Wednesday, December 8, 2010

No Caffeine

So I kicked caffeine out of my diet, finally. It took that slow weaning process that I talked about in an earlier post, and now I am walking proof that it can be done without getting a major headache and feeling dead for about two days. Yeah!

I will say, however, that I am pretty tired throughout my days now. No amount of water perks me up, and sadly I have been falling prey to the afternoon sugar rush of baking cookies. It is also Christmas time, and I love a good cookie recipe to keep me busy so that I don't doze off during nap time.

So today I found a new recipe for a cookie called 'Peppernuts' and they are amazing. Yes, they do have pepper in them, no, they contain no nuts, but they are small, like nuts and you can pop a whole handful in your mouth at once. They look a little bit like dog treats, but taste about like a gingerbread cookie, minus the molasses. You sort of get the picture, and wow, the recipe makes a ton!

The trick is you make this big ball of dough, you chill it in the fridge, get it out, start making little snakes with it, chop the snakes up into little bits, and then you bake them.  It is a lot of very little cookies that you get in the end. My whole batch isn't even done yet, I'm only about 1/3 of the way through my ball of dough, but I almost have a big Tupperware full of the little bite-size yummies. So fun.

So what am I going to be doing with all my new little peppernuts? Probably sharing a large portion of them at the Mom's Gathering Ornament Exchange thingy tomorrow night. What better to feed a bunch of hungry mommies, cookies from 7-9pm! And decaf coffee. Perfectly wonderful.

If anyone wants the recipe, go check out Enjoy.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Practical Meal Planning

Ok, here are some more practical tips that I have been gleaning from for years, so that I can become a better wife, mother, and servant in my home. Almost none of these are original to my own imagining, I have gleaned them from far wiser women than me, and so can take little credit for them, but they have been a huge help to me.
Now, I will give a quick background on what my life looks like and why. I have two children and a husband who loves to eat healthy but a the same time, he is not a salad type of guy ( he likes salads, just not as the main part of the meal). So as our budget dwinded when we became missionaries and dwindled again when we started having kids, I have had to become creative in our meal planning.
I run a pretty tight ship in our house as far as finances go, so at this point, one of the only flexible items in our budget is our food allotment, and it still isn't much.
For health, financial, and practical reason we have cut down our meat meals to just two a week. That helps out a lot in the cost areana, and I am working on incorporating more beans (and therefore more gas-x) into our diets (cheap, filling, healthy).
I'm also working toward a weekly meal plan with only a few variations in the mix that allow for some excitement, it makes my life easier, keeps my kids more grateful, less picky, and keeps the question of, what's for dinner? answered, for the most part.

Now, it does help that my husband fasts regularly, so I am not always having to cook with him in mind, it is quite simple to cook for me and two kids, nothing fancy, simple quick easy.
So for example, my weekly meal plan may look something like this:
Monday - egg night (usually we have a quiche or if I'm late getting started, scrambled eggs and toast)
Tuesday - crock pot meat meal (something stew-ish or soup-ish)
Wednesday - beans and something (beans and rice or beans and corn)
Thursday - usually we eat out that night at a friends house (we love Thursdays, thanks Harrigan Family for feeding us!!!)
Friday - crock pot meal (usually not meat, beans or something)
Saturday - possibly left overs or something thrown together like tuna noodle casserole
Sunday - main meat meal of the week, the showcase meal of the week!

Well, if my husband is reading this, he is probably wondering who is writing this, because so far I haven't been keeping to this meal plan so well. The truth is, I'm actually not that good at cooking beans from dried beans. They always split and explode and are nothing but mush when it is time to eat them. Until recently I didn't know what I was doing wrong. Well, I always use the quick soak method, and from what I hear the overnight soak yields better results. So starting this week, this is our newest version of the weekly meal plan.

Second meal planning staple besides bean is frozen veggies which I buy lots of when they are cheap, mostly organic, but some things are not. I also buy a lot of them from Sam's Club in bulk, which is more cost effective, but soon we will be switching to Costco because they have more organic choices in general. I try to cook a veggie at every meal, green beans, corn, lima beans, carrots, peas.

Another way I keep our food budget under control is I don't buy cereal, I make granola once a week and we put that in our yogurt and eat it with Almond Milk on it. Yum. To buy healthy cereal anyways, its about the same thing as granola in most cases.

Next, I always make a list when I am sitting down and calm and rational. I go thru my meal plan for the week, and think about breakfast, lunch and dinner, and try to buy only two snack items (example, pretzel sticks and triscuits). Then, when I go shopping, I stick to the list unless it is a necessity that I just forgot, like milk, bread, butter, etc. Or if I find a great sale on a  staple like rice, butter, bread, etc.

I try not to shop with my kids too, it cuts down on the 'I want' syndrome that they are so prone to these days.

I also only shop once a week (achievement of this goals is actually at about 60% of the time). If we run out of something in that time frame, unless it is a dire need, I don't replentish it until my next shopping trip. So if we run out of orange juice, we don't buy more until I do my regular shopping again. If I want to make homemade bread, but I'm out of flour, then I'm not making bread that day. Sometimes it really bums me out, because my husband goes on little kicks sometimes and eats a whole lot of something that I thought I had enough of to last and then we just don't have it until I go again. But this rule saves on money, gas and time. It is worth going with out for a few days.

Last meal plan idea that has helped me a lot. Not buying a lot of pre-made things, but setting aside time in my week to cook up some things that can be eaten throughout the week. Like my granola, I make it once a week and we munch on it until it is gone, I make a big batch of cookies and that is our desserts, or I buy a bunch of fresh fruit and cut it all up in one day and have it clean, stored and ready to pull out and serve as snacks. Crackers are my only downfall because I haven't learned how to make my own yet. I love me a rosemary and olive oil triscuit with some cream cheese on it! Yum, and so do my children.

Well, so those are my ideas, and some of them are just goals in the process of being instituted into daily living, but I think they will help me to serve my family better, especially since I work part time outside my home. Anything to help save time and money is well worth the initial investment it takes to make it habit.
Be blessed today and take a look at your meal plan, see if it could use any of these ideas to make it run smoother, and if anyone reading this has a homemade cracker recipe, let me know, I would love to have it!!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Reality of a Two Year Old

Well, she is almost three, but she is the most challenging little person I've ever had to deal with on a daily basis. Which isn't saying much, because I never babysat in high school, and was not prone to seek out the company of small children until finally I became pregnant and had my own. Now I love, love, love kids, especially my own, but some days, it is just plain hard.
Kins is my oldest and I must say a pretty good combination of Ken and I's strong-willed, stubbornness. When she came along, I felt unprepared, and then she was pretty easy until she hit about the 18 month mark. Now she is a busy little girl with lots of her own ideas and everyday I feel like it is a battle of the wills.
Why am I just now writing about all if this? Well, sometimes when I write a really good blog about how the Lord is speaking in my life and changing my heart, it is soon followed by a reality check of how most of my days really go. I certainly have amazing good times with the Lord, but I live a life interrupted. I am constantly on demand, to help dress my children, clean up their messes, wipe the little potty-trainer, look at the most recent masterpiece that has been created, and kiss a few boo-boos. None of those things can wait more than about 2 seconds before my three year old starts to melt down.
Although we work hard on training her in patience, it doesn't always mean she catches on right away. So even when I do have a sky high moment of revelation or insight into the heart of God, I still have to come home and change poopy diapers and figure out what to cook for dinner. Life still goes on, it is just enhanced by what the Lord is pouring into me.
So, if you are having great quiet times with the Lord, and having personal revelation on the scriptures but still come home and go thru the motions of life, feeling somehow less spiritual doing it, don't worry. You are not alone in that feeling.
I just try to remember that what the Lord is doing on the inside is bound to show up on the outside at some point. If I am honest, most of the time I wonder if I actually possess any of the fruits of the Spirit, or if they are just a fleeting dream. Plenty of the time I lack patience, self control, gentleness, and joy.
Ugh, it is so hard to keep it in my mind that He sees me all the time, if I kept that in mind, I might do a bit better, maybe...
It goes the other way to though. Sometimes I work really hard to scrub up all the crusty food that is under my  one year olds chair. I scrape and scrape, but by bedtime a new layer is already in place and I think to myself, why bother, no one even got to see the results of my hard work. But God saw that too, and so I should be willing to do it again even if no person ever sees it.
Wow, challenging, I know. Even as I write these words I cringe because I hate, hate, hate scraping crusty food off my floors. But if I do it as unto the Lord there is a reward, no matter how 'un-spiritual' I feel as I do it. Loving the Lord is not always a feeling, in fact, most of the time it isn't a feeling, it is obedience to His word.
So even when I am living my everyday life, chasing around my kids, cleaning my house, cooking, and working in the garden, it is pleasing to the Lord. Even the boring things please the Lord because my life is one that I daily surrendered to the Lord, not just the exciting mountain top moments, but all of my life.
The exciting times with the Lord are fun, but I would guess-timate that they are less than 20% of my average day. That doesn't mean the Lord dislikes the way I spend the rest of my time. He loves every part of my day, even my totally average days, and He likes your average days too! Be encouraged, and do all you do as unto the Lord.
And when I do completely blow it and sin in my lack of self control or anger toward my children, then when I repent, the Lord says its as if He never saw my sin. He wipes it away, and I am clean before His eyes once more. So another tip, when you do sin, repent quickly. Makes for a better day in general.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My Bridegroom King

Sometimes I have dreams, all sorts of dreams. If I am honest, some are seemingly just non-sense, maybe too much pizza before bed, but others are amazingly detailed and show me specials ways I need to pray for people and situations. Every so often, I also feel I receive warning dreams for friends and individuals, pretty rare though.
But then there are dreams like last night. Dreams of romance with the King of Kings, and pictures of His deep, deep love for me. Oh, how I love these dreams. I wake up almost intoxicated with love for my Lord. It is like the Lord paints a mental picture of His word for me to experience.
In this particular dream, it started out with me being poor and not particularly attractive girl, but I was taken to see a Prince. Another girl in the dream thought I would make a perfect wife for the Prince. I was so ashamed of my poverty and appearance though, I tried to run away from him, not believing he could actually love me.
He chased after me though, and when I was the most ashamed of my condition, he offered to take me away with Him.
He took me to a special upper room that was just for us, and he only had eyes for me. He looked at me as if I was the most beautiful woman on the earth, and even when we were in a busy marketplace together, he only had eyes for me. He would talk with others, but he would never take his eyes off me. By the end I was lovesick for Him, so much so, that I could barely breath. He had won me over with His extravagant love for me.
When I woke up I still felt like I couldn't breath for all the love that was stirred in my heart. It felt like my chest was constricted, like when you're a little kid trying to go to sleep the night before Christmas, the excitement makes your breath come in short little spurts.
My stomach was in an uproar with butterflies too.
Like when you are young and a boy kisses you for the first time and you felt like you wanted to fly away and the 'butterflies' are so strong you fear you might throw up. Well it was like that, but x10!
I don't even really know how I'll get thru the day today, for all the residual passion I'm feeling. The Lord loves me, He really loves me, even in my weak and imperfect condition! Oh, what truth made real to me in a new way!
It gives new meaning to the scriptures, 'We love Him, because He first loved us.' (1 John 4:19)
And if you have ever read the first part of Song of Songs in the Bible, it pretty much sums up my dream.

Now I felt like writing about this particular dream because I think that most Christians in general find it hard to view God this way. Jesus is called the Bridegroom King for a reason, and Jesus is God in the flesh. He will be coming back one day to rule and reign on the earth too, and when He does, those who love Him, will be gathered together and offered to Him as a pure and spotless bride.
What a wonderful picture for our hearts to try and comprehend! If you are having trouble picturing God this way, then I suggest studying the Song of Songs and asking the Holy Spirit to make it real to your heart. He can do it. One way or another, He can make His Words come alive to those who love Him! Be blessed.

**Disclaimer, if you are unfamiliar with the idea of Jesus as a Bridegroom and have not heard of His love described as such, it is a Biblical picture of His true passion for us, but it is not a 'sexual' passion. It is a passion of heart. Don't take my dream to some weird, sexual place, it was nothing of the sort. It was pure and beautiful.