Sunday, October 30, 2011

How To Freeze Basil: Easy Tutorial

I adore basil. It is my most favorite herb! In fact, I love it so much that the name Basil has been on my "names for little boys" list since 1999!

I recently finished putting some freshly picked basil away in my freezer and thought my readers would enjoy an easy tutorial!

It's only within the past couple of years that I've begun to use fresh basil, and while the dried-in-a-jar variety is fragrant and delicious, it doesn't hold a candle to my homegrown!

You will know that your basil is at it's best "picking state" when it gets buds on it and begins to flower.  

Clip as much off as you want but leave a few leaves to soak up the rays for more plant growth! Something to keep in mind with basil: the more you clip, the more you get as basil grows back two new stems for every one that is clipped!

Pick off the big leaves and carefully wash each one. Be aware that little bugs like to hide in the shady places under the dark basil leaves. Wash both sides and run your fingers along to wipe off any dirt or baby snails!

Take a moment to look for any that might be trying to get away!!
When you've washed all the leaves, place them in a colander and shake or use a salad spinner if you have one. Then lay them out in a single layer on paper towels or napkins and pat dry--soaking up as much water as possible.
  Next, place the leaves in a food processor, if available, and pulse until they're the size you prefer. I don't have a food processor so I used my Pampered Chef Food Chopper.
You'll want to add a little bit of olive oil to the basil to keep it from turning black in the freezer. (It doesn't affect the taste...just helps the appearance)
If you are using a food processor, you can add it in as you're chopping the basil. I just poured some in the bowl when I was done chopping with my food chopper and mixed it up with a spatula. The amount you'll need will vary depending on what you plan to do with your basil, but I just used enough to cover each piece.

Finally, you'll want to decide ho
w you're going to divide it up to freeze. It is wise to freeze each recipe size separately. I divided mine up to have a couple good spoonfuls in each container. I plan to put it in pasta sauce and my pasta sauce must feed a family of 10!

You can freeze your basil in small containers, if you have them. I used these two:

Notice they're not fancy! I got one at the Dollar Tree for my daughter's baby food and the other is a little Rubbermaid-type lunch box one. You just need something that will be airtight to avoid freezer burn. If I didn't have these two containers, I would have used sandwich bags and then just placed all the bags into one large freezer bag.

You can also measure your basil out into ice cube trays and freeze it that way. Then, once it's frozen, pop all the little cubes into a freezer bag to be taken out individually for soup, sauce and more! I will be designating a tray specifically for this as I imagine the tray would eventually take on the wonderful aroma and color of basil! (Though that little taste of basil in lemonade or iced tea might not be too bad??)

Herbs will keep for many years but you'll get your best flavor if you use your basil within the year. Here are a few facts about basil:

**Basil comes from the Greek language and means "king". Basil has been called the "King of the Herbs"

**Basil is highly poisonous to mosquitoes, (Yay!) but safe for rats (bummer!)

**Basil is thought to be a great treatment for arthritis and has antioxidant and anticancer properties.

**Basil will affect the taste of tomatoes if planted too close together. This could be a good or bad thing--depending on what you're doing with your tomatoes!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Have a wonderful evening!

Linking with:
Lou Lou Girls Party
Inspiration Monday @ Your Homebased Mom
Metamorphosis Monday @ Between Naps on the Porch
Motivate Me Monday 
Modest Monday @ The Modest Mom 
Living Proverbs 31
Inspire Me Monday @ Create With Joy 
Masterpiece Monday @ BoogieBoard Cottage 
A Round Tuit @ Creating My Way to Success 
Monday Funday @ C.R.A.F.T. 
Making Your Home Sing Monday
Tabletop Tuesday @ A Stroll Through Life
A Return to Loveliness @ A Delightsome Life 
Teach Me Tuesday @ Growing Home
Tutorial Tuesdays with Hope Studios 
(Titus 2)s Days @ Time Warp Wife
The Scoop @Stone Gable
Make Bake Create @ Hope In Every Season
Cottage Style Party @ Lavender Garden Cottage
Tasty Treats @Simply Helping Him
Winsome Wednesday @ My Daily Walk in His Grace
Whole-Hearted Home Wednesdays 
Encourage One Another @ Deep Roots at Home
A Wise Woman Builds Her Home
Homemaking Link Up @ Raising Homemakers
Home @ Rose Chintz Cottage  
Inspire Me Wednesday @ MamaBuzz
What's It Wednesday @ Ivy and Elephants 
Wednesday Link up at Adorned from Above
Home Link Up at Raising Arrows
Homemaker's Encouragement Party

Am I Complete?

Colossians 2: 8-10: "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power."

How many times do we go looking for someone or something to "complete" us? If we are single, we say we need a spouse to complete us. If we are married, we say we need children to complete us. After that, we start saying things like, "If only I...was not so overweight, would gain a little weight, didn't have this debt, had a cleaner home, owned my own place", etc.

We have this sense that we, in and of ourselves, are not enough. We know that we are lacking, so we go on a quest to lose the weight or adopt the newest organizational system or find the perfect spouse. So why, when we do finally accomplish these things, do we still feel the empty spot? Why do we immediately recognize the next big thing that needs to happen for us to feel complete?

The problem is that while we know that we are lacking--that we, in and of ourselves, are not enough--we are going in the wrong direction to find that fulfillment. Verse 9 says "in Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead"--the Three In One--the Trinity...and we are complete in Him. We have been cheated and lied to--and we have bought right in.

The Bible gives us a caution--that we wouldn't be cheated or deceived by the traditions of men or principalities of the world. Have we made the world's deceptions our truths? Have media and magazine covers become our gospel?

The funny thing about God is that He knows our hearts. He knows and understands that empty place where we feel the need for completion. What's more, He knows exactly what we need to fill it. We can find all we need in Him.

Even in Christ, completion won't come by forgiving our brother or cleaning up our act. Yes, those things are important and that time will come, but it can't come until Christ has our hearts. Completion and fullness in God must first take place in our hearts as we surrender everything to Him and ask Him to teach us and to work on us in His timing. Once this surrender to Christ is complete and we are being filled by Him, we will begin to emulate Him. People will begin to see Christ in us as we forgive our brother and get our act together one step at a time through Christ.

My challenge for myself and my readers today is to not accept the lies and traditions of the world. Instead, invite Christ to fill you with his truth and power and find completion in Him.

I am honored to have had this article published in The Christian Home Magazine.  This is an encouraging online magazine that is published weekly.  Check it out!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Easy Beef Stew for Fall and Homemaking Link-Up!

I came up with this great recipe for Beef Stew last night and it was a huge hit at the taste-testing table!  I served it with my Autumn Spiced Cornbread and there was barely enough leftover for Daddy's lunch!

Easy Beef Stew for Fall


  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds beef, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup sliced diced celery
  • 10 cups beef broth*
  • 2 carrots, sliced into rounds
  • 2 medium potatoes, cut into cubes
  • 2 cups apple juice**
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. each of nutmeg and cloves
  • 1 can corn
  • 1/2 c. cornstarch
  • salt and pepper
*A less expensive way to do your broth is to buy bullion cubes and dissolve them in water.  A jar of cubes is likely the same price as a couple cans of broth---yet 1 1/2 cube gives you the same amount of broth as a can.  You will get significantly more broth out of the cubes than the can for the same price.

**I used leftover apple cider from Bible study the night before.  If you use spiced cider, you can eliminate adding the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the beef in the oil.
Add onion and celery and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes longer.  Transfer to a large saucepan or stock pot. 

Add beef broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Add the carrots, potatoes, apple juice, and 3 spices; simmer for about 30 to 40 minute longer, or until vegetables are tender. Add corn; continue cooking 5-10 minutes.

In a small bowl or cup, combine cornstarch with 1 c. cold water until smooth. Add the mixture to the simmering broth, a little at a time, until stew is thickened. Taste and add salt and pepper.

Serves 8 to 10

I hope you all enjoy this recipe!  Please come back and let me know if you tried it and how you liked it.  I'd love to hear other variations.  Did you add autumn vegetables like squash, zucchini or pumpkin?  How did you like it with the apple cider/juice?

Also linking up with Beverly's Pink Saturday and Petite Hermine's Sunday Linky Party.

New Linking Party Starts Today!  Please link up your Homemaking post and grab my button for your blog.  I will visit everyone who links up and pick a few to feature each week!


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Compassion, Not Condemnation Showing Compassion Part Five

This is part five of a study on showing compassion to the unsaved.  Part One can be found here, Part Two is here, Part Three is here, and Part Four is here

When we understand and acknowledge what Christ did for us, we can extend that same compassion to others.   

Romans 5:6-8 says, "For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

We are called to compassion.  1 Peter 3:8-9 reads, "Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another;  love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous, not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing."

When speaking of the unsaved, the Bible calls them "sinners".  While we all sin on a daily basis, Christian or not, the distinction is made between those who will die in their sin because they've refused to accept Jesus as their savior (sinners), and those who are forgiven their sins when they ask with a repentant heart and will live eternally with Jesus (the saved).  So how did Christ treat sinners?

Matthew 23: 27-28: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness."

During a sermon a couple months ago, our pastor said, "His scorn wasn't for sinners, it was for the religious self-righteous."

The Pharisees were equivalent to the hypocritical believers of today.  We can turn up our noses at the Pharisees' behavior, but how many times have we appeared beautiful and "having it all together" on the outside when we were actually dead and unclean on the inside?  Jesus despises the "Christian on the fence".

Revelation 3:15-16 says, "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth."

Sometimes associating with a Christian who is sinning (walking in blatant sin but still claiming to follow Christ) can be a bigger danger than hanging out with an unbeliever.  The "Christian's" sins seem less obvious and we are quick to make excuses for them.  We are also quicker to forgive them than we are unbelievers.  Should there be a distinction?

When Jesus encountered the unsaved, he showed them compassion---not condemnation!

Luke 19:10: "for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."

John 3:17: " For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pink Wrapped Nibbling Carmels

Hello!  Hope everyone had a lovely week!  It's my birthday weekend (Sunday I'll be 32!!) so I'm looking forward to a little pampering from my sweet family!

For today's Pink Saturday post, I thought I'd show off my first offering in a line of candies I'm selling through Etsy:
Pink wrapped carmels!!  Aren't these just the perfect thing to have alongside a plate at a tea party, stick into a holiday package, or keep in your purse for a little sweetness throughout the day?   I made these for my mom's candy store when she had it open and they were a big hit!  Visit my Etsy shop to order your made-to-order batch today!

Speaking of delicious goodies, I'm only days away from my next Weight Loss GiveawayCheck it out and maybe you could win a little something from me!

Have a great weekend and try to visit Beverly's Pink Saturday for more delicious PINKS!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Seperation Mentality -Showing Compassion Part Four

This is part four of a study on showing compassion to the unsaved.  Part One can be found here, Part Two is here, and Part Three is here

In this fourth posting on showing compassion to the unsaved, I want to share with you a third reason why Christians aren't quick to give that grace to those who don't know Jesus.  It's something called the "Separate Yourself" mentality and many of us use it as an excuse to "get out" of "having" to witness to those around us. 

2 Corinthians 6:14, 17 says: "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" and "Therefore,  'Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.'"

But then, Matthew 28:19-20 says, "'Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.' Amen."

So, isn't that a contradiction?  Actually, no.  While it's true that we are to be set apart from those who do not live their lives according to God's Word, there is a difference between the "unequal yoke" of 2 Corinthians and the command to go out into the world and make disciples that Matthew is speaking of.  We can't be very good witnesses if we are so far set apart that we have no unsaved people in our acquaintance or circle of influence.  The "yoke" is a joining together: a covenant and strong commitment; such as a marriage or a close friendship.  You can only get so close with an unbelieving friend before the issue of religion gets in the way.

We can be separate but still be witnesses of Jesus' love and character.  In John 17: 14-18, Jesus prays concerning the disciples: "I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world."

In fact, by befriending non-believers, (keeping boundaries and self-control in place) we can actually be a positive influence and show Christ's love without initially saying a whole lot.  The Good Samaritan story is a great example of love and compassion in action (Luke 10:25-37).  While none of his words are recorded, the Good Samaritan is remembered by his actions.  Read John 13:34-35: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."  They will know we are Christians by our love!  This relationship built on good character and honest love for our neighbor will open doors for dialogue in the future.

Go to Part Five

Friday, October 14, 2011

Should've Known Better: Showing Compassion Part Three

This is part three of a study on showing compassion to the unsaved.  Part One can be found here and Part Two is here.

In previous parts of this study, I talked about the importance of compassion in our dealings with those who don't know Jesus.  In this post, I'll share another reason why we Christians sometimes have trouble offering compassion and grace to the unsaved.

In addition to the "sense of superiority" mentality that I talked about in part two, we Christians struggle with thinking that a person who commits an offense "should have known better".  (We can call this one "Richard Marx syndrome" if you'd like)  When thinking about this part of the study, I was reminded of a lady that I saw in Albertsons recently.  She had her two little girls with her and they were hanging out of the cart, singing, dancing...generally being obnoxious as she's trying to shop.  It was evening so she'd probably had a long day and her kids were wound up and likely ready for dinner and bed.  As I was bagging countless packages of meat to fill our freezer, I listened to and slyly watched her dealings with her kids.  "Stop it! Stop it! How many times have I told you that?"  All the while, she's looking at meat, checking her list, etc.---not once does she stop to look her child in the eye.  "Since you can't mind, you can just go find some other family to live with.  Go!"  Her 4 or 5 year old little girl goes walking down the aisle away from the cart...

My first reaction was to think something along the lines of, "She should know better than to treat her kids that way.  She's not even looking at them while she's spouting off all this nonsense.  I would never treat my kids that way..." etc...

The verse that got me thinking of this woman was Proverbs 5:6: "She does not ponder the path of life; her ways are unstable, she does not know it."  This is speaking of the immoral woman.  Wow...she doesn't even realize that shes unstable!  She doesn't take the time to ponder life's path.  She doesn't even realize there's a better way---that money, weight loss, or a man cannot make it better.

Often times, people will make comments about our parenting style,  how nice we look, our clean home, our intelligent conversation, etc.  It can be hard not to get puffed up about that.  We can take two directions in our thoughts about this woman---or in other similar scenarios:

                Path 1: "She doesn't deserve those kids.  If they were my kids I'd...  Somebody needs to show her how to parent.  I'm an excellent parent, I'd never treat my kids that way.  Does this woman even love her kids?  She should know better!"

                Path 2: Pray.  "Lord, please bless this mother with peace in her home and heart.  Teach her about grace and put someone in her life to encourage her in her parenting and to lead her family to you.  Give her a fresh start tonight and teach her that with just one soft-spoken word, one change in attitude, she can change the whole atmosphere of her home.  Show her that this will lead to the behavior she wants to see from her children."

Another verse on this is Proverbs 4:19: "The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble."  How do I respond to this?  With compassion or with cynicism?  Do I say, "Oh yeah right, surely they know what is making them stumble!"

Think about it:  Why do the lost stumble?  Maybe they didn't recognize the stumbling block as a bad thing in the first place.  Maybe they didn't see it in the road because their eyes were focused elsewhere.  Would their walk have been any better had they had a guide?

Isaiah 30:21 says: "Your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, 'This is the way, walk in it', whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left."  Wow! The unsaved don't have that voice of the Holy Spirit guiding them! Can you imagine?  How sad for them.  Do we have compassion for them?  Do we have enough compassion to do something about it?

Go to Part Four

Chinese Style Pork and Rice Dinner Recipe

This is one of our family's favorites and it's pretty easy to make.  Let me know if you give it a try!

Chinese-Style Pork and Rice Dinner
2 lb. tender pork loin or shoulder roast
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. honey
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. salt
4 c. cooked rice
1 c. scrambled eggs
1/2 c. green onions

Mix soy sauce, honey, garlic, and salt together and marinate pork 24 hours, turning every 6-8 hours.  Remove pork from marinade and bake at 400 for 1/2 hour.  Turn heat down to 300 and bake until internal temperature reaches 170 or the packager's pre-inserted plastic thermometer pops up.

Let pork sit on top of stove or counter about 45 min.  This will help the juices to settle (so the meat stays juicier) and will cool it off for easier slicing.

Slice almost all of the meat, saving a portion for adding to the rice.  Cut the saved portion into small pieces and set aside.  

In a large bowl, mix cooked rice, chopped scrambled eggs, green onions, and reserved meat.  Add salt, soy sauce, and, if you wish, garlic and other seasonings to taste.

Enjoy! Linking with:

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pink Week

Before I show you my pretty pinks for this week, have you seen my Weight Loss Giveaway?  Visit the link if you think you might want to encourage me in my goals...and win a prize for yourself!

Also, I still need one more person in my Pay It Forward game.  If you're interested, go to the link and check it out! 
I thought I'd do a little pink recap of this last week.  Last weekend, I got all of my craft items together in one accessible place.  You can read about that here.  I've been saving jars and lids to store all my little found things in.  Once I get the lids decorated, they'll be a pretty cute set---thrifty!  :)
 Monday was my mom's birthday and I made her this little pillow.  I should clarify...I spruced up an already-made pillow that I found at Salvation Army!  The actual pillow and the lace trimming were someone else's work.

The picture is baby Kynthia Joy right before we brought her home from the hospital and the text reads, "The Best Days Are When Babies Come".  Who can tell me where that line is from?  :)

Speaking of baby Kynthia, she turned 2 months old on Sunday!  She's smiling a lot now and laughing too!  (Not sure what she's doing with her fingers here though...Ha!)

Linking up to Beverly's Pink Saturday!  Have a great weekend everyone!
Also linking to:  

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fall Candy Jar Display

I'm a little late getting started on my fall decorating as we did just move in a few months ago...I'm still trying to unpack!
However, I did a little update on my candy jars that I made last spring and the kids are thinking it's pretty festive!  I'm having a hard time replacing all my pinks and greens with reds, oranges, and browns.  This is definitely strange for me because fall is my favorite time of year!
I'm excited to be linking up with Modern Country Style's Fall In Love linking party today! If you have the chance, head over there and see what other neat fall ideas Sarah is featuring today!

Also linking to parties at:  Centsational Girl (This is a huge one.  Have never heard of her before but she's got over 10,000 followers---hello!)


Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Beginnings of a Craft Room

I just finished bringing up all my craft stuff from the basement and setting it up in my sun room.  Since fall is here and winter is on the way, I don't think I'll be spending a lot of time "sunning" in there!  Now all my things are handy and accessible...I'll get a lot more crafting done this way!  I thought I'd put up my early photos so when it's all cozy and personalized here in a few months, I can see the improvements!

This is the view from the doorway.  Straight ahead is a sideboard I purchased at a yard sale in Mount Vernon, Washington last year.  Now that I've got the high cupboards in my kitchen, I can store my glass and things there and my linens in another hutch in the living room.  I've got lots of crafting supplies stored in there now.  To the right of the sideboard is a plant stand, a pie hutch and our second refrigerator.  With 10 people in the house, one needs a second refrigerator!  To the left is a little white shelf holding supplies and our old (new) dresser which houses all my scrapbooking materials.  Straight ahead is my little table and a counter separating the sun room from the kitchen.

Here is the pie hutch to the right of the sideboard.  On it, I've displayed my 1920s era typewriter and some Japanese things that are special to me:  a tea set that a friend from the UK sent me (made in Japan) and a painting that our cousin painted and auctioned off for Japan's tsunami relief funds.  I, of course, bid until I won...but I think I got a pretty good deal!  Inside the hutch are cookbooks, my couponing materials, and the school books we use regularly.  In that basket underneath, I've got the school books and notebooks that the kids use daily.  This keeps them very accessible when it's time for school each day.  (We homeschool)

Here are some of the jars of trinkets and found items that I've got displayed on top of the sideboard.  I've been collecting them in pasta and baby food jars and plan on spray painting or otherwise decorating the lids here really soon so they're prettier!

Here's a picture of the little white shelf in the corner.  It's holding various supplies and my half-finished Holly Hobbie pumpkins that I need to get done and into my Etsy store here really soon!

This dresser holds all of my scrapbooking materials...there's a lot!  On top are various things and my brand new sewing machine that my husband bought me last week!  The one he bought me in 2003 gave out a few months ago and I've been desperate for another one!

Here's my pitiful little crafting table.  It needs a cloth...or something...  I plan on actually doing most crafts at my dining room table and using this table to let them sit and dry so the main table isn't taken up.  Right now it's holding a few "to do" items, as well as a picture my friend made of the two of us at her bridal shower in 2006.  I'm the blonde one on the left...although my hair is dark brown now...my bleaching days are done! :)

One thing I really love about this room is the pretty light fixture!  I'm glad whomever put it up picked something so pretty...it's one of my favorite things in this house!

Well, there you have it.  I've got it all upstairs...now to create some things to make the room look a little more creative! Linking up today with:
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