soups by Julie Morris. It was delightful stirring the thick bean mixture in my black cast iron Dutch oven over the gas flame -- such a homey feeling on a winter's evening. The new recipe was fragrant, hearty,  and delicious.

In so many ways, light prevails in this cold season of winter. Thank You, Heavenly Father!

* * * * *

As you may have guessed by now, Joyce is taking this week off from the Hodgepodge.  We expect to have a new slate of questions next week.  

So long for now!