Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I'm Living in a Cardboard Box!

That's how I've felt recently.  The process of moving has turned my very neat, clean, orderly home into a chaotic mess.  Want a glimpse of that mess?  Here it is. 

Multiply that by about 1 billion and that's how many cardboard boxes are in our little apartment.  I have more bruises from accidentally bumping into them than I care to count. 

I am very excited about our move though!  In just a few more days, I can start unpacking and (hopefully) life will return to a state of normalcy.

This past month has been a crazy experience for Lester and I.  We have learned so much!
1.  We have clearly seen God guiding, directing, and providing for us in the process of looking for and buying our first home.
2.  We have discovered that we actually feel like grown-ups now.  Buying a house is a pretty big deal!  We're not just two little kids playing house anymore.  On the serious side of that, we are learning the need for wisdom and discernment in decision making.
3.  We are daily learning new aspects of trust, patience, and contentment.
4.  (On a personal note)  I have learned  am learning to work with "willing hands."  Let me be completely honest with you,  I have failed in this area more than I have triumphed.  Too many times, I have found myself grumbling, complaining, sulking, and growing angry about packing - the work it includes, the mess it makes of my house, the never ending-ness of it all. 

In my Bible study on being a godly woman/wife  I have been focusing quite a bit on the Proverbs 31 woman.  One particular phrase caught my attention the other day as I was reading the passage, and I just had to study it out for myself.

Proverbs 31:13 says, "She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands." 

The last part of the verse, especially the word willing, is what I focused on.  From what I understand, the Hebrew form of the word that willing stems from literally means pleasure.  It also carries the idea of delighting in or taking pleasure in something. 
Some commentaries I read defined her "willing hands" as industriousness.  An industrious person, by definition, is someone who is hardworking and devoted, working tirelessly, energetically, and diligently. 
Matthew Henry shares this view on the Proverbs 31 woman's work in this verse: "She goes about it cheerfully and dexterously, lays not only her hand, but her mind to it, and goes on in it without weariness in well-doing."

I have to say, I am very rebuked when I read of this woman's "willing hands."  Her work is not one of reluctance like mine is so many times.  Her work is something that she takes pleasure in, something that she chooses to devote all of her energy toThe woman who chooses to work with "willing hands" is one who does her husband good (v. 12).  The Christian who chooses to work with "willing hands" is one who demonstrates a fear of the Lord (v. 30).  I must ask myself, am I that woman?  Am I that Christian?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Confessions of a Chips and Salsa Addict

Hi.  My name is Sarah.  I am a chips and salsa addict.
There...I said it. :) 

It is a well known fact that if I get to choose where we are going to eat out, 95% of the time we will be enjoying enchiladas, tacos, or burritos at a Mexican restaurant.  And since I plan the menu around here, you can guarantee that some sort of Mexican dish will make it on the list every week.  (But to be fair...most of the time I scratch that dish out and replace it with something else so that Lester doesn't get Mexican-ed out) :)  He likes Mexican food, but doesn't necessarily LOVE it like I do.

My favorite part of any Mexican restaurant or dish is chips and salsa.  Chips and salsa is the perfect appetizer or snack.  Salty tortilla chips.  Spicy salsa.  I could eat baskets and baskets of it (and, maybe I have before). *blushes*  Once I get started, it is very hard for me to quit snacking on it.  Chips and salsa = happiness.

Lucky for me, Lester loves chips and salsa.  And, I think I've made an addict out of him too. :)

I have a favorite brand for both chips and salsa.  I have always bought the same and never varied from the tried and true...until now.  Lester and I visited my parents a little while ago, and my mom made homemade salsa, which she graciously allowed us to "try."  (You remember how I said its hard for me to stop eating chips and salsa once I start?  We almost completely polished off that bowl of salsa by ourselves)  Oops. :)  I vowed then and there that I would never buy store bought salsa again.  It was so fresh tasting!  So good!  And completely customizable to your own taste!  She shared the recipe with me, which came from the wonderful kitchen of Ree Drummond at The Pioneer Woman.

I just finished making a batch to go with our quesadillas tonight.  Can't wait!  I'm just trying not to think about it so that I don't eat any before Lester gets home. 

Salsa Recipe
  • 1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes With Juice
  • 2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel (diced Tomatoes And Green Chilies)
  • 1/4 cup Chopped Onion
  • 1 clove Garlic, Minced
  • 1 whole Jalapeno, Quartered And Sliced Thin
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro
  • 1/2 whole Lime Juice
Preparation (Did I mention that this is SO easy to make?)

Throw all ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until salsa has reached your desired consistency. 

  • This recipe makes a humongous batch of salsa.  I halved the recipe and came out with 3 cups.  That should last us a few days ;)
  • Be sure to taste the salsa and add/change any seasonings you desire.  I ended up adding some more cilantro and a little more sugar just to cut the acidity.
  • Warning!  Jalapenos are hot.  If you don't like your salsa too spicy, be sure to cut out the seeds and membranes before adding.  Mine is pretty spicy today.  Oh yeah :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Saving by Making: Laundry Detergent!

You have no idea how excited I am about this post!  I have been wanting to tell you about my latest experiment for a long time but had to wait to see if it actually worked first. ;)

As I have mentioned before, I am doing an extended study on what it means to be a godly woman and wife.  I have been tremendously rebuked as well as encouraged by the description of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31.  I have learned that part of God's role for me as a wife is to be a helper to my husband and a guard over my househould.  That is a huge responsibility.

Proverbs 31:27 says, "She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness."
I have begun asking myself everyday if I am pleasing God in the way I am managing my home, because I will be held accountable for it.

Home management obviously encompasses many areas including but not limited to: planning, organizing, preparing, cleaning, and caring - and those few areas are simply umbrella terms for all the responsibilities that God has given me as a homemaker!
In our home, one of my responsibilities is the planning for and purchasing of groceries and items that keep our home running efficiently.  You know, those things you don't think about buying until you've run out?  (ie. Paper towels, toilet paper, napkins, laundry detergent, dish soap, etc)  One way i try to "look well to the ways of [my] household" is by saving money in these purchases.

Recently, I learned that I could make my own laundry detergent to save us money, so I decided to try it!  I love watching the Duggar Family on TLC, which is where I first heard about making my own laundry detergent.  They have a family website that includes a section of some of their favorite recipes.  I went on, found the "recipe" for laundry detergent, and set out to make it myself.  Let me tell you, it was SO easy to make, WORKS, and will definitely save us money (even if it is just in a small way).  Here's how you make it:

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap

I purchased all the items for under $7 and made 10 gallons of detergent.  That's a great deal!

4 cups hot water
1 Fels-Naptha soap bar 
     Note: I couldn't find this particular brand, but did research and found that you could use any of these other brands: Ivory, Sunlight, Kirk's Hardwater Castile or Zote bars.  Just don't use perfumed soaps.  I used Ivory in my "batch")
1 cups Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
     Note: This is NOT the same as arm and hammer baking soda.  You can find super washing soda on the laundry detergent aisle.  It was right next to the Borax when I got it. 
1/2 cup Borax

  • Grate your bar of soap and add it to the 4 cups of hot water.  Stir continually over medium-low heat until dissolved.
  • Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full with hot water.
  • Add the dissolved soap mixture, Super Washing Soda, and Borax.  Mix well until dissolved.
  • Fill the bucket to the top with more hot water and stir to combine.
  • Cover and let sit overnight to thicken
  • Fill an empty, clean laundry dispenser halfway with the laundry detergent.  Fill the remainder with water.
  • Before use, shake well since the laundry mixture will settle and thicken up.
  • For top load washers, use 5/8 cup per load
  • Front load washers, 1/4 cup per load
  • This recipe makes 10 gallons of laundry detergent.
  • If you prefer scented laundry detergent, you can include 10-15 drops of essential oils for every 2 gallons of detergent.  Add it once the soap has cooled.  I didn't try it this time, but I would like to next time.
  • It only took me slightly less than half an hour to make this first batch and most of that time was devoted to grating soap. :) 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Caramel Banana Shortcakes

First of all, I apologize for not having posted in a while.  I have about three posts worth of stuff to tell you, but life has been just a LITTLE bit crazy around here recently. I'll get back on it as soon as I can.  I promise. :)

Secondly, here is why life has been crazy - we bought a house!  It has been quite the whirlwind weekend for us.  We found the house we love, made an offer, and were accepted all within 24 hours.  After months of praying, searching, saving, and studying, we are confident that God has guided us through the process, to this house, at this point.  We are looking forward to seeing how He will use our new house as an instrument for His glory!  We close the end of the month and will be moving in right after that, so - hopefully - in about a month or so, I will be able to post pictures for you to see!

Thirdly, I do have a recipe to share with you today!  A couple weeks ago, while doing my daily blog reading, I ran across this recipe for Caramel Banana Shortcakes by Bridget at Bake at 350.  Being a banana lover and intrigued by the concept of a non-strawberry shortcake recipe, I knew I needed to try it.  My parents came over on Friday night, which gave me the excuse I needed to make it.  I think I speak for all of us, when I say it was GOOD.  We served them up in mini trifle dishes because it is a sweet, sweet dessert.  It was the perfect amount for us to enjoy the deliciousness without feeling like we overindulged.  Maybe you could make it for your July 4th party tonight or another summer get together.  I don't think you'll be disappointed! :)

Caramel Banana Shortcakes
makes 6*

Shortcake Ingredients
  • 2 1/3 c. baking mix (like Bisquick)                 
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup of milk (plus more, if needed)
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana
  • 1 TBSP. butter
  • 16 oz caramel sauce/topping 
  • 2-3 medium bananas, sliced
Brown sugar whipped cream
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
Preheat oven to 425.

Place your mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer.  (This helps the cream whip up faster later)
Mix together the baking mix, cinnamon, milk, mashed bananas, and butter.  I needed to add about another 1 1/2 TBSP of milk before my dough came together.  Dough is very sticky...annoyingly sticky.  Bear with it though, it tastes good. :)
Knead dough about 10 times on a surface covered in baking mix.  Form into a 1/2 in. thick circle and use circle cookie cutters.  *Make as big or as small as you want.  Bridget recommends using a 3 in cutter, and her recipe makes 6 shortcakes.  I made mine a little bit smaller and came out with 8.
Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.  Remove and place on wire rack to cool. 

Making the whipped cream
Beat the cream and brown sugar in the chilled bowl on HIGH just until stiff peaks form.  Watch it or you may end up with brown sugar butter.  My mom's expertise came in very handy at this point, as I had never made whipped cream before.  Thanks, mom! :)

When ready to serve
Heat caramel sauce on stove and slice bananas.
Slice shortcakes in half.  Layer the bottom half with sliced bananas and caramel sauce, place the other half of the shortcake on top.  Finish with whipped cream and more caramel sauce.  Serve and enjoy!