Friday, September 28, 2012

Five Minute Friday - Grasp

It's FRIDAY! Normally that means it's time for another Five Minute Friday where, as our hostess and inspiration, Lisa-Jo Baker, puts it, we write "For only five short, bold, beautiful minutes. Unscripted and unedited. We just write without worrying if it’s just right or not."  BUT...I've not had opportunity to sit down on a Friday and participate in a Five Minute Friday since early August! I'm so thankful to find time and opportunity to do it today! Yeah!

Today's topic is grasp.


When I first saw the word grasp several things ran through my head...chiefly..."Why does it take me so long to grasp on to anything? Why am I always so slow to 'get' it?"

While I really don't know the answer to those questions, I do have to say, that it's not because I don't want to 'get' it. I usually just don't. It's true! I don't get a lot of things.

For starters, I don't get how most people think. It seems that, as a general rule, most people today, would rather believe a lie than take the time to search out the truth in practically any matter. It's like it's too hard or something. It's just easier to believe the lie and go on.

But the thing that I find the hardest to grasp is the truth of how much the Lord Jesus Christ loves those same broken and unbelieving people. God loved each of so much that, even if we were the only person on the face of the earth, He still would have sent His Son to bleed and die for us. I cannot grasp the depth of that kind of love! Can you?

Even though it's hard to grasp in our finite minds, may our hearts and spirits grasp this...and I pray this over each of us today...

That Christ Jesus "...would grant you, according the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and ground in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height: And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God" (Ephesians 3:16-19).

May each of us 'get' it when it comes to this!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Delicious Homemade Recipes For Using Apples! (Living On A Dime)

Delicious Homemade Recipes For Using Apples!
by Jill Cooper
I've always dreamed of having an apple tree in my backyard. You know the old saying, "Be careful what you wish for?" Now that I actually have my own apple tree, I stand in my yard watching the apples piling up around me thinking, "Oh no -- What do I do with this mess now?"
If I could make gasoline out of apples, I could retire, but since that is not an option and my frugal mind will not allow me to waste one apple, I have had to come up with some yummier "apple disposal" methods.
If you find that you have a few dozen more apples than you know what to do with, or if you just can't resist the great sales that stores have on apples this time of year, these recipes from Dining On A Dime will help settle your frugal dilemma.

Apple Tips:
  • When you have a partially eaten apple, save the good part and chop it into pieces. Place in a microwave safe dish. Blend together 1 tsp. each brown sugar, flour, oatmeal and margarine and a dash of cinnamon. Top the apple with the topping and microwave until tender.
  • Core and slice apples very thin. Dehydrate and use in granolas, eat alone or soften in warm water to use in recipes.
  • Slice apples and use in pancakes or waffles.
  • Freeze extra apples for later. Peel, slice and core them and then store in 2 cup portions in freezer bags.
  • Use soft apples in cooking.
  • Cut apples into small pieces and add to salads with a fruit based dressing.

Homemade Apple Butter
9 to 10 apples, cored, peeled and chopped
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/8 tsp. salt
Place everything into a crockpot. Stir, cover and cook on high 1 hour. Cook on low for 9-11 hours or until thick and dark brown. Stir occasionally. Uncover and cook on low 1 hour longer. Stir with whisk until smooth. Refrigerate or Freeze. Makes 2 pints.

Apple Pie Filling
9 cups baking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
5 cups water
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Toss apples with lemon juice and set aside. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a Dutch oven and bring to a boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add apples and return to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until apples are tender (6-10 minutes). Cool for 30 minutes. Then ladle into freezer containers or bake immediately. Makes two 9-inch pies.

Fried Apples
4 large apples, cored and sliced
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Cut apples into 1/4 inch slices. Heat butter in a large skillet. Put the apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon in the skillet and cover. Over medium-low heat, cook apple slices 7-10 minutes or until they begin to soften and the syrup thickens. Serve coated with excess syrup on top. Serves 4.

Baked Apples
apples, cored
raisins (optional)
1 tsp. margarine
dash of cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
1 Tbsp. honey or brown sugar
(These ingredient amounts are per apple.)
For each person, use 1 apple. Fill the center of the apple with all the ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees until tender or put in a Dutch oven on top of stove and simmer on very low until tender.

Apple Snack
2 qts. apples, peeled, cored and halved
Coarsely grate apples. Place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 225 degrees until dry. Remove from cookie sheet and break into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

Apple Crisp
6 apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. cinnamon and/or nutmeg
1/2 cup water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange apples in a well-greased baking dish. Blend all remaining ingredients except water. Spread evenly over top of apples. Pour water over the topping. Bake 45 minutes until apples are tender and top is crisp. Serves 6.

Peach Crisp
Use peaches in place of apples.

Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the authors of the Dining On A Dime Cookbook. Dining On A Dime will help you save money on groceries and get out of debt by cooking quick and simple homemade meals. For free tips & recipes visit , sign up for our free Living On A Dime Newsletter and learn to save more!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Welcome To My Bear-y North Woods Kitchen

These curtains and tablecloth have been in mind for a long time!
I purchased the material right after we got home from a northern Minnesota vacation TWO years ago and, finally, just tonight got them cut and stitched together!
 They should be nice for winter...warm, cozy, and cabiny!
And, for anyone who knows them, Big Ted, Sweet Lucky, and Lovely Honey are all represented in this pattern. To find out more about them visit the North American Bear Center's website. It is located in Ely, Minnesota.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Chicken Feed Sack Tote

I just got finished with making my first chicken feed sack tote! They're extra sturdy and it's a great way to recycle! I first discovered the idea on Fresh Eggs Daily and just thought they were the cutest things! I did end up making my own handles, but followed the basic ideas found on Fresh Eggs Daily's website. Here's what I ended up with...

Front View
Back View
Side View

Recipe - Mini Baked Pumpkin Cake Doughnuts

In celebration of the first day of fall I made these little mini jewels and they are delicious!

1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 15-oz. can of pumpkin
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 3/4 cups + 2 Tablespoons unbleached flour


2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray mini doughnut pans with pan spray. Beat together oil, eggs, sugar, pumpkin, spices, salt, and baking powder until smooth. Add flour, stirring just until smooth. Fill the wells of the doughnut pans about 3/4 full. Bake doughnuts for about 8 to 10 minutes or until done. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before transferring them to a cooling rack. While doughnuts are still warm, gently shake them in a bag with cinnamon-sugar coating. Cool completely and wrap airtight; store at room temperature for several days. Makes approximately 3 1/2 dozen. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Productive Day

Today has been one of the most productive days we've had in ages! Ds put in an 8 hour day at his job in Lamar. Dh mowed the lawn and our mechanic put a new muffler on our van. YEAH! No more roar! I worked in the house. Got my general cleaning done, several loads of laundry washed and hung out to dry, reconciled the bank statement, did an inventory of all our canned and boxed goods, and am menu planning accordingly. I still need to inventory the freezers and plan in my leftovers, but, overall, it's been a good day and progress has been made....and I am so thankful! Baby steps! And breathe, breathe, breathe! God bless all here!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Cost Of Clutter (Living On A Dime)

The Cost of Clutter
By Jill Cooper

We live in a society of extremes. People seem to be extremely in debt, extremely overweight and extremely disorganized. People everywhere are trying to come up with newer and better solutions to solve these problems but not many of their ideas are working.
The solutions aren't working because they are focusing on the wrong problem. For example, if your child comes to you and says "I have a drug problem." You don't sit them down and say, "Well let's work on a way to get your grades up and then we'll work on your drug problem." How foolish that would be. The real problem is not the grades but the drugs. You take care of the drugs and the chances are pretty good that the grades will come up.
For some of us, instead of focusing on getting out of debt or losing weight, we need to first give more serious thought to becoming organized. Does that sound crazy, almost laughable? Before you start laughing too hard, look at these examples and see if you can relate.
How often do you go out to eat because your kitchen is a mess? If your kitchen is clean, chances are you would not only be more willing to fix dinner at home but in the morning you would fix breakfast and pack yourself a lunch, too.

Here are some benefits of getting your kitchen organized:
  • You would save at least $5,000 a year for one person, $10,000 for two, and so on if you ate at home.
  • When you are organized you know what you have in your pantry, so you don't buy ingredients that you already have and you don't have to throw away food you forgot you had.
  • You would be using your leftovers instead of tossing them.
  • You will start losing weight because you are preparing regular well balanced meals instead of eating fast food all the time. Besides the fact that homemade food generally has fewer calories than fast food, balanced meals create fewer cravings and this helps eliminate grazing.

Organizing can reduce your wardrobe and laundry costs.
  • Do you keep buying more clothes because you are gaining weight from fast food or from the stress of your clutter?
  • How big is your wardrobe? Do you or your children own 30 pairs of jeans at $60 a pop because you don't keep up with the laundry or because your closet is so stuffed you can't find anything? That adds up to $1,800 worth of jeans. If you cut it down to even 10 pairs you would save $1,200. How many tops do you own? How about those shoes? Before you say, "There is no way I have that many jeans, shoes, or tops!" go count you clothes. You may be surprised...
  • How often do you toss a suit jacket on the floor or on the furniture and then later have to have it dry cleaned because it's wrinkled? Just think what you could save on your dry cleaning bill if you kept a little more organized.

Organizing can save you money in every aspect of your life.
  • Do you buy new items because you can't find something? The cost of things like tools, glue, tape, ropes, garden tools, kitchen items, light bulbs, batteries, office supplies and other things really adds up.
  • How much do you pay each month in late fees on your bills because you can't find them, your checkbook or even a stamp to mail them?

Try something different!
So often we think that the solution to our debt problem is for both spouses to work outside the home. At times we even compound the problem when one or both spouses takes a second job.
When both spouses work out of the home, who takes care of the house? Frequently, there is a constant battle between them about whose job it is to take care of some element of the housework. After all, the husband has been out working all day, so he doesn't feel like it. Oh, but the wife has been working, too, so why can't she take a break?
Imagine if your boss at work decided to work a second full time job. How would this impact your workplace? Who would you ask if you couldn't find products for your customers? What if there was no change because your boss was at his other job until after the bank closed? What if you needed help or advice from your boss, but he said, "Not now... I'm too tired from my other job?" How long would that company last? The same thing happens in many homes every day.
Would your family be better served if one spouse stayed home? Someone needs to be responsible for the bulk of the care and maintenance of the home and family. Ideally, everyone will share the work, but like in any other business there has to be one person in charge. Otherwise, everyone will avoid the work and everything will descend into chaos.
If this sounds like your home, you might sit down with your spouse and seriously consider whether one of you might take off of work to try to get your home in order. Instead of thinking of staying at home as a prison sentence, think of it as another job to help save you money, reduce family stress and add more family comfort.
If you're considering staying home, get rid of the emotions and, with pen and paper (hopefully you can find one) in hand, write down the ways that being disorganized is costing you money. Be honest and try to cover even the small things. You might find that the money you are spending dealing with disorganization is equal to or more than one spouse's take home pay.
Organization has nothing to do with what is politically correct or what the media or other people tell you you need to do. It is a practical choice that you can make. I am NOT saying that you can't work doing something that you love. I am saying that regardless of how your family handles it, the work of keeping the home has to get done.
If you feel that you and your spouse have to or both want to work, then try to come up with other ideas.
  • Would spending your vacation organizing things and deep cleaning give you enough of a jump start to help keep things organized? Maybe once you organized everything you could consider hiring someone to clean your house once a week. Before you say you can't afford it, think about this-- Which would cost less? -- Paying someone $50 a week to clean your house or paying for all the things that cost you money because you are not organized?
  • Consider whether it would be worth one spouse working part time instead of full time.
  • Try one simple thing like hanging up your clothes so you don't have cleaners expense or getting the whole family to pitch in with cleaning the kitchen at the end of each meal.
Maybe you do have the time, but you just don't know how to get organized. If that is the case, then learn. Check out books at the library or search for help on the Internet. Better yet, find someone you know who is organized and ask them to teach you. Don't be embarrassed to do this. Most people are more than willing to show you how to do things. Remember, those older women (and men) that seem to have it all together now didn't start out that way. They've had 20 years or more practice and they remember what it was like to not have a clue where to start. Just ask.
Instead of wasting your time and energy on trying to bail the water out of your sinking boat by bailing faster or using a bigger bucket, fix the hole. CLEAN UP THE CLUTTER AND SAVE.
For more helpful tips to make organizing, cleaning and laundry easier, take a look at the Keeping It Clean e-books.

Tawra Kellam and Jill Cooper are frugal living experts and the authors of the Dining On A Dime Cookbook. Dining On A Dime will help you save money on groceries and get out of debt by cooking quick and simple homemade meals. For free tips & recipes visit , sign up for our free Living On A Dime Newsletter and learn to save more!

Jumping Back Into Life With Both Feet

As I find myself in a new season of life, I find that I'm having a hard time finding my footing. Twenty-four years of homeschooling is suddenly behind me and an empty nest looms before me as our youngest son...our baby...has, somehow, when I wasn't looking, grown from boy into man. He has met a very sweet girl and is planning on marrying within a year.

While I'm happy for them, I must admit that I'm feeling quite sad for myself. A myriad of crazy thoughts assail my mind, as fears invade my space and make me half crazy at times. Am I alone in these feelings? I can't help but wonder. Do other moms go through this as their babies grow into adulthood and they face the empty-nest-syndrome?

Either way...little by little...the battle with self becomes less and less and I am adjusting. If I can just keep breathing I know I'll be okay. Breathe! Breathe! Breathe!

Regardless! No matter what! I'm realizing that I have choices to make. I can CHOOSE to be sad and discontent, or I can CHOOSE to jump back into life with both feet! 

While I'm sure that there will be times of setback, at this moment I deliberately and purposefully CHOOSE to jump back into life with both feet and embrace this new season that the Lord has laid before me in all of its glory! As of now I will try my very best to find the beauty in each new day and use it to the glory of God as I move forward into whatever is next!

Thank You, Lord, for always being there for me...for always giving me just enough light for the step I'm on!

God bless all here!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Good Evening, Dear Friends!

It's been forever since I've posted here. There's been so much going on and I wouldn't even know where to begin to start if I tried to fill you in, so I won't even try. Please know, though, that our lives here have been in quite a quandary to say the least and stress levels have been high.While I can't go into all that has been happening, I will say that, in the process, I have gotten so far off track with everything that I don't even know where to begin as I try to pull myself up by the bootstraps, make sense of everything, and get back on track.We are facing challenges unlike any we have ever faced before and, to be quite honest, I am quite frightened of what the future might hold for us. I know in my heart that it is ridiculous to allow fear and uncertainty any place in my life, but, lately, it seems that I'm having a hard time overcoming it. Any advice, any words of wisdom, and all prayer would be most welcome. I am going to try to hold myself accountable by checking in here regularly and sharing more as time allows. Thank you in advance to anyone who reads this post and prays over our family. May Godly richly bless you for interceding on our behalf!

All My Love,