Menu Plan – Sept 29-Oct 4

Praise the Lord for a relaxing and enjoyable weekend! Aaron and I went out to see Fireproof on Friday evening and were delighted to see a packed theater. It was an excellent movie and greatly blessed and strengthened our marriage. I would definitely recommend getting out there and supporting this film. It was refreshing to see the miracle God can perform in any marriage no matter the state. Full of fun humor and tear jerking scenes.

Saturday we spent the day completing the re-organization of Aaron’s home office. We have been working on simplifying it for the last few weeks and I believe our job is complete! Praise the Lord for a clean office once again!

This weekend we look forward to heading north to Seattle and attending Mission Fest conference. We will be helping to man the Lightsys Ministries booth (the technology mission group we are joining), and maybe attend a session or two.

Now on to the menu plan…

Monday
Prep: make butter, soak oatmeal

Breakfast: Fruit Salad, Hard boiled eggs, toast
Lunch:  Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese sandwiches, fresh fruit
Dinner: Guests for dinner: Grilled Veggie Sandwiches (a great delicious frugal meal!), raw veggies or corn

Tuesday

Breakfast: Soaked Oatmeal, apples, raisins, bananas
Lunch: Peanut Butter & Jelly, applesauce
Dinner: Taco Salad

Wednesday
Prep: soak oatmeal, soak rice for dinner

Breakfast: French toast, fruit salad
Lunch:  Baked Potato Bar (using leftover chili from last week)
Dinner: Chicken Curry over Brown Rice, Green Salad
Dessert Guests – Berry Cobbler & Ice Cream- We are having an international student over for the first time through a ministry called ISI (read more here). Basically you become friendship partners with a student and build relationships through inviting them into your home on a regular basis. Will be sharing more in the future…but we would appreciate your prayers as we reach out to this gentleman from Belgium. His wife will be arriving on the 15th as well.

Thursday

Breakfast: Oatmeal, apples, raisins, bananas
Lunch:  Salmon Melts
Eat dinner on the road up to Seattle

Friday-Saturday in Seattle for Mission Fest Conference

For more menu plans, visit Organizing Junkie.

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Simple Saturdays: Simplifying Canning!

Welcome to Simple Living Saturdays, where we are all seeking to encourage one another in purposefully simplicity for the glory of God! Today of which I am honored to host this carnival for the second time due to Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home’s absence. Next Saturday it will be back over at her blog!

I was deliberating delaying in completing my tomato canning process due to the long and tiring day of canning my cousin and I had last week! We had six lugs of tomatoes to can (somewhere around 150 pounds) and it took us all day to just do half the job! Amidst the peeling, dicing, and canning, we had a tomato get kindly speared all over the carpet and a pile of dark dirt get drug in by the munchkins from my container garden on the back deck! Very lively indeed! We still had a great time of fellowship, but I was on a quest to find a simpler method to make this process easier and less time consuming…

Peaches

Do you really have to peel the peaches? I found they actually come off quite naturally in their jars after processing them in the water bath canner. Most of the peels just slip to the bottom of the jar after opening. Cooking the peaches prior to canning also seems to be quite unnecessary. I sliced them, and put them immediately into the jars and then poured my syrup mixture over them to fill the jar. (using a little honey and water). I followed these instructions and just skipped step 6 (peeling) & 9 (cooking) and used honey to sweeten (approx. 3/4 cup honey in replacement for each cup of sugar in the recipe).

Pears

I did peel my pears with a regular peeler (due to the harder peel) but rather than cooking them in their syrup, I simply peeled and packed them right away in their jars. I filled the remainder of the jar with the same mixture that I used with the peaches (3/4 cup honey in replacement of each cup of water and hot water). I followed these instructions and skipped step 8.

Tomatoes

After doing some searching, I discovered two simple methods that work for simplifying tomatoes.

1) Simply freeze whole tomatoes in Ziploc bags! When you thaw them the peel will slide right off. You will preserve more of the nutrients by freezing. You can then toss them in the blender or food processor and make your sauce. Great if you have the freezer space.

2) Cut your tomatoes (with the skins on and all!) into quarters (depending on their shape) and place in a blender or food processor. You can keep the core and everything (besides the tops) as desired. Blend till you get a chunky tomato sauce (about 5-10 sec)! Place in your jars and process. No additional heating is necessary.

Since my freezers are overflowing (Praise the Lord!), I chose the second option. I had a batch of tomato sauce in the blender in a matter of seconds (thanks to my mom’s blender – mine is still out of commission -boo hoo!). Wow! I completed my dreaded canning process this way in less than 2 hours (for the remaining 1 1/2 lugs that I had on hand – approx. 35 lbs)! It was so awesome I had to share it with you!

I use the oven to keep my jars warm. As I am preparing the next batch for the canner, I keep filling jars and keeping them warm in the oven.

Thank the Lord for granting me the grace to simplify the process, especially while juggling a little toddler and being pregnant at the same time! Canning can get very time consuming, and draining, but it can also save you a lot of money, thus I thought I would take the plunge!
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Living Simply Saturdays are an opportunity to share what is bringing more simplicity and purposefulness to your own life, and to glean from the lives of others.

To join in, post your contribution on your blog, then come back here and add your link below. Please make sure that you link to the specific post, and not to the homepage of your blog, and make sure that you include in your post a link back to this post. Thanks so much!

If you don’t have a blog, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section!

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Home Learning this Week

Karis is practicing clapping her hands like the seal!

Learning with Karis is such a joy! This week has been full of canning produce for the winter, and thus not a whole lot of time to devote to our beginning learning projects, but I have been amazed how much she can learn without a whole lot of effort. I love observing her enjoyment for reading. She is constantly looking at books and choosing her favorites. What a blessing to have a local library full of wonderful resources to draw from!

This week her favorite has been From Head to Toe by Eric Carle. I estimate I have read this to her at least a half dozen times each day this week! I have it all memorized now but how can I refuse her little pleading moans while she holds the book and hits it on my legs? The result…she is learning many different animals and the actions they do. This is a great resource for teaching physical actions, such as “the gorilla thumps his chest” and then it asks the reader “can you do it?” With each one we have been demonstrating these actions to Karis. She loves it and is learning to preform them amazingly well!

Secondly, she has been exploring the piano with great enthusiasm this week. Even if you just have a keyboard of some sort, or a simple drum, this is fun way to expose them to exploring with making their own music. Thankfully my piano has a quiet pedal to keep the tone down, but she will sit there and just bang around for quite awhile. Headphones would be a nice feature for a keyboard and little ones!

Lastly, even at just 16 months of age, she has found a new interest in sitting on the counter next to me and help preparing food. This week she started mixing batter for me with a mixing spoon. I was pleasantly surprised!

I love how simple learning can be so much fun, free and simple without too much planning and preparations!

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Fireproof: The Movie

The movie “Fireproof” is opening this weekend, September 26. For a preview and more information, visit here or click on the link above. This appears to be an excellent movie by the same producers of “Facing the Giants”. Their goal in making this movie was to be a change agent in our culture and save marriages.  Marriage is one of the corner stones that God set up and it is a picture of Christ and the Church.

The movie is about a marriage in crisis and the “love dare” that the husband’s father gives to him to help his son win back his wife’s heart. Christians purchasing tickets and showing support at the  opening weekend for this God- honoring film is critical to keep it in theaters.

Let’s help encourage Sherwood Baptist Church in their desire for this movie to be a change agent in our culture: go and see it this weekend, invite others to join you.  The opening weekend will decide if movie will continue in the theater or not.

Aaron and I had a few friends and family attend pre-screenings of this movie and highly recommended it. I personally was greatly blessed and encouraged by “Facing the Giants” and thus want to get behind the efforts of this church to supply our culture with Christ-honoring films. We will be there!

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Heb 10:24

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Christ Centered Childraising

Laura at Joshua’s House honored me with a request to write an article for her ministry on why we have a vision for keeping our child training Christ centered and how we are seeking to go about this. We are always in need of further growth and maturity in our own parenting, but I pray this might provide some encouragement to other families that there is reason to pursue Christ in everything. You will find it here.

Laura is seeking to provide families with resources to encourage spiritual growth. She has a great list of family fun activities to complete together to not only build relationships but also strengthen their love for the Lord. Thanks Laura for your efforts and the invitation!

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Simplifying Your Wardrobe – Part 2

Welcome back for part 2 with further tips on Simplifying your Wardrobe! For part 1, visit here. In part 1, we discussed how to build a simple wardrobe through evaluating how much clothing you really need and how to build a selected color scheme. Now on to other ideas…above all, remember that the reason we should ultimately seek to simplify is that we might reserve more resources, time and energy for the Lord’s use…in order that we might have more to give (read more about this purpose here)!

Select clothing that is timeless

Rather than following all the fashion trends that change with each season, I like to keep my wardrobe simple by choosing more timeless attire. I may choice one or two more fashionable items (because it is fun!) on an annual basis but they still remain in my color scheme. I love denim skirts and pants, and assortment of black and brown which never grow old!

Select clothing that is versatile

Choosing clothing that works for more than one occasion/event is also very helpful. I like to wear a variety of casual skirts that work well for both around the house, dinner or evening out, and at church. I have one or two fancier dresses for weddings and such, but the main collection of my wardrobe is appropriate for both casual and semi-formal events.

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Variety in Your Grains

There is such a variety of grains out there ready for our use…why limit ourselves to whole wheat? My recommendation for beginning on the pathway to more nutritious eating is to try and eliminate white flour and replace with whole wheat (read more here). This is a huge step in the right direction! As you become more familiar with whole wheat, it is very nutritious to start including a variety of grains in your diet!

Here is what we use around our kitchen. There are many more quality grains out there, but I have simplified my kitchen to use some of the easiest to work with…

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

If you are anything like me, you love homemade ice cream! But not just any homemade ice cream…but a healthy and naturally sweetened dessert!

Our family absolutely loves homemade ice cream from our Cuisinart maker that we purchased awhile back (highly recommended by the way!). In a matter of 30 minutes we have a fresh batch of delicious ice cream! We can use quality raw milk and cream and an array of ingredients!

Here is our favorite concoction:

4-5 cups fresh whole milk (preferably raw – for more info on this, check out realmilk) – best texture is achieved by replacing 2 cups or more with heavy whipping cream (we scrap the cream off the top of our raw milk for this purpose)
1 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2-3/4 cup rapadura (our favorite natural sweetener choice, but you can also experiment with maple syrup, agave nectar, etc)
2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine together in a mixing bowl and pour into your ice cream machine, as the manufacturer’s instructions suggest. If you don’t own an ice cream machine…you can also just put it in your freezer till frozen!

For our coconut ice cream recipe, visit here.

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Mission of Motherhood: Storing up Treasures!

Today we continue our book study on The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson with chapter 3: The Undivided Heart. Please join us! Here are just a few points that really stood out to me while reading this chapter.

Matthew 6:20-21
“Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

The command in this passage of Scripture is for us to set our hearts on choices that have eternal results, rather than temporal significance. I have always considered this passage to only be referring to storing up treasures in heaven, challenging us to be generous, to tithe, to serve, and send our resources on ahead of us. What struck me in this chapter was Sally’s insightful point with this question: Have you considered that your children are eternal souls that will last for eternity?

“My children are eternal human beings whose lives and souls will last throughout all of eternity…God has given them into my husband’s and my hands to protect and lead and shepherd them through this life on earth; in his sight, they are my first priority. Committing myself to fulfilling God’s design falls under the admonition to seek first his kingdom – the kingdom of heaven where we will live for all eternity. The kingdom of this world and all of its pleasures last only for a time. My children will become treasures in heaven if they indeed learn to love God and serve him with their whole hearts. This is eternal work – to train the hearts, minds, and consciences in righteousness.

This is our eternal work as parents – to invest in building a strong generation of children, through building their moral, emotional, mental, and spiritual well being, so they might function as responsible adults for the rest of their lives. This is my primary mission field – the souls of my children!

One day I will stand before the Judgment seat, and the Lord will ask me to give an account to him for the precious souls that he entrusted into my hands. Oh that I might be found faithful!

“Children do not accidentally become righteous leaders or emotionally healthy and productive adults – any more than seeds thrown randomly to the wind grow to be part of a thriving garden. Simply throwing children into a cultural tornado and hoping for the best gives them little chance of living up to their potential or coming out unharmed.”

There is a need for someone to take responsibility to invest in their nurture, protection, nourishment, intellectual development, manners, recreation, personal needs, and spiritual development. Who is willing to invest the time and energy needed to accomplish such a task? Should we leave it to others, the world around us, the “professionals”? A wise God has provided such a person in His perfect ordered plan for creation – and that person is a mother, working in partnership with her husband, to accomplish such a task!

What stood out to you in this chapter? Please feel free to share a quote, or anything that the Lord has been challenging you with thus far.

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The Art of Being A Well-Dressed Wife – Part 2

Welcome back for part 2, with highlights from Wife Dressing by Anne Fogarty from my sister, Christa, and a few little ideas of my own! For part 1, visit here.

A General Guide to Wife Dressing

1. Compress your Wardrobe

Be relentless. If it’s out of style-makes you itch or squirm with discomfort, turns your skin sallow- can it! Sentiment may cast a rosy  glow on some special piece or other, but in reality, it’s just taking up space.

With the dross and fool’s gold cleared away, the real nuggets shine. An uncluttered wardrobe gives you a working knowledge of what you have and full control over selections. I regularly (every month) clean out my closet and invariably give-away an item or two. It’s better to have fewer clothes, all wearable and each accessorized in your mind than the confusion of having three times the selection. Remember, weeding is a money saver – sell it or donate it and save on your income tax return!

2. The Jewelry Box

The best jewel box is one that is sparsely filled. Not being able to tell the forest for the trees is the chief woe of the overstuffed box. Simplicity, class. One or two fresh things is enough.

3. Excess Accessories

The Confusion of Profusion is too many scarves, belts, and other oddities. By “too many” I mean relics from the past, that are no longer in current use. If an accessory hasn’t been worn for a year, if it’s shabby, if the color is faded or doesn’t go with anything you have, if you simply cant stand to wear it…ditch it.

Here are some added thoughts and ideas from Lindsay…

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