Saturday, August 30, 2014

Summer's End

The end of August has arrived and it's hard to believe that autumn is just around the corner.  Yet, there is a definite nip in the air the past few days. 

Apples are ripe and ready to be picked.

School events have already started.  Emily has had tennis practice every day for the past two weeks and played her first match yesterday.  School officially starts on Wednesday.  We take Stephen to college tomorrow.

My kitchen is lined with canning jars, full of summer sunshine and goodness.

Soaps and candles are being made in autumn scents. 

I've purchased autumn gift items for the shop.

Fall is my favorite season!  Apple and pumpkin pies, corn husks, pumpkins, yellow, gold and orange colors.  I love it all.

Too bad I know what's coming next.  lol

Have a blessed day!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Plan Your Work and then Work Your Plan


I have a list about a mile long of things that need to get done here, at church, to get Stephen ready to leave for college on Sunday, and to get ready to open a new business.  There have been a few moments of panic and thinking, "How in the world am I going to get all this done.  However, I have a list and have been working my way down it.

Many times people comment at how much I get accomplished in a day.  I think a lot of the reason for that is I've tried to follow the adage, "Plan your work and then work your plan."  Every day when I get up, I have a to-do list of things that I want to accomplish.  It's a rare day that I get everything done on my list, but I strive to be as productive as I can be.

I mentioned recently that I was reading a book by John C. Maxwell called "Today Matters."  One of the things he discusses in the book is prioritizing your life.  He shares a story of an executive who wanted his company to be more productive and hired a management consultant.  The consultant told him to make a list every day of the things he wanted to accomplish. And then he told him to number those items in order of importance.  Then he was to start with number one and not do anything else until that item was done, then move on to two and so on.  Even if the list didn't get finished that day the things that were the top priority would.

Yet so often people will do the things of least importance first just so they can check items off their list.  Things are getting done but not the top priority items.  I've been guilty of this.  How about you?It doesn't matter if you are an executive or a homemaker, it's a great principle to follow.

So I've been trying to incorporate that principle along with my daily routine of making a list and it certainly is helpful.

Yesterday was a "stay-at-home" day and I was able to tackle a task that was looming over me; dealing with the piles of vegetables from my garden.  However, I was able to get other things done as well.

* I processed about 30-40 lbs. of tomatoes and made and canned 15 pints of sauce.

* I de-seeded and cut up and froze approximately 40 jalapeno peppers.

* I grated 14 cups of summer squash for the freezer which will be used for muffins, breads, sauces, etc.

* I made 2 loaves of zucchini bread (only used the summer squash instead and it turned out wonderful).

* I made and printed labels for all my jams, candles and soaps that were recently made.

* I made 16 candles (maple, patchouli, Christmas fir and peppermint).  Side note:  Don't buy an inferior wax and fragrance when making soy candles.  These did not turn out as well as the others. Sigh.

* Made roasted tomatoes with some of our grape tomatoes and had that over pasta with Romano cheese for lunch.

* Made a Polish dish of kielbasa, potatoes, cabbage and carrots for dinner.

* Deep cleaned both bathrooms

* Did a load of laundry

* Numerous loads of dishes were washed.

I fell into bed tired, but satisfied that I had been busy and productive and accomplished the top priorities on my list.  Today is going to be a day spent at Emily's tennis match this morning and then working in the shop this afternoon. 

I encourage you today to plan out your work and then work that plan!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

Isaiah 26:3-4 (NLT) ~

You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Trust in the Lord always,
for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.

Are things spinning out of control in your life?  Are you in turmoil today?  Do you continually dwell on whatever problem you are facing? Do you need some peace? 

There is a solution to that.  Keep your eyes and thoughts fixed on the Lord.  When we are struggling with something or facing a huge obstacle or crisis it is so easy to dwell on it and mull it over and over in our brain.  We focus so much on the problem that it becomes even larger.  Yet, the Lord promises us that He has a solution for our anxiety.  He will give us perfect, complete and ongoing peace if we trust Him.  And it's not just trust but we also need to take our eyes off the problem and plant them firmly on the Lord.  Then, and only then, will we get the peace we desire.

Facing health issues.....think about the Lord and trust.

Facing a family crisis....think about the Lord and trust.

Dealing with financial issues....think about the Lord and trust.

Marriage problems?.......think about the Lord and trust.

Are you having difficulties at work?.....think about the Lord and trust.

Peace.  It's hard to come by when we keep our eyes on our struggles.  Yet it is attainable as we trust God, take our thoughts captive by fixating on the Lord, and continue to follow Him.

Have a blessed day!



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cinnamon-Swirl Bread

I decided to share a recipe today.  I've been making bread for our local farmer's market and doing fairly well.  Each week I sell anywhere between 11-13 loaves.

Cinnamon-Swirl bread is one of the new recipes I tried and I love it.  Of course, anything with cinnamon in it is a keeper. :-)  It has cinnamon-sugar swirled throughout the loaf and is very tasty.

Cinnamon-Swirl recipe.
1 package of yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 cups milk, scalded
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2 tsp. salt
7 1/2 to 8 cups of all purpose flour
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons cinnamon
soft butter

Dissolve the yeast in the water and set aside. In a pan, scald the milk and then in a large mixing bowl pour it over 1/2 cup sugar, shortening, and salt. Stir to dissolve sugar and then let cool until lukewarm.

Add 3 cups of the flour; mix well. Stir in the yeast and eggs; beat well. Add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease the surface. Cover and let rise in warm place til double (1 1/2-2 hours).

Punch down and let rise again till almost double (about an hour). Punch down and divide dough in half. Let rest for 10 minutes.

Roll each half into a 15x7 inch rectangle. Brush with water. Mix 3/4 cup sugar and cinnamon together and reserve 2 Tbsp. Sprinkle sugar mixture on each rectangle.

Roll up and seal long edge. Tuck the ends in and place in greased loaf pan. Brush each loaf with butter and sprinkle remaining sugar mixture on top.

Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until done. If crust starts to brown too quickly cover with aluminum foil the last 10 minutes. Makes 2 loaves.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Rise and Shine!

Rise and Shine and give God the glory, glory!

Do you remember that little chorus?  I love getting up before everyone else is stirring, sitting on my deck and just giving Him praise for another new day.

A day to live my life for Him.
A day to love on my husband and children.

A day to be productive and busy.

A day to start over.

A day to just enjoy each moment as it comes my way.

Mondays generally are a day that people grumble their way through.  I love Mondays.  Mondays are marvelous.  Mondays are magnificent.  Mondays are full of a multitude of blessings!

This week I'm thankful for blessings #2166-2170.

2166.  Beautiful tomatoes from the garden.  This is the first year in a long time that I haven't dealt with blight or blossom end rot.

2167.  Friends who love and support me.

2168.  Hearing my son's testimony in church yesterday.

2169.  A daughter who makes me smile every day.

2170.  Meeting a new friend and connecting immediately.

2171.  A shop that's coming together.

2172.  My husband who supports me and loves me.

2173.  The yeasty smell of bread rising.

2174.  A very large, custom Etsy order.

2175.  Confirmation of a decision.

2176.  A wonderful time of prayer and praise in church yesterday.  There was such a sweet spirit of encouragement and joy in the service.

2177.  The comfortable feeling after a nap.

2178.  Checking items off the to-do list.

2179.  Coffee, coffee, and more coffee.

and finally....

2180.  Praising my Savior each morning!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Changing Seasons

The other day I noticed a few leaves starting to change as a reminder that autumn is on it's way.  I love living in the Northeast with four separate and distinct seasons, and fall has always been my favorite season.

We have separate and distinct seasons in our lives too, don't we?  Dan and I are entering a different stage in our lives and it's definitely been an adjustment.  We have a young adult living with us full-time.  Our middle son, Stephen, leaves for college next Sunday and that will be an adjustment for us as he has been here for the past 3 1/2 months.  Emily is beginning 10th grade.

I'm proud of who my children are and how they are growing, not just physically but spiritually.  They have always had a strong desire to live out their faith and even though they fail at times, like all of us, they keep striving to do that.

Nathan works hard at Walmart and the fire department.  He struggles with so many things and every day is a challenge for him.  He's been having a rough time lately, yet, keeps pushing through and trying to stay positive.  His biggest struggle is the lack of friends and constantly feeling like he is not good enough. He struggles with his disabilities and accepting them.  Yet, every time he is knocked down, he gets back up and keeps moving forward.  Other than his dad and I, he hasn't had a lot of affirmation lately, so we keep trying to encourage him.

Stephen is heading off to my alma mater next weekend where he will be majoring in Biblical Studies.  His plan is to go into full-time ministry as either a pastor or missionary.  It's been wonderful to see his desire to follow the Lord and he studies God's word constantly.  Even though he is shy and struggles with generalized anxiety disorder, he pushes himself to get out and meet new people.  He has been working full-time this summer doing landscaping at a local cemetery.  His last day was Thursday and he is taking the next week to relax and enjoy himself before school starts.

Emily is doing great adjusting to her new school and community.  It was a rocky start at first but she has made a lot of friends and did well in school this past semester.  She joined the tennis team this summer even though she's never played before and after the first week of practice was moved up to the varsity team.  She gets her natural athleticism from her dad.  She's a pretty happy-go-lucky teen and gets along with just about everyone.  One of her friends said to her recently, "Why are you so happy all the time?" :-) l told her that's a wonderful trait to have and not to let negativity bring her down.

Dan is doing great.  He is out and about in the community daily; meeting new people and visiting people in the church. He is not an office guy and definitely is a people person.  He is and always has been a church planter at heart and outreach is his gifting so if he's around people, he's happy!  :-)

Obviously, you know how I'm doing.  I've been trying to juggle the house as well as preparing to open the shop so I've been trying to do just a few hours a day, cleaning and organizing the shop so I can also focus on my home.  I struggled a bit about whether as a pastor's wife I should do this or not but then realized that I'm gifted like Dan.  I love meeting new people and I'm hospitable.  It's a wonderful way to build my business but also get to know people in our community.  I'll be open 4 days a week so I still have 3 at home.

So there you have it!  Lots of new and exciting changes. :-)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Make it a Good One

I'm reading a book by John C. Maxwell entitled Today Matters.  In it he discusses 12 daily practices to be successful.  The thing that has struck me the most in the book is the need to make the most of the day you are in.  So much of our lives are sent in wasteful, worthless pursuits.  Most of us live reactionary lives instead of living a life of preparation and planning.

Today is the only day you may have.  Make it a good one.

Today I plan on working in the shop, getting it ready for my opening on September 3rd.

Processing the mountain of tomatoes from my garden.

Making nutritious meals for my family.   This was last night's dinner - chard, garlic and parmesan bread as well as pepperoni bread and salad.

Making items for the shop.

Spending time with this beauty.

Those are just a few things for today. 
Today matters.  Make it count.  Make it productive.  Make it a good one!