Monday, December 21, 2009

Peace on Earth!

Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, good will toward men.
Luke 2:14

Peace on earth seems to be an elusive thing. There are wars fought around the world. Terrorism. Conflict with our neighbors and co-workers. This world is a far cry from peace.

Yet at the birth of Christ, before he had done anything, God declared "Peace on earth." The entrance of the God-Man Jesus Christ into our sinful, war-ridden world altered our existence forever. Believe it or not, there is now peace on earth.

As with so many of God's statements, there is part of this that is for us here and now, and there is part of this that is yet to come. We will see a day when we will "beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks," but that peace is coming somewhere in the future.

Today I am pondering the part of this "peace on earth" that we currently have. After the surprising entrance onto the scene of Immanuel, God with us, we now have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom 5:1) God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. (2 Cor 5:19)

Where we were once enemies with God, separated from his grace and love, we are now brought back into relationship with him. And he has called us to declare a message of peace, of reconciliation -- with himself, with each other, with the whole of creation.

Although we may not see this fulfilled in its entirety in our lifetime, still we have this promise: "Peace on earth, good will to men."

This is a reprint of my post from the Christmas season last year.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

We are ready to celebrate this week leading up to Christmas. We have no family coming, and we are not traveling, so things are pretty quiet for us this year.

We are planning a special breakfast for Christmas morning: Stuffed Scrambled Eggs (my hubby is not fond of omelets, but loves scrabbled eggs with mushrooms, onions, and cheese), Scottish Sausage, Hash Browns and Muffins (English Muffins, as we call them in the states. I guess they don't feel it necessary to put the "English" in the title).

And I am going to try some new recipes: Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins, Cinnamon Carrot Bread, Sugar Cookies.

Now to our menu for this week...

Menu for this week:

Check out more menu plan's at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday! And Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2009

I'm thirsty...

During the colder, winter months I find that I do not drink much water. I drink hot tea, coffee and cocoa, but very little water. I just do not have the same thirst in the winter, the same need to cool down. But am I truly not thirsty, or have I just hidden it with other things?

Now I am dehydrated and desperately need water, a lot of water. And it is going to take time for my body to recover...

There are times of thirst in my spiritual life, in the desert when I know I am thirsty and desperate for constant water, for constant refreshing by the living water. At those times I hunger and thirst, seek and knock, draw near...

But there are times when I don't recognize my thirst... just like in the cold of winter. Times like those I am in right now.

This last week has been a revelation for me. I am thirsty. I am dehydrated. I desperately need the living water ... to cleanse, to refresh, to fill, to overflow. I did not realize how much effort was being required of me, and how much it was using my "reserves." But now I am dry... And it is going to take time...

Yet, the very fact that I know this reflects on the faithfulness of God. He gently calls, gently draws, gently showers, gently leads me again to still waters.

Is God calling you to deeper waters?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Shine Like Stars!

Words That Heal - Chapter 3: "Woe is Me!"

"Do everything without complaining or arguing,
so that you may become blameless and pure,
children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation,
in which you shine like stars in the universe
as you hold out the word of life..."
(Philippians 2:14-16)

Complaining almost seems to be the language of this world. Think about the conversations around you everyday ... people complaining about their job, about the slow person in front of them, about the guy who cut them off in the car, about the cold weather, and the list goes on.

It is an easy way to start up a conversation with a perfect stranger, to find a connection to those around you. It is almost necessary to "fit in." But we are called to stand out ... like bright starts ... and there is no better way than saturating our speech with contentment and thanksgiving.

In this chapter, Carole points out that our complaining stems from a lack of contentment and true thanksgiving. Too often our prayers are "Thank you, Lord, for ... but I really need ..." We compare ourselves with others, and want what they have instead of focusing on all that we have been given.

I feel like this could have been taken a step further ... that our grumbling and complaining is also an expression of our own lack of faith, our unbelief. Do we think God hasn't or isn't going to provide all we need? Do we think He won't care for us? Do we think the gift of his own Son not sufficient for our peace? Have we simply forgotten that we have been given so much?

In the Old Testament, we follow the Israelites through their desert journey, wandering in circles, going from high points faith and miraculous provision to low points of grumbling and unbelief.

When God first delivered them from Egypt, they put their faith in God as he led them through the sea. But this was soon followed by their grumbling about the food. God then provides manna every day for them. But they soon grumble about the lack of water.

Their complaining and unbelief soon led to their ultimate act of disobedience and unbelief ... they grumbled about the "giants" and refused to enter the promised land. It took 40 years in the desert for them to finally learn their lesson. Do we want to repeat that mistake?

Toward the end of this chapter, Carole provides a wonderful exercise to help us develop an attitude of contentment and thanksgiving:
Look up three things in Scripture and find three things in your life for which you are thankful. Each morning add one more to these lists, from both Scripture and your blessings. Use these in your prayers of thanksgiving, and ask God to give you the strength (and daily reminder) to be content.
Of all the topics covered in this book, this is the one lesson I feel God has "put his finger on." I have not been thankful for all that he has given me, and I need to learn to be content ... in every situation (Phil 4:11-12). I want to shine like a star, not blend into the decaying darkness all around me.

"Lord, forgive me for my complaining words, for my attitude of discontent, for my lack of gratefulness, for my unbelief. Thank you that you continue your work in my life; that even when I am faithless, you remain faithful. Teach me to rejoice in you. Provide me the strength to be content, whatever the circumstances, and to be thankful for all that you have given me. Remind me each day, and reveal more deeply, that you are truly all I want and all I need."

I am currently reading Words That Hurt, Words That Heal by Carole Mayhall.
Check out the other posts in this series.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I was quite excited this week to find dried pinto and black beans in a grocery store. It really makes a difference in my attitude toward cooking when I can't find the things I enjoy using. I also found canned artichoke hearts, which are a favorite in my family. I may have to walk the extra few miles once or twice a month to visit this terrific grocery store.

Now to our menu for this week...

Menu for this week:

Check out more menu plan's at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Last week our menu fell apart, much to my frustration. When we got our groceries, they did not have the roast that was advertised. Three of my meals last week were dependent on that roast. And I never made it back to the store to pick up a replacement. So, most of our meals for this week are repeated from last week and hopefully the roast will be available.

Menu for this week:
  • Monday -- Teriyaki Chicken and Rice

  • Tuesday -- French Dip - I am trying a new recipe in the crock pot.

  • Wednesday -- Chicken Fajitas

  • Thursday -- Beef and Broccoli

  • Friday -- Homemade Pizza

  • Saturday -- Roast Beef

  • Sunday -- Chicken Tortilla Soup

Check out more menu plan's at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

What a wonderful Thanksgiving week. We celebrated Thanksgiving in Scotland with several American (and a few Canadian) families. The stuffing was a little different (no StoveTop here). With no canned pumpkin, I was not about to tackle a pumpkin pie, but some of our friends were more skilled so we enjoyed pie as well.

Menu for this week:
  • Monday -- Al Forno Pasta Bake

  • Tuesday -- Teriyaki Chicken and Rice

  • Wednesday -- French Dip - I am trying a new recipe in the crock pot.

  • Thursday -- Beef and Broccoli

  • Friday -- Homemade Pizza

  • Saturday -- Chicken Tortilla Soup

  • Sunday -- leftovers

Check out more menu plan's at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Who am I to teach the way?

Lord, who am I to teach the way
To little children day by day,
So prone myself to go astray?

I teach them knowledge, but I know
How faint they flicker and how low
The candles of my knowledge glow.

I teach them power to will and do,
But only now to learn anew
My own great weakness through and through.

I teach them love for all mankind
And all God’s creatures, but I find
My love comes lagging far behind.

Lord, if their guide I still must be,
Oh, let the little children see
The teacher leaning hard on Thee.

By: Leslie Pinchney Hill.

I was so encouraged and inspired by this poem and wanted to share it with you. This is the prayer of my heart ...

This verse was recently posted at Mumma's Place, with a link to the original post by Momma Mindy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Let another praise you ...

Words That Heal - Chapter 2: "Aren't I Terrific?"

"Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
someone else, and not your own lips.
" (Proverbs 27:2)

I didn't considered myself to be a boastful person, but this chapter on bragging challenged my thoughts and attitude. It is not about the overt bragging, it is about the subtle hints used to make yourself look better to other people.

Name-dropping. Place-dropping. Event-dropping. I have discovered that I am very skilled at working my importance into conversation using these techniques. Hmmm ... Did I just mention "in passing" that I know "so-in-so" (this great famous person)?

There are times when this is completely innocent, and I am just having conversation. Oh, but there are too many times when I plot in my head how to work in a comment about a place I have been or something I have done that might impress you. So little, so subtle, so prideful.

The same information could have been relayed in a humble way (or left unsaid), instead of praising myself. In this chapter, Mayhall states that "the difference between sharing information and boasting is in who gets the glory." Did my words make me look better? Or did I give praise where it is due? Did my heart seek to glorify God with my words? Did I speak to build up and edify my hearers?

"Lord, forgive my prideful heart and bragging words. Make me sensitive to boasting in my life and give me the strength and grace to change those areas. Teach me to edify and lift up those around me. Help me to always give you the praise. May the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart bring glory to your name."

I am currently reading Words That Hurt, Words That Heal by Carole Mayhall.
All unmarked quotes in this post are from Chapter 2 of this book.
Check out the other posts in this series.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Last week was our first time trying the Crock Pot Rotisserie Style Chicken from A Year of Slow Cooking and it was wonderful. I am thinking about following Keeper of the Home's lead and making broth with the left-overs next time.

There are a few meals we didn't get to last week, so I am leaving them on the menu for next week -- Minestrone and Enchilada Casserole.

Menu for this week:
  • Monday -- Jacket Potatoes (with cheese and broccoli)

  • Tuesday -- Minestrone Soup

  • Wednesday -- Tikka Masala

  • Thursday -- Turkey, Stuffing, etc - American Thanksgiving in Scotland

  • Friday -- Enchilada Casserole

  • Saturday -- Thanksgiving with other Expats from US and Canada (even though they celebrated a few weeks ago...)

  • Sunday -- Leftovers

Check out more menu plan's at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Line Drying: Things to Think About

I have been spending much of my time over the last two months working on the art of line drying my laundry. Check out my previous posts, The Lost Art of Line Drying and What if it is raining?

The chore of laundry has taken on entirely new requirements than I ever thought about before. When you don't have a clothes dryer, there are a few things you have to take into consideration.

As you might have guessed, when you dry your clothing outside you really have to watch the weather and plan your laundry days accordingly (unless you live in a warm climate, with minimal rain). Especially during the winter, I try to get at least one load out anytime the sun makes an appearance. Just a few hours of direct sunlight, even in colder temperatures, will dry clothes faster than all day on a warmer but cloudy day.

Take this morning for example, the sun was out so I ran two loads before I left the house, hanging them on my way out the door. By the time I returned two and a half hours later, they were almost completely dry even though it was only 9°C (48°F).

Smaller washing machines / smaller loads
Our washing machine is smaller here and we are forced to run smaller loads of laundry, although they are front loaders so you can pack them and still get everything clean. We also have limited space to hang clothing and could not really fit much more than one or two small loads (especially inside).

More frequent loads
I find that I need to run laundry more frequently than I use to. In the past I would have one big laundry day about one a week. Now my drying is mostly dependent on daylight, forcing me to run laundry more frequently; the smaller washing machine and limited drying space also play into this change.

First thing in the morning
I use to run laundry all afternoon and evening; this was probably influenced by the fact that we did not have a washer and dryer in our apartment. I had to go down the building basement to run laundry, briefly leaving the kids in our apartment. This was easiest (and safest) to do while they were down for their afternoon nap or after daddy got home in the evening.

Laundry is now one of the first chores of the day. This has been a huge struggle for me since we moved here. But in order to take advantage of the limited sunlight at this time of year, I have to get a load started before breakfast, so it is ready to hang as soon as the sun is up.

Soap usage and soft water
The stiff laundry was hard to get use to when I first started to hang my clothes. I have quickly learned that my biggest problem was using too much soap. It is so easy to be sloppy about measuring soap, and without double rinse cycles (takes too much time), my clothes had some soap residue that made them extremely crunchy after air drying.

I also did not consider our water when determining how much soap to use. We have slightly soft water here, making it harder to rinse our soap. I should have been using even less soap based on soft water (or more if we had hard water). Who knew it could be so complicated!

Fabric softener
Growing up, my mother always used dryer sheets to get that soft, static-free feel to our clothing. With line drying, that is no longer an option. Welcome to the world of liquid fabric softeners. Again, I have had to play with the correct amount to use to get the softness without adding too much that the clothes get crunchy with residue.

When it comes to dealing with stains, I love line drying. If I don't get the stain out the first time and, without realizing it, dry the clothing. I can still go back and treat the stain again - no hot dryer to 'set' the stain. Also, direct sunlight can do wonders for removing stains, especially on cottons. And it makes whites so much brighter. Incredible!

These are just a few things that I have learned to take into consideration as I learn to dry my clothing without a dryer. I am still learning the best way to actually hang the clothes. That is for another post.

Have you tried line drying your clothes? Any tips?
Or are you thinking about trying it? What's holding you back?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Fountain of Life ...

Words That Heal - Chapter 1: A Fountain or a Babbling Brook?

My Bible study group is currently reading "Words That Hurt, Words That Heal" by Carole Mayhall. In this post, I wanted to share some thoughts from Chapter 1.

"The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life ... the tongue of the righteous is choice silver ... the lips of the righteous nourish many ..." (Proverbs 10:11, 20, 21)

Are my words worth listening to? Are they a fountain of life -- bubbling up life and truth, overflowing out fullness and abundance, refreshing those who hear? Or are they simply a babbling brook, a dime a dozen, or worse, a deadly poison?

This chapter opens with a thought-provoking story, about a young man's brief encounter with a man whose words were fountain of life. "I don't think I've had more than 20 minutes with Bob since I've worked here ... but every moment we've had, he's shared something with me that was just what I needed."

This simple story surprised me and challenged me ... are my words like that? Why not?

Jesus tells us that our words come from the abundance of our hearts. For my words to be a fountain of life, to encourage, challenge, refresh, they must flow from an abundance of life in my heart. "When we dwell deep with God, we will be -- to some people sometimes -- a fountain of life.

What should be dwelling so abundantly in my heart that it flows out in my words?

~ Praise ~
I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. (Psalm 34:1)

~ The Word of God ~
Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth, but meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:8)

~ Encouragement and Comfort ~
And you know that we treated each of you as a father treats his own children. We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy. For he called you to share in his Kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12)

~ Wisdom and Justice ~
The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. (Psalm 37:30)

From this list given in chapter one, I was most convicted about encouragement. I am not a natural encourager, as some of my friends clearly are, but Mayhall presented the idea of a habit of encouragement. This means I am not off the hook. To develop a good habit, it takes repeated practice. It may not feel natural at first, but (with God's work in my heart) I, too, can develop a habit of encouragement.

In all these things, we must learn to "speak the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15)or "be truthful and kind" (Proverbs 3:3). We are too often truthful in our words but hurtful, or kind and loving but not entirely honest.

Mayhall talks about the marriage of these two ideas so beautifully. "I wish I could place love and truth deep in my mind to filter every word I speak. Much would be left unsaid if these two concepts were the strainer used to purify my speech."

Thinking back over this past week, how would you describe your speech?

"Lord, teach me to speak the truth in love, to be both kind and truthful. Create in me a heart, abundantly overflowing with your love, your wisdom and your truth that the words that pour out from my mouth bring you glory and encourage those around me. Show me each day how to encourage and refresh and bring life with the words of mouth and the meditation of my heart."

I am currently reading Words That Hurt, Words That Heal by Carole Mayhall.
All unmarked quotes in this post are from Chapter 1 of this book.
Check out the other posts in this series.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Aberdeen: King Street

I wanted to share some shots of Aberdeen on one of our recent family walks. These are all taken on King Street, the main road running from Old Aberdeen (where the University is located, and where we live) to the down town area.

I love all the stone buildings that line this street.

Below is the beautiful church where the King's Community Church, an Assemblies of God church, meets.

This building use to house the Aberdeen Fire Department.

This is the Cathedral Church of St. Andrews, part of the Anglican Communion and the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Here is the Aberdeen Arts Centre Theatre.

Aberdeen is an old city, much older than any city I've lived in prior to this. The stone work is so beautiful. I love walking through town, enjoying the view. Incredible!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Last week we added a new favorite to our family's favorite meals. We tried the Macaroni Beef from Mumma's Place and it was wonderful. Thank you, Ruby, for this great new recipe.

Menu for this week:

Check out more menu plan's at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Weekly Weatherly

Today's weather forecast in Aberdeen, Scotland:

Showers // Chance of Precipitation: 60%

High: 8°C (47°F) // Low: 3°C (38°F)

Wind: West at 5 kmph ( mph)

Humidity: 91%

Sunrise: 07:40 // Sunset: 16:04 (4:04 PM)


As you may have noticed, we have lost 39 minutes of sunlight since I last posted the weather on 1 November.

There have been some beautifully sunny days this last week, with scattered rainy days in between. The humidity is always high. Even on drier days, the humidity is still around 80% or higher. This makes cold feel colder.

The temperatures have dropped in the last week. This morning we woke to a beautiful white world. No, it had not snowed, there was a very thick layer of frost covering everything. And if the frost was hidden in shadow, it never got warm enough to melt without the direct sunlight.

The kids ask me every afternoon, "Why is it so dark?" Our countdown to Winter Solstice has begun.

Monday, November 9, 2009

"Tear Down This Wall"

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. On November 9, 1989, the East German government announced that their citizens could visit West Berlin.

View in 1986 from the west side of graffiti art on the Berlin wall's infamous "death strip"

Swarms of people climbed onto and over the wall from East Berlin to West Berlin, where they were met by celebrations. The reunification of Germany was completed the following October.

The wall was slowing chipped away by souvenir hunters until industrial equipment was used to removed almost all the rest of the wall.

I wasn't very old when we heard the story of the dangerous balloon crossing of the Berlin Wall. The movie, Night Crossing, made soon after impacted my view of how small our world is, and the concern we must have for oppression anywhere we find it.

I remember so clearly watching this news announced on all the television stations. It was so far away, but you could feel the celebration wherever you went.

Do you have any stories about this day in history?

Menu Plan Monday

Last week was hard for my family. I was out of commission with several migraines, followed by some virus infection (from which I am still recovering). Several of our meals for this week are simply carry-overs from last week's unused menu.

Menu for this week:

Check out more menu plan's at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Commitment Comes First

Words That Heal - Part 1: Introduction

The Bible study group that I recently joined is reading "Words That Hurt, Words That Heal" by Carole Mayhall.

The introduction of this book struck a resonating chord in my heart. And challenged my attitude as I begin this study (much as the author intended, I would guess).

Carole Mayhall subtitles the intro "Commitment Comes First" and jumps straight to the heart of the matter.

Any time we approach God's Word we must be completely committed to respond with obedience to whatever God asks of us.

Now that my seem very obvious, but I realized I have become careless with my reading of scripture. Do I remind myself of my total surrender to God before I read, that I may be prepared to promptly respond to His call?

"God wants total commitment. He wants us to be wholehearted. Sold out. Willing to pay the price of being disciples." She goes on to say that this means, "Anywhere, anytime, anything, Lord."

Before beginning this challenging study about the words of my mouth, I must first look at my heart...

Am I truly willing to do whatever it takes to bring my tongue under the control of the Spirit? Giving up selfish activities to provide more time to meditate and pray? Humbling myself to recognize how I wrong others with my words and asking forgiveness from others?

"Lord, teach me what it means to have the mouth of the righteous. Teach me how it fits into total commitment. I want my mouth -- my tongue and my words -- to bring glory to You all the days of my life."

I am currently reading Words That Hurt, Words That Heal by Carole Mayhall.
All quotes in this post are from the Introduction of this book.
Check out the other posts in this series.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Food spending!

Over the last few weeks, it have become very apparent that we need a smaller food budget. This is the tightest we have ever been financially and food seems to be one of those areas where I should be able to save some money.

With our move from the USA to the UK, we are also dealing with the increased cost of goods because our money is tied to the conversion rate.

There are several people doing incredible challenges with really small spending. And others calculate the cost of each meal. I know some people are incredible with coupon shopping, too (I just have no idea if they even have coupons here -- haven't seen any yet).

Being new to this, I am looking for some advise. What do you do? How do you set your food budget? How much do you spend in a week, or month, or per meal? Any other advise?

Thanks for all your help!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Words that Hurt, Words that Heal

I have joined a new Bible study group here in Aberdeen. It is a ladies group comprised mainly of Americans and Canadians expats who are here while their husbands study at the University of Aberdeen.

For the fall, we are reading "Words That Hurt, Words That Heal" by Carole Mayhall.

The Bible tells us that our mouths are to be a fountain of life, but so many times our daily interactions with family, friends and even strangers show that we are far from this goal.

James also warns us that our tongues are "a fire, a world of wickedness ... contaminating and depraving the whole body ... being itself ignited by hell." (James 3:6 AMP)

This book explores the many ways we "curse" with our tongues while trying to praise God -- Can a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and salt water?

As we read through this book and study what scripture says about our tongue, I will share how God is working in my own life, teaching me to control my mouth.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Last week, I finally decided I needed a crock pot. Because the power requirements and plugs are completely different here in Scotland, we did not even consider bringing ours from the states.

I was hoping to find one at a charity shop or freecycle, but after looking for several weeks, I couldn't wait any longer. We have officially entered Crock Pot season. Now I have to use it at least once a week to justify the money spent.

Here is what I am going to try for this week:

Menu for this week:

Check out more menu plan's at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Weekly Weatherly

Today's weather forecast in Aberdeen, Scotland:

Heavy Rain // Chance of Precipitation: 100%

High: 11°C (52°F) // Low: 6°C (43°F)

Wind: West at 23 kmph (14 mph)

Humidity: 100%

Sunrise: 07:20 // Sunset: 16:23 (4:23 PM)


This has been a very wet week or two here in Aberdeen. Even the natives are saying this is worse than usual. However, we did have a few sunny mornings this week.

It has been an adjustment getting use to the high humidity here. Even on drier days, the humidity is still around 80% or higher.

We are also quickly moving toward shorter days. You can see by the sunrise and sunset times that the sun is current up for about nine hours. This is getting shorter every day until Winter Solstice in late December.

All the clouds, the rain and the short days sure make us thankful for every glimpse we get of the sun!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Reformation Day

On October 31, 1517, Luther posted his 95 thesis on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, unknowingly sparking the Protestant Reformation.

His intent was to initiate a debate on the doctrine and practices of indulgences, but instead, this event sparked a controversy that resulted in the excommunication of Luther and his followers in 1520 ... and the Lutheran tradition was born. This eased the later creation of the Reformed and Anabaptist traditions.

Check out the Internet Christian Library ( to read Luther's 95 Theses.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Blitz-It Friday

Grab My Blog Button!This week I blitzed on three separate occasions, just because it is such a great way to get things done.

First I blitzed the kitchen. This is one of my least favorite chores, and sometimes I let it get really bad. Monday was one of those days. The only way to motivate myself to tackle the mess was to set the timer and tell myself I only had to work on it for 10 minutes. I was moving so fast that I finished the entire kitchen (except the floor) before the timer went off.

On Wednesday I set my timer for 20 minutes to pick up and vacuum the entire house. No deep cleaning, just putting away all the stuff that clutters our living room, kitchen table, dresser tops, etc. And the floors really needed a good vacuum. I almost finished in time, but I was still moving the couch back when the timer beeped.

My last blitz was yesterday, a beautiful sunny morning. It was really a desperate attempt to get my laundry out on the lines early enough to dry completely. With the "help" of my kids, I managed to change the sheets and duvets on all the beds, hang up three loads of laundry, and clean the kitchen floors. I forgot to turn the timer on, but we got so much done in high speed.

I love blitzing! I need to use this method everyday. Imagine how much I could accomplish!

Happy Blitzing.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

What if it is raining?

I have been functioning without a clothes dryer for almost a month now. This is a hard time of year to learn how to line dry clothing, with autumn rains arriving and winter cold on its way. So how do I dry my clothes when it is raining and cold?

As you might have guessed ... dry them inside.

We have these great racks that fit one small load of laundry. The clothes can take up to 24 hours to dry. But sometimes I can hang them outside in the wind for a few hours and cut down the drying time.

The racks have to be placed in a warm, ventilated room. This rules out the bathroom, or any convenient place to "hide" the laundry. Our prime drying spot is the living room - the one room that is kept fairly warm throughout the evenings. I also set the racks right next to the heat source.

So most days of the week, our home is strewn with laundry and looks something like this...

Our flat, along with most in Scotland, is heated by radiators.
There are these great racks that fit directly onto radiators, made for drying clothing on rainy days.

I try to reserve this prime drying space for the harder-to-dry items, like jeans and thick pajamas.

After an hour or two, I flip the pants over to dry the other side.

Another fancy trick I discovered for larger items, like bed sheets, is the dining room chairs. I was pleasantly surprised that this sheet was dry in only a few hours (and it was a fun "hiding place" for the kids while it dried).

There are other great racks and drying units that people use. One that I have heard about, and want to find for myself, is something like this "spinner" sock dryer.

I have also seem much more "open" drying racks that allow clothes to "breath" more than my racks do. These would probably shorten the drying time significantly, but they also require more room around the radiators than we have in our flat.

If you are thinking about line drying your clothing, I would like to encourage you to explore all the possibilities. There are such great benefits to line drying - extend the life of your clothes, save energy and money, good excuse to get outside, and many more.

And there are great options these days - temporary lines in the shower, drying racks, etc. You also don't have to do everything at once, "cold turkey", like I did. You can always start slowly, drying a few items that are especially prone to "dryer" wear, like socks and underclothing. Or maybe just line dry one load a month.

Stay tuned for tips and more information about my journey into the realm of line drying.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

King's College

The University of Aberdeen is the third oldest University in Aberdeen. It was originally established as King's College in 1495. Much of the original college buildings still remain.

Today, King's College houses the School of Divinity, History and Philosophy for the University of Aberdeen, where my husband studies theology with great men and women from around the world.

King’s College Chapel has been at the heart of this community for 500 years. The students still gather here each morning for prayer before classes begin. It is incredible to become a part of the spiritual history of this place!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Beautiful Hydrangeas!

Hydrangeas are very popular here in Aberdeen. We have two of them in our yard.

These hydrangeas are primarily dark pinks. I have never seen such deep color in hydrangeas before, although they seem to be the same breed that we have in the United States.

I am fascinated by these beautiful plants. Their color is based on the presence of aluminum in the soil; which is normally determined by the pH balance.

Blue colors are produced in very acidic soils. Neutral or alkaline soil produces pink flowers. Medium pH levels (slightly acidic) result in purple flowers.

Our home and garden is brightened by the incredible colors created by the extreme alkaline levels here! Beautiful!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

We finally have our new refrigerator and we are thrilled. We have had salad several times this week and our shopping trip today stuffed the fridge full of wonderful, fresh fruits and veggies!

Here is what I am going to try for this week:

Menu for this week:
  • Monday --Jacket Potatoes

  • Tuesday -- Chicken Chili (Crockpot) - I am adapting a few recipes and substituting some ingredients with what I can find here. I'll post the recipe if it turns out well.

  • Wednesday -- Enchilada Casserole

  • Thursday -- Sausage Potato Soup

  • Friday -- Homemade Pizza

  • Saturday -- Ham & Cheese Melts

  • Sunday -- Tikka Masala - this is definitely a new family favorite.

Question of the week: What foods would you try if you were in Scotland / UK for three years?

Check out more menu plan's at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Lost Art of Line Drying

Since moving to Scotland a month ago, I have begun to explore the lost art of line drying our laundry.

This change was not by choice, but is not entirely unwelcome; it's just that dryers are rare here, especially in rental property. Line drying is really our only choice.

I admit some trepidation about this new chore, but so far it has been fun for us.

The kids love hearing the washing machine in the morning because it means we are heading out to the garden after breakfast.

But now fall have come in full force and the rains have moved in. How do you dry your laundry when it is raining out?

As we learn the answer to this question and many others, I'll write some follow up posts. In the mean time, check out this great introduction to the lost art of line drying.

Our new home ...

Just a quick update ...

Check out the pictures of our new flat in Aberdeen, Scotand at our family blog:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Our first week back on menu planning went fairly well. We found some good substitutes for a few items in our favorite recipes. I'm looking forward to exploring the grocery stores here in Scotland for all the interesting new things we can add to our meals.

We still don't have our new refrigerator yet (the one in our flat is broken). They are now telling us it will be here by Thursday. This tiny icebox just doesn't hold very much. And with the grocery store about a mile away (walking with two toddlers), I can't go shopping every day for refrigerated ingredients.

Here is what I am going to try for this week:

Menu for this week:
  • Monday -- Baked Potatoes - or jacket potatoes, as they call them here. They love to put all sorts of things inside a baked potato; meat, cheese, veggies, etc.

  • Tuesday -- Mediterranean Chicken Pasta

  • Wednesday -- BBQ Pork Sandwiches

  • Thursday -- Shepherd's Pie

  • Friday -- Homemade Pizza

  • Saturday -- Taco Bar

  • Sunday -- Yellow Thai Curry

Check out more menu plan's at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Blitz-It Friday

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Organized Everyday is hosting a new carnival called Blitz-it Friday. If you have no idea what a blitz is, check out the original one hour blitz and staying focused.

Wow. I haven't blitzed in such a long time. Now I'm just a little late posting about it. We are finally settled enough in our new home to be ready and desperate for a good cleaning blitz. On Friday, I set my timer and started moving as fast as I could.

I started in the kitchen with this mess:

Here's what I did in the first 45 minutes of my blitz:
  • Unloaded the dishwasher
  • Loaded the dishwasher and turned it on
  • Cleared off the kitchen table
  • Hand washed the pans
  • Wiped the counters and stove
  • Swept the kitchen floors

And here was the result:

Next I turned my attention to the kid's room, which they had torn apart earlier in the day.

Here's what I did in the last 15 minutes:
  • Put away clean laundry
  • Made the kid's beds
  • Folded and put away the kid's clothes
  • Vacuumed the hall, living room, kid's room
And here was the end result.

The timer started to beep just as I put away the vacuum cleaner.
What a great hour of blitzing!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

We have been in our new flat in Aberdeen, Scotland for just over a week. I am desperate to establish routine and order in our lives, and decided meal planning was a good place to start.

There are a few challenges to my menu planning this week. We are in a foreign country where things are just different enough that I am not sure what products I can still find.

We also don't have our new refrigerator yet; instead we have a tiny little "icebox" that have very little room for anything.

Lastly, we have no car (and two toddlers), so every trip to the store I can only buy what I can carry back in our double stroller. I am amazed at how warm I stay, even in the wind, when I am pushing 130+ pounds up a hill in a stroller (oops, "buggy", I should say, or "push chair" or "pram").

Here is what I am going to try for this week:

Menu for this week:
  • Monday -- Beef and Broccoli - we are going to try a new Oyster and Onion sauce we found here.

  • Tuesday -- Josh Rogan - they have so much great Indian food here. This is an Indian curry that we have not tried yet.

  • Wednesday -- Chinese Chicken & Cabbage - I have not yet confirmed that all these ingredients are available here. I wonder what substitutes I can find?

  • Thursday -- Spaghetti

  • Friday -- Nachos

  • Saturday -- Baked Potato Bar

  • Sunday -- Turkey Lentil Soup

Check out more menu plan's at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Weekly Weatherly

As you follow our Scotland adventure, I wanted to share a weekly snapshot of the climate we are enjoying here.

Today's weather forecast in Aberdeen, Scotland:

High: 9°C (49°F)
Mostly Cloudy
Wind: SW at 10 kmph (6 mph)
Humidity: 71%
UV Index 2
Chance of Precipitation 20%
Avg. High. 13°C (56°F)
Sunrise 07 :21

Low: 8°C (46°F)
Wind: SE at 27 kmph (17 mph)
Humidity: 82%
Chance of Precipitation 70%
Avg. Low 6°C (43°F)
Sunset 18:32

We have been enjoying such beautiful days for the last week. It often rains at night, but has been sunny during the day. The sun is much more intense here, brighter, whiter, because we are so far north.

The daytime temperatures have been cooler than normal, and the nights have been warmer (as you can see from the averages). Tomorrow doesn't look too windy, but we have had some gusty days. Also, I have never been in humid cold, but the high humidity makes it feel much colder than I expected.

As the weeks pass, you will want to watch the sun rise and set times as the days grow shorter. At the height of winter, the sun in only up for around seven hours.

Just a little taste of our weather here in Scotland...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Deep Breaths!

Every day for the last few months, I have had to stop and remind myself to take deep breaths.

The wind was incredible today. The trees were swinging in the gusts, the fallen leaves were rushing around on the sidewalks, and the kids were laughing as the wind took their breath away. It was like the entire day was a deep breath.

And for me it truly was ...

In July we packed up all our belongings and put them in storage. This was our hardest move, out of the seven we have done in our ten years of marriage. Maybe it was the added challenge of kids; maybe it was the fact that everything was going into long-term storage instead of going to our new place; maybe it was some combination and a million other things.

We spent the month of August and part of September at my parent's house. For those six weeks, we were preparing for our relocation to Aberdeen, Scotland; planning my youngest sister's wedding on September 19; traveling to visit all our friends and family before we left three years; trying to enjoy the summer and keep the kids happy.

September 22 was our arrival day. We landed at Aberdeen airport and began our adventure in Scotland. This was an incredibly stressful week as we searched for a place to live. Everything seemed stacked against us. But God had a great place picked out for us and we just had to wait for his timing. Incredible!

Last night we signed the lease and moved our eight suitcases into our new flat. Today I spent the entire day cleaning, while my hubby and kids unpacked our stuff. There is still plenty of organizing and cleaning left to be done, but it is already starting to feel like home.

We have a place of our own. We can start to re-establish our routines and habits. And maybe life will slow down and I won't have to constantly remind myself to breath deeply.

Have any of you moved lately? What do you do to settle into a new home a new city, and in our case, a new culture?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Favorite Foods

We have lived in several different parts of the country over the last 10 years of our marriage. As we sat down to lunch this afternoon at a small Teriyaki restaurant, I realized that we have discovered a few favorite foods in each place where we moved.

My husband and I both grew up in the Pacific Northwest. Here is a Teriyaki place in almost any strip mall you encounter. (They also have the best Thai food restaurants we have ever encountered, but that is for another post).

When we moved to Chicago, we discovered another favorite food ... gyros. We have tried gyros in other places around the country, but they have never been as good as those first gyros we tried in Chicago.

Next we moved to the beautiful southern city, Nashville, Tennessee. In the south we found the best barbecue ever. Whenever we were downtown we loved to visit Jack's Bar-B-Que. South of Nashville in Franklin where we lived, we had little take-out place down the road from us that had great food (it looked like a little trailer with a drive up window). We also often at at Famous Dave's because it was so close to home (and I love their beef brisket).

New Jersey is not really known for it's food, and I must admit that I can't think of any food that we really discovered there. However, Philadelphia was only an hour drive away and we did enjoy the best Philly Cheese Steaks at Tony Luke's (home of the original Philly cheese steak sandwiches).

I wondered today at lunch, as I thoroughly enjoyed my teriyaki chicken, what kinds of food we will discover (and grow to love) in Scotland!