Monday, May 29, 2017

Avocado Tomato and Mango Salsa

I shared this recipe back in 2012 ..  I've made it several times since and it is always a hit.  Makes me think of warm summer days!  :)


I made this today to go with our dinner which was Green Chile Pork (another post to come). This salsa is amazing! It tastes so fresh and good. I plan to make it again and again. I ran out of my canned salsa from last summer’s garden and thought it was time to experiment with a few fresh salsa recipes and this one tastes so summery .. :) Perfect this time of year.

Here is the recipe…


Avocado Tomato and Mango Salsa


1 mango - peeled, seeded and diced
1 avocado - peeled, pitted, and diced
4 medium tomatoes, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped red onion

Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Mix up well and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.



Gather together ingredients (I made a double batch of the above recipe) …




Chop and put all ingredients and put in a bowl ..




Stir it up….




Refrigerate for 30 minutes (at least) to blend flavors. Serve with tacos, chips, meat, or anything that suits your fancy.. it is yummy….

Friday, May 26, 2017

Finding Purpose as a Homemaker (and in Life!)

Have you ever gone through a time where you struggled with your purpose in life?  As I've seen my children grow and move on with their own lives, I know I have.  I wrote this post back in 2013, and it still rings true for me today..   "no purpose in life truly fulfills the soul apart from God"


This has been a topic that has been on my mind a lot lately.  We will be dealing with some changes in our life at home soon (which I'll share at another time) and it seems that part of the decision making process has led me to think on our purpose in life. In this post I speak from the viewpoint of a homemaker because that is what I know personally.
Sometimes as a homemaker we find it hard to look at our life and see our purpose.  Especially when children are small and the days filled with changing diapers and tasks of the home or when the nest is empty and seasons change in our lives. Finding purpose in life as a homemaker may be a challenge. Or maybe not for everyone, but the hope of this post is to encourage us all in knowing our purpose. 
 

Finding purpose in life is one of those goals we don’t think about as we are becoming adults. It’s not like we say to ourselves, “I need a purpose in life”. We follow our dreams, goals, and interests because they fulfill “something” within us. That “something” could be called purpose. We go to school or training to find work in life that we enjoy. At least that is hope. I know people who have jobs that they don’t enjoy. But they go to that job for another purpose; to support themselves, their families or as a stepping stone to something else.


However to me finding purpose goes deeper than that. If we start with the Lord we will first realize that our main purpose in life is to ‘love God and glorify Him forever’ (Romans 11:36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. & Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!) . This really has nothing to do with a job, it is a spiritual walk. God does have a plan for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.) and He has given all of us gifts and talents. He wants us to use them and in doing so we bring glory to Him. Sometimes in life we are not even sure what our talents and gifts are. Sometimes it takes time for those to become known to us. Often times work is tedious, monotonous, and repetitive and many aspects of it may just not be all that fulfilling. But what people do each day is necessary for survival.


Thanks to Adam and Eve much of life is about work. It is about tilling the fields. It is about putting food on the table, a roof over our heads, and clothes on our back. I don’t think those that were tilling the fields to provide food for their families or working other difficult tasks for survival were necessarily thinking, “Well this is not fulfilling, so what kind of career should I consider instead”. Nope they were surviving. But they still had a purpose, they still had gifts and talents and God had a plan for them and their lives that through the work and the living of day to day life He would be glorified.


As a homemaker we can find many boring monotonous jobs in our day. But each day should not be a focus on this, but rather an opportunity to serve Jesus; an opportunity to “wash the feet of the saints” as we bless our families in our daily tasks (1 Timothy 5:10 well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work) . It will be through this journey that we will find our purpose. Because no purpose in life truly fulfills the soul apart from God. God will reveal our purpose, talents and gifts as we seek each day to love God and glorify Him forever.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Few Reflections on Raising Children

~ I wrote this post in 2011..  and it is still one of my favorites.  Raising children is a work of love, sacrifice and time..   All my children are grown up now, and yet those years, that I thought would go on forever, have flown by so fast.  Cherish each day mama .. 


(in between the paragraphs of this article are a few random pics of my kids/family through the years)..

Leanne left on Wednesday morning for Denmark to spend 3 weeks with Emily. To say I was stressed for those nearly 24 hours of flights and layovers is an understatement. She arrived safe and sound and is currently with Emily enjoying her time in Copenhagen. But it made me reflect a bit on raising children.





I thought it was tough when they were young. I had to make sure that the home was safe, no sharp objects for them to get a hold of, make sure the cleaning supplies were out of reach, keep the baby gates in place, teach them to play nicely and not be rude, obey the rules, potty training, diapers, nap times, sleepless nights, etc.. Then we move onto spending the nights with friends, outside influences and activities, and keeping a stable home and during it all you think, when they get older this will be easier, I won't fret so much about them… well not quite..…





Then they learn to drive! And you wait up for them, pace the floor not able to sleep until you hear the car pull in and they are home.




Or they join the military and are deployed.. You worry everyday for their safety and pray continually for them. And then praise and thank the Lord when they are finally home.

 



Some marry and have issues that you listen to and pray for and try and give godly advice. They have children and you now you have grandchildren who you think of and pray for.





And then.. some decide to go and spend a year in Europe! When you don’t see them pop onto Skpye or Facebook for several days you wonder.. is everything ok? And you pray some more… and then they call you and there is peace in your heart when you hear their voice.





And as I was taking my 19 year old daughter to the airport and putting her on what would be a nearly 24 hour flying and traveling experience with little contact.. well.. I prayed some more.. and realized that being a mom never does really come to an end. Your children’s well being is always first and foremost on your mind. And I also realized how simple it was in the days that the biggest challenge was keeping them away from the scissors and cleaning supplies and keeping them happy, well fed and living in a clean home.





Not to confuse simple with stress free.. no those days had their stresses too… I remember one day when I had several little ones in the home and I was pregnant with Jacob. The day was stressful and my father stopped by to see me. He saw my stress right away and said to me, “Can I take the kids for a walk?”… heck yes!! I said.. and as he was leaving with them all (after spending a half hour trying to find shoes and get everyone ready to leave :). .. he said to me.. “Remember Crystal.. These are the Good Old Days.. these are the days you will look back at one day and remember fondly”… aww.. such wonderful words of wisdom from my father. He passed away 5 years ago and I miss him terribly.






But how true his words were! And you know, one day I am sure I will look back at these current days and say the same thing.. “those were the Good Old Days”.





Moms… treasure EVERY day no matter how difficult, stressful or how hectic.. Believe me with 8 children I KNOW hectic and crazy.. .. But, really the years go by quickly and they grow up and new challenges come our way..So when I start to feel stressed by it all.. I remember.. treasure these moments today and ultimately I remember ONE most important fact…



Jesus is in control.. How awesome is that! It goes way beyond anything I can handle and it is so comforting to know that He cares for them more than I can comprehend. He is watching over my children and grandchildren!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Homemade Strawberry Jam

Hello Everyone! I'm finding it hard to keep up lately with my blogging, so I'm taking a little spring blogging break..

Hubby and I are planning a little vacation time as well during my break.

While I may not be here with my usual posts, I do have several posts to keep you going in my absence. They are past posts that I'm sharing again and I hope you enjoy them..

I will be back in a couple weeks or so, back to living my regular scheduled life :) and of course, blogging and sharing with you all.. Crystal 


~~ This is a post from 2014 and with strawberry season right around the corner here in the PNW, I figured it was timely..  Nothing beats homemade strawberry jam!!  :)



I was a little late in the season or getting my berries. It is the tail end of strawberry season here and the raspberries are now coming in. But I really wanted to make a few jars of jam. Nothing says summer sweetness like homemade strawberry jam. So my girls and I headed out last week to find berries. We found a produce store that still had them! So I grabbed a couple boxes…



That night I made my family strawberry shortcake for dessert (recipe here ) and the rest were used to make jam. While I was out I also grabbed a ½ flat of raspberries. The kids kept snacking on them (which is ok with me!! Need to enjoy them when they are in season). I used the remaining raspberries in some of my jam as well the next day.

If you’ve never made any kind of jam or jelly I have step by step instructions on my website for making a few different types of jam. You can find those instructions HERE. My son took a few pics while I made the jam.

I started by washing jars…


Then measuring and crushing berries. I used store bought pectin and followed the directions on the package as to how many berries and how much sugar.


I put the crushed berries on the stove and added my package of pectin…


Stirred this and brought it to a boil. Then when it was boiling I added the sugar…



Stirred again and brought it to a full rolling boil (one that cannot be stirred down) and let it boil for 1 minute. Then removed from the heat and began filling my jars, and wiping the tops, putting on a new lid and then ring…



Into the canner it goes. Jam is canned in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
After that I put the jars on a dishtowel to cool…


And that was it! I repeated the process a second time with my strawberries and the third batch was half strawberry and half raspberry. The measurements and amounts for strawberries and raspberries are the same.


It probably won’t last too long, but at least we can enjoy this summer sweetness a while longer.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wednesday Snap Shot















Wednesday Snap Shot is a quick peek into my week.

If you'd like to join in on my Wednesday Snap Shot.. copy and paste my post, add your answers (you can also copy the pic..BUT Please download the picture to your computer first.. do not just directly copy and paste.. otherwise you are using my bandwidth..thank you! :).. link your post to my blog and then come back and let me know you shared your week. I'll come and visit you and read about your homemaking week!! :)



So Far This Week
I so hope that all of you mamas out there had a nice Mother's Day. I had a very blessed day.

I've always had a little different view of Mother's Day. I consider myself a 'no fuss' mama. I don't put expectations on my children for this day. If they do extend themselves I find that a blessing. Over the course of the weekend I heard from all 8 of my children. Some texted me, some came for a visit, some called me on the phone.

Having children was my choice, loving them and caring for them was the most wonderful joy I could ever have had in my life. My children have returned that love to me over the years in many ways. And they do it all year round. They call me just to say hi, they come visit me just to sit and have coffee and talk, they text me just wanting to know how my day is going and what I'm cooking for dinner.. :) I feel loved and honored by all of them. I, personally, don't need a special day. I've been a mama now for almost 35 years and every day is special to me.

One thing I do miss this time of year is my own mama. She died about 20 years ago. I still miss her a lot. I miss our conversations, I miss not being able to see her face light up with the birth of each great grandbaby that she will never see, I miss that she has not been a part of my life for so long now. They say “time heals all wounds”, and I'm not sure I really agree with this. The raw, heartbreaking type pain does ease as the years go by. But, at least for me, you never 'heal' from the loss of someone you loved as each day you live, they are still gone, and will never be part of your life again. I cherish the many years of memories I did have with her. She was a special lady.

A picture of my mama... 




















On My To-Do List
My sister in law was here last week for a 3 day visit, and that was so wonderful. We are more then just 'sisters in law'.. we are sisters at heart. I've known her for many, many years and our love and relationship is that of sisters. I'm truly thankful for her in my life.

She is back here today, picking up her daughter from the airport and will spend another day or two with us before returning to Montana.

So my to do list is minimal for today. It includes more visit time with her and my sweet niece.


Projects I'm Working On
While she was here last week we started on the upstairs clean out project. We made headway and hopefully I can keep the momentum going and get everything organized and packed into boxes to take to Goodwill.



Today's Weather
After several days of rainy weather we are supposed to have a break for a few days.  This morning is cloudy and the prediction is for the sun to break out this afternoon, I sure hope so!  :)

High, 63
Low, 46



The View from my Deck (or window)



















What I'm Reading
With all that I've had going on with company and such, I still did not make a lot of headway through my weekly reading. I made a little progress, but not as much as I usually do.


What I'm Listening To
My hubby and his sister chatting and enjoying morning coffee.. 



Something Frugal I've Done This Week
Homemakers are not the only ones that are frugal in the family. My hubby is also very frugal. He recently noticed that he had a vibration in his car when driving highway speeds. He knew it could be one of a few various issues. Instead of taking it into a shop he solved the problem himself. Knowing his tires were at about the halfway point of their useful life, he decided to first try rotating them. He put the back wheels on the front, and the front on the back. Front tires wear faster then the back. His problem was solved.

He saved money on not having someone else figure out his problem, and he saved the time it would have taken him to go to a shop and wait for them to check things our for him. And the whole process took him one hour.


Fitness and Health for the Week
Sleep.. why is it so easy for some, and so difficult for others? I find sleep to elude me often. This last week I made concerted efforts to get better sleep. I went to bed earlier, I drank much less coffee (I had 1 to 2 cups of coffee and my second cup was made with half decaf coffee), and did not drink any coffee after 12:00 in the afternoon. This did help.

Sleep is an important part of our health. A good nights sleep will provide energy to our body and brain, we will function much better the next day, heart rate, breathing and blood pressure drop, you rebuild muscle cells (important especially if you exercise regularly), and I'm sure much more.

As I've gotten older I find I have to make more of an effort to make sure I get good quality sleep each night.





Monday, May 15, 2017

Menu Monday!














I had a lovely 3 day visit from my sister in law. We had so much fun just chatting and catching up on life. She left yesterday morning to spend Mother's Day with her mom. She will be back this week for a couple more days before heading home to Montana.

This weeks menu is looking pretty simple to me. My niece will also be here and has some lactose issues so my meals for the days she will be visiting will be dairy free.

I have some cooked chicken in the fridge that I need to use tonight. When I made chicken for my enchiladas lasts week I cooked extra. I'm going to use it some chicken noodle soup. I saved the cooking liquid when I cooked the chicken so I'm all set. Simmer some veggies and noodles and add the chicken and desired spices. I'll make biscuits to go with this meal.


The rest of the week is looking like this..

I've made this a few times and it is so good. The recipe uses coconut milk so I figured this would be a good dairy free meal. I'll serve a big green salad and rice on the side.


Pot Roast
I found beef pot roast on sale while shopping last week. I'll use my Instant Pot to cook this and add potatoes and carrots in the IP for the last few minutes. I'm thinking broccoli or fresh green beans and french bread would go well with this meal.


Meatloaf
A favorite stand by recipe. I plan on serving baked beans, mashed potatoes, broccoli, and a green salad on the side.


That should do it for the week!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Wednesday Snap Shot















Wednesday Snap Shot is a quick peek into my week.

If you'd like to join in on my Wednesday Snap Shot.. copy and paste my post, add your answers (you can also copy the pic..BUT Please download the picture to your computer first.. do not just directly copy and paste.. otherwise you are using my bandwidth..thank you! :).. link your post to my blog and then come back and let me know you shared your week. I'll come and visit you and read about your homemaking week!! :)



So Far This Week
We've had a lovely string of dry days. It has been so nice. Mowing finally was able to be done and we even spent a couple evenings down at our pond.

The water is still pretty cold, 58 degrees, but my hubby and I both got in for a few minutes. It was refreshing to say the least! Ha! :)

I was able to get out and walk which was so nice. Something about sunshine and a little warmth that soothes the weariness of a long winter and spring.


























On My To-Do List
Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time working on my house. I have company coming this week and wanted things in order. I still have a few things to take care of today. Later this afternoon I'll head to the grocery store to do my weekly shopping.

~Vacuum guest rooms and living room
~Fold a couple loads of laundry
~Cook dinner


Projects I'm Working On
Have not started anything new yet. But my sister in law is arriving this week and we plan to tackle some organizing and clearing of my upstairs closets.



Today's Weather
Another beautiful day in store for us. However I think this will the last one for a few days. Rain is again in the forecast. I've been ever so thankful for these last few days of sunshine. Slowly but surely we are moving into summer.

High 77
Low 53



The View from my Deck (or window)
This morning I sat on my deck and enjoyed my morning cup of coffee in my favorite coffee cup and soaked in the sun...





















What I'm Reading
Still making my way through the book of Psalms. And I'm still reading The Last of the Mohicans. With the sunshine calling my name this last week I did not read as much as I normally do.


What I'm Listening To
My wind chime.. I love the sound it makes. We have a slight breeze blowing this morning and it is letting me know it.. :)



Something Frugal I've Done This Week
Stopped at the recycling center on my way to town and took in my container of glass jars and bottles. Glass and other items such as plastic, magazines, aluminum cans, tin cans, etc.. can all be recycled for free. Saving money on garbage cost.


Fitness and Health for the Week
Walking and focusing on eating lots of fruit and veggies. Taking care of our body feels good. For some, like myself, it can be hard to make this a priority. Always so many other people and their needs can be around you. But taking time to care for myself is vital to me.

I can have good weeks and not so good weeks, that is not as important to me as just simply always making it a focus.. eat my veggies, eat my fruit, get out and walk, do a little yoga at home.. it really makes my days so much more productive and I feel good knowing I'm taking care of myself.


That is all for this week!!







Monday, May 8, 2017

Menu Monday!















We're enjoying a nice stretch of dry sunny days and it is just lovely. Today I have a busy day ahead with errands and an appointment.

Dinner tonight will be simple. I'm thinking stopping for a pizza while I'm out sounds like the simplest meal. I'll make a salad as well.


The rest of the week is looking like this...

Baked Beans w/Meatballs
I'll use premade meatballs from Costco and heat them up with some baked beans. I'll serve buttered pasta and a green salad along side this meal.



Chicken Enchiladas
I'll add beans and cooked sweet potatoes with the chicken for the enchiladas and use green enchilada sauce. Tortilla chips, salsa and salad will be served with this meal.


Spaghetti
Simple and good. Spaghetti will be served with veggies (I'm thinking brussel sprouts or fresh green beans), french bread and salad.


Asian Pork Ribs
I'm going to use THIS recipe. My daughter Emily, tried it and said it was good. I'll serve rice and veggies on the side.


That should do it for the week!



Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Wednesday Snap Shot




Wednesday Snap Shot is a quick peek into my week.

If you'd like to join in on my Wednesday Snap Shot.. copy and paste my post, add your answers (you can also copy the pic..BUT Please download the picture to your computer first.. do not just directly copy and paste.. otherwise you are using my bandwidth..thank you! :).. link your post to my blog and then come back and let me know you shared your week. I'll come and visit you and read about your homemaking week!! :)



So Far This Week
Last week I had an unplanned blog break. My life was just busy and hubby and I made a quick trip to see his mom and her hubby. It was a lovely visit.

And I spent time helping my daughter get all moved and settled.

This week I had many things to chat with you about. But, suddenly in life something horrible happens and nothing I had planned to say mattered anymore.

My dear friend Laurie, who I have shared about and shared her blog with you all, got the worst news a mother could ever receive.

Her 17 year old daughter was driving to work Monday morning when she was killed in a head on collision. The driver in the other car was distracted and went over the center line.

I've known Laurie for nearly 15 years now, I've seen her children grow up, I've seen sweet little people growing into adulthood. Oh how this tragedy has struck me so painfully. I could not even begin to understand the pain Laurie and her husband and children are going through. Mamma's and daddies are not suppose to be burying their babies.

Life can give us some horrible painful trials. The Lord's grace, mercy and love are needed in full measure to walk through them.

That is, I know, what my friend and her family are holding onto right now.. God and His strength.

Would you please remember Laurie and her family in your prayers this week. They have much to deal with right now.

A friend of Laurie's set up a gofundme account for them. I will post the link in case anyone would feel led to send them something to help cover costs.

https://www.gofundme.com/in-memory-of-natalie-bostwick


Today, take time to hug your husband, to hug your children or give them a call if they are not living at home, call or hug your grandbabies.

I want to live my life giving and showing others the love of Christ. Be loving, graceful, kind, generous to those around you each day. We are not promised tomorrow.

This is a picture of Laurie's daughter, Natalie .... who brought much joy and laughter and love to her family in those few short years...






On My To-Do List
Today I'm still in shock and feeling numb.. I plan to get out and take a nice long walk.  Perfect time to think, ponder and pray.
I will do a few things around the house to keep me busy..

~vacuum living room
~vacuum upstairs bedrooms and do some dusting
~clear clutter from typical clutter spots


Projects I'm Working On
At the moment I don't have any projects I'm working on. Now that my daughter has moved out it is time for me to go upstairs and clean out the closets and toss or give away items. My goal is to get it all in order, turn my daughter's bedroom into a 3rd guest room. The 4th bedroom is very tiny and I'll probably just use it as spill over space when the whole family is here visiting.

My sister in law will be coming next week to spend a few days with me. She always loves a good project and has said she is eager to help me with the clean up. She has a heart of gold and I'm excited to see her. It's been a while since we've seen each other.




Today's Weather
Oh sunshine!!  I'm feeling so grateful for this.  The sunny days have been few and far between.  And maybe tomorrow will be sunny as well. 

High 81, Low 60



The View from my Deck (or window)
It's so nice to finally share a sunny picture with you all..  :)





What I'm Reading
I'm half way through The Last of the Mohicans. I'm loving the book.

I finished the book of Job in my Bible reading and am now reading the Psalms.


What I'm Listening To
I love taking the time to just stop and listen.  No matter what, I hear something.  How easy is it to go through life in a hurry.  The saying, "Stop & smell the roses"...  well I think this applies to listening as well. 

With the lovely weather we are having today I have a couple windows open.  This morning I am hearing birds singing, I hear someone running a mower or a tractor, can't tell which it is.  A few minutes ago I heard a train going through the Gorge, not sure which side of the river it was on as the mountains on each side cause an echo.  I also heard a small plane going over. 



Something Frugal I've Done This Week
Frugality is a state of mind. It's the accumulation of the choices we make each day. Sometimes they are big things, sometimes they are small. This week I found some sales on meat while out grocery shopping, I used my aluminum foil dryer balls when doing my laundry instead of buying expensive dryer sheets, I've waited until I had several reasons to go to town before heading out (and saving gas money), I cooked my own dried beans instead of using canned beans, I've been using my citrus vinegar to clean my kitchen, my bathroom and mop my floors, we used cloth napkins instead of buying paper ones. These are things I've done for a long time now and they are part of my life. It is what accumulates into a frugal lifestyle.



Fitness and Health for the Week
Thankfully we've had a few more dry days here and there. I've been able to get out and walk and get my steps in. That has felt so good.

I've always wanted to do a little yoga. I found a few youtube's with beginners yoga classes on them. I've been doing a little of that. It is great for stretching and strength building. I will have to say as I've been doing it that it is harder then it looks!

I've also continued to move my diet more and more to a plant based diet. I'm loving the results. I have more energy, I sleep better, I've lost a bit of weight and feel great.


That is all for this week!!