The little Clay Pot

Lots of things can go in a little Clay Pot

The spirit of adventure June 15, 2010

Filed under: Frugal Living,I ain't Proverbs 31...yet.,Weekly Menus — littleclaypot @ 11:40 am

My husband and watched a movie last week called 180° South.  It was about a man who wanted to climb Corcovado in Patagonia, and how he traveled there to do it. It was an interesting watch, and it blew a little breath into our desires for our own quests and adventures.  But for now, we are tied to jobs, a mortgage, children…all the things that do not typically assist a free and adventurous spirit.  Some degree however, of our desire for frugality, is to help fund and make possible our own grand adventures.

I like to travel.  I have been all over the US and to Europe.  I like seeing new things and experiencing life in other places.  Of course one way I can bring those places to me is in the kitchen.  The currys of India, the soy of China, the BBQ of the south…I love taking mini world tours with my mouth.

Sometimes, adventures are planned and well thought out.  Sometimes they are quite accidental.

The menu for this week had “Hamburgers” on for Monday night. My husband loves hamburgers.  I can only think of one restaurant where he hasn’t ordered a hamburger and that was a Japanese steak house!  But, alas, amidst too many projects I neglected to buy hamburger from my in-laws for the meal,and when 5:00 came around I had a menu…and no ingredients!  So I turned to the trusty internet to come up with something.  Whenever I do this I think of superheros…going to their super computers and being told the exact time and location of the next big crime…I wish I could clean house in Wonder Woman’s boots!  Talk about adventure.

"I met a man the other day, sold all he had and headed west Said he found some richness there And he's going to make it his Smiling as he parted Saying something about buying a filed and now he's gone so long...~ What could be so grand, Seeds

I had seen recipes for Lentil burgers in my searches for other lentil recipes.  I always passed them over knowing of my husbands reverence for ground beef.  But this was an emergency, this was the beginning of an adventure.  I chose one, and set to work.  I delegated the shredding of the carrots to my daughter.  As I boiled,chopped, mixed and measured I had a quiet pit in my stomach that it was all for naught.  That dinner would be a struggle and that I should probably just have made nice, safe, unadventurous peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

And then it happened…we ate.

And they liked it!  My husband even said he “really liked” it.  He had friends over to play music with, and 2 of them tried them out of curiosity…and THEY liked it!  In my humble opinion this was an adventure worth taking.  Now I have a cheap, yummy, healthful substitute for hamburgers although I will only make them occasionally…we couldn’t quite give up the beef around here) and I didn’t run to the store to buy hamburger and spend extra $ on other items that I would have inevitably bought.

Making a Lentil burger is not climbing a towering peak in Patagonia.  It isn’t even akin to walking up the hill behind my house.  But this little bit of willingness to venture into the unknown opened new possibilities and will help us prepare for some of those bigger adventures down the road.

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Gardening Metaphores June 10, 2010

I am trying to grow a garden where God has planted rocks.


I love to garden.  Admittedly, I am not very good at it…I have 4 house plants…make that 3…I don’t think I can technically count the one that is basically dead.  But I love to be outside with my hands in the dirt and the sun on my shoulders and the idea of growing the food that feeds my family.  At this point it is a hobby garden, not really a sustenance garden,but still–it grows food, and we will eat it.

I even like to weed.  There is something about it that is just brainless enough and yet attention demanding that makes it better than any other hand hobby I have, like knitting or crocheting.   And I have to admit, that the worn out old metaphor of comparing weeds to sin, never gets dull for me.  There are the little weeds that are easy to pull out…but if you let them go they multiply at alarming rates.  Then there are the weeds with long twisted roots that you pull, and then find that you didn’t get the whole root the first time, so you dig and pull and fight with that weed all summer until you finally eradicate it.  I pray a lot when I am working in the garden…every aspect seems to remind me of some wonderful truth of the Bible.

Unfortunately, just like me…the soil that my garden is planted in seems to be a “WORK IN PROGRESS.”  And I am beginning to wonder if some ancient civilization didn’t have a skyscraper that came tumbling down where my garden now sits.  There are SO MANY ROCKS!  And why is it that picking rocks is just not as satisfying as picking weeds?  So…I have been contemplating what these rocks are supposed to teach me.  What is the appropriate gardening metaphor?

  • My least favorite:  It is futile…you will never eradicate the rocks…go to the grocery store. ~ This one is pretty much self explanatory.
  • God really is “The creator and possessor of all things” because only a mighty God could possibly make so many rocks.
  • My Favorite so far: Sometimes there are rocks in life.  Little ones you can ignore.  Big ones you can’t ignore.  Heavy ones you drop on your thumb and wish you had never laid eyes on.  But each rock, little or big or heavy, was created by God and they are under His control (remember when Jesus told the Pharisees that the “stones would immediately cry out” if the people singing praise during the triumphal entry were to become silent?).  But I believe God wants me to garden, and the parable of the sower teaches me that seeds that are planted in stony ground can not  establish a good root…so what am I to do?  Give up?  No, God promises to provide…He does not promise it will be easy.  Each rock, stiff and stubborn can either be left right where it lay, and sabotage the efforts of my garden…or I can diligently place my hands on each rock and move it to what is slowly but surely becoming a very nice rock wall around my herb garden.  Kind of like people or events in life.  I can either leave them where they are and let them disrupt my life and make me and every one around me miserable…or I can set them aside and make something useful out of them.

Well, it would be nice if we could do that with some people.

But, events…those unpleasant, rocky, times in life that we would rather forget: the loss of loved ones, unemployment, the terrible twos, fights, down right embarrassing moments, the first gray hair–These events we can either leave in our garden of life and continue to work around them and stumble over them…OR I can move them to where they are making something useful, something even beautiful…Me.  God told Joshua and the children of Israel to pile 12 stones as a memorial for having crossed the Jordan river…so that the children could be told of the things God had done for them. We are to remember the lessons we have learned and teach them to our children.

So I think my metaphor will be this: Rocks were planted in the garden by God.  By His grace we can make something useful even beautiful out of them–a strong wall–a memorial–built out of life’s events, lessons and memories.  If we leave the rocks in our garden of life we will sabotage our efforts to grow something lush and  meaningful.  But if we pick them up, look at them, decide what the shape is, what we learned from it, how it fits in the wall of other memories then we may avoid making the same mistake twice…we can pick up a “rock” and say to our children “This rock is sharp and heavy…it could hurt you…don’t play with it.”  Now we could look at them and then chuck all these stinking rocks in the woods…but then we would miss out on the lovely part.  Some, I admit, we don’t want everyone to see…so we put those in the middle of the wall, surrounded by the other rocks that are not as ugly…but we can still use them to make the wall.  After living life for a while and having some “rocky times” we become stronger and more lovely.  I mean…after a lot of work, tedious back/nail breaking work, we can make a nice little rock garden wall.


 

Summer menus June 8, 2010

Summer is a hard menu time for me. Is it nice? Is it rainy? Did we decide at the last minute to invite company over? One better, did we get invited at the last minute to go someplace else?  Did I remember to order from the bounty?  Can’t we just eat s’mores for dinner?

Not to mention, I want to use every available minute to be outside or working on inside projects while I am not in school…I do not want to be in the kitchen any more than absolutely necessary! Feeding my family seems more a struggle, let alone feeding them healthy, local or organic!  And what ever happened to the budget!?

So you may notice a very picnic-y menu.  I intend to use the grill (or as my mother called it the “outdoor kitchen”) I got for my husband for his birthday every day it is not a torrential down pour…The newest menu posted for the week of 6.14.10–follows the old format…but I am thinking that I will have to come up with a more flexible template and still…my goal is to get a format that allows for cost analysis and user friendly recipes…I am working on it…promises, promises.

My secondary goal for the summer is to be diligent to post 2 posts a week…One on Monday with the menu that is food/grocery related and one later in the week that is a shameless rambling of the random thoughts that never cease to occupy my brain space.   As always your comments/questions/suggestions are always welcome.

 

Getting back to basics. May 28, 2010

Right of the bat, let me say “Sorry for the delay.”   The last month of school was a bit intense and the last two weeks have been spent trying to put my seriously havoc ridden home back together–a task that has almost been accomplished.  Add to that the beautiful weather and the need to get the seeds and plants in the ground and it has been all I could do to keep food in our bellies, let alone actually planning and being smart about it. In fact, during finals week my two oldest children made coffee cake for lunch to have with fruit…twice…because it kept them busy and answered the “What am I going to feed these cridders?” question.  Furthermore, in the spirit of true confession, Yesterday…I fed them ice cream and pretzels.

As things slowly come back together though…I can smell bread in the oven, and we can actually walk on the floors in the bedrooms and not on toys and laundry, and my nails still have traces of garden dirt…I feel a sense of supreme bliss, knowing that this summer is going to be fantastic.  I will be able to make my menus and enjoy the foods that I will access to at the farmers markets.  I will be able to grow some of our own foods and even some medicinal herbs that I am finally taking the time to learn about.  And I will be able to share these things with my children…so that they will know that we never stop learning and that we can always learn a new way of doing things.  For example: not going out to eat or grabbing sub sandwiches because mom doesn’t feel like cooking at the end of a long hot day but instead–simmering a stew hen all day, shredding the meat, mixing it with BBQ sauce and making a beautiful chicken BBQ salad with a side of fried left over salt potatoes with fennel and chives.  It wasn’t hot, it wasn’t hard and best of all it didn’t require extra $$ or time.

“MUD MEN”

Best of all, as things get back into our preferred routine, I will be able to watch my children be children.  As we teach them to work the soil, and pull weeds and water plants…we can watch them discover (again!) the wonderful attributes of MUD!  It is a simple pleasure…and perhaps a bit devious in nature because there is something so satisfying at hosing them off with the garden hose…but these are the things I hope to make more time for by getting back into the menu, planning routine. So I will pick up where I left off…hope you still plan on reading along and sharing your thoughts as we go.  But most of all I hope you enjoy your summer…and maybe even some “mud” of your own.

 

Saving time with Bounty April 26, 2010

Filed under: Frugal Living,Health,Uncategorized — littleclaypot @ 3:57 am

First off, I am looking forward to the end of school, and getting into the full swing of summer and keeping on with my efforts to feed the family reasonably local, & reasonably healthy on a budget of $100.00 per week.

This is the bill for the bounty order that will be delivered on Thursday.  I Finally broke down and ordered some extras (for us).  Bagels, Tarrells and some beef snack sticks.  One of the biggest complaints (and truly, there haven’t been many) has been the lack of  “easy food” -things like boxed cereal, pretzels and chips.  I told myself that I would alleviate this complaint by making home made snacks.  But…I have yet to work that into the schedule.  So, just a few more weeks of classes, and for now, if some bagels and beef sticks will buy me a few more moments of brain time…I am aalllllll for it.

Product Producer Price Items Subtotal
Bagels – Plain Amazing Grains $4.29 1 $4.29
Taralles – Garlic Amazing Grains $3.32 1 $3.32
Milk – Whole – 1 Gal Evan’s Farmhouse Creamery $6.31 3 $18.92
Yogurt – Blackberry – Quart Evan’s Farmhouse Creamery $4.06 1 $4.06
1/2 and 1/2 – 1 qt Queensboro Farm Products $1.55 1 $1.55
Jerusalem Artichoke – lb Gardners Gladiolus $3.90 1 $3.90
Salad – Bouquet Finger Lakes Fresh $2.00 1 $2.00
Gourmet Medley sprout mix Mizrahi Manor $3.04 1 $3.04
Steak Prime Rib – Dexter Mizrahi Manor $11.21 2 $22.43
Snack Sticks – Beef Drover Hill Farm $5.77 1 $5.77
Pasta – Linguini The Pasta Shoppe $2.60 1 $2.60
 

Waste not Want not. April 6, 2010

An Italian friend of mine told me a few years ago about her grandmother visiting from Italy.  She described the way that her grandmother ate EVERYthing off a chicken bone and how it made her (my friend) feel very wasteful for throwing away food on her plate.

My husbands grandfather has a collection of empty match boxes.  I haven’t seen it myself, but every account likens it to a rather large collection.  Apparently there is no designated purpose for these match boxes, but they are kept…just because you never know when you might want to….what exactly would you want to do with 50 match boxes?

My mother-in-law taught me to wash my gently used baggies.  At first, I openly admit, I thought she was insane.  Then a girlfriend told me about someone who threw out a gallon baggy after a package of opened crackers had been kept in it for a few days.  Now, I tell myself I wash them sometimes–so that I don’t feel guilty for the times I don’t. *GRIN*

Let’s get to the point.  As I was working on the menu for next week, considering what I have, what I will need to get, recipes, schedules, the “sensitive” palates of my children and their extreme displeasure for casserole type food…it occurred to me…”Why am I planning a meal I am not going to want to fix, and that no one is going to want to eat?”  When this happens, there are left overs that no one wants to eat, and then they inevitably get thrown away.  Combine that with some exceptional circumstances that are going to seriously mess up our daily “schedules” over the next couple of weeks…and I decided to embrace the simple.  So the menu reflects just that: Sandwiches, pizza, &  hotdogs (Now stop your grimacing, I can actually get these through CNY Bounty and they are Delicious! No preservatives and made with local meat.)

I hope this tactic works!  I even think that I am going to try to make pizza’s this weekend and freeze them so that they are all ready and I will not be tempted to order pizza for delivery…a luxury we pay an extra $10.00 for, living out here in the boonies!

 

Thankful for the Spectacular. April 2, 2010

Filed under: I ain't Proverbs 31...yet. — littleclaypot @ 3:57 pm
Tags: ,

This is a random Friday Morning musing.  I have fed the kids, walked the dog, done some things for school and started the chores for the day…and then it struck me…There are only 24 more days till I turn 30!  Now I know that sounds random…but I decided about 8 days ago that I was going to embrace turning 30 by doing something SPecTACuLAR  every day for 30 days…in a sort of a “30 to 30” countdown.  Up until now I have been a bit resistant. To say the least.

It didn’t help that the eye doctor told me I needed reading glasses. Or that there are 3 stark gray hairs that stick up out of my part line and scream at me every time I look in a mirror (the three chosen representatives who remind me of the legions lurking above and behind my ears!)  It also didn’t help that since being home I have um…gotten a little snug in most of my pants.  EEKS!

So I decided that I was going to do something that I DEEMED spectacular for 30 days.  Day 30 was dinner with the family at one of our favorite restaurants.  It was very nice and made nicer by a fellow patron buying dessert for my children because they were “so well behaved.”  That is a lovely badge to wear into adulthood!  Day 29 we had some old/new friends over and had a lovely evening.  One day I decided I was wearing my pajamas to school…just because I could.  Yesterday, I intended on doing yard work (I actually LIKE to do that) and ended up cleaning the inside of the car…not quite as enjoyable but the results are SPecTACuLAR!

When I started this my husband asked me (with a wink) “Is this going to be an expensive celebration?”  I do hope to take the kids to a science museum, or maybe even to the Sight and Sound theater in Pennsylvania to see “JOSEPH.”  BUT I really don’t need to do something EXPENSIVE in order to do something SPecTACuLAR!

Of course the good weather helps, sunshine makes everything spectacular.  But even beyond that— mundane things like making my own Matzoh for our passover celebration– I thoroughly enjoyed it!   Now perhaps you could argue that I am simply convincing myself –that today, as I go around my yard, clearing out gardens and pruning trees and bushes–that I am doing something spectacular.  Well, perhaps.  But don’t we convince ourselves either way?  We either convince ourselves that things are not that bad, or that they are awful.  The fist chapter of 2 Peter has been teaching me that not all things are “IMMEDIATE.” There is a natural progression to our attitudes.  If we continue to grumble about our dissatisfaction with what we do not have, we will eventually grow to hate the things we do have. Like wise if we look on things that are perhaps a bit unpleasant, or not so perfect with kindness, we will eventually learn to love them.  And let’s face it, life is just better when we have a good attitude, and it stinks when we don’t.

So I am learning to embrace the idea of being 30.  One day at a time…instead of expecting to wake up at the end of the month and just “POOF” being ok with it.   And I am very thankful for all of the SPecTACuLAR things in my life.