To the Mom doing church in the lobby…

One Sunday, I chose to bring my cranky older baby into church. He was feeling clingy and getting a tooth. I knew him well enough to know that there was no way he’d last more than 10 minutes in the church nursery before I was paged to pick him up.

I knew this because I had been paged 10 minutes after dropping him off in the very crowded nursery for the last 4 Sundays, and this was the worst mood yet.

As we walked in before the service started, he was already fighting my grip and monopolizing the noise in the room. After being up with him the night before, we had overslept and were attending the busiest late-afternoon service. We live in a college town, and we felt like the oldest (and youngest) people in the room.

The auditorium was almost full, but we managed to find a couple of empty chairs on an aisle while we made our loud, dramatic entrance. As we slid into our seats, I glanced down the row. There was no smiles or sympathetic nods from other mothers; actually, the entire row of college students next to me looked ready to move to new seats! (Nothing makes a room full of 20 year-olds more uncomfortable than a crying baby.)

Once the music kicked up and the lights dimmed, that was it: my son started wailing. He and I found ourselves out in hall within minutes, me feeling a little ostracized, him feeling relieved. We never made it back in. After getting everyone dressed, fed, and out the door, I attended church for less than 5 minutes that week.

After a long week of not enough sleep and not enough adult interaction, an intense hour of parenting out in the lobby is not where I wanted to find myself that Sunday morning. I was left feeling torn between worshiping in the way I wanted to be and fulfilling my part in the role God chose for my life.

Some babies just insist that no nursery worker or children’s minister can take mom’s place, not even for a half hour. That was my child. He absolutely refused to be pacified. There was no toy, no snack, no way to be held or rocked, and no distraction from his anxiety. (People say it’s just a stage, but that doesn’t really help when it’s happening to you.)

It was a little embarrassing. I would stand there in the lobby holding my screaming child and watch as a dozen kids the same age as mine went happily into the nursery while their moms freely walked away. In that situation, you can’t help but wonder what the heck you are doing wrong.

(I realize now, his obstinance was not entirely because of my parenting. Part of it is just him being who he is. I only had so much control over my son, even as baby or toddler. Some kids are always happy in the nursery, others kick up a fit the entire way through preschool or beyond. Parenting itself is only a portion of what contributes to this behavior. A big part of it is just the child’s personality, tastes, and stage in development.)

Looking back on it, I realize that my own expectations for smooth Sunday mornings were more selfish than anything. I had a serious heart problem: I was much more concerned about how I might escape my difficult parenting reality for an hour than I was about worshiping God in church.

God really caught my attention out there in the hall. He taught me quietly with a lot of grace, and I learned a lot.

After weeks (months?) of he worst attitude I could possibly have in this situation, the first thing I learned was that God had specifically placed me in the hallway and not in the seats. He gave me this child. He called me into motherhood. This was my place to flourish or fail. That knowledge did not make me feel warm and fuzzy, but it did provide some much needed prospective on the situation. I lowered my self-centered expectations for Sunday mornings, and, since I was an absolute mess, I asked for help.

I didn’t want to ask for help, because I’m proud, but once I started talking about it, I ended up asking everyone I could think of: my husband, my mother, my father, my grandmother, my cousins, my life group, other Christian moms, friends who are paster’s wives, and the nursery volunteers. It was amazing how many of the godly women I admired had spent a year of Sundays in hallways, or more. I collected stories and advice. We traded survival tips. And, best of all, some of these precious people offered practical help; sometimes I stayed in the lobby for the songs, and my husband or my mom traded with me for the sermon.

This clingy phase lasted for a year of Sundays. I admit, sometimes I passed off my child to the nursery workers kicking and screaming just to experience a song or two alone before getting paged to pick him up. This tactic never worked for us, but I am ok that we tried it. My was just anxious and needed his mom, and that’s ok, but it was also ok to stretch his world a little. Also, on these weeks, I would often come back and stay and play with him until he was no longer feeling anxious and afraid.

Some weeks, we streamed our church service online from home. We did this when someone was sick or when nobody in the house had slept. Our church started a live streaming service just about the same time my son was born, and the timing for our family could not have been more convenient. When it comes to spiritual nourishment, it’s ok to think outside the box sometimes!

But, even with the extra help and support and the occasional e-church Sunday, there were still few weeks where I ended up in the church lobby for the entire service. (For instance, the week when my son came down with a virus, and I didn’t catch on until half way through the service.)

In the end, the lobby wasn’t a bad place to spend a year of Sundays. I learned a lot in that place.

After a long week of not enough sleep and not enough adult conversation, an intense hour of parenting out in the lobby is not where you wanted to find yourself on Sunday morning. Encouragement for the Christian mom of babies or toddlers who has not been spiritually fed on Sunday mornings. Includes Christian parenting tips, and a list of worship songs.

First, it’s a really good place to pray. The hall is active yet quiet. As a parent, you’re primarily guiding how your child spends the time while allowing your little one to be him- or herself. Maybe you’re nursing or cuddling or handing out toys. But, you’re not doing much talking in the hall other than directing interest away from minor hazards (like an uncovered outlet or the stairs) and toward a better choice.

In those moments when you’re parenting on autopilot, pray. Maybe try the oil and vinegar approach? If there’s bitterness there, I tried to confront it first, and I think confronting it helped improve my attitude during that time.

It’s a place to reach out. This is the place where I asked for help in my spiritual walk.

If Sunday morning parenting is wearing on you week after week, and you’re struggling to grow and thrive in this chapter, you’re never alone. There’s moms on either side of you that have been there. They have walked this road, and they know the way.

Start by opening up about your struggle. Talk to your family, your friends.

Join a new MOPS group or women’s Bible study. This is a new chapter, after all, and it comes with a steep learning curve. Don’t be afraid to reach for new forms of support, especially from other moms. It’s scary at first, but it might end up being exactly what you need.

What did I do? I got plugged in! I joined my church’s MOPS, and I made new Christian mom friends. Another friend and I get out our strollers and walk and talk through some tough accountability questions on Thursdays. Also, a group of us meet monthly, just the moms, and no kids allowed (unless… well… it happened sometimes).

If you’re struggling and don’t know where to start to build this community around yourself, please feel welcome to reach out to me personally. We might be able to come up with some new ideas together.

My e-mail: brohgan [@] gmail.com

It’s a place to gain perspective. When I’m being a grouch because my life is so hard, bumping into someone whose life is way harder stops my negative thoughts every time. There is always someone dealing with something bigger and harder than my own struggles, and I need to look past my own life to gain perspective. In fact, some of the people reading this are probably struggling much more than I have been.

For instance, I’ve met people who are primary caretakers in other situations, not just babies and toddlers. My time in the hall might be a couple of years, while others time in the hall might be a significant portion of a lifetime.

I have also yet to spend time in the hall without running into someone who has been openly struggling with infertility or infant loss.

Pay attention to the people around you, smile, and try empathize with the fact that we all have struggles in our lives. Even if they are not a mom of littles, nobody’s road is easy on this side of heaven.

It’s a place to consider giving back in a new way.

If your church’s volunteers are looking like they could use a little help, this might be a good time. Nursery, greeting, coffee bar. Think about what opportunities might be open to you in this stage of life and whether they are a good decision.

 

If you missed church, here are little ways to make it up throughout the week:

And, finally, music.

Nothing soothes my the mom-tude like a playlist.

But, since I’ve spent a year’s worth of Sundays out in the hall, I asked my tribe to help me with this. Here’s a playlist of worship songs that they suggested for YOU, the mama who spent Sunday in the hallway, and me too.

When people come together to encourage and help each other out, it’s powerful stuff.

After a long week of not enough sleep and not enough adult conversation, an intense hour of parenting out in the lobby is not where you wanted to find yourself on Sunday morning. Encouragement for the Christian mom of babies or toddlers who has not been spiritually fed on Sunday mornings. Includes Christian parenting tips, and a list of worship songs.

Want to know the secret that finally worked on a peaceful transition to the church nursery? Playing with my son with toys in the nursery for a few minutes before quietly slipping out the door while he wasn’t paying attention. Will it work for you too? I have no idea, but might be worth a try?

 

 

Are you finding yourself frustrated in other areas in this chapter of life, such trying to provide your family with healthy snack and meal options? I write a weekly newsletter to help moms tackle the small stuff around the house, like meal planning, quickly and efficiently so that they can have more time to savor what matters: time with the people who sit around your kitchen table.

If you are left wishing you could have done more–provided healthier food, saved more money at the grocery store, spent more time allowing yourself to be creative in this mom life–join me! you are 60 Seconds away from Inspiration in the Kitchen. Click the banner below or subscribe to my weekly e-mail to learn more.

 

 

 

Maintaining a Loving Home

As a woman, I wear many hats. Maybe you feel this way as well?

I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a friend. I am a Christian.

I am a member of my community and my church. I am a volunteer.

I am an entrepreneur and the only employee in my business (yes, blogging is a business).

Also, I am myself, the sole person in charge of expressing and caring for my own needs.

Each hat comes with its own set of responsibilities. For instance, I eat fruits and vegetables. I pray. I read. I jog. I have deep, meaningful conversations. I prioritize sleep. I do laundry. I clean. I cook. I write.

But, it’s like my friend always says, you can really only do one thing well at a time. I always choose your top priority for the moment, even when I’m not consciously doing it.

Just like I can’t text someone and drive a car at the same time, I can’t maintain a perfectly clean home and take time to get down and play with my son on the floor at the same time. It just isn’t possible.

In the same way, I can’t work long hours and have a regular date night with my spouse.

Choosing my top priority for the moment bleeds into every decision, even when I’m not aware that it’s happening. If I’m eating well, I’m simultaneously struggling with exercising. If I’m sticking to the budget and monitoring every penny, I’m stress binging on Netflix at every given opportunity. If I’m exposing my son to lots of playdates and educational experiences, I’m simultaneously neglecting to clean out the fridge.

Life as a mom is a difficult balance, and perfection is not an option. Believe me, I’ve tried. There’s a cost to every action. Sometimes the cost is small, but other times it is absolutely gigantic.

When it all boils down, I don’t want to be wasting my life on maintaining house and home, or even cooking (which is a favorite creative outlet of mine).  I want to be pouring my life into my people to the best of my ability.

I want to be the best woman I can be.

I want my husband and son to know exactly how much I love him, not a guess, but to actually know because I took the time to remind them every day.

I want to be the type of person to drop everything and just show up when someone needs me to.

I want my home to be a safe and welcome place. I want neighbors to feel comfortable knocking on my door.

I want to draw nearer to God, because I know He listens and draws nearer to me.

I want to savor the stuff in life that really matters and to just maintain the responsibilities that don’t matter as much. I want lasting impact, not temporary impact.

I want to be present while my son plays in a patch of sunshine on the floor without guilt about what needs to be done.

Easier said than done, ha.

And I absolutely don’t want to be spending my life doing the housework, cooking and cleaning… unless the heart and soul of doing it is to show how much I love and respect the people who live here too.

And, that last point is exactly where it gets a little fuzzy for me sometimes. I crave clarity on how to maintain a loving home, both relationally and physically.

I want to love my family in the best way possible. Sometimes that means doing chores. Sometimes, that means ignoring chores.

At any given moment, I have to choose my top priority.

And, for me, that also means that I have to have a system in place to maintain my lower priorities while I’m focusing on what’s most important that moment.

Here are a few things that are rarely top priority for the day but still desperately need to be taken care of daily.

Cleaning

Here is my system for cleaning the house, which prioritizes resting on Sunday.

I’ve found that when I don’t take a day off from these chores, I get behind on housework. Or even worse, I get too wrapped up in doing them perfectly.

By setting aside a day to rest and NOT DO CHORES (wooohooo!), I am more motivated to get them done throughout the week.

It doesn’t always go perfectly smoothly, but that’s ok. If the last week (or month) has been rough, I just try again the next week.

Cooking

I have written extensively about my meal planning strategy and my pre-made grocery list.

Meal planning is an established routine for me now, but that certainly wasn’t always true.

There was a time early in my marriage when I would buy all the wrong things at the grocery store in an attempt to try new recipes and please my husband just to have those ingredients slowly go bad while I ran back to the store almost daily for quicker dinner options.

By the time my son was born seven years later, I was desperate to be able to maintain a healthy, frugal lifestyle without spending a lot of time shopping or cooking.

I’ve learned some of these kitchen and cooking tips the hard way, and I am still learning.

Maintaining the finances

A few years ago, my husband and I took a financial planning course together, and it was very eye opening for us.

We have found that it’s best to make all of our financial decisions together. It takes time to write out a budget and to use a cash system, but it is well worth it.

We have time scheduled on the calendar and reminders on our phones set up ahead of time. It’s good to have a system in place to keep this habit  from falling to the wayside.

Feeding My Heart

Someone told me this over the cries of my screaming newborn: “everything about motherhood is spiritual.” When you spend your days (and nights!) caring for littles, your own heart is filled and emptied and refilled moment by moment.

But, there are chapters in mom life that writing long entries into prayer journals and keeping up with a Bible reading plan is just not possible. And, that’s ok. God put you in this exact place.

When doing more is just not possible, finding little cracks of time to reading a single verse is enough. Praying in your head while you put your child to bed is enough. Listening to worship music and letting the praise bleed into your actions is enough.

It helped me to have certain triggers to remind me to spend time with God. For instance, during the quiet of nursing during the night, I prayed and read. While in the car, I sang worship songs. A friend teaches Bible stories to her pre-schooler during bath time.

Life is always busy, but I’ve found that by pairing my time with God with a daily activity, it reminds me to be present and aware of His benevolence.

 

And, the Grace

After becoming a mom, I’ve learned that I have to allow myself to accept the same grace God extends to me.

Sometimes, I fail. Actually, it happens daily.

I choose wrong. I get wrapped up in a project and get resentful when nap time is suddenly over. I get impatient when people interrupt me while I’m trying to get things done, even if they’re low priority. I forget God.

And in the midst of wrestling with pangs of guilt, I have to clean the slate and start that day anew. It’s the only way to move forward.

Grace is key.

I absolutely don't want to be spending my life doing the housework, cooking and cleaning... unless the heart and soul of doing it is to show how much I love and respect the people who live here too. And, that last point is exactly where it gets a little fuzzy for me sometimes. I crave clarity on how to maintain a loving home, both relationally and physically. I want to love my family in the best way possible. Sometimes that means doing chores. Sometimes, that means ignoring chores. At any given moment, I have to choose my top priority. Cleaning, cooking, finances, caring for my own heart, need a routine that maintains the status quo while caring for my family.

Are you struggling with clarity on how to maintain a loving home too?

Join me on this journey. We can navigate this together in tandem.

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October 31 Day Instagram Challenge

Every time my toddler slips into a grouchy mood, I hear myself remind him that he can choose to be happy and have fun or he can choose to be grouchy and have a bad time. It's a choice. I pull him into my lap and remind him of this a couple of times a week. I hear myself say it, but I don't know why it didn't dawn on me earlier: this exact advice applies to my life as well. Cooking is something I genuinely enjoy doing, but in the last few weeks, it has definitely felt like a chore. Spending time in the kitchen is inevitable as a mom. I can choose. Am I going to have a good attitude about it, or am I going to be grouchy and have a bad time? I have a 31 Challenge for myself: have fun in the kitchen every day in October. Use the hashtag #funinthekitchen to join in or follow along this month!

Every time my toddler slips into a grouchy mood, I hear myself remind him that he can choose to be happy and have fun or he can choose to be grouchy and have a bad time. It’s a choice.

I pull him into my lap and remind him of this a couple of times a week.

I hear myself say it, but I don’t know why it didn’t dawn on me earlier: this exact advice applies to my life as well.

Cooking is something I genuinely enjoy doing, but in the last few weeks, it has definitely felt like a chore.

Spending time in the kitchen is inevitable as a mom. I can choose. Am I going to have a good attitude about it, or am I going to be grouchy and have a bad time?

I have a 31 Challenge for myself: have fun in the kitchen every day in October. I will be posting the results on Instagram as I go! Use the hashtag #funinthekitchen to join in or follow along this month!

Links to the 31 Day Challenge:

Day 1: Introduction
Day 2: Cooking Raman for ME!
Day 3: Taking a selfie with a crock-pot is harder than it looks…
Day 4:
Day 5:
Day 6:
Day 7:
Day 8:
Day 9:
Day 10:
Day 11:
Day 12:
Day 13:
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Day 15:
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Day 18:
Day 19:
Day 20:
Day 21:
Day 22:
Day 23:
Day 24:
Day 25:
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Day 30:
Day 31:

Every time my toddler slips into a grouchy mood, I hear myself remind him that he can choose to be happy and have fun or he can choose to be grouchy and have a bad time. It's a choice. I pull him into my lap and remind him of this a couple of times a week. I hear myself say it, but I don't know why it didn't dawn on me earlier: this exact advice applies to my life as well. Cooking is something I genuinely enjoy doing, but in the last few weeks, it has definitely felt like a chore. Spending time in the kitchen is inevitable as a mom. I can choose. Am I going to have a good attitude about it, or am I going to be grouchy and have a bad time? I have a 31 Challenge for myself: have fun in the kitchen every day in October. Use the hashtag #funinthekitchen to join in or follow along this month!

 

Perfect Veggie Spaghetti Pie

This Perfect Veggie Spaghetti Pie recipe uses frozen vegetables and a quick sauce in the crockpot to create two meals in one! This easy baked cheese casserole is one of our family's favorite comfort foods, and the leftover sauce creates an extremely easy freezer meal to save for later with no extra time. It makes two easy freezer meals for new moms!

This is a recipe that keeps on giving.

Do you ever feel the need to give a friend a freezer meal? Maybe they just had a baby? Or, they’re recovering from surgery? Or, they’re just having a hard time?

Or, when you sense a busy season of life ahead, do you wish to stock up your freezer with a few extra meals, but struggle to find the time?

There is a reason this is the perfect recipe: it is two huge, family sized meals in one easy recipe!

Just toss the sauce in the crock pot over lunch, and you’re only a couple of quick and easy steps away that evening from dinner for that night PLUS a bonus meal to stick in the freezer for later or share!

Even better, there’s no chopping involved!

This Perfect Veggie Spaghetti Pie recipe uses frozen vegetables and a quick sauce in the crockpot to create two meals in one! This easy baked cheese casserole is one of our family's favorite comfort foods, and the leftover sauce creates an extremely easy freezer meal to save for later with no extra time. It makes two easy freezer meals for new moms!

It’s a wonderful recipe to have in your back pocket in preparation for the holidays!

I chose an Italian mixture for my frozen veggies. It contained zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli.

You can also easily use any fresh veggies that you may have in your refrigerator. I chose to use frozen to save time, but fresh would also be very tasty!

Print

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 1 lb bag of frozen mixed Italian veggies
  • 1 15.5 oz can cannellini beans white kidney beans
  • 2 oz cream cheese 1/4 block
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 c water
  • 1 tsp vegetable bouillon concentrate such as 'Better Than Bouillon' seasoned vegetable base

Spaghetti

  • 2 lbs spaghetti whole grain preferred
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 c mozzarella cheese grated
  • 1 1/2 c swiss cheese grated
  • 1 2.5 galleon freezer bag

Instructions

  1. These instructions are for 1 dinner to enjoy immediately and 1 dinner to freeze for later.

  2. Add first 10 ingredients (veggies through bouillon) to a 3 quart or larger crockpot, and cook on low for 4-5 hours.

  3. After veggie sauce has cooked 4-5 hours, prepare spaghetti per package instructions. Drain, and drizzle with parsley and olive oil. Mix well until parsley is distributed.

  4. Combine mozzarella cheese and swiss cheese in a bowl. Set aside.

  5. Line a 9x13 inch casserole dish with excess foil, to allow top of casserole to be completely covered in foil. (Or, you can use a 9x13 inch disposable foil pan and cover with foil.)

  6. Place half of the spaghetti in a foil-lined 9x13 inch pan (or disposable foil pan). Cover spaghetti with half of the veggie sauce from crockpot. Top with half of cheese mixture (1 1/2 cups). Cover with foil, refrigerate overnight.

  7. After removing half of sauce, stir the remaining pound cooked spaghetti into the remaining sauce in crockpot. Top with remaining 1 1/2 cups of cheese mixture. Cook in crockpot on low until the cheese is completely melted. Serve immediately.

  8. The next morning, transfer the foil package from the 9x13 inch pan (or entire disposable pan) into a large 2.5 galleon freezer bag. Write recipe name, date, and cooking instructions on bag. Store in freezer for up to 3 months.

  9. To cook freezer meal: Remove from freezer bag. Carefully transfer foil package to 9x13 inch pan. Thaw casserole 24 hours, or overnight, in refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Bake, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove foil covering from the top, and bake another 5-10 minutes until cheese is turning golden brown. (Allow for additional 10-20 minutes of covered baking time if casserole is not completely thawed.)

This Perfect Veggie Spaghetti Pie recipe uses frozen vegetables and a quick sauce in the crockpot to create two meals in one! This easy baked cheese casserole is one of our family's favorite comfort foods, and the leftover sauce creates an extremely easy freezer meal to save for later with no extra time. It makes two easy freezer meals for new moms!

Pumpkin Chili

When the winds begin to blow a little cooler, we know football season is near.

This vegetarian crock pot pumpkin chili recipe is perfect for autumn and football season! This hearty, budget friendly vegetarian chili recipe uses cans from the pantry. It is budget friendly and easy to keep on hand. It is a meal that is quick to make and easy to keep on hand. The black beans and the corn together create a complete protein, and the pumpkin puree in makes it thick and filling. It's perfect as a stand alone meal, or served over baked potatoes or chips.

We have been looking forward to football season all year! “Football” was one of my son’s first words, and for a long time, it was the only thing that he ever saw on tv.

No exaggeration: at only 11 months-old, he was completely devastated one evening when he asked for football and we had to explain that the season was over.

 

Home of the K-State Wildcats, my alma mater, Bill Snyder Family Stadium sits practically at the end of my driveway. There is no missing the excitement from our house. The neighborhood becomes packed with cars and purple fans.

In fact, in our location, we very easily can go from having no Saturday plans to having a crowd of hungry people over. That is why I like to keep a hearty, budget friendly vegetarian chili recipe on hand at all times.

This is one of those kinds of recipes that is cozy and filling, but you can make it without missing a single down. It is a recipe that is quick to make and easy to keep on hand.

Now a vegetarian recipe might not be the hearty football food that your family might expect. However, the black beans and the corn together create a complete protein, and the pumpkin puree in makes it thick and filling. It’s perfect as a stand alone meal, or served over baked potatoes or chips.

It also goes perfectly with this pumpkin cornbread recipe!

Print

Pumpkin Chili

Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 2 15 oz cans black beans rinsed
  • 1 15 oz can corn rinsed
  • 1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder (or 1 small onion, diced)
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp better than bouillon vegetable base
  • 2 cups water

Instructions

  1. -Combine all ingredients in a large sauce pan
  2. -Cover, and simmer over a low heat for 20 minutes
  3. -Ladle into bowls. Top with favorite toppings and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Can easily be cooked or kept warm in a crock pot! Just mix ingredients together about an hour before game time, and keep on a low setting. Turn to "keep warm" setting after 1 hour.

This vegetarian crock pot pumpkin chili recipe is perfect for autumn and football season! This hearty, budget friendly vegetarian chili recipe uses cans from the pantry. It is budget friendly and easy to keep on hand. It is a meal that is quick to make and easy to keep on hand. The black beans and the corn together create a complete protein, and the pumpkin puree in makes it thick and filling. It's perfect as a stand alone meal, or served over baked potatoes or chips.

Pumpkin Cornbread

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Today, my son and I went on a walk just because we could. We had a few minutes before lunch with nothing to do, and it’s hard to spend a beautifully cool August day like today inside.

We counted leaves and dandelions. The seasons are already changing, and there were far more leaves than dandelions today.

After looking at the calendar ahead, I started experimenting with fall flavors a few weeks ago.

This was a great decision. I love autumn, and I look for ways to incorporate the wonderful flavors year-round.

My first success out of the oven: pumpkin cornbread.

I wish you could smell my kitchen right now! It smells like everything you hope for in autumn.

Pumpkin and spice all in a warm sweet bread. It bakes up like a savory cake.

These sweet little pumpkin cornbread muffins were gone within hours of pulling them out of the oven!

I added a little pat of butter on a couple, but it isn’t necessary. They are sweet and moist all on their own.

Simple enough to make on a weeknight, but also special enough to include with any fall get together. I anticipate making this recipe many more times this autumn.

I wish you could smell my kitchen right now! It smells like everything you hope for in autumn. Pumpkin and spice all in a warm sweet bread. It bakes up like a savory cake. These sweet little pumpkin cornbread muffins were gone within hours of pulling them out of the oven! Simple enough to make on a weeknight, but also special enough to include with any fall get together. I anticipate making this recipe many more times. Pumpkin cornbread would be a great addition to any Thanksgiving feast!

These muffins were delicious, but even sweeter was the opportunity to use my grandma’s cast iron cornbread pan. I’ve been looking for an excuse to pull it out, and it won’t be the last time! (Here’s a link to a similar pan.)

But, if you don’t have a cornbread pan, a muffin tin will do. I also included instructions on how to make this in an 8×8 pan below the recipe.

5 from 1 vote
Print

Pumpkin Cornbread

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter melted
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • butter or honey optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a muffin tin.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix gently until combined.
  3. Using two spoons, gently fill each muffin cup until half full to allow room for the cornbread to expand.
  4. Bake for 12 minutes. Using a fork, gently check the center for doneness.
  5. Cool and enjoy.

Recipe Notes

If you would prefer a single cornbread loaf over muffins, pour batter into a greased 8x8 pan and bake 25-30 minutes. Check center for doneness before removing from oven.

I wish you could smell my kitchen right now! It smells like everything you hope for in autumn. Pumpkin and spice all in a warm sweet bread. It bakes up like a savory cake. These sweet little pumpkin cornbread muffins were gone within hours of pulling them out of the oven! Simple enough to make on a weeknight, but also special enough to include with any fall get together. I anticipate making this recipe many more times. Pumpkin cornbread would be a great addition to any Thanksgiving feast!

 

More Than Just Making It

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We live a frugal life, on a budget, carefully keeping track of how we spend our money. Especially now that we live primarily on one income.

That is why I was initially drawn to Erin Odom’s soon to be released book, More Than Just Making It, available September 5. (affiliate link)

If you ever find yourself in the situation someday where you are financially frustrated, even to the point of struggling to make ends meet, this is the book for you.

And, let’s be honest here. Almost half of Americans are still living paycheck to paycheck. There are a lot of people today struggling to make ends meet. So, if you feel like you fall into the category of financially frustrated, you are certainly not alone.

My husband and I have a big ol’ pile of student loan debt that we’re working hard to slowly pay off. As I monitor our budget as we slowly pay down that debt, I certainly feel like I fall into this category!

But that’s what is so wonderful about More Than Just Making It. It’s a reminder that we’re not alone and that there is help along the way. (affiliate link)

And, becoming financially frustrated could happen to any of us!

Despite having no consumer debt, Erin Odom found herself standing in line for food stamps and walking into bankruptcy during her eighth month of her third pregnancy.  She and her husband were careful planners who worked hard and took advantage of every opportunity that came their way, but through situations primarily outside of their control, they still struggled to put food on the table for their two daughters.

Her story struck a chord because it could so easily be my own story. 

Actually, it could be the story of almost any young family!

Years ago, before our son was born, my husband and I also sat through a financial course through our church. One of the first activities in the class was to put together a mock budget for a family making $50,000 per year. Adam and I looked at each other, and we knew we both were thinking the same thing: $50,000 a year?! We couldn’t imagine having access to that kind of money!

Budgeting would be SO much easier if we made that much money. But, improving our income situation felt impossible! We graduated from college at the height of the recession, and after months of unemployment, we were both grateful for our just-above-minimum-wage jobs, mine at a grocery store, Adam’s as a para at a middle school.

We were just making it. Barely, and by God’s grace.

Erin and her husband went through this exact example in a financial class in their church. Her husband was so emotional during the example that he spent the remainder of the class at the hall.

I remember that moment. I wanted to be in the hall too.

That was the moment where Erin, her husband, and their financial coach sat down a took a long look at their financial situation and came to only one conclusion: they had a serious income problem.

The amazing part about Erin’s story is that, despite living on a low income, they did not use credit cards or any other forms of consumer debt to help make ends meet. Instead, they turned to help inside their church, through community organizations and federal programs (like WIC), and learned to rely on God to provide using the money they hand in hand.

In this book Erin shares tips and habits that enabled her family to turn their lives around, both financially and through a faithful dependance on God’s provision for their lives.

Her tips are GREAT! Especially when it comes to eating well on a budget. If you are interested in a free e-course created by Erin on eating well on a budget, sign up on her blog, The Humbled Homemaker. I signed up for it, and I highly recommend it!

I eat on a budget, but I don’t always eat WELL. For instance, with the bottom line in mind while grocery, I don’t always avoid the “dirty dozen” because organic cost more. I know how important it is to provide my family with healthy, nourishing foods, and Erin’s words have inspired me to put a little more effort into making sure we’re even more careful about what we are eating.

 

But, even more than Erin’s fabulous tips, I enjoyed this book because it reminded me that God gives and takes away on His terms, not ours.

Struggling to make ends meet, whether it’s caused by an income problem or a spending problem, is mentally and emotionally challenging. It’s so hard to pick yourself up off the ground without someone tossing you a lifeline.

It’s also spiritually challenging. It’s so hard to put your faith in God when you feel that you are not being provided for.

If that’s you, this book could be your lifeline.

And for some perspective, this journey is even harder when you’re living in poverty, or just above it. And, it’s especially harder when you don’t live in a country like the United States with federal programs, like unemployment, food stamps, WIC, etc. to fall back on.

Even if you are not currently struggling, this is a important read if you want to learn how to better assist struggling families in the US today. There are many stigmas in our culture against asking for financial help when you need it, and More Than Just Making It reminds us that a little kindness goes a long way. (affiliate link)

More Than Just Making It will be released in stores and online on September 5!
Click here to pre-order on Amazon today!
Click here to pre-order through Target!

Click here to check out the first chapter for FREE!

We live a frugal life, on a budget, carefully keeping track of how we spend our money. Especially now that we live on one income. That is why I was initially drawn to Erin Odam's soon to be released book, More Than Just Making It. If you ever find yourself in the situation someday where you are financially frustrated, even to the point of struggling to make ends meet, this is the book for you. Struggling to make ends meet, whether it's caused by an income problem or a spending problem, is mentally and emotionally challenging. It's so hard to pick yourself up off the ground without someone tossing you a lifeline. It's also spiritually challenging. It's so hard to put your faith in God when you feel that you are not being provided for.

Back to School Prayer

It’s that time of year! School supplies are back in stores, and the weather has started to cool down (just a little).

And what better way to prepare for school than by praying for our kiddo’s?

FREE Printable back to school scripture and prayer! It's that time of year! School supplies are back in stores, and the weather has started to cool down (just a little).  And what better way to prepare for school than by praying for our kiddo's?

As a kid I loved school, but this time of year is exciting, it’s also scary. There are a lot of unknowns. Some teachers were harder or more strict than others. Sometimes I was placed in a class with my best friends, sometimes I was given an opportunity to make new friends in my class.

This time of year is a time of new beginnings. New school year, new grade, new classmates.

Let’s not only help our kids start off on the right foot, and let’s take an opportunity as praying moms to start ourselves off on the right foot too! Pray for our kids, and remind them of the truth held in scripture for new or scary situations.

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Royal Orange Chocolate Scones

 

Simple chocolate scones sweetened with just enough orange juice. Easy recipe that will leave you and your family feeling like royalty!

Tonight, while listening to a thunderstorm build outside, I quietly go through the motions of making a favorite scone recipe.

The house is quiet. My husband busy in the other room, my son is asleep. It’s just me, alone in the kitchen. Not even the dog peeks in.

These scones were first baked for me by a lovely co-worker in a stressful part-time job in college. On Monday, she filled the afternoon by describing a craving she was feeling for these simple chocolate scones her family made, sweetened with just enough orange juice. On Tuesday morning, I found a batch of scones on my desk.

Years later, remembering orange juice as a key ingredient, I googled until I found a recipe that looked similar, described as “royal” scones.

Tonight, I’m making these scones for the second time this week. These scones graciously used the ingredients already found in the pantry, sans one small personal-sized bottle of orange juice.

While the scones are being gracious, I am not. In my thoughts, I have a full list of complaints and wants: more money, more space, more success.

Here I am again, going down this endless spiral. Be affluent. Be important. Be worthy. Be more.

That’s really where the struggle begins, isn’t it? Inside of us?

I take a look at the recipe, and realize suddenly that I have been quadrupling the amount of chocolate in these scones for years! It’s not one and one thirds cup of chocolate chips (leaving the perfect amount remaining in the bag for those desperate parenting moments that require chocolate). No, the recipe calls for one thirds of a cup!

And, BAM, just like that, I’m reminded of how sweet life really is.

In my family, we have health, each other, shelter, plenty of choice homemade foods.

Simple chocolate scones sweetened with just enough orange juice.

Rich enough to enjoy scones made for royalty.

My petition goes silent, as I pray a thankful prayer for the extra chocolate over the years.

Print

Royal Orange Chocolate Scones

Simple chocolate scones sweetened with just enough orange juice.

Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups miniature chocolate chips semisweet
  • 1/4 cup orange juice plus more to form dough

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheight. Grease a cookie sheet.

  2. Wish first 4 dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.

  3. Cut butter into small pieces and then, using a fork or a bladed dough blender, cut the butter into dough until it resembles a course crumbs.

  4. Add remaining ingredients until dough will hold shape. Add additional orange juice as needed. (Sometimes I need to add a couple more tsp of orange juice.)

  5. Press dough evenly into the bottom of the mixing bowl, then overturn onto the greased cookie sheet.

  6. Use a large knife to cut into 8 scones (slice, like a pizza). Gently separate scones to allow space to bake evenly.

  7. Bake for 12 minutes until golden brown.

Recipe Notes

I almost always add additional orange juice to help the dough hold together, but the amount required depends on how well the butter was cut into the dough.

Simple chocolate scones sweetened with just enough orange juice.

Zero Waste Dinner: Chinese Hamburger

Once,  I listened to a podcast about a working lunch which was served to a group of 40 world leaders who were gathering at the UN. Sam Krass, who had served as the Obama family’s personal chef, along with a team of other chefs, served these world leaders, most of whom were presidents of their respected countries, a dinner made of trash.

That’s right, the entire meal was made out of perfectly good food that was intended to be thrown away out of NYC restaurant kitchens.

We, as a culture, waste a lot of food. This includes my own kitchen.

This week, I have been noting ways to use Zero Waste Cooking strategies in my kitchen.

Are you familiar with Zero Waste Cooking? This is an term I encountered while pre-reviewing Erin Odem’s book, More Than Just Making It, which will be released in bookstores in September (affiliate link).

As far as I know, I haven’t encountered this exact term before, but the idea behind it is very familiar to me. Zero Waste is a strategy that my mother and grandmother often used in their kitchens to stretch the weekly food budget. It’s actually very common in kitchens around the world, although not so much in the U.S. these days.

The idea behind Zero Waste Cooking is to use every food to its fullest potential.

For instance, this lettuce. It’s not bad or rotten, but it’s wilted after spending several long days in the fridge. It would make a very sad salad.

What do you normally do with lettuce like this? Do you just chop it into a chewy salad?

I normally just do what my mom did: make Chinese hamburger for dinner. And soon, before the lettuce goes bad!

The really nice thing about this dish is that it’s easy to keep the other ingredients on hand. Frozen ground turkey, a box of beef Rice-A-Roni, butter, and water.

Isn’t it nice to have a back up plan for wilted lettuce??!

Of course, there are considerations to be made when trying to elimate wasted food in your kitchen. The first consideration is food safety. (And, food safety has changed over the years as the bacteria changes. For instance, you can’t rely on your grandma’s method for thawing meat on the counter anymore, folks.)

But, at least you can stretch some overlooked lettuce from the back of the fridge instead of throwing it away!

Print

One-Pot Chinese Hamburger

This easy recipe is a great Zero Waste Cooking strategy for using wilted lettuce!

Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 box Beef Rice-A-Roni
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 head lettuce
  • reduced-sodium soy sauce optional

Instructions

  1. Heat ground turkey in large skillet over medium heat until cooked.

  2. Add butter and rice-vermicelli mix and sauté over medium heat until vermicelli is golden brown, stirring frequently.

  3. Slowly stir in water and 1/2 bag seasonings (to lessen sodium), and bring to a boil.

  4. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer 15-20 minutes until rice is cooked.  Chop lettuce into bite sized pieces.

  5. Turn off burner, but keep pot on stove. Stir lettuce into pot and cover. Leave 1-2 minutes to allow lettuce to wilt.

  6. Plate, sprinkle with soy sauce, and enjoy!

This easy recipe is a great Zero Waste Cooking strategy for using wilted lettuce!