Good reading

For the past few weeks, I've been reading The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer. The title of the book makes it sound as if it is a Christian Home Economics textbook but all one needs to do is read the first chapter to know that is definitely not the case. The book's subtitle more accurately describes it's content: "Creative Ideas for Enriching Everyday Life." And the book begins by explaining why we should even attempt to enrich everyday life: because God himself was the first Artist and it is obvious, from looking at creation, that beauty and aestetics were absolutely paramount to God. So, according to Schaeffer, "The Christian should have more vividly expressed creativity in his daily life, and have more creative freedom, as well as the possibility of a continuing development in creative activities...then what I call 'Hidden Art' should be more important to the one who knows and admits that he is made in God's image, than to those who do not." (She goes on to define "Hidden Art" as the art which is found in everyday life.) She makes no gender or marital-status distinctions either - male, female, single, married, widowed/er, divorced, etc - she calls all Christians to exhibit creativity in daily life. The reason: "There should be a practical result of the realization that we have been created in the image of the Creator of beauty....the fact that you are a Christian should show in some practical area of a growing creativity and sensitivity to beauty, rather than a gradual drying up of creativity, and a blindness to ugliness."

So the rest of the book is devoted to the different aspects of everyday life and Schaeffer, in her quirky yet intelligent and inspirational style, makes the case for the importance of each and ties them all back to the Master Creator. Topics covered include: music, painting/sketching/sclupting, interior decoration, gardening, flower arrangements, food, writing, drama, creative recreation, and clothing. Since I'm a convicted plant killer and have absolutely zero drawing skills (much less sculpting!), I have been picking and choosing the topics as opposed to reading thru the book. And I have been so inspired by something in every chapter I've read so far that now am afraid to read the chapters on gardening or painting for fear that I'll want to take up hobbies in those areas as well...and there is only so much time for creating! :)

Anyway, my next few blog posts will each contain some highlights from the chapters I have read. I would list them all at once but I'm afraid would get bored and stop reading my blog. :)

So, to kick off my series...

Interior Decoration
- Defined as anything we do with the place in which we are living for any length of time - your "spot" (regardless of whether or not it's a hut, a palace or a hotel room)

- Your spot shoould express something about you - what you like, what is important to you, who you are

- She challenges her readers to express themsevles not only in selecting things to buy but also in what we can make ourselves...and she goes on to describe the joy and satisfaction that comes from creating something for use in decorating one's "spot." And she gives ideas for creating home decor items

- She further challenges her readers to start somewhere and try something in the area of doing something creative in the area in which we live

- She also mentions how important creativity is to children: "'A child won't notice' is a very bad and untrue phrase to admit into your mind. A child will be affected by originality, beauty and creativity. And a child in a Christian home should connect being in communication with the Creator God with having been made creative, in his image...creativity...should be enhanced adn developed because of being brought up in a Christian home, not in spite of it." (I found this particularly inspiring.)

- Another way of showing creativity in decorating is to do something for someone else who may not be able to express creativity in their "spot" - an elderly homebound or nursing home resident or someone who is disabled.

- Finally, she mentions continuity as an important factor in home decoration because "to have familiar things around us is to feel 'at home.'" And so she challenges us to make continuity a priority for ourselves and our families because it can help ground us in uncertain times and times of change.

That's all for now! Stay tuned for more from Edith on enriching daily life. :)

I have to say before I close how much I am enjoying being Charlie's mom. I wish I could freeze him in time at 9 months. He is so precious right now - laughing, kissing me, scooting around. He has brought so much joy to us in general, but particularly so these last few weeks.

Here he is enjoying his new favorite food, tofu. The kid just can't get enough! He's eaten it everyday next week and cries for it while I'm cutting it.

And here is today, dressed up for church. I thought he looked so cute, I couldn't resist taking a picture (or 10 :)). Even Ryan liked his knee socks (and you can see my sewing machine, still boxed up awaiting next Saturday's lessons).


A Very Domestic Christmas

I GOT A SEWING MACHINE (and sewing lessons) from my dear husband AND A KITCHENAID MIXER from his dear parents! I couldn't be happier. I'm right now making my first creation in the new mixer: my friend Amy's whole wheat pizza dough recipe. I hope it turns out OK. So far, so good but we haven't tasted it yet. :)

We had a wonderful Christmas (more on that later) and so enjoyed having Charlie. Too bad the little guy is sick AGAIN and we think he has RSV. :( He's right now crying and coughing his little head off. So the lengthy Christmas post will have to wait until he's feeling better.


Party Remorse

Why do I always decide to host events and then, hours before the guests arrive, develop "party hostess regret" syndrome? I always do this...and yet I keep coming up with ideas for parties to host. Will there be enough food? (Likely there will be enough to feed a small African nation.) Will everyone have fun? (Of course - they'll be eating and drinking.)

I've been cooking since last night. Here's the menu:

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle (Paula Dean's recipe)
Pecan Squares
Chips & queso
Spinach dip w/ crackers and pita pieces
Cheeseball & grapes
Cheese Pecan Crackers (recipe downloaded from Marlo's blog - thanks Marlo!)
Wassail (YUMMY slow cooker Christmas-y apple cider beverage)
Red & white wine

Hopefully I'll survive. :) 20 people have said that they are coming.

And then tomorrow we have church - regular morning service and then the Christmas Eve service at 6pm. And then Monday - open presents with Ryan's parents in the morning (they've been here with us since yesterday) and then head down to Savannah around lunchtime for a quick one-night trip to see my family and open gifts with them. Then we head back to work on Wednesday.

It seems the holidays have flown by this year...but in spite of the business, Ryan and I have been able to cherish and enjoy this first Christmas with our little Charlie. He has brought us so much joy this Christmas and we are so thankful for him! Even though many of you will receive this picture in the mail, I can't resist posting it...

Merry Christmas, everyone! And remember where true joy is found...

"Come Thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in thee. Israel's strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art, dear Desire of evry nation, joy of evry longing heart."



It's been a busy week and a half since I returned from VA! It was definitely a whirlwind trip and it left me completely exhausted. So here we go with a stream-of-consciousness, not-in-chronological-order post. :)

I returned last Thursday (12/7), which in addition to being Pearl Harbor Day, is my dear husband's birthday. For the past several years I have made a cheesecake from scratch for him but this year, I couldn't muster the strength and instead assembled a no-bake Jello cheesecake from the box. It turned out great, actually, and we enjoyed a quiet night at home with Thai food and TV. What could be better? :)

Then on Saturday Charlie and I drove to Savannah for my sister Caroline's ballet recital. She was Clara in the Nutcracker so we couldn't miss the show! Wasn't she a pretty Clara?

Here we are with Clara, our Papa, my brother Hunter (far left) and my cousins Brittany and Alex.

We put our tree up the week-end before my trip we put our tree up. Here is my manly husband cutting it down from the roof of our vehicle:

And not to copy my friend Jill who is incorporating a different ornament into every post, here are our 2 featured ornaments this year, purchased at the craft fair in Savannah last month...

And the finished product...beautiful if slightly crooked. :)

And I cannot believe that I haven't posted this yet but the biggest news of all is that I've already gotten my most-coveted Christmas gift: 2 weeks ago Charlie learned to sit up!! We've been praying for and working on this milestone for so long - praise the Lord! Here is the first picture of our little guy practicing his new skill -

He's lookin' a little rough because he had just finished a hard therapy session. :)
Week-end plans include a trip to the Columbia Zoo to see the Lights Before Christmas. And thankfully Charlie is healthy now so we'll be able to go to church as a family for the first time in quite a few weeks!
And on the 23rd, we're hosting our first annual Christmas Open House. So if you're looking for me, I'll be cooking!


Leaving on a jet plane

Tomorrow Charlie and I are making a last-minute quick trip to my office in Charlottesville. We are driving to Charlotte and flying to Charlottesville tomorrow morning and then flying back Wednesday night. Charlie gets to experience daycare for the first time and I get to attend a mandatory meeting Wednesday morning. I would be relatively excited about seeing my co-workers if Charlie weren't so sick - he has a double ear infection and bronchitus. We went back to the doctor this afternoon and came back with yet another antiotic, some prednisone (an oral steroid) and an ASTHMA INHALER complete with mask and pipe. Poor little guy. He is wheezing up a storm. The doctor said he should be OK to travel, though (which is good - if I don't go, I don't get reimbursed for the $700 plane ticket that was just billed to my Discover). So please everyone, PRAY for Charlie and I. This is going to be a hard trip. I'm not getting a good visual...Charlie sick, me in the airport with my him, my luggage, the diaper bag, stroller and car seat....