Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Turning my upstairs bathrooms into a spa...

Dear Hubby's work recently took us to Florida, where we attended a conference in a luxury resort hotel with no choice of less expensive accommodations. This was a strain on the company budget, but a necessary and fruitful experience, nonetheless. Since we were there anyway, I took note of the hotel's service, decorations, table settings, etc. I was charmed by the soft lighting, the many paintings of Victorian ladies and seascapes, etc.

I came home with the idea of turning my guest bathroom into a spa for when my daughter and daughter-in-law or other guests visit. I hope my son and son-in-law and other male guests enjoy it as well. But, my goal is to have the bathroom stocked with all the little necessities and luxuries that women, in particular, enjoy without it being too frou-frou for the men. I also hope to do this on a budget. And, while I'm at it, I'm going to work on the master bathroom, as well.

To that end, I dragged home a put-it-together six-shelf chrome tier. The shelves are small. I had thought I might put it in the larger master bathroom, but, ironically, it fits in our tiny, tiny guest bathroom a little better. I'm not sure yet if it's going to be a little overwhelming, but we'll see. I decided that I would use it as a utility shelf in our storage space if it doesn't work for the bathroom.

I'm going to take out some old wallies of light houses that I've had in the guest bathroom for years. In it's place, I'm going to put photographs of a stucco fountain and some urns with lovely plants in them that I took myself. That bathroom has no windows, so I hope that the pictures of sunny locations will brighten things up a little.

I read an article about how to create a spa atmosphere in your bathrooms. It suggested the following: fluffy towels, a way to play soft music, soft lighting, and candles. Of course, those things come as no surprise.

I welcome any suggestions for my endeavor. When our children and children-in-love are home, they sort of gravitate towards our master bathroom. I want to make the guest bathroom more inviting. Right now, it's adequate, but it's the kind of place where you want to take your shower quickly and get out of there.


Friday, September 26, 2008

"Lipstick Jungle"

One aspect of our modern culture that is puzzling to me is that some women argue for a type of feminine "freedom" that actually enslaves and demeans women. You would think that feminism and Biblical womanhood would at least agree on one principle: that women are created in the image of God or, failing that, be in agreement that women possess all the worth accorded to a human being. Thus, you would think that both Christians and feminists would be in favor of teaching girls to respect each other and to behave in a way that inspires everyone to greater respect for women. Alas, in today's world, that is sometimes not the case.

In an article entitled "Lipstick Jungle", which appeared in the September 26th edition of the Wall Street Times, Ashely Samelson speaks of her fears when she helped move her 18-year old sister into a freshman dorm at Hillsdale College in Michigan. Ashleigh had experienced culture shock during her own stay at Tufts University in Medford Mass. She recounts meeting women who called each other degrading and obscene insults and also women who urged other women to participate in self-destructive and degrading behaviors.

Because children may read this blog, I won't outline just what horrors Ashleigh claims she witnessed or heard of on her campus. Suffice it to say, however, the behaviors were dangerous. These ways of acting, talking, and dressing also invited young men to look at women as merely forgettable partners in momentary pleasures. The conduct obscured men's view of women as honorable and fellow human beings.

Ashleigh notes that a male friend wrote her the following: "I, perhaps unconsciously, observe women to try and determine how they want to be treated. When I see girls at a party who seemingly have no self-control, I'll admit that it's really tough to visualize them as ladies. It's as if they, solely through their own actions;, have lowered my expectations, lowered my standards of behavior."

Now, one might ask what the young gentleman was doing at a party where the girls were exhibiting a loss of self-control. He might take responsibility for his own standards of behavior and search out friends -- both male and female -- who will inspire him to better things. Perhaps, he is looking for role models in the wrong places.

However, this young man does have a point. If women want to be treated as capable, virtuous, and honorable humans -- rather than as objects -- it makes no sense whatsoever to dress, act, and talk like objects. Licentiousness is freeing to no one -- male or female.

Ashleigh notes that she was so pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere on her sister's choice of campus. Hilldale, she says, is noted for attracting conservative and religious students. After walking around campus and talking to the women there, she realized that her sister was entering a healthier and happier college environment than she, herself, had experienced. The women talked of each other with respect.

Here's a telling comment: "The posters on the walls in my all-female freshman dorm at Tufts offered information about eating disorders, what to do if you think you have been sexually assaulted, and suicide and depression hot lines. The Hillsdale walls that I saw were covered with advertisements for quilting clubs, charity opportunities, and a listing of local churches."

She notes that at Patrick Henry College, where traditional marriage and family roles are emphasized, a large group of girls made a "No gossip pact" to refrain from slandering others. At Wheaton College, girls band together to pray for one another and to support each other in their struggles. In my opinion, it's no coincidence that in atmospheres where healthy values are encouraged, students exhibit healthy values. Of course, there are students at every educational institution who make wise choices and students who make unhealthy choices, so it still comes back to personal responsibility. Even so, our choice of mentors and friends does affect us.

I know from my own experiences as a college student three decades ago, that the seeds of the, "I'm going to be as morally and sexually liberated as any man on campus" were already growing. Alas, I found out the hard way that abandoning God's ways of doing things is liberating to no one. I met many young men and women who should have been enjoying their youth, but who were already wounded and scarred by participating in a party culture. Many were already deeply enslaved to self-destructive behaviors and addictions by the age of twenty. Is that a picture of freedom? I think not.

God gets blamed for many things in our society. It seems that people who know little about Christianity think that God has a double standard in which men are allowed to indulge every whim while women must always be ladies. In truth, God calls both men and women to holy, healthful, faithful, loving, and righteous conduct.

This, in itself, turns many people off, because godly self-control doesn't sound like much fun. Likewise, submission to a higher power doesn't play well in a world where everyone wants to be their own little "god". Yet, I and many others have learned that abandoning God's standards does not ultimately lead to freedom. True freedom is found only within the guidelines set by our Creator, the one who intimately knows and loves us better than we know our own selves.

Do you want to meet a man who treated both men and women with the utmost consideration, a man who elevated rather than demeaned women? As in everything, our Lord is the perfect example. In following Him, we learn how to conduct ourselves and how to love others. Women learn how to be friends and not competitors in self-destruction, and both men and women learn how to interact with respect and consideration.

On a side note: Perhaps, your child will go to college; perhaps not. Either way, at some point in life, he or she will encounter the world and its hollow philosophies. We need to prepare our children to have convictions that do not fold in the face of peer pressure and persecution. We must model for our children what it means to live as salt and light for a troubled world, and we must train our children to be salt and light, as well.

This is a matter that we cannot take for granted. Our children will make their own choices in life, and we are not always responsible for what course they take. However, we do want to set a strong foundation for their faith. Much as we would all like to shelter our children, we won't always be on hand to protect them. We must pass along convictions that will stand them in good stead when their faith is tried. To equip our children properly, we must depend on and trust in the Lord.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gas Shortage in Nashville

DH and I have flown from our home in TN to a business conference he is attending in Florida. So, I'm writing this in beautiful surroundings, where one can almost forget about local gasoline shortages we've been having in our city and also the economic troubles that are stirring up right now.

Meredith wrote an article about our local situation. I know that many other cities are experiencing shortages, but Nashville seems to be especially hard hit. I'd say that the majority of stations in our city have run out of gasoline. Those that do get in some gasoline experience long, long lines of people trying to get to the pumps. Nashville usually gets its supply of petrol from a certain pipeline that has been greatly affected by the past two hurricanes. The gas companies are diverting some supplies to TN to help us, but it's been a slow process.

As Meredith mentions, some experts chalk up much of our shortage to panic. I do believe that's true in Atlanta, where my son and his wife live. He told us that Atlanta is experiencing shortages only on the weekends, when people seem to panic about not having enough gasoline for the following week. However, he has had no trouble buying gas on weekdays.

I personally think that the shortages in Nashville are too widespread, too consistent, and too acute to be wholly from panic. I must say that the situation has brought out different attitudes in different people. The news reports about people who have hoarded gasoline by topping off their tank as often as they can and by filling up gas cans, as well. The majority of people I know, however, are actively trying to minimize their gasoline usage so that they are not taking someone else's share, and I suspect this is true of Nashvillians in general. For some reason, this doesn't make the news.

For those that haven't voluntarily changed their habits, many stations are imposing limitations on the amount of gas that can be purchased at any one time.

Experts say that the crisis will be over by the end of this week. So, by the time DH and I return to Nashville, things should have returned to normal -- at least as far as gasoline is concerned. As Meredith says, however, this is a wake up call, at least for me. If I am to reach my goal of being a good steward of our family's resources for our family's needs and to share with others, I do need to adapt to changing circumstances. I know the Lord will provide.

What about you? Has your area experienced shortages of any kind -- especially of gasoline? What prices, if any, have risen in your area? Have you noticed a change in your local economy and/or real estate market? What advice or concerns have you to share with us? I'd love to hear from you.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Two Thoughts for the Keeper at Home:

If monotony tries me, and I cannot stand drudgery; if stupid people fret me and the little ruffles set me on edge; if I make much of the trifles of life, then I know nothing of Calvary love. Amy Carmichael

“If a sudden jar can cause me to speak an impatient, unloving word, than I know nothing of Calvary love, for a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water however suddenly jolted.”Amy Carmichael


Friday, September 12, 2008

Fish Oil Friday...

I really wanted to post Feminine Friday, but our dear Barefoot Mama is taking a short blogging break due to computer issues. Fish Oil Friday just doesn't have that same "zing" does it? But, I do have a question about Fish.

DH and I have been taking enteric (sp?) coated fish oil tablets. They are the first ones I've found that we can take without having that fishy aftertaste. However, now that we're down to the end of the bottle, they are tasting fishier and I'm having some unpleasant reflux as a result. Since I also had a twenty-four hour stomach bug this week, I just am not ready to get back on the fish oil capsule habit yet. I will buy a fresh bottle and see if that helps.

Meanwhile, I bought a box of individually wrapped tilapia filets from Sam's or Wal-Mart a while back. They are quick and easy to cook. I prepared two last night in a non-stick pan and seasoned them with a multi-flavored seasoning salt. DH is not wild about fish, except for salmon or mahi-mahi on the grill. So, I only cook the tilapia from time to time and appreciate the ability to keep them in my freezer.

Apparently, tilapia does not give you the Omega 3 benefits that fatty fish -- such as salmon, tuna, etc. -- do.

But, I found this post from a nurse. The italics at the bottom are mine:

Q: Is tilapia one of the fish high in omega-3 fat?
A: No. Tilapia has only about one gram of fat altogether in a serving, unless you add more fat when cooking. Consequently, the amount of omega-3 fat in tilapia is much less than the amount in fatty fish like salmon, Atlantic mackerel, sea bass, rainbow trout, albacore tuna, herring and sardines. However, tilapia is still a good meal choice. It's a sweet, mild fish that is great for people who don't like a fishy taste. It's also wonderful when you want to use a flavorful sauce or seasoning that the fish won't compete with. You don't have to look for fish with high amounts of omega-3 fat, if you want to eat better. Simply having any kind of fish twice a week has been linked with health benefits.

Hmm...Is eating tilapia really as good for your health as eating the fish high in omega-3's? What do y'all think?

Do you take fish oil supplements? If so, have you found a fish oil supplement that you really like?


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Happy Happy Joy Joy Thanks Thanks...

We had a wonderful time at our son's wedding. Here's a photo of DS and his bride with their new wedding rings on. A lot of friends and family attended, and it was great to feel them surrounded by love as they started their new life together.

Budget Wedding tip: My new dear daughter-in-law planned a lot of her own wedding. Here's an idea that she came up with that I thought was clever. She and dear son had picked a historic house in a small southern town for their marriage venue. On one of the tables, she had placed a large bowl with some black mollie fish in them. The fish were striking and fit in with the black and white theme. Yet, they were an inexpensive touch. DS and DD-i-L are keeping the pets as fish, and someone is taking care of them until they get back from their honeymoon.

Budget Rehearsal Dinner Tip: I decorated the rehearsal dinner tables with photographs of my son and his bride to be. I found a lot of black frames on sale or at the dollar store, and I made the prints myself at the picture kiosk in Wal-Mart. I gave most of the frames and prints to family members who would treasure them. For inexpensive favors, I found favor boxes at Michael's and filled them with candy. I alternated these with candles in glass jars that I had picked up for $1.00 each, and a dear friend donated some beautiful handmade soaps which were tied with fresh herbs as a third favor.

Now, I'm going back to the Dollar Store and other places to collect more black frames and make black and white prints of our family weddings to place on a table with an arrangement and a lamp. The Dollar Store has frames in other colors as well. I'm using black to tie in with a theme.


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Off to dear son's wedding tomorrow!

(Obviously, this is not a picture of my son and his fiancee, but a photo from the movie, "Sense and Sensibility". )

We're traveling to the city where my son and his fiancee are getting married, and we're bringing my 88 year old father with us. Since I am an only child, my children are his only grandchildren. So, he's quite proud of our son and heartily approves of his choice of bride. Despite some health issues, he wouldn't miss this for anything!

Our son is living and working in the city where I spent many of my growing up years. DH and I met and married there, but we have haven't lived there since. So, it's kind of fun to have a child who is getting married in the same place where DH and I started our love story. And, DH and I have lived for many years now in the town where my parents met and married! It's interesting how God weaves things together; isn't it?

Another happy connection is that my daughter's husband's family and my son's fiancee's family have known each other since before both of them were born. In fact, the two sets of parents used to joke about the possibility they might get married someday. Instead, they each married into our family:) So, we feel as if we have a very special bond with our new in-laws already!

We all have friends and families from several towns, including the one where we now live, who are traveling to the wedding this weekend. We're all looking forward to the festivities.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Thrifty Tuesday

Since I needed to pick up some little treats for an upcoming family wedding, I visited the Dollar Store today. I haven't been in a while, which is probably a thrifty move on my part. While I do find some genuine gems on the shelves, I also feel the alluring temptation to buy stuff that I didn't know I needed until I saw it marked at the low price of only $1.00. The junky things whisper, "I'm only a dollar, only a dollar, only a dollar," and they congregate in my basket in enough numbers to put a serious dent in my weekly discretionary spending.

Having said that, I was pleased with my purchases today:

Bible CD's marked down to $.50. I picked up one that contains a section of the psalms and one that has the first half of Proverb to listen to in the car. I also bought the first 11 chapters of John for my daughter to listen to. Alas, they only have the KJV, but the reading is clear and well done, and it's a great way to sneak in a little Bible listening time.

Breathable garment and storage bags
tulle circles to wrap candles
Picture frames, of which I needed several for use at the dinner

I didn't buy any cards or gift bags today, though I find the Dollar Store to be a great resource for those things.