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Posts Tagged ‘Sundays’

The American Dream is not 24/7

We live in a time when we think we can defy the laws of time (if not space or gravity…yet) and we pride ourselves on the fact that our society is always up and running, all day, every day.  It’s some kind of badge of honor to be able to shop, buy gas, or go through a McDonald’s drive-thru any of hour of the day or night. And yes, I realize that many of our goods are produced round-the-clock and that efficiency is part of what keeps prices in check. And that shift workers may need to buy milk and bread when they get off work, even if that is in the wee hours of the morning.

But this “always on” mentality is coming at a high price and I don’t think it’s what God or nature intended.  There’s a really good reason we have darkness each day: before modern times, it enforced a time of rest every day.  There were excellent reasons why God commanded days and weeks (and occasionally years) of sabbath, aka rest, for His people and the land.

We like to think we’ve overcome those pesky obstacles with technology, and we disregard the underlying reasons why rest is good. We’ll sleep when we’re dead, or so the saying goes.  Unfortunately, our choices to run non-stop don’t stop with us; we impose our choices on others, too.

In fact, those of us in the middle class may think we’ve never had servants, but in reality, we have created a de facto “servant” class:  it’s just called by the more politically correct term of “service” or “retail” industry.

And just like the manor lords of old, we expect those employees to cater to our whims and we rarely give their needs or comfort a moment’s thought – we simply expect them to wait on us hand and foot, 24/7.  On the rare occasion we do recognize their presence, it’s often while we are being petty, demanding and impatient “masters.”

Let’s not kid ourselves:  we’re not the modest middle-class folks we like to think we are.  We place more demands on those who serve us than any aristocratic class ever has.

And being a personal servant in the Gilded Era was no cakewalk, but arguably, certain aspects of the work environment was more humane and civilized, and certainly more dignified.

Before you decide it sounds like fun to see a midnight showing of a movie (or attend a movie on a holiday), think about the employees who must be there to sell tickets, pop your corn and make sure everything runs properly.  Is it worth it when you begin to contemplate how many lives you’re disrupting to indulge yourself?

When you decide to make a late-night run to the grocery store for ice cream, look around at how many employees are on hand, just to serve you.  Many–if not most–would prefer to be at home with their families, but they agree to work all night because the store owner wants to earn your business, O Great Customer.

I realize that few people will take up my challenge to bring back Sunday as a day of rest (and truth be told, we don’t always adhere to it, either.)  But can’t we all agree to postpone our Christmas shopping by a few hours and let retailers know (by our absence) that we won’t be enticed by dead-of-night “deals” dangled in front of us?  The same deals could be offered during normal business hours the next day.  It’s highly unlikely that a store won’t be able to serve all its customers if it doesn’t get a headstart on the day.

We didn’t get in the mess we’re in because retailers suddenly got a wild hair to open their doors longer and longer hours.  It started with consumer demands, and the only way the tide will turn is if we withdraw our demands.  And honestly, wouldn’t we all be better off if we gave it a rest?

Happy Monday,
Terry

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No, I’m not talking church history.  I’m talking about taking back my house, one piece at a time.

When I said I had been giving cooking and cleaning a lick-and-a promise, I wasn’t kidding.  Dinnertime for the past several weeks has been “every man/woman for themselves.”  Grocery store trips were hit-and-run dashes for a few items I knew we needed, and a few frozen fast foods to appease my children  and my conscience. (They won’t starve. There is food.  It’s unhealthy, calorie- and preservative-laden food. But it is sustenance.)

When the groceries came in the door with me, things got shoved in the right location, generally speaking.  Dry foods in the pantry, cold stuff in the fridge or freezer.  But calling it “putting away” everything would be a bit of a stretch.

There was never a convenient time to actually empty the fridge and cull out the fuzzy uglies hiding in the very back recesses.  The pantry went from shallow walk-in to “open the door and hope nothing falls on you” with zero room to get even my petite little foot inside the door.  It was bad.

And if confession is good for the soul, a thorough cleaning after confession is even better.  Earlier this week I finally had enough of the clutter and guilt:  I drained my second cup of morning coffee for courage, ran a sinkful of hot soapy, bleachy water, grabbed a rag and began clearing the vegetable bins, the lunchmeat and cheese drawer, and then worked my way through the rest of the fridge.  I didn’t have as much to throw away as I had feared, and now I know what I have on hand.  I continued my cathartic cleansing in the pantry.  Again, not as much stale, moldy stuff as I feared, but order has been restored there, too.

The restocking trip to the store was pleasantly brief and inexpensive.  I have all the ingredients to actually COOK the items on this week’s menu, so no excuses and no eating out on Sunday.

Restoring some order is definitely restorative.  Now to tackle the dustbunnies under the couch.   I’m guessing they – like their real-life counterparts – tend to procreate at lightning speed.  And then it’ll be out to the garden to bushwhack the jungle and see what can be salvaged.

Happy restoring,
Terry

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Our church promotes our school-age classes at the beginning of June each year.  Simultaneously we launch an all-summer rotational VBS-style program for our Kindergarten through 5th graders.  This is our third year to offer our “Summer Bible Vacation” series, and my third year to take the lead role in coordinating it. All of it. From January to June, a team meets and develops the lessons for each rotation (arts, story, movie, singing, games and  history).  I recruit teachers and guides and hold work days to build sets and prepare for it.  Finally, in late May, we black out our classrooms and transform six rooms into an art studio, bookstore, movie theater, radio station, arcade/game show set and museum/discovery center.

It is like a hurricane: a whirlwind of activity that starts out slow and picks up speed and intensity as you get pulled in deeper.  By the time we launch, I have lived-and-breathed-and dreamed all the minutiae and details imaginable.  Juggling last minute personnel changes, creating and acquiring specified props, costumes and supplies, making sure kids have guides, guides have rosters, the DVD players work, and popcorn bags are on hand and ready.  Got a question?  I willingly put myself in the role of “go-to-girl.”  Why do I do it?  Mainly because it’s fun and gratifying.  I have dim but fun memories of VBS as a kid, and I’m passionate about the importance of grabbing kids’ hearts and minds while they are willing and eager learners, and helping them develop an unshakable faith that God is, was and always will be, and that He has always had this amazing plan that includes each of us.  And so I pour myself into this effort.  In return I get a huge reward from seeing a few words scribbled on paper come to life in the eyes of many talented and creative individuals who volunteer to help.  And hearing kids beg their parents to bring them back for the next lesson.

Unsurprisingly, it is equal parts exhilaration and exhaustion.   The laundry, cooking and cleaning fairy tend to get less reliable as we get closer to the kickoff (lack of supervision, I’m sure); they flat-out go AWOL the last week or two of May.  They reappear in early June, as does my creative muse.

Speaking of which, this coming week I have plans that don’t involve acrylic paint, hot glue guns or construction paper.  These plans entail some TLC work on our front porch seating, sprucing up the back deck patio set and/or painting the upstairs bathroom and adding some storage.  (These are all high-priority projects, so prioritizing them is my first order of business.)  I’m also looking forward to figuring out how to display some new (vintage) Fiestaware I snagged while we were in Oklahoma.  So stay tuned…good things are coming this summer.

But before that starts, I gave myself Sunday afternoon off to do nothing more energetic than water the front plants.  After we got everything launched yesterday morning, it was time for quiet rest for every man and beast in our family.  And I have the pictures to prove it.

It was a much-needed afternoon to do nothing, guilt-free.  I hope your Sunday was just what you needed, too – whether highly productive or laid back and quiet…or even downright lazy.  (And for those of you who know I try to make our Sundays a day of rest from consumerism, I *almost* succeeded.  We needed hamburgers to grill out…and I didn’t realize it until late Saturday night.  So I made a quick pass through Kroger and a promise to myself to plan better for next week.)
Happy Monday,
Terry

P.S., This morning the Pirtle family is preparing to welcome a new baby/grandbaby into this world.  I send my prayers for a safe and easy delivery for mom and baby and congratulations to dad, grandparents, aunts and a super-cute new big sister.

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Yesterday, a day of rest?  Well, yes and no.

No lunch out and no shopping.  So I gave our local merchants a break.

But rest for our family?  Hardly.

It all started Friday night.  Mr. Official and Swimmer Girl were each at different football games. Big dog and I were home alone and a little bored.  So I washed, dried and spraypainted eight old chargers, taking them from 1990s gold leaf:

to a “hammererd” pewter finish:

That was quick and easy – a can of Krylon Fusion spray paint was all it took.

Then on Saturday, I stenciled a monogram on them – a set of the entire alphabet in 3-inch stencils was available at Hobby Lobby for about $5, which was way cheaper and – just as importantly – faster than ordering a larger letters.   In retrospect, I maybe coulda/shoulda/woulda done a more elaborate background design, but I think I like the elegant simplicity of just the single monogram.  Plus there’s a little more saving grace if I’m not precisely centered, although I did make a concerted stab at measuring and marking the center of each plate:

 After mentally weighing the paint options, I went with a blue that is somewhere between wedgewood blue and turquoise, playing off the colors in the dining room and my china. As expected, the stencil’s edges were a little rough, so after lunch yesterday, I carefully re-outlined them in the same color.  

The only thing left to do now is spray them with sealer so I can rinse or handwash them as needed.  Unless I decide to crackle them or outline them, or something else.

These were so easy to do, I don’t know why I didn’t think to do this a long time ago.   And if you don’t yet have chargers, check places like Old Time Pottery, Hobby Lobby and Target. They have them in old and silver, plus glossy white, black and lacquered reds – whatever fits your style.  And as you can see, a few squirts of acrylic paint is all it takes to personalize them.

As soon as the monogram touchups were done, swimmer girl and I did a little domestic work (she, vacuuming; I, laundry folding), then dashed out the door to a baby shower for a dear friend.   That’s what happens when you overschedule yourself on your day of rest.  Rest does not enter the picture.

We wrapped up the day with an early Thanksgiving dinner with our church family.  All in all, it was a very full, good good day of rest, but definitely not restful.

Happy Monday,

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Yesterday was the annual day to roll back our clocks, and that extra hour makes for a super-sized day.

It couldn’t have come at a better time – instead of getting back from Knoxville at 11:30 Saturday night, we could tell ourselves it was only 10:30.  Reverting to standard time comes with its own adjustments to psyche and Circadium rhythms, but early morning rising will be a little easier – at least until the newness of the time change wears off.

I was mentally patting myself on the back yesterday morning, since I knew I had all the ingredients for a “souper” Sunday with vegetarian chili for dinner.  Then I remembered that lunch comes before dinner.  Eeek!  Fortunately, we had enough tag-ends left over that we all enjoyed something: pasta e fagioli, homemade pizza and tuna fish were up for grabs, along with a gameday bowl of creamy refried bean dip scooped up with big corn chips.

With the mealtime dilemmas out of the way, my afternoon was clear to accomplish some tasks.  For starters, I won this soup tureen on eBay:

Less than $5.  Woot!

I’ve been scouting vintage tureens for years.  And this one was pretty AND dirt cheap – that’s a tough combination to beat.

After I scored the tureen, I turned my focus on the kitchen:  middle son recently requested monster cookies.  A big batch of these oversized monstrosities was in order, before our family devoured the huge bag of M&M’s I bought especially to make them.

And I wanted to try a batch of apple cider caramels (most of which are going with Mr. Official to work today.)  So it was a pleasantly busy, home-centered afternoon, which suited me to a “T.”

I think we are settling into a habit with this weekly routine, and not only did I hit the grocery store just once last week, I managed to stretch out the time between visits to ten days.  Granted, we ran out of milk a few days before I went, but it’s now an optional drink for us, not a necessity.  And our foodbill was well under $100 for the week, due in large part to the stockpile of meats and other more expensive items I already had on hand to incorporate into the week’s menu.

It struck me recently that we have not eaten a dinner out in quite some time, which can be attributed to  a combination of eating in on Sundays and football season, which consumes our Friday and Saturday nights.  That might change when we are no longer chasing after high school and college football games on Friday and Saturday nights, but for now, our food budget is heaving a huge sigh of relief.

I don’t know how many more Mondays I’ll blog about our weekly day of rest, although with the upcoming holidays, I may find us wrestling with time constraints that test my resolve to avoid shopping on Sundays.  But for now, a few simple, deliberate choices have created a new, enjoyable weekly routine.  The next step will be to re-introduce some form of hospitality on Sundays, either hosting a midday or evening meal occasionally.  

I hope you’re intrigued or inspired just a little and considering trying a Sunday of respite, away from the hustle and bustle of eateries and shopping.  It’s nice to not feel pressured to go anywhere, or do anything in particular one day a week.  

Like the 1970s Life cereal commercials told Mikey, “try it – you’ll like it!”

Happy Monday,

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Seven weeks does not a new habit make, but I will say it is getting more natural to plan ahead and make sure I have everything I think I will need to tide us over from Saturday to Monday. (Did I really just use “tide” in a sentence? After Saturday night’s epic fail to ‘bama?  Abject apologies to all my Vol-fan friends and family.)

Anyway, we ate up a variety of leftovers for lunch and it was as varied as a restaurant menu, with choices including 3-cheese pasta with chicken and alfredo sauce and toasty warm French dip sandwiches. Hot, fast, delicious and it used up food that would probably wind up tossed out otherwise.

After lunch was out of the way, Mr. Official and I each headed to the old house – he to mow, I to install closet cubbies and rods. I coulda/shoulda spent part of Saturday on this task but I chose to play with the grandpuppy and bake instead.  I knew before I went that I’d stall out midway – there were some items I’d need to buy in order to finish up (which is why I had planned to work on it Saturday.  Procrastinators Anonymous meets tomorrow, right?) 

Background, in case you didn’t follow our house adventure.  It began almost a year when I got a wild hair to look at our old Oklahoma house, which turned into a wish list of features I’d like to have in a house.  In turn, that became a casual, then serious house hunt and eventual purchase and move.

My, how time flies. We moved out of our old house back in May, then somehow the summer flew by and we never quite got around to putting it on the market (an unusual situation, to be sure.)  The good news is, we have a family moving into it in a matter of days.  The bad news is, all the postponed to-do’s must turn into checked-off “dones” in the next few evenings.

It’s a manageable list, especially since I no longer need to cool my jets outside the swimming pool for a couple hours each evening. Yes, another vehicle has joined our caravan, so swimmer girl now has her own wheels to get her to and fro.

Sniff.

Smile.

Sigh. 

Dinner last night was a new recipe featuring sweet potatoes and black beans in some spicy chili.  (Recipe will be posted on Wednesday.  I know I’m featuring pumpkin recipes for the next several weeks, but sweet potatoes and pumpkins are nearly indistinguishable once they’re cooked right?)

And because I planned ahead, I am enjoying my coffee with cream this morning as I type this.  (I was running dangerously low on both by Saturday, so swimmer girl and her oldest brother took my credit card and headed to fill up “her” Highlander and snag a few foodstuffs from Publix.)

So are you tempted to join me in this little social experiment?  C’mon…it’s easier than it sounds. And honestly, doesn’t it sound pretty simple to just steer clear of the mall and restaurants for one day a week?  Give it a try – you might find, like I am, that it is fairly easy and certainly more economical to give your family (and yourself) a day of rest, with a combination of leftovers and freshly prepared food that hit the table faster than most sit-down places can deliver. 

Happy Monday,

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For the past six Sundays, I have consciously and deliberately tried to avoid shopping or eating out.  (Well, except when we were on vacation a couple weeks ago.)  Yesterday was no exception, and if swimmer girl had remembered earlier that she needed yarn and knitting needles for a group project, it would have been totally successful.  But I did my part.

I spent an enjoyable but busy afternoon in the kitchen.  First up was my first attempt at cassoulet.  I got everything browned and sauteed, then layered it in the crockpot to simmer while I turned my attention to all things pumpkin.

First up was a trial run of double-chocolate pumpkin cake.  The recipe made two small cakes, so we can enjoy one here and I’ll take one with me to Bunco tomorrow night. Stay tuned for an assessment of the final product.

I also tested out another pumpkin bread recipe. The plan was to divide it into two loaves (since the recipe indicated it would make two loaves), with one sporting nuts and a streusel topping, while the other got an infusion of cream cheese filling and cinnamon glaze.  The result was a full-size loaf with a very runny cream cheese filling, and a miniature loaf of streusel-topped nut bread. Either I seriously misjudged the amount of batter I placed in the first pan, or the ingredients need tweaking.  (I’m leaning towards the latter.)

Regardless, the resulting loaves were good and I’ll showcase them in an upcoming recipe-of-the-week.   I also took step-by-step photos of assembling the cassoulet, and since it also received a thumbs-up from the family, I’ll outline my experience soon.

Our weather today was pitch-perfect:  it was warm and sunny, with a hint of coolness on the breeze.  If I hadn’t been keeping close watch on the oven timer, it would have been a gorgeous afternoon to spend outdoors.  So how did you spend  your Sunday?  I hope it was restful, relaxing and enjoyable!  If it was also free from consumerism, all the better.

Happy Monday,

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