5.29.2012

What Time Is It?

Just for fun, we're going to play a game, a guessing game!  The picture of the clock gives us the question. The question is: What time is it here at Abundance? Do you know? Please leave your answer in a comment. The game ends Saturday evening at 6p.m. CST. Every correct answer will receive a FREE cookbook. Cookbooks will vary 
Cowboys have their spurs on - must be doing some riding

The roses are in bloom


Pies are being made

5.28.2012

A Pot of Green Sitting in the Windowsill

Here's a bit of green freshness for your Monday morning. It's spreading its scent on every breeze. Can you smell it? It's headed your way just because sometimes we all need to live as simply as this pot of grass. This bit of fresh green is spreading out everywhere for all the world to see. It doesn't know or care that it is living in a hand me down container or that compared to the great lawns of the world it is but a speck. This grass just does what it was created to do. It grows. Nothing more, definitely nothing less. It will, however, eventually outgrow its current home. If we, the caretakers, don't transplant it, it will die. Yet, even in this, it doesn't fret. The grass is completely reliant upon its caretakers. The longer I sit here thinking about this lovely spot of green, the more I realize I have much to learn from it. Growing where I am, relying completely on my Caretaker, not comparing myself to others, yes, there is much for me to learn. Intentional, purposeful, focused abundance, all in one bright spot of green. Thank You, God, for this sweet little pot of grass. Thank You also for teaching me with it. I love You so. Amen.

If you are interested in how to grow your own pot of grass, here is how the one in the picture was grown: fill selected container with potting soil~sprinkle grass seeds on top of soil~ mist lightly with water~place in sunny location~ keep soil and seeds moist until growth begins~ enjoy the bright freshness the grass brings to a room, water and trim as needed.Once grass begins to outgrow the container, it can be added to compost or transplanted to a bare spot in the lawn/garden.

Our family has grown several containers of grass throughout the years. It is one of our favorite springtime things to do. We have used a variety of containers, both large and small, including baskets which we hid easter eggs in. Growing grass inside is easy, fun, and relatively inexpensive. Any variety of grass seed will work. We purchase the least expensive available, but any will do. This is perfectly suited for children. They delight in watching the seeds sprout and grass grow. Watering and caring for the growing grass teaches responsibility, and oh how they thrill at being able to "cut the lawn" at trimming time!

NOTE: For those not wanting to or able to purchase grass seed at a store, grass seed can be gathered from nature. Uncut grass will go to seed naturally; the seeds can then be collected from the tops of the blades. A small corner of the lawn can be allowed to grow and seed out, or seed can be gathered from other sources. Receiving permission prior to gathering seeds from other properties is always recommended.

5.15.2012

Thankful for Opportunities and Cold Brew Coffee

It's a happy, happy day! The sun is shining, some lettuce and spinach have been planted, the porch is being washed off, and children are acting as if they are tired. Tired children? And I'm happy? That's right! I am happy because these rewards (see Psalm 127:3) of mine are providing me with so much hands on practice of walking in the love of God. Seriously, they are.

Being disciplined, calm, and gentle, yet wise, are things I really need to work on. Today I am being handed one opportunity after the other to do just that. Praise the Lord! These light and momentary afflictions and troubles are producing a great weight of glory in my life. See 2 Corinthian 4:17

All in all, it has been a productive day, in spite of whining, fighting, disagreeing, etc. Unpleasantness has now been replaced by peaceful play. It is amazing what a little snack followed by snuggling with sweet kittens can do to make a day better, for all of us. Those not allergic to cats anyway:)

Do you hear that? It's the sound of a sprinkler. There is the fresh smell of summer's warmth floating in on the breeze too. Before I hustle outside to enjoy every second, I just have to stop and give thanks for the opportunities He provides for me to walk more closely to Him.

One More Thing! I found a recipe for Cold Brew Coffee and tried it last week. Just had to share it with you. Truthfully, I thought I already had but couldn't see it anywhere in the archives so...here it is:

COLD BREW COFFEE
8 C. water
1 C. ground coffee

Put together in non-metal container, cover, and place in refrigerator. Allow to sit overnight. Strain mixture through coffee filter lined strainer. Return coffee liquid to refrigerator. Coffee can now be used in iced coffee and other specialty coffee drinks.

ICED COFFEE
cold brew coffee
milk - can use sweetened condensed milk if splurging
sugar or other sweetener to taste - omit if using sweetened condensed milk
ice
chocolate syrup, flavorings, optional

Fill drinking glass - a quart jar works perfectly - with approx. 1/4 C. milk. It is really hard to give exact amounts as I eyeball the entire process. Sorry. If adding sweetener or flavorings, add now. Fill glass with ice. Add cold brew coffee until glass is full. Combine and enjoy!

ICED CAPPUCCINO
same as iced coffee except froth milk before adding ice and coffee

*To turn any of the above recipes into mochas, add chocolate syrup to taste

5.14.2012

Wedding Gifts, What to Give?

Wedding season is fast approaching. Find yourself wanting to give the new couple a nice gift that doesn't look cheap but really is? Need something for a bridal shower but don't want to give the same ole, same ole? I think most people have been there. Hopefully, some of these ideas will help.
  • Office/bookwork type supplies in a file box: stapler, address labels, sticky notes, paper clips, tape, etc.
  • Using online sources, print out free forms for a household binder. Create a household binder by placing the forms, dividers, and clear page protectors in a binder that coordinates with the new couple's color scheme. The new binder could also be included in the above gift box.
  • Gather or make a variety of sauces and toppings for ice cream sundaes. Don't forget a can of whipped topping and jar of cherries! Arrange the sundae makings in a pretty box, basket, or other container of choice. Fun sundae dishes, an ice cream scoop, and even an ice cream maker can be included.
  • Create a "night in" bag filled with the ingredients for a fun evening at home. Possible items to include might be: massage oil, candles, a deck of cards for the married version of poker or any other card game(That is ALL I am saying about the married version of card games. Further information can be found elsewhere.), a CD of romantic music purchased on sale or created personally by the giver.
  • A clothes basket or other container filled with household essentials new homemakers might not consider. This might be the perfect place to stick a repurposed glass jar of homemade laundry detergent. A small notebook/booklet of recipes for household cleaners/tips, along with a bag of clothespins would really round out the gift. Don't forget to include matching water guns for impromptu water fights. Every couple needs those:)
  • Common cooking and/or medicinal herbs/plants accompanied by a booklet with instructions and recipes for their use would be both practical and attractive. Basil, oregano, and sage together inside of a colander with a jar of homemade pasta sauce and/or pasta is one possibility.
  • Recipes for family favorite dishes, cleaners, money-saving tips, and/or genealogy information and pictures can be gathered together in a variety of ways. There are so many ideas that it is really difficult to share them all - even on a blog. Ideas abound online, save time and money by gleaning from the experiences and ideas of others.
  • a "fan" box containing shirts, caps, glasses, and/or other paraphenelia of the couple's favorite sports team.
  • season tickets to an activity the couple particularly enjoys - opera, symphony, sporting event, swimming pool, movie theatre, etc.
OK, now I am ready to give, give, give! The above ideas are in a post concerning wedding gifts, but many, if not all, of them can be adapted to fit any occasion. Several of them would make thoughtful gifts for graduates as well. Housewarmings, baby showers, even birthdays and anniversaries. Maybe, buzzing around here and there during the crazy busyness of spring and early summer, our very own families need a gift that says "I Love You." Giving...of ourselves...intentionally, purposefully, abundantly. The journey continues on.

5.10.2012

Make Your Own...Salad Dressing

Okay, here we go! Another first! I made my own salad dressing, from scratch! This is so easy. Seriously, it is easy, easy, easy and...wait a minute. It is easy. So easy in fact that most people probably already do this. Oh well, for those like me who don't didn't, I'll go ahead and share. This is for a vinaigrette style dressing. I was making Italian, but this could be used for any flavorings.

It is a 3 to 1 oil-vinegar ratio with other flavorings and spices added to taste. That's it. I'm serious. 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar with desired seasonings. I used canola oil because that is what I had on hand. Any other oil would work just as well. So, because I am the only person in my family that uses Italian dressing, I was concerned when several of the recipes I looked at called for cups, plural, of oil and vinegar. I didn't want to make too much and have some of it go bad before I could use it. Then, I "happened" to notice that all of the recipes shared the same ratio of oil to vinegar, no matter how much the seasonings and spices varied. Oh happy, happy day! As long as I maintained the correct ratio, I could make as little or as much as I needed. Yes!

Gathering together oil, vinegar, and seasonings, I began my grand experiment. One cup of canola oil joined 1/3 C. Apple Cider and Red Wine vinegar(I mixed the two) in the food processor. Into the mix went some dry Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, and a smidgen of sugar. Mix, mix, and PRESTO! Italian Salad Dressing just as good as store bought. Well, it didn't go quite that fast:) I gave a little shake, shake of the seasonings, mixed, tasted, gave a few more shake, shakes, and several shake, shakes later, I liked the way it tasted enough to pour it in a glass container and let it sit overnight for the flavors to marry.

Several salads and a few sandwiches later, I'm almost out! Time to make some more. Maybe I should try another flavor. Maybe the kids would like that poppy seed dressing. Yep, definitely going to find out and see.

Oh yes! Please beware. Concocting salad dressing is really, really fun too. It could probably become addictive it is so easy and fun. There are so many spice combinations to experiment with, and wouldn't it be fun to see how that Italian dressing would taste with bit of dry mustard and tiny pinch of red pepper flakes? Also, what if instead of going savory we took it more to the sweet side with some fruit juice? Wouldn't a small amount of onion be nice with the sweet notes?

Just wanted to let you know, you might get hooked:) At the very least, you might discover a flavor combination that would work perfectly as a gift. Ooooooh, how delightful some homemade dressing in a pretty glass bottle would look in a gift basket filled with homemade crackers and sweet little pots or bunches of homegrown herbs. Gourmet look and taste + simple idea + very little cost = an abundant gift idea. I just might have to add a little something or other to our nephew's wedding gift:) Speaking of wedding gifts, did you know...we'll talk more on this later.

5.09.2012

Enjoying Daily Pleasures

Several times during the past several months I have been asked about how our family saves money. More than one person has wondered how we feed and clothe six children at today’s prices. Recently I was struck by the knowledge that many people really, truly need the information and tips my family and I have been using. It was truly one of those “a ha!” light bulb type moments. Just because my family and I have been living a life of simple abundance for years doesn’t mean everyone else has. Hello, that is why Not of This World and I began the Living Large on Less blog in the first place.

Changes and challenges have taken place throughout the lifespan of our family’s blogs. At the birth of the blogs, a new generation of homemakers were devoting themselves wholly to bettering the environment. What was once a trendy fad of “going green” has quickly been replaced by an all out effort towards survival for many families across our nation, even the world. Talk of impending doom and worldwide disasters, once topics reserved for conspiracy theorists and kooks, is now commonplace. Entire blogs, television shows, and grass-roots movements are devoted to preparation for when not if scenarios of horrific destruction and financial collapse.

Whatever the situation any of us find ourselves in, Abundance blog still longs to be a reliable source of money-saving information that has not only been tested and tried, but found to contribute to the abundant life God desires for each one of us. Money-saving, time-saving, life-giving tips, techniques, and practices will continue to find their way to Abundance. Hopefully, they will have more pictures includedJ

Now, please excuse me. I must run. Mighty Man of God, Giggle, and I have a birthday party to attend. That brings us to our tip for today:



“Don’t ignore the simple pleasures of daily life.”

Yes, the world is changing at an alarmingly rapid pace. Disaster, destruction, and war looms large. The only thing I can do about that right now, at this exact moment, is to be completely intentional. I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know that right now, today, two of my children and I have been given the opportunity to celebrate the first year of a miracle boy’s life, and celebrate we will. Because I don’t know what the next moment will bring my way I am training myself to live each one fully alive, fully in Him who gives me life.

Side Note: Giggle and Mighty Man of God haven’t ever been to the birthday party of a small friend. They are over the top excited, and I relearned NOT to tell small children about special events too early. *smile*

5.08.2012

Wiggly, Giggly...to the Full

My bed was full of giggly, wiggly bodies this morning. My rational mind was telling me that we ought to be out and about performing our daily tasks, but my heart was screaming to enjoy the moments to the full. When all is said and done and time has gone on to another season of living, it won't be the schooling or the daily tasks I recall. The memories that flood over me will be of those moments when I dared to relax for a bit and enjoyed the moments to the full. Mornings when the bed was full of fun, love, and laughter.

Almost immediately my thoughts were back at the ladies' Encounter of the past weekend. I was hearing the leader's voice encouraging us to spend time at the feet of Jesus. Whoosh! the realization that Jesus loves the wiggly, giggly moments I spend with Him even more than I enjoy those spent with my children washed over me like a torrent. God treasures those moments that I curl up beside Him and just "be" with Him. Oh how I ran to His feet and plopped down when I realized it pleases Him so! Won't you hop in this wiggly, giggly moment and spend time at His feet too?

5.07.2012

Slow, It's the Way to Go

I was just reading the newest post at Simple Mom. It is on living slowly. In the post, the author asked readers to share what living slowly means to them and/or in what ways they practice this. After reading through the other comments I realized that living slow pretty much sums up my life.

This sounds totally crazy. I am a mother of six children, I homeschool them, and something is almost always "going on" around here, but that's it. Whatever is "going on" is doing so here, at home on the ranch. Sure there are days when we seem to be constantly on the road taking someone somwhere to do something, but every week isn't like that, just some.

As I read further and further down the long list of comments, I read as woman after woman shared of the longing to read, just for pleasure or the desire to cook from scratch or to hang laundry out to dry. The more I read, the more I knew, every woman out there is longing for and looking for my life:) What? You don't think so? OK, you're right. Not every woman wants to live where I live, nor does every woman want to be the mother of six of God's marvelous rewards. Every woman does want one thing though, time. Time to relax, time to breathe deep, time to savor the rewards they have been blessed with.

Once more a topic of thought has reached out and grabbed ahold of me. Yes, it has happened again:) Living slow. Simple, slow, intentional, are they the same or are they different? I'm not sure. One thing I do know is that whether they are different ways of describing the same or they differ from each other, all of them hold one requirement. All of them, simple, slow, intentional, involve choice. Each requires a decision be made. Neither simple, slow, or intentional just happen by chance.

My Beloved and I made a number of decisions early in our marriage. These decisions freed us from conflicts later on. Because the decisions had been made before, they became established matters of fact long before the issues they concerned were faced.

Just as we decided that divorce was not a word we would use in regards to our own marriage, we chose how busy our family would live. For our family, that looked like one activity or lesson per child at a time, period. No more, less was fine. If what was chosen would overlap with another choice, then one of the choices had to go away. End of story. One at a time. Decisions like this might look vastly different for other families. I am only sharing an example of ours.

Living simply, slowly, and intentionally is about making a choice, a decision, one that each of us must make. So, how about your family? How busy will you be? Will you make these decisions or will you just "go with the flow" and be swept along with the current of popular culture? Now that's a post all by itself. One I just might have to go think on.