Saturday, June 23, 2018

Frugal Friday :: Cooking From Scratch



So I'm a day late in posting this post, my apologies for that. This week I started my new part-time job and on the same day, I had an interview for a voluntary role I hope to take on next year after my contract ends. More on that another time but needless to say I was a little preoccupied. Today I want to talk about cooking from scratch.

I grew up in a home where my mum cooked everything from scratch so it's the way I have done things in my own home. There is something quite satisfying about cooking and providing wholesome meals and delicious bakes for your family. 


Interestingly, I have found that a lot of people don't cook from scratch either because they don't know how or their lives are just so busy it's easier to by prepared meals. However, convenience food can prove to be costly both financially and possibly in the long term with regards to health.

By cooking from scratch I know exactly what is in our food. It's not laden with sugars, salts or preservatives. 


I like to take advantage of food that is in season. I try to put aside some time each week to do a bit of batch cooking. I spend a few hours baking and cooking simple meals like soup for the freezer. That way there is always a quick lunch or supper option for busy days. Fakeaway if you like...making your own fakeaways saves money spent on fast foods. 

I try to make use of what may be considered waste. After a roast, I pop the bones, leftover vegetables, add some onions, celery, root vegetables and a handful of herbs from the garden into my crockpot. I cover the whole lot with water and set it on low for about 8 hours. This makes the perfect stock to use as a base for hearty soups.


Another thing I like to do is prepare crockpot meals in advance. I put all the ingredients I need for a meal in a freezer bag then pop them in the freezer. Easy to pull out the night before to thaw then into the crockpot to cook on the day. No fuss, all the prep is already done leaves you free to get on with other things whilst still providing your family with a hearty and healthy meal come dinner time.



This week I prepared 5 crockpot bags and it took me all of 45 minutes. We had Apricot Lamb Hot{crock}pot, Chicken Curry, Hearty Beef Stew, Chicken Fajitas and Cranberry Honey Roast Pork. 
Check out my Freezer Meal and Slow Cooked Goodness Pinterest Boards for loads of good ideas. 

I thought I would finish off this post with my favourite go-to pizza dough recipe. It makes enough dough to feed 5 or 6 people and we love making our own pizza over buying ready-made. We can be as creative as we want and each person can customise their own pizza according to taste. In our home, Friday nights are always burger and pizza nights. One week we do homemade burgers and the following week Homemade pizza. Needless to say, everyone looks forward to Friday dinners 😄



Homemade Pizza Dough

1.5 kg flour
1 sachet yeast (7g or 2 ¹/₄ teaspoons)
15ml sunflower oil
10ml salt
10ml sugar
Warm water

Tomato Base

Tomato Passata
Raw Garlic
Oregano
Herbs and Spices of choice - mix all together in a bowl

*Place all ingredients in a large bowl. Add warm water, enough to make a dough. Knead for 10 minutes until the dough is shiny and elastic. Allow to rest a few hours or until double in size.
*If making individual pizza's portion out dough per person, roll out, prick dough base with a fork a couple of times and pre-bake in a 200 degree C oven for about 5 minutes. You want to cook the base just enough so that you don't end up with a raw base.
*Spread tomato sauce on your pizza base, add toppings of your choice, top with Mozzarella cheese and bake in the oven until cheese has melted and slightly golden.

Have a lovely weekend and I'll see you back here next week. Blessings to you today...

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

My Heart's @ Home



I've reached the end of my temp job and although I loved it I'm glad my time working full-time has come to an end. Working full time is not for me. I only wanted a little part-time job to begin with and here's the thing...God knows. He knows our heart and he knows what is best for us. 

I had applied for a part-time position more than two months ago, had gone for an interview and been told that they had offered the job to someone who had current PA experience. Then all of a sudden I get a call out of the blue, "Would you like the position? The lady who took it has decided she actually does not want it".

Ummmm! Is that even a question? Of course, I want it! So tomorrow I start my part-time job working 2 days a week at the University. Perfect! All I wanted was a little job to fill a day or two a week leaving me plenty of free time to take care of my families needs, home and my pursue my crafts. Its a 6-month contract covering maternity leave. Again...perfect. Who knows, the projects I'm working on now may need my attention full time by then. That's the plan anyway.



And God knew...And my husband knew...And my children knew...although they never said a word and were only supportive.

I wanted to have time enough to work on some projects that have been brewing in my mind. Time to get back to dying yarn because after having a break I find that I would quite like to dye some yarn again. Time to take the cats to the vet, the girls to the dentist and whatever other errands need doing that tend to get pushed to a Saturday when you are working full time.

But it's been fun. It's been good. I'm glad that I did it and it's the right time to bring it to a close. I always said my priority is my family and home and nothing can interfere with what is best for that. 

It's been good for all of us. Good for my girls to see how much I do. I think they have a fresh appreciation for me. Good for our budget just at this time because our stupid car has had to be replaced 😂, and good for me because it cemented what I always knew...that my heart is and always has been at home.

Blessings to you all today...

Friday, June 15, 2018

Frugal Friday :: Practising Contentment



True godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can't take anything with us when we leave it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. - 1 Timothy 6: 6-8

Def. Frugal ~ careful when using money or food. I take being frugal a step further, I think it's a mindset not only in being careful when using money or food but also in where and how we invest our time and efforts. I believe that the key to success in living a frugal life lies in our attitude and our attitude is influenced by what's in our heart, and what's in our heart is planted there by what we choose to treasure.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ~ Matt 6:21


It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is for weeds to grow in my garden. I don't have to do a single thing to encourage them. They lie dormant in the soil and suddenly, when conditions are just right, up they pop.

On the flip-side, there have been many times where I have lovingly planted up a tray of cut flower seeds, hoping that they will grow into healthy plants and fill my garden with colour all summer long only to be bitterly disappointed because they have failed to germinate,  grow on to be healthy plants or worse yet, become fodder for pesky slugs.



In the same way with very little effort, in fact sometimes with no discernible effort at all, the weeds of discontent can pop up and begin to choke out all our peace and contentment.

What Brings Discontent Into Our Lives?


So what is it that brings discontent into our lives? If I look at Matt 6:21, it says that 'where my treasure is, there my heart will be also'. What is it that you treasure? You can usually pick up what you treasure by looking at where it is you spend most of your time. I realise that there are a string of things that we can get wrapped up in but I want to touch on one or two things whose roots touch many of our lives.

Be Careful Little Eyes What You See :: Social Media


Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I get that it is a powerful marketing tool. I've used it with a certain degree of success to promote my yarns, without it, getting my product out there would have been difficult. But oh-my, as well as being a good servant it can be a bad master. Social media, in my humble opinion, has addictive qualities. It is so easy to start scrolling through your (IG/Pinterest/Youtube etc) feed and suddenly before you know it, an hour has gone by. Now lets ask some probing questions...

* what images fill your IG/Pinterest feed?
* Are they images that encourage you to want to buy things?
* Are they images that make your heart desire something other than what you have?
* Are they images that make you discontent with what you have?

These are good questions to consider. I believe that we can inadvertently allow bad seeds to take root in our hearts. Be careful what you allow your eyes to see. What can seem to be perfectly beautiful and harmless can be the very seeds of discontent.


 Be Careful Little Ears What You Hear :: Still the Voices


In the homeschooling world, I have found that who we decided to invest time listening to can have a profound impact in our own lives. I've written about this before HERE. Who we choose to listen to can influence our own choices and decisions, influence the mood and atmosphere of our own homes. That is a powerful thing! We can choose to invest in something that is beneficial and uplifting or we can walk away feeling burdened because we feel that we fall short of the ideal. Often when we tune out God and tune into listening to well-meaning advice we can exchange our light yokes for more burdensome ones

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light! ~ Matthew 11:28

* Is what I'm listening to Gods plan for me/my family/my home school/my finances etc or is it someone else's?
* What is God's definition of success vs the worlds definition of success?
* Is what I'm 'lending my ears to' burdening me and making me feel inadequate or is it something that equips me and benefits those around me?



Be Careful Little Hands What You Do :: Be Purposeful in your Daily Living


Have you noticed that when you don't have much to do you tend to gravitate to something that is not beneficial? If you have idle hands it's usually then that you browse the net and find something to buy, or you find yourself eating even though you are not hungry. Or perhaps you get involved in something such as an online game or listening to endless podcasts that take you away from those important things that need to be attended to in your home. At a homeschool conference I attended years ago, I remember a mum standing up and sharing that she had got so caught up to the point of addicted to a computer game that she found her home was no longer running smoothly, meals were late and her home always seemed to be in a disarray. She felt convicted at that point that she had allowed herself to be distracted from God's important work of caring for her family and home. We need to be aware that we are to be good stewards of not only our money and food etc, but also of our time and the activities we get involved in.

I remember a saying that Christian author, Elizabeth George shared in her book 'A Woman After God's Own Heart', "Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better best".


Guarding Against Discontent


A final thought on guarding against discontent. Stay rooted in God's Word. His ways are completely contrary to the worlds but His yoke is infinitely lighter. When your heart is fixed on him and the wisdom of his ways, you will find that battle with the flesh subsides somewhat to manageable. And as it becomes more manageable it becomes easier to say no. And is it becomes easier to say no you will find that your heart no longer treasures such things. Your heart treasures something much much dearer. Communion with Christ, family, home and simple pleasures that are free and usually come at the most unexpected moments. Like yesterday morning for example, I was eating breakfast in my conservatory and I watched a barn owl, in broad daylight!, flying and hovering about in the field in front of our home. It must have been hunting for food for it's babies but what a joy it was to watch it dance in the air with such grace. A simple pleasure that was completely free. Treasure those moments 😉

Please do leave a comment sharing your thoughts, I would love to hear what you have to say on this topic. Blessings to you all today...

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Gentle Lessons From Nature

This sweet little plant has made its home in a crack on my patio. I love how it seems to be thriving and it's pretty purple flowers look fabulous against the white wall. It stands out and makes a statement even though it is so small. It seems quite happy and content with where it is.


I find that nature can often be a great teacher. So many lessons observed in nature can be applied to our lives. This little plant for example, living in such an unexpected place under less than ideal conditions is doing just what God intended it to do and doing so looking beautiful. I feel blessed to be living in the home we are living in, right out in nature, even though it's not in the county I would like it to be 😊. Still, I am reminded to 'bloom where I am planted' until the Lord sees fit.


Then there's the lesson of hope in what is to come. I see this in the garden as I watch the delicate flowers of the raspberries and tomato's bloom; slowly develop into fruit; then ripen in it's season to nourish our bodies. Our own lives should be bearing fruit but I am reminded that there is a process that goes on before we actually see that fruit. First there is a stage of dormancy and rest. Nothing seems to be happening but a time of quietness and resting is needed for the growth that is to come.


Are your roots firmly in the Word of God? Are you drawing up and storing it's goodness, making ready for the growing and fruiting season? Is the fruit to come useful to others? Will it nourish their souls and build them up. How important each stage of this process is. I've been viewing the dormant/resting stage as not good. But that's not true at all. It would only be bad if I never moved out of this stage.


The Lesson of Abundance. If I am faithful to put my roots in Christ then I will have an abundant life. From May onward, I notice how abundant everything is. The plants are flowering, the hedgerows reach out and touch our cars as we drive down the lane and are packed with plants that offer free food; elderflowers, blackberries, nettles. Birds, butterflies and insects have made their home in the hedgerows and as we walk or drive along the way they dart across out paths. 


In each season of life, God offers us abundance if we trust in Him.


Who we choose to associate with matters. This year I placed my tomato plants next to my lavender shrubs for no reason other than that spot receives the most sun and I quite like the look of them there. It's had an unexpected benefit that I had not foreseen. My tomato plants are about the healthiest they have ever been. They have not succumbed to any pests or mildew such is usually the case. They are strong, healthy and thriving. Likewise, who we choose to plant ourselves with makes a difference to the health of our lives. Do we have people in our lives that literally suck the life out of us, that criticise, break-down and discourage? Or are the people we surround ourselves with encouraging, kind and help build us up to be a better person? 

Do you ponder on such things? I sometimes wonder if I'm a bit strange when I relate weeds in my garden to weeds in my heart 😂 and that sort of thing. I would love to hear your thoughts on lessons you have drawn from nature, your garden or the world around you.

Blessings to you all today...

Friday, June 08, 2018

Frugal Friday :: Tackling Debt



There is joy in keeping a frugal home. I know that might sound a bit odd for some but I personally gain a sense of achievement if I have managed to stick to my budget, save on what I thought I might spend or better yet, make that final payment on a debt.

In this modern world, debt in one form or another is something few of us can avoid. I wasn't brought up with money-savvy parents, everything I have learnt has been through the school of hard knocks. I'm glad I learnt my lessons early for by-and-large, I have run a frugal home from the time my children were about 3 and 5.

I don't believe that we will ever reach that time of complete 'enlightenment & knowledge'. There always seems to be something new to learn, new ways to improve on things and that applies to personal finances too. My husband and I have decided that we want to become debt-free, not only debt-free but we want to build up assets (home) & finances that are healthy enough to carry us through our old age and while we are working towards all this we want to teach our young adult children these healthy financial habits too.

Let's face it, the world is all about material gain and image which apparently buys you happiness.

As with most worldly messages, it's a lie.

Materialism and keeping up appearances is crippling to your finances, your long-term future and your peace. Deciding to turn things around, no matter what age you are is the first step to carving out the life you want.

"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law." Romans 13:8


We are fortunate not to have overwhelming debt but there are a couple of things that we want to get rid of so that we can honour the Lord in this area of our lives. The debt we do have is taking away from not only our retirement years but also being able to help others which are honouring to God. 

It can be hard knowing just where to begin. We wanted a Biblical approach to looking at and handling our finances and Dave Ramsey fits that bill. I have purchased a copy of his classic edition of The Total Money Makeover. This is a GREAT place to begin. This book is full of solid practical advice, financial myth-busters, inspirational stories of people who have followed the steps and made a difference in their lives. 



I'm all about the how-to. Give me a clear-cut plan that makes sense and I'm there. If you are going to buy just one book on finances, this is it. Dave Ramsey does not promise a quick and easy fix, after all, generally, it's taken years to get into a pickle so it goes to reason that it's going to take time to get sorted out.


Dave Ramsey works in '7 Baby Steps'. I have a {not so} funny story to tell you about these the first of these steps. The first step (Baby step 1) is to save $ (£)1000.00 for 'Murphy' - you know how it goes, just when you think all is well and you are finally getting on top of things, Murphy pays you a visit just to remind you that he's in charge. This is SOOOOO true.

Well, we achieved Baby Step 1 which is that rainy-day fund to tackle whatever Murphy has to throw at us. One Saturday, we were having a conversation with our 20-year-old about the importance of having this fund and now that we had it sorted we could move onto baby step 2. Can you believe that within 30 minutes of having this conversation a warning light came on in my husbands newly serviced and repaired car! Was Murphy listening? He must have been. What a cruel trick to play!

Things happen in life and it is good to have a safety net in order to cope. I'm so glad for this good advice! Like I said, this book is full of wisdom. I haven't read it all but so far I'm loving what I'm learning. Part of being frugal is to plan for life's stormy moments. I don't for one minute think it takes that rather fed-up feeling away but it does help eliminate the stress and worry.

I'm hoping to make Frugal Friday a bit of a running link-up party. Is that something you would be interested in? Something that you would like to participate in perhaps? I love finding frugal ways to run my home. It could be anything from budget-friendly recipes to making your own laundry detergent to frugal days out with the family. I know that there are lots of blogs out there that focus entirely on this but I thought it might be nice for our little community to have a place to share tried and tested ways of practising frugal living. If you are keen to add your own links from your blog please do, I would love to pop on over and glean some of your great ideas and wisdom.

Blessings to you all today...

Join the linky party by leaving your link.