Friday, June 28, 2013


Yesterday was a very "fruitful" day! First, my daughter and I went strawberry picking, which yielded 8 pounds of strawberries for us. We went strawberry picking about a week and a half ago, and I froze them plain, as well as 4 pints in simple syrup. We were going through them pretty fast (for smoothies), so I thought we should take advantage of them before the end of strawberry season.

Then in the afternoon a friend put out the word that her cherry tree had a broken branch, did anyone want to come pick sour cherries? So we headed out to pick cherries! We got almost 5 pounds, and this is the result:

Well, at least the crack in the board is in focus (!).
It's a stormy afternoon, hard for taking pictures!
It took a lot of work to pit all those cherries (even with a pitter), but the jam is so amazingly good! I'm thinking about going back early next week as I was invited to, and getting enough for another pie and a few more jars of jam.

I still have strawberries in my fridge to put up. I'm just going to freeze them, so that isn't too much work! I just need to do it!

Thursday, June 27, 2013


I snapped a few pictures of my flowers in the front beds. The Asiatic lilies are in bloom!

View from my porch.

I really enjoy having mostly perennials in the front flower bed. It looks a lot different from when we first moved in (eight years this July!).

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

~Canning Notes: Pickled Asparagus~

Last year while I was looking for recipes for pickles, it came to me that "pickles" does not universally mean pickled cucumbers. One can pickle most anything one desires, including pig's feet (though I certainly do not desire to pickle pig's feet! and I actually did not come across such a recipe).

Last week I purchased asparagus from a local farm and set about pickling it, using Marissa's recipe found here (I left out the cayenne).

I really wish I had 24-oz. jars, but I didn't want to run to the store and purchase jars for something I don't know if I'll want to make again. So this year I made do, and if it turns out that we love pickled asparagus, I might buy some jars so that I can get longer pickled asparagus.

The season's next locally-offered produce will be cherries! I'm looking forward to putting up some cherry preserves.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


So, I looked, and the last time I officially plugged my Swagbucks referral link was December, 2011. So I don't feel bad doing a little plug for my referral link. ;-)

First of all, I have to say, I love Swagbucks. If I didn't get any referral links, I would still love it! A free way to earn a bit of extra money? Sign me up! (Oh wait, I already did sign up...I crack me up sometimes. LOL)

I have always used the Swagbucks I earn to buy $5 Amazon gift cards. Total earned to date? $485. Nearly $500 that I have had to spend as I want! That's a lot of extra money, if you ask me! I saved up my gift cards for about a year and purchased a KitchenAid mixer. Late last spring, I bought a sand and water table for my daughter, so she'd have something to play with in the back yard. I had been saving for an iPod Touch, but I ended up using them that way and I'm glad I did. She had a lot of fun playing with the table, and has continued to play with it this summer, so it was a good buy, even if it delayed my iPod Touch purchase! (Oh, the sacrifices parents make... ;-) )

Now I'm saving up for either an iPod Touch or a Kindle Fire HD. I'm kind of waffling back and forth on which I want! (Any input?) I am pretty close to my goal!

If you don't have a Swagbucks account, why not give it a try? I betcha you'll get hooked just like me! For the first 1,000 Swagbucks you earn, I will earn 1,000 as well. And you can get people to sign up under you immediately, so you can start earning through referral links right away also.

Monday, June 24, 2013

~"Cream of" Soups~

For quite some time now I've not purchased "cream of" soups, because some of the ingredients are ones I prefer not to use in my kitchen. I've tried several recipes for cream of mushroom soup made from scratch, but those fell lacking. So I just stopped making recipes - some of my favorite recipes - that had "cream of" soups in them.

Then last Easter, I was looking in the soup aisle for an alternative, so I could make my grandma's potato dish for our dinner. I came across a box of soup made by Pacific Organic. I bought it fit the bill!

So now that I have a "cream of" soup that I'm happy using, some of my favorite recipes have made their way into my menu rotation again! That makes me happy, and Kevin too - because most of the recipes I hadn't been making were actually favorites of his.

I found this soup at my local Meijer, though I suppose it would be easier to find at a health food store. It never occurred to me to look at my health food store to see what options I might have. But I don't make it to my health food store very often, so I'm glad that Meijer is carrying these soups now!

Simple ingredient list I don't feel bad cooking with!

Friday, June 21, 2013

~(Finally) Finished Sleeping Monkeys~

I finished my Sleeping Monkeys (Ravelry link) a few weeks ago, and then they sat in my knitting bag. I was glad to get them finished but since it hasn't been cold I haven't really needed wool socks. But goodness! I should at least photograph them!

I loved knitting these. The yarn was nice to work with and the pattern with the eliminated purling worked up so quickly.

It's nice to have a new pair of socks to look forward to wearing this fall!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

~Something to Think About~

Someone shared the following with me, and it has been incredibly helpful to me:

I do the things I do, and
I feel the things I feel, because
I think the things I think.

To change the way you feel, start with your thoughts. Stop yourself in your tracks when thinking wrong thoughts (of bitterness, anger, whatever your wrong thoughts might be). Confess them to the Lord.

Changing your thoughts will change your actions.

In time, changing your thoughts, along with changing your actions, will change your feelings. It won't be instantaneous, but in time, your feelings will come along!

When I am having trouble with my feelings, I try to remember this and go back to what I am thinking about. Then I can change my thoughts, which changes my actions, which eventually changes my feelings.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

~Make Your Own Taco Seasoning~

Several years ago, I looked online and found a recipe for taco seasoning. I just wrote it down on a scrap of paper, so I'm not sure what site I got the recipe from.

Taco Seasoning
1 T. chili powder
2 t. onion powder
1 t. cumin
1 t. paprika
1 t. oregano
1 t. sugar
1/2 t. salt

For one pound of meat, combine these seasonings. Cook your ground beef, drain the fat, and then add the seasonings, cooking a little longer to fully season the beef. You may need to add a little water.

If you want to have this as a staple in your cabinet, rather than mixing every time, you'll want to make a bigger batch. For mine, I am using a half-pint jar. When I mixed it up this time, I didn't have the onion powder so I still need to add that. So this size container is just a little too small for this mix:

6 T. chili powder
4 T. onion powder
2 T. cumin
2 T. paprika
2 T. oregano
2 T. sugar
1 T. salt

Mix thoroughly. Use 3 T. per pound of meat, or whenever a recipe calls for one taco seasoning packet.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

~Oatmeal for...lunch~

I belong to a buying club, which is very handy for getting a good price on whole foods. My last order, though, I made a mistake. It was late (I had gotten out of bed to get my order emailed by the deadline), and I grabbed an order number, an item description, and a price, all from three different items. You have to be really talented to make that kind of mistake! ;-) Instead of getting 25 pounds of regular rolled oats, I got 25 pounds of quick oats. What to do with so many oats? I rarely buy quick oats, so I was a little flummoxed by having so many at hand!

Thankfully I found some friends who desired quick oats, and I was only left with about 9 pounds. Much better! I can do this. ;-) I mixed up a quadruple batch of chocolate oatmeal to have on hand for my daughter, and I've used it several times for baking.

And I've had it twice for lunch. Hey, it works in a pinch! And I do have a lot of oatmeal on hand! :-)

Monday, June 17, 2013

~Finished Doll Afghan~

On Saturday I finished my daughter's doll afghan:

I had just enough yarn to make it a decent size. The last row of purple got cut short, can you see where I switched over to pink?

With her doll...why are dolls always unclothed?

I pulled up my doll afghan from the basement. I think I was about five when someone in my church made this for me. Maybe my mom would remember who gave it to me. I don't remember the lady's name, but it was a well-loved doll afghan!

And the doll blanket that my great-grandma made for me:

Saturday, June 15, 2013

~Does God Care? (It's Only a Quarter)~

I wrote this post a few months ago, and then never hit "publish". In the hopes that it will be an encouragement to someone, I'm posting it today. Blessings!

Recently I went to Aldi for a quick shopping trip. When I pulled into the parking lot, I looked through my purse for a quarter, only to discover that I didn't have any quarters with me. (You need a quarter in order to get a cart, which is returned when you put your cart back.) I was in a hurry and cross at having the extra step of getting change inside. The thought crossed my mind that I could pray for a quarter to be in one of the carts, but just as quickly I dismissed that idea, thinking that it's "just a doesn't really matter to God."

When I got to the carts, I did scan for quarters but there were none. So I went inside and got my change. As I was heading back outside, I saw a lady fiddling with one of the carts. She left her quarter. Since I already had my quarter from the change I'd gotten, I left it for the next person.

Through that little quarter, I heard God's voice loud and clear: I care about a quarter. I care about your little needs too.

Friday, June 14, 2013


I've never been very good at keeping a journal. When I was growing up, I'd get the fantastic idea to start a journal, and then I'd journal for two or three days in a row. Several months later, I'd come back to my journal, rip the pages out that I'd journaled, and then start over again. Needless to say I don't have any journals from my teen years.

This past winter I started journaling with some pages I found online. I really enjoyed the time journaling and since it was something I printed out I didn't feel the need to do it every single day.

Since I enjoyed it so much, I started thinking about the One Line a Day journal. Since it is not only a dated journal, but a 5-year dated journal, I wondered if I would be able to keep up with it! After all, I couldn't exactly tear pages out of it! So at the beginning of this year I started a file on my computer and would type up a line for each day. Around April I decided I truly wanted a 5-year journal, so I got one (and filled in all the dates from my computer file)!

So far, so good! I keep it out on the counter, and fill it in at the end of the day. Sometimes I'll not record for a few days, but it's always pretty easy to go back and write a sentence or two. I'm looking forward to using this over the next four and a half years!

Interested in getting one for yourself? I bought mine with a gift card at Target, and they are available at most bookstores. Amazon also sells them here (affiliate link).

Thursday, June 13, 2013

~Race to the Finish~

When you aren't sure if you have enough of something, say bobbin thread, do you work faster? I always do! As if sewing faster is going to make the thread last longer?

I am going through my yarn bin trying to clear out some of the yarn, and I decided to make my daughter a doll blanket. Not that her dolls need another blanket, but I thought I should have enough yarn. Plus, someone crocheted me a doll blanket when I was little, and I always liked it. :)

I'm crocheting as fast as I can to find out if I'll have enough!