Month-by-Month Topical Bible Reading Schedule: Seeking Good in January

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I know – this is a cooking blog.

It’s true that I do a lot of cooking, but I am also a very busy wife and mama who struggles to find quiet time and has been searching for a reasonable Bible reading plan to use this new year. This will not be the year I am able to read 10 chapters a day and finish the entire book by June. This is not the year I will be able to fill out a detailed prayer journal with sketches and personal observations about the devotional I am reading. This is the year I need scriptures to read out loud to my squirmy little one in the morning and then carry, pinned to my mental cork board, throughout the day to meditate on while I wash dishes, change diapers and, of course, cook.

Well, after a couple of weeks of praying and seeking the Lord for an answer, I got an idea.

Here’s the plan. I love topical studies. Love. Love. Love. I find it an extremely efficient and absorbable way to study God’s work. I believe that the Bible interprets itself and therefore when you read about a certain topic throughout the entire book, you get a complete and pure picture of it. Does that make sense? So each month Bruin and I will be studying a different topic. Each day gets a scripture or two to read and a question to answer or think about.

Since this good gift was from the Lord, I want to make it available to you readers, maybe it will fill a need in your own life? Let me know if you have any ideas for topics for future months. Some that I thought of were Joy, Peace, Hope, Faith, Speech, Thanks, Grace… etc.

Peace to thee….

Andi

January

“Diligently Seek Good”

Theme: Proverbs 11:27 “He that diligently seeketh good procureth favor.”

Scripture Readings:

1. Genesis 1:31

2. Psalms 65:11

3. Psalms 34:8

4. Psalms 33:5

5. Psalms 37:3; Psalms 34:14

6. Psalms 54:6

7. Psalms 73:28

8.Psalms 107:9

9. Psalms 119:66

10. Psalms 119:71

11. Proverbs 2:9

12. Proverbs 12:25; Proverbs 17:22

13. Matthew 5:16

14. Matthew 5:44

15. Matthew 12:34-35

16. Luke 10:42

17. John 10:11

18. John 16:33

19. Acts 10:38

20. Romans 8:28

21. Romans 12:2

22. Romans 12:21

23. Galatians 5:22

24. Ephesians 2:10

25. Ephesians 4:29

26. Philippians 1:6

27. Philippians 4:8

28. 1 Timothy 6:12

29. James 1:12

30. James 4:17

31. 1 Peter 4:10

Questions: What is being defined as ‘good’. How is this applicable to my life? What lesson, truth, promise, warning, example is there?  Pray about the scripture and ask the Lord to open your eyes to His truth. Ask for wisdom and the grace to, through His strength, hide His word in your heart and refrain from sin. Ask for the grace to abide in Him and receive life from His word.

Additional Readings:

Psalms 86:5; Psalms 100:5; Proverbs 22:1; Matthew 25:21; Mark 9:50; Romans 3:12; Romans 12:9;

2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Timothy 1:5;  2 Timothy 2:3; Titus 2:5; Hebrews 13:9

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corn child

I heard the other day that there is now fresh sweet corn available in the area- it must truly be summer.

I grew up in ‘Corn Country’ surrounded by hundreds of acres of corn that were at least ‘knee high by the Fourth of July’. Most of what the farmers sowed each year was left to dry on the stalk. I’m not sure if it was just a rumor, but I know some people said that it was bought by cereal companies to make corn flakes. I remember scorching days when the clay the corn was planted in would split into a mosaic of cracks and crevices while the corn plants themselves would roll their leaves up tight in an effort to keep in their remaining moisture. They’d stand in their neat lines in the blazing sun while the locusts sweated on the roadsides, breathlessly waiting for rain with the rest of us. After a good, soaking sort of storm the leaves would unroll once more and the fireflies took up to dancing in between the stalks after dark.

Even though field corn was a rather common, every day and over-abundant part of life for us, there was still a little thrill of excitement and romance attached to the sweet corn harvest. Unlike the patient field corn that waits for its day to come in October, the sweet corn is a short-lived crop, needing to be harvested at just the right time and preferably eaten within hours of being picked. I think of it as one of those summer luxury foods that comes on and needs to be fully enjoyed while it can be gotten as close to the source as possible like peaches, melons and berries.

By some miracle of engineering you can now buy sweet corn in the grocery store at all times of the year, but that will never come close to being able to acquire it in season from a local provider – they’re practically two different foods! I think there is something about the local harvest that adds a sweetness and depth to the food you eat like nothing else.

One summer my brothers and I volunteered to help one of our farmer friends work the local Farmer’s Market by going out with him at 3am to harvest sweet corn to sell later that morning. “This is the way you do it, fresh as possible. It’s the right thing to do.” He was not a man of many words and the ones he did use weren’t often very shiny or complicated, but he usually meant what he said and punctuated the statements that he felt the most strongly about with the phrase, “…it’s the right thing to do…”

This is how my family and I ended up in a pitch black sweet corn field out in the middle of nowhere’s nowhere – we were doing the right thing. I have to admit that I never felt so much like a raccoon as I did that morning, slipping between the corn stalks that towered over my head, enjoying the cool of the damp darkness and the occasion bite of raw sweet corn from an ear that I picked to keep my stomach happy while we worked. The kernels burst in my mouth, each one filled with sweet, milky goodness that couldn’t be found in corn that had been grown ‘away’ and was tired from traveling across county in a truck. Sweet corn is one of those foods that likes its home and gives itself most graciously to those who are willing to make the extra effort to keep it there. The farmers and gardeners who brave the weather and soil and before dawn harvests are able to offer the best there is to their families, customers, and community.

It’s sweet corn season in Vermont and you better believe I’m going to take advantage of it! I may not be in the field at 3am picking it, but I’m sure there are some local producers who will be doing their share of ‘the right thing’… be sure to enjoy it!

yes I am this person

I got out my old calculator the other day and figured out that we spend (theoretically) $400+ a year on yogurt – alone. ALONE. That’s a ton of yogurt, but we eat it almost every day in our wicked-healthy-morning-smoothies and there is no way I am giving those up so I decided to crunch some numbers and see what it would cost to make my own yogurt each week.

I am not normally a person who likes to do math, in fact, I will go great distances to *avoid* having anything to do with numbers, but I am a sucker for saving a penny. I admit it – I love to save money. Not like, saving as in not spending it in the first place, but saving as in spending a *little* when you could have spent *a lot*. Beating the system.

Buying in bulk delights my soul, and my own mother can attest to the fact that shopping at the damaged discount food store gives me giddy goosebumps (and she might be the only person on earth who understands why). You would think I had a been set free with  unlimited credit in an upscale fashion boutique. It’s almost embarrassing – but any hesitation I might have (were I a more normal person) disappears the moment I find a slightly dented box of organic, free-range chicken broth for $.99 when I know For A Fact that the same product, undented, would cost $5. It’s all thrills and chills from there on out, my friends. No shame – only Gain.

So – knowing that about me, of course you believe that I actually sat down and figured out what it would cost me to make my own yogurt. Sometimes making things yourself is not always the cheapest way out – sometimes it is the best way in terms of *value*, but it doesn’t always cost *less*. Well, I have good news, very good news. Not only is it cheaper to make my own yogurt (saving us a whopping $250+ per annum) but I can make it fresher and simpler and I dare say Better than the store brand.

Isn’t it wonderful when you actually get rewarded for doing the right thing? Like deciding to make your own organic yogurt and being able to save a couple hundred bucks a year? It’s stinking Awesome – and that’s why I am writing this.

First – the recipe. It’s actually many recipes modge-podged together until I liked it and so far it’s worked pretty well. There’s no telling the difference between my yogurt and the expensive store brand. (So there.)

Yogurt

2 quarts of whole milk; it can be pasteurized, but skip the “ultra-pasteurized” stuff  (I know, I know – “BUT THE FAT!!!” I’m sorry, but milk fat makes good yogurt and happy people and if you scratch under the surface of all those fat labels you will find that there really isn’t that much of a difference between whole milk and 2%… go ahead and get the whole, you’ll thank me.)

1 package (1 Tablespoon) of plain, unflavored gelatin, available in the jello section of your local grocery hang-out (this is to give the yogurt more of a ‘store-bought’ texture, and to add a little protein and gelatin to the finished yogurt, both of which are really good for you.)

6-8 Tablespoons already made plain yogurt (this can be purchased at the store or saved from the last batch you made…)

A 3-4 quart pot for heating the milk

2 sterile (or really, really clean) glass quart containers with lids

a wooden spoon

a funnel (optional, but really handy!)

a candy or cheese thermometer

a small cooler or ice chest for incubating (I have an old two-person picnic cooler…)

Alrighty then. First off, dump the milk into your pot and then sprinkle the package of gelatin over the surface of the milk. Turn on the burner to medium to gently start to heat the milk. Stir the milk so that the gelatin dissolves and the milk doesn’t begin to scorch on the bottom. The milk has to reach between 100 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit, so while you are waiting (in between stirrings…) distribute the yogurt starter between the two jars. When the milk has reached temperature, gently fill the two jars – this is where the funnel comes in handy! Now stir with your wooden spoon so that everything is mixed well and comfy-like. Cap those bad boys and set them in your small cooler.

I’ve read lots of ways to do this part and have honestly only ever done one of them, but it works for me so I haven’t had any inkling to mess with it. I welcome your input and experiences – if something works even better, by all means – share it with the class!

I run hot tap water (about 110 degrees) and fill the cooler so that the jars are in a nice bath up to their shoulders. Then I put the cover on, wait 8 hours and pull them out. Into the fridge they go to set and in the morning we have fresh yogurt for breakfast. Yum.

The gelatin really makes the creamiest consistency which is even better if you wait a whole day, but we haven’t been able to wait to dip into that first jar.

And now for the numbers:

I was purchasing 2 quarts of brand-name organic yogurt a week from the store.

2 quarts= $8.00 a week x 52 weeks = $416.00 a year

Now, here are the figures for the homemade, bear with me now…

I had all of the equipment, which was a bonus

1 gallon of organic milk = $4.00  = $1.00 per quart

1 box plain gelatin (four packets) = $2.20 = $.55 per pack (roughly)

1 container start up yogurt (enough to start 6 quarts of yogurt) = $2.20 = $.40 per quart

So that is an $8.40 start up cost, but I don’t have to buy the gelatin or the starter yogurt every time…

Every quart of homemade yogurt costs me $1.58 to produce. I guess if you want to get hardcore about it (and don’t we all) you could count electricity for the stove and time and the hot water, bringing it up to a generous $2.00 a quart, which is *still* half of what I was paying.

((***It’s still worth it.***))

I know I absolutely geeked-out on this one, but I was too excited not to share.

Do you have some nerdy heart-throb of a money-saving habit you would like to share? Please do…

a ten in the bucket

I hear a lot of people talking about their bucket-list.

Well, not being one to be willingly left out of a conversation, I want to talk about it too.

It was one of the things Alex and I first discussed when we started to court last year, “What’s your list?”

I guess you can learn a lot about a person by hearing what they want to do before they die, and I also suppose that he liked whatever it was I said because he answered, “Well, I’d like to do all those things too, with you.”

*awwwwww*

I also feel like I should mention that we have pretty tightly wrapped-up my bucket list, having done most of the things that were on it in the past year. True, I didn’t have anything really crazy like “skydive over the grand canyon”, but it’s still been a wild year of incredible happenings. Skinny dipping totally, absolutely and completely included.

I’ve had to write up a new list.

Here it is.

Babe – you getting this?

 

1) Go to the West. By plane, train or automobile, it doesn’t really matter. I just want to see West.

2) Have a baby. Yup. It’s on the list and now that I have a husband, we might actually be able to make that happen. Wowsers.

3) go to hear a symphony orchestra

4) learn to make pastry

5) whale watching

6) learn archery

7) learn to fly fish

8) write a book

9) try snowboarding

10) create a home-based business that actually works

Ok, so a little odd, slightly lame, I get it – but these are the things I want to do. I actually had a hard time coming up with this list because really, before I got married my secret bucket list was simply to find someone to share every day with, and now that I have that, my list remains just as simple; Live every day, sharing it with my best friend, perfect lover and husband. What better adventure could one ask for?

How about you? What’s on your List?

Confessions of a former Wool SNOB

“Former” as in, last night.

I *am* a wool snob. I have violently hated acrylic yarn since I was fourteen years old and  was given a garbage bag full of it by a sweet neighbor who heard that I liked to knit. It was ugly and had the feel of strung-out plastic and I knit a horrible, beginner cardigan with it that sat in my closet for several years before finally being thrown away during a move. Although I was rather thankful for the yarn and the thoughtfulness of my friend at the time, I was deeply scarred by the finished “plastic bag sweater” (could you tell?) and have been a hard-core, no-going-back, dyed-in-the-wool, wool snob ever since.

I don’t like acrylic fabric in clothing. I sat on the sidelines of the world and watched in disgust as my fellow Crafters fell head-long into the fleece frenzy of several winters ago. I haunted the edges of the fabric store looking for wool- any wool – and found none. “It’s just not that popular anymore”, the attendant said, and I felt as though the libraries had suddenly decided to stop putting Charles Dickens on the shelf in favor of the Twilight series…

So, there you have it. I knit with wool. I wore a wool coat for many years and had many a wool sweater. No fleece. No acrylic. And of course our pocket books would never allow for alpaca or cashmere, so that left us with good old sheep fur.

And then, when I was about 17 years old, I realized that I was terribly allergic to wool. How did this come about, you ask? Everywhere my favorite wool jacket touched skin turned bright red and the skin grew hard and flaky and extremely painful. I had to give up wearing it.

My “disadvantage”, which honestly seemed life-threatening at first to one such as I, has saved me from becoming an opinionated, crabby, snobby old woman someday. I don’t think we are nearly thankful enough for the things in life that keep up supple, at least I’m not.  I can thank God for the best things, and I have learned to see His hand in the worst, but what about all the little things in between that seem like random annoyances or plain old ‘bad luck’? What about the things that keep a spring in our spine and save us from atrophying too soon? Gotta be thankful for those things too, yup, I do.

I started wearing fleece, which was soothing for my angry, vengeful skin, and if there is wool in anything I put on it is usually blended quite generously with acrylic or alpaca, and yes, even cashmere or silk or cotton. I had to drop the illustrious title of ‘Wool Snob’.

Things shifted, but I never stopped knitting with wool yarn and that seemed to be the saving grace – at least I didn’t have to stop knitting with wool, my hands never seemed to mind it – there was one spot I didn’t have to give up, and I treasured it. I have a modest, but lovely collection of wool yarn that I have toted across this wide land, adding to it with gifts from friends and loved ones and a scattering of clearance sales at JoAnn’s.

I love my wool yarn. I really do – it’s probably the second thing I would grab if I had to run for my life. What’s a life without knitting, right?  (And if you’re interested, having no children or pets, the first thing I would grab is probably our personal records and an emergency survival kit – how unromantic we become when we reach real life!)  Not that I could easily grab the lot and run for my life – I would probably end up succumbing to whatever godawful horror was at hand.

Then I noticed the skin on my hands hardening slightly. “Oh look,” I thought, “I have calluses from knitting!” The skin continued to harden, deep down, and then it started to ‘chip’ off when I bent them and the pain was very intense. The fingerprints and feeling dissolved into hard flakes of shiny skin,and the cuticles have disappeared from around my nails as the skin swelled and cracked around it. Yup.

I know I have sensitive skin – ok, I have extremely sensitive skin, like, can’t use handsoap sensitive – but wool yarn has never bothered my hands so I didn’t even think of it. It’s just been getting worse and worse and I’ve been clueless and knitting up a storm. So I started praying about it and last night the answer came and knocked the wind out of me.

I’m allergic to wool.

I know, I thought we already covered this ground, but I had to walk it again in order to see. I’m allergic to wool. Even my hands. The End.

Yes, I was sad. I still am a little bit, but you know what – I’m feeling kind of free today. I can’t keep any of my lovely hoarded wool yarn and my heart wouldn’t stand for selling something I have treasured that much, so it’s being given away to friends and loved ones. It’s still going to be knit into wonderful, creative things, things I couldn’t have thought up, I’m sure. And my hands are going to heal.

I’m going to buy yarn that won’t hurt me – and that’s OK. Seems so simple to everyone else, I suppose, but I’m an odd duck – never denied it – pretty dense up top and rather set in my thoughts.  And – I’m also pretty thankful. I’m thankful for the Lord giving me  the lovely yarn in the first place and I’m thankful that He is giving me the opportunity to give it away to others. I’m thankful that He works through my dense dimness. I’m thankful that He is keeping my spine lubricated and pliable. I’m thankful for His answer to my silly prayers and that my hands have a chance to heal. I’m thankful that He gave me a sweet husband who says, “Have I denied you any good thing I have the power to provide? You will get more yarn… good yarn.” I’m thankful that his estimation of ‘good yarn’ is that it be the kind that won’t hurt me. I’m thankful that he doesn’t measure my value by how dyed-in-the-wool I am, as I often do. He doesn’t care how old fashioned I am, how hard-core, as long as I am “healthy and happy and loving him”.

So – it really isn’t that tragic after all, is it?

 

ConTENplations

Ten Things I Think in Ten Minutes

1) Do I need to make bread?

2) I need to exercise, that’s what I need to do! No more bread…

3) We have that new exercise ball, I could do those sit-up things for a bit.

4) Will sit-ups make my abs *poochy*? Cuz that would stink.

5) Does it matter? They’re poochy already…duh. Oh yeah. That stinks.

6) Can I look that up on Pinterest? Of course – you can find everything on Pinterest.

7)  “Exercises for abdomen muscles”

8) I hate all this ‘Thinspiration’ crap.

9) I really really hate all this ‘thinspiration’ crap. People need to not be so obsessed with their weight – this is ridiculous!  People think they’re fat if they aren’t a size two… it’s awful.

10) OHMYWORD that bread recipe looks AWESOME… I’m going to try it.

You have 10 minutes – what are you thinking?

10 Things on Tuesday

…no, this isn’t me…

Firstly, I would like to thank you all for coming to this week’s smashing edition of 10 Things Tuesdays. We (El’Blog and I) appreciate your continued support and ardent admiration.

*cue polite applause*

10 Goals

1) To continue on with my meal planning efforts until I am actually able to do it.

As I have often heard Mr. Darcy himself say, “I WILL conquer this.”

2) Make all of our own cleaning products and be using them by the new year. And I mean ALL, people. Laundry detergent to hand wash – I wanna make it ALL. Have any good recipes to share?

3) Join the yoga class in town. Yeah, it’s not like I’ve been trying to do this for the past three months or anything…

4) Actually sell things on Etsy.

5) Learn how to put in a zipper. Oooooooooo.

6) Be less of a hermit and work on developing relationships with the people in my actual geographical location; fellow townsmen, church folk, store clerks, random citizens – face to face contacts – like a real human being.

7) Enter the Holiday Season with a PLAN. As shocking as this will be to *most* of the people who know me, I am actually planning out Christmas *now* because I don’t want to be caught unawares. I’m making lists and checking them twice, researching prices and developing a strategy. I feel so corporate. Everybody gets a card. Everybody.

8) Cut out caffeine and fried foods. ACK – the horror, THE HORROR!

9) Read more. Because I am becoming shamefully illiterate. Ugh.

10) Dance more with my husband. Because I get so fiercely involved with all my goaling that I sometimes forget to Dance. And that’s a real shame.

So there you are, speak to me.
Tell me of all your hopes and dreams and goals and how you clean an oven without that god-awful toxic spray they sell at Wal*Mart…