Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Busy Boxes--Keeping Little Ones Busy During Your Quiet Time

If you are blessed with children then you know it can be at times difficult to get into your quiet time without distraction. Without a doubt, young children (toddlers and preschoolers in particular!) require constant attention and care, and the word "quiet" means absolutely nothing to them! So how can a mom of littles still spend daily time in God's word? Enter the Busy Box:

I assembled my Busy Box by taking a medium-sized snap-top storage container and writting my son's name on it. Because Brett is school age (kindergarten), I chose not to fill his Busy Box with toys or other playthings, but materials he can use for his own quiet time, such as his Bible, Bible studies, character-building books, journal and markers, etc.. Brett will have his own quiet time in his bedroom while I have mine, and Henry (9 mos.) will watch a biblically-based video, such as the Baby Faith series, from his playpen. Our new baby (arriving in 8 weeks!!!!) will be napping or in my arms. I will make a Busy Box for Henry when he turn 1 year old, and fill it with simple toys and books. I have also burned a CD of Brett's favorite praise and worship music that he may choose to listen to while having his quiet time as well. I plan on putting different activities in his box everyday, instead of just the same thing over and over, as to prevent boredom.

Here are some of the resources I'll be using for Brett's Busy Box:

The Little Boy's Bible for Mothers and Sons--this is a great beginers bible for little boys! This book features devotions at the end of each chapter, one for mom and one for sons titled "Becoming a Man of God" (I just love that!)

Bible Studies from Hem of His Garmet--this website offers good-quality, free printable Bible studies for children of all ages.

A Child's Book of Character Building by Ron Coriell--beautiful book broken down into twelve chapters, each one focusing on a specific character attribute, such as thankfulness or obedience. I believe there are other books in this series; I am using book 1.

Draw to Learn the Book of Proverbs by Ray and Charlene Notgrass--this book takes children through the book of Proverbs by having them draw their own idea of how the particular Scripture they are studying should look.

These are some of the resources I am planning on using in combination with music, seasonal books (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Advent) and maybe the occasional DVD. I haven't looked into resources for other age groups since Henry is still a baby!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Saturday Favorite--Taco Salad!

Our two family-favorite meals on Saturdays are pizza and taco salad. I would like to share my taco salad recipe with you:

Taco Seasoned Beef: brown meat with all ingreedients:

1 lb. ground beef

1 small onion, diced

1 clove garlic, well-smashed

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. dried oregano

3 tbsp. tomato paste

refried beans (I make my own most of the time--more flavorful, more frugal and soaked!)

corn chips, preferably organic

shredded lettuce

chopped onion and tomato

sliced jalapeno

fresh salsa


shredded cheddar cheese

First, place about 1 cup of crushed corn chips on each plate; top with meat and beans. Let each person top their taco salad with toppings of their choice. I set everything out buffet-style. Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Importance of Protein in Pregnancy

I will admit, I am in no way an expert on this particular topic! The first five months of my first pregnancy, I followed a vegetarian diet. With my second pregnancy, I had an aversion to almost every kind of meat, especially chicken, and lived on pasta and bread! After coming across some information about the importance of protein in the diet of pregnant women, I changed my ways, and fast!

The recomendation for a pregnant mother is 80-100 grams of protein per day! That seems like a lot, but before you get overwhelmed, consider this method: try consuming 20 grams of protein with each meal for a total of 60 grams, making up the difference with snacks spaced throughout the day.

Some High-Protein Snack Ideas:

1. Apple, sliced and served with peanut butter

2. English Muffin spread with peanut or other nut butter (I just discovered cashew butter, and it's yummy!)

3. Whole-wheat crackers and hummus

4. Hard boiled eggs

One of the problems I have ran into in preparing meals high in protein is the cost! I would love nothing more than to have this excuse to eat a big steak everyday, but that is so expensive. With such an increase on my protein intake, I've had to come up with more frugal options. Here's what works for me:

Milk and Dairy--high in both protein and calcium, necessary for healthy bone development in baby and maintaining bone density in mom. I do not like to drink a lot of milk, but I try to drink at least two glasses per day and get the rest through yogurt or ice cream. I personally don't care much for cheese, but of course this is an excellent source of dairy-based protein as well.

Eggs--Frugal and packed with protein, eggs are a staple in my pregnancy diet. The best thing about eggs is that they are so versatile that it's hard to get bored with them! Try eating them scrambled with butter, in an omlette with veggies (my fave!) or in a quiche.

Beans--Another cheap protein powerhouse! There are a lot of ways to prepare beans beyond the standard soup beans--try making falafel out of chickpeas, Cuban-style black beans and rice or refried beans in tacos. Very simple, yet filling and nourishing.

Canned Salmon--This has been a lifesaver to me on days when I really haven't wanted to cook, but knew I had to get in my protein requirement! My husband loves it in salmon patties, but I have also served it in salmon salad (mix with mayo, onion powder, paprika, red onion and celery) to serve with crackers, or try this salmon melt recipe from Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking:

For more information on the importance of protein in the pregnant woman's diet, I suggest you check out the Bradley Method website at They have a lot of good information on nutrition during pregnancy, as well as natural childbirth in general.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Blogging Break?

Hi, everyone! Just wanted to share with you that I will be taking a 1 week blogging break, due to my computer being reformatted. Can't wait to get back with you next week!

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Benefits of Butter

Butter is almost a bad word in today's fat and calorie-concerned society, but did you know that the health benefits of butter far outweigh the risks? Did you know that "healthy" margarine you are slathering on your children's toast has little to offer nutritionally?

According to the Weston A.Price Foundation, real butter is chock-full of key nutrients necessary for optimal health:

1. Vitamin A--needed for the health of the thyroid and adrenal glands, both playing a crucial role in heart and cardiovascular wellness. Butter is an easibly absorbed source of vitamin A.

2. Lecithin--helps metabolize cholesterol.

3. Anti-Oxidants--protects from free-radical damage to the arteries, it's found in butter in the form of vitamins A and E, as well as selenium.

4. Cholesterol--What? Cholesterol? What could be good about that? Turns out that some dietary cholesterol is necessary in actually preventing free-radical damage to the body. Butter is a pure and natural source of dietary cholesterol, unlike margarine, which is man-made and contains rancid fats and highly-processed vegetable oils.

5. Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)--provides excellant protection against cancer.

It's interesting to note that many think butter is harmful due to it's ammount of saturated fat; however, what has been found to be more harmful is partially hydrogenated fats and hardened fats like those found in margarine. Fat is a necessary component to anyone's diet, as it helps to absorb various vitamins and minerals. We have been taught to fear fat, but it's more important to be aware of the type of fats you are consuming. Butter is, in a sense, a perfectly natural fat while margarines are man-made, genetically modified and lacking in key nutrients.

Of course, as with anything, moderation is the key here! No one should eat a stick of butter a day. Current recomendations for butter intake are about two pats per day, three if you are pregnant or nursing.

Children benefit greatly from butter in their diets. Research supports that the high concentration in Vitamin A is essential for a healthy immune system. Personally, I have found two pats of butter daily to be effective in the management of my son's exzema!

More Resources:

Food Renegade website--check out this great post on the importance of natural dietary fats , and while you are there, check out some of the other posts! This is a great source of information on eating for optimum nutrition.

The Nourishing Gourmet--Kimi at the Nourishing Gourmet has written an excellent post on nourishing butter sources. Read it here at

Passionate Homemaking blog--Lindsay has written a great post on making your own butter, ensuring you know exactly what is going into the finished product! See it here at

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Resources for a Natural Pregnancy and Birth

I recieved an e-mail the other day asking for a good read on the topic of natural childbirth. So, I've decided to share with you a whole list of wonderful resources on this topic. Here are some things I have found to be helpful:

The Christian Childbirth Handbook by Jennifer Vanderlaan--Wow! This book has changed so much of my thoughts on pregnancy, labor and childbirth. I can't say enough good things about this informative and inspiring book. Vanderlaan explains all the aspects one would want to know about pregnancy, labor, delivery and postpartum both medically and scripturally. I never really, truly understood God's perfect plan for pregnancy and motherhood until I read this book! It has made me more confident in my ability to have a natural childbirth, as well as amazed at exactly what my body is capable of doing! This book is a must-read for any pregnant woman.

Husband-Coached Childbirth by Robert Bradley, M.D.--Much more medically-based than scripturally, this book does a great job of explaining exactly what is happening with a woman's body in all the stages of pregnancy, labor and birth. Has great sections on prenatal nutrition, natural pain relief and the importance of the father's role as labor coach. This is a great read for Dad!

The Lord of Birth by Jennifer Vanderlaan--Yep, she does it again with another scripturally-solid read, this one more about the blessing of pregnancy and motherhood. Great read for when you are about nine months pregnant with heartburn, swollen ankles and Braxton-Hicks contractions and need to be reminded what exactly you are doing all this for!

Apple Tree Ministries--Informative and encouraging website devoted to providing resources to families opting for natural, scripture-based childbirth. Check them out here at

I also encourage you to head on over to Lindsay's website, and Stephanie's website at as both of these women have written some extraordinary posts on pregnancy and childbirth, including their personal experiences with homebirths.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Our Family-Favorite Meal--Pizza!!!

What's not to love about a steamy-fresh piece of pizza? My family loves it, and we eat pizza at least once a week. Although delicious, the average take-out pie is high-priced and questionable in the nutrtion department, so we prefer to make our pizza at home. I would like to share with you my favorite recipe:

Pizza Dough:

2 c. flour (I use 1 c. regular and 1 c. whole-wheat)

1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast, proofed for 5 minutes in 1 c. hot water with 1 tbsp. honey

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. melted butter (I recomend the real stuff, not margarine!)

1 tbsp. dried oregano or savory

Combine all dry ingreedients in a large mixing bowl; incorporate wet ingreedients until doughy. Cover with a bit of olive oil; cover bowl with a clean dish towel and allow to rise about 20 minutes. Turn dough out onto a greased pizza pan, kneading to the edges.

Now you're ready to build the pizza--here's what I do:

Spread the pizza with sauce--you can make your own, which I usually do, or use a store-bought sauce. I like Newman's Own Organic Marinara Pasta Sauce for pizza, and it's great for dipping breadsticks, too!

Add your toppings--our favorite combo is sausage, pepperoni, onion and black olives, as well as adding about 1/2 tbsp. dried red chili flakes. We love it spicy!

Top with cheese--we use a 5-cheese Italian blend for traditional flavor.

Bake your pie at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes; slice and enjoy!

What are some of your family-favorite meals?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Blessing the Lord Through Ministry

Many people hear the word ministry and get a bit nervous--"I don't have the time", "I'm not very creative", "I don't have the money", etc...

Ministry, first and foremost, isn't about having ample time, tons of money or a knack for creativity; it's about people! Ministry can be as simple as gifting a new neighbor with a pie and a welcome card. The goal of any effective ministry, large or small, is to connect with people to the glory of God.

One of the biggest factors that keeps women in the season of motherhood from ministering is indeed time! Of course, your primary ministry while in this season of life is your family, and what greater joy than that! However, it is important to minister, even in small ways, to others. This is a wonderful opportunity to share ministry with your children, to instill in their hearts a love for showing mercy and compassion to God's people.

So, what are a few ways a busy mom can minister to others in need? Here are a few suggestions:

Minister to New Neighbors: Maybe a new family has moved in next door, or perhaps you've never met your neighbors at all! What a wonderful opportunity to bless them, perhaps with some homebaked bread or a pie and a thoughtful "welcome to the neighborhood" card. I find this to be an easy, non-invasive way to present opportunities for more intimate get-togethers in which to share the Gospel message.

Minister to a New Mommy: After the birth of my oldest son, some lovely women from my church came to visit with me and baby, and blessed us with a beautiful knitted afghan, a homemade pie, cards with encouraging scriptures and ready-made casseroles for a quick, hot meal! These thoughtful ladies even included paper plate, napkins, plastic cups and plastic silverware, as to eliminate the need to wash dishes! What a beautiful way to minister to a tired new mom, thus allowing her to spend more time enjoying her tiny new blessing.

Food Pantry Ministry: This is a great way to involve children! Have them help you fill a large box full of food pantry staples: sugar, flour, beans, rice, canned goods, pasta, bread, etc... Don't stop there; when you drop off the food box, ask if their will be an opportunity for your family to hand out food packages to patrons. Some pantries even serve hot meals. This is how the children can feel the impact of helping others.

Pregnancy Care Center: Pregnancy care centers are Christian organizations that serve to pregnant women, often teens, who have limited financial means to support their pregnancies and a new baby. These centers offer a wide variety of services, including childbirth and basic baby care classes, counseling and guidance, ultrasounds and free clothing and baby gear. Many women arrive at these centers considering abortion, but find that there is help available to them to support baby and encouragement to mommy. Most of these centers are non-profit, donation-supported ministries. Consider volunteering time to help size, organize and put away baby clothes, or if you have old baby clothes that you are finished with, donate.

Of course, these are just a few suggestions for simple and effective ministry opportunities; the list of possibilities is endless! What does your family do for ministry? I would love to hear your ideas, as I'm planning on writing and publishing an e-book on the topic of family-based ministry. I can't wait to hear your ideas!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

"Do You Work?"--The Art of Homemaking Part 1

If you are like me, you probably get that question a lot! How does a stay-at-home mom answer that question? You know that yes, you indeed do work, but not according to the world's standards--i.e., no paycheck. But I want to encourage you, dear sisters, that you are doing the most important work of all! Scripture is clear in defining the woman's and the man's role in the home:

Titus 2: 4-5--"The older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame upon the Lord."

Proverbs 14: 1--"A wise woman builds her house."

1 Timothy 5: 8--"But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially the members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

It is God's desire, His perfect plan, that we women manage our households. There is a lot of pressure today for women to be successful in careers outside of the home. Often, women who chose to be homemakers are chastised and made to feel that they are not doing anything meaningful. (I'm sure you have all been on the recieving end of a comment that just made your jaw drop!) Ladies, I'd like to offer you some words of encouragement: What could possibly be more meaningful than fulfilling God's vision of a woman? Let us look at responsibilities of a homemaker:

1. Creating and maintaining a home environment that helps and encourages your husband to provide for his family, thus fulfilling his role as the man of the house.

2. Being available to nurture your children at all times.

3. Maintaining a clean, safe and comfortable environment for your loved ones, a safe-haven, a refuge, a place that they always want to be.

4. Providing nourishing meals for your family.

5. Staying within the limits of a budget.

6. Educating your children, if you choose to homeschool or not.

7. Instilling moral charachter into your children.

8. Modeling biblical womanhood to your children (important for both sons and daughters).

9. Training your children biblically.

This list goes on and on, but as you can see, the woman who chooses to keep her home is never at a loss for work!

Sisters, do not become discouraged with your very important position as homemakers, wives and mothers! Refuse to listen to the negative tounges of those who berate your work! Remember, although homemaking may not be the most glamorous or exciting kind of work, it is kingdom work, and you will truly be blessed through it!

This is Part 1 in a series of posts on The Art of Homemaking. Next time we will discover how to find contentment and joy in our roles as full-time wives, homemakers and mothers.

Friday, September 11, 2009

New Family Photos!

Just thought I'd share some new photos of my family with you--aren't they adorable?

Our Favorite Dessert--Tiramisu

My family's favorite dessert is tiramisu, an Italian dessert composed of ladyfingers soaked with expresso and a light-as-air cream cheese topping! Here's the recipe that I use:


1 pkg. ladyfinger cookies (you can substiute pound cake slices if you can't find ladyfingers)

1 pkg. cream cheese (8 oz.), softened

2 cups whipped cream ( I like to whip and sweeten my own)

1 cup strong brewed expresso

cocoa powder, for garnish

Arrange ladyfingers in the bottom of a glass dish (you may need to break them to fit); soak with the expresso. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whip cream cheese and whipped cream together on high until light and airy; you may choose to add more sugar at this time if you want it really sweet. Top the ladyfingers with the cream cheese mixture; dust with cocoa powder and refridgerate at least two hours before serving.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Scriptural Encouragement for Difficult Seasons of Motherhood

After eight blessedly peaceful months of baby Henry's life, the teething monster has reared it's ugly head!! These last few weeks have not been easy for me, dealing with the frustrations of a teething little guy that I can't seem to soothe, pregnancy related insomnia, aches and pains, as well as emotional outbursts against my kids and husband. Oh, Lord, how I have sinned against You and my wonderful family! With a heavily burdened heart, I have been searching for Scripture to help me through this difficult season of motherhood. This is what I would like to share with you:

Isaaiah 40:11--"He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers His lambs in His arms and hold them to His heart. He gently leads those who have young."

Proverbs 31:28--"Her children stand and bless her; her husband praises her"

Issaiah 40:31--"Yet those who wait on the Lord will gain new stregth; they will mount up on wings of the eagle, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not grow weary."

Matthew 11:28--"Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

Psalm 127:3--"Children are a blessing from the Lord, the fruit of the womb, a reward."

Psalm 40:1--"I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry."

Although motherhood is a beautiful, rewarding season of a woman's life, it is not always easy!!! Nor is it something you must endure alone: remember, cry out to the Lord, and He will give you peace, stregth and a new understanding of the privellege of being a mother! Ladies, this is something we certainly can't do on our own understanding.

Is anyone else going through a difficult season of motherhood right now? What Scripture has encouraged you?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Yummy Smoothie Recipes!!

Who doesen't love a refreshing smoothie? Smoothies are on heavy rotation in our home, as they are a great way to increase your fruit and veggie intake (and an easy way to sneak them into your children's diets!). I've compiled a list of my family's favorite recipes for you to enjoy:

Expectant Mama Smoothie:
1 c. vanilla yogurt
1/2 c. peanut or almond butter
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tbsp. honey, more if you like it really sweet
1 tbsp. flax seed oil, or ground flax seed
6 ice cubes
1 banana, cut into chunks
Blend all ingreedients until smooth; serve cold. Great source of protein for pregnant mamas, and the flax is a great source of omega-3's!

Strawberry-'Nana Smoothie:
1 c. vanilla yogurt
1 banana, cut into chunks
2 c. strawberries, hulled
honey to taste
6 ice cubes
Blend all ingreedients until smooth; serve cold. This one is a big hit with the kids.

Orange Dreamsicle:
1 c. vanilla yogurt
1/2 c. cream (don't substitute!)
3 tbsp. honey
3 oranges, peeled, chunked and pith removed
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
8 ice cubes
Blend all ingreedients until smooth; serve very cold, as this drink is best frosty.

Pumpkin Smoothie:
1 c. vanilla yogurt
1 c. pumpkin puree
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
dash nutmeg
honey to taste
6 ice cubes
Blend all ingreedients until smooth; serve cold. Pumpkin is an often overlooked but tasty source of vitamin C.

Caramel Apple Smoothie:
1 c. vanilla yogurt
2 tbsp. apple cider
2 apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. caramel ice cream syrup
6 ice cubes
Blend all ingreedient until smooth; this is a really sweet smoothie, so it's special-occasion-only! Go all-out and top it with whipped cream and chopped nuts!

Natural Pregnancy, Labor and Delivery Helps

After suffering from the consequences of having a highly-medicated pregnancy and delivery with my firstborn son, I've decided that all of my subsequent children will be carried and born as naturally as possible! I did have a successful natural childbirth with my second son, even though I delivered him in the hospital (our area, unfortunately, does not have any midwives available for home birthing). I am set to do it all again in early December, so I've decided to post on what natural helps have worked for me.

Good Coaching--this is first and foremost for a successful delivery! Of course, your primary coach will be your husband, but it doesn't hurt to have a little extra support! You may choose to hire a doula, a woman trained to help you progress peacefully through labor and childbirt, or perhaps just the support of a loving family member or friend. This can be extremely beneficial as it will take some of the stress off your hubby--remember, the birth of a baby is an emotional and exhausting time for him, too!

Rainbow Light Just Once Prenatal Vitamins--these vitamins, although horse pills, are the only ones I have tried that don't make me nauseous. They contain red raspberry leaf, a uterine toner, and ginger to combat nausea.

Traditional Medicinals Pregnancy Tea--this tasty tea contains red raspberry leaf, an herb found to be beneficial in toning and preparing the uterus for labor and delivery. I usually drink this all the way through my pregnancy, switching to nettle tea around the 32 week mark, as this iron-rich herb is helpful to increase iron in the blood.

Evening Primrose--at around the 38 week mark, I begin taking evening primrose capsules(these capsules are 500 mg. per capsule, and you take about 4 per day). Evening primrose contains prostaglandins, which soften and prepare the cervix for delivery. Be sure to ask your health care provider before taking evening primrose.

Lots of Exercise--try to aim for at least one hour a day, but don't overdo it! In my opinion, walking is the best exercise you can get, especially late into pregnancy, as it is easy on your joints, which are relaxing in preparation for birth, making it very easy to have sprains and strains. Also, try doing wall or partner-supported wide-leg squats to encourage the opening of the pelvis. I also enjoy stretching/yoga (no inverted or complicated poses) and prenatal workout DVD's like Denise Austin's Fit and Firm Pregnancy Workout. Remember, take it easy and BE CAREFUL as your growing belly will make your balance off!

Labor Supplies--as stated above, my first experience with childbirt was not a great one, as I was heavily medicated--no epidural, just heavy pain medication. The effects that this had on myself and my newborn made me rethink comfort measures during labor and delivery. Labor is difficult and exhausting, but not impossible! Here are a few good things to have on hand to ease discomfort:

1. Honey straws--honey straws are just that--little straws filled with honey! These are great to suck on during labor, since the sugar in the honey can keep your energy up, and they are not so heavy as to cause nausea.

2. Emergen-C or Coconut water--drinks full of vitamins, minerals and electrolytes to combat dehydration and restore depleted energy. Emergen-C comes in little packets, so you just add the powder in water. Coconut water must be kept cold.

3. Hot sock--a good way to ease the aches and pains of labor is with a hot sock--a clean tube sock filled with rice and tied off at the opening of the sock. Simply warm the sock in the microwave fo 1-2 minutes and apply to achy areas. This is great for back labor!

4. Tennis ball--can be used by your coach to apply pressure to sore areas, especially the lower back during contractions!

5. Encouraging Scripture to meditate on--check out this website: (look for my post on Scripture for Childbirth soon)

Well, that's what works for me--I would love to hear what has worked for you!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day!

Just wanting to wish all of you a happy and blessed Labor Day, from my family to yours!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Eating Well on a Budget Part 1

Becoming a mother has really convicted me of the importance of nourishing, healthy food! The consequences of eating too much refined and over-processed foods are frightening, and these types of "convenience" foods are often high-priced as well. I have personaly found it to be much more cost-effective to prepare much of my own foods from scratch rather than buying pricey frozen meals, mixes or boxed dinners. When I make my own food from scratch, I can be assured that I'm using high-quality ingreedients (whole grains, lean meats, fresh fruits and veggies) and not adding a bunch of junk(salt, too much sugar, and other nutritionally-void ingreedients).

But is it possible to maintain your family's food budget while feeding them nourishing whole foods? Some of the healthier options may appear more expensive, but consider this: it is an investment into the health of your family! With carefull planning, it is possible to maintain a budget while eating healthfully. Here's some tips:

Don't buy "healthy" pre-packaged convenience foods--often, these foods are just as bad as their mainstream counterparts, full of fat, sugar and sodium. A frozen pizza is a frozen pizza, organic or not! These items also tend to be more expensive than if you just bought the ingreedients and made your own. I can make a large pizza, making my own crust and pizza sauce, with 4-5 toppings for about $4.00 per pizza. That's quite a savings compared to a large frozen pizza at about $7.00 per pizza, or a take-out pizza at around $20.00 per large pizza! It tastes a lot better too! Some other pre-packaged foods to make yourself are waffles, pancakes, muffins, biscuits, even syrup using this recipe:

Try substituting beans for meat once in a while--this isn't always a welcome transition, especially for husbands or sons who love their meat, but preparing one or two meatless meals a week can cut down on food costs significantly. Try to make dishes featuring beans as flavorful as possible. I have found that if I whip up a pot of navy beans and add a generous ammount of garlic, onion and a bit of bacon grease for flavor, my die-hard meat-eating husband will devour them! You could also try baked beans, black beans and rice or falafel, a popular Middle-Eastern fried garbanzo bean patty that is loaded with lots of flavor. These are usually eaten wrapped in pita bread with a yogurt sauce. Try this recipe:

Make your own fruit juice--store-bought juices are often pricey and loaded with sugar! Try squeezing your own oranges and lemons at home for refreshing OJ or lemonade, or better yet invest in a juicer to make your own fresh fruit/veggie blends! (I'm searching for my own juicer right now at yard sales, but no luck so far) Some juice can easily be made in a blender, such as watermelon, pinneapple or strawberry, but of course that's not going to work with hard fruits such as apples! Here's my husband's recipes for pinneaple juice:

Fresh Pinneapple Juice

1 fresh pinneapple, peeled, cored and chopped

1 cup water

sugar or honey to your taste(remember, no honey for babies less than 1 year!)

Blend all ingreedients in blender on high; strain into a pitcher and chill.

Prepare soups, stews and casseroles--great way to use less meats and increase veggies!

Choose hot cereals over cold--oatmeal, grits and millet can be bought in bulk for a much lower price than cold cereal. Hot cereal is also more easily digestable, provided you soak it first: learn more about soaking grains here: and try this recipe for a yummy oatmeal breakfast:

Stay tuned for more tips in Part 2!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Prayer Needed for the Persecuted Church!

One of the the biggest problems facing Christians today is the plight of the Persecuted Church. Thousands and thousands of people around the world are persecuted, even to the death, daily for their Christian beliefs. What can we do as individuals to help these oppressed people? Here are some ideas:

Pray--make a commitment to pray daily for the Persecuted Church. I recieve weekly prayer bulletins from both the Voice of the Martyrs and the International Christian Concern. Voice of the Martyrs also has a program that helps concerned Christians write letters of encouragement to those who have been imprisoned for their faith. Go to and for more resources. Voice of the Martyrs also provides some beautiful resources and downloads for children at their website

Get the Word Out--sadly enough, many Christians aren't even aware of the needs of the Persecuted Church. November 8 is the date for the 2009 International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. This would be a good time to organize a time of group prayer on the church or community level, or if you wanted to really host an all-out event, Voice of the Martyrs has a Church Resource Kit available from their website to help you get started. The website is

Won't you join me in making a commitment to pray daily for our suffering brothers and sisters in the Persecuted Church?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Natural Helps--Garlic!

I love garlic and eat it in everything! But did you know that aside from garlic's amazing flavor it can also be used as a natural cure to many ailments? Neither did I, but upon further research I was pleasantly surprised to find that something I always have in my kitchen could be used in such a variety of ways!

Garlic, by nature, is an effective antibiotic and can even fight off scary infections like staph, e-coli and tuberculosis! That's some healing power! Some cultures, particularly in India, Africa and parts of South America, where refridgeration is a rarity, add garlic to their food as an antiparasitic. It has also been effective in maintaining proper circulation and blood pressure, preventing flu severity and against the common cold.

Practical Ways to Use Garlic

Eat It--this is no problem for me, as I love the taste of garlic and can happily eat a whole clove! For those who find the flavor of garlic too strong, try chopping up a clove and mixing with 1 tbsp. of honey or chocolate or caramel ice cream topping (this sounds worse than eating it straight!) Note: garlic is most effective when consumed raw ( sorry, no garlic bread won't work)

Garlic Essential Oil--works best for ear and throat infections and athlete's foot. You will have to use a carrier oil, such as sweet almond or even olive oil. Warm the oil and add one clove of crushed garlic; let sit about half an hour and then strain the oil. You can use a medicine dropper to put about three drops in the ear (make sure it's warm but not too hot!). Place cotton balls in your ear to keep it from draining out and let sit in ear for at least ten minutes. For athlete's foot, apply directly to affected area--it's smelly, but let it sit until your next shower!

Other Helpful Tips

Don't apply fresh garlic directly to skin, as it can burn. Use carrier oils.

For a baby, try crushing garlic to make a salve of sorts. Apply it to the soles of the feet, as the skin will allow the garlic's medicinal properties to absorb into the bloodstream. Works well for kids who don't like the taste of garlic, too!

Use your garlic oil, salve or fresh garlic immediately, and make a new one each time.

It's most effective to use garlic the MINUTE you feel cold or flu symptoms coming on. Don't wait until you have a full-blown infection.

Resources --a wealth of information on natural remedies, including some on garlic --good source of information on the specific healing powers of garlic.

The Power of Prayer

"Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it..." John 14: 13-14

One of my biggest goals for 2009 is to become a woman of prayer. Women underestimate the influence they can have in the world simply by being prayer warriors. As wives and mothers, the best place to start being a prayer warrior is at home, going to our knees at every opportunity to pray over our husbands and children. The enemy is constantly at work attacking your loved ones, just as he attacks you! Wouldn't it feel so much better knowing that you are constantly bathing your husband and children in prayer?

Helpful Resources

I have found the following resources helpful in my quest to bless my family with prayer:

"The Power of a Praying Wife" and "The Power of a Praying Parent" by Stormie Omartian-- two very helpful books full of ideas for praying for your husband and your marriage, and for your children and motherhood. Dad's can read the latter as well, as it is geared to both moms and dads.

31 Days of Praying for your Husband--a free download at

31 Biblical Virtues to Pray for your Children--another free download from Revive Our Hearts that uses Scripturally-based daily prayer for your little ones.

"A Mom After God's Own Heart" by Elizabeth George--a wonderful resource on bringing up children Biblically, that emphasizes lots and lots of prayer!

Ladies, I encourage you to join me in becoming a prayer warrior, especially in your own homes! Bathe your loved ones in prayer daily, and remember that praying for your family is never ever a waste of time, but the single most important thing you can do for them! We must always find time to pray for our husbands and children, just as we find time to cook them a meal or change a diaper. As a matter of fact, these would be good opportunities to sneak in a little prayer, as with other daily tasks. I encourage each of you to become women of prayer.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pasta Salad--Fast and Frugal Summer Meal

Pasta Salad is so light and refreshing on a summer day! Not only is it quick and easy to prepare, but, with minimal ingreedients, it's frugal as well! Here is the Vega family's favorite recipe:

Summer Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Olives and Salami

1 lb. garden rotini pasta, cooked according to package directions, drained, and set aside

1 large tomato, chopped

1/2 c. sliced ripe black olives

1 c. italian salad dressing (we use Kraft Tuscan Italian, or make our own--both are good)

hard deli salami, cut into chunks (use as much or as little as you like)

sprinkling of grated parmasean cheese

Combine all ingreedients in a large serving bowl; refridgerate for at least two hours prior to serving.

***Variations: you can replace the salami with cold, grilled chicken breast, white cannelini beans, garbanzo beans or grilled shrimp or scallops.

The Priceless Wife

"An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is like rotteness in his bones..." (Proverbs 12:4)

I have been following the True Woman 30-day makeover challenge over at , a thirty day journey through Proverbs 31 with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, and have discovered some amazing truths about the kind of wives we are called by God to be. Modern-day society would have us to believe just the opposite of the Biblical call to womanhood, but God does indeed have a concise plan for us to follow as women, wives and mothers.

As described in Proverbs 31, a wife does not bring shame upon her husband; she instead encourages him, building him up to his full potential. She is the behind the scenes cheerleader. She keeps everything running smoothly so he can focus on his God-given role of family provider. She doesn't nag or complain, but keeps communication open and gentle. She enriches his life, thus increasing HIS virtue.

Building up our husbands helps them to be more successful in their careers, their roles as husbands and fathers and ultimately, their roles as Godly men, heads of the household. You, as a Godly wife, wield much influence over your husband.

So how can we lift up our husbands? The first step is to examine ourselves! Before you begin to criticize your husband, first take a look at yourself: are there some things that you could change to be more of a helpmeet to your husband? Are you considering how some of your own actions may be causing your husband to act in ways that you find displeasing? We must remind ourselves that one of our most important roles is that of a submissive wife, and ultimately we are submissive to our husbands out of reverence for Christ. This is an important key to remember if you find yourself in a marriage relationship that makes it difficult to submit to your husband. Submission is really about pleasing God.

Ladies, I encourage you to bless your husbands! Help them to become men of virtue, men of honor and integrity. Help them be successful in everything they do. Don't forget to go to your knees daily to pray, to intervene for them! Remember to evaluate your own heart before you nag or complain. With your help, your husband can be the exact man you want him to be.

Further Resources

How can I encourage my husband today?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Insomnia and Pregnancy

Insomnia plagues a lot of pregnant women, myself included. It seems as if the further I progress through my pregnancy, the worse it gets, and this comes as no surprise considering that weight gain, heartburn, muscle cramps and more pregnacy discomforts make it next to impossible to sleep! I've been researching methods for improving my sleep quality, and here are a few suggestions that I would like to share:

Natural Helps

Chamomile Tea-chamomile is a naturally relaxing flowering herb that can often be found in tea form. I have found a steaming hot cup of chamomile tea with honey taken right before bedtime to be quite soothing. My favorite brand is Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Tea, which has a very mild, minty flavor.

Lavendar-lavendar is well-known for it's sedative effect and is commonly used for aromatherapy purposes. Try taking a warm pre-bed soak in the tub with 5-6 drops of lavendar essential oil, or try adding 2-3 drops of the oil to a washcloth and toss it in the dryer when drying bed sheets.

Light Yoga/Stretching-relaxes tight muscles, encouraging a more restful sleep. Yoga is also beneficial to stress: easing the mind before sleep keeps thoughts from racing all night, thus inducing deeper sleep. NOTE:avoid strenuous exercise at least two hours before bedtime, as it can make it more dificult to wind down and iterrupts sleep.

Choose the Right Snack!-pregnant ladies love to snack! (well, at least this one does!) Eating a light snack in the evening is ok, but be choosy about what you eat, and avoid eating too close to bedtime, as this can cause heartburn, a BIG cause of insomnia! Some snacks to try:

Turkey and crackers--turkey contains a sleep-inducing compound called tryptophan, and of course the protien is good for pregnant women. Whole-wheat crackers are best, as they are a complex carbohydrate.

Cheese or Yogurt--calcium prevents muscle cramps and promotes relaxations. Pregnant women need to consume a fairly high level of calcium daily. Another good option is a warm glass of milk, sweetened with honey, and perhaps flavored with vanilla, cinnamon or nutmeg.

Almonds or Cashews--Tree nuts are high in magnesium, which pregnant women need to consume in high levels along with calcium. Promotes tension relief. Nut butters are a good source of magnesium as well; try smearing a little on crackers or an English muffin.

A Small Bowl of Bran Flakes--high in fiber, another necessary nutrient, and of course, the milk is rich in calcium. Try topping the cerel with a sliced banana for a potassium boost, another natural muscle cramp reliever.

Other Tips

Don't dwell on it!-if you go to bed thinking that you won't be able to sleep, then you probably won't! Try to stay relaxed.

Don't get up!-this is a hard one for me! Its better to just stay in bed than get up and get busy, which will make you be more awake. If you absolutely can't stay in bed, do a quiet activity, such as reading, in a dimly-lit room. And if you watch TV, be mindful of what you watch--to much action can cause those endorphins to get revved up, making it nearly impossible to get back to sleep!

Pray!-use this time to commune with God. Sometimes when I pray and give all my cares and concerns over to God, I find it relaxes me enough to sleep better.

Write it Down!-writing down everything that you have to do the next day on your to-do list can ease your mind and keep you from dwelling on all the tasks you must do the following day.

What works for you to relieve insomnia? What natural remedies have helped you?