Friday, December 30, 2011

Five Question Friday

1. What's the oldest piece of clothing in your closet?
     I have a shirt that my grandmother and sister painted for me when I was in elementary school. It has all the names of my kindergarten classmates. It's the oldest piece, but doesn't get worn (obviously).
    The oldest garment still in wear is probably something from my teenage years. I get the utmost wear from my clothing in style or not! haha. (Have I ever said how much I hate shopping, especially for clothing?)

2. How many random blog readers have you met?
    I haven't met any blog readers in person. I certainly enjoy connecting with other homemaking/Titus2 ladies online though! You guys are such an encouragement to me and I pray that my little spot of the web can be the same for you. :)
3. Do you let your kids stay up till midnight on New Years Eve? (Or, if you don't have kiddos yet, did you get to stay up until midnight as a child?)
    No kiddos currently, so I'll skip to the alternate question. I really can't recall if I stayed up for New Years as a child. I rather doubt it because my natural state is to be an 'early to bed, early to rise' sort. We'll see if I make it this year! haha.

4. What are the gas prices where you live?
I believe I saw the price at $3.11 today. Not too bad.
5. What is one resolution that you know you should do but are too afraid to try?
     I have some big dreams for Reviving Homemaking. I know that I should pour myself into this endeavor, but there remains that nagging fear of failure (or is it success?). Nonetheless, I believe wholeheartedly that God has called me to the path of home and family. He and He alone is capable of far more than I can dream. If it is His will, then He will make it happen. :)
    I should probably also exercise more, but...hahaha! Okay, that's not so much "too afraid to try" as it is too unwilling to try. Maybe next year? haha 


Saturday, December 17, 2011

What is Homemaking? Part 3

In continuation of breaking apart the definition of "homemaking" as is used on this site:

Homemaking is the art and science of creating and maintaining the home to be a pleasant and productive environment for the glory of God.

We've discussed the path to arriving at this definition in "What is Homemaking?" We've also looked a little closer at the terms "art, "science," "creating," and "maintaining" in "What is Homemaking? Part 2." Now, for the final part in which we'll look at the terms "home," "pleasant," "productive" and "glory of God."

Home: What is in a home? Would a home by any other name be as sweet? Clearly, this is a play on the famous line by Shakepeare, but the idea still applies. Is it necessary for a home to be a house? For some, a house is quickly inhabited after the wedding ceremony. For others, it's an apartment, a condo/townhome, a trailer, etc. Do these alternate residences demean the value of home created within the walls? Absolutely not! There are multiple reasons for choosing a particular housing arrangement over others. To put off transforming the environment into a loveing home while waiting for another situation is to forfeit the valuable treasure God has given you in placing you right where you are. Home is the place you and your family's heart dwells, regardless of the structure type. It may not be your ideal, but perhaps it is God's for you. The key is to embrace that notion and come to earnestly work within the means provided now.
     This blog will focus predominately on creating a home in apartment/small space living. How do we create the comforts of home in small spaces, within a budget, and with upcoming changes in mind? In other words, I focus on making the most of the space while also incorporating cost-effective design elements. This focus, however, certainly does not eliminate the potential for applicability to other housing situations!

Pleasant: Do you look forward to returning home? Is the home and family unit a pleasant place to rest and reside? What is it that creates a welcoming home? I personally feel that the key is the relationships of the individuals who reside within it. Love is an interesteing thing in that it can be felt even when not blantantly displayed. Is the heart bitter, resentful, disrespectful, unloving? I assure you these sentiments permeate the atmosphere of the home even without spoken words.
     In my viewpoint, "pleasant" can also mean aesthetics. Blank white walls are quite unpleasant on the eyes. Bare windows and bed covering leave much life to be desired in the room. Does one need to be an interior decorator or have a sizeable home decor budget to achieve visual appeal? Certainly not! There are many little simple elements that can be utilzed to add life and excitement to a space. Have pillows for the sofa? Use pillow slipcovers to add character and change the tone of the space! Even apartments will permit holes in walls for pictures. Pictures are the quickest and easiest way to add life (your story!) to the space. I love walking into homes with the pleasant faces of loved ones and times joyfully displayed!
     So, the blog will focus on pleasant in terms of heart and aesthetics.

Productive:  Did you know that one origin of teaching home ec within schools was to education women on how to be more producers than consumers? How do we get ourselves from living 'paycheck in, paycheck out?' We've got to learn how to work with our own hands to produce goods instead of constantly consuming them!
    This is probably one of my favorite explorations of homemaking because it is so multidimensional. For instance, productivity includes subjects such as "going green" and "frugality." I don't focus on that which is the "greenest" or most inexpensive because I choose to focus instead on sustainablillity and quality. I also focus on getting multiple uses out of purchases. (For instance, I can use vinegar as fabric softener in the wash, dishwasher rinse aid, hair "conditioner," all purpose cleaner, and cooking. By doing so, I just eliminated at least four individual products I would've had to be a dependent consumer of!).
     And so, the blog focuses tremendously on learning to be more productive. Being a gross consumer within the home is very counterproductive! Paycheck in, paycheck out. Furthermore, Proverbs 31 demonstrates the great potential of productivity!

Glory of God: Colossians 3:17 says, "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." How would my role in the home or in my family change if my "word or deed" was done "in the name of the Lord Jesus?" Herein lies the focal point of the blog. I can strive to my greatest ability, but if I have not done it for the Lord then I will have done it in vain. We're created to serve Him, and glorify Him with our lives. This blog focuses on doing so from the perspective of homemaking, but I in no means discount the many other modes of doing so! Regardless of the "how" the important part is the "why" and that should be answered simply- for the Lord.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Five Question Friday

1. What's the best Christmas present you've ever received?
Suitcase set. In my first years of college I had to lug my stuff in anything I could find to put it in anytime I stayed away from campus. It was embarrassing and a pain in the patoot every time. I was so grateful for a suitcase that I could pack, zip and roll!

2. Worst/Funniest White Elephant gift ever received?
In the last one I participated in I actually ended up with some useful tools (screwdriver with changable heads, etc). Being the lover of humor that I am, my White Elephant gift wasn't as nice. I opted for giving a wrapped box filled with a can of air freshner, pinto beans, and Bean-o. The next opportunity that arises for a fun White Elephant gift will likely produce a box of classic 80s Buns of Steel or other such videos. (hehe!) 

3. Is your Christmas tree plain and simple (white lights and matching ornaments) or is it wild and crazy (colored lights with lots of ornaments collected over the years)?
I love our kindergarten tree! Hubby likes white lights and I like colored, so we compromise with a strand of each. The ornament balls are brightly colored, and the other ornaments are things that have been collected throughout the years- many from my childhood. Hubby and I started a tradition a couple of years ago of getting a new ornament each year. We've got to get a move on in ordering this year's ornament!
4. "How" do you iron your clothes? The old fashioned iron/ironing board way, the shower, back in the dryer, etc.
     Well, apparently I'm so old fashioned that I didn't even realize clothes could be ironed via "the shower, back in the dryer" etc. haha. I prefer a crisp result, and so my ironing board and can of starch are always out. Ideally I like to have things ironed and ready to go when they go in the closet, however I'll confess that sometimes that process doesn't always happen.
5. How much baking do you do for Christmas and what are your "must make" items?
     I used to do a lot of baking and detailed decorating. I had even become well known for my cookies. In recent years, however, the demands of working up until the day left little energy for baking and so I got out of the swing of doing much of anything. This year I'll probably do some thumb print cookies and perhaps one other kind.  I might do more, but that will depend on how things go as it gets closer to the day itself. I love Christmas goodies, but with hubby's job as busy as it is I try to keep everything else as calm and simple as I can.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What is Homemaking? Part 2

Last week I defined "homemaking" as:
      Homemaking is the art and science of creating and maintaining the home to be a pleasant and productive environment for the glory of God.

          I've underlined certain words I felt were key to the concept and practice of this definition. These will serve as foundations for the directionality of the Reviving Homemaking blog. The following is a generalization of each term as is applied to homemaking:

Art: Many words come to mind when I consider art- expression, discipline, appreciation, skill, perspective, diligence, beauty etc etc. In her book The Hidden Art of Homemaking, Edith Schaeffer contends that art is not bound to the professional realm, but is also "found in the 'minor' areas of life. By 'minor' I mean what is involved in the 'everyday' of anyone's life" (pg. 31). Homemaking is multifaceted in it's potential for the creation of art. The objective is to simply come to see it as such. And so, just as an artist would we observe the works of others past and present within the realm of homemaking with an appreication and enthusiasm. We also diligently work to discover and develop our own canvas so that we may create something that is uniquely ours, and in that be there something beautiful. We all possess some level of artistic or creative talent. As Schaeffer says, "although your art or talent may never be accepted by the world as anything 'great', and may never be your career, it can be used to enrich your day by day life: enrich it for you, and for the people with whom you live" (pg. 48).

Science: Homemaking involves far more than the "how-to" of practice, but also the "why." Even when Home Ec was commonly taught in schools, it was done so as a science. Today, it is still being taught as a science in select universities but under a new name- Family and Consumer Science. The greatest example of use is within the kitchen. We may know how to follow a recipe, but do we know why each ingredient is important? How do we determine proper nutrition? How do we decided the best use of our financial resources? Science examines the "whys" behind the elements or actions within our home so that we may be more knowledgeable and skilled to complete the tasks further. Home Ec courses featured a lab. The home serves the same purpose for discovery. The mundane may become a little more enticing when we desire to learn the science behind it.

Creating: Proverbs 14:1 says, "The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down." The home environment will exist to some extent, but for it to flurish it must be effortfully created. This is a verb and ought to be treated as such. We are not bound to the trapping of circumstance or poor demonstrations experience previously. Within our homes we possess the ability to construct or destroy the entities of home and family. We set the tone for our home environment and even our days. God's grace is sufficient! 2 Corinthians 12:9 states, " But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." With hearts focused on serving the Lord, the home can be created to be something beautiful.

Maintaining: Again, verb! Maintaining the home environment is to anticipate and behave preventatively. Otherwise, I'm forced to scramble to complete the task at the cost of my time, attention, energy, and resources. Maintenance is far more effective! We've invested in the creation of the home environment, and so it next must be maintained. Here too, I recall the words of 2 Corinthians 12:9. The Lord has given me this home and family to care for, and He will also give me the strength to complete my role.

      Next week, we'll complete the definition of "homemaking" by looking at a few more key terms- home, pleasant, productive, glory of God.

Review- "What is Homemaking?" (part 1)
Up Next- "What is Homemaking? Part 3"

Friday, December 9, 2011

Five Question Friday

1. What is your favorite Christmas cookie?
     I don't know if I have a favorite, but hubby and I made some chocolate chip peanut butter cookies last weekend that were unbelievable. I won't even admit how many I have eaten! I will say that there has been much tasty delight in so many days this week marked by such shameful lack of self control. haha

2. What's your favorite holiday movie & why?
   I've had two Christmas movies since I can remember and they are The Santa Claus and Miracle on 31st Street. I've watched them so much that I'm pretty sure I could quote the lines independently. Somewhere along the line they became part of the spiritedness of Christmas.

3. Is there a gift that you bought for your kids that you wish you hadn't after they opened it?
      Can't say there is considering we don't have kiddos currently. Hubby and I don't exchange gifts, so no worries there (phew!). For everyone else we give gifts to we receive a detailed list from them weeks prior, so that cuts down on the risk of them not liking it or us wishing we'd done something different.

4. What is the messiest room in your house right at this moment?
Oh dear. It might be a toss up between the kitchen and living room. I finally visited the public library where we live (we've only lived here 8 mo), and came away with a stack of books. Needless to say my nerdy book-lovin self was in a very happy place. So much so that my dirty dishes are still needing loading into the dishwasher, counters washed, and trash can liner replaced. On top of that my living room currently looks like a library threw up because of all the books scattered about. Ugh, I'm so embarrassed and ashamed now that I've not only pulled my head out of the books and looked around, but also that I've shared my mess! Oh well, such is life. Today shall be a cleaning day that is for sure. haha
5. What is the furthest you have driven for the holidays?
Last year we spent the holidays with my husband's family who live about 6-7 hours away from us. Currently, we're still close enough to each side of family that we can drive to spend the holidays with them. We know it won't always be the case, so we're grateful for these opportunities presently.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

What is Homemaking?

         If you are a follower of Reviving Homemaking on Facebook, then you are aware of a rather baffling question I recently released. I asked, "What is Homemaking?" Indeed, this is quite a broad and complex topic. Yet, entirely necessary of inquiry. The name of this site is Reviving Homemaking. Though, I am not one who grew up within any context of home ec. or homemaking. And so within the realm of all that I am familiar, homemaking/home ec is, in fact, a lost art. Though to pronounce it's passing in completion would be gravely incorrect. Within the connectivity of online media the faint though fully present livelihood of homemaking is palpable. Within the description of this site is the word "journey," and that is precisely where I am. My heart enuthusiastically and joyfully is to walk in the direction of homemaking. It's more than an interest; it's a calling.

     The content up to this point has not been exactly what I had envisioned when the site began. The trouble with reviving something is that one must first understand the identity and function of the matter. How do we revive something unknown? We can't. Or, at least, we can't without tremendous difficulty. Furthermore, in order to bring something forward into the present it must also be conformed in some regard to be applicable and relevant. Some areas of teaching when home ec was at it's height may not apply now, but that is not cause to disregard the subject matter in it's entirety. Enormous significance and value persist in the lessons of homemaking or home ec. If that were to not be the case, then it would be appropriate to issue a certificate and forget it. The strong support for homemaking, even within the online realm, is evidence that it is well and beats onward in the present and future.

     And so, the question arises: "What is Homemaking?" There are numerous personal philosophies behind the practice. What is it on a day-to-day scale? What knowledge or skills are pertinent to the function of the homemaker? For you see, this definition of sorts is even more puzzling for individuals like myself who have not been previously introduced. There is a growing heart for homemaking, but a lack of reference for tangible terms.

     Finally, I've been reflecting lately on how the journey intended by this site to revive homemaking to be undertaken? My conclusion has come in the form of a library card and the pricipal of taking one - step - at - a - time. After much deliberation I've devised the following definition of homemaking, and it will serve as a basis for future content:

    Homemaking is the art and science of creating and maintaining the home to be a pleasant and productive environment for the glory of God.

Continue reading- "What is Homemaking? Part 2" , "What is Homemaking? Part 3"

Linked up at: Deep Roots at Home, Women Living Well, Growing Home, Far Above Rubies, Time-Warp-Wife, Our Simple Country Life, Raising Mighty Arrows, A Pause on the Path

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Book Review: What Women Fear

I’ve recently completed  What Women Fear by Angie Smith. Upon introduction I was hesitant to purchase because I assumed it would discuss anxiety or paranoia type fears. I was quickly proven incorrect. The content of the book discusses matters relatable to any woman.
Though the author has a background that includes a master degree in Developmental Psychology it isn’t apparent that the work is driven by a desire to construct a self-help book based on her studies. Nor it is intended to be an in-depth theological study. It is more appropriately the exploration of the balance of faith and fear on a daily basis. I believe the heart of the work can be seen when she says:
     I long to be a woman who walks in the moment God has  
     given me, with full confidence in what's to come. I know it
    isn't always going to look the way I want it to, but I long to
    internalize the fact that He is never going to forsake me or
                           take His hands off me (page 26). 
Smith’s writing is clear and easy to comprehend while also often displaying her joyous sense of humor. She writes as though speaking directly with her audience in the tone of intimate friendship. Smith gains the trust of the reader through her retelling of personal experiences with each area. Readers are then drawn in further by her ease and relevance of discussion.

Each chapter begins with a reference to wisdom gained from a Biblical story. The Bible is frequently quoted as passages or as individual verses and are the mediums through which her exploration of fear are conducted. At no point does she deliver a definitive conclusion to any area of fear, but rather encourages the reader to find balance in the matter through a walk with God. Each chapter focuses on specific areas of fear such as: “What if..,” rejection, abandonment, betrayal, failure, success, death, past becoming present, insignificance, God’s plan, realism of God, and fear of God himself.
       Angie Smith does an excellent job at demonstrating Biblical wisdom as is applicable to daily living in a fresh and tangible way. The writing exposes a new way of considering many of the familiar Biblical passages. As I read I was compelled to underline, highlight and comment in the margins extensively. I spent my time savoring the heart of the message she conveyed in each chapter.

       I genuinely did not find a single chapter I did not mark and find value in. In reviews of the book that I could find, only one out of more than a hundred reviews was negative. A strong response such as that speaks accurately well of such a great piece of writing. I would highly recommend What Women Fear by Angie Smith. In one word- phenomenal.

*Note: -The above opinions are mine alone and have not been influenced or solicited in any manner.
-Clicking on the links will take you to the product page on where you can read more on the book. If you decide to purchase, RevivingHomemaking does get a small comission through the Amazon Affiliate Program. (Thank you! :))


Friday, December 2, 2011

Five Question Friday

1. What is your favorite Christmas decoration in your house?
I love our Christmas tree! When many aspects of Christmas dampen my spirts, the bright glow of lights and ornaments of memories hanging captures my heart as though I was still a child entranced by the wonder that was Christmas. I joke that our tree is decorated by a couple of five year olds for the brightly colored lights and ornament balls as well as the many goofy looking ornaments. I have many of my childhood ornaments, and so I suppose in a sense it was decorated by a five year old. I absolutely love it though. It's our our home..for our Christmas.

2. Do you finish your Christmas shopping early or are you a last minute type?
I suppose I'm a middle of the road shopper. I prefer to have my Christmas savings completed by the conclusion of November and then shop the first week or two of December. I certainly don't touch any closer to the day than that! (Have I ever mentioned that I'm not a shopper, and so this shopping season really isn't my favorite? haha)
3. When do you turn on your heat?
Fortunately for where we live we can go without any heat or air during most day of the spring and fall. We'll wait as long as we can before turning on the heat. Doing so provides an excellent opportunity to take in the cool crisp air of fall.I love the coziness that accompanies cool weather.
4. Do you ever wish your blog was private?
     I work to publish only writing which would not ever produce embarrassment or shame. It is the medium of my exploration of life and homemaking. If my journey can be of meaning to anyone, then I'm pleased to have all content public.
     With that said, I must admit that I am not without fear of rejection. The blog contains writing on a subject matter that can be quickly mocked and criticized in certain audiences. In these instances, a piece of me wishes to make content private to avoid such responses. However, in doing so I acknowledge that I would be denying myself and that which I feel the Lord calling me to pursue. And so, I swallow my fear of rejection and type again with trust in the Lord who has lead me to this place.
5. Do you put your deodorant on before of after you put on your shirt?
 Well, isn't this a t.m.i. question?! haha. To answer the question (because I know others really want to know), I tend to do it afterwards. I'm always concerned that I'll get it all over the shirt and then not get it off in a timely manner if it do it before the shirt. haha..and now you know ;)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Beautiful Spirit

         I don’t know her story. I don’t know the events that would make my perspective different from those who are one step closer to her. However, I do know this- she has the most beautiful spirit I have ever encountered. Though without details I’m certain she has experienced hardships in life, and yet upon her countenance is peace. She is without the all too common burdens most of us drag along in life that harden our hearts. I imagine that is entirely due to her trust in the Lord and reliance on Him to be the one able to carry her burdens. Her faith is touching, and whether believer or not you are sure to well up with tears when she her heart spills out in prayer to a God so real and dear to her heart.  No one is a stranger in her home or family. Regardless of whom the person is or where he/she has been, her door is open and arms wide waiting the moment they may be entered and her love and grace shown. I imagine that to also be attributed to her faith in the One who graciously accepts us for who we are. It goes without saying I admire her greatly.

           And so, I dare to expose my heart and in her admiration I find comfort. We discuss lines and clips utilized for drying plastic baggies, and acknowledge our awareness that we could simply buy more but instead we choose to reuse that which we already have.  We stand at the kitchen counter peering over at a dessert and talk of techniques of shaping pie crusts. In her loving eyes and gentle voice is conveyed her joy and pride at seeing lost arts come back to life. There is an acceptance and encouragement unfounded elsewhere, and in complete honesty I couldn’t imagine wanting it from anyone more than her. Such simple moments, but they are ones that I will always hold dear. To her, my heart for home and family is not silly but beautiful. In her response to my desire for homemaking I am confirmed that therein, indeed, lies something truly significant. I sense her support of me to continue to learn and grow in this area, as well as her shared assurance that the Lord is trustworthy. It goes without saying I admire my Grandmom greatly.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Five Question "Friday"

1. Is there a special dish you prepare that you are famous for?
I search all year for a really cute food craft/project. This year I made colorful sugar cookies in the shape of leaves and some "acorns," and served them in a pretty basket. I also did a pumpkin pie with pumpkin leaf cutouts placed all around the edge. I would include a picture, but it all took so long that I skipped the picture taking and just focued on getting it done! haha.
2. Are you (did you) go Black Friday shopping ?
Absolutely not! I'm not much of a shopper to begin with, so a mega-shopping day is not my idea of fun. Instead, I prefer to use that day to put up Christmas decor. Afterall the day after Thanksgiving offically begins the Christmas season. :)
3. What are your strangest holiday traditions?
I don't believe I have any "strange" holiday traditions. In fact, I'm still trying to determine the ways of celebrating or traditions to be established within our family. We'll see how this year goes. :)

4. Pecan or pumpkin pie? (She actually asked "Apple or pumpkin?" I just T-giving'ed it!)
Pumpkin pie! It just seems so fitting at the Thanksgiving meal. I love pumpkin everything this time of year!
5. When will you put up your Christmas tree?
We just put our tree up! I will certainly enjoy many evenings gazing at the colorful Christmas tree. :)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Fall Sale at the Etsy Shop!

I still have a few fall items left in the RevivingHomemaking Etsy Shop, and so here is your chance to get a little something to brighten your fall from the start next year! Just for followers of RevivingHomemaking here on the blog page or on the Reviving Homemaking Facebook page, use the coupon code "FALLSALE11" at checkout to receive 25% off fall items! That includes a fall apron and two placemat, napkins settings! I really enjoyed creating these items and would love to see them enjoyed in another home for coming holiday/fall seasons to come! :)


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Five Question Friday!


1. Do you have a go to song that always puts you in a good mood?
Agh, this is going to be embarrassing. Okay, while watching Friends (because don't all my stories begin that way?!)  an episode featured a "Morning's Here" song. I don't think it's actually a song, but just something to add to the show. Nonetheless it's super catchy and cheerful! Strangely enough it does, in fact, put a better mood on the mornings! Fyi, mornings are a struggle for me in terms of waking up & being pleasant to be around. hehe. Here's a clip:
Now don't you feel better? I feel all red faced! haha
2. Are you a real Christmas tree kinda person or do you go with a real fake one?
I love the smell and feel of having a real tree! However, they are some serious work to attain and keep around! I can't imagine us trying to get a tree on top of a car and up stairs into an apt., and then back down again later to dispose of it. We have a fake tree, but LOVE it. It's special because it was out first tree together. <3
3. What are you thankful for?
Opportunites. The Etsy store has continued to receive orders. It's my way of using the abilities that God has instilled within me, as well as help support my family. If we both worked outside the home, then we would honestly not get to see each other but for a handful of hours each week. Been there and done that and we know that that doesn't allow for much of a family or marriage life. I'm so grateful for all who shop or spread the word about the shop! Each activity helps bring back meaning to family and homemaking! :)
4. Which fashion fad from the past do you wish you could wear today?
I love the 90s style! I was searching through patterns once and kept marking dresses that I really liked, and then later realized they were all produced in the 90s! I love simple dresses and a pair of Keds. I have at all times had a pair of Keds. I refuse to give those us, even if they're dated at this point! haha. I have some dresses in mind to make at some point. I suppose it's a good thing that I wear what I like and don't worry too much about styles or perceptions. haha! 
5. Do you wait until the "low fuel" light comes on before you fill up the gas tank?
     Doubtful! I'm a planner/organizer type person and as such I usually try to get things taken care of before the time of need. When it comes to fueling the cars, I perfer for the line to not dip below 1/4 tank. I'm not a fan of the idea of being stuck on the side of the road!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Revisiting "Celebrating the Season with Thankfulness"

        This year we're considering to be my husband and I's "first" holiday season together (technically it's our second, but due to our overwhelming schedules last year we didn't celebrate much at all). At the beginning of the month I was all excited to begin a "30 Days of Thankfulness." I had intentions for each day to list, photograph and share an area of thankfulness to focus on for the day. Well, I believe I made it to day 3 (it's now day 18. yikes!). The ideas from various sources for acknowledging gratitude were wonderful. However, they weren't my own and as such didn't strike a personal cord within me. Moreover, I felt like I needed something more than the words "thank you." How do I truly exprience gratitude? Act on it.

        I've been working ever since at compiling my own list of activities. I still feel it important to define "Thanksgiving" as a season of celebration and not just a two hour meeting for stuffing belllies and entering food comas. The following is what I've come up with for us this year. Likely, it will change next year and that excites me because we should always be discovering new ways to be thankful.
Give Thanks Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar - PDF Pattern

1) I stumbled across this pattern for a calendar at Everyday Celebrations. I plan to make a few changes though. I would like one which would be year-round so that I can also fill the pockets with ways to appreciate other seasons or holidays. So, the colors will be those in my home's color scheme and the title will be changed to say, "Enjoy the Moments." Having the pattern as a base will make it much simpler to create and personalize!

2) I wanted my list to focus on three areas:
Express Thanks= 10         Express Giving=10           Come Together=10
1. Express thanks for good neighbors. Invite a neighbor to tea/coffee/dinner. If you don’t know your neighbor, then introduce yourself (be sure to include your gratitude for them!)

2. Make Java Chip Pumpkin bread* loaves and share a loaf with someone who is usually under appreciated. 
             *Java Chip Pumpkin Bread= 1 box quick pumpkin bread + chocolate chips + replace 
                  water with coffee.
3. Discuss how you can serve a family or person specifically over the holidays

4. Express thanks for relationships (friends/family) so close that the distance doesn’t even seem present. Call, write, or contact them in any way to express gratitude for them and your relationship. It could be a character quality, something that was done, favorite memory, or the impact they’ve had one you.

5. Create a Blessing Bag to keep in your car and offer to homeless individuals you encounter.

6. Have a family game night. Before each turn name a blessing.

7. Express thanks to a veteran for their courage and sacrifice. Write a letter** to someone currently serving. Greet and talk with someone you see while out today.
           ** Day 7: Letter to Soldiers- multiple sites to allow participation. Letters to Soldiers, &
                Soldiers Angels are two that I found just by doing a quick Google search.

8. Leave a cashier with a bit of a payment towards the next person. (You will need to place a rubberband or clip around it with a note or something designating it as such. Don’t want to get the cashier in trouble for having money lying around out of the drawer!)

9. Enjoy the beautiful fall foliage during a family walk/hike.

10. Express thanks to the Lord for the day. Some days just seem like they shouldn’t have even been attempted. Nonetheless, each and every day is a gift. Write Psalm 118:24 on a notecard and place by your alarm clock for when you rise. Then, stick it in your pocket or somewhere visible to be reminded of it throughout the day.

11. Leave a generous tip. Next time you’re at a restaurant leave a generous tip with a compliment on the receipt. If there is a tip jar, then leave a little more than just your change.

12. Munch on popcorn while enjoy a movie together (Charlie Brown holiday films!)

13.  Express thanks for the quiet times. Rise early and put some coffee or tea to brew. Spend extra moment with the Lord and in thought of ways to live out your gratitude during the day.

14. Offer a listening ear and shoulder to cry on. So often poor attitudes cause poor support systems (ie friendships!). Call or meet up with a friend to simply listen.

15. Use Thanksgiving Box Of Questions during dinnertime. (I haven't personally used these, but I love conversation cards!).
16. Express thanks for the good in life. Critical and negative perspectives are nearly impossible to escape. Have you become a perpetuator? Determine today to examine your words and heart to only allow that which is follows Philippians 4:8 to permeate your environment.

17. Grocery shop specifically with the intention of donating the entire bag. (Many grocery stores offer donation boxes or packages for purchase).

18. Review the story of the first Thanksgiving. Why did they want to observe a time of thanks? What is the significance of the holiday today?

19. Express thanks for your husband. When did we begin to see him with a critical (disrespectful) eye more than a grace giving (loving) eye? Challenge yourself today to not only speak well of him, but to think such as well! Praise him! Believe in him! Respect him!

20. Delight a child by taping change to a vending machine (bouncing balls, gum balls etc)

21. Capture with your camera the various things throughout the day you’re thankful for.

22. Express thanks to God for his provision. Stress can easily mound when it appears that there is more going out financially than coming in. Yet, when all is said and done there was somehow enough. Do we have shelter? Clothing? Food? Support from others? Our notion of provision and the Lord’s may look different, but one thing that is certain is that He is faithful in His promise to provide for us. Trust Him to do so. Thank Him for already doing so.

23. Graciously relieve someone of one of their responsibilities.

24.  Revisit the family photo album and travel back to previous Thanksgiving celebrations. What was your favorite memory of those times?

25. Express thanks for all those that God places in our paths. Some individuals and experiences will build us up, while others will refine us. Remember Romans8:28. Choose to recognize the good that came from our interactions and experiences. Make an effort to be kind today, even when someone we encounter appear to be “tearing us down.”

26. Visit with someone who may be lonely. The best way to combat a feeling of loneliness in ourselves is to remove that feeling from someone else. Nursing homes and hospitals are a great place to start. Don’t stop there though. Think outside the box. Is there anyone that lives alone? Spends evenings alone (spouse works night shift)? New to the area? Etc etc.

 27. Everyone share what is their favorite aspect of the holiday season. What activities/traditions added meaning or joy, and which ones detracted from it? What would each person like to include this year?

Day 28. Express thanks for God creating you to We are his workmanship. He carefully crafted us into being. What we perceive as flaws may be a part of God’s special design for us. Remember  that He created us to be as we are in order to fulfill His purposes for our lives, not our own. It’s easy to compare ourselves to others and see shortcomings. Snap a photo of yourself and on the back of the printed picture write ways in which God sees you.    

Day 29. Spending time with family often times requires a road trip. Make the stress of traveling a little lighter by obtaining a gift card for gas. Next time you’re at the pump, tape the card with a little note to it. (I would say hand the card to someone nearby, but I have a hard time imagining people accepting a gift nowadays).

Day 30. Prepare a meal together. It can be the actual Thanksgiving meal, a side, or just a weeknight dinner. “Too many cooks in the kitchen” is a complete falsity. I say the more the merrier! Divide the work and each embrace the opportunity to serve each other in preparing the meal.

Additional Resources:
 Random Acts of Kindness - Page with numerous ideas for simple acts of kindness.
Homeword 30 Days of Thanksgiving - Page with great ideas for areas of thankfulness.
Give Thanks Countdown Cards- Cards to accompany calendar pattern from Everyday Celebrations
Positively Present's 30 Photo Challenge on Gratitude- 30 days of capturing in film areas of gratitude.

      I hope to create a similar list with the same three areas of focus for the Christmas season (and likely subsequent seasons as well). I'll try to get a photo when I can get the calendar and cards completed.

     As for now, I pray that it will encourage you to determine in what ways you would like to focus this holiday season. This list is what is fitting for our family. I encourage you to take some time to think through creating a list to make it yours :)

Linked up at: Don't Waste Your Homemaking, Growing Home, Far Above Rubies, Women Living Well, Raising Homemakers, Raising Mighty Arrows, Our Simple Country Life, Maxabella Loves, The Gypsy Mama, Time Warp Wife

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cranberry Orange Scones

I've gotten into a routine of having something simple for breakfasts on Sundays. We've enjoyed homemade bacon egg cheese biscuits, blueberry muffins, pumpkin cream cheese muffins, coffee cake etc. My goal is to have something we can grab and eat quickly on our way to church. This week we add a new selection- Cranberry Orange Scones! Delicious! They're actually fairly healthier than how they're typically made. The seasonal enjoyment of cranberries and oranges put me in such a festive holiday mood! 

Give them a try and let me know what you think!

Cranberry Orange Scones
adapted from Taste of Home

10 Servings        Time: 35 min

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
7 tsp. sugar or honey
1 tbsp. grated orange peel
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/3 c. cold butter
3/4 c. dried cranberries
1/4 c. orange juice
1/4 c. milk
1 egg
1 tbsp. milk

Glaze: 1/2 c. confectioners' sugar + 1 tbsp. orange juice

1. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients and orange peel. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

2. In a second bowl,  combine remaining wet ingredients except the final 1 tbsp. milk.

3. Combine wet ingredients into dry.

4. Pour dough out onto flour surface and knead for 6-8 strokes. (*Note: over kneading will result in tougher scones).

5. Flatten dough out into a 8 inch round pan. Using a floured knife, cut into wedges.

6. Brush remainging 1 tbsp. milk on to the surface of the dough.

7. Bake at 400 degrees F for 14 minutes (all ovens are different and so best to just watch for the tops to become lightly brown).

8. Glaze: combine confectioners' sugar and orange juice and drizzle over all the scones.

9. Enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea and your favorite person. :)

Linked up at: Comfy in the Kitchen

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