2 Corinthians 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."

Friday, October 28, 2011

Made At Home

I told you recently that I make my own chicken broth.  Truth be told, I make a bunch of things homemade.

It all started almost 2 years ago with a friend who would grind her own grain (with a machine, not by hand.....) and make her own bread.  I thought she was crazy..... but then I tried the bread.  My family was hooked!  So, we bought a grinder and started making bread and rolls twice a week.  As of now, mixing the ingredients is Julia's job.  Setting the bread to rise and placing it in loaves or as rolls is my job.  It's nice to have a helper with such a job.

As I started to see the benefits of fresh, homemade bread without preservatives, I also began researching other ways we could become more healthy.  At that time, I was using coupons to get great deals on all sorts of food- processed foods.  While this was a deal for my food budget, it wasn't great for our health.  We made the decision to continue to be as frugal as possible with our grocery spending while making as many healthy choices as possible.

Here is a list of some of the homemade items we make:
  • Yogurt
  • Granola Bars
  • Granola (I eat in for breakfast in my homemade yogurt)
  • Muffins
  • Relish
  • Taco Seasoning
  • Chicken Broth
  • BBQ Sauce 
  • Pesto
  • Bread and rolls
  • Cookies
  • Trail Mix (that's an easy one!)
  • Ranch Crackers
  • Laundry detergent
  • Antibacterial Wipes
  • Bathroom cleaners

I don't give that list to make myself look better or to make you feel bad if you don't do the same.  This is simply a choice that our family has made and it definitely doesn't work for every family! 

There are a few more things I'd like to try to make for myself, but my family has said NO!  This includes coffee creamer, mayonnaise, peanut butter and dryer sheets.  But I did get a request from one of my children recently to see if we could make our own cheese.  I think I may save that project for next year!

I mentioned in the start of this post about the health benefits of making our own bread.  One tangible thing we noticed was that within weeks of removing store bought bread and it's preservatives from my son's diet, his migraines disappeared!  He had recently been diagnosed and was experiencing several migraines each month.  In the 22 months since switching to homemade bread, he's had 1 migraine and it was much less severe!  While I can't prove the connection, I believe the preservatives triggered his migraines.  Plus, the addition of whole grain/wheat into our diet is healthy, as well as the Flaxseed we use in the bread.

So, we'll continue using our homemade recipes.  We enjoy them and they really haven't added much of a cost to our food budget.  Yes, they do require more time because of the preparation, but I have helpers in my house to call on when I need them.  And that's an added benefit as well...spending time together while we're working around the house!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Time Has Come!

The free-for-all has come to an end... 

The time has come for a CHANGE!  It's time to get back into exercising and eating right!

I had been doing well.  I was using the Couch 2 5K program to train for an October 5K.  My Fall schedule got in the way of those plans.  I stopped jogging and didn't care as much about eating a healthy diet.  Our schedule wasn't conducive to eating right and exercising- at least that was the excuse I was using!

So, now that the schedule has calmed down with the end of the soccer season and Rich being able to be home a little more now that the Fair is over for the year, I can focus a little more on my eating and exercising.  I am not self motivated to exercise, so it will help that Rich will jog with me, or at least be jogging while I'm jogging.  I'm hoping to jog at least twice a week and have one other active day where I either do an exercise video (if I can stand to embarrass myself, I might ask one of my kids to do that with me to help motivate me!) or go hiking somewhere local.  Anything to get me moving and active again!

We normally don't eat out much each month.  I figure that we probably do take out twice a month at the most, plus a Date Night dinner out.  So to have a 2 month period of time where we ate out 5 or 6 times in a month is bothersome to me.  I don't like spending that much money on dining out, but I certainly don't like adding those calories to my daily intake!   I'm hoping that cutting back to eating out once or twice a month, plus being careful about my snacking at home, will be enough to help on the eating end.

My goal in laying my plan out there is to have some people to hold me accountable.  Since you know my plan, maybe you'll ask me how I'm doing sometime in the next 2 months?  

Monday, October 24, 2011

We Made It!

Our family has made it through another year of the State Fair and another soccer season!

Is it possible to enjoy and be stressed by the same thing at the same time?  That's exactly how I feel about both the Fair and soccer!

I love the kids' soccer team.... I told you in the post about our soccer party just what I think about the coach and the teammates.  And it even helped that last year our practices and home field were 45 minutes away and this year we moved field locations and now they are only 7 minutes away!  I have enjoyed dropping the kids at practice, coming home and getting a LOT of stuff done, and then picking them up over 2 hours later.  I seem to get so much done at home when they are at practice, probably because I know I only have so much time to get it all accomplished.  Matthew will miss getting to play soccer several times a week, but thankfully the team is going to put together an indoor team and continue to play once a week through the winter.  But now we will have full days at home to get school and housework done and maybe even have time to have some fun!

Now on to the Fair.  The Fall is a hard time of year for Rich.  Not only does he continue to work at least 50 hours a week on shift, but in the Fall he adds in working 6 NCSU football games and several off duty days at the Fair.  This year, he was able to work six 12 hour shifts at the Fair.  Add that to two 12 hour shift days at work and he worked 96 hours in 10 days!  To top it all off, his 2 days at work were 6 am-6pm, meaning he had to wake up at 4:30am!  Thankfully, this year the schedule was more manageable than in years past and he actually had 2 days off (only because he had comp time to use up.....or else you could've added 24 more work hours in that time frame!).  

We did surprise the kids with a trip to the Fair the afternoon of the opening day.  We had free tickets, didn't ride and rides, and shared some food so that we could go and not spend too much money.  Of course, we spent more money than you should spend on food in one afternoon!  But it was fun to spend an afternoon with the family before a busy 10 days was upon us.

The kids, enjoying the State Fair, 2001

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I Just Have to Say......

I wasn't going to post today because we have so much to do.....  But, I was so impressed (not in a prideful way) with something I did that I just had to share.

I've been making a lot of homemade things over the past few years and I will discuss that more in future posts.  One item I have been making is homemade chicken broth.  Normally I make it on the stove, with varying results. 

This week, I made it in the Crock Pot (2 Crock Pots, actually) and it was the best looking (and smelling!) stuff ever!

Here's what I did:  I needed some cooked chicken breasts for a few meals, so I put 5 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts in 2 Crock Pots (3 in one and 2 in the other) with about a cup of water in each.  I sprinkled the chicken with a homemade spice rub.  Then I let it cook for about 5-6 hours.  We (or rather, my husband) picked the chicken off the bone to use in future recipes.  Then we put the chicken bones and skin back in the Crock Pots.  I added water to the juices that were left over from cooking to fill up the pot.  I also added carrots, unpeeled, celery (probably a month old from my fridge) and an onion (with the peel and all) to the mixture.  Then I covered the pots and cooked them on low overnight.  It probably ended up being close to 18 hours cooking.

Then I drained the mixture into a large bowl so that the vegetables, skin and bones were strained out.  What I was left with was a deep colored, wonderful smelling, homemade chicken broth!  We all commenting on the delicious smell it had while it was cooking, but I seemed to be the only one in the family who was so excited about the great looking color!

I'll use the broth in recipes that call for broth, of course, but also in making brown rice too.  It should give a nice flavor to our meals.

From now on, I'll be making broth in my Crock Pots instead of on the stove.  So easy and delicious too!

Chicken Broth I am saving to use in Cheeseburger Soup on Sunday!  Yum!


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Party Time!

Tonight I am expecting 40 people at my house for dinner.

For some of you, that thought would make you happy.  For others, it scares you half to death!  I'm somewhere in the middle.

I am NOT a social type of person.  If given the choice, I'd prefer to have a quiet night at home than to go out.  

But this is different.  This is our 2nd Annual End of the Soccer Season Party!

Last year, we decided around noon to have the get together at our house instead of at a local pizza place.  You see, my lack of desire to socialize is eclipsed by my lack of desire to spend a lot of money.  So, instead of spending $30 on pizza, I'd rather have 35 people at my house.  The night was a blast!

So, tonight we will do the same as last year.  Everyone will pick up enough pizza for their family and head on over to our house after soccer practice.  We'll have a fire in our firepit and roast some marshmallows.  The kids will hang out and the parents will get to know each other better.

The soccer season officially ended on Friday with our final game.  We still have practices this week in preparation for a tournament.  And there's talk of the kids playing together on an indoor soccer team this winter. 

Soccer season is a very busy time.  There are practices, home games and away games (that we drive them to).  But the team consists of a great group of kids with good character and a coach who likes to win games, but would rather see the kids display godly character in a loss than poor character in a win.

Now, back to the party...... So, the house is ready (not exactly cleaned, because I'd rather do that when 35 people leave than before they come!) and the fire is ready to be started in the pit.  It looks like the weather will be nice....and I know the company will be wonderful!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Couch 2 Not Quite 5K

Almost two years ago, I ran my first 5K.  Just finishing was an accomplishment for me.  I am not a runner at all and it took 6 months of training to even get me to show up that cold, rainy December morning.  I had every intention of running another race, but it never happened.

This summer, I learned that a friend of mine was going to run in a 5K in October and I agreed to begin training and run with her.  I started back to using the "Couch 2 5K" training plan, which works very well for me.  It breaks the running schedule down by the week, gradually building up the lengths of time that you run so that by the end of the 12 week training period, you are running a 5K distance!

So, we started running in July.  What was I thinking?  In order for me not to overheat in this hot and humid southern weather, we would run when the sun went down- around 9pm.  Now, it was still hot and humid, but without the sun beating down, I could finish.  Each week I was able to build up my endurance.  Then we hosted Yana, a 23 year old lawyer from Ukraine, for 2 weeks and the training stopped.  We were just having too much fun spending time with her to get back out there each night and run.  We picked back up in August, but then soccer season started.  With practices and games, and adding in Wednesday night church, we just couldn't find the time to run more than once a week.  For natural runners like Rich and Matthew, that is not an issue.  For me, it's a 5K killer.

So, I had to back out on my commitment to run with my friend.  I was actually sad about that, which is a surprise to me since I really don't enjoy running.  But when you set out to do something that you don't think you can do, there is a bit of a letdown when you can't accomplish it.

There were evenings when I would finish a jog and actually would feel good.  There were other nights when I could barely finish.  There were also many times I easily talked myself out of running.  It did help to have my husband and my son run with me (they were well ahead of me, but they walked out of the house with me, so that's "with"!) some nights, as well as to have another friend hold me accountable on other days.

My new goal is to run a 5K in the spring.  I may need to backtrack a little in my training once the soccer season ends, but I think this is something I can accomplish.  I'll let you know how the training goes!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

It's All About Me.....

1 Corinthians 10:31 "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."  

I have a confession.... I love sugar!  This time of the year, you can find me with candy corn.  Around Christmas, it is Hershey kisses or candy canes.  In the spring, you can count on jelly beans being in my house.

While it's not a problem in itself to enjoy sweet treats, it does become a problem when they are eaten in excess in order to satisfy the cravings of my flesh.  It is sugar for me (ok, I like salty things such as chips, too!), but it may be something else for you.  It may not even be food, but a certain tv show or other habit you've grown accustomed to giving into.
In the above Scripture, we are reminded to do everything to the glory of God.  So, keeping that in mind, I need to check my heart motives behind my eating.  I do know that I like to snack in the evenings, especially when Rich is working.  That is not necessary eating, but simply because I want to.  It is giving into the selfish desires to please myself instead of pleasing God.

I know many people would say that all I need is a little willpower and that is how I can deal with this situation.  But since it is me who has gotten myself into this, it would be foolish to think that I could get myself out of it!  It is not by my power that I can do it, but with God's.  Since God was able to create the entire world, I think He is able to give me His strength to conquer fleshy cravings!

What I plan to do (and now I actually might do it with there being others who know about it!) is every time I crave salty or sweet snacks, I'm going to pause and ask God for the wisdom to decide if this is appropriate or selfish.  If it is selfish, I need to replace the time spent eating with prayer, Bible reading, spending time with my husband or kids, or doing something productive.

So, what is your craving?  What have you tried to do to get rid of it?  Have you tried asking God for the strength to get through it?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mom's Night

Proverbs 27:17 "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend."

Once a month, the women in the Homeschool I am a part of meet at one of our homes for a "Mom's Night".  We are a small group of approximately 9 families, so it is easy to get to know all of the moms.  This monthly time together is very special, as we use it to encourage each other in our homeschooling journey, as well as have fun and eat some good food!

Tonight is my turn to host Mom's Night at my house.  Rich is working and the kids will watch a movie in their rooms while the moms hang out in the living room and kitchen.  I'll make a dessert and have some coffee and hot cider available.  I've asked another mom to facilitate a fun game she has recently learned.  Usually, we'll have a topic to discuss or have an activity to do.  

This is where I'm stumped this month.  With all we've had going on these past few weeks, I haven't had the time to sit and think of what we should talk about.  I know that may sound funny to some, who know that there will not be a lack of conversation with a room full of women!  But because this is not just a time "away from our families" but a productive time, we like to have a topic to discuss to keep our conversation positive and on target.

In the past we've talked about curriculum options, Christmas traditions or a review of how the Homeschool Conference was.  We have a Christmas party with an ornament exchange and an end of year dinner out.  We have several creative moms in our group so I know we will have a few months where we will do some kind of craft.

I think maybe tonight we will talk about how we can encourage our husbands in their role as the leader of our home, as fathers to our children, and as our partner in life.  Knowing all of these moms for several years, I know they each have unique ways of encouraging their husbands, as well as ways they struggle in that area.  As the above verse from Proverbs tells us, the women in our group are there to "sharpen" each other so that we can do a better job as wives, mothers and home educators.

I am thankful for each of the women in the group that God has brought into my life and has used to encourage me and who prays for me often.  I'm looking forward to spending more time with them this evening!

Friday, October 7, 2011