Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Leaving a Legacy for your Children

I was making a quick lunch for our family today and YES it was Chef Boyardee's Beefaroni! (Oh c'mon, you don't do Chef you will tell me you've never had the boxed Kraft Mac and Cheese???)

While I was stirring and heating it up, I gazed over at the opened cans and noticed a small blurb on the name sake. I guess in some ways, I had always wondered how, or who, shall I say, the food got its name. The blurb was only a few sentences, so I did some research on the man.

According to Wiki:
In 1924, Boiardi opened the Giardino d'Italia restaurant at East 9th Street and Woodland Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio. The idea for Chef Boyardee came about when restaurant customers began asking Boiardi for samples and recipes of his spaghetti sauce, which he often gave to customers in old milk bottles. He opened a factory in 1928, moving production to Milton, Pennsylvania ten years later.

Boiardi began to use this factory in 1928 to keep up with orders, setting his sights on selling his product nationally. Touting the low cost of spaghetti products as a good choice to serve to the entire family, Boiardi introduced his product to the public in 1929. In 1938, production was moved to Milton, Pennsylvania, where Boiardi was able to maintain greater quality control over his products. He even grew his own tomatoes and mushrooms in the factory basement for use in his creations. He decided to name his product "Boy-Ar-Dee" to help Americans pronounce his name.

Boiardi's company made and prepared millions of rations for American and Allied troops during World War II, and for his efforts he was awarded a gold star order of excellence from the United States War Department. After struggling with cashflow and managing rapid internal growth, he sold his brand to American Home Foods, later International Home Foods, for approximately $6 million. Boiardi then invested in steel mills, which helped produce goods needed for the Korean War.

Boiardi appeared in many print advertisements and television commercials for his brand in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. His last television commercial promoting the brand aired in 1979. Boiardi continued developing new Italian food products for the American market until his death, at which the Chef Boyardee line was grossing $500 million per year for International Home Foods. He died of a heart attack on June 21, 1985. He was 87.

American Home Products turned its food division into International Home Foods in 1996. Four years later, International Home Foods was purchased by ConAgra Foods, which continues to produce Chef Boyardee canned pastas bearing Ettore Boiardi's likeness.

So what's my point?

Well, this got me thinking about one's life work and legacies, specifically, of the one that you leave for your children.

Proverbs 13:22
A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.

Ezra 9:12
...that you may be strong and eat the good things of the land and leave it to your children as an everlasting inheritance.

2 Cor. 12:14
After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.

With Chef Boyardee, in one way, I feel like he did leave a legacy, per se, in that even though it's been over 20 years since his death, he still has his name out there and the product has lasted 50 plus years and maybe this is resulting in a financial legacy for his family (children's children sort of thing). But on the other hand, I wonder about the "legacy" and question whether this is the sort of legacy that God intended. After all, one man's life work/business/restaurant/dream --- well, in all honesty, can be bought at .88c a can on sale. Plus, it has a subtle underlying stigma of "canned pasta" attached to a face with a "you actually feed that to your children" attitude. Yes, he sold the company for millions and there are probably royalties still today, but what happens when the money runs out? What is the family left with?

I think there is more to the intended legacy -- that of values, morals, character, love for and walk with God.....though I do believe the "inheritance" deals also with land, showing our children the value of work, living off the land and not being dependent on others (yes, I am back to my homesteading ideas)....In the Bible, it does say to not be indebted to another man and to work for God, to not have money as your master.....

I think it would be amazing to instill in my children these values. Where the "inheritance" we give them is something they can use as a never failing foundation -- both literally (in the land sense) and spiritually (as in God).

So this is just more of a reflection, as it came to mind today. It makes me question what sort of legacy we are leaving for our children. What decisions are we making today that will affect my children and my chldren's children? And are they to their benefit, ones that will take care of them, financially, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually and physically?

I can sense this will be an ongoing thought....

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Parenting, Intentional & Purposeful.....

In prep for an upcoming family trip to the New England area, I came across another instance where I can be, what I call, an Intentional Parent.

I was looking around for something for our family to do on Labor Day Monday. I wanted to do something more "educational" and active than just laying on the beach. Sitting around isn't really something that my family does - we are an ACTIVE family. So, I started looking at some of the festivals or farms/mazes in the area.

I considered the King Richard's Faire. I had lived in the Boston area for about 7 years and never went, even though that is one of the most popular fairs in the area. Thinking it might be neat for Eliel to see the horses, the kings and queens in their getups and so on, I looked at the entertainment and activities list. Um, I was NOT impressed with the highlights which included, a Cleavage Contest (how low can you go without baring it? was the show's "theme"), a Torture Show, a Town Brawl, a Wet Dirty Women show and an axe and knife throw show.


Is this really what I want to expose my family/children to? In some ways, I understand that the above "activities" may have been part of the Middle ages, but what about the codes of chivalry, knighthood, loyalty (where are the Crusades???) --- why is there absolutely NO focus or "entertainment" along these lines? And I know that in today's society, the choice between a cleavage contest and a "chivalry demonstration" or a soldier being knighted is yawn, not a hard choice -- seriously! Fair owners, you can't get more creative than a CLEAVAGE CONTEST? Why do I feel a Faire such as this one is just a few inches short of a strip club-debauchery brewhouse combo? And just as a side note, and pay $23 an adult for this?

So we moved on, deciding THAT will not be one of our activities.
What about a corn maze at a farm?

That seemed a better choice but even there, there are subtleties of evil, darkness (whatever you want to call's not of God and Light). For example, each year, the corn mazes decide what image they will design. Usually, a Fall theme or something locally attributed, you might find...

Under the Sea

Space Adventures

Circus Theme

or even something local and fun like "Celebrating Ohio"

HOWEVER, the ones that were available this year in the area we were going to included:

The Headless Horseman

Blackbeard's Revenge

Family Guy

Over and over again, it is amazing to me to see how easily evil gets into our life. Actually, it's easy, because we let it. It's more than turning a blind eye -- it's not OPENING our eyes! It's not the passive response of "well, we will go for the fun of it and explain it all later...". It's the ACTIVE response of "No, we are not going and supporting that OR exposing our kids to that". We give our kids a subtle message that it is actually okay - because we are participating in it, despite a 2 minute disgruntled talk about how bad it is.

I've never been the mom that dressed my children (or myself) in skulls/crossbones, in celebrity clothing (esp from those athletes and musicians that are probably more well known for their criminal/devious acts than their "real careers") or laughingly called my children "little monsters or little devils". In fact, when family members have said something along those lines, I have calmly but directly asked them not to refer to my children as such, ESPECIALLY in front of them.

I do believe we have to be INTENTIONAL about what we SERVE to our kids. Just like we are intentional about what we serve them at dinner time --- don't you make sure there are veggies on the plate, that the food is nutritious, that they had enough liquids, that they are fed --- why wouldn't you do this for their intellectual and spiritual appetites as well?

And just for the record, the Bible calls and commands us, as parents, to train and direct, to lead our children, to guide them, to discipline and to protect. Our actions, from the very start, even when they are as young as my son (2.5 years old) are important and will either lead them onto the right path or to one that is so destructive (in both obvious and not so obvious ways) and that much harder to get off of. Why wouldn't you want to give the BEST for your child, instead of exposing him to the likes of Family Guy (seriously?!) and then HOPING s/he comes out with a good, righteous character and sound mind?

So what are we planning on doing?
We did find a corn maze that is doing a "family-friendly" theme, that of a local sports winning the Stanley Cup.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

How do I look?

I thought my blog needed a new look....and some updated pictures!

After all, Eliel is now almost 2.5 and I still had pictures from when he was about six months old.....

so what do you think? How do I look?

Friday, August 19, 2011

My Patchwork Picnic Blanket

Back in June, I wanted to make a patchwork picnic blanket. However, with my growing pregnancy and the visit of our two international students, I didn't quite get around to it until this past week.

I went to Walmart and into my own "collection" for fabric and just choose what caught my eye. The pics don't really do it justice - but I love the prints and the assortment of reds, blues, oranges and greens. It was kind of a country vintage inspired look I was going for. Then I had to figure out how I wanted to place them.

It was amusing to me to learn exactly how "technical-creative" I am. For while assorting the fabrics, it was as if I was using some unsaid formula of "one hue of color per line, alternate "crazy" fabric with "quiet" fabric, and not too similar colors or fabric on opposite sides"...etc...anyhow, the final product!

It's on the larger size, but I think I could have made it even bigger...but it's 4 across by 4 down (each 21 inch squares) with a furry soft green backing. (see the top right corner in the picture below -- that's the real cozy side :P)

One of my favorite features, besides the prints themselves, are the ties. This keeps it folded nicely for transport and storage.

One little "oops" --- when folding it for the first time, I poked myself with none other but a sewing pin stuck within one of the seams....sheeseh. Can you see it in the picture? I am pointing to it.

So I just maneuvered it to one of the seam corners and tried to pull out as gently as possible. My fingers kept slipping and it wasn't working, so I asked my husband to just break the pin and grab the pointy side (if the head is floating around in the furry fabric, no one would feel it..) but he was able to pull the whole thing out with pliers with no damage to the fabric!
Thanks, hon!

Overall, pretty excited about my first picnic blanket. I'd say it cost about $35 in supplies. I got about 13 squares, which came in packs of 5 for $7-12 each (depending on whether I got them from Walmart in Canada or in the States), some random pieces of fabric
and a $5 king-sized furry blanket from Goodwill!

The project took about 3-4 hours in total. After buying the fabric and taking off all the price tags (why do stores insist on putting these on the most visible and hard to remove places??), I washed the fabric. I then had to spend about 30 mins unraveling the HUGE mess that came out of the wash. All the fabric sort of shredded a little on the ends and wrapped and entangled itself. I attacked it, using patience and my seam-ripper. Then I ironed each piece (remember, 16 pieces!), and decided on layout. Working on each "row", I pinned two together, sewed that and then pinned and sewed the two longer pieces together. Once I had 4 rows, I then pinned and sewed rows 1 and 2 together and then 3 and 4. Finally, I pinned and sewed "Big piece 1" and "big piece 2"....makes sense?

And by the way, I pressed the seams at every step of the way. It really helped to get the corners crisp. (sorry no pics, but as usual, I am doing my projects late at night and I don't think my Iphone pics at that light turn out so great anyhow...)

Now, you know what we are doing this weekend -- we are going to have a picnic! :)

Linked to: Today's Creative Blog, Blue Cricket Design, Sew Much Ado, Eisy Morgan, Ginger Snaps, Trophy Wife, let birds fly
andTip Junkie handmade projects

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Two ingredient Elephants

you are probably asking what am I talking about, right?

Here's some quick background. I've been really getting on board with making homemade, natural foods AND with taking control of our food budget. Not that we currently spend a ton, but in a few months, we will be a family of 4 and want to get on top of things now.

So anyhow, after reading Jenna Woginrich's, Made from Scratch, I decided to try the recipe for homemade spaghetti. Yes, spaghetti can be purchased for $1, but taking a hard look at the ingredients, I still find a lot of "extras".

So, I enthusiastically went on to make my own and with Jenna's recipe, this even involves a "homesteading" technique. Meaning: BY SCRATCH -- no pasta maker for us!

3 large eggs
2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour

1. Crack the eggs into a medium-sized bowl and beat them lightly. Add flour to the eggs, ½ cup at a time, mixing until you have a slightly sticky dough. Knead it for a short time and when you’re content with the ball, wrap it in foil or plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for an hour.

2. Place it on a lightly floured surface and roll it as thin as you can while keeping it a solid sheet or dough. Sprinkle flour over the sheet of dough and gently roll it up into a long tube. Cut the tube into ⅛- or ¼-inch slices and unroll each slice into a long strand of pasta. Drape them over a coat hanger.

I ended up cutting the pasta with a pizza cutter. The most difficult part was hanging them on the hanger -- they seem to be "heavy" that they ended up allowing gravity to take over...(which this should have been a clue, see below for the blog post title connection).

3. Boil the pasta for 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and serve with Chunky Pasta Sauce.

They took no time at all....puffed right up.

Beaming, quite happy with "my very own pasta and sauce", I enthusiastically called my husband and son for dinner....

Looking at the dish, my husband says "Whoa, look elephant noodles!"

and yeah, yeah, even though the noodles were um, quite big...(I do admit they looked like elephant trunks or legs :P), the taste was so --- wholesome. Not "processed" as I have come to find grocery store pasta. Also, with the difference in taste, and well, size, you don't need to eat as much -- they are quite filling! It actually wasn't a hard process at all and it really doesn't take too much time. I just have to cut smaller and master the "drying process".....

And so another little notch on my Homesteading apron!!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Living off-grid... and on-God

If you've followed this blog long enough or know me, you know that I am from the Bronx, in NYC. I grew up a city girl -- I (still!) lock my doors every time (even when getting gas at the station), I am weary of streets that don't have lampposts and I have a huge "shriek, eek and yuck" response potential at things like spiders, worms and anything other creepy-crawly things that might fall into this category.

YET -- I want to be a country girl.

Part of it may be the nesting factor for when I was pregnant with my first, I had definite desire to bake apple pies from scratch (and get the apples from the apple tree that I envisioned), to learn to knit and purl, to can, to use only natural and homemade materials for cleaning and grooming and so on.

Thing is, these desires didn't LEAVE after Eliel was born. If anything, they increased and over the last 2.5 years, have developed into a full-blown desire to live off the land. The other day, my husband asked me what was my "life desire" -- kind of similar to the "where do you see yourself in 5 years?" question.
My answer: "to homeschool and to homestead".

So as I quickly told him later -- "sorry honey, you married Anne of Green Gables meets Little House on the Prairie. I didn't know I had that in me. I didn't see it coming at all!"

I think he is recovering nicely. :)

But I should have seen it coming --- there was always a fascination with mason jars, handmade quilts, rockers on a Southern porch and so on. Now I know living in the country is beyond these highly commercialized "country-items", but you get my point. I think it's always been in me and that's where we are headed.

This decision, this lifestyle is driven financially, biblically and preferentially (which has relations to time, family values and personal satisfaction). Where did it start? Or, at least, where did I start sensing it?

Somewhat at all the same time, I was taking a harder look at the food we purchase at the grocery store (and realizing how much extra and unnecessary "stuff" is in there, even with supposed organic food), assessing our budget and financial picture (including our house), hearing myself tell my son that we will play together with his cars after I finish cleaning our 3rd bathroom, having a blast making my own pasta completely by hand (no pasta maker for me! 2 ingredients and some hand rolling and cutting), enjoying a delicious 4-ingredient (all natural foods) homemade pasta sauce, hating the "chemical" smell of household cleaners lingering in the air hours later, and the cheap thrill of smelling basil still on my hands after plucking fresh from the plant for dinner...

And taking this further, to a biblical context, Scripture says:

2 Thes 3:10, 12

Whoever does not work should not eat...Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat.

Romans 13:8
Let no debt remain outstanding.

Proverbs 22:7(b)

...the borrower is slave to the lender.

Matthew 6:24

You cannot be the slave of two masters! You will like one more than the other or be more loyal to one than the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Proverbs 28:19

Those who work their land will have abundant food.

Proverbs 10:5

He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son,but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.

The math was just adding up.

With this, I see homesteading as a natural way of life, as God intended. To be self-reliant and self-sufficient. Not in the "selfish" way of "look at me, I can rely on myself, I don't even need God for food" and go popping your shirt Superman-style to revel an undershirt with a big capital "S"...that's not the mindset I am talking about. (Even if I, yeah me, grew some corn, God's made that miracle happen, the process occur....) But I am talking about being a good steward of what God's given us -- the land, the food that I can grow, the hands that I can work with, my mind that can work out the details.

The other concept is about our money (or the use of it) and what we are indebted or bound to. Again, maybe it's the pregnancy, but I definitely question the need, the long-term benefit, the importance of today's current houses and our lifestyles. Do we really need three bathrooms? A family room, a living room AND a rec room? His and her cars or sinks? At what point are we just now working for the acquiring (and then sometimes maintenance or storage) of these things or lifestyle, that it takes us from the real important things? Again, my example, is that I am cleaning our 3rd bathroom instead of playing with my son. And that's not my only example!

So with the - what I believe is inherent to God's people - desire to live off and work the land, to not be indebted to others, to be good stewards of what's been given to us (our time, our giftings, our families and children), we are looking to turn towards what I mentioned to my husband, the "homesteading and homeschooling lifestyle".

It's a running "joke" but the new American national anthem is "I owe, I owe, so it's off to work I go." And I don't see that as, in any way beneficial, or really, funny -- I don't want to be enslaved or bounded to a mortgage, to credit cards, to "things".

In the Book of Ezra, it says, "eat the good things of the land and leave it to your children as an everlasting inheritance" and in Proverbs 13:22, it says "A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous". Would it make you or your children happier to be left the 64in plasma tv that still has 20 payments, an expired warranty and no place in heaven? What about all the time one worked for that tv as opposed to being with the children? I've heard more than a fair share of stories where after a parent dies, the children either fight over the belongings and wound each other in the process or sever relations (seriously??!!) or are left with serious debts that affect their immediate families.

This is NOT the inheritance I want to leave my children nor the lesson I want to teach them during our lifetime. So we are making the bold step in changing our lifestyle drastically. With that, our house is currently on the market and I've been reading books and blogs on homesteading and living off the grid.

I realize this is a journey, with this being the very smallest of first steps. But I am definitely excited and feel at peace with this decision.