Thursday, September 26, 2013

Weakness is the Key

     My church has started a ladies bible study on Wednesday nights using the book and video "Gideon" by Priscilla Shirer. I've already been so challenged by this study! 
     Each day there is a section to complete in the workbook. I'm going at my own pace now since I'm working on the kids christmas play on Wednesday nights and won't be watching the video with the ladies. 
     Today's devotion section was about weakness. Weakness is the key to strength. Huh???? Our weakness is the key to something God wants to open in our lives! It's all about our focus. If we focus on our weakness then we will remain unused. However, if we focus on God, He will unleash our weakness and turn it into strength. 
     In a church setting, especially in a time of tight finances and a poor economy, it's easy to focus on the lack of funds to do ministries or activities for the church people or for the community. That is focusing on a weakness. We should be focusing on Christ and the fact that He is with us! He is for us! He is more than enough. He has unlimited resources that He's waiting to let us use if we quit focusing on ourselves and our "weaknesses"! 
     In a personal setting, God is bigger than any challenge we can't overcome on our own. He's bigger than the financial strain. He's greater than the problems in your marriage that have so consumed you, you feel you have no choice but to give up. He's bigger than that health issue that has blindsided you. Stop focusing on your weakness. Focus on God! We weren't made to handle it all on our own. We were made to trust Him, honor Him, glorify Him through challenges and through our weakness. 
     When David saw Goliath, he knew he was a giant! But he was not focusing on his weakness as a smaller man like the rest of the Israelite army. David was focused on standing up for what was right. Standing up for his God, and God used David and his weakness to unleash strength enough to kill a giant! 
     I'm so challenged by this to put my focus on God especially in situations when I feel, in my weakness, that I can not overcome or accomplish something. God's strength is always enough. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Secret Ingredient- Pizza Crust

     My husband LOVES pizza! So, I make it quite often. It's cheap and it's yummy! I've tried MANY pizza crust recipes, and over the course of a couple years, I developed my own recipe! It's tried and true, husband approved!
     The secret ingredient to this pizza crust is basil. Fresh basil! I suppose you could use dried, which sadly I'll have to switch to in a couple months. But, if you have it, fresh basil is the way to go with this recipe! Also, you can use more or less depending on how..."basil-y" you want the crust to be. We love basil, so I use about 1 tablespoon of chopped, fresh basil. Ok, so. Here's my secret ingredient pizza crust recipe!!!

1 1/2 c. warm water
2 1/4 tsp. yeast
1 tsp. brown sugar (or white, whatever you have)
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbs. chopped, fresh basil
4 c. flour
     Pour warm water into kitchen mixer. Add yeast and sugar. Let stand for 10 min. Stir in salt, olive oil, garlic powder, and basil. Mix in 3 c. flour. Knead dough and add the rest of the flour. Add more flour, if needed, until dough is no longer sticky. Cover dough with a cloth, and let rest in a warm place for an hour. Punch dough down. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Press pizza dough into well-oiled pan and top pizza as desired. Bake for about 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Makes one giant pizza, or two medium sized pizzas.

     I usually top my pizza with some tomato sauce, then sliced mushrooms, turkey pepperoni, fresh basil, mozzarella cheese, and feta cheese. YUM!!! I sometimes add thinly sliced tomatoes to the pizza too. Really, you can't mess it up! Add whatever you want! Except anchovies. yuck. Happy Pizza-making!!!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Homemade baby food

      This isn't anything really exciting, unless you're into saving money, and you have a kid who is eating like crazy!!! :-) Before Chloe was born, I knew that I wanted to make as much of her food as I could. I could control the quality of the food and save money that way! Part of making sure I was saving money by making her food was to make sure I am smart when I grocery shop. I look for the deals and when one pops up, I stock up.
     A couple weeks ago Kroger was having a sale on carrots. HURRAY! Perfect to make baby food! I got a 2 lb. bag of whole carrots for 79 cents!!! Not only is that a great deal to begin with, it was going to be even bigger savings once I made it into baby food, so I pretty much did a happy dance in the store. Don't judge. I love a good deal. 

     I peeled and chunked the entire 2 lb. bag of carrots and put them into a saucepan with just a little water. Now, some may disagree with me, but I do not put a ton of water in with the veggies when I cook them down. I wanted to keep as many of the nutrients as possible, and if I added a ton of extra water, the nutrients would just go down the drain when I strained out the excess water. So, I add a little water and just keep an eye on it to make sure there is enough water throughout the cooking process. Turn on the burner to medium low, and simmer away for about 30-45 minutes. The carrots will then be tender and ready for mashing!

     If you have a food processor or blender, you could totally use that to chop up the carrots, but I prefer to use a potato masher. SO mash, mash, mash away and now you have baby food! This batch made at least 4 meals for Chloe. For under 20 cents per serving, that's an awesome price compared to about $1 for the same amount of baby food bought from a store! And there's no nasty preservatives in this baby food!  Happy Mashing!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Photo Shop Fail

     I'm literally laughing while writing this. I can't believe that I'm putting this up for the public to see. oh well. So, Daniel got me a Groupon to take an online course in PhotoShop for my birthday! I've really been looking forward to starting the class, so I registered and everything this last weekend and worked on the first assignment today. Let's just say that my PhotoShop skills are definitely lacking, and I really, REALLY need this class.  :-)
     So, here, for your viewing pleasure, is the first assignment I've "completed" or more accurately. Butchered. :-) It's actually kinda sad how long it took me to make this. Don't laugh too hard at my Photoshop "skills" please!

Friday, September 13, 2013

This is happening too fast!!!

    I want to tell my daughter to slow down!! Last night she stood without holding on to anything, she's been cruising around furniture for over a week now, and she's now said "mama" and "dada". 
     It's going too fast! I see her growing up a little more everyday, and while I'm so excited for her little accomplishments, part of me wants to cry because I know that all too soon she'll be running around our apartment. Then she'll be writing her name, going to school, and riding a bike! 
      I know I'm being dramatic about this but seriously. Is there any way to make it slow down?! I'm not ready for my baby girl to grow up! I want her to stay small so I can cuddle with her in the early morning hours, rock her to sleep, make her laugh by playing pattycake, read her Harold and the purple crayon, sing hushabye baby and Jesus loves me, and dig paper bits out of her mouth! 
     Don't get me wrong, I LOVE watching her discover and figure out new things! She loves the sound of paper being crinkled. She is enthralled with music. She loves to "dance". She's friendly and loves to meet new people. She is such a blessing from God! I'm so happy to be her mama!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pretty DIY storage box for under $1

     I've had an unsightly mess on our tv stand since I wanted a pretty storage solution that wouldn't cost a ton! I didn't even take a picture of the mess before because it's embarrassing. Just imagine a white plastic basket overflowing with cords and batteries, and miscellaneous electronic crap stuff that my husband says to keep. :-) Anyways, so we go through ALOT of tea, and this empty box was saved from the trash because it seemed like it would be the perfect shape and size for a storage box to contain all those cords and such. (We really love this tea by the way)

      I cut off the top flaps of the box and then measured out some contact paper (from Dollar Tree) I had leftover from lining our kitchen drawers.  Lay down the paper, then peel the backing off part of one edge. Center whatever side of the box you're "wrapping" first and smooth down on the contact paper. You can remove and recenter and smooth air bubbles out pretty easily since contact paper is really forgiving. I had to take it off and start over a couple times until I got it on there without any wrinkles. Peel the backing off and then continue to apply the contact paper to the box kind of as if you're wrapping a Christmas present. 
      Tada! There it is all covered! I still ended up with a few wrinkles, but for a basically free storage box, I'm ok with that! This seriously cost, MAYBE 25 cents and took about 5 minutes to finish. And, it looks 10,000 times better than the old plastic basket!!!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Week of Firsts

     I didn't plan this, but this week ended up being filled with lots of "firsts".  For awhile I'd been thinking of trying my hand at making rings. So, this week I made metal wire rings for the first time. I had so much fun! Although, they were pretty rough, I think they turned out pretty cute for the first ones I'd ever made! 
     The second "first" was playing the violin. OK, not playing it for the first time ever, but playing it for the first time since baby was born. It felt so good to tune that beautiful instrument, and play around. It also provided Chloe with the first time she'd ever heard the violin! I'm pleased to say she stared in awe for awhile then decided to "sing" along with the music! 
     Yesterday we went to our first Messianic Shabbat service. It was also a Rosh Hashana celebration, which is the Jewish New Year. It was an amazing experience! I can't wait to go to another one! The music was wonderful, lively, and powerful! Worshipping God with over a thousand people in one place was humbling and encouraging! Baby LOVED the music! She danced and waved her arms! I love that she's as moved by music as we are.
     Another "first" was making blueberry-plum jam. It was supposed to be just blueberry jam, which would have also been a first, but I didn't quite have enough fruit so I added a few plums. The results? Delicious! Sometimes experiments like that can have horrible results, but it's really rewarding when it turns out! Usually my experiments turn out. I'm awesome like that! :-)
     The last first was definitely the best! Chloe has been "talking" and saying "ba ba ba" this whole week. But tonight she said "mama"! I can't describe the feeling that gave me! It definitely warmed my heart, and made me giggle because Daddy was a little jealous! :-) I doubt she actually knew what she was saying, but let's just go ahead and mark down in the books that she said "mama" before she said "dada".  I love trying new things, and this week of firsts has held some of my favorites! What are some of your favorite firsts? What's something you would like to make a "first"?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Kansas Pride

     I've long been intrigued with the notion that the love of land could be hereditary. The farming lifestyle has been apart of my family's history for centuries. My maternal grandparents lived in northern Kansas and were farmers there. I love that land. I love where they lived and worked to make a home for their family. I love to see the land. I want to be there when I'm away.
      Is it just an emotional thing? Or is it born in me to love the land where my grandparents and great-grandparents lived? Is it all psychological or is it part of my physical makeup to love and care for the land because that is where my family lives? I don't know if there's an answer. But I do know that I feel more at ease in my state. I love feeling the Kansas wind on my face. I love seeing the fields and smelling fresh cut hay. The sky is the prettiest in Kansas. I know it is. Whether it is psychological or born within me. My heart belongs to Kansas.