Monday, April 14, 2014

I just might...











I Just Might...
by Sarah Bricker


In the long day’s busy rush,
In time’s ever ongoing crush,
There is so much I do not see,
Though it sits there smiling up at me.

But if I from work a moment took,
To stop and wait, to simply look,
To notice the beauty within my sight,
Could I find it? I just might…

Might notice trees from sleep awaking,
Running stream the silence breaking.
Might see geese returning from a winter’s flight,
Watch sparrows eat in early morning light.

Might find muskrat munching on the shore,
Find ducks a-dablin’, searching more.
Might find green just poking through,
Sun bathing all in gentle hue.

Might spy the flight of feathered wing,
Hear how the birds in glory sing.
Might watch sun sink golden in the sky,
Catch moon a silver sliver rising high.

Might see faithful friend beside you all the way,
Face of lover smiling back at break of day.

Might find God’s glory everywhere,
If I just pause to see it there.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Parmesan Asparagus

This is our favorite asparagus recipe!  Ok, so it might be our only asparagus recipe, but it's good enough that I don't feel compelled to find another one :)  

Despite the fact that we ate a lot of vegetables growing up neither David nor I remember eating a lot of asparagus.  A few years ago I stayed with the school aged children of a friend for a couple days and she left me a bundle of asparagus to have with dinner.  I had to consult the internet because I had no idea what to do with it!



Thankfully, sometime after that my Aunt shared this recipe with me and we have made it numerous times.  We've actually decided that we like asparagus.  So if you're on the fence about eating asparagus or just want a simple and delicious way to cook it, give this recipe a try.  I can't guarantee it will change your mind... but it just might...


Parmesan Asparagus

from Auntie M

Ingredients
Asparagus, rinsed
Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil

Directions
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Place asparagus spears (you can leave them whole or cut into smaller lengths if you prefer) on parchment paper and drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees until tender.  Baking time will vary depending on if you have very thick or thin asparagus (approximately 10-20 minutes).


Simple meal idea - If you're looking for some help with your menu planning, try this combo-
Baked tilapia  (breaded with a Kraft Fresh Take mix if you want something easy)
Brown or wild rice
Parmesan asparagus



Monday, March 31, 2014

Simple DIY Laundry Soap

When we got married someone gave us laundry detergent as a gift.  This, combined with the laundry detergent that we each had to begin with lasted us a long time.  However, this eventually ran out and we had to go to the store for more....and then the real shocker came.  Laundry detergent is so expensive!  I probably complained about this at the time, but bought it anyway because we needed to do laundry. 


Since we try to stick to a budget for groceries and household items buying something that expensive is a little painful.  Thankfully Pinterest came to the rescue and I found this home made laundry soap from yellowbrickhome.com!  Not only is it very affordable it is also really easy to make.  We have been using this recipe for months now and I haven't had any issues with it.  I can also see how this would be easy to transport for trips or camping, since it's not a liquid, I think you could even take it on a plane if need be.



The hardest part of this is shredding up a bar of fels-naptha soap, which took me less than 15 minutes.  For me this is worth it because the ingredients cost less than $10 and you have enough of them to last through numerous batches of laundry soap.  It's easy, it's affordable, and it's working for us.  Also, I have used this as a shower gift before too - how simple to just put some in a jar and tie with a cute ribbon?!






Simple DIY Laundry Soap

from www.yellowbrickhome.com 


Ingredients - 
1 Fels Naptha bar soap
1 cup of Borax
1 cup of washing soda (like Arm & Hammer)



Directions - 
Grate the bar of Fels Naptha (you may notice in the above picture that I did this over a plastic grocery bag - it was easy to mix in that and then pour it into the jar without dirtying multiple dishes).  Add the Borax and washing soda and pour into a container of your choice.
Place about a tablespoon of this in with your laundry and you're good to go!


Monday, March 24, 2014

Crockpot Kielbasa Potato Soup

Soup sounds so good in the winter time and, while we are hoping that winter will be gone soon, I wanted to share this recipe before it is.  When I made it my husband said "we should have this again... this winter!".  Putting everything in the crockpot makes it an easy meal that is still hearty. 

 

The recipe calls for milk and cheese to be put in at the end.  I was working on something just before lunch and asked David to add these to the soup for me while I finished what I was doing.  Later, when I went into the kitchen, I saw the bag of cheese sitting on the counter and, thinking that he must not have put it in yet I dumped in what I thought would be about right (there I go again not measuring...).  Turns out he had put the cheese in already... communication breakdown but doubly cheesy and really delicious soup!



Crockpot Kielbasa Potato Soup

Adapted slightly from thekitchenismyplayground.com

Ingredients
13 oz. fully cooked kielbasa
1 medium onion, diced
6 or more yellow potatoes, cubed (I left the peels on)
2 cups frozen corn 
1 -2 stalks celery, sliced
1 medium carrot, chopped
2 cups chicken or turkey broth
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 c. milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or more! :) )


  • 1 (13 oz.) fully cooked kielbasa

  • 1 medium onion, diced

  • 6 medium yellow potatoes, peeled and cubed

  • 2 c. frozen corn kernels, thawed

  • 1 stalk celery, sliced

  • 1 medium carrot, chopped

  • 2 c. chicken broth

  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

  • 1 1/2 c. milk

  • 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese


  • Read more at http://www.thekitchenismyplayground.com/2014/01/kielbasa-potato-soup.html#OmpQMtTgZYtqj3qI.99
    Instructions
    Place all ingredients except for milk and cheese in crockpot.  Turn on and cook on high 3-4 hours or on low 6-8 hours, until vegetables are tender.  A few minutes before serving add remaining ingredients and let them warm up.  The leftovers of this soup also re-heat great so it works well for taking in lunches or saving for later in the fridge/freezer.

    I hope you get a chance to enjoy this before the weather warms up!




    Monday, March 10, 2014

    Garden Update - March 2014



    The weather prediction says it might be 32 degrees tomorrow.  With this exciting news I am willing for the snow to melt in that beautiful sunshine I can see out our window.  As I hope for spring to come I thought I would share an update on the wonderful things happening in the “garden”.


    Worm composting

    The worms are doing great!  They seem to be perfectly content in their bucket system.  I am glad to find that my reading was reliable and that they don’t have a bad smell at all (especially since they are sitting in a corner of our dining room at the moment).  The only problem so far is that we are making such a large amount of compost that the worms can’t keep up.  The bucket was just about full of compost so we are letting it be until the worms can catch up again.  I peeked in there the other day and saw that the contents are in fact getting broken down.


    Also, D made this compost sifter for me!  This will be great for separating the castings from any larger chunks or worms (which will go right back into the bucket).

    Inside

    Our slider door has been turned into a temporary green house space since Christmas.  It has been wonderful to have growing things there this year and has probably helped me to be less depressed.  



    In the fish pond our little feeder fish have survived and are getting bigger.  We also got two fantail goldfish and put some fake greens in the bottom to make it more interesting for them.

    Outside

    Despite the chilly temps it is currently 60 degrees in our greenhouse, lit by the midday sun.  This week I hope to bundle up and poke around in there.  Depending on what the dirt is like I may plant some spinach and lettuce and see how it does.




    Also, while getting our “winter therapy” at a local garden store we found these cool morning glories called Picotee Blue.  I can’t wait until it finally gets warm enough to plant them since our morning glories were truly the glory of the garden last year.

    Book shelf

    I have been looking through a book called the Backyard Homestead.
    While I don’t think we’ll be keeping a dairy cow or a chicken coop on our apartment patio anytime soon it does have some interesting info about fruits, veggies, and making your own cheese.

    Enjoy the sunshine!

    Monday, March 3, 2014

    Trusting 102


    Do you ever find yourself having a déjà vu moment?  Saying I thought haven’t I been here before?  I already learned this lesson?!

    I have been having some of those moments lately.  Our pastor sometimes uses the illustration that each of us is taking a different class in the program of sanctification.  One person maybe be in the midst of a class on joy, another grace, another perserverence, etc. We may each be at different places because we are learning in different classes. 
    This week I sighed a heavy sigh when I found myself again in the class of Trusting.  I lamented to my husband Does this mean I flunked out the first time?  I didn’t learn it well enough so I have to take it again?
     It could be true. 
    But we decided that might have been Trusting 101…and this is Trusting 102.  Like Lewis said…"if you do one good deed your reward usually is to be set to do another and harder and better one” (The Horse and His Boy)… and this is not something that we usually like to hear!

    Being single was hard.  While it has some wonderful opportunities it also has some things I really didn’t care for.  As my friends began to get married and I found myself without any “possibilities” I started saying if only I was married. Then…..  [insert whatever I was bummed about at the time].  The problem with this is that when you think this way, attaining that thing will not make you happy.  Living each day with an If Only mentality only teaches you a habit of discontentment.  When you attain the thing you will only find something else to be discontent about.
    If only I was married… if only I had kids… if only I wasn’t married… if only the kids were in school… if only the kids were out of school, home more, if only it was winter, summer, etc.
    So I decided to learn to love where I was, to “be content with such things as you have, for God has said never will I leave you, never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).  And I found the words of Minot J. Savage to be true who said “Go not abroad for happiness.  For see it is a flower that blooms at thy door” (Quoted in Home Warming).  Joy was right under my nose, if only I had eyes to see it!

    I saw it, and it was beautiful.

    So I thought I was done with the If Onlys… but they snuck up on me again when I wasn’t looking!
    It is so easy to compare.  Yet comparing kills joy.  I get stuck looking at all the gifts He gave someone else and wishing I had them or wondering why He didn’t give them to me.  But when I do this I miss out on all the unique gifts and joys He has given to me.  I fail to trust that He is a loving father who knows what I need, has my best interests in mind, and wants to glorify Himself through me.  That He “longs to be gracious to you” (Isaiah 30:18).  How can I forget a God like this?  But I do.



    So I will go back... go back to the class of trusting.  Go back to counting gifts and blessings.  Go back to searching for Him here and now.  Go back to find Him who "fills everything in every way" (Ephesians 1:23).  
    Open my eyes to see the joy He has planted on my doorstep :)