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 

"In these divine pleasures permitted to me of walks in the June night under moon and stars, I can put my life as a fact before me and stand aloof from its honor and shame." -  Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals 

Recommended reading for June

Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Dan Millman 


June, 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


New Moon     First Quarter    Full Moon    Last Quarter
 Jun 12/05:15   Jun 18/22:30    Jun 26/05:30    Jul 4/08:35   

U.S. Central Standard Time


Some Bible verses for June

"Then Jesus said, 'The light will be with you a little longer, so walk while you have the light. ... Believe in the light while you still have it so that you will become children of light.' When Jesus had said these things, he left and hid himself from them." (John 12:35-36)




Some Bible verses for June        


Saying of the month


Reading recommendation


A kitchen salad bar can work for you


Lead a simple life


Owning a dog is a blessing


A place for outdoor shoes


"From scratch" recipe of the month - Summer pasta salad




You know you should be eating more vegetables than you usually do. But what if you are short on cooking time and really hungry?  Try eating a big salad. Meal-size salads are quick, and they give you two or more servings of veggies. You can be as creative with salad making, as you like. With the addition of a few protein foods, mixed right in, it will fill you up. It has the added advantages that it’s not high in calories and won’t ruin any diet (unless you pour on a lot of dressing or overdo the cheese).  You'll save money, too, by having quick to serve meals on hand, without having to buy costly pre-prepared or processed foods.

Just put in a little extra effort on grocery shopping day, and your own kitchen can be a great salad bar. With just a few minutes of preparation time, salads can work for you for several meals during the week. When you shop, look for a variety of green leaf and other salad veggies in the produce department. Buy what looks freshest -- in season, if possible -- and grab a few fresh herbs, while you’re there. You probably have heard that the more colorful the veggies, the more nutritious they are. Well, that’s usually the case. For instance, carrots, spinach, and cabbage are considered to be miracle foods, full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. If you make sure to get enough of these foods, you’ll be increasing your immunity to many diseases.

When you get back from the store, you’ll spend about 30 minutes, washing, chopping, and storing all that wonderful produce in your refrigerator. You can leave the skins on any vegetables that can be scrubbed with a brush, such as squash and cucumbers. The skins are usually more nutritious than the insides of veggies. Try putting the different salad items in glass containers –they can be attractive jars or bowls with lids. That way they can serve both for storage and be carried to the table –- that way each person can put together their own bowl, salad bar-style.

Make enough homemade salad dressing for use during the week. That will take about another 10 minutes, blending olive oil, a garlic clove or two, a dash of mustard, your favorite vinegar, salt and pepper. Store the dressing in a pretty glass container in the refrigerator.

Your salad will have the best taste if you leave it in the refrigerator, tossed with the dressing, for 15 to 30 minutes. But, it’s not absolutely necessary to refrigerate it, if you’re in a big hurry or if household members like to use different amounts of dressing. 

You can make many additions to your kitchen salad bar. You can cut up yellow or white cheese in squares for your salad. You can also throw in hard-boiled eggs or olives. Pine nuts, soy nuts, and sunflower seeds all add both protein and crunch. If you’re a meat eater, cubes of leftover meat goes well in salads, also.  With whole-grain bread, homemade or from the bakery, your meal is complete – with absolutely no cooking time.

But, perhaps, you’ve been cautious about bringing home too many salad makings. What if you don’t eat as many salads as you planned on? And, if you’re like a lot of other people, veggies often sit around in the refrigerator and look wilted after one week or so.  Throwing out food is not acceptable. So, what can you do?

Here are a couple of ways to convert leftover veggies into tasty home-cooked meals at the end of the week. You can just chop them up and sauté them with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. This makes a great side dish with just about any entree. Or you can create your own “gourmet” vegetable soup.  I make this kind of soup almost weekly. It’s known as refrigerator stew because it uses just about everything that is still in the refrigerator at the end of the week.

It’s always good. Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil, and then add your leftover veggies, some herbs, and a quart or so of chicken or vegetable broth. Left over meat can also be added. Boil for 40 to 50 minutes. Sprinkle some pine nuts, chopped almonds, or grated cheese on top of the filled soup bowls, and you’ll have a delicious soup. 



People have asked me why I decided to write Grandma Susan’s Almanac. I, of course, answered that I was doing it for my two grand daughters. I want them to know their grandmother better, and since I live a long way from them and can’t visit them often, that’s not an easy task. They are still small – a baby and a toddler. They can’t read my blog yet, but one day they will. This blog helps me feel closer to them now, and hopefully, some day, what I’ve written will help them feel closer to me.

The main message that I have for my grandchildren and for all our family’s grand children, including grand nieces and nephews and more distant young cousins, isn’t a complicated one at all. The point is that a simple life offers you greater happiness and spiritual richness than fame and fortune ever can.  That’s the message that I hope our young children hear frequently and experience in their homes and communities. Unfortunately, the younger generations were born into a time when traditional, religious values have been thrown to the winds.  The society around us today is decadent, filled with violence and sex – wars and rumors of wars.

I suppose, but do not know for a fact, that all the children in our larger family were baptized in Christian churches. With the diversity that characterizes our times that probably means that they are of many different denominations and persuasions. In itself that isn't the problem. Yet, there are clearly some problems out there. For instance, I believe, from what I’m told, that only a few of the younger families are regular churchgoers. Our secular society has made us more pagan than Christian.

The world’s great spiritual traditions have all emphasized the importance of simple living. Prayer and meditation are almost impossible if your life is complicated by too many worries about worldly affairs. That doesn’t mean that we should all be “other-worldly”. Rather, it means that we need to discipline ourselves to let go of worldly distractions and useless busyness, so we can get down to what really counts – living balanced, spiritual lives. There is a lot of beautiful and blessed living for us out there, rising above the confusion of our secular society. We only need to quiet ourselves enough to be able to pay attention to the whisperings of our inner selves that tell us to seek a personal relationship with the Divine and to learn to love others.

What Christ said and was recorded in the Gospel more than 2000 years ago, is just as relevant for today.

Matthew 18:3-4: Then he said: “I tell you the truth, you must change and become like little children. Otherwise, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. The greatest person in the kingdom of heaven is the one who makes himself humble like this child.

The meaning of the passage is clear. It’s important to not be too grown up. By nature, children live simple lives, take delight in carefree living, and find time for the things that are important to them. They can remain like that for many years, if their innocence is not perverted by a constant bombardment of vicious messages, images, and acts.  Unfortunately, too many children learn to understand their world through TV of questionable value, disturbing video games, and in the streets.  I hope that the younger generation of my family -- yours, too -- is being taught family values, taken to church and being protected, to the extent that's possible, from harmful influences.

Beyond that, I hope that your church preaches the Gospel as it was written (and not some of the more recent occurrences that claim to be Christian).  The church that I refer to teaches children, and the rest of us, to understand the world as a place where souls reach out to support -- not harm or belittle -- each other, including people who aren’t like us and who can offer little in return. It also refutes ideas that materialism and the accumulation of personal wealth are corollaries of Christian life.

These pages are written for all our children who, hopefully, one day will understand and appreciate such ideas. And, they're also written for the adults, who would “become like little children.” Grandma’s message is this: Lead simple lives. Make changes in your life – even radical ones, if necessary -- so that you can look beyond day-to-day concerns and find time to lead a Christian life, and that life is grounded in devotional reading, reflection, prayer, and helping other people. 



If your attitude toward your dog is correct - if you feed your dog right and give him or her love, your dog will be a continual source of contentment.  Because of our experience with Sofi, our current dog, as well as that with the other dogs that we've had, I want to share with you some of the ways that owning a dog is an advantage and a blessing.

Dogs are never “blue” and they are always willing to help you feel better on a “bad” day. You also sleep better at night, knowing that the dog is your home guardian and will bark if anything suspicious happens around the house.

For many of us empty-nesters, without our pet, the house would be too quiet. The dog is our companion, "man’s best friend" (and woman's, too). They are great company when nobody else’s around. If you treat your dog right, you have a faithful friend and you'll never be alone. You can talk to him or her. Even though the dog understands only a little or nothing of what you say, they are very patient listeners and almost never contradict you. Your children will grow up and leave you, but your dog is for life – for a healthy dog, you know you will have a companion for at least 12 to 15 years.

You’ll get more exercise
You go outside regularly with your dog – for fun , for dog’s physiological needs, or just to check on why the dog is barking (or silent for too long). Dog ownerhip is a great motivation for you to get more exercise because the dog needs to to exercise. When you go outside with your dog, you have the opportunity to breathe in fresh air and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors. All healthy dogs are just waiting to have a chance to play with their owners – the more active the play, the better. And, daily walking your dog can assure you of at least a half-hour of exercise, thereby improving your health as well as that of your dog.

They’ll eat your food scraps
Food is costly - both by the price tag and for our ecology. I refuse to throw out food. In my opinion, wasting food is at least a crime and probably a sin. But for now, I can't throw food scraps in a compost heap since we haven’t yet made a   garden in our yard. So, our dog is learning to eat food scraps along with her puppy food.


My belief is that dogs, as omnivorous animals, lived for thousands of years eating whatever they could find, both before and after their domestication. So, if dogs have always had a mix of food, then well-chosen food scraps can’t be bad for them. It also saves us some money. (Besides that, it's a long-standing family tradition to give dogs food scraps, and all our dogs have been healthy animals.)

But, for us, there are some rules to this process. Our dog, Sofi, is now seven months old and is well on her way to being a large dog.

-Dry food is given to her twice a day and food scraps are only given once a day in the evening, and combined half and half with dry food.

-Scraps are grains (bread, tortillas, rice), veggies (almost any kind), small amounts of meat and eggs. We don't offer any foods that are processed nor those that contain sugar.

- Scraps are given only in the food bowl at her regular mealtime, and the dog is not allowed to be in the room when we eat. Of course, she smells our food when we are eating, but we never offer her food at our mealtime. That way, she’ll never be a beggar.


Summer Pasta Salad

Boil bow-tie, elbow pasta, or the pasta that you have on hand. Drain and let cool. Add diced, uncooked or cooked veggies like tomatoes, brocolli, zucchini, olives, onions, and bell peppers. Toss with olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and grated cheese or sour cream. Sprinkle crushed nuts or chopped boiled eggs on top. Let the salad sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.



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