A Season for Everything

Monday, April 29, 2013

Curled up on the couch, t.v. on, pizza on the way, my mind vegetating, not wanting to move a muscle... this has been me lately. Don't worry I am not dying or depressed... I am just pregnant; in my 1st trimester.

This is usually not me... of course I LOVE to chill with my family and relax, but not all day long!!

Seriously, lately I would be happy to sit on the couch, watch t.v., peruse through pinterest, or sleep the whole day through, and I have gotten pretty good at it too! Even now I am in bed composing this.

I have felt kind of guilty letting the kids fend for themselves pretty much, they have to help themselves to cereal for breakfast ..gasp... and( don't judge me) Dora and Diego and Phineas and Ferb have become my favorite babysitters.. their poor little minds!  Yes, I have managed to force myself to get food on the table, keep the house from looking like a war zone and home school my children, but besides that I have been off duty.

Thank God for my sympathetic husband who has been an accomplice to getting me my salty, junk food food cravings and not making me feel guilty for sleeping all hours of the day and for my children who are so good at entertaining themselves and ignoring my moodiness.

I  have been feeling so unproductive though. I am not really DOING that much besides surviving. But I have come to realize that I am being productive.  Though I might not be keeping my house up to Martha Stewart standards,  tackling a new project or running a marathon... I am growing a new life inside of me... and that is very productive!!

There is a lie going around in our culture that we have to be doing, doing, doing... going, going, going. I love doing things and I love going places, I love being productive with my time, but its okay to relax and enjoy seasons of rest. I am not condoning being lazy and unmotivated I just know that in this season of my life right now God is giving me permission to rest, he wants me to be obedient to my changing body.

 Organizing my school room, cleaning out the fridge, planting a garden, can all wait... at least for a while. This precious little life inside me needs me to rest so he/she can grow healthy and strong and obviously needs all the fatty foods I am transferring.

Soon enough I will start to wake up and actually feel like getting out of bed, making a nice breakfast for my family, and putting on something besides my stretchy pants. I will be in nesting mode ridding the house of dust bunnies and cleaning every little crevice, making sure everything is in its proper place but until then I will try my hardest not to feel bad if I don't care about the piles of laundry in my bedroom waiting to be folded and the ring around the bathtub.  This is just a season... and I am going to embrace it.

What kind of season are you in?

 Is it a busy season of serving and giving, a creative season of making and doing, a rich season of growing in God's word and hearing his voice, a dry season of waiting and crying out to him, a peaceful and joyful season of enjoying God's goodness and grace, a difficult season of hardship and trials, or a season of rest and reflection???

Whatever season you are in..embrace it.. embrace what God wants you to learn and grow in. Ask him what he wants to teach you through this time in your life. Don't compare your season to someone else's... we are all in different places in our life. We can not expect to all be in the same place, learning or doing the same things. Don't feel bad if your season doesn't look like someone else's. But make sure you are right where God wants you to be. If you are not, ask him to help you surrender to His will. In His will is the best place to be!

Jam with Bread

Saturday, April 27, 2013

There is nothing you can buy on a shelf that compares to homemade jam and bread!

I have great memories of making bread with my mom. We didn't make the traditional loaf bread but Challah bread: a braided, Jewish egg bread. My father was a Messianic Jew( a Jew who believes in Jesus) and my mother was as gentile as you can get but I think she enjoyed the Jewish customs more then my dad did. Making Challah  was very time consuming and labor intensive but when it came hot out of the oven, the fresh smell permeating the air, slathered with butter... it was heavenly.

Now I am making memories with my children that I hope they will cherish when they get older.

I have made Challah many times since my childhood, but I have gone the more traditional route now with good ol' loaf bread.

I am by no means a Bread Artisan but I have learned a few things from my many attempts, failures and triumphs in bread making.

Along with learning to make bread I have also added making my own jam. I never learned to make jam growing up but since becoming a strawberry picker it just seemed the natural thing to do.

My husband's Grandpa who we call Great Papa, makes the best bread, seriously! He is 94 years old and he still makes bread every week! All the grandchildren and great grandchildren usually devour it  as soon as he makes it. Maybe its that he has 16 great grandchildren who visit weekly, to explain why it is gone so fast. As soon as we go to his house they all ask for "Papa bread." More beautiful memories being made that I know I will cherish probably even more then they do.
He is an amazing pianist and he always seems to have a baby in his arms

His wife who has gone to be with Jesus in Glory 2 years ago,who we all, especially great papa, miss terribly( they were married over 75 years!!!!).... was the jam maker.  I think her strawberry jam was the first homemade jam I ever ate. Mmmm... was it good! Showing interest in making my own, she gave me some good advice to get started. I don't make it as good as hers but it still tastes good.

Yes, I love making my own bread and jam just for the health benefits and the taste, but mostly I believe there is something very special about making food with love for and with your family. It connects you and creates memories that are so simple and precious. Maybe when you smell yeast rising bread in your home it reminds you of special times or fresh strawberries heating over the stove ready to be turned into something wonderful, of loved ones who have gone on before you.

Some of you may not relate and when you think of making your own bread or jam you think of a hot, messy kitchen with nothing to show for it. Yes, your kitchen will get messy( especially if you let the kids help, or even if you don't have kids;) and yes, things might not always turn out as you would like( believe me) but then when you do finally get it right, the reward would not be as sweet if you didn't go through some trials and mishaps.

You don't have to cook or bake at home to make memories with your loved ones, because lets face it; some of us just can not cook worth a lick, but food is something we all have in common, so why not put a little love and effort into it at least once in a while?

 In a world that is driven by fast convenience and a quick satisfaction don't you think your family deserves to slow down and find out about the hard work  and effort that goes into making what we consume? The satisfaction and enjoyment you receive when you put your heart into something compared to  picking it off a shelf and forking over money, is not to be snickered at, it is to be cherished.

Don't get me wrong , there are many days I thank God I can run to the grocery store and just "pick" something out that somebody else got paid to prepare!! But when life isn't too crazy I thank God also that I have the ability and privilege to make my family food, I prepared myself and know exactly what went into. At those times it just does my heart good to know that at least once in a while my family is consuming something that not only tastes good but is good for them and maybe balances out all the other trash we stuff down our mouths.

Sorry I didn't mean to go off on a tangent... I just got carried away I guess.

So with out further ado I would like to share with you the bread and jam recipes that I use.

I have tried many different bread recipes and gotten many different results. I have tried complicated recipes that required 3 times of rising and soaking the bread overnight to aid in better digestion, to simple recipes that went straight from the bowl to the oven. I have even tried to glean some wisdom from Great Papa and watched and took notes as he made his bread (which was very helpful)but I have learned that making bread is an art, sometimes you just have to go with your gut and throw the recipes to the wind till you find what works for you.

I will try to relate as best as I can what I have found that has worked for me. Don't worry I will put it in recipe form but I encourage you as you mix, knead and pour to go with what feels best, even if its not exactly the right measurements.

I found this recipe on pinterest that is very simple and very good: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/simple-whole-wheat-bread/detail.aspx
Basically all you need for bread is:  a good yeast( I buy mine in bulk), warm water, sugar(or honey) and flour(bread flour) and butter or oil.

1.You want to let the water and yeast sit for about 10 minutes with about a tsp. honey until it bubbles up
2.  Add your butter, or oil and honey,then mix in the flour 1 cup at a time, till you get a smooth mixture. As you keep adding the flour it will start to form into a dough, you don't want it to be sticky but make sure you don't add too much flour.
3. Like I have shared before I use flour I buy in bulk from a coop www.Haleysilo.com and mill it myself in a mill, here is a helpful site to get you stated if you are interested. http://www.breadmachinedigest.com/tips/milling-your-own-flour-the-hows-and-whys.php but I also use bread flour with it.
 I actually like kneading the bread with my hands, I know I am crazy... and so do the little ones.  

If I don't want a big mess I just kneed it in the bowl and put oil on my hands to keep it from sticking. When you are ready to let it rise cover the dough lightly with oil and turn in bowl till its coated

4. Follow the directions in the recipe for letting it rise. It usually takes 1 hr for the 1st rise, I usually turn the oven on and put it on top and cover it with a towel
5.It should be double in size
6.Punch the dough down and  knead it again for about 10 minutes, until all the air is out
7. Shape into loaves that fit comfortably in their pans, not too big but not too small

8.Let them rise till they are above the pans, make sure they do not rise to much or they will deflate when they go in the oven. If that does happen punch down the dough and make into loaves again.

9. Pop them in the oven for 30 minutes till they are golden brown and brush butter on top
the kids love making their own little loaves

10.Place a knife around the inside of the pans to let the bread out and rest on a cooling rack or cutting board
Make sure you have a bread knife, or you will rip the bread

Slather with butter by itself or honey or jam

Bite in and enjoy!...mmmm
You can't have bread without jam, so here is how you make jam:! All you need is the sure jell, lots of sugar and strawberries or your berry of choice, and a little gumption.

I know you are thinking you just got making bread under your belt and now I am asking you to try making jam! As with anything you have never tried, the thought of the unknown can be more daunting then the task, but once you dig in your heels and determine to do it, it isn't as hard as you thought. You just have to try it or you'll never know. Yes the 1st time may not always go perfectly but if you keep at it you will become and expert and everyone will think you are awesome because you make your own jam, or at least your husband. Just in case word spreads that you are making jam in your kitchen you might want to make a double batch.

The Sure Jell  directions will take you through the process step by step. I use the jam recipe. Just so you know I do not "can" my jam. I am just too lazy... you can figure that out if you want to. Its on my list of things to learn someday, but for now I simply make the jam and put it in the fridge and we consume it. I have never had a problem with it going bad, so I am sticking to my guns.

1. You wan't to put all the strawberries in the blender of food processor till smooth, I like to leave it a little chunky.

2. Follow the directions for cooking on the stove, I usually cook for about a minute longer
you can add butter to decrease the foaming, but I like the foam
3. Make sure you add the right amount of sugar or it wont jell properly

4. Pour into prepared jars that are clean and dry. I usually save jars all year.
 1 batch made 7 jars for me but it can also depend on what size you use
  Isn't it cute? That wasn't too bad was it? You can now add making homemade jam to your list of homemaking abilities and have some Tea with jam and bread...that you made yourself;)

Changing the Old into Something New

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sorry, I forgot to take a picture before I started painting it, but
you get the picture.
Change is a crucial part of life. Everything in our lives change whether we like it or not. I look back in my life and am so thankful for the changes that have taken place in my character and in my surroundings.

Wouldn't it be awful if things always stayed the same? I would still think I am right in certain areas that I have been wrong. I would not have developed in my attitudes and actions.

Just as I desire to grow and improve in my heart and mind I am always looking to find ways to better my home and its appearance.

Can you imagine if we were still stuck in the style of the 60's and 70's??... Yuck! Now I realize that for some reason old styles always come back with a new twist, some of which I like and some which I think are very distasteful.

Each year I look back and think how out of style I was last year, and next year I might think the same, the point is everything about our lives and culture is changing. Sometimes it can be hard to find out who we really are in this revolving world. The question is, are we being changed by our culture or by God? I for one want to stay true to who God has called me to be and to change and transform in the areas that He wants me to, that need refreshing and revamping.

Here's one of my favorite verses:
" Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

You are probably wondering what this has to do with that ugly dresser...? I am getting there.

When I found this dresser at a garage sale for $15 I knew it would make a perfect t.v. console.It needed a lot of work but I had great intentions to fix it up as soon as I brought it home. It quickly went to the bottom of my list of things to do though as other things needed my more immediate attention. I was tempted many times to just go and buy a new t.v. stand but being that our budget was tight I knew that I should just make the best with what I had.

It can seem so easy to just go and buy something new but I find when I make do with what I have, it forces me to be creative. It is so satisfying to take something old and dingy and make it into something new and to know that I did it.

I find that if I don't get to something right away, I usually never get around to it. I finally couldn't stand looking at the peeling, black paint any longer, it was time to do something about it! So without wasting any more time I went to the store and bought some spray paint.

I found a pretty turquoise color that  I knew would brighten up the dresser.
Now I have always been very leery of bright colors. I guess I am just scarred of  the commitment.
I like nice safe colors, but I decided to go out of my comfort zone and I am glad I did!

The paint only cost around $4( I used 2) and I was pleasantly surprised how nice and easy it went on.
I didn't realize how much stuff we had inside!

I put Izzy to work sanding off the old paint. Make sure you get off any old paint off of whatever project you are working on. If you don't it will just peal off again. Learn from my mistake and don't pick the hottest part of the day to spray paint, it will start to bubble up and drip. Make sure you do it outside though because the smell is nauseating!  Even though I waited a while to bring it in, the smell still lingered for a while but it was all worth it!

Here is the old set up... dark and dingy

And here is the new and improved version ...bright and colorful!! Quite a change huh? And all for $8! Isn't amazing what a little elbow grease and a can of paint can do? I have to say I love looking at the new set up, it just makes me happy! Who needs t.v. when you have such a bright and cheery spot to look at? Am I overreacting?

 I already had all the pictures I hung up on the wall, I think they like their new home.

I don't know how long it will be till I feel the need to change things again but isn't that the fun of caring for your home?.. changing things around until they fit just right? Nothing in this life will ever be just right but that's the challenge.. to make it the best it can be... its so rewarding.

If you have anything around your house that you know could be better, make a project out of it, make it into something beautiful. Make your house not just a place where you live but a place that you enjoy living in.

 Isn't that what God does with us? We were old, dirty and falling apart and he tenderly puts us back together, cleans us out and makes us new, useful and beautiful... a place where He wants to live!

The Oxymoron of Christ

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Innocent and pure you became stained and defiled with my sin.
My guilt was so deep, my heart so wicked that you had to step in.

Lord and creator you gave up your rights.
You suffered in the dark, even though you were the Father of lights.

Wise and all knowing, you were made to look like a fool.
You were rejected and disgraced yet you kept your cool.

The richest of Kings, you dined with the poor.
You gave up your throne so they could have more.

Master and Savior you became a servant to all.
Humbling yourself to those who at your feet should fall

Powerful and Mighty, you became a helpless babe.
The ones that carried you, you would one day save.

Faithful and True, you were betrayed and denied.
You were handed over to death, by those for whom you died.

Father and Friend you were left all alone.
You were mistreated by those whose sins you would atone.

Loving and Kind you were hated and despised.
You continually held out your hands to a world that is never satisfied.

Undeserving and Wicked, you did this all for me.
You took my place on the cross and exchanged your glory for my eternity.

-Rebekah Harris

 Linking up here!

Simple Joys of Today

Monday, April 15, 2013

Today my children are happy to play with toads and dig holes in the dirt

Today they laugh any time they hear the word fart or poop

Today they get excited  about putting frozen waffles in the toaster

Today they are quick to give a kiss and a hug

Today they are content to play with legos and watch a silly cartoon

Today they smile with sweet, innocent eyes

Today their biggest worry is that they have to do school and chores

Today they tease each other and whine, thinking they are always right

Today a bouncy ball brings hours of entertainment

Today they cry for reasons that they think are of the utmost importance

Today they can't decide which bait they should put on their fishing poles

Today they whisper tender secrets into each others ears

Today I wish that they could stay this way forever

Today is quickly becoming a memory without us even noticing

So I treasure these simple moments that childhood is all about and entrust them to the one who holds their tomorrow's.

Strawberry Kefir Smoothie

Friday, April 12, 2013

Strawberry smoothies have always been my favorite smoothies. They are so refreshing and delicious, especially on hot summer days. It wasn't till last year that I started adding kefir to them and I have to say it is a great improvement, not only in taste but in the health benefits. Kefir you say, what is kefir? I will try to explain as best as I can.

Kefir is a fermented milk drink. I know you are thinking fermented??....ewww!, but it is rich with friendly bacteria that provide natural protection  against many diseases out there. Kefir is a probiotic that keeps your good bacteria up to full strength so that it can combat whatever bad bacteria comes in contact with you. Everywhere you go you are hearing about probiotics, well this is one you want to find out about. I am not going to tell you if you start drinking kefir you will be free from sickness and disease( we live in a sinful, imperfect world) but it will help build up your immunity so you might not fall sick as much. Hey, it won't hurt you to try it.

When I first heard about kefir, I was not sold on the whole fermented thing right away, but it has grown on me and I love it now. It has a tangy taste similar to buttermilk with the same texture. I know drinking buttermilk can sound unappealing, but when it is mixed in a smoothie its addicting.

 It does take a little time to prepare, but hardly any effort.

You can buy it in the store; in the milk section but it is so much better for you if you can make it fresh at home.

First you want to get your own kefir grains, they are bacteria and yeast mixture clumped together.
 Don't they look like little white brains?

I bought mine online from  www.HappyHerbalist.com click on the link for kefir. They are about 15$ but it is worth it and the cool thing is, is as you use them they grow and multiply so you can share yours with your friends if you want.

I also suggest going on you tube, this is  a great short and simple video that helped me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FeQBqLAeTQ

Basically all you need is: Milk, a strainer, a glass jar and the kefir grains to get started.

I recommend using raw milk but if that is hard for you to get or you are not comfortable with it you can use regular old pasturized milk( though its way better with raw)

You can usually find a co op near your area that sells raw milk.

Disregard that it says for human consumption only, they have to say that to sell it. I am a human and I can testify that I consumed it and it was good;)

I know you have been wondering when I will get to showing you how to make a kefir smoothie, so I wont prolong you any longer.

1. get your kefir grains and put them in a big glass jar, like a mason jar
2. pour milk, leaving an inch at the top
3.cover with paper towel and secure with rubber band or canning jar rim
4. let sit 24 hrs in a cool dry place, it should be thick and creamy when ready

5.Stir and strain out grains

You now have smooth, creamy kefir! Don't be disappointed if it doesn't set right the first time to a nice thick consistency. Sometimes the kefir grains need to go through one or two times of sitting out until they work right in my experience.

Store the kefir grains in a glass jar with some milk in it. They will stay fine in the fridge for a long time even if you don't use them for a while.

Now for the good part! 
Add 1 frozen banana

Frozen berries of your choice 1 cup
Orange concentrate, or orange juice 1 cup

2 Tbs honey

add 1 cup prepared kefir
get someone real cute to push the buttons
you now have a thick and creamy smoothie, that you will be able guzzle all down by yourself

Here's a little secret, if you have picky eaters that don't eat their veggies but like fruit, put some spinach in the smoothie and I promise they won't even know it:)

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