St. John’s

News and Events from St. John's Episcopal Church of Powell, Wyoming.

Prepare yourself: More changes are coming to the church

June 26, 2016 By: St. John’s Category: Inside St. John’s, News, Projects

As the planning for the remodeling comes to its final stages, the building committee will move the furniture to represent the final layout as closely as possible. So, during the summer, the pews in the nave will be repositioned in a chevron shape as depicted in the architect’s drawings. Tape will be used to mark the floor with the two options for shaping the sanctuary. As always, open conversations about the plans, feedback and suggestions are encouraged.

Accepting change, especially significant change to our worship space, can be challenging. In times of transitions, we are called upon to adapt, and grow. It can be demanding, complicated, confusing, frustrating.

Most of us rely on our basic coping strategies: we use our wisdom, tolerance, flexibility and adaptability; we use our sense of humor and irony.

But if these fail us, the one thing we can rely on, the one constant in this sea of change and transition, is God’s grace and love for us. God is always there and always providing us with the love, support and strength to deal with upheaval.

Through faith and prayer, we can find opportunities for hope, growth and second chances. We can respond with words and actions that are grounded in our faith and deep history as a people of God. We can apply the wisdom and insight acquired through our experiences and faith journeys.

This may not mean everything will go our way or that every transition and change will be painless or positive. But God is there for us. In Malachi 3:6 God says, “For I am the Lord, I change not.” Isn’t that comforting? With all the changes, there is one thing that cannot change – God and God’s great love for us.

Need more?

For the Lord will not cast off His people, neither will He forsake His inheritance. — Psalm 94:14

…for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. — Hebrews 13:5

There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no rock like our God. — 1 Samuel 2:2

So let the changes come. We will not walk in fear, but in faith. Yes, prepare yourself: trust God to help us and to bless our work.


November 28, 2015 By: St. John’s Category: Articles, Inside St. John’s

At this time of year the realm of nature becomes still and quiet. People are busy in their homes preparing for the celebrations of the season. Inwardly, it is also a time of preparation, contemplation and hope. We search our hearts, minds, and souls for the inner light that will carry us through the dark days of winter. We wait for Christ with an open heart.

The Season of Advent begins Sunday, November 29. It is also the beginning of the Church year. The word “advent” comes from the Latin adventus meaning “arrival” or “coming,” particularly of something having great importance. In Western Christianity, Advent begins on the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas Day, or the Sunday which falls closest to November 30, and lasts through Christmas Eve, December 24.

Advent is a time of contemplation and anticipation of the birth of Christ. Our days of light grow shorter and the darkness can seem overwhelming at times on many levels. One way of celebrating this season of Advent is through the creation of an Advent Spiral for walking. The tradition of Advent Gardens or Spirals is thought to have originated in Scotland. Evergreen boughs are set up in a spiral shape and seasonally decorated. The space is dark except for a single candle in the center of the spiral. Each participant is given an apple holding a candle. Against the backdrop of quiet seasonal music, participants walk through the spiral to the center, carrying their apple. They light their candles and place it along the spiral path on their return to the start. The surrounding space moves from darkness to light. This is a lovely, quiet way to commemorate the Advent Season in the company of others, and to remember to carry the light within the dark.

This year, St. John’s will again create an Advent Spiral, on Sunday, December 6. Please watch for more details in the Sunday bulletin in regard to the time.

On Saturday, December 12, members of St. John’s will organize at the Nickles’ home at 10am and journey to the Big Horns for our annual Christmas Tree cutting trip. Please note that permits must be obtained prior to that day, as the Lovell Forest Service Office is not issuing these permits.

Another way that St. John’s will be offering support for that inward journey of stillness, quiet and preparation during this season is in the offering of an Evensong service on Thursday evening, December 17, at 7pm. It will be a time of quiet music, sacred reading, communal silence and tending the ground of our inner preparation for Christ’s coming. Please watch the Sunday bulletins for further details.

Will You Continue in the Apostles’ Teaching and Fellowship?

October 18, 2015 By: Meg Nickles Category: Education, Inside St. John’s, Uncategorized

Small Group Studies Offered

LOL in text-speak means “laugh out loud.” But on Wednesday mornings at St. John’s, it means Little Old Ladies. A group of laughing ladies gathers at 10 a.m. with Katy Lytle and Claudia Hassler and are currently reading Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith by Kathleen Norris. Blending history, theology, storytelling, etymology, and memoir, Norris evokes a spirituality rooted firmly in the chaos of everyday life—and offers believers and doubters alike perspective on how we can embrace ancient traditions and find faith in the contemporary world.

Charlotte Patrick is facilitating a 7-week video series on Church History based on Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years by Diarmaid MacCulloch, which was used in EfM. The video series is much abbreviated but should offer a great overview with quality scholarship. The course requires no reading or preparation. Contact:

Megan Nickles will lead a video study featuring Barbara Cawthorne Crafton, Embracing Forgiveness: What it Is and What it Isn’t. The five weekly sessions topics are: Seventy Times Seven: Really?; You have Heard It Said; Chipping Away; How to Start; Why Forgive. This series starts Thursday, October 22 at 7 p.m. A workbook will be provided; preparation for each session is helpful, but not required. Please let Sue Woods know if you are interested in attending. This class will also be available in January. Contact

A men’s group is also forming. Ron Lytle will facilitate this group to explore how the men of St. John’s can find their voice and role in our community. The group itself will decide on group norms, including time and place and will use an 8-week study to provide initial structure— Following Jesus: Invitation to Discipleship. This study seeks to offer guidance for the journey through scripture, commentary, reflection, and prayer.

Powell Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative

August 01, 2015 By: St. John’s Category: News, Outreach, Projects

A few months ago St. John’s agreed to team up with Mountain Spirit Habitat for Humanity in a new project known as Powell Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, or PNRI.  Megan Nickles approached St. John’s Outreach Committee about this project.  We all concurred that this would be purpose-filled work for the Outreach Committee to help Powell residents improve the exterior of their homes and make other needed repairs for safety and comfort.  Our goal is to help home-owners preserve their homes and revitalize their neighborhoods.  Habitat/St. John’s will provide a list of work needed and a financial estimate.  Because we work with volunteers and sponsors we expect our estimates to be affordable.  Habitat offers non-interest bearing loans for up to five years.

We have identified homes that appear to need exterior work, such as paint, safer entrances and yard repair.  This week we mailed letters to identified home-owners, inviting them to attend a meeting at St. John’s on Saturday morning, September 19th, at 10:00 a.m.   We hope a number of those receiving letters will attend this meeting and complete applications.  Our next step would be to schedule visits with the interested applicants at their homes to decide what work needs to be done, including details and timelines for accomplishing the work.

We have already started on our first project, a home on the corner of Division and Avenue E, where a single mother and her four children live.  Due to financial constraints, a broken sprinkler system had not been repaired or replaced.  Megan assured us that Steve was a mechanical genius and could most likely repair the pump.  So, on Steve’s last trip home, he fixed and installed the pump, repaired the sprinklers and saved Habitat/St. John’s approximately $400.  Thank you, Steve!

Our next job at that house is to remove weeds, take out a dead tree, repair a walkway and plant seed or lay sod.  Volunteers are welcome.  Just let Genny Bettger, Bridget Andersen, Sue Woods, Megan Nickles or Carra Wetzel know what you can do and are willing to do.

PNRI is a challenging undertaking, and an exciting one.  Helping make owner-occupied homes safe and attractive is good for the home owner, good for Powell and a wonderful way for St. John’s to reach out into our community.    

As Thomas Merton wrote:  “May we come to know the Christ who is in us when we love and serve one another in true brotherhood, when we realize that we are not our brother’s keeper but our brother’s brother.”

St.John’s partners with the Episcopal Foundation for the Diocese for two community projects

June 01, 2015 By: St. John’s Category: Activities, Outreach, Projects, Uncategorized

In March, St. John’s entered into partnership with our local Habitat for Humanity Affiliate to improve owner-occupied homes as part of Habitat’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI). This mission was awarded a major $50,000 grant from our Diocesan Foundation to support this project.

The NRI preserves existing homes, including repairs and other services which helps families that are already living in their homes, but can no longer afford to maintain them. The NRI starts at the grassroots level — with people in the community determining the goals for their neighborhood. It is a house by house, street by street and neighborhood by neighborhood program to preserve and improve existing homes and build stronger communities.

Our NRI committee has canvased the houses of Powell, and has begun to focus on neighborhoods and particular houses, and will begin making contact with homeowners in the next week or so.

St. John’s was also part of a grant-seeking effort to support families take part in a invigorating winter activity. The grant provides Big Horn Basin families the opportunity to learn to ski at Sleeping Giant Ski Area. The Yellowstone Recreations Foundation, the fund-raising arm for the ski area, is hoping to promote skiing with a $40,000 grant for its family scholarship fund.

Included in the $40,000 from the Diocese were grants from the following local churches: Christ Episcopal Church, Cody ($10,000), St. John’s Episcopal Church, Powell ($500), St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Meeteetse ($100) and St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Basin ($250). The money will be used to finance YRF’s family scholarship fund.

General Manager of Sleeping Giant Jon Reveal said the grant will make a significant impact.

“The scholarship fund identifies people who are unable to afford the expense of skiing,” Reveal said. “We recognize the expense of skiing. …We need special clothing, special equipment.”

The grant offsets more than the lift ticket expenditures. “This grant covers not only their lift tickets but lessons, rentals and season passes,” Woods said. “It’s not just one round of skiing. It covers the whole season.”

Ann Simpson, vice president and chairman of the fundraiser of YRF, said the grant makes it easier for families to spend time together. “It’s to encourage families to ski together,” Simpson said.

If interested in applying for a family scholarship, or if you know someone who might benefit from it, call YRF’s office, 578-6312 or pick up an application at the office, Suite 207, 13th St., Cody or online at the Sleeping Giant website, Click “Contact Us” and select “Scholarships.”

Remember also that all fifth grade students ski free as well, and equipment rentals and one group lesson are included, too!

Looking In, Looking Out

April 19, 2015 By: Meg Nickles Category: Outreach, Projects

St. John’s was established 1909, the year Powell was founded, in a little white country church located on the west side of Bent Street, between 3rd and 4th streets. We moved from Bent Street to our present location in 1967, when it was on the very edge of town; an open irrigation ditch flowed along the street in front, with only a concrete slab to serve as a foot bridge to the long steps up to our front door.

Much has changed in the neighborhood since then – the ditch has been covered, the long steps are gone and housing development has spread to the south and to the west. We are no longer the church on the edge of town.

Even more has changed within the life of church itself. We are well into our 13th year as a shared ministry community, organizing ourselves around our gifts and abilities, working from our areas of power to work with God’s power as a transformational force in the world. As we are beginning a three-phase building revitalization, we hope to maintain the integrity of the building, but to also reflect the deep values we hold now as a shared ministry community.

In the last 106 we have also watched as our oldest, and often most charming neighborhoods devolve into the poorest areas, while the outer edges of town host the biggest and most expensive homes. Many problems of our growing town concentrate themselves into the hole of this doughnut, as our poorest citizens struggle to keep their properties safe and their neighborhoods places of civility free from crime.

The Outreach Committee has partnered with Habitat for Humanity to have a direct, meaningful impact on these houses and homes, and a positive effect on our community as whole. In this work, we will serve as a kind of footbridge for the wider community of Powell to serve those who are struggling with their housing needs.

Housing isn’t just about a roof over your head. Clean, affordable housing creates stability for families and children, a sense of dignity and pride, better health, safety and security and it increases the prospect of educational and job opportunities.

Clean, safe neighborhoods also improve the larger community. How city blocks look can directly affect the behavior of those people who live there and those who pass through there. This is often referred to as “The Broken Window” theory. This theory says that maintaining neighborhoods to prevent small crimes such as vandalism and public drinking or drug use helps to create an atmosphere of order and lawfulness, thereby preventing more serious crimes from happening.

In March, St. John’s entered into partnership with our local Habitat for Humanity Affiliate to improve owner-occupied homes as part of Habitat’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI). The NRI preserves existing homes, including repairs and other services which helps families that are already living in their homes, but can no longer afford to maintain them. The NRI starts at the grassroots level — with people in the community determining the goals for their neighborhood. It is a house by house, street by street and neighborhood by neighborhood program to preserve and improve existing homes and build stronger communities.

This is a three-year commitment from St. John’s to Habitat, to the City of Powell and all of our neighbors who live here.

Briefly, the project works like this: using the Habitat for Humanity model, volunteers from St. John’s will survey Powell neighborhoods to identify at street level which ones may benefit the most from the NRI. This data will be scored and ranked for immediate attention. Realtors will assess each street to identify owner-occupied homes (rental properties do not qualify). Homeowners are then contacted to determine their interest and need – a house that needs attention on the outside often needs it on the inside as well. A homeowner informational meeting will be held at St. John’s to present the program, and to offer help with applications. Approved homeowners will participate in the repairs (sweat equity), working side-by-side with volunteers.

We will all be called to train our gifts into new settings – bringing welcome and acceptance to people who cannot afford to maintain their homes, mentoring these homeowners through the life skill of completing applications and paperwork, creating hospitality for volunteers from around the community, and of course, offering their skills on workdays. Others will bring their experience and leadership into new committee and community settings, as this will be St. John’s first foray into partnering with entities outside our worshiping community.

Other community volunteers will be welcome and we expect other churches to provide volunteer hours, in-kind donations as well as follow-up support for families. St. John’s will be the hub of the volunteer corps, and the leading voice in fundraising and other public relations matters.

We are all looking forward to engaging with Habitat for Humanity to have a direct, meaningful impact on these houses and homes, and a positive effect on our community as whole.

We believe these two projects, our own renovation and the NRI, one that looks in and one that looks out, will complement each other and keep us focused on those Baptismal vows which call us to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves; to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.


January 11, 2015 By: Meg Nickles Category: Articles

Ah-Ha! It’s the moment of sudden realization. A spiritual flash. A revealing scene that opens the door to comprehension or perceptions. You have probably had one —an encounter that changes the way you see things. Or changes the way you see yourself. It may reorder your work flow, solve problems, create understanding, or unblock your conscience. Yep, that’s an epiphany.

 This is the season we celebrate epiphanies. Not just our own, but those moments in our history when the cosmic Spiritual Flash was experienced collectively. When the abstract idea of God became fact and action in Jesus, and the people around him began to see things differently, began to see themselves differently.

 The Epiphany, the big one, is celebrated annually on January 6 each year, in commemoration of the coming of the Magi as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles. The season of Epiphany continues by looking at various events that emphasize the divinity of Jesus. The Baptism of our Lord is observed on the Sunday after Epiphany. The Last Sunday after the Epiphany is always devoted to the Transfiguration, when Jesus’ identity as the Son of God is dramatically revealed.

 The themes of Epiphany are of light, anointing and commissioning for public ministry. This season of the church year gives opportunity to reflect upon our own Baptism and rededicate ourselves to the ministry of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ, which requires changing the way we see things, and especially how we see ourselves.

Chalk One Up

January 11, 2015 By: Meg Nickles Category: Articles

Chalk One Up

A part of church history is the custom of blessing homes during Epiphany. By doing so, we invite Jesus to be a guest in our home, a listener to each conversation, a guide for troubled times, and a blessing in times of thanksgiving.

 “Chalking the door” or the door step may be used as a way to celebrate and literally mark the occasion. In the Old Testament the Israelites were told to mark their doors with the blood of the lamb on the night of the Passover to ensure that the angel of death would pass them by. Deuteronomy 6: 9 says that we shall “write [the words of God] on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house … and you shall write them on the door posts of your house and on your gates.”

 Chalk is made of the substance of the earth. As the image of the chalk fades, we will remember the sign we have made and transfer it to our hearts and our habits.

 Typically, blessed chalk is used to write: 20+C+M+B+15 above the doorways or on the steps: 20 for the century; C, M, B for the 3 Magi (Casper, Melchior, and Balthasar) and for Christus Mansionem Benedicat, (Latin for “May Christ Bless this House)” and 15 for the year.

 Chalk will be blessed during our regular service on January 11, 2015. Each household may take a packet with chalk and suggestions for prayers and markings to welcome and invite the Christ in each who crosses the threshold.


March 07, 2014 By: Meg Nickles Category: Articles, Education

Updated March 29

Impedimenta are the things that impede our freedom and weigh us down. In this season our challenge at St. John’s is to slough some of that off by getting rid of 40 things in our household during the 40 days of Lent. Our economy and culture demand that we have more stuff to be more like ourselves, but the opposite is true. Kathleen Norris writes to this point in The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women’s Work.

I sense that striving for wholeness is, increasingly, a countercultural goal, as fragmented people make for better consumers, buying more bits and pieces – two or more cars, two homes and all that fills them – and outfitting one’s body for a wide variety of identities: business person, homebody, amateur athlete, traveler, theater or sport’s fan. Things exercise a certain tyranny over us.  Whenever I am checking bags at an airport, I recall St. Teresa of Avila’s wonderful prayer of praise, “Thank you God for the things I do not own.”

For the next six weeks, we will offer encouragement, information, useful links, and resources of letting go of clutter and cumber that clog our homes and daily living. In doing so, we can make room for right relationship with the items that really do matter to us, and with the people we care for and the God who loves us.

Like all Lenten practices, it is meant to make room for the new life we celebrate in Easter. But general housekeeping is a spiritual practice for the whole year, as tedious as it can often be. Again, Kathleen Norris:

Things are truly baggage, our impedimenta, which must be maintained with work that is menial, steady and recurring. But, like liturgy, the work of cleaning draws much of its meaning and value from repetition, from the fact that it is never completed, but only set aside until the next day. Both liturgy and what is euphemistically termed “domestic” work also have an intense relation with the present moment, a kind of faith in the present that fosters hope and makes life seem possible in the day-to-day.

It isn’t always easy, to be sure, to have the kind of faith that fostesr hope when sifting through the piles of paper and mis-matched socks. Keep these things in mind: 1. Prepare to feel worse before you feel better. When you get rid of things, you’ll focus on what you paid or you may feel shame about the money you’ve wasted. Breathe in, and release both the negative feelings and the item to the universe and to God, and then 2. Forgive yourself. When the feelings of shame surface, take a moment to say, “I forgive myself” and then keep going. Finally, if you need it, get help. Do you have a friend who can sit with you while you work? Or who can cart the bags and boxes to the car and haul them away? Companionship can make any job a cheerful one. Just ask the ladies at the Thrift Shop.

And too, as we heard on Ash Wednesday, God is with you, sitting on chair reading a book while you work.

The full text of the reflection from Ash Wednesday is available here.

Let It Go

Lent  4:  Getting to more difficult areas
– kid’s rooms and toys, electronics, and unfinished projects; the garage, and the attic.

Yikes.  That’s a lot to think about.  These are where serious emotional landmines can be hidden, and the sheer volume of stuff to handle, sort, clean, cart off and put away can be daunting.  There is lots of help available on line – here are a few links to good practical information for these areas.


Children’s Toy Room

Declutter with your Kids


Recycling For Charities

How to Dispose of Unwanted Electronics

Unfinished Projects

How to Declutter Projects


15 Steps to an Organized Garage

4 Steps to an Clean Out Your Garage!


Organize Your Attic


Getting over mental road blocks can often be the hardest part of delving into these jobs.

If you feel discouraged just thinking about starting on these areas, know that you are not the only one.  And know that that letting go of things that no longer bring you satisfaction or joy, or are not useful to you, is a spiritual practice.  Go easy on yourself with the harsh self-criticism and guilt, and strive to accomplish something; do not strive to be perfect.

Try these tips when you’re trying to attack an out-of-control area with lots of clutter.

Force yourself to actually look at individual items, even picking them up one by one to help you focus.

Start with the first item you see that you know what to do with. If it’s trash and you’re going to put it in the garbage can, or it belongs in a certain drawer or file elsewhere in the house, grab it and put it in the can you have for trash or the “Relocate” box. You are using the Three Boxes and a Can method, right?

Spread things out a little. Then force yourself to look at individual items. When you’re looking at a pile or stack of stuff, you can be overwhelmed and see the forest rather than the trees.

Pray.  Close your eyes and ask God to bless your work for the good of the Kingdom and for your place in it.

Try using these questions to help decide what’s important and what’s not.

  • How long has it been since I used this?
  • Do I like it?
  • Does it work properly – is it broken?
  • Do I have more of this kind of thing? How many do I need?
  • If I keep this, what will I get rid of to make room for it?
  • Can I locate this information somewhere else (probably on the Internet) if I need it?

There are other, mental roadblocks that may be buzzing around in your head, like

I know how to do this, and I should be able to do it, but somehow I just can’t make myself.

I can’t put it away – I’ll never find it again.

I can’t get rid of this. It cost too much!

I don’t know where to put this.

I am afraid I’ll need something right after I get rid of it.

Suggestions for dealing with these issues and more is here

Barriers to Getting Organized


Lent 3:  Small areas — junk drawers, night stand, medicine cabinet, the car

Start small, with one particular area. Begin with whatever irritates you most. OR begin with whatever seems the easiest.  A simple, manageable job completed quickly will be motivating and rewarding.  But start.

  1. Empty everything from the drawer or cabinet or car and then clean the drawer or cabinet or car.
  2. To sort items, use the Three Boxes and Can method: one box each for things to keep, to relocate to another room, to give away/sell/recycle, and the can is for trash. 
  3. For the things that don’t fit into any of the sorting guides, use the “hide it” method.  Dump the pile into a box or paper bag, tape it shut, label it and hide it for 30 days. If you didn’t miss it, release it to the universe by throwing it away.  Don’t peek to try and remember what you might have forgotten.  Too scary?  Then hide it for 3 months and take another look before getting rid of things – but make sure it is a hard, ruthless look.
  4. If you need tubs, bins or baskets to tidy the items you keep, measure your drawers, cupboards and shelves before you go to the store.  This step is done ONLY after you sorting is complete.
  5. Clean up items before putting away – the mirrors on make-up compacts, the buttons on the calculator, a new rubber band around the tape measure.
  6. Take out that trash.  No stalling on this important step.

The Car:

Store the following in the glove compartment: vehicle registration information, proof of insurance, auto club information, notepad, pen, disposable camera (to document an accident), flashlight, tire gauge, owner’s manual, maps. Combine paper napkins, straws and packages of ketchup in Ziploc bags or boxes and store them elsewhere in the car.

An emergency kit includes booster cables, a tire gauge, flares, reflective tape, a help sign, a screwdriver, pliers, a first aid kit, work gloves, a blanket, an old towel or rags, a jug of water and motor oil.  An old, clean shower curtain stored in the trunk comes in handy as a cover for a summer picnic table, a drop cloth for changing a tire or a protective tarp

Bathroom and medicine cabinets:

Three bottles of shampoo with 1 inch of product in the bottom?  Combine all three into the hand soap dispenser.   Get rid of expired prescription and over the counter medicines.  Check with your pharmacy or doctor to see if they have medication disposal receptacles. Do not flush unused or expired medications down the toilet as they may contaminate the water system.  Consider storing these items in another area of your home where heat and humidity are lower.

More on bathrooms at Organized Bathrooms: Clean and Clutter-Free


Lent 2:  Another Easy Week — Food

The purpose of a pantry is to be ready to cook dinner – ideally, several dinners as well as lunch and breakfast through the week.   A well-ordered pantry saves money, saves last-minute trips to the grocery store and reduces the 4:30 what-to-fix-for-dinner panic. A pantry, or any food cupboard, serves its purpose best when it’s organized and everything is used regularly.

But this area of our house often goes awry.  You know things have gone south into the clutter zone when your pantry is full of food, but

  • you look in there and decide you have nothing to eat.
  • that you would rather not eat it as long as there are other choices available.
  • Even though it is “good to have,” your family doesn’t eat it, and you won’t use it in a normal week.

Working to de-clutter the pantry is fairly easy:  toss old food, toss food you won’t eat.  If it has expired or has not been used in the last 6-12 months, out it goes (exception:  holiday decorating supplies).  Duplicates could be consolidated into glass or plastic containers.  Pay close attention to bags of grains and flours and discard anything with pantry moths or other kitchen pests.  Please bring any fresh, edible food you find to the church for the Loaves and Fishes basket.

How long do spices last? According to McCormick,

  • Seasoning blends: 1-2 years
  • Herbs: 1-3 years
  • Ground spices: 2-3 years
  • Whole spices (such as cinnamon sticks and peppercorns): 3-4 years
  • Extracts: 4 years (except for pure vanilla, which lasts indefinitely)
  • Herbs and seasonings are food – if they don’t look, smell or taste good, toss.

The same rules apply to the refrigerator and freezer.

  • Ketchup: 6 months
  • BBQ Sauce: 4 months
  • Pure Maple Syrup: 12 months
  • Salsa: 3 days (fresh), 1 month (commercially produced, jarred)
  • Olives: 2 weeks (canned and jarred, airtight, covered in brine), 1-2 months (from the deli)
  • Mustard: 12 months
  • Pickles: 1-2 weeks (homemade or barrel), 2 months (commercially produced)
  • Jam and Jelly: 6 months

An exellent piece about de-cluttering your kitchen is here.  Save Time, Cut Clutter: Kitchen Declutter


Lent 1: The Easy Stuff – Clothes

Make three piles: keep, give away, and throw away. Get rid of clothes that:

  • Don’t fit or fit poorly. Even the ones you are saving for when you lose weight.
  • Are damaged or stained (these go to the trash, not the give-away pile).
  • You don’t look or feel good in them.
  • The golden rule: If you haven’t worn something in a year then out it goes regardless of condition, price or size. If you haven’t worn it during the year, you probably never will. Exceptions: good suit or dress for weddings or funerals, or other occasional events. But be very honest with yourself on this one.
  • The fact that you were given something as a gift or bought it on sale doesn’t mean that it’s worth keeping. There’s no shame in getting rid of something that doesn’t add anything to your wardrobe. Sentimental clothes that you aren’t wearing should not reside in your closet. Either take a picture of it and preserve the memory or limit yourself to one tote of “clothes to show my kids so they can laugh at me someday.”
  • If it’s waiting to be mended and it’s been waiting for a long time then enough is enough already. If you hate to iron and your ironing pile sits there totally neglected while you wear all your favorite clothing over and over again, why do you still have an ironing pile?
  • Try things on. Do not hold something up and say “Oh this is so beautiful I’m going to keep it.” What you might not remember is that, although it’s beautiful, the buttons gape at the front.
  • Block out some time to do this all at once, or you can do this a parcel at a time, such as one drawer, one shelf or one tote a day, or work for 30 minutes a day until done. Make shopping list as you go if you need to replace items.

There are many good websites with this and additional information:

Clean out your closet

Getting Rid of Clothing

Breaking the Sentimental Attachment to Books

Books You Can Live Without


Blessings in a Backpack

October 15, 2013 By: Meg Nickles Category: Local events, Outreach, Projects

Blessings in a Backpack is up and running at all three elementary schools in Powell, feeding 73 kids a week. A small team of coordinators at Union Presbyterian Church keep the project organized, although it is a community-wide effort.

Blessings in a Backpack, a national non-profit, provides elementary schoolchildren who are on the federal Free and Reduced Price Meal Program with a backpack of food to take home for 38 weekends during the school year. Backpack food includes easy-to-prepare, ready-to-eat foods, like granola bars, juice boxes, mac and cheese, and oatmeal. The difference in academics, school attendance, behavior and health between a well-nourished child and a hungry child is profound.

In Powell, each backpack averages about $6.50 per child; or just under $475 per week. Both IGA and Blair’s give food at cost to the program, but several items are only available at WalMart.

In 2012, St. John’s supported this project with $500 from the general budget, and we plan to continue to give to this program in 2013. You may make a donation to the Outreach Committee if you wish to be part of our gift this year, or if you wish to help with packing, come on Thursdays at 3:30 pm each week to the Presbyterian Church.

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