2.25.2011

Review on Using Canned Beans

Good Morning!  While Not of This World cans dried beans for Grammie,  I'm going to send out a quick review.  New living large on less skills are handy, but finding out how a skill works in real life will often assist us in deciding whether to attempt something new.  Just in case you may have been trying to decide whether canning dried beans at home is for you or not, I'm sending out this review. 

After several months of using home-canned dried beans, here's the scoop:  They are wonderful!  They are handy, efficient, nutritious, and Yuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmy.  When comparing home-canned beans to store bought beans, the home-canned beans outshine the store bought version in every area. 

I really wish I had a cost comparison all figured out to share, but I don't.  This right-brained girl shuts down on things like that. It will take me a while to put one together too.  (Perhaps a future post in the making) What I do know is that while some would have the investment of jars, lids, rings, and a pressure cooker, everything except the lids can be used time and time again.  So technically, the initial investment more than pays for itself over time.  Not only that, any leftover supplies and the pressure cooker can be used in the canning of other products, even nuts can be canned.  Can someone say Christmas presents?  (That's another post for the future)

OK, let's sum this home-canned dried bean experience up. 

  • Taste - superior
  • Convenience - superior
  • Nutrition - superior
  • Cost - super economical
  • Investment - extremely worthwhile
  • Total experience - satisfactory in every way
Review submitted by Blessed Mama



 

20 years

Two days ago, on Wednesday, My Beloved and I celebrated 20 years of marriage.  The mind can't help but take a walk down memory lane on occasions such as this.  Twenty years!  A lot of living takes place in twenty years.  A lot of laughing, a lot of crying, some fighting, six children, at least seven moves, numerous pets, and hopefully...a whole lot of growing up :)  It also makes a person think about love and what true love really is.  The fairytale expectations and rose-colored images have long since faded from view.  Visions of cold, hard reality have entered the scene turning the unrealistic expectations of a 19-year-old teenager into the fond desires of a 39-year-old woman.

 The question many young lovers ponder is whether or not fairy tales come true.  After twenty years of marriage the answer I would have to offer would state that a loving marriage is rarely the stuff fairy tales are made of, often it's better.  True love is so much more than wild, untamed passion, flowers, and romantic rendevous.  There is a richness, a sweetness, a depth that develops through the years.  Lovers who have stood together braving the storms of life, fighting the fight of Faith, and remaining true to the Lord and each other through the worst and the best of times become more than lovers.  They become friends of the very best kind. 

So, here's to twenty years of marriage with many more to come!  "I am My Beloved's and He is mine.  His banner over me is love."  Song of Solomon

2.16.2011

Waste Not Wednesday---It's Warm!

Hi There!  It's warm enough to go without a coat outside today!  The warm and sunny weather is so rejuvenating and inspiring that I couldn't resist sending out a quick, little Waste Not Wednesday post.  Spring will soon be here.  When thinking of Spring one's thoughts immediately turn to green grass, warm breezes, flowers, and Easter.  Knowing that Winter may very well have another storm or two before leaving, it's still not too early to think "Spring".  If you, like me, are ready for more than a little teasing taste of warm weather, today's post may provide that blush of green to get you through until Spring has actually sprung for real.

Today we are going to plant some grass, but not outside.  That's right.  We are going to find a container and plant ourselves some springtime cheer.  Any container will work, a basket, tin can, wooden tray, box, bowl, teacup, anything.  Just make sure the container chosen is washable or can be recycled in some way; it will have potting soil in it.  Once the container is chosen, fill with potting soil, sprinkle soil with grass seed of choice, and water.  In approx. 10 days to two weeks, a blush of green will begin sweeping over the container top as grass begins growing.  Just like a lawn, the grass will need regular watering and trimming. 
The only thing left to do will be to enjoy. 

Before I head on out to hang some more laundry on the line, it's perfect weather for hanging bed linens out, I want to toss out a reminder that now is the time to begin preparing for spring gardens.  Growing food for the family is one of the hottest money-saving suggestions out there right now.  Garden-growing tips, ideas, and products abound both on and off line.  If growing the garden from seed, we at Living Large on less would like to suggest investing in vegetable seeds that will produce vegetables and fruit from which seeds can be harvested and saved for next year's planting.  Purchasing heirloom or non-hybrid seeds may cost more initially, but will save in the long run.  Using this type of seed means you won't ever have to purchase seeds again, unless you are adding new types of produce to your garden.  Purchase once, use as long as you wish, now that's Living Large on Less.

Laundry time!  The clothesline is calling my name.  We've got to get together for visiting more often.  There are so many Living Large on Less ideas for us to talk about, and Not of This World has some amazing photos to share!  Oh, by the way, thank you Grandma for sending birthday love to Not of This World in response to the secret birthday post we sent out.  She was surprised.  For those who missed out on the birthday surprise, feel free to send some extra love that way anytime at youcanlivelargeonless@gmail.com

Also...Living Large on Less will be meeting with all of its contributors, and some new, to brainstorm and organize posts for the coming year.  If there is any topic you would like to see or know more about, please feel free to send information, ideas, tips, advice, questions, or any other comments to youcanlivelargeonless@gmail.com.  We love hearing from readers and would like to know what interests you.  Talk to you later, Blessed Mama

Giveaway!!!

Good Morning!  The Nester is hosting a giveaway over at the The Nesting Place.  It's for a shopping spree!  You won't want to miss out on this one.  Feel free to click on the button in the right hand sidebar to go visiting and leave a comment to enter.  There are some majorly cute items to purchase if you win. 

2.12.2011

Fabulous Friday & Valentine's

Fabulous Friday---a day late.  Have I mentioned that the beginning of the new year found me with an urge to decorate our home?  That "do something new and different" bug didn't just bite me in the decorating department either.  That rascally little bugger just plain bit me.  Every area of my life was turned upside down and right side up again as I spent the first few weeks of the new year unpacking and organizing  various areas around the home. 
 
With Valentine's Day rapidly approaching (2 more days), I want to share my favorite Valentine. Ever.  Using a piece of limestone rock from my great grandparents farm, My Beloved carved our initials inside of a heart into the rock and filled in the carved area with black paint so they could be seen. I.LOVE.IT!  Of course the obvious reason why I love it is because My Beloved made it for me himself.  The next reason why I love it is because I get to see it every day.  I'm not left wondering what to do with it or how to preserve it as I am with other traditional Valentines.  Every single day I get to see a visual reminder of My Beloved's love for me.  It also fits in perfectly with our Rustic Random Elegance decor.  (How do you like the name invented to describe our decorating style?)
 
Are you one of the many last minute loved ones wondering what to get your sweetheart for Valentine's Day---before Monday?  Does the thought of purchasing the traditional box of candy or big shiny balloon bore you?  Are you without any extra moolah to buy something?  It's definitely time to think outside of the traditional Valentine box.  Consider creating a one-of-kind love note.  Don't have carvable rock laying around?  What do you have?  Look around.  A visually appealing log with your initials carved out might provide the perfect spark.  Painting your message of love on smooth rocks or single word messages on larger pebbles are other options as well. 
 
Your Valentine not into decorating with natural objects? Non-traditional Valentines come in many different forms and sizes.  For the sake of time and space, this post will only list a few: 
  • "I Love You" spelled out in lights in the yard outside, 
  • a Valentine cut-out backlit in the front yard (early morning or late evening is best for this one), * further instructions can be obtained via email youcanlivelargeonless@gmail.com
  • a candle-lit bubble bath prepared and waiting (rose petals could be scattered around), ice/snow sculpture,
  • using a spray bottle filled with food-colored water, spray Valentine's message in snow in yard (make it BIG),
  • a basket filled with special indulgences personally selected just for the recipient,
  • a coupon promising to only use a sweet, loving voice and discuss pleasant topics for the entire day (we ought to do this anyway-gotta start somewhere-might as well be on Valentine's),
  • a love letter (write it yourself using your own handwriting),
  • put together a CD featuring favorite songs, even if it isn't your favorite music
  • make slideshow on the computer of you and your Beloved - your favorite song could be added as background music,
  • a candlelit picnic of your favorite (non-messy) finger foods spread out on the living room floor.(make sure there are plenty of pillows and cushions to lean on for comfort)
  • pack of scrapbook supplies for a scrapper.
  • Heart-shaped food - your Valentine's favorites of course
  • A champagne bucket of milk on ice with champagne glasses.  Make sure not to forget the cookies to nibble as you sip your milk.
No matter how you convey your affections on Valentine's and throughout the year, consider thinking outside the box of tradition and tell your Beloved "I Love You. You are important to me." in a way that means most to them.  The best traditions were begun when someone did something that hadn't ever been done before.  Here's to Living Large on Less fabulously, even on Valentine's Day.  Blessed Mama
 
 
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2.10.2011

"If My People..." A Cry for Repentance

"The Lord does not delay and is not tardy or slow about what He promises, according to some people's conception of slowness, but He is long-suffering (extraordinarily patient) toward you, not desiring that any should perish, but that all should turn to repentance."

II Peter 3:9 AMP

"Therefore say to them [the Jews of this day], Thus says the Lord of hosts: Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you; it is the utterance of the Lord of hosts."

Zechariah 1:3 AMP

"Rend your hearts and not your garments and return to the Lord, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in loving-kindness; and He revokes His sentence of evil [when His conditions are met]."

Joel 2:13 AMP

"If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and forgive their sin, and heal their land."

II Chronicles 7:14 AMP

The following is an excerpt from the Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall and David Manuel

"It is a sobering experience to look closely at our history and see just how highly God regarded what can only be called "a right heart attitude." One finds long droughts broken by a settlement's deliberately fasting and humbling itself, turning back to the God whom they once trusted and had imperceptibly begun to take for granted. One also finds instances of one settlement being spared from Indian attack, while another is decimated, when the only apparent difference seemed to be in their heart attitude towards God and one another.

Whenever we began to wonder if we might not be "shoehorning" history to fit our presuppositions, we had the recorded beliefs of the settlers themselves as a guide. And in page after page of private diary or public proclamation, the immediate response to any disaster, human or natural, was "Where do we need to repent?" In fact, there seemed to be a continuing, almost predictable cycle: in great need and humility, a small body of Christians would put themselves into the hands of their Lord and commit their lives to one another. They would do their best to live together as He had called them to live. And He, in turn, would begin to pour out His blessing on them with health, peace, and bounteous harvests. But as they grew affluent, they would also become proud or complacent or self-righteous.

Nonetheless, the blessing would continue unabated, sometimes for generations, as God continued to honor the obedience of their fathers and grandfathers (Deuteronomy 7:9). But inevitably, because He loved them (and because God's patience has an end), He would be forced to lift the grace which lay upon their land, just enough to cause them to turn back to Him. A drought, or an epidemic of smallpox, or an Indian uprising would come, and the wisest among them would remember….Like the prophets of old, they would call the people to repentance. And if there was a true and lasting change in their heart attitudes, God would forgive their sins, and His grace would be returned.

That a drought could be broken, or an Indian attack averted, by corporate repentance is an idea which sounds alien to many Christians today. Yet it was central to the faith which built this country, and is one of the most prominent, recurring themes in the Bible….This was the linchpin to God's plan for America: that we see ourselves, individually and corporately, in a state of continuing need of God's forgiveness, mercy, and support."

Reading these words aloud in school today, the impression that repentance is the only hope of change for America implanted itself in my heart and seems to be settling in for a stay. Way back in 2007 God began bringing the words of II Chronicles 7:14 "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray….and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land." (Emphasis mine) to mind, often. The impression that Americans need to repent for the sins of their nation has returned repeatedly throughout these past four years.

As I read about repentance releasing the redemptive power of God over a nation and how God's favor would continue unabated for generations of the unfaithful all because of the faithfulness of previous generations, I found myself looking at my children gathered around me. We are a group of believers who believe in and understand the covenant between God and followers of Christ. The question I now hear myself being asked is if it is true that the groups of believers gathered together in repentance need not be large, and history proves this to be so, then what is left to hinder God's redemptive power from once more being experienced in this nation? Could not we, as a family devoted to Christ, repent for the sins of America? Would not God, in His rich mercy and loving-kindness hear, see, and know that there are still people who strive to walk in covenant with Him according to His Word?

Right on the heels of my heart-led wonderings more rushed in. Our family isn't the only family of covenant believers in Christ in America. What would happen if every family of faithful Christians in American made a decision to obey the Word of the Lord, follow the example of those saints who have gone on before, bow their knees, seek the face of God, and turn from their wicked ways in true, sincere, repentance? Would not the hand of God move across this nation? Would not the love of God be revealed in a mighty miraculous way in this land?

I believe it would. I believe with all of my heart that just as God called Israel to turn their back on sin and follow Him with their entire being, that just as He led the early settlers of America to do likewise, He is calling out to Christians in America right now to do the same.

America is tottering on the brink of a dangerous precipice. Yet no matter how overwhelming the wickedness and evil sweeping through the land seems, the goodness of God is greater still. Remember, "If His people who are called by His name…" Today I say as Joshua did in chapter, 24 and verse 15 "… choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you swell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

What about you, dear reader? Whom do you serve? Has the truth of Jesus Christ and the Father's love for you been made plain to you? Do you know that God loves you so much that He sent His son Jesus to earth to live as a man? Did anyone ever tell you that Jesus died on a cross and was beaten beyond recognition as a human to pay the price for your sins and mine? Has it been told to you that because Jesus did this, those who believe in Him and receive this gift of salvation are set free from the curse of the law of sin and death and can live in the righteousness of God? I pray that every one reading this post knows Jesus and is a child of God. However, as long as there is even a remote possibility that someone might not know and love God, I would be honored to introduce you to Him right now. If you long to know and be known by God, who is love, follow along with me in prayer: God, I know that I am a sinner. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He came to earth as a man, died on the cross to set me free, rose from the dead three days later, and is now at the right hand of God. I confess Jesus as Lord. Thank You for saving me and making me complete in Christ Jesus. In Jesus' name, Amen.

**********

Did you just pray along with me? If you did, you are now a child of the Most High God. You have just entered into a covenant of love with the Creator of the Universe. Welcome to the family of God! What now? You just began a relationship with God. In order to have a good relationship, those involved in it spend time together getting to know one another. God already knows you completely. However, most of us bring quite a few incorrect ideas about God into our relationship with Him. You may have some of those yourself. The more time you spend getting to know God, the truer your opinion of Him will become. The best way to know Him? Begin reading His Word, the Bible. Don't have one? Head on over to

www.biblegateway.com. This website provides several different translations of the Bible. Read through several of the translations. When you find one that is easiest for you to understand, begin reading in earnest. The book of John found in the New Testament is a common place for new believers to begin reading.

Here are some verses that go along with today's post: (Please feel free to look them up and study them for yourself.)

John 3:14-18

John 1:5

John 1:12, 14

Romans 8

Romans 8:35

Believers of Jesus gather together to worship the Lord in many places. As they spend time studying the Bible and praying together, they are encouraged and their faith is strengthened. Because there are so many different groups of Christians finding a group to be a part of can seem overwhelming. As difficult as it may be to find a group of faithful believers to meet with, please make the effort to look until one has been found. Most areas have more than one Bible teaching church to attend. The location and/or size of the church does not matter. The most important thing is that they believe Jesus is the Son of God, the only way to be saved, and that they teach the entire Bible. Sadly, there are groups of Christians who only believe portions of the Bible rather than all of it. Yes, a church or body of believers may possess a hypocrite or two, maybe more. Don't allow that to discourage you. Christians are real people doing real life together. They are not perfect; they're saved. Just like you, other believers in Christ are works in progress. Learning what it means to be a Christian and how to live like Jesus takes time. We must all be patient with each other and encourage one another.

Would you like more information than what I've been able to share here? Feel free to visit one or more of the following websites. These ministries have been a tremendous help and encouragement to our family:

www.kcm.org

www.jdm.org
 


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2.09.2011

Red and Yellow Onion skin dye

This is the yellow onion skin dye. In this one we were dyeing two dish towels. One was white and the other was off white.
I have a bad habit of forgetting to take before and after pictures. Usually I end up doing one or the other but rarely both. However, on this project I forgot both and only ended up with the in the middle pictures.
This is the red onion dye.
On their own these dyes faded quite a bit after just a few washes. That wasn't a problem for us since it was just an attempt to cover the stained look of the towels, and we weren't particularly fond of the results of the yellow dye. The fading of the towels actually made the color not as bad as it was at first. It is just a personal preference.
For us once dried the towels dyed in the yellow dye turned out as an intense mustardy sort of color. Less orange and more yellowish than the picture. The napkin in the red onion dye ended up looking like a brownish tan with a slight reddish hue. Although the water in your area might affect the color, don't know for sure but it is something to consider.
This is another picture of the yellow dye.
How we created dye from onion skins:
  • Rub off the dry outer skins of as many onions off that color as you want to or as you have. The more skins the stronger the color.
  • Place the skins in a saucepan and just barely cover with water.
  • Cook on low heat stirring every once in awhile for a few hours. The cooking time just depends on what you want the color to be. We just cooked it until the color looked like we wanted it too. If you wanted an exact time you could probably Google it in to see. Make sure your water doesn't cook away too much.
  • Once done cooking allow to cool slightly and then strain out skins. Discard skins in compost.
  • Place items to be dyed in the dye making sure they are covered with dye. If they stick out a little just make sure you stir and turn the item every so often to ensure that it is dyed evenly.
  • Let items soak in the dye until desired color is reached.
  • Once desired color has been reached rinse items under cold water and dry. If you don't line dry them you will not want to add anything else to the dryer with them, just for the first drying. They can be washed and dried just like anything else after that.

Have fun experimenting!

Even though we ended up not liking the colors all that much, it was really fun to have created our own dyes from natural things we grew ourselves and I definitely want to try making dyes from other natural items such as walnuts and berries. After doing project like these it just show that the simple things are the most fun.

2.03.2011

Beef Stew

Waaaaay back sometime ago, I said I was going to let you know how canning beef stew turned out. Well, it turned out okay. Alright, I will just say it, the stew was really blah. Not something you would just dump out of the jar and heat. It definitely needed more seasonings or flavor of some sort.The "stew" ended up being more of a soup or pot pie base. Having the "stew" canned has been pretty handy though.
What I did was take a roast that was a tougher cut and cubed it into roughly 1 1/2 - inch cubes. I next gathered up a bunch of little new potatoes, home grown carrots, and little onions (about the size of a rubber bouncy ball). These were washed and some of the larger potatoes and carrots were cut in half so that they were all a fairly uniform size. The onions were just peeled and left whole. I would have put whole garlic cloves in but ours weren't ready yet, so I used minced garlic instead. I didn't measure out the meat and vegetables. Another super technical way was used to achieve the right amount. Just kidding, I added potatoes and carrots were until I thought it looked like the right ratio of meat to vegetables. The recipe(Beef Stew with vegetables in the Ball Blue Book guide to home canning) I was kind of going by called for celery but most in our family do not care for it in their stew, so celery was omitted.
Now for what I did with the ingredients.
  • The meat was browned in a little oil.
  • Vegetables were added to the meat and both were seasoned with salt and pepper.
  • Meat and vegetables were then covered with boiling water*
  • Then the stew was brought to a boil.

The hot stew was then ladled into hot jars leaving a 1-inch head space. I processed the quarts for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 10 pounds pressure in a steam-pressure canner.

That's it. Although it didn't end up being as stew like as I wanted it wasn't that bad. It just needed a bit more flavor.
*Once I had everything ready to cook I realized that I had way more than what would fit in our largest skillet. I ended up doing the stew in about three batches and dumping each batch into a stock pot then bringing to a boil.
- Not of This World

Burned Biscuits


The following story was sent to me via email.  I have no idea who the author is, but am sure that it's message can be appreciated by us all.  May the truth of Burned Biscuits burn itself deep within our hearts so that we think less of ourselves and more of those around us.  I would love to send out a thank you to the father in this story, whoever he is, for being an example of true love to those around him.  Abundantly Blessed

 

Burned Biscuits
(author unknown)

When I was a kid, my Mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner every
now and then. And I remember one night in particular when she had made
breakfast after a long, hard day at work. On that evening so long ago,
my Mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage, and extremely burned  biscuits in
front of my Dad. I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed! Yet all
my Dad did was reach for his biscuit, smile at my Mom and ask me how my
day was at school. I don't remember what I told him that night, but I
do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that  biscuit and eat
every bite!

When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing my Mom
apologize to my Dad for burning the biscuits. And I'll never forget
what he said: "Honey, I love burned biscuits."

Later that night, I went to kiss Dad good night and I asked him if he
really liked his biscuits burned. He wrapped me in his arms and said,
"Your Momma put in a hard day at work today and she's real tired. And
besides, a little burned biscuit never hurt anyone!"

Life is full of imperfect things and imperfect people. I'm not the
best at hardly anything, and I forget birthdays and anniversaries just
like everyone else. But what I've learned over the years is that
learning to accept each other's faults - and choosing to celebrate each
others differences - is one  of the most important keys to creating a
healthy, growing, and lasting relationship.

And that's my prayer for you today. That you will learn to take the
good, the bad, and the ugly parts of your life and lay them at the feet
of God.  Because in the end, He's the only One who will be able to give
you a relationship where a burnt biscuit isn't a deal-breaker!

We could extend this to any relationship. In fact, understanding is the
base of any relationship, be it a husband-wife or parent-child or
friendship!

"Don't put the key to your happiness in someone else's pocket - keep
it in your own."

So please pass me a biscuit, and yes, the burned one will do just fine.


Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some
kind of battle.


"Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil - it has no point."
            . . . and also unprepared to be of use and fulfill its purpose!




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