Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Closed for Remodeling

I did this last year. Took a break from blogging for a while. Of course back then, it was easier. I didn't know so many wonderful bloggers. I didn't belong to this great "community." Nevertheless, it's time for a little break.

It's kind of a Lent thing. Our church doesn't really practice Lent so to speak, but in recent years the idea of fasting, giving up something good to experience something better, has really hit home with me, not to mention been a great blessing the few times I've purposefully abstained from something. I plan to tackle some house projects, keep some promises to a few friends, and attend to some matters of the heart.

I'll be back, hopefully around the third week in March. In the meantime, hold down the blogging fort and keep my seat warm! And if you really miss me, you probably know my email addy; I'd love to hear from you.

WFMW: Tear-free Onion Cutting

Gram was never without the big red bag of onions in her pantry but I quickly found that, not having a cool place to keep them, that big red bag of onions turned into a bag of rotting onions. So I've resorted to buying 1-2 large Spanish or Vidalia onions every week, and keeping them in my fridge (I use a lot of onions!). I didn't realize it, but I haven't shed a single tear over cutting onions in years now and apparently this is why. At colder temps, whatever it is in onions that make us cry is lessened considerably. So before you cut up all those onions for French onion soup or whatever else you're making, toss them in the fridge for a day! No more tears!

There's lots more great tips over at Shannon's place today.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Homemaking Meme

Compliments of Kim, who got it from Barb, I give you this Homemaking Meme!

Aprons - Y/N? I have my old Pampered Chef apron from when I was a consultant. I could use a new one! It would help my clothing budget!

Baking - Favorite thing to bake? Oh gosh, I love to bake. Right now I'm into cookies. Perfect cookies. I mean experimenting with the same thing until I get it just right. Last week I baked no less than 3 batches of oatmeal raisin cookies in just 3 days. But I also am fascinated with baking bread, and not just with the bread machine either.

Clothesline - Y/N? Nope! It sounds quaint and environmentally friendly, but I really can't imagine doing without my dryer!

Donuts - Ever made them? Goodness, not in years! We used to make and fry them in our electric skillet when we were kids!

Everyday - One homemaking thing you do everyday? Ha. You got me there. I don't even do the dishes every day. Okay - I make my bed every day!

Freezer - Do you have a separate deep freezer? Yes and I couldn't do without it! Right now it's full of vegetable soup, homemade spaghetti sauce, chili, Granny's pizza kits, frozen veggies and a host of other yummy handy things!

Garbage Disposal - Y/N? Nope. I don't even have a dishwasher; how 'bout that!!

Handbook - Y/N? A what? Yeah, right!

Ironing - Love it or hate it? Don't believe in it. Seriously, if it needs ironed, I probably won't buy it. I try to get our pants and shirts out of the dryer before they have time to wrinkle. Occasionally I'll press something off on my bed. Can't remember the last time I used an ironing board. When I get Mike's clothes out for the next season, I usually have to do a bit of ironing. But that's it - once or twice a year!

Junk Drawer - Where is it? It? As in one? Just kidding. Well, not really. There's one in my livingroom in the nightstand that serves as an end table. My nightstand drawer serves as a junk drawer of sorts. And then every drawer in my husband's desk is a junk drawer!

Kitchen - Design and decorating? We call it "beach house" - the walls are green; the cabinets and woodwork are white and the floor is Pergo laminate.

Love - What is your favorite part of homemaking? Cooking? Or those rare occasions when we're having company and I know for sure 99% of my house is clean to the bare bones.

Mop - Y/N? Right. When I have to.

Nylons - Wash them by hand or in the washer? How about "throw them away?"

Oven - Do you use the window or open it to check? I open it.

Pizza - What do you put on yours? Mostly vegetables. Mushrooms. Olives. Hot peppers. Onions. Green peppers. But not too many things on one pizza.

Quiet - What do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment? Read. Read blogs. Write something.

Recipe card box - Y/N? Yep! But what I really love is my online recipe box at

Style of house – matchbox (!)

Tablecloths and napkins - Y/N? Placemats. I'm a placemat junky. I can always justify a new set of placemats. Paper napkins will do just fine though!

Under the kitchen sink – A lot. You'd be surprised how much you can fit when you use those shelves made for this purpose. Let's see - there's my skillets. My saucepans. Cleaning supplies. 2 pitchers. Box of trash bags.

Vacuum - How many times a week? At least once, whether it needs it or not! Come on, I work full time - gimme a break!!

Wash - How many loads do you do a week? Enough to keep us in clean undies! No really, there's just two of us so 2-3 a week, unless I'm washing rugs or blankets.

X'es - Do you keep a list of things to do and cross them off? On weekends I usually make a short list to keep me on task with my priorities. Sometimes on a day off, I will make a list "after the fact" and leave it in a prominent place so someone doesn't think I sat around and ate bon-bons all day!

Yard - Who does what? I plant the flowers and dream up projects! He mows the grass, weedwacks, and tries to talk me out of my projects!!

ZZZ's - What is your last homemaking task for the day? Hope Mike cleans out the sink before we go to bed. Oh sorry - MY last task. How 'bout rinse out the bathtub and sink. Cuz I just got done using it, you know!

I'd love to hear about your homemaking activities. Let me know if you do this meme on your blog, 'kay?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

That Little Whippersnapper and Other Musings

Ever since I was a little girl, my dad promised a quarter or fifty-cents to the first one to see a robin in the spring. Even as an adult, I've still been quick to cash in on that challenge. Well, this year he extended the challenge to my niece and nephews ,and didn't my 9 year old niece B call him already to let him know she'd spotted a robin! The little whippersnapper!

I don't know if there's a runner-up prize or not, but I'm still looking for that robin! Heck, I'm on the lookout for any sign of spring! But today it looks pretty far away - we're under a "freezing rain" alert in my city today. Don't know if I will still be shopping and visiting with my sister as planned.

Speaking of weather alerts on the news, do you ever wonder why they call it "news"? I mean, when you have to hear it five or six times, is it really new? I've seen the same lady now three times saying she hopes the new casinos in our area pay off!

I spent last evening with my parents and some house guests of theirs. They're visiting from Spain and very eager to learn and improve their English. Among other things, we discussed the custom of engagement. In Spain, there's no such thing. The churches have a waiting list for people to get married. Once a couple decides to get married, they head for the church and get their name on the list! I couldn't imagine marriage without several months to prepare; they couldn't fathom the whole engagement ring and waiting period!

They also found it amusing that our cat is diabetic and needs shots several times a day! I guess that is kind of bizarre but I don't find it amusing! She's seventeen years old. I mean, she's a nice enough cat (when she's not hissing at my dog), but how many lives does she get?!

One last thing, and I promise I'm working on a real post soon. Yesterday I made some awesome vegetable soup. Neither Mike nor I really care for beef in our vegetable soup, so this is truly vegetable soup. Here's the recipe in a nutshell, but understand, I really don't measure when making this!

1 large onion, chopped
4-6 stalks celery, chopped
6-7 carrots, peeled and diced
1-2 turnips, peeled and diced
4 cans vegetable broth
1 large & 1 reg. can of stewed tomatoes (or whole tomatoes - you can crush them yourself)
1 large can V-8 juice (I try to use low sodium if I have it)
1/2 - 3/4 cup cooking wine
2 cups savoy cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 cup baby spinach
dried basil, pepper to taste

In a large stockpot, saute onion, celery, carrots and turnips in about 2T olive oil until the onions and celery are tender. Slowly add the broth, tomatoes, V-8 and cooking wine. Bring just to a boil, reduce heat and add cabbage and spinach leaves. Season to taste. Simmer for at least an hour. Enjoy!

This goes really great with homemade bread, unless you've lost the kneading blade for your bread machine!!!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday's Feast

In the absence of any blogworthy ideas, I'm doing Friday's Feast today. I always have several posts in draft form but none are fully cooked yet!


Where on your body do you have a scar, and what caused it? - I have a faint one across my left hand where I fell and cut myself on my bicycle spoke as a kid.

What is something that has happened to you that you would consider a miracle? That Christ would die for me and be my Savior. Also when my dad got saved back in 1995 (or was it 1996?), my sister and I saw that as a direct answer to prayer.

Name a television personality who really gets on your nerves. It's a tie between Katie Couric and Nancy Grace.

Main Course
What was a funny word you said as a child (such as "pasketti" for "spaghetti")? I always said "la" instead of one. "How old are you?" "La" My dad still teases me about that today (among many other things!

Fill in the blank: I have always thought John Cusak was so cute!

Go here to get your own Friday's Feast!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Satisfying Service

"Every time you do something that comes from your needs for acceptance, affirmation, or affection, and every time you do somehting that makes these needs grow, you know that you are not with God. These needs will never be satisfied; they will only increase when you yield to them. But every time you do something for the glory of God, you will know God's peace in your heart and find rest there." Henri Nouwen

There was a huge emphasis on ministry at the Bible college I attended twenty years ago. Literally, we had to report weekly on how many persons we witnessed to, how many accepted Christ, etc. You were required to do some kind of outreach for at least an hour every week, and witness to at least one person per week. Not unreasonable I suppose, except that the Holy Spirit seemed left out of the picture.

On most Saturdays, the majority of the students would participate in what was known as the "Bus Ministry." Any other ministry was for deadbeats. Bus ministry workers rose early on Saturdays and Sundays and spent most of the weekend in the inner city, visiting with less privileged families and encouraging them to ride our buses to church. We were out there for 4-5 hours on blustery days when the temps were barely above zero, as well as torrid summer days when our pantyhose clung damply to our legs like a second skin. We had big days where several thousand people rode these buses for over an hour to attend church. Buses would break down en route to or from the city, stretching 8 hour days into 10 or 12.

It was hard work. Especially during finals week when you should have been studying to pass the classes you were paying for. Especially during conference weeks when you volunteered for hours on end, in addition to your ministry obligations. Yet the bus ministry consistently numbered over 1000 student workers. Why? I honestly think it played, unbeknownst to us, upon our needs for acceptance and affirmation. As tired as you are, the thought of a little child looking up to you was strong enough pull to drag yourself out of bed on the weekend.

I still enjoy working with kids and teenagers. I still enjoy being involved in ministry. But since that time, I've come to realize that it's possible for me to do ministry for God out of entirely selfish motives - to fulfill my personal needs for acceptance or affirmation. The approval of others is so much more tangible than God's approval. The problem with having that as our motivation is that we're never truly satisfied in our service. But as Nouwen says, when our motives are right, when our eyes are fixed on Him alone, when to glorify God is our only desire, His peace will satisfy like nothing else can.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

If I Were a Bread Machine Kneading Blade . . .

Where would I be?

The thought crossed my mind as I searched frantically for this little part today, that Jesus cares for me with the same intensity when I lose my way. Not that he misplaces me or loses track of me. I manage to get lost on my own.

Well, anyways, the thought was comforting, but I never did find that darn part. So I ordered a new one. I can't live without my breadmaker, although I don't use it nearly as much as I'd like to!

So in lieu of baking bread, I opted to make some oatmeal raisin cookies. I wanted to have something yummy on hand in case my husband brought his six year old nephew by after an afternoon of sledding.

I tried a new recipe I found on and I'm pretty happy with the way these ones turned out. I made them with a medium scoop (gotta use a scoop if you want perfect cookies) so they're a nice size. Next time I'll put more nuts in, more coarsely chopped. These would be great with dried cranberries too. I think the ticket was soaking the raisins in hot water with the vanilla before adding them to the batter. The recipe doesn't call for that but I saw it noted in several other recipes, and it does seem to make a difference. And I always use old-fashioned oats. Mine turned out better looking than the picture on Allrecipes, I think. In fact, they're pretty similar to the giant one I had at Starbucks earlier this week! (shhh!)


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter flavored shortening
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup raisins


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, butter flavored shortening, brown sugar, white sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Stir in the oats and raisins. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until light and golden. Do not overbake. Let them cool for 2 minutes before removing from cookie sheets to cool completely. Store in airtight container. Make sure you get some, because they don't last long!

Monday, February 12, 2007

How To Get Free Help!

Let's say it's a cold winter day and you experience some unexpected water problems. Let's assume your husband is out of town or something. Let's say your pipes freeze or you run out of water or you can't get your furnace working or pump primed or something bizarre like that. Let's say every plumber and pump guy and water guy you call is already booked solid answering distress calls from people in your same situation who just happened to luck out and get in line before you. Let's say absolutely no one is willing to come bail you out of your situation. What do you do?

Apparently, if you can get someone to answer their phone, most of these plumber and pump guys and water guys are more than happy to wax eloquent on what you should do. I'm being serious here, ladies. So how can you get the help you need?

  • Before you make that call, plan your distress speech. Remember, this is a man you will be talking to. Leave out any juicy tidbits about how your toddler is being potty-trained or how you need to get to the Macy's sale this afternoon. "Just the facts" is a pretty good policy here.
  • Educate yourself. Speak their language. Check out the equipment specifications: pump or furnace make and model. Rating such as psi (pounds/square inch), horsepower or amps are good to know. Write all this stuff down on a pice of paper. While you're at it, write down the details of the problem.
  • If you can, do a Google search on the equipment to become even better informed.
  • Make the call from the problem area with pen and paper in hand.
  • Don't be put off by answering services. You need to get past the women! Ask for someone to give you a call so you can ask a few questions.
  • Don't wait for one guy to call you back; leave messages with as many services as you need to.
  • Use any info you glean from one call to sound more informed on your next call. And get the guy's name and ask if you can call him back if need be.
I'll tell you what I learned today. I learned how to prime a pump. Probably not something you ever need to deal with, but no less than three different guys were willing to walk me through something they would have happily charged me about $75/hour to do, had they had the time.

People are more than willing to talk shop - at no charge to you - if you have no other options. Hopefully you won't ever find yourself in this situation but if you do - remember, help is out there if you know how to ask. And you just may be able to save yourself a service call someday!

Imprisoned Splendor

That's the title of yesterday's reading in Glimpses of Grace, a compilation of short readings from the works of Madeleine L'Engle. I thought this was too good not to share.

Look! Here I am, caught up in this fragment of chronology, in this bit of bone and flesh and water which makes up my mortal body, and yet I am also part of that which is not imprisoned in time or mortality. Partaker simultaneously of the finite and the infinte, I do not find the infinite by repudiating my finiteness, but by being fully in it, in this me who is more than I know. This me, like all of creation, lives in a glorious dance of communion with all the universe. In isolation we die; in interdependence we live.

I appreciate the reminder that we are part of both finite and infinite. It puts today into perspective for me. How about you?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Hodge Podge

When we were kids, my sis and I enjoyed a PBS show entitled Hodge Podge Lodge. Secretly that's what I call my house when it's getting out of control. It describes the current state of my blogging brain. I don't usually do miscellaneous posts but that's all that's coming to me right now. Bits and pieces of stuff but nothing worthy of its own post. So here'a few thoughts bouncing around in my head right now.

  • We had a nice evening. We've been getting to know some new people at our church through a small group we joined last spring. Tonight we had everyone over for a game night. After the guys showed off at darts, we girls cleaned up in a game of Cranium. Yes!
  • Several years ago, my husband mysteriously hurt his ankle. He had to wear one of those boot casts for about six weeks. Looks like he did something again because he could barely get up the stairs tonight and I think he consumed about 8 ibuprofen and 2 naproxen in less than 5 hours. Yikes. He's finally in bed, resting, I hope. The dog and I will take the couch, in hopes of not disturbing him. Poor guy. I think it's going to be a long night, even if we don't end up in the emergency room.
  • Why is it that the few shows I enjoy watching are on at the same time? I don't watch many TV shows, but I do enjoy Monk, Stargate SG-1 and NCIS. Even the reruns of Monk & Stargate are on at the same time Friday night. Although the past few weeks, I've either forgotten that Monk starts at 9pm, or slept through it, or (like tonight) been busy with something else. Wouldn't you say I "need" Tivo?
  • I'm kind of frustrated with my writing habits right now. Habits is an exaggeration. Even though I haven't made much effort towards being published, I've always been working on something. Lately though, I just can't seem to get my thoughts to gel. Honestly, I think it's due to my job. I tend to be juggling about 30 things on any given day. When I finally do sit down to rest, it's hard to do. My mind is still going in a million directions. Like this post.
  • I did read something by Henri Nouwen this morning that I want to post about, but it begs its own post so will have to wait. I'm going to settle down for the night with A Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg. Stacyrecommended this one, as well as the movie Invincible, which Mike and I both loved. Seriously, if you're looking for a good book recommendation or a more interesting post, go check out Stacy's blog, especially the reading lists in her sidebar.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

In Case of Ingestion . . .

Inductive is one of those funny words that just makes me laugh. It makes me think of the instructions on certain poisonous substances: "induce (or do not induce) vomiting." You know, the ones you stuck your "Mr. Yuck" stickers on when you were kids! Sorry, but I just had to stick that in there.

For the last few years, I've been trying to read the Bible inductively. I don't mean inductive study, although I've done one or two of them on my own. Just a different way of reading the Bible. So what does inductive reading look like? This is how it goes for me:

  • I rarely read a chapter just once. If I'm reading a longer book of the Bible (more than I can read at one or two sittings), I'll read the first 2 chapters the first day, the next day I'll read those chapters again, and possibly chapter 3 if time. Then chapters 2-3, 3-4, 4-5 and so on. Each day reviewing a portion of what I read previously.I've been known to linger over the same chapter for several days or even an entire week.
  • Reading slowly helps me be more attentive to details. I try to picture being out in the boat in the middle of the storm or imagine the temple when Jesus chased out the money changers.
  • Sometimes, I'll try to view the same story from the perspectives of the different characters. For instance, what was going through Mary's mind while Jesus was chiding her sister Martha? What did the money changers think as they watched Jesus upend their profitable setup?
  • I try to approach each book with a question or two in mind, and then focus on finding the answers through my readings. Sometimes the questions don't form until I've read a short book through once, or several chapters of a longer book. This helps me set aside the feeling that I've got to "master" the book, while still doing more than just casually reading. I can always come back for more.
  • Sometimes when a passage stands out to me, I'll read it from different online versions.
  • I resist the urge to stop and check out a lot of commentaries and other study tools online. I can get very sidetracked, especially when it comes to Biblical history, geography and customs. I might check it out briefly and if it really interests me, I'll make a note to come back and read more later.
  • I don't worry if I don't see a natural application every day. I just want to get a good picture of whatever book I'm reading. Usually the 2nd or third time I read something, it starts to be clear what God's tryng to teach me.
  • Right now I'm reading the book of Mark, one of my favorite books. (Hmm, could this be due to the many times we see Jesus getting away for some R&R?) This time, I'm focusing on the questions Jesus asks in his ministry. Each time I come across one, I'm just highlighting it or maybe jotting it down in my journal. In one chapter alone, he asks at least eight questions!
For so many years, I started in Genesis and gave up in Leviticus. Or I pressed on, sometimes drooling over the pages as I nodded off, just so I could check that day's reading off my list. Sad to say, the Bible meant so little to me then. I can honestly say since I've changed my reading habits, I look forward to my time spent in the Bible now. I approach it expectantly and I'm never disappointed.

Psalm 119: 24 Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Go Colts!

Finally. Enough said.

I'm a Tony Dungy fan from way back, as well as a Peyton Manning fan since his college days. It was worth the wait to see their smiles tonight as they realized they'd accomplished their goal. And for once, my team (my heart team!) won!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Happy Groundhog Day!

Yes, people really do celebrate such an event, on which the great Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day was based. Check it out. My dream is to actually get to Punxatawney, PA some year for the big event!

But for me, it all started when I was a little kid. My dad faithfully indoctrinated me in the Groundhog Day philosophy, and each year, we anticipated the day when hopefully the little beast wouldn't see his shadow. Not seeing his shadow meant spring was just around the corner. If he sees his shadow, you're in for six more weeks of winter. For my dad, that meant six more weeks of working out in the cold.

I guess I made a big enough deal about it that my sweet hubby proposed to me on Groundhog Day. The clever guy. On Saturday night (February 1st), he suggested we go out to breakfast the next morning before church. I should have seen through it. He's not a morning person. But I fell, hook, line and sinker. The next morning he appeared at my apartment, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, much like we hope to see Punxatawney Phil. Like true young lovers, we celebrated our anniversary of dating each month - for us, this fell on the 2nd. I was excited because I had a t-shirt for him, one I'd gotten free with the cologne I'd given him for Christmas. Then it was his turn. He gave me an adorable white teddy bear. With a piece of green yarn around it's neck. With a ring on it. He dropped to one knee, and totally blew me away with the "will you marry me" thing!

So Groundhog Day is both a day to celebrate our engagement as well as a predictor (hopefully) of an early spring! And like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, I'd do it over and over and over again! (Marry my sweet, that is!)

Okay - show of hands! How many of you have seen the movie? Love it or hate it? And how many of you get into Groundhog Day?