Sunday, July 31, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge~~Update

Man of the House and I are reading Oedipus the King together. It's his very favorite book of all time, so I'm hoping to benefit from his knowledge and enthusiasm. But we didn't get very far this week, so I'll just keep it posted as the current book until we do finish along with the book I'm reading by myself. Hopefully next week I'll have two books to write about. :-)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} ~ July 28, 2011

{Pretty}

Remember when I showed you the living room newly put together and said I needed to do something more for a centerpiece on the dining table? This is what I did:





I already had these three little vases (there is a fourth one, but it hasn't emerged from the box it was packed in yet). I bought the flowers at Jo-Ann Fabrics on clearance. I think they were 75 cents. I got the candlesticks in a shop in a nearby town that specializes in gift-y type things but had some antiques too. They were $6 for the pair. I know brass isn't "in" right now, but I like brass and thought they would look good with the yellow walls. I was right! The candles came from my mother-in-law. She gave me a big box of them when we were helping clear out their house before a move. I like the twistiness! I'd still like to get or make a table runner, but this is much better than the cakestand alone, don't you think?

{Happy}

I bought this today! Isn't it great? I've wanted something like this for a long time. Man of the House and I spotted it at Michael's for half off, so we got it. You can't really tell in the picture, but the background is chalkboard green. Now to find just the right place for it . . .



{Funny}

Know what this is? Take a guess; I'll wait. *waits*



Nope, it's the insert for a clerical collar. Man of the House calls it a plastic smile. LOL I suppose they were made of linen at one point, and I suppose you can still get them in linen, but the manufacturer includes two plastic ones with every clerical shirt they sell. I guess they tend to get lost so the company sends two, but Man of the House never loses anything so he has quite a pile of them in his sock drawer now.

{Real}

This is the kind of picture I get when I hurriedly try to snap a shot of Girl of the House before she ducks and runs for cover. I obviously failed to achieve my goal. :-(





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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My Family

I was tagged for this by Girl of the House. Bear with me. ;-)

I'm supposed to give what I think are correct answers for each family member for the following categories:

MAN OF THE HOUSE

Favourite book: Oedipus the King by Sophocles
Favourite song: "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off"
Favourite hobby: Brewing, reading
Favourite movie: The Godfather Trilogy
Favourite colour: Black
Favourite animal: Cat, turtle
Favourite pet name: Capn Salty

GIRL OF THE HOUSE

Favourite book: To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
Favourite song: "Defying Gravity" or that "loathing" song from Wicked
Favourite hobby: Writing, reading, quilting, making graphics
Favourite movie: Harry Potter series
Favourite colour: Blue
Favourite animal: Cats and dogs
Favourite pet name: Boo-boo

GIRL OUT OF THE HOUSE

Favourite book: Harry Potter series
Favourite song: Something by Nightwish
Favourite hobby: Reading, cooking
Favourite movie: Pan's Labyrinth
Favourite colour: Green
Favourite animal: Cats
Favourite pet name: Anne-girl from us, Sunny from That Boy

THAT BOY

Favourite book: The Odd Thomas books by Dean Koontz
Favourite song: That song from the video game that he asked Girl Out of the House to learn on the piano for him
Favourite hobby: Designing video games, playing with the cat
Favourite movie: Iron Man
Favourite colour: Red
Favourite animal: Cat
Favourite pet name: That Boy lol

So, how'd I do? :-)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge~~Books #28 and #29


One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn is not the kind of book I normally read voluntarily. I don't like delving into the intense suffering of others. The world can be very, very bleak ~ why should I read about it when I don't have to? Don't I get enough of that in that daily news? But wow! Am I glad I read this book. Solzhenitsyn is a master storyteller.

The book really does depict just a single day in the life of Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. It's a slice of life but not of a life any of us would want for ourselves. Through Shukhov's eyes we are given a view of a Soviet forced labor camp in the last days of Stalin's rule in 1953. We see how the prisoners contrive to survive cruel Siberian winters, overwork, and underfeeding. They develop their own micro-society, including a class/power hierarchy and an economy based on personal property. Nevermind that two main tenets of socialism abolish those societal structures.

Solzhenitsyn wrote this book based on his own experiences in a Soviet labor camp. Solzhenitsyn's camp is Shukhov's camp. One Day was the first widely distributed account of such a prison and was specifically mentioned when Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970. The writing is clear, plain, and powerful. The author gives us many subtle insights into the prisoners' methods of survival under such dire circumstances as he relates the happenings of the day. Though this type of book is not usually my cup of tea, I found it engaging and thought-provoking. I give it a definite thumbs up.

Oh, and Harry Potter ~ what can I say? I wanted to read and/or listen to the book before seeing the final movie installment, which didn't happen as we saw it when I was about halfway through. Oh, well. I stilled enjoyed both book and movie immensely. Do I need to say more? Those of you who love HP can get much better reviews elsewhere, and those of you who hate it are glad it's finally over and don't want to read more about it! So I'll say no more. lol

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real ~ July 21, 2011

{Pretty}

Rainbows were a semi-regular occurance in our old house. There was something about the angle of the light in the evening and the situation of the front porch that made seeing rainbows not uncommon. I've seen more rainbows from our front porch in fifteen years than I've seen in the rest of my life combined. This one is a double!



{Happy}

Sheets on the line make me happy. The fragance of sheets fresh from the line makes me happier still.



{Funny}

The "funny" category is hardest for me each week because we don't have cute little kids doing amusing things anymore. However, we do have an amusing cat who likes to sleep in the weirdest positions. Being black, he's hard to photograph, though!





{Real}

The thermometer at our kitchen window. The heat has been record-breaking this week.



Man of the House, Girl of the House, and I manned the Lutherans for Life booth at the county fair for three hours today ~ three hot, sticky hours. But we survived and helped to keep the pro-life message before the public. The discomfort was a small sacrifice . . . though I am happy to be home in the air conditioning once again!



Join the fun at Like Mother, Like Daughter and see an oh-so-adorable baby!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

From My Commonplace Book


"People forgot that the human soul can enjoy a thing most when there is time to think about it and be thankful for it."~~G.K. Chesterton

"There is a good deal to be said for excluding literature from school curricula altogether. I am not sure that the best way to make a boy love the English poets might not be to forbid him to read them and then make sure that he had plenty of opportunities to disobey you."~~C.S. Lewis

"The ordinary arts we practice everyday at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest."~~Thomas More

"To live within a just order is to live within a pattern that has beauty. The individual finds purpose within an order, and security-whether it is the order of the soul or the order of the community. Without order, indeed the life of man is poor, nasty, brutish, and short."~~Russell Kirk

"Gargantuanism and the care of souls cannot coexist."~~Thomas Chalmers

"I am always hopeful that the pendulum will swing back and that women will see again not only the necessity of a mother's being at home, but also the infinite and rich choice in that occupation for women of all ages. Some will complain of monotony, but how few going out to a paid job have the opportunity to make their own schedules, to choose the routine of their week's labor, to follow up creative interests that women have within the home. Our ever-present disciplines, the pattern of creaturely necessities-cooking, laundry, decently clean houses-are a blessing. Beyond the physical care of the family, for better or worse we are shaping souls and characters. women learn slowly the magnitude of their influence. Perhaps we would be more contented if we could realize that one of the few remaining free prefessions is that of a housewife. If a woman resents being just a housewife, let her be called an artist . . ."~~Josephine Moffett Benton

Sunday, July 17, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge~~Book #27


Sixpence in Her Shoe by Phyllis McGinley is a book after my own heart. I loved it! In it, McGinley sings the praises of domesticity, and though I didn't agree with her in every little point, I did agree heartily with the major thrust of the book ~ that caring for home and family is an endeavor worthy of our best efforts and expenditures in time, intelligence, and creativity.

McGinley divides the book into three main spheres of a woman's domestic life: the wife, the house, and the family. In chapters with such titles as "How Not to Kill Your Husband," "What Cookbooks Don't Tell You," and "Keeping Up with the Joneses, Jr.," she covers everything from how to be a good car passenger, how to buy good furniture on the cheap, and what to look for in children's literature, plus much, much more. What most intrigued me about Sixpence in Her Shoe was the time it was written: 1960, just a few years before The Feminine Mystique was published but far enough into the modern feminist movement that the author frequently writes to defend the domestic woman who still wants to cook dinner for her family and take care of her babies herself. She also writes about contemporary trends she sees as dangerous, including children being smothered with too many material possessions, schools divvying students up according to rigid standardized test results, juvenile literature that has been dumbed down and stripped of anything interesting, and kitchens that serve more as showcases than as places to do the often messy work of preparing food. (Okay, that last one is probably not dangerous, but it is foolish, in her view . . . and mine too.) What struck me is how these trends have grown in spades since 1960. What would the author think if she were alive today?

McGinley was a well known writer who won a Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1961. Sixpence in Her Shoe is skillfully written and is also a pleasure to read from a literary standpoint. She makes many allusions to the Bible and classical literature that I'm afraid would be lost on most of today's audience, but sadly, I don't think this book would have been published in today's climate anyway. However, I rank it as one of the best books I've read all year, right up there with Keeping House by Margaret Kim Peterson (#13 on my Reading Challenge list). I value books that value me and my role as wife and mother. Happily, Sixpence in Her Shoe does just that.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real ~ July 14, 2011

{Pretty}

Before we arrived at the parsonage, an anonymous person or persons (may he/they live forever) spruced up the yard and tidied up the landscaping, including hanging these beautiful flowers. It was a thoughtful gesture that made me feel welcome. I love the colors!




{Happy}

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! There are two bathrooms in this house, a blessing we have not had in all our (nearly) twenty-four years of marriage. But alas, one of the bathrooms has no storage except a medicine cabinet~not an under-sink cabinet, not a closet, nothing. So I had the idea to use this terrific, vintage, metal cabinet a friend gave me a number of years ago. In our old house, it was hidden away and used for food storage, but in this house it would sit out in the open, so it needed a facelift. So two cans of primer and six (!) cans of spray paint later, it looks like this (sorry, I can't get far enough away from it to get a really good picture):



The walls were already light blue, so I decided to continue the yellow and blue theme from the living room. There is still more to do in this room (I will show you when it's finished), but I'm happy with how this project turned out.

Another picture for your viewing pleasure:



{Funny}

A few years ago, Girl Out of the House went to England. Her flight left from Boston, so those of us who (sadly!) didn't get to go to England stayed a few days and saw some of the Boston sites. I bought this in a shop along the Freedom Trail. We are all ardent tea drinkers, so this tickled my funnybone. I've put it on my kitchen windowsill for now, but I'd like to find a more satisfactory and permanent home for it.



{Real}

And now I'd like your advice. Here's a corner of the kitchen:



'Tis bland. 'Tisn't cheery. Yes, the chairs and table don't match and there are two outlets in the same wall. Something needs to be done. Steps need to be taken. Since it opens onto the living room and hallway, it too will be painted yellow, but I want to paint a chalkboard onto one or both of these walls. We need it for homeschooling and we gave away our former chalkboard before we moved, one of those little preschool easles with a chalkboard on one side and a whiteboard on the other. But I'm not sure how much of the wall(s) to turn into a chalkboard. I think we will definitely do the big wall from about three or four feet from the floor to about two feet from the ceiling, but should we do the other wall too? If so, should it wrap around the corner or be two separate areas? Do you have any other ideas? I'd love to hear them! :-)



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Sunday, July 10, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge~~Book #26


Besides being a pastor, Man of the House is also a classicist. That means that whenever one of our girls is learning about ancient history and literature at the high school level, he teaches it since he is the expert. It's very convenient to be married to my very own classicist, but there's one drawback: I never had the necessity to read that literature myself. Except for reading Homer's Odyssey in high school, that area of literature is unknown to me. Agamemnon by Aeschylus was my first attempt to remedy that situation. Man of the House tells me that that is not where he would have had me start, but he gamely read it aloud with me anyway, divvying up the parts between us. I now agree with his assessment. I probably have should started with something a wee bit more interesting, like Sophocles' Oedipus the King (his suggestion). I had expected a little more action and less obfuscating talking. Man of the House tells me it picks up somewhat in the second and third parts of the trilogy, so I will believe him and give them a try at some point.

Am I sorry I bothered to read it? No, not at all! This area of my education really does need some shoring up, and I'm glad I've begun doing that at long last. But if you feel like I do, take Man of the House's word for it and start with Oedipus the King instead. ;-)

By the way, we are halfway through the year and, with Agamemnon under my belt, I'm right on track for reaching my goal of 52 books in 52 weeks. I am also back on track after our move and am hoping to keep to my original plan of posting a book review each weekend. :-)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real ~ July 8, 2011

I hope the good ladies at Like Mother, Like Daughter, who host this feature, won't mind that I'm a day late joining in the fun. I just ran out of time yesterday to post.

{Pretty} and {Happy}

Except for a few finishing touches, the living room in our new house is complete! Man of the House and I hung the curtains yesterday, so now I'm ready to show you some pictures. Tell me what you think!

























I want to get a wall decal to go over the piano. There are so many neat ones I'm having difficulty choosing! Also, the big wall in the dining area is still blank because I have to paint a shelf before it or anything else can be hung. We are also going to keep our eyes open for a china cabinet. In our old house, you may remember, there were built-ins in which I displayed my china. Most of it is still packed away until we have a place for it. The china cabinet will go where Girl of House's hope chest is, and the hope chest will go . . . who knows? We'll have to figure that out. And something more needs to be done about a centerpiece, but I lack inspiration at the moment. Any ideas?

The valances are Waverly's Imperial Dress Porcelain design. I spotted them one day at Lowe's and liked them immediately because it tied the blue/yellow color scheme together and also because the pattern echos the patterns of my china pieces. I hope to order some of the same fabric for new pillows and other accessories. I also want to get some tie-backs for the sheers so we can let in more light and so my stained glass hanging is more visible. I'll share updates as they happen.

We are really pleased with how this room turned out. We worked with what we already had, except for the valances (the sheers came with the house) and the cross on the wall. Otherwise, it's all our old things but rearranged. And of course, as I may have mentioned once or twice *wink*, we banished the dreary walls and painted them a sunny yellow. We were nervous using what was for us such a bright color, but we are really happy with it.

Thanks for touring our new living room!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge~~Book #25


At times intriguing and at times a little tedious, The Most Reluctant Convert: C.S. Lewis's Journey to Faith by David C. Downing traces the great 20th century Christian apologist's spiritual journey from Christianity to a variety of philosophies back again to Christianity. (If it were Tolkien instead of Lewis, There and Back Again would be a good subtitle. lol) The author has obviously done his homework and is very well-versed in all things Lewis. Downing relies heavily on Surprised by Joy, Lewis's memoirs written in his 50's, but he also draws on Lewis's other writings, other authors' writings about Lewis, and also on books that Lewis read and which influenced his thinking and spiritual development (which is where the tedium comes in from time to time *wink*).

The writing is solid and the research is deep and wide. Downing helps the reader to understand Lewis's thought processes and how he ended up exactly where he started ~ at Christianity, though a more robust and thoughtful Christianity than he had held as a boy (unsurprisingly). He portrays Lewis as a brilliant though fallible man and gives insight into the first half of Lewis's life leading up to his conversion to Christ, which is an interesting episode all by itself. If you value the work and influence of C.S. Lewis, then this book will be of interest to you.

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