Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fall pictures!!



Every fall I enjoy taking pictures of my children, Wes (14) Robyn (12) Ethan (8) Nate (7).  It is a fun tradition that I have done since my oldest son was just a baby!  Here is a sneak peak......still editing some of the others.  Taking their pictures as a group is a challenge requiring some posing creativity.  Our Wesley is 6"4" and the other 3 are all between 4'6" and 4'11" making a HUGE height difference between Wes and the others.  Robyn really hates that her brother is almost 2 ft taller than her even though he is less than 2 years older (not that she wants to be 6' 4".... just is on the short side).  I tried really hard this year to "even out" their heights for the pictures.


Also, for the FIRST time ever we had our FAMILY picture taken by a professional…. kind of hard to be IN the picture if I’m always the one taking them!  LOL!  Really looking forward to getting those pictures back!  She also took some really great pictures of my husband and I…. we haven’t had our picture taken since our wedding… only 15 years ago!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Choosing Simplicity.... with my clothing

I just went through my closet and got rid of well over half of my clothing.  I will be the first person to admit that I am in NO way a fashionista!  Any of my real life friends will tell ya that!  I do try to dress a little cute and not totally frumpy and out dated.  I like the 'classic' look over trendy.  Although, a lot of days I'm neither.... working in my barn or garden!

I gave away quite a lot and put some up in the upstairs closet (just in case I really can't live with this pared down selection).  I am a big Money Saving Mom fan and she is a MINIMALIST in all aspects.  I am not, but I try not too keep things we don't use/need or love.  She recently posted a few blog posts about her TINY wardrobe.  I found this one to be particularly inspiring.  In fact I printed it off and my daughter and I have talked a lot about it and how we could implement this into our own clothing.

A couple of weeks ago I did a closet purge and then today I really dove in and pulled out another half.  My wardrobe is a little more complicated than some.... I need:
  • *work* clothes.... ya know the kind you wear in the barn, garden, butchering animals and to doing home remodel projects.  
  • I also need clothes to wear on the job site ( I work part time for (and with) my husband in our Ceramic Tile business...  thus I have to have work shirts with our company logo and  jeans
  • I also have my "home days" clothes 
  • and clothes for volunteering at the school, going to  church, bible study, date nights and the few extra nice things for weddings and funerals.
 When I was going through my clothes I really tried hard to only keep things that mixed and matched easily with the other things I chose to keep.  I focused on ONE type of clothing at a time.  I also took out the summer clothes that I won't need for several months to come.... sniff, sniff!  When I put it all together it is much more than 13 items like in the Money Saving Mom post.  However, each category of clothing doesn't have much more than that.  I will try to post some pictures soon!

I am excited to live with a small wardrobe again..... I grew up with MINIMALIST wardrobe and home and don't ever remember feeling deprived.  Now I need to go through my kid's clothes and pare down with them, too.  Keep what we LOVE and use and get rid of the rest! 

What about you??  Are you a minimalist or fashion queen??  I want to look *cute* sometimes, but I have to admit that comfort is my main thing. 


Have a BLESSED day,
BE a BLESSING!
Heather

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Our YOUTH rise up and SEEK the Lord!! See you at the pole!

 This morning, bright and early, 40+ kids met at our local jr/sr high to PRAY and PRAISE!!!  What a sight to see!!!  God is GOOD and the youth are rising up!!!!  I am so proud of my oldest two serving God as group leaders and praising God on the worship team.  It was so encouraging to see these youth live out their faith and make a stand that they are NOT ashamed of JESUS!!!

 We are so blessed to live in a nation with FREEDOM to meet and pray without fear.


May God answer the prayers of these faithful youth and all the youth that gathered today across the nation!!!

I was also greatly encouraged today to see our vice principle (public school mind ya) JOIN in prayer WITH the youth!!!!  He not only showed his support for this event, but PRAYED with the kids!

Did your kids/your local school participate in this national event??

Here is some information about the national "See you at the pole" event:

See You at the Pole™, the global day of student prayer, began in 1990 as a grass roots movement with ten students praying at their school. Twenty years later, millions pray on their campuses on the fourth Wednesday in September.

See You at the Pole™ is simply a prayer rally where students meet at the school flagpole before school to lift up their friends, families, teachers, school, and nation to God. See You at the Pole™ is a student-initiated, student-organized, and student-led event.


Have a BLESSED day,
BE a BLESSING!
Heather

Monday, September 26, 2011

Making Mistakes! Making Right.

Oh, how very many mistakes I make.....

How often I goof up and don't handle things right.

 This morning was one of those mornings.  The Monday morning madness.  Try as I may I don't always have smooth sailing.  I said stinging and hurtful words to my daughter.  She got hurt and said stinging and hurtful words to me.
 
Yuck.

Ick.

Can we just all go back to bed and start over??

No.  Drat.

I repent.  God forgives.  But the hurt is still there.  God, how do I make this right?  How did it go so wrong?  The truth?  EXPECTATIONS were not met.  She did not meet mine, I lashed out.   If we had just communicated earlier we would have been on the same page.  Learning this lesson..... AGAIN!!  Why am I such a slow learner??

Dropped the boys off at the bus stop and kept daughter with me.  I drove her the long way to school so we could talk.  Repented to her, asked her forgiveness.  We talked over what happened and how we should have handled all things concerned.  We grow.... together.... in this thing call life.  We grow.... together in learning to be more like Christ.  We have a heart to heart about some of the things that are causing each of us stress.  We determine to support and encourage one another rather than create more frustration.  We create a plan for expectations for the rest of the week.  Learning.  Loving.

By the time she headed into school the tears were replaced by smiles.  We prayed together and we gave our day to Christ.  Oh, am I so thankful for God's love, mercy and grace!  I am thankful that God never gives up on me and that HE works in our life!  Life will never, ever be perfect.... but with the Lord it is never hopeless!

Have a BLESSED day,
BE a BLESSING!
Heather

Saturday, September 24, 2011

You know you are a COUNTRY GIRL when......

I know I'm a country girl and I'm proud of it!  However, I sometimes realize how very different I am from some of my friends!  LOL!  That's ok differences are good.

Are you a "country girl" like me??

  A look back at my last few weeks.....

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

...... you open the back door and let out a good holler .... "supper is ready" to bring your kids in from the back pasture!   My sister did give me a dinner bell for Christmas last year.... maybe I should start actually using it!  LOL  Wait a minute... having a dinner bell might just make me a country girl, too!

......you help your husband hang tree stands up in the woods in preparation for deer season!

.....you ask your friend (that just put together a whole new outside playground area for her kids) where the sand box is only to be told that sand boxes are not allowed at their house because they drag in too much dirt! oohhhh  ha ha!  Now that must be why I can't keep my house clean!  Blame it on the kids and their sandbox.  :)

.....you get excited to find 100% alfalfa pellets at the local farm store.  Now I can get GREEN into my chickens diet all winter.  The green leafy foods I feed them all summer .... read weeds from the garden... really make some very yellow yokes in the eggs.  Now we won't have pale egg yokes in the winter!!  yippee!!

.....you can butcher pigs right in your own back yard and then make your own sausage.

.....you hang clothes on the clothes line and then it rains so you keep them out there for THREE days!

.....you get excited when farmers start harvesting the fields because it means you can see the school bus coming from farther down the road!

What about you???  Got any "you know you are a country girl" experiences from your own life that you can tell me about??  Do you LOVE being a country girl??  I think it is just the best!

Have a BLESSED day,
BE a BLESSING!
Heather

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Words to live by.....


 This sits on my kitchen counter to serve as a constant reminder!  I've had it there for a year and a half and
still love and need the message!

Life really is in the moment..... 
I am trying to focus on each thing I am doing
Living intionally and appreciating the experiences of life.


Rather than focusing on the NEXT thing on my "to do" list
I try to LIVE in the moment I am in.....
Experiencing life to the fullest by living life in all five senses.
It really is amazing when we slow down to EXPERIENCE
life enjoying what we see, hear, feel, taste, and smell.


What to you hear right now??  What do you smell??
What do you feel?


Also living in the moment helps me to RELAX rather than rush.  It helps me to enjoy small moments of 
time and to focus on all the little things that are truly  
huge blessings!!

This post is linked to Ordinary Days

Have a BLESSED day,
BE a BLESSING!
Heather

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

10 ways to CHOOSE SIMPICITY everyday!

Choosing Simplicity is just that.... a choice.  It has nothing to do with where you live, marital status, how many kiddos you have or how much money you have in the bank.  It is daily choices made in the living of life.

We have a quote hanging on our fridge right now (I wish I could remember where I got it so if any of you know please let me in on that)..... 

The HAPPIEST people don't 
HAVE the BEST of everything.....
They MAKE the MOST of everything!

I think that sums up life... it is all in the attitude.

Anyway, I came across a list from a post I did at the start of 2010 and realized how relevent it is for me today so I tweaked it a bit and am re-posting it below.   

10 Ways to CHOOSE SIMPLICITY 

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 Everyday
(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 CON-SERVER rather than a CON-SUMER. 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!

What do you think??  What ways do you "choose simplicity"?  Does simplicity seem like a dream that will never come true or are you living a more simple life??  I would love to hear about what works for you or what you do off of this list of 10.....

Have a BLESSED day,
BE a BLESSING!!!
Heather

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Choosing Simplicity in household management for those of us not born organzied......

I will be the first to admit what anyone who knows me in real life will tell you...... I am not the most detail oriented person you will ever meet!  I am a big picture person, a creative person, an idea person.  However, life with a family requires ME to keep everything together (well except I have given up on the basket of mate-less socks)!  I've give up on being like my super organized, detail loving sister who always has all her socks matched up.....  It just causes me too much stress.

I am who I am because it is how GOD made me!!  YOU are who you are because GOD made you!  He did NOT make a mistake!!!  YOUR strengths were give to you as part of your divine plan and purpose.  Rather than fight who I am I choose to embrace it!  ENJOYING what I love about me and working to overcome the areas where I struggle.  Each of us has a specific set of strengths and weaknesses.  We use our strengths to overcome our weakness.  God wants us to operate withing the DNA He gave us!  That to me is so freeing!  I don't have to be like anyone else.... they don't have to be like me!

Since I am not born organized, as flylady calls it, and details elude me, I have to WORK to stay organized.  I need systems to guide me without restraining me.   I tend to go in spurts.... really focused for a while on keeping the house clean and de-cluttered and then giving up.  Neither is going to work for my family in the long run.  I need balance.  I have been seeking God on this subject for so long that I wonder how he can even stand to listen to me anymore!  LOL!  However, God is faithful and has brought me oh, so far!

My journey to simplicity all started from a feeling of living life overwhelmed... all... the .... time!  Always feeling like I was ten steps behind where I needed to be.  This journey has taken me so far and I am so thankful I am NOT where I was!  I learn daily to walk in grace and mercy.  I focus to live out the life GOD predestined for me!

Soooo.... how does this all come together for simplicity in household management??  Well, first let me say that I have to make it a daily priority.  There are HUNDREDS of things I would rather do than wash dishes or fold laundry.... hundreds.  It takes that big  scary "D" word....... discipline!  Some days I truly rebel and let the dishes pile up only to need a double dose of discipline the next day to get them done.  yuck!

In proverbs 1:7 it says that a fool hates wisdom and discipline.... ouch!  I don't want to be a fool!  I want to be wise and walk my days here on earth embracing discipline. 
After really seeking God (again.....) on how to better embrace wisdom and discipline in the area of home management He has lead me to a plan that really works for our family.  I'm not saying it is the plan for you because we are all different, but I wanted to share it with you in case you are like me and need a little guidance in this area.

Basically, all it boils down to is getting some BASIC things done EVERY DAY!!  Using discipline in my life to get theses things DONE before anything else!  I love to get sidetracked doing things I enjoy (like being on the computer, reading a book, picking flowers, taking pictures, visiting my chickens, talking with a friend, hanging out with my kiddos and husband.....).  This plan gives me FREEDOM because when these everyday things are done everyday there is MUCH LESS stress in my life!  I can then enjoy other things without the guilt of knowing the dishes are piling up!

I made up a chart and hung in to the fridge.  I gave everyday tasks to each of my children (after all we are a family and all have a role to play).  If they complain about their tasks I will gladly trade them!  I haven't had any takers on that one yet.... darn!

I don't force myself to do these things in the same order every day.... I just can't fit that tight into a mold.  However, I have found a good flow of one leading into another that works really well.  My kiddos do there duties after school.  I try to get mine done first thing in the morning, but sometimes have to finish up in the evening on days I work (a couple of days a week).  Ya know what??  It is amazingly wonderful how doing these simple things everyday really does keep the stress level down and our home running much smoother!  I know... shocker!  Remember.... I'm not born organized like you! 

Mom
Wes
Robyn
Ethan
Nate
Everyday
Everyday
Everyday
Everyday
Everyday
·      Wipe down Master Bath
·      Dirty Laundry
·      Make Bed
·      Tidy Check Bedroom
·      Tidy Check Living room and wood stove room
·      Unload/reload dish washer
·      Hand wash dishes
·      Prep supper
·      Do laundry
·      Chicken chores
·      Zone task



·      Sweep:
Living room and wood stove room
·      Dirty Laundry
·      Clean Laundry
·      Tidy Check bedroom
·      Sweep:
Kitchen and Dining Room
·      Dirty Laundry
·      Clean Laundry
·      Tidy Check bedroom
·      Take out trash in kitchen and bathroom
·      Clean floor and wall by trash can in kitchen
·      Tidy Check bedroom
·      Wipe down bathroom
·      Sweep bathroom floor
·      Tidy Check Bedroom



Have a BLESSED day, BE a BLESSING! Heather

Monday, September 12, 2011

life with a house full of boys can be stinky business!

Keeping them smelling good is almost a full time job!  LOL!  I have 4 sweaty and dirty males in our household to contend with. I really do think they smell better (and for longer) when they use a man's "Sport" body wash.  However, those small bottles of wonderful aroma are pricy.... what is a budget conscious, clean loving mama to do??  MIX!  I mix whatever manly body wash I can find on sale with equal parts liquid antibacterial hand soap.  I buy the giant hand soap refill bottles at our local wholesale store for cheap!  Thus I end up with a household of great smelling guys for half the price.  The Mens' Shower Gel has plenty of fragrance to be cut in half and still take care of the guys stink factor!!  LOL!  I do love my house full of guys, but I enjoy them so much better when they smell good!

Have a BLESSED day,
BE a BLESSING!
Heather

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Life with homestead animals.....

takes emotional detachment.  We butchered our 4 pigs today (we do all the butchering and processing our self) and tomorrow we will finish it all up with the sausage making.  Last night when I fed my four pigs for the last time I really had to deliberately not let myself get sad.... I have really enjoyed having them around all summer and since their pen is right next to the garden they have kept me company all season long.  Each one had a distinct personality and style.   The kids loved the job of spraying them down with the hose on hot summer days.  The pigs each had their own way of playing in the water.... one always wanted to drink it... one would run through it like a kid running through a sprinkler, one would just stand there and let you spray him down all day and the final one would just flop down and splash in the water!  I'm telling you they were a hoot!

I kept reminding myself last night that the whole reason we raised them was for our winter meat but I left the barn without a skip in my step.....  today I detached and did my job.  Now my freezer is full of farm fresh meat and I will be oh so thankful every time I prepare our dinner.... for now I MISS them... so I guess I'm not so good at emotional detachment after all.

Have a BLESSED day,
BE a BLESSING!
Heather

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sitting is killing us!

I believe that so much SITTING is a huge link to the obesity crisis that our nation is in.  I'm guilty of too much time sitting in front of this computer!!  I saw this at my friend, Tammi's, weight loss blog and just had to post it here.  This is a GREAT reminder that movement is so good for us and sitting is not!  Click on the pictures to go to an easier to read article.

Sitting is Killing You
Via: Medical Billing And Coding

Have a BLESSED day, BE a BLESSING! Heather

Friday, August 26, 2011

I am living a RICH life!!

I CHOOSE to live RICH! "Poor" is a mindset. There is a HUGE difference between 'poor' and 'broke'. There is a HUGE difference between 'wealthy' and 'rich'. We are living RICH, we are living life with a heart of gratitude, focusing on the blessings in life. Wealthy is a matter of money, RICH is a matter of the heart.

We are living RICH by living life to the fullest enjoying all the wonderful blessings God gives. Life is 'rich' when you choose to open your heart to all of the little things that make life so sweet. Cherishing simple things like breathing in fresh air, receiving flowers from a child, relaxing in a warm bath, sinking in to a freshly fluffed pillow, driving a paid for vehicle, soaking up a beautiful sun set, eating a meal fresh from the garden.... Experiencing and reflecting on special times spent with family and friends. Mary, the mother of Jesus, 'stored up these things in her heart' (she stored the experiences of Chirst's early life in her heart to reflect on later). Life's greatest treasures are not things purchased at the mall (or even at Target... gasp....), the greatest treasures are the every day blessings of life.

Choosing to be RICH means slowing down, FOCUSING on the positives, SPEAKING gratitude and slaying the "gimmies" (children are not the only ones that get these). Choosing to be rich requires a heart of contentment. Thankful for all we have, not restless for things we want, realizing that having more will never satisfy the deep longings of the heart. The heart longs for things that really matter, trying to fulfill these longings with stuff only deepens the need.

I AM rich! I CHOOSE to focus on the little blessings in life that add up filling my life to the brim with true treasures!!!! Count your blessings and name them one by one!

 Think about the longings of your heart. Can they really be filled by that next purchase?? You are not poor because your budget does not allow you to spend freely on all you want. CHOOSE to be rich by living a RICH life... a life lived enjoying the simple things! Challenge yourself to LOOK for the many wonderful simple things that make your life RICH!! Dwell on these, not on any lack.

(I originally wrote this back in march of 2009, however this has been on my mind quite a bit lately so I thought I would post it again.  Hope ya don't mind!)

Have a BLESSED day,
BE a BLESSING!
Heather

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Being vulnerable.... being real....being loved

 Support, listening ears, big hearts, hugs, tears and prayers.  FRIENDSHIP!   Unconditional love.

I am so incredibly blessed to be a part of a weekly Bible study with some amazing women.  One of us is going through some extra hard stuff right now and the tears were flowing and the prayers were rising and our time in praise was a time of standing in faith on God's promises!!

If you don't have a tight circle of Godly friends I encourage you to REACH out and make one.  We live in a CRAZY busy world but we NEED friendship!  God Gave us that need!!!!  I have written about my strong convictions about our need for REAL life friendship before...... 

I am grateful for the internet and the online friendships I have developed!  You are a blessing to me.  However, I NEED my real life friends and they NEED me!!  Today was such an incredible reminder why God created the church body, he CREATED us to need each other!!  I just wanted to encourage you to reach out and cherish the real life, in person, friendships that God has given you or challenge you to reach out to create some.  It means being vulnerable, that can be scary, but so worth it.

Have a BLESSED day,
BE a BLESSING!
Heather

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Chocolate Fudge Sheet Cake with your choice of frosting: Chocolate or Peanutbutter

 This amazing  Chocolate Fudge Cake has become my standby recipe when baking for a large crowd.  It is easy and extremely yummy and I love the *surprise* ingredient..... cola!!  I first came across this recipe last year at Many Little Blessings.  I have since modified it to make it simpler to throw together, but the results are just as divine!

I whipped this up this evening to take with us for lunch at church tomorrow.  We are having dinner after church with the pastor's family  and a few others.  Tomorrow is a special day for our family.... we are pledging our membership at church!  This is a first for my husband and me..... we have never been members of a church before.  We are so blessed to be a part of this wonderful congregation..... a true family in Christ!

This cake will easily serve 30 people.  I made it with the chocolate frosting tonight, but the peanut butter frosting option is absolutely delish!  

 
 Chocolate Fudge Sheet Cake
Ingredients:
1/3 cup cocoa
2 cups white sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup milk
1 TBL white vinegar (don't worry you won't taste it.... it reacts with the baking soda to make it rise)
1 cup oil
1 cup cola flavored soda (or any dark soda.... I have even used root beer and dr pepper)
2 eggs

Directions:
1)  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a sheet cake/cookie sheet pan.
2)  In a large mixing bowl combine the first 5 ingredients (the dry ones).
3)  In a separate bowl whisk together the remaining 5 ingredients (the wet ones)
4)  Pour the liquid mixture together with the dry ingredients and stir until completely mixed.  Pour into prepared sheet pan.
5)  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Frost with either the chocolate frosting or peanut butter below.  You can frost it while it is still hot or you can wait till it cools.... I love the flexibility of this cake!


Chocolate Frosting:
Ingredients:
1/2 cup buter
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup cream or milk
3 1/2 -4 cups powdered sugar

Directions:
1) in a saucepan combine butter, milk and cocoa powder.  stir and cook till butter is melted.
2)Beat in powdered sugar


Peanut Butter frosting
Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup Peanut Butter
2 TBL milk
3-4 cups powdered sugar

Directions:
1)Melt together butter, peanut butter and milk
2) Beat in powdered sugar


Enjoy and I will admire your will power if you can just eat ONE piece of this cake!! 

Have a BLESSED day,
BE a BLESSING!
Heather

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Choosing Simplicity in the school morning rush!

Back to school  time is here.  My kiddos went back to school yesterday.  Lazy summer mornings are now a thing of the past and the school morning rush has returned.  Whether you home school (I was raised as a home school kid) or whether your kids head out the door to school we share in the fact that school mornings are different from summer. 

5 ways to Choose Simplicity 
on school mornings:

1)  Alarm Clocks
As a mom I set mine so that I am up 30 minutes before my children.  Flylady teaches this principle, too.  This gives me time to get dressed, make a pot of coffee and spend a few much needed moments in the word of God before I face the morning with my family.  When I miss this time we all feel it!  It gives me time to ease into the new day with joy in my heart rather than hit the floor running.

My children set their alarms and they are responsible to get up at the established time.  If I have to go upstairs to wake them up they face consequences.  Harsh?  No.  Self Responsibility.  I am raising future adults, not future children.  Kindergarteners are capable of using an alarm clock  and it will free you from years of being the bad guy that has to wake up a sweet sleeping child!  I want to see their smiling face as they make their way down the stairs, not them grumbling at me for waking them up.  Let the alarm clock be the bad guy, let me be the one they greet with good morning hugs!


2)  Clothes

Have the outfits ready.  For my young children I create outfits as I fold clothes so all they have to do is open up the dresser drawer and grab one.  This has been especially helpful for my boys!  The older children can make outfits as they put their clean laundry away.  Planning ahead makes the mornings so much less stressful.  For example, tomorrow my 7th and 8th grader have spirit day at school (first football game is tomorrow night) and they have to wear neon colors.  They came home from school yesterday and got those outfits ready.... tomorrow morning their will be no scrambling!

3)  Back Packs Ready

The night before we get the back packs ready to go out the door.  Homework, papers that needed signed, library books, etc go in the back packs and the packs get hung on their designated hooks by the back door.   In the morning we simply grab and  go!

4)  Lunches

I will admit that getting the school lunch is the easiest way to go on this one.  However, they do cost more and are generally less nutritious than what we can pack from home.  To make lunch prep simpler in the mornings I pre-package as much as possible ahead of time.    I make individual baggies of things like pretzels, crackers, chex mix, carrot sticks, peanut butter balls, brownies, cookies, etc. (I will often make up a big batch of muffins and freeze them in individual baggies)   My children are responsible for assembling their lunch boxes.  Lunch paking if fairly quick.... make a sandwich or grab a container of left over supper, a piece of fruit and pre- prepared baggies.  They can either pack a reusable bottle with water or juice or buy milk at school.

5) Breakfast

I am a firm believer that breakfast is the most important meal of the day..... especially for school age children.  Their bodies and brains NEED a healthy breakfast to help them learn.  They need the energy and brain power that a quality breakfast provides.  They need good protein, complex carbs for energy and fiber to help keep away the hunger pangs till lunch time.

Things we eat for breakfast:
  • whole wheat toast with Peanut Butter (or just a whole wheat PB&J sandwich)
  • whole grain pancakes or waffles (warmed up from the freezer.... I don't cook in the morning)
  • whole grain cereal with milk
  • smoothies (we have several different recipes.... just use what we have on hand)
  • supper left overs (my husband thinks this is weird, but hey if left over spaghetti sounds good to them, why not?)

Our mornings are not *perfect* (nothing ever is)!  However, these 5 things make our mornings much, much, much smoother!  So cheers to school mornings and CHOOSE SIMPLICITY!!!!


Have a BLESSED day, BE a BLESSING! Heather

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Refrigerator Dill Pickles


 The garden is really starting to produce!  Time to start "putting up" the harvest.  We love cucumbers, but you can only eat so many of them fresh out of the garden.  I have tried several times to can pickles but they have always turned out a mushy mess!  So this year I decided to give refrigerator pickles a try and we LOVE them!!!!!  I have made 2 gallons in the last 2 weeks and my kids eat them like candy.  They are a hit that will definitely become a "putting up the harvest" tradition.  These pickles will store well in the fridge for a couple of months.  I will keep making them and hopefully we will have pickles till thanksgiving! 

Refrigerator Dill Pickles
**** I combined 2 recipes and I don't measure exactly.... feel free to modify as you wish.

Ingredients:
washed and sliced cucumbers  (however many you have)
salt
ice
Onion slices
Pepper slices (banana or green)

To make the liquid:
1 cup white vinegar
2 cups water
1/2 - 1 tsp garlic powder (depending on how much garlic flavor you want)
1-2 tsp dry dill weed (we really like the dill flavor so I use 2 tsp).... I buy dry dill weed at rural king.... they have spices cheap!!
1-2 tsp salt (again, this depends on how salty you like your pickles)


Directions:
1)  Wash and slice cucumbers and put them in a PLASTIC bowl.  It is important that you don't touch  the pickles with anything metal... only plastic or glass!!!

2)  Sprinkle liberally with salt and cover cucumber slices with ICE and let soak for 2-5 hours.  (this makes the cucumbers crispy)  I just leave this sitting on the counter for a few hours.

3)  Drain and rinse.  Drain and rinse again.

4)  Put slices in jars (you can use whatever you have).  Add in onion slices and peppers (optional).  You can also add garlic cloves instead of using garlic powder in the liquid.

5)  Fill jars with prepared liquid to cover cucumber slices.  If you need more liquid just mix up another batch.  It will save for later if you have too much.

6)  Let sit in fridge for 3 days and then EAT and ENJOY!!  The longer they sit the better they taste!!!  They will keep in fridge for a couple of months... not that any will last that long around here!!  LOL

Have a BLESSED day, BE a BLESSING! Heather

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Treasuring the view, enjoying the moment!

This is the view out my back door..... LOVE our simple life.  However, sometimes we can loose focus on the blessings and get preoccupied with the struggles and frustrations.  Actually, this picture is a few years old... still the basic same view only now there are some wind turbines..... I need to do another "tour Tuesday" again.

I came across the following great reminder on Kristy's blog, little natural cottage.... I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

We can enjoy life or we can survive life.
Our daily responses to the little things determine which it will be.
If the carpet is worn, vacuum it anyway.
If the furniture is old, dust it anyway.
If the linoleum is scuffed, sweep it anyway.
If the tub is stained, scour it anyway.
If the sink is leaky, clean it anyway.
If the toilet needs fixed, scrub it anyway.
If the bedspread needs updated, make your bed anyway.
If the rug is frayed, straighten it anyway.
If the pillows are lumpy, fluff them anyway.
If the clothes are out-of-date, iron them anyway.
If the shoes are cheap, shine them anyway.
If the closet is too small, organize it anyway.
If the dishes are chipped, wash them anyway.
If the table is rickety, wipe it anyway.
If the kids are fussy, hug them anyway.
If the hubby is cranky, kiss him anyway.
If the neighbors are loud, wave at them anyway.
If the clerk is rude, smile at her anyway.

IF LIFE IS LESS THAN PERFECT… ENJOY IT ANYWAY!

We can live in Order without perfection;
Peace without luxury,
and Joy without convenience.

Life is what you make of it… so do it anyway.



Have a BLESSED day, BE a BLESSING! Heather

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Farmer's Market here I come!!

Tomorrow will be the FIRST day for a local 2011 Farmer's Market and it will be the first day of my first season as a vender!!  I am very excited and a little nervous.  I will be selling produce from our garden (as soon as we have some) and flowers from my many flower beds.  However, I am specializing in Baking Mixes and Seasoning Mixes.  I LOVE to cook and bake from scratch and I believe that eating whole foods is best for our bodies and for our families.  I want to help others enjoy whole foods by helping them with some of the work.

Pray for me!  I really want this to be an opportunity to meet new people, develop new skills and also earn some income for our family.  I want to continue to be a stay at home housewife/mom so a job like this is perfect.


Have a BLESSED day, BE a BLESSING!
Heather

My addiction is broke! I am FREE!!

"You had an addiction?"  I hear you asking.  Yes.  Addicted to myself.  My SELFISHNESS led me to a computer addiction, an escape from real life!  YIKES!!! 

When I felt God calling me to give up recreational computer use for lent I was sure I was hearing things wrong.... but I finally decided to follow HIS leading and give it up... for an entire lent season.  Let me tell ya.... the first week was HARD the second week was still hard and after that I had days that were hard!  I was so used to plopping myself down in front of this ol' thing and disappearing into a world beyond my own four walls and my own four children.  I had made my daily escapes from home such a habit that when I felt such strong withdrawal pains I had to admit the truth.... I was addicted to this 'escape' method.  I was feeding my selfishness rather than LIVING the life that God has given me.  I was trying to escape from the mundane parts of life (dishes, laundry, homework, sibling rivalry, etc).

I know it sounds horrible.... but I had so many nicer words for my addiction.... such as connection, learning, research, relaxation, fun, friends, and even more holy ones such as ministry, encouragement, insight and learning.   Ha!  Hogwash!!  The truth was is that I have used the internet as a selfish tool more than I have used it for good.  I selfishly waste time, energy and precious moments I could have with REAL people by leaving home via my computer.  Even if I physically stayed home all day, my heart and my mind were off somewhere else way too much!!


As the withdrawal symptoms reared I spent a lot more time in prayer.  I had to give these feelings to God.  I was sacrificing this selfish part of my life to him as an offering.  I wanted Christ to work in my heart.  He did!!  My prayer life deepened and I have felt His presence so much more.   I spent a lot more time listening to praise music, more time reading the Bible and other good books, more time baking and doing projects and more time talking and having fun with my children and husband.


My life is far from perfect, but I tell ya FREEDOM is a wonderful thing.  Lent finished as we celebrated Christ's ultimate sacrifice for us.  Celebrating LIFE in JESUS!!

Now that lent is over and I can technically get back on the computer I have to tell you I don't have much desire.  FREEDOM is wonderful and I don't want to end back up in bondage......  I want to live my life free from addiction of any kind.  (ok... I might still have a few such as chocolate and fountain sodas!!)  Whom that the SON sets FREE is free indeed and I want to stay that way.  I know myself... if I'm not careful I will allow my flesh to get sucked back in.


I will be VERY, very limited on my recreational computer usage.  I want my time on the computer to bring my savior glory, not feed my selfishness.   So please don't take it personally if I don't visit your blog as much or write here too often.... just know that for right now I am learning to deny my flesh and follow Christ.

Have a BLESSED day, BE a BLESSING! Heather