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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Family Schedule

I'm a scheduling person; always have been. I've always wanted our evenings to be run on some sort of schedule but was never full pleased with how it worked out. Below is an idea of how I used to have it set up.

Every night:
Dinner at 5
Family devotions following

Library Night

Family Game Night

Family Wii time

Family Reading Night

Family Movie Night

It worked ok but wasn't flexible enough for me. I've really been wanting our kids to also have one on one time with mom and dad separately and was trying to figure out how to do that. Here's what I've come up with.

Family together night. Do something together as a family.

Daddy spends time with boys and mama spends time with daughter.

Family together night. Do something together as a family.

Mama and daddy spend some alone time together and kids do something safe and alone together.

Daddy spends time with daughter and mama spends time with boys.

Lord willing, this will bring us even closer together as a family. We still do dinner and devotions at the same time. 7:00 everyone gets baths or showers and jammies on. Joshie goes to bed by 8:00 and the other kids have some time to cuddle and read with mama before bed. I'm very excited about this change.

Does your family use a schedule that works well? If so, please feel free to post it. I'd love to hear from other families who do this as well.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Homemade Vapor Type Rub - Natural Style ;)

There's a nasty cold going around with a cough that likes to linger. I didn't have any natural chest rub on hand so I thought I'd make some. Thank the Lord, I had everything but the eucalyptus essential oil on hand. I saw several recipes online that looked neat. I also wanted to make sure that whatever I made would be helpful for the kids and baby as well. I ended up meshing a couple recipes together (story of my life) and here's what I came up with. The original recipe called for 30 drops eucalyptus eo but none of the other essential oils. Below is the recipe I used.

1 tablespoon beeswax
5 tablespoons coconut oil
20 drops eucalyptus essential oil
6 drops lavender essential oil
3 drops tea tree oil

1. Using a double boiler (or I used a glass bowl in a boiling pot of water), melt the coconut oil and beeswax. Stir well.
2. After melted well till there are no more little pieces of beeswax, let the mixture sit a bit till it starts to solidify. Mix well to get clumps out and add eo's at this point.
3. Stir well and put into a jar with a tight fitting lid.

When using coconut oil, try to use raw, unrefined. For the beeswax, try making sure to purchase it from local honey suppliers. We got ours from Turtlebee Farms.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Chocolate Oat Cake - Healthier Version

Picture by Taste of Home. My cake looks very similar other than mine is a bit fluffier :)

I LOVE chocolate oat cakes. The main reason (even before I was a health nut) is because they were not sickly sweet. I had a recipe here at home that I wanted to convert using all natural sweeteners. It still takes unbleached flour instead of whole wheat but other than that, it's a lot more healthy than most cakes. Keep in mind, this is not meant to be really sweet. It does however satisfy my sweet tooth. This was my first time converting a cake recipe over to partial honey as an ingredient. I'm very excited with the texture and flavor. Yeah! A huge thanks to my sil, Beka for always encouraging me to keep trying :)

1 cup old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups boiling water
2/3 cup rapadura, sucunat or demera (I used rapadure aka whole cane sugar)
1/2 cup softened butter
2 large eggs
3/4 cup honey
1 3/4 cups unbleached flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 heaping tablespoon cocoa
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1. Mix together water, oats and rapadura. Let sit for 10 minutes.
2. While the above mixture is sitting, mix together the softened butter and eggs in their own separate bowl.
3. After the 10 minutes is up, add the egg and butter mixture to the oat mixture and stir well.
4. Add in the rest of the ingredients and stir well till all ingredients are combined well.
5. Grease pan with coconut oil (or your preferred oil) and pour batter in pan.
6. Bake at 325 degrees for 35-40 minutes till cake is set.

Optional: I like to sprinkle chocolate chips and chopped nuts on the top. It really makes the cake! It takes the place of frosting.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Leftover Makeover

What do you think we'll be making out of these leftover ingredients?

Cooked and drained leftover meat. We used italian sausage.

Leftover cooked and drained noodles.

Sliced mushrooms

Sliced onions

We had pizza the other night and I had a bit of leftover italian sausage, a few slices of onion and mushrooms and pepperoni. I thought about using the pepperoni but decided to save it for next time. Anyway, I had some leftover noodles in the fridge. Here's what I did.

1. Open a jar of pasta sauce and pour a bit in the bottom of a 2 or 3 quart glass dish. Layer a bit of meat, onion, mushrooms, noodles and some cheese. Keep doing this till you run out of ingredients.
2. Next, I microwaved all this on medium for 5 minutes, then on high for 5 minutes.

There was nothing left of this casserole after the kids were done with it. I even made this up the night before so all we had to do was pop it in the microwave today. Super simple, yummy and frugal!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Beautiful Bananas, A Story of Perseverance

I got a very cute little book from the library yesterday. Today, Jon and I snuggled on our oversized chair after we had done school for a relaxed book reading. The book starts out with a little girl who is going to see her Grandpa. She wanted to take him a gift, so off she goes with "a beautiful bunch of bananas". Along the way she meets all kinds of obstacles. The first sweeps the bananas right out of her arms and into the water. She has 4 other mishaps on the short trip to her Grandpa's house that cause her to lose her gift for her Grandpa. During this whole time, she never complains, sits down and cries or gives up. She continues on her journey regardless of the obstacles knowing that she is soon going to reach her destination; her Grandfather's house.

While reading through this book it reminded me of the Christian life. Obstacles will always come; and generally when we least expect them. They will sometimes throw us for a whirl, while stretching our faith. We can't stop the obstacles but we can choose how we react to them. Will you choose to sit down and give up, wallow in self pity and cry your eyes out, or continue on the path GOd has for you. Continuing on that path doesn't mean you know what is going to happen next; it simply means you are choosing to continue to follow God and his plan for your life, trusting in Him when sometimes it doesn't make sense.

Psalms 37:24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

How very important it is to pray for others during time of trial and time of rejoicing. During time of little and time of plenty.

Luke 22:31-32 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

One thing we like to say in our house is Keep on Keepin' On.

Matthew 24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Giving or Having Fun?

Donate a coat to a shelter, or purchase another "hip" outfit.

Buy a second sports car, or donate to a favorite charity for those truly in need.

Drink your morning Starbucks, or make coffee at home and give the rest of that saved money to sponsor a child in need.

Spend your time engrossed in the newest tv show, or spend some of those hours working in a soup kitchen, at CPC or other place.

Dine out nightly or take dinner to a shut in, widow or family who cannot afford a nice meal.

I could go on but I'll leave you with the words of our Lord.

Luke 3:10,11
And the crowds were questioning him saying, "Then what shall we do?" And he would answer and say to them, "the man who has two tunics, is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise"."

Crisis Pregnancy Center - in the U.S, Crisis Pregnancy Centers are set up all over. Look in your yellow pages or do a google search to find one near you. These centers are a Christian alternative to PLanned Parenthood. Here at CPC, the young, scared mothers are counseled and if they choose to, they can get mentors to help them through their pregnancy, childbirth and years down the road. These centers are in need of workers on site as well as donations if gently used or new baby and mama items. Here's a link to the Crisis Pregnancy Center in Flint.

Flushing Christian Outreach Center - this is located in Flushing, MI. There are so many ways to help serve here. You can help in person, donate items, etc.. Check out their website for more info.

Shelters - Find your local homeless shelters. There's so much you can do here! Donate items, sponsor families for Christmas, serve food, etc... Here is a link to the Shelter of Flint.

The Freedom Center - is a local church; one located in Flint and one located in Fenton. These centers host a Wrap the Homeless every year. Contact them for more information.

Help your church! - Our church has a clothes closet where people can donate clothes for those in need year round. They also have a food pantry that does the same. Many church's do similar things.

Nursing Homes - there are so many people that are put in nursing homes and are so lonely. Many of these patients do not get visitors. Visit your local nursing home and sing to, pray with or read to one of the patients. Let them talk awhile and show them you care.

There are so many more places to help; too many to list. I encourage you to find something local to you and help another in need. Don't let excuses keep you from doing the work the Lord has for you.

Homemade Food Made Ahead

Does that make sense? The thought I'm trying to convey here is making up food ahead of time for those times when you need something quick to grab. When I got my car, I was running a lot more than usual and eating out a lot more. So not worth my budget or my health. Here are a couple things I have made in the past few days to get ahead of the game. Both are SO yummy!

(picture borrowed)

Baked Oatmeal - I got this recipe from my friend Jennifer. You bake it, eat a single portion and refrigerate the rest. I like it leftover cold or warm. It's especially good warm with vanilla yogurt on the top. Oh and this oatmeal is not your usual baked oatmeal. It's more like a very moist cake. Very flavorful unlike most of them. This can be eaten by itself and enjoyed immensely.
6 cups oats
4 t baking powder
1-2 t cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk, rice milk, soy milk, etc..
4 eggs
3/4 cup oil
1 cup honey
1 t. vanilla
3 cups fresh fruit or frozen
1 cup nuts

1. Mix all and spread into 9x13.
2. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour till set and knife comes out clean.

Trail Mix Snack Bars - I made these up yesterday by meshing a few recipes together. They turned out so good!
1/4 heaping cup each of peanut butter and honey
1/4 cup rapadura, sucunat or demera (I used rapadura - whole cane sugar)
1 cup oats
1/2 cup raw nuts and seeds - we used slivered almonds
2/3 cup dried fruit - we used cranberries and raisins
1/3 cup coconut - we used very finely grated unsweetened
1 cup puff rice cereal (not rice krispies)
sea salt - pinch
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Combine honey, peanut butter, rapadura, and salt in a pan and heat over medium low heat till bubbly. Keep stirring and let it cook like this till everything is melted for about 4-5 minutes. The rapadura may not completely dissolve.
2. While the above is cooking, in bowl combine oats, nuts/seeds, dried fruit, coconut, and puff rice cereal. Stir to combine.
3. When peanut butter mixture is done, add in vanilla extract and stir well.
4. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the dry mixture and mix well. I got in with my hands a bit into the mixing process.
5. Put about 1/2 cup portions into a muffin tin and pack it down well. Refrigerate till set - about 1/2 hour or so.