Monday, July 23, 2012

A Time for Everything - Keeping Blogging in Its Place

I realize that I haven't been around as much lately as I would like to be. I truly enjoy blogging, even though I'm still a baby in the blog world. I would love to be able to write lengthy posts every day with mouthwatering recipes, inspirational decorating ideas, and insightful thoughts on scriptures. However, it simply hasn't been the time for this lately.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Esslesiastes 3:1-8

For me, these weeks have been a time to be especially close to family and to pull away a bit from the internet world. I've taken time off from Facebook as well to nourish real life relationships where you ask your loved ones how their day went instead of checking their social media posts and assuming that you're keeping up to date with their lives. 

I'm not going to stop blogging completely, but it may continue to be slow for awhile. As with everything, there's a time for writing and a time for speaking; a time for guests and a time for family; a time to be public and a time to keep private; a time for study and a time for application. I couldn't in any good faith write about the importance of family and home and marriage while turning my back on those very things to keep my nose in the computer. 

When I get our home and family life back into balance, I'll be more than happy to report back and let you know how we did it. It's important to me to find a place in my schedule for this writing, because it's something I love to do, and a community that a enjoy being a part of. As with all things, however, it's a no brainer that the priorities here at home will always come first.

Blessings to you all, and I hope to be back blogging soon!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

How to Find Family Fun in Your State

Bel-Aire Diner
Image: justephens @ Flickr
The summer months are prime time for family vacations. Whether you're looking to fill a weekend or several weeks, there's sure to be something interesting nearby. You don't need to break the bank or board an airplane to find attractions to explore with your family. Here are some great resources to get you started:

Roadside America - a listing of quirky, strange, interesting, and educational sites throughout the U.S.

Time: Top 50 American Roadside Attractions - Did your hometown make the list?

National Register of Historic Places - A comprehensive guide to parks, gardens, historic homes and other great sites in the U.S.

Roadside Online - A searchable guide to great roadside diners

If you don't see something interesting in your area with these sites, just Google "*City* attractions," "*City* museums," or "*City* parks" for the name of your city. You may surprised at what comes up. Many public parks and museums are free of charge. Even those that do have an admission fee often host a special night once a month where families can visit for free.

Get to know your hometown and the surrounding areas a little better and you'll find endless opportunities for family fun this summer. Getting out of the house and learning new things together is a great way to become closer with both your children and your spouse. Don't forget the camera for these unforgettable memories.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Creative Organization - New Uses for Old Stuff

As we were preparing for our latest move, I combed the house for any kind of storage or organization piece that I might be able to use for something. Our new apartment is much smaller than our last one so I knew we'd need to make good use of every bit of space. Fortunately I was able to find a lot of fun solutions without spending a penny, just by giving some old items a new purpose in life.

Shoe holder turned laundry room organizer - perfect for storing dryer sheets, lint rollers, laundry bags, and stain treatment

Desk organizer for paper (that I've had since high school when we had a lot more paper and a lot fewer laptops) turned kitchen organizer for cutting boards, baking sheets, and my doughnut pan

Candle holder turned nail polish holder. My son gets credit for this one. He dumped out the little tealight candles and filled it with bottles of nail polish himself one day (the expert in fitting small things into small places)

Photo clip for recipe cards.

CD binder for DVDs (3D glasses fit perfectly in the pockets in the front)
I hate throwing things away, so I'm always thrilled when I can find a new use for something that's been laying around taking up space for awhile. Most anything that's capable of holding or storing something else can be re-purposed. Keep your eyes out for perfectly-sized spaces and you'll be surprised what you might come up with.

For more fun organization solutions, follow my Organization board on Pinterest. If you have some creative solutions of your own, I'd love to hear them! Feel free to leave a note in the comments below, and happy organizing!


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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Just Do It - Lessons I've Learned Doing Dishes

Dirty Dishes
Photo: by Svadilfari @ Flickr
I almost started a major war this week...over the dishes. Now I really hate the dishes. And my husband really hates the dishes. So needless to say, these greasy little monsters can be a big source of trouble in our home. These dishes are becoming a powerful example of what being a good help meet really means. I'm not sure I like that, but as with so many of God's lessons for us, the real problem is just that the divine truth of it all chafes against my petty, sinful, human nature.

I made major progress in the war of the dirty dishes this week when I realized the best and most graceful thing I could possibly do about this little point of contention was simply to wash them. This is typically my job and I try to just keep up with it so it doesn't get too bad, but every now and then they'll pile up. My husband will see my mounting anxiety as I glance into the kitchen, and like my prince he offers to do them. Only he doesn't always do them that very second, and I have a very bad tendency of starting an internal stopwatch from the moment that he says those words. From that point on I keep checking that stopwatch and like a boiling kettle, I slowly get angrier and angrier until I start screaming and boil over. Not a pretty sight.

For some reason, instead of taking his offer as the graceful and kind gesture that it is, I use it as an excuse to hassle him about not checking items off his to-do list as quickly as I might want him to. The other morning I woke up with that stopwatch still running from the night before. I grabbed a drink from the kitchen and as I was heading out I realized how incredibly petty and stupid of me it was to just leave the dishes there if they were bothering me so much. A little voice in my head asked "Is this really how you're blessing your family?" And then I knew. It took only a few minutes of climbing off my high horse to clear up the pile and dump a great load of simmering resentment off my heart.

We all have our own struggles, but if you're simmering about something you want someone else to do, instead of getting angrier and angrier that they're not acting the way you want...why not just do it yourself? Give them a little blessing, take the load off their shoulders, and move that kettle off of the flame. In the great dance of marriage, dishes really aren't worth a moment of anger or discontentment. Just do it.

Photobucket

Sunday, June 24, 2012

"Mom's Busy" Vegetable Beef Slow Cooker Soup

This is my absolute favorite recipe for vegetable beef soup. And like all my favorite recipes, it came about as a result of lots of experimentation, dozens of variations, and many happy full tummies.

This is quick and easy to whip up, making it perfect for those days when you look at your schedule and can't possibly image how you'll have time to make dinner.

One of the best things about this soup is that you can tailor it to your family so easily. Know your audience and swap out the veggies however you need to to get your own version that your family will love.

Here's our recipe:

"Mom's Busy" Vegetable Beef Slow Cooker Soup

  • 1 can whole kernel corn, with liquid
  • 1 can peas, with liquid
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, with liquid
  • 5 or 6 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 small red potatoes, diced
  • 1 pound beef stew meat, raw
  • 1/3 cup diced onion
  • 3 beef bullion cubes
  • 1 to 2 cups water (or enough to cover the meat and veggies)
  • 1/2 teaspoon herbes de provence (or basil, oregano, marjoram, and rosemary to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on high 6 to 8 hours, or until meat is cooked through. If you forget to thaw the meat all the way the night before, you can throw it in as a half-frozen lump. Just come back in a few hours to break it up so it will cook through thoroughly.

**Quicker variation - Use baby carrots cut in halves instead of peeling the carrots, replace diced fresh onion with minced dried onion, and use a can of whole white potatoes instead of the red.

If your family has favorite veggies and herbs, feel free to swap them out. Green beans, mushrooms, celery, turnips...the options are endless. 

Serve with a side salad and cornbread for a hearty, satisfying dinner.

Friday, June 22, 2012

10 Ways to Be Like the Proverbs 31 Woman

“There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart...pursue those.”~Michael Nolan
Image: katerha @ Flickr
The Proverbs 31 woman sets some pretty high standards for us to live up to, but learning to walk in her footsteps can be as simple as learning a few new habits, one small step at a time.

  • Commit to Never Speaking Ill of Your HusbandShe brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life (Proverbs 31:12) Many women today not only have a habit of defaulting to negatively-toned gossip when they get together, they've also cultivated a club of husband-bashing. Even if it seems humorous to compare all the mishaps of faltering husbands, don't do it. Find ways to praise him instead and see if you can't turn your conversation toward honoring your husbands instead of demeaning them.
  • Learn to Grocery Shop WiselyShe is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. (Proverbs 31:14) There's so much to say on this one that it may become a week-long series. There are tons of resources available to help you learn to shop smart and feed your family well. Make sure you understand the basics of finding good deals, planning a weekly menu, and feeding your family a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Get Up Before Everyone ElseShe gets up while it is still night (Proverbs 31:15) If you're not a morning person, this one might take some practice, but in time you'll wake up first out of habit without even needing an alarm.
  • Grow Your Own FoodShe considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. (Proverbs 31:16) Even in an apartment you can consider your windowsill and plant some herbs. This has been on my to-do list for years, but hopefully you'll see some gardening posts popping up here in the future.
  • Maintain a Budget She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. (Proverbs 31:18) When you're aware of not only where your money comes from, but exactly where it goes, you'll be able to live comfortably within your means, without worrying at the end of the month if there's enough left to pay the power bill for another month.
  • Get Involved in CharityShe opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy (Proverbs 31:20) There are so many wonderful charities, you can find something to get involved in no matter where your interests lie. Find a way to give back that uses your talents and benefits something you're passionate about.
  • Practice Emergency PreparednessWhen it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. (Proverbs 31:21) God will always find new challenges to help us learn and grow in faith. Being prepared allows you to face them without fear. This could mean packing an emergency kit for your car, keeping road salt in winter, or stocking up on food and water for hurricane season.
  • Support Your HusbandHer husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. (Proverbs 31:23) There are so many ways that a smart wife can help her husband advance in his career. Support him, encourage him, and help him in everything he does. (Beside Every Successful Man is a great resource on this)
  • Learn to Speak WiselyShe speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. (Proverbs 31:26) If you feel like you just don't know what to say, there are two very simple ways to fulfill this. Refrain from speaking just to fill the silence, and begin reading the bible and memorizing verses that will come to your aid.
  • Keep Busy She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. (Proverbs 31:27) Set a schedule for housekeeping so you can stay on top of everything. Organization is essential to watching over your household wisely. 
Embodying all the aspects of the perfect Proverbs 31 woman can be intimidating, but picking one or two small habits to add to your routine is so much more manageable. What little steps will you take to become more like the Proverbs 31 woman?


Thursday, June 21, 2012

3 Online Resources for Bible Study

While I have to admit that there's still no substitute for the satisfying weight of a bible in my hands, the amazing growth of the internet has provided me with several resources that have truly transformed bible study for me. Though I've always known that bible reading should take precedence in my daily life, there have been many times when it got swept to the side in the hectic pace of everyday life. With these great resources, however, I've finally been able to keep up with daily bible reading (by the end of the year I'll have read the Old Testament once and New Testament twice), diligently read daily devotionals, and study the word in greater depth than ever before.

YouVersion for iPhone
You Version - This is both a web site and an app. I use the app on my iPhone to keep up with my daily bible reading plan. This is great for me because I always have it close by so I can catch up in the car, waiting for a doctor's appointment, or anywhere else that's convenient. I usually grab my phone and do my reading before I get out of bed in the morning. Best of all, the app sends me a reminder each morning in case I forgot to do the reading, and sends emails encouraging me to catch up if I've fallen behind. Other features I love:

  • Bookmarks to highlight and keep track of favorite verses (I later transfer these to note cards for continued study)
  • Search feature so you can look for specific verses or words
  • Community notes in the online version, so you can share thoughts with other readers
  • A wide variety of reading plans from whole bible, to short devotionals (I'm working on the Solid Life Reading Plan and love it.)

Bible Gateway - This web site is my favorite go-to when I want to study a specific book or verse in more depth. The search feature allows you to compare several versions of the bible side by side. I find this to be a fascinating way to get deeper insight. The site also has its own reading plans, devotionals, commentaries, and more.



1-Minute Bible Love Notes - This blog posts daily devotionals every weekday. They're short, sweet and to the point so I'm always able to find time to read them. My favorite thing about these is that you can subscribe to have the daily devotional sent straight to your in-box. You can also hop over to the blog and say hi to Gail, or leave your own thoughts on the day's devotional. This is a great way to get in touch with other readers and bloggers and learn from one another.





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