I’m Rich!

I’m Rich!

 

I’ve got a great big three ring binder full of recipes. I’ve got a great big tall stack of cookbooks. I’ve got a shelf of cookbooks. I’ve got two full recipe boxes and another box started. I’ve got loose recipes in a drawer waiting to be filed in a box or binder. I’ve got recipe pamphlets in the same drawer. I’ve got recipes on my blog. Did I mention that I’ve got recipes?

As I look about me, I realize a couple of things. First, even though I’m surrounded by recipes, I tend to prepare the same meals over and over. Second, I’ve got more recipes surrounding me than I could prepare in a lifetime. I think it’s time to pare down a bit.

I was looking through my big binder a few minutes ago for a recipe to share with you all. I found that most of the recipes in my binder are ones that I’ve collected off the internet or from friends. Most of the recipes are untried. Now, if I’ve had this binder for two or three years, and I haven’t tried most of the recipes yet, why am I keeping them?

Does it make one a good cook to have lots of recipes? Does it make one a good homemaker to have lots of cleaners, recipes for cleaners or books about cleaning? Does it make one a good mother to have lots of books about child rearing? Does it make one a good Christian to have lots of Bibles and Christian books?

I think not. I think that there are many areas in our lives wherein we do not see the clutter. The truth is, I can go through my recipes and just keep my favorites and a few that I’m sure I want to try. I can go through my cookbooks and save my favorites and just write off the ones I like from the books I want to discard. The same holds true for other things in my life as well.

What about you? Are there things in your life that you are holding onto just in case? Are they things you really need? Really want? Are there things that are just clutter?

Now, I really cannot write all of this without sharing a nice salsa that you can make during the winter that is just delicious.

 

Kitchen Cupboard Salsa

1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes

1 medium diced onion (I prefer sweet.)

1 small can of chopped green chiles

1 T sugar

1 T dried parsley

½ t freshly ground pepper

½ t salt

½ t ground cumin

½ t garlic powder

Stir all this together in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.

Laura

Recipe Rich

Lower Incomes and Loss of Employment

Many of the writers of the blogs I’ve been reading as well as many of my readers are facing uncertain times.  Many are facing lower incomes or loss of employment.  It is frightening.  We ladies like our security.  We like our comforts, whatever they may be.  We like knowing that the bills will be paid, that we can buy groceries, shoes for the kids, whatever we need, and a few extras. 

Over the last five years my husband went from $60 K job to now working part-time for less than $300 a week.  He’s looking for full-time work and has been for months.  Our reality has changed dramatically.  Life doesn’t look like I thought it would or even like I’d like it to; but, I’m getting so much closer to God through this.   God has provided in amazing ways.  We were able to move to a caretaker’s cottage and take care of a country estate four the absentee owner in return for rent.  Money has come from unexpected sources with perfect timing.  Just yesterday I was thinking of some things that our children need.  I have no way of providing those things.  Today, an envelope arrived with no return address.  It was filled with cash.  Yes, cash.  There was an envelope with the children’s names and an envelope with Lowell and Laura on it.  Praise God!  We can buy wood so we can keep warm!  The children need shoes.  We can buy them!  Praise God!  God is so faithful to take care of us.  God bless the sender, who obviously sent it in faith.

My point in sharing this is that you can survive.  You’ll have to learn some new skills, learn to be content, learn to make do; but, you can do this.  You have to lean into God and get that Word hidden in your heart.  Talk to Him.  He is great at showing you every bargain if you talk to Him all the way through the store and ask Him to show them to you.  God bless you through this!
I’ve written a lot about what God’s done over the last couple of years.  Although I write on WordPress now, I have a list of my best writings on the top of my old blog, http://harvestlanecottage.blogspot.com .  You might take a look.

Blessings upon blessings to you!

Laura

More Christmas Writings…

Hello Friends,

I know we’re all busy with Christmas preparations and celebrating.  I invite you to take a break, grab a cup of eggnog or hot tea and spend a few minutes reading my Christmas writings.  I have two blogs, Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage and Harvest Lane Cottage.  I have Christmas writings on each of them.  The links to the Christmas writings are below.  Happy Christmas Friends!

Harvest Lane Cottage Christmas Writings

Laura of Harvest Lane Christmas Writings

Enjoy your Christmas preparations! 

Laura

Happy and Blessed to Be at Home with Family

Husband Bashing or Praying?

God has been so good to bring such good Christian friends into my life.  I’m so blessed to have friends that I can be completely open and honest with.  I can share my heart, the joys, the fears, the frustrations, the victories, the hopes and dreams.  They can do the same.

NO HUSBAND BASHING allowed!  Usually, we’re talking about the ways that we are trying to change, praying to change, and changing.  We talk about loving and submission, teaching and disciplining kids, recipes and what is working for us around the house. 

WE PRAY TOGETHER…for our families, ourselves, those that we know that are suffering in some way or in need, for healing, for the body of Christ, for others’ salvation, for our country’s leaders and our country itself.

Thank You God for my good friends!

Laura

Blessed Among Women in my Own Generation

Forty Ways to Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, or Do Without

Dear Readers,

I’ve been trying to Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, or Do Without for several years now. Here are some of the things I’ve done.

Ways to USE IT UP:

1. Toothpaste- Take the end of your toothbrush and slide it along the toothpaste tube, pushing all the toothpaste up toward the opening to get out all the last bits. If you’re at the end and want the very last bit, open the end with scissors and just put your toothbrush inside. You’ll get a few more brushings out of the tube.

2. Lotions- If you have body lotion or baby lotion setting around unused, you can use it for shaving lotion. I just put some in my hand, add a bit of water from the faucet and spread it on my skin. The razor slides smoothly. The same is true for unused hair conditioner.

3. Lipstick- Use a lip brush or cotton swab to get the last bits out of the container.

4. Unmatched dishes-either your own or garage sale finds. Use these to give food gifts to neighbors or friends. We have had single neighbors who really appreciate a single serving of soup or whatever meal we’re having. Using the mismatched items takes the worry away about getting your dishes back. When they’re returned, it’s just an added blessing.

5. Oftentimes, I have leftovers that I like to try to remake into something else. Soup is especially good for this. Leftover meat and gravy makes a great soup base.

6. If you have leftover bottles of cleaning supplies, use them!

7. Declutter and sell your things at yard sales.
8. Declutter your bookshelves and swap on http://www.paperbackswap.com/ . Please mention me, lauraofharvestlane, as referring you.  I’ll get a free book!
9. Sell clothes at consignment shops.
10. Sell other things on ebay.

Ways to WEAR IT OUT:

11. I tear up old towels to use as rags.

12. Wear those old tennis shoes in the creek or to mow the lawn.

13. Wear old clothes around the house; save your nicer things for going out.

14. Wear used clothes from yard sales, thrift stores, or resale stores.

15. Pass clothing down to younger children or to friends.
16. Patch those jeans! Put a pretty patch over a stain on a dress or blouse.
17. Let down the hem on your girls’ dresses. If it’s worn, add some rick rack, flat lace, or fancy machine stitching.
18. Put a ruffle around the bottom of dresses that are too short, or around legs of boys’ shorts to make them hand-me-downable to girls.
Ways to MAKE IT DO:

19. I have brushed my teeth with baking soda sprinkled on my wet brush. I have also poured a tiny bit of peroxide over my toothbrush. I’ve not tried combining them yet.

20. I’ve used my lipstick as blush. Dot it on; then blend, blend, blend.

21. Cut up old clothes or sheets into your preferred napkin size. Zigzag stitch or hem the edges. Fold them and leave them in a basket on the table or counter. It works for baby receiving blankets, too.

22. When I make jelly, I use an old pillowcase that is clean and lint free instead of a jelly bag to hang my fruit mixture in to strain.

23. Remake used or old clothing by: adding pretty patches or yo yos, dying the cloth, embroidering by hand or machine around edges or wear lines where a dress or pants were let out, or adding a ruffle or lace to make it long enough and fresh.

24. The most romantic dinners that my husband and I have had since we were married were those at home. I’d feed the kids and put them to bed early. Then, I’d either prepare something for us; or, we’d eat take out. Sometimes, we’d eat at the kitchen table or dining table, or even at a little table in our bedroom. When we lived in a second floor apartment, I’d put a tiny round table and two chairs on the balcony. Each time I’d use a nice tablecloth, candles, china or nice dishes, nice glasses or stemware. Add soft music; and, you have a wonderful setting. Give it a try!

25. You can clean a lot of things with baking soda and/or vinegar. Do some research.
26. Old baskets can be had for a song at many yard sales. You probably have some on hand. They can be spray painted for an updated look or to put goodies in for a gift.
27. Mismatched dishes in a color scheme, from yard sales, look pretty when set on a lovely table cloth.  Right now, I’m collecting white stoneware.
28. A sheet will work for a tablecloth. A two yard length of fabric hemmed at the ends can also make a tablecloth for many tables.  Sometimes I don’t even hem it!
Ways to DO WITHOUT:

29. Don’t go shopping for entertainment. Stay away from the mall and on-line shopping. It’s a whole lot easier to do without the latest greatest if you don’t go shopping for fun.

30. Stay home. Gas is a luxury these days; so limit trips.

31. Combine trips when you do need to go out. We have to go to a nearby city for some things we need. I like to combine everything I can think of that I need to do in that city on that day. This gets me to Hobby Lobby more frequently than I would get to go otherwise. ~smile~
32. Use a bicycle, if you have one.
5. Shop locally.
33. Invite friends for a pot luck. Share the cost of the meal by having others bring dishes to share.
34. The fewer ingredients in a recipe, the simpler and more cost effective it usually is. Steak is a notable exception to this rule. ~smile~

35. Rethink why you eat. Really, it’s just to fill your tummy and to give you nutrition. Rice and beans can do that just as well as meat and potatoes.

36. Always think about what precedents you are setting with your children. A new bike for a birthday or Christmas sets a high precedent for next year. Designer tennis shoes or clothes set a high precedent for next year.
37. Don’t allow your children to watch Saturday morning cartoons. The commercials are designed to make your children into Gimme Monsters.
38. Stay away from toy stores and toy aisles. Don’t let your little darlings see what other accessories there are to go with their toys!
39. Stay away from craft and fabric stores!  Eek!  I knew you wouldn’t like that one!
40. Do a Bible study on contentment. “Do not covet your neighbors______. You fill in the blank.
May God bless you as you journey along this life using it up, wearing it out, making it do and doing without… CHEERFULLY! That part can come only from God!
Blessings,
Laura

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.

What is Salvation?

Someone dear to me sent me a note  and asked me a question the other day.  It was such a simple question, but so important:

What is salvation?

What is salvation?   I’ve been a Christian for  twenty-nine years now.  It’s such an important question, and I care about this person so much that I just couldn’t think how to answer.  So the e-mail has just been sitting in my inbox.  The most important subject in the world, and I couldn’t think what to write!  So, I’m just going to write and hope that the Holy Spirit steps in where I fall short.

The God of the Bible is our Creator.  He loves us and wants to have a personal relationship with each one of us.   He doesn’t want us to have a religion; He wants us to know Him and let Him be the Lord, the one in charge, of our lives. 

The problem is that we are sinful people.  Sin doesn’t really need to be defined.  We know when we’ve done wrong.  Our conscience tells us.  God wrote it on our hearts from the beginning.  We spend our lives trying to justify our thoughts and actions.  We keep a running tally in the backs of our minds whether we want to or not.  For me, this lead to bitterness and anger.  All the things I knew I should do and didn’t, and all the things that I knew I shouldn’t do and did, screamed guilt at me. 

Enter Jesus. 

There’s nothing that you or I can do to live up to the holiness and perfection and righteousness of God.  There’s nothing we can do to be good enough for God; because, the first bad thing we did, the first sin separated us from God.  We need a way to get a fresh start with God, a new beginning.  

David said in Psalms 51, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.”  He later said, in verse 10, “Create in me a new clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

The only way we can be cleaned up and get that fresh start, is to receive it from God.  God knew this and had a plan to reconcile us to Himself and to save us both from hell and from a life apart from Him.

That plan was one perfect man given as a sacrifice for the sins of all men; because as Romans 6:23 states, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”   The problem was and is that everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

God made a way by sending His own son, Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God with Us, all God and all man, to be our Savior.  There was no other way that this could happen.  Just prior to being crucified on the cross, Jesus, the only sinless man ever to live, prayed. And  He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”  Mark 14:36.   There was and there is no other way to be reconciled to God or to go to Heaven.  It is a narrow way, the only way.

The most quoted verse of Scripture is probably John 3:16. 

“16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. ” New King James Version

We have the opportunity to be reconciled to God, to have a relationship to God as our Father in Heaven, to have His Holy Spirt give us a clean heart, a new heart, through the shed blood of Christ Jesus.  

We can be born again.  We can start fresh with all of our sins forgiven, simply by believing  that Jesus’ death and resurrection was the payment for our sins, all of our sins, all we ever did or will do.

9That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. Romans 10:9-10

We receive the Holy Spirit in our hearts when we receive salvation.

Then we daily read the Word of God, our Bibles, and pray, and ask the Lord to speak to us through His Word.  He will.

I highly recommend you read The Steps to Peace on Billy Graham’s website www.billygraham.org

I’m praying for you that you will choose Jesus, Salvation, the Word of God, and eternal life.

With love,

Laura

Trapped…and Released

“Based on the information available today and the terms of the contract in force today, benefits will be available if the service is medically necessary.” Ten, twenty, thirty, forty times a day I would repeat that phrase. I was a customer service correspondent for Blue Cross and Blue Shield. I answered the phone all day long, explaining benefits, helping with medical claims that weren’t processed correctly or were misunderstood. I couldn’t answer the phone, fill out a form, or sneeze without putting a tally mark on a piece of paper so that my employer would be able to keep track of every moment of my day. I felt, with my headset attached to the phone system and my computer in front of me, like a dog on a chain. I was trapped. I must admit that for the most part, in the almost 18 years since I’ve been home with my children, that I’ve either forgotten or blocked out most of what it was like to be stuck in a job that I didn’t like, making too much money to quit, but not enough to get ahead. I was so young I didn’t appreciate the medical benefits except for maternity! I still remember the day, January 18, 1991 as my emancipation day, the day I was released! ~smile~

I think it’s good for me to remember, to appreciate the freedom I have now in comparison. No. I don’t have money to buy things I want most of the time. No, I can’t do all the things I want to, unless they’re free. Yes, it’s worth it. Being home with my children has been a wonderful privilege that my husband, God, and my willingness to go without have offered me. My children are different than they would have been if I’d been at work and they’d been at school. I thank God that I’ve been there to instill our beliefs, our faith, and our values in their lives as well as to teach them.

I also think that it’s good for me to reflect on what I would have been like, what I might have done, if not for Jesus, and on what I did do before Jesus. Our Pastor spoke Sunday about a man who killed many people at a Christmas party last week. He said that apart from Christ and the Holy Spirit in him, he could have been that man. Any one of us could have been that man. If we didn’t have Jesus, we would be at the mercy of whatever the world and Satan enticed us with. Desperation, fatigue, worry, fear, anxiety, hopelessness, anger, as well as a host of other pressures and sins would assail us.

Thank God for Jesus Christ and the work of salvation that he did at the cross. We have the opportunity to be reconciled to God, to have a clean conscience and a clean slate before Him in spite of our past sins. We have to choose to accept Jesus’ death being the payment for our sins and believe that he is resurrected, at God’s right hand in Heaven. Then, we must wash ourselves by reading the Word of God, the Holy Bible, daily, asking for God to fill us over and over with His Holy Spirit.

I need to remember what I was and what God had done for me through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. I need to press forward, focusing more and more on God’s word and what He wants to do in me, my family, my church, and my community.

I ask God to bless you all as you think reflectively upon these things.

Laura
Thankful to be home and His

My Daybook…

FOR TODAY, DECEMBER 8TH…
Outside my window…darkness.  It’s far before dawn here in Missouri.

I am thinking… I need to get busy.  I have to go to a nearby city for my husband’s office Christmas party.  I found out last night that we are to bring “White Elephant” gifts.  The $ limit is $10.  I’ll be shopping at home from my stash!
I am thankful for… an e-mail from my grandma!  She’s recently moved and I lost her for a few weeks!
From the learning rooms…  a shortened day because of my trip.  Definitely math, language arts, and reading.

From the kitchen…  quick and simple.  Breakfast-toast.  Lunch-soup made from yesterday’s leftover brisket, potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic.
I am wearing… Must I say?  I’m wearing my flannel nightgown.  It’s only 5:30 in the morning here as I write.
I am creating… a list in my head of things I want to create.  I’ll be writing them down soon.  Today, as we drive, I’ll probably be crocheting a hanging handle on a dishtowel.  I have a friend who has ordered two from me.   She doesn’t need them until after Christmas; but, it’s a project that will travel well.
I am going… to my husband’s office Christmas party.
I am hoping… to keep myself organized during this week.  After this week, much of the busy-ness of the season will be finished.  Then, I can focus on finishing projects.
I am hearing… nothing but the hum of the computer, the click of the keys, and silence.  It’s early, mind you!
Around the house… a few things to put away from the weekend…lots of laundry to be done…some ironing to do…more decorating to do.
One of my favorite things…poinsettias!  I hope my Honey reads this and gets the hint!
A few plans for the rest of the week:

Monday- Office Christmas Party

Tuesday-Homeschool Support Group Christmas Party

Wednesday-Caroling and ringing the bells at Wal-Mart with our church to raise money for Salvation Army.

Thursday-Kids’ homeschool Christmas Party

Friday-Friend’s Christmas party

Saturday-Craft fair in the day, just attending, and a Christmas play that night.

Sunday-possibly going to Branson to take in a show, if I can find a babysitter.

BREATHE LAURA BREATHE!
Here is picture thought I am sharing…

Making Cookies

Making Cookies

Visit the Simple Woman’s Daybook to see what other ladies are doing this week and to join in the fun.

It will be a very busy week, full of Christmas party preparations.

The only really important way that we must prepare for Christmas is in our hearts.  The rest of it is all for fun.  Let’s not forget that.  Jesus is the reason that we celebrate Christmas.  Jesus, the baby in the manger, God’s son, grew up to be the sinless sacrifice for our sins.  Let’s reclaim this holiday this year.

Laura

Keeping my Focus