Friday, October 31, 2008

How Things are Going

Thanks to all of you who kept us in your prayers. Here's an update on how things are going. Hubby is doing fine. We still don't know if he actually has Lyme Disease, but he's on antibiotics anyway, though they'd make great diet pills. Hubby says they make everything he eats taste terrible! Thanks to a very generous blessing we received, we were able to make our mortgage payment without worry. We feel a bit more stable. To help make ends meet I'm hoping to sell off some of my tea cup collection. While I enjoy these pieces, they have outstayed their usage. I need the shelf they are on for other things now that Baby Girl sits at the table with us. I'm making room on my hutch for use as a buffet for when we take meals rather than spreading out the service dishes on the table. Our dining table is rather small.

We STILL have snow on the ground! Hubby will be turning on the outdoor wood boiler by Sunday so I won't have to be careful with the oil heat until May. We'll just turn the oil furnace right off. The nice thing is our house will go from 64 degrees to 72! When we bought the boiler, we bought one too big for our house because we plan on adding a second storey. Consequently, in order to keep the boiler from over-heating, we have to keep the house toasty warm. No complaints here!

Today, I'm hoping to make applesauce and more crabapple jelly. I have to see if I have any canning lids first. I also am going to mail out a package to my blessing-giver. I know she reads this blog, so keep an eye out for a box and please know we are ever so grateful!

I lament a bit about the snow. You see, just down the path behind my house along the treeline is a very large bittersweet vine. I was hoping to get out there and cut back the branches and sell the bunches. I'm pretty sure the heavy, wet snow destroyed their autumn beauty. I'm also hoping my elderberry bushes didn't get shocked and die. Thankfully, they're on warrenty until next autumn, so if they die, I should be able to receive two more for free.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Truth is sweet ~ Mushroom Pie

I'm in Ezekiel now as I read the Bible from Genesis to Revelations. This stood out to me this morning:

Ezekiel 2:9, 10; 3:1-3 KJV

And when I looked, behold, a hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therin; And he spread it before me, and it was written within and without; and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe. Moreover, he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thous findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.

The scroll was full of "lamentations and mournings" and yet when he ate it, it was "as honey for sweetness." It struck me that no matter how unpleasant God's Truth may be at times, no matter how hard His admonitions, trials, and even His wrath, it is still sweet as honey because it is Truth and it is Goodness and it is entirely in His hands.

Now for something savory....a recipe for Mushroom Pie

Enough pastry for a top and bottom crust in an 8 or 9 inch pie plate.

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan and add chopped onions. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are just tender. Add two packages of mushrooms (washed and sliced thickly), cover, stir occasionally. Add 1 small can of mushroom partially drained, a splash of brandy and a hearty splash of cooking sherry, dried parsley, salt, pepper and 4-5 tablespoons of flour. Blend well and cook, uncovered until thickened. Add a bit of milk or cream to make a good gravy and cook until thickened. Remove from heat and pour into the pastry lined pie plate. Top with pastry crust, crimp edges and cut slits. Bake in a 350 degree oven between 30-45 minutes (or until crust is cooked through.)

I credit a re-enacting friend of mine with this recipe. She uses baby portobellas and dried porcini mushrooms. For a more economical version, I use two boxes of fresh mushrooms from Aldi.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mouths of Babes

This past Sunday as I ushered my son out the door, he asked if we were going to the farm. I told him that we were going to church to worship Jesus. He responded, "Worship pizza?"

Sunday, October 26, 2008

No Longer Afraid

Ok, I admit....I've been fraught with worry about how the world is turning and our own financial struggles. Today's sermon really helped me cast off fears and doubts.

The foundations are being laid for the rise of the anti-Christ. Many people become worried and fearful at the very thought. I do believe American must decline as a world power in order for prophecy to be fulfilled. I do believe it's going to get harder. But rather than being fearful like I was before, I'm actually excited. The last time the world quaked with the thunder of prophecies being fulfilled was during the time of Christ. I used to wonder at how amazing it must have been to live during Christ's walk on this earth. But we're living in the dress rehersals of His return!!

I wrote yesterday how I was gun shy about the future, wondering what we're going to get hit with next in our run of "bad luck." Now, I'm peeking around the corner, looking to see what God has in store for us!

I also realized that perhaps we're getting hit so hard financially because I'm a financial HOG. I keep it not only from hubby, but from God. That is a sin I'm repenting of and asking God to show me how He wants hubby and I to deal with finances.

I'm no longer going to be afraid of tithing. I'm going to pray fervently for it!

I'm looking forward to the challenges ahead. I'm looking forward to seeing how He moves in this family and in my church. I'm looking forward to stepping out of my shell and out of my laziness and lack of vision and my procrastination and getting to work.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Our Odd October

First, our pressure tank AND well pump went at the same time.
Then, hubby's truck needed repair.
After that, hubby's chainsaw broke.
Next, a tree fell on hubby's truck.
Now, my truck is making funny noises when I turn the heater on.
Finally (hopefully), hubby's being treated for Lyme Disease.

We've gone from frustrated to angry to bitter to laughing insanely. *smirk*

I will say that we're getting a bit gun shy about the future. We're wondering what's going to happen next!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mac ~n~ cheese!

A healthier home-made macaroni and cheese really doesn't take that much longer and isn't that much harder to make than the boxed version. Here's my recipe:

Cook one 12-ounce box of whole wheat macaroni. Drain and set aside. In that same pot, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of white whole wheat flour, salt and pepper to taste and 1 cup of milk. Whisk until it's no longer clumpy and allow to cook, whisking occasionally until it's thick and bubbly. Reduce heat. Add 8 ounces shredded cheese, stirring in with a wooded spoon. Add 1/2 to 1 cup milk (just enough to make a thick cheese sauce) and continue stirring until all the cheese is melted. Remove from heat and add the macaroni. Blend well and serve.

I like to try different cheeses. Tonight, I made this with 4 ounces New York Cheddar and 4 ounces of Monteray Jack. I also added in some cooked ground beef and onions. Yum! Hubby also loves Swiss mac and cheese, but I couldn't find any Swiss cheese at Aldi, so I didn't make it tonight.

Happy cooking!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Magazines for the Home

What happened to Better Homes and Gardens and Good Housekeeping. They really don't have much to do with their titles anymore, especially Good Housekeeping. Better Homes and Gardens caters to a more wealthy crowd and you need to live near several expensive specialty food stores in order to cook most of their recipes. Good Housekeeping is full of celebrity gossip and advice that seems to apply more to the modernist career woman rather than a woman who is a keeper of her home.

Where are the ironing tips? Where are the decorating on a real budget (not $25,000 for a kitchen)?

I don't get either of those magazines, though I sometimes receive previously read copies. I do get Cottage Living, which is quickly joining the ranks of other "home and garden" magazines where the average person can't afford to even think about such renovations and decorating. Besides, they're on this "subway tile" kick. To top it off, most of the time the "cottages" they feature have well over 2,000 square feet of living space! I thought cottages were cute and small and realistic, not 5 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms! I do like their gardening ideas, though.

Since we're obviously sorely lacking in realistic housekeeping magazines, I visit Christian housekeeping blogs. They offer great, real world advice. Do you have a housekeeping blog of your own or some you enjoy visiting? If so, please share them in the comments section.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sick Day

I'm having a rather productive sick day. Children and mommy have ANOTHER cold (grrrrr), so we're all in jammies. I hauled the computer upstairs and am cleaning out, catching up and I completed the newsletter I'm the editor of. I made a hearty rice, wild rice and root veggie chicken soup for lunch. Dinner will be pork.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Budget Menu

I don't have much left in my monthly grocery budget, so I've come up with a budget menu for the next 12 days. The 30th and 31st of this month I've left open for the time being.

Here's my budget menu:

Today, Saturday the 18th: I was supposed to make Chicken Strata, but I forgot to buy cream of mushroom soup. Rather than wasting gas to buy a can, I'm going to make a Fricasse of Chicken instead and serve it over brown rice.

Sunday 19th: hotdogs, homemade mac and cheese, steamed carrots from my garden.

Monday: Pork (that's in my freezer), smashed root vegetables made from left over roasted root vegetables, baked apples from my dad's trees

Tuesday: Drumsticks (that's in my freezer already), brown rice, squash from my trip to the farm.

Wednesday 22nd: If I have any left over chicken I'll make buiscuts and gravy. If not, I'm going to make a soup from whatever veggies I have in the house, some barley in my pantry and the chicken stock I made from the chicken feet I was given.

Thursday: Swiss mac and cheese (one of hubby's favorite dishes). If I have enough money, I'll get a good quality swiss. If not, I'll just use the swiss slices at Aldi. I'll add a side of steamed mixed veg from the bags of frozen veg you can get fairly inexpensively at the store.

Friday: Fish and chips. Boxes of battered fish fillets at Aldi aren't that expensive. The chips I'll make myself out of potatoes I have on hand. For a side dish, I'll make baked apples. Hubby loves baked apples.

Saturday 25th: Homemade pizza!

Sunday: Mushroom quiche and applesauce

Monday: We'll probably eat at my in-laws'

Tuesday: Another special treat for hubby, but not too expensive...Oktoberfest! Wurst, German potato salad, sourkraut

Wednesday: Mushroom pie....ooooohhhh this is good.

A few of these dishes are meatless, but they're favorites of hubby's so my carnivore shouldn't mind.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Weird Week - WOW - McCain

Wow, this past week has been weird. It seemed every time we turned around something was breaking. First, hubby's truck needed calipers, roaters, brakes and a new steering column. Then, we lost our water pressure. Hubby replaced the faulty pump switch and the broken pressure tank only to find out that we STILL don't have water pressure. Tomorrow, the well guy is coming to pull up our well pump. I pray it's something simple and inexpensive. Next, hubby's chain saw broke. Thankfully, we still have our health, humor and most importantly our faith.

I read in the paper a few months ago that there is a new local chapter of an organization called WOW (Women of Worth.) The article basically stated that to be a Woman of Worth, you had to have a career. Apparently, at-home moms aren't worth it enough to be a woman of worth. That's ok. I don't need a worldly hen house to tell me whether or not I'm worth anything. Who can find a virtuous woman for her price is far above rubies. Far above rubies...now that's worth something! ;b

Hubby's union sent paperwork on the two main presidential candidates (I wish they'd list EVERYONE who was running and not just Obama and McCain). The paperwork listed what each candidate believed, supported and planned on doing. It said that McCain supports economic globalization and wants to work towards that. Frankly, that doesn't sit well with me at all!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Seeking a Book

I am seeking "A Thousand Ways to Please a Family" (subtitled "with Bettina's Best Recipes") by Louise Bennett Weaver. I'd love to add it to my collection.

Elderberries, etc.

We had our first frost this morning. As the leaves make quick changes to a variety of autumn hues, a bit of green arrived in the mail. My elderberry bushes arrived (as did my heirloom garlic). I was disappointed that the nursery was out of blueberries, but planting those elderberries in the crisp autumn noon-day erased my disappointment. I have credit at that nursery now that I can use later this winter when I order my spring plants.

I haven't been online in a couple of days and it'll probably be hit and miss for a while. I'm just so busy! Plus, I'm trying to save money and running the computer requires energy. It is frustrating that every time I work very hard to save money, something comes up to eat that savings right up. I won't balk, though, because it is rather amazing that the Lord provides just enough when the goings get tough.

I went to the grocery store yesterday because they often have day-old meats marked down. I was able to buy a steak for hubby, some boneless pork sirloins and a roasting chicken. Add a carton of organic plain whole milk yogurt (to refresh my homemade yogurt batch) and I spent just over $14.00. It wasn't the greatest savings, but it wasn't retail either.

The best though was I loaded my children and my parents in my car and we went to a farm a few towns over. I got 20 lbs of potatoes, a half a bushel of acorn squash, a half a peck of turnips, a jar of cinnamon, and a pie pumpkin for $10.00!

Other blessings yielded this week include my MIL buying Baby Girl a pack of diapers (she's in cloth part-time, so this pack will last!), my in-laws treating us to dinner in their home and giving us their ample left-overs, and my FIL giving me money for gas, and a friend giving me a can of formula!

Praise the Lord for His provisions and thanks to my friends and family for allowing Him to work through them.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Finances

Hubby appointed me chief financial officer of our home when we got married. Even before we were married he often had me do his finances for him. That's the way it goes in our household, but frankly, I'm not entirely comfortable with it. I feel I have too much "financial power." I feel like I'm the current US government, and my hubby is the typical hard-working American man....just coughing up his hard-earned cash to the institution and not knowing much about it otherwise.

I've tried various budget books and budgeting systems, but I always fall behind and find that many budget books don't show full accountability. You just jot in a number under a title, but it could mean anything. Not only could hubby not figure it out if he asked to see the books, but I couldn't answer for anything or figure out why we overspent here and where the money went there.

So now I've simplified and just have to add in a large amount of self-discipline. I just took a sheet of loose leaf paper and inserted it into the budget section of my Home Management Binder and labled the paper thus:

Date, Transation Description, Minus, Plus

So now, at the simple glace at the page, hubby and I can see what days I handled money, where, how and why, and whether or not it was spent or incoming.

It's no longer, ok, my wife spent $100 on groceries this week, but what's she got to show for it? Now it's, ok, my wife spent $30.00 at Walmart on infant formula, diapers, and that power cord I asked her to get. She spent $25.00 at Aldi's on food for the week. She spent $20.00 on gas at the Mobile station and $25.00 at Hannaford to stock up on meats for the freezer.

Not only does it hold me fully accountable for every red cent spent (because I DO have a tendancy to impulse buy and over spend), but it also shows hubby exactly where I went and what I did for the days.

This isn't a "leash" or an "over protective" or "controlling" thing. It's to make sure he can fully trust me the way a husband should.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

More Reasons Why I Want to Homeschool...

While reading through the newspaper yesterday, I saw an editorial written by a minister of a local church imploring the local school district to stop having "mandatory" marching band practice on Sundays during the typical hours of church services. Apparently, to be a part of this marching band, students are required to not only practice during school hours, after school hours, but also on Saturday and Sunday!!

Now that school has begun, I rarely see my neighbor's daughters. They both play sports and are usually gone all day and often have games and tournaments all weekend. Some of these are hours away and some are overlapped so as soon as one game is done, they rush off 30 miles or so to the next one!! It's ridiculous! Even in my own church, I've heard people ask a parent, "Where's your son/daughter today? I hope they're not sick." And the parent answers, "No, they had [some school thing] today." (Now, 90% of the families with children in my church homeschool.)

Now, I was in drama club and we always had a Sunday show, but that was a one time deal and it was in the afternoon after church.

Another reason to homeschool.....my father was educating school groups on a field trip to a local 18th century museum. While telling true history and not "revised" history, he tried to make sure the students understood how behaviors back then should not be repeated today (such as youngsters drinking alcohol). Afterwards, when the students moved on, the teacher held back and Dad talked to the teacher about the presentation. Dad said that he tried to interject some morality in there for the students. The teacher told dad, "Oh, we don't do that. We can't impose morality on the students." WHAT!!!!!! We're not talking about specific religious beliefs. We're talking about general common sense stuff here!

Recently, I was thinking back to my own 9th and 10th grade history classes. I had the same teacher both years. I remember it was world history and she enthusiastically taught us about all the religions that were common in different parts of the world. We learned about the Tao of Pooh and colored in Ying Yangs and the points of this religion and the pillars of that religion. But, when we got to Chrisitianity, she stopped dead in her tracks. "I can't teach about Christianity," she said. I, and some other students said, "But we learned all about these other religions." She also told me that my father deserved to make minimum wage because he didn't go to college like she did. (He was drafted during the Vietnam War).

Ugh.....I am SO homeschooling!