Monday, November 18, 2013

Crockpot "Baked" Potatoes


I don't know about you, but the crockpot is hands down one of my favorite kitchen appliances. I use almost every day to cook supper. Who has time to stand over a stove and cook when you can throw all the ingredients together in 5-10 minutes and have a lovely supper ready when hubby gets home? Kudos to you if you can do that. I'm not in that stage of life anymore, but I'm LOVIN' the freedom the crockpot gives me.

One of my new favorites is making a HUGE batch of baked potatoes. Yes. Baked potatoes. In. The. Crockpot. 

OK, so maybe I'm completely behind the times on this. Maybe everyone else already knew this beautiful gem of knowledge. I forget where I first heard it mentioned, but half a bag of potatoes about to go bad encouraged me to give it a try. (If it messed up, they were about to go bad anyway. If it succeeded, I just saved 5 lbs of potatoes.)

5 lbs of potatoes were saved. Hallelujah! 

Yes, I fit 5 lbs of potatoes in my 6 qt crockpot. I ended up cooking it on high for around 6 hours before they were done. I think it would go faster if you didn't have quite as many in there as I did. 

I literally washed them and threw them in. No foil. No poking with a fork. Wash. Crockpot. It's beautiful.

Seriously, they're perfect! And you don't have the oven on for hours trying to get them perfect which saves on your electricity bill. And you save on foil. And on the time it takes to repeatedly stab multiple potatoes. Added bonus tip - if you don't want to stand and scrub massive amounts of potatoes, you can throw them in your dishwasher on a rinse cycle. Voila! Clean potatoes ready to go straight to the crockpot.

Given how much I love a baked potato, I'm pretty excited about this new-found trick - a complicated side dish just turned into something easy peasy. Seriously, your five year old child can do this all by himself. 

Just in time for the holidays. 

Cheers! From my kitchen to yours. ♥

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Google +

So, I finally joined Google +. Not really sure what I'm doing, but I'm there. Follow me. Add me in your circle. Do whatever's cool. ... If nothing else, just know I now exist in that land too.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dear Mom & Dad - I'm Sorry

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My daughter is beautiful & sweet & growing right up. She's definitely not to the point that she can intentionally do anything to hurt me, but, since we are all sinners, I know that time is coming. I can't exactly say I'm looking forward to it. It makes me sad just knowing that it will happen one day - and it makes me sad knowing that I did do things (intentionally and on accident) that hurt my parents growing up.

I'm sorry, Mom & Dad. I didn't really know what I was doing.

It's amazing how perspective changes when you become a parent. It also brings to mind our actions against our Heavenly Father.

If I'm pained at simply the thought of my daughter, whom I love dearly, hurting me, how much more will the actual pain be? How much more do our hurtful actions hurt God, who loves us purely?

On the flip side - my daughter regularly recognizes me and smiles when she sees me. Full face, beaming smiles that involve her eyes. Sometimes her nose crinkles. It's adorable. She can't intentionally obey me yet, but just knowing that she recognizes me is heart-warming.

How much more does it make our Father glad when we recognize him? When we know he is the one who provides for us, watches over us - and we smile at him?

How has God provided for you? Have you taken time to smile him a thank you?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

YouTube Debut

I made my debut on YouTube yesterday - yay! haha

Check it out:


I thought a "demo" or "live sample" of my Handmade, Heart-Shaped, All-in-One Stationary would be helpful. It's so hard to convey the function and cuteness of these envelope stationaries in the 5 allotted pictures on Etsy.

The video showcases the small size option.

If you like the idea, you can purchase stationary like this here. I have small vintage-style, small natural theme, and large baby girl themed sets currently available.

Don't forget you can like my shop on FB to keep up with all the latest.

I'm also on Pinterest and Twitter where you can see great tips for home style and food (Pinterest) and giveaways and sweepstakes (Twitter). And, of course, I love having you as a reader here!

PS - I have a collection of books available on Amazon as well, if you're in the market for something to read.

Friday, July 26, 2013

What Childbirth Taught Me About Grace

In case you've wondered why I've been inactive for almost a month, I gave birth end of June to my beautiful daughter. Since she's almost a month old already (so hard to believe!) I thought I would share some reflections on the childbirth process and some takeaways.

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I decided to give birth naturally (no anesthesia, epidural, etc) for a variety of reasons. This meant pain. Now most of what I remember was no worse for me than my normal that-time-of-the-month cramping, but of course it intensified over time. I prayed a lot through my pain. In fact that's apparently all I did for the last few hours of labor.

I remember that it hurt - quite a lot actually. And I remember thinking about Adam and Eve, and what birth could have been like before the fall.

I imagine Eve laying in a meadow of flowers calmly sipping refreshing tea and nibbling on some fresh fruit with the honey the bees delivered to her. Adam and her talk about their future. They know their baby is on the way because Eve's abdomen is contracting, but of course it doesn't hurt. (They don't know what pain is.) Then, her face lights up and she pushes a few a times. Adam catches the baby as he slides out. They sit and stare at him for awhile and smile at each other. Then Adam helps Eve up and they start walking around the garden showing their newborn off to all of their animal friends.

Quick. Easy. Painless.

We aren't told if Adam and Eve had children before the fall or not. I like to think she did since God told her there would be pain in childbirth now as a part of the punishment for their disobedience. Why would she know that was punishment unless she had experienced birth as it should be first? But I wouldn't stake anything on that theory.

Now there's pain in childbirth? There wasn't before? Curse you, Adam and Eve!

Wait. That's the problem.

Uncurse you!

Funny thing. I remember that labor hurt - quite a lot, actually, but I don't actually remember the pain. It's like God has grace even in his punishment...he erases the memory of the pain. And in the end you're just left with a beautiful gift.

But even if I didn't forget my pain, my daughter is absolutely worth every second of pain I was in. That was what motivated me to continue. I knew the outcome. I knew I would be bringing my child into the world. So I labored on.

The pain brought new meaning to many passages of Scripture, too. While I was in labor, I kept thinking about the last days, and times when God would bring his judgement on the nations. One of the most common and vivid descriptions of what folks feel during that time is pains as of a woman in labor.

Now, before I gave birth of course I knew the birthing process was painful. I was not fooled in that regard. Still, the head knowledge is totally different from personally experiencing birth.

In my case, I knew I had a beautiful blessing waiting for me at the end of the pain. With God's judgement? There's no happy ending. It's just pain. Pain like you can't imagine (please don't let that scare you if you're wanting a natural birth. The pain's totally worth it in that case, and, yes, I plan on doing natural birth for any future children I have.), but there's no blessing. Only wrath.

That's a terrifying position to be in.

But nature is also groaning like a woman in labor. Why? Because its waiting. It's waiting to be redeemed like humanity. It's waiting for it's rebirth - for Christ to return. For the new heavens and the new earth to be born. For nature to be restored to how it should've been - a prefall state. And these labor pains are much longer than any we experience in childbirth.

They're longer, and, I daresay, more intense. For if childbirth is a beautiful blessing (and it is) how much more so the restoring of the world to how it should be? For the final stage of redemption? For Christ's return and reign? If childbirth is worth the pain and time, how much more so is this?

And this is grace. For we ought to be groaning in those pains waiting for wrath. No hope. Just pain.

Just pain, and knowing it's only going to get worse.

Instead, we're given the blessing of childbirth - the earth waits through it's pain, groaning. But redemption has come. Restoration is coming. And then there will be no more pain, and our tears will be wiped away.

All of creation deserves the pain with no blessing and all wrath. And instead we're given grace. We're given blessing after blessing. Hallelu Yah.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Why I am Not a Minimalist

I know a lot of folks are into minimalism lately, and I understand it's attractiveness and why it's so popular. As a whole, Americans are laden with stuff. I've often felt compelled to just throw everything away and start fresh (I never do. That's way too expensive a proposition with all the things I'd be forced to replace.). So I'm sympathetic to minimalism.

Most of the time, though, when I hear people talk about minimalism it seems unrealistic. Some examples include:

  • You only need enough clothes so that you wear them all and wash them (and you're doing laundry pretty much all the time because of this).
  • You don't need any books, movies, or music. All of that can be borrowed/rented, or found online.
  • No decorations or pictures set out on a shelf - that's clutter.
  • Who cares that your grandma made that blanket for you, it doesn't match your decor so toss it.

By no means do I argue that Americans in large should learn to be content with less. Nor do I think that decluttering is a bad thing - its something I've been working on for several years. I've downsized a lot. But I don't view it as living minimally, I view it as a part of living simply. 

Simplify your lifestyle. Don't say "yes" to everything. Don't pick up all the Swag you don't need. Do throw away, give away, or donate possessions that don't serve a practical, sentimental, or other specific purpose.

*****

Sentimental value does not have to mean that you can never part with something that was given to you as a gift. It's ok. If it's not enhancing your life or bringing back fond memories it's ok to let it go. At that point it's a burden in your life, and I'm sure that was not the intent of the gift-giver.

By "other specific purpose" I mean that china you rarely use is ok to hold on to. Have a hobby? A collection? You don't have to toss them. Get rid of things you don't need or don't bring you pleasure, don't think because something isn't dreadfully practical it must go.

*****

Though I've been working on downsizing for many years, I have recently tried to regularly find things I don't need/use/etc and handle them appropriately. Some of those decisions were not easy to make, but truthfully, thus far, I've missed nothing, and haven't even felt the cuts.

And that's the point. You can simplify your life by free up your space and time without having to do with the bare minimum. You shouldn't feel guilty for owning things. It's a blessing. Give yourself grace and allow yourself to take pleasure in what you enjoy (unless it's hoarding, then we might need to talk). And think of how you'll be able to bless others by simplifying your life.
  • Your family will be better off because you'll be less stressed because you have fewer things that just get in the way. (double blessing!)
  • If you give away things, there's an obvious way to bless others you know personally!
  • If you donate, you're blessing those who likely are unable to afford to pay full price for something, but are truly in need.
  • If you choose to sale, you're providing the item to someone who wants it, and you're making something off the deal too! (I recommend saving this money, or putting it toward something you need ... not just going out and blowing it on more things you'll just toss later. *grin*)

Live life fully. As I mentioned over here, Satan is the accuser. That's exactly the spirit I've caught from many self-professed minimalists. Condemnation. Guilt. Satan catches you coming and going - first he traps you with a ton of useless-to-you stuff, then he makes you feel guilty for owning any of it. Don't listen to him. That's not the spirit of Christ. He is full of grace and love. He is the provider of our needs, and appears to often bless us above what we need. 

Do stop buying things if won't serve a specific purpose. Clear distractions. Focus on Christ and your family. Simplify, and live life to the max. 



n.b. - I am not saying that if you claim minimalism, you are in league with the Devil. I am commenting on the general spirit I have felt often from self-professed minimalists. Many probably are unaware they convey this spirit when discussing their philosophy. 

Anyway, I do not think most minimalists are true minimalists. I think they usually take what they like and ditch the rest ... you know, minimally applying the philosophy to their lives ok, I know that wasn't funny, but please humor me. Some would argue that what I've articulated is minimalism. If it's helpful to you to think of it that way, that's fine. As long as you know I don't think of it that way and I view minimalism in a different context than simplified living. 

At the heart of the issue, in a broad sense, I would say that minimalism's goal and the goal of living simply are quite similar (don't let stuff bog you down) - the main difference I see is the heart behind the philosophy. One screams you must have less and throws guilt at you because you have; the other is filled with gratitude for what you have and wanting to bless others with what you don't need.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Remember

"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy."

It's the only commandment that beings with the word remember - almost as if God knew we would forget.

Well, guess what?

We did. 

 So says Dr. Matthew Sleeth on his book 24/6: A prescription for a healthier, happier life. And he's right.

I knew I agreed with the premise of his book before I picked it up. I've actually been trying to more actively keep the Sabbath - to set aside one whole day a week and rest (some weeks that is Saturday, some weeks that is Sunday, but I try to make one of those days happen a week). Total break. No doing housework or anything like that. Even hobby stuff is taboo if its going to be tiring.

When God created the world, he "created [everything] out of nothing, but on the morning of the seventh day, God makes nothing out of something. Rest is brought into being." (pg 23)

I'd never thought of that.

Who spoke the light into shining and the earth into spinning and the creeping, crawling things into crawling? God! How? That's not the point. Imagine an infinite God creating for six infinitely glorious days, and then on the seventh day he rests. We don't know the details. ...

The point is that something very important about the character of God is revealed on the seventh day: God stops.

Stopping is a problem for humans. We get a comfortable house, and then we want a bigger one. We get enough to eat and then we want more.

God doesn't need to rest after creating the universe because he's tired. He rests because he is holy, and everything that God does is holy. God rests. God is holy. Therefore, rest is holy. It's simple math.

Rest shows us who God is. He has restraint. Restraint is refraining from doing everything that one has the power to do. We must never mistake God's restraint for weakness. The opposite is true. God shows restraint; therefore, restraint is holy. (pg 32-33)

Resting. Restraint from work. Holy. It's true, but I'd never thought of that before.

When I began to take one day off every week, I was not a follower of Christ. Yet I found a spiritual benefit. I wanted to share the wonderful aspects of the day with the people I worked with in the hospital. I found that we were  great about listening to one another's tales of woe, over-work, purchases, action-packed vacations, and failing marriages, but we didn't have the language to talk about quiet, relaxation, love, and rest. The church often shies away from these topics as well. (pg 165)

You know, it's true - when was the last time we asked someone else what they did to relax that weekend? But look - even there "what did you DO to relax" - we're wired to constantly think in the active state. What about were you able to relax? Are we comfortable even thinking about just resting?

Many people describe a feeling of dread and anxiety when they think about spending time in quiet or alone. ... they experience boredom. ...

I believe the negative emotions and feelings we experience when we come to a stop are a barometer of our comfort with God. Are we truly bored by being alone with God in the midst of his glorious creation? Perhaps it is not God, the times, or the world that are boring. Maybe it is us. (pg 167)
Maybe never resting makes us boring - makes us unable to appreciate the interesting world we live in. We are made to be intimate with God, and the Sabbath helps to facilitate that. God set the example for us to rest and told us to follow that example. I believe this is something we should try and reclaim. Not to be legalistic about it as the Pharisees were, but to get back to what God said about the Sabbath, and not what man thinks...or is currently popular.

I don't agree with everything Dr. Sleeth says in his book, but I think the heart of the book is spot on, and he does make some excellent points.

I also really enjoyed his stories from his time in the OR and ER (don't worry, they're not gross). I found them very relatable and kept relating them back to stories my sister tells (she's an OR nurse). If you don't know that kindof background, though, his stories stand illustratively on their own. 

I think this is a book that many need to read. If people take it heart, it could honestly revolutionize our culture.


I read this book as a part of the Tyndale Summer Reading Program (which I explain in detail along with the  TyndaleRewards.com program here, if you are interested in signing up for Tyndale Rewards, you can do so here.) I do receive compensation and the links are my affiliate links, but all opinions are my own.