Monday, December 31, 2007
For years the Kenmore Progressive has been one of the top rated reasonably priced canisters. My mom--a connoisseur of vacuum cleaners--has one and likes it a lot. So I figured when mine finally gave up the ghost, I'd buy one, too. But guess what? Sears doesn't make that model anymore and their new one's have not yet been rated by those who rate vacuums! Lovely. So I tried the Sears outlet--nope. Tried looking for the next best rated canister--a Hoover Windtunnel Bagless number--at Sears, Meijer, and Target--nada. And by the end of the hunt we were all irritable, hungry, and cold.
This is where you come in, delightful friends. And this is time for you lurkers to come out of hiding! In order to help my family have a happy and clean new year, please tell me what type of cleaning machine you use, if you 'd recommend it or not, and why.
As a thank you I will randomly pick three names from the comment list and send you a sample packet of my favorite chili mix. If you don't have a blogger account, be sure to send me an email (click the cute little birdie on the right) with your email address so I can let you know if you win.
Blessings on thee and a happy new year to you and yours!
Sunday, December 30, 2007
My new little bag holds most everything I need for my study--Bible, pen, colored pencils, notebook, and book.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
My folks have been here for a week and are probably longing for the quietness of their own home.
My children desperately need to return to the discipline of school. Their listless wandering are driving me nuts. They lay sprawled out on our library floor, surrounded by mounds of legos, and listened to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in its entirety today.
And my dear husband has spent the last week (and probably will spend the next one) in Sissy's bathroom or at Home Depot. He abhors home improvement and is not at all experienced--grew up with a sister and a single mom in apartments--but in order to avoid the cost of a professional he's replacing the whole thing himself. We are very thankful for my dad's expertise and step by step instructions as well as the generosity of our friends with their tools and time.
So what's next for me? On the practical side of life, Monica's list has been driving me crazy! So I've cleaned out the crawl space, reorganized my craft closet, and am planning to de-clutter a room a month in 2008. (There, I put it in writing. Lord, help me!) I've created a pattern for a messenger bag for the new Bible JT gave me for Christmas and now I need to sew it. And I've started to read Passionate Housewives Desperate for God. On the spiritual side, I'm purposing to take a closer look this year at what it means for me to be in the world and not of it. It's very hard to find the balance. I either want to be in the world or not of it, but haven't yet figured out how to be both.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
For those of you who are saying "so what?" this is a genuine hardwood library truck that retails for $265 at Gaylords. A homeschoolers dream!
Years ago when my dad worked for a major accounting firm he salvaged it from their trash where it ended up on account of a bum wheel bracket. He fixed it for my mom and she's used it in their church library. Mom recently resigned her post as church librarian and brought me the treasure, knowing I'd value both the truck and the fact that it was a trash pick.
Thanks Mom and Dad! Now to fill it with books!
Friday, December 21, 2007
I love you, JT! Happy birthday!
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
I have to admit, my first thought was, "what is this world coming to?" and my second, like unto it, "what is all of these young famous single people having babies saying to our youth?" But I'm kinda thinking that's the response of the stereo-typical hand wringing, hole yourself up until Jesus comes back or you die kind of Christian I'm really trying not to be.
Purity was not "in" in my day, but the lack of it was still referred to as "promiscuity" and in general, we hid our exploits from parents and friends. Now close encounters are expected if not encouraged by friends and parents alike. We live in a different world, and no amount of bemoaning will change that. So how do we bring the gospel to the kids (and their parents) in our neighborhoods who see these types of extracurricular activity as no different than a game of ping pong? Do we see them as moral pariahs or ripe for the good news?
On the bright side, all these pregnant celebs are, despite many of their political views, practicing pro-lifers. And I guess if it takes Jamie Lynn Spears, Jessica Alba, and Nichole Richie (to name just a few) to reduce the traffic at Planned Parenthood, so be it. Do I think that they're suddenly turning into responsible, self-sacrificing people? Not for a moment. But the obvious search for the next best thing among our idols, be it finding new love or creating new life, seems to be a wide open door for the gospel. We need to be asking Diana Ross's famous question, "do you know where you're going to, do you like the things that life is showing you, where are you going to, do you know?" And we need to have the answer, not only with Bible verses, but with our lives. We can't impart what we don't possess. Christ fills the void that people have tried to fill with love and are now trying to fill with offspring because He restores our broken relationship with our Heavenly Father. I've got the answer, now who'm I gonna tell?
Without the stupid comedy, potty jokes, and political messages found in so many of today's movies for kids, The Water Horse was pure family entertainment. I did count two occurrences of language not appropriate at our house and there was some drinking and smoking, but let's not forget this is a Hollywood production and it's supposed to take place in Scotland, for goodness sake.
So, in our opinion, it gets 8 thumbs up. And thanks Grace Hill Media!
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
After a few tries, I think I've found a recipe that duplicates the wonderful taste of yesteryear.
(a slight variation on Brenda's recipe found here, which she originally found here--you know, credit to whom it is due!)
6 cups water
1/2 tsp. whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
In a saucepan, bring water, cinnamon, and cloves to a boil. Add tea bags, remove from heat, and steep 10 minutes. Cool slightly, then strain out spices. In another saucepan, bring sugar, orange juice, and lemon juice to a boil. Combine tea and juice mixtures. Chill and serve over ice.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
But on a cold night like this we need some good hot vittles to warm us up. Here's my menu:
6 Tbs. butter
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
3-4 Tbsp. flour
1 qt. half and half
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 lb. frozen corn
2 cans (4 cups) chicken stock
1 lb. diced cooked ham
dash cayenne pepper
green onions, chopped
(adapted from a recipe found in The Occasional Cook, by Cyndy Salzmann)
3 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. oil
1 tsp. salt
2 cups flour
1 cup oatmeal
2 tsp. active dry yeast
Monday, December 10, 2007
Yet while the clutter and the dirt makes me nuts, cleaning it up is not what makes it a haven. Having a home where my family wants to be is what makes it a haven. Crystal has made a point of reminding her readers of this and a book by the same name, Making Your Home a Haven, by Cyndy Salzmann, has encouraged me a great deal in this area. I am a perfectionist, and a home where a perfectionist lives is rarely a haven! Instead it is a place where everything must be done to ideal specifications, where visitors are only invited when things are up to snuff, and where it all hits the fan if "mama ain't happy". This is a huge chunk of my personality that must be mortified, but like all living sacrifices, I keep crawling off the altar! Cyndy has helped me to put it all in perspective, to see that just as God wants my heart not just my deeds, my family needs a mommy not just a maid.
God willing, we will have a lovely Christmas season, but not because everything gets done in a Martha Stewart kind of way and our house is ready for guests, but because we've imperfectly decorated the tree and the cookies together, sat down each night and talked about the incarnation of Christ, and truly loved as He loved us--by dwelling together.
Friday, December 7, 2007
So this is what I've come up with:
Our table needed a centerpiece that was easy and festive and could stand up to three children. I took a tray I've had for years, put clear glass marbles in some of the tray's divots, and added a 25-cent ring of artificial berries and beads from the thrift store to one of my usual table candles. Fire and ice!
We live in a raised ranch and I needed a focal point that would draw visitors' eyes upstairs instead of into the basement when they come in the front door. I took my kids' old rocking horse (purchased 9 years ago by my mother at a garage sale) and painted it red with some spray paint we'd used on a trash-pick wagon. I distressed it with some sand paper around the edges and added some decorations I'd found at the dollar store.
While I'm not Martha Stewart, I'm pretty pleased with the outcome. Who says you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear? Oink!
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Last night I finished up the gifts for the folks at my husband's office. Don't the jars look festive? I usually make chocolate goodies but this year wanted something different. My mom made this jam for me when rhubarb was fresh. It was so tasty and beautifully colored that I thought it would make perfect Christmas gifts, so I chopped up some of my rhubarb and put it in the freezer. Besides, it was so easy!
1.5 cups sugar
1 (3oz) package cherry Jello
1 (21oz) can cherry pie filling
Combine sugar and rhubarb in a large saucepan and let it sit of 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally. Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in Jello until dissolved. Add pie filling. Transfer to jars and cool. Cover and store in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Makes 8 cups.
I put the jam into $1 jars I found at Big Lots and tied on tags I found at Razzle Dazzle Recipe's Artist's Cafe with a raffia ribbon. Voila!
Sunday, December 2, 2007
1. Do you put up a real tree or artificial? Artificial (with lights already on it!)
2. When do you put up your tree? The first weekend of Advent
3. When do you take down the tree? After Epiphany
4. Do you like eggnog? If yes, spiked or not? No, yuk!
5. Favorite gift received as a child? My Friend Mandy Doll who now belongs to Sissy and, oddly enough, looks just like her!
6. Worst Christmas gift ever received? A salad spinner from my husband the year I was expecting an engagement ring. I still have the salad spinner, and did eventually get the ring!
7. Favorite Christmas movie? Charlie Brown Christmas and Treasures of the Snow
8. Have you ever recycled a present? Yup, but not to or from you :~)
9. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Why, cookies, of course!
10. Favorite Christmas song? Once in Royal David's City
11.Most annoying thing about this time of year? Shopping
12. What you love most about the holiday? Focusing on the first coming of Christ and re-examining all the prophecy surrounding it in the Old Testament
13. How many reindeer did Santa have? Who's Santa? If you mean Sani, why, none. He comes in a garbage truck every Thursday and we set out our packages for him on Garbage Eve.
14. Best Christmas memory? The childhood excitement of Christmas Eve and the delight of waking early to find my stocking full of goodies on my bed.
15. If you could have one Christmas wish what would it be? That Christ would come to the hearts of all my loved ones
As is the case with all of these little treats, I am compelled to pass it on. So Lizzy, Rebecca, and Monica, you're it!