Monday, June 30, 2008

Automobile Tires

THIS IS A MUST SEE for every family that owns, drives or rides in an automobile ...

My friend, Nichol, over at Heart4MyHome has posted a 20/20 news clip regarding the purchasing of what the consumer thinks are new auto tires. Although the tires have never been used, often times they sit on shop storage shelves for years. Over time the rubber on the tires age and they become VERY unsafe. These "old" tires have resulted in numerous FATAL accidents. Here's the link:


I've been checking out several other blogs out on the Web and have noticed that many ladies often post their weekly supper menus. I don't know if I'll post ours on a regular basis, but thought it would be fun for today. So here's what's on our supper menu for the next two weeks. Yes, two weeks = fewer grocery shopping days ...

Sloppy Joe's, Carrot Sticks (healthier than French fries)
Chicken Spaghetti, Cucumber & Tomato Salad
Chef Salads, Crackers
Roasted Chicken, Garlic Roasted Potatoes, Salad
Beef Enchiladas, Charo Beans
Crock Pot Chicken, Brown Rice, Salad
Taco Salads (using leftover enchilada meat & leftover charo beans)

Chicken Fried Rice (using leftover roasted chicken & leftover brown rice), Egg Drop Soup, Almond Cookies
Sausage, Peppers & Potato Skillet (using leftover garlic potatoes), Dilly Cucumber Salad
Lasagna, Salad, Garlic Bread
Sausage & Broccoli Quiche, Carrot Salad
Homemade Pizzas
Tuna Casserole, Green Beans, Carrot Salad
Chef Salads, Beer Bread (during cooler months I usually make a crock pot of soup on Sundays, but it's too hot for that right now)

Remember, planning out meals saves money by keeping us away from the restaurant "to go" menus and allowing us to take advantage of "sale items" at the grocer. It also saves time. When we have a plan, we don't find ourselves starring at the cupboards for 20 minutes wondering, "What can I cook for dinner?"

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"You've Come Along Way, Baby"

WOW! This photo represents a lot. (No, I'm not going to blog about how much my seriously outdated kitchen needs to be remodeled ... and just in case anyone out there feels the uncontrollable urge to remind me, please be confident that as you speak, I am hanging my head and repeating, "yeah, I know, I know ...").
This entry will actually be about "letting go". Letting go of stress. Letting go of fear. Letting go of ... CONTROL. With just one look at this photo by my older children, they will be able to tell you exactly what I'm talking about.

I worked outside the home for 17 years. Not just one full-time job mind you - there were times when I worked two full-time jobs OR a full-time job and a part-time job. Why, I've even been known to work two full-time jobs along with a part-time job. Basically, I worked all the time - anywhere from 60-105 hours per week outside the home. Factor in commute time and I was only home long enough check on my sleeping children, catch less than 5 hours sleep for myself, then get the children off to school the next morning. The weekends? I usually worked things out so I could be home Saturday and Sunday mornings - this afforded me time to clean, do some laundry, grocery shop and cook a week's worth of meals before racing off to one of my jobs. Consequently, I had to run a "tight ship". Otherwise, there was the risk that absolute chaos would break out and the end result would be a huge mess that I did not have the time, and especially not the energy, to deal with.

Six years ago a miracle happened and I was able to stop being a part-time everything and begin working on becoming a full-time wife and mother. Five years ago, we decided to begin homeschooling JP, and as they started growing up, we decided to also home school OG and EJ. Now, don't be silly by thinking all this has been an easy transition. When a woman works away from home like a insane maniac out of necessity for 17 years - you know the cliche, "old habits die hard".

Six years ago I would have never dreamed I'd be able to let go ( ... don't have time to even think about a mess) and allow my 9 & 6 year old children to cook breakfast - all by themselves. Yep! without help from mom. As you can see from the photo, they were successful in creating a pretty good mess. But what you can't see from the photo is the self confidence they've gained by successfully completing this task completely on their own, without help from mom. You didn't see the pride in their faces when they asked me, "How do you like your egg sandwich?" "Did we make it the way you like it, mommy?" "Mmm, we sure are good cooks!"

AB and I recently had an opportunity to talk. I'd mentioned the contrast between my relationship with him and my relationship with the younger children. He questioningly implied that maybe I was disappointed in him. I had to explain that I am not disappointed in him. I am disappointed that I missed getting to know him as a child and that he missed getting to know me during his childhood. I am disappointed that he didn't get to make a mess in the kitchen. I am disappointed that I never heard him say, "Mmm, I sure am a good cook!" I am disappointed that I didn't get to spend all the crazy and messy days of childhood with him.

We can't go back and change the circumstances that caused me to have to work like an insane maniac. We don't get a do over. But, we do get today ... I have to go check in on OG & EJ - they are now "cleaning" the kitchen.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Biblical Submission Part 2

A few years ago when the Lord began dealing with me in the area of submission, a friend of mine gave me a book written by Debi Pearl, entitled Created To Be His Help Meet. Now, if you decide to ever purchase and read this book for yourself, I will add a disclaimer right up front. This book is not for the faint at heart. It WILL step on your toes and in some situations it may even stomp on your heart. However, Chapter 8, Wisdom to Understand Your Man, was of great assistance to me in the beginning of my Biblical submission journey.

The key point Mrs. Pearl makes in this chapter is, "Wisdom is knowing what you "bought" when you married that man, and learning to adapt to him as he is, not as you want him to be." Ouch! This is a very large pill for many wives in today's society.

Trying to change our husbands into what we would like them to be proves to be disastrous. Unfortunately, this is the primary reason for today's 50%, and climbing, divorce rate. Sociology, and life experience, teaches us that in EVERY relationship there is a dominant personality, either because one person naturally takes charge, OR because one is in an authoritative position (ie. supervisor, parent, older sibling, more tenure, etc.). Just as with the church, God designed marriages to have a leader. Ephesians 5:21-33 likens marriage to Christ and the church. The leader in the church is Jesus Christ, in marriages it is the husband. Genesis 2:18 says, "And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him." My Random House Dictionary defines help meet as: "a helpful companion, especially a spouse". Women were designed by God to be a helpful companion to man. Please note, the Bible does not say, It is not good that the woman should be alone; I will make her an help meet for her. It specifically speaks of woman being created to help the man. Nor does it say that God created woman inferior to man, it says God created woman to help man because it was not good for him (the man) to be alone. Women were created to co-exist with man. Women were created to help and assist him. This makes him the leader in the marriage relationship.

When we apply a co-existing attitude to our marriages with the understanding that ALL relationships have a leader and God created wives to be the husband's helper, then we are able to assist our husbands in being the GREAT men that God created them to be. As wives, we must remember that our husband was created and designed by God with his specific dominant characteristic. Therefore, it is futile for any woman to try and change a man. She will either destroy her marriage or, if her husband stays married out of moral obligation, she will successfully destroy her husband's confidence, drive, and mental health. Of course, both of these disastrous outcomes affect any children in all sorts of dysfunctional ways.

If a woman desires to be all that God created her to be - praised by her husband, children, neighbors; hardworking; good manager; good business person; respected; strong; kind to others; spiritual; wise; productive; preserved and protected - she must realize that stepping into her role as a help meet is the first step in acquiring these traits. She must repent for her of rebellion in trying to reach these goals on her own. Remember God created man and woman to co-exist. Just as a man can not attain the heights God created him to reach without the woman, neither can a woman attain the heights God created her to reach without the man. When we reject God's way we fight, struggle and experience failure after failure. Sure we may see an occasional victory but at what cost? What is the health of our marriage and family relationships? Do we hide a broken heart and disappointments or regrets? However, when women step into the help meet role God created us to partake in, He is then able to use our husbands, families and neighbors to elevate us to greater heights than any of us have ever imagined.

I have a desire to be praised by my husband, children and neighbors. I have a desire to be hardworking, a good manager, possess good business sense, respected, strong, kind to others, spiritual, wise and productive. I have a desire to be valuable enough to be preserved and protected. I have a desire to be a godly and virtuous woman as described by the Bible.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Modesty Survey

Hey Parents!

I just stumbled across a web-site that conducted a survey regarding women's clothing. Only males were surveyed. What did they find modest? What did they find immodest? What did they find to be "stumbling blocks"? Here's your chance as a parent to get a pulse on what today's young man is thinking with regard to your daughter's clothing. Some parents may also be able to use this as a tool to help guide their daughter's many fashion choices. In my personal opinion, when discussing clothing choices with our daughters, it would also do us good to reinforce Matthew 5:28 - "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery WITH (emphasis mine) her already in his heart". Here's the link:

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Biblical Submission Part 1

I know that submitting to one's headship, whether it be a husband, supervisor, parent, the Bible, etc. is not popular in today's culture. Despite popular opinions and behaviors, through my own trials and victories I have learned that God's way will always bring abundant blessings and the "world's" way almost always leads to destruction. Even on the few occasions that the world's way doesn't end in destruction, one still misses the abundant blessing of God which ALWAYS overshadows any worldly reward.

I find it very sad that, today, many folks view the Biblical submission of wives as a form of abuse and/or slavery. I often ask myself how could mankind have bought into such a huge lie? When did so many stop reading the Bible? When one reads what God's word has to say about women and wives submitting to their husbands, the virtues of a Godly woman and the rewards of submission and virtue, I find myself asking, "How could any woman not want to be submissive and virtuous?" (I am not talking about eternal rewards, I'm talking about rewards in the here and now while one is still on this earth). Proverbs 31:28-31 tells us, "Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates." This is only one of many passages that hints at the abundant blessings that await submissive, virtuous wives.

I know many women will attempt to site Ephesians 5:25-31 on how the husband is instructed to love the wife as Christ loved the church and gave His life for it. They then conclude that since their husband doesn't seem to love them in this way, they are then excused from submission or proceed with a "tit for tat" attitude. However, consider for just a moment how you respond to those who don't respect you, don't encourage you, ridicule you, are not loyal to you, are not proud of you, mock you, are resentful of you, rebellious of your position, resistant to your suggestions or ideas, or treat you with scorn. Do you willing and unabashedly love them as Christ loved the church, willing to give your life for it? Giving up your life for that sort of person is pretty difficult to imagine.

Now, let's consider those who carry respect for you, are always encouraging toward you, are more loyal than a country hound dog, have an abundance of pride for your efforts, they are never resentful or rebellious of your position, they listen and carefully consider your ideas and suggestions, they don't make fun of you or treat you with scorn. Wow! to have that sort of respect and admiration - how could you not love someone like that more than you love life? Proverbs 31:11-12 tells us, "The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life." If wives would stop listening to the lies of this world and begin honoring, our husbands couldn't help but love us they way Christ loved the church. A positive response may take longer from some men than it will from others, but in time, a positive response will come.

There is always the argument that women have fought long and hard for equality. Why would we want to be put back into a position of inferiority? Again, I wonder when was it that we all stopped reading our Bibles? Absolutely nowhere in the Bible does it elude that a woman is inferior to a man. She may be responsible for different tasks and roles, but never is she inferior. I will again point to Proverbs 31:13-27, "She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants' ship; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the friut of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy, She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness." From this passage we find that a virtuous and submissive woman is hardworking, has excellent managerial skills, is strong, has good business sense, is kind to others, spiritual, respected, wise and productive. Please, tell me how those qualities are inferior? I've never met a man who didn't strive to achieve the very same qualities.

Again opponents would argue, "But in some areas we are actually equal to men, why would we want to turn back now?" My answer is because the Bible tells us that a virtuous woman is of GREAT worth. Proverbs 31:10, "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies." Hmm, Wow! Price far above rubies. A virtuous and submissive woman is valuable. Anyone who owns a valuable piece of jewelry takes steps to preserve and protect it. We women are valuable and deserve preservation and protection. There was once a time in history when women were revered as special, unique and worth preserving. We've all heard the old stories of valiant men risking life and limb to protect women. Where has that gone? Today, we have men and women fighting side by side in combat. (please do not confuse my comment with a disrespect for the women who have served or are currently serving in our nation's military - I am eternally grateful to ALL who have served our nation). Yes, women have proven they are just as capable as men, but from society's standpoint, it has only diminished our value. In a crisis situation men no longer shout, "Women and Children FIRST, Women and Children FIRST". For those who live in the south, Hurricane Katrina was a grim reality of "I couldn't let that woman or child go first, if I had, I'd be the one dead now."

I have a desire to be praised by my husband, children and neighbors. I have a desire to be hardworking, a good manager, possess good business sense, respected, strong, kind to others, spiritual, wise and productive. I have a desire to be valuable enough to be preserved and protected. I have a desire to be a godly and virtuous woman as described by the Bible.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Potato Cakes

My family is from the south. I was born and reared in the south. My husband comes from a family of mid-west farmers - but not to fret, he came to the south as soon as he could get here. Many northerners often don't understand why so many folks love the south. I can tell them why - the food. Yep! It's as simple as that. Southern food is like nothing else on this earth. When one eats it, it's like eating bites of heaven. Just ask AB. The one thing he absolutely LOVES about coming home for a visit is the food. And he knows I'll cook from dawn to dusk to satisfy his cravings for southern cooking. Potato cakes are not only one of my family's all time favorite southern dishes, they are also very economical and easy to make. Here's the recipe: 3-4 c. cold left over mashed potatoes
1 c. kernel corn, frozen or cut from the cob
1 lg. green onion, diced
2 c. cheese, grated (any flavor)
1 c. all-purpose flour
salt & pepper to taste

Using your hands mix all ingredients well, like you would for hamburger patties.

Form handfuls of potato mixture into balls and shape into patties. Fry in butter, bacon grease, lard or olive oil until golden on one side, flip and continue cooking until other side is also golden. (For an authentic southern flavor, use bacon grease and fry in a cast iron skillet. Yes, cast iron does make a difference in the flavor).
Makes 8-10 potato cakes. Serve as a side dish or add a salad for a light meal. Variation: add 1 c. diced ham or 1/2 c. crumbled bacon.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I'm Back!!

Several weeks ago, I sustained an injury and was not as mobile as I usually am. Thus, I got behind on several of my more physically demanding chores. This past week, I felt much better and have been healing up so nice that I decided it was time to get caught up on some of the things I had been forced to neglect. Of course, since I was working on other things I did not have the time to keep my blog updated. Well, I am caught up, for now, and back on-line. I've had several things rolling around in my head and I hope my upcoming entries will be a blessing to you.
May God Abundantly Bless You,
Mrs. B

Tomato Dumplings

I love to garden. However, this year, I planted only 6 tomato plants. Six plants are plenty for good summer tomato eating but not quite enough for "putting up", aka canning. So, what do we do when we have more tomatoes than we can eat, but not enough to can? Besides spaghetti sauce and tomato cucumber salads, there's always tomato dumplings. I learned how to make tomato dumplings from my Aunt J when I was a girl. I absolutely love them!

You'll need:
4 large tomatoes
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 tsp. dried basil OR 1 tbls. fresh chopped basil
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tbls. shortening OR lard
3 oz. milk To remove the skins from fresh tomatoes, place them in boiling water until the skin cracks. Transfer them to ice water. Slip the skins off and cut out the core. Coarsely chopped the skinned tomatoes.
Place coarsely chopped tomatoes, diced onions, and seasonings in a heavy pot. Stir well and cook over medium heat until onions are clear and "stew" begins to boil.
While the tomatoes are stewing, mix up the dumplings by combining the flours, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives cut in the shortening. Stir in the milk until well mixed. Drop dumpling mixture by teaspoonfuls onto the boiling stew. Reduce heat, cover and allow to "steam" for 10 minutes.
Serve with a slice of cornbread for a quick, frugal and very tasty dinner or add a salad for a light supper.
Makes 4 servings, recipe doubles well

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Gaining an Objective View

Recently, I have been reading a lot about Christian women and modesty. I am not writing today to debate or even suggest what I would define as modesty, but rather to address the problem today's Christian woman has in finding modest clothing that is complimentary to her shape, skin tones and personal style. I have never personally met a woman who did not care about her appearance to one degree or another. Admittedly, some women tend to focus on their appearance too much, but that is another topic.

Much to my husband's delight, I am one of those ladies who abhor shopping. However, when I go out for supper with my husband, to a social gathering or even to church on Sunday morning, I do not want to look like, as my grandmother used to say, an orphan. Thus, I must occasionally go shopping. I average about once every 18 months and will purchase 2 or 3 inter-changeable outfits.

Last year I had an occasion to need a couple new outfits and on a whim I found the most useful shopping tool, ever! Well, actually two tools - a friend AND a digital camera! I didn't take the friend to help with suggestions, I brought her along to operate the digital camera. (Don't worry, at the end of the day I did buy her lunch - after all, photography is a very labor intensive task and it was the least I could do.)

The results were AMAZING! The digital camera gave me an instant objective image of how I looked in any particular outfit. I was instantly able to see if the colors complimented my skin tone and hair color. I instantly saw whether I looked fat or frumpy. And, I had a full-length objective view of whether the outfit was modest for my figure and was complimentary for my hair style. I don't know what it is about a photograph, but I found it really gives a more objective view than any mirror.

Because I KNOW I look nice in them, the clothes I bought last year are still my favorites. After that shopping trip, I received, for the first time in my life, compliments from others regarding my appearance. Who would ever imagine a simple little digital camera would solve all my shopping dilemmas? Now, hmm, if I could only find an equally simple solution to housework ...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Frugal Living

In today's American culture of materialism and disposable everything, from diapers to relationships, many folks find it very difficult to live frugally. Our media has convinced us that the newer, bigger, and prettier is better and is always a NEED. As a society, we've become brainwashed, in a since, and lost the ability to distinguish the differences between needs and wants. For example, after many years of use our DVD/VCR combination became worn out and was no longer reliable. My children informed me that we "needed" a new one. I responded to the children by reminding them that a DVD/VCR thingy is a want - not a need. I reminded them that food, shelter, clothing and transportation to the job that provides money to purchase the food, shelter and clothing are needs - everything else is a want. I feel it is my duty as a parent to point these things out.

In my world frugal living simply means learning to be a good steward of the blessings God has given us. This is translated into the ability to prevent wastefulness. In my quest to continue being a good steward I ask myself one simple question, "In what areas of my life do I have waste?"

time management - Where am I wasting time? / Where am I not being productive?
errands - Where I am wasteful with vehicle fuel mileage/wear & tear or time?
meals - What, when and why are we throwing away food?
home - Do we have rooms/areas of our home that are regularly unused?
property/yard - Is my yard/property utilized to benefit the welfare of my family and neighbors?
income - What are the reasons behind our purchasing decisions?
excessive possessions - Why?
care for loved ones - Do I take my loved ones for granted? Why or why not?

When we examine and honestly answer the above questions, we are then ready to begin the road to frugal living, aka - good stewardship. My family and friends often refer to me as "squeaky tight" when it comes to spending money. I've come to realize they think this because I view anything, and I mean absolutely anything, beyond the most basic food, shelter and clothing as abundance.

God has been very good to our family. Although we've never been "rich" by America's standards, our home is small - but I remember a time when I didn't have a home; our children have never suffered from starvation or malnutrition, but I remember a time when all I ate was one meal every other day; our children have always had more than one pair of shoes and more than two changes of clothes, but I remember a time when everything I owned fit into one suitcase. I share that with a hope that others will realize, that although they may not have everything the television says they should have, or everything their neighbors have, if they have more than the most minimum of the basics they are abundantly blessed.

Which opens another area of good stewardship - appreciation and contentment. Once we come to terms with the fact that we are most indeed blessed, we can then have an appreciation for our abundance and begin enjoying the things we do have. I am so very appreciative of the home we have, the abundance and variety of foods we enjoy, the unending pile of laundry & the automatic washing machine to clean them, the comfort of air conditioning, the convenience of a second vehicle, the ease of indoor plumbing, the luxuries of computer/Internet, telephone/cell phones, the relationships I have with my family and friends, etc., etc. Who am I appreciative to? Well, God of course. God is the one who provides us with excellent health so we can enjoy our relationships and take advantage of the job opportunities He sends our way.

It is very difficult to exercise a frugal lifestyle, aka good stewardship, when we fail to to understand the differences between needs and wants AND when we fail to be appreciative of the abundance God has blessed us with.

If we are blessed with shelter, food, clothing, friends and family why are so many of us not content? Do we fail to see that the Lord is with us and He will never forsake us?
Hebrews 13:5 (KJV) says, "Let our conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have; for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Look Who Visited Our Garden This Morning

Isn't she delightful?

Feeding the "Girls"

Pictured at the right are a couple of the "girls". For quite a while we've worked out what we thought was a pretty good deal with them. They give us eggs in exchange for feed, water and a little house lined with hay. However, recently, the increased cost of their feed had caused me to wonder who was actually getting the better deal. We'd always kept them in a large enclosed coop because we worried Alice, our barking guardian, would try to eat them - like she used to do with the rabbits. However, a couple months ago one of the children left the coop door open, by accident. The girls saw their chance at new adventure and boy oh boy did they take it! After a bit of sniffing and a few minutes of chasing, Alice decided a few yard companions would suit her. Now, every morning we let them out into the yard. Since they now have lots of grass (yes, chickens eat grass), and more of a variety of bugs to scratch up, their feed consumption has been reduced by about half. Since they were raised in the hen house and coop they automatically go back into the hen house to lay eggs. In the evening I carry a bucket of kitchen scraps out to the coop and call them in for the night - they all come running. With more room to roam and a larger variety of bugs, the girls are definitely happier. With the feed bill reduced, I am again confident that we've struck a pretty good bargain with them.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Frittata is another economical and delicious dish. It can be made ahead of time and is great for re-heats in the microwave. Last night I made our frittata with fresh broccoli, fresh spinach, onions and feta cheese - but again, it can be adjusted to accommodate just about anything you may have on hand.

Here's the basic recipe:
4 c. chopped vegetables, (in the above photo I used broccoli, spinach and onions)
1 c. chopped ham, bacon, or chicken (optional - in the above photo I omitted meat)
1-2 c. shredded cheese(s) (optional - in the above photo I used feta)
6 eggs
1 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. milk

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9.5x11 casserole dish, set aside. In a large bowl combine the vegetables, meat and cheese(s). Evenly spread vegetable mixture into greased casserole. In a medium bowl whisk eggs until lemon color. Add flour and whisk until smooth. Add milk and stir until well combined. Evenly pour egg mixture over vegetable mixture. Bake 40-50 minutes or until eggs are set and top begins to brown. Allow to set 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.
makes 8-10 servings
note: if using canned vegetables, drain well; if you omit meat or cheese(s) you may want to increase the vegetable content.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Almond Fig Cake

This very moist cake, made with fresh figs, is terrific with a cup of hot tea or coffee.

1/4 c. butter (1 stick), softened
1-1/4 c. sugar, divided
1 egg
1-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
3/4 c. sliced raw almonds, divided
3 c. chopped fresh figs, divided
1/4 c. water
1 tsp. molasses
1 tbsp. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 8in. round cake pans. In a medium bowl, sift flours, salt and baking powder. In a large bowl, cream butter with 1 c. sugar until fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Add four mixture alternately with evaporated milk. Add vanilla and almond extract. Fold in 1 c. figs and 1/2 c. almonds . Divide into two prepared 8 in. round pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 5 minutes. Finish cooling on racks.

To make filling:
In a saucepan, combine 2 c. figs, 1/4 c. sugar, molasses, water and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer and cook until thickened, 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in 1/4 c. almonds. When cool, spread between layers and on top of cake. Garnish with sliced almonds, if desired.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The "Good News" in the News

Last week when we traveled to a small mid-west town for a family funeral, I had an opportunity to read the local newspaper. This small local newspaper contained a question and answer column by Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family. In the same newspaper I also read an article addressing teen aged kissing and boundaries written from a Biblical perspective. In the Around Town section, I found numerous notices for summer time Vacation Bible School activities that will be going on all summer.
I was blessed with the refreshing realization that the core of small town America is still grounded in conservative, Biblical principles. Despite what mainstream media portrays, many communities in our nation still carry the light of Jesus Christ. If you happen into any small towns during your summer vacation travels, pick up a local newspaper and enjoy a fresh perspective.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Americans & Generosity

Today I read an article by, syndicated columnist, Star Parker about America's generosity to the rest of the world. The numbers are absolutely astonishing. Despite all the negative news media about how much the rest of the world hates America, we are by far the world leader in giving. Here are a few 2006 (the most recently compiled) stats from her article ...

Aid From America to other Countries

Official U.S. Government Contributions 23.5 billion
Private Philanthropy Contributions 34.8 billion (that's 11.3 billion more than our own government!)
Religious Organizations Contributions 8.8 billion
Private Individual to Private Individual Contributions in other countries 62.7 billion

America's 2006 total aid to the rest of the world was 129.8 billion! We are the MOST GENEROUS nation on the planet. We rank #1 in giving.
The United Kingdom ranks #2 at only 20.7 billion - that number includes ALL their government, philanthropic, religious organizations and private individual to private individual added together.

If you'd like to read Ms. Parker's complete article, please click here

Information such as this makes it very difficult for me to belive that our nation is as hated by the rest of the world as our own media protrays.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Simple Living

What do the words simple living bring to your mind? Do you envision lounging upon a sunny beach with a cold glass of lemonade smelling the sea air and listening to the crashing waves, or maybe you see yourself gently rocking in a porch swing sipping a cup of mint tea while watching butterflies flutter from flower to flower? In my world lounging on a beach or rocking in the porch swing is called resting.

For me, simple living is, but not necessarily limited to, recognizing the gifts in everyday life by:

-eliminating non-productive busy-ness
-teaching our children where their food comes from by growing/raising/hunting it ourselves
-educating our children in a manner that is consistent with our spirituality/morals/values
-taking time to write a thank you note
-lovingly making/creating handmade gifts
-appreciating the smell of coming rain
-working to be frugal
-being a full-time keeper of my home
-encouraging others
-being thankful for our health, and our provision
-preparing and taking meals with my family daily
-keeping my mind free from clutter that may prevent me from hearing from God
-recognizing and appreciating that more than one pair of shoes or change of clothing, a home and food everyday is abundance
-being in the audience or bleachers when my children are performing or competing
-knowing that I have a savior, Jesus Christ, who has given me a hope and an eternal future

What do the words "Simple Living" mean to you?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Other Progeny Press' Farmer Boy Projects & Activities

OG's garden area
Making pancakesField trip to a grass-fed dairy farm
An embroidery lesson
She's also drawn a picture of the Wilder's farm based on written descriptions from the book, made an 1866 flag out of construction paper & listed the 36 states, studied maps of upstate New York (the setting for the story), and had three multi-paragraph writing exercises ... AND she's only half way through the book! All this fun ... no wonder we enjoy Progeny Press so much.

Delicious Homework - Homemade Ice Cream

Plain Vanilla Ice Cream

2 c. heavy cream (1 pint)
2 c. light cream (1 pint)
1 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt

Pour cream directly into cream can. Add sugar, vanilla and salt.

Stir with wooden spoon or spatula until sugar dissolves.
Insert cream can into ice bucket, layer ice and rock salt around cream can. Attach motor (yes, we cheat and have an electric ice cream maker) and process until motor sounds strained.
Scoop ice cream into storage container and put in freezer - work quickly as home made ice cream melts much faster than store bought.
Best part of home made ice cream ... licking the paddle!!!

My favorite literature curriculum for home schooling is Progeny Press. Why? Because from a child's perspective, it's fun! From an educator's perspective, it's not only comprehensive - it's also fun!

Each study guide covers vocabulary (can also supplement spelling curriculum), comprehension questions, analytical study of the genre, biblical applications and FUN projects. OG is currently reading Laura Ingles Wilder's Farmer Boy. She has really had some fun projects. Her most recent was making homemade ice cream - Yeah, I see the drool in the corner of your mouth.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Pantry is VERY Low ...

What can you cook for dinner? With gasoline, utility and food prices soaring, and relief far down the road, many folks have been having to cut-back everywhere. I've noticed the first thing that folks reduce is the grocery budget. However, come the end of the week, many find themselves with a very low pantry & wondering how they will feed their family with such a small amount of food. Pot Pie is a very inexpensive dish. It uses small amounts of a variety of items that are usually on hand AND it will fill up hungry stomachs.

Pot Pie

2 pie crusts (recipe can be found in homemade pie crust post)
1 c. cooked meat (chicken, beef, pork, canned tuna, etc.)
1 qt. chicken, beef or vegetable broth (can also use water and bullion)
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 small potato, peeled and diced
1/2 onion, diced
1/3 c. green beans, fresh, frozen or canned (drained)
1/3 c. peas, fresh, frozen, or canned (drained)
1/3 c. corn, cut from cob, frozen or canned (drained)
1 tsp. dried parsley OR 1 tbls. fresh parsley
1 tsp. salt OR to taste
1/2 tsp. dried dill OR 2 tsp. fresh dill
1/2 tsp. black pepper OR to taste
2 tbls. flour

In a heavy skillet combine meat, broth, vegetables and spices. Cook over medium heat until vegetables are tender (if using canned vegetables heat just until boiling). In a small bowl combine flour and just enough water to make a thin paste, aka: thickening (make sure to stir out ALL the lumps). Pour into boiling stew and stir until thickened. Remove from heat.

While stew is cooking pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and prepare two pie crusts. Place one in a deep dish pie plate. When stew is finished pour into pie crust. Top with second pie crust. Trim and crimp crust and cut steam slits in the top. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Note: 1 -2 cans of pre-mixed vegetables (drained) or 1 1/3 c. frozen pre-mixed vegetables can be substituted. Remember to match your broth to your meat (chicken broth w/ chicken or tuna, beef broth with beef or pork, vegetable broth may be used with any kind of meat). This dish is also GREAT meatless, just double the amount of vegetables added. If there is an ingredient you don't care for or don't have on hand you may omit it or you can substitute whatever you do have on hand. Also great for using up leftovers.

Homemade Pie Crust

With very little practice, homemade pie crust is simple to make and literally costs pennies on the dollar when compared to store bought. For a two crust pie, all you need is:
1 c. all-purpose flour (I use unbleached)
1 c. whole wheat flour (I always add as much whole wheat as possible - it's healthier)
1 tsp. salt (I use finely ground sea salt)
2/3 c. shortening (I use all vegetable, non-hydrogenated)
5-7 tbls. ICE water (very important - I literally add ice cubes to the water)

Combine flours and salt. Cut shortening with pastry cutter or two knives into flour and salt until mixture resembles fine crumbs, as pictured above.
Add water, one tablespoon at a time. Stir vigorously after each addition until dough begins coming together in bowl so you can form a ball. Turn the dough out onto a floured pastry cloth (the most valuable tool I have for making pies), divide dough in half to form two balls. Cover one with a damp cloth and flatten the other into a disk. Cover your rolling pin with cloth tube (an old, clean tube sock with the toe cut off works well) and begin rolling the dough to form a circle. Roll vertically, horizontally and even diagonally. If the shape isn't perfect, don't worry because you are going to trim and crimp the edges anyway.
When the dough is large enough to cover the bottom and sides of the pie plate, with a little bit of overhang, roll it up onto the rolling pin and unroll it over the pie plate. (If you are making a double crust pie, repeat the above procedures for the top crust. If not, just wrap the extra ball of dough in plastic and refrigerate for 1-2 days or freeze until you are ready to make another pie.) With your kitchen scissors, trim any excess dough to within 3/4 in. of pie plate, fold edges under and crimp. Remember to cut steam slits in the top crust if you are making a double crust pie. Follow individual pie recipe for oven temperature - usually somewhere between 350 degrees and 425 degrees.

Helpful Hint: If, while rolling dough out on pastry cloth you find it is cracking and not staying together then your dough is too dry. Simply return it to the bowl and knead in an additional 1-2 teaspoons ice water until it is pliable enough not to crack. On the other hand, if your dough is extremely sticky, then it is too wet. Again, return it to the mixing bowl and knead in 1-2 tablespoons flour until it is not sticky.