Sunday, April 26, 2020

COVID19, Shortages and Trusting God


It's hard to believe it's been 3 years since my last post.  I never anticipated that I would write again due to changes in my health. But, the recent Coronavirus pandemic has moved frugality to a necessity in our household. So, as I have been brushing off some of my old skills of frugality, I have also been thinking of you and wondering how you are doing in providing for your household when many shelves are bare in the stores? (Please let me know below in the comments).


My husband and I have lived through several lean times over 36 years of marriage. The leanest season was when he became disabled about 10 years ago. He filed for disability but we had no guarantee he would be approved. So, for 1 1/2 years we waited and prayed. After two denial letters he was finally approved.




I learned many lessons during that time which have served me well in the recent years. By far, the spiritual lessons were the most valuable. When fear would try to choke out my peace,  I would remind myself of the faithfulness of God to the children of Israel in the desert. And then I would set my thoughts on the present moment and thank God for what He had provided TODAY. Learning how to live in the present moment is a great practice to calm our fears along with recalling the faithfulness of God in past trials. 



So then, do not worry about tomorrow,
 for tomorrow will worry about itself. 
            Today has enough trouble of its own.  

Matthew 6:34
 NET


 We are living to see that our prosperity is not dependent on the president in office, how hard we work, the stock market or even the position we hold in our current job.  Now we are given the opportunity to trust God and not trust in man or ourselves. 

There is a lot of suffering that has been connected with this virus. A lot of fear, loss of jobs, loneliness, uncertainties and the loss of loved ones. We have little control over some of these things. But, we do have a measure of control over the atmosphere in our homes.  I was thinking about the value of 'making a home' during hard times and the value of a homemaker. We are given the privilege of bringing comfort to our families while everything outside may be raging outside. A favorite meal and special dessert go a long way in bringing some joy to a family's heart. Clean sheets and a tidy bedroom are by far one of my favorite comforts of home. Soft, encouraging words. Singing hymns. Praying for each other.  Purposefully looking for ways to serve those we love within our walls. A favorite television show to watch together. And my favorite, the Word of God being read each day to instruct, comfort, and encourage us. 

 It may be tempting to spend all our time watching the news or searching the internet for the current death toll. But, what a waste of our days this would be. Instead, God has work for us to do today. We have a family to care for, neighbors to serve through prayer and sharing resources if needed and most importantly sharing peace with God which is found through faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. We may never live through another time like this the remainder of our days. Let's not waste it. 




One day (if God gives us life and breath) we will tell the story of God's faithfulness through the 2020 pandemic. 

*~*~*~*~*~*~*


She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. Proverbs 31:14





 Here are some things I am doing to stretch what we have and make things last longer. 

1. Use less mayo and mustard on sandwiches. Apply this with most things. I'm using less toothpaste for each brushing, less shampoo, less dish soaps,etc. I get just as clean and end up stretching what I already have. 

2. Use beans to replace one protein source at a meal. The meat isles were looking pretty bare the last time I was in a grocery store over three weeks ago. There were very little canned beans but I did find some dry beans in the bag. I had started buying beans in bulk before this crisis because they are less expensive. I would cook them in my Instant Pot and then freeze in half cup portions. Lentils did not cook well in the Instant Pot but garbanzos did great and held their shape. I made a large batch and froze them in 1/2 cup portions. 

3. Toilet Paper. Due to health reasons, my husband and I would have a very difficult time standing in line for 1-2 hours to buy toilet paper. My girls and their husbands and my nephew and niece have been shopping for us.  I do not want to ask them to stand in lines for us because they have their own families to provide for (we are only allowed 1 package of toilet paper per store visit). So, I have come up with a method that is stretching what we have on hand. 

Personal Bidet

 If you are out of TP or want to make yours last longer then you can try these ideas. 

 Use a hand held bidet or find plastic squirt bottles (think YELLOW MUSTARD plastic squeeze bottles or something similar. A plastic bottle with a bulb type bottom is preferred but others will work) instead of toilet paper. Fill them with water and store close to the toilet for the big jobs. There is a learning curve here. You may need to refill it 3 or 4 times to get clean. 

Cut up old T shirts and put in a small, pretty box with a lid near the toilet. 

 Those of you who are old like me will remember how we handled cloth diapers when our children were young. Do the same thing with the big job cloths. I keep a bucket with water and bleach in the garage for soiled cloth. For small jobs you can just put the cloths in a plastic bag and hang on the shower faucet until you wash. Transfer to another bag daily that you put in the garage until you have a load to wash. 

* Now, don't get grossed out at this because over 75% of the world does not use T.P. We have been spoiled in the US. By using these methods I have been able to make one roll stretch for 5 days in our 2 person household.





4. Use perishables first. Examples would be fresh bread, fruit, veggies... anything that would perish.  Next, use the freezer items and lastly use your canned goods.

5. Save leftover coffee for the next day. Use in some cakes. 

6. VEGETABLES: I thought we were over our gardening days (except for a few plants) but this crisis has put vegetable gardening back to the front of our thinking.  Seeds are sprouting of kale, melons, Okra, 2 kinds of squashes. Hope to buy more seeds for carrots, spinach and lettuce. There is no way to know how long this virus will last. President Trump initially said he expected it to 'wash through' by July or August. A garden is a good idea to plant now. 




7. NAPKINS:  Another item that is hard to find.  I found some material in my fabric stash to make cloth napkins. You can use kitchen wash cloths, too. You can also use wash clothes or cloth napkins instead of Kleenex and paper towels (set aside for this specific use). 

8. KOTEX:  I made cloth pads when my husband became disabled nearly 10 years ago. This is another item that is very difficult to find on the shelves right now. You can find patterns online or even make your own. I used old towels for the inside to provide an absorbent lining.  I did not sew on snaps but just use a safety pin to secure it in place. 

9.  MEAT: Use smaller amounts of meat in your recipes. You can cut your meat in a recipe in half or three quarters in most casserole recipes without noticing a difference.  Be creative and look for new recipes from other cultures that use meat as a garnish rather than the main star.  Replace the meat with more vegetables or starches you may have on hand if it's not a casserole... think stir fry.  Go meatless every other night by making a pot of beans. 

We can't eat too many beans for blood sugar reasons but this was a favorite recipe I used to make all the time when the children were young. Laine used to have a frugal website. I learned so much from her. 

Laine's Beans

3 cups of pinto beans (cleaned and washed)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 an onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. oil (sometimes I used to use bacon fat)
Water to cover about 2 inches above beans in a big pot

Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cover for 1 1/2 - 2 hours.  After the beans are tender and cooked, add 1 1/2 Tbsp. of salt. (This is the secret to beans that are not tough.  The salt is added at the end of the cooking process).  My note: I would mash about 1/4 of the beans to make it's own 'gravy'. These freeze beautifully to use in other recipes or eat alone with a batch of cornbread. Top with shredded cheese and tortillas on the side. 




10. BREAD:  I rarely eat bread but my husband and mother still do. Thankfully I still have 3 bread machines so my daughter picked up some bread flour and yeast and I will be making some homemade bread when our bread runs out.  When my children were living at home I used to make a lot of homemade bread and pizza dough to stretch our budget.

This is Laine's bread recipe. I've used this recipe for years. 

LAINE'S BREAD

1 cup warm water
2 Tbsp. oil
3 Tbsp. brown sugar 
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 cup whole wheat flour or white flour
2 cups bread flour (or skip the whole wheat and use 3 cups of bread flour) 
2 1/2 tsp. yeast. 

I put this in my bread machine in the order given. Place on DOUGH CYCLE. Once the dough cycle is finished, place in a greased bread pan. Let rise about 30 minutes in a warm oven. Turn oven to 375 degrees and bake for 30 minutes or until the top is brown. 

Quote from Laine, "It's not the money that comes in but the money that goes out that counts." 


Use water pitchers instead of bottled water

11. CLEANERS:   I am running low on Ajax to clean my sinks and my toilet. We have gone over our monthly budget in preparation for this virus so I am trying not to spend anything else until our next paycheck. I checked my cleaning supplies and found a large box of baking soda that I used for homemade laundry soap (which I no longer make). I was happy to find a replacement to swish in my toilets.

12. Double and triple batches of food and then freeze in meal portions. This helps prevent the temptation to pick up fast food. 

13. Hand wipes: There are many tutorials on YouTube. I'll share just one. 

https://youtu.be/SVZh7JJpuP4

14. Dairy: Add water to stretch your milk. Make your own yogurt. Use jam in place of butter. 


15. Make your own face mask. Tons of tutorials on YouTube. Here is a no sew one. 

https://youtu.be/inJQexwK8Yg



16.  What else can you stretch by adding water? Liquid hand soap, liquid dish soap, floor cleaner? I've been using a tablespoon of floor cleaner in a squirt bottle for years. It works just as well as if I used the recommended amount. Same thing goes for laundry detergent. 

17. Save vegetables peels and ends in a bag in the freezer and extra liquid from canned vegetables. Chicken or beef bones. When you have a full bag then make broth soup. Save leftover juices from chicken and beef to add to broth for flavor. I make a lot of soups when we are trying to save money. Homemade broth reduces the cost even more. One piece of meat added to canned and fresh veggies will feed a family for several days if not longer, depending on if you add homemade bread of rolls or rice or noodles to the soup. 

18. I use the envelope method in my budget planning. There are many small areas where I save monthly for a possible upcoming bill.   For instance, I set aside a certain amount of money a month to build the veterinary bill. I also have a household savings (different from our monthly savings for big items) where I save for household needs like a new throw rug or new sheets. During this crisis I have chosen to use this money to stock up on commonly used items instead. This way my girls don't have to shop as much for us because I am buying extra's for the upcoming month.   

19. I have been trying new recipes since I have more time at home. I try to make as much as I can from scratch. My list will look different than yours since I have food intolerances. But, here are some ideas to cook from scratch that might work for your family:  spaghetti sauce, hummus, Sloppy Joes, Ranch dressing, any kind of soup you buy can be made homemade and is healthier and less expensive, salsa, granola instead of boxed cereal, bread crumbs from the end pieces of bread (freeze until you have enough to make one batch), hamburger buns, homemade tortillas... these are just a few ideas. 

20. Buy blocked cheese and grate it yourself. It's usually less expensive this way. Freeze in baggies in 1 cup portions for recipes. 





21. LAUNDRY DETERGENT: I used to make my own detergent for years but I stopped because it wasn't getting our clothes clean smelling. I think it was the well water we were using at the time. But, I am prepared to go back to using that recipe if I run out of detergent. There are tons of recipes online. Here is one I used to use from the Duggars: 


Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap



  • 4 cups hot tap water
  • 1 Fels-Naptha soap bar (grated)
  • 1 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
  • 1/2 cup Borax
  • You can add 10 drops of essential oils but it's optional

Directions:

Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted. Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda, and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover, and let sit overnight to thicken. Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of the way with water.

I have never stopped making my own laundry stain remover because it works better than what I have found in the store and it's simple to make. I always have the ingredients on hand. 


Spot Remover


2/3 c. Dawn detergent

2/3 c. ammonia
6 Tbsp. baking soda
2 cups warm water

I mix it together in a quart canning jar and leave it on the shelf above my washing machine with an old toothbrush in it to scrub the stain. I don't leave it on the stain overnight. 


22. I think all barber shops are shut down. I did a blog post years ago on how to cut a boy/man's hair. Here is a link to it. Cutting my husband and boy's hair saved me so much money.

http://www.awomanthatfearsthelord.com/2011/10/frugal-fridays-how-to-give-haircut.html



23. Use water to stretch make up items. Add water to your foundation. Wash your face first with a washrag and THEN add moisturizer, using half as much. Put foundation on while your face is still moist. Or better yet, don't wear make up as often while you are home. Mascara can be also used to line your eyes with a small eyeliner brush. Depending on the color of the mascara you might be able to use it for eyebrows. Lipstick can be used as blush. 

24. Lower electric output in your home. If you have 4 light bulbs in a ceiling fan, then unscrew 3 of them. Hand wash dishes or let air dry if using dishwasher. Turn your water heater down to 120 degrees. Turn off heat during the day and turn down lower than normal at night/or off. Open drapes to let the sun shine in and avoid using lights during the day.  We rarely turn on the lights during the day.

25. Save plastic bags to use instead of freezer and sandwich bags. For instance: empty plastic liners from cereal boxes, bread bags, vegetable plastic bags given in the produce section, reuse sandwich and freezer bags by washing them and drying them. Just don't use ones previous used for meat or dairy products or eggs. 

26. Wash your own car. 

27. Bathe in much less water (2 or 3 inches) or time your showers for 3-5 minutes. 

28. If you just need fruit and veggies between shopping trips, then try your local fruit stands. Ours are in the country and are outside under tarps so it's hopefully safer concerning the virus. 




29. Make all your bread items: Hamburger buns, hot dog buns, tortillas, naan bread, muffins and sandwich bread. 


30. Use substitutes if you run out of an item. Eggs can be replaced with gelatin eggs, oil can be replaced in baking items with applesauce. Here is a substitute list that may be helpful. 

https://www.browneyedbaker.com/common-baking-substitutions/



Last but certainly not least... GIVE what you can to help others. Use the methods above to stretch what YOU use so you will have extra to give to others. 


Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.   Luke 6:38 ESV

*~*~*~*~*~*

 Here are just a few ideas to serve your family and others in the coming weeks. What a 'once in a lifetime' opportunity for many to be home with the family without all the interruptions that this busy world throws at us. I would love to hear if you have any ideas to add to this list. 

~  Read bible stories as a family (especially stories of faith in the face of danger like Daniel in the lion's den, Esther, The Passover story in Exodus, and so many more)
~ Pick a character trait of Jesus to study as a family. 
~ The Bible Project has a lot of great YouTube videos on tons of topics that your whole family will enjoy. They also have special ones just for children.
~ Quiz each other on bible facts at the dinner table. You can find questions on the internet.
~ Memorize a passage of Scripture together that relates to this trial (verses on topics such as peace, trusting God, do not worry,etc.)
~ Listen to the audio bible together at your meals,
~ Send cards and scripture notes to members of your church family.
~ Encourage your children to call their grandparents and check on them.
~ Shop for your parents, grandparents and chronically ill so that the most vulnerable do not have to leave the house.
~ Begin praying together for those in authority over us as a nation. Pray for our spiritual leaders.
~ Call family, friends and neighbors for their prayer requests. Pray for them at the dinner table as a family.
~ Our church has a directory so our pastor has asked us to call 3 people before and after our picture in the directory. This is a creative way to stay in touch with church family. 
~ Call and check on the elderly and disabled in your church. If you can't meet their needs then find someone who can.
- Call neighbors weekly to see if they have everything they need. Ask how you can pray for their family. 


She is unafraid of winter's effect on her household,
 because all of them are warmly clothed.
Proverbs 31:21
 ISV


It was lovely chatting with you again after all these years. I would love to hear from you. How are you providing for your household during this pandemic? How are you doing with the Shelter in Place? 

Blessed to be home!
Georgene















Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Proper Goodbye!



I have been searching for the right words to write this post. I'm still not sure I have found them. But, I don't like unfinished business so I'm just going to jump in with both feet (or hands! 😁) and see what the Lord will do.


 
The past months since my last post have been filled with good... much good! I've learned more about the Lord and how to follow Him through my daily life, the blessing of caring for my husband, family birthdays, serving, teaching, caring for my home and a host of other 'good' things. Life has been very full... and very good!  I'm always grateful and amazed when I look back on all the Lord allows me to do.

The good things, although they have kept me busy, have not kept me from writing. This is the part I've had a hard time writing because I haven't wanted to sound like I'm complaining. I finally just decided (after writing and rewriting this paragraph) that I would just be transparent! More than two years ago I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and recently I was diagnosed with Small Fiber Peripheral Neuropathy. In between, I hurt my knee while gardening and developed Plantar Fasciitis which limited my mobility even more. The medication I was on for the Fibromyalgia caused my already fuzzy thinking to worsen.  The pain, fatigue and foggy thinking have changed the way I do life...which has changed the way I spend my days...which has changed the way I save money...which has an affect on writing blog posts!

                 
My son and his family came for a visit.
This blog (Living on Less Money) shared the highlights of things I did to stretch our smaller income once my husband became disabled. It chronicled our journey from living LARGE to living on much LESS.  Most of what I wrote about were labor and time intensive tasks that stretched our income in one area to give us more in another area. That worked out fine at the time because I had the physical strength and the time to invest. But, now the pain gets worse when I stand on my feet for longer than 5-10 minutes and my doctor wants me to stop working before the pain starts. I also have chronic pain in other parts of my body. So, this is where I've had to make quite a few changes. I've had to decide between tasks such as making meals vs. making my own laundry detergent...washing the truck vs. washing our clothes, etc. I'm trying hard to learn how to downsize my life and activities to only what is truly necessary. What great lessons to learn at any season of life!!

 The chronic pain reminds me of a spoiled child who screams for your entire attention and I can easily stay focused on it... BUT... God is teaching me to turn that focus onto Him and loving others...even on those days I would rather stay in bed...ESPECIALLY on those days!  He is teaching me to turn the complaints into thankfulness...to focus on what I CAN do instead of what I CAN'T do and to do even the smallest of tasks out of love for Him and for His glory! I do it all so imperfectly! But, I am gaining so much more spiritually than I am giving up physically!
So, I am searching for new ways to live UNDER our means without using a lot of physical effort or time. One way is through contentment with what is already in my hand. For instance, I have old floor mats in my truck. They are very worn but they are still doing the job so why replace them? In years passed I would have replaced them to keep up appearances but it's not a necessity and I can get some more wear out of them. So, I'll be content. 

I was able to plant a garden before my knee got hurt. These melons were heavenly!
I've met a lot of poor families as I served at our local food pantry these past few years.   My heart has especially been touched by refugee families who have given up everything for the hope of a safer life in the United States. They come with the clothes on their backs and it takes months...even years... for them to find work and maintain housing. Many end up in shelters because they cannot survive financially. Yet, here I sit with all my comfort and still wanting more... nicer floor mats... when they don't even have a car!

Living UNDER my means! It's definitely a discipline while living in America which always tempts us to want more!

My daughter gave me this hibiscus. I enjoyed it so much                            


Honestly, through all of this, I hope to know and love Jesus more through obeying the hard things in His Word! I want to give more out of our lower income, I want to share with those who have less and to remember the widow and the forgotten.  Whether it's through learning contentment with what I own or depending on Him to provide for my needs or through trusting Him more each day because of the chronic pain... I want to find Him to be enough as I live with less strength, less money and less things!

Oh, to truly be able to say (and believe)....just give me Jesus!
   
*~*~*~*~*

So, what HAVE I been doing since my last post in December 2016?

1. As I wrote above, I still volunteer at a food pantry once a week. I actually visited this food pantry several years ago when we had guests staying for an extended time. They were short of help so I volunteered. They asked if I could come back the next week and I never left. I LOVE the relationships that are being built with the people who come regularly for food and most of all I love the privilege of sharing the Gospel with strangers and repeatedly with those who are becoming friends. I don't believe I could come stay within my grocery budget if I didn't have the extra food  because I haven't raised my food budget in over 8 years! I am doubly blessed being able to serve and then being ministered to through the food!

My garden got out of control this summer. But, we did enjoy kale, okra, asparagus, squash and peppers.
2. I'm relearning some old lessons on how to save money in my grocery budget through a blog called, The Fundamental Home. I saved over $60 this month. I'm hopeful to save even more this next month. A few goals are to make a 2 week menu and only shop once during those 2 weeks! Don't go to the store in between shopping trips. Shop first from your pantry, fridge and freezer before you make the menu and then stick to the menu. Make do with what you have in the house in between shopping trips. Shop at discount stores.

3. I cook a LOT less meat!  I'm probably eating between 2-4 ounces of meat a day and I've cut back my husband's meat intake, too. I've also cut way back on eggs. I used to buy a box of eggs per month which had 6 flats. I would use mostly whites and throw away the extra yolks. The eggs were imperfect so I bought them inexpensively. The egg store closed down and so I'm paying twice the price at the store. So, now I rarely eat eggs for breakfast and I've stopped making as many low carb treats with coconut flour which soaks up the eggs. My eggs last a lot longer. Good results have come from both of these changes. My blood pressure is back to normal and so is my cholesterol.


4. I try to double my recipes as much as physically possible. This not only helps on nights when I'm physically zapped but it also helps resist the temptation to go out to eat. I try to always keep cooked hamburger or leftovers in the freezer for a quick meal. I also either roast my own chicken or pick one up at Costco to keep bags of cooked chicken in the freezer for a quick meal. When I make a salad I will chop up enough salad veggies for 3 days. I make a frittata once a week so I don't have to cook breakfast for 3 mornings but instead just warm it up!

5. My daughter in love inspired me to reupholster my lawn chair. I found a YouTube video that gave easy to follow instructions.



Replacement Sling Cover



6. My sewing machine was freezing up. I was sure I would need to find another one. I decided to take it apart and see if oiling it would help. While oiling it I discovered that some thread was lodged in between some of the gears. It now works fine since oiling and removing the thread.



7. I did take advantage of the free end of the year tax preparations and filing through a local county agency. Your local library may offer information after the first of the year.  It always involves a couple hours of sitting while they fill in the forms, which is hard on my husband, but I think we have found a way to work around it next year. This saves me quite a bit of money.

8. I've used Quick Books Business Pro for years to balance my checkbook and keep track of our expenses. Our version was nearly 10 years old and starting to do some quirky things. There was no way I could afford the business version on our present income so I bought the version for home finances. Wow! What a challenge to learn a new program when your brain is not working like it used to! But, by God's grace, (and many phone calls to their technical support and help from my daughter) I was able to figure it out. I love Quick Books for not only balancing my checking book but it also shows me exactly how much I am spending in different categories.

My in-laws blessed us with 2 visits this summer!
9. My own personal make up is a place I can cut back.  In times past I used to buy Bath and Body Works skin care program. It costs between $40-$50.  I love it and would try to make it last a year.  But, it's one of those non-essentials so I found a natural skin care soap and moisturizer at Trader Joe. The soap was around $3 and the moisturizer was $6 (or there about). What a big savings. My skin doesn't feel as soft but in the grand scheme of important things in life... who cares!?! The next goal is to learn how to touch up my hair roots so that I can save $45 every few months. YouTube here I come! :-) Update: I learned how to touch up my hair roots! YAY!

10.  I continue to hang the laundry on the clothesline because our budget can't take the hit of an extra $30 (plus) added to our electric bill from using the dryer! It's so hot during the summer that I hang it inside the garage and it dries within a few hours. This way I don't have to rush out to the garage to start a load first thing in the morning like I do in the winter time.  I have drying racks and clothes lines in the garage that I use more in the winter. I rarely have to use my dryer in the winter. I do my wash on sunny days and hang it out early.

*~*~*~*~*

I just LOVE this recipe!

No Sugar Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (Dairy/egg free)
1 can full fat coconut milk (or I use 1/2 can of Trader Joe Cream of Coconut)
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup sugar free honey (I use 4 tbsp erythritol and 1/4 tsp. stevia)
2 cups almond milk, or coconut milk or flax seed milk
1/4 tsp. peppermint extract
1/3 cup diced avocado
green food coloring (opt.)
1/2 c. dark chocolate sugar free chips (Lilly's or I make my own by using 4 squares of baking chocolate with no sugar, 1 tablespoon of Coconut Butter, 1/4 tsp. stevia or more to taste and I shred some parafin wax into it. Melt in microwave and pour onto a small tin with wax paper. Freeze. Chop into small pieces.)

I use the kind of ice cream maker with the tub you put in the freezer.


*~*~*~*~*

This is a flavorful and spicy chicken recipe! It definitely will be a keeper!

Oven Roasted Chicken Shawarma

*~*~*~*~*

LOVE this salad! The spice on the chickpeas is so good!

Middle Eastern Spiced Chickpea Salad

*~*~*~*~*

So, this may be my last blog post on how to save money unless the Lord changes things! I plan on leaving this webpage up as long as it continues to get traffic.  It's been a joy getting to know you through sharing my journey of living on less money! I hope you keep in touch!


As always...I am blessed to be home!
Georgene





I would love to hear from you if you ever have any questions!
akeeperathome@aol.com
















Thursday, December 1, 2016

When Husbands Sin Against Us

Husbands sin! It's a fact! Another fact may be that the person they sin against the most is their wives...and vice a versa.

A wife often has an arsenal of weapons to punish her husband for his sinful responses or actions.  A cold stare, a sarcastic remark, steaming silence, a sullen distant mood or withholding physical intimacy. The world we live in is quick to promote this kind of response along with our fleshly pride.  Just happen on an afternoon talk show (not on purpose, of course!) and you’ll see how audiences thrive on one person standing up for their rights against another. But as wise godly women know...God’s ways are not man’s ways and the fruit of those kind of actions bring nothing but discord and unhappiness in a marriage...not to mention sinning against God.




I've often shared how the beginning years of our marriage were spent fighting and fussin’ with one another. Something would be said in a tone that the other spouse didn’t like, then they would pop off with a smart remark and the fight was on. I eventually developed a small amount of self-control (by God’s grace) and began to hold my tongue but my heart was still not right because I remained bitter and distant from my husband. Without realizing it, this became my way of repaying him for the wrong I felt he had done. My response was sinful and did not bring glory to God not to mention the devastating effects it had on my marriage.

 God's Word teaches that His children must "turn to him the other cheek." (Matt. 5:39)  Would that mean instead of avenging yourselves, prepare for another assault, and bear it patiently?  If someone strikes us on the cheek and we turned to him the other cheek then aren't we preparing for another assault?




Is it reasonable to expect that our husbands, who are sinners just as we are, will offend us repeatedly over the coming years? Forget the coming years...what about just today? What if we kept before us the reality that our husbands are sinners (saved by grace) and will likely sin against us today? What if we prayed for our hearts to be ready to forgive...and turn to them the other cheek?

Do not say, "I will repay evil"; wait for the LORD, and He will save you. Proverbs 20:22

I know that this topic brings up many questions like all the 'what ifs' concerning abuse.  Please understand that I am not addressing physical abuse in a relationship. I am talking about the common, everyday unkind, word (maybe even harsh), or perhaps an angry, impatient, demanding tone or the neglecting of a duty towards a wife.  Why not cover those offenses with love? Why not turn the other cheek?

 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8



The reason we forgive is not because our husbands deserve it...but because Christ has forgiven us! No sullen looks, no cold shoulder, no bitter words from the cross for our weaknesses or offenses that He suffered so horribly for.    He who knew no sin took the punishment our sins deserved...and died in our place! We forgive our husband as God in Christ has forgiven us! 

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

We may have long established habits of responding in sinful ways. We need God's grace and His Word to change. It will not come out of our own strength for without Him we can do nothing. Renew your mind in a few of the Scriptures I have shared and then pray for God to change you and then practice obedience. I continue to practice this truth...very imperfectly!



 Oh, what a glorious fragrance when the life that is pouring forth from us is not our flesh but the life of Christ. A fragrance that permeates our homes and the lives of all those within the walls of our home.

"Lord, please help us to bring you glory by not holding unforgiveness towards our husbands when they sin against us. Help us remember  the way you have forgiven us and help us to extend that grace to our husbands. Help us to remember that we daily sin against our husbands and are in need of their forgiveness, too!  In Jesus Name. Amen."


Do not say,  “I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay the man back for what he has done.”  Proverbs 24:29 

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1


*~*~*~*~*

Hello!

Life is speeding by this time of year even though I am moving slower. I'm getting less done but it still gives me a grateful heart when I look at what the Lord does enable me to do throughout the month instead of what I can't do. Christmas is nearly here with all the blessings of warm homes, heavier blankets and earlier evenings spent snuggled indoors.The vegetable garden and all it's work is behind me except for some tree trimming and a few beds needing to be prepared for the winter months.   I've been working on getting as much done ahead of time for the holidays as I can.  How about you? 

Here are a few things I was able to accomplish this month (by God's grace)...


1. I blanched and froze tomatoes from the garden this summer. So, I recently made a batch of spicy tomato sauce and pressure canned it.  I had leftover basil and parsley from the recipe which I froze in ice cube trays with  olive oil poured over them. When they were frozen I placed them in a freezer bag and marked the bags for the freezer. This has preserved the herbs better than putting them in water. I can now easily toss them in a pot of homemade soup.

My amazing mother in love!

2. This summer I also harvested the poblano peppers from our garden to use later in Chile rellenos, I broiled the peppers and then wrapped them in a moistened tea towel and placed them in a freezer bag to 'steam'. Once cooled I peeled off the skins and took out the seeds. I should have remembered to take out the seeds BEFORE I broiled them. I then froze them with parchment paper in between.

3. I was given 2 large grocery sacks of Granny Smith apple from a friend. They were so sweet and delicious! I peeled, sliced and froze them in 6 cup portions for future apple pies for the holidays (regular and low carb). I also made a low carb apple crisp.

A recent family visit!

4.  I saved the broth from some chicken I boiled. The cold, winter months are just around the corner and I love to make large pots of soup to use for our lunches during the week. The granular broth has a long list of items I don't want to consume and one can of liquid broth had soy (which I am trying to not eat).  So, I am hoping to make more of my own broth to freeze in the coming months. I also froze my turkey bones to make broth later.

5. I've made a change when it comes to my laundry detergent. I've been making my own detergent for maybe 10 plus years? But, my husband commented a few months ago that his shirts were not smelling like they were clean. I had also been noticing that my towels had a different smell that I didn't care for. So, I wanted to let you know I am no longer making my own laundry soap but I am purchasing the SUN brand of laundry detergent. It's inexpensive and our clothes are smelling clean (not like perfume, but clean). Hubby is pleased. Sometimes saving money is not worth it in the long run if the end results are lacking (or stinky!).

Butterfly Palace with grandchildren


6. Another change is the homemade cleaner (half white vinegar/half water) I was using to mop my laminate wood floors. The vinegar and water just never seemed to make the floors look clean. So, I purchased Murphy's Oil Soap and added just 1 capful to my homemade cleaner. What a difference that made. The bottle will last a very long time since I am only using a capful.

7. I cashed in my SWAGBUCKS for a $10 Amazon gift card which I will use on an Amazon order.  I made SWAGBUCKS my home page so it reminds me to watch a video or do a survery everyday to earn more Swagbucks. I love Swagbucks because it's an easy way to earn gift cards at home.  Here is my referral link. I get credit if you sign up through this link. (Thank you!) 

SWAGBUCKS REWARD LINK

8. I had someone ask me recently what my secret was to making a fluffy chocolate chip cookies. I've gathered a few tips over the years from friends and articles on the internet.  I use half butter and half shortening instead of all butter. I also add about 1/4 cup more flour. Lastly, I refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes before I bake the cookies and then I keep the dough in the fridge in between filling up the cookie trays. I hope these tricks work for you as well as they have worked for me.

9. I love MAGIC ERASERS to clean my fridge, walls and cabinets. They don't last very long, though. I noticed the ends wear out before the middle. This time I cut off both ends and I'm still getting use out of the middle instead of just throwing the eraser away.

10.  Organic butter lettuce was on sale for 2/$5. A thought came to me as I was starting to throw away the roots. I planted them to see if they would grow more leaves AND THEY DID! I put some organic snail bait around them to deter the snails and the leaves are getting so big. Who would have thunk! *smile*



Repurposed, Saved and Reused!
~ Melon rinds, egg shells, carrot peels, broccoli stalks, coffee grounds, ling, apple peels, cabbage cores,etc. were buried in the ground to compost over the winter. I am laying newspaper on top and then grass clippings and leaves on top of the newspaper. It will all be composted into the ground by the time summer gets here.
~ Powdered sugar bags, broccoli salad bags, brownie mix bags: washed out and reused. 
~ Mayo jars: washed/reused to store egg yolks until garbage day. ( I use more egg whites than the yolk)
~ Plastic vegetables bags (from the produce department): I used these for tons of things. 
~ All glass jars are rinsed and reused to store grease drippings.  
~ Leaves are falling so I'm putting them around the artichokes and other plants to protect them from frost and the colder temperatures. 
~ Newspapers saved for lining the garbage can, composting, under the cat box, etc. 
~ Rubber bands from the newspapers and vegetables are saved to reuse. 
~ Large shallow boxes from Costco are reused to transport food in our truck to holiday parties/ or mom's. 
~ Laundry water is recycled to plants.

Burying compost
 

NEW RECIPES:

Low Carb Sloppy Dog Casserole

14 ounces of hot dog, cut on bias (I only had 2 organic hot dogs and 2 hot links on hand, not organic!)
1 pound ground beef (I used ground turkey)
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped (didn't use)
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
8 ounces tomato sauce
1/4 cup. sweetener (I used Erythritol. Adjust to desired sweetness)
1/2 tsp. molasses ( Adjust to desired sweetness)
2 tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. mustard
1 tbsp. worcestershire
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese (I used FOLLOW YOUR HEART dairy free cheese on my portion)

Fry the hot dogs first to brown and set aside. Saute ground beef, bell pepper, onion and garlic. Mix together the remaining ingredients except the cheese. Place in 2 quart casserole and place cheese on top. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes until heated through.



Mr. Snoopy enjoying a long winter's nap!


JALAPENO JELLY
I made a few batches for Christmas gifts from the jalapeno harvest from our garden. 

1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped jalapeno pepper
6 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 (6 fluid ounce) liquid pectin

1. Boil peppers for 2 minutes.
2. Add pectin. Boil 1 minute
3. Pour into hot jars.
4. Water bath for 5 minutes.

Homemade Chocolate Pie




HEALTHY PUMPKIN GOOEY BUTTER CAKE (Low Carb)

             (by healthy indulgences, http://healthyindulgences.net/)
This was heavenly! Next time I will make half of the crust and see if I like a thinner crust.  I also let the filling cook about 5 minutes longer than stated. It did well freezing it, too.

Crust Layer
  • 1/4 cup (57g) of unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 ounces (57g) of cream cheese, softened (I used dairy free)
  • 2 cups (8 ounces blanched almond flour, gently packed into cup and leveled) (I used my baking blend with pumpkin seed flour)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup Erythritol or 1/2 cup xylitol / and 1/4 tsp. stevia extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Filling Layer
  • 8 ounces (227g) cream cheese ( I used dairy free)
  • 1 stick (113g) unsalted butter, melted (i used dairy free)
  • 1-15 oz can (432g) of pumpkin puree
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup erythritol or 1/2 cup xylitol /and 1/4 tsp. stevia
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
Instructions
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
For the crust
  • Melt butter and soften cream cheese in microwave.
  • Powder natural sweetener blend in coffee grinder and mix into batter.
  • Mix together until smooth, then add beat in vanilla, egg, sea salt, baking powder, and almond flour until a dough forms.
  • Scrape into an 8 by 8 metal pan and spread out over the bottom.
  • Bake for 15 minutes and remove to cool.
For the filling
  • Soften cream cheese and melt butter in microwave.
  • Grind natural sweetener blend in coffee grinder or magic bullet.
  • Beat cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth and without lumps.
  • Add eggs, vanilla extract, and melted butter, and beat until incorporated.
  • Next, add natural sweetener blend, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, and mix just until smooth.
  • Rap the pan down on counter top a couple times to get out air bubbles.
  • Pour pumpkin mixture over crust and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until center jiggles a bit when you move the pan. It will set up and sink down upon cooling overnight in the refrigerator.
*~*~*~*~*
Some interesting things I read this past month:
How Not to Go over Budget
How Can I Know Which Bible Promises Belong to Me?
Housecleaning Central
Uses for oranges
Secrets to Continuously Productive Veggie garden
Everyday Life Hacks
Depression Era Dishes 
13 Incredible Useful Tension Rod Ideas 
100 Things You Can Compost

Well, that's it for now! Thanks for stopping by, Ladies! I hope your holidays and homes are filled with a thankful and joyful heart because of what God has done for us in Christ Jesus. Bye for now!


BLESSED TO BE HOME!
Georgene


 

Above Scriptures are taken from the ESV Bible.
A Woman that Fears the Lord
http://awomanthatfearsthelord.com
Copyright 2002. Rewritten in 2016. Georgene Girouard. You may copy and share this article in it’s entirety.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

TITUS TWO: Loving our husbands


I've been studying 1 Peter this summer and what a delight to revisit some of the verses that meant so much to me as a young bride when my marriage was very tumultuous. I was recently captivated by a phrase found in 1 Peter 1:22 which says to "love one another earnestly". The Greek word earnestly means to stretch yourself to the limits,without slack (taunt).  I began to think how this verse could be obeyed in different relationships but the one I kept coming back to was my husband. Was I earnestly (stretching myself to the limit,without slacking up) for him? When was the last time I had really worn myself out to love him beyond the normal ways I daily care for him (laundry, meals, housekeeping and other wifely duties)?



I find it's easy to get caught up in caring for his needs and home, extended family and ministry opportunities to where the stretching myself to the limits for my husband become less of a priority.  Now, if you asked my husband (and I have) if he feels like he is getting my leftovers or that he is less important than others then he would say, 'no'. But, in my heart I was convicted when I read this verse and I know it's because I let myself get so busy that I don't stretch myself to the limits to love and serve him the way I did when I was younger. I'm one tired puppy most days but that is still no excuse because my schedule can be rearranged to put him in a higher place of importance. I'm also learning that there are many ways to stretch myself to the limit for him that don't need physical strength.

~ Submitting to him.  Submission is definitely a way to stretch myself to the limit.
~ I am practicing to think of his plans as more important than my own. To set aside what I am doing to help him when he wants to do it and not when it's convenient for me. (Phil. 2:3-4)
~ To stop what I am doing when he is talking...turning to look him in his eyes...to really listen to what he is saying. Being present.
~ Schedule at the beginning of the week ways to minister to him so he doesn't get my leftover time and strength.


I try hard to not overschedule my week otherwise I lack the strength to love my man beyond the daily round of caring for his physical needs. My habit tends to be that I will schedule just the amount that I think I can physically handle but sure enough 1 or 2 other things pop up and then I am back in survival mode. I am trying to change this pattern by underscheduling (I know that is not a word but it fits) my week! Please pray for me because I need to grow in this area!

So, that is what has been rolling around in this old brain lately. How can I obey this scripture by stretching myself to the limit in the way I love my husband? What actions and words speak to his heart and let him know that he is the most important person in my world? Most wives know what makes their husband happy and I am no exception. If you don't know then just listen to his complaints and find a way to eliminate them.

The wonderful thing is... I am being blessed in the stretching and it's drawing us closer together as I think of ways to bless him.

*~*~*~

Want an organized home in 10 minutes a day?


*~*~*~


These were the best melons from our garden EVER!

What a busy summer! I always declare that the current summer is busier than the last but I think I'm just getting older and so everything seems busier! *smile*

1. I tried a new vegetable this year called Dino Kale. It's a low oxalate kale (lower chance of forming kidney stones). It grew fast and easy but there was no way we could eat all that it produced so I dried it in my food dehydrators.  The nice thing about kale is that it dries quickly. I put the dried kale in freezer bags and into the pantry it went. I'll use it in soups, smoothies or frittatas this winter.

Dino Kale

2. I've been using a tall glass apothecary container to hold our Q Tips. It was difficult to get the swabs out of the bottom of the jar so I was going to buy a new container. Instead, I started thinking about what I had on hand and it dawned on me that a small canning jar might fit the bill! It's the perfect size and I already had it on hand.

3. I'm still on a mission to figure out how to stay within budget on my 5 week pay periods. This is what has been helping:
  • I stock up on monthly essentials during the previous months. These are items I buy every month.
  • I don't shop the sales during that 5 week pay period unless it's an outrageous deal. Last week I found walnuts at .99 for an 8 ounce bag. I grabbed all 10 of the ones on sale and threw them in the freezer. That was a deal I couldn't pass up. But, normally I don't buy extras for those 5 weeks.
  • I don't 'recreational shop' which means that when I go to Walmart I first PRAY when I enter the front door and then I TRY not to look to the 'left or the right' but I just keep focused on my list of essentials. 
  • I wait as long as I can before I go to the store. I try to stock up on vegetables and fruit so that way I only have to go every other week...hopefully!

A summer visit with two friends. We were homeschool moms together.

4. My (low oxalate) tomatoes produced a decent harvest this year. I don't have time to make my homemade Spicy Tomato Sauce until this winter so I blanched the tomatoes and froze them. The tomatoes trickled in, with a few here and there, so I put a small saucepan of water on to boil while I was making dinner and dropped in the few I had collected that morning. Once the skins 'crack' then I would let them cool in the strainer and take the seeds out before I froze them. Easy peasy!

5. We have been buying soaker hoses to eliminate hand watering in our flower and vegetable garden. There were still parts of the garden that required hand watering so I started thinking about how I could make my life easier.  I bought a few more soaker hoses and a 4 port faucet. Now I just have to flip a switch each time I want to change the water to a different area. No more hand watering except for 2 areas in my yard (I'm still trying to figure out how to eliminate those). Sometimes you have to spend money to make your life a little easier so you can save your energy for the most important things in life (like stretching yourself to the limit in loving others).

6. I bought some new curtains for my kitchen. I saved the nice, heavy plastic packaging (with a zipper) for organizing miscellaneous items in my drawers. I was going to give the curtains to the thrift stores when it dawned on me that the curtains in the garage are sun faded. You don't have to look far to find a way to reuse most items.

7.  My mornings are so busy that oftentimes I don't get to the laundry until after lunchtime. This can cause a problem of clothes not drying before nighttime since I hang my clothes on the line. Thankfully, I have a couple of clothes lines strung in my garage so if I hang a load of laundry late in the afternoon it's dry by the next morning. This doesn't work as well in the winter or cooler months.  My electric bill can jump $30 in a month if I use my dryer regularly.
Playing UPWORDS with the grands!

8. We use Magic Jack for our home phone. It has it's quirks which can be frustrating but you can't beat the price. I've never broken down the yearly fee into monthly installments until recently. Now I won't be hunting for a way to come up with the yearly fee. I use Quick Books for my accounting program so I can 'hide' the monthly amount in the register until I'm ready to pay the yearly bill.

9. I buy Truvia at Costco so of course it comes in a large box. When it was empty I cut the top off and used the box to hold plastic bags in one of my drawers. It makes the drawer look neater. I never throw away a small sturdy box. I keep a larger box in the garage that I store them in. I also saved a small square, plastic mushroom container to use in one of my drawers.

10. I needed to update the color of the toilet paper holder. I found a dark brown spray paint (it was called a metallic) to spray paint it.  It looks brand new. I also sprayed a little step stool to match the new colors in my kitchen. 



*~*~*~*~*~*~Saved, Reused and Re-purposed~*~*~*~*~*~*~

- I cut up old underwear to use for rags.
- Scraps of melon rinds, egg shells, coffee grounds, vegetable and fruit peels, shredded paper, dryer lint, vacuum cleaner dirt,etc. were buried in my vegetable beds to build up the soil.
- Tinfoil (washed and reused to cover drip pans under stove burners) or to cover leftovers.
- Plastic storage bags (washed and dried): reused
- Grass clippings are put in a separate bin in the yard (the frame from an old dresser) to use for 'lasagna composting'.
- Newspapers: Lasagna composting, painting, etc.
- Broccoli salad bag, broccoli bag and other vegetable bags washed out to reuse
- Cardboard boxes were flattened and laid down in the garden as a barrier to kill weeds. I put newspapers down first, then the cardboard boxes and then grass clippings on top.
- Heavy string from the dry cat food bag that you pull to open the bag: Used to tie up flower in the yard.
- Cat food bag, plastic based: I use these in my city garbage can for items that are too big for the indoor garbage can or maybe have too much liquid.


 
A nice harvest of butternut squash and a few Granny Smith apples 


  *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~Some fun reading~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

How Does a Family of Four Survive on  $17,000 a year?

How to Make a Dust Ruffle  

Low Carb Recipe Love on Fridays 

Laine's Letters Archive 

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~RECIPES*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

A new recipe we liked:

Chili
2 pounds of ground beef (I used 1 pound of lean ground beef)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
2 to 2 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1 (8 oz.) jar salsa
2-4 tablespoons chili seasoning mix (see recipe below)
I used: 1 cup black beans or kidney beans to keep it lower carb
...but the original recipes calls for:
1 (15 ounce) can light kidney beans
1 (15 ounce) can dark kidney beans

Fry ground beef and onion in a large pot until the beef is browned. Drain grease. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for at least an hour. I kept adding a little bit of water to make sure it didn't burn.

Chili Seasoning Mix 11
Taken from allrecipes.com
Recipe by Sal

1 Tbsp. dried minced onion
1 Tbsp. crushed red pepper
1 Tbsp. dried, minced garlic
2 tsp. white sugar (I used Truvia)
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. dried parsley
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 c. flour (omit for low carb)
4 tsp. chili powder 

*~*~*~
Low Carb Pizza 
This cheese dough crust is the best I've tried so far and it's much easier than the cauliflower pizza crust. I had to use dairy free cream cheese and Monterey Jack cheese which makes a difference in the taste. But,  I'll be making this again. Use your favorite pizza/or marinara sauce and toppings and bake until the cheese is melted.


Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 3 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 425°
  2. In a large microwave safe mixing bowl, combine mozzarella and cream cheese. Microwave for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir to combine. Return to microwave for 1 additional minute.
  3. To the mixing bowl, add egg, almond flour, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, sea salt and black pepper. Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated. (It will be stiff and hard to mix)
  4. Line a 12 inch pizza pan with parchment paper. Spread the "dough" into a thin but even layer, covering the pizza pan. If the dough gets too stringy and unworkable, simply put it back in the microwave for 1 minute to soften.
  5. Bake on the middle rack for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Watch it to make sure that it does not bubble up. Use a toothpick to pop any bubbles, if necessary.Add your favotire toppings and bake another 10 minutes or until cheese melts.

Thank you to my friend Esther who told me about this link with a lot more Cheese Dough recipes.
Cheese Dough Recipes



Big, beautiful tomato vines

What I'm reading this month:

~ When Forgiveness Doesn't Make Sense by Robert Jeffress. I am going through this book a second time to pull out the main points. This will be a book that I will keep in my library to use as a reference. The author establishes what the bible teaches about forgiveness and the barriers to forgiveness and how to overcome them.




Well, that it's for this month! I hope you ladies have enjoyed your summer! Fall is just around the corner with all the wonderfulness of holiday gatherings and warm cozy evenings and pumpkin and... so much more! God is so good to give us different seasons to enjoy!



Blessed to be home!
Georgene