You Win Some, You Lose Some

Yesterday, I spent some time making big messes in the kitchen. This is nothing new, of course, but I tried not one, but two new recipes, and I also made an old favorite. My husband commented that there sure were a LOT of dirty dishes as we cleaned up the kitchen together in the evening. That’s what happens when I cook!

The first mess I made was a little one. My friend MA told me that she’d made Lahmajun a couple days ago; these are little Armenian pizzas made by spreading a thin layer of a meat mixture over a thin round of dough, then baking them until crisp. Lahmajun are eaten fresh from the oven with soup, or chilled and eaten cold the next day. MA simplifies the process by using pre-made flour tortillas instead of rolling out dough. She uses ground turkey, minced onion and peppers, mint, parsley, and salt for her meat mixture. To make a vegan version, MA suggested I use hummus or refried beans in place of the meat. Thus, my version of Lahmajun was made of a whole wheat flour tortilla spread with pine nut hummus, minced green onion, minced red and green peppers, mint, parsley, sea salt and black pepper. I baked it in a 350°F oven on stoneware for about 12 minutes, then slid it off the stoneware and directly onto the oven rack to bake another 3-4 minutes. (I wanted it nice and crispy.) It turned out to be VERY good!

I’ll definitely make Lahmajun again; I was going to make it for my lunch again today, since I neglected to get a photo of yesterday’s results, but my body told me to eat an apple instead. So here’s a picture I found via Google of what a stack of Lahmajun looks like:

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The second new recipe I prepared was Tempeh with Sweet Peppers and Bourbon-Laced Barbecue Sauce. I’ve been trying to add variety to my vegetarian meals with different meat substitutes, to keep things from getting boring. Tempeh is a soy product originating from Indonesia that is made by a natural culturing and fermenting process that binds soybeans into a cake form. The recipe I prepared was one that seemed fairly simple, with flavors I already enjoy.

I am not going to share with you the details of this recipe, because, as it turns out, tempeh is yucky. Even the picture I took of my plate looks yucky. I managed to choke down about half of this stuff, then dumped it back in the skillet and took the whole thing out to the chickens.

Crossing tempeh off  my list of meat substitutes….

Thank goodness the Apple Crumble Pie I made for dessert turned out delicios, because that was the bulk of my dinner last night. Sure, the juices ran out of the pie plate in the oven, causing all of our smoke alarms to let everyone in a 2-mile radius know that THE PIE IS DONE!!!! But it tasted good, and made up for the lousy main dish.

On Minimalism

My sister B was the only one to suggest a topic on the blog’s Facebook page posting, so her suggestion of “minimalism” is the winner!

I started out by googling “minimalism”, to be sure I knew the correct definition of the term, and found a LOT of information out there. I read several articles and blog posts, and then I thought about them as I went about my day. This subject could be the entire focus of a blog (and in fact, it is, for many bloggers!). There are plenty of people who have written very informative pieces on minimalism, which leaves me feeling woefully inadequate to broach the topic.

But my little sister asked, and so I will write about what minimalism means to me.

First of all, what is minimalism? Google defines the term as related to the arts and music:  a style that uses pared-down design elements. The same can be said for a minimalist lifestyle:  a lifestyle that is pared-down, uncluttered. Most people who adhere to minimalism reduce the stuff in their lives to focus on what is important to them. Some minimalists go to the extreme of living in tiny houses and not owning any vehicles.

Hmm…this does not seem to be reflected in my own life, considering that I live in a moderately sized farm house, and we have cars all over the place. And then there’s my tendency to collect things. You know my love of fun socks? I’ve got one regular sized drawer FULL of them; not one of the little top drawers designed to hold undies and socks – one of the large lower drawers. And to fit more socks in the drawer, I store them stacked upright, like recipe cards in a box.

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Not to mention my collections of Frankoma pottery, scarves, vintage pins, shoes, Federal glass snack sets, teas (loose leaf and bagged), printed leggings, books, nativity ornaments…. I like stuff. Much stuff. When something makes my eyes widen with hearts zinging from them, I want to gather as many varieties of that thing as possible, for the cheapest possible price. Because I’m a frugal hoarder, you know.

However….

There are times when the volume of my collections overwhelms me. I begin to feel ruled by my things, instead of me enjoying them. Here is where minimalism comes into play for me. When my collection overflows and I’m feeling Frankoma fat, I know that it’s time to purge.

“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo hit the blog world by storm last year. I borrowed the book from the library; liked it so much, I bought my own used copy on eBay (to add to my collection of books, of course!). And while I haven’t KonMari’d my entire house, I have employed her method of culling. When I felt the need to reduce my Frankoma collection, for example, I gathered all of it together in one place, then evaluated each piece individually, deciding whether or not it “sparks joy” in me still, or if I had enjoyed it enough already and was ready to let it go.

This is a great way to keep my possessions from owning me, or becoming overwhelmed by them. And once I’ve pared down a collection, I remind myself to be content with what I have when the temptation to purchase a new piece arises. (This is really difficult to do sometimes, and I’ll admit to buying things because the price was so low it was irresistible! A Frankoma snail vase for 99¢? How can I pass that up?!)

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There are more reasons to keep my collecting in check. All this stuff is temporary. None of it is going with me when I die. One brief encounter with a Kansas tornado, and it’s all a pile of rubble. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:19-20, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…” “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” (1 Timothy 6:6-7)  The only things that will go with me when I die are my faith and what I’ve done in response to that faith.

Minimalism, for me, I think, is a balance. A balance between enjoying the things that I have and not allowing them to overtake my life. I like fun socks, but I don’t need every pair ever made. I can enjoy my collections, but not allow them to clutter up my life so that I neglect what’s important. Minimalism is also a tool that I can implement to ensure that my life is balanced. It’s a way to keep the proper perspective.

New Year Inspiration

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Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

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See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:19

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Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:

 The old has gone, the new is here!

2 Corinthians 5:17

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Happy New Year!

“‘“The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
 the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
 the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”’

Numbers 6:24-26