Monday, October 14, 2013

Squirreling things away for winter

It's that time of year!  Time to get that pantry stocked up and in order.

Is it a fun task?  Well, it depends on how you look at it. 

While I don't particularly like organizing and cleaning, I do like thinking about all the yummy treats and fun things I'll be baking in the next few months. 

I like to keep a basic stock of things on hand for the chilly and cold autumn and winter months.  I don't keep as much of this around during the summer, because it's too warm to want to use the oven very much. 

Take a look in your cupboards and clean out the foods that are either expired (toss those) or things that you probably won't eat but still have a good date (give to family or a food bank). 

Each family should keep things on hand that they find useful and based on meals that they like to eat.

Here is a partial list of canned/dry items that I like to keep around this time of the year:

"Cream of" soups (I try to keep 2 each of mushroom, chicken, celery, and 1 broccoli in the house)
Evaporated Milk
Condensed Milk
Tomato Soup
Dry Onion Soup Mix
Green beans
Black Olives
Spaghetti Sauce
Crushed tomatoes
Diced Tomatoes
Tomato Paste
Dried Spaghetti
Rice/Noodle mixes
Mashed potato mix

And then:
Vegetable Oil
Olive Oil
Baking Soda
Brown Sugar
Powdered Sugar
Chocolate Chips

Again, that is just a partial list.  I think it's nice to keep it in the house during the colder months.  If the roads are bad, I don't like going to the grocery store if  I don't have to.

Another thing that I like to do this time of the year is get rid of the regular sheets and dig out the comfy-cozy flannel sheets!

I learned on a website a few years ago that you can easily fold all your sheets and put them into a pillow case for storage.  It is so much easier to pull a pillowcase off the shelf than it was to try and pull out everything individually.  We have a queen sized mattress and the sheets and pillow cases really do fold up small enough to tuck them right inside.  Give it a try!

I really wanted a nice soft cotton blanket to add a layer of warmth to the bed this year.  Our blankets are an older felt-style and although they are okay, I love how much warmth those cotton blankets hold in.  I went to Walmart and wasn't able to find anything but fleece there.  At Kmart, however, I found exactly what I was looking for.  It's not time for the heavy quilt my mom made us yet, but it does get chilly some nights and I love the cozy warmth that comes from a combination of flannel sheets and soft cotton blankets.  :)  

I think that's about all for now, friends. 

  Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Psalms 37:11

Monday, October 7, 2013

Autumn tidings of cheer

Hello and a happy day to you, reader!

I hope you are enjoying the autumn season so far.

Fall leaves along Route 6, McKean County, PA

Up until today, we've recently been having some very summer-like weather.  For the past week and a half it has been in the low 80's and rather humid.  

I love fall and I've been kind disappointed with the reluctance of summer to give up its hold on our area.  A cold front blew through today with some much needed rain, and we're going to be in the mid 60's for the rest of the week.  Woohoo! 

I've been enjoying Orange and Spice tea (Bigelow brand) lately, just because it's the right time of the year to start enjoying it.  I haven't always been a tea drinker, but I do enjoy many of the herbal varieties.  I love iced tea, as well, but I consider that more of a spring/summer beverage, so come fall/winter, I start breaking out the tea. 

We went on a vacation last week and enjoyed our time in Western Pennsylvania.  I didn't take a ton of photos, but here are a few that we did take.  

Chapman State Park was our first stop.  While there, we came across (and hiked) a rail trail.

I wish we could have watched the old puffing, chuffing locomotives roll through the area!

The mist of the early morning greeted us on our hike! 

Sadly, when these were railroads, it meant that the timber from the land was taken- typically stripped till there were no trees left at all.  Thankfully, responsible forestry has been integrated so that logging no longer entails stripping the land down to nothing.  

We stayed in a cute little camping cottage.  
Camping Cottage 3
 Chapman State Park had some really nice hikes.  We went on a few, but I wished we could have gone on more.  The scenery was beautiful.  
Nature Trail

A few days later, we took the boat out to Lake Erie and went fishing on Presque Isle bay.  

On our way out, we saw these turtles hanging out on a log!   

 Map turtles

We putted out into Misery Bay where we saw the Perry Monument

 There's a boat tour company that is right in Misery Bay, too.  You can pay to take a ride on the Lady Kate and see scenic Lake Erie and learn about the history of the area.  Since we were here in mid-September, the tours were done for the year.  

The Lady Kate

Scott heard that the steel head were running up from the lake.  I believe they are a cross between a trout and a salmon.  They stay in Lake Erie until fall, and then migrate up into the tributary steams and spawn in the springtime.  These fish are a huge draw to the area.  In the late fall and winter, you'll see men lined up elbow to elbow trying to take one of these trophies home.  

Steel Head Trout in Walnut Creek
 Sometimes I feel like all we ever do on our vacations is fish, but then I remember how much my hubby loves it.  It really relaxes him and puts him in a great mood- whether he catches fish or not.  (And he usually does catch fish.) 

We were at Pymatuning later on that night and I captured this photo that I really liked. 

 It was dark enough that my camera couldn't quite capture anything but the outline of these plants.  I thought it was kind of pretty. 

We took a tour of Ohio Amish country and stopped at Heini's Cheese Chalet.  That place was huge.  They had around 50 different kinds of cheese that you could sample and purchase.  It was an interesting place, to say the least.  
 Heini's Cheese Chalet

We drove past this display, which I thought was really amazing!  
Someone had taken the time to fill the entire bed of this pick up truck with pumpkins and gourds!  I was on the wrong side of the bus to get a good picture- this is the best out of the 3 that I took, and it's still a little blurry, but you can kind of get the idea.  

After a long day of shopping and sampling, we stopped at Der Dutchman for supper.  No joke, I ate the best chicken I've ever had in my life there.  It was superb.  

It was a very fun (and long) day.  We both had a wonderful time.  

We drove home after staying at my parent's house for a few days, and then a couple days at the camp.  
 After a quick stop at the Kinzua Dam to use the facilities and check out the visitor center, we were on our way home.  
Kinzua Dam

We were treated to beautiful (early) leaf foliage while driving across Route 6.  

That was our vacation.  It wasn't a thrill a minute, but it was relaxing and fun!  :)  

Upon coming home, I've finally cleaned and decorated the place for autumn.  We bought a couple beautiful mums and some festive pumpkins and gourds to set on the front porch.  I'll have to post a picture of those some other day, since it is pitch dark outside right now.  

I bought a kit earlier this year to make 2 gallons of root beer.  I finally made it tonight.  It needs to ferment for a few days and then we can drink it!  I'm excited to see how it turned out.  Here's a picture of the finished bottles!
I'll be sure and let you know how it turned out.  :) 

I think that's about all for tonight, folks.  I pray that you have a great week and are enjoying the weather wherever you are.  Keep the home fires burning!  

Blessing to you my friend,


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Summer photos

Hello reader!

In my last post, I mentioned a few of the things we did this summer.  I thought maybe you'd like to see a few photographs of our adventures!

First up, our trip to Philadelphia!

Here is a picture of the Christ Church.  This place of worship hasn't missed a Sunday service since 1695, when it was founded! 

 Next up, we visited the famed Liberty Bell.  Let freedom ring! 

Here is a shot of the mall area, from the Constitution center.  Independence Hall looks sort of dinky compared to the buildings that now surround it!   
 Here is a picture inside Independence Hall.  In this very room, the Constitution was written and signed. 
 The Bourse Building- we ate lunch here.  There are many neat shops and eateries inside this beautiful old building. (It's the brown one in the middle!)

Here we are in the Constitution center 

Just across the street is the United States mint.  If you have coins in your pocket at this moment, chances are some of them were minted in this very building. 

A few weeks after we visited historic Philadelphia, we were on our way to Virginia to visit with Scott's cousins!

Our first stop was at Colonial Williamsburg.  We fearlessly hoofed through the streets in the hot and muggy 98 degree weather!

Here is a photo of the Governer's Mansion:

Here is a shot looking down the main street.  It was so quaint and lovely.  I'd be happy to go back, although I would prefer the weather be a tad cooler!  

We stopped at beautiful Yorktown Beach and had our picture taken here.  You can see the boat "The Alliance" in the background.  You can pay a fee and take a trip on this old fashioned sailing ship.  

The next day, we stopped and took a tour of the Yorktown Battlefield.  Here is a photograph of the Victory Monument.  It is HUGE!  It's also on a beautiful spot- you can see the York river just on the other side of those trees. 

We took a side trip to Virginia Beach on our last evening there. 

I thought this photo of the pier in the fading daylight was beautiful.  It was nice to dip our toes in the ocean 
before we returned home!

After our trip to Virginia, we went out to my parents to celebrate!  My brother Mike, and his fiancee, Barb, were recently married!  They had a reception at my parent's home.  

My Aunt Kathy surprised me with these:
It's an old set of Fire King dishes!  We had these in our family camp when I was growing up and we always called them "The camp-y dishes" as kids.  I love these bowls and mugs and was thrilled that she found them for me.  What a wonderful surprise!  :)


Back to the festivities! 

My niece Kendall was all tired out from drinking a delicious bottle, so I watched her and helped my mom inside while everyone was busy setting up the tables and chairs outdoors.  Isn't she a cutie pie? 

Here are the Mr. and Mrs.!  Congratulations, Mike and Barb!  

When we have parties, my dad typically cooks chickens on a spit- this time was no exception.  Don't they look delicious?  This is just before they were taken off and chopped up.  Yum yum! 

After the reception, we spent the night at my parent's home and caught up with my family.  We had a great time hanging out and getting to see Kendall was a fun bonus, too!

The weekend after that, my mother-in-law came out to stay with us for a few days and visit.  Here we all are at R B Winter State park.  My 2 year old niece, Abigail, is having a fun time playing in the chilly waters of Halfway dam.  I tried taking a few pictures of her, but she is always on the go and wasn't really in the mood for pictures!  lol  

Scott and Maggie (his mom) at the overlook in RB Winter State Park.  

Whew!  We've been busy this summer- running here and there.  When we finally had a weekend where we didn't need to do anything special, we decided we wanted to go to Briar Creek park and grill up some burgers.

Here is Scott manning the grill.  (This is just after we lit the charcoal, he doesn't really burn our food!  lol!) 

After eating, we took a walk around the park and posed for a picture. 

My husband managed to paint our back back to a nice glossy red this past month.  Doesn't it look spiffy?  He got some retro "Starcraft" stickers to put on the side of it, which made him a super happy fella.  I doubt you can see them in this photo, but they have the arrow running behind "Starcraft".  I would guess it was their logo in the 60's or early 70's.  

Here is the boat and truck right before launching at Rickett's Glenn State Park. 
It was the best fishing we've ever had at Lake Jean!  (Inside Rickett's Glenn SP).  

Here is Scott with a really nice perch. 

This was perch number two- he was a tad smaller than perch number 1, but we measured him anyway.

He also caught two chain pickerel while we were out there.  Unfortunately, due to the sunny weather and the bimini top on the boat, most of the pictures came out kind of like this one- 
rather shadow-y.  

All fishies were safely released back into the water.  They took off in a big hurry!  

So, there you have it, reader.  Just a glimpse into what I've been up to since June.  

As you can see, we weren't spending a lot of time at home- we were out running around like nobody's business!  

I hope that you liked my little photo tour.  I had a fun time putting it together, although it took a long, long, long time for my internet connection to upload all these photos.  Slow and steady wins the race!  lol 

Have a wonderful day and thank you so much for stopping by.  

Feel free to comment or ask any questions.  

May God bless you!  :) 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Country apple blessings

Hello again,

I'm so sorry that I've not posted anything for quite some time.  This summer has gotten away from me.

I'm ashamed to admit that most of July was spent in worry/anxiety.  I got notice for jury duty up in Scranton.  I wouldn't mind serving jury duty, except that I would have to drive into Scranton by myself.  I feel as though I must have mentioned it before, but driving sort of terrifies me.  If I never had to drive a car again, I would be okay with that.  At any rate, I mostly laid low...well, I felt as though I did, although we had tons going on! 

In fact, this has been one of the busiest summers I remember. 
My parents came out to visit 4th of July weekend, and my mother in law was in that weekend, too.  Two weeks later, we were off to visit my hubby's cousins in Virginia Beach.  Whew!  That place is crowded!  (We had a great time, though!!)  We had a week or two off again before more visitors came our way, my company picnic, my brother and new sister-in-law's wedding reception, and plenty of picnics, family get togethers, and lots of warm weather in between! 

Whew!  It's nice to have had two weekends in a row where we didn't have any plans.  In two weeks, we will be leaving to go on our vacation- which is really just a trip home to my mom and dad's house.  We'll be stopping at Chapman State Park first.  We'll stay two nights there in a camping cottage and hopefully catch up with a friend we haven't seen for a couple years. 

Next, we're heading down my parent's home, where we are planning on visiting with my family, and as a special treat, we booked a 1 day Anderson Bus trip.  It's called "Brown Bag Amish tour" and we'll be touring all sorts of Amish homes and businesses in Holmes County, Ohio.  At each stop, we get another free goodie for our brown bags!  Doesn't that sound like fun?  I know I am looking forward to it.  In addition to this, we're dragging the boat behind us and I'm sure my husband will be thrilled to fish Pymatuning, Conneaut Lake, and Presque Isle. 

After that, we're traveling to Tionesta, where we'll be meeting up with my Mother-in-law and we'll stay at my family's camp to celebrate her birthday.  I hope that we'll have a fun time and I know we're both looking forward to the trip! 

Anyway, that's what I've been up to lately!

So, here's the focus of my blog post today...

Do you have a park nearby?  Have you looked around at all?  Some of the parks in our area are loaded with apple trees that produce quite nice fruit.  They are tall and it's not like you can just climb up and pick the apples, but I do walk around and pick up the "drops" to make applesauce with. 

I'm sure not every place is the same, but our park has almost 12 old apple trees.  Some produce a lot of fruit and some produce...well, not very much.  At any rate, it's been a blessing to have a little early applesauce.

I would recommend checking with the park before you just go ahead and start picking apples in case they use them for some sort of demonstration (cider pressing, etc) but ours told us it was okay to just go ahead and pick up whatever we wanted. 

This was a wonderful find and a great free resource. 

I hope that you'll be able to find something similar where you live.

Have a wonderful day and may God Bless you, reader!  :)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Howdy reader! 

I hope that you're enjoying a lovely day.  It's a bit rainy here in Pennsylvania at the moment, but by the weekend, things are supposed to be sunny and nice.  Woohoo! 

We have a trip to Philadelphia this weekend, which both of us are looking forward to.  I will be sure to post some pictures after we get back.  Neither of us is really comfortable driving in the city, so we've opted to take a tour bus trip.  All the fun of the city without putting the miles on your car, getting lost, or (yikes) getting into a bad neighborhood by accident. 

This past weekend, we stayed at hubby's family cabin.  It is two miles off the main road, up a windy and steep dirt lane.  The property borders with a State Game Lands, so it's very quiet.

These past few weeks have been tough, with Beverly passing away, traveling, and trying to keep caught up with everything.  We all needed a bit of time to rest and recharge.  The cabin is a perfect place to do just that.

Scott and Wayne (my father-in-law) fished in the pond.  Actually, they are trying to catch as many fish as they can, because my hubby's great uncle, who owns the place, is draining the pond and is going to dig it out.  In the meantime, they've dug another smaller pond, right behind the old one.  Eventually, they will connect the two, but right now they're trying to get all the fish they can out of the big pond and into the small one! 

As you can see in the photo above, it's pretty filled in and the lily pads and cattails have kind of gone haywire!  These will all be dug out and the area with the cattails will actually be turned into a beach area so we can all swim in the pond again. 

Here are a few of the critters we spotted-

This lovely butterfly was outside of the cabin Saturday morning.  There were a whole bunch of them, but this one's picture seemed to come out the nicest.

And this cute little 5-lined skink.  He was pretty small.  This picture makes him look a lot bigger than he really was! 

We had to get a family shot before we left.  Here we are, refreshed and ready to head back to civilization.  (Okay, none of us really wanted to leave, but being responsible adults, we realized we had to come home. lol) 

Before we left, I made a few baked goods to take along with us.  My favorite was strawberry coffee cake.  It was delicious and very easy to make- it took hardly any time at all to mix it up and have it popped into the oven to bake.  Here is the recipe:

Strawberry Coffeecake

½ cup milk 
1½ cups sliced fresh strawberries
½ cup sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons  butter, softened
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
½ teaspoon salt 
Crumble Topping:
 ¼ cup cold butter
1 cup all-purpose flour 
½ cup sugar 
In a mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; stir to mix. In another bowl, add the egg, milk, and butter; stir; add to dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Pour mixture into a greased 8-inch square baking dish.Place strawberries evenly over the top of batter.With a pastry blender, cut in the butter until consistency of coarse crumbs.Sprinkle mixture evenly over the strawberries.Bake at 375° for 30-35 minutes or until wooden pick comes out clean.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Take your time!

Last night, I was hurriedly cleaning the bathroom, when I suddenly stopped.  Why was I in such a hurry? 

Well, I was in a hurry, because, naturally, after working an 8 hour day, I wasn't really thrilled about cleaning the I had laundry in the dryer, and needed to get supper started. 

I decided to stop hurriedly scrubbing and stop and think things through.  When I slowed down, I found I was less frustrated and that cleaning, while not enjoyable, certainly became less bothersome. 

Work your way down.  I started by dusting the cobwebs around the tops of the walls/ceiling area. (I wonder how long it has been since I've cleaned up there???)

Next I dusted the light fixtures, took all the stuff off the stand that sets around and above the commode, dusted all the shelves, dusted and cleaned the window and window sill, then work my way down to the toilet, cleaned the sink, and finally swept and mopped the floor.  I will be tackling the tub tonight. 

I found that once I decided I was going to clean in a certain manner, things went a lot better for me.  I wasn't so hurried and unhappy. 

When you clean your house, you are helping your family.  Yay!  :)

I threw together a stir fry for supper last night, which was both filling and light on fat and calories.  It's a good time of the year to start thinking about setting aside recipe ideas for warmer weather.

Those of you with central air probably don't like having your cooling unit running full-out in the summertime, and turning on the oven certainly can add to the burden of the unit. For others, like me, who don't have air conditioning (well, we have a window unit in the bedroom, but that won't help the downstairs at all), you know how miserable it is to come home to an 85 degree house and then have to turn on the oven.  Phew!

At any rate, stove top cooking seems to keep the kitchen cooler, and still produce an edible meal.  I know a lot of people enjoy grilling.  I like to eat grilled food, but I've never been comfortable operating a grill alone.  Call me a wuss.  Go ahead, I know you want to.  lol  At any rate, when it is 90 degrees outside, standing in front of a flaming BBQ is also not my idea of a fun time.  Hubby does grill occasionally on the weekends, but I'm afraid our gas grill is more a lawn ornament than anything.

Anyway I digress...

The other day, I googled warm weather recipes, hoping to find a few new ones to add to the old file.  What I found were oddities like BBQ Miso Eggplant or Squash Souffle.  Um...that might suit some people just fine, but I prefer more...human style food.
Here are a few of my favorite warm weather meals:
Tacos/Taco Salad
Pulled Pork Sandwiches (Cook meat all day in crockpot, come home, shred, add BBQ sauce, eat!)
BBQ Chicken in crockpot
Chicken Salad sandwiches
Green Salad with cubed chicken, strawberries, and feta. (Throw in a handful of sliced almonds if you have them)
Greek salad (diced tomatoes, green pepper, cucumber chunks, feta, and olives tossed with italian dressing)
Baked potato bar (microwave taters till done, then top with all kinds of fun stuff)

So, anyway, those are just a few ideas.  We like eating most all of them and they don't heat up the kitchen much. 

I wanted to leave you with this lovely sunset over Briar Creek Lake.  Hubby has had off the past couple days for bereavement and we've been going there around 7:30 or so to get some exercise in.  The view was stunning on Tuesday night. 

May God bless you, dear reader.  I pray that you are healthy, happy, and having a great day.  :)


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A tribute to Grandma

I wanted to blog a little bit today about my husband's grandmother, Beverly.

She passed away last Tuesday, May 28 from cancer.  She was 83 years old. 

We celebrated her life yesterday at a beautiful and moving funeral at Calvary Baptist Church, where she had been a member for 50 years. 

I didn't know Grandma well until I married Scott, which was in 2004.  She has instilled a few lasting impressions- I'd like to share a few of those now.

Sunday Dinner- This is my favorite memory of Grandma.  Every Sunday, she would have the entire family (that includes 8+ family members when I joined the family) over at 12:30 for dinner.  She cooked everything from scratch and the menu varied.  Some personal favorites were: Chicken and Waffles (it's a Pennsylvania Dutch dish- think chicken and biscuits, but fresh, crispy homemade waffles instead of biscuits), Pork and Sauerkraut, Hamburg BBQ (that's East-ylvanian for Sloppy Joes from scratch), Chicken and Rice Casserole, and so many others. 

The meal was prepared with care and served piping hot to anyone who came for dinner.  We had a family blessing before eating and everyone truly enjoyed spending time together at Grandma's house Sunday afternoons.

I always helped wash dishes afterward- after all, if someone is kind enough to cook a huge homemade meal for me, the least I can do it help by cleaning up!!  

Sour Cherries- The first year Scott and I moved to Bloomsburg, I remember going to an orchard to pick sour cherries on July 4th.  We spent the day in the sunshine, filling our pails with the red, tangy cherries.  Afterward, we went home and helped grandma take the stones out.  She rewarded us with a big bag of cherries, which I promptly turned into cherry pudding!  (I will definitely have to share that recipe, because it is delicious.) 

Above all, Beverly was involved and active in her church.  She was a true prayer warrior and prayer daily and constantly.  She was loved by her family and friends.  She will be missed very much. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Running here, there, and everywhere!

Good morning, everyone!  (Or afternoon or evening, depending when you are visiting!)

First of all, a bread update for everyone.  This week's loaf is he best yet.  It rose wayyy up and filled the whole pan and is delicious!  Huzzah!  Now I need to work on texture.  It's not quite as deliciously chewy as I would like.  Perhaps I'm not doing something quite right, or perhaps this recipe simply does not make chewy bread . I thought the problem might be that I didn't knead it long enough, so I set a timer for 10 minutes.  After about 5 I was thinking "Oh!  This is never going to end!"  lol  I managed to knead the dough for about 8 minutes and figured that my arms falling off would be a worse consequence than having not-quite-as-chewy-as-I'd-like bread.  It makes excellent toast.


In addition to bread making, we've had quite a lot going on.

We went camping this past weekend, along with my in-laws.  My husband's twin brother, wife, and daughter came on Saturday afternoon and stayed Saturday night.  The weather was less than perfect, but we managed to have a good time, anyway.

We arrived Friday afternoon around 4:00 and quickly set up camp, as it appeared that it might start raining at any time.  Sure enough, 15 minutes after we had the tent up, along came the rain!  It continued to rain all night.

When we woke up on Saturday, we noticed the rain seemed to have slowed down a bit.  Hubby and I took a relaxing walk around the lake (there is a lovely paved path that encircles the lake) and came back to see if anyone else had woken up.  Nope!  We decided to go back in the tent and rest awhile longer since neither of us had slept very well and it was early. (I think we got back to the site around 6:45 am) We awoke about an hour later, and once again it was raining pretty hard.

 It rained until about 2:30 and then started to get nice.  Hurray! 

       Check out the blue sky view from the tent! 

The rest of Saturday, we went on a short hike, enjoyed spending time with our niece, Abigail, and had a campfire/weenie roast.  

Sunday dawned warm and sunny...

                            Good morning! 

  We started tearing down camp and in between eating meals and taking breaks/chatting with one another, we made it out of the campgrounds right at 3:00.  The nice think about camping in a PA State Park is that they offer such a late checkout.  You can stay and enjoy lunch on your last day and still have plenty of time to tear down and pack up. 

It was a nice weekend, all in all, despite the unfavorable weather conditions Friday and Saturday.

On a sadder note, Scott's grandmother, Beverly, has taken a turn for the worse and has been admitted into Hospice care.  She has cancer in several organs and does not wish to pursue treatment.  Please keep my hubby and his family in your prayers as this is a difficult time.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Give us this day our daily bread

I love homemade bread.  Who doesn't? 

I've been wanting to make my own bread for some time now, but a number of problems arise.  Namely, I don't have a lot of spare time on my hands since I work full time, and also I can tend to be rather lazy. 

My grandma used to make homemade bread every other day.  Then, in the 90's, she bought a bread machine.  My grandma thinks her bread machine is the bees knees.  She's gone through 3 of them since she uses them so much.  The only thing I'm not crazy about in the realm of bread machines is the shape of the loaf.  Who wants a loaf with a big hole in the middle of it?   My mom solves that problem by letting the bread machine work its magic by making the dough, then taking it out and baking it in her own pan in the oven.  Does anyone else do that? 

I happen to own a bread machine, but I really wanted to make bread the old fashioned way.  So, last Monday I found a relatively easy recipe that didn't seem too difficult and I set out to make my own bread.  I was pretty disappointed.  My bread did not rise well and I was left with a thick, heavy, and brick-like loaf. 

Yesterday, I decided I would try again, with one change- I used spring water in the place of tap water.  I read online that most town water nowadays has chlorine in it.  Chlorine kills yeast...which is (I believe) why my bread failed. 

So, I dug out the same recipe and tried over again- and success was my reward!  Woohoo!  I had a nice golden loaf of crusty bread.  Even though it wasn't perfect (my loaf pan appears to be a bit too large for this particular loaf of bread), it tasted wonderful, it puffed up like it should have, and it had a really nice texture.  I made toast out of a couple slices and it was heavenly. 

To add even more goodness, I spread on some pecan pumpkin butter (like apple butter, not the milk/cream kind of butter).  A-maz-ing!   You can buy the butter at a number of different Amish shops in the area.  However, if you are desperate to try a fruit butter but don't have a supplier nearby, you can buy online from this site

I would add a photo, but my bread is already about half gone...hubby seems to like it just as much as I did.  lol 

So, are you intimidated by the whole concept of bread making?  You really don't need to be. 

My bread called for minimal ingredients.  I only needed water, yeast, salt, sugar, crisco, milk, and flour.  The only thing that required a real quantity of anything was flour.  Here is the recipe I used.  Honestly, if you have considered making bread, but weren't sure, why not dive in and give it a try.  I think you'll enjoy the results and realize it's not so difficult or scary as you may think. 

If you have a bread machine, dig it out and re-read those instructions.  Fire it up and enjoy a warm, crusty loaf of deliciousness! 

God bless you, dear reader.  I pray that you are happy, healthy, and having an enjoyable day.  :) 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Finally Friday

Well, as I predicted last night, I'm feeling perfectly chipper and happy today.

Please ignore the ramblings of a sad, tired woman from my last post.

We don't really have any big plans for the weekend.  I think we'll head up to Wilkes-Barre because my husband is hankering to eat at Chili's and that is the closest one.  Maybe we'll do a little shopping while we are up there.  Who knows? 

Today is bright and sunny.  It is this morning, at any rate.  I hope it warms up a bit soon.  It's been an unusually chilly spring so far.  It will make it up to the 50's today and maybe 60 by Sunday.  I feel bad for my poor daffodils who have been enduring lots of cold weather, dipping into the 20's at night. 

I'd like to clean off the porches and sweep them down and make them look nice this weekend.  I think that'll be a nice project.  It won't be long till we will be able to use them! 

We have a little trip coming up in three weeks.  We're staying at Prince Gallitzin State Park with my sister and her hubby and son.  I think it will be a fun time- especially if the weather is nice! 

I'm looking for a way to get set in grease spots out of my clothes.  Any suggestions? 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Sadness tonight

I'm sure I'll be feeling like my chipper self by tomorrow, but I need a place to vent and since it appears that absolutely no one reads this blog, I figure I may as well pour it out here.

I hope you don't mind, but I need to vent.  I'm not eloquent.  I don't necessarily have a talent for putting my thoughts down, but I do feel like if I don't express myself somewhat, I'll go to sleep crying, which isn't really how I want the day to end.  So, you know, bear with me.  It's not the end of the world.  It might feel like it, but I'm certain I'll survive.

Tonight I am lonely.  Not the kind of "I live in a lighthouse at the edge of the sea with no one in a 20 miles radius lonely."  It's a 21st Century kind of lonely. 

It's spending a lot of time on facebook, trying to connect with people who are busy with their own lives.  It's spending every weeknight alone because your husband works 2nd shift and you work 1st.  It's living 4 hours away from your family kind of lonely. 

It's also my own fault I don't have many friends.  Now, that's not to say that I'm not friendly with people.  I'm merely hard to be friends with.  I like space.  I like routines and switching things up makes me really uncomfortable.  Hence the not too many friends thing.  Most people want to get together and do stuff whereas most of the time, I'd prefer to be at home.  I've got nothing against them.  What I do have is a serious problem with my routine being messed up.  (Cause I am a toddler like that, I suppose.) 

I get sad because I don't know how to do my hair.  No one really ever taught me and I have this frizzy fine hair that just blows wherever it wants and it's not like I can just let it be.  If I end up doing something with it, it dang well better be absolutely perfect, or it is going to get ripped right back down and I'll just do it the way I always do.  

I'm sad because I wish my husband understood a few things about me.  I wish he knew I need to be supported sometimes.  He always comes off as if I am hassling him when I am sad or upset.  It's like he doesn't have time to listen to me.  Then, he'll end up sad too and I need to comfort him.  I love helping him and comforting him, but I want him to comfort me, too.  Isn't that how it is supposed to work?  I feel mean for saying this, but I feel like I get ripped off in the emotions department.  My feelings don't seem to count.
I know.  Boo-hoo, right?  Everyone's got problems.  

I've been so restless and unhappy this week.  The thought of going and doing things after work both spring with possibility and also seem to make me angry, for some reason.  I have a hard time making peace with myself.  I wonder if anyone else is like that.  Maybe it's just me.  I'm not sure. 

What are you really supposed to do when you're upset or mad?  I usually don't do anything, although I have to admit I'm more like my dad than I want to be.  I don't say anything, because if I did, it wouldn't make much sense... Honestly, when I'm mad at people I want to smack them, usually as hard as I possibly can.  So ladylike and polite.  Ugh.  Why did I have to be born with the natural mannerisms of a boorish oaf?  If it makes you feel any better, I've never actually smacked someone.  I would like to someday, though.  There are a lot of people who need a good smacking, right? 

The other day I was thinking about the whole 3 wishes with a genie in a bottle thing.  I thought maybe there would be a stipulation that you had to wish for unusual things.  I'm not exactly sure what all three wishes would be, but I know I'd like one of them to be that I'll never be tailgated again.  I want some sort of invisible force field around my car that literally makes it impossible to get too close.  That would be divine. 

I'm sad that I'll probably not really ever try anything new.  I know myself and how I work.  I'm too afraid and too stubborn to really get out there and try for something.  I don't like doing something new unless I know I will succeed.  I hate looking like a fool. I am prideful like that.

I have to laugh that I hate looking like a fool and then post a blog like this.  Oy vey.  I'm an idiot.

Anyway, enough ranting for one night. 

Please understand that my frustration level on just about everything is super high right now.  I'm just having a crappy week and I am tired and hurting and sad and feeling very alone and bitter. 

I won't feel like this forever.  I just have to get over it and realize that not everything in the world sucks. 

If you took the time to read this, a pat on the back to you.  Thanks for listening.  It's nice to know that someone took the time to do that.  I apologize if you now hate me. It's okay.  On nights like this, I don't like myself much, either.  lol 

Have a good day/evening, reader.  I hope that you are well and I pray that you are happy. 


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Double duty cooking

This week I thought I'd post a little about double duty cooking.  You know, you cook once and then eat twice?  If you family can't stand the same thing twice in a row, or you don't do leftovers, then you might not like this idea.  Here's how it is going with my family this week:

Monday, I made a big pan full of meatballs.  We had meatball hoagies last night for supper, along with some chicken corn chowder. 

Tuesday (tonight) I am using the rest of the meatballs with spaghetti and sauce.  I'm rounding out the meal with green beans and a small salad.

Wednesday I am putting some chicken breasts in the crockpot.  When they are finished cooking, I'm taking two out and putting wing sauce on top with a few blue cheese crumbles.  I'll add a baked potato and some steamed broccoli and calling it a meal. 

Thursday I'm taking the two leftover chicken breasts, shredding them, adding BBQ sauce (actually I am doing this Wednesday in the crockpot and then spooning it into a dish to be reheated on Thursday) and making some BBQ chicken sandwiches.  I won't consider them finished until some cheese is added on top!  We'll probably have leftover soup or chips or something with these.

Friday, I'm just making a frozen pizza.  This is a hectic week, so I wanted to make sure I had some easy-peasy meals and I think these fit the bill nicely. 

Typically, I make meals a little more...oh, in depth, I guess, but these still taste great and they are very easy.

Do you ever cook once and eat twice?  Tell me about it! 

Bless you all! 


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Change of Pace

There's no special reason I can give you for why I let my blog fall into neglect like I have.

Well, that's not entirely true.  I can give you a few reasons. 

I like to fancy myself a homemaker and a good wife.  I'm no Proverbs 31 woman, but I do try to live up to that standard.  Let's face it, though...that can be exhausting, both physically and mentally.  Knowing that I'll never be that good is discouraging some days, to say the least.  Other days, it is something that inspires me and I strive to be that woman.

I thought I'd make a blog specifically about homemaking, because I really feel as though it's becoming a lost art and, it seemed like a niche I could fit easily into.  I honestly cannot say that I am any better or worse than most women I know.  We all struggle with this and that.  I come home tired at the end of the day, just like anyone else who works a 40 hour week, and I don't always relish the thought of cooking dinner, cleaning up dishes, and keeping the house running smoothly.  I usually do these things because we can't just go out to eat every night, and often times I do enjoy cooking.  I rarely enjoy cleaning up.

So, at any rate, I thought I'd find enough things to discuss on the homemaking front to keep this blog running.  As it turns out, not only do I not have an endless source of material, I am more than just a homemaker.  I have opinions on plenty of other topics.  It's not even so much that I feel that these opinions are worthy of anyone else reading, but isn't the whole point of blogging to satisfy the need to write?

I enjoy writing although  I am no expert.  You are likely to find errors peppered throughout my posts.  I have what I would guess to be an average education.  I'm no super genius, nor do I claim to be.  I have many faults.

I am a Christian, and it is hard.  It is hard because I grew up in a secular household and I didn't grow up with religion.  Religion is a lot different than having a relationship with Jesus, IMO. People who claim to love and be all about Jesus put an awful lot of hurt on other people, I have noticed.   I could write a lot more about this.  I actually want to, but I don't have the time at the moment. 

I guess maybe what this blog will reflect, if I am able to keep up with it, will be a little of this and a little of that.  I'll post what is on my mind, if we are going anywhere or doing anything.  If I come up with some homemaking tips, I will post about those.  It'll depend on my mood.

This may or may not suit your taste.  It's okay if it doesn't.  I'm not looking to please everyone nor do I expect to.

I do want you to know that I am still the same Mandy.  Maybe I haven't really expressed anything like this so far, but it's just me.  :)

God bless you, reader.  Take care of yourself.