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Friday, March 29, 2013

Titus 2 Tea - "It is finished."

ISAIAH 53      
1 Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?   

2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground;  he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.   

3  He was despised and rejected by men;  a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.   

4  Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.   

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.   

6  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him  the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,  and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.   

8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;  and as for his generation,  who considered  that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?   

9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although  he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.   

10 Yet  it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;  the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 

11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

12  Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Crossway Bibles (2011-02-09). The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (with Cross-References) (Kindle Locations 107810-107830). Good News Publishers/Crossway Books. Kindle Edition.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thursday's Thoughts

I'm overwhelmed. A song I heard on the radio.  Lyrics are in the link below.

I've been memorizing Romans 8 and Isaiah 53.  What can I say but I am in awe of what the Savior has done for me?  "For the transgressions of My people, He was stricken."  Wow!  Never before was He in such a position.  He'd always had perfect unity and comminication with the Father.

And now, He chooses to obey the Father's will and redeem us.  It wasn't a simple thing.  Not at all.  He took on flesh - became a man - allowed Himself to be confined to those things that confine us, probably knowing that one day He would face the hardest thing of all.  His own Father turning away because the Father could not look upon the sin that was born by His Son. 

Amazing!  As I read and see how silent He is through all of the beatings and the spittings, the mockery and all that men (the people He Himself had created) were doing to Him.  It seems that the hardest thing, the thing He almost couldn't bear, was knowing that God had turned His face away. 

Then He cries out, "My God, My God why have you forsaken Me?" 

Redemption for us is such a simple thing.  Simply believe that He did the work to redeem us.  For Him though, it was the hardest thing.  He didn't do it because we are worth it, as some people say.  We never read that in the Bible.  In fact it's the opposite, "while we were His enemies" "The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked."  Why do we feel we are justified in not being kind or loving our enemies and yet it's so right for God to be beyond kind to us when we were enemies of His?

So why would He do this hardest thing of all - because of "His great love which He lavished on us".  His love is the reason.  He wanted us to be able to be called "children of God".  Over and over again we see that it's because of His love for us. 

I think that we try our hardest to be the best moms, friends, wives etc.  What I see as I think of the cross is that we can't be?  Not at all.  Only by being in Christ and let Him "take the wheel" can we show love.  Otherwise it's just our flesh trying to look good.  And I'm sorry, but it never can look good.  It's self-seeking. 

One day the people were singing Hosanna and a week later they were yelling, "Crucify Him!"  Or maybe it wasn't even a week.  We, as people, are such fickle creatures.  We get caught up in the moment.  I desire a life change, even now.  I know that there are still things in my life that don't please this One who left heaven to come down to earth to be my Savior.  I want a heart change, to eradicate the things that are not like Him.

Romans 1:29  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined  to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

Crossway Bibles (2011-02-09). The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (with Cross-References) (Kindle Locations 180438-180442). Good News Publishers/Crossway Books. Kindle Edition.   Making the most of today, Steph

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wednesday's Household - Another week of meals

Week 3 - $57.10 + $14.10 = $71.20

Sunday - $ 5.70

Lunch – Pork Roast - $5.70

2 lb. Pork - $4.00

4 lb. Potatoes - $.80

1 pkg. Veggies - $.90

Supper – Leftovers = $0

Monday = $7.20

Lunch – Sandwiches - $1.50

2 loaves of bread - $.50

½ pkg of Singles - $.1.00

Supper – Lemon Garlic Roast Chicken – $5.70

1 Fryer Chicken - $4.00

4 lb. Potatoes - $.80

Veggies - $.90

Tuesday = $21.60

Lunch – Pizza Rice Casserole – $16.80

3 lbs. Hamburger - $6.00

8 cups Rice - $1.80

1 cont. Cottage Cheese - $2.00

2 8oz. blocks Cheddar - $4.00

6 cans Tomato Sauce/ Crushed Tomatoes = $3.00

Dessert = $3.00

Supper – Chicken Stirfry - $1.80

Leftover chicken - $0

4 cups of Rice - $.90

1 pkg Veggies - $.90

Wednesday - $ 2.90

Lunch – Sandwiches - $1.50

2 loaves of bread - $.50

½ pkg of Singles - $1.00

Supper – Chicken Pot pie - $1.40

Leftover Chicken - $0

1 pkg – Veggies - $.90

Bread - $.50

Thursday - $5.85

Lunch – Sandwiches with Ramen $.75

4 Ramen - $.25

Bread - $.25

Supper – Stir-Fried Pork Soup - $5.10

Leftover Pork - $2.00

1 can mushrooms - $.50

Celery - $.80

Carrots - $.80

Spinach - $1.00

Friday - $12.30

Lunch – Mac-N-Cheese - $1.20

1 pkg Mac-N-Cheese - $.50

2 pkgs Easy Mac - $.70

Supper – Beef Rice Meal – $11.10

2 lbs. Beef - $4.00
8 cups Rice - $1.80

2 pkg. Veggies - $1.80

1 Bread - $.50

1 Dessert - $3.00

Saturday - $ 6.30

Lunch – Hotdogs - $2.50

Hotdogs - $2.00

Bread - $.50

Supper – Pork Rice Gravy - $3.80

1 lb. Pork - $2.00

4 cups Rice - $.90

1 pkg Veggies - $.90

There is another week.  I just had to laugh at the thought that 2 packages of hotdogs would be enough.  I used five this weekend and had about one package worth leftover. 

Hope this helps to see another menu.  They aren't in play at our house now.  We had to make some changes.  We now just have leftovers for the lunch meal, except weekends - sometimes we need an extra meal over the weekend.

Making the most of today,

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cooking Tuesday - Pandesal (bread)

Memories of early mornings and cries of "Pandesal, Pandesal!" have driven me to try to re-create the mouth-watering goodness they sold on the streets in the little villages where I spent my early years. 

So many memories of "Chippy, chippy gum is a bubble gum.  Bumili kayo sa tindahan.  Masarap ito at mari-nam-nam.  Chippy chippy gum is a bubble gum."  My sister and her kids still sing that song. 

Memories of climbing on the fence to look out the gate - a dog bite - an even bigger house where we lived with another family and got in trouble for eating the choclate only to find that it was actually the rats that dragged it behind the desk and had helped themselves.  I remember the look in my mom and Aunt Wendy's eyes as they told of the stories of the rats that had actually been mistaken for cats.  How on earth do you manage tiny babies in a setting like that????  I would have been terrified.

And then the sweet memories of going to market and seeing green mangoes with salt - oh, so yummy!  But one thing that I have hoped to be able to make again is the taste of Pandesal in the morning.  You can never re-make that same taste.  I don't think there is a way.  I'm in an entirely different setting now.  But last night my daughter helped me and we tried to make it. 

So I thought I would share with you my "pandesal".  It means, in Spanish, salt bread.  Though it  doesn't have a lot of salt in it. 

First we made our bread. 
2 T yeast
 1 1/4 cup of warm milk
1/2 cup sugar
Later add
1 egg
5 T melted butter
1 T oil
In a large bowl, the recipe calls for
2 cups of flour
2 cups of bread flour (I just used four cups of flour)
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
Knead it till smooth. Cover with a damp cloth for an hour.
Divide into four equal parts
Roll into a tube.

Mine as you can see is not perfect
Try to get the "tube" into a uniform thickness.  I read somewhere that it should be about an inch in diameter. Slice diagonally - that's what the knife is for.
Roll in bread crumbs.
Place on cookie sheet.  Bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 375 degrees.

Ready to go into the oven.


Do you know I was the only one who did not know that they didn't taste quite like the real thing?  No one else did.  I'm afraid that the setting has something to do with it tasting different.  They definitely were good.  And I think I'll make them again.  Just wish that I didn't like sleep so much and we could have them warm for breakfast. :)

Making the most of today,

Monday, March 25, 2013

Project Monday - a cute idea for the garden

 I found this cute idea on Pinterest, a long time ago.  I don't spend a lot of time on that site, but I do have a few things that I'm excited about doing.  I've been waiting for spring to get started on this one.

 How fun letting Tractorman paint the base color of the rocks.  Now we've washed the rocks and there are a bunch of rocks sitting on the registers warming up so that he can do more painting.
 I think I should make a frog out of this one, but I'm not that talented.  

If you have more art ability than I you can do so much more.  When we put our plants out in the garden we'll put these rocks near them, so we know what's coming and so the kids can learn to identify the little plants coming up.

I'll update with more pictures of other rocks later.  I have to pick up some different colors of paint.  I think Ill cover these with some clear finish so that they last more than one year.  

Making the most of today,

Friday, March 22, 2013

Titus 2 Tea - Budgets - Week Three

This will be my last post for budgets.  For one thing, I'm not sure what else I would say after today.  We have come to the end of my experience with budgets and two, next Friday, I want to think about the death of our Lord - not budgets.

My final ideas about budgeting are: 

Save your receipts.  I put them in my purse, and when I see that hubby has one, I scoop it up and drop it in my purse.  Everything goes in the purse.

Clean out your purse on a weekly basis.  I put it in my purse so that I can find it on the day when I empty out my purse.  Once a week, Thursday, I take everything out of my purse. (Okay, realistically, that is the plan.)  Then I only put back what should be in my purse and everything else goes where it should. The receipts go into a pile next to my computer.

Go through the receipts.  Decide what categories the items go under.  In other words, my receipts to the grocery store, are mostly always food.  But to Wal-mart, the items go under several categories (clothes, toiletries, food, medical, etc)

Enter your data into the computer program you're using.  Or if you're using pencil and paper, take this time to enter your data.  Ideally, we should only be spending what we have, which is why cash is recommended.  I, honestly, don't know if Dave Ramsey recommends this, because I haven't been through his program.  If you are only using cash, you'll know that when your envelope is empty, you can't buy more. 

Check on-line to see what your balance is in your bank and on your credit card.  If you don't have self-control with the credit card, leave it at home and don't use it.  Carpenter wants to keep it, so I'm following his lead.  But this is a way that I keep tabs on where we are at. 

I haven't set up the cash system yet, but when I do my plan is to put cash into an envelope marked credit card and then put money into it from the other envelopes as we use the card.  For example: if we use the credit card for gas, we'll take cash out of the gas envelope and put it in the credit card envelope.  Then when the bill comes due, we'll put the cash into the bank. 

Sounds like a lot of hassle, but it takes vigilance to keep on your toes about where your money is going or you'll be using more than you have.  O.k. that's if you're me.  Jeff has family members who could keep track of where they were at financially in their head.  I can't.

Make sure that your balances are right.   So check your cash, checking and savings balance, to see if it all matches with what your entries say.

Any income that has come in this week should be noted and allocated to where it goes. 

Making the most of today,

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thursday's Thoughts - Redemption

Something I've been thinking about the last few weeks has been redemption.  Not sure the word is really redemption, but that's what comes to mind when it happens.  Let me give you a somewhat embarassing example.

On Monday, a couple of weeks back the washer quit working.  It sounded like it was working but without the strength it needed to agitate it and finally it just didn't start at all.  In our house, no washer is a disaster.  Plus it's Monday - double disaster. 

So I remembered my mom and her "exercise program" in the village where I grew up.  2 buckets with some soap in one of them and her arms were the plungers.  This all equaled exercise to my mom.  She had a knack for find a way to laugh through the most mundane of things.  She turned things into a joy. 

I filled the utility sink with water and soap and let a load soak for an hour and then scrubbed by hand and rinsed the clothes.  I couldn't get all the water out like the spinner can, but it was o.k.  Four loads later, I finally was done.  And it wasn't that bad.  It would have been a lot worse to take two one-year-olds and a five-year-old to the laundromat. 

That night, Carpenter told me I should just call our favorite repairman.  "Give him some work."  We want to support him in his job and this was our opportunity.  This man had bailed us out on a Christmas Eve when our oven's heating element started sparking.

He showed up an hour or two after I called him,  which was fine with me.  Having caught up on the laundry yesterday, I had one load or so and if he was showing up I was NOT going to do it by hand.

He came down and looked inside at the snowpants that were still dripping from my attempt to put a lighter load to see if that would make the machine work.

 "Hmm."  He said.  I asked if the motor was bad, because there was a funny smell. 

"Nope, don't think so.  Probably rocks and sand in the motor."  Ugh, my heart sank, remembering that I had thrown Tank's uber-super muddy shoes in there to get them clean, and yes, of all the stupid things, I had not rinsed them off first. 

"Probably." I said, without revealing my utter stupidity of placing shoes thick with mud in the washer.  Praying all the while for it to be something - anything, but that.  And yet knowing that he knows machines and was probably - definitely - right.

We figured out how to tip the washer without tipping all the water out.  Then he lay down on the floor to look at the motor.  Out came a.....sock!!!!  In my head, came the word.....redemption.  I was relieved not to have to explain rocks in my motor, but a sock - socks are supposed to be washed in the washer.

It must have slipped between the drum and the outside of the washer.  It was one of Jules' and her feet are so small that it could have happened easily.

Now, I don't know whether the word is redemption or rescue.  I sure felt rescued from having to explain that.  It was as if God knew that I didn't need to explain to this repairman my stupidity - that it was possible for me to learn not to do that without having too many people know about it.   (But now you all do.)

This isn't the first time it's happened lately, or I definitely would not be confessing this to you.   I love how God cares so much for us. 

Now, the cross-roads have come.  A decision is being made in our house that is super hard for me.  It's hard because part of the reason it's being made is because I'm not doing a good enough job - whether it's ability or desire, I'm not sure. 

I see reasons for it besides my inability.  It's what we have always planned.  But it's brought so many tears since yesterday when I called the school to register my boys for public school.  I'm praying that my younger ones will still be able to go to the private school, as my failure at teaching leaves me unsure at how I would manage four younger grades when they need more help. 

You can only do so many things at the same time - and usually none of them well. 
That's my problem.  We've prayed each year for direction, so I don't doubt the past.   

I have homeschooled for 10 years, missing a year or two, but always had a pre-schooler I was teaching.  It's been my life.  To give it up now is one of the hardest things.  And yet for my kids' sake it's the best thing.  And now I pray for redemption (or rescue, whatever it is) that when they show up at school the first day, that they will be ready (socially, emotionally, and also academically).

In the grip of grace and His redemption,

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wednesday's Household - Menus - Week One

I was asked by a reader for a menu plan with recipes etc.  as a reference for making her own meal plan.  Great idea and it inspired me to check into my menu to make sure that the pricing still looks the same as what I have been thinking it is.

This list is from years ago.   Probably about five or six years.  There is no way that prices are the same or that we eat the same amount of food.  2 packages of Mac-N-Cheese would never last us. Now we need at least four, but five is probably better.

I will share some of these meals on Cooking Tuesday, with the recipes and all.  If you have a meal you want the recipe for sooner, let me know and I'll put it at the top of the list.

Week 1 - $44.55+ 14.10 = $58.65 (The first number is the total of the meals for week one and the second number is the cost of breakfast.)
Sunday - $6.30 (This is the total for lunch and supper.)  My current goal for this number is $7. 
Lunch – BBQ Pork - $6.30
Roast - $5.00
4 lbs. Potatoes - $.50 (20lbs/5= $.25/lb.)
1 lb. Carrots - $.80
This meal belongs in two crockpots.  Meat in one and veggies in another.  Each crockpot needs water in it, probably about a cup or 2 in with the meat and the veggies need to be covered.  The crockpots need to be on high and will be done when you get home from church. 

Since you need some pork for two other meals this week, cut two portions off the roast before putting the barbeque sauce over it.  Freeze them as you won't need them till the end of the week.

Barbeque sauce
1 cup of ketchup
2 Tablespoons of mustard
2 Tablespoons of syrup or brown sugar
1 Tablespoon of soy sauce
Mix together and pour over the meat after you get home.  These measurements are approximate as I don't measure.  I just pour and taste.  So adjust it according to your preference.  Usually we look in our spice cupboard for some tasty spices to go in it, but definitely salt and pepper.

Supper – Leftovers

Monday - $5.50

Lunch – Sandwiches - $1.50

2 loaves of bread - $.50
½ pkg of Singles - $.1.00
Supper – Meatballs and Rice $4.00

2 lbs. Hamburger - $2.00
4 cups Rice - $1.10
Vegetables - $.90

Tuesday - $10.75

Lunch – Wisconsin Cheese Soup $10.75

2 lb. Velveeta – 3.00
3 Brocolli Medley - $3.75
6 lb. Potatoes - $1.50
2 bread - $.50
Dessert - $ 2.00
Supper - Leftovers

Wednesday - $3.50

Lunch – Sandwiches - $1.50

2 loaves of bread - $.50
½ pkg of Singles - $1.00
Supper –Pork rice meal - $2.00

Leftover pork
Rice - $1.10
Veggies - $.90
Thursday - $1.60

Lunch – Sandwiches with Ramen $.50

2 Ramen - $.25
Bread - $.25
Supper – Chicken Noodle soup – $1.10

Chicken – leftover
1 lb Potatoes - $.20
Veggies - $.90
Friday - $ 16.20

Lunch – Mac-N-Cheese - $ .70

2 Mac-N-Cheese - $.35
Supper – Pizza - $15.50

Bread - $1.00
Sauce - $2.50
Meat - $4.00
Cheese - $4.00
Veggies - $1.00
Dessert - $2.00
Saturday - $3.15

Lunch –Hotdogs - $2.25

Hotdogs - $2.00
Bread - $.25
Supper – Fried Rice - $.90

Leftover Rice
Leftover pork
Veggies - $.90

As you can see anytime I used reserved meat for a future meal or used rice that was left from another meal, I didn't add it to the cost of the day, because it was already figured into the cost.  So if say, you are making fried rice, your actual cost would be much different than mine above because I had made a roast at the beginning of the week.

Got any good ideas about making a menu plan and sticking to a budget???  We would all love to know and have some more great ideas.

Making the most of today,

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cooking Tuesday - Chicken Chow Mein

I got to work with Carpenter's aunt on Saturday, and boy the kitchen smelled yummy.  Lunch was amazing as always when she cooks.  She works full-time in a home for women who can't live alone.  She's done this for fourteen years.  I have been working with this group for 4 years total, but have been off more than on lately.

I always enjoy working with her.  She's a very interesting lady who loves the women she helps on the weekends. 

Anyway, back to the recipe for chicken chow mein.  I could hardly stand it.  Celery, carrots and onions simmering on the stove with the chicken mouth was watering.  So I had to ask her for the recipe, especially when I saw what was in it.

On the way home, I picked up the ingredients and made it for lunch on Sunday.  Yummy and my family felt the same way I did.  This is not exactly her recipe. What I did was different, so I'll share that.

Fry chicken cubes in oil, then add carrots.  Cook for awhile till carrots are still crunchy but starting to get cooked, then add celery and cabbage. 

The recipe calls for 2 c chicken broth, I used water and chicken buollion. 

Bring to a boil.  Then mix 2 T cornstarch with 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 c soysauce and stir it into the broth and veggies and meat.

Serve over rice and with chow mein.  Delicious!!!

1/4 c oil
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/4 head of cabbage
1 carrot sliced
3 stalks of celery
2 cups of chicken broth
2 T cornstarch
1/4 c water
1/4 c soysauce
2 c chicken

Fry chicken in oil, with salt and pepper.  Add carrots, cook for a bit.  Add celery and cabbage, cook till tender.  Add chicken broth.  Bring to a boil.  Mix cornstarch with water and soysauce and stir in.  Heat thoroughly.  Some other things that can be added are mushrooms and water chestnuts.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Project Monday - starting to plant

I am excited.  Carpenter and I had a great afternoon yesterday.  After a rough week of not seeing him much, he decided to fore-go his nap and hang out with me.  I love that man!

Here's the final pics of the greenhouse.

They rolled huge logs on the edges of the plastic and now it's not going anywhere - well maybe.

We've had a couple of windy days, not super windy yet but enough to make us nervous and it held up very well.

First we went to the store and bought some things - much needed meds that I was out of, and an ironing board that wobbles as bad as the one we have (it was my Mom's, and the new one is going back - I need a sturdy ironing board in this house).  We also got some potting soil and some trays, so that we could start planting. 

Next we filled the trays with soil, and added the seeds of the stuff that is transplantable - tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, watermelon, broccoli, cauliflower, canteloupe, etc.  Then we watered them and left them in the greenhouse, on the ground. 

I need to go make sure that it didn't freeze in there.  Tonight it's supposed to get in the low 20's, not sure what it was last night.  So we'll see how this works.  Not ever having done this before, it's an experiment.

Carpenter is also ready for us to plant peas into the soil.  So I need to start that today.  I want to have it all staked so that they can grow up instead of on the ground.  Last year I used chicken fence and put stakes in the ground - though not for all of the peas - and it worked fairly well.  The peas stayed clean and dry and I could actually see them without breaking the plant.

It's only March, so I'm a bit nervous about planting anything in the ground yet.  In our house we get too antsy, to get out there and plant stuff.  Give us a day of great weather and we can't wait.  Sometimes we're ahead of the game and it works out, and other times it all freezes.

So I'm going to get out there and work that soil and get it ready for some peas.  I'll work on getting those stakes up and fence up and then plant.  I also want to make some boxes for the kids to plant their own mini-garden.  I hope we get to it this week. 

And finally, I have some rocks to paint with the kids for markers of where things are.  I think the kids will have the most fun with that project.

There's something about planting and gardening that I love, time to think about God's work in our hearts and lives.  He's always growing us up in some new way.  I'm thankful for His tender care in the garden of my heart, but I'm also thankful that He does the hard work of pruning, etc.  

I am not a gardener, and it frustrates my husband as he is his own father's son.  His dad has a beautiful garden every year with all kinds of flowers and vegetables.  Even though, I'm not good at it, and every year the weeds overtake my veggies, I am going to try again.  Each year should be easier as I'm raising little gardeners, and now they don't pull stuff out that shouldn't be pulled out. 

Does anyone have great ideas about how they plant and what works and what doesn't?

Making the most of today,

Friday, March 15, 2013

Titus 2 Tea - Budgets - Week 2

Now that you have your list of weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly expenses.  We need to make some categories.  Every expense you have should be in a category.  My categories will not be the same as your categories.

But for an example, I have major categories and then sub categories. 
Major categories for me are: Giving, Utilities, Savings, Housing, Food, Transportation, Clothing and Personal.

Subcategories aren't in every major category, but almost all of them.
Giving - no subs
Utilities - cell phones, electricity, propane gas, bundle,  and trash
Savings - Savings, Emergency Fund, Retirement, Christmas, Camping/Vacation and College
Housing - Real-Estate Insurance, Renter's/Home-owner's insurance, Rent and Replace Furniture
Food - Groceries and Eating out.
Transportation - Gas and Oil, Repairs and Tires, License and Taxes, Car Insurance, Car Replacement
Clothing - Adult, Kids and Laundry
Personal - Life Insurance, Toiletries, School, Piano, Gifts, Miscellaneous, Household, Medical

So the next project is to take your expenses and add them all up for a total for the year, then divide by 12 and you'll know how much you need to save out each month.

Take a look at your income and make sure that your expenses are not greater than your income.  Tweak and arrange it so that your money all has a place to go.  If you have to tweak your expenses, tighten the belt, then you take a look at your expenses to find a way to do that.  Or find a way to earn more for a time.

Dave Ramsey recommends a cash system.  I think we may actually try that and see how it works.  We do have a credit card which he does not recommend, but we pay it off every month and we pay attention to what we're spending. 

One of my goals, which I've been failing at miserably (see yesterday's post) is to check on-line every Thursday and keep track of the amount so it's not a surprise.  As I said, I haven't been doing that so, surprise!!!!!!  Thankfully, we had our income tax refund to help us pay the bill, but I can't do that in other months.  And I wanted that refund to replace several items that need replacing in our house, and for the emergency fund. 

I still have some left to work with.  But I will withdraw the cash for my accounts.  Do you pay attention when you swipe that card to how much you just paid for all that stuff?  I sometimes realize how much went out of my account, but when I have to count out the cash or write a check, I always notice.   Maybe that's the reasoning.

If your income is not always the same like ours, make sure you allocate your money when you get your check.  That way you'll know what you have to spend. 

I want to clarify that these are ideas of a way to do things, not the law or the only way that you should do them.  Our goal is not to go into debt, and with our growing family, it's difficult to stay within the food budget and clothing budget and a lot of other budgets. :)

Have a great weekend,

Making the most of today,

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Hello, my name is...

Romans 8:14  "For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God."

Have you heard the song by Matthew West?  It's new.  If you haven't heard it, look it up on youtube.  It's a great song. 
The past few weeks have been somewhat discouraging.  One thing after another falls apart, I'm working more hours as a sub at the place where I worked before, and I've been failing at things that I want to win at.  Things that are important. 

Loser. Failure. Reject.

Never mind that I have never in my life been able to keep up with laundry and that is going fine. 
Never mind that I am teaching high school Algebra to my 9th grader.
Never mind that I have sometimes up to four extra kids, while I teach three boys.

But I don't want to find justification for my mess ups.  I don't need to get snippy with my kids, just because I have too much on my plate.  Or maybe it's not too much, maybe I'm just too busy looking at my situation and analyzing all the difficult things I have to do.  Sounds like a bit of pride creeping in.

The thing I'm forgetting when I'm thinking the words above - loser, failure, reject - the thing I'm forgetting is that I'm a child of the One True King.  And while I am a loser, failure, and a reject, I am not any of these things when I am in Him. 

Oh, man that gives me the chills!  And this morning, it brought tears to my eyes.  I had to quickly recover as I was picking up and dropping off children.  But hallelujah!  I am a daughter of the King!  If I have done wrong, I only need to run quickly to Him and confess it.  He gives me the strength to do what I should. 

I've been memorizing Romans 8.  Wow!!!!  Isn't it funny that verses that you've "known" all your life can be so alive?  Memorizing them together and in context - amazing!  So many things and questions about verses I've known all my life. 

For instance, in Romans 1, it talks about the righteousness of God being revealed from faith to faith.  What kinds of faith are we talking about? Is it two different kinds of faith?  I have been thoroughly enjoying pondering some of these things.

In Romans 8, I love the picture of living according to the Spirit as opposed to living according to the flesh.  I want to be sold out for Christ, living according to the Spirit as much as possible.  When I walk according to the flesh, I know that I can quickly return to the King and confess and I'm back in fellowship and walking according to the Spirit again. 

After I've listened to that song and been reminded of my standing in Christ, it made me think of my kids.  Sometimes I condemn them and point out their faults.  I'm not saying that I shouldn't help them grow.  But I need to make sure that they know that they are children of the King too and that He can give them the power to continue their growth toward maturity.  I'm not there yet and never will be, I can't expect it of them. 

This post seems to be hitting a lot of different things.  Hopefully, it doesn't sound disjointed as I feel it is, but I pray that you are a daughter/son of the King and you're finding your identity in Him, not in the things you do.  If you aren't a daughter/son of the King, you can read more about His love for you here.

Romans 8:16-17 "The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him."

Making the most of today,

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wednesday's Household - a list of meals

The other day a friend asked if I would share my list of meals for my menu plan.   She wanted to use it as a reference for her own menu plan.  I found something in the archives from probably five or six years ago.

 It's kind of fun to look at a time when 2 boxes of macaroni and cheese were sufficient for our family.  Not anymore!!!! Five is a safe number when we make it.  Even though it's a bit outdated I will still be using it because the recipes are not outdated.

So today I will be sharing my entire list and in future posts I will share the weekly breakdown.

One meal a day was light with sandwiches or leftovers or macaroni and cheese or hotdogs.

The dinners were:
  1. Barbeque Pork
  2. Meatballs and Rice
  3. Wisconsin Cheese Soup
  4. Pork stir fry meal
  5. Chicken noodle soup
  6. Pizza
  7. Fried rice
  8. Baked Chicken
  9. Creamed Chicken over rice
  10. Hamburger gravy over rice
  11. Scalloped potatoes and ham
  12. Spaghetti
  13. Calzones
  14. Pork Roast
  15. Pizza Rice Casserole
  16. Chicken stirfry
  17. Chicken pot pie
  18. Stir-fried pork soup
  19. Shepherd's Pie
  20. Indonesian meal called Opor
  21. Beef Stroganoff
  22. Beef Roast
  23. Tacos
  24. Subs
  25. Hamburger Corn Bake
  26. Tostadas
  27. Pasta Meatball Stew
  28. Ham Curry
  29. Greek Pork Wraps
  30. Beef Strips
  31. Chicken Supreme
  32. Oven fried Chicken
  33. Chicken on Sunday
  34. Chicken Divan
  35. Chicken Tortilla Chowder
  36. Parmesan Chicken
  37. Tangy Tender Chicken
  38. Cheeseburger Soup
  39. Sloppy Joes
  40. Fajitas
  41. Enchiladas
  42. Crockpot Enchiladas
  43. Adobo
  44. Stir fry
  45. Lasagne
  46. Meatloaf
  47. Peanut gravy with veggies over rice
  48. Sloppy joe casserole.
That is my list.  Some of them are too pricy to be on our regular menu, but are used for special meals.  In future posts, I will share the recipes and budgeting as much as possible.

We have been enjoying the squash. I'd forgotten about it all year and had left it in the cupboard.  Now that the corn is gone (we got tired of that) what we have for veggies is squash.    Seems like a smarter thing to do would be to alternate, but I am not used to having canning jars as I usually just freeze most of my produce.

Now I'm trying to make it wonderful and yummy.  I don't want it to feel like we're having squash for a month.  The way we like it best is with meat over rice.  Can you tell we all grew up overseas - all except one - the baby.   So last night, I tried to spruce it up. 

One game I like to play with my kids is find the secret ingredient.  As I was cooking I had a "hankerin" for some peanut sauce.  I guess it was the pork sizzling in the onions.   So I added the squash without draining it, and after it was simmering added about three huge dollops of peanut butter.  It was gobbled down quickly by my kids, so that means success.  And while we were eating we played the game.  A few of them guessed it right on.

There will be more posts on the subject of menu planning.  But tell me, what inexpensive meals do you have on your list?  And what fun things do you add to spruce up something you have to have AGAIN!?

Making the most of today

We finished the greenhouse last night!  Pics to come. And while I dislike the time change thing and getting up while it's dark again, I love, love, love, seeing my man and kids outside working on it and other stuff after he gets home from work.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cooking Tuesday - Peanut Butter Popcorn

I cannot believe I haven't share our favorite snack.  Peanut butter popcorn!!!!! 

My family was introduced to this yummy goodness in the Philippines on the island of Mindanao.  My mom and dad were dorm parents at a Wycliffe school.  My parents were just back from furlough and my mom was embarking on an adventure of another of her "things I'll never do". 

Mom became fast friends with one of the women on the base, Mrs. Bailey.  I will forever be grateful to her for inviting our family, by ourselves, to their house for dinner.  I can't remember if it was a break from school, or if someone came over to the dorm to dorm-sit for an evening. 

That was when we learned of this wondrous thing called peanut butter popcorn.  Amazingly, it's super easy.  Nothing like caramel popcorn which never gets made in this house.  I like to think that it's a step above caramel popcorn anyway because of the peanut butter.

So I will let you in on the secret of how to make this easy snack.  First, of course you must pop the popcorn.  I detest microwavable because it leaves it's tallow on the roof of my mouth which reminds me that I'm taking in a bunch of fat!!  Yuck!  Besides popcorn popped the old-fashioned way is much cheaper. 

I couldn't get a good picture of this with a lid on it, but make sure you use the lid.  The other key to having as few "old maids" as possible is to shake, shake, shake!!!!  Once the popcorn is done, pour it into a large bowl.  I love my Tupperware That's-A-Bowls for this.

Then you shake, shake, shake, again!  To get all the old-maids to the bottom of your bowl.  Next, very carefully, scoop out the popcorn.  Pouring works for the top, but the old-maids end up in your popcorn.  Crunching an oldmaid with peanut butter popcorn is not good for the teeth.

Now that you have your popcorn popped and ready.

In a pan, pour 1 cup white sugar, and 1 cup corn syrup (I just use the maple syrup that I have on hand).  I always do this part wrong, as you can see in my picture.   Bring the sugar and syrup to a boil.  Boil for one minute.  Then remove from heat and add 1 cup of peanut butter.  It works the way I do it too, but it's better if you wait to put the peanut butter in. 

The key is especially if you put the peanut butter in, DON'T leave the kitchen.  In fact, stand over the pot stirring till it boils which is only about five minutes or so. 

Then pour the mixture over the popcorn.  And voila!  Yummy goodness!

We will be bagging some up in some snack bags so we don't eat it all by ourselves.  It works in a baggie, but you probably will be throwing said-baggie away because it won't be fun to wash out. 

If you do it right, it won't leave your fingers too sticky, just enough that licking takes care of it. 

Peanut butter popcorn

1 bowl of popcorn, set aside

In a pan mix 1 cup syrup and 1 cup of sugar. Stirring continually, bring to a boil.

Remove from heat and add 1 cup of peanut butter. Pour over popcorn.  Enjoy!!!

I hope you enjoy this simple snack.

Making the most of today,

Monday, March 11, 2013

Project Monday - Greenhouse and gardening

Last week, we tried setting up the greenhouse.  The very next day we tore it down, because Carpenter was away at work and we didn't know how to keep it from blowing away in the wind.  Had Carpenter been here, he probably would have been able to reinforce it so that it would have worked.

But it's probably good that we tore it down because now it looks like this:

We have yet to put up the plastic and find out how it actually works, because we had a storm coming through.   Putting up plastic while the wind is blowing doesn't really work very well.  So we'll try next weekend when Carpenter is home, and it's nice.

This has gotten me into the mood to get started planting.  Actually, it wouldn't be too early to start planting some things inside our home, but finding a place to put them is the difficult part.  It would be good to start tomatoes, peppers, watermelon and canteloupe - the things that can be transplanted. 

Now if I can only find the seeds we bought.....  I put them in the perfect spot.  I wish I knew where that was.

A view from our dining room window.  Love the orange.  So thankful that God's mercies are new every morning.  With the time change, I'm needing lots of that!!!

Making the most of today,

Friday, March 8, 2013

Titus 2 Tea - Finances

As we move through my original plan, we've come to March.  March is about finances, but I don't, by any means, feel that I know what I'm talking about.  I've tried many different things and I'm still looking for the best solution for me.
The thought with Titus 2 Tea was to have a group of women sharing ways that things work in their households, knowing that each one would have different ways that work, and all would be good. 

So I will share what I do currently.  I've tried many different things.  One thing I have found is that if I track my spending I do better than if I don't track it at all.  When I stop tracking my spending, I start buying things that I could do without.

I use an excel spreadsheet right now and have some of Dave Ramsey's worksheets that I use to track income.  I would like to get a program that makes this easier, but haven't found one that works with what I'm looking for.  I did get a program for Carpenter for his business but when I went to get my taxes done, I was told that what I got was pretty difficult for her to use.

So someday, I would like to have a program where I can punch in the amount spent in each category and not have to think about it.  A program that does all the work.   For now I stick to put the numbers in the right columns and totalling them. 

My suggestion, if you don't have any kind of a system, is to start with just keeping track of what you are spending.  Don't include the income on that tracking sheet.  Figure out what categories you need.  Remember that you have some things that come out quarterly, semi-annually, and annually. 

If you don't keep receipts, maybe call your insurance agent and ask if he/she can give you a run-down of months when car insurance is due.  Get out a calendar and write this information down. 

So for this week, let's just work on that.  Maybe once a year get an idea of if things are still the same or if they've changed.  I will be taking the time to make sure that I do have my numbers current.  I'm going to put  insurance payments in my home-planning notebook calendar, so that I don't have surprises. 

Do you have any great ideas for budgets?  I would love to hear about them.

Making the most of today, (why?  Only for His glory and honor)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Thursday's Thoughts - A servant's heart

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
These last weeks I've been thinking about serving my family.  It has come up in posts of different blogs I read.  It comes up in the verses I memorize and in the scripture I'm reading.  Seems to me that I'm being delivered a message of something I need to be working on.

And tonight, after a long day of piano lessons and early-out from school and three kids in daycare instead of two, homemade pizza and starting to build a greenhouse, I looked at the pile of dishes and felt wiped out.

A picture came to mind of a scene from my earlier years.  I'm quite certain it happened on more than one occasion.  One of us or all three of us complaining about the dishes, and my dad waltzing into the kitchen didn't get mad at us or start ordering us around, just simply said "You go play, I'll do the dishes." 

Oh, man, did we ever feel awful!!  There's Dad whistling in the kitchen as he does the work of the three of us.  Sometimes, most times, we'd go back and beg to help feeling so guilty.  But no, he would have none of it.  And firmly and cheerfully, he told us he was going to finish them.

My dad gave us an example of Jesus washing His disciples feet.  He served us when it was really our responsibility to serve him and our family in this way.

I can just see the disciples (John 13:1).  It doesn't say much about why Jesus washed their feet except that He knew what was coming, and He loved them.  I've always wondered if someone hadn't done it when they entered the house.  I even thought that they had been arguing right before that about who was the greatest.  But it doesn't make that connection in John. 

I imagine that the disciples were looking around at each other and feeling a bit guilty about Jesus, the  master, doing a servant's job.  Peter's even bold enough to say something.  "Hey, Jesus, you're not gonna wash my feet."  He ends up turning it around after Jesus speaks to him about it. 

It wasn't the place of the master to wash the feet in their culture.  One of the servants would do it.  I'm not sure if there was no servant in that room because it was rented.  Or if Jesus was just making a point. Had no one stooped low enough to serve the others? 

My dad showed his servant's heart even more when my mom was slowly becoming more and more sick.  He didn't complain of the extra load.  He whistled and joked to help us through one of the toughest situations I've ever been through. 

When he was all alone caring for mom, with my brother in college and my sister married and me in missionary training again.  He didn't complain of the tasks, but was cheerful on the phone.  We never knew how hard it was because he was nothing like me.  He didn't complain.

    Proverbs 15:15 All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.

I wish I would have recognized it sooner and learned at his feet better.  He served his family joyfully.  It seemed he recognized that this was God's will for him and he was willing.  He served my mom right through to the end. 

I have a great example, in my dad, of a servant.  I am so thankful to God for my dad.  And I'm also thankful that he's found someone new to share his life with.  They've been married just a bit longer than Carpenter and I.  And between the two of them they have six kids spread across the United States. 
My dad tickling my feet while my cousin laughs instead of rescuing me.

Making the most of today,

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wednesday's Household - the kitchen

 As I mentioned in my Titus2 Tea post, one of my goals is to work on certain area.  Well, my area right now is the kitchen and has been for weeks. 

It started with the spices in the spice cupboard.   Spice cupboard
Now the drawer looks like this:

And it has stayed this way (mostly) for over a month.  I love - absolutely love - finding something that works for me.  I have found so many things that don't.

Next was the cooking pots. Cooking pots and pans  And this too has worked well, with a bit of straightening by me every once in awhile.
 Then was the baking pans and a fun time with my man, Carpenter.  Baking pans, and that doesn't even need straightening. 

Last week I worked on the containers and mixing bowls. Containers and large bowls.

And today I cleaned out one of the few cupboards left.  This is where we keep the appliances.  Ugh, it was a grimy mess.  I was amazed to find it took me less than a half hour. 

It can't get too bad in here because things only fit a certain way, but it can get grimy.   Ugh, look at that mess.  While a fun project would be to change the paper in the cupboards, the budget can't handle anything new, so we'll be content with what we have and just simply clean.

I peeled off some of the paper where it was catching dirt and wiped the shelves down and put like-things together, and wiped down the doors and finally the floor.

The areas I still have yet to do are: the pantry, above the stove and fridge and the drawers, except for one.

This has taken me over a month to do, but this is a deeper clean.  I just do it when I have a few extra minutes.  I try to do projects as I go to make it better, but only if, the materials are on hand or inexpensive. 

It's been fun to make a small kitchen work for our big family and find ways to say as Paul did,
"I am content with little and with much."  And as the author to the Hebrews commands "Be content with such things as you have, for He Himself has said I will never leave you or forsake you." 

Making the most of today,

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Cooking Tuesday - English Mufffin Bread

English Muffin Bread has only five ingredients, just five.  That is something that I love.  I also put all the ingredients together.  You don't have to wait five minutes for the yeast to bubble up.  Nor do you have to wait for the bread to rise, in fact, you'd better not. 

5 1/2 cups of warm water, 6 tablespoons of yeast, 1/2 c sugar, 2 tablespoons of salt and 11 cups of flour.  So put that all together in the bowl and start stirring.  Try to get it mixed up as much as possible. It may be wise to stir half the flour in, and then add the rest.  But it works fine like this too.

You probably want your bread pans greased.  I have a baster that I use and just "paint" margarine on the pan.  The kids love this job.  I don't know that it's cheaper, but it's one less thing on my list of groceries.

The bread looks like this when finished. Sticky and gooey.  The hardest part is getting it into the pan.  But resist the urge to add more flour.  It will lose some of it's characteristic moistness, and become more like regular bread, which is not bad, just not the kind of bread we're going for.

Resist the urge to try to shape the loaves into a prettier loaf.  It will only succeed in getting your hands more sticky.  You can actually drop some of the scraps into the pan on top of the dough in there and it will mold itself to the loaf and look like you actually did shape it.  So resist that temptation and save yourself the frustration.  Plus you'll get more dough stuck to your fingers and your loaves will be smaller. 

Then bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.  At that time "paint" it with butter on top.  Put it back in the oven for 10 more minutes.  Sometimes I skip this step for the sake of less margarine on my waistline, but it makes for a yummy crust.
Finally take it out of the oven and let it cool on racks.
The best way to eat this bread is toasted.  And I just received recognition for being the "Best Garlic Bread-maker" ever....from Tractorman.  In all his five years it's the best he's ever tasted.  I would have to say I think it's the only stuff he remembers tasting, but we'll just forget that part.

Making the most of today,

Monday, March 4, 2013

Project Monday - greenhouse

Some of you knew that Carpenter and I went on our Valentine's Day date,over a week late and to our favorite place to go in the big city.   While there one of the big items on our list was the materials for a greenhouse.  We have a book of DIY projects and this was one Carpenter thought we should try.  

He's cutting the little thin CPVC for the stakes.
Tractorman was in on the project helping to pound the "stakes" in the ground.

Tank getting in on the action. Putting the pieces together.  The plan was to all work together and lift up on the stakes, but we couldn't.  We ended up putting up a section of two poles, then another and finally the last one.

Finished.  This PVC fit over the little CPVC underneath.
This was the first try with two pieces of plastic.  According to the instructions it was supposed to cover front and back sides as well.

We ran to Wal-mart and found almost the full size of what we needed.  It covered the back, but not the front.  So we took one of the sheets we had used and cut it in half and made a door way that overlaps a lot. 

The back side

 The doorway in this picture is not yet done. And now we have to start thinking about what to put in here. 

The other question and hopefully, we'll remember to let you know, is will it stand up to Nebraska winds. 

A future project is to build each of the kids a 4X4 box to plant their seeds in.  That won't go in the greenhouse as it will stay in the box all summer.  I'm excited about helping them learn about caring for their own garden.  They  have always helped in the past, but this will be theirs.

Making the most of today

Friday, March 1, 2013

Titus 2 Tea - Final Thoughts on Household

1. "Work on your wall before noon."  This is something I read on another blog.  It refers to Nehemiah's job of re-building the wall of Jerusalem.  I know that in my house, it is much better if I work on all the things I have on my to-do list first.  And my goal is to have most of it done by noon.  Now, granted, there are always things to do after lunch.  But my list is small enough that I can be done.   Some things on my list are: laundry, bread-making, quick-clean the bathroom and school.

2. Be consistent.  In our house, we make our bread instead of buy.  But I have been rather inconsistent with the making of it.  So lately, I have decided that I need to bake something every day.  I didn't yesterday, but there was still bread in the bin.  If not bread, something for desserts to put in lunches. 

3. As much as possible, keep things in the same place.   I think our big bowls and things have always been down here on this shelf, since we moved here.  I did find that the little containers for lunches were a big problem down here.  It's too easy to throw them down here.  So I found space for them on a shelf where there had been some plates we weren't using much.  For this week, it's been a good plan.  Now for some consistency in that area - see #2.

4. Do the same things at the same time.  I try to do my blog first thing in the morning along with devotions and my verses at  But getting a shower competes with that.  These are all things that I like to have done before the babies show up.

5. Plan a bit of fun during your day.  Right after lunch dishes and naptime for babies, (see #4) I like to have some time to sit and do quiet things and sometimes it involves a movie (see #6).  Lately, since I've started going to quilt guild, it's been quilting.  I picked up an old project, and I will finish it today, I hope. 

6. Don't turn the TV on till you're all done with work. If I do turn on the TV after lunch, it's super hard to turn it off because we can always find something on (the best thing, which is not always even good).  Because of how hard it is Carpenter and I are seriously considering canceling when our contract is done, maybe before.  We only got cable because we were required to have it in order to place someone in our home, and that fell through.

7. Design a system for things and stick with it, only tweak.  This is the current system and I don't love it.  It's not perfect.  But I will continue to use it rather than pitch it, because overall it's not bad.  The only thing I don't like is hearing them say, "I've dried for three times in a row."  because someone messed with it or because they don't remember. 

8. Make a place in your home that is reserved for quiet thinking.  Mine is my room upstairs and because it's cold during the winter I never go there, but my living room is quiet during the school year.  One note on this picture:  I know you're not supposed to have your office in your quiet place.  It's in the plan to make a different room into that, but right now it's not a possibility.

9. Work on one area at a time.  This is my area today.  It's actually so much better.  I've had the kids clear out the boots and coats for the basement.  Because this entryway is cold, I always procrastinate on cleaning it (see #10).  But today, I'm going to do a bit at a time.

10. Procrastinating about that "hated" task will not make it look more desirable.  None of my rooms look like this today.  This is from my de-cluttering days when things were disastrous.  But they aren't great either. I have some ideas to help the little ones with their clothes issues, but it takes time.

Finally, enjoy.  Find joy in serving your family.  Turn up the radio while cleaning.  Fill your mind with Christian songs etc.  This was the scene yesterday while I was finishing up my post for yesterday.  They took on this task themselves even though washing dishes is my job.  I pray that they find joy in serving all their lives, though I haven't been a good example of that.

Making the most of today.