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Monday, December 31, 2012

The compost project continues

I've had some time this last week to work on our project.  This is a challenge for me.  I am scared of Carpenter's power tools.  But over the course of these past weeks of using the saws, I'm much more comfortable than I was.

One of my desires is to understand more about what Carpenter does, so we can have intelligent conversations about his work, instead of me just saying "uh-huh" all the time.  I want to understand him better and so understanding what he loves should help.  He loves working with wood.

So here are the pictures of the project continuing.  It seems funny to be working on this project when it's snowing outside, but we always have trash that can go in a compost pile whether it's snowing or not.

The walls of the bin - clamped for the glue, but I also screwed it together with 3" screws.

Some of the tools I used, and yes I was working on a bed in the basement, it was warmer.

Thankfully, this is a bin for garbage, because that is not a good sight.  The wood isn't flush, but I'll take it for my first project.

The door attached to one of the walls and now we have to move back to the garage or the bin will be staying in the basement. 

It's coming along and I hope next week, I'll have it done.  I do have kids to watch today, but I think I'll have time to run out to the garage and put a few screws in.

On this New Year's Eve, I just want to say that I've enjoyed sharing with those of you who are following.  I'm de-cluttering again.  Christmas just makes me feel like we have two much junk.  This past week, I took quite a few bags of trash out of the house and have a couple bags to give away.  Feels so good.  Also we reached 5,000 pageviews on this blog, and that is incredible to me. 

Have a great New Year.  The snow is keeping Carpenter in, and so I will leave you all to go sit with him and make plans for where our family will head this next year.  Love to you all.
Steph

Friday, December 28, 2012

Titus 2 - Christmas - A favorite Christmas dessert/jello salad

My grandma used to make this dessert a lot.  I think mostly at our Christmas dinners which ended up being at Thanksgiving.  The colors are Christmasy so it's a perfect addition to the table at Christmas time.

First take 3 colors of jello (orange, red and green) and make it with 1 cup of hot water, dissolve it and then add 1/2 cup of cold.  After it sets up, cut it into squares.
Next take 1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs and pour over 1/2 cup of melted butter.  Press it into pan.



Then take 1 pkg of lemon jello and dissolve it in 1 cup of hot water.  Add 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup pineapple juice.  Chill until thickened slightly.
Then take the lemon jello and mix in 2 cups of coolwhip.  Add the jello cubes and fold them in.  Pour over graham cracker crust.  Let set overnight.  Serves 12

Very yummy and could (and maybe should) be considered the dessert, but of course we must have pie.  We waited until 4 or so to eat our pie.  :)

Merry Christmas!
Steph

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas at our house



Stockings first thing after everyone gets up, and though we would allow them to wake others up, they just don't.  So I won't force the issue.

 Breakfast was part of their present.  We hardly ever buy cold cereal.  The kids loved it.

Now the Christmas story as everyone sat around adding to the story.  We took turns telling the next part of the story.  It was pretty fun to see what we knew, or forgot.

 More of the story

 Ahh and what they'd all been waiting for.  Presents.




 One of the presents was Monopoly Millionaire and the older ones played while the little ones painted their new magnets.
Christmas Dinner.

Merry Christmas from our house to yours, and we hope you have a Happy New Year!
Steph

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Candy Cane cookies

http://www.joyofbaking.com/CandyCaneCookie.html

We always made Candy Cane cookies when I was little.  I say always, but I'm not sure.  I think we did.  My memory of childhood seems to have completely disappeared at times. 

The link above is where I found a recipe for these yummy and fun cookies.  It does take a little bit to make them, but no more than rolling them out and cutting out cookies.  Also because I allow the kids to make them with me and don't worry about their shapes, it's easier.  They do turn out interesting, but with practice the kids will get better.  They will just go in our cookie jar instead of someone else's.

So today, we will be making these.  But I have to go get some powdered sugar, because I'm pretty sure we are out after making the treats we shared with Sunday School teachers etc. 
 Make balls of each color of dough and then twist them together and shape like a candycane. 
We made these last week and they are almost gone.  One nice thing about cookies is that they freeze easily and I have a few dozen tucked away in the freezer.  Our gingerbread cookies aren't decorated, but we'll do that when we are ready to take them out and eat them.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Day

Luke 2:1-21
1  Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.

2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
3 And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.

4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,
5 in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.
7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

8  In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.

10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;
11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 "This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."

15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us."

16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.
17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.
18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.

20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

21 And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
And Mary pondered, thought about, all the things that were happening and treasured them in her heart.  I am sure she would need to remember them in the later years when things got rough for their family.

God's Son was her child.  I wonder how that would be.  To raise a child who was perfect, and yet we know He frustrated her on at least one occasion.  To kiss a knee and care for Him, what a tremendous blessing.  Only one was allowed this honor - Mary.  And yet, with this honor came a lot of suffering.  She watched him die on a tree.  She watched as He was scorned and ridiculed. 

God sending His own Son in the form of a man!  Who would have thought that this would be His way to redeem us all?  I will be pondering on these things and treasuring them in my heart.

Steph
A little video that our family enjoyed called, "An Unexpected Christmas".  Very cute!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TM1XusYVqNY&feature=player_embedded

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

Luke 1:26-38
26 ¶ Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth,
27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

28 And coming in, he said to her, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you."

29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.

30 The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.
31 "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.
32 "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David;
33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end."

34 Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?"

35 The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.
36 "And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.
37 "For nothing will be impossible with God."

38 And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

And she says, "Let it be done just as you have said."  May those be the words of my mouth, instead of what I hear pouring forth on a regular basis.  I pray that I will be quicker to speak such words.

Matthew 1:18-25
18 ¶ Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.

19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.

20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
21 "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."

22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
23 "BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US."

24 And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife,
25 but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.
And Joseph was a good man.  He didn't want the scorn of this shame.  But when the angel came, he took Mary as his wife and the shame that would come with it, and walked with her through it. 

I pray that you all understand the true meaning of Christmas and the joy that comes with it.  Jesus (God's Son) was born so that we could have eternal life.

Steph

Friday, December 21, 2012

Titus 2 Tea - Christmas - homemade gifts

This year I decided to make things for Christmas, not craft things, but food.  Pinterest is such a huge help with this.  In the past couple of months, I repinned those things that I thought looked good.

I found three things that I thought would be great, chocolate covered cherries, cookies and cream popcorn and white chocolate peppermint fudge.  It's nice to have recipes at my fingertips.

Chocolate Covered Cherries
http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Chocolate-Covered-Cherries?keycode=ZPIN1112
I was dying to make this one, but I must have done something wrong.  They don't look anything like the picture and therefore didn't make it into anyone's gift.  They're all sitting in my fridge. :(  They are super yummy though.

White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge
http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/White-Chocolate-Peppermint-Fudge?keycode=ZPIN1112
This was pretty and yummy, but didn't top everyone's LOVE-list in my house.  Some just don't like the peppermint flavor too much.  It ended up in the gifts, but isn't the top choice of these three favorites.  We still enjoy it; I even had one in my coffee, which made a nice Christmasy coffee drink.

Cookies and Cream Popcorn
http://www.chef-in-training.com/2012/08/cookies-and-cream-popcorn/
Now this was super easy and topped our list here at home.  So far from the comments I recieved, this one seemed to top other's lists as well.  It's yummy and the kids love it. 

I found some bags with twist ties that looked pretty and Christmasy.  Everything went in those.  For Sunday School teachers, I found little cardboard houses that looked festive.  All the goodies fit inside them.  Others just got it stacked along with their present. 

I hope you found a fun way to bless someone important in your life.

Making the most of today.
Steph

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The beauty from within


Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai who had taken her as his daughter, came to go in to the king, she did not request anything except what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the women, advised. And Esther found favor in the eyes of all who saw her.                                                             Esther 2:15
Esther chose to take nothing but what the king's servant advised. Others were grabbing for pretty jewelry and the finest cloth.  And she found favor.

It seems she relied on the beauty inside, or else she was so completely convinced that God was in control that she didn't have to do more than the servant recommended.

Today the kids are home from school and I have a couple of extras.  They are antsy to go outside and have been outside.  I may let them out later, but it's stressful to have some many with nothing to do.  TV - I'm not doing that except as a last resort.   It brings out the worst in me. 

I would rather they weren't bouncing off the walls, but they are.  It snowed last night.  The first snow of the year.  They want to be out in it and all I can think of is the mess that will be waiting.  But it already is.  The back porch is strewn with hats and gloves soaking in the mud that was brought in by the boots.  I guess I might as well cave and let them go out, but maybe we'll wait till it's a bit warmer. 

In the meantime, I need to figure out a way to make the beauty from within shine.  But what beauty?  When I think of that, I want to laugh.  It seems when I look at my heart, I see nothing but junk.  So how do I let the hidden beauty shine, the beauty that I can't even see? 

Jeremiah 17:9  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
  Somedays, when I think I'm doing great.  I see lots of beauty.  It tends to make me proud.  And other days when nothing is going my way, I see no beauty.  It tends to make me discouraged and in a sense it's pride too.  Things going my way or not cannot determine whether the beauty will shine or not. 
Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;

 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.        1Peter 2:3-4
I know that the beauty is there.  So how do I let it shine?
Galatians 5:25  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
So when the beauty isn't shining, I'm not walking in the Spirit.  But still how do I do this?  How do I walk in the Spirit when my whole being just feels lazy and wants to give up and just let it go and be grumpy or nasty with the kids?

Ephesians 6:11-18  11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.  13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.  14 Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS,  15 and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE;  16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,
We are in a battle.  A battle for our children and for us.   As we choose to walk in the Spirit and put on our armor, we do battle with the enemy and give our children and ourselves the blessing of living as the Lord would have.

So today, I decided not to be grumpy about the back porch, but instead I told the kids, "If you want to have the privilege of playing outside, you need to be responsible with your coat, hat, gloves and boots.  You need to take care of them.  Otherwise, you'll be playing inside."

Then we proceeded to clean the upstairs as we would do on a Saturday and worked our way downstairs.  Now that the upstairs is clean, I set the three little boys up with Legos and the girls are doing their own thing - one is reading and one decided to bless me with a clean back porch.  :)

I still am trying to do a bit of school with the older boys, so I did that after putting the Little Miss down for a nap.  It's still difficult and I still want to get upset with their antics, but it's better.  I'm afraid the battle will continue throughout the day. 

But you know what?  The more I fight the battle, the easier it gets.  But when I succumb to it, it gets easier to be angry. 

So, be strong in the Lord and in the power of HIS might (not your own).

Making the most of today
Steph





Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Taking on too much

Have you ever been super overwhelmed?  Anyone reading this, most likely has at some point in their life.  That maxed out feeling when you feel like you are drowning, like you can't do it all and there's no way out.  No one really understands because they aren't you, at least that's what you tell yourself.  It's too much!  Why does God expect me to do all this?  Lies fill our minds. 

A few weeks ago when we were out hauling trees for Carpenter ( I wrote about it last Friday), I looked up from my work and saw one of my littler boys, Tank, trying to haul a cedar tree that was bigger than me.  He was struggling and tears were streaming down his face.  I didn't ask him but I'm pretty sure that he was thinking some of the same things I do when I'm in the middle of an overwhelming task.

Why do I have to do this all by myself?  Why isn't anyone helping?  I always get the biggest tasks.  If everyone would help me, then I wouldn't have to struggle with this alone.

What Tank didn't realize is we WERE all working together.  We were all doing the same task.  I didn't ask him to haul that tree alone.  I wouldn't have ever thought he should do that.  It was a task for someone bigger and stronger.  It was his agenda not mine.  He never asked for help either.

When we are overwhelmed, I believe that it's because we have taken too much on, or because we didn't plan well, which includes the first one.  There are other reasons, like not falling fully on Him and not taking time to read His word and get His perspective.

First let's start with Tank's first thought - that he was alone.  Now, we were all working on the same thing, in the same area.  He could see us and we could see him.  He wasn't alone, but in the middle of his back-breaking (literally) labor, he couldn't "see" us. 

Sort of like Elijah, the prophet, hiding in a cave, saying to the Lord, "I'm the only one left.  Everyone else is worshipping Baal, but not me."  So God said to him, "Get up and go stand on the mountain."  And that's when we see God, not in the earthquake or the fire, but in the gentle blowing.  And then God says, "There are 7,000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal."   

God's sort of saying, "Get up and stop whining and get a reality check."  Elijah wasn't living in reality.  He was telling himself lies, and God gave him the facts.  He did it a lot nicer than I do as a mom though.

Next, we tend to think that God gives us too big of tasks.  "Why did God give this job to me? It's too huge!"  If he were telling himself the truth, Tank would've realized that I never asked him to get THAT tree.  There were a lot of others, but he tried to take on too much.   There were plenty of trees that came as high as his waist, or were as tall as him that he could have easily dragged to the gulley.  He was telling himself more lies.

Think of Mary and Martha, Mary is wandering around grumbling because no one was helping her (Ahem, Mary!!!!!).  I think (it's not in Scripture) that Mary had decided that things needed to be perfect and lavish for Jesus.  Jesus didn't ask her to do that, but she thought it would be wonderful.  Then after she'd gotten herself in deep, she realized this job "He'd" given her was way too much to do alone.

Last, Tank was wondering why no one was helping.  He never said to anyone, "Hey, let's go tackle that huge tree over there and haul it down here.  Is anyone willing to help?  It's too big for me alone, but I think if we work together we could manage it."  No, he went and started hauling it on his own and had tears streaming down his cheeks, with his mouth firmly shut.  He wasn't going to ask for help even when he knew he was in too deep.

We do this too all the time.  How many times am I in the kitchen, grumbling "When are they all going to come help?  I never asked them for help, or asked if they would like to be a part of making a big meal.  Nope, just started it and got in too deep.  Jesus talks of a man counting the cost before taking on a project.  This is where planning is key. 

As much as possible assess the task you are considering taking on, and decide if you need help or not.  Recruit help. Not everyone feels obligated to do the same things that we want to do or feel called to do.  That is fine.  They have their own responsibilities and we need not condemn them because they aren't called to do our job. 

And what about when things get heavy, loads you didn't know that you would be expected to bear.  Mom's cancer, a sick child, a fire, financial burden that you didn't place on yourself.  Then we can rely on the fact that He doesn't place to much on our shoulders.  We need to fall heavily on Him and trust that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  Spend time thinking of His words to us, and reading His word, calling out to Him.  He will lift you up and maybe not remove the burden, but walk with you (or carry you) through it.


That's just my two cents. :)

Making the most of today,
Steph


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Jello salad and secret sisters

Tonight we're having our Secret Sister Salad Supper.  We meet every December to reveal prayer sisters and draw names again.   I'm terrible at it.  I can never remember to send a card at a birthday or anniversary.  But I do pray regularly for my sister. 

It's such a blessing to have sisters in Christ who stand in the gap for one another and who hold each other accountable.  Sisters who love each other so much that they challenge each other to "step it up" and to follow Christ more closely.  I am privileged to walk with these sisters and be a part of their lives. 

Pr 27:17   Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.

I love this verse.  It shows how we are to be behaving toward one another.  We are to be encouraging each other to love and good works.

My recipe for Jello Salad for today is:
Mix together well:
3 oz orange jello
8 oz cool whip
4 oz sour cream
Then add:
16 oz pineapple, drained
8 oz mandarin oranges, drained
Chill before serving.

Bless someone today, by encouraging them in their walk with the Lord.

Steph

Monday, December 17, 2012

Compost project - part 1


My new project has been a compost place.  I've wanted one for a long time, and I've been waiting for Carpenter to have time. 

Recently I decided to tackle some of these projects.  I might as well try. This is my first one.  It's taking a long time because I only get a half hour or so a couple times a week. So this is just part one.

First I took some boards that had cement on them.  Carpenter thought I should use them since it's for composting.  But I had to scrape off the cement where the saw would be touching or it would ruin the blade.

Then I ripped the boards to proper width.  My first time ever using some of Carpenter's tools.  This one is a little scary.

I love how Eastern Red Cedar looks when it's just been cut.  Some of it is almost purple.  I'd love to varnish it right away and hold that color.

And then I had to cut 80 of these little guys.  It didn't take long really and I thought it was fun.
So far I have the door frames together and I just have a couple more pieces to cut, but have yet to find a board I need for that.  Some of the cement boards were too full of cement for me to want to tackle the job of scraping it off.  I found some of Carpenter's scraps, but I need to go to the kiln to find something that might work, or the wood shed.

I may or may not have something new on  this project next Monday.  I haven't decided if I'll just do something Christmasy for Christmas Eve and Day or not.  But the next set of pics will be coming.

We've been busy setting up lights and doing all the things that are on the popsicle sticks and celebrating birthdays.  The last one of the year is Wednesday and I told Waterman that we've ordered snow.  We have a 60-70% chance of it.  

I hope that you are enjoying the holidays.
Steph

Friday, December 14, 2012

Titus 2 Tea - Christmas - wassail

written last Saturday

I sit here with Christmas music playing in the background, wassail simmering on the stove, and wait for my turn in the shower.  I long to rest, but I don't want to until I have taken my turn at rinsing away the sap and smell of cedar. 

Cedar is a beautiful smell, most anyone will tell you.  But to our family, cedar is equal to money.  Almost everything Carpenter does involves cedar somehow.  When he built a garage for his dad, it's frame was made from cedar.  When he needed a shed to house his wood, cedar was what he used for building, even the board siding.  For his parents 40th anniversary, he made them a beautiful chest of cedar trimmed with walnut.  And currently, his job is clearing cedar trees and some other kinds of trees out of pasture land.

Today, I took the kids to help him haul the cedar trees into piles.  Muscles burning, heart pounding, I climbed the hills numerous time for another armful of cedar trees, hauling as many trees as possible with each trip.  The arc became ever smaller with each pass I made.  I looked over - the kids were talking and walking, not working super quickly and yet there was comradarie that I have been praying for.  

While they were not working the areas I had dictated, I realized that I had been misunderstood.  Even so, they were working, and that's what we were there for.  I savored the quiet.  They were far away and I couldn't even hear their chatter.  Only the constant sound of the chainsaw in a nearby gulley, and the wind whistling in my ears, my ever-present companion.  But to me, it was quiet. 

Sometimes, as a mom, I simply enjoy the peace of no voices,  it gives me such a great time and opportunity to think.  I had a list of things I was thankful for:  strength to help my man, my children getting along - somewhat, being with my man even though we weren't even talking I was working with him and I love that, my littlest ones were playing in the car with their coloring books and crayons. 

We took lunch out to Carpenter and three of my boys.  It was Sharpie and Jones' turn and Tank had asked to go along.  Then we started helping haul the trees into piles.  Some were no bigger than my hand and others were as big as I was.  We only hauled what we could pull, drag or carry to the pile. 

We had races.  Everyone started at a certain point and run headlong over the hill to the gulley to put their tree/trees in the pile.   Then we had Cedar Olympics.  I gave a number of points (1,3,5 or 10) based on the size of the tree and when someone got to 50 points then we had a five minute break.  And last we had a race to run around picking up all those trees that were worth one point that no one had wanted to carry because they weren't worth enough points.

One of our favorite things to do this time of year, especially when we've been out working in the cold/chilly air is make wassail.  It's so yummy, full of vitamin C, and it's warm.  Delish!!!!

So I came home and made some while the four finished up out there. Our recipe is 6 cups of brewed tea, 6 cups of cider, 3 cups of orange juice, 1 1/2 cups of lemonade,   pour all into a stock pot.  Then take sticks of cinnamon (6-9 sticks broken) and 3/4 t of whole cloves and tie in a cloth.  Bring to a boil and simmer.  I believe that "real" wassail has rum, but we have not ever tried that.  I'm hoping that I won't get a sore throat that I felt starting out there. 


Making the most of today,
Steph

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bible Study - giving honor

Did you know that Esther speaks of wives giving honor to their husbands?  Did you know that that is the very reason she became queen? 

Esther 1:20 "When the king’s edict which he will make is heard throughout all his kingdom, great as it is, then all women will give honor to their husbands, great and small."

How do we give honor to our husband?  One way is by serving him.  Lately, the prayer of my heart has been to see the house through Carpenter's eyes.  It takes quite a bit of effort for me to know what he desires, though he has given me a lot of clues over the years.  He knows I have a lot on my plate, so only occasionally will he mention something that I have been missing.

If you've been reading my blog, you know that I have been trying to step it up in one way in my house.  Once I feel that I have that "under control", then I move on to the next area.  The area I have inadvertently been caring for this past week is the basement. 

In my opinion, the basement is the last area to clean in my house.  I mean, no one sees it, except the people who shower down there (my husband and older boys) and the ones who do laundry (me) and the ones who stoke the fire (my husband, the older boys and me).  Otherwise, no one else goes down there.  By far, more important on my list is the front (actually back) entrance - people come through there all the time.

But when I go down to do the laundry in the morning, I have been taking five minutes or so to clean the bathroom and sweep.  Not a huge deal, doesn't take very long, but apparently it's super important to Carpenter.  How do I know?  Because almost every day this week, he has come up from his shower before work and said, "Thanks for all that you do around here." 

That's it.  That's all.  I actually questioned him about what he meant that first day, just to see what caused that comment.  "The basement looks really nice."  That was all.  Don't get me wrong, he does thank me all the time for things that I do.  But I could tell that this was beyond - thanks for caring for our house.  Something new.

And it took FIVE minutes (or maybe a bit more).  Here I thought that upkeep on the basement would take FOREVER, and I would be cleaning all day every day in order to maintain it.  Today, I do need to work on the entrance area.  But that should take.... drumroll please.....FIVE minutes (or maybe a bit more). 

Lies tell me that my job is impossible.  Lies say "You could clean the basement but it would take you forever and you would never be done."  Realistically, the basement is not spotless.  We keep firewood in a room down there.  Every time you take wood to put in the fire, you have wood chips fall to the floor.  So it's dirty.  The cobwebs probably will NEVER be all gone. 

I let lies keep me from doing what I should all the time.  "The cobwebs will be back, so what's the point?"  Really????!!!!!!  The dishes will be back too, in less time than the cobwebs, but I still work on those at every meal. 

I need to be able to recognize these lies and do battle against believing them.  I need to take up the belt of truth and the sword of the Spirit.  One way to do battle is to get some facts.  Time yourself cleaning the bathroom. Just make sure it doesn't have to be perfect.  Mine never will be, but it will be clean. 

Or maybe the bathroom isn't the area you're struggling with.  Time yourself on that area.  Only do 15 minutes with it.  See how much you accomplish in that short of a time. When you do this, you'll have some facts and maybe that job won't seem as daunting. 

As I said before I've been praying for ways to hear my husband's heart and desire for our home.  I rebelled against what I knew to be his desire for many years.  "It's too much work."  God has brought me to the place where I now desire neatness like my husband does.    It has taken growth, lots of growth.  FLYLady has helped me a lot.  That's where I got the idea to work on just one thing. 

My tendency is to take on the whole house, and then exhaust myself in the process.  Her idea (FLYLady's) is to take on one area for a month.  Then add something new.  This takes longer, but it becomes habit instead of haphazard.

I'm pretty sure this has been one of my topic's before, but I hope that it helps someone to stop listening to the lies that it'll take too long.  Test it and see, maybe it WILL take too long and it's something you need to set aside or hire someone else to do - maybe it won't and you will bless your family.

Making the most of today,
Steph


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Homeschooling is more...

Homeschoolin' is more...
than readin', writin', and 'rithmetic. Or at least that's what I believe.   So when I'm teaching them to clean a bathroom, or helping them to do their laundry, I believe it's all school to them.  They don't take tests, except I guess you may call it a test when I let them try their laundry for the first time alone. 

Come to think of it, I should have a curriculum for their "schooling".  Tractorman would start at the beginning with learning to tie his shoes, and other things that preschoolers learn.   Jules can learn to make her bed neatly, and so on.  But generally our housekeeping schooling is low key.  Sometimes I have a schedule of who works where and sometimes we all just work together. 

Making bread, my second son does well at that, is something else that would be good to learn.  Don't get me wrong, I don't expect that they'll be making bread long into their married/bachelor lives, but cooking from a recipe offers lots of valuable lessons - math enters here, but patience, and focus (don't get side-tracked or you may forget where you were) as well.  It's hard to focus in our house.  There is always something fun going on that's more interesting than making bread or school.

Learning to care for animals is another thing on our list and we have to get better at that.  Some days we forget (now that it's cold) that the water freezes and the chickens won't have water if we don't get out there.  Thankfully, it thawed out yesterday or we would be sunk.  Sharpie does well with this ever since he got ducks for his thirteenth birthday.

Also I have been spending some time in the shop working with wood.  I can only run out there during nap time for 10 minutes or so while the babies sleep, but I'm working on a project out there.  In this case, mother is the one learning from the kids.  Jones is good with Dad's tools.  Yesterday I struggled for awhile trying to drill a hole in some cedar (which is actually in the juniper family). 

When Carpenter called to tell me he was on his way home, I told him about the bit smoking and how it couldn't drill a hole at all.  We hadn't had this trouble drilling holes to hang the curtains in the little kids' rooms.  I told him I need some help before I can continue this project and if he could help me tonight that would be great.

When he got home, he whispered in my ear, "That was a masonry bit you were trying to use."  Not knowing anything at all, I said, "Well, that's silly, if it can go through cement, it sure should be able to go through wood."  "Honey, masonry bits are dull, and don't drill, they just go in and out to pound out the cement."  O.k. so even Mom learned something that Jones didn't know yet either. 

Remember that if you aren't homeschooling your children, you still get to teach them all about the areas the schools don't teach.  I must remember that instead of maybe an hour in the afternoon to teach my kids, I get the whole day for some of them.

Making the most of today,
Steph

I must add a note that we use a homeschooling curriculum and we usually finish a lesson a day.  So we do the school stuff too.  Just in case anyone was wondering if we do a non-school type thing. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Yeast bread - quick style

We make our bread here.  It costs me $.33 a loaf.  Very worth it for us when we use two full loaves for sandwiches.  But most times, I don't have bread when we need it and then there is no time for three hours of rising, or even two. 

I found a recipe on a blog I enjoy reading www.toliverstotexas.com .  She has quick bread recipe that works super well, when at 11:00 in the morning I realize that we don't have enough to eat for lunch.

I use this bread for a lot of different things.  She makes rolls with it, but I also use it for cinnamon rolls and even loaves of bread.

Start with 2 1/4 cups of warm water and 4 tablespoons of yeast.  (Did you know that you can by those big vacuum sealed packages for a few cents more than the jars of yeast? At least that's true here.  Keep it in the freezer and it will last a long time.)  It's important that the water is not too hot or cold.  If you put your finger in it it should be warm, not hot or cool.  Stir the yeast into the water so that it starts dissolving.

Wait five minutes and it should look like this:

Not much different, but see the frothiness (the bubbles) that tells you that the yeast is working and your water was just right. Then add 2/3 cup oil, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 eggs (beaten) and 1 tsp salt.  Mix together well. 

Add 7 cups of flour.  Knead for 3 to 4 minutes.  Then divide into 24 (for rolls) or 12 (for hamburger buns/sandwiches)  and roll into balls. 


Place on a greased cookie sheet and pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.  Let the rolls raise for 10 minutes, then bake for 15 minutes.  And you have bread for lunch and warm and yummy so that it only needs butter and it's amazing!

If you want to make cinnamon rolls, divide it into two balls.  Roll them into 9x13 rectangles.  Spread a thick layer of margarine on the dough.  Sprinkle about 1 cup (or more) of brown sugar.  Sprinkle cinnamon over it generously.  A bit of nutmeg makes it taste good too.

There you have it, a quick recipe for raised yeast rolls.  By the way, I had one of my boys help roll them out.  But when I'm in a hurry they look like this too.   I need to work on presentation.

Making the most of today,
Steph

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cleaning your washing machine

My washing machine had started having this awful smell and I began to wonder how on earth it could clean clothes while it was dirty.  So I searched Pinterest, and found a method for cleaning a top-load washing machine.  It was pretty easy, but time consuming. 

Fill washer with hot water and put one cup of bleach in.   Let sit for one hour.  Then let the washer go through a cycle.

Fill washer again with hot water and put one cup of vinegar in.  While the washer is filling, take a washcloth and dip it in the water and scrub all around the outside and the inside.  I was amazed at the amount of junk under the rim of the washer drum, also up above the drum.  I used a small scrub brush.  Let sit for an hour and then let the washer go through a cycle.

My machine was grimy before and sparkling after.  I think I'm going to need to try to do this about every three to six months.  You probably could do it less if you don't have nine people to do laundry for.

Making the most of today,
Steph

Friday, December 7, 2012

Titus 2 Tea - Christmas houses

We're on break for a month from getting together with my Titus 2 Tea group, but I thought I'd spend Fridays sharing Christmas stuff this month.

I read something in Club31Women (www.club31women.com) that was helpful to me and we decided, or rather I decided, to try it. 

Proverbs 14:1 The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish tears it down with her own hands.


Does your home get filled with put-downs and snippy comments toward siblings?  We aren't allowed to yell at each other in our house, but there are always ways to get the point across that "I'm better than you."

It seemed that this was coming to a head and I kept trying to talk to them about it being rude and inappropriate to speak this way to their siblings.  Sometimes mimicking their tone to see if they could hear what I heard, sometimes talking in frustration and discouraging them, which was the very thing that I was asking them to stop doing.  But nothing seemed to be working. 

God during this time led me to numerous posts and comments on parenting and specifically about this.

Praying is a big thing (the biggest).  When we fall to our knees and admit to our loving Father that we can't figure out how to help our children love each other because our own hearts are decietful as well, He comes through.   When our hands are fixing it, He can't help. 

Like the little child who insists on tying his own shoe while the parents stand by ready to do it. "I do it.  I do it."  And he ends up with a bunch of knots.  Finally with tears streaming down his cheeks, he looks up at his parent and says, "Okay, you do it, pwease."  What he doesn't realize is that he's left his parent with a much bigger task than the beginning would have required.
And so have I.  Now that I was ready to start praying about it, the mess was bigger.  But He came through.  I ran across this post from club31women.  http://club31women.com/2012/11/building-a-sweet-home/  As soon as I read it, I decided that we would try it for Christmas - and maybe make it a tradition. 

I envisioned us yearly practicing the art of building up and not tearing down.  So this week we made our house - I meant to buy a gingerbread house, but all they had was an all-choclate house with gumdrops and peppermints for the decorations.  Sounds even better to everyone in the house, except for Sharpie (Son #1)and Bugaboo (Girl #1) who don't like a lot of chocolate.  But even they are loving it. 


One very neat thing is that these molds can be re-used next year and I think it would cost a lot less than the $10 I paid for the house.

As we built the house, we talked about the wise woman (child) who builds her house with her words.  When we say unkind things that's tearing our house down.  If we wouldn't say those words to a friend, then we shouldn't say them to a sibling either.  If we wouldn't pull something out of a friend's hands and hide it so they can't find it, then we shouldn't do that to our sibling.  

When we have guests, little Tractorman (Son#5) is the first to run over and explain why we have the candy house and how we're trying to be kind to each other.  I'm pretty sure they don't get what he's saying, but I love hearing him because I know he's understanding.   

Now as they go throughout the day, when I hear unkind words toward another, I simply take a piece of candy off the house and give it to the one who was wronged.  If I was wronged then I get to eat it.    I haven't figured out a good way to build it back up again, so I still have yet to work on that.  I'm so thankful that God had me run across that post.  I needed it and my kids needed it.  

The thing I must remember is when I say something that tears down, I should remove a piece of candy from the house as well and give it to the one harmed.   I desire my children to love being together and to enjoy one another.  I've seen that happening more lately, and I want to attribute it to the lesson of the candy house, but I think it's more because of prayer and the work God is doing in their lives.   

Making the most of today.

Steph

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bible Study - encourage others

In order to be an encouragement to others, we need to be filled ourselves.  We need to spend time away with the Lord to be refreshed.  Do you have a special time to just spend with Him to learn what He has for you today?

Study His Word.  He speaks to us through His Word.  He shows us His plan for us.

Memorize.  Hide His Word in your heart.  This will benefit you throughout the day and allow for His Word to continue speaking to you.

Now, you're ready.  Who can you serve?  Who does God want you to minister to today?  An obvious answer would be the little people running around under your feet.  They are our first priority.  But can you think of others who would enjoy a phone call or a card or a hand-written note?  These things don't have to take long - just five minutes will be enough to let someone to know you care.

We are called to serve, to be merciful and to give.  This is how we let our light shine. 

Making the most of today.
Steph

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Crockpot enchiladas

I love enchiladas.  But now that we make our own shells, I just can't get super excited about making them as they are even more work than tacos.

But..... I found crockpot enchiladas on Pinterest.  I have my own version as I never follow a recipe.  That can be good and can be bad.  But when you grow up in a jungle far from a grocery store, you either make a recipe with the substitutions you have on hand or you go without. 

So since it's Mexican night and we even have leftover tortilla shells from the last time we made them (they freeze well), I'm whipping up some crockpot enchiladas.

First, take your meat.  Is there a rule that enchiladas must only use chicken?  Anyway, I didn't.  I used hamburger.  Put it in your crockpot (this is a trial) on high.  I'm going to find out how this works.  I added taco seasoning  (the recipe calls for about 3 tsp) and 1 cup water.  Leave it this way till noon.  The original recipe used chicken breast and shredded it at noon.  


Homemade taco seasoning is 1 part chili powder, 1 part cumin, 1 part garlic powder, and 1 part onion powder and 1/4 to 1/2 part crushed red pepper. Use 2 T per 2 lbs of meat. It was worth it to me to get the spices that I don't have because I use them in my other homemade seasonings as well.

Meanwhile, I also made my sour cream.  I'll have to let you know how it works.  I don't think I would use homemade sourcream on top of my taco, but in a casserole it works fine.

And last, I made my enchilada sauce.

 In a skillet, pour 2 T oil, 1 tsp garlic, and 1 onion chopped.  Saute the onions and garlic.  Then add 2 T chili powder ( I always use a bit less), and 1 tsp cumin and 1 tsp salt.  After that's all mixed well.  Sprinkle 2 T flour over and mix well.  If my skillet looks like it has more than 2 T of flour I was doing a double recipe and I don't measure things well.

 Then add 14 oz of chicken broth.  Did you know that when you cook chicken you can save the broth in canning jars with a lid and ring and just put it in the freezer?  It works wonderfully, except you have to be careful that it doesn't break.  My quart jar almost had the 28 oz I needed for today.  Mix it in and let it cook for awhile.  Because of the flour it will start thickening up.

Then add 8 oz of tomato sauce. Let it simmer for awhile.  It will keep thickening up for awhile.
Around noon, check your hamburger.  It's not even noon and mine looks just about done.  I mixed my sour cream (1 cup) and soups (1 can cream of mushroom) together.  Then drain the hamburger.  Layer the crockpot with the soup/sour cream, torn up tortilla shells, enchilada sauce, hamburger, and then cheese (2 cups divided by 3).  Do this two more times.

Leave on low until dinnertime.  Mine went too long and I had to turn it down.  I think four hours on low would be about right, but we don't always know when Carpenter is going to be getting home. 

It was so yummy, even though it was a bit overcooked. 

Making the most of today,
Steph