Sunday, July 22, 2018

Sunday Inspiration July 22, 2018

You, God, are my God,
    earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
    my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
    where there is no water.

I have seen you in the sanctuary
    and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
    my lips will glorify you.
~ Psalm 63

This is what the Lord says—
    he who made you, who formed you in the womb,
    and who will help you:
Do not be afraid... my servant
    .... whom I have chosen.
 For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
    and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring,
    and my blessing on your descendants.
 They will spring up like grass in a meadow,
    like poplar trees by flowing streams.
~ Isaiah 44:2-4

(These photos are ones I took yesterday at a nearby creek. Normally, the flat rocky area is covered in at least a few inches of water, and flowing over the large rocks in the second photo, creating a lovely waterfall. It's a favorite spot for locals to cool off on a hot summer day. We've had so little rain here, however, that it's almost completely dried up. The swimming hole further upstream does have water in it, but it's not deep enough to use the rope swing safely. God has been delivering a bit of rain to us the past couple of weeks, and we pray He continues to send more rain!)

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Seeking Motivation, Inspiration, Consistency, Endurance

Something must be done. It's hot as blazes right now, but eventually fall will arrive and I'll want to wear jeans with cozy sweaters. The sweaters will probably still fit, but those jeans are another story. And I spent too  much money on them to need to replace them with a bigger size. (See this post for the jeans story: My Unicorn at the End of a Rainbow.) Solution: shed some excess poundage.

This point was emphasized yesterday at my well-woman exam at the doctor's office. Thankfully, all my blood work, etc came back with good numbers; I'm in really good health. However....I'm not getting any younger and it would be in my best interest to improve my diet to prevent those numbers from turning bad.

Also, those too-small jeans. Not to mention a couple of dresses in my closet that can't be worn unless I put a jacket over them to hide the fact they're more than a tad snug.

So there's some motivation for me. Now for some inspiration...

The internet is full of before-and-after pictures of people who have lost huge amounts of weight. Books have been written by such people. TV shows have been made where fat people compete to lose the most weight. Diet programs and medication advertisements try to entice us chubsters to use them to get the weight off fast and easy. These are not the kinds of inspiration of which I'm seeking. For me, the inspiration needs to come from within...but my human self isn't reliable. This is where God steps in. He inspires me with His Word:
  Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  ~ Romans 12:1-2 

Consistency is my greatest hurdle in this endeavor. How many times have I begun a "journey to better health"? I start out keeping on track with my Way Of Eating (WOE), getting in a reasonable amount of exercise, reading materials related to my plan. And then the WOE wagon hits a bump in the road of life, knocking me onto my keister in the ditch. This wouldn't be as detrimental if I'd simply hop back on the wagon as quickly as possible, but I tend to remain in my pothole on the side of the road until the wagon is miles away and then I give up. What is the antidote?   I really wish I knew! Is it accountability? That seems like it might be helpful in maintaining consistency. I've had accountability partners in the past, but one or the other of us (or both) lets it go, and that doesn't help either of us. I think the best accountability partner will be Jesus. He'll never let me go, and he's gracious but firm if I get off track. 

Jesus is also my primary source of endurance. I've proved over and over that I do not have the willpower to keep working at losing weight on my own strength. "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!" ... "With (wo)man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." These are the verses I'll draw upon to keep on trucking!

In practical terms, I'm not exactly sure which tools I'll use to lose the weight this time. I've tried food diaries, weighing myself daily, not weighing more than once a month - all kinds of things. I do think that writing about it here on the blog will be helpful as an accountability tool. (This blog will not become all about weight loss, however; it's going to remain a willy-nilly, whatever's banging around in my head kind of blog. 😃) While employing lots of these tools can be helpful, it can also be overwhelming. My "plan" is to take it one day at a time and let God guide me! 

Monday, July 2, 2018

Blue Gingham Apron for July

July's "apron of the month" is a well-worn navy blue gingham half apron with needlework embellishing.

Actually, I'm not sure if this apron is well-worn, or poorly made with worn-out fabric. The ties are pieced together, the construction is somewhat shoddy, and the stitching is hit-and-miss. I'm not sure if this was one of my great-grandma's aprons or if I acquired it from someone else. Great-grandma did a lot of this kind of needlework on gingham, but her sewing was usually much neater. I suppose if she made this apron later in her life, however, age may have diminished her ability. No's still a treasure to me!

My camera has a few fun settings and editing tools, so I played around with a couple of the photos of the apron.

My favorite is the one I chose for the blog's cover photo:

Happy 4th of July, everyone!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Sunday Inspiration ~ July 1, 2018

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?

My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:1-2

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Second Hand Treasures

Gonna be real here, y'all....posting about food isn't working so well for me. Yes, I am cooking; no, I am not taking pictures. How do food bloggers do it - cook and take fabulous pictures at the same time? Heck, I'd settle for mediocre pictures! I'm simply not focused enough to be able to do both. At least not most of the time. This is why you've not seen much posted here on Peace and Crumbs the past few months.

And so...I've arrived at a decision. No more singular focus for the blog! I'm just going to write about whatever makes me happy. Maybe it'll be a recipe; perhaps an outfit here and there. Yard sale finds will make appearances, and so will thrift store sprees. I'm considering doing Sunday Inspiration posts again. And I might even throw in a random rambling post about whatever's been rattling around in my noggin!

Now for today's post topic ~ Second Hand Treasures!

Some Postman and I have been going to town just about every Saturday morning over the past month, stalking all the yard sales and visiting the farmer's market. This past Saturday, I remembered to take pictures of my "haul" from the sales. I was really happy with everything I found! (Some of these items were my hubby's finds, but I didn't include all of his things in the picture.)

The outfit: 

100% cotton garments are so difficult to come by anymore, for some reason, so when I find any, I get them. I paid 50¢ each for this skirt and top. I'm not sure how much I'll like the top, since it has elastic at the bottom with a ruffle. That's usually not something that flatters my middle. But it will probably be fine for everyday wear around the house. The skirt is longer than I prefer, but with the right shoes, it will be fine.

Speaking of right shoes....check out the box full of Just The Right Shoe collectibles! A lady was selling off the last of her mother's estate items; she had been a cosmetologist and loved all things fashion-related. I paid $3 for all nine of these figurines. My friend MA gave me a cute little wall hanging a couple of years ago, and I bought two JTRS pieces - a cowgirl boot and a red shoe - to put on top of it. I'm pretty sure I paid at least $8 each for them. Now I've got even more choices, and at such a bargain price! A few of these are not my style, so they'll be going on eBay, but I'm keeping most of them.

The twin sheets are new in the package; they are more eBay fodder (to fund my closet-filling habit). The purse cost $3, and is exactly like a gray one I used to have a few years ago, which is now being used by my daughter, except that this one is brown. And yes, Min, this brown one will be yours one day if there's any life left in it by the time I'm finished with it. In my opinion, the best purses are ones with a bazillion pockets, inside and out!

The Tupperware box is hard to see in the group photo above, since it blends in with the bedspread. It's a large rectangular FridgeSmart box without a lid, which I got for 75¢. Mostly I wanted it for the little vent covers; I have a smaller FridgeSmart box (with lid) that is missing one vent cover. I'd looked into buying a replacement vent cover from Tupperware, then concluded that covering the hole with tape would be a lot cheaper. Ha ha! After washing my "new" box and removing one vent cover to use on my taped-up box, I found a lid hidden in the pantry that would fit this lidless box! That lid belongs to a FridgeSmart box holding small stuff in the deep freeze, and it's the same size . So I took one of the vent covers off the box in the freezer, and now I've got two complete FridgeSmart boxes in two sizes to use in the fridge. Go me! LOL

Some Postman bought these CDs at the same sale where I bought my Just The Right Shoes. He paid $2 for the stack. It turns out that The Tractors are a country music group. Oops! Some Postman does NOT like country music! So he's listing them on eBay. The two Brian Setzer CDs he got for me, since he knows Big Band / Swing is one of my favorite music genres. So sweet!

Finally, I found a book (25¢) and a model robot kit (50¢) to give to my grandson. I'll give him the book right away, but will save back the model kit until he's a little older. Grandpa checked to be sure all the parts were inside.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Apron of the Month ~ June

The apron featured as my blog's cover photo for the month of June is one that belonged to my Great Grandma Clark. It was one that she wore in the final years of her life, when she lived in the nursing home. I'm not sure if she had it before then, or if someone made it for her after she moved to the home. It has her name written on the back side, as is customary to label residents' clothing.

Great Grandma's apron is made of a dainty rose bud printed cotton, with bright pink trim. It is an over-the-head smock style, full-front apron. (I suppose this style was good to ensure it would stay on her and not have bulky ties at her back.) The pocket is rather high on the side of the apron, but that was probably for practical purposes for Grandma, as she sat a lot then.

The apron does fit me, so I could wear it, but it is one of those "extra special" ones, and thus stays folded neatly and stored away. I wouldn't want to add to the stains and wear it out. I didn't know my Great Grandma Clark very well, but I still treasure her aprons. I can recall just a few memories about her....

When I was very young, my parents took my little sister and me to visit her at her house. B and I sat quietly on the couch, probably reading books - I don't think Great-Grandma liked children being noisy. There was a man named Cecil who rented a room (in the basement, I think?) from her. Her house was small and dark, as I remember, and had a teeny tiny front stoop instead of a porch.

Later, I learned that Great Grandma had had a stroke at the age of 38. She'd suffered from migraines up til then, and while the migraines went away after the stroke, she was apparently "never the same" after it. She was kind of crabby. Which makes sense...she probably didn't feel like herself anymore, poor thing.

One other memory of her is from when she was near the end of her life, and my grandpa (her son) took me to see her in the nursing home. Great Grandma could no longer speak coherently, but Grandpa asked her to recite the Lord's Prayer for us in German. Even though you couldn't understand her slurred, mumbled words, you could definitely hear the cadence in her voice, and it was positively the Lord's Prayer. That memory makes me happy!

Monday, May 28, 2018

As American As Apple Pie

For many years, I rarely attempted to make a pie; cake was my favored dessert to bake. After working at a local bakery/lunch spot several years ago, I learned their recipe for pie crust that makes pie making a whole lot easier for me. And then began my search for the ultimate apple pie...

There are a couple of apple pie recipes in my binder that are really good, but this one is my favorite:  Candy Apple Pie. It's a recipe that was published in Taste of Home magazine, so of course I won't take credit for it. You can find the recipe here:  Candy Apple Pie. Please note:  the recipe card that I clipped out of the publication years ago has double the proportions for the topping. I believe I know why. Get yourself a slice of pie and a glass of iced tea, have a seat at my table, and I'll tell you a story.

Once upon a time, more than 20 years ago, I clipped this recipe out of a magazine and attempted to execute it. It made a HUGE mess in my oven, because the topping boiled over the edges of the crust and dripped into puddles on the bottom of the oven. Because I refuse to use oven cleaner or the self-cleaning feature, I spent many hours and much elbow grease scrubbing the burnt stickiness off. Even though the pie tasted good, I decided it was not worth the mess.

Fast forward to 2017. While weeding out dud recipes from my binder, I ran across the Candy Apple Pie recipe card. I wondered if it would turn out better now that I have the best pie dish ever (Pampered Chef glazed stoneware). Guess what happened? Yep, the topping boiled over again! It didn't make nearly as big a mess, however, because I planned ahead - I put a pizza pan underneath the pie dish to catch the drips. Smart. 😁 And that pie was delicious! So I challenged myself to experiment with the recipe until I could get that topping to stay put.

I tried cooking the topping a few minutes beyond it coming to a boil. Still had spill-over. Next time, I reduced the topping's bake time to 2 minutes. No spill-over, but it didn't set quite enough. And then this most recent bake...I figured it out. I'd been using half-and-half or even milk to make the topping, rather than heavy cream. There IS a difference, people! This time, the topping stayed put and set nicely. Oh YUM...the perfect apple pie!

Now, for my tweaks. You know I can't leave a recipe alone! Ha ha! I added some lime zest to the apple slices with the lime juice, sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. (Oh, yes, by the way, I always use pink sea salt. It adds so much flavor!) Also, I add half a teaspoon of ground cardamom.

I put the pizza pan underneath - just in case - and always use my "crust shield". It keeps the edges of the crust from browning too much. Take it off for the last 10-15 minutes of the bake. If you remember. If you don't, it's not a big deal. Luckily, this time the topping didn't boil over, but I will still use the pizza pan insurance. And, as you can see, I used a glass pie plate instead of my stoneware, because it was currently in use holding spaghetti pie. (Oh, I'll have to share that recipe with you all, too! It's easy and tasty!) Hmm....perhaps I should do one more Candy Apple Pie experiment to see if stoneware makes any difference. I always thought it was superior to glass, but maybe not.

Sadly, this is the only photo of the topping cooking, and it's blurry. I don't add the chopped pecans to the sauce, because Some Postman doesn't care for nuts in/on his desserts. Instead, I sprinkle a few pecans in a kind of X on top of the pie, so that only half the pieces will have them.

Cutting the topping ingredients by half, like the current version of the recipe linked above, may eliminate the problem of spill-over, but I think I'll stick with the original amounts. After all, more topping means more Candy Apple Pie deliciousness!!!

Now for the pie crust recipe. Since they published their recipe in a cookbook they sold in the shop, I think I can safely share it here. This is the Friendship House's recipe for pie crust:

Never Fail Pie Crust

3 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup Crisco
1 egg
1 tsp cider vinegar
1/2 cup cold water

Mix flour and salt together. Cut in Crisco until resembles coarse crumbs. Mix beaten egg with vinegar and cold water. Mix into crumb mixture with a fork. Do not overmix. Make into four balls. Refrigerate overnight or freeze for later use. Makes 2 double-crust pies.