Thursday, June 29, 2006

our conversations, attitudes, behaviour, response or lack of response, hardness or compassion, our love or selfishness, joy or dullness, our demostrated trust and faith or our continual despondency, our concern for others or our self pity -- all these things make a difference to the people who have to live in our environment.

From pg 209 of the paperback edition, Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer

Chapter 14 of Mrs Schaeffer's book is simply stupendous and should be read often. While she introduces the concept of *environment* by making an analogy to a new art form, what she really wants to delineate is the environment of one's own home, which is not new. I call that *atmosphere*, something which is fairly intangible, but not too difficult to put into effect. We all do it whether we want to or not. Mrs. Schaeffer continues her essay by comparing and contrasting ways in which to create this hidden art form.

This entry is copied from my xanga site where I announced my Father's Day tribute, five entries recounting a few of the many things I learned from my father.

I'm on a mission to collect and read all of Mrs. Schaeffer's books. I just checked out of the library, Affliction and The Tapestry.

Which ones do you own and like the best?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

How to say no

In a light-hearted way, I might say that I learned this tactic from my father…who does have a reputation for bringing up the opposite side of an argument for the sake of discussion. Can you say "devil's advocate?" Or it might be a gene he passed on. But, in reality, there is great comfort in his ability to assess a situation accurately and advise prudently, even if it means telling a child, a spouse, or a colleague "no." The current jingle or ad campaign *just say no* is farcical to me because rarely can one say "NO" one time (against taking drugs, drinking/driving, whatever) and have it suffice or protect. One must be able to say no over and over again. Repeatedly we are faced with situations in which we must resist evil and do the right thing. This means learning how to say no (or voting against.)  Heaven help those who don’t ask or seek counsel and proceed based on thinking that "the counselor will just say no" or say to oneself, "I'll go ahead; it's easier to ask forgiveness afterwards." Thank God I have a father who has the strength of character to say no, not in a knee-jerk, tyrannical fashion, but after careful contemplation with Biblical resolve to conserve his faith, family, and society.

He's a conservative.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sunday Dinner

The best way to top off a powerful sermon is by breaking bread together. We had nine around the dining room table today.

Fried Chicken Mrs Winners
Cheese Grits
Pole Beans, steamed
Summer Squash, sauteed w/herbs
Copper Pennies (carrot salad)
Biscuits (Mrs Winners)

Vanilla Ice Cream
Sliced Peaches
Peachtree Schnapps
Pound Cake


Friday, June 23, 2006

How not to start a sentence with why

This is a pretty simple instruction, but something I have had to work on. Thank goodness for parents who will tell children over and over again the same principle in an effort to mold their behaviors into well-rounded, Godly grown-ups. So, that's basically what this admonition is about. My father (and my mother) cautioned me against using why when asking my children why they did something. It just encourages the youngster to make up something. So, rephrase the question in an effort to zero in on the issue. It also keeps me from sounding like I'm giving someone the third degree, too.

Note to self: file under parenting, when you finally figure out how to categorize your posts :)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

How to watch TV

With your eyes closed; yes, really! Turn on the TV, and I fall asleep! Must be genetic because that's one of the memories I have…..asleep in his reclining chair, after a long, hard day's work with the TV on. I would come downstairs about 11:30 pm for a study break. Never irritated at being awakened, he'd answer any and all questions I had, we'd visit for a bit while watching Johnny Carson's monologue, and then I'd head back to the books.
But seriously speaking, while the TV might be turned onto a golf game (insert sport of the season)or an old war movie, my father, the multi-tasker is always doing something else: reading the newspaper, a book, his Bible, some newsletter; participating in a teleconference, preparing a talk, or perhaps napping. So, what did I learn from my father about television? Use discretion when choosing what you watch. Televisions are not inherently bad, the way guns are not inherently wicked…'s the way people choose to use them that makes them conduits of evil.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

How to eat eggs

Each and every morning my father rises early and eats breakfast. He thinks it's the most important meal of the day. Furthermore, he thinks that there is no better breakfast than one with eggs! First, he has a piece of fruit (half a grapefruit in winter, one quarter of a cantaloupe in summer.) Then he eats two fried eggs, two pieces of toast, a small glass of milk, and a cup of coffee. Once upon a time, bacon was on his plate, but I think that's been gone for thirty years or more. As a youngster, eggs were not my favorite food. I think I gagged on them unless I had a piece of toast. It didn't really matter. That's what was served for breakfast and that is what I ate :) That's how I learned to eat my father's example.

Eggs have gotten some bad press lately, but I maintain that they are the perfect breakfast food. They are considered a perfect protein, one which contains the eight essential amino acids. Once those are present, our body can manufacture the other 14, which helps to optimize overall metabolism. Hence, I continued my father's example by serving my children eggs for breakfast. I told them it was brain food. And remember, teachers can always tell which children have eaten a good breakfast.

Here's a fine *egg* poem by Bunyan for your morning devotion.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Choral Music

Daddy sang in his high school choral group at Woodlawn High School in Birmingham, AL. They were called The Warblers or The Minstrels. In addition, he seems to have sung with a barbershop-type quartet as well. For a while he sang with our church's choir. He always has good stories to tell about practices, performances, and reunions as far as singing goes. Furthermore, he is always willing to attend one of my daughter's choral concerts even if it's a distance away. It just makes for good discussions and connections between generations. This afternoon after Sunday dinner, we listened to Promised Land, a CD of spirituals sung by All Saints Church Choir. He knew all the songs, especially Ain-a That Good News. If you click on the link, scroll down to find the audio files. There are two choices. Listen to both :)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Sunday Feast

We always have a big *dinner* after church on Sunday. And I dont *cook* on Sunday evenings. One can eat, it's just along the lines of popcorn or a bowl of cereal.

For me part of the challenge in cooking and serving any meal is preparation ahead of time, so that I dont have to jump up and down from the table. Furthermore, for Sundays, I really prefer to finish all the prep on Saturday with only the minor things, like steaming veggies right before serving, left until mealtime.

Menus sorta come to me. I am influenced by the seasons and the weather and the tastes of my guests. I write them down and safe them. Now I know where I will put them. In my guest book! Never mind the fact that the guests dont actually get to sign their names and make comments. I'll do it!

Now, without any further delay, today we are dining on...

Chilled Georgia Shrimp served with Louis Sauce
Steamed Asparagus
Tortellini Capri
Squash Casserole
Onion Foccaccia

Iced Tea
Pinot Grigio (Barone FINI Valdadige)

Pecan Pie a la mode

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Five Things My Father Taught Me

1) How to say *no*.
2) How to watch TV.
3) How to eat eggs.
4) How to avoid starting a sentence with *why*.
5) How to appreciate choral music.

Stay tuned for the stories.

Friday, June 16, 2006


My Daddy

When Daddy signs his name
He always writes *M.D.*
That's so people all will know
That he belongs to me.
For *M.D.* means *My Daddy*
Or something just the same.
And that is why he always
Puts these letters on his name.
Some letters on his name are small,
But these are not you see.
He always makes them big like that
Because He's proud of me.

Karen Weihs

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. Ex20:12

Image Credit

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Veggie Plate Combos

What?! No suggestions for combinations. I guess y'all needed the list of choices to get your juices flowing. Choose three, then say roll or cornbread. Got it?

Steamed cabbage, green beans, broccoli, kernel corn, baked sweet potato, creamed potatoes, squash casserole, mac/cheese, carrots, black-eyed peas, collards, potato salad, waldorf salad, cucumber salad, coleslaw.

I'm having sweet potato, collards, black-eyed peas, and cornbread. And my tea is not sweet :)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Potato Salad

In keeping with my Summer Salad Fest, I'm posting this week's salad recipe in honor of the Southern Veggie Plate, which can comprise any combination of three or four veggies, hot or cold. One of my favorite places to eat out has wonderful veggies. When creating/serving a veggie plate at home, I use color as my guide and consult a nutrition book to make sure I've selected choices which will make a complete protein. So, with this potato salad recipe, I will serve green beans, sliced tomatoes or sliced cantaloupe, and cornbread or biscuits. Pickled beets would work well, too.

Potatoes, one per person, plus one for the pot, peeled and diced, cooked in pressure cooker, drained, and refrigerated until chilled
Onion, white, very small amount finely grated
Pickle, dill, diced
Mayo, Duke's (no sugar)
Mustard, prepared - whichever one your family likes, but I get rave reviews when I used one with a smoke flavor

What's your favorite veggie plate combo?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Must Go Soup

This recipe is never the same because it is based on the ingredients that MUST GO out of the refrigerator or freezer. Basically it's made from leftovers, which I prefer to call *planned-overs* and even though it's 93 degrees outside, my DH was thrilled to find out that he'd be coming home to a bowl of freshly made soup.

In a very large (8-10qt) stock pot, combine the following ingredients.

3 quarts stock (either canned, or bouillon cubes, or in this case three leftover packets of Lipton Onion Soup mix, inherited from a great aunt who closed her kitchen)

28 oz canned, diced tomatoes (you agrarians out there probably have these freshly frozen in your chest freezer in the basement)

24 oz veggie juice (or in my case, leftover bloody mary mix)

32 oz frozen veggies (I used corn and gumbo mix cuz that's what had to be cleaned out of the freezer)

16 oz other veggies I had frozen, like green beans and carrots, which are in ziplock baggies in a special basket in the freezer just for this purpose. See Amy's comment on making smoothies with leftover fruit.

1 lb browned ground beef (found it in a tupperware container in the back of the freezer)

1/2 C dry alphabet pasta (put in last and just let sit covered for 30 mins)

Cool some and then refrigerate.

As far as my method goes, I usually bring the stock to a boil and dump in the frozen items and stir. If most of your items come from a weeks worth of refrigerator leftovers (not frozen ones), just heat the liquid and veggies at the same time. I delay adding leftover rice or noodles because they will get mushy, so add those pretty close to serving time, even if it means the next day. I have been known to freeze the entire amount in a large Tupperware container. But it also does well in small individual serving containers.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Omelette Supper
We were the fortunate recipients of some free-range, organically-fed chicken eggs, and so, I decided to serve omelettes for dinner last night. I prepared the various ingredients (sliced mushrooms, green onions, grated cheddar cheese, and diced ham) ahead of time, so that one only had to beat the eggs, pour and tilt. Here's a pic of the one I served to my DH. The girls each prepared their own :)

Therefore cooking as an art - *Hidden Art*, if you want to call it so - should be recognized and then developed in everyone who has to cook, wants to cook, or could cook.Mrs Schaeffer pg 117

Years ago (6/9/73 to be exact), I dined at Mme Romaine de Lyon restaurant and bought her cookbook, The Art of Cooking Omelettes for my mother.

She recently passed it on to me and so my girls were instructed from chapter two which gives detailed instructions.

Mme says learn first principles; then recipes; and finally, style.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

June 8, 1958

This photo was taken after Sunday dinner, on the day of my baptism. There are probably a number of stories which could be told about this day, but I am going to allow the picture to speak its *thousand words.*

I do want thank my folks for their covenant faithfulness demonstrated by having me baptised as an infant. It was indeed a special time with longterm consequences.

See all the ladies wearing hats?

All the different styles of hats is my favorite part of this photo. I am the baby on the far left in the lap of my paternal grandmother. That's my older brother in the lap of my maternal grandfather. Both of those ladies died within two years of this event.

I am named after my father (tall guy behind me) and my maternal grandmother's maiden name (seated lady front extreme right).

There are two sets of godparents pictured.

There are three sets of sisters in the picture, too.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Conservatives and Religious Faith

Not all religious people are conservatives; and not all conservatives are religious people. Christianity prescribes no especial form of politics. There have been famous radicals who were devout Christians -- theough most radicals have been nothing of the sort. All the same, there could be no conservatism without a religious foundation, and it is conservative people, by and large, who defend religion in our time.

This quote is taken from the second chapter of a book written by one of my college professors, Russell Kirk in The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Conservatism.

Today I am paying attention to and praying for the primary election contests in Alabama.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Weight Watching

Another thing my mother taught me: counting calories and making wise, nutritional choices. I reckon I will struggle forever with my weight. Well, maybe not in heaven, because in my resurrected body, I expect to be 5'4" 120# and resemble myself at age 21 :)

I have the most success with my weight when I am watching it carefully. I have been way up and way down, so I have a few opinions about this topic. Key ingredients are 1)keeping a food diary 2)drinking 60 oz water daily 3)regular exercise and 4)the right attitude.

It's the last one that intrigues me, because I KNOW that I can be putting into effect the first three modifications, and yet not achieve. It's that intangible *attitude* that catches me off balance. In fact, I will even venture to postulate that the first three behaviors account for only 50% of the equation, granting a whopping 50% to the most difficult area to control: what's going on in my head (thoughts). In a subconscious way these brainwaves impact hormones, enzymes, metabolism, and digestion. Fascinating!

See ya after my walk.

Friday, June 02, 2006

How to use a blackboard

This is the final post in a series detailing a few things my mother taught me.

There were six of us born in the span of six and one half years, so there was a lot for my mother to keep up with. Besides being very organized, she knew that communication was a key ingredient. Enter the blackboard. Yup. Big black slate with white chalk hung boldly in our breakfast room. I'm guessing it was 4'x 5'. Wish I had a picture. Note to self: FIND a picture :)

The rest is very simple. On the left hand side she wrote everyone's names in a vertical column. Just after your name, there might be a message, an assignment, or *SEE ME* (that meant you were in trouble) I only remember writing on the board with permission and the main thing I was supposed to record was my whereabouts!! We lived in a neighborhood of 75 plus children

Here's an example of what might have been written on it in 1970:

Daddy (Imperial Potentate)
Moma -
Bert - Randy's playing stratomatic football
Dana - Winters back by 5
Noel - Godwins home by 6
Amanda - Michelle's
Grey - backyard
Will - backyard

The blackboard was retired in 1995, after thirty years of faithful service.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

How to make a Southern Belle Costume

Mrs. Schaeffer says From my own experience of sewing, making my own and the children's clothing, I would say that nothing gives one the possiblity of 'fitting in' with a wide variety of people like being able to say "I made it myself."

This entry makes up part four of the stories explaining what my mother taught me as queried by Donna in a Friday Five.

The short answer is that she taught me how to sew. She taught by example, by assisting, by providing lessons, and by encouraging.

Once upon a time a college-aged daughter needed a costume for a skit. The skit was set in the ante-bellum South. This is where my memory gets a little fuzzy because the college was in Michigan (what do *they* know about the South?) and I cant remember the songs or story lines, but suffice it to say that it was for a rush party. I wish I had a picture for my dear readers.

My mother tore apart one of her *old* party gowns which we used as pattern pieces for my costume. The dress turned out well. Not only did I wear it for the skit, but I also wore it to a costume party on my first *real* date with my now DH. My daughters played dress-up with it later.

While sewing is not one of my favorite tasks (frequently I have to rip out a seam), I am accomplished at it, having made anything from a lined bathing suit to a french machine-sewn cotton bastiste little girl's dress complete with inlaid lace bow. In my party days, I made all my evening dresses. I found a certain pattern which was flattering on me and then made it with four different fabrics: red velvet, white, floral and plaid.

Am I passing this talent on to my own daughters? Well, maybe...maybe not. They all have sewing boxes complete with their own sets of Gingher scissors. And I have made with each individually a sundress, which we wore for a family photo. They all can hem a dress and sew on a button. They havent had lessons, but there is still time for that, as they are young :) And, I'm only a phone call away.

Do you own a sewing machine?