Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Choosing Simplicity..... Frazzled or Peaceful

Ahhh... which picture best describes how you are feeling today?? Some days I feel just like the frazzled woman on the left, but what I long to be like is the woman below. What is the difference?? Is it because one woman lives in the modern world and the other in days gone by?? Why do I fluctuate between the two in my real life reality??

Do you see the real difference?? The woman on the right has SET ASIDE all distractions and is CHOOSING to focus on GOD and her FAMILY in the MOMENT!!! She isn't being super woman... she is enjoying the moment with her family resting in gratitude for the blessings she has rather than pushing herself to get everything done all at once! Trust me, women in the 'olden days' had just as much to do as we do... it was just different tasks. I think our ability to FOCUS and LIVE in the moment has been destroyed by the fast pace of multitasking!! Days I feel completely stressed out and frazzled are often days when I have loaded my day too full and have placed unrealistic expectations on myself.

As helpful as modern technology is (dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators, computers, cell phones, vacuums, freezers, ect) it does come with a cost. Never in all history have we had the opportunity to be so involved.... there is so much we can do at once. We've got cell phones, email, internet, texting, I phone Apps, facebook, blogs, mp3 players, and DVR's in addition to good old fashioned land lines, radio, tv and snail mail. We have more options for things to do and places to go than ever before. There are more activities for our kids, more programs at church and a majority of women in the workforce. NONE of those things are bad in and of themselves, but you put them all together and FRAZZLED doesn't even begin to explain how we are feeling.

Am I just on a soap box or do you feel it, too?!! CHOOSING SIMPLICITY might mean we have to make some choices that go against the flow of our culture. Turning off the cell phones, the computers, the tvs for a few hours a day. Being very careful when selecting activities to be involved in and limiting the number of evenings spent outside of the home.

FOCUSING on one thing at a time... really LIVING in the moment rather than trying to get five things done at once and thinking about the next five that need done might go a long way in washing away the FRAZZLED life!! What do you think?? Is there a solution to our modern day frenzy??


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Friday, January 22, 2010

Update time....Pantry Challenge

TWENTY TWO days into this months challenge... How are things going?? Well...... Eating from the pantry challenge has proved to be very insightful.

What is working:
First of all I have been able to stick to the budget I set for us ($168 for the entire month). I have $23 remaining for next week's milk and produce.
Second, we had PLENTY of food in the pantry and freezer to eat well balanced meals and we have lots left. This is wonderful and it has shown me that stocking up when things are on sale really, really works. It is a built in savings account... when money is tight we won't go hungry!
Third, it has been a fun family project and helped us to save a bundle of money that we are using to go on our first family vacation in FOUR years!! The Indiana state park system offers a stay one night get the second night free offer in the winter.... we reserved a family cabin (completely modern) that includes passes to the indoor water park!! The kids are SO excited!!! They haven't complained once about running out of cold cereal! We leave this Sunday and return on Tuesday evening.
Fourth, I have enjoyed baking more!! I actually LOVE to bake so this has been fun for me!

What isn't working:
First, I have to admit that my budget didn't go as far as I wanted it to or expected it to. I am always optimistic about how far I can stretch a buck! I realized that there was no way my budget could include non food items.... Yikes! Ok, I am learning exactly how to divide our household budget....

Second I have learned exactly how much JUNK FOOD my family loves! Actually, this has been a source of great frustration to me.... why can't my husband enjoy my home made goodies as much as his dear little Debbie??!!! And don't get me started on chips and soda. To be completely fair I can't pick on my husband without being honest about myself... I NEED my coffee creamer!!!!!! The kids have been frustrated with not having some of their favorites, but their wants are healthier (string cheese, chunk cheese, tortillas, nacho cheese sauce... hmm.... I am seeing a pattern... CHEESE)! So, a bigger portion of my food budget goes to JUNK food than I would like. How much of an issue do I make of this??? If we HAD to live without these processed foods we could... and my husband would adjust. However, do I need to make a big deal about it right now?? WISDOM is key here!! I am praying.....

Third, soup really does help stretch the food budget and my family has been open to eating more soup this month.... however I know they are looking forward to less soup in the near future! Seriously we have only had soup 1-2 times a week, but for some reason my family is just not big soup fans..... My husband likes MEAT! We have learned that there are a lot of meals we could eat if we really had to STRETCH the food budget.... we can eat SOUP!

One more week of the challenge..... I am packing food for our vacation (cabin has a fully stocked kitchen). I did purchase some additional food for our trip.... used the "vacation fund" from our grocery savings. I didn't have to purchase much and I am able to take most of our food from the pantry. One great thing about this challenge is that it really has been a family project. My husband has NEVER been this involved in our food! The children have been overall very positive and we have LEARNED that we really could eat differently (more soups and beans) to survive if we had to. I will keep praying about the junk food issue.....

How is it going for you?? I would love to hear!


Sunday, January 17, 2010

1st Corinthians 13 for Mothers

If I live in a house of spotless beauty with everything in its place,
but have not love,
I am a housekeeper, not a homemaker.

If I have time for waxing, polishing, and decorative achievements,
but have not love,
my children learn cleanliness, ­not godliness.

If I scream at my children for every infraction,
and fault them for every mess they make,
but have not love,
my children become people-pleasers, not obedient children.

Love leaves the dust in search of a child's laugh.
Love smiles at the tiny fingerprints on a newly cleaned window.
Love wipes away the tears before it wipes up the spilled milk.
Love picks up the child before it picks up the toys.

Love accepts the fact that I am the ever-present "mommy,"
the taxi-driver to every childhood event,
the counselor when my children fail or are hurt.

Love crawls with the baby, walks with the toddler, and runs with the child,
then stands aside to let the youth walk into adulthood.

Before I became a mother I took glory in my house of perfection.
Now I glory in God's perfection of my child.

All the projections I had for my house and my children
have faded away into insignificance,
And what remain are the memories of my kids.

Now there abides in my home scratches on most of the furniture,
dishes with missing place settings,
and bedroom walls full of stickers, posters and markings,
But the greatest of all is the Love
that permeates my relationships with my children.

-Adapted by Jim Fowler


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Weekend love

Time to share some posts I have enjoyed!!!

Did you know that Laura Ingals Wilder wrote columns
in a newspaper before she published her books?? Read one here and also find a link to more! I really enjoyed it!!

The true secret to simple living: contentment!! Go here to read an excellent post on the riches found in contentment! To get this truth deep into our Spirit and LIFE would transform us is every way! God's plan, God's way really is blessed.

We had a HOME MADE Christmas (as much as possible) this year. Amy shared some fantastic Bath Salt recipes complete with cute gift tags! We gave these as teacher gifts (along with a pumpkin roll or loaf of celebration bread braid) and they were well received. We have also enjoyed using these bath treats ourselves!

Stinky Attitude?? I am at times GUILTY of this. This article really gave me another PUSH to seek God, repent and turn to a genuine GOOD attitude!

How we DRESS... Some more interesting thoughts on the importance of modesty.

Love paper dolls?? This tutorial on One Pearl Button is going to walk me through the steps of creating MAGNETIC paper dolls! I'm thinking that my niece might love these for her birthday!


Saturday, January 9, 2010

You know you are a country girl when.....

.....You know what this is and are EXCITED when your husband gives you one!!! :) What is it?? This beauty is a HEATED base for me to set my galvanized chicken watering fount on top of to keep the water from freezing!!!! Now my girls will always have fresh, unfrozen, water to drink! Keeping water available to them in this COLD is hard work and now my life just got a lot easier!

Thanks, Chris!!!!


Pray BIG!!!!

Pray BIG! We serve a BIG God so why do we settle for little prayers?? This Family Life Today broadcast really stirred my spirit and I haven't been able to get it off my mind. I love it when the Holy Spirit uses things like this to shake up my spirit to grow in the ways of God. I have always been a 'prayer', but this message really challenged me in a FRESH way!! Pray BIG!!!!!!!

What about you?? What BIG things are you praying for? Leave a comment or email me and I will pray along with you. With God ALL things are possible!!!

Right now I am praying for three friends each fighting cancer. God is BIGGER than cancer!!!
These Moms with young children need to live!!!!


Friday, January 8, 2010

Rerun: "Stretchy" Food???

****I originally posted this last January, but this one is worth a rerun... I am always working on our food budget trying to keep it DOWN without making my family eat boring food! Since we are participating in the "Eat from the pantry" challenge we will be specializing in S-T-R-E-T-C-H-I-N-G our food to the max without sacrificing nutrition or flavor!***

Huh?? What?? "Stretchy" Food???
Yes, S-T-R-E-T-C-H-Y food.... stretching the food budget!!
Healthy food that stretches the food dollar is one fantastic way to bless not only the physical health of your family, but the financial health as well. Stretchy food does not have to be boring, bland, or weird! Here is a list of our favorite stretchy food (snacks, sides, main dishes, deserts and beverages):
  • Popcorn (I have a whrily pop as in the picture. It makes GREAT popcorn with as little as 1 tsp of oil. It is also made in a town near me.... AMERICAN made!)
  • Carrots (I buy the 5 lb bags at Sams. We eat them in soups, as a side and as a crunchy snack dipped in ranch dressing)
  • Salad
  • Cereal (when it is on sale with coupons I stock up. We have two kinds of cereal in our house: Breakfast (healthy) and Snack (not as healthy).
  • Home made Popsicles (you can freeze all kinds of things into Popsicles kids will love) My kids especially love these fudge pops.
  • Peanut butter (everything from sandwiches, as a dip, on a spoon, etc)
  • Fresh, in-season fruit (home grown in the garden is the best also I freeze fresh fruit to enjoy when it isn't in season.)
  • Venison (My hubby is a deer hunter and keeps our freezer stocked)
  • Home made breads: quick or yeast (Quick (no knead) oatmeal bread)
  • Brown rice (I have a rice cooker and it is totally WORTH the $18 I paid for it 3 years ago.... perfect rice every time!)
  • Beans, but you already knew that.... (I am SNEAKY with beans... run them through the blender and you can add them to all kinds of thing without the family knowing it!)
  • Soups (Many different soups can really stretch the food budget and warm up the body in the winter. They are comfort food!)
  • Potatoes (when you can find them on sale)
  • Pasta (so many things you can do with pasta)
  • Homemade noodles (what a filling and frugal special meal)
  • Eggs (So many ways you can prepare them. We have a weekly "breakfast" for supper.)
  • Rice Crispy treats (the store brand products work just fine)
  • Spice Cake (my favorite recipe from the Depression Era)
  • Fudge (This wonderful recipe is frugal and makes a BIG pan... a perfect chocolate fix!)
  • Home made yogurt (I have a saltan yogurt maker that has more than paid for itself many times. We love smoothies made with our home made yogurt... especially in the summer when fresh fruit is abundant.)
  • Tomato sauce (I buy it by the gallon at sams and make spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, and chili with it.)
  • Home made muffins and biscuits
  • Pancakes and waffles
  • Tuna
  • Oatmeal (traditional, granola, in baked goods, granola bars)
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • ICE
  • Kool aid (in the summer it is a nice treat)
  • Home canned or frozen food from fresh produce from your own garden or from a local source.
These are some of our favorites... What are some of your favorite "stretchy" foods. I would love to give them a try!
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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snowy days are good baking days!!

"oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful!" I am extremely thankful for our wood stove that has continually radiated warmth all day. Add to that the wonderful aromas coming from the oven in the kitchen and it truly has been a GOOD day!! The kids were sent home on early dismissal at 1pm so we have had an extra long evening at home with the kids!!

Since we are participating in the "Eat from the pantry" challenge I wanted to bake things that we would not only enjoy but would not be wasteful of ingredients in the 'pantry'. My husband will be taking more homemade goodies in his lunches and the kids are packing more, too. This afternoon I baked three things and was able to freeze the banana poppy seed muffins to use next week in lunches. My husband is admittedly spoiled with my homemade treats but for some reason still prefers good old Little Debbi in his lunch box!! Maybe this month of being "FORCED" to eat my home baked goodies will break him away from his Debbi!

FRUGAL and YUMMY recipes that I made today.....
EASY banana poppy seed muffins
Depression Era Chocolate Cake
Banana Oatmeal muffins (yes, I have a bunch of bananas in the freezer)

Are you staying warm? I know that everyone seems to be under a major cold snap. In fact it has been SO cold I lost two of my chickens this week.... such a sad day... poor things died right under the heat lamp! :( Sorry, didn't mean to end my post on such a sad note.... just this darn cold!!! I am a SUMMER gal... trying to ENJOY winter by BAKING!!! Wonder how I am ever going to loose this 15 pounds!!!!

Anyway, stay warm, bake something and ENJOY the day even if it is BLASTED cold!!!! (Whenever I begin to complain and hate winter I just remember Tammi up in Canada and count my blessings that I live in balmy Indiana! Do you know that they don't cancel school there until the ACTUAL temperature is less than -50F!! That is INSANE! My family is so sick of my saying... "at least we don't have to live with winter for 6 months of the year like Tammi and her family do".... :) )


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Homemade liquid dishwasher soap

In my quest to be frugal and more environmentally responsible I have tried several recipes for homemade laundry soap... without results that pass my criteria. The last batch I made was with borax, washing soda and Dr. Breener's liquid castile soap...... it didn't pass the test, either. What to do with all this liquid laundry soap?? I HATED to see it go to waste. I read the castile soap bottle and it said it can be used with dishes!! I have been using homemade powdered dishwasher soap (with washing soda and borax) for the past 4 years so when my batch ran out I used the liquid "laundry soap" I had made. Results?? LOVE it!!!! It might not meet the mark for laundry, but it does an excellent job in my dishwasher.

Since then I have made 3 more batches with equal success. I don't know if it will work for everyone (our water is VERY hard... we use a softener... and is extremely high on the ph scale) but I am very happy with this recipe. I thought that I would pass along my recipe in case anyone wants to try it. You could easily make a smaller batch to give it a shot the first go round. Dr. Brenner's Castile soap is extremely versatile... can be used in so many ways!

Homemade Liquid Dishwasher Soap
(This makes 1 gallon. It costs me approximately $3 to make. I store it in 2 1/2 gallon jugs.)

16 cups of water, divided
1 1/2 cups WASHING soda (this is NOT baking soda)
1 cup borax
1/2 cup Dr. Brenner's Pure Liquid Castile Soap (fragrance of your choice)

1) Bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in washing soda, borax and liquid castile soap until dissolved.
2) Stir in remaining 8 cups water and allow to cool.
3) Pour cooled dishwasher soap into containers of your choice. It will "gell" up over next 24 hours.

To use:
give dishwasher soap a good shake to make sure everything is mixed well and to make it easy to pour out. I put it in both of my dispensers. Experiment with the amount you will need... I don't completely fill up my dispensers.

I hope you like it... Let me know if you try it. I enjoy making as many of our cleaning products as possible... I especially like this homemade multipurpose cleaner. I am very bummed that I haven't found a laundry soap that works for us.... If you know of any recipes I am willing to try them.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Simple home baked goody: Chewy Peanut Butter Bars

I tried a new recipe treat for my family tonight... we all loved it! Talk about EASY!!!! These Chewy Peanut Butter Bars were a snap to whip together and they used ingredients I have on hand (since I am participating in the Eat out of the pantry challenge). I have packaged up the rest of them for lunches (back to work and school) tomorrow.

Easy Chewy Peanut Butter Bars

1/2 cup butter (NOT margarine) or 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla

  1. Spray 9x13 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. melt butter and peanut butter in large glass bowl in microwave or in a sauce pan over low heat on stove
  3. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients.
  4. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly browned and edges start to pull away from sides of pan.
  5. ENJOY!!


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Monday, January 4, 2010

Eat from the PANTRY month!

Four days into the month... How are things going?? GREAT! I am very excited that Money Saving Mom and Life as Mom are doing this challenge. I was going to do it on my own and when I read that they were hosting this I knew it would be more fun to do as a group.

My goal is to eat out of the freezers and pantry for the next month only buying fresh milk, produce and lunch supplies for my husband. (I am blessed that my husband packs his lunch saving us mega bucks each year.) My normal monthly budget for our groceries and basic household supplies (dish soap, tp, shampoo, etc) is $3 per day per person or no more than $125 per week(family of six including our oldest son that eats like a man). That is $500 per month. This month I am aiming to spend no more than $1/day/person or $42 per week for no more than $168 for the month. I will have saved 2/3 of our normal budget!

After this month of eating from the pantry I will re-stock our surplus the same way I built it up in the first place: watching the sales and buying items at their lowest cost point. Over the next few months it will be built back up to where I like to keep it. I especially value a full pantry since my husband is self employed. It is a priority of mine to keep enough food on hand that we can go a few weeks without a trip to the store.

So what will we be eating for supper this week:
  • Turkey Veggie and rice soup, home made bread
  • Carolina Pork Chops (in the crock pot), baked potatoes
  • Home Made Pizza, salad
  • Roasted Venison and gravey, mashed potatoes, veggies
  • Baked subs, salad, apples
  • Chili, cornbread
  • Breakfast for supper: scrambled eggs and pancakes
For lunches:
  • Chris packs his lunch (sandwich, chips, cracker packs, goodie, rasin box, pop, water and coffee) He sticks to the basic same lunch everyday... makes life simple for me and he claims that it keeps him 'regular'! :)
  • The oldest three kids normally eat the school's hot lunch 3 times a week (at $1.60/day), but this month we will reduce that down to 1 time a week and pack the rest. They will pack pb&j, fresh veggies, fruit, string cheese, crackers, pretzles, homemade goodies and buy the school milk or take a bottle of water.
  • Nate (our youngest still at home) and I will eat our customary left overs or PB&J's.
  • Cold Cereal (till it runs out)
  • Pancakes and waffles from the freezer (I always make BIG batches and freeze the rest for quick and easy breakfast)
  • Hot Oatmeal
  • Homemade Granola
  • Toast and Peanut Butter
  • Bagels and cream cheese
  • Cold Pizza (if we have any left after homemade pizza night)
  • Homemade Muffins
  • Water
  • Coffee (Chris drinks regular and I drink decaf)
  • Tea (hot and iced)
  • Hot chocolate
  • Koolaid
  • Juice (till it runs out)
  • Milk (supper time for everyone except Robyn and Nate... lactose issues)
Are you participating in this challenge?? If you are will you please leave a comment so I can come and read about your adventure!!


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Friday, January 1, 2010

10 Ways to CHOOSE SIMPLICITY in 2010

The New Year dawning is a good time to evaluate what has worked in the last year, what needs tweaked and what needs changed. I have put a lot of thought into our family life and am being very deliberate about these 10 choices. I really want to continue to CHOOSE SIMPLICITY for our life... not get so consumed and busy with the ways of life that I miss out on ENJOYING life!!! Life is so fleeting and living life in the moment, in the day is going to be a huge priority for me. I don't want to look back and regret that I didn't cherish these precious days...

Life is just plain hard... just plain complicated. Creating a 'simple life' is actually more like swimming up stream. It requires deliberate fighting of this worlds current. It isn't easy, but it is worth it. As we have done some changes in our lifestyle over the past year I have found that change isn't easy, but rewarding.

As 2010 brings in a new decade I have to face the reality that this is my final decade as a mother with all my children at home. When this decade wraps up my oldest two will be in college and my youngest two in their last high school years. These next ten years are going to fly by... I am going to live them DELIBERATELY!!! It starts NOW!!

10 Ways to CHOOSE SIMPLICITY in 2010
(some of these may work for you, others may not... living deliberately is living in the way that is best for YOUR family)

  1. Live DELIBERATELY: Choose what I do, and what I don't do, based on mindful and prayerful thought and purpose rather than randomness or based on cultural expectations. Requires understanding what to keep and what to toss in our schedule, home and heart!
  2. Rudder hour is precious: The first hour of the day sets the tone for my remaining hours.... it steers me in the right direction! Guarding this hour and spending it wisely is key. Getting up an hour before my children so that I can shower, dress, pray and reflect in QUIETNESS and without disturbance will give me a chance to get a fresh start on the day without immediately feeling behind.
  3. Re-focus/ re-commit to my daily and weekly routines. Rather than thinking "I'll do that later" my mantras have to be "Do it now" and "What can I do now that will make things easier for later"! Flylady has been such an inspiration (and answer to prayer) during the last 6 years (my flying anniversary is January 2004). I have pulled out my control journal and have written up fresh routines. The CREATIVE person that I am has a hard time with feeling confined to routine, but in the end I have so much more peace when I stick to the schedule!!
  4. Use up or re-purpose what I already have rather than buy more. This will not only help to reduce clutter, but will save money. I will continue to focus on creating home made gifts (this allows me to tap in to my creative side). Really evaluate any and all purchases to see if there is anyway I can make due without it or create it from something I already have.
  5. Focus on being a CONSERVER rather than a CONSUMER. This somewhat ties into #4, but goes a step further... it is an attitude of the heart! It is about reducing that "want, want, want, need, need, need" pulse that beats so strong in our modern world. It is also about being a wise steward of the resources we have and using what we have to the fullest. (and not filling up the landfills)
  6. Minimize the belongings in our home. Stuff comes with such a cost... keeping it clean, organized and functioning. It also costs money to acquire, maintain and replace. So much of what we have we do not NEED. Evaluating our 'stuff' and shaving off the unnecessary extras will make daily life easier... it is so much simpler to pick up one basket of toys rather than three!
  7. Maintain a low level of "Screen Time" in our home. Screen time sucks the life out of developing creativity and being an active participant in this life God has given. It is SO easy to let the hours slip away in front of the tv or computer. Over Thanksgiving break we had a NO screen time week and since then have been very conservative with our screen time. The results: more creativity, more family time, more games, more music, more baking, more laughter... more LIVING!!
  8. CHOOSE my attitude and my actions based on walking out the fruits of the Spirit rather than following how I am feeling. Feelings are so fickle and not at all reliable. The fruit of the Spirit will never let me down. I will TELL myself how to act rather than be swept away by emotions. I will also SMILE more.... smiles are a gift we give to others that is usually returned. I am going to LAUGH as much as possible and focus on GENTLENESS!!
  9. Self-sufficiency Skills: Pick a few to improve on and a few to learn. The day I stop learning is the day I will stop living..... there is always something to learn and always something to teach to my children!!! I am NOT raising future children, I am raising future adults who will need life skills!!
  10. Take time to enjoy life each day. Slow down and enjoy moments with each of my children and my handsome husband! They are gifts from God, gifts to be cherished, nurtured and loved. Find pleasure in life, celebrate and flourish in the moments of life that make up the memories we hold dear in our hearts!
Happy New Year!!!! You are a blessing and you are loved by God!!!
Live a DELIBERATE life, one that focuses on LIVING rather than ACQUIRING!


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