The Life Giving Table

When my husband and I were preparing for marriage, we talked quite a bit about the things we valued and the vision we had for our family. One of the things we decided to make a priority was sitting down to eat meals together.

We did not want to get caught up in the busyness and distractions of life and lose the connections with our family around meals. This decision was made in 2006, before the invention of the smartphone and the availability of constant distraction. I am so thankful we decided to make meal times together a priority and haven’t allowed the distractions of life to take over our meal times.

From the very beginning of our marriage, we have sat down to dinner each night. The children and I typically sit down and eat breakfast and lunch together also. We sometimes gather around our large bar to eat breakfast or lunch but we’re still gathered together and not planted in front of the television.

Since adding children into our family, we have continued to make our family meal times a priority and they’ve gotten so much more fun. Our kids are now 8, 6, 4 and 11 months and the conversations we have with the big kids are so enjoyable!

While gathering around the table has always been a priority, we haven’t always been intentional about our time together and I must confess that often the responsibility of preparing 3 meals a day for my growing family can feel more like a chore than a joy and I don’t put my best effort into creating delicious meals and delightful conversation. Having to prepare 3 meals a day each and every day (we rarely eat out) makes me somewhat of a utilitarian cook – I don’t always prepare meals focusing on delicious food. I tend to just fix something to minimize my time in the kitchen and the amount of dishes dirtied.

The Life Giving Table by Sally Clarkson has been such a convicting and inspiring book. The time gathered around the table should be viewed as invaluable for deep and meaningful connections with family as well as an opportunity to disciple our children, enjoy a beautiful relaxing environment and delicious food.

Some inspiring words from The Life Giving Table:

“Adults and children are not just bodies to be fed, but also minds to be challenged, hearts that depend on emotional input to survive and to grow as healthy human beings and spirits that long for connection with God and purpose in life.”

“Preparation for a meal indicates thoughtfulness, caring and intentionality. We show others their worth to us by considering how to best meet their needs and by intentionally arranging the environment to provide comfort and pleasure.”

“When we model to our children that pleasure, delight, laughter and food are not God’s after thoughts, but HIs generous gifts to us all, we do them a great favor.”

She writes about the importance of the blessing. We don’t always pray before meals, not because we’re not thankful but because we feel that sometimes it’s just a habit and not always heartfelt.

My thoughts about the importance of the blessing have changed after reading Sally’s words, “A blessings can also be a way for us to tune in to the sacrifice that is necessary for any of us to eat. Growing and living things in creation – plants and animals – must die in order to give us life.” When I came across this, I stopped and just pondered it for awhile. Every time I eat, something else must die.

My life is sustained by the sacrifice of something else. Since we have now begun raising our own food, we are reminded daily that our food doesn’t just come from the grocery store. The meat you eat was once alive and an animal had to die for you to eat it. Even plants give up their life in order to nourish you. I’m definitely more aware of what I’m eating, the true cost of my food and also profoundly thankful for the food I have to eat each and every day.

The Life Giving Table is one of those rare books that has a broad audience. We all eat and desire to connect with the ones we love. Whether you are single, newlywed, married with children or an empty nester, you can create a life giving table.

My hope is that my table becomes more than just a place where people are fed but a place where we enjoy delicious food (most of it grown here on the homestead), connect with each other and enjoy the good gifts God has given us.

*Disclaimer – I received a copy of The Life Giving Table in exchange for a review from the Tyndale Blog Network. This post does contain affiliate links.

Simple Steps to Stress-Free Homemaking

 

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Do you feel like you’re always behind on laundry?

Is it a struggle to keep the kitchen clean?

Do you dread dinner time because you never know what to make?

Just know you’re not alone!

I have struggled so much in these basic areas of homemaking over the past 9 years of managing a home.

Over the years, I’ve implemented systems that have helped me improve my household management, but I’m always eager to learn new techniques and tips from others!

Pile of Laundry

One tip that has helped me so much in my kitchen management was from a  4 Simple Steps to Stress-Free Homemaking eCourse.  This particular tip was simple but implementing it has made a huge difference already!

The exciting news about this eCourse, it’s completely FREE!!

Sign up for this FREE 4-part mini eCourse that is available for a limited time: 4 Simple Steps to Stress-Free Homemaking!

In this eCourse, you will learn:

  • how to never get behind on laundry again,
  • how to wake up each day to a sparkling clean kitchen,
  • how to avoid the 5 ‘o’clock scramble with a super simple meal planning method, and
  • how to set yourself up for success with a quick nighttime routine.

What comes with this eCourse?

  • 4 videos: These videos are all less than 10 minutes long, so it won’t take up a lot of time to watch them.
  • 4 printable worksheets: We don’t want to just leave you with the teaching; we want you to brainstorm ways to implement it in your life!
  • FREE REWARDS by sharing this FREE eCourse with your friends as well!

Dirty Dishes

What rewards can you earn?

Don’t miss out on this FREE eCourse that can help take the stress out of homemaking! Get immediate access by signing up here or click on the button below! 

Click here for immediate access!

Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. Thank you for supporting my site!

Homemade Applesauce

Homemade Applesauce

One of my favorite fall traditions is making applesauce. Each fall, my parents give me a bunch of Arkansas Black apples from my grandparents farm and these apples make delicious applesauce.

Making homemade applesauce is easy – it just takes a few hours from start to finish. The yummy homemade applesauce is worth every hour spent in the kitchen.

Apples

Arkansas Blacks aren’t technically good applesauce apples because they are a hard apple. Good varieties for applesauce include Gala, Fuji, Stayman Winesap and Pink Lady to name a few. I use the Arkansas Blacks because they’re given to me so making applesauce from them is free!

Here are the simple steps to making homemade applesauce:

Peel Apples

Step 1: Peel the apples.

Slice Apples

Step 2: Slice/core the apples.

(An Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer would definitely speed the applesauce making process up. I can’t justify spending money and using valuable cabinet space for an appliance that I would use once a year.)

Put Apples in Pot

Step 3: Place apples in a large pot with a little water.

Cook Apples

Step 4: Watch them cook, stirring often. Add water as needed to prevent burning.

Applesauce

Step 5: You have applesauce. Add sugar if you want (we never add sugar because apples are naturally so sweet) and cinnamon if you want cinnamon applesauce.

At this point, you can refrigerate your applesauce and eat it over the next few days. Or, if you’ve made a large quantity, the next step is to can the applesauce.

To can, place applesauce in jars, put on lids and bands and put in water bath canner. They need to process for 20 minutes (for pint jars).

Canned Applesauce

Step 6: You have canned applesauce. I ended up with 9 pints of plain and 3 of cinnamon this round.

It took me approximately 4 hours from start to finish (canning completed & kitchen clean) to make these 12 pints.

And, one of my favorite parts of making applesauce, it always makes my house smell oh so homey!

Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links that help support this site.

Simple Composting

Compost in BarrelWe don’t put any food into our trash can.

The main reason we choose not to put food into the trash is because those scraps are valuable, as food for our chickens and as rich compost! A bonus of not putting food into the trash can, the trash doesn’t smell!

Our priority is to prevent food waste and not have much to throw out but there are peels, seeds, cores and bones that are inedible.

The scraps we do have fall into 3 categories:

  1. Scraps for chickens
  2. Scraps for composting
  3. Other scraps (like bones/cooked foods) which go to a pile in our woods

Starting to compost can be intimidating because there’s the fear of the smell of collecting food scraps in the kitchen. Plus, many people think they need a fancy kitchen collection container and an elaborate composting system outside. You don’t need these things to begin. Composting really can be simple!

Here’s our simple composting system:

Compost Bowl

We keep a bowl on our kitchen counter to collect scraps to go to compost. We only put peels, seeds, cores and uncooked food into this bowl (no meat or cooked foods).

Full Compost Bowl

Once the bowl fills up, it’s time to carry it outside. We dump the bowl an average of once a day (some days we’ll go two days before dumping, other days we fill up two bowls to carry out).

Compost Barrel

Once the bowl fills, we bring it  out to our compost barrel and place it inside the barrel.

We have the barrel to speed up the ‘cooking’ process for our compost but it’s not necessary.

You can just dump your kitchen scraps in a pile outside, you do not need anything fancy and don’t have to spend a dime to start composting!

Compost in Barrel

The compost barrel contains the scraps that are breaking down into rich compost.

If you look closely, you can see scraps of denim and a piece of leather. I cut up a pair of old jeans and a leather notebook cover and am experimenting with composting them!

Growing in Compost

Underneath our compost barrel is broken down pile of compost. It does not have a bad odor, it just has a rich, earthy odor to it. And, you’ll notice there are things growing in it, I’m pretty sure these are cantaloupe plants which excites me!

Composting really can be simple. All you need is a bowl to collect scraps and a spot in your yard to dump them!