Thursday, May 31, 2007

Veils Christians Wear, Part 2

Again, from Authentic Christianity by Ray Steadman:

Another common Christian veil is sensitivity or touchiness. People who are touchy or excessively sensitive are easily hurt by the words or actions of others. They must be handled with kid gloves lest they take offense. And when offended, they suffer agonies of spirit and tend to wallow in a morass of self-pity. Their explanation of such agony is always the "thoughlessness" or "rudeness" of others, but in reality it is their own protest at not being given the attention or prominence that they're sure they deserve.

P.S. I don't think Batman really embodies the style of this blog very well, but he sure had a secret identity, didn't he?!

Part 1
Part 3
Part 4

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Veils Christians Wear, Part 1

In his book Authentic Christianity, Ray Steadman talks about the "veils" Christians wear--those things we hide behind to disguise what is really going on inside.

Here's one veil he discusses:

Self-righteousness is a particularly noxious form of Christian pride. It seizes upon some biblical standard of conduct and takes pride in own ability to measure up externally while conveniently overlooking any failure of the inner life to conform. The end result is a smug, patronizing, and even nasty attitude toward anyone who does not meet the standard. Self-righteousness is also the sin of the person who nags another, for the nagger is focusing on a single point of conduct and ignores the areas in his or her own lifewhere a similar failure is occuring.

Part 2
Part 3

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cookies for a Crowd

We were invited to a get-together Sunday afternoon, and I planned to bring brownies. When I got the ingredients out, my cocoa container was almost empty. Ack! What to do! I didn't have much in the house to bake with.

Snickerdoodles were the answer. Rich, buttery, moist, special, but with the most basic ingredient list. They were fast to make and everyone liked them. We didn't bring any leftovers home.

Recipe below!


3 c. sugar
1 lb. butter
4 eggs
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 t. cream of tartar
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt

1. Heat oven to 350.

2. Mix sugar, butter, and eggs in a large bowl. Stir in dry ingredients.

3. Shape dough in to 1 1/4 inch balls. Roll in cinnamon sugar (1/2 cup sugar mixed with a few t. cinnamon). Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.

4. Bake about 13 minutes or until set. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.

I see now that in addition to changing some of the ingredients, I've changed the temp and baking time from the original recipe. They were great and popular, so I guess it worked!

I Want a Robot!

I'm not a techie person, and normally I'm pretty content--I can count on one hand I've really wanted something that cost over $100. But when friends were singing the praises of their scoobas...And they told me they sell for around $150, refurbished...Well, the scooba has made my wish list! One of my greatest sources of frustration has been not having time to keep my floor properly mopped. This is a very large house, with mostly hard floors. It takes about an hour to mop the floor, and once it's mopped it's dirty again in no time (3 kids six and under!). Besides, the string mop is so heavy that I just end up smearing dirty water over the floors again because I can't wring it out thoroughly. Swiffer has too much ongoing expense. My own personal floor-mopping robot sounds pretty darn great. Anybody have a scooba?

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Talk

Barbara Curtis, mom of 12, has a great 3-part series on having "The Talk" with your kids. You know, The Talk. Yeah, that one.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Healthy "Ice Cream"

I thought of this while I was reading Carrien's blog, The Real Food Revolution. A reader wondered how to satistfy her craving for creamy, smooth, or fluffy treats.

This raw vegan "ice cream" has got to be the best kept secret of the vegan world. It makes my carnivorous husband nervous when I use the term vegan ("vegans are weird"), so I'll clarify that I'm not vegan or even vegetarian, but I do have a child with dairy and sugar sensitivities, so recipes like this one are a boon. Everyone in my family loves animal products of all kinds, but they also love this creamy, good-for-you treat. I have to credit my sis who first told me about it.

So you're wondering how to make it, right? (BTW, the picture really does not do it justice. It was snapped in haste.)

Peel and freeze a bunch of very ripe bananas. I freeze them on a cookie sheet so they don't stick together and then tranfer them to a ziploc bag.

When you're ready to make the "ice cream," chunk a couple frozen bananas up and blend in the blender with a little water or rice milk or whatever liquid you have on hand. Just pulse it slowly till it's nice and creamy, and I promise you, it will have the exact consistency of soft serve ice cream. You can eat it plain...Add a little vanilla...a glob of nut butter...a few frozen strawberries (as pictured)...a spoonful of carob powder...Lots of possibilities. Soooo yummy.

I was amazed at how good it was. We served this to friends the other night, and they tell me that their freezer is now full of frozen bananas, too. You don't have to be a health food nut to enjoy this.

By the way, Carrien also has a great post up about making the decision to eat right, which I needed today. I read it while I finished lunch...A hot dog, mac & cheese, and a cookie. Ahem!

Smart or Wise?

Recently I was in a social gathering where intelligence was highly regarded. Much of the conversation revolved around who was the smartest, who had the highest GPA in high school and college, who had attended what university, and so forth. By the end of the conversation the “less smart” people were apologizing for their supposed lack of intelligence and their community college attendance. (Those who hadn’t been to college at all didn’t dare speak up.) The sad part was that this was a Christian gathering, where, of all places, everyone should feel welcome and valued, regardless of IQ or education. Being “insane smart” shouldn’t even make the brag list.

I thought of I Corinthians 1:26-31, which says,

Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don't see many of "the brightest and the best" among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn't it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these "nobodies" to expose the hollow pretensions of the "somebodies"? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That's why we have the saying, "If you're going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God." (The Message)

Now there’s nothing wrong with intelligence or education. In fact, getting a good education is important for lots of reasons. I’m married to a very smart guy, and I’ll be pleased if my kids are smart. But it’s not the most important thing. You can be as smart as can be, but lack wisdom. You can have all the education in the world, and no common sense. I know some people whom most people would consider ignorant who have great wisdom and good sense. While I believe intelligence and education are some of God’s good gifts, I’d far rather have God’s kind of right thinking, the wisdom He promises to give if we just ask, with a heart of humility and love.

I Corinthians 13:2 says,

“If I…know all mysteries and all knowledge…but do not have love, I am nothing.” (NASB)

It’s good to know that God loves and values us all equally, whether we’re “the brightest and best” or whether we come from humble circumstances, whether we are smart or dumb, whether we’re well educated or not. It’s good to know that He loved the world, not just the smart people of the world. It’s good to know that He came to earth to be raised in a simple, common family, just like many of us. It’s good to know that when he looks at us, He’s not looking at our IQs, but our souls.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

My House

Before we moved, when Billy suggested the idea of renting for a few years, I sat down and cried. I so wanted our own home. But I gave it to God, saw wisdom in the idea, and accepted it, even though I figured we'd have to downsize and live someplace less than ideal.

Well, God surprised me and gave us a home better than I could have imagined. I love this place, and I'm not anxious to leave. Sure, we'd like to buy a place some day, but for now, I'm loving it here. Here's a little peek at a couple of my favorite features in the living room.

French doors

Front door, inside the covered porch

Front door stained glass

I'm reminded of this poem. My home is certainly not a trial, but the trial was letting go of what I wanted and accepting what God wanted. His provision is so much better than anything I could have forced on my own!

In Acceptance Lieth Peace
In acceptance lieth peace,
indent.gif (54 bytes)0 my heart wilt thou be still,
Let my restless worries cease,
indent.gif (54 bytes)and I'll accept His will;
Though this test be not my choice,
indent.gif (54 bytes)It is His, therefore rejoice:
In acceptance lieth peace,
indent.gif (54 bytes)In acceptance lieth peace.
In this plan there cannot be
indent.gif (54 bytes)Aught to make me sad;
If this is His will for me,
indent.gif (54 bytes)I'll take it and be glad,
Make from it some lovely thing
indent.gif (54 bytes)To the glory of my King,
In acceptance lieth peace,
indent.gif (54 bytes)In acceptance lieth peace.
Cease from sighs and murmurings,
indent.gif (54 bytes)Sing His wondrous loving grace;
Every trial brings furthering,
indent.gif (54 bytes)For my celestial place;
From my fears take His release,
indent.gif (54 bytes)Joys and happiness increase;
In acceptance lieth peace,
indent.gif (54 bytes)In acceptance lieth peace.

By Hannah Hurnard and Alberta Knoch

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Case for Skirts

I love skirts! I love my jeans, too, but somehow there’s nothing quite like wearing a skirt. My girls love their skirts and dresses too. In fact, it’s usually like pulling teeth to get Elizabeth to wear jeans.

Here are three good reasons to wear a skirt, at least every now and then (or in my case, more days than not).

They’re cool. Air flow is good, something you don’t get with jeans or even shorts. Nice, since I now live where it’s summer for 80% of the year and spring for the rest of the year.

They’re comfortable. I don’t mean polyester suit skirts (blech, painful). Soft cottons with sensible waist options are a lot easier to wear than jeans, in my opinion. Skirts don’t have to be high-maintenance either. I pretty much don’t own any that I can’t throw in the dryer and wear as they are.

They’re feminine. I’m glad God made me a woman, and I like to dress like one. My girls are happy to be girls too, with all the roles and privileges that entails. Even if your style idiom is sporty, or you don’t consider yourself a girly-girl, there are lots of cute skirts to choose from. I suppose it might feel “dressed up” to wear a skirt if you’re used to only wearing them to church or special occasions (if that). But if you give it a try, I bet it will feel good to spread a little feminine grace. Besides, there’s nothing like a pretty A-line to cover figure flaws (I should know). Did I mention that I like dressing like a girl?

I don’t wear skirts for religious reasons anymore, and there’s no moral basis for my preference—it’s just practical and aesthetic. Nevertheless, I’m usually happiest and most comfortable in a skirt. It’s true that you can do almost anything in a skirt that you can do in jeans. For the odd job or activity to which that doesn’t apply, thank heaven for nice-fitting jeans, which are totally cute too.

P.S. Wal-Mart has some adorable, modest girls’ cotton skirts in many great colors right now. At $12 they are pretty reasonable. Here are a couple Elizabeth got yesterday.

Love the petticoat!

Pink eyelet. Disregard yogurt spills on shirt...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

New Blog

My friend Melissa in Guatemala has a new blog, Seeking the Forgotten. She works with orphans and their adoptive families, and recently adopted her own little daughter. I've known Melissa for many years. Her beautiful spirit and love for Jesus have inspired me many times. We haven't been in touch lately, so I was beyond excited to get and email from her yesterday telling about her new blog. Pay her a visit!

Girl Stuff

I've been inspired by the cloth pennant bunting I've been seeing around lately. Here's a good example. So pretty! I plan to make some for the girls' room...Nothing fancy, but sweet and feminine.

Is it just a Southern thing, or do little girls everywhere wear big bows? I've noticed that the deeper I get into the South, the more big bows I see. I even use them on my own girls from time to time. Punkinhead Hairwear is a great new online store for pretty bows in any color you can imagine. Reasonably priced too!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Paul Revere

Elizabeth has been studying Early American History over the past few months. Instead of verbal narration one day, I let her draw a picture of what we read about. Here's her illustration of Paul Revere's Ride.

Incidentally, our state's Grade Level Expectations require almost nothing for first grade history. If I recall correctly, children should only be able to differentiate between historical and modern times, particularly modes of transportation. Amazing to me. Kids soak up historical adventure like sponges at this age.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Out and About

The Dangerous Book for Boys is now available at Sam's, and we have our very own copy. Woohoo!!! Check out the video here. Love it.

Lindsey has a great 3-part article about learning to be content at home.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Anna has a short but oh-so-encouraging piece about homeschooling. She doesn't talk about homeschooling very much on her lovely blog, but recently her 15-year-old son Giles got a 33 on his ACT and received a full scholarship for this fall. This post was in response to some questions she received regarding her success as a homeschool mother. One of the most helpful things I've read in quite awhile.

Giles plans to be a photographer. You can see his amazing work on Anna's blog, and also on his own, here.

I met Mrs. Mobunny several years ago on a parenting message board (which I no longer visit; that's another story). Although we frequently "locked horns" in disagreement, I couldn't help but love her. She was always gracious and so likeable. She sent me a big box of little girls' patterns one time, which I still use. And recently she wrote a wonderful bit of teaching your sons to have a good work ethic. She begins:

We have been surrounded by cement for a majority of our married life. This means that our children have also been surrounded by the same thing. We have never lived on a farm, by a farm, or anything like a farm. We don't have a 2 acre garden, we don't raise llamas, we don't build fences for cattle and we don't have barb wire fences that need attention. We've never had chickens that needed a hen-house or a goat that needed a shed. The closest we've come to having 'animals' has been two bunnies in our back yard. And yes, when we had them, Daniel took care of them.

So, what do you do with boys that are not in an environment that causes them to run in flowery meadows with collie dogs, dig holes for fences or paint boats? You FIND things for them to do.

Near the end, she says:

So, don't do your boys a disservice by letting them lay around and read, watch TV, play video games, be idle, whine about the heat, or try to have them do domestic things to expel their energy. Boys need more than that. Don't cause them to be soft, don't allow them to prefer somebody else do the hard things.

The middle is worth reading. (By the way, I assume the part about tying sisters up is tongue in cheek...I can sure see my guy trying to do that...LOL)

I'm re-reading my battered softcover copy of Mama's Way by Thyra Ferre Bjorn. Beg, borrow, or steal--no, better not steal--a copy. It's a short and easy read, but one of the sweetest faith-building books I've ever read. She gets to the heart.

Last night I ran into a lady from church while I was trying to find my 6-year-old shoes that look like they should belong to a little girl and not like a, well, um...don't want to attract unsavory google I'll just say that I didn't want them to look too grown up, much less like something that should belong to an unwholesome grown-up. That started a conversation about modest dress, a passion we apparently share. This sweet young grandmother said, "Once, just out of curiosity, I googled 'modest clothing'. My word, it looked like something for the Amish!" She's right. It's hard to find something in the middle...Modest, but up-to-date. Here are a couple lovely companies that have stylish, modest options. Beautiful.

Christa Taylor
(This company gives 30% of profits to Christian missions.)

Shade Clothing

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Hello Mr. Alligator!

This little guy was hanging around when we went fishing the other day.

He thought he'd try to take a bite of Silas' cork! But then he spit it out. After awhile he got bored and left.

This living with gators is going to take some getting used to.

Our Garden

Since we have about 10 feet of back yard in this house, how's this for a garden? The kids had such fun helping me plant and water. I'm afraid our plants might die from too much love. I hope not. I really want some fresh tomatoes.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Letting Go of Perfectionism

This first part was written Friday...

The other day I posted about letting go of perfectionism when I created the sign for my kitchen. Here's another example of accepting imperfection and enjoying something even when it's not just right. This is a pretty silver tea pot that I found on a "free" table at an antique shop. Yes, free! In my world, antiques for zero dollars are a good thing.

It has a tarnished place on the front that won't come off even with cleaning, and although it's hard to see, one of the feet is broken off. I've balanced it with a tiny stack of cardboard pieces that hopefully aren't too noticeable in real life. I think it's pretty, even though it's not pristine. It has character. Sometimes you have to look past the imperfection and see the possibilities.

On a different, but related note...

This weekend a new acquaintance and her family are coming for supper. I'm once again having to let go of perfectionism. I've been to my new friend's house. It's without a doubt the cleanest and most organized home I've ever been in. Even the gas cans in the garage are arranged in graduating order by size. It's beautifully decorated. A wonderful place! I would love to be that organized, that good of a housekeeper, but I'm not. I could beat my brains out trying to achieve an unrealistic level of perfection (which would be an exercise in futility anyway), or just not have them over because I feel intimidated. Both options are silly. I've had to come to a place of peace about my imperfect homemaking skills and realize that as long as my house is reasonably clean and orderly, I can cut myself some slack. Maybe I'll be perfectly organized one day. Right now I'm not. I have to live with that and not let it keep me from sharing my home with others. People are more important than perfection.



We had a lovely visit. As I cleaned, continued to unpack, (yes, still), and got ready for our guests I kept having to prioritize and knock less-important tasks off the list. A few minutes before they were due to arrive I felt near tears at all I hadn't gotten done, but I had to force myself to accept that everything wouldn't be just right. As it was, Billy helped me a ton and cooked supper (fried fish, yum!), so I couldn't have gotten that far without him. What a guy!

We had a wonderful evening! My friend kept using terms like, "A wonderful place to relaxing...homey...cozy..." I couldn't believe it. I felt so encouraged. I had to practice what I preach and realize that everything really doesn't have to be exactly perfect to extend hospitality. Yay!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Oh. My.

I can't believe I didn't know about this before. The Vintage Pattern Lending Library.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Family Heirlooms and Design Idiom

This pie safe is a beautiful family heirloom that Billy inherited. How nice to marry a bachelor with such lovely furniture, yes? The simple craftsman style fit so nicely with our old 1950's home.

Before it was always in the kitchen, and it was filled with dried beans, empty cannisters, and other seldom-used kitchen stuff. With the move, I repurposed it. (Lots of repurposing going on, can you tell?) Now it holds my fabric, vintage quilts, and stationery. Children's books are in the bottom.

Our craftsman furniture looks a bit out of place in this house, which has more French and Edwardian influence (as nearly as I can tell; I'm no expert). Recently I've really come to love the cottage/shabby chic look, which appeals to my romantic side I guess. That look would be perfect for this place. However, I won't be going that direction in decorating for several reasons. First, this is a temporary home. Second, the shabby chic motif is too feminine for Billy's taste, and I'm a firm believer that our home should represent both of us. And last, our best pieces of furniture are craftsman, which really is a wonderful and timeless style. So craftsman it is!

Simple Craft: Repurpose a Sign

This is a sign that used to hang in my kitchen. I liked the look, and yes it was funny--but not very motivating. I thought it might have served its time, till I had an idea.

I popped the board out of the frame and flipped it over. Painted the frame white and the board pale blue. Penciled "Simplicity" on the board and painted it in a darker blue. Popped the board back in the frame and hung it up!

I've always wanted a sign in my kitchen that said Simplicity. But here's the thing. I didn't have a sign, didn't know how to stencil, didn't have the proper supplies. This was a time to ask, "What do I have in my hand?"

As mentioned, I repurposed the sign I already had. I had an assortment of kids paint, but nothing the right color--so I mixed my own on a paper plate. (While I was stirring, I kept hearing Julia Roberts say, as she did in Ocean's 12, "That's too oxblood.") Tempera white and Crayola washable kids mystery paint in royal blue--would it work? Didn't know till I tried!

The only brushes I had were a couple kids plastic brushes, you know, the kind that come in the little watercolor kits. But hey--it was what I had.

And I freehanded the lettering. All this meant that I had to let go of perfectionism and having it come out just right. But how fulfilling to have a pretty new piece of art, expressing the sentiment I've always wanted, for free! It's not perfect, but I like it. You don't have to spend a lot of money to be creative!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Makes Me Smile

A couple weeks ago I got a package in the mail from my sis with this way cute retro apron she made, plus two 1950's cookbooks. You should have heard me scream! Love it.

Monday, May 07, 2007


I have a new obsession. The kind and ever-helpful Rebecca told me how to install a site meter, and now, what fun to check it and see where all these people are coming from! About a fourth to a third of my visitors are Google hits, how about that? Now if the rest of you lurkers would just come out of the woodwork! Maybe if I offer a giveaway?

Since moving to a tropical climate (there's a banana tree in my yard) I've really wanted to grow fresh salad greens, but I've been at a loss as to what to plant that will thrive during the 9 months of the year it's 80 degrees and above. The kind folks at Homesteading Today suggested Malabar Spinach and Amaranth, so I'm off to order some seeds. Will report on results later.

Also along the lines of growing nutritious food, the kids and I started some wheat sprouts today, using these instructions. They are simple and non-intimidating. Sprouting is *such* a cheap way to get superfood. I hope we're successful.

My friend Erica, who blogs at Fishbowl Sense points us to this article, which tells what stay-at-home moms are worth. Over $138,000 a year! Wow!

The iMonk has a great piece up on family meals. I don't always agree with him, but he's often worth considering, and overall this one was great.

Finally, but not least, Sara has some beautiful thoughts on the Proverbs 31 woman. She's far more green than I am or probably ever will be, but I love her heart to be a good steward of God's creation and to follow Him wholeheartedly. And I love her blog's new look, too.

That's it for now. Hope you find some inspiration among all the butchered grammar and punctuation here today. Somehow my brain's a bit fuzzy. My glasses are broken; probaby once they're fixed I'll write more clearly too.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Finding Time for Me

I used to think that the idea of finding time for myself was selfish. And I think that if it's something we demand, or if time for ourselves causes our families to suffer, then it is selfish. But everyone needs a little time alone to do something to nourish the soul. As a busy mom, that time is hard to find. No spa days for me!

There are 2 little times I set aside for myself. First, I take a few minutes after lunch when the babies go down for their naps (Elizabeth doesn't nap; she has quiet time) just to surf around online, mostly reading blogs that inspire me. I have to discipline myself not to get carried away and spend too much time, but 15 or 20 minutes is enough to unwind and feel inspired. I try to keep my blog reading uplifting. I read blogs that help me in my calling: first, caring for my family (mom stuff, creative homemaking), and second, to reach out to others, also mostly through the ministry of my home in hospitality. I feel a new commitment to these callings since we've moved. Although we're still settling, I guess you could say I have a greater and more specific vision for what I'm supposed to be doing. My little break is a refreshing way to be reminded of that.

My second break is bathtub multitasking. Busy mamas know that the bathroom is just about the only place we can find time alone, right?! So a hot bath and a good book make a relaxing combination. Now Billy will know why I sometimes take so long in there. Oh well! :)

Find a few minutes to recharge and enjoy yourself today!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Great New Blog

Check out my friend Erica's great new blog, Fish Bowl Sense!

What Bliss! What Joy!

Victoria Magazine is re-launching!!!

Now, if I can only wait till October. *Sigh*

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Little Egalitarian and Other Scary Stories

I'm back with a few frightening tales from the field.

The other day Elizabeth was helping me fix lunch. She tied on her little vintage apron and flitted around the kitchen like she knew what she was doing. “Good job, Suzy Homemaker!” I said. A few minutes later, Silas (whom the girls call Brother) was putting forks on the table, which we all know is such a domestic job. “Brother Homemaker,” he grunted to himself.

Here’s a treasure from Elizabeth. She said, “Hey, Mama, if you lose a whole bunch of weight, and get super, super skinny, then you will be Daddy’s trophy wife.” Uh-huh. Thanks, Nutrisystem.

Someone please tell me that my Sarah is not the first toddler in the world to pick up chewed gum from the floor of the ice cream shop, and recycle it for herself!!!!!!!!!