Cinnamon Brunch Cake

Cinnamon Brunch CakeSometimes it seems like my little efforts at home are worthless.

Baking and cooking and cleaning seem small things, easily forgotten as the world becomes more and more chaotic. We all grasp onto what we can, but often it seems like the center cannot hold. In the midst of all of the awful news and the prayers and the pleas for peace, it seems like these things at home have no meaning.

And yet…

I open my Bible and find the only One who can bring peace. He is the center that remains constant, the only Light for our lives.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” –John 16:33

And I get up and do what I can for my family, to bring some measure of pleasure to their day.

When my husband left for a meeting, I decided that I would bake a cake and greet him with some yummy smells. This cake recipe seemed pretty easy, so I set to work in the kitchen.

Here are the minor changes I made when mixing up the cake:

  • As I did not have non-stick spray, I just melted a big dab of coconut oil in the pan and spread it around. I did not bother to pour off any excess, which seemed to work just fine with this cake.
  • I added chopped pecans for a crunch.
  • I did not measure the topping ingredients or the melted butter. (I was generous with both.)

This made a wonderfully moist and simple cake for my husband to enjoy. And the house smelled delightful.

When all we have left are prayers and family and home and Jesus, then maybe that is when we truly find our riches. And maybe our little efforts at home still have meaning. At least I hope so.

Praying for Paris, Beirut, and so many other places…

Preparing for Comfort

plumberSo, this happened. Rather than the quiet Thursday that we had expected, a pipe decided to interrupt our plans. Not only was it a lesson in our perspective on unexpected problems, but it also became a test of our own preparedness for such a crisis.

Preparedness? Isn’t that only for SHTF scenarios? Not so fast.

Preparing your household for emergencies can mean the difference between a family who is comfortable during trying times and one who is falling apart. Although we certainly would have preferred to have avoided such an issue, life had other things in store. So how do you deal with even a minor crisis like this when you are without water for even a day? Are you prepared for something like this? Or will a hotel stay be in order?

In reviewing your own preparedness for such an emergency, think of all of the tasks that require water: drinking, cooking, cleaning, personal hygiene…the list goes on and on. By having even a small amount of water storage, you can keep your family comfy cozy during awful times, or even a minor crisis like our own.

Storing water, whether in large containers or small, will take up some space, but it’s worth it. By purchasing bottled water as well as containers designed for long-term water storage, you can be assured that you will have enough for an emergency. And that emergency, whether a plumbing crisis or the zombie apocalypse, will certainly affect your own family’s health and comfort. Preparedness may not provide an immediate comfort, but it will put your mind at ease.

So what did we learn during our adventure?

  1. Yay for water storage! It helped us to not only maintain personal hygiene but also provided us with drinking water.
  2. Attitude is everything. Having the mindset of gratitude is important for even a small crisis.
  3. Adding some disposable feminine products to your storage might be good for an emergency where water is limited.
  4. Having an emergency fund will allow you some peace of mind when having to pay for repairs such as our own plumbing problem.

And there you have it! Our plumbing is now fixed, and we had an important trial run in our own preparedness.

(In case you’re wondering, the plumbing company did a great job. They certainly would have made their namesake proud. I can recommend their work and their professionalism. And no, I’m not getting a paid endorsement; I’m just a happy customer.)

Beginning to Prepare for Emergencies

beginningtoprepareforemergenciesTonight we’re supposed to be in the path of some very nasty storms. Living in Kansas, we realize that it’s part of the territory. I have tried to prepare our family for such emergencies; these attempts could be thought of as focusing on what matters. This is definitely part of keeping a practical household, one that is ready to be self-sufficient if needed. Unfortunately, though, it is often neglected in our day when numerous governmental and societal resources exist.

Taking care of your family doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming. By taking baby steps toward your ultimate goal, you can prepare for the disasters that you might face in your area. Too, by preparing long before any possible problem actually occurs, you will often save money by finding supplies on sale. Preparing, therefore, is practical and possibly frugal.

The following are some areas to consider:

  1. Water storage that will supply your family in case local water supplies are cut off. Be sure and store enough for your family.
  2. Food storage that will provide your family with enough nutrients for a certain amount of time.
  3. Alternate cooking methods in case your gas or electricity is not available.
  4. Methods for keeping you and your family warm or cool during difficult seasons.
  5. Medicine for your family’s needs, along with medical supplies for emergencies.
  6. Print library with information for survival, such as gardening, medicine, cooking, etc.
  7. Alternate methods for communication, such as Ham radio.

These are the basic areas in which to focus, but you will undoubtedly require more specific supplies based on your family’s needs. As you gather these supplies, don’t forget to learn how to use this equipment and gain other information and skills that might come in handy. By taking the time now to prepare for an emergency, you will feel more secure and will certainly be more self-sufficient.

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Lighting Your Home with LED Holiday Lights

lightingyourhomeSeveral years ago, my husband decided that we would purchase holiday LED lights and use them for general lighting purposes in our house. He knew that it would be a cheap way to utilize the efficiency of LEDs without purchasing what were then extremely expensive LED bulbs.

I was less than enthusiastic about the idea. “What?” I asked. “Holiday lights for every day? Isn’t that a bit too festive?”

Still, we proceeded with his plan. He hooked up some lights in our bathroom and elsewhere in our house. I admit that I was immediately impressed. Although you could not read by the light of the LEDs, you could easily maneuver through the house and do most tasks. Too, one thing that I particularly appreciated was that they did not destroy your night vision, and so nightly trips to the bathroom were made much easier by LED light.

LED light strings might utilize as little as 4 watts of electricity. This is about as much energy as would take to power an old incandescent night-light and yet still provide significantly more light. Additionally, solar-charged, battery-powered lights could be used if there is an available window nearby, thus providing light even in an emergency when the power is out. Those holiday light strings are therefore much more useful and efficient than you might have thought.ledsolarlights

With the fall and winter holidays coming up, this is a perfect time to begin looking for LED holiday lights in the stores. By purchasing them on sale, you can be frugal, green, and smart. I will caution, though, that we have found it difficult to buy them after each holiday as the stores often remove them from the shelves the next morning. Too, they are becoming more popular and so harder to buy in quantity. Still, if you are eager for some LED lighting, you can almost always find them in stores during this time of year.

ledglassblockAlthough they may be a bit unconventional—at least for old fogies like myself—LED holiday lights can be a positive way to light your home year round. They provide good general lighting while consuming far less electricity than other bulbs. Too, if they are bought on sale, then they can be a frugal purchase with long-lasting benefits.

Sweet Potato Greens

sweet potato greensIt’s funny how informative Facebook can be. Rather than simply a bastion of bad jokes and silly videos, it can serve as a wonderful clearinghouse for information, some of it very frugal and helpful. While looking through my stream one day, I saw a post regarding the fact that sweet potato greens are edible. As a child of the 1970’s and 1980’s, I remembered growing a sweet potato in a jar, something that so many of our generation most likely remember as well. If a child could do it, then why couldn’t we grow a potato now for easy, cheap greens? It turns out, we could.

My husband and I purchased an organic sweet potato at a local health food store. We simply stuck some plastic forks in the sides of the potato to suspend it in the jar, filled the jar with water, and then placed it in a sunny window. Regularly adding water to the jar, we eventually had a potato providing us with lots of free greens. With the cost of fresh food continually rising, you can’t beat that!potatoes

When the sweet potato was spent and shriveled, we decided to plant the potato outside in our garden. Over the summer, we enjoyed the beautiful blossoms from the potato plant that grew in the warmth of the sun. And then, to our surprise, we dug up a new crop of potatoes from that first potato that we purchased several months ago.  That one potato provided us with both greens and a second generation of potatoes.

Maybe your family would enjoy this as a project as well. It is certainly a way to teach frugal living along with gardening. Too, it is so easy that even a child could do it!