Archive | September, 2010

Decorisms: Seasonal & Simple Decor Inspiration

Do you desire to make your home a sweet and refreshing place for your family? Do you want inspiration for simple home decor ideas that you could do with basic supplies around your house?

I am blessed to welcome my sweet sister, Christa, to our panel of monthly contributing writers. She will be contributing ideas on simple and seasonal home decor for the everyday homemaker that desires to make her home a place of comfort, rest, and refreshment for her family. Christa has been gifted in the area of creativity and has always filled my family’s home with fresh elegance. She has happily agreed to inspire you with some simple home decor tips and ideas. Christa is a photographer, clothing designer, and blogger. Follow her blog at Empowered Traditionalist, where she shares elegant modest fashion tips.

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Resources -Holidays, Nutrition & Entertainment Savings!

I have been wanting to share with you some exciting resources that I have stumbled upon recently, and thus here they all are in one quick little post.

12 Week Holiday Planner for the Christian Family – I have shared about this wonderful resource in the past, but am excited to announce that Sheri at Graham Family Ministries has completely updated the planner and offers a new edition! October 1st begins the 12 weeks leading up to Christmas, and this planner is thoroughly organized to make your holidays simple and smooth.

This e-book guide will provide you with practical tools to plan for a fruitful and focused holiday season! This 171 page e-book includes recipes, planning sheets, holiday tradition ideas, healthy menu ideas, memory making ideas, journal pages, and so much more!

We have used this planner for the past two years and have loved it!

Real Food Nutrition & Health for Kids! Want to teach your children about real food health and nutrition? Kristen at Food Renegade is offering an online ecourse adapted for children and teens, ages 12-up. It would be a perfect homeschooling session to take with your children and learn about important health concepts.

Inspired by the same love of wholesome, traditional foods that you find in the cookbook Nourishing Traditions, the work of Weston A. Price, the Slow Food movement, and farmer’s markets everywhere, this course covers all the basics of Nutrition from a decidedly Real Food perspective. This course was developed by a homeschooling mother who wants to make health & nutrition fun for all with no boredom allowed! The course will highlight video footage, fun experiments at the grocery store, discussion questions, and other interactive projects. Check it out! Registration ends on October 1st, so sign up now!

FINALLY! A Nutrition text that gets it RIGHT. Click here for details.

Groupon – have you checked out Groupon yet? If not, I wanted to pass it on because we have found some great local deals through this hot resource! If you live in one of the major cities highlighted, you can subscribe to the daily notifications of a special deal for restaurants, food, clothing, fun activities, and much more. Thus far, I got a 50% deal on a dinner date to my husbands favorite local restaurant, McMenamins, a 50% deal for Gap, and a $10 photo book from Shutterfly for our annual family albums. It’s simple and easy and you can save a lot of money for some fun entertainment!
Find Today’s Daily Deal on Your City’s Best Things To Do at Groupon.com!

Passionate Homemaking is an affiliate of the above companies because we can highly recommend these as helpful resources for our readers. We receive a small percentage of each purchase made through our links, so thanks for supporting us!

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Missional Homemaking – Listen Now!

It was a wonderful privilege to speak at the Selah conference this past weekend at George Fox University. I was nervous as can be, and yet God’s grace was definitely present working in and through me as I spoke for two hours – the same session back to back – to nearly 200 ladies. I was thankful to have my mom, sisters, and my dear friend, Kate, present to support me throughout the day. I was able to record my session on the topic of “Missional Homemaking: Cultivating a life of radical generosity“. Learn the beautiful plan of God’s intention for the use of the home as a soul saving station. Cultivating the art of living simply in order to give generously. I would love for you to pass this on to any others that you know would appreciate hearing it. All glory to God!

Click on this link to hear my session:

Missional Homemaking – Selah 2010 Conference

Below is the handout I provided which is a simple take home worksheet to help practically apply the 12 different principles I shared.

Missional Homemaking Handout

My mom and I - my amazing example in her committment to hospitality

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Craigslist Tips & Tricks

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If I were to make a list of all the items in our house that we have purchased used off Craigslist, it would probably be 75% of our household furnishings. Let’s see. Queen bed and frame, two chest freezers, two cars, coffee table and end table, high chair, stroller, carriers, file cabinet, car seats, glass jars (i.e. our kitchen pantry storage units), cloth diapers, rocking chair, to name a few. Yes, I love craigslist for all the wonderful goodies you can find for practically every need at less than 1/2 the price of their new counterpart. That being said, it is often easy to get overly consumed with it and just track all the items that come through just to exalt in what amazing deals you can find (am I the only frugal momma that can idolize that?). I do not recommend this pursuit…but if there is something you truly need, make sure to first check Craigslist. You can often find items, especially for babies, that have just seen one child’s use, so it is still practically new.

We have also sold a lot of our junk on Craigslist in a very easy manner. You would be amazed what junk you have that might be valuable to another – an old microwave, cell phones, baby items (strollers, clothes, etc), monitors and various technology, and kitchen appliances, have been on passed on from our house to another happy party. “One man’s toxic sludge is another man’s potpourri”, according to the Grinch, and I have found it to be true. You will also get a higher price for an item you are selling versus offering it a garage sale. We have also made some hilarious encounters over Craigslist as well. On one occasion we sold a air purifier to my midwife. On another occasion, I sold cloth diapers to my friend and contributor, Michele at Frugal Granola.

Craiglist is great way to just give things away. If nothing else, post your clutter for free and see what happens. Our neighbors have tossed large items into the trash before (as we have a community garage dumpster), and we have posted them for free on craigslist (so as to avoid the landfills), and there were gone in under an hour. In this case, we would just post the item on a first come, first serve basis, and include our basic approximate address and leave the item by the door or outside. A simple way to serve the community and be a good steward (who wants an old BBQ filling up half the dumpster?).

Lastly, Craigslist is a great way to test a product. I have frequently purchaced a product used on Craigslist, tried it out, and then re-sold it if I didn’t like it. I did this with a Baby Bjorn carrier. Tried it out. Didn’t float my boat, so I sold it. I also did this with several different cloth diaper styles, strollers, and other items. Many times I have made more than I paid for the item.

We have a few learned a few things along the way that might assist you.

1. Always meet in a public place.

This is a wise practice, if possible, for everyone’s safety. The other benefit is that there will be more guarantee that your buyer will come and not cause a “no show”. I have had numerous times when people said they were coming and never showed up, but this problem was completely solved when we designated a specific location and time.

2. Provide your telephone number.

When posting an ad, include your phone number. I’m one that doesn’t like to post my phone number online, but have found it will significantly increase your chance for making a good and quick sale. The serious buyers will call. The random inquiries will always email.

3. Make an offer.

Don’t be afraid to make an offer on an item, unless you really know that it is a rock bottom price and it will just sell really fast. More times than not I have always got a better price than originally post. This also applies to items you want to sell but don’t really know the value or think that it is not worth much. Ask for a offer. I got twice as much as I thought I could for my microwave by following this tip.

4. Provide pictures and clear descriptions.

Make sure to always include a picture of the item you have for sale, even if it is small and invaluable. People are not interested in items that don’t have pictures. It’s not worth putting the effort into making a post and be lazy to not include a picture. Make your descriptions clear.

5. Utilize the RSS Feed.

If you are on the lookout for an item but don’t want to be checking in every day for something to be posted, subscribe to your specific search with the RSS feature. It’s as simple as entering your search item and then going up to the URL line and selecting the RSS button on the far right. Now all the new postings can be send to your email.

It is important to note that you do need to use a discerning eye when viewing Craigslist. Always use the search bar rather than just viewing the general entries. I have never had a problem exposing myself to anything inappropriate in this fashion. If you are an iPhone or Ipod Touch user, the Craigslist Pro app is a great little tool. It makes searching and selling so easy – 5 minutes or less. You can post an ad completely from your iPhone with the camera feature. You can also subscribe to a feed and it will alert you with a basic alarm feature.

What tips do you have to share?

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10 Things I’m Learning About Marriage

This post is brought to you by monthly contributor, Vina Barham.

Oh marriage. I came into this thinking I’ve got it all figured out, having read every book on relationships I could get my hands on. But the real teacher is our everyday experience, and even though my husband and I have only been married for four years (a newbie we are, really!), I wanted to share a few things I am learning that has proven helpful in growing our relationship. I hope some of these speak to you.

1. Remember the small stuff.

Marriage is really about the everyday stuff, the everyday hugs and conversations, the everyday ordinary moments that add up: the kind tone, the understanding nod, the thoughtful gesture, the supportive look, the fun kiss, the genuine smile, the endearment, the delight, the embrace. Build up your marriage through the small stuff.

2. Focus on the good.

Cultivate genuine appreciation for your spouse. Find the praiseworthy, the lovely, the good in what your spouse does. No matter how small. For being so gentle with your child. For being a fun dad. For working hard at his job or business. Leave him notes, or simply thank him right there and then. No flattery here, just sincere gratitude for specific things he does.

3. Avoid scorekeeping.

So you change more diapers than your spouse. And he often does it the “wrong” way. Realize that if you were in his position, you would not be as good as changing diapers as you are now because you just couldn’t do it more often. Figure out a way to divide up the child-rearing and household tasks that make sense for you both, and leave it at that. Keeping score is exhausting and utterly counter-productive.

4. Embrace your differences.

Assume the best in your spouse’s intention even when his methods differ from yours. Don’t be afraid of conflicts but learn ways to resolve them respectfully without undermining each other. See how your child benefits from the different ways you parent and nurture.

5. Don’t criticize.

Just as the small good acts can add up, the small negative thoughts and words do too. What you think of your spouse, he will become that to you. And worse, your child will pick up on it. If something is bothering you about your spouse, first take time to see what’s going on with you. Often, it’s about our own issues. If it’s something your spouse needs to hear, bring it up but be specific about which action got you frustrated. Resist the urge to attack and devour. It may feel good to do so at the moment, but never worth it in the end.

6. Make time and space for intimacy.

It’s easy to let this one go but especially if you have a little one who needs all your attention, sex becomes essential. Even more than date nights. I’ll have to write about this for another post, about all the reasons we really need to make this a priority. Get creative. We sleep with our daughter in our family bed, and let me just say it’s sparked our creativity in more ways than one.

7. Don’t rely on your emotions.

Listen to what they are telling you, but don’t make it your reality. Some days, I really don’t feel much “love” for my spouse but it doesn’t mean I don’t love him. Use it to gauge your inner temperature to figure how you are doing, but don’t dump it on your spouse if you are feeling the heat. Instead….

8. Journal.

Write about all the changes you are experiencing to help you process it better. Writing often brings me clarity about an issue as well as an outlet to write our story as it unfolds. I love reading about my experiences a few months down the road. I learn from it and I grow. Or I just laugh.

9. Know your boundaries and leverage them.

I am a hopelessly strong introvert and honestly, at the end of the day, I don’t have much energy to give to my spouse. So I really try not to get spent right before he gets home. Lately, I’ve tried to make dinner right after my daughter wakes up from her nap so I can be free of the stress I usually have to deal with come dinner time. We try to go on a walk if we can right before hubby gets home so I can some “alone” time while still playing with my daughter. It really has helped me be in a more cheerful mood by the time my husband gets home from work.

10. Finally, assess your expectations and rewrite them when necessarily.

Or just let them go. I always imagined dinner a time for elaborate conversations and a lot of laughter. We still do laugh a lot, but mostly because my daughter gets in this silly mood at dinner time. But we don’t really get to talk the way I want to because it’s quite impossible with a toddler. Just bits and pieces of our day interrupted with a funny gesture or word from our little one that elicits giggles. And I just take it as it is. Either that or I fume about the conversation that isn’t happening and is sure to not happen after dinner because of my attitude.

Above all, if you mess up, there’s no better fix than a true apology. Marriage is after all, about growing in grace. Especially with children.

What about you? Any tips to add?

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Is Sourdough Really Sour? Deflating 5 Sourdough Myths

Guest post written by Wardeh Harmon from Gnowfglins.

Not long after I began reading about sourdough, working with it myself, and teaching others to embrace it, I noticed a handful of misconceptions that come up again and again. These ideas get around somehow and they’re simply not true.

For instance, have you been told that sourdough is always sour? Do you get the impression that baking with sourdough is too hard for everyday moms who aren’t gourmet bakers? Has someone moaned that it’s super hard to keep a sourdough starter alive? Those are three of the five myths I’d like to deflate today. I’d like to set the record straight about our trustworthy and simple friend: sourdough.

1. Sourdough Is Just For Bread.

Actually, sourdough is one of the most versatile baking methods you’ll ever try. In addition to gorgeous, tasty and soft bread, you can make easy and mouth-watering sourdough pancakes, waffles, english muffins, muffins, donuts, crackers, biscuits, pot pie, gingerbread, pasta, cookies, scones, crepes, pizza crusts, tortillas, cakes, and more! I did go on and on, but you got the point, right?

2. Sourdough Is Difficult.

Not so! On the spot, you can whip up the easiest, tastiest, most nutritious pancakes, waffles or crepes with just leftover starter and a few other ingredients. For many other easy dishes, all that’s required is mixing up some starter, liquid and flour ahead of time. Then about 8 hours later you’ll create cinnamon rolls, biscuits, or pasta much like usual. So tell me, how hard does that sound?

3. Sourdough Is Finicky.

No, it isn’t. A sourdough starter, or a sour dough, has just a few basic, simple needs: oxygen, warmth, and food. And it’s not even too picky about those. Oxygen is a given; leave a loose cover on the starter or dough so it can breathe. For warmth, anything around room temperature will do. The food can come in the form of any flour you’re using at the time. Whole wheat pastry flour, whole wheat flour (red or white) and spelt flour all take turns in my starter; I feed the starter whatever I’m using for baking.

4. Sourdough Is Just For Flavor.

Sourdough foods have complex and compelling flavors, no doubt. Consider the distinctive San Fransisco sour tang, or fluffy Alaskan sourdough pancakes drizzled with pure maple syrup. But I love sourdough for two other reasons.

A gift from God. Prior to this century and the development of commercial yeast, folks used a sourdough starter’s wild organisms for rising and lifting doughs. Leavened bread in the Bible? Sourdough all the way. When I see a warm soured dough rising in my kitchen, I praise God for the amazing and practical gift of sourdough.

More healthful. A sourdough starter is an ecosystem of wild yeasts and beneficial bacteria that work together to add B-vitamins to grains, to break down gluten for better digestion, and to neutralize phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. In addition, the sourdough starter’s organisms are much more versatile than commercial yeast (with regard to temperature or other conditions) and sourdough bread doesn’t stale as quickly.

5. Sourdough Is Sour.

Sourdough can be sour, but it doesn’t have to be sour. Two chief practices contribute to “sour” sourdough.

Skipped feedings. Ideally, I believe we should feed a room temperature sourdough starter twice a day. A sourdough starter (the active mother culture) contains both wild yeasts and beneficial bacteria. Regular flour feedings keep the organisms fed and in balance. But missing a feeding gives the bacteria a leg up. You see, the yeasts run out of food when the simple sugars in flour are all consumed, and they start dying off. But the bacteria still have food to eat. They eat the expired yeasts, along with the yeasts’ wastes, and continue to produce lactic acid, the main sour flavor. And so the starter gets more sour.

Long souring period. When we create a dough with sourdough starter and let it rest, this is the souring, or fermentation, period. The yeasts and bacteria feed on the flours in the dough, and their byproducts are acids (offering flavor) and carbon dioxide (rising the dough). The longer the souring period, the more sour the flavor. For best nutrition, I recommend a good 8 hours of souring. Unless the weather is very hot, the flavor won’t be that sour, if at all. On the other hand, allowing the dough to ferment for 24 hours or more will yield a pronounced sour end product.

What can we learn from this? First, feed twice a day to keep all the organisms in balance and the overall sourness slight. Second, sour your dough for less time, rather than more.

By the way, have you heard the phrase, “soda sweetens”? It’s true! Many sourdough recipes (including these pancakes, english muffins, or waffles) call for baking soda. Not only does the baking soda react with the starter to give a good rise, but it sweetens the dough or batter by neutralizing some of the acidic taste.

Are you interested in easy sourdough recipes, video demonstrations, and mouth-watering results? I welcome you to participate in the Sourdough eCourse, where I and other teachers guide you in mastering simple, tasty, nutritious sourdough. We are always open for enrollment; you can join us any time your schedule allows. God bless you all!

Wardeh (‘Wardee’) Harmon lives in Oregon with her husband and three children. They raise ducks and dairy goats on five and a half gorgeous wooded acres, which they are in the process of turning into a productive homestead. Wardeh’s passions are healthy cooking and sewing practical wool garments, although she loves to create just about anything from scratch, should the mood hit right. Wardeh teaches traditional and whole food cooking at the GNOWFGLINS blog and GNOWFGLINS eCourse.

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My Simple Natural Food Pantry

Want to know what I really keep in my kitchen? Here is a fun little video tour through my pantry! Come learn what I find are the essential real food staples and what I use them for in our home. My goal is simplicity and accessibility, so I have streamlined my pantry to the basics.

If you are new to whole foods and real food ingredients, please check out this list of resources and introductions to this diet.

Resources:

Variety in Your Grains - learn about the wonderful nutritental value of whole grains
My Favorite Natural Sweeteners - a basic introduction to healthy sweeteners and how to use them
The Benefits of Soaking Your Grains – the hows and whys of soaking whole grains
Basic Steps to Nutritional Eating: 12 Steps to A Real Food Diet
The World of Oils - an introduction to the best healthy oil choices
My Pantry Inventory – a pdf document of my pantry inventory that I review each month and restock as needed

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Simplifying Grocery Shopping & the Benefits of Monthly Menu Planning

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Loading the kids into the car is a significant endeavor – making sure we have a clean diaper, putting on socks, shoes, coats, and finally loading them in and strapping them into car seats. The whole process may take up to 30 minutes of my day. Pack a quick snack, an extra diaper, and we are off. Arriving at our destination, it takes anywhere from 5-10 minutes to remove children from the car to the grocery cart. Halfway through the store, child #2 begins to melt down. The snack holds them over temporarily (and yes, I feed them at home before we left!). By the end of the store excursion, child #1 has to use the bathroom. Ten minutes later we are back to the store aisles. And we are only at stop number one of the intended three. Does this sound familiar? After going through this experience numerous times prior, I decided it was time to make a better strategy for grocery shopping. I have been practicing these methods for over a year now, and can highly recommend it!

1. Limit your trips.

Why not make it easier on your stress levels by limiting our trips to the store? Consider starting with a weekly trip and see if you can gradually stretch it.

2. Limit your stops.

Why do we find it necessary to visit three different grocery stores to get all our groceries? Many times it may be due to various prices differences at each location, coupons, or sales. When you really think about it, is the extra time involved and the added stress of loading and unloading really worth it? When I stepped back to compare: driving, extra gas, and the added tiredness that entailed were not necessary. Find a store that you can make all your purchases, adapt your menu so that you can get all the ingredients at one location and stick with it. It will be well worth it – your whole family will be more joyful as a result.

3. Order online.

It is becoming so much easier now to actually order your groceries online. How sweet is that? Check out Safeway, New Seasons (local natural grocery in the Portland metro area), Organics to You, and other online delivery systems. Ask around in your area. Many will allow you to order online and you can pick up in store to save on delivery fees, but also save you all the time and effort of touring the store. For a busy mommy, that sounds like a wonderful alternative.

4. Make a menu plan. Make a monthly plan for real simplicity.

I have been a huge advocate of monthly menu planning and my mission was only re-affirmed after a recent season of carelessness in this area which had to lead to sky-rocketing grocery bills and frequent trips to the store. Menu planning in general is definitely not my favorite activity. I would much rather just be in the kitchen preparing the food rather than planning what to make. But taking the time to plan your menu not only ultimately saves you significant time, but it will also help save you money. Why not take a simple step to simplify it for yourself?

Where to Start?

1. Start with a simple plan.

If you are new to menu planning, please start by beginning with just a weekly menu plan, and once you are comfortable with that to adjust to two weeks. Start your weekly plan by making a list of 7 dinners, 7 breakfasts and 7 lunches. Lunches can be mainly leftovers from the previous dinner if you make a bit extra. Breakfasts can be the same each week as we do it (see examples below). After you can make that work, build a monthly menu plan and work with the seasons. You will learn how much your family needs to make it through two weeks. You will also learn to stretch your food purchases in amazing and creative ways.

2. Figure out dinner themes to work from.

I have found it extremely helpful to start out my menu planning by making daily dinner themes. That way I had something to work around. I make a vegetable and rice stir fry or main dish salad every Monday, adding variation with different vegis and sauces. Tuesdays is always soup night, served with a biscuit or muffin. Increasing soups in your diet is an excellent way of increasing nutrition but also keeping the budget down. Fridays is pizza theme each week for family night. Making a large batch and serving it for different lunches or freezing a portion for another meal is also making the most of your time in the kitchen. Here are a few ideas:

Dinner Themes:

Monday – Stir Fry/Main Dish Salad
Tuesday – Soup
Wednesday – Fish/Lentils
Thursday – Mexican/Chicken/Casserole
Friday – Special Dinner – Pizza
Saturday -BBQ
Sunday – leftovers or eat out

Other themes could include: crockpot, Italian, etc. I have heard other creative ideas such as Meat Monday, Taco Tuesday, etc. Have fun and be creative! Anything to make meal planning enjoyable for your household.

Keep your breakfast and lunch plan simple by rotating the same schedule each week. Here is ours:

Breakfasts:

Monday – kefir smoothie, bread (muffin, bagel, or toast)
Tuesday – Oatmeal w/raisins & apples
Wednesday – kefir smoothie, bread (muffin, bagel, or toast)
Thursday – Oatmeal w/raisins & apples
Friday – Eggs or French Toast
Saturday – Pancakes
Sunday – Granola (a quick breakfast before church)

Lunches:

Lunches are a bit more flexible, as often times we will have leftovers on hand to eat from a previous meal, but if not, I keep the ingredients on hand for these ideas:

Monday – Ham & Cheese sandwiches, fruit/vegi
Tuesday – Egg Salad Sandwiches, juiced vegi & fruit
Wednesday – Salmon Melts or Tomato Soup & grilled cheese/ham sandwiches, fruit, salad
Thursday- Quesadillas, burritos, or baked potato bar (chili, cheese, lettuce, misc toppings)
Friday – Peanut Butter & Jelly or regular sandwiches
Saturday – Leftovers (Saturday is generally leftover day or clean out the fridge day)

3. Make a list of 4 ideas for each of those themes.

Now simply collect ideas for 4 weeks of recipes around those themes. Chicken Ceasar Salad, Taco Salad, Cobb Salad are some of our Monday choices. Jot them down on your monthly calendar.

4. Compile a master shopping list for the items needed to make those meals.

Go through each recipe and make a master shopping list of all the ingredients required. Now each month you have the same list of groceries, and you can keep a memorized list on your computer, phone, or notebook. You can see my master grocery list here. We use the Shopper app for its usefulness in organizing our shopping to the tee – aisle by aisle and keeping track of the costs in one.

5. Limit your shopping to one major stocking day, and one small refiller day in a months time!

A easy plan is to shop at the beginning of the month for all your staples, toilet paper, body products, meats, and dairy and produce for two weeks. I have found produce and dairy can last for two weeks successfully. Then make one extra stop halfway through the month to restock on produce and dairy. Or if you have a local farmer’s market, or farm stand, that would be a even better alternative.

6. Build a new monthly plan with each season.

You will appreciate the variety if you build a new monthly menu plan for each season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. In this manner you can incorporate the more comfort foods for winter, and the light refreshing foods for summer. You can stick with a Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter plan as well, as I have done in the past. Now you only have to plan a menu 2-4 times a year! How nice is that? Care to join me? For inspiration, check out my Winter monthly menu plan and Spring/Summer plan from previous years.

I have experienced it first hand that doing a monthly menu plan can definitely save you money. I have saved at least $100 per month pursuing this method – which is certainly useful when you are striving to eat naturally on a budget.

Those are just some of my practical ideas for simplifying the grocery shopping adventures!

What tips do you have to share?

Other Menu Planning Ideas & Resources:

Weekly Menu Planning – by Crystal Paine
Healthy & Frugal Menu Planning Help Part 1
& Part 2- by Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home
Printable Monthly Menu Form

Printable Weekly Menu Form

Menu Planning: Saving Time in the Kitchen
Menu Planning Made Easy

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Hide Them In Your Heart and Watch Them Change Your Life

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This post is written by contributing writer, Kat. Check out Kat’s new free e-book Mission Statements for Moms.

One of my goals for this year is to become a more patient mother. No matter where I fall on the patience spectrum, I simply want to be more patient than I currently am. One tool that has been ridiculously helpful for me on this journey is the ever popular and exciting….wait for it….

Scripture Memorization!

Don’t click away just yet. I know it’s daunting, sounds far too much like ‘work’ and kind of makes your eyes roll up, but it’s so incredible how much truth is wrapped up in every little section of scripture. It’s like an onion. As I read, I learn one layer, as I memorize, I understand an even deeper layer and as I walk it out in my daily life, I uncover still more layers.

Some people memorize mountains of scripture every year. I’m not one of them. I’m more on the one verse a month track. But even at my turtles pave, it has proven to be water for my weary mommy soul. Here are a few things that have helped me.

3 Tips for Verse Memorization

1. Keep it simple.
Pick one verse and stick with it for awhile. Let it really sink in. Don’t just remember the word order, but live it out and absorb the truth into your every day actions.

My method has simply been to write down the verse each morning during my quiet time. I write the same verse every day for as long as it takes to feel like it’s grafted into my heart. It might be a week or it might be a month.

2. Put it where you’ll see it often.
That might be on an index card by your sink, in the car or in your Bible. Or you might laminate it and put it in your shower or on your mirror.

Just be sure to review it throughout the day.

3. Graft it into your life.
When situations arise in your home that the verse addresses, don’t be afraid to share that with your children. Tell them what you’re learning and how God is using that verse to change you. Not only will it keep you accountable, but it will also inspire them to memorize verses.

Lessons I’ve Learned about Patience

Here are two verses I’ve been working on lately and a few things they’ve been teaching me as I pour over them:

“…take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life God desires.” James 1:19-20

Our children deserve our listening ear. Even when they’ve been talking all. day. long. Even when it takes them eight minutes to explain why they haven’t brushed their teeth yet. Even when they’ve told 18,329,047 nonsensical knock knock jokes in the last 45 minutes.

Listening is more than just waiting for our turn to speak.

Our children deserve our patience. Even when we don’t feel that we have any left. We do.

Responding in anger may affect their actions for the moment, but responding in love will affect their hearts for a lifetime.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29

I don’t know about you, but I let unwholesome words come out of my mouth far too often. They’re not curse words or insults, but they are words spoken more out of frustration than love. The words that proceed from my mouth can be building blocks or daggers. It’s better for me to close my mouth and not speak than let words, unfiltered by love, escape.

We have a phrase we use around our house, “Leave it better than you found it.”
Normally, it is just used as a reminder to clean up after ourselves, but I also pray that it is true of our interactions with others. May each person we encounter, whether it’s our children, our spouse, a friend or a stranger, leave our presence better than we found them.

More encouraged. More loved. More hopeful.

Memorizing these two verses has deeply impacted how I choose to respond to those I encounter everyday. And to think, there are 31,100 other verses in the Bible yet to change me.

I guess I have some work to do.

Do you memorize scripture regularly? What are some tips you can share?

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Homemade Dill Pickles

I labored over making 27 quarts of dill pickles this week and it was lots of fun! It took about four hours to complete amidst lunch preparations, nap times, discipline sessions, and the like. Always an adventure trying to store food for the winter while managing as a mother, and that is why I limit my canning to pickles, tomatoes, and jams (although I’ll probably do applesauce too this year, if my energy survives). I made this same recipe last year and they turned out perfectly delicious and crunchy! I thought 15 quarts would surely last us the whole year, but we wolfed them all down by over two months ago. I roughly tripled the recipe below to make 27 quarts from 25 pounds of cucumbers. Here is my video tutorial of the process. Hope you enjoy my amateur efforts! ;)

You can find the original recipe that I adapted from Allrecipes.com:

  • 8 pounds 3 to 4 inch long pickling cucumbers
  • 4 cups white vinegar or half and half with apple cider vinegar (for the added nutritional benefits)
  • 12 cups water
  • 2/3 cup pickling salt
  • 16 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 8 sprigs fresh dill weed
  • 8 heads fresh dill weed
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp pickling spice, per quart, optional (but adds delicious flavor!)

Directions

  1. Wash cucumbers, and place in the sink or bathtub with cold water and lots of ice cubes. Soak in ice water for at least 2 hours but no more than 8 hours. Refresh ice as required.
  2. In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine the vinegar, water, and pickling salt. Bring the brine to a rapid boil.
  3. Sterilize 8 (1 quart) canning jars by running through the dishwasher. Sterilize lids by boiling in a small pan of water until ready to use.
  4. In each jar, place 1 clove of garlic, one head of dill, then enough cucumbers to fill the jar (about 1 pound). Cut off 1/16-1/8 inch off the end of each cucumber to ensure crunchy pickles. Then add 1 more garlic clove, 1 sprig of dill, and pickling spice.
  5. Fill jars with hot brine to the rim of the jar. Seal jars, making sure you have cleaned the jar’s rims of any residue.
  6. Process sealed jars by inverting and placing in a large shallow of water for 5-10 minutes. The water should cover the rim of the jar. Remove jars while inverted to a towel on your counter and cool completely before turning over.
  7. Store pickles for roughly 6-8 weeks before opening in order for the cucumbers to pickle sufficiently. Refrigerate after opening. Pickles will keep for up to 2 years if stored in a cool dry place.

Tips to Achieve Crunchy Pickles

1.Use fresh ingredients – fresh dill (no more than 1-2 days old) and fresh firm pickles, free of soft spots. You also want the most warty pickles you can find.
2. Soak in a ice cold water bath (2-8 hrs).
3. Cut off 1/16-1/8 inch of the blossoming end of the pickle before putting in canning jar.
4. Invert in small pan of boiling water to cover the rim of the jar to process for 5-10 minutes.

I followed these three steps that were shared in the comments section of the original recipe, and it definitely assured I had crunchy pickles and none went to waste!

What about Lacto-Fermented Pickles?

I would love to make some lacto-fermented pickles, for the increased nutritional benefits, but unfortunately you have to have plenty of refrigerator or cold cellar space for storage, which I lack in our small condo. Learn how to make them here:

Nourishing Days: Fermenting Vegetables
YouTube video on Fermenting pickles
Wild Fermentation: Making Sour Pickles

Kitchen Stewardship: Finally…Crunchy Pickles! (her fun attempts at pickles!)

I’d like to make a small single batch in this method soon!

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