Saturday, July 24, 2021

The Food Part of Home Economics


Pretty little gem-like tomatoes.  Can't do summer without tomatoes!!!!!

I'm jumping in with a little post about something that I've been doing lately, found that it's been working well for us, and wanted to share it with you.

I don't know if schools even have Home Economics classes anymore, or if you remember your Home Economics class, or if you even learned anything from Home Economics!!!  I certainly didn't learn much.  But I was ALWAYS interested in it.  I was in 4-H too and loved everything I learned through that.  In fact, I wanted to BE a Home Economics teacher but it just didn't work out for me, so I practice in my own home on my own family.  : )

I bring this up because I love reading cookbooks and books about nutrition - always have, always will.  There is something about food that intrigues me.  I'm very interested in how food works together to give us the proper nutrition we need to stay healthy.  Food as medicine, so to speak.  I'm not a nutritionist or in the medical field whatsoever, so everything I talk about in this post is only my take on things.  Only you know what is best for you and your family.  But my hope is that I can encourage each one of you to take a closer look at what you eat, but more importantly how MUCH you eat.  That is what I'm going to discuss today.  Portion control.

I've known for a while now that we, here at home, eat too much.  And even though we aren't overweight, we could certainly benefit by loosing a few pounds.  But, even at that, to me good nutrition isn't about weight loss, it's about maintaining health.  Which takes me back to the point of what we learned (or should have) in Home Economics - and that is the Food Groups (which used to be the 4 food groups, but I call it 5) and what the "daily servings" amounts really are!

I never really thought about it too much until I was reading a book on nutrition and it was showing the amounts that we should be eating!  Oh, no.  You mean when I'm serving spaghetti sauce over pasta I'm supposed to only plate up 1/2 cup pasta and 1/2 cup sauce?  I can't fill my entire plate with pasta and then put on as much sauce as I want?!  How will I (we) ever survive on so little?!  But can and you will and you'll feel better for it.

Because when you plan your meals around the food groups, every meal will contain everything you need for good health and to take care of hunger.  You will have the:

*Bread/cereal/grain group (which requires 6-11 servings/day)
*Vegetable group (which requires 3-5 servings/day)
*Fruit group (which requires 2-4 servings/day)
*Dairy group (which requires 2-3 servings/day)
*Protein group (which requires 2-3 servings/day)

In our home, I plan for three meals a day so I just do the math.  But first I need to know what a serving really is.  Let's take my spaghetti meal as an example:

*The bread/cereal/grain group would include 1/2 cup pasta and 1 slice of garlic bread = 2 servings
*The vegetable group would include 1 cup leafy greens and 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes = 2 servings
*The fruit group would include either 1 med. whole fresh fruit or 1 cup berries = 1 serving
*The dairy group would include 8 oz. milk, or 1 oz. of cheese, or 1 cup of a dairy dessert = 1 serving
*The protein group would be the scant 1/2 cup sauce w/meat = 1 serving

There is NO way that you could get up from the table with all the above food and still be hungry!  That is what we've found out.  Instead of the focus of the meal being the spaghetti with meat sauce and eating all you can with just that, we now focus on the whole instead of the part.  It's in balance now because we've cut back on the main and inserted the others.  Also, you can see that the serving portions are very small but when you put them all together it's more than enough!  AND it's healthier because your body is getting more vitamins and minerals from eating a variety of foods.

I have to say that since doing this I can tell a difference in my skin, my nails, and my hair and even in my clothes!  That is telling me that I was probably deficient in something before.

Again, you would obviously design your meals for whatever needs you have - dairy intolerance, gluten intolerance, diabetes, etc.   There are some foods that react negatively to certain medications - but if you are one of those people you already know what to do in that area.  

And, we stick only to three meals.  My husband is more a snack person than I am, but I have my moments so I make sure that we have popcorn around or a bit of dark chocolate or seeds/nuts.

I'm not a diet person.  I have never dieted.  I know myself too well - I know that I wouldn't be able to stick to it.  But I am a proponent of eating healthy.  So we can take the spaghetti meal and add 2 more meals to it and see how we come up with the recommended daily requirements.

Let's start with breakfast:  (I know there is such controversy over breakfast nowadays - no breakfast, late breakfast, etc.) - we have breakfast so I'm just going with what we do.

*The bread/cereal/grain group - 1 cup cold cereal, or 1/2 cup oatmeal along with 1 slice of toast = 2 servings
*The vegetable group - I don't incorporate any vegetables in our breakfast unless it's a weekend egg frittata that has mushrooms/spinach/peppers, etc. in it - so during the week there is no serving in this group, but on weekends I can add 1/2 cup cooked vegetables = 1 serving
*The fruit group - either 1 cup berries on your cereal, or 6 oz. orange juice, or 1/2 banana, or 1/2 grapefruit, or 2 Tbsp. of raisins on your oatmeal = 1 serving
*The dairy group - 8 oz. milk on the cereal = 1 serving
*The protein group - 2 Tbsp. peanut butter on your toast = 1 serving

Now.....on to lunch:

*Bread/cereal/grain group - 2 slices of whole grain bread for a sandwich = 2 servings
*The vegetable group - 1 cup leafy greens with 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes = 2 servings
*The fruit group - 1 medium whole fruit, or 1 cup berries, or 15 grapes = 1 serving
*The dairy group - 1 8 oz. glass of milk, or 8 oz. of cottage cheese, or 1 oz. of cheese, or cup of a dairy dessert = 1 serving
*The protein group - 3 oz. of meat on your sandwich, or 2 eggs on your sandwich = 1 serving

Let's do the math.

For the 3 meals in one day you will get:

6 servings of the bread/cereal/grain group - the daily requirement is 6 - 11 servings
5 servings of the vegetable group - the daily requirement is 3 - 5 servings
3 servings of the fruit group - the daily requirement is 2 - 4 servings
3 servings of the dairy group - the daily requirement is 2 - 3 servings
3 servings of the protein group - the daily requirement is 2 - 3 servings

You have met your daily requirements, your meal is balanced, your body is getting the nutrition.  

If you're thinking that this is a LOT of work.  It is.  But it can be done.  In my last post I said that I was tired of reading labels but that is for looking at unacceptable ingredients.  I read the labels for the serving size written on the container.  That is where you can get the amount that you are supposed to eat.  Go by that information and incorporate it into your meals.  I think that's the first step.  Next, I'm beginning to take some of our favorite meals and writing menus out for each meal and what I would serve that with - writing down the appropriate amounts of the food groups.  And, then, being mindful of what you're serving and how much when you actually have the meal in front of you.  After a while, you will just come to know the serving size without really thinking about it.

I know a lot of people do NOT like to write menus.  They like to just have a lot of food on hand and whatever they feel like having that day is what they will cook.  Schedules DO change and what you had planned on one day may not happen and you have to opt for something else.  That's totally okay because this isn't meant to be limiting, it's meant to make sure that we're getting the nutrition we need and you can do that by planning or by winging it because it comes down to portion control and balance.  Think of all the food we have to choose from!!!  There is no way that this kind of eating is limiting.

The bread group can include whole grain bread, bagels, healthy cereals, oatmeal, rice, pasta, cornmeal, barley, quinoa, English muffins, pancakes, waffles, crackers (even the occasional cinnamon roll!).  Just remember the proportion.

The vegetable group can include green peas, spinach and other dark leafy vegetables, mushrooms, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, celery, broccoli, tomatoes, sweet peppers, squash, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, jicama, pumpkin, potatoes (although use these sparingly)

The fruit group can include bananas, oranges, grapefruit, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapes, pears, raspberries, blueberries, apples, strawberries, prunes, cranberries, lemons, kiwi.

The dairy group can include milk, yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese, cheese, vanilla ice cream, frozen yogurt, pudding, smoothies.

The protein group can include poultry, fish, red meat, eggs, beans, shrimp, crab.

Such a variety of food.  You can't get bored because each of these can be prepared in so many wonderful ways and the different menus would be endless.

Other foods that are good for us are what we use to cook with such as garlic and onions, the different herbs and spices, dried fruit, beverages such as herbal teas and green tea.

Some make-ahead tips for all of this are:
*hard boiling a dozen eggs for the week - they come in so handy for that protein need and can be eaten for breakfast, or for an egg sandwich, or on top of a main-dish salad.
*wash and cut up the fruits and vegetables - they will be ready to eat or cook with at a moments notice.  The only fruit that I don't cut up in advance is watermelon.  When it's cut up and sits in it's own juice, it gets pretty mushy after a while - so cut up just enough needed for when you're serving it.
*go through all the recipes that you will make your menus from and be sure you have all the ingredients you need for the week.

Well, I think that's all I have for you.  Again, I'm not an expert at this but I did want to share what works for us and maybe encourage you to look at the food you are serving but portioning it as well.  I know for us, we just got used to serving up as much as we wanted and then even going back for seconds!!!  WAY too much. It's not good to get up from the table feeling stuffed.  There should still be a little wiggle room.  : )  For some, it may be wise to talk to a certified nutritionist that could walk through your daily dietary needs to make sure you are getting the most out of your food.  I just can't afford to do that so I'm just trying to be wise in it all.  Like you, we know what foods don't cooperate with our bodies.  Our son can't eat beans - he's allergic to them.  And we know what foods we absolutely do not like - it's peaches for me!!!!  Ick.

So, you know your family and you know what works!!!  Please let me know how you plan YOUR meals.  : )  Have fun with this.

God bless.  Thanks for taking the time to read my post!

Saturday, July 17, 2021

July Newsletter


More summer flowers in bloom.  : )

July is half over.  My, oh, my.  It has been a roller coaster of ups and downs as far as temperatures.  Upper 90's and then upper 60's, back to upper 90's.............and the rains have been few and far between.  I feel like gone are the days when a good soaking rain would just settle in for a couple days, because now it comes in and goes out in a matter of a few hours (and sometimes in a matter of a few minutes!).  It barely gets down deep into the roots.  During the winter months I tried to learn about plants that could get through drought conditions and some of them actually are doing okay, but the annuals just need that extra water on a pretty regular basis.  I'm very happy that we got a rain barrel a few years back because even with those few and far between showers, it does fill up and can be used during these dry spells.  If your community/state allows you to collect rainwater (because I hear that some states won't let you) I would encourage you to either purchase a rain barrel or make one out of large plastic garbage containers (there are all kinds of instructions on-line).

While I was working outside with the plants and weeding and cleaning things up, I got to thinking about the various plants that we can root and then grow even more plants from! I thought it would be a wonderful Christmas gift for anyone on your list that loves plants and wouldn't mind nurturing one in their own homes over the winter months.  A couple of leaves were broken off on our Begonia so I brought them in, put them in water, and they grew roots like crazy.  I was able to put them in small terra cotta pots:

the Begonia these fell off of is in the background under the tree

look at this - it already has a little flower on it!!!!

I think anyone would love to receive this as a gift - if you do this now, the plants will have time to root, you can pot them, and they can establish themselves.   Just look around at all the plants you have (inside and outside) and give it a try.  Some might not work, but I think it's important to at least give it a try!  : ) Clay pots are very inexpensive so I bought a lot of them in different sizes because I'm really excited about doing this.  Geraniums work well as do Christmas cactus and then think of herbs - mint, rosemary, basil, etc. (which would be great to give someone who enjoys cooking).  Make a list of all the people who would love this "green" gift from you.  

I'm actually kind of thinking Christmas lately and hoping to get back to a more traditional Christmas this year.  We were talking about it with our son and he, also, agreed.  I'm not sure when the idea of fulfilling everyone's wants on one day of the year came from.  Doesn't a Christmas in a warm house with festive decorations and comfort, lots of good food to eat, and fun games with joy and laughter sound good?  I'm still going to ask for Christmas gift lists but this year I want to narrow it down to purchasing something needed and practical, and then something fun that they don't want to purchase for themselves but can still use.   But I think that's about it.  We always have stocking gifts as well, but in the past few years these gifts are those that can be used up - toiletry items, something for an on-going hobby, snacks, etc. - nothing that goes into a drawer or on a closet shelf and eventually tossed or given away. Years ago we used to give some silly gifts and then never knew what to do with them because people actually spent good money - thankfully that is over.  I hope this helps you as well.  Are you thinking Christmas yet?  Do you think you'll do anything different this year?

I only have a couple of recipes to share with you this time around.  And I'm sorry - no photos - it's so hard to remember!!!!  The first one is a homemade Catalina Salad Dressing.  Building (and maintaining) a pantry is important to me (actually I just read about that in Proverbs this morning - how we are to stock up in the summer and fall months for the winter), but more and more I feel that having the ingredients to make things is more important than having the actual product.  Again, it's good to know what goes into the recipe and I really do get tired of reading all those labels for questionable stuff.  It doesn't mean that I don't have any ready-made products on my shelf (because I do), I just like making more on my own.  Anyway........that was a long intro to the dressing, wasn't it?  : o


Make the dry mix first - SO handy to have on the pantry shelf!

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. oregano
1/8 tsp. parsley

Mix well and put into a Ziploc baggie.  When ready to make, pour the mix into a mason jar and add:

1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup ketchup

Shake well and enjoy.  Even my picky husband liked it!!!!!  Yeah!!!!!  : )

When we're in corn-on-the-cob season, this next "recipe" is such a time saver and they come out perfect every time.


3-6 ears of corn
olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 cup water

Husk corn and remove silk.  Lay each ear on a sheet of foil.  Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and then wrap them up.  Add the water to the bottom of the crockpot and lay the corn in.  3 ears should fit lengthways and additional ears on top.  Cook on Low for 3 hours.  Unwrap and enjoy!!!!

And then there are the personal things that I'm doing:

*Continuing to send letters to the Senior Center
*Crocheting quilt blocks
*Knitting prayer shawls


 I received these books for my birthday!!!!  I've already read the Nancy Drew book and I'm well into the one of the Charles Spurgeon books and loving it.  : )  I like having two or three books going at the same time!  

Remember to keep reading!!!!  Remember to keep your children/grandchildren in books!!!!!  What are you reading?


*A Quilter's Life - I'm not a quilter, but there is something real about this mother/daughter team that makes it enjoyable to listen to while doing other things.  Sometimes they talk about other things too that can be helpful in any craft/hobby we do.
*P. Allen Smith - he is definitely my mentor on everything gardening - I'm learning SO much.  When I have time, I will bring my gardening notebook out and stream this on the television and sit and take notes.  : )
*Behind the scenes of the Walton's with Judy Norton - if you're a fan of The Walton's, I think you'll like it - not a "learning" thing but just interesting.
*America's Test Kitchen and/or Cook's Country - these are fun to listen to while in the kitchen.  : )

Remember to keep learning!!!!   Remember to not let your kids/grandkids take a break from learning in the summer - we don't have to be strict, but show them that learning can be fun!   Do you have a favorite channel on YouTube that you watch and learn from regularly?  


I was thinking about the importance faith, in the Lord Jesus, is in homemaking.  I truly believe that the Lord is interested in what we do in the home.  "Do everything as unto the Lord" is important.  I know that I've said this before but when you cook, clean, garden, parent.........and you feel like nobody cares or nobody notices........just remember that the Lord sees you.  I encourage you to put Him first and He will give you the energy and motivation to make it through the day.  Because as we all know, sometimes it feels like we're just trying to make it through the day.  Lean into the Lord and ask Him to pick you up and carry you through.  He does and He will.  : )

Sometimes when I talk to people and they have a burden or a problem, I feel like I need to be more bold in asking them if they've taken this to the Lord.  I think we often feel like if we can just talk to someone they will be able to encourage and give advice but I have found that in talking to the Lord about everything first is what I need more than anything else.  He knows it all anyway and He is the only one who can do anything about anything, so why not just go to Him?

In this crazy world we live in, I feel like wisdom and discernment is a thing of the past!!!  I just finished the Book of Exodus and felt that, instead of going on to Leviticus, I needed to go to the Book of Proverbs (the book of wisdom!) instead.  God's Word says that "if anyone lacks wisdom, they should ask God" - so in my reading I have an opportunity to pray Scripture and ask God for wisdom, discernment, and understanding.  What a wonderful gift God has given us - His Word!  To be able to open it daily and read the very words He has spoken and then we can learn from it.  SO amazing.  : )  I was thinking the other day that if you are a parent/grandparent, what a wonderful summer study this would be!  Our kids need to gain wisdom and discernment as they live in this world.  You would be able to read it together and talk it over - it gives them a safe place to discuss these things with you and not with others who might mislead them or give them false information.  There's a LOT of false teaching out there!!!!  Of course, some things in Proverbs you WILL have to be discerning - I feel like some of it needs to be age-appropriate and you need to decide what to discuss with the children.

Lastly, our church is taking the month of July for a time of Prayer and Fasting and I would encourage you in this as well.  It's a time of eating less and eating healthy while keeping our eyes on Jesus.  Our prayer weeks are broken down into 4 areas:

*Week one - prayer for health and healing.  Make a list of everyone you know that needs healing (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual).  Remember also to praise the Lord for His help!

*Week two - prayer for the lost.  We all know someone who is lost.  Those who haven't trusted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.  Make a list of those who need Jesus.  Those who are in bondage to sin and cannot free themselves - for the Lord to break the chains and free them!

*Week three - prayer for our cities and nation.  We all know that everything is upside down.  Right is wrong, wrong is right.  Tension, lawlessness, riots, crime, violence.  Only God can bring healing and we know that we need to be brought back to the Bible.  We need restoration and forgiveness!

*Week four - prayer for personal help.  We all need God to intervene in our lives so that we can bring hope to others even when everything around us seems dark and hopeless.  Pray that He will strengthen you.

I encourage you in this.  Maybe this is something that you can begin in your own church and small groups and families.  Praying together (even if it's just husband/wife, or family) is important.  God hears us and wants to answer!

Lastly, and I know I haven't said this in a while.......if you have never given your life to Christ I encourage you to do that.  Today.  God's Word says that "today is the day of salvation" - we aren't guaranteed tomorrow.   We are all so concerned about our plans for each and every day (and it's important to plan and do what we need to do) but what is truly important is our concern for our salvation and where we will spend eternity.  Eternity is a LONG time!  It's forever!!!  This life here on earth is temporary - what comes after that is what matters.

Well, I think that is it!  Thank you SO much for taking the time to stop by for a visit.  I appreciate all of you and I'm very thankful for you.  May God bless your homemaking efforts and I'll see you again!!!  


Saturday, July 3, 2021



The next picture on our kitchen calendar - so cute.  : )

Well, Happy 4th of July weekend everyone!!!  I hope you have some plans in store with family and friends and I pray that you will all remain safe and healthy through it all.  : )

We celebrate the 4th today and have ever since I can remember because it just seems to work out better for everyone which is fine.  This weekend here will be very hot and humid (along with almost everyone else everywhere else!).  Tonight will be the fireworks display after having nothing last year so we're looking forward to that.  It will be a day of getting things ready for a suppertime picnic at our son's house tonight so that will keep me busy.  : )

I hope we will all remember to be bold and courageous in our stand to defend our country.  And I hope that we will all remember to continue to be on our knees in prayer for this country.   I believe the Lord is listening to our prayers and continues to help us during this time.  We all know there are little sub-groups of people who are bent on destroying, but God is faithful and just and will deliver us if we just keep calling on His Name!  Our future depends on it.

I just wanted to share some photos before I go:

instead of disposing (properly, of course) an old flag, my husband put it on a frame and then hung it up on our fence for the weekend.  I love the way it looks.  Don't be afraid to display our flag!!!!  

a little banner along the side yard.  Be patriotic!  : )

the flowers in the raised containers are just so pretty and full right now - with all the heat we at least make sure that the beds are watered.

I read an idea the other day about using your children's old toys in the garden so I have 3 little trucks scattered around the yard.  I think it looks really cute.  : )

I filled this old firepit with soil in the Spring and then sprinkled two packages of wildflower seed in it - this is what happened!  The different flowers are starting to blossom now.  And then, of course, I tuck tiny flags in pots around the house!  : )

I just love these coneflowers - every morning though I see one nipped off and laying on the ground - naughty bunny!  It gives me a good excuse to bring them in and put them in a jar to pretty up the kitchen!  : )

My herb "garden" - mint, basil, chives, rosemary.  : )

Beautiful cloud formation over our house - isn't it amazing?!

There.  I think that's it.  I just wanted to drop in to wish you a very nice upcoming weekend.  God bless you and your families and may God continue to bless the U.S.A.!!!!!