Food and Recipes

Roasted Vegetable Medley

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Getting your family to eat healthy seems like quite the impossible feat. Most kids have two food groups: Mac N’ Cheese and Chicken Nuggets (this is not an exaggeration)! We were very intentional about our kids eating well, so they were pretty accustomed early on to enjoy bold flavors like garlic and spices, as well as incorporating fruits and vegetables as part of the daily snack and meal staples.

This year, Jesse and I decided to tighten up on food choices even more. Ridding our home of GMO’s and going organic- the Farmer’s Market has been a God-send with the cost of eating well! It’s sad, really, that in order to feed our family food that is simple and pure, we have to pay an arm and a leg! But I suppose I would rather pay a higher grocery bill than doctor visits!

This recipe is the perfect way to get your kids (and even a stingy hubby as well) to eat their vegetables without bribing or using force. It is also the best sidekick to a delicious grilled steak or chicken… don’t believe grilling season is only reserved for summer-  no one should confine themselves to those rules! And with modern kitchen conveniences, you can grill anytime!

These vegetables offer so much variety and bring color to any plate. Plus, it’s easy to switch it up! That’s what I love about cooking- versatility- it allows us to substitute other ingredients if we don’t prefer some or just simply want to work with what’s in the fridge. I love adding Yukon Gold potatoes to this dish to make it more hearty, but you can easily do without and substitute with butternut squash. Be creative! The garden’s the limit!

Roasted Vegetable Medley

2 Large Yukon Gold Potatoes, Cut into Small Wedges

2 Red Peppers, Cut into 1- inch Pieces

1 Yam, Cut into Small Wedges

1 Red Onion, Cut into Small Wedges

1 Zucchini Squash, Cut into Wedges

1 Yellow Squash, Cut into Wedges

1/2 Pint Button Mushrooms, Cut in Half

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar

2 Teaspoons Dried Rosemary

1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme

Salt & Pepper, to taste

Directions

Preheat Oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In large bowl, combine all vegetables. In a small bowl, whisk oil, vinegar and seasonings.  Pour over veggies and toss to coat.  Transfer veggies to sheet pan and roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until tender and edges are browned.

Who said eating your veggies has to be boring? With an easy, scrumptious recipe like this, you might find the chicken just gets in the way! Enjoy!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

Words of Wisdom

When God Gives You A Dream

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It was 2 a.m.  about three and half years ago, when I woke up from a dream. I can recall every detail-every word- just as if it happened last night. Dreams and their respective meanings are told all throughout the Bible- Joseph and the Pharaoh, Daniel and King Nebuchadnezzar. Dreams all offering insight and a specific word from God.  I have prayed and prayed for revelation of this dream, trying to make it fit a particular decision or event that awaits to take place. It is only now that I realize what my dream means for my life and how it can impact yours as well.

The Dream…. 

I enter a room with a long table. A table that seemed to go on and on for miles. Other people around me began to come and sit at the table. I found the closest empty seat and sat down. After everyone was seated,  a man in a long, white robe-not a bath robe- but a robe accustomed to be worn centuries ago in the Middle East, entered the room. The person next to me whispered: “Do you know who he is?” I simply replied “No.” He continued, “He is a close man to God.”

Somehow in my dream, I could feel the importance of this man, even though I could not fully see his face. The man called my name and asked me to follow him. He led me down a straight and narrow hallway. He stopped in front of a large, wooden door at the end of the hall. He opened the door as I proceeded to follow.  The door opened to a beautiful garden-one so breathtaking- full of color and light. I stood in awe and could feel the warmth of the sun’s rays on my skin. It was as if I wasn’t dreaming at all, but actually there.

I asked the man: “Where am I?” He replied, “This is the place where God will reveal to me what He wants to tell you.” He paused for a brief moment and said “Your mouth has been closed, but soon it will open and walls of Jericho will come down.”

In that moment, I woke up. The next morning, I opened my Bible and read the story of Joshua and the wall of Jericho. Being raised in the church, I was very familiar with the Sunday School lesson about Joshua’s army, marching around the fortified city, blowing their trumpets, causing a impossible structure to crumble like a dry piece of bread. Joshua’s army entered the city- the promised land- and claimed it.

A little history of this Biblical classic…Joshua was the new leader of the Israelites after the passing of Moses. The Israelites had been wandering in the desert for forty years, waiting for God’s promise to give them their land.  The only thing that stood between God’s people and their promise was a large wall- a wall that surrounded the entire city of Jericho. It seemed like an impossible feat. Nothing could break this barrier.

God instructed Joshua to lead his army around the city. The army marched once around the city for six days, carrying their trumpets, but remained in total silence.  On the seventh day, Joshua was instructed to march his army around the city seven times. On the seventh march around, the priests blew their trumpets. At the sound of the trumpet blast, Joshua yelled: “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city! The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to God.”…and with that battle cry, the walls of Jericho came tumbling down. Even today, historians and scholars are baffled at the remains of the wall of Jericho.

Many times in my life, I have faced walls like Jericho- the circumstances that seem impossible and bleak. We stand, facing the wall- vast and wide- focused on the problem, not seeing the promise that lies right behind it.  I am not a “name it and claim it believer,” where if you believe, just name it and it’s yours. But I do believe as sons and daughters of Christ, we have inherited specific promises over our lives. I have watched many walls crumble before me. Impossibilities become possible, dreams become reality, and God’s unfailing faithfulness weaving throughout it all.

I believe Jericho is a demonstration of how God wants us to live. Joshua first had to be obedient (He had to follow God’s specific will, regardless of whether he understood or agreed with the plan or not). Second, Joshua had to place his trust in God (He knew the wall was big, but that God was bigger). Third, Joshua had to have faith in the promises of God (when his army took that first step to march, they also took a step of faith, still not knowing exactly how God was going to deliver Jericho into their hands) .  And fourthly, but certainly not last, Joshua gave God the praise (He lifted up his voice to heaven in a loud cry- “Shout! For God has given us the city!”

We can exercise this same strategy in our own lives. You might not march around your job seven times and claim victory over the boss you can’t stand to work for. Not every story in the Bible is meant to be literal. But we must remember that in every situation, every wall we face in life, God has given us a battle plan- a strategy. Obey His will. Trust in His plan. Walk in faith. And give God the praise!  This is how we claim the victory. Even when the circumstances don’t fall in our favor, this is what God has called us to do. But I will say, He is always true to His Word and He always keeps His promises! Trust in the Promises!

So in whatever we face, don’t focus on the wall, but “lift your eyes to the hills-where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1 & 2).

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

 

Family Life

Parents: Just Let Your Kids Be Kids!

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While perusing “The Store of Many Consumer Temptations,” also known as Target, I couldn’t help but overhear the cries of a small girl, pleading with her mother- with convincing tears, I might add- that she desperately must have the new Barbie with the Potty Training Dog. It was apparent that the mother’s objection to this toy was not pleasing to the child- and rightly so. I question Mattel’s inspiration for a doll that comes with a pooping dog and  “fun, matching scooper.”

I stood nearby, waiting to hear the frustrated mom’s rebuttal against such a uniquely creative toy. The mom harshly replied: “Because I can’t afford that toy right now!” My immediate thought was: Really? The fact that this toy has to be the world’s worst Barbie ever has nothing to do with it? But my second thought brought me to a more profound conclusion: Maybe you really can’t afford a Barbie with a pooping dog at the fantastic rate of only $19.99…ON SALE! I Wonder why… Yet, does your four-year old need to know you can’t afford the toy right now? Should your four-year-old understand the mature concepts of money management?

Scenarios like this and others play out all the time right before our eyes. If you’ve ever experienced the thrill of a Little League baseball game, you know exactly what I’m talking about…the hysterical mom, screaming at the umpire for the bad call, as if the third grade Rangers and the Blue Hornets  were playing in the World Series that Saturday afternoon.  Or the mom who puts lipstick, dresses that cost more than my wedding gown, and cans of hairspray on their toddler for the sake of a beauty pageant.  Seriously- why do we want our two-year olds looking like miniature teenagers? That time will be here soon enough- and I’m only praying for God’s grace to come back again before that happens!

Parents of our generation are making common mistakes all the time that are robbing our children of their innocence and plucking them out of the wonders and beauty that childhood offers.

We Tell Them Too Much Too Soon.  Just like the devastated four-year old in Target, our kids do not need to worry about adult matters.  Matters like bills and our checking account balance.  Our children are not entitled, nor should they be permitted to a large explanation.  A simple “No- because I said so” will suffice. They don’t need to worry about what we can or can’t afford. They just need to feel secure and loved. That’s our job- not to help them understand our complex adult rationale.

 Our Kids Are Too Involved Our kids’ schedules have become more hectic and busy than ours-  dance practice on Mondays and Thursdays, swim lessons on Tuesday, piano practice on Wednesdays, and soccer everywhere in between. But running our kids around from sport to sport, practice to practice, play date to play date, is not only burning the mileage on the mini-van, but also burning out our kiddos.  Kids need down time. Time to play, time to let their imagination wander, and time to simply relax. We recently had to make a similar decision to save our child’s childhood.

Joanna has been in gymnastics since she was three. She is now six. Simple math. She was invited to join the Competition Team at her gym- an esteemed honor for a six-year old. An honor that comes with a rigorous 8 hour per week commitment, not including meets and competitions. When I asked her how excited she was, I was perplexed by her response. She said “Mom, I just want to come home and play after school.” Even though my head was thinking: “But what about the Olympics? After all, don’t ALL talented children make it to the Olympics?  But I was reminded…she’s SIX. I was still playing in the mud at six. There will be plenty of time for tumbling and other sports endeavors, but right now, she is content playing pretend and horses and coloring.  How can I take away something so pure away from her?

Too Little Shelter, Too Much Exposure. We all know we can’t live in a bubble. Our children will be inevitably exposed to the harsh realties of the world. But we are often too quick to cast out the net, allowing them to collect all the pollution out there- movies, TV shows, video games and music are prime areas. I remember my mother rolling her eyes over Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys, but their music doesn’t hold a candle to the vulgarity and disrespect of Nikki Manaj and other artists whose names are too weird to recall.

I am highly offended when I see a seven-year old boy play a video game containing guns, gambling, and even prostitutes.  Even Christian-claiming families have allowed these kinds of toxicity into their homes. This example stands more firmly rooted on Biblical grounds. But even as the unbeliever who might be reading this blog, I offer this argument… for moral reasons and the sake of your child’s innocence, why would you passively allow such filth to corrupt your child?  As a Christ-follower, I even find myself closely monitoring the cartoons- the PG rated cartoons- my kids watch, as there are many subtle adult humor sprinkled in there as well.

Remember parents, our children are learning. We are leading.  Let them enjoy and embrace their childhood. Don’t take it away. Let them splash in the puddles and soak up every bit of innocence they can because it’s gone all too soon. Preserve as much as humanly possible!

For these days will one day feel like just yesterday, when they are asking to borrow the car and drive to the mall with their friends.  Don’t be in a hurry for them to grow up and savor every piece of the now! And give them the right to just be a kid. 

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

Family Life

Why Being A Stay-At-Home Mom Isn’t A Real “Job”

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I love hearing the responses from people who ask me what I do.  You might be shocked to find most people don’t view stay-at-home moms in an impressively praiseworthy fashion, which is evident in their common expressions of pity or angst. Often, I hear “Oh, I could never do it,” or “I bet you’re hands are full,” and my favorite: “That’s the hardest JOB in the world.” So hard, and yet, so devalued.

I get that this title doesn’t mean to imply offense, but I honestly can’t stand it when people refer to being a stay-at-home mom as a profession.  It’s as though corporate America and even other S.A.H.Ms feel a need to justify the role by referring to it as a job. But let me tell you, it is not a job at all. Not even a little.

A job requires “a paid position of regular employment,” according to definition. I have been a S.A.H.M for over 6 years and I have yet to receive a paycheck, so I guess that alone pretty much disqualifies this role as a legit job. But I’ll go on…a job comes with sick leave, vacation time, a 401K, and a tangible means for work- also known as a paycheck.

I don’t even get a moment of peace in the bathroom without hearing cries of demands or arguments just outside the door. Does your boss knock on the bathroom door requesting a snack immediately? I didn’t think so. And sometimes I wish my lunch was in a quiet, stuffy break room, considering it is regularly inhaled as quickly as possible- one of the side effects of being  on the clock 24/7.

My performance reviews are given from the honest opinions of a 4 and 6 year old, suggesting to modify the broccoli that I made for dinner or showing more enthusiasm when I play the part of the noble steed, carrying the beautiful princess or brave knight. My worker appreciation comes in dividends of hugs and kisses.  My benefits are stored in a prestigious eternal account.

The only raise I ever see are the hands I lift up to heaven daily, asking for God’s grace through it all- all the messes, laundry, temper tantrums, tummy aches, crayon-drawn walls, and even plunging a My Little Pony from the commode, while somehow shaping these young lives and setting a good example. The epitome of multi-tasking!

If I thought being a S.A.H.M was merely a “job,” I might have quit a long time ago. But I see it as a ministry- one that has insurmountable value. In a ministry, we do our work as unto the Lord, not to receive a paycheck or promotion. If you ask someone in ministry, they will often say it requires all of you. Being a mom who is intentional, nurturing, life-speaking, and graceful requires all of me…and you.

There is far more work to be done beyond the lunch-packing, homework helping and tucking in beds. There is work to be done in the hearts of our family. I ask for God’s strength everyday as I roll up my sleeves and set to work for His kingdom.  Seeking His will, His wisdom and discernment. Striving to exemplify His servant heart, His humble spirit, and His affirming love.

Beyond the general duties of kissing boo boos and wiping sticky fingers, we are faithfully guiding, instructing, admonishing, equipping, disciplining, and discipling our children.

Being a S.A.H.M may feel like a job some days when you’re knee deep in housework and errands, or maintaining composure when your child finds humor in tackling the cereal display at the grocery store. But it’s not a job. Let’s stop calling it a job. Because it is so much more than that.

Be encouraged, fellow S.A.H.M’s, that you are highly valuable in the sight of God, for He does not look at your work of accomplishments and track record- He weighs your heart. And He sees all the sweat and tears that we pour into our families-our number one ministry. So c’mon, ladies. Roll up those sleeves. We’ve got work to do!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

Food and Recipes

BBQ Chicken Pizza with Caramelized Onions

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Figuring out what to feed our hungry, but picky eaters often presents a challenge and unwanted stress.  When the family looks to you, fellow mom, to answer this all important daily question, they anticipate something that will bring a smile to their face. While  you only  anticipate something that doesn’t resemble chicken nuggets in the shape of a dinosaur. And perhaps you’ve already become tired of the winter rotations of soups and stews. What to make to please everyone?

It’s the normal daily dilemma many of us face.  While this meal requires some minor advanced planning, it is easy to whip up and just as easily devoured.  With some help from our kitchen counterpart- the crockpot- and a crust dreams are made of, this pizza delivers on the promise to be as good as it sounds.

What’s not to love about pizza? I love experimenting with pizza because they are so versatile. Seriously, this isn’t college- if you haven’t broadened your horizons of “homemade” pizza beyond one that comes from a box in your freezer and contains a processed cheese-stuffed crust, then I highly question many other decisions you’ve made in your life.

First, let’s get to the bottom of this- and by bottom, I mean the crust. I personally love a crust that is thick and chewy, with a little crunchy finish from a sprinkle of cornmeal. Now, to save more time, you could always opt for a store-bought crust. But honestly, I’ve been disappointed by so many that I made the profound decision to walk away and I never looked back. My all-time favorite recipe for a perfect pizza crust is from none other than Sally’s Baking Addiction. Prepare to be amazed! I’m just saying.

When making this recipe, I knew I wanted to keep things simple. Of course all BBQ chicken pizzas have two things in common: chicken and BBQ sauce. As far as the supporting ingredients, I chose traditional mozzarella cheese (a safe pizza choice). But I didn’t want a run-of-the-mill BBQ chicken pizza. So then I decided to bring in the big guns. The show stopper. The unmatched vegetable of all things good- onions. But not just any onions- we’re talking caramelized onions… Oh, yea. This ingredient tends to intimidate people, but it’s actually pretty elementary to prepare. And here’s how:How to Caramelize Onions. This knowledge just might change your life. You’re welcome.

Ingredients 

1 Prepared Pizza Crust, according to directions

1 lb. Split Chicken Breasts (bone in, skin on)

3/4 Cup Water

Salt & Pepper

16 oz. Good BBQ Sauce

1 Large White Onion, Caramelized

2 Cups Fresh Mozzarella, Grated

1/4 Cup Cilantro, Roughly Chopped

Directions

Place room temperature chicken breasts in crockpot. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add 3/4 cup of water. Cook on low for 6 hours. Allow chicken to cool, pull off skin, remove bones, and shred to desired thickness.  Add 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce to shredded chicken. Smother the remaining sauce on the pizza crust. Top with 1 cup of cheese, shredded chicken, and  caramelized onions. Add remaining cup of cheese on top. Finish baking according to pizza crust directions.  Remove from the oven and finish off with the  chopped cilantro.

From my humble kitchen to yours…enjoy!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

 

 

Budgeting

The Best Principle to Save Money On Any Budget

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I’ve come across several articles of “How To Stop Living Pay-Check to Pay-Check” and “Save Your First $1,000.”  While I found many of the articles helpful and equally insightful, they lack one very important practical element of advice.

First off, you may ask what qualifies me to discuss budgeting, saving, and money. I will admit, I do not- I repeat- do not have a degree in finance or have published a well-renowned  book with a detailed synopsis of all the money “How-Tos.”

I have, however, learned through years of set-backs, personal mistakes, and life in general, that financial success requires incredible discipline, sacrifice, wisdom, and patience. While I practice wisdom with saving money, I do not claim to have “arrived” at my financial success destination. Because financial success is not a destination, but a continual, steady process.

 Financial success is a slow, steep climb. You have to keep your eye on the goal (the Summit of the mountain), while managing to carefully find your footing each step of the way up.  Be patient-very patient- with the process.

Everyone’s definition of financial success varies. Some people consider it a financial win to have $30 in the bank before receiving their paycheck, while others consider more lofty means like owning a huge house and driving expensive cars, and anywhere in between both ends of the spectrum.

Regardless of what your definition is, there are practical answers right in the Bible- yes, the Bible. I know it doesn’t sound like your typical, catchy title go-to guide for money management, but Jesus spoke more about money more than almost any other subject- 2,350 verses, to be exact. So there is no secret to financial success-the jig is up- because God has already laid out the answers for us. And you don’t have to be within the financial elite to have this wisdom because He designed His plan for you, me, anyone.

Jesse and I, like many people, thought we needed to get out of debt first before saving money, so we put all our efforts into paying off debts. But when an emergency occurred, we ended up back in debt. You can’t neglect your debt, but don’t wait to get out of debt before you start saving money. And we know better than anyone that when you live off one income, have a family to support, and live in a costly society, saving feels like a very far-fetched fairytale.

So why is everyone talking about saving $1,000?  Well, $1,000 is a good starting point for saving because it is a reasonable amount of money in the event of an emergency. By emergency, I’m not referring to Macy’s One Day Sale- I’m talking about times when we blow out a tire or are saddled with a major house repair. Then once you reach the goal of saving $1,000, push toward saving for 3 months living expenses, then 6 months living expenses, and so forth.

While other articles suggest ways to earn a little extra cash here and there, the Bible offers a very simple, yet effective strategy.  It’s called “The Steady Plodding Principle.” This principle is derived from Proverbs 13:11 which states: “he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.” It may not sound as groundbreaking or perhaps even as enticing as some online sources promising simple ways to earn money. But that’s the mentality of our microwave society- a society that doesn’t want to be patient and wants fast results.

Rather than a microwave approach, think of this principle as more like a crockpot approach, so to speak- low and slow, but so worth it at the end of the day. So how do we practice Steady Plodding?

  1. Save Your Change– I realize this sounds elementary and most of us got rid of our piggy banks when we were about 10, but this is such a simple, yet effective habit to practice.  But keep in mind, in a credit card user economy, you will have to use cash in order to make this work!  I know a couple who puts all their spare change in a jar each day and by the end of the year, they have accumulated close to $700. So don’t short change your change! Steady Plodding at it’s finest! (Proverbs 13:11).
  2. Exchange Unnecessary Expenses– Let’s talk about sacrifice. It’s not exactly a word that rolls off the tongue.  Steady plodding  requires some degree of  sacrifice, which again, comes hard in a microwave society- where we are bent toward the easiest method to achieve results. Heaven forbid we give up anything in order to reach a goal. When considering your unnecessary expenses, don’t look in terms of daily or monthly cost. Look at what it is costing on an annual basis. What may seem like a low cost on a daily or monthly scale can actually add up to a larger amount in the course of a year.
  • Daily Starbucks Coffee: $5 ($1,825 annually)
  • Monthly Gym Membership: $25 ($300 annually)
  • Monthly Cable Bill: $100 ($1,200 annually)
  • Monthly Netflix Subscription: $10 ( $120 annually)
  • Monthly Apple Music Subscription: $16 ( $192 annually)
  • Monthly Manicure : $20 ( $240 annually)

These are just a few common examples of extras. If we could reduce or eliminate even just a couple of these, we can exchange the expenses for extra savings. A $10 per month Netflix subscription doesn’t sound entirely unreasonable, which might make you question if it’s really worth giving up. But with steady plodding, it’s not about putting large sums of money in at a time, but consistently adding a little over time in order to attain our financial goals. If you find yourself struggling to save, but have one or more of these unnecessary expenses, then it’s time to put some sacrifice into practice. “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways.” -Proverbs 14:8.

3. Put Back Some Extras– In the event you receive some unexpected or expected extra- you return a purchase, receive a tax refund, or monetary gift- put some into your savings.  There are circumstances when other necessities require attention, but be disciplined not to turn around and spend it on something else. “The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets.” -Proverbs 21:20.

It is my heart’s prayer that the Steady Plodding Principle becomes your best solution to practice discipline and save money.  Believe me, I know saving is a challenge for most of us, but with God’s wisdom and strength, it is possible! “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:13 and “with God, all things are possible.” -Mark 10:27.

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

*Extra Resource for Further Reference: “Your Money Map” by Howard Dayton