Friday, February 27, 2009

I am not Catholic

(I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in case anyone was wondering) and I don't know that much about it, but I have been checking on the Real Learning Message Board for a couple of years, and many of the women that post on the board are Catholic, and I've learned many things.

In the LDS church, we do not observe the Lenten season, or even things like Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, or Good Friday, but we do observe Easter. But last year, I decided to give something up for Lent to help me focus on Jesus' sacrifice.

This year, I'm focusing on the main "activities" of Lent - prayer, fasting and almsgiving - and choosing a few simple ways to bring them into our home. I was inspired by Elizabeth's , author of Real Learning book, blog to do this. Here is the suggestions she had for prayer, fasting and almsgiving on Ash Wednesday.

Pray: Listen. God is speaking to you right now. Stop interrupting.

Fast: Skip reading magazines, blogs, or anything else in the world that inspires self-pity instead of self-confidence.

Give: People are more important than things. Remember that your time and your attention are more valuable commodities to your family than your accomplishments.

I'll be honest, somedays I'll copy what Elizabeth is doing for her day, but other days, it will something specific to our family's situation. (I will credit Elizabeth when I use her suggestions though!)

So for the next 30 some days, my posts will probably be frequent but short. I'm sure I'll throw in some "regular" Simple posts too, but I want to let people know.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Talking, Doing, and Talking Again

There was a woman who gave a lesson on Sunday about Prayer. I sort of thought that it would be similar to the many lessons that I'd heard before about prayer. But it was, in fact, a very good lesson, and I heard some things about prayer that I hadn't really thought of in that way before. (I'm sure it was in large part to the teacher, right, Mary?)

Anyway, she based the lesson on this talk by David Bednar. There is a part of the talk that talks about how God created everything spiritually before it was created temporally. Then he said " In a similar way, meaningful morning prayer is an important element in the spiritual creation of each day—and precedes the temporal creation or the actual execution of the day. Just as the temporal creation was linked to and a continuation of the spiritual creation, so meaningful morning and evening prayers are linked to and are a continuation of each other.

There may be things in our character, in our behavior, or concerning our spiritual growth about which we need to counsel with Heavenly Father in morning prayer. After expressing appropriate thanks for blessings received, we plead for understanding, direction, and help to do the things we cannot do in our own strength alone. During the course of the day, we keep a prayer in our heart for continued assistance and guidance.

We notice during this particular day that there are occasions where normally we would have a tendency to speak harshly, and we do not; or we might be inclined to anger, but we are not. We discern heavenly help and strength and humbly recognize answers to our prayer. Even in that moment of recognition, we offer a silent prayer of gratitude.

At the end of our day, we kneel again and report back to our Father. We review the events of the day and express heartfelt thanks for the blessings and the help we received. We repent and, with the assistance of the Spirit of the Lord, identify ways we can do and become better tomorrow. Thus our evening prayer builds upon and is a continuation of our morning prayer. And our evening prayer also is a preparation for meaningful morning prayer."

I think that this could apply to anyone, even if you didn't pray. Just the fact of thinking about how you would like your day to go, perhaps even writing it down, and then keeping those thoughts in your head throughout the day, and then at the end of the day, think again about how your plans for the day went. For those of you who do pray, this would involve what the speaker said - Praying and talking to God about what you would like to do that day, how you would like to react, what you would like to accomplish, etc., then keeping a prayer in your heart throughout the day and keep those thoughts in your mind, and then in the evening, pray again and talk to God about how you did.

For me, it makes so much sense, but I haven't really thought about praying/thinking in that specific way before. Sometimes, for someone who is supposedly focusing on Simple Stuff, I miss some of the simple things to do. Ah well, it gives me stuff to keep working on - for the rest of my life, I'm sure.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What Do I Do With All That Wheat?

was the topic of this month's Women Living Wisely meeting. We had a bigger than normal turnout, and I feel like people were able to get a lot of the meeting. I talked about wheat and the common ways of using it (flour, cracked, wheat berries, bulgar, wheat grass, etc.). Everyone was supposed to bring something made out with wheat and the recipe for it. There were some seriously YUMMY food there, and a lot of people were very original with their uses too. After we sampled everything, then we started grinding wheat with grinders that people had brought. It was really good to find out who in our group has what, and what the different grinders are like, etc.

(When I get a chance, I'll post the handout and the recipes up in the documents area. Hopefully within a week.)

I know that storing wheat is one of the most basic items to store, and many people who store food focus on acquire the basic items first (wheat, water, salt, sugar, pasta, rice, dried milk, legumes). It was not the way that I decided to start though. I decided to start with canned goods, and then exanded it to frozen food, then hygeine and paper goods, and my goal was to have a three month supply (well, two weeks of water). I am pretty close to my goal for those items, and so my next goal is to start expanding our basic food storage. Part of my hesitation for storing the basic items is that I don't have storage space for those items. So my goal for 2009 is to move things out of our seasonal/long term closet and put them in our garage, put shelves along one wall of the closet, and store 3 months of the basic items for each member of the family. I am using the following chart and times it by 5 for us (and then by 3, for a three month supply for 5 people). The cans are #10 cans, unless otherwise noted. I also plan on buying a hand grinder for 2009. The electric grinder is budgeted for 2010. But now that we had this meeting, I know who I can bring a meal to in exchange for letting me use their grinder. LOL. Except not really. I totally plan on bartering for the use of the grinder for this year. I think that it is more provident for me to do it this way. And that is sort of the overall goal.

Wheat - 3 cans
Flour - 1 can
Rice - 2 cans
Oats - 1 can
Macaroni - 1 can
Pinto Beans - 1 can
White Sugar - 1 can
Powdered Milk - 1 can
Shortening - 2 3 pound cans
Salt - 2 8 oz. shakers

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What Once Was Lost, Now Is Found

well, except for the keys. I swear that they fell into the cashier's trash, or were lifted to the heavens, or something.

The camera was in the car. Jelly Bean found it.

The cell phone was in my coat pocket. Now, before you think "Why wasn't that the first place she looked?" I had been wearing my other winter coat for a few days, and I suspected that my cell phone might be in my "regular" coat pocket, but I didn't want to say it out loud and jinx myself.

And I put my coat on its hook, the camera on its shelf, and the cell phone on the charger. So everything is back in its place. For now. LOL

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Just in case you think I'm Simply Perfect

and ultra-organized, etc., and that I always have a place for things, everything in its place, , etc. I do have very good planning systems, and I am fairly organized.


I have been known to lose/misplace things occassionally. And this is a banner week for Simply Me in terms of losing things.

So far this week:

1. I gave my keys to the grocery cleck to scan my keychain card. Somewhere between that and going out to my car, my keys were lost. I've looked absolutely everywhere (pants, jacket, purse, the checkout station, the cart, the bags, the cart area, the parking lot, customer service 3 times, etc.) and they are nowhere to be found. As of yesterday, I officially gave up looking for them.

2. OK, this one might not be my fault. We went to swimming lessons last week, and I took the camera to take pictures of the kids. (Didn't actually remember to take any pics though. Ugh.) In the parking lot, Mr. Simple gave Jelly Bean the camera because he was leaving in a separate vehicle. I saw the exchange, and then I don't remember what happened after that. I'm not sure if the camera actually got to the car, or if someone took it out of the vehicle, or if someone/me put it someplace in the house that is not its usual place. Anyway, the digital camera is lost. Not a lot of pictures are on it, but I do like the camera and don't have money to replace, and I use it ALOT.

3. This one is totally my fault. I can't find my cell phone. This is after sort of misplacing it in the car the week before. The week before, I knew that I'd seen it in the car, and moved it someplace else in the car, but wasn't exactly sure where and hadn't had time to look. So then I found it (in the console area between the front seats.) So I picked it up, and I think? put it in my purse. That was a couple of days ago. I went to go recharge it last night, and I reached in my purse, and it isn't there. I have NO clue where it is. I guess it could still be in the car, but I am pretty sure that I did take it out of the car. I haven't had time to look for it, or the camera for that matter. I have hopes that both of these items are just misplaced and not actually completely missing.

So I probably should be using my time more wisely and be spending this time to look for my camera and my cell phone. And if anybody finds my keys, I'll take those too. Off to search . . .

Monday, February 16, 2009

More from Laura: About Gardening Sort Of, But Not Really

Now is the time to make a garden! Anyone can be a successful gardener at this time of year and I know of no pleasanter occupation these cold, snowy days, than to sit warm and snug by the fire making garden with pencil, in a seed catalog. What perfect vegetables do we raise in that way and so many of them! Our radishes are crisp and sweet, our lettuce tender and our tomatoes smooth and beautifully colored. Best of all, there is not a bug or worm in the whole garden and the work is so easily done.

It is so much easier to plan that it is to accomplish. When I started my small flock of Leghorns a few years ago, a friend inquired as to the profits of the flock and taking my accounts as a basis, he figured I would be a millionaire within five years. The five years are past, but alas, I am still obliged to be economical. There was nothing wrong with my friend figuring, except that he left out the word "if" and that made all the difference between profits figured out on paper and those worked out by actual experience.

My Leghorns would have made me a millionaire - if the hens had produced according to schedule; if the hawks had loved field mice better than chickens; if I had been so constituted that I never became weary, if prices - but why enumerate? Because allowance for that word "if" was not made in the figuring, the whole result was wrong.

It is necessary that we dream now and then. No one ever achieved anything from the smallest object to the greatest, unless the dream was dreamed first, yet those who stop at dreaming never accomplish anything. . . But the dream is only the beginning. We'd starve to death if we went no further with that garden than making it by the fire in the seed catalog. It takes judgement to plant the seeds at the right time, in the right place, and hard digging to make them grow, whether in the vegetable garden or in the garden of our lives.

- Laura Ingalls Wilder, "Make Your Dreams Come True", Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Family Collection

Thursday, February 12, 2009

How to Be Happy

I've posted quotes about happiness before, I know, but here's another person's take on how to be happy.

"The prerequisite for happiness is the ability to get fully involved in life. If the material conditions are abundant, so much the better, but lack of wealth or health need not prevent one from finding flow in whatever circumstances one finds at hand. In fact, our studies suggest that children from the most affluent families find it more difficult to be in flow — compared with less well-to-do teenagers, they tend to be more bored, less involved, less enthusiastic, less excited."

It is a constant struggle for me between feeling overwhelmed with my involvement in life, and wanting to be have the least amount of involvement as possible to escape from life a bit.

— “If We Are So Rich, Why Aren’t We Happy?”, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, American Psychologist, vol. 54(10), Oct. 1999

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Because one of my readers asked nicely LOL

Here is a list of the recipes that I used from the book. I also threw a pot roast in the slow cooker, and made a few other meals with stuff that I had on hand. I also filled in about 8 meals with non-OAMC meals to round out the month.

Slow Cooker
  • Brown Sugar Pork Ribs
  • Chicken Cacciatore
  • Old Fashioned Bean Soup
  • Candied Chicken - but wouldn't make this again
  • Tomato Beef Stew
  • Smoky Maple Chicken
Stove Top
  • Lasagna
  • Taco Soup
  • Chicken Tortellini Soup
  • Spaghetti and Company
  • BBQ Beef and Biscuits
  • Turkey Dressing Pie
  • Pork Loaf
  • Onion Soup Meat Loaf - wouldn't make again
  • Ham and Noodles
  • Ham Primavera

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My mom sent me a book last winter

called Dinner is Ready! It is a Once a Month Cooking guide/recipe book. When she gave it to me, I read it, and thought it was a good idea, but it sounded like a lot of work. I looked over it again a few months later, and again thought it was a good idea, but it was summer by this time, and I just couldn't really think about spending several hours in my hot, tiny kitchen. So I put it next to my other recipe books, and kind of forgot about it.

Well, then fall started, and then winter, and I was finding myself having a harder and harder time getting dinner ready on time, especially on nights that we had to be out for girl scouts or swimming, etc. After we had spaghetti two nights in a row, I decided that I'd had enough. I decided that starting in 2009, I was going to revamp our menus a bit, and that I was going to try the Once A Month cooking.

Before I tell you about how I tweaked it for us, etc., I just want to tell you that I LOVE Once A Month cooking. It works out SO well for our family, and I plan on keeping it up.

OK, so I reread the book. The author recommends picking out 15 recipes and doubling them so that you have 30 dinners. That is not what I did, partly because I hadn't used any of these recipes and so I wasn't sure that I would want two of a recipe that my family hated, but partly because my family just likes variety. We have never been big on leftovers or frequent repeats, so I decided to do 20 meals, and then fill in with some of our standards (sloppy joes, hot dogs, pizza, etc.) I also knew that it would probably be a challenge for me to find recipes because of Jelly Bean's milk allergy, so I want to try as many non-dairy ones as I could so that I could decide from those which ones to maybe double the next time.

After I decided on the recipes, I made my grocery list for the items. I first checked off all the items that I already had in my stockpile, and then I made a list according to produce, dairy, meat, condiments, etc. and made my totals for items (such as 8 pounds of ground turkey, 12 pounds of chicken, etc.) I went to Aldi's and got as many items as I could. Then I checked the ads for Jewel-Osco and Kroger and got the cheapest price for the other items. I ended up spending $75 for all the ingredients. (I also ended up spending $100 at Aldi's and Kroger at a different time to replace our regular stockpile items and weekly items. I spent an additional $100 the rest of the month for weekly items - so my total grocery spending for January was $275 for our family of five and a dog.)

Then I actually did the "cooking" over two days on the first weekend. I just couldn't & didn't want to do it all in one day. I did worked from approximately 4 pm to 10 pm both nights. The first evening, I did in two slow cooker meals (one at 4 pm, and the other one right before I went to bed and cooked overnight), two oven meals, and four stove top meals. The next evening, I did two slow cooker meals, two oven meals, and six assembly meals.

We had a couple meals that we will NOT be trying again, but a few that were big hits, and plenty that were good. And I can't tell you how nice it was to just take a meal out in the morning, and just throw it in the oven at 4 or whatever, and now that we would have a hot meal ready for dinner. It was also nice to know that if I needed to cook a meal for someone, I already had a few in my freezer that I could pick from. And honestly, it wasn't that bad doing the cooking over a couple of days. I worked in the kitchen and listened to my iPod, did a little reading occasionally when I had a few moments. And it was all worth it when I didn't have to scramble around every night. So for us, a big thumbs up for Once A Month cooking!

Here are some Once a Month Cooking (OAMC) sites:

OAMC Freezer Supper Swappers
30 Meals In One Day
Dinners In The Freezer
Once A Month Cooking World

Friday, February 6, 2009

OK, I finished my bookstand books back in December

but I left the list up to remind me to do a review. And now it is February. Oh well.

The Citizen Solution: How You Can Make A Difference
It was o.k. Probably my least favorite of the batch. I was hoping for more solid suggestions on how I can make a difference in my local area, and it wasn't really that kind of book, despite the title indicating that it would be.

The Self-Sufficient Life and How To Live It
I like this one a lot. It is more of a reference book than a sit-down-and-read book, but I am going to buy it to add to our home library, and to help me have something to look at while planning our move to the country in a couple years.

High Spirits: A Modern Family In Search of an Old-Fashioned Dream
Loved this one. It was a story about a family who moved from the city to a farm (they had 7 children) and how they learned how to raise animals and use machinery, etc. and just their life over about 15 years. It was published in the 1980s though, just so you are aware that it isn't a completely up-to-date story.

For the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School
I've read this one a few times, and it is actually a book out of our home library. But I love it, and I'm going to be devoting a few posts to how I apply these ideas to our home and school.

Fallscaping: Extending Your Garden Into Autumn
O.K., again, I was hoping for a slightly different book. This sort of assumed that you had at least a medium-sized established garden. I was hoping for something that that told me about some plants I could plant in late summer/early fall, but this book tells you how to plant in the spring for blooming in the fall.

Winter Gardening
Honestly, I don't remember much about this book, except that it had some interesting pictures. I kind of wish that I had this book now though because Flower was studying about the Snowdrop flower, and I was wishing that I could look at this book and see where/when/etc. you should plant this flower because I would LOVE to be able to see a blooming flower in February.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

So I finally broke down and joined the crowd

and decided to do my 25 things too. I'm just posting it here instead of on Facebook, but I'll mention it in my status to check here for those of you who aren't regular checkers of my blog.

1. I went to elementary school with Matthew Sweet and loved his Girlfriend CD and listened to it all the time back in the early 90s.

2. When I was in elementary school, when I walked home, I used to pretend that I was Samantha from Bewitched and that I could make the leaves move or the birds sing or the clouds move when I twitched my nose. As far as I know, I didn't actually have supernatural powers.

3. When I was 4th and 5th grade, I was also obsessed with reading books about kid witches and warlocks, etc.

4. Until recently, I was a voracious reader, and I got my bachelor's degree in English.

5. But I haven't read any Harry Potter books and I haven't seen any of the movies.

6. When I wasn't pretending that I could control the weather, I would pretend that I was an olympic track star. I never made it to the olympics, but I did run the 800 meter event in track in high school.

7. My dad had a heart attack when he was 38 and I was 11. 31 years later, he is still alive, and doing well. I am blessed.

8. Our wedding song was "Fantastic, That's You" by Louis Armstrong. I've never heard it at anyone else's wedding.

9. I ran away from home on more than one occassion.

10. I changed my major in college several times - Microbiology, English, Nursing, Spanish, Communications, English education, and English.

11. I graduated from high school in 1984, but didn't get my bachelor's degree until 1993.

12. I started graduate school in 1994 (in English) and dropped out after a year. I went back to school in 2002, and graduated in 2005 with a master's in technology (and certificates in project manangement and training/development.)

13. I haven't worked full-time outside of the home since 2003.

14. I'm afraid of heights, but I love roller coasters.

15. I love to swim. I got a fish tatoo partly because of my love of swimming.

16. I love Diet Pepsi - especially DP Max and DP Wild Cherry.

17. I was the Junior Champion in the state of Nebraska for target shooting (using a .22 rifle) in 1981.

18. At the same time, I taught Hunter Safety and BB Gun Safety.

19. I haven't used a gun since 1994.

20. I am working on writing two books.

21. I don't like salty foods much or sugary foods. The big exception to the sugar foods is chocolate. I love it - especially milk chocolate. But DON'T go mixing fruit with my chocolate. UCK! Nuts are o.k. though. (Oh, and York Peppermint Patties! YUMMY!)

22. I could eat cold cereal three meals a day for the rest of my life and be perfectly content.

23. I have lots of food "texture" issues, and I have to eat all of one type of food on my plate before I move to the next thing.

24. I have great girlfriends, and I'm not really shy, but sometimes I have to force myself to go out and do stuff or talk to them.

25. I love my kids. I could, of course, be a better mom, but I do let my kids (and other people's kids) use all kinds of art stuff pretty much anytime they want to. That gives me some cool mom points, doesn't it?

So how much of this did you know? Did I surprise anyone?