Sunday, September 28, 2014

Easy To Make Caramel Sauce or Caramel

   Several months ago, I was looking at recipes to make caramel sauce, but without using sugar. I found that you could make caramel by boiling down fruit juice, such as apple or pear cider. The first time I made this, I cooked it too long and now it is stuck in the jar!

   I decided that I would make it again using pear cider and with more careful observation. Instead of letting it boil though, it was on a soft simmer for a long time and nothing was happening. Finally, I decided to turn up the heat and let it boil down some more. Not wanting to end up with taffy again, I took it off the stove and poured it into a small Mason jar. This time it turned out more like syrup. It is extremely sweet though, and makes a good topping for ice cream or anywhere you want to use a sweet syrup with.

  Here's how to make syrup or caramel:

Take about 2 cups of cider (pear cider is good) and let it boil down on a slow simmer. Keep an eye on it as it boils by checking often. Don't do the mistake I did by letting it continue to boil over an extended amount of time. Nothing was happening, so I decided to let it continue to boil softly for a while more. By the time I came back to pour it into the jar, it was somewhat hardened. The sauce will become thick as it boils down.

Here is where I got the original recipe for this:

Yes, now you can have your caramel and eat it too!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Time To Clean House!

   Whenever someone moves out of their home into another, and I have to help with cleaning, I am always reminded of the need to keep our houses clean.

   I am not talking about having OCD, but just to take the time, each day or every other day to keep up with cleaning. If a person does not keep up with keeping the house clean, guess what happens? First of all, dirt is harder to clean if it is left on surfaces. And if you are moving out, you are expected to leave the house you just came out of, clean! If it is not found clean, you will not get your deposit back!

   Let's talk about cleaning. There are two aspects of cleaning. One is the organization of our possessions. The other has to do with removing dirt from countertops, floors, toilet bowls, and bathtubs. You could have a very organized home, but with a crust of dirt 1 inch thick! Or, you could have a home where stuff is lying everywhere, but underneath all it is basically clean. The goal is to have some organization of the 'stuff' we have, and to have as much of the dirt removed as possible.

   I know there is a debate about the dirt issue, for if you continue to use products that will kill germs, you will kill both bad germs and good germs. If you kill good germs, then you will kill the germs that help build immunity. If you have bad germs around, then eventually, good germs will come around to fight the bad germs and that is how you build a good immunity. But, I reason that if you have some bad germs around that could cause you to be very sick, you might not have time for the good germs to come around to help build a good immunity system. So, you have to take the whole picture into consideration.

   The key to organizing 'stuff' is to have a place to put everything. That's where bins and bookshelves come in handy. Stores are big on selling bins, and we really can use them! That's something we didn't have in the olden days! But today, we can organize things better and not leave them out to get lost or broken.

  Why should we pick up after ourselves? It is part of being responsible. What causes us to not be responsible? The main reason is laziness. God does not want us to be lazy, but industrious. Let's say we just take off our socks and leave them on the floor. Is it any wonder that we can't find the right match to our socks when we need them?

   I just don't think we really know how to clean our houses today. When I was little, the houses we lived in were small and my mom spent a lot of time cleaning the house and ironing. I remember her in front of the ironing board continually. But I also remember other women coming over and just sitting there watching television. Maybe their houses were already cleaned or maybe they hired a maid to clean the house. I'm not sure, but there is a whole lot more for women to do than to just sit on a couch every day and watch soap box operas.

   A big issue with being clean is sanitation. There is a case of just being not overly clean, but it is another story when the house is filthy. People get diseases because of the unsanitary conditions in a home. Sometimes, children get impetigo or other diseases like ringworm. Being immaculate doesn't necessarily mean you won't get these things, but it does help. Being overly clean does not really mean you are more protected from germs though, as I already brought out in another paragraph. But there is a good balance of being on the clean side that is good protection and not extreme.

   One thing to note is that we do have to be careful about the cleaning products we use. Many contain bleach which is carcinogenic. I'm sure if we are trying to clean something really, really dirty it can be justified, but there are a lot of good cleaners out there that do not contain bleach or other harmful ingredients. Look for these products at the stores. You can also make homemade cleaning products that contain safe ingredients.

  Here is a list of suggestions of what to clean in a house:

1. Floors - can be mopped, vacuumed, or 'Swiffered' (A mop kind of implement with a duster attached, which can be moist or dry).
2. Kitchen and bathroom counter tops - Need to be cleaned often. Should not be left uncleaned as they are a haven for germs. Never leave sitting water on them. Use a different sponge for the bathroom and kitchen.
3. Toilet bowls - There seems to be controversy concerning how to clean these. There are toilet scrubbers that can be used for the inside of a toilet. If I am cleaning my own toilet, I just use my hand if necessary. Make sure hands are washed thoroughly afterward. All parts of toilet need to be cleaned, including the top and bottom of the seat as well as the outside of the bowl and tank. This doesn't have to be done everyday, but should be done often, or as needed.
4. Dishes - need to be washed after using. If you let food stay on dishes, it is hard to wash off later on. Some dishes can go in the dishwasher. Use a safe dishwashing soap. Put clean dishes away.
5. Sheets - Sheets should be washed in cold water because of shrinkage. They should be changed every week. Air drying sheets is nice to do, if your HOA doesn't have a fit about hanging laundry outside.
6. Towels - Need to be washed at least once a week. Check the label to see what temperature to wash them in. Fold and put away when dried. Have a place in a linen closet to put them in a pile so they will be easy to find.
7. Laundry - This covers a lot of things from towels, sheets, clothing, and underwear. Sort clothing out according to colors and temperatures. For example, wash light color clothing if the sheets are light colored and the clothing is supposed to be washed in cold water (check tags to see what temperature to wash at).
8. Cleaning up after preparing a meal - This is done often! Keep the crumbs off the counter unless you want ants to come and visit! It is not a good idea to leave dishes in the sink to be washed sometime tomorrow! Rinse them off and put them in the dishwasher or wash by hand and let them dry, then put away.
9. Cleaning the refrigerator and oven - This needs to be done, but not necessarily every day. Sometimes, there is a spill in the fridge and it can just be wiped up with a paper towel. Clean the refrigerator with soap and water. Clean the oven with soap and water as well. But use the automatic oven cleaner too. Be careful of using spray oven cleaners though as they contain harsh chemicals. Air out your house when you use the automatic oven cleaner.

   This is just a start of ideas of how to clean a house. You can probably add other things that need to be done. Please don't use nice smelling sprays to cover up bad odors. Air the house out and if possible, try to get rid of the cause of bad odor. Also, be careful in mixing certain household cleaners together, such as ammonia and bleach, as you could have a type of explosion on your hands!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Building Our Homes

   The Bible says that a wise woman builds her house, but the foolish woman tears her house down. (Proverbs 14:1). I don't know about you but I certainly don't want to tear my house down.

  But you might ask, how does one 'tear their house down', or 'how does one build their house?'. What is the most common way to destroy something? It is with our words. Our words can destroy people. Our words can give life to people.  

  How do you think a child will grow up, if he hears words about himself that are degrading? What if a parent calls him dirty names and tells him he is worthless? Do you think that child will grow up into an adult who is functional in society? 

  Some of us, as women, want control and we want to make sure there is nothing to threaten our control of others, so we use our words as weapons. I have even seen families which were divided because a person set people up against each other, and gave names and labels to family members which may have been true, but to reinforce bad habits or even sinful weaknesses by labeling someone is a very bad thing to do. 

  Of course, we can go the other way and flatter our family members, but eventually, that too, will backfire. So, how do we encourage our husbands and children, without using flattery? 

   The key word in this whole thing is the word 'wise'. In order to answer the question properly, we must understand how one can be wise. The answer to this question is also found in the book of Proverbs. In Proverbs 9:10, it says that the 'fear of the Lord' is the beginning of wisdom. 

  We can have two different kinds of wisdom. We can have earthly wisdom, or we can have 'wisdom from above'. In order to have wisdom from above, we have to fear God, and in order to fear Him, we have to know Him, and know what He is like. We have to know what the issues are so we can understand who we are and who God is in relationship to us. 

  God is different than we are because He is uncreated. He also is all-knowing, present everywhere, eternal, holy, just, loving, pure, all-seeing, and perfect. We are His created beings, although we are affected by the fall of mankind when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. We live in a fallen world now, and everyone is affected by sin. Every man and woman is basically self-centered and self-seeking now. We operate independent from God, and none of us will seek God on his or her own. We want to call the shots, and we want to be in control. And we operate in ways that hurt people because of this. 

   We all have pride that rules our hearts. I know there are some people who exhibit pride more obviously than others, but we still operate with prideful motives. That is why we use our words to tear other people down with. Our words are weapons that hurt others. We hurt others because we believe that makes us more powerful. In a sense, it does, but in the end, it bites. 

   When we successfully destroy our homes, we are the ones who lose. If we live long enough to be in a nursing home, we can't expect those whom we have hurt to come visit us, or take us in. I have seen this when I visit nursing homes and it is very sad. 

    But, when we fear God, God gives us wisdom. It is unlike human wisdom and it is not self-serving. When we acknowledge God in all our ways, and trust in Him, He will guide us into His truth. Then we will begin to understand the love of God when He sent His Son, to die in our place to make the payment for our sins that we rightly deserve. When we understand that God loved us and made the greatest sacrifice for us, the love of God fills our hearts and we will begin to love those around us. When this happens, we will think less of ourselves and more of God and others. And when we love others, especially those in our homes, we will begin to speak the truth in love to them. We will be less tempted to gossip and slander, and we will use our words to bring Christ to them. 

   There is a difference in speaking the truth in love, and speaking words that might be true in order to slander another. We can speak the words of life to our family members and as they begin to respond to God, they will be changed. The words of God can change people, and when they learn that they can trust God, they will be more willing to turn to Him in obedience. 

   So, we can look at our words and see if they are tearing our family members down or if they are building them up. Are we speaking the truth in love to our children, or are we calling them names, hoping they will change by our doing that? 

   Are we cultivating a relationship with God? Are we basking in His presence or are we spending our time complaining about the weather or the electricity that just went out? 

   The choice is ours, and the results will be ours as well. We will reap, if not today, one day, whatever we have sown. If we have sown words that will heal, we will have a healthy family. If we have sown angry, belittling words, we will eventually have a crumbling family. 

For more information on the Gospel and our relationship with God, please go to or


They've made me feel like a prisoner
They've made me feel set free
They've made me feel like a criminal
Made me feel like a king

They've lifted my heart
To places I'd never been
And they've dragged me down
Back to where I began

Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart or
Put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don't wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

Words by Hawk Nelson

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Little House Days

When my adult girls were school age, we read all the books in the Little House on the Prairie set. How different life was back then!

   Some things we have today are very nice features, like dishwashers and sewing machines, yet, even though the people who lived during that time period seemed rather primitive, there was something of value to their lives that seems to be missing from our lives today.

  Not sure what it is, but maybe there was more appreciation for things. After all, if you spend a lot of time working on something, you better appreciate it, right?

   Today we have factories to do much of our hard work. Appreciation is lost for things can be made in a fraction of the time that it used to take to make something.

   But still, there was something there that we can't see. Simple things, like a square dance event, seemed to make many happy. Pulling taffy was another old pastime that people enjoyed. There were no television sets yet, nor were there any stereo sets or sound machines. The music they listened to was from Pa playing the fiddle or someone singing songs.

   We need to come back, not to primitive ways of living, but to take something and see the value and History in it. We need to be grateful for indoor plumbing and carpeting.

   I think we can learn from these books and from what Laura Ingalls Wilder taught in her biographies. We learned that if you give a pig taffy, his mouth might get stuck shut! We learned that clothing that has been washed, can be freeze dried on a clothes line. We learned how to dry food for the winter. Did you know that the people in that day knew what years a blizzard was going to take place? Every 7 years, a blizzard took place, and every 21 years, a bad blizzard took place.

  What I really like about these books is the way that children played back then. What do children do today in their spare time? They play video games and watch television. In my day, children rode bikes and climbed trees. In the days of Little House on the Prairie, children had lots of space to run around in and play. They had lots of animals to take care of and watch. They had a good balance of play and responsibility.

  Most of the children grew up with a mom and a dad who stayed together. People weren't thinking that they could have done better with someone else. No one left their marriages because they weren't happy. The family unit was strong, and the whole community was like one big family unit!

  Not everything was happy though. People were killed in horse carriage accidents or died from a disease or drowning. But the community was there to carry one another's burdens. People valued life because they understood that every person was created in God's image and was to be treated with respect.

  What did they do when the locusts came and ate up all the crops? It was especially bad when they were banking on a good crop in order to pay for a loan. When the crops didn't come to fruition, they had a serious loss. Somehow, they worked through it all though.

  They used the bartering system to buy many goods they needed. They would bring their eggs down and trade them for other goods like material to make clothing with. In one of the television shows, Ma was making a nice work shirt for Pa, out of calico material. Pa was less than thrilled about his new shirt!

  Then there was the time when Ma slapped a bear! She thought the bear was Suki, the family pet. Because it was dark out, Ma did not see what the animal was.

   Wouldn't it be cool if we could have communities like that again? How I loved reading the Little House books and watching Little House on the Prairie when it came on! I need to find the channel that hosts this program again and look for the books (unless someone has taken them to their house)! I'm all inspired to learn some of the tricks of the trade they used back then. Some of those things can be implemented again and made to work to serve us in a way that technology could never match, no matter how technical we end up becoming. There are just some things that are priceless.