Friday, September 25, 2009

I Think I'll Buy A New Cookbook...

Ha ha ha ha....

We Americans think like this: if we're bored, tired of something, want a "better" solution, want to replicate someone else's creation (especially one on TV or the internet), etc., we think we need to buy something!

Think again, my friends. Very often, if we were doing the work set before us, we wouldn't be bored. If we're tired of the same old, same old, I guarantee there are ways of changing it up without buying a new product. Perhaps we want a better solution to something; have we looked at our random, accumulated things for a substitution first? Have we tried the library or our friends for ideas? What if we want to replicate someone else's creation? First, we should ask if that is a worthy goal for someone in our position (making bagels from scratch or building your own compost bin might not fit into your current situation). Second, we should see how much free information and/or inexpensive options we can scrounge up. Let me use cookbooks as an example.

I was thinking a few weeks ago that I'd like to get a new cookbook--you know, some new recipes to try. In the old days, I might have actually bought a new cookbook. During the past few years, however, I've realized there are some quick (free) fixes to this urge to "try something new."

  1. Try a recipe out of a cookbook I already own that is a "new" recipe to me (since I own such mega-cookbooks like The Joy of Cooking and the infinitely variable options in How to Cook Everything, it is impossible for me to EVER cook every recipe that I "own.").
  2. What about wanting to cook healthier or wanting to cook more family friendly or wanting to cook something more ethnically-related? Simple: I reread my already-ownedcookbooks first. Many times, a reread will remind me of recipes I'd forgotten or I'll notice something new since I wasn't tuned into this same "need" the last time I read that particular cookbook. (Maybe the last time I skimmed my Fannie Farmer book, I was looking for good casserole recipes; now I might be looking for more vegetable-related options.)
  3. I can check out a cookbook from a library or borrow one from a friend. This is a terrific way to test-drive a cookbook you're really considering buying; it's also a great way to get your Chinese-food-from-scratch-fix taken care of.
  4. There are other free resources: I can ask my friends for a good whole wheat bread recipe if I'm discontented with mine. I can search the internet for recipes that use my abundance of green cayenne peppers.

Finally, is it really necessary to reinvent the wheel? So often, we get bored/tired of something, and we want to do something new, discover a new strategy, etc. But, we're called to press on, to persevere in this life, to work diligently in what the Lord has called us to do. It's okay to be bored or tired of something sometimes. We don't have to prepare gourmet meals for our families every night for them to be eating healthily (and for them to be enjoying it). We don't have to have the latest, greatest technological equipment for us to enjoy a movie. We don't have to have the best sports equipment to enjoy throwing a ball around with the kids. We can play the same old card game--maybe add a new rule for kicks--and still have fun. We can go to the same local park for a thousand fun-filled evenings for the same price as one ice cream cone from Marble Slab.

Forget the consumeristic-attitude that our culture has indoctrinated us with and enjoy what you have! Paul reminds us that godliness with contentment is great gain. (Ironic that "gain" is the word used--we want to "gain" more things when we're discontent, but our gain will ultimately be greater when we choose contentment over and above mere acquisition.)

posted on full tummies as well.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Making the Most of Your Children's Clothes

Young children are hard on clothes, grow out of clothes at seemingly random times, and could care less whether anything matches or is seasonally appropriate. I wish I had $1 for every time my daughter has wanted to wear a favorite t-shirt when it was 30 degrees outside, or has wanted to wear some fleece footie pajamas when it's 90 degrees outside. She shows up regularly at breakfast in striped skirts with patterned tops and so forth. My boys...well, we're doing good to keep them clean-ish from breakfast to lunch, much less stay in the same outfit, unscathed, for an entire day.

Here are some tips to make the most of your children's clothes, particularly if they are still at home with you and can dress casually.

  1. Invest in quality basics. A few pairs of pants, some good heavyweight t-shirts, a nice button down or two, good shoes, etc. are all worth investing a bit of money in. If you think something will get worn daily, make sure it will hold up. That being said, you can still find many of these items on sale at the end of the season.
  2. Buy basics in solid and basic colors. If your daughter loves pink, buy a solid pink skirt, a solid pair of pink shorts, and maybe a pink jumper. Then, you can pick up some frilly, flowery, princess-y shirts and tops here and there at a consignment sale and they will go with a number of items already in her wardrobe. But sweatpants and sweatshirts for winter wear in a variety of basic colors. Then, if your son shows up in his favorite gray shirt with his navy or red or black sweatpants--it will all work!
  3. Buy one or two really fun items, but buy them on consignment. No one wants to wear boring clothes all the time, but children are notorious for being really into Bob the Builder one month and moving on to Curious George the next.
  4. Use t-shirts all year: layer smaller ones under long-sleeve t-shirts, sweatshirts, or sweaters, and larger ones over long-sleeved t-shirts. Layers keep kids warmer, and they'll be able to wear that fun t-shirt they got at the beach all winter long.
  5. Get creative: my children often put on clean clothes before nap-time in the winter if they've been playing outside all morning. The odds of it being light enough outside after their naps is slim, so they usually don't go outside again. Those clean clothes that were worn from naptime-bedtime then become the go-outside-and-get-dirty-clothes the next morning. Similarly, they often sleep in clean t-shirts in the summer. In the morning, they're ready for the day and we haven't dirtied up pajamas.