The Many Benefits of an Instant Pot

Friday, November 25, 2016



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This past spring I bought one of the best tools I have ever had in my kitchen, an Instant Pot. What is it? It's an electric pressure cooker that does amazing things with food. And today, because it's Black Friday they are on sale! $68.95!

So what are some of the awesome things it does?
  • Hard-boiled eggs that actually peel easily. The Instant Pot has enticed me to do eggs again. Frankly, I hate peeling eggs, but pressure cooking eggs makes potato salad and deviled eggs a breeze.
  • Yesterday, we cooked our potatoes in the Instant Pot before mashing them. I have no idea why, but the mashed potatoes didn't have chunks and were smooth!
  • The Instant Pot cooks dried beans to perfection! I had almost given up on using dried beans until my friend demonstrated what the Instant Pot does with beans before I bought mine.
  • Recently, a friend served me oatmeal (made from steel cut oats) made in her Instant Pot. It was amazing!
  • We have loved making Mac-n-Cheese with it. A lot easier than the "normal" way.
  • It's great for cooking veggies.
  • I have loved cooking frozen meat in it for various recipes...frozen chicken beasts come out moist. You can even cook frozen hamburger and then break it up for different dishes.
These are just some of the foods I have cooked in my Instant Pot...I can say that I have tried have turned out great (except we don't like spaghetti-the noodles and sauce- in it...it clumps). I love the speed of the device and the easy clean-up...like yesterday, when we cooked potatoes...there were no boiling over pots!!!

If you decide to get one, remember that using an Instant Pot is pressure cooking so there is a slight learning curve. However, there are a ton of recipes online (See my Pinterest board here), and this is an awesome cookbook to get you started!



I have done a lot of the recipes in Great Food Fast, and they have turned out great!

So if you interested, this is the time to buy an Instant Pot (The sale ends today as it is only for Black Friday)! You can find it here!

Bullet Journal Tips for a New Year

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


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This year has been an experiment. I journeyed into the world of bullet journaling back in February and haven't looked back. Actually, I went full throttle! Once I got the hang of a regular bullet journal I set up a homeschool bullet journal to keep my son and I on track with his work (You can read about it here.) Now that I am at almost a full year of keeping my life in order this way I wonder how I ever kept organized beforehand! Before we jump into my ideas, let me explain what a bullet journal is and why it works...

A bullet journal is a hand-written day timer. You can set it up specifically for your needs and how you run your life. If you want to read about the basic set-up then go to this post. A bullet journal is WAY better than a calendar or a day timer. When you are hand writing everything out (even the set up of your schedule) you are more invested in your plans. Also, because a bullet journal is so flexible you can customize pages for the information you need and want. I love that all I need is in one place instead of scattered all over my house. No more looking for the file on my dog so I can see when he needs shots next (because I have a page for that now). No frantic searches for meal ideas (because, yeah, I have a page for that in my journal!). No wondering what book I should pick up next (Yep, there's a page for that). Read on to see how I have set things up for 2017!

So here is a quick look at my set up for 2017 and a few tips for you if you are just starting out...

First of all you need a few supplies...at bare minimum a pen and a journal...then there are the extras if you want to decorate your journal. I use colored pencils and a glitter pen, but others use washi tape, stickers, stencils, or no decoration at all.  Here is what I use:

Moleskine Notebook, Squared- I used a dotted one and decided I didn't like it as much as this squared one. The squares make it easier to create boxes and grids.

Staedtler Pigment Liners- I LOVE these pens for my bullet journal as these don't smudge and create crisp, clean lines.

Prismacolor Pencils- I use these to add a bit of color to my journal. I love that I can blend these and also create an ombre effect.

Wink of Stella Brush (in clear)- This is a glitter brush that I use over the areas where I have put down color. It adds a bit of sparkle to my pages. 

Tips and Ideas

One of the best things I did this past year in my bullet journal was to set up a page where I could record ideas of what I would want to add or take away from in my next journal. Setting up my journal for 2017 was a breeze, because I had a list of what I wanted to do. I decided that for 2017 I would continue to keep a running list of ideas so that I can modify things in 2018.


One thing that I have set up differently is my future log. This past year I just had a running log and events were all jumbled together. I really had to go searching to make sure I didn't miss anything for a particular month. So this year I have already separated the months into columns and have started listing tasks and events in their proper months.


I also set up my birthday/important dates list differently for the coming year... Below you will see my bullet journal on its side. I now have space to put important dates on either side of the month they happen in. This gives me extra space to add in dates that may be important in the future.


Here is my year-at-a-glance page which is extremely useful when you are setting up your monthly and weekly calendars. Yes, it is a lot of writing, but I refer to this page constantly through the year.


Here is a collage of some of my other pages...

  • A book list of what I am reading and have read
  • A page for important health information on the family (allergies, when procedures/shots are due, blood types, etc.)
  • A page of information for our dog, Titan (medical info, foods that work in his diet, etc.)
  • Several pages of meal ideas based on the season
  • A page where I can record what I loan out to others and when the items come back to me.


So what are you waiting for? We have little over a month left in this year...now is the time to set up your bullet journal!


Light of the World {Think On These Things}

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


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We all live in the dark from time to time. Sometimes darkness comes in the form of sin or grief. Other times it could be a depression that won't let go. Then there are those seasons in life when we have no idea what we should do next. What should be our next move? We haven't a clue. That is why we need the Light to shine in on our lives...to expose our sin, to heal our hearts, to dispel the dark times, and to show us our next step. 

I live in a state of darkness. Literally. My home state, Alaska, experiences more darkness than all the rest in the Union during the winter months. As December approaches each year, I am reminded of our desperate need for light in this dark, cold place. Our desperate need for a Savior, the Light of the World. Then Christmas hits--the season of lights. Just when we need it the most. So this month let's focus on what we all need and what God did provide...a Light for our darkness. So grab a pen, a journal, and your Bible and let's Think on These Things.





If you would like all the Think on These Things verses or want to know more about it, click here.

Instagram
During the month I try to post my thoughts on the verses on Instagram. If you would like to follow me you can find me here. Also, if you are posting your own thoughts there please use the hashtag #thinkonthesethings. I would love to read how God speaks to you!!

There are many ways you can use these verses. You can read and meditate on them. You can write them out as you meditate on them. You can read them and then write about them in a journal or journaling Bible. Here are some of the items I use...

A single column journaling Bible...



ESV Single Column Journaling Bible (TruTone, Chestnut, Leaves Design)
ESV Single Column Journaling Bible (Black)
ESV Single Column Journaling Bible (Brown, Flap with Strap)

Some highlighters {These are my absolute favorites!}...



Eco Highlighter Pencils - Set of 5 Colors

Black pens...

Black Ink Pen Set



I love these journals that lay flat...easier to write in! They are great for Scripture writing!
Studio Oh! Deconstructed Journals


Mended {Think On These Things}

Monday, October 24, 2016

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It started about twenty years ago...the breaking of me. Anxiety, depression, and toxic relationships left me a devastated woman, and the very things I never wanted to happen in my life did. The brokenness of my relationships broke me. I would never be the same. For about three years now, I have been healing. There are days I think I am whole. There are times when I am sure I am more broken than before. Healing is a roller coaster ride in which you hope at the end you come out alive.

There is this other aspect of brokenness and healing we don't like to talk about...we need the brokenness to become whole. You see, for me, the circumstances I never wanted to happen in my life were the very thing I needed to become who God wants me to be, the woman that I am not. Fear free (or at least not debilitated by it). Brave with boundaries. More healthy in my interactions with humans. All of these descriptions are NOT ME, but God decided to use brokenness and healing to make me into what I am not.

So this month, let's focus on the God that mends us, the One whose wounds heal us, the Great Physician. Maybe your breaking is different from mine as we don't all break in the same places, but the concept of healing is the same. Healing changes us into who we are meant to be. So grab a pen and a journal and let's "Think on These Things" and explore how we are mended.

And if you are in the midst of being mended? See the end of this post with links to my series, Hope and Healing.

If you would like all the Think on These Things verses or want to know more about it, click here.

Instagram
During the month I try to post my thoughts on the verses on Instagram. If you would like to follow me you can find me here. Also, if you are posting your own thoughts there please use the hashtag #thinkonthesethings. I would love to read how God speaks to you!!

Resources
There are many ways you can use these verses. You can read and meditate on them. You can write them out as you meditate on them. You can read them and then write about them in a journal or journaling Bible. Here are some of the items I use...

A single column journaling Bible...

ESV Single Column Journaling Bible (TruTone, Chestnut, Leaves Design)
ESV Single Column Journaling Bible (Black)
ESV Single Column Journaling Bible (Brown, Flap with Strap)

Some highlighters {These are my absolute favorites!}...

Eco Highlighter Pencils - Set of 5 Colors

Black pens...

Black Ink Pen Set

I love these journals that lay flat...easier to write in!

Resources on Healing

If you are struggling through the process of healing I have a series on my blog called Hope and Healing in which I wrote thirty-one posts about being broken and mended. Here's a quick look at some of the topics...

Slow Down to Heal
Forgiveness and Reconciliation
Five Ways to Make Peace with Your Past
Finding Your Voice
Books Lists on Healing

Click here to see the whole series.




And then there is this...

 Ann Voskamp's book releases tomorrow, and it fits our theme for the month of November perfectly. I had the privilege to read an advanced copy as I am on the launch team for her book. In it, Ann discusses what to do with "your one broken heart". Not to be missed! You can find it HERE. Also, there is a DVD study coming out in December on the book. Check it out here.

Great Stories for Kids at Advent

Saturday, October 22, 2016

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Some of my best Christmas memories didn't happen during my childhood, but rather the growing up years for my sons. When the oldest was in elementary school someone recommended Jotham's Journey to us for Advent. Jotham goes through a series of adventures that eventually lead him to the birth of Christ! Each night of Advent you read the continuing story that almost always ends in a cliff hanger (making your kids beg for more). After each part of the story there is a short devotional related to what is currently happening. The book also gives you a calendar of when Advent starts and also how to incorporate the candles that go along with Advent in your reading of the story each night.

The author, Arnold Ytreeide, has come out with three other books like Jotham's Journey


Each one of these stories surrounds the birth of Christ, and here is the absolutely awesome thing about these adventures...they are intertwined! Jotham, Bartholomew, Tabitha, and Ishtar cross paths in the story. So if your family reads one the first year and a different story the next year you get to see the story from a whole new vantage point. Last year, my husband and I (because our boys are now too old) read Ishtar's Odyssey together even though the boys didn't participate. We loved this angle of the story, because Ishtar is Persian and comes with the Wise Men to see the baby King. It added a whole new perspective!

So if you are looking for a new tradition for Advent these books would be a great addition to your season! The stories are captivating and the messages in the devotionals are not to be missed! Advent starts November 27th...so get ready for an adventure!

Reading through the Bible

Monday, October 17, 2016

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I had tried a million times before, but I just couldn't get past Leviticus. I would stall in the layers of law unable to pull myself out from under them. Finally, in 2010, I came across a plan. Crazier than the ones before, but sometimes crazy is just what you need. I would try to read through the Bible in 90 days! This time it worked. Yes, Leviticus was still a challenge, but the speed at which I needed to go to finish on time meant that the reading of the law wouldn't last forever! It was the plan I needed to make to Revelation.

So why would a person read through the whole Bible? Wouldn't it be more effective to focus on a few verses or a book and really dive deep? Here is why the one reason you should give it and try and the many reasons you shouldn't...

Don't read through the Bible...

To get deeper understanding of all its details. That's what Bible studies that focus on a certain topic or book are for. 

To go on bunny trails. The goal is to read it to the end and not to stop along the way and branch off onto other topics. 

To get all your questions answered. I can assure you that after reading through the Bible several times (mostly with the 90 day program), I have more questions than answers.

Read through the Bible...

Because it is a complete story of God's love for you. Plain and simple...to really know the story you have to read it in its entirety. You can't get halfway through and then go to the end to see what happens (Haven't we all done this once or twice with a novel?), because you will miss along the way the ways He loves us. You read it to get the big picture...not the minute details. You read to see its Author as He paints a picture of who He really is. It isn't about depth of understanding, bunny trails, or answered questions. It's about a big picture.

Want to give it a try? Let's take a look at some resources you can use to read through all sixty-six books.

The Bible in 90 Days- This is my personal favorite way to read through God's Word. It gives you a great overview. I am a fast reader and get bored easily if a task is too long. So ninety days works for me. It is a commitment of about 45 minutes to an hour each day. So if you are wanting to do this plan make sure you are in a season in life that works for you. For example, as a teacher, I try not to do a read through during the school year.

The Daily Bible- I loved doing this chronological Bible one time when I read through. The passages are divided into 365 days and are laid out chronologically. When you get to the Proverbs and Ecclesiastes they are grouped together according to topic. A very thought-provoking way to read! As a warning through this Bible is small and has small print. It might be good to download it if that is an issue for you.

Every Day with Jesus Bible- The next time I read through I am going to do this Bible. Every day you get a passage from...

  • The Old Testament
  • The New Testament
  • Psalms
  • Proverbs
There is also a short devotional after each day's reading.

Here are a few more resources on my blog about reading through God's Word:






What Gratitude Can Do for Your Heart...

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

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Ever feel grumpy? Discontent? Struggling with depression and anxiety? Click on over to His Mercy is New today as I share about how gratitude can change our hearts! I talk about my seven year journey of keeping a gratitude list and how it has changed my perspective! Also, check out the resources below if you would like to start a habit of keeping a gratitude journal.