Archive | June, 2010

Raw Naturally Sweetened Berry Freezer Jam

The summer season is here and the produce is beginning to come off the vines. I am not a big canning person as it requires so much time and energy (which is challenging to do with two little ones running around), but I have chosen my priorities to focus on in the past two years. Jam, tomatoes, and pickles. These are my three big projects for the summer, otherwise I like to freeze lots of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and peaches for smoothies and desserts throughout the year.

I prefer to make my own jam because every standard jam/jelly on the market contains high amounts of high fructose corn syrup in addition to being highly processed through the heating and canning methods. Organic jellies are super expensive and use organic sugar to sweeten which still has been highly processed and refined. I prefer the natural sucanat/rapadura sweetener that is unrefined, high in iron, naturally evaporated, preserving all the vitamins and minerals.

I love making raw freezer jam because it is so simple, and protects the large majority of nutrients in the berries over the standard canning procedures. The only disadvantage with raw freezer jam is that it will not get as thick as the canned/cooked alternative, but it works well for us.

My random collection of jars

Yesterday, my daughter and I prepared 10 jars of raspberry/strawberry freezer jam (or 3 batches of the recipe below) in a few simple steps, with the help of Pomona’s Pectin. I use this brand because it is all natural made from citrus peel, free of sugar and preservatives, and allows me to use honey, low sugar, fruit juice concentrate, or any other sweetener.

The recipe is included in every box of Pomona’s Pectin, but here are our tips and tricks:

Raw Freezer Jam

Karis displaying the pureed berries

4 cups mashed fruit (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries), room temperature
1/8 cup lemon juice (optional)
1 cup honey or 2 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
3 tsp pectin powder (included in box)
4-12 tsp calcium water (included in box – combine calcium powder with 1/2 cup cold water)

Note: You have the option to use as little as 1/4 cup honey or 3/4 cup sugar per batch, but I personally recommend you use the full amount of sweetener. It’s just not worth it in my experience as it turns out too bland.We prefer a rich, flavorful jam that is naturally sweetened with honey or sucanat/rapadura. I mix two batches at a time to save time.


1. Wash and rinse air tight jars. Another reason I love freezer jam is because I can use any containers I desire – no need for replacing all the canning lids each year. You can use any miscellaneous plastic or glass jars in varying sizes.

2. Prepare fruit by rinsing and removing stems. Place in a blender and pulse several times until smooth. Pour pureed berries into a large bowl and rinse blender.
3. Measure sugar or honey and add to fruit; stir well.
4. Bring water to boil. Put in blender/food processor. Add pectin powder, vent lid and blend 1-2 minutes until all powder is dissolved.
5. Add hot liquid pectin to fruit; stir until well mixed.

6. Add 4 tsp calcium water (which you prepare via the instructions in the box); stir well. Jell should appear. If not, continue adding 1 tsp of calcium water and stirring well until jell appears.

7. Pour jam into containers, leaving 1/2” at top for expansion in the freezer. Store in the freezer immediately. Once removed from freezer, store in refrigerator. Lasts 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator.

Karis mixes the fruit after adding pectin

Note: The original instructions say that it will only last a week, but my experience is that it will definitely go 3-4 weeks before going bad. I did notice that it will get thinner the longer it is in the fridge, so it is preferred to use it within 2 weeks.

Makes 5-6 cups, or approximately 6 (8 0z jars).


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Read Aloud: The Best Education

“You may have tangible wealth untold: Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be – I had a mother who read to me.”
-Strickland Gillian, ‘The Reading Mother”

Do you take those precious moments to read aloud to your children? Again and again perhaps? Did you know establishing this simple habit can greatly impact the future success of your children? What tender moments these are snuggling up with your kiddos.

I recently completed The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease and what a convicting read it was for me! His emphasis throughout the book is proving the point that reading aloud to your children throughout their childhood and teenage years can make the greatest impact on their education.

Story after story is told in this book detailing these successful students and they trace back their success to the consistency of their parents (both mother and father) in reading alot to their children, even for just 30 minutes each day, even well after they learned to read for themselves.

I recall night after night scaling the heights of many adventure stories with my daddy as a child. What treasured memories these were for us.

Why Read Aloud?

The Commission on Reading, performed a study in 1985, titled Becoming A Nation of Readers, which discovered that:

  • “The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to your children.”
  • “It is a practice that should continue throughout the grades.”

The experts discovered that reading aloud was more important than work sheets, homework, assessments, book reports, and flash cards. One of the cheapest, simplest, and oldest tools of teaching was being promoted as a better teaching tool than anything else in the home or classroom.

“The more you read, the more you know; and the more you know, the smarter you grow.”

Reading is the single most important social factor in American life today

Jim states: “A nation that doesn’t know much is more likely to make poor choices in the home, the marketplace, the jury box, and the voting booth. And those decisions ultimately affect the entire nation – the literate and the illiterate.”

Reading builds relationships in addition to increasing vocabulary

“Whenever an adult reads to a child, three important things are happening simultaneously and painlessly: 1) a pleasure connection is being made between child and book, 2) both parent and child are learning something from the book they’re sharing together (double learning), and 3) they adult pouring sounds and syllables called words in the child’s ear.”

The speaking vocabulary, reading vocabulary and writing vocabulary – all have their origins in the listening vocabulary.

Some important points that stood out to me:

Encourage the daddies to read to their children.

A study conducted in Modesto, California, showed that boys who were read to by their fathers scored significantly higher in reading achievement, and when fathers read recreationally, their sons read more and scored higher than did boys whose fathers did little or no recreational reading. Fathers have a great influence on their children and what an opportunity to invest in their lives.

Lead by example – become a reader.

Our children are like little sponges, soaking up the values of their parents while they sit in living rooms, kitchens, and cars. The more the parents read, the more your children will read. The more we talk about what we read, the more our children will be intrigued as well. Place books, magazines, and newspapers, all over your home. Saturate your home with books. Find snippets of time to read personally while you wait, in the bathroom, before bed, and watch your children’s interest grow. When reading is our hobby, it may very well become their hobby.

Fill your home with a wide range of reading materials.

Surrounding our children with a wide variety of reading materials – books, newspapers, magazines and the like, statistically leads to a higher success rate in school and the greatest interest in books in general. Jim Trelease goes so far as to state that series of fiction are significantly beneficial if not for the content but for the love of reading they inspire.

Don’t be afraid to require your children to read.

The author presents the challenge, “we require our children to pick up their rooms and get dressed, why should we not require them to read?” We think that requiring them to do something will discourage their desires, but statistically it is just not true. The more you read, the better you get at it; the better you get at it, the more you like it; and the more you like it, the more you do it.

The Read-Aloud Handbook is thorough and motivating. It includes an excellent “Treasury of Read-Alouds” in the back of the book. Every book we have read from his recommendations have been immensely enjoyed by my children.

The conclusion I came to is you may do nothing else with your children but reading aloud for schooling for the first six years of their life, and they will be well-equipped to jump in, if they haven’t already on their own, to the world of reading, and loving it too!

There is no doubt that reading aloud to your children is a very bonding experience. It is cheap and simple. It only requires time investment – but it is the best investment!

For other quality read-aloud selections, check out these recommendations:

Honey for A Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt

Read for the Heart: Whole Books for the Wholehearted Family by Sarah Clarkson

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Passports for Missions: Just for Fun & Just in Case!

This post is written by Passionate Homemaking’s monthly contributor, Ann Dunagan.

As passionate homemaking women, we love our Lord, our families, and our homes; yet at followers of Jesus, we also need His passion for the world, His kingdom, and the lost.

Have you ever considered traveling internationally, or taking a family mission trip?

When Hudson Taylor was only five years old he said, “When I’m a man, I mean to be a missionary and go to China.” This mission call grew, until as a young adult Hudson Taylor exclaimed, “I feel I cannot go on living unless I do something for China.” Years later, after a lifetime of renowned missionary service throughout Inland China, the veteran spokesman addressed the next generation as he pleaded,“The Great Commission is not an option to consider. It is a command to obey.”

I was eight years old when God called me to missions. As a little girl, the Lord “spoke” to me at a Christian family camp through Jeremiah 1:4-8 about going “to the nations.” At sixteen, I headed to Mexico on my first mission trip; as young newlyweds, my husband and I surrendered everything to go wherever God would call; and for over 22 years, our family has been actively involved, all across the globe, in fulltime international missions. We’ve ministered together as a family, in teams of two or three of us at a time, and as individuals. We’ve tasted strange foods, experienced fascinating cultures, and have seen – with our own eyes – some incredible needs.

We’ve always lived in the United States, but by God’s grace, His call on our lives has taken us, collectively, to nearly 70 nations on all 7 continents. We’ve dreamed some big dreams . . . and little dreams. We’ve rescued hundreds of orphan kids, established village churches, and made friends with our neighbors (and shared the Lord) during local soccer games. To our family, “MISSIONS” is not an extra-curricular subject or an optional supplement to our Christian life; living for God’s Great Commission is the central core of everything we do. Geography is more than a map and a textbook. World News is more than a “take-it-or-leave-it” headline report. Living with a mission perspective has dramatically impacted our our family, our parenting, and our life-purpose.

So as we’re thinking this month about various aspects about TRAVEL, I have a question to each Passionate Homemaking reader. It’s just a quick little question . . . but with BIG implications:

If you and your family want to be a part of God’s Great Commission (Matthew 26:19 and Mark 16:15 – to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel”) . . .


Included in this article are instructions to make mission-minded “Passports” – as a fun craft project and learning tool. However, I want to motivate you to go one step further and to apply for “real” passports for each member of your family. In the United States, adult passports last for ten years and child passports last for five years. Even the “process” of applying for passports is a great educational experience . . . and who knows where this simple step could lead you, or what impact this small step could make in the future, and for God’s kingdom?

JUST FOR FUN! – Make a Mission-Minded “Passport”

As you child learns about various areas of the world, a fun idea is to chart this progress on a special Mission-Minded “Passport.”

1. What you need:

A printed copy of the MISSION-MINDED passport pages (here’s a PDF file of these pages), your child’s photo, scissors, glue, colored construction paper, blank white paper, yarn, hole puncher, clear packing tape, and stapler.

2. What to do:

Have your child cut out the passport pages along the dotted lines and glue these pieces to a passport-sized booklet (made from a half-piece of colored construction paper with blank white pages stapled inside). Add your child’s photo to the appropriate box, and for strength and durability cover the entire passport with clear packing tape. Punch a hole in the top left corner, and insert a piece of yarn or cording so your child can wear the passport around his or her neck. For fun, add international stickers or stamps (here are FREE printable country flags and stamps which work well with passports).

3. How to use this passport:

As your child learns about an area of the world, stamp the passport with a culturally appropriate rubber stamp, international flag or globe-oriented sticker, or a foreign postage stamp—all available at most teacher supply stores. This passport can be used to keep track of achievements, such as Bible memory or Bible reading progress, or to record a child’s personal prayer time as he or she “travels” around the world through intercession.

JUST IN CASE! – Apply for Official Current Passports for Your Whole Family

3 Reasons WHY you should get Passports:

1. You’ll be ready to go anywhere in the world, at a moment’s notice.
2. You’ll instill a preliminary attitude of willingness to follow God
– wherever He may lead – into the hearts of each member of your family.
3. You’ll open up a whole world of possibilities, as you pray and learn about different nations (with real passports ready “just in case”). It will change how you pray as you ask God where He may want you to travel someday, or potential mission trips He may want you to take.

3 Steps HOW to get Passports:

1. Print out passport applications (if you are US citizens, here is the US Passport Application site: If you are Canadian citizens, here is the Passport Canada site:
2. Fill out the applications. Locate documentations and IDs. Get passport photos for each family member.
3. Submit applications at your local post office, with appropriate fees.

Even if your family is never called to fulltime foreign missions, it’s good to be prepared for the “possibility” of a short-term mission trip, an overseas emergency to help a friend or loved one, or even an international vacation. If you are willing to consider a mission adventure for any (or all) of your family within the next several years, I encourage you to quit procrastinating.

Get your passports!

Ann Dunagan is a longtime homeschooling mother of 7 (ages 9 to 23, with 3 graduates), an international speaker with Harvest Ministry, co-founder of two orphanages in East Africa (caring for over 700 children), and author of several books including The Mission-Minded Family. With a passion for the Lord and the lost, Ann motivates families for world missions.

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Natural Summer BBQ: Marinaded Steaks

Welcome back to the continuation of our series on natural summer barbecuing! Today we will share our favorite means of preparing some mean steaks. We select grass-fed steaks, if possible, and they tend to be a bit more tough than your standard commercial meat. The perfect solution is a delicious natural marinade. This marinade makes the most flavorful and moist steaks, as long as you don’t over marinade or over cook your steaks!

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (fermented)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 cup white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder, or 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper


  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender. Blend for 30 seconds until thoroughly mixed.
  2. Pour marinade over desired type of meat in a Ziploc bag or covered container. Seal or cover and refrigerate for 8 hours. Rotate regularly to allow all the meat to have soaking time in the marinade. Cook meat as desired. Makes enough to marinade for 4 steaks.
Adapted from

Steak Barbecuing Tips

Aaron has tried and proven these tips successful thanks to How To Grill Great Steak.

  • Preheat the grill: For gas grills preheat on high for 20 minutes. Charcoal grills are ready when the coals are covered in white ash (high heat).
  • Apply Rub: While grill preheats apply rub of choice. We love Montreal Steak Seasoning.
  • Sear the steaks: Place the steaks on the grill and cook for 3 minutes a side on the highest heat setting with the lid closed.
  • Cook the steaks: Reduce the heat to medium high. For charcoal grills move the coals to the outside of the grill leaving the middle open. Continue cooking according to your preference:
    After searing grilling chart
    Steak Thickness 1″ 1 1/4″ 1 3/4″
    Rare(120-129F) 0-1 Min 2-3 Min 4-5 Min
    Medium Rare(130-139F) 1-2 Min 3-4 Min 5-6 Min
    Medium(140-149F) 2-3 Min 4-5 Min 6-7 Min
    Medium Well(150-159F) 4_5 Min 6-7 Min 8-9 Min
  • Let steaks rest: Take the steaks off the grill and let rest five minutes.
  • Photo credit

    Comments { 5 }

    Green & Simple Birthday Parties for Kids

    Carina asked: I was wondering if you have any tips for a frugal, eco-conscious birthday party for a baby.  I thought that would be a great discussion topic, and since your kids are older than mine, you might have some good ideas!

    Birthday parties can definitely be a source of great waste from wrapping paper, to disposables plates and such, and it is wise to consider your options more carefully. For one, what are your goals in throwing a party for your child? Personally, I want my child to feel special, loved, and appreciated, but at the same time I do not want it to be focused on the presents. I want it to be simple, relaxing, and refreshing for all parties, but especially me as the mother and planner! For the first two years we have kept it extremely simple by making cupcakes, or a bear cake, and had family over for dessert. That’s really about it. Here are some other simple ideas for those who want a bit more:

    Invitations – Use the online options of invitations to keep it simple and free. is my favorite method for email invitations.

    Decorations - Make a simple homemade “Happy Birthday” banner than can be reused time and time again. This can be made out of colored paper or felt. Buy or make a felt party hat for your child that can be passed down to others in the future. Make a princess birthday hat for the girls, and a birthday crown for the boys (skip the number so it can be reused, or attach velcro to the back of the number so that could be changed). If you want to use crepe paper for decor, choose a biodegradable option. Beeswax birthday candles are the perfect natural candle for your celebration.

    Tableware – Rather than using disposables, check out the compostable bamboo plates and bamboo silverware or reusable plastic options. We have a plastic picnic set from IKEA that works perfectly for these occasions. Cupcakes eliminate any need for tableware!

    Dessert – When the children are really young, we keep it simple with delicious cupcakes. Make it a fun activity to decorate your cupcakes together at the party. As they get older, I definitely want to make them feel extra special by giving them the opportunity to pick out a special cake that we can make and decorate together. I keep a favorite birthday cake cookbook on hand for them to select their favorite.


    Field Trips – Invite your guests to a field trip to the zoo, science museum, fire station, swimming pool, library story time, or park. This helps cut down on any mess in the home and makes it a fun frugal outing for all. For Karis’ birthday this year, we went to the Children’s Museum in Portland and then provided a sandwich lunch and cupcakes for our guests. It was delightful and simple, and she had a blast!

    Games - If games are on the schedule, stick with the old classic games that do not require any waste – hopscotch, musical chairs, capture the flag, and charades.

    Give to Others - make something together with your guests that could be given to bless others in your community. Make cookies and decorate for the neighbors, elderly, or the homeless. Help teach your children the value and blessing of serving others rather than focusing on ourselves. You could also make cards to missionaries or those in prison, or simple crafts (knitted, sewed, or crotchet) for the Pregnancy Resource Centers.


    Gifts can easily be kindly declined and stated clearly in your invitations, but when it comes to grandparents and close family, this can be a different story. Our solution has been to request family to chip in together on a bigger gift item. We compiled a dress up box for Karis for her birthday and everyone purchased an item or two for it. If a friend wants to contribute, it makes it easy for them as well. The previous year we bought a wooden kitchen set and others contributed food items and such. This helps keep birthdays simple without too much extravagance and focus on the gifts. The child receives a special gift that will last and can be shared among others. For their first birthday’s, we honestly only buy them one small gift (Karis received a drum, Titus a sock monkey, and books and clothes from the grandparents). Less is more!

    A Time of Appreciation

    We want birthdays to be a time of love and appreciation for the child. We want to focus on celebrating the child and commending them for the good qualities that are being exhibited in their lives. Going around the table and sharing one thing we appreciate about the birthday person is a family tradition and always an encouraging time for the recipient. We also like to write a letter to each child on their birthday reflecting back on the previous year and the Lord’s goodness in their life, highlights, and what character qualities we see demonstrated in their life. I received these from my own daddy while I was growing up and they meant the world to me! We keep these in a special journal for our children to be given back when they grow up.

    So overall, my vision is to keep things simple and yet special through the decorated cakes, and expressing our appreciation to our children. Limiting gifts and cultivating opportunities to give to others so our children grow up with a heart to serve and bless others.

    Further Resources:

    How to Throw a Green Birthday Party
    Simple, Frugal Birthday Parties for Kids
    by Simple Mom

    Photo credit

    What are your favorite green and simple birthday party ideas?

    Comments { 26 }

    Babies Don’t Keep

    Cleaning and scrubbing will wait ’till tomorrow, but children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow. So quiet down cobwebs! Dust go to sleep! I’m rocking my baby. Babies don’t keep. – Ruth Hamilton

    I came across this sweet quote in a friend’s house this week, and it struck a cord in my heart. A cord that needs to be pulled quite frequently to keep me on track. Why is it so easy to get focused on too many little things, when the most important thing is to simply and lovingly rock that baby, kiss that boo-boo, read that story, and guide these precious souls to Jesus?

    Let’s not miss the moments…

    Photo credit

    Comments { 19 }

    How To Be Well-Travelled Without Leaving Home

    Photo by Firma

    This post is brought to you by Passionate Homemaking’s monthly contributor, Vina Barham.

    “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

    Prior to becoming a stay-at-home mom, travel was a big part of my life. Growing up in the Philippines, we traveled often to nearby provinces but never far enough. I got my first whiff of intercontinental travel when we moved to the U.S. I was 16. It was exhilarating. Everything was new.  Every bite of American food was delicious, even when it just was frozen waffles (I know, crazy huh?)  It was like being born all over again. The sight, the smell, the taste, the touch of everything around me were worth noticing and fully experiencing.

    Of course after several years, the novelty eventually wore off. Right before I graduated from college, I went to China for a summer mission trip and it rocked my world. I decided to move there after college for a few years. Having to figure out my identity and purpose in the midst of interacting with another culture profoundly changed me. When I finally moved back to the U.S. I took a job overseeing a short-term mission program for an international agency. My husband and I also traveled to Asia and Europe together our first two years of marriage.  Then we became parents. And you know how THAT goes. The farthest we’ve travelled since then was to Chicago. And so we had to figure out ways how to cultivate our love for travel and all that it offers, without leaving home. For now.

    The Awesomeness That Is Travel

    Sometimes I feel like I was born to travel. I don’t mind airports and time changes. Feeling out of place is pretty normal for me. I can make do with minimal personal hygiene and I will try about almost anything as long as it doesn’t kill me. I can deal with getting lost in a city if I have a map and a language dictionary. As much as it is the thrill of being in a new place, travel has brought a lot of unexpected richness in my life.

    • Travel has widened my sensory experience. Often when we go outside the confines of our everyday, we are given an opportunity to a new way of seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling and tasting. Jawaharial Nehru, first prime minister of India was quoted saying,“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” Of course we don’t have to travel far and wide, as I am going to talk about more in the next section, but travel has a magical way of ushering us into a new adventure.
    • Travel  has stretched my ability to live simply. Going beyond the borders of what was comfortable for me forced me adapt to the unknown and the unpredictable. I learned that I didn’t need much in this life, and that richness is found in the essentials and not luxury. Cesare Pavese said once, “Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” Exactly.
    • Travel has broadened my understanding of the world. Traveling grounds me in the realities of the bigger world we live in. It broadens my heart and soul to what I welcome as good and it puts me in touch with pain and suffering that I am often shielded from. It helps me see my prejudices and bigotry that I don’t realize I have. It also gives me a more holistic perspective of the culture I grew up in (Philippines) and the culture I am immersed in now (U.S.). My context for living has changed. Samuel Johnson puts it well, “Traveling helps regulate our imaginations by reality, instead of thinking how things may be, we see them as they are.”
    • Travel has deepened parts of me I wouldn’t have otherwise tapped into. There’s something about travel that unmasks and unravels our inner being. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that our life here on earth IS a journey and that we are travelling towards a destination, which I fondly call My True Home. Perhaps deep within we are all nomads and sojourners who have lost touch of what travel does to us because these days, we want nothing more than to stay put, be stable and lock in on the promise of security for ourselves and our families. But travel pulls away that veil and reminds us that THIS isn’t it. There are better things ahead. We don’t fully know or comprehend what is over there, but we hope. And I quote Martin Buber,  “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.
    9 Simple Tips On How To Live a Well-Travelled Life Without Leaving Home
    While I do want to encourage everyone to consider making space for travel in their life, I understand why some will never venture out to another country. If that is you, please don’t take this as a form of judgement, or another reason to feel guilty over something you should add to your list of things to be and do. I’m merely here to share my passion for a lifestyle that is worth pursuing.  And I want to underscore today that travel IS a lifestyle, not necessarily logging in some thousand miles on your passport. I believe that we can live mindfully, as sojourners and travellers, without having to leave home. And here are some ideas:
    1. Cook A Meal. Rudyard Kipling once said, “The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” And it is so true. The aroma of what’s cooking in the kitchen is very distinct to each culture and much can be learned and appreciated from the uniqueness of their food. The spices and kinds of vegetation each country grows tells the story of the people. I recommend borrowing cookbooks from your local library that also provides a rich history of food, and those written by people who have lived in the country first hand. Give your family the gift of savoring another culture right from your kitchen.
    2. Shop World-Class. This is not a popular thing to say these days but I think shopping local is overrated. There are definitely things I would buy local, but I also am an advocate of being a thoughtful global consumer, especially if they are made by local artisans who put a distinct stamp of their culture on the products they create. Here are some places I recommend buying from: Ten Thousand Village, etc.
    3. Learn another language. If you are a mom of a small child, why not learn another language with them? You don’t have to master it. But perhaps learn some conversational sentences along with your child. Or learn a popular song sung in a different language. Speaking of music…
    4. Listen to music from another culture. Again, your local library is your friend. I often borrow children CD’s from Africa and South America and listen to them with my little one. We also listen to Filipino music and hope to try many others as well. Although we don’t understand the song, the different rhythms and beats give us a different experience from what we are used to.
    5. Go to museums or event. Often, your local museum will showcase art from another culture. Take advantage of these. Take your kiddos and take advantage of the opportunity to see a little bit differently. Artists are often the prophetic voice of a culture. They often highlight what you don’t read on newspapers and such.
    6. Watch international movies. Many movies made in the U.S. today are increasingly more global but also try to find some movies originating from outside the U.S. They may be dubbed in English or they may have sub-titles, which I think makes for a better sensory experience.
    7. Read stories. Sure, we can read bout missionary biogrpahies. But how about strories told by the “normal” people? Most of us are not going to be “missionaries” in the technical sense of the term, but “normal” everyday people who live out our lives in simple ways It may help us walk in someone else’s different yet familiar shoes.
    8. Read the international section of the newspaper. If you don’t already, head over to The Economist or Reuters or the International Section of the New York Times. Or better yet, scout online for local news originating from the country you are interested in learning more about. 
    9. Open your home. I am very thankful that we live in a very ethnically diverse city. Our husband and I have hosted a student from Asia and plan on continuing opening our home in that way. We are actually in the process of figuring out whether we want to be foster parents to refugee children who are waiting to be resettle in Seattle.

    What do you think? Are you a travel-enthusiast or is travel something you’ve never even considered, ever? Do these ideas resonate with you? Do you have more to add to the list? Share your story and thoughts!

    Comments { 24 }

    Natural Summer BBQ: Our Favorite Tools

    Summer is upon us and so the delicious grilling begins! Over the next few weeks, my hubby and I will be sharing some of our favorite grilling recipes, tips and tricks in a series titled: Natural Summer Barbecuing. We will be sharing homemade BBQ sauce, steak marinade with steak cooking tips, how to BBQ a whole chicken, and scrumptious shish kabobs.

    Today we want to share reviews of our favorite BBQ tools. After much research, we choice to purchase the Weber Performer Charcoal Grill, and what a perfect BBQ is has been for us. The family and I chipped in to purchase this for Aaron’s birthday last year and he absolutely loves it. Having good quality solid tools make a huge difference in inspiring him to desire to perfect the art of barbecuing. A good investment I would say as I am the recipient of some delicious dishes! We love this BBQ because it provides the wonderful smoky flavor of carcoal without the hassle of preparation due to the propane lighting feature. With one quick flick of the switch, your coals are lighted and then you just need to let them heat up. It’s significantly easier and quicker than the standard charcoal grill. The accompanying table and briquettes storage bin are very useful for keeping everything in one place and for easy preparation. There is also room to hang your tools underneath. We also recommend the purchase of the weber cover, as it significantly protects during the winter weather. We also like this one because we have the potential to add some great additions – such as the rotisserie attachment. In general though, a charcoal grill is your best bet for authentic and delicious barbecuing in addition to being the cheapest option!

    Natural briquettes – Look for 100% natural hardwood charcoal when making your selection. They are 100% free of chemicals, additives, or fillers. Commercial charcoal is a carcinogen producer. Hardwood burns longer and hotter with less ash as well. Trader Joe’s carries an 18 lb bag of hardwood briquettes for $6.99 (only in the summer, so stock up!).  Another natural brand is Wicked Good Charcoal which has distributors all around the country, so check out their “Where to Buy” page. Amazon also sells a natural brand. Cowboy Charcoal can be found at Lowe’s nationwide.

    Stainless Steel BBQ tools -a solid set of stainless steel bbq tools will last you forever. They are also perfectly safe and natural. They are easy to clean and dishwasher safe. A good set of BBQ gloves is also another essential.

    Vegetable Grilling Basket – this is a helpful tool for barbecuing vegetables, corn and the like. The results are scrumptious!

    How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of BBQ Techniques by Steven Raichlen – you really only need one thorough guide for barbecuing and this book will definitely serve you well. It covers everything from preparing and barbecuing every cut of meat possible, but also a wealth of delicious recipes.

    Stay tuned for the recipes!

    Do you have any favorite tools to recommend?

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    Winners of God’s Word A to Z Giveaway!

    We would like to announce and congratulate the winners of the Scripture verse CD: God’s Word A to Z!

    Erin – Eralel…@
    Mary – [email protected]
    Elizabeth – elizabethschwe…@
    Angela – bkmoma…@
    Mrs. Pear – Mrs.Pear…@

    May God richly bless you as you fill your homes with His praises!

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    Raising Kids With A Heart for the World

    As a young teenager through my junior high and high school years, you could have seen me frequently reading a missionary biography. I was inthralled in the adventures of the lives of missionaries in China, Philippines, and Indonesia. One such account of a young 19 year old single woman in the Philippines inspired my heart with a passion to visit this country one day. In fact, most of my schooling was composed mainly of this delight directed studying. I learned geography, demographics, culture, and people groups. I attended several missions conferences, explored various parts of the world through mission trips, and in time coordinated many outreach events and mission trips to the nations.

    To this day, my heart rings with a love for the nations. I desire to make every effort that my children in turn would have a heart for the lost, hungry, and suffering people of the world and want to give their lives to serve them – whether through their physical or monetary service. There is nothing like visiting a third world country to get a life-changing awakening to the abundance we have in our lives, and a fresh call to simplicity in order that our lives might be given as a blessing to others.

    Today, I want to share a few simple ideas of ways that you can help inspire your children with a love for the nations, encouraging a respect for all the unique people groups and cultures of the world, throughout their childhood and teenage years. There are many seeds that can be planted in their hearts through which God can change nations. Travel with me to the nations! Continue Reading →

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