Monday, November 25, 2013

An Apology and a New Direction

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I have so much I want to say, and in lots of ways I don’t know where to begin.

I want to thank all of you who have read this blog or followed me on facebook.
I want to explain some changes that are going to happen here, including the name change.

And, I want to apologize.  But I might be getting ahead of myself.  Let me start here:

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” –Luke 10:38-42

Some of you who are Christians or who grew up in the church may be familiar with the story of Martha and Mary- and for those of you who arent familiar, this passage sums up most of what you need to know about these two sisters.  Do you see yourself in either one?  A little bit of each, perhaps? 

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At this moment in my life the above passage is so instructive to my heart and my mind about where the Lord wants me to be, and who He wants me to be.  Ladies, I have been driving myself crazy over the last few years trying to be Martha.  Not being Martha, mind you, because unlike our sweet sister in the story, I am not naturally efficient, organized, or task-focused.  But I have believed, through a series of lies I have bought into, that I am supposed to be Martha.  That to be a good wife, mom, and homemaker, I need to embody a task list, I need to be the perfect home executive that I think I see in women I admire.  I need to be Mrs Walton, or Margaret Anderson, or Martha Stewart, or one of the bloggers with beautiful homes and organized lives that I so admire, or some of the Proverbs 31-type Christian women who have inspired me to want to be the best mom, wife, and homemaker I can be, but who honestly have a different history, skill set, and personality than I do.

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But what I have come to realize, at the end of the day, is that I am a Mary, not a Martha.  I want so much to be good in this role that the Lord has blessed me with and called me to, but my natural skills and abilities in this arena are actually rather limited for various reasons, and my natural inclination is more towards study, and meditation, and relationship, and dialogue.  Whats more, I am a nurturer more than team-leader, the kind of mom that’s great with a snuggle and a snack and a story time, but struggles to keep everyone’s appointments in the calendar.  I have downplayed the value of this side of me for so long thinking that what really counted was how clean my floors were, how organized my pantry was, and how delicious, nutritious, and cost-effective was my meal plan.  In addition, I have been beating myself merciless in spirit over my perceived failures: my too-often dirty corners, my unfolded laundry, my chipped paint walls and my dusty, not so fabulous d├ęcor. 

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But I feel Jesus saying no more.  I hear Him calling me back to Luke 10 over and over again to see that its not only OK that I am a Mary, but counter-intuitively to everything I have bought into, it is actually BETTER.  And Im not talking personality here, because God has clearly given many women wonderful gifts of organization, cleanliness, and decorative creativity, and He wants them to use those gifts for their good and His glory.  But that is NOT my natural personality, and while Im still obligated to do my best by his grace to have a well-run home, my first obligation is to my relationship with Him.  And second is to my relationships with those people has put in my life.  Relationship over task.   Function over form.  Love over duty.  Grace over perfection.

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And this leads me to my apology.  I am sorry if over the years in my attempt to get my own sense of value from being the picture-perfect housewife, I have added condemnation or guilt to any of you other Marthas or Marys out there- Marthas who want to get a break from their own natural tendencies towards task to sit at the feet of Jesus, and to Marys who are striving to be something they arent.  I am sorry if I have put a foot forward that has been less than honest.  Im sorry if I have used beautiful images and left out the messy ones.  Im sorry if Ive put a filter on reality.  I promise to do my best by God’s grace to this no longer.

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Instead I invite you to come with me on a new journey.  Let’s all go with Mary and pursue our roles as homemakers at the feet of Jesus.  Let’s go to Mary’s house and learn about serving our family, our neighborhoods, our church, our world with love and grace.  Let’s be real, and let’s give ourselves a break once in a while!  My hope and prayer is that from now on when you come to this page, you’ll feel encouraged, accepted, and loved right where you are at, and in no way like you aren’t doing enough.  I hope to see you all soon!

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Winner Winner, Starbucks Dinner

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Or Breakfast, Or Lunch, or anytime, really!  Congrats to T Trockwood from New York, New York on winning my Starbucks and Betty Crocker Give-Away.  Thanks so much to all of you who entered, and I hope to have another fun give-away soon!

God Bless!

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Creating a Coffee Corner

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Confession: we drink a lot of coffee up in this piece.  And since my generous hubby gifted me with a Kuerig this Christmas, we drink even more.  How into our coffee are we?  Well… check out our coffee cupboard:

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Uh-huh.  So… I was reading this super cute blog the other day and stole the idea to make a coffee corner in our kitchen near the kuerig, one where I would keep all the goodies we need for a good cup of coffee in one location.  I tried my best with what I had, et Voila:

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I didn’t take any before photos but this was part of a clean up I did of this third of the kitchen in general. 

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I used to have baking goods and my old fashioned mixer and jucier on the top shelf and the Kuerig on the bottom, with all the various boxes of coffee just sort of lazily piled beside it (hey, I have a new born… things have been more relaxed than usual lately). 

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So I swapped those pots and pans out of a covered cupboard above my countertop where I prepare food for the baking supplies, cleaned out the cupboard you saw above (it was the graveyard of plastic bags and other infrequently used bis of kitchen paraphanalia) and made it the coffee cupboard.

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Then, to make the coffee corner complete, I moved my cute little vintage sugar decanter, my creamer (which I now just fill up with half and half in the mornng and let it ride, baby… theres so much fat in that cream that it doesn’t go bad by the 3ish when we’re done drinking coffee for the day), and these nifty little white spoons that were doing nothing in my flatware drawer, over to the Kuerig shelf. 

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For a little more decoration and added pleasure, I stocked one of my white compoe dishes that was just collecting dust up high on a shelf somewhere with some random KCups that we bought in sampler packs and another compote dish with some dark chocolate squares (who doesn’t like a little dark chocolate with their coffee??). 

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In the end Im happy with the completed look, especially for a decorationally-challenged woman like me (yes I made that word up).

Now, lest I give the impression that my kitchen is this cute and organized all together,  let me zoom back and show you the bigger, less nifty, more messy picture:

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baby swing, laundry basket (our machines are in the kitchen which may not be aesthetically pleasing but they sure are practical for this busy mom of two little kids), other stuff.

And to really be brave I took a quick shot of the other corner of the kitchen…

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eeegads, lets look away again, my counters all junky.

Hope you’re having a great day, ladies!

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Monday, July 1, 2013

Starbucks and Betty Crocker Give-Away!

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Hello friends!  As some of you who are part of my facebook page know, I have recently reached 500+ friends for my Old Fashioned Housewife page and I am so excited to be back to blogging and to have made so many great bloggy friends.  I am celebrating with a give-away, and hope you’ll take advantage and sign up!

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Who doesn’t love a good cup of coffee or tea and a good read? This month’s giveaway gives you both- the complete package!  Searching for Betty Crocker is a fantastic read about the history of how marketers created Betty and how they have sustained the brand over the years. But it is by no means a dry read- it is filled with great stories and wonderful vintage photos from magazines and cook books (and of course- recipes!). It’s a great read and Im sure you’ll enjoy it.

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For full disclosure the book IS second hand… but as you can see from the profile photo I read it very gently- no marks in it or bent pages, etc. Smile

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And per many of your requests- I am adding a 20 dollar starbucks card to the give-away. Almost everyone can find something they enjoy at Starbucks, so consider this giveaway a “reading date” for one on me!

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HOW TO ENTER

As per usual, my give-aways are no strings attached.  ALL you have to do is leave a comment on this thread (NOT on my facebook page, friends, because I believe Facebook has strict rules about give-aways and Im not sure how that works) letting me know that you would like to enter the give-away, AND what country you reside in.  The give-away is open to all of my readers, but the Starbucks component is only open to Canada or US readers, and ladies I need to know which country you reside in so I can make sure to get the right Starbucks card for you.  It just so happens that we are traveling down to the New York mid-July and if I have an American winner I will buy an American Starbucks gift card.  So be sure to include that info in your comment!

I will draw and announce the winner on July 12th. 

Hope you’ll take a minute to enter, and I am looking forward to blessing one of you ladies with this give-away!  Have a great week!

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Homemade Greek Salad Dressing

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There is little quite as refreshing and yummy as a homemade Greek salad in the warm summer months.  All those fresh veggies paired with olives, feta, and a dressing with Mediterranean flavours is delish! 

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Unfortunately most of the bottled Greek dressings out there are made with low-quality soybean oils and other ingredients that arent the freshest nor the healthiest.  Its SO easy to make your own healthy, delicious homemade salad dressings, and Greek is no exception.  Here is my recipe- hope you enjoy!

Homemade Greek Salad Dressing

  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • juice of 1/4 a lemon
  • 2 T* raw honey
  • 2 T feta cheese
  • 1/2 garlic clove, diced very fine (or left whole if you are going to use a blender to mix your dressing as I do)
  • 1/4 t dried oregano
  • 1/8 t dried thyme
  • 1/8 t each salt and fresh ground black pepper (or to taste… I tend to add a little more black pepper)

*T= Tablespoon, t= teaspoon

 

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1. Assemble your ingredients.  As I have mentioned here in other salad dressing recipes, I love to do my salad dressings in a wide-mouthed mason jar so that I can use my hand-held blender to blend them.  But of course you can do this in any container you wish that will have a lid you can use to seal up your dressing to keep it fresh.

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2.  Add all of your ingredients to the mason jar…

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…enjoying the aroma of each ingredient if you can take the time to do so!  Mmm…honey!

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3. If you are using the blender, now is the time to do it.  You could also use a conventional blender to do this but my fear is you would lose a lot of the dressing along the sides of the blender and it would be difficult to retrieve it.  But these hand-held blenders are great.  If you don’t have one, just put the lid on the mason jar and shake vigorously.

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4. Behold the glory of your creamy, heavenly Greek salad dressing.

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5. Toss the dressing with your freshest Greek Salad ingredients: Romaine lettuce, cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, kalamata olives and of course- more feta! 

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Hope you enjoy this dressing.  If you have a recipe for a homemade salad dressing on your blog feel free to share the link in the comments section here or on my facebook page- I love new recipes and Im sure other readers would enjoy them, too!

Don’t forget to enter my Starbucks and Betty Crocker Give-away, winner being drawn July 12th. As always, it’s a no-strings-attached give-away, just click on the icon below and enter a comment to win!

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Proud to be linking up today with Just Another Meatless Monday at Hey Mom Whats for Dinner, Meatless Mondays at Veggie Mamma, Makin’ You Crave Monday at Mrs. Happy Homemaker, The Gathering Spot at Mamal Diane, Melt in Your Mouth Mondays at Make Ahead Meals, Healthy 2day Wednesdays at Authentic Simplicity, Whole Food Wednesdays at This Chick Cooks, Works For Me Wednesdays at We Are That Family,Full Plate Thursdays at Miz Helen’s, Share Your Cup Thursdays at Jann Olson’s, Think Tank Thursdays at Joyful Homemaking.

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Curried Chicken with Barley

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Confession: I do not like the dark meat of chicken.  I have tried every which way to cook it: roasted, braised, crock-potted, deep-fried, in soups, in tacos, in stir fries, in pasta dishes.  And no matter what I did I just could not find a way to enjoy the taste and texture of dark chicken meat.  Until now.

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Chicken legs, meet curry.

As I have shared here before, I prefer to buy whole chickens instead of boneless, skinless chicken breast because if you look closely you are usually paying the same price for two breasts as you could for an entire chicken.  Why waste that money and the rest of that bird for a little more convenience?  I was just about to give up on the leg portions of the bird and start freezing them and giving them away to a friend who likes them, when I decided to try one last flavour set: curry.  And I finally have a winner.

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Curry is most often served with Basmati rice, and for good reason as it is delicious that way.  But… Basmati rice, for all its delicious flavour, is about as nutritious as eating a bowl of sugar… no fiber and lots of refined carbs that are going nowhere but to my hips.  But- hulled barley (also called “pot barley”), which is the least refined version of the grain you can purchase, is very high in fibre and has a wonderfully nutty flavour and chewy texture that stands up wonderfully to a slow-cooked curry dish like this. 

Curried Chicken and Barley

  • 2 chicken legs, whole or in thigh/drumstick pieces
  • 1/2 cup of “hulled” or “pot” barley, rinsed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper (I used red), chopped
  • 1/3 cup cashews (optional)
  • 1/4 cup diced dried mangoes or other dried fruit (optional)
  • 1/4 cup butter or ghee
  • 1 T curry powder
  • 1/2 T garam masala (or just more curry powder if you don’t have this)
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 t ground ginger
  • 1 t sugar (optional)
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t cayenne (optional IF you like it spicy)
  • 750 ml can of diced tomatoes
  • 400 ml can of coconut milk
  • salt and pepper

1. Rinse and pat dry your chicken legs, add salt and pepper.  If you want a lower-fat curry, you can take the skins off, but in my opinion the skins add so much flavour to the dish.  I meet in the middle on fat-intake and I cook the chicken with the skin on but remove it before eating it.

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2. Prepare the spice mixture by mixing all of the above spices (except salt and pepper) in a little dish.

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3. In a large, deep saute pan or a dutch oven (you’ll need a lid for the pan), heat the butter on medium heat.  Once the butter is foamy, add the onions an red peppers.  Cook for about three minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are glassy.

4. Add the spice mixture (all of it together at once), sprinkling it evenly over the onion mixture in the pan.  Allow the heat to warm the spices through (get ready to salivate!) , stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes.

5. Add the barley to the pan, stirring, allowing the grains to be covered by the seasoning.

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6. Add your chicken legs and allow them to simmer a few minutes on each side in the seasoning/onions, so they are good and coated with that yummy stuff.

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7. Add your canned tomatoes, with their liquid.  I have listed a 750 ml can of tomatoes here, but I only add them until the chicken is not quite covered (see photo above), and thus there was a little tomato left in the can.  You can eyeball it to what looks right for your dish,  but that is about where you want the liquid level to be.

8. Using a spatula, scrap up all that oniony, spicey goodness that is probably sticking to the bottom of the pan at this point.  Bring the tomatoes just to a boil and then turn the whole thing down to quite low, about a 2-3 on the burner dial.  Cover almost completely with a lid, leaving just about an inch for steam to escape, and cook, turning the chicken legs only occasionally, for 45 minutes.

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9. Add your cashews and dried fruit if you’re using, as well as the coconut milk.  Note- once again I did not use the entire can of coconut milk.  If you notice, when coconut milk sits the thick coconut cream comes to the top of the can.  I usually scoop all of that into the pan, then add a little of the coconut water left behind, until the chick is just barely covered again. 

10.  Bring just to boil and back down to simmer on 2-3, for 20 minutes.

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11. Now you have a choice… you can serve as is and serve a piece of chicken on the plate or bowl surrounded by the curry, or you can do as I did and take the legs out, take the meat off with forks, and put the meat back into the pan and discard the bones. 

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It turned out delish, if I do say so myself, and we ate it with some warmed up naan bread and a dollop of plain yogurt as a garnish.  Chopped fresh cilantro would take the dish right over the top into culinary delight but alas… I didn’t have any on me.  Im so glad finally to have found a recipe for chicken dark meat that I actually enjoy.

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Don’t forget to enter my Starbucks and Betty Crocker Give-away, winner being drawn July 12th.  As always, it’s a no-strings-attached give-away, just click on the icon below and enter a comment to win!

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Blessings, hope to see you soon!

 

Proud to be linking up today with  Just Another Meatless Monday at Hey Mom Whats for Dinner, Meatless Mondays at Veggie Mamma, Makin’ You Crave Monday at Mrs. Happy Homemaker, The Gathering Spot at Mamal Diane, Melt in Your Mouth Mondays at Make Ahead Meals, Show Me What Ya Got at Not Just a Housewife, and Traditional Tuesdays at Delicious Obsessions,  Healthy 2day Wednesdays at Authentic Simplicity, Whole Food Wednesdays at This Chick Cooks, Works For Me Wednesdays at We Are That Family,Full Plate Thursdays at Miz Helen’s, Share Your Cup Thursdays at Jann Olson’s, Think Tank Thursdays at Joyful Homemaking.

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