Monday, November 29, 2010

Who is teaching your children?

Love the insight in this article. We have been discussing this for a long time and it's one of the biggest reasons we don't have regular tv in our house. We have no cable, no antenna, no dish. We get no channels. What we watch is very very limited in the form of movies. Since breaking away from the whole movie, tv, and hollywood scene we are so much more sensitive to the garbage and worldly messages prevalent in just about every movie, tv show and commercial. It's really sickening the things people think are entertaining these days and willingly and without much thought sit down and watch each night and week. Even more so when we see and hear that families watch those shows with their children. It's disheartening the sin we laugh at in those same shows. What are you watching? Is it edifying to the soul? Would God laugh at what you are laughing at. In Christ there IS much freedom, but as Paul said, "all things are permissable for me, but not all things are profitable."

The Battle of the Teachers

"Recent data indicates that, on average, children in the United States spend approximately three hours a day watching television. This invited 'guest' into our homes has the potential to significantly shape our children's development."

That statement was issued this September by the Federal Communications Commission. It seems insightful. But its split infinitive is not the only split in officially stated FCC policy. For the federal government's concerns about shaping children are by no means a match for what should be the concerns of Christian parents.

The split occurs between the FCC's opening statement and its ensuing policy on how the significant shaping should be done. For the only answer the feds have is "to offer educational and informational children's programming."

Time to draw your Ephesians sword. It is time to split.

There are two pressing questions: 1) What "educational and informational programming" is suitable? 2) Who decides what "educational and informational programming" is suitable?

Answering those questions should lead Christian parents to other questions. To start with, "What TV shows, if any, should kids be allowed to watch?"

The FCC and the networks have been wrangling over "educational programming" for years. But that conflict has been merely about what can be considered "educational." So in a way, it doesn't really matter who wins the debate. Either way, Christians lose.
Christians need to listen to someone besides the government or the entertainment industry. What neither of those entities admits is that all TV programs are educational.

Every program that children (or adults) watch influences their thinking. That's because every one of them is created by people. All people have beliefs, which they use in the shows they produce. They can't help it.

That's why the Bible tells us things like "test the spirits" and "be careful" and "test everything."

Being educational isn't bad. The problem lies in the ideas being taught. That's why many Christians (like me) keep their TV sets turned off most of the time. So many TV programs are ungodly and shameful--because the beliefs of the people who make them are ungodly and shameful.

Without Christ, no one understands education or truth either one.
God's word tells parents to make sure their kids learn to live for the Lord. And God's word tells parents to teach them how to do it. The government and the networks aren't Christian parents. The wrong people are trying to teach your kids how to think and what to think.

The Bible doesn't say, "Don't watch TV." The Bible does say, "Don't be deceived." The Bible does say, "Don't be foolish." God wants your kids to know the truth. The world doesn't have it.

"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith," says 1 Corinthians 16:13.

"Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray" (1 John 3:7).

There are only two kinds of education. Watch out for the wrong kind.

-- Norm Bomer

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Seven things you can do with your family this Thanksgiving

Got this in an email from Vision Forum. Great ideas. First and foremost, thank God for his many constant blessings and common grace. If you are a Christian thank him for his special grace that regenerated your heart and made you His.

Seven Things to Do With Your Family This Thanksgiving

Many of my happiest memories as a young man, and now as the head of my own household, come from Thanksgiving. Traditionally, Thanksgiving has been a day where our dearest loved ones gather around the table and feast, followed by a time of poetry reading, Scripture recitations, song, more feasting, and family story-telling. But more than anything, Thanksgiving has come to be a time when we focus as a family on gratitude. It is a time to humble ourselves in the face of God’s great mercy and to chronicle the providences and blessings of God in our life. One of the blessings for which we are most grateful is you — the many friends of Vision Forum. So this year, the Phillips family wants to begin our Thanksgiving Celebration by sharing seven simple recommendations for your own day of thanksgiving.

1. Stop and Thank God from the Bottom of Your Heart and the Depths of Your Soul

O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. —Psalm 95:1-6

If you were to spend every waking moment of every day for the rest of your life noting God’s goodness, you would never begin to chronicle all the things for which you should thank the Lord. His blessings are innumerable. But on this day, take time to chronicle much. Get very specific. Thank the Lord for all things: Thank him for your provision, and the protection He has given to you all year. Thank Him for the pains and sorrows that are driving you closer to Him. Thank Him for the problems you have, and thank Him for all the horrors from which you have been spared. Thank Him for your parents, your children, and your loved ones. Thank Him for the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun. Thank Him for those friends who love you and whom you love. Thank Him for the opportunities He has given to you. Thank Him for the mentors in your life. Thank Him for the sweet seasons and the beautiful memories He has given to you. Thank Him for His Church and His Word. But, most of all, thank Him for Jesus Christ. Because of Christ, you can be forgiven of sins, reconciled to the Father, and have the promise of eternal life.

2. Share the Greatest Stories of the Pilgrim Fathers and God's Providence

Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.—Deuteronomy 32:7

Thanksgiving Day is a time for quizzes and story-telling. A great place to begin is by dedicating time to recount the rich historical evidence of the providence of God in the life of this nation through the story of the Mayflower Pilgrims. From their humble beginnings as a cadre of faithful friends and devoted Christians meeting in Scrooby, England, to their visionary leadership and perseverance in the New World at Plymouth Plantation, these faithful Separatists left one of the greatest legacies in the history of the New Testament Church. Yet most American Christians know little to nothing of the true story of these indefatigable men and women of God. This Thanksgiving, remedy the problem by telling their story. If you don’t have any of the many books on the Pilgrims available from Vision Forum, do a little online research. Visit the website of Pilgrim Hall Museum, for example. Share the stories of the friendship of William Bradford and William Brewster; of the persecution of the Scrooby Congregation; of the hardship and perseverance of the families on board the Mayflower; of the first Sabbath at Pulpit Rock;of the importance of the Church covenant; and of the long first winter in America. Tell how God used a young Indian boy named Squanto to save the colonists, and share the story of the peace treaty between the Pilgrims and Chief Massasoit which lasted fifty years. Make sure to read the farewell letter of pastor John Robinson to his congregation. Have your children join in the story-telling. Make sure to emphasize the faithfulness and providence of the Lord.

3. Read the Fourth Chapter from Of Plymouth Plantation Aloud to Your Family

Last and not least, they cherished a great hope and inward zeal of laying good foundations, or at least making some ways toward it, for the propagation and advance of the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in the remote parts of the world, even though they should be but stepping stones to others in the performance of so great a work.—William Bradford

If you only read from one book outside the Bible this Thanksgiving, make it Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford. And if you only have time for one chapter, make sure it is the fourth. It is in this chapter that we learn about the true reasons why these home-schooling pilgrims debated over whether or not they should risk their lives to go to America, the ultimate reasons for their departure (including concern over bad peer influences with their children), and their tremendous confidence in God. Most importantly, it is here that you read of Bradford’s multi-generational vision of victory. Note: From the approximately fifty survivors of the first winter, more than 30 million descendants have come.

4. Take a Pilgrimage to the Homes of the Pilgrims — From Your Living Room

Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.—Proverbs 22:28

We are losing our landmarks to liberty in our nation. As I documented in my article,“Plymouth Crock”, we are even desecrating the landmarks to our Pilgrim fathers. This is one reason why I believe it is so important that we physically bring our children to the great Ebenezers of our freedom while they yet remain. Finally, after more than a decade leading families to Plymouth, home of the Pilgrim fathers, I was able to take 100 Americans this year on a journey to Scrooby, England, and the little manor house where the Pilgrim congregation was birthed. What a journey! Please let me share it with you by watching the video which I have posted on my blog. Then learn about the little eight-hundred-year-old manor house that changed the world in my article, “A Pilgrimage to Scrooby”.

5. Read George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation at the Dinner Table

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to “recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness. Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.—George Washington

The practice of setting aside days of prayer, days of fasting and humiliation before the Lord, and days of thanksgiving for the mercies of Jesus Christ was practiced by our Pilgrim and Puritan fathers, promoted by our legislatures and Congress, and honored by our presidents. On this national day of Thanksgiving, let’s remember that we do not honor a “turkey day,” but the God of Heaven who George Washington described in his Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789, as “the great Lord and Ruler of Nations.” I recommend that you print off the proclamation and read it before your dinner meal.

6. Tell the Story of the Providence of God in the Life of Your Family

I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. —Psalm 78:2-4

The Lord has not only blessed this nation with a rich providential history, but you too have a story that needs to be told. Your children need to hear it and understand the mercies of God in the life of your family. So, this Thanksgiving, chronicle all that God has done in the history of your family. How many generations has your family been in America? How did they get here? When, if ever, did your fathers embrace the Gospel?

7. Purpose to Fight Hard and Hold Fast

History is not made by majorities, but by dedicated minorities of like-minded friends who have joined together in common cause. This was the Pilgrim legacy, and it must be ours as well. To change the world, courageous men and women must “fight hard and hold fast” to the things they know to be true. Most people will not fight hard and hold fast (which is why most people are spectators instead of world-changers). If you are grateful, purpose to be engaged. Purpose to be part of an important work for the Lord. Purpose to stand with those who are fighting hard and holding fast. Purpose to be a twenty-first-century pilgrim for Jesus Christ.

Conclusion: Happy Thanksgiving!

On behalf of Beall, Joshua, Justice, Liberty, Jubilee, Faith Evangeline, Honor, Providence, and Virginia, and all the families of Vision Forum, we wish you a truly happy, truly grateful, truly blessed Thanksgiving Day!

May the Lord bless you and keep you, and may He cause His face to shine upon you.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Scariest Things you can do this Halloween

I got this today from Vision Forum. It's a good read and a good stand to take. Halloween is not a benign "holiday".

The Five Scariest Things
You Can Do This Halloween

The fear of the Lord is to hate evil. (Proverbs 8:13)

By Doug Phillips

Our country is in the grip of a fear crisis. The tension because of this fear is almost palpable. There is fear over elections, fear over the economy, and fear over hundreds of other issues ranging from the environment to terrorism.

The one fear that America is missing is a fear of the Lord. As a people, we no longer fear God. Because we do not fear God, we no longer hate evil (Proverbs 8:13).

Instead of hating evil, Americans toy with it. We toy with holidays like Halloween that were conceived in evil and that promote the “cute-ification” of evil, whether that evil takes the form of witchcraft, sorcery, ghoulishness, or some other form of malevolent imagery paraded before our children. We laugh at the very things that the Lord describes as “abominations,” and we find ourselves obsessively fascinated by, and attracted to, all things dark.

Yet we do not fear the Lord.

Those who “hate evil” are very scary to a secular society that fears man more than God. They are scary because they dare to declare that there are absolute standards by which society must be governed. They are scary because, if they are successful, industries like Hollywood that make billions of dollars by promoting ungodly fear will lose their influence. They are scary because such people will not be swayed by political candidates who use fear as a tool for manipulation.

With this in mind, I offer you the five “scariest” things you can do this Halloween:

  1. The scariest thing you can do this Halloween is to not make light of evil. Halloween was conceived in evil and has remained a celebration that uses children to promote a fascination with darkness and superstitious fear. Simultaneously, it makes light of things that the Bible describes as evil. Stand against such things, and the world will find you very scary indeed. The fear of the Lord makes men turn from evil (Proverbs 16:6).
  2. The scariest thing you can do this Halloween is to not be fearful. The media wants you to be afraid of everything from overpopulation to global warming. The politicians want you to be afraid of the economy and political instability. God wants you to do what is morally right, trust Him completely, and never be gripped by an ungodly spirit of fear. You can place your trust and hope for this nation in the King of Kings. Jesus said: “And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him” (Luke 12:4-5). Believe this, and you will be light to the world.
  3. The scariest thing you can do this Halloween is to completely skip Halloween and remember Reformation Day. It was 493 years ago that Martin Luther nailed his world-changing 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg church. These theses included rebukes to ungodly fear and superstition. 501 years ago, sometime near October 31, a baby named John Calvin was conceived who would dedicate his life to eradicating an ungodly fear of superstitious beliefs and proclaiming the gospel of grace. His emphasis on reformation, revival, and the sufficiency of Scripture had such far-reaching implications for nations like the United States that he has been described by Christian and secular scholars alike as the true founding father of America. The Reformers did something that was very scary to the world of their day. They stood against all forms of dark superstitions which grip the minds and souls of men. It was their emphasis on the fear of the Lord and the wisdom of Holy Scripture that was used by God to liberate untold numbers of men and women. But to remember the Reformers instead of Halloween is very scary to the world. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10).
  4. The scariest thing you can do this Halloween is to refuse to watch or allow your children to watch any of the toxic Halloween and horror films emerging from Hollywood. America’s fascination with ungodly fear has made horror the most popular and fastest-growing film genre amoung youth. When parents allow their children to toy with this genre, they promote ungodly fear, and they contribute to the fear-factories in Hollywood that prey upon the youth of our culture. Say “no” to Hollywood horror and you will be dangerously scary to the media elite. “Fear ye not me? saith the Lord: will ye not tremble at my presence....?” (Jeremiah 5:22).
  5. The scariest thing you can do this Halloween is to get on your knees as a mother and father and pray that the Lord will send you many, children who will fear God, not man — children who will especially shun the glorification of witchcraft, the bondage of ungodly fear, and the “cute-ification” of evil that is promoted through holidays like Halloween. Cultures that toy with evil end up being cultures of death. The Christian response is to be a people of life. That means babies. It means fearing God by honoring His command to “be fruitful and multiply.” It means remembering that the Scripture describes children as a “blessing” and a “reward.” Raise children that fear God more than man, and that will be answer enough to our Halloween- and darkness-obsessed culture; for if you trust God over your womb and commit your children to a holy education, you will be very scary to the modern world. “Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord” (Psalm 34:11).

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Some unique ideas for gifts for your children

Do you look around your house as this Christmas season approaches and see a lot of unused toys lying around? Do you think inwardly that your children really don't need any more toys, but Christmas is coming and we'll have to come up with a gift list? Well, here's a tip straight from "olden" days. Why not start a "hope chest" sort of tradition? Okay here is what I mean. For boys this means getting them a rugged tool box and giving them the gift of basic tools each year: screwdrivers, hammer, pliers, wire cutters, a level, wrenches, socket wrenches, and as they get older, how about a drill and extra bits. For girls this means a tool box filled with cooking tools. Fill it up with some spatulas, a reamer for juicing lemons and citrus, measuring cups, measuring spoons, a liquid measuring cup, mixing bowls, wooden spoons, food chopper, a copy of your family favorite recipes, a basic cookbook or two, grater, knives, coffee maker or tea pot, mixer, blender, food processor, etc.

Now I guess you could do these things for both boys and girls. Not trying to be sexist, but really. The men usually handle the big fix-it-upper jobs, and the women usually cook. Hey, girls could use some basic household tools like screwdrivers and hammer and such for when they are out on their own. Boys do need some basic cooking equipment when they have their own apartments. What you need to do when giving these gifts is give your sons and daughters some lessons to learn how to use their tools. Remember to teach them they are tools not toys and they will need to keep them in a safe place for when they need them.

While these may not seem like gifts they will get too excited about at first, I bet in a few years, they will be thanking you profusely that you got them such valuable things and were thinking ahead. They won't miss another toy really. Chances are you won't miss another useless toy that you end up giving away or throwing away after it breaks or gets stepped on, or lost. :)

We gave each of our sons a tool box and screwdriver set last Christmas. Now when we need to fix something, they jump up and ask, "Can I get the tools from my toolbox, Dad?" They love using their tools. They are learning skills and responsibility. They are learning to put their tools away. My dad is teaching the boys how to take apart an old lawn mower and blower and fix them up. Maybe they will be able to be used again, maybe not, but the boys are learning valuable life skills for later. They could make a career out of motor repair. These are the kinds of gifts that keep on giving. Training up your children in the way they should go. Training them for more than just the moment at hand. If you don't know how to do these things, get a manual from the library and learn together.

Something to think about. :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Some things coming in my handmade store

Hi, Everyone. I moved my Handmade Blessings store from my blog to It offers more exposure and possibility to actually sell something I have made. I have not had a lot of success selling on my blog. I have made only two sales in the past year. I am grateful for those two sales, but it would be nice to have more opportunity to sell. Right now I am focusing on putting holiday items in my store. They will be based on all the Fall/Winter celebrations coming up Oct.-December. I have already put about 20 items in the store so check it out.

Here are some things coming in my handmade card store. I will be making some Christmas card and tag sets. I also am planning on making gift card holders, 2011 desk calendars, and food gift tags and boxes. So check the site often and see what is in store for you to grab and finish off. I already have a few Christmas items up. And check out the Halloween/Fall items as well.

A NOTE: I hope to accomplish this, but if my family and my other homeschooling duties do not not allow for me to accomplish as much as I like in my hobby, that is the way it goes. They have to come first.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Papertrey Blog Hop last inspiration

Papertrey Ink Blog Hop Post #6. This is a post just to say that one more non- Papertrey Ink blogger really inspires me. That blogger is She is a Stampin' UP! only blogger and she has awesome ideas and templates. I love her tutorials, her use of designer papers, and the simple layouts she uses. Love her stuff.

Papertrey Ink Blog Hop post #5

This last post is inspired by Nichole. Nichole, you probably don't hear it enough how much you inspire us out here with your awesome Papertrey products and your product reveals each month. You have a wonderful artful eye for color, simplicity and impact. The images you design for stamps and the designs you make for cards are truly timeless and awesome. Thank you for the way you lead in this craft and set the standard so to speak for everyone else. You inspire us and challenge us to be better paper crafters and to look out for those little details that really make a card or project say WOW!

These two cards are inspired by you. I just made them last night. I have also been using a lot of your ribbon strips and loops in my cards as well. Just don't have any to show. Besides, I think I have posted enough cards today. Gotta get back to my family and work. Thanks again, Nichole.

Papertrey Ink Blog Hop Post #4

I must say that Dawn McVey is one of my all time favorite bloggers. I love her bold color choices, which I would usually never think of putting together. I like her way of making patterned papers with background pieces that I would never think of creating. I also love all her great uses of mediums for flowers and focal points like cork, felt, vintage bookprints and such.

I just created these fun goodies in the past couple of days. My Saturdays are not ones where I get to stamp much as it's usually a family and cleaning day. In fact, I am supposed to be vacuuming and ironing right now, but I had to participate in this blog hop since I am inspired by so many of the great blogs out there. I am not naturally talented in coming up with card ideas. A piece of blank cardstock and even a card sketch just leave me flustered. But a really cool card or idea from some of these great bloggers just sets my creativity going and I think, "I can do that with this or that.!"

The apple card was inspired by Dawn's latest use of the mat stack and fillable frames dies for accent pieces to run along the side of your stamped images to create a "punched" edge.

The tags are inspired by her bold color combo choice for Christmas last year and some of the patterns she made using stamps. I like all the tags she makes for putting on packages too.

Lastly the tea cup card was inspired by her cork tutorial a few months back.

Dawn, you are truly talented and inspiring. I have been blessed by your sweet blog and your creativity.

Papertrey Ink Blog Hop post #3

I love Lauren Meador and her wonderful box and packaging templates. I love to make homemade gifts, and I love her templates. She is such an inspiration in making gifts that say WOW! I have most of her templates and I love to shop for things I can put in them.
I first posted a picture of a watercan I made using her wonderful watering can template. Don't you just love it!

Next is a little bath and body set I put together with some trial sized bottles of coconut lime verbena B&BW stuff. The box is supposed to look like a coconut with tropical flowers on it with a cool lime slice for added detail.

Papertrey Ink Blog Hop post #2

My next favorite designer is Michelle Wooderson. I love her funky mixy matchy style. I also like her production line style of laying things out. Here are some projects I have just recently made reflecting her style. Thanks, Mish.

I have here a candy apple card using patterned papers, ribbons, buttons and such that remind me of Michelle's style. I also used her wonderful Friendship jar Fall Fillers stamp set. I also have some tags I made out of various prints I hand stamped with PTI stamps that I mixed and matched on some tags for treat bags along with some hand dyed clothespins. See, Michelle, you have wonderful ideas.

Papertrey Ink September Blog Hop post #1

I love this blog hop as there are so many people I go to for inspiration and to CASE. First and foremost would be Nichole Heady herself, and all the wonderfully talented ladies on her design team. I am most addicted to all of their blogs because I love their design perspectives. Very clean and deceptively easy. That is what this particular post is focusing on. Clean and easy with pops of color for impact. The designer I think most inspires clean, easy, pops of color and overall simplicity with lots of wow factor is Maile Belles. I love her blog and I love her style. As a busy homeschooling mom, I like to keep things clean and simple. Here are some cards I have made inspired by some of Maile's designs. Thank you, Maile.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Christmas card ideas

Need to make food gift packaging, Christmas cards (about 30), bath and body products and packaging, tags for food gifts. Need to order coffee bags and glassine bags.
Need to make some gift card holders.

Monday, September 20, 2010

What do your words say?

Here is another thought provoking article from my teaching God's World News weekly update. What kind of words do you say? What do your words say about you and what you truly believe. Are you ready to be persecuted for sharing the precious words of the gospel? Do your words promote peace? Are your words building up words or are they focused on the negative? Something to think about this Monday morning.

What is your ordinary, everyday conversation like? Is it good? Evil? Kind? Mean? Clean? Obscene?

How do you know?

Some words used to be considered obscene. There was no argument about that. But today "everybody" says them-even in movies and on TV. And "freedom of speech" in the hands of groups like the ACLU has been twisted from its Constitutional intent now to mean legalized oral amorality.

Jesus in Matthew 12 says, "I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."

Listen carefully to the words of Jesus. They are words of life.

There is only one place to learn the difference between good and evil. It is not "ordinary, everyday conversation." It is not the U.S. courts. It is not the U.S. Constitution. It is God's word, the Bible.

I do not mean to say the U.S. Constitution is evil. It is a very good set of laws. In fact, much of it is based on the teachings of the Bible. In fact, "freedom of speech" in the Constitution has never meant freedom to do evil. Don't be fooled by lawyers promulgating twisted ideas of "freedom."

"Freedom" is not the real problem in America. The real problem is that the world hates godly values. Jesus was not warning only against dirty words. He was warning against twisting the truth about justice and holiness and freedom. God's judgment is upon all false speech.

The twisting of words is killing true freedom in America. It has made evil speech "constitutional." It has turned blasphemy and cursing--even on stage--into "civil rights." At the same time, proclaiming God's word in America's public schools is illegal. There's no "freedom of speech" there. Do you hear the ACLU complaining about that?

What is the future of America? Do you understand the meaning of "freedom in Christ"? Do you know that for God's people it sometimes means persecution?

We should be upset hearing the filthy mouths in the world around us. But we should also be getting ready to face things a lot worse than that.
-- Norm Bomer

Monday, September 13, 2010

Teaching Children is a High Calling

Found this gem in my weekly Teaching God's World News email. Had to share.

Each Christian teacher has a high calling to teach children the law of God as a way of life (Deut. 6:5-7). How can we best fulfill this calling within our respective academic disciplines? How can we educate the whole child--his heart, mind, and behavior--in light of God's word?

Teach Children the fear of God.

This is the starting place for every teacher and class. A typical secondary school is departmentalized, so the math, social studies, or English teachers could tend to leave discussions of the Bible to the Bible teacher. However, Proverbs 1:7 reminds us that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." Whether or not you teach Bible, your first priority is to teach reverence for the Lord.

Because much of what children learn is by example, you must set an example of godliness and consistency. Teach them by your example of reverence for God. And teach them to respect your God-ordained authority over them.

Instill in your students a belief that all knowledge begins with the knowledge of God, and that academic disciplines further our knowledge of him, since math, science, history, and language are a study of his creation (Rom. 1:20).

Teach children to discern truth from error.

Jesus prayed to the Father in John 17, "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth." Using the word, we can teach all subjects in a biblical and truthful way. There is a critical need for this perspective in social studies.

For example, sit down with a child and have him read from a history text or a newsmagazine. When he finishes, ask him if what he just read is true. He may tell you, "I don't know," or "yes," or give you a puzzled look. He probably has never had that question asked of him before.

Most children accept anything in print as the truth. It never occurs to them that what they read in history books, biographies, or magazines and newspapers could possibly be distortions of the truth.

They also accept most of what they see on TV as truth. But they are constantly being bombarded with lies--blatant or subtle--about the nature of man and what his goals are to be. And they are untrained to recognize and reject those lies. We must teach them to discern truth from error, to judge everything they see, read, and hear in the light ofGod's word.

Colossians 2:8 warns, "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of thisworld rather than on Christ." In 2 Corinthians 10:5 we are commanded to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." And finally, 2 Timothy 2:15 commands us to "do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth."

To heed these admonitions, teachers must begin with textbooks and current events resources. Explain on the first day of school, and many times thereafter, that the material was written by a human being and his own beliefs are in it. What he writes may be fact, or it may be opinion. Point out the author's bias wherever it appears. And compel your students to use the word of God in the classroom to test the word of the author. Teach them to use the same methods of testing and proving what is true while they are at home watching television or listening to the radio.

I once gave seventh graders this assignment: Watch a television show and write out its message. They were required to analyze each character and decide whether that person projected godly or ungodly attitudes and behavior. They were to look for violations of the word of God and anything else they felt was questionable.

Some of the students immediately saw problems in the ways characters dressed and acted, the language they used, their attitudes. It was more difficult for them to recognize the underlying pervasive message of many of the shows: "God doesn't exist, so I can do whatever I please." For many of those students, this was a turning point in their attitude toward television viewing. They realized the power of TV to influence and deceive them.

I have repeated this exercise, using similar questions to train them to analyze in the light of Scripture books and periodicals they read and entertainment they seek.

If we are consistent, our students will learn to apply the word of God to all areas of life. By God's grace, they will "by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil" (Heb. 5:14).

Our faithfulness will yield blessings as the Lord has promised, "So that you, your children, and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life" (Deut. 6:2).
-- Debra M. Mian

Remembering 9/11

I remember where I was on 9/11/2001. I was at home with my 5 month old Nathan and we were getting ready to go over to my parents house as the packers were there to move them to Atlanta. My husband called me right after the first tower hit to tell me to turn on the television. Something big was happening at the World Trade Center. My godfather worked in the towers. Scott had called my godmother and received news my godfather was out and okay. We watched the rest of the terrible tragedy at my parents' house as their things were packed that day. I remember crying and wondering how this could happen. It was horrible. We must never forget the lessons from that day. Here is a little article I got from God's World News about 9/11.

Light and Shadow

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea." Theworld doesn't understand the Psalms. But even in the shadow of death, God reveals his strength for all to see.

"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord."

For decades, "rights" groups fought to outlaw God's word and prayer in America's public life, public schools, and courtrooms. Judges blessed their efforts. Television scorned Christians and prayer. Then nine years ago this month, the 9/11 World Trade Center attack plunged thousands of families into mourning. The Pentagon attack in the nation's capital proclaimed America's frailty.

In its weakness God bowed America's head. And those enemies of prayer became unusually silent. President George W. Bush and many high officials bowed in worship at the National Cathedral. The Bible was read to the nation. No one chanted "separation of church and state."

Senators and Congressmen gathered before the Capitol and sang "God Bless America." Later, they held a prayer meeting. Churches overflowed. Crowds in town squares across America sought the "ever-present help in trouble." And in Jesus' name they prayed.
The well-known old hymn "Abide with Me" says, "Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day." Our time on earth is very little. "Earth's glories pass away," says the hymn. The 9/11 attacks severely forced Americans to think about that.

How many of them thought about this: "I triumph still, if thou abide with me"?

Nine years ago, President Bush promised triumph over America's enemies. Yes, bringing justice to mass murderers is good and right. But the "triumph" in that hymn is far bigger than military triumph. Many of the terrorists' victims saw that clearly. They saw the Lord face to face.

Christ has triumphed over sin and death for all believers. And God will at last triumph over his enemies. He will crush them and punish them forever. "'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord" (Romans 12:19). God's revenge is good and right.
So what about human revenge?

"Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath," writes the Apostle Paul (12:19). It is a sin for individual people to take revenge. Jesus told people--not nations--to turn the other cheek. God gives his vengeance authority instead to governments. That why he tells us, "If you do wrong, be afraid," for the government "does not bear the sword for nothing" (13:4).

But some people do not "leave room for God's wrath." They like to say the Lord changed from a God of wrath in the Old Testament to a God of love in the New Testament. Wrong. "I the Lord do not change" (Malachi 3:6). God has always been a God of love. He is still a God of wrath.

The World Trade Center was a symbol of U.S. business success. The Pentagon is a symbol of U.S. military power. Those tragic 9/11 attacks reminded us Americans not to place our hope in our vast wealth and power. They reminded us that there is no lasting triumph apart from Christ. They reminded us of the utter evil of God's enemies.

The United States is full of sin. It's hard to call it "Christian" anymore. But in the eyes of Islam, it is the world's Christian stronghold. That's mainly why Muslim terrorists hate America. Their false religion allows them to believe Allah will reward them for murdering "infidels" (enemies of Islam).

During the 1990s, America's highest leaders, as they are doing today, did much to tear down U.S. military strength. Military officers warned against it. But they obeyed orders. Then President Bush called for making national defense stronger again. Many liberal opponents disagreed with him. Some--especially in the media--even mocked him.

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd ridiculed Mr. Bush. He fears "The Threat That Doesn't Exist," she wrote. Federal funds for national defense, she said, should instead be spent on education.

The 9-11 attacks occurred two days later. How foolish to pretend that the world is full of good people that simply need more education.

The New Testament in Romans 13 declares government "God's servant, an agent of wrath"--not an agent of education. That servant may take revenge. In this world of false gods and sinful people, sometimes it must.

A strong national defense is necessary. But even triumph over terrorism is not enough to save America. Evil is the enemy. And education on the world's terms plays into its hands. The only defense--the only triumph--is in the true and living God of the Bible. That means Christian education.

"In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me."
-- Norm Bomer

Some good thoughts on education, culture, and journalism

I got the following post on my Teaching God's World News email today. I thought I would share it with you. Good stuff here.

The main reason American society is today so double-minded on so many issues is that its people have been repeatedly assured that "religion and science" operate in different spheres. So, of course, do "religion and education," "religion and economics," "religion and politics," "religion and business," "religion and art"--or "religion" and any other combination you want to make.

The more you can persuade people that all these are hermetically sealed, independent components of life, the more you enable those people simultaneously (and shamelessly) to believe contradictory things about life. Now you have generously allowed them to believe everything, without offense to anyone on any side, but also without any insult to their critical faculties.
-- Joel Belz, WORLD magazine

In 1681, there were no newspapers anywhere in Britain's American colonies. But Massachusetts ministers united to plead for careful coverage of "Illustrious Providences, including Divine Judgements, Tempests, Floods, Earthquakes, Thunders as are unusual . . . Remarkable Judgements upon noted Sinners, eminent Deliverances, and Answers to Prayer." The ministers wanted stories about such sensational events because they understood that all occurrences are "ordered by the Providence of God," so that news stories are as much about God as man.

Their understanding that God is active in the world made journalism not trivial but significant; Cotton Mather wrote that "To regard the illustrious displays of that Providence wherewith our Lord Christ governs the world, is a work, than which there is none more needful or useful for a Christian."
-- Marvin Olasky, WORLD magazine

Christian school, home school, public school. For Christian parents, those three have one thing in common: They all require Godly wisdom and diligence.

When it comes to public school, that challenge is critical in ways different from the challenge of Christian school and home school. Parents are faced not only with false teaching their children may be receiving, they are faced with the flip side--the vital teaching their children are not receiving at school.

Christian parents--especially those with children in public school--are faced daily with this sometimes brutal reality: Education works. Teaching does accomplish learning. So the content of that teaching is of utmost concern. And by legal mandate, most classrooms in America assume the position that the real world is one where man is in charge and nature created itself.
-- Norm Bomer, GWNews

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Some more freezer cooking today...

Well I just took about 45 minutes and made up another big batch of my homemade pancake mix chock full of wholegrain goodness. I also made two batches of biscuits -minus the liquid, and stuck those in the freezer. I already had my food processor out for grinding oats and sustagrain barley flakes for my pancake mix, so I decided to go ahead and pulse up some biscuit mix too. Now all i have to do is grab it out of the freezer, add 1 c. buttermilk, roll out and bake. Much easier for in the morning. I also made a double batch of now or later pizza dough to freeze up. It's rising on the counter, and when it's done, I'll divide it into 3 or 4 pieces and then freeze it. All I will have to do is take it out in the morning and let it come to room temp. till almost lunch time, press it out onto parchment, preheat the oven and there you go, yummy hot homemade pizza. It's a good thing. And I just prepped many breakfast goodies and lunch in just 45 min.

My guys are out of the house today with haircuts and shopping for mouth guards and protective gear for karate lessons. With lessons two nights a week at 5:30 pm- 7pm we have just gotten lots more busy in the evenings. I don't like that aspect, but they are enjoying the exercise and the chance to kick and hit. It should help with coordination, confidence, and control (all good life skills). :) My little guys are so precious. I just love them to pieces. I am so proud of their attitudes this year in school and how much we are getting done. We added Rod and Staff Spelling and English/Grammar, and Wordly Wise vocabulary building lessons. We also get God's World News for current events and news that comes from a Biblical world view. Love it. The boys love getting mail. We also get Club House and Club House Jr. from Focus on the Family. John, my youngest, is still struggling some days on doing his written work. He just hates writing stuff down, and Friday was pretty rough, but it is usually the exception now and not the rule. He's just almost 7 yrs. old, so I shouldn't expect as much as I do from Nathan, who is 9 1/2. So anyway, that's what I have been up to today.

Try taking an hour and getting some things prepped for your week. Go to King Arthur and Pioneer and find some great recipes for baking, meals, that are flavorful and easy.

Oh, and I have been a little crafty lately while the boys work on their math and other written work, and have made some neat Halloween treat holders and cards. Check them out on my card blog: see the sidebar.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Got peppers..?

Do you plant jalapeno peppers or poblanos or other hotish style peppers in your garden, they come in bountifully and then you have no idea what to do with them? Well, we always plant a couple of jalapenos because my husband likes hot salsa and stuff. They always come in plentifully before and after the tomatoes do, so I end up picking them, storing them in the refrigerator and then they go bad on me. This year we also planted poblano peppers at my husband's request. The seeds in poblanos have a little zest to them but the peppers themselves are not hot, just a mild nice heat. Kind of like a green chili. In fact you can roast them and use them like green chilies. Well, again, they came in like total gangbusters and I have had sooo many of them. You cannot freeze peppers well. They get mushy, lose flavor and so this is not the best way to deal with the abundance.

I looked in my canning book (Ball Blue Book) and they have canned peppers but you need a hot water canner according to them, but we only have a pressure canner. So I wondered what to do. I was told to call my aunt and uncle who can lots of stuff, and lo and behold they told me canning peppers is so easy even I can do it. Here's how.

Slice up your jalapenos, banana peppers, serrano, or poblano peppers and leave the seeds in there. Put them in sterilized pint or jelly sized jars ( i use the dishwasher and the sani rinse for this). This depends on how many you will use in a sitting. Then you buy a gallon jug of apple cider vinegar and bring it to a rolling boil on the stovetop for at least 10 min. You want to make sure it's boiling hot. Okay, so get your lids and rings in water that has come to a boil, but you don't want to boil them. So now you are ready. Holding a jar with peppers in it with an oven mitt on your hand, ladle in the hot vinegar into the jar till you only have about 1/4 inch of space at the top. Quickly get your lid and ring on there really tight and that's it. Keep filling and sealing the jars until you are done. I can't believe how easy this is. And they seal and keep for a good long time. Peppers don't spoil like a lot of other veggies I was told.

Okay so you can't use these right away, they need to sit for at least 60-90 days before you use them. The peppers won't be crisp anymore, but they will have nice flavor (not vinegary) and you can cut them up and put them in a hot cheese ball, on nachos, or make up a batch of salsa. Yumm. So if you lost a lot of peppers this year cause you just didn't know what to do with them, plant some more next year and can them. Give them to those folks in your life that like things a little spicy. My uncle says he puts the juice from the canned peppers over collards and other greens like that. Now I don't think that sounds good, but those green eaters out there might like to try that too.

Oh, and on a lighter note, your house will smell a little vinegary (is that a word?) and you might smell a little on the vinegar smelling side, but it's a small sacrifice. Open the windows if possible and let things air out. I might need to get a quick shower before I sit amongst other parents at my sons' karate class or they may just put me in a corner by myself. Toodles, ya'll.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Papertrey Ink August Blog Hop

I love the blog hop challenge this month. I will admit that these two projects were made this summer, but I thought I would share them as they fit this challenge and I don't have time to stamp something new tonight. I love to give homemade gifts. I like to share my love of baking. So when we were invited to a couple of wedding showers, I made these brown/white bags for homemade cake mixes (I made the mixes myself, they were not store bought). They were decorated on the front and back with pretty papers and fun stamped labels. They were part of a whole ensemble, which I have included pictures of. Super easy and a fun gift. Hope you like the inspiration.

Supplies used:
PTI: kraft and white coffee bags
Stamps: A Piece of Cake, Just for You
Various patterned papers: some from PTI and Stampin' UP!, ribbons, punches

Do you know what you are eating?

Okay, first let me say, I am not trying to be the food police. I think people who get too obsessed about food ingredients and whether things are organic or not organic take things a bit too far sometimes. I am not trying to be judgmental, just we can all take things too far. There needs to be balance here. I am not an organic food buyer. I don't go out of my way to make sure my foods are organic. I do recognize that some pesticides and such are harmful if ingested in large quantities, but I do wash my produce before using and I feel pretty good about that. I don't have time to worry about that stuff. I would rather farmers spray a little pesticide on stuff so I get a product with out bugs. I also don't buy most items from these fancy grocery stores that cater to the all organic crowd. It's too expensive and I just don't find that their stuff makes that much difference in the big scheme of things for the money you spend.

Some things that are really better for you organically grown are eggs, meats, and dairy products (without added hormones in them). Those I would buy in a heartbeat if I could find them more readily at a good price. I do pay more for my milk without added hormones (Mayfield or Purity brand) because I do see that makes a difference in my boys. I wish I could get organic eggs as they are really better tasting. Meat is just too expensive overall, so I stick with my Sam's club hamburger, chicken and pork tenderloins, and an occasional flank steak from Fresh Market. I just don't buy steak a lot. I do think that seafood needs to be carefully bought as well, with all the mercury that can be in certain varieties. But those would be my only cautious foods.

Anyway, I didn't intend to go through all that, but to sum up, I buy as fresh and close to homegrown when I can if it is cost effective. I do think I feed my family better because while I may not go organic, I do NOT use a lot of premade, prepackaged, already prepared items in my cooking. And this is where I am heading in this blog post. My sons and I just did an educational trip to our local Wal-Mart for our science class today. We were studying hydrogen, and thus we talked about hydrogenation in foods and oils. There have been a lot of studies showing that hydrogenated oils are not good for you. I understand that there are probably just as many studies that find they are okay. I am not going to go into our so called scientific studies these days. I'll leave that for another day. But I do believe that fats that are tampered with to make them more solid at room temp. are probably more likely to stay in that solid state in your body too, thus clogging your arteries. Although too much saturated fats or fats in general aren't good so again, moderation in everything.

So anyway, we went looking for foods that contain partially or fully hydrogenated oils. Did you know you get hydrogenated fats in mostly the following foods: some ice creams (we found it in lots of Blue Bell ice cream flavors), cool whip, any frozen or refrigerated pie crusts, biscuits, cinnamon rolls, breads, any baked good mixes, pre-made icings, some crackers, some breads, premade cookies and baked goods, and even in some ready made puddings (vanilla flavored). Let's see, I think there is a trend here. Why do they use hydrogenated oils in these items so much? It's pretty easy to figure out. Where we would use butter or oil in a baking recipe they use hydrogenated oils mostly. Why? Well butter as you know can get rancid if not used right away after being at room temperature. It can spoil. Well, cake mixes, baking mixes, canned refrigerated baked goods, and even frozen items need to have long shelf lives when they are put in a box. So of course, butter and oil cannot be used. Oils non-hydrogenated will leave grease in the packaging and are less stable like butter. So they hydrogenate them.

My question to you is this? Is there a way for you to get the convenience of these item and have them be much much healthier for your family? Sure you can. How? Well, make your own Bisquick like baking mix and freeze it. Make your own pancake mix and freeze it. Measure out your dry ingredients for cake mixes and then add the fat to it when you are ready to bake it. You know it's the measuring out that takes the most time, so do this ahead and bag it up. Then you are all ready for eggs, fat and dairy when you go to make a cake. Make up a batch of biscuit dough up to the point you would add the liquid, bag it up and then freeze it. All you have to do then is pull it out, add the liquid, knead it once or twice on a floured surface and cut them out. Or make them all the way, cut them out and freeze them before baking. Then just take out a few and bake them as usual. They'll thaw enough on your baking sheet by the time the oven reaches that 400+ degree temp. they need to bake at.

Again, do you want to eat messed up fats, unnecessary preservatives, and weird other chemicals in your baked goods, when it really only takes a little time to whip up some mixes of your own? You control the salt, fat, whole grains, and ultimately the nutritional value of what you feed yourself. Why do we eat all this junk anyway? We do it cause we are "too busy". Ding, Ding, Ding!! Did a light bulb just go off in your head? Maybe we need to not be soo busy. But I'll leave that conversation for another time. :)

It can't be too much of an inconvenience for you to take an hour or two of your weekend, daytime to make up a few mixes and have them ready. It really isn't hard. Oh, and think about trying to buy less ready made foods. Use canned tomatoes, tomato paste and a chopped up onion and some spices to make your own spaghetti sauce. Guess what, you just skipped out on getting high fructose corn syrup and the other fillers companies use in their ready made sauces. It took you a little extra time to chop that onion and open more than one can, but it's better for you. Plus you can make a lot at once and save it for later in the freezer. You save money as it's cheaper too. All I am saying is take a little time and try it. You will notice your food tastes sooo much better, is better for you, and it really is a bit satisfying to do it yourself. Slow down, don't be too busy to put healthy food on the table for your family. It doesn't have to be organic to be good for you. Just less processed. KWIM.

I'll be the first to admit I have a hard time making time to do these things, but when I finally do, I am surprised by how much I can make in such a short amount of time. It can be done, and I challenge you to join me and doing this more for our families. I am not trying to be prideful here in saying all this. Just trying to get all of us to think outside the cultural norms these days. We are all concerned about food, health and such. So let's do the little things we can and make the effort to change our lives for the better. To take away the excuse of not knowing where to find these recipes, I did that work for you. Really, try these. They are good.
Whole wheat and oat pancake mix (I use this and it is fabulous!!)
No-knead challah for cinnamon rolls or a good rich loaf of bread
Pioneer Woman no-knead rolls (my family was totally blown away by these)
Now or later pizza crusts (yes you can make your own pizza) to make your own sauce use a can of tomato sauce (I like the basil, garlic and oregano kind) and add about 1 tsp. italian seasoning and a dash of garlic powder. Spread it on the crust and top with your favorite toppings. Add cheese the last 5 minutes of baking. I make a double batch of this and freeze 2 crusts for a quick lunch for the family.
Bagels (this one is for my records, it's a bit time consuming)
And here is the biscuit recipe I use. You can make them up to the point you add the buttermilk the night before or do this and then pop the mix in the freezer. These are awesome and light and fluffy and so good with butter and jam.
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 stick of butter or 50/50 Smart Balance spread (I use the latter and it's awesome)
1 TBSP. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. sugar
(mix all the dry together and then cut in the butter until it looks like coarse meal)
Then add:
1 c. buttermilk
Knead the dough about 1 minute until smooth.
Roll out on floured surface (go easy on the flour on the surface okay, you don't want to make a flour crust on the biscuits).
Cut with a 2 inch round cutter.
Place on parchment lined cookie sheet and bake at 450 F for 10-12 min.
You can brush the tops with butter after you get them out of the oven. They are great with sausage and jelly or just buttered.

Homemade spaghetti sauce:
1 large can of crushed tomatoes
2 14.5 oz. cans of diced tomatoes (you can use regular or petite, and even use some of the kind that has basil and oregano and garlic already cooked in)
1 small can of tomato paste
1 med. onion chopped fine
1-2 cloves of fresh garlic crushed or minced
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
1 lb. of hamburger meat optional if you want meat or not.
about 1/4 tsp salt or to taste. I just sprinkle a little in.
1/8 tsp. pepper Really what you want to add to taste.
If you like a meaty sauce brown hamburger with onions and garlic. If no meat then saute onions and garlic in a little olive oil.
Drain grease from meat if using. Then add in all other ingredients. Stir together, cover and simmer for 2-3 hours. Cool and store in freezer for later. Feel free to double the recipe.
This can be used for lasagna too or stuffed shells.

Cooking up some yummy breakfast treats.

EDIT: I baked some of my frozen cookies today. Here's a tip for doing that. When you scoop out your dough to freeze, flatten them slightly so they are more in a disc shape rather than a ball. They will cook from frozen better that way and get cooked all the way through without the bottoms burning first.
I just cooked some sugar cookies and the walnut cranberry ones together. The sugar cookies, which had been flattened first before frozen, got a little brown on the bottom but cooked all the way through with a couple of minutes added to the usual time. The oatmeal cranberry and walnut ones were simple scooped with a cookie scoop and frozen in a ball shape. They got pretty brown on the bottom but not done all the way through. While I like a slightly underbaked cookie, I wouldn't want this to be the only way these will come out. So next time when I freeze my dough, I will flatten the dough balls slightly so they will cook better. Or if you decide that is too much work, simple take the dough out of the freezer first and let thaw slightly before you bake. Just thought you would want to know.

So I hope you all have tried out freezing some stuff to make life a little easier during the busy school year or for any time of the year. I just popped 3 pie plates of cinnamon rolls in the freezer for breakfasts using a couple of great recipes and kitchen helps. First I made up a half batch of no knead whole wheat challah bread dough on Monday afternoon. Maybe it was Sunday afternoon. Anyway, then this morning I dumped it all out onto my silicone baker's mat and rolled the dough out into a large rectangle. Then I mixed up some of my King Arthur cinnamon roll filling mix (it's the best stuff out there although it does contain shortening) and spread it over the dough. Then I rolled the dough up into a pretty long log and then used my hand dandy dental floss to cut it into clean 1 inch slices. I put about 6 rolls in each disposable pie plate that I had sprayed with Baker's Joy and wrapped them well and put them in the freezer. Now all I have to do is take out a batch the night before I want to use them and let them thaw a little on the counter, then refrigerate them overnight. Or just pop them in the fridge right away and then get them out as soon as you wake up the next morning, before you head to the shower and get ready, for them to warm up and rise. If your oven has a warm setting, turn it on pop the rolls in lightly covered with saran wrap and leave the door open. I know it wastes a little electricity but those rolls need to rise. Then after your shower, preheat the oven to 350 F (take the rolls out first if you were using the warm setting) and then bake for 30 min. Whip up some simple icing with confectioner's sugar and milk or cream and drizzle over your hot rolls. Simple, divine and so much better than the mall ones or the pop open can ones and such. They are so yummy. The whole wheat flour in them is nutritious, and you can add in nuts, chocolate chips, dried cranberries, etc.

Here are links to the recipes I used and for the cookies I made up this weekend and froze already portioned out.

Link to whole wheat challah bread recipe: artisian bread in 5 minutes a day blog
Note: I only made half this recipe and used 1 egg and 1 egg white. I did not use the cranberries and orange zest. I used Smart Balance oil for my oil/fat.

Link to King Arthur baker's cinnamon filling
I used about 1 full cup of the filling and added enough water to make a spreadable schmear/paste. This does contain shortening in it, but it makes such a delish gooey filling and you don't indulge in these much, that I feel it's worth it.

Link to King Arthur silicone baker's mat: great for rolling out doughs with less mess and stick.

Cookie recipes: oatmeal cranberry walnut (use to make all chocolate chip too it's that good), and sugar cookie

Friday, August 20, 2010

Time savers in the kitchen

Hey, there folks. Got some time saver tips for the kitchen and getting some yummy goodies on the table fast now that school has started. School means busier schedules unfortunately. It seems with sports and extra curricular activities, it's hard to sit down as a family for a meal. But I have some tips for you to get some yummy goodness on everyone's plate. The time saver: the freezer. Yes, you read that right, the freezer!!
Make good use of your freezer. Freeze meals ahead of time to pop in the oven or defrost a day or two ahead and bake them off. My favorite freezer goodies: spaghetti sauce (make a big batch divide it up in ziploc bags and you are good to go for a quick plate of spaghetti, lasagna, or stuffed shells and cheese), stuffed shells filling, mexican lasagna (I make up the meat mixture and sauce mixture, put the grated cheese and corn tortillas in separate zip loc bags and freeze them together), taco meat already cooked, meatloaf, chicken pot pie mixture with a frozen pie crust or puff pastry sheet, no knead rolls, muffins, and desserts.

Know the secret to hot out of the oven cookies (so you don't eat the whole batch in two days cause they are all staring at you from the cookie jar or zip loc bag you store them in)? Bake off a dozen when you make your cookie dough--- wait I need to say a thing or two first about cookies. Please, please don't buy that ready made cookie dough in the biscuit section of the grocery store. You know the stuff I am talking about. It's got so many preservatives and really, how hard is it to whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough? Not hard. You take 15 min. tops. Okay enough about that. Anyway, make your cookie dough and then scoop out a dozen and bake them off. You need those cookies for today cause you just can't help yourself, you know. Next, scoop out all the rest of the dough and place it pretty close together on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Place dough balls in the freezer uncovered so they get firm and partially frozen, about 15- 30 min. Now take those frozen balls of homemade goodness and dump them in a zip loc freezer bag. Freeze. Now you can just pull out a half a dozen or so cookie dough balls at a time and bake them off so the school kids have a yummy gooey warm treat when they walk in the door and you don't eat them all. :) You get one or two with the kids.

Now the other things that you can make ahead are breads: yes, you can make bread. Look for the no-knead kind from King Arthur's website and recipe gallery and from Pioneer Woman's recipe site. I have tried them and they are yummy and super easy.

So hey, make the use of an hour or two on the weekend or while the little ones/big kids are at school and make your busy life easier. Your family will get homemade goodness during the week and you'll be better prepared for the busyness of life.