Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." 
from the letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians

Surely the world has seen it's share of chaos and calamity, probably in much stronger doses, but right now there are firestorms of uprisings and violence erupting throughout the world, and to some extent, right here in the United States.  Now it is true, in one sense or another, the days have always been evil, but God has has never failed to make a way in the wilderness for those who love and follow Him. He asks us to listen to Him, to be obedient and to be prudent.  Now, perhaps more than ever in the last fifty or so years, we need to stick close to Him and to do what He tells us.

The world has just seen another horrible natural disaster, this time in New Zealand.  Today, Somali pirates killed four Americans who had been traveling around the world, passing out bibles.  A sweet lady at our church who used to do the scripture readings so beautifully, took sick a year ago with ALS, and the disease progressed so rapidly that yesterday she was given her last rites.  The upheavals in the Middle East are putting millions of people in harm's way, and threaten to destabilize the whole world.  Inevitably, the price of oil is rising sharply, and that means everything from gasoline to food to all other store goods will probably ascend in proportion.  The only things looking to tank are housing prices, employment and the stock market.

As to earthquakes and sickness, all we can do is trust God, and pray, but these are no small things! We could move mountains this way! God has put mysteries and challenges into His creation and it is our job to figure them out for the service of His creation. We must continue to put our minds and efforts into building safer structures in safer places, and work towards finding cures for disease, and better management of symptoms. Much has been accomplished in the engineering and medical fields (just think of the suffering before anesthesia!) and much more is needed.  I think we must realistically, however, look to the state of our own souls, and pray for the eternal souls of others every day, as indeed, we must all leave this world someday. Instead of feverishly trying to avoid that knowledge, we need to accept it, redeem the time we have and pray that we will run a good race, and finish strong! Accordingly, I appreciate the Catholic understanding of the need to pray for a happy and prepared death, for ourselves and others.

In the meantime, as God gives me another day and another chance to serve Him and others, I look at these world events through the prism of my vocation - that of wife, mother, soon to be grandmother, and all around home guardian.  What should the prudent keeper at home do in such times? Right away, bible verses come to mind and the Word of God gives me guidance.

Proverbs 22:3 says, "A prudent [man] foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished." This tells me to pay attention. Observe and understand the times we live in, and be proactive. Now this can be something as simple as removing yourself from endless arguments over doctrine or beliefs, or distancing yourself from people who are very negative or angry.

You might not think this would be applicable, but I like to make a habit of always having a back-up item in store for use when the first thing is gone. For example, even though I go grocery shopping once a week and I have a market just up the street, I will buy at least two gallons of milk at a time, or extra bread for the freezer, etc., because I never want to run out of a staple (think toilet paper!), at any inopportune time, like late in the evening when it's not such a good idea to be going to and from the car in a dark parking lot.

Truth is, however, I never want to run out of something like milk at all, and one time I learned the hard way.

One school morning a few years ago, my husband had already gone to work, and I woke up to no milk for breakfast. The five children ranged in age from about 2 to 12. What I should have done was just made toast and juice, and of course, any normal person would probably have done that. But no, I jumped in the car and ran to pick up milk. Well, I was so hurried and harried that I looked one way and then another, or so I thought, and proceeded to go out into the intersection, hitting the side of a car that I just plain never saw coming.

Thank goodness no one was hurt, but my insurance had to pay a significant amount to fix the other person's car. That whole mishap could have been avoided if I had taken the time to plan better, and failing that, just make do with what I had.

Another verse that helps to guide me is in 1st. Thessalonians, where Paul tells us: "And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and [that] ye may have lack of nothing."

Ah, wouldn't it be a better world if more of us studied to be quiet?  This is one of the great joys I find in staying home, that I can enjoy the peace and tranquility of my own little sphere while I go about my duties and my times of rest and refreshment. There are traffic snarls and crowded stores, confrontations with coworkers and anxiety over bosses out there beyond my doorstep, but I am safe from all of them.  And I am available to keep order and stability here for all of us, and to add some beauty and comfort, too.  I take the word "quiet", as it is used here, to mean being literally silent or at least reserved in speech, and also to mean  minding my own business, which indeed Paul adds in the above verse.  

Regarding the first meaning, there is so much to be gained when you don't talk.  You have time to listen, and time to think.  As the writer in Proverbs warns, "Where words are many, sin is not absent." If you have ever blurted out something that you wish you could take back, then you know how precious being silent is.  If you have been prone to this sort of thing, as have I, and finally with God's help, begin to heed the Holy Spirit's nudging you to hold back, you know the utter joy and sheer blessedness of making the decision not to blurt! It is a gift to yourself (to say nothing of the other party) that continues to pay dividends and gives you joy and relief each time you remember how you almost said it, but then refrained.

Regarding the command to mind our own business, well, I know that the government leaders felt they had good reasons to involve themselves in the affairs of other nations, working to promote one leader in one country, while working to undermine the leader in another, but I think that the error of this is proving itself very obviously now.  Perhaps if we had stayed home, and worked on producing energy and goods in this country,  letting others sort out their own existence, we would have been a lot better off, and so would they.  Of course there is a time to step in, but I think we have way overdone it.

It is the same in our own lives.  I truly believe that the world is better served by my organizing my pantry and freezers than for me to be out in the street, "community organizing" while shrieking incendiary remarks into a microphone. By keeping my food storage organized and inventoried, I can make the most of my budget, which helps our family take care of itself without having to burden anyone else.  When you are not a burden to others, God is glorified in your behavior, and you are indirectly benefiting your fellow man.  It's like Paul said, "That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and [that] ye may have lack of nothing."  Now, "them that are without" refers to those outside in the world, outside of the community of faith. They see your good works, which are the fruits of your faith, and they glorify your Father who is in heaven, as it says elsewhere in Scripture.  When we quietly, without trying to draw attention or glory to ourselves, go about our business, working to take care of our own needs, and allowing others to have their own "space", we are sowing the seeds for great peace, both without and within.

Here is one more very politically incorrect point I wish to make.  Again Paul says it so well, in 1st. Corinthians 10:23: "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not."  That means that something might be correct or good, according to the letter of the law, but it might not be the most helpful, or best thing to do in certain situations. I am thinking here about women and girls, and the horrendous situations they insert themselves into, expecting no harm to come to them because they have a right to be anywhere at anytime without fear of physical harm.  Yes, the should be safe from harm. What a word "should" is.

They are correct in maintaining that the responsibility for others to restrain themselves from doing them harm resides with those others, and not with the women themselves.  It is also right that we should be able to leave our cars and doors unlocked all night or when we are away, and not have to worry about people going in and robbing and ransacking our property.  But do we leave everything open and unguarded?  Most likely not.  Why is that?  It's our property, and the law recognizes our right to own and hold private property, does it not?

Ah, but we do lock up, keep our valuables out of sight when possible, insure them and even install alarm systems to keep our homes and cars secure, because we are wise to acknowledge the reality of a fallen world and the thieves and vandals who inhabit it.  We are not going to gamble on losing these things.

We might be outraged that it is necessary, but is it not wise, then for women and girls to keep themselves out of less than desirable environments, or maybe not be out alone at night, and take care not to invite others to dwell on their sexuality by dressing so provocatively? I mean, say you saved up and bought some gold coins or precious gems. Would you deliberately put them on display in the front window of your house, or keep them on the front porch, unguarded?

As women entered the workforce, crimes against them rose precipitously.  I do not advocate burkhas and a prohibition of women being seen in public - I just long for us to use some common sense. And to be realistic about our physical limitations (most women cannot beat the snot out of men as the heroines do on TV), and for prudence. Especially now, when it seems that people are becoming positively unglued and lawlessness is in the streets. 

My hope and prayer is that the mommies could stay home with their babies, that women and children would have strong, loving men to protect them and provide for them, and that as individuals and nations, we could be peacemakers instead of mobs of rude and violent people.

For those who share these beliefs, but are feeling distressed and frightened of events unfolding in the world, I would suggest taking some practical steps to position ourselves in the most advantageous circumstances, as we are able, and leave the rest to God.  Along with the foregoing examples, there are countless other things we can do.

Start going through your house, keeping the most precious and/or useful things, and clearing out the rest.  When you have order, you take a lot of stress out of your life. When you have order, you can actually keep your home clean and healthy, which improves quality of life for all who dwell there. Stock up on food, and other necessities. Shop for cotton clothing at thrift stores and start laying in some new cotton underwear and socks, as this commodity is rising fast. Learn how to cook, bake, mend, do small repairs, use things around the house to fix up other things - for example, years ago our dryer quit on us.  My husband remembered seeing this funny little gasket thing on the ground in the grocery store parking lot, that he realized might work in our machine, so he rode his bike up there, and sure enough it was still there.   He was able to use it and we had the use of that dryer for years to come.

Build relationships with your neighbors. Talk about how you could help each other out in the event of a natural disaster. Start helping each other out, now. If your neighbor is away at work when the garbage man comes, and the empty can is sitting out in the road, go get it and bring it back up by his house.

Go to the library and get some books out on hobbies you would like to pursue, or skills you would like to acquire.  Little by little, acquire what tools you can in order to be able to build, repair or maintain your home and property.  Tools and maintenance of  your home are sensible, terrific things to invest in. I might not be able to buy a $1,600 gold coin, but I can shop around and spend 160 dollars on food and tools or upgrades to my home environment that will add immense benefit to our lives.

Little by little, build a library of your own with your how-to books, your spiritual books and books to read to your children and grandchildren.  And do take time to read to a child, whenever you can.  Have a quiet cup of coffee or tea with your husband. Have lunch with a friend.  Go to the dollar store, and without overdoing it, buy some simple holiday and seasonal decorations to brighten your home with. Plant herbs in flower pots, and tomatoes, too, if you don't want to, or cannot have a larger garden in the ground. Savor these simple activities that make life rich and rewarding.

As the weather gets warmer, try hanging out a load of wash to dry in the fresh air and sunshine.  Pick up an iron and start pressing some clothes now and then. When you have a minute, from time to time, take some window cleaner and make a mirror or a window sparkle and shine. You do not have to do everything, and certainly not  all at one time.  But the things I am suggesting help you to achieve dominion over the little piece of earth and time that God has lent to you.  This is your time to shine for God, and to create good habits and patterns that will bless those around you and even your descendants after you!

God charged Adam and Eve with taking dominion over Creation and I believe He still desires us to do that. Under His guidance, we take some control over how we live our lives, and that tends towards peace for us. So let us redeem the time, walk circumspectly, not foolishly, but with wisdom, for though the days may indeed be evil, we must do the work He has given us to do while it is yet day, for night time cometh, when no man can work. Our days may see some trouble, yet we are children of the kingdom and it is a kingdom of LIGHT!

Monday, February 21, 2011

I am reprinting a very practical article which recently appeared in our newspaper the Virginian Pilot, 2/15/11, by Jamesetta M. Walker.  Recently on Lydia Sherman's blog, we were talking about good housekeeping and the subject of ironing came up. I love what Jamesetta has to say about the subject, and also her other tips on the old, tried and true methods of doing certain things. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did. (By the way, Jamesetta's bio details her extensive knowledge and expertise in the fashion and style world, and that,

"She's a true Deep South gal who hails from Mississippi's Delta and central regions.  Jamesetta goes dormant when the temperature falls below 55.  She loves mowing the yard and designing landscapes.  She's been a lifelong stickler for style and fashion sensibility.  Most days you can spot her wearing purple.")

oldies but goodies

The Virginian-Pilot and The Ledger-Star, Norfolk, VA, Feb 15, 2011 | by JAMESETTA M WALKER

Sometimes it's the simple, tried and true things that make the biggest difference. This applies to most everything, including style and beauty. Here are a few things that should not become practices of the past.
A good iron
When my mother and mother-in-law were no longer in a position to help by ironing my children's clothes, I reflected on how fortunate I had been to have them assist me with that task for some three years. Seeing folks looking like ragamuffins ruffles me, so I knew I wasn't going to ease up on that chore.
I must have gone to five people at work asking if their teen daughters wanted a gig ironing. All but one responded as if I'd asked them to pick cotton. In other words, who's still doing that? It was unbelievable to me that not only were these parents claiming their 16- and 17-year-old daughters didn't iron, but that they never had been shown how to iron.

What in the world?

My mother ironed everything from pillowcases to panties. She said it made lesser-quality items look and feel richer - and she was right. I still tease one of my best friends from high school about how we were always late for everything because her mother would still be ironing her outfits. Ribbing aside, she was among the most well-put-together students in school despite the fact that her clothes came from a discount retailer.
Central to getting that fresh look is buying a good iron. People may scoff at the notion of paying upward of $100, but it's worth the investment.

A cheap iron can ruin your day. It's maddening to have an iron spew brown water onto your shirt minutes before you're headed to work or worship service. Remember scorching one leg of those nice slacks and never getting the wrinkles out of the other ? The culprit was a whack iron that wouldn't hold its heat evenly.
Look for heavier-weight irons with a wattage of 1,700 or more, a sharply angled tip good for ironing in corners, an anti-drip feature, a no-stick plate, and a vertical and horizontal steam function, at the least.

Dry cleaning
Times are tight and you may have to trim expenses, but think twice before cutting out dry cleaning. It can extend the life of your garments, especially mid-grade ones. Although cotton and polyester are washable, I dry clean quite a few of my garments made from these textiles.
You never will be able to iron some garments just right to make them look new again. Or it could be that the fabric begins to pill, fade or lose its shape after the first wash. Dry cleaning will help you save money because your clothes will look better longer and you won't need to buy replacements.
Plus, dry cleaning is efficient. Sometimes there is just not enough time to iron. It's a relief to be able to reach into your closet, grab something and still show up looking good.

A wash and roller set
Expensive blowouts and designer straightening techniques are the rule of the day. Over time those tend to fry the life out of our manes and keep us flocking to hairdressers or in constant search of just the right miracle product to correct the damage.
A wash and roller set used to be the go-to style. Then the rise of the MTV generation gave way to everybody wanting rock star hair blowing in the wind. I'm guilty.
Those roller-set styles started looking ancient. However, advances in technique have led to the roller set looking as flexible and even more fabulous than a blowout. Plus they are cheaper. Ask for a doobie: a roller set that is combed out, brushed around the crown, covered with a plastic cap, set briefly under a dryer and combed again, very minimally using a styling iron in spots if needed.

A slip
Last year a peer mocked slips as a thing of the past. Maybe so, but they ought not be. Appropriate foundation pieces go a long way in helping you make a graceful appearance.
True, not every dress or skirt requires a slip. Many are lined, cut on the bias for more flow or are of a fabric thick enough to have body on their own, such as denim and corduroy.
But in terms of fit, hardly anything is worse than clothes that cling in all the wrong places. A slip can give the appearance of quality because it aids in draping.
Most of all, it hides your business.
Government should be transparent - your dress shouldn't be.
Jamesetta M. Walker, (757) 446-2211,
Copyright 2011
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


I have this great old cookbook put out by the Rumford Baking Powder Company. My edition is from 1932, but the first edition came out in 1908. The author is one Lily Haxworth Wallace, graduate of National Training School of Cookery, London, England.  Also, it calls her a "Lecturer and Writer on Home Economics, Consultant, and Food Specialist."  She wrote over a dozen cookbooks and also wrote about etiquette.
I find it fascinating to look at recipes and prefaces to chapters of old cookbooks, since they offer a glimpse into what life was like back at the time they were written. I also use this and other old books to learn how to do some of the basic things, or for recipes I remember hearing about but which now are not very familiar.

This book has a chapter devoted to "recipes for the sick". I will duplicate here what Ms. Wallace wrote, as her words contain wisdom for us today:
"The food eaten by a sick person has in many cases as much to do with rapid recovery as have drugs.  It must be remembered that the palate is more sensitive in sickness than in health, both to seasonings and temperatures, so that less seasoning and more moderate degrees of heat and cold must be observed.

Daintiness in serving greatly influences the appetite of the patient, and therefore, for this reason it is preferable to serve small portions and present the meal by courses rather than place all on the tray at one time.  Have all hot beverages brought to the door of the sick room in a covered pitcher, then poured into the cup, thus avoiding the danger of spilling liquids into the saucer while carrying them to the patient.

Food should not be kept in the sick room between meals.  It will be fresher and more appetizing if brought direct from storeroom or refrigerator when wanted.

When liquid foods are given, other receptacles than those for medicine should be used, as the association of the two is oftentimes unpleasant.  When the dietary is limited, srve the foods that are permitted, in as many forms as possible to avoid sameness.  For instance, beef tea may be given hot in the form of beef essence - as savory jelly, frozen, and as feef tea cusard; practically the same food but more palatable because served in different forms.

Be very careful to keep such foods as milk, beef tea, etc., covered while in the refrigerator, to avoid contact with other or more odorous foods.  If the refrigerator has more than one compartment reserve once exclusively for the use of the sick room."

The recipes that follow are:

Barley Water 
Toast Water
Junket Eggnog
Albumenized Milk
To Sterilize Milk
Wine Whey 
Acid Phospate Whey
Beef and Tapioca Btoth
Invalid's Tea
Clam Broth
Beef Juice
Beef Tea
Oatmeal Gruel
Cornmeal Gruel
Arrowroot Gruel
Irish Moss
Savory Custar
Puffed Egg
Custard Souffle
Egg Cream
Dainty Pudding
Tapioca Jelly
Chicken Chartreuse
Sweetbreads a la Newburg
Beef Cakes
Scraped Beef Sandwiches

Here is the Recipe for Dainty Pudding:

Thin slices of stale bread without crust
Fresh, hot stewed fruit sweetened to taste.
Custard or cream.

Cut the bread into pieces about three inches long and an inch wide.  Line a cup with the pieces fitted closely together; fill with hot, deep-colored fruit, and place more bread over the top.  Place a plate over the pudding, put a weight on the plate, and set aside till cold.  Turn out, and serve with cream or custard.

As you can see, a lot is done with eggs and beef tea, the latter being about the same thing as beef bouillon.
More recipes to follow when I post again.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011


Whew, I have been busy writing my little fingers off for the last five days, earnestly contending for the faith and the souls of three atheists. This occurred in Facebook. I have no trouble debating and rebutting, but I can see where it will end badly, no doubt, because of the hardness of heart I am up against.  You know, after awhile, that you wrestle not against flesh and blood and no amount of reasoning will soften their hearts.  It just comes back down, I suppose, to earnest, faithful prayer.

I undertook this mission, however, because the one person, a Facebook "friend" who was raised in a conservative Christian church and now has lost his faith seems hell-bent on destroying everyone else's, and denying them the simple pleasure of socializing on FB. This man and his atheist cohorts just jump on their Christian family and friends' pages and flame the mess out of them. You begin to get a hint about just what or I might better say, who, is behind their rantings.  So I got sick of it and took them on. Why? Because you never want to allow evil to roll all over people without rebuking it. They need to know that they cannot set fire to everyone's front porches like that with impunity. 

I debated whether or not I should reproduce the conversation here - it is a long one, but I think I may not, as I do not wish to give their rantings and "reasonings" a wider audience. But suffice it to say, that after about 20 thousand words or so, on my part, I am ready for the inevitable removing of the gloves, and for the verbal hand-to-hand combat to which these discussions are bound to devolve. Then it will be time to come home.

All the better, because I want to start sharing some material from a really old cookbook I have, its first edition being around the turn of the last century, I think. In the spirit of the last week, I believe I shall begin with the chapter that deals with "Recipes for the Sick".