Friday, October 12, 2012

Feeling Beachie Four Fill-In Follow Friday ~ 10/12

Time for another round of get to know your blogger with Feeling Beechie's Blog Hop.  Each week, Feeling Beachie lists four statements with a blank for bloggers to fill in (if you don't have a blog, leave a comment!).

This week's statements are:

1)  Given the choice of cake or salsa'n'chips for snack time I’d pick the salsa'n'chips.

2)  If you told me I would call my mother weekly, apologizing, sometimes with humor and sometimes sincere (as I raise my children), I would never have believed you.

3)   The last time I cooked orange chicken it came out a bit too orange-y...need to use less OJ next time.

4)  My favorite color is peach.

There ya go!   What about you?

Hugs & Prayers,

Five Question Friday - 10/12

It's Five Question Friday time again. (Again?!?  What happened to the past seven days?  They have flown by!)   In case you aren't familiar with 5QF, every Friday My Little Life puts up five questions.  Bloggers answer and then link up. The most important part of this process is to have fun!

Today's Q&A:

1)  Did you have any homecoming traditions?  Well, seeing as I went to a small inner city school, our homecoming was pretty much the dance.  Got together, hung out with my girlfriends to get ready.  It was my Junior year homecoming prep that we found my first gray hairs.

2)  Do you ask your spouse before spending money?  It depends on what it is for.  We discovered long ago that it was easier for us to have two budgets, a main one and then a micro one for the household needs (groceries, cleaning, clothing) and I handle that one almost exclusively with a set amount he gives me each month.  For big purchases or for something outside the scope of our current budget we do talk with each other and pray about it, or I'll ask him about it and save up for it.

3)  If you could be famous for something what would it be for?  Wow.  Tough question.  If it was for anything I wanted it would be that people would see Jesus in me before they see me.  If it's for an ability or talent or something that I currently have, probably something creative (crochet, etc.) or for my mini apple pie tarts.  Truth be told though, I'm more of a behind-the-scenes kinda gal, and don't often seek the limelight so this is a moot question since I wouldn't seek fame.

4)  Have you ever seriously thought you were going crazy?  SNORT!  Personally, I think most women on the planet have felt this way at one time or another (even if they don't admit it to anyone).  But yes, too many times to count.  Thankfully am learning each day to take thoughts captive!

5)  How do you eat your steak/burger?  (as in well-done, medium, still mooing)   I don't like my meat charcoaled crisp, but neither do I want it still mooing.  I prefer medium well, leaning more to the well-done side with just a HINT of pink.

And that's the info for the week--what about you? 

Hugs & Prayers,

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Made It Hap-Pin! ~~ Balloons Two Ways

Today's post is about a Pinterest pin (or two, actually) that I tried over my blogging hiatus.  We had a small surprise dinner for my Mother's birthday.  My brother was in charge of the food (which he rocked!) and I handled the decorations.

In truth, there wasn't much to do yet I wanted to add some fun and quirky touches around to birthday-up the place.  We also wanted something the children could help with (my niece is an awesome balloon-blower-upper!).  So, I logged into to my handy "Party Ideas" board on Pinterest and two balloon pins caught my eye.

The pin to create the flower balloons is HERE, but in the interest of fairness, I believe that this lady also made hers from another site, which she links to on her post (see link in pin).

The second pin, I didn't get a photo of finished project, but it was to create a string of balloons and can be found HERE.

* ~ * ~ *

So, were they worth the Pinspiration?


For the flower balloons, I confess that I eyeballed the size instead of making the templates.  I did end up with two sizes of balloons by accident (9" royal blue, 9" yellow and 12" baby blue).  Because I tried to keep them the same size, the 12" balloon flower came out "puffy".  We had to put tape between the "petals" to keep them together.  On reflection, if I have two different sizes again I will simply make the 12" balloon flower larger so they hold their shape better. Otherwise, we did as she instructed and the flowers came out so cute.  My brother had fishing wire which we used to hang the balloons, and I taped the wire to one side of a balloon petal to keep the balloon flower upright.  If you count blowing up the balloons, it took approximately 15-20 minutes to make each flower.

If you're looking for a great way to hang a bunch of balloons at once or "between" posts, etc., I heartily recommend using your needle and thread (or fishing wire)!   That said, next time I will sew the fishing wire through the actual knots.  I put the needle through the ends of the balloon just past the knots and the balloons slid back and forth a bit too much.  Made it easy to place them, but they wouldn't stay where I put them.

So, these two pins are keepers and I will definitely be using them in the future!

Have you made a pin hap-pin lately?  Please, blog and share in the comments below so I can check it out!

Hugs & Prayers,

Friday, October 5, 2012

My Little Life - Five Question Friday for 10/5

It's 5QF time again!  Yeah, two posts in one day, but it's gray and rainy and my motivation to do much else has fled and is probably hiding in the pile of laundry that you are pretending you don't see (or is that me?).

In case you aren't familiar with 5QF, every Friday My Little Life puts up five questions.  Bloggers answer and then link up. The most important part of this process is to have fun!

1)  What album/cd/download are you embarrassed to admit you have?  Oh my.  I just cleared out the cds and albums so there is nothing in that.  Downloads?  You might just have me there since we have one account for the family.  You might think it would be my daughter's music  but I think if I had to narrow it down to a single choice, it's a download that another family member wanted, an entire album of Adam Ant. 

2)  What's the one thing your spouse does better than you?   ONE THING?!?  There are so many, but I will own up now that when it comes to waking up at half past O'dark to handle a child's problem he has always been better at that.  Besides, daddies make better nightmare-slayers and good night prayers, don't you think?  Which is wonderful because he looks so much better on less sleep than I do.  Talk about scary!  EEK!

3)  When do you start buying Halloween candy?  I don't, for various reasons.  Used to start getting it as soon as it came out though, one package or two each paycheck.  We never did figure out how come we still had to purchase more the week before...(scratching head)...

4)  Family closets - Yay or Nay?  Um, no.  Developing a headache even thinking about it.   Seriously though, congrats to those who can do it, we just aren't gifted enough to handle it!

5) Which home/cleaning chore do you hate the most?  Why?  Ha.  Ha ha.  Hahahahhaha....  Okay, in all honesty, I don't mind doing some (translation - I don't hate them), but if I had to answer going by the thing that I struggle with the most, it would have to be the dreaded putting-the-laundry-away chore.  I don't know why.  Perhaps it's because I fear it's all a dream and that there is no truly clean laundry and I want to savor looking at it to cherish those few, brief shining moments when it's clean. 

Speaking of laundry, time to go see if my pesky motivation really did burrow into that pile waiting by the machine.  You all have a great weekend!

Hugs & Prayers,

Feeling Beachie Four Fill-In Follow Friday ~ 10/5

I figure that I'll ease back into blogging by following some prompts. There are some great link-up parties out there and Pamela over at Troop Petrie always finds interesting ones so am following her lead today.  (Psst...If you haven't visited her in a while be sure to go read about her weight loss and new hair and give her a big congrats!)

Each week, Feeling Beachie lists four statements with a blank for bloggers to fill in (if you don't have a blog, leave a comment!).

This week's statements are:

1)  I am very preciousConfession:  I was going to write "undisciplined", but I am taking a Bible study class on what it means to be a daughter of the Most High God and am trying to remember how He sees me instead of constantly looking at my flaws because He is sanctifying me daily.

2)  I am most comfy in my jammies!

3)  You will never believe what I saw on my way home from work one day.  It's been quite a few years since I've worked outside the home so am trying to of my most clear memories is the Flood of '93, when I saw the water from the Mississippi up to the Arch stairs.

4)  My morning don't start until caffeine happens.

And there you go, my four for this Friday.  :)

Hugs & Prayers,

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Five Minute Friday - STRETCH

It's  Five Minute Friday and we're linking up with the Five Minute Flash Mob at Tales from a Gypsy Mama

Five Minute Friday


Today is my birthday.

Tonight, my husband, children, family and friends stretched my heart to overflowing with love and kindness and just such wonderful blessing I could cry.  But this week wasn't all roses and it reminded me of other ways that I need to stretch myself.

A burned out oven and six dozen cookies waiting to be baked can make one frazzled.  A screen door requiring a special spline which is only discovered AFTER you've taken it apart can make one frustrated.  A package that was not mailed and discovered weeks later can make one feel like a screw-up.  Etc. Etc.

Yeah, I did the whole condemnation scene, until I remembered that there is no condemnation in Christ.  There is correction and learning, and that's what I needed most.  There is love and humility and there is grace.  Grace.

God reminded me through these circumstances that I often neglect to extend mercy and grace over my own mistakes and that is why sometimes they get the better of me.  He reminded me that I do need to learn from them, but most importantly that they are there oftentimes to remind me just how much I need Him.  He's strength to my weakness.  He's grace to my condemnation.

So, tonight, I felt that grace and that love abounding and I hope to carry it into the next week, no matter what.  To model for my precious children that no matter what comes my way, my arms and heart will stretch out for the One who can give peace, understanding, healing, forgiveness, correction and that wonderful, wonderful grace!


Friday, July 20, 2012

Frugality in the Fridge ~ Dairy

With the drought hitting over half the country and the disasters around the world, we've all begun to see the prices of foods go up.  I hope to continue to provide you with frugal ways to save money around the house, and this particular post might help give you just a few ideas to save some money on dairy products.  Take a moment and consider what would work for you and your family and perhaps use it as a springboard to come up with your own ideas. 

NOTE:  I am not including instructions.  There are videos on YouTube, and all kinds of sites out there offering the how-tos of some of these suggestions.  I encourage you to seek out these as best you can.

~ If you don't already, consider using powdered milk for most of your cooking needs and use fresh milk for drinking, coffee, etc.

~ If you preserve (canning), consider freezing or canning butter.  It can be done if the butter is clarified.  You can get it when it goes on sale, save a few pennies.

~ Consider mixing your butters with healthy oils.  You can purchase a butter/oil mixture, but did you know you can make your own?  It would stretch the butter by halving it with the oil.  We use the olive oil mixed butter and you cannot tell the taste difference from butter.

~ Make your own ice cream.  Healthier for you plus you can make it special with things to please your family.

~ If you haven't already, switch to lower fat milks or fat free.  They do cost less than their red-capped/blue-capped counterparts and are better for you.

~ Maybe check into nut milks (almond, etc.) and see if the cost will be beneficial.  We don't use them so I don't know about the cost involved, but know people who do and enjoy them.  You can also make them yourself.

Do you have some tips to save on dairy products?  Please be sure to leave a comment and share with us all!


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Garden Update ~ Container Garden

Now, this is where I feel most comfortable as I tried it last year and had some marginal success.  I did opt for larger pots this year, hoping that will help.  I also tried a different potting mix and made it more like the mix I used in the raise beds.

For my pots this year I used a mixture of potting soil, peat hummus, mushroom compost and vermiculite, using organic whenever possible.

We have a selection of plants, and here's where most of my heirlooms are right now.  I currently have my jalepenos up here, but am debating moving the pots down closer to the beds.  At any rate, we have two kinds of grape tomatoes (red and yellow), a larger tomato called Black Pineapple, a special cucumber plant we wanted to try call Dragon's Egg (they are white), some some red and yellow onions and a few garlic.  Here are just a couple of early morning pics (sorry, didn't get the tomatoes or dragon's egg cucumber yet)...


jalepeno, one bloom

And that's the garden so far...will update in a few weeks or when the first bits of harvest come in!  Hope you have a fabulous day and if you're growing something, be sure to let me know where you blogged about it so I can check it out!


Garden Update ~ Raised Beds

This year, after 15 years of living in this house we just discovered that one of the trees on the side of the house is a white mulberry tree.  That was a thrill this summer!   Back by this tree is also one of the only mainly sunny spots in our not-front-yard.  This area is where I put in the two beds.  After viewing Back To Eden film, I decided to give it a try only make it into a square-foot garden.  When I got going, I decided to make two beds, based on the "walls" I had that were "preset" size.  One bed ended up being 5'x5' and the other ended up being 4'x4'.

In the 5'x5' bed I have some radishes, zucchini and cucumber.  They are doing wonderfully and I was so excited to see the zucchini blooming this morning and watch a big ol' bumble bee come and buzz around the cucumber flowers.  

Upper Two Pics:  Cucumbers.  Lower Three Pics:  Zucchini Squash

In the 4'x4' bed is watermelon and okra.  We are struggling with these two this year.  Originally direct-sowed 3 watermelon and 6 okra.  Only two okra came up.  So, started seeds in pots~ 3 watermelon and 4 okra.  Only one watermelon germinated and while all four okra germinated, three were killed in transplant.  So, we are down to limited numbers and lots of space left in this bed.  I'll use this bed for spinach/lettuce/cabbage later this fall.  Something has been eating the leaves of the okra plants, so praying hard that they manage to come up and survive. Because of couple weeks delay in germinating, these are not as large as other plants yet, just made the cut on seeding.

Malali Watermelon


And now we finish up on the deck!  See you in a few...


Garden Update ~ Front

We tore out some monster shrubs last year that were in front of our home.  When deciding what to replace it with, we knew we wanted a ground cover.  I remembered a landscaping show I had watched that talked about using strawberry plants as ground cover in place of ivy or something else.  Since I love strawberries it was a no-brainer.  Last year I planted ten, and then in an effort to kill the snails/slugs that were eating the fruit, I accidentally killed most of them.  :(  Four or five came back (though a couple have since died), and so I purchased three more from farmer's market.  It will be a couple of years before they "cover" the area intended, but until then, they still look awfully nice out there.

June Bearing Strawberry

Also in this "bed" area, I have a few plants called "Mole Fear" which I picked up from local Farmer's Market.  Last year our neighbor had some moles going through their yard.  I thought it wouldn't hurt to try.  These plants have an oil in their roots to keep moles away.  I will say, they must have worked because the moles did not come over into our yard (and there is no fence to prevent them).  That said, it doesn't work on other types of critters, like ground squirrels.  They are supposed to be annuals, but two of the three plants came back this year, and here's one of them, bolting (flowering).

Mole Fear, in bloom

Over to the side, we have three huge planters and in those I have Roma tomato plants.  They have been flowering for about a week now and I just noticed our first Roma tomato growing (this morning!)  Can you see it?

Our first Roma!
Oh!  I also have some very delicious smelling basil growing in one of the Roma pots, and a second one growing by itself in a pot on the front stoop.  This one is Cinnamon Basil.  The only problem is that both plants are starting to turn woody too quickly.  I'm wondering if the crazy temperature cycles are doing it (one week 90s, one week 70s, repeat.)

Cinnamon Basil

And finally, I couldn't wait for my tomato seedlings to grow, so I gave in and purchased and Early Girl Tomato plant.  It will probably be the last year I do this since I'm trying hard to switch over to all heirlooms and organic (non-gmo, etc.).  But this little plant has been a good producer.  We've had over half a dozen tomatoes from it, lost about 7-10 when it kept getting knocked over, but there are still a bunch on the vines, as you can see.  This plant also sits on my front stoop (don't want the tomatoes out front to pollinate with my heirlooms in back).

Early Girl tomatoes 

And that's the garden update for the front of the house...onto the back!



Well, you all might or might not know about my attempts at gardening.  If you were a follower last spring, then you know I was determined to grow at least one little carrot (well, not a carrot, but one little something...anything!).  It was a big learning year.  We managed to eek out a handful or two of strawberries, got a couple of cucumbers (most didn't pollinate right), and a whole slew of cherry tomatoes and a few hot peppers and tiny bell peppers.  Not too shabby.

This year I wanted to try again, and after watching this documentary (Back to Eden), I was inspired to give raised bed gardening a try, combining it a bit with square foot gardening since there aren't many areas in my back yard that get a substantial amount of sunshine each day.  I also decided to stick with the tried and true front little "bed" and my container garden on the deck, though I did buy bigger pots this year.  With this method, I use a lot less water because the natural mulch holds in the moisture longer another plus for our budget.

I am trying to switch over to all heirloom, but didn't get to this year.  I did support my local farmer's market though and purchased some plants from there.  Hoping next year will be a straight heirloom year.

BTW, if you haven't already watched the above-mentioned documentary, it's really chock full of information and just good fun about God's covering and how this man came to garden the way he does.  My favorite part is when he tells a man that he needs to "ask his mentor" about something, then he goes inside and prays.  I think we often forget God is everything to us.  That just tickled me when he said that though, lol.  :) 

Okay, back to my garden.  Since this is the first time sharing with you, have some pretty pics and it might get a little long.  To break it up and make it easier to digest (pardon the pun), will separate the areas into separate posts and include the pics there.  :)

What have you planted this year?   How is your garden doing?

Slacker Blogging

Okay, first off, giving a shout out to my girl (you know who you are, J!  LOL) who reminded me that I've been slacking when it comes to the blog!

<hanging head>

Of course, she's correct but in my defense I have been very busy in real life so at least the blog slacking has not been in vain.  It's been a whirlwind of activity around our home for the past two months.  I hope to catch you all up soon with photos, memories and fun.

Missed you all much!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Orange Chicken Recipe Pin - Late Pick-A-Pin Monday Post

Join me as I join and online partner in pins! Our goal is simple: Use Those Pins! Pinterest is such a wonderful site, especially for creative people or planning people. One problem that usually happens though for a lot of is that we spend more time pinning rather than doing. And that amounts to virtual clutter! (tsk tsk, lol) So, our goal is to do one pin each week--be it trying a new recipe or hairstyle, or maybe creating some fabulous piece of craft inspiration, or gardening, etc. We'll post the pin we propose to do that week in our Monday blogs and make sure we join the link part (see below). On Fridays we will reveal the results!

Are you ready? GREAT! You can start by visiting Knit Together for the link-up party!

Now, onto the fun stuff....

This week, I'm going to try another new recipe. My family likes chinese food and this pin promises "none of the crazy stuff" usually called for in recipes. We'll see if it compares.


My original pin is HERE.
To go directly to the blog where this recipe came from, go HERE.

Happy Pin-creating this week. I hope to see what you've been up to soon. :)


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring is in the Air!

Wow! Can you believe this crazy weather? Our lowest predicted low in the next ten days is usually our high this time of year. Are you in one of the many cities that had record-breakers today?

More importantly, were you able to get out and enjoy this day the Lord made?

I sure did--a few times--and yes, there was much joy in it. :)

Here's a pic I snapped off this morning, just as the sun was coming up over the horizon. We are in full bloom here in our neck of the woods and even the flowering buds are springing forth!

On days like today you can almost hear your garden calling you to come out and play. Deep Roots At Home has a very helpful to-do list that makes a great checklist for gardeners! I've been using it myself and it's motivated me to get plans out of my mind and get my body into action. To see her list, click HERE.

For now though, go for a walk or sit or sit on your porch and sip a tea and be sure to rejoice in this utterly beautiful March day.

Wishing you a Blessed Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Grandma's Cellar ~ Being Prepared Series

(The next installment in a series on preparation. You can find other posts covered by searching this blog for "Preparedness".)

She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.
Proverbs 9:2

It was always dark in the cellar. Dark enough that I would hug my doll tight as I crept down the steep stairs behind grandma, watching out to make sure I didn't hit my head on the overhang. She led the way, opening the door to the laundry room, and over to an aged wooden door that led to a wonderful room we weren't allowed to go in. She used an old skeleton key to unlock and I can still remember how it felt to hold my breath, waiting, as she twisted the glass doorknob. That old door creaked just the slightest bit when she opened it then she disappeared into the darkness. One, two, three...SNAP! The familiar sound of the pull-string light was confirmed by the sudden brighteness. I couldn't go further than the doorway...but there it was...a room full of home-canned goodness. Along two walls (I couldn't see behind the door) I saw jars and jars of homemade apple butter, canned tomatoes, beans, and so much more. It was a place that lives on in my memory, even though I wasn't part of the process (we weren't allowed in the room when the pressure canner was working), it fascinated me.

In truth, there probably weren't as many jars as my child mind wants to believe. And the cellar, well, when the house was new it might have been a true cellar. It still had the old-fashioned cellar door like Dorothy fruitlessly tugged on in the Wizard of Oz, paint chipping off until grandpa put a new coat of whitewash on it, complete with stone stairs leading down to the very heavy, very thick inner door. Alas, the root cellar is long gone, paved in and even carpeted for most part. Plumbing filled in the ceiling with it's long pipes and even the lights were definitely a "modern" feature even with their string pulls. But that room, it still reminds me of old fashioned days.

More than that. It reminds me of old-fashioned ways.

You see, while grandma stored up the fresh bounty of her garden it was never in excess (and she was always certain to share her apple butter with me!). She had enough to help take care of her husband and even the children who moved on with their children, should they need a jar of green beans or a sweet for toast (hey, can I help it if I love apple butter?).

That's what we are getting at here. The point of a pantry is prepare for hard times, but to also be wise in what you have and how much.

The key in successful food storage is this: STORE, NOT HOARD.

Yes, the sale on tins of sardines might be great. Yes, they are a source of good protein, should you need them in an emergency. That said, let's be realistic! If you don't usually eat them, they are not going to be such a great value. Say it's February and the weather has turned so nasty that you aren't going anywhere for a few days. How appetizing does that tin of sardines look to you now?

When we store foods we won't use or can't use before they go bad, that's hoarding. I would like to encourage you to pray about this (I've certainly had to and probably will have to again) because sometimes in our enthusiasm to prepare and provide, we can go a little crazy.

One other thing...I've had people ask me what's the point? If a tornado (flood, power out, etc.) is going to hit your house you'll just lose it all anyway. Let's go back to what I said in the first part of this series. If it does, then you start over with everything. But what if it doesn't? What if it's the neighbor's house that gets hit and yours is still standing. But power is down, roads are closed and you have no where to go.

God has not called everyone to prepare their pantries for everyday or emergency prep and I suggest you seek His wisdom in your own case. I've seen the arguments for and against. This is not a pro or con discussion. This series is to help you, if you want, to prepare a pantry like grandma's.

So, this week, before we start digging into lists and whatnot, think about your family's needs. What do you and your loved ones enjoy? What is shelf-stable? What can you freeze? Where will you put things? Do you have room if you shift a few things around? What can you use to store some foods in? Think about these things and begin making your plans.

Remember, FEMA recommends at least 72 hours worth of supplies for emergency planning. For some time they said up to two weeks, but I can't seem to find it on their website right now (wonder if that has to do with HS suspicious list of more than a week's worth of food??). At any rate, it's just smart business to have things on hand to help you save money and take care of your family.

Next week, 72 Hours Kits - the beginning!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monkey Muffins ~ a Pick-a-Pin Monday Post!

Join me as I join and online partner in pins! Our goal is simple: Use Those Pins! Pinterest is such a wonderful site, especially for creative people or planning people. One problem that usually happens though for a lot of is that we spend more time pinning rather than doing. And that amounts to virtual clutter! (tsk tsk, lol) So, our goal is to do one pin each week--be it trying a new recipe or hairstyle, or maybe creating some fabulous piece of craft inspiration, or gardening, etc. We'll post the pin we propose to do that week in our Monday blogs and make sure we join the link part (see below). On Fridays we will reveal the results!

Are you ready? GREAT! You can start by visiting Knit Together for the link-up party!

Now, onto the fun stuff....

This week, I'm going to try a new recipe. I usually enjoy everything that comes from The Pioneer Woman, and this week's pin looks like it will not be an exception (my mouth is watering already)...


Yup, small mini versions of monkey bread. I have some biscuits that need to be used up and think this would be just the fun thing to do with them! :)

My original pin is HERE.
The recipe for Pioneer Woman can be found HERE.

Happy Pin-creating this week. I hope to see what you've been up to soon. :)


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Great God! ~ A Sing Your Praise Sunday Post

A friend of mine posted this video on her FB wall a little bit ago and it was not only a fun trip down memory lane, it's a song of total praise, proclaiming the many attributes of our God!

Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever. And all the Saints say, "Holy...holy...holy...holy...holy...holy is His Name!"

(sorry, link deleted, if you are interested, please go visit YouTube and see Carman's "Great God" for videos)

Hugs, Love & Prayers,

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Be an Original

It's not often that I will create a post specifically to direct you to another blogger's post, so I hope you can bear with me and take the time to read Servant, Wife, Mother's post titled Blogland Blues.

Even if you are not a blogger, you can still be blessed with the underlying message of being who God created you to be and fulfilling the purpose He set out for you alone. No one else can be you.

This post hit home for me, as it was an issue I dealt with late last year, why I felt this blog was getting off-track. I think it will touch your heart as well.

To read Heather's post, click HERE.

Until later,

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Being Prepared - Powerless Cooking Options

(The next installment in a series on preparation. You can find other posts covered by searching this blog for "Preparedness".)

She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.
Proverbs 9:2

When we left off this series I was going to do a post on powerless cooking, aka solar cooking. Since then I have come across many articles on the internet that talk of solar cooking and how to make your own solar oven or even where you can purchase them.

ETA...I have to be honest here and tell you that while doing this is on my to-do list we haven't quite reached a point where we've done it. I sure hope to sometime in the upcoming months, and will blog about the experience of making/baking in a solar oven when I do. Until then...

The wonderful gals over at FoodStorageMadeEasy even did a post about this since then (click on their name to go to the link).

So, instead of re-inventing the wheel, I'm going to simply provide you with some sites that will help you DIY'ers out there. If you want to purchase one already made then you can simple enter "purchase solar cooker" into your browser and I'm sure that many options will pop up.






And there are many more links out there if you cannot find one in these that you like. As you may have noticed browsing through the sites, they vary from extra fancy to the basics. In fact, here's one that you can make with a Pringles can!


(That might be a fun science experiment for you homeschoolers or scouts out there!)

Whatever you do, remember, this is not about fear or panic, but being prepared for whatever. If you power gets knocked out because of storms this spring you want to be able to make delicious food for your family while the electric and gas companies are busy working. Solar ovens (and other cooking options mentioned in previous post) will help you do that.

Why not give a few of these options a try this spring and summer so you can see what works best for you and your meal plans and also to work out any kinks in emergency planning. :)

In the next post on this topic we'll begin discussing food storage and the things you need to build a 72-hour kit and more.

Until then, much hugs and prayers,

Thursday, February 16, 2012

White Brite - Product Review

Before I begin, let me state that I have not been contacted about reviewing this product nor am I being paid in any way or form for this review. It is simply a Pinterest pin that I had marked to try out and am passing along a review to help you decide if it will work for you or not.

I stumbled across a Pinterest pin in which a blogger raved about White Brite by Summit Brands. This product is a laundry additive to help, well, whiten and brighten. I thought if it did half of what she said, then it would be worth buying to save me time (from making my own).

The product packaging promises to make "your dingy whites bright!" and "removes yellowing & rust stains from white laundry." As a homeschooling mom grading this product, I would have to give White Brite a C- with the potential to go higher.

It should be noted that I have not tried this product on colors to "brighten". My express purpose in trying it out is strictly from a whitening standpoint.

CON: White Brite is not widely available. I grew frustrated trying to find it in grocery and mass merchandising/drug stores and thought I would have to order it through Amazon. I decided to try the local Wal-mart (which I rarely go to) and it was there.

(BTW, if you are interested in trying this product, click on the hyperlinked name above the photo and you will be taken to their website. The last time I was there I found a $1 off printable coupon.)

PRO: The pricing is a plus. It is on par with--if not better than--other laundry whitening products. One single packet of RIT (which is a small to medium load in your washer) cost $1.69 at my walmart (only sold in liquid) and I would need two packets of that for one load. The 1lb 14oz. bottle of White Brite was $3.99 (pre-coupon). It does not state how many loads that bottle will do, but after doing a load, I would say between 10 and 15 loads if you use the standard 1/2 cup dosage.

CON: One moment of confusion. On the package label (back) it says, "Use with your regular non-bleach alternative or oxi detergent." If I'm using another one of those, why do I need to use this product as well or vice versa? I'm also not sure if that means it will only be 100% effective if you do use it in addition to using other additives.

CON: Dosage does not consider load-size. Unlike RIT which tells you how much product to use depending on your load size, this bottle has a generic 1/2 cup usage per load. I ended up using 1 cup for a super-sized load of whites with stains. PRO: It does tell you that if you have stubborn stains, to "increase dosage and/or contact time."

The directions recommend that you fill the washer/add White Brite. Then add clothes and let them sit for five minutes (before the machine cycle starts). After that you can add your detergent and any other additives. I let the clothes soak for ten minutes (which would be recommended for stubborn stains). I added a mix of newer whites, older whites, stain-free and stained whites.

PRO: Easy to use. The bottle is fairly easy to grip and pour from. Being in powder form, you can easily pour and measure it out.

CON: Bad Smell. (It should be noted, my clothes did not smell, but the contents did). It was strong and pungent. I can't describe the exact smell, but it had a hint of the expel stuff we use to keep critters from our garden mixed with chemical soaps. Not as strong as the expel stuff, but strong enough that I could still "smell" it after an hour. I have to admit that at this point I almost panicked and quit the experiment because I was concerned about what I was adding to our clothes--items that would touch our bodies. Braved through it, opting to do a second rinse cycle for this one time.

And the results...

White Brite performed best on newer, unstained items that have not had a chance to get very dingy. I did notice a brighter white on those items. If most of your whites are new or already pretty white and bright, White Brite might help you keep them that way.

White Brite did poorly on whitening older items and dingier items. I did notice a shade of whitening, but not enough to make a difference to my pocketbook or sense of smell. Now, it could be that with repeated uses it makes them whiter (kind of like OTC tooth whiteners do with teeth, one application doesn't do it). I just don't think I can bear the scent to do it each time I toss a load of whites to find out. It also did not remove the stains, even with extended "contact time" as recommended. In some cases, stains were not as bright but still there and noticeable.

My final opinion is that while the idea is great, I will stick with my standard bleach or homemade whitening additives. They do the same job this product does for a fraction of the cost and without the offensive smell.

That said, if you cannot make your own or use bleach White Brite might be an alternative to consider. It says it is safer than bleach and you can use it on a lot of materials and cycles (delicates, whites, colors, etc.).

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Happy, Healthy Heart ~ A Pray For Me Monday Post

JAMES 5:16 "Therefore confess your sins to each other and
pray for each other so that you may be healed.
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." (NIV)

PSALMS 116:2 "Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live" (NKJV)

Join me as I blog with Pray for Me Mondays hosted by Tiffany at Home Grown Families and Pamela over at Troop Petrie. Basically, it works like this: both blogs are hosting this blog link-up and will post about relevant topics and may perhaps have a prayer request and will pray together with their readers, coming together in agreement to go before the Throne of Grace.

* ~ *

Some of you may know, Darling Groom and I are currently doing a study (through our church) on Mike Storm's book, Parenting 101: A Practical Hands-On Guide to Raising Remarkable Kids. It is a very easy read but it really makes you stop often and pray and deals with a lot of your own past and relationships with your parents as you seek out Godly ways to continue the good and break the chains of the generational curses.

One particular thing that caught my heart was about the amount of genuine encouragement we give our children. Mr. Storm points out how when our children are born and learn to roll over, crawl, talk, walk, etc., they receive a constant stream of encouragement. He also talks about how the older they get the more and more it drops off.

The Bible teaches us that out of the abundance of the heart the the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45) and also teaches us to think on those things that are lovely, pure, holy, etc. (Philippians 4:8). At what point did our hearts change toward our children that we constantly give them the do-nots more than the dos. Yes, safety probably played a big part in it (don't touch the stove, it will hurt), but why? Our brains are wired to hear the command, not necessarily the "don't".

Don't believe me?

Okay, let's try this: you are watching what you eat. On the table is a birthday cake and in the fridge, some berries.

If I were to tell you, "Don't eat that birthday cake," what do you think you'd be thinking about all day? What would you be craving? That's right! That birthday cake would be front and center of your thoughts. And the more you tried to not think about the cake, the more you most likely thought of it.

Now, let's flip this. Same scenario and the cake is still sitting on the table, but this time I tell you, "Let's eat healthier. There is a bowl of fresh berries in the fridge for you." What are you thinking about now? Most likely, you are thinking about the berries, good for you and there is a lot less struggle for you to want them, less rebellion and temptation--all around a better option and it was a simple matter of phrasing things.

We have been concentrating on using more uplifting phrases and it's been a learning curve for all of us. Our children have even asked me what is going on because they have noticed an obvious difference.

I have also been trying to apply this to my marriage. I've never struggled with nagging, but there are times that when I get frustrated I will speak sharply. I have often had to ask Darling Groom to forgive me and pray with me. A lot of times that I do speak that way is because I want things to be done MY way. Talk about pride. It's an excellent example of how to not be submissive. So, a lot of prayers lately has been for God to direct my words to be more kind and loving.

So anyway, this week, while decluttering I came across an article in a Prevention magazine I was getting ready to toss. The brief article was titled, Tongue-lashing Leaves Scars by Sari N. Harrar. You're thinking, yeah, knew that already. But did you know that for your own heart (and your spouse's heart) keeping the sharp words to yourselves makes you physically healthier? According to this article, the University of Utah researched married couples having brief conversations on sensitive subjects (finances, in-laws, etc.), then they checked arteries with a CT scan. Women who heard (implied or actually said) or made hostile comments such as "you can be so stupid" were 30% more likely to have hardened arteries. For the men, it was controlling phrases like "do it my way" (heard or said) and the risk was the same. In fact, Ohio State University research concluded that harsh exchanges between spouses lowered their immunity enough to slow down any physical healing by at least a day.

Proverbs 18:21 tells us that the power of life and death is in the tongue. Here is scientific proof of that verse. When we view that evidence through the lens of Scripture it just confirms that our Lord created us to be encouraging and uplifting to one another at the benefit of their health and even our own!

This week, I hope you'll join me in praying that we all learn to speak to each other in God's love and design and that we become more intentional in speaking good into our husband's lives, our children's lives and that we can encourage them in the simple every day words we use. Pray that God continually reminds us that the state of our spiritual heart and emotional heart can affect our physical heart and to create in us a clean--happy and healthy--heart.

Hugs & Prayers,

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Courageous ~ A Sing Your Praise Sunday Post

If you haven't already viewed the movie Courageous, might I recommend it? (It is now available on DVD.) My husband and I were blessed enough to view it together at the theatre and I could not wait to purchase the DVD to watch with our children (who are a little older, might be a little too intense for young ones in one or two spots).

I pray that God directs us all in how to be courageous this week!

(video link removed.  If you are interested in viewing this video, please go to YouTube, search for Casting Crowns/Courageous.  Thank you)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Looking Ahead ~ 2012


What a word. describes it as, "the act or instance of motivating, or providing with a reason to act a certain way..."

More importantly, the Bible describes in many verses motivation and where our hearts should be.

~ But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness... (Matthew 6:33)

~ And let us not weary of doing good... (Galatians 6:9)

~ Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (I Corinthians 15:58)

~ Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him... (Psalm 37:5)

These verses are just a sampling of sound instruction for our motivation. And like so many of us, I have often fallen short of seeking my motivation of the Lord and sought out the advice of others or even relied on my own (often-wrong) motivation.

The new year always seems to bring us into a sense of new opportunities. Some like to make resolutions (been there ain't doing that again!) but it sounds so, well, resolute and so most give up within three months. Some set goals for the year, a little more vague, but again, without the right motivation most of us won't reach those goals.

We need to seek the correct motivation in order to have a better chance to succeed. (Sorry, I hate using "chance" but it fit here). For example, if I had a goal to lose weight, that's not a bad goal, but let's face it, there is something in our rebellious spirits that as soon as we say we are going to do it, will fight us all the way. Some of that could be because we tend to overdo it (another lesson in the importance of discipline and self-control). And some could even be that the enemy wants us to feel defeated no matter what.

That is why motivation is so important.

Why would we want to lose weight? Is it to be healthier? Then maybe that should be the real goal/resolution. Being skinny would be a consequence of being healthier, as would a host of other beneficial things. Is it because we are the temple of God (I Corinthians 6:19), well all then all the more reason to change the goal and reap the benefits as a side, not the main purpose.

I'm not telling you what to do, goodness knows that could lead to a mess, lol. I am just offering some advice from someone who has been there and God has really been dealing with me to simplify and seek out the true heart of the matter and a lot of times that means finding the true motivation for why I have done things--good and bad. He's showing me how what I do and how I do it and why I do it affect others in my life and on this blog.

Last month (maybe even my last post) I had asked you to pray for me because I felt that somehow I had gotten away from the purpose of the blog and needed to seek God to find the purpose He intended again, not my own. Thank you, by the way for your patience during my absence and for the prayers. It means much. That said, God has shown me that I just need to keep my focus on Him (motivation) and He will do what He wants to do with it. If this blog grows, then great, if it only ever reaches one person, then great. I need to remember this.

So, with that, I look forward to getting back on track and talking with you again. I have missed you all greatly and appreciate you all very much.

I encourage you to also seek God and ask Him to show you the motivation of your heart. It's very eye-opening to say the least! :) But I think you'll be all the wiser and have a better foundation for doing all those things you do!

And now, bring on 2012! :)

Much love, hugs and prayers,