Merlot Mudpies

Can a blog be about gardening, cancer, family, food and life all at the same time? Oh good.

Snacks — The Budget Buster August 31, 2009


I once wept to my husband, “Could you PLEASE keep your cravings to something that DOESN’T cost us $11.00 a lb.??” when thwarted in the process of making pesto one night. I reached for my bag of pine nuts only to find 8 or 10 measly little kernels remaining in the bottom of what had been a huge, full Costco-sized bag the week before.

This is one of the biggest problems for me with frugal cooking and household budgeting: My husband is a rabid snacker. He willingly and appreciatively takes leftovers to work for his lunches (I only occassionally get them back uneaten and that’s usually when a hankering for rolled tacos just cannot be avoided…totally understandable!) But he is a big man, an extremely active surfer, and has a big appetite. When Ry comes home from work or surfing and when he’s up late doing freelance or 3-D modeling, he wants handy snacks that are easily accessible and he wants them in huge proportions. If I don’t have them around then things like this happen:

An entire box of granola bars disappears in one night
An entire 1.2 lbs bag of pine nuts goes missing
A large box of cereal disappears in one night
Half a bag of string cheese vaporizes when I’ve left the house for an hour

To put this in perspective, he’s about 6ft 3 or 4, wears a 3X wet suit to accommodate the breadth of his shoulders and chest, and will surf for 6 or 7 hours in the course of a day quite easily when the swell is good. He burns through calories like other people burn through….uh…well, I can’t come up with a good comparison — but something that burns quickly and people use a lot of! Anything else I can think of falls short when it comes to his appetite when it hits.

So, here are some things I already do:
Buy whatever fruit he likes that’s on sale and keep it handy as consistently as I can
To cut cost on cereal I use coupons and combine them with sales to keep cereal costs low
I also make homemade granola (TY to Mary at Owlhaven’s Granola Recipe in Family Feasts for $75 a Week) to lighten the cereal costs
Buy block cheese on sale and slice it myself so it’s easily accessible for snacks
Keep cookie dough on hand so I can easily bake up a batch of cookies on a whim

Two things that Ryan LOVES and I haven’t figured out are:
Spiced nuts
Popcorn

Microwave popcorn is expensive and not all that healthy. I make popcorn in a pot but sometimes I’m asleep when the craving hits or I’m just exhausted. Does anyone know of a way to keep popcorn fresh? Does anyone make seasoned popcorn? How does it keep?

Spiced nuts I’m going to look in to today at the store. I’d like to see about finding recipes for spiced nuts so that, when raw nuts are on sale in bulk I can buy them, season them and roast them myself, and then keep them handy to fulfill some of his needs for protein.

So what do you do for easy snacks? Do any of you have men/sons like mine with big appetites and for whom meals or leftovers won’t always do? I’d love to hear suggestions!

 

Dinner August 19, 2009

Filed under: cooking,frugal cooking,tips — Mary @ 11:14 pm

Is there honestly much tastier than a BLT?

Tonight Ryan and I feasted on BLTA’s (avocado being the addition to the mix) and they were just ridiculously good.  I felt bad about a slackerly dinner but after 3 hours in the garden with languishing tomato plants and soil needing to be turned and another 4 at the grocery store, it was all I had in me.  Ryan was gracious about it and so was the Lord because those things were delicious!  Have you ever added lemon pepper to a BLT with some avo?  I highly recommend it on a night when you’re fit for bed and not much else.

More to report on our exploints tomorrow.

 

There is a Time for Everything August 18, 2009


I have been struggling with this blog for awhile because I’m not posting with the same focus I had when I first started to write here.  When I first started this blog I was in a period of immediate, deep grief over the illness and then loss of my mom to cancer.  Along with that came the wonderful gift of gardening — something she had loved and I had just found — to carry me through some very, very hard days.  All of this poured into and fed the growth of my faith and a period of discovery about both myself and, more importantly, my God.

Solomon (not the Beetles) had his heart set in solid truth when he wrote Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:

1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

I think that this is part of why I’ve felt very unfocused in my writing here recently.  I have entered a new season of life.

This is not to say that grief is gone — I can’t think of a day that goes by without some thought or longing to be with my mom in heaven, worshipping our Creator.  Time has a way, though, of softening sharp edges and the Spirit has a way of using Christ’s redeeming power to take every sorrow and draw from it joy.  As this process has happened I have slowly shifted my focus to other needful things:  my marriage, my son, my home…

As a result, the gardening posts will likely be fewer (though I do have a new plot to sink my hands into at this late part of the growing season), my posts about my mother likely farther in between (though my life with her informs every part of life after her going home).  You’ll hear me talking dollars more than any girl who hates even thinking about money ought, and struggling through the fast-paced adventures of raising my little boy.  You’ll likely hear about a lot of apologies made to my husbad, though I hope those become fewer, too (out of peace, clearly, rather than a hardening of heart).  Cooking?  Well, I’ll never stop talking about that.  And my Savior?  As the old hymn tells us, “Lord I need thee every hour.”  And I do.

But yes, my focus has changed.  And having said just that, I feel more free to post the things I’m dealing with now.  I hope it’s interesting and helpful to you — because it’s interesting and helpful to me.  Indeed, there is a time for everything.

 

Ten Widdow Mon-teys, Yumpin’onna Bed


Today I had a blast with Eamonn.  Do you know what we were doing?  We were cleaning.

We’re in week two of no channels on the TV and a lovely thing has happened — he’s started not to miss TV.  This morning he asked me, “Mom — would you play music on the TV?”  We don’t have a stereo and my iPod really only plays through headphones or in the car.  But we have a game console that will let me stream music from my computer or play off of a CD.  So we listened to worship music while he played with Legos and I put dinner into the crock pot.  Later in the day when we got home from running various errands around town neither of us even paused at the TV as we came through the door.  Rather, we lugged a toy cubby that I’d gotten from my sister-in-law in trade for a trike Eamonn never rode into Eamonn’s room and began sorting his toys into the various cubby holes.  He loved it.

“I have a ball!  This is an instrument, Mom!  Here is another train piece!”  We sorted through his toys which were in a big jumble in his wagon and gave them all homes.  As we rifled through his things we began to find monkey from a long-forgotten barrel of monkeys and started singing the “10 Little Monkeys Jumping on a Bed” song together.  When Eamonn sings it, it goes, “10 widdow mon-teys, yumpin’onna bed…”  My heart nearly exploded with love several times and I kept thinking, “How did I miss the nuances of how much fun all of this could be?”  I’d fallen into this bad habbit of rushing through every aspect of the day and using TV to babysit while I did things quickly that, given a little more time, we could have done slowly and joyfully together while we talked and laughed and played.

I am not looking for reassurances that I’m a good mom or that everyone makes mistakes like this and gets caught up in the hurry and bustle.  I do know those things are true.  But here’s the other thing that’s true:  My hustle and bustle was a sign of some grave sin that has needed to be dealt with for quite a while now, and the Lord has gently and graciously let me see this as He’s also gently and graciously shown me some ways I could change the pattern.  I know we don’t like that word, “sin”.  But let’s call it what it is in my case.  Waste is a woeful category into which I so often and so easily fall.

The overall message that’s been ringing loud and clear in both my heart and my ears the last few months is that I have much to learn about stewardship of my time, my monetary and material resources, and the gift of a child.  This has come in various ways: realizing how much food waste was going on in my own home at my own hands without my realizing it; the natural progression from that realization to a hard look at the rest of my money flow; struggling to find time to sort these things then causing me to realize how much time waste there is, as well.  I want to learn to use my time and resources more effectively so that I am able to accommodate Eamonn’s pace rather than setting him aside in order to accommodate mine.

There are several resources I’m considering that I’d like to go through over the next few months as I work on getting some of my life in better order:

C.J. Mahaney of Sovereign Grace Ministries did a series on time management earlier this year and I guess I should have raised the white flag immediately when I starred all of the posts in my Google Reader for reading later and then could never find the time to go through them.  However, in searching around and thinking about stewardship, I was reminded that he took the entire series and compiled it in a PDF for free download.  I’ve been praying for a study to do because I’m much more consistent with my quiet times when I’m working through something and I think this may be it.

In addition, my friend Beth and I have agreed to work together on our household budgets.  Amidst kicking, moaning, a few tears and some grumbling, I’m sure, we are going to be working through Budgeting for Dummies and Managing the Money Maze.  I think it will really help to have a friend with whom I’m totally honest about our finances and who will ask me how I’m doing with the budgets my husband and I agree on as I do the same for her.

Last, a natural categorizing of my son’s activities and interests began to emerge as we sorted toys today.  He has so many different kinds of activities that he’s interested in.  Previously when they were all jumbled together I think it was hard for him to figure out what to play with or what to do with his things.  But as we sorted things (I asked for his input on how he thought we should group some of his things and was delighted with some of his decisions) a post from Owlhaven that I read just yesterday on Homeschooling with Preschoolers came to mind.  In it, Mary shared an idea for play stations for kiddos my son’s age (3-and-a-half-but-almost-4-thankyouverymuch) and even younger.  In my jumbled mental store of notes I thought, “okay, must buy different kinds of things for him to play with…oh but the money…think about it later…”  But no.  We have everything we need already between puzzles, train tracks, building blocks, activity books, and art supplies.  I just didn’t know it because it was all jumbled together.  Already ideas for how we could play together and work together through our days at home has begun to emerge and I’m really excited at the time I’m anticipating spending with him.

This seems like a long laundry list and I think I’d easily panic if not for this thought that keeps threading itself through my mind and other considerations today, “You can’t do it.  But I can make it possible.”  And I trust Him, and He will.  I want to honor my Lord and I know He will help me to do it.

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
Selah

4There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Selah

8 Come, behold the works of the LORD,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Selah

 

Humorous Happenstance August 16, 2009

Filed under: rambling thoughts — Mary @ 10:54 pm

I am giggling a little bit right now and I don’t know that anyone else cares really but…

I have a new friend whose name I kept forgetting until we realized my first and middle name were here first and middle in reverse.  I am Mary Catherine and she is Katherine Mary.  That helped.  Then, today at church, she approached me about my boss’ wife who raised 7 children while hosting a home church plant in France with her husband in the 70s and 80s.  In that conversation I thought of two articles I wanted to send to her by two different bloggers.  It dawned on me tonight that their names are our names:  Mary and Katherine.

See?  No big deal.  But I had a laugh.

 

Shelter is Not a Place, It’s a Relationship


I had not heard of Raising Five until tonight but I’m so glad I found it (HT Owlhaven).  Katherine wrote awhile back about sheltering our children vs. giving them freedom as they grow and uses her own growing up as an example.  I hope you find the article as encouraging and insightful as I did.

 

Holy Bodies, Renewed Minds

Filed under: christianity,Faith,grace,hope,learning — Mary @ 9:50 pm

My boss recently had the opportunity to preach at my church.  He wrote a new series for us focused on Romans 12:1-2:

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

I love my boss and his wife anyway but these past two Sundays with him at the pulpit I was reminded how very privileged I am to work under two people who love God so passionately, believe his word so truly, and live their lives accordingly.  That is not to say they try to look perfect — they are real and therefore compassionate and insightful people as well.

You can access the sermons by clicking these links:  Holy Bodies, Transformed Minds.

 

 
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