Blessings In The Kitchen

Shabu Shabu – Japanese One Pot Meal


I love my fondue pot. I look for excuses to take it out. So when I found a recipe for Shabu Shabu, I had to try it.

Shabu Shabu is a Japanese One Pot Dish in which a broth made from a variety of ingredients you can choose from is brought to the table where you cook your food as you eat it. For families with younger children you can also pre-cook all of the food if you desire to. The best part is that this dish is so healthy!

While there are specialty hot pots with a low profile specifically for these types of dishes, as long as you have a fondue pot that handles high temperatures, you will be able to safely make this dish.






kelpTo start you will need to decide what type of broth you would like to make. I used Kombu, which is kelp seaweed and makes this broth a Kombu Dashi. Some other options are to make a mushroom based or fish based broth.

1 – 4 inch piece of kombu is all you need. Soak in water for at least 30 minutes. Then bring it to a gentle boil and let simmer for an hour or longer either in your fondue pot or stove top. The longer you keep it, the stronger the flavor. At this point I kind of freaked out because I did not like the flavor at all! But I stuck with it and boy was I pleasantly surprised. The kelp adds what many call Umami. It adds a rich undertone of flavor. Now remove the kelp and add mushrooms and sliced vegetables to the broth. Pick what you like but start with hardy items like carrots and diakon radishes. I was able to get my hands on some burdock root and rainbow carrots which were a fun treat. Once cooked, add more delicate veggies like green onion, bok choy, spinach, and so on. I also decided to add a tablespoon of Organic Fermented Red Miso Paste. Because it is soy, it is really important to only use organic fermented soy for health reasons.


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Family Fun Night – French Fries & Board Games



Our family tries to make a point of having a Family Fun Night once a week. It usually ends up being a game night but sometimes it is a movie night or a “fancy” food night at home. I”m always looking for a way to inexpensively do something fun. This week is crazy fry dipping sauce night with games.

No matter what your dietary needs are you can make this work. You can use regular store-bought fries, homemade fries, sweet potato, avocado, zucchini, onion rings, really whatever works for you. Fries can be baked, pan, or deep-fried. It really is as simple or complicated as you want to make it.

The fun part is all the sauces. If you or your children are creative, let loose and experiment. Some may be totally disgusting -that’s part of the fun – but some may become your new favorite thing. My suggested starting items to mix and match are:



Worcestershire Sauce

Garlic Powder



All Purpose Seasoning

Sriacha (For heat lovers)


BBQ Sauce

Of course, you can add anything else you’d like. Pickle relish, herbs, smoked salts, and bacon bits have all been great additions at some point in our home. Another option is to make a buffet and have chili, shredded chicken, cheese, green onions, onions, bell peppers, olives, sour cream, mac and cheese sauce, or any other favorite toppings available and turn it into a full meal.

If you prefer to have a recipe, take a look at my French Fry Sauce board on Pinterest.











All that is left is to pick which game to play!


Decorating On A Dime – Making a Decorating Journal


I love traditions and I love new things too. I think that about describes me pretty well. I feel a need to never lose sight of the past while embracing the future, find ways of keeping the important things of the past and yet not requiring everything to be exactly the same year after year.

I try to be very frugal and I’ve made mistakes, sometimes big ones. I’ve taken the route of buying things because I liked them only to realize it didn’t really work for my home or long term plans. You know those cute little angelic figurines of children playing that take up space, require more dusting than any human should have to do, and works with absolutely no decor?  Yes, I went there…. for years. It would be one thing if they just filled me with so much joy every time I saw them but they didn’t. I just thought they were very pretty. I had to sit down and come up with a plan of action to keep me focused and I’d like to share it with you.

  • Take some time and think about your vision for your home. What is the overall feel you are going for. Rustic? Modern? A cultural theme? Mediterranean? Beach inspired? If you are not sure start by writing down things that you love looking at. Look online for decorating ideas and make note of what you like. From here, narrow down your vision for each room. Some people like to have a different over all them per room, others like it to flow through the whole home.
  • What is your color scheme? Take cues from your home vision. Go to your paint shop or paint department and pick up swatches, then look at them in the room(s) you are planning to use them in. You may find you like the color in one room but not in another.
  • Make a Binder or use a Day Planner, preferably one with pockets. You can use binder dividers with pockets and page protector sleeves.  Have one section per room. Don’t forget to make a section for you porch or patio, garden, as well as for the general outside of your home. I’ve settled on a slightly larger than purse sized planner that zips up so I can take with me. Many stores now carry a variety of pocket sized accessories for day planners that are very useful for this purpose.
  • For each room have a pocket or page protector to fill with ‘inspiration’ clippings. Have a second one for samples you actually use. I keep curtain packaging (Picture, model, color info), furniture tags, paint swatches I use, and any other important key piece info. This allows me to reorder or find complimentary colors.
  • If possible, have a few sheets of paper/ card stock for each room too. This is especially important if you use a custom paint color as you can paint it right on the card stock and can be used to get an accurate sample. In my living room I used a color wash technique. I was able to paint a sample of it and then on the card stock next to it  I wrote the proportions and techniques used. You can also take photographs of any key elements or make pencil drawings with exact measurements.
  • Keep your eyes open year round. You may find the perfect item for Christmas in June. Make it a habit to check out thrift stores, flea markets, and garage sales. Some items might need a little love but when you are saving 90% over the brand new price, it is a small thing. Most of the decorations in my home cost me under $5.
  • Only buy something if it speaks to your soul. There are plenty of beautiful things, but not everything will work for your home, and even less will “speak” to you. Never buy something for the “meantime”.  If I spent $5 on something for this Christmas and intend to get something better for next year, I’ve wasted those $5. It is better to do without than settle. By only investing in what deeply moves me I’ve saved so much money!
  • Pray. It might sound silly but I always make a list of things I’m looking for and pray that if God wants to bless me and my family with it, I would be happy to receive it. One year I had $10 to buy my husband a birthday gift. He he had been talking about how much fun it would be to have a compound bow for target practice but couldn’t see spending the money on it. I prayed before going garage sale shopping asking the Lord if He would help me find the perfect gift for my husband and if somehow that would be a compound bow for $10. As I was driving, I ‘just happened’ to see a garage sale sign out of the corner of my eye. I had stopped with my boys and walked around when we saw it. A bow case. We opened it and there was a perfect compound bow and it’s arrows inside. I almost dared not hope. The woman told us her husband only used it once and didn’t like it. I braced myself as I asked her the price. She said, “How about $10?” I think I almost fainted. Needless to say, I bought it. When we took it to a shop we found out it was worth $350 and it was in perfect shape. Talk about God blessing us in all ways!
  • Storage. Do you have room for storage? Determine just how much space you are willing to use for seasonal item storage. This will put into perspective that desire for the 8 foot teddy bear with a Santa hat.
  • Determine a budget. Use a coin jar for spare change or set aside a little from each pay check. It doesn’t have to be much. Just .50 cents can add up. Find what works for your family and your budget then stick to it.
  • Have fun! Decorating should be a joy. It’s about filling your home with visual reminders of God’s beauty. If it stresses you, change how you do it.

Remember that you can modify any or all of this to make it work for you. You might consider making a digital version using a tool like Evernote for when you forget to take your binder with you. However I suggest to keep the hard copy as digital images can leave something to be desired when color matching.

Do you have an idea or suggestion to add to this? Leave a comment with your ideas.


Salt Cured Lime Peel

I love citrus fruits. Oranges, lemons, and limes are my favorites. I will find an excuse to put them into anything. One day, while looking to find another way to add citrus to a meal without driving my children crazy, I came across a most delicious recipe for a warm kale salad and paprika toasted chickpea salad. It had a most unusual, to me, ingredient. Salted lemon peel. I immediately had to try it and I was hooked. They add a rich citrus note to just about any dish. I started making salted peels for oranges and limes as well. It is simple to make and take only a few days for the curing.

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New Years Eve Family Party Ideas

After the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations and gatherings, New Year’s Eve has become a laid back family game day in our home.

Everyone can sleep in as late as they want to. Games upon games come out and we each take turns picking a game to play with everyone. Everyone can have one game that we add to the “Not Playing” list.  When it is your turn to pick the game, you can pick any game except for a game on that list. Alternately, you can have a set of games to choose from.



All foods are finger foods. I’d like to say that we only eat healthy finger foods like strawberries and bananas or that I make beautiful appetizers from scratch. Nope. Not on NYE. This is the one day that we severely reduce all food restrictions in our home. While I still have healthy options available, the whole point of the day is to relax and enjoy each other. No running around cooking. I might make some homemade salsa or cookies the day or two before. Chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, chips and dip, Costco bulk appetizers, and fondue are the usual NYE foods. For the most part, everything just needs to be opened and put in the oven to cook or poured onto a plate or bowl.



We also make fun child friendly drinks. You can dip the rims of your glasses into melted chocolate and then into sprinkles. When dried, fill with milk or a milkshake.

We’ve also make beverages mixing sodas and juices.


Sometimes we will make some crafts for NYE. We’ve done Christmas Crackers filled with confetti which are extremely easy to make.

Take empty bathroom tissue tubes, fill with confetti (or candy, or whatever you’d like), using tissue paper (or wrapping paper) wrap around the tube leaving a few inches extra on each side. Using ribbon, gather the extra paper and tie it with a few knots or small bow. Repeat on the other side. When midnight comes, pull the sides apart and confetti will fall!



You can make your own noise makers, balloon drop and even hourly project packs. You can make confetti cake or confetti cookies in advance to free up your day.

The key is EASY. If it can be done in advance…great! But on NYE, nothing time consuming. Nothing that takes you away from your family.

My favorite idea is the Blessing Jar or Thankful Jar. This is a large candy-type jar or container that sits in a somewhat conspicuous location along with a pad of paper and a pen. Throughout the year as someone receives a blessing, they write it out, fold it up, and place it in the jar. (For younger children crayons and drawing paper can be used or children can ask someone older to write out the blessing.) Then, on NYE, you read all the blessing of the past year.


For more ideas on celebrating New Years with your family visit my NYE Pinterest board. All links in this post are to Pinterest ideas. Enjoy and have a Happy & Blessed New Year! 🙂


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