Friday, January 29, 2010

What's on Top?

In her blog my friend Aggi talked about what's on top of her kitchen cabinets. She also asked us to share what's on top of our kitchen cabinets. So here's mine. A collection of reproduction glassware (mostly bottles), with a framed postcard of Edinburgh castle in the corner. And I have teapots, anchored with a copper tray and a philodendron, displayed on top of the cabinets on the other side (but the photos didn't come out so you'll have to take my word for it).

I also display stuff on the top of tall bookshelves.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

One Foot Stool

Want to make a foot stool with me?
Here's what we need: A scrap of leftover pine board (mine's about 10 inches of a 1x12 board).
Four curtain rod finials (these will be our legs -- they're about 5 inches long).
A big hunk of leftover quilt batting (I didn't measure how much).
Upholstery weight fabric (everyone has a closet full of random fabrics, right?).
Paint, sandpaper, staple gun, staples, pencil, ruler, and a drill (for pilot holes).
After sanding the edges of the board smooth to avoid snags and splinters, mark the position of the four pilot holes. For this size stool and this size "leg" I decided to go 1 1/2 inches in from the edge. Be careful not to drill in too far -- we don't want to go through the board -- then sand the holes, just to keep everything smooth.
Place a piece of fabric (larger than your board) right side down on the floor. Fold up the hunk of quilt batting (to be the same size as the board) and place it in the center of the fabric, with the board on top hole side up.
Folding the raw edges under, pull the fabric up and staple it to the board. Begin at the center on one side, pull tight and staple the opposite side. Then staple the two alternate sides, leaving the corners for last.
Trim the excess fabric away from the corners.
Fold and tuck the corners, and staple down. Be sure to leave the pilot holes visible.
Paint the curtain rod finials to a coordinating color.
Once the paint dries, screw the four finials into the four pilot holes to make the legs. Flip over and...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

There's a knot in the rope.

My family has always had a no-holds-barred, cut-to-the-chase, tell-it-as-it-is, and no lingering resentment approach to honesty. We're brutal. "Here's how it is. Accept it and move forward." Give or take -- it's how we communicate.

Talking with my sister today after church I realized the strangeness of this. There are a lot of people who handle the honesty -- even small truths -- with kid gloves. Who hide their opinions in a fog of politeness so thick you're not even sure they have an opinion.

When situations arise where there is disagreement or conflict some people even choose to walk away rather than say anything. (Mind you, there are times when that is the wiser course -- but not always).

I think there are maybe three basic approaches... There's a knot in the rope. A problem.

One person will say "What rope?" And walk away without doing anything.

Another person says "Hey, look a knot. Let's pick at this knot, and finesse it, and try to see if it will come untied." It may take days, and they might curse a bit, and sometimes they untie it but sometimes they just make a bigger knot.

Then a third sort of person says "We could just cut the rope."

And my family? We're the ones asking "Hey, isn't that a machete?" Whack. "What's next?"

Monday, January 18, 2010

Freedom of Speech

There are times that honesty is not appreciated.

There are times when being truthful and open just makes people angry.

There are times when speaking up is the same thing as shooting yourself in the foot.

I am having one of those time.

Friday, January 15, 2010

January Sunset

Deep pewter the clouds hang heavy over the western sky. The setting sun transforms this solemness with a punctuated and gleaming shades of intensity, pink flames, orange rose petals, the opaque neon of stained glass where there is no glass.

Dimming light, the gloaming, settles on the day and evening approaches. A warmer evening that we have had in a while. The air is soft with it and it is pleasant to walk in the glow of the setting sun.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


With some recipes there are leftovers. For me, fillings tend to be one of those recipes -- which explains why I've had a bowl of pine nuts, basil, and several cheeses sitting in my fridge for a while now.
So, with a little turkey and some rye bread, today's lunch used up leftovers in a fancy open-face toasted sandwich. I think it turned out quite pretty.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dear Friends

Today I am in rebellion.
Today I began hitting "hide" "ignore" and "remove from feed" on my facebook page.

It began this morning when I thought "Hmmm... I haven't heard from X in a while I wonder what she's up to."
I went to this real-life friend's facebook "wall" and discovered that last month she suffered a great loss. While her facebook status updates urgently requested prayers I would have loved to pray for her I was busy slogging through a trillion notices of how much someone I don't really know likes the post of someone else, or friended someone I've never heard of, or became a fan of something I don't care for...

I missed it. I missed being there for her when she needed support from her friends. I was distracted by the hyper-busyness that is social networking.

I joined facebook originally to stay connected with friends -- meaning people I have actually met face-to-real-face -- not my friend's friend's brother-in-law's cousin's friends. I'm sure they are great people but there are not enough hours in the day to care about what each of these people are cooking or not cooking for dinner, the latest sagas about their pets, and their digital versions of endless vacation photo slideshows.

I just can't handle it. I just can't care that much about that many people. I don't know how God does it -- loving each of us enough to have (to maintain) a personal relationship with all of us. Yet He does. More proof of how Big and Wonderful and Infinite God is... that He can love each and every of us so deeply and so personally and so consistently.

I find 100 extra facebook friends overwhelming.

Monday, January 11, 2010

"Your Free Gift"

The promotional letter came addressed to me. Congratulations, I had been chosen to receive a free lamp. All I had to do was show up at the furniture store and claim my lamp. Only I never did.

A gift only becomes ours when we claim it, when we open and unwrap it, when we make it ours. If we leave the gift in the box and never use it, if we never claim the free lamp, if we never accept Salvation through Christ then we never make the gift our own.

Reading the Bible we realize -- God sends each of us an invitation to receive the free gift of Salvation, all we need to do is claim it. That's way better than a lamp.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

"I know of no greater challenge than to simply be who you really are. Most of us struggle with that because we don’t feel very good about who we are. I know I struggle with it and have struggled with it in some ways all my life. It’s so easy to get down on yourself and think, “You ought to be a better person” or “You’re not a very good Christian” or “What if people knew the real you?” And there is truth in all those statements. But if being yourself is not enough, faking it won’t get you anywhere. Most people can spot a phony a mile away."
-- from

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


The flurries today came while the sun shone, and for a while the world looked like a sparkle filled snow globe. Bright spots of cold swirling and swishing beyond the glass of my window. It had a magic to it that lifted me to a place at once filled with the hope of days to come and the joy of happy memories. The past and present swirling and sparkling together outside my window.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Twelve Ways I Save Money

A friend and I were talking about how hard it is to find money for things these days. Living the average consumer American lifestyle drains her pocketbook and she wondered how I manage. I wondered that too. Here's what I came up with:
  1. I never got my ears pierced. I think I probably save a lot of money by not wearing and therefore not buying much jewelry.
  2. I don't drink coffee. I've heard that Starbucks, even making your own at home, can cost $50 - $300 a month depending on the drinker. So if I want to acquire a taste for something I'm not naturally keen on I'll be trying something cheaper like cooked spinach, thanks.
  3. I also don't drink. To me a "night out on the town" just sounds like an expensive headache the next day. Saving the money sound better than Scotch ... or is saving it the same thing as Scotch? ;-)
  4. I tend not to go to the movies. It's $10 per person just to get in the door, add to that the cost of movie theater popcorn... for the same price I could pop enough popcorn at home to be swimming in the stuff as I watch a rented movie.
  5. I don't have a big screen TV. When I find a movie worth renting I watch it on a "tiny" normal sized TV. But then I also...
  6. don't have satellite or cable. I'm one of those people still devoted to broadcast and rabbit ears. It's free. I cannot imagine why anyone would pay money to view 20 minutes of commercials and 10 minutes of sitcom.
  7. I have long hair which means I don't go to the beauty shop for a $30 hair cut every month. If I get tired of long hair I chop off 10-15 inches and save a little on shampoo for a while.
  8. My cell phone is JUST a cell phone. I do not have the extra texting service, or the extra internet surfing and gaming services. Did you know this saves over $500 a year?
  9. I do not have an MP3 player or an iPod ... I still have an old stereo and it still plays all my old cds and will even tune in radio stations. Okay it's not sleek and portable... but everywhere you go they pipe in music for you -- at the mall, in the grocery store, at the gym, in the mechanics waiting room -- so I don't understand. Did we need more music in our ears?
  10. I don't eat out very often. I cook from scratch. It's easier than you think -- my simple recipe for mac and cheese begins with the instructions "Go out and milk the cow..." I'm kidding. A little effort really can save a lot of money here, though. Just last week I bought a roast the the grocery for $15, when I got it home I cut off three steaks which I put in the freezer before preparing the rest as a pot roast. At a restaurant ONE of those steaks would have been $15 and there would have been no pot roast.
  11. I recycle less than you think -- because I RE-USE. For example, my storage containers are margarine tubs, cottage cheese containers, and empty jelly jars. Run through the dishwasher the empty containers get saved and reused to store leftovers. (It's important to note these containers are generally not microwave safe so the food needs to be put on the microwave safe plate and then reheated.) Stuff like this might seem fiddly but small savings are still savings.
  12. I'm picky about parks. From history to hiking our National and State parks tend to be free. So I don't need over-priced water parks and $50-a-day-plus-rides game parks for a fun exciting day out. After all, my taxpayer dollar has already been spent, why not enjoy the benefit of it?

The ways I save money won't work for everyone. We all have our priorities. Some people feel they really need 500 songs (at $.99 each) shuffling through their state of the art earphones as they sit in the local Take- your-bucks sipping their third $5 coffee and surfing the net on their touch phone while waiting for their friends to join them so they can catch the latest $10 flick at the Money-gouging Plex before grabbing drinks with dinner at the All-of-your-money Garden.

Clearly, I don't. I'd rather knit an alpaca sweater while watching my favorite classic black-and-white movies as the warm smell of baking bread fills my home. "To each his own."

How do you save?

Friday, January 1, 2010

"I believe what really happens in history is this: the old man is always wrong; and the young people are always wrong about what is wrong with him. The practical form it takes is this: that, while the old man may stand by some stupid custom, the young man always attacks it with some theory that turns out to be equally stupid." -- G.K. Chesterton