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!

Week One of my Zero For Six adventure is over, and here are some conclusions and confessions.

ON NON-ESSENTIAL SPENDING

I tried more than once to buy makeup and skin care, and finally settled for ordering the ingredients to make skincare at home (from Vitacost.com) and a tube of lipstick and some foundation, both Mineral Fusion. This after I trashed all my old (some 14 years old!) cosmetics and was completely out of skincare. I was using Vaseline.

When I say I tried more than once, I mean I filled my cart with some very impressive products on the Net, and then just couldn’t spend all that money, so gave it up. The next morning I drove to a department store to see if there was one of those cool specials where you spend $35 and get a promo package worth $150 of stuff you mostly want and will use. Nothing doing, plus they were blasting cruddy (non-relaxing, non-uplifting, non-melodious) music and I’m just so over going into stores where the customer is obviously not that important.

So, one of the morals of this story is that frugality can either be deprivation, or it can be an open door to creativity, often resulting in a better quality and healthier outcome. And of course, there’s that lovely smug feeling that comes of spending less and getting more. How smart are we? Pretty smart.

ON NON-FATIGUING FOODS

I dropped the ball here a little, both at The Sugar Mouse tea house on Thursday in Laramie, Wyoming, and then again Saturday night, when I made chocolate no-bake cookies (they had peanut butter, so that makes them real food, right?). But then this morning I read Honey, God’s Gift for Health and Beauty, which caused me to sweeten my blueberry muffins with honey rather than sugar, and to give my leftover no-bakes to my son, who has no belly fat and a great love for no-bakes.

From there I researched benefits of drinking vinegar and honey and went to town for organic (with the mother) apple cider vinegar. I already have raw honey, so upon finishing this post I’ll make this amazing elixir and partake!

As to coffee, I actually went to a coffee shop and ordered herbal blackberry tea, iced. Delicious! I didn’t have any coffee at all, all week long, until a very tiny cup (1/4 cup of coffee, 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream) today, telling myself that I will allow myself one cup per week. So, we’ll see how that goes.

ON WATCHING

I scored A++++++ on this one. There are so many other marvelous and fun and creative things that get done when the TV/laptop/phone is off. I love it. Yes, there were a couple of times when I wanted to watch something, but it was only when I was thinking of eating something fatiguing . . . As I’ve said before, these habits, for good or for not-so-good, go together.

It was helpful that I didn’t take a martyr’s stance, that I checked my thoughts before speaking them. I might have thought a few times that it would be nice to sit down and take a load off, watching something totally fun, such as Decoy Bride, or that it wouldn’t hurt to watch whatever John was watching. After all, it was Friday night . . . But I didn’t speak it, didn’t talk about it. Instead I settled in with a stack of books, my journal, pens, and highlighters, and read old favorites such as The Shape of a Year by Jean Hersey, and Candy Paull’s Abundance. I prayed as I read from the Psalms, and also had a couple of lovely phone conversations. Best of all, I did some some very in-depth listening to my beloveds as they shared their hearts. This simply doesn’t happen when you’re glued to the tube.

Determined not to be even a little bit tempted to watch an episode of Poirot tonight, I made a library visit and came home with Francine Rivers, Victoria Holt and of course, Agatha Christie. I was completely surprised by the ending of By the Pricking of My Thumbs, and I keep marveling at the mind of Agatha Christie, and wondering when my non-watching time will become writing time. Fiction, I mean–the writing that stretches me, calls me, eludes me, and won’t leave me alone. As my daugher Rebekah said when she was little and things didn’t go smoothly, “Oh, sigh.”

ON SPEAKING GOOD WORDS

I noticed and noted that I don’t need to worry about the negative words of others–I have plenty of my own. I read Lindsey Roberts’ free booklet, The Company You Keep and among so much rich and uplifting information, I focused on the idea of being good company to me. I really enjoy myself when nothing but faith, thanksgiving, and great expecations come out of my mouth.

And of course, what you fill your heart and mind is what comes out of your mouth, and then what becomes your life. So, maybe out of all four of my Zero For Six quests, this one of is most important of all.

Tea, Perhaps, My Dearest?

In my Zero For Six non-fatiguing foods adventure, it’s not going quite like I planned. I eliminated coffee four days ago, and until today I felt like the living dead. I suppose I was just getting all the poisons out?? Anyway, today the headache is gone and the energy is back! So glad.

Coffee will now be something I have as a very special treat, if at all. I’m so NOT against coffee–it is truly one of God’s greater ideas–but my body is protesting, and I am listening. It’s so tempting to blame everything but the real culprit–that food we love best. Diabetes? Oh, that just fell out of the sky because I was stressed. It had nothing to do with the fact that I put sugar in my coffee, sugar in my tea. I eat sugar at breakfast, lunch, dinner and any opportunity in between. And so it goes.

“I only drink one or two cups of coffee,” a friend said, holding onto her “mug” which was more like a jug. If your cup holds a pint and you drink two of those, let’s just be honest and say we drink a pot of coffee every single morning. If that quart is extra strong, light roast, filled with sugar and fake cream, you aren’t being very nice to yourself. You will, sooner or later, end up with a fatigue issue.

May I suggest that it’s time for a spot of tea?

This is another example of how good habits overlap, or sustain each other. In choosing tea instead of coffee, I am eliminating a substantial amount of money spent on the very best coffee (must be brewed in my French Press), as well as the only thing truly suitable for such coffee–organic heavy whipping cream (the non-organic has carageenan and it makes my joints hurt). Tea, on the other hand can be bought in bulk for pennies a cup, and it is perfectly fine as it is. Just a beautiful color steaming in a pretty cup.

And since it’s summer, it’s the pefect time to try iced teas such as blackberry sage black, ginger peach herbal, or just plain Lipton sun tea. Pure refreshment, and with a lemon or lime wedge on your iced glass, quite a treat.

How to be Weak

If Henri Nouwen is correct in today’s e-mailed deovtional, and he is when he states,”Joy and Resentment Cannot Coexist” and if it’s also true, and it is, that “the joy of the Lord” is our strength. then unforgivness (resentment) makes us weak.

In my current quest for positivity, my Zero For Six adventure against negativity, I am aiming for joy, for strengh. Indeed I am aiming for the acquisition of the very joy of the Lord God Himself!

How is this going? I’m stumbling here and there, and seeking my way in communicating with those who, it seems, would rather be weak. It also seems as though some people prefer resentment to joy. That is entirely their business, of course, but does that mean they have a right to inflict their negativity on me? No.

The trick is in rejecting the negative person’s negativity, but not rejecting the person. Negative people have already rejected themselves, the Word of God, perhaps even God, and they expect further rejection. This is where it is helpful to say something like, “I’m doing a Zero For Six adventure of no negativity for six months! Wanna join me?”

It is also helpful to saturate that person in prayer, whereby we get perspective on their preciousness to God. This helps counter our perspective on their aggravation to us. We need a change of heart, or at least I do. Otherwise, I will not overcome evil with good. Rather, bad company will corrupt me.

Negativity is contagious, but there is a vaccine, a sure innoculation. It’s the Mighty One–Jesus. The only time I feel those sick symptoms of negativity, that debilitating weakening of frustration, is when I hold on to an offense. I am actually choosing Death, rather than God’s mandated choice–Life. I am choosing to fearfully focus on and glorify what Satan’s crowd is up to.

We can be less than worms with fear and negativity, or more than conquerors in Christ Jesus.

“You show me the path of life. In your presence is fullness of joy…”
PSALM 16:11 (NRSV)

Zero For Six–Feeling the Freedom

So much more than time is lost to the screen, to junk TV. As we connect to the entire world we lose connections with our own hearts, and with our Creator. As we watch and see and are programmed by the creations of others, we cease to create. We are stilled. Jailed even.

The great narcotic, the false god, the black box we come before at every opportunity–that is TV. “There’s nothing worth watching,” we hear others lament, and agree. And yet we go. Just as pagans of old throwing the valuable before a dead god to no avail, so we sacrifice our very lives to TV.

That man who was called into politics–he only watches the news and rants. The child whose art was lauded and entered into the World’s Fair at age 6–she can’t wait to leave her cubicle and get home to her shows. And year after year she becomes a bit less picky about the offerings. She’s not even embarrassed that porn (call it what you will) comes into her home day after day. (Note: research reveals there is an inverse relationship between watching porn and a personally satisifying sexual relationship.)

Yes, there are Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth, Emma, Jeeves and Wooster, Fawlty Towers, and James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small. But how many times can you watch these, or Quigley Down Under, Man on Fire, and Rocky? If there’s nothing worth watching, push the “off” button. It can be done. We can just stop rewarding Hollywood by opening our pocketbooks and hearts to insulting excuses for entertainment.

Last night, May 31, was my final movie for six months, and I chose carefully. I considered You’ve Got Mail, and my visiting daughter suggested Bruce Willis’ Red, but we couldn’t find the DVDs (not paying for movies via Internet). I thought carefully. What would be worth the watch–excellent plot, casting, acting, and not a single dull moment? Oh, and one where the guy gets the girl. I chose a movie where I actually did shut my eyes (I take seriously the Bible’s admonition to guard my heart) a time or two for a moment or two. What is this paragon of a movie? Spectre.

Interestingly, given this post’s subject and matter of introspection, Spectre is about James Bond saving the world from being watched.

Could it be that when we do nothing but watch, when we never pause to think, we set the stage for our own demise?

Please consider joining me, if not on a Zero For Six TV adventure, at least on the sensationally rewarding activity of pushing the “off” button. Even if you simply sit still and do nothing, you will begin to reconnect with your marvelous self. Who knows what will happen–you may make a jailbreak!

No More Cashlessness via Carelessness–Zero For Six Plans and Procedures

Sometimes you just have to say, “Whoa there, Girlie.” When you find beauty products you don’t remember buying–they’re a few years out of date, so how could you? When you think it makes sense to gripe about food going bad in the fridge–“people” need to eat more salad, right? If your closet is stuffed with “deals” you never wear, and there are life-changing (the good doctor on the net promised and he wore a white coat) supplements galore in the back of somewhere . . . Most of all, if your beloveds think and maybe even dare to say, that you’re just a teeny bit out of balance . . . rein it in.

If you’re like me, and quite gifted at excuse-making and behavior justification, you can be your own worst enemy. You, the real and reasonable you, would rather she had the cash than all that stuff. And yet, girls will be girls, right? Wrong. Just as it goes all over me when mothers of brat sons simper, “Boys will be boys,” it goes all over me when I catch myself excusing and repeating bad behavior.

Yep. Disrespecting your cash with throwing it away on stuff, is bad behavior. And so. Here I go. I’m on vacation and thinking about those flowers . . . Those flowers I meant to buy for my balcony as soon as I returned to Colorado where surely to Goodness the snow would be over–they’ll keep. Those supplements I “always order” (as though that justifies it) I will do without, because after all, when I stop with the junk eating, they’ll be much less needed. Designer soaps (my guilty pleasure and we all must have those, right? Nope.) will still be there in six months.

When I decide that not only will I stop paying for “entertainment” that doesn’t cut it, it follows that I will return to the “real” and often cost-free entertainment I once enjoyed. I’ll take a thermos, quilt and good book to the woods and watch the sun set; hike nearby trails with whoever wants to come along, make my own mayo and bread for roast beef sandwiches (such a good feeling and outcome) for a riverside picnic, play cards and board games, re-read my watercolor book and do a little watercolor painting, get my French DVDs out again, sit on the balcony and listen to birds sing as I hold my darlin’s hand, read deep and delightful books, listen carefully and for as long as is desired, to my children and friends–undistracted by a plan to engage in substandard and dollar-devouring behaviors.

And so forth. I actually began the spending frost (a freeze means you don’t spend a single dime) in May. There was a conversation, a catalyst. I would say it opened my eyes, but actually it just royally ticked me off. But when I cooled off and thought about it, I knew, again, it was time to rein it in. (NOTE: It makes absolutely no difference what other people are spending–this is about the one in the mirror).

And it’s like magic. When I say, “It really is possible to have brunch without sparkling cider; I can cut my own bangs; no one will croak if we don’t have milk every day; we’ll have just to get creative with our cooking (such good meals happen!); and, not only am I not buying summer clothes, I’m getting rid of half of what I have,” it is nothing less than astounding what happens to the checking account.

John called me to look at the bank statement the other day. “Can this be right?” he asked. Oh, so smug am I. Nonchalantly I nodded. “Yes. That’s right.”

And so it is. Absolutely right that I, a beloved child of God, do not drive a team of runaway horses unto the disaster, despair and defeat (in countless cases, even divorce) of cashlessness via carelessness.

Thanks for allowing me to share with you, and please pass this Zero For Six adventure on to anyone who comes to mind. Anyone. You could save a marriage, actually.

Zero For Six–Calling a Spade a Spade

My four new Zero For Six adventures–Six months of zero TV viewing, faithless (negative) words, fatiguing foods, and non-essential spending–seem to feed each other, to overlap. Even as they go together negatively, so do they positively. They sustain each other you could say.

Take spending. Non-essential spending surely includes the purchase of fatiguing foods that are those most often consumed along with TV. I’m now going to add clarity by simply changing one term. In place of “non-essential” and “fatiguing” I will say “junk”. The same for “faithless” or negative and fear-filled words–I will simply call them “junk” words.

My quest to eliminate junk words will no doubt be aided by eliminating junk spending, but perhaps even more by turning off the “lowness box.” So much of TV is simply low. Even those shows based on the writing of excellent writers, must it seems, be lowered. Turned to junk, watched while eating junk, paid for of course, with junk spending. And what comes out of my mouth after I am insulted with this stuff spewing into my living room? Junk. What else?

It’s a vicious and insidious junk stew and I’ve had more than enough.

Thanks for joining me, and please share this with anyone who needs a bit (or lots and lots) of Zero For Sixing.

P.S. Watch for my next post–I’ll go into more detail on Zero For Six Junk Spending.

Zero For Six

It is time. For change. Now. And so, beginning June 1 I am embarking on four Zero for Six projects:

#1–Zero Non-Essential Spending for Six Months

#2–Zero TV Watching for Six Months

#3–Zero Fatiguing Foods for Six Months

#4–Zero Faithless Words for Six Months

I will be sharing process and progress in posts and podcasts, in hopes we will all change our lives–six months at a time. So, if this sounds interesting and intriguing to you, please share the good news, and thanks very much! And remember to take a “before” pic, as you and your life will look very different in six months, if you choose to join me in this adventure.

Tomorrow I will share my preliminary plans and procedures for implementation of this exciting next six months of my life!

You’re Not “Stuck” at Home. You’re Having the Time of Your Life, Homeschooling, That is!

The Home Front Show

Hello and welcome to all parents who are suddenly at home with their kids.  As a veteran homeschooler I have some thoughts, tips and downright excellent ideas for you.

  1.  Begin every day with “The P.J.’s of Power – a psalm, a proverb, Paul’s wisdom from something in the New Testament, and Prayer, and Praise, and then some of Jesus’ words.  If the kids are readers and awake (this is a lovely time for all of you to catch up on sleep by the way), instruct them to do the same, take notes, and let it all be done in P.J.’s!
  2. Make this something they truly enjoy, perhaps all around the table first thing, along with hot chocolate, and begin teaching table manners and conversation arts at the table.  Best of all, you are teaching them to love and enjoy God!
  3. Have all hands on deck for meals

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