Ideal vs. Real: Food Edition

Hi!

I’m looking at another “Ideal vs Real” situation that happens a lot in our house, every day in fact. Probably in yours, too. At least, I hope so. πŸ™‚

Food.

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Delicious chicken and black bean chili over rice

You know how it is trendy and hip these days to only buy organic, locally- sourced foods that are free-range and GMO free and soy free and probably gluten free?

Well.

My blog IS called “Live Simple Natural” for a reason, so I’m not going to bash on any of those choices. I agree that food should be as chemical and preservative free and locally sourced as it can be, if at all possible. Food can be healing, or harmful, depending on the choices you make. But at the same time I have to confess; in reality I don’t always follow my ideal rules for choosing and buying food.

My Ideal:
~Organic (or grown without the use of pesticides or chemicals even though it may not be “certified organic”)

~Fresh and/or local

~Free-range (for eggs and meat)

~Grass-fed or pasture raised (for meat)

~Soy and High Fructose Corn Syrup- free

*Side note- I heard the FDA is now re-labeling HFCS as “fructose” to try and sneak it into foods still- just a head’s up. Not sure if it’s true, but I wouldn’t be surprised. They had relabeled it as “corn sugar” before that.*

~Low sugar. NOT fake substituted sugars like Splenda or Sweet n Low, but stuff that doesn’t have a lot of sugar in it to begin with.

~Also, no food colorings. (red 40 and yellow lake, I’m looking at you!)
Now, these are not bad guidelines. Obviously I want our food to be as natural and healthy as possible, because the less processed a food is, the more nutrients it has and the more healing it is for our bodies. But there are those ‘every once in a while’ times where I throw caution to the wind, for various reasons. So I’m gonna get real and confess my food crimes, ya’ll.

Real:
~We ate lunch at Arby’s over the weekend and had (gasp!) POP. (aka soda, aka coke, aka root beer)
HFCS Β and caramel food coloring all up in here! And I have to admit, it was delicious. Terrible for you, but delicious. I sucked my Mug root beer down and savored every last foamy drop. I may have even let Olivia have a sip of foam. And she loved it too. She’s probably messed up forever now.

~I don’t buy organic everything. It’s too darn expensive! We try to stick to organic meat and dairy. We buy local eggs. I only buy organic fruits like peaches, berries, apples, tomatoes and veggies like lettuce and zucchini. But avocadoes, bananas and oranges, asparagus and potatoes? Conventional, unless the organic ones are on sale. Like, really on sale.

~Sometimes, if something has soy leithecin (or however you spell that) in it, and I really want to eat it (like chips or crackers or something like that) I still eat it, even though soy is one of the most genetically modified crops in the US. And also even though it messes with your estrogen levels.

~I bought vitamin C that has food coloring in it. I couldn’t find one that didn’t have any in it! Oh, the humanity!

~We eat ice cream with corn syrup solids in it. And it is super yummy.

~Sometimes we buy frozen pizza for dinner.

I figure if we eat really healthily for about 80% of the time, its okay to go all out and eat those bad foods every once in a while. Because really, if you have a diet that doesn’t have a little bit of indulgence, you’re not going to stick to it for a long time. It’s gotta be a lifestyle that you can stick with, right? I also don’t want my kids to be so deprived of a food that they over-compensate and eat way too much of it later in life. Balance is key.

So in a nutshell; I have ideals that I don’t live by. I bet you do too. But I think its better to have ideals and at least sometimes live by them than not have any at all and throw caution to the wind. There are so many levels I could go on with that thought right now…but we’ll stick with food-wise here.
So, mama (or dad or whoever) :
if you have food ideals and don’t always live up to them, it’s okay. You are human, you can’t be perfect.
(This is coming from an ex-perfectionist- I know how it is!)

Just do the best you can at that time and have grace for yourself and others.

Because food is about nourishment and family, and community and sharing life together, not calories or sugar content or GMO vs non GMO.

Focus on the whole picture, not the details. πŸ™‚

Dreaming…or Discontentment?

Today I’m going to share a few dreams of mine.

Not nighttime while-you-are-asleep-dreams. Those are too weird. πŸ˜‰

Like the one I had once where Star Wars Storm Troopers attacked my house and there were bombs dropping that bounced like super balls….yeah. Weird.

Not those.

Maybe instead of dreams they are more like goals…things I want to do and hope to be able to but am not sure if I can. So yeah. Dreams.

Probably one of my biggest dreams is to have a little farm.

A cute old house, a barn, a few cows and pigs and maybe sheep. I’d love room to have a nice big garden, a root cellar, a spring house (instead of a fridge). Space for the kids to run and play and get lost in the wonder of being outside. Β A place for our chickens to sleep and a nice yard for them to scratch around in.

 

Our chickens are loving being able to eat all the new plants coming up!

Our chickens are loving being able to eat all the new plants coming up!

I want the farm to need a little fixing up, some love to get it back into shape. I don’t want a clean, new house and fancy barn. I want old, rustic, something with history and character. I’d like a place we can put our fingerprint on and make just how we want it and not be afraid of messing up with mud or dirt or if something gets colored on the walls. I like the satisfaction that comes with hard work, with knowing we made something better than it was, with our own hands.

Road Trip: Finished!

This is a farm we passed somewhere in Iowa, on our trip from Tennessee to Washington.. I took the picture from the car, hence the blurry foreground.

 

Sometimes, I want these things so badly it almost hurts. So badly my eyes fill with tears when I think about it.

Then I wonder…

Why do I want these things?

So that we can produce most of our own food and not rely on the ever-increasing dangerous industrial food system.

Because I want our children to learn the skills it takes to run a small farm, and the responsibility that comes with such hard work.

Because I like having little animal friends that follow me around everywhere.

Because I really enjoy getting my hands in the dirt and cultivating it and watching plants grow.

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A black bean sprout from our garden last year.

So we can have a place that our kids and grand-kids can come back to when they are grown and gather there and cultivate new memories.

So we can teach others about gardening and homesteading, and how to be more healthy and sustainable.

 

When I think of these things I wonder…

Am I being discontent with what God has given me?

I have a lovely sweet amazing husband, three amazing children and countless other blessings! We do have chickens living at my parent’s property and fresh eggs. We joined a CSA to get fresh organic vegetables. I have a nicer house to live in than we’ve ever had before and a great church family and my parents and two brothers and sister close by.

Am I being discontent with where I am right now? Β 

In a neighborhood with round-up saturated green lawns all around me and soil that is polluted beyond use for a veggie garden…yet literally a million dollar view of the mountains and ocean, and a beach that we can walk to! And a deck where I could container garden if I made the effort.

I wonder…

Did He put these desires for a farm in my heart or did I?Β 

Am I just being idealistic and trying to escape reality?

I don’t know.

 

I do know this, though: When my desire for a sweet little farm is greater than my desire for what God has for me, for our family-

Then I am being discontent.Β 

Then, I am making it an idol instead of a dream.

Then, I am in sin.

Because no matter where life takes me, my greatest desire should always be for God.

For what He has for me, and who he wants to make me into.

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

And the smaller details of life are insignificant compared to the all-surpassing joy and freedom of knowing Christ.

Because He is my peace.

He is my Home.

He is my life.

No matter where I end up, or what God brings me through, that is enough. He is enough.

If I get my idyllic farm someday full of hard work and the sacrifices that come with it, that would be amazing. If I don’t, I’ll get over it eventually. In the meanwhile, I try to be hopeful and stay content with where I am. Β And when I fail, there’s God’s grace that can cover any sin, if I just ask Him. πŸ™‚

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Our Life in Pictures

Hey, everyone!
It’s been a bit since I did an informative post, mostly because I’ve been pretty busy lately, but hopefully later this week I’ll have something to share . For now, here are some pictures of my beautiful everyday life:

My dad brought home a bunch of branches from a tree job he did, and this is how he and my brother (in the excavator) got them out of the back of the truck. Pretty smart, I think! It sure was cool to watch!

My dad brought home a bunch of branches from a tree job he did, and this is how he and my brother (in the excavator) got them out of the back of the truck. Pretty smart, I think! It sure was cool to watch!

My current knitting project: a scarf for my mama. I hope I get it done before it gets too warm to wear it!

My current knitting project: a scarf for my mama. I hope I get it done before it gets too warm to wear it!

Eliana and I made cookies Saturday morning while Hubby and Ethan were at a men's breakfast.
Eliana and I made cookies Saturday morning while Hubby and Ethan were at a men’s breakfast.

Cookies! (my mom actually made these ones)

Cookies! (my mom actually made these ones)

Yes, we have an indoor clothesline. Because we have lots of wool clothing. And it rains so much we always have things to hang up to dry!

Yes, we have an indoor clothesline. Because we have lots of wool clothing. And it rains so much we always have things to hang up to dry!

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My to-do list today. I can cross off "blog post" now! :)

My to-do list today. I can cross off “blog post” now! πŸ™‚

Books from the library. We go about once a week, and the kids love it!

Books from the library. We go about once a week, and the kids love it!

My fabric stash. I can't wait to make something from that fabric on the top! Don't know what I"m going to make yet though.

My fabric stash. I can’t wait to make something from that fabric on the top! Don’t know what I”m going to make yet though.

Oranges and grapefruit are on sale right now. They're a little bit of sunshine in the rainy days!

Oranges and grapefruit are on sale right now. They’re a little bit of sunshine in the rainy days!

We had Β a lovely weekend full of bonfires, pruning bushes, easy dinners and lots of sitting by the fire reading. I hope you have a great week!!

Those Days

You know those days when you just can’t seem to get anything done?

When you want to put some chicken in the crockpot for dinner but you have to keep running to the other end of the house to referee the kids and keep them from putting twist ties in each other’s hair and wrecking each other’s lego creations, then you just get back into the kitchen and remember that you need to switch the laundry, then another fight breaks out and you try for two hours to get that darn chicken into the crockpot but are STILL unsuccessful because you keep getting interrupted??
Oh, and there are no clean dishes so you have to start washing those just to clean a place on the counter so you can put the crockpot where it will reach the electrical outlet?

I am having one of those days today.
I sure can’t do this mom thing on my own!

I am so thankful that I read this verse in my quiet time with the Lord this morning, because I desperately do need HIM:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.”
Proverbs 3:5,6

I need God’s direction today so I don’t go crazy with stress and impatience! My path today has been erratic and twisty and full of stress, just trying to get through the day. Nothing super important has happened, yet the day has just been really hard!
It’s amazing how when we take our eyes off of our problems (however big or small they may seem or actually be) and put our eyes on Jesus, what a peace He gives us and our paths just seem to straighten out and slow down. When we rest in God, everything falls into place because we let Him do His job, instead of us trying to do it for him.

If you’re having a bad day, or overwhelmed with problems, just take a few minutes to fix your eyes on Jesus, and remember that He died on the cross for your sins and rose again for YOU, and that if you let Him, he will make your paths straight, no matter how crooked they may be. It kinda puts things in perspective.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or faint hearted.”
Hebrews 12: 3,4

I feel so much more peaceful after taking some time to ponder and surrender my day to God.
Oh, and I did finally get my chicken in the crockpot. πŸ™‚

Fall is Here!

It’s officially fall, my favorite season!

The mornings are chilly, with fog wafting over the fields and the days still mostly sunny and warm.
It frosted this morning for the first time, and boy did the heat from the woodstove feel nice this morning as it warmed our sleepy house!

I love fall.
I love the changing colors, the coolness of the outdoors, getting to wear sweaters and seeing pumpkin stands on the side of the road.
I love making apple crisp for dessert and chicken soup for supper, with homemade biscuits and settling down for a nice lively card game after dinner with my family.
I love seeing my breath in the air as I exhale, the crispness and chill that tries to creep into my bones but is banished as soon as I step in front of the toasty warm wood stove with a cup of hot tea in my hand.

The Italian Prunes are ripe on the tree and my mom and I picked all of the good ones a couple of days ago. There were quite a few, so we decided to make prune (or plum? what’s the difference, anyway?) butter.

We made some in the crockpot, let it cook overnight and….its kinda gross. It looks good here, but when it was done, it just wasn’t very good.
It wasn’t totally gross, as in ‘just can’t eat it or I”ll gag’, but I’ll be honest: if there was another choice to put on my bread, I’d take it.
So….we put it in the freezer (because that’s what you do with food that you don’t really like but don’t want to throw out just yet) and might make some muffins or something out of it.
I’m kinda disappointed because it smelled amazing and looked really good, but when we tasted it…yeah. Not so good.

In other news,
Monday was Tim and my (Tim and I’s? Mine and Tim’s? Grammar help??) 7 year anniversary and we went out on a lunch date to celebrate.
We had lunch at this cute little bakery in Coupeville and then walked on the pier, then went thrifting.
Here are a few pictures from that, it was a gorgeous day!!

The Coupville Pier

That bird sitting up there is a Blue Heron

Gorgeous, Huh? I still kinda feel like we’re on vacation…haha it’s just so beautiful everywhere you go. I can’t believe I took this all for granted when I was a kid. It’s so nice to be back. πŸ™‚

Hey, next week is Kid’s Clothes Week Challenge, and I’m going to be participating again!

If you want to know more about it, check out the Elsie Marley blog and sign up, it’s so fun!
You sew an hour a day for a week and see how many things you can make for your kiddos. (Or grandkids, or friend’s kids.)
I’m going to be making Christmas stockings and maybe some doll clothes, and possibly something else if I can find anything cool on Pinterest, which I’m sure won’t be hard. πŸ˜‰

That’s all for today’s ramblings, come back in a few days for something new!

Change Is A Comin’….

Things have been a little crazy around here (or a LOT crazy)

Because…

We’re moving!

In two weeks.

Clear across the country, to Washington State.

It’s a long story but basically, we’re losing our home here in Tennessee and moving to Washington to live with my parents in their big house out in the country.

 I feel like I have to add that we’ll be paying them rent and getting jobs, we won’t just be bumming around. πŸ™‚

Please don’t feel sorry that we’re losing our house.
We know this is what God wants- He orchestrated the whole thing.
He gives and takes away, and we know that this is Him taking (a big) something away for us to purify us from our attachment to worldly goods and comforts. Honestly, it’s been really freeing.

Okay so here’s the scoop because I know you have questions so I’ll try to answer some of them:

We are WAY underwater on our house (a.k.a. owe more than we could sell it for) and couldn’t sell it if we tried (and we wanted to in the spring!)
But we just accepted the fact back in April that we couldn’t sell or rent our house and were planning to live here for who knows how long and then…
God opened a door.
A big one.
Not the one we expected, not the easiest one to go through, our pride (and credit) has taken a hit for sure!
But the right door.
So we’re walking through it.

We got behind on our mortgage and were frantically praying for God to provide, and he said, “No.”
He has something better for us in Washington, and I’m so thankful that even though it’s been a hard process, I’ve had such a peace about the whole thing.
I know He’s got us. So I don’t have to worry about anything. (which is hard, because worrying is kinda one of my favorite pastimes.) But I really feel at peace now. It’s wonderful.

We’ve sold almost all of our “stuff” and are planning to drive across the country on a 5 day road trip with whatever we can fit in our trusty little Toyota Corolla, along with our two kids and dog Lucy AND our kitten, Baby Kitty.

We. Are. Crazy.  Who brings a kitten cross country? We do.
Also: who names a kitten “Baby Kitty”? We do. Original, right??

ANyway.
I’m so looking forward to my parents being able to see the kids (every day!) and for the kids to get a rural upbringing without gunshots in the night and drug deals on the corner.

Yep. That really happens where we live now.
Oh, and I forgot to mention the rednecks that live behind us that blast their country music and ride their go-carts around their back yard ALL DAY LONG and blow dust all over my clean laundry hanging on the line…

Then there are the things that we’ll miss here like our dear, dear friends; going running along the Mississippi, the fun free events that are available in the city and just the pretty leafy trees and the cicadas humming and the fireflies twinkling in the twilight.

Instead, we get to wake up and look out at fog-covered cow fields and run around in a huge yard and see bald eagles on a regular basis flying over the blue, blue ocean and not have to worry about getting obliterated by a tornado.
We’re going to be right near the beach so we’re really excited about building sand castles and taking nature walks and just enjoying the things in life that matter-God and family and being outside with each other, enjoying God’s creation together.

Please pray for us, that we wouldn’t go insane on the trip and that we’d get there safely.
My blog posting may be a bit spotty here in the next few weeks but I promise you I’m taking a TON of pictures on our trip across this beautiful country. I can’t wait!

Food Waste Friday: Only buy what you will actually use

Hey, Friends it’s

FoodWasteFriday

And I missed out on last week because I was getting ready for my Ethan’s 5th birthday party.
However, I have some waste to show you this week….one of which isn’t even opened at all.
(hangs head in shame)

We bought this 2-pack of ranch dressing at Costco about…..hm, I’d say 9 months ago and we JUST finished the first bottle.
Check out the expiration date:

What was I thinking?!?!
We don’t eat that much ranch dressing!

I feel terrible for wasting an entire gargantuan bottle but I was scared to try eating it after the expiration date, with the egg yolks and stuff in there.
If I’d have been more proactive, I’d have at least donated it to a food bank like 6 months ago.
I will never buy that much again- I actually want to try my hand at making my own ranch dressing sometime, without all of the soy protiens and hydrolized oils in it.

Moving on.
The only other things we wasted this week were:
A serving of chicken curry that hubby took to work and didn’t eat and then it got left out unrefridgerated for several hours

and a couple of half-eaten hot dogs and a half a slice of bread. ( no picture for that one though.)

How did you do this week?

This is shared at The Frugal Girl, who was inspired back in 2008 to document her food waste in hopes of reducing it. It worked, and she invited others to join in, and so Food Waste Friday was born!

Hodgepodge of Thoughts, on Life and Faith

I’ve been really thinking lately, and struggling with a few things and wondering what God’s purpose for us is right now in this season of life.

(This is a somewhat more “deep” post than usual…so if you’re looking for crafts or natural living, today isn’t the day. πŸ™‚

We thought we were moving to Oklahoma in April.
It turns out, every door we tried to open was closed- we couldn’t sell our house, we couldn’t find a rental house, we couldn’t find a job, we couldn’t even get change of address forms from the post office! (I tried two different post offices, and both of them were out.) That was the final tipping point- down to the little details, it was clear that God wanted us to stay here.
We prayed and prayed about it and it was obvious we needed to stay where we are.
So we did.

God has totally blessed our obedience and given Tim an awesome new job, we have our cute chickens and are financially doing better than we have …pretty much ever, even though things are still tight.
But…
I still feel discontented.

Like I’m missing out on some great adventure, and instead I’m stuck in this hot, sticky, sunny place with no beach and tons of humidity when all I really want is to see mountains and have cool nights and rain and be able to be outside for more than 5 minutes without feeling like I’m going to faint from the heat.
I feel frustrated because I really don’t want to be here.
 We have several friends who are moving away and I don’t want to be left here without them and without any family.
I wish we could still move, not to Oklahoma but somewhere else…somewhere cooler with mountains and wide open expanse where we can have a small farm, but it just seems impossible.

Yet, I just have to trust that God knows best for my life; for our family, that His plans are right and true and good even when they don’t seem like it.
The theme of the year for us is “Trust” and boy, is God teaching me that right now.
I know he is good, but do I really trust him? Even when he leads me places I don’t want to be?
The answer has to be yes, even though my flesh cries out “no” with each passing moment that it is denied.
I have to trust, because if I don’t, I would be denying Him lordship in my life which means I wouldn’t really believe he is; indeed my Saviour and worthy of all my trust, my praise. That He is worthy of all glory and honor and obedience…and I am nothing without Him.

A song keep coming to mind when I have days like this; it’s by a band called Something Like Silas (they’re not together anymore but they were really great)
It says:

“So I’ll trust You, when I cannot see,
So I’ll trust You, when the shadows hover over me
And I’ll love you, when the distance leaves me cold,
And I’ll love you, and I’ll still believe that You are Sovereign Lord”

And then the bridge goes,

“I’m learning to trust, I’m learning to feel, I’m learning to love you, always.”

And so, even though I don’t know why we’re supposed to still be here, I will trust.
This verse jumps out at me pretty much every morning, when I’m having my quiet time on the back steps, sipping my black, sweet coffee and watching the chickens scratch in the dew.

I am doing my best to dwell in His shelter, because that is really the only shelter we need.

“He that dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Psalm 91:1,2

Food Waste Friday – Well….

Hi.

Confession Time:

So, I’ve completely dropped the ball on (almost) everything lately- Hubby’s new job has taken some time to get used to and everything is different and I haven’t been wanting to cook which leads to
1. eating leftovers (good!)
or 2. eating out (not good on the pocketbook or the waistline)
or 3. food waste. (bad.)

Now, don’t get me wrong. Hubby LOVES his new job and I like the hours too, (6a-3:30p with Saturdays off is SO nice when we’ve been doing 9-5 and then a ten hour shift on Saturdays) but I’ve had to shuffle everything around and I’m trying to figure out a new menu plan (because we’re shopping at different intervals now) and its just been pretty hectic.

I don’t have any proof of the said food waste, but just know it was there.
Probably more than I care to imagine.
I’m kind of glad I didn’t take pictures, because I’m already embarrassed letting you all know that I have completely sucked at running my household for the past two weeks, let alone you seeing all the money we’re throwing in the trash. Or the huge pile of laundry that is sitting in my room, waiting to be folded and put away. (Hey, at least it’s clean, right?)

Ahem.

Since I don’t have any pictures of food waste, would you rather look at my cute children? I thought so.
This was our afternoon a few days ago. πŸ™‚

Wild Strawberries are growing everywhere in our yard, and the kids love eating them.

Sprinkler Time!!

It’s been in the high 80’s and around 90 all this week.

Water is way more fun to drink when it’s spraying you in the face πŸ˜‰

For Next Week…
We’re going out of town on Monday for a week, and we’re planning on being as thrifty as possible- all of our dinner meals are graciously being provided by my sister-in-law or her extended family, we’re taking advantage of the free hotel continental breakfast and only planning on eating out twice while we’re there. Or maybe three times.
I have bagels and cream cheese and lots of coffee, for we are driving for 7-8 hours the morning we leave; fruit and crackers to tide us over in the car and lunch fixings for sandwiches throughout the week, so food waste hopefully will be minimal.
We’ll see. I’ll have my camera with me at all times, so I’ll try and be diligent about snapping pictures of any waste we may leave behind. πŸ˜‰
I hope all of your weeks were better than mine this week!

This is shared at The Frugal Girl, who is the brains behind all of this food waste documentation.