Thursday, May 31, 2012

Product Spotlight—Like a Mustard Seed

A few months ago I won a package of items from a wonderful website called, Like a Mustard Seed. I was excited that I not only won, but that I was going to be able to try some all natural products. I was not disappointed!

Green Bandage—This is a wonderful product that I have used on small cuts, scrapes, and bruises. We have had the opportunity to try this out many times even though I have all girls. They get into just as many scrapes and bruises as boys! It helps heal wounds faster and helps moisturize the skin as well to keep from itching as it heals.

Heal Up Lip balm—I especially like this lip balm. It instantly soothes chapped lips and encourages healing.

Sweet Cheeks Salve—I have used this on my little ones’ cheeks when they get dried out from the cold, wind, or even sunburn. I usually only have to apply it once for complete healing. There were a few times I had to apply twice, but that is still really good!

No B.O. Deodorant—I am in love with this! This is a product I bought after I received the package I had won. I have used a deodorant crystal for four years but had started getting a rash whenever I used it after shaving. My mother had bought, tried, and loved the No B.O. deodorant from Like a Mustard Seed so I figured if it is anything like her other products, I would love it as well and I was not disappointed! I have not had one day of even the slightest BO since starting to use it two months ago. Also, my rash disappeared within one week and hasn’t returned!

No Suds Baby Soak—This is a wonderful combination of herbs in a tea bag that you add to a bath for a baby (or you!). It smells wonderful and it relaxes even the crankiest of babies. I truly enjoyed using it for myself after a stressful day as well.

Warm Me Up Herbal Heat Pack—While this is intended to heat up in a microwave and use as a heat pack, I use it as an ice-pack. We don’t have a microwave, but it works wonderfully as an ice-pack. I keep it in the freezer and take it out anytime someone has a headache (it has a wonderful lavender scent) or a bruise or smashed fingers, etc. I have even just put it in bed with a child to help her relax and sleep better. When this came in the prize package I wasn’t sure I would actually use it, but I am glad I was proved wrong!

I highly suggest checking out the Like a Mustard Seed blog as well as her etsy shop. I don’t think you would be disappointed by any of her products!

Home: The Overlooked Mission Field

Mothers, our homes are our mission field!

For example, the more a missionary suffers and sacrifices for the sake of imparting the gospel to a people group, the more we extol his work, never once thinking the hardship to be a “sign” that he is doing the wrong thing. Again, this is true and right.
But if a mother suffers (pregnancy hardship?) and sacrifices (gives up comforts to afford to be home) so she can disciple (impart the gospel to ) her children (people group) (so they can go out and plant mission fields), take meals to her neighbors, send cards of encouragement to her hurting friend, or walk with her through a difficult marriage, she is somehow wrong, wasting time and/or invoking her own (and her family’s) hardship by her “irresponsible” choices.
 Read the entire post over at New Generation Cedar: Home: The Overlooked Mission Field

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Large Family Mothering: Should we put a limit on children?

Large Family Mothering: Should we put a limit on children?: We talk big, but our actions reveal the truth. Armed and dangerous? Confident in our promise of heaven after death, we fill our minds wi...

Friday, May 25, 2012

Psalm 121

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Spicy Ranch Chicken and Cauliflower Rice

I love when I find new recipes that are both easy and yummy! We tried two new recipes on Tuesday that were delicious and simple. I adapted a recipe for Spicy Ranch Chicken from Mennonite Girls Can Cook to use what I had available and then "winged" the Cauliflower Rice recipe.

Spicy Ranch Chicken

Mix up some ranch dressing by mixing minced onion, parsley, garlic powder, and dill with some buttermilk, yogurt, sour cream, mayo, and milk. I didn't measure anything so I can't give measurements. I know I ended up with 2 cups "liquid" with a combination of buttermilk and goat milk.

Pour 1/2 the ranch dressing in the bottom of a crock pot. Then pour in a 1/2 jar of salsa and mix together. Place in a whole chicken, in which you have cut off most of the skin, breast side down. Mix the remaining dressing and salsa and pour on top. Cook on high for one hour, then turn to low for 4-5 hours. Remove chicken and shred the meat. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a pan, whisk in 1/4 cup flour and then add sauce from crock pot (this thickens it a little). Add the shredded chicken back in and serve over rice.

Cauliflower Rice

Coarsely chop a head of cauliflower (we would have to do at least two for our family if we all had the cauliflower rice, but some of them had brown rice). Saute for a few minutes in some olive oil. Put a lid on and steam lightly for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add some butter and sea salt.

The Cauliflower Rice was a great substitute for regular rice for my daughter who needs to be grain free for a couple of weeks. I'm trying to increase my vegetables to aid in weight loss so I had the cauliflower rice as well. My youngest (1 year old) devoured it as well.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fulfilling Needs on a Budget

For two days, I’ve discussed about the need to help those around us who are in need. This might be the single mother, the widowed man down the street, the family with the father out of work, or it may even just be a family who is going through a difficult time right now. God calls the church to take care of the needs of its people and the people of the community.

Many people give the excuse that they don’t have enough money to take care of their own family let alone someone else, but that is a pretty poor excuse. I know of churches who say similar things when it is struggling to pay all of its bills. But if God calls us to do something, He will provide a way for us to do it.

While there are definitely more ways you can help, some ways our family has been able to help those in need around us even when we have to rely on God to help us pay our bills sometimes are:

Share We’ve had people come and pick green beans from our garden, or given a dozen eggs, or even given goat milk to a friend who needed some to feed her animals. We have also given canning jars to a friend who needed them. Even though I “might” have needed them later, we knew God would provide and He did—the very next day!

Barter You might think this is a way to get your needs met, but it can also be helpful to someone else. They might need their car fixed, but they don’t have the cash to pay a mechanic right now, but they do clean houses. You could have them clean your house in exchange for working on their vehicle. Be creative with this idea. Sometimes people don’t want “hand-outs” but they are willing to work for something. Even if you don’t necessarily need someone else to mow your lawn, barter with them so they feel good about working for whatever need you are filling for them.

Chain by nicubunu - golden chainBe a Go-Between You might not be able to fill the need, but you might now someone who can. I had a friend who didn’t have money to buy her son a Christmas gift. I didn’t have extra money to go and buy him one either, but I wanted to help. I contacted someone who I new had an extra of something this young man wanted and asked if they would be willing to give it so she could give him a Christmas present. Praise God, they not only filled the need, they gave him a brand new item instead of a used one (although he would have been happy with the used one!). I have often seen something for free or great prices that I know a friend needs and have either just gotten it myself or notified her of the great deal so she could take advantage of it.

Time Give of your time. There may be a young mother who would like to just take a nap. You could watch her children for her. You might do your elderly neighbor’s grocery shopping for her so she doesn’t have to try to manage the crowds. You might be able to fill a need for companionship just by sitting and visiting with a lonely neighbor. You may man a table at a craft show for a friend trying to sell items to raise money for an adoption. The possibilities are endless!

Pray Don’t neglect to pray for those needs you see arise around you. This is the most powerful tool we have. Through prayer, God might just show you a unique way you can help or answer it in a way no one thought imaginable.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Large Family Mothering: Design without a dime {photos}

Please check out this excellent post on decorating for the frugal woman. I'm inspired to refresh my home!

Large Family Mothering: Design without a dime {photos}: Cowboy Grandpa's hats hanging on the wall. There used to be a popular cable show which encouraged interior design on a budget. Each episo...

Oppressed—A Look at Nehemiah 5, Part Two

If you missed Part One, you can read it here.

As Nehemiah did, so should we, “And I became very angry when I heard their outcry and these words.” (6). God’s people should be angry when they see people in their church going to the government for help. God’s people should be angry when they see people in the church encouraging others to go to the government for help. I am only one person and I do what I can, but if everyone in the church worked together they could help those in the church who need help.

As Nehemiah said, so should we, “What you are doing is not good. Should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies?” (9) We should be taking care of those around us not only because we fear God, but also so that we are giving a good testimony to those around us.

We need to step up and do what is right. It might not be easy, but God doesn’t call us to do what is easy; He calls us to do what is right. We might have to go without a dessert every night or without the daily latte or without those two hours in front of the television, but that is a small sacrifice to make for God.

The last verse of this chapter was Nehemiah’s prayer and has become one of my prayers as well. “Remember me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.” (19) We shouldn’t take care of the poor so that others will pat us on our back. We should do it because it is God’s command.

I have to admit that I still have a long way to go myself in taking care of the needs of others, but I have made a conscious effort in the past few months to not only look for the needs of those around me, but also to do my best to help fulfill those needs.

Be watching for a post on ways you can fulfill needs around you even if you don’t have extra money in your budget.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Oppressed—A Look at Nehemiah 5, Part One

When reading this chapter, I was constantly reminded of the United States of America. The rich were oppressing the poor and it is still the same today; greed is still a major issue. There is nothing wrong with people having more money because they are working harder, saving more, etc., but what is wrong is when people deliberately take advantage of someone else because they don’t have money, exploiting a situation out of proportion just because they can, or because they are not being obedient to God’s laws.

money grabber by johnny_automatic - hand grabbing coins and bills from El Paso Herald, November 11 1910I continue to be amazed at all the “rent to own” places that keep popping up along with check cashing places. The amount of interest these places charge is outrageous and they play on making people think they “need” something when they can’t really afford it or tell them they would be stupid to wait until they save the money for it first. In my opinion, this is a prime example of the rich oppressing the poor.

Another situation is when someone can charge a shocking amount for a product or service just because they are the only one in the area. I’m not saying it is wrong to follow the flow of supply and demand, but there comes a point where you are just being greedy by the amount being charged. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. We can follow Nehemiah’s example in this instance. He lived without taking the provisions due him as governor for the twelve years he served as governor. He also gave the use of his servants for work for Judah and withheld from buying land to sell as a profit. He had the right to do all those things, but he chose not to do them to keep from burdening the people more.

The third situation is the most important because it is going against what God commands of His people. We are called to care for the poor, the widowed and the orphaned. I firmly believe the reason the government felt it needed to step in with social programs is because the churches weren’t doing their job. If we see someone hungry, we are to share. If we see someone without clothing, we are to share. If we see someone in need of a helping hand, we are to be that helping hand. There should be a need for people to be on food assistance because the people of the church should be providing food. There shouldn’t be a need for people to apply for cash assistance from the state because we should be helping with free labor for a roof to be redone, or cleaning the home of a disabled person, or whatever the need might be.

Check back tomorrow to read part two.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Sovereignty of God—A Look at Chapter 14 of Be Fruitful & Multiply

I Surrender All 
All to Jesus I surrender;
all to him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust him,
in his presence daily live.
I surrender all, I surrender all, 
all to thee, my blessed Savior, 
I surrender all. 

All to Jesus I surrender; 
humbly at his feet I bow, 
worldly pleasures all forsaken; 
take me, Jesus, take me now. 

All to Jesus I surrender; 
make me, Savior, wholly thine; 
fill me with thy love and power; 
truly know that thou art mine. 

All to Jesus I surrender; 
Lord, I give myself to thee; 
fill me with thy love and power; 
let thy blessing fall on me. 

All to Jesus I surrender; 
now I feel the sacred flame. 
O the joy of full salvation! 
Glory, glory, to his name! 

I wonder how many people actually stop and think about the words they are singing when they sing this song. The song doesn’t say “I surrender some” or “I surrender almost all”, but says, “I surrender all”.

Doesn’t surrendering all include surrendering your family size? Doesn’t it include your finances? What about your comfort levels? Most people who limit the size of their family do so because they don’t think they can afford to support more and/or because they would have to give up some of the amenities they have come to enjoy (driving new vehicles, cable television, fancy vacations, etc.).

Romans 12:1 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Campbell states of this verse, “Here we are exhorted to present every member of our body to the Lord. Would this not also include our reproductive organs?” I think it is common sense that our reproductive organs are a part of our bodies that we are to present to the Lord.

I know many families in which the husband underwent a vasectomy because they didn’t want to have any more children or they thought God had told them that they had enough children. I always wondered why they would undergo a surgery that was linked to prostate cancer, but now I am even more curious Campbell lists 25 more diseases linked to vasectomies (I don’t have time to research these right now, but if you and your husband are considering him having a vasectomy, you may want to do some research on possible side-effects). She suggests reading Is Vasectomy Worth the Risk by Dr. H. J. Roberts as well as A Physician’s Case Against Vasectomania and Is Vasectomy Safe? Medical Risks and Legal Implications also by Roberts.

The part that gets me the most on the topic of vasectomies is that is it not only accepted but also promoted by the church. Christian parents, elders, mentors, pastors all recommend limiting your family size. These are the same people that will sing I Surrender All the following church service and not bat an eye.

God is sovereign whether we want to admit it or not. He is in control. He is master of this universe and all in it. Why don’t we just let the One who knows all be in control of all?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Divine Appointment—The Resolution for Women

Cookie Cutter Life I grew up wanting to fit in with everyone else. I lived my life trying to please others and be who and what they wanted. I wanted to look like the other girls. I wanted to act like them. I didn’t want to cause any waves or draw attention to myself in any way. I wanted to live a cookie cutter kind of life.

Living Differently What I never learned until much later in life was that I wasn’t supposed to be living that way. I was supposed to stand out. I was supposed to be different. If I wasn’t different in any way, then how would the world have known that I was a Christ follower?

“We ought never to be lost among the shuffle of worldliness . . . driven by lowly pursuits and interests, becoming so similar in appearance to everyone else that we can’t be singled out in a crowd.”

I have come to the realization that I don’t want to be lost in the shuffle anymore. I want people to talk about how I am different. It isn’t a bad thing to be different as long as you are living your life for Christ.

People often say that I am wasting my life and my degree by being a stay-at-home mom; they say that I was destined for far more important things than cooking, cleaning, and changing diapers. But what they don’t realize is that I am exactly where God wants me. He made me a mother of nine beautiful girls. He placed the desire in my heart to stay home with them. He designed me to be a keeper at home. If I am in God’s will, then how can I be wasting my life? Shrier mentions Moses in this chapter and how he took on the job of a shepherd after being raised a noble. While it didn’t look “right” to the world, he was exactly where God wanted him.

My life is standing out for Christ now. Many aspects of my life go against what normal society says I should be doing and I’m okay with that. When people feel the need to bring it to my attention (and not always in a nice way), I am thankful for the opportunity to share God with them. It is because of Him that I am the way I am and am experiencing the many blessings He has for me. I am far from living the life He has for me perfectly, but I am trying to live it with purpose. I am trying to bloom right where He planted me.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins

I've never cooked or baked with rhubarb before. In fact, for many years I thought I didn't like rhubarb because I had tried it once and didn't like it. Then, a couple of years ago I ate a dessert at a church potluck and was surprised that it was rhubarb. Since then, I've had more and more rhubarb and enjoyed it. While at my in-laws house for Mother's day, I mentioned that I would like a little rhubarb to try cooking/baking with it. My father-in-law ended up giving us a large box of it so I have lots of rhubarb cooking/baking in my future!

I figure rhubarb is a frugal food to use because it grows about anywhere and it grows in abundance. I am looking forward to finding new recipes for my family.

The first thing I made with it was a rhubarb pie which I thought was pretty good. Yesterday I tried strawberry-rhubarb muffins. I took a recipe I found on Pinterest and of course changed it to make it a bit healthier and to use ingredients I had in the house. Everyone liked it so I will probably just stay with my version instead of some day trying the other.

Here is my version of Strawberry-Rhubarb Muffins.
  • ¼ cups Coconut Oil
  • ¾ cups Sugar
  • ¼ cups Safflower Oil
  • 2 1/4 cups whole grain Spelt Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 1 cup soured milk
  • ½ teaspoons Almond Extract
  • ¾ cups Chopped Rhubarb
  • 1 cup Chopped Strawberries
  • ¼ cups Brown Sugar For Tops
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Grease your muffin tins (approx. 18 muffins).

With an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and oil until smooth. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the egg, soured milk and almond extract to the creamed sugar mixture and mix well. Slowly add the dry mixture into the wet mixture. Add the chopped rhubarb and strawberries and lightly mix in.

Scoop the batter into tins. Sprinkle a little brown sugar on the top of each muffin.

Bake for approx. 15 minutes until golden on top.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Squiggly Twigs Designs

Over the years, I have begun sewing more and more of the clothes for my girls because it is becoming harder and harder to find modest clothing for them. It is also nice to make them a dress in their favorite color, a pattern they like, and even to make coordinating outfits for them.

To help me with my sewing, I have utilized a number of patterns from Squiggly Twigs Designs. The two patterns I use the most are the Miss Patricia and the Pretty Peasant Dress Pattern. I really like these patterns because they are so versatile. I download one pattern and then can make multiple sizes from that one pattern. I am able to adapt them to whatever measurements I need/want and can even add ruffles, shorten or lengthen sleeves, etc.

Here is a picture of the girls wearing skirts I made for Resurrection Day 2011 using the Miss Patricia skirt pattern. I chose four different materials and then combined them in 8 different ways so each girl had a unique skirt. I was able to adjust each to the specific length needed. Also, when I ran into some problems with the pattern, but Debbie was quick to work with me not only through email, but also through phone conversations until we were able to get it worked out. Customer service is definitely a plus! Hava (the youngest at the time) is wearing a jumper using the Miss Maria pattern. I want to use this more because it is just too, cute!

I also use the Pretty Peasant Dress Pattern for making pajamas and dresses. I used it to make nightgowns for the girls at Christmas 2011. While they didn't have matching material, they all had some kind of pink (I used what I had been given!). Here are pictures of a few of them; I was having difficulty getting the pictures to load so I didn't do all of them.

I also used it this past Resurrection Day for their dresses. I purchased four different colors in the same pattern and then combined them to make their dresses. I used embellishments I already had on hand to finish them off. Again, they were able to have coordinating dresses but yet unique for each of them.

I highly suggest checking out Squiggly Twigs Designs if you sew clothes for little girls (or even women!). Every Tuesday she posts tutorials on new ideas and has many patterns available for download.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Affirmation Crusade—The Resolution for Women

We’ve already discussed the importance of realizing that God created us special and unique and we should revel in that instead of being ashamed; however, women are also creatures who thrive on receiving affirmation.

“[W]e experience a certain depth of blessing when we are affirmed by other women.”

Have you noticed that women often compliment each other on a hairstyle, a shirt, or a pair of shoes? We compliment each other on a well-cooked meal, a great grocery deal, or even the color of our nail polish. Women enjoy receiving compliments and will therefore give compliments to others quite often.

Men do not understand this need for affirmation. Their lack of understanding can sometimes cause stress in a marriage relationship. I think the key is to communicate that desire/need to your husband and model it for him. You can compliment him on a number of different things and I think without even realizing it, he will start complimenting you more often as well.

Since receiving compliments are such a blessing to us, we should be more intentional about blessing other women in that way. The next time you like someone’s sweater, or skirt, or garden, take a few moments to let her know. You will brighten her day by affirming who she is.

Another resolution came at the end of this section:

“I will accept and celebrate my uniqueness, and will esteem and encourage the distinctions I admire in others.”

Monday, May 14, 2012

To Which Kingdom do you Belong?—A look at Chapter 12 of Be Fruitful & Multiply

“God’s kingdom is a kingdom of life. He is the author of life. He is the one who breathes life into every human being. He loves life. Because He is the author of life, it is precious to Him. Do we value life the same way that God does?”

I have been saying the same thing (in different words of course) for a number of years. It is something I challenge people with often and wish I had the courage to challenge even more people with.

Almost always, people will agree that children are a blessing (especially within the church). While they say children are a blessing, their actions say something different.

Blessings are good things that people are usually eager to receive; however, when it comes to children, they want to limit their blessings. Why? Are we not saying that life isn’t valuable when we deny a life to be born? Many will say that they are not denying life because they have never had an abortion, but as I’ve discussed on my blog before, by trying to take control out of God’s hands of when He blesses you with a child, you may certainly be denying a life to be born. In addition, those who have taken hormonal birth control could have unknowingly caused an abortion because of those hormones. (I still cringe thinking about the years I used hormonal birth control.)

We often read in the Bible times when many babies/children were killed. Why? It was always because Satan was trying to stop God’s plans from succeeding. One instance was when Pharaoh had all baby boys killed to try to stop the Israelites from multiplying. Another was when Herod had baby boys killed because he heard the King of the Jews had been born.

Satan is still at working trying to eliminate life! If he can decrease the size of God’s army, then he is on his way to succeeding. Far too many Christian families have fallen prey to his deceptive plan of shrinking God’s army. It has gotten so bad in our society that we are now being forced to help pay for Satan’s deception! Not only does your insurance money go to help others get hormonal birth control or sterilization if you pay for insurance, but your tax dollars pay for the same thing through Medicaid. Tax dollars are even being used to help support Planned Parenthood which performs abortions and there have even been some court cases that have come to the conclusion that it is okay to “abort” a baby immediately after birth if there is a just cause to have had an abortion beforehand if the mother had known the exact status of her child.

It is sickening for me to see so many Christian families not only buy into Satan’s deception, but to argue for the necessity of his plan and to support it with where and how they spend their money.

I firmly stand in God’s Kingdom and support life in all cases. Where do you stand?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

On Faith and Frugal Living

The girls and I were interviewed for the local paper earlier this week and an article about us ran today. Go to the Cadillac News and check it out!

Before she had children, Darcy Carmichael could not picture herself a stay-at-home mother.
She wasn't big on cooking and cleaning.
Today, the Manton woman is a stay-at-home mom of nine daughters, who range in age from 1 to 11 years old. She decided to leave her job as a teacher after the birth of her third daughter, Allyn, who's now 8. She jokes she was forced to learn to how to cook and clean.
Continue reading the story at Cadillac News.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Feeding Your Family on a Budget, Part 7

Meatless or Less Meat Meals

Scalloped Egg Casserole

10 hard boiled eggs
6 tbsp butter
6  tbsp flour
2 tbsp mustard (dry or prepared)
2 cups milk
1 tsp salt
2 slices of bread

Melt butter, whisk in flour and mustard and cook for about 1 minute. Whisk in milk until thickened. Grease a 9x13 casserole dish. Peel and slice the eggs. Put a small amount of sauce in the bottom of the pan, then a layer of sliced eggs, more sauce, and another layer of eggs, and keep going until gone. Butter bread slices and cut into cubes and put on top. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

This is a good side dish or double to use as a main dish.

Quinoa and Black Beans

2 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 ½ cup uncooked quinoa
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 quart canned black beans

  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned.
  2. Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes,
  3. Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in the black beans and parsley.
Note: Other beans may be substituted or substitute rice for the quinoa (you’ll have to cook longer though).

Lentil Sloppy Joes

1 cup dried lentils
2 cups water
1/8 cup onion, minced
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. dry mustard powder
1/2 tsp. chili powder 
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 tsp. celery seeds
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste or ketchup
1-1/4 cups water (omit if using ketchup)
6 to 8 whole wheat buns or 2 cups cooked brown rice

Rinse and pick through lentils.  Add two cups water to pan with lentils and bring to boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer about 40 minutes until tender, but not mushy.
For the sauce, combine the minced onion, salt, sugar, dry mustard, chili powder, minced garlic, and celery seeds. Combine well and set aside.
When lentils are done, add the tomato paste and water. Stir in the sauce seasoning. Combine well and heat through. Let simmer for 25 to 30 minutes on low heat to combine flavors.
Serve on whole wheat buns or over brown rice.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Herb Bean Spread

1 clove of garlic
1 can Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tablespoon lime juice
1 Tablespoon water
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon basil, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

With motor running, drop garlic into food processor or blender. Add beans, juice, water, and oil. Puree until smooth. Add basil, salt and pepper. Pulse until incorporated and herbs are coarsely chopped.
Spread the bean spread on the inside of the pita and layer in the veggies of your choice.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Feeding Your Family on a Budget, Part 6

Even more ways to save money:

  • Cook from scratch! Buying convenience food costs money. I can just as quickly whip up pancakes from scratch as from a box and they taste better and are healthier, too. If you think you don’t have time, then you could prepare extras on weekends or when you do have time.

  • Don’t buy convenience foods! You can buy a lot more rice in a bag than if you buy minute rice. It really isn’t hard to cook rice and it doesn’t add a whole much more time (especially if you have a rice cooker because then you can just set it and forget it!)

  • Eat whole grains! Whole grains fill you up faster so you will eat less. For example, before we made the switch to whole grain pasta, we would go through two pounds of pasta at each meal (back when there were just 7 of us). Just the other night I made a meal with only one pound of pasta for all of us.

  • Serve lots of side dishes! I learned this one by accident. If you have out more options for sides, people won’t eat as much meat which will save you money! I was raised that every meal needed a meat, starch and vegetable, but if I offer two vegetables and/or a fruit, then the amount of meat consumed is less.

  • Raise your own food if possible! We started with a garden to help us save money. Even if you don’t preserve your abundance, you will still save money during the summer/fall when you are picking from your garden. We now have chickens for eggs (and meat) and goats for milk. It costs a lot less for feed for those animals than it would for us to buy the food. Even if you live in the city, you can still do container gardening, square foot gardening, etc.

  • Let your friends and family know you will take their abundance! We have friends who know they can call us if their gardens produce more than what they want. We just head over and pick what is left. I have friends who receive food from others and they might not particularly care for what was given to them, so they call us. We have even had friends of friends call and offer food from their gardens, old hens for butchering, etc.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Can God Use Me For His Purposes?

Can God Use Me For His Purposes?
 by Russell Kelfer
 Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
 Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
 I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate . . .
 And the Master so gently said, “Wait.”
 ”Wait? you say wait?” my indignant reply.
 ”Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
 Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
 By faith I have asked, and I’m claiming your Word.
“My future and all to which I relate
 Hangs in the balance, and you tell me to wait?
 I’m needing a ‘yes’, a go-ahead sign,
 Or even a ‘no’ to which I can resign.
 ”You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,
 We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
 And Lord I’ve been asking, and this is my cry:
 I’m weary of asking! I need a reply.”
 Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate,
 As my Master replied again, “Wait.”
 So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
 And grumbled to God, “So, I’m waiting for what?”
 He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine . . .
 and He tenderly said, “I could give you a sign.
 I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
 I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.
 ”I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
 You’d have what you want, but you wouldn’t know Me.
 You’d not know the depth of my love for each saint.
 You’d not know the power that I give to the faint.
 ”You’d not learn to see through clouds of despair;
 You’d not learn to trust just by knowing I’m there.
 You’d not know the joy of resting in Me
 When darkness and silence are all you can see.
 ”You’d never experience the fullness of love
 When the peace of My spirit descends like a dove.
 You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
 But you’d not know the depth of the beat of My heart.
 ”The glow of my comfort late into the night,
 The faith that I give when you walk without sight.
 The depth that’s beyond getting just what you ask
 From an infinite God who makes what you have last.
 ”You’d never know, should your pain quickly flee,
 What it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
 Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
 But, oh, the loss, if you missed what I’m doing in you.
 ”So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
 That the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
 And though oft My answers seem terribly late,
 My most precious answer of all is still . . . Wait.”