Saturday, October 31, 2009

492 Years Ago


Who would have known that a note posted on the door of a church in Germany 492 years ago today would be used so my mightily by God to change the course of history? Today, we remember the faithfulness of the great reformers, like Martin Luther who sacrificed so much to bring the truth of the gospel back to the common people and so advance God's Kingdom, unto the praise of the glory of His grace!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Frugal Friday: Stay Home

We moved our little family from a big city, where I resided for nearly 12 years, out to the country, just over two months ago, and one thing we have done a lot more of since our move is stay home! We are at least 15-20 minutes from most things, and about 40 minutes from everything else. ;) Our trips for "just one thing" are practically nonexistent. "Just one thing" is not important enough to spend $5 or more in gas to get. Staying home also keeps us from eating out, and from making unnecessary purchases "just because." Since we don't go out as much, we have found many enjoyable (free or almost free) things to preoccupy ourselves with at home. Some of these include:

  • Reading more, which also leads us into interesting conversations.
  • Spend time with Ben's family, who live half a mile down the road from us. These visits often involve coffee (not for me, though; can't stand the stuff) and cookies, which brings me to my next item.
  • Baking, especially cookies. These are our favorites.
  • Playing music. Between us all there are two guitarists, two violinists, one cellist, one penny whistle player, and one flutist (that is me). We have frequent evening "jam sessions" at our place, as the boys like to call them. They have actually composed several pieces of music together.
  • Playing games. The boys have a couple games they play on the computer together; I usually stick to board games or cards, though I occasionally indulge them and join in on a computer game.
  • Cleaning. My house is generally much cleaner, now that I spend much more time there.
  • Writing. I have wanted to blog frequently for a while, and now that I am home (or at my home away from home, the family farm), it actually happens.
  • Enjoying my baby. I love getting down on the floor and playing with toys with Katie, or snuggling up with her on the sofa, or sticking her in the sling and having her snuggled up to me so we can "talk" while I go about doing things in the home. What a precious season; Katie won't be a baby forever, and what joy it brings me to be able to enjoy her at home!
For other frugal tips, visit Life as Mom.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Peek Into My Day

I had big plans for yesterday, the day I am allowing my readers to "peak into." I wrote out a to-do list on Monday night, and had even decided what picture to post first...a cute one of Katie when I went to get her up in the morning. But, 3 AM rolled around, and Katie uncharacteristically woke up to eat, and then ended up spending the rest of the morning in bed with me. Then, when the alarm went off at 6:30, I was still tired, but it woke her up...anyway, I say that to say,  my days don't always usually go according to plan.

The day officially started at 7. I nursed Katie in our bed and then we all snuggled for a while before getting up. At around 7:30, I fixed Katie some oatmeal and bananas and fed her. Ben headed out the door to do a little work before breakfast. He's able to do that because he has his shop on the family farm down the road.

After Katie ate, she played in her high chair while I fixed some breakfast. I was planning to make pumpkin bread, but I took my pureed pumpkin out of the fridge, and it had mold (YUCK!), so I defaulted to banana bread. Once the bread was in the oven, I cleaned up the kitchen and then got ready to work out. I have been trying to do the 30 Day Shred most days. Katie played with Ben while I worked out, and just about the moment I finished, the timer went off (about 9 o'clock).  The banana bread was done, so I took it out of the oven, put Katie down for a nap and took a quick shower while it cooled a bit.

Ben and I take  a couple of seminary level courses at our church on Tuesday nights, and were both behind on our reading, so we ate in the living room while trying to get caught up.  After breakfast, Ben left for work. I read a little longer, but at about 10, Katie was still fussing from when I put her down. She usually only fusses for a few minutes, so I got her up and nursed her. She has been teething, and I think she might be having a growth spurt, so I wanted to make sure she wasn't hungry. She fell asleep nursing, but woke up crying as soon as I put her in bed. I decided to leave her there for a couple minutes and see if she would go to sleep, and straighten up a little bit more.

While cleaning, I heard a really loud sound and my house shook. It made me a little nervous, as I couldn't figure out what it was. So, I scooped up Katie (who was still crying) and called Ben at the farm so he could come and check things out. He looked all around the house outside and in all the rooms and couldn't figure out what it was (still curious...). Since it didn't seem like Katie was going to sleep, I decided to come to the farm with Ben and get some things done online. I paid some bills and did some other miscellaneous tasks and finished up some of the reading for class while Katie played with her many adoring uncles and her aunt. She is learning to stand on her own, and is so pleased by the applause she receives when she does.

By that time, it was about 12:30, and Ben and I decided to head home for lunch. I just reheated some leftovers from Monday night: pinto beans, cabbage, and cornbread.

After lunch, Ben headed back to the shop, and I nursed Katie again. This time she was quite exhausted, and fell asleep and took a good nap. This gave me opportunity to get some more reading done for class, as well as straighten up the house. I put some pulled pork BBQ in my little 2 qt. crockpot to bring to church, and packed some hamburger rolls and apples to go with it. We have about 10 minutes to eat between classes, so I wanted to pack something quick, and avoid eating out.

Hannah, my 17 year old sister-in-law, watches Katie while Ben and I are at class, so I decided to go ahead and pack her bag. About that time, she woke up, so I put her in my sling and finished up.

I was sterilizing a bottle for the breastmilk I pumped for her for tonight when Ben walked in the door. We got our things together and brought her to the farm. Upon arriving, we realized we had left Katie's dinner (organic beef and vegetables) at home, so Ben drove back to the house (half a mile) while I did a quick blog post. He came back, and it was time to go, but we realized we had left the diaper bag at home (!), so Ben went back one more time and got it. I met him at the door and we headed off to class.

When we got to church, the boys helped carry some bookshelves up to the new library before class started. We are taking Biblical Law and Advanced Systematic Theology, and are really enjoying them and learning a lot. Class ended a little bit early, so we went with two of Ben's brothers to get some coffee (I had hot chocolate) at a local coffee shop. We performed there Friday night, so we get a 40% discount for the rest of the month!

When we got back to the farm, most of the family went up to watch a movie, and Ben and I played a game together. When the family came down, we spent some time chatting with them, and then headed home at about 11:15. When we got home, I nursed Katie one last time and put her down for the night. Ben was up reading, and I briefly thought about doing the same, but my sleepiness won, and thus ended my day.

Hop on over to the YLCF and you can peek into the days of several other Christian young women.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Favorite Cornbread Recipe

My husband really enjoys cornbread; it is actually one of the few quickbreads he prefers with wheat flour. ;) This is the recipe I use most frequently for our cornbread--it is sweet, and quite tasty! The original is found here, but I have tweaked it a bit for our liking.

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (we like soft white wheat the best)
2/3 cup  honey (or sugar)
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup + 3 tablespoons melted butter

1. Preheat oven to 350°F Grease 12 count muffin tin (or 8in. baking pan)
2. Combine flour, sugar, corn meal, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Combine milk, eggs, and butter in small bowl and mix well. Add to flour mixture and stir just until blended. Don't overmix; batter will be kind of lumpy.
3. Spoon batter into muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until wooden pick/knife comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from muffin tin. For an 8in. pan, bake for 35 minutes.

This post is linking to Tasty Tuesday and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Menu Plan, 10/26-11/01

It has been a while since I did a full menu plan; we've been eating with Ben's family a lot, but this week, we are planning to spend more evenings at our house. I did my first "big" grocery shopping trip in a while yesterday, and it was fun! I got a lot of good deals and am looking forward to getting back in the swing of cooking this week.

Breakfasts: Baked Oatmeal with apples (x2), Potato Bacon Pie (x2), Scrambled Eggs w/ Bacon and Toast, Pumpkin Bread (x2)

Lunches: Chicken Salad Sandwiches w/ fruit (x2), Egg Salad Sandwiches w/ carrot sticks (x2), Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Leftovers (x2)

Dinners: Pinto Beans w/ cornbread and cabbage (x2), dinner out, Chili w/ cornbread (x2), Southwest Roll-ups (x2)

As a side item, I completely forgot until late this morning that I was going to be doing a peak into my day today! So, I will have to do it tomorrow. Sorry about that!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Peak into Your Day at the YLCF

YLCF Blog Carnival

For several years, I have read the posts on Young Ladies Christian Fellowship. It has been interesting to see the writers go from singleness, to marriage, and on to motherhood. Recently, they have been doing a series which peaks into a day of the life of each of the team members, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.

Next Wednesday, they are hosting a blog carnival for readers to link up to a post of a day in their lives. I am planning to participate, so Monday evening, keep an eye out for a post about our day. Also, think about participating in this carnival yourself. I think it will be fun and encouraging to look into the lives of other Christian young women.

Super Savings Saturday: Free Nature Valley Granola Nut Clusters

I don't usually have a Super Savings Saturday post, because I don't often score super-duper deals at the grocery store, unfortunately. Yesterday, however, I saw on Money Saving Mom that Kroger was having sale on Nature Valley Granola Nut Clusters making them practically free when coupled with coupons I received from Psst... several weeks ago, so I decided to pick up a few things. My grocery trip looked like this:

-9 bags of Granola Nut Clusters (on sale 4/$10, with $4 back if you buy 4, making them $1.50/bag. I had coupons for $1.60 off)
-1 package of 40 diapers ($3.99 after coupon)
-2 deli sandwiches (we were having lunch "out")
-2 organic apples
-a loaf of bread

The total before sales and coupons was over $52.
The total after: $14

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A good day

The past couple weeks of my life have not been the most productive. I have to confess that since our move, I have had a very difficult time adjusting to Ben working away from home and being there alone with Katie. Since I was a child, I have been afraid of being home alone and someone breaking in, and since having Katie, this fear has only escalated. Because of my fear, I have spent most of my time at my in-law's farm where Ben has his shop to avoid being home alone. This has made for some pretty unproductive days (piddling around with hardly anything to do), to my shame.

Where we live, the crime rate is practically nonexistant, and the likelihood of someone trying to break into our house is low. Aside from that, though, and more importantly, the Sovereign God of the universe is our protector, and no one can get through our door without His sovereign hand ordaining it. And, if He ordained for that to happen, it would be for our good and His glory, as Scripture says (see Romans 8).

My fear is sin, a lack of trust in the omniscient, omnipotent Lord. By God's grace, I have finally started overcoming this fear, and spent all day at home today (besides coming to the farm to do some things for Ben, and now since we are eating with the family) and was hardly afraid. Home is where I belong. I am called by God to be a keeper of my home (Titus 2), and failure to do so is dishonoring to God and my husband, who works so hard to provide not only a lovely home, but the ability for me to spend my days there with Katie instead of entering the workforce. What a blessing!

Since I spent all day at home (without internet to distract me), I was able to accomplish quite a bit. It sure is nice to sit down at the end of the day having done something worth while. And, the tasks I accomplished (folidng and putting away three loads of laundry, ironing and hanging Ben's dress shirts, fixing a hot lunch, baking cookies, cleaning the kitchen, bathrooms, and our bedroom, working out, and snuggling with my sweet baby girl), while mundane in the eyes of the world, were accomplished unto the glory of God, because this is where He has placed me in this beautiful season of life.  And as a pleasant side, Katie napped really well in her crib and thoroughly enjoyed being able to crawl around and play with her toys for much of the day (my in-laws breed labs and have several in and out of the house all day, so crawling around here is not really an option). I think she enjoyed the day at home too. :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Clothesline

Since we moved out to the country, I have been hanging clothes on the line, partly because I kind of enjoy it, and partly because our dryer doesn't work. ;) In the process, I have found a few things that work for me.

~ Hang the shirts upside down. Maybe I'm the last person in the universe to figure this out, but I have found it works a lot better.

~ If I do a load and the clothes won't be dry before it gets dark, I found that I should go ahead and hang them anyway. That way, they won't get smelly in the wash. I blundered a couple of times and had to re-wash clothes.

~If I have Katie in the sling or snuggli, it is hard to bend over to pick up clothes. Since she isn't walking yet, I don't want to put her on the ground, because I'm a first time Mom and haven't gotten used to the idea of her playing in the dirt. ;) Today, I put her in her stroller and it worked out quite well. She was with me and contained, and my hands were free.
~If you are running low on pins, let the corners of the items overlap and share a clothespin.

~Iron things that need to be ironed right away. I'm used to having a dryer, so I would just pull Ben's dress shirts out before they got wrinkly. Of course, there's no way (that I have found) to keep his shirts looking sharp without ironing them. If I just iron them before I hang them up, it works well (and it actually gets done). I haven't been great with doing this, but I ought to do it every time.

~To save space on the line: hang burp cloths, hand towels, dishrags, etc. by one corner. They will dry fine. Also, I hang small things (like baby socks) in front of other items. It's a bummer to run out of space on the line and still have wet clothes, so those two things work in a pinch.

As a side note, the above pictures is not my clothesline, just for the record. I got the picture here. I was going to take a picture today of my clothesline--I love the way it looks with sweet baby clothes--but then I forgot. :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Links of interest

I have several post ideas floating around in my head (and on paper) for the near future, but today was pretty busy. I did get to work out first thing this morning (hopefully something I will do with consistency in an effort to get rid of the rest of my baby pounds), and most of the day after that was spent catching up on reading. Ben and I are taking a couple of  college level classes at our church on Tuesday evenings, and I left my books at home when I went to North Carolina last week! Anyway, for today, I will leave you with some links to peruse.

  • Amy at The Finer Things in Life has a post with several free eCookbooks. Check it out and see if any look like something you could use. I am going to check out the Hearty Crockpot Recipes and see if I can put my crock pot to use a little more frequently!
  • Speaking of crockpot recipes, the Happy Housewife did a post with pictures about cooking a whole chicken in the crockpot. This is something I do pretty frequently to stretch our grocery budget. I find I can get a whole chicken for as little as 78 cents/lb where I live.
  • Crystal at Money Saving Mom started a series today about becoming a Work-at-Home Mom. I will be following this series, and would encourage you to take a look.
 Have you found anything interesting in your "web surfing" lately?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Home again!

 Katie and I pulled in the driveway just before 3 o'clock this afternoon. We had a wonderful visit in North Carolina with my Grandparents. I have always been very close to my Grandma and it brings me such joy to see my precious baby girl (who bears my Grandma's name) with her. It was great to take a few days away and enjoy time with family, but as always, it's good to be back home (and, I really missed Ben!). Here are a few photos from the trip:


My Great Aunt June, Katie, and Grandma

Katie enjoying some Tupperware. Who needs expensive toys? :)

My happy baby showing off her adorable pearly whites! That smile melts this mama's heart.

On another note,  while I was gone, a package arrived containing something I am quite excited about. I am still figuring it all out, but hope to have a post about it next week!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Before the Throne of God Above

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea:
A great High Priest, whole name is Love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on his hands,
My name is written on his heart;
I know that while in heaven he stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because a sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God, the Just, is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.

Behold him there, the risen Lamb
My perfect, spotless righteousness
The great unchangeable I AM
The King of glory and of grace!
One in himself, I cannot die
My soul is purchased by his blood
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ, my Savior and my God

Katie and I left home this morning to visit my Grandma in North Carolina for a few days (pictures to come!). Along the way, this was one of the hymns we listened to. What a beautiful and encouraging reminder of the grace and mercy of God toward sinners like me. How important it is to take time to think on the amazing love of Christ for His elect and live a fruitful life, doing all we do for the praise of the glory of His grace.

Picture from here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Book Review: Ten P's in a Pod

One thing I love about Vision Forum is that they find and publish wonderful books from the past so Christian families today can enjoy them. One such title I recently read was Ten P's in a Pod, by Arnold Pent, III. He was the third of eight children in the Pent family. The book is taken from his journals from when he was 17-19, while the family traveled around the continent preaching the gospel and encouraging other Christians. It was originally published in 1965 and Vision Forum republished it in 2004.

The Pent family home schooled before home education was really even heard of. In Chapter 12 of the book, Dr. Pent's decision to home school is recorded. When Mrs. Pent asked why he was going to pull them out of the government schools, he replied, "...I just don't think it's right to let an atheist or non-believer have our children the best part of every day, teaching them many things that we will have to turn right around and tell them are not true."  Despite some trouble from local government, they persevered in raising their children as the Lord requires and He blessed their faithfulness.

Throughout the book, what is emphasized more than anything is the importance of reading the Bible as a family. Training their children up to serve the Lord is the most important task given Christian parents, and the fruit of Dr.and Mrs. Pent's efforts is clearly shown in the pages of the book. Once a child was able to read, they required 15 minutes of private Bible reading in the morning before breakfast. As the child got older, the required time increased until they were 13 when a full hour was required. Additionally, as a family they read for 30 minutes after each meal. The result of this effort was children who had large portions (even entire books) of the Bible memorized at early ages. One even had the entire New Testament memorized by age 20. And, these children not only memorized the Bible, but relied on God's grace to live in obedience to it.

This book was a light and enjoyable read, combining humor and seriousness. I was very encouraged by it in my efforts in raising Katie, and hope to read this book again with her in a few years when she can understand it. I would definitely recommend it and encourage you to pick up a copy from Vision Forum as soon as you're able!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Ritzy Chicken

My in-laws live just half a mile down the road from us, and we enjoy eating dinner as a family frequently. Last night, my younger sister-in-law, Hannah, and I made dinner for the whole Murch clan. We fixed Ritzy Chicken, oatmeal apple raisin muffins, and green beans. I got the recipes for Ritzy Chicken and the muffins from Crystal Paine's ebook Simply Centsible Suppers (which I love and highly recommend!). I wanted to share the Ritzy chicken recipe with you since I use it so often. It crossed my mind to take a picture, but it was eaten up before I got a chance!

Ritzy Chicken
11⁄2 rolls Ritz crackers, crushed (I use the whole wheat kind)
1 stick butter
2 cups cooked chicken, diced into bite-size pieces
1 cup chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken coup
8 oz. sour cream 

Melt butter and mix well with cracker crumbs. Place 2/3 of crushed crackers on bottom of 9x13-inch baking dish. Place chicken over crackers. Pour mixture of broth, soup, and sour cream over chicken. Sprinkle rest of crackers over top. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. 

One thing I would like to try with this recipe and others is to make the cream of chicken soup myself instead of using a can. When I cook a whole chicken, I have quite a bit of good broth, so I rarely use canned broth for this recipe, and there would certainly be enough broth to make the soup. Fresh broth, fresh raw milk from my in-law's farm, and unbleached flour would certainly make for a more healthful (and frugal) cream of chicken soup!

This post is linked up on Tasty Tuesday.

From My Heart

As you may have noticed, it has been months since I've blogged with any level of regularity. Recently, I have been thinking through what I want to do with this blog and what I have done with it in the months since I started it. What I realized when thinking on this was that just about every one of my posts included plans to be more organized, use my time more wisely, or consisted of my lamentations of a lack of these things. What was missing during these months was action. I can say all day that I want to be a better wife, a better mom, and a better homemaker, but if it's all talk and no action, I am only a hypocrite. In light of that, though some of my old posts will probably appear eventually, I am starting afresh with my blog.

I want nothing more than to serve Christ and know Him better. I want to honor Him with my life. I want to be the best wife I can to the amazing husband God has blessed me with. I want to raise my daughter up to serve Christ and be a godly example she can look up to. And when it's all said and done, I want to look back and know that my life was poured out in service to the King of kings, who so graciously redeemed me from the life I was leading and made me new. I want to stand before Him who gave it all for me having given my all for Him.

I hope to share my own struggles and triumphs, as well as helpful things I learn along the way. It is my prayer that what I say will honor Christ and be an encouragement to those who read it.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Photo taken from here.