Friday, August 31, 2007
If you're like me, sometimes you get to the end of the month and you need to wait till payday to get groceries. Now I'm very blessed, and we always have something in the house to eat and plenty of it, but often by the end of the month it is just getting a little...boring. I guess that's the price you pay for getting groceries monthly.
Anyway, I was looking for something a little different to make using what I had, and someone in the blogosphere mentioned vegetable soup. Perfect! Cheap, easy, and I had everything I needed. And the thing is, that even if your cupboard is looking like Mother Hubbards, most of us keep these basic ingredients around. Since fall is around the corner (well, not here, but everywhere else in the Northern Hemisphere), this is a great thing to make anyway.
Here's what you'll need.
Vegetables. Frozen mixed veggies, canned mixed veggies (like Veg-All), or best of all, the wilting carrots, celery, zucchini, or whatever, and sprouting potatoes that need to be used before they spoil, with a can of green beans and/or corn thrown in for good measure.
Tomato product of some kind. Almost anything works. The goal is just to make a nice tomato-ey broth. Canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato juice, V-8, fresh peeled and chopped tomatoes, or even salsa (for Mexican veggie soup) or spaghetti sauce (for an Italian flair).
An onion, or onion powder, or dehydrated onion flakes.
Salt, pepper, parsley, bay leaves and whatever other seasonings you fancy.
And here's how you make it.
Pour the mixed veggies in a big pot, or chop the fresh ones. If you're using fresh, just start with hard vegetables like carrots and add the fast-cooking ones a little later.
Add tomato product. If you're using juice, you don't necessarily need to add water. If you aren't using juice, add enough water to cover everything nicely. Add onions and seasonings, and simmer till the veggies are soft enough to your liking and everything looks yummy. Eat with crackers or, best of all, fresh homemade bread or cornbread, which is also cheap and takes just a few staple ingredients! Yummmm!!!
Oh, and if you want you can add a bit of meat with the veggies--whatever you have on hand. Stew meat, ground beef, ham, sausage, whatever. Then it's not veggie soup, but a bit heartier for the men in our midst.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
The other day I was feeling down and overwhelmed and a little snappy. My 6yo asked if I was upset, and I told her how I was feeling. She replied in the sweetest possible way, "Mama, could you please just get over it?"
I remembered all the times she (or the other two) have had bad attitudes or complaining hearts and I've told them that they just need to "get over it." Not to be heartless, but just because we can't always have our way and that is no reason to be mad at the world. We have choices about how we respond, and it's better for us and everyone else if we choose to respond positively.
Well, we have double standards sometimes, don't we? I thought about her request for a minute and then said, "Yes, I guess I can." We can't always choose our circumstances, but we can choose how we respond to them, right?
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I found these two pics of Elizabeth cooking for me when I was looking through some photos today. Yesterday she mixed up a double batch of banana nut muffins (from scratch), which is not above the skill level of a 6yo with supervision. What a help she is to me! Teach your kids to do things for themselves at an early age and they will be helpful and independent as they grow older!
Dear Donetta at A Life Uncommon gave me the Nice Matters award. I'm so touched. Thank you, Donetta! As usual, I can never decide who to pass these awards on to. There are so many sweet people in the blogosphere. So if you read here, consider yourself awarded!
Sunday, August 26, 2007
With some friends, we took the kids to the beach Saturday. It's nice to now live close enough to a beach that we can go for a day trip. We had a wonderful time and came back sunburned and exhausted. It was a very family-friendly spot, not the best beach in the world, but still nice and not at all crowded. Billy fished and we spotted many dolphins swimming not far from shore. Sarah was excited about wearing her "swimmy soup." A wonderful day...
Friday, August 24, 2007
On our last trip to visit Billy's parents, I came home with this lovely quilt top, probably pieced by one of his great-grandmothers. The backing is even attached--all I have to do is add batting (from my stash), baste, and quilt. A true treasure!
By the way, check out my new blog, Simple Craft!
Show and Tell Fridays hosted by Kelli.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Just wanted to share a couple links that have brought me joy this week.
First, I never tire of reading Jewels' blog, Eyes of Wonder. It's an endless source of inspiration for mothering, homemaking, and simple, gracious living. And Jewels has to have one of the most loving hearts on the internet. I have to say that when I saw the (lovely) pictures of her family, I didn't expect such graciousness. I guess you can say I have not always had good experiences with people in that subculture (some of you will know what I mean). But the non-critical, loving spirit that pours forth in Jewels' writing is some of the sweetest I've ever read.
Second, I really enjoyed this post from angry chicken, not made in china. Amy has wonderful thoughts about toys, especially "Rethink what a toy is." A snippet to whet your appetite:
My fondest memories of growing up are of doing things with my parents. Not of the toys I had. Baking cookies that were in the shape of Richard Scary characters with my Mom is one of my favorite all time memories. So was any craft project I did with her. Giving kids kits, raw materials, and then the promise of a project is a great gift. Like fabric and thread with a pattern. Wood scraps and a miter box, with real tools. Pots and soil and some seeds. Tickets to a play or concert. Wrapping up cupcake mix layered in a jar with a recipe - that type of thing. I think this works better for kids older than toddlers, but toddlers need very few toys...
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Come check out my new project--a blog strictly devoted to simple craft. I've had some ideas swirling around in my mind for awhile; hopefully this new blog will help bring them to fruition. If you've been reading here for awhile, everything that's up there now will look familiar. Hopefully soon I'll have new projects to post. This will still be my primary blog, but I plan to update the other blog several times a week to build a solid readership of crafty people. It will also be good accountability to make sure that I always have some kind of craft work in progress. I've strongly hesitated to start another blog, simply because I don't have that much time to devote to blogging, but since this one has a narrow focus and it will be more of a photo/project blog than a written one, I hope I can keep up. Also, having a goal in mind will provide added motivation.
Here it is: Simple Craft
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
As I mentioned before, Billy is starting a young adult Bible study. Sunday night we had our group leadership team over for dessert and planning. I have to admit, I was very tired, the house was not getting clean as fast as it needed to, the dessert would not get done, and for a moment I thought, Why in the world did we try to do this here?!!! But just for a moment. I realized that this is what I've been praying for. Let's face it, I spend most of my time at home with my three little ones, and my opportunities to get to know others for the purpose of sharing Christ's love is very limited. This can be frustrating at times. I've been greatly encouraged by Nancy Campbell's testimony of how she, too, was a mother of many children, but that hundreds of people have heard the gospel in their home because she and her husband continuously extend hospitality. She painted a wonderful picture of the power of the home in reaching the world for Christ. I've asked God to give me the same opportunity. And this meeting was just a very tiny part of that.
It was such a joy to gather around our big table to brainstorm, share our hearts, learn each others' stories, and pray together for the largely unchurched young people who are our target group. I think each of us caught a glimpse of the potential of people willing to reach out to those others are not reaching, to befriend them and love them with the love of Christ. Billy's life is the fruit of just such a couple who opened their hearts and home to a rowdy bunch of twenty-somethings and more or less loved and prayed them into the Kingdom. Some of the people who have been most influential in my spiritual healing and growth are those who invited me into their homes when I was hurting and lonely. And Sunday night as we gathered, I realized afresh that the seeds we plant through Bible study, relationships, and hospitality, can literally change the course of generations.
In the end, it really wasn't that hard. The main areas of the house were presentable (with my family's help!), we had enough dessert, and the most important thing is that we actually met. A welcoming heart is the most important ingredient in hospitality, not perfection. And there is something about a home that is unlike anywhere else. In a home, people open up faster, get to know each other better, and often feel more comfortable than in any other setting. It didn't take me long to feel great joy that we had opened our home. And somehow by the end of the evening, I wasn't so tired any more.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
I recently hung these old kitchen utensils over my sink. I don't know why I like them--they're a reminder of days gone by, perhaps...and they are artistically interesting. I especially like the sifter. It still has the original price tag--35 cents. I think Billy (and probably other people) think I am a little weird, but looking at these tools of the trade make me happy.
Show and Tell Friday hosted by Kelli.
What I read this morning, however, takes the cake. Read about Russia's bizarre attempts to encourage procreation at Barbara Curtis' Miz Report (her political blog which I rarely read...But this was just too crazy to skip!).
Russians given time off to procreate
Meanwhile back at the ranch: youth indoctrination in Russia
Warning: mature content
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
I had a good-sized collection of books when Billy and I got married, mostly children's books my parents gave me during my growing up. Ever since, we've been collecting books from garage sales, library book sales, and other places here and there. At first I just got children's story books. Billy gravitated toward old children's science and history (and of course, grown-up theology). I quickly saw the merit in collecting non-fiction as well (although story books still have a special place in my heart--and my book bag). I rarely pay more than a dollar for these books. Often they cost from 10 to 50 cents.
This week, Silas (who's 4) and Elizabeth (6) got on a map kick. They wanted to know all about maps...Where certain places were...If the blue was water (Silas's question)...On and on. It was such fun to be able to pull these two books off my shelf to get them started. When we got home from church that night, Billy turned them on to Google Earth. They stayed up late looking at places around the world, and I can hardly pull them away from it now. They are virtual world travelers.
You've probably heard the saying by William Butler Yeats, "Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire." It's such a joy to actually see this in action. I feel very fortunate that my children are in an environment where we have the freedom to drop everything and pursue something when they are interested in it. That's how passions are born. I'm especially happy that we've taken the time and invested the (relatively small) amount of money to make sure we have resources on hand when interest strikes (or just when it's time to study a particulars subject). Our little home library is increasingly important in our children's education. What fun, when they express an interest in something to be able to say, "We have a book about that!"
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Remember the old house next door? Well, all that is left of it is a pile of splintered boards. However, we were fortunate to get some of the scrap lumber and these wonderful windows. The picture is not so great--sorry.
So...Does anyone have any ideas for old windows? I asked one friend and she said she's seen a few ideas. Some people bust the glass and twine fake ivy around them. I suppose you then hang it on the wall. She also said she had seen old windows made into mirrors (with mirror glass in place of the panes). Another idea was to create photo collages behind the glass.
Now I am goofy and I think they are pretty just as they are. I would hang them as art. But I can almost guarantee that Billy would not appreciate that, and since this is his house too, I try to avoid decorating with things he really does not like.
The paint is certainly lead, so they will need to be safely cleaned and painted over. Quite honestly, I have no real need for 10 windows, so I might fix some of them up in the ways my friend suggested (or according to any of the wonderful ideas I know you all will come up with!), and sell them.
Which brings up another idea, for the far future. I read one time on a blog about some ladies who painted old furniture and had a twice yearly shabby chic yard sale. All the furniture was painted white, cream, or pale pink, and it became a much-anticipated event with returning customers. I love this idea for several reasons.
First, the cost would be fairly small. You can get beat up old furniture that is still structurally sound for just a few dollars, and sometimes for free. Paint and minimal hardware is not that expensive either. A coat of paint can turn an ugly piece of furniture into a true treasure.
The other thing is that you could work on it throughout the year. If you picked up pieces all year for a few dollars, and spent a few hours here and there painting, the time involved would not be that great either. In a year's time, you could build up quite a collection. The only problem with this is that you'd have to have a place to store the stuff, which I do not. Like I said, this is something I'd like to do in the future.
Finally, if you had it as a yard sale, you would not have to pay for a space or booth at a craft fair or antique mall. So...The place would be free.
I actually found an interesting article about this type of idea.
OK, now my other question.
I was recently fortunate enough to be given some wonderful, high-quality old sheets and pillow cases. However, even after a thorough washing in hot water, they still have a musty, old-house smell. Does anyone know how to get rid of this? I can't wait to use them, so I'm looking forward to your replies!
A wonderful package arrived in the mail a few days ago from Windy, aka Hannah's Mom. Not only is she a dear blog friend, she is my cousin's wife. We've never met face-to-face, but that seems hard to believe, especially after she chose these two books so perfectly for me.
I can't wait to sit down and read them to the kids. Windy also sent an adorable bread tube and some yummy-looking tea. Thank you so much, Windy! Everything is perfect!
A couple of this morning's Yahoo headlines:
Temps hit century mark in south
It's been this hot for weeks here. I've never lived in a place with such scorching temperatures. At 7am it's as hot as it's been at 10 or noon any other of the very hot places I've lived. Thank God for air conditioning. People who lived here before that was available must have been some of the toughest on earth.
Ala. city considers end to alcohol sales
This is actually not uncommon across the South. When I lived in Texas there were still many dry counties. While I certainly think Christians have more important things to devote their energies to than banning alcohol, this isn't new news.
Monday, August 13, 2007
On one hand it's been quite uneventful here; on the other, it's been...Intense. Not as much busy as that I have just been tired and rather emotionally drained and feeling a bit scattered.
Billy is getting ready to start a GAP bible study class at church. GAP stands for graduates and professionals...Kind of a college and career age class. I will be helping him. It should be such fun. I have helped him start several classes through the years, and I've enjoyed it each time. I have taught Sunday School on my own before, but I find that we work much better as a team. Or I should say I work better when we work as a team (he always does great). I feel more gifted to serve in a helping capacity rather than an "in-charge" capacity, which has been a disaster every time I have tried it. Helping him just feels right.
He is gearing up for other teaching and outreach opportunities, so our fall is shaping up to be a busy one. We are so blessed to be in the church we're in. Of course it is not perfect (just like any church is not perfect), but it is a wonderful fit for us. We're very happy here.
This morning a friend brought her two little boys over to play while we moms visited. She is starting MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) here at the church, something I've long wanted to be involved in, so we have lots to talk about. The kids enjoyed playing too.
This afternoon my assignment is to prepare a hurricane plan should we ever need it. I don't like to think about that, but when you live as close to the coast as we do now, it is always a possibility. In fact, evacuation is a given at some point. Our pastor said they evacuated 8 times in the first 5 years they lived here. When we lived in a different area and housed Katrina evacuees, I was amazed at the lifetime New Orleans residents who left home with only the clothes on their backs because they had no plan. Now we live in a place where hurricanes happen, and we don't want to be caught unprepared, especially since it's more a matter of when than if.
Other than all that, I have just been doing normal things...Cooking, laundry, cleaning, schooling. Which reminds me. I have no idea what to have for supper tonight. I totally forgot to thaw a chilcken as I planned. Oh dear. Any ideas for a quick and nutritious supper with few ingredients?!!! I feel more confused and less perky than the woman in the picture above, that is for sure.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
I know I am so behind on replying to emails and comments lately. I've had a few intense days around here, and hope to be back in a normal routine soon. I'm not ignoring you all, promise!
(By the way, Gina W., I replied to your email, but it bounced. Do you have a new address? Please try again, my friend!)
Friday, August 10, 2007
Last time we visited Billy's parents, we came back with several boxes of wonderful antiques and household items (true to their generous nature). I'm not normally a fan of 70's stuff, but I thought these adorable little mugs would be perfect kid cups, and I was right. My children think they are the greatest thing and they've all but replaced the unattractive plastic we've used forever. Bright colors, cheerful designs, they are sturdy and stackable. Can't get much better than that!
Show and Tell Friday is hosted by Kelli.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Check out Retro Whimsy's blog and website for some of the cutest stationery I've ever seen.
And now I'm off to clean my house from end-to-end. Did somebody say something about laundry too? Looks like I have my work cut out for me!
This is our dog Boudreaux. He has been sick for a very long time. We love him very much. When I was little, Boudreaux was sitting down below my daddy's chair. My dad had a red shirt on. It looked pink. He had the glasses that go over your eyes on him. I was on his lap. This was in a picture we have. Boudreaux used to lay down on the floor and let me sit on him like a horse. He is still alive. The end.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
For Artsy Mama's blog party I thought I'd show you my exceptional skill as a photographer and photo editor. NOT!!! (Actually, my sweet little girl took the picture. Pretty good for a 6-year-old. She says that I should tell you this is a picture of my teenage daughter. Which I don't have. The
Well, at least I got this picture of the apron I made last night stuck up here. I just traced around an apron I already had, plus a little extra for hemming. It only took about an hour from start to finish, and isn't the bird fabric great?
But that isn't really what I wanted to show you anyway. I love simple craft, and my most-googled post ever, probably, is this one:
Totally Cheating French Photo Board Tutorial, Sort Of
Such a fun and easy project!
Or you can check out all my simple craft posts.
What I'd really love is if one of you super artistic photographers would write a post on taking good pictures...
Anyway, if you love to craft, check out the rest of the artsy and craftsy posts at Artsy Mama's blog party. Wow, you people are so talented.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
I've never won anything before that I recall, and recently I've won several things...I'm a bit behind on telling you all about it (vacation sort of got in the way).
First, I was so excited to win a copy of Nancy's ebook, Haircuts for Little Men. I know learning to cut Silas' hair will save lots of money, and I imagine that if God gives us any more little boys (Elizabeth's prayer), it will become even more of a necessity. Thank you so much Nancy! (By the way, you can purchase this ebook for yourself here!)
Then I won a super cool gift from dear Windy. It hasn't arrived yet, but I'm looking forward to seeing it "in person". Windy's picture is so tantalizing! Thank you, Windy!
Finally, Christina awarded me this schmooze award. First I laughed and wasn't sure whether to be flattered or not :)...Till I read the explanation.
"In the real world a schmoozer is someone who will 'suck up' in order to be recognized. Here in the blog world things are different. (Thank Goodness!) This award goes to bloggers 'who effortlessly weave their way in and out of the blogosphere, leaving friendly trails and smiles, happily making new friends along the way. They don’t limit their visits to only the rich and successful, but spend some time to say hello to new blogs as well. They are the ones who engage others in meaningful conversations, refusing to let it end at a mere hello - all the while fostering a sense of closeness and friendship.' Don't you just love that description."
Well, hey, this is the blogosphere, I guess we can make up our own definitions, huh?! (Note the explanation differentiated between the "real world" and the "blog world". Definitely two different worlds. We have our own dictionary.) Thanks Christina! You are so sweet!
I am supposed to pass this one on...Hmmm, I will have to think about that...
Why do I participate in World Breastfeeding Week? Well, the reasons, first, are personal. I believe in breastfeeding because it’s been so beneficial for my own three little ones, and for me. My main goal is encouragement. Breastfeeding is good for mamas and babies. Our medical community (as a whole) is concerned about low breastfeeding rates in our country and they are aggressively campaigning to bring those rates up. The reason? Because it’s a healthy choice. Billy asked our pediatrician (not the one referenced here) whether he saw a health difference in breastfed babies versus those fed formula, and he stated emphatically, “Oh, yes.” If more women exclusively breastfed till 6 months, the lives of over 1 million babies would be saved this year, according to UNICEF. That’s a lot of babies. So if anything I say can encourage or help someone who is thinking about breastfeeding, then I’ve met my goal. Whether you breastfeed or not, I won’t stand in judgment of you. But if you make the choice to breastfeed your baby, I’m here to cheer you on!
Monday, August 06, 2007
Here are a few great breastfeeding blogs. Such great sources of information for breastfeeding moms or those interested in breastfeeding! Of course I must issues a disclaimer...I don't necessarily endorse everything on said blogs (or any blogs I link to, for that matter), so read with discernment.
Black Breastfeeding Blog
Infant Feeding History
Another great source of breastfeeding information is La Leche League, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
Finally, Breastfeeding.com was a wonderful source of information and support to me as a new mom. Their message boards are fabulous. I must say, though, I would stay away from the debate forum. It's truly vicious, especially if you are a Christian or political conservative. But ironically, the same people who will rip you to shreds over politics or religion will rush to your aid when you post an SOS on a breastfeeding forum. So...Just use discretion.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
I know I have mentioned before what wonderful in-laws I have. I just have to say it again. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law had gone to the camp and mowed, moved trash, cleaned it up outside, fixed the commode and quite a few other things. It looked great when we got there. Thanks, y'all!
La Leche League was founded many years ago to provide education and support for women who wish to breastfeed. It's not always easy, and it's not always accepted. Sometimes you need encouragement or advice RIGHT NOW. Recently LLL announced that they have a hotline!
They say: "toll-free phone help is available 24 hours a day, anywhere in the US, providing information, education, and support for women who want to breastfeed, healthcare providers, and others".
Friday, August 03, 2007
I think many times people don’t breastfeed, or don’t breastfeed successfully, simply because of misinformation. I’ve heard many breastfeeding myths in my short mothering career.
Once, several years ago, a mother of two teenagers told me wistfully, “I wanted so much to breastfeed my children, but I didn’t make enough milk. Everything went fine till they were three weeks old, and then they wanted to eat every hour and a half.” She so obviously still bore the disappointment of her failure that I didn’t feel it would serve any purpose to tell her that her experience was completely normal and that she almost surely could have breastfed successfully. Babies go through a growth spurt around three weeks which causes them to eat more often to increase mama’s milk supply. Furthermore, some babies need to eat every hour and a half even when they are not on a growth spurt. Babies have different sized tummies and different eating personalities. One of mine was a “grazer” who nursed every hour for the first 6 months of life. It didn’t mean I wasn’t making enough milk.
Other mothers have told me similar stories…They wanted to breastfeed but they didn’t make enough milk, or their milk was “bad”. These stories were always told as though it’s common, even normal, for a mother to not be able to breastfeed. Certainly there are cases where a woman isn’t able to breastfeed, but those cases are by far the exception, with proper information and help.
Some of the worst myths I’ve heard have been from people in the medical profession. When Billy was in the hospital with emergency surgery and I had a 4-month-old who had never taken a bottle, a nurse told me this: “Be careful or your milk will sour.” WHAT? Sure, stress can cause your supply to suffer, but sour milk…no (and yuck!). How sad that a medical professional wasn’t able to offer more constructive—or accurate--advice than that.
At Silas’ two week checkup, the pediatrician saw his excellent weight gain and said, “Oh, that’s good. I always worry about these breastfed babies So often they won’t gain weight.” I just looked at him in disbelief. This was a pediatrician? What in the world would cause him to make such a statement? Was his practice dominated by Ezzo followers or something? How could any well-informed person, especially a doctor, contend that many or most breastfed babies cannot gain weight? That ignorant statement cost him our business. We never went back.
So there are a few breastfeeding myths I’ve heard. It makes me sad, because breastfeeding is so beneficial for both mom and baby on so many levels. It’s unfortunate that such misinformation is so freely circulated, and that so many moms don’t believe they can breastfeed based on this kind of faulty advice.
What breastfeeding myths have you heard?
And a bonus: Last year's WBW posts:
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Meanwhile, check out the Motherwear blog. Also, Kristen linked to the CDC breastfeeding report card, broken down state by state. Looking at the state where I live...DEPRESSING! Hopefully some of yours fare better!