Posts Tagged ‘Sundays’

Swimmer girl and I dropped off her friend and arrived home safe and sound from fall break early Friday evening.  We barely had time to catch our breath on Saturday before we hopped in an eastbound car and headed for Knoxville for a 6 pm game.  (I have almost no voice after my failed efforts to cheer on the Vols and I was practically speechless watching the Titans lose on Sunday.)

But before we headed to the game, my mental wheels were turning:  what was my gameplan for food and “fun” on Sunday?

I determined that food was in place, but I didn’t have anything in mind (except maybe a nap to catch up on some lost sleep.)  I’ve been wanting to paint our front door since the first day I laid eyes on it. and I decided Sunday would be as good a day as any to transform it, so I ran to The Home Depot for door paint and patted myself on the back for ensuring my Sunday was lined out.

After grabbing a quick bite for Sunday lunch and mixing and measuring for a pot of chii in the crockpot, I set to work transforming the door from UT (that’d be Texas) burnt-orange/red to “French Roast,” which is blackish brown just like the coffee beans.  A couple hours later, the door and my fingers were well-coated in paint.

See, I did my part to help us avoid the stores and eateries.

However, my mental safety net didn’t extend quite far enough and Mr. Official and Swimmer Girl had other plans:  they headed to town to look for a new sectional sofa for the bonus room while I was tied up painting.  One of the furniture stores is threatening to go out of business soon (and will continue to threaten to “close their doors forever” for the forseeable future), so dad and daughter did their part and took a sofa off their hands. Then they hit Sonic for happy hour, and brought me a diet cherry limemade as proof.  I drank it with a small twinge of guilt. 

Now let’s just hope the sofa fits in its new spot when it arrives.  (They traipsed off without a tape measure or room measurements.  God love ’em both.) Next week I’m determined to keep us ALL out of the retail establishments.  Wish me luck!

Happy Monday,

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This week is fall break for us.  As we have done for several years, we’re soaking up the last bit of summery goodness on the white sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico.

Yesterday began with worship, then we headed toward the impossibly beautiful, pastel tinted town of Seaside for an afternoon of sightseeing, boutique rummaging, and…eating out.

Yes, I know.  It was Sunday:  my self-declared day of rest from consumerism.  And there I was, shopping and dining with everyone else.

A most fitting sign outside one of the shops that was closed for the day.
Seaside’s post office stood quiet and still, too.

What can I say?  My goal is not to foist or bind this “day of rest” idea on anyone, nor am I advocating we return to laws that would force compliance.  It is only to gently encourage all of us to give some serious consideration to taking a weekly break from the consumer “rat race.” And – if enough of us were to do it on a regular basis – it might eventually lead to retail store owners giving themselves and their employees the gift of a weekly break, too.

Our regular programming will resume next Sunday.  But for today, we’re honoring a tradition that swimmer girl and I look forward to from the minute we begin firming up our itinerary for the annual trip.  And some traditions are worth honoring, even when they hang in the balance against other goals and ideals.

Happy fall,

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Once again, I managed to keep us out of restaurants and stores on Sunday, but it took some mental gymnastics.

I had planned roast beef for Sunday’s meal, but I didn’t think to check my stockpile of ingredients I typically pour over a roast when it goes in the slower cooker.

Early yesterday morning, I pulled the beef from the refrigerator and set up the crockpot. All the while, I was mentally congratulating myself for having planned ahead.

I then reached in the pantry for a can of cream of mushroom soup and pulled out…nothing.


In my head, I heard my own big lecture about making foods from scratch, as my hands groped vainly for a can of soup in the empty spot where it wasn’t.  To be honest, it had been a while (a long while) since I made a roast without relying on the tried-and-true canned mushroom soup and powdered onion soup mix blend to smother it and keep it moist while cooking.

In my near-panic, I remembered I had ordered some roast beef seasoning from Penzys.  And my mind began a quick inventory.  Onions, check.  Celery, check.  Carrots, check.  Garlic, check.  Mushrooms, check. But I was still at a loss for a liquid. Until I reached in the refrigerator for the vegetables, and remembered I had a large tub of beef base just sitting in there, waiting to be mixed with some water and used.

I seared the roast, sprinkled it with seasoning, piled the vegetables in the bottom of the crockpot, placed the roast on top, then covered it with mushrooms and some minced garlic, then poured a cup of beef stock over the top.  Mission accomplished, and a lesson learned about keeping fresh ingredients on hand.  Maybe I can even “can the can” and stop relying on condensed soup, one recipe at a time. (Canned cream soups are a handy “binder” in a lot of recipes, but as yesterday’s exercise proved, they aren’t necessary – especially if I keep stock and vegetables on hand.)

I didn’t have any green vegetables (gasp), so we carbed our way through lunch with sides of Dijon-crusted roast potatoes and macaroni and cheese (made with  a different shape because…you guessed it, we were out of elbow mac.)

Just three weeks into this experiment, it is already becoming easier and more natural to plan ahead for Sunday, so we’re not left at loose ends when we leave church.  It takes effort to be creative and flexible when something isn’t on hand, and it will take some convincing for our children to completely warm up to this idea.  Years of routinely eating out for lunch (and often dinner) on Sundays is deeply etched into our family’s instincts.

But I think we’ll succeed.  And on another positive note, I managed to get us through a full 7 days with only one trip to the store.  This week’s shopping trip will be a doozy, but it was nice to make it an entire week without an emergency raid on the grocery store.

Happy Monday,

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Day of Rest: Week 2

We successfully avoided another Sunday of consumer-driven activities.  It was a close shave:  Mr. Official made tentative plans to attend the Titan’s game, but he changed his mind at the last minute.

Would I have counted that as a consumer activity?  I guess so, but I can’t muster much sympathy for professional athletes working nights and weekends, all things considered. They do refer to what they do as “playing” a game, right?

I also had to make sure I had everything on hand to feed 30 +/- teenagers Sunday night.  I thought I had all my bases covered on Saturday, but I failed to check my inventory of disposable dinner plates.  So some of the guys (who were polite enough to make up the end of the line) had to use smaller plates.  Sorry, fellas! )

In other news, I managed to whittle down my weekly grocery dashes from the average of five (or more) trips per week. (I know…it’s embarrassing to admit I am that disorganized most weeks, but it’s the truth.)

The ultimate goal is to make just one trip per week, but that’s going to take some serious behavior modification for me.  Last week was a three-trip week, and each trip was very focused:

1. Monday morning to get that all-important cream for my coffee, plus the bulk of the weekly groceries.
2. Thursday to snag some mushrooms for soup (really thought I had a can on hand, but I didn’t, and the soup definitely needed them.)
3. Saturday’s trip to stock up for Sunday night.

This week, I’m vowing to not let my shadow darken the grocer’s doorstep more than twice. Gulp. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…

So what did we eat on Sunday since we didn’t eat out? Sunday lunch was humble tunafish sandwiches; Sunday supper for the group was pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad, chips, topped off with apples and caramel dip and molten brownie cakes (recipe forthcoming), with lemonade and sweet tea to drink.

Are you contemplating a weekly “day of rest” for your family and wallet yet?  I’ll keep posting our progress – whether we succeed or stumble – in the hopes it offers some encouragement to others.

Happy resting!

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Day of Rest: Week 1

A week ago, I encouraged us all to try to give up one day of commercialism each week.

For our family, that target day of giving our local merchants a rest is Sunday.

So how’d we do?

Bottom line:  we did great.  But it wasn’t without some angst.

On Saturday morning, we were getting ready to head to Knoxville for the big game. “I need to run to the grocery store before we go,” I announced. Mr. Official replied, “For what?” (In the south, we don’t just ask “why?”  We ask “for what?” which means the same thing as “what for?” but avoids that pesky dangling preposition.)

I said that I needed some items for the next day’s menu. He assured me we would be back in time to hit the grocery store before bedtime. As luck would have it, he was overly optimistic – it was 10 pm before we rolled back into town.

I confess my first thought was I could slip to the store at the crack of dawn. Ugh.

Or I could go after lunch. Or we could just break down and eat out. More ugh.

Then I began to consider what I thought I “needed” from the store, and if I could rearrange our menu plans a little and avoid the trip.

I could and we did.

We’ll have yesterday’s pork chops tonight. And the chicken that was waiting to be cooked has been cooked and eaten in the form of chicken chile verde and cornmeal dumplings. (Recipe is coming soon, but I won’t recommend cooking it in the crockpot.)

So what did we do instead of eating out? For starters, we had leftovers for lunch, which was a nice way to use up a lot of odds and ends hanging out in the fridge. And then – since I was feeling so virtuous (downright smug even), I plunged into multi-tasking: laundry, cooking, and floor maintenance.  You know – vacuuming and mopping. All the things I didn’t get done on Saturday. For some strange reason, the laundry and cleaning fairies don’t show up unless I’m around to make sure they get their jobs done.

I then put dinner in the crockpot before we headed off to evening services.

And so we get to start the work week with a rotated and flipped mattress, fresh linens, and a fairly clean house.  And a clear conscience, since I successfully dodged the clutches of consumerism for the day.  Mission accomplished, plus some lagniappe.
I did have to hit up the grocery store bright and early, right after this morning’s run. Because I don’t do mornings without coffee, and I don’t do coffee without cream. Hopefully I also got everything else I need for this week (I am also working on cutting down on multiple trips to the store during the week, since a quick dash for a few items often turns into a bigger and more-expensive trip than I planned.)

Happy Monday!

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Be still and know that I am God

Sundays are a day I always look forward to, whether it’s during the half of the year I teach the third graders, or the half of the year I’m a student in an adult class.

Fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ, spending time really focusing on God and the sacrifice that Jesus made for me, learning from His word, praying and praising our God with our hearts and lips – what could be better?

But I think it’s safe to say for teachers, not to mention, the preachers and worship leaders, Sundays are not a day of rest; they are a day of work. Fulfilling, uplifting, wonderful work, but work nonetheless.

I am my own worst enemy: I fill my Sunday afternoons with frenetic multitasking. I throw in a load of clothes to start and then review the morning’s lesson and make tweaks and notes to myself for next year; I work on the upcoming issue of a newsletter or two (or three–I seem to have volunteered myself into writing/editing three newsletters for our congregation.) Then there’s just enough time to strip beds, run the vacuum, tidy the bathrooms, jot down a menu and hit the grocery store – anything to get a head start on the coming workweek. Or I throw on my shorts and head to the YMCA to squeeze in a run, leaving just enough time to shower and change before evening services. Occasionally, the couch pulls me like the moon pulls the ocean, and I succumb to a nap….ahhh. But most Sundays, my “Martha” persona is busy bringing her A-game to get things done.

Psalm 46:10 is not a polite request, it is command. It has two parts that work together: Be still. And know that I am God. Only when I am still can I give Him my undivided attention and let Him speak to me, shape my thoughts, and give me the peace and wisdom I fervently pray for as I’m rushing around.

Today my thoughts are with the Gilmore family. Sister Gilmore was a wise, wonderful, mature Christian role model and confidante to so many women. Her calm and sweet demeanor, her unassuming way of helping others spoke volumes of her close walk with God. I rejoice that she made it home and I pray I will see her again someday. At the same time, my heart sorrows for her family as they deal with the void in their lives. Maybe today I’ll take a cue from this dear sister, and just be still.

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