other nuts as well. You could make all kinds of combinations!
other nuts as well. You could make all kinds of combinations!
"Frankincense was used as incense in the temple of the Israelites" so this gift is something that will help your children grow deeper in their faith and spiritual walk.
"Myrrh had various medicinal uses" so this gift is something for their physical well-being/body. "The category is wide here--especially for girls. The last few years we've given them clothes, but we've also given bubble bath, lip gloss, nail polish, etc."
Gold is precious, so this is your opportunity to give them something they've really wanted.
I don't know for sure whether we'll do it this year, but I do like the way it simplifies and organizes the gifting process; it narrows down the field without making it too narrow. But what I liked most is how it provides a constant reference point back to the story of Christ's birth, which is why we celebrate Christmas in the first place!
And I am feeling.......overwhelmed.
It's my fault, I admit it. I, all too easily, get sucked into the utter madness that takes over people this time of year. The madness of trying to do too much in too short of time, the madness of being the "perfect" hostess, the madness of finding the "perfect" gift for everyone on my list, and even the ridiculous family madness. I find that in a season that is supposed to be all about Joy and Peace, I struggle to find any.
As I was pondering this the other day (a.k.a - wallowing in self pity that I couldn't stop the holidays from coming) I remembered our, one and only, house rule. In everything we do, we are to have J.O.Y. You may have heard this before, but it stands for Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last. I began to think about all the things that stress me out during the holidays and realized, though they may be packaged to look like they are giving and self sacrificing they are mostly just my selfish pride. I want to be the perfect hostess so people will say "Oh look how nice her house looks, Oh my, this turkey is divine!" I want to find the perfect gift because I want to be seen as clever and resourceful. (Me, me, me, pride, pride, pride.)
So now as Thanksgiving and Christmas draw nearer and nearer I have armed myself with these verses.
Jesus 1st: Galatians 1:10 - For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.
Others 2nd: Galatians 6:10 - Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Yourself last: Matthew 6:33 - But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
If I am seeking His approval and His righteousness every day, everything else just seems terribly unimportant.
So bring it on, unnecessary holiday nonsense, this year I will truly be CELEBRATING the birth of my King and thanking Him everyday for His gift of Himself to me! Oh, and I may have a little turkey too, I've heard it's divine.
- Reusable Snack Bag Pattern (Make as many as you like, but please don't sell from this pattern.)
- Outside Fabric (patterned material of your choice)
- Inside Fabric (I used a polyester shower curtain, I have also used PUL on bags that needed to be waterproof.)
1. Cut 2 pieces from each of your fabrics.
8 lbs. 4 lbs.
Sift together 3 times:
5 lbs. 10 c. flour*
3/4 c. 6 T. baking powder
3 T. 1 1/2 T. salt
1 T. 1 1/2 t. cream of tartar
1/2 c. 1/4 c. sugar
Cut into the consistency of cornmeal:
2 lbs. 2 c. vegetable shortening**
4 c. 2 c. dry milk powder
Store in covered container at room temperature.***
Changes I've made:
* I typically make the 4lb. recipe and use 5 cups white flour, 4 cups whole wheat, and 1 cup flax seed.
** vegetable shortening is a hydrogenated oil/trans fat, so I try to stay away from it. Instead of having it in there, simply add in oil or applesauce to your mix when actually in use.
***When using whole wheat, keep your master mix in the refrigerator, as that is supposed to help the wheat maintain its wholesome goodness better. This may or may not be true, but I say might as well do it...
This is what my 4lb batch looks like.
Pancakes or Waffles
(serves 4- who only needs 4 waffles?! actually, this is nice because most of the time I'm just making them for my two Littles, so I don't feel like much gets wasted, and if I have a bigger crowd I just multiply. This is my favorite way to use it because waffles always make a morning feel "special" and a nice break from the usual! Jeni, I thought this might come in especially handy for you all and your Saturday Gatherings!)
Beat together in a bowl:
1 c milk
2 T to 1/4 cup oil if you didn't already add shortening to your mix
1 1/2c. Master mix.
- sometimes I thin this out a little more with water too.
Bake at 375 for 25 min.
Beat together in a bowl:
1/3 c. milk
1/4 c. sugar
2 1/4 c. Master Mix
Stir until well blended. Pour into greased 8" baking pan. Combine and sprinkle on top:
1/2 c. brown sugar
3 T. butter
1/4c. chopped nuts (optional)
Bake 25 min. serve warm.
I did make this one a while back, and it came out alright, although a little dry and needing just a little more sweetness.
Biscuits (next on my list to try)
makes 8, bake at 450 for 10 min.
Combine in bowl
1 1/2 c. Master Mix
1/3 c. milk
Add milk all at once, stirring 25 strokes. NOT 24, NOR 26! 25 shall be the number! (sorry, just struck me as funny and very specific- wonder how they came up with 25 as the magic number)
Knead lightly on floured board. Roll 1/2 in. thick, cut and place on ungreased baking sheet.
- use as topping on casseroles, cobblers, meat or vegetable pies or wherever biscuit dough is called for.
Bake at 425 for 20 min.
1 c. milk
2 T. sugar
3 C. Master Mix
stir until dry ingredients are just moistened. Spoon into greased muffin pans and bake.
add drained fruit or chopped, dried fruit, or chopped nuts.
-or bake as fruit bread using 5x8 greased loaf pan and bake 40 in. at 350.
Replace 1/3 mix with with quick-cooking oats or all bran cereal.
I started with a XXL men's t-shirt that I found for $1.50 at a local bargain store (Bargain Depot in Lawrence, KS...I love this place). You want to make sure that the t-shirt is plain with no logo/writing on either side.
1) Wash the t-shirt.
2) Turn the t-shirt inside out before you start cutting (this is a very important step).
Enter Fast, Fresh & Green, by Susie Middleton. I checked this out from the library on a whim after I read a review of it in the local paper, probably close to three months ago. The article reviewed around four different cookbooks, all written around veggies and local produce that was available during harvest seasons! This one struck my eye, so I requested it from the library ... waited another month before it was my turn ... and have devoured it since then!
I have been so impressed with all the recipes that we have tried so far. Middleton breaks up her cookbook into eight different cooking methods for veggies, but I usually see what's on sale, look up that vegetable in the index, and go from there! Here are some that we have tried:
- Roasted Broccoli Florets with Two Dipping Sauces
- Sweet Potato mini-fries with Limey Dipping Sauce and Spiced Salt
- Gingery Braised Brussel Sprouts
- Corn Saute with Chile and Lime
- Crushed Red Potatoes with Scallions, Pancetta, and Sour Cream
- Big Bowl Spinach and Snow Pea Salad with Cashews
- Stir Fried Carrots with Ginger, Lime, and Cilantro
We've loved them all ... and although they may sound a bit "froofy" or something, most of the ingredients I have had on hand and the recipes come together quickly. It has definitely upped our intake of veggies on a regular basis, and gotten us out of a "tried and true" mindset! Not that I don't love those tried and true whip it up quick meals/dishes, but something I really want to step outside of what I always fall back on.
Anyway, if you need something on your Christmas list (looking ahead), this might be a fun book to request. And yes, I still have the one from the library ... so if you request it now, you'll be stealing it from me! I confess that I am hoping to get it as a Christmas gift myself rather than buy it now!
I could use a little creative input!
So, I am now planning to use it for 2-3 baby gifts! I have several friends at the gym that will be having babies within the next five months, and I thought this might a fun fabric to use for some of them (most of them are also being "surprised" by the sex of the baby, so I have to keep things gender neutral). My best idea, currently, is to use it for three blankets. Not cutting up the letters, just a straight up, rectangular blanket with this as the front, a soft flannel on the back. Some ribbons ties, etc. BUT, I wanted to throw this out there and see if any of the amazingly creative women who read this blog have any other ideas!
Care to share them with me?
My two sides ...
One Taggy getting prepped ...
Ribbons getting pinned in place!
All our Taggies ready to be sewn together!
That's it! Enjoy your Taggy and BE CREATIVE!In a few weeks, we are having another "sewing lesson" and are going to be making some simple full size blankets for the Pregnancy Care Center! I'll post that as well!
I had been wanting to can some peaches this Summer. I love love love peaches! But it just didn't work out- I was neck deep in home decluttering and organizing ("Nesting" to the lay person =) at the time when they were cheapest. So I let that idea go. Then I heard that friends of ours had a pear tree that was open for the picking. I've never been a big pear fan, but I am a fan of free, and I know that both my kids loved pear puree as babies, so off I went.
Lesson no 1: Freebies can't be chooseies. These pears were pretty small and hard, and probably not the optimal fruit (the family that owned the tree didn't have much interest in them at all) but they were still pears!
Lesson no. 2: Picking pears isn't that difficult. It's actually kind of therapeutic. What needs to be remembered is that you have to peel all those pears you picked!
Lesson no. 3: When you bring an international friend along to pick thinking that they will enjoy it since they had fruit trees at home, also keep in mind that they are observing Ramadan and have been/will be fasting for 30 days. This means they will also take less pears home with them than expected. See lesson 2 for ramifications.
Lesson 4. Take breaks when peeling pears. Otherwise your hand will cramp like none other! But if you're in the zone, you might as well go for it...
Lesson 5. Save the peels! Apparently you can grind them up and use them in place of Zucchini in Zucchini bread. I have yet to make this bread, so I can't vouch for it yet, but I have two big bags of pear peel shavings awaiting me when I finally find the time. I'll keep you posted...
Lesson 6. Pear juice is good for detoxifying, dealing with constipation, and prostate health. I did not know any of this before. Still don't know it first hand, but it was something interesting I learned off the internet.
Lesson 7. While it would seem like a nice sharp pairing knife is the best choice, your finger tips and blood supply will thank you if you actually opt for a duller knife, much like the one pictured on the bottom.
* This is a painful lesson to learn.
*Also, all of that pear peeling will permanently stain a white knife handle.
Lesson 8. It will do the same thing to your fingertips.
* this picture was taken after washing my hands twice with soap.
Lesson 9. It's hard to take a focused picture of your own finger print.
Once the pears are peeled, there are all sorts of things to do with them!
Lesson 11. I am a huge fan of pear sauce. It is seriously the easiest, most versatile thing to make, and you can sweeten or season it any way you want or don't want! It was a great starting point and confidence booster to this novice.
Feeling good, I remembered how I started off this Spring making Dandelion honey, so I thought it would be fun to end the Summer making Pear honey.
Lesson 12. The recipe didn't specify, but the pears should've been pureed down. It's not like pear sauce where you can puree it later.
Lesson 13. This is what happens to your immersion blender if you stick it in a pot of boiling honey because the pears didn't break down like you thought they would.
Lesson 14. Your blender will still work, but it probably get's teased at night when tucked away with all the other appliances.
Because it is a two+ hour process, I thought "hey, I'll just do this while I'm doing other things"
Lesson 15. Making honey is not something you should just do while you're doing other things.
Everything was going fine right up until the end when there was a medical emergency (not directly involving myself or pear related for once!) and my attention was diverted and the honey boiled for too long, turning into more of a candy texture.
Lesson 16. All those evenings of watching Chopped and Iron Chef do pay off! Frustrated at overcooking the honey, especially since it had deformed my blender, I was determined not to let it go to waste (those pears might be free but all that peeling wasn't easy!)
So I decided to experiment with ways to salvage it:
Dipping plastic spoons in and getting them a good coat. These can be used later to sweeten a cup/pot of tea.
Dropping spoonfulls onto tin foil and making little candy discs.
And towards the end, when it was getting cool enough to handle, rolling it into little balls. The pictures of these little lumpy brown balls don't look appetizing in the least, so I didn't post one, but plunk on in your pot of tea and it works beautifully!
Lesson 17. When working with hot honey, use tin foil. But once it cools, transfer it to wax paper.
*I have tried all ways of doing this- trust me, wax paper does not hold up to hot honey, and tin foil sticks to it later.
Lesson 18. Making honey and working with it is hot (on the bright side, the burns act to cauterize all those finger tip cuts from peeling!), time sensitive, messy work!
Lesson 19. Homemade jam recipes call for WAY too much sugar! You don't have to put all of that sugar in, just boil it a little longer and they will jell.
Lesson 20. Waste not, want not. I was able to put several small jars of my thick pear-supposed-to-be-honey-goo in a water bath and get them liquified enough again to use them in my jelly instead of sugar.
Lesson 21. You can make pear butter in your crock pot, but it takes FOREVER! And it will make a huge sticky splatter mess on your countertops.
Lesson 22. You can get away with not having some exact canning tools, like I just used my big stock pot, but you really should have the proper tongs or can-grabbers/basket to get them out of the water. This will save you a lot of steam burn, frustration, and fear of dropping and cracking a jar.
Lesson 23. It was a lot of work, and a lot of trying out new things (which can make me kinda tense). But in the end, I at least now have a novice's idea of how to make pear sauce, pear puree, plum-kissed-pear-jam (sweetened), plum-pear jam (unsweetened), pineapple-pear jam, pineapple pear syrup, pear-apple and pear-peach crisp, pear bread, and pear honey (in all of it's various forms) and the freezer is full of all of this peary goodness. Also, I've learned that I like pear sauce even more than I like applesauce. Warm with just a little bit of sweetness and spice, it is divine!
lesson 24: you may need a break from being in your kitchen after all of this (This has been a series of projects over the last two weeks for me- I only have one stock pot). Also, your husband may get tired of seeing pears everywhere and hearing your "ouch!es" from the peeling, heat, steam, splatter, etc...
Main lesson: it is still totally worth trying something new! And if the main ingredient is free, albeit not in perfect form (I think these pears were harder than most) then all the better because you stress out less about ruining it. Chances are ruination will happen, especially if this is a first go, but even then you can keep thinking of different ways to use things!
|Elisa's beautiful "Taggie"|
|Better shot of the different ribbons.|
|Sarah K.'s amazing monogrammed burp rags, pacifier clip, and wooden teething ring.|
Sarah's adorable headband and corsage set (red and blue), white head band and retro hat. These really need a model to get the full effect. So here is a link to a similar set that she made for another friend.
This baby is set! Something to chew on, spit on, poo on, and, of course, in Sarah's accessories she will also look cute doing it! You guys and your creativity are amazing!
1/2 cup Mule Team Borax
2 Cups Oxygen Cleaner (I use a generic brand)
1/2 cup Simple Green (found in the automotive department)
1/2 cup Calgon Water Softening Powder (if you can’t find it as a powder, use 1/4 c. of the liquid and add one box of baking soda, or add a tiny bit to each load)