Wednesday, February 27, 2013

100th Post!!!

Hello friends!  I simply cannot believe that this post marks post number 100!  It has taken me a very long time to figure out what this post should be about.  I didn't want to go ahead until I felt like I had the go ahead from God.  In my writing, I am quite used to waiting on God.  When I am praying for inspiration I tend to go through a terrible time of what seems like writer's block.  I have come to recognize it isn't writer's block at all, but simply God saying no to my ideas that do not line up with what he wants me to say.  In those times,  I know when an idea finally flows freely, God is saying, "Go forth."  It took a while to learn to be patient and wait upon him, but, finally, I have found such peace in that waiting, knowing that he cares and will show me when the time and words are right.

On my Facebook page, I asked for ideas for a topic to write about for my 100th post.  The only response I got was from a very dear friend that simply read, "New batteries.  Rechargeable, please!"  Hmmm!  Where in the world was I going to go with that response with no further details?  Somehow, I knew that it would surely work it's way into this post.  I knew I just had to wait upon the Lord to give me the right thing to say.  He hasn't failed me yet!

Tonight I was cleaning out my email and noticed how many blog posts were in my email.  I felt so overwhelmed looking at them all!  As much as I would like to, I just simply do not have time to read them all!  Too, I really feel I have been had when I open a post hoping to find inspiration, comfort, or words of wisdom, and all I see is what feels like a sales pitch, regardless of how sincere it may be.  I don't want to go to blog after blog post of someone trying to sale me something.  It tends to make me feel negative emotions of "I want.  I want.  I want.  I can't have.  I can't have.  I can't have."  I don't have that kind of money to purchase everything I see that I find appealing.  Please, don't get me wrong; I in no way condemn others who use their blogs to sale things to help support their families.  I think it is wonderful that they have the energy and knowledge to do it!  That is just not what I need a blog to be for me.  :)

As I spent a few minutes cleaning out my emails and unsubscribing from some blogs, I paused to think about what made me keep some and unsubscribe from others.  I thought about my favorite blog.  What was it that made me hold it so dear?  It didn't take long to come to the conclusion that the writer is real.  She is open, honest, and inspirational.  She offers reviews of products from time to time, but the products are very practical, and I never feel she is trying to sale anything.  I don't feel like she is pitching me a sales line, because she doesn't.  I feel like I am a friend in her home when I read her blog posts which aren't sent out regularly at all.

That, my friends, leads me to my topic today:  Rechargeable batteries.  That is what I want for my blog.  When you visit here, I want you to feel like you have just had a visit with a friend who has lifted your spirits.  I  want you to feel like you are at home and can relax for just a few minutes out of your busy day.  I want you to be inspired to try something new or be to others what you would like for them to be to you.  When you leave, I want you to feel like your batteries have been recharged!  That is my commitment to you.  I promise to be a friend to share life's journey.  I promise you are welcome even if you show up in your frumpy clothes and messy hair.  I am real just like you!  My dear friend who gave me the inspiration for this topic has inspired me to be such a better person. She, and others who have become precious friends because of her, have shown me what it means to love like God would love.  I know they are human with struggles just like me, but I feel like we encourage each other in the ways God would have us respond to those struggles.

In closing, grab a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy the next 100 posts!  I look forward to the next recipes, projects, and "ponderings" God places upon my heart.

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

p.s.  Thank you, Jane!  :)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Breakfast Pockets

I dearly despise shoveling sugar into my children first thing in the morning, but it so easy to just feed them cereal instead of cooking.  Easy or not, my conscience just gets the best of me when I do it!  I finally bit the bullet and whipped up a batch of breakfast pockets that can be frozen and reheated.  My idea came from here.

I even bought a bag of potatoes with which to make my own hash browns- yeah, right!  lol!  Maybe one day, but not this last time.

The process has a lot of steps and can make a mess, but it is not hard.  To begin, I browned one pound of sausage in a large skillet.

While the sausage was browning, I chopped one bell pepper and one onion.

I actually used three very small bell peppers because I loved how colorful they were.  They came in a three pack in the produce section.  These little peppers just make me smile every time I see them in the store.  No, it doesn't take much to make me happy!

I removed the sausage from the pan to drain on paper towels.  In the same skillet, I tossed in frozen hashbrowns, one chopped onion, and bell peppers.  My sausage rendered very little fat, so I had to add a little in with the hashbrowns.

While this was cooking, I cracked and beat 10-15 eggs with just a little milk.

While the hashbrowns cooked, I added pepper, a generous amount of salt and garlic salt, and some parsley mainly because I liked the green mixed in!  :)  I didn't measure any of the seasonings.  Just add what you think will taste right for your family.

When the hashbrowns and veggies were done to my liking, I poured in the beaten eggs.

Then I cooked on low and turned the mixture several times until the eggs were cooked through.

I cleared my messy island counter and created an assembly station.  Well, it wasn't anything fancy, but it sounds fun, right?  :)

Let the assembly begin!  I placed a portion, how much depends on your preference, on a whole wheat tortilla and topped it with shredded cheese.

Then I folded the top and bottom over the hash brown mixture and rolled it like a burrito.  Because these tortillas were taco-sized, they made the cutest little pockets that fit perfectly in one's hand on a busy morning!

The pockets then got rolled in parchment paper until I realized I don't have that kind of money.  (For some reason the phrase, "Ain't nobody got time for that!" keeps running through my head when I read that!) I quickly changed to foil. :)

The mixture was enough for 20 pockets that I popped into the frig and freezer.  Well, three of them didn't make it that far.  We had to have a taste test!  The children absolutely loved them, at least for five minutes.  All I heard was, "Mmm!  Mama!  These are SO GOOD!  These are the best burritos ever!"  over and over.  That was until the little man either got full or decided playing was more appealing.  Then he didn't like them anymore.  :(

I haven't reheated one yet, but I think they would be wonderful heated on a sandwich grill or a two-sided grill with a lid if there is time for such.  If not, they can be popped in the microwave until warm in the center.  In my microwave, I'm guessing it would probably take 45 seconds for a thawed pocket or a minute to a minute and thirty seconds for a frozen pocket.  I'll update if those times are different for me.

Can you imagine how great it would be to serve these if you had company spend the night?  It would be so nice to serve up such an easy, healthy meal!  I hope you get to try them!

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Confessions of a Binge DIYer

Okay....I have a confession.  I have a problem.  I am a binge DIYer.  I go for the longest time being uninspired, uncreative (yes, that's my word!).  Then, out of the blue, I cannot get enough of creating things or trying new things!

Before getting sick last week, I had grand plans of beautiful, homemade laundry projects and delectable homemade breakfast item that I had found after a search on the internet.  Well, most of the projects got done eventually.  It just took a lot longer than I had anticipated.  I worked when I had enough strength and energy.

The first project was the easiest, except the part where I tried to go to the health food store to get the essential oil when I just thought I was feeling better.  :)  I found the directions here.  I made the fabric softener and dryer balls.  It could not have been any easier!

I started with one bottle of vinegar.  To it, I added 25 drops of lavender essential oil and 1 teaspoon of rubbing alcohol.  I gave it a really good shake and called it done!  To use it, I use my Downy fabric softener ball.  I use the lines on the ball to judge the amount needed.

The dryer balls are easy also.  For one dryer ball, use one pair of men's tube socks.  Onto the toe/foot section, place 15-20 drops of lavender essential oil.  Ball that part of the sock into the tube part as tightly as possible.  Then place that balled-up sock into the toe of the other sock.  Twist the sock a couple of times and pull the tube part over the balled-up part of the sock.  I hope that makes sense.  It is a lot easier to do than to describe!

I also made my laundry detergent when I knew for sure I was better. :)  It also is not an original "recipe."  However, I have found the same basic recipe on many sites after searching for a detergent recipe I could use for my children who have eczema.  Every site I went to had a similar recipe.  I just picked the one in the same link above and tweaked it just a bit.  There a couple of different detergent recipes on my Pinterest "Clean it Up!" board if you want to take a look.  I want to try a couple of the others myself!

To make my detergent, I used 1 box of washing soda, 1 box of borax, 1 tub (96 oz.) oxygen cleaner (I intended to only use half, but I forgot until I had it all mixed together.),  1 1/2 bars Fels-Naptha, and 2 cups baking soda.  I first mixed my powdered ingredients together.  Then I used the food processor to grate and process the Fels-Naptha.

I mixed the soap into the powder, and it was done!  I have a coffee scoop to measure the detergent.  I have read to use two heaping tablespoons for one regular load of laundry.  A rounded coffee scoop should be just right.

 I have plans for the detergent to go in a large, pretty glass jar.
My local box store just has been out the last couple of weeks.

I have tried the fabric softener and dryer balls, and I love them!  I can't wait to start experimenting with different scents!  Trying the detergent is on the agenda for later in the week if I can stand it that long!  I hope you can try it out and let me know what you think, or better yet, share a better recipe if you have one!

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Days 8-14

Hello all my dear friends and visitors who are welcomed to become dear friends!  We have really had a rough month in my home.  After being so removed from public life for so long, I believe our immune systems are in shock!  Since we have started attending our wonderful church and it's many functions, we can't seem to stay well.  It will just take some time for our immune systems to build themselves back up.  I remember when I first started teaching in public school.  I stayed sick my first two years.  We'll get back to wellness sooner or later.  :)

Last Friday I took my daughter to the doctor and she was diagnosed with strep throat.  That evening I started getting sick.  It seems to have been the flu.  Even so, I knew I couldn't stop our Valentine's treats.  Luckily, there was only one night that I was so sick, I simply couldn't handle getting them out.  Of course, I made up for it during the day when I was more able.  You'll probably be able to tell from the one picture I got of it which day it was, lol!

This is Day 8.  I had not planned on using bananas, but they were sitting on my counter about to go bad.  Alissa was very unimpressed.  :)

Day 9.  I had planned to do something really cute with pretzels and gummy worms to go with it, but life happened.  Maybe we'll do it next year.

Here life went into a downward spiral, and I thought I would be celebrating the greatest love of all in heaven.

Day 10

Day 11

Day 12

Day 13:

These are all the treats Bill missed while he was on the road.

Day 14:  Happy Valentine's Day!

I didn't think this day would ever get here!  I love doing this, but this year has just been tough.  With God's grace, though, I have made it through!  Will I do it again?  Absolutely!  I love doing little things for my family to make them feel special.  There was a time in my life when I thought everything should revolve around me, my wants, my feelings.  Praise the Lord, I've come to see things through God's eyes!  I now know the secret to my happiness is doing little things to make others happy.  Since that crucial turn-around, life has become so beautiful, happy, and full!  I get so sad when I see others online complaining about Valentine's Day and other holidays being just another day, implying that no one is going to do anything special for them to make them feel happy or loved.  I wish I could pour just a little of what I have discovered into their hearts.  Oh, if they could just discover the joy and love of purely doing things for others for the simple love of seeing others smile!  That my friends is joy and love!  That is what makes just another day, a special day!  We can't rely on others and "things" to create happiness in us.  Our love and fulfillment must come from our Father above.  In him is true love, happiness, and fulfillment.

In closing, I present to you this challenge:  Spend the rest of this week asking God to show you at least one way to make someone happy.  Do what God lays upon your heart, and see if it makes you smile and feel love and happiness on the inside.  If you do, I'm guessing you may want to do it again.  In any case, feel free to come back and share your experience!

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Valentines Days 4-7

Okay, friends!  Sorry about the delay in posting.  It has been a rough few days.  Just as I got my sweet little boy over pneumonia, he and I came down with a stomach bug.  Ugh!  I didn't realize how sick I was until it was over and I couldn't remember part of a day!  Scary stuff!  We are so grateful to God that we made it through quickly!

So....let's get started!  :)

Day 4:

Day 5:

Sorry!  I was uninspired and couldn't think
of anything better!

Day 6:

This is similar to one from last year except
last year I used apple juice.

I have already put out the Valentine for tomorrow, Day 7:

There we go, my friends!  I'm sorry, again, for leaving you so long!  I hope you have gained some ideas here or been inspired to do one of your own!  I look forward to sharing the next seven days with you!  Just in case you are curious, yes, I am already thinking ahead to next year.  I am thinking of ways to incorporate some favorite scriptures into our treats!  I can't wait!  :)

Until we meet again, may you be inspired and blessed!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Valentines Days 2 & 3

Wow!  That hog butchering absolutely wore me out yesterday.  My back muscles are still aching today!  I'm sorry I didn't get the post done yesterday.  There was just no way I could think clearly enough when I got home to get it written.  I'll share some pictures of that, but first, I would like to share our Valentine surprises.

If you are considering doing this next year, look for items like
these on clearance at the end of each season to keep your
costs to a minimum.
On day 2, Alissa got cute little Valentine socks with a tag that read, "Valentine, you knock my socks off."  I didn't think Jacob would like cute little socks, so I gave him the Super Mario hat and glove set I found on clearance.  His tag read, "You are a super Valentine!"

Day three was church day.  We always have gum to take to church.  I picked up a couple of extra packs (no pun intended!).  Jacob has suddenly taken a strong liking to root beer.  Look what I just happened to find at the checkout line- root beer flavored gum!  :)  The tags read, "You are extra special, Valentine!"

I have loved picking up little things the last several months to use.  I actually have a couple of things from last year that didn't get used.

Switching gears:
Warning:  Some images may be disturbing to some viewers.  Viewer discretion is advised.  :)

Okay, I promised I would share some images from the hog butchering at a friend's house yesterday.  We butchered her two pigs.  Her husband had actually killed and skinned the pigs the day before, so the hard part for me was already done when I arrived yesterday morning.  I was a little late getting there and one pig was already being cut into pieces,

 but the other one was still hanging.

There was only one of us who had ever done this before and knew what she was doing (the one in the gray sweatshirt).  She was so patient with us!

She took the bacon and three hams to the butcher just down the road for smoking.  The very thick chops were put in the freezer.  I wish I had counted how many there were.  The rest, we cut off the bone to make ground pork, sausage and pepperoni.

This was the second grinding of the meat.
Spices were then added to the different bowls for two different sausages and one type of pepperoni.

The the casings were prepared and stuffed.

The casing, sheep intestines, ready to begin.
I tried to load the video of the sausages as they were made, but my blog skills are still lacking, I suppose!  :)

One of the finished sausages!
As tired as I was upon leaving, I had to stop and snap a couple of shots of my view all day.  This area is so pretty!

Ahhh!  What a happy day it was!  It was so good to be able to talk so long about so much with my friends, my sisters in Christ!  It was so fun to relax, laugh, and learn!  This my friends is what we call the simple life.  My greatest joy of the day?  The ladies all laughing halfway through the day when I pointed out I had on pants and not a skirt with my veil.  Only one, who had told me to wear pants to begin with, noticed.  The other ladies were so interested in me, us, and what we were doing that no one had even looked.  (And you know what?  Not one single one would have cared if they had!)  Most of my life I have spent dodging eyes that have looked at me from head to toe before one decided to speak or not. Not many have ever bothered to see the smile that I offered first.   It is such a blessing to be among those who look at me, the true me, and not my clothes to see if I suite their standards.  I am loved and accepted because I am a child of God, and I have seen that same love displayed to the saved and unsaved alike.  Isn't that that the best way to reflect God's love?  This is how I have always tried to treat others, and it is so good to be among others who feel and do the same.  We serve such an awesome God!  I thank him so often for sending me to my new church, my new home.

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Valentine's Surprise Day 1 2013

It's HHEErrreee!  Today is the first day of our 14 days of Valentines for 2013.  My sweet little girl has been asking how many days are left until February first for a month now.  She has been so excited to see this day arrive!  You would think it is Christmas all over again!  She says, "Mama, I just love getting up and coming in here to see what you left us and reading the notes."  For every bit of challenge there is in her personality, there is more sweet, excited, pure innocence.  I love that little girl!

Today I left a Cutie, a small, seedless, easy to peel orange, with a tag that read, "You are my 'Cutie' Valentine!"  At least I didn't start this year out with sugary treats!  :)  After she had started to eat the cutie, Alissa asks, "When will you give us candy?"  Lol!  That girl just won't do!

I had planned to let the kiddos help me do a little Valentine decorating today, but we were just too busy to get to it.  Tomorrow we will be going to a hog butchering, so I doubt it will get done then either.  Maybe we'll do it Sunday after church.  Did you do anything for your family today?  Please feel free to share!

Yes, you read that right in the paragraph above- a hog butchering.  I have never been to one, but in the church I attend which has a strong Amish/Mennonite background  (the church itself is non-denominational), their are some to whom butchering their own chickens and hogs is second nature.  I am going to learn.  I can't wait to share the experience with you!  Have I ever mentioned I simply ADORE my church family?  Oh, do I ever!!!  I have never been so happy and blessed in my life!  I think I will go trim my fingernails and charge my camera battery!  :)

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!