Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Complaining. Ugh.

As I'm journeying through the O.T. I'm just overwhelmed with the Word of God and how it still relates to us, to ME today!

I'm all the way into.... Numbers! haha I know, if you've been reading my blog, you know that really... I have taken a LONG time to get here. But I love spending plenty of time reading and then journaling. I do not want to rush through it! (Unless they're 'begetting', of course). LOL There's so much that the Lord spoke to me through His Word this morning.

The first is, in the entire chapter 10, there's an awful lot of complaining going on. Is it ever good to complain? Complaining leads to results but are the results always what you had hoped for? For me, no, they are not.

The Isrealites complain about their situation, their circumstances. I'm so glad I never do that! LOL kidding! (Let me tell you, this was totally convicting.) I highly dislike compaining but I'm guilty of it, for sure. God REALLY does not like it. Why do you suppose that is? Because we are not trusting Him? I think it's mostly because we are just not letting Him be God in our lives, our everything! Well, let's see what He thought about it... In Numbers 11:2, after hearing them complain, it says, " His anger was kindled and the fire burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp." So how did He feel about it? Well, He wasn't excited- that's for sure!! O, and by the way, they're "circumstances" are much better than being slaves in Egypt! Well.... you'd think they were!

Now, the 600,000 plus Isrealites have been miraculously blessed with manna, food from heaven, but of course, that is not good enough either. They wanted meat! And we can't really blame the Israelites, can we? Would we not do the same thing? I know I get sick of the same food after 2 meals, maybe 3 at the very most... (and that's if it's SO GOOD tasting)! They were remembering the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and flavorful fish that they at least had in Egypt to eat freely of. Does this make you smile? Does it seem a little ridiculous? Well, I'm still feeling a little convicted about my own life complaints.

So, let's look at manna. Just because I like food and love to learn. :) It says it is like coriander (cilantro seed), and it's appearance like bdellium (an oily gum or a white pearl; a valuable mineral). Mmm tasty. So.. was it kind of chewy? LOL They would gather it, grind it and make cakes with it. And I'm just guessing that these cakes don't have cream cheese frosting! ;) So, OK, they SHOULD be grateful but I could see how the same old thing to eat could get old.

And then of course, their leader, Moses, complains about them complaining. haha Seriously? This is so much like life now. Plus he wonders how in the world God could possibly find enough meat to give them! Moses wants to know, would they have to kill all of their animals? Or should all the fish from the sea be gathered together for them? (Remember there are over 600,000 of them!)

God listens to him and actually answers him with meat. It says, "Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow and you shall eat meat...You shall eat not one day, nor 10 days, nor 20 days, but a whole month..."

I have to be honest. When I got to this verse I was like, "Are you kidding me? He's going to reward them by giving in to their complaining?" Well, not totally. (wink wink) It's always good to read the whole context! The rest of that verse says "...until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you; because you have rejected the Lord who is among you..."

So, Moses asked, where will this meat come from, Lord? That would be just too many people for you to feed! How is that possible? "And the Lord said to Moses, "Is the Lord's power limited? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not."
So do you want to know what happened next? O you probably already know. But go ahead and read through it. Numbers 11:31-35.

God is so much smarter than we are. LOL He knows what we need. He knows what is good for us. Can you believe He even knows the appropriate time for the appropriate action? He can even feed 600,000 people! Maybe you're thinking, of course He can because He did that kind of stuff all of the time in the Bible. Have you forgotten? How has he shown His power in your life? He can even help you get through the month's budget. He can even get you through a hard winter. He can even give you patience, or the tools for it during those hard days with the kids. He can even guide you in your relationships. He can even be near you when you're afraid of what's to come.

Are you listening, Kristin? Are you listening to? Is there something that you complain about too much? Give it to the Lord. That is my desire anyway. When something comes up that seems so difficult to bear, to go through, I want to see it through His eyes. Not to see myself as the victim of a circumstance, but as a willing vessel for the Lord to use.

I am SO thankful for the hope that I have in Him. I can complain, to my friends, my husband. I can even complain to the Lord but will it give me the results I'm looking for? How did it work out for those 600,000? Rest in him. Realize that He wants you to to trust Him! Instead of complaining, find a reason to be truly grateful.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Simply Live, Therefore Live Simply

This is a picture from the shop Mom and I used to own. Imagine life so simple that you could sit on a bench in the warm sunshine, reading through a book. All the while your laundry is drying on the line in the gentle breeze...

Tonight's blog is inspired by an old friend and old recipes from pre-1950 through now. This friend has inspired 2 of my blogs now. She encourages me to write about some of things we talk about so that I can encourage others. I love it!

This afternoon I went through an entire box of old recipes that belonged to a well-dressed, simple, Finnish neighbor lady. I say 'well dressed' because her garments are now mine and I intend to wear them as my own...with pearls, of course. ;) She was "simple" in the way that she brilliantly lived. Some may think that the desire to live frugally comes from having very little money. I don't know what her financial status was but she used what she had and lived simply, I can tell. That's my dream! In her old recipes were many types of paper that were used sometimes more than 3 times. It might be an envelope with a recipe and each one included who they were from and what date it was given, or written. (I wish I could read all of the hand-written ones but she barely spoke English and I do not understand much more Finnish than "sokerie" which is translated: sugar. It was in so many sweet recipes that I figured out that much!) I'm sure you know of many older people who live this way. They save gifts like new hand towels for years because the old ones are still able to soak up water... maybe not much but... they are still useful. They also used every bit of what they cooked. To me, this is an art. I'm slowly 'getting it' but I have far to go. In my opinion these ladies are wise.

So besides telling you about this fine lady and how she lived, I wanted to share with my readers some simple-living ideas I use or at least some that I know about. These ideas help me to get dollars to stretch but also make me feel good about not wasting.

1) Taco Meat: When I'm making taco meat, I add the seasoning, some water or tomato sauce and 1-2 cans re-fried beans or whole canned beans plus fresh garlic and onion flakes. This greatly adds to the meat amount and makes it stretch quite a bit farther. I also love the taste and that it's not dried out. Thanks to my mother-in-law for the idea of adding beans!

2) Dryer Sheets: I rarely use these anymore because I prefer liquid (it's easier on your dryer..), but anyway, for goodness sake, cut the sheets in 1/2! There is plenty of softener for one sheet to become 2!

3) When whole chickens are on sale (especially non- hormone added, organic) buy them to use instead of plain breast meat. Cook it one night for dinner, but leave a little left on it. There's plenty for our family of 5 (with 3 small children) to have dinner and then I take off the rest of meat that I can find and store it in the fridge for use with broth/stock. Usually that night or the next day I put the carcass in a 20 quart stock pot and fill it up to about the 14 quart mark with water. Add your favorite seasonings, whole garlic, just flatten the cloves, chunks of onion (or the green tops of garden onions), celery. For seasonings this last time I made it, I used about a dash or 2 of almost every spice in my pantry, it seems. Parsley, 2 bay leaves, coriander, celery seed, oregano, basil, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, thyme and paprika. Those poor spices don't always get used anyway so you've got to not play favorites. ;) I then strain this and put it in pint size jars to can. Before I seal them I add salt and about 1 tsp of those reserved chicken pieces. I must say that when I labeled this batch I was so excited to write "Organic Chicken Stock" on them. It's fun to be able to use up the whole chicken too!

4) Picking up:I am by no means the best housekeeper, but I do try. When I'm leaving one room to go to another I pick up something that needs to go that direction. There's always something that needs picked up with 3 little ones and 2 big ones.

5) Saving gas and time: Limit trips in the car. Plan ahead. Make out a list of places you need to go and plan a day to get lots done instead of many small trips. I used to do way more small trips before I had kids but now I've learned. Gas is expensive and it's just plain wasteful to not try to combine at least a few things together. And before you leave home at least pack some snacks like almonds, dried fruit or cheese and crackers, if you don't pack a meal. It helps when you start to get hungry and give-in to that convenient bad-for-you but o-so-good food.

6) Raise Chickens: Get some chickens to use up scraps that would otherwise get thrown in the garbage, down the disposal or tossed out! Plus chickies give you eggs!

7) Use a clothesline to dry your laundry: It saves many dollars in electricity! It's simple to do too! If you don't have a line already made, string up some strong cotton clothesline rope or plastic covered line from one tree to another. String it between two posts on your porch or use an old-fashioned drying rack.

8)Make your own laundry soap: It's a mere fraction of the price. And even if you don't do that, you can save on stain remover by buying a bar of Fels Naptha soap and using it. I keep mine in a canning jar near the washer and when something has a stain, wet the bar and then rub it into the fabric. It has removed even blood soaked pillows from when one of my kids woke up with a bloody nose. I was amazed! And it's cheap too! It doesn't have that toxic smell like some stain removers either. I think it's like $1-$2!! There are lots of ideas online. Mine calls for washing soda, grated Fels Naptha and Borax. It works well too! I haven't taken the few minutes to make this for awhile but I really need to get back into making it. It's so much cheaper!

9) Your Cell phone: If you don't need a fancy camera phone with all the bells and whistles and things to distract you, get a free one when you update your plan or better yet... I'm planning on using a pay-as-you-go phone. That will save us more than $25 per month at least and now we have just a basic plan!
10) Make quilts: out of old clothing or fabric with special memories. Many women in the past have made quilts this way. Way back when, women didn't go to a fancy store to buy specially matching pieces of expensive fabrics to make blankets for their beds. They would cut up old dresses, men's shirts...whatever was still useful. I have the 'new' fabric to use up but I really do like this idea. I guess I do a little of that when I make the borders. I usually end up sewing all of the scraps from cutting out the quilt pieces and make a randomly-colored border. I use up most of those extra pieces doing this.

I know there are more ideas but how much time do you really have to spend here? It's wasteful if it takes you too long! haha!

I hope you learned something that you don't already know or just that you are reminded to live simply. I believe that we are such a spoiled few generations of folks that it's actually kind of ridiculous! It's fun to be creative and come up with meals from your cupboard and not just go to the store for something that sounds good. If you mixed up some flour, milk and some other on-hand ingredients you can have biscuits and make a white sauce with sausage and sage and you'll have biscuits and gravy! Or, when your garden abounds in lettuce, make meals that include it! Taco salad, green salad, chef salad, or use it for tuna sandwiches.

Live simply because you can, not because you have to.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Garden Goodness for Dinner!

There is nothing like walking through the garden gate to get fresh food for my family.

I've also been getting so much use out of my bread machine. Today I used my usual oatmeal Bread recipe but added many other grains in exchange for the wheat flour.

For dinner I made a casserole of sorts to go along with the bread, by layering cooked ground beef with veggies into my Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker. First I cooked the ground beef. Then I dug up white potatoes, carrots and onions and sweet talked my husband into helping with the washing and slicing of the veggies. These were layered with a homemade Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup that I made up tonight too. (This is a great and easy recipe! You'll especially like it if you're not a fan of MSG.)

Here's the yummy bread. It seemed even better than usual too! It could be the added grains but my husband even commented that it reminds him of what his grandma used to make.... and now I'm Mrs. Ramsey too, of course.

Here's the recipe for the bread. It's from the cookbook, Bread Machine Magic and it's called:

Honey N Oats Bread

"The egg and oats lend a wonderful, rich, creamy flavor to this bread. Serve it with a crock of sweet butter and homemade preserves."

1- pound loaf

1/3 cup old -fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup bread flour
1 tsp. salt
1 T honey
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp Red Star brand active dry yeast

Place all ingredients in bread pan [by order listed], select Light Crust setting and press Start.

After the baking cycle ends, remove bread from pan, place on cake rack, and allow to cool one hour before slicing.

Notes from me: I exchanged about 3/4 cup of the wheat flour for a few tsp each of 7 grain cereal, barley flakes, triticale, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds. I also always add about 1 T flax seed and I double the honey to 2 tablespoons. What a great recipe! This time instead of letting it bake in the bread machine, I just used the dough cycle and then set it in a stoneware bread pan in the oven. (Turn your oven on warm till it gets heated and then shut off till the bread has risen double. )Then bake for at least 25 minutes at 350. the texture of doing the bread this way was similar to an english muffin bread. It had lots of holes.

Here is the Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup before it was thickened. I even added Italian Parsley from my herb garden.

I made a double batch of the soup so that I could put 1 "can" of it in the freezer.
The potatoes and carrots were sliced up and layered between this saucy delight.

And here is the finished product! I could have used less soup, I suppose but my family does love saucy foods, instead of drier ones. This pan was FULL so I had to bake it for about 1 1/2 hours. The texture was similar to scalloped potatoes but the taste was more like a creamy, beef flavor. Try it sometime for a simple, delicious "homey" meal!
My daughter just saw the pictures for my post and said, "That's yummy!" I guess you now have her opinion. :)