Thursday, July 15, 2010

Summer Simplicity part 1

Summer has been romantically labeled the season of ease. 
laid back,
lazy summer days
alluringly beckon us to take time to celebrate and enjoy the season. 
But living a life of abundance,
beauty and peaceful tranquility in the shadow of the savior shouldn’t be seasonal. 
Every day is an opportunity for us to enhance beauty,
celebrate life with our Lord,
appreciate the creation, and each other, 
and enjoy His peace and rest. 
Sounds like perpetual summer to me, except the weather changes from time to time.

I have aspired to leave the hectic rushed lifestyle I used to live far behind me
in exchange for a narrow road less traveled, with grass growing down the middle,
where the pressure of the world to be significant and busy falls heedlessly to the side, 
and the words in Titus to be a keeper at home, loving my family, truly take root in my heart and lifestyle.  Thus, the essence of summer's effortless ease and charm has become
an ideal I try to live out daily,
continually simplfying and streamlining
that I might create an enchanting and endearing childhood for my 8 lively blessings,
as well as a haven of rest for my husband and myself
that is focused on God's goodness to us, and the joy of an abundant life in Christ.    

In this journey to uncover the serenity my soul longs for,
I have come to understand that simplicity is an acquired skill. 
How does a family with 8 children manage to live a simple life?

The first thing we changed was how much we were on the go.
Many wonderful opportunities were wreaking havoc by keeping us running to and fro. 
Instead, we have made home a fun, relaxed and happy place to be,
with abundant possibilities for childhood adventure every day. 
Living in the country has it’s advantages,
like picking berries,
swimming in the pond,
tree forts,
tending animals, 
trapping varmints, 
shooting bow and arrows, 
and playing in a dirt pile.

As I have prayed for wisdom and creativity, the Lord has faithfully answered. 

“Lord, I desire that our home be a beautiful and peaceful haven.
Enable me to create a gathering place for family and friends-
a place where people want to come and be together. 
Work in my life so that my home is a welcoming place for the new acquaintances that are made
and for the strangers whom you bring into our lives. 
Help me, Father, make it a caring place where the needy can find help
and the hurting can find comfort. 
Most of all, may it be a loving place,
where all who enter will sense the sweetness of Your presence.”
The second thing that happened on our path to simplicity,
was a creative notion to take the realm of outdoor living literally,
a divine epiphany that revealed open doors to simplify cleaning and cooking for the summer. 
Taking meals outside on the porch or at the campfire, helps keep the dining room clean.
  There surely is no better way to begin a wonderful bright summer morning than lingering with coffee on the sunny porch.  The briskness of the morning air casually recedes into warm sunshine as we set a table for my choice of a uncomplicated homemade summer breakfast. 

Fresh fruit and muffins in a basket,
along with a pitcher of milk at the table outside couldn't be sweeter. 
Crumbs need no sweeping, and the fruit has very little mess. 
Whatever mess there is can be swept back into the basket for the easiest of cleanup. 
This is a meal that can certainly get by without plates or utensils. 
To keep things as uncomplicated as possible,
each person has a his own drinking mug or glass that is used through out the day,
making less dishes to wash.

My favorite muffin recipes are those that have received great compliments from my family, 
use basic ingredients, and store well. 
My premise for simplicity in baking is to do it once a week in mass enough to last.
  I bake a big batch of muffins, usually bran or poppy seed, along with a variety of sweet bread, 
such as zucchini or banana, pumpkin, blueberry or lemon. 
The bran muffins are truly delightful, and keep well for four days if kept in a airtight container. 
The sweet breads keep nicely in the freezer, so we have been known to bake several loaves at once. 
This has come in handy more than once, as we can snatch a loaf out for a quick picnic, 
or spur of the moment hospitality.

Big Batch Bran Muffins

5 cups flour
5 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp salt
2 tsp allspice
2 ½ cups bran
3 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup veg oil
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp lemon juice
 2 tsp vanilla
Mix everything together in a big bowl, use ½ c batter for each muffin, in paper lined or greased tin.    Bake at 375 for 20 minutes. 

“A house becomes a home when each room is clothed with peace, each wall is covered with laughter, and each heart if filled with love.”


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