Thursday, July 10, 2008


When it comes to money (especially as we're still in student mode), I've decided I need to adopt 3 attitudes:
1) Contentment - with what we do have and can afford

"I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble mans, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." (Phil. 4:11-13)

2) Creativity - in saving money and creating beauty on a budget

"She looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight. She girds herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She senses her gain in good; her lamp does not go out at night." (Proverbs 31:13, 17-18)

3) Commitment - to pay off before we spend more

"The borrower becomes the lender's slave." (Proverbs 22:7)

All the days of the afflicted are bad,
But a cheerful heart has a continual feast.
Better is a little with the fear of the LORD
Than great treasure and turmoil without it.
Better is a dish of vegetables where love is
Than a fattened ox served with hatred.

(Proverbs 15:15-17)

in my wildest dreams

The house is peaceful and I pretend to have no thesis to write. It is the middle of the night. I couldn’t put my mind to sleep, so I got up to wander. The cat sleeps on the couch, there are music books open on the piano, soft lamplight shows books and laundry draped over various pieces of furniture. There are nice things here, beautiful things that I love - artwork and our wedding album, thoughtful gifts, our instruments, shelves filled with pages of treasure, a clock ticking. The breeze is finally cool by the window, and if I don’t think too far ahead, I am perfectly content. I love our apartment, our life together.

In rare moments I have time to enjoy these things without feeling guilty, or panicked over summarizing the next chapter of Pentecostal ecclesiology. I am eagerly anticipating life post-thesis, when the wonderful world of free time and unfettered thought will once again be opened. I’m sure I will be busy with a myriad of things, perhaps even a real job that makes me real money, but it is the brain space I can’t wait for most of all.

My wildest dreams these days look something like this - spending an evening doing the dishes, then leisurely playing the piano or learning some new chords on the guitar, going for a long walk with Micah under the trees and stars, thinking about rearranging a cupboard, reading a novel till I fall asleep... it’s all so mundane and marvelous. I really am a simple person at heart. Life will be a little more simple come September, and when the leaves begin to change I will trade my academics in for a good ol’ romp in the woods.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I'm still alive!

Well, that was a bit of a dry spell... the busyness of school sucked me in and has only recently spit me out! I've been posting some thoughts on my other blog, Red Letters, but haven't really felt inspired to do anything home-related. Probably because it's just been a big mess, and that would have been rather depressing! Well, the summer is here and my coursework is done, and I hope to be a little more active in my little hearth. This summer I will be completing my master's thesis, while still working part-time at the Freckled Lion.

As I think about the summer, here are a few things I'd like to do:
  • Plant my garden!
  • Write one "real" letter a week to a friend or family member (you know, the kind that require stamps!)
  • Do some "spring" cleaning (why does this never happen till the summer... or fall...)
  • Finish reading Volume 4 of the Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery (happy 100th anniversary to Anne of Green Gables this year!)
  • Learn how to play guitar (last time I checked, an entire song in E minor was not very melodic)
  • Continue the habit of reading one chapter a day in the Bible (currently in Jeremiah, reading with a friend which makes it a whole lot easier to stay on track)
  • Be a little more active on this blog!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Commitment to Loveliness - April 3

End of Semester Version

It's time for another Commitment to Loveliness! This is a fun way to increase femininity and beauty in our lives each week without even trying! All you have to do is choose five things that you would like to work on or do during the week that will increase the loveliness in your life!

Here is my list for this week:

1. Stack my current reading list neatly on my desk in order of reading importance!

2. De-clutter the bulletin board.

3. Take a short walk everyday and notice something new about spring each time - for fresh air and a welcome distraction from books.

4. Paint my toenails.

5. Eat more fruits and vegetables for energy (instead of coffee and donuts!)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Family Day Feast

Two weeks ago I decided to have some fun setting the table. It was "Family Day" in Ontario, a new holiday, but my husband still had to work, so I decided to take some time and prepare a roast beef dinner (something I'd been craving for a while!) and serve it up on a nicely set table. My sister gave me a book called The Art of Napkin Folding for Christmas, so I tried out a few designs and was pleasantly surprised by the results! Here are some pictures:

Grr, for some reason blogger is not allowing me to upload! I'll try again later today.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Lent was never part of my religious tradition growing up. It was one of those “Catholic” things that involved eating fish on Fridays and praying with beads and things like that – highly suspicious to a Protestant. I think I first “discovered” it in my third year of college, when we had a class on the festivals and seasons of the Church’s year. I was fascinated to learn of this great Church tradition that has been practiced across time and continents, and decided to give up chocolate! I haven’t observed it every year since then, but I am always aware of those little words that pop up in my agenda or on a calendar: Ash Wednesday. Being part of an Anglican seminary the last 2 years has also raised my awareness of the season.

It’s not just about giving something up. It’s not about a yearly weeding out of unhealthy practices, like fated new years resolutions. It’s not about works righteousness and it’s not about making myself feel any better or worse about myself.

I’m no expert and I haven’t done any research into the seasons, but this is what I’ve felt out from those around me and experienced myself:

It’s about orienting myself to a bigger story, to its rhythms of denial and fulfillment, death and resurrection, of fasting and celebration. It’s about placing myself on the way of Christ, and embracing the call to pick up my cross. It’s about reminding myself of the constant necessity to places my sins, my habits, my unexamined life, my desires and my time before a holy merciful God. It’s about joining with a community who are trying to walk with each other on this often-difficult way, confessing our sins together, jumping into the gospel story in the days leading up to Christ’s passion and asking Him to form us through His footsteps.

This year I’m fasting from television. It’s not a great vice of mine in particular, but I’ve felt it eating away at my time and mental energy, and it has all but replaced dinners together at the table. Since I’ve decided to give it up, I’m amazed and amused at how many times a day I have the impulse of turning it on – at a lull in my activity, when I’m bored or tired, when I’m procrastinating, when I’m just being thoughtless. It’s a good exercise. Days seem longer – who wouldn’t want more time in their day? – more reading and dish washing get done! I think the greatest change I’ve noticed so far is not only the diminished noise level in my house, but that my inner life is quieter. TV is another voice in my life that sometimes just needs to shut up. I haven’t come upon any great spiritual revelations in its absence, but I pray the silence is an open door for God to speak more clearly.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Commitment to Loveliness: February 18

It's time for another Commitment to Loveliness! This is a fun way to increase femininity and beauty in our lives each week without even trying! All you have to do is choose five things that you would like to work on or do during the week that will increase the loveliness in your life!

Here is my list for this week:

1) Get rid of the ugly mountain of unfiled papers on and around my desk.

2) Buy a few inexpensive cut flowers to add some life to the house.

3) Practice new songs I am learning on the piano.

4) Listen to classical radio when reading. (This is my school reading week, so I'll be doing lots of that!)

5) Learn how to do a few pretty napkin folds to make table settings more elegant. (My sister gave me a book for Christmas called The Art of Napkin Folding.)

beautiful baking soda!

I have recently discovered the all-purpose wonder of baking soda for many household tasks. Baking soda is quite useful in the kitchen, and I like to keep a small container handy by the kitchen sink for easy access. I also keep several boxes of Arm & Hammer in stock at a time, so I don't run out!

Here are a few of the things baking soda likes to do in my kitchen:

  • Cleaning cuts and stains on the countertop (a paste of baking soda and water)

  • Scrubbing down wooden cutting boards which are then rinsed with hot water to remove stains and odours

  • Cleaning and polishing the kitchen sink, especially around the drains and faucets (I use a toothbrush to get into the tough-to-reach spots)

  • Cleaning white plastic bowls and containers, which easily stain

  • Cleaning baked and burned food from the stove top and around the burners

  • Whenever I need a mild abrasive for tough cleaning

Does anyone else have any favourite uses for baking soda, in the kitchen or elsewhere?

Monday, February 11, 2008


There's no time to be pretty! I want to commit to another lovely week, but there are so many other things on the go. It's been one of those busy weeks where nothing but the basics of life survival seem to get accomplished. The dishes are getting done almost every day, which is a good thing, and I finally got around to cleaning our bedroom today. It had been destroyed by a wild fit of exploding drawers and near-tantrum frenzy when I was trying to find a particular shirt in a hurry last week. Five days later I was finding t-shirts in odd places. Sigh.

Tonight I've got about 4 books in each hand. I'm working on a baptism case study due this week, some John Wesley readings, and trying to get together an official thesis proposal due this week as well. Thankfully the proposal is only 5 pages, but the thought of the 60 page monster I must create in the next couple months is rather daunting!

I have done some cleaning/organizing/making pleasant this past week, in little spurts when I can. I'll have to post on that later. Maybe after my case study. I'm in one of those extended moments of juggling, hoping nothing too important will fly out the window!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

All tuned up

Last week we finally got around to getting our piano tuned. It's been in our apartment for about a year and a half, and hasn't been tuned since it was moved here down the highway in the back of a truck and up our back fire escape stairs! It held its tune for quite a while, but in the last couple months I noticed it getting worse. It's so nice to have all the keys sounding as they should - it helps my playing sound better even when the piece I'm playing doesn't sound as it should!
The piano belonged to my husband's Grandpa Manning, who recently passed away. It's an apartment sized Sherlock-Manning from 1972, made of walnut. The company was the last one to make pianos in Canada. It fits perfectly in our apartment, and I love having a piano to play! Now I just need to practice...

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Commitment to Loveliness: February 5

I've had my eye on this feminine challenge from Emma at Charming the Birds From the Trees for a few months now, and I'm excited to be joining in!

It's time for another Commitment to Loveliness! This is a fun way to increase femininity and beauty in our lives each week without even trying! All you have to do is choose five things that you would like to work on or do during the week that will increase the loveliness in your life!

Here is my list for this week:

1. Create a little "sacred space" somewhere in the house for my daily devotions.

2. Paint my toenails.

3. Research some new hairstyles.

4. Set the table nicely for dinner.

5. Make a birdfeeder to bring the loveliness of birds to the back yard!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

shovelling snow

A big storm is blowing through southern Ontario right now! We're getting lots of snow, which I love, though it makes for rather treacherous driving. I've always liked shovelling snow. My husband was out shovelling our apartment parking lot and walkway tonight, and I really wanted to join in the festivities (such hearty heave-ho fun!) but I had to stay inside and work on an assignment. Some people get all the fun...

Friday, February 1, 2008

"six unimportant things"

I've been tagged for this meme by Jen (my sister) over at Back Woods Wife. I've never participated in these before, as I don't have many friends in blogland yet :)

The rules for this meme are: (1) Link to the person that tagged you. (2) Post the rules on your blog. (3) Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself. (4) Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs. (5) Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.

1) I love Disney cartoon musicals! Yesterday at the Freckled Lion we got in a new Disney Songbook; it looks awesome, but it's almost $40! When no one was in the store, I flipped through and sang "Part of Your World" (Little Mermaid) and Once Upon a Dream (Sleeping Beauty), among others!

2) I talk in a British accent to my budgie, Mr. Tilley.

3) Speaking of the British, I regularly keep up with Coronoation Street when I can!

4) I hate bugs. Really hate them. They freak me out, in an almost irrational way. I used to be so scared of mosquitos when I was a kid that when they buzzed around my bedroom at night, I would scream and hide under my covers until Dad came and killed them all! I'm not quite so bad now, but the big crawly/flying things still give me the creeps.

5) My favourite smells are wild roses, fresh laundry, and roast beef cooking in the oven.

6) I love taking Sunday afternoon naps :) It's funny how as you get older the things you hated as a child don't seem so awful anymore!

Well I don't really know of anyone to tag, but if you read this and want to join in, go ahead!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Learning to love in 2008

I gave up making new year's resolutions a number of years ago. As a teenager I relished the self-reflection and ambition of the whole process, and I regularly composed a page worth of resolutions (both serious and silly) to "better" myself in the coming year. I don't have anything against new year's resolutions, but for me the reflection became a little forced. It was arbitrary, instead of growing naturally out of my personal and spiritual development. Well this year, I do have something in mind!

I've decided that I'm going to try and do one loving thing for someone every day.

Some days this is easier than others, and not always because I don't feel like being loving (though I do have those days!) but because often I just don't think about it. Sure, I probably do many things throughout the day that may be considered in the realm of love, but I want to become more aware and more purposeful in my love. I'm still learning to love, to desire what is good for others, and engage my heart and will and actions in helping to bring that good about in their lives.

I think this will also be fun, because there are many creative ways to show love to those around me, family and strangers alike. Some ideas include: writing a letter to a faraway friend, helping with a task before being asked, giving my husband a shoulder rub or bringing him a coffee, giving some of my Tim Horton's money or food to a person on the street, taking the time to listen and talk to someone who is lonely, holding the door open for someone, letting someone go ahead of me in line or giving up my seat on the subway, sending a quick email of encouragement to a friend... love has no limits! The miracle of love is that its fullness can reside in the smallest of its acts.

This is one way I hope love will grow out of my life and fill our little home, and maybe a few others.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hi from my little hearth

Hello homemakers!

I've been inspired by my sister at Back Woods Wife (and many of the blogs that are linked from her site) to start a blog about the trials and triumphs of keeping a home. I'm a fairly new wife (just over 2 years), a full-time theology student, a part-time bookstore worker, and involved with various church activities. We all have challenges in homemaking, but mine are:

finding time to do it
working with a small apartment
staying disciplined with a routine of housework
trying to keep my books from taking over the house (and my life!)
learning to expand my cooking repertoire.

I thought I'd dream up a little vision of my home to help keep me focused on why I need to get my hands into another sink of dirty dishes...

I've always loved the word "hearth." To me it evokes an image of a warm and restful haven, a gathering place for family and friends, a lively source of creativity, the true heart of a home lit from within by love. That is what I want my home to be, for myself and my husband, and for others who visit. But in order for that to happen it needs to be clean, organized, and pleasant!

I have a few goals I'd like to start with. Our apartment isn't a total disaster, but some discipline is needed to keep things humming along and prevent chaos when I get really busy with my studies and writing. The kitchen and bedroom tend to get messiest the quickest, so here's what I'm shooting for:

1) Make the bed everyday
2) Do the dishes everyday
3) Put away my clothes everyday

It may seem small, but that's where I'm starting! My hope is that these things will become a habit for me eventually :)

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