The little Clay Pot

Lots of things can go in a little Clay Pot

Breakfast on a Budget. March 26, 2010

Personally, I am not a big breakfast person…unless it is a BIG breakfast: pancakes, eggs, bacon, oranges, fried potatoes, cinnamon rolls, coffee, Juice.  But let’s face it–the farm family breakfast is just not realistic on a daily basis–at least not in my house!  I think most Americans today have cold cereal, milk, perhaps a fruit, some juice and maybe some toast.  But I know that for us, for a looooong time the routine was–cold cereal–milk–and juice.   Except Saturday, Saturday is pancakes and I think my children would revolt if I tried to pull anything over on them in that department.  I missed a Saturday a few weeks ago and promised to make them on Sunday…there was no backing out on Sunday…they were ready to make a picket line in front of the bathroom if I started to recant!

So as I started this venture I immediately started noticing how much was being spent on cereal.  Even at Aldis a box of “Crisp Rice” is approx $1.49.  Even in Walmart you can expect to pay any where from $1.60- $3.00 (and I think I am being conservative here) for boxed cereal depending on the brand.  Then feed four children an average of 3/4-1 Cup of cereal each day…(Not to mention my husbands, “I’m ready to go to bed–it is time for a bowl of cereal.” habit.) I have to buy at least 2 boxes each week.  So even if it is Crisp Rice from Aldi’s (which is a smaller box and normally I would buy 3 boxes for a week) – that is $4.50 for breakfast not including a fruit or the milk.

Enter the Mighty OAT.  Am I dating myself if I refer to Wilford Brimley telling us all that eating oatmeal is “The right thing to do”?  Oatmeal is actually a very good breakfast food.  It is filling, but not fattening, it is warm or cold, and it is good for our cholesterol.  Amazingly it is also very cost effective.  I can buy rolled oats at my local Amish store for $.70/lb.  A 6.55 lb bag costs $4.59.  Now I have not figured out mow many cups are in 6.55 lbs of oat meal, but I only have to by a bag every few weeks. So figure it is about $1.50 a week?  OR I can buy STEEL CUT OATS (or Oat Grout) (the unrolled oat, some people say it is more filling because it is not processed) for $.62/lb.

My magic numbers for rolled oats are 2 to 4.  Boil 4 cups water, add 2 cups oats.  This is the perfect amount for my 4 kids (for now.)  I am preferring the oat grout right now for 2 reasons:

  1. The magic numbers are 1 to 4.
  2. I can put it  in the crock over night and it is ready in the morning, with minimal clean up!  The recipe can be found here. If my husband want’s to eat some before he goes to work, this is good for that too, because I don’t have to get up at 3am to make him oatmeal before he goes!  I just change the 1 cup oats to 4 cups of water to 1 1/4 cups oats to 5 cups of water.

Now, my kids do get a little tired of oatmeal with butter and brown sugar. So we started experimenting.  We add Fruit (fresh or frozen), nuts and coconut, chocolate chips, maple syrup.  Anything really.  A favorite treat is to mix hot cocoa into it!  But if we really need something different we use this method suggested by a reader.  This is great as a “cold cereal” or on top of yogurt or even plain.  And there is no limit to what you can add  nuts, fruit…hmmm probably even some hot cocoa (will have to experiment with that!)

I do not buy much juice, a lot of cost for not a great nutrition (depending on the variety of course).  So we drink tea or milk or water and have an orange or mandarin with breakfast to get in that Vit. C.  These typically are not too expensive at Aldi’s and a large orange can be split between 2 kids.   I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but based on the USDA guidelines Children aged 2-8 only need 1- 1 1/2 cup of fruit per day.   And when you look at what counts as 1 cup, you don’t need to eat your whole serving at once.  A half an orange at breakfast, and 1/2 cup of pears or apple at lunch…and *POOF* you’ve done it!  Throw some plums or raisins in for a snack and now you have exceeded the need and gotten most of the recommended vitamins!   Apart of the $$ problem is that we just plain eat too much and waste too much.  When we put in perspective what our bodies really need to be healthy…suddenly we are able to spend a lot less money.

Happy eating!

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To Be or Not To Be… February 10, 2010

There are certain advantages to being a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM).  There are also certain advantages to being a Go To Work Mom (GTWM).  The question that lies deep within all of us women is…”Is it better on the other side?”  The answer is “Yes.”  It doesn’t matter which side you are on…it will always be better on the other side.  We are talking about the proverbial grass right?  It’s always greener on the other side.  But I learned a secret to being content on my own side of the fence.

Of course the number one rule here is you must know Jesus.  Philippians 4:7 says: And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (emphasis added.)  We have to know Jesus Christ to have peace. 

The second rule is we must be functioning in the LORD’s will…otherwise we will have no peace.  Ephesians 5:17 tells us not be unwise, but to know the will of the LORD.  (paraphrase)  Isaiah 26:3 tells us that God will keep us in perfect peace, if we stay focused on Him, because we can trust Him. (paraphrase)

My great epiphany?  Remember in Hinds Feet in High Places…when the Shephard took Much-Afraid to Egypt, and showed her the granary?  He showed her how each type of grain had its own method of being threshed and used.  Then He showed Much-Afraid the potter: cutting, and kneading, and shaping the clay.  And this is what the Shephard said to Much-Afraid:

                   “In Egypt, too, I fashion my fairest and finest vessels and bring forth instruments for my work, according as I see fit.” (Jeremiah 18) Then He smiled and added, “Cannot I do with you Much-Afraid, as this potter?  Behold, as the clay is in the hand of the potter so are you in my hand.” (Jeremiah 18:6)

While in Egypt Much-Afraid finds tiny little golden flowers that are called “Acceptance-with-Joy.”

The LORD led me to Egypt.  He took me to work.  I worked long hours and the LORD blessed me and I was respected and paid well for the work I was doing.  He blessed the work of my hands and used me as an instrument.  But, He also took me there to break me, to beat me like grain, and to knead me like clay.  And as He worked…and I became more focused on the things of the flesh–the things of Egypt–my home, my car, my status…I started to break.  My only rest was in the fact that I knew that I was where the LORD had put me…until the LORD chose to take me out. 

The Shephard did not leave Much-Afraid in Egypt.  God did not leave Israel in Egypt.  God did not leave me in Egypt either.   He brought me home, to be a mother, a wife, and even a student.  Honestly, I do not even long for Egypt.  Some of the comforts maybe (the steady pay-check) but the LORD has provided! Proving that what I think of as a comfort is not even necessary.  So I came out of Egypt, a little formed clay pot, and I have learned to be content. 

So maybe I am corn that has to be crushed with a stone.  Maybe you are wheat that can be tossed gently in the wind…But we both need to be willing to go to Egypt if the LORD leads us there, and we need to “Accept-with-Joy” the work that he does on us.  I am still a little clay pot.  But the LORD is forming me into something of beauty that HE can use for His purposes.

 

What’s up with the Crock Pot? February 8, 2010

If you have looked at the weekly menus, you may have noticed that I use a crock pot two times a week.  There are a few reasons for this.  One: I am in school full time pursuing my BS in Nursing, and I have class on Mondays and Wednesdays.  My Husband has been starting work between 5:30 and 7 Am…the means He is up by 4:30 or 6.  While he is perfectly capable of preparing a meal ( He WAS Mr. Mom for two years…I will have to post about that some time) the last thing I want to do is make him make dinner after working all day…But I need to be on campus by 4:00?  So how is a woman supposed to feed her family?

Two: I read this post http://www.lainesletters.com/letters/quiettime.html when studying the Proverbs 31 woman.  Let me summarize in my own little Clay Pot way…

Women will often state that we can not be the Proverbs 31 woman…we can’t possibly do it all…she was a woman of means…she obviously had servants:

She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. Proverbs 31: 15

So How does this tie into my crock pot?  This brilliant women  (the original author, not yours truly) learned something from the LORD:  Every American woman has servants.

  • We all have running water.
  • Most of us have a hot water heater.
  • We have furnaces.
  • We have Washing machines
  • We have dishwashers
  • Toasters
  • …crockpots.

But are servants self directed?  Do servants get up and say…”I know exactly what my master wants today…I am just going to do it all on my own.”  Well, some may I suppose, but just like we are to be servants of Christ…the more we follow after our own ideas with out checking in with the master…the more we veer from what He would have us do. And we can only work with what the LORD provides for us…we have no resources of our own.  Our appliances are very simple servants.  Every day, my washing machine performs the same task–sometimes 10 times a day!  But it still has not learned to put the laundry in, add detergent, and fill with water all on its own.  My crock pot can’t chop a carrot to save its life.  But I am their master…and it is my job to give them the supplies they need and to tell them what to do.  There are so many analogies and lessons that could be learned here it makes my head spin! Jesus has me going to school right now.  But that does not mean that I can neglect my tasks in providing for our family.  Nor does it mean that my husband should have to do more than He already does.  So, Out comes the little servant girl the “Crock Pot.”  She is quiet, pleasant looking, and will work diligently for 4-5 or 6-8 hours at the rate I tell her to work at, and given the right supplies she prepares marvelous meals.

If you are not a fan of the crock pot…so be it.  But take some time to examine the blessings in your life and the comforts that you have been afforded…and then ask Jesus to show you how you can use them to serve Him.