Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tasty Tuesday

"The breakfast of champions!" - Wheaties commercial

It's officially summer in my house!  My son finished his sophomore year of high school yesterday!  I'm letting him sleep in today as a reward for working hard all year!

The catch to sleeping in at our house is that you don't get breakfast.  The kitchen closes at 9 am on weekends, at 8 am during the week.  I'd like it to be earlier, but I've caved to popular vote.  Of course, that's a general rule - we often have to be on a field or in an ice rink at those times, so breakfast is earlier those days!  I choose my battles and I kind of like the quiet time in the morning on the days that aren't dictated by sports schedules, so it's a win-win.

I'm a morning person and I love breakfast!  It's said that it is 'the most important meal of the day' and I can't agree more.  I could eat a full breakfast before my feet hit the ground!  I'm so hungry in the morning, my husband knows food comes first - not even coffee, food!  Being a mother, if the kids are at the table, I will make them breakfast first.  On school days, their breakfast is first so they can get to the bus stop.  But, I have a glass of water & a cup of tea while scrambling eggs and buttering toast.

A typical weekday breakfast in my house is scrambled eggs with fruit or a vegetable (tomatoes, Brussels sprouts & broccoli being the most popular), hot tea, and vitamins.  I make THE BEST scrambled eggs, but I'll save that for another post!  My youngest hasn't fully bought in to the high protein breakfast, so most mornings she'll have pancakes or waffles with fruit and milk. Occasionally,  I will make a pound of bacon on the weekend and reheat it during the week to go with the eggs; sometimes we have sausage.  We also have "dippy eggs" (over easy to the rest of the world), poached eggs, and hard boiled eggs.  My family goes through about 3 dozen eggs a week!  That's just me and the kids - my husband doesn't eat breakfast.

We have cereal on hand, but it's not often eaten for breakfast.  Cereal has become a snack, dinner substitute (on "whatever you can find night") or post dinner meal on those days we have an early dinner and are hungry again at 7!

Weekends are for more involved cooking!  That's when I make pancakes (I love experimenting with flavors and add-ins), waffles, and French toast: a double batch so I can put the extras in the freezer for weekday reheating.  In this house we never have to "le'go my Eggo" because homemade is so much better!
Along with these warm pastries is a toppings bar.  Always start with butter - real butter - nothing fake or butter-flavored, ever.  Then choose from: table syrup, Maple syrup, powdered sugar, fresh fruits (whatever we have), a variety of jams, orange marmalade, sour cream, plain Greek yogurt, vanilla Greek yogurt, chocolate chips, apple butter, and whipped cream are the standards.  Sometimes we'll have some clotted cream or Swedish Creme left over from dessert.  We have even drizzled caramel sauce for an indulgent creation!  If you've never thought of putting anything but syrup on your pancakes, waffles, & French toast you are missing a great breakfast.  My favorite topping combination is chocolate chips (they'll melt to create a chocolate layer), orange marmalade, and sour cream.  It's delicious!

The next time you whip up a batch of pancakes (waffles or FT) let your imagination run wild!  What flavors, fruits, and condiments can you add to the batter or on top to start your morning right!  Add a side of your favorite protein & beverage to kick start your day!

What is breakfast like at your house?  I'd love to hear about your "breakfast of champions".  Go to the blog and share your favorite, typical, unusual, or unique breakfast ideas!

"Greet the dawn with enthusiasm and you may expect satisfaction at sunset."  ~Amish Proverb

Your Partner in Ministry,

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24

Monday, June 22, 2015

ReAwakenings 1 Peter 2

"It is God's will that your good lives should silence those who make foolish accusations against you."  1 Peter 2:15

Every once in a while I come across a person who seems to not like me, just because.  I'm one of those people who wants everyone one to like me - at least until I give them a real reason not to!  So, when one of those kinds of people comes into my life, I spend way too much time and energy worrying about that 'relationship'.  Often times, it's not even a relationship yet, it's just an acquaintanceship  (is that a word?).  Anyway, I ruminate over conversations trying to figure out if I said something offensive, I plan my next encounter with that person, so that I can be my best in their presence.  I even ask for advice from people who know that person well, as to how I should act or approach our next meeting.  It rolls around in the back of my brain daily, taking up valuable space that I really can't spare!  It shows it's destructive nature when I realize how unproductive I've been in other areas of my life!

I become overly tired, distracted, forgetful, short tempered, and suffer from general air-headedness (I'm on a roll with made-up words today).  It's utterly ridiculous that I become so concerned with something that, in the long run, really doesn't matter.  This is a lesson I learned some time ago, but often have to be reminded of it.  Can you relate?  I have several friends who have no idea what this feels like and I envy them.  My husband is one who doesn't have a worry in the world if, for some unknown reason, someone decides to say something against him or verbally attack him or just doesn't like him.  It's not even a blip on his emotional radar!  And he can't understand my emotional response of not being liked by everyone.  I'm pretty sure he thinks I'm a little crazy - but he loves me anyway - thank goodness!

We're all wired differently, but we are all called to the same Love.  In chapter 2 of Peter's First letter, there is a warning, "Be careful how you live among your unbelieving neighbors...." 1 Peter 2:12, followed shortly by the encouraging words above from verse 15.  While I do believe that it is in my nature, the way my hormones & wiring & thinking are naturally, to want to be liked; it is also greatly influenced by this world's pressure to be accepted, part of the crowd, a follower of 'the norm' rather than a follower of "The Way".  Wanting to be liked by everyone is akin to keeping up with the Jones'!  

So, when I notice my worldly nature eating at my happiness and productivity I check in with my heart, where the Holy Spirit dwells.  I search what I know to be truthful - God's truth that love and acceptance from Him is the only thing that matters.  That what some person says about me or how they treat me is not for me to judge or worry about.  God calls me to love my neighbor as myself and leave the rest to Him.  He promises that, "Even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will believe and give honor to God when he comes to judge the world."  1 Peter 2:12b. 

Lord knows I've said and done some pretty stupid things, certainly any one of them would be reason enough to discount me as your new friend.  But, as best as I am capable, I strive to live as Christ wants me to live.  All I can do is leave the rest to God!  Last year during "My One Word" I chose to work on being a "warrior" rather than a "worrier" (perhaps you've noticed that word under my name?).  Well, I can't say that it has been a remarkable year in making me a "Warrior" for Christ, but I continue to move from worrier to warrior, with God's continued reminders and help.  God doesn't always do BIG things, He is found in the tiniest details and small moments, whispering words of love & encouragement.  God is bigger than any problem we may face, but He also is walking along side us, indwelling our hearts, never leaving us for a moment.  

I'd love to hear your reaction to or part of what you discovered in your S.O.A.K. of 1 Peter, chapter 2.  Go to the blog to jot down your thoughts in the Comment section.

Your Partner in Ministry,


"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24

Monday, June 15, 2015

ReAwakening - 1 Peter 1

"So think clearly and exercise self-control.  Look forward to the special blessings that will come to you at the return of Jesus Christ."  1 Peter 1:13

My summer has not yet started even though it's the middle of June!  Our schools are still in session this week (half days of exams for the high school kids and mostly fun & games for the elementary), but they are still in school.  The days of sleeping in and being unencumbered by a schedule are still a week away.  In these last days it is very difficult to roll out of bed on time, to stay focused on final projects and tests.  We are distracted by the approaching excitement of freedom from the daily grind and the upcoming vacations that are planned.   It is with great anticipation that we await the glory days of summer!

In the midst of all this hoopla and planning of summer activities, I open my Bible and read Peter's words: "think clearly and exercise self-control".   He seems to be saying the exact opposite of what I hoped the next 9 weeks would be.  Summer is a time of indulgence (lazing by a pool, ocean or lake), ice cream in the middle of the week, sleeping in, and doing as little 'thinking' as possible.  Even if it's not for the entire summer, it is a time when we take a vacation and let loose for at least a week!  So, Peter's words knocked the wind out of my summer sails for a moment.

We all know what happens when we throw thinking to the summer wind for 9 weeks!  We lose knowledge, we become undisciplined, lazy and by the start of the next school year getting back into a schedule is extremely difficult.  Learning becomes a chore and don't even get me started on waking-up on time!  It is so easy to fall into a summer slump of indulgence.

So it is with our faith.  When we are away from God's word for an extended time, it is easy to lose our way.  How have you been doing with your summer S.O.A.K. and reading?  Personally, it's been a bit of a challenge to fit it in.  My youngest was sick for an entire week, my middle child turned 16, and I've been playing catch-up or get-ready for several weeks of household chores.  Yes, my Bible reading has suffered and my soul has felt it, and it's not even summer vacation yet!

If you are like me, and finding it difficult to grab a few minutes to spend reading God's word, don't stop trying!  On the days you can't read, continue to pray and live out the Good News as you go about your day.  The word strengthens and encourages us, but how we live our daily lives shows the world that we belong to Christ!  

In our reading, the Apostle Peter (the guy who cut off a guard's ear and then denied Jesus 3 times) is writing to early Christians who have been scattered and suffering persecution.  Under Emperor Nero, Christians in Rome were blamed for the 'burning of Rome' and were tortured and killed for their faith in the public arena.  Peter's letters were written and sent, (probably from Rome) to those scattered throughout Asia Minor.  The purpose of his letter is to comfort and encourage believers everywhere, especially new believers.

If you feel scattered or discouraged, read Peter's letter as if it was written especially for you (because, in a way, it was).  Be strengthened by his words and by the example of the life he lived.  Even though he stumbled, he never stopped being a follower of Christ.  Peter, formerly Simon Peter, was renamed by Jesus and was told he would be the "rock" on which the church would be built.  He did not become a disciple because he was perfect for the job; he was changed by God's love to be the perfect example for us.

As I embark on a summer of activities, please forgive my lack of posting when it happens.  Like Peter, I go through times of great enthusiasm and times of being scattered & undisciplined.  Summer usually finds me scattered, both physically and mentally.  But, I hope you will continue to follow the reading schedule, S.O.A.K. in your journal, and comment on the blog.  We are called to live in community and share our faith, but remember that our God desires a personal relationship with each of us and one of the best ways to grow that relationship is through reading His Word and prayer.

Take a lesson from Peter's life, "It is better to be a follower who sometimes fails than one who fails to follow", Life Application Study Bible, Profile of Peter, pg. 1469.

Here's to a summer of learning that when we fall (in our faith and our life), we should get back up and continue on our way-  down the path that God has built for us!

Your Partner in Ministry,


"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tasty Tuesday

"Look who's coming to dinner!"

Although the weather has once again cooled and all this rain has me wondering if I'm really in the north east and not the North West, we are on the cusp of summer!  My back porch has been cleaned, stained & sealed and I can't wait to host my first al fresco meal.  Summer is a time of backyard entertaining, picnics, and just a good reason to randomly invite friends and family over for dinner.

This weekend my son turns 16!!  It's hard to believe my middle child has reached this milestone - I'm still trying to figure out how that happened!  So, instead of dwelling on the swift passage of time, I'm planning the meals we'll have over the course of the weekend, with a house full of family here to celebrate!

How do you entertain in the summer?  From throwing everything on the grill to crock-pots & casseroles, summer is wide open when it comes to meal prep options.

When we are having friends and family over for a cook-out, it's usually the standards on the grill.  Cheeseburgers (because what's a burger without cheese? - naked!), hot dogs (see my previous post about hot dogs!!), and BBQ chicken (boneless, of course), with pre-made sides that can be whisked to the table in a moments notice.  I don't know about you, but I don't like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen when I'm entertaining, especially in the summer!

But, for an entire weekend of feeding a crowd with as little cooking fuss as possible, I turn to my trusty crock pot!  No, they are not just for winter stews and comfort food.  I'll be making Slow Cooker Root Beer Pulled Pork, from SixSisterStuff.com .  Pulled meat always reminds me of outdoor eating & bar-b-que's, the smell as it cooks is just divine, and no utensils required!  I love that cooking it low & slow requires almost no attention and it can be made ahead of time, stored in the refrigerator (or freezer, if you're cooking way ahead of time) and thrown back into the crock pot for heating a few hours before serving.  Throw together some veggies, fresh fruit, and a light dessert and we have a fabulous no-fuss meal for feeding a crowd during an exciting weekend of celebrating and family togetherness!

I'd love to hear your favorite crowd pleasing meal, especially for easy summer-time cooking!

If you're reading this in your e-mail click here to pop over to the blog and leave your comments!

I can't wait to try your mouth watering recipes!

Your Partner in Ministry,

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24  

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Tasty Tuesday

"One man's trash is another man's treasure."  

No doubt you've heard this saying before; maybe even used it yourself.  Today, I'd like to find out how you put it into practice in your kitchen and/or cooking!

Don't wrinkle up your nose until you hear me out.  Wastefulness is a pet peeve of mine; maybe to a fault.  I embraced reduce, reuse, recycle before it was mainstream.  Admittedly, the house can become a little cluttered with things that I think might be useful later.  But, I'm getting better at being selective and productive with what I keep.  The one place this has always been a part of my life is the kitchen.  My great grandmother, Minerva, was a master at this (as was many women of her time).  Not much went to the trash from her kitchen!  She passed some of this frugality to my mom, where I absorbed it and continue to use it in my kitchen today!

I know of people and whole families who refuse to eat leftovers - they throw everything into the garbage can at the end of each dinner.  I have a hard time wrapping my head around this wastefulness - ugh!!!  It's the simplest thing to put the extra servings in the refrigerator and have them for lunch or dinner later, especially when you're short on time and need a "heat 'n eat" meal.  I understand that the frig can get crowded with small portions of food, some getting pushed to the back and forgotten, only to emerge as some kind of scary science project.  But, if you make a habit of using the leftovers, that doesn't happen very often.
In our home we have incorporated leftovers into our weekly meal plan.  Sometimes it's called "Buffet Night", sometimes it's "Whatever You Can Find Night", and other times it's labeled "Throwback Thursday" (though that can also mean an old-fashioned meal).   On these nights, we get all the food out of the refrigerator and each person gets to choose (or have a little of everything) from the previous nights' dinners.  The kids really enjoy it because they get to choose their favorite meal of the week to have again; if they don't want a particular food, they don't have to have it.  It's a win-win for everyone!   There's also the idea of "planned overs".  That's when you make twice as much and plan to have the same meal twice.  Either within the week, as lunches, morph it into another dish, or freeze it to have at a much later time or when in need of a quick meal.  Sometimes, just changing the label can change attitudes.  If you "don't do" leftovers in your home, maybe using one of these methods will give new life to an old problem.  

What about the food that's leftover while making meals?  You know, the crusts & heels of the loaf of bread and the parts of veggies that you don't eat.  What does one do with all that kitchen trash?  Turn it into treasure, of course!  Here are a few of my favorite ways to do that:

BREAD (crusts & heels).  Do you trash the crust of toast & sandwiches?  Do you throw away the first & last slices of the loaf of bread?  STOP doing that!  Do this instead: cut them into bread cubes and put them in the freezer (use an empty bread bag to continue to reduce, reuse, & recycle).  You can use these bread cubes in a number of ways, but my two favorites are
     a. stuffing, use your favorite recipe
     b. french toast casserole -  my favorite French Toast Casserole is found here - Mamabelly's.

VEGETABLES There are a few things you can do with veggies.
     a. cooked veggies - if the portion left over from dinner is too small to have again, put it in a container         in the freezer (label it 'cooked veggies'). Add any cooked vegetables to this over time.  When the container is full, make vegetable soup!  Remember that these are cooked, so they won't need to cook in the soup; add them last so they don't turn to mush.
     b. raw veggies  - the parts of vegetables that we don't usually cook & serve, like the stem of broccoli, or when carrots are looking a little old (not pretty enough to serve, but still good to eat).  Cut the vegetables into small pieces put it in a container marked "raw veggies", storing it in the freezer.  These can be used to flavor broth for soup & stews or even cook down into vegetable broth.
     c. ends & leaves - these are the parts that we humans don't eat, but that doesn't mean they can't be useful.  Start a compost!  There are all sizes & variety of compost for every household!  Whether you have a large garden or a few pots of flowers, your plants will thank you for feeding them with the treasure you created from your kitchen trash.

In case you're wondering.... Yes, I have a freezer!  In fact I have 2 refrigerators with freezers and a small chest freezer.  But, I also have 3 children, buy in bulk (including meat), and cook most meals.  You probably wouldn't need this much freezer space :)

There are lots of frugal, trash-to-treasure things that can be done with food!  I'd love to hear how you turn kitchen trash into edible or reusable treasure!  Share your tips, tricks, and ideas in the Comments!

Your Partner in Ministry,


"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24 

Monday, June 1, 2015

ReAwakening: Jude 1-2

"But you, dear friends, must continue to build your lives on the foundation of your holy faith.  And continue to pray as you are directed by the Holy Spirit."  Jude 2:20

Hey, Jude!  Thanks for the warning!  As we read Jude's letter, we realize something is afoot in the early church.  Jude was going to write a letter about salvation - I'm guessing a more uplifting subject than what he actually writes.  But, he gets wind that there's some treachery going on and decides to write a letter of warning and encouragement.

Jude warns against false teachers, false leaders, and apostasy (turning away from Christ).  These were very real dangers within the early church.  I think it comes as no surprise that they are very real dangers today (maybe even more so?).  We are bombarded with so much information coming from so many different places and people, it's sometimes difficult to know who to believe.   Jude describes these kinds of people, starting in verse 8, so we can keep an eye out for them.  He goes on to describe them using metaphors, because sometimes you just "get a feeling" about someone and can't quite put your finger on what it is about them that isn't quite right.  Perhaps the metaphor is helpful in those times.  But he wraps it up pretty clearly when he says, "These people are grumblers and complainers, doing whatever evil they feel like.  They are loudmouthed braggarts, and they flatter others to get favors in return."  Jude 1:16. 

But, don't be fooled.  People like this are usually intelligent and often have seemingly good qualities, causing people to overlook the bad.  Or they hope to change them.   Jude addresses this in verses 4-7, 12, and 14-15.  This letter is a warning to be on guard, to not be duped, by "...some godless people (who) have wormed their way in among you, saying that God's forgiveness allows us to live immoral lives." Jude 1:4.  This reminds me of the saying, "The more things change, the more they stay the same."  The world has changed a great deal since A.D. 65, when this letter was written, yet we are still dealing with many of the same issues within the church and society.

So as not to be dragged down or thrust into a state of paranoia, I look to Jude's words of encouragement.  They are peppered throughout the letter: beginning, middle and end.  The verse at the top is my favorite of them.  It reminds me that I already have a foundation and encourages me to continue to do what I've been doing and tells me how, "... continue to pray as you are directed by the Holy Spirit." Jude 2:20b.  He uses other wonderful verbs like "Live", "Show", and "Rescue".   Jude writes in very real and relatable language, making it a little easier for me to understand and be able to act on my faith (recall John's letters & his call to action?).

What did you discover in Jude's letter?  Share your thoughts about Jude and his warnings to us and the early church.  Who do you think false teachers are in today's world?  Is there a verse that strikes a chord in your heart?  Scroll down, or if you're reading this in your e-mail click here to go to the blog, and leave a comment.  I can't wait to hear your take on this letter written by Jesus' half-brother!

Your Partner in Ministry,


"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24