The little Clay Pot

Lots of things can go in a little Clay Pot

Accepting a little help… February 22, 2011

Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel,….1 Peter 3:7a

Ok, be forewarned you may not like what you are about to read.   But, lets face it blogging really isn’t about who reads it…it’s really about the one who writes it…and this little Clay Pot is just full of all sorts of interesting things.

Lots of people may point to the verse in 1 Peter and say…”SEEEE…men are supposed to honor their wife.”  Yes, they are, but what does honor entail exactly? Buying you presents…making sure you get a spa day? Maybe never arguing with your Supreme Woman of the House persona?  Maybe…somedays.  But let’s look a little closer…that honor comes along with our being the WEAKER vessel.

WHOA! you say?  WAIT, aren’t we supposed to be empowered and strong and superhuman–never sleeping, multi-tasking, child-bearing Super Heros?

Well, look…I like to pretend I look good in skin tight spandex and thigh high boots just as much as the next gal, but truth be told it takes a large portion of energy in the morning just to squeeze myself into a pair of jeans! Super woman I am not!  So I’m not super woman, DO I HAVE TO BE WEAK?

No, and yes.  We are strong.  We do many things and we do them well…but how can our husbands find any joy in helping us (and I’m talking about everything from laundry to opening the door to coming to get us in a raging snow storm because we wrecked the car) IF WE WILL NOT LET THEM BE STRONG (ie. we must be weak)?

We are in a crazy time right now, a blessed, spirit filled time…but crazy none the less…and I need my husbands help.  I need him to help me get up in the morning.  I need him to take care of our children while I am at work.  I need him to help me take care of the meals and cleaning and homeschooling.  I am weak…I can’t do it all on my own.  And I am blessed to have a husband to is answering God’s call to honor his wife. But listen…he wasn’t always that way.  And maybe you are saying that your husband does not honor you–but here is the question…have you stopped for a moment and been weak, been in need of help, been willing to accept help even if it meant that the jeans don’t get folded YOUR way?

I’m learning this.  I am learning to be weak…and really let’s face it…it isn’t so much as learning it…as learning to accept it.

 

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.

 

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!

 

ACK! I missed my Bounty Order! March 31, 2010

Unfortunately yesterday I was focused on other tasks that had to be done, and I forgot about placing my bounty order until after it was to late! I have not missed a bounty order in a month or two, so I am very disappointed.  I am also into “CRunCH” time with my school work, so I need to be organized over the next couple of weeks to make sure that I am not making these silly time/money wasting mistakes!

The first step is going to be a thorough inventory of the kitchen.  Please hold, this may take a few moments, and I will probably get detoured by the needs of a human under 4ft tall. …………….

OK, now that is done, to create a grocery list and a menu.  I have decided that I am going to try to get through to next Thursday with the bare necessities and a few pantry items.  I need to restock on oatmeal (if anyone knows of a place to purchase non-plastic large food containers I would love to know!) and I will need milk, and a few produce items as well as a few things for dinner next week.  I am going to try to get the milk from a local farmer, and the oats and most everything else I will get from Troyer’s.   The menu for next week is very budget friendly, and so I should be able to maintain my $100.00 mark.

I am still trying to figure out the best way to post a grocery list or a break down of what I have purchased–that is not labor intensive.  I have considered scanning my notebook that I take with me and use to keep track of prices, and I think I will try to play with that this week.  I am also looking at some other blog themes that may allow me to organize a bit differently.

Also please take the time to read Mama Beth’s comment on the Breakfast on a Budget post…she is the amazing woman who shared the oatmeal/granola recipe and I greatly respect her experience, expertise and energy!

 

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!