9.30.2013

Monday's Mental Meandering

It is Monday! Monday morning to be exact. Only the second day of the week and my mind is already meandering here and there. Mental musings twist and turn at a fairly relaxed pace, but they're still on the move. Being Abundance House there are also live, physical going-ons too. Seven-month-old Victorious Man of God is chasing the broom while 5 year-old Mighty Man of God is attempting to sweep the floor. Anyone else see disastrous potential here? Thankfully both of them are now laughing at each other. Brotherly love and affection is a most welcome contrast to Giggle's desperate attempts at getting out of her part of breakfast cleanup. Real house here.

Due to the loving bit messy that is quite normal, I'm not going to visit very long this morning. Just going to throw out a few thoughts for pondering. Honour. That's the big topic. How important is honour? Also, what does honour look like in everyday life?

The other biggie is on having a servant's heart. For several years I have been wondering at the lack of servant hearts within believers of Jesus. God says in His word that if we want to be great in His kingdom we are to learn to be the servant of all. So, why are there so few servant hearts? Hmmm. How does the servant heart connect to honour? This was finally answered for me at church this weekend when it was shared that without possessing and walking in honour one cannot have a servant's heart. Aha! Honour is a key.

After mulling this over at odd times throughout the past couple of days I am definitely leaning towards conducting a full blown study of honour. Wow. Full blown study looks really impressive in type. In reality it is a far different picture. Real life study around here looks like a concordance, Bible, journal, and pen in a pile on the coffee table, dining table, bar, counter, anywhere handy to use when I can grab a few minutes.

Anywho...honour. It's what we're pondering on this "mental Monday." Whoa. Mental Monday looks a little intense. Doesn't it? OK. Maybe it wasn't the best term. Yet, somehow, with little ones scattered here and there, tired outbursts randomly thrown in accompanied by giggles, laughs, and teasings, maybe it isn't that far off:)

Happy Monday from our house of abundance to yours!
Blessed Mama

P.S. Did you notice that I didn't say what our house had an abundance of this morning? HAHA! It may be Monday, but I am not surrendering or retreating. Of course I may have to do something radical and silly like pretend to be an old grandmother from "the old country" or something.

Confession time. I am confessing to "Granny from the old country" showing up in our home during potentially stressful moments. I am also admitting to having come up with this rather odd distraction technique all by myself approx. 12 years ago when the four oldest children were young and My Beloved worked out of town. (Yes, this is what happens when I am left on my own, without supervision:) Hey, it's better than breaking down in a sobbing heap in the middle of the floor in a sleep deprived torrent of emotion. Don't you agree? Being real isn't always pretty. It is often messy. Somedays it is very very messy. Those are the days we sing or read. We sing and read most every day, by the way.

This is supposed to be a post script. I'm going to go feed the baby. I might be back later. If I am, I just might be escaping the reality of real. Then again, I might be scaling Mt. Washmore aka the laundry. Real is definitely messy. Thankfully, it's a love mess.

Hugs! Sorry about the baby spitup.
Blessed Mama

9.25.2013

Loud & Amazing

Crawling for only two weeks and already Victorious Man of God is attempting to stand up on his own. Oh my! This boy is a go-er. He travels throughout the entire house lickety split investigating anything that catches his interested eyes. At seven months of age, almost everything catches his interest. Every nook and cranny, the smallest to the largest bit of anything must be investigated, thoroughly scrutinized, and slobbered on if possible. All bedroom doors now remain closed during waking hours, bedroom doors too.

If you were to visit our home, one of the first sites to catch your eye would be the dining room chairs laying on their sides throughout the house. When not in use at meals, the chairs become protective fences and gates. They are protecting our crawling explorer from dangers yet unknown to him. Right now Victorious MOG is dragging around a large wooden cooking spoon Mighty Man of God gave him to bang on metal buckets with. They have a regular bucket brigade drum set assembled on the floor. The "music" they were making together was the sort that only a loving God and mother can tolerate, and the loving mother can only endure their joyous symphony a few minutes at a time.

Thankfully, now that older brother has gone to play with big sister the music has been replaced with baby chatter. However, even tiny chatter is loud from this child. Yes, this youngest one is loud. Happy, sad, angry, whatever the emotion, it is expressed at the fullest of full volume. A redheaded man child, my Victorious Man of God does not hold back. He frequently screams his emotions out free for the listening pleasure of the entire universe.

A family of nine, our home is seldom without noise. Add in VMOG's loud voice, and it's enough to send the thoughts of even the most concentrated individual running. I am certain the thoughts that fly from my mind are fleeing for their lives, really they are. There are moments I wonder if we all ought to join them. That was an attempt at humor, just in case it was mistaken for seriousness.

Even though the noise level has increased, significantly, I am delighted by this little one. He is like no other. This little boy and his siblings reveal the amazing miracle life is. Seven children, all of them unique individuals created to live life full and free. Each child individually crafted by the One who created the universe to live as only he or she possesses the talents, personality, and giftings to live. Isn't that a wondrous miracle?

Know what else is a wondrous miracle? That every single person living is one of those wondrous miracles created by God to live a life like none other, you and I too. Yet even as we are individually crafted and granted life individually, we are designed to fit and function together. In the Bible God uses the human body as an example for this all separate yet functioning as one design. I'll say it again, it is amazing.

God is amazing. The longer I know Him, the more amazing I realize He is. If I were to begin sharing every thing about Him that amazes me, I'd be blogging for eternity. Each day there is something more to amaze me. Never changing yet always new. All powerful yet gently leading His children. Sends rain yet wipes my tears. So amazing. Sent His Son as a sacrifice for mankind's redemption yet trusted one woman to raise Him. Calls the stars by name yet knows mine. On and on I could go.

Amazing. The words of an old hymn say it best.
"That God should love a sinner such as I
 should yearn to change my sorrow into bliss
nor rest til He had planned to bring me nigh
how wonderful is love like this

Such love, such wondrous love
Such love, such wondrous love
That God should love a sinner such as I
How wonderful is love like this"

Another song flows on:
"Amazing grace will always be my song of praise
For it was grace that bought my liberty"

Another flowing still:
"Amazing Grace how sweet the sound
Amazing love now pouring down
From hands and feet that were nailed to the tree
His Grace flows down and covers me
IT covers me
It covers me
It covers me
And covers me"

As the autumn winds blow strong this evening won't you join me please? Join me in this thanksgiving praise to the One, True, Almighty, Amazing God? Don't know Him well enough to know if He is amazing or not? Find a Bible. They are available online for reading free. Start reading. John is a good place to start. Not able to read? Then talk to Him. Tell Him that you don't know Him, but would like to. Tell Him that the world doesn't represent Him very well, but you want to know the truth. Ask Him for the truth. He will tell you. He will show you. You will be amazed.

Just as my baby is exploring every inch of our home, I have spent my life exploring God and His Word. Yes, I have heard the words of others regarding Him, but I have done more than that. I have found Him for myself. I have asked Him for truth. He has revealed it to me. After 30+ years of exploring He is even more amazing to me than when I began. I have regrets, but learning about and getting to know God isn't one of them. Receiving the gift of salvation provided through Jesus isn't a whacked out notion of religion. It is a relationship with God Himself, the One True God, the Great I Am. Oh, the Great I Am. That's another something to visit about. We'll do that another day. For tonight, we're talking to the One who is amazing. We're being amazed.



Fall - ing in the Garden

Oops! Just realized the title looks like I fell down while in the garden. Nope. Sure didn't. Glad about that too since the garden in on my side porch. The porch is cement. I meant that I am doing Fall-type things in the garden. Then again I am also Summer - ing in the garden as my plants are just now producing their harvest:) OK. back to business.

Fall is coming. Time to start getting the garden ready for winter. My remaining soup bean and pea pods are dry on the vine waiting to be gathered for use as next year's seed . I will shell them, place them in storage bags/jars, and label for next year. How sweet and good the peas were this year. We only planted enough plants for us to pick off the ripe pods and eat straight from the plant. Nibbling beautiful green peas straight from the pod is a fun, inexpensive summer indulgence.

Since my garden consists of containers on the side porch this year I am able to easily remove spent plants from their containers. For ease of gardening, my container garden was perfect. With a small baby in the house and older children needed for work elsewhere, this was the only way a garden would have worked for us this year. Had the garden been in a location with more shelter from both the wind and sun it would have been a complete success. As it is, the southern exposure was too intense for most of the plants. My cucumbers grew, produced many blossoms, but in the end the sun was just too much for them.

Due to sun, wind, and bugs, peppers, peas, lettuce, spinach, and carrots did the best this year. Tomatoes have kept right on trying. The few fruits they did produce have had delicious flavor, the best of any we've had all summer. The corn is still alive, and the brussel sprouts are still working at it too. We won't even talk about the green beans that were devoured by bugs. The three beans they did manage to produce were very tasty. Too bad they didn't make it into the house.

Somewhere amidst the tall grass on the island in our pond are pumpkins. So far, none of us are brave enough to face the bugs to find them. Maybe this week? I am going to put the tomato plants out of their misery and pull them before week's end. The corn will be left to dry then used for exterior decorations and next year's seed. Carrots will be left as long as possible before harvesting too. The lone producers remaining will be the peppers. Peppers are being declared the overwhelming victor of the summer garden this year! Beautiful, productive plants were a delight to my eyes and taste buds. Once I remembered that I had planted Purple Beauty variety and didn't have a blight that is.

What's going on in your Fall garden? How did your garden fare this year? Looking forward to hearing in a comment or email sent to amothersrewards@gmail.com. Feel free to share any plans for next year as well.

Final fall analysis of this year's garden? My container garden allowed me to have a garden when I wouldn't have been able to otherwise. Containers located right outside the door made it possible for me to hop out and work for snippets of time here and there. This permitted me to do the majority of my own watering, weeding, etc. Something my children are extremely grateful for. A larger harvest would have been really, really nice, but I am still abundantly thankful for the blessing of being able to have a garden and actually work in it myself. A less windy, shadier location would have benefitted tremendously. Well, that and more attractive containers. Don't you think less unattractive containers would make the veggies grow better and produce more? haha. Not really. Having them in a less noticable location might make My Beloved feel better about the garden though.

Even though this year's minute harvest found me contemplating whether or not a suitable location for a garden exists in our yard, the sense of satisfaction at having a nibble or two of fresh vegetables grown ourselves and seed for future gardens won out. Consequently, next year will find me continuing my quest for the perfect garden spot here at Abundance House. My Beloved and I are already discussing some possibilities. Pretty certain next year's location won't be visible when people drive in. At least it won't be if we're using the same bright blue plastic containers, not if My Beloved is involved anyway. Those tubs were really difficult for him to see filling his porch everytime he came home.

Thankful for a husband who notices and understands my desire for our place to look nice. I don't do a very good job of making it look nice yet, but I will. A little bit every year will eventually bring an overall positive result. I just have to be patient. What thankfulness has your garden inspired this year? Did you have a garden? If you didn't, would you like to? Is that a "someday, I would like to..." dream? We'll be happy to read about it in a comment or an email sent to amothersrewards@gmail.com.

Don't forget to drop in for another visit one of these days. We love it when you come over. Sometime soon I'll tell you about a new use for our sage and rosemary. It isn't anything we have ever used them for before. The woodburners on our gift list will be thrilled about this new use. Come back over when we talk about it.

Until next time - love, hugs, & prayers, Blessed Mama

9.18.2013

Seeds, Saving, and Snipping

Fall Harvest has begun. Those who have planted vegetables from non hybrid seeds have the luxury of choosing whether or not to save seeds from their veggies for planting next year's garden from. Isn't that fun? A garden for free, sort of.

Peppers are my favorite seed to save. They are also the easiest. Yes, that is why they are my favorite. Simply remove the seeds, place on a glass or ceramic plate, stir every day to circulate air, and leave out until dry enough to break rather than bend. Once seeds have reached dryness, place in storage container and label.

Pumpkins and squash are pretty much the same as the peppers except they require cleaning first. Ugh, I can feel the slimey fibers on my fingers from the pumpkins already. Shudder. Oh well. It's still fun to plant them using last year's seeds.

Tomatoes. Well, this is our first year to save tomato seeds. Want to know why? Because I think this is gross. Real good reason, huh? I know. It isn't a great reason at all. That's why I am doing it anyway this year, gross or not. Squeeze the seeds from the best tomatoes into a jar, cover with approx. half as much water as seeds and allow to ferment until foam and/or mold covers the mixture. Once the seeds and the mold have separated from each other, with the seeds being on the bottom, carefully remove the mold/foam and floating seeds. Strain out the remaining seeds, the ones that did not float, into a strainer and gently rinse until clean. Place the cleaned seeds onto a glass/ceramic plate stirring daily until dry. Oh wait! Gently pat the clean seeds dry before placing on plate. Tomato seeds germinate very quickly. If excess moisture is not removed as much as possible, they will sprout before drying. Once the seeds are completely dry, place in  storage container for use next season.

Fun, right? Oh yes! I forgot to mention herbal seeds. Basil and cilantro are some of the very easiest to save. Allow some or all of the plants to go to seed. Collect the seeds from the plants, dry, and use when desired. Viola! My basil seeds from last year have given me several new starts, and I still have some left. Cilantro seeds can be replanted or used as coriander in cooking.

One last tip on the seed saving: label. Label. Label. Label. Including this year's date is helpful as well. Store in cool, dry place.

Please feel free to pass along any of your own seed saving tips & techniques in the comment section or email me at amothersrewards@gmail.com.

Now for an extremely quick and quirky craft. Denim coasters. Coasters are something we use almost constantly at our house. With eight of us, there are multiple glasses of water, iced tea, coffee, or My Beloved's favorite soda sitting around somewhere. Most coasters only come in sets of four leaving several of us without a place to put our drinks. Recently when needing a coaster for my sweating ice water, Horsegirl threw down a back pocket she had cut out of a worn pair of denim jeans for me to use. It worked great! I loved it! Even though denim pockets sitting around my living room really isn't my usual decorating style, they worked so well as coasters that I asked her for more. She obliged and we now have our favorite coasters ever.

Not only are these pocket coasters functional, they are quirky and fun too. A set of coasters tied together with ribbon or twine could easily be tucked in with drink mix for a custom gift. Not feeling the coaster love? Go ahead and cut out those back pockets. They can be stitched onto pillows, blankets, or towels for a rustic chic charm. A red gingham apron with a denim pocket stitched on exudes a sweet coziness sure to touch the heart of its receiver with the warmth of home. Gather some red tea towels adorned with pockets, an apron with its own denim pocket, and a recipe book filled with recipes for homemade favorites for a gift of personalized homemade goodness. Want to include a little something extra in your gift? Be ready for future posts featuring homemade jellies and other canned goods. You are going to want to make some. These jellies from Not of This World look like beautiful jewels sparkling on the shelves. I'm not sure you will be able to give them away as gifts though, they are so pretty.

9.13.2013

Check Out What's Going On!!!

The Nester at The Nesting Place blog has bought herself a farmhouse! Seriously need to check all the goin ons over at the farm. It's a fixer upper. There's a pool and a barn. A new kitchen, trim getting painted white - and black, lots of redo fun happening. Forgot to get a link for you, but still, do drop in for a visit. Just google in The Nester and something will come up to click on. You'll love the new fun she's sharing with us all.

Blissfully Domestic has some fun Fall links for decorating, food, and more. Their shared idea pics for study spaces are truly inspirational. You'll have to google this one too. I apologize. Crawling, teething baby didn't allow me time enough to gather links, or concentrate on good grammar.

It's Finally Friday, and I am more than glad for a cool weekend to enjoy the coming Fall. How about you? Are you enjoying cooler weather the past few days too? A lot of people are gathering in the final harvest from their gardens. Mine is finally starting to give me goodies. This year has allowed me the opportunity to truly study on what a garden needs to survive the wind at my house. I am already making plans for next year's garden, in another new spot. Will visit about that more in a future post. I don't want to be the only one talking about the garden though. So, would you please send in your fall gardening news? Just shoot me an email at amothersrewards@gmail.com or leave a comment on the gardening post when it is published. Can you tell I'm in the mood for a good old-fashioned chit chat?

Almost Autumn Blessings from a mama who is Blessed Beyond Abundance! Some Love & Prayers too!




9.11.2013

Leftovers Fun, Who Knew?

Final repost for this month. Thank you for walking down memory lane with me as we've been remembering where we were at Abundance last year. Remembering has allowed me to live more fully and intentionally with my family, as well as garden, this summer. In an attempt to avoid boredom, posts that had not been previously viewed were chosen. For subscribers though, it was still a rerun. Thank you for your grace, love, and support.
Always in Him the Lover of My Soul,
Blessed Mama

Money saving is nice, not being wasteful is too, but yummy tasting is even better. Repurposing need not be limited to the nonedible parts of our lives. The humble leftover can get in on the fun too. At lunch, carrots from the pots outside my front door, so beautiful, joined potatoes from the garden, leftover corn, a few tomatoes, not many onion slices, along with rice and beef gravy left from a weekend supper to create an almost perfect harvest stew.

What's in your fridge? Anything that might combine into a delicious stew, soup, casserole, or hash? Maybe there are a few ingredients that could be placed with cheese inside two tortillas for original quesadilla flavors. Leftovers need not return the second time in the same form they were enjoyed the first go round. Oftentimes gravy can be mixed with vegetables and served over pasta or rice for a hearty, filling meal. Considering flavor combinations the family enjoys and combining leftovers accordingly can be fun, filling, economical, and best of all, delicious.

Here are a few leftover repurposing ideas:
  • mashed potatoes - shape into patty and cook on hot griddle or pan; turn when brown on first side and continue cooking until second side is lightly browned; salt and pepper to taste; shredded cheese, bacon, ham, and seasonings of choice can be mixed in with potatoes - mashed potatoes can also be combined with sour cream, placed into baking dish, and topped with shredded cheddar cheese, baked at 350 degrees until heated through for a twice-baked potato flavored casserole, so easy and tasty
  • baked potatoes - sliced and fried, if not enough for the entire family, can be combined with chopped up meat, cheese, and scrambled eggs for a hearty breakfast
  • bread that is past fresh - cubed and used in meatloaf, meatballs, etc. - cubed and made into homemade croutons - used in bread pudding
  • pasta - used as a filler in soups - tossed in melted butter and garlic for a delicious garlic pasta - tossed with other fresh veggies and favorite vineagrette for pasta salad
  • rice - same as ideas listed above for pasta - combined with milk/cream, sugar, raisins and heated through for hot breakfast cereal - used in rice pudding
There are many more leftover delights waiting to be discovered. Let's go check our refrigerators and have some fun!

9.05.2013

Grocery Savings Update

Everyone who has been to the grocery store has surely noticed the upward trend of prices. If grocery prices in your area are rising like they are in mine, you are looking for ways to cut costs, again. Abundance House has posted articles on tips for saving on groceries. None of the previous articles are giving out info. like this one though.

Sad as it is, I have to post that in many cases it is now less expensive to purchase prefab, processed foods. Up until the past few months, it was still less costly to cook from scratch. In my area it is officially not so anymore. I can now purchase 20 lbs. of processed potatoes from the freezer section for approx. $5 less than fresh in the produce dept. I haven't had the courage to compare the price of instant or dehydrated to fresh yet. Potatoes aren't the only fresh produce to cost more than their processed counterparts. They are simply the example I have used here.

While it is my sincerest hope that groceries in your neck of the woods haven't reached such a state, if they have, don't despair. There are still ways to reduce costs while providing nutritious meals. Here are a few of our newest favorites along with some tried and true standbys.

  • Always, always, always compare costs between stores within your area. However, don't go too far afield. Fuel expenses quicly outweigh food savings.
  • Research. Research prices in non-grocery type stores. Check the local dollar store, discount store, pharmacy, and other markets not usually connected with groceries. Many stores are now carrying canned goods, baking supplies, and other grocery items. Often their prices are much lower. Just be certain to check sizes. Sometimes prices aren't as great as they seem; the size of the product may be smaller.
  • Don't forget markets that were previously too pricey. Health food stores may now be comparable, or even less expensive, than your traditional grocer.
  • Plant a garden. Yes, I know it is everywhere, but it is still good advice. If you live in a warm climate, please take advantage of being able to grow produce year round. It will save you a bundle. Not only will your homegrown produce be healthier, any extra abundance you grow can provide you with valuable items for bartering or selling.
  • Consider swapping your garden excess for someone else's. Maybe you have squash running out of your ears while someone else in your community has an overflow of fruit. Make their day and yours by swapping out.
  • Can, freeze, dehydrate any and everything that you possibly can find.
  • Forage. Yes, forage. Find out what the laws are in regards to foraging in your area and then hit the road. We have some of the most beautiful, luscious fruit ready for jelly making and all of it was free of charge. It pays to keep ears and eyes open. Ask. What's the worst you will hear? No?
  • When foraging, don't overlook supposed weeds. A number of weeds are super greens. Lambsquarter out powers even spinach. Nettles are a meaty green. Consider harvesting seeeds from these greens to plant and grow inside for harvesting throughout the winter. We are all for healthy greens all year long. Always know exactly what you are picking and never eat without confirmed identification.
  • Be willing to barter. Do you possess a skill? Ask local farmers/ranchers/others if they would be willing to trade your skill for some of their product. Homemade bread can be exchanged for organic eggs and/or milk. Typing, word processing, editing, musical instruction, art instruction, photography, and many other skills have bartering potential. Don't take yourself for granted. Do what you do and let it work for you.
These are just a few ideas for grocery savings. If you have any tips not featured here, please feel free to share in either a comment or an email sent to amothersrewards@gmail.com.

9.04.2013

Be Still & Rest

For this first week of September we finish up our remembering with more of the Word of God. May we never forget...

 

Psalm 37

[A Psalm] of David.

1 Fret not yourself because of evildoers, neither be envious against those who work unrighteousness (that which is not upright or in right standing with God).
2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
3 Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.
4 Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass.
6 And He will make your uprightness and right standing with God go forth as the light, and your justice and right as [the shining sun of] the noonday.
7 Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him; fret not yourself because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass.

9.03.2013

Stress Eliminators for Christmas

Yule Celebration
Christmas is Coming! Do you know what you are doing for Christmas this year? Whether you are traveling or remaining home? Are you the guest or the host? Will it be elaborate, simple, or simply elaborate? Are you going to be the receiver or the giver of gifts, or both? What about food, will you be preparing a special meal(s), fingerfood, treats?

Do you have a plan? This year may be the year to create one, and now may be the perfect time to begin. Whatever one's individual situation during the holiday season, a few minutes of planning can help a person make the most of both time, personal, and financial resources. "The plan" can be as simple as lists jotted down on the back of junkmail envelopes or as complex as an official Christmas binder. I tend to find myself somewhere in between. Some of my lists are literally in my head. I do not recommend this. It can result in being left without a plan, especially if there are any sleep-deprived nights. No plan opens the door to stress. Stress opens the door to destruction and death, both of our bodies and our holidays. Any habit, plan, or practice we can utilize that stops stress is a stress eliminator.

Whatever the plan being used, a person needs to make it theirs and own it. Maintaining enough flexibility to allow for situational circumstances while sticking to the plan prevents overusage of resources. This helps put stress eliminators in place. Stress eliminators are one of a person's richest holiday gift to themself and those around them. Together, let's identify these gifts and use them to their fullest.

Flexibility with structure, stress eliminator identified.

Now, I'll start with my "plan". This will be a speed version. Detailed lists will come later. Not on the blog though:) Everyone would know what they are getting if I did that.

Gifts:
  • My Beloved
  • Children (this requires a list all of its own)
  • Parents (do I want to do individual or joint couple type gifts, still deciding)
  • brothers, sis-in-loves, neices, nephews (considering family gifts)
  • Grandpa (canned goods and homemade goodies)
  • friends (canned goods and homemade goodie gifts)
  • mail carriers (homemade goodies)
  • extras for those I am forgetting right now (homemade gifts)
Adding my thoughts and things I am needing to decide frees up my mind by eliminating yet another something to remember. The great thing about plans is that each individual can make their very own in a way that works best for them. Even though I typed this one here, my handwritten lists are the ones I go to most. The handwritten lists are the easiest, and quickest, to get to. As a result, they are used more. Some people will find digital lists work best for them. That is super!

Using what works is another stress eliminator for us to implement. Let's put this one to work everywhere we can.