Friday, August 31, 2012

From Scratch

Mmm-mmm good. I'm not talking about that mass-produced, full of preservatives food. I'm talking about good home-cooked (from scratch) cooking. Tasty!!

I'm a big fan of from scratch cooking. It's a point of pride that my hubby prefers some of my homemade alternatives to mixes and packaged foods.

Up until this fall, I have worked part-time, but have also been a full-time student. How did I make home-cooked meals?

I planned ahead. I made menus and shopping lists and only cooked once or twice a week. The rest of the times, we ate leftovers. I also don't have kids, only do laundry once a week, make use of my slow-cooker, and don't watch a lot of tv. I worked with computers all day, so when I came home after a long day of school, studying, and work, I was alright not being on facebook or the internet.

This is my busiest semester yet. How am I making home-cooked from scratch meals now?

Freezer cooking. I am cooking once a month and freezing large quantities of food. I will then thaw things out in the fridge to pack for lunches and eat for supper. I am counting on my hubby to help me with grilling (cuz that's men's work??) and clean-up.

Now we do buy some canned, frozen, and packaged foods. We do eat out sometimes. But the majority of the time, I like to cook and do my own thing.

Hubby and I are going into missions. Which means we might go to another country. Which means I may not have access to all my instant foods and mixes. Which means I may be doing a lot more from-scratch cooking in the future. So now is a season for me to prepare, learn, and gather weapons...er recipes...to use when I won't have access to bisquick.

I don't think a cookbook should publish a recipe that will make cheesy biscuits that require cheese and a tube of biscuits. Seriously. Teach me how to make it from scratch instead.

Personally, I find the kitchen relaxing. I've learned that I really enjoy preparing fresh fruits and veggies for eating, even if I'm home alone, working silently, with no music. The smell of home-made breads and the joy of a hubby liking home-made foods better than their store-bought alternative keeps me going.

So make some mashed potatoes from real potatoes. Roll out the biscuits like mama used to make. Prepare a feast of from-scratch home-cooked goodness. Then invite me over. Or a neighbor, or a college student, or a lady from church. Good food is meant to be shared.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

I Saw Jesus (a Non-Liz Poem)

Sometimes, you have the words to say.

Other times, someone else says what you want to say, but says it better than you can phrase it.

This is a poem that I didn't write, but I love so dearly.

Jesus In Us

I Saw Jesus Last Week.
He was wearing blue jeans and an old shirt.
He was up at the church building
He was alone and working hard.
For just a minute he looked a little like one of our church members.
But it was Jesus, I could tell by his smile.

I saw Jesus last Sunday.
He was teaching a Bible class.
He didn't talk real loud or use long words,
But you could tell he believed what he said.
For just a minute, he looked like my Sunday School teacher.
But it was Jesus, I could tell by his loving voice.

I saw Jesus yesterday.
He was at the hospital visiting a friend who was sick.
They prayed together quietly.
For just a minute he looked like our preacher.
But it was Jesus, I could tell by the tears in his eyes.

I saw Jesus this morning.
He was in my kitchen making my breakfast
He then fixed me a special lunch to take with me.
For just a minute he looked like my Mom.
But it was Jesus, I could feel the love from his heart.

I saw Jesus today.
He was praying on his knees all alone.
He then began to cry for those he prayed for.
For just a minute he looked like a lady from our church.
But it was Jesus, I could see the compassion poured out of his prayer.

I saw Jesus the other day.
He was at the grocery store talking to a friend.
He then put his arms around them to comfort them.
For just a minute he looked like a young mother in our ladies class.
But it was Jesus, I could see the concern for others who hurt.

I see Jesus everywhere,
Taking food to the sick,
Welcoming others to his home,
Being friendly to a newcomer
And for just a minute I think he's someone I know.
But it's always Jesus, I can tell by the way he serves.

May someone see Jesus in you today.
Remember to encourage those you see living for Jesus!
"You are My witnesses," says the Lord." (Isaiah 43:5) Life is God's gift to you.. The way you live it...is your gift to God.

~Author Unknown~
Where I Found This Poem

When have you seen Jesus in your life?

How do people see Jesus in you?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Frugality- Is It The Next New Thing?

My hubby and I try to be pretty frugal. Between the two of us, we have 1.45 jobs. Lucas has a full-time job and I work part-time (and am a full-time student). How much income does 1.45 jobs generate? Enough to live on and save...if you're frugal.

What don't we do?
1. We don't eat out every day, or even every week, or even 3x a month. Eating out is a special occasion for us.
2. We don't get (many) convenience foods. I have the time to devote to cooking from scratch (mostly). We don't buy frozen meals often, we make our own.
3. We don't keep highly expensive habits. Neither of us smoke, drink, or gamble. Those are expenditures that we don't have to make.
4. We don't have a tv (we had netflix for a while though), but we don't see commercials as a result.
5. We don't buy what we can't afford.
6. We don't use a dishwasher...mostly because we don't have one.
7. We don't make big purchases without talking with our spouse.
8. We don't buy things because our friends have them (in fact most of our friends are into frugality too).
9. We don't keep separate accounts and track my money and his money. It's our money, our spending, and our lives.
10. We don't have any more debt. We really tightened our budget down as newlyweds, so we could pay off *our* debt. Tax returns and extra monies were tithed and then sent to attack our debt until it was paid off.

What do we do?
1. We eat leftovers. A LOT.
2. I spend more time in the kitchen and house, making my own things.
3. We shop around. I look for the store with the best prices and highest quality goods. (For me this is Aldi's. I love Aldi's. Especially when 99 cent strawberries come around each summer).
4. We separate wants from needs.
5. We save up for big purchases and keep an emergency fund.
6. We get used items (thrifting, yard-saling, etc).
7. We give ourselves an allowance. Sometimes a milky way is too much of a temptation.
8. We know where our money goes. We track it and talk about it.
9. We reuse sandwich baggies and tupperwares (unless the baggies held raw meat).
10. We plan a menu and make a shopping list.

Why are we frugal?
1. We want to be good stewards of what God has given us.
2. We want to go into missions and handle our resources well.
3. Just because we have money, doesn't mean that we have to spend it.
4. We don't want to be in debt again. We want enough saved up to cover surprises thrown our way.
5. We're in favor of minimalizing. Frugality is related. We don't need to spend big bucks on pricy new things, because we don't want more *stuff*.
6. We don't feel a need to compete with the Joneses.
7. Being frugal allows us to help others who need help.
8. God has blessed us, so we don't want to squander (or hoard) His blessings.
9. We are in favor of the simple, fuller life.
10. We want to be respectful of the planet's resources, our money, and those who live in poverty. So we thrift-shop and recycle stuff and whatnot.

Being frugal has gotten more attention of late, with a slow economy and poor job prospects. More people are thrifting and reusing and cutting back. Do you have any frugal practices? Any ideas you want to share? Is frugality becoming the next new thing?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

4 Years Ago to Today

As the fall semester is quickly approaching, I got bit by the nostalgia bug and went into a state of self-reflection. Where was I four years ago? How had I changed over the past 4 years? Did I expect to change in this way? 

I never thought I'd travel to a foreign country and love it so much. I never thought that I would be comfortable flying. I never thought that I would share my testimony and sing in front of people. I never thought I would get married before I graduated. I never thought that I would stop being a vegetarian. I never thought I would de-bone a whole chicken. Yet I did all these things and am better for completing these tasks.

4 years ago, my school/summer job was life-guarding (I thought I would never stop guarding, but I stopped getting re-certified).
Today my school/summer job is computer lab consultant (I never thought I would be someone helping others with computers).

4 years ago, I was a Christian of the Methodist variety (apparently Methodist is "high church").
Today, I'm a Christian of the Nazarene variety (apparently Nazarene is "low church") (see Following the Church Year for more details on high and low church).

4 years ago, I was preparing for my first semester of college (and couldn't predict how much I would love it).
Today, I'm preparing for my student teaching experience (and can't predict what my experience will be like).

4 years ago, I was single and satisfied (No boyfriend for Liz-o).
Today, I am married and satisfied (No boyfriend for Liz-o; she's married).

4 years ago, I was a vegetarian. (I was a veg-head for about 6 years: start of freshman year of high school until mid-way through my sophomore year of college. I thought I would be vegetarian for the rest of my life).
Today, I eat what people put in front of me (and what I make myself).

4 years ago was an election year (ugh...politics).
Today, we are faced with another one of those (ugh...politics).

4 years ago, I could say I've been to Jamaica on a mission trip (mission  trip-completed).
Today, I can say I've been to Jamaica, Florida, California, and Uruguay on mission trips (when's my next one??).

4 years ago, I thought God was joking about calling me to missions (very funny, God).
Today, I realize that He's quite serious (oh, that wasn't a joke.).

4 years ago, there was no talk of e-readers (people who read e-mails??).
Today, I own one (with 1400+ books).

4 years ago, I bought textbooks from the official bookstore (cuz they're the bookstore. You're supposed to buy books there).
Today, I buy textbooks used online (except not this semester, no textbooks for Lizo)

4 years ago, I exercised by swimming and doing karate (and I unintentionally threatened people by mentioning I had karate skills).
Today, I do zumba! (and recruit friends to join too)

4 years ago, I didn't want to learn a new language, in case I learned the "wrong one" (i.e. if I learned German and then moved to India).
Today, I'm learning my second language and if it's God's will, I'll learn more.

I've learned many things throughout these 4 years, such as:
-My identity is not restricted to what I eat; my identity is in Christ.
-The old hymns (over 100 years old) are my favorites.
-I can share my story, my faith, and God's love.
-Back pain is not fun, but friends are there to carry anything heavy that I try to carry.
-Ice cream and Stargate:SG1 can make the day seem better.
-Friends are worth early mornings and late nights.
-I've learned about managing money...mostly through experience and experimenting with shopping at different stores.

How have you changed over the years? For better or for worse? Did you reach your initial goals or discover new ones?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A New Sort of Frozen Meal

OAMC (once a month cooking). Freezer cooking. A giant challenge I have accepted. From June through November, I will be cooking once a month and then freezing the tasty tidbits for suppers and lunches over a month. And I'm excited.

I'm health conscious. I know fast foods and eating out isn't good for my waistline or budget, but I do need to eat each day.

I won't have time or energy most of the fall semester for cooking at night, so I'm planning ahead. Way ahead.

I'm not fond of store-bought frozen meals, so for the rest of this year, I'm making and eating my own.

I'm excited about the potential this idea has.

Let's say a friend is sick, or in the hospital, or just had a baby. I have pre-prepared foods I can send her way.

Unexpected company? Let me pull something out of my freezer and get it thawed!!

Bored with yesterday's meal? Thaw out a new one!!

Planning ahead with my meals promises to offer me greater freedom, flexibility, and ways to minister.

Let's get the freezing on.