Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Housewifely Reads

Still recovering from being sick, still at work, still no time to really sit down and download my pictures that I took with my new camera. I have off until next Tuesday after today, however, so I should have time this long weekend to ge some "real" blogging done.

In the meantime, thought I'd share the first batch of books I got from my hubby for Christmas. This is the first year that failed us and didn't get us the goods by Christmas, so I got my first box of books yesterday and Caleb says there are still more to come (to which I told him he was spoiling me absolutely rotten!). I'm so super excited about all of them. If you have read any, please leave your comments on them.

The English Housewife by Gervase Markham This book is an awesome, rare gem that I came across while searching on Amazon. It's a book written in the early 17th century by a landed English gentleman on all the practical matters concerning housewifery. There are chapters on cooking, "physik" or medicine, clothing, food storage and preservation, beer and wine making and preserving, and other sections detailing the required attributes of a good wife or, as Gervase puts it, a "complete woman." I have torn into this book with a hunger, and am l-o-v-i-n-g it. I am amazed at how much I agree with Markham's assertions about what makes a good wife. I would have assumed the pages would be full of things like "she should never speak unless spoken to" or "ought to consider herself chattle" or other mysogonistic ideas we (I believe wrongly) assume were always being put upon women in days gone by. Instead, it's (so far anyway) just good, sound, biblical advice on how to be a good helpmate to your husband and keeper and manager of your home. I can't wait to get to the "recipes" section, that ought to be a hoot!

A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove by Laura Schenone Another book I came across on Amazon, this is a book that attempts to tell the history of North American women through the cookbooks and recipes they wrote down and used over the centuries, starting with early native women. Thus far I have only read the introduction, which was surprisingly and refreshingly positive in its look at the traditional role of cooking in the lives of women, although there were some paragraphs that made me roll my eyes a bit from their feminist perspective. I'm looking forward to this book as a great window into the day to day lives of women of the past.
Called out of Darkness:a spiritual confession by Anne Rice Yay! I'm so glad I got this one. If you remember my post about Anne Rice, I was excited to see she has returned to faith and become a follower of Christ and had now dedicated her writing talents to serving the Lord. This is her spiritual memoir, and I've only read the first couple of pages but I know it will be a good one.

I will properly "review" all of these when I finish them.

Did any of you get any good books for Christmas? Do tell!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Absentee Armchair

I am sitting at my desk at the office this morning staring down over 40 emails that have come in since I stopped looking at a computer screen on the 23rd. I see the blogging world has marched on without me... I have so many blogs to catch up with in my blog-roll (and apparently one with an award for me as well!) I'll need to take more time off of work just to catch up with them all!

I was so busy with the homestretch towards Christmas, with dinner parties, baking, gift making, buying, and wrapping, that I didn't even have time to sit down and fire up the computer, let alone grab the head space to post about anything. And then, just when Christmas was finally over, I got sick. And have been for the past few days. I'm only here at the office for a few hours to put out some fires and then I'm back home.

I can't wait to catch up on everyone's blog. I will post one bit of exciting news: I got a new camera for Christmas! It's a beauuuuutiful Cannon powershot and it's silver and pink! Ooooh I love it!

Will be posting much more soon!

Happy New Year, ladies!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Decorations at Last!!

Today has been so lovely and special. We heard yesterday about an oncoming storm overnight and today, and this seemed to give us permission to stay up late last night watching a movie and sleeping in until almost 9:00 this morning. I woke up to a beautiful winter wonderland outside my door, with the snow falling all around. I spent some time in prayer and in God's word and I have to share with you ladies that God DOES answer prayer, and sometimes I am so humbled by how quickly He does it. I was praying for my dear husband this morning, as he has been working so hard and has a hard time knowing when to stop. Then, after breakfast this morning, completely unlike him, he asked if I wanted to watch an episode of one of the TV shows we have on DVD. My first thought was, "well, I have a lot to do today.." but the Holy Spirit stopped me and said, "Woman, this is exactly what you just prayed for!" So we cuddled up for an hour on the sofa and I crocheted and he cuddled the dog. And then he went for a walk later in the day, my night in shining armor, to fetch me a diet coke in this blizzard, and we had lunch and as I type this he is taking a nap! He actually took part of the day off! I am so proud of him and so thankful to God that He shows us that He does answer prayer.

We had planned to have friends over for dinner tonight, but with the blizzard we have rescheduled for tomorrow night. That means I have this evening free to blog, work on some Christmas gift, and just enjoy and be thankful for the warm home I have to enjoy in the midst of this storm outside.

I am finally posting the pictures of my Christmas decorations! I must confess that last night, as I was uploading them from the cd I had made from the disposable camera, that i felt a twinge of insecurity. When you compare my home and my decorations to so many others, mine seem pretty meagre. But I stopped that and reminded myself that this post will represent huge progress in my life. In years past, I put up the tree and put out our nativity set, and that was it. So, please be excited with me as I share these photos not because I am Martha Stewart, but because I am Mrs. Recovering Armchair Housewife. :)

The first thing I want to share is that I so wanted to have some wreaths for the house, I love natural-looking decorations and wreathes of all kind are so lovely. But have any of you ever checked out the prices of wreaths? Yikes! But, I was in the Canadian Tire (an auto and homewares department store) a couple of weeks ago and found these:

Which is basically wound up wicker-type material, meant for garlands and the like. I bought four of them and decided to make wreaths out of them. I had no idea what I was doing, but I just started unwinding the first one and re-shaping it into a wreath. I then took some ribbon i bought from Michaels and some decorative fruit ornaments I got from the dollar store and made this:

And in truth I sort of got excited,because i thought that looked pretty nice. And the wicker garland cost me five dollars, the ribbon probably 30 cent and the pears were three for a dollar. And, I can easily redecorate this by changing the trimmings.

So, i carried on and came up with four wreaths:

All of the wreaths were decorated with ribbon and little ornamentals from either the dollar store, the sale bin at Michaels, or the thrift store. Then, at the thrift store I found four pretty little brand new glass candle holders for two dollars each. They have a triangular cup that sits in a larger fishbowl-shaped glass holder, and this allows you to put decorative items in the fishbow part and burn a tealight candle to illuminate whatever is in the bowl. As you can see it's hard to explain, but above you can see I made one to match each of the four wreaths, simply putting some of the matching ribbon in the fishbowl and it looks very simple and pretty.

The winterberry wreath, with a matching garland that I picked up at the second hand boutique our church held in the fall on our inside front door.

Next year I'd like to have much more around the door, preferably with some lights and more garland. But this was a good start this year.

After I took the pictures, I switched the two above wreaths. it's hard to see but the one above the window has pretty metalic bronze and brown circles on it, and they went much better in my warm yellow and brown bathroom, whereas this festive red and green wreath looks nicer over he window in the livingroom.

This is a little tablescape I created on the far end of my bookshelves. Above is the pear wreath, and I have my bible open to the Christmas story in Luke and an Advent devotional surrounded by some candles, my pretty snowman, and some simple glass vases of bulbs and greenery (and you know I got both the vases and thebulbs at the thrift store... did i even have to say that?).

You may remember I got this topiary tree at the same second hand boutique and didn't know what to do with it, because i've never decorated anything in my life. :) i think I did ok with this.. just used some of hat beautiful ribbon and a few red bulbs to dress it up. It looks very warm and festive in our livingroom.

Speaking of our livingroom...

Next year I want to make better use of my "mantle" space above the piano, but this year it's home to my nativity scenes and some lovely candles. If you can see the book on the piano, that is the Norman Rockwell's Christmas that I picked up at a flea market down in NJ at Thanksgiving. It's beautiful.

And I'm still totally in love with the winterberry wreath that I bought at Michaels at 75% off at the end of November.

One of my favorite ideas was taking that big green brandy glass vase and putting a red votive candle in it. When it's burning and the livingroom lights are down low, it is the prettiest thing and casts the loveliest geometric patters on the wall around it.

A simple but bold red and gold ribbon has been wrapped around a closet door in the livingroom to hold our Chrismas cards.

My mother gave me this candle holder the last time I was down visitng, and I love the look of my two dollar store red pillar candles on it. Next year I want to get a small green leaf wreath to hang around the two candlabras, I think it would make it look all the more festive.

Our dining room. Very simple, but this was the first thing ever hung on the wall in this room, period, so it's a step in the right direction. I got the lovely silver leaf wreath at Zellers (sort of like KMart) on 40% off. If you look closely, you can see my green class collection decorating the table.

More of my dining room. Next year I want to hang a pretty wreath in front of the mirror.

The three green square plant holders on the tray (that i also bought at the second hand boutique) are filled with little winterberry ornamentals I purchased at Michaels, held in place by some floral styrofoam. I think it looks very festive. And yes, those ARE red and green MnMs!

This Apron and the "Merry Christmas" on the chalkboard is all of the "Christmas" that made it into the kitchen this year, but I am working at hanging things on the wall, and I have big hopes that i can make it more festive next year and even before with other seasonal decorations.

Thanks for coming by and checking out my Christmas decorations.!! I know they are simple, but for me they are such an exciting step in the right direction. more than once now i have had a visitor say they thought the apartment felt warm and festive and cozy, and full of Christmas cheer, and that has blessed me immensely. My earnest prayer is for any of you out there who struggle as I have to feel like you have any domestic or home-beautifying skills what so ever, not to mention a lack of budget, that if I can get started, so can you! Oh, and I just found this amazing scripture over at Ruthanne' blog:

"Do not despise this small beginning, for the eyes of the Lord rejoice to see the work begin."
~Zechariah 4:10
God Bless, ladies, and Merry Christmas!

In the Shadow of the Moon: The Armchair Review

Click the picture above for my review of the Ron Howard space program documentary.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Why I am able to blog so frequently

I have had a few lovely ladies who read my blog comment on how frequently I blog, and most of them made the comment in a positive way. :) Thank you, Lianne, for saying you look forward to my posts; I look forward to yours too! You are such a funny lady, you write with such wit.

In case some of you think all I do is sit around and blog all day, let me clarify that I don't. I am able to blog as frequently as I do for the following reasons:

1. I don't have kids. let's face it ladies; this is the big one. not having children, especially minor children still in the home, gives me not only the time but also the mental and emotional energy to take ten minutes and do a blog post. I can quick sit down while the potatoes are boiling to do a quick post, and don't have to spend that time making sure the kids are setting something on fire in the next room because gee they seem awfully quiet all of a sudden... ;)

2. I work out of the home only part time.

3. I am a fast typer. Quite a fast typer, really. And I'm a fast talker, so whatever i need to say just comes all at once and I type it up and I'm done.

4. I keep my posts simple. Unlike some more thought-provoking blogs like Breathing Grace or Homeliving Helper or the LPM Blog, I really just post about what I'm doing that day, or one or two specific thoughts that are floating around in my brain. This blog acts more like a diary than a journal; I just keep a log of what I'm up to, which doesn't take the time or planning that a more serious-subject and discussion blog would take.

5. This is my "hobby". I don't scrapbook, stamp, collect stuff, facebook or myspace, read blogs other than the few homemaking ones that come into my blogroll, ski, golf, ultimate frisbee, whatever. I do other things as well like crochet when we're watching a movie on the couch, and I've been getting into some crafty things, but this is my "creative" outlet, at least for the moment.

6. I don't watch a lot of TV. Caleb and I watch two TV shows a week, and we do watch movies sometimes, but I'd say we watch about an hour a tv a day on average, some days watching none, others watching a whole movie, etc. In the evening when a lot of people snuggle up to watch TV, I am uploading pictures to make a blog post.

7. My house is getting more clean and organized. So I actually can sit down and do this and not feel like I'm neglecting my priorities.

So hopefully this helps dispel any notion anyone might have that all I do is blog all day. :) Thanks for tuning in, ladies, it's so much fun, and i am so honored that you'd take the time to read these pages. :)

Infamous Squirrel Cookies

For those of you who missed it, I talked about hand-tracing and baking 60 squirrel cookies for gifts for my husband's business. A number of you ladies wanted to see the cookies, so without futher adeau:

Much to my dismay the disposable camera I used have a floodlight for a flash and it blew out EVERYTHING. I tried to edit this photo to bring up the contrast, lower the brightness, etc, but little avail. If you look closely you can ee the shape of the little fellow, with their red MnM eyes, and you can also see the pretty jars my husband made up to send them in. Sorry the picture didn't turn out better! I sure am looking forward to a new camera! :)

Thanks for caring to see them, ladies, that blessed me!

Loose Lips...

...sink ships.

This was a popular WWII propaganda saying warning people from discussing military information in public. The idea was if you were blabbing on about ship movements, enemy ears could pick that up and it could lead to an attack on an Allied fleet. I'm not sure how much of a threat this really was, but it was a good reminder to the public at a time of war to consider even their day to day talk part of the war movement.

As I follow the Lord, I am becoming more and more aware of the way my own loose lips, and those of others, can really sink the "ships" of others. The words we use in conversation with people are so powerful; they can either lift people up, encourage them, edify them, challenge them, or they can tear down, deflate, frustrate, belittle, or embarrass. I know I am guilty of having loose lips, and as a daughter of God I want to be in confession about this with Him and ask for His Holy Spirit to allow my speech to be honoring to Him and only helpful and edifying to others.

In an effort to do this, I have a list of often-used phrases that I want to stop using. I'd love your thoughts on this, and if you have some expressions you think should be removed from a Christian woman's vernacular, I'd love to hear them. Here they are, in really no particular order.

1. When are you going to start a family? I know that most people, when they ask this to married people without children, are only trying to express interest in their lives and/or encourage them to embrace the joys of parenting. And there is a timeand a place to ask friends and people in your lives about when they plan to have children. But in my observation it's one of things that is best left asked at a minimum, and in private, and not, say ,across the table at a church potluck. First, it implies that if you are a married without children, you don't "have a family". When people ask me this I often think, "I already have started a family...". Also, there is such a huge host of reasons why a couple might not yet have children, that to put them on the spot, especially in public, about this delicate issue can really lead to folks feeling cornered. And irony of ironies, I have caught myself asking this very question, when it's one I squirm at! Lord help us!

2. I wish I could afford something like that. When someone is telling us about something they have purchased, or a vacation they are going on, or a lifestyle change, or whatever, let's stop saying, "wow, I wish I could afford [to do] that." While it may seem like a totally innocent comment, what we're actually doing is making someone feel awkward or guilty over their purchase, experience, or life decision, and giving a sense that they are being luxuroius, or just plain coveting in a way that is ungracious. Better to say, "wow, that is so exciting!" or "I am so happy for you!".

3. How do you find the time for that? As with any of these statements, this one could be said in an appropriate way, say if you were genuinely asking a sister about how she makes her schedule work because you want advice, but I find more often than not it's not the kindest thing to say to someone. And I am totally guilty of this one myself!! As someone who is trying to recover from too-busy syndrome, I have often looked at someone else's actions and said, "wow, I wish I had time for that", and verbalized it. The problem is that this can make someone feel as though they have to justify spending their time on something, and if I am honest with myself, I have often said this in a state of martyrdome, like, "I am so busy I could never find time for that, must be nice to have free time like you do!"

4. Wait until you get married/have kids/work full time/whatever. This is one that is used a lot and again, in a friendly and appropriate context, it can be just fine. But I find it is used, sadly, to discount others' experiences. For instance, if I am talking with a single girlfriend and she is telling me about how much housework she has and the struggle to get it done, and I say, "yeah, well just wait until you're married!" what I am really saying is, "Your experience isn't valid because it doesn't match mine and I think my lot in life is harder than yours." It really comes down to self-centred responses and speech, where instead of listening to the person and validating their thoughts, feelings, experiences, you are turning it back around to get attention to yourself. And as Christ-followers, this is not putting others before ourselves.

5. I've just been too busy. WOW! Am I GUILTY of this one! And don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there is never a time to say you're busy, it's the reality of life. But I think that more and more if we could really focus on what the Lord wants our priorties in life to be, and only feel obligated and dedicated to doing in a day/week/month/year, what the LORD would have us do, then we can be free from the feeling of obligation to use "I am/have been/will be to busy" as an excuse for not doing some task, because instead we can be free to say, "I am afraid I don't have/haven't had time in my schedule for that," which is more a statement of priortities and planning rather than an excuse for forgetting or not being a part of something we feel obligated to. In addition, when we keep telling people that are important in our lives, or who the Lord has placed in our path to invest into, that we are "So busy", and "too busy", they end up feeling guilty just for wanting to interact with us, or to ask us to do or be involved in anything. As servants of Christ and minister in His name, we have got to slow down, prioritize, and stop living in a constant state of business so we can be available to the Holy Spirit as He leads us.

6. Fat jokes. Let's stop telling fat jokes about ourselves, or saying little sideways comments about our looks and weight. If we're overweight and we really feel convicted about doing something about, then let's do it, and we can talk about that and the work we're doing on it, but let's stop making jokes or making comments that make people feel obligated to say, "oh stop! you aren't fat!" Similarly, let's stop saying, "oh, I'm being bad", when we get seconds at the buffet or potluck or dinner party, or "oh I shouldn't", when we are offered the tray of goodies at work/home/church, whatever. There's nothing wrong with eating food, and if we're eating it too much then we need to be real with the lord about that and take it seriously, and not just make off-handed remarks that ake people feel obligated to placate our guilt. Again, I am SUPER guilty on this one, ladies, I am preaching to myself more than anyone on this.

7. Criticising your spouse in front of others.
I'd love to say this one goes wihtout saying, but sad to say it does not. ladies, what our husbands need from us more than anything second to us being connected to Christ, is our respect. If we are making critical remarks or jokes at their expense, most especially in front of others, we are not portraying that we respect our husbands. Again, I am guilty of this because I'll make what I tell myself are little innocent jokes but can later on feel the Spirit reprimanding me, that even those little jokes could add up to hurt feelings or embarrassment for Caleb and for others having the perception that I don't respect my husband. Not to mention that if you get very critical, it's super awkward for the people you're with!

8. Gossip. This is a tough one, ladies, but let's face it: it's an issue for us. My working definition of gossip is anything I wouldn't want the person I'm talking about to hear me say. If I would feel awkward to find them standing behind me as I say it, I shouldn't be saying it. Now, that being said, there is a time for going to other believers or leaders in the church to help keep another believer accountable, but 1.) only after you have made an effort yourself to talk to the person, and 2.) only in complete truth and love. Talking about someone else's life just takes time away from your own. Plus, we're in sin when we gossip, plain and simple, so let's knock it off!

I think that's about it for now. What are your thoughts, ladies? What are some things that you believe need to be stricken from our volcabulary as Christian women? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Introducing Armchair Reviews

I know what you're thinking... there is no way she is starting another page to this blog. But I am! I watched a terribly horrid movie the other night and I so wanted to post about it here and warn you all away from wasting your money and your 88 minutes of free time.

And then I got to thinking about how I love to "talk" books, movies, tv, and other forms of arts and entertainment with people, and how I long for Christians to engage in critical thinking when interacting with media of all kinds. And then I thought maybe in a small way I could contribute to the discussions and have a place to jabber on about arts, media, and culture.

The page is up and running, although it will likely be spiffed up with more bells and whistles as time marches on. My first review is up, of that terribly horrible Sleuth, and just as with the recipe blog I will post a "window entry" here at Armchair Housewife to alert you of a review, and you only need follow the link from here to the review. No need to "follow" the other blog unless you just want to fill your blogroll up.

I must tell you this review was pretty short and sweet becuase of time constraints, but in the future I plan to be a bit more extensive and thoughful in my reviews. I really hope you ladies will take part and comment on items you have read, watched, or viewed, and will give your two cents.

Leave it to the Brits... way outclass us North Americans on just about anything, but especially at Christmas, when so much of Christmas "stuff" can either be gaudy and tacky or overly-sentimental and forced. I found this video over at the Girltalk blog, and I pray you'll take the time to watch it and then share it with others.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Got the Winter Blues?

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Got the Winter Blues?

I find it is so easy to get into a funk or even a little bit of depression in the winter. I struggle with so little light in the evening, and if the house feels dark and quiet, it is prime time for the enemy to get me feeling lonely and for some reason I am so prone to reflect on the negative and my failures when it's too quiet and dark on long winter nights.

So, as someone who struggle with this myself, can I make a few suggestions that really help me?

1.) Pray. Seriously, get on your knees alone with the father, confess any sins you are harboring, tell Him you need His spirit, tell Satan to get behind you and geta big dose of love from your Heavenly Father. Get real with him, get open.

2.) Read the Christmas story in Luke, starting with Elizabeth's story.
Advent is one of the most "feminine" times of the year if you think about it. The season is literally pregnant with the hope of the coming of a Savior. Reading Elizabeth's and Mary's journey, and the beauty and mystery of the second person of the Trinity becoming a child so that we might know Him and be saved.

3.) Light some candles around your house.
Even if your house is a wreck and needs cleaning, light candles first! I find candle light is such a comfort during the winter, it brightens and warms all at the same time.

4.) Put on your favorite Christmas Music.
Christ-centred carols are the best, but even the fun secular stuff like Bing Crosby and Perry Como can just warm up your mind and heart if you have fond memories associated with the old classics. Put it on right after you light all the candles.

5.) Put on a pot of Apple cider.
Don't have apple cider in the house? Do what I do: Open a can of Apple juice, and put in a few cinnomin sticks (or even ground cinnomin if that's all you have), and make a pomander out of an orange and some cloves. NO cloves? Just cut the orange in half and stick it in. Have any cranberry juice around? Throw a dash of that in as well. Whatever it is, just get it warm and bubbly on the stovetop; the smell is so warm and comforting and makes any place feel like a home you want to be in.

6.) Clean your house. Not only will things being more clean make you more cheerful, but just the act of cleaning, being up and around and doing things, being active, will help chase away the winter blues. This can be the toughest one because if you are already feeling blue and cheerless, it can be hard to get started. But if you light the candled, put on CHristmas or your favorite worship music, and put that cider on, you'll be in the mood to make the house look as warm and homey as it smells and sounds.

House already clean? Then start a project of some sort, or get into cleaning a closet. Be active, do something that will feel like an accomplishment.

7.) Watch that silly video I made of me, Caleb, and our dog Stuart. If that doesn't give you a laugh, you are have a lump of coal for a heart. :)

Merry Christmas, ladies.
I am praying today that none of us will allow the enemy to steal our joy at this precious time of year. We all struggle with it. But God is mightier than any seasonal blues.

Love you all!

Feeling Squirrely

Well, ladies, 60 hand-traced and cut squirrel cookies and about five hours of sleep later, I'm feeling a bit nutty today. I laughed so hard at some of the comments about what would I need squirrel-shaped cookies for. I realize now that must have sounded pretty odd. :)

My husband owns a freelance graphic design business, called Blank Squirrel Graphics. He started his own music label a couple of years ago to put out his own album after the record label he had been with went under, and he named it Blank Squirrel Musics. When he went to work for himself last year as a designer, he kept the company name. Don't ask me what it means, he won't tell me or anyone else. The closest thing I've gotten from him is, "it's from a lyric from a song I haven't written". Artists.

So, for Christmas he wanted squirrel-shaped cookies that looked like his logo, which is the squirrel above. I made simple roll-out sugar cookies and used a little red MnM for the eye. They look pretty cute; I took a picture with my old-school disposable camera and I'll include it with the pictures of te decorations sometime this week.

I better quit blogging on company time here and get to work. :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

RIP Kodak Easyshare C530

Well, friends... after a long struggle my little camera has gone on to digital heaven. The poor little dear was never much to begin with, a little 30 dollar thing my hubby bought at a bargain shop and passed it on to me when he bought a real camera for work. It ate batteries with lightning speed, it never framed pictures correctly, any shot with the flash made the subject look like it was in a tunnel, and for the past few months the plastic hatch door for the batter compartment begun falling apart, first with a little crack, and eventually being reduced to pieces held together by masking tape and a prayer. Then, yesterday, as i was taking pictures of my mother in law's tasty no-bake chocolate marshmallow squares... good old C530 got knocked over into the sink. After multiple attempts to get it up and running again, we finally "called it" and made funeral arrangements.

This means that there will of course be no Christmas decorations post today but, not to be daunted, I went out and bought a little disposable camera yesterday. I fully intend today, in between and after baking about 5 dozen squirrel shaped cookies for hubby's business Christmas gifts, to take photos of my house with the disposable and get them turned into one of them-there fancy disks and upload the pictures. This means I may not have them up until the end of the week, but... better late than never, I suppose. :)

I have been nearly assured by Hubby Claus that I will be receiving a new camera for Christmas, which I am very much looking forward to. Until then I'll just have to make do with this old fashioned technology. But I'm a retro kind of girl, right?

What Christmas is All About

Ladies, please do yourself a favor and visit 50s Housewife and enjoy 1minute and 51 seconds of the most precious video about the real meaning of Christmas.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Second Hand Armchair

I have done so many of these posts now where I show you second hand goodies i've purchased or aquired it almost seems like they need their own blog! That's pushing it but what they do need is their own post, sort of like Armchair Confessionals. So, introducing "Second Hand Armchair". Its the cutest thing I could come up with... hey, I never claimed to be creative. ;)

Some of you probably think seeing pictures of stuff I buy is about as boring as dry toast, but I post them because

1) I love the thrill of the hunt and want to post for my own enjoyment, but
2) because I really want to spread the "gospel" of buying second hand. It saves money, it recycles, it often gives some of the proceeds if not at all to a good cause

(even if the good cause is getting stuff out of people's houses at yard sales), and it's just so much more fun, in my humble opinion, to find a unique treasure for a deal than a mass-produced, overpriced retail object that everyone shopping with you has in their cart, too. Can you tell I'm into this?! Haha.. it comes from neccessity, I suppose, from not having tons of money, but it also is just a thrill for me. I find retail shopping dull at best and anxiety-producing at worst, so I'm hoping I can encourage some of you to consider second hand shopping, andto see the fun deals you can find.

I was at the local MCC store last week looking for an apron. I didn't find an apron, but I did find all of these treasures:

I paid less that 25 dollars for everything on this table.

I got this beautiful green and gold ceramic chip and dip that will be fantastic for both fall and winter entertaining. It is a hand-made piece by Mountanview Ceramics here in Ontario, Canada, and a piece this size probably went for 50 dollars or more when it was purchased, but I got it for... three dollars. Yes ma'am. It was originally six dollars, but the red tags were half off, so I got it for THREE DOLLARS. And it looks like it's never been used. I served veggies and dip in it for my ladies' dinner this week and got a compliment.

This picture is a good opportunity to say I am for the first time in my life actually thinking about collecting something, and that is colored glass. You have all seen my green glass finds (if not, see them here and here), and I have been using them so much this December and am so glad I found them! And I got thinking how nice it would be if i could have some colored glassware for all four seasons. I already had in my posession two bowls of ths beautiful golden brown glass, and I have since founds a few more pieces that will go in my "autumn" box I am creating for next year. Who ever thought I'd be someone with an "autumn" box?! Not me! :)

And I paid a total of five dollars for those items above.

When I had my inlaws over to kick off my Christmas dinners last week, I wanted to serve punch but realized I had nothing to serve punch in. I can safely say in my six years ofmarriage I have never had an occassion in my home to serve punch. So who would bother with a punchbowl?

And the very next day, last Saturday, i found this punchbowl with a complete set of cups (all mint condition) for... 7 dollars, cups included. Yes, ma'am. And it's clear glass so it's all-season and I plan to use it very soon.

This picture is of some goodines that my mother gave me. They were items she has picked up at garage sales or auctions but no longer had use for them. And actually, the clear glass bowl was my great-grandmothers, and she bequethed it to me. I used it to serve cranberry sauce this week at the ladies' dinner, so I was excited.

As you can see, all three bowls are the pretty golden-brown color I want to use for next Autumn's decorating and entertaining. I'm probably all set for bowls now! And the grand total here was zero dollars, although my mom probably paid ten dollars or so for all three pieces when she got them second hand. (can you tell I come by my second hand appreciation honestly? :) )

That's it for now. I just bought a few more lovely items yesterday, which are already being transformed into decorations. When I do my Christmas decorations post (by Monday or bust) I will show how I used those items.

Have a blessed Saturday, ladies! I am going to spend it baking, cooking for hubby's business christmas gifts and muffins and squares for my church's Christmas play. Thank you all SO much for stopping in and journeying with me; you are all so precious to me.

Making Americans Canadians... baby at a time.

Is this not the cuuuuuuutest picture you've ever seen of a baby all decked out in Canadian Roots-wear? That is my beloved Jack, baby of dearest friend and Armchair Housewife contributor Sarad D., wearing his Aunt Nikki's first attempt at indoctrination for the Great White North. Isn't he beautiful (and, apparently sleepy, which of course makes him all the more adorable?)?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

He'll Be Home for Christmas!

Well, I've been crying buckets this evening as I praise God for His goodness in the progress we have seen in Devon,becuase i got the word today that

Devon is going home tomorrow!!

His surgery was such a success and he is up to full feeds in his little tummy and they are releasing him tomorrow morning at 9am. Ashley and Ron are of course exstatic and keep singing, "Tomorrow, Tomorrow!" from Annie and say they would leave right now if they could.

This has been a long road our little man has been on, and the journey continues. But the fact that,5 months and two days after he was born, Devon can finally go home with his Mommy and Daddy is such an exciting milestone that I don't know what else to say but Praise God and THANK YOU to our heavenly Father and all of you who prayed for Devon, Ashey, Ron, and all of our family. It was all I could do not to get in the car and drive down today, but I can't for various reasons and I know the Lord will work out just the right time for me to go down. He hasn't shown us anything but goodness so far, and I turst that will continue.

Ashley and Ron are heading home tomorrow in some pretty ugly weather, so we would appreciate prayers for safety. I can't believe my nephew will be home for Christmas; what an incredible blessing. I found this really cute slideshow and while it's a bit slow, it's neat to see the pictures this way, so i hope you enjoy the photos from our Thanksgiving Weekend.

Give Thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His love endures forever! -Psalm 118:1

Good Mechanic, Good Friends, Good Food (and Bad Camera)

Ladies Christmas Dinner

Apple-Cranberry Cider and Crudite
Fruit and Walnut greens salad with red wine vinigrette
Martha's Tuscan Roast Turkey Breast with stuffing
Cheesy AuGratin Potatoes
Fresh Green Beans
Whole cranberry sauce
Aunt Sue's Beet, Apple and Horseradish relish
Sweet Scallopped Apple Crumble

Thank you, ladies, for your encouragement and prayers for my dinner last night. God is very good and things went swimmingly! I got a real conviction from the Lord midway through the day that the reason He wants me to do more hostessing and have people in my home is to bless others and minister to them, and not to have some perfect presentation of my wanna-be domestic talents (or some display meant to hide my lack thereof). So I chilled out and figured whatever happened with the car would be fine, our evening would be good.

And it was! I left the mechanic shop just about in tears with gratitude becuase I love our mechanic; we are super blessed to have a young Christian man running a shop in town andhe is so honest, patient, and thurough. I thought our problem was the alternator, but turns out it was just a bad battery. He fixed me right up and I had my car by about 3:30. I dashed home and got right to work.

I had prepared this AuGratin potato dish from recipezaar on Tuesday night and had it ready to go in the oven. Funny story about this- I have now prepared this dish three times in the past two weeks, and each time I fully intent to take a picture of the final product... and each time I am too busy whipping around to get it served to remember to take the picture. I will blog about it with pic at some point on the recipee blog, though, because it's a new favorite and i did alter the recipezaar version a wee bit.

When I was at my Aunt Sue's for thanksgiving, she served us this delicious beet, apple, and horseradish salad/relish. I didn't think i cared for beets, but I tried it and wow! was i ever good. So I wipped some up, and you can click on the picture below or here to get the very simple recipe for this festive-looking dish. I prepared this Tuesday night as well and had it in the fridge ready to go.

The big chore was the Tuscan Turkey breast that I found in Martha Stewart's Living December 2006 (I think). Becuase I was too spazzing to get a picture when mine was done, here is Martha's picture. The picture is also a link to the recipe on her website.

Now, I must admit I did not follow Martha's directions exactly. I basically took the idea and made it my own. If I make it again I'll try to remember to take a picture and blog about it. I reccommend it as a great way to serve turkey to just a few people or without having to mess with the whole big bird and hours of cooking; this only took about an hour 20 minutes to cook. It was delicious!

I also served whole-cranberry sauce and dinner rolls, both store-made but both quite tasty all the same. We had a choice between red or white wine, and here we are after opening our Christmas crackers and about to enjoy our feast.

My camera is really struggling at this point. The pictures it takes are not so great, and now it seems to "misplace" many of the pictures I take. For instance, i took a number of shots of the table after it was set, to show you all the green glass, etc, but none of them were there when I went to download them. I think it isn't saving them properly because it's just old and falling apart. but hopefuly you can get an idea from this picture. I really think it looked lovely. And the best part was having dinner with my two dear friends, Kim and Rhoda. Caleb treated himself to a night of burgers and a movie I wouldn't want to see, so we were all happy! :)

After dinner we moved into the livingroom and Rhoda played us some lovely Christmas music on our new (to us) piano! How lovelythat was! I would have taken a picture but Rhoda doesn't like to be the centre of attention, and I wanted to be a good hostess of course. It was so lovely to sit in my livingroom with good friends, look at the beautiful tree, and listen to beautiful songs about our savior.
We then watched an episode of Touch of Frost, one our favorite British detective shows (I am totally addicted to all British detective shows, and really British TV in general. Anyone else out there a fan?), that happened to be Christmas themed. Midway through the show, I served up my (and I get to call it MY because I invented the recipe! I'm so excited!) Sweet Scallopped Apple Crunch, with whipcream and cranberry tea. I will have a recipe up on the the other blog soon, I think you'll like it!
It was a lovely evening and my girlfriends said more than once they liked my Christmas decorations (post coming soon with pictures) and enjoyed the meal, so what more could I ask for? God has blessed me so richly, I have so much to be thankful for. Thank you, ladies, for journeying a long with me, and for caring enough about my journey to read to this point of the blog! More fun stuff to come soon, including more great second-hand finds, some exciting news about my little nephew Devon, and the long-coming Christmas decorations post (if my camera can just hold on!!!).
I pray all of your Christmas seasons are just as warm and wonderful as mine is turning out to be!