Archive for May, 2009

May 29, 2009

Frugal Friday: Granola

A little knowledge CAN be a dangerous thing. And once given a smidgeon of knowledge, you are forced to make a decision. There is no turning back. Hence, the danger.

51210RGXETL._SS500_In my case, the little bit of knowledge has to do with cereal manufacturing. My parents are organic-certified producers and attend conferences on a wide variety of related topics. They introduced me to Sally Fallon‘s book, Nourishing Traditions. Her book offers a wealth of knowledge regarding nutrition, healthy eating habits and nurturing foods. She explains in her book that dry cereals are produced by extrusion. Grains are made into a slurry, poured into a machine called an extruder, and then forced out of a hole at high pressure and temperature. The shape of the whole dictates the shape of the cereal. If that isn’t enough, the shapes are slice, sprayed with a coat of oil and a coat of sugar. The extrusion process all but destroys any naturally occurring nutrients, fatty acids (these are GOOD), and even the chemical nutrients that fortify the cereal. During this process, amino acids become toxic. 

Faced with this wee bit of information, I have been forced to make a decision: no going back to manufactured cereal ignorant bliss!

So now this is how I shop: When I reach the dreaded cereal aisle, I pick up the pace (My little boys in the cart resemble test pilots going Mock 1). I zoom past all the colorful cartoon and beautifully styled food pictures to grab my precious jar of wheat germ and containers of oatmeal (and Irish steel-cut oats).  Quickly, I round the corner before they can even finish their sentences, “Mommy, can we get…” Actually, the boys have for the most part ceased to ask for cereal. Every-so-often, I will fall off the bandwagon and grab a box of whole grain goodness. Not being able to help myself, I read the list of ingredients. “Oh, that’s right, BHT…” (another one of those little bit of knowledge deals) and 95% of the time it goes right back on the shelf (The other 5% usually involves the need for Rice Crispy Bars).

acp_00_11So, we make do with instant oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, fraffles/wench toast, French toast, coffee cake, scones, home-made cinnamon bread, eggs, toast, porridge and the like. Years ago, my mother faced with many of the same breakfast challenges (four daughters rather than four sons) would make us home-made granola from the More With Less Cookbook (a must have for any frugal fanny with a health-food bend!). It was simply delicious! Armed with that memory, I have determined to find the perfect granola recipe and create my own convenience breakfast.

Granola is also a frugal response to expensive and nutritionally-challenged boxed cereal. It meets my frugal standards of being highly nutritious, tasty, nurturing and cost effective!

Happy Frugal Friday!

Wise men store up knowledge. Proverbs 10:14a

read more »

Advertisements
May 25, 2009

It Takes Faith to Garden!

FMOBeansBushBlueLkFIt takes faith to garden. Seeds are collected. The long winter provides ample time for sketching and plotting the garden. Spring finally arrives so hoe in hand the garden is cleared and tilled. The work is hard, but pleasant and invigorating. The frost is finally gone and the weather is nearly perfect. Taking advantage of the opportunity, the garden plan is produced. Holes are dug. Seeds are planted, covered, and lovingly watered. Rows are marked and prayers go up for an abundant harvest. And then, the wait.

It takes faith to garden.

FMOBeetTallTopFDuring the wait, the questions come: Are the seeds deep enough? Are the seeds too deep? Will the abundant spring rains wash all the seeds away? Will the sparse spring showers damage this crop? Will those pesky chickens get into the garden again and eat all the seed? Were the seed bags correctly marked or will runners grow instead of bushes? WHEN WILL THE GARDEN GROW?

It takes faith to garden.

Parenting is form of gardening. As a mother, I try to daily plant seeds of love and wisdom found only in God’sFMOEggplantEarlyLongPurpleF word. I water with many, many prayers (and oftentimes my own tears).  I attempt to weed out bad habits and nip foolish tendencies in the bud while covering my sons with kisses and hugs and “I love you.” I must take it all in faith that my daily tending is going to produce a bountiful and beautiful harvest. Children’s gardens have a looooooong germination time, and we’re given many precious years to nurture and tend these gardens. We will not see the mature fruit for decades.

It takes faith to garden.

FMOPumpkinBigMaxFMinistry is too like a garden plot. As a children’s pastor, I also plan and plot and pray along with my fellow laborers. Each week, we plant seeds of God’s love and God’s word in the heart of children. Some of these children we only meet once while others spend years in our ministry. We encourage each other with reminders that God’s word never returns void and always accomplishes what it intends (Isaiah 55:11). But still, we are planting by faith. In ministry, chances are we may never see the final outcome. The Apostle Paul wisely understood the nurturing connection between ministering and gardening. He eloquently explained in this verse, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.” (1 Corinthians 3:6) We do our part and trust God to make it grow.

It takes faith to garden.FMOWatermelonMoonStarF

May 22, 2009

Frugal Friday: Time

Dost thou love life? Then waste not time; for time is the stuff that life is made of. – Benjamin Franklin

Frugal might be a trendy, buzz word right now, but what does it truly mean? In defining this word, Noah Webster referred toAstronomicalClock frugal as being “wise in the expenditure or application of force, materials, time, etc.”  In other words, we wisely use the resources God has given us. It is no small thing that Mr. Webster included time in his definition. Time is a such a precious commodity!

Lately, time has not been on my side. I’ve been rushing here and there busily crossing out tasks on my mental to-do list. Finally, I found some perspective and realized, “Oh my goodness, I have no joy!” Caught up in the various demands on my time and the “tyranny of the urgent,” I’d been completely drained of any pleasure in my work. It’s not about managing my time. Actually, I believe you can over manage your time. We have learned to cram into one weekend what others would do in a month of weekends.

Perspective and priority are two things to consider when spending time. Time is indeed money and saving money isn’t always saving time. Gaining a clear understanding of your priorities and looking at things through a clearer lens will help you spend your time frugally and with joy. This can be easier said than done especially when all the urgent tasks are seemingly noble.

I’m on the road to recovery, and have purposed in my heart to find pleasure in the moment. Praying daily for wisdom, I press on toward the goal of being “a good and faithful servant” of all God has given to me.

Peace and joy!  Happy Frugal Friday!

read more »

May 20, 2009

Weeding My Soul

This mess is you! Together, you and I, we have been working with a purpose in your heart. And it is wild and beautiful and perfectly in process. To you it seems like a mess, but I see a perfect pattern emerging and growing and alive – a living fractal. – The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity

shackcoversmRecently, I read an interesting and intense piece of literature called The Shack by William Paul Young.  If you haven’t yet read this New York TImes Bestseller, the book is a beautiful allegory exhibiting God’s love for broken humanity.  My favorite chapter in when the main character, Mack,  joins Sarayu, the Holy Spirit, in a messy garden.  The two spend time together laboring over a plot of weeds all the while weeding through Mack’s deepest questions and hurts and utter confusion.

Today was a perfect spring day and I was fortunate to be able to spend much of my morning in flower beds pulling out many, many weeds.  One of the reasons I love to garden is because nature truly reveals some of the deeper things of God. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:20

As I pulled and hoed and clipped, I was able to reflect on the imagery of The Shack. Isn’t amazing how garden plots are so similar to our lives? Just take a look at weeding. Weeds are the enemy to our soul. Their sole purpose is to choke out anything fruitful in the garden plot.  They steal. They kill. They destroy.

So what do these perversive weeds look like in our lives? Jesus describes them as “sons of the evil one” in Matthew 13. Weeds are really anything that separates us from the love of God thereby inhibiting growth and fruition. Weeds are worries.  Weeds are 450px-Tulip_-_floriade_canberralies. Weeds are sin. Weeds are condemnation. Weeds are past hurts. Weeds are works. Weeds are a physical representation of our fallen state. Weeds are the enemy of our soul.

What is amazing about weeding and gardening is that it is a lifetime task.  One cannot just weed their garden and expect that they will be weed-free thereafter. It is a process of pulling and uprooting. And, if one is diligent about this task, it actually gets easier. The roots aren’t as deep and so becomes quite easy to pull them up. But, pull we must.

Jesus told us in this life we will have trouble. In other words, we will have weeds – it’s a given. But if we diligently partner with the Holy Spirit, we will be able to root out these enemies to our growth and freedom. Together with the Master Gardener, we can walk through the garden secure in the fact that we are loved and that we are a work in progress. Weeds will grow, but the Holy Spirit will be there as our Helper and Companion. He will patiently assist us as we yield to Him.

There is no condemnation or judgement in this garden. God has a plan and loves us deeply. He isn’t concerned that everything isn’t perfectly manicured. He is God the only infallible one. He understands our fallen state better than we do. When we do miss it, His grace and love are poured into our lives. His love washes over us and causes us to be a well-watered garden. (Isaiah 58:11)

I am so grateful that the Holy Spirit is actively beside me and He lovingly identifies the weeds that have prevented growth in my life. It is like Sarayu says to Mack, “To prepare this ground, we must dig up the roots of all the wonderful growth that was here. It is hard work, but well worth it. If the roots are not here, then they cannot do what come naturally and harm the seed we will plant.”

May 15, 2009

Frugal Friday: Wild Rice

Wild rice is an amazing food.  It is high is protein, lysine and dietary fiber.  Beyond the nutritional value is the flavor.  Wild riceWildricecooked is just plain yummy!

Wild rice takes time to prepare, but it is worth the effort.  Rather than buy it pre-made in a can, this is what I do.  I cook the entire bag of wild rice and divide it up into 2 cups portions.  I use what I need and freeze the rest.  Most wild rice recipes call for about 2 cups so it’s easy to pull a bag out of the freezer and pop it into whatever I’m cooking.  I add it to brown rice as it is steaming for variety, flavor and added protein.  My famous “Minnesota Wild Rice Shut-out Soup” would be less than famous without it.

Pre-cooking foods in bulk and freezing them in portions rather than buying pre-made is both a healthy and frugal thing to do.

Happy Frugal Friday!

Taste and see that the Lord is good…  Psalm 34:8a

May 5, 2009

KAL Mystery

photo-54I joined my first KAL. It was impulsive. I didn’t ask questions. I wasn’t even sure what the acronym meant. I just did it. Maybe it was the pretty purple yarn. Maybe it was the scent of a mystery (I love a good mystery!). Maybe it was the challenge.

For those of you who are still in the dark, a KAL is a Knit-A-Long. KAL is just one of those esoteric terms found in knitting circles (SSK, YO, dcdec, M1, K1, SSP, FROG, and many more). In these KALs, groups of knitter get-together virtually (Ravelry.com) and knit a project. Along the way, tips and victories and frustrations are all shared. 

Except for a childhood class in purling a scarf (I’m sure I invented the YO – you should have seen the holes!), I am a self-Madame DeFargetaught knitter. I’m now nearly fluent in knit-ease, but I still have a long way to go. The knitters in these groups are die-hard knitters (I’m sure they would have the mysterious French knitter in Charles Dicken’s Tale of Two Cities quaking in her des chaussures!). They perform amazing knitting feats without batting an eye. Clearly, I am way out of my league.

The mystery is the pattern. The clues are released one by one as you are knitting the project. The pattern is a pair of socks, but what will they look like? Clue Two was released yesterday and I am still struggling with finishing clue one. Tobias, the cat, has been circling my yarn as if to mock my efforts (He loves yarn! He loves chewing yarn into little pieces preferably when I am mid-project).

Of course, I’m loving the challenge and I even got my mom to join too.  And, there is still time if you are up for the challenge: 

http://www.knittersbrewing.com/storename/knittersbrewing/ViewDept-260510.aspx

Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor. Proverbs 12:24

May 1, 2009

Frugal Friday

p1010079Frugal Living is an art form and a skill I wish to cultivate in my life and home. It’s not just about saving money, conserving resources and being green.  What makes it an art is combining frugal standards while creating a nurturing and pampering environment. In other words, your family feels spoiled and loved not neglected and deprived.

Case in point, my sister is very passionate about green-living, but her family never feels like they are being given a raw deal. She is very nurturing while holding a high standard of green-ness (see her blog: mygreenside.wordpress.com).

Being frugal is conservation at its finest, and my goal is always to be a good steward of all God has given me. It is fascinating to study the lives of generations past who excelled at economical living, and to glean what may be applicable for my family and our life-style.

Frugal Friday is born of a desire to share little tid-bits I am learning on the way. So for my first installment, I am sharing my smoothie recipe. My son, Colin, is a AAA hockey goalie and today marks the first weekend of this season.  He knows as an athlete what goes into his body before a tournament weekend will affect his energy-level on the ice. This p10100281morning was a smoothie morning…p10100291

Jane’s Smoothies Recipe

  1. Fill the blender half way with plain yogurt (not vanilla or any pre-sweetened varieties – you control the sugar!) preferably organic or homemade
  2. Add enough orange juice to blend
  3. Throw in 1-2 frozen bananas and handfuls of frozen blueberries & raspberries
  4. Blend and serve

So, where is the frugalness? Let’s start with bananas. Many stores discount bananas once they brown and you can buy a bagful for a reasonable price.  Peel them and bag them and pop into the freezer.  When you are making smoothies and malts, they are the perfect addition for nutrition, thickening and frosty flavor.

Blueberries are a lovely fruit!  In season, you can find pints for around $2. At this point, I buy as many as I can. (Last year most of the blueberries I froze for the winter months, I picked from a local garden. The benefits of picking and purchasing locally are numerous. It is more cost effective to pick-your-own berries while soaking in the fragrant smell of berries – heavenly! Also, you know exactly where your money is going and where your food is coming from.) I place them on cookie sheets and pop in the freezer.  This way they freeze individually so it is easy to portion out for recipes.  After they are frozen on the cookies sheets, I fill quart bags and stick them back into the freezer. Frozen blueberries are so much easier to work with when making scones, muffins and blueberry pancakes.

All the above could be said of raspberries. They freeze well, too, and it is best to freeze individually before you bag them.p10100773 Having frozen blueberries and raspberries make for a great pop-in-your-mouth frozen treat – better than candy!

Happy Frugal Friday!

He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son… Proverbs 10:5a