Thursday, January 31, 2008


*Warning! Interloper Happy Husband here*

I will leave all the fun details to Monica, but if the title did not tell you already: Baby Boy Samuel Joseph aka "Bruno" has safely entered the land of the born.

Monica is still in the hospital (they look at you like some freaky space alien for even contemplating leaving before attempting to choke down one of their meals). She should be back home tomorrow afternoon. I doubt she will be up for much posting Friday, but I would not at all be surprised if there is a special weekend posting.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Clean Heart - Part Nine

I hope some of you are enjoying this study - but even so, it has been very helpful to me and has offered me great accountability by sharing it here.

Moving on to the next question, "Am I afraid of truly pursuing a clean heart?"

Here is what I journaled on this question:

The short answer is: YES! Ok, now let me expand on this thought...

It is a bit frightening to pursue a clean heart because I am fully aware of the fact that there are unclean things in my heart that will need to be cleansed in order that I may be pure. Sometimes these areas are more difficult than others and I fear the pain and humility that will be required along the way.

"Then He said to them all, 'If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.'" ~ Luke 9:23

I'm reminded of a quote by C.S. Lewis:

"We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be."

This is why I'll need to go back and consider why it is so important to have a clean heart. And, if I'm really honest with myself - I truly do want to have a clean and pure heart. I know that nothing clean comes from being lax or lazy.

It's easy to create clutter, a mess, allow things to remain dirty. Cleanliness takes a lot of work - consistent effort and discipline.

Wow - that can be applied in so many areas: my heart, my home, you name it. In the end - yes I'm afraid to truly and completely pursue a clean heart - but I'm even more afraid of refusing to.

As a dear friend says,

"Lord, You know I'm not willing. But, I'm willing to be made willing."

I'd love to hear your thoughts...

The next question we'll answer is "Does my life reflect a clean heart?" However, I'm planning to take a break from this series to share Valentine ideas and then pick it up again after that. Thanks for all of your great comments yesterday!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Clean Heart - Part Eight

The last point of observation I shared last time prompts a must-ask question: What are the things that come to mind in my life that need the cleansing of God? What is hindering me from a clean heart?

Am I afraid of truly pursuing a clean heart? Why is it really so important that my heart be clean?

I'll start with the last question, "Why is it really so important that my heart be clean?"

Here is what I journaled about this:

The opposite of clean is unclean; dirty; impure. Before God, it is impossible to have a right relationship with Him with a dark heart. I want to be in fellowship with Him. I am reminded of the Wordless Book picture from childhood - black and white pages which describe the black sin of my heart before His cleansing blood and the white and clean which come after His cleansing blood.

Another thought: If I am truly a believer, and Christ lives in me (my heart) ~ what kind of home am I providing for Him there? Is it dirty and cluttered with garbage? An unwelcome home for sure! Does it welcome Him into a place that reflects His character?

Isn't that how we see our homes ~ they say something about us by the things we choose to have in them. How much more - a home for Christ to dwell. When I have company - I want to go all out in making them feel welcome and at home. I do extra cleaning, cooking and preparing. Do I put that kind of care and preparation into my heart?

Lord, today - make me aware of the kind of home You have in my heart. Please open my eyes to the good things and the bad things and allow me to create a more welcome environment for You - with Your help, by Your grace and for Your glory. ~ Amen

I'd love to hear your thoughts - why is it so important for us to have a clean heart?

Next time: Am I afraid of truly pursuing a clean heart?

Monday, January 28, 2008


Good Morning!

I am off of bed rest today and medication and eagerly awaiting the arrival of our little one! My Mom arrived yesterday and we are so glad to have her!

One of my lovely blog readers, Elise, sent me an amazing box of fun (thank you!!) which included these adorable dresses for the little ladies:

Starting Thursday, I'll be sharing Valentine ideas - so stay tuned!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Mitford Book Giveaway

Wow - I really enjoyed reading all of your comments on the Mitford post! You all have some great ideas of creating Mitford in our everyday lives!

It was hard to decide, but this comment stood out to me:

"I like the way everyone is accepted for who they are. They may have odd or inconvenient little ways but all are accepted and indeed those differences are celebrated because in Mitford right is right & wrong is wrong! How lovely to live in such a non prejudiced & non judgemental community where scripture is so readily remembered & the Word is the way to go! Mitford embraces a lot that we have have left behind and I want my own little little part of the world to undergo a Mitford metamorphosis! But living a la Mitford requires simplicity & commitment which I am trying to bring to my own lifestyle & relationships."

Congratulations, Lynn - please e-mail me your mailing address and your book will be on its way!

Clean Heart - Part Seven

Now that we've looked at all the references to the use of the word clean and all the definitions, I went through and wrote down themes and thoughts that came to mind as a result of studying what was revealed in all of this. Here are my thoughts - please feel free to add more!

* In the Old Testament, a common theme was distinguishing between clean and unclean animals; regulations for offerings and purification for personal uncleanness.

* I was aware, while reading all of the rules and regulations, of the great care to present God with only things that were clean. For example: clean animals offered on a clean table by a clean priest, etc... And, I notice ~ why don't I take the same efforts and care when presenting myself to Him?

* Benefits of being clean:
~ blessing from God
~ prevent His wrath
~ right with God; enjoy fellowship
~ takes great faith and strengthens our faith and dependence on Him
~ clear conscience; enables us to serve God
~ salvation! eternity spent with Him in perfect cleanness

* Being clean required a willingness to be made clean. Cleansing can only come from God and we are wise to ask Him for it.

* Physical healing is described as being made clean.

* Inner and outer cleansing are vital. Focus on the inner cleansing and be right all around.

* Comes through Jesus' blood and through God's Word.

* John 13:10-11 stood out to me: we receive a full cleansing when we are saved - but we must continue to be cleansed from individual sins.

Any other observations?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Mitford Moment: Listen to Others' Stories

"'Miss Sadie,' he said, 'I've been hoping you'd tell us tonight about your schooling in Paris.'

'Oh, do you really want to hear that old stuff?'

'Yes!' said Marge, curling up on the sofa next to Hal. Even Barnabas assumed an air of expectancy. And Emma noticed that Hoppy Harper, who was sitting in Father Tim's wing chair, was as relaxed 'as a dishrag,' she later said.

'I hardly know where to begin, it's been so long. But, if you're sure...'

Everyone was absolutely sure.

'Well, then,' she said, sitting even more upright, and squaring her shoulders. 'Paris, France, was where I fell in love.'

Miss Sadie paused for a moment, her face beaming, and looked around the room. Father Tim saw at once that the truest meaning of the term captive audience was being demonstrated right before his eyes."

~ At Home In Mitford by Jan Karon page 54-55

I love this visual picture of everyone relaxing and listening to the story of one of their beloved friends. When given the opportunity, may I be willing to sit and listen to willingly!

Now for some Mitford fun! I have an extra copy of Light From Heaven, the final book in the Mitford series. And, I'd like to pass it on to one of you!

To be entered, please leave a comment including your favorite thing about Mitford or a way that you try to create "Mitford" in your life. Rather than a random drawing this time, and since I have extra time right now, I will choose a favorite answer among the comments left. Comments will be accepted until noon (EST) on Thursday, January 24, 2007. And, the winner will be announced on Friday, Jan. 25th.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Milehimama tagged me to post on six random things - here are the rules:

The meme rules:

Link to the person that tagged you.
Post the rules on your blog.
Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
Tag at least three people at the end of your post and link to their blogs.
Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
Let the fun begin!

Hmmm, six random things - here goes:

1. As a child, I had an extreme fear of dogs. I could spot them quite far away and got very skilled at jumping up to my Mom or Dad's waist so they could hold me above the dog. I also have a vague memory of a squealing pig running after me at a fair or something - Mom, did this really happen?

2. Despite braces, teeth pulled and jaw surgery - I didn't have my first cavity until I was in my 20's.

3. Lucky Charms is my favorite cereal and sometimes I am known to eat all of the cereal in my bowl first and leave all the marshmallows for my last few bites - yummy!

4. So far, I have been unsuccessful at learning to drive a stick shift vehicle. Poor David, he has tried to teach me!

5. I was a cheerleader and then coached cheer leading for six years. I have lots of fun memories of the time spent with those young ladies!

6. I was one of my typing teacher's worst students (so she told me) because I could hunt and peck so fast I had a hard time making myself learn the keys. By the end of the year, I could type correctly and when I was working could type 70 words per minute. Somewhere I read that my Memee could type 120 words per minute years ago on a manual typewriter - so 70 isn't really that impressive!

Good grief - it is ridiculous how long it took me to come up with six even remotely interesting things to say! Instead of tagging other people, please share your random facts in the comments - this will be fun!

Clean Heart - Part Six

If you've been following our series on a Clean Heart - you may remember that as we went through all of the references to the word clean, I included a number at the beginning of each line. These numbers correspond to the definitions I'm going to share today. These are the definitions of the words we translate to clean in the NIV Bible.

1: clean; pure; flawless; free from impurity; moral or ceremonial purity as a figurative extension of an object being free from defect or filth.

2: cleanness; purity; by extension: moral or ceremonial innocence, purity, cleanness; "cleanness of teeth" is a sign of lack of food in famine.

3: to be ceremonially clean, purified; to pronounce clean, cleanse, make ceremonially clean, to purify; to cleanse oneself, purify oneself; this can mean moral or ceremonial purity.

4: cleansing; purification; pronouncement of ceremonial cleansing.

5: purity; cleanness; clearness; brightness

6: clean, pure

7: innocent; free of blame; not guilty

8: to be pure, be justified, be acquitted; to keep pure; to make oneself clean, pure; usually referring to moral purity as a superior quality.

9: cleansing; implying cleansing by washing and rubbing

10: to eat, to be eaten; be consumed, be destroyed; to give to eat, feed; from the base meaning of eating food is the figurative extension of consuming and destroying something.

11: to make clean; cleanse; purify

12: to sweep; sweep clean

13: clean, pure, clear of responsibility, innocent

14: to purify, ceremonially cleanse

15: cleanness; purity

Webster's definition: free from dirt and impurities; unsoiled; morally pure; fair and sportsmanlike; neat and tidy; free from flaws; thorough

Monday, January 21, 2008

Making Your Home A Haven Monday

Hi! Thanks so much for all of your nice comments! I'm sorry I just haven't felt up to blogging the last several days. But, today - I do!

First a quick update: Everything is the same with baby - no change is good at this point. The dr. extended my bed rest by another week, and I haven't quite finished the first week yet - so it will be near the end of January before I am up and around much again.

I don't know how many of you follow this, but I love this weekly feature on Crystal's blog. I didn't see her post up yet today - so will just link to last week.

I realized that there are a few things I can do today to make my home more of a haven without even getting up off of the couch - here are my goals for today:

* Write two notes to whomever the Lord brings to mind that need encouragement.
* Have a cheerful and positive attitude towards my family. (Unfortunately a struggle for me the last few days just laying around.)
* Mentally walk through my home and pray these verses over each room.
* Pull out an afghan that has been unfinished for about five years and get some more done on that while laying on the couch. Goal: to complete it and donate to an organization who can auction or sell it for profit to themselves.
* Put on nice music and light candles when we sit down to eat dinner tonight.

Anyone else want to share any goals for making your home a haven today? I'd love to hear them, hearing from anyone is a bright spot in my days right now!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Rest, Rest, Rest

Well - it's official - I am now on bed rest for the next week. I went for my dr. appt. yesterday afternoon and had dilated more and progressed more (even resting a lot already) so they sent me to the hospital for more medication and monitoring. I was able to go home after just a couple of hours, with an increased dosage on my meds and bed rest.

I have written a few posts ahead, so may pop in to post now and then when I need to stretch my legs.

Meanwhile, I will be enjoying my free two-week trial of Netflix, doing lots of reading, and undoubtedly coming up with lots more ideas to blog about! Thanks for all of the great comments yesterday on "in between" decorating ideas - there were some great ideas shared and I'm excited to come up with something for our table once I'm up and about next week!

Clean Heart - Part Five

New Testament references to the word clean:

11: Matthew 8:2 ~ Jesus heals a man with leprosy; notice his faith, "If You are willing, You can me clean!"
11: Matthew 8:3 ~ see Matthew 8:2
12: Matthew 12:44 ~ Cleansing from evil; see also Luke 11:25.
11: Matthew 23:25 ~ Outward cleansing without inner cleansing is useless. But inward cleansing cleans us in and out! See also Luke 11:39.
11 and 13: Matthew 23:26 ~ see Matthew 23:25
13: Matthew 27:59 ~ A clean linen cloth was used to wrap Jesus' body.
11: Mark 1:40 ~ Healing of a man with leprosy; Jesus immediately heals him.
11: Mark 1:41 ~ See Mark 1:41.
11: Mark 7:19 ~ It is not what comes in; it is what comes out of our hearts that makes us unclean.
11: Luke 5:12 ~ Healing of a man with leprosy ~ Jesus was willing to cleans him.
11: Luke 5:13 ~ See Luke 5:12
12: Luke 11:25 ~ cleansing from evil spirit; we must have safeguards in place and not just sweep the evil out for it will return
11: Luke 11:39 ~ outward cleansing to appear clean vs. inward
13: Luke 11:41 ~ complete cleansing; concentrate on inner and you'll be right all around
13: John 13:10 ~ spiritual cleansing is complete and then requires dealing with individual sin - not a second complete cleansing
13: John 13:11 ~ see John 13:10
13: John 15:3 ~ we are clean - through God's Word
11: Acts 10:15 ~ Peter's vision
11: Acts 11:9 ~ Peter's vision on a sheet; do not judge unclean what God has made clean
14: Acts 24:18 ~ ceremonially clean in the temple; when going into God's house - go with a pure heart
13: Romans 14:20 ~ all food is clean; do not cause another to stumble
15: Hebrews 9:13-14 ~ conscience cleansed; Christ's blood; enables us to serve God
13: Revelation 15:6 ~ clean, shining linen; angels; glory of Heaven
13: Revelation 19:8 ~ bright and clean linen; righteous acts of the saints, clean because of Jesus
13: Revelation 19:14 ~ white and clean linen; comes from following Jesus

Ok, we've made it through the entire list! Next time, I'll share the definitions of the words translated into clean in the NIV. The numbers at the beginning of each line will correspond to these definitions.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Stocking My Freezer - Day Four

As I mentioned yesterday, I am not going to be able to finish my freezer stocking session. But, I did want to share what I had planned to do for those of you who have written to say you're cooking along with what I post!

On Day Two - I mentioned that I had cooked and cut up a bunch of chicken. I had planned to make that into:

Poppy Seed Chicken (divided into two 8x8 pans)
Chicken Enchiladas
1 c. portions for the freezer

What I did instead is to bag the chicken into 1 c. portions - I sure didn't want all that chicken to go to waste just sitting in my fridge!

I also planned to make two loaves of Banana Bread, to steam broccoli and divide it into 1 c. portions and to cut up the green pepper for the fajitas and for topping pizza. I did get the green peppers sliced and frozen over the weekend.

Tonight, I'm planning to make something with broccoli and am hoping to just steam it all and get that in the freezer as well.

I will say that the work I did last week has already come in handy! Last night we had tacos, I pulled out the pre-cooked and divided ground beef and it was a very quick dinner. I also wanted something home baked for dessert and pulled out a few cookies for an after-dinner treat. Delicious and very little effort!

Thanks for all the great questions, ideas and suggestions throughout this freezing series! I am certainly no expert on freezing meals, so will undoubtedly learn a few things from this - like what freezes well and what doesn't. If you're interested, there is a lot of good discussion among the comments in my past posts, so check those out for more info!

In Between

This title could apply in a couple of areas in my life right now - in between having two children and three, in between getting near to a full night of sleep and many short-on-sleep nights coming up, etc... you get the idea.

However, what I'm thinking specifically about is this: when you put Christmas decorations away and it isn't Spring yet ~ what kind of things do you decorate with? I'm not talking a full house decorating here, but a centerpiece for the table or a small something on the mantle. I'd love to hear your ideas!

Our dining room table is currently housing more clutter than I'd like it to - but, it has no centerpiece and somehow that is less motivating for me to keep it clear.

What does January say to you? Words that come to my mind are clean, fresh, new and rest. Hmmm, how can I incorporate those into something for our table? I'll be thinking on this today and looking forward to your comments!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Weekend Update

My sweet friend, Melissa, hosted an amazing baby shower for me on Saturday:

She fixed lots of yummy brunch food since she knows how much I love breakfast and brunch! Here is a sampling:

It was such a blessing to be surrounded by ladies I love and we were indeed showered by love and gifts we can use in welcoming our little boy very soon!

Later in the afternoon, we surprised Emily by taking her to see the new Veggie Tales movie. This was her first big screen movie and I'm not sure she knew what to think initially. It was so BIG and so LOUD! She did seem to have fun, though this movie was a bit more intense than we had realized for a three year old. And, I'm not sure I heard God mentioned at all in this movie. It did have a good message - but we won't be in any hurry to own it or see it again and may not have gone if we had realized all of this.

Emily in the big theater chairs:
Pointing out the "bad guy"And, after a quick dinner at the mall - a ride on the carousel was a great finish to our evening!

Thanks for all the great comments and questions on freezer meals and ideas. I will be responding to those later today. I'm planning to post the last freezer post tomorrow - though it will just be what I had hoped to complete.

After a visit to the dr. on Friday, I'm on a lot more medication to slow contractions and I have started dilating, so bed rest is still an option after my next appt. tomorrow if things have changed at all. We'll see. I've been sitting down and laying down a lot - watching a lot of movies and reading a lot! I'll keep you updated - thanks for praying!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Stocking My Freezer - Day Three

Yesterday, I did not have much energy ~ I did do a few things, just because the chicken needed tending and we had twice baked potatoes for dinner, so making a few extra wasn't a big deal. But, I had a lot more on my list that is being put off for another day!

I cut up chicken and onions for fajitas - unfortunately, I forgot to buy green pepper at the store - so will have to add that later! Thanks, Mary Ann, for this idea!

One pan Emily's Chicken:

Twice Baked Potatoes:

Note: Several of the things I've made for my freezer can be done sitting down (which I've done): crumble bacon, chop chicken, scoop out potatoes, etc... FYI!

Emily's Chicken

My sister gave us this recipe and we love it! It is named after the friend who gave her the recipe, but I've since heard it is also named Swiss Chicken. Thanks to Susan P. for letting me know this dish can be frozen!

We love to fix it with mashed potatoes because there is a lot of gravy left in the pan that goes great over the potatoes. (Thanks, Carrie, for the great idea!)

4 chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken soup (I use homemade)
1/3 c. cooking wine (I use apple juice)
4 slices Swiss cheese
1 c. crushed stuffing mix (I never crush it and often use more than 1 c.)
1/3 c. melted butter

Place chicken in an 8x8 casserole dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Lay swiss cheese slices on top of chicken. Mix soup and wine and pour over chicken. Sprinkle stuffing on top of that, and drizzle melted butter over stuffing. Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes.

Clean Heart - Part Four

1: Ezra 6:20 ~ cleansing of the priests for preparing the Passover Lamb
5: Job 17:9 ~ Job is recounting his condition and how he is despised by many. Yet he says those with clean hands will grow stronger.
6: Job 33:9 ~ Elihu repeats that he heard Job say he was pure and without sin; clean and free from guilt yet was experiencing trouble.
3: Job 37:21 ~ When the skies have been cleansed from any clouds; we can not look look directly at the sun. So, with God's purity.
7: Psalm 24:4 ~ Clean and pure before God brings blessing from Him.
3: Psalm 51: 7 ~ Asking God for cleansing.
3: Proverbs 20:9 ~ In our own strength - we cannot keep ourselves pure, clean or without sin; this can only come through God's cleansing.
1: Ecclesiastes 9:2 ~ Everyone (clean and unclean) shares one thing: we all will die.
8: Isaiah 1:16 ~ Our uncleanness hinders our coming to God - first: wash!
1: Isaiah 66:20 ~ Bringing of offerings in ceremonially clean vessels - am I a clean vessel when I worship?
9: Ezekiel 16:4 ~ Before we belong to God - we are unclean; He cleanses.
1: Ezekiel 22:6 ~ It was a sin when certain priests were not teaching a difference between clean and unclean. See Ezekiel 44:23.
3: Ezekiel 24:13 ~ An unwillingness to be cleansed led to God's wrath.
1 and 3: Ezekiel 36:25 ~ God will cleanse His people from idols and all impurities.
1: Ezekiel 44:23 ~ The priest's job is to teach the difference between clean and unclean; holy and common.
10: Amos 7:2 ~ Land stripped clean by locusts.
1: Zechariah 3:5 ~ Clean turban; a picture of our sin being removed and replaced with righteousness.

This completes the Old Testament list. Next time, we'll start the New Testament!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Clean Heart, Part Three

Thanks for the great feedback on this study - I am really enjoying and benefiting from it and hope anyone else who is interested is also!

Continuing on in our word study of each verse using the word clean:

3: Numbers 8:6 ~ the setting apart of the Levites and the procedure for cleansing
1: Numbers 9:13 ~ to be ceremonially clean, on a journey and not celebrate Passover was a sin
1: Numbers 18:11 ~ offerings that could be eaten by the priests/Levites and their households which required them to be ceremonially clean to eat it.
1: Numbers 18:13 ~ see Numbers 18:11
1: Numbers 19:9 ~ only a clean man could gather the ashes to be used in the water(for the purification of sins) for cleansing
3: Numbers 19:12 ~ touching a dead body required two days (day 3 and 7) of cleansing
1: Numbers 19:18 ~ the procedure for cleansing a home from a death
1 and 3: Numbers 19:19 ~ the procedure for cleansing a person in that home from a death
3: Numbers 31:23 ~ Anything that could withstand fire was to be purified by fire;
3: Numbers 31:24 ~ everything else by water; even clothes to be cleansed from battle
1: Deuteronomy 12:15 ~ If God's dwelling place is too far to go to slaughter animals, do so in your own town and all may eat whether clean or unclean
1: Deuteronomy 12:22 ~ see 12:15
1: Deuteronomy 14:11 ~ any clean bird you may eat
1: Deuteronomy 14:20 ~ any clean winged creature you may eat
1: Deuteronomy 15:22 ~ to eat an animal with a defect did not require ceremonial cleansing
3: 2 Kings 5:14 ~ Naaman healed of leprosy
1: 2 Chronicles 13:11 ~ bread offered to the Lord was placed on a ceremonially clean table
1: 2 Chronicles 30:17 ~ the Levites prepared the Passover lambs for all who were not ceremonially clean
4: 2 Chronicles 30:19 ~ Hezekiah prayed that God would cleanse all who truly sought God even if they were not clean according to the rules.

This will take at least two more installments to complete - then, I'll share the definitions of the Hebrew/Greek words and get more practical as far as questions we can be asking ourself during this study or in relation to the term Clean Heart!

For more inspiration on this topic, be sure to check out the following two links (thanks, Rebecca!) to Sally Clarkson's blog. These posts were a perfect fit for what we are talking about here and I enjoyed reading her thoughts!

De-Cluttering - the Secret to Peace and Rest

Also, Wendi shares her thoughts after following these posts about a clean heart.

Stocking My Freezer - Day Two

Here is the next installment in what I did yesterday to stock my freezer!

Made Chocolate Chip Cookies to freeze the dough - I can take out a few at a time and bake them!
Made one pan Mexican Lasagna:
Cooked a bunch of chicken breasts to cut up for casseroles I will make today.

I've gotten some great comments and e-mails from you on this topic! Here are a few links worth sharing:

Simple Family Supper (I am not a subscriber, but it looks like a neat idea!)
A Year of Crock Potting (This fellow blogger is resolving to use her Crock Pot every day in 2008 - check out her recipes and honest reviews of the recipes she has tried!
Another blog of interest is: The Freezer Chicks
Mrs. Pear also has a great section on her blog about meals for the freezer!

Beef & Bean Enchiladas

1 c. ground beef, browned and drained
1/2 can refried beans
enchilada sauce (to desired consistency)

Spread bottom of pan with enchilada sauce. Divide filling between tortillas and include a sprinkle of cheese in each one. Roll and place in pan. Top with sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 until done!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Stocking My Freezer - Day One

Thanks for all the great ideas on helping stock my freezer! I have divided everything I want to do into the next few days (though it may take me longer) and will share with you what I came up with!

Yesterday, I did the following:

Sliced two large loaves French bread and put in Ziplocs:
Made two loaves Coffee Cake Bread:
Browned 5+ pounds of ground beef:
Made two pans Easy Lasagna: (though I don't care for tomatoes, I can handle lasagna once in a while and I know this freezes well)I also cooked and crumbled three pounds of bacon and stored in a ziploc - but didn't get a photo.

Coffee Cake Bread

I have fond memories of looking for a slice of this in church growing up during our "Coffee Fellowship" time (a time between church and Sunday School) and have been thinking of it even more lately, because the dear lady who always made it passed away just before Christmas.

I thought of her as I made it and smelled it baking in our oven and remembered the treat I always thought it was!

The title on her recipe is Sour Cream Bundt Cake, but we always had it in a loaf size and I always thought of it as Coffee Cake Bread.

Mix in a small bowl and set aside:
1/2 c. sugar
2 T. cinnamon

In a large bowl mix:
1 box yellow cake mix
1 small box instant vanilla pudding (3.4 oz.)
4 extra large eggs
1 c. sour cream (8 oz.)
1 t. butter flavoring
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. oil
3/4 c. hot water

Beat all together with an electric mixer on high speed until well mixed. Grease and flour a bundt pan or two loaf pans. Sprinkle ground nuts in bottom of pan. Pour 1/3 batter in pan. Sprinkle 1/2 cinnamon sugar mixture on top of that. Repeat layers and finish with last of batter. You can save a small amount of cinnamon sugar for the top if desired. Bake at 350 for about 1 hour. Loaves can be frozen.

Easy Lasagna

1 lb. ground beef
1 - 28 oz. jar spaghetti sauce
1 1/2 c. water
1 - 15 oz. carton cottage cheese
2 c. (8 oz.) shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 pkg. (8 oz.) uncooked lasagna

Brown ground beef and drain. Return to pan with spaghetti sauce and water, simmer about 10 minutes.

In a bowl, mix together: cottage cheese, 1 c. Mozzarella, Parmesan, eggs, parsley, salt and pepper.

Pour about 1 c. sauce onto the bottom of two 8x8 inch baking dishes. Arrange uncooked pasta pieces lengthwise over sauce; cover with about 1 c. sauce. Spread one fourth of cheese mixture over each pan. Repeat layers. Top with lasagna noodles and all remaining sauce. Top with remaining 1 c. Mozzarella cheese. Cover and freeze. Or, bake, covered, at 350 for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake 15 minutes more. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

Yield: One 9x13 dish or two 8x8 dishes.

Apron and Purse Details, and Other Questions!

Wow - there were so many questions in yesterday's post about the patterns, do I sew at the counter, etc... that I felt I should address them in a post rather than try to answer them in the comments section.

Here goes:

* I usually do sew at the dining room table and especially considering how pregnant I am. When I do need to finish something up and the girls are up - it is a big help to be able to stand in this L-shape of the counter where they cannot get to the cords. I am only five feet tall, so the height is actually quite nice for me. David just happened to catch me when I was standing at the counter - this is not my norm!

* Apron pattern: I took my apron and folded it in half lengthwise and cut around that for a pattern! I added some extra as I was going to add the seam allowance, but did not have an "actual" pattern for it.

* Purse pattern: Oh, dear - here it comes - I freehanded these. I always do. I cut one piece and then use it as a pattern for the rest of the pieces. I knew I should have taken pictures and made a tutorial for this and I will someday - but I can't promise when that will be. To make a purse like this, here is what you would do (beware, this is just me typing out what I do - and not an actual pattern!) :

Pre-wash and dry all fabric so that you know you can wash the item later! And, to prevent any fading or colors bleeding in the future.

Cut a piece of fabric slightly larger than you want your actual purse to be (seam allowance, etc.)
Now, cut another one using the first one as a pattern. Using this same pattern, cut two pieces to be the lining for the inside. Cut two pieces of iron-on interfacing using the same pattern. Now, cut one piece about half the size of the pattern to become the interior pockets.

Cut two wide, long strips to be the handles. Last, cut two pieces that are the same length as the bottom edge of the purse but only a few inches wide to become the bottom of the purse.

Iron interfacing onto lining pieces. Roll hem the top of the piece to become the pocket. Stitch the pocket piece to one piece of lining.

Now, stitch the outer fabric together (if you are doing a ribbon trim somewhere besides the top, you'll want to sew this on first), right sides together. Press seams. Making a triangle at the corners, stitch across and cut. This makes the purse stand upright.

Repeat for the lining.

Press over a small edge on each side of the piece to be the handle. Then, fold in half and press. Stitch to sew enclose all edges. Repeat for other handle.

Put the lining inside the purse and fold down top edges to be even. Pin. Insert handles at this point and a ribbon tie-closure if desired.

Stitch all around the top edge.

Add any desired trims - ribbon or poms. Stitch on.

Cut a piece of cardboard to fit the bottom of the purse. Sew remaining pieces of fabric together (right sides together) on three sides leaving one small edge open. Turn right side out. Insert cardboard. Stitch across open end. Trim with pinking shears. Place piece in bottom.


* Using these patterns: I am always willing for you to use the ideas you find here for yourself. Please don't sell my ideas or try to pretend they are yours. Often, they are not mine and I am always trying to give credit where it is due!

* When is our baby due? The technical answer is February 19th. Now, my history is to have issues with pre-term labor and I haven't ever hit my 37th week in any pregnancy so far. Yes, this could be different, but my doctor and I do not think so!

* How is my friend doing? My friend, Melissa, whom I shared about here is doing great! She is due March 10th and they are expecting a little girl. We are so thankful that she is doing well and continue to praise God for His blessings in their lives!

Thank you for all of your sweet comments and encouragement!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Sewing, Sewing, Sewing

I've been having so much fun sewing during nap times this past week! And, wanted to show you some of what I've been making! Yikes! This is addicting!

A toile curtain panel from the thrift store became ~

An Apron (already sold):

On the pocket, I made one of these pins (remove before laundering of course) :

... and a tote bag/purse! (this one is a gift for a friend)

And, this purse was made from a sheet and some cloth napkins, also from the thrift store! I love the combinations! One is for me and one for a future giveaway here!

In addition to these things, I've made two other aprons and a small zippered bag to carry my camera in! David snapped this photo of me sewing at the kitchen counter:

Monday, January 07, 2008

Kleenex Keepers

Last week on New Year's Day - I treated myself to a trip to Goodwill! I had in mind that I was looking for some new fabric and, while I haven't had much success finding good fabric yardage at a thrift store - I love to look through the sheets, tablecloths, curtains and pillowcases for options! I was NOT disappointed!

I came home with an old curtain, XL twin sheet and two pillowcases and have been doing lots of sewing since! I'll be showing you some more things I've made tomorrow - but here is one project that is SO easy and turns out really cute. It is also super quick!

I found this tutorial browsing Sew Mama Sew for little travel size Kleenex keepers for our purse! I did change one thing from the tutorial, which was sewing the six inch sides right sides together and pressing before continuing. I didn't like the idea of raw edges on the finished product.
I have made a bunch of these and put together these little "Day at the Hospital Survival Kits" to give to the nurses when our baby is born. It includes a homemade Kleenex Keeper, granola bar, pen, paper, mints, and I'm going to include a note with two quarters taped on for the drink or snack machine. All of this is in a little reusable Ziploc container - I got these free recently.

Yes, this is thinking WAY ahead - but wouldn't these make great stocking stuffers?!

Living Simply Book Winner

First of all, let me say - that I loved all of your ideas for living simply. If you haven't had a chance to visit all of the comments - you will find some great ideas in here for cultivating simplicity into your lives!

And, now, the winner is Tamara at Pondered In My Heart! Congratulations, Tamara! And, please e-mail me your address so I can get your book to you!

Thanks for all the great comments, ladies!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Clean Heart, Part Two

Wow! Great comments last time we approached this subject! Did you all read some of the words mentioned...



Breaking Through

Praising God immediately, even before we "feel" clean!



And more. These are amazing words!

Just before Thanksgiving, I started a new spiral notebook for thoughts on this topic. Here's what I wrote down for my initial thoughts...
Clean heart, clean home, finances, motives, clutter cleared and possessions pared down, clean schedule, greater emphasis on God and His Word in our home - training our children; prayer. Physically and spiritually clean.
Then - I started by looking up every reference to the word clean in the NIV Bible. I wrote all the references down one edge of the page (it took several pages!) and then allowed one line per reference. On each line, I wrote a brief recap of that passage and how it related to clean.

In addition, the number at the beginning of the line represents which definition the word correlates to when we look at the Hebrew/Greek meanings of the words ~ I'll be sharing on this after we look at all the passages.

I know it is easy to skim over the Old Testament passages knowing that lots of these references were in relation to sacrifices and rules or regulations that we are not bound to under the new covenant. However, I know that God included each word in His Holy Word for a reason. So, I believe that we can learn something even through parallel in these Old Testament passages. Hang in there with me and let's learn together!

The first thing we can realize, is a thankfulness in not being bound by all of the sacrifices and regulations. We can be thankful that Jesus came to fulfill all of these requirements for us and to cleanse us before God!

There are simply too many for one post - but, here is the first batch:

1: Genesis 7:2 ~ clean animals entering the Ark
1: Genesis 7:8 ~ pairs of clean and unclean animals entering the Ark
1: Genesis 8:20 ~ Noah's sacrifice upon exiting the Ark was clean animals and birds
2: Genesis 20:5 ~ Abimelech took Sarah into his home believing she was unmarried and with "clean" hands; Abraham and Sarah lied about being brother/sister
1: Leviticus 4:12 ~ regulations for the sin offering
1: Leviticus 6:11 ~ regulations for the burnt offerings
1: Leviticus 7:19 ~ meat that touches anything unclean must be burned up
1: Leviticus 10:10 ~ the priests and Levites were to set an example by distinguishing between clean and unclean; they and their households
1: Leviticus 10:14 ~ see Leviticus 10:10
3: Leviticus 11:32 ~ certain unclean animals and what they touch can become unclean; they were responsible for distinguishing between clean and unclean
1: Leviticus 11:36 ~ see Leviticus 11:32
1: Leviticus 11:37 ~ see Leviticus 11:32
1: Leviticus 11:47 ~ see Leviticus 11:32
3: Leviticus 12:7 ~ purification of uncleanness after childbirth
3: Leviticus 12:8 ~ same as Leviticus 12:7
3: Leviticus 13:6 ~ regulations about infectious skin diseases
4: Leviticus 13:7 ~ see Leviticus 13:7
1/3: Leviticus 13:13 ~ see Leviticus 13:7
1: Leviticus 13:17 ~ see Leviticus 13:7
3: Leviticus 13:23 ~ see Leviticus 13:7
3: Leviticus 13:28 ~ see Leviticus 13:7
3: Leviticus 13:34 ~ see Leviticus 13:7
4: Leviticus 13:35 ~ see Leviticus 13:7
1/3: Leviticus 13:37 ~ see Leviticus 13:7
1: Leviticus 13:39 ~ see Leviticus 13:7
1: Leviticus 13:40 ~ see Leviticus 13:7
1: Leviticus 13:41 ~ see Leviticus 13:7
3: Leviticus 13:58 ~ see Leviticus 13:7
3: Leviticus 13:59 ~ see Leviticus 13:7
1: Leviticus 14:4 ~ description of how to be cleansed from an infections skin disease which had caused uncleanness
3: Leviticus 14:7 ~ see Leviticus 14:4
3: Leviticus 14:8 ~ see Leviticus 14:4
3: Leviticus 14:9 ~ see Leviticus 14:4
3: Leviticus 14:11 ~ see Leviticus 14:4
3: Leviticus 14:20 ~ see Leviticus 14:4
3: Leviticus 14:48 ~ process for cleansing a home from the uncleanness of mildew
3: Leviticus 14:53 ~ see Leviticus 14:48
1: Leviticus 14:57 ~ see Leviticus 14:48
1: Leviticus 15:8 ~ description of discharges that cause uncleanness and the details of their becoming clean again
3: Leviticus 15:13 ~ see Leviticus 15:8
3: Leviticus 15:28 ~ see Leviticus 15:8
3: Leviticus 16:30 ~ we must be cleansed for our sins; Day of Atonement
3: Leviticus 17:15 ~ eating a found animal or one torn by other animals made one unclean
1: Leviticus 20:25 ~ make distinctions between clean and unclean animals; do not defile yourselves
3: Leviticus 22:7 ~ touching anything unclean made a priest unclean until sunset

Thoughts? I know that I am being challenged in areas where my heart could use some cleaning and I am thankful that God is gentle in His correction.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Living Simply

I received this book for Christmas and have spent the last couple of days simply devouring it! I rarely highlight books here, as you know, and that should speak highly of how much I loved this one!

I sincerely hope I did not do injustice to the amount of effort Joanne Heim put into writing this book by how quickly I read it! She is truly a kindred spirit! I felt like I was having a conversation with a friend by visiting the pages of her book. She loves Avonlea, Little House on the Prairie, crafting, and creating a simple home and life, not to mention that she loves the Lord!

Quite a few of the ideas she presented in this book are things we are already living out in our family ~ but what an encouragement it was to know that these are things that promote living simply!

In addition to being encouraged, I was challenged to go farther in my desire to live simply. I loved her idea of praying through her to-do list each day, knowing that God has a plan for our day as well and making sure they are in sync.

I can't wait to walk through our home and "invite God in" by praying specifically in each room for what happens in that room.

She provides a great list of suggested Scriptures for teaching our children and incorporating them into our correction of them. I love this!

I also appreciated her list of suggested resources in the back and mention of many books throughout the book that I can read to continue learning more about this.

The overall tone of her book is one of encouragement, you-can-do-it attitude, fun and friendship! What a blessing!

Because I loved this book so much, I'm going to give one away here! All you have to do is leave a comment including your favorite idea for living simply and you'll be entered in a drawing. Comments will be accepted until Friday night at midnight, EST. I'll do the drawing on Saturday and announce the winner next Monday!

Make sure to visit Joanne's blog and if you have the opportunity to get a copy of this book - I hope you will be as encouraged as I have been!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Clean Heart

I have a feeling I'm going to have a lot to share on this subject in the coming weeks. It has been on my heart and mind for quite some time now and I'm planning to dive into God's Word to see what God wants to say to me on this.

Here are a couple of previous posts where I have mentioned this:

Poem by Ruth Bell Graham, What Mothers Cannot Do
Clean Heart, Clean Home
Follow up to Clean Heart, Clean Home

Another place I've spent time reading about this is at the A Clean Heart blog.

In my Christmas letter, I wrote the following:
"God has been impressing the idea of having a clean heart on my mind and heart recently. If I truly had a clean heart, how would that impact our home, schedule, finances, priorities, spiritual walk, etc... I'd love to hear your thoughts about this if it is something God has been showing you or shown you in the past."

I received a couple of really great responses to this ...

At first, it can be upsetting to us to see ways we need to change. But, when we realize it is from the Lord, it is humbling and we can go to Him and ask for forgiveness and cleansing. We can read Psalm 51 and ask Him for a clean heart!

This one was my favorite - and has prompted a lot of thinking on my part - I read and re-read her entire letter trying to glean all of the wisdom she exposes and the questions that I should be asking myself:

"I know He calls me to a pure seek Him and His will for me. So Scriptures pop in my head.......
Matthew 6:21, 'For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.'
So my treasure is to have a clean heart.....So I treasure these things:
Philippians 4:8, 'Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent of praiseworthy - think about such things.'
Gosh, I can only imagine how my entire world would change if I could focus on these things, and truly treasure're right, it would affect ... everything. Yet it seems so unattainable to me...'cause I know my heart."

I decided to start pursuing this deeper and began by looking up every Scripture with the word clean in it. I'll be sharing more on this next time. Meanwhile, share your thoughts -

* What comes to your mind when you think of a clean heart?
* What other thoughts came to mind as you read this post today?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Frugal Honey Baked Ham!

Have you ever tasted a Honey Baked Ham? If you have, then you know why I think they are the most delicious ham ever! I have tried the glaze that comes with the grocery store hams and just don't think it is even close to the same.

With my parents coming this year - I had contemplated the idea of ordering one. But, had an idea to ask David to see what he could find online about making your own since my budget wasn't too keen on spending so much on just the ham!

He quickly found this recipe with great instructions and I was so excited to try it! I borrowed a blow torch from my brother-in-law and went to work.

My Mom captured this event for you to see me actually using a blow torch!

First of all, rolling the ham in the sugar and spice coating:

Now for the torching!

Our ham was about $15 total and I saved $60 by doing this myself! I thought this ham turned out great - the coating was not as crispy on the outside as the one from the HBH store. But, here are a few things I learned:

* I was too conservative with the blow torch at the beginning. Holding the flame closer and watching the sugar bubble and the edges of the meat sizzle and start to curl made a much better coating.
* When the liquid from the ham gets on the sugar, it is easier to just spoon or scoop up the sugar off of the waxed paper and rub it on the ham with your hands and then torch it.
* To do repeat layers of the coating would probably give better results, but would take more sugar mixture than the recipe calls for. Next time, I would make one and one half or double of the sugar coating so that there was enough to do repeat coatings.

The flavor of the ham and the juices were very similar to the HBH hams. All in all, it was a great experiment and a successful first try!