Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Yule Log


Yule Log Prayer

May the fire of this log warm the cold.
May the hungry be fed.
May the weary find rest.
and May all enjoy Heaven's peace.
Author Unknown

At the end of each year, we tend to reflect on the previous year, hoping that we have learned the lessons that we were to learn, reminiscing over the good memories, thanking God that the bad times are over, and anticipating a glorious New Year. 

Many Christmas' ago, I had the privilege of attending The Yule Log Service at The Center in Palos Park, Illinois.  "The highlight of each service is the lighting of the huge log and the opportunity for each participant to throw his or her own twig into the fire, symbolizing a fresh start for the New Year."  We were each given a bundle of small twigs tied with a bow.  One by one, we passed by the great fireplace holding the burning Yule Log.  As we threw our twig into the fire, we were told to reflect and let go of the past, the old, for it is gone. Pray for great joys in the coming, for everything is possible with God in the approaching New Year.

If you are visiting or live in the Chicagoland region, I highly suggest attending one of The Center's many activities, including The Yule Log Service.  You can find more information at The Center.  They have many different activities, including retreats, a petting farm, and various art classes.

Homekeeping

My dad always said that how you start the New Year will be how the New Year unfolds.  So, a day or two before the New Year begins, I tidy up my house because I want to have a clean house all year.  Sometimes, it works. 

There's a great site for homekeeping that I'd like to share with you.  It's FlyLady.net.  If you are having trouble getting organized, this website is great!

Recipe


I tasted candied fruit today, and it melted in my mouth.  For easy to follow instructions, please go to Garden of Eating's website.  Mike at Chicago Mikes Garden brought some to work for me to taste.  Yumm!!!
 
God Bless You in the Coming New Year - It's Going to be a Great Year!
Aunt Janet

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Do You Have a Hole in Your Shoe?

Walk a mile in your brother’s shoes
before you begin to judge him.
Anonymous



2009 is ending, and, needless to say, I am happy to see it go.  Hardships were fought, lessons were learned, and many tears were shed.  Because we have a merciful and loving God, I  declare that 2010 will be a good year. 

We don't know what a person feels and experiences unless we have walked in their shoes.  God made me experience these life stresses to teach me, and to help others.  I understand.  I can relate to someone who has had the woes I have experienced, and I can imagine those that have had other problems.  I have walked in the same, or similar, shoes.

My husband has a hole in the bottom of his shoe, and he has been complaining about it everytime it rains and snows.  Come to think about it, he has been avoiding going anywhere in this snow because he doesn't want to have cold and wet feet.  A Christmas gift will buy him new shoes.

So many of us are going through life trials and tribulations.  For me, I wish there weren't so many.  My trials may be different than yours, may seem trivial to yours, and you may think that there are better ways to handle my problems.  Sometimes, like my husband, I avoid going certain places or to different areas in my life to avoid further pain and discomfort.  Like many, I handle what God and I can handle today, avoiding letting my feet get cold and wet.

If you have holes in your shoes, know that God will take care of them.  He will provide a way to get new shoes, or get the worn ones fixed.  Yes, He may say "Buy new shoes instead of paying that bill", but He is the one that provides, and He will take care of that bill.  He may give you a friend if the hole you have is in your heart.  He may give you peace if your life has been filled with turmoil.  I do pray that He will send someone who has walked in my shoes to show me the path that is dry and warm, and comfortable enough for my feet.

2010 will be a good year - for you and I!  We end the year throwing out the battered and worn shoes of yesterday.  We start the year believing that God will take care of us, and provide the means and knowledge of the achieving His goals.  I pray for wisdom for you and me in 2010!

Money Savings

Everyone laughs at me, but I collect the bows on presents for later use.  You need to put them in a box loosely, so they don't get flattened.  For bigger bows, I will put used tissue paper in the loops to keep them fluffy.  It's a small way that I save money for the following year.

And don't forget to save your Christmas cards to make gift tags next year.  You can find it at my Christmas Magic post.

Also, now is the time to buy Christmas wrapping paper, bags, and bows.  After-Christmas sales are great!

Recipe

This potato casserole goes so well with ham.  Everyone seems to love it!

Cracker Barrel's Hash Browns Casserole - Copycat

2 lbs frozen hash browns
1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted
1 (10 1/4 ounce) can cream of chicken or mushroom soup
1 pint sour cream
1/2 cup onion, peeled and chopped
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

 Preheat oven to 350°F and spray an 11 x 14 baking dish with cooking spray.  Mix the above ingredients together, place in prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes or until brown on top.  Serves 10-12.

Aunt Janet's Famous Sayings

There are experiences and trials in my life that I believe God let me experience to help my family.  My niece and nephew have often heard me say "I believe that God put this in my life so I can help you.  If I never experienced it, I wouldn't know how to help you."
Aunt Janet

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Little Drummer Boy

Little Baby, pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum
That's fit to give the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,


Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum,
On my drum?
...
Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum

Me and my drum.
Katherine K. Davis


I feel like the little drummer boy.  I have no gifts to bring.  So, I try to find gifts to give that cost little if nothing.  I want to give, but I have nothing.

Then, I remember, Baby Jesus smiled at the little drummer boy when he gave a gift from his heart - his music.  To all my friends and family, I wish I could give you your heart's desires.  As you know, my finances are in shambles, with no sight of it getting better in the near future.  I have nothing material to give you, and I'm worn out from life's strains.  I give to you my love.  Even if I don't reach out, you are in my thoughts and prayers.  It's the only gift I have to give.  I love each and every one of you.

I want the Christmas spirit!  I see those around me with excited children to Santa, gifts to wrap, and places to go.  You are truly blessed - remember that!  There are those without children, with no gifts to wrap, and no where to go.  Use your blessing!  Cherish your blessing!  Thank God for giving you the opportunity to be woke up early in the morning by eager little feet running through the house!  Thank God for your spouse for putting up with your moods during the holidays, for helping to wrap presents, or for simply being present!  Your spouse is your gift from God.  Thank God that you have a family!

There are those who have never had children and long to be jumped on "Mommy!  Daddy!  Santa was here!"  There are those who wish they had gifts to give.  And there are those without family or friends.  Reach out!  Give the most precious gift of all - your love!

As I child, my favorite Christmas carol was "The Little Drummer Boy".  Little did I know that, through this song, God was preparing me for my life's experiences.  I have no gift to bring but myself.  And He smiled - it was a good gift!

Money Savings

Everyone loves a gift of homemade Christmas cookies!  Make a couple of different kind, arrange them on a Christmas plate from the dollar store, and wrap in plastic wrap and top with a bow.  I am sure the recipient will be so grateful!  (Between you and I, my favorite Christmas gift is my sister's chocolate chip cookies.  She makes the best!)

Recipe

This is a quick and easy "cookie" recipe to make, and you will find many eager helpers to unwrap the peanut butter cups.  Talking from experience, always get double the amount called for in the recipe.

Peanut Butter Bites

1 (15 oz.) pkg. brownie mix
1/3 c. hot water
1 egg
1/4 c. oil
48 miniature chocolate covered peanut butter cups (so get 96 - hehe)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine brownie mix, water, oil and egg. Beat well with a spoon. Fill paperlined mini muffin cups about 1/2 full. Press one peanut butter cup into batter in each cup. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until brownie is set. Cool completely.  (I've made them without the paper linings, but you need to grease the mini muffin pans.  Oh - I sell them if you are interested.  Email me!)


The Little Drummer Boy in Disguise,
Aunt Janet

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Best Gift - Family

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:
the presence of a happy family
all wrapped up in each other.
Burton Hillis




I'm so excited - my younger sister is going to celebrate Christmas Eve with our family. That is the best Christmas present ever!

Money Savings

Last year, I gave my nieces homemade bath salts for Christmas.  I experimented mixing different scented oils together, and came up with a couple they really liked.  Scented oils can be found at health food stores, or in the aromatherapy section at your drug store.  Here's the recipe:

1 cup sea or kosher salt
1/2 cup Epson salt
12 drops of scented oil
1/4 cup baking soda
food coloring (optional)

Blend both salts and oil in bowl; add baking soda and mix well.  Pour in bottle or jar, add a homemade label. 

Different fragrances and fragrance combinations I have tried:

Grapefruit and Peppermint - Refreshing and Stimulating
Tangerine and Peppermint - Refreshing and Calming
Grapefruit and Tangerine - Refreshing and Relaxing
Lavender - Calming and Soothing

Recipe

Chocolate Shortbread

4 oz. (4 squares) unsweetened baking chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tsps. vanilla
2 cups sifted cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped - if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease two large baking sheets.

Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over simmering water, stirring frequently.  Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.  In large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Beat in the melted chocolate and mix thoroughly.  Sift the flour with the baking powder.  Using a pastry blender, work the flour mixture into the butter mixture until it is thoroughly blended.  Mix the chopped walnuts into the dough by hand.

On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/2 inch.  Cut out the cookies into desired shapes using biscuit or cookie cutters.  Place the cookies 1 inch apart on the baking sheets.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cookies are light brown.  Remove the cookies from the baking sheet after 2 to 3 minutes, when they are still warm to touch, and cool on wire racks.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Magic

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.
Norman Vincent Peale

It was the one of those Decembers when you don't feel like celebrating.  Life was not going according to plan.  I couldn't get myself to decorate.

One day, I walked in the house to Christmas decorations everywhere.  Every room was decorated, and there were no Christmas storage boxes anywhere.  The tree was aglow, my precious decorations hanging from the branches.  Who did this?

It was magic.  The Christmas spirit came in the form of my nieces, and decorated my house.  I wept, knowing that my nieces loved me so much that they wanted to share the joy of Christmas with me in a way that touched deep inside my heart.  (They even took the boxes back to storage - so my house was nice and neat.)

If you are close to someone who isn't in the holiday spirit, bring some of the spirit to them.  You can decorate a miniature tree, bring them a wreath or a small nativity, ...  I know that when this was done for me, it was one of the kindest presents I ever received.  I love you, girls!

Recipe

This is one of my all time favorite cookies!
Toffee Bars

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cup flour
6 (1.05 oz. each) milk chocolate bars
2/3 cup crushed nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, sugar, and egg yolk. Add flour gradually, stirring until well blended. Spread dough in slightly greased 15.5" x 10.5" x 1" jelly roll pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until medium brown. After removing from oven, lay chocolate bars on top. Spread when melted. Sprinkle with nuts. Cool, and cut into bars.

Money Savings

Do you have a color printer?  An inexpensive and easy gift is to make note cards.  If you have a publishing or greeting card software, it's super easy to make note cards.  If you have word processing software, it's a little more difficult - the software's help will guide you.  Just search for greeting cards.  If you can't find it under help, Google the name of your software and then "greeting cards" in quotes.  Someone out there would have created a greeting card using your software.

You can choose one design, or you can print out several different kinds with similar designs.  For example, I'll print four of three different kinds of wild flowers note cards.  If the card will only be folded once, I use cardstock so that the colors don't bleed through.  if folded twice, I will use regular paper.  I usually print 10-12 cards and I include envelopes that are the same size as the card.  You can find the all you need at an office store.  Check out OfficeMax's Holiday Deals!  To make the gift more personalized, create return address labels with a small graphic that matches the graphic on your note card.

Then, take the cards and envelopes, wrap them together with raffia or ribbon, place them in a box or bag, and I'm sure they will be a much appreciated gift, because you made it from your heart!




Here is an example of a note card I made using Microsoft Publisher.  The graphic came from Microsoft ClipArt (savory).

Friday, December 11, 2009

Bah! Humbug!

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all year.
Charles Dickens

With Christmas fast approaching and little money to spend, the feeling of "Bah! Humbug!" came over me.  My inquisitive mind started spinning the wheels.  What did "Bah! Humbug" even mean?

Although this phrase in only found twice in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, it is the one of the most famous quotes of the main character, Ebenezer Scrooge.  Elizabeth Gregory states:
    Ebenezer Scrooge is a bad-tempered miser who values only money, and the story begins on the seventh anniversary of the death of his like-minded business partner, Jacob Marley. It is Christmas Eve, although this matters little to Scrooge, who sees Christmas as “a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer” (chapter one), and thus coins his now famous expression “’Bah! Humbug!’”
But what does it actually mean?  According to Wikipedia, humbug means "hoax or jest."  Dictionary.com states that bah means interjection, and thus Bah Humbug is an exclamation of contempt or annoyance.  In a Christmas Carol, Scrooge's nephew cried in a cheerful voice, "A merry Christmas, uncle!  God save you."  In response, Scrooge says "Bah! Humbug!" 

Ebenezer Scrooge is a penny-pinching miser in the first degree. He cares nothing for the people around him and mankind exists only for the money that can be made through exploitation and intimidation. He particularly detests Christmas... (David Perdue's Charles Dickens Page)  To convey his feelings about Christmas, he says "Bah! Humbug!", exclaiming his strong annoyance.

Luckily, the three spirits of Christmas help Scrooge see the error in his ways and he is transformed! 
    So when Dickens concludes that Scrooge "knew how to keep Christmas well" ... Ebenezer Scrooge kept Christmas well by becoming "as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world."
Well, I didn't feel Bah! Humbug! after all!  And I was amazed at how many sites reference and analyze Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol".  I found it very interesting, especially the social impact that the book had when Dickens wrote it, and the reasons why he wrote it.  I encourage you to check it out - Google "A Christmas Carol".

Recipe

Here is a cookie recipe that is a Christmas family tradition.  When I was young, my siblings and I were in charge of decorating the cookies, and the fun we had!  My sisters have passed on this tradition to their children, with my mom helping, of course!

Christmas Cream Cheese Cookies

4 oz. cream cheese
1-1/2 cups margarine
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
Colored sugar &/or candy sprinkles

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Blend cream cheese and margarine together.  Add sugar and vanilla a little at a time, and beat well.  Add flour slowly to mixture, and beat well.  Use a cookie press to make your choice of shapes, and sprinkle with colored sugar or candy sprinkles.  Bake 8-10 minutes.

Aunt Janet's Famous Sayings

I have acquired a touch of the flu - headache, achy bones, and just being plain tired.  As I was leaving for the doctor, my husband asked me to stop at the store for some groceries.  I have told my nieces and nephews countless times, reverberating their parents' orders, "If you're too sick to go to school (work), you're too sick to go anywhere else."  He decided that we didn't need the groceries today.

Happy Baking!
Aunt Janet

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Gift of Love

If there is no joyous way to give a festive gift,
give love away.
Unknown

God gave us His Son on the first Christmas - His love wrapped up in swaddling clothes.  Jesus was not born with riches, but instead born in a stable, born for those in poverty to lift them up, us up. 

"Christ found no room in the Holy of Holies that shone with gold, precious stones, pure silk and silver. He is not born in the midst of gold and riches, but in the midst of dung, in a stable where our sins were filthier than the dung. He is born on a dunghill in order to lift up those who come from it: 'From the dunghill he lifts up the poor' (Ps 113:7)" (Jerome, On the Nativity of the Lord, ACCSNT 3:39).

With so many unemployed, with too many financial obligations, this Christmas will be meager for many.  Just today, I heard from three women whose husbands' had lost their job.  I was thinking that I will not have another Christmas again, feeling sorry for myself until I heard their stories.  Two have young children.  Their social ranking does not encourage gift "donations", and their pride probably wouldn't accept it.  Yet, they are in need.

My sister recently shared her motherly advice with me.  I cannot quote her verbatim, but the idea is "It is better to give then receive, for in giving, you feel more contentment, more peace."  It doesn't have to be new or tangible gifts.  Gifts from the heart - helping someone with a project, making homemade gifts, sharing time with someone who is lonely, ... - are the most loved gifts.  For those that have, look around you, see who needs, and be Santa.  No one sees him, but he comes.  The children would just think that the door was locked, the chimney had a bird's nest, or a fire was burning in the fireplace, but Santa didn't forget them.  He just had to leave the gifts at the door.  And for the parents, they will not have to be humbled, but will rejoice that God does really care.  He sends angels!

Money Savings Tip

In the next couple weeks, I will give ideas to save money at Christmas, and give ideas for homemade gifts.

Christmas wrapping is an added expense to Christmas.  One way to save money is to make gift tags out of Christmas cards.  When I was young, my mom would sit with us, and make tags.  We would cut pretty pictures from the cards, in different shapes, ovals, circles, or around the edges.  Then we would cut construction paper to match the cards we just cut, put a punch in both, and tie a bow around them to hold them together.  It was fun, and it saved money.  Every year I save my Christmas cards with the hope of making tags for the following year.

Another idea is to use paper bags.  You can decorate them with glitter and cut-outs made from cookie cutters or traced from a book, or put a fancy bow on them.  You can cut them so you can wrap the gift, or just use it as a gift bag. Use your imagination and create.  If it's pretty, they may even save it to put a gift in next Christmas.

Recipe

I thought it would be fun to give a cookie recipe in each of my posts before Christmas.  Some of the recipes I have posted before, but many will be new.

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

1 egg

1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
Chocolate Kisses

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat above ingredients until well blended. Shape into 1 inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and immediately put on chocolate Kiss in center of each cookie. Makes about 18 cookies.
 
Enjoy!
Aunt Janet

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkeys - Happy Thanksgiving!

Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.
Henry Van Dyke
Happy Thanksgiving! 

In my family, there has been an ongoing debate whether there is a difference between domestic turkeys and wild turkeys.  My niece simply does not believe that there are wild turkeys.  She says "Turkeys are turkeys."  Well, in rebuttal, I will post pictures and testimony, showing the difference between these breeds of turkeys.

Domesticated Turkey Pictures





      Wild Turkey Picture



Second, I have found numerous documentation that says there is a difference between wild and domesticated turkeys.

From http://www.bowhunting.net/, regarding the physical traits of each turkey:
Domestic turkeys are incapable of flying or even running very fast; they make easy pickings for any predator in nature. Their neck skin, or wattles, are heavier. Snoods, the finger-like appendage that hangs over the bill, are longer and breasts much larger and broader. The domestic also possesses a temperament suited to confinement.
Wild turkeys are sleek, alert and built for speed and survival. Its senses are sharpened through generations of living in a harsh, unforgiving environment. A wild turkey that loses its caution could become a predator’s dinner. This constant state of caution has made the wild turkey one of the toughest game animals in the world to hunt or even photograph.
From http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/pets/turkey.htm,
There are many different breeds of turkeys, however there are two varieties, domestic and wild. The wild turkey lives and breeds in the wild and some are kept as pets. It can fly and is said to be smarter than the domestic. The domestic turkey are the type eaten on thanksgiving and they cannot fly. The domestic and wild turkeys are physically different. Domestic turkeys are much larger than the wild turkeys. Wild turkeys have brown tipped tails, while the domestic is white. A wild turkey is much faster than the domestic turkey. The fastest wild turkey can run up to 35 mph, while a full grown domestic turkeys pace is a slow walk (females are a little faster because they weigh less than the male). Wild Turkeys have better eyesight and hearing than domestic turkeys.
Domestic turkeys weigh about twice what a wild turkey weighs. Male Wild Turkeys grow to about four feet long, including the tail. Females grow to about three feet. A wild turkey can have a wings span up to 5 feet wide. Domestic turkeys are much heavier and larger than wild turkeys. Female domestic turkeys are a lot smaller than male domestic turkeys.

Wikipedia says:  The great majority of domesticated turkeys have white feathers, although brown or bronze-feathered varieties are also raised.

At http://www.goupstate.com/, they say that:  Domestic turkeys have a white tail tip.

At http://www.discovery.com/, I found:
Today's farm-raised, domestic turkeys are descendents of wild turkeys that thrived in Mexico and Central America. Domestic turkeys are generally bigger and heavier than wild turkeys, and they're bred to give hungry people more of their favorite cuts -- the breasts and drumsticks.

I think I have shown adequate evidence to show that there is a difference between domestic and wild turkeys.  Do you agree?  (I told you, Mandie!)

Easy Recipe

Here is an easy recipe that my family served the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Turkey a la King

1 can (10 3/4 oz.) Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 1/4 cups milk
3 cups cooked turkey, cubed

Heat until bubbling.  Serve over toast with mashed potatoes.  Yumm!

Giving thanks,
Aunt Janet











 

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Blessings in Small Packages

But as for you, be strong and do not give up,
for your work will be rewarded.
2 Chronicles 15:7

Ever stop and shout at the top of your lungs: "Stop the world and let me off.  I've had enough.  Enough, enough, ENOUGH!  Please make it all go away!" Then I usually pause and quietly ask: "Hi, remember me?  I try so hard.  Help me, please!"

Okay, I've had one of the decades.  You know, the kind that everything and anything goes wrong.  I've tried to keep a cheerful spirit, I've tried to be kind and turn the other cheek, I've gave to others, without them realizing or acknowledging it, and I've prayed so hard, asking, and then pleading for this to end.  I've:
  • even tried old wife's tails  (burying St. Joseph, a couple of times for good measure, being prepared "just in cause I got into an accident" or something doesn't go according to plan), 
  • contemplated superstitions (Did I break a mirror?  Since I rescued a black cat living in the building's basement, are they possessed?  Did anyone die in the buildings, and now that person haunts them?  I walked under a ladder millions of times while we were working on them - is that why I'm having bad luck?),
  • and even looked into my spirituality (Did I hurt someone and not know it?  Is it because I don't go to church every week?  Was there someone in need that I did not take care of?  Did I do something wrong and unchristian like?).
Well, in my journey to find answers, I did discover a couple of things.  The person that I may have not taken care of is myself.  I need to take time to enjoy the small things in life, and be gracious for the many good things that happen to me.  For example, this week I finally went into our piggy bank, and, even though there is negative in the bank, God keeps sending me money for daily living, so I'm never without what I truly need.  First the piggy bank - it bought gas to get me to work this week, and food so I could eat this week.  I've had a lot of friends buy jewelry, food, and kitchen gadgets from my businesses this week, so more money will be coming in shortly.  So, He has taken care of my needs this week.

I was getting tired of turning the other cheek.  Then I found the following thought -  "Why must we turn the other cheek? Why must we give our cloak to one who’s already stolen our coat? Maybe it is because we know that nothing can really harm us in the end. Sure, a slap on the cheek may hurt, but it would soon heal, if we believe and allow it to. Sure, we may have lost our coat and our cloak. But through the laws of the universe and the goodness of God, we shall recover whatever it is we may have lost… and much more."  Thanks Jocelyn Soriano, author of "I Take Off the Mask Blog".

Lastly, I learned that God sends family and friends when it seems intolerable.  Family that is there when you can't stop the tears, friends with like problems to complain with, friends who will treat you to a movie because you don't have any money, friends that will have a home show for you to help make money, and family and friends that will call just to see how you are doing.  All this in just one week.  I am truly blessed with giving and caring family and friends, and God is awesome.  He truly does take care of me!

Money Savings Tip

Have an emergency fund of $1000.00.  After reading numerous books and talking to many financial consultants, I've discovered how important this is.  Especially after this week.  Money ran out because a large check I received bounced nine days after I deposited it.  Which leads to my second tip...

After talking to the bank, I discovered that a deposited check could take up to two weeks to clear or be returned for insufficient funds.  So, even though you deposited the check at the beginning of the week, the money may not be in your account for two weeks.  If you keep this in mind, you will not bounce any checks that you write.  And, if you have an emergency fund, you will be prepared in case this ever does happen.

You may say, like me, I don't have $1000 to put in an emergency fund.  I was told to save half of what is left over from your living expenses, and put it into an emergency fund until I have the $1000.  Then, only touch this fund when emergencies arise - like a received check bouncing, a car breaking down, a washer on the fritz, etc.  A very valuable lesson.  I wish I learned it a couple of months ago.

Money Making Tips

Spread the word about your business.  In my case, I started to hand out catalogs, email out specials, and just talk to people about my situation.  Even though I still have major financial problems, the outpouring of support and orders really helps.  Thanks!  If you are interested in buying one of the products I sell (jewelry, tasty foods, or kitchen gadgets), please email me at auntjanetjwlr@sbcglobal.net.

One request - If you do your Christmas shopping through the internet, please start at my blog, and click away.  I get a small percentage of whatever sells.  I will be updating my business links this weekend.  So, you'll be able to shop, directly from my site, at Sears, Kmart, Kohls, Barnes and Nobles, and many more.  In appreciation for your help, I thank you!  No amount is too small to help a friend in need.

I am grateful,
Aunt Janet

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Indian Summer

... the Indian summer, attains its amplitude and heavenly perfection, -- the temperatures; the sunny haze; the mellow, rich delicate, almost flavoured air: Enough to live -- enough to merely be.
Walt Whitman

I love when Indian summer arrives.  We have experienced a little taste of the cold, the leaves have changed colors, and the days grow shorter.  Then, almost out of no where, the warmth returns one last time to tease us - to give us a brief time outdoors without the nipping cold begging us to go inside. 

Last weekend, we saw Indian summer.  We harvested the last of our fall crops, raked and burned leaves, and cleaned out the garden.  Maggie, our lab, sat patiently in the garden, waiting for brussel sprouts picked straight of the stalk or a cherry tomato that escaped the frost.  It was a simple and peaceful weekend.

Money Savings Tip

I just heard of a great way to save money.  Angel Food Ministries is a non-profit, non-denominational organization dedicated to providing food relief and financial support to communities throughout the United States.  There are no qualifications, minimums, income restrictions, or applications.  Simply go to their website, http://www.angelfoodministries.com/, and place your order on-line. 

What do you get?  For $30, you get a variety of fresh and frozen foods, enough to make a week's worth of food for a family of four.  I've been told that the food is good quality and delicious, and you won't believe how much you get.  The $30 Signature Box includes meats, vegetables, breakfast products, and some dairy items.  The average retail price for these items would be around $60.  They say that there is no second hand, damaged, or out-dated products.  In addition, the food selection changes each month.

They also have specials that vary from month to month.  This month's specials include 3 meat specials and 1 fresh fruit and veggie box.

Orders must be placed by a certain date, and items must be picked up at the designated site (usually a church) during a certain time frame.  For November 2009, for my area, orders must be placed by November 11th, and picked up at the church on Saturday, November 21st between 9:30 and 10:30 AM.  The dates may be different in your area.  If the order is not picked up, many churches donate the food to those in need.  In addition, Angel Food Ministries encourages using the money you save to help others in need.

This is a wonderful ministry, and one that many can benefit from.  I placed my order tonight, and have encouraged family and friends to place their order (so we can carpool to pick it up).

Recipe

My mother-in-law cans applesauce every year, and, if my nieces find out we brought some home, they are over in a heartbeat.  I even have to hide the jars, or they would disappear (after one of their visits).  Trying to remember it from memory, I think that the following recipe may be pretty close.

Homemade Applesauce

Apples - I use apples that are sweet
Water
Cinnamon, to taste
Sugar, if needed

The amount of apples you use will depend on if you want it for a meal or two, or for canning.  You will get about 12-16 quarts of applesauce per bushel of apples.

Wash, peel, and cut apples into chunks.  I usually use my apple wedger, and then cut each wedge into about 4 pieces. 

Fill pot with about 1 inch of water.  Place cut up apples in pot.  Turn heat to high, and when it starts really cooking, turn it down to medium until the apples are soft.

Put the softened apples through a sieve, or, if you like really chunky applesauce, use a potato masher to mash to the consistency that you like.  Mix in cinnamon to taste.  You can also add sugar if needed.  Just remember, add a little at a time.  Rule of thumb:  You can keep adding, but you can't take away once it's added, so just a little at a time.

If you are canning, please follow the directions for canning applesauce in your canning cookbook.  If you're just making it for dinner, you can either eat it warm or cool it for later use, and enjoy!

My Pets

For those of you who follow my blog, thank you for your prayers and patience during my time of loss.  She fought until the end.  I saw the pain in her eyes, and I knew.  The vet said that she was a very brave girl, and stuck it out until the pain was too great.  Just to let you know, we miss her terribly but we are adjusting.  Yes, Maggie still looks for Puppy to go outside, and we have not picked up her bowl yet, but the memories of her keep us going.  At first, I kept myself so busy that I did not have time to grieve.  I did not write because I knew my feelings would surface.  I was afraid that if I cried, the tears would not end.  She was definitely my baby, my Puppy.  Towards the end of her stay with us, I couldn't leave the room without her barking for me to come and get her (she needed help standing up).  So, my friends, thank you again for your understanding.  I know that, along with those who have gone before her, Puppy is waiting for me at Rainbow Bridge.

Oh - by the way, Maggie is trying to tell her dad that she is mature and old enough to have her own puppy to mother and teach, just like Puppy did with her.  She misses her friend, mentor, and dog-mom very much.  Usually, she's the first out of bed.  Lately, we've had to go wake her up.  Also, we believe that she's having more seizures due to her grief.  Puppy played with her until the end, not as rough and no running around, but laying on the ground, barking, growling, and play-biting.  Puppy was always very verbal with Maggie.  One thing I did learn is that Maggie followed Puppy everywhere, not me :(  Now, Maggie shares her time between her dad and me.  But, dad, she needs a friend that would play with her the way dogs play - barking, growling, biting, running and jumping.  Are you listening to your Maggie, dad?

So, hopefully, I'm back.  That is, after I get through everything I scheduled for the rest of the year.  (I am a big distractor - I'll keep myself so busy that I don't deal with what really needs my attention.)

Aunt Janet

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy All Hallow's Eve

Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen,
Voices whisper in the trees, "Tonight is Halloween!"
Dexter Kozen



Growing up Catholic, I knew that Halloween was the night before All Saint's Day.  Halloween was the night were ghosts and goblins came up and haunted the earth.  We dressed up not to celebrate the day, but to confuse the ghosts.  As I became older, I learned that All Saint's Day was a Catholic holiday that was created to offset a pagan holiday, Halloween.

Out of curiousity, I did a little research.  I learned that Halloween or All Hallow's Eve was a Celtic holiday called Samhain, and pronounced sow-in, usually celebrated on October 31st, the day before the Celtic New Year, November 1st.  The festival of Samhain celebrates the end of the "lighter half" of the year and beginning of the "darker half".  The ancient Celts believed that the border between this world and the Otherworld became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits (both harmless and harmful) to pass through. The family's ancestors were honoured and invited home whilst harmful spirits were warded off. It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks. Their purpose was to disguise oneself as a harmful spirit and thus avoid harm. Halloween, Wikipedia

In 835, Pope Gregory IV moved the celebration for all the martyrs (later all saints) from May 13 to November 1. The night before became known as All Hallow’s Even or “holy evening.” Eventually the name was shortened to the current Halloween. On November 2, the Church celebrates All Souls Day.  The purpose of these feasts is to remember those who have died, whether they are officially recognized by the Church as saints or not. It is a celebration of the “communion of saints,” which reminds us that the Church is not bound by space or time. Halloween, Faith-filled Family

I personally never liked scary costumes, but now I understand their purpose - they were made to scare off the harmful spirits.  Many children do not realize this, so I guess it's part of my job to let them know what they are doing.  When they just thought of how horrid, gory, and scary they could look, these little demons,  witches, and vampires were warding or scaring off bad stuff, so only good stuff can happen to them.  Turn something negative into something positive - yah.

Oh, I found out that the tradition of carving pumpkins really started as the tradition of carving turnips.  The Celts would carve out the inside of turnips, and put a lighted candle in them, to ward off bad spirits.  When the Irish Catholics came to America, they found that pumpkins were a larger substitute for the turnip.  Interesting.

Easy Recipe

I know that I have used this recipe before, but it is so good, and appropriate for this time of the year.

Candy Apple Salad


8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream until blended. 
Fold in 8 oz whipped topping.
Mix in 3 cups of chopped apples, and 1 cup of nuts if desired.

Fairy Tales


Will the princess' kiss turn the toad into a handsome prince?
Really, she's a lion, and he's a dinosaur.

Aunt Janet's Famous Sayings

Halloween is a children's holiday.  Being childless, coupled with the fact that I hardly get any trick or treaters and I have really good candy, it's always been a difficult holiday for me.  So, whenever one of my nieces or nephews surprise me, I always tell them "You are my favorite niece/nephew because you remembered me on Halloween, and I don't have to cry."  My nieces and nephews are aged 16 and above, so if one of them comes over for Halloween, it's special (and they want to steal all my chocolate candy)!!

Happy All Hallow's Eve,
Aunt Janet

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Daddy's Goodbye

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: Puppy
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Make a Smilebox scrapbook

My wife likes to say that Puppy was brought to us by God.  I don't know about that but by God I love her.

One day, while working in the yard, a little girl, dragging a dog on a leash, came to me.  She told me this dog was a stray and her parents wouldn't let her keep it.  Knowing we owned dogs, she wondered if we would take care of her puppy.  I asked Janet if that would be alright and she said yes.

Being a stray, Janet and I set out to find the owner of this energetic puppy.  We printed and posted “Found” posters in all the usual places around town.  In the mean time, we had to call this dog something, so we called her what she was, Puppy.

Time past and no one claimed her. Janet and I now had a new member of the family, and it was now time to give her a name.  All the traditional names, like “Spot” or “Rover”, just didn't fit.  The more creative names, like “Tiger” or “Killer”, just would get no response from her, but say “Puppy, what would you like to be named?” and her ears immediately perked up. Thus “Puppy” became a member of our family.

Now, it's been 11 years of pure joy “Puppy” has given Janet and me. Five months ago, “Puppy” was diagnosed with cancer. Since then, we have struggled with the question “when is it time to say goodbye?”

Several months ago, I first saw a TV commercial produced by the SPCA. It depicts several abused and abandoned dogs and cats. Each one reached through the TV screen with their sad and wanting eyes to say “help me.” Their expressions touched me to the verge of tears, and, whenever this commercial comes on, I have to change the channel, because their eyes talk to me of the pain and loneliness.

So, last Sunday afternoon, I looked into Puppy's eyes, and they talked to me of her love for Janet, and also that it was time to say goodbye. That evening, we respected her wishes with all the love we could give.

Goodbye Puppy and we love you!
Daddy (Uncle Todd)

P.S. Thanks Jess for typing.  Aunt Janet wouldn't have been able to do it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

On Angel's Wings



Eleven years ago or so, an Angel was sent to me straight from heaven. 
Head on my shoulder, on Angel's wings she flew back to heaven tonight.
Puppy, my baby, my companion, my best friend, went back to heaven tonight!

Puppy - Remember that I will always love you,
Mom

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Time of Harvest

For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together.
For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.
Edwin Way Teale


I went into the garden today.  With the brisk wind at my face, and two sweatshirts keeping me warm, I gathered the end of the harvest.  The frost might come tonight.

It's a time of harvesting the fruits of your labor, of preserving the fruits of your harvest, of readying oneself for the cold winter months.  In preparation, I have taken this week off - to harvest, preserve, slow down, and enjoy the bounty of His Goodness.

I picked every vegetable that would be harmed by the frost.  As the leaves fell around me, I remember.  Autumn brings a sense of warming to my spirit.  To me, it brings back memories of falling in love.

I found a quote by von fiona.  "The summer months are ideal for flirting, but the time for falling in love has only just begun."  It's a time for cuddling, keeping warm, holding hands while walking in the midst of the autumn color, or cocooning indoors talking and learning about each other.  The cooling temperature draws us closer together for warmth, not just of the body, but of the emotions. 

Summer flirts bring small jolts of happiness felt in the depths of your being.  Autumn loves bring long waves of warming of your heart.

I love autumn with all its majestic color.  It's a time for harvesting, preserving, enjoying the warmth of the home, and falling in love!

Gardening

Today, I picked the last of the harvest - a few cucumbers and peppers, all tomatoes, red and green, and the rest of the beans.  For drying, I cut down my herbs that were planted in the garden, and brought in the herb pots for winter flavoring.

I will wrap the green tomatoes in newspaper, put them in a paper bag, and place the bag in a cool place, where they can ripen slowly.

This week, I will pull up all the dead plants, either put them in the compost pile or burn them, and  rack up the ground.  I'll also check on my cold weather plants to see if they are ready for picking.  And I'll plant the mums I haven't gotten around to plant yet.

Money Making Tip

At the end of this week, two friends and I are having a "Celebrate Fall" sale at our township hall.  We will be selling our direct sales products to whoever would like to attend.  I feel that time as gone by too quickly, and I am behind in my preparations.  The hall is rented, some products have been ordered, the ad has been placed in the local papers, and the invitations are printed.  I need to pass out the invitations, send out emails, and go to local businesses to ask them if I can post a sign.  I'm also thinking about what I should do for outside signs, and where I should place them.  Even though I am starting this vacation week feeling overwhelmed, I know that everything will fall into place, and we will make contacts and sales. 

If you have a home business, think of getting together with a couple more direct sales friends and putting together a holiday sale.  This is a way to make extra money for the holidays, and hopefully expand your clientele.  If anything, you will have loads of fun with your friends.

By the way, if you live anywhere near Braidwood, Illinois, and you would like to hear more about this event, please email me at auntjanetjwlr@sbcglobal.net.  The companies that will be represented are:  Mary Kay (my party), and my 3 businesses (tasty foods, cool kitchen gadgets, and beautiful jewelry).  You know I'm not allowed to say it in my blog. 

Here is a site that talks about the beautiful jewelry - Click Here!  If you'd like to know about the tasty food, become my friend on Facebook - Click Here!  This company posts on my page all the time.  As for my kichen gadgets, you'll just have to think about that one.  If you would like a catalog, or to place an order, please email me at auntjanetjwlr@sbcglobal.net.

Free Stuff

Free Sample of Kelloggs(r) Special K cereal
Free sample of Honey Nut Cheerios(r)
Free Sample of Nestle Abuelita Granulado

Preserving the Harvest,
Aunt Janet

Monday, October 05, 2009

Blaming Others?

When you blame others, you give up your power to change.
Dr. Robert Anthony

How many times do you want to blame your situation on someone else, when, in reality, you allowed the situation to happen? Maybe you innocently put your trust in someone. Or you did not have the knowledge of how a person truly was. Perhaps, you felt that another person's inappropriate actions gave you a right to act inappropriately yourself, but you reasoned that it was all their fault.

At times, it felt like someone else was to blame. Yes, maybe their actions or words were wrong, but it's up to you whether you pick up the ball - whether you take it to heart, whether you do something to change the situation, and /or whether you let them get in the way of you changing.

It makes me think of how so many people blame their spouse, child, parent, or business partner for getting them in the financial situation they are in. They bounce checks, but you let them keep the checkbook, or you keep your name on the checkbook. You co-sign a loan, and they don't pay. You were the one that signed the loan papers, not them, and you are equally responsible for the loan. Your business collapses because your partner lets his family take things for free. You went into business with this partner, it was your decision.

I could go on and on with examples - infidelity, addiction, untrustworthiness. Yet, in all these, something drew us into the relationship, something attracted us to the person, it was our choice. When we let go of the blame game, we, alone, take control over our life. If a spouse cheats once, okay maybe it was a mistake, twice, they have a problem with commitments, they are easily bored, ... If we decide to sit on our pity pot and say it's all their fault, how is it their fault when we are the ones that tolerate the action. It becomes our issue, something that we have to learn to set boundaries with, and only we have the power to change it.

Now, there is the opposite side of the coin - when you take blame for other's mistakes. After having a long talk with my sister about the perils of going to a Catholic school, I started writing this blog with the intention of trying to figure out why I say I'm sorry for things I had no control over, and why I always try to figure out what I did wrong in a situation, but somehow, when I began to write, the other side of the coin was facing up. I guess some time in the future, I will take on the topic of how the nuns put the fear of God in us. For anyone who went to a Catholic school, you understand. For the rest, know that the nuns sometimes used threats of eternal damnation to get us to act a certain way, and it's stuck in our heads even now. (Okay - not all of them - just the mean ones.  hehe)

Money Savings Tip

Because of the mild abrasiveness and cleaning agent, toothpaste is a great stain fighter.  "Stick with standard paste, not gel, and steer clear of formulas designed for tartar control and whitening," says Siegel-Maier. "These often contain chemicals and additional abrasives that can damage items such as fine silver."

You can use it to clean:
  • Acrylic accessories (such as desktop organizers): Squeeze toothpaste onto a toothbrush and work it into scratches until they diminish. Wipe residue off with a cloth.
  • Chrome fixtures: To polish faucets and taps in the kitchen or bathroom, smear a dime-size amount of toothpaste onto them, then buff with a soft cloth until they shine.
  • Scuffed linoleum: Reduce marks by scrubbing them with toothpaste and a dry cloth until no toothpaste residue remains.
  • Piano keys: Rub each key carefully with a damp cotton swab and a dollop of toothpaste. Wipe dry and buff with a clean cloth.
  • Tarnished silverware: Put a dab of toothpaste on a soft cloth, rub it onto the tarnish, then rinse with water and dry with a clean cloth.
  • Steam iron: Mineral deposits can stain an iron's soleplate. Apply a dab of toothpaste and work it into the plate. Use a clean cloth to remove residue.
(I found this on a website, but failed to write down the site.  So, to whomever's site I borrowed this from, thank you and all credit goes to you.  I would site you if I could remember when this came from.)

Easy Recipe

For the gardeners that do their second planting of plants from the cabbage family, I love this salad and hope you do, too!

1 head of broccoli, chopped
1 head of cauliflower, chopped
1 red onion, diced
1 lb. uncooked bacon, cooked until crispy, or 1 pkg cooked bacon
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sugar


Crumble bacon.  Mix broccoli, cauliflower, bacon, onion, and cheese together.

In separate bowl, mix mayonnaise and sugar together.  Pour over salad and mix.  Refrigerate for one hour, stir again, and serve.

Aunt Janet's Famous Sayings

Okay, I have a brain freeze and I need help.  There's a word similar to dumb or stupid that means being ignorant of the fact or lacking the knowledge to make a rational decision.  When my nieces and nephews were young and bickering (yes, they did do plenty of that), they sometimes would use this word against their sibling.  They used as if it meant stupid or dumb, and I use to always correct them with the appropriate meaning - ignorant of the fact or lacking knowledge.  I have a total brain freeze, and, even after countless phone calls to grown nieces and nephews (and my siblings), I still can't remember.  Help!

Warming up,
Aunt Janet

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Don't Cry - Relax

The time to relax is when you don't have time for it.
Jim Goodwin

My husband is making me relax tonight. No work, no phone calls, nothing that requires thinking. I've had a bad week, and it's only Tuesday.

It started on Friday when I found out that the eviction of the grocery store was scheduled for Monday, the same day I had 2 zoning violation hearings. The Cook County Sheriff only gives you a day notice for evictions. Unable to reach a lock smith - the phone numbers I had collected were disconnected (I had previously received quotes from 4 lock smiths), we worked on getting ready for the violation hearings. Last week, the inspector had cleared up a couple of violation questions that we were confused about, so we did what he told us to do.

Then, yesterday at 6:30 a.m., I headed to Chicago for the eviction of the grocery store in my money pit. Because I didn't have keys (long story - don't ask), the deputies and fire department broke my door. Even though I pleaded for a locksmith, they used the jaws of life to open it. The frame is bent, the lock is broke, and the gate was broke. I couldn't leave until I could lock the door. A welder came to fix the gate, a locksmith came to tell me he couldn't fix the lock, a door salesman came to tell me the glass door would cost me $1000 to replace, and my husband yelled at me for letting them break the door. I cried.

Luckily, I, an amateur on glass doors and locks, figured out how to lock the door. The plate was in the way of the locking mechanism. With the help of the welder (thank God - I had no tools) who had fixed the gate, I removed the plate and the door would lock.

Since I couldn't leave the store, I missed my zoning violation hearings. Luckily, the attorney was very understanding, and said she could handle it. I was crying. (When you are out of $$$, and you have buildings that are over 100 years old, it's bound to happen, especially to me. 11 of the 15 violations were dismissed. The remaining four I cannot afford to fix. I cried some more.)



After the door was temporarily fixed, I began throwing out the expired food, which was probably 99% of all the food left. (Do you know how hard it is to find expiration dates on some items?)  Luckily, no mice or other nasty pests! As I'm filling giant garbage bags, I thought of all the hungry people that could have been fed. I filled up 8 of these giant bags with just potato chips. I could only put a couple in the garbage cans because I have to leave the other tenants room for their garbage. On the sly and feeling guilty while I did it, I did sneak two bags into a dumpster in my home town - dumpsters I knew would never get filled in the week. (My luck - someone saw me, and I'll be called on it.)

When I was going in and out of the building, I noticed that the lock is broke on the porch. Luckily, I figured this out right away or I would have locked myself out of the building. The lock will lock with a key, but not unlock. I cried again.

After crying to my real estate agent while I was asking for a lock smith reference, he asked me to change the light bulbs in the basements. On the way home, I remembered that I forgot to take care of the one thing he asked me to do. And, to top it off, I put a for rent sign in the window. When I went to lock the gate, I noticed you could not see my whole phone number, but the porch door was locked, so I couldn't get in to fix it.

After picking up the broke ceiling tiles in another unit, which were caused by a water leak in the above apartment, I noticed that the boyfriend of my tenant who fell down the stairs and broke both of her wrists, did not put the skid things on the stairs. I needed to find out why. I got in the car, called my chiropractor to tell her I would never make it back in time for my appointment, and then proceeded to cry all the way home, which isn't a smart thing to do in Chicago's rush hour.

I came home to work on paperwork that had to be done, took a bath because I smelled like potato chips, and went to bed way to late. Puppy woke me up in the middle of the night, and would not stop barking until I took her out. For those that aren't familiar with Puppy, she has bone cancer in her leg, so letting her out is getting her off the bed (I know - I'm a softy), getting dressed appropriately to go outside, picking her up, carrying her down the stairs, waiting for her to do her business, picking her up to go in the house, waiting for her to get a drink of water, and then picking her up to go back to bed.

Lack of sleep, tears, and stress cause migraines. Today, I went to work, feeling like I was hung over. When the pain got to severe, I went home and went to bed.

When I woke up, my husband had dinner made, and told me I was to relax and do nothing. After some protests, I agreed he was right. I needed to relax or I would be good for nothing.

At this moment, I am thinking that he is so right, I needed to do nothing, and I am laughing. Life happens. My day yesterday would have been a good sitcom. Nothing went according to plan. Nothing ever goes according to plan. God is the only one in control. Even with the most precise laid out plans, I cannot control what happens around me. I just need to know that He is there, and, if I put my faith in Him, everything, no matter how messed up, is going according to His plan. My husband's insistence on taking the rest of the day off was God telling me, through my spouse, I needed to relax. The million and one things that I need to do can wait, and will work out, according to His great plan. And I laughed.  If I would have laughed yesterday instead of crying, I might have not had a migraine today.

Money Savings Tips

Salt's granular texture makes it perfectly suited for scouring. Even though you can use sea salt or kosher salt, table salt is the cheapest. You can clean:
  • Artificial plants and flowers - Place the fake blooms inside a paper bag and pour in salt. Close the bag and shake vigorously. The salt will dislodge accumulated dust and dirt.
  • Glassware - Salt won't scratch the way a scouring pad can. To get out stubborn stains, add some salt to the wet glassware for extra abrasion and scrub. Salt and water is great for cleaning burnt glass coffee pots.
  • Greasy pots and pans - Sprinkle salt on cookware to absorb excess grease. Dump out the salt before washing as usual. (Not recommended for nonstick cookware.)
  • Spills in the oven - Pour salt on the oven spill to soak it up. When the oven is cool, wipe with a damp sponge.
  • Stained teacups and coffee mugs - Sprinkle salt on the outside of a lemon peel, and rub the stained area till clean.

Aunt Janet's Famous Sayings


Even though I realize the majority of us go through our tribulations, it seems like things don't ever go according to plan for me. Now, it's not always negative things that happen to me (like yesterday). How likely is it that an eviction would be scheduled on the same day as violation hearings, but you don't find out about it until the evictions are posted the day before? Unique and positive things also happen to me. Getting lost once, we came upon the most beautiful mum farm. All you could see was color for miles.

My one friend calls them Janet-isms - if it's going to happen, it will happen to Janet. So, one of my favorite sayings is: "This could only happen to me," and I laugh.

Relax and Laugh,
Aunt Janet

Monday, September 07, 2009

Storytelling

Our stories matter... Your stories matter… For you never know how much of a difference they make and to whom.
Caroline Joy Adams

My dad was a great story teller. I loved sitting at the table listening to him recall memories of his youth. There was the time that his dad brought him a pet baby alligator. It didn't move all day. When my grandfather came home, he asked where the alligator was. My dad, thinking it was dead, had buried it. My grandfather explained to him that it was just hibernating. Well, when my dad dug it up, it was definitely dead.

My dad grew up during the Great Depression in Capone's Chicago. His stories ranged from raising chickens, helping family, to a stolen truckload of candy that somehow wound up in the garage - I think they were Baby Ruths. Let's say my grandfather might have been a little shady. His stories included World War II, where he served as a tail gunner in the Army's Air Corp. Having been stationed in Africa, when he was returning to the States, he tried to bring 2 monkeys home for my cousins, but he got stopped.  He saw Mussolini and his mistress hanging.  The Army fed them steak before each mission.

I could sit there for hours listening to his stories. He has been gone for twenty six years this Labor Day. Only 3 out of 13 grandchildren were born at the time. We were all still so young. I had just graduated college, and I was the middle child. I miss the storytelling.

Storytelling seems to be becoming a lost art. Everyone is so busy, running from here to there, with so much on their plate that we forget to tell the stories. Stories of where we came from, stories of lessons learned, stories to be proud of whom we are. I am trying to continue the storytelling - telling my dad's stories to my nieces and nephews, so that they will have a glimpse of this wonderful man. I also know that for the storytelling to continue, I need to add my story, the story of growing up in my family. Like when my brother and sister thought it would be fun to use the laundry shoot as a slide, why we called my sister chimp, or how every night my dad would yell upstairs "Wake up Judy and tell her to go to sleep." She always fell asleep on top of the bed with her clothes on. Her kids say she still does it.

What stories are you passing on? What stories do you have to tell? Share them!

Money Savings Tip

Here are some cheap stain removers from stuff you have laying around the house. Always test the stain removal product in a hidden area first to make sure it does not damage fabric in any way (bleach, fade, etc.).

  • Ink - Hairspray - Put piece of paper towel behind fabric.  Spray spot with hairspray until saturated.  Blot with paper towel. Launder as usual, but check to make sure stain is gone before you dry. If it isn’t, repeat above steps until stain is gone.
  • Gum – Freezer – Put the clothing in the freezer for about 6 hours. Chip off the gum from the clothing. If any gum remains, use vinegar and a toothbrush and scrub off remaining gum. Launder as usual.
  • Rust – Rhubarb – Cut rhubarb stalks in one inch pieces, put in water and bring to boil. Let stand for 15 minutes. Take rust stain clothing and let it soak in solution for 1-24 hours depending on stain. OR Lemon Juice and Salt – Keep in mind this method can bleach the clothing. Sprinkle stain with salt, then squeeze lemon juice over stain. Spread the garment in the sun to dry.
I’d love to hear your cheap stain removers. Please post any that you may have to share.

Aunt Janet's Famous Sayings

I picked up a saying from my dad.  When we were young and slightly misbehaving, he would say stop it, cut it out, behave yourself, or whatever was appropriate "Or I'll put my nose between your teeth and I won't let go."  It would always make us stop what we were doing, think about what he said, and tell him that it doesn't make sense.  Smart man - he got the results he wanted.

You have something to share,
Aunt Janet

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Preserving the Harvest

Putting food by is the antidote for running scared.
Janet Greene

It's canning day tomorrow!  Canning has become a past time in my household.  Each year, the vegetables are harvested, preserved, and enjoyed.  Salsa and tomatoes, sweet relish and pickles, green beans and tomato sauce, and something new, maybe ketchup or mint jelly.

Starting at a young age, my nieces gathered at my home, sometimes one, sometimes all, dicing and slicing, scalding and peeling, jarring and canning.  When making tomato sauce, they flocked to my house, fighting over who could crank the juicer next.  (No lie!) 

They have learned the pleasure of canning.  When you can, you gather to celebrate the harvest.  It is a time of reconnecting, working together, and enjoying this shared time.  When we are preserving the harvest, the kitchen is filled with chatting and laughing.

Putting food by or preserving food is the antidote for running scared.  Not only does it save money (so your cupboard isn't bear in winter), it brings family and friends together, to talk and help each other sort through the many complexities of life.  Your loved ones help ease the fear of everyday problems, so you won't be running scared.

Money Savings


Canning really does save money. According to Thomas Bewick, national program leader for horticulture of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, for tomatoes, “If you harvest 30 pounds at $2 per pound, that plant is worth $60,” he says. “But it only cost $2.90 to buy the plant, a few cents for water and 15 cents for the fertilizer.”


The initial investment for jars and canning supplies may seem a little expensive, but they will last you for years.  You can find these canning items at your mom's basement collecting dust, a local hardware store, grocery store, garage sale, flea market, or department store, such as K-Mart.  I'll usually load up on lids at the end of the season when they go on sale.  Also, let others know that you are canning and looking for jars.  My family has contributed boxes and boxes (and more boxes) of jars.  For the preserved gifts that we give, I ask them to return the jars after they have enjoyed whatever is in the jar.




Here is our canning cabinet.  My husband's goal is to can 50 pints of green beans.  So far, he's up to 42 pints.  Doesn't it look pretty?  And it saved us $$.  He also have made relish, jam, and pickles.  I made the salsa.  (He's a self-employeed carpenter, so you can guess how busy he is right now.)  Tomorrow I'll be canning more salsa and tomatoes.  If someone stops by to help, I might even try making some zucchini pickles.  (Hey Jill - where's my zucchini bread you promised to make me from all the zucchini I gave you?)


Easy Recipe


This is a great recipe to make on canning day, when you are too busy to cook a meal, and your stove has canning pots boiling away. You just throw it in the crock pot, and let it cook all day long.


Slow Cooker Pulled Pork


1 (2 pound) pork tenderloin
1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle root beer
1 (18 ounce) bottle your favorite barbecue sauce
8 hamburger buns


Place the pork tenderloin in a slow cooker; pour the root beer over the meat. Cover and cook on low until well cooked and the pork shreds easily, 6 to 7 hours. Note: the actual length of time may vary according to individual slow cooker. Drain well. Stir in barbecue sauce. Serve over hamburger buns.


Aunt Janet's Famous Quotes


This is a new one, never quoted before.  "I will share my salsa or pickles with whoever helps.  So, get your butt over here, and start chopping."  I enjoy your company, and desperately need your help! 


All are welcome to help,
Aunt Janet

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Listen to the Silence & Hear

The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't being said.
~Author Unknown


I had one of those nights where I just did not understand what was being said to me. I kept asking questions, but still didn't get it. She became more persistent, trying to explain herself, sometimes loudly, but I still couldn't understand. After going through everything I thought was being said, I finally realized, she wasn't talking to me. She was talking to Maggie.

Okay - Puppy kept barking all night. One of those barks that is trying to tell you something. Puppy is dying of bone cancer, so I try to listen closely to what she is trying to say. Having been her mom for over eleven years, I usually get it. I understand her, and she understands me. But tonight was one of those nights that I just wasn't hearing her. After I asked her for the umpteenth time if she wanted to go out, she decided to take me up on it, only to trick Maggie so she'd get up and go to the door. Puppy then went to the spot where Maggie had been sleeping. All along, she wasn't talking to me - she just wanted Maggie to move. So, in the end, as Maggie continued to snore, she used me to help her communicate to Maggie "Get up! I want that spot, now!"

Now, content, she is sound asleep, and Maggie is bugging me. Not having as many years with her as Puppy, I don't completely understand her yet, but I think she wants to go out.

How many times do we communicate with others, but don't understand? Sometimes, we need to look at what isn't being said to completely understand. If I would really looked, I would have seen Puppy keep looking at Maggie. But, I didn't really look. Instead, I was caught up in what was being said. This wise old dog taught me a lesson today - what someone is trying to communicate is not always said in words, but also in actions and behavior.

Time Saving Tips

I hate paperwork! If someone would come to my house unexpectedly, they would find piles of paper. It's on the table, counter, credenza, dresser - everywhere! (Now, if I knew you were coming, it would be hidden in a box somewhere.) I've tried different techniques, and even took an on-line course once, but they didn't fit my personality.

I need tips on how to deal with my paperwork, cheaply because I'm broke. I know someone has a system that will help even me, and thus, save me time and money, please! I'm desperate.

Okay, for my time saving tip, I know that they say to file your paid bills right away. If I do it is a question that I will leave unanswered for the moment.

Easy Recipe

There is nothing like home grown tomatoes. And my tomatoes are ripening on the vines as we speak. Here is one easy recipe that I love.

Marinated Tomatoes

Go out to that garden and pick how ever many tomatoes as you need to feed everyone. Wash & core them using the handy tomato corer I sell. Slice the tomatoes thinly with that great tomato knife that I also sell. Place in a bowl, and cover with Italian dressing. I prefer to make the Good Seasons Italian dressing. Let it marinate for at least 15 minutes before serving.

(Now, if you are interested in that great tomato corer or knife, email me at auntjanetjwlr@sbcglobal.net, and I will be happy to send you a catalog.)

Listen to the silence,
Aunt Janet

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Selah

In a circle
on a beautiful fall day
letting go
and helping the wonderful dog trying to sleep on the grass behind us
ease out of this world
filled with as much love and music
as we could give her.

Selah, Bana, Selah.

Posted by: jlseagull - http://slowmover.wordpress.com

I sat on the grass with Puppy laying by me. She loves the outdoors, and we could tell she was happy being outside, next to me, laying in the grass, listening to the sounds around her. Her ears would perk up, and she would look in the direction of whatever was catching her attention at that moment. She was serene.

Puppy is dying. I know the time is coming. But not today. She's not ready to go. My husband and I talked it through as we watched her enjoy the cool breeze and sunshine. We debated - is today the day?

My family trickled in, one by one. Puppy wagged her tail with greetings of love, and soaked in all the pets, hugs, and kisses that were bestowed on her. She made them laugh. Is today the day?

After taking into thought her pain level and mobility, she will spend a little more time with us.

I found this song, and the post fit today so perfectly - A song for a Dying Dog on a Beautiful Fall Day. Read it, and you will understand. It ends with Selah, Bana, Selah. Bana is his friend's dying dog's name.

Found repeatedly in the Psalms, although the exact meaning of the Hebrew word "Selah" is lost, it is believed to mean "we should 'measure' or value carefully what has just been said". So, to me, this song is saying to value the life of this dog, and to look at the happiness and love that she has given unselfishly. http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/faq/selah.html

So, for today, Puppy is content. The medicine is keeping the pain to a minimum. We will need to help her get around, but she is not suffering greatly. We can wait a little longer before letting go, using this time to reflect upon the love that this precious dog has given to us, and is still giving to us, and trust that she will tell us when it is time to say goodbye.

Selah, Puppy, Selah.

Gardening

I have not posted a lot lately because most of my time has been spent working, taking care of the apartments, taking care of Puppy, and gardening. One new discovery I made - a natural way to ward off those June Bugs that love my green bean plants and raspberries.

Fill up a bucket about 1/4 of the way with soapy water (dish soap). Hand catch as many of the June Bugs as you can, and put them into the bucket of water. They will drown. Keep the bucket next to the plants. The other June Bugs pick up on the odor of the dead ones, and will wander elsewhere. You can keep hand picking the bugs and putting them in the bucket if you would like.

As for my bean plants, the June Bugs are down to a minimum, so this hint I found really seems to be working. Now, I have to deal with the spider mites on the plants. This I know how to take care of, and will share it with you at a later time.

Does anyone know how to keep the varmints from knocking down and eating all my corn?? I'll share, but I want to at least enjoy a little of it!

Aunt Janet's Famous Sayings

Well, as many of you can guess, I don't tolerate belittling people. Along with "There's a nice way to say everything, and a way to say everything nice", I'm also known to say "Don't say that! If you say it again, I'll smack you in the head." And all the younger ones know that if they dare say it again, they will get a quick smack on the head. Name calling hurts, and there is no need for it. And, for those I defend, you are very welcome.

I love you all, and you will get a smack if you do this! So, you are intelligent. Find a nice way to say it! (Oh - Puppy just told the cats this. She defends everyone in the family, and will not tolerate fighting of any kind.)

Selah, my friend, Selah,
Aunt Janet

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