Stay at Home

A Journal During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Reflections and Inspiration from Maple Grove
March 29, 2020

We just finished our second week of "social distancing" and "sheltering-in-place" during this coronavirus pandemic.  We have been given a new term to add to the now familiar ones. Our governor has issued a "stay-at-home" order for our county in Pennsylvania.  We are stay-at-home kind of people anyway, so it doesn't really change our day-to-day routines much, but we really feel the difference on the weekends.  We so miss our family Sunday gatherings at Maple Grove, and we also miss gathering with our church family for worship and fellowship. The uncertainty of how much longer we will be confined or how extensive the outcome will be weighs over our country and the world like a dark cloud. We ourselves are fine, but we feel concern and compassion for those who are suffering or in harm's way.  It truly is a blessing that the timing of this stay-at-home order is in the Spring when we can enjoy the warmth and freshness of the outdoors.

Wren House Pattern and Instructions

This Wren House is so cute and easy to make. It will attract wrens to your yard or garden. Wrens are the gardener's friends. They eat harmful insects that are damaging to your flowers and vegetable plants.  They are entertaining to watch and have a melodious song.

They usually arrive in our area around the beginning of May, but this winter was so mild that they arrived by mid-March.

It's always fun to watch them filling their houses with grasses and twigs as they build their nests. Then it is so exciting when we hear their young nestlings start to chirp. Both parents get involved in the nesting and the feeding of their young.  Before long, we enjoy seeing the nestlings start to poke their heads out of the house and finally fly out as young fledglings. Following are the instructions and pattern pieces to build your own wren houses.

Look Beyond the Challenge

A Journal During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Reflections and Inspiration from Maple Grove
March 22, 2020

The first I recall hearing about an outbreak of a virus was probably in January when headlines carried news of a mysterious respiratory illness spreading from China through Europe. In February, we learned the disease was identified as a coronavirus and was named COVID-19. It had reached the United States and by mid-March had been declared a worldwide pandemic. It quickly spread to all 50 states. A United States National Emergency was declared, and that's when life began changing for all of us.  

The purpose of these posts is not to provide details about COVID-19 nor to offer opinions about political or economic ramifications.  It has been a long time since I got away from "blogging," and I see this as an opportunity to simply share a journal of my personal experiences and reflections about life for us at Maple Grove during this crisis.

Old Fashioned Peanut Brittle - a Fall Favorite

Peanut brittle is an old fashioned candy that is irresistible and unforgettable. I started making it  years ago, and it has become a fall favorite in our home.

You'll be surprised how easy it is to make!  Your family will love it, your friends will rave about it, and you'll want to start a new tradition of making it every year. 

Here's the recipe and tips learned along the way. 

Swedish and Easter Egg Braid Bread

My Grandmother passed down a tradition in our family of making Swedish Braid Bread, a delicious sweet bread flavored with mildly spicy cardamom and braided into a glistening golden loaf of goodness.  It's a tradition I like to continue to this day, and I've recently learned how to combine this Swedish tradition with the Italian tradition of tucking eggs into the bread for a really special treat.

Two things to note:  1) You can follow this tutorial to braid any kind of bread recipe, and 2) there are various ways you can shape and size the loaves of braided bread.

Irish Soda Bread in time for St. Patrick's Day

Irish Soda Bread isn't just for the Irish.  In fact, Native Americans were making soda bread before the European settlers arrived. It became known as Irish Soda Bread because it was considered a poor man's bread; it was the easiest and least expensive bread to put on the table during the great potato famine in Ireland.  It has become a common tradition to buy or make soda bread for St. Patrick's Day.

The Nativity of Our Lord Presented in Verse and Song

 The Nativity of Our Lord
The Nativity of Our Lord
I began collecting Fontanini nativity figures soon after I got married and have added one or more figures to my collection each year.

As I arrange the scenes, I recall the Biblical narrative, and I am reminded how much we in the world today are not so different from the people who lived at the time of the birth of Christ.

Some people wait in eager anticipation for His (re)appearance. Some worship and adore Him as the promised Messiah, Savior and King. Some believe the truth of His message and others do not. Some seek Him, while others reject or despise Him.  I created this video presentation of the Nativity with narration and music to encourage all who view it to consider their own relationship to Christ, the Prince of Peace.

(Click on the image above to view the video.)

God Bless You

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How to Brine and Roast a Turkey and Make Perfect Gravy

It's November--turkey month!  Turkey has become the traditional main course for Thanksgiving dinner in America. We all have our favorite must-have side dishes, but there's a good chance you'll be serving turkey to your family and guests.  Whether you're making it for a few people or a large gathering, you want your turkey to turn out perfect, both in appearance and in taste. If you'd like your turkey to turn out juicy and flavorful, you may want to consider brining it. I've been eating turkey for Thanksgiving all my life.  I always thought it's ok, a little dry and not real flavorful.  I never knew how really delectable turkey could be until I started brining.  I began brining my turkeys a few years ago, and now it's the only way I'll roast one.

Kitchen Garden 2018

This is my sixth Kitchen Garden since we built the Potting Shed and put in my first garden in 2013. I like to try new things and make changes to the garden each year. The big change this year is the center bed.  Inspired by Chris McLaughlin and her new book release, Growing Heirloom Flowers, I decided to plant only flowers in the center bed.

PRAY - 30 Days of Prayer

 I invite you to download this free E-Book to your computer or reading device and join me in
30 Days of Prayer for the month of June or on any time you want to begin your own prayer journey.

You may also download and print this free companion Children's Coloring Prayer Book
to include your children on your prayer journey and teach them how to pray.

Please feel free to share these links with your friends,
and God's blessings on your own prayer journey!


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Growing Heirloom Flowers: Bring the Vintage Beauty of Heritage Blooms to Your Modern Garden

Growing Heirloom Flowers: Bring the Vintage Beauty of Heritage Blooms to Your Modern Garden
 by Chris McLaughlin

Hard cover: 160 pages
Publisher: Cool Springs Press (May 8 ,2018)
ISBN-10: 0760359393

How is it possible to present so much valuable information in one book with so much ease and flare?  Chris McLaughlin. That’s how. “Growing Heirloom Flowers” is not too long and not too short. It is an easy read yet is packed with so many lessons. I expected to learn about a variety of heirloom flowers (including some history about them and how to grow them), and indeed I did. McLaughlin also included some precious and memorable stories associated with their past. She provides expert knowledge, yet her voice is light and fun. The bonus that came as a delightful surprise to me were the easy “how-to” lessons:  such as how to make rose water, how to make flower crowns, how to make floral arrangments, how to dry flowers, and so on.