Pasta Casserole

 

Pasta Casserole

I used one of my freezer meals today. Prior to surgery I had put some of these together so my husband would only have to pop them in the oven or microwave the first couple weeks after my surgery.

The one I hauled out for today was the Pasta Casserole one. I have a feeling I found the base recipe somewhere on Pinterest but I have long forgotten where so if this is your recipe and I have not given you credit I apologize. I have tweaked it to my own taste and liking and this is the recipe I ended up with.

Pasta Casserole

Brown and drain:
2 pounds hamburger
1 large onion, chopped
3 Tablespoons Italian Dressing

Add:
2 – 26 ounce Spaghetti or Pizza Sauce
16 ounce elbow or rotini noodles (cooked and drained)
5 cups mozzarella (20 ounces)
Reserve 2 cups of cheese for the top of casseroles.
8 ounces sliced pepperonis for top.

Put in 2 – 9×13 foil pans or equivalent smaller size foil pans.
Put mixture in pans.
Top with reserved cheese.
Top with sliced pepperonis.
Cover and freeze for later use.
or
Bake at 350º for 30 minutes.
If frozen, make sure to thaw completely and Bake at 350º for 35 – 40 minutes.

These work wonderful, when you are in a busy time of life or when you want to bring a meal to someone who is needing one. I tend to make them in 4 square foil pans as it is a filling meal and my husband is not crazy about tomato type products. When I serve this I usually sprinkle some parmesan cheese over the top also.

 I love the fact that with some minimal effort I can have 4 meals in my freezer just waiting to be baked or given away.  I really like that when I have some of these in my freezer there are days I don’t even have to think about what to make…..that is a huge plus at this present time.

I am wondering what are some of your favorite shortcuts when it comes to mealtime? What works  best for you to spend less time prepping for meals everyday and more time enjoying those extra moments with your family instead?

 

The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.

Psalm 145:15-16 ESV

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
Hippocrates

Provision

Splitting Wood.JPG

Time does seem to have a way of flying right on by. I used to laugh when my folks and grandparents would comment on the swift passing of time. In my “youthful wisdom” I always kind of thought they were, perhaps, just moving slower so time seemed faster. That concept may or may not be true……at this phase in my life I might not want to think to deeply on that one.

In looking through photos I had taken this past year I happened upon the one of my husband and youngest son splitting firewood for the winter. They were splitting the entire year’s worth in anticipation of my husband having a hip replaced during the winter. At that time is seemed like a huge pile of wood to conquer and stack in our garage. It also seemed like there was no way that we would go through all that wood. It also seems like they just split this wood just yesterday.

This past week I ventured into the garage, as I was tired of just sitting inside recuperating. I was surprised to find there is really not much wood left stacked in there. When my husband told me, earlier in the year, that we would use it all during the winter season I really did not believe him. I am guessing wood, like time, tends to fly when one doesn’t keep track!

I have been having more time to reflect the last while. (Sometimes my reflections get a little short-circuited, due to that wonderful post-surgery brain fog.) There are so many seasons in life that we pass through. Some seem like they will never end. If you had asked me the middle of last week how long it would take for me to start feeling physically better I would have answered, “forever.”  I am feeling so much more hopeful this week.

I have been amazed at the prayers, well-wishes, cards, food and abundance of support from friends, family and even people I have never met in person. You are all making this recovery time fly by and if I could put one label on this rather odd time in my life it would be “Blessed”.

It feels odd to realize that in this “weak” time, blessed is how I feel.  Extremely tired…..but blessed. It make me wonder if sometime, God decides it is good to have a slow down time to really appreciate Him and His people. A time when time does not seem to fly by. I have been gifted lots of time for conversations with Him. (To be honest……most of those conversations ran along the lines of asking for health results I wanted.)

I am so grateful that God’s timing is perfect for whatever season I am in. I am grateful He knows what I need; exactly when I need it……and He is never late. I am so grateful that God’s provision and love, unlike our pile of firewood, never runs out.

 

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19 

Beautiful Things

wintry spring sky.JPG

Sometimes when you are feeling not so great it is good to open your eyes to the things of beauty that are around you. That is what I did today. My husband put the patio chairs with cushions on the deck. Today he set them in the sun just for me.

It felt so good to just sit there in the sun, listening to the wind blowing through the bare trees, and feeling that same breeze slide over my skin. It was cold and I had to wear my coat and cover my legs with a blanket but it was so good to just immerse myself in the beauty around me.

I did comment that I thought I looked like an invalid…..then we both laughed because I guess while I recuperate I am somewhat of an invalid! After a rocky couple of days the description fit. I felt rather like those dead looking branches in the photo. On the upside…..those branches are just biding their time to bud out in lush green leaves. I am taking heart from that fact!

Short post today and just going to share a few of the beautiful things I saw today. Unfortunately it is hard, for me, to accurately capture the beauty of the outdoors.

 

I had to include a picture of the girls. My husband and I really laughed today. We were sitting in our living room watching the news when suddenly a chicken head appeared  peering into our window. It didn’t take long for her to take off running. We wondered if she was spreading the news that Chicken Grandma was still alive……. so not to worry!

I am going to leave you with one last picture of a plant that I have had for years. It only blooms once a year and so is a wonderful treat. The blooms are lush and truly another beautiful thing.

Indoor beauty

May your weekend be blessed. May you open your eyes to the beauty around you. When things look dark and bleak may that beauty be an unexpected blessing to you.  And for my friends who celebrate St. Patty’s Day I leave you with this:

 

May The Road
Rise Up To Meet You

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

(traditional gaelic blessing)

Read more: http://www.lords-prayer-words.com/famous_prayers/may_the_road_rise_up_to_meet_you.html#ixzz4bd9dcguo.

 

 

Recuperating

Get Well Cards

Hello again!  My writing has been a little sporadic (how is that for a good word?) lately due to a couple different things going on in my life. The Women’s retreat was one and I hope you all enjoyed hearing about what a wonderful weekend that was….(the last post I wrote.)

The other event took place this past Wednesday and involved some “lady” surgery for me. It took three hours and now I am in the recuperating phase. My sister tells me I should plan to feel “stupid”, due to anesthesia, for the next while.  (It is kind of nice to actually have a reason to feel “stupid”!) This is also the same sister who pointed out how ironic it was that I had this particular surgery on the International Women’s Day.

I was hoping the above fact was not one bit true. (The brain fog fact.)  I believed it was just hearsay till my sister-in-law heard from her uncle, an anesthesiologist, that for every hour a person is “under” it takes 1 month for tiredness and brain fog to disappear! I wonder if brain fog will make this fact sound new  each time I hear it?

I must confess to feeling nervous prior to surgery. Not so much about the surgery itself, as I don’t remember a thing, but about recovery time and all that involves. I am having way to many new experiences with the recovery from this type of surgery.  Learning about catheters was definitely never on my bucket list and after this time around will never ever be on future bucket lists!

My days have turned into a pattern of sleeping, pain meds, walking laps in my house, sleeping, pain meds…..you probably get the picture. I am pleasantly surprised that I feel as good as I do at this point! Maybe there is some truth to the brain fog thing after all?

My husband is an amazing private nurse. I had prepared, in advance, for this recuperating time and made freezer meals in anticipation of this event. At this point he is Chief cook (using up those freezer meals), Head housekeeper and the Chicken Grandad in charge of the girls. From where I am sitting he is doing an amazing job. We had a snowstorm yesterday and I am kind of wondering if he had figured on scooping a path for the girls as part of his job description.

The support and prayers from friends and family has been wonderful and so very much appreciated. It makes me realize how truly blessed I am and how good God really is.

And how was your week? I think I am looking to relax and recuperate…..what are your plans? If I ask you this question more than once…..please write it off to that brain fog thing………. I have a feeling I might find that excuse kind of handy.

“And my God will meet all your needs
according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:19

 

 

 

 

 

Kaleidoscope of Grace

Cursillo Weekend.JPG

My mind is whirling, my heart is full and my soul is content.  The road taken to a good weekend at a women’s retreat does wonders for renewing and refreshing. I am not sure why I am always surprised when God shows up…..He has never failed to show up yet….but yes, I am always still surprised in a wonderful way.

I spent this past weekend at a place called Inspiration Hills. It was the location of the Christian women’s retreat where I was privileged to serve. The retreat was put on by Northwest Iowa Cursillo and it was a wonderful time of connecting with women, listening to talks on God’s grace and ministering to each other.

Today, it has been hard to focus on the everyday tasks of the everyday in my home.  My mind wanders and a grin comes to my face with the vivid memories of the weekend. I can close my eyes and see a kaleidoscope of pictures from the weekend.

Pictures of open Bibles, women praising and worshipping, tears falling as past hurts were let go, strangers becoming friends and genuine smiles. Pictures of delicious meals served by cooks with huge smiles, beds made by women who were giving of their time, and women kneeling in prayer for those they only knew by name. Pictures of grace in the flesh.

Women went home to the same trials, the same heartaches, the same problems and issues they had before……but they went home equipped with a stronger faith to deal with them. They went home knowing they had a network of women who were not going to let them fall. They went home knowing that in the brokenness God does indeed make beauty out of ashes.

Today it is back to doing the everyday tasks that are part of the everyday in my home. The difference is I am doing them in the after-glow of a grace filled weekend……and that is a wonderful blessed way to do those everyday tasks.

 

“God uses broken things.
It takes broken soil to produce a crop,
broken clouds to give rain,
broken grain to give bread,
broken bread to give strength.
It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume.
It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.”

Vance Havner

 

 

 

Frosting on the Trees

frosting-on-the-tree

Frosting on the Trees

 

We woke up to a very quiet, white world this morning. My husband’s first comment was, ” I thought the weatherman said we were going to get a dusting of snow during the night.” And we did!  It just dusted us under a little more than we anticipated.

It did make for a beautiful sight. The sun shone brightly for the morning and it was actually not too bad for temperature. I went back for the camera because I am not to sure how many more beautiful snowfalls we have left in this season. (I hope not to many! But I was going to enjoy this one.) For some reason a new snowfall seems to bring a silence to the land that holds a strange beauty. It turns the commonplace into something more than it is. It is rather like grace.

the-magic-of-snow

I loved the feeling of being the first one to walk through the snow. I did hesitate just a bit to put those first tracks in the pristine whiteness. As I walked, the snow just glittered and sparkled like someone had tossed a dusting of glitter everywhere. I am constantly amazed at God’s attention to the smallest detail when it comes to things that are beautiful and delightful.  I carefully placed my boots so I would not disturb the smooth snow any more than I had to.

It would have been fun to have the grandkids here. This was the perfect snow for packing, fort-making and snowman construction.  Perhaps I should have just gone ahead and made them anyway? I did not as I was enjoying the beauty of undisturbed snow to much……That is my story and I am sticking with that one!

pristine-view

The Gully ~ a Study in Silent Beauty

 

I knew that by the end of the day our landscape would, once again, look very different from this morning. I knew the mud would be back as the sun melted this snow. I knew there wasn’t long to enjoy this snow…..so I took the time to enjoy it.

So much of life is like that. The “good” things, the wonder and amazement are only here for a short time; just like this snowfall……here this morning and some of it gone by evening. It is a good reminder to stop and take time to just look around and enjoy the gift that is given.

I hope your day held a bit of wonder, a bit of magic and something that made you stop and appreciate the beauty around you.

Snow provokes responses that reach right back to childhood.
Andy Goldsworthy

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/snow.html

Even in winter an isolated patch of snow has a special quality.
– Andy Goldsworthy