Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Healthy Substitutions

After visiting this website, I collected some useful tips on how make what you eat a little more nutritious…

  • Use fat-free or low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream in recipes and as a topping.
  • Try salsa or fruit chutney on meat, fish, or poultry instead of sauces and gravies.
  • Substitute air popped popcorn for another snack.
  • Use fat-free or low-fat milk instead of water in your oatmeal and hot cereals.
  • Top a baked potato with fat-free or low-fat yogurt. For dessert, make pudding with fat-free or low-fat milk.
  • Use vinegar and oil or a light vinaigrette on salads instead of thick, creamy salad dressing.
  • Use vegetable oils for cooking instead of solid fats like stick margarine, lard, or butter.
  • Try chopped fruit or pureed berries on pancakes and waffles instead of butter and syrup.
  • Use sliced bananas, berries, raisins, or diced fruits to sweeten breakfast cereals or yogurt.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bad Plastics

Responding to the increasing concern over polycarbonate, my husband and I nostalgically said “good-bye” to our old Nalgene bottles. We ordered new, safe water bottles yesterday. Some helpful information on the subject is available here and here.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Retractable, Indoor Clothesline

When I saw this post on the Apartment Therapy blog, I immediately became interested in finding a retractable, indoor clothesline. The apparatus has a strong nylon cord with a button that pulls out of the housing unit and can be pulled across and attached to a plate on the opposite side. The cord tension is strong enough to hang heavy, wet clothes. It is perfect to use in a shower.

Apartment Therapy provided a list of some nice options, priced around twenty or thirty dollars. However, I was very excited when I stumbled upon one at my local grocery store the other day that cost only five dollars! I happily bought it, and I am very excited to begin using my indoor clothesline. This will be a great way to save on our electric bill, and if the five dollar version doesn’t work well enough, I can always upgrade.

Images from Apartment Therapy

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Piggy Banks and God’s Abundance

When flipping though a magazine yesterday, I came across a good article by Susan Taylor entitled, “Piggy Banks and God’s Abundance.” She discusses helping your children to have a good and biblical understanding of money. She writes,

“We have learned to be honest with our children about money. When I’m saying no to a request to purchase something or go somewhere, I almost never say, ‘We can’t afford that,’ because that is rarely true. We can afford most anything we want or have to do. But that’s not the main criterion for making and modeling financial decisions. I don’t want them to think we’re poor. I want them to understand that as children of God, we’re inexpressibly rich…So instead I say, “We’re choosing not to spend our money that way” (Sojourners, May 2008, page 40).

What an important distinction to make, especially for children. In addition to teaching them about our richness in Christ, it teaches them that we don’t make financial decisions merely upon how much money we have in our pockets. Moreover, it teaches them that although we might be able to afford something, it might not be wise to buy it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Gum, Geckos, and God

Gum, Geckos, and God: A Family’s Adventure in Space, Time, and Faith. If the title itself doesn’t make you want to read James Spiegel’s book, the first chapter certainly will. Here is an excerpt from the publisher’s description of the book:

“James Spiegel never realized what challenges and adventures he would face in talking about God with his own children. In a book that is witty, warm, and profound, he explains complex issues of the Christian faith in terms that his children can understand and accept…As you read, you’ll step into a new depth of Christian doctrine as you come to know and enjoy the Spiegel family and follow their journey of spiritual growth. Here is a uniquely incisive look into the most complex issues of faith in a way that’s absorbing, engaging, and highly personal.”

My husband and I devoured this book in only four days! It was a wonderful read—funny, thought-provoking, and challenging, and we strongly recommend it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

An In Utero Tale

Recently I attended a baby shower honoring a friend who is pregnant with her second girl. She received lots of darling gifts, but one gift in particular was especially cute. It was a book entitled, Ma! There’s Nothing to Do Here! by Barbara Park. The book is written from the perspective of an unborn baby who laments over the lack of activities in the womb. The illustrations by Viviana Garofoli are wonderful. It was a perfect gift for my friend because she can read it to her little daughter. What a helpful and humorous way to prepare a child for the arrival of their new baby brother or sister!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Hosting Overnight Houseguests

The May issue of Martha Stewart Living contains a good idea for graciously arranging a bedroom for your overnight guest. Martha says, “Choose a vessel, such as a vase or a large julep cup, that is deep enough to accommodate a small bottle and ice. Place a saucer underneath to collect the condensation and protect the surface of the table” (May 2008).

Image via Martha

After poking around Martha’s website some more, I also stumbled upon another idea. She recommends that you keep a set of guest towels in a closet at all times, bound with twill tape or ribbon. Then when visitors arrive, it is easy to transfer the stack of towels from the linen closet to the guest bedroom.

Image via Martha

Similarly, a little while ago Apartment Therapy highlighted some additional ideas for hosting houseguests found in House Beautiful. Here are some of my favorite tips:

  • Keep a current magazines on-hand in one drawer of the nightstand, but be sure to keep another drawer empty for your guest’s own belongings.
  • Provide guests with an alarm clock.
  • Make guests feel at home, but don't clutter up surfaces. Every item you leave out on the table should be useful.
  • Flowers are a lovely addition to the nightstand, but just a few stems are enough
  • Provide a lamp.
  • A cozy finishing touch: a small plate of cookies for a midnight snack.

Spontaneous Hospitality

I really enjoyed this blog post by Lydia Brownback on hospitality. The post offers a lot of useful tips for practicing hospitality. Also, it makes a helpful distinction between calculated hospitality and spontaneous hospitality. Lydia describes a woman she knows who always has a pan of lasagna in the freezer so she can be spontaneously hospitable at any given time.

I like that idea. When I saw this month’s issue of Real Simple, I thought the Rosemary Chicken with Zucchini was a good recipe for this purpose. The meal can be made and frozen for up to three months, and doesn’t take too long to cook. This would be a perfect dish to keep sitting in the freezer for an unplanned moment that calls for hospitality. Oh, the clever art of planning ahead for unplanned occasions!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Families Worshiping Together

I recently read a good article in Touchstone Magazine by Christopher Hall called, “Baby Pew Sitters: The Disservice of Children’s Church.” He makes a strong case against the notion of children’s church. He writes,

“…Members of the Body of Christ are uniquely gathered at Sunday worship, and children’s church and nurseries remove the children from the Body at the precise place and time the Body gathers as the Body. Do we want children’s church to rupture that union at the one place during the week, or even in this world, where the Body is brought together?”

The article reminds me of Noel Piper’s book, Treasuring God in Our Traditions. In the appendix, which she co-writes with her husband, she argues that one of the most important aspects of teaching children to worship God is for children to see their parents worshiping God. She even offers practical advice on how to help your kids to be a part of the worship service. A free PDF of the entire book is actually available here, although I always prefer things as hard copies!

Pretty Aprons

I’ve been eyeing aprons lately. I don’t own one, and some of the darling choices offered by Etsy sellers are hard to resist! Here are some of the ones I like:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Learning Patience

I get really discouraged when I go to the grocery store and see already-grown spices and vegetables that are ready to be purchased and planted by an aspiring gardener like me. They are very tempting.

As for my vegetables and spices, they seem like they have a really long way to go...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Life's Rhythms

Touchstone Magazine recently featured a lovely little article by Jessica Snell entitled, “The Feast Goes On." While searching for the online version of this article, I stumbled upon Jessica's blog. I haven’t had the time to peruse the archives yet, but I certainly appreciate her blog’s title: “Homemaking through the Church Year.”

Jessica’s Touchstone article has a similar theme to that of her blog. In the article she writes:
"The changing of the seasons gives a rhythm and meaning to even the prosaic task of getting dinner on the table every night. Snap peas in the garden in spring become a reminder that Christ is risen, and risen indeed. And as my children are present with me while I do all of this kitchen and garden work, I can tell them why we are cooking what we are cooking that day, and so preparing meals becomes a chance to talk with them about Jesus" (Touchstone Magazine, May 2008, page 12).

The rhythms of everyday life remind us of the great rhythm in which we participate, and its Orchestrator, the Lord.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Vision and Foresight

This plaque is displayed next to The Senator, the tallest Cypress tree in the United States. My husband and I loved our visit to The Senator. The tree is beautiful—it is 118 feet tall and 35.4 feet in circumference. The words on this plaque read, “The National Arborist Association recognizes this tree and commends those who had the vision and the foresight to preserve it.”

I find these words moving because a preserving vision and foresight is something that our culture lacks. This applies to preserving something in nature, but even more tragically, it applies to preserving less tangible things. A family heritage. A good reputation. A marriage. All of these are things that must be preserved, and preservation always requires vision and foresight. It means living less for the thrill of the moment and more with a long-term end in sight. It requires both good reason and a good imagination in order to draw conclusions about how the things we do now will affect the outcome later.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The First Post

To write the first post on a blog feels a lot like writing on the first page of a new journal. Stressful. Nerve-racking. Yes, I am starting a blog. I am glad that the first post is now behind me.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...