Monday, April 25, 2016

Menu Monday: Week of April 25th

Oh boy it has been a steady weekend all the way into Monday!  It is late but I still felt compelled to get Menu Monday up!  Why the steadiness?  Well, it was grocery weekend and I tend to shop for a month at a time since we bought our house.  One paycheck goes to mortgage (thanks to our property taxes going up right after we moved in) and the other bi-monthly check goes to food and bills.  It works but it makes for a busy payday weekend!

I have found, over the years, that if I don't have a plan, resources will be mis-used.  This especially includes food.  As I planned out my menu this weekend I took A LOT of pictures and even made a video!  Bet you can guess why!  Yup, I am putting together a how-to article for menu making.  My technique is heavily pre-planned, then shop, with a dash of post-planning after I have shopped.... eclectic like much of my life!  Here is a sneak-peak, there will be free printables when the post goes up:

In other news this week, my youngest daughter is planning out a blog!  She has been inspired by Modest Mom (Brooke likes when I share her emails on style) and wants to appeal to both fashion and fancy for the modest young lady.  Here is a sneak peak of style tid-bits she might share:

Can you believe she is only 13?!  I can't. So mature for her age.  Homeschooling + 3 Older siblings are factors.

We also had round two of senior pictures for Ashley.  I wasn't super pleased with the guitar shots from the Rims last weekend so I redid those and then her and Brooke wanted to try some poses in a dress... can you tell dresses aren't her thing?  Neither are shoes (unless they are cowboy boots or converse!)

sun and silliness!  Shirt is Jamie Grace, "I'm About to Get My Worship On"

I will be sure to share the final montage when I get them put together.  The above are just the silly out-takes!

I am coming to terms today with a discussion she and I and then her dad and I had about her getting a driver's license.  It all hangs on the balance of.... we realize her "episodes" she has had since she was very young have got to be temporal seizures.  The neurologist was fascinated with her case but couldn't rule out temporal migraines without actually seeing her have an episode, though he suspected seizures after her EEG results.  Based on evidence within her episodes themselves, all indicators point towards seizure.

In theory, I am at peace about her seizures because our weaknesses reflect God's strength.  But the strange thing I am trying to get my head around is the consequence of her potentially never having a driver's license.  She studied so hard despite her memory problems and scored quite well on her written exam, passing on her first try after having had NO driver's ed.  But we are all concerned, Ashley especially, that she would have an episode while behind the wheel and be unable to steer to safety.  Hubby pointed out that it is our responsibility to keep other drivers safe as well as Ashley.  I think she will be fine with this, she actually doesn't like driving!  But it also means a lifetime of relying on others as well as public transportation when she needs to go anywhere.  I had an aunt that didn't drive and she managed fine, but still, it is strange to fathom.

But... God is still good and I am still grateful.  He has a purpose for ALL things!  We feel truly blessed that she has a great job right across the street from us at a little mom and pop market.  No driving needed!

In other news this past week, Brenden FINALLY got his hair cut!

Before is his happy face when his passport came.  Future globe-trotting missionary ready to report for duty!  After is his tiered smile!  He LOVES his new haircut and that is what matters most.  We were surprised how wispy his long hair got.  Normally when it is long it is thick and curly.  Hormones and puberty must have dictated otherwise in his latest long locks episode!

Food to share from this past week:

Vegi soup and fresh bread on request!  It fed us lunch for most of the week!  It was fun and easy to make, I loosely used a crock pot recipe from Fix it and Forget It, my favorite Crock cook book!


This is how I do 20lbs of chicken for 5 people plus lunches and dinner guests.  It was on sale at Ashley's work for $1.69 a pound!!!  You bet I bought a bag full!  The back three chopped up piles will each make one dinner plus 5 lunches for hubby to take to work, usually chicken salad or stir fry, and even feed dinner guests.  The smaller chopped up piles will be stretched in White Chili and Pot Pie. They are just over 1 lb. each.  My menus for the next 4 weeks will reflect some of what rests in these piles!  The rest will reflect all this:

This is the chicken AND some pork and beef and veggies and sides and juice for a month, all crammed in my tiny freezer.  I used some Ziploc with the air squeezed out.  I had a few food saver bags left too which I sealed the meal with.

Also, before I move onto the Menu, I had to share these beauties:

I have been blessed with an apple tree in my back yard.  Yummy dishes to come from the baby apples inside all those blossoms!  While taking pictures of Ashley last week I snapped a few close-ups of the blooms.  The other, as I am sure you notice, is lilac.  The ENTIRE west end of my property is lined with lilac bushes!  Fun side-note: lilacs dipped in honey make a sweet treat!  My kids loved snacking on them when they were younger and we had lilacs on our Lakeside property.

This week Much of the same. Home Bible Study and dinner guest as well as kids to youth group early Tuesday, Truth Project and dinner in my home Thursday.  We have 5 weeks of school left so we are quite dedicated in our studies and continuous graduation prep at this point!

The girls made cupcakes for their youth group leader last week and noticed a deficit in their Home Ec education: they make recipes from scratch so much with me, they aren't very good at cake mixes!!  The muffins were a hit but their confidence wasn't.  I purchased some mixes on sale this past week and I think they plan to make one a week as they work out the nervousness and get use to following the directions on the box!  Also affecting our menu is a cold snap we got this week.  Soups and comfort food have made their way to the mid-spring menu!

Menu for this week...

- cereal/oatmeal
- eggs
- blueberry pancakes
- banana bread

hubby: leftover Pork Fried Rice
me and kids: leftovers, grilled sandwiches




Split Pea Soup and Fresh Bread*
If you aren't big on hand mixing bread and you don't own a bread machine, get one!!  I save so much money every month with mine.  The majority of the breads I make come from recipes I get from the booklet that came with my machine.  

Costco Chicken and Cheese Chimichangas with a Side Salad
I get 2 meals out of one bag of 18 Chimies for our family size.

Garlic Roasted Chicken Breast, Mashed Potato, Corn, Rolls
That pile of BIG HUGE chicken breast (it is actually 3 BIG breast halves) in the center of the picture above, I plan to stick fresh garlic in and baste with olive oil and onion powder and parsley and roast in the oven covered as if it were a whole chicken (it is big enough to be!)

White Chili and Corn Bread
Another Fix it and Forget It recipe. At our last chili dinner we only ate about half the cornbread so I froze the other half and will thaw, warm, and serve it this night.

Bacon Burger and JoJo night!
Last month hubby talked me into buying the double pack of Costco pepper bacon.  I cut both packages in half and freeze each.  On burger night I prepare 1half package which makes about 7-8 pieces of bacon.  It is enough for everyone to have a bacon burger.  This makes the burgers heartier and tastier.  For our family of 5 the meat total is around $5 for this meal.  I make my own buns and have basic condiments.  Potato Jojos for a side make this an easy under $10 meal for our family size.
What are you doing and cooking this week?


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

We Forget... Right Now

Sometimes we forget.  In those crazy, upside-down moments of life... we simply forget.

We forget that slowing down is important to truly look around.

We forget that love takes work and sacrifice, but if our savior did it, so can we.

We forget what quiet sounds like in the midst of a busy, buzzing world.

We forget, sometimes, that the truest things in life, aren't really things and that the people who matter most, won't always be with us to remind us that we matter too.

Sometimes we forget.  In the hustle and bustle of checking off to-dos and making life work... we just forget.

We forget that time is a thing we can't touch but always watch it pass.  Fleeting, flying, and leaving longing in our hearts.

We forget that beautiful days don't last and pain doesn't last and life doesn't last except eternal and in the midst of it all, we forget to make each part count because the pain and the beauty and the temporal disposition of it all matters.

Too many times in my life I have spent the wrong amount of time on the wrong amount of focus on the wrong amount of what was or could be... instead of really seeing what IS and will be. 

I pushed and  pulled and broke and groaned.  I sought perfection, I cried over imperfections... I made too much of one thing and not enough of another... lamenting over it all.

When God opened my eyes to new possibilities in February he also said ENOUGH.  Enough wasting time.  Enough forgetting.  Enough pushing and pulling and lamenting.  Because life is fleeting and moments like right now aren't here forever.  Moments like someday aren't here yet and what a terrible injustice if I don't live today. where I am, with my most for His most because if that isn't all I am living for right now.... then I am not living.

I want to live, and remember, and hope, and trust and know that the past can't be changed and the future isn't here yet but my all is for His all-in-all.

So some days may be filled with book reading for great learning, or game playing for time and laughter with the ones I love, or writing to share my heart and His leading, or digging into God's Word with someone who doesn't know what relationship is so they might REMEMBER and not forget what really matters... that HE, truly, is all that matters and what is given us is given in Hope and trust that we will do well with it for His glory.

Right now, this is just a peace of my poetic heart in reflection of the changing days of life since revelation two short months ago and all the wonderment God has shown me to renew my hope and renew my heart in this wonderful, marvelous, less-then-perfect but perfectly prepared life He has given me.  I pray you will remember, too, the such a time as this which you have also been placed in.

For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
- Esther 4:14

Monday, April 18, 2016

Menu Monday: Week of April 18th

I missed posting last week.  God has given me a young woman to disciple and we spent the afternoon together when I normally would have been typing this post!  Today, however, I am enjoying the lull before another busy week as we push on for the final 6 weeks of school.... the last 6 weeks of Ashley's Primary educational experience and everyone is waiting with baited breath to hear if she will enroll for college classes in the fall to hone the ministry aspect of her giftedness!

In the mean time, we take senior pictures from the rims overlooking our great little city in south-eastern Montana...

Hard to pick just one!  I sent this to family for their help in choosing!
Brooke was my adorable photography assistant!

... we go on field trips...
3 of my ducklings at Little Bighorn Battlefield
Custer's Last Stand (black faced headstone)
...we study hard, work hard and play hard.  After all, each beat of life is but a fleeting moment leading to the next until none are left!  We need to make the most of what we've got... right?

With that said, God has been giving all of us opportunities to minister in more personal ways then we have in the past.  Normally our teachings are collective, in groups, or at the church.  But now, they are more intimate, personal, one-on-one with friends and acquaintances.  A true model of discipleship.  I am blessed to watch my children step into mentoring rolls as well and see those, who God gives them, grow as a result.

These deliberate acts of discipleship have opened our door to regular dinner guests  and visitors again.  I am cooking for more than our brood on Tuesdays and Thursdays now, happily knowing that Tuesdays are already full. My kids are walking through The Truth Project in the morning, doing school work in the afternoon, then leaving early for the church so Ashley can be mentored in music ministry.  I grab hubby (we are a one-car family) after their drop-off, whiz home and then prepare for my one-on-one Bible study with the a fore mentioned young lady who I get the humbling privilege of teaching what Relationship with Jesus looks like through His Word.

Thursdays aren't quite so chaotic with dinner guest and adult Truth Project since it is sort of the downward swing of the week.  Remembering the discipleship and hospitality God calls us to, helps me look forward to these busier days. I am grateful for how God blesses our food supply so we can keep on doing what He has called us to!

This picture from last weekend when we hosted an informal tea party to get to know one of Brooke's friends and her mom better as Ashley prepares to lead the girls in a Bible study on James.  We had a wonderful time.  Brooke made apple dumplings and we both tried a new recipe for garlic rolls.  The table was topped off with veggies and dip and some fresh clipped lilacs from the yard as garnish.  Brooke also had the idea to grab some blooming branches from our elm tree and use them in the centerpiece.  I love days like these!  Such a treat.

The other special treat about our tea party is that these dishes were just given to me earlier that week by a dear long-time friend and pastor's wife.  We met when her and her hubby came to minister at our little church in Lakeside, MT and have been an active part of our lives for many years since.  She became like a second mom after mine passed away and a grandmotherly type to my children.  Her husband passed away from cancer this past August and the dishes have been unused and longing for a good home.  As she was passing through town from a trip to Wyoming, she swung by for lunch, visits, and to bless us with this gift.  It is a service of 12, COMPLETE set of nice china... I have never owned a complete (all the pieces from the same line, this one is called Arctic Spring) set of china.  Our whole family is enjoying it immensely.  Here is a close-up of the design and the Shredded Beef Roast and Gravy over Sloppy Mashed Potatoes I slotted last week:

And here it is cooking.

I used a regular brown gravy I made with Wondera with beef bullion as the base.  After marinading in 1 part oil, 1 part vinegar and 1 part Worcestershire sauce for the afternoon, I fried it in the marinade with onions, salt, pepper, garlic and parsley (can use dried variety). I boiled the potatoes in onion soup mix (I make my own), drained and quick mashed with just a splash of milk so they were still lumpy for a heartier texture.  It was very flavorful!

This week's schedule is as mentioned above with the added challenge of yard work and grocery shopping when payday Friday hits.  After dinner Monday I will escape to the quiet of the guest cottage for Bible study prep, leaving the kiddos on clean-up.  The girls have bought the mix and planned to make cupcakes for their youth group Tuesday, I will need to give them kitchen space!  I'm also beginning more active graduation planning this week including preparing announcements/invites to print.  And, believe it or not, in the middle of it all, I am working on garden plans with an eclectic yard and tight budget!  I am looking forward to putting our fingerprint on this property and hopefully cooking with my harvest!!  Is it any wonder I lean towards quick easy meals with so much going on?

Menu for this week...

- cereal
- eggs
- waffles
- banana bread

hubby: leftover Chicken Fried Rice
me and kids: leftovers, mac n cheese, sandwiches


Beef Steak, Baked Potato, Corn, Garlic Rolls

Slow-cooker Rigatoni and Cheese with Green Salad and leftover Garlic Rolls

Mid-Week Movie Night Burgers and JoJos

Pot Pie and Fresh Bread
Costco Chicken and Cheese Chimichangas with Fresh Salad

Grilled Burgers

What are you doing and cooking this week?


Friday, April 15, 2016

Martha Home the Mary Way

As many of my regular visitors know, I had a wonderfully profound experience in February.  A sort-of, re-balancing of life, so-to-speak.  In that time, I felt a need to touch back on some basics as I refocused my life.

As God would have it, the wonderful Tyndale Blogging Network put up for review a wonderful 1-month devotion on what I like to call, the Art of Housewifery.  It is titled, Having a Mary Heart the Martha Way: 31 Days to a Clean House and a Satisfied Soul by Sarah Mae.

I loved the balance in this book and the raw honesty of the author.  Hearing pieces of her testimony revealing her journey to become a God-honoring housewife and help-meet showed me that I am not alone in this journey to perfect the art of housewifery.

The book is set up with daily devotions launched with an inspirational quote and personal story.  This then leads the reader to  the Mary Challenge: sitting at the feet of Jesus.  Readers are challenged to read specific scripture and prompted with provoking questions to dig into it in order to see the profound truths which can inspire us as both daughter's of God and caregivers to our family.  Each Mary challenge is followed by a Martha Challenge, some cleaning task which helps bite off small chunks of the greater scope of housewifery.  

The days on time, laziness and grace were by far my favorites, though my entire copy is marked up with stars, hearts and underlines for the tidbits I found truly inspiring.  However, I think the greatest take-away for me is HOW I use my time.

We are never going to find more time, which is why the apostle Paul encourages us to be vigilant.  I like what Chuck Swindoll says: "God has given you...sufficient time in each day for you to fulfill His perfect plan--including the interruptions!"

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing,
    while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.
 - Proverbs 13:4

The hand of the diligent will rule,
    while the slothful will be put to forced labor.
- Proverbs 12:24  
 I already have planned to purchase it for some friends whom I know could use the encouragement!

All in all, Having a Mary Heart is a great book for anyone needing the valuable reminder of balance between our heart and our home.  It is most helpful for those who have never experienced having a Martha home the Mary way but even old hats like myself could find pieces of gold in this treasure chest of information.


*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House for my honest review. This review is my opinion alone.
Having a Martha Home the Mary Way

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

David and a Willingness to be Kind

It is that time of month again where we get to welcome a featured post from Nathan Keeney (bio below) and his series on attributes from Biblical characters we can challenge ourselves to learn from.

Willingness to be Kind

One of my favorite stories from the Bible is the story of David and Mephibosheth.  David and Jonathan (Mephibosheth's dad) were best friends.  The made a promise to take care of each other's family if something happened to one of them. 

Well, something did happen.  Jonathan died.  David then became king because Saul (Jonathan's dad) had died too.  After David became king he remembered his promise to Jonathan.  So he looked and looked for anyone from his friend's family.  He found Maphibosheth and vowed to show him kindness for the rest of his life.

And so, think of what it is to show kindness to someone in your life and you will never be the same.  Are you willing to be kind?


Nathan Keeney is a homeschool high school senior living in eastern Montana.  With a heart to serve the Lord he has big plans after graduation.  First, he will be renewing his summer term with Christian Youth in Action, this time, instead of serving as a student, he will be filling the role of boy's counselor and club leader. In the fall he heads to Bible College where he plans to hone in on his calling in youth ministries.  He currently serves as a Bible study teacher in his small town church as well as leading a CYIA after school Bible club near his home.


You can look forward to more of Nathan's Bible character reflections and teachings right here on Faith and Home the first Wednesday of each month.

Scripture references from ESV Bible. Visit Bible Gateway for more resources in Bible Study and spiritual growth.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Menu Monday: Week of April 4th

I can't believe it has been 2 months since I last posted a Menu Monday!  Wow.  Time flies.  The blog is slowly rolling back into motion as I put into place all that God has been showing me.  It has been a wonderful time of growth as I have gone deeper into my relationship with Him and my renewed understanding of my roll as wife and mom.  My post in March, Beauty from Ashes is, by far, my favorite post on this blog because I was finally... after 24 years of housewifing... getting IT.  You'll have to read the Ashes post to learn what "it" was!

So with this renewed spirit of servant-hood and desire to tend to my family not for their praise or accolades, rather, for the simple purpose of glorifying God, I am excited to jump into Menu Monday again.  I also want to clarify WHY I do Menu Monday because these posts are pointless without the heart of the matter.


In June 2015 I set out with my first Menu Monday post. In it I shared my love of list making and the value, both budget and time-planning-wise, of having a menu.  However, the core of these posts is my passion to encourage women to cook easy, delicious meals for their families and guests with a goal of embracing God-honoring, joy-filled hospitality. This nurturing state is just one wonderful way to share the love of God.  My hope for women who visit my menus is that they will be inspired to cook with a joyful heart because it is an opportunity - not an obligation.  Food isn't just the stuff we cram into our bodies - it is the substance which sustains life.  We who cook are life-givers, let us not loose site of that.

One of my favorite stories from the Bible over the last few years has been from Luke 19 when Jesus eats with Zacchaeus.  Eating was a necessity even for Jesus.  This God-man still needed sustenance to maintain his mortal form.  Yet, in so many instances of the Bible where Jesus is breaking bread with others, it is often a time not taken for granted.  Jesus didn't just eat with Zacchaeus.  No.  He shared the gospel truth with him and as a result, Zacchaeus became a new man.  Even when Jesus broke bread with the disciples, he didn't miss teaching points or opportunities to discuss the eternal truths with them.

In a similar way, what if we prepared each meal, reflecting that this meal might be one, whether with a guest or just the regular hub-bub of table bodies, where we might get to share an eternal gospel truth.  What if this simple sustenance allows our loved ones the energy and health to go out and share that message themselves?

Yes... food is life sustaining.  So let us not take this wonderful task for granted!

This week In the time since I was last posting regularly I began a home Bible Study on Thursday nights.  We start with dinner and fellowship and then dive into God's Word.  It is my favorite night of the week!  I usually plan something which can stretch and I always try to offer a dessert.  Hubby and I are on a healthy eating challenge so our meals are transforming... slowly.  At this time, and with our budget, we are focusing mostly on portion control but also some of what I cook and how I cook it is changing.  This also effects those occasional desserts I would like to make for guests!

Sorry, it was dim and I had to snap this shot as she waited to go on stage at a worship event in February.

The kids are still doing Youth Group on Tuesdays.  They go in early as Ashley is still doing music discipleship with her youth pastor who is also the music director.  He is teaching her about worship leadership.  The time at church equates an earlier meal for us as well as the preferred status of easy clean up!  This week I am going to a book fair that night so I am extra particular and planning a breakfast casserole so only the casserole dish and our plates will be necessary for clean up!

Menu for this week...

- cereal
- eggs
- blueberry pancakes

hubby: leftover Chicken Fried Rice
me and kids: leftovers, tuna, sandwiches


Stuffed Potatoes, Side-salad and fresh Rolls


Egg and Sausage Breakfast Casserole

Shredded Beef Roast and Gravy over Sloppy Mashed Potato with Green Beans and Rolls

Goulash, Side-salad and Garlic Bread Sticks
Black Bean and Beef Burrito Casserole

Burgers and Baked JoJos

What are you doing and cooking this week?


More pictures and recipes next week... running late getting this up today!