green smoothie in mason jar

How To Make a Simple Green Smoothie (It’s more simple than you think!)

green smoothie in mason jar

Recently, I explained how I freeze bananas to use for baking and smoothies. Well, my wonderful and insightful sister thought that maybe some more detailed information on what to do with frozen bananas would be in order. Perhaps she’s right.

So let’s talk smoothies. I use banana (especially frozen bananas), in almost every smoothie. We usually have them on hand, they add a wonderful smooth texture, and most of all, you can’t beat bananas to sweeten a smoothie (especially one with greens).

I just assumed that any old person could make a smoothie. And maybe you’re one of those who can. (If so, feel free to share your favorite smoothie recipe with me!).

But maybe you’ve never attempted to make one. Perhaps you thought you needed one of those nice, expensive smoothie machines to make one (and you don’t), or maybe you just buy smoothies that other people make (also expensive).

So today I want to tell you how easy it is to make your own green smoothie.

I have made smoothies for years, but only occasionally. Even though I really enjoy smoothies, here are some reasons that kept me from making my own:

  1. I just didn’t realize how easy it is.
  2. I thought it would be too time-consuming (especially for breakfast before a busy work day).
  3. I don’t have a fancy “smoothie maker”.

Hopefully, this post will help you realize how simple and quick it really is to make delicious and nutritious smoothies in your own blender!

Years ago, my first few tries at smoothie-making mainly consisted of frozen fruit (or unfrozen fruit and a few ice cubes), some juice (for liquid), and optional yogurt (which I usually added for taste and protein). These tasted delicious and were somewhat healthy, but contained more sugar and lacked the nutritional boost of greens.

purple smoothie

But now my “go-to” smoothies are made with greens. Once I figured out what flavors tasted good together and got myself and my family used to a slightly less sweet smoothie, I can’t hardly “leave” out the greens. (See what I did there? “Leave” out the leafy greens?)

One reason I began to try to work with greens in my smoothies is because I had access to good, free greens. If you have your own garden, you likely have plenty of fresh greens.

When we started getting more greens from our CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) farm share, I didn’t want them to go to waste. We usually try to cook and eat them (they can be prepared and enjoyed like spinach), but if I have a lot, I put some aside in freezer bags for future smoothies.

Swiss chard

Farm fresh Swiss chard greens (and a little turnip green).

red and golden beet greens

Golden and red beet greens.

This past year I really had it good while I worked at an indoor microgreens farm. Microgreens are highly nutritious. In fact, WebMD states that they contain, “up to 40 times higher levels of vital nutrients than their mature counterparts.” You can read more about that here.  One of the awesome benefits of my little farm job was being able to help myself to greens from the employee fridge. So this past summer, we had a delicious and nutritious green smoothie for breakfast probably two to three times a week.

kitty in wheatgrass

Our kitties love greens, too. 🙂

Mostly I’ve just been “winging” it with my smoothies. But over time I’m getting pretty good at it, as well as coming up with some favorite ideas.

One thing I have learned (through trial and error), that makes all the difference in good smoothie-making is that you need enough liquid. Even if you like it thick, a blender requires sufficient liquid to operate. Some in my family prefer an even thinner smoothie than I do, which can be accomplished by adding even more liquid and/or not using as much frozen fruit (as the ice makes it thicker).

green smoothie in blender

You can make a wonderful, healthy green smoothie right in your blender!

Simple Green Smoothies is a great site with loads of good information on making green smoothies. They even run a free 30-Day Green Smoothie Challenge. I really like their poster (scroll down on this page), with their basic green smoothie “formula”.

This is roughly what I’ve been doing, but it makes life even easier to simply remember two cups liquid, two cups leafy greens, and three cups of fruit. I love that this recipe is simple, but versatile. Some additional optional ingredients that I would add to their list are as follows:

  1. microgreens (leafy greens category) – the healthiest, if you can get your hands on some
  2. beet greens (greens category) – never throw out the healthy greens from your beets!
  3. 100% fruit juice (liquid category) – Be aware that this option will add natural sugar to your smoothie, but may be desirable, especially if your family is “new” to green smoothies.
  4. fresh or frozen cranberries (fruit category) – full of antioxidants as well as many other health benefits 
  5. PBfit or other peanut butter powder – contains all the goodness of and 85% less fat than regular peanut butter (“boosts” category)
  6. Powdered whey (“boosts”) – excellent source of protein (explore here)

Be sure to note that you need to use at least some frozen fruit in order to thicken and chill your smoothie. Alternatively, you may add a few ice cubes, but I prefer to pack my smoothie full of flavor and nutrition without added water.

blueberry green smoothies

Green smoothies are not always green (with blueberries).

green smoothie

Mango-chard smoothie.

So now that you have all this green smoothie information at your finger-tips (and hopefully a good supply of frozen bananas), what are you waiting for?

*****

Please do share any great smoothie tips with us here! Have you tried making a green smoothie yet? Are you the proud owner of one of those coveted special smoothie makers?

 

 

 

 

 

hanging bananas

Life Cycle of a Banana

bananas and tomatoes on my counter

I’m sure I now have you all on the edge of your seat, breathlessly awaiting an in-depth study about how bananas are grown and harvested, but that is not the topic of this post. (Sorry.) Neither will I discuss what happens after you ingest bananas…..(no further comments necessary!).

Today’s post is just about the life cycle of a banana at my house. Or more specifically, what on earth do I do with bananas that could be interesting enough to write an entire post about them on Simply Flourishing Home???

banana pile

Let me start with the fact that I know this will be a boring post for some of you experienced bakers, smoothie-makers and banana-keepers.

***But one thing I realized before I began blogging is that many times it’s that “obvious” tip to us that someone else just needs to hear. I have lived for almost fifty years, and cooked and baked for over twenty-five married years, and I’m still learning some great hacks and tips for all areas of my life.

***So at the risk of boring you or causing you to feel I’m insulting your intelligence, I have decided to sometimes share a simple tip or idea, for those of you who for whatever reason, find yourselves “out of the loop”. I would, of course, also welcome any tips and tricks for home-making that my readers would be willing to share in the comments. Share the wealth!

So back to bananas.

Bananas are a healthy, convenient, economical, portable fruit. I try to keep them on hand at all times for a quick, easy morning serving of fruit. They are also invaluable for baking and smoothies!

Let’s talk about banana nutrition.

I won’t go into great depth here (as I am not a nutritionist nor a banana expert), but suffice it to say that a bananas possess a whole slew of health benefits. They are naturally fat and cholesterol-free, provide a high dose of potassium (which is beneficial to your heart, muscles, nerves and kidneys, and can help lower blood pressure). They also contain a healthy dose of vitamin C, vitamin B-6, manganese and fiber, and aide in the digestive process.

In case that’s not enough for you, this interesting article discusses 25 Powerful Reasons to Eat Bananas, and claims several additional health benefits, many of which I had never even heard before today.

In our family, bananas are consumed several times per week as is, but we also depend on them for moist, delicious baked goods and to thicken and sweeten our healthy smoothies.

lots of bananas

So what’s the best way to be sure to have bananas on hand at all times in case the urge strikes to bake fresh banana bread or create a delicious smoothie?

Stock up on bananas whenever you have a chance. Thankfully, they are one of the cheaper foods to begin with, but if you happen to catch a sale, find some on the reduced-produce rack at your store, or “adopt” them from someone who for some reason has extras, then go for it! (I used to gratefully receive bunches on occasion from the school cafeteria where I worked, before vacation days when they would be sure to spoil if left.) I often buy an extra bunch on purpose to keep my freezer-stock supplied.

Just a side note here. I have tried (I thought with some success), that trick of wrapping the banana stems in foil to retard the ripening process. Although I had come across some reason to believe it is effective, I now realize through a little research that most people believe it makes no difference if you wrap the stems in foil or plastic wrap, or separate the bananas. I looked at several write-ups and videos, and in the end, I can’t find anything scientific to back up the idea that any of these methods actually makes a difference.

So if you notice any foil on my bunch of bananas in the photo, just ignore it. Until I conduct an actual experiment myself (which I will surely share here), I will refrain from further wasting foil on my banana stems.

So just what do you do when you just have too many bananas, or they are too ripe for your taste to eat?

overripe bananas

Most of you who care anything about baking know that bananas can be stored in the freezer until you need them for baking. For years, though, I threw the entire banana in, peel and all. This works, but when you take it out of the freezer and let it thaw, you now have to remove the blackened peel and are left with a soggy, slimy, mess. It still works and tastes fine in a recipe, but it leaves something to be desired in appearance and texture (in other words, it’s gross!)

One day, my life was forever changed when I made an important discovery; not to the whole world perhaps, but to this avid baker. I don’t even remember where I learned this idea, but it is to simply peel the banana BEFORE you freeze it.

freezing bananas

Yes, that’s it.

Some of you are probably saying, “Duh. Of course you peel them first. This is a waste of my time.”,  (to which I will refer you back to the above starred paragraphs), but I will share it here in case you, like me, need someone to tell you.

Now I simply peel and break each ripe banana into quarters or thirds and throw them into a freezer bag. This way, they can be easily taken out to thaw before baking, or warmed slightly in the microwave to soften if you are in a hurry.

Also, this method works great for thickening and sweetening smoothies! Simply place as many frozen banana chunks as desired into your blender (or fancy smoothie-maker, if you have one), along with your smoothie ingredients and life is good.

So that’s it, folks! The life cycle of a banana in my house.

Stay tuned to find out about two of my favorite related baking tips that I plan to share soon. One has something to do with pumpkins, and the second is about muffin dough. I can’t wait to share them with you!

Now, I think I’ll go and make some banana muffins.

*****

Do you love to bake with bananas or add them to smoothies? Have you ever tried freezing them? Are you willing to admit that you also wrap your banana stems in foil???

 

 

 

Proverbs 16:3

Flourishing Plans

Proverbs 16:3

 

…or as the NLT (New Living Translation) states,

 

“Commit your actions to the lord, and your plans will succeed.”

 

Well, that sounds simple enough.

So if I just pray about my plans every day, God will make me succeed?

 

On first glance at this verse, it would seem that if we are Christians (or perhaps even if we aren’t), and if we pray and ask for God’s blessing every day, then everything will go smoothly.

But there are two major flaws with this line of thought.

 

First, my plans DO NOT ALWAYS SUCCEED! 

At least, that’s how it appears. Life does not always go smoothly; in fact, sometimes it’s painfully difficult.

But do I ever consider that God has an even better plan, one that allows for my growth and His glory, and not just my comfort? Ouch!

 

The second problem is that I think we interpret this verse ALL BACKWARDS.

As much as I want it to mean that I just go ahead and plan my day and my life and God will bless it, I have to remind myself that I also need to consider that my ways may not necessarily be God’s ways.

Mother doesn’t always know best! (That’s me, by the way.)

I need to remember that my life is fully surrendered to Christ, not just when I go to church on Sunday, but for real, in the nitty-gritty of my everyday life.

 

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20

Oswald Chambers expresses it this way in a devotional reading entitled, “The Surrendered Life”:

“To become one with Jesus Christ, a person must be willing not only to give up sin, but also to surrender his whole way of looking at things. Being born again by the Spirit of God means that we must first be willing to let go before we can grasp something else.”

Yes, I want my plans to succeed.

But first and foremost, even though it may mean walking through difficulty and pain, I want my life to be fully surrendered to the Lord, with the end result being His glory.

I want to grow and mature into the real person God designed me to be.

If going through difficulties may make my life a blessing or an encouragement to others, then so be it.

My true desire is to commit my way to the Lord, and allow His good plan to flourish and succeed in my life.

Besides, His plan is so much better than mine ever could be.

“If you are faced with the question of whether or not to surrender, make a determination to go on through the crisis, surrendering all that you have and all that you are to Him. And God will then equip you to do all that He requires of you.” – Oswald Chambers, from My Utmost For His Highest

*****

 

community, city

Responsible Reasons for Buying Local

My home (fall)

I am all for bargains.

In fact, I think that most of the time doing everything we can (within reason),to save money is not only smart, but often necessary, in order to stay within our budgets.

But once in awhile there are legitimate reasons for doing what is expedient, such as buying local. And I often have to remind myself of this when it seems I’m just taking the “easy way out” or being lazy.

 

These are some the items we often purchase locally:

  •  milk or other necessities (from a local convenience store)
  • vegetables, eggs or honey (from a farm stand or our CSA share)
  • hardware for home repairs (from the small, downtown hardware store)
  • grocery items (from our local supermarket)
  • prepared foods and homemade crafts (from local church fairs)
  • girl scout cookies or other products from neighbor kids raising money
  • meals and beverages from local restaurants (one in particular which sources ingredients from local farmers)
  • delicious fresh-roasted coffee (by a local roaster)

Razzo Coffee

Now let me clarify that is it not always more expensive to buy food and household items from a local source.

We have found some wonderful local vegetable stands, for instance, who actually offer us a better-than-supermarket price. (When I was growing up, sometimes I was allowed to sell our excess garden produce at a small table on the side of the road, or from a wagon pulled down one of the neighboring streets. We sold a tomato for about ten cents, which even for that time, was a bargain.) And our convenience stores actually offer one of the best prices on 1% milk!

But more often than not, it seems the smaller and sometimes family-run businesses right in my neighborhood are a little more expensive.

Most often when I make a purchase my priority is to get the best bang for my buck. Sometimes I will drive to a certain store, take advantage of a special sale or offer, purchase in bulk, or order online, just to name a few of the ways I try to save my hard-earned money. But that’s a post for another day.

Sometimes it’s a hard decision to “spend more” to buy something locally, when I know that it’s so many dollars or cents cheaper at a store like Walmart.

But in thinking it over, there are plenty of legitimate reasons to buy local.

 

Here are some of the good, responsible reasons that I sometimes stay close to home and buy local:

1. Convenience – This may seem extremely obvious, but buying local is usually very convenient. We don’t have to drive across town (or farther), peruse sales flyers for the best buy, clip coupons, or plan around our schedule to make our purchase. I can simply stop on my way home from work.

truck in town

2. Save money on gas – Any time we can make a purchase close to home, we are saving precious gas dollars. I think sometimes we overlook the obvious, that driving a greater distance to save a dollar or two may not add up.

minivan

2015-06-06 18.21.44

3. Save time – Our time is one of our most valuable assets. Often we can “waste” or expend far more time and energy trying to save money, than it’s actually worth. Whatever time I chose to spend travelling to and from a store and shopping is time taken away from something that could be more important, such as family time, rest, cooking a homemade meal, or working on a hobby. If you work for yourself, it could even be taking away from your actual income.

book on couch with blanket

making apple crisp

late-night snack with cocoa

my desk area

4. Support Your Community – While it’s true that saving money is important, it’s also valuable to invest in the local businesses of your own home town. They are usually run by honest people just trying to make a living, and they both appreciate and depend on our purchases. Also, just think how you would feel if your neighbors all went out of business. There would be no more “convenience” stores to quickly stop in to on your way home from work.

Supporting your neighborhood children’s school and club programs is also a worthwhile investment. When some of the neighborhood children come to the door selling products to raise money for a worthwhile cause, we try to help them out whenever possible. It also helps to foster good relationships and shows Christ-like love to those around us.

groceries

farm produce

community, city

My Home Town

5. Better Quality – Not always, but very often a locally made or grown item is of better quality than the same item purchased from a big store. We often buy ice-cream from our local restaurant and dairy, and let me tell you, it is a treat! It’s also made from more natural ingredients. Our produce “share” (from our CSA – Community Shared Agriculture), is completely fresh and delicious, picked fresh from our local farm.

Bliss Bros. ice-cream & light cream

CSA farm share

6. Connect With Your Neighbors – This may sound like a funny one, but just hear me out. Usually, I like to talk and interact with people, and what better way to do so with those in your own neighborhood than by shopping in a store in your town? I’m not suggesting that you can build deep, intimate relationships by chatting in the grocery isle over the spaghetti sauce. But you may be able to meet someone new, say “hello” to an acquaintance, or just smile or lend a listening ear to someone who needs a little attention. There have been times when I have asked if I could reach an item from a high shelf for someone in the supermarket, and the helping hand seems to make their day.

visiting Grandma Lilian

 

There are likely other reasons for buying local, but these are some of the values that cause me to feel I am making a responsible decision when I decide it’s best to pick something up in town.

*****

Do you make a habit of buying certain items in your home town? Do you consider it important to support your local businesses? What types of purchases do you make locally?

 

 

 

 

 

iced coffee and rose

If You Love Them, Let Them Go…..Eat !!! (Valentine’s Day Edition)

iced coffee and rose

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a wife and mother (especially with three tall men making up my family; my husband, a teenager, and a young adult), it is that one of the best ways to show love is to feed them. You know the old saying that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Well, it’s usually true!

Now, I’m all for healthy living and eating, and there are times when that trumps such luxuries as Valentine’s Day treats. Sometimes the most loving thing to do is to make something healthy. But I’m also a firm believer in making life enjoyable for my family, so sometimes “fun” food wins!

Going out to eat is nice, but can be especially busy on holidays such as Valentine’s Day. Perhaps you are saving money and don’t wish to go out to an expensive restaurant, have young children at home and it’s not always easy to get (or afford) a sitter, or wish to have a special family day together (and save your special “date night” for the evening or another more practical day).

There are creative ways to enjoy eating at home, whether it’s just you and your special someone, or a family holiday together.

Sometimes it’s special to spend hours in the kitchen, crafting an exquisite meal at home complete with fancy side dishes and dessert, but I live in the real world, where most often something simple is desirable…..and did I mention that I’m dealing with men, here? Even my husband admits that men like simple.

 

So here are some simple food ideas to celebrate Valentine’s Day at home with your family without spending your whole day in the kitchen:

1. Order take-out:  It may seem obvious, but ordering take-out food to eat at home is both fun and can be much cheaper than eating in a restaurant.

pizza and wings

2 Pick up a favorite coffee or surprise treat:  Surprise your loved one(s) by stopping at their favorite coffee drive-through or bringing home donuts or ice-cream.

crazy family with Tim Horton's

3. Make-your-own special hot or cold drink:  We love to make cafe-style hot beverages at home using our battery-operated milk frother, and our favorite iced coffee is now homemade, cold-brewed. (More on drink recipes later!)

milk frother

cold-brewed iced coffee

4. Choose foods that are naturally red or pink:  Desserts or salads with strawberries or other red fruits make festive choices. One of my favorite bloggers recently shared a whole list of 29 Fun treat Recipes for Valentine’s Day!

homemade pound cake with strawberries

salad with berries

5. Make something “usual” in an unusual shape:  Kids of all ages love heart-shaped pancakes (using a heart-shaped pancake mold, “winging it” like I have on my own, or even crafting your own tinfoil molds ; there’s even a link with instructions for making heart-shaped bacon!)

2015-09-12 07.19.00

6. Cook or bake one of their favorites (no matter the color or shape):  I even purchased an entire cream cheese cookbook (years ago when they would allow sales people to leave them for us to browse at work), in order to obtain many different cheesecake recipes since it was one of my husband’s favorites.

french bread pizza

7. Decorate desserts or treats with appropriately colored sprinkles or candies:  Appropriately colored sprinkles (red, pink, white) or cinnamon hearts make regular cookies, brownies or whipped-cream look special.

cupcakes with sprinkles

8. Serve food or drinks in appropriately colored or decorated dishes, mugs or paper-ware:  Pull out your red mugs and dishes or pick up some Valentine-themed paper goods.

WOF loved heart mug

As you can see, with a little effort and imagination, you can make the day feel special (and still find time to relax yourself). These ideas can be switched up for other holidays and special occasions as well. One anniversary (long ago, before kids), when funds were extremely tight, I made pizza at home for just the two of us in the shape of a heart. I’ve made heart-shaped pizzas since then for my family on various occasions! Fun!

Did anyone happen to notice that none of these photos were exactly of Valentine’s Day goodies? I guess I need to start taking more photos of my Valentine’s Day treats! Tomorrow I plan to make either strawberry shortcake or homemade pound cake with strawberries, and I’ll be sure to take a photo!

Have fun with those you love this Valentine’s Day!

*****

What kinds of heart-shaped foods have you cooked or baked? Do you have any other practical but fun Valentine’s Day ideas?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Country-Style Potato and Onion Pie

How To Eat an Egg Part 1 – Country-Style Potato and Onion Pie

Country-Style Potato and Onion Pie

Country-Style Potato and Onion Pie

I’m all for quick, easy meals, especially for supper at the end of a long, busy day (as in, most of the time).

But I also want to serve my family as much real, healthy food as possible, without driving myself insane.

One way I accomplish this is to rely on some easy, quick meals made with ingredients I regularly keep on hand.

Enter, the egg.

Now I won’t try to convince you of what kind of eggs to buy. My favorite, and I think the best option, would be a local, farm-fresh egg, which we indulge in on occasion. There are also many different kinds of “healthy” eggs available for purchase at the supermarket, but do your own research and be careful of misleading labels and information. (For some interesting and informative reading about healthy eggs, read this and this.)

The meal budget for our family of four grown humans (three of which are tall men), does not regularly allow for farm-fresh eggs. After doing a little informational reading, I feel it’s a healthy compromise to purchase regular, store-bought eggs most of the time.

This food staple can be one of the cheapest, money-saving meal options out there, especially if you shop special sales or buy in larger quantities (or best option yet, raise your own chickens like my dear sister). I usually buy a large quantity from my local warehouse-style store (mine is BJ’s Wholesale Club), and try to stock up when they offer a coupon.

If you have stronger convictions about eating “healthier” eggs and a grocery budget to match, feel free to use your special eggs. Also, if high cholesterol or other issues prevent you from indulging in unlimited eggs, use whatever egg substitute you currently purchase. The cost will be increased, but I’m quite sure it will still result in a cheaper protein option than most meat-based meals.

Today I’d like to show you one of my favorite ways to eat an egg (or several).

This is not my very fastest, easiest egg option (more egg ideas to come), but moderately easy and fast, and uses “regular” staples you’ll probably have in your house. I think it’s a nice, supper-friendly option with the addition of potatoes.

The original recipe came from the Land O Lakes Treasury of Country Recipes, a book I’ve owned for years.recipe book

I got it when a salesman left us a sample to browse at work  (before they got all “fussy” about allowing such things at places of business), and liked it so much I later searched for and purchased a similar book in the same series for myself and another family member. Although the cookbook is still available today, I had no luck finding the recipe online by Land O Lakes. I did, however locate essentially the same recipe printed here.

Many friends have complimented my cooking and baking, but in reality I’m not one to invent too many recipes from scratch. One day I figured out that a primary reason people think I’m a good cook is because I’ve learned to recognize a good recipe. Often I tweak it to make it healthier or to use ingredients I have on hand, but I usually start by following the directions.

Since I don’t currently own an oven-proof skillet, for this recipe I use either a large ceramic pie plate, a glass casserole dish, or my deep dish stoneware baker. I usually add more potatoes than the original recipe calls for, since I like them and am often needing to use up extras before they get soft. I also use whatever cheese I have on hand that sounds good (most often shredded mexican or chedder).

So without further ado,  I present Country-Style Potato & Onion Pie.

 

slicing red potatoes

Country-Style Potato and Onion Pie

(4-6 servings; 50 minutes)

 

  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup (3 small) new red potatoes   *(I usually use more, about 4 or 5, and whatever type I currently have.)
  • 1 med. onion, sliced 1/8 “, separated into rings
  • 1 cup (or more, because cheese!), shredded Swiss cheese   *(or whatever type you’d like)
  • 1/3 cup chopped
    fresh parsley (or about 1 1/2 Tbsp. dried)   * (Try other herbs; I like to add some dill.)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 8 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 med. ripe tomato, sliced 1/4 “

 

1.  Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. In oven-proof cooking dish or skillet melt butter in oven (3 to 4 min.).

3. Add potatoes and onion. Bake, stirring once, for 15 to 20 min. or until vegetables are crisp-tender.

potatoes and onion in stoneware 2

4. Meanwhile, in small bowl stir together eggs, milk, salt, pepper, parsley (and/or other herb of choice), and shredded cheese.

5. Pour over baked potatoes and onion; arrange tomato slices on top.

6. Return to oven and continue baking for 17-22 min. or until eggs are set and lightly browned.   *(I often find it takes longer, especially if I’ve used larger quantities.)

Country-Style Potato and Onion Pie

Country-Style Potato and Onion Pie

 

I like to serve a nice, fresh salad with this meal, or possibly cut-up fresh fruit.

*****

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do, and that it makes for a few easier, more enjoyable evenings for you and your family!

Do you depend on eggs for quick and easy meals, too?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

stone well with bucket

The Well Is Deep

 

stone well with bucket

 

This morning in my Bible plan reading of the day, Oswald Chambers, author of the well-known and loved devotional, My Utmost For His Highest, talked about the story of the woman at the well.

Jesus stops along his travels at a village in Samaria, and surprises a Samaritan woman by not only speaking to her, but asking her to draw a drink of water for him from the well. (In those days, the Jewish people would not associate with the Samaritans. See verse 9.)

After questioning why he would even talk to her, the woman then says this:

   “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water?” – John 4:11 (NLT)

This well is very deep.

Hmm. Sound familiar?

Have you ever questioned God’s ability or desire to provide for your needs or guide you through a problem? I know I have. Sure, I know with my head that God can do anything, but do I truly believe it in my heart?

After seeing what seemed to be an encouraging sign that God was moving in a certain area of my life this past week, I awoke this morning to thoughts of why this possible answer wouldn’t work, because of something I didn’t have.

My husband and I still laugh about the time years ago when a student from our College & Careers group said something like, “I know God created the universe, but I don’t think he can help me with my finances.” This person was expressing in so many words what we often live out in our lives…..that we don’t actually expect God to meet our needs.

But do we realize who we are talking about?

Oswald Chambers challenges us with this:

“The thing that approaches the very limits of His power is the very thing we as disciples of Jesus ought to believe He will do. We impoverish and weaken His ministry in us the moment we forget He is almighty. The impoverishment is in us, not in Him. We will come to Jesus for Him to be our comforter or our sympathizer, but we refrain from approaching Him as our Almighty God.                                                                                                                  The reason some of us are such poor examples of Christianity is that we have failed to recognize that Christ is almighty. We have Christian attributes and experiences, but there is no abandonment or surrender to Jesus Christ.”

Wow.

So if I truly believe that he is the Almighty God, I will understand his unlimited power. And in order to truly believe, I need to not only “act like” a Christian, but I must fully surrender my life to Jesus Christ.

 

Lord, help me to surrender my whole life to you. Let me know you so well, that I can do nothing but trust you. And help me to believe that you are not only my heavenly Father and a close friend, but my Almighty God. Amen.

*****

 

 

 

snowy pine tree

One Thing I’ve Learned in (Almost) 50 Years…..

snowy pine tree

Today we got the snow that we’ve been waiting for all winter (well, some of us, at least).

We’ve only had a little snow so far this winter, and any we got has melted away within days. In fact, it’s been unseasonably warm for New England.

But today we got about six to eight inches of sticky, wet snow.

snowy branches and sky

It was fairly warm, so it clung tenaciously to the branches and rooftops, until the wind picked up and blew it around, creating a momentary blizzard effect.

As I was out shoveling along with my neighbor across the street, at one point we heard a loud crack. Looking to see what on earth was making such a noise, we caught sight of a very large limb falling out of another neighbor’s tree. Fortunately, it didn’t look like it did any damage, and I’m thankful no-one was hurt.

As I was working, I began to realize that it was the ultimate snowman-making snow.

snowy mailbox

So when my portion was complete, I first took some cold, snowy pictures, careful not to let my camera and my tablet get too wet in the process.

Then I began to build my snowman.

shoveling with snowman

My teenage son doing his share.

I still remember (and my parents have some photos or slides somewhere, I believe), my grandmother building a snowman in her front yard when she was probably in her sixties. She lived right next to us in my early childhood years, alone for many years after my grandfather died of a heart attack in his fifties, but she definitely still knew how to have fun and stay young.

Update from 09/16/16: I’m so thrilled to have been given a photo of two of my Grandma’s snowmen to share with you! Thanks to my thoughtful Mom, this 1983 photo was included in a memory box she gave to me for Christmas. In it are many photos and a few little trinkets to remind me of my dear Grandmother, who passed on this past year. Grandma would have been about 61 years of age when she built these particular “twins” in her front yard. 🙂

my grandmother's snowmen "twins"

My Grandmother’s snowmen “twins”, built with love in her front yard in 1983. Grandma was about 61 years of age.

 

snowman, snowlady

Me and my new friend.

Yes, I’m now almost fifty (only a few short months away).

 

snowlady Feb 2016

 

Yes, I had lots of “more important” things to do today.

 

home with snowlady 2-5-16

 

Yes, the neighbors may think I’m a nut.

 

snowlady close-up

Isn’t she beautiful?

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my almost fifty years of life (especially growing up in Ontario, Canada 🙂 ), it’s not to miss out on building a snowman when the snow is just right.

 

back of snowman

I think she has her arms raised in worship. 🙂

 

I don’t know about you, but I’m still learning the importance of living in the moment, enjoying this fleeting life for all it’s worth.

 

Live, Laugh, Love

 

And later in the afternoon, I glanced out the window to see a most stunning view of the late afternoon sunlight on the treetops. Grabbing my camera, my sneakers and no coat (so as not to miss the breathtaking sky), I ran outside and shivered while I took pictures, soaking in the beauty of God’s creation.

 

sunlight on treetops

home with snowy trees

golden treetop

snowy pine with pink sky

house with snow and pink sky

trees with pink sky and snow

*****

Have you ever built a snowman, as an adult, and NOT because you were helping a child? What other types of activities do you engage in to keep yourself “young” at heart?

 

 

duck swimming

Look at the Birds…

Hebrews 13:5-6

Being the “good” Christian that I am, of course I don’t love money. Besides, I’m not rich, so there’s no chance of worshiping money. I’ve got that one down.

But wait a minute: “…be satisfied with what you have” ???

That part hit me square in the nose.

You see, if I’m really honest, I have trouble with contentment. Not always; sometimes I am so happy and thankful for all of the many blessings I know that I have been given. Truly, I am. But other times…..

No matter in what financial state you find yourself, there is room for discontent. Especially when money is tight, it’s easy to feel that there isn’t enough. But if you have enough or perhaps are even rich, you may still long for more than what you have. Our human nature tends towards greed, and our culture doesn’t help. There’s always someone with a bigger, newer, nicer house, car, job, family, vacation…..the list goes on.

So why is it so difficult to remain focused on the blessings, rather than our apparent lack?

Discontent is lack of thankfulness or gratitude, to be sure, but I think sometimes it goes deeper than that. I believe that often my feelings of dissatisfaction are fueled by an inner fear that there will not be enough. How can I trust that God will provide when sometimes I feel I must do without?

There is an answer within this passage. Look at the words again. God promises to never fail us, to never leave us, so that means that we have a choice.

We can choose to trust him and have no fear. Does that mean we will never have moments of doubt, sleepless nights, and thoughts and emotions of worry? I don’t think so. We are not yet perfect.

But I believe that when we are confronted with fear, God wants us to face it, then turn and look to him. And there we find the one place where there is no fear.

It’s not always easy, but he promises to care for us.  duck swimming

 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?  Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?” – Matthew 6:25-26

 

So next time you feel dissatisfied, look deeper.

Do not worry.

Look at the birds; observe the simple trust illustrated in nature.

Keep your focus on the One in whom there is no fear.

And be satisfied.

*****

Are you prone to fear? What do you do when you feel you don’t have enough? Have you ever taken a walk or hike and found peace in observing God’s creation?