March 27, 2015

Planning for April Meals and Holidays

I cannot believe it is already the last Friday of March.  The week behind us has not been so stressful but with allergy season in full swing I have not been super productive.  I have, however, found some lovely links for you.  I am thinking about planning meals a lot this week.  I am also starting to think toward Easter and Passover.  We started the 1 Peter Study with Love God Greatly and I am continuing to read the Bible through and work through the If:Equip passages and videos to prepare us for Easter.  I have enjoyed my study time a great deal this week.  The more I study the more I want to study.  I have also been listening to some of the daily readings again on YouVersion.  I love that they have audio on many of the translations.  It is good to hear God's word read aloud.

I have spent some time menu planning for the month of April.  I am adding some categories to bring a little more creativity back to our system.  We will do a Pasta night, Asian night, Mexican night, Comfort Food night, Soup and Salad night, Vegetarian night and a CORD night.  CORD stands for Clean Out Refrigerator Day (got that from an old Once a Month Cooking book on the shelf).  I am trying to wean us down to one dessert night a week.  I am also trying to be more diligent in preparing things ahead for breakfasts and lunch.  I am going to add a day each week to make things for the freezer.

With all this talk of food most of my links are food related this week...

The standard things like muffins and waffles are easy enough to make ahead and freeze but here are a few more great ideas that I pinned this week.  I have some standard quick bread recipes that make great breakfast breads and I think adding a coffee cake (Overnight Coffee Cake) every now and then might be a really nice treat.  I want to make something that the kids can just take out of the refrigerator or freezer and heat up.  The less work for me in the mornings the better.  That way they don't have to wait on their arthritic mom to be moving quickly enough to feed them all.  They will be grateful, too!

We eat a lot of eggs so I thought this might be a great option for them... Egg and Spinach Quiche Cups - I would, personally, use whole eggs instead of just egg whites for this one.  I will be doing a test run on these soon.

Kat over at InspiredtoAction has mentioned that she does a bulk batch of burritos to freezer for her family so I took some time to look for a recipe to test drive soon.  This one is the one I like so far... DIY Frozen Breakfast Burritos

I thought if the burritos worked why not breakfast sandwiches so this will be happening soon, too.... Freezer Breakfast Sandwiches

There are days when my children just want a good thick smoothie to get them started so this is a great idea, too,  We can have Smoothie Kits ready to go in the refrigerator for them to drop in and blend.

Now, this idea might be a smaller serving than the kids would prefer but I have a jumbo muffin tin that might make it a better size for those teenagers.  I know my husband and boys are fans of oatmeal so this might be a great quick solution for those hurried mornings... DIY Freezer Oatmeal Cups

After all this work to prepare meals for my family I think I am going to need a little treat for myself once I get the chance to sit down for a few minutes.  A lovely Chai Tea would certainly do the trick.  I found a great recipe at Food52 for an Almost Instant Chai Recipe.

Now, for two more articles for Passover and Easter for your enjoyment...

We have a slower weekend ahead and I have several books in progress that I am hoping to have some cozy time to enjoy.  Stuff in my "to read" stack for the rest of the month and forward...

and a commentary I am starting this weekend for the 1 Peter study...

I also have a great new resource I picked up to help me start to organize my personal recipes that I have written.  I have fallen in love with the Moleskine line of journals since I started my Bullet Journal last semester.  They have them for just about anything you can imagine from cooking/baking to music, wine, organizing, budgeting, etc...  Their website is a writer's dream!

I cannot wait to get started...

Happy Friday!

March 24, 2015

Read Every Day...

I endeavored to read a book a week as we began this new year and I have failed miserably.  I am approximately 8 books behind but I have five books in progress.  I am relentlessly famous for reading several at a time and taking forever to finish any one of them in an expedient manner.  It is a flaw.... a chink in my armor, so to speak.

I have evaluated this mess and come to the conclusion that I need to set daily goals to become successful at reading more.  I have done some research and made some lists and here are some things I have learned along the way.

1.   I, personally, want to read the Bible first... every day... before I read anything else.  
I want to open God's word before the computer comes on or the phone draws me in or before any other book is opened.  I have no excuse for not doing this.  There are helps all over the internet for this and Bibles specifically designed to lay out my reading plan each day.  The key is doing it!  I need to set that alarm and open that Bible first thing and read.  I have been reading through it again this year in the HCSB version and I am using a plan from an official Read the Bible in a Year website through the app.  This does mean I have to turn a phone or computer or reader on to see the passages for the day but I am training myself to go just to the app and start without being drawn into all the other bells and whistles on the devices.  I have even taken to listening to my Old Testament passages through the auditory feature provided and it has done wonders for getting me through the Leviticus and Numbers sections.  I have stayed on track much more this year by using that feature.

2.   Why Should We Read Every Day?

Other people... smarter than me, have written about this so I thought I would share a quick list of my favorite reasons in link form to those articles.  The benefits are great for everyone in many facets of our lives.

7 Unconventional Reasons Why You Absolutely Should Be Reading Books

3.   Pick a Book and Make a Plan

Pick books you know you will enjoy.  I try to read authors recommended by people that like the same kinds of books I do or I read books by authors I already know I enjoy.  I read books on topics I really want to learn more about or on something that really sparks my interest.  I have put books down.  Life is too short to read a book you hate.  If it is going nowhere in about 50 pages I let it go.  If the author is just not connecting with me or insulting me I cut them loose.  No one needs to read stuff they don't enjoy.... unless it is necessary for a degree.  Those I have to finish.  LOL

Once you know what you are reading make a plan on how much to read each day.  Set aside time to read and hit that goal each day and in no time at all you will finish another book and your brain will thank you.

Here are more suggestions for making your plan from others who have found what works for them...

and my favorite...

Now that I have some ideas of how to make this work for me I am sitting down with pen and paper and writing out some goals that I will put into effect immediately in hopes of getting back on track with my reading for 2015.  I won't let it defeat me!

I hear Dave Ramsey quote Charlie Jones all the time.

Motivational speaker Charlie Jones said,
“You’re the same today as you will be in five years except for two things: 
the people you meet and the books you read.”

So, what are you waiting for.... get reading every day and see how it changes you!

from EvolutionStopsHere (click photo for link to photo resource)

One more little bonus link for my bookish pals.  
If you want a cool list of literary events for 365 days of the year this is the one.... Flavorwire's Ultimate Literary Calendar.  

Check it out!

March 20, 2015

Some Favorites for Friday - Welcome to Spring 2015 Edition

Hold onto your hats folks... the wind of Spring is kicking up and there is lots to share!  True to form we have had wind and rain to get this new season started in style.   I love rain... it makes everything feel fresh and clean and after the dust left by the wind it has been nice.

this graphic comes from She Reads Truth... isn't it beautiful?

 Let's not waste any time jumping right in today...

*   I have one straggler from last week's St. Pat's Day lineup that I found later.  It is a list of 25 Irish Sayings to Live By.  Very fun and informative!  I love learning about other cultures and languages.  Hope you can work one or two of these into your daily conversations soon.  Hahaha

*   I discovered some new things this week.  I may be way behind the times on these things but I wanted to share them anyway.  I discovered a fun new remodel show called Fixer Upper and I am in love!!!  Since our home has been in a constant state of remodeling for the almost 12 years we have been here I find this show very inspiring and fun and it is set in Texas, too.  Hope you give it a look-see.  

*   I also found a new grammar site to use with our homeschooler called Grammar Bytes.  It is full of terms, examples, videos, tips, rules, and practice pages using different grammar elements.  Have a look around and see if it is something you guys can use, too.  Look out for the shark!  He will BYTE you... ;)

*   I have a weekend project I found on Pinterest this week.  It is an organizing caddy for all those pesky electronics cords.  I have my shoebox ready to go and I will try and work on it tomorrow afternoon.  It is a great rainy day project and we are expecting a rainy day so it is perfect!  

*   I have been using the Plan To Eat site to menu plan since January and I am loving it.  You can always click through on the link in my left-hand column to find out more at anytime.  There are no strings attached to just click through and check it out.  Even if you don't want to use their service it is free to get on their e-mail list and they send great articles and recipes out each week.  You can also check out their Facebook page and everything there is free, too.  This week's article is all about "What is Seasonal  in Spring?"  They are great about encouraging us to use real whole foods and seasonal ingredients to prepare meals for our family that are nutritional and wholesome.  

*   I read through a few great articles this week.  

- An article called Still Life by Liz Curtis Higgs 
for us older ladies in the bunch

-  One entitled 9 Unbiblical Statements that Bible Loving Christians Believe
I believe this is self explanatory and it is very good!

-  A great article/review on the new Cinderella movie called 
Cinderella:  Have Courage and Be Kind

*   There is a new study starting up on Monday with the Love God Greatly group on 1 & 2 Peter and our little Bible study group will be diving in with them.  There is still time to get on board.  This time there is no registration outside of making sure you are on their e-mail list to get the blog posts and the free study material links.  I encourage you to study along with them and share it with your friends, too.  Check out their blog for all the details!  They are on Facebook, too, if you want to sub to their page.

*   Two more things to share with you.... it is nearly the end of tax season and if you were wondering how long to keep certain papers this is a great printable guide to post to remind you.  How Long Should I Keep It For?   It is a free printable from Clean Mama  While you are there have a look around.  She has a great blog!

*  I tried a new recipe this week and wanted to let you guys know about it.  It was not hard to do and not very time consuming but it was so delicious.  It is going into our regular lineup now.  It is Oven Fried Chicken w/ Honey Mustard Sauce.  Mercy!!!

I leave you with this beautiful worship song I downloaded to my ipod this week.  May God bless you and your family this weekend as you celebrate the beginning of Spring.  

March 13, 2015

Favorite Things.... St. Patrick's Day edition

With St. Patrick's Day on the way next Tuesday I thought I would share the things I have been reading through and searching this week.  I am getting ready to send a package to the oldest and wanted a "package-able" snack that I could make.  I found these two great recipes that should do well in the mail if I wrap them well.  I am making them both today.  I already know the package won't be there by Tuesday but I can guarantee my oldest will not mind one bit as long as he gets to enjoy everything once it does arrive.  

The first recipe is a white chocolate, Bailey's Irish Cream and pistachio fudge recipe that is super simple.  The hardest part of this recipe is the stirring on the stovetop.  Here is my first shot of the stuff as it goes into the refrigerator to chill:

The second recipe is one I will be trying this afternoon.  It is a Pistachio Lime Shortbread but I think I am doing it without the lime just because I don't want another trip to the store this week.  Haha  I seem to go far too much for stuff that is last minute these days.  I will try to remember to get back on and share some finished photos of everything.

I find that, while it is cool to write my own recipes, it is not always necessary when other people have some delicious stuff, too.  I am not nuts about only using my own recipes and am willing to give others recipes at least a try.  If I love them they go in the file to use them again and again and I will gladly share them with the world and give full credit to the culinary genius who brought them to us.  

I do play in the kitchen and write my own recipes from time to time, though.  I did make a paleo cheesecake for a friend this week and winged it a bit.  I am writing what I do down as I go and when we have a real winner I will share it with you.  I am grateful for my guinea pigs that are willing to try my stuff (family and friends locally).  I am grateful for those who tell me what they would change or what they loved that I should keep.  My friend Sherrie got to do that this week for a pumpkin cheesecake with a pecan crust.  I made it in a little pie pan just for her.  I also forgot to take a photo of it before I took it to her so I will have to do it again to show you.  I am a bit spacey sometimes.  Ha!

We typically celebrate St. Patrick's Day with a meal and a movie.  Our standard movie has become A Quiet Man over the years.  We have tried other movies that just don't satisfy us like this one.  It does not hurt that John Wayne is in it.  My husband loves all his movies.  

I also love the blessings of the Irish people.  One of my favorites was shared in a printable format and I thought some of you might really love it.  I think this one is getting a frame for display in my home very soon.  This blogger, The Girl Creative, is sharing a 


 for us!  I love freebies!!!

On the bookish front I am failing to stay in a book every day like I had planned this year.  I would speculate that most of that is because I have been on a cleaning and clearing tangent and that the internet is distracting me too much lately in between the cleaning and cooking and general upkeep of our home.  The bad side of that is less reading but the good side of that is less junk and a cleaner more pleasant home to enjoy.  It will all settle down once the home is more like we want it and I won't need to spend as much time doing that.

Emily and I have both discovered some new authors recently.  I thought I would just share the names with you and later I will share some of their books.  

The first one is Georgette Heyer.  Emily got five new books for her birthday from this author and LOVES them.  Heyer writes Regency romance novels, in the same vein as Jane Austen as well as  historical fiction and mysteries.  They are simpler reads but with cleaver characters and witty humor.  I am hoping to "steal" one (or all five) away from Em to read sometime this summer.  I promise to return them!

An author I just discovered is Gladys Taber.... she writes about life on the farm.  She was a writer for Ladies' Home Journal (a regular column which began in 1937 called Diary of Domesticity) and she wrote a column called "Butternut Wisdom" which ran in the Family Circle from 1959 to 1967.  She has an extensive list of fiction and non-fiction (memoir style) books which spanned the length of her entire adult life.  I just got a copy of her Stillmeadow Sampler in the mail last week.  A beautiful first edition!

Susan Branch introduced me to her, by the way.... 

  I am slowly purging stuff as I go through each room and the breathing space is getting larger and larger.  We are, by no means, those hoarders like you see on that dreadfully painful show on A&E but we tend to hang onto things that are not really necessary sometimes.  Most people do.... I think it is a typical behavior that most people wrestle with at some point in their lives.  I had to come to the conclusion that I needed to let go of things I was not using or reading or that I would never use or read.  I now know that someone else might enjoy it much more than me.  Why would I want to deny them of that opportunity?  So, I let go.... and have not looked back on any of it.  I am still letting go as I no longer need something.  I still have my "treasures".... the things that I love most of all and enjoy having about me.  I am keeping old furniture that belonged to family members before us because I love it and I am gathering books that I love and know I want to read as I purge dozens of boxes of books I know I won't read.  I want my things about me.... things I love.  

That reminds me of a quote from the Quiet Man (one of my most favorite movies ever) spoken by Maureen O'Hara....

"I´ve dreamed of havin´ my own things about me. My spinet...over there, and the table here own chairs to rest upon. And... And the dresser over there in that corner. And... my own china and pewter shinin´ about me."

A girl dreams of having the things she loves about her and this is why I won't ever have a sterile white existence.  I want a home that reflects who we are without being wall to wall junk and clutter for the sake of keeping stuff.  

My motto is.... "If I don't love it then it has to leave!"

So, that is the rambling list for this week.... I pray you have a delightful weekend with those you love most of all.  Feel free to share a favorite author or movie or recipe with us in the comments!  I love to discover new things and would love to check them out.

Blessings to you and your's this St. Patrick's Day!

March 06, 2015

More of my Favorite Things on a Friday

We are about to start our Spring Break for 2015 in about an hour or so.  There is a Jazz Festival this weekend so the kids actually have an event they still have to attend and play for tomorrow but then the week is ours.  We have a plethora of things we need to work through over the break.... some deep cleaning of bedrooms, scout merit badge classes for the boys, some repair and garden chores that need to be done and so forth.

As we start the weekend I thought I would take a moment to share some of the things that crossed my path over the last two weeks (since I did not share last Friday)  The list is diverse this week...

1.   The season finale of DOWNTON ABBEY!!!  Oh my goodness, it was magnificent.  Now that the season is over I think it is time for my daughter and I to head back to season one and go through them again while we wait for season 6 but THE FINALE WAS THE BEST EVER!!!

2.   This guy.... Eric Reed, is a jazz pianist but our 14 year old shared this with us this week and I am floored at this talent.  I hope you check more of his stuff out because he has got some serious skills!

3.   I discovered a new blog site this week.  It is called Hooked on Houses and it has houses from around the country that are for sale.  It is a home improvement/decorating inspiration and a half!  The homes are lovely and diverse for all kinds of tastes.  

4.   Here is a lovely DIY gift idea for those coffee and tea drinkers in your life.... MARBLED MUGS!  I found it on Pinterest and was tipped off by my daughter who mentioned it so we could look it up.  Looks like a great Mother's Day project for all your crafters out there.  

Here is a photo from the site linked above of her work....

Marbled Mugs - crafts, mugs, coffee mugs, coffee, marbling, marbled, pink, silver, brown, white, Christmas gifts, gifts, nail polish marbling

5.   Last, but certainly not least, that speech this week from Benjamin Netanyahu was the best speech I have heard in years.... maybe since Reagan took the floor to speak!  Wow.... just WOW!!!

If you have not seen it please take some time to do so.  It is only about 40 minutes long but worth every minute.

6.   One more bonus read this week..... Want to Hear from God? Slow Down.... is a beautiful article written for Relevant's online magazine.  It is a great site loaded with lots of great stuff.  

Now, let spring break begin!  I am off to pick kids up from school and then dinner and a movie will follow.  Have a great weekend folks!

February 20, 2015

Friday Favorites... with a few extras

This week has been so crazy full!  We started the week with a day off from school but there were two music rehearsals and a birthday celebration to fill that day.  We are in the middle of preparation for solo and ensemble and each child has two solos and two ensembles.  That means rehearsals every single day before, during, and after school.  In addition to the weekend competition prep there have been private lessons and some early morning jazz band rehearsing for next week's start of jazz band competition.  Needless to say, I am ready for the crazy season to be over again.  

I have had a hard week physically, too.  Now, I am sharing this with the promise from you that you will not chastise me.  I am a big girl and I know what needs to be done but we have obstacles that sometimes crop up so we deal with it and move forward.  Ok.... remember.... you promised, so, say nothing!  LOL  I have been off my Lupus meds for a week.  There have been extenuating circumstances but Dan is picking the meds up today.  I never think the medication is doing anything until I have to be off of them for any period of time.  My arthritis is a mess, headaches are plentiful, skin and ulcers in the mouth are angry and the energy level is zero.  I will be taking a double dose before bed and then resuming my regular schedule tomorrow.  I did not want to be off.... it was a matter of money and availability and life just happens.  We are good to go now....  remember.... NOTHING.... SAY NOTHING!  ;)

In other news, I had to get a new phone..... an upgrade from.... 

now, don't faint.... 

an upgrade from Galaxy S2 (yes.... the number two!) to a Galaxy Avant.  

I had to get a new one because the old one finally decided it would have a mind of it's own and start shutting down without any prompting from me and it was completely unreliable because of that.  Otherwise, the phone was in pristine condition and the tech guy even said that he had never seen one that old be in such beautiful condition.  What can I say... I take care of my stuff.  

Anything that gets broken is because my children break it.  Case in point.... the one crack on my phone screen was a child's doing.... the computer screen that got broken at Christmas was a child, etc...  My favorite phrase these days with them is, "You are too close to my technology.... or beverage"...  whichever thing they could break or spill.  LOL  I say it in kind of a "beep beep beep I am backing the giant vehicle" voice.  They hate it but it stops them in their tracks and my stuff is safe.  If I had used that with my computer over Christmas I might still have that little thing instead of this giant "visually impaired large text" computer I am typing on now.  Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for the new computer but I really did love my old little notebook sized one.... really!!!  I am never fond of the new learning curve that takes place every time I have replace a tech device.  

Now, the reason we came here..... here are my favorite five things from the internet this week.  

1.  I have been researching some fermenting of foods lately and read this great article on this very thing this week.  It is 6 Cultured Foods to Make at Home.    Great simple ways to start doing this in your home right now.  

2.  Revive Our Hearts is working through a great series for Lent called The Incomparable Christ and the programs are listed on this page.  I enjoyed this broadcast this week on  A Heartbeat for Revival.... on prayer.  

3.  I am also getting ready to purge our pantry in the next week and over spring break soon so this article was of great interest to me.... 10 Ways to Squeeze a Little Extra Storage Out of a Small Pantry.  

4.  Are you trying to quit the sugar habit?  Here is a great read called 12 Tips for Quitting Sugar.

5.  This week we also saw another Chinese New Year.  Being in the Korean church we got to see some of the traditions that they do to celebrate.  All the Asian world stopped to celebrate this week.  They wear the traditional dresses of their culture and eat traditional foods but I found this article on reaching out during this time from the International Mission Board.  Chinese New Year 101 can help you understand and reach out to those in your community that are of this culture.  

5 1/2.  ;)  Along those same lines I got a copy of David Platt's new book this week.... he is the new director of the IMB that posted this article.  He is on Facebook.... I cannot wait to dig into this book.  He also wrote a book called Radical  (that our teens are studying in their youth group right now) and a book called Follow Me.  

The new book is called Counter Culture

And, here is one extra because I love Jon Acuff and his tongue in cheek way of really hitting a point.  Here are his 7 Ways to Give Up the Internet for Lent.  

February 19, 2015

I am a PBS junkie....

This is certainly not a meaty post full of good information and wisdom.  It is simply a post about what I love.  I think I have always been a PBS junkie to be honest.  I remember watching cooking shows by people like Julia Child, Rick Bayless, Lydia Bastianich and Martha Stewart while I was coming into my adult life.  I am sure there was Sesame Street and other kids shows (my children have their favorites, too) but I remember more of the cooking and literary classics aspect of the network.  As a teenager I began to enjoy the British comedies* that were broadcast on Sunday nights and the Mystery series.  

PBS Logo from circa 1971

Now, in my late 40's, there is more to love than ever before.  I will just share some of my favorites here with you.  If you are already watching them then I don't have to tell you how wonderful they are but if you are not I hope you will check them out.... just for fun.  

I have a new favorite chef on PBS.... well, Julia is really always my favorite but Vivian Howard is certainly no slouch.  She has a restaurant called the The Chef and the Farmer and she shares her southern cooking adventures each week from her restaurant, her home and her community.  She is a sustainable chef using sustainable ingredients from local farmers.  I love her connection with her family, friends, employees, and community.  It is a joy to watch her as she shares the food she grew up enjoying and her new twists on old recipes.  There is always something delicious on the menu!  Check her out on a Chef's Life

Another Foodie treat is the Great British Baking Show with judges Mary Berry (a long time celebrity cook and baker in the UK) and Paul Hollywood a celebrity chef.  They both have several cookbooks in their published repertoire.  Each week they have a group of bakers that are challenges in three areas and at the end of each week they have a star baker and a contestant that is eliminated.  The bakes are BEAUTIFUL AND AMAZING.  You can see the blind challenge recipes on the website each week to try at home if you like.  It is fun and there are lots of tips and tricks of the trade shared along the way.  The best part for me is seeing all of these unusual pastries, breads, pies, etc.... from around the world that are shared each week.  If you love baking and great info this is the show for you!  It is a polite potty language free alternative to British Celebrity Chef cooking shows produced and aired here in the states (you may know who I am talking about).  ;)    LOL  Check out their page... The Great British Baking Show and the cookbook

Now, on to Masterpiece Theatre...

I will quickly mention an extensive list here for you to find...

We definitely have enjoyed shows like Sherlock, Cranford, The Paradise, Mr. Selfridge, the Jane Austen novel series (Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, etc...) and the old Upstairs/Downstairs series.  There are also a lot of different Mystery series I have enjoyed over the years, too, and many can be found now on Netflix or Amazon.  Agatha Christie tends to be one of my favorites.

Right now, though, the top picks for me are Downton Abbey (if you are living under a rock you may not have seen these but I am assuming most people at least know what this is), Call the Midwife and the newest is Grantchester Mysteries.  Wolf Hall is coming in the spring, too... 

If you are interested in book and film connections you might want to check out their Book and Film Club page.

The beauty of this is that you can watch right on the website with current seasons.  

I hope you check out some or all of these and let me know what you think.  I hope you become a PBS junkie, too... or at least enjoy something I have shared here.  

*note... I did not even touch Britcoms here... that is a whole new post.  


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