Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Every girl's crazy 'bout a servant-hearted man

Third post in a week... and I can't promise it'll be the last! I just wanted to write a brief synopsis of what's been rattling around in my head these days. It's been a while since I've done any journal-type blogging, and for some reason, I am feeling like today is a good day to do so.

The Lord has really been challenging me to examine myself honestly lately, and the things I've been finding have been rather enlightening, challenging, and at times, down-right frightening. I have written about our first year of marriage - the ups and downs, the scrapes and bruises along the way, and ultimately the joy in knowing I am with a man God designed for me. Our second year of marriage has been centered more on settling into our individual roles within the marriage. Since Austin and I, both, were single for several years, living on our own, owning our own homes, settling into our own individual routines, becoming comfortable in our independence, etc., we have struggled some as we have tried to mesh our two worlds. I admit, I have been bull-headed and insistent that my way is right, but I think Austin can admit the same attitude. Through this past year, we have learned, more than ever before, the necessity of humbling ourselves and becoming a true servant to one another.

So, I said I have examined myself. The things I have learned are as follows: I am independent, and at times, I do not consider the desires of the most important person in my life. I am more concerned with pleasing and helping anyone and everyone other than myself and my husband. I over-commit. I plan things every night of the week, and I often do not carve out special time for just me and Austin. (There are several other things that the Lord has revealed to me about my character and habits, which I don't believe are necessary to share in this forum, but I'm working on those too!) These things need to change. I am discovering that the best way for these warts on my character to most naturally fall off is to become a servant to Austin. I'm not talking "yessa' massa', I'll git yer washin' massa'" - I'm talking, put down my crafts for a minute, and do something to lighten the load for my hard-working man! I have to daily die to myself, clean the freaking dishes, and do it with a joyful, selfless heart. This is not naturally in my personality; just ask my poor mom. I have found that when I do selflessly, joyfully serve my husband, I actually feel wonderful! It's natural feel-good medicine for the soul!

The best part about being married to a man who is committed to serving the Lord and growing steadily in his relationship with Christ is that he lovingly guides me towards holiness and redemption. He encourages me to improve the way I handle situations and make my plans. Don't get me wrong, this guy can sin with the best of 'em! But, he is quick to humble himself, and that to me is a dreamy quality! I love how we have gone from being enthralled by external and superficial (not all bad) qualities during dating, engagement, and even through our first year of marriage to being completely enthralled with each others sanctification process. "Check out that sexy humility..." or "Did you see the way he memorized that scripture? Man that's hot..." ha. I love growing. It's cool.

At this point, we are praying for and waiting on our Master's timing in giving us children. As I am far-too-quickly approaching <cough, cough> thirty-years-old, I feel the inklings of stress related to the timing of this life change, but I am grateful that God has shown me and taught me before that His timing is perfect. He brought my husband to me at just the right time (albeit later than I thought He would), and He will bring us a child at just the right time, in just the right way. It is so comforting and exciting to walk through life with my partner.

As we are now beginning our third year of marriage, I feel that the best is yet to come. I know there will be trials and sufferings in the years to come - such is the nature of life - But, I am so grateful that we can strike out, without fear, for He has already overcome!

Ephesians 5:25-29
"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church"

1 Peter 3:1-6
"Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious."

Monday, October 8, 2012

Well, you can't say I never cook...

As promised, here is my post on BULK cooking!

*I have edited some of the instructions on some of the recipes as requested by a reader. I hope this makes your assembly and cooking a little smoother!*

Basically, this was born out of my guilt over not cooking for my husband. He made a comment in passing that he wished he had more home-cooked meals, and I immediately made up my mind to improve and become the wife he deserved! He is such a sweet, servant-hearted man. We both work full time, and we have such busy schedules in the evenings. I just wasn't getting around to cooking a decent meal on a regular basis. SO - I leeched off of Pinterest, google searches, my friends, and my family for recipes for the crock pot, and I've gone wild with it!

 This is my second go at bulk cooking, and I think I'm hooked for life! The first time I attempted this process all on my own. It took me about 4 hours to do eight "meals". Those eight meals lasted us six weeks. (I realize this will be different for each family depending on how many people are in your family) We had plenty of food left over for lunches and leftover dinners. Austin started raving to all of our friends that I was the best wife in the world... So, I knew I was on to something revolutionary! ha. (Thanks for the pat on the back, babe) This time, sweet Austin offered to help! (You know I'm not going to turn that down!!) We spent about 3.5 hours total on the whole process - including shopping, assembling, and cleaning up. We made 13 meals this time! Whew! So, the details:We spent $212 on our groceries (this does not include things I usually have on hand like vinegar, etc), and I am estimating that these meals will last us around 10 weeks. So, roughly $21.50/week. Each helping came out to around $4.00. CHEAP!!! Especially for good home-cooked meals! The BEST part is that we use slow-cooker liners, so there is literally NO clean up for each meal other than the dishes we eat on!  AHHH-mazing. As you can see on some of the recipes below, I actually cook some of them in the oven or on the stove top, depending on what we feel like that day.

To assemble: I wrote each recipe in Sharpie on each of the gallon ziploc bags to help me know what to put in each bag. We organized chicken, turkey, and beef on the counter, then started chopping and cutting! We assembled one bag at a time and just dumped everything in each recipe in its designated bag, sealed the bag, and laid it flat in the freezer to allow room for plenty of meals!

If you feel up to it, I TOTALLY recommend it!!! Good luck, and happy assembly!

I am posting the recipes we used below, but first some pictures!

My first completion pic - I was pretty excited!! 

 Austin was such a trooper about dicing a TON of onions!!
I was in charge of meat and assembly
 Look at all of that FOOD!!

Beef Burritos
(6+ servings)
  • 1 London Broil or top round roast (about 2 lbs)
  • 1 diced onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons whole peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce – Use just 1 pepper!! (It’s in a can.)
  • 1 ½ teaspoon chili powder (you can adjust this according to your taste)
  1. Add all the above ingredients into a freezer bag.
  2. When you are ready to cook the meal, dump the contents of the bag into the crock pot and cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 6-7 hours Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 6-7 hours.
  3. When the meat is cooked, you will need to strain the juices and add the juice back to the slow cooker. (You want to remove the peppercorns and onions.) Shred the meat and add back to the juice in the slow cooker for about 30 minutes. This is one of our favorite recipes. My kids eat it as long as we have leftovers.

Chicken Fajitas
( 5-6 servings)
  • 1 1/2 pound chicken breast
  • 2 peppers (your favorite)
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • taco seasoning packet
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. salt
You will also need tortillas, cheese, cream, etc.

  1. Put all the ingredients in a large freezer bag. (Make sure you label the bag with instructions.)
  2. When it’s time to cook it, dump it all in your slow cooker and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5-6 hours.
  3. When it’s cooked, shred the meat and add it back to the pepper mixture and serve on warm tortillas and your favorite toppings.
With the leftover you can make this delicious Chicken Fajita Casserole!
Dijon chicken
(4-5 servings)
  • 2 pounds chicken breasts
  • 1 cup chicken broth (or 1 cup water & 1 Tablespoon bouillon)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 T dijon mustard
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ – 1 tsp thyme (depending on how much you like thyme)
Can be cooked on the stove-top for 15 minutes if the sauce is drained after thawing, or can be baked in the oven for 35-40 minutes in the sauce. Also, can be cooked in the crock-pot for 6-8 hours on low. 

Italian Chicken(serves 4-5)

  • 2 pounds of boneless/skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 packet ranch dressing mix
  • 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • ½ cup water*
  • 1 cup Italian dressing (Don’t put in the freezer bag)
Place all the ingredients in the freezer bag.
*If you use pre-frozen chicken there is a layer of ice, so you do not need to add the water.

Can be cooked on the stove-top at medium heat for 15 minutes if the sauce is drained after thawing
Can be baked in the oven for 35-40 minutes in the sauce at 375 F.
Also, can be cooked in the crock-pot for 6-8 hours on low.

Honey Pineapple Chicken
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup light soy sauce
- 2 lb chicken breasts

- Cook on low 6-8 hrs in the crock pot
- This can be cooked on the stove top at medium heat - I cook in the juice for 7-10 minutes, then drain the juice to brown the chicken.  I then set the chicken aside and pour some soy sauce and brown sugar into the hot pan and stir it constantly until it becomes a glaze. I pour that over the chicken, and YUMMM!!
- serve with rice

Salsa Chicken
4 chicken breasts
1 15 oz. can of black beans1 pound bag frozen corn 
1 can diced tomatoes with chilis (like Rotel) 
1 jar salsa 
1 packet of taco seasoning

 Directions:Place all ingredients in bag and freeze. Thaw, then cook on low 8 hours. Serve with rice or on tortillas along with shredded cheddar and sour cream.We stacked corn tortillas, then chicken, then cheese, and repeat. Put a little guacamole on the very top.
Always yummy beef
3 to 7 pounds beef roast, any type
1 dry onion soup mix package
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3 to 7 potatoes, cut into cubes
2 to 4 carrots, cut, optional

Cook on low in the crock-pot for 6-8 hours. I have found that I need to season a little extra with salt and pepper once the beef is almost done cooking. 

Beef burghandy
1/2 cup flour
3 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
4 pounds beef chuck, cubed
1/4 cup olive oil
2 onions, sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 cup fresh parsley, minced
6 teaspoons garlic, minced
4 bay leaves
2 cups burgundy wine
1 cup beef broth

Cook on low 6-8 hours. This is one of our favorites, but we have found that we need to salt and pepper a little more once it is mostly cooked. I shred the beef and let it sit in the juice on low for another hour... It has EXCELLENT flavor. We enjoy it served with large Egg Noodles. 

Honey chicken

6 chicken breasts
1tsp salt
1tsp pepper
1.5cups honey
1/3 cup ketchup
1cup soy sauce
1/4 cup oil
2tbsp minced garlic

Can be cooked on the stove-top for 15 minutes at medium heat if the sauce is drained after thawing
Can be baked in the oven for 35-40 minutes at 375 F in the sauce.
Also, can be cooked in the crock-pot for 6-8 hours on low.

Served with white rice and steamed veggies as a side.

Herbed turkey breast
1/4 cup softened butter
1/2cup fresh sage
1/2cup fresh terragon
4tsp minced garlic
2tsp cracked pepper
1tsp salt
6lbs turkey breasts

Can be cooked on the stove-top for 15 minutes at medium heat after thawing
Can be baked in the oven for 35-40 minutes at 375 F in the sauce.
Also, can be cooked in the crock-pot for 6-8 hours on low.

Serve with any sides you like! We enjoy it with sweet potatoes and steamed veggies.

Taco roast
1 (2.5 lb) chuck roast
1 (14 oz) can beef broth
1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 Tbsp cumin
1/2 Tbsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
Juice of 1 lime

Serve in tortillas or as a sandwich or on a salad... One of our favorites!! Cook on low 6-8 hours. It might need some extra seasoning with salt and pepper once the beef is mostly cooked.


A reader took the time to type up a shopping list for all of the ingredients. This is enough for 2 of each meal:
Grocery List (makes 2 of each recipe)

Soy sauce
Apple cider vinegar
Tomato sauce- 4 cans
Chicken broth
Beef broth
Olive oil
Dijon mustard
Brown sugar/sugar
Honey 2 cups
Dry Goods:
2 cans rotel
2 jars salsa
2 cans pineapple chunks
2 cans cream of mushroom
2 c. pineapple juice
2 cans black beans
Burgundy wine 4 c.
Dijon mustard
Italian dressing
24 Chicken breasts
13 lbs. chicken breast
2 London Broil or top round roast (about 2 lbs each)
3 to 7 pounds beef roast, any type for each meal
8 pounds beef chuck, cubed
2 6lbs. turkey breasts
2 (2.5 lb each) chuck roast
8 onions
4 peppers (any color)
6 potatoes
8 carrots
2 c. mushrooms
2 limes
2 c. fresh parsley
1 c. fresh sage
1 c. fresh tarrogon
2 Taco seasoning packets
2 Ranch mix
2 Onion soup packets
Chili powder
Bay leaves
Onion powder

Don't judge me. I've been busy.

So, I guess if you have read my blog, you have noticed that I haven't posted in a LONG time!! Approximately 9 months, to be exact.
Well, a brief update:
  • I hurt my knee, and I had to put exercise on hold for a few months to recuperate it. As a result, I did not get to run in a half marathon. Training will begin again this winter. Stay tuned, and hold me accountable!
  • We traveled a LOT during the summer. I got a new baby niece, Lila (presh x10). We got up to Boise, ID to see her. We saw my family for 2 weeks, went to Mexico, had a nice little reunion with the whole Sharp clan in Denver, and had some fun at the cabin in New Mexico with friends. We were out of town more than in town this summer! 
  • Sadly, my precious cousin, Theresa, lost her battle with osteosarcoma this summer at the age of 18. We have been praying for healing for her, and she ultimately got it by being received, completely healed, into the arms of Christ in Heaven.
  • We sold Austin's beloved Jetta - THANK GOD!!! I wasn't necessarily the biggest fan of "the Jet". 
  • I am still staying active in my book club! I LOVE those girls! :) 
  • We are trying to become more active in our church. We have grown so much as a result of our small group and our Sunday School class. We are so grateful for our Hillside family, who have encouraged, inspired, and uplifted us!
  • We have adopted a stow-away kitty, named "the cat". She rode along under Austin's hood next to his engine, unbeknownst to him, and we are trying to convince Austin that God wants us to keep "the cat". Edith is indifferent to her, and Chloe thinks she needs to eat her. So, we are progressing well.
  • We have adopted the "Cook for a month... or three" mindset for cooking. I have now accomplished two large crock-pot meal assembly days. We are LOVING IT!!! Post with recipes forth-coming. 
  • I have been in crafting-craze mode since May. I somehow sweet-talked Austin into letting me get a new sewing machine, and I am IN LOVE!!!! ahhhhhh.... the sweet nothings that machine has whispered to me since I bought it.... I have made skirts, baby clothes, burp cloths, blankies galore, bibs, bedding, and many other projects with my new machine. It is SO much better than my little Wal-Mart machine I have had for 9 years. I have also spent quality time with my glue-gun lately. I have made fall wreaths for my front doors and baby headbands. (Which I am obsessed with making!! They are WAY cute!!
  • Austin and I both bought new guns! Yay! So fun!
  • We celebrated our second anniversary! 

I'm sure there are many other very interesting things that have happened, but for now, I will just leave you with photo evidence of the things described. :)

My new smith&wesson 38spcl revolver!
 All of the "Nash" girls at the beach!
Austin & I at the beach in Tybee Island, Ga with my family
We got some special time to catch up with old friends while in Georgia
Beautiful photo of my beautiful cousin, Theresa. We miss you.
 My new Sewing Machine!!! Viking Emerald... ahhh... So lovely!!
And let the projects begin!!

Burp cloths (rolled up) and receiving blankie for my friend, Lindsay
Little bibs for Lila
Bibs and Burp cloths for Sweet baby James (Troy and Becky's baby due next month!)
Bench cushion for my sweet mother-in-law, Stacy - I might post about this later... It is now in their bedroom at the foot of their bed.  
An unfolded picture of one of the burp cloths... Might do a post on bibs and burpies
My chevron skirt I made for myself in an hour... No pattern... I need to hem it, but I think it turned out alright!
My two-toned infinity scarf! I still need to make a couple of these for some friends...

My cork-stoppers made from rocks bought in Red River
 My fall wreaths!! It's amazing what you can do with hot-glue!! I LOVED this burlap ribbon they had on sale at Hobby Lobby (aka my home away from home)
Baby headbands! A friend asked me if I could try to replicate a headband she saw on a photographer's website, and I quickly became OBSESSED with making these pretty little things... I think I just love that I can make something pretty in about 5 minutes for almost no money... It's instant gratification!
I really love how the peacock feather band turned out!

I want to do a post with a picture of some of the precious babies who are modeling these around town. :)
 We LOVED our time with sweet baby Lila! (These photos are from a few occasions) - Note the little pillow-case dress... Courtesy of yours' truly :)
Lila is so spiritual
 You can tell Austin has just the right touch, huh? haha.
 We got to hit up a few winery's/vineyards while in Idaho! So fun!

 Fun at the cabin! Excuse me, I mustache you...
 Book club is still going strong!! We LOVE our time together and especially Lindsay's cookies!! :)