I don't really know where this post is going but I feel the need to write it anyway.

Lately at work, I've been building a database from an old excel file and as anyone who has done that before knows, it involves lots of mindless data entry. Which, not so coincidentally has coincided with the Revive our Hearts series on the Proverbs 31 Woman (True Woman Makeover) so I've been able to listen to that as I work. I hadn't ever heard of that group or Nancy Leigh DeMoss before but I am thoroughly enjoying the series.

If you are a Christian woman, whether complementarian or egalitarian, I urge you to read/listen to at least the first one of these talks. I know a lot of my friends are egalitarian and I'm not suggesting you listen to necessarily be convinced and change your evil way of thinking (said in best deep and condescending way imaginable, lol) but more to understand the other point of view and why complementarians like myself feel the way we do. I get so much out of reading other peoples' explanations of what they believe the Bible is saying about a certain subject, whether that is quiver-full movement or dress-only or Halloween celebrators or non-Halloween celebrators. I obviously have not changed my thinking to agree with all of them but in most cases, it helps me to see them not as "people who believe weird things" but as people with different convictions (think 1 Corinthians 8). I obviously think my way has more scriptural merit or it wouldn't be what I believe, but I recognize that others feel differently.

Personally, this series has really had convicted me in several areas and inspired me to work on them. Of course, as soon as I felt the Holy Spirit telling me I needed to let him address areas, my mind went to work thinking of how I was going to fix that. And yesterday, it bit me in the butt. I had an awful attitude. I was so grumpy I ended up picking a fight with Craig over how he took cookies to his office and I can't even blame it on PMS. Now, I won't share all the areas in which I was convicted, but spending more time fighting with my husband was certainly NOT one of them. So I am starting over today - don't you just love how grace allows you to do that, start new every day! Reminds me of Ms. Stacy's wise advice to Anne, "tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it." But today, I am asking the Holy Spirit to change me, to mold me into Christ.

I hear people say they want to be like Christ fairly often and I include myself in that. But do I really really, deep down inside, strive to be like Him, or do I think if I were, I would be no fun (who said Jesus wasn't fun?), I would be too perfect (I wouldn't), no one would like me because I'd be too harsh and Pharisee-like (not if I was really like Jesus). Do I convince myself that some weakness (sins) are good/okay because they remind me I'm not perfect (I don't really think that will ever be a problem).

Have we as a Christian culture, taught ourselves to cringe at the idea of "good works?" I know I don't really like the phrase "good works." I have somehow equated that with trying to earn salvation, and it certainly can come to mean that when taken out of context. But I keep coming upon this verse that use that phrase in a good way:

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

Now, good works will never get me into heaven. Salvation is a gift and trying to earn it is ridiculous and wrong. But once we are a Christian, we show our love to God by our obedience.

This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome. I John 5:2-3

If I do good things to show God how good I am and try to earn my way into heaven, he sees that as repulsive as bloody tampons (did anyone else just throw up a little in their mouth at the thought of giving God bloody tampons?). Yet if I do good things out of obedience to God, he sees that as love. To people, it may seem like the same thing, but God knows my heart.

I think of good works as being like little kids who go with their mom to buy a present for their dad. Now, the dad is one who earned the money so really he is giving himself a present, but does the dad think like that? No, he loves his present because it is his child way of showing love for his dad.

I love God and I want to show him my love by my obedience. Now, the only good things I can do are because of the Holy Spirit who was given to me as a gift when I became a Christian, but God sees my good works and obedience as love - as long as I understand that even my obedience is a result of God's grace and love towards me through the Holy Spirit, and not because of my own goodness. It is a hard concept and no matter how much I think I understand it, I don't live it out. So this post is really just to remind me of what I should already know and maybe it will remind you too.


Visit From the Congressman

My current Congressman, Chet Edwards (D-TX) just happened to stop by one of my classes today. As you may recall, he was mentioned as a potential running mate for Obama before Biden was selected. Edwards brought this up during his visit, stating he was one of Obama's top 4 choices and relaying this story, which is also found in the linked article:

"Caroline Kennedy called me on August 10 to let me know my name would soon be leaked to the press," Edwards said. "It was a fascinating experience for my family."

Much to his misfortune, there was another "Edwards" making national news at the same time. John Edwards, former democratic vice presidential nominee, started a major media wave when he admitted to having an extramarital affair that ended two years ago.

"Senator Obama said it would cause too much confusion to have two 'Edwards' in the headlines at the same time," Edwards said.

It's quite unfortunate for him that the John Edwards thing broke when it did. Of course, it could have broke much earlier, and spared Chet the damage, if the media had done what it normally does when there are rumors of infidelity by politicians. That is, pursue the story instead of burying it. This arguably would have helped Clinton in Iowa too, where she was edged by Obama in a close three-way race. But back to the story: it's too bad for Rep. Edwards, but the way he brought up his "final four" status right away in his remarks to us seemed rather self-aggrandizing.

He went on to discuss leadership (which was the class he was visiting), stating that its not the general who barks the loudest who is the best leader, but the one who can inspire his troops to follow him.

He opened the floor to questions, and a student asked about the beginnings of his political career. Edwards cited the civil rights movement as something that drew him to politics, and he discussed getting a job with his congressman out of college. Shortly thereafter, he ran for that man's seat when he retired. In the primary, he was pitted against his old professor at A&M, none other than future Senator Phil Gramm (then a Democrat), who narrowly beat him.

I seized the next questioning opportunity, and I asked him what his approach to getting things done in the House is, what with 434 other Congressmen trying to pursue their own goals. He said it is important to focus on 3-4 key issues, and become an expert on those issues. His stated that his main issues are veterans, education, securing the world's nuclear weapons, and church/state separation.

(As an aside, this is the second Congressman I've grilled. I was able to subject Rep. Bishop of Utah to a tough question about earmarks last summer).

The last question to Edwards was one about a difficult political stance he has taken. He spoke about opposing a Constitutional amendment to require prayer in schools. He said he was called "un-American and un-Texan" for his stance.

With that, he headed off to some Rotary meeting. It was pretty neat for him to stop by, and as a bonus, it preempted our class.


Walk away from the computer, just walk away.

That is what I am imagining Craig telling me right now. And it is sound advice. Because I just got another email from someone in my building announcing that down the hall there is a Great Dane, with a broken leg, and one brown eye and one blue eye and a little white diamond on his forehead. And he needs a home.

Have I ever mentioned that someday I want a Great Dane. And that I miss having a dog. And that I am a sucker for injured animals. No? Oh, well it is true.

Did I ever mention that I live in a small apartment with no yard, not at all suitable for owning any dog, especially one that will end up the size of a pony? Yes, I thought so.

I don't normally even open the plethora of pet adoption emails I receive daily because I don't even want to know what/who is out there, but this had all the good details in the subject so I couldn't even look away. Now I am sad. Even the thought of my advertising tube socks can not cheer me up.

A Fine Parting Gift

I got a package in my mailbox at work last week. It was very exciting because although I am in charge of all the orders for the lab and receive tons of stuff in the mail, it is technically addressed to my P.I. but this one had my name on it. My first though, "A package, for little ol' me, just what could it be." You think I'm exaggerated, but I was practically giddy.

I opened it up and found these:

Obviously my feet were not included. I stared for quite a few seconds wondering who would send me tube socks but then I noticed "The Belly Dancer" written on the side and I had an epiphany.

In setting up the new lab, I have been ordering lots of new equipment and when it comes, so does a little warranty card that I am supposed to fill out. I vaguely remember one such card containing a little sticker urging you to fill it out and in return they will send a gift. I didn't pay much attention because I was planning on filling them all out anyway and after the clock incident, I wasn't sure if I wanted any more free gifts. But as these socks don't appear to be possessed in any way, I will keep them. But only because they are so stylish.

I am still a bit confused as to the connection between the equipment and footwear though. A belly dancer is a little platform that holds tubes and rocks back and forth (like a belly dancer). It looks like so:

I would have expected the "gift" to be a little more scientific in nature, like a sample test tube or perhaps a special wipe for cleaning the machine. Or at least more belly dancer related. Maybe a magnet with a belly dancer on it, to remind me of the wonderfulness of their product. But socks? Oh well, beggars can't be choosers. They should make good hiking socks.

So here is my advice. If you ever order a belly dancer, be sure to fill out the warranty card so you too can be sent a pair of white, advertising, tube socks. If only you all could be as lucky as I.


I just don't know what to think.

I like books. I really like bookstores. I like the way the smell and how quiet they are (unless someone comes in with their child who has not been taught book store etiquette - that is a big pet peeve of mine, especially when it after 8pm, shouldn't those kids be in bed?).

I will admit that while I like the idea of little local bookstores, I don't ever go there. No, I go to Borders or Barnes and Noble. I feel like I, being the firm conservative that I am, should support Borders, but I really do like Barnes and Noble more. If I were to be completely honest, I would admit that they are practically clones of each other but something in my heart says Barnes and Noble is better, I guess it is just marketing at work. But in the last few places I have lived, there has been only one of the two, so I haven't really had to make the choice.

Unless you count signing up for an email list for Barnes and Noble and not Borders as making a choice. Then I guess I have. But they send good coupons for coffee (and let me substitute chai!) so you see, I have to love them.

Still, with all my love for B&N, I was still taken aback when I got an email announcing their new line - Barnes and Noble Home!

What? You are a bookstore. You are supposed to sell books! I really don't even like it when you try to sneak cds into your store, unless of course they are books on cds. When I want to buy a candlesticks or a picnic/wine tote, I will not go to Barnes and Noble. And not because nobody buys candlesticks anymore and yours cost $150. No, because B&N is a bookstore and buying anything home-y there is just wrong. I don't even care that their stuff is cute.

Maybe I am just not open to new ideas. Am I the only one who thinks that is weird?


In honor of Amanda

I love funny things. Not kinda funny things or things that make you smile, but really funny things that make you start coughing because you are looking at them at work and it would be for you to be laughing the way you really want to so you try to hide it and end up choking yourself.

I also loves cakes. Amanda has been showcasing her new found cake decorating skills on her blog and apparently seeing those, along with watching too many episodes of Ace of Cakes, has jaded me. For some reason I had come to the conclusion that cake decorating must be easy. I guess that just shows their skills because after you view this site, you will see that it is obviously very very difficult, or else...well, my mother always said, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. So I won't.

Except to remind you that if you are at work, you might end in a coughing fit.


What We Expected

Sometimes, when a student asks a professor for a letter of recommendation, the professor tells the student to compose the letter for the professor to sign. It appears the New York Times editorial board similarly delegated responsibility for writing its presidential endorsement to the Obama campaign. The article is filled with the same half-truths, empty arguments and sophistry that we are used to from the Obama/media complex. I'd like to highlight a few of the most egregious statements:

"Mr. Obama has met challenge after challenge, growing as a leader and putting real flesh on his early promises of hope and change. He has shown a cool head and sound judgment."
  • The Times suggests that running for president qualifies someone to be president. In that case, I should apply to be editor of the Times, and tell them that I am just as qualified as Obama is.
"In the same time, Senator John McCain of Arizona has retreated farther and farther to the fringe of American politics, running a campaign on partisan division, class warfare and even hints of racism."
  • McCain is not the candidate who's been ripping on CEOs and rich people throughout the campaign, trying to state that paying taxes is patriotic and that the rich don't pay enough. Obama is the candidate of class warfare. As for racism, the Times fails to produce an example of it coming from McCain, because it can't. That is completely false. Elsewhere in the article, the Times tries to tie McCain to those e-mails your crazy aunt has been sending around, when it is clear that no such tie exists.

"The American financial system is the victim of decades of Republican deregulatory and anti-tax policies...Mr. Obama sees that far-reaching reforms will be needed to protect Americans and American business."

  • The American financial system is victim to government-mandated loosening of mortgage lending standards. McCain tried to reform Fannie Mae, but the Democrats stood in the way, and Obama took more money from Fannie Mae that all but two other senators.
"Mr. Obama is clear that the nation’s tax structure must be changed to make it fairer."
  • Americans with an income below the median -- half of all households -- paid a mere 3% of all income taxes in 2005.
"His choice of Senator Joseph Biden — who has deep foreign-policy expertise — as his running mate is another sign of that sound judgment."
  • Pat Buchanan asks, "Has anyone ever asked Joe about his own and his party's role in cutting off aid to South Vietnam, leading to the greatest strategic defeat in U.S. history and the Cambodian holocaust? Has anyone ever asked Joe about the role he and his party played in working to block Reagan's deployment of Pershing missiles in Europe, and SDI, which Gorbachev concedes broke the Soviets and won the Cold War?" Biden also voted against the 1991 Gulf War and against the Iraq surge. Experience is no good if Biden keeps getting it wrong.
Mr. Obama may appoint less liberal [Supreme Court] judges than some of his followers might like, but Mr. McCain is certain to pick rigid ideologues."
  • What reason do we have to think Obama would be less liberal that the current Congress? Obama has been rated the most liberal senator. McCain is much more likely to disappoint his party on judges that Obama is.
"Mr. Obama has withstood some of the toughest campaign attacks ever mounted against a candidate. He’s been called un-American and accused of hiding a secret Islamic faith. The Republicans have linked him to domestic terrorists and questioned his wife’s love of her country."
  • Uh, Obama is linked to a domestic terrorist! And his wife did say that this is a mean country that she'd never been proud of until Obama became a presidential candidate. And I don't think nutty e-mails qualify as "tough attacks." In addition, Obama has been the recipient of full-fledged, all-out support from the media. I'd say he's been subject to less scrutiny than any modern presidential candidate. He's also been subject to less scrutiny than Joe the Plumber, for that matter.
I could go on, but I think you get the picture. The lives of many trees were utterly wasted to produce this inane, canard-ridden endorsement. Luckily, I don't think anybody cares who the Times endorses, especially since we all knew this was coming.

Learn while you eat!

This may be weird, but since I don't like to actually spend money and take home things that I don't have room for, we do a lot of window shopping where I like to point out things I will buy in the future. Like at Kohls, when I see some fancy attachment for my kitchenaide mixer, or a fabulous pot and pan set I will say "when I have a house, I'm going to get one of those, should I get red or black?" and then I will discuss it while Craig pretends to listen. I can't be the only woman who does that, can I? But normally, Craig just goes, "Uh, huh" while he is probably actually pondering important things like how he will represent Pakistan in the next simulated diplomatic conferance. It works well for us, I get to look at pretty things and think about the future, and Craig gets credit for spending time with me without spending anything! Although after an exhausting 30 minutes of window shopping, I am often in need of ice cream but he thinks I'm worth it :-)

But back during our "Day of Museums" Craig and I took a few minutes to go through the gift shop at the Natural Science Museum and we spotted something we are both excited about buying in the future - plastic educational placemats!
Here is Craig, who obviously has learned well from the Bob Barker girls, showing off the two we liked best from their selection but there are a lot of really neat ones out there. We are just going to have to have a lot of kids so we can justify purchasing them all.

There's the classic map placemate, both world and USA are good solid choices, albeit lacking in creativity.But I have a feeling Craig and I will try to oh-so-subtlely influences our children towards our own interests, with Craig prefering the presidential placemat:
while I will select the more biological types:
Either way, you have to admit it, plastic educational placemats are awesome! So do you have a favorite educational placemat, either in real life or your imaginary future?



I don't know what it is about fall, but as soon as the weather gets even a tad bit chilly, I get the strong urge to start craft projects, anything and everything from sewing and quilting to crochet and scrapbooking. It started last week for me and I knew before I could start anything new, I had to finish Craig's quilt. Yes, the quilt I started last August.

Well, I was now motivated so I picked it up and in about 5 hours finished the work that had been sitting there for months. It is done! I love it. I think I am going to have to improve my machine quilting because it takes forever to hand quilt but I love how it looks. I was originally worried about the red and maroon clashing but Craig and I had a really tough time finding fabric we both liked so I went with it anyway and now I really like it. I especially like the back, it just screamed Craig to me.
I can't wait to start my next quilting project. I have a few ideas that I need to narrow down, all of which are a bit more creative than the t-shirt quilt, three of those is enough for a while.


20 Burgers for $2

UPDATE: Now it's only 8 burgers for $2. You can no longer combine these two deals. But the $25 GEICO gift card is by itself worth using.

No, seriously, we did it. Here's how you do it:
  1. Go register at the GEICO homepage (link is at top right). You don't have to buy insurance or anything. When you get the resulting e-mail (in a few hours), log in, then close the window you just opened. Go back to your e-mail and click the link again, and it should take you to a page with a $25 Omaha Steaks gift card. There should be a long gift card number. Leave that page open.
  2. Go here and enter your e-mail address. When you get an e-mail from them, click the link to begin shopping.
  3. Over on the left, click on "Burgers, Brats..." You can select anything, but for this deal, select "8 5-oz. steak burgers for $12.99." For $2 more, you can get 12 4-oz. burgers. Add to cart, then checkout. 12 free burgers should be added to your order. Click checkout.
  4. Put in your address.
  5. On the next screen, enter the gift code from the GEICO e-mail in the proper box. Your bill should be down to $1.98 (or $3.98, if you went that route). Go ahead and pay, and you're done. Enjoy.
H/T Catherine.


A picture perfect weekend

Meal Plan Monday

I have thought about joining the meal plan monday crowd but hadn't ever gotten around to actually posting them, especially since I rarely start my menu on a Monday but Bridge's asking was finally enough to prompt me.

This is my first attempt at a two week menu, I think it will make it easier to coordinate leftovers, especially with my bean meals. After I made the menu, I made up two grocery lists. My big list, which I used when shopping yesterday, and a short list of perishables that I need to pick up next week.

At first meal planning was hard, it took me a long time to come up with 7 whole meals! But I started assigning themes to certain days: Sunday I try to do a simple pot meal or a crockpot meal so I have sunday free to nap and hang out with Craig. Monday is our super busy night, we don't get home until 8:30 so it is breakfast for dinner/leftovers. I have something simple planned that uses things I already have so if we end up having leftovers available, it's not a big deal to skip. Wednesday is another ballet day for me so we do spagetti since it is quick. And Thursday is fish night. That means I really only have to come up with a few meals for each completely from scratch.

I only plan dinners but I have started including prep work in my menu as well as planning snacks. Craig is a big snacker and he was always complaining that I was trying to starve him until I realized that I was very good at sticking to my list at the store but I was making a list considering we were only eating meals. Now that I am planning snacks, based mostly on sales and what I make over the weekend, he is a much happier camper.

This menu does not contain a lot of meat. We have been reducing our meat consumption but this is low even for us, mostly because we had people over for dinner twice already this month and used up meat then so this is to compensate.

Wheat Thins

Lentils and Rice
Pumpkin Pie (save half of crust dough and batter for later)

Apple Omelettes

Lentil Gyros (lentil patties made from leftover lentil/rice mixture with spices from the gryos recipe we like) serve in Homemade Pita (from freezer) with lettuce and cucumber yogurt sauce (same recipe as above)

Make Black beans for tomorrow and tuesday

Baked Salmon with Pesto
Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

Lentil and Rice Soup (last of the lentil/rice mix in broth with carrots, celery, onions, tomatoes, brocolli stems and herbs)
Wheat Rolls
Pumpkin Pie

Mom's Macaroni and Cheese
Wheat Rolls

Chicken Pesto Pizza
Prep - Cook extra chicken for chicken packets

Eggs and Toast

Baked Black Bean and Cheese Burritos with lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, sour cream.


Tuna Melts
French Fries
Carrot sticks/Oranges

Chicken Packets
Peas or Corn
Salad (if any is left)

White bean apple chili
Irish Soda bread


Oh,no, they didn't!

After I mentioned the tomatoes in the last post, it got me thinking about what else they might have added so I took a look at the cans when I started the spaghetti sauce and sure enough, in comparing the plain cans to the Italian herb blend cans, they added oregano, basil and garlic. They also added sugar...to my tomatoes! A fifteen ounce can of herbed tomatoes has 14 more grams of sugar than a plain can. 14 grams! I am shocked and appalled. I was already planning on trying the recipe without sugar but I definitely left it out once I read that and I will not be buying any more flavored tomatoes. It does serve as a good reminder to never assume things and always check the labels!

Spaghetti Sauce

The weekend is going splendidly but I thought I would take a break while the pumpkin is roasting to share my spaghetti sauce recipe. It came from a once-a-month type cookbook of my mom's.

You'll need:
  • 1/2 lb bulk Italian sausage. You can add more or less depending on how meaty you like your sauce. Also, the sausage you choose can really influence the outcome of the sauce. Last time I used a hot and spicy bratwurst style sausage (stripped from the casings) I had gotten on sale and it was quite a bit different from anything I had made before, but really good. Find something you like and stick with it, or experiment with whatever is cheap and you always get a different style.
  • 3/4 c. finely chopped onion
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 52 oz crushed tomatoes in puree - This part of the recipe baffles me because I normally only buy cans in 14.5 oz or 28 oz denominations, neither of which makes it possible to easily get to 52 so I get close (56, or 58) and call it a day. (Don't use any with herbs added because they typically add sugar too)
  • 1 c water
  • 2 cloves garlic (or more)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 T sugar (Optional)
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 2 T chopped parsley ( I normally use a couple tsp of dried instead, and I have also used fresh basil when it was available, work with what you have)
  • 1 tsp salt
In a large pot, cook the sausage and the onion until the sausage is brown. Add everything else, bring to a boil then reduce, cover and let simmer for 2 hours, stirring every once in a while. Make sure you have something available to snack on because if you have to smell that goodness for 2 hours and have a bare cupboard, you will be sad, trust me on that one. Cool and freeze. It makes about 6 cups.


Men on the Moon

We were able to attend a great event at the Bush Library this past week. A screening was held of a new documentary entitled "The Wonder of it All" which contains interviews with 7 Apollo astronauts who walked on the moon. The event was hosted by George H.W. Bush himself, and 7 astronauts, including Buzz Aldrin (the 2nd man to walk on the moon) were in attendance.

Rather than dwelling on the historical or scientific aspect of the program, the film dealt with the experiences of the individual astronauts as they recalled their astronaut careers. One common thread that I found interesting is that the astronauts were so busy collecting samples and performing tests while on the moon that they had very little time to enjoy themselves. One of the early astronauts talked about Alan Shepard's moon golf shots and wished he'd have thought of something like that (note: there are a lot of "the moon landing was faked" morons on Youtube). I think I would have brought a baseball bat instead. The astronauts' stories made it easy to imagine being on the moon, climbing back up into the orbiter knowing that you are never coming back, and wanting to stay just a little bit longer.

The astronaut who fell over in this clip, Charlie Duke, was there. This incident is kind of funny, but it wasn't at the time for him.


We are busy busy people in a busy busy world.

I have a couple of fun posts with cute pictures lined up but my wireless wasn't happy last night so I could post them. So instead, you get to read my too do list for this week. Mostly because if I don't write it down, I will forget stuff. And I have already lost my menu for this week so paper and I are on the outs right now.

After a couple of busy traveling weekends, we had a weekend lined up with no major plans and I was so excited about it that I started mentally compiling a list of things I wanted to get accomplished on my "free weekend." It has now turned into a long list and I don't think I will get it completed. But that is okay, I will try. And I will make sure I fit a nap or two in there as well, don't worry.

This weekend I will (try to)...

Rush home to get ready for our dinner party for the poor pitiful grad students in Craig's office who live off of ramen noodles and frozen dinners (at least their standards aren't high).

Midnight yell - don't forget the mugging...too tired, maybe next week. Still fit in some mugging though.

Make 2 week menu (attempting to move from a week long menu)

Grocery shopping

Make double batch of spaghetti sauce to freeze

Make granola bars (recipe may be coming soon, I'm still working out some quirks) Changed this to wheat thins, I have more granola bars left over from last week than I thought.

Roast a pumpkin and make it into a pie

Finish Christmas gift list

Start compiling supplies for homemade gifts

Switch summer and winter clothes

Try to put everything back into teenie tiny closet

Go to the library

Whew, I'm tired even thinking about it. But it's all fun stuff and there is always next weekend to finish up.


UHF: Squeaky Clean (or is that smelly clean?)

So one area that I have been really interested in progressing to further hippiness is cleaning and using homemade cleaners. I do worry about the chemicals I am putting on my counters, the same counters where I place my nice absorbent bread while making a sandwich or where I put my toothbrush.

Also, my skin is very sensitive and I already have good excuses for not cleaning, I don't need to add fear of hives to my list. And "healthy" (Bio-Kleen, 7th Generation, etc) cleaners cost money so if I can make them from things I have lying around the house, that's even better.

I figured moving would be a good time to address the issue as we would buying almost all new stuff anyway. So instead of rushing out to buy Windex and Comet, we picked up a big thing of vinegar (the regular white stuff) at Sam's and a not-quite-as-big bottle of hydrogen peroxide and a couple of squirt bottles to keep reasonable amounts in. I found my squirt bottles at Wal-Mart for less than a dollar and they even came in my favorite color. Just be sure to get a dark bottle for the hydrogen peroxide so you don't end up trying to disinfect things with a bottle of water - it isn't very effective.

There are lots of neat "recipes" out in the blogosphere but I wanted to start with the most simple approach and only get complicated when and if we needed to.

  • For general cleaning (like bathroom and kitchen counters, wiping down outside toilet, etc) we just use the vinegar. The smell isn't the best, but it does go away pretty quickly.
  • For disinfecting, I spray the vinegar on the surface, then spray the hydrogen peroxide on top of that, let it sit for ~30 seconds, then wipe dry. I use this in the sink and if I have been working with raw meat on the counter. I also use it on my meat bucket in the fridge once a week. (Meat bucket = a plastic container that I put my meat in while it is thawing, just in case of leakage).
  • If I need an abrasive (you know, to scrub that jelly I didn't wipe up earlier than morning), I use a bit of baking soda, water, and elbow grease.
  • For the toilet, I just drain it, pour in some vinegar, let it sit while doing the rest of the cleaning, then swish and flush and I'm done.
  • We use a squeegee on our shower every morning so it stays pretty clean and the vinegar does fine on the shower walls when it needs it.

So far, I am happy with the way these work. I have heard other recipes use diluted vinegar with baking soda mixed in a bottle as an all purpose cleaner so we might try that, just to see if we can reduce the vinegar smell a bit.

But not all my plans worked out so well. Using vinegar to clean the mirror was not effective. It left lots of streaks and the few places where their weren't streaks, there was a haze. Lots of people seem to have no problem with this so it might be my technique. I do my cleaning with old cut-up t-shirts, but I'm going to try switching back to paper towels for the mirror. Also, I'm not diluting the vinegar, maybe I should be? If that fails, I've heard that same baking soda/vinegar mix I mentioned above makes a good window cleaner. Does anyone have any other suggestions?

Also, I haven't found a good replacement for mopping or cleaning the tub. In fact, since we actually got paid to take them from Walgreens, I got Windex and Scrubbing bubbles just last week. As I said, I'm going to try a few more things before resorting to opening the Windex (mostly b/c it isn't the end of the world if my mirror is streaky) but I think I will just completely cave on the tub cleaner. It wasn't really very clean when we moved in and it really needs a major cleaning before I will take an actual bath in it. But once I get it really clean to start with, I'll try to find a more natural way to keep it that way.

I think my next step is to try Dr. Bronner's castile soap. I've used it in the past, but only as a regular soap, not a "super fantastic do anything but deliver a baby for you wonder soap" like I've recently heard it proclaimed as. We went to our local health food store on Saturday (during the football game - it was almost more than Craig could take!) and they had it but it was a lot more expensive than I can get online so I'll just have to be patient.

I plan to try it both as my next "no-poo" step, a dish soap and possible as a remedy to the mopping and tub problems. And of course, I'll let you know how it goes.


So That's What Community Organizers Do!

Register fake voters, that is, including Mickey Mouse and the Dallas Cowboys (in Nevada):

An activist organization on Tuesday defended its voter registration practices amid new allegations of voter fraud and a call from Republican lawmakers to investigate irregularities.

In Ohio, Democrat Barack Obama told reporters that the group's registration problems should not be used by the GOP as an excuse to keep voters from turning out on Election Day.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, known as ACORN, has registered 1.3 million young people, minorities and poor and working-class voters, the group says.

Some of those registration cards have become the focus of fraud investigations in Nevada, Connecticut, Missouri and at least five other states. Election officials in Ohio and North Carolina also recently questioned the group's voter forms.


Happy Birthday Craig!

Edit: Pretending is no longer necessary.

Okay, this is when I confess that I messed up. I forgot to upload the oh-so-cute baby picture of Craig I had all ready to go and now I am at work and I can't. But I will add it tonight, so for now just pretend.

See, isn't he cute?

And then I would say all sorts of mushy things about Craig, like how I love him and how he makes me laugh like no one else can and how I am glad I got to spend this last past year of his life with him and how I'm glad we get to spend the next years together and how I still think is just as cute as he was in that picture, but that might be too lovey-dovey, so I won't. Instead, I will just say Happy Birthday!

Things I learned last week:

Mornings are better when your alarm goes off.

French toast is better when it is made with french bread.

Ballet is better during midterms, when only half the class shows up.

Lentils are better with lots of spices and cheese.

Quilting is better when you actually complete your projects.

The whole week is better when it is full of ice cream.


Freak Show

I'll admit - I am intrigued by freaks of nature. I wish I had been around in the 1930's to go to state fairs and see Lobster Boy, Gorilla Girl, etc (even though many of them were fake). But alas, those days are gone. However, I did stumble across a freak show of sorts on campus the other day, on the second story of a veterinary building. Take, for example, the horse with hydrocephalus:

Note also the two-face calf on the left. Or the two-headed lamb:

Finally, I will leave you with two lambs with one head, which surely is a rarity. I guess the technical term is "diprosopus," or craniofacial duplication, although the photo below doesn't seem to match the Wikipedia entry.

I'd love to have seen the look on the face of the taxidermist when these specimens were brought into the room. Was it shock, horror, or delight?


Out of control

As has been previously noted, Craig has a tendency to see similarities between people when they do not really exist. Now I offer up this conversation as proof he has gone too far:

M - (as I pick him up from school) How was your day?

C - Good.

M - Anything interesting happen?

C - We watched a movie in one of my classes. Oh, and one of the guys in it looked just like your dad!

M - Did he really look like my dad, or did he look as much like my dad as Barbara Boxer looks like my mom? Because, despite what you think, my mom doesn't look like Barbara Boxer.

C - He really looked like your dad.

M - Well, what was the movie about?

C - Nazis having a meeting.

M - So you're saying my dad looks like a Nazi.

C - No, I'm saying your dad looks like an actor portraying a Nazi.

M - Because that is so much better?

Later on that evening, he showed me a picture of the Nazi portraying actor and it was none other than Kenneth Branagh. He is definitely not the ugliest Nazi one could be compared too but I still feel like I should be offended.

And for those of you who wonder what my parents look like in Craig's eyes, they look like this:


Jack is Back!

Is anyone else hella excited for the return of 24? Check out this trailer for the two-hour special on November 23:

This is apparently a self-contained episode that will provide a bridge between seasons 6 and 7. It takes place in Africa, and is reminiscent to me of the movie Tears of the Sun, which I thought was pretty good. It starred Bruce Willis, who was a forerunner of Jack Bauer, in a way. Bauer doesn't have a cool catch phrase, though, like yippee-kay-ay.

In both of these productions, the question of when to use our military forces is explored. Should we only use them when our national interest is at stake, or do we have a duty to intervene for humanitarian reasons, too, a la Somalia in the early 1990's? Hollywood generally portrays this as a no-brainer, siding with the latter view, as they apparently will in this 24 episode (of course, one can argue that it is in our interest to prevent and rehabilitate failed states, but that's a question for another post [which I'll have MacKenzie write]). In actuality, however, the choice is not that easy. How many American soldiers are we willing to lose to stop one in a long line of massacres in Africa?

In any event, I am excited to have Jack back on my TV.

Just Like Last Year

I was shocked (shocked!) to read that the entire ALCS will be on cable this year. Then I realized that I have written about this before. Sure enough, last year it was the NLCS. While I guess the status quo has not changed as far as the number of playoff games on cable is concerned, I still think it is un-American to have baseball championship series games on cable, instead of on broadcast TV. Of course, I have too much reading to do to watch baseball anyway, so it probably won't affect me much.


Poor unfortunate souls

I was going to make this rant a side note on my last post about Christian radio stations but it ended up being too long. It is almost more disturbing than the profanities.

Anyway, as I was driving Craig to school, the morning segment people are talking about how certain kids sports clubs and activities are getting really expensive. And then one of the guys says that he heard of a case where a family had to tell their child that he couldn't participate in something because it was too much money, to which the other announcer said, "Isn't that so sad and unfortunate, that a child can't do what he wants because the family can't fit it in their budget."

Uhm, let me think...No! There are a lot of sad and unfortunate things in the world, but somehow a parent telling a child that she can't take horse back riding lessons or that he has to settle for local little league instead of the elite traveling team doesn't strike me as one of them. That isn't sad - that is life.

The same people who think that is sad are the people who probably bought a house with a bigger mortgage than they could afford because it would be sad for their children to have to share a room. So the kids grown up having never learned that "no, I can't afford it" is a legimate statement and the parents blame the credit card company when their 19 year old has thousands of dollars in credit card debt.

No matter how much money you make, there will always be things you can't afford. There is nothing tragic about that. What ever happened to training you child to be a good steward or to thank God for His blessings? Seems to me this family was taking the right approach, teaching by example how to live within your means but somehow these Christians announcers have fallen for the view that you get your joy from things of the world, because if you don't have those things, that is a reason for you to be sad. Now that is sad.


The Health Portion of the Debate

Despite the fact that Drudge thought tonight's debate was "boring," I thought the health care portion of it, at least, was interesting. It illustrated important differences between the candidates. Obama favors the employer-based system we have now, while McCain seems to prefer a individual-based approach. I'm with McCain on this.

When people get their health insurance from work, they are beholden to their employer. How many people do you know who stay at a crappy job, or go out and get a crappy job, for the health benefits? And what if you lose your job? Under McCain's plan, people would receive tax incentives to purchase their own insurance. This would allow us to change jobs as we please without worrying about coverage.

In addition, you can probably find a plan that fits you better than your employer can. At my last job, I liked the plan we had, but I know that several of my co-workers were unhappy with it. Also, my employer was paying more for my insurance than I would have had to pay for my own plan. These problems would be eliminated if we had been empowered to purchase our own coverage.

McCain is also right that we should be able to shop across state lines, just like we do for car insurance (maybe Geico could get into the business). That way, people could escape ridiculous coverage requirements (maternity or mental health, whether you want it or not) that we find in states like Massachusetts and California.

In short, giving people more influence and control over their health insurance will lead to better coverage and lower costs. If you agree, vote for McCain.

Lesson learned...maybe not.

Again, thank you all for your comments on my lonely post, they were so encouraging and helpful. Carrie's questions about the purpose of church really got me thinking and while I still don't know how I would answer them, I do know it has to be more than just a place to sit on Sunday morning to listen to a sermon. I could do that on my couch in my jammies.

I think what I learned most from writing that post and thinking about it and the comments was that, for better or for worse, I am still emotionally attached to "the old church." At to be honest, whether we go back there or not, I agree with Rachel that is has been for the better. Would I rather have gone to that church for three years and only a little more than a year later, feel no attachment to it and the people that had meant so much to me? That may have been easier, but not better. The idea of church, at it's core, has to do with relationships. You can't take the relationship part out of it and be left with anything like what the bible describes the church:

Hebrews 10:24-25
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Acts 2:42 - They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.


Acts 2: 46-47
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

I see a few purposes for the church listed there - encouragement, instruction, worship, and accountability and breaking bread together. And for any of those to happen, with the possible exception of instruction, there has to be relationships. A potluck with one person is really just a pan of brownies and that is not healthy.

Now it isn't just relationships. I want to be encouraged toward love and good deeds but if my fellow Christians are "encouraging" my unbiblical behavior, I'm not gaining much. And if I am being instructed in lies, again, not really a big help.

Part of the trouble I had moving on from "t.o.c" came not from the events that lead to the initial decision but instead the feeling that I had been forced to leave (or more accurately, not go back) because of them.

And it was that way of thinking that had me feeling bitter. That's was a big problem - I do not go to a church or not go to a church because of any man. I go because of God. And when it becomes a matter of following God's lead, there is no reason for me to be bitter. I could justify being bitter about someone forcing me out of my church, I can't justify being bitter about God wanting me to be used somewhere else.

And I can't be unloving to the people of God. No matter what building they go to on Sunday morning, they are a part of God's church. And God loves His Church. Jesus loved them so much that he laid down his life for His church so I don't think he will take kindly to me not loving them.

1 John 4:19-20
We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.

Yep, I was right. He's not a fan of that. After praying and pondering and praying some more, I asked God to help me forgive. And he did, I no longer have that bitterness.

I will confess, I kinda thought that since I had learned the lesson God wanted me to learn, he would instantaneous make it easier for us to find a church home. I feel ridiculous admitting that, but I did. Saturday night, I was like, "Okay, God, now I know what the problem was and why this has been so difficult and we talked about it, you fixed it so now you can just show us your path, make it nice and clear." That didn't quite happen.

In the last few weeks, I've have also learned that I am way emotional about it and so I'm backing off and letting Craig make some of the decisions about what places to check out and keep considering and I know that we will find someplace eventually.

And to be honest, as uncomfortable as church shopping can be, I have gotten something out of every single service we have been too. At least one phrase has popped out at me from each sermon and really convicted me, and that is unusual for me. So, while I wouldn't recommend spending 10 weeks find a church, you can't put limitations on how God work in your life.


Radio Black Hole

I haven't always liked "Christian music."( by that I mean whatever you would hear on a Christian radio station, I like hymns.) There were a few artists I did like growing up, like the Newsboys and Michael W. Smith but overall, that wasn't my thing. But since returning to Texas, I have found myself on country overload. I like country music, I do, but I need a break sometimes.

So I found a Christian radio station to listen to in the car. Now that I have been listening for a few weeks and actually know some of the songs, it is quite enjoyable, especially as I starting my day.

But there is a weird anomaly that happens to my radio every morning. (Can something be an anomaly if it happens every day? I say yes.) Right as I get to the stop light to turn into the parking lot area, the Christian radio station signals get mixed up with some other radio station signals and I get this weird mix of praise and worship and rap.

Yesterday, there I was singing along with I was made to love, and by loved by you...blankity blank to your blank blank blank, you'd better back that blankity blank - It was most disconcerting.

It isn't that big a deal because as long as I don't get stuck at the light, it lasts maybe 45 seconds but it still catches me off guard. Maybe I should just splurge on a CD.