Sunday, August 31, 2008

Giving Honor to Whom Honor is Due and Teaching Your Children To Do So...

Have you ever struggled with giving the proper respect to someone whose role warrants it, but whose personal conduct doesn't -- at least in your opinion? Maybe, you had a hard time honoring a teacher who was boring or harsh or hypocritical. Perhaps, you've been tempted to disobey a parent, because you thought that you - in all of your young years -- had more wisdom about a certain matter. Or, maybe, the mention of a particular political leader's name gets your blood boiling, because you think he's damaging your city, your state, or your country. Or, you are certain that dear hubby is way off base in a particular way he's leading your family.

I think we've all had a moment or two when we've struggled with something this. In some cases, we deal with this because of our own prideful bent toward rebellion and wanting to be in control ourselves. In some cases, the person in question really is failing in their character or their duty. In some cases, both are true: the person in question is falling short and we are, too.

On the other hand, have you ever been in a position of leadership, only to find yourself the object of unjust criticism? Have you ever had people pick at your motives, your ability, and your judgment? Or, have you ever been in charge of pulling a group to work together in unity, when each person in the group has her own very strong opinions? If so, you have experienced the flip side of this leadership dilemma. You've probably longed for people to give you a little grace and to be grateful for the hard work you are doing, even if you aren't living up to everyone's expectations.

I have been thinking about this because of some blog comments I read recently. A particular author's work was under discussion. It was noted that this author often portrayed parents who were absent, indifferent, or otherwise flawed. Yet, the children in these books -- many of whom had their own set of weaknesses -- showed honor to their parents. They did so not necessarily because the parents deserved it in their own right, but because it was the honorable thing to do.

This also comes to mind because we are in an election year in the U.S.. In the past few years, we've seen people bash our country and our sitting president while abroad, and we've seen candidates bash each other. I'm grateful that in most cases the debate has been civil. Still, we've all seen how ugly politics can get.

Giving honor to whom honor is due out of respect for the person's role is somewhat foreign to our modern way of thinking. I remember a time when we had to help one of our children follow through with a teacher's assignments, even though the child could not see the point in doing them. To be honest, I don't remember whether or not the assignments themselves were all that helpful. However, our child needed to learn the valuable lesson that there is good discipline in following through with assignments. After all, we may not always understand why bosses, teachers, and other leaders ask us to do something. Yet, we shine when we obey with a cheerful and respectful attitude.

Now, I'm not saying that we should blindly follow someone just because that person has a certain position. Nor, am I saying that that we should agree to do something we believe is wrong. We need to have courage of conviction and teach our children to have the same when it comes to being asked to do something sinful or dishonest. After all, Paul said, "We must obey God rather than men."

If someone is abusing their position or is floundering because they are ill-equipped to fulfill their role, we may deem it necessary to do what we can to make the situation better. For example, we once removed our children from a school once because we felt that the atmosphere was harming our children. Other ways we might work with a difficult leader are to respectfully tell the truth about what we see, vote when applicable, pray for someone, talk things out, etc. Or, we may find that it's best to wait patiently. Discerning whether to act or wait takes prayer.

The key is our attitude. Attitudes that hamper us all are being judgmental, quick to criticize, stubborn, fearful, and uncooperative. Attitudes that benefit us all are respect, speaking truthfully yet wisely and kindly, cooperation, gratitude, and faith that God is ultimately at work for good. Our lives and the lives of our children are blessed when we give proper honor to parents and leaders.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Feminine Friday on Saturday!

Feminine bliss is finding the perfect shoe! I was searching for something to wear with this dress:

And, I found these shoes by Mudd:

I was really looking for something strappier and dressier, but I couldn't resist the bit of lace overlay on this pump, which goes with the lace overlay on the dress. Plus, I can wear these with many other items, both casual and dressy.

What do y'all think?


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Food Timeline --Prepare a meal from your favorite decade in American, Australian, or UK history.

While I was looking for the recipe I mentioned in the previous post -- which I still haven't found -- I ran across this interesting site. It lists various decades in US history, going all the way back to the 1900-1910. You can click on a decade to find lists of dishes, menus, etc. The idea is that you can use this as a means of planning a party or a dinner themed around a decade and actually prepare menus that people really did eat in that decade.

It's a little freaky seeing foods from my childhood listed as being of historical or nostalgic interest. (Does anyone remember how popular Waldorf salad used to be? How about Watergate salad?)

This list ends with the 1980's. Presumably, the 90's and the 2,000's are still too new to make the list.

If you are more interested in foods popular in the UK or Australia, there's a timeline for you, too. Sometime, when I have the time, I am going to compare the 70's in all three lands.


Calling all cooks...

My mother used to make an easy, delicious dessert with angel food cake. She pulled the cake into very small pieces. Then, she cooked a sauce on the stove to pour over the cake. If I remember correctly, the ingredients were orange juice, ginger ale and marshmallows. She layered a 9 by 13 inch pan with the angel food cake, the pieces, and coconut and let it sit overnight until it formed a moist, cake like texture. She added maraschino cherries on top.

I have not made it in a long time, and I cannot find the recipe anywhere. Has anyone ever made this? I'm not sure if I'm remembering the ingredients correctly or, if I am, what quantities to use. I'd like to make it for a weekend gathering. If anyone has a similar recipe, I'd love to know.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Check it out!

Have y'all seen this free tutorial to make an apron?

It's been around a while but I've just now found it. Actually, I came across it on Tip Nut's site. She has an old post linking to 54 free apron patterns!

The woman who offers this hand-embroidered "Suzy Homemaker" on it, but you could embellish it however you want.

Of course, I love it because it's an apron and, more importantly, it's PINK.

On another note, I'm drying 2 dozen white roses that I got to take home from a family member's wedding shower. Bliss is two dozen white (or PINK) roses.


Friday, August 15, 2008

I haven't been in the blog-o-sphere very much this week, so I didn't realize that this week's challenge was to show a picture of feminine pants. So, I haven't taken a picture to illustrate this.

At any rate, I was the little girl who always wanted to be in a dress, even when I was climbing trees. Would you believe that I had a dream about a dress when I was about six or seven? I described what it looked like to my mother, and she made it for me.

We had to wear skirts and dresses when I was in the early years of high school, which suited me fine. Then, the dress code changed, and it was amazing how quickly pants became more common than dresses. Despite that, many girls wore dresses to class at least once or twice a week.

Of course, being a child of my era, I loved a good pair of jeans. Still, in college, I kept trying to dress up from time to time, and people would ask me, "Who died?" That was their joking way of saying that I was too dressed up -- as if I were going to a funeral -- instead of to class. To this day, I maintain that the right dress is never out of place.

Today, I still love wearing skirts and dresses. However, for some reason, I end up wearing pants more often than I'd really like to. I'm not sure why I often reach for pants, as I have many skirts that are suitable for every day wear. Sometimes, I will wear pants early in the day, when I'm doing heavier work or exercising. Then, I will shower and change into a dress. For all but the hardest or sportiest tasks, I actually find a casual skirt and blouse to be very comfortable.

I do think you can wear pants in a feminine way. I think it has a lot to do with how they're cut, what top you wear, what shoes you wear, and how you present yourself all around. I don't know that I have any one particular pair of pants, though, that exemplifies this more than any other. I suppose I feel most feminine in capris, though I don't have a logical reason for that. Maybe, they represent light-hearted summer with fun sandals and pretty toenail polish.

Some of the others participating in the challenge have posted lovely examples of pants. I especially like Georgia's jeans with the floral insert. They remind me of the jeans we used to wear when I was much younger.

As far as sleeping pants go, DH presented me with a pajama gram for Valentine's Day, and I love the silky and feminine PJ's. I do have some long things I wear in extremely cold weather or when I am ill. They're cute and soft, but not exactly the most glamorous attire a wife could slip into. I make sure to also have and wear more alluring things for the nighttime.

I also have some exercise pants that should never, ever, ever leave the house and probably shouldn't even be worn in the presence of patient DH. After all, I'm not too keen on him lounging in some of his Saturday work clothes. But, we give each other some grace on that point.

I think many other cultures have created some lovely feminine pants. I especially like flowing pants underneath a tunic, and it seems that women from many countries have some variation of that look as part of their attire.

I know many very feminine women who wear pants most of the time. I have a good friend who dons slacks for almost every occasion, including some dressy events. She takes excellent care of her appearance, and she has a great sense of what colors and styles work for her. She also has a loving and gentle spirit, which gives her a feminine quality. Her tops and pants are modestly cut, yet they are also always very stylish. There are times when I throw on a skirt and dress and dash out the door, yet she never appears looking less than her best. I don't mean to say that she spends an inordinate amount of time on her looks, but she has worked out her beauty routine and coordinated closet so that she can present a feminine, well-groomed appearance in a hurry. Again, a lot of feminine loveliness goes back to the care you take with your overall presentation, so she is a great example to me of femininity no matter what she is wearing.

Having said that, I'm very happy to see so many younger women wearing more skirts and dresses now. I think the stores are offering some very cute options in dresses these days. Some are not as modest as I'd like to see, but they can usually be made modest with the help of a little creativity.

Happy Feminine Friday!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Who knew? National Thrift Week

Today, I came across this quote by a man named Harvey Blodgett:

Thrift and prosperity have gone hand in hand since Abraham's flocks grew and multiplied. Thrift is not, as many suppose, a self repression. It is self expression, the demonstration of a will and ability to raise one's self to higher plane of living. No depression was ever caused by people having too much money in reserve. No human being ever became a social drifter through the practice of sensible thrift.

—Harvey A. Blodgett


I wanted to find out who Harvey Blodgett was and to learn more about his thoughts on thrift. When I "Googled" his name, I found that he wrote a book in the 1920's called, "Double Your Savings; It can be Done". It's available online, and I may read it -- though I think he may be talking more to bankers than to individuals.

Anyhow, in doing more research, I found quotes from him in a book called, Quotations for Every Occasion by Maude Van Buren. I was surprised that the author dedicated a whole chapter of quotations for something called, "National Thrift Week". This led me to find out that there was a movement in the nineteen-teens to twenties called the "National Thrift Movement", and they influenced the country to celebrate "National Thrift Week", which was somehow tied to the birth of Ben Franklin.

Here's what a link to a 1922 article in the New York Times about Thrift Week. You'll have to scroll a little bit down the page to find the article. Anyhow, each day of that week was dedicated to some aspect of thrift. For example, January 21 of that year was Pay your Bills Promptly Day and January 24 was Share with Others Day. Fascinating!

It's interesting that the Thrift Movement -- whatever it entailed -- did not stop the feverish stock speculation that led to the 1929 crash of the stock market and the nation's banks, as well as to the Great Depression. Of course, many hard-working, thrifty citizens were hard-hit by the economy's collapse through no fault of their own. Plus, the dust bowl in the Mid West affected many hard-working farmers. However, there were also people who were playing with easy money and living an excessive lifestyle. I wonder what the members of the National Thrift Movement thought of that, and I wonder if they saw the crash coming.

If you can shed some light on Harvey Blodgett, National Thrift Week, or the National Thrift Movement, I'd love to hear from you.


Saturday, August 09, 2008

Music for productivity in your home:

On a table of books offered for $.99 a piece, I found a book called "Tips for Your Home Office" by Meredith Gould. The book was written back in the 1990's, which probably accounted for it being in the bargain section of the half-price book store. Even so, I think it has some great tips for organizing your home office and your time. The principles can also be applied to other aspects of homemaking.

Here's an interesting thought from the book:

She says that certain combinations of sound and rhythm in music will lower blood pressure, enhance concentration, stimulate creativity and even overcome the late-afternoon slump. On the other hand, other kinds of music irritate your nerves, make you lose focus, or even make you cranky. She says that according to research, classical music has proved to be the most effective music to work by, but she says that not all classical music suits these purposes.

So, what music does she recommend to increase productivity, based on research? Here's a list:

1) The more memasured, mathematical, and reptitious compositions of the baroque era (end of 16th century to early 18th century). Think Bach, Vivaldi, Toerlli, and Teleman.
2) The lighter, more buoyant works of the classical era (18th century). Think Mozart and Haydn.
3) Except for Gregorian chants, which are repetitive, avoid vocal music.
4) Unless you grew up in another culture and have absorbed that culture's musical foundations, stick to Western music. (My note: If you did grow up in a non-western tradition of music, perhaps you might want to experiment with different things from your musical tradition that make you feel most calm and yet productive. You might want to write about that on your blog and leave a comment here so that we can learn about your musical experiences.)
5) Avoid music of the romantic era (early and mid-19ths century), the atonal music of the 20th century, and most synthesized New Age music. New Age music, she says, can be soothing, but it doesn't encourage productivity.
6) Save peppier music -- such as rock, rap, jazz, movie tracks, and greatest hits -- for when you take breaks to tidy up your home office or file papers.

She says one way to enhance your work is to tune into a classical music station, but switching if they turn to selections that interfere with your working environment.

Of course, she's referring to music that enhances productivity and creativity for a home business -- not necessarily music that you might enjoy listening to for recreation. I am curious how her theory applies to other home tasks, such as cleaning and organizing. I read a long time ago that students who listened to classical music before certain tests scored better. So, perhaps, the research she is citing is in line with that.

Other than advising against vocal music, she doesn't discuss listening to spiritual songs and hymns, which I know many in the homemaking corner of the blog-o-sphere like to play as they work. I wonder if some of the more classically styled hymns might be just the thing to encourage our home management. I think because I'm a reader and a writer, I can easily get sidetracked pondering the meaning of the words, rather than attending to the task at hand. Of course, that would at least be helpful meditation -- good for the soul, at any rate. Some people have different interests and tune more into the music itself than to the words.

Of course, my thought would be that you should listen to whatever works for you or even enjoy silence if you prefer. Sometimes, I like to have my house quiet -- except for happy sounds coming in from the outside. I like to hear the breeze, birds singing, wind chimes, and especially children playing in the distance. Other times, however, I get lazy and turn on something like HGTV or TV Land to have noise while I'm working around the house. Sometimes, the shows inspire me to do the best with my home, but they also distract me. Quality music would be a better choice for me, I think. So, the author's suggestions do provide me with food for thought -- or, should I say -- musical food for the brain.

What about you? What music do you enjoy when you work at home? Do you listen to one type of music while you do active things, such as vacuuming and another type for paying bills or returning correspondence? Do you teach your children about different styles of music? Do you like music playing or a quiet house? Do you or your children listen to soothing music as you fall asleep? What type of music do you play when you have people coming over? I'd love to hear what works for you so I can be inspired by your ideas.


Friday, August 08, 2008

It's Feminine Friday again! This week's challenge is to think of something outside of your home that makes you feel feminine.

Well, there are so many ways to go with this creative theme:

Relationship with God
Beautiful things in nature
Picnics alone with DH, with DH and children, with friends
Horses, cats, chicks, peacocks, baby animals of almost any kind
Roses! Roses! Roses! Roses!
Babies! Smiling Babies!
Touring old historic homes and getting ideas from the things you learn about the women who created them.
Lovely old shops full of lovely books and lovely things
Romantic restaurants
Small simple old church buildings
People singing meaningful old hymns together
Seeing where my parents grew up
Walking hand in hand with DH on the beach
Weeping Willows
Outdoor symphonies and other outdoor musical events
Visiting with elderly women, who pass on the wisdom they learned in a lifetime of being a woman

I'm one who always feels womanly when outdoors, around nature, and around simple things. But, I do have another side to my femininity: Y'all didn't seriously think that I would let this opportunity pass without posting pictures of my favorite feminine city --Paris --now did you? LOL

The pictures above are all from the Palace of Versailles. I tried to persuade Dearest Hubby that we could re-create this look in our dining room. I reasoned that all it would take would be a few trips to Home Depot for some paint. For some reason, he didn't go for it. Wonder why he didn't think we could do it? Giggles.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Thrifty Tuesday...

The meaning of money...

Recently, my DH and I had a conversation with a newly married couple. The wife has been a hard worker and very responsible for money since she was a young girl -- long before she met her husband. The husband is also frugal and sound in his financial thinking. Normally, they work together very well. However, they recently found themselves at an impasse over what to do with a relatively small amount in their budget.

The husband saw the money as something to be put away for future financial security. The wife wanted to spend it on something that she felt was a good bargain and a useful and needed item. The more we talked, the more we realized that the issue was probably not the money itself, but the the emotional meaning each had ascribed to the money. The husband saw the money as a building block for their future financial health, while the wife saw his objection to her spending it as a lack of trust in her ability to manage. They quickly worked through this by identifying what the situation meant to each of them and by each being considerate of the other's feelings.

I'm sure we've all been involved in discussions about small things and have wondered , "Why are we spending so much time and emotional energy on this?" I know it sounds silly, but many years ago my dh and I had a few disagreements about how to fold towels! Usually, when something small becomes the focal point of that much discussion, it is merely a sign that something larger is going on. In my case, I was placing a desire to have a bathroom that looked like Martha Stewart's above my husband's comforts.

Now, we all know that Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount and in other places that God loves us and knows our needs and that He will provide for us as He, in His Supreme Wisdom, knows is best for us. He is a loving Father who delights in taking care of his children. Christ encourages us to seek the Kingdom first and God's righteousness and trust God's provision. This ties in with one of my favorite Pslams -- 127 -- which says, "It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors, For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep."

Of course, this doesn't nullify our responsibility to work whole-heartedly out of respect for the Lord, to provide for the needs of our family and the church, or to plan and use our money wisely in the service of the Lord. (I Timothy 5:8; Proverbs 6:6; Titus 3:14). God calls us to work whole-heartedly out of reverence for him (Col. 3), and also to be faithful, good, and thankful stewards of the many blessings he gives us.

So, if God has promised that He will meet our needs and He has also given us sure instructions about work, money, and stewardship, why do we sometimes fret about money? Why is this especially true for we Americans, who live in a land of comparative abundance? If we have a clean and safe place to live -- no matter how small it is -- and if we have drinkable running water and electricity, something to drive, access to even minimal medical care, and a job, we are supremely blessed when compared to what many people have.

My son visited Manilla as part of a project to build a youth center for impoverished children. He visited villages that were built on top of giant trash heaps. The people there make their living by picking through the trash for things to sell. The most famous of these villages -- Old Smokey -- had been shut down some years before his visit. Still, there were many similar ones that were still thriving.

This is not to minimize the real poverty that exists in our country or to downplay the real financial stresses that a hard-working American family might face. However, we've all met people who possess very little of the world's resources and are joyful, peaceful, hard-working, trusting, and generous. We've also met people who possess an abundance of wealth and are haunted by the fear of never having enough. They may be greedy, anxious, and either workaholics or lazy. The same is true in reverse. The point is that it's not necessarily the size of our bank account that determines whether we have a trustful and obedient attitude concerning money.

The short and true answer is that if we find ourselves becoming anxious about money, we need to repent. We need to trust the Lord, as well as search the scriptures for his instructions about money and put them into practice. We need to put away sins that trip us up financially, such greed, envy, and a lack of self-control, and put on faithfulness, trust, and responsibility.

This process is sometimes helped if we examine our attitudes about money. Rightly viewed, money and material goods are wonderful tools that are to be used to further the gospel, take care of our families, take care of those with greater needs, and to be enjoyed with thanksgiving. However, we can assign meanings to money and material goods that they were never meant to bear.

Some of these money-meanings might be security; independence; freedom; participation in the American dream; a means to gain others' approval; a measure of our self-worth; a band-aid for fears about present inadequacies or future dangers; the supreme source of our pleasure rather than a blessing to be enjoyed in its proper place; a fantasy that if we could only acquire enough, we wouldn't have to work so hard; something we are entitled to because we have suffered in some way; something to spend as a means of comforting anxiety, stress, or emptiness, etc; the source of our self-esteem.

We may also falsely equate having a lot of money as a sign that God is pleased with us or feel that if we are struggling to make ends meet that must means God is angry or unloving toward us. That's a whole other topic in scripture. Suffice it to say, however, material wealth or the lack of it is not always a measure of God's favor. Jesus was more impressed by the poor widow who gave back to God all that she had to live on than he was with those who were able to give vast amounts to the temple treasury out of their surplus. If we have somehow gotten the idea in our mind that money equals God's love, our faith rests on an insecure foundation. In that case, we would do well to give the topic more study.

We can all be tempted to elevate money and other earthly blessings above their true purpose in our lives. When we do that, we make money an idol. We seek from money the things that can only come from a relationship to God. The irony is that when we do that, we don't enjoy our money or our material comforts. When we receive our money as a blessing from our loving Father and we trustfully obey his commands concerning money, we use and enjoy money with a peaceful, unworried heart. We, like Paul, will learn how to be content with much and with little -- in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.


Monday, August 04, 2008

Committing to loveliness this week -- Check out Charming the Birds from the Trees

1. Work on posture -- I am shamelessly copying Emma on this one. I recently looked through some pictures and realized that I do slump and that it does nothing for my appearance or my health. We worked on this last year through the Online Finishing School, but it's time for me to give myself a week long refresher course.
2. Keep plants watered and garden weeded during this very hot, humid week. Find a home for the "Nearly Wild" rose bush I got for a steal at $5.00.
3. Fluff all of my pillows in the dryer this week
4. Do those Kegels!
5. Conquer clutter

Friday, August 01, 2008

Is it just me, or does it seem to you that Feminine Fridays are coming around faster and faster! This summer is flying by.

Anyhow, here is my feminine picture for today:

This is a picture of my beloved dear hubby (DH) standing on my favorite bridge in the world: Pont Neuf in Paris. I spent a summer in France when I was young. DH has always wanted to take me back to a place where I had such fond memories. A couple of years ago, when we were celebrating our twenty-fifth anniversary, DH surprised me with tickets to Paris. He asked me to plan our itinerary, as he had never been to Paris. Well, the first thing on my list was to get a kiss from DH on the famous old bridge. This was taken a few hours after we arrived following an all-night flight. I practically dragged my poor DH out of a much-needed catnip and down to the bridge. But, I did get my kiss! (Please excuse DH for looking quite sleepy.)

I felt very feminine showing DH around the city of romance!

PS: I am very shy of showing pictures of myself or family on the net, so this may be your one and only chance to see what my wonderful DH looks like!

Be sure to visit the Barefoot Mama for more feminine inspiration.