Saturday, October 30, 2010

Coriander/Cilantro {Herbs for health and hunger}

 There has often been some confusion with this herb because it is called Cilantro when you use the leaves and Coriander when you use the seeds. This herb is used all the time and well loved in many Asian and Middle Eastern countries but I have found a lot of people here don't care a lot for the smell or taste.

  I have grown to really like it as long as I don't use to much! This summer when my cilantro was growing wildly out in the garden I do remember making one rice dish with a bit to much cilantro! However it adds a wonderful flavor to Indian Curries. We really, really enjoyed the last Chicken Curry I made with a nice touch of Cilantro.

 If you would like to make Chicken Curry I will share with you the "recipe" that I wrote down while Mr. and Mrs. Mathew (Some friends from India) were teaching us how to make it. I put recipe in quotation marks because I don't have exact measurements mostly just estimates. I don't personally mind that however as I have trouble following a recipe exactly anyway.

  Chicken Curry
Saute in oil:
  • a few mustard seeds
  • Lots of curry powder
  • Lots of sliced garlic
  • Lots of sliced ginger  (I told you the amounts weren't very scientific!!)
Then add:
  • Some chopped tomatoes (4 or 5 or more) When I don't have fresh tomatoes I use canned ones.
  • Lots of chopped onion.
  • A couple of stems of chopped cilantro leaves (or if you don't have fresh you can put in the coriander seeds.)
  • 2 T. Garam Masala
  • 1t. black pepper
  • 2 1/2 t. salt
Stir in small pieces of Chicken and potatoes and cook until tender.

Serve over rice and enjoy!

All parts of this plant can be used: leaves, flowers, roots and seeds. You don't want to let it go to waste!

So what is Cilantro/Coriander good for as far as Healing goes? (Remember however I am not a medical authority, I am simply sharing what I have tried or read concerning this herb)
  • It is antiviral.
  • The seed aids digestion.
  • It reduces flactuance (seed).
  • It eases Migraine headaches. (seed)
  • Sprinkle some Coriander on cuts and scrapes after washing to prevent infection.
  • It may relieve Arthritis with anti-inflammatory action.
  • Weak coriander infusions may be given cautiously to children under age 2 for colic.
To Grow:
It grows quite easily from seeds sown 1/2 inch deep in early Spring. Germination can take up to 3 weeks. It grows best in moist, well drained, moderately rich soil under full sun, but it tolerates some shade.

What do you like Cilantro/Coriander for?

This post is linked to the Home Remedies Carnival at Keeper of the Home.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Basil {Herbs for Hunger and Health}

Today's herbal post is about Basil. (We are talking about herbs this week, check out harvesting and using, making gifts from them and The One who gave them to us.) Not to long ago I didn't think I liked Basil all that much, I still used it in Italian foods but I didn't want to taste the flavor very strongly.

  My dislike for it happened I believe when I was pregnant with Megan and I had a bunch of basil and I decided to try to use some up in some tortilla roll-ups. I put way to much in and with my stomach feeling pretty queasy I decided I really didn't care much for basil. :-)

  This summer however my ideas changed. I still planted basil because I wanted a little but it has always grown pretty prolifically for me so I again was faced with the question: "How do I use all this up?" (Because if you know me, you know I hate to waste!) I shared some of my basil with others but still had quite a bit and then I happened to run across this post. In it she shares a recipe for frugal pesto. I have long been curious about pesto but I had never tasted it much less made it. However I had all the ingredients on hand and so I decided to give it a whirl.

I love it! On fresh bread it was oh so yummy! I also enjoyed in on pasta and in tomato soup. I made enough to freeze for later, eat a bunch and share with my parents who also really liked it. I was wishing that I would have planted more basil! By the way her "secret" ingredient was to use sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts. I haven't tried the pine nut type of pesto but I do know that this one was good. Other ingredients are Basil (of course!), Parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic and a bit of salt.

  Other than pesto I basically use basil in Italian foods (spaghetti sauce, pizza, etc.). Where do you like to use basil?

And now for the really fun part! (at least I think so.) How can Basil contribute to good health? (As with most herbal remedies, these may or may not have had much testing. I am just sharing what I have read or tried, I cannot promise you that it will work in your situation.)
  • Getting rid of intestinal parasites. When I did some reading on these, it is thought that 80% of people have parasites, I would really prefer not to be one of that number so if eating some basil will help, I will be glad to do that..
  • Treat Acne. Basil oil applied to skin is supposed to help. You can make an infusion or tincture and apply it with a cotton ball to freshly washed skin.
  • Immune stimulant. Basil is supposed to stimulate the immune system by increasing production of disease fighting antibodies by up to 20%.
  • In Malaysia basil is also used to Promote menstruation.
  • Basil is thought to help with milk promotion in nursing mothers.
  • Mosquito repellent. The basil leaves should help with this, they also help when you have already been bitten.
  • Aids digestion and is antibacterial. Take an infusion.
  • Basil is a nerve tonic and eases overworked muscles when you use it as a massage oil.
  • Inhaling the essential oil refreshes the mind and stimulates a sense of smell dulled by viral infection.
  • Basil tea is said to help with nausea, gas pains and dysentery.
How to grow Basil:
Basil is an annual that grows easily from seeds. Sow it indoors in early spring or outdoors after danger of frost has passed and days are warm. Set plants 12 inches apart. Basil needs medium rich, well drained soil and full sun. Pinch off tips to promote bushiness and flower buds to maintain growth.

I am hoping to actually start some plants soon so that I can use it all winter long as I ended up not having enough to dry after my pesto making stint. :-)

   Basil works for me! What are your thoughts on Basil?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Have a Handmade Christmas ~ Week 2

 Welcome to week 2 of Have a Handmade Christmas Carnival! I hope you are willing to join me in making this a Handmade Holiday!

 This week at Proverbs 31 Living I have been talking about herbs, so today I decided to share some homemade herbal gift ideas. I think herbs are a lot of fun and I enjoy growing them and they are also fun to share with others.

Here are some ways: (and even if you don't grow herbs yourself, you could make some of these gifts by buying bulk herbs at a health food store.)

Idea #1 ~ Pot some herbs and give them for people that enjoy fresh and natural cooking. One of the pots in the picture actually shows a Rosemary plant that a friend of mine gave me last year. I have really enjoyed using it. They other one is Oregano that I potted this fall from out of my garden. Another option is to start brand new plants right now to have them ready for Christmas. Or even simpler, you could give a gift of the pot, soil and seeds.

Speaking of seeds.....

Idea #2 ~ If you have herbs or flowers that are producing seeds, save them! I made little envelopes for these and now they will make a perfect little gift. I know many a gardener would appreciate organic seeds. (And by the way, these two packets, one of Calendula and one of Echinacia are for one of you! See below...)

 To save the seeds you simply find the old flower heads and basically tear them apart. The seeds are usually quite easy to find. Make sure to get them from nice specimens of flowers.

 Idea #3 ~ Bath Bags. Make little cloth bags filled with either 1/2 cup oatmeal or dry milk as well as some (one kind or a mixture) of herbs. Both oatmeal and milk are good for the skin and the herbs can create a very soothing and healing aroma. I used Oatmeal with mint in one and catnip in the other. Lavender and chamomile are some other good options.

To use simply tie under the flow of water while the water flows in or even let it sit in the bath water like a tea bag.

 Idea # 4~ Dried herbs. If you have an abundance of herbs why not make them into welcome gifts for your cooking friends? I dried mine in my dehydrator, but them in sandwich bags and then I made little tags for them as well. I had fun used recycled brown card stock, magazine pictures, white card stock and a marker to make labels.
Idea #5 ~ Make up some herbal teas along with a tea ball and other fun tea things.
Idea # 6 ~If you want a gift for a feline receiver, use some catnip and make a little stuffed toy- I hear they love them!
Idea #7 ~ If you want to give a gift with a Victorian touch, make (or buy) some stationary and in the box put a little bag of yummy smelling herbs. Then they can send out scented stationary.
Idea #8 ~ Give Pesto, mint jelly or other edible treats.

How about a giveaway?
 Since I do have an abundance of herbs I thought it might be fun to share some of them with you! I am going to give away the items pictured as Item # 2 (Seeds) and Item # 4 (dried herbs). If you would like to win please leaving a comment below letting me know which one you would like if you win.

Additional chances to win will be given to those that link up a project of their own (please leave another comment too) and those that are followers through google connect, e-mail subscription or RSS feed of my blog (please leave another comment telling me how you subscribe.)

This giveaway is open to anyone and will be open until October 31.

Now it is your turn!!
Please link up your handmade Christmas projects. You can link up gift ideas, foods, decorations, basically anything handmade. I do ask that you please link back to A Handmade Christmas here at Proverbs 31 Living in your post. If you would add the logo to your post as well that would be appreciated too. Also please link to your specific post not just your blog. Thank you!

Herbs for Hunger and Health

Something that I have really been having a lot of fun using this year is herbs. I have long been interested in herbs and have grown them since I was a child. I even had my very own herb garden when I was growing up.

Though I have long like herbs I will admit I haven't always done a very good job of using them. I plant them and enjoy pinching off a leaf now and then to smell them and then I often let them go to waste for the most part.

This year I really worked at changing that and I have had a lot of fun. I still have a ways to go at using them to their full potential but I am learning! :-)

So I thought it would be fun to share some of the things I am learning with you. Some of it is my research and I am partially writing it all down so that I can find it again and some of the things I have tried and really like. I hope you are interested in learning more about herbs too. Also please share whatever expertise you have on herbs already in the comments!

  Today I am going to focus on harvesting and some basics on using them and then throughout this week I will have posts on individual herbs with favorite ways to use them and healing that they are supposed to be good for. Please come and join me!

  When do we harvest herbs?
Usually it is just as they begin to flower. The essence in them is the strongest in them at this time. However individual herbs can be different. Here is a chart that I found that lists many of the herbs and their own special time for harvest.

 Collect the leaves in the mid morning. After the dew has dried off of them but before the day gets too hot.

 You may like to water them the evening before to try to rinse them off so they are dust free. Or you can gently rinse them after you cut them.
  Roots are best harvested in the Fall after 1 or 2 frosts. They can be harvested at anytime however.

 How to harvest:
 Cut about 50 percent off of the plant, still leaving 4 inches or so. For slow growing herbs only cut around 1/3 off. I will admit I will cut more than this at times, especially if fall is approaching and they are annual plants. Then just cut away!

For seed heads (such as dill and coriander) cut the whole plant off with the seed on it and put it in a paper bag to dry. Then shake it and collect the seeds inside.

Ways to preserve herbs for winter:
  • Dry them. You can use the old fashioned method of making small bundles and hanging them upside down until they are dry and crumble easily (probably a couple of weeks) or you can do this but with a paper bag around them to prevent dust from getting on them or you can dry them using a dehydrator, microwave or oven (at around 100 degrees) to dry them.
  • Pot them and bring them in like that to use fresh all winter long!
  • Freeze them. Wash the herbs off before freezing. (I also read that basil, thyme and dill will have better color if they are blanched before freezing.) You can just put them in plastic bags and freeze or lay them out on a cookie sheet and flash freeze them before putting them in bags so they don't stick together. Another way to freeze herbs is to cut them up and freeze them in ice cube trays along with a little water.  After the cubes freeze but them in labeled bags in the freezer.
  • Put them in oil. Basil, tarragon, rosemary and sorrel can be stored in oil (vegetable or olive). Place leaves in a glass jar, alternating layers of leaves and oil. Store in the fridge. When you use the leaves scrape the oil back in the jar. They oil can be used for marinating, sauteing and dressings.
How do we use herbs?
  • Herbs are great for making teas out of. Use an herb by itself or combine it with another. To make a tea a general rule of thumb is to use 2 teaspoons of dried herb (in a tea ball or use a strainer) or 2-3 sprigs of fresh leaves for each cup of water. Poor boiling water over the herbs, cover and let sit for a minimum of 5 minutes. (Though I will admit, I am not this scientific with my tea making! ) Test your tea and allow more time if desired. Sweeten if you desire with maple syrup, honey, sugar, molasses or stevia. Hot herbal tea on a cold day is so very nice!
  • Cook with your herbs. Check out those more "complicated" recipes that use lots of herbs or just have fun experimenting with herbs in different recipes. Sometimes your family will say "What did you put in this!?" and sometimes they will say "This is really, really good!" Here is a little list that gives some suggestions on using herbs and spices.
  • Make an infusion. This is like herbal tea but stronger. You can drink it and also inhale the warm vapors from it for health benefits. To make an infusion steep 1/2 to 1 ounce of dried herb in 1 pint of boiling water for 10-20 minutes. (To use fresh herbs, double the amount.)  When you inhale the warm vapors while it steeps it may help relieve the discomforts of colds, flu, cough, bronchitis and allergies.
  • Make a tincture. I have never done this but I would like to try it. Tinctures make the herbs last longer than other methods of preservation. To make a tincture use 100 proof vodka or brandy or apple cider vinegar. Use 1 ounce of dried herbs for 5 ounces liquid. Put in a sealed container and let steep for 6 weeks. Label and date them well. Shake every few days. Keep out of direct sunlight.  Brown glass works well. It is up to you whether you strain out the plant material at the end of the 6 weeks. Tinctures are very potent so keep out of reach of small children.
  • Make an ointment. You can do this by adding 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of tincture to every ounce of commercial skin lotion. This can be used for burns, cuts and other skin problems.
  • Take an herbal bath. Fill a cloth bag with herbs and run your bathwater over it. You can also leave it in the water as you bathe.
I would love to hear any suggestions you have on using herbs too! Be sure to come back the rest of this week and I discuss specific herbs, herbal gifts and more!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Winner to Die cut business card giveaway.

Uprinting die cut business cards
We finally have a winner! I hosted this giveaway quite some time ago but nobody signed up. So I decided to have the winner be the first one who did sign up and the winner is Linda, who wants some for her husband Dale.

Dale and Linda are like an aunt and uncle to me and I am glad that Dale will be able to use these!

Every good thing is from God

 "Then God said, "Let the earth sprout vegetation; plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them"; and it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good."..... Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;" Genesis 1:11, 12 and 29

Doesn't the account of creation just leave you in awe of God? Especially when you start to learn more and more about all the plants and everything else God made. God's creation is incredible and He created it all by speaking!

  This year as I have been studying up on herbs and all the health benefits they have I have been just been in wonder over the intricacies of all that God made. He thought of everything! It reminded me of this verse in James:

 "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." James 1:17

  Our God knows all, He is unchanging and He is the giver of all good things. I have so much to thank Him for! What is really cool is that God isn't done showing us what He can do. When reading Revelation I enjoyed reading the descriptions that are in there of heaven.

Something I thought to be pretty neat was this description: "On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." Revelation 22:2  It sounds like what we have here doesn't even compare with what is there. Won't that be neat!?!

Since I have been having fun learning about herbs I thought I would share some of what I have learned with you. So stay tuned for a week of herb related posts!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Let's make some pretzels!

Yesterday we tried a baking project that we had never done before: Pretzels! It was fun and yummy!

 I thought I would share the recipe with you in case you would like to try them too. They are not hard to make, they are a fun project for the kids to help with and also they are a nice snack that isn't sweet.
Here is the recipe:
  • 1 T. dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 4 c. flour (I used 3 cups wholewheat and 1 cup white flour)
  • Salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
Mix together 1 cup flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Add in water and mix well. Mix in the rest of the flour. Knead dough until smooth adding more flour if needed.

Divide into 18 pieces (have your little ones practice their counting while they help.)

 Roll each piece into a rope around 15 inches long.

  Follow these pictures to shape them in the typical pretzel shape.

 Place on a lightly greased (or use a silicone mat like I do) baking sheet.
 Brush with a beaten egg and then sprinkle with salt.
Bake immediately (no rising) at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
Enjoy! (And feel free to get creative with your shaping - we did!)

Friday, October 22, 2010

10 ways to improve your health that won't cost you a dime

 Sometimes we can start to think that living in a healthy manner costs a lot. After all Dr.'s visits aren't cheap,  organic food costs more than the other and a gym membership isn't free either.

  However there are so many things we can do to help with our health that don't cost anything at all. I thought I would remind us of some of those today. And if we work at staying healthy we might not need to have those doctor's visits after all!

10 Ways to live more healthfully that don't cost you a dime:

  1. Breath Deeply. A lot of us spend most of our lives doing shallow breathing (Question: Does your chest go up and down when you breath or your stomach?- For deep breathing your stomach should be going in and out.). Good oxygen intake will help with our health in many ways. Check out more information here. Breathing deeply can be done anytime (even when singing, in fact I first learned about deep breathing from my voice instructor) and it is certainly free!
  2. Drink Water. Not only is this free (at least if you drink tap water) but it can save you money if you replace soda or something like that with it. I like to drink water but I can still get busy and forget to drink enough. I usually pay for that negligence with a headache. Other friends have ended up in the ER because they didn't get enough water. It is really important. (Check out more here.) 
  3. Laugh a lot! Do you remember this verse: "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones." (Proverbs 17:22) ? God knew all along (after all, He did make us!) that being joyful and laughing helps to keep us healthy but now modern medicine has "discovered" that it is true as well. Laughter helps your body relax, it helps strengthen your immune system and it improves the function of your blood vessels to name just a few. You can find out a lot more about it here.
  4. Get enough rest. This is sometimes easier said than done but it is essential! Not everybody needs the same amount of sleep, so work to figure out what you do need. Then make it a priority.
  5. Be active. We feel better when we stay active. Cleaning, gardening, yard work, going on a walk or bike ride, jumping rope, playing catch with the kids, running up and down the stairs while getting things done around the house can all help you feel more awake and alive. Even if you have to sit at a desk or have some other sedentary job you can do a few jumping jacks on your breaks. :-)
  6. Eat less sugar. This can actually save you money if you eliminate soda pop, candy and use less sugar in your baked goods. It will help you have a healthier heart too. When I bake I usually cut the sugar in half or I replace sugar with a natural sweetener. I would suppose outsiders might find my stuff not very sweet but my family is quite used to it and still likes what I bake very much.
  7. Lighten your schedule. This one is hard and one I am working on but still have a ways to go. However constant stress is very bad for your health and so I am trying to make our schedule one that isn't so stressful. I think this is a worthy endeavor.
  8. Be Thankful. When we are thankful and content in the situation we are in, that will help to improve our health too. Our mental health has a whole lot to do with our physical health!
  9. Forgive others. Holding a grudge/ staying upset at someone is very hard on a person physically. Give it to God! This goes along with our recent memory verse: "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just and in Christ, God forgave you. " Ephesians 4:32
  10. Pray and Meditate. This is something Christians have believed to help in healing and health for centuries but what is cool is that the scientific world is finally having to agree.
Do you have any practical and free health advice to add? I would love to hear your thoughts!

 Check out more Frugal tips at Life as MOM.
Check out lots more natural health care ideas at Keeper of the Home.

 Also, are you looking for inexpensive and homemade Christmas ideas? Have a Handmade Christmas is going on here every Tuesday. Check out  week one's carnival here and be sure to come back next week and link up your idea too!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Have a Handmade Christmas ~ Week 1

  It is time!   Time to have a handmade Christmas Carnival!  I hope you all have lots of ideas to share!

    If you have something handmade a gift, decoration or food that is for Christmas (or would work for Christmas) please consider linking it up here. I just ask that you link back to my blog when you link up please. And if you would put the above logo in your post I would really appreciate that! Scroll to the bottom of the post for linking up.

 As I have been thinking about Christmas gifts recently (and birthday and anniversary gifts as many fall in this season for us) I am faced with the same old question: How do I give something that the recipient likes, stays within my budget and doesn't end up just being clutter? Do you ever struggle with this? I do all the time. Some people (most men in my life for instance) I just have trouble thinking of good gifts for, and when I try to go handmade it is even harder!!

 Here are some of the things I was thinking about to help me make and give meaningful gifts:
  • What hobbies or interests does the recipient have? Can I give anything that would go along with that?
  • What sort of things do they actually use? With my kids I am thinking back to remember what gifts get used often and what sort of things just end up sitting around.
  • Do they have something that they like that is worn out and needs replacing?
  • What things do the like that are consumable? (food, stationary, things of that nature) These get used up so they make practical and welcome gifts.
Do you have any other tips for figuring out good gifts? Some people are really gifted in this area and I would love to have their insight!

 I was trying to think of a good present for Aaron (I will confess, it is for his birthday- I still need to work on Christmas!) and the inspiration came from the boys. We got a book on drawing in History and in it is a picture of a revolutionary soldier and the boys decided it would be fun to dress up like one. So they got busy and went to work (The picture below is before Aaron did much to his outfit, his later look was more authentic). I helped them transform their cowboy hats into tricorns. They have had fun drilling like soldiers do all over the yard with their sticks and being very imaginative.

   Anyway that got me to thinking... it would be fun to make a little better outfit for a gift. It is obviously something he would enjoy (he wasn't quite satisfied with he and Jonathan's workmanship) and also it would help him enjoy learning about history even more- and this Mama always likes to encourage learning! :-)

So I found some odds and ends...
An old leather coat, some tan ladies slacks I didn't like, a blue wool skirt, some red/orange wool pants, an old white t-shirt, an old white dress shirt and the picture in the book for inspiration and I went to work.

This is the finished product:
A wool jacket (made from the skirt and pants), breeches (made from the ladies slacks) with leggings (made from the old t-shirt) attached, White straps (made from the dress shirt) and a haversack (made from the leather coat).

  Inside the haversack we decided to put a map. Mara googled revolutionary war maps and found one of the 13 colonies that we could print out. Mara also wrote a pretend letter to go in his haversack as well. Both of those we smudged with furniture scratch cover (or you could use brown shoe polish) to make them look old.
  I am also thinking about putting some hard bread in it and possibly a tin plate and cup and playing cards. All things that they might have carried. We are also thinking about making a drum and then he could pretend to be the drummer boy. The ideas of what we could add to this are very numerous.
  I think what makes this really fun is not just having a costume but having a "story" to go with it. I am going to share the letter that Mara wrote with you to give you an idea of what I mean:

  Dearest Aaron,             May 15, 1776
  I do hope you are not faring too badly in that God-forsaken army.
 Ah, well it 'tis for a good cause.

  Mother still insists that you are much too young, brother dear, but it is an adventure I am sure.

  If I were a boy, I would come with you, and keep you out of mischief, but I suppose Father will have to do that now. I do hope Father is not busy with his duties as captain to keep at least half an eye on you.

  Can you play "Yankee Doodle" ,the new song, on your drum yet?

 I am sure life at home is very dull, compared to what you are doing.

 However, five count days ago, minutemen came, and to Mother's very great dismay, they took most of our silverware, and all of our pewter bowls. Mother is now sure that the Revolution will not suceed in getting even one seat in Parliament. She says we dine like beggars, with "woodware" and wood bowls. I personally think it will do us no harm to give a little to the men who are doing so much for Maryland - and also the rest of the colonies.

 Little brother, I swear the cows do not give as much milk with you gone. At least, it does not seem so. I most probably do just imagine it. Yesterday was churning day, and we did get less butter than usual, I know that for certain.

 I hear Mother telling me to come shell peas!

  Your ever patient sister,

P.S. Give Father a thousand hugs for me!
 I think most children love to dress up and imagine. A trunk, suitcase or box of dress up clothes would be welcomed by many a child. You don't have to know how to sew either. Start looking around at second hand stores and vintage shops and you could find some treasures. I do think it makes it even more fun if there is a theme to it however. Think about a book character (and then include the book too), a time in history (pioneer, knights and princesses, etc.) or something of that nature and then have everything go with it. I think most children would love it!

Now it is your turn! Please link up you ideas of handmade gifts ideas, decorations and more!

 Also, be sure to come back the next few week for even more handmade Christmas ideas!
This post is linked to Tea Rose Home's link party.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Not here forever!

 I have been enjoying reading Paul's epistles lately. Keren and I are teaching a Wednesday night kid's class from those books and so I am trying to absorb them as much as possible.

 There are some verses in 2 Corinthians that I thought would be fun to share with you. They are such good reminders that we are not here forever and we should spend the time we do have living for God. Here they are for you to enjoy too:

"Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day." 2 Cor. 4:16 Isn't this one encouraging? Especially those days when we feel tired and worn out, let's remember to let God work on our inner "man".

"For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." 2 Cor. 5:1 Do you keep that in mind, that what we have now is just our "tent"? I know I love going camping but there is no way that I would like to live in a tent all year round, I have a nicer place to stay in most of the year. We need to keep that in mind spiritually too, right now we are camping, in our tents but God has been building us a wonderful house that will be our permanent home. How exciting is that!?!

 "Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. " 2 Cor. 5: 9 & 10 Is it always my ambition to please God? I sure hope so! I hope it is yours too.

"For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf." 2 Cor. 5:14 & 15  Life in Jesus gives us purpose. When we try to just live for ourselves it is a dead end street, but living for Jesus gives us direction!

I hope you found these verses encouraging too!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bringing in the Harvest {Canning Tomatoes}

One thing that seems to always grow pretty well for me is tomatoes. I guess they like me. That is nice because I like them too!

 I like them fresh in our salads, in tacos, just sliced and eaten plain, on hamburgers or cooked in a myriad of dishes. I like to make salsa with them and can them that way or I like to simply can them in nice big chunks to use to cook with later.

Today I thought I would share my methods for canning plain ol' tomatoes. I do a very easy method where I don't even skin them. This works fine for our family, we don't mind a few skins now and then and it is simpler. If your family doesn't like skins however, Jackie at Blessings Overflowing has some easy directions for skinning your tomatoes.
Step 1. Collect your tomatoes. Search high and low in the garden for all the ripe ones available. (And now, after our frost, I am still canning tomatoes from the green ones that I brought in to ripen. Many are turning red fast.)

Step 2. Wash them well. (At this point you would also skin them if you want too.)
Meanwhile~ Heat a big pot, half full of water, to boiling while you put the tomatoes in jars.

Step 3: Cut off stems and any bad spots.

Step 4: Cut them in halves or quarters or whatever size you desire.

Step 5: Pack them in carefully cleaned canning jars (quart or pint sized).

Step 6: Squish them down (to get rid of air space). We use a wooden spoon for this and I advise you to find a cute helper for this job! :-)

Step 7: Put 1/2 teaspoon of salt in the top of each jar.

Step 8: Sterilize the canning lids with boiling water.

Step 9: Carefully wipe of the rim of the jars, put canning lid in place and screw tightly.

Step 10: Once all the jars are ready, place them in the pan of boiling water (The pan needs to have a rack on the bottom so that water can circulate around the jars) making sure that the water comes up 1 inch over the tops of the jars. (Add more hot water if needed)

Step 11: Bring the water back to a boil and then start the timer, 35 minutes for pints and 45 minutes for quarts.

Step 12: At the end of the time carefully take the jars out. I have a special canning tongs (a gift from my Grandma!) to get them out safely. Without jiggling set them gently on a towel. Leave them along until they are completely cool.

Step 13: Hopefully you have heard them all "pop" at this time and they are all sealed. Be sure to check to make sure that they are sealed (and that you can't pop the middle of the lid up and down) you don't want to end up with a jar of rotten tomatoes in your pantry! Any that are not sealed can be but in the fridge and used in a few days.

Step 14: Label them, wash of any residue with a rag and put them away.

Step 15: Bring them out and enjoy them all winter long!
Putting up our own food to eat for the winter is a way that we can save a lot of money. I am so happy that my mom was able to pass on the knowledge of canning to me. For more frugal tips visit Frugal Fridays at Life as MOM.

Also if you are interested in Frugal tips or just like to make your Christmas extra special with homemade gifts, please come back and join my here this next Tuesday! 

  That will be the first day of my "Have a Handmade Christmas" Carnival which we will be having weekly into December. Please write about you handmade ideas and come link up! If you would, I would love it if you would share this button on your blog as well!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Home improvement projects

  This fall has been a busy time for us as we have been working on putting up food from our garden, started a new school year, have been busy with political activities getting ready for the election and have had quite a few weekend activities too (including several trips). I guess we didn't think that was enough though (sheepish grin and shake of head) because we decided to throw some home improvement projects in there too.

 It all started because my older brother (who is a carpenter) was in the area temporarily and needing work. We also had some things that needed done on our house. So.... we decided to get busy. :-) Peter did various things like fixing leaks, putting up the rest of the trim in our downstairs (a project Ken and I had been planning on finishing for a couple of years, but hadn't.) and then he also put tile in our upstairs bathroom.
  This was rather exciting as previously it had been a not very exciting linoleum. I am a big fan of ceramic tile (at least it's looks and easy cleaning) and so I am loving this new look!

   I worked with Peter to get our bathroom ready for tiling. I didn't realize how long it would take to get the linoleum up. Whoever put it down, really used the glue! Peter and I had a few hours of fun visiting time while we worked at scraping it all up and making it flat for putting down the tile (though before tile Peter had to put concrete board down so that the tile doesn't crack as it is on an upper floor).

  After the tile was all laid (that was Peter's job, I wouldn't have minded trying to help but we were out of town when he did that) then I got to seal the grout and then I decided the paint needing touching up in that room so I painted and then Ken put the trim back down. The ceramic tile was some that my sister Anna and brother-in-law Travis had and they let us have it. I think it is beautiful and am very grateful to them!

   Getting things done around the house can get rather addicting so lately I have been painting again, touching up the cream paint all over the house (some places I basically just had to repaint) and then adding a wall of color in the living room/dining area. Now I am on to sewing: curtains, slipcovers and pillows. I also have been having fun changing decorations around. I am hoping to have it done soon and then I will give you a "tour".

  Do you enjoy doing home improvement projects? Have you been working on anything lately?


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