Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Work, Home and Family - Some New-to-us Recipes

I love to bake and I enjoy eating my own cooking more than the food at most restaurants plus with the savings, we almost always cook at home for breakfast and dinner and eat leftovers for lunch.  As someone who is not home most of any given day, that means finding ways to make dinner easier.

I love my slow cooker and one of my goals for this school year is to have dinner made using that anywhere from 2-3 nights each week.  That way we can toss a salad, slice bread or do something else simple and just sit down and eat when we get home.  No fuss, no hassle.  Love that!

Here are the links to a couple of new-to-us recipes that we've tried the last couple of weeks that we enjoyed and made our "eat this!" list:

Recipe #1: Crock Pot Honey Dijon Chicken Thighs

We actually made this with chicken legs, rather than thighs, since that's what we had in the freezer.  And we used fresh baby Portobello mushrooms since they were on sale, rather than white mushrooms or canned.   Even both children loved this (Buddy can be very picky) and John pulled the leftover meat off the bone and mixed it with some roasted root veggies (carrots, parsnips, and potatoes) for lunch the next day.  We served this with French bread and a fruit salad.  Yummy!

Recipe #2: Crock Pot Beef Tips and Gravy

Totally cheated on this one and used canned venison with the accompanying broth rather than beef and the broth listed in the recipe.   Super easy and super yummy!  We served this with rice and a fruit salad.  We are going to try a different onion soup mix brand next time since the one we tried was very salty (we rarely add extra salt to our food so this really stood out to us).  Even salty, it was really yummy! 

Both of these can be prepped ahead of time and put into the freezer.  We prepped the chicken since we had extra chicken, but since the venison was canned, we decided to just leave it that way.

What new recipes have you tried lately?  How do you make dinner time a breeze?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Healthy Habits in 2013 - Those Shoes

For most of us in the western world, shoes are seen as a necessity.  They are also one of the things that can make or break our health habits or our whole day.

Habit #6: Invest in Some Good Shoes

As women, many of us have a love-hate relationship with shoes.  We need them and if they fit well, they are great.  If you're like me, you dislike trying on shoes and some of those current styles - wow!  I don't have a clue who they are made for but they're definitely not made for me! :)

As a Jazzercise instructor, I often get asked about shoes and I go through about 4 pair of aerobic shoes each year.  As someone who is on my feet all day and has to look nice, I have my own preferences for "dress" shoes.  I know one thing I've discovered between those two things: Having the right shoes can make or break what I do in a day.

We've all had the pair of shoes that look great but make our feet hurt after about 10 minutes in them.  Or that give us blisters.  Or that flop around.  Or just plain don't work - they're too loose, or too tight, or they rub wrong or they don't breathe or something.  Maybe we can't put our finger on what exactly, but the shoes just don't work.

Especially when money is tight, it's easy to go with cheap or cheaply made shoes and just lump it.  Personally, I think that's a huge mistake.  Our feet our so important to our whole body!

Wearing ill-fitting or painful shoes effects the way we walk and stand. 
This in turn effects the way our joints, ligaments and muscles line up.
Which can lead to far more serious problems down the line.

My dear cousin Diane had to go on disability at the young age of 42 because of not getting the prescribed orthotics for her shoes.  Why, you ask?  She permanently messed up her back to the point where she couldn't do much of anything for quite a while.  Yes, her back.  Because of her shoes.
Go figure.

Here are some hints and tips about shoes to consider:

Buy the right shoe for the right activity.  Do you run? Buy a running shoe.  Do you walk?  Buy a walking shoe.  Do you do aerobics? Buy an aerobic shoe.  Do you walk, play pickup basketball occasionally, and sometimes do other active things (take the occasional class, etc.)?  Buy a good cross trainer.   And, by the way, if you're taking any kind of fitness class, make sure you have the right shoe for the class - your instructor should be able to tell you the best shoe to buy.  The way your foot lands for all of these is different so the cushioning in the shoe is in a different place.  Having the cushioning in the wrong place can cause more harm than good.

Get your foot measured!  This is particularly important if you're still growing (kids and teenagers) or if you've just had a baby (those pesky ligaments!) or if you've never been measured before.  Remember that the shoe size, like your clothes size, is just a number.  It does not tell the world anything about who you are as a person, just what size shoe will fit properly on your foot.  You will also find out if you have a wide or narrow foot, flat or high arch, or a narrow heel or anything else that you need to look for.  My feet are pretty normal, thankfully, but even if they're not, we live in a time where there are so many different shoe types available that you should be able to find something that fits well and looks nice.  Remember shoes should not pinch or rub when you buy them - if they do they don't fit! And shoes should never have to be "broken in" either.  That's another sign that they don't fit right.

Get orthotic inserts if you need them.  Yes, they are expensive but you only need one or two sets (depending on what you do in your life) and they last a long time.  And they can make the difference between short term savings on the orthotics themselves and long-term loss of ability and the mountains of medical bills that can accompany that.  On the flip side, please make sure you definitely need them before you get them!  John had a recommendation for orthotics from our GP and when he went to the podiatrist, the podiatrist recommended a particular brand of shoe instead. 

Stay away from the super-high heels.  I don't know about you, but I've noticed that it's really hard to find heels that aren't super-high.  Those super-high heels do nothing good for your feet, ankles and knees.  And they are hard to stand and walk in to boot.  Lower heels (1 1/2 inches or less) or flats with support are far better for your feet than those high heels.

Buy quality.   I stick with nationally known, long-term brands that are known for high quality.  Why?  I know how they work and that they will wear well. They tend to last at least two years before they start to look icky or wear out and that means I need to buy fewer pairs per year - I tend to buy 2 pairs per year. I also buy natural materials - usually real leather.  It wears far better than the synthetics and are much easier to care for. Shoes should also have a sole that bends with a push but is thick enough that you can see it.  Many of our flip-flops and ballet shoes today have soles so thin that they offer nothing more than protection again scrapes.  Many of our other shoes have soles so rigid they can't bend with your foot's natural movement.

Shop clearance.  The problem with high quality shoes - they do cost more if you pay full retail.  There are discount stores and coupons and deals. Always.  They usually only happen a couple of times a year - John buys his shoes on Buy 1/Get 1 sale once a year and buys two pairs at that time. I usually shop season-end clearance at a discount chain and have gotten some great deals - Naturalizer pumps for $14 are my favorite bargain.    Being a little more open on style is helpful for this, but you should be able to get something for less than retail, even if it takes a bit of looking.  Remember that you don't need to own shoes for every outfit - two or three pairs in classic styles and neutral colors will go a long way.

Take care of your shoes.  Good quality shoes need to breathe.  They need to be cared for regularly with polish and buffing (if necessary) and they need to be kept dry.  These things are fairly straight-forward and not at all time consuming, even though they sound like it at first.  A tub of shoe polish lasts for a very long time and you can use an old sock - you know, one of those lonely ones that returned from the dryer without a mate - to polish and another old sock to buff, though a buffing brush does give the shoes a nicer shine.  Shoe trees or racks are relatively inexpensive and do a good job of caring for shoes.  If you only have a couple pair of shoes, sitting them on the floor of your clothes closet is a good alternative to a shoe tree.  An inexpensive spray coating can protect shoes from water, salt and snow.  Or you can buy a good pair of boots and change into your shoes when you get where you're going instead if you live in a climate with weather extremes.  Not only do these help longevity of the shoe, but they keep the shoe fitting the way it should over the life of the shoe.

Hopefully these hints and tips (and that's exactly what they are - nothing more!) will help you think about your future shoe purchases and, in the process, help yourself lead a better and healthier life!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Goals - Week of September 22, 2013

So, the photo has NOTHING to do with my goals this week!  This was a tomato we got from our CSA end of August and we used it for BLT's for 6 (two adults and two children) one night for dinner.  It was huge (my hand is in the photo for comparison) but it was so tasty!  I think I might have to find out the type of tomato and see if we can grow some next year in our backyard.

My goals for this week are pretty straight forward.  I don't have a whole lot on the docket for things around the home right now - we're pretty swamped at work and I have been having medical issues again so I thought it would be better to just keep things relatively simple this week.

So here's what I'm hoping to get done:

* Course Prep for this week and next
* Keep my grading all caught up
* Order the rest of my equipment

*  Meet with my advisor
* Work on the proposal with my colleague

* Learn 3 new routines
* Teach 3 classes
* Get my paperwork for October ready

* Have friends over for lunch after Worship on Sunday
* Piano Lessons Tuesday at School (children)
* Choir Practice Wednesday (me)
* Dance Lessons Thursday (children)
* Swimming Lessons Friday (children)
* Family Night Friday: Michael and All Angels
* At Home Date Night Saturday: Bonfire with Apple Crisp

* Finish purging clutter from the living room (almost done with this)
* Weeding
* Mending - replacing hooks and eyes only
* Inventory the pantry and kitchen cupboards

* Pray for the congregation we'll be at on Sunday this next week
* Proofread John's Sermon for Sunday
* Thank you notes to two friends who accompanied service for us in August (totally spaced that one!)
* Update my prayer book
* Update the memory verse system we used when the children were little and start using it again

* Complete 1 hour of embroidery this week
* Soak my feet and paint my toenails
* Pray for some guidance with some things I've been struggling with lately

What are you up to this week?

Menu Plan Monday - Week of September 22, 2013

Our last CSA of the year from two weeks ago - clockwise, from lower left: eggplant, kale, green beans, cantaloupe, cabbage, cucumbers, beets and tomatoes in the middle.

I think we're officially into fall - the weather is in the mid to upper 70'sF and I'm looking forward to soups and stews and chili!  Yum!  The sweaters have been dug out and we are ready for cooler weather.  I just have to sew the missing button back on my fall/spring jacket and we'll be all set!

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, September 22:
   Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
   Lunch (with friends over): Ham, Corn on the Cob, Biscuits, Fruit Salad, and Caramel Apples
   Snack: Popcorn or Caramel Apples
   Dinner: 3 Bean Chili, Cornbread, Watermelon

Monday, September 23:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins and Bananas
   Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for the Children
   Snack: No-Bake Energy Bites
   Dinner: Baked Potatoes with Leftover Chili, Cantaloupe

Tuesday, September 24:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Apples and Cinnamon
   Lunch;  Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for the Children
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Crockpot Beef Tips with Gravy, Rice, Grape-Cantaloupe-Watermelon Salad

Wednesday, September 25:
   Breakfast: Pancakes with Applesauce
   Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for the Children
   Snack: No-Bake Energy Bites
   Dinner: Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce, Breadsticks, Watermelon and Cantaloupe

Thursday, September 26:
   Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
   Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for the Children
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: At John's Work

Friday, September 27:
   Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
   Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for the Children
   Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
   Dinner: Veggie Fried Rice, Sliced Apples and Pears

Saturday, September 28:
   Breakfast: Cranberry Orange Scones
   Lunch: Chicken Noodle Soup, Carrot Sticks, Grapes and Apple Slices
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

What are you eating this week?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

These are a Few of My Favorite Things - Little Things

So many days feel so hard right now - between the multiple directions we're being pulled with school, work, activities, and all the church "stuff' going on, and my anxiety and living with two chronic illnesses, it is so easy to get bogged down in all that isn't going right.
I have been working extra hard to enjoy the blessings - we have SO MANY!
Here are some of the little things from the last two months:
Zucchini bread in the freezer.
Finding a recipe for chocolate-chocolate chip zucchini bread - super yummy!
Yummy treats at the churches we've been at. Including a really yummy egg salad - and I don't normally like egg salad.
This wonderful loaf of zucchini-nut bread from an elderly couple at one of the churches John preached at - their son-in-law is a pastor in another part of the state.  I love the blue bow!
Stories, prayers and encouragement from the folks at the churches we get the privilege of worshiping and leading worship at.
How the Holy Spirit speaks so clearly some times.
Having to take the time to listen to the Holy Spirit.
Learning the rudiments of sign language - one of the churches we have been at regularly has a sign language interpreters at everything!
The beauty of God's creation.
My giant zinnias.
John buying me beautiful anniversary flowers that lasted for weeks!

The tail end of my anniversary bouquet tucked into a teapot that Missy and I painted together a couple of years ago.
 Tea parties with my girl.
Snuggling up and reading books together.
The children laughing and playing in the back yard - and coming in smelling like sunshine and grass.

Buddy hijacking my iPod and taking photos like this - one of our pumpkins, just starting to turn.

This photo, also taken by Buddy, of a fish pond where we met my cousin Diane and her husband Bo for a wonderful lunch and visit.
Time spent with my parents - we've missed that so much this last year and a half.
My Dad being in remission from cancer.
My Mom's broken wrist (did I tell you about that?) healing very well.
Time to have lunch with my cousin.
Third grade going well - I love hearing them talk about their days!
Reading, reading and more reading!
Finally getting the children's rooms shaped up again - this seemed to take forever this year!

Giant Lego Sculptures!  The perk of living in the Twin Cities is that you can occasionally go to the Mall of America and see the Giant Lego sculptures (is that what they're called) at the Lego store.  It's fun to just go look and see what they have!
Going to the Mall of America and wondering "Why in the world am I here?" and realizing that I really don't need anything that they are selling!  Nor do I like being there - waaayyy to many people and waaayyyy too crowded for my taste!
Feeling abundantly blessed with what we have - and freely giving away some of our excess.
Finding the perfect recipient for a pair of bright yellow goulashes that we had for Buddy when he was a preschooler.  Our friend's little boy fits them to a T!
Getting caught up to current on my grading! (This is always a battle.)
Having everything we need and more than a little of what we want.
How very blessed we are!
Soli Deo Gloria.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Super Savings Saturday - $43.59 Stock Up Shopping

Since my parents had been buying us groceries for the last few weeks we had money left over from our previous couple of week's grocery budget.   Last week we used some to stock up and we did the same this week and we bought some ham steaks for dinner with company this weekend (much quicker than a whole ham since they are coming home with us after Worship).

Here's what we bought:

Store #1:
5 pears
1 tote bag full apples
Wesson Cooking Oil  $2.89
Total Store #1: $10.17 
(I misplaced the store receipt so I'm not sure exactly how much we paid for the apples and pears, though I do know they were each $0.98/lb).

Store #2:
50oz Era Laundry Liquid $2.98 - $0.50- $0.50 = $1.98
Campbell's Canned Soup 5 @ 5/$5 = $5 - $0.40 - $0.40 = $4.20 ($0.84 each)
Kraft Caramel Bits $1.98
Yellow Sweet Corn 6 @ 3/$1 = $2
Ham Slice $4.78
Ham Slice $4.57
Cheerios 6 @ $1.88 = $11.28 - $2 - $0.50 - $0.50 = $8.28 ($1.38/box)
Onion Soup Mix Packet $0.42
5lbs Flour $2.39
24oz Yellow Cornmeal $2.15
Sales Tax $0.32 (Minnesota doesn't have food tax but the Caramel Bits and the Era are taxed)
Total Store #2: $33.42
Saved $18.35 according to store receipt

Total spent: $43.59
(With $30 from this week's budget and $13.59 from last week - we have $8 and change left from the last few weeks - I'm hoping to stop by Sam's Club this week and buy a 25lb bag of flour with that.) 

A couple of notes about this week's shopping: 

The Caramel Bits are for making caramel apples with our friends on Sunday after lunch and, as I said, we bought the ham for ease since we had some extra money or I would have just cooked the full ham that we have in the freezer Saturday night.  We had a birthday party tonight (Saturday) on the other side of town and since our friends are coming over right after Worship, we decided to go this route. 

We have watermelon, grapes, cantaloupe and a ton of veggies leftover from last week so we have plenty to eat in those areas and we have chicken, shrimp, a ham and a turkey in the freezer still, along with cooked salmon and turkey.  Our CSA is done for the year but we still have tomatoes, peppers and squash in the garden (I've given up on fall lettuce). 

We definitely don't have a shortage of food in the house!

We're trying a new recipe this week for the crock pot - come back on Monday to see what we're eating!

How did you do with your shopping this week?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Frugal Friday - Frugal things We've Done in the Last Month

With my parents here to visit and school starting, I put blogging on the back burner.  Now it's time to catch up with posting!  :)   

Here's all the frugal "stuff" we've done in the last few weeks:

I blanched and froze beans, beets and cabbage.

I dried apples, celery and zucchini.   We had gleaned the apples from a friend's tree.  This was my first time drying zucchini - I had no idea I could before - so I'm hoping these work well in soups over the winter.  We love minestrone soup and hopefully dried zucchini will work just as well as fresh in it!  The celery came from our CSA and we had way too much for what we'd use before it went bad. 

I made and froze two more loaves of zucchini bread.

I made tomato sauce, which we also froze.

We picked zucchini, tomatoes and peppers from the garden.  We're counting the days until the butternut squash are ripe - yum!

Something ate our grape vine and sunflowers as well as the lettuce I had planted for this fall.  Oh well.  We dug out the grape vine and the sunflowers since this is the third year our grapevine has had problems and the sunflowers were volunteers anyway.  I replanted the lettuce but I'm not sure it'll be warm enough.  We'll see.

We purchased the last of our edger stones at 44-cents each and finished installing those.  They look lovely and John got some "extra" exercise.

John dug out the "parking spot" for the grill so we could lay the gravel and sand in preparation for laying the stones.  We had bought the stones on sale several weeks ago and were waiting for pea gravel and sand to go on sale too.  They did, so we started!  Hope to the get the whole thing done this weekend.

Mended several pairs of pants for all four of us, a dress and two skirts of Missy and two shirts for John.  We also turned two pairs of pants into shorts of Buddy (he had worn out the knees.)  Next up - finding my ballpoint needle so I can mend the last skirt for Missy and two pairs of workout pants for me!  In the meantime, I have hooks for three items that need to be replaced.

Caught the ironing up! WHOOT!  (I'll ignore that I have a new pile started after doing the laundry this last's only three items, I can do that this week, right?)

Picked flowers from the yard to decorate the house with - red, orange and yellow giant zinnias and Shasta daisies.

Went through my closet again and got rid of several things that no longer fit or are too worn for me to wear to work.  Cleaned out most of my maternity clothes (I kept a few favorites) and shared them with a friend who is expecting her first baby (SOOO excited for her and her husband!).

Went on a date to the coffee shop with a coupon while my parents watched the children.

Celebrated the first day of school - 3rd grade this year! - with our favorite take-out, purchased by my parents!  We had talked about going out to eat but opted for take-out instead.  Cheaper and we had leftovers for 3 meals afterward!

My parents bought groceries while they were here - their way of paying us back for housing them and everything else that goes along with that.

Since we had most of our grocery money left (we did buy a few things while they were here) from their visit, we used it along with our regular $30/wk budget to stock up on canned goods this week while they were on sale for 44-cents a can this week.   We bought canned corn, green beans, black and kidney beans, and tomato sauce.  We also bought 2lbs of ground pork sausage that was on sale which we will use for stuffing squash when it's ripe and ready to cook.  We now have a lot of canned goods!

Used several coupons combined with a sale at the fabric store to buy fabric for two jumpers and an outfit for Missy and a fleece pull-over for Buddy.  Purchased patterns on sale $1 each for Christmas dresses for Missy and me - we decided to use fabric my Mom and I bought when I was in high school and never used.  It's a beautiful purple washable satin and a matching washable brocade - they'll be lovely!   My Mom purchased everything for us since she hadn't bought anything clothes-wise for her grandchildren in over a year!  Yes, we're totally spoiled rotten!

We so enjoyed having my folks here!  My Dad is doing very well - and is in complete remission from his cancer! - and he is enjoying going out and about since he hadn't been able to do that for roughly 8 months.   We went to the Minnesota Zoo (we have a membership so it was no cash out of pocket for the visit), out to eat several times (always on their dime), to the Science Museum of Minnesota (we have a membership there too), and a few other local places (the park, the library, etc.).   Wonderful to do things with my folks and I know they enjoy doing things with us too.  Very little out of pocket expenses for all of it except for gas to get there.

We used the public library several times for both books and movies.

I downloaded several free books for my Kindle for PC.

I tried a couple of new recipes using ingredients we have on hand.

We cleaned out the garage and donated a bunch of stuff as well as throwing away several broken or worn out things.   We also discovered that we have more rolls of edging than we thought for the backyard.  Bonus!

My Dad had made doll furniture for my daughter that was supposed to be for her birthday, last May.  He didn't want to ship it so they waited to bring it up.  They brought it up this trip and she LOVES it and it was so much fun to watch my Dad playing dolls with her - usually a tea party.  He used to do that with me too!

We had lots of meals outside and bonfires in the evening out back too.

We were gifted a bag of potato chips from a friend.  We received several small snack-size bags of corn chips after a church event as well.   The corn chips are being used for snacks for the kids at school (they bring a snack to eat every day after gym class).   We ate the potato chips with chili one night for dinner.

Both John and I had the opportunity to have several free lunches at work - we took advantage!

We've been treated to yummy treats after church several times - and they always want to send leftovers home with us.  We've brought home oatmeal cookies, sugar cookies, brownies, and doughnuts.

Other than a super high electricity bill - that always happens when my parents are here - we had a rather frugal few weeks!

How have your weeks been?  Visit Life as Mom or The Prudent Homemaker's Blog or Web Page for more ideas and inspiration.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

In the Refiner's Fire - Living in Fear

One of the things that I realized this month was how much of my time I spend living in fear.

Buddy was growing for two solid weeks - and I had to trade in all of his "new" pants from the uniform swap for new ones.  Fortunately the school was very understanding (the Secretary just laughed when I came in with a pile of pants and unlocked the cupboard for me with a big smile).  When he's growing that means night terrors along with the physical growing pains.

Watching him struggle with night terrors, I realized I have been living a lot of my life lately in terror of what is to come.  Maybe not terror, but at least fear.

I have some anxiety problems - usually related to a specific event that had some traumatic effect on me, but some that are related to stress, hormones or my underlying chronic illnesses.

Driving for me is the worst - and it's purely situational.

The only car accident I have been involved in was quite serious (my car's engine block was completely crushed) and happened on part of the route I have to take to work.  Yes, have to.  There is only one route between where I live and where I work for about 1/3 of the trip.  My children's school is roughly at the end of this 1/3 of the trip.

I had one day where I arrived at my children's school, dropped them off and then went back out to the car and shook and sobbed for 15 minutes before I could drive again.  The weather was perfectly clear, the car was running fine and there were no accidents between our house and school.

It rained today and I almost didn't leave home - my thoughts were so rampant about us getting in a car accident on the way to school and my children dying that it was almost impossible for me to leave the house.  I went out to back the car out of the garage and realized that it wasn't raining at that moment - so, quick, hurry up and leave!  We made it but I ended up feeling like a complete failure that a bit of rain would make me so nervous.

In addition to the car accident on this stretch of road, my husband hit a wild turkey twice (don't ask) and I have had more experiences with black ice than I care to think about.  All on this one stretch of road.  I am grateful that I have to drive that stretch of road 5 days a week or I probably would never drive again. 

In addition to the driving, I am someone who likes to be in control and know what's going to happen.

Seminary and the upcoming internship have been extremely difficult for me because there are so many unknowns. 

We don't know exactly how much money we'll need on a daily basis to do what we need to do - we have an idea but the exact numbers are unknown yet - and we don't know what kind of income we'll have during that time.

We don't know exactly how my health issues will play out from day to day.

We don't know exactly where we will end up or what kind of Call John will have after seminary.

All of these things make me nervous and worried. I fret about numbers, and resources, and the things that we have or don't have or need or might need.  I fret every time I come down with a sniffle (which I have right now) or worse and imagine that I'm completely incapacitated and unable to do anything for the rest of our earthly lives.  I fret about future housing and medical insurance and whether or not we'll have enough money for toilet paper, food and the occasional pair of shoes.  And none of this is even part of our lives yet!

Living in the fear is paralyzing. 

I have so many days when I just can't do anything because I'm so paralyzed by fear.   With the exception of the days when I am physically unable to do anything - when I retreat to my bed and hope that sleep will help - I find relief in doing.  Something. Anything purposeful and productive.  To get me out of the fear and back into life.

My shingles acted up again while my parents were here and I dissolved into a puddle of tears knowing that my parents could take the kids to school if my leg locked up again and that I really didn't have to go anywhere that day if I didn't have to - being able to work some days from home is a lovely thing!  The relief of knowing that things were taken care of was unbelievable. 

My Mom hugged me and rubbed my back and told me about the two years - two years - that she was physically unable to get out of bed due to her back problems.  They were young marrieds and she had disk problems and ended up in bed for two years.  Dad had to carry her to the bathroom or she had to use a bedpan.  Only the knowledge that it couldn't get worse and her ability to do something - read or pray or look out the window only - kept it from being unbearable.  Slowly my Mom got better. 

And slowly, I'll get better too. 

I started writing down each tiny blessing that comes to me - being able to hug a friend or pray for them, a new zucchini on the plant in the garden (even though I'm starting to get sick of zucchini), a day when I got several things done, being able to talk to my parents on the phone, having the laundry all done before the week starts, hugs from my children, John making dinner, or the time to take a nap.  All of them have been just that - a blessing. So far in the first 19 days of September I have 95 of them for this month alone!

It is truly helping me see that the Lord's blessings outweigh everything that I fear and He is faithful to His promises to never leave or forsake us. 

I have been living in a land of fear, of the "what ifs", the "if onlys", and the "should haves". 
The Lord is helping me live in the land of today and the blessings of the here and now.

Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about it's own things. Sufficient for the day it it's own trouble.   Matthew 6:34
Slowly I'm learning to live in this land of today and not worry about tomorrow. 
Soli Deo Gloria.
Note:  I do have medical and hormonal issues that are influencing my fear and anxiety. God is so good in that He has given me the knowledge that this is the case and good guidance through my medical care providers to show me what I can and can't have control over.  As the medical and hormonal issues are dealt with, some of my areas of anxiety will go away completely.  I am looking forward to that day!  In the meantime, I am doing my best to rest in the Lord and leave my burdens with Him so that the stress of my worry doesn't accentuate my anxiety and make it that much worse. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

In the swing of things...

Well, my folks headed back home after three marvelous weeks here visiting, school has started for all four of us, the extra-curricular activities (piano lessons, swimming lessons, scouts and dance class) are all in full swing, and our schedule is starting to settle into a routine.

We received our final box of goodies from the CSA and I'm hoping this week to get the chest freezer thawed out so we can move all the veggies I've blanched and frozen and the fruit I've frozen to the chest freezer.

We still have zucchini and our butternut squash and acorn squash plants have decided to continue adding fruit - 3 more butternut and 2 more acorn.  I dehydrated a bunch of celery and zucchini (which I didn't know was possible - the zucchini, that is) and am looking forward to seeing how that goes.  We always have problems with celery going bad before we use it all up so I'm hoping this is a good solution!  And, as much as I love zucchini, I just didn't feel like making another loaf of zucchini bread. :)

We gleaned apples from a friend's tree and dried those too.  Our tomatoes and peppers are continuing to produce and I'm looking forward to making more tomato sauce.  With all the food in our house I'm feeling abundantly blessed.  I wonder if this is what our ancestors felt like after the fall harvest?

John is doing pulpit supply a minimum of two times per month.  I'm back to singing in our church choir.  The fall weather is starting - though not all the way here yet - and we've been enjoying backyard bonfires and good conversation.

It's good to be back into the swing of things.

I'll leave you with a photo of a centerpiece we had this summer (ignore the stuff on the window ledge - we've since moved it!).  I replaced the big candle with some mini-pumpkins for fall.  My zinnias are going gangbusters this year - and I'm loving the bright colors of red, orange, yellow and bright pink (which isn't in the picture).  They look great with my pink and red rose bushes and the yellow and orange marigolds.
I hope you're getting back into the swing of things too.
See you again soon,