Friday, March 31, 2006

Save Money- use reconstituted dry milk

One of the ways I try and save on a little money is using reconstituted dry milk in my baking and cooking. Now, apparently some people drink it, but I know that wouldn't fly in my family. :-) I usually make a fairly large batch and store it in the refrigerator, but if you only want to make enough for the recipe you're using, here's some info on proportion sizes:

If you need 1/4 milk: use 1/4 fresh water and 1-1/2 Tbl. instant non-fat dry milk powder
need 1/3 cup: use 1/3 cup water and 2 Tbl. + 1 tsp. dry milk
1/2 cup: use 1/2 cup water and 3 Tbl. dry milk
1 cup: use 1 cup water and 1/3 cup dry milk
1 quart: 3-3/4 cups water and 1-1/3 cups dry milk
2 quarts: use 7-2/3 cups water and 2-2/3 cups dry milk
1 gallon: use 15-1/2 cups water and 5-1/3 cups dry milk

PS- if your dry milk is over 1 yr. old, you should throw it out and buy it new. After one year, it starts to lose both its nutritional value and taste.

Yeast Dough

Here's a new recipe my girlfriend Rebekah recently shared with me. I haven't yet tried it but Rebekah says it's incredible. (Her hubby liked it, too.) Apparently, you take out only the dough you need (for things like cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, mini pizzas, bread sticks, etc.) and keep the rest refrigerated until the next baked goodie. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to try it this weekend on my parents when they come down to visit. Let me know if you like it!

Refrigerator Dough
Dissolve: 1 1/2 cups warm water, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1/2 tablespoon active dry yeast. Let stand 10 minutes.
Combine: yeast mixture, 1/4 cup soft butter, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 cups whole wheat flour.
Stir in 2 cups flour (all-purpose or bread) in 1/2-cup increments. Turn dough onto counter and knead in 1 1/2 cups flour until dough is fairly smooth (6-8 minutes).
Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to one week.
Form into final shape in greased baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 24 rolls.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

How would you feel?

I don't know about you other moms out there, but I know that as a mother of two toddlers, it is SO HARD to respond appropriately and righteously to the crazy things that happen every day. I was the youngest of two children. I was the second youngest of my cousins (the last cousin was but a mere four years younger). Could probably count on one hand how many times I babysat as a pre-teen/teen. The only real kid experience I had was the one summer between my Freshman and Sophomore years at college when I worked part-time at a local day care center. So when I walked into motherhood for the first time, I really had no clue what I was getting myself into. I remember looking at the positive pregnancy test with my first child (three weeks into my marriage) and my hubby and I both looked at it with starry eyes and bright expectations of the Hallmark experience that soon awaited us. Boy, were we in for a surprise!

To tell you the truth, I get frustrated at those pictures, commercials, websites, magazine articles, etc. that portray motherhood as some incredibly beautiful bonding experience where mom is blissfully nursing or rocking her child, singing sweet lullabyes while this perfect little infant coos and falls asleep in her arms. Or better yet, the mother of a toddler that seems to always be even-keeled and tempered and quietly says "no, no Jonny... that's a no no" and the child willingly listens. They make it appear SO easy. I'm sorry, but reality, at least reality in my home, is nothing like that. Sure, we've had our Hallmark moments, but they are truly few and far between.

Before I got married and started having children, I thought I was generally a "good" person. Then when my roles drastically and very quickly changed, I began to see the true yuckiness of the real me. See, when someone is single, they can (for the most part) be selfish, prideful, and lack self-control and no one really has to know about it. But when you get married, and especially when you start having children, the REAL you seems to rear its ugly head in all its glory. At least it did in my case. Never in a million years would I have guessed how absolutely selfish and short-tempered I was. I can't hide the real me from my husband and children. They love me dearly, but they also test me at every turn.

One of my biggest struggles as a wife and mom is that I react before I think. It's really starting to bother me, too. RD's late for dinner or an important meeting we need to attend... I get angry. The kids spill milk on the table and floor... I get angry. Arianna has an "accident" or I have to change Benjamin's 5th poopy diaper for the day... I get angry. I kill dinner... I get angry. The phone rings incessently... I get angry. I'm on my 3rd shirt for the day because my expanding belly has become a drip cloth... I get angry. Ugh. It's disgusting and I get so frustrated at myself! Why does everything seem to irritate me and drive me to the edge of insanity? One word... selfishness. If I could just love God and love others and leave my "self" out of the equation, I can't even imagine how wonderful my homelife could be.

One of the things that got me thinking about my sinful responses to situations was about a week ago when RD reacted to something I did with a hasty/snide comment. He wasn't even being overly rude, but he was obviously irritated at me and reacted with anger and frustration. He made me feel awful, like I was silly, or foolish, or incompetent. We worked it out and made our apologies, but it got me thinking. How do RD and the kids feel when I react to them like that?... Do I make them feel silly or foolish or incompetent? Do they walk on egg-shells around me in fear, not knowing if and/or when I'm going to explode on them? wow... That is the LAST thing I want to do to the ones that I love. But I think I do it every day. -sigh-

Lord, please make me aware of how I treat my family, even if it's painful. I love them dearly and I so do not want to hurt them or make them feel stupid in any way. I don't want them to ever question my love for them. Remind me to put myself in their shoes and really THINK about my responses so that I can build them up rather than tear them down.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A life of service

"... whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. 'For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.' " -Mark 10: 43-45

I had deep thought this morning. I wonder if the reason (or at least one of reasons) why women got so discontent with being wives/mothers/homemakers and therefore started the Women's Movement was because they weren't receiving praise or accolades for their position. Look at our society. Our personal greatness is defined by our importance, ability, performance, authority, and rank. Those that are "#1" so to speak, are so admired... shall I even say worshipped. If women weren't reading their Bibles, and so, were not developing a personal Biblical worldview, it makes sense that they would be easily confused and led astray by the world. Perhaps women need to be meditating on just WHY Christ came to us in the first place.

Old Testament Scripture prophecied Christ's coming ALL OVER the place. It was no surprise, then, when He actually came to earth. But people were confused back then, too. They read that He'd become King and they translated that as an "earthly king" to overthrow Roman rule. They didn't realize that He was to become King in a spiritual/eternal sense. Even back then, greatness meant power and authority and position (remember the Scribes and Pharisees?). It's no wonder that so many people didn't recognize or acknowledge Him as the Messiah. People were so disappointed when He actually came as a Suffering Servant. His very death on the cross was the ultimate act of service.

As I spend my days wiping runny noses, running errands for RD, filling/emptying the dishwasher, grocery shopping, cooking, doing laundry, ironing, etc., it is so easy to lose sight of the importance of it all. Not much of what I do day-in day-out is very "glorious" work (like changing poopy diapers). But women, listen. Everytime you make a healthy meal, do a load of laundry, wash dishes, love on your husband, and yes, change a poopy diaper, if you do it for God's glory, you ARE #1... you ARE great.

God calls us to serve people, that is, our neighbors. But, our immediate sphere of influence is within the home. Today, try not to think of your chores as drudgery, but look at them as a way to serve others and to bring glory and honor to God. Remember, true greatness by God's standards is a life of service to others.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Swiss Tuna Melt

RD and I tried a new recipe tonight out of this month's Taste of Home magazine. It is SO good, that is, if you like tuna. :-)

1 can (6 oz.) light water-packed tuna, drained and flaked
3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
pepper to taste
8 slices of bread
softened butter

In a bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. Spread over 4 slices of bread, about 1/2 cup on each; top with remaining bread. Butter the outsides of sandwiches.
On a griddle or in a large skillet over medium heat, grill sandwiches for 4-5 min.s on each side or until lightly toasted.
Yield: 4 servings

(We found that there was actually enough filling for 5 sandwiches.)

God's Will

"I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart." -Ps. 40:8

Let me ask you ladies a pointed question... Do you read your Bible every day? And I'm not talking about a 5 min. devotional, one verse reading episode. I'm talking about actually reading the Bible, like a full passage of Scripture or reading through an entire book. Let me ask you some other questions. Do you read the newspaper everyday? Do you read articles from magazines like Better Homes and Gardens or Guidepost or Readers Digest or Taste of Home during the day or while you're "in dispose"? Do you read through novels, books, school materials, etc. everyday? Here's a good one. How long do you spend on any given day reading stuff off the internet, or watching TV or movies? What I'm trying to get you to see is that most of us, if we're truly honest, spend MUCH more time filling our minds with "other things" rather than reading the Word of our precious Lord.

Now, I'll be honest with you. I'm not an incredibly good example of a daily Bible-reading lady, but I'm slowly starting to understand the importance of truly sitting down, reading God's Word, meditating on it, and memorizing it so that it's "within my heart".

The Psalm I read this morning said that "I delight to do Your will, O my God..." How on earth are we women to even KNOW what God's will for our lives is if we don't spend some real, quality time putting God's Law within our hearts? It's impossible! We can't know.

Being a mother of two toddlers, I know what it's like to have limited time. And here in a little over a month when I'll have a newborn to add to the mix, I'm going to come face to face with an even tighter schedule. But it is an absolute neccesity to make time for our Lord. We make time for that which is important to us. If spending time with God doesn't seem all that important to you right now, and you are a born again believer, than you need to pray earnestly that the Lord will stir within your heart a new hunger for intimacy with Him. Believe me. That is one prayer that He'll be glad to answer.

One of the things that I try to do in order to spend time with God is -gasp- get up early. When I say early, I mean, the alarm goes off at 4:45am so I'm up at 5am. Not an easy task. Having fresh coffee brewed to wake up to makes things a little easier, but believe me, I struggle every morning. In fact, I struggle every evening as I TRY desperately to get to bed early but SOMETHING seems to arise to keep me up past 10pm. It's a sacrifice I'm willing to make though because I want to know my God and I want to know His will for my life. I need to know what He wants me to do each day so that my life is a fragrant aroma to Him.

Bottom line: to know God's will for your life each day, you need to be spending quality time with Him each day. Getting up early is probably the best time for us women. No husband or children beckoning for our attention. No meals to be prepared. No phone calls. It's quiet... like REALLY quiet. Just try it. I promise, the benefits far outweigh the sacrifice.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Taming of the Tongue

"...'I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle...' " -Ps. 39:1

As I was reading this passage this morning, I immediately felt consumed with conviction. How often, every day, does my mouth get me in trouble? So many times, I'd really rather not take a formal count. Why is it so difficult to keep one's mouth quiet?!!!

I hear time and time again from secular society that women are oppressed, not taken seriously, have little to no power, are taken for granted, etc. Isn't that why the whole Women's Movement got started in the first place? Didn't women feel that being a wife and mom wasn't enough? Somewhere, people got confused and started assuming that just because a woman stayed home and took care of her home and children that she wasn't important and that her role was not a powerful one, that men were "someone" because they held careers and high corporate positions. I'll tell you what. It only takes 10 min.s in my home to see just how powerful a woman can be. All it takes is for me to wake up with a bad attitude to see some MAJOR effects within the home setting. Hello!!! You women out there have POWER!

One major way we as women have incredible power and control within the homefront is that little organ in our mouth called the tongue. I can spend all day building up, loving, nurturing, consoling, encouraging, teaching, etc. and with one sharp and hurtful word I can tear it all to the ground. With one word I can make my husband and children question my very love for them.

There's a cutsie little saying out there that "if momma ain't happy, then nobody's happy". Unfortunately it is SO true. I don't quite understand it, but if RD and/or the kids are in a foul mood, people recognize it, but it's not an earth-shattering event. But when I'm in a bad mood and foul words are pouring forth in my speech, my family is severely affected.

Believe me, every day is a struggle for me in this area. But I'm slowly becoming more aware of how much power and control I have in my family with my words. I can either give life or take away life with my mouth. As a believer, I have a choice each moment whether or not I am going to glorify God with my words.

Lord, help me today to watch very closely my words. Help me to only speak that which will give life to my husband and children. May the words of my mouth be glorifying to you today.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Savory Chicken Chili (crockpot)

aka "white chili"- SUPER YUMMY

(3) 15 oz. cans Great Northern or Cannellini beans, drained
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
1 med. onion, chopped
2 med. red peppers, seeded and chopped
(1) 4 oz. can diced green chilies
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried oregano

Combine all ingredients in the crock-pot slow cooker (4 qt.). Mix thoroughly. Cover; cook on Low 8 to 10 hours (or on High 4 to 5 hours). Makes 8 servings.

Why I started this blog

Ok, so we already have the family blog, why start up another one? Well, I've found that many of the postings that I'd like to put up gravitate toward things of the home, which the general public may not be interested in reading. Friends and family may just want to hear the latest on what's occuring with our immediate family. They may not want to hear about recipes, cooking, home-keeping, finances, and things of such feminine nature. Since I've been married and have been bearing/nurturing children, I have learned SO much about what it is to be a Christian woman. And every day I learn a little bit more. This blog is for you women out there that want to hear about one woman's journey through wifehood and motherhood and it's also a place where you can share your own recipes and tricks-of-the-trade. I would LOVE to hear about how you other women are growing in your faith and are maturing as wives and mothers.