Azure Standard: What I Buy

This past year, I started purchasing bulk items from a company called Azure Standard. Azure standard is an online based company. Once a month, a customer can place an order and then go pick up the order when it arrives by truck about a week later. Azure standard has truck, drop-off locations throughout the United States, so I picked one that is closest to me. Azure is not a club, so there are no membership fees. But there is shipping tacked on to each order. Sometimes a costumer can build up enough Azure Cash (Pointes earned from purchases that can be used toward other purchases) to negate the shipping costs. I have not made the right purchases for that to benefit me, but I still find the items I buy with shipping is much cheaper than trying to purchase through other means.

I typically buy items in bulk from Azure, but on occasion, I am unable, or just want to try something without the cost of a bulk purchase, so I don’t always make a bulk purchase.

The products from Azure come beautifully packaged in brown paper or bulk tubs and Azure sells most grocery items from produce, dairy, canned goods, dry goods, cleaners, supplements, animal food, and some household items like cleaning cloths or water filters.

So, what do I buy?

My staples are:

MCT Oil, which runs around $23 for a large 32oz bottle

Coconut sugar in fine or crystal form for about $17 for 5#

Flame Raisins for about $14 for 5#

Raw, wildflower honey: a steal at $33 for 12lbs

Canned Salmon cans for about $4-$5 per can (It is really nice salmon and just a little more than Sams)

Coconut Oil for $15 for a gallon (it is cold expeller pressed and good for high temp. cooking)

Organic Canned Peaches without sugar at $32 for 12

Pink Himalayan salt for $7 for 5#

Gluten Free Rolled Oats at $28 for a 25# bag (We don’t eat gluten free, but I do a lot of baking for friends and some of them are gluten free, so it is nice to know my oats are safe)

Frozen blueberries for $13 for 5#

Brown, Organic Jasmine rice from Thailand at $39 for 25# (I am not as happy with the quality of this rice as Lundberg, since there are often husks that need to be picked out before cooking, but for the price it is fair for what it is)

Organic Canned Green Beans for $32 for 12

Carpet Cleaner is about $11 for 64floz

Dish Soap runs about $7 for 32floz

Treats-not money savers-I have purchased would include beeswax candles, Dr. Bronner’s chocolate bars, A2 Cheese, and apple juice infused cranberries (yum!)

Items I have purchased and will not purchase again through Azure are:

Organic White Wheat Bread Flour-it is a good runner up to my favorite Prairie Gold -86, but it just isn’t quite as good, so as long as I can get Prairie Gold, I won’t get Azure’s flour.

Organic Einkorn Flour (unfine)-this was a disappointment since so many other costumers rave about it. It is hard to find a whole grain Einkorn flour at a reasonable price, but Azure’s is a bit too course for all kinds of baking. If one is just making bread, it is perfectly fine, but I do not like the husks in pie crusts or cookies. I will pay a little more for Jovial Whole Wheat Einkorn Flour from Vitacost.

Organic, Lite Coconut Milk is a fair price, but I have had lite coconut milk that it much more smooth than the Natural Value brand sold by Azure. I often use coconut milk as a cream substitute in my tea or coffee, and found in order to make Azure’s lite coconut milk smooth, it had to be blended because it didn’t melt into the coffee well.

Overall, I love my purchases from Azure Standard and am grateful for a place I can get healthy, bulk items at a reasonable price. I expect to be purchasing them for many years.

(I am not paid by Azure for this post, or advertising for them for compensation in any way)

Cook One Day for the Month Experiment

As a result of needful mental and physical therapy for one of my daughter’s the start of the year, my school days increased in time by a couple hours. As a result, January dinners consisted of late meals, rotisserie chickens, occasional food delivery and semi-toxic packaged foods. It was expensive, unhealthy, and untimely, and I knew something had to change in the progressing months ahead.

Years ago, my mother got into once-a-month-cooking. We bought all our groceries, except produce and milk, for the entire month and planned a rough menu for the month. I remember helping my mom cook and freeze all that food. The idea of having all the meals prepped for each day sounded lovely….just pop it in the oven and bake. So, I began planning for the first round in February.

Honestly, I am still undecided on whether once a month cooking is going to be a long term effort or not. I just cooked up our monthly meals for March and so as I am heading into our second month of prepped food, I jotted down some thoughts on the subject so far.

Health: Stepping away from quick, store-bought meals is certainly a step in the healthy direction. As I prep the monthly menu, I am also able to incorporate a better balance and plan meals that use whole, real foods and pair easily with any veggies I have on the side. I can also prep meals to freeze that do no contain sugar or unhealthy carbs. So, I do feel there is an aspect about freezer cooking that gets the healthy planning and prep done and ready to go.

Quality: A drawback of freezer cooking is the loss of fresh. I can still roast a side of broccoli to go with the lemon pepper chicken or toss a salad to go with the Alfredo, so it isn’t that we do not eat anything fresh. However all the main dishes which are protein based are frozen. And there is no getting around the fact that once anything has been frozen its quality, flavor and nutrients do go down. So, I am mindful that there is a loss in the quality of the food I cook from the freezer.

On the flip-side, I do a lot of meat marinating. It was so successful last month, I doubled the marinades. Meat that has been marinated for a day is incredible, and the marinade helps break down the toughness of the meat. I rarely think long enough ahead to thaw chicken, marinate it, and then cooking it up. But, marinating fresh chicken and freezing it gets all that work done and the meat is ready to grill, fry, or bake. We noticed the long term marination in the freezer turns out excellent meat once cooked up.

Time: An absolute time saver, but not without a transition in how the time is spent. After cooking all the food for a month, my weekly grocery trip is cut down to grabbing a few gallons of milk and some produce. So, my shop time is definably less than if I went out weekly.

What takes the most time is planning the menu, I look at store sales the first of the month, figure what recipes I will make, then add needed items to my grocery list. I print out a list of all the recipes and ingredients I have purchased for a quick daily reference. The grocery shopping trip is a good morning too as I hop from store to store to gather the ingredients needed.

The longest day is the cooking day. Last month it took me an entire day to make all the food, but I did include lasagna and sweet and sour chicken on that month’s list which is a huge money and time bomb. This month, I was able to get all the prep done by noon. So, the type of meal I choose seems to make a big difference in the prep and cook time.

Expense: Here is where I am loosing. Since I only purchase meats on sale, I would buy chicken breasts at .99lb instead of 1.39. When I cook one time for the month, I must use the sales that are going the week leading up to my cook day. After that, I must ignore all other sales for the month because I simply have no money left in our grocery budget. So, either I restrict my menu to whatever is on sale, or I buy items that are not on sale to make the recipes I want. In order to make this work for me, I have been doing a little of both. So, the toll on the grocery budget is showing.

Stress: I must say, the trying to figure out what to cook and then making dinner late in the evening after a long day is stressful. It doesn’t help that the children tend to hang around and groan of their hungry tummies in the process. However, menu planning, grocery shopping, and cooking for a month is also a bit of a stress. The first weekend I attempted this monthly cooking experiment was very stress riddled, but I had a lot of unknowns going into it. The second time around was a huge improvement. So, I think long run, having a day set aside to cook is far easier on a busy momma than cramming dinner making into the end of a long day.

I did notice however, that our family did not eat all of the meals I prepped for last month, so some of those meals I am rolling over into this month. So, in a few more months, I may not notice the injury to the grocery budget as I continue to roll over meals.

Hospitality: I love having ready meals in the freezer! It makes me feel free to invite folks over without wondering what to make for them. We have plenty of options ready to go. I also can take a meal over to anyone in need at any time. It is set and ready for me to bake for them or for them to pop in their own oven. Having meals in the freezer is a huge asset to any home-maker, much more if there is a whole month of food in in the freezer.

Will I continue monthly cooking? For a while, yes. I am curious how our grocery budget will accommodate this new method of cooking, so if I find it unaffordable, I may alter my menu planning. But for now, it is a profitable experiment.

Five Favorite Kitchen Appliances

Someone recently asked me what my favorite kitchen appliance was and for some reason, I drew a blank. I have a lot of favorites, but my kitchen is small, so I keep my appliances to the essential, multitasking ones. Which one do I like the best? hmmm…

I narrowed my choice down to five. I understand that different appliances would be chosen by different folks, but these are certainly ones that I use heavily, if not daily.

1.Top of my list: An emulsifying blender. I use this daily. I usually make a foamy Oolong and Macha tea blend for breakfast. If I choose an occasional cup of coffee instead, I can easily turn a cup into bulletproof coffee with the stick blender. This little machine also makes mayonnaise, lemon butter, hollandaise easily. It is great to cream a pot of soup on the stovetop too. If gravy gets lumps…walla…the blender will smooth it out! Dishwasher safe and easy to clean compared to the stand up blender and food processor. Yes-love it.

2. I choose my Keurig coffee maker second because it is an item I use several times a day. It can heat a cup of water in less than a minute for my morning tea, and makes a cup of coffee just as quick. If I am having a larger group over, I do use my teapot on the stove for water, but for small gatherings is is nice to have an easy way for guest to have tea of coffee. No one feels they are putting me to any trouble when I just push a button. I like that the Keurig is simple enough for my three year-old to make me a cup of coffee too!

3. My soda stream is another favorite kitchen appliance. My husband bought it for me one year with our income tax return. I am a huge fan of carbonation and find just a jug of carbonated H2O is far easier to enjoy than plain water. Just writing about it, makes me need to go get a tall glass of bubbly water! Be right back…. 

 a minute later and hydrated…. Yes, love the soda stream. I go through a canister a month which is about $15 a can once my empty can is returned. I think that is a lot cheaper and environmentally friendly than buying a steady stream of bottles and cans of pre-flavored and carbonated water. I tons make healthy drinks for myself and the children with this machine I mix natural extracts, stevia, and even natural food colorings to make incredible healthy drinks. My favorite is to make sparkling lemon/lime with fresh squeezed lemons and limes and stevia. Yes, I am a Soda Stream enthusiast. 

4.  I will go with my food processor for fourth. I lived without one of these until rather recently when my husband gave me one for Christmas a few years back. I now wonder why I didn’t have one much earlier than then.

Since I am careful with our grocery budget, that means everything I buy comes unprepared…blocks of cheese…whole veggies…unwashed…un-chopped…unprepped food is what I bring home from the grocery store. I can shred all my cheese in five minutes with the cheese shredder on this gadget. I can make zucchini noodles and freeze them. I can slice carrots, cucumber, and dice onions in seconds. For my sauerkraut marathon, a food processor is indispensable as I shred head after head of cabbage. I also use the food processor to make my own hand lotions and creams. Recently I have made batch after batch of salsa! Dump all the ingredients in and run and done!

5. This Kitchen Aid stand mixer was my Christmas gift from my husband our first year of marriage. At the time, I had absolutely no idea what I was getting. Once I learned to make my own whole wheat bread…well…let’s just say, I don’t mix anything by hand and I don’t knead bread by hand. Judge me if you will, but this machine does an incredible job with all those things. In fact, I am convinced that it is key in making the best chocolate chip cookies. And the time is saves me kneading bread….I just wouldn’t have time to make bread without it. I calculated that from start to finish of mixing and kneading three loaves…twelve minutes with my Kitchen Aid doing all the work. 

My five favorite appliances! I was amused to see how many my husband had given me. I don’t be-grudge getting appliances as gifts ever, considering the amount of time they have given me to be with my family and do other things. And well, I am a home-making nerd tools for the kitchen home are very much my niche.

The Ministry of Scents of the Home

I have always been rather sensitive about smells. When I was pregnant, those sensitivities would escalate to the point I wanted to crawl out of my skin to even take out the trash. Once when I was pregnant, we had dead possum under our porch. The horrible smell leached into our basement and then into the entire house. I found it unbearable to the point I packed up the children and left the house for the day. When my sweet husband came home and saw my distress, he removed the porch floorboards and shoveled out the rotting possum. Then he poured bleach over the entire area. Without the consuming horrid smell, my heart was again at peace.

Smell has a greater affect on our hearts than we realize. Potent, stifling smells can be very stressful and make us want to run as far away as we can. Warm, welcoming smells of stewing applesauce and fresh bread, vanilla and spices, or even a clean, crisp lemon scent can set a tone that makes our hearts be at peace and want to stay a while.

Within the home, creating inviting scents and working to keep unpleasant odors under control is therefore essential in preparing a platform for ministry to happen within our walls. The sense of smell, is therefore a wonderful tool I can use in my pursuit of creating a home environment the welcomes spiritual growth and joy in God.

Pay attention to the smells of the home. So often we become accustomed to smells within our walls, that other people might find foreign or uncomfortable. As much as I enjoy fish, I am careful to chose the nights I will cook it. If I am expecting company after dinner, fish will not be on the menu. Although it does not have an odor I find appalling, for many people, the smell of fish is extremely potent and unpleasant.

Animals that live in the home can also make a home smell. It is important to keep indoor dwelling creatures clean and the places they hang out washed and freshened regularly. We do not have an indoor cat, but have kept ours indoors during certain stages of his life so I know that if there is a cat in the house, the kitty littler should be in a room that is tucked away from the rest of the living space…a laundry room, sun-room, or closet where a door can be shut on the ever present odor.

There various are smells that are built into the walls of our home and therefore a constant that we must work to mask or continually re-eliminate. We lived in an old farmhouse for a few years and it always had a very musty smell. In the room above the wet basement, was a den with wood paneling on every wall. I found rubbing that wood paneling down with a mixture of cinnamon oil and coconut oil made the house smell fabulous for weeks.

Carpets and walls may hold in smell from ourselves or even previous dwellers. while fresh paint often takes care of the walls, carpets can be far more difficult to deodorize. Despite the wide market of products on the market, the smell will keep coming back. I recently invested in a carpet cleaner for our current home and it has made a big difference in freshening up the carpets on occasion. Baking soda sprinkled on the carpet and left overnight can be helpful. But powdered products are awfully hard on the vacuum cleaner, so they shouldn’t be used except in extreme cases. For me, just keeping a regular carpet cleaning is the best move. I have sprinkled peppermint or lavender oil on the car carpets and car-seats from time to time. That doesn’t eliminate bad orders, but can cover them up in a natural and pleasant way.

If at all possible use natural scents in the home. This is an area that is still in progress for me. I love to burn candles, but finding candles that are safe to breath hasn’t always been a priority because of the cost and accessibility. But after having a guest with sensitivities to a candle I burned, I will at least do my best to burn a naturally scented candle when we have visitors.

I already clean with natural products as I discussed in the post, Household Cleaning on the Cheap, Practical, and Natural. Cleaning products are certainly a vital area we homemakers need to watch. Many products we use daily and  weekly, are not only toxic to breathe, but can cause severe allergic reactions to some people. I want a home that has air as safe to breathe as I can am able to create.

Chemical scents are often loaded into laundry as well. Guests with allergies would be unable to stay with us if I wasn’t careful about the products I use in laundry. My husband is also one of those who is sensitive to laundry softeners. So, if I must include softener in my laundry, I am careful to get one that is natural and hypoallergenic…yes…and unscented. But laundry doesn’t have to be boring. A few drops of lavender oil on a rag can brighten up the smell of hot clean clothes tossing in the dryer. I also LOVE a laundry line. Read about that more in my Laundry on the Line post. Nothing has a more amazing scent than line dried sheets and clothing!

I am very opinionated on the subject of plug-ins and sprays that are made to make a room smell good. They can be incredibly overpowering and in fact even though they might not stink like a dead possum, they make many folks…like me…gag. I find the artificial smells overpowering and believe many others do as well. Instead a diffuser with a favorite blend of essential oils, a few spices in a pot of simmering water (or mini crock pot), a naturally scented vanilla candle, fresh flowers, potted plants, or even a batch of freshly baked bread can make a home smell incredible without concern of causing anyone discomfort.

Cleanliness is vital to maintaining a home without bad odors. One of the most effective ways to keep a home smelling pleasant is simply to keep it clean. Some of the most notorious bad smells in the home are poopy diapers, kitty litter, and un-emptied trash cans.

My children collect trash throughout every room in the house on a daily basis. I empty those baskets in the kitchen trash, and take it out to the trash bins outside. Baby diapers get wrapped tightly in a special bag to lock in the smells, or they get put in a diaper bin. Kitty litter should be changed daily to prevent it from any odor. I already discussed carpets, but carpets and wood can absorb smells.

Wood is like skin, when it is warm and humid it opens up and releases all those lovely or less lovely smells. Wood floors and paneling can be cleaned with a gentle soap and water (I favor Murphy’s oil). Then the wood can be nourished with a simple blend of a cheap oil like sunflower oil and a few drops of an essential oil. I like to rub oil into the wood just after it has been cleaned with warm water.

Dust has a smell. Have you ever turned on a heater the first brisk day of fall and smelled the dust getting hot? Well, imagine a layer of dust on blinds, furniture, or framework. Being faithful at wiping off the dust can be very helpful in keeping a room smelling fresh.

Appliances can hold odors as well…dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, microwaves, vacuum cleaners, and washing machines need to be cleaned as well. Appliances should all work without producing any bad odors. For tips on how I clean, check out how I use baking soda and vinegar in my home in My Household Friend: Baking Soda and The Role of White Vinegar in My Home. And just a thought…if you have a vacuum cleaner that has a dusty smell even after it has been emptied, it is time to ditch it and get a new vacuum. A vacuum cleaner should function without any smell.

Fresh air is a wonderful way to keep a home smelling good. Open the windows in the spring and fall can really help air out the house and keep fresh air rotating. The smell of fresh air naturally soothes my mind and a the smells of flowers, soil, and trees give my heart thoughts of God’s goodness.

Prepare for bad smells. The bathroom is a place where bad smells occur. It is a great idea to keep a plan on hand to mask unpleasantries to noses. A bathroom spray or a match are very effective and should be kept available for guests as well as ourselves to use as needed. When we have guests, keeping a candle burning in the bathroom is an easy way to remove the potential of embarrassing smells. If possible one should also make sure there is a way for air to circulate within a bathroom by keeping a vent or window open a crack at all times.

Bad odors can also occur in the kitchen. Even kept clean, a fridge can breed odor. A box of baking soda is a helpful odor absorbing product to keep in freezers and refrigerators. I simply punch a few holes in the top of my baking soda box and put the whole box in the back of the refrigerator and freezer. The kitchen trash should be emptied daily. Our trash is emptied more like 2-3 times a day. Burnt foods should be disposed of outdoors as quickly as possible. If you are planning to do a project inside the house that will involve paints or chemicals, plan those projects on warmer days if possible so windows can be opened for ventilation.

The sense of smell enhances all of our other senses. Because of smell, food has taste, flowers have freshness, and a walk in the woods is so refreshing. Smell is like salt to our sense of sight, hearing, touch, and taste…perhaps it could be lived without, but life is far better with a sense of smell! As a homemaker, I certainly try to put smell to good use to enhance the overall flavor of my home into a place that nurtures our souls and opens pathways for our heart to rejoice in our Creator.

Hoarding Has Never Been Preparing

We had enough Rice Krispies in the box for one more bowl of cereal. It is a special treat. Every child around the table was eyeing that box as it sat on our table for breakfast this morning. They began fighting over who should have the last bowl. They all wanted it, and sharing wasn’t an option. The squabbling continued until I stopped them…

“Girls! what you are doing right now is what is causing so much trouble in our world today!” They looked at me with questioning eyes. “Yes! I said. Grown-up people want certain things for themselves. They don’t want to go without. They are afraid there isn’t enough to share. Some of them are even fighting over those things…just like you.”

My mind raced back to the sweet old lady I encountered in the condiments aisle last week. She was nearly in tears having been to several stores, searching for a very specific bottle of mayonnaise. She didn’t want twenty, just one, that one brand she was particularly fond of eating… And the shelf was empty.

It should not be. We Christians should not have any part to do with that crisis. Who knows what that dear lady had been exposed to as she searched store to store for her necessities.

As Christians, we should adapt our living to make life easier for others; not play a part in complicating other’s lives. We can make it by with whatever is left of the shelves, we can run from store to store to find milk, we can come up with creative ideas if we run out of toilet paper. Don’t make the scared single, working mom do that, certainly not the ninety-year-old widow who can barely shuffle in the door, or even the other multitudes of terrified souls out there who do not have the Rock of Christ to anchor their hearts in during this time. We have it all, we should not even entertain the thought of buying more than we need right now.

I pointed to the other options on the table. They were less favored by the children, Raisin Bran, Cheerios, Shredded Wheat…There was plenty of cereal, no child would be hungry. My children’s eyes were wide as they reflected on our recent grocery trip and the empty shelves they saw. I waited for the concept to sink in and prayed they would choose wisely. One by one, they each picked another option. I poured out the cereals, and put the untouched box of Rice-Krispies back in the cupboard. There is still enough left for one more bowl…

My children had more sense in their heads than most of grown-ups today. I choose not stockpile anything. In fact I avoided the grocery stores completely for two weeks. My husband did brave one to pick me up a couple of gallons of milk for our tot, but other than that, I simply did not see the need to go out in that chaos. Honestly, we have enough on hand. It might not be first choice, but we will not be going hungry.

For those of us who have homemaking as a career, stocking up right now is particularly selfish. We work at home, we know how much our family needs in a weeks time. Some families are struggling so much in making wise purchase decisions because that are unfamiliar with what their family will need in for two weeks. There are busy families out there who do not even know how to plan meals, cook and the thought of what to eat on a daily basis is frustrating. When I do that sort of thing every day, why should I take food away from such scared people?

I am not saying my cupboards are bare. I keep enough on hand on a regular basis due to my shopping methods. We might be eating up the turkeys I picked up around Thanksgiving for .30 cents a pound for the next couple months, but we will not starve. Turkey meatloaf, turkey soup, turkey casserole, turkey pot pie…any other ideas? I have a food processor and honestly, pulverizing roasted turkey makes the most excellent turkey meatloaf… If we run out of toilet paper, a spray bottle of water in each bathroom could do the cleaning work , with a bit of air drying…I have thought through a few “plan B’s” and am at peace.

well, since I did not go to the grocery store for two weeks in hopes the senselessness would have died down by the time I needed to get supplies. This past Friday, I ventured to a grocery store for the first time since the stockpiling crisis began. I prayed and prayed even the night before shopping, and again with the children before we went out that morning. I prayed that the Lord would provide our family with our needs for the upcoming week. I was prepared to make do with whatever I found at the store. We would figure something out. Everything I needed was on the shelves, including toilet paper! The Lord simply provided for our family’s most basic weekly needs in less than one hour of shopping.

Proverbs 32: 20 and 21 has come to my mind so often through this season of fearful greed.

She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.”

Virtue begins in the heart, it has nothing to do with the size of a pantry, but the generous spirit a God centered homemaker has.

I can be generous and not fearful for a season of cold and difficulty of finding necessities. I prepare daily food for my family, and have been preparing meals for those in church and neighborhood who may need them over the next couple months. Hopefully they like turkey! And as for being prepared, I am not really talking about about keeping a freezer full of food, but having an innovative mindset! I am not afraid, because we will think of something amazing.

In 1999, many families stocked up seeds, and food in case the world crumbled when the computers rolled over to 2000. I struggled with that concept twenty years ago. What would happen if our neighbors had not stored provisions? Would we give them our supply, or defend our stuff? Would we be prideful that we had prepared and others had not? Did our security rest in a freezer full of wheat berries and a handful of seeds? Yet, wasn’t it wise to be prepared? As I grow older, I have settled in my mind, that being prepared has far more to do with our mindset in life than our material state of affairs. It is an ability to cope, ingenuity, and joy during the difficult seasons of life. That is wlorth far more than a dozen cans of corn.

As a mother, am I preparing my children to be okay with having the same meal daily for weeks on end? I do not want my children to hoard food, toys, or even clothing, but children who are so filled with compassion, that they seek ways to give, even their favorites to others. I have had to search my own heart during this season? Am I grateful for everything I eat, or am I too choosy? Am I prepared to donate my last roll of toilet paper to my neighbor who has none, and go without for my whole family? Is my job as a home-maker to protect my family’s provisions, or to share them with others? I doubt when I come to the judgement seat that God will congratulate me for filling my pantry for my family in a troubled time. That hardly seems valuable in the light of eternity.

I realize, there is wisdom in being prepared and ready for whatever lies ahead, but that doesn’t begin when there is a pandemic. That is a way of life. I am, with an open hand, always purchasing bulk deals. That is why I have three turkeys in my freezer, 30# of whole wheat flour, and twenty jars of peanut butter. It is not because a pandemic happened, but because they are items we can use at a very good price. It caused no one to suffer by my purchasing them months ago. That is very different than running to the store, spending money that is not in my budget to fill up a barn I do not even have.

The Parable Jesus told of the Rich Fool has often come to mind as I read stories of people filling their freezers and pantries and going out to buy more….

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:13-21

Hoarding is something godless people do. We Christian’s do not be needing to buy more than we need. We should be the ones going out to buy necessities for our neighbors, giving our last roll of toilet paper to the family next door, and using what God has already given us to bless others in their times of need. Right now, I am working on cooking up some of those turkeys and that flour and filling my freezer with home-made bread soups and casseroles. I am cooking a bit extra on a daily basis. I am not making extra food with my family in mind, but for those we know who may fall ill in the near future or for neighbors who might have difficulty finding food or be at high risk and fearful to go out. My job is not to provide for my family, that is God’s job. And I know He already has provided. I have already seen Him do it…over and over. My job is to be a tool He can use to provide for others.

Hoarding supplies and food is for the faithless and fearful, it is not for us who know Christ.

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. hey are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. I Timothy 6:17-19

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.‘ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:13-17

Cold Cream

I use this cold cream mostly as a facial cleanser, but my mother prefers it as her night cream. Either way, our faces are super soft in the morning as the nutritive oils soak into our earthly pores. I make a batch every three months or so. I make more around the holidays so I can gift it.

How to Make Cold Cream

1) Gather ingredients


  • Coconut oil:

Why use Coconut Oil? Coconut oil is laden with antioxidants, antimicrobials, and antifungals. It also contains vitamin E. So it is not only nourishing for the skin, but healing and protective from environmental residues.
Note: Coconut oil does have molecules that are too large to be absorbed into the skin easily, so mixing it with other oils and using warm water to wash it off is important.
What I use: I use refined coconut oil for cooking and baking; so it is usually on hand in my home. I purchase Golden Barrel brand in bulk. I pay about $2.50 per 16 oz. jar because I buy it by the case. An Amish grocery or food co-op is a great source to buy bulk foods.

  • Grapeseed oil:

Why use Grapeseed Oil? Grapeseed oil is made of fine molecules that absorb into the skin well. Grapeseed oil also has Omega 6 and vitamin E. So, like coconut oil, it nourishes the skin and helps prevent damage and heal damaged skin.
What I use: I don’t typically cook with grapeseed oil. It is more expensive than other healthy oils. I will use it in a pinch for cooking on occasion. But in general I purchase and use it to make lotions. I buy the Carlini brand from Aldi. It costs about $4 for 25 fl. oz..

  • Lanolin:

Why use Lanolin? Lanolin is a fatty oil produced by sheep. It is harvested from their sheered wool. Lanolin has been used to moisturize and protect human skin for hundreds of years. Lanolin helps skin to stay moist for a long period of time by creating a natural protective barrier between the skin and the environment. A lot of chemotherapy patients find lanolin helpful in treating their burns from radiation. Like many mothers, I have used it while nursing babies for the first couple weeks. It helps in healing and binding moisture in the skin keeping skin soft and young.
Note: Some people have found lanolin is irritating to their skin and are allergic to this product. It is also an oil from sheep, so if someone is desiring vegan beauty, this ingredient will not work. It can be skipped if desired.
What I use: Since some sheep are sprayed with pesticides to keep their wool bug free. Lanolin can be a pesticide riddled product. I buy from sellers on Etsy who claim to have organic or pesticide free lanolin. I know there is no certification to know for certainty, but that is the best I have found to date. I recently bought a 8oz bottle on Etsy for about $14 including shipping. Since I only use 1 teaspoon per recipe, this bottle will last for years. I keep it in the freezer between uses to preserve it.

  • Beeswax:

Why use Beeswax? It holds everything together! Without beeswax, once my oils and water bases are mixed, they would separate when they settle. The beeswax acts like glue and binds oil and water ingredients together so the cream stays creamy. Other waxes will work, but beeswax is cheap and natural, so that is my choice. Beeswax also contains some of the same benefits of honey. It helps heal skin through. It also contains vitamin A and antibacterial properties.
What I use: I bought a 2 pound cone of beeswax at a farmer’s market four years ago. It cost $7 at the time and I still have about a year’s worth left. I do freeze it between uses to preserve it. If a farmer’s market is not convenient, I would probably buy it on Etsy.

  • Rosewater

Why use Rosewater? Rosewater is nothing new for skin care. It has been used since ancient times as a skin freshener and healer. It helps healing and balancing the skin’s pH to reduce acne. It smells amazing too. It contains antioxidants. So like all of the other ingredients in this cold cream, rosewater will help the skin fight inner and outer oxidation from stress, UV, and harmful microbes. So rosewater is an important ingredient to helps skin stay youthful and healthy. Rosewater also helps inflamed skin calm down. So skin that is sensitive or rashed with eczema will benefit from regularly using rosewater. Rosewater helps slow down extrinsic skin aging by preventing the degradation of the skins collagen and elasticity due to the natural tannins, vitamin C and pectins roses contain.
What I use: I generally use Heritage Store rosewater, but recently purchased a food grade rosewater on Amazon from Alive Herbs. It cost $15 for 17 fluid oz. compared to the $6.25 per 8 fl.oz. from Herbal Store from Thrive Market. I am happy with either.

  • Aloe Vera Juice

Why use Aloe Vera? Anyone who has slathered on aloe vera gel after a sunburn, knows that it has soothing, anti inflammatory and healing properties. Aloe is notorious for helping the skin heal, not only from sunburns, but scars, acne, and eczema conditions. Aloe, like lanolin, blocks in moisture and provides protection to the skin from polluting elements. Aloe contains antioxidants and vitamin C and A. I use it on sunbuns, burns, as an occasional face mask on its own, and even drink it.
What I use: I buy the food grade Aloe Vera juice from the cheapest source I can find. A local health food store is a great spot, but it can be purchased on Amazon. I currently have a gallon of Lilly of the Desert in my cupboard. I purchased it from a local health food store for about $20. It will last me a couple years. I recently discovered that Walmart sells 2 quarts of Fruit of the Earth Aloe juice online for less than $8.

  • Evening Primrose

Why I use Primrose: I add primrose to my cold cream to boost it’s anti-aging properties. Like rosewater, primrose fights the breakdown of elasticity and cartilage of the skin. It also contains Omega 6 acids which help nourish aging skin and prevent flaking. It can also be taken as a supplement. I see it as an anti-aging boost in my cold cream. Primerose helps my skin to remain healthy as the years take their toll.
What I use: I usually buy it in supplement form from CVS or Walmart. I just get the Spring Valley or Nature’s Bounty. It runs around $6 for a bottle of 75 capsules. Currently I have a bottle of Jarrow Evening Primrose from Thrive Market. I puncture and squeeze about 3-4 in each batch of cold cream.

Those are the basic ingredients I use in cold cream. Essential oils can be added if desired. Tea Tree oil helps dry out and prevent acne, so it could be added to cream for those with acne troubles. Frankincense oil also has benefits in preventing skin aging, so I might add a few drops of that sometime.

Truly, the possibilities are versatile and fun to tinker. I would be cautious to read pros and cons about every product I use. I like to use old, time-proven ingredients in my products and am cautious about the long term side effects of various ingredients. I also like to use products that are food grade and safe to eat if possible.

2) Measure

3/4 cup grapeseed oil
1/3 cup coconut oil

1 teaspoon lanolin
1 tablespoon grated beeswax: press it tight in the spoon20190627_071922

3-4 capsules primrose oil
2/3 cup rosewater

1/3 cup aloe vera juice

3) Put it Together: step by step

1. Measure grapeseed oil, coconut oil, lanolin, primrose oil, and beeswax and put in glass measuring cup.

2. Melt oils and beeswax together. I use a glass measuring cup in my microwave for a couple minutes. A saucepan on a stovetop at low heat will also work. The oil only needs to be warm enough to melt the beeswax completely.


3. Give it a stir and set it aside to cool. (This can be done quickly in the fridge or freezer, or slowly on the counter.

4. Once the mixture is cooled sufficiently, it will be thick and foggy.


5. Measure the rosewater and aloe vera juice together and pour into a blender.

6. Turn the blender on high speed and SLOWLY very SLOWLY add the oil mixture. Mayonnaise is made this same method. If the oil is added too quickly it will not adhere to the water mixture and the batch will be ruined.

7. Empty the entire oil mixture into the blender bit by bit.


The mixture should look white and fluffy like hand cream.


That is is!

8. Pour the cold cream into jars and pop in the fridge.

9. Most of the cream should be stored in the fridge because there are no preservatives and the oils will go rancid over time. I usually take about 4-6 ounces out at a time for use. It lasts me a good month or more.

4) How to Use Cold Cream

I use Cold Cream as my evening facial wash. I rub it all over my face, eyes, and neck. Then, I get a washcloth as hot as I can stand. I lay the cloth on my face and let it set there about a minute. Then I wipe my face clean. That is all I do at night. The cold cream removes make-up and moisturizes my skin in one step. It works on my skin all night long. Every morning I wake up, my skin feels AMAZING.

My mother uses cold cream as her nighttime cream. She washes her face with a face-wash and then applies a thin layer of the cream all over her face and neck before bed. Unlike me, she leaves the cold cream on and does not wash it off.

The cream can be applied all over the body as well for extra moisture. It can leave a greasy feel at first because the natural oils do not penetrate pores quickly. Honestly, I find it works best for me if I moisturize BEFORE taking a shower instead of after. The hot water helps my pores expand and soak in the natural nutrients better than on my cold tight pores. It is a flexible cream and can be used multiple ways to meet each person’s taste and needs.


Depending on the temperature the cream is stored it will be thick or runny. That does not affect it’s effectiveness. I often like a soap dispenser to store mine outside the fridge.

Check out what other home-made product I use on my skin in the article:

Homemade Skincare: Natural, Simple, and Completly Affordable

Homemade Skincare: Natural, Simple, and Completly Affordable

The day my mother introduced me to make-up, she invited a professional beauty consultant into our home to give me a facial. It was a special event. We had tea and cookies. We laughed and had fun. My mother purchased a set of skincare and quality make-up for me. She continued to provide me with skincare products until I was on my own and purchased skincare myself.

My mother was probably more brilliant than she realized. Beginning my skin-care routine at a young age was valuable guidance.

As my babies were born, I began searching for inexpensive and natural methods of skincare. I tried various drugstore brands and online companies. But good skincare, whether it is natural or not, is not cheap. So, I found myself at a loss.

One evening, my mentoring friend came over for a visit. I will never forget the moment she pulled out her big binder full of various recipes. I went from sitting on the sofa across from her, to sitting next to her with that notebook in my lap. She had not only made and used the recipes in her book, but passed on to me her rich of knowledge of each of the ingredients she used in the recipes.

I still use her recipes for cold cream, healing salve, and bee balm, and have also springboarded from those basic recipies and built a skincare routine that I love.

I am absolutely amazed how my skin looks and feels now that I make my own skincare. I honestly have never have had such amazing results from bottled products. I also like knowing each of the ingredients that I am putting on my skin are wholesome. And of course, making skincare at home comes with a very reasonable price tag.

I have passed the home-made lotions onto family and friends and they rave about them. I make my own mother a quart of cold-cream every year. It is what she uses on her skin now too.

The only skincare product I purchase is a SPF CC cream. I do not use foundation, but love a tinted SPF protection. I currently am happy with a product called Supergoop. I use it daily for SPF coverage and tinted moisture. I know people do make their own sun-screens and foundaitions. But have decided I am not going to tamper with that. It is a little too much chemistry for me to feel at peace doing from my home. So I will leave the sunscreen making to lab profesionals.

I have immensely enjoyed the skincare products I make from my kitchen and love knowing that the ingredients in each bottle are so safe I could spread it on toast and eat!

I am going to post this week specifically how to make and use each skincare product. The following list is a quick snapshot of the products, ingredients, and uses.

Cold Cream

Ingredients: Grapeseed oil, coconut oil, rosewater, Aloe Vera, lanolin, beeswax, primrose oil

Uses: Oil Face wash – gently rub on face, get as washcloth as hot as you can stand, place hot washcloth over face for about 30 seconds, then wash face-this one step will remove make-up, cleanse, and moisturize. Face and body lotion-best after a hot bath or shower to help moisture absorb into skin.

Vinegar Rose Toner

Ingredients: Rosewater, apple-cider vinegar, Vitamin C Crystals

Use: antioxidant facial toner, lightens sun-spots and tightens pores

Honey Sugar Scrub

Ingredients: Coconut oil, grapeseed or almond oil, raw creamed honey, granulated white sugar, vanilla essential oil

Uses: Face scrub-gently rub on face and wash off with a hot washcloth, Face mask-gently rub on skin and wash off after 10 minutes (this can be done in the bath or shower), Body scrub in the shower

Bee Balm

Ingredients: Grapeseed Oil, Coconut Oil, Beeswax, Cocoa butter, Shea butter, vanilla essential oil

Uses: Lip balm, chapped skin balm, diaper rash cream, under eye balm before bed, or foot balm (after bath or shower, or before bed, rub over feet, put on socks and let the balm soften dry feet)

My Modern Shopping Techniques


My mother created a grocery spreadsheet on her computer. She spent time every other week going through her list on the computer and marking down everything we needed to buy. She wrote items in short hand to save space and time. She did not coupon or shop sales. She loves getting everything in one store and getting it done efficiently. My mother is a goal oriented shopper.

Then I come along, and I am a little of both mother and grandmother. My shopping methods have changed throughout the years. I am certain most woman find that to be the case. When it was just me and my husband, we often got groceries together and there was not the concern for budget and time or even nutrition that children bring into the picture. Now that I have four children, time, budget, and nutrition have become the basis of my meal planning, grocery lists, and shopping trips. I also consider the stress factor. Taking four children in and out of a car, missing nap times, or being gone during lunch, all play a role. So I try to keep life simple, and as stress free as possible. I keep our errands down to one or two stops, and no more. I often plan to buy or bring a snack for the children to eat in the car as we journey. (Note: I plan the treats, we don’t get to the store and beg for this and that. We either already have something in the car, or I told them they could pick out a pretzel at Lidl or get a box of goldfish crackers at Aldi). I also combine shopping trips on days we are already doing something like a doctor’s appointment. That saves us the hassle of going out more than once a week. We don’t get fast-food lunches while out. That is costly. If I know we are not going to make it home by lunch, I pack them something. They love it, and so do I.

In our era of technology, shopping itself is undergoing a transition from my mother and grandmother’s generations. Online shopping and smartphones both play a huge role in my shopping lists and purchases. I find I can easily check out deals from various stores with the store apps. I also can see if an online order would be advantageous.

In our current location, I have found Aldi generally has the best quality for the best prices ON FOOD. I also like the fact that the store is small, and I can get through it quickly with my cart loaded with children. We also have Lidl and Walmart where I seek out deals. Target and CVS also come into play and I typically get PAPER GOOD, DIAPERS, and WASHING SUPPLIES from those two stores.

How I make a Grocery List


I use the Walmart grocery pick-up app. Many Walmart stores offer free pick-up. By using the grocery app, I can create a list and use it to quickly compare prices at other stores.


A day or two before we get groceries, I browse ads from local grocery stores, in particular, Aldi and Lidl. Aldi and Lidl have comparable prices, but Aldi is far superior in quality. Lidl however does come up with some surprisingly good produce and meat deals. So I watch them both. I will plan my shopping trip by going to the store that has the best deals for the weekend. On a rare occasion that may include a couple of stores, usually one to get the majority of groceries and another to run in and stock up on a Coupons? particular deal.

Using my Walmart list, I shop through Aldi. Since the Walmart app lists a price for each item, I can see my shopping total and easily compare between Walmart and any other store. For instance, I can see that a gallon of whole milk is $3.29 at Walmart, while I am at Aldi, they are selling a gallon of milk for $2.98. So, I pick up the milk at Aldi for $2.98, and delete it from my Walmart list. Sometimes an item is cheaper at Walmart than Aldi. For instance, a pound of butter is about $2.50 at Aldi, however, if I purchase the two pack at Walmart the butter is only $1.99 a pound. So I leave that on my list and will get it at Walmart. Whatever is left at the end of my trip to Aldi, I get at Walmart. I will either send my order to our Wal-Mart pick-up store and go pick it up at a later date, or run by a store and get those items that day. It depends on the day.

Coupons? I don’t clip coupons anymore. I used to be an avid coupon shopper, but coupons seem to continually decrease in value. I also kept finding that I would get the paper only to clip out one coupon. I simply don’t most items promoted on coupons. I don’t purchase many cleaning products, I don’t buy a lot of prepared food, and name brands are still more costly than generic even with a coupon added. Besides, Aldi doesn’t accept coupons, and I like the simplicity of that. I do use coupon on apps like Target and Lidl. This past week Lidl had a coupon for a pound of pure maple syrup at 50% off. Target has a cartwheel feature on their store app, they also have coupons that can be printed. CVS and Walgreens also have apps with coupons. CVS allows me to send coupons to my store card.

My shopping rules:

  1. Don’t by name brand items-generally I have found various store brands to be equal in quality and much more reasonable in price than a name brand. The white kitchen trash bags in Target’s Up and Up brand are superior in quality to the similar versions in Glad or Hefty. Most of the food we eat is created from a staple product in my kitchen. It is economical and healthy.
  2. Stick to Staples. Like my mini wardrobe, staple items in the kitchen are the building blocks for any meal. I can create a lot more variety with a box of macaroni or a package of jasmine rice than I can with a box of mac’n cheese and seasoned rice. I can do anything with a whole chicken, Asian, Mexican, Roasting, Soup, Strogenoff, Thai, African, Sweet and Sour…but a pre-seasoned or rotisserie chicken is what is it…nothing more.
  3. If something is added to the list, take something off the list. I have a budget for the month for groceries. I divide that amount up per week, and stick to it. Generally, my goal is to even purchase items below my weekly allotment, because I know there will always be an item I run out of before expected to purchase it. Like milk, tissues, diapers, or dish soap. In an effort to keep myself under the grocery bill allotment for the week, I do not buy items that are not on my list. This works great if my children ask me if they can pick up a box of cereal or something else that catches their eye. I just tell them “it is not on the list.” For some reason, that works. If it is not on the list, we don’t buy it. I do give myself room for a few exceptions though. If there is an item I choose to purchase that is not on my list, I substitute it for an item on my list. For instance, if I get to the store and find the peaches are at an amazing price and they look fabulous, I will pick up peaches, and remove the apples from my list. It doesn’t always work out that the items are of equal value, but I do my best to keep my budget balance, by allowing little room for a drastic price change.
  4. Remove any non-essentials from the list before going shopping. I often create a list of all the items we need on my Wal-Mart list. Then as I shop, I ask myself if it is something we can live without for another week, or it is something we need now? It is amazing how many items are either luxury items and can wait…especially if it is the end of the month when my grocery well is about dry. I will even pass up sales of items I do not truly need. It is cheaper not to buy at all than to buy an item on sale.
  5. Don’t habitually make-unplanned shopping trips. Those spur of the moment trips to the store, even to grab one needed item. They not only take valuable time, but always cost more than a planned trip. For instance, if I need a gallon of milk, and I run into a store, I am often going to choose a store that is an easy in and out, and will pay more for that gallon of milk than is reasonable. I inevitably will be lured into purchasing a couple other items on my way through the store. Even if those extra items are on sale, that trip still cost me more than it should have. So, planning is essential to avoid spur of the moment excursions to the store. I need to know how much milk we go through in a week so I can get it at once and not have to run out before my scheduled shopping trip to get more. Menu planning, grocery planning, and a little time spent in knowing where the best prices can be found are essential to a good grocery trip. Yesterday was Wednesday, I usually get groceries toward the end of each week, but we had simply run out of milk. I either purchased too little or we used more than expected, so I needed to get more milk. Instead of just running out to get milk, I planned my entire shopping trip early. We got everything we would need for the next week and a half.
  6. Know prices. I pay attention to prices. I know the prices of staples our family uses. When we moved from the mid-west to the east, I immediately knew my groceries would cost more here, because the milk at Aldi cost more in The South than in the Mid-West. It is hard to know a good deal on apples if I don’t even know the regular price per pound. So, I have a mental idea of prices and can spot a good deal when I see one, not just because a grocery store tells me it is a good deal either. What might be a good deal at one store, might be the regular price at another store.
  7. Easy on the meat. Meat and cheese are generally some of the most expensive grocery items. I generally purchase meat that is under a dollar a pound. To do that, I wait for sales, and usually only buy certain cuts or uncut meat like whole birds. Whole Chickens are .89 a pound at our Aldi. And who says turkey has to wait until Thanksgiving? A turkey can be priced below a dollar a pound and be a great poultry buy. Often there are sales on chicken breasts, legs, and thighs and when they dip below a dollar a pound, I stock up. I do splurge on beef and buy organic ground beef from Aldi (I have my reasons). I try to make the ground beef last a month or more and use ground turkey for most of our ground meat needs. I generally save the beef for company.
  8. I do the Prep myself. I do not buy foods that have been cut, shredded, or prepared for me. Not only do I find those items to be low quality, but more expensive as well. For instance, pre-shredded cheese might be convenient, but it lacks the creaminess of the cheese I shred myself. I find it to be dry, and it is coated with cornstarch to prevent it sticking in the bag. It doesn’t cook up or melt the same as the cheese I shred myself. I can buy a 32 ounce block of cheese for $7 and shred it my food processor when we get home. It is far cheaper and tastier than the pre-shredded cheese. The same thought goes for produce and meat. Produce looses nutrients when it is cut as well, so I am doing my family a favor by cutting it as we need it. I do not buy the little carrots pre-cut. Not only are they serious choking hazards, but far more expensive than a pound of organic carrots for .99. I can cut them into sticks myself.

And that is pretty much my philosophy and methods of getting food and essentials for our home. I imagine it will change through time. And I also don’t believe it is the best method for everyone. My grandmother would find my method of shopping very unsuitable for one person. And larger family may find buying bulk foods from Costco or Sams to be the most effective method of getting groceries. I do hold to the fact that planning is essential for any effective shopping trip and I also believe, no matter the size of the grocery budget, we are to be wise stewards. A large or non-existent grocery budget does not permit us Christians the freedom to spend carelessly. We are also held accountable for our time. I don’t believe we should over-obsess in the process of getting groceries. It can become materialism if we are obsessed with the best deals and always printing coupons. So, again, moderation is essential to biblical living.