Monday, September 12, 2011

Remembering 9/11

I'll always remember that Tuesday morning.  Tweenager was just a baby back then ~ and I was still in my first trimester with Bubby.  In the midst of folding laundry and hearing "Sesame Street" in the background, the hubs called and told me that an airplane had flown into the North Tower.  I immediately flipped to the early morning news show, and sat horrified as I witnessed the second plane slam into the South Tower.  Even though they were trying to be professional, the news anchors were visibly shaken as they announced that America was under attack. 

I'll always remember the look on President Bush's face as he was informed of the breaking news.  In recent interviews, he admitted the feeling of rage and sorrow he felt at that moment, and at the same time, trying to keep it neutral so that he wouldn't upset the children surrounding him.

I'll always remember the sight of the buildings crashing down upon themselves, and horrified people running for their lives.  I'll always remember the looks of terror, devastation, and sorrow.  I'll always remember Mayor Giuliani walking around his city, asking people if they were okay.

I'll always remember seeing the Pentagon ~ the symbol of our military might ~ with a smoldering, gaping hole in its side ~ people again, fleeing in terror, running for their lives.

I'll always remember seeing the fiery, charred remains of an airplane in Pennsylvania.

I'll always remember feeling shocked and appalled that this would happen to MY country.  This was the USA.  No one ever messes with us, I reasoned.  What will become of us?  What will happen?  Will there be even more attacks?

Then, in the midst of the darkness, a song.  I'll always remember how Congress stood on the steps of the Capitol and sang "God Bless America". 

I'll always remember President Bush's telling us about the attacks.  The resolute, firm determination in his voice ~ in spite of the tears in his eyes ~ made me proud of my President and my country.

I'll always remember President Bush with the bull horn on Ground Zero saying, "I hear you, the world hears you, and pretty soon the people who did this will be hearing you."

I'll always remember the service where Franklin Graham spoke, reminding us that God didn't just "let" this injustice happen.  It happened because of sin.  All mankind were sinners, needing a Savior.

I'll always remember how fierce and determined the American Spirit was and is.  I'll always remember how we, as a nation, finally seemed to realize that we were, in fact, completely dependent on God.

I'll always remember.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Soothing Saturday

Today has been soothing to me.  Yesterday had been quite an emotional day.  I was missing my dad and had a lot of mental & emotional stress going on that I didn't even realize I had been carrying until I cried for an hour.  Add in monthly hormonal issues, and I was quite the drama queen.  In private, I'm glad to say.  I kept it together in front of the kiddos.

Today I slept in until 9:00.  The kids got their own breakfast of cereal and milk ~ I had insisted on hot breakfasts this week, so they were looking forward to their Honey Bunches of Oats!  Bubby went over to my mom's to pull weeds and help her clean out from under the kitchen sink.  That left the girls and I to spend the late morning/early afternoon together.  Tweenager & I had Kindergartener otherwise occupied as we enjoyed our first mother/daughter movie-bonding experience.  We then invited Kindergartener to come and watch "Bolt" with us.  

Bubby came home.  I took a nice, long nap as the kiddos played outside with their friends.  Got up and made homemade nachos.  Watched a little college football with the hubs.  Kindergartener & I baked chocolate chip cookies.  Cleaned up the kitchen and am now baking muffins for our Sunday School class in the morning.

Just the day I needed.  Thanks, Father. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Trying New Recipes

One of my favorite casual dining restaurants is called Mimi's Cafe.  When we lived in Topeka, it was only an hour's drive to go to KC to enjoy this Louisiana-style cafe.  Since I'm a creature of habit, I always order the same thing whenever I go out.

Mimi's has the most amazing French onion soup ~ it's to die for!  (They have the recipe online, so I make it frequently!)  What's best, is that you can get a small cup to go with a half salad.  The best salad is their Chopped Cobb.  They pile a mountain of baby spring mix into a large bowl, and then top it with bacon crumbles, blue cheese nuggets, avocado slices, roasted turkey breast, and hard-boiled eggs in neat, symmetrical little piles on top.

I'm sad that KC is further away, even though we live in the Ozarks.  I had to come up with my own Chopped Cobb!  It was very easy to mimic, but I insist on taking the time to roast up turkey cutlets instead of buying "carving board" style.  It tastes just like deli meat.  I want the real McCoy!

I love blue cheese dressing, but since it has the blue cheese nuggets, I decided to steal the hamburger joint Wendy's idea of an Avocado Ranch that comes with their Cobb salad.

Since the brand was T Marzetti's (LOVE it, btw) I bought the Marzetti's jarred Ranch and pulsed an avocado into it with the blender.  Good, but not great.

Today I decided to make my own Ranch dressing and add avocado to it.  The end result was well worth it!  I can't remember where I first found this recipe (I've had it on file for a LONG time!) but it's awesome!  It tends to be a little thin, but you can thicken it with more mayo or sour cream.
Here it is!

Ranch Dressing

1/3 c. sour cream
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1 c. buttermilk
3 T chopped chives
2 T finely minced Italian flat-leaf parsley
1/2 t  chopped dill
1 t kosher salt
1 t cracked black pepper
1 T white vinegar
1 T garlic paste

(You mince 5 garlic cloves, and then use 1/2 t of kosher salt, smashing them with the flat side of your knife blade until it becomes a paste.) 

Whisk sour cream, mayonnaise and buttermilk together.  Add in herbs, salt, pepper, vinegar, and garlic paste. Add in more mayo or sour cream to thicken.  Season to taste. 

I divided this recipe and dumped half into the blender.  I then added 1/2 of an avocado to the mix and pulsed until it was thickened and creamy.  Delicious!  I'll slice the other half to put on my salad tonight!

NOTE:  5 garlic cloves = TOO strong!  I was tasting garlic all night ~ yuck!  I think 2 or 3 cloves would have worked better.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Ministry of Motherhood

I'm impossibly running behind schedule, as usual. I will begin my post for week 4 starting on Monday, June 6th. I love, love, LOVE this study about the importance of administering grace to my children. Just as Jesus gives me grace on almost a minute by minute basis, I must do the same for my children. This study has been very convicting to me!

It's interesting how the Lord works in your life once you're willing and open to His leading. He allows things to shape and mold you. We began a Bible study on Wednesday evenings called "A Journey Worth Planning ~ Raising a Modern Day Joseph".

Our wonderful pastor (who has raised 2 children who know, love, and serve the Lord) is leading this study. I'm excited to glean from God's Word and my pastor's teaching how I can ~ by example ~ train my children to be a man and women after God's heart.

You know, nothing negative is ever mentioned about Joseph in the Bible. Yes, he was young and foolish to tell his already jealous brothers about his dreams, but he was ultimately the epitome of a faithful servant, a man of forgiveness, compassion, and godliness. No wonder he's often depicted as a type of Christ.

I so want that to be said of me ~ and how I wish that for my kids!

Friday, May 27, 2011

My Home ~ My Ministry

TGIF ~ thank goodness it's Friday! Today is the final day of an incredibly busy week. This move has really done me in ~ physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I need to have order in my life, and having things in disarray for almost 3 weeks has gotten me down. Just as I try to organize things and get settled, something else needs to get done ~ laundry, cooking, general housework ~ did I mention laundry? I just couldn't get a handle on things and had fallen way behind. I was miserable!

Wednesday was the hardest. I felt like a complete failure as a wife, mother, and homemaker. My home was disheveled. I was exhausted. I broke down. I cried tears of frustration, anger, regret, and self-pity. Thankfully, my husband was home.

He quietly dismissed the children (who were flabbergasted to see their mommy have a major melt-down) and took me into his arms and let me cry. The solid strength of his chest and comfort of his arms allowed me to collapse into a sobbing mess. He stroked my hair and rubbed my back. He listened to my unintelligible mutterings.

When I was finally spent, he took my face into his hands. Looking deeply into my eyes, he began to compliment me ~ he told me how much he loved me, how much he appreciated the work I had been putting into our home, how lovely things looked that I had finished, and how happy he was that I was his wife. His sweet words uplifted me.

As I reflect back on my husband's love and patience, I can't help but think of Christ. He's waiting for me to bring my many burdens to Him. He knows the groanings of my spirit and wants me to share them with Him. Jesus loves me with an unconditional love. He is happy that I am His Bride. His precious Word uplifts me. And one day soon, He will say to me, "Well done."

Lord, help me to focus my thoughts toward You and to Heaven.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chocolate Surprise Cupcakes

Here's the promised recipe, Kaylee!

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare cupcake pans.

Prepare the "surprise" filling:

Mix together:
1 8-oz. package softened cream cheese
1 egg
1 cup sugar
1 t vanilla

Prepare your favorite chocolate cake recipe, or use a mix. Fill pans with cake batter. Drop a little of surprise filling in batter and sprinkle with a few mini chocolate chips. Bake cake according to directions. Let cool completely, and frost with chocolate frosting.


Since we've moved, I've been unpacking a plethora of boxes! We have boxes of every size, shape, and color. Although I tried to label every box, many got stuff thrown in at the last minute. You know how it is when you move. You start out all organized and label everything carefully, but by the end, you just throw stuff in boxes to get it out of the house and on the truck!

As I look at the 20 boxes that still litter my kitchen floor, bedroom, hallway and entryway, I begin to realize this is a spiritual metaphor.

Although I know what general items are in the boxes, I don't know the contents of each one individually just by looking at the outside. I search the contents and move each box from place to place, distributing the items where they belong ~ either to keep, store, trash, or set back for a garage sale.

We all have issues that burden us ~ hurts we keep in the imaginary boxes of our hearts. No one can tell the contents of our boxes just by looking at the outside. We can choose to distribute our items from place to place ~ keeping them within reach to allow anger or resentment to fester ~ storing them to revisit or to remind others how they've hurt us ~ setting them back to rehash with others. However, with God's help, we can choose to place them at the foot of the cross and let Jesus take them from us. In return, He will give us the grace, strength, and mercy we need to go on.

"Come unto me," Jesus urges. "All ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ministry of Motherhood

I began to post on this book last year, but got overly busy to post every day. I'm excited to begin this study again with the Good Morning Girls from The blog button is in my sidebar if you're interested in joining. I'll begin blogging on this subject next Monday, May 23rd.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

31 Days to Clean!

Sarah Mae from is giving away free copies of her newest Ebook, 31 Days to Clean - Having a Martha House in a Mary Way. I'm excited to read this book. I really enjoyed her other ebook, Core Lies. You can receive her book as well. Either blog about it, Tweet, or share on Facebook.

Friday, April 15, 2011


I'm going to be taking a bit of a blogging break for the next few weeks as we get packed up and ready to move to the Ozarks. That's home for me ~ I'm so looking forward to getting back to my roots and reunite with old friends and family. Once we get settled, I'll resume blogging, perhaps by the middle/end of May.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cheese & Herb Stuffed Chicken

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
Salt & Pepper
1 small tub of flavored cream cheese (chive & onion, garden vegetable)
4 T melted butter
1 large container French's Fried Onions, crushed

Season chicken breasts and place 1 T cream cheese in center of each breast. Roll up and secure with a toothpick. Dip in melted butter, then the crushed onions. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes or until done.

This is great served with chicken/broccoli rice mix and a California veggie medley.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cheddar ~ Bacon ~ Onion ~ Biscuits

Ree Drummond, a.k.a. The Pioneer Woman, has a wonderful recipe for these savory breakfast gems on her website. However, I have a tendency to find ways to simplify things, so here's my spin, using the original biscuit recipe on the back of the Bisquick box:


8 slices of bacon, fried and crumbled (I like center-cut bacon for this)
1/2 onion, sauteed in 2 T butter
2 1/4 c. Bisquick
2/3 c. milk
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese


Preheat the oven to 450. In a medium bowl, stir the Bisquick and milk until a soft dough forms. Stir in bacon, onion (with any extra buttery goodness) and cheese.

Knead around 10 times on a surface dusted with Bisquick mix. Roll out to 1/2 inch thick and cut with a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until golden. For extra richness, brush tops of biscuits with a little melted butter.

I serve these yummies with scrambled eggs. Makes 8-9 biscuits.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


I apologize for the reading quality of my last post. I've tried to fix it, but to no avail. It looks like one long, run-on sentence! Argh!

Hospitality 101

As I stated in an earlier post, the Lord really has been working in my heart about becoming more hospitable. I find myself wanting to invite folks over for dinner or just for fellowship, but it's challenging. Trying to coordinate schedules can be impossible! There's a wonderful lady in my church that I'm getting to know. We arranged to have dinner together in February. Our visit was relaxed and fun, peppered with laughter and serious discussions. We completely clicked as we shared how we met our husbands and what the Lord has been doing in our lives. We both were a little sad that our visit had to end, so I casually asked her if perhaps our families could get together sometime soon. Her immediate response was that she'd love to, but it wouldn't be until the end of March that we could get together. Their schedule was so crazy, they were doing something every evening! They were completely stretched thin! Now that April's on the horizon, I hope to invite this family over for some hospitality! I know that it's sometimes difficult for our family to get together with others because my hubs' work schedule is different every day. Sometimes he's home before 4 PM, other evenings it's not until 6 or even 7 before he returns home after a long day! His job is the kind where you don't get to go home until the work's done! Let's get back to the main point ~ hospitality. Scripture is very clear in the matter of hospitality. Paul encourages us as believers in Romans 12:13 that we are to "distribute (ing) to the necessity (or needs) of the saints; given to hospitality." Paul also writes to Timothy about the qualifications of a bishop, or pastor that "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, or good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach." (1 Timothy 3:2) Isn't it amazing that along with his impeccable reputation as a husband, a Godly man, a good judge of character and lives in an orderly manner, God's ideal pastor is known as a man that "treats strangers warmly and treat guests generously"? Wow. Did you notice that qualification is listed before being able to be skillful in teaching the Word of God? I don't know about you, but that speaks volumes to me! Titus 1:8 also states that a bishop is to be "...a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate." 1 Peter 4:9 says that we are to "use hospitality one to another without grudging (grumbling). That, too speaks volumes. No griping about having to clean the house or prepare a meal if you want to have a heart for hospitality! I've been praying about ways I can both have hospitality in my home and on the road. Once I've prayed for the Lord to show me ways, He's provided several opportunities. Providing meals for families in time of need has been one way, others have been to just drop a card or note to someone the Lord has brought to my mind. I want to incorporate a "Food, Fun, & Fellowship" night in our home, inviting a different family over once a month for dinner, games, & chat. For the "Food" part, I like to cook something easy that most everyone will like, such as Taco salad. Taco meat can be made ahead and kept in the Crock Pot; the fixings can be arranged so that everyone can make their own. I like to use both white and blue corn tortilla chips for fun. Dessert can be as easy as ice cream sandwiches or Drumsticks. Canned soft drinks and bottled water can be chilling in an ice chest. "Fun" is adding a game after dinner. A hilarious, fun, and sometimes (!) competitive game is "Catch Phrase". It gets the joint jumpin' every time! We usually play "boys against the girls" for a total blast. Other fun party games include "Guesstures", "Pictionary", "Pass the Pigs" and "Speed Uno". "Fellowship" is just getting to know one another better, sharing prayer requests and closing with prayer. We had such an opportunity this past weekend. We met a wonderful couple, Jeff & Stacy at a church my husband was filling the pulpit for. They graciously invited us out for burgers at Wendy's after the evening services. Even though we had only met them earlier that morning, we "clicked" with them. They are around 10 years older than we are, have 8 children, homeschool, and are very involved in the ministry. Simple burgers, fries & shakes were transformed to a feast as we chatted about family, ministry, the Bible, Bill O'Rilley, and Glenn Beck. We shared prayer requests and laughter. When we rose to leave 2 hours later, our hearts were knitted. As I hugged Stacy, she said, "Well, we'll see you again either here or in the air." What a treasure! Hospitality. It blesses you as much as it can bless others. Think about it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Simply Cheese Enchiladas


3 c. shredded Cheddar-Jack blend cheese
5 oz. (half of the tub) Philly Cooking Creme, Santa Fe blend
1 c. picante sauce
1 medium diced red bell pepper
1/2 c. sliced green onions
1 can diced green chilies
8 flour tortillas


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.

Combine 2 cups of Cheddar-Jack cheese, cooking creme, 1/4 c. picante sauce, pepper, onion, and chilies. Mix well. Spoon filling into center of each tortilla. Roll and place seam side down in pan.

Mix remaining cooking creme with remaining picante sauce. Pour over top of enchiladas, sprinkle with remaining cup of shredded cheese.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until heated through and cheese is melted. Serve topped with lettuce, shredded cheddar, sliced green onions, and black olives. A side dish of creamy guacamole and tortilla chips round out this meal nicely!

You can also add 1 lb. of cooked ground beef or 2 c. cooked, shredded chicken to the cheese mix.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Disclaimer: This isn't a post about hospitality like I had planned. The Lord laid this on my heart early this morning. Hello. My name is Shelly ~ and I'm a die hard Food Network Junkie. I've been known to watch the Barefoot Contessa for an hour straight, even though I may have already seen the episode. I enjoy Paula Deen and Giada at Home. I actually bite my nails during Iron Chef and will admit that I've shed tears at the reveal during Restaurant Impossible. My kiddos love seeing how things are made on Unwrapped, and they absolutely adore Cupcake Wars. In fact, the hubs has been know to watch a little bit of "Triple D" (when nothing else was on, mind you!). My cooking as improved immensely ever since we had satellite installed ~ Food Network available. The hubs has even declared that it pays for itself because of the delicious, new dishes I've brought to the dinner table. I've picked up little tips and hints over that past years, but one that amazes me over and over is the use of ~ salt. Salt actually enhances and brings out the sweetness in sugar. I tried an amazing chocolate bar a few months ago that was a bittersweet chocolate laced with ~ of all things ~ sea salt. It was incredible! Salt also brings out the sugars in veggies, especially onions. I love sauteing onions in butter ~ there's nothing quite like that smell ~ and I add in a little pinch of salt. It causes the moisture in the onion to evaporate, and the natural sugars come out and caramelize the onion into tasty goodness! I also love roasting veggies, chicken breasts, and pork tenderloin with a mixture of salt, pepper, and olive oil. It's simply amazing what the salt does! I also have learned to toss in a good amount of salt when I'm boiling potatoes, rice, or pasta. None of these items have much flavor on their own, but when you add salt ~ flavor! Not only does salt season food, it also preserves food. I used quite a bit of pickling salt last summer during my pickle-making episode. I've seen Ina Garten use a rub of kosher salt and dill plus other spices to make gravlox. Salt can also used as an abrasive. Rachael Ray uses a bunch of coarse salt and garlic to make a garlic paste. I've seen Martha Stewart clean tarnished copper pans with a paste made of nothing but salt and a lemon wedge. Although inedible, rock salt melts the ice and keeps one from slipping on it. Salt. Who would have thought? Something so inexpensive and readily available can improve almost anything! I've now become a bit of a "Salt Snob". I have four different types of salt in the cabinet right now. Regular table salt ~ I bake and finish foods with it. Kosher salt ~ I cook with it all the time. Pickling salt ~ umm ~ I make pickles with it. I've also used it in baking since it dissolves so quickly. Coarse sea salt ~ I finish dishes with it when I want a salty bite, like on the crust of Chicken Pot Pie. As I did my little study on salt and its uses, the Lord reminded me of his command from the Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5:13) "Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men." Also, the Apostle Paul wrote in his epistle (Colossians 4:6) "Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." That got me to thinking, "What kind of salt am I?" First of all, only the genuinely born-again person is salt and can help meet the needs of the world. Just as salt adds flavoring, acts as a preservative, melts coldness and heals wounds, we are called to do the same. Which brings me back to the question ~ What kind of salt am I? Do I enhance and bring out the sweetness of Christ in my life? Do I add a liveliness/flavor? Do I warm people, or leave them out in the cold? Are my words wholesome and encouraging? or am I too abrasive? If I "loose my savor", then I loose my effectiveness as a Christian. My "testimony will be trampled under the feet of men." So, my dear sister, "What kind of salt are you?"

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hospitality ~ A Life That Says "Welcome"!

Within the last year, the Lord has placed a desire in my heart to become more hospitable. I think there are many reasons why hospitality is no longer practiced like it was back in the day. First of all, we've become so busy that we barely have time together as families! Secondly, it's just downright intimidating! I know that some people feel the need to reciprocate, but they don't think that their house is clean/large enough to accommodate visitors. Some may believe they lacking the skills ~ in other words, they're not like Martha Stewart! After all, she is the "Domestic Diva"!

Through careful study and reading several hospitality books, I've realized that hospitality isn't entertaining! Karen Ehman writes, "Entertaining puts emphasis on you and how you can impress others. Offering hospitality puts the emphasis on others and strives to meet their physical and spiritual needs so that they feel refreshed, not impressed, when they leave your home."

With the desire to become more hospitable, I began to search the Internet for Christian-themed hospitality blogs. "Comfy in the Kitchen" is my favorite! (Her button is in my sidebar.) This young wife and mother truly has a heart for hospitality. She makes healthy, nourishing meals to bless other families. Her amazing meals are delivered to those in need, new moms, and families who are ill. I'm touched by her sincere desire to "give... a cup of cold water to one of these little ones (those who may not get noticed) because he is my disciple...." (NIV)

I also admire the fact that she isn't so busy doing all these things that she neglects her family. They receive the same yummy meal, plus she's teaching her young children to be hospitable as well.

Tomorrow I'll post some of the ideas of hospitality the Lord has laid on my heart. For now, remember: "Let us not love only in word... but in deed and in truth." (KJV)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Decorating Your Home

Oh, how I love to decorate! Give me a unadorned room, an unlimited supply of cash, and all the time in the world, and I'm in total bliss! Of course, it's a rarity to be able to live out the above scenario. In reality, we must make do with what we have and perhaps incorporate a few small expenditures for our vision to come to pass.

As newlyweds, all of our furniture had been handed down from our parents and a wonderful friend of mine. For example, our now-bedroom dresser had once been my changing table as a baby. My father-in-law had made our bedroom side table when he was in high school. Most of our living room furniture had belonged to my parents. All the furniture was in reasonably good shape and had been well-cared for.

As our family grew, however, things happened. Seven moves in seven years resulted in a broken hide-away couch. Infants initiated chair and couch cushions as only they can. The square footage of our living room varied from teeny-tiny apartments, awkwardly placed windows in a mobile home, weird extra rooms in an old Victorian, to the nicely sized area we live in now.

When we bought our first home (we currently live there now) my "colors" were (because of the hand-me-downs) slate blue, mauve pink, and cream. Our new living room had newer, earth-tone carpeting and warm ivory walls ~ but the drapes! I believe the word hideous should be used here ~ bright, dark burgandy-red (mainly red) drapes that were backed with a heavy white rubber-like material. Since we didn't have the extra cash to purchase new ones, I knew I had to somehow incorporate bright burgandy into my palette of restful blues, delicate mauves, and creamy ivories.

Fortunately, on a trip to either Khol's or Penny's, I found inexpensive throw pillows that had a floral pattern of blue, mauve, ivory, and ~ dark burgandy! A trip to Hobby Lobby enabled me to add inexpensive touches of burgandy to my floral arrangements, and voila! It worked!

Our bedroom walls were bright yellow and white sponge painting ~ what were these people thinking? So we repainted it with a creamy white. When we could afford it, the hubs finished the walls with a decorative glaze that looks like denim. We topped it with a country border that has hearts and sunflowers and other blue flowers on a creamy shelf. Now the room is denim blue and cream with touches of brick red hearts and golden sunflowers. Since we didn't have a headboard, we purchased some European pillows that serve as our "headboard".

My dream is to make my own headboard someday with plywood, batting, and denim fabric. We'd love to purchase a new bedroom set, but it's not in the budget. For now, my former changing table and my father-in-law's high school project are working just fine. Our old corner entertainment center houses our TV, and another hand-me-down entertainment table is my side table. God always provides for our needs, but He also blesses us with our wants, too.

My father-in-law took pity on us shortly after we moved into our current home six years ago. He and my mother-in-law came over to watch the kiddos for us while the hubs & I went out for a date. F-I-L tried to take a nap on our tiny loveseat, but was unsuccessful. When the hubs & I arrived home, he informed us that they would be giving us some cash to get "a decent couch".

A week later, we bought the current living room set we have now ~ and it was even on sale! With some of the extra cash, we bought a new entertainments center as well as a couple of nice end tables. I was thrilled to finally (!) get rid of the rubber-backed burgandy drapes that came with the house to a pleasing, nubby shade of olive green. Our living room is now done in comforting earth tones. The overall effect is cozy and restful. My idea of bliss!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hershey's Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

I spotted this recipe in a magazine at least 17 years ago. When I really want chocolate, this hits the spot every time! The cake is extremely moist, and it has the most decadent, rich fudge sauce ~ a chocolate lover's dream!


1-1/4 c. granulated sugar, divided
1 c. all-purpose flour
7 T. Hershey's cocoa powder, divided
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. milk
1/3 c. melted butter
1-1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1-1.4 c. hot water


Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together 3/4 c. of the granulated sugar, flour, 3 T. of the cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Stir in milk, butter, and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

Spread batter into ungreased 8 or 9 inch square baking pan. In another small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/2 c. granulated sugar, brown sugar, and remaining 4 T. cocoa. Sprinkle evenly over the batter. Pour hot water over the top of the dry ingredients. DO NOT STIR!

Bake 35-40 minutes or until center is almost set. Let stand 15 minutes; spoon into dessert dishes, spooning sauce from bottom of pan over the top. Garnish with whipped cream or serve with vanilla bean ice cream.

For extra chocolate goodness, I love Breyer's Triple Chocolate ice cream ~ white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate all together! Delicious!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Art of Homemaking

"Homemaking is an art, and you have the privilege of expressing and developing all your talents there in a little place called home. You get to build ~ beautify ~ organize ~ create ~ fuss ~ express yourself. You get to read and study and grow and master nutrition, finances, horticulture, design, wardrobe, et cetera.

And you also get to shape your children, to give their precious lives a bent toward God. To nurture their souls with the good things of God. To pass on the truth about Jesus to one more generation.

And to do so means you've got to be dedicated, organized, and a woman of purpose. And you've got to have the spunk and energy to follow through on all the dedication, organization, and purpose that answering God's high calling to homemaking requires."

Elizabeth George, "A Woman's High Calling"

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sausage Stars

My friend Kailley made these for a bridal shower. Needless to say, everyone asked for the recipe as they scarfed these tasty treats!


1 package wonton wrappers
1/2 lb. each of sausage and hamburger, browned & drained
3 c. shredded cheddar-jack blend cheese
1/2 c. sliced black olives
1/2 c. red bell pepper, finely minced
1 c. Ranch dressing


Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin liberally with cooking spray. Gently place a wonton wrapper into each cup, forming a star shape. Spray again 3 times with the cooking spray. Bake for 7-8 minutes, or until golden.

Meanwhile, combine the meats, olives, peppers, dressing, and cheese together in a mixing bowl. When wonton cups are golden, fill with meat mixture and bake another 7-10 minutes. You want the filling to bubble slightly and the cheese to melt. Enjoy!

I usually cook 1 lb. each of the sausage & hamburger. I reserve the other half of the mixture for homemade pizza or spaghetti sauce the next day.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Simple Home

As a full-time homemaker, my greatest desire is that my family finds our home to be a haven of rest, a place of peace, and where their spirits can be renewed.

As I've stated in previous posts, as homemakers, we control the atmosphere of our homes. In fact, our home is the only environment over which we have control. No matter what storms are taking place on the outside ~ whether physical or spiritual ~ our home should be a place of sanctuary.

In her book "The Simple Home", Sharon Hanby-Robie writes, "For most of us sanctuary is synonymous with simplicity. Creating the simple home is not only practical for everyday living but also vital to spiritual health."

Charles Keeler, a poet and playwright in 1906, wrote that "The ideal home is one in which the family may be most completely sheltered to develop in love, graciousness, and individuality, and which is at the same time most accessible to friends, toward whom hospitality is as unconscious and spontaneous as it is abundant. Emerson says that the ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it."

Not only do I want my home to be a place of soul~nourishment for my family, but a place where my friends feel welcomed.

My next posts will be about the purpose of a simple home, as well as decorating hints and my thoughts on hospitality.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My Mother-in-Law's Breakfast Casserole

My wonderful mother-in-law made this breakfast for my husband & I when we came for a visit many years ago. She generously wrote out this recipe for me, and it has been one of my main "go-to" breakfasts for almost 14 years!

1 package unseasoned stuffing cubes
1 lb. sausage, cooked & drained
1/2 c. sliced mushrooms (small can)
2 c. grated Cheddar cheese
1/4 c. finely minced onion, sauteed in 1 T butter
1 T. chives
3/4 c. cream
1 1/4 c. milk
6 eggs
1 t. mustard
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Place half of croutons on the bottom, then layer the sausage, cheese, onions, and mushrooms. Combine the cream, milk, eggs, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, chives, salt and pepper into a blender. Pulse until mixture is completely incorporated. Pour over the layers in the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool for about 10 minutes, then cut into squares and serve.

You can substitute bacon or ham for the sausage, or use a mixture of the three. You can also make it vegetarian by adding a variety of peppers or mushrooms.

I usually serve this with my fruit salad and a glass of milk.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Meal Planning and More

One of the most important responsibilities of being a homemaker is to prepare nourishing, healthy meals for our family. As a bride, I was excited to cook for my new husband. However, as the years progressed, the excitement wore off. I was tired of the regularity of our evening meals, even though I had well over a month's worth of recipes. I also wanted to be more creative than having the usual cereal for breakfast and mac-n-cheese for lunch!

Answer to prayer ~ The Food Network! My favorite TV chefs are Paula Deen & Ina Garten. Also, the Internet! I love, love love Ree Drummond, a.k.a. "The Pioneer Woman". All of these women prepare what I call regular food ~ delicious, simple food that doesn't involve expensive ingredients or wierdo combinations.

The above-mentioned women were home cooks that expanded to businesses. Paula started her own catering service called "The Bag Lady". Ina bought a specialty food shop/catering business, and became known as "The Barefoot Contessa". Ree began a simple blog to share her daily experiences on a ranch, but has burst out on the scene with her own successful cookbook and new novel. Now these women enjoy cooking for the sheer pleasure of it!

I'm always in search of a new recipe, or a new way to do things to make my cooking better. I've learned through Ina that roasting food makes the flavors richer and concentrated. (Her recipe for roasted onions is amazing!) Paula has several recipes that have now become some of my family's favorites, such as her Mashed Baked Potatoes, and Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler, to name a couple. Ree's Chocolate Sheet Cake and 4-Cheese Pasta are incredible!

Since the hubs gets paid every other week, I have to shop accordingly. The Thursday before, I sit down with cookbooks, printed recipes off the web, and my recipe box. I do my best to incorporate what I have on hand first as I choose 14 dishes for supper, breakfast, and lunch. I plan on 2 desserts per week and 2 appetizers for us to munch on Sunday evenings ~ our large meal is at lunchtime. Since our weekends are now open (Upward Basketball and Cheerleading are over for the season) I'll plan 2 "big" breakfasts as well.

After the meals are chosen, I write down everything I need to prepare them. I also try to plan easier meals for our busiest evenings ~ things I can make ahead or stick right into the oven. I write them down on a calendar, but I don't make a big deal of it. If I happen to cook Wednesday's meal on a Monday, it's totally okay.

Here's my menu for this week 2/27-3/5:

2/27 B: Cereal, Fruit, Milk (Our norm for Sundays.)
L: We were able to eat out at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Casa. Yummy!
D: Popcorn ~ we were still full from Casa!

2/28 B: Cereal Bars, Fruit, Yogurt
L: PBJ Sandwich, Fruit, Water
D: Pizza, Salad

3/1 B: Waffles, Fruit, Milk
L: Leftover Pizza, Carrots w/ dip, Water
D: Meatloaf, Mac-n-Cheese, Green Beans, Water

3/2 B: Cereal, Fruit, Milk
L: Mini Ravioli, Fruit, Water
D: Chicken Pot Pie, Green Salad, Strawberry Jello w/ fresh whipped cream topping

3/3 B: Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Milk
L: Mac-n-Cheese, Fruit, Water
D: Tuna Noodle Casserole, Peas, Water

3/4 B: Blueberry Muffins, Fruit, Yogurt
L: Turkey & Cheddar Sandwich, Fruit, Water
D: Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes & Gravy, Mixed Veggies, Chocolate Pudding, Water

3/5 B: Cereal, Fruit, Milk
L/D: We'll be in Kansas City all day for the annual AWANA games, so we'll be eating out.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Home Manager ~ Responsiblity & Accountability

Being a homemaker means that we are given the responsibility to guide our homes. 1 Timothy 5:13-14 tells us that the young women of Timothy's church were "idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not." Their behavior let others outside of the church to speak poorly of Christians. Mrs. George writes, "Obviously, having a home to manage would contribute positively to these women's lives by, at the very least, eliminating the opportunity for these negative behaviors."

I knew a woman such as this. Every day, after she dropped her kids off to school, she spent the majority of her day running around town to shop, eat out, and drop by to chat with other women of our church. Her speech wasn't edifying to others. She was almost prideful of the fact that she couldn't cook or didn't like to do housework. Most of her time was spent away from her home. How sad that she had bought into the lie that being a homemaker was something to avoid!

Guiding our home means to preside over it or to be the mistress of it. Please do not mistake this as the woman being the head of the home. Our husband is. Instead, we manage the home ~ we are the house~holder.

Just as in the familiar parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), we will someday give an accounting of how well we've managed all that our Master has placed in our care!

3 Tips to Remember:

1. Home management is God's best for us. We don't have to like it or feel like managing our homes, but God calls us to do it.

2. Decide to take home management seriously.

3. Live as though you'll be held accountable for the condition of your home and the use of your time because you will! How will the Lord and my family rate my service, my meals and my management?

Simply Chicken Pot Pie

Preheat oven to 375.

2 chicken breasts, bone-in, skin on
olive oil

Place chicken breasts on a sheet pan sprayed with cooking spray. Drizzle olive oil over chicken breasts and sprinkle liberally with salt & pepper. Roast at 375 for 35-40 minutes, or until juices run clear. Set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, remove skin, and pull meat from the bone, cut into bite-sized chunks.

1/2 onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 T butter

In a medium saucepan, saute onion & celery in the butter until softened. Remove from pan & set aside.

4 T (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 c. flour
2 c. milk
Bag of frozen mixed veggies

In same saucepan, melt the butter. Add in flour to make a roux. Add in milk, stirring until thickened. Add in mixed veggies, onion/celery mixture, and chicken. Mix well and remove from heat.

2 pie crusts (refrigerated or homemade)

Place 1 pie crust in bottom of a pie pan. Fill with chicken mixture. Top with remaining crust ~ carefully tuck in around the sides and crimp edges. Brush with cream and dust with salt and pepper. Cut slits on top to allow steam to escape.

Bake at 375 for an hour. If the top seems to be getting too brown, cover with foil. Serve with a salad and have jello for dessert. Yummy!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Clean Kitchen

Sorry about the lateness of this post. Life certainly got busy for the past few days! As I mentioned in my last post, I wanted to share some ideas for keeping a clean kitchen.

In my August 27th "This & That" post, I talked about how there were certain blogs that intimidated me with their high standards of how to do things "right". All kinds of cleaning schedules, from master schedules to daily and sometimes hourly schedules set my brain spinning! That's certainly not my intention for this post. I won't even begin to pretend that I'm setting "the" standard for being a Christian homemaker!

"This is the way, walk ye in it" is not my intention for this post ~ I just want to share some ideas I've read about and applied to my life for the past 20 years.

1. The Kitchen Sink Like I mentioned in one of my last posts, the kitchen sink can be one of the filthiest places in your home! When you're ready to close shop for the night, put an inch or so of hot water & 1/4 cup bleach in your sink for 5 minutes. Then, take a soft scrubbing pad or brush to really scour out your sink. Drain & rinse with hot water. If it floats your boat, dry it out & buff the faucet & knobs with the damp towel. The result? A sanitized, sparkly sink! (Try to say that 5 times fast!) If you have a garbage disposal, a great way to keep it clean is to dump some baking soda down the drain with a slosh of white vinegar. Yes, I know what I said earlier about white vinegar ~ pickle smell. Bear with me for a sec. First of all, it's cool because it bubbles up violently! When it has calmed down, I then turn on the hot water and the disposal. I tear off about a 2-inch square piece of aluminum foil and toss it in. The foil keeps the blades sharp. Also, to make it smell good, you can toss in an orange or lemon rind as the disposal does its thing.

2. The Kitchen Floor Ah, the kitchen floor! The place that gets all the action ~ from muddy shoes and doggie paws to dropped food and spilled milk. Like I mentioned earlier, I absolutely love my Swiffer cleaning tools! I personally believe that the Swiffer Vac and the Wet-Jet are 2 of the most amazing products on the earth! The vac has enough suction to pick up everything from cheerios to dried grass clippings. The little duster pads lift up dust, crumbs, and dog hair. The Wet-Jet is great for spills as well as a quick mop. For deep cleaning, though, I do the old-fashioned Mr. Clean with a gallon of hot water, sponge mop and scrub brush. I do that about once a month. The kiddos take turns with the Vac after the evening meals ~ and, if it really needs it, I do a quick mop afterwards. I usually Wet-Jet my floors around 3 times a week.

3. The Counter tops Counter tops can also carry germs. I keep them wiped off (usually with a soapy dishrag) as much as possible. When I really clean them ~ about once a week ~ I remove everything and use my good old Mr. Clean mixed with water I keep in a spray bottle. If any raw egg or meat has come in contact with my counters, I use my Mr. Clean. Formula 409 is good, too.

4. The Stove I absolutely despised my old stove with the electric burner coils! One boil over, and the reflector pan was trashed! I hated to clean them, but I didn't like putting foil over them, either. I was so ecstatic when the hubs bought me my dream stove ~ a smooth top, with a convection oven! Boil overs aren't quite so dramatic now. They are easy to clean up, but you have to have a special cleaner for the smooth top. I clean my stove top every day with the cleaner and a soft-scrubbing pad. I did try a cheaper one that came with pre-moistened pads, but it didn't do as well as the cleaner I got with my stove.

5. The Oven Okay, I'll be honest. The oven is the most neglected space I clean. Even though I have a self-cleaning oven, I don't do it nearly enough. It seems as soon as I clean it, something spills over! However, I've found that the inside glass doesn't get cleaned very thoroughly with the self-cleaning function. I still have to use Easy-Off for that. Hate those fumes, too ~ I think that's the real reason I put it off like I do!

6. The Refrigerator Also one of the most neglected spaces. How often do those well intended leftovers get shoved to the back of the fridge? You notice them a few days later, growing a science experiment on top! Bottles of salad dressing, mayo, ketchup & mustard with just a squirt or two left sit in the door. Spills coagulate on the shelves. The bottom of the veggie bin littered with tiny onion skins, a sadly wrinkled carrot or molding fruit. I try (note the keyword) to wipe out the shelves weekly with my Mr. Clean concoction. If any leftovers haven't been consumed within 3 days, I toss. I don't let stuff accumulate on the door, either. Any condiments are tossed if there's only a squirt left. I also don't put my eggs on the door. I heard that the best place for eggs is the carton they're sold in, on a shelf in the fridge.

7. The Dishwasher I do clean out my dishwasher once a month. In the past, I've used the regular dishwasher soap, set it on the highest temperature and ran it empty. I do like the new cleaning products, however. They really refresh the dishwasher. If you're a non-rinser like I am, sometimes food can accumulate at the bottom. I clean it weekly.

8. The Microwave I try to wipe up spills as they occur. I've read that if you've really got serious, stuck-on food, soak a regular sponge with water and place in the center of the microwave. Nuke it for 45 seconds or so. Apparently, the water in the sponge turns to steam and softens the gunk. Clean it with 409 or Mr. Clean solution.

9. The Backsplash, Cabinet Doors, Dusty Chandeliers, and the Top of the Refrigerator Are you like me and notice them only when they're absolutely gross? My cabinets and backsplashes are white, but I don't seem to notice the spill dribbling down the front. I totally forget about the top of the fridge and the chandelier over the kitchen table. I notice when it looks like it's growing fur! These are 4 areas I really need to work on!

10. Organization Try to put things in the cabinets and drawers that are kept handy as you work in the kitchen. Try to store silverware, glasses and place settings in cabinets and drawers that are nearest to your table. Create a baking station by storing mixing bowls, measuring spoons and cups near your flour & sugar canisters. Have pots & pan near the stove, as well as spatulas, wooden spoons, etc. This will save you a lot of extra steps as you work. I keep all my cooking utensils in a big ceramic jar. My measuring stuff, apple corer, veggie peeler, etc. are kept in different little tray compartments in a big drawer. (You can buy several of these for a dollar at Walmart.) Make your kitchen efficient for you!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cleaning Tips

Like I mentioned yesterday, I love it when my house is clean! In my humble opinion, nothing smells better to me than a fresh, yummy-smelling house! I had a friend who loved the smell of fresh laundry. In fact, laundry was her favorite thing to do. Good thing, because she did around 3 loads a day! She said the scent of clean laundry made her happy.

On a trip to the mall, I found my way into a popular candle store. There was an entire shelf laden with every size of candle dedicated to the scent of fresh laundry. In fact, the label showed clothes blowing on a clothesline! I found a cute little tin about the size of a silver dollar that was a mini candle in that scent. I jokingly gave it to her, declaring that if she ever needed a pick-me-up, to give the candle a whiff!

The first step in cleaning is decluttering, a.k.a. de-junking! I just went through this process yesterday with my girls. My oldest inherited the pack-rat gene from me. She keeps every little card and note any friend has ever given her. She spends hours creating animals out of pipe cleaners that are only an inch or so wide and tall. She also carefully and lovingly cuts out a million or so heart shapes no bigger than the tip of your pinkie, coloring them every shade of the rainbow. She then stacks them into a folded piece of paper. These are all very important to her, even though they've fallen behind the dresser or under the bed.

My youngest is just plain messy! She could care less if her toys are under the bed or piled in corners. I've tried to be creative with different boxes for her to put stuff in, but it doesn't bother her to have her toy dishes mixed in with her Barbies. There are some days when I can't even look in the room because if I did, my blood pressure would go off the charts!

Yesterday I decided to take a deep breath and go for it. The girls & I began making piles of stuff that littered the floor. I'll admit that I just about lost it when I pulled out a sock from under the dresser and found an entire stockpile of missing socks that had been shoved under it instead of being placed in the hamper. Also in the arsenal were candy wrappers, scraps of paper, Barbie shoes, play food, and safety pins. The Lord was with me, and I didn't loose my cool.

In no time at all, we had divided the junk ~ I mean stuff ~ into 4 piles ~ Tweenager's Pile, Preschooler's Pile, Doesn't Belong In Our Room Pile, and the Trash! Tweenager & Preschooler tackled their piles and put everything in its place. Bubby took out the trash, and all 3 put the Doesn't Belong In Our Room things away where they belonged. Tweenager then vacuumed. Today is Bubby's turn. He's not so thrilled, but knows it has to be done! Pray for me!

After de-junking, it's time to clean! I'm not so particular about using chemicals. I have some friends who make their own all-natural products, but the thought of cleaning with white vinegar and baking soda makes me think my house will smell like pickles. (I believe this because when my mom & mother-in-law clean out their coffee pots with white vinegar, their house smells like pickles!) However, I say if that's important to you, go for it! They make tons of natural cleaners now, but I must confess, I love the old stand-bys: Pledge, Windex, 409, Mr. Clean, (Febreeze scented!) CLR, Lysol Cling, Scrubbing Bubbles, and Tilex.

I do suggest in investing in a high-quality vacuum cleaner. The expense is well worth it! The hubs bought me a Dyson a couple of years ago, and I can't say enough good things about this vacuum! It really sucks the crud out of the carpet! Before I used it for the 1st time, I vacuumed the entire house with my old vac. Then came the test. Dyson's suction literally lifted the carpet fibers, and after one trip around my house, the dust canister was completely full!
Gross! I also like the 15 foot extension hose that has the different attachments. It's now a breeze to clean those pesky ceiling fans and spider threads that hang down! I just pop on the soft brush attachment, pull up, and the hose lifts right out. When I'm done, the hose slides right back into place. Love, love, LOVE this machine!

Another investment I believe to be worthwhile are the products by Swiffer. I have a Swiffer Wet-Jet and a Swiffer Vac. I use the Wet-Jet to clean the floors between regular moppings. It's also great to absorb up a liquid spill, like milk or soda. One pad soaks up the entire mess, a fresh one cleans it. The Swiffer Vac is great to clean up crumbs, dog hair, and crud the kiddos bring in from outside. I also like using the dusting pads, too. They really pick up dust from lampshades, and are great for under/around hard-to-get areas, like electronics.

I'm interested in Hoover's new scrubbing mop + vacuum. I like the idea of having the 2-in-1 They're around $75-$80, but there's not the extra expense of cleaning solution, mop pads, dust cloths or filters. I'm not sure how good it works, so I'll study up on it before/if I buy it.

For thorough cleanings, I have a Bissel ProDry Steam Vac we got through a great deal on Shop NBC. For my floors, I think that nothing beats the old-fashioned way ~ sponge mop, scrub brush, and bucket!

The dirtiest room in your house is, in fact, the kitchen. They've done tests and studies that show that you're better off eating an apple that's fallen into the toilet than one that's fallen into the kitchen sink! Okay, is anyone as repulsed as I am right now?

If your kitchen is anything like mine, it's actually the hub of the house. Our tiny dining space is right next to it. The only way out to the back yard is via the kitchen. My washer & dryer are on the far wall. Bella's (our sweet little mini Schnauzer) house is in a corner of the kitchen by the back door. Kiddos tramp though with muddy feet. Spills occur. Meat is thawed in the sink. A trash can is usually lurking nearby. Health is the most important reason our kitchens should be clean & free from clutter!

Tomorrow, I'll post some ways to help keep that kitchen fresh, clean, and sparkling!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cleaning 101

Yesterday's post touched on the importance of a clean & organized home. I believe that's it's incredibly important to have a house that's healthy and comfortable as well as a place that you're not embarrassed to show if unexpected company happens to drop by.

When my hubs comes in after a long day of work, the last thing he needs is to trip over shoes left by the front door, try to clear off a place for his lunch cooler & thermos, and move items off the couch so he can sit down!

When it's time to cook a meal, nothing's more frustrating than needing a pot to cook with ~ then realizing it's still in the sink from the night before with dried, crusting food sticking to it!

When it's time to do the laundry, nothing's more gross (or stinky!) than opening the lid to the washer and finding last week's wet towels you forgot to transfer to the dryer molding in the washing machine!

I'm in no way perfect with my housekeeping. I definately slip up from time to time ~ in fact, the above examples are from first hand experience! I'll be completely transparent with you and share that at this very moment, the floor in my closet has clothes piled on it, and I have wet clothes from last night still in the washer, waiting to be put in the dryer.

My mother was a fastideous housekeeper and ran a tight ship when it came to having a clean house. My brothers & I learned early on to keep our rooms neat and clean if we didn't want Mom upset. Clutter upset my mother horribly. Unfortunately, I was a bit of a pack-rat and didn't always meet her high standards. On more than one occasion, things would get unpleasant. The end result that I became like my mother ~ just as fastideous ~ just as demanding.

When I was a single woman, my apartment was always as neat as a pin, everything organized to perfection and scrubbed until it shown! Then, the hubs moved in. He's pretty organized, too, but we had to find room to add all of his stuff. One of the toughest things to fit was his huge metal desk. Did I mention it was ugly? There wasn't any extra space in the small bedroom or living room ~ I had already given up valuable wall space for his bookshelves! With no extra place for this horrific desk my new husband wasn't about to part with ~ no matter how many tears I shed ~ I soon realized that I had to get creative.

Fortunately, our apartment's floor plan had a large closet just off of the tiny dining area. On the bottom floors of the apartment complex, this area served as washer/dryer hookups. The second floors didn't have this option, but we had the space. Thankfully, after we cleaned out the closet, my husband's beloved, ugly desk fit right in, snug as a bug. We removed the closet doors, and I made a valance that matched my dining room to hide the ugly stack of boxes that was on the top shelf. I aptly named it "Hubby's Study Cove".

All in all, the hubs was pretty neat & clean, but he had this annoying habit that absolutely drove me nuts! Every evening, as soon as I had cleaned up the kitchen for the day ~ dishes whirling away in the dishwasher ~ he would take out a new glass, fill it an inch or so with water, drink it, and set it next to my sparkling sink. All I could think of was that my mother would've never allowed such blasphemy! Huffing and puffing, I washed the glass by hand, and put it away none too gently.

An hour or so later, he sweetly asked, "Honey, where's my glass?"
"I washed it and put it away," I replied through clenched teeth.
"Oh. I wanted another drink," he'd say nonchallantly, as he took out the glass and filled it up another inch before he'd drink it. Back by the sink it would go.

It took me a couple of years, but I learned to let it go. I realized that the hubs would always leave his glass by the sink, no matter what. Even after 14 years, his ritual is to get a glass out each night, and fill it an inch or two with water, drink it, and put it by the sink for a drink in the morning. I can honestly say that it doesn't bother me too much anymore, even though he's recently changed his "spot". The glass now goes next to/in front of the coffee pot.

With the addition of each child, I had more to keep clean and more clutter to keep up with. As I mentioned above, I had become a stickler for cleanliness, and sadly, my oldest daughter bore the brunt of my impossible standards. She was almost afraid to get her toys out and play, lest she make a mess and upset Mommy.

Thankfully, during a shameful Mommy meltdown, I caught a glimpse of my uncontrolled, unreasonable anger in a closet mirror. When I looked at my daughter's frightened face, I saw my own. I remembered my own childhood fears of my mother's anger. That was my turning point. Dropping to my knees, I asked my little girl to forgive me. Asking for her forgiveness was the first step to my own healing. Yes, I've slipped from time to time over the years, but the scripture "Be angry and sin not", comes to my mind, compelling me to ask for my children's forgiveness.

When my youngest came along, I began to lack the energy or motivation to do anything. I really began to slide, but I was too tired to care. Everything was becoming too much for me to handle. I used to be able to clean the house top to bottom within a few hours, now it took me days, and then it would just get messed up again! I felt overwhelmed and hopeless.

I've now learned that I can't do it all by myself. My 2 oldest are more than capable to make their beds, clean their rooms, lug in their hampers on wash day, and then put their laundry away. They can vaccuum/dust their own rooms as well. They also clear off the table after meals, and put away the clean dishes from the dishwasher each day. My youngest knows she has to put her toys away, but it can become a battle. I'm trying to learn creative ways to get her to do her jobs without me loosing my cool. She's learning how to put her clothes away, and she brings in her hamper as well.

Yes, a clean home is important, but we must find a balance between being uncaringly neglectful and fastideously controlling. Tomorrow, I'll be sharing some of my cleaning tips with you.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Home Manager ~ Watching & Working

Today's post is about our role as being the manager of our home. "She watches over the ways of her household..." Proverbs 31:27 states.

In Biblical times, watchmen were appointed to stand guard on the city's walls to watch for hostile action or suspicious activity. As home managers, we are given the same responsibility to be on the alert to watch over our households. As the one keeping watch, the woman turns her head, looking everywhere so that she doesn't miss a single detail.

She doesn't give a cursory glance over things. This godly woman oversees everything that pertains to her home with an intent gaze that studies everything closely. She knows what's going on under her roof.

Again, this lady carefully notices the patterns of her home life ~ the "ways" of her household ~ such as the general comings & goings, the habits and activities of the people at home.

Her "household" ~ her immediate family ~ is her main concern. A wise woman who carefully manages her home sees to it that her family is cared for spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Part of this caring is praying faithfully for your husband and children. To do, however, we have to look at our own walk with God and deal with any and all sin in our own lives before we can intercede for our beloved family.

With your family properly cared for, we can now turn our attention to our house ~ the place we work. I personally believe it's extremely important to have a house that is clean as well as organized! I also feel that making meals from scratch ~ using fresh foods is more healthy than buying frozen, processed foods or eating out too much.

All too often, even those of us who are stay-at-home-moms fail to recognize the importance of a clean home by just letting stuff "slide" for a while. We also fall into the convenience trap. I know in my own life, it's usually a result of poor use of my time or just plain laziness (eating the bread of idleness).

Tomorrow's post will be about the importance of cleaning and decluttering your home.

Monday, February 14, 2011

"I Love You" Day

There are many ways we show our families how much we love them ~ keeping the house clean, folding their laundry, and fixing them meals comes to mind! However, last week, my preschooler's memory verse was from 1 John 3:18 ~ "My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth." Our theme song was "Let us love in action, let us love in truth." Those words convicted and challenged me to try to think of more creative ways to show my family how much I love them.

Since Valentine's Day being is today, I decided it was the perfect time to put my love into action!

I had planned on making our annual lasagna, salad & garlic bread for dinner, along with a red velvet heart-shaped cake. So, I asked myself, how could I be more creative? I had to go to Walmart anyway, so I braved the seasonal section and picked up a cute (cheap & reusable!) Valentine tablecloth, plastic (again, cheap and reusable!) Valentine cups, as well as paper plates, napkins, and Valentine cards. A quick trip to the dollar store gave me some cute decorations to hang from our light and on the patio door.

I got up a little earlier and surprised the kiddos with their favorite breakfast ~ pancakes, scrambled eggs & bacon. (I usually only make "special breakfasts" on the weekends.) To make it a little extra special, I tinted the pancake batter pink & made heart-shaped pancakes as well as their initial to put on top.

My oldest came in first, excited to smell pancakes cooking. When she saw the table, she was ecstatic! She ran back to wake up her brother & sister, exclaiming, "Hurry and come see! Mom made heart pancakes and we have decorations!"

The other two came scrambling in, excited and eager. My son said, "I knew you'd do something like this, Mom! I just knew it!" Youngest just looked around and then breathed, "Oh, Mommy, this is beautiful!"

It touched my heart to see how much my little acts of love ~ that didn't take much extra time and effort or added expense ~ thrilled them! They truly appreciated it!
My three little Valentines!

For dinner, I did make lasagna, but in cupcake form! I got the idea from another website ~ You just take 2 noodles, cross them, put in a layer of filling & sauce, and then fold one of the flaps over to cover the filling. You continue to layer until last flap is covered with sauce & cheese. It was pretty tasty, if I say so myself!
Lasagna Cupcake

We also had salad, and our favorite garlic bread. I made 12 red velvet cupcakes with heart sprinkles for the kids, and with the left over batter, made my hubs a heart-shaped cake. Dinner was rated 4 thumbs up!
Kiddos & the Hubs

Of course, I tell my children & husband how much I love them ~ every day, several times, in fact. But Preschooler's verse continued to come to mind: "Don't love just in word, but in deed." I wanted to put my love into action to bless my family, but I was blessed in return! Truly, it is more blessed to give than receive!"

My favorite pic of the day!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Making a House a Home ~ Avoiding the Negatives

We've studied ways how to build our home, but let's not ignore the last half of our verse from Proverbs 14:1 ~ "the foolish [woman] pulls it down with her hands".

When I think of pulling a house down, my mind goes to the TV series "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition". You know where I'm going with this. Bulldozers, wrecking balls, and zealous people eagerly smash, rip, and tear down what used to be a house. Do you notice it doesn't take long to ruin it? One bash of wrecking ball, and the house is no longer a place of shelter. It's open to the elements, unstable, and unfit to live in.

So how can a woman destroy her own home? "First, a woman can cause great damage actively: by working destruction." Mrs. George writes. This is usually uncontrolled anger. "It throws, it slams, it tears, and it rips. It also breaks things as well as rules." Doing these things is destructive enough, but "anger out of control also speaks words that break, destroy, ruin, and kill."

Not only can a woman destroy her home actively, but by being too passive ~ simply failing to work. Failing to follow through with our duties as homemakers erodes the foundation of our home. Laziness, neglect, forgetfulness, putting things off, and not spending enough time at home tears our homes down brick by brick. Also included in this is ignoring our duties while we are at home by watching extended times of TV, surfing the Internet for hours at a time, reading "just one more chapter", and spending too much time on the phone.

Let me continue with the parallel I wrote earlier. Remember the wrecking ball? With one whack, a house is suddenly unfit for people to dwell there. Just like that house, the woman who tears down her home with active or passive destruction is leaving her family at risk ~ exposed to the elements (a sinful world) in a home that is unstable (by either her neglect or uncontrolled anger) and unfit to live in (a stressful, uncomfortable place).

I must confess that I've been convicted with this post. All too often, I tear down what I spend so much time trying to build ~ with my impatience or selfishness! Mrs. George gives three steps to remember when building a home:

1. Avoid any attitude or act that doesn't build your home. (In other words, self-control!)
2. Decide to begin building. It's never too late!
3. Each day, do one thing to build your home. (Outwardly, like cleaning up clutter or inwardly, like giving a soft answer.)

She concludes with this thought, "Search your heart and your home. Which of these two women is most like you? Where are you placing your focus and investing your energy? Look beneath the cleaning and cooking to your heart."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Making a House a Home ~ Building a Refuge

Webster's defines refuge as a "shelter (a.k.a. something that covers, protects or defends) or protection from danger or difficulty". Other definitions include "a person or thing that gives shelter, help, or comfort" and "a place of safety; shelter; safe retreat". I was amazed as I thought about this! Part of my job as homemaker is to create a place my family feels secure, safe, and comfortable.

The old saying of "It's a jungle out there!" just about sums it up. It's harried and busy, and sometimes harsh and unkind. Our family needs a place to recuperate from a long day, and that place is home.

On a particular stressful day, my husband staggered in the front door, saying, "I knew if I could just get home, everything would be all right." Our home became that place of refuge for him. He needed the restful, calming atmosphere to unwind and refresh himself.

Even though we are a homeschooling family and my children are at home most of the time, I still need to create a place of refuge for them. A counselor reported that "a secure home life tends to reduce frustration and uneasiness in a child's life, and it gives them the ability to cope with pressures more effectively".

Oh, to build a home that strengthen/renews my family ~ to set up a place where hearts are renewed and souls are refreshed! What an amazing opportunity we're given as homemakers!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Making a House a Home ~ Creating an Atmosphere

We all know this verse in Proverbs ~ "Every wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her hands." Have you ever wondered ~ like me ~ what does it mean, exactly?

The verb "to build" actually means to make and to set up a house. This doesn't just imply the physical structure and upkeep of the house, but also to the family. That got me to thinking ~ how much more do I spend my time building (the upkeep) my house instead of building (nurturing) my family?

"Although the Hebrew word for "house" and "home" is the same, "home" is the preferred word here. This verse... speaks of home building; the knitting together of family and the day-by-day routine of creating a happy and comfortable place for a family to live." (Robert Alden)

I am the one who sets the mood and maintains the atmosphere inside my home. To be wise, like the verse above challenges, I have to diligently and purposefully create that atmosphere. I can't just hope it will happen on its own.

In her book "A Woman After God's Own Heart", Elizabeth George states that creating the atmosphere in our home is like using your thermostat to regulate the temperature inside your home. As the home manager, we are that thermostat, and we have the responsibility to set the ideal, comfortable temperature for our family.

Do I want the atmosphere to be warm, cheerful, loving, positive, and constructive? Then I must get my heart temperature right first! How can I possibly give away what I don't possess? Choosing to get up earlier to spend time alone with the Lord will help me to cultivate a heart like His.

Now, I have to "go to work to maintain the comfort in my home." Mrs. George writes, "If things start to get hot (hot words, hot tempers, hot emotions), I {must} set about to bring in cooling, soothing words ("a soft answer turns away wrath" ~ Proverbs 15:1) and words of peace ("the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace" ~ James 3:18).

Likewise, if things start to cool off (cold hearts, cold feet, cold shoulders), I {must} go to work giving a good word which makes hearts glad (Proverbs 12:25), remembering that "a merry heart makes a cheerful countenance: (Proverbs 15:13) and that "he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast" (Proverbs 15:15)."

Even through life's many challenges, my prayer is that God will give me the heart, wisdom and the words to create a healthy atmosphere in my home!

Monday, February 7, 2011

What is a Homemaker?

I've not posted in a while, because, quite frankly, I haven't really had the desire to. It was just one more thing on my never-ending "to do" list. Besides, I felt as if I'd gotten away from the main idea of this blog, which was to encourage my fellow sisters who are homemakers.

That got me thinking ~ what exactly is a homemaker, anyway? A homemaker is more than just a stay-at-home mom or the wife who takes care of her house by keeping it clean and organized. Yes, those things obviously come into play, but it's so much more than that. I want to not only make my house a home, but I want to love it and those I care for.

Beginning tomorrow, I want to share practical as well as spiritual ideas for homemaking.

Also, since I homeschool my three kiddos, I've decided to begin a new blog devoted to their schooling. It's called The Homeschooler's Haven. The link is in my sidebar under "Places I Visit". Feel free to stop by sometime!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Can you even believe it's 2011? I remember when, as a teenager, I couldn't fathom the year 2000 ~ Why, I'd be 32 years old! That seemed to be SO far away ~ so far removed from where I was ~ yet here we are, eleven years later, no less!

Happy 2011! Time for resolutions, time for new directions, time for change. I'm excited to see what the Lord has in store for my family in the coming year and how we will grow ~ hopefully closer to one another as we strive to move closer to our Savior!