Thursday, June 26, 2014

Enjoying Life!?

I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. Ecclesiastes 3:12-13  ESV


The pace of my summer days is picking up. The garden is thriving and even though it takes a large chunk of time I never tire of the thrill of walking out my back door and picking vegetables from my own garden plot.


I love rocking my grandchildren... no matter how big they get.

I'm a homemaker and I take my work seriously. As most women know, it takes hard work to maintain a home and care for our families. And if you are on a tight budget it takes extra work to stretch your paycheck to make ends meet. You're never caught up. But sometimes you can stay so focused on your work that you lose the pleasure found in toiling for God's glory, the nurturing of your relationships and ... the simple joy in a thankful heart discovering God's daily blessings in the rhythm of your days. 


Tonight my husband asked if I wanted to sit in the spa for a while. I started to say 'no' because there was still so much work I needed to finish but then realized it would be nice to spend time with him. I had a choice to make. Work or relationship? I chose my husband. It was something simple but I enjoyed the time with him so much. Just taking the time to look in each others eyes (instead of the TV) and communicate (without the TV) was so satisfying. 


My family


Work should never be more important than my relationships but sometimes it has been. It's easy to become focused on serving and not nurture the relationship of the one you are serving. And it's easy to get so focused on my tasks that I don't stop to look for the blessings God has enriched my life with each and every day. 


So I've started asking the Lord to open my eyes to hunt for the beauty of His daily gifts and that He would give me a big, thankful heart. I am slowly finding precious spots of joy in my days. Selah!


This evening I ran across this article and LOVED IT! It was exactly what I had on my heart. I love it when the Lord confirms the way He is leading.


Surely My Life is Worth More than 19 Feet of Stuff! Right? 



A Typical Frugal Day 

Here are a few things keeping me busy this month:

1.  I've been thinking about how wasteful I can be with my food at times. This past month I went over my grocery budget so I really worked hard on making what I had on hand last. Instead of cutting off the ends of.. say the tomatoes.. I went ahead and used the entire piece in my recipe or salad. I also had some grapes that were slightly turning brown. The same thing with my lettuce that started to turn color. They weren't rotten but just turning color so I went ahead and continued to use them in my salads. There was no change in the taste whatsoever.

Low carb Berry & Peach Pie
2. So far I've made one batch of sugar free berry jam, one batch of sugar free raspberry jam and a batch of sugar free apricot jam. I have more needing to be done. I've frozen a ton of blackberries, strawberries and raspberries from our backyard garden. We use them in smoothies and low carb muffins and pies. I've also dried two batches of zucchini which I will use in soup this winter. I pressure canned one batch of green beans and a batch of dill pickles.  

3. My God supplies all my needs and it's like a kiss from heaven when I am able to express a need and He fulfills it (sometimes very quickly). My garden hose has a lot of problems and finally sprung a leak. We've had a lot of extra expenses and I just didn't feel like I should put the money in to a new one so I planned on using waterproof duct tape to make it last through this summer. My mom (who knew nothing of my need) asked if I could use a hose. What? YES, please! The same thing happened with my purse which had several worn places. My mom asked if I wanted a newer purse that she didn't like but was in good condition. YES, please! The purse is a bit of a challenge because all my STUFF is not fitting in it well but I'm determined to make it work. I am so grateful. 
Drying zucchini in the garage to keep the house cooler.

4. I still visit my local thrift stores about once a month.I keep a list in my wallet of items I'm looking for. I allow myself $10. Currently I am looking for capris and I keep my eyes open for every day blouses.  I found both this past week plus a shaved ice machine. All for under $10 with my 25% off coupon I keep in my I purse at all times. :-) 

5. The fresh mushrooms that I purchased at the dollar store came in a nifty plastic tray instead of cardboard. I have washed it and plan to use it as a divider in one of my drawers. 

6. I continue to fight to keep my food budget down. I read the other day that food prices have increased 30-40 percent. My budget is definitely feeling it. I'm taking Laine's advice and shopping once a week. I make a menu by first looking through my freezer, pantry and fridge. Then I make my shopping list while browsing the weekly ads. I use a price book to average the price of each item to make sure I'm under budget. Laine suggested I also leave $10 in the budget each week in case I forget something. 
Bracelets my granddaughter and I made. Fabric strips glued onto a plastic shower curtain ring.We painted nails, too.

7. My okra plants are producing but not enough to use for one meal. I slice the okra in bite size pieces each time I pick them and put them in a freezer bag so they are ready to use. I also do this with green beans. I've read you are supposed to blanch your green beans first but I haven't found that necessary.

Previously I posted a picture of my Hydrangea plant but the blossoms became even brighter.

8.  Our menu has been very simple lately so that I can keep our groceries under budget (which I have failed at for 2 months in a row). So I decided to make one of my husband's favorite meals which is Chipolte Burgers with Avocado Salsa. I didn't want to spend money on store bought bread so my husband asked if I'd make Ciabatta Bread. I found a great recipe. He said the bread was 'fantastic'. I put my burger on a bed of lettuce and it was wonderful. Next time I'll add an egg to help hold the burger together.  We would give this recipe a 10!

Ciabatta Bread

Chipotle Burgers with Avocado Salsa

Ciabatta Bread (Italian Slipper Bread) 

9. A friend gave me some newer adult pj's that had a rip at the top by the waste band. The material was so plush and just like new. She thought I might be able to make a pair of pj's for my smallest grandson. She was right. I used to do this when my boys were under 5 years old. I would save our long pants and make pants with an elastic band for the boys out of both of the legs. Waste not, want not. :-)

10. Items I didn't throw away so I could reuse them:

  • Butter wrapper (I use the butter left on the wrapper to oil cookie sheets)
  • Flour package (I cut the bottom out and then cut along one side and cut the top off. I use it for the wrapping to mail packages.)
  •  Banana peels and coffee grounds ( I bury them around my roses). 
  • Rubber bands on the radishes (wash and reuse)
  • Bread wrapper (washed and resused as a food storage bag)
  • Egg shells, coffee filter, vegetable and fruit peelings (compost)
  • Tea bags (save and reuse 3 to make another cup of tea. 
  • Leftover coffee (I put it in a jar and serve it the next day instead of throwing it away). 
I've missed hearing what you ladies are doing in your homes. I always learn so much from you. If you have time will you share what you've been up to? 
Blessed to be home,