Friday, November 30

"What Do You Want For Christmas?"

Tomorrow we will turn the calendar to December...and the rush will be upon us! Are you ready?
Plan now to be proactive with your little ones and get them into the magic of giving! They are going to be bombarded by others asking them what they WANT for Christmas. Encourage your children to include in their reply what they are going to GIVE for Christmas. Make that your conversation around home. By three years old, your child can work with you on preparing a list of what each family member might like. Include your children in picking out items at the store. The best gifts however, are the gifts that you and your child MAKE for everyone on your list. So as you turn the calendar to December, plan a day to bake cookies with your littles ones and deliver some to your neighbors. Pick a day to make simple bookmarks for the readers in your family. Grandmas and Grandpas would love artwork of any kind from their grandchildren. So before your calendar fills up with December's busyness, set some days aside to focus on giving, and let your children experience the blessing that comes to those who give.

Thursday, November 29

Preschool Christmas Pageant Finger Play

Yesterday I offered up an idea for your husband for Christmas. Today you might want to consider working with your preschoolers on this Christmas Finger Play. What a great thing to teach them and a fun activity to show the family on Christmas Day!

This is kind Joseph (hold up one finger)

And this is sweet Mary; (hold up two fingers)

She rides and he walks on their Bethlehem journey (move hand bobbling along!)

Here is the inn- (hands form pointed roof)

Joseph knocks on the door; (knocking action)

But the innkeeper says, "No room for more!" (shake head)

"Because you are tired and 'tis late in the day

You may go to the stable (point to far-off stable)

And rest on clean hay. (rest head on hands)

'Twas there in the stable that first Christmas morn, (hands form pointed roof)

Jesus, our Savior, God's best gift, was born. (rocking baby motion)

Wednesday, November 28

The 12 days of Christmas husband-style

We quickly move from Thanksgiving to Christmas, don't we?

One of my fellow Homemakers has started a yearly tradition that includes the 12 days of Christmas. She comes up with 12 gifts and gives one to her husband each day for 12 days.

I shared this idea with some other friends and now they do the same thing for their husbands. Some buy 1 gift, 2 gifts, 3 gifts etc., some just buy 1 for each day.

I think this definitely reveals how well you know your husband - what he likes, what makes him feel special and appreciated. And it is a challenge to come up with 12 ideas that are economical, yet fun!

The idea is NOT to spend a lot of money. Things like socks, homemade treats, a book or CD....whatever will let him know he is loved and thought of!

I'd love to hear if anyone decides to try this for their husband. Let us know how it turns out!

Tuesday, November 27

Movie Review!

Last Saturday night Stacy and Ryan came over to celebrate a belated Thanksgiving with us. I would share the recipe I served them, but Stacy is eliminating 'wheat' from her diet, so it was a cabbage hotdish (no pasta allowed!). Email me if you really want the recipe!

Stacy recommended we watch The Ultimate Gift DVD. I had heard Chuck Colsom sing its praises too, so I rented it for the evening. Now I am highly recomending it to you! I don't claim to be a savvy movie critic, but I know when I am entertained as well as inspired and this movie did both!
"Perhaps predictable, sentimental and sappy, but who cares, when it also oh so effectively delivers the salient message that much is expected of those fortunate enough to have been born blessed with so much."... a quote from EURWeb's review on Rotten Tomatoes.

What a great way to start the Christmas season.

Monday, November 26

I'm tired

My husband Ryan and I enjoyed a long and incredibly relaxing Thanksgiving weekend. I hope you all did as well.

But here we are on the Monday following and as I sit down to write this all I can think is, "I am so tired." How is that possible when I just had four days of resting?

I think it is called life:
I got up at 6:30 this morning and was at the dentist by 8. I went to work where I stayed until 4. I left to meet a friend who is going through a divorce and is in the midst of a custody battle for his children. It is a heart-wrenching situation. I got home at 7:30 and ate dinner. Then I cleaned the bathroom, vacuumed, did the dishes and folded clothes. I just wrote out some thank you notes and it is 10:20 p.m.

I am tired.

Why am I telling you all this? Not because I want sympathy for a long day -- because I know that for some of you your day started earlier and will end later and involved children who needed your attention and energy all day...and that's tiring.

I share this simply because this is life. This is the life of a Homemaker. We work (be it inside or outside the home) and the work never ends. Sometimes we get a break. Sometimes we don't.

This is the reality of life as a Homemaker. When we have a home, we are Homemakers.

And just having come off of Thanksgiving, I am reminding myself tonight that I am THANKFUL for bathrooms to clean, dishes to wash and laundry to fold...even when I'm tired.

Friday, November 23

Post Script to Thanksgiving!

Hello, anyone out there? Are you all shopping? As you head out for Black Friday's specials, here a quote to take along with you:

"When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?"

G.K. Chesterton

Take a bit of Thanksgiving with you as you begin the Christmas rush!

Wednesday, November 21

Thanksgiving and Kids!

It's about this time when your kids are probably demanding some answers! "What's in this for me?" If you have been busy cooking, cleaning, or shopping they are bound to feel some stress themselves. Kids have a hard time with Thanksgiving because it is just a 'big dinner'. Every dinner is big to them, so what's the big deal about this one? That's when, once again, mom needs to come to the rescue. Remember:
Never plan a holiday or celebration without your children's help!
Have your 2-4 year old tear pictures from a magazine of things they are thankful for. Make a big collage and hang on their bedroom door

Let your 3-4 year old help make a special veggie dip to take to Grandma's. Let them stir parsley into an already made dip if nothing else. They can chop cucumbers, olives and pickles with a dull knife!

Your 4-6 year old can color a picture for the relatives..."I love my aunt because..." These can be shared at dinner.

Offer to bring 'place cards' to Grandma's that your kids have created.

Just get the kids involved in some way so they will know what is in it for them...they are giving of themselves.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Tuesday, November 20

Giving Thanks

We are Homemakers.

With that comes many joys and many challenges. This week lets remember to thank God for the opportunity we have to be Homemakers!

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1

Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. 1 Chronicles 16:8

Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. 1 Chronicles 29:13

I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High. Psalm 7:17

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4

Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 106:1

Monday, November 19

Thanksgiving Week...a Time to Prepare

Are you preparing the turkey this year?

Are you preparing the pies?

Are you preparing your house for your family to come and celebrate?

Are you preparing your heart for Thanksgiving?

When our kids were young, I would have them think of something they were thankful for and we would share it around the table before we devoured our dinner. I would put 3 pieces of corn (I used corn nuts!) on each plate as a meager appetizer and as we went around the table, each person would share what they were thankful for. They could eat the corn as they shared a blessing. It worked fine for many years but was often just 'last minute thoughts'.
I realized we were forgetting so many blessings that we had experienced during the year. That's when I started using the "Blessing Basket". A pretty basket sits by my back door all year long and as I experience different blessings, I write them on a small piece of paper and drop it in the basket. At our Thanksgiving dinner, the basket is brought to the table and is passed around. Every one reads a blessing from the year and this continues around the table until all the notes have been read. Anyone can drop a blessing into the basket during the year. It is fun to hear what everyone is grateful for and to remember forgotten blessings that would have gone unnoticed if they weren't written down.

Gratitude Journals, Thanksgiving Prayers, Tablecloths that are written on every year that tell of family blessings...these are just a few ways to prepare your heart for Thanksgiving Day. How are you preparing your heart?

Friday, November 16

How Do You Read A Book?

That question came up at our Homemakers meeting on Monday! Curious, huh?! We are trying to each read a book of our choice every month and then share a short synopsis at our meeting. This month we were sidetracked by one gal who had 'post-it' notes coming out every which way from her book. She obviously liked her book. She explained that there was a'system to her notes'. The notes sticking out of the top of her book meant she needed to go back and 'do' something that was suggested on each page. The notes sticking out of the side of her book reminded her that she needed to re-read or remember some portion of that page and the notes coming out of the bottom of her book were on pages that had some information she wanted to share with her husband. How clever! Now that is truly getting the most out of reading.
I often will turn down the corners of the pages I read if there is something important on that page that I want to review. When I am done with the book, I go back and copy the important points from those pages onto the extra pages in the front and/or back of the book. I can easily refer to my 'cliff notes' that way when I am sharing about the book to a friend or for my own refresher.
Are you a reader? Any hints you can share about your reading habits. If you aren't a reader, maybe these tips will help. Grab a good book and enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, November 15

A Thanksgiving Choice

Most things written about Thanksgiving have to do with food, recipes, table decorations, family traditions, and so on.

Martha Stewart shows us how to prepare our homes and tables with Thanksgiving decor.

Rachael Ray tells us how to prepare the best side dishes.

And everywhere ads tell us to prepare our wallets for shopping the day after Thanksgiving.

Today I want to talk about preparing our hearts for Thanksgiving. I got an e-mail from a friend today who is struggling to have a heart of thankfulness this Thanksgiving season. She is going through some tough stuff, has some hard questions and is in a place she doesn't understand right now. She said "I don't feel as thankful as I should."

I love her honesty! Isn't that true of all of us? If we have a roof over our heads and food on a plate, we have so much to thank God for. Yet sometimes our circumstances are so all-consuming that it is difficult to see our blessings.

Are you approaching a holiday that is difficult for you? Are you struggling to have an attitude of gratitude?

Maybe finances are extra tight.
Maybe you are barely surviving a broken relationship.
Maybe your heart hurts every day when you wake up.
Maybe you are missing a loved one.
Maybe you are angry at God and feel like life isn't fair.
Maybe your family is in desperate need of restoration.

As difficult as it can be, make the choice to praise God for the ways in which He has blessed you. Choose to see the small blessings. Choose to thank God for the little things in your life. If nothing else, get on your knees and thank God for who He is.

It might not be the natural or easy thing to do, but it is a choice you won't regret!

Wednesday, November 14

Our First Thanksgiving...the rest of the story!

Our 'Homemakers with Hope's' first Thanksgiving was so special to me in so many ways. It was a night for just girls and we all seemed to appreciate all the work that Betsy put into the evening. As we sat around the table after we had eaten everything in sight, she shared a few tips about baking her 'first turkey' dinner.
'Preparation was the key', she said. She said she had to plan ahead, make lists and make all the details come together. She purchased a large roaster to accomodate the turkey and used it as a buffet server during our meal. She justified buying it because it was on sale and it was an item she would use for many years to come. (I applaud her for seeing the big picture and investing in her homemaking skills!) She said she learned that she needed to allow more time for the 'bird' to thaw out.
I share these comments with you, knowing you can get full instructions about putting on a Thanksgiving feast from many sites on the internet...but what you get on Homemakers with Hope is the 'rest of the story'.
Betsy prepared this huge 'spread' for us, complete with place cards, candles, pumpkin centerpieces, a gift for each of us and so much more. We were distracted as we entered however, because her husband was lying on the kitchen floor surrounded by a turkey carcass in the trash, potatoes boiling on the stove, and gravy waiting to be thicken. Betsy quickly explained that both the disposal and dishwasher was inoperable! Dinner sort of stood still as her husband wrestled with the tools. All of us girls worked around his body trying to get our contribution to the dinner in the oven, in the frig, or wherever it needed to go. At one point I stood aside and looked at all the commotion, only to marvel at how everything was coming together inspite of the blips along the way. Betsy's relaxed mental attitude was the key. She was busy getting us hot apple cider and encouraging us to put our food out on the buffet table.
She was modeling for each of us the difference between hospitality and entertainment. Sure, she provided entertainment for us as her husband laid on the kitchen floor and she stepped over him to make the gravy and mash the potatoes, but her first thought was to be hospitable. To welcome us into her home and make us feel so loved. I bet the first Thanksgiving had many interruptions and unmet expectations too. Our Homemakers 'First Thanksgiving' will be memorable BECAUSE of the interruptions and the lessons we learned from our hostess.

Tuesday, November 13

A Homemakers Thanksgiving

Last night we had our first ever Homemakers Thanksgiving Dinner! It was fantastic. Hopefully I can post pictures later this week.

Our hostess welcomed us with a gift at our place setting. We each received the book I Promise by Gary Smalley. She said it is one of the best books her and her husband have ever read. I am excited to start reading it with my husband!

Our hostess made the turkey and potatoes and the rest of us each brought our favorite Thanksgiving dish to share. I brought Green Bean Casserole. My recipe is a twist on an old favorite (no cream of mushroom soup!).

Grandma’s Green Bean Casserole (from
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 4 (14.5 ounce) cans French style green beans, drained
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 large can of French Fried Onions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sautée until soft and clear. Stir in flour until smooth, and cook for one minute. Stir in the salt, sugar and sour cream.
  3. Remove from heat and add green beans, and stir to coat.
  4. Add one cup of cheese and once cup of French Fried Onions to green bean mixture.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. Spread rest of shredded cheese over the top.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the top is golden and cheese is bubbly. Add onions and bake for 5 more minutes. Best when it is really hot and bubbly!

Please share your favorite Thanksgiving recipe with us. We love to try new recipes!

Friday, November 9

A Dinner Challenge

I am throwing out a challenge to all of you today.

I'm starting with a question:
How many nights a week do you eat dinner at your dining room or kitchen table? Whether you are single, married, have a small children or teenagers, on average how many nights a week do you eat together at the table?

In this busy world our schedules seem to not allow for family dinner. Sports, evening commitments, work...whatever it might be, it seems our tendency is to eat on the run. Serve food in shifts. Go through the drive through. Or, sit in the front of the tv and be entertained by the tube.

Research by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA)* at Columbia University consistently finds that the more often children eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs.

I haven't read this book yet, but I am going to put it on my reading list:
The Surprising Power of Family Meals: How Eating Together Makes Us Smarter, Stronger, Healthier, and Happier.

Family dinners can become a tradition. The time at the table talking, sharing, laughing, and eating home-cooked food will impact the heart and the mind of all family members.

This challenge is one that I need to take on. Ryan and I are lucky if we eat dinner together three times a week....and maybe once at the dinner table. We often turn on the television and laugh our way through dinner while we eat on separate couches. Eating dinner at the table together isn't a habit that we will be able to easily pass onto our children if we don't start it now. Dinner is a great chance to connect. A perfect opportunity to check in. An ideal way to build those healthy habits we are always talking about.

If you aren't convinced yet, read this article: Why Your Family Needs to Eat Dinner Together. It offers five great reasons why eating together is essential to your family.

So I challenge you for the next two weeks - from now through Thanksgiving - eat dinner together as often as you can. Even if it is paper plates and grilled cheese sandwiches...serve it up with a smile, laugh and share at the dinner table, and see how it impacts your household!

Who's up for the challenge?

Thursday, November 8

Whatever you do...

I once heard a woman say, "The choice about what to eat for dinner cannot be made at 3 p.m." Oh those words are so true!

Just like everything else in life, when it comes to meal planning, we need to PLAN ahead. Time is short, energy may be lacking, the day might be busy....and 3 p.m. is no time to look in the freezer or pantry and wonder "what's for dinner?"

Flylady has some great tips on food and meal preparation. Maybe you are a crock pot girl. Maybe you are a pre-prepared frozen meal gal. Maybe you stick to quick-n-easy meals. Whatever your preference, find a system that works for you and your family.

But whatever you do, be intentional about what you eat, when you eat, and where you eat. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

While it may not seem like a ministry, the hours you spend in your kitchen are most certainly hours that God will bless because you are blessing your family. You are caring for your flock. You are peeling, cutting, washing, frying, cooking, basting, broiling, baking, grilling, serving...all to the glory of God.

Wednesday, November 7

My Menu-Planning System...for now!

How long have I been cooking meals and I am still on the hunt for the 'perfect system'? Someday I hope to find that perfect system, but in the meantime, I enjoy trying new techniques to make my meal-planning easier. I used to use a big calendar for planning my meals and record what I would serve daily. My frustration was that often I wasn't home to cook what was on the calendar or we had leftovers that I wanted to use up. It left me with a calendar of good 'ideas' but uncooked meals. Often I would re-copy the menu onto the next week in hopes of using those recipes then.
My new system consists of a 4x6 recipe card that I fill out at the beginning of the week with meals that I could make for the up-coming week if my days went according to plan! I paperclip this card to the bottom of my calendar. If some meals need fresh ingredients to make that dinner, I write that on my grocery list as well as on the 4x6 card. As the week unfolds, I look at the card to see what my choices are to cook. (I usually try to include 2 easy dinners, a harder one, a new recipe to try, and fill in the rest with old stand-bys). After each meal I write on the calendar what I made. Recording my menus after the fact allows me flexibility yet gives me direction. Last night we had leftover lasagne from Monday night's meal. Tonight I can choose a meal from my 'card' according to how my day looks. At the start of a new week, I look back on my card to see what I didn't make and transfer those choices to a new card for the new week if I still want to make that dinner. I toss the old card and can look back at the calendar as a reference to what we actually ate and can plan accordingly for the future. My calendar is accurate without any changes and I am in control of planning my meals around my family life.

Women aren't in the kitchen as long any more to have time to plan and prepare an exact meal everyday. Be wise and keep that in mind as you think about setting up new systems.

Keep evaluating your present systems. Are they working for you? If not, go for plan B. There are so many ideas to be shared, pick a plan that works for you and your family. Try it out and see if life doesn't get abit easier.

Tuesday, November 6

Lovin' my recipes

I love recipes.

I really really love them.

Really, I do.

I look up recipes weekly on my favorite web site:

I clip recipes from magazines. I get them from friends. I love trying NEW recipes and especially those recommended from friends.

But my recipes have always been overflowing....out of my binders, recipe containers,
cupboard, etc.

This past month I've taken on the Homemakers Recipe Organizing Challenge and am loving it!

I have assembled two 3-ring binders. One for main dishes (chicken and beef) along with side dishes and desserts. My other has soups/salads, breakfast/bread, appetizers, sandwiches, and snacks/drinks.

I am typing up an index so I can easily read through all my recipe options. I want to make a hospitality section so I can see quick options for having people over or bringing a meal to someone.

My husband and I created a list of 10 meals that he can make: 5 quick and easy (tacos, grilled cheese, spaghetti) and 5 that take a bit more time (Tater tot hot dish, lasagna, stir-fry). That way he always has a few ideas of meals to make when I'm not home.

This has been SO rewarding.

Anyone want to join in on the challenge? Can we help?

Monday, November 5

Love Those Recipes!

Don't you just love looking at recipes? I have talked with more women who read recipe books before they fall asleep at night!? I haven't got the itch to do that, but my mind does gear up for cooking as the weather gets cooler. Right now I am in the process of organizing my recipes! No small feat. Homemakers with Hope has taken this task on as homework this month, so maybe you would like to join the fun! It is an on-going task, but I have become abit more proficient with practice. Can I pass on a few tips in case you get the bug to organize your recipes before the holidays are upon you?

1. I have 2 big binders for all recipes that I love. The first has A-L category of foods (Appetizers, breads, cakes, cookies, dessert++) The second has M-Z (Meat, Seafood,Vegetarian++)

2. I have a small portable file box for all recipes that I would like to try some day, or recipes I have tasted, just not made. They are in files with the same categories as my binders.

As I try a recipe from my portable file and my family likes it, I transfer it to my binder as a 'keeper! If they don't like it or I didn't like making it, I throw it away.

One tip that has been so helpful to me over the years is that I have a master list of dinner ideas at the front of the first binder in a plastic sleeve. When I am stumped as to what to make, I flip to this list to jog my memory. I recently updated that list as well.

I also have a section for recipes to 'make and take' when I am asked to take a meal to a sick friend or a new mom...I turn to those recipes so I am not agonizing over what to make and if it will turn out.

Lots to share! Have any of you used the software that is available for organizing your recipes? That is intriquing to me. Please jump in here and share what works for you!

Friday, November 2

A Homemakers resume

As a Homemaker your resume might include tasks like:
Menu planner
Carpool queen
Laundry stain getter-outter
Finance guru
Garage sale/clearance seeker

I heard recently of a family who hires a "professional" to clean their home, to do their shopping and to plan all their family activities. The mom asks this professional "What do you have scheduled for my family to do this weekend?"

Can you imagine???

I would venture to say that life is too busy if you have to hire someone to plan your family activities and do ALL the home duties that come with living life.

Many of the duties of a Homemaker are mundane. Some of them are fun and creative. And while the resume of a Homemaker doesn't come with a high monetary salary, it's an invaluable position.

So whether you are single and running your own home, a newlywed setting up your first home or a mom with years of Homemaking experience, remember that the opportunity to be a Homemaker is a gift.

Praise God for our Homemaking boots!

Thursday, November 1

A gentle reminder

Above my kitchen sink I have a easel that is designed to hold 4 x 6 photos. Instead of having photos in it I have typed up verses that gently remind me of my role as a Homemaker.

Some of the verses are as follows:
Proverbs 14:1
The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

Psalm 101:2
I will walk in my house with a blameless heart.

Proverbs 31:17
She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.

The last one about working vigorously is such a great reminder when I am weary (emotionally or physically) from my day and I don't feel like cooking or cleaning or doing any other homemaking tasks. I pray for the right attitude and that my arms would be strong for washing dishes or doing laundry.

These verses gently remind me that I cannot succeed as a Homemaker on my own, but only through the power of the Holy Spirit.