Saturday, September 3, 2011

HEARTH AND HOME - September 3, 2011

Greetings, Dear Friends! And HAPPY SEPTEMBER!

Warm, sunny days, cool, crisp nights, colorful leaves, bonfires, corn shocks, apples, and pumpkins! All of these things remind me of FALL! And, hopefully, here in Southwest Missouri...after experiencing triple digit temperatures for weeks on end...it is finally on its way! Today is supposed to be the last day of really hot temperatures and a big cool down is expected as the tropical depression moves in. The extended forecast looks heavenly as daytime temperatures are supposed to drop into the 70's and low 80's with nighttime temps dipping into the lower 50's! What a blessed change!

I hope that you enjoy this latest issue of HEARTH AND HOME! Let's get started...shall we?
 
 HOUSEHOLD TIPS

* To freshen and  fluff pillows throw them into the dryer and run them through without heat (just air) for a few minutes. The tumbling will get rid of the dust and freshen pillows at the same time.

* Don't buy expensive buttermilk. Instead, mix 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice, shake, and you're all set!

*To clean and freshen drains pour 1/4 cup baking soda in drain. Pour 1/2 cup vinegar in drain. Tightly close the drain. Let rest a few minutes. Then flush with boiling water. Repeat until clear. To keep the drain free of buildup, flush weekly with 1/4 cup salt, then boiling water.
 

* Something that a friend shared with me recently, and something I also read about recently, that I would like to learn how to do and put into practice is flash-freezing. My friend already does this with summer squash. She says she pre-breads it first and she and her husband enjoy fresh fried zucchini all winter long. According to the article that I read I can snap up large quantities of meat, veggies or fruit at a deep discount, then use this process to freeze items at the peak of freshness. Later I can scoop out individual or family-size portions later for consumption without having to thaw the whole package. THAT sounds wonderful! To flash-freeze dice meat, vegetables, or fruit into small pieces. Place on cookie sheet lined with waxed paper and place in freezer for one to two hours. Once food is frozen, transfer to freezer bags, get all the air out, and return to the freezer. Viola! Ready when needed!

* Another thing that I read that I'd like to try is this: "Blend fresh herbs in a food processor, adding water until the bits come off the sides. Measure and spoon herbs into an ice cube tray, freeze, then dump the cubes into a freezer bag. Pop one out when a recipe calls for fresh herbs."

(Note: Thanks to my friend, Cheryl, for sharing the idea about flash-freezing the zucchini, and both of the other ideas and instructions were found in the September 23, 2011 issue of ALL YOU magazine.)

DOLLARS AND SENSE

* Financially we have had a lot of ups and downs over the years. At one time our credit payments were low  and we had a fair amount of cash put back for emergencies (actually...at one time our credit cards were non-existent because we didn't believe in them), but a couple of major catastrophes and within a short period of time all our resources were gone and our credit cards were maxed out...ALL OF THEM! We, who had always encouraged others to stay out of debt, suddenly found ourselves drowning in it with no way out. Unfortunately, we've not got our footing yet, but we're trying. August of this year is the first month that we've not had to put SOMETHING on a credit card to make it through the month in over two years. It's going to be a long, slow process, but we're optimistic. Here are some of the things that we're trying to incorporate at present:

1) First and foremost we're trusting in God. If there's one thing that we're certain of it is this...where there's a will...there's a way...and even in today's economy with God's leading and help we can and WILL overcome every financial difficulty that we are experiencing.

2) As a family we are going through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace Revisited and boy! Are we learning (or should I say 're-learning') a lot! At the moment we're trying to rebuild a small emergency fund while snowballing our debt on a small scale.

3) We're learning to prioritize. When life happens and things get all out of whack, it's amazing how fast common sense and good reasoning can go right out the window! That is...IF you let it...and we let it! We're learning to put first things first and we're learning to say, "No!" Never allow other people to force you into making bad decisions through guilt and fear. In the end YOU will be the loser.

4) We're cutting back on everything that isn't absolutely necessary. At least...that's our goal. We still get tripped up occasionally, but, overall, we're making progress and we're learning to do without a lot!

5) We're planning and strategizing...and this is hard for me. It seems that every time we make a plan, something happens and everything falls through, but, this time, we decided that, by the grace of God, and in the name of Jesus, and by the power of His Blood, we are forging on full-steam ahead! Nothing is happening anyway that He's not fully aware of and in control of, so what do we have to fear? Amen?



HEARTH AND HOME QUESTION

"Is your dream to be debt-free? 
If so, what are you and your family doing to make that dream a reality?"

For those of you who are already debt-free...
"What advice do you have for the rest of us who are trying to get there?"
If you don't mind me sharing your answer in an upcoming issue of HEARTH AND HOME send it to me at: proverbs31heart@yahoo.com and, please, put DEBT-FREE on the subject line. Thanks so much! ~Rebecca


IN THE GARDEN

* With the higher temperatures our garden ended up burnin up and we didn't get nearly the produce out of it that we had hoped for. For awhile we had an abundance of peppers and tomatoes, but, alas, even they are gone now. My husband has planted a few things for fall and hopes to get a better harvest then. By covering with plastic he is usually able to keep a few things coming in (spinach, lettuce, turnips, etc.) well into the new year.

* When raking leaves on a windy day, dampen the leaves slightly with a fine spray from the garden hose. They will not blow all over the yard, will be easier to put into a trash bag or container, and more leaves can be stuffed into the bag.

* My mums haven't fared to well this summer, but I do think I'm going to get to enjoy them a little bit anyway. For those of you who enjoy mums, here are a few tips...
MUM'S  THE WORD
*Plant mums in fertile, well-drained soil where they'll receive at least half a day of sun.
*Mums can be planted in spring or fall. Those planted early in the growing season have a better chance of establishing roots and are more likely to survive cold winters.
*In cold climates, mulch with leaves, straw, evergreen branches, peat moss or other organic materials after several hard frosts.
*In spring, use a rake to gradually remove mulch and old stems.
*Fertilize monthly during the early part of the growing season.
*Pinch back shoots when new growth is 4 to 6 inches tall. This encourages branching and helps develop more compact and bushy plants. Repeat pinching throughout summer as new shoots reach 3 to 5 inches. Stop around mid-July in Northern states and late July in Southern states. Then prepare to enjoy weeks of vibrant fall blooms.


RECIPES

* Friends have kept us well supplied with summer squash this year...zucchini, yellow crookneck, and patty pan...and those we have enjoyed to the max! Our favorite way to have them now...any of them...is oven-fried. We just slice the squash into 1/4 inch slices or french fry-shaped pieces, roll them in flour, lay them out on a pizza pan that has been drizzled with olive oil, drizzle a little more over the top, and bake in a hot (450 degree) oven. Turning once, bake until the squash is golden brown on both sides. When they come out of the oven sprinkle with a little salt and enjoy. We have used this as a main dish with other vegetables and bread accompanying, or, more often, we enjoy these as a side dish taking the place of oven-baked potato wedges (french fries) along side sandwiches, etc. Either way they're delicious!

* This luscious dip can be made up to two days ahead. Keep it tightly covered in the fridge until you're ready to enjoy it.

CREAMY GREEK FETA DIP

1/2 c. low-fat Greek yogurt (I make my own)
1/2 c. Miracle Whip Light
1/4 c. crumbled feta
1 tsp. dried dill
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Dash of hot sauce (optional)
4 cups assorted vegetables (celery sticks, carrot sticks, red or green pepper strips, mushrooms, etc.)

Combine yogurt, Miracle Whip, feta, dill, garlic powder, pepper, and hot sauce, if desired. Chill until read to serve. Serve with vegetables for dipping. (Serves 4)

* I've been enjoying smoothies for breakfast and snacks a lot here lately. This is my favorite combination...

STRAWBERRY FLAX SMOOTHIE

1 cup 8th Continent Original Soy Milk
2 tsp. milled flax seed
a handful of frozen strawberries

Place all in blender and blend until smooth. Delicious and refreshing!

* I think I've run this recipe every fall for years, but it truly is one of our special autumn treats. This year I'm running it with all the fat and calorie-reducing ingredient changes that I've made to it over the years.

PUMPKIN STREUSEL MUFFINS
1 3/4 cups unbleached or naturally white flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1  teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup cooked or canned pumpkin
1/3 cup canola or olive oil
1 package (3 ounces) fat-free or low-fat cream cheese cut into 12 cubes
STREUSEL:
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon cold light butter
In a bowl, combine the first six ingredients. In another bowl, beat the egg; add milk, pumpkin and  oil. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fill 12 muffin cups that have been sprayed with pan spray half full. Place a cream cheese cube in the center of each. Top with remaining batter. For streusel, combine brown sugar, pecans  and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until muffins test done. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to wire rack. Yield:  1 dozen.
Well, that's it for this time! It's been a joy to be with you again. I pray each of you a beautiful, blessed, and healthy holiday weekend!
Until Next Time,
~Rebecca

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