Grandma Susan’s Almanac Calendar is an informal monthly  journal that encourages homemakers to do more things for themselves - crafts, handiwork, “from-scratch” cooking, gardening, and other domestic  arts.   Grandma's motto is: "Let's work together to improve our lives by simple living, self-reliance, maintaining our religious faith, and sharing the blessings of life with others."

 Saying of the month

"Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments, embark upon a sentimental journey,
and enjoy every idle hour." -   John Boswell



February, 2010

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27


New Moon     First Quarter    Full Moon    Last Quarter
Feb 13/20:51   Feb 21/18:42   Feb 28/10:38  Mar 7/09:42   

U.S. Central Standard Time

 Some Bible verses for February

And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the faint-hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them.  See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. (Thessalonians 5:14-15)


Recommended reading 


A Simple Path - Mother Teresa   


Some Bible verses  


Saying of the month


Reading recommendation       


Take steps to use less water 


Minimalism: try it at home         


Good health: basis for good living


"From-scratch" recipe of the month - Veggie Quesadillas




While water covers 71 percent of the Earth's surface, less than 3% of that water is fresh water, and can be considered as usable drinking water. Because of global warming, overpopulation, and decades of abuse of water, there just isn’t enough to go around. The sectors of society that dominate in water use are agriculture, chiefly the meat, cotton, and coffee industries; large industries especially those involving metals; and recreation, principally that used to maintain hotels, resorts and golf courses.

The consequence of all this water consumption is a growing process of draught and desertification. Water is scarce in many areas and becoming increasingly expensive as a resource for the general population. At the same time, corporations are converting what's left of our water into bottled water for profit. The situation is so dreadful that many predict that, over the next few decades, water will cease to be considered a basic human right, and will be traded and commercialized just as  other natural resources, like our forests and oil, are now.

Today, more than one sixth of the world’s population, 1.1 billion people do not have access to any safe drinking water.  Then, consider that the average person in the U. S. uses between 100 and 250 gallons of water a day, all of which comes from safe water supplies. How ever you look at it, that's an unsustainable amount of water being used in the U.S. "Unsustainable" means that there is no way that so much water consumption can be projected into the future. Experts say that only a small fraction of the total being used by U.S. people would be sufficient, if water saving measures were taken at the household level. So, what should the average person or average household do to face up to this terrible threat?

First, it's necessary to study what's happening to the water on this planet and understand the reasons for its disappearance. We also must be ready, at some point, to get actively involved and help mobilize our neighbors to fight for our public water supplies. At the same time, we need to take steps to use less water at home. Here are some suggestions. 

- Be sure you have no leaks in your home. (According to some experts, as many as half of U.S. homes have a slow water leak.)

- Install water saving toilets and showerheads, and close the faucet when you brush your teeth. Try to limit your showers to three minutes. Bath your children together -- with supervision, of course.

- Don’t wash clothes in the washer or dishes in the dishwasher until you have a full load. If you wash dishes by hand, keep a pan of sudsy water and soap up all the dishes before turning on the rinse water.

- When you boil vegetables or eggs, don't throw out the water. There are valuable vitamins and minerals in that water. Use it for soups and stews, baking bread, or making hot cereal.

- Wash your car with one bucket of water.  Sweep your front entry, driveway or deck – don't do any washing of these areas.


- Save what fresh water we have left by never throwing medicines, paints, harsh chemicals, or petroleum products down the drain or into the sewer system.

- Build a rock garden to fill up part of your lawn or install landscaping that does not require lots of water, like ground cover plants. A more radical option would be  to remove all your lawn and put in a totally natural landscape.

- Harvest rainwater and install a rainwater storage container, also called a cistern. There are 250,000 cisterns in use in the U.S., today. There need to be tens of thousands more in the next few years. Cistern water, without treatment, is considered to be unsafe for human consumption but it can be used in the garden and for household cleaning purposes.

- Plant trees wherever you can in your yard, for shade, for beauty or just for holding water in the soil. There are trees for all spaces – you don't need a big yard to have a tree or two. Ask an expert in your area about indigenous trees (those that grow wild in your area) that need less water and space.

- Find other uses -- such as for watering plants, washing cars, etc. -- for once-used water from bathing, washing clothes and bathroom sinks.

The indirect water usage of homes is that which deals with the products purchased and consumed by household members -it is usually much greater than the direct one. Lower your indirect water usage by choosing different products that require less water as part of their growing, processing or manufacture. Here are some examples.

- Buy used cars, not new ones.  Remodel older houses instead of buying new ones - unless the new ones are much smaller or much more efficient.
- Eat less meat or become vegetarian.  Drink tea instead of coffee, or if you feel you must drink coffee, limit yourself to one or two cups per day. Better yet, drink a lot of plain water -- it's very good for you.
- Wear used clothing or wear your own for a few more years instead of buying new. Or at least, refrain from buying all-cotton clothes, since cotton is one of the greatest users of water.

Talk to your family members about the situation of water throughout the world. Tell your children that good stewardship of the earth means that the resources we have today are God-given for our proper use and not for our sinful abuse. With the children’s help, think up ways that the family can save water and reward the children in some way, when they help conserve water. 



There are a number of changes in behavior and lifestyle that we need to make if we aspire to live simpler lives and be “greener”. One way to attain these objectives is to become a minimalist. Here I outline some reasons why you should now be creating your minimalist house, or at least considering it. It also has some suggestions as to how to go about embracing minimalism in your home.

The term "minimal” designates anything that is stripped down to its essentials. When we pare down our life to the most necessary things, we are minimalists. Being a minimalist in the home means absolute organization in day-to-day domestic life and learning to be content with what you have.

If you want you to live every day, having your home exactly the way you want it and knowing where everything is, then you need: 1) to be a super-efficient, full-time homemaker, 2) have a staff of housekeepers or 3) have a minimalist home. For me, the answer is having a minimalist home. 

In the minimalist home, you control your stuff, and it no longer controls you. This will give you a lot of peace of mind. To achieve a minimalist home, you have to simplify and de-clutter the entire house (and yard). You'll need to get rid of extra stuff and cut back to the really useful things and a few items that you absolutely love. The rule is if you haven't used it, or even looked at it, in the last two months, you probably don’t need it. The exceptions to the rule would be really worthwhile books and photos, family jewels (not family junk), and seasonal items, like winter clothes or recreational or sports equipment.

- Start with one room. The usual place to start is your bedroom, but it could be a den or office.  You’ll need courage and enough time for this task. Plan on taking at least a full day, or two, to edit and eliminate a lot of stuff from that area. 

Think of which pieces of furniture can be eliminated without sacrificing comfort. Except for a very few pieces of furniture, your floors should be completely clear. Nothing should be stacked and nothing should be stored on the floor.

- Ask yourself about all of the smaller items in the room.You can probably get rid of a lot of them. Misplaced essentials and items that are valuable, but not used regularly, should be taken to a storage closet, garage, or shed.

- Organize and find a place for everything. Look for logical spots for all items - likes with likes, and everything as close as possible to where it is to be used.

- De-clutter by clearing as many surfaces as you can, leaving out only the essentials that you use daily. Store other items out of sight, in drawers and cabinets. You'll have to pare down even more for your stuff to fit comfortably in its newly designated place.

- Clear your walls of everything, except for one or two simple pieces of artwork or other sort of decoration. (Organized, uncluttered bookshelves are acceptable.)  Use plain, preferably neutral colored, walls, window treatments, slipcovers, and bed coverings. Keeping it simple is a basic principle in the minimalist home.

- Once you’ve had a success in “minimizing” one room, you can move on to the next room, and so on throughout the house.

In the future, use the minimalist rule: One in, one (similar thing) out. You'll find your life will be much simpler, your house will stay cleaner, and you can get on with those other personal projects that have been postponed too long.


I believe that health is a lot more important than wealth or social standing and should be one of our primary personal and family goals. (My best guess is that good health is second in importance in your life, only to faith.) My point-of-view comes from my background as a health educator, health-fitness nut (according to some), mother of two, and daughter and granddaughter of fine women who knew a lot about achieving and maintaining good health. The good health, which I believe in, is something that is fostered by appropriate interventions in the home and community. We achieve health-related goals by: a) having confidence in traditional approaches to healthy living passed along to us by earlier generations (primarily, for most of us through our mothers and grandmothers); b) believing in our own experiences; and c) developing additional healthy skills through study and dialogue with others.

Here are the five corner stones of health and disease-prevention (and there is probably nothing here that you haven’t heard before):


(Good Health article continued)

Daily routines of physical activity and, importantly, correct posture and breathing, including some deep breathing exercises

If daily workload or life-style is preventing you or your close family members from following these corner stones of health, you should consider making necessary changes at once to modify personal and family choices.

Having a positive attitude about life and love and transmitting it to others, including primarily to the next generation;

Eating right – that means consuming nourishing foods in the right quantity and not over-eating;

Discipline in the use of substances, and in particular, moderation in consuming alcohol, and total abstinence from tobacco-based products and all kinds of mood-changing drugs;

Getting enough sleep - for adults, sleeping at least 8 hours every night and 10 hours for children (daytime naps count in these hours, too).




 Veggie Quesadillas

For this dish, you need: 10 medium-sized tortillas, fresh tomatoes, sliced cheddar cheese, and diced cooked veggies – any kind. For each quesadilla, stack sliced tomatoes, cheese and a layer of veggies on top of a tortilla. Top with another tortilla - sandwich-style. Grill quesadillas on both sides, in a hot, very lightly oiled skillet until cheese melts and tortillas are golden. Garnish with diced onions and chopped cilantro.  

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