Creating for a purpose

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Lately I’ve been trying to get away from buying things at the store that I know I can make myself. First of all, let me just be clear, I am all for convenience when it is “necessary”. Of course, this looks different to everyone, but we are at a season in life that is very busy. We have six children under 11 and let’s just be honest, there are only so many hours in a day. That means we have to use what we have wisely.

When I was pregnant with baby Z, convenience (and having a husband who is willing to do whatever needs doing!) was the only way I made it through the day sometimes. It also helps to have a 10 year old who can cook!! I don’t like to waste items or money that don’t need to be wasted. That being said, sometimes it’s nice to use some paper plates and not have to do the dishes at the end of the day.

As my energy has returned, I have begun cutting back on conveniences. And as always, Pinterest is a WONDERFUL place for inspiration.  I could easily spend hours and hours going through all of the fantastic ideas I find on there. But then, when would I find time to actually do some of those projects??

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Well, this past week I actually did find some time to whip up some fabric “paper” towels. It definitely helped that we took the week off of school as well.  It was a nice break in our routine, but I’m not sure we will be continuing it. I have a whole different post that will be coming on my thoughts about how it worked for us. I know it works well for some people who are doing year-round schooling to have week-long breaks in their year, but honestly, I think it was too long for us.

Anyways, back to the fabric “paper” towels. All I did was take some old fabric sheets we had and I figured out roughly what size I wanted the towels to be. (They are different sizes since I just eyeballed my towels…I am really bad about following patterns when it comes to things like this! I also don’t pin if I don’t have to….ever….ssshhhhh, it’s our little secret!) I cut out two pieces of the sheet and then simply zigzagged around the edges with the wrong sides together. Tah-dah! Done! 🙂 Sweet, simple, and effective. I ended up with ten towels and they have already seen quite a bit of use around the kitchen. I also don’t mind if these end up getting thrown away eventually because a) I can make more and b) they are already a re-purposed item.

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All this to say, I’m still buying paper towels! 🙂 No seriously, I use them as wipes for G and baby Z. But, I only spend about $9 once a month to buy them so I don’t feel too bad. I have used cloth wipes and diapers in the past. I LOVE cloth diapers and wipes, but again, sometimes convenience allows us to get through the day with our sanity intact! I might get back to them someday…but again, I have trouble paying for things I can make myself. And all of our old cloth diapers are worn out. They lasted through four children very solidly but have seen better days at this point. So I would have to invest some time making them, which I would gladly do, if I could find a couple more hours in a day…

Proverbs 31:13

She seeks wool and flax, And willingly works with her hands.

 

What have you been working on? Any exciting (or simply practical!) projects in the works?

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Planning not worrying

So I finally did it.  I finally bit the bullet and bought myself a pressure canner.   Yup, that’s my big news for the week! But seriously, with all that has been going on with the hurricanes in the south, wildfires out west, and WINTER IS COMING my husband finally talked me into just doing it. Just buy the darn thing and get on with it!

I have a water bath canner, but I can’t can veggies, meat, broth, etc. so it is a needed item. And it’s an item I have wavered on buying for ten years. It is one of those things that I just kept putting off buying. Well, sure I need/want one, but we also want/need all these other things as well. But I finally did it (well, almost, it is still sitting in our Amazon cart!), and the timing couldn’t be better. It is September, harvest season, preparedness month, time to get on with it!

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With all the natural disasters going on right now, we do have to plan ahead. I know that I have written about some of my views about self-sufficiency before, but I do believe that we should be prepared to a certain extent. Yes, God will provide all we need, but hiding our heads in the sand and pretending that there aren’t real issues going on is wrong. God will provide, but He also provides for us now. He provides plenty so we can place some away for when there isn’t any. Yes, trust ultimately in His generosity, but also realize when He provides above and beyond our current needs.

Since it is National Preparedness Month, I have been thinking a bit more about what would happen if we didn’t have access to the grocery store. Even if it was for a couple of days or weeks, would we be ok? Would we have enough food on hand to make it through? Would we have enough variety to not experience food fatigue? I was inspired to can up some Apple Butter, we made some Apple Jelly, and I have some more apples waiting to be made into Applesauce. (Do we see a theme here?) I am trying to add some variety to our stores. I am trying to think ahead, not worry, just think. What if? What if we can’t get out of the house for a while? What if we are snowed in? (Trust me, it’s a real possibility up here!) What if there is a natural disaster? What if there is a man-made disaster? (North Korea, I’m looking at you!) So yes, I trust in God ultimately to provide, but I’m also trying to act wisely and recognize God’s blessings in the here and now for an unforeseen time in the future. Our ancestors didn’t have access to grocery stores. They had to plan ahead. I am sure there was plenty of worry mixed in, but they were wise. They used what God provided them and planned accordingly. I only hope that we are doing our best to do the same.

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Matthew 25:1-13

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.”

Who will you be like? The five foolish virgins who did not plan ahead? Or will you choose to plan ahead and be ready to meet God when He comes?

This is the canner I bought…

Check out some of my favorite canning books…

Blue Ball Book

Jackie Clay’s “Growing and Canning Your Own Food”

I’m getting some of these next year….or maybe for Christmas!

Tattler Reusable Lids

Happy Harvesting!!

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Be Still

“Be still and know that I am God.”

This verse has become my personal mantra. Well, technically it is only part of the verse, but for me, it is the most relevant. The whole verse reads,

Be still, and know that I am God:

I will be exalted among the heathen,

I will be exalted in the earth.

Psalm 46:10

But with everything going on in our crazy world, I find the first part to be the most applicable for me. I oftentimes find myself breaking it down farther into two separate pieces. The first part is “Be still…” Be still…seriously, how hard has this become for us in today’s world? There are constant distractions. Between social media, instant streaming of any movie or tv show you want, music, and just overall noise, our brains become quickly overloaded and saturated with stimuli. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being able to hop on the internet and look up information about anything I want. It is especially helpful when the children ask a question that I don’t know how to answer! But on the other hand, I have such a hard time just sitting still for a minute with nothing to distract me. If I find myself with a minute during the day to just sit, I often will browse Pinterest. Again, not a bad thing in and of itself, but it is so easy to kill a couple minutes to a couple of hours just browsing. And the problem is, that my mind is not at rest. Even though I am sitting still, I am not still. My brain is still soaking in all the pictures, reading the blurbs, and contemplating which projects I want to try.

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I admire the moms who get up before their families and have quiet time with their Bibles and God in the morning. This just isn’t feasible for me. Honestly, my quiet time with God is at night when I’m putting G to bed while my husband puts the older ones to sleep. And maybe it isn’t the “best” time, but it is what works for me right now. During this time, I really try and focus on being still with differing amounts of success. Sometimes I just sit quietly in the dark with my eyes closed and listen to what I feel God is putting on my heart. Other times, I pour out whatever is troubling me to God. Everything comes out in a rush and when that happens, I will hear Him telling me to be still. Because God wants peace for us. He doesn’t want us to be troubled, or constantly on the go. It isn’t healthy for our minds or our bodies to never have time to just Be Still.

The second part that I break this verse into is “and know that I am God:”. Oh boy, what a doozy for me. I have such a hard time sometimes handing my fears, worries, and troubles over to God. I have such a hard time letting Him lead. This is a constant struggle for me. I am trying. I am constantly praying about it. And He is constantly challenging me!

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If we, as a society and as individuals, could just BE STILL for a minute. Just stop, and KNOW that God is God, what kind of wonders could He work in us? If we could just stop, and take some time out of our hectic days and stop our brains from being in constant overload, what kind of peace might we find?

And once we have found that peace, might we not then praise Him for helping us to reach that attainable peace He wants for all of us?

Fall is upon us

How did it get to be September 1st already?? August seemed to go by so quickly, but then, the summer always does! The leaves are well on their way to changing up in our neck of the woods and it is getting colder.  Not that it ever really warmed up much for us this year, but still. There is that wonderful nip of Fall in the air.

I always have mixed feelings about Fall. While I love the smells, and the crisp air, it means that Winter is on its way. And since we live in Zone 2, winters are long and cold for us! But I am trying not to dwell on this fact. I am simply going to enjoy the changing leaves, wonderful smells, pumpkins, apples, and everything else Fall brings as much as I possibly can.

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Fall is also back to school time! Well, at least for some of us! We have been plugging away for three weeks now, already. There has been a lot of learning going on, at least I hope so anyways. Our oldest has definitely taken a more self-motivated turn this year. She is in the fifth grade and is getting through most of her schoolwork by herself. She does need some help with Math (those negative numbers are pesky things!) and English. But for History, Science, Bible, and other electives, she is mostly on her own. I have been so impressed with her this year. We changed curriculum last year and she fought it. I understand change is hard, but overall, the change has been very positive. I really enjoy the curriculum we are using now and everyone else seems to be enjoying it this year as well.

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The younger kids and I have already learned a lot about Christopher Columbus, classification of animals, vertebrates, and complementary colors. It has been a busy time, but I know I have been having fun so far. Here’s to hoping it continues to be fun! We will be having a little break coming up at the end of month and I am looking forward to it, lol. I am really excited to have these breaks in our year and I think it will be a great time for us to recharge our batteries.

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I have to admit that the only thing I’m not so excited about right now is school supplies. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE school supplies. Absolutely love them! But, since I have already purchased what we need for this year, I have to keep walking by these…

And these…

But for all of you who haven’t purchased your supplies yet, I am a bit envious, lol! So whether your school year is well underway, or you are just starting out, here is to a happy and safe year!!

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Do Not Fear

rockWhy do we find it so hard to let go of control? When we are young, we plan out what our lives are going to be like when we get older. Sometimes these plans come true, sometimes they don’t. When I was little, I wanted to be a ballerina dancer, artist, chef, and preschool teacher. Funnily enough, I am all of these things…I just don’t get paid for them in cash! 🙂

I do find it hard to let go of control, though. (Just ask my husband!) I am trying, and I am praying, and I hope, against hope, that I am learning. There is just something about not being in control that fills so many of us with fear. What if it doesn’t work out? What if I let go and something bad happens? Well, what if I don’t let go and something bad happens anyways?

If we don’t relinquish control of where and what we think should be happening in our lives, we miss out on so much. We miss out on opportunities God is trying to lead us towards. If we never let go, He can never take over. And if He never takes over, is it a life fully lived?

Isaiah 41:13

 For I am the Lord your God  

who takes hold of your right hand

and says to you, Do not fear;

I will help you.

If God says “Do not fear; I will help you,” then what are we so afraid of? Look towards God’s promises and remember that He will never leave us, nor forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6) If God is with us, who then can stand against us? (Romans 8:31)

When life leaves us feeling so overwhelmed with all the negativity coming our way, hold tight to the Word of God. Even though we may falter, He will always be there, as our loving Father, to pick us back up, put us on our feet, and walk beside us all the way. So don’t be afraid to let go. Don’t be afraid to let God take the wheel because that is exactly what we need to set us back on the path that ultimately brings us right to Him.

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Make the most of what you have

 

clockTime Management. This is something that so many people, myself included, struggle with. There are different reasons we all struggle. Whether it be procrastination, which is a form of perfectionism, trying to juggle too many things in our day to day lives, or just being plain overwhelmed, we all must find a way through.

I have found, as time has gone on, that I need to be better about time management. This has never been my strong suit. I am a procrastinator, plain and simple. But I have learned, as I hope more people have begun to, that procrastination is simply a form of perfectionism. If I can’t do a job right, or if I fear that I won’t have enough time to finish a job all the way, then many times I just won’t even start. I am slowly, vvveeerrryyy slowly, learning to overcome this and work through it anyways. I am trying to take the things I am telling our own children (it doesn’t have to be perfect it just has to be done the best you can) and applying them to my own responsibilities

I have made strides in some areas, but there are many in which I still struggle. I often find myself wishing for a couple more hours in a day. But since God gave us all the same amount of hours, I guess I will just have to continue to use what we have to the best of my abilities.

Ephesians 5:15-16

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,

making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

I am focusing on trying to develop some basic routines. Just some little things that help me to get more done in a day. Since there are only so many hours in a day, I have started trying to write down two or three things every day that I need to get done. I am calling them my focus items. So that way, when baby Z takes a nap, I remember what I need to turn my attention to. Otherwise, I get distracted and work on something else during that time and then I get frustrated when I remember what I was actually supposed to be working on.

I am trying my best, with God’s help, to use my time wisely. I have mismanaged it in the past. But I want to make every hour count. I want our house to be as presentable as possible. I want some more time to work on creative projects. I want some more time to be able to help our kids develop their creative sides. I want to do the best I can to help our family life run more smoothly. As my husband always says, we never know how much time we have here on Earth, why shouldn’t we use what we have to make the world a better place for ourselves and our families?

 

What is your biggest struggle with time management?

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Random Recipe Thursday

Chickenadrice

Don’t expect me to be sharing too many of these. 🙂 I’m not a person who creates recipes. That is more my husband’s forte. If he had more time to cook, I am sure I would be sharing some of his yummy creations (ie French toast pancakes!). As it is, the man is more than busy enough!

However, I did modify this recipe last night and can I just say it came out really well. Most of the kids even ate the rice. And any recipe that can get our kids to eat rice is a winner in this house! (Sorry guys, we can’t always have Chinese take-out) As it was, everyone went from complaining about the fact that they had to eat rice to complete silence. They must have been hungry. 🙂

The crockpot has become a very dear friend to me. When our oven died, I found all sorts of recipes you could make in the crockpot. Since we don’t have a microwave (intentionally) or any other way to cook food, that was all we had to make hot meals. Ever since then, I have gone from hardly using it, to using it whenever I can. It is a complete time and energy-saver. This is another recipe that will definitely go into our crockpot recipe rotation!

Creamy Crockpot Chicken

  • Chicken breast (or thighs)
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup water
  • Spinach (suit to your preferences)
  • Garlic salt (be generous)

Cook on low about 6-8 hours/high about 3-4 hours

Serve with rice, or on sub rolls, or noodles, or with whatever you prefer! Enjoy!

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