Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy Sabbath and Happy New Year!

I was going to post my New Year's Resolutions/Goals today but ran out of time. Sundown is in less than half an hour and I want to spend more time organizing them into something cohesive. I already know what my goals are for 2011, but I haven't fleshed them out yet. For me, without having a workable plan, making resolutions is a waste of time!

So... happy Sabbath! I hope everyone has a great day of rest with the Lord!

And, happy New Year! In Japanese, that would be: あけましておめでとうございます!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2011 Reading Challenges

This is my last post on books for awhile. I didn't want to make a super long post by including a look back at 2010, what I'll be reading in January, and a list of challenges for 2011. Instead, I split it up into three posts and this is the final one.

While I've enjoyed the majority of my reading this year, I wanted to make a change for 2011. I don't want to read books simply because they have colors in the title or because they fall into a specific fiction genre. Instead, I want to read books that will encourage my relationship with God, strengthen my marriage, and teach me something about the world that we live in and the people I interact with. With that in mind, I found several challenges that match my goals for 2011.

Operation Deeper Faith - This challenge is going to be my biggest focus in 2011. Personally, I feel that without spending time reading the Bible, all other reading is pointless. The first part of the challenge involves studying one book of the Bible and reading it in numerous translations. I own 3 translations and have access to many more (Bible Gateway is a great resource). I'm going to commit to reading one book of the Bible in six different translations.

The second part of the challenge involves reading theology books. I am committing to reading at least 10 theological books, or one each month. I'm very excited about spending some time reading books about the Bible and seeing what other people have learned in their studies. Coincidentally, this part of the challenge lends itself well to the following challenge.

Off the Shelf - The goal is to read books I already own but haven't read. I'm going to attempt the Trying challenge level, reading 15 books from my bookshelves. If I complete January's to-read list, that will be three books complete already.

Foodie's Reading Challenge - From the website: "Together we’ll explore the world of good food writing. That may take the form of a cookbook or a biography or even a novel centered around food." Sounds like fun! I'm aiming for the Epicurean level, attempting to read 7 to 9 books. I have several cookbooks in mind and I love reading travel/food memoirs.

When picking out books to read each month, I want to read one book from each of several different categories:

Christian Living - to will help me develop as a Christian
Theology - to learn more about God
Homemaking - to develop specific skills as a homemaker
Marriage - to encourage me to be a better wife
Memoir/Autobiography/Biography - to learn from other people's experiences
Health/Cookbooks - to learn to be a better cook

These categories will overlap at times. However, I want to utilize my reading time to learn something, to become a better person, and ultimately to be equipped to serve others better. 2011 will be a great year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 Reading Challenges - Final Update

I didn't finish everything. Oh, well! I read some books this year that I wouldn't have otherwise, mainly Jane Austen sequels and a lot of Christian non-fiction. Next year's reading list is going to look drastically different, as evidenced by my Nightstand post this month.

Christian Historical Fiction Challenge - COMPLETE! I read some good books in this genre but most were mediocre. If I'm going to read fiction, though, this is the genre I'm drawn to. I can't figure out why, when I rate so many of the books as just average reads. The ones I really enjoyed are in bold.

1. Distant Dreams (Ribbons of Steel, Book #1) - Pella, Judith
2. The Outsider: A Novel - Gabhart, Ann H.
3. Bachelors Puzzle - Pella, Judith
4. Sister's Choice - Pella, Judith
5. How Do I Love Thee? (Ladies of History, book #4) - Moser, Nancy
6. Just Jane (Ladies of History Series #2) - Moser, Nancy
7. Eighth Shepherd (A. D. Chronicles #8) - Thoene, Bodie
8. Her Mother's Hope (Marta's Legacy, #1) - Rivers, Francine
9. Michal - Smith, Jill Eileen
10. The Apothecary's Daughter - Klassen, Julie
11. Lady of Milkweed Manor - Klassen, Julie
12. The Inheritance - Alexander, Tamera
13. A Lady Like Sarah (A Rocky Creek Romance, #1) - Brownley, Margaret
14. The Hope of Refuge: A Novel (An Ada's House Novel, Book #1) - Woodsmall, Cindy
15. A Bride Most Begrudging - Gist, Deeanne
16. A Bride in the Bargain - Gist, Deeanne
17. Queenmaker: A Novel of King David's Queen - Edghill, India
18. The Centurion's Wife (Acts of Faith Series #1) - Bunn, Davis
19. Ninth Witness (A. D. Chronicles, Book 9) - Thoene, Bodie
20. The Hidden Flame - Bunn, Davis
21. The Courteous Cad - Palmer, Catherine
22. All the Way Home - Tatlock, Ann
23. A Measure of Mercy (Home to Blessing, #1) - Snelling, Lauraine
24. Masquerade - Moser, Nancy
Extra - In My Father's House (Shiloh Legacy #1) - Thoene, Bodie
Extra - The Carousel Painter - Miller, Judith McCoy
Extra - In the Company of Secrets - Miller, Judith McCoy
Extra - Though Waters Roar - Austin, Lynn
Extra - Hannah's Hope - Kingsbury, Karen

Biblical Fiction Challenge - I didn't do as well on this challenge as I thought I would, mainly because I started a few Biblical fiction books and dropped them. I don't mind a good retelling of a Biblical story, but only when it is faithful to the original. I don't understand why authors drastically change Bible events. Honestly, I wasn't impressed with any of the Biblical fiction I read this year, even though I really enjoyed the earlier A.D. Chronicles books.

1. Eighth Shepherd (A. D. Chronicles #8) - Thoene, Bodie
2. Michal - Smith, Jill Eileen
3. Queenmaker: A Novel of King David's Queen - Edghill, India
4. Ninth Witness (A. D. Chronicles, Book 9) - Thoene, Bodie
5.
6.

Christian Non-Fiction Challenge - COMPLETE! Surprisingly, I was really strong in this category. I enjoyed a number of the books and look forward to reading more in this genre. Again, books I highly recommend are in bold.

1. How Women Help Men Find God - Murrow, David
2. Cult Insanity: A Memoir of Polygamy, Prophets, and Blood Atonement - Spencer, Irene
3. 3:16: The Numbers of Hope - Lucado, Max
4. Radical: Take Back Your Faith from the American Dream - Platt, David
5. Intimate Issues: Twenty-One Questions Christian Women Ask About Sex - Dillow, Linda
6. Jesus on Death Row: The Trial of Jesus and American Capital Punishment - Osler, Mark
7. Loving Your Man Without Losing Your Mind - Davis, Susie
8. Love Is A Flame: Stories of What Happens When Love Is Rekindled - Bell, James
9. Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires, the Respect He Desperately Needs - Eggerichs, Emerson
10. The Jesus You Can't Ignore: What You Must Learn from the Bold Confrontations of Christ - Jr., John F. MacArthur
Extra - Treasures from Bible Times - Millard, Alan R.

Jane Austen Challenge - COMPLETE! Loved this challenge! I think Jane Austen's books are brilliant. Fantastic character development, interesting plots, and very funny writing. The sequels and spinoffs... not so great. I'll probably avoid them in the future.

1. Emma
2. Emma & Knightley: The Sequel to Jane Austen's Emma - Billington, Rachel
3. Pride and Prejudice
4. Mrs. Darcy's Dilemma - Birchall, Diana
5. Sense and Sensibility
6. The Third Sister: A Continuation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility - Barrett, Julia
7. Northanger Abbey
8. An Assembly Such as This - Aidan, Pamela
Extra - (Related, but doesn't count toward the challenge) Jane Austen's Guide to Good Manners: Compliments, Charades & Horrible Blunders - Ross, Josephine
Extra - The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to Her World - Sullivan, Margaret C.
Extra - Just Jane (Ladies of History Series #2) - Moser, Nancy
Extra - Duty and Desire - Aidan, Pamela
Extra - These Three Remain - Aidan, Pamela

Colorful Reading Challenge - I failed miserably on the Colorful Reading Challenge. I didn't start early enough in the year and I had a hard time locating quality books that contained colors in the title. Unfortunately, I've learned that this type of arbitrary book selection is not my type of challenge.

1. A Blue and Gray Christmas - Medlicott, Joan
2. Kidnapped: or, The Lad with the Silver Button - Stevenson, Robert Louis
3. Cooking Green - Keyhoe, Kate (still in progress but will finish before the end of the year)
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.

Memorable Memoir Challenge - COMPLETE! I really enjoyed reading memoirs. I didn't realize how much I would enjoy them! Not all memoirs are good, but most of the ones I read were enjoyable. Those I would recommend are in bold.

1. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia Gilbert, Elizabeth
2. A Year in Provence Mayle, Peter
3. Sweet Mandarin: The Courageous True Story of Three Generations of Chinese Women and Their Journey from East to West Tse, Helen
4. Cult Insanity: A Memoir of Polygamy, Prophets, and Blood Atonement Spencer, Irene
Extra - A Thousand Days in Venice - de Blasi, Marlena
Extra - Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life - Kingsolver, Barbara
Extra - Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran - Saberi, Roxana
Extra - Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey - Knize, Perri

South Asian Author Challenge - Failed challenge due to bad planning.

1. The Sari Shop Widow - Bantwal, Shobhan
2.
3.

Chunkster Challenge - This challenge is not over until January 31, 2011 but I don't think I'll be able to finish it. I have a chunkster on my reading list for January (Bleak House) but I don't intend to read two books of that length in only a month. If the Bible qualifies for this challenge (which I don't believe it does, as it's a collection of books), I read it twice this year!

1. The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home - Bauer, Susan Wise
2.
3.

Support Your Local Library Challenge - Almost every book I read was from the library. And I supported my local library by paying a few more late fees than I'm used to... One month I wracked up $10.50 in late fees. It's easy to do when you have 30 books checked out and they are three days late!

100+ Reading Challenge - I thought I would easily finish this challenge, reaching 100 books. I might have, if I hadn't started dropping books that I wasn't enjoying. I didn't think it was worth plowing through a book I genuinely didn't like just to obtain a larger number at the end of the year. My time is worth more than that! But I still did pretty well in 2010.

1. All Through the Night - Bunn, Davis
2. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia - Gilbert, Elizabeth
3. Distant Dreams (Ribbons of Steel, Book #1) - Pella, Judith
4. A Year in Provence - Mayle, Peter
5. The Outsider: A Novel - Gabhart, Ann H.
6. Jane Austen's Guide to Good Manners: Compliments, Charades & Horrible Blunders - Ross, Josephine
7. The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to Her World - Sullivan, Margaret C.
8. The Swiss Family Robinson - Wyss, Johann D.
9. Bachelors Puzzle - Pella, Judith
10. In the Time of the Butterflies - Alvarez, Julia
11. Sister's Choice - Pella, Judith
12. Shanghai Girls - See, Lisa
13. June Bug - Fabry, Chris
14. How Do I Love Thee? (Ladies of History, book #4) - Moser, Nancy
15. The Wisdom Of Eleanor Roosevelt - Wigal, Donald
16. Sweet Mandarin: The Courageous True Story of Three Generations of Chinese Women and Their Journey from East to West - Tse, Helen
17. In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto - Pollan, Michael
18. How Women Help Men Find God - Murrow, David
19. Mona Lisa in Camelot: Jacqueline Kennedy and the True Story of the Painting's High-Stakes Journey to America - Davis, Margaret Leslie
20. Barack and Michelle: Portrait of an American Marriage - Andersen, Christopher P.
21. Now and Always - Copeland, Lori
22. Cult Insanity: A Memoir of Polygamy, Prophets, and Blood Atonement - Spencer, Irene
23. Knit the Season: A Friday Night Knitting Club Novel - Jacobs, Kate
24. Emma - Jane Austen
25. Emma & Knightley: The Sequel to Jane Austen's Emma - Billington, Rachel
26. Just Jane (Ladies of History Series #2) - Moser, Nancy
27. A Thousand Days in Venice - de Blasi, Marlena
28. Beguiled* - Gist, Deeanne and Bertrand, J. Mark
29. The Silent Gift - Landon, Michael
30. 3:16: The Numbers of Hope - Lucado, Max
31. Radical: Take Back Your Faith from the American Dream* - Platt, David
32. Pride and Prejudice - Austen, Jane
33. Eighth Shepherd (A. D. Chronicles #8) - Thoene, Bodie
34. Intimate Issues: Twenty-One Questions Christian Women Ask About Sex - Dillow, Linda
35. Mrs. Darcy's Dilemma - Birchall, Diana
36. Her Mother's Hope (Marta's Legacy, #1) - Rivers, Francine
37. Michal - Smith, Jill Eileen
38. The Apothecary's Daughter - Klassen, Julie
39. Lady of Milkweed Manor - Klassen, Julie
40. The Perfect Match (Deep Haven Series #3) - Warren, Susan May
41. The Inheritance - Alexander, Tamera
42. Jesus on Death Row: The Trial of Jesus and American Capital Punishment - Osler, Mark
43. The Inheritance - Alexander, Tamera
44. A Lady Like Sarah (A Rocky Creek Romance, #1) - Brownley, Margaret
45. The Hope of Refuge: A Novel (An Ada's House Novel, Book #1) - Woodsmall, Cindy
46. A Bride Most Begrudging* - Gist, Deeanne
47. A Bride in the Bargain* - Gist, Deeanne
48. Loving Your Man Without Losing Your Mind - Davis, Susie
49. An Amish Gathering: Life in Lancaster County - Wiseman, Beth
50. Sarah's Garden (Patch of Heaven Novel) - Long, Kelly
51. Queenmaker: A Novel of King David's Queen - Edghill, India
52. Blind Hope: An Unwanted Dog and the Woman She Rescued* - Meeder, Kim
53. Love Is A Flame: Stories of What Happens When Love Is Rekindled* - Bell, James
54. The Centurion's Wife (Acts of Faith Series #1) - Bunn, Davis
55. How Sweet It Is - Wisler, Alice J.
56. How to Read a Book - Adler, Mortimer J.
57. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life - Kingsolver, Barbara
58. Leah's Choice: Pleasant Valley Book One - Perry, Marta
59. The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment - Jacobs, A.J.
60. Ninth Witness (A. D. Chronicles, Book 9) - Thoene, Bodie
61. The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had - Bauer, Susan Wise
62. Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires, the Respect He Desperately Needs - Eggerichs, Emerson
63. Cooking Basics for Dummies - Miller, Bryan
64. The Hidden Flame - Bunn, Davis
65. Real-Life Homeschooling: The Stories of 21 Families Who Teach Their Children at Home - Barfield, Rhonda
66. The Courteous Cad - Palmer, Catherine
67. All the Way Home - Tatlock, Ann
68. Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran - Saberi, Roxana
69. The Jesus You Can't Ignore: What You Must Learn from the Bold Confrontations of Christ* - Jr., John F. MacArthur
70. A Measure of Mercy (Home to Blessing, #1) - Snelling, Lauraine
71. Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey - Knize, Perri
72. Masquerade* - Moser, Nancy
73. The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands - Schlessinger, Laura
74. The Great Conversation: The Substance Of A Liberal Education (Great Books Of The Western World, Volume 1) - Hutchins, Robert Maynard
75. The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays - Wilde, Oscar
76. The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home - Bauer, Susan Wise
77. In My Father's House (Shiloh Legacy #1) - Thoene, Bodie
78. A Blue and Gray Christmas - Medlicott, Joan
79. Letters to Juliet - Friedman, Lise
80. The Carousel Painter - Miller, Judith McCoy
81. The Sari Shop Widow - Bantwal, Shobhan
82. In the Company of Secrets - Miller, Judith McCoy
83. Treasures from Bible Times - Millard, Alan R.
84. Kidnapped: or, The Lad with the Silver Button - Stevenson, Robert Louis
85. Sense and Sensibility - Austen, Jane
86. The Third Sister: A Continuation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility - Barrett, Julia
87. Northanger Abbey - Austen, Jane
88. An Assembly Such as This - Aidan, Pamela
89. Duty and Desire - Aidan, Pamela
90. Though Waters Roar - Austin, Lynn
91. Hannah's Hope - Kingsbury, Karen
92. These Three Remain - Aidan, Pamela
93. Cooking Green - Keyhoe, Kate (still in progress but will finish before the end of the year)

Later this week I'll post my reading plans for 2011. I will be attempting something very different than past reading experiences and am really looking forward to getting started!

Edited to Add:
94. ちょうちょ - A Little Kippers book (English title Butterfly). It only took two hours, but I finally finished reading my first preschool book in Japanese!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What's On Your Nightstand - January 2011!

What's On Your NightstandMy reading is going to be a bit different next year and my Nightstand post reflects that. I read just shy of 100 books in 2010 and will aim for 52 in 2011. Even though I'm reading fewer books, I want to be more selective about my choices and read higher quality books. I'll explore that idea in a blog post later this week, detailing what challenges I'm joining and why. (Yes, I succumbed to the siren call of reading challenges...)

But for now, here is my reading plan for January.

Christian life - The Walk: Clear Direction and Spiritual Power for Your Life (Review copy)

Theology - Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ (Review copy)

Homemaking - The Well-Ordered Home: Organizing Techniques for Inviting Serenity into Your Life

Memoir/Autobiography/Biography - Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time

Health/Cookbooks - Skinny Italian: Eat It and Enjoy It - Live La Bella Vita and Look Great, Too!

Classics - Bleak House - Hubby challenged me to read it. Not sure it's my kind of book, but we'll see.

I'm also trying to learn how to cook and have a stack of books on my desk to pull from as I have time (Baking, Veganomicon, Absolutely Chocolate, Modern Spice, Easy French Cuisine, Newstart Lifestyle Cookbook). Here is my kitty trying to convince me that his food is more important than mine!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - The week after being sick


This week's menu is mainly what we didn't eat last week. I was sick all week (still have a bit of a cold) and didn't cook at all. At least that makes the menu planning and shopping really simple this week.

Monday - Haystacks
Tuesday - Breakfast Burritos
Wednesday - Sloppy Joes / Potato Salad
Thursday - Spaghetti
Friday - Curry
Sabbath - Lasagna
Sunday - Homemade Pizza (postponed Christmas meal with my mom)

Hopefully next week's menu will be a bit more exciting!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Sabbath and Merry Christmas!

I think Christmas falling on Sabbath is very special. It's almost a double blessing in one day! Last night, I was thinking about how Sabbath and Christmas are special but are still very different.

God hallowed the Sabbath. For six days, He created our world and all the things in it. The seventh day was special because He rested on it and made it holy. In turn, we are commanded to keep the Sabbath holy, to rest on God's holy day.

By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.

Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made

Genesis 2:2-3.


Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Six days you shall labor and do all your work,

but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.

For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy

Exodus 20:11.


Jesus was crucified on Friday and rested in the tomb on the Sabbath day.

Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.

Therefore because of the Jewish day of preparation, since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there

John 19:41-42.


On the other hand, there is no Biblical command to celebrate Christmas. The Christmas story is covered in several gospels, but it is not something we are told to remember. We do so because Christmas is a celebration of the beginning of Jesus' life. And His life and death are extremely important to us as Christians.

I was thinking about how Sabbath is a day of rest and realized that the first Christmas was exactly the opposite. Joseph and Mary were tired from a journey. They arrived in town and found that all the inns were full. No vacancy. Instead, they bedded down in a local stable. Mary labored to bring Jesus into the world. His birth was preceded by a very difficult work from Mary.

It is ironic that today I am remembering the Sabbath, the pinnacle of creation, by resting in God. I am also remembering the Savior's birth, which required hard work to happen. Two very special days, celebrated on the same day. A day of rest and a day of labor.

Happy Sabbath and Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Starting to feel better...

I think I'm starting to feel a tiny itty-bitty bit better. Today I mustered the energy to vacuum the apartment, fold some laundry, and tidy up my desk (finally!). I was so happy to be getting back into my housekeeping! Unfortunately, I couldn't do too much as my energy levels are still very low.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll be feeling almost back to normal and will be able to properly prepare for the Sabbath. If I'm still feeling bad, I'll at least wash the bathroom towels and the sheets. I love putting out fresh towels and clean sheets on Friday afternoon. It's a nice Sabbath blessing!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sick and bored

If this is what it means to be a lady of leisure, I want none of it. I've been sick since Sunday morning, nothing serious, but enough to completely rob me of energy. Almost everything productive has been postponed until I am able to muster energy again. No quilting, no cleaning, no exercise, nothing.

All I've been doing is reading, watching Japanese television (since I can't handle actual study right now but don't want to lose any of my progress), sleeping, and spending too much time on the internet. I want to clean!

Hopefully this will keep me productive once I'm on my feet again. There are so many things I want to do and wasting time keeps me from accomplishing much that I want to do. 24 hours in a day really is enough time if it is spent properly.

I sincerely hope anyone reading this is well and enjoying the last few days before Christmas.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Quilt Top - Complete!

I am so excited! Today I finished sewing together my quilt top. Tonight we're headed out after dinner to purchase the fabric needed for the backing. I also need to buy a roll of batting. Tomorrow, I start assembling the quilt "sandwich." Hurray!



I couldn't hold the quilt high enough to get it off the ground. It's 75" long! I'm only 66" tall. ;) I finally decided to stand on a chair so I could get the entire quilt in the photo without having to lay it out on the floor.

So happy that the top is complete!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Quilt Update

I am trying to get this quilt finished and in the mail before Christmas! I'm not holding out too much hope but I'm trying the best I can. This should serve as a lesson to stop procrastinating. I've been working on this quilt for months but am trying to finish it in less than a week. I'll finish the next quilt in a more timely manner!

When I started working this morning, I had three rows sewn together. Then I realized that I had sewn them in the wrong order and had to take it apart to avoid messing up my pattern. Thankfully, that was the first major mistake I've made. It took quite awhile to undo the stitches and put everything back together the way it was supposed to be.

Then I sewed on another two rows (correctly!) and thus have five rows complete. My goal is to have the other five rows added tomorrow. Hubby and I will be visiting Joann Fabrics after work to pick out the material for the backing and also pick up a roll of batting. I'll be busy for the rest of the week!

Here's a photo of what is completed thus far. Even though I'm way behind schedule, I really like the way this is turning out!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Menu Plan Monday


We're not doing anything great for this week's Menu Plan Monday. The menu is mostly based off of successes from last week, rather than a bunch of new recipes.

Monday - Breakfast burritos
Tuesday - Pizza
Wednesday - Enchiladas
Thursday - Sloppy Joes
Friday - Curry
Sabbath - Lasagna

The only new recipe this week is the sloppy joes and I'm actually going to attempt to create my own recipe based on several others I've tried. Hopefully they turn out. To me, a sloppy joe involves BBQ sauce. Most recipes I've seen use tomato sauce and a few spices but that doesn't taste the same.

We've been watching a Japanese television series titled Bambino. It's about a college student who decides he wants to become a chef. He is hired at a fancy Italian restaurant in Tokyo, but has to start from the bottom rung as a waiter in the dining hall. His greatest love is cooking but instead he only delivers the food to the patrons!

It's fun watching all of the cooking going on in the show and it makes me want to become a good cook. I'm a mediocre cook. I can follow a recipe and I can make a couple things without a recipe (mostly family dishes from my childhood). But I'm not actually skilled at cooking or a baking, especially involving vegan dishes. I want to learn more about cooking and baking but I'm not sure how. Simply following recipes isn't really teaching me more about cooking other than what doesn't work. Are there books or online tutorials that teach cooking skills? I'll have to look into that and see if I can find anything. I love food. I love to eat. Now I just need to learn how to cook!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sabbath is almost here!

I am so happy that today is Friday and that it is almost sundown. Aaaah, an entire day of rest. No worries, no work, no pressure. Just an entire day to spend in close relationship with God and with my husband.

Friday is rightly called Preparation Day. Luke 23:54 says that "it was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin." Amen and amen! Today was all about preparing for the Sabbath and I am very blessed with how much I was able to accomplish.

I followed my normal morning routine of Bible reading, exercise, and breakfast. Then it was time for work! I surface cleaned the kitchen, emptied the dishwasher in prep for tomorrow's dishes, vacuumed, cleaned the cat boxes, scrubbed down the bathroom, wrote out next week's menu and shopping list, wrapped the birthday present for tomorrow night's party (my niece turned eight this year!), washed/dried/folded/ironed three loads of laundry, and picked up around the living room. Somehow, I also managed to squeeze in an entire hour of Japanese study!

The only thing I was unable to accomplish was preparing tomorrow's lunch meal. It wasn't a lack of time or energy but a lack of planning ahead and having nothing on hand to make in advance. It looks like we'll be eating ramen after church.

Just for fun, here is Luke 23:54 in Japanese. I don't yet understand all of this sentence (maybe 25%), but I'll get there!

この日は準備の日であって、安息日が始まりかけていた。

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bible in 90 Days - Sign up time!

MomsToolbox

I blogged my way through the Bible in 90 Days program this spring. What a great experience! Reading the Bible so quickly gave me a new perspective on the overarching themes of salvation, God's greatness, and grandiose themes. Covering the entire Bible in 90 days allows you to remember what happened in Genesis while reading through Revelation because you just read Genesis less than 3 months prior!

Earlier this year, I read the Bible in 90 days. Later in the year, I mentored a group through the program. In January, I will again be mentoring. If you're interested, you can request to be in my group.

If you've never read through the Bible, or have never read it quickly, I invite you to sign up for the next Bible in 90 Days session, starting January 3rd. Pray about it. Clear your calendar to set aside time each day to spend engrossed in God's Word. You won't regret it!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Adventures in Cooking Without Dairy

My husband and I are very lucky in that most of our food preferences overlap. Occasionally we run into some minor differences, such as my love/his dislike of peas and his love/my dislike of mayonnaise. Blech.

Probably one of our biggest differences in taste involves soup. I LOVE soups, whether it's vegetable soup, taco soup, tomato soup, etc. Hubby doesn't exactly dislike soup, but he prefers it not to be the main course for dinner. I can eat a bowl of soup and a slide of bread and be content. He prefers something more solid.

Thankfully, hubby is awesome about letting me try out new recipes! I bribed him on this one, promising him a loaf of fresh garlic bread on the side. So, tonight we are finally trying out the curried butternut soup. It looks yummy!

First I found this awesome tutorial on how to peel and cut butternut squash. Oddly enough, I've never done it before and wanted to find a pain free method.



Beautiful!

The only problem with my butternut squash is that it looks exactly like cut squares of cheddar cheese. I've been vegan now for 11 months but sharp cheddar cheese was one of my favorite forms of dairy. Give me a block of Tillamook extra sharp cheddar and I was a very happy person. I used to make pasta salad quite often - WackyMac veggie spiral noodles, olives, cucumber, peas, ranch dressing, and little cubes of sharp cheddar cheese. YUM! I miss my (very unhealthy) pasta salad.

As soon as hubby is finished with work, we'll run over to the grocery store and pick up a loaf of french bread so that I can make garlic bread. One of these days, I really need to learn how to make my own french bread... Hopefully the soup tastes as awesome as it looks in the recipe photo!

Monday, December 6, 2010

On This Day in Christian History - A Book Review

I had a hard time choosing between this book and another "this date in history" book titled The American Patriot's Almanac. As I wanted to get better acquainted with the history of Christianity, On This Day in Christian History won. The tagline says "365 amazing and inspiring stories about saints, martyrs, and heroes."

Unfortunately, I have not yet read this in full as I plan on using it as part of my devotional for 2011. I didn't want to spoil too much of it! So, I read through the preface and the first five days of the year.

I'm excited about reading through this book next year! The very first story is about Ulrich Zwingli, born in 1484. He copied the entire New Testament by hand, making notes in the margins and memorizing Scripture. When he was done with this study, he decided to break tradition and preach through the New Testament verse by verse. This was during a time period when the sermons were decided by the church liturgy and weekly readings. But his local church loved the new sermon styles!

Not only was this man brave enough to break out of tradition, he studied the Bible as much as possible and attempted to live out what he had learned. I want to develop that type of passion!

I received a reader copy of this book from BookSneeze in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Songs at church bringing back memories

Today at church, we sung several songs that bring back a lot of memories from my childhood.

This first one is titled "Side by Side." The lyrics plead with the listener to meet in heaven someday. We'll join hands and sing songs together, side by side with the Saviour.

Side by side we stand
Awaiting God's command
Worshiping the saving King
Living by His grace
And moving out in faith
Jesus will see us through

Meet me in Heaven
We'll join hands together
Meet me by the Saviours' side
I'll meet you in Heaven
We'll sing songs together
Brothers and Sisters I'll be there




This second song is titled "Jesus is Coming Soon." Sorry for the poor audio, but I just love the OLD versions of this song. Beautiful music!



Troublesome times are here, filling men’s hearts with fear,
Freedom we all hold dear, now is at stake.
Humbling your heart to God saves from the chastening rod.
Seek the way pilgrims trod, Christians awake!

Chorus
Jesus is coming soon, morning or night or noon,
Many will meet their doom, trumpets will sound.
All of the dead shall rise, righteous meet in the sky,
Going where no one dies, Heavenward bound!

Troubles will soon be o’er, happy forever more,
When we meet on that shore, free from all care.
Rising up in the sky, telling this world goodbye,
Homeward we then will fly, glory to share.

Chorus
Jesus is coming soon, morning or night or noon,
Many will meet their doom, trumpets will sound.
All of the dead shall rise, righteous meet in the sky,
Going where no one dies, Heavenward bound!


Jesus is coming soon and we are heavenward bound!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Vacation plans

Hubby is on vacation tomorrow, Friday, Sabbath, and Sunday. We were supposed to go to California but our car repairs were a bit more costly than expected. Sadness.

Instead, we've made plans to mostly stay at home and relax. Tomorrow is the only day we'll be out, other than church. We're going to see Tangled and then eat at Republic Ramen. It's our first visit to the restaurant and I'm very excited to try ramen that doesn't come out of a 15 cent package.

The rest of his vacation, we'll be staying home and watching Japanese shows, studying Japanese, playing games, and I'll be trying to finish my quilt. I've also decided that I won't be slacking on my housework this time. Last time hubby had some time off work, I skipped almost all of my housework and then paid the price the following Monday! It took me a few days to catch up and I really don't want to do that again.

I'm still a bit bummed that we won't be going to California, though...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Great news!

It's been so long since I've posted. It's amazing how much the holidays can throw off a routine, especially when one's carefully made plans are changed at the very last minute!

Thankfully, I received some wonderful news! My mother had her biopsy done and there's nothing wrong. No cancer.

I am so grateful to the Lord for protecting my mother. I am also grateful to everyone who prayed. Thank you so much!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What's On Your Nightstand - December

What's On Your Nightstand It's that time again! I haven't read much this month and I probably won't be reading much next month. As much as I want to finish the 2010 challenges, I find myself spending more time on learning Japanese, cleaning, and trying to finish a quilt before Christmas. Most of my reading has been sidelined...

So, this month I'm just going to continue working on my reading challenges. My number one priority is the Jane Austen challenge. I am slowly reading through Sense & Sensibility and am enjoying it, despite how long I'm taking to read it. Then I'll be reading a S&S sequel - The Third Sister, by Julia Barrett. After that, I'll be reading either Persuasion or Northanger Abbey.

If I read much more than that, I will be surprised. My reading goes in waves and I guess this is just a down time for me. As a plus, my Japanese studies have really taken off and I'm spending between one and two hours a day studying!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - 11/22/10



I really am loving Menu Plan Monday. I'm happy that my menu planning is finally organized.

Something I'm trying to do with our diet is to make food from scratch as much as possible. I'm not making huge changes, just trying to make something new each week that we previously bought packaged. For the past three weeks, I've been making "refried" beans in the crockpot. Then we have beans for burritos all week and there are no weird ingredients in them.

Next week I'm going to make udon noodles from scratch. We recently finished a Japanese television series that featured a girl who was known for her handmade udon noodles. The food looked really good so I thought I'd give it a try! It doesn't look too difficult and will be a lot more fresh than anything I can buy in the grocery store.

This week's menu:

Monday - Skillet Lasagna - new recipe
Tuesday - Vegetarian Gyoza and Miso Soup - new recipe
Wednesday - Riblets, mashed potatoes, vegetable
Thursday - Thanksgiving
Friday - Curry
Sabbath - Spaghetti
Sunday - Enchiladas

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New glasses

Today I went and picked up my new glasses. The new prescription is going to take an adjustment! Everything looks funny. The woman at the optometrist's office said that it was a pretty big prescription change and that it can take two weeks to fully adjust! In the mean time, I feel like my depth perception is skewed.

Joann's didn't have the fabric I needed to finish my quilt. I picked out a similar fabric and will be replacing some of my blocks with it so that it at least looks intentional. Oops! I thought I had bought extra of each fabric just in case, but I guess I was still a bit short. I've learned my lesson for next time.

Hubby is working tonight. We're watching a Japanese drama while his computer processes are running. It's actually rather relaxing, despite having no idea when he'll be able to go to bed.

Hope your week is going as well as mine!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Quilting Update

I'm still plugging away on Grandpa's quilt. If all goes well, I'm hoping to have it complete by Thanksgiving. It will be a stretch to finish that quickly, but I need to get it done!

Here is a picture of today's progress. I completed all the blocks and laid out my final design. Yes, I am missing one block of the red fabric on the bottom. Hubby and I are going to Joann's tomorrow to buy another quarter yard of it. I hope they have some in stock or I will be redoing my design!



Once I pick up the last bit of fabric, I can sew the entire top together. Then I have to figure out how to sew on the border! I bought a really nice chocolate brown colored fabric for the border.

Bruno loves it when I spread fabric on the floor. He always tries to find a way to lay on it. Good thing my grandparents are not allergic to cats!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Menu Plan Monday



Time for another Menu Plan Monday! We haven't gone grocery shopping yet as hubby worked at a client site all day yesterday. Hopefully we can go tonight!

Monday - Curried Butternut Soup - new recipe (carried over from last week)
Tuesday - Apple cinnamon pancakes with homemade applesauce - Applesauce is a new recipe.
Wednesday - Riblets, mashed potatoes, and a vegetable
Thursday - Spaghetti, garlic bread, and a vegetable
Friday - Curry
Sabbath - Soba noodles, mushroom, and spinach soup
Sunday - Enchiladas

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Jaime Jorge worship service

Today we were blessed to have Jaime Jorge lead our worship service. He told stories of his missionary journeys and how God has worked in his life. He also played hymns on his violin. Beautiful music!

I found three of the songs on Youtube. I was blessed by the music and worship this morning. Hopefully you'll be blessed with these songs as well!

The first song was a childhood favorite - "In My Heart There Rings a Melody"



Then he played "I Surrender All," one of my favorite songs.



The last song was "A Mighty Fortress is Our God." It sounds beautiful on a violin!




Praise the LORD!

Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!

Praise Him for His mighty acts;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!

Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet;
Praise Him with the lute and harp!
Praise Him with the timbrel and dance;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with clashing cymbals!

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD!

Psalm 150

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Productive means less computer time

I've been very busy the last few days, which means less computer time. I really haven't minded. Here's what my days have looked like this week:

Wake up
Bible reading
Exercise
Shower
Breakfast
Cleaning
Organization project work (some small project in a different room each day)
Lunch
Japanese studies
Quilting
Dinner
More Japanese studies
Read
Bed

I've really enjoyed this schedule. I'm getting a lot done and feel like I'm progressing in both my house cleaning and my studies. I'm starting to stress about getting my Grandpa's quilt done, but that's my fault because I procrastinated on it for so long. So now I'm trying to work on it every single day. If I have time tomorrow, I'll post pictures of the progress.

Tomorrow's plan: Mostly the same as the above, but I have a lot more cooking to do. In the morning, I'll be baking a pumpkin so that I can make pumpkin pie in the afternoon. I'll also be putting together a lasagna for Sabbath afternoon so that all we have to do is bake it after church. I'll probably shorten my Japanese studies to compensate for the additional cooking time or I'll just have to clean very fast!

An update on my mom - We're sitting and waiting. The insurance company is slow about pre-authorization so she can't schedule anything yet. All we can do is wait and pray.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Prayers Needed

I had a different post in mind for tonight but I received a scary phone call. My mom went in for some routine tests but the doctor is concerned. She's now trying to schedule a biopsy. I don't want to go into any details (for her privacy), but I would appreciate any and all prayers. Thank you so much!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Menu Plan Monday



This idea of Menu Plan Monday is really helping me out. I'm not losing my menu in the mess that is my desk. I just pull up my blog and find the last menu posted!

Sunday - Orange "chicken"
Monday - Subs
Tuesday - Curried Butternut Soup - new recipe
Wednesday - Spring Rolls with Tofu - new recipe
Thursday - Subs
Friday - Curry
Sabbath - Stuffed Shells - a new recipe from an Adventist cookbook

Extra - Pumpkin pie! If I perfect the balance of the spices, I'll post my recipe.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Heaven is a Real Place

Today's church service was the last meeting in a Revelation seminar. We've attended the past three Sabbaths and have really enjoyed seeing our old pastor in his new role of conference evangelist.

The sermon was about heaven. It was very uplifting and made me excited to see it! Too often it's easy to get caught up in what's wrong with the world, the country, our lives. Instead, we spent an hour focusing on Christ and on heaven.

Nevertheless we, according to His promise,
look for new heavens and a new earth
in which righteousness dwells

2 Peter 3:13.


I think this is a great passage reminding us to keep looking forward to a new heavens and a new earth.

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself
Philippians 3:20-21.


Our citizenship is in heaven, not on this earth. Earth is not our home! Instead, we wait for Jesus, who will transform our bodies into ones like His. I can't wait! No more sickness, no more death, no more pain.

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.

Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes;
there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.
There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away"

Revelation 21:1-4.


I love that God will dwell with us and we shall be His people. We have the promise that God Himself will be with us! Forever! What a wonderful promise.

And it shall come to pass
That from one New Moon to another,
And from one Sabbath to another,
All flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the LORD

Isaiah 66:23.


Can you imagine the first worship service? Millions of people, coming together, to worship the Lord as one. All of us getting the chance to sing praises to God, to hear Him speak, to see His face!

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.

They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads

Revelation 22:1-4.


This passage has so many promises in it. A beautiful tree of life, new fruits every month, the healing of the nations, no more curse, spending time with God, seeing His face, and having His name on our foreheads!

Heaven is going to be wonderful and I want to be there! I hope to see you there as well!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Recipe Recommendation

Tonight we had sub sandwiches and crackers with cucumber hummus. The cucumber hummus was a very pleasant surprise. It was very refreshing! i could taste the cucumber when I made the recipe without any of the suggested additions. Then I tried a small batch with cumin added and that was even better. Yum!

I have ripe bananas on the counter. Tomorrow I'm going to look for a bread or cookie recipe that uses bananas. There's no way I can eat them all, so I might as well use them to bake something!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

November Elections - I Voted!



I have spent very little time cleaning in the past two days. Instead, I've been spending all of my free time researching candidates and propositions that were included on Arizona's ballot. Some of the information was very hard to find so it took longer than I thought. And still some of the candidates I was unable to vote on because I didn't feel well enough informed.

Tomorrow I'll be back to my normal homemaking schedule. I'm looking forward to having a tidy kitchen!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Menu Plan Monday



I am joining in on another Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday - Riblets with mashed potatoes and green beans
Monday - Homemade pizza with pineapple, mushroom, onion
Tuesday - Tortilla Soup - I love this recipe!
Wednesday - Vegan Alfredo with Peas - new recipe
Thursday - Subs with cucumber hummus (which I forgot to make last week)
Friday - Curry - potatoes, carrot, onions

Right now I have the pizza crust rising on the counter. It smells good!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook - Entry 2

I thought I'd post another The Simple Woman's Daybook entry today to mark the beginning of Sabbath.

Outside my window... the light is quickly fading. Cars drive by on our newly paved road.

I am thinking... how nice it is that my hubby doesn't have to worry about work for another 24 hours.

I am thankful for... the Sabbath. We're going to try to make it to church tomorrow, provided we don't sleep through it! This has been a terrible week for sleep.

From the kitchen... a new pumpkin bread recipe is baking in the oven. Freshly ground cinnamon and nutmeg smells really good!

I am wearing... workout clothes from a walk we took earlier this afternoon.

I am creating... a peaceful atmosphere in our home with a clean house, nice music, and pumpkin bread in the oven.

I am going... to make dinner shortly.

I am reading... nothing at the moment. I just finished a book and haven't decided what I'm going to start next.

I am hoping... that Sabbath will be restful.

I am hearing... "Let My Words be Few" by Phillips, Craig, and Dean.

Around the house... is clean and relaxed.

One of my favorite things... knowing we're going to have a nice treat for dessert.

A few plans for the rest of the week... Church tomorrow and a day of relaxation. Nothing specific, though.

A picture thought

Today's sunset wasn't quite this pretty, but this is the view from our patio window. I love enjoying the sunsets!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cleaning out the closet

Thursdays are my day for working on our bedroom and the bathroom where the cat boxes are located. The basic cleaning didn't take very long so I decided to tackle my clothes. Earlier this spring, I donated a pretty big pile of clothes but I knew I still had more that I never wear. Recent posts by Lara and Karen inspired me to be brutally honest and get rid of what I don't need.

These pictures aren't very good as I couldn't back away from the closet far enough to get the right angle. Sorry about that! I tried my best. Here's what the closet looked like if you're looking toward the side.


And a Before photo looking straight into my half of the closet.


All the hanging clothes piled on the bed, waiting for me to try them all on and see what still fits. The bucket at the end of the bed contained all the winter clothes I packed away earlier this year.


The After photo looking down the closet. Doesn't look too different.


Looking into the closet. I got rid of a lot of the clothes that were piled up on the shelf. All that's left are my workout clothes and a couple pairs of pajamas.


My giveaway pile, plus there were two pairs of shoes on the floor.



All in all, I purged 28 items of clothing from my closet and 2 pairs of shoes. Most of the clothes are now too big for me. A couple of the sweaters are still too small, but they don't meet my current standards of modesty. The sneakers are really cute but they are incredibly uncomfortable and I never wear them. Why hold on to clothes and shoes that I don't wear?

So far this year, I have eliminated 169 pieces of clothing and 11 pairs of shoes from our closets. How in the world did I end up with so much and yet I still felt like I had so little to wear? Most of the clothes either didn't fit right or I didn't like them but it's hard to get rid of things that you've paid money for. In the future, I need to be more careful that I only buy what I need and what I will actually use on a regular basis.

It feels really good now that all of my clothing fits into one closet!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tagged!

Last week, Lady Rose tagged me to answer a set of questions. I've been putting off answering the questions because I had to write a poem! I haven't written in poetry in years. But today I finally came up with a little ditty.

1. If you could live in any place, where would it be? Why would you live there?
Japan! Actually, it doesn't have to be Japan, but I want to live somewhere outside of the US for a few years. I want to experience another culture, another language, and get to know people who have experienced a life completely different than mine.

2. Make a list of the five favorite activities that you like to do.
Reading my Bible, reading in general, playing with my cat, blogging, and cooking.

3. What is your most challenging household chore? Briefly explain why it is challenging for you.
Cleaning the bathroom. It's not difficult, but I find it a distasteful task. When I stay on top of my housework, it's easier. But it's still not a fun job!

4. What was the happiest day of your life (and you can't say the day you got married or engaged. Choose another day.)?
I really don't know. I would say today because God has given me another day of life and I've spent the day at home with my hubby. He was working the entire day and will be completing a project tonight as well, but we are blessed to have a job!

5. What annoys or irritates you the most (besides getting "tagged" :).
Close-mindedness. I try to be open to ideas that are different than my own and it annoys me that some people won't give me the same consideration.

6. Where do you like to "hide" when you're having a rough day?
On the couch with a good book.

7. Write a six line poem of rhyming couplets. Now tell us, was this a hard or an easy task for you and why (You know I write poetry, so you had to know this was coming :)?

Kitty jumps upon my desk
Tries to squeeze around the mess

He wants to know
When my cleaning will show

He throws a fit
And asks where he'll sit

8. What is your all-time favorite movie?
The six hour long BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice!

Tagging - I'm supposed to come up with a set of my own questions and tag someone. I'm really not sure who to tag, so if you're interested in playing, let me know! Here are your questions:

1. Who is your favorite Biblical figure and why?
2. If you drink coffee, what is your favorite drink?
3. What is your favorite book?
4. What is your favorite "comfort" meal?
5. Share your favorite Bible text and why it speaks to you.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What's On My Nightstand - November

What's On Your Nightstand I can't believe it's already time for the Nightstand post! I didn't even read everything on last month's list because I kept getting distracted by other books. Such is the life of a library addict...

For 2011, I've decided to skip reading challenges (we'll see how long that plan lasts). Instead, I'm going to read a book from each of several genres every month. I haven't decided which genres, but it will definitely include memoir, history, and Christian nonfiction. I am going to test out that idea this month and see how it goes.

Christian Nonfiction
The Surrendered Wife, by Laura Doyle

Biography
The Singular Mark Twain, by Fred Kaplan

Fiction - both of these are to fulfill challenges for 2010
Sense & Sensibility, by Jane Austen
A Blue and Gray Christmas, by Joan Medlicott

And of course I am going to continue The History of the Ancient World until it is due back at the library.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Menu Plan Monday



Menu Plan Monday is another resource I've seen around the internet but have never taken advantage of. I realized last week that posting my menu online would keep me from losing my menu somewhere in the mess that is my desk. Of course, solving the menu issue isn't an excuse to not organize my desk!

So, here is my menu for this week -

Tonight - Homemade stir fry with broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, tofu, and sweet & sour sauce
Tuesday - Subs with cucumber hummus (hummus is a new recipe)
Wednesday - Tamale pie
Thursday - Orange Style Tofu
Friday - Tofu & Pineapple Thai Yellow Curry (new recipe)
Sabbath - Spaghetti

What's on your menu?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thursdays - Master Bedroom/Bathroom

Yesterday was not nearly as productive as I had hoped. I allowed myself to not feel guilty about it as it was my birthday. I'm 28 already! I think I finally feel my age. I've always felt older than my actual age. I spent a good portion of yesterday trying not to be upset that I'm 28 and childless, but I didn't mind getting older. After all, 28 is just a number!

I don't know why I did this, but I scheduled a visit to the optometrist on my birthday. My last eye exam was in 2006 so I was overdue for new glasses. She dilated my eyes and they also took photographs of the inside of each eyeball. Very cool! My eyeballs are healthy, though my vision is worse. Yay.

After the doctor's visit, hubby took me to Chipotle. I had to stay in the car while he picked up the food, as the lights were bothering my dilated eyes. Then we came home and watched The Reading Room. I didn't realize it was a Hallmark film, but it was quite good! After that, my eyes were really tired. It might not have been a good idea to watch a movie right after doing an intensive eye exam, but I sat far away from the screen so that I could actually focus on it. Reading anything up close was impossible. It's very weird to lose your ability to focus on something within a foot of your face!

Today was much better for productivity. I forced myself off the computer, set the timer for an hour, and got to work. After lunch, I did another hour long session. I was able to wash the dishes, sweep the kitchen, vacuum the apartment, tidy the living room, make the bed, wash two loads of clothes, hang up one of those loads to dry, clean the cat boxes, sweep the master bathroom, wash off the counters, and scrub the master bathroom's toilet. Whew!

Then I sat down this afternoon and studied Japanese for an hour. I'm going to implement another aspect of study. I was thinking this morning that studying Japanese is good. However, I need to start trying to read primary material. At first I thought I would try reading the Bible in Japanese. Unfortunately, that is way over my skill level. Next time we go to the library, I will check out some children's books in Japanese. I think 3 sessions each week, 15 minutes each session, tacked onto my normal study time will be very beneficial.

My quiche is almost ready to pull out of the oven and then we'll be finishing up this week's episode of The Biggest Loser. I hope everyone else is having a great evening!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesdays - Living Room

Tuesdays are my day to work on the living room/dining room. Our dining room is actually just an extension of our living room. The "dining room" contains my desk (in all of its messiness) and our kitchen table, which is my husband's laptop desk. Sometimes I'll ask him to move so I can sew there or we will play games on that table, but most of the time it's covered in paperwork and a laptop.

Our living room has the game shelf, my husband's main desk with his desktop computer, our printer stand, sofa, and two end tables. That's it. We still live like college students and probably will for a couple more years.

Today I completed all the basic cleaning - the bar between the kitchen and dining room, dusted, vacuumed, and picked up. I was supposed to work on my desk for an hour but I got really shaky this afternoon and couldn't do anything for awhile. So my desk remains messy until next week or until I finish a room early and have extra time.

Tomorrow I'll be working on the spare bedroom. I've posted pictures of that room before, both clean and messy. Right now it's messy because I pulled out everything that had been stored in the closet. The spare bedroom is our "storage" room and we really need to get rid of everything we don't use. I can't wait until we can move into a smaller apartment because we don't need the extra storage.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday - Kitchen

I used to have a pretty decent housecleaning schedule. For some reason, I can't find the paper copy and I never typed it out on the computer. I guess I'll have to recreate it!

Mondays are Kitchen days. I still need to work out which tasks are weekly vs. monthly, but I started deep cleaning the kitchen this morning. I pulled everything out of the cupboards on one side of the kitchen, consolidated spices and bags of flour, threw away the outdated items, and wiped down the shelves and cupboard doors. That side of the kitchen looks really good now! Next Monday I will tackle the other side of the kitchen.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) I'm going to designate as Dining/Living room day. Our game shelves and my husband's desk are still pristine, which he is extremely happy about. My desk, on the other hand, is a huge mess. My main project tomorrow is going to be getting rid of all the clutter on my desk, throwing things out as necessary, filing the rest of the paperwork, and stacking the books neatly. I will also dust, vacuum, and clean the patio doors.

Hubby is at a client site right now, so I'm going to relax on the couch and try to finish The Well-Trained Mind. I'm really enjoying the book but I am ready to move on to something else! If I can get hubby's computer to work properly, I'll play a classical cd while reading. If not, I guess I'll have to use my laptop to play something.

Hopefully hubby's work goes quickly so we're not eating a late dinner. If it's late, oh well! Sub sandwiches are great at any hour.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Least Among You - A Movie Review

When I finished writing my last book review for Booksneeze, I immediately looked for the next book available. To my surprise, I found that Booksneeze was offering a movie for review! How fun.

From Amazon's product description: Leaders are not chosen, they are called. Inspired by a true story. Richard Kelly (Cedric Sanders) is a black college graduate forced to serve probation at an all-white seminary after the 1965 Watts riots. Richard is encouraged by the seminary president, Alan Beckett, to break the color line. Richard nears his breaking point when he meets Samuel (Louis Gossett, Jr.), an elderly janitor who lives in the basement of his dormitory. As Samuel guides Richard through the trials of racism and the personal life that haunts him, Richard undergoes a transformation that forces him to choose between his dreams and his destiny.

A historical film, dealing with social issues, and based on a true story? Sounds like my kind of movie!

I asked my husband to watch the movie with me so that I could hear his opinion to help me construct my review. Unfortunately, neither of us cared for the movie. While I believe it had a good social theme (treating people with kindness regardless of their skin color) and a good spiritual theme (forgiveness and making the right decisions even in the face of difficulty), we thought the movie was poorly done.

Main issues - mediocre acting, underdeveloped characters, poor lighting, choppy scenes. Mr. Kelly decides that to orchestrate change, he is going to draft an amendment for the school by-laws with the required number of student and faculty signatures. What is the amendment about? Good question. It's not very clear what Mr. Kelly was petitioning for, only that it was something about increasing the enrollment of black students and faculty.

Toward the end of the movie, Mr. Kelly undergoes a very confusing conversion scene. Immediately after, his fellow students change from hating him enough to burn a cross in Mr. Kelly's room to wanting to support Mr. Kelly's petition. Why? Why the sudden change?

My biggest complaint about this movie is that The Dove Foundation printed their seal of approval on the cover of this DVD, certifying it as "Family Approved." I would not show this movie to any child under the age of 16, if even then. The movie is rated PG-13 for "some violence, thematic elements, and brief drug material." They forgot about the main character taking the Lord's name in vain, frequent smoking and alcohol use among school faculty, a scene showing a parent physically beating their child, and a girl's dress being ripped off.

Hopefully the true events this movie was "inspired by" were more inspirational.

Disclaimer - I did receive a free copy of this movie from Book Sneeze in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook - Day 1

I've seen The Simple Woman's Daybook in a number of blogs but had never actually thought about participating. This week I thought I'd join in the fun.

Outside my window... a beautiful Arizona sunset.

I am thinking... that Sabbath is almost here!

I am thankful for... Sabbath. I love the opportunity to spend an entire day with God without worrying about the daily stresses.

From the kitchen... We are having sub sandwiches tonight with tons of fresh veggies, followed by leftovers from yesterday's homemade pumpkin pie.

I am wearing... A green skirt and a purple top. Yes, I know I don't match. Our AC is still broken so I'm wearing t-shirts instead of my normal attire.

I am creating... Nothing at the moment.

I am going... To have sundown worship after finishing this blog post.

I am reading... The Well Trained Mind. Hopefully I'll have it finished up this weekend so I can start something new!

I am hoping... That my kitty will stay healthy.

I am hearing... My husband play his DDR game.

Around the house... It is peaceful after the organizing I tackled yesterday.

One of my favorite things... Friends!

A few plans for the rest of the week... Tomorrow is the Sabbath so we'll be going to church and relaxing with God. I'll be reading a Christian book tomorrow afternoon, but I have not yet picked out which one.

Usually the daybook also includes a picture for thought, but I have no pictures to post right now.

I hope everyone has a restful time with the Lord this weekend!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

My husband

Please forgive me for gushing about my husband for a moment. See, today is his 32nd birthday. It is also our 5th anniversary. It was not intentional that we were married on hubby's birthday but I had taken a vacation day to surprise him and we ended up eloping.

I am so grateful to God for placing such a wonderful man in my life! My husband balances me. Where I am rash, he is thoughtful in making decisions. His laid back ways are perfect for countering my go-go-go attitude. We don't always see eye to eye on decisions, but we're a good match.

I love how my husband is thoughtful, kind, loving, sincere, and level headed. He loves me even when I don't like myself. I am so blessed!

This year I'm doing acts of service for his birthday gifts. Hubby is working tonight and we're not sure what time he will be done. I promised him I'd stay up and have dinner ready for him when his work is finished. He had a hard time picking an entree for his birthday dinner but he was very quick to request pumpkin pie for dessert! I have a homemade one baking as I type this.

When trying to decide what I was going to surprise him with as a gift, I thought of his desk. The poor man puts up with my clutter. Somehow, tons of my paperwork, notes, and various other items had drifted over to his desk. I thought it would be a nice surprise to clean up our game shelf, remove the games we never play, move the movies to the newly open space, and dust his desk. It's so cluttered (with my junk!) that it's gotten pretty dusty.

I'm a sucker for Before and After pictures so I took some. This first photo is of our game shelf and I was half way done cleaning the middle shelf before I remembered that I wanted photos for my blog post. Oops!

(Hopefully hubby isn't embarrassed by me posting photos of his desk, but the mess is mostly mine!)



We sold the tiny bookshelf we used for storing movies and video games so they all ended up piled on the back of hubby's desk.



And here is the front view of hubby's desk. Now that I can see the After, I can't believe he was willing to put up with it! But he didn't complain, other than to occasionally offhandedly mention that his desk was getting kind of bad.



And here is the After photo of our game and video shelves. The top shelf isn't really organized yet but I wasn't sure how much time I would have before hubby came home. I'll get to it eventually.



Here's the back of hubby's desk now that almost all of the videos are moved. He likes using a boxed set of DVDs to keep the speakers taller than the monitors.



Lastly, the front of hubby's desk. SO much better!



Hopefully he likes it!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Masquerade - A Book Review

I've put off reviewing Masquerade by Nancy Moser. I wanted to like it. I like other books by the same author (Just Jane and How Do I Love Thee?). I think Moser's books that are based on a real historical figure are better than those that are completely fiction.

When Lottie is told that she must marry an American whom she has never met in order to salvage what is left of her family’s reputation in Wiltshire, England, she sees all of her dreams of storybook love and romance crumble. Until she devises a plan. Heiress Lottie trades places with her longtime maid, Dora, and together they attempt to pull off the switch of a lifetime (from Amazon's description).

Maybe it's that I'm getting really tired of Christian historical fiction. The historical details and settings will vary from book to book, though almost everything I've read takes place in either Europe or North America and from around 1700 through 1900. Masquerade takes place in England and New York City in the year 1886.

However, the plot tends to be the same: Christian girl (who is always good looking) has weak faith. Girl meets boy (who is always good looking). She encounters difficulties in her life. She has a shallow, fairly unrealistic conversion scene. Troubles are solved. Boy and girl get together. I know that there are a only a few basic plots. But authors need to do something to break out of sameness!

The characters in this book were annoying. The only character I liked was Dora, the maid who pretends to be a lady in society. And my opinion of her dropped toward the end of the story when I saw how the romance aspect was going to be resolved.

Thank you to Bethany House for allowing me to read this book through the blogging program. Sorry, but I thought it was only a mediocre and forgettable read.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday... again.

I can't believe it's Monday. I was right that I was going to be "off" a day this week. I kept thinking it was Tuesday!

Today I once again attempted my hour of forced productivity. I shut down the computer, set the kitchen timer for an hour, and worked. It was nice! I cleaned the kitchen again (no dirty dishes!), vacuumed, cleaned out the vacuum cleaner, washed a load of laundry, folded clothes, cleaned off the bar counter, filed some paperwork, and started organizing my recipe book.

Remember this lovely binder I found for creating a recipe book? That blog post is from June. My recipes are in that binder, but they are not organized. I don't use the book much for that exact reason. Today I decided it was time to change that.



I spent a full hour today trying to find the correct template for these tabs and then trying to figure out how to get them to print so that the labels would display on both sides. But they're so pretty! I ran out of time to actually start sorting the recipes, but it's a good start. I have tabs for This Week's Recipes, Breads, Breakfast, Desserts, Entrees, and Salads. I'm not sure those will be the final labels, but I'll change things around as I figure out what works best.

Tomorrow's project - Sort through all of the recipes currently in my binder and toss the ones we don't like or no longer eat. Put the remaining recipes behind the correct tab. Eventually I'll get them all typed out in OneNote so that they are consistent from one recipe to the next instead of printed from various websites.

It's amazing how much I can accomplish once I kick myself off the internet.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Monday... on Sunday!

Today really felt like Monday. Our air conditioning died yesterday so hubby spent a couple hours this morning at the mechanics' trying to figure out what is wrong. They needed to dig deeper into the electrical system and hubby had to be at a client's office at 11:30, so we're taking the car in on Tuesday. Hubby spent the rest of the day at a client's office and is just now on his way home.

As for me, I spent a good portion of the day being productive. I closed my laptop and forced myself to work. Nice change! The laptop being closed actually keeps me productive because I know it's off limits until my break. If the laptop is open and I'm connected to the internet, I will sit down for "just one thing."

Instead, I ran a couple loads of laundry, cleaned the kitchen, cleaned out the cat boxes, and made this season's first pumpkin pie! I'm really excited to taste the pie tonight as the recipe called for freshly grated nutmeg. I actually found a whole nutmeg at the health food store and grated it myself. I've never done that before! The fresh spices smelled really good.

With our vacation a few weeks ago, I threw myself off on the habits I was working on. I'm going to start over. As I'm familiar with these habits and just need to get back into the routine, I'm going to work on all three this week. Hopefully that goes well!

Habit #1 - All dishes washed, every day. (Day 1 - check! I'm so happy that the kitchen is clean, even after making a huge mess with the pumpkin pie. I spilled cornstarch all over the counter!)
Habit #2 - Both cat boxes cleaned every day. (I'm switching this habit from the morning to anytime in the day. I found myself more likely to get it done every day if I didn't have to force myself to do it first thing in the morning.)
Habit #3 - Daily flossing. (Dentist appointment next month!)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Prayer

I started reading a book titled Where There is Love, There is God. This is a compilation of Mother Theresa's writings about God, love, prayer, faith, and other aspects of our relationship with God and with people.

One excerpt from Mother Theresa's writings really struck me.

"If our life is without prayer, it is like a house without a foundation. The other day I saw a ten storey building, beautiful, completely finished, but they had to break it down because the foundation was only for a one storey building, and they were forced to break it down - and the whole thing was completely painted and everything - but they had to break it down. Our life of prayer... let it be the foundation, the beginning. But then that life of complete surrender and loving trust, these are stories to help us climb closer, closer. And as we come, first thing: that pure heart, and that real union, that complete attachment to Christ, If that is not there, it is like building a ten storey building on a foundation made for only a one storey - and then what happens? It breaks" (pg. 17).

She also said:

"To pray we need a pure heart. Prayer is to be united to God. Why was Mary chosen? Because her heart was clean and prayer will always give us a clean heart. Often during the day, feel the need to pray - when you are washing, studying, that union with Jesus. The more you pray, the more you will love to pray" (pg. 17).

Reading these quotes came right after reading Missie's post about prayer. Missie is challenging people to set a reminder to pray on the hour, every hour.

Is God trying to tell me something? I think He's telling me that we need to spend some more time together.