Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Book Review: Biblical Minimalism by Cheryl E. Smith

Back in 2021 I promised to read, and do a book review, for a gal I met online. Her name is Cheryl Smith and the book I promised to read and review is called Homespun Devotions - Volume 1

Before Cheryl mailed the book to me she asked if I'd also be interested in reading and reviewing her first book Biblical Minimalism. Of course I would! She mailed both books to me right away.

Of course, I had the best of intentions when I agreed to read and review the books and was thrilled to get them when they arrived, but, sadly, with being in the throes of grief after my husband's death, I laid the books aside and forgot all about them. 😢
That is until recently when I got an email from Cheryl looking for my past reviews and announcing her latest book, Homespun Devotions - Volume 2! Oh. my. word! Here she was announcing book THREE and I hadn't even started reading book ONE yet, let alone posted a review! I felt so bad! 

I sent Cheryl an email of apology and promised to pull the books out and get started on reading them right away. She assured me that all was well and that there was no need to be sorry, but I was...and, since she's ready for reviews on Homespun Devotionals - Volume 2, I probably should have started with Homespun Devotionals - Volume 1, but didn't. I started with Biblical Minimalism - Following Jesus From a Life of Abundance to a More Abundant Life and I'm so glad that I did! It was just what I needed at this particular time in my life!

Biblical Minimalism is a book about, not only overcoming overloaded schedules, overwhelming debt, and being enslaved to excess physical possessions, but it's about breaking free of worldly (and sometimes self-imposed) expectations, putting God first in every area, and discovering His plan and purpose for your life.

The thing I liked most about this book is that, as Cheryl shares her own family's personal story of finding the freedoms that they've come to enjoy in every facet of life, she stays vigilent and true to scripture, constantly reaffirming and backing up every word she has to say with it. She also offers a lot of practical advice, as well.

This book helped me regain my perspective. I found, without doubt, that my husband and I were on the right track and had already achieved many of the things Cheryl discusses in the book. I found that, in my own situation, it's just a matter of keeping my eyes on Jesus and, no matter how frightened I get at times, to just keep moving forward, fine-tuning as I go, as I seek to find God's will for my life in a new season.

I'm very thankful for this Cheryl for writing it and sharing it with me, and to God for His perfect timing and allowing me the opportunity to share it with you. I pray that, should you choose to read it, that Biblcial Minimalism will minister to your spirit and soul as deeply as it has my own. 

Biblical Minimalism is 213 pages long and has 16 chapters. Chapter titles include For His Name's Sake, Why Do We Have So Much Stuff?, What Do We Really Own Anyway?, Putting God First, Don't Look Back, Shaking The Dust Off, and Some Practical Advice. 

In all honesty, next to the Bible Itself, this is one of the best books that I've read.

I'm getting ready to start Homespun Devotions - Volume 1 now and will post a review for it when I am finished. In the mean time, please check out Cheryl's website and all of her books by clicking on the links below.

Cheryl's Website:

Cheryl's Books - 

Until next time...

P.S. - I will be doing a Biblical Minimalism book giveaway soon, so be watching for it! 

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Master To-Do List and Menu Plan Monday - February 6, 2023

Thursday Things

Monday, February 6, 2023

Master To-Do List and Menu Plan Monday - February 6, 2023

It's Monday and, not the greatest photo in the world, but...I've got crocuses blooming! 

The First Crocus of 2023

I wouldn't have even thought to look for them yesterday if Angie hadn't posted on Facebook that hers were up. I went out and, sure enough, I had four crocuses up...two yellow, a cream-colored, and a purple one! I'm thrilled and I'm sure there will be more crocus photos before the month is over.

Growing up it was always a race to see which came first...the first crocus of the year or my mother's birthday (February 8th). This year, the crocuses won out!

My Mom and I Back in the 1960's With
One of My Dog, Frisky's, Pups

(Happy Heavenly Birthday this week, Mom! I love and miss you! The crocuses always remind me of you!) 💜

So, back to the present...

How was your week and weekend? Despite still battling broncitus, or whatever it is that I've got, my weekend here was great!

Aaron, Amanda, and Alysia came down to spend the night Friday. We had supper and visited at Patrick and Amber's that evening and enjoyed celebrating Aaron's birthday while we were there. 

Happy Birthday, Aaron!

I had to work Saturday and, first thing that morning, caught this merlin in the middle of breakfast...


It was great getting to see a merlin that close up! What an absolutely amazing bird!

Sunday was church in the morning, then a quiet afternoon and evening at home. I enjoyed watching Episode 7 of The Chosen Season 3. 

Now, here we are, off and running in the middle of the first Monday of February 2023! Let's take a look at the week ahead, shall we?

Red-shouldered Hawk

This week's master to-do list...

- Clean house
- Do laundry
- Celebrate grandlittle birthdays (three of them this week!)
- Sort tote of greeting cards into categories (birthday, get-well, anniversary, new baby, etc.) and organize into folders
- Mail sympathy cards to friends that have recently lost family members
- Start a new craft project
- Work

Look at the buds on this tree! Wow!

This week's menu plan and winter food challenge update...

The winter food challange continues and, while there is still a wide variety of canned and boxed goods left on cabinet shelves, the older foods from the deep-freeze and freezer are just about gone. I will use most, if not all, of the meat that remains this week.

Breakfast ideas this week include pancakes with fruit, yogurt, and syrup, apple and cinnamon oatmeal, and eggs and toast; lunch ideas include soup, salad, and sandwiches.

Supper ideas this week include...

- Meatloaf (turkey burger from freezer) with mashed potatoes (boxed) and fresh asparagus
- Broiled Salmon (freezer) with baked potato (fresh) and oven-roasted carrots (fresh)
- Green Chili Burrito (turkey burger from freezer, fresh potatoes, and canned green chilies) with brown rice (boxed) and black beans (canned)
- Salisbury steak (burger from freezer)  with mashed potatoes (boxed) and fresh asperagus
- Breakfast for supper (turkey bacon from freezer), eggs, and toast) 
- Leftovers

Well, that's it from me today. How are things going on your end? I hope your Monday is off to a great start and I wish you a beautiful and bountiful week ahead! 

Until next time...

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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Thursday Things

It's Thursday night and, after another busy day (and week), it's time to settle down and unwind. 

The sorting and organizing of the Van Gogh room is done! Does that mean that I'm finished with it? Not at all!

What it does mean is, that all those piles and totes have been gone through. Some stuff has been thrown away and a lot of stuff has been put away where it belongs. What's left has been sorted and organized into like groupings...all the books in one place, all the nature journaling and craft supplies in one place, all the correspondance, etc.

Everything has been sorted, yes, but I still have way too much stuff in too small a space, so the next stage will be to go through everything again and decide whether to keep, sell, or give away, BUT, I'm going to save that for another day. The main thing right now is, that the room is clean. I know what I've got and where it's at and THAT feels GREAT!

Other than working on the Van Gogh room this week, I've done a variety of other, baking, spending time with family and friends, planning, and shopping. I'm looking forward to the weekend.

Well, I suppose I should be going for now. I've got a lot to do tomorrow and it's time for bed. I hope your Thursday has been a good one and that the weekend ahead is fantastic!

Until next time...

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Monday, January 30, 2023

Master To-Do List and Menu Plan Monday - January 30, 2023

It's the last Monday of January and, here we are, off and running into a brand new week! 

Since I gave a rest-of-the-week and weekend update last night I won't belabor the facts, but I will say, "Go Chiefs!" 

Kansas City Chief's Patrick Mohomes

I admit that I've never been a HUGE fan of football, but I do love Kansas City and I love those Kansas City Chiefs! Congratulations to them on winning the AFC Championship last night! They are headed to the Super Bowl! Woo-hoo! GO, CHIEFS!!! 

Okay...on to this week's master to-do list and menu plan. Won't you join me?

This week's master to-do list...

- Clean house
- Do laundry
- Focus on that final push to get through the sorting and organizing of the Van Gogh room (I'm almost there!)
- Figure February budget
- Go to the bank
- Go to the post office
- Pay bills
- Work

A Few of My Houseplants

This week's menu plan and winter food challenge update...

The winter food challenge continues! Last night I made homemade pizza for supper. In doing so I used up the last of the turkey pepperoni and an open bag of mozzerella cheese. I made a large pizza to be divided and frozen into eight separate meals and a personal pan-sized pizza to be eaten fresh out of the oven. I often do this using a single batch of crust resulting in a thinner crust on both pizzas, which I prefer. 

Not the pizza that I made last night, but my pizza
crust recipe can be found by clicking HERE.

I just mix up the crust and pinch off enough dough to flatten in the personal pan, then flatten the remaining dough into the larger pan. It's simple and equates into 10 slices of pizza instead of 8, so it's a dollar-stretching method, too!

I've got Good Earth Roll dough rising on the counter, eggs on to boil (to be used as snacks and/or cut up and used in salads), and the last of the sweet potatoes in the oven (I will make a sweet potato pie with them this afternoon).

Meals this week will include...

Turkey tetrazzini (roasted and chopped turkey from the freezer) served with Good Earth Rolls on the side
- Pork roast (freezer) with mashed potatoes (boxed), and green beans (canned)
- Sue Gregg's Sloppy Joes (new recipe, but have ingredients on-hand) served with fresh-cut oven fries
- Broiled salmon, baked potato, and a vegetable (canned)
- Breakfast for supper (ham or turkey bacon, eggs, and toast or biscuits)

Well...that's a look at the week ahead on my end. I hope your day is off to a great start and the week ahead is filled to the full and running over with blessings! 

Until next time...

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Sunday, January 29, 2023

Sunday Night Catch Up, Recipes, and More

It's been a busy week and weekend here and I've not had a chance to do much of anything on the computer until tonight. I could have saved any updates for tomorrow morning, but I felt like writing and unwinding. How are things going on your end?

Wednesday evening several of us got together to celebrate Burn's Night and my cousin's birthday. No birthday cake, but Amber's Scottish shortbread was delicious! 

Scottish Shortbread

For those that are interested in learning more about Burn's Night or obtaining some traditional Scottish recipes click HERE; for my recipe for Scottish shortbread click HERE.

Thursday morning Angie and I went for a drive through the park before enjoying breakfast at Mary's. We saw a few things of interest along the way, including the bison, but our biggest nature find of the morning was a pair of trumpeter swans swimming on the city lagoon. They were so beautiful!

Trumpeter Swans

In addition to working my regular hours at work this week, I participated in deer survey's on both Friday and Saturday nights. While out and about the boss and I saw deer, yes, but we also saw several other creatures of the night including cotton-tailed rabbits, two skunks, an armadillo, a raccoon, a coyote, and several short-eared owls. It was so much fun! 

Short-eared Owl

I had complany for lunch after church today, but the afternoon and evening has been quiet. I'm still battling broncitis or something so am thankful for a little down time. I've watched a few episodes of Relative Race and just rested. It's been a good day. I will post my to-do list and menu plan tomorrow.

Until then...

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Tuesday, January 24, 2023

The Winter Food Challenge Continues

As the month of January winds down, the winter food challenge continues. There's still plenty of food in the house, but I did have to shop for fresh items and other things to round out meals. I did that yesterday.

Before I went shopping, though, I decided to go ahead and go through the freezer. I knew there were a lot of vegetables in there that we had put up out of the garden, but I got to thinking about it. John was hospitalized the first time in late January of 2021. That was two years ago (hard to believe!). With his illness and death, I have totally lost track of time. How long had some of those vegetables been in there? 😲

Fortunately none of the packages that were
currently in the freezer were this old! 

There were a few bags of zucchini that I put up last summer (2022), but the majority of the vegetables in the freezer had been there since 2020. Since frozen vegetables are typically only good for one year, I decided that, after three years, it would be best to throw them away. I hated doing it, but I don't believe that eating them was even an option.

While I was at it I rearranged what was left. I stacked all the grains together...rolled oats, oat bran, wheat flour, pearled barley, and rice, and did the same with the fruits (blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries). These items will be used in making breads, muffins, and more.

I found that there is very little meat left and what there was of it is packaged in very small packages. There are single-serving sized packages of deli ham, deli turkey, and taco meat (one of each), a single pre-cooked turkey burger (am having that for lunch today), one salmon fillet, a package of turkey bacon, a small package of oven-roasted turkey breast, and two small packages of sliced oven-cooked ham. I gathered it all up and moved it to the refrigerator freezer. I will focus on using those items up first. There is also a small pork roast left. I will pop that in the crockpot sometime for a company meal. 

Since I didn't have a single piece of chicken in the house, I bought two packages of organic chicken breasts that I was able to get on mark-down at the store yesterday. I don't plan on opening them, though, until all those little odd and end packages of meat have been used up and are gone.

In other areas, things are moving along nicely. I'm using up several canned and/or boxed goods each week and, although it is slow going, I can visibly see the stock in the cabinets and cupboards dwindling. I am determined to do this!

How about those of you who are following along or doing the same? I'd love to hear an update concerning your progress, as well! 

Until next time...

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Monday, January 23, 2023

Master To-Do List and Menu Plan Monday - January 23, 2023

It's Monday evening and I'm just now getting a chance to sit down and post. How was your week and weekend? My week and weekend here were good. I worked Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I saw this big guy on the way home Thursday evening.

Now here it is Monday. First thing this morning I discovered that one of the cats had knocked the plant that my grandson had given me for Christmas off the shelf and on to the floor, breaking the pot and scattering dirt and plant debris all over the place. I was so upset!

I had planned on going to town later in the week, but with snow is in the forecast for tomorrow and Wednesday, and, now, with needing a new pot and some dirt, I decided to go ahead and go today while it was nice. I'm glad I did. I accomplished quite a bit!

In addition to picking up the fresh items that I needed at the store, and getting the new pot and soil for the plant, I was able to get my tires rotated and balanced, wash my car, pick up stuff for upcoming birthdays and celebrations, and restock household cleaning supplies. I also purchased a new filing cabinet and a couple of clear totes to help with straightening and organization in the Van Gogh room. I enjoyed lunch at Subway and, after I got home, Silas came over and repotted the plant for me. 😊

I have more to share, but I'm running so far behind and still have much to do tonight. I'm going to go ahead and get started and, hopefully, will be able to share more later in the week. Let's get started...shall we?

This week's master 'to-do' list...

- Clean house
- Do laundry
- Grocery shop for fresh items
- Check fluids in car
- Have tires rotated and balanced
- Wash car
- Celebrate my cousin's birthday
- Host a Burn's Night supper
- Continue to clean and organize the Van Gogh room
- Get together with family and friends
- Work

This week's menu plan...

Menu plans this week include broiled salmon with baked sweet potato, homemade pizza, Burn's Night supper (crockpot haggis, tatties and neeps, oatcakes, and Amber is bringing shortbread for dessert), breakfast for supper (ham or turkey bacon, eggs, and toast), and tuna and noodles.

Well, that's it for today! I hope your week is off to a great start and that you have a wonderful week ahead!

Until next time...

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Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Relative Race, Baking Casseroles, and Recipe For Turkey Pot Pie

I had a great time at Patrick and Amber's last night. We had a delicous supper, brownies and ice cream for dessert, and Amber introduced me to Relative Race

Relative Race - Season 5

By chance, has anyone else here watched it? Oh my goodness! I love it! 

Relative Race is one of those reality tv game shows with a prize of $50,000 riding on the line, but, it's so much more! Four teams search for family members that they've never met before. It might be people who were adopted as children, or those that grew up in single-parent homes, that are searching for biological parents or other family members. They go on this crazy, ten-day race all over the country, following instructions, facing challenges, meeting relatives, getting many surprises and blessings along the way. It is great fun and really pulls at the heart-strings! After I finish the season that we started last night (Season 5), I want to go back and watch the rest of them!

This morning I got up and put together a couple of casseroles. These will be used as lunches and quick suppers over the next several days. 

Baked Rigatoni With Pepperoni

I made a small (two-serving) baked rigatoni with turkey pepperoni and a turkey pot pie with a celery seed drop biscuit topping. I will share the recipe for it with you here today.

Turkey Pot Pie With Celery Seed Drop Biscuit Topping


1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
2 cups cut-up cooked turkey (or chicken)
1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas and carrots 

(Note: I didn't have frozen peas and carrots, so I used fresh carrots, sliced thin, and 1/2 cup canned peas.)

Heat butter over low heat until melted. Blend in flour, onion, salt, and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly; remove from heat. Stir in broth and milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in turkey and vegetables. Pour into a 9x9x2-inch pan that has been sprayed with pan spray. Top with celery seed drop biscuit dough (recipe below) and bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.

    Drop Biscuit Dough

1/3 cup canola oil
1 3/4 flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon celery seed (optional)

Mix ingredients together with a whisk and drop by tablespoonsful on top of chicken and vegetable mixture in baking pan.

Now that I'm done in the kitchen, I'm going to go to work in the Van Gogh room for a while. That's what's going on this afternoon at my house. What's your Wednesday look like?

Until next time...

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Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Tuesday Tidbits - Vegetable Beef Soup, Winter Food Challenge Update, and More

The vegetable beef soup that I made yesterday turned out great and it gave me a chance to use up some things that have needed using for a long time!

Vegetabele Beef (Bison) Soup

For instance...(I say 'vegetable beef soup', but it was actually vegetable bison)...I had two small pieces of already cooked bison steak leftover in the freezer from a previous meal and a whole bowl of tiny onions harvested from my garden last fall. I thawed and cubed the bison steak, and chopped up every one of those tiny onions, to go in the soup. 

Along with the meat and onions, I added fresh carrots, green beans and potatoes (a quart of home-canned; and a can each of store-bought), peas, corn, diced tomatoes, a can of tomato paste, a quart of good beef bone broth, and 4 beef bouillon cubes.

I let the soup come to a boil, then simmer for a while to combine the flavors. When it was done, I kept back a pint to enjoy now, and jarred the rest up hot to seal and put in the fridge for meals later on. (I'm thinking that surely we're going to get some cold winter weather at some point and these warm soups will taste especially good then!)

In the process of making the vegetable soup, I ended up pulling out all of the canned goods. I wiped the cabinet down and put the canned goods back, rearranging and organizing them as I went. I pulled the older stuff to the front, and took out three flats of canned fruits and vegetables to share with others. 

I also eliminated the stack of partially filled flats of canned goods that had been stacked in the hallway, and the corner of the kitchen, for quite some time. Now, all the canned goods are housed in their proper place.

It was quite a simple thing, really, but so much progress seemed to have stemmed from that one act of deciding to make homemade vegetable beef (bison) soup! YEAH!!! 

I've been working like a mad woman in the Van Gogh room (a.k.a. my office). I have all but emptied it of its loose contents and have been busily sorting through pile after pile of papers, books, correspondence, and more. I've got tables set up in the livingroom where I am sorting and making piles. When I am done I will go through each stack and decide what to do with each item. 

There are recipes, letters, postcards, pictures, program materials for work, old calendars, magazines, DVDs, CDs, ministry letters, unused notebooks and paper of all kinds, craft supplies, and, oh goodness! The list goes on and on!

Shoebox Full of Non-Working Pens and Markers
That Went Into The Trash Can Last Night

I am determined to make a clean sweep of it this time, no matter how long it takes. As long as the room itself is clean and organized by the end of the month I'll be happy, but I very much want to go through every tote, every drawer, every bookshelf, every EVERYTHING and do a complete and thorough deep clean before year's end! And not just in the Van Gogh room (although it's the worst), but of every room in the house. I've got a long way to go, of course, but I think I'm off to a good start. Now, if I can just keep my focus and keep up the momentum! 

Amber called earlier and has invited me for supper tonight. I've got a goal in mind that I'd like to reach today, so I suppose I should get back to work and keep pressing on. 

I hope your Tuesday is going great and I'll talk to you all again soon! 

Until next time...

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