A-Z Homemaking Meme

Back in the early days of blogging, someone would frequently start what they called a meme of interesting questions, tag their friends, and pass it around. It was a fun way to interact and get to know each other, but for whatever reason, they kind of fell by the wayside over time. But someone has started (or resurrected?) a new one that Susanne tagged me for, and I’m happy to participate.

Aprons – Y/N If Y what does your favorite look like?

I rarely wear aprons. I just don’t think to get it out. Around the house I often wear denim dresses, which show remarkably little staining. Recently I’ve gotten a couple of lighter-colored summer dresses, and I have started wearing an apron with them if I am cooking something messy (like spaghetti). The one I have been using is leftover from the days when Jim’s mom ate regular food at the table but was not always coordinated feeding herself – we used an apron rather than a bib for her, thinking she might feel a little humiliated about a bib. It’s just a plain denim one.

Baking – Favorite thing to bake?

Cookies! I am not so good at cakes and haven’t tried yeast breads since early marriage, though quick breads turn out ok.

Clothesline – Y/N

Nope. I like the smell of clothes hung to dry outside, and we used to have a clothesline, but after developing allergies and battling not only pollen but bird poop and inadvertently bringing in bugs with the clean clothes, I decided it wasn’t worth it.

Donuts – Have you ever made them?

Only the quickie cheating kind where you take canned biscuits and poke a hole in the middle and then fry them and frost or sprinkle, and haven’t done that in ages.

Everyday – One homemaking thing you do everyday?

There are always dishes to wash even if we’ve eaten out.

Freezer – Do you have a separate deep freeze?

Just got one this year and LOVE it and don’t know how I lived without one.

Garbage Disposal – Y/N

Yes. This is our first house to have one.

Handbook – What is your favorite homemaking resource?

These days, the Internet. It’s so easy to look up what to substitute for something you’re out of or how to get out a certain stain or whatever. I used to keep files of tips taken from magazines, but nowadays it would take longer to find what I need there than just looking it up online. I had various homemaking books in early marriage but can’t remember what they were.

Ironing – Love it or hate it?

Neither extreme but closer to hate than love. :)

Junk drawer- Y/N – Where is it?

I was thinking I had more than one, but most of them actually do have a purpose and are designated for certain things even if other things are in there. The one main one is in the kitchen.

Kitchen – Color and decorating scheme?

This kitchen doesn’t have any wall space, so I don’t have any decorations on the wall there. Here is a picture I took of it before we moved in (it is not quite camera-ready right now. :)

The counter tops and part of the back-splash are grey. What decorations I do have in there have pink and blue accents, as do my dishes. This is my favorite little corner, though the little pitcher has flowers in it now.


I also like to have little things on the kitchen windowsill and change then out according to the season.


I like pretty decorations just for their prettiness, but I especially like the ones with meaning. The little Boyd’s Bear figurine is a grandmother and grandson with a cookie they’ve just made, given to me on Mother’s Day (my first one as a grandmother). The clear rectangle Jesse gave me last Christmas. It has a laser-etched group of hummingbirds inside, and I love when the light shines the colors into the sink. The little stick-on birdfeeder and hummingbird feeder on the outside are new additions.

Love – What is your favorite part of homemaking?

Completion. :) I can’t say I enjoy most homemaking tasks in themselves, but once I get started I’m fine, especially if I put on some music or an audiobook. I do love setting things to rights and bringing the chaos back into order and I love the feeling when the kitchen is cleaned up or the bathrooms have just been done, etc. If we’re talking about more than just cleaning, decorating is my favorite part of making a house into a home.

Mop – Y/N

I use a Swiffer Wet Jet. Love not having to deal with a bucket of water.

Nylons – Wash by hand or in washing machine?

I never wear nylons any more, even with dresses. Most people here don’t. If I were going somewhere really super-formal, maybe I would then, and I’d wash them by hand.

Oven – Do you use the window to check on things or do you open the door?

Most often the door, though I know heat is lost that way. Occasionally the window.

Pizza – What do you put on yours?

Most often sausage and peperoni. I love a meaty pizza, and a couple of local restaurants have pizzas with four or five kinds of meat on them, which I love.

Quiet – What do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment?

Read, spend some time on the computer or my phone apps, nap.

Recipe Card Box – Y/N

No. I have cookbooks and notebooks. I do have an old file box I need to clean out.

Style of house

The house itself is a ranch. Other than that there’s not much I can think of to describe the style of the house itself. If the question means decorating, I’ve often described it as being between country and Victorian. I’d like to get further away from the “country” look, and I don’t like the fussiness of Victorian, so I don’t know exactly how I’d describe my decorating style now. I used to get a magazine called Romantic Homes whose style I really liked, and I’ve incorporated some of what I saw there over the years.

Tablecloth and napkins – Y/N

Pretty much only on holidays, maybe on special occasions if I think of it. For regular everyday meals we use paper napkins.

Under the kitchen sink – Organized or toxic wasteland?

It is fairly organized just now since we recently had a leak under there and had to clean everything out in order for it to be worked on.

Vacuum – How many times per week?

I am ashamed to say not even once a week (blush!) We have more hardwood floors than carpet, and most of the carpet doesn’t show anything, though I should vacuum more just for the sake of dust.

Wash – How many loads per week?

About 8, not including my mother-in-law’s stuff.

X’s – Do you make a daily to-do list and check it off as you do things?

Not daily but usually weekly unless it is a super-busy day, and I love to cross things off. As Susanne said, if I end up doing something I didn’t have on the list, I do sometimes write it down after the fact just for the pleasure of crossing it off.

Yard – Y/N – Who does what?

My husband and youngest son do all of the yard work. I water the flowers (unless my husband beats me to it) and cut or pinch off the dead blooms.

Zzz’s – What is the last homemaking task you do for the day before you go to bed?

Usually gather up any evening snack dishes and take them to the sink. If the dishwasher was nearly full at dinner, sometimes I’ll go ahead and put the evening cups and such in and start it before going to bed.

That was fun! Thanks for tagging me, Susanne! I’ll tag Dianna, Monica, Becka, and Ann. Please don’t feel obligated – I won’t be offended if you don’t like to do this type of thing. Not knowing if people would be interested is the one thing that keeps me from tagging more people, but if anyone reading would like to do this, let me know and I’ll come read your answers.

My 8th Blogiversary!

Photo Courtesy of marthastewart.com

Photo Courtesy of marthastewart.com

It’s hard to believe I have been blogging for 8 years!

Our family has experienced a lot of life changes in that time: high school and college graduations, a wedding, a grandson, a mother-in-law moving in from out of state and then into our home, surgeries, a move to a different state, crossing from the forties into the fifties. More grey hair, more wrinkles, hopefully a little more wisdom and experience.

When I first stepped into the blogosphere eight years ago yesterday, the blogging community for the most part felt more like neighbors chatting across the backyard fence than a business, and I’ve endeavored to share my “stray thoughts” about family, home, Christianity, and just about anything else I find interesting or amusing with other online neighbors. I’ve always wished I had come up with a more creative name, but it still aptly describes the content. I’ve been amazed and so grateful that anyone has stopped by at all to read, and that some of you have stayed for years amazes me even more. Occasionally I’ll read blogging advice articles and wonder if I should think more about my “niche” and “platform,” but then I think…nah. If I ever need to have a professional blog for any reason, I’ll probably start a new one: I hope to keep this one as a personal and  hodgepodgy place to fellowship.

I’m so thankful for any way in which God has redeemed and used anything here.

Thank YOU so much for reading and commenting! Thank you for your patience with my foibles, your words of encouragement, your prayers through our various family crises. Without you this wouldn’t be much more than an online journal. You make it both more fun and more of a blessing.

In appreciation, I am going to host a little giveaway of one of a couple of different gifts to two different winners. I traditionally like to give away something that I have enjoyed, so I am going to offer a copy of the book Women of the Word by Jen Wilkins (linked to my review)



…and a copy of the Galkin Evangelistic Team‘s CD Be Still. It is actually a set of two CDs. One has very peaceful and soothing instrumental settings of various hymns and spiritual songs, and the other has Scripture readings with the same music as background. You can hear clips of the songs on the CD  at the Galkin’s site here or on iTunes or Amazon.

Be Still

For many months this has been my go-to CD while puttering in the kitchen, especially on Sunday mornings, and it has greatly ministered to me.

If you’d like to be entered for either of these gifts, just leave a comment below. Let me know if you have a preference for one or the other and whether you’d like the electronic or physical versions (you would need a Kindle app for your computer, phone, or tablet for the electronic version of the book, but the apps are free). I can only send the physical versions to US addresses (and possibly Canada – will have to check on shipping prices there), but the electronic versions can of course be sent anywhere. And this isn’t required, but just for fun in your comment let me know how you first came across “Stray Thoughts” and how long you’ve been reading here. I’ll draw a name using random.org a week from today (August 4).

Thank you, once again, for a very enjoyable eight years.

Laudable Linkage

Here are some noteworthy reads discovered this week:

Testing Your Faith in Divine Intervention. On blaming God instead of people when tragedies happen and on why God does not always intervene, among other things.

The Kind of Complaint That’s Pleasing to God. HT to Challies. “If the Father appeared and spoke with us face to face, his words would have no more weight in our hearts than the ones he has already spoken. If we find his words in Scripture to fall short, we would also find his personal visitation unsatisfactory.”

The Myth of God’s Silence.

How to (and How Not to) Minister to Families Battling Cancer.

22 Facts About Sleeping That Will Surprise You.

This had me smiling:

Happy Saturday!

FFF spring2

It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends. Wow, it’s hard to believe we’re so near the end of July! Here are some of the favorite parts of the past week or so:

1. Jason’s birthday. As new parents, they’re not getting out much, so it was a joy not only to celebrate his birthday but just to get together.

2. Getting to hold this little guy again:


3. Taking up my stitching again. I think I put it aside at Christmastime. I don’t know why it took me so long to take it back up.


4. Vacation Bible School. We don’t have children young enough to be in it and can’t participate except through small contribution and prayers, but the coordinator has been sending e-mail updates after each night’s events. It has been wonderful to hear of the gospel going out, the children being responsive, a few of them coming to know the Lord, and a number of behind-the-scenes ministries.

5. Getting started on a new project, one I have been contemplating for a long time. It takes me nearly forever to decide what I want to do on things like this, and I have a tendency to make it more complicated, but I finally have an idea in mind and have started on it. I hope to be, if not finished, at least far enough along to show a picture next week.

Happy Friday!

“But if not…”

Since our pastor has been diagnosed with cancer and given only 6 months or so to live, he has had a couple of sessions of combined adult Sunday School classes in order to discuss with us some issues and some of his vision and burden for us. A couple of weeks ago he was feeling poorly enough not to be able to make it for Sunday School for one of these sessions. Our assistant pastors took that opportunity to share a bit of their perspective and then a few men prayed for the family. That time was greatly beneficial and therapeutic for me: outside of our own family and sharing of thoughts on blogs or Facebook with other members, I hadn’t really had a chance to partake of that kind of sharing and praying together. Though I’m sorry our pastor was feeling so sick that day, I think the time was very well spent.

Though those who prayed aloud mentioned varying aspects – the pastor’s physical needs, grace for his wife and family, his two daughters who were getting married in what was supposed to have been one of the best summers of their lives, direction for the youngest daughter scheduled for college in the fall, and many others – there was a recurring theme in several of them. They prayed for the miracle of healing (and it would take a true miracle) and promised to give God the glory for it, but, acknowledging that might not be God’s will, prayed for His grace for the family and our church.

I’ve known some who belittle the Christian faith to point to this kind of praying as a lack of faith, as providing an “out” if God doesn’t answer prayer the way we ask, or even a lack of evidence for God since we can explain away the lack of an answer with it’s not being God’s will. But that’s not why we pray that way. We have good Biblical precedent.

In Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were threatened with being thrown in a fiery furnace if they did not bow down and worship the king’s golden image. They refused and replied, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (verses 17-18).

Jesus, in the garden of Gethsemane the night before He was crucified, prayed, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” “Luke 22:42).

Someone once said, “Prayer is asking God to align you with His will rather than asking Him to be aligned with yours.”

Can God heal someone diagnosed with cancer and only months to live? Sure. Why doesn’t He do so every time we ask Him to? I don’t know.

In Goforth of China when Rosalind recounted their miraculous deliverance during the Boxer rebellion, she had been asked why God didn’t deliver all the missionaries in China at that time. Some were horribly murdered. She responded:

Truly a vital question, which could not lightly be set aside! Humbly and prayerfully we pondered this “Why” in the light of Scripture. In the twelfth chapter of Acts, we read of Herod’s succeeding in putting James to death by the sword, and directly after comes the story of how Herod was hindered in carrying out his intention to kill Peter who was delivered by a miracle. Then who could read that marvelous eleventh chapter of Hebrews with its record of glorious martyrdom and miraculous deliverances without being thrilled? In face of these and many other passages, while still unable to answer the “why” we saw our Almighty God used His own prerogative to glorify His name whether in the glorious martyrdom of some or in the miraculous deliverance of others (p. 129-130).

James was killed while Peter was delivered. Uriah was killed while David lived. Many Hebrew babies died while Moses was rescued. Not only was Moses answered “no” to his request to see the Promised Land, but God admonished him not to speak about it any more. Jesus escaped Herod while the rest of the children under 2 in Bethlehem were slaughtered. Many people were healed, but God answered Paul’s request for deliverance with a “No” and a promise of His grace instead. The people in the first part of Hebrews 11 experienced glorious deliverance: the people at the end experienced trials, mocking, imprisonment, stoning, being sawn asunder, homelessness, “being destitute, afflicted, tormented” – yet these were included with the rest as “having obtained a good report through faith” (verse 39) even though they weren’t delivered.

Sometimes there are reasons why prayer isn’t answered, or at least isn’t answered the way we’d like. God has many reasons for allowing suffering, but we can’t know all the reasons or see the big picture of what He is doing in the world or even in the life of any one person and his or her sphere of influence. But those who know Him can trust Him as a father. Even the best of fathers has to sometimes say “no.”

Why does God have to use such means to accomplish His purposes? Somewhere I read that Elisabeth Elliot wrote that, though she had heard many wonderful stories of how God used her husband Jim’s death in many people’s lives, that knowledge still didn’t really satisfy. Didn’t God save people and call them to His service through other means than someone’s death? Sure, all the time. Why was that required this time? She didn’t know, but she trusted that God had His reasons. In “Thy Calvary Still All Our Questions” in the book Rose From Brier, Any Carmichael wrestled with this:

This is a Why? of a different order from that of the little mosquito. It is immeasurable greater. It strikes at the root of things. Why is pain at all, and such pain? Why did God ask Satan the question which (apparently) suggested to the Evil One to deal so cruelly with an innocent man? Why do the innocent so often suffer? Such questions generally choose a time when we are in keen physical or mental suffering, and may (the questioner hopes will) forget our comfort. They seize us like fierce living things and claw at our very souls.

Between us and a sense of the pain of the world there is usually a gate, a kind of sluice gate. In our unsuffering hours it may be shut fast. Thank God, it is shut fast for tens of millions. But let severe pain come, and it is as though the torture in us touched a secret spring, and the door opens suddenly, and straight upon us pour the lava floods of the woe of a Creation that groans and travails together….

O Lord, why?

After considering several answers which did not really satisfy her, she wrote,

But, though, indeed, we know that pain nobly born strengthens the soul, knits hearts together, leads to unselfish sacrifice (and we could not spare from our lives the Christ of the Cross), yet, when the raw nerve in our own flesh is touched, we know, with a knowledge that penetrates to a place which these words cannot reach, that our question is not answered. It is only pushed farther back, for why should that be the way of strength, and why need hearts be knit together by such sharp knitting needles, and who would not willingly choose relief rather than the pity of the pitiful?

…What, then, is the answer? I do not know. I believe that it is one of the secret things of the Lord, which will not be opened to us till we see Him who endured the Cross, see the scars in His hands and feet and side, see Him, our Beloved, face to face. I believe that in that revelation of love, which is far past our understanding now, we shall “understand even as all along we have been understood.”

And till then? What does a child do whose mother or father allows something to be done which it cannot understand? There is only one way of peace. It is the child’s way. The loving child trusts.

I believe that we who know our God, and have proved Him good past telling, will find rest there. The faith of the child rests on the character it knows. So may ours, so shall ours. Our Father does not explain, nor does He assure us as we long to be assured… But we know our Father. We know His character. Somehow, somewhere, the wrong must be put right; how we do not know, only we know that, because He is what He is, anything else is inconceivable. For the word sent to the man whose soul was among lions and who was soon to be done to death, unsuccored, though the Lord of Daniel was so near, is fathomless: “And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me.”

There is only one place we can receive, not an answer to our questions, but peace — that place is Calvary. An hour at the foot of the Cross steadies the soul as nothing else can. “O Christ beloved, Thy Calvary stills all our questions.” Love that loves like that can be trusted about this.

There are many strong and positive verses about prayer that we can rely on, yet we have to include “if it be Thy will” and trust that even if God doesn’t heal or deliver or provide like we wanted Him to, He is still good and wise and accomplishing His purpose.

God is doing good things in our own church and across the country through our pastor’s situation. One of our church members has shared some of those things. If you feel led, I’m sure all involved would appreciate your prayers. In addition, some are attempting to help raise funds for the family’s needs through https://www.idoitfor.org/Tom/.


Adventures of Sherlock HolmesThe Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a collection of short stories published after the first two novels. All were originally published in magazines. I’m not a great fan of short stories, but it was a nice break to have each case end with the chapter rather than having novel-long plots and twists and characters to keep up with. I enjoyed the audiobook read very nicely by actor Derek Jacobi.

The format of the stories is much the same as the novels. The ones in this volume are not told in chronological order: some occured while Watson still lived with Homes, others occured after Watson married. At the beginning of many of them Watson explained why he chose to chronicle that particular case out of the many Holmes had solved. Though there are similar characteristics in each story, Doyle did an excellent job in keeping them from becoming formulaic and predictable. Some involve the police, some don’t. In a few Holmes let the perpetrator go for various reasons (in one, the man did not have long to live; another involved a young man whom Holmes thought would go right after the scare of almost getting into big trouble). Some involved a crime that had already been done, some involved a crime that had yet to be committed, some involved other mysteries.

This book contains twelve stories: probably the most notable is “A Scandal in Bohemia” for the mention of Irene Adler. Some portrayals of this story of Holmes cast her as a love interest, but in this story she is not that. He admires her wit, which rivals his own, and the fact that she is one of very few people who have ever outsmarted him. In fact, Watson says,

It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind. He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen, but as a lover he would have placed himself in a false position. He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer. They were admirable things for the observer — excellent for drawing the veil from men’s motives and actions. But for the trained reasoner to admit such intrusions into his own delicate and finely adjusted temperament was to introduce a distracting factor which might throw a doubt upon all his mental results. Grit in a sensitive instrument, or a crack in one of his own high-power lenses, would not be more disturbing than a strong emotion in a nature such as his.

I thought it interesting, after wondering aloud in my review of The Sign of Four whether a genius in one area has to be unbalanced in others, that Watson says Holmes has a “precise but admirably balanced mind” while explaining that emotions were “abhorrent” to him — which seems a little unbalanced to me. :)

I enjoyed more unfolding of Holmes’ personality. Some accounts I’ve read cast him as manic-depressive or autistic, but I think (at least so far) that he was just a classic introvert. He claims Watson as his only actual friend, spends a great deal of time alone and thinking, but can be genial and even soothing when he needs to be. Some modern versions also portray him as rude, but in these first three books I haven’t seen that, at least that I can remember.

I’m glad that more modern versions of Holmes’ stories cast Watson as a strong character rather than a doddering old man who is only along as a sidekick. He is a skilled doctor and apparently handy with a revolver (from his army days) since Holmes asks him to bring it along for particularly dangerous cases.

I’m trying to read the Holmes stories in publication order, and the next is another collection of short stories, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. I may skip ahead to The Hound of the Baskervilles, which I’ve been particularly wanting to get to. I don’t think the reader will lose anything by reading them in any order: I just wanted to partake of them as the general public would have at first in order to see how they unfold. But I’ll put off that decision for a little while in order to take a break from Holmes to participate in the Austen in August challenge.

(This will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)

Austen in August

I just saw yesterday, while perusing the What’s on Your Nightstand posts, that Lost Generation Reader is sponsoring an Austen in August reading challenge (HT to Bluerose). As the name indicates, the idea is to read something by or about Jane Austen during the month of August. Since I’ve already started Just Jane, a novelization of her life by Nancy Moser, I’m delighted to be able to jump in without straining much from the other challenges I am participating in this year. I’ll also listen to Northhanger Abbey via audiobook. I have more Austen books both on hand and in my audiobook library, so after I finish these two I’ll decide if I want to add any more.


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