Friday, March 29, 2013

Cottage Pie

1 lb ground beef
3 C leftover mashed potatoes
1 small onion chopped
1-2 carrots chopped
8 oz package sliced mushrooms
1 Tblsp flour
1 Tblsp butter, softened
2 Tblsp tomato paste
1 C beef broth
salt and pepper to taste

preheat oven to 350
combine butter and flour, stir well
saute carrots and onions until crisp tender
add mushrooms, cook until brown
remove veggies from skillet
add beef and brown
stir in tomato paste, cook about 3 min
stir in broth, salt, and pepper
return veggies to pan and bring to a simmer
add flour mixture and cook 1 min to thicken stirring constantly
spoon meat mixture into 9X9 or 2qt baking dish
spread potatoes on top
bake 20 minutes or until bubbly

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Build Muscle Support

Chair squat
stand in front of chair with feet shoulder width apart
keep back straight, stomach muscles pulled in, and knees over ankles
slowly lower you butt toward the chair, raising your arms forward for balance
pause before actually sitting
slowly return to standing
do 3 sets of 10

Knee extension
sit in a chair with feet not touching the floor (try a stool)
grip sides for support
slowly extend left leg so it's almost completely straight, tightening thigh muscles and toe pointed to ceiling
hold for 5 seconds
slowly lower to starting position
do 3 sets of 10
repeat with right leg

Clam shells
lie on your left side in somewhat fetal position, knees bent and legs together
keeping ankles together, lift top knee and hold for 5 seconds
slowly close, like a clam
do 3 sets of 10
roll over onto other side and repeat
if you need, do on blanket or mat to cushion your spine
lie on back, knees bent, feet hip width apart, knees above heels
press feet into the floor and squeeze glutes to lift hips off the floor
imagine lifting one vertebra at a time slowly, squeezing your abs
hold for 5 seconds
do 3 sets of 10

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Live Faithfully - Week Seven

Loose Lips Sink Ships
James 3:1-12

Highlights from this week:
  • A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. -Henry Adams
  • a tongue controlled by God will spread the good news wherever it goes
  • the difference between a wise person and a foolish one is his speech
  • when controlled by strong hands and good hearts, the tongue guides us to desired destinations
  • our past, present, and future can be destroyed by a slip of the tongue
  • if your spiritual life is dry, perhaps you have neglected your water source
  • iniquity suggests different types of evil 
  • angry accusations, contentious comments, or Godless gossip can burn others, leaving lives in ruin
  • remember those that heat things up verbally are playing with hellfire
  • hateful words can backfire on us, hurting us as much as those we have attacked
  • we can't control our tongues, but God can if we give Him the keys
  • a curse is a prayer for evil or misfortune for others
  • p. 176 - "without fresh water, there can be no life.  97% of the Earth's water is salty, making it unusable for drinking or farming.  Only 3% is fresh water.  How does your speech compare to those statistics?  Mostly bitter and only a little bit refreshing?"
This week about taming the tongue probably didn't sit well with a lot of us.  Our mouth gets us in trouble more often than anything else about us I think.  This direct quote from page 172 sums it up very well.
Symptoms of gossip poisoning:

  1. Dislike: developing bitterness even though the person involved did not directly offend you.
  2. Disapproval: criticizing those involved; acting as the judge in the matter while recruiting others to "your side".
  3. DIstortion: searching out more gossip and using it to give the worst possible impression of others or to make yourself look spiritual.
  4. Deception: believing that such actions are actually accomplishing God's will and using prayer to spread rumors further.
Antidotes to gossip poisoning:

  1. Repentance: ask God to cleanse your mind and to forgive you for poisoning others with gossip; 1 John 1:9
  2. Restoration: pray for genuine love for everyone involved; if you've sinned against someone make it right; Matthew 5:23-24
  3. Renewal: be transformed by renewing your mind with truth instead of lies; God's word is the antidote of the soul; John 15:3 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Smelly Washer?

Front loading and high efficiency washers us about 1/3 the water as regular machines do.  The key is to use a lot less soap.  If you use the same amount of soap you always have, there won't be enough water to absorb it all, leaving a residue that will stick to the rubber rim of a front loader and all around a high efficiency top loader, which spawns mildew and the lovely smell that comes with it.

First use high efficient soap, and some say specifically for front loaders, is that's what you have.  Be sure to use the least amount that you need.  Also be sure that your machine is always balanced for proper drainage.  Fabric softener can do the same thing, so again, be sure you are using the proper amount.

If this is a consistent problem for you, once a month, run the machine on the hottest setting with bleach only.  I also leave the lid of the washer open the entire time my last load is in the dryer to let it air out and air dry.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Budget Benefits

Budgeting has a lot of benefits, but mostly it gives you a common vision, a guide to decision making, and a decrease in tension, especially if you argue a lot about money.

Common vision - it's not easy living month to month, and really not easy to go through expenses and realize you will both need to make sacrifices.  It is stressful to see all of your debts listed on one page and talking about how long it might take to pay them off.  But a budget is a common goal that you can work together to meet.

Decision making guide - with a budget, you begin every pay period knowing exactly how each dollar will be spent. By creating and living on a budget, you are better prepared for the unexpected, and because all of the numbers are there on paper, you can regularly measure your spending and keep finances in balance.

Decrease tension - I can imagine that you fight about money, even with yourself.  There's blame and guilt associated with every mistake.  By having a budget, the answers are there in front of you to solve any problem.  If the money is there, great, if it is not, well, decision made!

Next week, time to get down to the nitty-gritty.  You can do it!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Jill's Fudge Icing

1 stick butter
1 cup sugar (or 1 3/4 C powdered sugar)
1/3 C evaporated milk
3/4 C chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla

in sauce pan combine butter, sugar, and milk
bring to a boil, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes
add chips and vanilla
keep stirring until smooth and pourable
pour immediately over brownies

Make your chips half peanut butter for a variation

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tummy Toners - Torso Twist

Stand with your legs about a foot apart.  Raise your arms until your hands are next to your ears as seen in the top pic, with your elbows pointed out to the sides.  Left your left knee to your right elbow as you twist your torso.  Return to start position and repeat on the other side for 1 rep.  Do as many reps as you can, keeping good form, for 1 minute.  Pull your abs in while you do this!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Live Faithfully - Week Six

Flatline Faith
James 2:14-26

Highlights from this week:
  • faith and works are to our souls what heart and lungs are to our bodies
  • by investing in good works we will reap eternal treasures
  • you can say you have faith but your actions might betray you
  • doing good works will not save us but it does prove we are saved
  • words of caring without acts of sharing are a sham
  • true love will both show and tell sincere devotion
  • Abraham's good works were a mere foreshadowing of God's best work
  • faith in man's response to God's initiative
  • God is not looking for perfect people just faithful ones
  • birth into a family of faith does not ensure salvation
  • Rahab is the only Gentile named in the Hall of Faith

I love the story on pages 140-141 about during the depression and how the son brought his father's "prayers" to the prayer meeting in the form of food and clothes....the things the people needed.  I have such a hard time explaining how important it is that faith and works go together.  James describes it much better than I.  If only people could understand that this would not even be an issue if you have true faith, because if you had true faith you would without thinking want to do those good works, it wouldn't be a chore or something to mark off the list.  It would be a natural extension of yourself.  I hope I am able to set such an example.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Epsom Salt for Green Grass

Use Epsom salt for a greener lawn!  It can be used as a natural fertilizer.  Here's how...

apply 3 Lbs of epsom salt for every 1250 square feet using a spreader


dilute in water and use a sprayer

other tips...
avoid a heavy dose in the mid summer as too much can encourage weed growth
always apply to damp soil, never on dry

Monday, March 18, 2013

Budget Specifics

Before you can tackle debt, or even think about retirement and college funds, you have to develop a working budget that goes above living paycheck to paycheck and helps you plan for the future.

First you need to figure out your income and expenses.  Income includes any form of take home pay to add to the family finances, this can include paychecks, part time income, commission checks, etc.  Expenses include any money that goes out the door.  Giving, saving, living expenses, variable expenses, and debt.

Remember that living on a budget isn't something you do for a few months or until one big bill is paid off.  Living on a budget is a lifelong commitment.  Before we go any further into the specifics in the next coming weeks, be sure you and your spouse are committed to this idea and are willing to do what ever works to get to a better point in your financial life.  Start thinking about all of your debts and all of your income.  Pray, meditate, and communicate.  Then we will get down to the details.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Parm Baked Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 C crushed crackers such as ritz or saltines
3/4 C Parmesan (try fresh grated)
2 Tblsp butter melted
pepper to taste

preheat oven to 425
spray a large, rimmed baking sheet with non stick spray
slice each chicken breast in half horizontally, making eight thinner pieces
Place pieces in between plastic wrap and pound down to 1/4 inch thickness

combine dry ingredients in one shallow dish
place melted butter in another shallow dish
coat chicken in butter then cracker crumbs
places on baking sheet in a single layer
sprinkle any excess coating over the top
bake 12 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tummy Toners - Side Squat Reach

Bless his model is trying, you have to give him that!

Step out into a wide squat with knees bent and feet pointed out...think ballet.  (sorry, my model said he couldn't do that :) Be sure that your knees don't go over and out past your toes.  
Raise your right arm up over your head and reach as far to the left as you can keeping your body straight (poor model!) Bring your arm back down slowly and repeat on the other side.  Repeat this side to side motion for 60 seconds keeping good form.

If you have a bad knee, like me, and can't squat low, just go as far as you can without making your knees hurt.  The important part is the overhead stretch.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Live Faithfully - Week Five

Class Warfare
James 2:1-13

Highlights from this week:
  • partiality can be translated into favoritism
  • partiality refers to exalting someone on a superficial basis such as appearance, race, wealth, rank, or social status
  • we reflect Jesus' glory by developing Godly character
  • playing favorites with friends or family may cause others to stumble through jealousy and strife
  • comparing ourselves to others is futile
  • keep your eyes open to your own hidden prejudices
  • true etiquette doesn't exist to make you look good; its goal is to make others feel good
  • it's easy to love the lovely, but it's Godly to love the unlovely
  • sin of commission means doing something you know is wrong
  • sin of omission is not doing what you know is right
  • loving your neighbors requires sacrifices of time, energy, and resources
  • show how much you love God by loving your neighbor, no matter who it is
  • the works of every child of God will be evaluated resulting in reward or loss of reward
  • mercy implies compassion that withholds punishment even when it is deserved
Oh my word, this week was hard.  I could probably spend at least a month in these few verses alone.  We are all guilty of a little partiality somewhere in our lives.  The thought that it leads to sin and then to loss of mercy....yikes!  It is so easy to fall into that pattern.  Your parents don't like the neighbors so you don't like the neighbor's kids.  Your grandparents were racist so it tickles the back of your brain no matter how hard you try to be the opposite.  It's in our lives wherever we go.  I know I'm guilty of playing favorites.  I could blame it on my mother...she was very judgmental of everyone...but the fact remains that I am my own person with my own brain that knows the difference between right and wrong.  I really need to work on this!  Hmmmm....who can I love this week?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Silverware in the Dishwasher

Make unloading the dishwasher faster by keeping all the same types of silverware in the same little square in the basket so that you can grab all of one thing to put away.  All the butter knives together,  dinner forks, salad forks, etc.

One the spoons that they don't, well, SPOON each other and thus not get clean.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Snowball VS. Top Down

There are 2 ways to start pounding out your debt: the snowball effect and the topdown approach.

First you need to list out every debt you have, except your mortgage.  Remember, we're trying to wipe out all of the debt except that one first.  You might also want to write down the percentage of interest you're paying on each balance.  Now choose one of the following ways to start knocking down that debt as quickly as you can.

Snowball effect: pay as much as you can on the account with the lowest balance while paying only the minimum on the others.  Once the lowest balance is paid off, put all the money you were paying for that onto the next lowest balance.  Repeat the process until all debt is paid off.  You will quickly reduce the number of bills you pay each month, and you will feel a bigger sense of accomplishment by cutting them out quicker.

Top down approach:  Use the idea from the snowball…all of your extra money on one bill…only this way do it on the bill that has the highest interest rate, not counting your mortgage.  Overall you will end up paying less in debt by getting rid of the higher interest rates first, but you will need to stay on top of all of the smaller ones each month so they don’t get lost in the shuffle. have 3 debts as follows, and you have $50 extra a month to put on something
Visa $500 12% interest minimum payment $25
Store credit card $1000 23% interest minimum payment $50
Car loan $13,000 4.9% interest monthly payment $300

For the snowball effect you would
pay $75 on the Visa 
keep the other payments at the minimum
as soon as the visa is paid off you would pay the $50 a month on the store card PLUS the $75 you were paying on the Visa for a total of $125 a month
as soon as the Visa is paid off you would pay $300 a month for your car PLUS the $125 you were putting on the store card for a total of $425 until all is paid off

For the Top down approach you would
put the extra money on the store credit card until it was paid off since it has the higher interest rate, then you would go to the Visa card, then the car

Personally, I like the Snowball effect.  It gets rid of the smaller bills quicker leaving me fewer bills to keep track of every month.  But, if you have a lot of high interest, the top down might work better for you.  That's entirely up to you.

Write it down, compare the plans, and start paying off you debt!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Baked Oatmeal

2 cups oats (not instant)
1/3 C sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp fine grain salt
2 C milk
1 egg
3 Tblsp butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla
2 ripe bananas, cut into slices
2 C fresh or frozen berries (blackberries, blueberries, mixed, etc)

preheat oven to 375 if making today, but this can be made the day before
grease an 8X8 or 9X9 baking pan
in one bowl mix together all dry ingredients (first 5)
in another bowl whisk together milk, egg, butter and vanilla
place banana slices on bottom of baking pan
top with 1 cup of berries
top that with oat mixture
evenly top that with milk mixture, making sure everything gets soaked
top with remaining berries
bake 35-40 minutes until top is golden and oats have set

you can cover and keep in the frig overnight and bake in the morning

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Tummy Toners - Triangle Leg Lift

Lie on your back on your elbows with your palms on the floor, under your lower back supporting your hips.  Straighten one leg, and bend the other leg so that your foot is next to the straight leg's knee, forming a triangle.  Raise and lower your legs slowly in this position as many times as you can in 30 seconds keeping good form.  The lower you go the more challenging it will be to bring it back up.  Rest, then switch legs and repeat for another 30 seconds.

This one was really hard for me.  I'm pretty sure my lower ab muscles don't exist!  All the more reason to keep trying, I guess!!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Live Faithfully - Week Four

Mirror, Mirror in the World
Are you living out the Word of God?
James 1:19-27

Thing I learned this week...or was at least reminded:
  • because God loved us we are to love one another
  • be slow to wrath
  • wrath means hot anger, passion or is an abiding and settled habit of the mind with the purpose of revenge
  • often we are too busy thinking of what we want to say to God that we aren't listening to what He's trying to say to us
  • God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts
  • there are 4 key elements to the Christian walk...1. repenting of filthiness, 2. receiving the Word of truth, 3. reproducing righteousness by doing what God says, 4. realistically examine your life in the Light of God's Word
  • it is not the hearing but the doing that brings about spiritual fruit
  • meekness is an attitude of humility toward God and gentleness towards others
  • self deception is every bit as dangerous as satan's deception
  • when we read God's Word as quickly as we read the daily news, we fail to see spiritual flaws or stop long enough to think about them
  • in contrast to casually observing an image in a mirror, gazing carefully and with serious intent at God's Word requires time, attention and sincere devotion
  • what we say speaks volumes about our character
  • our words loudly proclaim the condition of our heart
  • to visit means more than casually dropping means to look out for, care for,and offer relief
This week really kicked me in the backside.  I don't even know that I can comment further.  I might need to re-read this one more than once!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pick Your Outfit Before Bed

Have every member of the family pick out what they are going to wear the next day before going to bed.  It makes the morning go so much more smoothly, maybe you can even sleep in a few more minutes!

I always check the weather for the week on Sunday and chose out outfits for the whole week.  I also planned meals for the whole week on Sunday...but that's another story!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Moving Mountains

To move mountains, you first have to have a vision.  I've said before that you both have to be on the same page (if you're married), you have to make a commitment, and you have to become a team.  Your commitment level has to be 100%.  You can't just say, oh, that sounds good, but as soon as the rubber hits the road, give up.  This commitment level will only be in effect if the hearts of both of you are fully invested in the out come.  So sit down together and come up with a vision you both have...where you'd like to be.

Now that you have a vision, you have to plan to make it reality.  It's time to sit down and list every single debt.  ALL OF THEM.  Big and small, maybe secret's time for it to all be laid on the table.  In preparation to write out a budget, also write down every single bill.  Don't forget those once a year ones even if they are very the safe deposit box rental, a fishing license, car tags, etc.  Every single bill.  Check to be sure you have them all by looking through a years worth of check registers and credit card bills to see what you've paid.

This isn't a long post, but the work will take you a little while.  Start with the vision, and be sure you are both on board.  Then start writing everything out.  Next week we start talking about how to knock out that debt quickly.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Cake Mix Cookies

1 box of your favorite cake mix
1/3 C oil
2 eggs
frosting optional

preheat oven to 375
combine all ingredients except frosting in a large bowl
shape dough into 1 inch balls
place balls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet
with the bottom of a glass, flatten balls to 1/4 inch thickness
bake 6-8 minutes or until very light golden brown
cool 1 minute before removing from cookie sheet
completely cool before frosting