Tag Archive | Homemaking

Strawberry, Mint, Pepper Jam

I know this will sound really strange, but oh, so yummy!

We had an abundance of strawberries a month ago due to Aldi’s having quarts of strawberries for $.49 – $.79 each.  So we ate strawberries. We froze strawberries.  And we made lots of jam.  In looking for new strawberry ideas I found several recipes for Strawberry, Mint, Pepper Jam.  Interesting.  Since we had all the ingredients we gave it a try.

Most recipes are an unique why of making jams and jellies involving marinating the strawberries over night and cooking with a candy thermometer.  I didn’t want to do that so essentially I just made up my own version based off the way I make Strawberry Jam.

Strawberry, Mint, Pepper Jam

5 cups mashed or strawberry puree

7 cups sugar

1 box sure-jell

1 tbles butter (optional for foaming)

10 – 20 whole peppercorns fresh ground

10 – 20 mint leaves shredded finely

 

I throw whole strawberries into the food processor and give it a whirl for just a second.  Just enough to leave it chunky still.  Measure out 5 cups.  Follow the directions on the sure-jell box.  Add the mint leaves and pepper while heating up the strawberries.  Here is where you need to play around with the taste.  We added a lot of mint but still didn’t have enough noticeable mint taste.  (Mint’s flavor changes according to the rain and weather, so it is temperamental.)  We add a lot of pepper but next batch we will add even more.  Process jam as directed from instructions.

The pepper somehow makes the jam not quite as sweet and gives it a little surprising zest.  It was hard to notice the mint after the jam was processed and cooled.  But just Strawberry Pepper Jam is really good.  I think I’ll make my jam like that more often than just plain Strawberry Jam.  I like the extra kick.


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10 People Every Christian Should Know – Wiersbe

Three free eBooks – two are from Amazon and the last is from Vyrso, the book reading section of Logos.  The nice thing about Vyrso books is that when they are full of Scripture the verse works like a pop up just like on my website.  Makes reading much easier. Vyrso does require an account set up even for “free” books.  Like usual these books won’t be available for long.

10 People Every Christian Should Know E-book [Kindle Edition] by Warren W. Wiersbe (It is free again.)

We all need inspiration to lead lives that honor God. When our faith is weak or the pressures of the world seem overwhelming, remembering the great men and women of the past can inspire us to renewed strength and purpose. Our spiritual struggles are not new, and the stories of those who have gone before can help lead the way to our own victories.

10 People Every Christian Should Know gives you a glimpse into the lives fascinating and faithful believers whose struggles and triumphs will inspire and encourage you along life’s uncertain journey:

Matthew Henry
Jonathan Edwards
John Henry Newman
J. B. Lightfoot
J. Hudson Taylor
Charles H. Spurgeon
Dwight L. Moody
Amy Carmichael
Oswald Chambers
A. W. Tozer

A Quick Introduction to the New Testament: A Zondervan Digital Short [Kindle Edition]

Derived from D. A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo’s widely adopted textbook, An Introduction to the New Testament, this digital short surveys key critical and interpretive issues in New Testament study. Attention is given to original manuscripts, interpretative traditions, biblical theology, historical criticism, postmodernism, linguistic and social-science approaches to the text, and more. Students of the New Testament will find A Quick Introduction to the New Testament to be a handy yet complete reference tool.

Winning the Clutter War by Sandra Felton

Are you tired of fighting an avalanche every time you open a closet or cabinet door?

Do you avoid answering your phone because you can never find it?

Don’t despair! Even if you’ve been a messy person since childhood, organizing expert Sandra Felton’s practical advice will make your dreams of an orderly lifestyle become reality. Hundreds of thousands of readers have already benefited from her strategies. In Winning the Clutter War, Sandra helps you keep your house clean pay bills on time organize your activities enjoy your spare time without feeling guilty and more.

Sandra Felton, The Organizer Lady™, is the founder of Messies Anonymous, a group established to help women organize their households. She is the bestselling author of several books, including Living Organized and Smart Organizing. She lives in Florida.


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Organization

Usually every year during the last week of the year I spend time on organization and planning.  So far this year I’ve gotten very little done due to being very busy with several things.  However, typically I update the next year’s calendar and get an idea of what is coming up.  This is a time of the year that I typically adjust chores for the children (also coincides with several of them having birthdays and getting older).  Over the years I’ve used different organizational helps and ideas.  When the kids were little we had different style chore charts and/or posters.  Now they are mostly older and we don’t use that method so much.  I’ve had and used a household notebook and daytimers.  While I still have my household notebook I don’t always use it regularly.  Bulk is it’s issue.  Many of my organization things have transitioned to electronic formats; such as I no longer have an updated hard copy contacts list, the old style address book has gone by the wayside.

My oldest gave me his iPod touch several months ago and it has been used as my household “notebook” quite a bit lately.  It is nicer than having to haul around a large notebook with all my papers in it.  There are a number of apps that are quite helpful although I’ve found no one app that does it all in an integrated format.

Here are some of things I use to organize.

iPod apps

Basics – contacts, reminders, calendar, calculator

Bible – Pocket Bible, Logos, ESV Bible

Bible Reading Plans – YouVersion Bible (I like that you can listen to the daily Bible reading plan.)

Calendar – Cozi

Books – Kindle ( it is great to have a book available when stuck in traffic or held up unexpectedly)

Grocery – Pepperplate, Grocery Gadget, Our Groceries

Cooking – Pepperplate, Allrecipes, Big Oven

Menu planning – Pepperplate, Big Oven

Sermons – iTunes,

General Notes and Miscellaneous – One Note (actually have somewhat of an electronic version of my household notebook)

Computer Programs

General Notes and Miscellaneous – One Note (syncs with iPod)

Recipes / Cooking / Meal Planning – Mastercook (I have an old version which doesn’t sync), Pepperplate (online), Big Oven (online)

Calendar / Contacts / Feeds – Outlook (my son says few people actually use that anymore but I like it and it syncs)

So what do you use for organization?


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If Only …

If Only —-


If only dinner cooked itself,

And groceries grew upon the shelf;

If children did as they were told,

And never had a cough or cold;

And washed their hands, and wiped their boots,

And never tore their Sunday suits,

But always tidied up the floor,

Nor once forgot to shut the door.



Ahem! If wishes all came true,

I don’t know what I’d find to do,

Because if no one made a mess

There’d be no need of cleanliness.

And things might work so blissfully,

In time–who knows?–they’d not need me!

And this being so, I fancy whether

I’ll go on keeping things together.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Verse-Book of a Homely Woman

by Fay Inchfawn


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The Long View

The Long View

Some day of days! Some dawning
yet to be
I shall be clothed with immortality!

And, in that day, I shall not greatly care
That Jane spilt candle grease upon the
stair.

It will not grieve me then, as once it did,
That careless hands have chipped my
teapot lid.

I groan, being burdened. But, in that
glad day,
I shall forget vexations of the way.

That needs were often great, when means
were small,
Will not perplex me any more at all
A few short years at most (it may be less),
I shall have done with earthly storm and
stress.

So, for this day, I lay me at Thy feet.
O, keep me sweet, my Master! Keep
me sweet!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Verse-Book of a Homely Woman by Fay Inchfawn

(1880)

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Cheesecake for a Crowd

I get tired of making the same desserts each Sunday.  Recently my family suggested Cheesecake.  But most recipes make a small round cheesecake that doesn’t serve too many people.  However, I found this recipe and tried it with my own personal adaptations. (I don’t know that I’ve ever followed a recipe exactly or done the same thing twice.)

Cheesecake (11 x 7 Pan)

  • 1  cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt the butter in pan in preheating oven.

Sprinkle graham crackers and sugar over melted butter.

Press down and form crust.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Mix together in mixing bowl.

  • 4 packages of cream cheese, (8 ounces) softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 5 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp Almond flavoring (optional)

Beat on low slowly adding ingredients together.  Too many air bubbles will cause it to fall when baking.

Pour into crust and bake for 50 minutes or until set.  (Cheesecake works best in a moist oven so add a pan of water below the cheesecake.)

My husband didn’t want the sour cream topping but for those who do:

Topping

  • 1 16 ounce sour cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Blend together.  Spread over top of hot cheesecake and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Refrigerate.

This sliced well enough that the cheesecake could be served as bars.

I guess it was liked well enough because there was fighting over the last slices. :0

 


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Working Wives Assuaging Their Guilt

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. ESV

Some food for thought about working wives and their complaining about their husbands. Is a working wife really trying to validate her position and appease her guilt by claiming to be in charge of the house while still working by being critical of her husband’s household work?

‘Useless stay-at-home men’ a female myth

“Housework represents an interesting juxtaposition of control,” said Meisenbach. “On one level, women described retaining control over housework – they talked about their partners contributing to domestic chores but almost always in response to being asked or told to do the task by the wife.

“They all gendered their partners’ behaviour with comments like ‘He’s a man, they don’t see that there is a mess’. And ‘My husband’s a guy. He picks and chooses what chores he does’. But by gendering his behaviour, they were also gendering their own as women and mothers, instead of breadwinners.”

Despite the anxiety that female breadwinners described, Meisenbach also found that most actively relished the control and power that their position gave them at home. “I didn’t find female breadwinners deferred their power to their husbands at all,” she said. “Over 60% said they enjoyed the control they experienced, explicitly noting how they were happily different from the ‘1950s housewife’ or even from female friends within the traditional gender norms. Read the full article.

A typical childish method of dealing with others is bringing others down so that we look better.

Have you met families that the wife complains about how little the husband does around the house yet you seem to think the husband does quite a bit?

Could this really be a way for the wife to assuage the guilt about not being home to run her household?


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We Wouldn’t Be Able to Take a Vacation …

There are many families that both parents work for the stated reason that the wife’s income pays for the extras like vacation, sports, and entertainment. While no one will disagree that things like vacations and sports are expensive, there are ways around spending lots of money for them.

First of all, why have things like vacations, sports and entertainment become needs as opposed to wants? Years ago it was rare for families to vacation on a regular or even yearly basis, often if a family did vacation they would spend years planning and saving for it. Today trips have become so common for children that they have lost the specialness. But families can still travel and vacation without having so much expense.

Givers and receivers of hospitality

Traveling out of town can be much less expensive if families practiced hospitality more. Instead of paying for hotel rooms, families can stay with other family members or with friends. No cost for overnight stays, much less expensive meals and fellowship. The children love having friends to visit with. I have to admit though that staying with other families is not as restful for me as a hotel room. This is mostly due to the fact that it isn’t a habit for me and I worry about being a bother. However, one of the churches we visit, the members are much more hospitable than we are. They think nothing of staying with friends out of town even with large families and then returning the favor. Unlike us, they don’t worry about not having enough beds for everyone or a guest bedroom. It is something that I need to work harder on, not expecting everything to be perfect when being hospitable.

Camping

What kids don’t like camping,? (It’s just some of us moms that don’t like it!) Friends of ours used to go to the beach quite a bit even though they had very little money. Their only extra expense was the gas (back before gas was expensive) and the camping site fee. I don’t know how she did it, feeding a family of five or six camping and not spending anymore than at home. When we have gone camping, just the meals have seemed to run up the cost tremendously for us. But even so it is much cheaper than staying in a hotel room and eating out. I’m sure I could learn to feed the family camping for cheaper but convincing them to give up the boxes of Little Debbie’s, I’m not so sure.

Rentals

Our family has found that renting a house or condo is often much cheaper than hotels when we are out of town. We can get a rental house for much less than multiple hotel rooms. Since most rentals come with furnished kitchens, we can prepare meals in house and limit how much we eat out. The money saved on preparing our own meals plus the gas saved for not having to drive to eat out adds up.

Missions Trips

Often a mission trip will be much less expensive due to the nature of it and the group rates. Up until a few years ago, the churches I had always been a part of would have missions trips but typically they were for the youth group or for adults. Lately though I have found out that there are several organizations that provide family mission trips. Now there is an issue with the style of mission trips, that can be bettered answered by listening to Paul Washer about his concerns and experiences with American missions, but once you find a group that is doing more than just getting a bunch of decisions on a card then you have to be sure they are not teaching counter to your beliefs. Trips to work on orphanages, build churches, English classes, distributing Bibles, literacy, and a multitude of other opportunities can be ways to share the Gospel, God’s love, and enjoy time away from home with your family. The extra nice thing about mission trips is often there will be church members who are physically unable to travel for missions but will be willing to help support a short-term trip. (Just a little side issue about missions trips, if you think that missions is a hotel room, hot showers, matching T-shirts and lots of fun sightseeing you are probably doing more harm than good.)

I know there are many more ways to save money on trips and vacations than I’ve listed but it all gets down to what is the biggest priority in your life and for your children’s life.

Does that once a year trip to Disney World have more lasting impact on your children than the daily interaction with a mom home with them?



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What would I have to talk about but kids?

As I continue to look at Biblical responses to I Can’t Be a “Keeper At Home” Because …, another excuse that is given is that as a woman at home with children, life might get to the point that all you could talk about was children.

There are seasons when mothers with many small children may seem to be able to think of nothing but children and their care. Sometimes all you can do is survive until the next day to start it all over again. However that doesn’t last forever. There are lots of ways that women can keep from getting to the point that all they know and speak about is their children.

1. One of the most important is to study your Bible. Serious Bible study, not just the read a passage and a devotional type study to mark it off your check list. When in the trenches of caring for several small children sometimes it is hard to do that. Getting up before the children might be very early but if that doesn’t work nap times or before bed can be used. Also finding a good source of sermons to listen to during the day will help. Now with the computer, internet and iPods no one is stuck with just listening to the fluff offered on many “Christian” radio stations. Most of all pray that the Lord will give you a desire and thirst for His Word such that you can’t wait to get into His Word.

Psalms 42:1-2 As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? ESV

Once we have been feeding in God’s Word then we just have to share what we are learning with others. What can possibly be more important to talk about than the Lord and His Word?

2. Just because a mother is home with the children doesn’t mean that she has to be clueless to what is going on in the world. Years ago I would listen to NPR (National Public Radio) in the morning just to get a good idea of what was going on in the world. I had to use caution though because I did not want my children exposed to all that the world offered. Now I just scan news headlines on the computer, I found that Ecclesiastes is right, there is nothing new.

Ecclesiastes 1:9-10
9 What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us.
ESV

3. Reading good books is another way to have something to discuss with others. There is no point in a busy mom reading the popular trash that is offered to society such as Twilight, The Shack or the abundant “Christian” Romance novels. Find something of lasting value to read. If you were public schooled catch up on reading some of the classics that you weren’t introduced to.

Foxe’s Christian Martyrs by John Foxe

Pilgrim’s Progress
by John Bunyan

Those are just a couple of examples. Another thing that you can do is start to read through books that you think your children should read during their homeschooling. I found that when I reread books with an adult mom’s eye I found several Classic children’s books unacceptable due to the content, foul words, or even much of the theme. Just because a book is considered a classic doesn’t make it good. Just like being called a hymn doesn’t necessarily make it a good hymn. Pre-reading books like this will help when your children get to the age that they are reading much faster than moma can keep up.

4. Gardening, crafts and sewing can all provide you topics of conversation with others. There are an abundance of books in the public libraries that you can use to increase your knowledge, aid the family and give you something beyond children to think about. You and your children can learn together.

5. There is nothing wrong with talking about your children. 🙂 Even working mothers find they need to discuss their children with another mom. Sometimes a dad just doesn’t understand nor wants to hear the fine points of potty training or getting the two year old to stay in bed. We as women are called to encourage one another

1 Thessalonians 5:14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. ESV



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Wisely Managing Our Time

On yesterday’s post Being Early Is a Part of Worship, Valerie left a comment that sparked this post. See many times becoming a mom is the most common factor that causes us as women to be late. When we add the extra kinks that children throw our way it can become overwhelming trying to stay organized enough to be on time.

So this is just some haphazard hints that might help in the time struggles we all face.

1) The day belongs to the Lord.

No matter how we plan and organize our days there will be some days that the Lord has different plans for us. Maybe we have a fun activity planned and one or more of the children wakes up with a fever or is vomiting all morning. This kind of thing used to really bother me before but I have learned that if the Lord changes my plans then it is for a good reason and I shouldn’t stress about it. (Now if the child is up vomiting all night because they ate five doughnuts at supper that is a different matter, that needs a lesson in self-control and moderation. :0 )

2) We have all the time we need to do all that the Lord requires.

This phrase has been in printed on a sheet of paper in a frame in my kitchen window for probably 16 plus years. I find this encouraging when days get overbooked. The Lord has given me enough time for all He wants me to do. So either I have planned too much or I am wasting time in other areas.

Now the less thought provoking ideas.

3) Diaper bag

When we have a child that uses a diaper bag we keep it ready and at the door we exit the home from. It is ready to be picked up at a moment’s notice. We strive to keep it stocked well with diapers, wipes, cups, bottles, changes of clothes, etc. The best time to restock the diaper bag is after returning from a trip. Actual filled bottles or cups is then all that is necessary to get at the last moment. I often kept some bottled juice or powdered formula in the bag for serious emergencies. Some powdered formula and a bottle of water will serve in an emergency even if you have a nursing baby.

Now with a four year old we have lemonade powder packets stored in the diaper bag. Disposable cups, full change of clothes (everything but shoes), and wipes are normally stored in the bag at the door for taking with us. Since we never have accidents, we don’t worry about the diaper bag unless we are gone all day.

4) In the car items

We have seemed to always have to drive long distances to everything so the van stores some items to make life easier. When we have a baby we store a few diapers, wipes and a change of clothes in the under the car seat pockets. This is for those serious emergencies when baby has gone through two outfits in one trip. Believe me it does happen!

We also try to keep a roll of paper towels, Wal-mart sacks, and bottled water stored in the van for a variety of reasons.

5) Church

We spend alot of time at church and we value being on time. This is a few of the things we do that make things easier. Each child has a Bible and a Bible case. These are stored in a large bag under the table at the door. The older children have a pen, notepad and any study material in their Bible cases. They may use their Bibles during the day but then are to return them prior to church. Most of the children also have other Bibles so they may not even use the one they take to church.

The little children have a Bible case, Child’s Bible, crayons and a notepad. We discourage playing with toys during church but we encourage copious note taking. 🙂 The four year old fills pages with random letters all written rather neatly on the lined paper. He has also learned something from mom. I take notes but then later rewrite them or type them in the computer. Once I have done so I mark through the originals so I know they are done. So the baby writes pages of notes and then later goes back and marks them out.

Babies have a special bag that might include a blanket, paci, “Lovey”, and quiet toys (preferably church related). We have had cloth “Bible” books and a Noah’s Ark with small stuffed animals. This bag would be stored with the other Bible cases.

6) Clothes

I try to stay caught up on laundry but that doesn’t always happen. But if there is a special item that must be worn I have tried to encourage the children to make sure it is ready the night before. I don’t like having 30 minutes to wash and dry an outfit before we must leave. This is hard but it is good for the children to learn, one-day moma won’t be around to remind them to wash their uniform the night before.

All of mine are old enough to dress themselves so things are easier now than when there were little babies. But when we had little ones I would always try to get out their clothes the night before. Everything, right down to the shoes, socks and hair bows.

7) Plan Ahead

We have at times had vehicles that were tempermental about starting such that we would have to add in jumping off or hitting the starter with a hammer. Thankfully, that isn’t an issue now but those things did require us to be prepared by starting out earlier or having a hammer in the car.

Traffic is something that cannot always be planned for but if travel were during regular rush hour then we would always leave several extra minutes for heavy traffic.

If you have a baby they tend to always need one last diaper change and a complete change of clothes. We had one that needed a diaper change it seemed as soon as we put it in the car seat. Sometimes this even might require a car seat cushion change or using a different car seat. I always liked to have a spare, which could be bought cheaply used.

8 ) Delegation

Once you have older children they can be delegated responsibilities to help out. One could be in charge of taking the diaper bag to the car. One (age appropriately) could be in charge of fastening a younger sibling in a car seat. When we are gone for the day like for violin lessons everything gets gathered and set near the door. Violins, music bags, stands, school work, books and whatever else is moved to the door area so that they are more easily remembered.

9) Be Prepared

This is where I have the most trouble. Since we drive so far to get everywhere it is wise for us to keep the cars with sufficient gas. The last thing I need when there is an emergency or a morning when we are running late is to have to stop and buy gas. This requires thinking ahead when I’m near a gas station instead of waiting until I get home.
When we have had a vehicle that used oil, we tried to make sure that we had oil in the car and in the garage ready so that it could be replaced quickly.

10) Distraction

If you are always checking one last time for emails, finishing the row of embroidery or anything that will cause you to be late try to overcome that urge. Shut down the computer at a reasonable time, set aside your sewing or that book prior to getting ready to leave.

11) Items to take places

One of newest things we have started is having a lidded plastic container on the table at the door. This is where everything that has a home at someone else’s place goes. Items for Grandmother go here to take next trip to her house. The book we borrowed goes here. The grocery list goes here on errand day. It is easy to check the container to see if anything needs to go somewhere else. If we are doing several of the things we just carry the container to the car with us.

I had a few other thoughts last night but they floated away.

What have I forgotten?

Notice most of these apply to being a mom. What are ways that singles or couples can be prepared and less likely to be late?


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