Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I missed the deadline for entering these into the weekly Photo Friday challenge, but I wanted to go ahead and post them anyway.

My first thought for "pristine" was a fresh blanket of snow, but that doesn't look like it'll be happening around here anytime soon. (Thankfully!) It had recently rained so I thought maybe I could get a picture of a few raindrops clinging to the bare tree branches, but I was too late for that. Instead, I decided to clean the boys' bathroom. When I finished, it was indeed pristine!

All nice and white and sparkly!

And since I was on a cleaning kick, I decided to go ahead and scrub out the kitchen sinks. Pristine!

Nice and shiny and stain-free!

There were no raindrops to be found, but our garden lights were all clean...

...and the cloudless sky was a beautiful shade of blue.

For more examples of "pristine", visit Photo Friday.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Organized Home Challenge #1: Kitchen Countertops and Sink

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that one of my goals for this year is to get organized. One way I plan to do this is by joining in the 2012 Organized Home Challenge, which I am starting this week.

The first challenge is getting the kitchen countertops and sinks organized. For the most part, the things that stay on my counter are in their right places: the bread machine, the toaster oven, my recipe box, the salt and pepper shakers, the trivet and the spoon rest, the metal stand with the colored dishes, the paper towel holder, the canisters, and Billy's coffee caddy and Keurig. I know it sounds like a lot, but I have 15 feet of walled counter space (not counting the stove and sink spaces) in addition to a 7-foot-long bar, which I try to keep clear.

Jacob does his schoolwork at the bar, and sometimes Caleb does, too. By mid-afternoon, there are usually a few stray books and pieces of paper, a handful of pens, and maybe an art project in progress littering the counter. I'm usually pretty good about getting those things put away when we're done for the day.

Billy drops off my mail on the counter when he comes in from work. I usually try to get to that pretty quickly, but sometimes it'll stay there for a day or two before I take the time to look through it. That's one area I'm working on and getting better at. But what should I do with the sale papers for the grocery stores? I usually keep them on the kitchen counter because that's where my menu planning and grocery-list making happen. I don't like to throw them away; I prefer to take them with me to the store with the discounted items I'm planning to buy circled with my Sharpie. Maybe I need to keep them with my purse...

The biggest thing I need to work on in this area is keeping the dishes at bay. By the time supper is over with, I'd much rather sit in my rocking chair and read or watch TV and knit. I convince myself that I'm too tired to deal with the dishes, when it actually takes less than 20 minutes to get it all done. I also use the excuse that the boys are getting their showers and I don't want to use up all the hot water... (Well, it has happened before.)

My goal for this week is to get into the habit of clearing my sink (and counter) of dishes at least twice a day: after breakfast and after supper - even if it's late and/or there's something else I'd rather be doing. I have to admit that it is more relaxing for me to walk into a clean kitchen each morning - and it gives me the freedom before school to do something I'd like to do (read a little, maybe?) rather than something I have to do. And while I'm at it, I think I'll scrub my stovetop and give my counters a good, thorough cleaning. (I scrubbed out my sinks last week.)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

January 2012 Book List

1. One Call Away by Brenda Warner

Strong. It's the first word that comes to mind when I hear the name Brenda Warner. She's not just physically strong (farm girl, cheerleader, U.S. Marine, mother of 7), she's also emotionally strong and spiritually strong.

I first heard Brenda Warner, wife of former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner, speak at a Women of Faith conference in Dallas last August. I was impressed with what she had to say, and once I heard she had written this book, I knew I wanted to read it. As soon as I saw it in the new book section of my public library, I snatched it up. I was hooked before I got to the bottom of the first page, and I was captivated until the very end.

The continual thread of One Call Away is how certain instances in Brenda's life - often coming through phone calls - have changed her and helped shape her into the woman she is now. The book begins with her then-husband Neil calling her at work to tell her their 4-month old son isn't breathing right. She rushes home, then they rush him to a hospital. Her son Zack's brain is swelling for some unknown reason, and Neil keeps reiterating that "he just started breathing funny". Twenty-four hours and multiple tests later, Neil admits that he dropped Zack and accidentally hit his head on the side of the tub while bathing him. Then her nightmare gets worse...

Brenda then takes us back to her childhood and the first phone call that changed her life. From there, she leads us chronologically through her teen years; life in the Marines; marriage, betrayal, and divorce; raising two young children as a single mom; the sudden death of her parents; etc. Her life looks nothing like what she dreamed it would be, but instead of giving up and giving in, she does what she can to make the best of what she has. She learns to rely on God instead of others or herself.

I was brought to tears many times as I read. Some of the things she went through are things I have no experience with - and hope to never have to deal with. I connected with her story the most when she described what it was like to suffer a miscarriage. She felt some of the same emotions - dealt with some of the same inner turmoil - that I had dealt with. Even now, many years after the fact, she comforted and encouraged me.

I hate that I have to return this book to the library. This is definitely one to buy and keep on your shelf to read over and over again. Brenda Warner is an inspiration.

Click here to watch a clip of an interview with Brenda Warner about One Call Away.

2. Create Your Own Blog: 6 Easy Projects to Start Blogging Like a Pro by Tris Hussey

Although I've blogging for more than eight years now, I felt the need to read this book. Not only was I curious about how to make this blog better, I wanted to learn some tips on how to design a blog for my jewelry business.

This book is basically for beginners. The first four chapters explain what blogging is, detail the history of blogging, and lead the reader through the set-up process.

The next section is more of what I was interested in: types of blogs. While I didn't really learn anything I could use for my personal blog, I did learn some valuable tips for creating my jewelry blog. At first I was thinking I should consider it a business blog, which it is, but the tips in that section weren't applicable to me. The business blog chapter is more geared toward writing corporate blogs. Instead, my idea for my jewelry business blog falls more under his "Portfolio Blog for Artists" chapter. Once I get my jewelry blog up and running, I hope to incorporate Hussey's ideas to make my images pop on the screen - and to include writings about my processes, ideas, etc. - but without giving away my "trade secrets" or techniques.

In actuality, I only read about half this book. I skimmed parts I was already familiar with, and I skipped parts I wasn't interested in. Probably my biggest complaint about what I actually did read, though, is the author's bias toward WordPress. He mentions Blogger and other hosting sites briefly, but since he prefers WordPress, he doesn't do much to help those of us who choose to use something else.

Overall, I think it's a helpful book for people who are new to the blogging world and want some great tips for getting started. For a seasoned (though by no means professional) blogger like myself, I would look for something different.


Every so often I come across a few books that I just can't read, for whatever reason. I've had two of those this month already!

1. I Didn't Ask to Be Born (But I'm Glad I Was) by Bill Cosby

The first chapter was funny. It was based on a YouTube video clip of You Bet Your Life, featuring a lady who was trying to explain to him where North, South Carolina was. I saw that just a few weeks ago, so it was fresh in my mind and made the retelling funnier. The second chapter wasn't quite as funny, and it made me realize I'd rather watch/listen to Billy Cosby than read his book.

2. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

I really wanted to read this - something to help me get better organized this year. After the first page, I started skimming and looking ahead to see if it got better. It didn't. I dropped it in the return slot of the library on my way out the door. I'll have to see if I can find something else like it, just more interesting.

3. Food Network Star: The Official Insider's Guide to America's Hottest Food Show by Ian Jackman

This isn't so much a reading book as it is a remembering book - if you've followed the show. The book is broken down by season, with each chapter highlighting the contestants, their experiences on the show, and some of their recipes.

Having seen the first six seasons, I was familiar with the contestants throughout most of the book, so I just skimmed it. It was good for jogging my memory about certain contestants and for finding some interesting recipes to try.

The chapter about the seventh season was brief, as the show hadn't been completely edited when the book went to press. I think I would have either waited or left it out altogether. I wasn't particularly interested in seeing the contestants but not knowing much about them. That may also have something to do with the fact that we no longer have cable TV, and that was why I missed watching season seven... Still, it seemed like a weak way to end the book.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Let's Hear it for the Boys!

It's Wednesday (already?!?) and time to join The Vintage Apple for another "Oh, How Pinteresting!" post. Since my two boys have birthdays coming up soon, this week's focus will be on things I've found for them.

I mentioned birthdays. Jacob will be 9 on February 6, and Caleb will be 12 on March 13. We're not sure yet what we'll be doing for their birthdays, but one of their options is to take them and one friend each to celebrate at... Medieval Times!

We went last summer for the first time and we all loved it! The food was delicious (Caleb discovered he loves ribs.), and the show was outstanding! I was amazed at how perfected the fight choreography is! Caleb really wants to go back for his birthday, but Jacob is leaning in another direction.

Another option is to have a birthday party for each of them. Caleb's only one was when he turned 7 (I think...); we used a pirate theme that turned out really great. Jacob has never had one - therefore, his other direction. I know, I know, they're seriously deprived in that area. But this tends to be a busy time of year with family coming in (usually over 3 different weekends) and spring break (when the boys spend a week with grandparents). Oh, and I'm just not a big party planner anyway...

But I've found a few cute ideas that might be doable if we decide to go the party route. Check out these fun cupcake ideas!

Jacob is a big fan of Despicable Me,...

...and Caleb is a huge Harry Potter fan.

I could easily use cream cheese icing on the owl cupcakes to make them like Hedwig.

And I know I can find tons of other great cupcake ideas if those aren't what they want. (A few words about cupcakes vs. one birthday cake... Everyone gets the same size piece, and the birthday boy isn't blowing/spraying spit and germs over the whole thing. Plus, you can do really cute things with them!)

Before their birthdays/celebrations, they're going to need haircuts. When the boys were small, my mother-in-law would trim their hair. As they got older and needed cuts more frequently than we'd see her, I opted to buzz their heads with the clippers. It was fast and easy - and I didn't have to pay someone to do it for me. A few years ago, they decided they wanted to let their hair grow out, so we were back to Mamaw's cuts again. In between times, though, they would get pretty scraggily-looking. Sometimes we'd wait it out. Other times, I'd take them to SuperCuts - but I hated paying $25 for trims for the two of them! It wouldn't be so bad if they didn't need a trim so often! Then I found this:

They were in dire need of trims before Christmas, but I was too busy with projects and preparations to take them. I knew Christmas weekend would be busy, but I hoped Mamaw could maybe squeeze in a quick trim. Not so. On January 2, I got sick of looking at their ratty mops and got out my scissors. I pulled up the tutorial on my screen and set my laptop on the kitchen counter in easy view. I read the instructions, made my cuts, and scrolled down to see what was next. It took 45 minutes for me to complete each one, and I had cut their hair shorter than they wanted - but I did it! And it looked good! I'll definitely do it again, but I'll try to leave their hair a little longer next time.

Now I guess I need to get back on Pinterest and look for some more birthday-themed cupcakes ideas - just in case. Do you have any great ones to share?

Monday, January 23, 2012


Chapter 1: Blessing During Bondage in Egypt
After many generations, a new pharaoh came into power. He was afraid the Israelites, who were great in number, would overthrow him, so he had them work as slaves. When their population continued to increase, he told the Hebrew midwives to kill all the baby boys when they were born. They chose to obey God and let the babies live. Pharaoh then proclaimed that the Egyptians were to drown baby boys that were born to the Hebrews.

Q? Killing the baby boys would eventually weaken the Hebrews, but why did Pharaoh choose to let the baby girls live? Had he thought far enough in advance, or was he planning to have the Egyptians take the Hebrew girls as wives and weaken the Israelite bloodlines?

Chapter 2: The Birth of the Deliverer (vv. 1-10)
Moses is born, hidden, and saved by Pharaoh's daughter. She has a Hebrew woman (Moses' mother) take care of him until he is weaned, then she takes him as her own son.

*The pharaoh at this time was most likely either Amenhotep I or Thutmose I. Pharaoh's daughter was probably Hatshepsut.

The Presumption of the Deliverer (vv. 1-25)
After killing an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave, Moses must flee to save his own life. He arrives in Midian, marries, and begins a family. He lives there for 40 years. During that time, the pharaoh who wanted to kill him dies and a new one (likely Thutmose III) takes his place.

*Moses' wife Zipporah is a Midianite, a people group who descended from Abraham's son Midian through his wife Keturah (Gen. 25:1-6).

Chapter 3: The Call of the Deliverer
Moses comes upon the burning bush, through which God speaks to him. He tells Moses that He is sending him to Pharaoh (possibly Amenhotep II) to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. God reveals the order of events that will take place and answers Moses' many doubting questions.

Chapter 4: The Source of Sufficiency (vv. 1-17)
Moses continues to find excuses why he should not be the one to represent God to Pharaoh, and God continues to answer him. Finally Moses asks God to send someone else. God gets angry with him and lets him know it will be done His way.

The Return of Moses (vv. 18-31)
Moses asks his father-in-law Jethro for permission to return to Egypt, and it is granted. On the way, God nearly kills Moses because he hasn't followed the covenant of circumcision. Zipporah takes care of the matter, then Moses goes on to Egypt without them. He meets Aaron along the way, and together they share with the Israelite elders all that God had spoken.

Q? In verse 25, it says that "Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off the foreskin of her son [singular] and touched it to Moses' feet." Which son was it? I wonder if Moses followed the covenant with his first son, but after living in a foreign land for so long, he quit following certain practices and didn't circumcise the younger one... His first son Gershom is mentioned by name in Exodus 2:22, but the younger son is only mentioned in the plural form in this chapter. His name (Eliezer) isn't given until chapter 18.

Chapter 5: Opposition to the Plan of God
Pharaoh meets with Moses and Aaron, but he denies God and refuses to let the Israelites go. Then he increases their work and tries to discredit Moses. Some of the Israelites begin to turn against Moses and Aaron; Moses turns to God.

*Moses was forthright with God in his frustration: "...Lord, why have You caused trouble for this people? Why did You ever send me? From the time I went to speak to Pharaoh in Your name, he has caused trouble for this people, and You have certainly not rescued them!" (vv. 22-23) One commentator (Benno Jacob, The Second Book of the Bible: Exodus) suggests that Moses' frankness was because of his close relationship with God. It makes sense; how often are we more to-the-point with those we're closest to? With strangers and casual acquaintances (generally), we're more likely to sugar-coat our words. God knows our hearts and He wants us to be honest with Him about our feelings - just as Moses, David, and Job were.

Chapter 6: The Assurance of Deliverance (vv. 1-13)
God reassures Moses that the Israelites will be freed - but only after He deals harshly with Pharaoh. Moses tries to encourage the Israelites, but they won't listen to him. God tells Moses to speak to Pharaoh again, but he's discouraged after his dealings with the Israelites.

The Ancestry of the Deliverer (vv. 14-27)
The geneaology of Moses and Aaron and the tribes of Israel are recorded.

*God is preparing to fulfill the covenant He had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to this generation - after the foretold 400 years of oppression (Gen. 15:13).

*The covenant was made with Abraham, then promised to Isaac and to Jacob. Jacob traveled with his family to Egypt, the site of the Israelites' 400 years of bondage, to be with Joseph and to survive the famine. Jacob arrived there with his son Levi and his son Kohath. Kohath's son Amram was in the first generation born in Egypt. Amram fathered Aaron and Moses. Aaron fathered Eleazar, who fathered Phinehas - the fourth generation born in Egypt. In those days, a generation was roughly considered to be 100 years, so with that fourth generation, the bondage period was coming to and end. Moses was being prepared, then preparing the way.

The Authentication of the Word (vv. 28-30)
Again, God tells Moses to speak to Pharaoh. Again, Moses makes excuses.

Chapter 7: The Authentication of the Word (vv. 1-13)
God tells Moses about the trials to come, but He reassures him that Pharaoh will let the Israelites go. Moses and Aaron meet with Pharaoh and Aaron's staff becomes a snake. Pharaoh's magicians do the same with their staffs, but Aaron's snake swallows the other ones. Pharaoh refuses them.

*Pharaoh's magicians probably used an old trick of temporarily paralyzing a snake, then "waking" it.

The First Blow: Water to Blood (vv. 14-25)
God instructs Moses to return to Pharaoh at the Nile River, where He turns the water to blood. Pharaoh's magicians do the same thing. Pharaoh refuses to listen to them and walks away.

*God has absolute power and could have easily freed the Israelites, but the series of plagues had a purpose. First, He wanted to judge Egypt for its treatment of the Israelites. He also shows both Egypt and the Israelites His power.

*The Egyptians deified the Nile. God was stronger than their gods and showing how He could turn something vital to life into an instrument of death.

*Many people discount the plagues as coincidental natural phenomena. To be miracles of God that Pharaoh would take note of, they had to be more spectacular than the normal occurrence. At the time the Nile's water turned to blood, the river was high, which would have allowed a reddish-colored mud to wash into the river. A red-colored algae also affects the river, causing a decrease in oxygen which would account for dying fish and, later, a stench. Still, this does not explain how it happened just as Moses struck the water with his staff - or how its tributaries and other small bodies of water, including the water in pots and jars, also turned to blood when Aaron stretched out his hand.

Chapter 8: The Second Blow: Frogs (vv. 1-15)
After a week, God tells Moses to approach Pharaoh again and warn him that Egypt will be plagued by frogs, which then cover the land. Pharaoh's magicians are able to duplicate this as well. Pharaoh tells Moses and Aaron to pray to God to take the frogs away and he will release the people. Moses has him name the day ("tomorrow"). After Moses prays and the frogs die, Pharaoh goes back on his word.

Q? Really? How hard was it for Pharaoh's magicians to duplicate this? How could anyone even tell, what with all the frogs already all over the place? How about making them go away?


Okay, so this is taking waayyyy more time than I have for, and it's putting me further behind in my yearly reading schedule. I'm going to have to rethink what I'm doing, why I'm doing it, and what I want/need to do...

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Note: I decided to do these blog posts after I had finished reading Genesis, and the only notes I have handy are my more recent ones from the end of the book. I'll post those first, then go back and fill in the beginning as I have the time.

Genesis is the first book of the Bible. It was written by Moses to the people of Israel, its purpose being to record God's creation of the world and His desire to have a relationship with them, a people set apart to worship Him.

Chapter 1: The Creation of The World
Verse 1 is introductory to the whole chapter. The overview of creation begins with verse 3.

Interesting theme development I'd like to follow: the symbolism of the sea, "the watery deep". The sea represents darkness and chaos "in the beginning", and when the new Heaven and Earth are created, there will be no sea (Revelation 21:1).

Chapter 2: The Creation of Man and Woman


Chapter 40: The Cupbearer and the Baker
While in prison, Joseph interprets the dreams of the pharaoh's cupbearer (who lives and is restored to his position) and his baker (who is killed). Joseph asks the cupbearer to tell Pharaoh about him, but he forgets.

Chapter 41: Joseph's Rise to Power
Two years later, Pharaoh has two disturbing dreams. His cupbearer suddenly remembers Joseph, who is brought out to interpret the dreams. Because of Joseph's wisdom, Pharaoh makes him second in command - and in charge of storing up food for the coming famine.

*At the time Joseph begins his service under Pharaoh, he has been in Egypt for 13 years.

*During this time, Joseph has two sons: Manasseh ("he who brings about forgetfulness" - referring to his troubles with his brothers and in Egypt) and Ephraim ("to bear fruit" - referring to his success in "the land of my suffering" v. 52).

Chapter 42: Joseph's Brother in Egypt
Jacob's family feels the effects of the famine, so he sends 10 of his sons to Egypt to buy grain. While there, Joseph recognizes his brothers, but they don't know who he is. (They believe he must be dead, having sold him more than 20 years earlier.) Joseph calls them spies and tests and questions them to find out what he can about his father and brother (Benjamin, who remained at home) and to see if they have changed. When he overhears them discussing their guilt over their treatment of him and how Reuben had wanted to save him, he weeps. He decides to keep Simeon prisoner and to send the rest home with their grain - and their silver, hidden in their sacks. He also tells them not to come back unless they bring their younger brother with them. Jacob grieves that now Simeon is lost to him and his sons want to take Benjamin away to Egypt.

Q? I wonder why Joseph chose Simeon, the second oldest son, as his prisoner instead of Reuben, the firstborn. Maybe it was his subtle way of thanking Reuben for his earlier efforts...?

Chapter 43: The Second Journey to Egypt
Jacob's family needs more grain, but Judah reminds him they won't be allowed to get any more unless Benjamin goes with them. He then promises his own life if something happens to Benjamin. Jacob reluctantly agrees, and the brothers return to Egypt to buy more grain and to return the money that was in their sacks. Joseph sees Benjamin is with his brothers, so he plans to hold a dinner for them.

Q? Why did they wait until they were out of grain before going back to Egypt? How long was Simeon held captive? Didn't they want to save him? Or did they leave him there indefinitely because Jacob wasn't willing to let go of Benjamin until the family was threatened with starvation?

*Joseph feels overwhelming love for Benjamin and shows him excessive favoritism, but the other brothers don't seem to mind. Maybe they've outgrown their jealousies.

*The brothers were astonished that, at Joseph's dinner, he had them seated in order of their birth.

*I found it interesting that the Egyptians found certain Hebrew practices detestable and wouldn't dine at the same table with them. For Joseph's dinner, there were at least three different tables set up: one for Joseph; one for the brothers, who couldn't yet know that Joseph (who appeared to be an Egyptian) was their brother; and one for the Egyptians in Joseph's service. It makes me wonder about Joseph's family meal time. His wife was Egyptian, so she must have eaten at separate table. His children were mixed blood of Hebrew and Egyptian. Could they eat at Joseph's table, or did they have to eat separately, too? I wouldn't think they were allowed to eat at the Egyptian table because of their Hebrew heritage.

Chapter 44: The Final Test
Joseph hides his silver cup in the mouth of Benjamin's sack and sends his brothers on their way. Then he sends his servant to catch them and search their bags. When the cup is discovered in Benjamin's sack, the brothers tear their clothing as an expression of grief, then they all head back to Egypt. Judah gives Joseph a moving speech to save Benjamin.

*NET Bible note: "Joseph's purpose was to single out Benjamin to see if the brothers would abandon him as they had abandoned Joseph. He wanted to see if they had changed."

Chapter 45: The Reconciliation of the Brothers
Joseph is moved to tears by his brothers' love for Benjamin and Jacob. He makes himself known to them, assures them of his forgiveness, and sends them to bring Jacob and all their families to Egypt. Jacob, upon learning Joseph is still alive, is initially shocked, but he recovers and prepares to go to him.

*Verse 5 - "Now, do not be upset and do not be angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me ahead of you to preserve life!" NET Bible note: "...Clearly God is able to transform the actions of wickedness to bring about some gracious end. But this is saying more than that; it is saying that from the beginning it was God who sent Joseph here..."

Chapter 46: The Family of Jacob Goes to Egypt
As Jacob/Israel begins his journey to Egypt, God reassures him and reaffirms His covenant. Joseph goes out to meet his father in Goshen and prepares them to meet Pharaoh.

Chapter 47: Joseph's Wise Administration
Pharaoh meets Joseph's father and brothers. He lets them live in the land of Goshen, and he offers jobs to anyone who is able to take care of his livestock.

As the people of Egypt run out of money to buy food, Joseph buys their livestock to add to Pharaoh's herds. Then as they run out of livestock to sell, Joseph buys their land and the Egyptians become slaves to Pharaoh. The agreement is for them to work the land and return 1/5 of the fruits of it to Pharaoh.

After living 17 years in Goshen, Jacob makes Joseph promise to bury him with his fathers instead of in Egypt when he dies.

Chapter 48: Manasseh and Ephraim
Joseph takes his sons Manasseh and Ephraim to Jacob, who takes them as his own sons and pronounces a blessing on them. He intentionally gives the firstborn blessing to the younger brother.

*Jacob's eyesight is poor in his old age - like Isaac's. But here Jacob is fully aware that he is blessing the younger son over the older one, not being tricked as he had tricked Isaac.

*From the Bible Knowledge Commentary: We tend to expect God to work in a certain way, according to our understanding, but His ways are not our ways. He often works in unconventional means.

Chapter 49: The Blessing of Jacob
As Jacob prepares to die, he calls his sons together to bless them. Then he dies.

*As firstborn, Reuben should have taken on the leadership role for the family and received a double portion of his father's blessing. Because he betrayed Jacob (by having intimate relations with Jacob's concubine, Rachel's maidservant), he is passed over. Simeon and Levi are also passed over because of their destructive rage in avenging their sister Dinah when she was raped by Shechem. The leadership is passed on to Judah, who is a descendant of Jesus Christ. The double portion is passed on to Joseph, the firstborn son of his favorite wife.

*Leah (the mother of Judah) was buried in the cave with the patriarchs and their wives, and later Jacob. Even though she was the "lesser" wife in Jacob's eyes, God blessed her abundantly. Rachel, on the other hand, was buried "on the way to Ephrath (Bethlehem)" (Gen. 48:7c).

Chapter 50: The Burials of Jacob and Joseph"
After Jacob dies, both his family and Egypt mourn. Joseph goes with his brothers and an entourage of Egyptian officials to bury his father as he had promised. The brothers worry that Joseph will now take revenge on them, but he assures them again that all is forgiven. Before Joseph dies at the age of 110, he makes the people of Israel promise they will bury him in the land God gives them after their deliverance from Egypt.

Reading Through the Bible Chronologically

Ten years ago, I read through the Bible in a year. It was hard work, but I did it. This year I'm trying to read through the Bible chronologically. I'm looking forward to seeing where things fit together.

There are 13 of us in a private Facebook group who are reading through chronologically together - keeping each other accountable and sharing our thoughts. I started posting my various thoughts on the readings, but they (my thoughts) were getting a little too lengthy - in my opinion. I don't like cluttering the board like that, so I'm going to blog my thoughts here. You can skip it if you like; I promise not to be offended. :o) Of course, I'll still post my thoughts to the board, but they'll be abridged.

My plan is for one post per book, which means I'll be adding to each post every few days or so. For each chapter, I'll use the heading my Bible uses. (I'm using the NET Bible.) As I read each day, I jot down my ideas and questions; then I read my Bible's study notes and notes from the Bible Knowledge Commentary for further clarification. Some chapters speak to me more than others, so my posting will reflect that.

If you have other insights or want to read along with me, please share that with me!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Allowance Planning

The boys have been asking to get an allowance for a while now. Billy and I discussed what we thought were reasonable amounts, then we assigned them some chores. Jacob's "new" job was to unload the dishwasher (usually twice a week) in addition to daily things like picking up his toys, his dirty clothes, and his dirty dishes - without being told to do it. Caleb's "new" jobs included helping with the laundry (loading the washer and the dryer) and helping with the Sunday trash-gathering. That's in addition to his dailies, which are the same as Jacob's. They were agreeable to that for the first two weeks, then things were quickly forgotten.

I got tired of having to remind them to do their part so I could get around to doing my part. Sometimes they'd get right to it, but if they were in the middle of a school assignment, I'd go ahead and do it just to get it out of the way. Now they seem to have forgotten we even made the chore assignments. Every once in a while, one of them (usually Jacob) will mention allowance, but it never goes any farther than that.

Enter Pinterest. I found a great idea there where kids can choose the chore they want to do and earn the allowance that is associated with it. Harder chores = higher values. (This is based on Dave Ramsey's idea of kids working on commission instead of giving them an allowance: Teach them to work, to earn money. Don't just give it to them. That's welfare.) I loved it, so I pinned it to my "The Boys" board.

Unfortunately, the link goes to someone's "shout out" to the idea/product that they found on Etsy. I had to click her link to get to the Etsy page to find out anything about it, which ended up being a description of the product, not a list of chore ideas and corresponding amounts. I guess I'll have to come up with that on my own...

This year is my year to get organized - and that includes getting the boys an allowance system in place - but one where they choose to work and how much they'll earn, not one where I have to stay on them to get something done. Earlier today I was browsing friends' pins on Pinterest and found something else that looked great: detailed job cards.

I want to tailor this idea to fit the Dave Ramsey commission idea. I think laminated index cards with the specific tasks and the amounts for them would work. I have a few card file boxes I'm not using, so that would be a great place to keep them. When the boys are wanting to earn some money, they can choose a card from the box. Maybe I'd include a checklist or specific instructions so they could be sure to do the job correctly. I could check it off when I see it's done. Then we'd file their completed task cards until "pay day".

I still need to noodle on it, but I think that's a good start!

Thursday, January 19, 2012


When I first saw this assignment, I wasn't sure I'd be able to complete it with anything shot currently - but we had one cloudy day. It looked like rain almost all day, but we never got the first drop.

And again, with a little editing...

Again, with editing...

My sons wanted to take cloud pictures with their cameras, too.

First, from my 11-year-old:

And from my 8-year-old:


Here are a few photos from that evening, after some afternoon clearing.

Looking north.


See more interpretations of "Cloudy" at Photo Friday.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I Like to Move It!

It's Wednesday! And I'm blogging along with The Vintage Apple on things that are Oh, How Pinteresting! This week I'm featuring health and fitness, in the interest of helping me with one of my goals for this year.

Top of my list: Zumba!

I'm not the most coordinated person, but I decided to give Zumba a fair shot last fall - and I love it! Our group started back up last Wednesday night. After a two-month hiatus, I was thrilled to be back!

Since I don't go to the gym (for various reasons), I try to do some working out at home. I can't always get out for a walk or a bike ride or a swim, but these are some things that keep me moving, stretching, and toning.

If you have a stability ball:

This site has 8 great exercises.

And here's a link to Alternating Toe Touches.

Arm flab is something I'm always wanting to get rid of - especially since I love to go sleeveless in the summer.

And if I ever when I get into a better home routine of daily exercise, this looks like a good plan. There's a different focus area for each weekday!

As for healthier snacking (which is my biggest issue!), here are two great lists I need to refer to often:


What great health and fitness tips have you found on Pinterest?

Monday, January 16, 2012

DIY: Wipe-Off Calendar

Once I saw this on Pinterest, I knew I had to have one.

And this weekend, I finally completed my own DIY Wipe-Off Calendar!

Billy called it a work of art. It does look nice, though I'm not sure if he was serious or joking. However it is (or rather will be) the first framed item to hang on our bedroom walls in the 2+ years that we've lived here. (I know, I know... I've had good intentions, but I just haven't made decorative wall items a priority.)

Since my calendar will best be utilized in my bedroom, hanging on the wall above my computer, I decided to go with colors that blend with my comforter. I made several trips to Lowe's, Home Depot, and Wal-Mart to collect various shades of paint samples. I know they're free, but I couldn't stand the thought of getting all 35+ at once. I felt guilty even taking just 14 at a time! (I need more than 35 - 7 days x 5 weeks - because I'm also wanting to make a coordinating wipe-off to-do-list to hang beside it. I'm still noodling over that project...)

Last week I noticed Hobby Lobby had their wall frames discounted 50%, so I purchased a simple 12x16 brown frame for just a little over $11.50. I used the heavy brownish board backing that came with the frame for my calendar background. (I didn't want white because it would seem too stark for my color palette.)

The paint sample colors blend nicely with colors in my
comforter, and the brown frame adds to the warmth.

My first step was to outline a 2x2-inch square on the back of each paint sample. I was able to get two squares from the larger ones, so I ended up with several extra paint samples to use with other projects later.

This quilter's tool made measuring my squares so much easier than using a ruler!

Once I had all my squares cut, I spread them out on the background to make sure I had a good range of colors that worked well together.

I felt like I had too many lighter squares, so I
cut some more darker ones and swapped them out.

Then I randomly arranged my squares onto my board backing to test the colors and to see how much space I needed to leave between each of the squares and the sides/corners.

This layout didn't have a good feel, so I tried again...

Still not quite right...

I was getting closer. I ended up cutting a few more squares to swap out. After that, I ended up separating my squares into two piles: red/orange/yellow tones and green/brown tones. Then I laid them out in an alternating pattern, trying to keep a good mix of dark and light - and not placing two of the same shade diagonal from each other. I still ended up with an uneven balance, but I liked what I had and didn't want to mess with it. Again.

As I played around with my squares, I noticed they weren't lining up just right. Once I got the colors laid out the way I wanted, I remeasured each square. I found that many of them were slightly larger than 2x2. I didn't account for the gap between ruler and pen when I marked or cut...

Most pieces got a slight trim.

Finally they were ready to be placed! I rolled tape, stuck it to the back of each square, and moved them around until I got them just where they needed to go. My perfectionist tendencies had to be put aside when, after trying to line up all my rows and columns with my ruler, I realized it just wasn't going to be an exact fit. I even trimmed another square or two to get the fit a little better - then I decided enough was enough. I flipped the board over onto the glass, folded down the little metal tabs, and wiped the various fingerprints and smudges off the glass. Done!

I tested my dry-erase marker and it worked like a charm!

Now, I know the month is half over, but I can't bear to have my calendar go from mid-month to mid-month. And yes, I'll go ahead and fill in the things we've already done - just for the sake of it. I just can't help myself. :o)

I'll add a picture of it hanging on the wall once I get it up there. I promise it won't be another 2+ years!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Day's End

Most evenings, I wind down with a little television and knitting. If I don't do something to keep my hands busy, I'll fall asleep in my chair... This is the sweater vest I hope to finish and be able to wear soon.

Be sure to check out other "Day's End" images at Photo Friday.

Getting It Together!

I'm excited about participating in The Vintage Apple's "Oh, How Pinteresting!" weekly meme! Each Wednesday (yes, I'm a day late...), you share some interesting things you've found on Pinterest. If you're not a member of Pinterest, you need to request an invitation. If you leave me your email address with your request, I'll send you one!

Each week on Pinterest, I find all sorts of random things that I post to various boards. Here, though, I don't want to be random about the things I've found; I want to categorize them. Since one of my goals this year is to get organized, I thought that would be a great place to start with my first "Oh, How Pinteresting!" post.

Here are some great organizational tools I've found that I've pinned to my "Getting It Together" board:

I'm actually working on this one right now, with colors to match my bedroom. I also want to make a coordinating to-do list to hang next to it.

In my quest for organization, I found several website links on how to break that overwhelming task into smaller, more manageable jobs.

If you want to get things done in just 21 days, here's a great site that takes you through 20 daunting tasks each day, with a "your choice" day at the end.

If you have a bigger challenge ahead of you, check out this one - my personal favorite. This blogger not only assigns tasks for each week, but she breaks each one down into manageable steps, giving advice on how to proceed.

If you'd rather go out on your own and decide what needs to be done where each week, this one provides you with guidance.

If you need baby steps, this site provides downloadable calendars for each month with one thing to accomplish each day. Some are fairly simple (toss out expired skin care products; declutter candles); some are more labor-intensive (sort through pictures and get rid of/give away duplicates; throw out the junk in your junk drawer); and others are just plain fun (take a nap; dance in your living room - yeah, these are the Sunday items).

What organization tips/tools have you found on Pinterest? Share them in my comments section - and leave your Pinterest ID name so I can check out your boards!

Next week's "Pinteresting" things: health and fitness (in conjunction with another one of my goals for the year).

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2012 Goals

Okay, I've had some time to think about what I want to accomplish this year...

1. Health & Fitness
The last two years I've lost about 10 pounds. The difference was early last year, I put most of it back on before I took it off again. This year, I don't want to do that. Instead, I want to continue on my current path of weight loss and lose about 10 more pounds. My ultimate goal is to lose 15 pounds, though 20 would be perfect.

I started taking a Zumba class last fall, and I love it! It starts back up this Wednesday evening, and I plan to get right back in the swing of things. When Zumba's not going on, I need to find something else to keep me moving.

2. Personal Organization
I decided about a month ago that 2012 would be my year to get organized. I think the main thing that got me started thinking that way was Pinterest - and the many organizational tools I found there. My first project in that area is making a wipe-off calendar to match my bedroom. Since that's where most of my "work" takes place, I thought it would be nice to have a color-coordinated calendar to hang permanently. I'm also making a coordinating wipe-off to-do list to hang next to it.

Also in this arena, I'd like to get back to my menu planning. (And in conjunction with my health and fitness goals, plan healthier meals. I really need to work more vegetables into our meals...) Every month, I've been printing off a calendar and writing in our meals a week or so at a time. I'd like to make another wipe-off calendar or something similar (I've seen several on Pinterest...) for the kitchen for just that purpose.

I'd also like to get my house-cleaning schedule more organized. For a while I was doing great with following along with The Flylady. I like her weekly cleaning zones, but I wanted to do some other things on my own. And, through Pinterest again, I've found several websites to help with that.

3. Photography
Yes, photography is here again, in spite of my complete failure in that area last year. I can't help it. It's something that I love to do. I want to get back to participating in the Photo Friday challenges and I want to keep up in my photo blog that I started last year (I think) and only posted 3 or 4 things to... I want to use the photographic technique books I've gotten for Christmas the last few years.

I also need to finish organizing the 15+ months worth of photos that I've downloaded from my various cameras and get them edited, renamed, and filed away into our iPhoto program. Maybe that should be one of the first things on my new to-do list for January...

4. Reading
I don't want to set a number of books to read this year. If I happen to come across something that's good but slow, I don't want to feel like I need to rush through it to reach my goal. That happened last year with George Bush's Decision Points.

I also don't want to set some parameter like reading one classic each month. I'm not always in the mood for a classic, and if one classic takes me a long time (like Jane Austen's Emma), I don't want to feel like I have to jump into another one just to keep up.

What I do want to do this year is read some of the books I have here at home. Usually, once I buy a book, I put it on my shelf and forget about it until some much later date. If I check something out from the library, I'm more likely to read it because I have a limited time to keep it. Another reason I want to do this it to clear off some of my shelf space. I have some books that I haven't yet read, and I don't know if they're worth keeping or not because I haven't read them. What I'd rather do is read some good ones and pass them on to friends to read and pass on to someone else. Then there are those that aren't worth passing on..., but might sell in a garage sale. :o)

5. Jewelry Business
For the last two years, I've been slow about getting my jewelry business off the ground. I've read several books about how to turn a hobby into a business or how to start your own small business, but a lot of what's there doesn't really apply to what I want to do. Several weeks ago, I was browsing the jewelry book shelves at Half-Price Books and came across one that had lots of promise, though: How to Start a Home-Based Jewelry Business by Maire Loughran. I started reading it from the start a few weeks ago and I'm planning to work through the step-by-step process to get things going. Part of that involves setting up a schedule for working on the jewelry pieces, which has now been delegated to Saturdays because of all the "normal" busyness. Maybe if I get myself organized, I can work in a few other times each week.

6. Bible Study
I started this year reading the Bible through chronologically with a group on Facebook. Each day, we can post our thoughts, discoveries, questions, encouragement, etc. My new friend Julie Black put out a request for an accountability partner to help her on her journey through the Bible in a year, and several of her friends said they'd like to do it with her. She started a private group, and there are now close to 15 of us participating. I've always wanted to read it chronologically, and I think this is a great way to go about it!

7. Blogging
Here's another thing I say every year: I want to blog more. Sometimes I do, then other times I don't. It's not a matter of having time to do it. It's a matter of making the time to do it. I've realized just how much time I waste online and I'm trying to use that time more wisely to get other things done (personal organization, jewelry business,...). Blogging would fill some of that gap... And there's also my recipe blog and my photo blog that I want to keep up with... (Everything's related, right?)

Well, I think that's enough to work on this year. It's the same as always, but always a little different, you know? We'll see...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Year in Review: 2011


*We held our annual New Year's Day party. The vegetable soup was a huge hit!

*I made some lofty goals for the year but ended up being mediocre...


*Billy's parents came in for the weekend to watch the boys play basketball, but we ended up being snowed in. We were told it was coming, but we didn't believe it...

*Since we were stuck in the house, I learned how to knit by watching YouTube videos. Fun!

*Caleb participated in the Kaufman County Spelling Bee - and when we left, there was snow everywhere. Again. It was falling pretty hard when we left, so I drove home very carefully. When we finally got home, I couldn't pull up in the driveway. Both times I tried, I slid back down. I ended up parking on the street, hoping no one would slide into me.

*We had to have our beloved cat Shadow put to sleep on 2/21/11. She had gone downhill really fast - all in one weekend, it seemed. The boys were so upset at hearing her cries and seeing her just laying on the floor by her litter box that they couldn't concentrate on school or even stay inside much. When Billy got home that day, we took her to the vet... She was 18-and-a-half years old. She's still greatly missed.


*I joined a knitting group at church!

(It's going to get hard here for a while since I fell off in my blogging...)


*Sometime in March or April, I got my hair cut. Really cut. I mean just below shoulder length and with bangs. I love it!

(In reading part of a post from this time, it appears I seemed to have lost my inspiration for blogging, cooking, etc. Not sure why... Anyway, that accounts for why I can't seem to remember much of what happened. l checked my Facebook statuses, but apparently they're not all there so that's not helping too much...)


*We had a post-Mother's Day visit with family at Billy's parents. Everyone came over for food and fun - and Melissa brought Stacy with her. They weren't "dating" yet, but I had a feeling it was coming soon. It did - and they broke up very quickly as well. I thought this was the one...

*We went to Hamm's Orchard to check out their produce. Their prices are high, but the veggies are tasty. We tried their homemade peach and strawberry ice cream flavors. The peach was good, but the strawberry was better. Still, I don't think either is one really anything worth raving about.


*Caleb promoted to the Livewire group at church. He's now officially a "yout"!


*This was a busy month for the boys. They had VBS, Caleb had camp, there were reading programs and movies, and we did lots of swimming.


*While the boys were gone for their last summer fling, I took a soldering class at Beads of Splendor. It was so much fun, I bought my own soldering kit and will be working to improve my skills.

*I never did hear back from Heritage Christian Academy about a teaching position, so we're back to homeschooling again. Thankfully, at what seemed the eleventh hour, I applied for the boys to enter Texas Virtual Academy (TXVA) through the K12 program. We got in! So now begins a new "home" school chapter: public school online at home.

*I went to my first Women of Faith conference, thanks to Mama. Jennifer came with her and we had a great weekend together with hundreds (thousands?) of other women, praising God. Oh, and I got to meet Mandisa!

*We went to Medieval Times for the first time. It was great! The show was fun and the food was delicious! The boys are ready to go back, but it's too expensive to be something other than an occasional special celebration. We're thinking maybe we'll take them there, along with one extra friend each, for their birthdays. That would be much easier than throwing two separate parties over a span of a few weeks.


*We met some great new neighborhood friends at the pool: Julie and her boys, Craig and Brett. They homeschool, and the boys hit it off immediately and play really well together. We're looking forward to building this relationship.

*We've got a lot of adjusting to do for this online school thing. I like it because it's taken the brunt of planning off my shoulders. Caleb likes it because it's structured and he can do things (for the most part) on his own. Jacob, on the other hand, doesn't like it so much. There's more work each day, which interferes with his play time, and he frequently has meltdowns...

*Since Caleb wanted to start going to the youth Bible study on Wednesday nights, I thought I'd find something for me to do while I'm waiting. I joined a Zumba group and I love it!


*I think this is the month I joined Pinterest. Great website with great ideas! I've even completed a few projects I found there - and I have more on my "list" to do.


*Thanksgiving was fun, but small.


*Christmas seemed rushed this year. I think that's maybe because it fell on a Sunday and Billy had school and work right up until Dec. 23. Our annual Christmas Eve gathering at his parents' house was really small this year, but we had a great time. The annual Christmas lunch at Aunt Sue's (this year was her year to host it...) was also really small - just 11 of us.

I know there was more, but I can't seem to remember - or find - what happened. I guess these are the biggies. I'll be taking better records this year because I've implemented a fun daily one-line calendar that I found - guess where! - on Pinterest. :o)

2011 Report Card

Last year, I set 6 goals for myself for 2011. Halfway through the year, things weren't looking good. At all. If I were to give myself a grade, I'd have to give myself nearly straight F's. Well, maybe that's being a little too hard on myself, but when I look at the fact that there were only 6 things, well... Instead of dwelling on that, though, let's see how I ended the year.

Goal 1: Bible Study - A
In June, I gave myself a D because I had basically quit having any kind of personal study. I got myself in gear after that and got back to the "Journey Through the Old Testament" that our church had put out at the beginning of 2010. At the end of 2011, I was finishing up the study on a passage from Jonah - which left just 7 passages to study to complete the booklet.

Goal 2: Weight Loss - B
In June, I had given myself a C. Over the 2010 holiday season, I had gotten back into the bad habit of mindless snacking. By the summer, I had gained most of the weight I had lost the previous year! But I had realized it and had gotten back to doing something to get it off. Since then, I've been more mindful of what I eat and I joined a Zumba group at church. I love it! It's helping get me in shape and now I'm 2 pounds less than where I was at this time last year - 10 pounds less that I was at my highest point during the summer. Now if I can just keep it up throughout this year and not slide back again...

Goal 3: Cooking - B
In June, I had given myself an A because I had learned to make some things from scratch - and without relying on recipes. That was great, but I never did take a cooking class at Central Market. Nor did I cook anything from my Now Eat This! cookbook by Rocco DiSpirito. At one point, I was considering signing up for a series of six international cooking classes through Le Cordon Bleu in Dallas, but I've since changed my mind. There are other things I'd rather do with my money...

Goal 4: Photography - F
Wow. As much as I love to take pictures, I hate formatting and filing them. I let it pile up (again) and it got to be too overwhelming. Still, I need to get it done. Yes, 15 months of photos need to be managed now... The monstrosity of all that kept me from participating in Photo Friday and from keeping up with my Project 52. It turned out to be more like Project 3.

Goal 5: Reading - C
My goal was to read 36 books, including one classic a month. The classics just weren't very interesting to me anymore, and reading them slowed me down. I quit after three of them and went back to reading just what I wanted to read. I did read some great books, but several of them were slower reads and cut into my time quite a bit. Then other busyness got in my way. I ended up reading about 25 books this year - slightly more than half of what I read last year.

Goal 6: Blogging - D
Again, busyness got in the way. And Facebook. And then Pinterest. I lost interesting in reading Real Simple magazine each month because a lot of what they promote is either not so simple or it's too expensive to worry with. Then I got behind in reading my issues of Cooking Light. There's also the fact that many of their recipes are complicated and/or have ingredients that aren't very common. I love to cook, but I want easy. I don't want to spend all my time in the kitchen cooking and cleaning up. I want to watch some TV and knit or crochet in the evenings.

Once again, this is showing where my priorities lie. They're on track, but I would like to get these things I love to do a little more balanced in my life. Maybe I can in 2012.

A Lot of Catching Up to Do...

Yes, there's lots of that. Usually by this time, I've written several year-end posts:
*a look back at the past year,
*how I did on goals for the past year, and
*goals for the new year.

Unfortunately I haven't had much time lately, but hopefully that will change and I can get back to my blog. I have lots of things I want to write about, but I want to get my usual year-end posts completed before I move on to other things.