Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My (Big)(Fat)(White)Christmas

Christmas came in this year with a blizzard. Fortunately, LovelyDaughter and JD agreed to come over a couple of days early, so they got snowed in at our house instead of theirs. And a friend of ours who was coming for Christmas also came early and got snowed in here, so we were set.

(Many other families were not that fortunate. JD missed visits with his family because some of them were snowed in by the blizzard in Oklahoma City, and others were stuck in another town in Nebraska. I know he was enormously disappointed.)

FOOD: Christmas Eve I cooked a small turkey--I insisted that for once we had to have turkey, for me, because to me that says "HOLIDAY"-- with mashed potatoes, etc., and pumpkin pie. Christmas Day I cooked a ham, and did verenike with onion gravy, etc., with pecan pie for dessert.

EVENTS: Christmas Eve we played "In A Pickle," and then we put out our plates. In the morning I put out the gifts, covered by bandannas, and filled the stockings with pistachios and candy. When everyone got up, we sat around the table and the kids took turns uncovering the gifts that Hubby and I gave them, and emptying the socks. Then we moved over by the woodstove and the kids gave gifts to each other and to us. In the middle of it all, DrummerDude called (!) from Costa Rica where he is on Outreach with YWAM. (By the way, my little countdown calendar tells me he has been gone for 102 days and he'll be home in 39!)

After the gift excitement was over, we still had the excitement of the blizzard outside, and watching the snow dump and blow into huge drifts. We didn't get dug out until Monday afternoon.

And now here I am, two days later, all the snowbound guests gone home, looking at the piles of snow outside, and the gray, gray day. No, gray is not exactly the right word. I guess technically the day is white, white, white. White snow, white clouds, white sky, white everything. But it FEELS gray. And that makes ME feel gray.

But I'm trying to feel sunnier. I got on Facebook and I answered all but two of the dozen or so "requests" that I've been trying to ignore. I sent back doohickeys.

I did something today that I've been procrastinating for several weeks. And I'm finishing up a batch of homemade granola that I bought the ingredients for a month ago. And, amazingly, someone I haven't talked to for a very long time contacted me yesterday, and we are meeting this afternoon for a visit. She has no idea yet how much it means to me, and I'm sure I will feel a lot sunnier afterwards!

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Change

So, I messed around with my blog a little and made it into a three column layout. Do you like it this way?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Bit of an Answer

Last night we received some tragic news. A friend of ours called and told us that his daughter (a couple years older than GuitarGeek, and newly married) was hit by a snow plow and killed.

Our hearts are grieved and aching for the pain our friends are feeling right now. What can you say? What can you do?

This kind of thing always rocks my theology. About the time I think I have God figured out, something happens and I don't know where to fit it into my picture.

Is this incident a total freak accident? If so, then where is the God who has all our days in his hands, and planned our lives before we were born, and has all the hairs of our head numbered?

Is this then something planned by God? If so, what kind of God plans for one of His children to be killed? And for others of His children to be put through the agony of grief?

So then is this really an attack of Satan-- a demonic action? If so, why? Why did God allow it? Where is the God spoken of in Psalm 91 where those who trust God are under His protection?

And what about the stories I've read of miraculous interventions and rescues, of people who inexplicably found themselves drawn to pray for someone and found later a tragedy had been averted? Why didn't God intervene in this case? Where were the people who were supposed to pray? Or weren't there any?

It all boils down, for me, to one question: Can I trust God? Is He trustworthy? Is my life truly in His hands, or do I need to look out for myself?

It's a real question, not just rhetoric. Because the answer affects the way I live my life. When something bad happens to me or my friends, what should we do? Fight the demonic forces that must be warring against us? Rebuke the evil? Accept it? Rest in God's perfect plan? Give thanks in ALL THINGS? Shrug and say "stuff happens"? Believe that All Things Work Together For Good?

If I can't find some sort of answer I can live with, then my heart becomes overwhelmed with fear. If it could happen to them, it could happen to us! And if God didn't protect them, how can I believe that He will protect us?

I don't know for sure. I know what I think, but that doesn't mean much unless it's really truly TRUE.

However, I know this:

Last night I prayed, asking God for SOMETHING, at least a bit of an answer, and this morning I pulled out Daily Light, a devotional book I haven't used in a while and found exactly that, a bit of an answer.

Look at these excerpts:

"When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live-- God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life...

If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also."

This then is a bit of an answer, and one of the messages of the Cross. There is hope. There is something more after this life, and it will be good. I suppose that's why the Apostle Paul said that the weight of the glory awaiting us is far greater than the weight of the affliction we suffer now.

Sometimes that's all the answer we get, but at least it's a bit of one.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving, or Pre-Advent

I was reading the online Divine Hours yesterday and part of the prayers included the old Thanksgiving hymn, Come Ye Thankful People Come.

I was struck by the familiarity of the words, even though I haven't sung that hymn for years. It was a Thanksgiving Day tradition at the church I grew up in. But reading the words, with no music, I suddenly SAW the words. Isn't funny how you can sing words over and over and not really comprehend their meaning?

For the first time I realized that the song begins as a thankful prayer about harvest, and goes on to talk about the great harvest at the end of the age, when God sends his angels to sift out the wheat from the tares.

It was the greatest revelation I've had since last Christmas when I first learned that in Advent season we not only remember and celebrate Christ's first Advent, but we remind and ready ourselves for his Second Advent.

This Thanksgiving hymn is also sort of an Advent hymn, reminding us that as we're being thankful for our earthly harvest, we should remember and be ready for the Great Last Harvest.

And I love this prayer from the song:

"grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be."

That is my prayer this Thanksgiving, pre-Advent week: that God, by His gracious Spirit would make me pure and wholesome grain.

Here are all the words, from Home

694. Come, Ye Thankful People, Come
Text: Henry Alford, 1810-1871
Music: George J. Elvey, 1816-1893
Tune: ST. GEORGE'S WINDSOR, Meter: 77.77 D

1. Come, ye thankful people, come,
raise the song of harvest home;
all is safely gathered in,
ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide
for our wants to be supplied;
come to God's own temple, come,
raise the song of harvest home.

2. All the world is God's own field,
fruit as praise to God we yield;
wheat and tares together sown
are to joy or sorrow grown;
first the blade and then the ear,
then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we
wholesome grain and pure may be.

3. For the Lord our God shall come,
and shall take the harvest home;
from the field shall in that day
all offenses purge away,
giving angels charge at last
in the fire the tares to cast;
but the fruitful ears to store
in the garner evermore.

4. Even so, Lord, quickly come,
bring thy final harvest home;
gather thou thy people in,
free from sorrow, free from sin,
there, forever purified,
in thy presence to abide;
come, with all thine angels, come,
raise the glorious harvest home.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Lookout Point

I've been on a bit of a kick now since I joined Facebook. A desire has grown in me to find out what has happened to many people I knew in the past. Where are they now? What are they doing?

I feel a bit like I've been on a long mountain hike. I started out at the bottom with many other people my own age, and we took off on our own paths. Now I'm at a lookout point, where I can stand and look out over the valley and the path I've come and I find myself wanting to touch base with those who started out the same time I did.

It's been a bit difficult, though. I'm sure most of my girl friends are married, and I have no idea what their married names are. I've found a few of the guys I knew, but most of them I was not exactly on speaking terms with, so why would I start now?

Then I decided I wanted to look up my first boyfriend, T. I had a horrendous crush on him when I was in 7th grade. By the time I was in 9th grade, he decided he liked me too, and we dated exclusively for a couple of years. In fact, it began to look as if Fate had determined to link our lives together.

But something wasn't right. For one thing, I wanted God to choose my husband, not fate. I determined to make a break, but T didn't feel the same, and instead asked me to marry him. I was only 17 at the time, but he was 19 and off to college. He wanted to get this settled.

Eventually, after much time spent literally on my knees, I managed to give him a "No" that he understood, though he promised to not give up yet.

At the end of my first year at college, I was engaged to Hubby and planning a Fall wedding. At home I found a letter waiting me from T, asking for one last "date." I agreed to the picnic, just to say a permanent good-bye. He offered to continue to be my friend after my marriage, to be someone I could talk to about things I couldn't talk to my husband about (!!) but that was the final nail in the coffin and I left him behind with no regrets.

Now after all these years I became curious. Did he go on to have a good life? Did he find a girl to marry? Did he do well? Or did he become an alcoholic like his father? Did he make it or did he not? Was he even still alive?

Yesterday I searched for him (oh, the glories of Google) and I FOUND him.

That is, I found his obituary. He died in the spring of 2008, after having a good life with a wife and two daughters, and honored for his volunteerism.

I'm glad he did well, and I'm glad to find I have no more interest in him than in any of my past acquaintances (no hidden broken heart here). I'm not sorry at all that I chose Hubby over T.

But the oddest thing about this incident is that I found I was not surprised at all that he had died. In a sense, he died to me 29 years ago. What surprised me was that he had a life.

I saw his picture on the memorial plaque the volunteer organization erected for him, and I recognized him. All I had remembered over the years was the 20-year-old that left me with a bad taste in my mouth, but I saw in his eyes the 15-year-old that I so admired. I'm sorry he only made it this far, and not to the top of the mountain.

Good-bye, T, for the last time.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Back again, till the cord dies again...

So Hubby fixed my computer cord AGAIN, and here I am!

But not for long at the moment, because it's time to make supper, and hungry people don't go away, they just keep getting hungrier.

However, I have been busy doing many different things, and NOT doing many different things. After all, it takes time and energy to cook, clean, procrastinate, and shop. And now I have a list about six feet long of things I'd like to write about, such as:

*my latest wardrobe acquisitions, including a pair of Born boots which somebody somewhere must have used my foot for the pattern for.

*our trip to Colorado to play with the One Chord worship team for a weekend conference.

*MB3's new project: a cello!!

*the emotional aftermath of two--TWO--families we are friends with moving away in the SAME WEEK.

*how excited I am to have a reason to practice my four-string guitar again.

And I have a list just as long of things I've been thinking about that don't really deserve blog posts. I think it's middle-age angst. But you don't want to hear all that, so I'll spare you.

And with that, I'm off to make pizza.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What's that big, bright light in the sky....?

Oh, that's the SUN! Gee, it's been so long, I didn't know.... But it's definitely nice!

And now the leaves are falling like rain, and getting crunchy on the ground. I need to take a nice long walk in the crunchies--it cheers me up.

Friday and Saturday Hubby and GuitarGeek and I played with One Chord, a itinerant worship team we play with several times a year. It was fabulous and very enjoyable. We play again with the team in a couple weeks, one night at the prison, and again in November for a whole weekend conference. I'm looking forward to it.

Plus, we have hooked up with another couple who plays music and we already have a "gig" (I hate that word, but it's useful) lined up in December. Now we just need to practice and come up with a name for ourselves!

But that's all for another day. Today? I'm packing a birthday box for DrummerDude who is in Montana at YWAM DTS(Youth With A Mission, Discipleship Training School). His birthday is next Saturday--he turns 21!-- and I want to send him a party in a box!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I know I said I was looking forward to it, but...

The last three days have been cloudy, cloudy (sad face); and cold enough to keep the wood stove going (smiley face). The east wind has been blowing (sad face) and that makes me ache all over (sad face). Hubby is feeling kinda low (sad face) and I'm having trouble with procrastinating (sad face).

Actually to be completely accurate, I'm not having trouble with procrastinating, I'm doing very well at it, thank you (sad face, again).

It looks like the score is Six to One in favor of the Sad Face. I think I need a little help!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

And I'm looking forward to winter too!

Shortly after I wrote my last post, my laptop cord died again. Ho hum, here we again, sharing the main computer.

Ornery's Wife, at Thoughts from Miller Manor, wrote a list of things she's loving about life lately, and I decided to steal her idea. Here are some things I'm enjoying:

--Putting up garden produce as a hobby instead of a project. You know, where you only do it as long as it's fun and then you quit. Quite a change. So instead of two hundred quarts of tomato-ey stuff, I have eight pints and six quarts of tomato juice--I had a great time making them.

--Sitting by our woodstove on these chilly evenings. I LOVE heating our house with wood, especially with our stove that has glass windows so you can see the fire. It creates such a cozy atmosphere.

--Spending lots of one-on-one time with my youngest son. He hasn't had as much of that as I would have liked over the years, being the youngest of four.

--Using my cloth shopping bags when I buy groceries. It gives me great satisfaction to use them; for one thing, they're pretty, and for another, I no longer have to deal with hundreds of throwaways.

--The feeling I'm having lately of being a floating cork that's had some weight lifted off of it. I realized that, in truth, I have quite a bit of natural buoyancy but it's been held under water for a while by much responsibility, or emotional stress, making me tired and inefficient, or worse, lazy. At this stage of my life some of those things are letting up and, once I've gotten used to it, I've been liking the sense of freedom and renewed energy.

And? The first snowfall! It's snowing today, and it also happens to be our 28th wedding anniversary, so it's a very good day.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Few Changes

I had a week or so where I was without my laptop because my cord died; it died while I was using it, and I didn't realize it till my battery switched to reserve power, and there I was-- a dead cord and a dead battery.

So I had to go back to sharing the desktop computer with my husband, which made me be frugal with my computer time! Instead of using my feed reader to check blogs multiple times a day, I used the links on my blog page-- which were not up to date since I was using my reader instead-- to check blogs once in the morning, and maybe once in the evening.

Oddly, I found it freeing. I thought I was using my feed reader to make following blogs easier. Well, it was easier, compared to keeping a bookmark list in my browser, where I had to go to each blog every day and see if they'd posted anything new. The feed reader told me instantly whenever there were updates.

And therein in lay the difficulty: I was being controlled by the crazy thing. Every time it updated it dinged a nice little update noise and added a little number to the reader icon. I would hear the ding from across the room and come running. Oh look! 27 updates! And being slightly compulsive about lists, I felt I had to look at each one so I could "check it off," so to speak.

I had no idea this was what was happening until I had a week without my laptop, using my link list and whatever blog addresses I could recall from memory. Now that I know, I've decided I don't like that compulsive feeling.

So I've moved all my links to my blog page, using Blogger's new "Blog List" gadget, which is basically a feed reader. It lets me see who has updated recently, and the title of the post, and I can choose whether I want to go look or not.

It's amazing, really, how much better this way is for me all around. I no longer feel obligated to read Every.Single.Post RIGHT NOW; there is no insistent little number sitting there! I can read a few now, some later, some never. I can even -*gasp*- save a blog up and read a week's worth of updates all at once!

One interesting little thing I've noticed--for what it's worth--is that now that I must go to the actual website, I feel more satisfied with my blog browsing. Something about seeing the real page, with its graphics and pictures and extra stuff, rather than just plain text in a reader, is a much richer experience. It's sort of like visiting real people instead of just reading emails. If that makes any sense.

You may also notice that I've given myself a new name. I've decided I no longer need to hide behind my role as a mom by calling myself "mom huebert." My new blog name is one of my nicknames, "cindy kay."

I think this is part of my mid-life makeover: I'm ready to face the world as myself, as a woman, and not only as "wife" and "mother." I'm still both of those things, and very glad of it, but I'm ready to be just ME as well.

(Plus, I've begun to feel a little funny about interacting on other blogs with other woman my own age, or close to it, as "mom"!)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Guaranteed To Make You Laugh...Or Your Money Back

At least, I personally laughed until I cried. Your results may vary.

Monday, September 21, 2009

When All Else Fails, Steal a Meme

When All Else Fails, Steal A Meme

I'm stealing this from Beck.!

1. The phone rings. Who will it to be? Someone wanting tree work done.

2. When shopping at the grocery store, do you return your cart?Yes.

3. In a social setting, are you more of a talker or a listener?a listener; unless you start asking me about myself, and then I talk too much. Or if you ask me about my kids, and then I monopolize the conversation. You have been warned.

4. Do you take compliments well? I didn't used to, but I think I do now. I try to just say Thanks..

5. Do you play Sudoku? No. just can't seem to get interested.

6. If abandoned alone in the wilderness, would you survive? I like to picture myself as a Wilderness Survivor. I definitely could survive indefinitely in a camping situation, i.e., prepared to live primitively. But to just get plopped down in the middle of nowhere with nothing... I don't really know.

7. Did you ever go to camp as a kid? Absolutely. Every summer of my life from age 8 to age 18, and a couple of years as an adult (working as staff).

8. What was your favorite game as a kid? Spirograph?

9. If a sexy person was pursuing you, but you knew he was married, would you? No. And since I'm already taken, not even if he WASN'T married.

10. Could you date someone with different religious beliefs than you? Not if our beliefs were too different.

11. Do you like to pursue or be pursued? Please, come initiate a friendship, a conversation, an outing, a phone call....

12. Use three words to describe yourself? small, bland, quiet

13. Do any songs make you cry? Yes. Last Christmas I bawled over "Santa Will Find You" by Mindy Smith. Otherwise, it's usually worship music or beautiful instrumentals.

14. Are you continuing your education? I read a lot, and positively LOVE to l look stuff up. It's my hobby, researching. I'm the one who jumps up from the dinner table to look up a word in the dictionary... Hubby is like, no, no don't bother, and I'm like, yes, yes, I love this!

15. Do you know how to shoot a gun? Yes. I won pins at camp, and once I impressed my kids by killing a rabbit that was threatening to dismember our garden.

16. Have you ever taken pictures in a photo booth? No..

17. How often do you read books? All the time.

18. Do you think more about the past, present or future? I worry a lot about what I'm supposed to be doing right now and hoping I've done well in the past, and wondering what's coming. Does that answer the question? 

19. What is your favorite children’s book? Maybe "Heidi"?

20.What color are your eyes? Green.

21. How tall are you? 5 foot 2. And a half.

22. Where is your dream house located? I don't know anymore, and it probably doesn't matter by now, because I can't see starting now, at nearly 50, to find it. Although, who knows? We're not dead yet.

23. If your house was on fire, what are the first things you grab?My family. Probably nothing else, because how do you prioritize in that panicked moment what should be saved? And even if I made a list now, would it help then? Like, in that moment of emergency I'm running around trying to find MY LIST!

24. When was the last time you were at Olive Garden? .I think last year.

25. Where was the furthest place you traveled today? Today? Across the house to the bathroom. (We have been driving around A LOT lately, and this is a nice change.)

26. Do you like mustard? Yes. Any kind, unless it's too hot, but especially the kind with horseradish in it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Birthday gift in action...

Last week I made a mini shopping bag for a two-year old's birthday gift.

Here it is in use:

To see another creative use of the same bag, go here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bits of News

Well, things are speeding up around here. DrummerDude leaves in 10 days to go to Lakeside, Montana for YWAM's Discipleship Training School (DTS)-- the same one LovelyDaughter went to a few years ago. He will have classes for twelve weeks and then go off for a two month outreach in Thailand, or Ukraine, or Nepal, or somewhere--he won't know till after he starts school.

So now that he's put in his last day of his job, he's got a few days to do things like shop for clothes and renew his drivers license and pack.

In the meantime, Hubby and I are looking forward to joining some new friends to play music at a local event called Old Trusty Days, sometimes fondly called Old Rusty Days, since it's mostly an antique tractor show. We have the stage for an hour on Sunday, and this will be new for us, playing without our kids. We had a practice session the other night so we could learn some of their songs, and I think the whole thing is going to be a blast.

Another interesting tidbit concerns Hubby and our friend Swede. I may have mentioned at some point that last winter Swede was able to buy his dream turning lathe for a ridiculously great price-- and he promptly brought it over here to set up next to Hubby's lathe, and the two of them have had "lathe parties" all winter and every rainy day this summer.

The upshot of all this is that they decided to enter a few of their pieces--mostly bowls-- in the State Fair. Yesterday they brought their stuff home, and found that Swede had won 1st and 2nd, while Hubby had won 3rd and 4th.

Which sounds really cool, except theirs were the only four entries!

And now they've discovered a woodturners club in nearby BigCity (and why didn't any of THEM enter projects in the Fair, hmmmm?) and the next meeting is next week. I hope they go and get to compare notes with other enthusiastic turners. And when I say enthusiastic, I'm thinking of Swede, who spends all his free time between farming chores over here working on his turning lathe, and he keeps saying, "When does it stop being fun?"

Thursday, September 3, 2009


I haven't been around here much because I've discovered the joys of Facebook.

It's funny, because I kinda always figured I'd never get into the Facebook/MySpace/Twitter stuff. But one day I decided to try it out. Not MySpace--I have a blog, after all. And Twitter doesn't make sense to me. I think it's too ADD or something.

Anyway, Facebook has been great. It seems like here in our busy, rural community we rarely cross paths with people we know, and Facebook is a way to keep in touch between times.

It's been good to actually connect with people more often than once a year.

It's also been good to find out how many friends I have. (More than I thought!)

And it's been totally weird to check up on people I graduated from high school with, nearly thirty years ago (ACK! Thirty?! Did I just say that?) When did they get so OLD? LOL.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

DIY Makeover: Sunday Black

Another example of looking good in pretty much the same color, head to foot: This a reasonable facsimile of what I wore Sunday, except the tee shirt is exactly the shirt I wore. I know the shirt looks plain and casual, but, somehow, on me, it looks dressy. Can't explain it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

DIY Makeover: Summer Brown

So I've been working on my style, and here is a sample of what I've discovered looks good on me:

This outfit is very similar to what I'm wearing today. The cardigan I have actually has embroidered flowers on the front in green, blue, and tan, and, while I haven't worn it yet today, I will take it along tonight to Worship Team Practice, in case the air conditioning is a little too persuasive.

I've found that for me, wearing basically all one color makes me look really sharp. It's not really "cool," since this season we're all about that "pop of color," but there it is.

Since I've discovered Polyvore, I think I'll do more of this. Won't that be fun!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sweet, Hot Summer Time

Snippets from my summer thus far:

--Tanking on the Cedar River with friends.

--Exploring Fort Hartsuff, with the same friends

--Eating fresh sweet corn

--Celebrating with MB3 on his new motorcycle license (by eating fancy ice cream).

--Helping LovelyDaughter with her new "fitness program"--lose 12 pounds and tone your abs!--one that no one else wants to try, since it involves an unidentified bacteria, and includes sleeping on the bathroom floor. (I use the word "sleeping" very loosely.) Fortunately, she's fine now, and aside from JD, everyone else escaped.

--Making fried okra for the first time and having it turn out!

--Reading detective novels by Dorothy Sayers and Ngaio Marsh. It's been refreshing, because I haven't done any "real", i.e., "new", reading for quite a while; that is, I've only done the kind of reading you do to help yourself fall asleep, which is light, familiar stuff I've read many times already. That's the kind for sleeping tonic, because it's warm and friendly and it doesn't matter if you fall asleep in the middle.

--Praying for friends this week over the tragic death of a thirteen-year-old friend of their family. We were shocked at the news; we had just spent a day tanking with our friends and this boy. And that's really all I want to say about that.

----Birthday party/Barbecue/Swim party at which I got to wear my brand new swim suit; and I can report that it does me very well on the water slide, but not so much when I use the diving board... :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


A few weeks ago I wrote about some things and kind of left y'all hanging, so here's the wrap-up.

1) You may remember that I wrote about buying this: Mattress Set

That's a Doctor's Choice Plush mattress from Denver Mattress Co. At first, we were very disappointed in it, because we were so sore all over from trying to sleep on it. (Notice I said "trying" to sleep!)

We called the store and told them our concerns and they graciously did the research to find out exactly which mattress we had slept on in Colorado. The result was that, yes, we had the right mattress, but mattresses take up to two weeks to break in.

Aha, I said. Maybe the mattress is new and stiff and needs a little help. So, for three days, I spent some time jumping on the bed! I found that all the coils, and whatever innards there were, would creak until I had "loosened" them up a bit, so I jumped until the mattress got quiet!

Believe it or not, it worked! Now the mattress is as comfy as the hotel mattress. (I guess that one had been broke in already by many people sleeping on it.)

2)Our new couch came!
It's an even richer color in person. It's not very cushy, seeing as it's actually office/reception lounge furniture, but Hubby and all the boys think that's a definite plus. The boys say it's hard to hold an intelligent conversation when you're sunk into a plushy sofa and it feels like your heels are as high as your head. Well, that definitely is not a problem here. You sit nicely upright. And it's not too bad to stretch out on for a snooze, either.

3) My new yellow shoes are nice.
Naturalizer Gersen Chrome Yellow CanvasI had to snip the thread that held the bow flat and loosen the knot a little on the left shoe, and then wear the shoes a couple of times, before they broke in across the top of my foot. But now they're nice. I still have my doubts as to whether bright, attention-grabbing shoes are really my thing, but since I got such good deal on them, I feel like I can afford to experiment.

That's all I have time for today. More later, maybe.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Book Meme

I saw this at real style real people and it made me curious. I am, after all, actually reading a book right now, and I have to try it.

Here's how it works:

*Tell the title of the book you are currently reading
*Turn to page 77
*Write the eleventh sentence on that page.

Here's the 11th full sentence on page 77 of Lord Peter, by Dorothy Sayers:

" 'It's a crime crueller and infinitely worse in its results than murder.' "

It's a crime worse than murder?? What is it?? Ack. I'm going to have to go find out!

I'm on page 64 in my actual reading right now, so I think if I read fast I'll find out soon. Bye for now...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Best Dishwasher Detergent, UPDATED

(Originally published August 1, 2007)

Two years ago, my life in the kitchen took a dramatic turn: we bought a dishwasher. Except for a brief respite of a year or so (when I was sick and we had been given a used dishwasher which we used till it died) I have done dishes the old-fashioned way: make the kids do'em.

Of course, many times it ended up to be my turn as well, and with four growing children, and homeschooling, and cooking from scratch, our whole kitchen seemed to be dishes. Dirty dishes on the counter waiting to be washed. More dirty dishes in the sink being washed. Clean dishes in the drainer waiting to be dried. More clean dishes on a towel waiting to be put away.

With the advent of the dishwasher that all changed. It became a fun game for me to load up the dishwasher and then clean up the rest of the kitchen while my happy Bosch maid washed the dishes for me. As time went on, it degenerated to dirty dishes on the counter waiting to be loaded, and clean dishes in the dishwasher waiting to be put away, but it was still much better than B.D. (before dishwasher)

And then I tried a new detergent. I had been using a gel, even though the people at the appliance store- and even the sticker on the dishwasher- recommended powder, because it made more sense to me. It was already wet, so it didn't need to dissolve; it should work great-- and it did. But then my conscience began squirming and said maybe I needed to use what the experts said to use. I bought a big box of powdered detergent and it was a disaster! The powder got into every cranny of my dishwasher and hardened there into a cross between cement and putty.

My dishwasher was no longer a happy little maid, but a surly slave. "You want clean dishes, I'll give you clean dishes....NOT!" It seemed to delight in spraying most of the soil from the dishes up inside the glasses and drying it there. Oh joy. There's nothing more frustrating than putting a relatively clean glass into the dishwasher (it just had iced tea in it) and taking it out completely coated with unidentifiable gook that must be scrubbed off.

I also was having trouble with a white coating on all the glassware, and the troubleshooting guide that came with my dishwasher was not exactly helpful. If my glassware has white streaks, it means I used too much rinse-aid. If my glassware has white deposits, it means I used too little rinse-aid. The problem was, I couldn't tell the difference between a deposit and a streak. In fact, it looked like I had both. So that meant I was using too much and too little rinse-aid?

We spent nearly a year fighting with this mess, but I won't bore you with the myriad of possible causes and solutions, or recount to you how many times I ran the dishwasher empty of dishes with some new something that might-- this time-- clear everything up. I'll jump straight to the happy ending.

We decided the problem was twofold: hard water, and soap scum. And the solution entails two parts as well. The first is a product called LemiShine, which I found at our local grocery store. I followed the instructions on their website and then ran the dishwasher empty one more time, and Wa-La! that took took care of all the residual soap scum and hard water deposits.

Next, we needed something to keep it that way while getting the dishes clean. And that something is a recipe I found for homemade powdered dishwasher detergent that works wonderfully. No scum, no hard water deposits, and no concrete buildup-- in short, clean dishwasher and clean dishes.

So here's the recipe, as I made it:

Dishwasher Powder

1 cup Borax
1 cup baking soda
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup LemiShine

Use a tablespoon per load, a little more, a little less, depending on how dirty the dishes are and how hard your water is.

I am just thrilled. I have my dishwasher back. And my dishwasher is a happy little maid again.

Check out this blog: and search under Labels for "homemade" to find interesting homemade stuff, like liquid detergent and toothpaste and shaving gel and cat food.]

UPDATE, 1/6/09
I wrote about my trials and tribulations with my new dishwasher quite a while ago, and it appears that lots and lots of people have the same difficulties. You would be surprised how many searches I get for "dishwasher detergent," "white streaks on dishes," "best dishwasher detergent," "best dishwasher detergent for hard water," on and on in myriad variations.

I hope that post has helped somebody, but I need to amend it. In that little piece of writing I told how I had discovered how to make my own detergent, and to use a product called LemiShine. That all worked for a while, but then the rot began to set in.

You see, I found that the homemade detergent was not stable. It had salt in it, which absorbed moisture from the air, and quickly made it unusable. I could not make a large batch of it to use out of, and it was a real hassle to mix it up fresh every day or so.

And then something happened to the LemiShine. I used it faithfully for many months, all the while watching my dishes get more and more coated with a white layer of something that could only be gotten off by hand with much elbow grease.

I tried using more LemiShine, vinegar and baking soda-- even washing the dishes by hand now and again to start fresh. But it was no use. My dishwasher was all gunked up, the shiny stainless steel interior was white with deposits, whether of hard water or detergent, I couldn't tell, and my glasses were gross.

And then.

A friend introduced me to Glass Magic. I had seen it on the shelves, but never bought it, because the box looks like the Cascade box, and Cascade did a number on my dishwasher. But I was desperate.

My friend said it took a few washings with it, but eventually all her glassware came out clear and shiny again, and her dishwasher was clean.

So I bought some, and you know what? By the time I had used up the box (which at my house was a week at most) all my glassware looked NEW. I'm not kidding. And the stainless steel interior of my dishwasher? SHINY SHINY.

So I have a new hero.

Glass Magic® Performance Booster (2744338210) - 8 Pack
I'm not getting paid to say this (though it would be nice), but if you have problems with hard water or detergent scum, get Glass Magic. It will make you, and your dishes, and your dishwasher, very happy.

UPDATE 7/10/09:
Glass Magic is now called "Finish Glass Magic Performance Booster" and the box looks like this:

Finish Glass Magic Dishwasher Performance Booster: 16 OZ

It's still the same stuff, and it still works great.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Quick Takes Friday #10

Here we are: another whole week gone, and for my Seven Quick Takes let me take you through my week.

Last Saturday:

My house guests (brother and his 10-year-old daughter and her 12-year-old sister) went home after a two-week visit. Big general sigh of relaxation among all the household.

LovelyDaughter and JD showed up in time to say good-bye to the visitors, and then stayed for dinner (our noon meal), and then stayed to hang out. It felt real holiday-ish.

In the evening, JD and LovelyDaughter let me ride along to see the town fireworks, and when we got back, we found the other boys had planned a surprise and had a pile of our own fireworks ready to set off. I know they blew mucho wages on that display but it was great fun to watch and they had great fun putting it on. I don't know who comes up with the names for some of these fireworks--stuff like "Crazy Exciting" or "One Bad Mother" or "The Whole Enchilada"-- but for some reason it adds to the fun.

And then I plunged in and made homemade lemonade for the first time, and discovered that it's ridiculously easy:

1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Heat till all the sugar is melted. Then add:

1 cup lemon juice
3-4 cups cold water and ice (more or less, till the sweet/tart ratio suits you)

That's it! Unless you want to spruce it up like I did, and put a whole sliced lemon into it and stir it around. And then put a slice of lemon in each glass, which will make everyone say really nice things about how you're spoiling them.


JD and Lovelydaughter came over again for the day, I went to the library in the afternoon (big splurge activity), and in the evening Swede came over, which made a great ending to a great holiday weekend.


Laundry, laundry, laundry. All the bedding the girls and Brother slept on. And I do mean ALL, since one of the girls has to wear Depends at night, and let me just say that perhaps "Depends" is not the best name for something that undependable. The foam mattress they slept on is still out in the yard airing.

Bake bread.


Laundry, laundry, laundry. Everybody's clothes.

Bake bread again, while the weather is reasonably nice so I don't have to use the oven later in the week when it's supposed to get really hot again.


Crash. I did some cleaning in the morning, and then read a book all afternoon. As Agatha Christie wrote in a story in another one of her books, I was both "soothed and stimulated by the perusal of it."


Super Crash. I'm ashamed to say I did absolutely nothing all day beyond making supper and was still exhausted.

Well, I gave a whole morning of my life to reading The Persian Pickle Club, and I felt cheated. For one thing, I kept noticing little things that seemed to say "This description is to add atmosphere," or "Here I throw in jargon for realism." It's disconcerting to have a story keep somehow reminding you of all the things you read in "How to Write a Best Selling Novel and Make Big Bucks."

For another thing, the "moral" of the story was something to the effect of "it's okay to kill a man if you save a woman in the process."


And the secondary moral was like unto it: "women need to stick together because women's friendships are strong and heartwarming, and better than relationships with men."

Or something like that. *sigh*


Hubby has charged me with taking two naps today. He said "get rested!" before he left for work this morning. I don't know if I'll manage to sleep twice, but I will probably try for a snooze this afternoon. Right now I need to do a little cleaning up and go buy some groceries.

And now I am looking forward with anticipation to tomorrow: We are invited to spend the weekend with some friends who live about a two-hour drive from here. I'm really, really looking forward to the chance to visit with friends, and also the break from my kitchen!

More Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Quick Takes Friday #9

It's been a busy week, what with three house guests (my brother and his two girls). As usual, I feel like I spend most of my time planning meals, cooking them, and cleaning them up.

Here's what we had today:

How'd I do for my first time to grill steak?

Dessert: "Mud-from-the-Crik," aka Ice Cream Sundae Cake.

Would you like a closer look at that?

(Pix courtesy of DrummerDude, who I think could have a future as as food photographer...)

Two days ago we did something I've been dreaming about for a year: we bought a new mattress.
Mattress Set
Last July, Hubby and I and Swede spent a night in Denver at a Comfort Inn, and that hotel mattress was the most comfortable I've ever slept on. You may remember that in the morning I tore the bedding off the bed to find out what kind of mattress that was.

Well, now we have some money, and we drove to the Denver Mattress store in BigCity and told the sales guy what we were looking for. He sold us a mattress and we brought it home, set it up, and slept on it.


My ribs hurt and my hips hurt and my back hurt. After I'd been tossing around on it for HOURS I looked at the clock and discovered I'd only been in bed for an hour and a half. This is going to be a LONG night I said to myself. And it was, and Hubby agreed, and now we are on a desperate search to find The Perfect Mattress.

You see, the label on the mattress did not say exactly which model of mattress it was; it only said "Denver Mattress Co, Hospitality Division." So we had to try to guess which model, which is complicated by the fact that the Hospitality Division is separate from the Retail Division. Hubby says if all else fails we are driving back to the Comfort Inn in Denver and offering to trade them our mattress for theirs! :)

On the bright side, I bought a pillow and it IS just like the one in the hotel. At least my pillow was comforting last night while my ribs were hurting!

We also ordered a new couch:
The website said they ship in one to three days. It's now been two weeks, and the only sign of life I can see is that our credit card has been charged with the order.

Let's hope all goes well, and that we like it as well as we anticipate. The couch we have now was a hand-me-down twenty-seven years ago, and it was probably ten to fifteen years old then!

Today for the first time I am wearing these:

Naturalizer Gersen Chrome Yellow Canvas

I'm wearing them with black capris, a yellow scoop-neck tee and a white camisole.

Technically, they should be all I was looking for in a pair of flats: cute, stylish, comfy... I'll let you know later how they live up.

Makeover Update:

New book! Just came today!

Flatter Your Figure

I paid one penny for it (at Amazon), plus shipping, of course, but still a good deal. It has all kinds of great diagrams, so it looks like fun. I'll let you know if it's good or not.

Okay. I'm done. Have a great 4th!

More Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Quick Takes Friday #8


I enjoyed this post written by the author of the blog Zen Habits.

To summarize: he suggests that you do only three things today, and choose them for importance, not urgency. However, I remember when my children were small, the organizational rule of prioritizing by importance-not-urgency did not work unless you counted urgent things-- like changing diapers or doing laundry-- as also important. Doesn't it seem like young children make all of life urgent?

However, I think I might like to try it now that the kids are all grown. I have a tendency to put so many things on my list to do TODAY, that I'm still trying to get through the list after three days! And then I feel like I'm always behind.


One of my new favorite fashion blogs is called La Bella Figura. Being inspired by French and Italian wardrobe simplicity, she wears nearly the same thing every day-- a black skirt or black jeans, and a fitted tee in some nice color with some sort of feminine detailing, one of two or three necklaces, and one of two or three pairs of black shoes. She looks beautiful and put together in a very simple way and I'm inspired by it.

Then there's this gal whose closet must be as big as entire bedroom, but I read her blog just because of her wardrobe creativity.


Yesterday I wrote about keeping cool in this hot weather and today I want to add to that. Here are two ways to keep DRY in hot, sweaty weather:

undefined "Smooth seamless microfiber construction moves with you. Soft, lightweight feel. Breathable fabric keeps you cool and comfortable all day. Classic bikini cut. Tag-free to eliminate tag chafe." (Barely There Breathe Bikini Panty)

I never knew it before, but microfiber makes all the difference in the world!

And then there's this:

And it really works.

Now I want to find similar things for Hubby, but for some reason men's underwear, especially microfiber, costs about triple what women's underwear costs. What's up with that?


Just a note: last night I made fajitas for supper, but instead of stir-frying the meat as usual, I marinated it and then grilled it--to keep from using a burner in the hot, hot house--and then cut it into strips. It was so good that it all got snarfed up very quickly and I had to serve up the portion I had saved back for DrummerDude's lunch to have enough. You can find the recipe here.


Not long ago DrummerDude showed me a YouTube video that had me in tears. We've had a couple of rough years at our house with various family members dealing with depression and even suicidal thoughts, and this song touched those deep feelings.

Here it is, if you've like to see it:


This post by ElizabethEsther about her 18-month-old twins made me laugh.


These leather and pearl bracelets
Chan Luu Multistrand Leather Bracelet

that I saw at Une femme d'un certain age that are for sale at Garnet Hill have me inspired. I don't want to pay $180, though, so I'm thinking about the three pearl bead necklaces I have, and the spool of leather lacing I have, and wondering if I can make my own....

More Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Staying Cool in a Heat Wave

This week I have come up with some tips for how to keep cool in 90-some degree weather with 109 degree heat index in a house with only a window air conditioner.

1. Don't cook. Serve meals of sandwiches and fresh fruit and salad. This keeps the house from additional heat.

2. If you do have to cook, put the food in a roaster on the porch. (If you have plug-ins on your porch like I do!)

3. Make lemonade out of lemonade mix and real lemons and ice, to drink in the hottest part of the day. Or mix cold ginger ale, mint leaves, and lime slices with ice.

4. Wring out a bandanna in cold water and wear it around your neck.

5. Save the baking for evenings when the day is coolest.

6. Wear skirts instead of jeans or shorts.

These of course are aside from the obvious solutions of getting out of the house completely by going swimming, or, in a pinch, shopping at the air-conditioned mall, but they work--or at least they help. I know because I've tried them all!

Monday, June 22, 2009

And then I'm going to get some SLEEP

We've been busy enough lately that I can't even remember what we've actually been doing. The next activity blots the memory of the last one!

However, I can tell you that Friday my brother and his two girls arrived for their annual two-week visit (which requires the usual preparation, you know, cleaning, making up beds, planning menus, etc.), and then Saturday four of us left for Holyoke, Colorado. We went to help with two meetings where as a part of a larger worship team we were basically teaching how to worship, sort of (which required the usual preparation of packing up all our instruments, including the drum set, and the amplifiers and cords, plus clothes for the weekend).

Oddly, the highlight of the weekend was the place we spent the night Saturday night. Lovely people, who very hospitably opened their home to SEVEN people with ease and fed us four kinds of fresh fruit and cereal and coffee cake and toast for breakfast, with a side of refreshing conversation.

While we (me, Hubby, GuitarGeek, DrummerDude) were gone, MB3 worked on his room remodeling and made quite bit of progress.

Today? I have been very tired, as I always am after these kinds of events. I always thought God would put me in full-time ministry someday, but I'm beginning to see maybe the reason He hasn't is because I'm not physically or emotionally cut out for that kind of long term stress. It wipes me out, just over a weekend!

Hopefully, my active recuperation today (as in, TWO naps) will set me on the road to being rested and getting rid of my new cold sores. And that's good because there are lots of things I want to do now that my nieces are here. Things like camping out in the yard, going swimming, going to the zoo....

So, I'm off to bed, as soon as I bake these four pans of buns. I know it's bedtime, but the extreme heat today made it just ridiculous to bake anything before now (ten o'clock at night)!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

DIY Makeover Quote #10

"Individual style is about doing your own thing, not someone else's. It's taking bits and pieces of what's available and putting them together in your own personal way, breathing your own life into them."

~~Leah Feldon, in Dress Like Million (On Considerably Less): A Trend-proof Guide to Real Fashion.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ready for Summer--Finally!

So I went shopping for clothes on Monday and spent way too much money (mostly on, um, undergarments) but now I think I have everything I need for summer.

I bought four tee shirts in bright colors (at $4 each), two black cardigans (one of them on sale for $7, and one on clearance for $3--how could I resist?), and a NEW SWIMSUIT.

That merits all caps because I think it's been about ten years since I bought my last swimsuit, and it's looking kinda tired. Plus, I've gained a little weight and changed shape a little in ten years, and it was just Time. I'm really happy with it, for several reasons. One, it's a tankini, which is a new style for me, and the top is gray and silver stripes, and the bottom is a black boy short. I feel dressed in it, which is incredible, and my Hubby AND the three boys all gave me a thumbs up.

Just a side note: I have tried on swimsuits before, and my criteria is always "will I be embarrassed to be seen in it by my sons?" Also, since most of my swimsuit-wearing is in a hotel hot tub while at a conference somewhere, I ask myself if I'd be embarrassed to walk down a hotel hallway in it, or sit in a hot tub with our friend Swede, with whom we usually attend these events. This new suit fits the bill swimmingly. (smiley)

ANYway, as I was saying, since all these other things were on sale, the bulk of my expenditure was undergarments. I had no idea how much money you could spend on unmentionables. I used to just buy whatever Walmart had on sale that fit, but lately (like, for the last year), for various reasons, I cannot find anything at Walmart I can wear, so by now my lingerie stock was sadly lacking. I ended up at Kohl's, which is a few steps up in quality. At least I hope so, since the prices were double what I used to pay. However, on the bright side, now I have undergarments that don't scream for attention under my thin summer shirts. Very good.

I gave up on the extra footwear, which was the other thing on my list, because I can't find anything that matches all my picky criteria. (Does it fit? Is it comfortable enough to be on my feet all day? Is it cute and stylish? Does it match my wardrobe?) Besides, I already have black sandals and brown sandals and grey skimmers/sneaker flats (whatever you call them). The sandals fit my criteria, and even though the sneakers don't--my feet get really tired after a long day--they still fill a niche. Plus, I'm just tired of looking. If one of these days I'm out and something jumps out at me, I might get it. Otherwise, I'm just going to go with what I've got.

And now, I've just got to work on something else beside my wardrobe for a while. Maybe now that I feel like I have my style somewhat defined, and I have enough clothes for whatever summer throws at me, I can set it aside.

Until Fall, of course. I already have my Fall list started: 1) black knee-high boots, 2) black leather jacket, 3).... I'd better start saving up!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

DIY Makeover Quote #9

"Style comes from knowing who you are and who you want to be in the world; it does not come from wanting to be somebody else, or wanting to be thinner, shorter, taller, prettier. Many of the most stylish women in the world have not been great beauties, but they have all drawn from an enormous amount of self-confidence. They made us think they were beautiful simply by believing it themselves."

from The Little Black Book of Style, by Nina Garcia

Monday, June 15, 2009

Garage Sale Day Loot

Saturday was the annual Garage Sale Day in our small town. It's usually a big event and lots of people turn out to drive, walk, or bike to all the different sales. A couple of times we've packed up all the kids and their bicycles and driven to town in the truck, and then let everybody off with their bikes to cruise around.

We could ride our bikes into town, yes, rather than carting them there-- it's four and a half miles, not so very unthinkable-- but this is Garage Sale Day which means there must be a means of hauling home the loot!

Anyway, as I was saying.

What was I saying?

So I found a ten dollar bill in the drawer and took that with me, figuring when it was gone, time was up.

One of the garage sales I went to had piles of used clothing in such bad shape I was rather shocked that they were selling it all, much less for a dollar a piece. If anything in my closet was that perspiration stained or stretched out, I'd burn it before I'd do anything so embarrassing as offer it for sale. In public.

However, just to show that you never know, that was that same sale where I picked up my best deals of the day. There was a stack of clothing apparently donated by a different person than the rest of the items. They were all my size, unlike the rest, and were clean and almost new. I ended up with an entire outfit:

*skirt: black and white, large floral print, slinky but comfy fabric, knee-length. It makes me feel like an ad for Ann Taylor.

* shirt: white fitted tee

*jacket: sort of a dressy short-sleeved bolero, black

The gal who took my money looked at the three items and said "It makes an outfit!" and was pretty impressed.

After three hours, my ten bucks was gone, as well as the change in the little coin holders in the car (*sheepish grin*), so I took my pile of stuff--which included two more shirts, a twin-size comforter and pillow sham, a tablecloth, a pair of pants (that fit!), a belt, a bracelet, and two books--and went home. The end.

And then I went to a store and spent ten times that on groceries and came home with an even bigger (thankfully!) pile of loot.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Still here...

I don't have much free time these days, but what time I do have I've been spending on my wardrobe (STILL!) Do I seem obsessed?

I have bought a few new things lately: some tee shirts (black, gray, white) from Old Navy, a pair of black sandals from TJ Maxx, a wonderful black and silver pashmina from Ebay ($9!).

I also ordered several pairs of shoes from Zappos. Actually, I prefer to say that I had them "sent out on approval". I saw that phrase somewhere in a book. It sounds so rich, doesn't it?

(I should mention here that the reason I even tried this crazy idea was because I recently received some unexpected money, and I decided the money could be used to invest in some of the pricier aspects of my new wardrobe--like quality shoes.)

So since Zappos offers such a great return policy, with free shipping both ways, I figured it was like having a department store come directly to my living room. I picked six likely candidates, figuring that, all said and done, I'd keep one, or maybe two, of them. Sadly, none of them really pass muster, so they're all going back. My favorite ones turned out to be made of silk and have a sticker on them saying to not get them wet. Since I wanted them for run-around-in-the-summer shoes, that won't work. I can just imagine having to worry about getting my shoes wet when I run out to the clothesline on a dewy summer morning. Sorry, not happening.

Last week I cleared my closet of all my heavy winter items so I could better see what I have left for warm weather options. I should really say warmER, since it's not really been very warm here lately aside from an occasional summer-y afternoon.

What I have left, I laid out all over the bed yesterday to examine my options, and then tried everything on. It's tiring to try on every item in your wardrobe in one afternoon! But it was a helpful exercise, and I ended up deciding to ditch a few things, and keep some others, and wear some other things in different ways than I have before.

And then I made a list of what my wardrobe wants. Not what I myself think I need, but what I need to make my wardrobe work better. That would include a pair of white or metallic comfy sandals (operative word being comfy), to wear with all my summer skirts (since I switched from shorts to skirts this year); two or three fitted comfy tee-shirts; a lightweight cardigan in either gray or black (or both!); and possibly a pair of cute athletic mary janes or ballet flats for wearing with capris.

Of course, this list will probably get edited before I actually go shopping. After all, I have brand new black comfy sandals, which will look all right with my comfy skirts, but even though they're flat they look a little dressy, and I'd like something fun and very, very comfortable. And I probably really have enough tee-shirts, but they're all rather snug except one, and I'm thinking when it gets really hot, I'll want something a little looser for the breeze factor. And the cardigan is possibly not necessary, really, it's just that right now I keep having to wear extra layers because the weather stays so chilly. And the flats-- well, I have a pair I just bought, but they're not that comfy for all day wear, so we'll see.

Other items, possibly of interest:

My family had the opportunity to be the worship team for a meeting last weekend, which was a blast, and we are going to be part of a larger team next weekend going to Colorado to do two meetings. Fun stuff.

The garden is up, but slow. That cold weather again.

MB3 is remodeling a bedroom for us, and spent yesterday (it was raining so the guys were home) tearing all the wallpaper and plaster off the walls and ceiling. Can you say DUST?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

DIY Makeover Quote #8

Style at times seems to be a balancing act between what objectively looks best (most flatters our figure and coloring) and what speaks to us on an emotional level.

from Une femme d'un certain age.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

What I Did Saturday

I've been so very busy over the last few days. The highlight of last week was when the very pleasant Ornery's Wife, along with Ornery himself, came for a visit.

Aren't they sweet? We've known each other for maybe a year via our blogs, but never met-- till now. It was a wonderful visit, and the exciting thing is that we don't live so very far apart that we can't sometimes do it again. It's something to look forward to.

Also this week JD's mother was here for a few days, which is always a joy, and that brings me to what I did Saturday:

That is a small carry bag, and inside of it is:

Four cloth shopping bags.

JD's mom had ordered a set of bags from me and pre-paid quite some time ago and I hadn't gotten them done yet. But now that she was here, I invited her to help pick out her own fabric, with LovelyDaughter's help, and that worked very well. And then I spent much of the day Saturday cutting and sewing, and had the set ready for her Sunday before she left to drive six hours home!

I also have another set exactly like it that is about two thirds finished--each length of fabric makes two bags, and it's almost as fast to sew up both at once as to make just one--and today I received a call from someone who would like to buy that set. Now I've gotta get busy and finish!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Fashion Peeve #2: Glasses Are Ugly

In every makeover I've seen, the girl with glasses has to lose them to look beautiful. What-- glasses automatically make you look dumpy? You can't be beautiful and have bad eyesight? What does the poor girl do now without her glasses? Bump into things? Make other people drive her everywhere because she can't drive without glasses?

Yes-- I know. The obvious answer is to wear contacts instead. But what if that's just not feasible? Eyewear is expensive: My eyeglasses cost about $500, and I wear them for about five years. Yearly cost: $100. However, contacts will cost me about $20 a month, times twelve months, equals yearly cost of $240. More than double! And then you still have to buy a pair of regular glasses anyway, because you can't wear your contacts 24/7, so if I add that, we actually get a yearly cost of $340. Some people have to think about things like that. (Especially in families like ours, where out of six people, five of them wear glasses. That adds up.)

Then there's considerations like these: you work in a dusty atmosphere, like when I used to help Hubby with tree work. I definitely could not have worn contacts to shove branches in the chipper. Or LovelyDaughter's case where she tried valiantly to wear contacts, but her eyes refused. It took her twenty minutes to insert one contact and then her eyes watered and burned incessantly. She finally gave up and went back to glasses.

Another option, of course, is to have LASIK, or something similar, but once again, not always a realistic choice because of expense, health, or age.

So here's what I think: The makeover people should show beautiful women with glasses, but perhaps with better frames that show off the eyes and face better. Don't just ditch the glasses, give them a makeover too!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Meditation for Pentecost 3

This is taken from "Word of God Everyday," which comes every day to my inbox.

Come, Holy Spirit!
Bend the stubborn heart and will,
melt the frozen, warm the chill;
guide the steps that go astray.

~Pentecost Sequence

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

DIY Makeover Quote #7

{supermodels} Linda and Naomi, or Shalom and Amber, might look perfectly slim and adorable in an old tablecloth cinched in with a clothesline, the rest of us have to choose our outfits a little more carefully."

~from Does This Make Me Look Fat?: The Definitive Rules for Dressing Thin for Every Height, Size, and Shape, by Leah Feldon

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Time to Plant

We planted our garden Saturday!

Some of it was already in, like the spinach, peas, lettuce and onions. And the broccoli. And some of the tomatoes. But we got the rest of it in Saturday: peppers, okra, beets, carrots, beans, zucchini, summer squash, watermelon, cucumbers, more tomatoes... and one garlic plant.

As we were planting the sky clouded up, the breeze cooled down, and about the time we were done it started raining. Which I think is a best case scenario, because then we didn't have to water the garden, God did it for us.

And then we celebrated by going out to Pizza Hut. Great day!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Meditation for Pentecost 2

I'm not doing real well at remembering to use the Novena to the Holy Spirit this week. When I do remember, I end up adapting the prayers, because they are after all Catholic prayers, and sometimes my Protestant sensibilities object. But there is one line I really like. It's from the prayer called "Act of Consecration to the Holy Spirit":

Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for Your light, and listen to Your voice, and follow Your gracious inspirations.

I can pray that without hesitation.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Meditation for Pentecost

from Saint Padre Pio:

The spirit of God is a spirit of peace. Even in the most serious faults He makes us feel a sorrow that is tranquil, humble, and confident and this is precisely because of His mercy.

The spirit of the devil, instead, excites, exasperates, and make us feel, in that very sorrow, anger against ourselves, whereas we should, on the contrary, be charitable with ourselves first and foremost.

Therefore, if any thought agitates you, this agitation never comes from God, who gives you peace, being the Spirit of Peace, but from the devil.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

DIY Makeover Quote #7

Glamour, n. (also, glamor) 1) the attractive or exciting quality that makes certain things or people seem appealing or special. 2) beauty or charm that is sexually attractive.


*Age. A woman needs to be at least thirty before she can achieve glamour, and even that is a stretch. With age comes confidence and the ability to be comfortable in one's own skin, as the French say. It takes a few decades for a woman to make friends with her idiosyncrasies. (I refuse to call them flaws.) That confidence is utterly essential for a woman to be truly captivating. She has developed a personal style. She knows what haircut flatters her bone structure, what fragrance suits her own natural scent. She has made a study of herself and understands the importance of her walk and her voice. She has an entire arsenal of weapons at her disposal, and wields them all with grace and enthusiasm.

*Self-awareness. A glamorous woman is aware of the effect she has, and she uses it quite deliberately. Glamour is never an accident. It is purposefully reaching out to draw others into the warmth of your charmed circle. A glamorous woman knows precisely how to make you feel comfortable and is genuinely interested in enjoying your company. She understands that when she smiles at you, she can leave you dazzled. She loves to turn on her full charm and watch you fall under her spell--a glamoury is an enchantment, remember. She knows that she is not always the most beautiful woman in the room, but she is always the woman who has put the most thought into herself and into you. She knows that simply by holding herself like a beautiful woman, by walking like a beautiful woman, by using a beautiful woman's gestures, she will be perceived as beautiful. And since glamour is an illusory quality, isn't that all that matters?

--Deanna Raybourn

Friday, May 22, 2009

Quick Takes Friday--May 22


Do I have sore muscles today! I've been a lot more physically active this week than I've been for a while, and every muscle is protesting. But I'm not going to let that stop me! Also, new discovery: Opening and closing an enormous sliding door (like, 12 feet wide by 15 feet tall) is a great abdominal exercise. So I've decided to use our cute Z3, which resides behind that huge door, as often as possible.


Yesterday LovelyDaughter and I were out running a couple of errands for JD's grandma, who has severe rheumatoid arthritis. One of the things she wanted done was to find a solution for a situation involving her new adjustable bed. It has a remote control that lets you raise or lower the head or foot, and she wanted a way to keep the remote close to her for use in the middle of the night. The problem was, she has very little range of movement, so the normal solutions, like putting the remote on a beside table, or in a mattress pocket, were out of question. Also out of the question was anything involving snaps, zippers, velcro, buttons, or elastic. And we really didn't think sewing pockets on all her jammies was a good long term choice.

After putting our heads together, LovelyDaughter and I came up with what we thought was a brilliant solution: we took out one of the screws on the back of the remote and replaced it with a screw that has an "eye" on it. Then we bought a small purse with a removable wrist strap and attached the strap to the eye. It was perfect! We are really proud of ourselves.


As I said, LovelyDaughter and I were out yesterday, and once or twice I caught sight of myself in a mall window. I was wearing a flouncy skirt with a sleeveless top and flat comfy sandals. I thought the look was cute-- until I saw myself in the window. My first thought was "comfy old lady." Darn! I wanted my thought to be "stylish woman." I'm little discouraged about my makeover at this point....


I've been basically home alone this week, since the guys have taken their lunches with them every day, and GuitarGeek is off helping with a benefit concert in Minnesota. It's amazing how much I can get done when I don't have to make a big meal in the middle of the day.


Big news: I've started drinking coffee!

We discovered a place online called "Coffee Fool." Their coffee is supposed to be really fresh and less bitter, and once you've tried it you never go back, so they say. So we ordered three kinds of coffee beans, to go with the coffee mill Hubby just bought off Ebay. One of them is called "Smooth Sailing," and is supposed to be reduced acid. I tried it, and I can actually drink about half a cup of coffee, as opposed to the two tablespoon maximum I normally drink. Usually coffee sets my stomach on edge, but not this one, so now I know. Avoid the acid, and I can be a big girl.


I'm going to be using this for the next nine days as my daily prayers. What better way to prepare for Pentecost than to pray for the Holy Spirit's work in our lives? (Thanks, Jen, for the link.)

This article from Zen Habits has some interesting ideas (55 ideas, actually) about energizing your life. I'm particularly struck by #14: Drink lots of water. I know I have a tendency to get easily dehydrated. Drinking more water would be an easy way to perk up!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

It's Spring!

This morning I woke up early-- 5:42 by the clock-- to the sound of a guinea outside our window.




(And so on and so forth.)

And we don't even HAVE guineas this year. I think it was a renegade from Hubby's folks' place over yonder. At any rate, there was no sleeping with that alarm going off, so I got up and tried to herd it back toward home.

That done, I noticed that everything outside this morning was AWAKE! The birds were singing! The breeze was blowing! The bushes and trees and flowers are blooming! The sun was coming up! It's morning! It's SPRING!

I almost wasn't able to go back to bed.

But with a heroic effort, I managed.

Later, at a more sane hour, I did get up, and I packed lunches for the guys, and sent them all off to slay the dragon. I had an extra sandwich, so I ate that for breakfast, and I tell you what-- I think I should do that any morning I expect to do a lot. I think a sandwich does me better than cereal and toast.

I've got the garden weeded, the part of it we have planted, and I have a load of laundry on the line, and another in the washer, and I'm ready now to plant the tomatoes and peppers. If I have time and/or energy I want to weed the flower beds.

On the other hand, LovelyDaughter just called, and we may zip out (after I've planed the tomatoes) and take a little errand trip and buy cat food, and flowers to plant in my planters. I guess I can't do everything in one day-- but sometimes I'd sure like to try!

Speaking of getting laundry done, BIG NEWS: we got a new washing machine Saturday! I'm so thrilled. Our former machine was a Maytag Neptune-- you know, the one that (as the sales gal told us) celebrates its second anniversary with a $200 motherboard replacement. Yep. That happened to us. About ten days before the warranty expired. And not long after that, the other control board went out, but we jimmy-rigged it so we wouldn't have to lay out $300. And now another part blew and the thing groans like a jungle animal either on the prowl or in pain, and the diagnosis was that a new machine was in order.

This time, we bought a Bosch, just like our dishwasher. We've been very happy with the dishwasher over the past three years, so we figured that would be the way to go for the clothes washer. It's a front loader, works great, it's quiet, we love it!

Completely opposite of the guinea under our window...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Looky! More blogs to read!

I've been following quite a few blogs recently that have to do with fashion and style, and I decided it was time to share them with you. So if you look over to the right in my side bar, you'll see a brand new list. Some of the blogs give advice; some show photos of "what I wore today." They are all interesting to me, at least for now!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sunday Jaunt

I think we've been hanging around our friend Swede too long. Why? We're starting to do crazy things like what we did Sunday for Mother's Day.

We drove four and some hours to Kansas City, and then turned around and came right back.

Well. Not right back. We hung around for about four hours first.

What did we do?

We packed up a picnic-- which included what I thought was a great inspiration: hot sloppy joe meat in a thermos bottle-- and met my family at Wyandotte County Lake for a picnic. My mom and dad and brother and nieces were there and it was a very nice, mild day: cloudy with a very light breeze, and it was the perfect temp for a jacket.

After we ate, we drove closer to the lake and fed a little bread to the geese. And then spent some time near the playground equipment for the girls.

And then my dad was tired, and my brother needed to go, so we took off. Hubby and I had vague notions of visiting some other people in the city, but decided instead to just head on home. We never even saw the city itself, since we drove straight to and from the lake, which was sort of cool. Even though I grew up in KC I think I've always been a country girl at heart, so it doesn't hurt my feelings at all to not have to drive around in a big city!

When we got home, Hubby gave me the best Mother's Day gift ever: an all-over body massage. It was a good day.

Friday, May 8, 2009

What I'm Wearing Today

Hubby loves how I look today, so I'm going to try to share the look with you. Here's a pic, taken with Photo Booth, meaning, I stood my laptop on its side on the picnic table....

blue plaid tank: Goodwill, probably a couple bucks (it was a long time ago)

gray tank: Shade, $11

crop jeans: hand-me-downs

pink sash: recycled from a skirt I cut off and hemmed

gray and black flats: Pamida, $15

stud earrings: Walmart, about fifty cents

silver bangle watch: Pamida, $15 (bought way back before they went on clearance!)

shoelace hair band: ?


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cute stuff!

It's a bee-yoo-tiful day here today, and I've got the urge (finally!) to get a bunch of stuff done. But I just have to take a minute to tell you about my eensy weensy shopping excursion yesterday. I stole an hour from my grocery expedition in order to do it-- and you have never SEEN the power shopping I did at the grocery store to make up for it!

For a few weeks now I have been unsuccessfully looking for a pair of cute flats, and look what I found yesterday:

They're not as dressy as I was originally looking for, and they're not red, but they fit, and they're cute, and actually, now that I've had them home, I find they will be an EXCELLENT addition to my wardrobe. So I'm really excited about that, and I'm thanking God for them, because, believe it or not, I know He led me to those.

Also, I found these:

Bracelet watches! I have one in silver, and I had decided that I would like one in red, and maybe brown. It would be a practical way to accessorize, because I like stuff to be practical as well as pretty. So I saw these recently, but I couldn't justify $15 apiece; but then yesterday I decided to just go for it, because, well, because I had talked myself into it.

But when I got there, I discovered they were all on CLEARANCE for $10 apiece, so very very COOL.

And then I found a pair of khaki slacks (sorry, no pic) that actually FIT, so even though they were still $20 on the clearance rack I went ahead and bought them. And I came home a laid out the cutest outfit-- khaki slacks, red embroidered sleeveless top, red cardigan, tan ankle strap sandals, and red bangle watch. I tried it all on for Hubby and he said I looked very dressy; and I think I looked stylish. I have a new outfit for Mother's Day!