Friday, November 20, 2015
It's Week 11 of my Learning to Live a Beautiful Life Series. I have planned 17 posts in this series...My goal is to end at the end of the year!
Our little blue planet has had a rough week.
As I write this post, we have been in mourning with the citizens of France. Our nation's leaders are debating compassion, prudency and privilege. We are heading into an election year and the pundits and politicians seem to be suffering from the loss of civility and common sense.
I am heartsick with the thought of so many in the world suffering. There are peoples from all walks of life who deal with such life problems that we can't even begin to understand. Not only has terror struck so viciously in France, but in smaller and poorer nations. We haven't given those souls the same kind of attention.
I can't begin to understand it all or even form an opinion about what should or shouldn't be done. I am grateful to know that I serve a God who does not require such evil acts to prove my devotion.
He just asks for my heart.
This next week will be celebrating Thanksgiving. Americans all across our land will be feasting on roasted turkey and pumpkin pie. There will be many more who will rely on the kindness of others for a warm meal or a place to lay their head. There will be children who spend their holiday with not enough to eat.
This week I am not throwing you a call to action.
What you do make a difference in our world is up to you. It is a narrow and shallow existence to think that "your mission" is the only true and just one in the world. You have to do what you feel God has called you to do.
In the meantime, let's not get caught up in the cruelness and callousness of this world. Let's live in an attitude of Grace and Thanksgiving.
This week I want us all to mindful of the blessings we have been given.
This week I am to wrap The Muffin and Josiah in extra long hugs.
I am going to stare at crisp blue skies with appreciation and drink in autumn sunsets. If it chooses to rain, I am going to snuggle up with my loved ones and enjoy a hot cup of tea from the first sip to the last gulp.
I am going to make sure to smile at everyone I pass on the street. I am going to be a polite and considerate driver and remind myself that it's not always about me.
I am going to try not to take offense...even if I feel I am justified to feel offended.
I am going to slow down and maybe make a craft or three.
When I find myself frustrated with the cares of life, I am going to thank God for His provision and Grace.
Am I setting myself for disappointment and failure?
Possibly. It's hard to walk in an attitude of gratitude and grace. But it's sure the best way to travel.
Go, my friends. Make a list of your blessings. Take deep breaths in and out. Enjoy those autumn sunsets.
It is a Beautiful Life.
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Friday, November 13, 2015
It is Week 10 of my Learning to Live a Beautiful Life.
I hope you are enjoying the glorious fall season and giving Thanks every step of the way. We have had really nice weather.
I want to talk to you today about stretching out beyond yourself.
I think we can become so absorbed with the comings and goings of our own lives that we forget about those who might need a blessing.
We also think that we have to be wealthy to give...which is such a big misconception.
The Art of Giving (I'm sure there is a book by that title somewhere) is not about doling out the cash...it is about giving what is in your hands.
If you have the cash to dole out, by all means find someone to bless.
But don't deny yourself the joy of a generous heart because you have to watch your pennies.
This week I challenge you to find someone (or someones) to bless.
First, think of a few people around you who might need extra encouragement.
I will tell you that there are a few friends in my life who have been absolute God sends. There have been times that they come through for me in ways that reached down into the worn out places in my spirit and brought me such hope!
I think there are those who have the gift of giving and encouragement. But all of us can do just a little something to brighten someone else's day.
Here are a list of no cost or inexpensive things you can do to be a blessing.
1. Send a card. We've gotten out of the habit. I love getting mail other than a bill. Don't you? Another idea is to write out a card of encouragement or "thank you" and hand deliver it.
2. Prepare a baked goodie. When I go to someone's house for the first time I usually like to bring a basket of muffins. They are easy to prepare and I can use the ingredients I have in my house.
3. Give something green. A bunch of wildflowers tied with a ribbon. How sweet is that? I personally don't have wildflowers blooming near my house, but I have taken an herb plant to a friend.
4. Do you know a shut-in or a young mother? Offer to do some housework or baby watching. I have been the recipient of both of these blessings.
5. Wrap a small candle in cellophane and make a tag..."You brighten my day."
6. Prepare a pot of soup for a sick friend.
7. Straightening up your pantry? Take some of your excess to a family in need. If you have the money buy the ingredients for a full meal.
8. Words of encouragement. We all know someone who could use a good word. Don't be stingy with your smile.
Here are a few words of advice.
Get your kids involved. They can make cards or draw pictures as a Thank You or to provide encouragement someone in need. One Christmas we had a sweet bunch of kids go through their toys to pick out a couple of extra special ones for Josiah. Some of them even made their own creations.
If you are the "giver" never make the "receiver" feel like you are doing them a favor. The Muffin and I have been on the receiving end so many times. We feel so blessed that others have thought about us. There is also some shame involved. It is hard to be a "taker."
If you do bless someone do so with a merry heart. Nobody likes to feel like an obligation.
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Thursday, November 12, 2015
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Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Surfing the Net: Science is really a lot of fun. We had a good time sitting around the table discovering interesting and important facts about the sun, constellations and even the Cold War Space Race.
What more does a guy need than a good snack and something to watch?
In the mammal lesson, Josiah used his estimating skills while guessing the weights of a blue whale, camel and a raccoon. He then wanted to find out who much the "megladon shark" in comparison to the blue whale. I told you, rabbit trails.
Another fun activity gave him a web address to search for mammals and list their unique characteristics. The web address didn't quite take us there, but we managed. I'm not sure what happened. It could have been our mad web browsing skills.
I don't know if you can read it, but under Mammal 2 Josiah wrote down a Dolphin as his mammal. He wrote "Miami" above Dolphin. His other two mammals were "Buffalo" and "Lions"....Is it coincidence that these are also sports teams? I think not.
I have to tell you that I LOVE using this product. We have had so much fun! It just has so many wonderful things to like about it. Not only is Josiah learning to research and explore via the web, but he is learning more about science in a truly interactive way.
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
The recipe I am posting today is not necessarily ooey-gooey comfort food.
In fact, it's disgustingly healthy. It was introduced to me by my Momma and is so easy to put together that my 18-year-old nephew made it for us one weekend.
I knew that this was a dish I needed to make at home.
A few weekends ago, my Dad sent me home with a huge bag of turnip greens.
And this HUGE sweet potato. It looks like a baby dinosaur is going to hatch out of that thing any minute (or at least an alien).
He had just dug up a "mess" of turnips for me and threw the whole bunch in the bag. Talk about "fast food."
Most folks have a love/hate relationship with turnips. Either you like them or you don't. I didn't like them growing up...I found maturity brought many things with it. Among them a taste for turnips and an unfortunate habit of talking to myself.
Turnip greens are extremely healthy. They help reduce inflammation, improve liver function and contain a splendid amount of antioxidants. A particular benefit of interest to me is their effectiveness in promoting cardiovascular health. They contain fiber and folate. Folate is a B vitamin. It helps prevent homocysteine build-up in the arteries.
Look at me! Talking all sciency...
Turnip greens can be found in abundance (at least in my neck of the woods) in the produce section of the grocery store.
My turnip greens came attached to the turnips so I first separated the turnips from the greens. I also served the turnips with this meal, but I am only going to share with you the chicken and greens dish.
After cutting the greens from the root, I put the greens back in the sink and filled it with water to rinse all of the dirt and any critters that might have come along for the ride.
Cutting the greens is easy. I kind of twist the whole stalk into a manageable rope and start chopping. I don't like big hunks of greens.
I put all my chopped greens in a big roaster.
Next, I chopped garlic. Let's face it. Life is better when there is garlic involved. I just sprinkled my chopped over the greens and tossed the whole mess together a little bit.
This chicken came from one of those big bag of leg quarters. I got bag for under $4 and managed to get 3 meals out of it. That is cheap eating! Don't be afraid of cutting up your own chicken. You can save a lot of money.
I put the chicken right on top of the greens and sprinkled the whole thing with salt and pepper. Then I drizzled lemon juice over the dish. Of course, I used fresh lemon juice....:<)
Normally, a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese would come next. I was out and used nutritional yeast instead. Nutritional yeast is not as strange as it sounds. It has a cheesy taste (but doesn't contain any dairy). We love to sprinkle it on our popcorn.
Now my Chicken and Greens were ready to pop in the oven. You bake them at 375 for about 45 minutes. Chicken thighs and legs take a little longer to cook. I found it helpful to go in every 15 minutes or so and kind of stir my greens around (the best I could). The chicken juice and lemon really make them yummy.
A perfect dish of Chicken and Greens. Almost perfect. I probably needed to broil the tops of the chicken just a little. I like my critters crispy!
Go eat those greens!
Monday, November 9, 2015
I love that the recipes in this book are easy to follow. Each step is numbered and helped keep Josiah on track.
A little cocoa powder never hurt anybody.
Chocolate. It makes for a happy guy.
So are his "taking a bite" skills.
I do have a confession. On this lesson day, I didn't have any taco seasoning (one of the ingredients). I usually make my own, but I found out I was out of chili powder. What? How can I consider myself a cool weather cook without chili powder?
We quickly regrouped and made a cinnamon sugar mixture.
The illustrations in Eat Your Math Homework are darling. They were done beautifully by Leeza Hernandez.
After Josiah was finished cooking his allotted number of tortillas, he started cutting them into fractions.
Such effort! I wish he would put that much effort in the pile of clean dishes. (That's one of his daily chores)
He cut tortillas into 1/4's, 1/8's...even 1/12's.
And snacking on a few along the way.
This was such an awesome lesson to demonstrate fractions. The book also contains a few more challenging activities for those kiddos who can be stretched. Josiah and his Dad enjoyed an afternoon snack. Josiah was quite impressed with himself....I was impressed, as well. It was such a fun lesson.
Ann McCallum is the author several other fun books. I am so pleased with this book...I can't wait to try more! I think this book is a wonderful addition to any homeschool room or family kitchen!
P.S. I need to tell you that there is a teacher's guide and free lesson to download on the website! Just look under the Downloadables Tab.
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