breakfast, devotions, clutter, hope

Hope and Peace Amidst the Chaos

I sure love Christmas and the holiday season! I keep wanting to write fun posts about “Christmasy” things, but lately I have been drawn to write about the more “serious” side of things, like finding peace in this busy, festive season.

I’ll try to be brief, but in this morning’s quiet time I gleaned some truths I’d love to share. Because I know I’m not the only one who tends towards feelings of overwhelm and stress during this time of year.

breakfast, devotions, clutter, hope

Do these photos look anything like parts of your home this time of year?

It’s hard to keep up, let alone have any sort of balance in our lives. In my first picture, I like how my Bible and “quiet time” materials are in the foreground (as they should be), and if you look carefully, you’ll see that there is “hope” in the background. Putting our focus on what matters will give us a sense of hope.

my cluttered kitchen

I’ve always loved the Christmas holiday and am tempted to “do it all”. (You can read about that here in my very first post ever.)

For today, allow me to just share a little bit of the devotional idea in this morning’s reading.

My husband really knows me, so when I awoke to his “Jesus Calling” devotional lying open on top of my computer, I took the hint that he wanted me to take a look at today’s reading.

I am so glad I did!

Today’s reading began with,

“Do not be weighed down by the clutter in your life”,

which immediately had my full attention in the middle of my holiday “chaos”.

The author then continued with some very practical, yet spiritual advice:

“Instead of trying to do all your chores at once, choose the ones that need to be done today. Let the rest slip into the background of your mind so I can be in the forefront of your awareness.”

(The readings are written from the perspective of God speaking to us.)

What simple, yet profound advice for all!

If you are a Christ-follower this is especially meaningful, but how practical for anyone to focus only on what’s in front of us, giving that our full attention. I need to hear this at Christmas and other times of busyness, but also each day as I endeavor to use my time with intention, and infuse it with meaning.

The author encourages us to keep our focus on Christ, which is always the best advice, but especially meaningful during the season designed to remember his first coming.

If you’ve never read this devotional, I highly recommend it. My husband is enjoying it’s brief, yet meaningful daily readings. Each time I hear it, it has been an encouragement to me as well.

(No wonder it’s rated at about 4.9 on Amazon’s reviews! Click on the image for more information.)

 

I’ll close with the very appropriate scripture passages suggested for today’s reading:

 

“Commit your actions to the Lord,

    and your plans will succeed.” – Proverbs 16:3

***

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously,

and he will give you everything you need.” – Matthew 6:33

***

My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”

    And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” – Psalm 27:8

***

“You will keep in perfect peace
    all who trust in you,
    all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”- Isaiah 26:3

(All scriptures are presented in the New Living Translation.)

 

peace decoration on door

I pray that these thoughts and verses will be an encouragement to you as well. Let’s intentionally use each day and each moment this Christmas to focus on what really matters.

 

Have a wonderful day!

*****

 

poached egg sandwich and coffee

How to Eat an Egg Part 2 – Poached Egg Sandwich

poached egg sandwich and coffee

 

It’s been awhile since I talked about eggs. Earlier I shared with you  an egg recipe for Potato and Onion Pie that I like to make for my family. I think it’s about time for another.

Since it is finally really, really feeling like spring (or even summer in some cases!), and I think we’re safe even in New England (and New York State?), from any more late snowstorm surprises, I’ve decided it’s a good time to give you another egg recipe.

I know, we get eggs year round, but in spring it just feels right. The chickens are finally able to come out of their coop and poke around in the real outdoor world. Easter may be long past, but I keep seeing bunnies all over our yard, and that makes me think of eggs. (Really? You know; Easter chicks and bunnies; whatever.)

Anyway, unless you have a high cholesterol problem and have to avoid too many eggs, or have an aversion to them as I did for the first part of my childhood (when I would beg for a hamburger every time my family went out for breakfast), I think we can all agree that having eggs on hand is one of the simplest, quickest, cheapest and most filling meals we can get on the table. We can enjoy them at breakfast, as a simple lunch ingredient, or even for “breakfast” at dinner.

I often make this meal idea when I’ve either neglected to eat enough for breakfast and it’s quickly approaching lunch-time, or when all else fails and I need something substantial for my noon-time meal. Sometimes I just plain feel like eating eggs.

So today I’d like to introduce the poached egg sandwich.

poached egg sandwich

Poached egg sandwich with tomato, greens and cheese on whole wheat toast.

 

Poached egg sandwich with avocado 2015-09-18

Poached egg sandwich with spinach, avocado and cheese on whole wheat toast.

Just to note, if you prefer a fried or scrambled egg, that could work nicely as well, but then you will be consuming a little more fat in your sandwich, but more importantly, you’ll have to change the name.

Several years ago I “invested” (a whole three dollars or so, I think), in this plastic, microwave egg poacher at Walmart:

Microwave egg poacher from WalMart

You can get one almost exactly like it here on Amazon….or if you prefer silicone with the option of cooking in boiling water, check out this model.

I know that some are avoiding plastic these days, so there are other options, too. My parents used to have little metal cups to be used for this purpose in boiling water. I’m not sure they’re around any more, or perhaps they still come in some pots and pans sets. I’ve even seen a stoneware version made by one of my favorite direct marketing companies, which I assume is also for use in the microwave.

You can, of course, use the “authentic” egg poaching method of dropping the raw egg directly into swirling, boiling water as described on this page. There’s a nice video presentation, and the gentleman doing the demonstration just happens to have a lovely accent, which I find quite pleasant. In fact, I may have to try this, as it certainly is the ideal way to make a nice, runny-yolked, poached egg.

Which ever method you choose, simply poach your egg (or eggs), to your liking.

adding salt to egg uncooked poached egg

Before I close my egg poacher, I usually add a pinch of sea or Himalayan salt, a little fresh ground pepper (here’s a nice set with both), and sometimes garlic, dill or another seasoning of choice.

seasoning on raw egg

My favorite addition to my poached egg to add flavor, nice color and most importantly, nutrition, is greens. A little spinach is nice, micro-greens are incredible (if you can get your hands on some), or a little of any green you have on hand will work. You may chop it up if the leaves are especially large or of a tougher texture (like kale).

Add your greens to the top of each egg.

spinach on raw egg

 

Top with a little shredded cheese if you’d like. (Yum!)

Meanwhile, prepare your bread. Almost any type of bread will do, but most often I use an English muffin or bagel. A roll would be nice, a croissant exquisite,or a nice, thick slice of homemade bread would be comforting. Apparently in the photos I took for this post, both times I used just regular whole grain wheat bread from the store, and it still turns out a delicious egg sandwich.

Toast your bread while the egg(s) cook.

Once everything is done, carefully put your egg on top of your bread of choice.

making poached egg sandwich

At this point, you may top with additional fresh greens or lettuce and tomato, and add a slice of cheese (if you did not add shredded to your egg cooker). You could also add your seasoning at this point, rather than to the uncooked egg, if you prefer.

Fresh herbs are a nice option, too, and my husband and sons would probably go for a little hot sauce or even ketchup (although I prefer mine ketchup-less).

You could even go one step further and add a slice of cooked bacon or ham for a more hearty sandwich. (Why do I think the guys would like this idea?)

Another really nice topping is avocado, which also significantly boosts the health factor.

Poached egg sandwich with avocado 2015-09-18

Poached egg sandwich with spinach, avocado and cheese on whole wheat toast.

You may top the egg with a second piece of bread and eat by hand like a sandwich (think “healthy egg mcmuffin”), or do as I usually do and eat with only one piece of bread and serve open-faced.

Now your healthy, colorful egg sandwich is complete.

Go ahead and eat.

poached egg sandwich (partially eaten).

And think about chickens…..or spring…..or bunnies…..or spring chickens (which I am not, since a rather significant birthday is quickly approaching for me).

And please don’t forget to tell me how you liked it!

*****

Have you ever made a poached egg sandwich? How do you prefer to poach your eggs? When it comes to toppings, are you more of a greens, tomato and avocado person, or would you prefer bacon, cheese, or a nice slab of meat?

 

 

 

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 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.

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 the same day 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?