Monday, February 23, 2015

Veggie Soup on a cold day

On super cold Wisconsin days I can't resist a hot bowl of soup! 
3 zucchini                              5 carrots
1 onion                                   1 jalapeno pepper
3 celery stalks                       2 garlic cloves
8 cups of baby kales             10 cups of water
2 cups of salsa                     32 oz of lo sodium/no fat chicken broth
In a large stock pot mix the chicken broth, salsa and water.  Chop all veggies coarsely and add to the broth.  On med heat let simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring periodically.
Super easy, Super Yummy!
(Photo above garnished with grape tomatoes and cilantro)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

We don't use soap, okay we use some soap.

Everyone likes saving money, I know that a strict budget and careful planning have bee a necessity for us over the past few years.  I was talking with a woman today about our cash envelope system that we have been using for the past year.  I explained how we sat down looked at what we were spending money on and found ways to cut spending.  I could tell she was shocked when I told her our budget for house hold items was only $100 a month.  "I can't get out of target for less than that in one shopping trip," say gasped.  Yup that is all we spend on Kleenex, toilet paper, paper towels, dog food, shampoo, conditioner, hand soap, and misc items around the house.  One of my money saving tools has been the Norwex Body Pack. Our entire family doesn't use soap or body wash in the shower, we only use water and a Norwex.  We don't buy household cleaners either, because we use the Norwex EnviroCloth and the Window Cloth for the majority of our cleaning.  These few items have saved my family $$ over the past year as well as helped us live a little greener.  I usually get the question, "what about after using the restroom, do you use hand soap?"  The answer is yes!  But I try to keep our costs down and choose products that are safe for my family.  My goal is to keep as few chemicals in my home as possible, so I make my own foaming hand soap with two simple ingredients Dr. Bronner's Castile soap and water!

All you need are:

1 part castile soap
2 parts distilled water
1 empty foaming hand soap pump

It couldn't be any easier:

Simply fill the bottle 1/3 full of castile soap and then fill the remaining 2/3 with water.  Make sure to leave plenty of room at the top so that it doesn't over flow when you place the pump inside and close the bottle.

On average this will cost you $0.60-$1 for a full bottle of hand soap depending on if you buy your castile soap in bulk or not.
I am cheap, I mean frugal so I spotted nearly empty foaming hand pumps at a local small business that I frequent often and asked if they would keep the bottles for me when they were empty.  They know my money saving addiction so they didn't even blink twice at the request.  I week later they had to pumps ready for me and so the process began.

Monday, February 16, 2015

My Christmas tree is still up?

The beautiful nine foot Christmas tree is STILL erected in my living room.  The bottom six feet are bare and the top three feet are full of decor!  Keep in mind I am only 5'1" and can't really reach the top without a ladder.  When I think to get one, I am always distracted by another project.  The nearly naked tree is the perfect representation of my life over the past seven months.  I have been stretched in every direction over committing myself, which has left me unable to completely dedicate my full attention to any one task at a time. If you ventured through my home today, you would find piles of half done paperwork and nearly finished chores.  Though the past seven months have been an extreme example of my bad habit of over commitment.  Several years ago a good friend of mine told me that I was a super woman, but not Super Woman.  I knew that she was gently trying to tell me to slow down and refocus on the important things in my life. Here I am almost a decade later and her words are echoing in my mind. Again, I have found myself in need of some simplification.  While I was over extended, I have let the home fill with clutter, and now I must get it under control.  It is in times like this that I would like to through all the mess in a big bonfire in the backyard and start over.  But that is not going to happen, one because it is against the law and two if I did we'd be without a few necessities. I dream of organizational flow charts that keep me and my family working as an efficient team.  However, Pinterist images of neatly stacked containers filled with washed fruits and vegetables in a fingerprint free stainless steel refrigerator, hunt me at times like this.  I am not in the pursuit of perfection, just simplicity and efficiency.  Realistically, an organized home is attainable but it is going to have to happen one room at a time.  Today, I will focus on the living room and the almost bare Christmas tree.

Friday, February 13, 2015

More than 50 Shades of Grace

I have to be honest I have never read the book or even know the author's name.  But I do know that I have seen countless posts on social media ranting about the movie, 50 Shades of Gray.  I assume  what I have read in the reviews are true, and I can positively say, I won't see this movie.  Not because I feel that I am any more righteous for publicly stating that I have decided to protest it, but because my heart breaks for our society as we push past boundaries dancing into these shades of gray.  Our fancy footwork swirls our souls  through the black paint of a master artist's pallet as his artwork deceives us in thinking our culpability is merely a shade of gray.  There is a poetic  nostalgia that accompanies the term gray, when applied to our indiscretions.  Calling them gray gives us the opportunity to rationalize and justify.  However, this monochromatic art work of Satan deliberately fools us as we contrast our own  grays to those that are darker.  Gray is the favorite color of deception and is a more pleasant to utilize in conversation than the word sin. The costly price of these shades of gray  is death, but God offers, through Jesus, a vibrant future colored by redemption, sanctification, and life eternal. (Romans 6:22-23)

It is easy and right to look at this sinful phenomenon of the gray scale as a believer and publicly denounce it.  We must be careful though, focusing on the evident sin of others may make us feel better about ourselves for a short while.  But, I am wondering, as we judge the people who have or will support this movie, if we are ignoring the gray hue called condemnation in our own hearts.  If we are unlike an angry crowd lawfully ready to throw stones at the woman caught in her own shades of gray. (John 8)  My mind wrestles with what Jesus might have been thinking as he drew in the sand, and then to thoughts of the guilty woman as she was offered grace.  I am in awe of transformation done in the life of that abused woman because of grace.  I don't agree with this movie.  In fact, my frustration with its content makes me want to toss tables as Jesus did while his temple was being defiled by many shades of gray.  But I am not yet complete or perfect like Jesus and can't ignore the shades of gray in my own heart, while clinching to a stone of  judgment.  I pray that those lost in shades of gray be overwhelmed by shades of grace as we drop our stones in the dust, instead of throwing them.  When the dust settles, will we be like that angry crowd who hold on to pride and simply walk away? Or, will we stay to proclaim the Glory of God through our testimonies of His limitless shades of grace?  It is through the work Jesus has done in our own failures that demands that we overflow with the abundant grace.  The gray scale can be reversed as we  dance on injustices with compassion.  We are transformed with every step toward Christ because He has removed our shades of gray as far from us as the east is from the west.  We can stand confidently pure because He didn't come to condemn us but to offered unmerited favor.  For this reason do protest this book and movie, but in humility and with mercy, so that the world may turn from their shades of gray, and be transformed by Jesus' shades of grace.