Creative and Convivial Cooking
You have have seen this already on here or on my YouTube channel, but it’s worth another reminder, I think. Enjoy!
Frugality and Fridge Therapy
Something From Nothing — $$ in the Kitchen
Save Money with Me! Groceries and Creativity.
Life is Good. Worry is bad.
I live with kind and undemanding folks, which sounds like a very good thing, right? But it can cause me to get a bit selfish and too into my own thing, which never seems to satisfy my soul. So, in my recent adventures in doing less and going my own way more, I am reminded of what I should KNOW by by: There is satisfaction in sharing, satisfaction in sacrifice.
And I am reminded of my mantra: A smart girl like you oughtta be able to figure this out. Of what am I speaking? I am speaking of the lack of shared meals happening of late at House of Parker.
We all have differing schedules, dietary preferences, and priorities–one person gets up at 3:30 a.m and is home any time between noon and 5:00; another gets off work at 11:00 p.m. The easy thing is to just say, “Who cares?”
The voice plaguing me says they don’t know or appreciate what it takes to put healthy meals on the table; it takes too much time; we’re in a new season and it doesn’t matter that much anyway. “Reason” continues: If I cook what they want it’s too hard to stay low-carb; let them cook their own–they know how.
And yes, they can and often do “cook their own” with the attendant continually messy kitchen, use of ingredients meant for other things, formation of unhealthy habits, and a general state of culinary chaos.
But that isn’t “the thing” really. The thing is that we no longer have “Table Share”. When I read a beautiful quote, or hear an amazing tale which simply must be shared for the joy and edification of all parties, for the common bond created via the ensuing good conversation, the best opportunity for doing so–while enjoying a meal–is unavailable.
What then shall a smart girl do? Give up? Sigh? Call someone and gripe (true friends share joys, not gripes)? No, she changes things here and there. She calls a family meeting first of all, enticing everyone with milk and no-bakes (chocolate oatmeal cookies cooked stovetop with plenty of butter, vanilla, salt, maybe some peanut butter and almond flavoring, and a bit more salt than called for).
In this meeting it is discerned that everyone is fine with her having more time to “do whatever” she wants, and that she should just “make herself happy”. And so . . . the hope that they will tell her what to do, how to solve this issue about which she is apparently the only one who cares, fades into more of the voices: It doesn’t matter; no one cares; you’re the only one bothered by this.
I own it. I am bothered by this, and that’s reason enough to do something about it, and I will find a solution.
So here it is: Breakfast together will be in the form of a weekend brunch; we’ll have dinner together (sort of–when it’s possible) and I will have beautiful times alone, as well as lovely times with only one of my beloveds at a time per their schedules, and on those marvelous times we’re all available, it will be all the more beautiful and lovely for the rarity.
And I will relax, and live in the unforced rhythms of grace given by my Creator. Because it always comes down to this: As smart as I am, He is smarter. He cares about what I care about, and He cares about me.
So rather than losing my creative juices via fretting, I will stop. Rest. And make my darlings happy by making myself happy. I will live each and every day without a plan or a goal, except to receive what God has for me–peace and love and joy–and pass it on. If that happens to be over a meal, so much the better.
Life is good. Worry is bad.
Homemaking–A Bit of Vintage Thinking
In listening this morning to motivational speakers talk about achieving goals, dreams, and “God’s Purpose” for my life via morning routines, vision boards, affirmations, etc., it occurs to me I may not be as far behind the curve as I’ve been believing myself to be. It also occurs to me that a bit of vintage thinking might be in order. Again. Because this voice telling me that I “can be more” is all pervasive, ever insistent, badgering, pressuring, pushing.
Surely, I reason, the great, good, gracious and giving God I serve can lead, guide, and bless me without me constantly striving, trying and doing–what the world will call success. Surely He can be trusted, and as He’s shown me over and over again, to be with me, vision board or not. What if it’s as simple as “seek ye first”? What if, as is always the case, whatever society calls success isn’t that impressive to God? Could it be that there is more fulfillment of both His dreams and mine when we–He and I–are seated together in heavenly places, far above the noise of “purpose and performance”?
Just this morning I heard a speaker talk about the great success of a woman who was 58, that was 58! years old (it’s never too old!, I was assured) and who went to college and became a school teacher. She was a mother of five and grandmother of five, but now comes the lauded “success”. No longer will her kids get to call and ask for prayer, no longer will her granddaughters invite her to have tea with their dolls. Shall I talk about boys knowing there is one place on earth that is always and absolutely perfectly safe? That would be with Granny. You can tell her anything and she’ll give you good advice right along with hugs and milk and cookies. And readalouds–like Frog and Toad and Timothy Tattercoat!
Maybe on weekends? On weekends (when they used to pick strawberries and bake bread together) Granny will be grading papers, but perhaps she’ll schedule some time, sometime. (Yes, I’m quite and very well aware of the need for such teachers as Granny will no doubt be, and also aware that she may be exactly where God wants her. It’s the attitude here I question: Now she’s doing something worthwhile.)
And here’s a thought: What if all that “purpose and dream” stuff is for those who don’t already have the highest and best and most beautiful of all purposes on earth? Yes, I’m talking about homemaking, as it’s meant to be, and with God’s help is.
Also this morning was a phone call about a friend’s daughter-in-law who’s going to leave her two little ones and go to nursing school. Yes, the husband is very well paid, but “these days it takes two incomes.” No. It doesn’t. It has been proven over and over again that there is an overall loss in monetary wealth when both the parents of small children work. As to the real costs of moms not being on the throne in the home–immeasurable.
As one of the earliest victims of modern feminism (the last of the lucky generation whose moms kept the fort) I know of what I speak. I bought this lie and the costs are still being paid. Unlike so many, however, I got a second chance. I know of the innumerable ways to save money (kids not sick all the time is a big place to begin this calculation) when you make a home by staying home, when you build your house and everyone in it, as the Queen of the Most High Place, i.e., when you’re “just” a homemaker.
This idea that we need to “get out of the house”, that homemaking is “menial and degrading” is a LIE FROM HELL.
Consider this, in one of my all-time favorites, Sixpence in Her Shoe, written by Phyllis McGinley and published in 1960: I am one of an enormous, an antique sisterhood, each of us bent on much the same ends, all of us doing our able or our fumbling best to hold the planet steady on its axis by such primitive expedients as hanging window curtains, bandaging knees, or getting meals to the table on time.”
Proverbs 14:1 — “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands.”
Zero for Six Update
In case you didn’t know, Zero for Six is about doing zero of something(s) for six months. I’ve been experimenting with four areas in this adventure: spending, diet, words, and TV.
As usual, the TV isn’t really a thing. In weeks and weeks, the only thing I’ve watched, with and at her request, was Emma with my daughter. This the Romola Garai version and in two sittings. That’s it. I’m not counting watching excellent preachers and motivational/inspirational speakers such as Jennifer L. Scott, Creflo Dollar, Benjamin Hardy, and Terri Savelle. But even these, helpful and positive as they are, can become excessive escapism. How to know: Do I go and do what they’ve inspired me to do, or do I just go on to the next video?
What to do, what to do? Read, don’t watch! Read books by these people (Madame Chic books by Jennifer L. Scott should not be missed!). Write, don’t watch! Write your morning pages, your artist’s pages, your scribbles. Until those thoughts going through your brain–up, down, and all around and all the time–are put down on paper, you’ll struggle to sort them and make sense of them. And then speak–the solution, not the problem.
Words. I’m learning that less is more. Less problem speaking, opinon spewing, and “news” spreading makes for more victory. This is a battle I refuse to lose, and I’m willing to crucify pride in the pursuit of positive, life-filled, scripturally correct speaking. I’ve given my family not only permission, but a request to call me on it, when less than helpful words come out of my mouth. So, I’m not at zero negativity, but that’s the unchanging goal.
I’ve found that what I speak about diet, or as I’ve put it in past posts, not eating fatigue-inducing foods, is helpful. I’m not only speaking that it’s easy as pie to do intermittent fasting, but that I don’t really even like sugar. At all. I’m finding that speaking that I’m simply no longer interested in less-than-healthy and delicious foods makes that so. In talking about how high the cost and how low the benefit of eating out so often turns out to be, I am cooking with greater care and more satisfying outcomes.
A most satisfying outcome of eating at home is the money savings. I do consider eating out, in many cases, to be unnecessary spending. I’m making progress here. I’ve come to the place where I pay attention to my instincts, and where my stomach doesn’t rule me.
If I have a bit of doubt, I get out! While traveling in South Dakota, (80 mph speed limits on Interstate!!!) for instance, my daughter and I stopped at a steakhouse. We went inside and the decor didn’t wow me. Way too gray and minimalist, and an attempt at authenticity via a sawdust-covered floor that didn’t impress. We gave our names to a snarky hostess and I went to the rest room. In there two women were carrying on about their husbands, and it was evident they didn’t know about positive words. They were well versed in the various and creative ways to denigate their husbands with the F word, but past that their vocabularies were limited. And so their lives.
“Let’s get out of here,” I said to Hannah. We left town, ended up at a marvelous destination in the middle of the South Dakota prairie, where we had the best night’s sleep in two weeks–The Dakota Prairie Hunting Lodge. I’d made an excellent soup the day before and it came out of the ice chest and into the microwave. We then dined on the deck where we watched the sun set, listened to innumerable critters sing their evening songs, and enjoyed the breeze along with our delicious and satisfying meal.
The next day, after leaving Mount Rushmore (soooooooooooo marvelous) we had peanut butter and honey sandwiches in the car rather than stop and spend. We made it to Fort Collins, where John met us at the car rental place. I was so ready to go on home, and to not spend any more money, but when John said, “Are you hungry,” Hannah answered with a vigorous nod and “Yes!” Off we went for a delicous and delightful meal at 3 Margaritas. Was that unnecessary spending? Not at all.
Zero For Six and Coffee? I Can’t be Serious!
I went for LaVazza Super Crema, but when I saw that the yet-untried LaVazza Gran Espresso had “notes” of cocoa and black pepper, I called my partner-in-coffee crimes, Seth. “I would be honored to try Gran Espress,” he responded. I could hear him grinning. “Notes” it would be.
The cool thing was that I could taste the cocoa, and that the black pepper was so good it made me extremely happy. Having gotten my cup first, I said to Seth, “You’re going to like this.” Sure enough. The uncool thing was that I didn’t stop with one cup, and the second one gave me a bit of a headache.
There is so much to be said for, so much to be gained from stopping with that one cup, that one serving. Savoring, enjoying, focusing on, being grateful for, that one lovely cup. More is not always better.
I don’t think I’m alone in over-endorsing the belief that, as Mary Engelbreit put it, “Too much of a good thing is wonderful.” Sometimes definitely yes, sometimes absolutely not. It’s called moderation, it’s called balance, it’s called not swinging from one extreme to the other, landing on one ditch or the other–all or nothing! I won’t have coffee for six months!
Why then, am I doing this, if I’m (obviously) doomed to failure? Because what’s obvious is not always true. I may fail now and again, but I’m still moving forward, still learning how to walk wisely in this high place of grace.
So, it’s about grace. God knows I want to do this, to take care of my health, and He knows I want to enjoy excellent French Press coffee with my son. He also knows that I need to move to a place of quality, not quantity, and believe it or not, you can learn that from coffee!
My Zero For Six adventure, as regarding coffee, is Zero consumption of fatiguing foods for six months. I never supposed I would have 100% on this quest. I am simply taking it step by step, and hoping, praying, believing He is with me.
Now We’re Cooking With Nuts!
One of the innumerable blessings of homeschooling is abounding, wonderful, and marvelous wackiness. “You do know your brother is weird, don’t you?” asked my daughter’s friend. A better description is “uniquely quirky”. It was our Creator who decided each and every one of us would be unique in all the history of the world, and in so doing, made it impossible, no matter how hard we try, for any two of us to be alike–unweird. Normal.
Exploring normal. Normal breakfasts, for starters, are too fast and too cruel (like the remarks of that little girl who didn’t take the time to know my son before mis-pronouncing who and what he was). A not so normal breakfast is eggs scrambled by you and/or your children, maybe even from your own chickens, and eaten with homemade blueberry lemon muffins–baked by you and/or your children. Forget the fake OJ. This deserves a spot of tea.
“Normal” ice cream is filled with chemicals, egg substitutes, artificial flavors and colors, fake “milk” and high fructose corn syrup. Oh, and air. And not many nuts. Not so normal ice cream is made at home with such marvels as organic heavy whipping cream and eggs, finely ground vanilla beans and maybe a bit of lavender essential oil–to be had on a Saturday morning, or for brunch, or with a first breakfast of blackberry crumble made with oats, whole grain flours, sea salt, REAL butter, honey, and walnuts.
Or make that a peach crisp with pecans with a purely vanilla ice cream. Chocolate goes well with peanuts and peanut butter topping, or try adding toasted coconut and almonds to your almond flavored dream cream. It’s up to you–you’re unique and you deserve uniqueness, or rather, nuttiness.
This sort of thing will cause your daughter to dance on the dining room chairs and your honey to show you a ballet step you never saw before. Nuts, not normal–both of them. And yay!
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