Give Old Candles a New Beginning

All during the year, we burn lovely scented candles from several sources, and as each one grows too small to be safe, I dig out and save the last bit, in a zipper bag. For ages I did not know what to do with these candle bottoms, carefully removed from lovely jars and votive cups. They still smelled great and it seemed such a waste just to pitch them, although sometimes, I did.

Then I met a woman who knew what to do and my life changed. (And my candle hoard changed.) I began saving candle bottoms with a vengeance, even offering to clean up the jars and cups of friends, if I could have the remains.

Yes, I had more!

What do I do with them? I make one big candle and burn it to start off the year! Here is this year’s “starter” candle, made from last year’s candle bottoms, and sorry I’ve almost burned it all gone before this topic arose! Believe me, it almost overflowed with contents a few days ago:

Beginning again

Beginning again

So how do my friend and I do this? Simple!

  1. Anchor a dripless dinner candle in the bottom of a large candle jar, such as you see here. I do this by dropping a bit of melted wax into the center of the jar and pushing the candle down onto the melted drops. I hold it there until the melted drops set and will hold without me.
  2. Then I carefully set chunks, slices, shavings, and crumbles of old candle bottoms into the space between the center candle and the jar walls. I also use leftovers from tart warmers.
  3. Light the dinner candle and let it melt down, some, to hold the wax pieces in place when you move it around, and then let it cool. After that, you can let it burn as long as you like. It all will melt together and become one lovely, undefinable fragrance.

That’s all there is to it. It smells so lovely, reminiscent of all the fragrances I’ve loved in the past year. Mine are mostly outdoorsy scents such as pine, bayberry, or lavender. My friend calls hers “tuty fruity”.

But anyone can romance the last of last year by giving old candles a new beginning this way.

Have fun!

Mary and Martha and humble pie

Mary and Martha and Me

When I Was a Turkey

Several years ago our family tried a Thanksgiving experiment.

Instead of buying our Thanksgiving dinner, we only priced it and sent the amount to a mission.

We then asked God to give us a meal from His own hand that we could see was especially from Him. In our minds, it had to be cost-free, although this wasn’t a demand—we simply decided to see what He would do about our commitment. We were willing to take whatever He gave….

I know, I know, God gives us the strength, intellect, and grace to be able to earn the money, drive to the store, and so forth.

But we learned something from letting go of it like this: He can also sovereignly give us the actual food itself, just because we are waiting upon Him. This caused us to be thankful toward God as Jehovah Jireh (our provider), rather than wondering what in the world He has to do with our celebration.

The experiment became a kind of tradition for a few years. Each year was different; it was not always turkey and stuffing. We had chicken, duck, venison, and my favorite, the smoked turkey that appeared one day while we were gone.

Meat was always the test for me because I did not consider the free things from our garden as “too hard” for God.

See what I mean?

I needed this.

Everything about cooking Thanksgiving dinner this way was a big adventure. We had to improvise, learning as we went. We felt, indeed we were, exactly like pioneers.

We pretended Good-Old-Days, but they were, in reality, very good days.

We certainly were excited about all sorts of food and I think we ate better. The meat often was not processed. We had honey instead of sugar. And we were so thankful. We couldn’t help it—it just flowed from all that was happening.

Another unexpected result came of the experiment.

We questioned the entire “Thanksgiving Tradition”.

  • Sweet potatoes did not have to be candied, did they?
  • Whipped topping didn’t have to be fatty.
  • Crab applesauce was as good as cranberry.
  • The chestnuts off of our tree were excellent in stuffing.
  • Squash pie tasted just like pumpkin.

We learned to take our local blessings, instead of exotic imported foods, and spread them out into a feast that gave glory to the God Who provides for His own.

And more blessings! 

In our excitement, we also forgot to be harried. I, at least, emerged on the other side of the wall that separates us from gently rejoicing in God. He seemed so near. (Philippians 4:4-7)

Most of the United States was celebrating a day that, when it was established, in purpose and practice, was truly Christian. Thanksgiving has no questionable past. It has traditionally had no worldly festivities attached to it. It is simply a day set aside for our Christian nation, by its Christian leaders, to give thanks to God for all His blessings.

go-your-way-eat-the-fat-and-drink-the-sweet-and-send-portions-unto-them-for-whom-nothing-is-prepared-for-this-day-is-holy-unto-our-lord-nehemiah-8-10-1Into that quiet beauty, I had often inserted the bustle of a worldly attitude.

Suddenly, His delightful indulgence was leading me away from my prideful ideas about meal preparation. How humbling it was to be learning at His feet, and yet, how glorious.

It doesn’t matter if you use the recipes you will find, on this site, for “your dinner”, or even if you go to someone else’s house for it. It doesn’t matter if you buy or raise the ingredients. But do learn to spend time before God. And truly thank Him. Every day.

______________________________

Katharine is a retired home educating mom who writes about all things “woman”, from a Godly viewpoint, here on this site, and at The Conquering Mom.  Her writing appeared in several magazines for 15 years, and she is currently working on several books. She loves to write, speak, teach, cook, garden, spoil her hennies, and watch old movies with popcorn.

Much later: Canned pumpkin bread loosens easily and slices breezily. Mmm!

Don’t can in the fall?

Some of the best canning I know of happens in the fall.

I love canning quick breads to use for fancy fun, such as those delicate get-togethers where our mothers used to wear white gloves and hats, where the napkins are real and the butter is whipped and the goodies are all made from scratch.

And the tea is hot, not iced, and there is no coffee.

I love to make pumpkin bread and can it for later use. It keeps for months on the shelf, in a jar, in a pantry, without preservatives. And it tastes great, even six months later.

What I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE about this bread is:

  1. The bread is round, and therefore somehow nicer.
  2. The bread is over-the-top moist.
  3. The bread is super easy to slice thin and straight if you pull it out of the jar slightly and use the rim of the jar as a cutting guide.
  4. The bread makes an amazing and welcome gift.

The trick? Just follow these instructions and have fun.

You will need:

  • A good recipe for pumpkin bread. (Mine follows.)
  • All the ingredients for the recipe.
  • Six or seven straight-sided, wide-mouth, one-pint canning jars.
  • Lids and screw bands for the jars.
  • A pan of hot water for the lids.
  • Fork or lid lifter.
  • Canning funnel.
  • Sharp, non-serrated knife.
  • A sturdy, flat pan with a rim, such as a pizza pan or jelly roll pan.
  • One damp cloth.
  • One totally dry, thick towel.
  • Plenty of pot-holders or oven mitts.
  • An oven.

You will NOT need:

  • Nuts
  • Raisins
  • Any other such lumpy things in the recipe, no matter how much you may love them in your bread, if you want it to keep a long time.

Instructions:

1, Collect your stuff. Set oven for 350 degrees.

Jars like these.

Jars like these.

2. Make the batter. (Recipe follows instructions.)

Batter is ready.

Batter is ready.

3. Load the jars about half full, or a bit more.

Use funnel for neatness. Neatness counts.

Use funnel for neatness. Neatness counts.

4. Place loaded jars on sturdy pan and very carefully set in oven for about 15 minutes or until done. Use toothpick test for doneness.

Ready to bake.

Ready to bake.

5. While bread bakes, prepare lids: Boil water and place lids in it, then remove from heat. Do not boil water with lids in the water. Have screw bands, mitts, and both towels ready.

Ready to can the bread.

Ready to can the bread.

6. Remove one jar from oven individually, and set on dry towel. Quickly trim bread that has risen beyond top of jar with sharp knife. Quickly wipe rim free of crumbs and grease with damp towel and add lid and screw band.

Risen too tall. Trim.

Risen too tall. Trim.

Hide trimmings in your tummy!

Hide trimmings in your tummy!

7. Repeat with each jar, individually. Jars should seal almost immediately.

THE END.

THE RECIPE:

Sift together into large bowl:

3 1/3 cups plain flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
3 cups sugar

Quickly add, and stir in only until dry ingredients are moistened:

4 eggs
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
1 cup melted butter
2/3 cup water

Proceed with instructions above to can pumpkin bread.

IMPORTANT!: Do not add nuts or raisins or any other chunks, if you want this bread to keep a long time. Chunks will not become hot enough to be sterile, in this situation.

We are going to love fall this year!

Much later: It loosens easily and slices breezily. Mmm!

Much later: It loosens easily and slices breezily. Mmm!

(This post listed on “My Hot Kitchen” . Lots there to drool over…)

 

_______________________________________________

Katharine is a retired home educating mom who writes about all things “woman”, from a Godly viewpoint, here on this site, and at The Conquering Mom.  Her writing appeared in several magazines for 15 years, and she is currently working on several books. She loves to write, speak, teach, cook, garden, spoil her hennies, and watch old movies with popcorn.

Wonderful Smoked Turkey Habit. You will develop an addiction?

Our Thanksgiving Habit

One thing we do every year, almost as a habit, is smoke a turkey for Thanksgiving. A huge turkey.

I’ve posted about it before, but this year we will make two of them, and I got photos for ya! So here goes:

1. Thaw, trim, and rinse turkey.

Rinsed 23 lb. Turkey

Rinsed 23 lb. Turkey

2. Pour charcoal into fuel portion of smoker.

Enough charcoal for 12 hours.

Enough charcoal for 12 hours.

3. Set into bottom of smoker.

Charcoal in place

Charcoal in place

4. Do whatever you do to light charcoal.

Light charcoal

Light charcoal

5.  Once charcoal is very hot and turning white, add grill, to sterilized it.

Burning off the grill

Burning off the grill

6. Once all flame dies down, carefully remove grill and insert empty water pan in place over (not on) charcoals, and replace grill over water pan. Carefully fill with about 1 1/4 gallons of water.

Water pan in place over charcoal and under grill

Water pan in place over charcoal and under grill

7. Place turkey on grill.

Turkey on grill in smoker

Turkey on grill in smoker

8. Close smoker and go to bed.

Good night!

Good night!

9. Do not check progress by opening smoker!

In the morning, you will have a lovely smoked turkey. The meat should be tender and pink like ham. The joints should be loose or separating. The skin should be crackling in places and dark from smoke. Mmm! Look here!

Any questions? Ask in the comments, below, and I’ll be happy to answer quickly!

Have fun!


Edit to add: Our smoker is nearly burned out. 😦 Worst part is that we canNOT find another like it. Smaller ones do not work. Electric too expensive. The company that made our smoker just does not make them anymore. Help! 😉

 

cost free homeschooling

How Pro Home Schoolers Get Curriculum Cost-FREE

Have you been pricing home schooling, lately?

I sure have!

I see that as the provider companies’ costs go up, ours must, too.

Yet, I know there still is a way, so pay attention!

Having begun presenting informative slide shows to parents who are thinking about home schooling, I know the subject of cost always comes up, so I figure I should bring it up myself, instead of making someone ask.

The cost!

The least expensive actual curriculum I’ve found isn’t bad—around $225 or so per child, per year, which is not even $2.00 per school day.

The big thing that hits some home schooling families hard is having a large family. At $225 per child, six children’s curriculum could end up costing over $1000! Per year!

How can I say there could be a way that “pros” provide their children with curriculum, cost-free?

Not too hard, actually.

It depends on the type of curriculum you choose

You see, all curriculum provider companies are NOT equal!

Ruling out those who now claim to be agreeable to the Common Core (Those will cost you LOTS more than just money!) there are several ways to eliminate or greatly, GREATLY reduce your curriculum costs. This is something you may only realize after you’ve been in the business awhile and looked around with more seasoned eyes.

And noticed a secret thing or two. Heh heh.

And spent a lot of money you didn’t need to.

The “fee” for “free” adds up

Not all curriculum types are created equal. Did I mention that?

Before we go on, we should discuss some of the tricks you can find “out there”.

First, there is a deep flood of stuff that claims to be curriculum, provided on the Internet, free for the swiping. That’s great. If it’s what you really want, it’s great.

However, most of it is:

  1. Aimed at preschool age or slightly above
  2. Not designed by educational professionals
  3. Common  Core affiliated, linking you to government watchdogs
  4. Not connected to any overall scope and sequence.

This means you could start a young child easily enough, if you know exactly what you are doing and have time and training to triage it and design a course content, yourself.

Not?

Then you’ll be happy to know the other objection to the free things is that they must all be printed.

By you.

Which means you need a printer, paper, and INK!

If you want to provide your child with, say, ten pages per day of seatwork (after designing and finding everything you need) then you are looking at 1800 pages of printing, since there are 180 school days in a school year.

Printing 1800 pages per child per year can REALLY mount up if you should possibly be able to find all you need for all six of your children (if you have a large family) which would be 10, 800 pages per year.

But that’s just for one year. If you were still not convinced and you were to continue with this plan the rest of their school years, you would potentially have printed 129,600 pages.

No doubt, you would have bought that many pieces of paper, too, and, no doubt, a new printer, sometime along the line…

And large three-ring binders. And gummed reinforcements.

Announcing the solution!

Go back to the $225 company.

Find $225. Pay up. Wait for delivery. Notice the books are hard-bound and very well-constructed. Use the books. Never need to print anything. Realize it all fits neatly on a small bookshelf.

Repeat next year for the next grade.

Wait—how is that free?

The freedom of this way adds up, just as the cost of the “free” way does.

You see, you’ll be passing these $225-books down to your next children.

At no cost.

If you have six children, spaced at every 2 years, you would have to spend about $1300, two years in a row. (This is just an example; No pressured intended!)

After that, you would spend nothing.

Zero. Zip. Nada.

The breakdown:

By the end of home schooling 6 children for 12 years apiece, your cost for ALL SIX children would still be that same $2600, but by then it would be divided by 12,960 total school days, or:

Are you ready for this?

Twenty cents per day per child. That’s all. Merely 20 cents.

Still not free, you say?

Well, I’m still not done.

But I am done home schooling, and I found a way to recoup lots of even the 20 cents. Hold on to your seat belt, here…

When you buy great, well-made curriculum, you can always find a market for it online.

YES! You can sell those used books to someone else, who needs “free” even more than you do.

Of course, the shape they are in will determine how much they will be worth, but if you teach your children how to make book jackets, and require them to do so, the books will be clean and mostly un-worn in appearance, making them fetch more than most used books. You will be surprised.

And that, my friends, is how we did it. 😀

Chocolate

Brush Your Teeth With Chocolate!

Okay, I know this is not dentist-approved, but let’s think about it a while. Has anyone out there ever tested it?

Thought not.

Well, I have. If I’ve just eaten, or if my mouth is less than satisfactory to me in any way, I love using chocolate for an emergency remedy. My teeth will feel cleaner, my breath will be far better than garlic, and I won’t get such a slump after eating.

Also, it is more pure, FAR less doctored with chemicals than most chewing gum.

Now, I don’t mean all the cruddy little desserts that claim to have a bit of chocolate in them. Most confections are pure sugar, another thing altogether from pure chocolate! I’ve been brought up in the United States, where it is possible actually to grow weary of sugar.

Chocolate is not sweet. You can find chocolate that has very few grams of sugar in it, like those pictured above. Mostly it is out of kid reach in the stores — it is adult chocolate, after all. To apply it, just break off or open one square, usually about 10 grams.  Chew it. Enjoy it to its fullest.

Most serious chocolate has lecithin and cocoa butter, which make the teeth slick. Germs do not cling for quite a while. Also, chocolate, itself, contains the following wonderful benefits: caffeine (which helps you be lively), theobromine (which lowers blood pressure, lessens edema, lowers rate of birth defects, and is patented for research in cancer prevention), and quite a few antioxidants. The germs don’t stand a chance.

The trick is in stopping at just one piece.

It’s worth a try, I say.

But use regular toothpaste, etc., just before bed, if at all possible.

Wrapped in Nothing But a Bedsheet?

Christ with the Woman Taken in Adultery, o/t, ...The powers-that-be have just dragged her from the bed of a man to whom she is not married.

Perhaps all she is wearing is a bedsheet.

Perhaps he is one of the powers-that-be.

Nevertheless, there she stands, exposed, before her authorities. They do not care about her. They do not care about right or wrong. The have stalked her, captured her, and reduced her to the status of rubbish for one purpose: to trick a popular counselor of that day.

“The law demands this woman be stoned to death,” they announce. Then they wait. They are so sure. They have Him this time. The Man of Mercies will have to admit that mercy does not always win.

Or so they think.

He is unperturbed.

He stoops and writes in the dust. A list of their sins? Perhaps.

Do they look around themselves, worriedly, confused? Perhaps.

Meanwhile, the life of a woman hangs over eternity. Perhaps, thrown down to the ground, does she cower? Perhaps.

In a culture that forbids her uncovered state, in a land filled with huge stones, she waits, uncovered, for her stoning.

Finally the Man stands to speak. “And whoever is without sin should throw the first stone.” Then he resumes writing.

Beginning with the eldest–perhaps wisest–each man drops his gleeful attitude, drops his stone, drops his case.

Point taken.

The kind Counselor turns to ask the woman, “Where are they? Who is accusing you?”

The answer, from inside a bedsheet: “No one.”

“Neither do I condemn you.”

Notice He does not say she did not sin, but only that He does not condemn her.

She stands obviously guilty and shamed, but for her, there is now no condemnation.

Stoning is not prevalent in our society, but prostitution is. I want to ask you: How many of us have been there–a blackened past forgiven by the mercies of God?

How many of us throw away that forgiveness?

How many of us hug our sad past close and get it out to look at it and mourn over it, to relive it to its fullest?

How many of us labor with all our might to get out from under sin that no longer is over us?

How many of us, on stormy days, add to the bad past by letting it create for us bad choices, bad attitudes, bad excuses?

A bad present? Even a bad future?

Jesus asked only one thing from that woman, that day, and asks it of us, too: “Go, and sin no more.”

________________

Image via Wikipedia