Thursday, April 14, 2011

believing in the unseen

Sarah and I have been reading C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia together as part of school.  We are currently on Book 4 (I go by the original order, not the new one), The Silver Chair.  It contains one of the best descriptions of faith I have ever read.  Lewis just knocks it out of the park with this one.  The scene is the evil witch attempting to convince the heroes that Narnia is mere make-believe that they have conjured up, not real at all.  Aslan is also a figment of their imaginations.  Here is Puddleglum's response:

"...I won't deny any of what you've said.  But there's one more thing to be said, even so.  Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all these things--trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself.  Suppose we have.  Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important that the real ones.  Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world.  Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one.  And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it.  We're just babies making up a game, if you're right.  But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow.  That's why I'm going to stand by the play world.  I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it.  I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia.  So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we're leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland.  Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that's small loss if the world's as dull a place as you say."

There are many who would claim that Christianity is a myth, a child's fairy tale.  When you are facing discouragement and despair, when you are hearing the witch whispering in your ear and you are starting to believe her, when this "black pit of a kingdom" seems to be all there is, remember Puddleglum's words.  It is worth it to live as a Narnian and to follow Aslan.  The child's make-believe completely trumps the real world every time.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

spice girl

I've already posted about Natalie getting into the pantry and getting a mouthful of cloves.  At Christmas,  while I was attempting to make fruitcake, she poured out the entire bottle of vanilla extract.  Well, today we had another venture into spice world. 

I was making cinnamon toast for breakfast.  In an effort to "healthy it up" a bit, I used honey instead of white sugar.  I was mixing the butter, cinnamon, and honey together in a bowl so I could spread it on the slices of bread.  Natalie (who had already snitched a bite of bread) got a hold of the cinnamon...and dumped most of it on said piece of bread. 

Oh, what a mess.  I managed to get most of it cleaned up and even got most of it scraped off of the bread.  But it was still the most cinnamon-y bread you have EVER seen.  There was a TON of cinnamon on that bread.

Natalie loved it.  She devoured every last bite.  We joked that she's a new Spice Girl.  Nelson jokingly dubbed her "Bratty Spice."  I think maybe Mischief Spice would work. 

goals, part 1

So I totaled up our grocery store expenditures from March 1 through yesterday, to see how we're doing. Frankly, there's plenty of room for growth!  I am reading all of Money Saving Mom's posts about shopping at CVS to try to learn how to score toiletries for free, because I do include toiletries and diapers and such in my grocery budget.  So learning to reduce my costs on those items leaves more room for food!

Some things that HAVE gone well this past month: I discovered Amazon's Subscribe and Save program.  I am absolutely thrilled with the deals I got on Luvs diapers, Pampers baby wipes, and Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 15-Ounce Tubs (Pack of 2). Angel Food Ministries continues to be a huge help to our efforts to keep our grocery bill in check.  Our local farmers' market starts up in May, and my fabulous SIL has inspired me to check it out.  I'm definitely excited about that.  I have a rain check to score a great deal on whole wheat pasta at Kroger as soon as they restock.
Our downfall?  We eat out way. Too. Much.  When I am tired, when my head hurts, when I don't feel good, that ends up being an easy (but expensive!) option!  My husband is far too understanding and sweet for our own good!  I'm trying to come up with better back-up plans.  This is going to be absolutely crucial for us.

I am also using a book I got for Christmas to develop a "migraine wellness plan." I'll post more about that  as I get the kinks worked out.  However, if you happen to be a fellow headache sufferer, the book is The Migraine Brain: Your Breakthrough Guide to Fewer Headaches, Better Health.

I read on another blog that the USDA or some other such group estimates that a family of four will spend $500 a month if they are following a "thrifty" plan.  If I understand correctly, this is JUST the cost of food at home--I don't think it includes toiletries or eating out.  I am pleased to say we spend WAY less that that.

I did have a "creative cuisinery" moment yesterday that I am quite proud of.  I needed to go grocery shopping, but it just didn't happen.  So I was frantically searching for something we could have for supper.  I had no flour, no milk, none of my usual go-to items.  But I found a recipe for "Kusherie" in my More-With-Less Cookbook (World Community Cookbook) (highly recommend it, by the way).  It's an Egyptian lentils and rice dish.  It turned out great (Sarah especially loved it). So there's hope that I can improve as time goes on.

For the record, we spent $279 total on groceries, diapers, toiletries, etc. from Mar. 1 through Apr. 7.  That averages out to about $69.75 per week.  I would actually be very pleased with that total if it weren't for the eating out that we did on top of it!  So here's to making improvements next month.

P.S. In the interest of full disclosure, the links are affiliate links.  If you click the link and end up purchasing the item, I will receive a small kickback.  And lest you think that I'm suddenly going to start cluttering up the blog with affiliate links, never fear.  I will only link to things I really and truly love, and it will be rare.  This is probably the only time you will see three links in one post; I was mainly trying to get things set up and make sure it was working properly.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

a recipe

A couple of months ago our Angel Food order contained a bag of black-eyed peas.  I had never eaten black-eyed peas, let alone cooked them.  I wasn't entirely sure what I was going to do with them, but I started prowling the Internet looking for recipes. 

I finally decided that I would try black-eyed pea and lentil soup.  I used this recipe as a starting point, but if you know me you know I didn't follow that recipe exactly!  I used the crockpot to cook my soup in, I used homemade chicken stock instead of water and bouillon, and I subbed onion powder for the onion.  I didn't have any diced tomatoes, so I used a jar of my grandmother's home canned tomatoes.  And we topped our soup with cheese.

The soup wasn't too bad, but if I make it again I will definitely make some changes.  It needs more flavor.  I think I'd add more cumin, some fresh garlic, and...bacon.  We really thought bacon would help it.  I'm not sure what it says about us that we take a perfectly healthy recipe of legume soup and want to add bacon--probably nothing good.

I'm considering hoppin' john or Texas caviar to use up the rest of the black-eyed peas.  If you don't know what those are, Google it.  Or, if you're smart do a Swagbucks search

I know I haven't posted shopping reports and menus much lately.  I'm going to total up what I've spent the last couple of months and see how I did.  That way I can evaluate how I'm doing, what's working, and what needs to change.  I'm quite certain there will be plenty of things that need to change!  I know I haven't done as well as I would have liked.  But seeing where I am will help me make a plan to where I want to be.