Thursday, March 29, 2012
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
It is a temptation to put this post in the “Laying Aside Weights” series, but since it really doesn’t have to do with the theme of that specifically, I suppose it will be better to let it stand alone.
The clutter in my fridge is not exactly a weight, although maybe some people would view it as such. It can be a nuisance, but mostly it’s wasted space. It’s cleaned out pretty well now, but the truth of the matter is that it will probably get bad again eventually. Coming from a long line of fridge packers…well, at least two generations…I don’t see myself bucking my genes on this one. ;-)
Not that I wouldn’t like to improve, and I actually think I have some. My mom, in her own right, has improved some to start with and I’ve tried to go a little farther. Neither of us have, nor desire, the “knack” my Gramma had of filling a fridge (and its freezer) with myriads of little plastic containers holding a tablespoon of this or that. I can’t speak so well for our freezers, though we do make the effort to control them from time to time. When you opened Gramma’s freezer it was a good idea to stand back. Just the act of opening the door was likely to dislodge something that was being held in by the mere presence of the door. Trying to extract something could even start a small avalanche. Mom’s freezer and my freezer are sometimes not much better. Sigh.
But, to get down to the point --
I decided it was high time to get the fridge cleared out of excess stuff. Though I do try to date my leftovers to keep them from getting too old, I still sometimes have something that gets missed in the shuffle. The bulk of my excess, however, is the result of opening too many jars of pickles, pushing untasty jams and sauces to the side because I can’t make myself pitch them, and saving “useful” things that are not as perishable as most foods – such as bacon grease. Ahem. (This is the down side of being a bit too paranoid about wastefulness, by the way. There are two sides to that coin.)
I found at least 4 containers containing some amount of bacon grease in the fridge (I think it was five, but I’m not sure). Yeah. That’s a lot of old dabs of bacon grease, considering how seldom I cook bacon from raw and thus have excess to put away. And, don’t ask me how many there are still in there because, though I discarded some, I added another one the other day.
You see, the very best corn bread recipe I have calls for bacon grease (no wonder it’s so good, right?), so I can’t bear to discard it thinking about that delicious corn bread. The thing is, though – I seldom, seldom make corn bread! (Hmm….this looks suspiciously like “weight” thinking to me. Something that does need to be laid aside!) Plus, green beans and eggs are so good fried in bacon grease….
Well, Friday morning is the day our garbage is collected, so Thursday is a good day to do a job like this. In an effort to acknowledge my limitations and not overdo, I made the decision to not clean the fridge at all, but only clear out the items that had no future. I also decided not to try to do the fridge and its freezer on the same day. (We also have a chest freezer, which needs to be defrosted, but it’s not quite so cluttered with useless things as the fridge freezer was – I think.)
If you are a “normal”, energetic, healthy, strong woman (I don’t know many, but there must be some), then you might think this is a bad plan and method and that it would be better to do the whole thing in “one fell swoop” as Gramma would’ve said (only not about the fridge). If you have a chronic health problem, are often overly busy, have kids, homeschool, have hormones or any number of other things that tend to make women tired and run down, I suspect you will see the point in this plan. :-) Anyway, it worked for me.
On the Thursday in question I cleared out the fridge, saving the cleaning for later (apparently much later). Here is what it looked like --
Note the bag of (smelly) garlic on the top shelf – some of it is now growing in my dad’s garden.
You can just see a gallon size jar of pickles behind the milk and orange juice. There were two jugs back there actually – one almost full of pickles that had the “lovely” flavor of vinegar, garlic and plastic. (Not a commonly accepted flavor of pickles, but the result of a company switching from glass to plastic jars.) There was also a glass gallon jar half full of kimchee. Now, I like kimchee, but I couldn’t eat this kind because it didn’t agree with my finicky stomach. My parents and I made the kimchee together, but it ended up in my fridge. Now it’s at my parents’ house.
Notice how you can actually see the light on the top shelf now. That is because the multiple layers of stuff have been reduced! Also, there’s a big, almost empty space on the second shelf. The parmesan cheese has been moved to an upright position on the bottom shelf. On the left of the bottom shelf is an unopened 2 lb. package of cheddar that expired in June or July – of last year. Yeah. Embarrassment, horror, disgust (at the waste), you name it. There were white specks all over it which I thought to be mold, but I decided to open it anyway. To my surprise and relief, it was still fine – NOT rotten! The specks were the salt coming out apparently. So we went ahead and ate it. ;-) (This was some weeks ago and we are still alive, so YES, it really was safe, oh doubters.) :-)
The door doesn’t look a lot improved because I moved some of the odds and ends jars that were crowding the inside to the spaces I opened up in the door.
I actually didn’t take the “after” picture till a couple of days, so there are a few other changes as well, but you get the idea. I think it’s actually even more empty now, and since I did this job in February, I seem to be keeping it better for at least awhile! Not that I think a fridge should be empty. When I have legitimate things to keep I’m fine with it, but the excess of things that were past usefulness was the problem. Also, having the fridge more empty is handy because I can store leftovers right in the pan I will reheat them in, which saves on dish washing! :-)
To my shame, I have to admit that I totally forgot the drawers till later! Ack. I’m not sure I would’ve wanted to “share” them with you anyway. ;-)
Ok, I can’t believe I could write that much about cleaning out the fridge! Looks like the freezer part should wait till another time. Too bad, the story about…..well, you’ll have wait and see. ;-) (We had “wait and see” a lot for dessert when I was a kid. I so disliked that answer!)
Monday, March 26, 2012
Last night we heard a good message on the subject of the crossing of the Red Sea in Exodus 14. I couldn’t help thinking of these two poems, which I love, and which have been a comfort and encouragement to me. May God bless them to you as well.
The Red Sea
by Martha Snell Nicholson
When the Children of Israel crossed the sea,
It comforts my heart to know
That there must have been timorous ones
Who faltered and feared to go;
Feared the ribbon of road which stretched
Ahead like a narrow track,
With the waves piled high on either side,
And nothing to hold them back
Nothing to hold them back but a Hand
They could neither see nor feel;
Their God seemed distant and far away,
And only the peril real.
Yet the fearful ones were as safe as the brave,
For the mercy of God is wide.
Craven, and fearless, He led them all
Dry shod to the other side.
And I think of the needless terror and pain
We bring, to our own Red Sea.
Strengthen Thy timorous ones, dear Lord,
And help us to trust in Thee!
Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
One thought that crossed my mind last night while our brother was preaching was how we sometimes make mud puddles into Red Seas. While life surely brings us the apparently impassible seas that require a miracle from our Lord to get us through, honestly there are times when it isn’t a Red Sea at all, but we imagine it is. I have a natural tendency toward this and I know at least some of you do as well. But, regardless of how big the “sea” really is, what a mercy it is from God that He is not limited by our timidity or lack of imagination!
Ephesians 3:20-21 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
A Red Sea Place
by Annie Johnson Flint
Have you come to the Red Sea place in your life,
Where in spite of all you can do,
There is no way out, there is no way back,
There is no other way but through?
Then wait on the Lord with a trust serene
Till the night of your fear is gone;
He will send the wind, He will heap the floods,
When He says to your soul "Go on."
And His hand will lead you through - clear through -
Ere the watery walls roll down,
No foe can reach you, no wave can touch,
No mightiest sea can drown;
The tossing billows may rear their crests,
Their foam at your feet may break,
But over their bed you shall walk dryshod
In the path that your Lord will make.
In the morning watch, ‘neath the lifted cloud,
You shall see but the Lord alone,
When He leads you on from the place of the sea,
To a land that you have not known;
And your fears shall pass as your foes have passed,
You shall no more be afraid;
You shall sing His praise in a better place,
A place that His hand has made.
Psalm 106:9 He rebuked the Red sea also, and it was dried up: so he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness.
Oh, how frightening it is to the flesh to be in a place where “There is no way out, there is no way back, There is no other way but through..” How we tend to chafe and struggle and doubt, even after we’ve seen the mighty power of God over and over as the Israelites had in the plagues of Egypt. Would to God our response could always be the response of Moses. Exodus 14:13-14 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.
It is so hard to stand still and hold our peace when we think we are about to be destroyed and God isn’t paying attention. Remember the disciples in the boat when Jesus was sleeping and the storm of wind came up? Luke 8:23-24 But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. These men had also witnessed the power of God to perform miracles, and yet they thought that their ship was going to sink and they were going to perish when the Son of God was with them! How silly! Yet, how like us. How like me!
What can we do?
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
1 Peter 1:13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
I invented this recipe for my dad’s birthday and he enjoyed it thoroughly. :-) It was a combination of one or two other recipes and my own ideas. It can be served with crackers and celery. I didn’t actually roll it into a ball because it was rather soft. If you wish to actually roll it into a ball, I suggest you chill it well first.
Curried Cheese Ball
14 oz. softened cream cheese
1/2 C. feta cheese crumbles
2 Tbl. butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp. curry powder (or to taste)
1/4 C. coconut cream concentrate
3 baby carrots, minced
1/3 C. dried cranberries
Scant 1/4 C. green onion tops, finely chopped
Garnishes – dried cranberries and celery leaves (or parsley)
Place cranberries in a small dish and add just enough orange juice to cover.
In a mixing bowl combine cream cheese, butter, feta, coconut cream and curry powder till creamed. Add carrots, green onions and cranberries with orange juice to the mixture and mix well. Scoop into a bowl and form a rounded top. Pat on chopped peanuts. Cover and refrigerate till ready to serve. Add garnishes if desired.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
It has been commonly thought that Patrick of Ireland was a Roman Catholic, and I suppose there are some who believe he was Irish. The facts are a little different than what many would think, however. He was neither Irish nor a Roman Catholic. He was a son of a deacon of the ancient church of Britain (never a part of the Roman Catholic Church), captured and enslaved among the Irish he managed to escape back to his own people only to be compelled by the leading of the Holy Ghost to return to Ireland as a missionary.
We also know that he was not a Roman Catholic from these simple, yet self-explanatory lines written by him:
I would not work my soul to save,
For that my Lord hath done;
But I would work like any slave
For love of God’s dear Son.
Patrick of Ireland
To learn more about the real Saint Patrick please read here:
Patrick of Ireland; His Written Testimony and Song
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Here is a simple soup you can make with leftovers from a pot roast – as long as you didn’t use the broth all up making gravy. ;-) My dad first made this for us without the meat and he called it Italian Fried Egg Soup. I think that he had it when they lived in Ethiopia. (In case that puzzles some of you, know that the Italians invaded and held Ethiopia for awhile during WW II. Some of the Italians liked it there so well that they stayed or returned. Some married into the culture. Some started restaurants. :-) Hence the location of origin.)
This recipe doesn’t have specific amounts here because I usually make it with leftovers. Even if you don’t have meat, you can make a meal that still has protein because of the fried egg. broth and cheese.
You will need:
1 fried egg per bowl
1 to 1/2 a piece of toast per bowl
1 thickish slice of cheese per bowl (about 1/8 – 1/4 inch)
Leftover beef and broth
Cut the meat into bite-size chunks. Heat the broth and the meat in a pan. You may add some oregano, basil and green onions if you like. This will add a more Italian flavor and add a bit of color. Adjust the seasoning to your taste.
Meanwhile, fry the eggs and toast the bread. You may butter the bread if you wish, but it will be soaked with the broth so it isn’t actually necessary. It would add a bit of flavor. Place a piece of toast in each bowl and top with a fried egg and a slice of cheese. (You may break the cheese in half if you wish and separate it slightly.)
Just before serving (or at the table), ladle the broth and meat over the toast-egg-cheese stack. Eat immediately. (You don’t want to do this ahead because it soaks in to the toast quickly and will become soggy. So, it’s nicer to eat it right away.)
With some salad or fruit you would have a complete meal. :-) It’s quite easy and fast when using leftover pot roast and broth. Hope you enjoy it!
Thursday, March 8, 2012
Sunday, March 4, 2012
It is the branch that bears the fruit that feels the knife;
To prune it for a larger growth, a fuller life;
Though every budding twig be lopped, and every grace
Of swaying tendril, springing leaf, be lost a space.
O thou, whose life of joy seems reft of beauty - shorn,
Whose aspirations lie in dust, all bruised and torn;
Rejoice! Though each desire, each dream, each hope of thine,
Shall fall and fade; it is the hand of Love Divine,
That holds the knife, that cuts and breaks with tenderest touch,
That thou, whose life has borne some fruit may'st now bear much!
- Annie Johnson Flint -
John 15:2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit...Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Saturday, March 3, 2012
(Yes, an old picture of me….and Butterscotch Teddyboo Bear.)
I was grumpy and frustrated today. I know. You’ve never been that way, right? ;-) The thing was this, I’d made a list earlier this week of things that I wanted to work on. Of all the items on that list, very little got done this week – in my opinion. I did do some, but woefully little and Saturday is not a good time to realize this. I also have been “meeting” unfinished projects lately all around the house, and even outside, that have been making me feel overwhelmed and under-accomplished! Added to all that, I’ve felt like I’ve lost my momentum on decluttering, organizing and getting rid of things. Argh! Frustration!
So, I was feeling sorry for myself this evening, when I “happened” to go read a blog post by Nony at A Slob Comes Clean. She posted a “February Decluttering Update”. I used the word “happened” in quotes because I don’t believe it was a random, accidental thing. You see, the Lord used that post to jar my thinking and get me to start focusing on what I DID get done in February instead of on what I didn’t get done lately.
In all honesty, last week was a heavy one for me. I did a lot – more than what is “normal” for me. I was exhausted by the end of the week. As some of you know, I have some limitations that I deal with which sometimes affect my ability to do things. I’ve been doing a lot better recently (Praise The LORD), but I still need to exercise wisdom in how much I do and commit to. Avoiding an overwhelmed feeling is important. So, I had said that I was going to take this week a bit easier. I just didn’t exactly expect it to be that much “easier”, if you know what I mean.
But, getting back the discouragement and how the Lord changed my perspective – As I began to think about the things I did do in February, the Lord made me realize that I’d actually done quite a lot (especially considering my limitations in the not so distant past!). Some of it is a bit foggy, as I’m not sure exactly when it was done, but it was recently any rate. :-) Some of it definitely was not what I expected to do this last month, either. (What, you never had that happen before?) ;-)
Admittedly not all the things I’ll list here relate to decluttering, but for me tonight the important thing was to lay aside the cluttered thinking that I was a failure and couldn’t get anything done! (Boy, can that one be discouraging and crippling!) Yes, we are to remember we are “unprofitable servants”, but I don’t think in the non-spiritual realm that it’s wrong to take stock of things once in a while. Luke 17:10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.
Personally I see this more in the category of lifting up the hands that hang down and strengthening the feeble knees (Heb. 12:12, Is. 35:3), because I know that if I was teetering on the edge of despair about accomplishing goals and improving things around here, then there are others out there who were too – even today. And, I want to remind you, as well as myself, that this can be a real weight that will drag us down from running the race with patience (Heb. 12:1)! (Ouch. Ok, let’s not talk about patience right now. Ahem.)
So….a few things that come to mind which I accomplished, by God’s grace, and that He used to encourage me and help me take heart:
- Improved my craft desk by reducing the pile on it. It is in the dining room, so this is important (Read: highly visible to guests)
- Cut out three jumpers with my sister-in-law. (That’s pinafores in British English.)
- Sewed a new cover on an old hot pad. (Something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile.) And, finished a new one I’d started months ago.
- Sewed a cute ribbon on one of my kitchen towels. (Another something that’s been waiting awhile.)
- Hung a vinyl tablecloth with the fuzzy side out in the spare room so I now have my own “quilting wall”. (Yeah!) Also, cleaned up a little in there.
- Bought a lot of new shirts and discarded old ones. (I developed an annoying rash under my arms and cotton shirts helped it improve – which meant a pretty big wardrobe change. This was not easy. Finding tops that are mostly or all cotton is harder than I expected, and also I tend to hate change! I’d had some of those old shirts for years and it was actually kind of stressful to let go of some of them! At the same time, it felt good to wear some different, new things too.) :-)
- Got my “donate pile” delivered to the thrift store.
- Cleared out the fridge of old and useless things. (More later on that.)
- Survived a whole week without a water heater! (Very thankful to have family living so close who happily shared their shower!)
- Read Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. (Ok, so this is more recreation than anything, but it was something I’d wanted to do and just never got to it. It was an easier read than I expected and heaps better than the BBC dramatization of it!)
- Wrote some blog posts and worked on my potential book publishing project (though that last proved a real challenge and more discouraging than encouraging. I like making web pages and blogging much better than compiling books. Sigh.)
Even today I cut my husband’s hair and (finally) managed to make some good fudge brownies (gooey/chewy with a “crust”) from scratch for the first time. Neither of these where on my written list.
So, for whatever it’s worth, I feel a lot better about life in general.
All this reminds me of something I have done before to help myself see what I’ve actually done. This is that when I do something that was not on my “To Do List” I add it to the list and then cross it off. If this sounds crazy, I’d just like to say that I know at least one other person who admitted to me that she does the same thing. If there are two of us, I know there are more. ;-) And, after all, it isn’t such a bad idea. There are so many things that we do in the course of our days that aren’t on our lists – written or mental. It’s easy to forget them when we focus on what we didn’t get done! Then we feel discouraged and frustrated, not realizing that it wasn’t as bad as we think it was. It’s important to try to remember those things when we start feeling like it isn’t worth it to try because “nothing ever gets done” or “goes the way I planned”. I suspect it would have helped me to have done this lately.
Of course, it could have been better too. I admit that I wasted time this past week that I could have used more profitably. That’s a matter for confession to the Lord (1 John 1:9). But, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was either. We do make stumbling blocks out of pebbles sometimes, don’t we?
Nevertheless, the greatest thing was the comfort and help it was to me to have the Lord step in as a good Friend should and does, to encourage me and remind me tonight that it’s not all as hopeless and useless as I felt. (How we feel about it and what the facts tell us are sometimes so very different, and it’s so good to be reminded of that!) What a humbling blessing to realize that He was aware and conscious of my struggle and wanted to bare it with me! Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
As the hymn writer, Joseph Scriven so aptly put it so long ago:
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer…
And you know….I also realize another thing. Sometimes we just need to lay the burdens down. I’ve been carrying things (goals and expectations) around that were perhaps unrealistic, but certainly too demanding. I was serving them instead of making them serve me. Ultimately, it’s about serving the Lord but, in using this world’s things, it’s important to remember not to abuse it, but also not to let it abuse us. 1 Corinthians 7:31 And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away. In striving to improve our houses and make more order in our physical surroundings, we need to still remember that all this shall pass away. 2 Peter 3:10-11 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness…
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Apple Dumplings, by George Leslie Dunlop
It’s been awhile since I did a link post, so here is one for you today. These relate to making your house a more pleasant place, but don’t deal exclusively with the kitchen. As always, I put a disclaimer on my links.
New Uses for Mismatched Dishes – What to do with some of the odd cooking and dining items that don’t match or don’t work in your kitchen?
Old Ladder = Kitchen Shelving Solution – If you have room for more shelving, but don’t want to spend the money on new cabinets, here’s a solution that might just tide you over till you can find something else. Maybe you’ll like it so well you’ll just go with it. Now to find an old wooden ladder…
14 Living and Dining Room Makeovers – Makeovers interest me, though sometimes I honestly think that the “before” picture is better than the “after” when the designer happens to have wild tastes. (Seriously, who would paint a bedroom vivid, excitable orange? People are supposed to rest there.) These particular re-dos I found to be pretty much improvements and there are some good pointers about painting colors on the walls and/or furniture to make a room look more spacious or friendly. Paint can be an easy fix, especially if you have friends that enjoy painting and are willing to help. (Trade help if you need to.)
From OK to Great with A Little Paint (and other changes) Before and After – Here is a kitchen makeover that shows pretty drastically what some paint and a few changes can do for a kitchen without re-doing the whole thing! I’m all for simple changes that make a big improvement. As the Mexicans say, “Cheap, pretty and good”. That’s the way to go. :-) This is quite inspiring to me as I have a very brown kitchen, thanks to the cupboards and paneling.
By the way, you may be able to dress up your dishwasher without ordering an expensive new front for it. You might consider getting a large decorative magnet to cover the front. (Test the front of your dishwasher with a magnet first to make sure it will hold one.) This catalog store carries an assortment of magnetic dishwasher covers at reasonable prices (compared to others I found). I have ordered two from them – one for myself and one for my sister-in-law. We were both pleased with the results. Do be sure to measure you dishwasher first, though, so you order the right size. My husband did have to trim about a 1/4” off of the one I got so that it would fit my dishwasher without being “scraped” off whenever I opened it. If your dishwasher is slightly too small, try ordering one that does not have an edge border so that it can be trimmed without distorting the picture.
Another aspect of these home decorating ideas that I find challenging to think about is to use things that I already have to make our house more pleasant. In the decluttering process that I’ve been working on, I not only want to get rid of useless and excess things, I’d also like to find things that are not being put to good use and use them to improve our rooms. I have already worked on this some. This would be a good focus for a future post perhaps. :-)