Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wednesday's Cleaning: Things you Forget to Clean, part 2

Okay, so this one is late, but I really was trying a good amount of stuff to write about. Last time I had so much information, I had to be picky about what I wanted to post. This time, I'm pretty much going to list everything I found. Thanks to all who gave ideas on FB, your names are below! :)

This week I wanted to focus on the bedroom, laundry room, and garage. There were a couple of repeats (as you will see below), but for the most part, these rooms didn't have a lot of resources to pull from out there in the internet world! So this is what I have:


  • Curtains: I always seem to forget to wash these. And I know growing up, those curtains didn't get washed that much either. I think it's just one of those things you forget to take down and clean. 
  • Night Stand: If you are like me, your night stand can occasionally get piled up with this and that. And dust. About once a month I realize that I have put on there earrings and hair clips that I forgot were on until I was lying down. I also see the massive amount of dust that accumulates behind my alarm clock. This seriously is a place I forget to clean. 
  • Closet
    • Organize your shoes. Throw out or donate the ones that have been pushed to the back. Set aside the ones that need repair. Put away the ones that are out of season. This was actually a goal of mine this year. I'm a stickler for most shoe etiquette rules that apply to church. So my closed toe shoes are normally reserved for after Labor Day and before Easter. 
    • Organize clothes. Occasionally clothes fall off hangers; sometimes you hold on to that dress just a little too long; and once in a while, you need to see if the clothes you have hanging up are being used anymore. Pack away, donate, or put in it's place in your closet. 
    • Floor: Pull everything out and vacuum the floor. When we moved, that was something I realized I had never done. And that floor does need it too. If you keep a really clean closet, this won't be that hard, but if you are like the rest of America, this may be something  you need to put on your calendars to do once every other month. 
  • Baseboards and Moldings: Just like the other rooms talked about last time, these areas tend to be forgotten until you rearrange the furniture and realize that you haven't vacuumed under the bed or really the entire baseboards in a while. 
  • Air Vents: Just like last time, you need to make sure you take the extension hose on your vacuum cleaner and get the vents in your room. 

Laundry Room
  • Washing Machine: Run a load, without clothes, with a cup of vinegar. I'm seeing these commercials for washing machine and dryer cleaners. Uh...just do it yourself and don't pay the big bucks for some commercial product. 
  • Dryer: Lint trap. About every 3 loads or so, I forget to clean it out. My dryer is old (almost 30 years old) and I just don't want it to one day catch on fire because I didn't clean out the lint trap. Also, make sure you do an occasional wet, soapy rag wash to the inside of the dryer as well. 
  • Floors: Sweep, vacuum, and dust behind and under all those appliances. My laundry room doubles as a pantry and storage as well, so I have a ton of stuff that constantly needs organizing and dusting. About once a month, move the appliances and such and get a good clean out from under all the stuff. 

  • Tools: It's good to remember to check your tools. Did you clean them last time after you worked on the car? Are all the pieces in the right place? Does your drill's battery need charging? Do an occasional sweep through your tools to check them out. 
  • Floor: Check under your car. Do you have a grease stain? A little saw dust or cat litter will clean it up. Research also said to sprinkle laundry detergent on it, let it sit for at least 45 minutes, pour boiling water to wash it off, and then scrub with a rough broom. 
  • Shelves: Just like the inside of the house, the outside also gets dust. Take time to organize your shelves by removing everything, giving the shelves and items a good dusting, and then replace them all in an orderly fashion. 
  • Vehicles: While cleaning the garage, you may also be tackling the car as well. Make sure check under the seats, clean out the little cubby holes or trays on the doors, and check the glove compartment. Make sure everything is cleaned and in it's place. I know, for a fact, that a certain male in my family has a bag of pop tarts sitting in his car that has been there...really I have no clue how long, but they are nestled under about 3 pounds of papers that have been shoved in there. It's a good reminder to occasionally get these areas as well. 
So that's about it. It's a little longer list than I originally thought! It's a great start on making sure you and your family are living in a clean and healthy environment. 

Next week I'll be starting a new series on Deep Cleaning. I will take a few weeks to focus on different rooms and areas in the house. Stay tuned, and as always, please contribute your ideas and tips! 


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday's Food: Apple and Turkey Meatballs

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine delivered a large bag of delicious apples from her family's farm. I immediately went to Stephanie O'Dea's website, A Year of Slow Cooking, to see what kind of recipes she had for apples. After seeing the basics (you know, apple oatmeal, caramel apples, apple butter), one that really caught my eye was her recipe for Apple, Cheddar, and Turkey Meatballs. I didn't follow her recipe completely, which is normal, but I wanted something I could cook ahead of time and freeze for later. Since I was making a TON of stuff with apples, I didn't want to overload my family all at once. This one worked great!  So check out the recipe and see if it is something you would be willing to try for your family.

Apple and Turkey Meatballs (original recipe here)


  • 1 1/2 pound extra lean ground turkey
  • 1 egg (I actually used 1 Tbsp flaxseed and 3 Tbsp water as an egg substitute) 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 apple, peeled and shredded (the original called for a green apple, and I will probably do this next time) 
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1/2 cup raisins 
  • Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl
  • Form 1 inch balls and drop into crockpot (you can stagger stack the meatballs in the pot)
  • cook on HIGH 4-5 hours or LOW 5-9. I let mine cook down pretty good because I like a little crunch in my meat. 
  • NOTE: if you are going to freeze yours like I did mine, make sure they cool completely in the fridge before you put them in the freezer. You do not want ice crystals to form in your storage from the heat. This will give the meat freezer burn. 
I served mine with white and wild rice and cheesy broccoli. We seriously at this up. My husband is not a big fan of "weird" things that I make (although he gives them all a try), but this one he said it was really good. So...YAY! 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday's Devotion: Doing what you have to do

"She watches over the affairs of her household; and does not eat the bread of idleness." Proverbs 31:27

As I handed my oldest son a broom and my youngest son some window cleaner and paper towels, I said,"You must do what you have to do before..." and they finished "you can do what you want to do." This is a saying I taught my kids a while ago when teaching them the importance of priorities. Sure, they can go play after they do their homework, but they need to get their chores done first. I use that phrase so much in my house, that I catch my sons repeating it to each other when they discuss things that need to get done. Seriously, they do. I want my kids to learn that there is a time for work and there is a time for play, and they seem to have picked it up pretty easily. It also seems to prevent any groaning, strangely, when they ask if they can go play outside or watch tv. When I start saying this, it's like they understand that I'm not telling them they can't play, they just have to do what's necessary first. I love it! 

So last week my own words continued to repeat in my head when I started to sit down to finish that book that is getting oh so good or when I started to lie down for a little nap while the sink was full of dishes. I have had so much on my plate the past few weeks, that my defense mechanism just wanted me to hide from it all in hopes that it would magically get done on it's own. When I hit those moments, the phrase "you must do what you have to do before you can do what you want to do" continuously repeated itself in my head until I got up and "did what I had to do." 

At first I was kind of moaning about it. "Ugh! I there's just so much that needs to get done!" or "::sigh:: Really? The trash needs to be dumped again?!" Then God laid on my heart the picture of the Proverbs 31 wife. She has been my goal since I had the luck to stay at home. If I want to be like her, then I need to work like her. And if you read the entire section, Proverbs 31:10-31, you will see that she is one busy lady, but she takes the time to enjoy life. Check out verse 25: "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come." This Proverbs 31 Wife gets it. She must do what she has to do before she can do what she wants to do. 

What I want to do is please the Lord by serving Him and my family; by helping those around me who are in need; by providing for my family clothing, food, and the desire to come home to a clean and peaceful house; and by setting a good example of how to balance daily devotions, meals, the budget, and doctor appointments all while resting in the Lord. The Proverbs 31 wife provides such a great example of how to stay busy for the Lord, and I can only hope that my husband and children will, too, one day "call me blessed and honor me for loving the Lord". 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Guest Post: Crockpot Cheese Fondue

Tara has got it right! Date night at home. Both of us are moms of 3 kids, and paying for a babysitter for 3 kids for...eh...3 hours is just not in the budget or in the hectic schedule of raising kids. So Tara, over at MommyTime, and I have been going through Stephanie O'Dea's Year of Slow Cooking and giving her recipes a little twist of our own. Tara gave Cheese Fondue a shot. And by the way, if you haven't seen Tara's blog, you really should. She homeschools her kids and they have been getting passports from around the world. Stop by her blog and see which country they learned about this week! (and her daughter is my son's pen pal. How sweet!) 

Take it away, Tara! 

Jana (from Just Makin' It) and I have been slow cooking our way through  A Year of Slow Cooking. We are on recipe 11. I planned an at home fondu date night for the man and I so slow cooker cheese fondu was a perfect recipe pick for this round.
Fondu is my favorite. When my birthday comes around, that is usually the meal that The Man plans for me. The Man and I have been making fondu at home since we were dating. It's such a great way to connect over dinner. It's not one of those kinds of meals where you can stuff your face and then chat.. it's one of those nibble here chat, nibble there chat type of meals. I was excited to try out Stephanie's recipe in my Little Dipper. That enabled me to get all of my main course prepared and ready for us to start.
This is Stephanie's recipe: Fancy Cheese Fondue Little Dipper Recipe
I didn't follow her's exactly. We like the traditional cheese fondue.
I used:
1/2 Cup Greyere
1/2 Cup Emmenthal
1/2 Cup Dry white Wine
1 garlic clove pressed
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 loaf of French bread
If you are having trouble finding these cheeses at your grocer, be sure to check the deli section. They usually have a special refrigerator section for their "fancy" cheese. Let's get going.
First grate your cheeses.
Next place all of your ingredients into your Little Dipper and turn to high until the cheese is melted.
After I got my Little Dipper going, I got the rest of our meal ready for the actual date.
The Things knew what was going on because they got "Freezer Meals" for supper. They thought it was awesome that we were going to stay home and have a date. I will take one any way I can get it :) Thing 2 was more excited about it than Thing 1. After the third time of me putting him back to bed he said, "Mom, I hope you have a good date." He gave me another kiss and hug and that was the last I heard from him!
Our date night meal underway.
And now, back to the results of the cheese fondu... The taste was dead on, but the consistency was not there. I noticed that Stephanie's Little Dipper doesn't have heat settings. Mine does. My Little Dipper never got hot enough to fully melt the cheeses properly. I believe her Little Dipper must get really hot if she got her cheeses bubbly. This was not the case with ours. I did manage to get a few really good bites.
Overall, cheese fondue was a fail in my Little Dipper. I think if I had let it go for 2 hours maybe.. just maybe it would have been hot enough to make it just right. Next time I will stick with using our fondu pot. The cheese is my favorite part and I was so disappointed that it didn't turn out. If you have a Little Dipper like Stephanie's and try this please let me know if it turns out for you. I'm pretty sure the issue was with my Little Dipper.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thursday's Craft: Baby's Quilt

My great-grandmother, Tincy Gantt, made quilts. A TON of them (and it's no wonder for someone who was born in 1888). I have three of them in my bedroom that I use on a regular basis, two more in storage, and a baby blanket made by a great grandmother I knew for a short 5 years (and some change) of my life. What I love about her quilts is that they are sturdy and have stood the test of time for around 100 years. So just recently I tried my hand at quilting. I didn't do it the old-fashioned way, like my friend Meredith did (see her page here and all the creative things she makes and sells), because I just didn't have the time or the patience, but I still gave it a shot for two little girls on their first birthday (Hey, Naomi and Evelyn! Hope you are enjoying your quilts!)

Here's how I did it:


  • scraps of fabric cut into equal sized squares (I had 16- 8x8 squares)
  • Lay out the squares in the order you want. I wanted to make sure I didn't have one large square with four blues, so I laid them out by color in columns and then picked them up by rows (see picture) 

  • With RIGHT SIDES together, sew in this order: 
    • 1 (square) x 1 = 2 squares
    • 2 x 2 = 4 squares 
    • 4 x 4 = 16 squares (the entire quilt) 

Halfway done! 

  • (Optional): Cut out Initial of whomever is getting the quilt (or their last name's initial). Sew onto 1 square of solid color

  • Sew the "Initial Square" in the center of the quilt

  • Measure and cut the size of the back of the quilt. I used fleece and it was 30 x 30 inches. 
  • Double fold the top over the bottom (with WRONG SIDES facing each other) and sew a zig zag stitch. You can also follow this with a straight stitch around the entire quilt for reinforcement. 

  • That's it! You are done! 

I was actually excited that these were so easy to make. I had two to make, and it took me a LOT less time to make than I originally thought. Now I know to make them, I'm probably going to do a few more for presents in the near future (wink wink). 

Here is the final product for Evelyn and Naomi. They are twins, so I wanted them to be similar, but not too similar as each girl is a very special individual. I hope they don't grow out of them too soon! :) 

Wednesday's Cleaning: Things You Don't Think to Clean, part 1

So there is no excuse. I really could have posted this yesterday. There was no reason, no excuse. Just laziness. But we need the occasional day to be lazy, right? Right? So, here's the post, a day late. 

I'm starting a very short 2 week series on "Things You Don't Think to Clean". I got this idea from a few websites that I follow. I'm not a natural cleaner. I don't like messy, but I tend to lean towards organized chaos (but what my mother would very loudly claim as a natural disaster). It hit me at how poorly I was keeping my house when I was doing a Bible Study through A Virtuous Woman called "From Chaos to Calm". My disorderly household affected every part of my home. Since I was pretty much at a loss of what to clean (besides the basics: dishes, clothes, vacuum, etc), I did some research. One site I found that really, really opened my eyes to clean was JustMommies. They have cleaning calendars for each month and a focus room for each month (for example, this October 2011's focus is Kids' Bedrooms). This site and the Bible Study showed me things to clean I never even thought of! So I'm passing them on to you. Please, please check out the resources I will place on the bottom. They are truly great!

This week I will focus on the main rooms: kitchen, living room, and bathroom. Next week, I will discuss everything else. If you see something I didn't mention, please feel free to comment. I love learning new things!


  1. Kitchen Chairs: so this was one of the first chores I gave my 2-year-old to do. I mean, she put most of that mess there herself. It wasn't until a ladies' weekend, though, that I noticed that it didn't mean just a simple swipe, it meant scrub. My friend (hey McG!) walked around the dining room table about 5 times seriously cleaning those chairs. I could have sworn those things were clean, but she somehow made them shine! I realized that sometimes chairs need a little elbow grease. So, although Abigail will still do this chore once a week, I will need to go behind her later to scrub the pieces she didn't quite get. 
  2. Cabinets: same as the chairs, this is an easy chore for the little ones to do. Of course you clean the cabinets if you spill something and it gets all over the the doors, but what about the times where something drops on them, brushes up against them, or little fingers get curious? It builds up, and so does dust. And don't forget the tops of the cabinets. I seriously forget to do this and always end up having to use some major elbow grease to get months of build up dust (which gets sticky, by the way. EW!) 
  3. Items stored high on shelves: I needed a cake plate for a party, and fast! Where do I keep them? Displayed on top of my cabinets in my kitchen. Unfortunately, every time I pull one down, it is covered in sticky dust. So once every other week or so, pull them all down for a decent wash or scrub. 
  4. Dishwasher: this is a two-parter. Of course wipe down the front of your dishwasher. If you are anything like me, you tend to get stuff on there. Maybe that one dish with the brown liquid ends up splashing around the side to the front of your dishwasher. Just wipe those little icky things away. BUT you also need to clean the inside of the dishwasher too! Just like the inside of your shower gets build up and gross, so does the inside of your dishwasher. Once a month, take a moment to swipe the insides of your washer. Pay special attention to where dirt builds up and where the rubber seals are and the sides of the door. 
  5. Filters: Just as you need to change the air filters in your house, which the Just Mommies website reminds you to do (thank you!!!), you need to wash the filters that are on your range hood. When's the last time you did that? Huh? (When's the last time I've done that? ...ew) 
  6. Fridge: So not only do you need to occasionally wipe down the insides of your refridgerator and freezer, but you also need to make sure you clean the top of your fridge. I've stored my cereal on top of my fridge for a pretty long time, and occasionally it grosses me out to pull a box down to see a pile of dust come with it. A little cleaning once a month should help! 
  7. Faucets: So after you wash your dishes, I'm sure you do a swipe of the faucets, but do you really clean them? How about the backs of them? I tend to lay my scrub brush back there, and I'll tell you, if I don't do a daily swipe behind my faucets, it can get pretty icky. 
  8. Counter Appliances: the Just Mommies site reminds me to wipe down my coffee maker and toaster oven, but don't forget behind them as well! When we moved out of our last house, I was amazed at how much grime settles under and behind those kitchen appliances. Just a quick move and swipe should do with these. Just make sure you do it regularly. 
  9. Trash Cans: Wash those bad boys out! Yes, they get gross! Yes, you probably forget to wash them out just like I do, but seriously, do it. Drag your trash can outside or to the shower (after you empty it, of course!) and spray it down. You might have to get in there and scrub. Use a little bleach OR vinegar water. Do this once a month will keep it clean and keep it fresh smelling. 
Living Room
  1. Sofa and Chairs: Don't just clean them off, but clean their insides too! Once a month, take a vacuum cleaner to the insides of those chairs. And hey! You might find that remote you've been missing! 
  2. Baseboards: I was telling someone the other day that my boys actually fight over who gets to clean the baseboards. They really do. The appeal is that I let them use the attachments on the vacuum cleaner to do it. Anything that says VROOM and sucks things up is a score for little boys. When I was telling her that my boys clean the baseboards, she said that was something she didn't really ever think to do. I didn't either until it was brought to my attention. When I decided to take a day to really, really clean the kitchen one day, I scrubbed the baseboards. I was seriously amazed at the difference it really made to the room. NO ONE is going to notice your clean baseboards, but they may notice them if they are covered in dust and lined with dirt. 
  3. Blinds: Dust, dust, dust those things. That is on the list twice a week in my house. We have carpet, and carpet = dust. Blinds pick up everything. If you have cloth blinds, try to wash them once a month. 
  4. Rugs: Ever see old movies or tv shows where the woman has a rug hanging over her clothes line and she's beating it with a stick or broom? Yeah, that's because rugs seriously need to be cleaned. Not just vacuumed over, but picked up and cleaned all the way through. So take your rugs outside and beat your frustration out on them. After a sound beating, if you can wash your rugs, this would be a good thing to do once a month. 
  5. Air Filters: Don't just replace the air filters, but also clean off the vents and the area around the vents. I have vents that are high on the ceilings in my house. I noticed the other day how dusty the walls were around the vents. So I swept the walls. Much cleaner for sure! As for the vents themselves, use the attachments to your vacuum cleaner to suck up all that dust! 
  6. Ceiling Fans: There are a couple of ways you can clean these. I will be honest, when I was younger, my way of cleaning them was to turn the fan off, switch the direction of the fan's rotation, and then turn it on high. Dust would fling everywhere and it was gross. Don't do this. And I could really smack the old Jana in the back of the head for being such a blockhead. Again, use the attachments of the vacuum cleaner to reach up there and clean. You may, though, have to occasionally get up there with some soapy water and a rag. Make sure you get the tops of the blades as well. If you are anything like me, your fans stay on year-round, and you forget they need cleaning until the power goes out and your fan stops. Put it on your calendar to do once a month. 
  7. Vacuum Cleaner: so you use your vacuum cleaner to help clean your house, but do you ever take a second to look at all the attachments? After using the attachments to clean the baseboards, air filters, ceiling fans, and furniture, clean your brushes off. Some suggest soaking them in vinegar water for an hour and then drying completely before storing back on the vacuum cleaner. 
  1. Rugs: Those rugs look super nice and are pleasant to step onto when you get out of the shower, but if you have rugs in a room where humidity is a daily occurrence, and someone (especially boys) use the restroom at least once a day, you have a rug that is full of all kinds of nasty. Once a week (or once every other week), wash those rugs. Not only will they regain their bounce and fluffiness, but they will be cleaner for your clean feet when you get out of the shower. 
  2. Cabinets: like the kitchen, if you have cabinets in the bathroom or things on them, they need to be cleaned once a month. Dust them off, and if needed, take a wet rag to them.
  3. Faucets: I have boys. They are messy. No matter how many times I tell them to put the lids back on the toothpaste or to wipe up the soap they dropped all over the counter, it still gets messy. Twice a week, those boys clean the bathroom, and I have made behind the faucets a place I check for cleanliness. It really makes a difference! 
  4. Toilet Paper Holders: Those things get dusty! And the resource that mentioned this said she learned this from her days of working for a cleaning company. Duh! When I go to a hotel and notice the build up on the roll in the bathroom, I remember it. What about in your home when guests visit? Would they notice? (Excuse me while I go clean the holder in my bathroom. No one uses it but my hubs and me, but still. I keep forgetting to wipe it down!) 
  5. Toothbrush Holder: Yup. Stuff builds up. And then you put it in your mouth. Need I say more? 
  6. Trash Can: Again, I have boys. And they stink. And for some reason they make that bathroom trashcan reek! Think of all the gross things that get put into that trashcan. 
So if you are anything like me, you are now feeling pretty grossed out and have an intense desire to clean your shower... and then take one. While researching and typing all of this up, a disgusted sneer was on my face the entire time. I was mentally thinking of what I was slacking on and had to resist the urge to get up and start cleaning all of it (except the toilet paper holder because I seriously forget to clean that). My hopes, though, is that you put cleaning these things on a schedule. They don't have to be done every day or even every week, but if you remember to do these, you will feel cleaner in the end. 

Next week I will focus on the bedrooms, laundry room, and the outside spaces. 

And this is for ALL MOMS (working away from home and for those at home): 
Picture Credit: http://www.actingbalanced.com/2010_04_04_archive.html

Happy cleaning, everyone! 

  1. Apartment Therapy
  2. Home Ec 101
  3. Good Housekeeping
  4. Just Mommies
  5. A Virtuous Woman (there is a LOT of stuff about the house and home on this website. Check out the "At Home" tab for cleaning ideas and schedule. Also, sign up for the Bible Study "From Chaos to Calm". It will change your life. Seriously!) 
  6. Friends who gave me ideas and reminders: Jean Beasley, Carrie Keehn, Barbara Gonzalez, Debbie McGregor, and Jennifer Giugliano (although she doesn't realize she did) 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday's Food: Crockpot Fried Chicken

I did it. I sure did! I "fried" chicken drumsticks in the crockpot. I found this recipe after searching on Stephanie O'Dea's website, A Year of Slow Cooking, for something to do with drumsticks. We are low in the meat department of our freezer, and I'm not much for the bone-in-my-chicken meal, but it was on sale, and I bought it. After checking out Stephanie's site, I have learned to read the comments to see other suggestions. What I have found at Stephanie's website is the recipes are good, but not exactly healthy. So I try to reduce the fat and increase the healthy. I didn't do it with this dish. Now that I know how it tastes, though, in the future I am going to change it up just a bit.

Here's the original recipe.

And here is mine.

Crockpot Fried Chicken:

  • 5 thawed drumsticks
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted (this is what I'm changing next time. Not sure yet, but I'm changing it)
  • 1/4 cup flour (probably going to change this to wheat next time to see how it tastes)
  • 3 T seasoned salt
  • 1 T Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • Shake and bake that chicken. Dump all your ingredients, minus the butter, into a plastic bag, dump in your chicken, and SHAKE!! 
  • Place your seasoned chicken into the crockpot and pour the melted butter over the chicken. This is how the chicken is going to "fry" 
  • Cook on HIGH for 6 hours or LOW for 8-10
This came out yummy, yummy. I think it needed a little more seasoning. Stephanie suggested her recipe needed more, so I added more to mine, and I still think it could have used more. The meat fell off the bone, though, and even my non-eater ate the chicken. I served it with steamed collard greens, steamed sweet corn, and a biscuit. It was a great Sunday afternoon dinner that I served on a Monday. I will try this again, with the new adjustments. If I remember, I'll let you know how it turned out. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday's Devotion: Difficult Road Ahead

"But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:14

The light barely reflected off the slick road as I maneuvered the car around a curve. The road had just been repaved with that stuff that looks black and slick when it rains. I personally don't like that type of asphalt. It makes it hard to see the road clearly at night, and when it rains, it looks slippery and dangerous. As I was driving the boys to school this wet, Monday morning, the road played with my eyes. For some reason it looked like I was driving with my lights off. So, I turned them on and off real fast. Yup. They were on. I turned the high beams on for a second. They were most definitely on. I realized I was doing just fine driving and didn't need that extra light to see. The light was already there and was sufficient.


It hit me that is how my walk is with the Lord. Before school the Lord was speaking to my mother's heart (not my mom, but my heart as a mother). A situation with my children that I didn't handle correctly was settling heavy on my heart, and it was in my mind all morning on how I failed to teach my kids a certain concept correctly. My sinful thoughts, actions, and words from yesterday were coming full view in my brain, and I was spending much of the morning trying to get right with the Lord and with those my actions and words affected. So it was no wonder that God chose something as simple as a slick road to show me the Truth.

Just like the lights on car, the Lord is there and working. There are times when I feel that the roads of life I am driving are tricky, slick, and full of danger. There are times when we need reassurance that the Lord is there with us, and that there is really no need to worry. When I turned off my lights, I realized, instantly, how dangerous the roads were without even the slightest bit of light. When I turned the high beams on, I realized that the regular lights were sufficient, and I didn't need to have that bright light to maneuver. (Don't draw the parallel that I don't ever need God's clear, bright light to make it through this world. I'll get to the importance of a bright light in just a second). In those few seconds of playing with my car lights, God opened my eyes to His truth. I need the light. Without the light, I can easily get off the path that He has set me on. There are times when it seems like the light is not on, that God is not in the midst of my everyday actions. But He is. He is helping me on those dangerous curves and even on the straight and simple roads. What a great reminder that God is always there for me!

As for the bright lights, just as there are times when it is necessary for us to use the bright lights, there are times when we really, really need to see God's truth and presence. Those bright lights are there to help us see better when it's really dark, and we need to see the danger far ahead and off to the sides. How appropriate it is God shows himself bright and clearly when we are in major need of Him. As  in Matthew 7:14, the path to Him is narrow and many people miss it. Without his bright guidance, it can be easy to miss opportunities to see His Truth.

How do we see the road? Psalm 119:105 says, "[God's] word is a lamp to [our] feet and a light to [our] path." Daily conversations with the Lord, whether it is in prayer or meditation is how we can train our eyes to see the light God shines on the path before us. "We couldn't be more sure of what we saw and heard- God's glory, God's voice. The prophetic word was confirmed to us. You'll do well to keep focusing on it. It's the one light you have in a dark time as you wait for daybreak and the rising of the Morning Star in your hearts" 2 Peter 1:19.

Keeping our eyes, hearts, and minds focused on God's word is the only light we need to see our way to Truth. May the Lord open your eyes today and shine a light on the narrow road that leads to Life.

Picture credit: http://eugcho.wordpress.com/

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wednesday's cleaning: Using Everyday Items Around the House, Series Review

So this is my last post on "Using Everyday Items Around Your House to Clean". I wanted to do a little review and point out some of my favorite things I learned. This has really been a great experience for me. I found out all kinds of things and began applying new strategies and money-saving tips around the house. What was really cool was all the tips my friends and family shared. That's the great thing about communities. We are all in this together and we need to share ways to make getting through easier. :) 

So here's what I learned about each post. Please feel free to let me know what you learned or if there is an additional tip I did not mention.

Vinegar (Original post here)

  • Removing carpet stains
  • Making shiny surfaces shine brighter
  • Room deodorizer 

Citrus (Original post here
  • Insect repellent 
  • Fire starter
  • Furniture polish 
Salt (Original post here
  • Dusting
  • Ant repellent (let me tell you, I tried this on some big ant beds before I cut the lawn. I sprinkled it on 2 days before I cut the grass and they were not a problem AT ALL!)
  • Patching up holes in the walls
  • Removes coffee and tea stains
Dryer Sheets (Original post here
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Cleaning burnt on food (I tried this after one of my crockpot meals got a little crusty around the edges. It worked! Woohoo!) 
  • Keeping thread from tangling 
Baking Soda (Original post here
  • Use on camping gear
  • Remove odor and stains from tupperware
  • remove crayon from walls and kool-aid from counters
  • Put out grease fires
So that's it, my friends. I'm sure there are so many other nifty things around the house you can use to clean that will save you time and money. In my research, I found a TON (and I seriously mean a TON) of tips. If you missed a week or forgot, please go back to the original posts, check out what I placed on there, and also check out the websites I provided at the end. I only picked a few from each. You may find something you really can use! 

As for future cleaning series: I am going to start a mini-series (probably only 2-3 weeks) on "Things We Don't Think to Clean". Then I will begin a focus on each major room of the house. I look forward to hearing what you have to share! 

Happy Fall Cleaning! :) 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tuesday's Food: White Bean and Apple Chili

Ahhhh....cool weather. Here I am sitting in my jeans and long sleeve t-shirt in front of an open window, snacking on some ginger snaps, and kissing getting hot and sticky goodbye (for the next few months). This time of year is seriously my favorite. Not only is the the only time of year that I feel completely comfortable all the time, but it gives me excuses to use spices and cook soups that just seem out of place any other time of the year. So when a friend of mine (Hi Charity!!!) brought me a bag full of apples straight from her mama's apple trees in Pennsylvania, I knew I was going to have to try a few recipes to eat those apples right up. As I and my friend Tara (over at MommyTime) have been going through Stephanie O'Dea's Year of Slow Cooking recipes, I checked out her recipes that had apples in them. And let me tell you, she's got quite a bit. Warning, though, most of her recipes call for green apples, so if you use other types (like I did), it may not turn out like she is describing. I DID try her Applesauce, Apple Cheddar and Turkey Meatballs, Apple Crisp,  and Stuffed Baked Apples. I made slight adjustments to all of these to fit my family, so check them out and let me know what you think.

Today's feature recipe is White Bean and Apple Chili (Original recipe here).

And sorry, there are no pictures. This was eaten so quickly that there wasn't even a chance to snap a picture.

Ingredients: (Don't be intimidated by the amount that goes into this. It's really a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Prepare the spices together ahead of time and it should take no time at all the make this soup) 

  • 3 Cans of white beans
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 small apples, chopped (leave peel on) 
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 3 T butter
  • 2 tsp chili powder (use more if you like spice) 
  • 1/2 tsp ground thyme
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 4 cups broth (I used chicken, but vegetable is a good substitute....I wouldn't do beef) 
  • 1/2 cup low fat sour cream
  • Put butter in the bottom of the crockpot. 
  • dump in the rest of the ingredients, saving the sour cream for last
  • Cover and cook LOW 8 hours or HIGH 4-5 hours
  • Stir in cheddar cheese (and I did a dollop of sour cream) in your bowl and EAT! 
I served this with some Jiffy Cornbread muffins. My husband was seriously skeptical about this recipe. He was not excited about eating a soup that tasted like apples. But after eating one bowl, pretty quickly, he got seconds. This was amazingly good! It wasn't sweet and surprisingly filling. Two bowls was plenty. If you are looking for a good vegetarian meal or something pretty quick to put together, this is really a great recipe. It's not too heavy, but just perfect for these 60 degree weather days. It took me no time to put it in before church and was ready by the time we got home. Please, please try this one. And if you try it with a green apple, let me know how it tastes. I bet it's just as good! 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday's Devotion: Forgiveness

"...and that's exactly what my father in Heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn't forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy." Matthew 18:35 (The Message)

Forgiveness. It's a pretty easy word to say. It's pretty easy to talk about. And it's not a hard concept to teach your children. But when it comes to actually applying forgiveness (asking and giving), why is it that so many people just can't do it? Not too long ago I heard a guy on the radio talking about how there were two types of people: those who never say "I'm sorry" and those who apologize too much. We humans really have a problem with asking for forgiveness and admitting we are wrong and truly forgiving others. Yet, as Christians, forgiveness really is at the center of who we are. We are forgiven by God, and He expects us to pass that forgiveness on to others.

This seems to be a lesson that God really, really wanted me to hear not too long ago. Abigail's lesson for the week was on forgiveness and focused on Genesis 45: 1-24. This is about Joseph (you know, the favored kid whose dad made him a nifty colorful coat?) and his brothers (you know, the ones that sold Joseph to some gypsies and told their father Joseph was attacked and killed by a wild animal?). This section of scripture picks up years later when Joseph actually becomes one of the most powerful men in Egypt and he ends up in control of the fate of his brothers and the rest of the family. I love how the story talks about how he really struggled with forgiving them. He put them through some tests and made them sweat it out before he truly forgave them and then provided for them more than they could have ever expected. I love this because of how real that struggle is. It is hard for us to really admit that we are holding on to anger, seething in the desire of revenge, and we don't want to let that person forget they did us wrong. But if God can do that for us, then surely we can do that for others. Nehemiah 9 recounts how the people of God had to be constantly forgiven of putting others before God. And he does. Over and over again God forgives. In the Lord's prayer (Matthew 9-13), we are instructed to pray for forgiveness and then to, in turn, forgive those who have given us offense.

So this lesson really hit home a few days ago. As I was preparing for my Sunday School lesson for this past Sunday, God was seriously telling me to get on the ball and do some forgiving. Joe and I teach the class together, and we normally prepare together, sitting at the dinner table with our commentaries and Bibles, deciding what we are going to say, what scriptures we are going to reference, and how to make it applicable to teenagers. This past week, though, we were on opposite sides of the house, not talking to each other, and wallowing in anger from a fight we were having. We had spoken two words to each other all day and the tension was incredibly thick. As I was going over the parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18: 21-35), it hit me over and over again how I was being that unforgiving servant. Here I was writing tips on how to work out a disagreement with others and to show God's love and mercy to others while my husband and I weren't even talking. It made me sick. Literally sick to my stomach. I finally  had had enough and decided to talk it out, ask for forgiveness, and truly forgive my husband. Matthew 6:14-15 came up, "You can't get forgiveness from God, for instance, without forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God's part." Ouch. As we discussed these verses in Sunday School, someone made a great point. These verses aren't telling us you can lose your salvation; it's more saying, if we are Christians and are to be Christ-like, yet cannot forgive others, then are you really a Christian? Shouldn't forgiveness be overflowing from your heart? Shouldn't we be willing to get on the right page with everyone? Yes. The answer is yes. And that is a hard lesson, but one that is really the center of who we are as Christians.

So, here are my applications I passed on to the youth and felt I needed to write and post somewhere for me to see as a daily reminder:

  1. Forgive, TRULY, from the heart. (Don't let it linger, simmer, and be brought back up later.)
  2. Talk it out so there is no misunderstanding in the future. (Arguments are usually just a simple misunderstanding)
  3. Let God take control. (If you forgive and have asked for forgiveness, you have to let God do the work in their hearts as well. Some times those people aren't ready yet to forgive you. Don't let that be a reason to pull yourself away or fall back into the pit of anger. Let GOD do the work, especially since he's already done it in yours.) 

Yes. This will be a post I will have to go back to once a week to remind myself of how important forgiveness really is. 

Bless you all this week!