Saturday, February 28, 2015

Getting It All Done With a Little Fun

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters..."... Colossians 3:23


My buddy, Dolores, asked how I keep up with housework. I've been a bit of a slouch lately (being on winter vacation, shall we say...), but I have kept the house straightened.

While sitting around like a slug, one doesn't want to gaze for hours at piles of clutter, right?  :)

So here are some ideas and you need not only associate them with housekeeping. Go broader, ok? These can help anyone do anything.

First idea: Mix it up. Ruts can, if not kill you, kill your creativity, enjoyment and your 'want to'.

Some days I do my housework/blogging/whatever during tv commercials. I'll watch a couple favorite shows, pop up from the couch during their ads and quickly peck away at tasks like loading the dishwasher, sweeping the kitchen, feeding the cats, gathering clothes for laundry etc., (such an endless list, indeed). If my program has no commercials, I pause it every few minutes.

(This also works when you pause between chapters of books. Been there, done that a zillion times.)

When it comes to ironing or clipping coupons, I do those during tv shows and I pay bills while listening to terrific radio retro-tunes.

Some mornings, I set a timer for ten minutes and play Beat The Clock while playing music. Often I can straighten our tiny house in that short time, but even if I can't, it's fun to try.

If I complete a task, especially a procrastinated one, I reward myself with extra reading or computer or playing outside time. Or, ok, a snack and a tv show.  :) (Fill in the blank your favorite reward _____.)

I keep a list on the refrigerator for tasks which need to be done and find pleasure in crossing them off. Other days I just tear off a tiny piece to write down what must be done that day (or else!) and set it in the middle of the counter. (The refrigerator list is always crazy-long and easy to ignore.)

Occasionally I keep a typed-up Monday-through-Sunday list of chores and some ideas for fun and creativity, spreading tasks evenly. My favorite thing about this is, when Friday comes along, I can grab this list and quickly run around so to complete unfinished chores.

Lists. A homemaker's best friend. Also, I spend lots of time asking myself, "How can I make my job easier around here?" I often look for short-cuts to housework online and in old-fashioned homemaking books.

Quoting the verse, above, greatly helps. So does (especially as one grows older) repeating, "I can do this. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." And carrying God's presence while doing whatever we must do. This changes everything.

Learning to receive Grace for doing everything--that's huge. God's mercy is new every morning, as well as His measures of creativity, inspiration and the will to make each month/year/decade unique and rut-free.

At least, that's what I believe.


Still need some inspiration for keeping house? This blog might help. But oh, there are a ton of others out there, as well!


Wondering about Tom over in South Africa? He's doing fine. Mostly. A water line did break in the ceiling outside of the bathroom he shares with a roommate and while they (and others) cleared the water, he strained his back a bit. He moved in with someone else, but will probably return to his room today.

We do chat over Skype daily, but we're unable to use the see-the-other-person feature because his signal over there is weak. Oh well. At least we do get to talk each day, even for a few minutes.


Free Kindle books:

The Christmas Sisters

Out of the Storm

Christian Marriage 101

Thursday, February 26, 2015

For Lovers of Houses. And Peace.

"Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive."   ... Colossians 3:13


Netflix.  The greatest thing since chocolate cake.  

This morning at Netflix I discovered The Brian Boitano Project. You haven't seen it yet? It's about this:

"On a recent vacation to the old country, Olympic figure skater Brian Boitano discovered his Italian family, and the town his relatives migrated from. He also discovered, and ultimately purchased an old family home in desperate need of repair. Now Brian is taking it upon himself to totally renovate the home as a summer villa for family and friends to enjoy, and we are there for the journey!"

But here's the thing: After purchasing the crumbling, centuries' old family home with all its (awesome) antique tables, beds, chairs and a cast-iron stove, Brian takes two of his little-old-lady cousins through the house and they share old family stories with him.

Then while he spends a month in the States, those 'sweet little old ladies' secretly sell all of Brian's furniture. They emptied the entire house, well, except for the basement junk.

Oh. My. Goodness. Brian returns, discovers what they've done and is shocked. But within hours he decides to let it go. To say nothing to the women and to not reclaim the furniture since by now, it has the negativity of this situation attached to it, anyway.


Me? I'd have gone and pounded on those women's door. "How could you?" I would have puffed. "The house was mine, the furniture was mine. Get it back. Get it all back. Now."  And then been known as one of those insane, selfish Americans, thus alienating me from the group of Italian relatives I'd just met.

Obviously, Brian Boitano is a better man than I am.  :)

Anyway, I'm so enjoying watching Brian, his crew and his nieces restore this lovely old Italian villa. And I'm learning about forgiveness by viewing an example in action, something of which we can never see too much.


"But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. "If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. "Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two."   ...Matthew 5:39-41


Here are some other stories of houses I thought you might like:

Restoration of a French Chateau.

Living Happily in 90 Square Feet

Ten Tiny Dwellings


Free Kindle books:

Preppers' Garden Food Production

Natural Cleaning Solutions

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Are You 'Saying So'?

I graduated from high school in Chester, CA and it's been 27 years since I lived there, but you know what I still enjoy doing? Every few weeks I read the obituaries from Chester's newspaper online.

There's just something about a good obituary, even if you didn't know the person, as in the case of this woman whose obit, today, I found touching: 

"Marcie’s personal life was defined by her unconditional love for and devotion to her husband Bob, who sadly preceded her in death by four years. They were deeply in love throughout their 62 year marriage and relished their final years together in Graeagle.

Marcie’s dynamic spirit and vitality will be greatly missed. She will be remembered for many things by many people: her inspirational strength, her steadfast work ethic, her patriotism and her commitment to serve her country and her community. Marcie wanted no memorial service — she asked only of her family that they “remember me” after her passing, and to this we reply: “Mom/Grandma/Great Grandma – with the impact that you have had on shaping our moral and ethical compasses, how could we possibly forget you?”

But it surprises me how often I recognize the family name of kids with whom I attended high school. The past few years, many have lost a parent (as I have) and sometimes, even a brother or sister. And something I like to do? When possible, I try to contact those classmates, even if they might not remember me, and express my condolences.

I think that's an important thing, speaking or writing our compassionate thoughts. Here online, also, when any of us run across bloggers or others who have lost someone or even a dearly-loved pet.

Here's a verse which nudges me to do that, though it's one of those verses which people truly need to yank outside of the box we've often stuffed it into:

"Let the redeemed of the Lord say so."   ...Psalm 107:2

To me? That verse means way more than just admitting we are Christians and our gratitude for such. I believe it instructs us to also speak out our condolences, our thank-you's, our encouragement to the depressed, our compliments, love, appreciation and so much more.

Basically, we should live ready to speak as Jesus would if He was standing here, visibly, amongst us. And to say unto others what we'd appreciate them saying to us.

Often I ask myself, "Are you, a redeemed one, saying so?" And usually I answer, "Oh dear. Sometimes yes. Sometimes no."

My aim is to someday be able to say, "Always, yes!"


"Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body."   ...Proverbs 16:24

"If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them."   ... James 4:17

"Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person."   ... Colossians 4:6


This weekend we are due for temperatures above freezing for the first time since January(!) Be still my heart, and look-out supermarket and Dollar Tree, here I come! :)


Free Kindle books:

Where Wildflowers Bloom

The Homecoming

Mail Order Brides

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The View From The Supermarket--And Beyond.

Being in deepest, laziest hibernation (heh), today I'll just share this original post from three years ago, yesterday.


"...if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing."   ... 1 Corinthians 13:2

Well, let's see... In my last comment box, Becky asked what the book, It's Bright In My Valley was about since no one at had reviewed it (people seldom review my favorite books because they're too quirky, old and forgotten. The books, not the people. ha!)

Anyway, this is how I described that book:

"It's rather like Gulley's, Front Porch Tales, except that it was written around 1961.

Philip Jerome Cleveland wrote essays about his days as a young pastor and the memorable characters he met in the New England towns where he pastored in the 1930's and 40's. He led some of them to Jesus, not all, but each person was interesting, quirky, and what others would label as People Least Likely To Step Inside a Church.

He learned to treat all types of people with respect, patience, and to find common outside-interest denominators which helped him form friendships with them, first.

True stories, all, I never tire of reading them!"

I'm glad Becky asked about It's Bright In My Valley because it always reminds me how we can tell we're maturing in God: our own community starts looking different to us.


Well, consider the supermarket. We're still immature in God, in love, when we spy the mom with a screaming baby in her cart and two little boys racing down the aisles and we think, "Gah! Why are there so many lousy moms who refuse to discipline their spoiled brats  children every time I go out to shop?"

Or everyone we pass in the aisles is talking into a cell phone, perhaps blocking our way, oblivious to us (me, me, me) and we glare and think, "Cell phones everywhere! Can't anyone stand to be alone for even ten minutes anymore?"

Or every check-stand has a long line and the one we choose (of course) takes the l-o-n-g-e-s-t to get through because the clerk is painfully slow and everybody and his Aunt Jane uses a fistful of coupons and we feel like groaning because they're making us (me, me, me) late for our own Very Important Next Thing.

Want your town to instantly change? Ask God to change you, to grow you up in love. Trust me, I know about this one because when we change, the mom in the supermarket will, instead, appear like a tired woman who truly needs a bit of our help or an encouraging remark.

And all those cell phone folks suddenly look like sad people afraid to be alone for even a moment or perhaps young husbands who just want to bring home the correct items for their wives at home all day with toddlers.

And those slowpokes in check-stand lines become our fellow brothers and sisters for whom Jesus died (and for whom we can pray) and the coupon users become people struggling financially, just trying to save some money for their families and the slow clerk becomes someone who's grateful for her new job and doing the best she can lest she lose it.

God sent Jesus to this planet because of love, not condemnation, and when we get on that same page we, also, get sent out into our world because of love minus the condemnation. And the whole world changes with our going.


“Why is patience so important?"
"Because it makes us pay attention.” 
― Paulo Coelho

"Let all that you do be done in love."  ... 1 Corinthians 16:14

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."  ... John 3:16,17


I'm currently watching Restaurant Impossible by way of Netflix and what a delight! How clearly one can see the difference between pride (disaster and ruin) and humility (success and happiness). Great show.


Free Kindle books:

Once Upon a Summer

Garden Box Set

Bigger Than Impossible

Friday, February 20, 2015

I'm Expecting Dancing. You?

Daniel likes to play Day At The Beach there upon our table. He certainly has the right idea.

Me? When I'm not sitting beside him reading in our (blessedly frequent) sunshine, I'm watching shows like: 

Bargain Beach House Hunt
No Reservations (when Anthony visits sunny, exotic locations)
Hawaii Five-O
Tiny House Hunt (especially when they're searching for vacation homes)

You've got to know what saves your sanity and just do that. Even if--to other people--it appears like you're wasting time.

You may quote me.


Here in Buffalo we're breaking winter weather records lately which certainly says much, considering.

Oh, how we'll all splash around giddily in Springtime! If I behold more dancing in the streets (and here) than I already do, I'll not widen my eyes a bit. I'm expecting delight.

"Be it unto you even as you have believed." 

What are you anticipating in the months ahead? Sweet or sour? Gladness or sadness?

Sometimes it's good to pause and ask ourselves such questions.

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."

[Meditations Divine and Moral]” 
― Anne BradstreetThe Works of Anne Bradstreet


"A person's steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?"   ...Proverbs 20:24

...(so why do we expect other people to understand us? Hmm?)


Free Kindle book:

The Lutheran Ladies' Circle

Thursday, February 19, 2015

'I Can Smile At The Old Days'

"Do not say, "Why were the old days better than these?" For it is not wise to ask such questions."   ... Ecclesiastes 7:10


Each day since Tom went away I've stepped out through the snowy pathway to the garage, swung up the large door, then gotten into the car to warm it up for five minutes, lest the battery die as many peoples' have during these long strings of frigid days.

Funny how five minutes can sometimes feel like thirty.

Anyway, I always play the car radio while I wait (if that defeats the purpose of charging the battery, don't tell me.  It could snatch away away my 'raison d'etre' when it's, like, 2 degrees out there.). And today, guess what? Barry Manilow sang to me my most favorite of his songs--Memory.

Now, that's the type of song which can pull tears from my eyes while I'm pushing a shopping cart around aisles, say, at Target. That sappy sentimental-sounding stuff can turn my heart to warm mush as it parades the sweetest, long ago memories of Tom and Naomi (especially). And if, like now, they're both far away from me? I've been known to return said shopping cart, leave the store, and return to the car to pull myself together. Or to just drive home.

But on this sunny, frigid afternoon out there in the car while Tom's in South Africa and Naomi's in Tennessee? I simply did what Barry said he can now do: 

I smiled at the old days. 

I just smiled and felt grateful that I'd had those delicious times, that they'd been mine. There were no tears, no hot lump inside my throat, no wishing I could go back, but only great peace.

And I thought, "This feels like being healed. Like I love my present life as much as the past one. Like, as the song ends, "A new day has begun."

Behold! God really does make all things new, even for stubborn women who finally give in and let God have His way.

Then I turned the key and ran through the snow and 4 degrees back inside to where all is warm and golden--and different--from long ago. But where the walls pulsate with the peace of God and Grace and I am never, ever alone.


"You have turned my mourning into dancing for me; You have put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness..."...Psalm 30:11

(Don't you just love that verse to pieces? It's been a favorite of mine ever since we used to sing the song with those words 30 years ago.)

 "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak."  ... Isaiah 40:29


Just a few miles down the street of my frozen world-- Niagara Falls:

                  Springtime.... it will come again, right? Right?  :)


Free Kindle books:

The Happiest Season

Camping Recipes

Abound in Love

A Sugar Creek Amish Romance


Forgot to mention.... Tom is finally feeling much better. Thanks so much for your prayers!

Monday, February 16, 2015

So Here At Hobbit Cottage ...

(See all the snow outside?)

"(Do not) grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer."   ... 1 Corinthians 10:10


Oh the sun! But still, it's 1:00 in the afternoon and only -1 degree and remember in The Long Winter where the elderly Indian man warns the settlers that every 21 years the winter gets really, really bad? Well, where was he this year? Buffalo could have used his warning around October.

Or maybe I should have figured it out myself, since it's been around 21 years since I last recall these kinds of cold temps which will not go away. Or because, hey, Buffalo winters always feel rough and I should certainly be mentally and emotionally prepared for them by now. (If you've never lived in serious snow country, you do not understand what it's like. No really, you don't.)  :)

But why complain? Sunshine pours through my windows and I have actual flames in our fireplace, for I finally became brave enough to burn the gel cans. I can watch travel shows on Netflix like Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations *** as he walks and sails through lands where grasses and trees are actually green. 

We've not seen anything green-green outside our windows since November.

Have you ever watched (by way of Netflix), Off Limits? The host explores old places where the public is not welcome and oh, the Buffalo episode! Want to know some reasons I love living here? Watch that one. I lived in California and Nevada for 34 years and never remember seeing ancient (relatively) architecture like that, yet I've driven past those places shown in Off Limits a hundred times. Is it 'old hat' to me? Never. No, never do I tire of those buildings which survive winter after harsh winter and come out standing, strong. (There's a lesson in that, also.)

Anyway. I have groceries in my cupboards, enough cat food to adopt another one, heat, books, electricity, tv shows, hot water, warm clothes, an imagination and helpful neighbors.

Why complain about what I don't have? About it being too cold to drive down to the supermarket? Or that Tom's a million miles away in a place where it's 100 degrees warmer? I believe complaining about anything makes God sigh and wonder when we're gonna 'get it.' When we'll finally understand where to put the emphasis in Life and how to use our words His way.

And trust me, each Winter shows me I still have a ways to go. But at least I'm farther along than I used to be, thank God (literally), and much happier now, as well. Watching your words carefully will do that for you.


"If you have time to whine and complain about something then you have the time to do something about it."
  ~Anthony J. D'Angelo, The College Blue Book

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits."  ...Proverbs 18:21

"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."   ... Ephesians 4:29


*** Now, good ol' Anthony's language can get dicey, I'll warn you. If I knew him in-person, I'd squirm a lot because there'd be no beep to drown out the naughty words. But for whatever reasons (his well-written narrations being one), the guy and his series' fascinate me. 


I LOVE watching people who thoroughly enjoy their jobs. Here's a quickie video of one of those guys which totally delighted me early this cold, dark, -8 degree morning.


Tom's still not feeling quite well. Your continued prayers would be appreciated, especially since he has a presentation to give to students tomorrow. Thanks so much!


Free Kindle books:

The Nehemiah Effect

Productivity Unleashed

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Love vs. Glitter Hate Mail

"But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..."   ...Matthew 5:44


Speaking of sending Valentine's (yesterday's post), awhile ago did you read about the Australian-based company which began selling envelopes of glitter for you to send anonymously to your enemies (or 'frenemies')?

Eegads. Seems lots of people hate lots of other people, for the company immediately became swamped with orders. Within days, the creator got sick of the whole thing and put his business up for sale.

Turns out, he wasn't even the first with this idea--another older company says they'll gladly accept your orders to send glitter hate mail and no way are they gonna stop providing such a lucrative service. They're prepared for millions of orders if necessary.

Good grief. Yet one more sign of the times.

And you know? This, below, is partly why I'll keep sending friendly Valentines each year:

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

Whenever we do the good which God asks of us, we--even unknowingly-- stop a sort of Evil Gate from opening wide, all the way. It's as though we help keep it, if not shut, then partially-closed a bit longer, holding back the full force from escaping.

But only if we do our God-given part.

Whatever He asks us to do is important, vital and meaningful in the grand scheme of Life. And we won't even realize the full importance until we reach Heaven, thus, we keep walking by obedience rather than feelings. By faith rather than sight.

At least, that's how I see it.


Our Buffalo weather outlook this week. Oh dear! 

Color me thankful that I took my own advice and stocked-up on groceries, for who knows when I'll get over to the supermarket. And color me especially grateful that both Target and WalMart deliver canned cat food right to my pretty red door!  :)

A typical late afternoon, below. Sometimes I close the curtains early because I just can't bear to look anymore. heh.


Uh-oh! I just now heard from Tom that he was up sick all night and still isn't well today. Whenever I ask you all to pray with me, miracles seem to happen, so if you'd pray for Tom this time, we would both appreciate it much! Thank-you...


Free Kindle books:


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day To All My Readers

"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness."   ... Jeremiah 31:3


Happy Valentine's Day!

I hope you experienced the fun of being ten-years-old again and sitting at a table with Valentines spread before you and a pen and stickers and--.  

I did. At our dining room table I filled out my Valentines the day after Tom left for S. Africa. And yes, Tom's not here, not even on this Continent for Valentine's Day. But it's ok. Jesus is here. 

And Tom sent me flowers.  

I spent lots of (wasted) days complaining when Tom worked holidays, but one year I got sick of all that complaining and decided to stop. To make the best of the day, alone. And that has made all the difference, for only then could God bless me this fully. Only when I emptied the garbage of complaints.

Did you see the KMart tv commercial where the young man prepares Valentine's Day gifts for his grandmother then surprises her in the kitchen when she arrives home? 

Loved that. It reaffirmed what I've blogged here many times: February 14th should be a day to let anyone know you appreciate what they bring to your life.

So to all my special friends, may your Valentine's Day be happy and may you know Wondrous Love. 


Yes, so Tom isn't here for Valentine's Day and he'll also be gone on President's Day, St. Patrick's Day and Easter.

Oh yeah ... and my birthday. Alas.

But you know? I'm already planning that my birthday will be wonderful. How can I know that? Because even if I spend it alone at home, surrounded by what looks like the North Pole (as it does now and isn't looking like it'll change by mid-March)--still--God and Grace will be here.

And they make any ordinary day, extraordinary.

I count on them more than anyone else upon this planet and they never disappoint me. And with them, I am never, ever alone. Not even for one tiny second, so all shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.

God and Grace and Julian of Norwich and I all agree upon that.   :)


"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” ...   Deuteronomy 31:6

Love is a symbol of eternity. It wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end. ~Author Unknown


Free Kindle book:

Journey on the Hard Side of Miracles

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday Fun

"Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" ...Matthew 6:26


Of course, Nicole Curtis created another makes-me-wild-with-envy kitchen last night on Rehab Addict. Oh, those marble countertops! Be still my tired-of-my-brown-whatever ones.

And oh, the temptation to, while considering the cost of installing marble at Hobbit Cottage, to do what this woman did, using only marble contact paper:

(Love this!)

But no, I'm not brave enough to try. And besides, Tom majorly cringed at the whole idea.

So we wait until we can make up our minds to take the plunge and install the real thing. Someday. Maybe.


Some of you may remember my post about how it grieves me for days when I read that elderly couples died of heat stroke in their homes because they refused to buy an air-conditioner due to the cost of running one. 

It's a huge tragedy, I believe, whenever we can't trust God for enough money to keep us alive.

Well, lately He's reminded me of all those stories, especially when I hesitate to turn up our thermostat on these cold, cold days (it's -3 degrees F. outside right now. Sigh.). Too many times I've 'come to myself' (like the prodigal son, maybe?) while buried beneath two blankets on the couch and wearing two sweaters, looking around me at the housework left undone because it's too cold to get up blanket-less to do it.

I've wondered (a few times, old penny-pinching habits dying hard), what am I doing? "Turn up the heat, even to 68 if you want," God usually reminds me. "The same way that I provide money to run the air-conditioner, I'll provide for the heater. It's not a needless expense and you are worth being comfortably warm."

Someday, some year, He won't need to remind me that there's being a good steward, yes, but there's also being a penny-pincher-gone-too-far-over-into-fear-of-lack-and-lack-of-true-trust-and-believing-one-is-worthy.


Anyway.  It works for candles, too, I'm finding:

See, for some weeks now--just before Tom arrived home from work--I would light three votives in long-stemmed glasses in our new fireplace. They'd cast a cozy glow while we watched tv together into the night and made the fireplace feel even more remarkable. (I think I will always need a fireplace, even a 'fake' one. It seems part of who I am.)

Well, now that Tom's away on business, God's been nudging me to believe this: "You are worth burning candles. Even alone."

And penny-pinching me is thinking, yes, I am. I would tell that to any of you and so honestly, I need to truly believe those words, myself, especially when I'm thinking they originally came from God, the one who 'owns cattle on a thousand hills', knows us better than we know ourselves, and has promised to provide for our needs.

And I'm thinking I need candles glowing in a fireplace.  :)


Taken yesterday, part of my backyard, my 'hood, my frozen world...


"And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus."  ...Philippians 4:19


Yesterday I watched Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I don't even, generally, like this type of film, but oh my goodness. What a wonderful movie! Tons of humor, lots of sentimentality--my favorite combo.

Highly recommended. (I may even watch it again tomorrow.)


Free Kindle books:

On Which Side of the Road Do The Flowers Grow?

The Discovery

The Candle Star


Check out this weekend's freebie from SavingStar...