Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tips for Having a Garage Sale

We had our garage sale on Friday and Saturday. I admit, I was disappointed that there wasn't a better turnout, and that we had so much stuff left when we were done, but it was a holiday weekend, and I think that was a bigger factor than I had imagined it would be.

After it was all done, I felt reflective. It was so much work. Was it worth it?

Well, yes and no. In two days, we made a little over $100. We went in with another family and they made a little over $150. In terms of how much money we made per hour, it was pretty pathetic. So what did we get out of the whole experience if it wasn't money?

First off, I think we had a couple of things really going for us. We had a great location, great weather, great advertising, and great goods. Going in with an older couple meant that we had diversity in our sale. We had several people compliment us on our sale, saying it was well-organized and had great variety.

Cleaning out so much stuff from our house was exhilarating for me. Surprisingly though, one of the best things about it was hanging out with the other family and chatting with our neighbors. We really did have fun! The boys loved playing outside all day, though admittedly, the store in our front yard was a little stressful for them. I think it was good and concluded that it was worth it. I can see where it may not be worth it for some.

But if you do decide to take the plunge, here are some tips on making it a success!

  • Advertise. Take out an ad in a local paper, especially if there is a classified type paper that is known for listing garage sales. List your sale on Craigslist. Make posters.
  • Choose a good location. If your house is way out in the sticks, you probably won't have very many people show up. Try joining up with a friend that lives in town if possible.
  • Wake up very, very early the morning of the sale to start setting up. Expect people to show up a couple of hours before your sale officially starts. If you don't want people to do this, write, "No early birds" on your advertisements.
  • As much as possible, get things laid out in an attractive way, preferably on tables. Spreading things on blankets on the ground is ok too. People aren't going to want to dig through boxes though.
  • Price your stuff. Even people who like to haggle like to have a ballpark idea of what you are asking. Shy people like me just won't buy things that aren't priced unless they are really desperate.
  • Price your stuff to sell! I get very annoyed going to a garage sale and seeing consignment store prices. It tells me that people really don't want to sell their stuff. Devoted garage salers will not pay high prices at a garage sale. People who go to garage sales like great bargains, so give them what they want! If you have expensive clothes or antiques, take them to a consignment store instead.
  • Price in simple increments. The lowest price I have is $.25, and everything is in quarter increments. It makes it so much easier to calculate in your head and make change.
  • If in doubt about how to price, shoot for about 1/10th of the original price if something is still in good condition.
  • Clothes do not sell well, especially adult clothes. It's so chancy that someone will come who wears just your size and likes the style you are getting rid of. In the past, I have priced different items with different prices and it just made more work for me. Now, I make ALL clothes $.50 each and offer to sell a grocery sack full for $3. Again, if you have nicer things, take them to a consignment store if you want the money.
  • I make all books $.25 too. You could ask more for hardcovers, but I'm willing to let that go to keep things simple.
  • Hang clothes on a rack. They are much easier to go through than when they are on piles and you will sell more that way.
  • Don't try to make money. Do try to get rid of stuff. If someone offers you a lower price, give it to them. We had a piece of furniture that we were asking $5 for and before the sale even technically started on the first morning, a woman asked if I would take less. I hesitated and said, "We haven't even really started selling yet, I don't think I can go down on the price right away." I ended up not selling that piece and setting it out by the curb for free when it was all over. I learned my lesson. Take whatever anyone offers, whenever they offer.
  • Before the sale, get about $50 in change - mostly $1's and quarters. A few fives are good too.
  • During the sale, keep all money on your body. Never set it down. If you get some large bills, put them in your house in a safe place. Cargo pants are handy for storing your change.
  • Have a little table where you keep supplies like labels, tape, a couple of sharpies, tags, bags of bags, etc...
  • Plan simple meals. This is one of the only times I break down and buy lunch meat. If I'd really been thinking ahead, I would have had some sandwich fillings ready, but I didn't. Expect that you won't feel like cooking at the end of the day. Make pita pizzas or something else super simple.
  • Have a free box, but try to keep it easy to rummage through. I like to throw in cheap little toys for the children. It makes their day!
  • I like to advertise that the last hour of the last day, everything is free. It didn't work out so well this time around, again, holiday weekend, but during my last sale, I only had one large box of stuff left to donate at the local thrift store. Everything else was gone! It was soooooo nice! And it really made people's day to get free stuff. I had several people trying to give me money because they felt badly about it, but I reassured them that they were helping me out, since I didn't have to haul everything away when it was all done. It's a win-win.
  • Plan and advertise a rain date, just in case! Trying to sell in the rain is rather miserable and you won't have as many people show up. Better to just postpone the sale for better weather.
  • Wear sunscreen!!! Drink lots of water!!!

That's all I can come up with off the top of my head. I'm sure some of you have some great tips to add, so please share!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

"Purer in Heart, O God"

Sunday Hymn Post

Purer In Heart, O God

Purer in heart, O God, help me to be;
May I devote my life wholly to Thee:
Watch Thou my wayward feet,
Guide me with counsel sweet;
Purer in heart, help me to be.

Purer in heart, O God, help me to be;
Teach me to do Thy will most lovingly;
Be Thou my Friend and Guide,
Let me with Thee abide;
Purer in heart, help me to be.

Purer in heart, O God, help me to be;
Until Thy holy face one day I see:
Keep me from secret sin,
Reign Thou my soul within;
Purer in heart, help me to be.

by Fannie Davison

Psalm 24:3-4
Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
And who shall stand in His holy place?

He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.

1 Timothy 1:5
The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

1 Peter 1:22-23
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.

Matthew 5:8
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Mashed Potato Casserole

Potluck Saturday

You'd better make two pans of this one if you take it to a potluck... it goes FAST! It is a huge hit with kids and teenagers, and is great if you need a dish to make up in advance. My mom, who gave me the recipe, likes to serve this one for holidays so she doesn't have to make mashed potatoes last minute.


Mashed Potato Casserole
  • 12 medium potatoes, cubed and boiled with a diced onion
Mash with:
  • 1 brick of cream cheese
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. each of garlic powder, dried parsley and paprika
Spread in a 9x13 pan and top with 2 c. cheddar cheese.

Bake at 400* for 35 minutes.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Speaking with Grace


Ephesians 4:22-32
Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 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. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Take a walk outside with me...

Lots of progress in the garden these past few weeks...

1) The peas are up between 6 and 8 inches high and are climbing the supports. We just used metal re-bar and sisal rope. Preacher Man wants to keep his eyes out for an old volleyball net to use for this purpose. When planting, I did two rows about 6" apart that can climb on the same supports. Nice way to maximize our garden space, and if they get too heavy, they can also lean on the fence.

May 21

2) The lettuce buckets are loving all of the rain we've had. I've thinned them out since I posted this picture, but they are still quite thick. I've got baby spinach leaves we can eat now! First produce of the year! Hooray!

May 21

3) In the herb garden, I had to give the parsley a heavy pruning. It had stalks like celery! It's seriously taking over! I'm getting some cilantro nearly ready to pick and eat. The annual seeds are taking their dear sweet time.

May 21

4) My favorite, favorite thing growing right now is my Mother's Day clematis. It's BEAUTIFUL! Bursting with gorgeous purple blooms. In a couple of years it will be gorgeous climbing all over the fence.

May 21

5) The front of the house got a facelift... trimmed shrubs, fresh mulch, and we removed a very sickly looking rhododendron that stuck out like a sore thumb. I'm rather proud of the front of our little house now. The littles have enjoyed watching birds come and go in the feeder.


6) And I think our front steps are rather inviting now that they are lined with flowers. Makes me smile. :) I hope it gives the mail carrier a smile too.


The vinca vine, begonia, and impatiens are a winning combination.

Begonia Vinca Impatiens

7) No picture yet, but this week or next, we are finally planting warm weather plants. Tomato and pepper seedlings are going out into the ground, and the green bean seeds, basil, and oregano are going in too.

Next week... compost! What would you like to know about it?

Linked up with Frugal Gardening 101: The Busy Mom's Guide.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Kid Stuff

sorting beans

Sorting beans with my helpers. One of my helpers was enjoying hiding his toy soldiers in the beans, while the other thought it was hilarious to pretend to eat the dried beans. The rule is: Keep the beans in the bowl. I let them play until there are too many beans on the floor, and then we pick them up and I go wash and soak them. They always get very excited to help.

So, have you ever used code words when talking about certain things in front of your kids? Do you spell things out? Preacher Man and I do this quite often. Big little picked up on it and has started asking, "Can we ZYWQ today?" and such things. Funny, funny. Anyway, some of our secret codes are:
  • Exploded maize = popcorn
  • take laps = go for a walk
  • two wheeling = go for a bike ride
I know our secret plotting can't last forever, but we are enjoying the time that we can get away with it.

What are some of your code phrases?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Three Summer Salads

Deja vu?

Yes, it is likely you have seen this post before! Blogger had some very annoying problems a week or two ago and I thought this post was lost and gone forever! Then I remembered that I subscribe to my own posts on Google Reader and wondered if it was still there. I copied/pasted and am so happy to be able to salvage this post.

Thanks for your patience!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The weather is finally warming up and it is oh-so-satisfying to dig into a nice cool salad for supper without having to turn on the oven! Adding meat to a salad can make it stand on its own as the main course, and in the summer, I love getting the Preacher Man to do some grilling for just such an occasion. In fact, every time we grill, I try to give him a couple of boneless skinless chicken breasts to throw on the side. I slice them up after they are cooked and freeze them in ziploc bags to make it easy to add them to a salad or pasta dish. These are especially wonderful to have in the winter when the snow makes grilling a bit more of a hassle. There's just nothing like that wonderful charcoal grilled taste!

Think of these recipes as inspiration. These are my three favorite "company salads" that I like to bring to a potluck or serve to guests because they are more distinctive than our every day green salads. I use a recipe because it helps my poor addled brain to remember what worked and what we liked in the past, but I don't make any of them the same way twice. Use the ingredients you have on hand, what is in season, and hopefully by June or July, whatever is fresh from your garden for the best tasting salad.

These salads are sometimes made up ahead of time, but do be mindful of your company. When we have guests in our home, I'm usually chopping veggies while we are visiting and I try to ask if there is anything they would prefer to have on the side. Some people have strong aversions to certain things, and I am happy to indulge them.

Which also reminds me... working alongside someone in the kitchen is a wonderful way to break the ice. Handing over a cutting board, knife and a few veggies to prepare may help someone feel more at home with you and it will free up your hands to finish up the dressing, wash up a few dishes, or something else that needs doing.

Enjoy your salad with some southern sweet tea, some bread, and dine al fresco if the weather cooperates. Sounds like the recipe for a delightful evening with friends.


Chinese Chicken Salad
  • 2-3 grilled boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced
  • 2 oz. slivered almonds
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. sesame seeds
  • 1 head lettuce
  • small can mandarin oranges, drained
  • 2 pkgs. crushed Ramen noodles (uncooked)
Dressing -
  • 1/2 c. sesame oil (or use part olive oil)
  • 1/2 c. rice wine vinegar (may substitute plain white vinegar)
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 Ramen flavor packet - I like oriental
Toss the salad, toss in the dressing, let it all marinate for up about an hour in the fridge before serving.

Corn Salad - the fresh corn really makes this salad!
  • 3 ears corn
  • 1 english cucumber
  • 1 small red onion, sliced in slivers
  • 1 c. grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 heads of lettuce, torn
Dressing -
  • 3 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
Cook the corn in a pot of boiling water until tender (8-12 min.) Run under cold water to cool completely. Slice off the kernels. Peel the cucumber and thinly slice. Combine all of the vegetables in a large bowl. Just before serving, drizzle with the dressing and toss.

Pasta Salad

Classic Pasta Salad
  • 1 lb. cooked and drained pasta (I like the tricolor rotini the best.)
  • 1/2 c. diced carrots
  • 2 stalks diced celery
  • 1 diced bell pepper
  • 1 diced english cucumber
  • 2 lg. diced tomatoes
  • 1 diced red onion
  • 1 small can sliced black olives
  • 16 oz. bottle Italian dressing (or make your own)
Toss it all in a large bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

This post is a part of the Four Moms Linkup on Summer Hospitality.

You may also enjoy reading How HGTV and The Food Network Have Killed Hospitality and More on Hospitality.

"Dear Lord and Father of Mankind"

Sunday Hymn Post

I especially love the first verse of this hymn, though all are thought provoking. Interesting notes on the hymn at Cyber Hymnal for anyone who is interested.

Dear Lord and Father of Mankind
by John Whittier

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways;
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard,
Beside the Syrian sea,
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word,
Rise up and follow Thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee,
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity,
Interpreted by love!

With that deep hush subduing all
Our words and works that drown
The tender whisper of Thy call,
As noiseless let Thy blessing fall
As fell Thy manna down.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tips for Gluten Free Cooking


I have a friend with celiac disease that regularly eats with us. With the gluten free diet being a sort of craze at the moment, more people are understanding of the diet of a person with celiac. What people may not understand is just how very sensitive to gluten a person with celiac can be, and how much care needs to be taken in preparing their food.

A person with celiac cannot even walk into a bakery because there is wheat flour all in the air.

A person with celiac has to be careful with cosmetics. Did you know most lipstick contains gluten?

There are many hidden sources of gluten and you have to be very skilled reading labels and even calling manufacturers to determine if a product has gluten.

A person with celiac can have a gluten reaction just by eating food that has touched something that touched gluten. Cross contamination is dangerous for them. My friend explains it this way - pretend that gluten is like raw chicken. Everything that gluten touches becomes contaminated for her and will potentially make her sick. Can she eat broccoli? Yes, there is no gluten in broccoli. But what if the person cooking cut raw chicken on a cutting board, and then cut up the broccoli on the same cutting board without washing it? Yuck! We all know that would be dangerous. That is the way it is with gluten. What if someone sets the raw broccoli on the counter where there are some tiny little breadcrumbs? This could make a person with celiac very, very sick.

So if you know someone with celiacs disease, try to be understanding and supportive of them. They have a difficult life. They have to bring their own food everywhere they go and it is difficult not to be paranoid. Don't take it personally if they don't just take your word for it when you say that something is gluten free.

Now, if you *do* want to cook for someone with celiac's disease, I'll share what I have learned about how to prepare their food safely. I am by no means an expert, but I have some experience with food allergies within my own family, and have learned as much as I can so we can still enjoy hospitality and fellowship over a meal with one of our dear friends who just happens to have celiac disease.

  • It can be overwhelming to plan what to have for a meal at first. If you stick with meat, rice, salad, and vegetables, you likely cannot go wrong. Our friend also loves beans and rice, so we often have refried beans, spanish rice, and corn tortillas for her.
  • Fresh fruit and ice cream makes an easy and tasty GF dessert. Just make sure the ice cream doesn't have gluten - vanilla, chocolate, strawberry *should* be fine, but watch out for flavors with cookies and such in the mix.
  • I keep a bag of gluten free pasta, gluten free oats, and gluten free all purpose flour mix in the freezer and have experimented with cooking and baking with these. Oats *are* generally gluten free, but are usually processed with wheat products and can be contaminated. I like Bob's Red Mill brand and our local grocery store carries these. Baking is tricky, because GF foods don't have stretchiness in them. A crumble topping is very do-able. A GF pie crust? Not for the novice!
  • Keep a very clean kitchen/dining area! Take care to keep all work and eating surfaces very clean. I go around and clean up toddler crumbs before our friend arrives.
  • Beware of cross-contamination! In making GF pancakes along with regular pancakes, I used separate utensils all along the way. I even flipped the pancakes with separate spatulas and used two separate pans. I recommend always cooking the GF food FIRST and setting it aside in its own dish or plate so it won't touch food with gluten. Why not make GF for everyone? Well, GF ingredients are quite expensive, so I try to save them for our friend.
  • Rice and Corn Chex cereal are gluten free. You can crush it to substitute for bread crumbs.
  • Look at the setup in your kitchen. I realized that my knife rack was next to my two flour canisters and flour could contaminate the knives. I rearranged the countertop so gluten free canisters like corn meal and rice were next to the knives.
  • LaChoy and Braggs Liquid Aminos are good GF options for soy sauce.
  • Beware of broth. Look carefully at labels of storebought bouillon and broth - I use the Better than Bouillon brand, but again, read carefully, as some of the flavors are thickened with products with gluten. You can make you own, but do be sure the chicken pieces did not come into contact with gluten or wheat flour.
  • A note on gluten free communion bread... I have heard many Christians question why a person would need their own bit of gluten free communion bread. After all, it is such a tiny bite once a week, can't a person with celiac handle that? No. They cannot. Try to understand that if they have communion bread with gluten, they will be doubled over in pain with awful digestive issues for several days after. Think of it this way, would you eat just a tiny piece of raw chicken once a week? What if people gave you a hard time because you didn't want to do that while they got to eat safe, cooked chicken. This is not just a sensitivity, it is a serious matter for a person with celiac. Please don't mock someone as a hypochondriac for having a hangup over the communion bread, and especially do not judge their values or their commitment to Christ when they need to have their own GF communion bread. We need to be understanding and supportive.
I only have a few tried and true recipes up for now, but here are some that have been very successful for us:
I don't claim to know everything, but this is what I have learned so far. Hoping this is helpful for some of my readers, and if you have any tips to share, by all means, leave a comment.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Black Bean & Rice Enchiladas

Frugal and very tasty! These are really good leftover too. Serve with sour cream & guacamole for a delicious dinner!

Black Bean & Rice Enchiladas
- 2 c. cooked rice
- 15 oz can black beans
- med. onion, chopped
- lg. green pepper, chopped
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 1 can black olives, chopped
- 1/2 c. salsa
- 12, 6" tortillas
- 2 c. shredded cheese
- 2 cans enchilada sauce (or use homemade)

Cook rice, add black beans & liquid to the rice. Heat some olive oil in a skillet & add the onion, green pepper, garlic, cumin, chili powder, salt & pepper. Stir fry until vegetables are soft. Add to beans & rice along with tomato, olives & salsa. Roll each tortilla in the enchilada sauce. Place 1/2 c. of rice mixture in each tortilla, roll, and place in a 13x9 baking pan. Do this with each tortilla, fitting them snugly in the pan. Pour any remaining sauce and cheese on top. (Remaining filling can be poked into the ends.) Bake at 350* for 25-30 min. until bubbling.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce
- 3 Tbs. oil
- 3 Tbs. flour
- 6 Tbs. chili powder
- 2 c water (or meat broth)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Dissolve chili powder in the water and set aside. In medium skillet, heat the oil. Add flour and whisk until dissolved. Add chili powder/water mixture and mix well. Add the salt and garlic powder and mix well. Bring to a bubbly boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

This post is a part of the "Life in a Shoe" Bean/Lentil linkup.

Carrying His Burden


Acts 26:14 - And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'

I was thinking about this verse today and how we sometimes make life so much harder for ourselves by kicking against the goads. Why do we do that to ourselves?

A goad is a long stick used to prod animals - usually cattle. Imagine for a moment, that you are a cow. Your master wants you to go down a particular path. Perhaps it is unfamiliar and rocky. Perhaps you are thinking to yourself, "No, no, this isn't the way I usually go." Perhaps you can't see around a bend and are fearful of what lies ahead.

What will you do?

Will you trust your master? Will you listen to his wise words? Will you go peacefully where he gently leads?

Or will you fight him and kick against his prodding?

When you fight God's gentle prodding, you only hurt yourself. God is our master. He wants to lead us in the paths of righteousness. Why do we fight Him? Why must we insist upon being self-willed?

Ecclesiastes 12:

11The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. 12My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

13The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

God, in His own way is asking you, "Is it hard?" Then He invites you,

"Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."

Matthew 11:28-30

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Other White Meat

Standing over the meat case, staring down at a pile of these babies...


Boneless pork loin was marked down to $1.69/lb and I was looking for a moderately sized one, while the woman next to me was doing the same. She had her coupons in hand and was muttering, wondering what on earth would she do with such a massive piece of meat?

Church Mouse comes to the rescue!!!

I showed her how to play butcher at home and divide up the meat into smaller, more useful pieces for everyday eating. She went away happy with her bargain and I did too.

Here's how you do it:

Divide the meat into thirds.


Now you have two roasts and you can use the middle for pork chops. Slice the middle section into 1" thick chops like so.


I ended up with NINE, beautiful, thick pork chops! These are MUCH nicer than what I buy pre-packaged in the store.

Then I took one of the roasts and cut it up into chunks to BBQ in the crock pot.

I packaged up the meat in freezer bags, labeled them, and this is what I got:


Now, let's do the math and see just how much of a bargain we got!

For a nine pound roast at $1.69/lb., I paid $15.21, which I'm rounding down to $15 to make things easier. Dividing the roast into three parts, makes each third $5.

$5 = a large pork roast that I plan to stuff and serve with sauerkraut. This will make either 3 meals for us or 1 large company meal.

$5 = 9 pork chops, which will be three meals for us, which will cost $1.69/meal.

$5 = shredded BBQ pork. I didn't measure, but it was about 5 cups when I was done. The BBQ pork can go on baked potatoes and sandwiches. We have eaten it for 2 meals and have at least half of it left.

Here's my recipe for BBQ pork in the Crockpot
  • 3 lbs. pork, cubed
  • 2 c. chopped onions
  • 3 green peppers, chopped (I used a 12 oz. pkg. of frozen ones.)
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. salt
Combine all ingredients in the crock pot. Cook on low for 12 hours or so. Shred the meat with a fork and mix into the sauce. If the sauce needs to thicken some more, cook on high with the lid off until it cooks down.
(Adapted from "Fix It and Forget It")


Sunday, May 15, 2011

"I Need Thee Every Hour"

Sunday Hymn Post

I was so touched by The Modest Mom's story of how this song gave her mother strength during her last days. She has an encouraging message for mothers at the end of her post. Reading what she shared is what inspired me to meditate more on this song and to use it for my Sunday Hymn Post.

Cyber Hymnal had a very interesting bit of information about the woman who wrote the words to this song, and I was glad to have some insight into the song. I think this song will mean so much more to me realizing that it was written by a wife and mother very much like myself, living out life very much the way I am, just in a different century. Just like her, I depend upon the Lord every hour, and at every moment. What a blessing to have the Lord as our solid rock! The very thought brings peace in the midst of a sometimes chaotic life.

Blessings to you today, my readers. Blessings and peace that only God can give.

The words of the author, Annie Hawks, from Cyber Hymnal:

One day as a young wife and mo­ther of 37 years of age, I was bu­sy with my reg­u­lar house­hold tasks. Sud­den­ly, I be­came so filled with the sense of near­ness to the Mast­er that, won­der­ing how one could live with­out Him, ei­ther in joy or pain, these words, “I Need Thee Ev­e­ry Hour,” were ush­ered in­to my mind, the thought at once tak­ing full pos­sess­ion of me.

After writ­ing the lyr­ics, Hawks gave them to her pas­tor, Ro­bert Low­ry, who add­ed the tune and re­frain. The hymn was first pub­lished at the Na­tion­al Bap­tist Sun­day School Con­ven­tion in Cin­cin­na­ti, Ohio, in No­vem­ber 1872. Some years lat­er, af­ter the death of her hus­band, Hawks wrote:

I did not un­der­stand at first why this hymn had touched the great throb­bing heart of hu­man­i­ty. It was not un­til long af­ter, when the sha­dow fell over my way, the sha­dow of a great loss, that I un­der­stood some­thing of the com­fort­ing pow­er in the words which I had been per­mit­ted to give out to others in my hour of sweet se­ren­i­ty and peace.

"I Need Thee Every Hour" by Annie Hawks

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.

I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh.

I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is in vain.

I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will;
And Thy rich promises in me fulfill.

I need Thee every hour, most Holy One;
O make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed Son.

Refrain -

I need Thee, O I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

Friday, May 13, 2011

No-Sew Hem Fixes

It's Sunday morning and you're getting dressed for church. Suddenly, you realize that half of your hem has fallen out on your skirt! What do you do?!?

Option A -
Scotch tape. Hey, it works! It takes about 30 seconds! It will get you through the day.


Option B -
If you have just a little more time, say 3-5 minutes depending on how much you have to dig in your sewing kit, you can use iron on hem tape. It's cheap, fast, and simple. I saw some negative reviews on Amazon, but I have not had any of those problems. When all else fails, read the directions, right? This is handy stuff to have around.


Option C -
The safety pin. Might show a bit through the fabric, but it works. I keep three safety pins of different sizes pinned to the fabric inside my purse/diaper bag. I don't even realize that they are there... until I need one! This is one of the smartest things I've ever done. It will save you from embarrassment if you should ever have a wardrobe malfunction away from home. It will also benefit your friends when they find themselves in a similar emergency and have not thought be prepared.

Go forth with a smile and no one will ever know!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

This May Be My Favorite Part of Being a Mama...

...today anyway!

Can't stop giggling about this.



Our little dino friend keeps showing up in unexpected places. Wonder where we will find him tomorrow? ;)

Wisdom from James 5

Wednesdays with the Word


What it means to be patiently waiting:
James 5:7-11
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

Have you established your heart today?
Have you chosen to be willing to be molded into what the Lord has purposed?
Do not grumble... remember God's compassion and mercy.

*ouch* My toes are hurting!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"Cut Your Coat to Suit Your Cloth"

The title of this post is an old proverb that means that we need to be adaptable to our circumstances. Basically, take a look at the resources at hand, and do the best you can with them. Your cloth and my cloth may look different. You may have more or less cloth to work with. That is ok. Cut accordingly.

As our family is seeking to live an abundant and frugal life, one way we do this is to minimize the amount of disposable products we use. Disposable products are certainly convenient, but it is just literally throwing away your resources. Instead of paper, we turn to CLOTH whenever possible. Cloth will wear out eventually, but it takes many years and countless uses as opposed to single use disposable items.

  • cloth napkins
  • cloth diapers
  • cloth baby wipes
  • washcloths
  • cloth shower curtain liner
  • kitchen cloths, old towels, and cleaning rags (instead of paper towels)
  • handkerchiefs (I'm still working on converting myself... I'm so accustomed to kleenex.)
  • even cloth feminine products

Skip this paragraph if that last bullet point makes you start to hyperventilate:
I seriously used to wonder what women did before modern products were invented. It was a mystery to me for a long time. Well, they used cloth! And sorry if this is TMI, but you know how after you have a baby, you need to use those products for WEEKS after... well, paper and plastic on those very sensitive places feels awful. Cloth is so much nicer! Trust me! Realizing this made me so much happier for choosing cloth for my babies. Imagine wearing paper and plastic on those sensitive places 24/7 for YEARS! Makes me shudder to think of it.

Now, I don't want to guilt you into this, it's a personal choice for our family and it is one that makes us happy. I also use my sewing skills to reduce the cost for all of this cloth. I write this post in hopes of inspiring. Take from it what you will. And my advice to people on things like cloth diapers... don't knock it 'til you've tried it!

I saw a discussion on Diaper Swappers a couple of years ago asking the question, how cheaply could you cloth diaper a baby? The answer from some of these women? FREE! No, your eyes do not deceive you, FREE! How on earth would you do this? Well, you use recycled materials. You can sew prefold diapers out of old t-shirts and old flannel sheets and receiving blankets. You can sew fleece or wool diaper covers from old felted sweaters. I just finished sewing a set of baby wipes out of old flannel pajama pants and a receiving blanket. You don't need a wipe solution, just use plain water, dampening a wipe when you need it. I wish I had seen this thread when I was expecting our first littles! If you decide to get some easy-to-use modern cloth diapers for your baby, you will still only pay 1/3 of what you would for disposables, even after factoring in water/electricity cost. Line dry and you will save even more! If you go the middle route, buying prefolded diapers and covers, you can buy everything you need for less than $100. I find that you can use most diapers for at least two children, so you can double your savings there.

Are cloth diapers starting to sound a little more appealing to you?

Cloth Diapers and Homemade Wipes - See? They're cute too!

Homemade Recycled Wool Pants for a Newborn - these are waterproof!

One of the big questions... Does this create more laundry? Some perhaps, but I don't notice much... Diapers are an extra load of wash every three days and when needed feminine cloth washes with those. Cleaning rags are washed every couple of months. I do a load of bleached whites about once a week with kitchen towels and rags, baby bibs, face wipes, handkerchiefs, etc... but throw in other whites after the bleach soaking to fill the load. I guess I've just switched over so gradually that I hardly notice it.

You don't have to go whole hog. Pick something and give it a try. We've made very gradual changes over the course of 8 or so years. Just something to consider. :)

Remember, don't knock it 'til you've tried it!

Monday, May 9, 2011

What is My Purpose?

I've been blogging here for a little over six months. I feel like I'm working out my purpose and what I want to "say". I really have a lot of fun doing it!

What is my subject matter? My life. My life as a christian, wife, mother, homemaker and preacher's wife and all of the things that I do. Within this realm, I pursue many interests, and it is my hope that some of these things will uplift and inspire you, and perhaps you will learn something useful from time to time.

Most of what I write is for myself... especially my posts of a spiritual nature. The rest are just things I happen to be having fun doing myself, so I share, hoping that someone will find what I'm doing interesting, inspiring, or useful.

Do I expect all of my readers to live the way I do and do what I do? Absolutely not!

I think many women suffer from twinges guilt at various times. You may see my "life" on my blog and feel like I am just sooooo put together. HA! I'm deeply flawed, and depend upon God for my daily sustenance as much as the next lady. Ditch the guilt. If you are living according to God's word, you are doing the most important things. Choose the good part. Fully embrace the life you have been given, and the people in it. People are more important than things.

This post was inspired by today's post on Passionate Homemaking - Why Mother's Need to Pick Their Priorities. Confession: I don't floss either. *Dodging the blows from my mother!* I also wanted to say this because tomorrow's post is all about converting to cloth and is one of the ways that I am a little (or a lot) more "out there". So filter, my readers. Glean and filter. And be confident in your choices.

May your day be blessed!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Jesus, I Love Thee

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love Thee because Thou has first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

Things I Did Not Know Before Becoming A Mother

- How much I could love.
- How precious a gift it is to hold a brand new life in my hands.
- How sobering a task it is to hold that brand new life in my hands. Prayers for wisdom are redoubled!
- How much I would hurt when they hurt.
- How Mary, the mother of Jesus, must have felt at various times in the life of Jesus - keeping those moments treasured in her heart.
- How selfish I was.
- How selfish I was.
- How selfish I was. :(
- How I would gladly give anything and everything for my child.
- How it was a good thing I would give everything, because these little ones would would take every ounce of energy and patience I had! :)
- How being a mother is a 24/7 job.
- How tired I would feel pretty much all of the time!
- How little I would learn to care for my own appearance and well-being in exchange for my care for theirs.
- How much I would fall in love with my husband all over again just watching him be a Daddy!
- That mothers do not get holidays or vacations. Most holidays and vacations require 10x the work from mom just so everyone else can have a great time.
- How joyous the job can be, and that those simple daily joys are the best of all!
- How much "growing up" I still need to do.
- How much I needed to appreciate my own mother and mother-in-law for their own tireless work and sacrifice, and for being the beautiful, Godly examples that they are!


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Potluck Saturday: Lasagna & Rhubarb Crunch

In honor of my mother, this is a very close rendition of her lasagna recipe. It is a simple, classic, lasagna with ricotta and ground beef. It is DELICIOUS!

Nearly every time we had company, mom made lasagna and salad. Relying on my memory from my childhood, which we know is not at all reliable, we never had lasagna at any other time. So lasagna was THE special meal and it was a real treat! I do not have her original recipe because I believe it was one of those, "little bit of this, little bit of that" type of things... sounds kinda like me, huh? :) But I came across this one on a pasta box several years ago and made it and it is exactly what I remember, and I was filled with joy and nostalgia.

Do you have a special meal you associate with your mother? What about hospitality? Did your mother always make the same thing? I can see the wisdom in this. After all, it is a faithful, reliable meal that most everyone enjoys. She served it with confidence! It is not what I do, but I admire her for the way she did it.

And without further adieu...

My Mom's Classic Lasagna
  • 1 box no boil lasagna noodles
  • 2 eggs
  • 15 oz. container of ricotta
  • 4 c. (1 lb.) mozzarella, divided
  • 1/2 c. grated parmesan
  • 2 lbs. ground beef, cooked and crumbled*
  • 2, 26 oz. jars spaghetti sauce (or your homemade sauce)
*I have substituted half Italian sausage, which is also very tasty!

Preheat the oven to 375* and grease a large, deep baking pan. (This will overflow a standard 13x9, so if you don't have a larger or deeper pan, use two smaller ones.) In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Stir in the ricotta, 2 c. mozzarella and the parmesan.

To assemble, layer in this way:
  1. 1 c. sauce
  2. 4 noodles (side by side, not overlapping)
  3. 1/3 c. cheese mixture
  4. half of the meat
  5. 1 c. mozzarella
  6. 1 c. sauce
  7. 4 noodles
  8. 1/3 c. cheese mixture
  9. 1 1/2 c. sauce
  10. 4 noodles
  11. remaining cheese mixture
  12. the rest of the meat
  13. 1 c. sauce
  14. 4 noodles
  15. remaining sauce
  16. remaining mozzarella
Don't be intimidated by the long list... it's really quite simple.

Cover with foil and bake for 50-60 minutes. Uncover and broil until the cheese browns lightly. Let it stand for 15 minutes before cutting.

Serves 12

***Zucchini  Alternative***
(for low carb or gluten free eaters!)
Instead of a box of lasagne noodles, prepare some zucchini or yellow squash sliced thin for those layers.  You will need about 9 small zucchini or yellow squash for this recipe.  Use a mandolin to slice them about 1/8" thick.  Lay them out on a cookie sheet, salt them well and let them sit for about 10 minutes.  Use a clean towel to blot as much of the liquid off as you can.  Grill the strips until lightly brown.  (I use the grill side of my griddle pan and it works well.)

And in honor of my sweet Granny, a tasty seasonal dessert -

Rhubarb Crunch

Isn't this beautiful?

Rhubarb Crunch
  • 1 c. flour
  • 3/4 c. quick rolled oats
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. melted butter
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 4 c. diced fresh rhubarb
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 tbs. cornstarch
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • sweetened whipped cream (garnish)
Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, butter & cinnamon in a bowl. Mix until crumbly. Press half of the crumbs into a 9" pan.

Cover with rhubarb. Combine the sugar, cornstarch, water and vanilla in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring until thick and clear. Pour over the rhubarb and top with the remaining crumbs. Bake in a 350* oven for 1 hour. Cut into squares and garnish with whipped cream.

(Granny always used Dream Whip. Which is nasty processed stuff, but it makes me smile fondly in her memory.)

Serves 8

Rhubarb Crunch

Note - I ran out of rhubarb the last time I made this, so I used 3 c. rhubarb and 1 c. strawberries. It was slightly more runny, but absolutely delicious!

Substitute Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Flour Mix for the flour and use Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Oats.

Linking up with the Four Moms sharing fruit recipes.  

Friday, May 6, 2011

Jesus, Tender Shepherd, Hear Me

A sweet poem...

Jesus, Tender Shepherd, Hear Me

Jesus, tender Shepherd, hear me;
Bless Thy little lamb tonight;
Through the darkness be Thou near me,
Watch my sleep till morning light.

All this day Thy hand has led me,
And I thank Thee for Thy care;
Thou has warmed and clothed and fed me;
Listen to my evening prayer.

by Mary L. Duncan

Off to kiss the Littles and climb in bed myself... Goodnight!

Friday Fun: Homemade Playdough

I confess, I still haven't made playdough with the Littles. I plan to change that soon. I felt guilty about this for a while, until I realized that my Littles haven't been entirely deprived. Every time I make bread or pizza dough, they get a little piece, a toy rolling pin, and a fork and go to town with it!

If you want a recipe to make something special, here is my favorite recipe, that I've made dozens of times:

Kool Aid Playdough
  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. salt
  • 1 Tbs. alum
  • 2 pkg. Kool-Aid (the color of the mix determines the dough color)
  • 3 Tbs. oil
  • 2 c. very warm water
Let the children help you add the ingredients and take turns mixing. Sprinkle some flour on the table in front of each child. Break off large hunks of dough for each child and show them how to knead in the flour. Break out the cookie cutters and rolling pins and have fun! When you are done for the day, store it in an airtight container and it will keep for weeks!

The best part of this particular recipe is the smell, which is AMAZING! While the ingredients are all edible, discourage the children from eating the dough. It really doesn't taste good and has an awful lot of salt in it!

If you want to make some playdough to eat, just mix equal parts peanut butter, dry powdered milk, and honey until you get a nice smooth dough. You can have little bowls of shredded coconut, raisins, nuts, and candies for decorating.

Have fun and try not to stress about the mess!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thankful for My Mother(s)


Today, I am thankful for my mothers. First, my own mother, who was the first person I learned to love. I have so many lovely memories of spending time with her, first as a child, learning how to bake, how to sew, and how to read. Best of all, she taught me to love God. As an adult, my favorite times with her have been just working together - canning 200 pounds of tomatoes, helping with their house construction, working in the garden, weaving baskets... She is such a strong, Godly woman, and I am so blessed to be her daughter.

Second, my mother-in-law, who is another strong, Godly woman. None of the mother-in-law stereotypes apply with her. She treats me wonderfully, and though she came into my life so much later, is someone I learned to love so easily. She's such a fun, witty lady, and is always kind to listen and advise. I am so grateful for the way she lovingly raised and taught Preacher Man, being the greatest influence on forming him into the amazing Godly man that he is.

I am blessed to have such wonderful grandmothers for our Littles, and so blessed to have two ladies I call "Mom" who are also such good friends!

Thank you both for the wonderful blessing that you are in my life!

A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.
-- Washington Irving

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Maximizing Garden Space Without Losing Your Yard


We have a small yard in the middle of town. We dedicated one plot to the vegetable garden and one section to the clothesline, but if we till up much more soil, there won't be any room for the Littles to play! We have to be creative in how we use our space. One of the ways we do that is by using containers. This year I am trying to grow greens in containers. Lettuce, spinach, kale, etc... have very shallow roots and do not need very deep soil. I like using the containers because I can move them around depending upon the weather. All of these are cool weather crops, and since the weather is still not very warm here, I keep them in a nice sunny spot on the western side of the house so they can get well-established. As we get into the hot, hot days of summer, I will move them to a shadier, cooler spot in hopes that they will extend their season a bit. I only planted half of the seeds I bought, so as they wither, which will probably happen in July, I will plant new seeds for a batch of fall lettuce. We are also considering building a cold frame against the western side of the house so we can get greens and lettuces into the winter. I'll have to let everyone know how that goes this fall.

If you need a source for cheap containers, try going to a nursery and asking if you can buy some old tree buckets. Actually, first ask if they will give you some, can't hurt, right? I think we paid $1 each for these.

Just up: our baby peas!

Another way we maximize our food growing space is by going vertical and using the fence line. This isn't prime play space, so it works well for growing some extra food. We dug up about 2 feet of soil along the fence where I like to plant crops that need extra support. Last year this is where we grew some tomatoes, this year, we planted peas, and I think next year we'll plant the pole beans there. Speaking of which, if you are a beginning gardener, you may not realize that it is important to rotate your crops. A three year rotation is really best, but if your space is limited, at least do a two year rotation. Rotating crops helps control insects and disease. Keep in mind that this applies to families of plants. Tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes and peppers are all in the same family and should not follow one another. Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and other greens are all in a different family. It adds an extra challenging element to planning your garden, but if you think of it like a jigsaw puzzle, it can be fun!

Going vertical is great for creating more space in your garden, but watch how the plants shade one another. You don't want your taller plants to block all of the sun for the shorter ones. Just another piece of the puzzle!

Herb and flower garden two weeks ago.

Herb and flower garden now.

Look how much this little plot has grown in two weeks! Astonishing! The parsley is really taking over! I've been using it a lot in my cooking, but I am also happy because it attracts the butterfly caterpillars. I love that I have the garden space to dabble in growing some flowers now.

Linked at Frugal Gardening 101.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday Post

Not a hymn today, but a poem. This one is so touching to me.

The Gift

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd,
I would bring Him a lamb.
If I were a wise man,
I would do my part.
But what can I give Him?
Give Him my heart.

by Christina Rossetti
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