Thursday, July 31, 2008

Has anyone tried these?

Has anyone tried the Debbie Meyer Green Bags, which are supposed to keep produce fresher. Her web site offers 20 bags for $9.00 plus s&h. That is pricey, of course. However, based on someone's high recommendation of them, I did pick up a package in the produce section of my local Wal-Mart grocery store. Since I was buying them directly, the total cost was not as much as buying them through the web site.

The bags are reusable for up to 8 to 10 times each. You are supposed to use one bag for each type of produce (and/or flowers if you wish to keep them fresh). You would use one bag for apples, another for bananas, etc. It's also essential to keep the produce and the bag dry, which means that you may need to wipe the inside with a paper towel from time to time.

Supposedly, the bags absorb and remove the gases that produce produces during the ripening process. Continued exposure to these gases hastens the ripening process and, thus, hastens spoilae if you do not consume all of the produce quickly. This is the same principle behind the advice we've all heard not to store certain types of produce together because the gas released by one will affect the other's spoilage rate.

I've only tried the bags once or twice so far. I must say, the bag I used for bananas did keep the bananas fresh.

Now, I need to do the math. Since I am often feeding just DH and myself these days, anything that extends the freshness of store-bought or garden produce is handy to have. For example, we would do not use a head of lettuce or a pack of blueberries as quickly as we did when we had teens in our home. I can buy one or two bananas, but it's hard to buy some types of produce in small quantities. Plus, the garden produces more than we can eat at one time.

On the other hand, these bags would be expensive to buy on a regular basis, even given that each one in a 20 count pack can be re used up to ten times a piece.

What do y'all think? Have you tried them? Do you think they work? Do you think they are a good bargain?

Of course, there are other ways of storing some types of produce in order to keep them fresh. Every year, I buy a bushel of Arkansas Black apples (yummy!) from a local orchard. One orchard owner advises placing several apples in a large size zip lock bag and add just a teaspoon or less of water. If you make sure that you re-seal the bag tightly every time you remove an apple, the apples will stay fresh and crisp for nearly a year.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Steward, Owner, or Consumer?

If you ask me at any given moment if I see myself primarily as a steward, an owner, or a consumer of the blessings that God has entrusted to me, I will say that I am a steward. However, in the rush of daily life, it's easy for me to act more like I'm the primary owner or the entitled consumer of the goods that the Lord has placed in my care. It's good for me to reflect often that I am a steward who is working for the King.

What is a steward? Here's the definition according to the 1828 edition of Webster's Dictionary:

1. A man employed in great families to manage the domestic concerns, superintend the other servants, collect the rents or income, keep the accounts, &c. See Genesis 15:2 and 43:19.
2. An officer of state; as lord high steward; steward of the household, &c.
3. In colleges, an officer who provides food for the students and superintends the concerns of the kitchen.
4. In a ship of war, an officer who is appointed by the purser to distribute provisions to the officers and crew. In other ships, a man who superintends the provisions and liquors, and supplies the table.
5. In Scripture and theology, a minister of Christ, whose duty is to dispense the provisions of the gospel, to preach its doctrines and administer its ordinances.

Webster's uses the following quote to illustrate these uses of the word steward, "It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." 1 Corinthians 4.

In Luke 12:13-48 KJV, we find an example of Jesus' teachings about stewardship:

"And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.

And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?

And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:

And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?

And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.

And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.

The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.

Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?

And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?

If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?

Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?

And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.

For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.

But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;

And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.

Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.

And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.

And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.

Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.

Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all?

And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?

Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.

Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.

But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;

The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.

And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more."

What are the qualities of a good steward? I think we can learn from this that the faithful stewardess of her home has her master's interests in mind. She is rich toward the Lord and uses her money and other resources to further the things that matter to Him. She is watchful and not slack or lazy. She is not anxious or greedy, for she knows that she is the recipient of the Master's loving and abundant care. She knows that He provides for her now and also will bestow on her a great, eternal, and graciously-given reward. She is thoughtful of the other servants in the Master's house, and she sees to their needs. She is ready at any moment to give an accounting of the blessings entrusted to her. Her treasure is in heaven, with her Master, and she looks forward to His coming.


Caring for the elderly...

As a keeper of your home, you will most likely care for an elderly family member at some point. Also, you will certainly pay at least short visits to older family members or friends. Additionally, taking your children with you to visit the elderly, especially those who are confined to the home or a nursing facility, is one great way to train your children to have loving and giving characters. Not only that, but the presence of children is often a day brightener for people in their senior years.

Here's a great video to watch about how to communicate with the elderly. It is from the perspective of training nurses and other professional care givers how to talk to patients with Alzheimer's Disease. However, you can apply the same principles as an individual relating to anyone who is in their advanced years, whether they are in full vigor or are suffering from dementia or physical ailments.

Elder speak/Communicating with Alzheimer's Patients


Friday, July 25, 2008

Stewardship Part II

Here are some words to ponder:

Luke 16:9-13: And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mamon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations. He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

Well, I don't know about you, but that's challenging to me! So, here's my prayer:

Father, thank you for the material blessings and the spiritual riches that you graciously shower on me. Please give me an undivided heart that is fully devoted to you, as well as a heart that shares both spiritual and material blessings with others. Help me to be a more faithful steward so that I do not waste the gifts you have given to me and so that I will be able to give.


Item that makes me feel feminine: Using my mother's kidney-shaped dressing table. She had sewn a lovely cover for it, but it was damaged somewhere along the way. When I rescued it from my father's attic, I sewed a new cover out of a yellow sheet and some yellow gingham, and I trimmed it with white lace ribbon. Of course, my sewing skills are very basic, and I wasn't able to re-create the professional look of my mother's cover. But, still, it was fun to re-do it. If I ever re-do my bedroom, I will re-cover the table with other colors.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

One of my goals: To be a better steward of our home resources in this current economy.

With the help of many thrifty bloggers, I am going to embark on a Biblical and financial study about how to be a better steward of our home resources in this current economy. I am going back to the basics, as if I had never studied this topic before, and I hope -- Lord willing -- to take an in-depth look. From time to time, I will post about what I am learning. I hope you'll join me on my journey and offer any suggestions, comments, or questions you may have.

First, here's a great article by Julieann. She is not feeling the pinch in her grocery budget. If you haven't read her tips for shopping economically yet, I think you'll enjoy reading her post.

I am feeling the pinch in my grocery bills and my gas bills, too, of course. Milk is definitely higher here.

Part of the reason I've blown the budget lately has nothing to do with the current higher prices, though. I've bought a few extra necessities that I'd been putting off. Plus, we've hosted a few more dinners lately than we had been for a few months. Not only that, but I've bought some higher quality, more nutritious, more expensive items where I used to buy something more basic. And, to tell the truth, I've indulged in a few luxury items, as well. So, I need to evaluate to make sure that I'm not wandering too far off track.

I also plan to take a notebook with me next time I do a full shopping and do a price point comparison to see which items really are higher and which aren't.

One place I really need to be more careful about is cooking for two. I had gotten used to cooking for a family of four, with frequent friends of my children at the table, as well. So, now, I often cook way too much for just dear hubby and myself. I plan to use the leftovers, but don't always get them worked in to our eating schedule. Here's where I either need to plan smaller portions or freeze leftovers right away. I used to cook for two when we first started out, but I've forgotten how, I think. LOL. (Portion control will not only be good for our budget but for our waistlines!)

Well, those are my three practicals to think about this week. Now, on to the deeper study.

Here's the 1828 Webster's definition of economy:

ECON'OMY, n. [L. oeconomia; Gr. house, and law, rule.]

1. Primarily, the management, regulation and government of a family or the concerns of a household.
2. The management of pecuniary concerns or the expenditure of money. Hence,
3. A frugal and judicious use of money; that management which expends money to advantage,and incurs no waste; frugality in the necessary expenditure of money. It differs from parsimony, which implies an improper saving of expense. Economy includes also a prudent management of all the means by which property is saved or accumulated; a judicious application of time, of labor, and of the instruments of labor.
8. Judicious and frugal management of public affairs; as political economy.
9. System of management; general regulation and disposition of the affairs of a state or nation, or of any department of government.

Here's Wickipedia's definition:

Economics is the social science that studies the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Greek for oikos (house) and nomos (custom or law), hence "rules of the house(hold)."[1]

Here's a little more about the history of the word from a textbook on Macroeconomics.

1.1 Origin of the term "Economics"

The term "economy," from which we get "economics," comes most directly from the Old French word "economie," meaning "management of a household." The French adopted the term from the Latin word "oeconomia," which was in turn derived from the Greek word "oikonomia." Oikonomia came from the word "oikonomos," which separates into "oikos," meaning house, and "-nomos" meaning managing.

The oldest recognized written work in the field of economics is Oeconomicus, a book on farming and household management, written by the Greek philosopher Xenophon (430?-355? B.C.).

Despite the Greek origins of the term, economics was not an important field of study for the ancient Greeks, who, despite occasional references to economic matters, were more interested in philosophy and ethics.

Note: All three sources connect the origin of the word economy to Greek words meaning the rules or management of a household. Home economy is a vital part of our role as keeper of the home. For more on this topic, see my post Economy: A Word Study.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Woman Found graciously encouraged me with the Arte y Pico (best art) Award. Isn't the drawing of the award lovely? I will do my best to be a good steward of the award and pass it along to five lovely blogs. There are so many to choose from, but I will endeavor to keep it to just five.

First, here are the Rules:

1) You have to pick 5 blogs that you consider deserve this award, creativity, design, interesting material, and also contrubuites to the blogger community, no matter of language.

2) Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.

3) Each award-winning, has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog thathas given her or him the ward itself.

4) Award-winning and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of "Arte y pico"blog so everyone will know the origin of this award.

5) To show these rules.

Second, please note that just because I have selected a blog that doesn't mean I endorse everything on that person's site.

So, now, the envelopes please....

1) Fete et Fleur -- A Place to Dream -- The name says it all.

2) Sew Chic Mother and Daughter Teach Us How to Sew Lovely Things

3) Your Daily Art -- Since this award is supposed to be about art, I thought I should include an art history blog. Enjoy! Enjoy!

4) Malcom Cox -- Resource for Students of the Bible

5) She Hath Done What She Could
Love the title, love the book that inspired the title, love the tips for frugal stewardship, and, of course, I love the fact that it's pink!

Friday, July 18, 2008

It's Feminine Friday again...

Last weekend, I enjoyed visiting the home of a woman I really admire. She is an example of how unselfish love is such an essential ingredient of femininity -- and, in the larger picture -- of being like Christ. She has survived a life-threatening illness, and I am so awed by how faithfully she has come through it. She and her husband showed us last minute hospitality after they had both been out of the home all day serving others and even though she was not feeling her best physically. They were smiling and giving. They made us feel so welcome, as if they we were doing them a favor by visiting them when really they were serving us. Their house was neat and cozy and decorated with treasures that she has re-finished or inherited or found at garage sales. In their average sized lot, they have created a lovely and peaceful garden oasis - - complete with a little pond -- and they are happy to invite others to share their garden with them. All week long, I've been savoring the time we got to spend relaxing in that garden.

She often stops by garage sales and has a stash of inexpensive little gifts which she picks up with her loved ones in mind. You cannot visit her or have a visit from her without her presenting you with some little something that delights you. Somehow, she manages to shower her family with love, keep her house beautifully, lay down her life to serve her church and her neighbors, and deal with some physical issues, without becoming frazzled or exhausted or grumpy. I came away inspired to imitate her.



Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Through a window...

I heard a great quote today by an author, Jill Rigby. I haven't read Rigby's book, "Raising Unselfish Children in a Self-Absorbed World," so I can't comment on that. In an interview she gave, however, she said, "Teach your children to look at life through a window instead of at a mirror."

Her point was that our modern culture is overly concerned with creating self esteem in children. We parents sometimes raise the goal of helping our children to be happy above helping them to be humble and holy -- which leads to greater happiness in the long run.

When we turn our children's focus toward themselves, they view life as if they are looking in a mirror. When you look in a mirror, you can't see others. You can't see their needs. You also can't see them looking at you and loving you. You see yourself only. Thus, placing too much weight on self esteem and self focus ends up making a child feel lonely and alienated from others. A self-absorbed child cannot make the deep connections to God and others that lead to a fulfilling life.

If you teach a child to look through a window, however, they have a larger view. They can see God. They can see the love that others have for them. They can see the needs of others and reach out to meet those needs. They form deeper connections to God and to other people.

I thought that was a profound concept. It's one we all know, but I think her analogy of the window and the mirror drives the concept home.

In the same vein, Homeliving Helper has an article today called the Blessing of Work.
It's about modeling a happy attitude in our work and teaching our children to have a happy attitude when they work. This goes a long way toward helping a child to overcome crippling selfishness, I think.


Friday, July 11, 2008

I just found out about this fun meme, so I haven't had time to take pics to go with my ideas yet. I hope to do a better job next Friday.

An outfit that makes you feel feminine: I love dresses and skirts! I wear a lot of pants, but I feel most at home in a skirt. I've been that way since I was three.

To the left is the skirt part of a dress I just ordered from IGIGI. I haven't gotten it yet, but I'm hoping it will work for a wedding. What do you think?

An accessory that is special and makes you feel beautiful: my wedding rings. It's not that I particularly like the style. In fact, I wish I'd gone with the heart-shaped stone I had my eye on instead of the more practical solitaire that the jeweler talked us into. But, still, these are the rings my beloved husband gave me almost 28 years ago, and they are dear to me because of that symbol of love and commitment. I wouldn't change them for anything.

Something in my home that represents my femininity: Right now, I am loving the sound of my wind chimes. Does that count? They're really on the deck instead of inside. I like them because they add the feminine quality of sound to our home.

Oh, I just now thought how I love my china, with it's delicate pink flowers. I'm sort of a china freak. I'll let you decide which of these two home articles you enjoy most.

An inspiring or thought-provoking article, book review, or quotation on any topic related to femininity: There are so many wonderful articles and quotes out there, and I keep an ever growing collection of them in a file on my computer. I print some out and put them in binders to give to new brides. So, what shall I choose for today? Well, off the top my head, I guess I'll stick with the scriptures this week and choose the book of Ruth. I admire her noble and faithful femininity.

And, just for all around feminine inspiration: I'm in love with anything pink!!

Visit the Barefoot Mama to participate. I'd love to read your thoughts! Julieann also has participated on her blog


Thursday, July 10, 2008

God-motivated in homemaking or self-and-circumstance motivated?

Where I put my focus has everything to do with my success and happiness in homemaking.

When I'm God-centered:

1) I make my relationship with God the central and most important priority of my life.
2) I seek the kingdom and his righteousness and trust God to take care of our daily needs and tomorrow's happenings. I trustfully obey God and let Him carry my burdens.
3) I look for ways to use my home and my time to share the gospel and serve those in need.
4) I gladly and calmly show hospitality.
5) I focus on the needs of family and guests. I am creative as a way of using my God-given talents. I am happy if others are pleased with the hospitality I show and if they encourage me, but I do not need that.
6) I have a good balance between planning my day well and being flexible to God's plans for my day.
7) I surrender my time to the Lord and also get my husband's input. My priorities are in order.
8) I take suggestions well, especially from my husband, because I want to be the best steward I can be of my life and my home.
9) I love others out of respect for the Lord; my love is unconditional; my love focuses on what the other person really needs; I am secure in God's love and therefore can love others even if they do not respond the way I think they should.
10) I listen before speaking. I depend on the Lord for wisdom in what to say. My speech is kind; I speak the truth in love; I speak what benefits and builds up others.

When I am self-and-circumstance centered:

1) I let other things crowd my relationship to the Lord.
2) I fret about what we'll eat and what we'll wear and about all that I have to do tomorrow. I let things become a burden, rather than a joy. I give off a worried, harried air instead of a peaceful, calm, and quiet spirit.
3) I let many days get by me without serving others outside of my own family.
4) I get flustered with serving others.
5) I am creative in order to gain praise from family and guests, and I am disappointed if I don't get it.
6) I do not plan well, and I become unsettled when the day doesn't go as I had envisioned.
7) My priorities are out of balance. I try to do everything I want to do and everything God has in mind for me to do, too, and I overload myself. I am selfish with my time.
8) I become defensive when someone, especially my husband, suggests that I have room for improvement.
9) I love out of my natural self; unselfish love is mixed with selfishness; I show love and affection in order to gain love and affection; I am insecure.
10) I talk more than I listen; I talk about what I want to talk about instead of being interested in what others have to say; I can be snappy when not feeling well; I speak what makes me feel good in the moment instead of considering what builds others up.

Doing it God's way is the happier plan!


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I needed to shop for and prepare a meal for DH and for a couple with a new baby in a fairly short amount of time. Here's what I came up with:

2 chicken and rice casseroles from Stouffer. (It was the first time I had used these. They were very tasty, yet not too spicy for a nursing mother. We have plenty of leftovers, and I'm sure the young couple does, too. If I'd had more time, I'd have made my own chicken, but this worked out well for today.)
Couz-couz cooked with water and a little orange juice, with chopped apple, chopped celery, almonds, raisins, and enough extra o.j. to moisten it and keep the apples fresh stirred in. (I prepared a whole box and split it between the two of us. Again, we had leftovers, and I'm sure they did, too. )
Squash/zucchinni pan stir fried and steamed in pan -- DH loves squash of any kind
blackberry pie with store bought crusts, frozen blackberries (best to thaw first), Bisquick, and sugar.

DH really enjoyed the meal, as these are many of his favorites all combined in one meal. He was so delighted with it, it made me re-evaluate what I've been cooking lately!

The brand new baby was so sweet. I had a moment of baby fever. Does that ever go away?


Saturday, July 05, 2008

I hope everyone's enjoying a great Fourth of July weekend!

We've had a lovely time with family. I think our cat is the only one who hasn't had a good time. She seemed clingy all day today, and I think the sound of fireworks around our neighborhood last night shook her up. Does anyone else have a pet who is skittish about the sounds? Oddly, thunder doesn't seem to bother her.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Feed Your Skin

Check out this article from Reader's Digest online about eating to maintain beautiful, younger looking skin.

The first paragraph says, "What you put inside your body eventually shows on the outside. More than 100 dermatologists analyzed the skin of about 4,000 women ages 40 to 74. Then they looked at eating habits, weight, history of sun exposure, and whether the women had hit menopause."

What were the findings?

Women who ate Vitamin C rich foods -- as opposed to relying on supplements -- had far less wrinkles than other women in the study did.

Women who consumed foods rich in linoleic acid had skin that was less dry and fragile.

And -- sigh -- once again we find out that excess carbs and fats are aging. Women who consumed these had more wrinkles in their skin.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A thought for Wives and Mothers

He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much, and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is also unrighteous in much. Luke 16:10

This verse means so much to me, and, yet, it challenges me on so many levels.

Last night, I read from a book about five orphaned children whose late parents had always trusted God for everything. Throughout the book, the point is made that the children, specifically the oldest daughter, remind everyone of their parents. This is especially meaningful to their aunt, who had been been aloof from her sister (the children's mother) for many years. She now regrets that she didn't know her sister as an adult. Then, she realizes that she does have a chance to learn more about her sister and her sister's faith. She can see her sister's heart reflected in her children.

In one scene, the oldest daughter is sweeping out an enclosed porch. She thinks about sweeping only the exposed parts and moving on ahead to something else that needed to be done. She certainly had "reasons" enough to think in terms of just surviving her days -- just doing a good enough job to get by. She was grieving her mother's recent death, striving to fulfill a promise she made to her dying mother to keep the family together, realizing that in order to fulfill this promise she and her siblings might have to move -- which would mean giving up marrying her true love and also her way of life, handling heavy chores, stepping into a mother's role at the age of sixteen, and considering a teaching job, as well. In my heart, I was rooting for her to do a passable job and sit down for a short break.

Now, there are times to skip sweeping corners and fretting about cobwebs in order to devote more time to the Lord and to people. One way we know that is from the example of Mary and Martha. Martha fretted about the serving to be done, while Mary chose the better thing -- to sit at Jesus' feet. Also, there are times we need to get adequate spiritual, emotional and physical rest.

However, there are times when I cut corners out of laziness or selfishness, rather than out of godly motives. As the girl in the book contemplated her work, she remembered that her parents had taught her that if she was going to do a job, she should do it well. So, the girl chose to spend the time and effort it took to move things on the porch and sweep it the way it should be done.

Throughout the book, she displayed this kind of character. She was faithful in the little things that no one notices unless they aren't done well. She was faithful in disciplining the motives of her heart. She was faithful in remembering the Lord's word and the teachings of her deceased parents. Because these unseen things were a part of her character, she was able to be faithful when it came to large, more outward things. She had her faults, but her great strength was faithfulness out of trust in the Lord and love for her late parents. That character inspired me.