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2008 December » Philoxenos


Financial Peace University

30th December 2008

Financial Peace University

Most of you don’t know where I live, so this post won’t mean anything to you.

Handsome will be leading a course at our church called Financial Peace University, starting in February. It’s a 13 week course developed by Dave Ramsey, nationally recognised radio personality. He has written a book called Total Money Makeover and a couple of others. His radio programme is pretty good too. Basically it’s a simple program to teach people financial management - getting out of debt, making a budget, saving for retirement, all those kinds of things. I read his book a couple of years ago after my brother and his wife recommended it.

No matter where you are financially we’d love to have you join us. It’s all taught by DVD lessons, you don’t have to be a member of the church. We’ll be meeting on Wednesday nights and there will be childcare. If you’re interested let me know and I’ll get the information to you when it’s available. We will be making a decision about the start date within the next week.

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30th December 2008

results of a day of cooking

Well. I’m tired. I just took off my shoes and I realised that they had been on my feet all day. ALL. DAY. Since 7am when I got dressed. I’m not a shoe kind of girl. I liked living in New Zealand for that reason because I didn’t have to wear shoes all the time. I’ll never forget when I first started working at the University of Canterbury after being in NZ just six months and I saw university students going to class without any shoes on! A few years later I found myself going to the supermarket without any shoes. I didn’t even notice until I was halfway through my shopping. Oh well, when in Rome…

I’ve got a freezer full of meals for my friend, which I’ll deliver tomorrow, as well as some for my own family. I made at least three of each recipe, so I’m giving her two and saving one for us. She’ll get  a total of ten meals, along with instructions. If I were a really good blogger (which I’ve never claimed) I’d have a picture to show you with all the meals nicely stacked somewhere so you could oooh and aaaah over my stash. But I’m not a good blogger, so I don’t. Besides, the deep freeze is pretty dark and you wouldn’t be able to see them anyway.

So, I highly recommend Fix Freeze Feast, as referenced in my previous post. And I particularly recommend Cheesy Chilada Bake. Handsome had three helpings. It was reeeeeal good.

And Wilm, glad to hear you enjoyed the enchiladas! The chiles aren’t spicy at all and the leftovers are almost better than the first go round!

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29th December 2008

Cheesy Chilada Bake and other craziness

I love to cook. Combine this with a friend who has recently started fostering a sibling group of five (in addition to their own four) and you get Michele in the kitchen for a long time.

I have been doing freezer cooking for years. You know, cooking a bunch of meals and freezing for future use. I realised when I found out about the extra kids that the best thing I could do for my friend was to cook. She and I have come to an arrangement and over the next few days I’m going to be cooking some meals for her family. I love doing this. The planning, the shopping, finding an economical way to make a lot of food, and I love the cooking part too. But when I came home from Sam’s Club with 12 pounds of ground beef, 6 pounds of chicken breasts and 6 pounds of chicken thighs, as well as lot of other stuff, I start to get overwhelmed.

Because I bought a Coke at Sam’s (which is a big no-no after 7pm for me) I was raring to go when I got home. At 9pm. So I thought I’d get started.

I chopped and diced and threw some of the ground beef in the stockpot with some of the other stuff. It cooked and now it’s waiting to be made into Cheesy Chilada Bake tomorrow. I’ve got it packed in ice in a big plastic bucket in the garage, which is about 35 degrees. If I put it in the fridge hot it would compromise the temperature of the refrigerator, thereby creating nasty bacteria in the other raw meat I have stored there. I figure it’s pretty darn cold out there tonight and with the ice it will be just fine.

As I was cooking all this meat, I realised I was going to need to call in the troops. One of my problems is that when I do freezer cooking I just want to get it done. A lot of it. So I buy a lot of stuff. And of course meat doesn’t keep forever. Because much of what I make is frozen raw, I can’t freeze it and then thaw it and refreeze it again raw. So this is some time sensitive cooking!

Anyway. I’ve cleaned up the kitchen, written up my game plan for tomorrow. A friend is hoping to come over by 11 am and I’ll get her working on the meatballs. I’ve got a plan for dinner tomorrow night, which will be cooking in the crockpot all day. I love the crockpot. All I need to do now is take out the rubbish, brush my teeth, and go to bed.

Let me tell you, I am soooo glad that I put the clean sheets on the bed this afternoon instead of waiting until right before bed like I so often do.

So if you need to get in touch with me tomorrow, I suggest looking for me in the kitchen. If I’m not actually cooking I’ll be sanitising everything because I’m crazy about preventing food poisoning from cross-contamination.

Oh, just a side note. I tallied up how much the Cheesy Chilada Bake costs, per entree. Including the cost of the disposable foil pan, it will be around $7, to serve 8 adults. So for my family, we could get 2 meals out of that, making it only $3.50 per entree, feeding 2 big people and 3 little people. Add in some side dishes, and we’re probably up to $6. I aim to make our dinners average $5-6, so this fits in just perfectly.

Oh, second side note. I’m using the recipe from Fix Freeze Feast, the best bulk cooking cookbook I’ve ever read. And I’ve read pretty much all of them on the market. The recipes are tasty, easy, it’s simple to follow. I highly recommend it. The best $10.19 you’ll spend on Amazon.

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23rd December 2008

Christmas Eve is tomorrow!

I have been hearing this all day, since the kids woke up. And I’ve been saying it too! I love Christmas. Yesterday the kids and I were at my mom’s house and I could tell that Precious was getting a little bored. I took her aside and whispered in her ear “Wanna do something fun?”

Now, what 5 year old doesn’t want to do something fun? So of course she whispered back “Yes!”

I took her by the hand and walked her over to where my mom has the Christmas presents piled in a corner. We sat down by the presents and we looked - NO TOUCHING - at all the presents. We made some guesses about what they might be. We giggled and laughed and then Mom joined us.

I will admit, I’m a Christmas peaker, from way back. When I was a lot younger I remember one Christmas actually unwrapping a present and then re-wrapping it. I would never do that anymore. And I also have an amazing ability to guess what I’m getting for Christmas. Not by the size or weight of the package, but just through little hints that I hear and then putting them all together. It’s a crazy gift. But I do it all the time, and not just with gifts. I was able to figure out that a friend of mine is changing jobs, even though she hasn’t told anyone.

But I do think I know one of the gifts I’m getting from my parents! But I can’t tell. It’s a secret!

And I love this time right before Christmas, when all the presents are bought and wrapped (although I’m waiting for one last package from Amazon to arrive this afternoon). There is no way that I can order anything online and still have it arrive in time. I have all the food shopping done. Today is Handsome’s last day of work before the holiday. We borrowed a few movies from a friend this morning. All I need to do is clean the house a bit and then it’s all about celebrating Jesus!

If I can remember I will take a picture of our Jesse Tree, which we’ve been adding to every day. It’s the favourite part of the day for the kids I think.

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19th December 2008

Mary Poppins

I went to the library last night after the children were asleep. I was able to find a copy of Mary Poppins on DVD and the kids and are watching it right now. Precious, age 5, keeps saying “Look!” “Mom, watch!” And then she tells me about something magical that’s just happened - like jumping into the sidewalk drawing or the animals singing. She loves it! She has this look of wonder on her face. I love being able to share things like this with her.

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18th December 2008

I’m dreaming of a White Christmas…

I’m done. Shopping is finished, gifts are finished, cards are mailed. All of our homemade gifts have been given to the AWANA teachers and to BSF teachers and Sunday School teachers will get theirs on Sunday. We have one more Christmas party tomorrow night, just for grown-ups, which I’m looking forward to. After tomorrow night all of our firm commitments are finished. FOR THREE WEEKS. The next thing on my calendar is a dentist appointment on 5 January for Little Boy. I looked at my calendar and it’s blessedly empty.

Although I like doing those fun things like Christmas cards and making gifts and ornaments, I also like just doing whatever we want. Currently everyone but Handsome is sick, so we’re just hanging out at home today, having called with our apologies to the homeschool party we were supposed to go to.

So, for the next three weeks, we’ll continue to do school, we’ll play with our new toys that come at Christmas, I’m going to do some major freezer cooking, and I’ll dream of organising things because that’s what I do when a new year approaches.

And if the weather continues like it has been, we might even have a White Christmas!!

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16th December 2008

Christmas recipe I don’t want to forget

I made this stuff last year and this year, when I went to retrieve the recipe from the link I had saved, it was gone! The blog has been removed!! OH NO! Fortunately, Handsome is very clever in the computer department and he was able to find it, even though it was no longer there. MAGIC.

So now I’m going to write the recipe down for my own reference so I can never lose it again. It’s awesome, easy, and I dare you to take just one bite. Oh, and just for full disclosure, I just wrote the word ‘bite’ as ‘bight’. Thank goodness for the delete button. I’m immersed in phonics at the moment, that’s all I can say.

Christmas Trail Mix

17 oz box Crispix cereal (can also use Chex), 1 jar salted peanuts, 1 small bag holiday shaped pretzels (I’ve never found these) -  mix together.

1/3 cup Karo syrup, 1 1/2 cup brown sugar, 3/4 cup margerine - boil 2-3 minutes

Add: 1/2 tsp cream of tartar, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp vanilla - boil again

Pour over cereal mix (use a LARGE bowl) and stir to coat. Bake on jelly roll pans at 350 for 5 minutes. Tir, bake for another 3-5 minutes. Cool on waxed paper. Pour red/green MnMs over mix. Enjoy!

I’m putting this into large mason jars I found at a garage sale back in May, a dozen for $1, and giving them to Sunday School teachers this Sunday.

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12th December 2008

Update on the Christmas cards

I can’t believe it, but I’ve mailed the Christmas cards. Except for five of them I can’t find addresses for. I have somehow misplaced my orange address book. If you know where it is please let me know. But the internet is an amazing thing. I was able to find addresses for almost everyone online! I couldn’t believe it. But what’s worse is that in some instances it matched up people with their work details, showing me where they worked and the phone number. Scary. I am very excited to have actually gotten my Christmas cards in the mail.

Now here’s an interesting questions. What happens when we receive a card from someone that we didn’t send a card to but after receiving their card we remember that we wanted to. Do we go ahead and send one and then it’s obvious that we only sent one in response to their card? Or do we make a note to make sure to send them one next year?  Important questions.

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7th December 2008

Christmas cards

I’ve finished writing the letter which goes in the Christmas cards. Now I have to actually send them, which requires addressing them and stuffing them and then actually getting to the post office. It is my sincere, sincere hope that by this time next week I’ll have them in the mail. But I’m not going to make myself stand in the corner with the dunce hat (doesn’t every homeschool have one of those?) if I don’t do it. But I bought those blasted cards and I’m going to send them!!

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4th December 2008

Sacrificial giving

A few weeks ago Handsome and I were having a serious conversation about the meaning of life, etc. He told me that he had been thinking a lot about the practice of tithing and giving to the church and reading the proof texts and he really believed that God was asking him (us) to consider if we’re giving sacrificially.

We have always tithed. It’s actually one of the serious questions that I asked Handsome when we were getting to know each other, before we were engaged. I grew up learning that tithing is just something that a Christian does. I don’t believe I was legalistic about it, but I knew that everything we had was God’s so it’s only right that we give back to Him what he asks.

In recent years we have developed a part of our budget, a small part, that is surplus to our tithe which for lack of a better term is a benevolent fund. It is money that we give when we see a need.

But as Handsome has been reading God’s Word to find out His take on the whole giving thing, he keeps coming up with a percentage that’s much greater than 10%. The New Testament talks a lot about believers selling everything they had and giving it to the church to be used for ministry to the people.

As I mentioned yesterday, these are unsettled times. But when God asks us to do something, we have to do it. So we’re going to be looking at our budget and seeing where we can shave things off.

As I reread this before posting, I’m telling myself - seeing where we can shave things off?? Giving sacrificially isn’t just about shaving off a few dollars from the entertainment budget. Giving sacrificially is doing without something that we might actually need (need being a relative term) in order to give it to God, knowing that He will provide all of our true needs. But even now I’m thinking - but hey wait. Lots of Christians in the world are hungry because they don’t have enough to eat. Lots of Christians are homeless for various reasons. So I suppose that if we pray and hear God telling us to give xxx amount of dollars and we know that it means we won’t have the money to do xyz, then we will just depend on God.

I don’t believe He’s telling us to be irresponsible and not pay our bills, but I have a feeling that those new shoes I’ve been wanting to get are definitely not going to make the cut. And swim lessons for the kids? Probably not. At least not at the fancy indoor pool. Will we go out for our anniversary in a few weeks? I doubt it. Will we survive? Of course.

Obedience is always best.

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