9.29.2010

Times of Transition

Living Large on Less is in a time of transition between administrators.  Both the former administrator and the new are also both in times of transition as well.  Unfortunately, in the midst of all these transitions, Living Large on Less has suffered severe neglect.  From the bottom of both of our hearts we sincerely apologize.  More frequent posting is a definite priority, one we are working very hard on.  Thank you so much for being patient and hanging in there as we learn a new groove. 
 
Anyway...a topic of much interest to many right now is how to celebrate special occasions in a big way with little financial cost.  If you were to conduct an online search right now the sheer volume of answers to this question would astound you.  Trust me on this.  Ideas for saving money without sacrificing quality and meaning are abundant.  Not only is the number of ideas overwhelming, the variety of ideas brought forth is truly unbelievable.  Who knew there were so many ways to cut costs when celebrating.  Best of all, there is at least one usuable suggestion for everyone.  Not that long ago ideas found online were primarily usable only by people living in urban or metropolitan areas.  Now, however, even those of us living in rural areas can find usable information online.  It's absolutely wonderful.  Truly, it is.  Even the most creative souls can hit the brick wall of nothing when planning a special celebration.  Being able to tap into the well of creative genius offered online is a marvelous opportunity.  Why not use it to the full?
 
Here are a few of the most shared celebration ideas.  The majority were written for wedding or anniversary celebrations, but we think they could be adapted to work well for any occasion.
  • Eliminate excessive food expense by making the event potluck.  A common tip given was to assign individuals specific foods such as salad, dessert, chips, drinks, etc. to avoid ending up with an entire table full of one type of item such as desserts.  Another suggestion was for the host to furnish the main course or meat and guests furnish salads and/or desserts.  A number of people shared that they had done this for their wedding receptions with tremendous success.
  • Rather than serving a formally catered meal at a wedding reception, a large amount of people served cold cuts for sandwiches, relish trays, and salads to cut down the costs.  Serving an informal meal in this way allowed the guests to begin eating right away.  This eliminated the long, unpleasant wait for the bride and groom to FINALLY arrive at the reception. 
  • An idea that was completely new to us was the one requesting that each wedding guest bring a food dish for the reception in lieu of a gift.  Those sharing this suggestion said this worked wonderfully and guests loved it.  
  • Save on decorations by using items you already have, especially those that are symbolic of the person(s) being celebrated.  For instance, there was a lovely wedding centerpiece created using an antique scale and flowers.  Pocket watches, jewelry, and other significant items would lend themselves to this personal stye of decorating very well.
  • Many contributors shared that keeping it simple had saved them not only money, but had also eliminated stress.
  • Keep the large scale items neutral in color and add small punches of accent color.  For example, tableclothes in ivory or white scattered with rose petals of the accent color. 
  • Ask friends with talents to help you out.
  • Create a scrapbook of fondest memories by having guests each write their fondest memory of the person being honored on paper provided.  After each guest has handed in their page, the pages are placed in a prepared book and given to the guest(s) of honor.  This was shared as an idea for a birthday, wedding, and anniversary celebration.
  • Make a DVD of favorite pictures put to favorite songs as a gift for the one being honored.
  • Use materials from nature and spray paint to match the colors being used.  One example of this would be spray painting pinecones or acorns gold.  Glue can be brushed on and the item then dusted with glitter if added sparkle is desired. 
  • If you have an item you like but it's the wrong color, paint it and use it.
  • Recreate the meal eaten on a couple's first date or wedding reception for an anniversary celebration.
  • Have guests dress in the style of clothing that would have been worn the year an anniversary couple was married.
  • Play music from the year a birthday person was born.
Obviously, there are hundreds of fabulous suggestions and ideas left untold.  There just isn't enough time or room to include them all. 
So, WHAT DO YOU DO TO CELEBRATE LARGE ON LESS?  Please share your favorite tips with us by leaving a comment or emailing us at youcanlivelargeonless@gmail.com.  We are so excited to hear from you! 
 
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Do you garden?  If so, what is happening in your garden right now?  Are you shutting down for the season or do you garden all year long?  Living Large on Less is thinking about doing a gardening post and would love to hear all about yours.  Garden updates can be left as a comment or shared in an email sent to youcanlivelargeonless@gmail.com.  Gardening is one of the easiest ways to Live Large on Less.  If you have a gardening tip or story of any kind please feel free to share it with us in either a comment or email.  ALSO...if anyone has a tip or suggestion on getting rid of stickers and/or sandburs PLEASE share!!!
 
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Are you doing something you never dreamed you would do?  OR  Are you doing something you said you would NEVER do?  How have you adjusted your lifestyle to Live Large on Less?  Has more than your lifestyle changed?   Do tell in a comment or email at youcanlivelargeonless@gmail.com.
 
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Until next time, remember that sometimes less is more, but other times...it's just less.  So please choose carefully and wisely keeping loved ones LARGE and stuff less.  Saving money and losing precious moments with those dearest to us will always be a loss, never a gain.  We love you and are praying for you!  Blessed Mama 
 
 

50 Years of Love

October is the month my parents-in-love celebrate 50 years of marriage. In a world filled with individuals who have done what they want when they want and view commitment of any kind with contempt, this is an amazing milestone.   Fifty years is a long time.  Half a century has been spent living life together.  Ups and downs, sunshine and clouds, they have seen it all, together. 
Just for curiosity, I know it's difficult to believe that I was curious.  Anyway...just for curiosity I did an online search of the year these sweethearts were married.  What a tremendous amount of changes have taken place since 1960.  In 1960, JFK was being advertised as the best man to be president, pressed ham sandwiches were 30 cents, women wore hats and gloves to town, and Jerry Lee Lewis rattled the keyboard with Great Balls of Fire.  Meals were cooked mostly from scratch and eaten as a family around the table at home.  Audrey Hepburn was the image seen on a number of ladies' magazine covers; her sleek sense of style literally filled the fashion talk that year. 
If we were to ask couples whose marriages have spanned 50 years or more about what has taken place during all those years together I imagine the answers we would receive would feature very little of the fashions of the day, politics, or even music.  Most likely, we would hear stories of babies being born, children growing up, and other episodes of life at home with family, friends, and loved ones. 
I know how the experiences of life throughout the past 19 years of marriage have strengthened and deepened the love between My Beloved and me.  Such a love that must be formed during fifty years spent together as man and wife!  What marvelous memories to treasure have been made.  How much wisdom they must have to share.
Congratulations, parents-in-love.  I pray that the next 50 years are even sweeter than those already past have been.


9.27.2010

Blogs of Note

Good Morning!  I have just discovered a blog that I completely understand!  This is a first for me.  There are a number of blogs I enjoy, even more that I receive inspiration from, and a few that make me laugh, but none I completely understand, until now.  http://throwgrammarfromthetrain.blogspot.com/ is a blog of note on google so I checked it out.  I hadn't read long before I was laughing with understanding and delight.  Neither did it take long for me to realize that as much as I understood this author, and as much as I enjoyed the postings, I immediately knew that nitpicking is NOT the type of reading that will bring me closer to Christ.  A Christ-like attitude will probably not be developed if I feed on this type of word, even though I did enjoy it immensely.  Is the blog I read wrong?  Absolutely not!  As a matter of fact, a lot of writers could be helped tremendously by receiving such critiquing.  So why is it such material isn't good for me?  Simply because I am more than able to nit-pick all on my own.  The Bible says that "iron sharpens iron".(Proverbs 27:17)  Sharpening that particular ability flaw may not be in my best interest.  Honing my skill at spying imperfections definitely won't bless my family or those around me, unless they need me to edit a paper.   Above all, I will NOT become more like Jesus if I spend my time looking for flaws in everything I see and read. 

This was one of those strictly  personal decisions each of us makes every day.  Everyone of us has an ability and/or skill that has the potential of morphing into a flaw if we don't make purposeful decisions to keep it in check.  I am so thankful for the quick prompting of the Holy Spirit alerting me this morning.  Nothing major took place.  Sirens didn't go off; red lights weren't flashing.  A quick thought that I don't need this kind of influence is all there was, followed by a rush of thankfulness for the warning.  What about you?
  • Is there an area of your life that doesn't need feeding? 
  • Are there certain blogs, books, or TV shows that feed a part of you that doesn't need fed? 
  • What do you do to keep skills that could become flaws from taking over?
I pray that as we think on these things together we find ourselves becoming more like Christ.  So much attention and energy is being spent focusing on the latest predictions for the economy, health, and future freedom.  Yet, no matter what the future, we are still called to be followers of Christ.  We who have dedicated our lives to Him are still supposed to be focused on Him.(Matthew 6:25-34; Philippians 4:4-9)  Being transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2 AMP) is still the order of the day for us.  Let the world do what it will; we have a higher calling, an intentional focus, an aim and great quest. (1 Corinthians 14:1) God be praised!  This is not the time for believers to be worried or filled with care.  This is the time we have been waiting for.  It is for this time we have been training and preparing our entire lives.  Every lesson in Christ we have learned, every experience that has helped us grow, every bit of our walk with Christ thus far has been leading us to NOW.   NOW.  We are living in the "someday" of yesterday.  Let us hold fast to the profession of our faith, put on the armor God supplies, and be about our Father's business, even if the Father's business is as simple as deciding a blog isn't for us.  Growing in grace and loving the journey. 

PS -Choosing not to read the Throw the Grammar From the Train Blog has nothing to do with the blog itself.   No fault-finding was intended against Throw the Grammar From the Train Blog.  If you are needing some help in the grammar department and prefer real life examples to learn from, Throw the grammar from the Train would be an excellent tool and resource.   

9.24.2010

Weekly Update

Wow!  Has this week ever gone by fast!  Whoosh! and it is almost gone. 
On the garden front, we're still getting a few beans trickling in.  It may be time to uproot the plants in preparation for next year's season though.  Uprooting the old to make way for the new.  Hmmmm, that sounds like an interesting line of thought.  Doesn't it?  We may have to travel farther down that path of thought later on.  Tomatoes are also still finding their way into the house.  The grand total of tomato sauce is now at a whopping 1 qt. and 2 pts!  We ended up using part of a pint the other night for pizza.  It was really, really good. 
Oh yes!  How could I forget?  We canned corn week too.  This was a first, but definitely not a last time for this.  After opening up a quart of the corn for lunch yesterday, the verdict is in...we will can corn again.  Easy and delish.  Also, should the electricity ever go out, canned corn won't be in danger of spoilage. 
What do you can at your house?  Have you put up anything new this year that you haven't ever before?  We'd love to hear about it.
Please feel free to share with us by leaving a comment.
I apologize for missing this month's Book Reading update with Life As Mom.  Hopefully, you didn't miss it too.  If you aren't a regular subscriber at LifeAsMom.com, you might want to head on over and sign up today.  Variety abounds in daily posts.  There truly is something for everyone there. 
Also...I have a couple new blogs to pass on the word about,  A Wise Woman Builds and Like a Bubbling Brook.  Both of these blogs offer refreshing and though provoking posts in a brief format that doesn't demand hours or even minutes of our time.  Thoughts that draw us closer to God and further from ourselves are shared in a beautiful, lovingly gracious manner.  Be Blessed by these ladies and their blogs.
Any and every one who has a desire and/or need to discover new ideas for Fall will be overjoyed at the abundance provided on the internet right now.  This is truly a season of abundance.  I don't recall an Autumn with more postings on decorating, gardening, and anything else Fall.  Whatever it is you are looking for in regards to the Autumn season, I'm certain it can be found online.  A trip around the internet might be the perfect opportunity for a Fall outing that doesn't cost any money. (provided you don't find something to buy, that is;D) 
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Many individuals are beginning to look ahead to the holiday season.  As people consider the upcoming season, the need for extra finances and the desire to clear the clutter seem to enter the top spot on priority lists.  The result?  Online auction sites, thrift stores, and garage sales offer items that might just make perfect Christmas gifts.  Provided you don't have anything against preowned items of course.  It could be a win-win situation if you are needing to decrease spending for gifts this year.  Paintball markers aka paintball guns are the top item on a couple of Christmas lists at our house so My Beloved is checking the items on ebay quite frequently.  Just a pre-Christmas shopping tip to think on. 
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Back to that uprooting the old to prepare for the new thought.  You knew I'd be back here; didn't you?  As I thought about that, I couldn't help but think of how in between the uprooting and the planting of the new there is a winter season.  The winter season isn't merely a season of freezing rains and cold winds though.  Those freezing rains and the snow provide moisture for the next season's growth; they also add nutrients to the soil.  It is a time of bitter cold, but mostly it is a time of rest and restoration.  Harmful insects and diseases are oftentimes frozen and eliminated during winter's fury.  The earth experiences the same comfort and protection while resting under a blanket of snow that I do when snuggled down under a pile of warm blankets with just my nose sticking out in the nippy morning air. 
God has been talking to our family about the ways the enemy deceives believers.  Too often lies are whispered to us that we have been abandoned, isolated, left out when in reality, our loving Heavenly Father has gently led us to a quiet place away from distractions so that He can teach and prepare us for a new season.  Truth becomes unclear as lies and deception crowd in attempting to turn us away from God's love and care.  Other times, thoughts and doubts are tossed around at us in an effort to distract us from the main purpose and plan, much like the cold winds of winter cause us to lose sight and focus.
We have been so encouraged by the Word of the Lord brought forth by various men and women of God.  God is speaking forth a Word of encouragement to His people, if only we will focus our hearts on Him and listen and hear.  Oh that we will not be blown about and distracted by the whispers and lies of the enemy.  Instead may we be resolved and determined to only hear the voice of God.  No matter where we turn or which Christian station we listen to or watch, the message is the same.  What an encouragement and strengthening it has been to have the words God has been impressing upon me personally confirmed through the messages given by other men and women of God.  To know that the leading we have received in devotional time in school is in line with the leading given to the corporate Body of Christ is amazing.  Our faith is being strengthened day by day. 
Our faith isn't the only thing being strengthened.  To think that Almighty God, the Creator of the Universe would personally lead us! This testifies of the Father's Love to my children.  Over and over I have shared what I believe the Lord has led me to share with my children only to later read an email containing a prophetic Word saying the same thing.  My children and I just look at each other and smile.  "Did you hear that?"  I'll ask.  Together we are growing closer to the Lord and each other.  No bond is so strong as the one created between brothers and sisters in Christ sharing a joint experience in Him.  Sharing that bond with my children is truly amazing.  Words can't express the depth of joy living for Jesus with my children brings.  I am such a blessed mama!
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Last night I saw a portion of the movie Julie & Julia.  I missed the first part, but in the section I saw, a young wife had begun cooking her way through Julia Child's cookbook on french cooking.  The young woman's goal was to cook every single recipe in the book in the span of one year's time.  The woman, whose name was Julie, was recording her journey in a daily blog.  By the movie's end, hundreds of people were reading the blog, commenting, and even sending gifts to her through the mail.  All of the attention went to her head and bit negatively affecting her marriage.  So, why am I writing about this movie, especially since I probably wouldn't recommend it due to quite a bit of bad language?  Because of something Julie's husband said to her during a fight.  After a particularly large disappointment, Julie was experiencing what mothers of small children often call a meltdown.  After attempting unsuccessfully to cheer his young wife, the husband confronted her in kind by telling her she had become self-centered.  He told her that all of it, the cookbook, the cooking, the blogging, it was all about her, her, her, her.  Being a blogger myself, I found myself considering my own situation.  Why do I blog?  What on earth made me begin this in the first place?  Is it all about me?  Honestly, I'm still not sure.  I don't think so.  I certainly never meant it to be, but I don't really know if it is or not.  I hope not.  God will lead me, of this I'm sure.
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After I was finished watching the movie, I walked into my bedroom.  Upon entering the room, I stood still.  The room was awash in moonlight so brilliant I could have read by it.  Needing to prepare for bed but unable to resisit looking out at the moon, I went to the window.  As I looked at the moon and the silvery light bathing the land outside, I was overwhelmed by the love of God and everything about Him.  Standing there looking out my window I was able to talk to God and share my heart with Him freely in complete, uninterrupted silence, just the two of us, God and me.  It was a wondrous, priceless time I will treasure.  God is in the process of healing areas I didn't even realize were hurting.  He has been restoring little areas of my life; little areas of big healing.  God is SO good.
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Little by little, kind of like this post, a little here and a little bit there.  It's fun to hear about each others' gardens and what we're all reading, but let's not forget to share and testify of what the Lord has done too. 
What is the Lord doing in your life?  We love to hear of Him! 
Please feel free to testify by leaving a comment.
In Christ's Love,
Abundantly Blessed


9.20.2010

Values Driven Family.com: Cover up or Clean up?

Please enjoy this post from Values Driven Family. What a timely message for us all.

Values Driven Family.com: Cover up or Clean up?: "In order to protect the innocent, I'm not using real names in this story...but I want to tell you about a man named 'Fred.' Fred grew up in..."

9.16.2010

The Simple Stencil - if your walls could talk...

A thousand thank yous to A Wise Woman Builds Her House for sharing about The Simple Stencil website on her blog!  What a wonderful time I have spent window shopping there this morning.  The Simple Stencil offers quotes, embellishments, and more to easily adorn our homes with wisdom, romance, inspiration, and even humor all reasonably priced too. (at least compared to similar products)  The abundance of variety was so much fun!   I so enjoyed the wide variety.  Usually I leave sites similar to this one thinking of how I could do this myself for much less.  At The Simple Stencil I found myself choosing which ones I want to add to my Christmas List.  Perfect gifts for any occasion abound for the choosing so head on over and enjoy browsing through.  Your day will be brightened and maybe you'll find your focus renewed. 


9.14.2010

Money Saving Tips

No matter what the economy someone is thriving.  Right now dollar stores, second hand stores, and thrift shops are doing a whopping business.  Money-saving tips are the new "cool" discussion topic of choice.  With a plethora of advice on living frugally and practicing thrift, how is a person to know which tips actually work and which ones to ignore?  Each individual household contains a unique set of needs so not every thrifty tip will work for every, single situation.  Rather than be overwhelmed by the money-saving suggestions all around, we at Living Large on Less are taking one step at a time.  Some of the steps we have tried fall into the true life-saver category while others have been tossed out quicker than they came in.  The Living Large Team was living a frugal/green lifestyle long before it was the "in" or "green" thing to do, and today we would like to share some of our most tried and true tips with you.  Whether you are a new homemaker, young mother, or someone else entirely, we hope that our tips help lighten your burden and assist you in Living Large on Less.
 
 * Cooking from scratch reduces the grocery bill significantly and  is healthier too. Real food is ALWAYS better than processed or packaged.  "You can pay the grocer now or the doctor later." J. Rubin  If cooking from scratch seems an impossibility, relax.  It isn't difficult, really it isn't.  I have always said that if everyone knew how easy cooking is, no one would be impressed when I do it.  Delicious, nutritious meals can be created with just a few basic ingredients.  Instructions and how-tos for beginner cooks abound in bookstores and online.  There are even cooking how-to videos on YouTube.  Learning how to cook from scratch will definitely pay.
 
* When purchasing sheets and towels for your home, buy white.  Trust me, this will save on so many levels, including time.
 
 
* Prioritize needs and wants.  Be brutally honest with yourself. Most things considered necessary really aren't. 
 
* As contradictory as this tip will seem, it isn't.  Don't rid your life of all special pleasures.  No matter how low your resources become, retain one special pleasure.  Maybe it will be a weekly bubble bath, one day of using paper plates, an hour spent reading or writing, or one piece of chocolate a week.  Whatever it is, always keep at least one personal reward in your life.  When every pleasure in life is removed, the temptation to feel deprived and become bitter can overwhelm us.  Now, there may come a time when our special pleasures will need to change.  A trip to the spa or a massage may no longer be an option.  You may have to learn to give yourself that weekly manicure and pedicure.  Figuring out how to make your own specialty coffee drink may need to take the place of those from high-end coffee houses.  I have found that somedays, the richest reward is simply being able to take a long walk all by myself.  Those few moments spent in solitude are often more refreshing than any other indulgence could possibly be.  Yes, the walk is free, but the renewal I receive from that time is priceless. 
 
* Don't be bound by what everyone else is doing.  Remember, "everyone spends their money on something"  Just because so and so spends theirs one way doesn't mean that you have to spend yours that same way.  You are a unique individual with your own, special life to live.  You cannot afford to spend the gift of life copying someone else.  Nobody else can live the life you have been given to live, only you can do this.  So LIVE IT! as you are meant to do.  If you are a quilter, you may spend more money on quilting supplies while a scrapbooker will spend hers on paper.  Neither of you have erred or been wasteful with your resources.  A chef will not purchase the same items that a writer will and THAT'S OK.  Each of us must be wise with what we have been entrusted.  A lot of us find ourselves pressured by what we read in blogland.  If you don't enjoy attending garage sales and finding a great buy, don't feel odd or like a failure.  Just do that best you can with what you have and enjoy being you. 
 
* While following the crowd is rarely the best choice, missing out on a new adventure because you refused to try something new is just as binding.  The advice from that vintage Life Cereal commercial is perfect for this tip "Try it you might like it".  Many a person has been surprised by how much they enjoyed making their own laundry detergent.  Even more have been completely shocked at how relaxing and satisfying cooking a meal can be.  There is an undescribable satisfaction in doing it ourself.  I guess we never really get over the "I do it myself" stage.
 
* Just because it is a good buy doesn't mean it will save you money.  Many a well-meaning thrifty shopper has spent too much money on "good buys".  If you don't need it, it probably isn't a goody buy---for you.  Not every great deal in the store needs to go into your cart or home. 
 
 * Think simple, not small.  Less doesn't mean poverty.  It can mean more, much more.  Less hassle, less stress, less responsibility, more peace, more time, more freedom to live fully. 
 
* Less does not mean inferior quality.  Cheap is not less, it's just cheap, and inexpensive doesn't necessarily mean cheap.  
 
* Expensive doesn't always mean quality.  Some of the most expensive items I've seen have been the most cheaply made.
 
* Buy or collect dishes that are the same color or coordinate with that color.  Dishes of different sets will work together beautifully when of the same color.
 
* Keep a notebook or file of your favorite ideas.  They can be sketched onto paper and placed in notebook or file or removed from magazines.  Separate files or notebooks can be kept for decorating, fashion, and crafts or place all ideas in an attractive box or basket for filing at a later date.  It's like a visual wish list.  When "someday" arrives, you will know exactly what you want.  Knowing what you want ahead of time will save time and money because you will have avoided any those excess purchases that accompany trying to figure out what you like as you go.
 
That's enough for now.  I'm trying to remember a couple of great, yet easy tips that flew out of my mind with the first crying preschooler whose little brother was tormenting her. (with delight I might add)  More tips for a future post, I guess.  Have a great day Living Large!

Don't Throw Away Those Jars!



Here at Living Large on Less we have shared many uses for glass jars.  Hang on! we've found a couple new ones, leftover storage and drinking glasses.  Instead of using plastics which emit cancer causing agents when used in the freezer or when heated, put leftovers in glass jars.  Not only is doing this healthier, contents are visible resulting in less containers filled with unrecognizable lumps hiding in the back of the frig.  Drinks always taste better out of glass.  I don't know why, they just do.  I must confess that my family prefers quart canning jars for their drinks, but I have been putting the nix on this as I wanted to reserve the canning jars for canning.  I don't know why it never crossed my mind to use any of the jars from the recycle shelf...?  Former  Baby Pickle jars work perfectly, and they come with their own lid.  If appearance is an issue, lids can be painted to coordinate with dishes, and labels are easily removed with hot water.  Anyway, everyone is happy now; family gets to drink out of glass jars and canning jars are used for canning.  Maybe, just maybe I can sneak all of those gigantic plastic cups into the trash now.  That might be an adventure for another post. *grin*  We've been trying these uses out at our house for several months now with successful results.  
 
Yes, there are many people with issues about practicing this sort of thrift.  They feel that it's just way too "out there" or "too hippie" to be drinking out of "old jars".  I know, I know, I was right there with you not that long ago.  However...after reading around on the world wide web, and pricing supposedly inexpensive glassware, I have laid aside my pride and disdain; believe it or not, nothing terrible has happened because my family is drinking out of glass jars.  As a matter of fact, the glass jars are much handier than water bottles for travel.  We fill 'em up with ice, water, screw the lid on, and out the door we go.  The glass keeps our water colder for much longer too, and iced tea...aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh, nothing's better than iced tea out of a jar.  When serving warm/hot beverages remember that canning jars are made to have hot liquids poured in them so they can be used without fear of exploding.   
 
Another couple tidbits to share: 
  • Canning jars for beverages would complement an Autumn/Harvest gathering perfectly this Fall.
  • Glass jars can also be used to cold brew coffee in the refrigerator.  Basically, it's just like coldbrewing iced tea.  Place coffee and water in a glass jar using a 2 to 1 ratio, put the lid on, and allow to brew in the refrigerator for at least four hours.  Viola!  Strong coffee.  For iced coffee, place desired amount of coffee mix(coffee will be very strong, we recommend starting with less and adding more as needed) in glass, add milk, ice, flavorings, and you're set.
The more we use glass jars, the more uses we discover for them.  We may never be overrun with glass jars again.  I've even caught myself trying to find products that come in glass containers rather than plastic at the grocery store, ok, that might be a little excessive, but have you seen all of the cute shapes of glass containers there are at the grocery?  Also, if you happen to come across a gallon glass jar, SAVE IT!!!  don't let it get away from you.  With the resurgence in recycling, reusing, and thrift our country is experiencing, gallon glass jars are becoming much more difficult to find.  When recently looking for the gallon sized pickle jar, for the pickles, we couldn't find one that wasn't plastic.  Even if you personally don't have a use for the larger sized glass jars, someone will.  So please don't throw any away.  Glass jars, one of our greatest helpers in Living Large on Less.
 
***There will be a post sharing a new use for the leftover jars from jar candles with lids coming soon.  This may very well be one of my favorite ideas for these handy lidded jars, not to mention a marvelous Christmas gift idea that would delight anyone on your gift-giving list.  Stay tuned for more gift-giving ideas coming throughout the Harvest Season.

9.10.2010

Must Read Article at The Nesting Place

Visiting The Nester at The Nesting Place is truly a "you've got to do this" type of experience.  Once you've visited you will understand why The Nester has over 17 thousand readers---yes, 17 THOUSAND PLUS READERS.  I enjoy every post on the nester's blog, but this one on "stuff" is way over the top.  It's exactly what I would have said if I had known how to say it.  Please take the time to read this article.  You will be blessed, I promise.  Go ahead and leave a comment while you're there.  It's such an encouragement to know when we've said the right thing at the right time.  Have a blessed weekend.  
 http://www.thenester.com/2010/09/its-stuffy-in-here.html

Unexpected Blessings of Harvest



Good Morning!
It's a lovely Autumn morning here at A Mother's Rewards. A stiff breeze is blowing through the house taking any traces of stuffiness with it. Science has just been completed for the day. Such a grand time was had gathering "seedboxes" from the yard. Can you guess what seedboxes are? If you guessed the parts of plants that contain the seeds, you are correct. Our morning reading used this delightful term while pointing out that the seeds are the treasure of the plant. Therefore, the portion of the plant that contains the seeds is a plant's treasure box or seedbox. What a delightful description, and it so perfectly teaches young children exactly how important seeds are to the future of a plant. My three little seedbox gatherers returned with more of these plant treasures than I anticipated. We shall have a fine time examining them after lunch. Such smarties they were; realizing that tomatoes and ears of corn were seedboxes, they brought in some more garden produce too. Did I mention that I am blessed?
Our morning Art lesson focused on pictures portraying images of harvest season. As the children examined the pictures, I asked questions concerning what they were observing in the scenes. The insight that came from them amazed me. Each child studied the same images, yet their individual observations varied greatly. As they responded I suddenly realized that God was giving me quick glimpses into their hearts. By listening to what each child was saying, I could begin to understand how they process what their eyes see and what they see when they look at different situations. As we studied a picture of The Gleaner, a painting by Jules Breton, my four-year-old repeatedly spoke of the woman gathering the wheat to take home and feed her family. The fact that this woman was caring for her family was what made this same four-year-old choose this picture as her favorite from among the others we studied this morning; it was a glimpse into my child's heart.
The best part of the morning was when we experienced the delight and wonder as an unexpected "God Moment" unfolded in our midst. Imagine our surprise and delight when as we began reading about Jules Breton, the artist who painted The Gleaner, and found that he is the same Jules who is written about in the book we are reading for Science every day! It was a surprise to me as well. I had read the artist's name while preparing for today, but I hadn't read the description concerning him. Eyes grew wide and mouths dropped open then turned into huge smiles as we began to realize Jules the artist and Jules the boy in our Science book are one and the same. Unexpected blessings sent from the Father to boost the faith of His children and testify of His love for them, I could teach and talk for a hundred years and never impart to them the Father's love so thoroughly and completely as that one, unexpected blessing did. God is good---ALL THE TIME!!! Many will try and convince us that there is no God, that He's just a myth, but my children know better for they have seen Him work and experienced His loving care.
Our minds are on the harvest season this morning. Harvest is a time of hard work and abundance. A time to give thanks and rejoice in the provision from the Lord. "A harvest of righteousness" kept running through my head so I've looked it up to share.
"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 3:18 AMP I think there is a lot of truth to harvest out of that verse. Yes, harvest is indeed hard work, blessed hard work. Could this be why the laborers are few? As we continue on through the harvest season, I pray that we can say along with author of this poem:
"Let me but do my work from day to day,
In field or forest, at the desk or loom,
In the roaring market-place or tranquil room;
Let me but find it in my heart to say,
When vagrant wishes beckon me astray,
"
This is my work; my blessing, not my doom;
Of all who live, I am the one by whom
This work can best be done in the right way."
Then shall I see it not too great, nor small,
To suit my spirit and to prove my powers;
Then shall I cheerful greet the laboring hours,
And cheerful turn, when the long shadows fall
At eventide, to play and love and rest,
Because I know for me my work is best."
Henry Van Dyke

9.08.2010

A Wise Woman Builds Her Home

Before the day gets away from me and all hope of blogging is past, I want to share the address of a beautiful, godly blog.  http://proverbs14verse1.blogspot.com/ blesses me with every new post.  Grace and godliness abound as women are encouraged to embrace the calling of a godly woman.  Not only is the Lord glorified on this blog, but it is a beautiful place to visit as well.  Encouragement is available for the entire family with links to blogs for men and teenagers to click on too.  Don't miss out on this blessing any longer; visit A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, soon.

Several weeks ago, while preparing lessons for school, I had one of my daughters help me gather all of the antique school books we've accumulated throughout the years.  The books are leftovers from a bygone decorating phase of mine. (Said decorating phase could return sometime in the future.  They have a way of doing that around here.)  Wanting our children's education to be rich and full while keeping the expenses few, I was taking stock of material already on hand.  Our grandparents received educations far superior to ours from books such as these.  So why not see if my children could benefit from their content as well?  To my delighted surprise, several of these gems met our curriculum needs perfectly.   As we begin our third week of school I can't help but marvel at God's abundant provision for our school.  Not only have these books allowed us to save hundreds of dollars, the rich literature and completeness of content are daily enriching our lives. 

Have you ever looked in an arithmetic book from the 1930s or 40s?  Seventh and eighth graders were being taught banking and financial information that my recently graduated daughter learned in her high school Business Math course.  At the completion of the eighth grade lessons our 8th grader will not only have reviewed basic math skills, but she will also have learned ample business and banking skills AS WELL AS algebra and geometry skills to sufficiently prepare her for high school Algebra next year. 

Not all of the benefits gained from using these schoolbooks of yesteryear are educational or even financial.  I wish I could adequately describe that little light of surprise in our daughter's eyes when she opened the arithmetic book for the first time and read the names of her great-grandmother and her great-grandmother's older brother.  Knowing that her "Grandma Great" used the exact same math book adds an extra little touch all its own.  Grandma Great's eighth grade education seems much larger after reading through some of her school books too.  If only government schools educated today's eighth graders so thoroughly. 

Arithmetic isn't the only subject brought to life by school books of long ago.  Subjects in the Language Arts are filled to overflowing with literature of quality.  Lessons train students to observe fine art, appreciate literature, and express themselves well in every area of life.  A quick read through of the lessons found an eagerness stirring inside me, much like the excitement before embarking on a grand, new adventure.  To be honest, more than once I have forgotten that I am planning future lessons and almost read through an entire book.  Yes, the literature selections are that beautiful and the lessons that engaging.  I have learned more in the past two weeks than I have in several years.  How dry, dull, and tasteless my textbooks were in school.  Learning was never so rich and varied for my generation as it was for my grandparents, that I know. How pleasant and delightful learning would have been with textbooks such as these.  No wonder my grandmother loved to learn and then later, to teach. 

As you can tell by my going on and on, we have again been blessed by the unexpected at our house.  What seemed to be an effort to save financial resources has ended up freeing us to experience a new season of education.  A rich, treasure trove of learning beckons us to follow, and we willingly follow this new road of old.  Lest I get lost in sentimental wanderings and ramble on any longer, reality is calling in the form of two small children ready for supper.  I can't help but write my thanks to God for His perfect provision and loving care.  See you soon for another sweet visit.

Thank You, Lord for touching my heart and blessing our home with the treasure of antique schoolbooks.  You knew when You brought them to us several years ago that their true purpose was to make our home beautiful, but not just through decor.   You knew that by studying them for school, our home would be made beautiful as we grew more like You from within.  Thank You for leading and guiding in every area of our lives.  Your provision is even more perfect than we know.  You have truly done more than I could think, dream, or even imagine just like Your Word says You are able to do.  In Jesus' name I thank You.  Amen

9.07.2010

Simplify Your Holidays With A Christmas Notebook

Simplify Your Holidays With A Christmas Notebook

Here's the link to Organized Home's Christmas website. There is a wealth of information that is practical and usable (is that a real word? hmmm). Anyway...maybe this will help all of us enjoy a more peaceful, stress free holiday season this year.

Thoughts on Be Perfect

THOUGHTS FROM THE HEART: Yesterday I began a devotional by Andrew Murray titled Be Perfect.  The prayer at the beginning of the book seemed to have been written from my heart.  My heart's desire couldn't have been expressed so perfectly; even if I had written the prayer myself.  I pray that you too find yourself praying along with heartfelt sincerity.
"Ever blessed Father! Thou hast sent me a message by Thy beloved Son that I am to be perfect as Thou art. Coming from Thee, O Thou incomprehensible and most glorious God, it means more than man can grasp. Coming to Thee, I ask that Thou wouldst Thyself teach me what it means, work in me what it claims, give me what it promises.
My Father! I accept the word in the obedience of faith. I would yield my life to its rule. I would hide it in my heart as a living seed, in the assurance that there, deeper than thought or feeling, Thy Holy Spirit can make it strike root and grow up.
And as I go through Thy Word, to meditate on what it says of the path of the perfect, teach me, O my Father, to bring every thought of mine captive to the obedience of Christ, and to wait for that teaching of Thy Holy Spirit which is so sure to the upright in heart. In Him with whom Thou hast sent me the message, give me the answer to this prayer too. Amen."
These highlighted passages are some that I find myself reading over and over again. There is so much to learn of walking by faith even in this one prayer!  How much my heart and life may be changed as learn of being perfect while reading this book.  The author ends Chapter One with several questions.  "Can God say of me as of Noah and Job, of David and Asa, that my heart is perfect with the Lord my God? Have I given myself up to say that there must be nothing, nothing whatever, to share my heart with God and His will? Is a heart perfect with the Lord my God the object of my desire, my prayer, my faith, my hope?"   I invite you to join me on the journey of "being perfect" as my Father in heaven is perfect.  (italics and underlining mine)
GARDEN NEWS: Little one has harvested her peas!! How excited we all were!  Three little pea pods brought great excitement and joy to our home this afternoon as my four-year-old daughter tasted the first pea from her pea plants.  More beans were picked this afternoon and several tomatoes too---YEA!!!  I might get a pint of sauce.  That would be better than none.  Next week will see me planting Hollyhock seeds and any other flowers that will be better off going in this fall. 
KITCHEN HAPPENINGS: While we haven't quite gotten once a month cooking down pat, progress is definitely being made.  Extras are regularly being made and placed in the freezer for meals later on.  What a blessing this new practice has been to our family.  Not only does it use less financial resources, having something ready to grab and heat up removes loads of stress and frees up time as well.  Not every new idea is one that we use again, but making extra food and freezing for later use is a keeper.  I just can't explain the wonderful freedom not wondering what to have for supper gives. Our sister blog, Living Large on Less, will have more articles on once a month cooking coming in the future. I will try and include a heads up here on A Mother's Reward when they are posted so you can head on over to read them.
HOLIDAY HARVEST: Harvest and Holidays are some of our family's favorite times of year.  As a matter of fact, the past couple of days have seen me taking a few minutes to stroll through a favorite Christmas book for this year's gift ideas.  Yes, I already have two "definitely doing this" ideas picked out.  How do you get ready for Holiday gift-giving at your house?  If this year's Holiday season finds you wanting or needing to be more organized in your planning, the planners at http://organizedhome.com/ may be just what you're looking for.  There is a Christmas/Holiday planner available for free download and printing. 
ON THE HOME FRONT: Transitioning into a new season seems to heighten my decorating senses, or maybe it's just an excuse to switch out our home's accessories.  Either way, I've been looking through the magazines with an eye towards what I can do in my house.  Catalogs are great places to find new inspiration for decorating the home.  I may not purchase the expensive furniture in the catalog, but I bet I can find some awesome ideas for accessorizing my rooms with items I already have.  "I never thought about using that to decorate with." is a comment I often make while looking through catalogs.  So go ahead, sign up to receive some of the many free catalogs available, even if you don't have the resources to make purchases.  Ideas and inspiration are waiting inside, just for you.  Some of my favorite idea givers are Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Ballard Designs, & Ikea. Speaking of Ikea, they have some really, really reasonable prices on basic housekeeping items. 
I think that catches us up on all of our visits from the past couple of weeks.  Several topics have been thrown out in our little chats and I didn't want to leave too many loose ends flying around.  Please feel free to leave a comment on the blog anytime you want to.  All comments are welcome.  I want to send an extra special thank you to Jessica, my sis-in-love for sharing the fun ideas and picture.  If you missed those posts, they can be found in the archives listed on the right-hand side of the blog.  
We'll say good-bye with another quote from Be Perfect by Andrew Murray.  "Make the promise of God's Word your own: 'The God of peace himself perfect you.' The God, who is of power to do above all we ask or think, will open up to you the blessed prospect of a life of which He shall say: 'His heart was perfect with the Lord his God.' "
*As always, all websites, books, catalogs mentioned in this post are simply suggestions.  I am not receiving any kickbacks or reimbursements for mentioning them. 


--

9.05.2010

Apple cupcake picture


Jessica, my sis-in-love sent us a picture of the apple cupcake idea listed in last week's post.  Thank you Jess for sharing your great results with us.  Makes me want to go make some cupcakes! 
 
Have any pictures of other Fall projects?  Send 'em in!  The rest of us love new inspiration. 
 
Even though it isn't officially Fall/Autumn yet, the weather doesn't seem to know that it's supposed to wait until the 21st to be Fall.  It's definitely Fall out there.  It smells like Fall, looks like Fall, and we're ready for it to taste like Fall too.  There have been enough chilly mornings for me to start thinking about throwing together a batch of hot cocoa mix.  Autumn decorations in the magazines have me itching to get out our seasonal items.  How about you?  What preparations for the Autumn season are taking place at your house?  Do you have a favorite hot drink that you enjoy?  Special decorating traditions? 
 
Every year I like to try something new along with our favorite standbys.  This year, I hope to find lots and lots of acorns to decorate with.  Better Homes & Gardens latest issue shared several ideas for acorns that sparked my interest.  As usual, the decorations that intrigue me most are those using items scavenged from nature such as leaves, twigs, pinecones,  and acorns.  What I really want to do is toss a bunch of acorns in an old wooden dough bowl and set it out.  However...I don't have an old wooden dough bowl so I'm considering making a rustic twig basket tray and filling it instead.  I'm also tossing around the idea of spray painting some acorns and stringing together with preserved leaves into a garland.  That's still a maybe though---not a definite.  That creative bug that hits every Fall is definitely beginning to bite, and I'm eager to get started.   So, please send in your favorite Fall ideas and pictures.  Our holiday chat is starting early. 
 

 
 
 

9.03.2010

Doing It Again

I've been doing it again.  That age old habit of comparing myself to others.  When will I learn that all I ever have to be is what He made me?  Looking forward to visiting more next week.  Have a blessed weekend with Jesus!  Blessed Mama

9.01.2010

Garden Updates & Visions of Fall

Good Evening!  Our pantry shelves are beginning to fill up with jars of home-canned green beans.  Three pickings have provided enough beans for 20 quarts, and there's another 9 quarts in the process of being canned right now.  God is so good.  Earlier in the season the beans were growing so slowly that I was praying for them to mature rapidly.  Now the girls are ready to be done picking.  (They've only just begun)  Tomatoes too have begun to ripen.  While their progress isn't as speedy as that of the beans, I have enjoyed their little bites of sunshine very much.  It's even looking as if our corn may provide us with ears to eat as well.  It was so tiny on July 4th that we wondered if it would be tassling before frost.  How very blessed we are!  Oh yes, can't forget to share the update on our little four-year-old's pea patch.  Her two little pea plants each have two little pods growing on them.  The funny thing about this is that it may be that all of us big kids are more excited than the peas' planter is about those two pea plants with their pods.  We had all hoped so much for her pea plants to grow and produce for her that we're the ones excited about those few little pods hanging in the garden.  It makes me think of the verse that says "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life." (Prov. 13:12) AMP

What's going on in your garden?  If you don't have a garden of your own this year feel free to share about a favorite from years past or a gardening story.  Just comment on this post or send me an email.  I'll make sure and get it on the blog for today's visit.  I found a gardening plan to pass on.  I'll end our chat with it. 

FOR THE GARDEN OF YOUR DAILY LIVING

PLANT THREE ROWS OF PEAS:

  1. Peace of mind

  2. Peace of heart

  3. Peace of soul
PLANT FOUR ROWS OF SQUASH:

  1. Squash gossip

  2. Squash indifference

  3. Squash grumbling

  4. Squash selfishness
PLANT FOUR ROWS OF LETTUCE:

  1. Lettuce be faithful

  2. Lettuce be kind

  3. Lettuce be patient

  4. Lettuce really love one another
NO GARDEN IS WITHOUT TURNIPS

  1. Turnip for meetings

  2. Turnip for service

  3. Turnip to help one another
TO CONCLUDE OUR GARDEN WE MUST HAVE THYME:

  1. Thyme for each other

  2. Thyme for family

  3. Thyme for friends
WATER FREELY WITH PATIENCE AND CULTIVATE WITH LOVE.  THERE IS MUCH FRUIT IN YOUR GARDEN BECAUSE YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW.