Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Desires of My Heart

Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.  ~ Psalm 37:4 

Today, as I was out in the garden weeding in preparation for planting, it hit me, "I'm exactly where I wanted to be.  God gave me the desires of my heart!"  I cried a little bit when I realized how good God has been to us in this way.

About five years ago my husband and I were seriously talking about selling our house (prices were up then) and buying some farmland for cash somewhere in the Midwest.  "What a wonderful way for our children to grow up!"  we thought.  We dreamed of having a little (or big) farmhouse, a huge garden that would provide for our produce needs throughout the year, an orchard where we would pick fruit, and acres of grassy fields to feed the animals we wanted to own: cows and goats for milking and eating, chickens for eggs and eating, pigs for eating, etc.  Of course we didn't have any real experience with any of that, other than very small-scale.

Life has a way of not turning out how you expect, that's for sure.  What seems like such a simple choice can have unforeseen and far-reaching consequences.  Not only OUR choices, but the choices of others.  We never had the opportunity to sell our house, and so we have no way to afford that dream farm, even though prices are really low now. 

But, as I said at the beginning, I was in the garden weeding.  MeIn a garden.  Preparing to plant what will provide food for us in the coming months. As I worked, the sounds of the farm life were all around me.  Turkeys, roosters, guinea all competing to see who could be loudest.  Cows in the distance mooing for whatever reason cows moo.  Sheep and goats baa-ing, pigs snuffling.  All of them free to roam and eat the food that God created them to eat. 

And you know the best part of it?  My son was playing in the dirt beside me.  The child that God gave to me is exactly where he should be at this time in his life.

And then I cried because my husband isn't with us.  He is missing out on his son's life, watching him learn and grow, teaching him about man things.  He is missing out on the good, honest work that comes from living on a farm, and is instead stuck in a city full of strangers, trying to extricate himself from all that has entangled him.  He is missing out on eating real food that will help make him healthy and strong.  But I continue to have faith that he will one day be with us again, hopefully never to part. Because my husband is the desire of my heart.

I've heard it said that God works in mysterious ways, and I'm pretty sure that's true, because He sure doesn't tell me what He's up to, or how He's doing it!  None of this surrounding me today is mine.  I don't own any of it, except the few things I brought with me.  None of the responsibility is mine.  I don't have to worry about the prices that the cows will bring, or of the grains that are being planted in the fields, or if the roof gets a leak.  But yet I'm here, reaping the benefits of such a place.  Yes, I'm working for it, but if I were honest (and I do try to be!) I don't do nearly enough.  But I'm learning something new everyday.  I didn't have to start a farm from scratch and learn how to do everything on my own, the hard way; I'm getting to jump into a fully-functioning farm and learn from experts!

Almost none of my life today is what I thought we would have just a few years ago, but I know that God is taking care of us, and is blessing us.  And as I realized today, He does care about those dreams, and can fulfill them in ways we never imagined.

For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?  But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.  ~ Romans 8:24-25 

Psalm 34

A Psalm of David. Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.
For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.
Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.
For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.
For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.
But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth.
The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming.
The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation.
Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.
A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.
For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the LORD upholdeth the righteous.
The LORD knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever.
They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.
The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.
For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off.
The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.
I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.
Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore.
For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.
The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.
The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.
 The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.
The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him.
The LORD will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged.
Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.
I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree.
Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.
Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.
But the transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off.
But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble.
And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Knowledge Is Power: Part 1

I first remember hearing this phrase on Saturday mornings while watching School House Rock.  Yes, the original shows from 30+ years ago.  Obviously, the show was not the originator of the phrase, but they sure used it!  Back then I don't think I really understood what it meant, but it was forever etched into my mind:  Knowledge is Power!  I have used the phrase myself over the years, and I have come to realize that there are many facets to its meaning.

First, let's look at what these words actually mean.  I am so excited to have found websites to search for the definitions of words from Webster's 1828 Dictionary!  (click on any of the links)

KNOWL'EDGE, n. nol'lej.

1. A clear and certain perception of that which exists, or of truth and fact; the perception of the connection and agreement, or disagreement and repugnancy of our ideas.
We can have no knowledge of that which does not exist. God has a perfect knowledge of all his works. Human knowledge is very limited, and is mostly gained by observation and experience.
2. Learning; illumination of mind.
Ignorance is the curse of God, knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.
3. Skill; as a knowledge of seamanship.
4. Acquaintance with any fact or person. I have no knowledge of the man or thing.
5. Cognizance; notice. Ruth 2.
6. Information; power of knowing.
7. Sexual intercourse. But it is usual to prefix carnal; as carnal knowledge.

POW'ER, n. [The Latin has posse, possum, potes, potentia. The primary sense of the verb is to strain, to exert force.]

1. In a philosophical sense, the faculty of doing or performing any thing; the faculty of moving or of producing a change in something; ability or strength. A man raises his hand by his own power, or by power moves another body. The exertion of power proceeds from the will, and in strictness, no being destitute of will or intelligence, can exert power. Power in man is active or speculative. Active power is that which moves the body; speculative power is that by which we see, judge, remember, or in general, by which we think.
Power may exist without exertion. We have power to speak when we are silent.
Power has been distinguished also into active and passive,the power of doing or moving, and the power of receiving impressions or of suffering. In strictness, passive power is an absurdity in terms. To say that gold has a power to be melted,is improper language,yet for want of a more appropriate word, power is often used in a passive sense, and is considered as two-fold; able to make or able to receive any change.
2. Force; animal strength; as the power of the arm, exerted in lifting, throwing or holding.
3. Force; strength; energy; as the power of the mind, of the imagination, of the fancy. He has not powers of genius adequate to the work.
4. Faculty of the mind, as manifested by a particular mode of operation; as the power of thinking, comparing and judging; the reasoning powers.
5. Ability, natural or moral. We say, a man has the power of doing good; his property gives him the power of relieving the distressed; or he has the power to persuade others to do good; or it is not in his power to pay his debts. The moral power of man is also his power of judging or discerning in moral subjects.
6. In mechanics, that which produces motion or force, or which may be applied to produce it. Thus the inclined plane is called a mechanical power, as it produces motion, although this in reality depends on gravity. The wheel and axle, and the lever, are mechanical powers, as they may be applied to produce force. These powers are also called forces, and they are of two kinds, moving power, and sustaining power.
7. Force. The great power of the screw is of extensive use in compression. The power of steam is immense.
8. That quality in any natural body which produces a change or makes an impression on another body; as the power of medicine; the power of heat; the power of sound.
9. Force; strength; momentum; as the power of the wind, which propels a ship or overturns a building.
10. Influence; that which may move the mind; as the power of arguments or of persuasion.
11. Command; the right of governing, or actual government; dominion; rule, sway; authority. A large portion of Asia is under the power of the Russian emperor. The power of the British monarch is limited by law. The powers of government are legislative, executive, judicial, and ministerial.
Power is no blessing in itself, but when it is employed to protect the innocent.
Under this sense may be comprehended civil, political, ecclesiastical, and military power.
12. A sovereign, whether emperor, king or governing prince or the legislature of a state; as the powers of Europe; the great powers; the smaller powers. In this sense, the state or nation governed seems to be included in the word power. Great Britain is a great naval power.
13. One invested with authority; a ruler; a civil magistrate. Rom.13.
14. Divinity; a celestial or invisible being or agent supposed to have dominion over some part of creation; as celestial powers; the powers of darkness.
15. That which has physical power; an army; a navy; a host; a military force.
Never such a power--
Was levied in the body of a land.
16. Legal authority; warrant; as a power of attorney; an agent invested with ample power. The envoy has full powers to negotiate a treaty.
17. In arithmetic and algebra, the product arising from the multiplication of a number or quantity into itself; as, a cube is the third power; the biquadrate is the fourth power.
18. In Scripture, right; privilege. John 1. 1 Cor.9.
19. Angels, good or bad. Col 1. Eph. 6.
20. Violence, force; compulsion. Ezek. 4.
21. Christ is called the power of God, as through him and his gospel, God displays his power and authority in ransoming and saving sinners. 1 Cor.1.
22. The powers of heaven may denote the celestial luminaries. Matt.24.
23. Satan is said to have the power of death, as he introduced sin, the cause of death, temporal and eternal, and torments men with the feat of death and future misery.
24. In vulgar language, a large quantity; a great number; as a power of good things. [This is, I believe, obsolete, even among our common people.]
25. Power of attorney, authority given to a person to act for another.

Wow!  That's pretty deep!  That's all I am going to post for today.  I encourage you to read through the definitions, and Please leave a comment telling me what "Knowledge is Power" means to you.  Next time I will talk about what it means to me.  

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Long Time No Write

A month.  It has been One Whole Month since I was last here.  So much for my good intentions to post frequently!  I think I lost my focus...  Well, actually, I've sort of been on vacation, and life just isn't normal on vacation.  Not that my life is normal by most standards.  Sometimes I wish for more "normalcy", but that just doesn't seem to be the path that my life is taking.

So what have I been doing these past 30 days?  Well, I've been eating anything and everything, and it's time to stop.  I haven't been taking walks regularly like I should, so it's time to start.  I've done a bit of hand sewing, which was fun, and I intend to do some more.

My man-cub is the sweetest thing ever and drives me crazy sometimes.  Love him so much!  He wants to walk, no run, but isn't quite ready yet.  He can really zoom around in his walker, and he's a speed-crawler.  He follows me around everywhere, and he panics if I leave the room and he can't see me.  In fact, earlier today I ran upstairs to do something super-quickly, and when I turned around he was nearly halfway up the stairs!   Of course, he can leave the room anytime he wants, but not me

My man didn't come on this trip with me, and of course I'm missing him more than words can say.  We talk every day, but it's just not the same as really being there.  Reunions are a wonderful thing, though, no matter how long the separation.  Even if it's only a matter of hours.  And I'm looking forward to wonderful!

I've been mulling over a post since before Easter, but haven't given it serious thought lately.  I need to take some time to focus on that so I can get it put down here.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Curry for (my) Company

Recently I had the opportunity to make a curry dinner for a friend who had never tried curry previously.  She liked it and suggested that I blog about it.  I took pictures of the meal in progress, but you will just have to use your imagination for the preparation stage.

Firstly, you may be asking, "What is curry?"  From Wikipedia,
Curry (play /ˈkʌri/) is a generic description used throughout Western culture to describe a variety of spiced dishes, especially from Pakistani, Indian or other South Asian cuisines. Three spices found in most curry powders are turmeric, coriander, and cumin; a wide range of additional spices may be included depending on the geographic region and the foods being included (meats, fish, lentils, rice, etc.).[1] The word "curry" is analogous to "soup" or "stew" in that there is no particular ingredient that makes something "curry."
As you might guess from that description, the possibilities for flavors and combinations of ingredients in curries is practically endless!

For this particular dish, I started with a green curry paste made by Mae Ploy.  They also make red and yellow.  The ingredients are:
  • green chili
  • lemongrass
  • garlic
  • salt
  • galangal (I had to look this up; it is related to ginger, but with a different flavor)
  • shrimp paste (shrimp, salt)
  • kaffir lime peel
  • coriander seed
  • pepper
  • cumin
  • turmeric
I looked at the online prices for this 14 oz container and they range from $2.31 to $5.19.  I paid $2.50 at an authentic Asian grocery store.  If you are at all interested in cooking Asian foods and trying something new, I recommend locating an Asian or other specialty ethnic store (oftentimes one kind will carry food from other cultures in addition to their own) near you.  They are a delight to the senses to wander through, and you should pick up something new to try!  Many have fresh produce in addition to their dry, canned, and frozen selection.

I like to follow recipes, at least the first time I try something new, but I'm not afraid to change things up a bit, to suit my tastes of the moment or what I have on hand.  The basic recipe on the curry container follows. 
  • Stir-fry 50 g ( 1/4 cup) of Green Curry Paste in 1 tbsp soybean oil (I avoid soy, except for soy sauce, and prefer olive or coconut), then add 1 cup (240 ml) of coconut milk.
  • Add 200 g (≈ 1/2 lb) of fresh meat and keep cooking.
  • Add another 1/2 cup (120 ml) of coconut milk and 1/2 cup (120 ml) water, heat until boiling.
  • Add 100 g ( 1/4 lb, or a little over 1/2 cup)vegetables and cook until the vegetables soften.
  • Add 1 1/2 tsp sugar.  Taste and season as required.  (I don't even remember reading this step until now!)
Suggestion: For a milder flavor, half portion of the curry paste should be used.  (I agree with this!  If you are new to curries or just aren't sure about spicy foods, then definitely use less curry paste and work your way up to full-strength!)

For measurement conversions, Google is my friend!  Gram is a weight measurement, but most cooks don't employ the use of a scale in their kitchen.  Recipe Goldmine has conversions for common baking ingredient, but for this I used Online Conversion and cook az.  You need to know the approximate density of the food if it isn't on their list.  For example, curry paste is, not surprisingly, not on their list, so I went with peanut butter.

(Now, right here I had more typed, but my little man-cub decided to close my computer, and apparently not everything I had typed was saved.  Drat!  So, to start over...)

I started by putting a glug of olive oil into a large skillet over medium-high heat.  It was probably a bit more than 1 tablespoon, but why dirty a spoon over something like this, right?  This curry paste comes in a plastic bag inside the container, so I simply cut a corner off and squeeze out however much I want, which in this instance was about 1/4 cup (but remember my suggestion to use less unless you are prepared for mega flavor!)

Most Americans are used to adding seasonings partway through the cooking process.  However, in many cultures the spices are the heart of the dish, so they are added first.  Heating them releases their scent and flavor, and adding it to the oil helps it blend throughout the rest of the ingredients.

 After the curry smell starts filling the air (and your nostrils), add about 2/3 of a can of coconut milk to the pan (I always have a taste off the spoon, too - yum!)  When it is heated, I added the meat: I cut up two chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces.  You can use any meat you want, though, or even go meatless if that's the way you roll.

When the meat is cooked, add the rest of the coconut milk and some more liquid.  I prefer to use my homemade chicken stock for extra flavor.  I also use more than 1/2 cup because I like to add more vegetables than the recipe calls for, and you need to make sure there's plenty of liquid in the pan to cook the vegetables without them sticking.  (I have even made curry soup by putting a LOT of extra liquid in the pan.)

This particular meal I cut up a small zucchini, a small yellow crookneck squash, an onion, a potato, some grated carrot, chopped mushrooms, and tomato.  You can really use any vegetables you have on hand, such as bell peppers, cabbage, and even fruit like apples!  Use your imagination!

I like to put curry over rice, so I had a pot of white rice cooking while I prepared the curry.  I have grown very fond of my rice cooker, but it's actually very easy to cook in a pan on the stove top.  Simply rinse your rice a couple times, and the cover the rice with about an inch of water (or more chicken broth!) An easy way to measure that is to put your finger into the rice and measure from the top of the rice to the top of the liquid the same distance as between two knuckles.  Put the pan on high, and once it starts boiling put a tight lid on (preferably clear) and reduce to low so it simmers.  It will only take about 15 minutes to cook, so be sure to check it or you might end up with rice stuck to the bottom of your pan.

As I said at the beginning, I had already started eating before I thought to take pictures, so here is my plate partway through the meal.

I hope that if you try this sometime you will tell me how it turned out, if you liked it, and what you did to make it your own special recipe.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thursdays Thoughts

This past weekend I met a gentleman and visited with him a while.  At one point he looked at my son and said, "He really focuses on things."  Wow, someone who is practically a stranger noticed!  

Yes, my little man-cub is growing up fast.  He is intent and focused on learning what this world is all about, always seeking new information, expanding his horizons, trying new things, his physical skills increasing daily.  And you can tell he's proud of himself, as I am. 

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.  My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.  Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.  ~ Psalm 139:14-16

Friday, March 18, 2011

Simmering Stock

Last Sunday, I mentioned that I had a turkey carcass in the crockpot. I love to take pictures of everything I do, so I thought I would show you.

Normally when I make stock I add a glug or two of vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar) to the bones and let it sit for maybe an hour while I assemble the other ingredients.  I like to add a whole onion (skins, too, because they are full of the good medicinal stuff), lots of garlic, ginger if I have it, celery, and carrots.  It all depends, of course, on what I have on hand.  Sometimes I even add eggshells!  I'm sure you're wondering about that one!  The vinegar is to help draw the calcium and minerals out of the bones, to make the stock extra rich, and it will do the same with the eggshells.  Of course, it's best to use organic, free-range poultry and their eggs, but I use whatever I have on hand.

This particular turkey, however, had been mesquite-smoked for Thanksgiving, and there was a bit of meat along with the bones.  It was THE BEST-TASTING turkey I have ever had, seriously!  I decided that I wanted to make my stock without all the other flavors blended in, so I just did the turkey (with the ACV).  I cooked it all day and overnight on low in the crock.  Then I strained it into a few containers, only filling half-way, so I could put it in the freezer without breaking my containers.  Then I filled the pot with water and cooked those bones a second time all day and all night.  This is what it looked like after the second cooking.

I strained it and topped off the freezer containers, and put a little bit into a jar to compare the color to the first batch.  I don't know if you can tell, but the one on the left (the first batch) gelled up nicely in the frig.  That's what you want, by the way, chicken/turkey/beef/whatever "jello" when it's cold.

There's quite a lot of color difference, but the second time was still pretty flavorful.  I normally would throw everything out at this point, but I decided to fill it up again and cook on high for 4 hours to see what I got out of it.

You can probably tell that it isn't as rich in color, and not in taste, but it still was decent.  If I'm making soup, I typically dilute my stock with water anyway, so this batch won't need that.  I also like to use it for cooking my rice to give it a bit of flavor.

From Simply Recipes website they say this about the fat in stock:
Note about the Fat
I've seen a lot of newer cookbooks advocate the skimming of the fat from the stock. We prefer the traditional method of letting the fat settle in a layer on top of the stock as it cools. This way, the fat acts as a protective layer against bacteria, which is found in the air. The stock will last longer if you keep the fat layer on it. Just lift up the layer of fat and remove the stock when you want to use it. Every few days, bring the stock to a simmer for 10 minutes and let it cool, again with the fat forming a protective layer. Your stock can be stored in the refrigerator and used for up to a couple of weeks this way.

Next time you cook chicken, save the bones (yes, even if  you ate the meat off the chicken!) and make a pot of stock.  If you don't have many bones, start a bag/container in the freezer and when it's full you're ready to go.   Do you ever buy those rotisserie chickens from the grocery store?  (Costco has the best ones!)  I love to save all the flavored broth (that gets all gelled up in the bottom of the plastic tray, if you ever notice), the bones, and skin and make a great-tasting stock!  Let me know how yours turns out, and if you have any secret ingredients that you love to add to yours.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesday Thoughts

I'm sitting here with my son asleep across my lap, with one hand free to reach my computer.  Sometimes I just play spider solitaire, occasionally I'll check out craigslist, and I frequently find myself at facebook, where my friends hang out. 

Today I decided to clean up my emails, eliminate some of the clutter there.  Can you believe I have over 50 custom folders in which to organize them?  Most are not used much at all, some haven't been used in years, but they are emails I want to keep, for one reason or another.  At one point in time, I was doing a good job keeping my inbox empty, but it has creeped back up to 607 emails, most read.

While deleting emails, I came across one from a blog/site to which I subscribe.  I thought the title of the post very appropriate to share here, Monk Mind: How to Increase Your Focus.  It starts out
I confess to being as prone to the distractions of the Internet as anyone else: I will start reading about something that interests me and disappear down the rabbit hole for hours (even days) at a time.
I confess that even after reading this, as I came here to write my post, I very nearly got myself distracted away from this, simply by finding the links to place here!

Now, his post is mostly about learning to focus while using the computer to get work done, but the principles carry over to other areas of life, too.  For instance, many people nowadays say that they are great at multi-tasking.  I've said the same about myself.  It is true that while preparing dinner, I can also have a sink full of dishwater to clean as I go (don't do that as often as I should, but I know how to do it), have food simmering/marinating/whatever-ing as I chop and assemble ingredients to saute or add to a dish, set the table, pay attention to where my little man is (oh, okay, fine, you can play in that drawer, there isn't anything sharp in there), and carry on a conversation.  But is that really what multi-tasking is?

I think where we (okay, where I) get into trouble is when we try to do too many things at the same time that aren't related.  Walking and talking at the same time is to be expected.  Working on a quilt while watching a movie is also doable, as long as neither one requires much focus.  I can even occasionally do things on the computer or read while nursing my son (like now; he woke up already).

However, even that doesn't work so well all the time, because he no longer lays here peacefully the whole time.  He smacks me with his hands, kicks my hand and the computer, grabs my necklace, and tries to sit up or roll over while staying attached.   Sometimes he is going to do those things no matter what I'm doing, but quite often that means I have to stop what I'm doing and simply focus on him, look him in the eye, have both hands on his little body.

Things don't always need our focused attention; people do.   I am guilty of trying to hold conversations with my husband while playing mindless games or surfing the web, and it's the conversation, the relationship, that suffers.  My husband is the most important person in the world to me, so why do I treat my time with him with less focus that I should?  That's a real question.  I don't know why I do it.  But the next time I sit down to talk to him, that is ALL I'm going to do, because he is worthy of my undivided attention (as is my son).  And that really is what I want to give him.  So that's what I will do next time; unless, of course, my little man needs his tummy filled or his diaper changed.  I can't promise I will always succeed at this, but if I can stop long enough to remind myself of my need to focus, I know I will improve in this area. 

So now I'm going to go sit on the floor with my son and play with him.  Maybe I'll put on some music and dance with him.  

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Makings of a Monday

Yesterday I mentioned buying cabbage to make sauerkraut.  I love homemade kraut, and it is so good for you, too!  I started by chopping one head and putting it in a bowl to pound.  I added kosher salt, too, which helps to draw the juices as well as preserve it.
 As you can see, I had a little "helper", because I was sitting on the floor within easy reach of his busy little fingers.  I used my new jar of coconut oil to pound.  After pounding off and on for an hour or more (and trying to use my leg to keep my son out of the bowl) the cabbage looked like this:
I set this aside and chopped and pounded the second cabbage.  I wasn't getting as much liquid out of the cabbage as I have in the past, so I think I may not have been using as much salt as needed.  Cabbage ferments quite nicely all on its own, but I had some whey I had saved from good plain yogurt, so I added that to the mix and blended both cabbage batches together and put it in my gallon glass jar.  Lacto-fermented foods have extra goodies for your digestive system.
Can you believe that is 2 whole heads of cabbage?!  Not much more than half a gallon.  As you can see in the next pictures, there wasn't enough liquid to cover the cabbage, which is important so it doesn't mold.  Fortunately I kept the liquid from my last batch of sauerkraut, which was made from red cabbage, so I added that to the top of the jar.

The final step is to make sure that the cabbage is covered completely with no air against it, so I put a plastic bag (well, two of the produce bags) inside and filled with water, making sure to get rid of any air bubbles I could see.  As it ferments, air bubbles will form on their own.
Isn't it pretty?  I love learning how to make yummy, healthy food for my family.  I know it's better for us than store-bought, and usually cheaper, too.

S-L-O-W Sunday

This weekend I've just felt bored, lazy, blah.  I did some housework, grocery shopping, and cooking.  I have been trying to go for a walk every day, or several times per week, but yesterday I only walked for 1 mile and nothing today (except for the grocery store).  I guess that means I need a good, long walk tomorrow.

So what did I buy today?
  • rice, lentils and black beans
  • boneless, skinless chicken breasts and a big box of Farmer John spicy sausages (already ate 2...)
  • coconut oil
  • kale, green- and red-leaf lettuce, English cucumber, tomatoes, radishes, green onions, onions, sweet potatoes, red potatoes
  • nectarines, red bosch pears
  • big jar of green olives
  • vanilla almond milk
  • 2 heads of cabbage (to make sauerkraut!)
And I am FINALLY cooking the Thanksgiving turkey carcass in the crock pot.  It smells sooooooo good.  It's been going all day, and I will keep it on low all night long as well.  I will let it cool tomorrow so I can put it in jars (I'm anticipating 2-3 quarts, b/c there are a lot of bones).  Then I will cover the bones with water and do a second batch.  I only recently started doing that.  When I think of all the broth I could have had all these years...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Focus

Okay, I didn't get a lot done today, didn't spend much time focusing on anything of particular interest.  I washed dishes, fixed three meals, took a walk, did some laundry, changed the sheets on my bed (LOVE clean sheets!), and am planning a shower before bed (because one must never ever go to bed with a dirty body on clean sheets!)  My hubby and I had a discussion about some plans, without coming to any decision.  Maybe we need to focus a little bit more on getting the information necessary to make this decision.

I did a little bit of thinking about this blog, but it wasn't very focused, more in-the-back-of-my-mind kind of thinking.  I want to make a new habit of coming here every day (or at least every other day) and posting something.  Anything. 

Today I want to share a photo of something I love to look at every day.  Something I thank God for everyday, in my heart, even when I don't say it aloud.

 Look at that!  Isn't that beautiful? 

My son knows how to focus; he gives his full attention to everything.  He uses all his senses and learns.  He sees, smells, touches, tastes, and hears.  And he remembers.  What I love best is when we are gazing into each others' eyes, focused on each other, loving each other.  Yes, he is a baby, but I know he loves and adores me, as do I him.  In those moments, nothing else matters.  Of course, those moments pass all too swiftly because there are so many things he wants to do, he can't sit around all day just looking at his Mommy. 

And that is okay.  Because I know he will want me again soon enough.  I love how he now comes to get me when he's hungry or tired or wet.  I still have to figure out what exactly he needs, I have to focus on him and not the distractions around me, and he is so happy when I pick him up and take care of him.  And I truly am happy, too.  <3

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Finding My Focus

Dear Diary,

No wait, this isn't my private journal!  (I don't even have one of those)  But this is where I will share my life and my journey towards finding my focus.

My life revolves around my wonderful husband (who also happens to be my best friend), and our son (who is the cutest little boy in the whole world!)  I want to be the best wife and mommy I can be, but sometimes I lose my focus.  Well, maybe not so much lose it as ignore it.  And not that I ever ignore the fact that I'm a wife or mom, I just don't always make the wisest choices on how to be the best I can be.  I suppose that makes me normal, but why be normal?

My life also revolves around being a Christian.  Or rather, it should.  But I tend to lose my focus there a lot.  Not that I ever forget that I'm Saved by Grace and Jesus Loves Me (this I know...), because believe me, I know Who Holds the Future and He gives me the Peace that passeth all understanding no matter what I'm going through.  Not that I don't ever get stressed and start to worry, because I do, but I am learning to be content.  Notice I said learning.  I'm not there yet.  I sometimes find days go by (sometimes lots of days...) where I have done nothing to strengthen my faith, I haven't renewed my mind with the Word of God.  I am not focused on the things of God.

I know this may sound like an odd way to find my focus, by starting a blog, but I felt inspired to give it a try.  I don't have a focus for what I will write about and share from my heart, and I imagine it will end up being somewhat random at times, because, well, I am not focused, (have I used that word enough yet?) but I'm pretty sure it won't be too boring.

I will end tonight's post with part of a song by my favorite singer/artist, Sara Groves:
I'm not trying to judge you. That's not my job. I am just a seeker too, in search of God.  Somewhere somehow this subject became taboo. I have no other way to communicate to you. This is all that I am. This is all that I have.

I would like to share with you what makes me complete. I don't claim to have found the Truth, but I know it has found me. The only thing that isn't meaningless to me is Jesus Christ and the way he set me free. This is all that I have. This is all that I am.