7.30.2010

Send the Laborers

This morning I read an email that has caught at my heart and won't let me go.  The email contained a prophetic message from someone whose name I can't remember, but the message I can't forget. 
In the message, the author shares a vision, or was it a dream, that he had been given.  In this vision or dream, there was a field.  The field was filled with a harvest that was ripe and ready for harvesting.  As the man stepped into the field a noise of crying and weeping could be heard.  It was the harvest.  It was crying out to be harvested and no one was harvesting it.  The harvest was dying even as it longed to be gathered in.  Further on in the field, there was a river.  In and around this river people of all ages were splashing and swimming.  Some were simply standing there staring into it, but none of them could hear the man crying out to them about the harvest.  They couldn't see or hear his cries.  All they focused on was the pleasant wonderfulness of the river.  While all around them, there was an abundant harvest dying.  Parts of the field had been carefully tended.  The majority, however, hadn't been cared for.  In the midst of the field were stones, headstones with dates of harvests that had passed by without being harvested.  Portions of the field had been harvested.  Various areas were harvested with neatly tied sheaves of grain.  In these sections were stones with the names of saints who had been faithful and diligent to bring in a harvest of souls during their lives.  Saints such as Corrie Ten Boom, Dwight L. Moody, and still others whose names were unknown.  Yet so much of the harvest remained ungathered, dying in the field.  There was a worker in the field.  It was Jesus.  He was working faithfully in the field.  Yet so many people were at the river. 
As I read the email's message, I began to weep and pray.  How often do I, like the people at the river, eagerly seek out and search for the refreshing river of the Lord while giving no thought to the harvest all around me?  Please don't misunderstand, I have a longing and a hunger for others to come to Jesus.  I long for the harvest to be gathered in.  Yet, do I have a complete understanding or grasp of what this means?  I think not.  Coming from a long line of farmers, I know full well of harvest's hard work, long hours, and never-ending busyness.  In spite of all my head understands, my heart hasn't even begun to comprehend the severity of the situation.  I grieve over a farmer's lost crops in the physical, but what about my Heavenly Father's field of souls?  Should not my grief for lost souls far exceed an earthly loss? 
Dear Lord, forgive me for being blinded and caught up in my own understanding rather than allowing you to give me yours.  I pray the Lord of the harvest would send forth the laborers.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

MERRY CHRISTMAS IN JULY

ONE AND A HALF DAYS LEFT IN JULY!!!  We'll have to hurry to begin preparing for Christmas in July, but it can be done, if only in small, baby steps.  Every preparation taken care of now if one less thing to stress about later. Need a few suggestions to get your Christmas motor going?  That's exactly what we at Living Large have for you on this Fabulous Friday. 
  • If the holidays aren't going to be as "extravagant" as those gone by, begin now to open your eyes to new possibilities.  Different need not be "less". 
  • Create a Gift Plan.  Make a list of everyone you wish to bless this season and what you plan to bless them with.  Watch end of season sales.  The gift plan can be modified to accomodate sales.  Practicing this type of modification could mean the difference between giving or not giving gifts.
  • Take advantage of end of summer sales.  Many back to school supplies, which are currently on sale, can be used for crafting.  Now is the time to stock up.  Have a crafter on your gift list? Grab some extra supplies to fill a crafter's gift basket for Christmas.
  • Begin creating homemade gifts now.  Not only does this eliminate future stress, it also gives the gift of extra time in the event something doesn't go together as quickly as anticipated.
  • Sign and address Christmas cards.
  • Plan menus.  This will enable you to take advantage of sales on ingredients between now and then.
  • Look around at what is available rather than at what isn't.  Can anything already in your possession be utilized in a fresh, new way?  Perhaps...a change of pace will open the door to new traditions and celebrations.  Most likely, the new methods of celebrating will be more meaningful than those of the past.  
  • Even if resources are abundant this year, try skimming off some of the excess "stuff" from this year's celebrations.  Somehow, eliminating unnecessary clutter and removing the "fluff" looses a liberating freedom as we are able, often for the first time, to clearly see and experience what's really real. (For further insight read The Velveteen Rabbit)  
Having a plan and planning ahead helps make Living Large on Less a reality in all our lives.  So, MERRY CHRISTMAS IN JULY & all the year through!!!  God sent His Son as a gift for me & you!!! 
     

7.20.2010

Summer As I See It

Not of This World is blessing us with a few photographs of summer.  Take a moment, browse through, and heave a large sigh as stresses are released.  Ahhhhh, the relaxation of summer.

grasshopper in hiding

 
 
Cherries waiting to be picked
&
Dragon pausing for a moment
 Photographs by Not of This World

A June Rose Bud

 
Be blessed by these photographs from Not Of This World.  "Summer As I See It" Not of this World

A Summer Storm

 photograph by Not of This World

Summer As I See It

Summer time at our house!
Photo by Not of This World
A red dragon fly taking a moment to rest.
Photo by Not of This World
A summer storm.
Photo by Not of This World
A June rosebud.
Photo by Not of This World
Cherries that were soon to be picked.

Photo by Not of This World
This grasshopper was enjoying the shade this tiger lily provided.

7.15.2010

Lessons From Long Ago

While writing a post about canning for another blog, my mind was taken to kitchens of long ago.  Those dear, homey places where family gathered and more than bodies were fed.  Off on a romantic meandering the roads of my mind took me.  Then, BAM!  REALITY CHECK!  Were those kitchens of long ago REALLY that wonderful?  Were grandmothers of grandmothers of grandmothers always sweet, kind, and gentle?  OR were they women just like me? Women who loved, lived, and laughed yet also cried, hurt, and spat.  Did their children rise and call them blessed every day or some days did they fight and fuss and throw the cat on each other just like mine?  How could those women have passed on so many helpful hints and advice if they hadn't first lived a life where such information was put to use? 
 
As I sit here and ponder I'm brought to my favorite spot to be, on The Father's knee.  Here I sit asking Him all that is in my heart to know, and here He holds me, strokes my hair, as the answers inside me begin to grow.  He allows me to remember, to consider, to recall the truths that He has taught me since I was very small.  Those dear, loving grandmothers who stirred their pots and canned, were women just as I am.  They could not have loved others without first loving their Heavenly Father.  As it was then, so it is now.  Some mothers smile and some mothers growl.  Then there are others, those a lot like me, who both growl and smile as they care for their family.  They were learning, and so am I of the Father's loving care.  How He gently leads and guides us on through storms and sunshine fair. (Isaiah 40:11)  If to my eyes they seem so great there's only one thing it could be.  When I'm looking at those sweet, dear Grandmas, it's the Father's love I see. 
 
For some canning is an art.  To others it is a science.  For me, it's an extension of God's heart as I learn of His love and apply it.  No matter what each day may hold as I walk out the destiny He made for me, if I remain in Him, He abides in me.(John 15:4)  My needs, He will supply them.(Philippians 4:19)  Someday, should the Lord tary, when other young women look back in time and see me in the kitchen, I can only pray instead of me they see the Father and know as He loved me, He'll still love them. (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8) Their needs He will supply. (Philippians 4:19)  As long as they trust in Jesus, they'll have love to share, love to give to others all around.  When Jesus is home there's no cause for alarm, no reason for a frown.  So, were those grandmothers perfect?  Were their kitchens really so dear?  If Jesus was there and shone His love through, then yes, their memories are sweet.  The rest?  Well, sometimes, the imagination likes to go down it's own little street :)
 
John 15:4-12
Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me.
 I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing. If a person does not dwell in Me, he is thrown out like a [broken-off] branch, and withers; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and they are burned. If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. When you bear (produce) much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine. I have loved you, [just] as the Father has loved Me; abide in My love [continue in His love with Me]. If you keep My commandments [if you continue to obey My instructions], you will abide in My love and live on in it, just as I have obeyed My Father's commandments and live on in His love. I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing. This is My commandment: that you love one another [just] as I have loved you.
 


  

Canning, looking beyond the obvious

With practices of thrift and economy surging, canning has taken on new life. Websites, blogs, magazines, advertisements are all sharing the benefits and romance of canning. Information and resources abound both online and in print. After reading through numerous articles, we have come to the conclusion that there really isn't anything more to say. So, why waste an entire day's post talking about something we have nothing more to say on? Good question. Living Large on Less is about ways a life of abundance can be lived while using less financial resources. Canning is one of those ways. How-to instructions are available in many different places. The Ball Blue Book of Canning is an excellent resource. My copy is becoming quite worn. Local extension agencies will have information available as well. Our state's extension agency has quite a bit available online. Magazine articles abound with links and references to more information as do books. Those who don't know where to begin can google in the topic and go from there. Not wanting to get stuck in the mechanics of canning, I am going to mention a benefit other than the obvious ones of financial savings and superior nutritional value. Home-canned foods of any kind make exceptional gifts. Just today I saw an idea of taking a couple jars of jelly, placing some scones with them, and tying them all up together in clear cellophane gift wrap for a pretty, little gift. The brilliance of the jellies' colors and the beauty of the scones lent a warmth to the gift that no store bought purchase ever could. Picture a beautiful yet sturdy basket lined with a gorgeous piece of cloth or napkin and filled with jars of home-canned vegetables. Could anything say "Home" more than that? Better still, place a jar of home-canned soup, a loaf of homemade artisan bread, and a favorite tea into a gift container of choice. Receiving a present with so many expressions of heartfelt concern cuddled up together would make anyone feel better. Teachers, mail carriers, hairdressers, loved ones, friends, and neighbors alike would bask in a gift of home-canned love. Know a family who has added a new little one recently? What a blessing a basket of canned soup and/or pasta sauce would be. When images of canning enter your mind, embrace the obvious joys and benefits, but don't stop there. Allow yourself the luxury of imagining even greater possibilities such as gift-giving. Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers before them engaged in this age old practice of food preservation, but was it all about the savings? I can't help but think our grandmothers knew something most of us have yet to learn. If we could visit the kitchens of our loved ones from long ago and ask them, we might be surprised to learn not of the work, sweat, and labor of canning alone. Tales of joy at being able to bless a new bride or help a sick neighbor could be the words they would share. Economy, Joy, and Love---and the greatest of these is Love. Living Large on Less in Love, Blessed Mama

7.14.2010

Wonderful Wednesday

Good Morning!   The longer we blog, the more changes we notice are occasionally needed.  When these changes are made, we hope that they are simple and painless.  Most importantly though we want them to be enjoyable to you, the reader. 
In order for us to know what about our blog readers most enjoy, we are going to need a little bit of help from them.  Now don't get nervous.  We aren't going to ask much of you.  It's really quick and painless, honest.  All we're asking is that you send us a quick email or comment letting us know what your favorite types of post are and/or any topics you would enjoy seeing in the future. 
An email address for you to use will be posted later today.  That gives everyone time to think for awhile.  Thank you so much for helping us serve our readers better.    The Living Large on Less Family

Here is a poem to give you a hint on tomorrow's topic~Enjoy!

 CANNING TIME
~Edgar A. Guest

There’s a wondrous smell of spices,
In the kitchen, most bewitchin’;
There are fruits cut into slices
That just set the palate itchin’
There’s the sound of spoon on platter
And the rattle and the clatter;
And a bunch of kids are hastin’
To the splendid joy of tastin’:
It’s the fragrant time of year
When fruit-cannin’ days are here.
There’s a good wife gayly smilin’
And perspirin’ some, and tirin’;
And while jar on jar she’s pilin’
And the necks o’ them she’s wirin’
I’m a-sittin’ here an’ dreamin’
Of the kettles that are steamin’,
And the cares that have been troublin’
All have vanished in the bubblin’.
I am happy that I’m here
At the cannin’ time of year.
Lord, I’m sorry for the feller
That is missin’ all the hissin’
Of the juices, red and yeller,
And can never sit and listen
To the rattle and the clatter
Of the sound of spoon on platter.
I am sorry for the single,
For they miss the thrill and tingle
Of the splendid time of year
When the cannin’ days are here.

Poetry to Bless

Poetry is a relatively new interest I've discovered.  Even though I wrote more than my share of ditties when making cards growing up, poetry isn't something that ever appealled to me as a young girl.   As an adult, however, I am enjoying a wide variety of verse on a fairly regular basis.  Isn't it amazing how God puts so many seeds of interest in us?  Some of these seeds sprout and grow right from the very beginning while others slowly take root, quietly spring up, and take a lifetime to develop.  Isn't God good?  He is revealing new things that He has put in me every day.  What a wondrous gift it is to belong to Him and to be in His loving care. 

Please enjoy the following poems by Edgar A. Guest with me.  The first poem encourages us to enjoy Life fully, right now.  Poem number two is "just for fun".  It tells of "cannin' time".  Oh, how it made me want to get out the canner and jars, already.  As I read the lines of this poem, I was reminded that maintaining our garden is worth all of the time and sweat.  Winter's cold winds will be tempered with the warmth of food lovingly prepared during late summer's "cannin' time".  Edgar Guest perfectly describes the sights, sounds, and smells I remember in the kitchen of my childhood.  Even though helping my mother can wasn't something I regularly participated in, the smells and sounds still fill my memory.   Let's share a prayer for those dear poets who inspire, encourage, and entertain us with their writings.  I can't begin to tell how many times I have been guided and comforted by the lines of a poem; more often than any sermon I know.  And I've been blessed to hear many marvelous, annointed messages.  There's just something powerful about poetry.  It's like sitting by a bubbling brook and listening to the water flowing by.  As the words of my favorite poems flow through my mind, my body begins to relax just as it does when listening to the waters in a stream or brook.  God bless the godly poet.

Thank You, Lord for men and women who take up their pen and verses write~Their words inspire us and give us insight~into treasures of life~what is holy and right~We are blessed by their sharing, their penning, their telling~As we read, we are touched by the scenes that they share~We are moved by the truths and the depth of Your care~Thank You Lord for the poet, may they know more of You~as You lead them and guide them while they tell us of You.
Blessed Mama

Life

                                                        Life is a gift to be used every day,
Not to be smothered and hidden away;
Isn’t a thing to be stored in the chest
Where you gather your keepsakes and treasure your best;
Isn’t a joy to be sipped now and then
And promptly put back in a dark place again.
Life is a gift that the humblest may boast of
And one that the humblest may well make the most of.
Get out and live it each hour of the day,
Wear it and use it as much as you may;
Don’t keep it in niches and corners and grooves,
You’ll find that in service its beauty improves.
~Edgar Guest

 
CANNING TIME
~Edgar A. Guest
There’s a wondrous smell of spices,
In the kitchen, most bewitchin’;
There are fruits cut into slices
That just set the palate itchin’
There’s the sound of spoon on platter
And the rattle and the clatter;
And a bunch of kids are hastin’
To the splendid joy of tastin’:
It’s the fragrant time of year
When fruit-cannin’ days are here.
There’s a good wife gayly smilin’
And perspirin’ some, and tirin’;
And while jar on jar she’s pilin’
And the necks o’ them she’s wirin’
I’m a-sittin’ here an’ dreamin’
Of the kettles that are steamin’,
And the cares that have been troublin’
All have vanished in the bubblin’.
I am happy that I’m here
At the cannin’ time of year.
Lord, I’m sorry for the feller
That is missin’ all the hissin’
Of the juices, red and yeller,
And can never sit and listen
To the rattle and the clatter
Of the sound of spoon on platter.
I am sorry for the single,
For they miss the thrill and tingle
Of the splendid time of year
When the cannin’ days are here.

7.13.2010

Free Blog Preview

Thanks to a "mistake" while posting, Living Large on Less readers are receiving a FREE preview from A Mother's Rewards our sister blog.  We hope that you enjoy the extra posting and will join us at A Mother's Rewards often.  Today's normal posting is right below our unexpected extra.  Thank you for your patience and understanding. 

Summer Blessings

My three-year-old just came inside with a fuzzy caterpillar on a stick. She wanted her older sister to take some pictures of it for her. She hadn't ever seen one like it before. Does anyone enjoy summer more than a child? OK, well, maybe I do. As long as I can remember I have spent my entire year waiting for summer, and then spent my summer hoping and praying it lasts as long as possible. Summer is without a doubt my favorite season. Oh, please don't misunderstand, I thoroughly enjoy every season and appreciate the variety each one brings. But summer...there's just something about summer that makes me come alive. There's something about it that makes me smile. What is there about this season of heat that brings such delight? I'm not really sure. Don't ask me to tell you why though. Once started, the list goes on and on and you get the idea. Is it the green growth all around me? the garden? the sound of the sprinkler? clothes snapping on the line? children laughing? Popsicles dripping down the chin? corn on the cob? hamburgers on the grill? sun on the skin? swimming? reading books? birds singing? bugs buzzing? flowers blooming? yes, yes, and yes! It is all of that and more. It's fireflies and fishing, picnics and camping. It's hoeing in the garden and lying in the shade napping. It's dew in the morning and the coolness of night. It's smelling the earth growing and long days of light. For a few months out of the year, all of the senses are open and awake. Sounds, sights, scents, tastes, and textures that are only there during summer. Creamy sauces that coat the tongue during the winter are replaced by the clean, fresh taste of garden vegetables and homemade salsa. The light pastels of spring fade away as the crisp, vibrant flowers bloom and explode with color. All of these experiences will continue on into Fall, yet their intensity will be lessening as the days get cooler and the nights lengthen. Summer is the exclamation point on the end of WOW! Not everyone shares my enthusiasm for summer. There are people who feel the season of all seasons is, believe it or not, Winter. For others, Spring is perfection. Still others revel in Autumn's abundance. That's why we're a body made up of many parts designed for differing functions. Were it not for each season's varied blessings, the magnificence of the year would be lost; just as without many functions, the perfection of the whole body would be missed. Thank you, God for Summer, for Autumn, Winter, and Spring. Without them all we'd miss out on so many wondrous things. No matter what your favorite season is, I pray that you are enjoying the colors, the sights, the smells, and the sounds God has brought us this summer. Hmmmm, I just had a random thought fly through my head. It has to do with the seasons and the Jewish New Year. Hmmmmm, see you later. I'm going to study on this a little more. Tell you what I find out later. Love from the Father, Blessed Mama

Making Dishes Easier to Wash

Dishes. Other than laundry, they are the biggest mountain maker in our home. Throughout the years, we have discovered several small tips and techniques to make an often despised chore go smoothly. We wish it to be known that we in no wise consider ourselves experts on this subject. This article is meant to be a casual, little visit between friends, not a detailed how-to instruction. With that said, here is how we attempt to tame our ever-filling kitchen sink. Before coming to the sink area, ALL dirty dishes are scraped into the garbage if needed. Many a pan/sink of dish water has been too quickly dirtied by uneaten scraps and tidbits left behind. Once scraped, dishes are rinsed and/or set to soak as needed. Starchy foods such as potatoes, rice, and pasta often leave behind a film. Pre-wash rinsing and/or soaking aids in eliminating this annoyance. Condiments and dips frequently harden rapidly as well. Rinsing and soaking ahead of the washing allows excess scrubbing while washing to be a plague of the past. The order of washing saves much in terms of time and cleanliness as well. Glassware and stemware always go through the line first at our house. We don't want crystal stemware and nice dishes to be washed after that oily skillet. Most likely every homemaker has his/her own order to follow. As with most chores, dishes work best done in the manner and method that works most efficiently for each individual household. At our house, following glassware and special dishes are the plates, utensils, bowls. Other items used to serve the meal come next followed by cookware. The cast iron cookware brings up the rear followed only by the cookstove. What about those persistent, baked-on problems? Using the same method that chefs use to deglaze a skillet, while the pan is still hot from cooking, we pour a small amount of water into the pan and immediately begin scraping with a spatula. Very few cooked-on messes remain in our skillets when we do this. Following the same basic steps in the sink using hot tap water, we are able to clear out pots and pans before cooked on messes harden beyond removal. Those pans and dishes which miss out on pretreatment are set to soak while other dishes are being washed. By the time their turn comes around, they have usually softened and slide easily off into the trash. If a pot/pan is hopelessly stuck up with cooked on crud, after scraping loose debris off, we will frequently use the pot as the dishpan filling it with hot soapy water. This allows the item to soak for a longer period of time. Rarely will the item used in this way require scrubbing. Plates and other dishes that have been left to sit too long are also placed in neat stacks in the bottom of the sink under the pot/bowl being used as a dishpan. The dishes receive a pre-soaking as the rinse water falls onto them yet because they aren't in the actual dish water, they don't cruddy it up as they soak. When it's their turn, even dried on egg yolk washes off with minimal effort. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is true even when washing dishes. Just as laundry stains come out beautifully when treated immediately, so too hideous messes in the dish pile can be a thing of the past. Scraping, rinsing, soaking, order - tips to shorten and simplify dish time and a simplified, shorter dish time is definitely Living Large on Less. Enjoying the simple pleasures of summer, Blessed Mama PS - Those readers with automatic dishwashers will just have to Live Large for Less by taking a moment to be thankful for their dishwasher :) Truth be told, at our house, we actually have two automatic dishwashers. Both are currently "under the weather" so we are back to the ten-fingered variety:) There really isn't a better way that I have found to remove stubborn stains on the hands than washing dishes, nor have I found a better time to pray, though the shower is a close second. Cia', for now! Blessed Mama

7.12.2010

Munchies for Monday!

Happy week of July 12! With summer weather upon us, baking is the last thing on many of our minds. Anything that helps us avoid cranking up the stove is wonderful. In honor of summer's heat, we are posting a link to some sweet treats that will keep you cool. We do want to let it be known ahead of time that the ingredients in these treats are neither inexpensive (unless you have stocked up at sale time) nor completely healthy, but they are cool, delicious, and quick to make. So, enjoy the savings on your time as you savor every bite of these yummy summer treats we found in a recent newsletter from Everyday Cheapskate. To find the yummies, go to www.debtproofliving.com, click on the DPL resources tab, click on Everyday Cheapskate, and then, click on the Easy Summertime Desserts, No Oven Required title. Trust me, the desserts are worth all of the clicks it takes to get there. For more money-saving tips and ideas you can subscribe to the Everyday Cheapskate enewsletter for free while at Debt Proof Living.

7.09.2010

Fabulous Friday Finds!

It's that time of year again! Garage Sale Season! Many towns host city-wide garage sale events each summer. Opportunities for Living Large on Less abound at garage sales. However, there are a few things to remember when scouring the garage sales. *Just because it's on a garage sale, doesn't mean it is a good buy. Do your research and know your prices. Sometimes people hold their possessions as quite dear and it may very well be possible to purchase brand new on sale at a store for less. * Even if it is a legitimately good buy, if you don't need it, want it, or have a use for it, LEAVE IT THERE!!! No matter how inexpensive the item is, if it isn't needed or useful, money has still been spent needlessly. That's not thrift. * Asking if the marked price is the seller's bottom dollar is fine. HOWEVER...if it is the bottom dollar, don't try and haggle for a lower price. Be courteous. The same applies to making an offer. If the seller says the price is firm, courteously thank them and let it be. Being a bully for the sake of a bargain is NOT living large. Besides, what goes around comes around. So, treat garage sale hosts and hostesses accordingly. * Keep a smile on your face. Often times, garage sale goers are frantic to score the best buy. This can create stress for the host and/or hostess. It's amazing what one kind, smiling face on a polite guest can do to set the day aright. No buy is worth being rude for, EVER. * Use a list but don't lock yourself in too tightly. Have a list of items that you are looking for such as picture frames, coffee pots, buckets, fabric, antique books, whatever it is you are wanting or needing, and keep it handy. However, don't get so caught up in using your list that you only see items from the list. There may be unexpected surprises waiting to be discovered; be ready for them. * Enjoy the entire experience. The Living Large on Less lifestyle is all about keeping a prosperous perspective. Expect to have a good time and most likely you will. A key thing to remember is that each household has a different idea about clean and gently used. Your idea of a gently used garment may be vastly different than that of the sellers. Oh well, no big deal. There's always next time. On a more practical note, keep a purse sized bottle of hand sanitizer or hand wipes with you. After sorting and looking through boxes and piles, you will be ever so glad to use it. Also, bottled water and snacks of some sort make the time more enjoyable, especially if small children are along. * If you are familiar with the town the garage sale is in, pay attention to addresses. Some neighborhoods have better quality merchandise available. Also, be on the lookout for multi-family sales as they tend to have a greater variety of items. If you know the families involved in the garage sale, all the better. What are the ages of their children? If their children are a year or so ahead of yours in age, there's a good chance that the clothing on the sale will be the right size. If you are looking for children's clothing, toys, etc., don't go to the garage sale of a senior citizen. They probably won't have what you're needing. If you are on the lookout for antique books or houseware however, that senior citizen's garage sale may contain hidden treasures. Larger cities that have ethnic communities provide an even more diverse range of opportunities. I have heard of people finding amazing European antiques for a song in certain areas of large cities. Garage Sales! One of summer's favorite activities! If you've never been, hopefully some of these tips will help make your first experience successful. If you are a seasoned veteran of the garage sale, carry on. Above all, relax and have a great time! In honor of Fabulous Friday, we're posting a list of items to keep an eye out for while garage saling. Some of these items can be used as is, but most can also be repurposed into FABULOUS. * picture frames - any color - they can be spray painted or treated however you want later * living books/classic literature - garage sales are one of the many ways to begin a personal, family library * tables, stands, chairs, other furniture that is of a pleasing style and is sound - everything can be painted and/or recovered - don't let a rustic appearance scare you off - if it's sturdy and sound, consider it * tableware, utensils, serving bowls, aprons, tablecloths, cloth napkins, unopened paperware, any item that you are lacking in the kitchen or dining room * working sewing machine, if you need/want one, some of the older models are the best * lamps - these can also be repainted and the shades redone/replaced * sewing supplies * clothespins * Christmas items (decoration) Estate garage sales are often treasure troves of Christmas fun. Nativity Sets can even be found. * Vintage fabric * Vintage collectibles * Quality children's literature i.e. Bobbsey Twins, Uncle Wiggily, Beatrix Potter, Thornton Burgess classics, Little House on the Prairie * quilts * flower pots, gardening supplies * baskets - can be repurposed for gift giving, decorations, and/or storage * candles - wax can be melted and used in other ways * linens, doilies * vintage luggage - storage and/or decor * clothes - some will still have the tags on See you on Monday! Blessed Mama

7.08.2010

Do You Know Your State's Preamble?

An email came across my screen this afternoon.  It is one that I had received a long time ago.  I appreciated it then, and I appreciate it even more today.  The email contained the preamble to each of the 50 states constitutions.  Guess what?  All 50 states mention God.  Every, single one.  Every day more and more of our freedoms are threatened and/or taken away.  This past Sunday Americans everywhere celebrated their independence, yet how many of us were willing to put away the party and pray?  2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us that God will hear from heaven and heal the land of those who call on His name, humble themselves, seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways.  I know this, but do I believe it?  Do I practice it?  My heart is grieved for the condition of America, but exactly how grieved?  Enough to put on sackcloth and ashes?  Enough to rend my garments?  Enough to forgo my yearly tradition of playing to seek His face for this land's healing so that there will be many more years to celebrate freedom?   I know that there were ministries who sent out an urgent call for Christians across American to drop to their knees and cry out for God's mercy and divine intervention in our nation.  Did I give serious enough attention to this call?  I'm not sure that I did. 
I am so thankful that all I have to do is what I can do.  In a world that appears to be whirling completely out of control, God's Word remains a strong, true anchor.  Men and nations can plan and plot and scheme to their hearts content, but no matter how they try, no one can touch God's children, those who fear Him.  "Those who fear the Lord lack no good thing." Psalm 34:10  "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord."  Psalm 33:12.  Psalm 33 also tells us that the LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.  Not only that but "His eye is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine."   Even in the midst of worldly famine, I will be kept alive.  Better than that, I'll thrive. (Psalm 1:3)  In the coming days as American's everywhere bow their hearts and knees before Almighty God, I pray that we remember the Lord our God.  That we humble ourselves, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways.  Then, He will hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land.  God Bless America.

Tip for Thursday - Free Tall Starbucks Coffee

Hey, hey, hey, it's already a great day! While skimming over my emails, I came across a juicy little freebie. A free tall Starbucks coffee for anyone who goes to a Barnes and Noble Cafe' and shows the server the ebook they are reading on their ereader app. It could be on any mobile device the ereader app available from Barnes and Noble's website has been downloaded too. Those readers who actually have and use any of these devices will know exactly what this is all about. I know what the advertisement is referring to, but not having a mobile device OR a Barnes and Noble store, I don't get to take advantage of this offer. It is, however, Thursday's Thrifty Tip for those of you who can use it. For the rest of us, I'll pass on the fact that Barnes and Noble has some amazing clearance sales online right now. If you have been "waiting" (see earlier post) and praying for good quality gifts for Christmas and/or other occasions at inexpensive prices, this may be what you've been waiting for! There are books available for as little as $1.78, some maybe less. Over 10 thousand books are on sale. I only viewed the first 100 and saw many that would make very nice gifts for birthdays, showers, and Christmas too. If your students are needing any of the classics, I saw some of those also. A free shipping offer for orders over $25 is available as well increasing the savings potential even more. Finally, a couple of tips thrown in just because it's summer, and summer is my very, most favorite season of the year. Tip: When out hiking/scouting/nature walking, always make sure to ask permission before entering private property. Also, no matter how tempting, remember to likewise ask permission to take home any "specimens or treasures". That perfect pinecone or wildflower may be screaming your name, but if it isn't on your own property, it isn't yours. To take it would be stealing. Many landowners will be happy to share. They, like all of us, deserve the respect of being asked first. Besides, practicing courtesy for others is always a good decision. Prior Permission is this tip's name. Tip: Consider planting a "free" flower garden using native wildflowers gathered during summer outtings. (Now you know why we shared the previous tip) The colors of wildflowers are predesigned by God so require no guessing as to what goes where with what. Also, a number of plants growing in the wild have beautiful foliage that adds depth, texture, and loveliness to any planting bed. So don't forget to consider the non-flowering grasses and plants too. Keep an eye out for the type of soil and moisture level from which each plant was taken. This will provide information necessary to successfully maintaining each plant later on. For instance, wildflowers gathered from along the bank of a stream may not flourish if grown under the same conditions as a wild cactus. It may also be helpful to observe the wildflowers in the area for several seasons before collecting. Observing the plants and flowers first allows a gardener to determine many things about each one before placing them in their own yard. Some wildflowers are quite invasive and would be perfect for containers while others are gorgeous while in bloom, but quite unattractive a.k.a. ugly throughout the rest of year. Watching them grow before gathering would reveal which plants fit your individual style of gardening. If you have a heart that aches to grow beautiful things but the bank account doesn't allow for extra purchases, look around for other options. "Where there's a will, there's a way." Option #2: See if a gardener friend or neighbor would be willing to trade help in their garden in exchange for any plants they thin out. There may be elderly people around you who would find an arrangement such as this an answer to prayer. Such an arrangement has the potential of an immense learning opportunity for the beginning gardener as well. Friday is going to be fabulous so enjoy Thursday's tips, and don't forget to "Stop and smell the ink" while you're at Barnes and Noble for me. (Only true booklovers will know what I'm talking about with that comment.) Tipping on Thursday, Blessed Mama [Please note: I did NOT say "tipsy" on Thursday]

7.07.2010

Tuesday's Task

 
A late afternoon/early evening rainstorm kept  yesterday's post from going through.  Relying on the adage of "better late than never" we're posting it today.  It worked out perfectly as Not of This World isn't home to make a Waste Not Wednesday post.  Posting yesterday's article will be our way of Wasting Not.  Have a Blessed Day, Blessed Mama
 
Today's Tuesday Task at Living Large on Less is to reevaluate the necessities in your life.  What is truly essential to living?  Within each of us is a natural tendency to want to "fit in", well in most of us.  The latest fashions, newest hair styles, resent makeup trends, cutest shoes, all of these things scream "Necessary, we are necessary!" at us during some point in our lives.  However, if we are to honestly evaluate whether or not they are an essential the answer might surprise us. 
 
More often than not, upon completing an honest evaluation of their life, an individual will realize that a surprising amount of  his/her life has been lived based upon the opinions and instructions of others rather than personal conviction and carefully researched truth.  For example, a summer or two ago, I first learned that making your own laundry soap wasn't a bygone practice of pioneers long ago; it is still being done by thousands of people today---in cities!!!  I didn't have an adversion to this practice; it hadn't ever crossed my mind.  It wasn't on the radar so to speak.  Two summers later, not only do we make our own laundry soap, but we are actively planning on making all of our own soap---for all household uses.  Does this save money?  Yes!  Is that why we do it?  NO!!!  We make our own laundry soap because AFTER investigating (I like that word.  It's sounds fun.) and researching, I learned that it is economical, yes, but most importantly, it is healthier.  However...if it didn't get our laundry clean, healthy and cheap or not, we wouldn't do it.   I have made an informed, well thought out decision for our family by listening to others, trying a number of recipes, and using one that works. 
 
 Not every "economical" piece of advice will be a good fit for every household.  Each household has unique circumstances and factors that will greatly affect the definition of "necessity" for those residing there.  For instance, in our home, we have made a decision to use paper plates for at least one meal a day, preferrably more:)  This isn't a decision we would have made four years ago, but two additional children and four more homeschool students later, we do this.  This is one way our family practices Living Large on Less.  It is an extra expense, however, the time and convenience we save far outweighs any expense created by this choice
 
Rather than following along down the same path those around us, let's take a few minutes and examine our lives fully.  Why do we do the things we do?  What is the reason behind the choices we make?  How liberating it was for me to realize that I did not have to be bound to a set of "rules" that really didn't work for my household. 
 
 Once I began questioning the motives and reasons behind my decisions and opinions, necessity and necessary took on brand new meanings.  "No, I do NOT have to have my hair cut and colored at a professional salon every six weeks."  "No, I do NOT have to have a completely new wardrobe every season."  Actually, a collection of classic clothing makes a classier statement than trendy fads anyway.  Besides, I live in the country---WAAAAYYYY out in the country.  My clothing needs aren't ever going to be the same as someone who resides in an urban community. 
 
Allow plenty of time for evaluating necessities.  It isn't a quick process.  In fact, you may find it taking several months.  Thrifty doesn't necessarily mean speedy.  Being free to readjust your life to fit your own family---it's a thrifty way to Live Large on Less - Blessed Mama

7.06.2010

A Commandment of Men

There is a verse in Isaiah 29 that talks about people who draw near to God with their mouth and honor Him with their lips but remove their hearts and minds far from God, and their fear and reverence for Him are a "commandment of men that is learned by repetition [without any thought as to the meaning],"   Having been raised in church, I have to confess that too often I find myself operating in that very same mode.  Having grown up in a predominately Christian atmosphere, I know exactly what to do when, but sometimes I forget to even consider the "why". 
As much as I hate to admit it, there is this jumble of rights and wrongs that roll around inside my head reminding me how to live and what to say.  Not all of them are of God though.  Some of these instructions are spot on and some are even direct quotations of scripture.  For instance, treat other people in the way you want to be treated.  If you can't say anything nice, keep your mouth shut.  You don't have to be right.  Are all valuable tidbits of wisdom.  No white shoes after Labor Day.  Socks and stockings should never be darker than your shoes.  Plaid and stripes don't go together.  While sound advice, these rights and wrongs aren't anywhere near God's Word in importance.  Yet all of these things tumble around popping up in random order as various occasions arise.  Could these be "commandments of men learned by repetition without any thought as to their meanings"? 
An email article I read recently encouraged me to make God and His ways "the issue".   The author of the article shared that too often we make sin and godlessness the issue rather than God.  Let's think about that for a minute.  Is this true?  Yes, it most definitely is.  If you don't believe me, get in a group of believers and listen to the conversation.  When the topic is about sickness, problems, difficulties, stress, etc. conversations spews out with little to no effort.  After all, everyone has problems to share, and do we ever enjoy sharing them!  Start sharing the goodness of God, His blessings, His provisions though and a hush quickly falls over the group.  Oh sure, there are a few sold out souls who express praise to God for His goodness, but on the whole, most believers shut down.  They get uncomfortable.  Why?  Why does God's goodness and blessing make His own children uncomfortable? 
What could possibly be sweeter to a Christian's ear than hearing the praises of their Savior?  Is anything more beautiful to a believer than listening to others share the goodness of God?  How could telling of God's loving ways and supernatural care of one of His lambs make other lambs feel awkward or uncomfortable?   I can't help but wonder if we aren't in some ways like the verse in Isaiah 29 - we draw near with our mouths and lips, but remove our hearts.  Dear God, please help us draw near to You with our entire hearts.  May our relationship with You be sincere and real.  May it not simply be a repetition of things taught us by mere men, but may it be living, breathing, a true relationship between a Loving Heavenly Father, Son and Spirit with each one of us, Your children.  I pray that if any of us have been trudging along repeatedly doing the right thing with no thought as to the reason, that we will run to the cross and learn of You.  Thank You for Your Word that leads and teaches us.  In Jesus' name, Amen. 

7.02.2010

Fabulous Friday! * A Prayer for Independence*

This morning I experienced an honest-to-goodness "duh!" moment when contemplating what to post for Fabulous Friday.  As I was considering what would be the best choice, I realized that yesterday's thrifty decorating tip would have been the best choice. 
So...today's Fabulous Friday post finds us at Living Large taking a different turn with our post.  We are praying that you and yours have a truly blessed Fourth of July.  Perhaps sometime during the celebration of our country's freedom you will be able to slip to your knees in prayer that this country countinues to experience Freedom for us to celebrate.  Living Large on Less isn't a political blog.  It is a blog however that fully supports America and the freedom she stands for.  Many men and women have bled and died to give us these blessings.  It is only right that we do all we can to see that the liberties given to us be retained as our forefathers intended them to be. 
Have you happened to read or hear of the challenges and sufferings faced by those brave souls who dare to sign the Declaration of Independence?  If so, then you know full well a portion of the price paid.  If not, it may be something to search out and read/listen to.  There are serious decisions being made every day.  Decisions which remove more and more of our freedom.  If we are not aware, then we will be defeated---perhaps from the enemy within---or is our biggest enemy our own ignorance of the truth?  Like I said, this isn't a political blog. However, since the true ability to Live Large on Less comes from a peacefully contented heart that trusts in God, wouldn't it be a Fabulous Friday if we were all to spend some time with the God this nation was dedicated to so many years ago? (See www.wallbuilders.com for insightful truths concerning the founding of America.  These carefully researched and well documented truths are rarely, if ever, found in history books of today.)
Oh say can you see
by the dawn's early light
what so proudly we hailed
at the twilight's last gleaming
whose broad stripes and bright stars
through the perilous fight
o'er the ramparts we watched
were so gallantly streaming
and the rockets red glare
the bombs bursting in air
gave proof through the night
that our flag was still there
oh say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
o'er the land of the free
and the home of the brave
Now for the stanzas seldom heard:
On the shore dimly seen
thro' the mists of the deep
where the foe's haughty host
in dread silence reposes
what is that which the breeze
o'er the towering steep
as it fitfully blows
half conceals half discloses
now it catches the gleam
of the morning's first beam
in full glory reflected
now shines on the stream
'Tis the star-spangled banner
oh long may it wave
o'er the land of the free
and the home of the brave
Oh thus be it ever
when freemen shall stand
between their loved home
and wild war's desolation
blest with vict'ry and peace
may the heav'n rescued land
praise the Power that hath made
and preserved us a nation
Then conquer we must
when our cause it is just
and this be our motto
"In God is our trust!"
And the star-spangled banner
 in triumph shall wave
o'er the land of the free
and the home of the brave
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I pledge allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America
and to the Republic for which it stands
one nation, under God, indivisible
with liberty and justice for all

 

7.01.2010

Thursday's Thrifty Tips---the vacation is over!

Good Morning!

We are back at Living Large on Less with a hodge podge of thrifty tips personally tested and tried during the past several months.

This year was our first to host the branding dinner for the main branding, there are two.  As we were studying ways to make the dinner flow as smoothly and efficiently as possible, the idea of having individual pots of coffee on each table came to us.  This would enable the men to get a refill without having to get up and retrieve it or wait for someone with a refill to pass by.  At first Blessed Mama wanted to be on the lookout for bargains on thermal coffee karaffes (they are more attractive).  However, we already had one of those airpots.  Another one was found by Not of This World, Mustard Seed, Horsegirl, and their Grammie at a garage sale.  That cinced it, we would use airpots instead of karaffes.  Two more, one of them really nice and new, a.k.a. attractive, were purchased for an extremely low price at an auction this past weekend.  Yea!!!  Mission airpots for branding complete with very little expense.  Tip = Once a need is determined, be patient.  Wait and allow God to provide via gifts, sales, good buys, or unexpected cash resources to purchase.   Don't get in a hurry and try to gather everything "right now".  The saying "haste makes waste" is most often true.  So, settle down, relax, and keep those eyes open!  Oh yeah, be ready to enjoy the blessings coming your way.

OK, now for the decorating tip = Less is More.  We know, we know.  It's been said hundreds of times before, but it really is true.  Less is most always more.  Less fuss, less muss, less stress, less spending; it all adds up to more.  More time, more relaxation, more freedom, more resources leftover, more peace to enjoy loved ones, friends, and the event. 

Not of This World is officially a high school graduate.  Not one to enjoy big shindigs, she desparately pleaded to skip the traditional reception and hooplah.  Hmmmm, perfectly understandable to her non-conformists parents, but well, others who care still need a way to show their love and support.  What to do, what to do....After praying and the above mentioned waiting....inspiration struck in the form of a quiet thought.  Not of This World has been taking photographs for the past six years and has gotten some great shots.  They need to be seen, but we hadn't found a way to do it.  Viola'!  A private photography exhibition!  Why not?  The pictures would be seen and those who care could show their support and love.  It would be a win, win situation, and...IT WAS!

There will be a number of thrifty tips come out of the photo exhibition.  Our first one is about decor. Not of This World's photos were to be the main focus, yet an elegant rather than stark feel was desired.  Here are the decorations broken down.  
  • The openness of our great room provided the perfect place to host the exhibit. 
  •  All of the pictures, plants, and decor were taken down and stored in an out of the way place. 
  •  Not of This World's photograph arrangements were decided on and then hung accordingly.    
  • A black and white color scheme had previously been decided upon. That portion of the decision making had been made simple after the discovery of napkins in a favorite pattern.
  • Knowing that she wanted to use white pillar candles of varying heighths, Not of This World was more than tickled to come upon a sale of them during an unexpected shopping trip.  
  •  A pop of color was needed to polish off the look. Tulle was the product of choice due to its myriad of uses and inexpensive cost, however something else was still lacking. The unexpected shopping trip provided both the tulle and the missing ingredient.  A roll of magenta-colored tulle provided the perfect amount of pop, and clear, glass stones with an opalescent sheen caught the flickering light of the candles beautifully.  Both the tulle and the stones were on sale making their beauty even greater. 
  • The refreshment table was draped in a black tablecloth.  A length of tulle was casually strung down the center of the table curling naturally.  Stones were scattered down the center with white votive candles placed throughout.  Beautiful serving trays in clear glass/crystal and silver (loaned to us by Grandma) were used to serve the refreshments.
  • Other surfaces in the room contained similar arrangements with each one varying a bit.  Vintage cameras featured in two of the photographs were put to use as decor. 
  • A beautiful bouquet of roses brought as a gift provided the finishing touch that drew attention to the featured photograph.
  • Choosing to use vintage glass snack trays freely available rather than purchasing paper plates and cups enabled us to instead purchase an inexpensive fountain from which to serve the punch. Living Large on Less will at times involve a weighing of desires.  Not of This World had to decide if she would rather have convenience or beauty.  This time...she chose beauty. 
Tip = Less is More in Decor.

That's all for now.  Hopefully there will be pictures to follow.  Right now though, it is time to get lunch, and we've got to hurry.  Until later, Blessed Mama