"That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed." Titus 2:4-5

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Peppermint Bark

Now that we are past Thanksgiving and on our way to Christmas, I'm going to be sharing my favorite recipes for this time of year.  I will start with peppermint bark!

You will need:

8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips (or baking chocolate)
8 oz. white chocolate chips (or baking chocolate)
2 tsp. cooking oil, divided
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract, divided
crushed candy canes (we use a hammer!)

I have found that it's very important to use a good brand of chocolate chips, like Nestle or Ghiradelli.  Store brand chips do NOT have the same great taste!  For the candy canes, we used the mini ones this year and they worked much better than the bigger ones.  They were easier to crush, and were already in little bags so I didn't have to waste a freezer bag!


Line a 9 inch pan with foil.  In a double boiler, combine semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1 tsp cooking oil, and 1/4 tsp peppermint extract.  Melt, stirring frequently, until smooth.  Pour into pan, spread evenly, and sprinkle with crushed candy canes.  The amount sprinkled is a matter of preference; sprinkle until you like the way it looks!  Chill until hardened, about 1 hour.

Next, combine white chocolate chips, 1 tsp. oil, and 1/4 tsp. peppermint extract in double boiler.  Melt, stirring frequently, until smooth.  Pour over top of chilled chocolate and spread evenly.  I've found it works best to pour it all in the center and then gently spread to the edges.  Sprinkle crushed candy canes over the top (as much as desired), and gently press into chocolate.

Sorry for the bad lighting!

Chill until firm, about an hour.  Peel off foil, then either break or cut into pieces.  We've found this easier if it's set at room temperature a bit, after the initial hardening.

We make a lot of this every year for gifts, and also just for munching on.  Enjoy!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Frugal Meal Friday: Chili


1-1/2 lbs ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cans kidney beans, drained
2 cans tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can corn
2 cloves minced garlic
2-4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp pepper

In a large skillet, brown ground beef with onions and drain.  Put into a crock pot, and add remaining ingredients.  Cook on low all day.  Serve with cornbread or baked potatoes, or both!

Pretty simple, huh?  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Proclamation by George Washington 1789:
"WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLIC THANKSGIVING and... PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;– for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;– for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;– and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; — to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Orange Spiced Cranberry Sauce

THIS is a fabulous cranberry sauce recipe that I make every year. If you haven't made cranberry sauce before, I highly recommend you try it. It is very easy to make, and you will never eat the canned kind again! This is an especially good recipe that I make every Thanksgiving. My daugher LOVES to help with it.


2 lbs. cranberries
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 cups orange juice (I fresh squeeze mine)
2 T. orange zest
3 cinnamon sticks
1-1/2 cups water

Place all ingredients in a large pan.

 Bring mixture to boil over medium heat, then immediately turn heat down.  Simmer for 2-3 hours, til sauce has thickened.  This will not gel up, as it is more of a runnier sauce than other cranberry sauces, but it will thicken more when it cools.  I make this a couple of days ahead of time, because the flavor gets even better after it has set in the fridge a day or two.

Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving!

This post is linked up at:
Gluten Free Wednesdays

Titus 2sdays

Raising Homemakers Homemaking Link-Up

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My Thanksgiving Yams

Every year, for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I make these yams.  Everyone LOVES them and I always get asked for the recipe when I make them.

Gourmet Holiday Yams

5 yams
1/4 tsp.salt
1/4 c. butter
2 eggs
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. sugar
2 T. cream

1/4 c. butter, softened
3 T. flour
3/4 packed brown sugar
1/2 c. chopped pecans

Peel yams and chop into chunks; put in a pot of water and boil until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain yams and transfer to a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup butter and mash with a potato masher until smooth. Add salt, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, and cream. Beat with electric mixer until well combined.

Grease a 9 x 13" pan and pour yam mixture into it. Spread evenly.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the remaining butter, flour, brown sugar, and pecans. Squeeze all together with hands until well combined. Crumble over top of yams.

Bake for 30 minutes, until topping is crisp and lightly browned. I normally make this a day or two ahead of time and refrigerate, then bake. If you do that, then add on another 10 minutes or so.

Happy Thanksgiving, and enjoy!!! These are delicious!

This post is linked up at: Homestead Barn Hop #37

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Frugal Menu Plan

Well, I somehow missed Frugal Meal Friday...oh well, sorry...I will pick it back up next week.  Today, I will share my menu from now until December 6th.  Once again, due to my super tight food budget, I am finding myself with hardly any money left to last me until December 7th (when we will have more money available).  I haven't figured out everything that will be served at each meal yet, but I have the basics figured out.

Sometimes this is really hard.  Sometimes, honestly, I really struggle with my attitude. I wonder if I'm expected to be a magician or something, making this money magically stretch farther than it seems it actually can!

But you know what?  It always works out and we never starve.  I can't buy many "fun" items, but we never go hungry.  Praise the Lord my children have never had to know what that feels like!

Frugal Dinner Menu: November 19-December 6

Pinto beans and rice, cornbread
Pork steaks, potatoes, veggie
Sausage and Zucchini Polenta bake, salad
Vegetable Beef Soup
Thanksgiving dinner at sister-in-law's
Cheeseburgers, baked beans
Ham/broccoli quiche, roasted potatoes, sausage, coffee cake
Roasted chicken, baked potatoes, veggie
Chicken and rice soup, bread
Spaghetti, bread, salad
Bbq Beef with baked potatoes
Lentil soup and cornbread
Scrambled eggs, ham steaks, roasted potatoes
Pork roast, potatoes, veggie
Pinto beans and rice, cornbread

We raise pigs and have a freezer full of pork, which is why we can afford to eat pork products so often!

The Lord bless your day!

Monday, November 14, 2011


Last summer, I was sitting in on a conversation that really upset me.  Two acquaintances of mine were discussing the fact that a young mother they knew had just obtained her college degree.  She had worked hard, even putting her little ones (one a newborn) in daycare, to achieve her goal, so that she finally could have the career that she wanted.  One of the ladies was quite amazed and said, "wow, Leah is really ambitious, isn't she?"  It was clearly a huge compliment.  You ladies know what often happens to us women who have chosen to stay home, when we hear something like that: we start feeling self-concious and like we're not doing anything important.  Or, at least that the person we're talking with must surely see it that way (well, I feel that way at least!).

I've stewed over that conversation off and on for months, pondering the idea of being "ambitious".  The word ambitious is considered a compliment.  It sounds like this extremely important character quality.  I kept thinking on it...thinking that I myself am surely ambitious....and why couldn't people see that???  I am ambitious in how I care for my home and family, of course!  Then, this morning, as I prepared to type up this post, I looked up the definition of ambitious.  I was floored by the meaning.  I guess the word actually has a slightly different meaning than I was thinking.



1. having ambition; eagerly desirous of achieving or obtaining success, power, wealth, a specific goal, etc.
2. showing or caused by ambition
3. strongly desirous; eager
4. requiring exceptional effort, ability, etc

Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary:
1. Desirous of power, honor, office, superiority or excellence; aspiring; eager for fame
2. Showy; adapted to command notice or praise.
Hold on a second here!  I thought being ambitious was something to be desired!  But is it?  I think there is a form of amibition, which I have, that is seeking excellence in everything I do.  That is good, and it's what God wants.  But in general, looking at these definitions, is ambitious something that I want to be?  I don't think so.

Wanting success, power, wealth, honor, superiority, fame???  Being showy, commanding praise or notice???

This is not what God wants us to be pursuing.  And yet, isn't that what career women are doing?  My acquaintance was right--Leah is ambitious.  But not in the way that I want to be!

What do you think?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Frugal Meal Friday:Hearty Chicken Stew

I love soups!  They are definitely a good way to stretch those groceries and eat frugally.  This one is a great way to use leftover chicken after you have roasted a whole chicken.  Also, this soup is delicious with turkey too, so we love to make this with leftovers after Thanksgiving!  A great tip for this month, huh?

You will need:

~1/4 c. butter
~1 onion, chopped
~3 ribs celery, sliced
~4 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4" slices
~2 med or 4 small potatoes, cut into small cubes
~6 T all-purpose flour (or use gluten free flour like me)
~8 cups chicken stock
~1 tsp. dried basil
~1 can corn, drained (or use frozen, or substitute green beans or whatever)
~leftover cooked chicken (however much you have...the more the better, but if the quantity isn't huge then you can compensate by adding extra veggies)

Start this in the morning!  Melt the butter in a small skillet; add onions and cook until tender.  Stir in carrots and celery, and cook until tender.  Place in crock pot; stir in potatoes and flour.  Pour in the chicken stock.  Add chicken and basil, stir to combine, and put lid on crock pot.  Cook on low all day.

This really is a very delicious soup, and so cheap to make.  It's my son's favorite.  Enjoy!

This post is linked up at:
Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Are You Trying to Bless...or Impress?

Every now and then, it is good to step back and take a look at the intentions of our hearts.  Sometimes, we don't even realize that our hearts are not in the right place.  We think we're doing something for a specific reason, but really...we're not.

Back when I was a new wife and mother, I did pretty much everything for the wrong reasons.  At that time in my life, everything was about me looking good.  I did what I did to get a compliment, make someone jealous, or to get someone to want to be like me.  I know...it sounds terrible and sad, but that is the truth of who I was at the time. One thing that I definitely did with the wrong motives was practice hospitality.

I was all about myself, and trying to look "perfect".  I wanted to show people that I could serve an amazing meal with a wonderful dessert, in a perfectly clean house, wearing a beautiful outfit and perfectly styled hair and make-up.  Before company would arrive, I would be a wreck getting ready.  What if something was out of place?  They might not think I'm perfect!  Obviously, it was all about ME.

It makes me a little nauseous thinking about all of that now.  How wrong my motives were!

The Lord calls us to hospitality.  Why?  Because we are to be the hands and feet of Jesus to others.  Because we are to bless people.  It's not about impressing them, it's about blessing them!  It's about humbling ourselves, letting people into our homes and lives, and finding ways that we can bless THEM and be Jesus to them.

Yes, I believe that having a clean, orderly home is a part of being a good, efficient homemaker.  So is cooking delicious meals.  But...it's NOT about making me look good.  It's about having a comfortable, tidy home to welcome people into, making them feel at home with a nice cup of coffee or a hot cooked meal.  They should see the love of Jesus shining through me in my actions.  I am not the center of attention--Jesus is!

These days, I do what I do out of obedience to the Lord.  I want to love on people, and show them the love of Jesus in my home.  I want them to be warm and comfortable and cared for, and I want them to want to come back again.  And someday, I want to be able to look into Jesus' eyes and hear him say, "well done, good and faithful servant."

Look closely at your heart.  What are your motives?  Are you trying to bless....or impress?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

In Defense of the Duggar Family

In case you missed it, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar--along with their 19 children and 2 grandchildren--appeared on the Today show this morning.  With much enthusiasm, they announced that they are expecting their 20th child!  I love how excited they get about each new baby, and how much joy is in their family.  Every single child that they are given is accepted with open, loving arms and hearts, no matter how many.

As my kids and I watched the interview on the Today show this morning, we were disgusted with the obvious disdain the interviewer (sorry I don't remember her name, as I normally never watch this show) had for the pregnancy.  She started off the interview by saying, "I'm afraid to even ask" (what the announcement was), and then proceeded to ask all of the usual questions that the Duggars are typically asked over and over again.  Questions like "how will you afford another one?" and "what about your health" and the two most annoying ones: "was this one planned" and "will you have another?"  Really???  How many times do the Duggars have to explain to people that they can't give an answer about when they'll stop having babies because THEY DON'T KNOW, because they are leaving up to God?  Michelle is just so gracious and loving in her responses to people.  I'm sure the constant criticism must really wear on her after awhile.

Also worth noting was that there was not a single "congratulations" to the Duggars, only an attitude of "what are you thinking...are you crazy?" (Correct me if I'm wrong...I may have missed it!)  I thought that the interviewer was somewhat rude and condescending, and could have mustered up a nice friendly "congratulations on your pregnancy!" like most people do when someone announces a pregnancy.  Why is it that the congrats are less and less frequent the more kids you have?  Is the first or second child more important than the 6th or 8th or 20th?  That should not be!  Every child is a blessing and has value, and the Lord has a plan for every one of them.

Worse yet are the comments online.  They're horrible!  Go to this news story if you want to see what I mean.  These days the world is so mixed up and priorities are all out of place. 

The biggest criticism is regarding Michelle's health.  Why do people think that's for them to determine?  Jim Bob and Michelle obviously are following the Lord and seeking Him for His will.  If it was not safe for them to have more, I'm sure in their prayer time God would speak to their hearts about it.  As it is, they are at peace allowing the pregnancies to come as God wills, and they are trusting Him to keep Michelle and baby healthy.  I greatly respect their faith, and it would sure be nice if others could make kind comments, instead of the terribly rude ones!

Congratulations Jim Bob and Michelle and family, as you await this newest precious addition to your wonderful family!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Another Frugal Meal "Attempt"

Okay, I say "attempt" because it wasn't quite right, but it was good enough to share with you!  I was playing around with a recipe, and still need to play with it a little more to get it just right. But here is what I made:

Mexican Casserole:

I browned 1/2 lb of ground beef with 1 chopped onion, because that's what I had on hand, but next time I will probably do 1-1/2 lbs of ground beef.  It just needed more meat.  I then drained the meat and put it back in the skillet.  Next I added beans; I used 1 can of drained kidney beans and 2 cups of pinto beans that I had already cooked previously.  You could use any type of beans you like. Then I stirred in 1/4 cup taco seasoning and tossed in some frozen corn (I just eyeballed this...use however much you like.  I'm sure canned corn would work also).  I heated it through, then transferred the mixture to a greased 9 x 13" pan and sprinkled cheddar cheese on top.  Next I mixed up a batch of cornbread mix--the amount that would normally go into an 8 x 8" pan--but instead I spread it over the top of the meat/beans mixture.  I use a gluten free recipe, but any will work!

After that....I baked for about 30 minutes at 375 degrees.  To check for doneness, insert toothpick or knife in center to make sure cornbread topping has fully baked.

The bottom layer on this was just too thin, which is why I want to add more to it next time.

So there you go...a yummy frugal meal for you to try out!

Blessings to you and your family!