3.31.2010

Waste Not Wednesday

Composting! What is compost/composting? Compost is a mixture of decayed or decaying organic matter used to fertilize soil. So why not make your own? Not only is it much more inexpensive than buying compost, it is resourceful as well. Just think how many trash bags you can save. All the organic matter you place in the trash bag takes up room and not only that it adds to the smell. Now how do you go about composting? The first step in composting is finding a location to place your compost. There are many different types of bins you can make that can be used for compost, or a simple hole in the ground works too. However, you may want to place shrubs, bushes, and other concealing plants around your compost location to keep the compost from becoming an eyesore. The second step in composting is having a container indoors to hold household scraps . An empty ice cream bucket works well, concealed under the sink, it won't even be noticed. Though any container can work. Now what can be placed in compost? Many number of things! Leaves, grass clippings, chicken and or cattle manure, sawdust, kitchen scraps, wood ashes, and shredded newspapers. Kitchen scraps are vegetable and fruit peelings/scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, and tea leaves/bags. Some items you will not want to include in your compost are butter/margarine, fats or oil of any kind, meat, garlic, onions, and peppers. These last three items are organic, however they have such a strong smell/taste that they will cause any thing grown in your soil to taste like them. You will want to empty your indoor compost container daily or at least every other day. This will eliminate any smells. You will want to stir your compost every so often to allow for quicker decomposing. This is a very quick overview of composting, for more detailed instructions you can look at numerous sources online. Have fun composting! -Not of This World

3.30.2010

Help! I'm overwhelmed! If the sheer volume of organization needed in your home has you feeling overwhelmed, break it down. Choose one drawer, one shelf, one cupboard to begin with. Grab a trash bag, set the timer for 15 minutes, and clean away. You will be surprised how much can be accomplished in 15 minutes. Take a few seconds to wipe down the inside of the drawer, shelf, or cupboard with a damp rag before putting the necessary items back inside. Spending 15 minutes every day in one, small area will result in an entire house that is clean and organized over time. Putting everything away correctly every time will help it stay that way. 15 minute clean-up it's Tuesday's thrifty task. Blessed Mama

3.29.2010

Corn Tortilla Chips

Hi! It's time for Munchy Monday's Recipe. Today's recipe is extremely easy. After making these the first time, we have found that it requires less and less time to prepare. The flavor is far superior to store bought chips, and having control over the ingredients used in preparing food usually results in a healthier product. Another plus of making your own tortilla chips is the difference in cost. The savings are substantial. Great savings, healthier product, and superior flavor, homemade tortilla chips are definitely Living Large on Less.

Corn Tortillas &/or Chips - The Living Large Way Combine two cups of instant corn masa flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 1/4 cups water. Mix for approx. 2 minutes to form soft dough. If dough feels dry, add more water by tablespoons. Divide into 16 equal balls. Cover with a damp cloth to keep dough moist. Line a tortilla press with two sheets of thick plastic wrap. (We use two sheets of waxed paper and a rolling pin instead) Place each ball between plastic and press until tortilla measures 5-6 inches in diameter. Peel off plastic wrap, or waxed paper, carefully. Preheat ungreased skillet, griddle, or comal (don't know what this is, but it's in the instructions) on med. high heat. Cook tortillas one at a time for 50 seconds. Turn and cook other side for 50 seconds. Cover with cloth napkin to keep soft and warm. Once completely cool, tortillas may be stored in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week. If you wish to use the tortillas in tostadas instead of chips, allow to cool and fry. For tortilla chips: Allow cooked tortillas to cool. Using knife or kitchen shears, cut tortillas into wedges or shape of choice. Chips may be fried in heated oil. Drain on paper towels, and salt or season to taste. Another cooking option would be to brush each chip with olive oil and bake in preheated oven at 350-400 degrees until crisp--turn once during cooking time.

That's it! Honest, that is all there is to making your own tortilla chips. It really is surprising how quickly and easily the dough comes together and the tortillas cook. Note: If making for a large crowd or heavy eaters, you will definitely want to double (maybe even triple) the recipe. This is one of our favorite frugal recipes. It is just so yummy! Instant corn masa flour can also be used to make homemade Tamales and other Mexican dishes.

3.25.2010

Good Afternoon! Today's post is going to be a week in a glance. We will be gone tomorrow and obviously we missed the past two days. So, today is going to be a Bam! All at once party! Tuesday's Thrifty Task is about creating a Homemaker's Journal or Brain in a Binder as it is sometimes called at our house. This is a thrifty task that I began approximately one year ago. It is still in the developmental stages; we are experimenting to discover what works best for our family. Free templates and pages are available to print out in various places online as well as instructions and ideas for creating a binder that works for you. There are also kits and premade binder/journals available for purchase. However you choose to obtain your homemaker's journal, the savings of time and money it provides will be noticeable. Just think of all the minutes we as homemakers spend looking for various telephone numbers, immunization records, and school info. What about those receipts and bank statements? I well remember the scramble to locate the phone numbers of the pizza delivery store in years gone by. Having all of a family's information all in one location will save literally hours each year. Remember, thrift isn't only about money. Though being able to find important papers and receipts may indeed save money as well. A Homemaker's Journal, Brain in a Binder, Mama's Map, whatever the name you give it, it's a task of thrift. The focus of Waste Not Wednesday has been given much recognition over the years. Very few households haven't made good use of this item in some way. Without further adieu, we bring you The Brown, Paper Bag! It's uses are practically endless. This grocery store staple is a true workhorse in the home. However, since plastic shopping bags can also prove useful, you may want to alternate between the two when the checker at the grocery store asks "paper or plastic?" Just like their cousins the plastic bags, paper bags also make handy trash can liners. Soggy bottom syndrome can be significantly reduced by placing the bottom of an egg carton in the bottom of the bag to catch drips. Here is a list of some of the Brown Paper's Bags most popular uses: book covers, envelopes, cards, gift tags, gift wrap, fire starter, and crafting paper. Cut so that it lays flat, the brown paper bag can also provide a disposable work surface for a number of household and shop projects. Many a noodle and donut have been rolled out and cut on a brown paper bag. Their absorbency also makes them useful as a blotter underneath oily objects. More than once I have used a brown paper bag to remove candle wax from the floor or a table cloth. Using a warm iron, lay a piece of brown paper bag over the wax. Place the iron on the paper for a little bit. Lift, move paper to an unused section and place iron on it again. Continue the process until no more wax soaks into the paper. Because the paper of the bag is a bit stiffer, useful stencils, patterns, and templates can be made from brown paper bags also. Torn into small pieces, crumpled up, smoothed out, and pasted onto the wall, brown paper bag works to create a faux leather finish for a fraction of the cost of wallpaper. The paper can be painted or varnished to achieve the desired finish. Be careful of bags which have lettering printed on them. The lettering may show through in some uses. This technique isn't limited to wall coverings. I have successfully used this same process to recover a three ring binder as well as to create a leather look on the outside of a greeting card. Try giving a lampshade a western update using this same technique. Brands could be burnt into the paper using a craft size soldering tool or western cutouts could be adhered. Trimming the edge with rope or lacing it with strips of leather would provide a finished look. The Brown Paper Bag, its uses are too vast for one posting. We'll have to explore more ideas later on. For now we'll move on. It looks like it's in the bag! Thursday Thrifty Tip! Today's tip is not only thrifty, it's quick! Yea!!! The tip for today is this: When beginning anything new, don't attempt to change too much at one time. Take it one step at a time. Maybe the entire house does need a major overhauling, but trying to accomplish that overhaul in one day, or even one week, probably won't yield the best results. Slow down, take a deep breath, and realize that most likely, things didn't become this way overnight. Expecting them to change that quickly may not be a realistic plan. Assess the situation. What change is truly necessary? Are any absolutely a must? Which alterations to the schedule are NOT a must? While helpful, can any of the areas needing adjusted wait until later? Beginning with the most necessary, choose one change and begin. This may be a big adjustment or it may be a really small tweak that will yield big rewards. Just don't allow yourself to become overwhelmed. Remember how to eat an elephant; one bite at a time. The best advice I can share on assessing your own situation and choosing the target of change is to spend time in prayer and ask the Lord which area He would have you change. If you can't see any way that change could be possible, then ask Him. He knows everything you need to know, and He will lead if you will hear. Tomorrow is Fabulous Friday! A couple of us are headed out of town to participate with their drama team in a Fine Arts Festival. The rest of us are going to be busy as well. So, here is another FABULOUS project for Friday - early. Usually, we feature a specific project or idea theme. Since Passover and Resurrection Sunday are rapidly approaching, this post is taking the form of a decorator's challenge. We at Living Large on Less are challenging you, our readers to decorate your home for Spring, Passover, and/or Resurrection Sunday. Even if you take a very simple approach to your spring decorating by running a clean sweep through your home, do something. Thoughts of "that isn't my thing or that's not really my cup of tea" may be running through your head right now, but don't quit reading yet. Give the challenge some serious thought. Why isn't this your cup of tea? What keeps you from doing something that you have never done? So what if your family doesn't notice, you will. After the cold and often dreary, dark days of winter, every home needs to have a fresh breath of Spring brush through. Don't know what to do or where to start? Go back through the archives here at Living Large and choose something. We have some quick and simple ideas to choose from. Take a peek at a magazine or go online and see what someone else has done. If nothing else, take some time to perform a clean sweep through the main living area. Maybe all that is needed for a fresh, new look is a bit of rearranging. Who knows, maybe a bit of scrubbing will make the entire house seem brand new. Whatever you do, do something! When you're done, send us your pictures and let us have a look see! An email address for you to use will be posted in a new post later this afternoon. We'll be back on Monday with some more munchies. You won't want to miss it; a recipe for some tortilla chips to go with the refried beans from a while back will be there as well as a little something or two for Spring celebrations. Well, at least the chips will be there. Have a blessed weekend.Enjoy your family. Thank you for joining us in our journey of Living Large On Less! Blessed Mama

3.24.2010

Ephesians 4:1-3 AMP, "I Therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to and beg you to walk (lead a life) worthy of the [divine] calling to which you have been called [with behavior that is a credit to the summons to God's service, living as becomes you] with complete lowliness of mind (humility) and meedness (unselfishness, gentleness, mildness), with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you love one another. Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace."

The next several verses speak of the varied gifts we have been given to use for Christ. These verses are followed with verses 12-15,

"His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ's body (the church), [That it might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the [full and accurate] knowledge of the Son of God, that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ's own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him. So then, we may no longer be children, tossed [like ships] to and fro between chance gusts of teaching and wavering with every changing wind of doctrine, [the prey of] the cunning and cleverness of unscrupulous men, [gamblers engaged] in every shifting form of trickery in inventing errors to mislead. Rather, let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, [even] Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)."

We are further instructed in verses 23-25 to "be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude], and put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God's image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, rejecting all falsity and being done now with it, let everyone express the truth with his neighbor, for we are all parts of one body and members one of another." Let's continue with 5:10,11,15-17, "And try to learn [in your experience] what is pleasing to the Lord [let your lives be constant proofs of what is most acceptable to Him]. Take no part in and have no fellowship with the fruitless deeds and enterprises of darkness, but instead [let your lives be so in contrast as to] expose and reprove and convict them. Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people), Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil. Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is."

The Word of God contains so much instruction for us, His children to walk out. I pray that my life is a constant proof of what is most acceptable to Him as verse 15 says. How important it is to look carefully at how I walk making certain that I am living purposefully and worthily and accurately, not in an unwise or witless manner. That I am being wise, sensible and intelligent. I must confess that by the end of each day, rarely do I feel wise or intelligent. I can only hope that while the end of the day may find me tired and somewhat weary, I am not unwise and witless. Witless is such a nasty sounding word; very similar to stupid. Nasty! Dear Lord, please keep me from lacking sense. I long to live purposefully and accurately. I ask that You keep me from being unwise and witless. Thank You for Your keeping care. How I trust You! In Jesus' name, Amen

As we begin to enter the season of celebrating Christ's Resurrection, let's examine ourselves. Let's place our hearts and lives under the microscope of God's Word and renew our commitment to walk more closely to Christ than ever before. Have a glorious day in Jesus! Blessed Mama

3.23.2010

Are We Peacemakers?

James 3:16-18 AMP, "For wherever there is jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry and selfish ambition), there will also be confusion (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure (undefiled); then it is peace-loving, courteous (considerate, gentle), [It is willing to] yield to reason, full of compassion and good fruits; it is wholehearted and straight-forward, impartial and unfeigned (free from doubts, wavering, and insincerity). and the harvest of righteousness (of conformity to God's will in thought and deed) is [the fruit of the seed] sown in peace by those who work for and make peace [in themselves and in others, that peace which means concord, agreement, and harmony between individuals, with undisturbedness, in a peaceful mind free from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts].

James 3:16-18 NKJV, "For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."

"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God." Matthew 5:9 NKJV

3.22.2010

Munchie Monday!

Smoothies! They are perfect for a quick easy snack. What you need:
  • Fruit- fresh, frozen, or canned. Preferably what you got on sale or grew yourself. If using canned fruit drain before use. Various combinations of fruits taste delicious. Some examples are-peaches and strawberries or even add some blueberries * bananas and strawberries * pineapple, bananas, and strawberries.
  • Blender
  • Long spoon
  • Drinking glasses
  • Ice- if not using frozen fruit

Blend the fresh or canned fruit first. Then add the frozen fruit or the ice cubes. You might need to stir it around in blender after adding the frozen ingredients. If mixture is too thick to blend well, add some milk or juice. When blended to desired consistency, pour into glasses and enjoy! -Not of This World

3.19.2010

Growing Up

Growing up, why does it have to be so difficult for me sometimes? Growing up spiritually is even more challenging than growing up physically. It would be so much easier if *BAM!* I were grown up. Well, OK, it would be quicker. Every experience and lesson in life is a building block for the next phase of growth. I am so thankful that I was taught to build my life on the Lord Jesus Christ. My foundation is stable and secure; it won't crumble or break. Nancy Campbell said it so well in a portion of her latest Above Rubies Devotional. I'm going to share what she said. You are going to want to head on over to www.aboverubies.org and read the rest of the devotional for yourself. Here is

"3. Grow Up

1 Peter 2:2 says, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby." It's the way to grow in your Christian walk. If a child does not grow physically it is because they have something medically wrong with them. A person who doesn't grow in the Lord also has a problem--usually because they lack the nutrition that comes from the Word.*

As we grow, we'll wean from milk to devouring strong meat. Hebrews 5:13-14 says, "For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age." Don't limit your children to Bible stories only. Raise them on the richness of the Word so they can learn to chew the meat as well. (Read Colossians 3:16)"

Colossians 3:16 AMP says, "Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts."

I love the part about letting the word spoken by Christ the Messiah having its home in our hearts and minds and dwelling in us in all its richness! Dwelling in me in all its richness, how far I have to go. There is still so much growing to do. This is something I have been discovering more and more lately. Everywhere I turn I am learning more that I have to learn. Did that even make sense? It's so easy to lose focus and become fixed on the wrong thing. Oh, it might not be a bad thing that I become fixed on; it just isn't the right thing. It isn't the word spoken by Christ the Messiah. What good is it for me to clean, organize, and beautify my earthly home if I don't make time to allow Christ's Word to have its home in my heart? None and believe me, it shows when I misplace my focus. All around me know and sometimes they even suffer for it.

With such a full and busy life, even one day out of focus affects the level of peace in our home. Verse 17 of Colossians 3 says it so well, "And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon] His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him." In dependence upon His Person, that is the key to growing up. Whatever I do, I must do it in His name and in dependence upon Him. How I need the Lord. Is it any wonder that the Lord placed a verse about total dependence on Him right before verses instructing wives, husbands, and children in their treatment of each other? I think not. In His infinite wisdom, our Heavenly Father knew the only way we obey His Word was if we were in complete dependence on His Person. He is just so good! Even in His Word He perfectly supplies our needs! How I Love You, Lord.

I would like to close this post with an apology. I want to apologize for not posting to A Mother's Rewards more regularly. I could share excuse after quite legitimate excuse, but the truth of the matter is that until yesterday, I had not allowed enough time in my schedule to study the Word deeply enough. This results in a very dry Blessed Mama, and a dry Mama doesn't produce fruit to share with those around her. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to be back in the Word! Even one day without feasting on God's Word dries me up. In these last days, I won't survive without feeding my spirit regularly. None of us will. Here's to growing up in God! Have a Blessed Weekend with those you love and enjoy celebrating Spring's arrival tomorrow.

*Just a quick reminder that Resurrection Sunday and Passover are both coming up soon. Passover is March 30 and Resurrection Sunday is April 4. This year, we are going to attempt our first ever Passover celebration. I am so excited to celebrate Jesus in this new way. Do you celebrate Passover? Leave a comment letting us know what you do. We'd love to hear all about it. Also...I read today of a mother who has solved the Easter/Spring vs. Resurrection Sunday dilemna in her house. She and her children color and hunt Easter eggs, bake and decorate a bunny cake, and all of the other fun, yet secular, parts of the Easter celebration on the first day of Spring. This leaves Resurrection Sunday free to focus on the true meaning. Not only are they able to enjoy a family celebration of Spring's arrival, they are also able to focus exclusively on Christ Resurrection Sunday. It's a win, win situation. After a long, hard winter, Spring's arrival is definitely cause for celebration. Until next week, Blessed Mama

The Luxuriousness of Less

Thrifty, frugal, conservative, economical, cheap, inexpensive, freebie, today's terminology abounds with labels such as these.  For the first time, many are discovering the simple life.  While we at Living Large have nothing against abundance or extravagance, we have also come to realize that sometimes less truly is more.
Less sitting around means less to clean.  The less time it takes to clean, the more available to spend with loved ones or devote to a favorite past time.

How long has it been since you were able to sit down and scrapbook?  Love to hike or bike?  When was the last time you were able to get out and enjoy the day?  What about family game night?  Has spending the day cooking together in the kitchen become a thing of the past? Even the most frugal among us often find ourselves too busy to enjoy the time we've been blessed with.  Today's Thrifty Thursday Tip will hopefully help us all find our way out of the never-ending trap of busyness.

The vast number of websites, books, magazine articles, webinars, and courses devoted to organization is mind-boggling.  As long as I can recall, homemakers and professionals have been attempting to implement successful organization into their lives.  Obviously, it's not working.  Today's tip will make any technique or trick easier to implement.  Here it is: Purge, purge, purge!  What?  Purge?  That's right, purge.  Most of us struggle with maintaining organization in our lives because we simply have too much to organize.  Be honest, even if they still fit, are we really, truly going to wear those clothes from the '80s and '90s?  Yes, the grandchildren would get a real kick out of seeing them, but then what?  I know, I know, that knitting machine will make lovely gifts, but is it being used?  Will it honestly ever be used?  And last but not least, NO we will NOT reuse ANY parts from that broken coffee pot EVER!  Why is it still being stored? 

Some rare, amazing individuals don't need today's tip.  There are perfectly organized beings out there who could teach all of us how to simplify our belongings.  Belongings aren't the only thing needing purged to create more on less though.  Our time needs purging as well.  Just as we will create less work and stress for ourselves by having less belongings to be responsible for, more time will be created to devote elsewhere by purging our daily schedules of unneeded commitments and activities. 

Time spent out with the girls is wonderful; so is going to the gym or hanging out with the guys, but how much "me time" is honestly necessary?  When does "me time" cease to be therapeutic and become selfish?  It's a touchy subject that each of us must answer for ourselves.  However, if we will be honest, I think that some of us will be surprised how much time can be freed up.  Time spent on the computer can be a real thief out the 24 hours we're given each day.  Sure, we might find some great freebies for our home and school, but what treasured memories could we make if we spent some of that time reading to or playing with our children?  As this post has already mentioned, these are decisions that can only be made individually.  We must not beat ourselves over the head for taking time to feed our souls and spirits.  Purging of our time is simply another way of learning how to Live Large On Less. -Blessed Mama   

3.17.2010

Waste Not Wednesday!

Tin cans! Tin cans of all sizes!
It always seems like such a waste to just throw them away, yet what is a person to do with them?
  • Baking- Tall skinny cans, short wide cans, and regular vegetable cans can all be used to bake quick breads in (like banana bread). Use them as you would a regular baking pan, just make sure you grease them really well. The baking time will depend on the size of the can. To test whether it is done or not, use a wooden skewer rather than a toothpick. Once done, leave bread in can to cool slightly, this will make for easier removal and also help the bread to maintain its shape when removed. Another fun idea to try would be to bake regular bread in them.
  • In the garden- Large gallon-sized cans work well as protection from the wind for young plants. Push the can slightly into the ground, so that it will not blow away. The cans also make watering easier, as the water will stay close to the plant and it roots. Remove the cans when the plants become taller than the can. For neater storage of cans until next year, stack several on a pole or stick. Small cans with holes punched in bottom can be used as small pots to start seeds in as well.
  • Paint- Have you ever been painting and needed to climb on a ladder to do the edge or just a little spot and couldn't hold onto the whole paint tray? Short wide mouthed cans work great for this. Just pour in a small amount of paint and you can easily carry it up and down the ladder. Tin cans also work if using paint thinner to wash out your brushes. Pour paint thinner into can and swish brushes around in it until clean. Then when you are done with all the brushes just throw away.
  • Storage- Most everyone knows about using cans for storage, but in case not, here are a few ideas. Items like pens, pencils, markers, paint brushes, screws, nuts and bolts, and nails are just a few. If the cans will be visible, you can spray paint them or even cover the outside with paper of choice.
These are just a few ideas to get you started thinking of ways to re-use tin cans. Just remember, do what works for you and your family! - Not of this World

A P.S. from Blessed Mama - With Resurrection Sunday and Spring Time fast approaching, here is an idea that might be usable.  Tin cans can be turned into adorable "baskets".  Punch two holes close to the top of the can making sure that the holes are on opposite sides of the can.  Spray paint or cover can with paper.  I have also seen multi-colored scraps of tissue paper or newspaper pictures decoupaged on the can.  Seasonal stickers can also be adhered in a randomly pleasing pattern.  Using a length of wire, bend the wire to form the basket handle.  Insert each end through one of the holes in the can and twist to secure.  Don't forget to make sure all rough edges have been made smooth.  Viola!  A basket for spring that didn't break the bank.  This is such an easy project to personalize.  The outside of the can wouldn't have to be decorated.  A clean, shiny can could be just the contemporary look you desire or maybe you prefer the primitive rusty look.  That could easily be achieved with paint.  Chenille stems (pipe cleaners) can also be used for a handle.  They would be nice and soft on little hands.  Another option for a handle would be to use paper ribbon that is wire enforced or a segment of artificial garland with wire insides.  As always, the possibilities are limitless. 

Cans also make beautiful luminaries and/or candleholders.  Punch out a design on the sides of the can, insert candle, light, and enjoy the patterns created as the light shines through the holes.  Blessed Mama

3.16.2010

Organizing Thrift - Which type are you?

Maybe you have a perfectly organized home; one in which the saying "a place for everything and everything in its place" accurately describes your organization style. Most homes, however, probably have at least one "hot spot" where clutter reigns and organization is a secretly longed for desire. Where is your "hot spot"? If your house is in anyway similar to ours, it is "hot spots" in the plural form. On the whole, we are quite organized, especially for a homeschooling family with six children. Despite the fact that I've come a long, long ways towards total organization, there are still a number of areas left to be conquered. The unconquered areas aren't rooms in my home; they are areas left out of balance in other areas of my life, mostly my mind. After 19 years of marriage, six children, numerous pets, and at least seven moves, I have come to a few conclusions about organization. Conclusion 1: Organization is more an act of the mind rather than a physical task. Conclusion 2: Organization that is success for my family may not work for anyone else. Conclusion 3: Without the proper tools, organization is practically impossible. Organization is an act of the mind. What? That's right. It is common knowledge that every individual possesses a unique style of learning. Just as learning styles are individual, so are organization styles. For some, there is no greater organization tool than a stack of file folders and a filing cabinet. As long as they possess these tools, their lives are in blissful order. Others like myself are "out of sight, out of mind" organizers. If I place things in file folders, they are kept perfectly safe wherever I place them. Perfectly safe because once they are out of sight, I no longer remember they exist. For organizers like me, the cubbyhole system is ideal. I can't tell you how many years I spent attempting to organize my life into file folders and drawers only to fail---miserably. Once I learned that there is more than one way to organize and that I simply wasn't wired to work well in the out of sight system, relief washed over me in waves. Now, I am free to organize the areas in my life in ways that work; much success has been achieved. Much organizational success has indeed been achieved in my home and life. It didn't take a lot to be considered much success. However, if you were to pattern your organizational strategy exactly after mine, most likely defeat would be the outcome. Why? Because you are a unique individual with your own distinct manner of successful order. What would be the most successful strategy? Study yourself; observe how you work. Use those findings to implement successful organization techniques into your life. Organization doesn't always take money. Sometimes it just takes time... ...or help. I realize that the first thing the word "tools" brings to mind when discussing organization are the actual, physical supplies used. Those aren't the tools Conclusion 3 is referring to. The tools of organization need to be put to use before the supplies see action. The best tools that we can obtain in our quest for organizational victory are collections. "Collections? Wait a minute, I want to organize what I already have, not add more stuff to the pile." Don't worry. These aren't collections of stuff. They are collections of new mindsets, strategies, methods, and products that work with our own personal organization styles. After years experiencing failure, it may take a while before the truth that success is possible really sinks in. Magazines, internet sites, and books from the library often provide ideas to collect. An idea notebook to keep your idea collection in is not only inexpensive, but easy as well. Pictures from magazines can be inserted in page protectors or glued directly into the notebook. Ideas gleaned from books and the internet can be written in so that they aren't forgotten. After your new collections have been gathered, the necessary supplies can be used. Just remember, most likely, the clutter and or chaos didn't just appear overnight. Eliminating the distraction of it may not take place that quickly either. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, dear friend, one bite at a time. Pick the smallest area of disorganization to begin with. Look at that area with a new eye, one that sees that clutter put away in a successful way. Begin the process. Once that first area is completed, the taste of victory will be oh so sweet. It will also be quite contagious. Tackling the next area will become easier and easier. Organization, it's Tuesday's Thrifty Task. Until tomorrow...Blessed Mama

3.15.2010

Hey There, it's Munchy Monday! We at Living Large hope you had a restful weekend with those you love. Today's recipe(s) is one of the most used ones at our house. Whenever we need a quick crust for a pizza, stromboli, hot pockets copycat, or some other type of bread application, this is the recipe that gets used. It is memorized by almost every cook in the house. The recipe is truly our very own. It began as a simpler variation and has been tweaked here an there to reach it's current status.

 Pizza Crust
Preheat over to 425 degrees
 2 C. flour - all-purpose, 1/2 whole wheat & 1/2 white, whole wheat, any type you prefer
1 t. salt
2 1/4 t. yeast
1 T. oil - We use olive oil, but any cooking oil would work.
1 C. warm water - 11o-115 degrees

Mix dry ingredients, add wet, and stir until incorporated. Turn out on lightly floured surface. If needed, knead until completely smooth. May need to add flour 1 T. at a time until desired consistency is reached. Shape into ball and cover for at least 10 minutes. Roll out and use.

 This will make 1 pizza crust or approx. 6 medium runzas, bierocks, hot pocket, whatever you call them at your home. If using an 11" pan, crust will be thick. If using the larger size pans, it will be thinner.

Crust can be pricked with a fork and baked for a few minutes before adding topping; this helps avoid the soggy bottom problem that crusts can develop.

 Recipes using recipe above:
Traditional Pizza Spread desired amount of pizza sauce around crust and lightly sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Place toppings of choice on next. Cover with however much mozarella cheese your family enjoys. We have also used cheddar cheese with great success. Olive Oil can be brush around edge of crust and sprinkled very lightly with salt. Bake at 425 for approx. 15-20 minutes.

 Mexican Pizza NOTE: This recipe does NOT use pizza sauce. Spread crust with refried beans. A layer of browned ground beef (can be flavored with taco seasonings) goes on next, top with cheddar or mexican style cheese and bake at 425. Salsa, lettuce, tomato, and other mexican-style toppings can be added after baking.

Runza, Bierocks, Hot Pockets Instead of rolling dough into pizza crust, divide into approx. 6 pieces and roll each piece out individually. Place filling ingredients of choice on top of dough, gather up edges of dough and seal well. Place on foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for approx. 15-20 min. Fillings can include, but are not limited to: ham & cheese, turkey & cheese, pizza flavored meat and cheese, unseasoned ground beef and cheese (cheeseburger combo), or traditional ground beef and cabbage.

 Meat Roll Roll entire crust recipe out into rectangle and spread with butter. Place a layer of meat all across the dough (sliced deli ham is my personal favorite). Cover with a layer of cheese. Begin to roll up the dough as if making cinnamon rolls. Seal edges and place on foil or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 425 until nicely browned. Depending on the oven and thickness of the dough, it can take anywhere from 30-45 minutes. Bread can then be sliced and served.

Tomato or pizza sauce can be used instead of butter. With meat and mozarella cheese, it makes a fun alternative to traditional pizza.

 A breakfast roll can be made by spreading dough with scrambled eggs and breakfast meat and topping with cheese of choice before rolling.

 As you can see, the possibilities for this basic dough recipe are virtually endless. We love that it is quick and requires no extra time to raise before using. We would love to hear what you did with the recipe. Feel free to leave a comment letting us know. Until tomorrow, Blessed Mama

3.11.2010

Thursday's Thrifty Tip - Saving With Coupons

Much ado is made over coupons. Thousands of thrifty homemakers have been saving thousands of dollars using coupons for years. I can distinctly remember the excitement double coupon days at our local supermarket brought. My grandmother especially loved using coupons for items on sale. By the time all of the coupons and sales were combined the item was purchased for practically pennies. For those who have managed to escape the lure of the coupon, such excitement over a piece of paper may seem bizarre, odd at least. However, as anyone who has scored a great buy will attest, there is a certain high that accompanies such a feat. I can't help but compare it to what hunters refer to as the thrill of the hunt. Being acquainted with both bargain shopping and hunting, the similarities between the two are numerous. I can't tell you how many times I have begun to use coupons only to quit the first week. Either I forgot them, the discounts weren't for brands our store carried, or they weren't enough of a savings to mess with. Recently, however, I was privileged to attend a free webinar on the subject of coupons. This program explained coupon usage in a very user-friendly way. Since that time, my daughters and I have begun taking advantage of the savings offered when coupons are used most efficiently. Most efficiently? Yes, efficiently. Here is how it was explained to me. Coupons are often for items which tend to be more expensive. Because of this, it is best to use the coupons only when the items go on sale. Knowing the difference between a manufacturer's coupon and an in-store coupon will enable you to save more as well. Manufacturer's coupons such as those obtained through the newspaper and/or online, cannot be stacked (use more than one at the same time). In-store coupons and manufacturer's coupons, however, CAN be stacked (used at the same time). Here's an example: say that the local market has your favorite brand of pasta on sale this week. You think that this is marvelous since a coupon for this pasta was in the newspaper on Sunday or online(manufacturer's coupon). Not only that, there was a coupon in the store's weekly flyer (store's coupon) for the pasta too. Now, when you get to the store, you look beside the item, and there is also an in-store coupon hanging there. Yea!!! All of these coupons may be used together for the item. This is stacking coupons. Usually there won't be three available, but it does happen occasionally. Stacking coupons will result in tremendous savings with items costing practically nothing, sometimes nothing at all. Talk about a rush. Yes, this requires forethought, diligence, and patience. There will be several weeks, possibly months, spent watching and observing when certain items go on sale. Eventually everything in the store goes on sale. However, you don't want merely savings. You want rock-bottom sales. Pay attention to the sales and notice when the rock-bottom prices are on. That's when you pull out those coupons and use them. Not that long ago, cream cheese was on sale for an amazingly low price. How I wished that I had a coupon that week! Now that would have been a buy! Had I done my homework a little bit better, I would most likely have been able to find a coupon to use. Too much effort you say? Only at first. It does take a bit to "get in the groove." The savings are more than worth the extra time. Large chain stores such as Aldi, Walgreens, CVS, and others are meccas of savings for coupon lovers. There are websites that give step by step instructions for weekly sales at these stores. Google coupon deals and just see what you find. I have read accounts of families purchasing hundreds of dollars worth of products for $5---no joke! It was amazing. These stores are also great places to find buys on grocery items as well. Some stores, CVS for an example, have programs that enable customers to accumulate some kind of Bonus Bucks which can be used on future purchases. Accumulating these Bonus Bucks and using them in conjunction with coupons is another way to save big. Being quite new to this entire way of saving, it seems as if there is an art to it. Numerous articles on many websites assure me that anyone can save big with coupons once they learn how. A good place to begin learning how to practice coupon thrift is by checking out the Start Saving With Coupons website. This site is run by Jim Bob and Amy Howard. They are very dedicated to helping people save and have been extremely helpful with answering any question I have had. The Howards offer webinars to teach the best ways to utilize coupons. These webinars are available for download on their site. At least they were the day I was there. There is a charge for this. Though there will be an occasional "freebie" come along--just enough to whet your appetite. As previously mentioned, there are numerous sources concerning coupon savings online. Entire blogs are dedicated to the topic of shopping savings. Another quick tip concerning coupon use; even if you don't need the item that you have a coupon for when it goes on sale, go ahead and take advantage of the sale if at all possible. Doing this will enable you to put by a surplus. Stocking up in this manner will, over time, create an entire pantry fully stocked with most/all of the products regularly used by your family. Continued use of coupon savings will result in a pantry that is not only fully stocked, but remains fully stocked. This practice in and of itself will result in hundreds, if not thousands of dollars saved. Watch those sales and use those coupons. Oh yes, get the Sunday paper. If you live in a larger area, the money saved by the coupons will more than pay for the cost of the Sunday subscription. Some families subscribe to more than one Sunday newspaper just for the coupons! Coupons---check 'em out! Blessed Mama

3.10.2010

Waste Not Wednesday

Newspapers! What do you do with them? They pile up oh so fast; yet, it seems like such a waste to throw them away. Don't worry, here are a few ideas to get you going.
  • Deodorizing- Newspapers (without colored ink) can be crumpled up and placed in any location that might contain bad odors, ex. the bottom of the trash can or in the freezer. Let the newspapers remain in that location for a few days. If it is a very strong odor you may want to replace the newspapers fairly often until the odor is gone.
  • Window cleaning- Newspapers (without colored ink) can be used in place of rags when washing mirrors and windows. Spray the glass with cleaner of choice, and scrub with newspapers. When newspaper becomes too wet replace with a new piece. Scrub in a circular motion until all moisture is gone. You now should have a streak free shine.
  • Protection- Use newspapers as extra packing for your breakables when moving or storing. Shred them and use as packing for items that you ship in the mail as well. This will eliminate the need for those annoying packing peanuts.
  • Fire starters- For those of you with fireplaces/wood stoves newspapers work awesome as part of your kindling supply.
  • Compost- Shredded newspapers can be mixed in with your compost pile as extra filler.
  • Creating a flower bed or garden- In late fall, spread out flat sheets of newspaper over the area in which you would like to have your garden next spring. You will want it to be a few layers thick. Once you have them laid out, gently wet newspapers until completely soaked. Cover the wet papers with grass, leaves, or dirt. The grass underneath the newspapers will die off, and the newspapers will deteriorate to provide compost. Weeds will also be prevented from growing up through the layer of newspapers, providing a cleared gardening spot come spring.

There are many more ideas out there for the uses of newspaper, you just have to get creative. Remember that wasting not is more than throwing something in the recycle bin! - Not of This World

3.09.2010

Refreshing Our Senses



One of the posts on the former Large on Less blog was about decorating our homes for Spring on the "cheep".  Yes, c-h-e-e-p, it was about using nests, feathers, eggs, that sort of thing.  Anyway, towards the end of post, I mentioned something about our senses awakening from their Winter slumber.  When what should flash across my mind but a "random?" thought: "Do your spiritual senses need an awakening?"  Ouch!  Yes, I think that my spiritual senses do indeed need an awakening.  "Have you burrowed way down deep in an effort to hide from the bitter cold and harshness of the Winter season?"  "Have you buried yourself under layer after layer of apathy to ward off the pain that caring about someone/something can cause?"  So many unbidden thoughts!  Go away!  I want to think carefree happy thoughts.  I want to think about white bunny rabbits hippity hopping down sunshiny paths lined with pastel colored tulips.  I want to concentrate on smelling the fragrance from those flowers and saturating the warmth from the springtime sun.  Whoops!  How can I smell the fragrance of the Rose of Sharon or feel the Son's warmth if I have buried myself in apathy? 

It's quite a revelation to realize that while I have been watching the snow and ice melt away outside my window, God has been longing to melt away the coldness of my heart.  Not only that, but He intends to pour out His Spirit on me in even greater measure than the rain that has been falling outside the past few days.  I can't help but sense that my Heavenly Father wants to muddy up the roads in my heart with the Holy Spirit.  Those familiar trails that my thoughts tend to travel are going to become unusable when the rain of the Spirit saturates the soil of my heart.  Just like the wet and muddy roads we are driving over outside right now. As we are having to use different routes to get down the valley on the ranch, my thoughts will have to take a different route too.  They are going to have to learn to travel the road that God planned for me to send them on all along. 

Change, new schedules, new plans, new routines, these have, in the past, been unpleasant things to me.  I adore new clothes, new games, new things, but when it comes to routines and plans....well, let me put it this way: I could be perfectly content working on an assembly line.  Doing the same thing over and over and over doesn't bother me in the least.  As a matter of fact, I like it that way.  There is immense security for me in sameness of order.  When I do any task, I always follow a set manner, in a set way, and use the same tool.  I am one of those people who don't change soap or cosmetics until the company no longer manufactures it.  Maybe this is why I'm usually considered boring.  Hmmm, that's another thought for another day.

My desire for sameness hasn't ever been a problem in my walk with the Lord.  God Himself never changes. He is God and He changes not.(Malachi 3:6) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, forever. (Hebrews 13:8)  However, He also says He is doing a new thing---that's change. (Isaiah 43:19)I want to be changed.  I don't wonder why these thoughts come passing through my mind.  After all, I prayed and asked God to change me, to make me like Him, to teach me His ways.  How else will this be accomplished if I don't change?  It's just that it's so new.  It's unfamiliar.  I haven't done this like this before...ever.  Being grouchy, unkind, rigid, these are all familiar habits.  I've never liked them, but even the arch enemies I have spent my life fighting can seem comforting when they are the only thing left that is familiar.  It's a  perverted, sick delusion the enemy deceives us with. 

When my thoughts aren't matching God's thoughts, mine need to become like His. To do this, I must find out what His are.  How?  By going to the Bible, His Word, and searching them out.  What will the coming days find me doing?  Reading the Word of God and finding out His thoughts.  I will be writing those thoughts down and repeating them to myself over and over and over until they replace any other thoughts that are there.  I will be learning a new route.  The senses of my heart are being awakened.  The Rose of Sharon, Jesus, is breaking through the winter snows of my heart and the warmth of God's love is melting through the icy hardness.  A new season is coming.  It's a season of change.  This is the year that I will be forever changed.  Even though there may be hard times and storms, the anticipation of God's new thing is high.  Refreshing my senses.  It's going to be a good thing from a good God.

Tuesday's Task

Our apologies for not getting anything posted yesterday. We were busy "purging" out "stuff" at our house. By the time we were finished for the night, the blogs had to go undone. Today we are reposting a shortened version of Decorating on the "Cheep" from the previous Fabulous Friday. Some of the easiest and most economical decorating for Spring is provided by our feathered friends, the birds. Discoveries produced by a later winter/early spring walk help us create an atmosphere of timeless elegance within our homes. The exercise can't hurt us either. While strolling through the yard, be on the lookout for abandoned nests from last season. Feathers can also be used as accents here and there so gather them as well. After returning from the walk, place the nests and feathers in a plastic bag, one of those many, many plastic bags that accumulate will be perfect for this. Place the bag in the freezer for at least two weeks. Freezing the nests and feathers will eliminate any pests that may be hiding inside. Once the natural treasures have gotten the cold treatment, they can be placed anywhere a little touch of spring is needed. They can also be embellished in any way desired. What a treat for the eyes to spy a nest peeking out of the branches of a houseplant. When placed atop a cake pedestal and covered with a clear dome, the humble bird's nest takes on a simple elegance. Not only does the nest provide us with springtime embellishments for our home, but eggs do too. Whether you pick up a 25 cent package of very real looking artificial eggs or blow out eggs from the grocery store, nothing says spring quite like an egg. One hint to remember if blowing the inside of the egg out is to make sure that you rinse/wash out the inside of the remaining shell well. Otherwise a most unpleasant odor can occur. If the pastel colors of spring beckon, try coloring the egg before blowing it out. Food coloring can be used and most boxes have the recipe on the back. To achieve a more natural look, try dying white eggs in tea or coffee. The speckles that occur in some eggs can be achieved by spattering a dyed egg with a toothbrush dipped in furniture stain. A wire basket of eggs sitting in just the right place might be almost perfect. Another inexpensive decoration that shouts: "Spring is here!" is grass. Yes, grass, real live growing grass. This is so much fun, yet it can also be very contemporary and uptown. It all depends on the style of container chosen to grow the grass in. Choose a container, line it with plastic, place large pebbles in the bottom, top with potting soil, sprinkle on the grass seeds, and lightly water. In a few days grass will be seen peeking out. How cute would some eggs look hiding in the grass? The grass is living so it will require some watering and may need an occasional trim. Once the grass has outgrown its container, it can be transplanted outside. Children love helping with this project, especially the trimming part. All of the ideas contained in this post are just jumping off points for your own imagination and creativity. No one else knows the individual style of your home as well as you. The reason that we love these ideas so much is because they are some of the most versatile we have found. Anyone can take these ideas and adapt them to fit their own situation and space. For instance, a primitive wooden cheese box of grass would be right at home in a country kitchen. Take that same grass idea, use a sleek, contemporary metal container and presto! an entirely different look for the same idea. Maybe you don't have the room or longing for more "things to sit around". Springtime decorating is still an option. Raid your stash of picture frames. You do have a stash, don't you? Find some patterned paper or fabric that you enjoy and adhere some feathers to it. Slip the paper/fabric into the frame for almost instant artwork. Another picture option would be to create a silhouette of a springtime object on a solid paper that complements the background paper/fabric. Adhere the silhouette to the background and then slip inside the frame of choice. Or...when you are out scavenging through garage sales and second hand shops, keep an eye out for older bird books. Often these books will contain pictures of birds or plants that are very nice. After making sure the book isn't a rare edition, gently remove the chosen pictures using a straightedge and craft knife. Inserted in a frame, these book pages create beautiful art. A feather inserted along the side or bottom between the matting and glass provide an added bit of texture and interest as well. The cozy, snuggly days of winter have almost passed. Spring's crisp, freshness is about to waft its way here. Let's allow some of that freshness to sweep through our homes. Spreading the newness of spring throughout our spaces will help waken our senses from their winter slumber. Having our senses refreshed, we will be more prepared for summer's warmth and work. Springs colors will remind us of the flowers that will soon grow and open. I can almost smell their aroma. Can you? Until tomorrow...Blessed Mama

3.06.2010

A Late Winter Afternoon

Good Afternoon. Welcome to the first absolutely free Saturday afternoon that Blessed Mama has experienced in a very long while. The seed catalogs and several articles I've been waiting to read are beckoning to me. Yet it's been so long since we visited that I had to drop by for at least a little bit. I would like to spend a few moments in prayer together. This afternoon finds me praying the Word of God for you. The verses we will be praying over each other come from the book of Colossians the first chapter.

"To the saints (the consecrated people of God) and believing and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace (spiritual favor and blessing) to you and [heart] peace from God our Father. We continually give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), as we are praying for you, For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus [the leaning of your entire human personality on Him in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness] and of the love which you [have and show] for all the saints (God's consecrated ones), Because of the hope [of experiencing what is] laid up (reserved and waiting) for you in heaven. Of this [hope] you heard in the past in the message of the truth of the Gospel, which has come to you. Indeed, in the whole world [that Gospel] is bearing fruit and still is growing [by its own inherent power], even as it has done among yourselves ever since the day you first heard and came to know and understand the grace of God in truth. [You came to know the grace of undeserved favor of God in reality, deeply and clearly and thoroughly, becoming accurately and intimately acquainted with it.] ...9For this reason we also, from the day we heard of it, have not ceased to pray and make [special] request for you, [asking] that you may be filled with the full (deep and clear) knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom [in comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God] and in understanding and discernment of spiritual things-- that you may walk (live and conduct yourselves) in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and desiring to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God [with fuller, deeper, and clearer insight, acquaintance, and recognition]. [We pray] that you may be invigorated and strengtheed with all power according to the might of His glory, [to exercise] every kind of endurance and patience (perserverance and forbearance) with joy, giving thanks to the Father, Who has qualified and made us fit to share the portion which is the inheritance of the saints (God's holy people) in the Light. [The Father] has delivered and drawn us to Himself out of the control and the dominion of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in Whom we have our redemption through His blood, [which means] the forgiveness of our sins."

Chapter 2:1-2 "For I want you to know how great is my solicitude for you [how severe an inward struggle I am engaged in for you] and for those [believers] at Laodicea, and for all who [like yourselves] have never seen my face and known me personally. [For my concern is] that their hearts may be braced (comforted, cheered, and encouraged) as they are knit together in love, that they may come to have all the abounding wealth and blessings of assured conviction of understanding, and that they may become progressively more intimately acquainted with and may know more definitely and accurately and thoroughly that mystic secret of God [which is] Christ (the Anointed One)."

In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord I pray this,
Amen

Have you ever prayed the Word of God before? This portion of the Holy Scripture is one that I often pray over loved ones. As I lift those I love and care for in prayer, I substitute their name in place of the word "you" throughout these sections of Scripture. I will use the last part of the ending verses as an example "Heavenly Father, my concern is that "so and so's" hearts may be braced (comforted, cheered, and encouraged) as they are knit together in love, that "so and so" may come to have all the abounding wealth and blessings of assured conviction of understanding, ..." Praying for someone draws us close to them in our hearts and unexplainably knits our lives together. When I use the Word of God as a base, I can rest assured that the prayers offered are not offered amiss. My own opinion and human viewpoint can't get in the way when I am praying God's perfect Word. It makes me think of a line from an old commercial "When you care enough to send the very best..." The very best is definitely God's Word. Jesus is the Word and He is who God sent to save all of mankind. We'll never go wrong when we're grounded in the Word. Until later, Blessed Mama

Unwanted Advertisements

Yesterday, Living Large on Less was plagued with unwanted advertisements. We are unsure as to their origin. They were most unwanted we assure you. Should this continue, the blog will relocate. Thank you for your patience and understanding. We truly regret the inconvenience and annoyance these ads created. The We Are Living Large on Less Posters

3.04.2010

Make Your Own

Today's Thrifty Tip finds us in the food arena once more. With the price of groceries rising higher and higher, who among us can't stand to save a little? While not every one cooks strictly from scratch, even choosing to make once convenience food from scratch can rack in the savings. Not only are prepackaged mixes and foods more expensive, they often contain additives and preservatives that are far from healthy. Creating our own foods enables us to have complete control over the quality of ingredients with which we feed our families. At our house, we have found that stirring up our own mixes, seasonings, and beverage mixes is so much fun that we really don't care if it saves money or not. It's no longer thrift. It's fun! To get started on this thrifty fun, assess the food products you use most often. Perhaps you use one particular seasoning more than any of the rest. Or maybe there is a quick bread mix that your pantry just can't be without. Whatever that "must have" item is, begin there. Once you have chosen the item to create, head to the search engine of choice and type in "recipe for __________. " It's that simple. All that is left is to choose which recipe you wish to try, obtain the ingredients, and stir it up. Some seasonings, such as Italian Seasoning, have a multitude of differing recipes. Try a couple and see how closely they come to what you prefer. Then, tweak the ingredients and amounts to suit your preference. Beverage mixes are one of my personal favorites. However, there are literally thousands of recipes online for virtually everything. I mean everything, envelope glue anyone? Speaking of envelope glue, making your own products from scratch need not be limited to the kitchen and pantry. Whether it's seasonings, beverage mixes, cake mixes, diapers, or feminine hygience products, there are recipes and/or patterns for just about any item a homemaker could want, some you may not want too:) Making only one item can save hundreds of dollars each year and possibly provide health benefits besides. Homemade items also provide you with economical gifts that are easily personalized. Who doesn't feel completely pampered upon receiving a gift that was custom made just for them? Making your own products can be addictive so don't be surprised if you can't stop at just one. Blessed Mama

3.03.2010

"Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call." Acts 2:38-39

Repent. It's a word we don't often dwell on. Maybe because we think we've already taken care of it. But what does it really mean? The Amplified Bible gives the added definition of (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) Hmmm, have I changed my views and purpose to accept the will of God in my inner self? Not in every thing. As I ponder on this, I have come to realize that there are still areas where true repentance is needed.

Thank You, Heavenly Father, for Your Word. It is alive and active. Once more it has exposed, sifted, analyzed, and judged the very thoughts and purposes of my heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

3.02.2010

LAUNDRY - MAKE YOUR OWN DETERGENT

Laundry, it's a never ending task.  Whether the laundry pile at your house is of mountainous proportions or a small amount, the price of laundry detergent, stain remover, and softener can really add up.  Sometime during the past year we were introduced to the idea of making our own laundry detergent. 

At first, we were more than a little hesistant.  After all, this wasn't something we had ever considered before.  However, after spending time searching this topic online, we discovered that making your own laundry detergent really isn't as "out there" as we originally thought.  Many people make their own and have been doing so for a long time. 

Several recipes were experimented with before settling on one that works best for our family and water hardness.  We will share our recipe with you, but you may want to google homemade laundry detergent and try some of the other versions to find one that suits your home best. 

HOMEMADE LAUNDRY DETERGENT
2C. Borax
2C. Washing Soda (NOT BAKING SODA)
1 bar finely grated Castile Soap (Ex. Fels Naptha, Zote, Kirk's)
     - HINT: soap grates easier if opened and allowed to dry for several days first.  The longer the drying        time, the easier the grating process will be. 

Mix ingredients together and use 2 T. per load.  If you have an extra large capacity machine, more may be needed. 

Now for the cost comparison.  When compared to the largest available box of commercial powdered detergent at $17-21, the detergent we made at home cost approx. $6-7 for the same amount of loads.  That has provided a savings of $22-23 a month--just in laundry detergent. 

We have also been able to save each month by using alternative stain removers.  For non-oil based stains, a gently washing with regular soap, a rinse, and soak in the sink have been sufficient.  Oil-based stains such as shop grease and cooking oil splatters have come out beautifully by rubbing in Dawn dish detergent.  Actually, they have come out much better than when using a commercial stain remover, especially the cooking oil.  Probably any dish detergent would work as well.  The articles we have read tended to mention Dawn the most so that is what we have used.  Less expensive dish soaps may work wonderfully.  We have used Ivory brand dish soap with great success as well. 

Fabric softener hasn't been left out either.  This one is so simple a person wonders why they didn't think of it themselves.  White distilled vinegar.  That's right, vinegar.  Just add it to the rinse cycle exactly like you would commercial softener.  No, your clothes do NOT smell like vinegar.  Vinegar's distinctive odor evaporates just as it does when used as a cleaner in other applications.  If you find that a pleasant scent is essential to your laundering process, a few drops of essential oil can be added to either the detergent mixture or the vinegar.  One of the best things about using vinegar, besides the amazing savings, is that vinegar is also a fungicide.  Not to mention that it is unsurpassed at eliminating soap residue.  For those whose laundry includes baby clothes and/or cloth diapers, vinegar is a perfect choice to soften the laundry. 

Viola!  The laundry has been washed and softened naturally, without chemicals and harsh additives.  PLUS tremendous financial savings have been accomplished.  Now, we get to experience one of the richest treasures of homemaking bliss, hanging clothes out on the clothesline.  If this is something you've never had the privilege of experiencing, then by all means, don't miss out any longer.  Not only will hanging out the laundry save electricity and therefore money, it also provides a busy homemaker with a few moments of uninterrupted (unless you have small children and pets) peace.  When you lay your head on those fresh smelling sheets at night, you will be glad that you took the time to hang the laundry out.  Nothing else is quite like it.  Hey, it could even count as "activity" aka exercise. 

Need a thrifty use for dryer lint?  Check out our new Woodstove page and find out an actual use for the stuff.  Until tomorrow...Blessed Mama

3.01.2010

The Word Emulate

One week ago today we celebrated the life of my Grandma.  The minister who conducted the service used a term that I don't often hear.  He said that it was now the responsibility of the children and grandchildren to "emulate" the way she lived her life.  Ever since the funeral service, I have been wanting to look up that word. I immediately wanted to get into the thesaurus and dig around a little in order to discover the full meaning of the word.

Here is what I've found.  According to the American Dictionary of the English Language by Noah Webster 1828, EMULATE  "1. To strive to equal or excel, in qualities or actions; to imitate, with a view to equal or excel; to vie with; to rival. Learn early to emulate the good and the great. Emulate the virtues and shun the vices of distinguished men.
3. To imitate; to resemble."

EMULATION
"2. An ardor kindled by the praise-worthy examples of others, inciting to imitate them,..."

Emulate isn't a word I often hear used.  After searching the matter out further, I find that I do indeed long to emulate my grandmother.  She lived life to the fullest in many, many ways.  As much as I desire to emulate my grandmother, however, I'm discovering that I long to emulate God my Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit even more.  James 1:17 says that every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 

Grandma was a gift to me, a gift from God.  She loved life, laughter, music, and children.  Her paintings and quilts are true works of art.  As beautiful as the paintings and quilts that Grandma created are, I have to say that I think her true masterpieces are found in her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  Priceless treasures abound through the lives of those she nurtured and touched.  The most beautiful music revealed in the joyful laughter they share. 

Thankfulness to God for allowing me the distinct privilege of being born into the family He placed me in overflows as I contemplate all of the beauty He has enriched my life with.  In His infinite wisdom, The Father placed within my heart a love of all things beautiful and a great desire to create a place of beauty and quiet rest for those I love just like He does for His loved ones.  Then He placed me exactly where this longing desire would be nurtured and developed so that I could fulfill His ultimate purpose for my life.  Amazing, that's all I can say. It's amazing  how the One, True, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Eternal Creator of the Universe puts so much care and time into every, single minute detail of His creation's lives.  How He places a man and woman together knowing that they will produce offspring who will be joined by others who will continue to produce offspring with His exact characteristics needed to fulfill His divine purpose.  Not only this, but that His purpose is always, totally for our ultimate good.  Amazing. 

The day after my grandmother's funeral was my beloved's and my wedding anniversary.  The longer my beloved and I are together, the more clearly I see that we are indeed created specifically for each other.  That we are a "perfect fit".  Yes, this "perfect fit" can sometimes be more painful than sheer bliss when either one of us looses focus, but nevertheless, we are literally "made for each other".   It truly doesn't matter if the season of our marital union is the freezing chill of winter or the balmy sunshine of summer.  Whatever the season, we are destined to be together.  In a world that so rarely celebrates the traditional marriage of one man and one woman, forever, until death us do part, a couple could easily miss out on the potential healing and comfort available in a Godly union. 

In a few months, I will have been with my husband the same amount of time I spent in the home of my father and mother.  That is a sobering thought to me, all of those years.  The sad thing is that I am able to see so clearly all of the opportunities for love I missed.  Sadder still are those times when I turned my back and refused God's way of love choosing to follow my own selfish path instead.  So many hours, minutes, months, and years that I have wasted on myself when I could have been experiencing heaven on earth with my beloved.  At our house we have felt impressed that 2010 is to be a new year for us, a year of complete turn around and breakthrough.  There is a surging in our breasts that this is "the year" we have been waiting for so long.  This is the place we have been diligently and faithfully striving towards.  For me personally, this is when I die to myself and my way and learn what it means to live completely in the fullness of the way of the Lord.  This is the time for me to lay down my own desires and seek instead to fulfill those of my Heavenly Father.  He gave His all for me.  I will, I must give my all for Him.  It is a year to walk more closely to Him than I ever dreamt possible.  This is the season when I will learn what He wants me to learn and become what He longs for me to become. 

What time is it?  It is NOW!  It is a NOW time, with a NOW word, and a NOW season. 
No
Other
Way
There truly is no other way than the Lord's that will work.  His way, His methods, His plans, His purposes, His intentions, His provision, His comfort, His Love, only His will do.  Any attempt that I may make on my own will miserably fail.  It just won't work without Him.  The time for casual church attendance and socializing Bible Study get togethers is past.  It is a NOW time for me to walk in the fullness of the Holy Spirit with His power and might.  The signs that follow them that believe will follow me.  The scriptures that describe the behavior of followers of Christ, must describe me.  This is no time for fear or lazy slothfulness.  This is the time for right NOW.  This time that God has been preparing me for my entire life is, you guessed it, NOW. 

The urgency is so strong inside of me.  Every day, every night, I sit and marvel at all God is revealing and showing to me.  Those things that used to confuse me He explains clearly.  Habits and behaviors I have struggled with for years are being explained so that I can repent.  In prayer, I asked the Lord to teach me, to show me, to reveal myself to me so that I could repent.  He is, and I am ever so glad for it. 

I long to emulate Him.  He is loving, kind, strong, just, and perfect.  The parenting skills I need, He is. Those communication skills I lack, He is.  When I don't understand my beloved, He is.  When I have been hurt, He is.  When I am confused, He is.  When I am alone, He is.  When a friend's touch is absent, He is. When laughter is gone, He is.  When there is great joy, He is.  When the sun shines, He is. When the sky is dark, He is.  When the pantry is full, He is. When it is empty, He is.  He is ever present, all knowing, all powerful, eternal. He is.  He always has been. He always will be.  If I'm lost, He is the way.  When lies abound, He is the truth.  When all seems dead, He is the life. He is. What about when I mess up? He is.  When I'm not perfect, He is.  Yes, He is.  He is exactly what I need, what I want, and what I will need and want tomorrow.   And HE LOVES ME.  "Hallelujah what a thought Jesus' full salvation brought!"

Emulate - to imitate.  Yes, I long to emulate everything about Him for there is no other way. 

We're Back With Monday's Munchies!

Today's Monday Munchy recipe is one of our very favorites. Not only is it absolutely yummy, it is one of the most economical too. Can't beat a combination like that, now can you? As with most of our recipes, today's can be adapted to suit your family's personal taste. We hope that you enjoy today's Munchy and the savings that accompany it. HOMEMADE REFRIED BEANS One of the best things about this recipe is that you can use any variety of bean. So choose the bean that you enjoy most or currently have on hand. Drain the beans, place desired amount in hot skillet which has 2-3 T. of bacon grease melted in it. Stir the beans around until they have warmed through and then begin mashing them. Once the beans have reached the desired consistency, begin to stir in shredded cheddar cheese to taste. Other flavors of cheese can be used. Make sure to stir the beans often, if not constantly, as both the beans and cheese have a tendency to stick if left unattended. The temperature of the burner will need to be adjusted so that the beans don't scorch. Salt to taste. While the bacon grease isn't essential, it is just so yummy that we feel like we "have" to have it in there. Likewise, the cheese isn't a necessity. So if you find yourself without either of those ingredients, don't think that you can't have refried beans. Basically, all that is absolutely necessary is cooked beans and some type of fat to keep them from sticking uncontrollably to the skillet. Cilantro, salsa, any seasoning that your family likes could be added. This recipe is extremely easy to personalize. Taking less than 15 minutes from start to finish, refried beans are perfect to use in tortillas with salsa and other toppings as a quick and easy meal. They are also wonderful as a protein rich afternoon snack when served with toasted pita chips or homemade tortilla chips. Refried Beans can be used for more than just tacos or dip. Spread on an uncooked pizza crust instead of tomato sauce, topped with cheese and/or salsa, and baked as a traditional pizza, a scrumptious taco pizza is born. Another option is to make a Mexican roll-up by spreading the bean mixture over rolled out dough, sprinkling with cheese and other toppings, rolling the dough up tight, sealing the edges and baking. When mixed with ground beef in a one to one ratio, the beans can also make the meat stretch farther in any Mexican style dish. I'm sure there are many other ways to utilize this recipe. Using our imaginations is part of what makes cooking so much fun. This recipe can be made even more economically by cooking dried beans yourself rather than using canned beans. However, if you need to economize on time, you may want to stick with the canned variety. Though one of the cooking methods we will mention saves time as well as money. COOKING DRIED BEANS: Using a ration of 2C. beans to 6C. water, measure out the amount of dried beans needed. Sort through the beans discarding any that are shriveled, black, or broken up. Once sorted, rinse the beans. Here is where the recipe divides into two options. Option 1: place water and beans in crockpot. Place on low setting and allow to cook overnight or during the day. After approx. nine hours (this will depend on each individual crockpot) the beans will be done and ready to use however you wish. Option 2: place beans and water in stock pot. Allow to soak overnight. In morning, drain beans and replace water with fresh clean water (this is said to decrease the gas effect on those later consuming the beans). Set beans on to cook. Bring to boil and cook for one minute. Lower temperature to a simmer and cook approx. 2 hours. The beans will need to be stirred periodically. Each range is unique. Therefore, be sure to check the beans after 1 1/2 hours just in case they have cooked quicker than expected. The beans will be very bland as they haven't been seasoned. If you were cooking the beans to use in a ham and bean type soup, then you would add the ham, bone, and seasonings when you lowered the temp. to a simmer. Our seasonings of choice are a hambone, some salt, bit of pepper, and some onions or onion powder. This is the perfect soup to sneak in some veggies with grated carrots and minced celery. It probably is considered to be cooked incorrectly, but I personally love to let it simmer until the beans begin to be mushy. It thickens up the soup and turns it into bowls of pure, delicious comfort. If you are making ham and beans, don't forget the cornbread. To me, it's an essential part of the meal. However, there are many ways of eating ham and beans. Some prefer it served over mashed potatoes. I've tried it, and it is a whole other level of comfort food. Good eating. While others, lace their beans with vinegar or ketchup. That, I have yet to try. No matter how you cook them or which recipe you use them in once they are cooked, homemade refried beans are extremely economical, nutritious, and tasty. When paired with rice, beans provide a complete protein. So cook up some beans and enjoy.