Sunday, February 21, 2021

Sunday Afternoon Tea - When Heroes Fall


I still plan to write my feelings about Ravi Z's fall from grace, hopefully next week.  However, I remembered another blog post I had written when Josh Harris said he rejected Christ and walked away from ministry.  While the events are not exactly the same, my reactions were similar.  This post is from August, 2019.

 I've been writing about heroes lately and this week we saw a former hero to a lot of young people turn his back on Christ and everything his parents stood for.  I've been thinking about it a lot since then but first I want to remind us of one Truth.  A very real Truth all parents must remember.

Parents can do everything right and still have a child make bad decisions.  Adam and Eve epitomize making the worst kind of decision and they lived in a perfect environment.  Contrary to Freud, we cannot blame everything on our mothers... or fathers.  We have all seen kids from good homes go bad and kids from bad homes do amazingly well.

I don't want to speculate what led to Josh Harris, who became a pastor of a mega church, rejecting the faith he once promoted.  However, since he made certain through social media that everyone knew of his momentous decision, I do want to talk about it.  He did not go quietly into the night.

I read what his dad, Gregg Harris, wrote in our early days of homeschooling and I cannot recall it being anything legalistic... conservative, yes.  But I do understand how the courting instead of dating scenario Josh wrote about in I Kissed Dating Goodbye could morph into legalism.

We didn't do the courting thing but I didn't allow dating outside of group activities until my kids were sixteen, and even then I discouraged dating with marriage in mind until after high school.  I even prayed neither of them would find the person they wanted to marry until the appropriate time.

However, both of my children met and married people perfect for them... not perfect people for they do not exist... but people I love having as part of our family.  Is courting more legalistic than being careful about dating?  I haven't really thought about it much but like so many things, it could turn that way... and some articles think the backlash to that book started the crumbling of his faith in his youth.  I wasn't aware of it at the time.

But true legalism turns Christianity into a religion not unlike the Pharisees Jesus spoke against.  I was close to someone deeply hurt by growing up in a legalistic Christian home and I saw the results of her bad decisions.  I came to realize that under legalism instead of the right kind of grace, she figured that she could not keep all the rules so why try to keep any?  To her, Christianity was not about Jesus... it was only a set of do's and don'ts.

Why do I bring this up?  Because there has been a lot of speculation that perhaps he had been brought up in a legalistic home and that is why he eventually walked away from Christ.  I'm not so sure about that, even if the book that made him famous could be seen as more rules oriented than grace based.

I am thankful to Josh's parents as homeschool pioneers and his dad was one of the founders of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, which continues today as arguably the best advocate for homeschoolers who run into legal situations.  I don't recall anything in their writing that I thought was legalistic and I'm quite sensitive to the subject.

The scenario with Harris reminds me a lot of what happened with Franky Schaeffer when he turned his back on the faith and went on to write scathing things about the Church and his parents.  The enemy of our soul is always looking for ways to get the proverbial foot in the door to bring down a Christ centered legacy and both of these men were used by him to do so.

It seems that at the center of each of these men, one of my generation and the other more my daughter's age, is a buildup of anger that may have resulted in an explosion heard throughout the Christian community but in reality... it had been smoldering and building for a very long time.

Do I still believe in living heroes?  Absolutely!  But as I wrote in a previous blog post, we must never put our heroes on a pedestal for most of them fall at some time in their life.  Obviously, not to the point of rejecting their faith but human beings rarely reach the end of their years without making a dreadful error in judgment here and there.  I so often cringe when I think of something I did or said in past years.  We need to give our former selves grace, understanding we have matured in the faith since then.

We admit our mistakes (aka: sin) to God and ask His forgiveness as we also ask others to forgive, if that is needed.  Then we brush ourselves off, pick ourselves up (actually it is His strength that allows us to do this), and continue the journey we were on for Him before we stumbled and fell.  For my friends... we all will stumble.  We all will fail.

This is the lesson we can teach our children as we talk to them about heroes.  Real life heroes are not perfect.  But those who are truly brave are the people who keep going in spite of their hurts and disappointments with life. Biographies are full of flawed people who did great things without destroying their credibility.

Perhaps we need to think of the difference between hero and celebrity.  Just because someone is a super star and well known for anything, even as a pastor or teacher, that does not make him a hero.  Some are but not everyone.  Sometimes it is just good marketing.

I remember when I found out about the secret life of a well known Christian artist and author.  I adored his books on creativity.  If he had repented and changed his ways, even though he had taken a wrong turn, his books would be on my bookshelves today.  They still had good advice but they only reminded me of his hypocrisy when I read them.

But my bookshelves do contain books by people who also made wrong choices, those who made bad decisions but who did repent and used the lessons they learned to eventually return to teach others how not to make the same mistakes.  That is the grace God offers the humble, the repentant. 

I still believe in heroes and they do exist... not only in the past but also today.  Some of them are known to God, others are known to a few people, and some are allowed to reach celebrity status.  I am pretty sure that is why the Bible warns those who teach to be careful for they will especially be judged.  

Their influence could affect many souls if they left the faith.  Perhaps this is a reminder for all of us to remember that there is a difference between heroes and hero worship, heroes and celebrity, and heroes who are regular people simply doing heroic things.

In the meantime, I pray for the Harris family for while one is transforming himself... as did Franky Schaeffer... into a superstar of the disenfranchised former Christians, there are many in his family and sphere of influence who are heartbroken in the fallout.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - The need to be prepared for unprecedented events

I follow Max Lucado on Facebook and I always enjoy his soothing and uplifting videos.  He is that rare pastor/teacher/author that stays close to the Word of God, believes we are near the 2nd coming of Christ, and writes in such a way that I feel completely at peace when reading his words.  That is a gift!

In a recent video, he was standing in his San Antonio backyard with snow and ice on the vegetation behind him.  He said that he has become tired of hearing the word "unprecedented" in this last eighteen months or so.  However, his attitude was uplifting and encouraging listeners not to give up.

It certainly has been unprecedented with a world wide pandemic, crazy weather, crazier politics, and our forests as well as cities on fire last summer.   While there has never been a time when the world was shut down with a pandemic all at once, we have had crazy weather, politics, etc. before.

However, not all at once and in such a short period of time.  Events are happening that even those of us that have studied preparedness for decades find unbelievable.  We now know that Texas came within "minutes or even seconds" of having their power grid fail to the extent it would take months to recover from.  Texas?  I didn't know that was possible outside of an EMP blast.

This has certainly been one of the worst winters in recent memory where I live.  I think it is the combination of one snow storm after another and the frigid cold temperatures never letting up.  There has been no opportunity for the snow to melt, even a little.

We may finally have a high tomorrow just above freezing with slightly warmer highs for a few days.  Maybe the snow will go down enough that I can walk to the road to get the newspaper in the mornings, much less make it to the grocery store. My husband has gotten stuck in our driveway and gravel lane almost every time he ventured out but he knows how to get unstuck... eventually.

We had enough food that we didn't absolutely have to go to the grocery store but since he knew he could make it, my husband went a few times for fresh vegetables, fruit, and items he needed for his special diet.  We could have done without if necessary but it did show us what we needed to add to the pantry.

Watching what has been going on in Texas and the tragedy that has unfolded, reminds me that the unexpected has been occurring enough recently that I must take stock of our own situation and see what needs a little more planning.

We have extra water put back since our well does not work in power outages.  I'm not too worried about staying warm enough even though we do not have a fireplace.  Our house has a lot of insulation and the windows that were installed just before we moved in are very energy efficient.  

I do need to wash our heavy duty sleeping bags since they have been used for camping (not by us!) since they were last washed.  They will be taken to the coin operated laundromat once it gets warmer.  They are invaluable if the power goes out in a winter like this one.  I also have collected extra blankets over the years and we have a few down coats should they be necessary to wear inside.

We have been able to reuse the Styrofoam thingy (it slips over our outdoor water spout in winter) but I think it is time to consider buying a new one.  They are very inexpensive.  These are the kinds of things I've been thinking about.  There are definitely more situations that come come up that I need to consider, too.

A book that is very helpful is Stan and Holly Deyo's Dare to Prepare.  This is a pricey book when you purchase the latest printing, which I recommend if you want the very latest information.  However, there are older editions that are sold third-party much cheaper and I will provide the link to both below.

I own a copy of an older edition that was a gift from the Deyo's at one time.  I first got to know them on an emergency preparedness forum where I was one of the moderators.  Their book really is the best because it provides photos, diagrams, etc. (in black and white).  Knowledge is invaluable when preparing for emergencies.

So, what I am taking away from this last unprecedented natural disaster that hit Texas is that it is impossible now to think something can never happen.  We have seen it over and over again this past year.  I hope you do some praying and planning over your emergency preparedness plans, too.  What are some things to consider?

Do you know where to shut off your water coming into the house should a pipe burst?  I've seen photos of water that has been gushing in for hours!  Damage can be limited if you shut off the water as soon as you find a burst pipe.  Our water is turned off by shutting the electricity to the well pump off.

Do you know where the shut off valve for natural gas is going to your house?  Our natural gas had to be shut off after our house was hit by lightening and the fire department called not once but twice.

These are the kinds of simple but extremely valuable things you can decide to learn this week. There is always something to learn.

Mentioned in last week's blog post

We were talking about potatoes and low carb cooking last week and a long time blog friend wrote me about a potato called "Huckleberry Gold".  Renee's Garden Seeds sells the seed potatoes.  If you are a gardener, it would be worth a try!

Mentioned in this week's blog post

Dare to Prepare 2020 edition... here.

Dare to Prepare past editions (without the 2020 updates)... here.  The past editions contain valuable information if one cannot afford the most recent editions.

Styrofoam faucet covers... here.

Disclaimer: Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.

Image: Houston, Texas on Valentine's Day

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Thoughts about legacy

After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone
And our children sift through all we've left behind
May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find
Find us Faithful, Steve Green

I've been thinking a lot about legacy recently as the final report on the allegations against Ravi Zacharias have been found to be true and made available.  I want to write more about that next week but first, I thought it would be good to share some thoughts about legacy that I wrote a few years ago.  Elisabeth is now nineteen and Piper is now four years old.

If you ever doubt the rapid passage of time, spend a week with your grandchildren.  When I see Elisabeth, age fifteen (now nineteen), I wonder at the years that have gone by as I remember the day she was born and thinking I wasn't old enough to be a grandmother.  ;)

It was only yesterday it seems that we were just starting out in a studio apartment in married student housing as my husband was studying for a graduate degree.   I had all kinds of hopes for what kind of family we would become over the years. 

It doesn't seem all that long ago that I was reading parenting books and calling my mother to ask what I was to do with a newborn.  (Her advice was... let her sleep whenever she will sleep!)  I was my mother's unexpected youngest child, her only child from her second marriage.  I knew nothing about raising children.  I hardly knew how to change a diaper.

However, I was fortunate to have an easy baby to practice on and she doesn't seem to be any worse for my inexperience.  In my constant learning, I discovered that love really does cover all sins... or mistakes.  As with any first child, we had high expectations and had to balance them with fun and laughter and love.

I began to think of my legacy even in my twenties.  I think losing a parent as a child does something to the way you look at a lifespan. I knew tomorrow was not guaranteed.  

So each day I had with my daughter was important to pour life... and love... and art... and beauty... and reading... and music... and Jesus into her world. I made certain she experienced her first tea room after a well baby checkup.  We did have priorities.

Twelve years later, I had my own unexpected child and once again felt inadequate.  This time because I knew nothing about raising a boy.  I soon learned it took a lot of energy and the willingness to climb trails, walk dry creek beds looking for rocks and arrowheads (and snakes), developing an affection for family friendly anime and superhero movies, and to always be searching for books boys will like.

I went through a time when I was concerned for my children because there were so many years with difficult circumstances. There were some prosperous years but many in which we had to be more frugal than I'd like.  There were seasons of moving more than I wanted.

Then there were difficult Christians, and nice people who were obviously sinners, and my health began to decline, and life was a lot more complicated than I ever expected, and they asked questions with no easy answers.

We did the best we could, given everything God allowed to come our way... but I also knew that as parents, we could do our very best and still be disappointed in the way children turn out.  Let's face it, God's first kids were in a perfect environment with a perfect parent and they still made the wrong decision. 

About the time I was going to turn sixty... I could begin to see my legacy.  Our family's legacy.  It was as if God opened my spiritual eyes and let me see all those years as He saw them.  For the hard times were when we sought Jesus the most.  The very things that tear some families apart, drew us together because we had a Rock to cling to every day. 

I realized that legacy is built not so much on the big stuff but what we do day-to-day.  Not on what we preach but what we practice.  How my family chooses to be Jesus to others.  How we practice our Biblical beliefs while loving people who are different than us. 

My legacy... our legacy in the generations to come as the world gets darker... is how we choose to be salt and light.

I wish my legacy included less worry and more trusting God... trusting my instincts instead of being afraid of what others would say.  I didn't realize it at the time but I was afraid of being judged over the silliest things. 

As I write this, I'm listening to a series of George Strait videos in another window on You Tube.  How plebeian.  How country.  How not at all cosmopolitan.  How not at all Christian you know because he sings about leaving Amarillo by morning and losing a wife and a girlfriend along the way.

What will people think?  I no longer care about such things because that is who I am.  I have come a long way from the child who grew up across the gravel road from a grain elevator but there are some things that remain and by gosh there is nothing wrong with a good country song... or two... or three.  I am a person who prefers the country to the city any day.

I was concerned my daughter would get too much New Age teaching in the public schools and my son would not get enough academics in our homeschool.  I was concerned about the people they would marry and how that would change our family dynamic and all kinds of stuff.

Oh, ye of little faith.  All that prayer that went into forming a family really did work.  The prayers for their spouses from the time they were babies were answered by a man and a woman I love as if I raised them.  Working full time outside the home when both kids were little didn't scar them forever.  We not only survived in spite of our quirks and our griefs and our crazy days but we flourished.

When I spend time with grandchildren that I thoroughly enjoy being with, that is what I leave behind.  They not only are being raised in Christian homes where Christ is the center but in homes where there is a whole lot of laughter and fun.  Not because there are perfect days or perfect people but because our journey is taking us all to the same Person and Place.

I've already made a date with my grandson, David.  I've decided I want horses with my Heavenly mansion so we are going to go riding together.  When you know we are just passing through and each day is in preparation for Eternity, it puts things in balance.  

Yes, I pray each of my grandchildren come to know Christ at an early age but not just as a Savior but as their best friend.  I want them to smile when they think of Jesus. 

I want them to know this world is not all there is and that heaping up stuff is not what it is all about.   Although, I may have to explain all those teacups and dishes and books.  No, come to think of it... they get the books.  That is part of my legacy, too.  ;)

Photo:  Elisabeth and Piper, the oldest and the youngest granddaughters.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Q & A

My favorite granola recipe is below!

We are getting ready for even colder temperatures and one "big snow" after the other.  The last few weeks have been brutal as far as the weather and I am so ready for Spring to arrive!  Our gravel lane has had ice on it since the beginning of the month.

I got out briefly yesterday to the grocery store to purchase some necessary food items before the next big snow arrives later today.  The only items I purchased for the pantry this week were Carnation individual 17 oz. containers of milk.  They were not only in stock for the first time in ages but they were on sale $1.00 off so I bought three to put on pantry shelves.  For me, this is a true pantry food to use when I need milk for a recipe.

So, for the questions...

Are Florentine and Mouse two different cats?

Yes, they are!  Florentine is the kitty we adopted a few weeks after Victoria died suddenly.  She had been abused and was offered for adoption by a kitty rescue service.  She has gone from hiding under the bed the first couple of weeks to being quite demanding, especially when it comes to her food.

Mouse was a stray that one of our neighbors paid to have "fixed" and eventually adopted us and our front porch as her own.  This is our third winter providing shelter for her and this year I found an enclosed pet bed that has a "roof" in the shape of a triangle.  It is easy to drape a towel and now an additional blanket over the top for extra warmth.

I also keep a folded towel in the bottom of the kitty bed for warmth and a folded towel next to the bed for when she wants to sit on the bench in winter.  She gets fed the same kibble as Florentine but she does not get any wet cat food.  These past couple of weeks, I have had to give her unfrozen water at least a few times a day.

Since it has been so cold, she has stayed mostly on the porch but once it gets warm again, the world is her domain and she shows up when her tummy tells her it is time for kibble.  She has a regular pet bed in warm weather that sits on the bench where she naps once in awhile and often spends the night.  What a life.

What kind of potatoes did I say I cooked with to keep down blood sugar?

It isn't as much the type of potato but the size that helps keep my blood sugar more stable.  I use the smaller sizes of Yukon Gold because I like the taste of the Yukon Gold better and smaller sizes let me either keep them whole with the skin on or I just have to cut them in half.  They work well even in beef or chicken vegetable soup.

I have used the very small sizes of red potatoes, too, since I can keep the skin on them.  I find I can keep the skin on roasted sweet potatoes if they are smaller and while they are better for diabetics, we still need to be careful about how large they are.  I sometimes purchase a small container of Amish Potato Salad at Meijers to enjoy but only as a treat. 

Mashed potatoes can really spike blood sugar so I keep the small packets of Idahoan instant potatoes on hand for those rare times we have mashed potatoes and gravy with just the two of us having dinner. They are surprisingly good and the packets last a long time in the pantry so I can stock up when they are on sale. They provide just one good serving for each of us.

I buy the large russet potatoes to make mashed potatoes from scratch when I know there will be more people eating dinner. One never wants to run out of mashed potatoes with this family!

I promised my granola recipe on an Instagram comment.  Here it is!

 Simple Granola

  • 4 - 6 Cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 Cup or more nuts, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 Cup dried fruit or more to taste*
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon* (optional)
  • 1/2 Cup honey or maple syrup (or more if you prefer it sweeter)
  • 1/3 Cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon* vanilla (optional if using maple syrup)
Oven temperature at 350 degrees
Mix oats, nuts, and cinnamon* (optional) in a large bowl.  Pour honey (or maple syrup) and oil in a small saucepan and warm it up.  Take it off the heat and add vanilla if you are using it. Pour the liquid mixture over the dried mixture and mix well.
Line a large baking pan with foil or parchment paper and oil it well... or plan on scrubbing the baking pan!  I use a half sheet cake baking pan.  Pour the granola mixture onto the prepared pan and spread out evenly.
Bake for 18 - 20 minutes, checking a couple of times and gently stirring to keep it evenly browning.  I find a spatula works best for this.  As you get closer to 17 minutes, check until it is finished.  It should be toasted, not burned... and it burns quickly.
Take pan out of oven and sprinkle your dried fruit* on the hot mixture.  I have found this helps soften them nicely. Let it cool completely before taking off of pan. The original recipe called for dried apples but I almost always have dried cranberries on hand so I use them.  Dried cherries or dried blueberries would be great, as would chopped dried apricots, etc.

Carefully pour into an airtight container.  To use as a
Holiday gift, pour into a cute container or Mason jar.
Variations:
* I sometimes make this without nuts and without cinnamon. However, these days I am more likely to make it with nuts and leave out dried fruit.
* When I add nuts, I usually add pecans but walnuts are great, too.  I have added sunflower seeds.
* The original recipe calls for adding a cup of coconut to the dry mixture before adding the liquid.  This would be baked with the granola.  To make it even more tropical, dried pineapple or mangoes could be added after taking the granola out of the oven.
A permanent link to the granola recipe that you can bookmark is... here.

I hope you have a good week!

Sunday, February 07, 2021

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Between Ur and the City of God


My pondering can go down some rabbit holes at times but they usually lead to something interesting I haven't thought of before.  The theme of what I was pondering all week is in the title of this blog post, "between Ur and the City of God".

I am guilty at times, as are all of us I think, to read the Old Testament as a storybook and view the people in it as two-dimensional flannelgram figures.  However, to really understand the Bible and what it teaches, we must read the Old Testament as a history book and remember that the people in it were very much real people who were just like us albeit without modern conveniences.

As a new Christian, I loved reading Genesis and learning about the Patriarchs of the Old Testament but they were kind of a haze in the far past of the history of mankind.  Then I took a course, I think it was by Walk Through the Bible but it was decades ago now, that opened my eyes to these men and women as real people.

In that course, we learned what it meant for Abraham to leave Ur at God's calling.  For one thing, Ur was a large metropolitan area for its' time and very pagan.  It was quite something for Abraham to believe in the One True God.  We are told that his father, whom he obviously loved and respected, believed as the other citizens of Ur in many gods.

Abraham was already old and prosperously settled in his community when he was asked to follow God into the unknown.  I would have loved hearing the discussions he had with Sarai as she was forced to leave her family and friends... or maybe it is a good thing they were not recorded... and live in tents as they sojourned into unknown lands.

The Bible tells us about Abraham's journey, both his good decisions and those that were incredibly unwise.  If there was one thing we can take comfort from in the story of the Patriarchs, God definitely used flawed men and women in a great way.  

We know about their faith that resulted in the birth of Isaac but we also read about the lack of faith that resulted in the birth of Ishmael by a servant.  The decedents of those two half-brothers are still fighting today in the land of the Middle East.  

However, we know his faith grew through the years as the Word indicates that he had faith to believe God would not take the promised child away from him and God indeed provided the ram to be the offering on Mount Moriah.

Abraham was like the rest of us who call God Father, whether in the old Covenant (Testament) or in the new Covenant (Testament)... we are very flawed people who can show great faith one day and live in fear the next day.  It is often those fears that bring about the unwise decisions.

However, and this is what led to my rabbit trail ponderings, with all that God did give to Abraham, he is listed in that amazing eleventh chapter of Hebrews as one who went to their death without receiving that which they were promised.

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.  Hebrews 11:13

For you see, Abraham left Ur (as Abram) to seek the City of God.  When we read his story, we see how both he and Sarai (whose name was changed to Sarah) matured in their faith over the years and they did receive many of their promises.  There is a reason why the current peace treaty being discussed in the Middle East is called The Abraham Accords for his descendants are indeed as numerous as the stars.

For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.  Hebrews 11:10

But Abraham would not actually reach the City of God until he was face to face with his God.  It is yet another reason to have an Eternal perspective as we journey through life.  Sometimes those promises God has placed in our heart will not be fulfilled until that time when we leave this place and enter into the Eternal Home.

Just as when we read the true stories in the Old Covenant, we need to read the prophetic stories in the New Covenant as the Truth. I think especially of those places in Revelation when the descriptions are given of the images John was allowed to see.  Talk about the sparkle of Christmas, that city will out sparkle anything we have seen in this lifetime.

When you feel that sense that this is not all there is, when even your greatest desires have been met and you still feel that something is missing...it is missing.  It cannot be reached in this lifetime.  There is something much greater that is still ahead of us.

Sometimes in these days of turmoil, we get our eyes fixed on the trouble that surrounds us.  What we must do is to look at what is ahead.  Yes, we may be walking through difficulties now but... like Abraham eventually learned to do... we need to keep journeying toward that very real City of God.

It is a real place.  With real people.  It sparkles.  I am confident one can sip very very good coffee there.  It has streets whose pavements are made of gold.  It is the home for which our heart has yearned for since birth.

We may think our lives are not being written in the canon of Scripture such as Abraham and that is true.  However, our lives are being written in a book that will be opened in Heaven someday.  Did you think that even the smallest of times when you chose to believe God and walk in faith it was not noticed?  

Everything... absolutely everything... we go through will be worth it someday.

Hold on to the faith that He gives and that strength He has promised.  Our stories are still being lived and each of our books are still being written.  Someday, we will meet Abraham and Sarah when we are in that City whose architect and builder is God. 

Saturday, February 06, 2021

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Working with different dietary requirements


I think the question I've been asked the most over the years is how I stock a pantry with two different requirements for our diet and with the main cook and bottle washer having auto immune diseases which increase fatigue, especially in the evening.

It wasn't easy and it is constantly evolving even these days.  For instance, my husband decided to eat less red meat a couple months ago.  I had already stocked up on Aldi grain fed ground beef a little at a time and I had taken advantage of a sale on boneless pork loins.  I can still use some of the ground beef but now he prefers his pork "cheats" to be in the form of bacon.  Which I completely understand.

When I reorganized the deep freeze a few weeks ago, I placed a couple package of the ground beef and a pork loin in an Aldi bag so when my son and his family brought dinner over to us last week, I could pull that bag out of the deep freeze easily and send the extra frozen meat home with them.  

We still do most of our grocery shopping in the first week of each month.  We found long ago it is the easiest way to do the food budget when you are paid once a month.  I do the Meijer and the Aldi shopping, which is mostly for both of us.  He does the Kroger shopping, mostly for the food that he has to eat.  I shop Kroger a couple times a month for the few "family" items purchased there, usually Kroger brands as well as fresh fruits or vegetables.

He also shops the health food store on Senior Discount Day for food he mostly eats, although he does buy "family" food like the Mennonite free range eggs, raw honey (mainly for making bread), and real maple syrup (for making granola and sometimes a treat of pancakes).

He also usually does our Walmart shopping when it is required once or twice a month, as well as most of the Sam's shopping when he is on that side of town to get a haircut or buy water softener salt.  He was there last week and purchased their large package of TP, almonds for his diet, and a large bottle of their onion powder per my request.

Last week, I purchased a family pack of chicken thighs for 99 cents a pound at Meijers.  Sometimes I divide them for the freezer but this time, they were roasted and went into a stock pot with onions, carrots, and celery to make chicken stock.  The house smelled amazing!  As soon as the stockpot cools more, it will go into the refrigerator to cool until tomorrow to finish into soup.

Chicken thighs and legs are often on sale where I live and while my husband does not like dark meat chicken, he does think... as do I... that they make a rich chicken stock.  It has already been very cold here, with a wind chill of 1 when I woke up this morning but it is to get even more frigid so chicken soup sounds quite good right now.

(We put an extra blanket around Mouse's "house" to insulate it better. It already had a thick towel around it for additional warmth.  She has a lot of fur so she should be fine as long as she stays in her house.  She leaves it when it is stormy or very windy... silly kitty.  I am having to give her unfrozen water every four hours or so.)

Now back to stocking up...   When I did my Aldi shopping on Friday, I bought a family pack of chicken tenders and divided that package into two separate bags this morning and both bags together were dated and placed in a gallon size Ziploc bag for the deep freeze.  An Aldi package of stew beef was dated and frozen and then the package was slipped into a gallon size Ziploc bag this morning for the deep freeze, to be used for either oven stew or veggie beef soup at a later date.

I didn't need very much meat this month.  If I need more for a specific recipe, I leave enough in the budget to add a package or two of meat later when I also shop for fresh vegetables and fruit... and cream for the coffee!

My stock up for the pantry this month (in addition to the TP and onion powder) was to add one large can of whole potatoes, two cans of Manwich on sale, one container of Hellman's mayonnaise (coupon), one "bottle" Hershey's Simple chocolate syrup (because it is magic and turns white milk into chocolate milk for little people), and a couple other canned goods.  Just a little at a time adds up!

These all went into the side of the pantry where I stock extras, as opposed to the two shelves where I keep things that are being used right now. The extra condiments are kept together on the pantry shelves so I can quickly tell if I need to add one to the monthly stock up grocery list.  I tend to use each more or less seasonally.

I stored the two cans of Manwhich (for making sloppy Joes) next to the two cans of Keystone ground beef.  They may be used with ground beef from the freezer but they also give an option for the canned ground beef.

My husband purchases quite a few cans of his favorite Amy's soups to have on hand for those evenings I am too tired to cook and there is nothing in the freezer or refrigerator to warm up for dinner.  I make an effort to have other foods on hand for these evenings, as well as extra soup that I have frozen for such a purpose. 

Like I said, this evolved over time and it still is not perfect but it works the best of any "plan" we have had.  We keep the grocery store receipts and he has an Excel sheet with what items we buy where and how much they cost.  

I have absolutely no desire to do this so I just keep my stock up grocery lists each month and write a new list from those.  I also keep a grocery list on the side of the refrigerator so I can write down those items that I don't buy regularly but we have run out of during the month.

Since my deeper pantry is an extension of my regular pantry, when I have a little extra to deepen the pantry then I just go through my grocery lists.  I have a few items that I have written about that I only buy for the deep pantry but I try to limit them.

I hope you are keeping warm today and that this answers some of the questions.  I am certain each family has their own unique way of shopping and stocking the pantry.

ImageBrambly Hedge (how would you like a pantry full of Rose Petal Jam?)