Saturday, November 26, 2011

Housework and “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”

You know that story? The one that starts “If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk” and goes on from there until the house is a mess. Well that’s the feeling I get when I do housework.

Take bathrooms: If you clean a toilet, you have to clean the floor behind the toilet. If you clean the floor behind the toilet, you may as well clean the entire floor because it does need it and you have the tools out. Then since the floor is clean, you really should wash all the bath mats. Since you’re doing that, you may as well wash the ones from the other bathroom as well, since you need to fill up a load anyway. If you’re doing that, you should clean the floor in that bathroom too, since you wouldn’t want to put clean mats on a dirty floor. Then you really ought to clean the toilet at the same time. See what I mean?

It works in the kitchen too. Today I’m making a turkey. Well, after trying to get it thawed completely (hopefully) in a cold water bath, I need the roasting pan (which I don’t use very often). Then I decide to try to fit it into the crockpot. It doesn’t fit, but I decide to make stock out of the neck and “package” so I can use the crockpot for that. So I unwrap the turkey, rinse it out, wrestle it into position in the roasting pan. This is where it’s helpful to have a husband handy to fetch and carry so I don’t have to wash my hands every 3 seconds and create the need to disinfect the other half of the kitchen afterwards. Season, rub with olive oil, throw an onion and some garlic in the cavity and it’s ready to go in the oven. But that’s only the beginning. I’m always nervous about raw meat, and turkeys are so big and unpredictably splashy. Because my crock of utensils was near the space I was working with the turkey, I went ahead and washed all of them and the crock. I disinfect everything I can think of and wipe it down, and then wash everything I used with the turkey.

Then I decide that this time I’m really going to move the utensils away from the works surface I often use to handle raw meat, since I think about it every time but haven’t gotten around to it. So I move all the items from that section of counter-top and clean it. But then I have to figure out what to do with the bread machine and the toaster. I decide the bread machine can go on top of the fridge when not in use. That requires clearing off the top of the fridge, putting a few things away, and of course then I see that this surface too must be cleaned before I can do anything else with it. I clean it, then move things from another counter section over to the original one that I’ve cleaned off. The toaster will go there, and so can the coffee maker. Then I have to rearrange the jars of flour on the first counter space. Then I have to stop in the middle of things to put bread in the bread machine.

I can’t tell until the bread is done and the bread machine put away, but I think I’m satisfied with the new arrangements (for now). I’m not sure it completely solves the problem created when handling raw meat, but most things don’t have as much potential for messiness as a whole turkey does. Who knew putting a turkey in the oven would result in rearranging the kitchen? This is what I think about many times I'm working around the house. I bet you thought I couldn’t connect a children’s story with housework, didn’t you? I’m just that good.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving, part 4: There is a Fountain

There is a fountain filled with blood
drawn from Emmanuel's veins;
and sinners plunged beneath that flood
lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains,
lose all their guilty stains;
and sinners plunged beneath that flood
lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see
that fountain in his day;
and there may I, though vile as he,
wash all my sins away.
Wash all my sins away,
wash all my sins away;
and there may I, though vile as he,
wash all my sins away.

Dear dying Lamb, thy precious blood
shall never lose its power
till all the ransomed church of God
be saved, to sin no more.
Be saved, to sin no more,
be saved, to sin no more;
till all the ransomed church of God
be saved, to sin no more.

E'er since, by faith, I saw the stream
thy flowing wounds supply,
redeeming love has been my theme,
and shall be till I die.
And shall be till I die,
and shall be till I die;
redeeming love has been my theme,
and shall be till I die.

Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
I'll sing thy power to save,
when this poor lisping, stammering tongue
lies silent in the grave.
Lies silent in the grave,
lies silent in the grave;
when this poor lisping,
stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving, part 3

Last night we met some college friends for supper. We had to wait for a long time for a table but we had things to talk about, news to catch up on, opinions to share, mutual friends to ask about. These friends don't live very far away, but in our busy lives it is difficult to see each other more often. Still, it isn't too hard to pick up where we left off, and for that I know we are blessed.

I am thankful for Facebook and friends' blogs. I know it isn't as personal and I understand why people like to denigrate internet interaction. But all of my connections are with people that I really know or have known, and I care about what is going on in their lives. Facebook provides a way to connect in our oh so busy lives more quickly and more often than I would if I were e-mailing or calling people.

Today there is a Thanksgiving supper at church. Again, we will be blessed by the friendship within the church body, sharing a meal as the early church did. These are people that care about us, and want to know what is going on in our lives and how God is blessing us. There are hurts and trials among them, as I am reminded by the frequent prayer request e-mails, and I know I must begin to do better about consistently praying for them. I am part of the body as well, and must show the love of Christ.

This week will bring another chance to get together with one friend home for the week and one friend who is always there for me here. God is blessing me through many friendships. Even when life is crazy there are always people there. I'm thankful for this week of a relaxed schedule that allows me to meet friends without the threat of work hanging over my head (or at least not quite as immediate a threat as usual...yes, I need to force myself to stop procrastinating and get some work in later on).

I am so grateful for the common ground provided by the body of Christ. I know non-Believers have friends, but I can't help thinking that as Christians we are even more significantly blessed by our friendships. There is always some commonality if you are in Christ. We can be more open about our faults, our little (or big) trials and we can share each others burdens.

How has God blessed you lately through friendship? How can we bless others?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving, part 2

I'm thankful:
For a weekend to rest
For a warm house (actually I'm freezing, time to turn the heat up a little)
For laughing over the crazy antics of the dog and cat chasing each other around the house at breakneck speed
For pumpkin muffins and hot pumpkin pie flavored coffee
For silliness and for the memories this video brings back:

Thursday, November 17, 2011


It is a freezing cold day and really feels like November. I keep saying this, but I cannot believe that Thanksgiving is almost here. This year has flown by. I know, another cliche, but I can't get over it. Life has been busy (when is it not?) and the creative juices just aren't flowing now that I have time to write, so instead of something from me I have copied below the work of a much greater writer. In preparation for the annual day of overeating one week from today, and as a reminder that it really isn't all about food, below is George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation. I have updated some of the spelling for easier reading.

General Thanksgiving
By the PRESIDENT of the United States Of America
WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houzes of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to eftablish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpofitions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by conftantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

Source: The Massachusetts Centinel, Wednesday, October 14, 1789

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sausage, Potato and White Bean Soup

We went to Olive Garden the other night with family, and one of us (not me) ordered a soup that had (I think) sausage, potatoes and white beans in it. That just sounds like a good combination to me, so even though I didn't actually taste it I wanted to try to recreate it at home. Yes, I know this doesn't exactly make sense. So when Wal-mart had Cream of Mushroom soup (not low sodium or low fat, unfortunately) on sale for 60 cents and I was in the mood for soup, I figured I'd give it a try.

Of course, the obvious choice is the crockpot:
2 cans Cream of Mushroom soup
2 cans of water
2 1/2 cups of almost fat free lower sodium chicken broth
1 pound sausage, browned
about 5 potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1-2 tablespoons minced garlic (I tend to dump a big spoonful in, so really I have no idea how much)
1 can white/Great Northern beans (or frozen precooked in my case)
salt and pepper to taste, heavy on the pepper here
A couple shakes Italian dried herbs mix
Combine and cook until potatoes are done. Mine cooked for about 5 1/2 hours total, with maybe 1 hour of that on high because my beans were still frozen.

Add in the last 20 minutes of cook time:
2 c. frozen peas

Nutrition Data tells me that a 2 1/2 cup serving (that amount includes seconds, really) comes in at 318 calories. Using low sodium and low fat mushroom soup would have been much better, but for a "cream" soup I think that's a pretty good number. It's not as thick as a chowder, but it's still creamy.

Does it taste like Olive Garden's soup? I have no idea, but I am very pleased with how it turned out.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


- For a new day that is "fresh with no mistakes in it yet" (to quote Anne of Green Gables)
- For opportunities to use my interests and hopefully pass them on to others.
- For a wonderful husband who did all the dishes last night.
- For the dog's happiness when both of us are up in the morning at the same time.
- For friendship.
- For the promises:

"The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
'The LORD is my portion,' says my soul,
'therefore I will hope in him.'"
~Lamentations 3:22-24

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Yes, I know Halloween was yesterday. But a friend posted this article on Facebook and I thought it was worth mentioning. It is an interesting account of the origins and evolution of Halloween. Yes, there are pagan roots, but it also went through a Catholic phase. The author discusses the various Christian responses to the holiday as well.

I like this line: "There is a big difference between kids dressing up in cute costumes for candy and Mardi-Gras-like Halloween parties, offensive costumes, and uninhibited excess." The problem I see with Halloween more than anything is the fact that you are teaching children that it's ok to go door to door begging and it's ok to eat large amounts of candy. Yes, it's only one night a year, but this has to be confusing. I remember as a young child feeling funny about doing this, because when else are you encouraged to beg from your neighbors? Last night many of the kids were carrying a pillowcase, which I think is a bit much. Isn't a plastic pumpkin-ful enough candy?

Handing out candy last night, I was surprised and pleased about the politeness of the kids. Along with the "trick or treats" there was almost always a "please" and "thank you." There were a couple "scary" costumes, but they were all much closer to the villain out of a comic book movie than to a ghost or demon. I am out of the loop on kid's fads. I saw a couple of what looked like Bionicles, but I have no idea if those are still popular. I'm pretty sure the ones that looked like Power Rangers were actually something else given how long ago those were "in." There were many more princesses, butterflies, a Harry Potter and I think a Southern belle type, Thomas the Tank Engine, etc.

I can completely understand why Christians might not hand out candy or allow their children to trick or treat, and I wouldn't try to change their minds. I don't personally have a problem with it, and saw handing out candy as a way to "meet" neighbors. Of course, there wasn't time for much more than a "Hi" and "Have fun!" but something is better than nothing, I think. I have a feeling this is something we'll be re-evaluating every year. What are your thoughts?