Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Psychology of Debt

We were reflecting the other night about how our thinking habits towards spending have changed since getting out of debt. In many ways it's been rather ironic.

When we were paying back loans and living on a very tight budget, we quickly fell into this line of thinking: "We have no money. I'm sad and depressed that we have no money and frustrated that we can't spend anything. I would feel happier if we went out and looked at all the pretty things we can't afford."

Hmmmm...any guesses on what would happen next?

Ironically now that we don't owe anyone anything and technically could do a bit more impulsive spending, we find ourselves thinking: "We actually have a little bit of money. That makes me very happy." And that's where the conversation stops.

It's been a shocking revelation at how much our frustration and unhappiness would lead to the impulse to buy something. I know there have been hundreds of studies done on that, but it's been another thing to experience the difference.

I don't know if that has been anyone else's experience, but it's kind of sad how much emotions can determine our thinking and actions.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Media Monday: What Are You Thisty For?

This year one of the campaigns being done around the country to engage college students as they return to campus is called the "Red Cup Campaign". Its main focus is to ask students to consider what they are "thirsty" for, which will hopefully open up doors for conversations about how Jesus is the only thing that satisfies.

This video is one of the elements involved with the campaign:

Red Cup Video from InterVarsity twentyonehundred on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hints of Change

I looked outside this morning and saw one small branch with yellow leaves and immediately felt conflicting emotions.

I felt joy. I love the fall. The fall is probably my favorite time of year mainly because everything looks so brilliant and dramatic. It makes me think of harvest and a fullness of God's provision. And the weather is often cooler meaning it's much more comfortable to go hiking or biking but not to cold that we'll lose a finger or toe.

But I also felt sorrow. I'm not ready for fall. This summer has gone by way to fast and this year we've been to preoccupied with church activities, weddings, and gardens really to do our normal summer activities. I think we've been biking once and haven't even gone camping yet this year.

So as I gaze at this golden leaves, they are urging me not to waste what's left of this summer. Because while fall will be glorious, winter is right around the corner.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Summer of the Insects

Sometimes I think the insect kingdom is out to get us.

Already this summer we've faced an invasion of flying ants. Raid to the rescue on that one.

I got bit by a tick in June and ended up quite sick. The doctor is still trying to determine if I actually had Lyme's or erhlichiosis. But after two blood tests and 3 weeks of antibiotics, I'm fine and there shouldn't be any residual effects.

And Matt stepped in a hornets nest and luckily just got his ankle bitten.

It really is amazing that such little things can consume so much of our time, money and mental preoccupation. It also makes me start to long for winter when bugs disappear for a few months. But I have to remind myself that this has not been normal. Usually we're just dealing with a mosquito or two and a stray spider running across our walls. It makes me wonder if we've somehow offended the bug kingdom this past year.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Recipe of the Month: Pizza Crust

I've been looking for a good pizza crust and finally found one I like. Even better, it can be done in a bread machine which means I can take a quick afternoon break at work, start the dough and it's ready by the time I get home from work. That was always one of my frustrations. Good pizza dough takes so long to make that it's not really practical unless it's the weekend.

Here's the recipe:
3/4 cup water
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon white sugar
1 Tablespoon dry milk powder
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon active dry yeast

Place ingredients in the bread machine in the order listed above and select the dough cycle. Start the dough cycle. Remove dough when cycle done and use for your favorite pizza.

I've also taken the dough out and refrigerated it for about 2 or 3 hours, then let the dough warm up again for 20 minutes and used. It worked fine.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Cucumber Overload

Here's the count so far:
  • 6 pints of pickle relish
  • 7 pints of dill pickles
  • 5 jars of strawberry sauce (attempted jam but it didn't set)
  • 1 jar of wild black berry jelly

(Ok, so those last two on the list aren't cucumber related...but they fit into my canning craze.)

It sure fills like summer with all the veggies ripening at once. I picked over 15 cucumbers at once last weekend and since Matt was shooting a wedding last weekend, I had plenty of time to do some canning. However after 7 jars of dill pickles and 6 jars of pickle relish, I'm feeling like I could be done with the cucumbers. Unfortunately, it looks like the plants are no where near being done.

I'm also feeling like I might be losing the battle with the squash. I think my sister secretly hates me because she planted 4 yellow horn squash plants but then left before they started to ripen. I think we've picked about 30 squash so far in the last two weeks. And I'm out of squash ideas.

But it's fun to have fresh veggies again and although it's a lot of work, I really do enjoy canning.

Any recommendations for what to do with yellow squash?

Monday, August 01, 2011

Finished Crazy Quilt

Finally finished the crazy quilt this weekend. I decided to do a simple binding and not do any borders since it seemed to distract from the craziness of the quilt. Overall, I'm quite pleased with how this turned out.

For detail shots of individual squares, see: