Caring For Our Home –

In my post this week, I referenced having to learn to embrace imperfection in my home.  Does that mean then, that I can just “let things go?”  Watch the video to find the answer.

Find the referenced post here.

Were these tips helpful?  Do you do these suggestions already?

Refresh your home!

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Happy Imperfections

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I’ll never forget the day we moved into our country home where we are now.  It had just been finished being built! We were moving into our very first brand new house!

It was surreal.

I wasn’t moving into someone else’s mess or used home that needed work – this one was new and perfect!

We had many strong men helping us on move-in day lifting, carrying and lugging all our possessions into our new abode.  One kind man set down a box in my kitchen and I began to slide it closer to the place where it would be unpacked.  His response echoes in my ears even today:

These hardwood floors will scratch up even by a box being slid across them; you better lift that instead.

I followed his wise advice, fearful of causing some imperfection to come to my new and perfect home.

Those words guided the careful application of pads to every chair, table, foot stool, and anything else that was going to be rubbing across the hardwood.  I couldn’t stand the thought of a scratch ruining the looks of my perfect kitchen, hallway or living room.

But alas and alack, over the four years that we have been here, it has happened.  What would that man say if he could see where a can of green beans fell in my pantry and dented the floor there on a day when I was preparing a meal?  Or the heels that have walked across the planks causing scratches, or the other little nicks and bumps that have happened just because people live here, visit here, eat here, spill here, and do life here?

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Perfection isn’t a word that would describe my home, but I’m good with that now.  I’ve come to see those scratches as reminders that people are more important than my perfect standard.  If we lived here alone there would be far less imperfections, but oh, the blessings of belly laughs, happy shedding of tears, playful frolic, nurturing visits, prayerful conversations and loving of souls that we would have missed!

Thank you, sir, for your good advice.  I’m grateful you shared that with me – I really am.  I’ll keep the pads in place and care for my home as a gift from the Lord, but when the marks are added to the hardwood, fingerprints to the glass, or smudges on the walls, I can smile instead of grimace at the happy remembrance of the people that have helped make memories – not imperfections.

Last week when I mopped the floor, I saw a scuff on the floor and started to sigh, but then was reminded of the truths that God has been teaching me about living more for people than perfection.  Instead of sighing, with every stroke of that Swiffer, I thanked God – by name – for the different people who had been in our home.  It made my heart so happy – happy for my perfectly wonderful memories made in my imperfect home.

Do you ever get caught up in wanting your home to look perfect, and feel frustrated that it isn’t? People are more important.  Look at the people, instead of the imperfections, and you’ll have the freedom to use your home to glorify God!

Refresh your heart about your home.

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Setting the Dinner Table

A part of every day life is eating a meal.  So, too, is the need to set the table.  I’ve heard many women say they don’t really know how to properly put the silverware and tableware out.  Is it just being too fussy to set the table?  No!  But if you don’t know what to do, fear not; it’s not something that requires lifted pinkies or tea cups!

My video today will show how to set a simple table, making it pretty enough for company, but also perfect for your family.  Don’t let them have your leftovers (no pun intended!). Make them feel special by making mealtime an event.  It’s really up to us to make the table pretty, and this simple video will give you a few ideas to show how.

 

What centerpiece do you have on your table right now?

Refresh your family’s dinner table!

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Rosemary Potatoes With a Secret!

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If you love delicious, buttery, (but still light) seasoned potatoes, but don’t have much time to cook, read on!!

Red potatoes are a favorite side dish of mine.  They’re my favorite for potato salad.  They wonderful in Pioneer Woman’s Hot Crash Potatoes!  It’s hard to beat red potatoes roasted with rosemary in the oven…BUT they take a good bit of time to cook in there!  

I was delighted recently to be thumbing through my Cooking Light Cookbook and find a recipe for  Rosemary Potatoes done in the microwave!  They came out still moist, not withered up like some things when they’re microwaved.  I was so happy with the results, I just had to share this technique with you!  I love to have a side dish that can be ready in 15 minutes and taste like you’ve been working on it for an hour!

 I made these potatoes for Sunday dinner – a day when we come home from church ready to eat!  This meal was so fast!  I had a package of honey-glazed ham in the freezer, so I warmed up slices of ham, cooked my green beans on the stove with this method and popped the potatoes in the microwave.  In FIFTEEN minutes dinner was ready!  That’s faster than we would have been seated at Cracker Barrel!  This recipe is a keeper!

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Here’s how you make them:

Rosemary Potatoes

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, quartered (about 4 cups)

Instructions:

Place butter and garlic in an 8-inch square baking dish. Microwave at MEDIUM-HIGH (70% power) 45 seconds or until butter melts. Add rosemary, salt, pepper, and potatoes; toss well. Cover and microwave at HIGH for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. (Mine took a little less than this).

 

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I hope these pictures make you hungry for roasted red potatoes and you try this recipe!  All you need is 15 minutes (or less!).

What kind of potato is your favorite?  And are you like me, and want to throw an “e” on the end of “potato?!!”  What in the world??  Oh well….

With love from my country kitchen,

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Canning Peaches at Home

For years I was really afraid to try canning at home.  I think I was scared by stories of pressure canners and the horrific results.  I have chosen to go the route of a water bath in a “big ol’ canner,” as we say in East Tennessee.  It’s simple, it’s easy and it’s so gratifying.  Today I’m sharing the simple method I’ve been doing for the last three years with great success.  As you can see in my pictures, there are lots of pots of water, so if you can boil water, you can can fruits and vegetables!  

Things You’ll Need:

  • Water Bath Canner (or pressure canner)
  • Quart Sized Jars, Lids, and Rings
  • Jar Utensil Set: containing a jar funnel, bubble remover and headspace tool, magnetic lid lifter, and jar lifter.
  • Peaches (about 15lbs for 6 quart sized jars)
  • Sugar 
  • Lemon Juice or Fruit Fresh
  • Large and Small Pots
Before getting started, make sure you pre-wash all the jars and rings.  The dishwasher works great for this.  Now you can prepare the water bath canner.  
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Fill the water bath 2/3 full with water and place on stove top over high heat to bring to a boil.
Rings can be re-used each time you do canning, but the lids should be replaced.  There is a chance they won’t seal with repeated use.
The easiest way to clean the lids is to put them in a small pot of almost boiling water for about 5 minutes.
First rinse the peaches with cold water.
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Since we don’t want to peel all the peaches by hand, we are going to blanch them. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and drop the peaches in and let sit for 30-40 seconds. I set the timer on the microwave so I don’t lose track of the seconds.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the peaches from the pot and place in a large bowl or sink filled with ice cold water.
Take peaches out one at a time, slice them in half, give it a quick turn and they will split open. The peels should slide off easily and you can remove the pits.
Slice the peaches and soak them in lemon water. I use about 1/4 cup lemon juice in about 3 cups of water. This will help keep the peaches from browning. You can also use Fruit Fresh instead of soaking the peaches. Just sprinkle it over the top of the sliced peaches.
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Remove the peaches from lemon water and place in a large bowl. Now is a good time to start the syrup. You can make a light, medium or heavy syrup. For the light syrup use 6 cups of water and 2 cups sugar, for medium syrup: 6 cups water and 3 cups sugar, and for heavy syrup: 6 cups water and 4 cups sugar. I use the light syrup. Heat the water in a medium pan and slowly mix in the sugar. Bring to a light boil, turn down the heat, and keep warm.
I do what’s called the “raw pack” method where I don’t pre-cook the peaches and I just add them to the jars.
Once peaches are added, pour in the syrup. The one batch of syrup should fill 6 jars if you filled them with plenty of peaches. You should have 1/2 to 1 inch of head space at the top.
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Use a knife or canning tool to press against peaches to remove air bubbles. Tilt the jars slightly and press peaches towards the middle. You will need to do this for the “raw pack” method.
Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean wet cloth and place the lids and rings on. Tighten, but don’t over tighten.
Place jars in the canner.
Make sure you have enough water to cover the jars. Check the chart at the bottom of the page for processing time. Processing times are different based on method used (raw or hot), jar size, and altitude. Cover canner with lid while processing.
Use the jar lifter to remove jars from the canner.
Cool jars completely. You will hear the lids start to “pop” which means they sealed properly. Some will pop while still in the canner. Any jars that have not popped on their own after completely cooled should be refrigerated and used first. Enjoy your peaches!
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Recommended process
Boiling-water bath
Pints – 30 minutes
Quarts – 35 minutes

We will save these peaches for when fresh peaches are no longer in season.  I stretch them out to last all year long!  What a great treat to eat these in the wintertime!

What’s stopping you from trying your hand at canning?  You could start with just a small amount of fruit and get the understanding of the process before launching into a day-long adventure of canning.  

I’m thinking of trying some salsa next!  I have a good number of tomatoes to use and since we like Mexican food so much, I’m pretty sure salsa would be a hit!  

If you could, what would you like to can for wintertime?

With love from my country kitchen,

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Breaking the Habit

“Negative Habits Every Family Should Break”  is the title of the series my husband is preaching on Sunday nights. This past Sunday night he encouraged families to get rid of disorganization. The very evening he was preaching his message, I was reminded of why it’s so important for my home to be organized.

As the service was being started, one of our very own missionaries who was passing through the area, felt led of the Lord to come to Boones Creek Bible Church’s evening service. He was by himself, due to his family being away for a few days, and so he was on no time schedule. After spotting him in the congregation, my husband had him come up and pray during the service. When our missionary guest announced how the Lord directed him to our church, and that he was on no schedule, the Lord prompted my heart that he needed to come and stay with us for the night. It was no surprise that when I talked to my husband after the service, he felt the same way. And so, our missionary friend returned to our home after the service.

As my husband was preaching, and I had been given the prompt to invite this dear man to stay with us, I thought, “I’m thankful that everything is in order at the house. I’m not going to have to go home and apologize for the messy kitchen, dirty dishes or laundry piled up on the couch. Whew!” Oh, not that my house couldn’t have used a dust rag or mop in places, but overall, it was ready for a guest to drop in.

Being organized and tidy isn’t only about teaching your children good habits and responsibility, it’s also about being prepared to be used of the Lord when He prompts your heart. There have been times that I would have resisted having a guest enter my home, trust me! But on this night I was thankful that I was prepared – not so I wouldn’t be embarrassed, but because my lack of organization would have caused my husband and me to miss the blessing of serving this servant of the Lord! It was a delight to have him in our home, and to be able to quickly obey the Lord’s leading.

So, if you look at your lack of organization and say, “It’s just my family, and they don’t care!” You’re missing the whole point. First, we’re stewards of what the Lord has entrusted to us (that includes our belongings, as well as the training of our children), and secondly it will free us up to serve others.
Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:1 – Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. I realize that he’s referring to legalism, but disorganization can also be a type of bondage that keeps us from being free.

Look around your home right now and ask yourself if you’d be good with guests stopping in. If the answer is “No way!” why not start on a path to orderliness? Perhaps you could free yourself from the bondage of disorganization by:
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  • Check out Fly Lady’s “Getting Started” Tips
  • Determine to get rid of 7 things every single day. Put the unused items in a black bag and when it gets full discard it – Goodwill, Salvation Army, Consignment – something!
  • Read Emilie Barnes Books on organization, such as “Organizing Magic: 40 Days to a Well-ordered Home and Life

If this negative habit has been a part of your life, it’s not impossible to get rid of it! Start today and make a little progress at a time. It will be so freeing, and you’ll be ready to serve at a moment’s notice!

Would you be ready and willing to serve others today? What would it take to get you there?

 

Home Project – Wall Decor, Creating Balance

I guess it’s pretty common for homeowners to make improvements in their homes in spring and summer.  The weather is perfect for it, and we have lots of daylight in which to work.  As I mentioned last Friday, like many others, I’ve done several projects in my home, and this week I thought I’d share one with you each day.  We’ll start with a simple one – a wall hanging.

This spring I showed you a little arrangement that I was working on in my living room.  I used a very inexpensive frame found at Goodwill, and changed it to make a whole new look.  You can find that post here.  When I posted it, it wasn’t quite complete, and I promised that when I finished it I would show you what I had done.  So today I’m going to give you a peek at the completion of that project.

Here was the unfinished grouping I hung next to the fireplace –

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Because of what was on the other side of the fireplace wall, I needed another something to balance it out, but I didn’t know what!  Then I came across this wreath tucked away and knew it was perfect!

 

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It gave just the right amount to balance out the large picture on the opposite wall, plus it added a little softness to the harsh lines of the wooden frame and Scripture verse.

I must have tried a half a dozen different items before I landed on that wreath, but when I held it up there, I knew immediately that I liked it!  Sometimes you just have to keep trying different items – pictures, mirrors, shelves, clock or wreath before you find what is perfect for a space.  But you’ll know it when you find it!

Tomorrow I’ll show you the whole wall, and another bigger project that was recently completed!

Do you have a project you’re working on at home, or is there one you need to tackle?  Why not put it on your list and whittle away at it before summer is over?

Refresh your space,

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