2015 – a year for simple goals

New Year’s has come and gone.

My favorite holiday.

I’ve been brooding about New Year’s Resolutions for about six weeks now. I know, my love for them is a little over the top.

There’s so many things I want to do!

And so little… everything.

Last year my goals were good and there was a ton of success {yippee} but they were a little complicated.

This year I don’t have time to be that detailed. We’ll start out really simple and build from there every month.

Want to hear my goals? (me too, cause these are coming straight off the {hoodie} cuff.

1. Treasure God and His Word. That might seem nebulous, but it’s not. It is simultaneously the most simple and rewarding obligation and the most difficult and elusive pursuit. In any circumstance I can ask myself, What do I love?

2. Read. Read. Read.

3. Regain an enthusiasm for mothering. I think I’ve lost some of the rah-rah that always seemed to come so naturally. But that’s okay – I’m a big believer in the fact that correct emotions will follow obedience. Lately I’ve just wanted to hide in bed from all the responsibility (until I realized Proverbs might have a thing or two to say about that). I’m asking the Lord to help me see and hear and feel and slow down – to love all the cuteness and craziness that I live in every single day.

4. Make monthly menus and make one freezer meal a week.

5. Write out a list for every day (and right here my list-loving Mom starts rejoicing for the prodigal coming home) and a list for every week. Also do a monthly goals check-up. 

And honestly, I think that’s all for now. I do want to build and elaborate as the months go by, but if I make improvement in each of these areas by next January 1, that will be wonderful.

Happy New Year!

(10 days late)

 

New Year’s questions for my kids {2015}

Last year I made a list of questions that I asked my girls on New Year’s Day. Their answers surprised me!

I didn’t have chance to do that on January 1 this year – didn’t even have the list made – but it’s not too late! I decided to make a brand new list just to keep things fresh. ; )

Here are twelve questions to ask your kids at the beginning of the year:

1. What was your favorite thing that happened last year?

2. What was the saddest thing that happened last year?

3. Where was your favorite place you visited?

4. Where is somewhere you would like to visit this year?

5. What did you most appreciate about your family last year? How could you communicate that?

6. What did you learn from the Bible last year?

7. Are there any specific sins that God convicted you about?

8. How do you think you could grow in your love for God this year?

9. Are there any things that keep you from loving God? any things that you find easier to love than God?

10. What did you most appreciate about your church?

11. What could you do to love your church family more this year?

12.What would you like to learn this year?

Zoe can wait a couple more years. = )
Zoe can wait a couple more years. = )

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This is just a place to start! I’ll probably vary it depending on the age of who I’m asking. Let me know if you try it!

What would you add to this list?

*Happy New Year!

 

365 days

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We experienced God’s faithfulness every day last year. Three hundred and sixty-five days of meals, transportation, shelter… who knows how many millions of breaths.

Three hundred and sixty-five days of kindness, goodness, patience, forgiveness and grace.

Three hundred and sixty-five days closer to the image of Christ – in ways we can and cannot see.

Normally on New Year’s I’m looking ahead – planning, making goals, working out for the first of five times in the year. But today I’m just thinking about what all of the sudden is “last year.” We were given 365 days to image God and spread His glory. How I hope to be more faithful to that task in the next few hundred days. But I am comforted by the memory of God’s faithfulness last year and confident of His faithfulness for every future day He gives.

 

Dollars like Pine Straw

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It was a few short months before we would move. We were under contract with our house, but still using “if” and “maybe” terms with the girls just in case something fell through. Boxes were piling up and our already crowded living space was growing smaller by the day.

Some days I just couldn’t take it anymore and would announce to the girls, “Put your shoes on! We’re going outside.” It didn’t really matter if it was lunch time, nap time, something-else-important time, we would go out. One of the girls favorite places to go was the tennis courts. They could run around, play kickball (sort of), play baseball ( no apparent relation to the game you and I know), or sing the latest national anthem they had composed.

The little girls would often tire of the organized games the older girls attempted to play and begin to find fun of their own.

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I was sitting there holding Zoe in a sleepy wrap, a little hot and so much on my mind. Gracie ran up to me with a piece of pine straw.

“Here! This is two dollars. You can buy a house with this!” she said with excitement.

I laughed. “I think we’ll need a little more than that.”

“Okay. No problem.” She ran off merrily.

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It became a great game. She and Mckayla would hunt pine straw all over the tennis court and bring it to me for various things. Dollars for a house, dollars for food, dollars to buy the girlies a present, dollars for McDonald’s…

I received it all with great excitement – “thanks!”

I think I also received a gentle little reminder from the Lord.

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Dollars really are like pine straw. He can find them wherever He wants and give or take them at His good pleasure. As silly as it is for my girls to pretend like a few needles of pine straw could pay for a house, it’s equally silly for humans to think that we can or cannot manage whatever God places in our path.

It’s easy to turn our attention once again to dollars at this Christmas season; but this is just a little reminder for me and maybe for you that our God really does own the cattle on a thousand hills, the wealth in every mine. The whole universe is at His disposal.

Our thoughts, plans, or worries regarding money – to Him might as well be pine straw.

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Giveaway winner and Cookoff Recipes

Hello! I’m so happy today to tell you about our giveaway winner and to share the recipes from the Food Lion Frugal Cookoff.

First up, the winner of the $250 gift card to Food Lion is… Kelly! Congratulations, Kelly! I hope this prize will be a blessing to you this holiday season. You’ll receive an email from me soon.

And now for the recipes! Remember we came up with these with only ten minutes to plan, ten minutes to shop, and forty-five minutes to cook – wow! Malise, I love your name for the turkey burgers! She and I both prepped the meat mixture; she totally did the squash fries – you have to try them! – and I prepared the apples and onions. If apples and onions doesn’t sound good to you, I dare you to try it! Just the right amount of tart, sweet, and savory. (I actually got the idea while feverishly looking through an old church cookbook while nursing my baby before the cookoff. Ha! You never know. And Kate Troost, I owe you.)

Okay, enough history. = ) Let me know if you try these!!

 

Makes 4 servings
Cost of meal: (not including pork chops and spices) $15.70
Approximate cooking time: 45 minutes
Grocery List for our Complete Menu Ingredients (not including the staples pantry and protein that were provided):
Ciabatta bread
Parsley
Green Onion
Garlic
2 Onions
Buttercup Squash
Parmesan cheese
Fresh Mushrooms
2 Apples
1 Orange
1 bunch of Spinach
Southern Surprise Perky Burgers
These burgers are from an original recipe my mother, Perky, used to make. She was a Greensboro native and a fabulous cook for our family of 7. She always made a Southern Surprise Burger similar to this so they are named after her recipe. She was an early adaptor of ground turkey as a healthy alternative to ground beef. We always loved it and we hope you do, too. ~ Malise @CarolinaMama
1 .lb Ground Turkey
Olive Oil – coat non-stick pan
¼ c. Parsley
2 T. green onion chopped
2 T. yellow onion chopped
½ t. each Pepper, Cayenne
1T. Italian seasoning
1 t. salt
¼ c. Balsamic Vinegar
4 Garlic Cloves – diced
Topping and Surprise:
½ c. yellow onion
4 Garlic Cloves – diced
¼ c. Real Parmesan Cheese – shredded
1. c. Fresh Mushrooms – rinsed and sliced
Flour to dust
Ciabatta Bread – sliced into squares
Directions: Heat Olive Oil in non-stick pan over medium heat. Mix ground turkey and the next eight ingredients on the list. Mix thoroughly. Separately, saute the topping and surprise ingredients in the pan for about three or four minutes. (except the flour) Back to the turkey mixture, form balls that are the size of sliders/thick 3-4 inch burgers. Press the center, spoon a bit of onion and garlic into the center and then, spoon in a teaspoon of parmesean, form a ball, and dust with flour, grill evenly on both sides about 4 minutes each. Do not press burgers while grilling. Remove burgers from pan, place on bottom of Ciabatta bread, sliced in squares, take the top of the bread and wipe the pan adding the oil mixture and flavor from the pan to the bread. Spoon some of the mushroom and onion mixture on top of each burger. Add Spinach to burger. A slice of orange for color. Enjoy.
Buttercup Squash Parmesan Fries
Buttercup Squash
½ c. Parmesan Cheese Shredded, Fresh
2 t. salt and pepper
½ t. cayenne pepper
½ t. garlic powder
Olive oil
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pour Olive Oil onto non-stick baking pan, distribute evenly.
Slice squash open, clean and rinse. Begin slicing into long slices for french fries. Use small
slices as well. Once sliced to desired size, spread the buttercup squash onto the cooking pan,
evenly and where each slice of squash is flat on the pan, not stacked. Evenly sprinkle the seasoning including the parmesan onto the fries. Bake for 10 minutes. Take the pan out and
flip fries over with a spatula and cook for 10 more minutes. Enjoy.
Simple Apples and Onions
Green apple, chopped
Red Apple, chopped
½ of sweet onion, sliced
Salt
Pepper
Olive oil
Orange Slices
Saute apples and onions in olive oil over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, stir. Cover and cook five more minutes. Squeeze fresh orange over the apples and onions. Remove from heat and serve. Enjoy.
Orange BBQ Sauce

(serve on burgers or use to dip fries)
BBQ Sauce, Food Lion Original
Orange Slices
Pepper
Cayenne
Sugar
Squeeze 1T of fresh orange into 1/2 cup of barbecue sauce. Stir in pepper, cayenne, and sugar to taste. Enjoy.

Food Lion Frugal Cookoff – giveaway

This giveaway can’t wait any longer!

In case you’re short on time, here’s what you need to know: Food Lion hosted a super fun Frugal Cookoff and I had the privilege of being one of the contestants! (If you’ve read this, I promise I have not turned into Pinocchio.) As a result, I get to give away a $250 gift card to one of my readers. Hooray! Who wouldn’t want free groceries? Please enter the giveaway! Scroll down to the portion in bold and follow the directions for your chance to win!

Now for the story! = )

Out of the blue one night, I received a message from my friend Malise at Carolina Mama. She has a “fun idea/event opportunity for me.” After talking to her I found out about the Food Lion Frugal Cookoff. A chance to participate in a cooking contest – mystery meat ingredient, fifteen dollar budget of Food Lion essential brand products, forty-five minutes to prepare a main course and two sides – what could be more fun than that? At this point I have to tell you that my husband and I watched Chopped for a loooooong time; and I always wanted to try it. I was so happy it worked out to participate!! Thanks, Malise, for thinking of me!

My emotions took turns being excited, being nervous, being mad at myself for getting into something where I would probably make a fool of myself, and being completely uninvolved as I went about the daily tasks of taking care of my five girls.

I found out that we would be on teams… and Malise would be my partner – yay!!

We also found out that our meat for the main dish would be one of these four choices, boneless chicken breast, ground turkey, boneless pork chop, or tilapia.

I’ve used all of these except ground turkey so I decided to “research” a little. (Ahem, Pinterest.) The only things that looked good were turkey burgers or turkey meatballs, but turkey meatballs seemed a little too risky. I looked up ideas for the other meats, emailed Malise all my ideas and thoughts and then said, “Whatever you want to do is fine with me because you’ve been cooking way longer than I have!” = )

On the night of the cookoff we were given ground turkey! Our menu consisted of Southern Surprise Turkey Burgers, Parmesan Buttercup Squash Fries, and Simple Apples and Onions. Later I will share recipes and more about the competition – it was so fun!!

And… drumroll please… we won!!!

Can you believe it??? I sure couldn’t!!!

Actually, I was looking around at everyone else’s plates thinking they looked so good, so pretty and yummy. But, when I tasted ours, I thought, Hmmm…. we might have a chance!

It was all so yummy! You’ll have to check back for the recipes!! = )

Before I finish talking your ear off about this, I have to say that Food Lion was such a great sponsor! They explained their effort to provide fresh produce, fresh meat, and quality staples, all at their very lowest prices. They have even have new lines of organic and natural products – and, they gave us a goody bag that sampled these products – yum!! You should try them!

Now for the good part: I have one $250 Food Lion gift card to give away to one of my readers – yay!!

Here’s how to enter: Leave a comment here, like the blog on facebook, or share the giveaway via facebook, or all three for three chances to win!! 

Let me know in your comments what you’ve done! I will announce the winner a week from today – next Tuesday!

A huge thanks to Food Lion for the opportunity to participate in the Frugal Cookoff! Thanks also to Malise of Carolina Mama for letting me know about the event and for being such a great teammate!

I can’t wait to tell you more of the story, show you more pictures; for now here’s the youtube clip!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can and Can’t

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Pardon a thought train here.

I look out the window and see my two oldest daughters attempts to free a kite that is stuck in a tree about twenty-five feet in the air. I’m fairly sure they will not be able to get it down.

But what if they could? If one of them figured out how to climb the tall pine tree and get out on the branch would I let them?

In the battle of attempting and achieving the impossible or staying safe, where do my loyalties lie?

We have certainly heard enough of the “if you can believe it you can achieve it” mentality. So many waste their life on useless pursuits, passing by a meaningful, ordinary existence.

I recently read (was it by Tim Challies?) “Seven things Fathers should tell their sons.”

One of them was “You can’t do it.”

And I totally agree. As finite human beings, and especially as believers we must admit our limitations.

However, when dealing with our kids – where do you draw the lines of hard, impossible, and foolish?

What if the Wright brothers parents had stopped them?

Which brings me to the next boxcar on this train – is there anything left to be discovered like that? If you could conceive something that had never been done before, something that would change human history – what would it be?

This is what I think about on a Thursday afternoon while making burritos.