Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Time to Celebrate Passover

At our home we like to celebrate some Jewish holidays, as they often times were used to remind the people of Israel how great their God is. One of the main holidays we celebrate is the Passover Seder. The Bible talks about the very first passover that took place in Egypt when the people of Israel were preparing to leave a life of slavery and journey to the promised land. The meal eaten is very symbolic of what they endured while in slavery, shows the hope of the brighter future and points us to the final lamb, the Lamb of God, who redeems us by his blood! Here are the main foods eaten in a passover meal and what they are meant to symbolize. There are three that are required and then some that were added later.

Matzo{the unleavened bread} 
Exodus 23:14 You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As I commanded you, you shall eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt.

The children of Israel had to leave in haste from Egypt so the bread did not have time to rise. The Matzo also traditionally has lines of prick marks to represent that our Lord was stripped and pierced for our sins.

1 Corinthians 5:7-8 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.  Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

The celebration of passover Seder also means that no leavening(yeast, baking soda, baking powder, sodium bicarbonate ect.) or products containing them can be in the house, this is because it was symbolic of sin. When I still lived at home we would strategically use up anything we had with leavening weeks before passover so we didn't have to throw it away. We would save a few things to hunt for before the eve of passover, just to have fun with the little ones. Let me tell you, you have to get creative in what you pack for lunches, peanut butter and jelly matzo is way too messy! 

 Christ in all the Scriptures: Exodus and the Passover Lamb
Roasted Lamb 
 Exodus 12:3,7-11 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers' houses, a lamb for a household.“Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts.  And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn.  In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord's Passover.

This is a very important piece of the passover, as the blood of the lamb was a sign to the Lord to "Passover" that home and not kill the first born child of that house hold. The Jews were spared this plague but it hit the Egyptians hard. It was the final plague on Egypt then Pharaoh let them go.  The neat part about this traditional food is that it all has to be eaten that evening, so if you like lamb this is great! 

Bitter Herbs{Maror} 
 ...with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it.
The bitter herb that we use is Horse radish, to show the bitterness of slavery.  


The parsley, as part of the Ceder, we dip in salt water to symbolize the tears of the Jews in slavery.

This is one that was added later but it is one of my favorites! It is a mixture of ground up apples, walnuts, raisins, a little honey and some grape juice. It is made to symbolize the mortar the children of Israel used when making bricks for pharaoh. It also is there as a contrast to the bitter herbs to show the sweetness of a new life. 
Grape juice/ Wine
During the course of the meal there are four different glasses of grape juice that all are required to drink. 
1st Cup-Sanctification
It is to show how God set apart His people in Egypt. In the same way we are set apart when we accept Jesus as our savior.  
2nd Cup-Judgement
This cup was what Jesus prayed to be taken from Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is the punishment for all our sins. Jesus drank this the night of His death so we would not have to.
3rd Cup-Redemption

Jesus did not drink this cup on the night of his death, He couldn't because it represented redemption. He knew his blood was needed for remission of our sins.
4th Cup-Kingdom
This cup is usually poured but not drunk, this is because Jesus did not drink the wine offered him as He was on the cross. It is a reminder of what we will enjoy with Jesus when He comes back!
 The Passover is the oldest continually observed feast today, it has been going on for around 3,500 years! It is the last meal Jesus ate before he died and he desired to eat it with His disciples, it is a very special picture of what He did for us. It is such a joy that I can pass the story of the faithfulness and redemption of the Lord, and the promise that He is coming again for us to my children through this festival! This Friday at Sunset we begin this years Passover! 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Do You Make Bread When You Nap?

I am sure you have probably heard the passage about the Proverbs 31 woman. I have had some mixed feelings about this lady, sure she is inspirational; she sews, goes grocery shopping a long way away, makes meals for her family and servants while it is still night, she is an investor, gardener, physically fit, never goes to sleep early, she takes care of the poor, provides seasonal clothes for her family and servants and the extra clothes that she sews she sells, this lady never has a idle moment!

This is what the mother of a king was advising her son to look for in a wife. So obviously even a queen was expected to be industrious and intentional about how she used her time. I remember thinking that this list of things was impossible to do and then I realized she had servants! I don't have servants to help me with my work or do I? While I may not have people to help me with my work I do have something that the Proverbs 31 woman didn't and that is house hold appliances!

So There are some appliances that I especially love. My washer and dryer, blender, crock-pot, refrigerator, stove/oven and my dishwasher! They are like the modern servant/helper that make being a mother so much easier. One appliance I discovered that I really love recently is the bread machine. Before I was married I never used one. When I started to go shopping and looked at all of the ingredients in a loaf of store bought bread however I couldn't get myself to feed that to my husband every day.

The main problems I have with conventional breads are most of them contain high fructose corn syrup, genetically modified and or/pesticide sprayed wheat or grains, added gluten, preservatives/stabilizers and sometimes bleach. Not what I want to feed my family. Buying organic loaves is not really affordable for us so my best option is to make it myself. That takes time however and unfortunately, even then it may not turn out. You could end up with a lump of un-usable, shame that ruins your self esteem and haunts your dreams. I have had a bad go of bread, so much so that my husband gave up on me making a nice loaf. Then along comes the bread machine. I was magically able to make bread again! The problem was it was not consistent, sometimes it would be beautiful and other times...it was back to the lump of shame. After looking and trying a whole bunch of recipes I found one, that if I tweaked it a little, I consistently got that nice sandwich bread loaf that looks, smells and tastes wonderful! I make a loaf every week for Josh's lunches and he loves it! The only thing I have not been able to do with a bread machine is to soak the flour to neutralize the phytic acid. I am still working on that recipe but this is a good compromise and I still feel it is way better for our health than conventional breads.

Spelt Sandwich Bread

  • 1 1/4 Cup Warm Water
  • 1 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 2 Tbs Organic Sunflower Oil or Melted Coconut Oil
  • 3 Tbs Honey
  • 2 Cups White Spelt Flour
  • 1 1/2 Cups Whole Spelt Flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp Yeast
  1. Place the ingredients in the bread machine in the order listed, making a well in the flour for the yeast. 
  2.  Set the bread machine on basic loaf, med crust setting, for a 1 1/2 lbs loaf. 
  3. Press start and take a nap with your kids. Oops the nap is really optional :) 
This is so simple and it turns out every time! I love waking up from nap time to the smell of fresh bread! Feels like I was working really hard the whole time while my (servant) bread machine labored over it.

Now I generally wait till it is cool to slice it up for sandwiches. I find freezing the sliced bread makes sure that it doesn't spoil or get stale because it doesn't have all those added preservatives and stabilizers to keep it soft and fluffy and mold free. So if you don't have a large family or just want to eat a whole loaf right now I would recommend slicing and freezing.

I love this spelt bread, I love how it enables me to multitask using all my time to the max and being a little more like that Proverbs 31 woman/super mom. I have come to the conclusion that this passage is an idea of how productive we could be as mothers and wives. So I have decided I will not waste my time in idleness, I will find ways to be a good steward of our finances, health, and time, and I will not neglect to use the help I have been given to accomplish the awesome responsibility of being that wife and mother the Lord called me to be.

I hope you enjoy this bread as much as we do!

                                                                      The Farmer in the Dell

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Can I Meet my Children's Needs?

Do you ever feel so rushed and overwhelmed with daily work that you don't have time to really nurture your children? I know I do, they keep asking you to play with them, hold them or just listen to them, their little soul is just aching for your companionship, and the work needs to get finished. Then they start being destructive or naughty, not because they want to be, but more for the attention that they felt they couldn't get in a more constructive way.

I often feel guilty for not being able to spend more quality time with my children, I feel like they just get to come along for the ride with me and share in my work and life. It has been weighing on me pretty heavy as we are getting into the beginning of our busy season here at the farm so they see their Daddy less too. It makes for less help around the home for me(=a more stressed mommy) and less quality family time as well.

I was reminded while we were having our family devotions recently that even Mary, the woman chosen by God specifically to mother His Son, had days like this too. In Luke 2 Verse 41-52 we see that she and Joseph are in a very busy time in their lives too. They were returning home from Passover, which is a very big holiday in the Jewish culture, and they had traveled with a large group of family to celebrate in Jerusalem; in my experience holiday celebrations involving lots of people is never a stress free event. Then after a day into the journey home they realize he is not with the group. As a mom I know that I would be panic stricken at this point! They back track and look everywhere for him for 3 days! When they do find him he is in the temple listening and asking questions to the teachers. I really feel like Mary was still panicked and unloading her anxiety on her son when she said, "Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You." His reply is Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house? Jesus needed to have quality time with His father. When our children are young, and don't have that personal relationship with the Lord, they feel a need to share be known with us parents instead of with their savoir.

It is such an honor that our children want to be with us and share everything because sometimes when we don't make time we miss the beautiful moments of their personal growth or spiritual connection. I know that I often have to slow down and take a break to just be "with" my children. Draw a picture, listen to a story, eat a pretend meal or just give a hug. The little things that take maybe 5 or so min throughout the day resonate deeply with children; and really, don't we like to have the ones we love share in the little things in our life too?

One of the last things in the story of Jesus being in the temple was that after all that went on it said that Mary treasured all these things in her heart. As we guide our children and share in their lives, those moments where we see their desire for the Lord, we should treasure in our hearts.  It is special, sacred even and as a mother I get the blessed opportunity to witness that with each of my children. I pray that one day, when I share my love for Jesus, their hearts will realize that what I will never be able to fill as a mother, they will always be able to have with Jesus the heavenly Father. The special oneness they crave.

Don't be discouraged on the busy days, instead be encouraged, knowing the only one that is perfect and can meet every need our child has is Jesus and we just have to point our children to Him.  He will satisfy our hearts and fill us up so we can pour out to others. Rest in Him, and share with your precious children in the little moments and big ones too.

                                                              The Farmer in the Dell

Monday, March 9, 2015

How Many Trees Does It Take To Wipe My Mouth?

They make any meal more fancy, they earn a lot more respect than their disposable counterparts, the cloth napkin is ready for it's comeback! We don't think twice about using a cloth napkin at dinner time or for spills but I know some people we have had over are afraid to even use them during the meal. No, they don't bite and yes they do wash out!

We save money and trees by not using paper and I love to have the different patterns and colors to liven up the table. The National Resources Defense Counsel estimates that if every home in the US replaced one 250 count package of paper napkins with recycled/cloth we could save 1 million trees! The average tree can make 28, 750 napkins, which sounds like a lot, but the average person uses 2,200 of them per/year! Why waste the trees on a napkin when there are better things to use our natural resources for. Once you make a napkin stash you wouldn't have to buy another package again!

The kind we use are lined but you can just cut out a square of fabric and hem the edges if you want. To make a lined version is really simple too all you will need is:
  • Cotton fabric, preferably a pattern and solid that coordinate
  • Sweing machine 
  • Thread
First you will want to cut out your squares, you can make them whatever size you like just make sure the squares are all the same size; mine are 11"x11".

Then you want to put the pattern and the outer part of the solid fabric facing each other so you can't see the pattern any more. this is going to be the inside of your napkin.

Fold a little bit of the edges down on both sides.

Now sew around the edges of the square, very close to the edge, slightly rounding the corners and leaving about a 2"-4" space on one side, not at a corner, un-sewn.

Pull the napkin inside out and then sew over the gap, and around the napkin's edge again.

Now you have the finished, fancy, lined, cloth napkin! Wasn't that easy?

     The Farmer in The Dell

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Home Made Cloth Diapers

As I mentioned before we love cloth diapers, but it can be overwhelming if you are new to the cloth diaper scene and you go shopping online. Do you buy All-In-Ones? Pockets? Or Hybrids? How much do you want to invest in diapers is also a consideration as some of the brands/options can be quite pricy. I will just tell you my experiences and the options that seem to work best for us.

 The All-In-One (AIO)
Cost: we tried out a few of these that I had picked up at yard sales or were given to us. So while if you buy them new they range from $10-25 per diaper but we payed maybe $3 per diaper for the couple we bought. Considering a baby goes through about 6-8 cloth diapers/day and you don't want to be doing diapers every day, if you did them every other day, that could total up to $96-$400 for a set.
Pros: The nice thing about this kind of diaper is it is most like a disposable. You put it on the baby, throw it in the hamper after dumping solids, and wash then dry. Very simple and non-intimidating to people who babysit your baby who are not used to cloth. They also are very absorbent, so leaking never really happened with these.
Cons: When you wash and dry this diaper it never seems to get all the layers clean being they are all sewn together. What occurs then is the awful cloth diaper stink that no matter how many times you wash or strip them they still smell like your baby pooped even when he just peed. Or sometimes it gets so bad they smell that way right out of the drier. This is why we don't use AIO's; my kids both get diaper rash pretty bad from it being too many layers that never see the sunlight or really get exposed to the detergent/cleaning agents in the wash. This results in a nasty buildup and eventually nasty odor every time my kids peed. So we only use them on occasion and in the summer when I can line dry them because it takes forever to dry them completely in the drier.

The Pocket
Cost: I have the most of this variety. I got a bunch of these yard sailing, enough for 3 days, and payed about $90.( That also included the inserts, and a diaper bin with 2 bin liners and a wet bag for my diaper bag.)  Looking online you can get these for $10-$35 new. It is good to look when you are buying to see if you are getting the insert with the diaper and not just the "shell". That may be why it is cheaper. So again new it would be anywhere from $96-$560 for a set for 2 days.
Pros: These clean better, and dry faster than the AIO. They also are more of a trim fit diaper so not quite as puffy butt. They are also pretty simple to deal with, the only extra step in that you take the insert out when you put the diaper in the hamper and then stuff them when dry.
Cons: You do have to wash the diaper and the insert every time your baby pees so there is more laundry than some other options. Also depending on the insert you may have to fold the insert before stuffing it into the pocket. So more time lost in prepping the diaper for use after drying. Over all though in doesn't take that much extra time and not having that sink is so worth it for me!

The Hybrid
Cost: This is my favorite option as I feel you can do this very affordablely however you also can really spend on it too. You can spend $20-$35 new on these so $320-$560 for a two day set, or you can make your own set that would last for 3 days for around $25 or less which is the way we did it! More on that later.
Pros: These clean out nice, and make less laundry as you don't have to clean the shell every time you change your baby, you just put in a new pad in the shell. They are the trimmest fit of all the options, and they are great for heavy wetters as you can just buy or make a thicker pad for overnight or big drinkers.
Cons: If they don't snap in the pad may slide around and then there can be leaks. Some of the pads, like I use, require some extra folding.

So out of all the options we tried the one we like best is our home made hybrids! It is simple, clean, effective, inexpensive, and way less laundry! If you want to give cloth diapering a try and not spend a lot this is the way to go!

The things you will need to make the cloth diaper inserts for a homemade hybrid are:
  • old flannel sheets (if you don't have any you can find them at Goodwill or Salvation Army)
  • pack of 16"x16" microfiber towels (We get ours at Sam's Club, you can get 30 for $13.50)
  • thread
  • elastic
  • pins
  • (Optional) snaps
You will want to cut the flannel in rectangles of 24"x8"

Fold the short ends of the flannel down 3" or till they stick out a little bit longer than the microfiber towel and turn about 1" over to form a cuff. Do this for both of the short sides.

Fold the long sides under about 1" and lay in the middle of the microfiber towel. Then pin in place for sewing.

Sew a straight line from one end to the other leaving enough room for the elastic to fit, about 1/2" from the edge of the flannel.Repeat on the other side.

Pull the elastic through the tubes you just sewed along the sides

Sew the one end of elastic down starting right under the cuff. Pull the elastic to create some gather, not too much but enough to have it gusset around the babies legs. Sew the other side down and cut elastic, repeat on other side.

Now you have completed one insert! Just fold the two towel wings on top of each other over the flannel and tuck the ends into the cuffs. It will be a long pad that you insert into the diaper covers. This insert is for the size medium diaper cover. You have the option of putting a snap on the front cuff of the insert and the front of the cover to keep it in place better or you can leave as is and it still works great! You can get the covers on e-bay for about $5 a cover. You will want to get the diaper covers that you can Velcro or snap to close in the front and not the one piece kind as they don't fit as snug and make for messy changes with this style of insert.

You can save a lot of money and reuse, reduce and recycle older materials to make these diapers. It is a great option if you are concerned about the effect you have on our planet and country by not leaving more garbage to decompose in landfills.

Whatever cloth option you choose to use you are doing a great thing for your baby, your family and for everyone else too!