An Ingredient in My Recipe for Life and a Frugal Recipe

Dear Reader,

 I’m so happy to spend a few moments of this new month with you. Like you, I have many interests and many roles and responsibilities in my life. I am a wife, mother, my children’s teacher, homemaker, friend, and of course, a daughter of the King. Each month, as I write to you, I’d like to share with you a little about an ingredient that I believe helps us create an enjoyable, rich recipe for life. I’ll also share a favorite recipe to help make your life a little easier.

Reading is an integral part of my life’s recipe. I read to learn, to relax, to hope, to plan, to dream, and to glean from the experiences of others who have walked this way before. I am primarily a non-fiction reader. A few years ago, I added more fiction to my reading. I found that although I am all grown up, I really enjoy losing myself in a good story. As a full-time wife, mother, and my children’s teacher, I welcome those moments alone.

Time alone has taken on new meaning and different forms as each of my four children were added to our little family. What used to be uninterrupted hours of free time to read or pursue hobbies and other entertainment, has shrunk to snatched moments here and there. Still, I have managed to find moments for this beloved nourishment for my mind and companionship for my soul.

By reading, I am indeed allowing the author to nourish my thoughts and my imagination. I’m also enjoying the author’s companionship as I read. That’s why I often linger over favorite books, stretching the reading over weeks or even months. To finish the book means to end the companionship, unless I find another book she’s written. I say she because most of these books are written by women about my journey with Jesus, homemaking, frugal living, or homeschooling.

As a matter of discipline, I have a goal of reading 50 books a year. I keep a journal of the title, author, date completed, and a notation stating fiction, non-fiction, or with the children. This keeps me accountable for what I read, and it helps me to see that I’m reading a good variety. I believe what Zig Ziglar used to say, “You are who you are and what you are because of what has gone into your mind.” Reading is a big part of that for me.

I encourage you to make yourself a reading goal for the remainder year. It might not be 50 books. It might be 12; but, set a goal and start reading toward it. This year I set aside 50 books on my bookshelf that I’d like to read. Perhaps my interests will lead me to different books; but, I’ve got a plan. Make a plan for yourself. Think about books that will help you with your finances, your cooking skills, your homemaking skills, your people skills, your business skills, your Christian life, a hobby or a skill that you’d like to learn. Most importantly, though, make a BIBLE goal. Make it something attainable. After all, even one book, read over and over can change you. That’s what we really want after all, isn’t it? To be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ?

Now, to give you a little more time to sneak in a little of what I call snatch reading (snatch a moment here and there), here is one of my family’s favorite soup recipes. It’s frugal, too. Put it together and let it simmer on the back of the stove or in a crock pot while you snatch a few pages! May God bless you as you seek His face.

Laura

By the way, in case you’re wondering, I do count the books I read to my children that are chapter books and some of their history readers and that sort of thing.  I don’t read 50 just for me. ~grin~

I have also discovered books loaded onto an MP3 player that can hang around my neck at my library.  They are helping me to meet my goal and also stretch beyond my normal reading genres.  I recently listened to The Audacity of Hope by President Obama.  I don’t agree with him on many of his beliefs; but, it was good to know where he stands.  I also listened to Anastasia, The Last Grand Duchess (of Russia).  It was in the youth section; but was very informative.  I like history.

Thrifty Roadkill Soup

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I spent an enjoyable afternoon with two of my best friends Wednesday afternoon.  We usually get together to make crafts, sew, or crochet.  Yesterday we decided to exchange recipes, especially thrifty ones.  Just for fun, I slipped this one in on them.  Click here for a thrifty way to use your roadkill.  It’s a real website and a real recipe.  I’m not planning on ever trying it; but, well, who knows?  My eldest son loves the whole Redneck thing and has tried possom grilled.  He likes it.  By the way, I do know it should be oppossum.  I also know everyone in Southwest Missouri just says Possum.  I do NOT recommend eating Roadkill!  This is just for Fun!  If you would like to try the recipe, please trap or shoot the critter fresh!

Laura

So happy I don’t have to eat off the road.

 

Snow, Teas, and Infusions

I’m just sitting here, enjoying a quiet snowy day.

I love the way the snow glistens when the sun hits it.

I’m thinking of putting the kettle on and making a

nice cup of tea in a little bit.  You know they say that

nothing warms like tea.  I just read a book called Time for Tea

with  Mary Engelbreit.  It was filled with her delightful

whimsical art and lots of tea tips and lore.  It is a

nice light read.   She says that the herbal teas are

actually infusions.  I guess I love infusions as

well, then.   Here are a few of my favorite teas and

infusions. 

From Bigelow:

Constant Comment is my favorite Tea. 

It’s laced with the flavor of oranges and spice. 

If I could have only one tea for the rest of my

life, this would be it.  It’s refreshing hot or cold. 

I also like Bigelow’s green tea.  I must admit that

I drink green tea because it’s good for me.

From Stash Tea Comany:

Pumkin Spice and Ruby Mist

From Celestial Seasonings:

Honey Chamomile, Sugar Cookie Sleighride,

Tension Tamer, and India Spiced Chai Tea,

and Sleepy Time, known as Teddy Bear Tea

at our house.  We also drink Peter Rabbit tea,

which is of course, chamomile.

Do you have a favorite tea that I might like to try?

Well, I think I’ll go and put the kettle on. 

Keep warm!

Cozy at home, Laura

Old Fashioned Cocoa from Scratch

My family just loves the rich flavor of old fashioned cocoa made from scratch.  Scratch means you start with basic ingredients and go from there.  I love it because I always have the ingredients on hand.  My kids will have the memory of Momma over the stove stirring the cocoa.  They come running when they hear the sound the whisk makes in the pan. 

 Here’s how I make mine.  All you need is Hershey’s cocoa, sugar, milk and a bit of water.

Old Fashioned Cocoa from Scratch

Combine 1/2 cup Hershey’s cocoa and 1 cup of white sugar in a three quart saucepan using a wire whisk.  I do this while the cocoa and sugar are still dry so that the cocoa will mix in nice and smooth without a bunch of lumps. 

Add about 1/3 cup of cold water and mix until smooth.  Bring to a boil and continue to boil it for about a minute, stirring constantly.  Don’t worry if it sticks to the sides, it’ll melt back into the cocoa as it heats up. 

Fill the pan with milk, It”ll be a little more than a half a gallon of milk.  Stir and heat using  medium heat.  If you need to walk away from it, just turn it on the lowest heat.   I check to see if it’s hot enough by dropping in a miniature marshmallow.  It’s ready when the marshmallow just starts to melt.  I offer extra milk to my little ones to cool it if they want it. 

This is so easy, we can make it any time we want it.  Read aloud time is one of our favorite times to enjoy Old Fashioned Cocoa.

Christmas on the Cheap…and Nice

Many of us are called upon to give gifts in gift exchanges, at the office, to a teacher, to friends, the list goes on and on. Many of these gifts are supposed to be of the $5 or less type.

Why not shop in the comfort of your home, from your home? Go on a treasure hunt.

Entire article available at http://harvestlanecottage.blogspot.com .

Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, or Do Without…Scrapbooking

Hello Friends,

I’ve noticed lately that a couple of my friends are using the phrase, “I’m a user not a collector.”  Many of us who like to scrapbook, whether it be Creative Memories or an eclectic style, like to collect supplies.  There’s always a new set of paper that would be just right, a cute sheet of stickers, a new gadget we want to try.  It can really be quite expensive.

I’ve had a few really tight years financially lately.  I have found that I truly am a “user” when it comes to scrapbooking supplies.  My family albums are all Creative Memories.  In the beginning, I was just too scared to use anything else.  Good marketing, eh?  I expect that I will continue to use their albums for my family albums.  I’ve been out of pages for my books for some time.  They’re rather expensive to buy.  So, when a friend asked me to come scrapbook with her, I thought of another thing to do. 

I have tons of leftover photos that were either duplicates or just didn’t make it into the CM albums.  I also needed some nice Christmas gifts for my mother-in-love and my kids.  So, off to Wal-Mart I went.  I bought acid-free cardstock, acid-free page protectors, and acid-free craft glue stick.   Then, I got busy making pages!  

I already had most of the photos separated by event or at least in chronological order in envelopes or in my big CM file box.  I just took out a file, whatever I felt like working on that night, and separated the photos into four or five piles.  Then I would make a page with whatever pretty stickers or paper I had on hand, for each of my children and/or my mother-in-love.  If I didn’t have enough photos, I’d just decide who I thought would enjoy them most and make pages for those people.  I didn’t sweat the small stuff.  I just worked quickly, with love, and enjoyed it so much: because, it didn’t have to be perfect!!!!!!!!

I journaled or put Bible verses on each page.  I then finished the pages by putting the recipient’s name and the date of the pictures on the bottom.  That way, I can do them in whatever order I want and put them in correct order later.  Freedom!!!!!!!

Lastly, all the pages went into a file folder together, in random order, until I got page protectors and notebooks to put them in.  I used 1 1/2 inch nice quality white notebooks.  They have a cover that allowed me to slide in a 10×13 photo; so, each child has an album with his or her photo on it!  Now I finally have a use for 10x 13 photos!

Shortly before Christmas, I put the books together using the acid free page protectors that you can buy in the office section of Wal-Mart.  They turned out great.  I’ve been using the same method to add to the books ever since.  I’ve already had to move one child’s pages to a larger book!  Naturally, the older ones have more photos because they’ve been alive longer!

What’s the point of telling you all of this?

FREEDOM!

I now feel free to be creative even if I don’t have the “right stuff”.  These albums may not last a hundred years; but, they are blessing my family right now.  I was putting off putting things into albums because I couldn’t do it “right”.  In the meantime, the kids were forgetting.  I don’t want to do that anymore.

So, when things get better, I expect I will continue my Creative Memories albums.  They really do have a superior product.  BUT I am not going to let my perfectionism get in the way of making wonderful memory reminders for my children NOW. 

Making do!

Just Something to Think About…

Laura

Happy at Home