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What about those Jars?

We all have a way of our way of organizing things.  Some people use bins.  Others of us use drawers, filing cabinets, bookshelves, baskets, magazine holders, etc.  I have discovered that my thing is jars.  I love clear jars of all shapes and sizes, and I really love mason jars.  Their uses are unbelievable.

The thing about mason jars is that they are so inexpensive.  You can get twelve solid mason jars for about $7.99.  About four times a year, the Sunday’s paper has coupons in them for $2 and $3 off, which is a steal.  The bigger mason jars come in six packs, and there are usually coupons for those as well.  You really can’t beat the price.

I use the smaller mason jars anywhere from using them as drinking glasses, to storing spices, coconut flakes, chia seeds, and nutritional yeast.  The larger ones are used for grains, flour, sugar, different types of meal, legumes, beans, and cereal.  For some reason,  over the years, cereal boxes seem to remain halfway open, causing the cereal to get stale, and the remains to waste out.  I don’t have that problem anymore.

Mason jars are simple and functional.  And of course, I like the asethetic of those as well.  I would love to hear about what you use that keeps things simple and functional in your home.  Have a blessed rest of your weekend!

jars, organizing, oatmeal, beans, rice, sugar, simple, home decor

pipes, shelves, organization, jars, home decor

 

Now we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this surpassingly great power is from God and not from us.

2 Corinthians 4:7, Berean Study Bible

Well of Life from Perfectionism and Approval

We have all been found guilty of idols in our life.  Some of these surface idols cover up deeper issues.  Because of the trauma and rejection that was placed on me at an early age, my surface idol showed up as striving/ overachievement/perfectionism.  My deeper idol was to get approval from others.  It has taken me a long time to realize this.  When we lay our idols as Jesus’ feet, he quenches our thirst every single time.  Satan makes it his business to make us think that Christ isn’t enough.  The truth of the matter is, we aren’t enough without him.  Daily, we have to go to the tree of life, who is the only one who will fulfill us.  Be blessed!

rocks, reflection, wellness, inspiration, poetry, prayer
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The Quench

Lord, I want their approval.

My child, you’re filled with fear and doubt.

Just come to the well.

Drink from my everlasting spout.

 

 

Lord, I want their approval.

Don’t you see me on the hill?

With the woman at the well.

Her jar left quite unfilled.

 

 

Lord, I want their approval.

Oh my child, can’t you see?

They’re all broken and insecure…

Need some fixin’ at the tree. 

 

 

Lord, I need your approval.

Oh dear child, you can see.

All your striving and perfecting,

Doesn’t mean a thing to me.

 

 

It’s by grace that you’re saved.

Not by works.

You can’t boast.

And I love you.

Yes, I love you.

Oh, I’m loving you the most.

 

Upcycling Jars

Whether it is something that I need or desire, I always think of Elijah and the widow in the bible.  God always adds on to what we have when we start with what we have first.  I have been guilty of thinking so much of what I don’t have, that I have missed out on looking at what I do, and seeing that I am in the right position for praying, and allowing God room to do the rest.  Elijah convinced the widow that although she had a little meal and a drop of oil left, if she believed, and fed him first, her and her son wouldn’t die, and there would be enough food left over for them as well.  Sure enough, God provided.  As a matter of fact, they ate for several days.

Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lordsends rain on the land.’”

15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family.

1 Kings 17: 13-15, NIV

One of the bonuses to some things that we have in life, is that they can be upcycled and used for so many other things, that we could possibly write a whole book on them.  I think that jars would fit into this category.  A couple of years ago, I was looking for something to place on the trunk in my bedroom, and of course, it was one of those times when money was scarce.  I started walking around my house, and wondering if I had something in one room that I could swap for a new home in my bedroom.  

I didn’t find anything, but what I did find was a relish jar and pasta sauce jars that hadn’t gone to the recycle bin yet.  My mind got to going as it does when I get into creativity mode.  I cut out pictures from my French book from high school, and with the little change that I had, I bought a small container of Modge Podge for about $2.50 with a coupon from Michaels, and the rest is history.

 

home decor

upcycling, reuse, Modge Podge, crafts, used jars, home decor

 

Activity:  Creating vintage jars

Materials:

  • Used jars (home)
  • Books or Magazines (home)
  • Modge Podge $2.50 (Craft Store like Michaels)
  • Foam Brush (home or craft store for $.25)

Instructions:

  • Wash jars and dry thoroughly.
  • Cut out the pictures that you need.
  • Using a foam brush, place Modge Podge all over each of the jars.
  • Place the pictures on the jars.
  • Use Modge Podge to cover the entire surface of the pictures so that they will stay attached to the jars.

Turkey Burgers and Potato Wedges with Tomatillo Sauce

I absolutely love turkey burgers and french fries with ketchup.  For the last couple of months, it seems as though I have experimenting with all different kinds of ingredients for turkey burgers.  I have finally decided that this recipe is the one that I like best.  My teenage daughter says that she thinks that I just get a kick out of mixing things together.  That is probably true.  One thing that I noticed about this recipe is that if you add a little bit more water than what is required for the flaxseed mixture, then the burgers turn out really moist.  Even more important than the recipe, is engaging and enjoying family and friends.  This is one meal where everyone can get involved in the process.

 

Activity:  Making Turkey Burgers and Potato Wedges with Tomatillo Sauce for Dinner

Total Prepping and Cooking Time:  60 minutes

turkey burgers, flaxseed meal, turkey burgers, nutritional yeast

Ingredients: 

  • (1) 18 oz.  container of oatmeal  – $2.00
  • (2) 16 oz. packs of ground turkey – $5.99
  • four tablespoons of nutritional yeast (4.0 oz of nutritional yeast is $2.50 at Whole Foods)
  • 4 tablespoons flaxseed meal – $3.79 for 16 oz. bag
  • 1 container of oregano – $1.00
  • 1 container of cumin – $1.00
  • 1 container of parsley flakes – $1.00
  • 1 container of onion powder – $1.00
  • 1 container of chili powder – $1.00
  • (1) container of regular butter , vegan butter, or olive oil (for potatoes and frying the burgers) – $3.80
  • (1) bag of potatoes – $1.99
  • 2 lbs. of tomatillos – $1.50
  • 1 bunch of cilantro – $.50
  • 1 jar of minced garlic – $1.90
  • 2 packs of cheese – $5.00
  • 2 lbs. of tomatoes – $1.99
  • 2 loaves of bread – $3.50

Total Cost: $ 39.46

Cost per day: $9.87, family of three

Cost per day: $19.73, family of six

cheese garlic, olive oil, parsley

Estimated Duration of Food:  2 days for a family of 6, 4 days for a family of 3

turkey burgers, cheese, healthy living

 

tomatillo sauce, turkey burgers, food, healthy living

Directions:  

  • Preheat the oven at 425 degrees.
  • Rinse and cut up about 6 potatoes into wedges, placing them in a bowl, and covering them with olive oil or butter, taking a wooden spoon, and turning them to make sure they are completely covered.
  • Sprinkle oregano and chili powder all over them, and toss with wooden spoon again.
  • While the potatoes are in the oven, cut up two pounds of tomatillos into wedges.
  • Pour olive oil on them, and place them into the oven, setting the timer for twenty-five minutes.
  • Place the following into bowls:
    • cumin
    • onion powder
    • chili powder
    • parsley
    • 1/2 cup of cheese
    • 1/2 cup of oatmeal
    • 4 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
    • 2 lbs. of ground turkey
    • 4 tablespoons of flaxseed meal mixed with 10 tablespoons of water – equivalent to four eggs 
  • Dump the cumin, onion powder, chili powder and parsley on top of the ground turkey meat.
  • Add the oatmeal, nutritional yeast, and flaxseed meal mix.
  • Fold in the cheese and make the patties.
  • Pour oil into the skillet, and place the six patties in the skillet.
  • While the burgers are going, you can place the tomatillos, a bunch of cut-up cilantro, minced garlic, and olive oil into a blender or food processor to make the tomatillo sauce.
  • Toast the bread or buns.
  • Cut up the tomatoes.
  • Take the potato wedges out of the oven.
  • Once the turkey burgers are ready, place shredded cheese on top first, and then the tomatillo sauce on top second.
  • Place tomatoes on top.
  • Fellowship and enjoy!

 

 

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Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?

Matthew 6:26, NLT

Oatmeal Bowl

I find that there’s nothing as comforting than something warm and soothing in your stomach in the morning.  For me, a bowl of oatmeal seems to do the trick every time.  This recipe is just what you need to get the day going.  Ideas for variety for this oatmeal bowl would be switching out the pumpkin seeds for sunflower or other seeds,  trying goji berries, golden raisins, and other fruit.  On some days, switching out the oatmeal for  grits, polenta, or malt-o-meal might interest you as well.  Brazil nuts can be swapped with walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, etc.  

The thing that I like is that you don’t need to use a lot of the ingredients to get in all of your nutrition.  Just the quinoa alone gives you a great protein boost.  Plus, I love the colors that are in this bowl.  Yes, I do like the aesthetic appeal of things.  Just as a tip, quinoa, oatmeal, coconut, and chia seeds are inexpensive when you buy them by the bulk, or you can go to places like Whole Foods to scoop them in your storage containers or bags.  I just recently learned this secret. 

For example, I measured out about $1.30 worth of chia seeds, and it’s been almost three weeks since I bought them, and I still have some left over.  I have found out that every store has certain things that they sell that are inexpensive compared to others.  The sacrifice is the time and energy involved in finding out what items are cheapest in what stores.  If your valley is financial like mine, it is worth the adventure and planning.  Happy eating!

oatmeal bowl ingredients, chia seeds, coconut flakes, quinoa, raisins, vegan bowl

Activity:  Making an Oatmeal Bowl

coconut flakes, fruit and nut bowl, oatmeal, quinoa, healthy living
Oatmeal Bowl

Total Prepping and Cooking Time:  20 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • (8) 42 oz.  containers of oatmeal  – $24.00
  • scoops of coconut flakes –  $3.00
  • scoops of chia seeds  – $3.00
  • (1) bag of pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds  – $8.00
  • (5)  lbs of quinoa  – $16.00
  • (1) 24 oz. container of honey  – $2.20
  • (1) container of regular butter or vegan butter (I like Earth Balance.) – $3.80
  • (6) cartons of milk – $15.00
  • (1) pound of brazil nuts – $16.00 (excellent source of selenium)
  • (2) cartons of raisins – $6.00

Total Cost: $ 97.00

Cost for one day: $3.23

Estimated Duration of Food:  1 month for a family of 4 to 6, 2 months or longer for a family of 1 to 3

Directions:  

  • Boil two pots of water, one having just water in it, and the other, along with quinoa. 
  • While the water is boiling, place the following in small, clear glass bowls, or whatever bowls that you have:
    • coconut flakes
    • pumpkin seeds
    • chia seeds
    • raisins
    • brazil nuts
    • honey
    • butter
    • milk
  • Chop up about three brazil nuts, placing them back into the bowl when finished.
  • Add the oatmeal to the boiling water.
  • After quinoa is done, you can drain off excess liquid with a strainer, and place it into a clear bowl.
  • When oatmeal is ready, add butter and milk.
  • Pass out the bowls and everyone can add their own toppings.
  • Enjoy!

I have been young, and now am old,
    yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
    or his children begging for bread.
 He is ever lending generously,
    and his children become a blessing. 

Psalms 37: 25-26, ESV

Penne Pasta with Spinach

Here at Valley of Grace, our main goal is to instill hope while you are in your valley, whatever that may be, and lead the way with ideas for living simple, functional, and grace-filled lives.  That includes healthy, inexpensive recipes that will save you time and money.  I cooked the following recipe of penne pasta with spinach the other night, and my daughter and I enjoyed it.  As of lately, I have decided to make everything from a vegan base, since my daughter is vegan, and then, if we need extra protein for my son and I, I can always add ground turkey or chicken.    This also helps to save money.  However, for this recipe, I didn’t make any on the side protein additions.  I hope that you will enjoy!  Blessings!

pasta, food, mushrooms, vegan, spinach

Activity:  Cooking Penne Pasta with Spinach and Mushrooms for Dinner

Total Prepping and Cooking Time:  40 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 1 box of penne pasta  – $1.00
  • (2)  15 oz. cans of low sodium pasta sauce –  $3.00
  • (1)  .75 oz of parsley flakes  – $1.00
  • (1) .75 oz of onion powder  – $1.00
  • (1)  .75 oz of oregano  – $1.00
  • (1)  8 oz. of mushrooms  – $2.20
  • (1) 13.5 oz can of cut spinach – $.80
  • 1 container of butter or bottle of olive oil or vegan butter – $3.69

Total Cost: $ 13.69

Cost for two days: $6.85

Cost for four days: $3.42

Estimated Duration of Food:  2 days for a family of 4-6, 4 or more days for a family of 1-3

spinach, mushrooms, healthy eating

pasta, food, healthy living, vegan

Directions:  

  • Boil the water for the pasta in a big pot or saucepan, along with one tablespoon of butter or olive oil so that the pasta doesn’t stick.
  • While the water is boiling, you can drain the can of spinach and add the spinach to a nonstick pan with olive oil or butter.  If you like minced garlic, you can also add this to the spinach.  
  • Heat up the spinach for about ten to twelve minutes.
  • Add the pasta to the boiling water, and after about 15 minutes to 18 minutes, the pasta will be ready.
  • Drain the pasta, and then add the two cans of pasta sauce, along with all of the spices above, and two tablespoons of olive oil or butter.
  • Rinse the mushrooms and place them in a skillet, or whatever pan you have, along with butter.  
  • Cook the mushrooms for about 12 to 15 minutes, and then add the mushrooms and spinach to the pan of pasta.
  • Stir and eat!

Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God:

 Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever:

Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The Lord looseth the prisoners:

 The Lord openeth the eyes of the blind: the Lord raiseth them that are bowed down: the Lord loveth the righteous:

 The Lord preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.

The Lord shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the Lord.

Psalms 146: 5-10, KJV

Reflections and Revelations

Do you ever have those moments where you sit back, relax, and reflect on what God has done, and is currently doing in your life?  I do.  Majority of the time, when it happens, it is usually right after waking up first thing in the morning, and my mind is fresh with ideas.  I call this my time of reflections.  There are other times that it happens right after taking a much needed walk outside on a breezy, summer evening.  These walks have helped me to refocus my thoughts and regain a sense of being centered again.  I can give myself permission to take note of all of the things that God has created, and feel his presence at the same time.  The poem below was written after having a trying day, and me pressing into Jesus for comfort and reflection on the important things in life.

backpack, inspiration, reflections, freedom
Photo by Nina Uhlu00edkovu00e1 on Pexels.com

The Revelation

When our focus is on you,

Then our life begins anew.

When we see there is no coincidence,

There is only divine Providence.

 

When we listen for God’s perfect plan,

Then we’ll know that he is the only Man.

Who can fulfill all our needs,

Have people plant all those seeds.

Work at erasing all those greeds.

 

They say that the best things in life are free.

I had to think to myself,

“Is this what I believe?”

Stop, focus, and count to three.

 

But I opened my eyes and then I saw.

He pulled away the layers and he stripped me raw.

I could feel my eyes fill up with tears.

As he bent down low,

And whispered into my ears.

 

“Have you heard?

Contentment is the secret word.

I AM enough!”

 

 

But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.  Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 

1 Timothy 6:6-12, NIV

 

 

 

Our Burdens and Grief: His Plans

I am often amazed at how we think we have our days all planned out down to the minute, and then, out of nowhere, things get shifted around.  Oftentimes, it comes down to one phone call, a text, or an encounter with someone that changes our plans to God’s plans.  Our focus shifts over from our plans to our backpack of burdens.


For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)

About a year and a half ago, I had a day of fighting with grief off and on.  I decided that after not feeling any better, I needed to take a walk, get fresh air, and get out of my own thoughts.  Walking to the beach to watch the sunset seemed like the perfect idea.  After walking a few feet, I ran into my neighbor, and after our encounter, God pressed upon my heart to write this poem, dealing with our backpack of burdens.

Christianity, backpack, poetry, burdens, prayers
Photo by Tobi on Pexels.com

 

Providence

 

Lord, what did my plans look like for tonight?

It was watching your sunset with a ton of delight.

As I walked out the door, the sky grew dark.

Should I walk to the beach, or fly home like a lark?

 

I walked a few feet and ran into a neighbor.

Then taking my bag of grief, you whispered, “No labor”.

Catching up on life, we talked for a while.

A bless you, a wave, and it ended with  a smile.

 

Lord, what did my plans look like for tonight?

Sharing my backpack of burdens, making my load ever so light.

 

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

(Galatians 6:2, KJV)