Kitchen Pantry 2.0

My sister and I have had the goal to fully organize each room of her house for quite a while. This past week, we made great progress throughout the entire house. The kitchen pantry is an area that easily becomes cluttered, so this was the very first spot we tackled. This is what it looked like before:

pantry before

To start, we took EVERYTHING out of the pantry and put like things together – baking ingredients together, spices together, dishes together. This step often feels the most annoying, but it’s a crucial step. Putting like things together allows you to more easily see what should be eliminated and how much storage space you really need for things.

Then, one by one, we went through each pile of stuff, deciding what to throw away, what to sell/donate, what to store elsewhere, and what to keep in the pantry. Once we knew what would actually be kept in the pantry, it was easier to figure out the best spot to store each item and where we wanted to use shelves, baskets and so forth.

Here’s what the pantry looked like when we finished:

pantry after

At first glance, it may not look that different, but every shelf is much less crowded. We threw away about two trash bags full of stuff, and boxed up quite a few things for the spring garage sale. And we now have designated spots for each type of item – a place for everything and everything in its place!

Two areas that were always getting unruly were coffee/tea and our extra glass jars. We put all the coffee and tea we wanted to keep in a bin – without a lid! – now it’s neatly contained. And we put all the glass jars in a bin. Any jars that won’t fit in the bin have to be stored in the garage so the pantry doesn’t become over-run by them again. :)

By getting things organized, we were also able to make room for a new appliance, a water filtering system.

Now, I walk to the pantry and smile because I know right where to find what I need. Being organized really makes life so much more enjoyable!

What’s for dinner?

Driving home from running errands this weekend, I decided I should go to the grocery store. I didn’t have a list but I wanted to buy stuff to make a meal that would last me for several days of leftovers. I decided to just wing it and figure something out in the store.

Wanting a veggie, I settled on butternut squash, pre-cut of course – so much easier! And I wanted a protein with some other healthy but yummy ingredients. I bought some hamburger, and decided I’d try to make a stroganoff-type of sauce for it. For the sauce, I bought chicken stock, mushrooms, onions and cream.

When it came time to cook, I preheated my oven to 425. I opened my package of pre-cut squash, smiling as I thought of how I didn’t have to cut open a whole squash – not the easiest task! I melted coconut oil and brushed it on top. Next, I sprinkled on a fair amount of salt and a little bit of nutmeg. Simple.

squash roasted

I put this in the oven for about half an hour and began browning the hamburger in a skillet, adding Worcestershire and salt. I also sauteed two chopped onions and two packages of sliced mushrooms. I then added chicken stock and salt and brought it to a boil. Finally, I added a bit of cream to this.

stroganoff

The final step is to add the hamburger, and there you have a stroganoff dish of sorts. The sauce is pretty thin, but could be thickened with flour and/or sour cream. Now I won’t have to cook again for a few days – yay!

 

How Wilt Thou Do?

“If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?” (Jeremiah 12:5).

This verse convicted me this week. While I long for God to give me the desires of my heart that would give me more responsibility and greater influence, I am often weary with my current load and don’t always handle things well. But God says “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10).

My prayer is that the Lord would help me to be faithful with what is in front of me and to walk in joy and strength and consistent victory now, so that I will be ready for the greater challenges that lie ahead.

Redeeming the Time

I don’t know about you, but I’m not always great at using my time wisely. With the start of the new year, that is one of my main goals – to become more diligent and to make better use of my time. God’s Word talks about ‘redeeming the time’. Ephesians 5:15-16 says “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” And Colossians 4:5 says “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.”

What does it mean to ‘redeem the time’? The Greek word translated as ‘redeeming’ in these verses means “to buy up for one’s use” and “to make wise and sacred use of every opportunity for doing good, so that zeal and well-doing are, as it were, the purchase money by which we make the time our own”.

How often I have wasted time instead of ‘buying it up’ and using it effectively! How often I have let opportunities for doing good pass me by – things that would make my life more productive and things that would bless others. We are called to be “zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14), using our time efficiently instead of frittering it away. In this new year, my desire is to redeem the time. If I am willing to obey His Word and step out in faith, God will give me what I need to perform His will. He will bless my efforts as I remain zealous of good works. I will be amazed at how much I accomplish, and the abundance of good fruit that comes as a result. And it will then overflow, blessing the lives of others and putting a smile on God’s face – the ultimate goals of my life.

I encourage you to consider how you can be better at redeeming the time!

 

Joy Comes In The Morning

“I will extol thee, O Lord; for thou hast lifted me up…”

“…in His favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

“Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me: Lord, be thou my helper. Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.”

from Psalm 30

Merry Christmas!!!

Today marks my favorite holiday. And it looks like we are going to end up with a white Christmas here after all, yay! The holiday season is a time of hope. And there is only one place where our hope will always be safe – in Christ. Today, may we remember that He was born, that He died, and that He rose again to give us hope and eternal life. Have a blessed Christmas!

“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:13).

More of God

Recently, I was praying and telling God that I wanted more of Him. And the thought that was impressed upon me was that, to have more of God, I needed to give Him more of myself. I realized I had been thinking of receiving more of God as something totally dependent upon Him. But God wants to give us more of Himself, and so the problem isn’t that He needs to get with it already and give me more of Himself, but that I need to give Him more of me. John the Baptist said “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). The first doesn’t happen without the second.

I long to experience God’s presence in an ever-deepening way, and to have the ever-increasing fruit of His Spirit in my life – love, joy, peace, self-control, etc. And to achieve these things, I need to give God more of me.

How is this accomplished? Giving Him my time, for one. He must be my priority. I need to be willing to forego some things in order to spend time talking with Him, studying His Word and sensing His leading. How often earthly and unimportant things fill my mind and life instead of God! I must focus on heavenly things, not on things of this world. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” is a great reminder (Matthew 6:33).

Another way we give Him more of ourselves is to relinquish any areas we’ve held back from Him, any areas we’ve been reluctant to obey His Word. I usually don’t have to look very hard to find some area where I’m not completely trusting or obeying Him. Any area where there is a lack of joy, patience, gentleness, and so forth, is an area that isn’t completely full of Him. And every time I choose to submit to Him in faith and obedience, I find greater joy, greater satisfaction, greater peace, and a greater depth in my relationship with Him.

To have more of God, He first needs more of us. He’s already paid the price so that we can have full access to Him and to the storehouses of heaven. We simply have to believe this and to avail ourselves of these things!

Happy Fall, Y’all Body Scrub

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Before fall is completely over, I wanted to post the sugar scrub that my sister and I made together. Sugar makes a great exfoliant, and this one smells good enough to eat!

You’ll need:

1 1/2 cups white sugar (brown works, too)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp vitamin E oil (optional)
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (adjust as desired)
About 8 drops orange essential oil
About 8 drops vanilla essential oil

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Combine liquid ingredients in a separate bowl. Then mix everything together. Scoop into a jar and store in the shower. To use, apply to moist skin. Using your hands, a washcloth or a body puff, massage thoroughly into skin, and then rinse off to feel all soft and smooth, and to smell wonderful! Happy fall, y’all!

Homemade Pumpkin Purée

Pumpkin is one of the reasons I love fall! Decorating with pumpkins, ordering hot drinks flavored with pumpkin, and of course eating baked goods made with pumpkin. If this also describes you, I encourage you to try making homemade pumpkin purée. It’s so easy, so good for you, and makes you feel so accomplished! My sister made pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie from pumpkins she roasted, and they tasted great. So I found myself inspired. :)

I bought two small pumpkins from the grocery store. Aren’t they too cute? I almost feel bad cutting them up. But I will!

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First, cut the top and the bottom off each pumpkin. And preheat the oven to 325.

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Then, cut each pumpkin in half. Next, use a large metal spoon to scoop out the insides. I highly recommend saving them so you can roast the pumpkin seeds!

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Place pumpkin halves in a large baking dish or on a cookie sheet. My favorite little helper is pretending she is a pumpkin needing roasted. :)

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Bake for about 50 minutes or until the skin can be easily pierced with a fork. They’ll look like this:

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Next, use a spoon to scrape out the flesh or a knife to peel off the skin. I chose the spoon technique myself. Place the peeled pumpkin in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth (using a blender may require adding a little water).

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Mine turned out like purée, but sometimes roasted pumpkins can come out really watery. If so, there are two options: place pumpkin purée in a cheesecloth over a bowl and let the water drain out, or spread pumpkin purée in a large baking dish and place in oven at a low temperature for a while to let the water evaporate.

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All right, time to get baking!