Homemade Soda Pop

The warm breezes of spring are blowing right now. Along with warmer weather comes a thirst for ice tea and pop (a.k.a. soda). Here are a few recipes for soda pop that can be made at home. Until discovering variations of these recipes online, I had no idea “pop” could be made so easily at home. Remember that ingredients can be substituted to fit your pantry and taste. Relish the freedom to experiment and enjoy at will.

Citrus Quencher
3/4 cup sugar
8 C. water
1/4 cup baking soda
3-4 citrus fruit, juiced (oranges, limes, or lemons)
Boil sugar and water until the sugar is dissolved. Chill syrup thoroughly. Stir in baking soda. Leave room for overflow! Add sugar syrup to iced glasses. Just before serving, add orange juice to each glass. The citric acid will activate the baking soda resulting in extra special fun for children! Note: May want to prepare this one outside.
Citrus Quench immediately brought thoughts of bridal and baby celebrations to mind. I think it would also provide a delightful warm weather drink for an afternoon gathering of friends or teatime.

Fruit Fizzies

                    2 cups fresh fruit such as strawberries, berries, peaches, pineapple, grapes
                    1 cup sugar
                    8 C. water
                    2 liters carbonated soda water
Boil first three ingredients to create a syrup. Strain through cheesecloth or a mesh strainer. Remember to strain liquid into a container. You don’t want to lose your soda down the drain. Chill in fridge. Pour syrup over ice, then top with soda. Can add approx. 2 T. half- &-half and top with whipped cream. Fruit can be chosen by season.

Having two children with summer birthdays, I was captured by the thoughts of the vibrant colors and refreshing natural sweetness Fruit Fizzies would provide. Can’t you just see a birthday table for a little man popping with vibrant reds and/or blues of strawberries and blueberries and the delicate blush that peaches would lend to a princess’ party?
All I can say about the following Vanilla Cream recipe is “I want one. Right now.” Does anyone have a carbonated soda on hand? This one says, “Grown up time” to me. I am thinking that this might be nice alongside an evening with just My Beloved and I. Then again, it could also be the perfect beverage to accompany that book I’m working my way through. Wonder what it would taste like if I switched out the almond extract for some caramel extract instead?

Vanilla Cream
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp almond extract
3 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp cream
8 oz carbonated soda water
In a tall glass, mix everything except the soda water. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
Add ice and stir in soda water.

More DIY soda recipes can be found online. Consider today’s post a jumping off place for a fun springtime adventure. Experimenting during spring will ensure perfection in time for summertime enjoyment, and think how yummy this experimenting will be.


Streams of Living Water

Here is my disclaimer: Everything published to this blog is done so out of love, deep love. None of the following content has been posted out of personal opinions or motives. It has been shared as a result of the prompting of the Holy Spirit. What you are about to read may or may not match the denominational doctrines of churches you are acquainted with. It does however line up completely with the Bible, God’s Word. Because I use the Word of God as my standard for truth, I make no apologies for these truths. If the following truths contradict personal or church beliefs, that is a personal issue of you the reader. Hate comments and/or email will not be published or replied to.


Satan is a liar! That’s right, there is a real devil. There are also demons and other spiritual beings of darkness. They exist. No, the battle between right and wrong, good and evil, light and darkness is not, I repeat not, an equal battle. God and His goodness are far greater than the devil and darkness. God wins. He has already won. That’s what Jesus did. What Jesus did for us at Calvary was SO much more than just giving us a free get out of hell card.

I grew up knowing that Jesus died for my sins, that He took the stripes for my healing. I didn’t realize that there was more, much, much more. The longer I live, the more I discover that I am not the only believer in Christ unaware of the completeness of what Jesus did for us. Salvation is about way more than whether or not we go to heaven or hell. Healing isn’t the only other provision either. It provides for every area of our lives. Literally every, single area. Our health, our finances, our peace of mind, protection, everything. Jesus freed us from the curse of the law of sin and death! That is good news!

The more I learn of this freedom Christ purchased for me with His blood and the stripes, the more passionate I become in my quest to know Him more. As the depth and fullness of His love towards me is realized and experienced, the more deeply and fully I long to extend His love to those around me. The deeper I get in Him, the less of me there is to see, and I am glad, oh so glad.

If you didn’t already know it, God is good! Truly He is. He is everything He said He is in the Bible. Together, let’s read it, let’s study it, let’s give ourselves permission to believe it’s every word. Let’s take being “All In” as we talked about in a previous post, seriously and let God blow the box of religious ideas and faulty theology apart in our lives. God in us can change the world. God in us will change us, and what a change it will be. He gives beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Isaiah 61:3. Verses one and two of Isaiah 61 say “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord [the year of His favor] and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,”

Others are longing with desperation to hear good tidings such as these. Their hearts are panting from thirst for the goodness of God in their lives. Only Jesus can quench their thirst, but I can allow the rivers of living water springing up from my innermost being (John 7:38) to flow out in a refreshing, flowing stream of Him wherever I go. Oh that a rushing river of love, grace, and mercy will flow from my life sweeping away the works of darkness and washing others with the love of God.


Still Reading? Do Tell


Reading anything new? It’s time to grab a cup of tea and settle in for another book share. Thank you to everyone who joined in the discussion last month. Won’t it be fun to hear new voices each month?

In order to avoid bogging down, I’m going to mention several of the books I have been reading, instead of just one. Shadow Boxing by Dr. Henry Malone - an excellent book revealing open doors that allow satan access into our lives and how to close those doors for good. The Blessing of the Lord by Kenneth Copeland - I wanted to read this book all over again before finishing the first chapter! Bro. Copeland reveals the truth of The Blessing. This book is so full that I don’t know where to begin. Breaking the cycle of Family Curses Free At Last! by Larry Huch - the title pretty much tells all. Reading this book together with Shadow Boxing was a great experience. Combine the freedom gained through the truth in these books with the revelation of The Blessing, and life has no choice but to change. Add the book by Mark &  Patti Virkler 4 Keys to Hearing God’s Voice and Wow! Hang on for the ride of your life!

Holding its own alongside all of those other life-impacting reads is Reordering Your Day - Understanding and Embracing the Four Prayer Watches by Dr. Chuck D. Pierce. Last, but certainly not least, is Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp. This is one of those ongoing reads that probably won’t exit the list for several years. I might have to get a new copy before I’m done.

After last month’s discussion, I realized that there are a lot of other books I read that don’t get mentioned, the books I read to the children. If you were to sneak into our home without our knowing, here are some of the stories that might reach your ears: Raggedy Ann and Andy and the Came With the Wrinkled Knees, other Raggedy Ann and Andy books, The Nature People, Grammarland, Alice in Bibleland books, a large assortment of early readers, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, and many other volumes of children’s literature, much of it from years gone by. Winnie the Pooh and Beatrix Potter are favorites who repeatedly show up as are many of the stories from a Treasury of 20th Century Children’s Literature. Of course, we can’t leave out Good Night Moon or Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. These two are our family favorites. The oldest down to the youngest like to read these all time favorites.

 What are your family favorites? If one were to sneak a listen in your house during reading time, what would they hear? Share the answer(s) in a comment, please do.


What a Mess!

Hi There! I just got back from a stroll through the blog. I hadn't been through since the merger with A Mother's Rewards. All I can say is what a Mess! There are duplicate posts and typos galore! I am so sorry about this. Please know that I will be doing my best to clean up this mess before too much time has passed. Hopefully, posts that were said to be coming will actually show up and irrelevant postings from A Mother's Rewards removed.

In the meantime, here is a money-saving FREEBIE for those with kiddos ready to learn to read or those whose preschool-early elementary aged little ones would enjoy some fun supplementation.
Reading Lessons can be found at http://readinglessons.com.This website contains EVERYTHING needed to teach a child, or adult, to read. Complete, step by step lesson plans are available online as well as for download and/or to print. Accompanying resources are also included for free printing along with links to other free resources used with lessons. Each week contains daily lessons complete with instructions and resources, ALL FOR FREE. The only drawback that I have found is that some of the pictures used in the extra resources aren’t very friendly looking. For instance, Giggle commented this morning that the dog on the rhyming worksheet looked “rude”. She was right. Since we don’t use this program exclusively, this doesn’t affect our school. I simply don’t use the resources that contain “rude” or unpleasant graphics. Other than that, this website is a teacher/parents dream come true, complete curriculum and manipulative all in one place at no cost. Oh yes, I almost forgot! A number of the lessons also include songs from the Kididdles website. They are children’s classics used to enhance various lessons throughout the program. Lyric sheets and listening links are included.

Another freebie for learning to read is the two week free trial found at http://readingeggs.com. Giggle adores this one. A lot can be accomplished in two weeks. Not only that, Reading Eggs will extend your free trial an extra two weeks for every friend you recommend who signs up for their own free trial. Best of all, no credit card is needed to sign up for the free trial! How good is that? Reading Eggs is a really fun way to learn to read AND learn computer navigating skills like click and drag. Our mouse is a bit large for Giggle’s hand. An Ipad type device would make using this program easier, at least I think it would. We haven’t tried it to see for certain.

That’s our money-saving FREEBIE for today. If you come across any other online resources and/or services available for FREE, they can be shared in future money-saving FREEBIE posts by submitting the website name and/or URL via email to amothersrewards@gmail.com.


Fridays Are For Friends

photo courtesy of As I See It Photography

I'm reading John 15 today and thinking it is the perfect place to be with friends. So much truth to be realized and laid hold of in these verses! I'm sipping on my snickerdoodle decaf coffee and getting ready to settle down in a nice, comfy chair for an afternoon with friends, that's you by the way. Normally, I would select a few key verses and visit about them. Today, however, I feel impressed not to visit long; I'll simply share the chapter. We'll begin our time together with prayer. Heavenly Father, I thank you for this time with friends. Time we can spend visiting about and learning of you, together. I ask that our time today be blessed as we come before You, as we study Your Word. May we have clarity and understanding to know and receive Truth. May our hearts be open to You. In Jesus' name, Amen.

John 15
1I AM the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser.
2Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit.
3You are cleansed and pruned already, because of the word which I have given you [the teachings I have discussed with you].
4Dwell 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.
5I 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.
6If 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.
7If 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.
8When you bear (produce) much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine.
9I have loved you, [just] as the Father has loved Me; abide in My love [continue in His love with Me].
10If 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.
11I 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.
12This is My commandment: that you love one another [just] as I have loved you.
13No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends.
14You are My friends if you keep on doing the things which I command you to do.
15I do not call you servants (slaves) any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing (working out). But I have called you My friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from My Father. [I have revealed to you everything that I have learned from Him.]
16You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting [that it may remain, abide], so that whatever you ask the Father in My Name [as presenting all that I AM], He may give it to you.
17This is what I command you: that you love one another.
18If the world hates you, know that it hated Me before it hated you.
19If you belonged to the world, the world would treat you with affection and would love you as its own. But because you are not of the world [no longer one with it], but I have chosen (selected) you out of the world, the world hates (detests) you.
20Remember that I told you, A servant is not greater than his master [is not superior to him]. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word and obeyed My teachings, they will also keep and obey yours.
21But they will do all this to you [inflict all this suffering on you] because of [your bearing] My name and on My account, for they do not know or understand the One Who sent Me.
22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin [would be blameless]; but now they have no excuse for their sin.
23Whoever hates Me also hates My Father.
24If I had not done (accomplished) among them the works which no one else ever did, they would not be guilty of sin. But [the fact is] now they have both seen [these works] and have hated both Me and My Father.
25But [this is so] that the word written in their Law might be fulfilled, They hated Me without a cause.
26But when the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) comes, Whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth Who comes (proceeds) from the Father, He [Himself] will testify regarding Me.
27But you also will testify and be My witnesses, because you have been with Me from the beginning.

Have a blessed weekend in Jesus dear ones! Find a gathering of fellow believers in Christ, one where the entire Word of God is preached/taught and join with them. This is a time to be networked with other followers of Christ. It's a new season. The former Lone Ranger mentality won't work any longer. Hebrews 10:21-25 - especially 24,25 - Because of Him(Jesus), WE ARE BLESSED!


Smell That? It's Spring!

“My beloved speaks and says to me, Rise up, my fair one, and come away. For, behold, the winter is past; and the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing [of birds] has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth and ripens her green figs, and the vines are in blossom and give forth their fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” Song of Solomon 2:10-13

I can smell Spring! The scent is blowing in on the breeze through our open windows. I think I’m going to get outside as soon as possible. Before I do though, let’s talk about being clean and clutter free.

When Spring arrives, often the desire to clean out and declutter our spaces comes right along with it. If this has happened at your house, Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider will be a huge help. The book is available both as a Kindle download and an actual hold it in your hand book.

Spring is also a perfect time to wash our windows of winter’s grime and grunge. Expensive glass cleaner is completely unneeded. Mix up a mixture of water/vinegar (preferably white) or water/ammonia, grab some newspapers and get those windows shining again. Newspapers are my favorite “rag” of choice when cleaning windows. Another great way to recycle too.

Decluttering encompasses every area of lives, not just the physical spaces. Consider doing a spiritual housecleaning right along with the house. Getting rid of excess emotional baggage, clearing out the cobwebs of deception, and eliminating the things that hold us back from living life fully will benefit us and those we love.

There it is again! The breath of Spring! Don’t want to miss another moment of this lovely day. I’m outta here! Talk to you later!



Mouth Watering Goodness

PLEASE NOTE, the following recipe is neither healthy nor is it economical. It is however tastebud satisfying goodness in every bite. Basically, this is a Scotcharoo with the rice cereal switched out for Frito's Scoops. Oh yeah, sweet and salty perfection right here. These little treats are so yummy that Horsegirl has requested them for her "birthday cake" next Monday. Candles might be tricky, but we'll figure out something.

  • 1 1/2 C. sugar
  • 1 1/2 C. corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 C. peanut butter - chunky
  • 2 pkg. bags Fritos Scoops
  • 6 oz. chocolate chips - milk chocolate
  • 6 oz. butterscotch chips

  • Arrange Frito's on 2 large cookie sheets lined with waxed paper.
  • Boil sugar, corn syrup stirring constantly for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, add peanut butter.
  • Drizzle over Fritos.
  • Melt chocolate chips and butterscotch chips.
  • Drizzle over caramel on fritos.
  • Chill and pull apart.
  • Can be stored in large Tupperware container. Separate layers with waxed paper.


Spread the News

A Mother's Rewards blog is no more. It has officially become part of Abundance House. If you, or someone you know, was a reader of A Mother's Rewards please let them know that everything - and a whole lot more - can now be found over here at http:/abundancehouse.blogspot.com/ . Those who enjoy visiting but find themselves too busy to check in regularly can eliminate the hassle by signing up to receive posts delivered straight to their email inbox. This is free of charge and easy to do. Simply find the sign up to receive free updates box and enter your email. There will be a short confirmation process for security purposes. When the next article is posted, it will go straight to the front door of your inbox. It will then be available for reading as your schedule allows. Thank you for helping spread the news.

Save By Making Your Own

I've been wracking my brain trying to remember if I have already posted this or not. Yes, I could go back to the archives, but I don't want to take anymore time away from posting. So, if this is a repeat idea, please accept my sincerest apologies.

Over the past several years, I have read many, many articles on saving money. One of the most challenging areas of overspending for a large majority of people seems to be that of purchasing expensive coffee house specialty drinks. I too enjoy coffee, in many forms. Even though overspending on specialty coffee drinks is not a temptation for me personally, I do get a craving for one every now and then. My challenge is that I live too far from town to just bop on down to the coffee shop and purchase one.

Being an avid DIYer at heart perfectly sets me up to experiment with various combinations of ingredients. Being the type of someone who never gives up allows me to continue my experiments until the result tastes EXACTLY the way I want it to. As a result, I now prefer my own iced coffee and specialty type coffee drinks over those available from coffee shops. 

If you, or someone you know, is an avid coffee drinker who wants/needs to save some moolah but is unable/unwilling to forgo their liquid pleasure, maybe a day of coffee experimentation is in order. Anyone can make an excellent coffee drinks at home for less, MUCH less.

To get us started, here is a recipe for the "Perfect Iced Coffee". The recipe comes to us from The Pioneer Woman's Recipes on her website. Been there? Go! It's fun, real fun. Anyway...always remember that almost every recipe can be adjusted and adapted to fit your own taste and situation. This is no exception.

1 pound ground coffee (good, rich roast)
8 quarts cold water
half-and-half (healthy splash per serving)
sweetened condensed milk (2-3 Tablespoons per serving)
Note: can use skim milk, 2%, whole, sugar, artificial sweeteners, syrups...adapt to your liking!
Preparation Instructions:
(adapted from Imbibe magazine)
In a large container, mix ground coffee with water. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature eight hours or overnight.
Line a fine mesh strainer with cheesecloth and set over a pitcher or other container. Pour coffee/water mixture through the strainer, allowing all liquid to run through. Discard grounds.
Place coffee liquid in the fridge and allow to cool. Use as needed.
To make iced coffee, pack a glass full of ice cubes.(A quart mason jar works very well.) Fill glass 2/3 full with coffee liquid. Add health splash of half and half. Add 2-3 T. sweetened condensed milk (can use plain sugar instead) and stir to combine. Taste and adjust half and half and/or sweetened condensed milk as needed.

Doesn't that sound so good? I can almost smell the coffee brewing already. Oh wait! That's my own coffee! Better go see if it is ready. 


A Joining of Hands

The following post comes to us courtesy of the former A Mother's Rewards blog. A Mother's Rewards has come under the covering of the Abundance House blog and no longer abides on its own. I wish to send a thank you to Abundance House readers for welcoming A Mother's Rewards readers as together we continue this amazing journey of "real" into the "new".


The Time Has Come...

It's not a secret, God has been up to something around here. First I closed the blogs, then here I was back again. Now, A Mother's Rewards is in the process of being moved over to Abundance House. All of the posts from here are now over there. Two blogs are just too much for one woman to keep up with. Life moves on and all of that.

Seriously though, life does move on. God does lead each one of us along new paths. Yesterday is not today. Today is well, today is new. Heard that word anywhere lately? LOL! If I were able to, I would put into words all that God is working within me, but I can't. After a very hard, long season where it seemed as if very little was happening, life is now filled to overflowing. The flood of God's grace is overflowing every part of my life, and His love is spilling up and over the banks. It's a good place this new. New is still hard, really hard. My perspective, however, has drastically changed. No longer am I viewing myself or the situations I am in from my own, personal perspective. Instead they are being seen from the Rock God has placed me on, and let me just say, the view is fine, mighty fine.

God, the Holy Spirit is leading me into a renewed focus on true abundance and what that is, what it looks like, what it really means. All of the small, random pieces are being woven together into a majestic masterpiece of grace that places me in wondering awe. Just as the seemingly unrelated tidbits of truth are being connected into a perfect picture of Him, the One who died for Me, the two blogs, both pieces of my life are being joined into one, fruitful place of Abundance. Even the renaming of Living Large on Less to Abundance House was a part of the new. A part I had yet to see at the time.

What Abundance House will look like in the future I don't know. Even the not knowing is part of the new. Anyone who would like to be a part of this exciting journey of new is more than welcome to come along. You are more than welcome! Just head on over with me to http://abundancehouse.blogspot.com/ and subscribe to free email delivery of posts. There is a link just like the one here. I don't know what the journey will look like, but one thing I do know, God is with us. Now that is Abundance!

Alas, dear readers, it's time to go. Friends are coming over. We're having soup and chocolate cake! Maybe those two statements reveal the reason for this season's end better than any others could. Friends are coming over. When this blog was begun over two years ago, our family was blessed with precious friends. Our friends however were every bit as busy as we were and none of us had time to spend together. All of us knew this and made the most of every second spent together. During the past several months, God has increased our friendships both in real life and online. So much so that there simply isn't time to live this rich life and keep two blogs running. I am a blessed woman of God whose life is filled to overflowing with the love and support of friends and family. A woman of great Abundance. A real woman living the new.

A Mother's Rewards isn't closing its doors. It's moving and receiving a name change, just like a marriage, if you will. Everything it has ever been is still there, along with a whole lot of new. A Mother's Rewards is moving into true Abundance House. Please, please come along and begin your own journey into the real and the new found only through Jesus. Together, we're going deeper in Him than we ever dreamed we could. Abundance House http://abundancehouse.blogspot.com/ is the place. Let's meet up there and experience His grace. Abundant prayers of love and thanksgiving for and to you, Blessed Mama

Eliminating Too Much?

Getting rid of all of the excess, eliminating waste, going paperless, all of these steps move us closer to some sort of imaginary organizational perfection. Could organizational bliss be setting us up for problems as well? Hmmm, let's discuss it. Shall we?

Choosing to stay on the "everybody stay calm and listen closely to the Lord" side of things instead of a a "Oh my goodness! We're doomed!" viewpoint of the current state of world affairs, I still find myself growing more and more concerned with the amount of advice encouraging individuals and families to go completely paperless. Sure doing so is convenient and eliminates paper clutter, but is it really wise? I'm just not convinced that it is.

That being said, I'm going to take advantage of the fact that this is my blog and that I have been the ripe old age of 4-0 for several months now to share a bit of practical wisdom. No matter how advanced technology becomes, situations beyond human control do still occur. Electricity is NOT A GIVEN. There has not and never will be a guarantee that electricity will always be available to any of us - ever. Hardcopies aka paper copies of documents, receipts, prescriptions, and all other necessary, vital information must be kept available at all times. Period. Also, an unending supply of batteries and/or fuel to run back up generators is not a given either. No matter how many solar panels and wind chargers are sold, the potential for no electricity and no back up power is very real. To plan and order our lives and homes as if it were is at the very least naive.

Here is the scoop. If eliminating something from our lives and homes to clear clutter has the potential to place us in a compromised or dangerous position at a future date, it did not clear any clutter. What it did was open up the door for future emotional and mental clutter aka stress. Hmmm. Perhaps we can find a better, more effective way to deal with our clutter. Maybe an investment in the practice of self-control and discipline will help us out more than all of the scanners and homemanagement binders ever could. Whatever choices we make regarding paper storage/elimination, we'll keep it happy and shelve the entire self-discipline/control thing for another day.