Archive | November, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving & Family Photos!

May you all have a blessed and refreshing Thanksgiving! Taking a bit of a break for the weekend to enjoy the holiday! Today we are baking pumpkin pies and sweet potato dishes for the festivities. See you back here on Monday! For the fun of it, I thought I would share a few fun family photos we took recently. Blessings upon you all!

Photos courtesy of our friend Jocelyn Elise.
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Blender Gingerbread Pancakes

Yum! These are our all time favorite pancakes, especially for the holidays! Our tradition is gingerbread pancakes on Thanksgiving morning. These are simply delicious! Soaking steps are including for breaking down the phytates in the grain (read more here), but it can be enjoyed just as well without soaking and just proceeding through the recipe. These are wonderfully light and flavorful! Using whole grains blended in the blender will produce a lighter texture over using flour, but both options are provided for you. These freeze very well and work great for a toddler snack!

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Homemade Produce Washing Tonic

Washing your produce is a good idea, whether you are using organic or conventional produce, but particularly important with the latter. Washing your produce can greatly reduce the pesticide residue, although it cannot completely eliminate it. Peeling produce can assist in this process as well. Organic produce is free from pesticides and yet all forms of produce can become contaminated by bacteria growing in a festering fridge or picked by hands or laid on surfaces that are unsanitary in some way. Washing your produce, whatever varieties you choose, is a wise idea! I have found this homemade produce wash to be an excellent substitute for the expensive store-bought varieties!

Produce Washing Tonic

Adding a bit of lemon juice or 3-4 drops of grapefruit seed extract can give it an extra boost!

3 cups filtered water
3 Tbsp white distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp baking soda

Mix ingredients together in a spray bottle. Spray it on fruits and vegetables. Rinse well with cold water. You may also combine in the sink to dunk your produce if you desire to wash in large batches. This tonic is not recommended on mushrooms as they will absorb the flavor.

Produce Washing Tips

1. Use a scrub brush for root vegetables, and produce with rinds, groves or waxy surfaces, and rinse well. This includes melons!
2. Discard outer leaves of leafy vegetables. Rinse each leaf individually. Make sure they are dry before storing in the refrigerator as moisture can encourage the growth of bacteria.
3. Wash more tender fruit (berries, grapes, etc) in a colander.
4. Cut produce on a clean cutting board with a clean knife.
5. Thaw meats on a separate tray or plate in the refrigerator to prevent meat juices from dripping into produce drawers.
6. Clean and sanitize the refrigerator produce drawer regularly.

For more tips, visit Tammy’s Recipes & Works for me Wednesdays.
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Perseverance in Motherhood

What a beautiful final chapter was presented to us in The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson. A challenging call to faithfulness and perseverance in our roles as mothers.

“The truth is, parenting is hard. We parents are to be shepherds watching over our children’s lives -guiding, protecting, determining what is best for them. And sometimes it seems that wolves are waiting at each turn in the path to woo our children into their clutches. Diligent parents must confront these wolves again and again, and sometimes we must do battle for our children’s souls. Establishing a godly heritage will come at a great cost.” (page 224)

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Rejoicing Despite Circumstances

“Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, YET I will exult in the LORD, I WILL exult in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, And makes me walk on my high places.”
- Habakkuk 3:17-19

While attending a recent Ladies gathering, this statement was made on contentment: Circumstances are not what makes us discontent – it results from how we respond to these circumstances. It is all about our attitude! Rather than listening to our fears, we need to renew our minds in the truth (Romans 12:2). Preach the truth to ourselves rather than always listening to ourselves (Psalms 42:5)! As Habbakuk challenges me this morning, even if all my circumstances are failing, yet I will turn my thoughts towards the glorious salvation that Christ Jesus has provided for me. I have much to rejoice in! Habbakuk had to purposefully renew his mind, turn it from dwelling on his circumstances and all the lacks thereof and focus on GOD!

Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice!”

As Matthew Elliot says in his book Feel: The Power of Listening to Your Heart,I believe what God has in mind and what the Bible really says, is that joy is a real emotion. God commands us to feel happy, feel joy, feel good…I think one of the keys to experiencing this [Joy as a real emotion] is keeping focused on God as our source of joy. Our circumstances change from day to day, life sometimes is difficult, events can even be tragic, but when we focus on God himself and His love for us, it brings real joy-regardless of circumstances. We can become so worried about the events of today and tomorrow and focus so closely on circumstances that we miss the smile on God’s face and forget His remarkable salvation and provision.”

Contentment flows from our attitude! This is a main key to living simply…it starts with the heart attitude. Rejoicing in the Lord will bring true and lasting contentment! Let us renew our minds together today!

This post is part of Simple Living Saturdays.
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Frugal Egg Substitute

Making a large batch of quick bread and lacking the eggs required? Do you have an egg allergy? This little concoction is a great frugal replacement for eggs in all your baking needs. Replacing with this flax seed paste will not only stretch your eggs, but it will also boost the fiber content of your final product. I was making a large batch of raspberry bread for two different meetings and didn’t want to use my small amount of eggs remaining in the fridge. Using this little recipe, I used half the required eggs and replaced the other half with this substitute! Worked wonders!

Flaxseed Binder

Flax seeds, due to their mucilaginous property, provide the essential “binding” effect of eggs in baking. This recipe will keep well for 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Amount is equivalent to 5-6 eggs.

3/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup ground flax seed (a small coffee grinder works well for all seed grinding!)

Combine ingredients together in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes while continuing to stir. Cool and refrigerate in tightly covered container. You can use the concoction immediately if desired. Use per egg: 1/8 cup (2 Tbsp) flaxseed binder. It is a sticky substance, so exact measurement is not necessary. Best to mix in with the first liquid ingredient in the recipe before adding the next ingredient.

Recipe provided in Breakfasts by Sue Gregg, a highly recommended resource.

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Preparing Homemakers (for daughters & mothers)

Shannon asked:

How do you think growing up in your family prepared you for being a homemaker? Furthermore, what tips would you offer mothers like myself, who want to be the kind of mother yours was for you?

My mother and I sat down awhile back to reflect upon this very question. This is the list we compiled with just a few ideas of things she emphasized in my training. This resource is usual for mothers but the first half was written originally addressed to daughters with ideas and suggestions on how to use your single years to glorify the Lord while preparing to be homemakers. The tendency I believe is to get too focused on preparing to be married that we lose sight of some valuable skills that can be learned in serving others. If you are a single young lady, please read on as well! It is a high and wonderful calling to prepare little homemakers! Above all, the goal is to prepare daughters that first love Jesus, love the home and His beautiful design for placing us there, but also love to give their single years to serve and bless others!

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Simplifying Christmas Events & Building Traditions

Christmas is a wonderful season and yet how easily it fills up with an overwhelming load of activities! How can we simplify our outside activities and focus more on building strong family traditions during this season?

Limit outside events

Carefully and prayerfully evaluate how you wish to spend your holiday season as you know the invites, ideas and events will be coming. Using the holiday evaluation questions were a great tool for making these decisions and one I highly recommend you complete together with your husband. We have divided outside activities into two different themes for our families: outreach, and local holiday events (family building activities), and just limiting them deliberately to two events per category.

This year we are planning on hosting a Christmas Ladies tea for the women in our neighborhood and singing and playing Christmas carols at a local nursing home and visiting with the elderly. Other events are home centered – such as including our international students in our holidays celebrations and making some simple baked goods for our neighbors. We also like to attend two local Christmas events. I think it will be the Singing Christmas Tree (it’s free and right across the street!) & Handel’s Messiah this year. Limiting it this way helps us to prayerfully evaluate what events to participate in without stretching us too thing and not having a restful holiday season.

Enjoy Advent Reading

Advent readings throughout the season keep our hearts focused on the reason for the season and increase the family centeredness of the holidays that I enjoy. We can get so caught up in outside events and miss the meaningful times of building the family. Growing up, my family really enjoyed Jotham’s Journey: A Storybook for Advent and the other books in this series by Arnold Ytreeide. He has written three different advent stories that will take you through three years. Some of his doctrinal statements I do not agree with, but overall it was a fun family building time. When my own children grow older we will be reading through these again.

This past year, Aaron and I read through Watch For The Light: Readings For Advent And Christmas and really enjoyed these deeper and thoughtful addresses from different authors (C.S. Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, etc).

Of course, you must have an advent wreath to go with it! Last year we used a small wreath with a colorful small garland tucked into it and four red candles for of the four weeks prior to Christmas and one white candle in the middle for Christmas day. You can also use three pink, one purple and one white which is very common as well.

Other family traditions we enjoy: giving a Jesus gift to a family in need, buying one new classic Christmas movie each year, buying one new ornament to commemorate a special event from the year, going out and finding a Christmas tree together, along with a few other fun things.

To read more about other Christmas traditions at our home, read Celebrating Christ’s Coming.

Other Advent Resources:

Celebrating Advent with Kids – instructions on how to make your own advent wreath and readings.
Homemade Advent Calendar
– including fun family ideas and events for each night counting down to Christmas. Why not include a fun activity along with a passage of Scripture to reflect upon using the resource below?
Advent Calendar with Verses (Days 1-12 & Days 13-23)- another option is to post a verse behind each day on your advent calendar.
Jesse Tree Info & Resources
-Rocks in My Dryer has done a fabulous job creating a unique Jesse tree. Check out here ornaments here. The Jesse Tree is a means of telling the whole story from Creation to the Nativity story with the use of ornaments and devotional readings. A great means of keeping a Christ-centered focus during the holidays! An alternative to the Advent Calendar.
Jesse Tree Advent Celebration by Ann Voskamp – another great resource for the Jesse Tree idea, including ornament ideas and devotionals.

How do you limit outside activities during the season? What traditions are you hoping to establish this year? Have any good advent reading materials to share?

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Chicken & Dumplings

This is a delicious, flavorful and hearty meal for a cold fall or winter night using all those root vegetables that are in season. This recipe provides the option to soak your dumplings if desired to break down the phytates (as described in more detail here). You can also eliminate the chicken for a more frugal vegetarian option. This recipe makes one 13×9 pan. My hubby absolutely loved this dish! He said it was even better the second day after all the flavors messed together!

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Mission Minded Motherhood

Welcome to the chapter 11 review of our book study on The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart for Eternity by Sally Clarkson.

“Service to others in need is an essential part of training and instructing our children in order to cultivate in them a loving and obedient heart. Serving others is a way to live out what the Bible would have us believe in our hearts. It puts feet to the message of the gospel.” (page 200)

The harvest is plentiful and the workers are few (Matt. 9:37-38)….God is calling each of us to make our homes embassies for the furtherance of His kingdom on this earth. What a wonderful opportunity we have to incorporate our children in serving and ministry to others as a family. It is not something we should do independently of them…for how else will they catch the vision and passion for service if they do not experience the joys of giving oneself firsthand?

Jesus intended that one of the greatest gifts we could give our children was the baton of eternal life, to be passed on from one generation to the next. Surely, then, helping our children develop a heart for God and his kingdom work must be my fundamental priority as a mother. The specific ways in which we train our children to reach out to others – whether we teach them to give a ‘cup of cold water’ to the homeless or urge them to become missionaries to a foreign country-make little difference. It is in discovering what it means to be part of God’s redeeming work in the world that will excite our children’s heart to meet the needs of others…we help them receive love by learning to give it to others.” (page 213)

Jesus Christ is our ultimate example of one who gave sacrificially, and always felt compassion for the needs of others, no matter how demanding they were upon his time and energy. Matthew 9:35-36 describes Him as one who “and seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them…” Children must learn to see people as Jesus saw them! Together as a family we can grow in this area together. Encourage a giving heart around the home. Can we invite them to write a card to encourage a friend or family in need? Can we encourage them to take a cold drink to Dad when he is mowing the lawn? Can we open our home in hospitality to an overnight guest, missionary, or international student and give of the abundance that Christ has given us? Include them in the whole process!

We will all be called to give an account for the privilege we have received in the bestowal of the gospel. (Matthew 24:31-46). Ought we to give more attention then to how we are preparing our children to walk out the Great Commission? Questions to prayerfully evaluate with your children may include:“I wonder in what way God would have you invest your life for his glory? How can you use your gifts and strengths to bring others to him or to further his kingdom influence on this earth?” Answering these questions might just open up doors of opportunity as we seek to apply the gifts God has given each member of our family in meeting needs around us.

For excellent further reading on becoming a mission minded family, I strongly recommend you read The Mission-Minded Family, by Ann Dunagan. I had the wonderful privilege of meeting Ann personally and have been blessed by this resource! I believe every family needs to read this! For my complete review of this book, visit here.

What did you glean from this chapter? Do you have any creative ideas to share on how to participate in ministry together as a family?

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