Monday, September 30, 2013

Asian Flair

While I was concerned, when the first freezer meal was less than spectacular,
Friday's meal was definitely a hit.

Mongolian Broccoli Beef

1 lb stew meat (I sliced a roast very thin - flank steak is usually used)
2 tsp olive oil
1 onion in large chunks
1 Tbsp garlic
1/2 c soy sauce
1/2 c water
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp fresh ginger (or dash of dried)
1/2 c Hoisin sauce

Cook low 6-8 hours.
Serves 4-5.

I added frozen broccoli about 1/2 way through,
but if I were home, I would steam it right before serving over rice.

Original Recipe found here.

Tonight - Beef Fajitas

Friday, September 27, 2013


There is something so refreshing to waking up to 65* in the house.
Loving the little glimpse of fall weather.

The County fair started yesterday.
I may be a little sparse for the next 10 days.
I will be at the church booth for at least 6 days.
And hubby's work has a booth to stand as well -
am glad to have a meal plan for the next week. 

Hubby is test driving the "puzzle car" to and from work today.
Hopefully we will be returning it to its owner tonight.
Just a little tip:
Never unplug a VW battery ...
if you do - the car's "brain" goes dead :)

Mongolian Beef tonight!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Little Things

Thankful for the little things today ... 
then again, maybe they are big things :)

a bag full of apples from a neighbor ...

the new growth in the garden ...

socks to warm my feet on a cool morning ...

an event that reminds me to keep hoping and praying ...

the vast amount of information on the internet
(helping to often save time and money) ...

the encouragement of friends to do right ...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Watch Your Tongue

Proverbs 17:9 
He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; 
but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.

Why is it that we want to repeat everything we hear and see?
Why do we want to prove that we know the facts?
Why don't we "forgive and forget"?

The writer of Proverbs reminds us to watch our tongues.
Covering a transgression is the loving act.
Not reminding a husband of how he failed.
Not reminding a friend of the hurt they caused.
Not belittling a child.

Just show love.
Hold your tongue.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Still a Work in Progress

So the only room that I have not shared,
is the main bathroom.
There is a good reason for that.
It is still under construction.

The flooring is the only one in the trailer that has not been replaced.
We plan to do this if we are here long.
The shower walls had been painted.
I just didn't feel like I could clean them adequately and they did not match the tub.
I am still stripping the paint on the shower walls.
I am still making fabric flowers for the curtain pockets.
We have yet to do a Thomas Kinkade puzzle to frame for above the towel bar.

A work in progress...
but it is on its way.

I need to find a new place for the red towels -
they just are not working for me with the pastels.

See all the tools for stripping paint ...
also notice some of my wiggly stripes :)
Can I call it character?

Fabric flowers ... a find on Pinterest
I needed some blue in the house - so I am putting it in the bathroom.

Monday, September 23, 2013

There Will Be A Learning Curve

So far, the freezer cooking and monthly planning has been a good experience.
There is a learning curve though.
We have found that the Sesame Honey Chicken was edible, but not a favorite.
The Cumin-Cinnamon Stew had great flavor, but potatoes and carrots should not be frozen.
The Sweet and Tangy Meatballs turned out GREAT!

Though the recipes may be hit and miss so far,
the planning in advance has been a great blessing.
Those with food allergies do best with a rotating diet,
so planning and sticking to a schedule really works well.
We are not relying on frozen chicken nuggets and french fries when the days are crazy.
I have more time for baking :)

Cumin-Cinnamon Stew
4 pounds chuck roast or flank steak
8 cups red potatoes, chopped
6 cups baby carrots
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
A tiny pinch of sugar
add day of cooking:
1 cup filtered water

Mix spices together in one bowl and evenly distribute between two separate gallon-sized freezer bags. 
Then add veggies and meat. Mix up contents of bag a bit, lay flat, label and put in freezer.
Day of cooking, dump contents of bag into slow cooker, add the filtered water, 
and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or until fully cooked.
Each bag makes about 6 to 8 servings.
My note:  I would add the potatoes and carrots the day of - they turned out a little rubbery.
Just having the meat and spices ready in the freezer would be a great help though.

Sweet and Tangy Meatballs
36 cooked meatballs - use your favorite recipe
16 oz grape jelly
20 oz BBQ sauce

Cook on low 2-4 hours
This recipe is really easy and a typical at church dinners.
Again, just having the meatballs cooked and ready to go in the freezer is a big time saver.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Count Your Blessings

I spent much of the week working on cars -
kind of

I am thankful for the three new wheels on my car - 
which makes a much smoother ride.
I am thankful that we caught one tire wearing funny
before it left me stranded on the side of the road.

I am thankful for the new windshield in our friends car.
I am thankful that the "puzzle" is going back together again.

I am thankful to have 2 working vehicles.
After many years with one vehicle,
it is nice to have the flexibility of 2 vehicles.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Proverbs 17:6
Children's children are the crown of old men; 
and the glory of children are their fathers.

This weeks Proverb was a little sad for me.
Dwelling on the joy of children to parents and grandparents,
while waiting on the Lord in this area was not easy.

But the thought can be bigger than just the treasure of children (which they are)
with a focus on family unity and the need to strengthen and encourage each other.

Families all around are in disrepair.
Broken homes.
Rebellious children.
Selfish parents.
A mobile society.

God established the family from the beginning in Genesis 1 and 2.
He designed the support structure of a family to meet 
and even financial needs.

I want to be a child who is a crown - 
a testimony to God and therefore a good reflection on my parents and grandparents.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What Type of Homes Do You Make?

Interesting Thought of the Day ... 

I was sitting at the Discount Tire Store today
waiting for my car
and chatting with the gentleman beside me.

He asked me what I did (for a living).
I answered, "I am a homemaker."
To which he responded in jest,
"What kind of homes do you make?"

The question went around in my head.
What type of home do I make?

I have my wish list:

a peaceful home
a healthy home
a welcoming home
a restful home
a clean home
a home-y home
a pleasant home
a loving home
an organized home
a disciplined home
a well-fed home
a growing home
an educated home
a serving home

Get the idea ...

He who shoots at nothing is destined to hit it.
Why not set a goal for your home?

Monday, September 16, 2013


Does it seem like the longer you live in one location,
the busier you get?
It seems that way for me.
Periodically, hubby and I evaluate our schedule to decide if something(s) need to go.
It is hard to quit or shed "ministry" opportunities.
I have decided to give menu planning/freezer cooking a try. 
By streamlining dinner, I hope to free time for ministry 
while staying away from Chick-fil-A for dinner 
or hot dogs and french fries once or twice a week.
I also hope to be more flexible without sacrificing my health or that of hubby 
and to be one of those women who is seemingly unflappable 
(not currently a description I would say applies).
Many of the meals thaw one day and go in the crockpot the day of the meal.

I spent some time Thursday setting up a calendar, menu, and shopping list.
Friday I shopped for the recipes.
Saturday I spent about 5 hours and put 22 dinners in the Freezer!
I began at about 10 and worked for 3 hours on chicken and pork and stew meat recipes.

At about 1, I baked hubby a pumpkin pie.
From 1:30-3, I worked on the ground beef recipes.
Clean-up from 3-3:30 (as well as along the way) and the work was done.
Meals for the rest of the month and about 8 or 9 for October.

I was pleased with the process and hope I am as pleased with the recipes I chose.

Sesame/Honey Chicken x 3
Lasagna x 2
Chicken Taco meat x 2
4 Hamburger Patties x 2
Beef Fajitas x 2
Plain Meatballs x 1
3 Pork Loins for Italian Pork
1 lb of chicken to grill
1 lb of hamburger for Cheeseburger Pie
Homemade Taco Seasoning
Homemade Zesty Italian Seasoning

I will update with printed recipes and/or links as I try each meal.
If it is successful, it will also be a stress-free way to provide meals for others ...
all bagged and ready to go!
I plan to work on meals for the first week of October next week ...
... because ...
our church is involved in the fair ministry for 11 days (9/26-10/6).
Most weekdays I will be at the fair from 4-6:30 and do not want my diet to suffer!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

DIY ... Deodorant and Creamer

Coconut and Tea Tree Deodorant

1/4 c baking soda
1/3 c cornstarch
1/4 tsp tea tree oil
1-4 T coconut oil

Mix in small container.
Apply with fingers, allow heat to melt.
The tea tree is an antiseptic - Eucalyptus also has this characteristic.
I added about 10 drops of other essential oil as well.
The grade of coconut oil will affect how strong the coconut smell is.
Citrus oils would also be a good addition.

*note* hubby says it is like applying icing to your arm pits

Pumpkin Spice Creamer

Blend in blender
2 c milk (I used soy, but plan to use coconut or almond milk next)
3 Tbsp pumpkin puree
1-2 Tbsp maple syrup (not as sweet as we like, so I used sugar the 2nd time)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cloves, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, dash of ginger)

Store in fridge - good as long as the milk is good.
You could also use cream or 1/2 and 1/2 - but I try to go dairy-free.

I am experimenting using this in coffee treats.
I have frozen some in ice cube trays.
I want to blend it in cold coffee to see if I can get near to a frappuccino.
I may also lighten up on the cloves - they are a little strong.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Strange Feeling

It is funny the way that life twists and turns.
When I look around at my home, my pantry, my yard, my calendar,
it is odd to see how my life, my tastes and my priorities have changed.

I once imagined a home full of children - about 20 boys.
My home is typically pretty quiet with only the occasional young guest. 

At one point, I imagined my home in the "Victorian" style -
deep greens, burgundies, and florals.
Now - more of a lodge coloring with more rustic accents.

My pantry, once filled with sugared cereals, processed white flours, and chocolate,
now home to gluten-free food, non gmos, organic this, and natural that.
I still get my fair share of sugar, but am more conscious than I ever imagined.

Hubby has been weaning me off of microwave use,
and last month I got rid of it completely.
I never would have imagined that!

At the beginning of the week,
I mentioned looking for a natural deodorant recipe.
My interest was peeked when a friend bought some at a farmer's market.
It was labeled as coconut and tea tree oil.
The proprietors said that the other ingredients were baking soda and cornstarch.
I had all those ingredients!

After finding the recipe on Pinterest,
I made a batch and have been using it all week.
I feel like a "granola" with homemade deodorant,
but it really works for more than 24 hours, even in the southern heat.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pumpkins and Huge Puzzles

I am thinking pumpkin again - 
though it does not feel like fall yet,
I know that it is the season for the fall flavors of 
nutmeg ...

Enjoyed pumpkin pancakes this morning,
with homemade pumpkin creamer in my coffee.
We relished a pumpkin pie last week,
and maybe I will make another while hubby works this weekend.

I am thankful for the changing seasons.
I love the promise of cooler temps,
and the changes in available fruits and veggies.

What about the huge puzzle?
I am thankful that we have rounded up the parts to put a friend's car back together.
She had a little fender-bender at the start of the school year,
and hubby is making the car usable and safe again.
I am thankful for the internet - which connected us with some of the parts,
and a very helpful and knowledgable clerk 
at the local auto parts store (you don't always get one).

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Better is ... Part IV

Proverbs 17:1 
Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, 
than an house full of sacrifices with strife.

For the fourth time, Solomon reminds us of what true riches look like.
... the fear of the Lord (15:16)
... love (15:17)
... righteousness (16:8)

and now 
... quietness

It is easy to be taken in by covetousness,
but there are things that money can not buy that are available to all -
or at least all who will turn to God.

Quietness is a true gift.
Only God can give true peace.
Do you cultivate peace in your home through a genuine relationship with God?
Is there an air of rest?
Are you a calming influence or an escalator of stress in the home?
Do the children know how to be still?
Do you soothe stress or encourage strife?

Better is little, a dinner of herbs, and a dry morsel
with the fruits of a godly home ...

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Can't Hide it Any Longer

With only two areas left to share,
I could hold it off no longer.

The laundry "room" provides necessary storage
which saved my sanity in the move,
but it is not the most beautiful room.

sorry about the quality of this one

Pantry behind brown curtain,
step ladder, tray tables, and white plastic drawers under pantry
hot water tank behind door
the white bucket - carrots that need to be tended to

It houses just about everything -
rarely used small appliances,
pantry items, 
cook books,
cleaning supplies,
mailing supplies,
and a few junk drawers ...

The washer and dryer are a real blessing.
I don't use a dryer much unless dry cleaning at home,
but the high efficiency, water sensing washer - 
a real gift.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Recipe for a Full Day

Plant green beans and carrots in new garden,
plant an herb garden in small bed,
clean the house,
attempt to make gluten free matza for Communion at church,
get quotes for windshield replacement for a friend's car,
experiment with a natural deodorant recipe,
start removing paint from shower walls.

Off I go!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Garden Thoughts

You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt. 
~Author Unknown

The garden is the poor man's apothecary. 
~German Proverb

Gardening is cheaper than therapy 
and you get tomatoes.  
~Author Unknown

Thursday, September 5, 2013

More Simple Pleasures

I am enjoying these orchids,
a gift from some church friends.

I am thankful for their uniqueness,
the bright color,
and the oxygen they provide.

I am also thankful for the new border on the front flower bed.
I have been eyeing these borders for years, but it was never a spending priority.
Then a church family offered me this one.
It was the perfect length for the front bed - 
Woo Hoo!
I installed it on Tuesday.
So happy for the clear edging - it will be so much easier to keep neat and trim.

I am also thankful that my new vegetable garden is taking shape.
It was a garden before, but had grown over in the 10 months that the house sat empty.
So far it is about 2/3 of the original size.
You can tell it was worked before, or the freshly turned earth would be red clay.
The tarps are down to kill the grass/weeds beneath.
I wanted to prepare it this fall, so that we can feed it compost and leaves this winter.
I may stick some pole beans in early next week for fall harvesting.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Do You Need Some Exercise?

There are some folks who think that I LOVE exercise.
I do not like the process, and the soreness the next day,
but I do appreciate the results.
I like to have toned muscles.
I like to fit in everyday clothes.  
I like to be able to work beside my hubby.
I like to be able to do the work around my home and gardens.

While reading through Proverbs this week, 
I was reminded of another strength that I should be developing.
These are traits of the truly strong woman.

Proverbs 16:32 
He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; 
and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.

... slow to anger
... ruling my spirit

How often do I fly off the handle?
Usually when things are not going as I planned.
My selfishness and pride show my weakness.

Do I rule my spirit?
The sin nature wants to rule my spirit.
It wants me to get angry,
to be lazy,
to covet,
to speak ill of others ... .

I want to be a strong woman - 
physically and spiritually.
So I must bring my weakness to the Savior
who can help me control my temper
and rule my spirit.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

What's Cooking?

You have already seen it in parts,
but I would like to welcome you to my kitchen.

You know that we were pleased with the outcome of the countertops and cabinets.
It is always nice to have new appliances.
We had purchased the range for our last rental when the rental only had 3 working burners,
but the refrigerator is new.
I am thrilled for a working exhaust fan.

There is less cabinet space,
but somehow everything has a place now.
I love having a large silverware drawer ...
I even brought out my wedding registry silver for everyday now that I have more room.

The side counter below is my "office."
pens and pencils,
my budget worksheet,
and a basket of coupons, notes, mail, receipts, things to be dealt with...

Monday, September 2, 2013

You Catch More Flies with ...

Apple Cider Vinegar!

It is the season for battling with the fruit flies.
They love the garden tomatoes and the bananas ...
and anything else that they can snack on.

They also like cider vinegar.

I make my own fruit fly traps.
A custard cup,
with a little apple cider vinegar,
covered with plastic wrap,
with tiny holes poked in the top.

It works great.
When it seems to lose effectiveness,
just change the vinegar.