Not as Easy as Pie

Epic pie fail.

I have been searching for an easy gluten and dairy free pie crust recipe for quite a while now. I decided to try a crust made with cereal crumbs. I worked in dairy-free “butter” and some honey. It smelled so good. Then I mixed up some peach pie filling. Yum!!! However, when I put it all together and baked it, it did not turn out well. It tasted like peaches and oats cereal. Good, but not exactly for what I was looking.

So, I will try again another day. Some days it isn’t as easy as pie.

A Kindness Reminder

Best Friends

I had lunch the other day with a friend of mine. She is quite a bit older than me (and wiser I’d say too!) She was lamenting when people were unkind to her for no apparent reason. Not that there is ever a good enough reason to not be kind, but to this lady? I find it incomprehensible! She is so sweet! Who would want to hurt her and why? I want there names! I will hunt them down!!!

No, just kidding! But, seriously? Why would someone want to be unkind? What does it gain them? Does it make them a better person? Does it bring them happiness? Does it assure them a place in Heaven? Certainly not! So, it leaves me to question, why would you do that? I’m baffled.

I come from a place of trying to make people’s lives better. If I can share a smile, a kind word, or hold the door for someone, I am more than happy to do it. I can’t help but think if we all did that, it would be a much better world. I’ve seen the sign before: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” and while I’m not sure who said it first, it seems like good advice.

Look around and see those in need around you! Is there someone struggling with a crying child? Don’t stare! Give a sympathetic glace and a smile. How about when an elder is taking a longer time than you would to finish paying for his groceries? Have some patience. Five extra minutes is not going to hurt you! One day, you too will be elderly! Have some compassion. It is, after all, Christmas! (Not that that’s your excuse to start being ungracious after the holiday season, people! 🙂

Celebrating Advent

Waiting.

Advent is, undoubtedly, a season of waiting. We wait for Christmas. We wait for Christ. Some of us wait for presents. Others wait for the joy of seeing our loved ones’ reactions from the gifts given.

So, have you been celebrating the Advent season? What have you been doing to celebrate? Here are some suggestions as to what to do:

Say some special prayers.

Do something special for someone in need.

Wait to decorate your Christmas tree until right before Christmas.

Use an Advent calendar.

Have a special Advent dinner every week on Sunday, while having everyone dress for each week (purple, purple, pink, purple).

Anything else that brings you closer to your loved ones! God bless and have a blessed and holy Advent!

Blustery Day Beef Stew

The other day, I knew that I wouldn’t have much time to get dinner on the table, and since it was my night to cook, I decided to break out my much-loved slow cooker. I knew that we would be attending Mass that night and we wouldn’t be home until about 6:30 p.m., so I wanted to make sure that dinner was ready to go when we arrived back home. This recipe calls for beef stew meat, but you could also use a round steak that you chop into about 1″ chunks. I was in a hurry, so I purchased the stew meat, something I rarely do unless I find a good deal on it when it’s on clearance. Yup. You guessed it. I shop the clearance meat!

Clearance meat is a good way to find discounted meat that is still just fine. I usually pop it right in the freezer when I get home and put it on that month’s menu. This way you get good meat and you save money. It’s a win-win.

So, back to that beef stew. Here is what I did:

2 Tbsp. sunflower oil

1 large, sweet onion

1 cup chopped celery

2 lbs. beef stew meat (or round steak chopped into 1″ pieces)

1 lb. carrots (baby carrots are fine, or you may peel and slice the big ones into 2″ chunks)

5 medium-sized russet potatoes, peeled and quartered (You may use other kinds and then you may not have to peel them, only scrub them well!)

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. black pepper

1 Tbsp. dehydrated onion flakes

1, 30 oz. can of petite diced tomatoes, drained

1 cup white rice flour (Save until almost ready to serve!)

Place your oil in the bottom of the slow cooker. On top of that, place your peeled and sliced onion. You want to cut the onion in half from top to bottom and then thinly slice down each half until you have no more onion to cut. Add your celery, carrots, and potatoes. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and onion flakes. Add the tomatoes and stir.

Turn your slow cooker on high for a couple of hours and then down to low. If you are leaving for the day, you may just leave it on low. I, however, got a bit of a late start, and needed to speed things up a bit! Right before serving add your rice flour and stir in to soak up the juices that are there and make a pseudo gravy. Enjoy!

Who Are You?

I am His!

During our lifetimes we will take stock of who we are at many points. Maybe you are a young adult, just finding your way in the world. Maybe you are a young parent, struggling with children and spousal issues. Maybe you are a single parent, trying to figure out who you are at this unexpected turn in your life. Maybe you are a senior, wondering if you did everything you were supposed to do with your life.

Wherever you are in your life, one thing is certain and that is that your Creator is in charge. Now, I know many of you are saying that you don’t even think about God during your day, or that He is some abstract vision you have tucked away for trips home to your family. This may be true for you, but for God, it is not. He always loves you, believes in you, and pursues you. You are His child and He loves you more than anything!

Today I went to Mass at a different church, as our church didn’t have enough participants to have a Mass, and there are at least three Catholic churches within about 10 miles of town to make it feasible for everyone to go to a different church. As we were waiting for Mass to start, child #3 decided she needed to use the facilities. So, I took her. It was while I was occupied that I noticed a sign on the stall door. It said “Do you trust Me?” and pictured a girl swinging on a swing with the ropes held by Jesus, and not a tree. I was speechless. How many of us would trust God so much to keep us from falling? And yet, He does that every day of our lives!

Do you honestly think that you can do ANYTHING without God? I used to tell my kiddos, to drive the point home, that they wouldn’t be able to wipe themselves after pottying without the help of God. That point was driven home for me even more clearly after I was in a car accident where both my right kneecap and hip were broken. I literally could not clean myself, and had to have nurses do it. God bless those nurses!

So, my point is, cling to God and do what He would want of you. When you are tempted, know that God sees everything. Choose right and choose His way for you! Happy Feast Day!

Did You Put Your Shoes Out?

The shoes are waiting!

Did you put your shoes out tonight? Why should they be set out and not just strewn across the living room floor like every other night? Because tonight is the eve of the feast of St. Nicholas, of course!

Legend has it that St. Nicholas gave gold to poor young ladies, who wanted to get married, but had no dowry. St. Nicholas gave them each a small bag of gold that rendered them able to marry. Now, don’t get me started on how wrong it is to pay some man to take on a wife! I choose to focus on the general giving spirit of St. Nicholas and remember that he is the patron saint of children. God bless the children!!!

Have a beautiful feast day tomorrow!

Money Savers: Christmas

Special Christmas Gift

I recently read somewhere that a woman felt her family would understand if their presents this year had to come from Walmart. Wait! You can afford Walmart and you think your family would look down on you for that? I aspire to be able to afford Walmart! Darn, woman! What the heck?!!!

So, here I am, facing another Christmas as the poor. No. I am not living on the street poor, but some days it’s quite close. How could I possibly afford presents enough for my four children from Walmart? Even if I was able to afford a measly $10 each, that would add up to $40 ($50 if you include me, and I guarantee they would notice if Santa brought mama nothing!)

And what can you buy for just $10, anyway? Not much! A Summer shirt or two on clearance, if they still have the right size; a mug with cocoa; a small bit of make-up? Seriously, people! This is not going to make my children’s Christmas; nor even begin to fill their stockings!

So, what to do? I learned a long time ago that it’s not just the thought that counts, but the time, effort, and good hard work put into the gift. One of my most favorite gifts, as a child, was a doll playpen and changing table. My grandfather had already made all of his granddaughters a cradle, so I had no need of one of those. I loved that playpen and changing table so much! My mom had gotten it second hand and spruced it up with a fresh coat of paint. In fact, it still resides in my attic, after my kids outgrew it; awaiting someday grandchildren. My children loved it as much as I did. Was it brand new? Absolutely not! Did that keep me from enjoying many hours of imaginative play with it? Negative again!

These days, child #2 loves to paint and be creative. She has painted many a statue, ornament, birdhouse, picture, and many other things. It is always a joy to receive one of her masterpieces. Child #3, one year many years ago (before all of her mental illness was set in stone by her father) wrote lovely things about each of us, tailoring them to everyone’s personalities. I think it was one of my favorite gifts! Those are just a couple of examples, but there are many more.

Why not iron on a special patch on a new sweatshirt, or pair of jeans? Every time they put them on, they’ll remember you! Or, how about painting a piece of furniture someone’s favorite color as a gift? There are many deals to be found a second-hand shops. I have found some great deals at local resale shops. In fact, child #2 just purchased a brand-new, 7-foot, Christmas tree for $20. What a steal!

I have continually found brand-new items at resale shops, with tags still on said items. I feel no remorse at using those items for gifts. In fact, my family knows that, though my gifts may not be brand new, they are still wonderful and full of purpose yet! It just takes a little imagination. Happy hunting!

Cranberry Sauce Solution

My wonderful cranberry sauce.

For years I have avoided cranberry sauce. I like cranberries (as witnessed by my cranberry bread!) I even like to eat dried cranberries or put the jellied cranberry sauce into thumbprint (jolly jelly) cookies. However, every year when I face whether to bother with cranberry sauce, since only child #2 really likes it, I wonder if it’s worth it.

This year I had a thought. I knew my mother’s secret of adding salt to bitter coffee to take out the bitterness, so I thought I’d give it a whirl! It turned out better than expected and, for the first time in forever, I actually enjoyed cranberry sauce with my Thanksgiving dinner! Here is how I made it:

1, 12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries

1 tsp. orange zest

3/4 cup of water

1 cup of sugar, or more to taste

1 tsp. salt

Add all ingredients into a medium saucepan and heat until it comes to a rolling boil, stirring frequently. Turn down and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. When thickened, pour into a bowl to cool. Can be served warm or refrigerated for serving later. It’s really tasty, and even better the second day! Hope you had a beautiful Thanksgiving!