14 September 2017


I've thought for years I'd like to write a series on happiness.  Or perhaps not on happiness itself, but about a few of the happiest people I've known.  The idea resurfaced tonight as I listened to a lecture about happiness.  (It's a good one, and you can listen to it here.)

In my little collection of happy people, many were widows, most were old.  You'd think those people might be sad or lonely, facing the many losses that accumulate through the decades of a life.  But they weren't (or at least they didn't act like it).  And remembering them, writing about them, seems like an important and pleasant pursuit.

So, stay tuned.

24 October 2016

Butterfly Weekend

I had never seen this butterfly before.  If it were mine to name it, I would call it the Orange Cream Butterfly.

It's a good thing these little flowers were prolific.  Everyone wanted some of their nectar for lunch.

If you're especially gentle, you can even touch a butterfly tail.

This is really a terrible video, but if you catch even a small fraction of a glimpse of all the butterflies that were out this weekend, the delight will be worth your few seconds.  We may have been having ridiculously hot weather, but we do get our rewards in butterflies.  

21 October 2016

Pumpkins and Applesauce

I've been pretending it's fall.  My imagination stretched itself like crazy to keep pretending this week while we had four days in a row of 100-degree weather, but nonetheless I pressed ahead pretending.  In a climate like this, combined with an unseasonably hot October, you just don't sit around waiting for baking weather or canning weather or everything nice weather, because it might not ever come.

What you should do instead is sign up for your grocery store's email list, browse their digital coupon collection, and maybe even download their app.  You'll find the best sales on apples ahead of time, which means you'll make and preserve your own applesauce for the first time in a couple of years. 

 It might be miserable, canning over a hot stove on a 99-degree day, but as it always happens with canning, you'll forget all the misery by the next morning and take a high level of joyous satisfaction in your beautiful jars all lined up in the pantry.

Then when you wake up one day and get the email that says you can have a free pumpkin, you can walk straight over to the store after breakfast with your husband to pick out your free pumpkin.  When you see that the bin is priced at flat-rate rather than per-pound pricing, you'll be glad you brought your husband to carry home the 20-pound pumpkin of choice.

You might discover that while 20-pound pumpkins fit in the sink to be washed, they do not fit in the oven to be baked.  No matter.  You'll manage to get it cut in half for partial roasting.

I'm hoping we've had our last 100-degree day of the year. But even if we have more hot days to survive, I'm grateful for the chance to tuck a few jars of applesauce into the pantry, and a few bags of pumpkin chunks into the freezer to use later in soups and stews.  

17 August 2016


Before living in south Texas, I had not encountered salt this way.  I wouldn't have even known to put it on my bucket list (if I had one).

Strong enough to hold up under my steps, white enough to sparkle in the sunlight, concentrated enough to stay in formation under the smooth water's surface.

Sprinkled over the dirt this way, you'd almost think it was a dusting of snow.   Except it's about 100 degrees out, which is the furthest thing from winter you can imagine.

Amazingly, some plants thrive in this salt land.

And amazingly, the salt land helps me thrive, too.

15 August 2016

{Book Review} Ironing Made Easy

Ironing Made Easy:  The Far Easier Way to Iron

The other day I discovered how to find free Kindle books on Amazon, and while I was paging through my search results, I discovered this little gem that has already saved me at least ten minutes over the course of two already-short ironing sessions.  I discovered that my biggest ironing enemy was my set-up, and with a few simple changes, I am on my way to ironing efficiently.  

On the first week of school and piano lessons, I'm grateful for anything that saves me time on household tasks.  This ebook is free at the moment, so take a look, and let me know if it saves you time!

03 May 2016

First Garden Papaya

If you want to get technical, the 'possums got the first couple of papayas from our tree.  This time, though, we out-smarted them, picking the fruits a little bit green.  We've cut the first one open this morning, and the verdict is that papayas straight from your own tree are the best papayas.

30 April 2016

Books: Country Living

I was about eight years old when my parents moved out of a neighborhood and into the country.  Five fertile acres with a big garden plot surrounded by fields and pastures became the world of all kinds of childhood adventures for my brother and me.

If you get us started telling you about the sweetest beets, the tenderest carrots, the loads of potatoes, the plum tree, the rhubarb patch, the piles of basalt rocks that were ours to build fortresses, and the stack of small logs that became our log cabin, it might be a while before you get us to stop.  And I haven't even mentioned the gooseberry bush yet!

And then once you knew all about my childhood homes in the country, it wouldn't surprise you at all that one of my favorite little compilations in the Ellen White section of my bookshelf is called Country Living.

I wasn't sure I had ever read it cover to cover before, so I decided to sit down with it this spring and take it all in.  I pulled a couple copies of it off my shelf, only to discover a gem I hadn't noticed before.  What I first thought was a second copy of the same thing was actually a little book called, From City to Country Living:  A Guide to Those Making the Change.

Perfect!  I could read them both together!

For a little background, the compilation "Country Living" is a collection of Ellen White's statements written in the late 1800s and early 1900s, highlighting not only the physical but also the spiritual benefits of a simple country life.  

What I discovered when I picked up the Guide to Those Making the Change was that when the Country Living compilation was put together and published for the first time in 1946 (yes, right after the second world war, when people all over the world were still shaken by the war-time experiences), the reaction far surpassed anyone's expectations, and the little book got printed over and over again in a few short years.  

People were so inspired and had so many questions about country living that the Guide to Those Making the Change was published to give not only general advice about considering a move to the country, but also historical context to many of the statements found in Country Living itself.

While I of course just soaked up every little detail about the lessons to be learned from working the soil, and the peace and health to be enjoyed in a country environment, perhaps the statements in both booklets touching on how to make good solid decisions as a Christian became my favorite parts.  

In fact, if you needed to make any kind of decision in your life, and you were looking for the best ways to know how to make the best decision, whether it had to do with your home's location or not, I would refer you to these two booklets.

Here are some of my favorite gems.

"Better sacrifice any and every worldly consideration than to imperil the precious souls [in context, children and family] committed to your care."  Country Living, 5

"God will reveal from point to point what to do next."  Country Living, 7

"We are to stand free in God, looking constantly to Christ for instruction."  Country Living, 11

"Those who have felt at last to make a move, let it not be in a rush, in an excitement, or in a rash manner, or in a way that hereafter they will deeply regret that they did move out..."  Country Living, 25

"Let everyone take time to consider carefully; and not to be like the man in the parable who began to build, and was not able to finish.  Not a move should be made but that movement and all that it portends are carefully considered--everything weighed...To every man was given his work according to his several ability.  Then let him not move hesitatingly, but firmly, and yet humbly trusting in God."  Country Living, 26

"Spread every plan before God with fasting, [and] with the humbling of the soul before the Lord Jesus, and commit thy ways unto the Lord.  The sure promise is, He will direct thy paths.  He is infinite in resources.  The Holy One of Israel, who calls the host of heaven by name, and holds the stars of heaven in position, has you individually in His keeping..."  Country Living, 28

"If there was ever time for guarded, intelligent planning, now is such a time."  A Guide, 7

"Too much is involved to take one step in the dark...Get all the counsel you can, but make your own decision."  A Guide, 7, 8

"All rash and careless moves are to be avoided.  We must know where we are to go and what we are going to do for a livelihood when we get there.  On the other hand, we are not to sit idly waiting for an opportunity to present itself."  A Guide, 21

"How do we know what God may have in store for us if we do not begin to look around to see?"  A Guide, 22

And because I'm a homemaker at heart, I can't resist including this last passage, even though it's not directly related to making decisions.

"Make a home worthy of the name, not merely a shelter from heat and storm or from the atomic bomb.  Make it a place of peace and contentment, of progressive development of the intellectual and spiritual nature.  Make it a school for the children and parents, a medical center for the community where all will learn of the broader, fuller joy of right living."  A Guide, 36

Country Living is available free as an audio book or a PDF (actually several different formats) here.  You can also purchase a hard copy here.

From City to Country Living:  A Guide to Those Making the Change is available free as a PDF download here.  You can purchase a hard copy here.