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Archive for December, 2009

How Great is our God?

Well, the crazy “week before break” at school has officially come and gone and I must say it is nice to know that there is a two week break ahead!

  I came home this afternoon and went for a nice walk with my sweet Monty-my agressive border collie that scares the neighbors with his bark, but pees all over the carpet when you scold him….I sure hope parenting isn’t as confusing as raising this dog 🙂 After that, I got to work on my Christmas cards.  I decided to do a fairly labor intensive card this year (I will post a pic once they are finished) and I am hoping to get them out on Monday.  I didn’t really think about it and it occured to me this afternoon that this Sunday is going to be the best time to give out my church cards (without paying for postage) and so I really need to get on the ball there!  I decided to do a smaller size card for church friends and didn’t think about needing a smaller tree die-cut for those and now I am stuck trying to figure out what to do.  I have determined that hand-trimming the lg. tree die-cuts will work, but will just add more work to an already tight schedule, so I decided to see what I could do with my new cricut machine.  I have a few ideas and was just about to test some out when I got distracted with this fabulous machine and now I am cutting numbers for the bulletin board at school!  Oh well, at least I am having fun, right?

I don’t know if I ever posted about the day I brought my cricut home….ahh…the sweet sweet memories 🙂  I decided to spend my birthday money on a Cricut Expression and I couldn’t be more satisfied with my purchase!  The day I bought it I was so excited..I made a little “home” for it on my desk and so carefully unwrapped it and set it up….it was like my first child 🙂 OK….so not really, but it was a big and expensive purchase for me….it is something that I have been wanting for a long time and I was really excited to have my patience pay off….just think…if I had bought one way back when I discovered them and decided that I wanted one (like a year ago) I would probably have paid for it with a credit card that I would still be paying off….being cash poor isn’t always fun, but it sure does make it more exciting when you get something new that you KNOW you can afford and that you “earned”!  Oh the lessons that the Lord is teaching me!  Praise be to Him!

Wow…so this post is obviously off subject so far….back to why I decided to post!  I was sitting here playing with my cricut and listening to Pandora Radio and a great station that I built off of the song “How Great is Out God”.  This has proved to be an awesome station for worship music and it is basically the only station that I listen to anymore 🙂 Anyway, the song “How Great….” came on and I was zoning out until the chorus came as clear as day…..I couldn’t help but just burst out in song!  My heart was just so full of love for my Lord and Savior at that moment!  There are so many blessings in my life and so many things that I have called upon the Lord to help me with.  Is there anything at all that he has neglected to help me through? 

No….not one….

Sometimes it amazes me that I went through the first twenty-some years of my life not knowing that God cared about me SO much that he would be there for me through EVERYTHING….not just the huge decisions, celebrations, and pains…..but through EVERYTHING!  It amazes me to no end that he hears my prayers and in his good and perfect timing, he answers them.  Sometimes the answer is not what I am expecting and, more often than not, it is not what I am wanting…but it is ALWAYS what I am needing.  What a wonderful blessing to be the child of the God who comes into personal relationship with us….the God who engages us in constant dialogue through His Word and Holy Spirit!

How many times has my instinct been to be overcome with fear of something or to let sinful words slip from my tongue when having a disagreement?  It is times like these when I utter a quick prayer to the Lord for simply “help”

…”Lord, what should I do?  Help me!”…this is something I say so so so often…

And how does he respond?

For me, it is often through His Word.  In times of need, I hear the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit whisper scriptures to my heart.  I am comforted in knowing that His Word is unchanging and infallible….the answers given two thousand years ago by the Lord Jesus Christ are the same answers for me today!  Praise God!

I encourage you to study the scripures.  As you come across ones that are particularly moving and significant to you, write them in a small notebook that  you can keep with you always…Many will soon be memorized and I cannot express the peace that I find when I am able to recite scripure through a particular situation! 

So get to it….find yourself a little book and start listing them off….I keep mine in my purse with my pocket bible where it is always handy!

There are plenty of people out there who would like nothing more than to make you feel you are misguided and that your faith is misplaced.  There are even pastors out there who argue that the Bible has been tampered with and is no longer a reliable source (or may never have been).  They argue that the authorship is questionable and the translations have been misinterpretted.  Guard your hearts and minds against this and trust in the Lord! 

Here is a fantastic verse to go ahead and put in your little scripture book…just as this verse says…the Word is indeed sharper than any twoedged sword!  Just try memorizing some scriptures and calling upon them in your times of need…you will know, beyond doubt, that the Lord IS present in His Word!

Verse of the Day:

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

~Hebrews 4:12

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Soaked Oatmeal

Here is another recipe taken from Passionatehomemaking.com, where I go for frugal and delicious meals.  This one has become a regular at our home…we eat it about 3 times a week…it is yummy and very filling!  This is another recipe that reaps the benefits of soaking your grains.

The original recipe is for 4 servings.  Here is a 1/2 recipe, which is what Mark and I use, plus some additions 🙂

Oats:

  • 3/4 cups uncooked rolled oats
  • 3/4 – 1 cups water (to just cover the oats – see picture below)
  • 1 Tbsp acid medium (kefir, whey, or yogurt)
  • 1 Tbsp  ground whole wheat flour

Toppings (add when cooking):

  • 1/2 c. fresh cranberries
  • 1 tart apple, chopped into small pieces (we leave the skin on)
  • 1 T ground cinnamon

(photo taken from Passionatehomemaking.com)

Place all ingredients in a quart size jar.  Put on the lid and shake to combine.  Remove lid and add enough water to just cover oats (you may not need any additional water, I typically do).

Put your jar of oats in a cupboard or some place out-of-the-way.  I leave the lid loosely on simply to keep pests out. 

Leave to soak for 24 hours (this is the optimal time, but any soaking time is better than none…sometimes mine only gets 12-16 hours).  I usually do this while I am getting breakfast ready the day before….that way it gets plenty of soaking time 🙂

After soaking, heat up an additional 3/4 cups of water. After it boils, add the soaked oats, and toppings.

 Turn down temperature to a simmer, and allow to cook for 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat and top with ground flax seeds, if desired.

Serve with butter, honey and fresh, raw milk for a wonderful nutritious breakfast!

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Countdown to Christmas!

Christmas is upon us!  Can you believe it has come so quickly?!?! Anyway, I need to get in gear and get myself (and home) together….and quickly!  Mark and I fly back to Maryland the day after Christmas and the house simply cannot be left as it is or our cats will go to town on destroying everything (they get into anything and everything that is left out when we leave). 

So, I need a game plan…there is lots to do and I need to get it all sorted out in my head so I can be sure to get it all finished in time!  I probably can’t be counted on to post all that regularly, because this list is rather large, but I will try my best and will hopefully be back at it in January!

12/15: Christmas Cookies for Mark’s work party, Order Mark’s Christmas presents, Shopping for Christmas gifts for my kiddos and for co workers, Work

12/16: Work, Christmas Decorations (no, our tree isn’t decorated yet 😦  ), AWANA

12/17: Clean Office, Christmas Cards (assembly and writing Church cards), Work

12/18: Work, Christmas Cards, Car to Mechanic?

12/19: Work, Laundry, Christmas Cards

12/20: Church, Sunday School, Day with Mark :), Christmas Cards (why did I choose to do handmade again?)

12/21: Final Christmas Shopping, Mail Christmas Cards

12/22: Cookie Baking/Gift making Day

12/23: Gift Wrapping, Packing

12/24: Packing, Cleaning, Church, Christmas Movies and Chinese 🙂

12/25: Christmas Day!  Time with family!

12/26: Bright and Early departure for Maryland to spend time with family and friends….YIPPEE!

There is a lot on my list right now, but we are truly keeping this season simple!  The point is certainly not stressing over gifts and scrambling to get way too many things done!  I am hoping to give some homemade goodies away as gifts to family, but if this doesn’t happen then it doesn’t happen and that is OK.  Mark and I are keeping Christmas very simple this year and we are not giving much to each other and only one or two things to parents (and my sweet nephew Hayden, of course).  We are not giving gifts to extended family and friends.  This year we are trying to save ourselves the stress of buying and the stress of paying off those purchases into the next year.  We each have an envelope of cash to spend for Christmas…and that is it…it is a new thing for us, but becoming debt-free is a goal that Mark and I both are working towards and have agreed is well worth the sacrifice. 

I hope that each of you will find time this season to rest in the Lord and his Glory.  Put aside all that is consuming your time and energy and find comfort and peace in Christ.

He gave us life…lets not leave Him out of ours!

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IMG_0037

(picture taken from Moneysavingmom.com)

I came across a post about making your own gift bows from old magazines and I have to say, I am hooked!  I have had a blast making some beautiful bows from old magazines.  It is super easy to do and it is a fun way to personalize your gifts! It is not only a great way to use up some paper that might just get tossed in the trash, but is also a frugal tip for saving on gift wrapping…all you need is a box of brads, a hole punch, and some old papers!

 I actually took this idea and used it for my kiddos Christmas gifts to parents!  I had the kids color (bold markers seemed to produce the best results) on thin paper about 8.5″ X 9″ in size.  Then I used their work to make bows for the gifts!  The kids thought it was pretty cool and the parents LOVED it!  It was definitely one of my better ideas, which is exciting because there are plently of duds to balance it out! 

 Anyway, head over here  to check it out and prepare yourself for a bag full of bows!

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Soaked Granola

This recipe is FANTASTIC!  It is adapted from Homemade Granola  over at Passionatehomemaking.com .

**Note: This recipe involves soaking your grains before making the Granola, the original recipe can be adapted to skip the soaking process, however this will yield a less-healthful granola.  To read about the benefits of soaking your grains, go here.

 One whole batch should make about 5 quarts of granola, which is a TON, so just try a half batch if you aren’t big granola eaters.  It does keep well, and since Mark and I have basically replaced our cereal with homemade granola, we tend to eat it up quickly enough. 

  • 8 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups kefir**(yogurt often produces a very tart flavor, unless you are skipping the soaking step)
  • 2 cups water**
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 1/2 cup sucanat (if you do not have any, try brown sugar or pure maple syrup)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 4 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dried shredded coconut
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup nuts (optional) – (I used raw, whole  almonds)
  • 1 cup dried apples, chopped (optional)

Directions:

Mix oats with the melted butter and oil, kefir and water in a large bowl. Cover with a cloth and/or plate and allow to sit at cool room temperature for 24 hours. After the soaking time, preheat the oven to 200° F (93° C).

Place honey, maple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla in a glass measuring cup in a small pot of warm water on the stove. Bring water to a gentle simmer, stirring honey mixture, until honey becomes thin.

Combine honey and oat mixtures, mixing to incorporate.

Spread mixture out over two parchment paper-lined cookie sheets 

Bake for 2-4 hours, until granola is dry and crisp. Four hours was perfect for a slightly softer granola in our oven, which was what we like.

**When making a whole batch, I have had to bake my granola for about 6-8 hours, this may simply be a result of having SO MUCH granola on two pans, perhaps with a half batch, you can spread the mixture a little bit thinner and therefore cook it up more quickly!

Allow to cool in oven before removing to a container. It will get crisper at it cools.

Mix in coconut, raisins, sunflower seeds, fruit and nuts, as desired. Store in an airtight container.

Serve with chilled raw milk or over yogurt! 

***IF NOT SOAKING GRANOLA: My best guess as to making this granola without soaking, would be to omit the kefir and water.  I would mix the melted coconut oil and butter with the honey mixture and continue as directed.  But, honestly, you can just use any granola recipe you want if not soaking…the benefits of this recipe are the soaking method and the replacement of refined sugars with honey and syrup/sucanat.

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Back in Oregon

For those of you who don’t already know, I spent the last weekend back in Maryland visiting with my Grandmother who was diagnosed with terminal cancer last Tuesday.  I had a number of nice visits with her and I am very glad that I took the opportunity to go home and see her should anything major happen before Christmas.  We spent the last day together talking about all the wonderful things that we had done together and remembering old times.  I have so many memories with my Gammy and I am so thankful for them all!  I spent the last visit smiling and chatting with her, but when it came time to say goodbye it was more than I could take.  Even my dad commented that she looked at me like she was trying to remember my face because she would never see it again.  I finally just broke down and cried in her arms and told her how much I loved her and what a wonderful Grandma she is.  It was one of the hardest things I have ever done.  I thank God for the many times during our visits that I just prayed a silent prayer for strength and comfort when I thought I was about to lose it and each time I felt the calming and warming presence of the Holy Spirit.  How truly great is our God?

I flew back that night (Tuesday) and I was completely fine all the way back to the house.  It wasn’t until I layed down in bed that it hit me that I had just put 3000 miles between me and my family (and Grandma). The tears came flooding back and no matter how hard I tried, I just couldnt get to sleep-the last time I looked at the clock it was 3:30.  I was so thankful when I woke up at 6:15 because it meant I had, at some point, fallen asleep. 

Wednesday was much better and I am finding comfort in being back at home with my husband and back at work and church again.  I have such a wonderful family in Christ-I can’t imagine going through any of this without them.  Thank you to each and every one of you who has been praying for me and my Grandma-I appreciate you all so much!

Right now I am just having a lazy morning at home and getting together a grocery list so I can get some things done around the house.  I hope to keep up with blogging a little more now that I am back home, but I have said I was back before, so I guess we will see!  I have a few recipes I need to post and a few fun things I have found that I wanted to share, so hopefully today I will have some up! 

I will try to keep an update on Gammy here on the blog, but please just keep her in your prayers.  What I am praying for is that this will be a time for her to come to a personal relationship with Christ.  She is a believer, but to what “degree” I don’t know.  Please pray that her heart will be opened to a relationship with her Savior and that He would give her the peace and comfort she needs to face this time.  Thank you!

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