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Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Meal Planning

Ah, now this can be boring, you say? Yep, but is a great way of saving time, and also saving money! Ever been in the supermarket procrastinating, and wondering if you have enough meals for the week, and then throwing an extra meal in the trolley? Trouble is, it ends up costing more, and kills creativity. What about using the stuff we have left to make into a meal. Something different, even?
I don't cook the same meals every week. I try to vary it. I think some of us can remember from our childhood, having set meals on set days. Not that it is a bad thing, but it can become a bit predictable, and let's face it 7 meals the same is not exactly exciting!
There are several staples on my shopping list. Apart from the obvious, I always buy pasatta, minced steak, and free range chicken. Pasatta is so versatile. I can use it for tortillas, lasagne, bolognaise, pizza, soup.....the list goes on. As for minced beef steak, I can make at least 5 different meals out of it, and we always have once, or twice a week, rotating the meals.
The mince can be used to make tortillas, cottage pie, bolognaise, chilli con carne, and lasagne. Guess what? I also use pasatta in all of those dishes;0)
So, that is what we have one one, or two days of the week. It will take at least a month before one of those is repeated. One thing we have almost every week, is free range chicken, and I make a stew out of the bits, bobs and bones the next day. Really yummy served with fresh rolls.
That is 3-4 meals sorted. Once, or twice a week we will incorporate a simple meal into the menu. Home made pizza is a favourite, and we often have this weekly. Great, cos you can use anything to go on top. Another simple meal might be pasta bake, home made quiche, or eggs chips, and home made baked beans.
Another choice is fish and chips, home made fishcakes, home made fisherman's pie, or just salmon.
All we have left is a sunday dinner choice, and I like to have my sundays simple. So, often we will have a slow cooked casserole, cottage pie, or just a beef/lamb joint, or lamb chops.
When I have time, I like to experiment with new dishes. If we like them, then I put them in my special book.
I find once you have sorted a week's menu out, the rest falls into place quite nicely. Try making a list of all the possible dishes. I came up with about 30! Always open to new recipes and ideas, so please give yours in the comments.

Are we Making Work for ourselves?

There is a verse in Luke 12:27 '' Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.''
Matthew Henry says, '' Our inordinate cares are owing to the weakness of our faith; for a powerful practical belief of the all-sufficiency of God, his covenant-relation to us as a Father, and especially his precious promises, relating both to this life and that to come, would be mighty, through God, to the pulling down of the strong holds of these disquieting perplexing imaginations.''
Now you may think, what on earth has this to do with making work for ourselves? However, if our expectations of what we actually need are wrong, then it can throw our whole life off kilter. Are we grasping for what the world has, are we looking to the world's standards in what possessions we own? This is one of the areas we can end up making work for ourselves, as we are constantly trying to keep up.
Worry will waste time, and this verse is a good reminder that we don't need to worry, it is infact futility to worry.
So, now we are off on the right foot, can we see ways where we are actually making work for ourselves, or even wasting time.
One thing is for sure, as the mother of ten lively children, it would be futility for me to expect my house to be pristine 24/7. Nothing wrong with a clean, tidy house, but to constantly keep fretting about it will not help!
Worry not only is damaging, but it wastes time, too! Easy to say, not always easy to do. When a worry comes up, I am mindful of the verse to cast all your cares on God.
Are we busying ourselves for the sake of being busy, or is the work we are doing necessary? Some will say facebook, and other networking sites are timewasters, but so is watching idle TV shows and doing jobs that are not even needed. We need to evaluate each thing, as it comes. For example, TV may be a time waster, or it may be edifying. What is definitely wrong, is if we are watching soaps, and unedifying programmes which seek to tear people down. Also, if we are on sites such as Facebook just to gossip. Not just a time waster, but also sinful, and at one time, I think we have all been guilty.
There just isn't enough hours in the day, is there? So I establish a priority for what needs to be done. First, I make sure the washing is done before bed, and if necessary more is put on in the morning. That way I can put it out as soon as possible. Then I make sure the meals are planned for the week. That way, I can do my weekly shop easier, and don't waste time. Then the next goal is cooking the evening meal, and dessert, and making sure the schoolwork is done in between. Chores are done throughout the day, and I have to insist they are done. Getting our priorities will save us from wasting time, and having a routine will give order. For each of us, these will differ. So, we need to look carefully, and ask yourselves, am I doing needless chores, where am I making extra work for myself, and how can I be more efficient, do it quicker. After all this is what all the most sucessful businesses do, and something that constantly needs to be evaluated.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

What about Me?

In the Fall edition of The Old Schoolhouse magazine 2008 Amy Roberts wrote about the ‘Me Time Myth.’ It is the idea that as Mums we need to have time away in order to be able to give. Everywhere you read, in magazines, on television, is the idea of me, me. Put me first they say and the rest will follow. The so called parenting experts will tell us that if we don’t take time out our children will suffer.

So, how true is this claim? It says in Colossions 2:8 "Beware, lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."

Now, from a non Christian point of view, the world teaches us that we should look after our selves first. Of course a non Christian is not living in view of eternity, so the best they can do, is to make life as comfortable as necessary. On the other hand, we as Christians are not supposed to live for this world, but to look for our blessed hope, in heaven. We were called as servants for Christ, and in serving him we find joy, as we are free indeed. When we homeschool, it is going to take a lot more of our time, and we all have different family need, some having larger families, or sick children, or even may battle with illness themselves. So if we are not able to have time away, then what happens then? Do we feel resentful, or angry. I have been there, years ago, when I had 4 children, 4 and under, and my dh was away long hours. People would say, ooh, you need time to yourself you know. I began to think perhaps that was right as well. If we are not right in our attitude to our husband and children, then we are going to be resentful, if we however seek God first, then we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. I find that when we neglect God’s word we suffer. I guess it isn’t the bread of life for nothing! If we don’t eat, likewise, then we get weak.

We can be fulfilled in our calling as home educators, and we can find fulfillment. Think of the souls we are influencing, for God’s kingdom. What joy in heaven to be joined by our children! Jesus served, and humbled himself on earth. He was not born in grand surroundings, he lived in a normal home, and he served others. Oh, that we could have a serving spirit. I have a long way to go, mind you. If we take our burdens to Jesus, then he will refresh us and grant us peace and joy. The road is not always easy, and of course the world will scoff, as they cannot see our reason, they are blinded.

I would welcome any reflections, or thoughts on this. I am not being judgmental, but only seeking to encourage us all to first seek the Bible, and not be turned away. I would also say we all have times where we just need some time out. I had it recently with my youngest, as I had been dealing with teething night after night... I felt refreshed after a date with hubby. If you do not have a baby sitter, then often a walk, or just a hot bath while hubby watcheds the children helps!

Monday, 19 March 2012


Everyone who knows me, knows I am not arty. I haven't an arty bone in my body. So, what I do, is I encourage the children to express themselves, and find their own way. One way which has really encouraged them, is giving them cameras, and of course with digital photography it is really easy to edit and delete. So, when they are around 9, I buy them a camera for Christmas, and when they are about 10, or 11 they get a camcorder. The best camcorders are the tape ones, and sadly you can only get them second hand now. However, you can get a really good one for £50 on ebay.
You would be surprised how it really encourages their creativity, and they will do interesting things, in the name of taking an interesting photo.
Take this one for instance:
Yup, that's right, it really was the face on our cat at the time, and the children decided a caption would be perfect!

Then there is just the plain crazy!
They are learning so much, and are now making their own short films. Cherry the eldest, has been learning about blue screen, and editing for film. She even composes the music, and dubs over. Quite clever really, and when they have their film nights it is quite entertaining.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012


In January, we visited Boston, on the South/East Lincolnshire coast. In case you don't know Boston is one of the places where the Pilgrim fathers sailed from. Why did they want to leave? Well, they saw England as more and more ungodly. They were persecuted from the Church of England, and became known as non conformists.

In 1607, a man to become known as Captain John Smith was born, in Willoughby, about 20 miles north east of Boston. He was the leading character, that founded Jamestown. Also, in 1607 a group of seperatists hired a Dutch vessel, to take them across the river Witham. Now, they were in one boat, and their wives in another, and the boat with the wives in became grounded, leading to their capture. They were however allowed to continue to Holland, and in 1620 boarded the Mayflower, and founded the Plymouth plantation.

By 1629, some 10,000 had left!