Paths

I’ve been mulling this blog post over in my mind for several months now.  I knew what I wanted to focus on, what the message was and the purpose.  My obstacle was primarily fear.  That big thing of what other’s might think or presume or judge me on.   In an age where everyone is easily offended, but everyone has strong opinions, I do my best to NOT rock the boat.  I keep my dreams to myself, so to speak.

So, let me jump in and give you some background.  I have always been a nerd.  I love my books, I love writing, reading and imagination.  When I was little I decided I wanted to grow up to be the Science Officer of the Starship Enterprise C class.  When I was in middle school I was already fascinated with technology and sci-fi.  I would read everything I could get my hands on.  When Star Wars came to the big screen that was it, I knew I had to work with robots, then came War Games, then Tron and before I knew it, I was going to college to be a programmer.  I grew up when Women’s Lib was starting to roar loudly and sending the mixed messages.  I went to college when I was one of the very few women in data processing.  It was scary, but it was exciting.

My Grandma, was always encouraging, but warned me about false paths.  The yellow brick roads in life.  You know the ones; they have the bright jewel encased castles and grand ballrooms, but really they are ran by deception, the fake behind the curtain.  I fell into that trap.  I fought and fought for “independence”, which ended up trapping me in a world that was cold, lonely and very, very frightening.  I remember, crying to my Grandma shortly before she became ill with Alzheimer’s, that it wasn’t fair.  Life should come with instructions.  I remember very clearly what she told me, and it haunted me for years.  Her answer was; “It does, and I handed them to you a long time ago.”  She was referring to the Bible she had given me in High School.  I have grown up in church, but to be honest, I never read that Bible.  Throughout time, it became lost, even more so than me.  It took an angel, my husband Bob, to bring me home and turn my life around.

Deep inside, I always longed to be just a wife and a mom.  My choices prevented me from having that life.  Too many times I listened to the lies of the world and people who were not firm in faith to believe that I needed to push for success outside of the home, to make more money, to obtain more paper certifications, to obtain more education.  More, more, more.  I’ve always had a “giving” personality, but that became twisted and distorted by the life I chose.  I took the burden of “doing it myself” and believing in the “I am Woman” chant.  The truth was, my heart was breaking the entire time.  I longed to be with my children, I was happiest baking cookies and pies for the neighborhood kids and my kids.  I loved cooking for friends or families that needed help, even though we were having difficulty rubbing two pennies together ourselves.

Now, here we are today.  It hasn’t been a perfect or even a complete transition, but I have finally found my way back to that path.  My loving husband is strong in his faith, he keeps me centered and balanced and keeps me focused on “reading the instructions”.  No, he’s not my original husband, he is not the father of my children, but he is the angel that lead me home.  I know I’m broken.  I’ve found though, that God uses the most broken for his greatest challenges.

A few weeks ago while visiting with friends, I heard the words come out of my mouth.  “Please, think this choice through, don’t make the mistake I made.”  It was in reference to a friend taking a job that would take more of her time.  Totally opposite to who I was even a year ago, proudly boasting of my successes as a programmer.  Careers are those emerald castles, but in all honesty, there is no place like home.

I have been on a journey to better understand who God intended me to be.  I am grateful for my talents which have benefited me and my husband with my job outside of the home for income.  But now, I don’t look at it as my job, my career, my goals.  This job helps me help my husband, its not all about me and what I want.  This job is a tool, it isn’t my life.  My greatest joy is my husband and my home and my children and my ‘children-by-choice’, family that aren’t by blood by have been drawn to us, or us to them.  I understand now that I am my husband’s helper, his partner on this journey.

When my husband and I bought our little house in the little woods, or as I call it, our homestead.  Happiness and hard work followed.  The hard work created more happiness.  We started truly living what we believed and cherished.  We laugh and cry together and we hold on to each other closely.  We encourage each other, and even when we disagree, we respect each other.  I love cooking, gardening and living simple.  I love that I am no longer a slave to the world.   I still work outside of the home, but it is with joy and not as a burden.  I feel more and more a draw to the instructions my Grandma gave me when I was younger.  When I don’t know what to do, I open those instructions and read them.  A lot of the times, it causes me to reflect on the bad choices I’ve made in the past, sometimes I feel like a brat and my inside voice is whining “but I don’t wanna!”, in the end though, I take comfort in knowing that even though I don’t always understand, I can see the correct path and work my way to it and to stay on it.

So take it for what it’s worth from this older woman, who has gotten lost, found the wrong paths, chased after imaginary treasures, wondered in labyrinths filled with monsters, and finally found her way home.

  • Before saddling yourself with a burden of student loan debt, DON’T.  Just don’t.  Pay as you go for your education and don’t go in debt for it.  Use your talents for good.  You don’t need an expensive piece of paper to be happy.
  • Don’t become a slave to a career or to debt.
  • Choose your husband wisely.  Lust, passion and money fade away; Love, respect and honor grow stronger.
  • Your children are your legacy, nothing is more important than your relationship with your husband and your children.
  • Learn to help your husband, not hinder.  You are in the same boat together, fight  together, back to back and side by side.
  • Put God first, keep your faith strong and don’t listen to the lies of the world.
  • Most of all Pray, don’t nag.

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay Rice

 

 

Finding Time

More than often I get questions and comments from friends and colleagues such as: “How do you find time to do everything you do?” or my favorite “Do you ever sleep?”

My morning and evening devotions have found their way to focus on this subject here lately. As a result, I’ve felt the urge to write about it.

Finding time, makes it sound like time is this object that is fleeting and always out of our reach, but in fact, its right there, in our hands at all times.  Time isn’t fleeting, its the choices that we make to cause it to fly away or be used productively.  Time, as well as money, are two things that in reality we have a choice on how to use them.  We can use them wisely, or we can waste them.  A wise person, saves and uses wisely a fool wastes them on fleeting things.

There is also a very big difference in resting and being lazy.  Resting is a refueling, lazy is a waste of resources.  Resting comes as a result of hard work and productivity and finding calm.  Being lazy, is relying on others and outside sources to provide for us.  Do you remember the old story of the Ant and the Grasshopper?  The grasshopper mocked the ant for working so hard in the hot summer months, he insisted on singing, playing and being “lazy”.  The Ant worked diligently to fill its home with food so it could survive the harsh winter to come.  The story has a harsh lesson in the end.  The Grasshopper starved, the ant survived.

Here are some of the ways that allow me to focus on what is truly important, I hope they will help you on your journey.

  1. Wake up early and be consistent throughout the week. rooster
  2.  Morning is very important; how you start it will be the direction of your day.  Because of this, I will slowly wake up.  Laying in bed until my brain isn’t fuzzy anymore and then start moving to get ready.
  3. Make your bed.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Making your bed each morning gives you a sense of accomplishment from the very beginning.
  4. Daily Devotions and prayer.  I start my day with a simple devotion time and prayer to ask for guidance and wisdom in the upcoming day.  I also give thanks for having another day and for my husband.
  5. Keep your clothes simple.  Plan the night before what you will be wearing the next day and know what you have to wear.  In short, don’t have a department store in your closet or most of it in the laundry basket.
  6. For those of us who must work outside of the home as well as at home, remember this always.  We work to live, not live to work.  Your worth is not measured by your job and career.  I make sure that my job (as a programmer in the Tech World) has specific hours.  I work 40 to 50 (if uncontrolled deadlines are needed) a week.  When I am at work, I am at work.  I also allow myself a lunch break, which normally I write or take a walk during good weather.  Breaks are very important for keeping the mind clear.  I also spend the first 10 minutes of every morning, organizing my day with the tasks for that day and moving them along as need be, utilizing an Agile methodology.
  7. For both home and work I have outlined in a journal of what my goals are for the day, nothing lofty, just what needs to be done.  Keep It Short & Simple.
  8. I keep track of what I spend or earn.  This helps me with my budgeting and keeps at the front of my mind to not waste funds.
  9. At home, I keep a strict rule that home is for home and family.  This includes preparing the pantry for winter from our garden and supplementing with items from local farmers.  This is how I am able to can fruits and vegetables in season and bake homemade breads and rolls.
  10. I do not stay “tied” to my phone or computer.  I have found that keeping a written bullet journal handy to keep track of my to-do-lists, ‘shopping’ lists, moods, favorite scriptures and other things is better than being “plugged in”.  This way I’m not distracted to waste time on other “apps”.  I also have found that “helpful” apps are really not helpful at all, in fact they waste time more than anything as you grow to having an obligation to them.
  11. Shopping:  Okay this is a touchy subject.  I know that that the grocery apps are becoming a huge thing now days.  But convenience creates its own demons.  Plan your grocery needs, take the time to go and get only, what is on your list.  You will save money and be more prepared.   Keep a rule that if you don’t have an item in between runs, you will agree to go without, period.  If it is a necessity, say yogurt, make sure you have it on your list to pick up on the grocery run.  Keep your runs to once every other week, maybe longer if you can.  The time and money saved continues to grow. Also, non grocery shopping apps suck you into spending more money and time then what you really need, they speak to your impulse voice.  Its amazing how much you can spend in this way.  UNPLUG.
  12. TV is not a priority.  In fact, for us, it’s rarely on with the exception of some news and maybe an old TV show now and then, even then if my husband and I are enjoying the television, I’m knitting, crocheting or sewing while watching.  We have also cut the cable cord.  This saves us over $100 a month, another frugal tip.  Getting rid of TV will save you a ton of time and a ton of stress.
  13. Understanding your needs versus your wants.  Being plugged into the world tends to make it very confusing on exactly what a want and a need really is.  Especially when the new car, vacation, food, clothing, personal ads are constantly talking to you, even if you say you don’t pay attention to them, they become that little voice saying you need this, you need this to be popular, to be better, to be wanted.  Turn them off.  You don’t NEED any of it.  By not cluttering your life and not spending more and more money on things (wants) the stress will start to melt away.
  14. We eat at home with basic ingredients.  I have heard the argument that it takes too much time to fix good meals at home.  Hogwash!  The time and money you spend driving, waiting, eating and driving home, not to mention the health effects on your body, you could have had a much better meal and not spend half the money and the time.  If you have a tight work schedule, then meal-prep on the weekends.  Plan ahead for the week with a schedule.  This will also help you save money.  Oh, and make your morning coffee at home don’t hit the drive-through.  The money you spend on a good coffee maker and a travel mug, is pennies compared to the monthly cost of that daily/multiple coffee shop run.
  15. Enjoy the moment.  Instead of worrying about what you need to do tomorrow.  Schedule your week so you can sit back and enjoy the moment with the ones you love.  Now, when I say schedule your week, this DOES NOT MEAN DOWN TO THE SECOND!  Keep your load light, make room to enjoy life as life comes to you.  Do NOT over schedule.  Especially, if you have children.  Do not schedule an event every night.  Set limits for you and for them.  Take in a board game, enjoy conversation, a walk, and do chores together.
  16. This one goes with not over scheduling your time.  If you can’t give it at home, then don’t give it away somewhere else.  What does this mean?  If you are too busy to cook for your family, don’t volunteer to bake for the bake-sale.  If you don’t have enough money to buy your kid’s school supplies, don’t go out with friends to dinner and or a bar.
  17. Pack your lunch and prepare your breakfast the night before.  This way there is no rush and no temptation to hit the fast food place on the way to where you are going.
  18. Tidy up before bed.  Make sure the dishes are done, items are put away.  When you take care of things as they arise, the job is not near as daunting.
  19. Now here is the big one:  REST.  Yes, REST.  Take some time to unwind, read a calming book or an evening devotion.  UNPLUG, do not pick up that phone or tablet before bed, it stimulates the brain.
  20. Go to bed “early”.  We try to be in bed between 9 and 9:30 pm each night, this means we easily obtain 7-8 hours of good sleep before we start all over again.  A good night’s sleep is important for your body to refuel and repair.  It’s directly tied into your mood, weight, stress levels and energy.  Get some good rest.

I know this really sounds like a lot, but it all falls into place easily.  I’ll be writing more about bullet journals in the future, but keeping these are a wonderful way to stay organized.  It also helps me to remember what I did several days back.

Enjoy, and until next time.

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

Preserving Wild Ramps

Wild Ramps, also referred to as Wild Leeks, are an amazing spring treat that grows in the wooded areas around the same time that morals (mushrooms) and Pheasant Back Mushrooms start to peek out.  April to the end of May these wonderful natural treats cover select patches of wooded areas.  They originally were gathered and enjoyed in the Appalachia Areas (that I know of).   Ramps taste like sweet garlic.  Some people say they taste like green onion, but to me they are more garlic.

This year my husband and I went foraging and were blessed with an abundance of Ramps and some Pheasant Back mushrooms.

Since I work in the city all week, I long for my evenings and weekends in the country.  I love coming home to simplicity, and it doesn’t get much more simple than this.  Enjoying the gifts strait from God.  The wonderful afternoon hike proved to be more than just good for my soul, but it provided a bountiful addition to our pantry.

We love both of these items fresh, but honestly their natural shelf life is not very long.  So what to do with all the wonderful goodies, without over eating or worse, wasting them?

My favorite recipe this year is Pickled Ramps.  A very good friend of mine from church sent me a link for a recipe she uses for her pickled radishes.  I’ve tweaked it a tad to include water bath canning time and preferred taste:

Recipe 1:  Spicy Pickled Ramps  (Makes 2 pints)

Preparation:  Clean your ramps.  Wash thoroughly, peel away the outer layer, cut off the roots and just below the leaves.  (Keep your leaves separated for the next recipe)

 

Once you have your ramps ready, pack them tightly in clean and sterilized Pint Canning jars.  I pack mine to where there is a layer bulb down and a layer bulb up so that they are nice and tight but not squished.

In EACH Pint Jar Add 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes and 1/2 teaspoon of whole mustard seed.

Set the jars two the side, while your water bath canner is heating up.

Off to the side on another stove burner in a Simmering Pot Add:

  • 3/4 cups of Apple Cider Vinegar (canning grade)
  • 3/4 cups of Water
  • 2 teaspoons of canning salt
  • 3 tablespoons of raw honey

Heat your liquid mixture, constantly stirring until it is boiling.  Make sure you don’t stop stirring so your honey doesn’t scorch.

Pour your liquid over your ramps in your jars until the ramps are covered (1/2 inch head space for the jar).

Wipe down your jar rims from any splash.

Place your lids on the jars and tightly (but not like Hercules tightly) put on your rims.

Place the jars one by one in your water bath canner.  Water should be one inch over your jars after all jars are loaded into your canner.

Once your canner comes to a boil, you will want it to remain boiling for 20 minutes.

At the sound of the timer, the end of twenty minutes, I turn off the heat to the canner and let it sit until the boil is gone.  Then using canning tongs I take my jars out and put them on a clean covered area where they can cool for the next 12 hours.  Each sealed jar will give you that wonderful “POP”.  Let cool for 12 hours and put away in the pantry.

These are best if you can wait 5 days before opening, however, we opened one jar 24 hours after it was canned, we couldn’t stand it any longer, and it was absolutely heavenly.

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Refrigerate after you break the seal.

Recipe #2: Dehydrated Ramps

Remember when I said, don’t throw away those leaves?  Well here is why, they make yummy soup & stew & Stock greens.  Using your dehydrator (or oven on the lowest temperature), spread your leaves out and dry, then crumble up.

For the bulbs, we slice thin and put in the dehydrator at 100 degrees for overnight (or until they crumble).  Dehydrated ramp bulbs are so yummy to just eat like chips if you like garlic, which we do.  They are also perfect for dried goods for your pantry to be used anywhere you would use leeks, garlic or green onion.

We have a Vac-u-Sealer with a lid attachment, so we put our dehydrated goods in a canning jar, then using the lid attachment vac-seal the jar.  This is a great way to store without crushing your dehydrated goods.  NOTE:  You must use a clean jar and a clean canning lid each time you seal the jar.  You can not reuse lids.20180508_200148742386972.jpg

We also cleaned, diced and stored our Pheasant Back mushrooms this way with the dehydrator and the vac-u-sealer with the lid attachment.  The centers will be used for stew and soup stock while the tender outer areas will be used for pretty much anything.

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I really hope you enjoy this recipe and ideas to use what you have and venture out into nature to enjoy the beauty and bounty provided there.

But remember this, don’t take more than YOU can use.  Don’t be greedy.  Use a netted bag when collecting mushrooms (that way the spores will fall to the ground and make more next year).  Leave plenty for the animals and nature.  Oh and if you don’t know for sure if something is not edible, don’t eat it.  😉

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice