Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Perfect Coffee Press

Two years ago, for Christmas, I gave my husband a Starbucks coffee press, which he has used in fits and starts ever since. He likes it well enough, but the wire mesh filter at the bottom of the press, even though he purchases the correct grind of coffee, still allows a few grounds through now and again. Actually, a little more often than now and again, but he solves this problem by cutting and using a size 4 filter (the kind used in drip coffeemakers) in conjunction with the wire mesh filter to catch the stray grounds. He seemed content with this solution, but it is somewhat more time consuming than a drip coffeemaker. Because his mornings are pretty tight on time, King Richard has, of late, entertained the notion of replacing his coffee press with a new coffeemaker. The primary requirement for this new appliance: it cannot burn the coffee.

Now, I gave up my daily dose of coffee (try twenty-two cups per day) almost seventeen years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter. Occasionally, I will take a sip of my husband’s brew but, these days (generally speaking), I am a confirmed tea drinker. So, when he said he wanted a coffeemaker that wouldn’t burn his coffee, I thought he meant he didn’t want a coffeemaker that would make more coffee than he could drink in one sitting, a coffeemaker that would leave the additional coffee sit in a carafe on a hot plate and bake all day. Even that kind of confused me because I figured he could just turn off the coffeemaker as soon as the coffee was finished brewing and put the extra coffee in a thermos or something. No, and this demonstrates how far removed I am from my coffee-drinking days, he wanted a coffeemaker that didn’t have a hot plate under the carafe because the extra heat transferred while the coffee dripped into the container was too much additional heating. That, apparently, is when the coffee begins to burn and lose its flavor. (???)

My initial reaction to this statement, I must confess, was somewhere along the lines of:

“You have got to be kidding.”

Followed closely by:

“Are you nuts?”

Ok, call me insensitive, but I thought he was carrying this “burnt coffee” idea a little too far. I just shook my head and wandered around the Gray Goose Cookery store looking at fondue pots and food samples while he examined all the coffeemakers, coffee pots, and coffee presses the owner had in stock. Eventually (and not a moment too soon for my daughter), King Richard came away with this: the Aerobie® Aeropress™ Coffee Press for ~$30.00.

And how does he like his newfound gadget? I believe his exact words were “This is awesome! I can finally duplicate that cup of coffee I had in Hong Kong twenty-five years ago.”

Now all he needs to do is find the perfect tool bag and all our problems will be solved. :-) Anybody need a Starbucks coffee press? I have an extra one hanging around my kitchen.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

And So It Begins

For several years now, one of the Episcopal churches in my area has been making a stand against the policies of their national organization, the Episcopal Church of the United States (ECUSA). As a result, this local congregation recently made the decision to affiliate themselves with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a group that is more orthodox. Needless to say, the ECUSA is not happy with this turn of events; in fact, they are so displeased that, this week, they declared the local parish vacant. Quoting from an article by VirtueOnline (VOL):
The diocese made a grab for the church this week. Seabury church received letters informing them that bishop James Curry, acting as ECC (Bishop Andrew Smith is on sabbatical) had appointed a Priest-in-Charge who would take over the parish immediately…The bishop appointed the Rev. Canon David Cannon as priest-in-charge of the orthodox evangelical parish.
The local response:
“We are not intimidated by the tactics of the diocese,” [Father Ron] Gauss told VOL. “The diocese did not follow their own canons. They did not consult the vestry as required by Canon Law because they believe the Vestry was 'fired' last October.” Not true, said Gauss.
How un-intimidated are they, you ask? In January, the congregation renewed their serving priest’s Civil Contract and re-elected their “terminated” vestry. For all rights and purposes, they consider themselves a functioning, vibrant community of believers, united by faith in Jesus Christ and service to their fellow man.

Some of my dearest friends attend this church and, sad to say, they have been expecting this development for quite a while (hence the title, "And So It Begins"). Where will the conflict go from here? VirtueOnline has this quote from Father Ron:
“If we are pressed, and I hope we won’t, we will go to court to keep the property. WE WILL NOT leave the building. We built it…It is not an historical building. The historical building in Connecticut is now the Mosque --- the Islamic Center of New London. We will see the diocese in Court before we relinquish anything.
Given that statement, I don’t expect resolution anytime soon. In the meantime, I pray for all involved and that God would be glorified regardless of whether this particular congregation is part of the ECUSA or CANA.

If you would like to read more about the conflict between Bishop Seabury and the ECUSA, check out these articles:

Priest Threatened With Ouster
Episcopal Diocese Appoints 'Priest-in-Charge' to Groton Church
It's All About the Property, As Usual
Episcopal Diocese Attacks Another CANA Congregation

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Too Bad We Can’t Swap

I find it interesting that over the course of just a few days I have found articles that tell me:

1) In England, very old churches with exceptional, traditional architecture (like cathedrals) are closing as places of worship due to a lack of parishioners. Many of these facilities are being remodeled into restaurants, clubs, warehouses, and mosques. See story.

2) In America, the “unchurched,” those folks who were not raised in an atmosphere of regular worship attendance or home devotionals, prefer churches that look more like the medieval cathedrals of old than the contemporary buildings many congregations are choosing to construct nowadays. See story.

How sad that we can’t dismantle some of their gorgeous old churches and reconstruct them over here! I would love to attend church in a building like this. The acoustics for handbells would be phenomenal!

Note: check out a medieval church in Wales that was dismantled and moved to a new location fifty miles away. It can be done.

Who Needs McDonalds?!

While cleaning off my desk the past few days, I found this from
Eating selenium-rich foods --- like eggs --- could help keep your memory sharp and your brain speed on high as you age.

In rural China, researchers found that elderly people who got at least the U.S. recommended daily value of selenium (about 55 micrograms per day) had cognitive test scores that put them in a league with people 10 years younger.
Oh, that’s all very interesting, but this is what I thought was cool: the TEM500 Egg & Muffin Combo Toaster/Egg Cooker. Here is a description from the Digital Kitchen Store:
And you thought the drive-thru was fast! Make your favorite breakfast sandwiches --- at home --- in minutes. The Egg & Muffin Toaster brings innovation to the toaster category by combining the functions of a toaster and an egg poacher into one easy-to-use appliance. It even heats your breakfast sausage or bacon! The Egg & Muffin can be used solely as a full functioning toaster or poacher or can be used simultaneously to make the ultimate breakfast sandwich in just 4 minutes! Simply add the necessary ingredients and start the machine.

- delivers in about 4 minutes
- boils up to 4 eggs
- simultaneously toast the bread and cook an egg (poached or steam-scrambled)
- warm a pre-cooked slice of ham or sausage
- wide toasting slots for everything from bread to croissants
- auto shut-off
- easy to use and clean control touchpad
- light to dark toaster settings
- removable crumb tray
- cord storage
- egg lid keeps heat inside
- warming tray to place meat
- steamer tray for hard boiling eggs
And at an average price of $29.88 – $59.95, the little treasure will pay for itself in no time depending, of course, on where you normally buy your egg sandwiches in the morning. With a gadget like this in the kitchen, who needs McDonalds? Bon appetit!

Speaking of Rich Mullins

This is one of my favorite Rich Mullins songs. Enjoy!

Golden Ear Awards

This week, an article over at Christian Post had a preview of the Golden Ear Awards, an annual readers’ choice poll from Ignite Your Faith magazine. Quoting:
The winners for Best Vocalist are listed below:

1. John Cooper, Skillet
2. Trevor McNevan, Thousand Foot Krutch
3. Matt Thiesssen, Relient K
4. Jeremy Camp
5. Jon Foreman, Switchfoot

Honorable Mentions:
- Mark Hall, Casting Crowns
- Jason Dunn, Hawk Nelson

1. Lacey Mosley, Flyleaf
2. Alyssa Barlow, BarlowGirl
3. Tricia Brock, superchick
4. Krystal Meyers
5. Rebecca St. James

Honorable Mentions:
- Plumb
- Bethany Dillon
Being forty-six and the mother of a musician/composer who prefers classical music (more specifically 16th/17th-century sacred music), I have never heard most of these artists. However, being the co-teacher of a high school class at my church, I have heard of these people. I should probably check out their music for the sake of being current and understanding why the kids like it so much. It’s just that most of it is “hard rock” and that just isn’t me. I prefer “old stuff,” like Keith Green and Rich Mullins. Steven Curtis Chapman’s Speechless or Declaration is about as adventurous as I get. Sorry!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


About a month ago, I saw this article in the Daily Mail about an experiment that is being conducted in London. The purpose? To reduce the number of injuries suffered by inattentive cell phone users when they bump into other pedestrians and “street furniture,” like lampposts and the like. Why is this needed? Because:
Around one in ten careless Brits has suffered a “walk ‘n text” street injury in the past year...

The 6.6 million accidents have caused injuries ranging from mild knocks and embarrassing cuts and bruises through to broken noses, cheekbones and even a fractured skull.

Almost two thirds --- 62 percent --- of Brits concentrate so hard while texting that they lose their peripheral vision, researchers found.

- snip –

Britain’s 48 million mobile users together send 4.7 million texts an hour.
Wow! That’s a lot of distracted people. And what does this experiment look like?

I’m sorry to be insensitive, but I can’t help but giggle at this exercise in rescuing folks from their own distractions. I have a more cost-effective solution: put the phone away.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Housing Crisis Presentation

ScrappinSandi from Florida sent me the link for this. I found it quite interesting and, so, have decided to share it with you. The gentleman in the video is The Ticker Guy. His website is Market Ticker, "one investor's view of the financial markets with a focus on both current headlines and longer-term analysis of economic trends." Credit an economics major for my interest in this, but I think it is instructional for all of us in the current economic climate. Enjoy and learn.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

How Does This Work?

This morning, I received an online newsletter from a homeschool support network in my state. I am on their mailing list, but I don’t really ever participate in their activities, mostly because they are too far away. I stay on the list to keep in touch with what other homeschoolers are doing, what they are thinking, and how they “do school.” Increasingly, I am finding this sort of scenario mentioned, not just in the particular newsletter I read this morning but also in blogs and online forums. Maybe you have seen similar situations described as well.
I am a mother of four, stepmom to three, and pregnant with number eight. I homeschool my four biological children...

I work full-time at a non-profit agency where I am responsible for developing programs, networking, and doing fun things like organizing our annual community fair. I “go to” an online university in pursuit of getting a degree...

In my spare time, I run a book club that I really enjoy.
How does this work? How can a parent work full-time and homeschool? I can see if you are a telecommuting parent, or a parent who works out of your home because you would be there to supervise and care for your kids during the day. How does this work if you are employed outside of your home during regular office hours?

I do not mean to be judgmental; I just don’t know how this works. I have homeschooled for over ten years, always as a stay-at-home mom who keeps up her “work skills” by volunteering with community organizations, etc. I sincerely wish to know how people do this.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Our New Bird Feeder

This afternoon, after a busy day at church, my family and I stopped by our local Wild Birds Unlimited store to purchase a replacement bird feeder for our backyard. The current feeder was wooden, mildew-ridden, and rotting, not exactly the kind of dining room that we want to provide for our feathered friends. After thirty minutes of discussion, we chose the EcoTough™ Ranchette Retreat. This is the description from the company website:
A Bird’s Dining Dream Come True

- Two perches
- Seed capacity: 2 gallons
- Suet Capacity: 2 cakes

The EcoTough™ Ranchette Retreat is a fully functioning bird buffet that holds two gallons of seed and two suet cakes. With such a variety of food, you’ll likely attract many different species such as jays, chickadees, woodpeckers and more. Also, the Ranchette Retreat’s screen bottom lifts out, making it easy to clean. (Birdfood and pole not included.)

EcoTough™ feeders and houses are environmentally friendly, high quality products that are made from recycled plastic milk jugs. These feeders and houses prevent used milk jugs form making thier way into our landfills. EcoTough™ feeders and houses won’t rot, crack, fade or warp like wood can. They also come with limited lifetime guarantees.

Dimensions: 11” x 16” x 17”
As you can see from the photograph, the new addition to our backyard has already been installed. So far, my daughter has seen two downy woodpeckers and a number of nuthatches. I can only imagine what will happen when we put up a thistle feeder.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Hanging with Spencer

This evening, while Katherine the Great was in church choir rehearsal, I got a chance to hang out with Spencer, the choir director’s son. He is a bundle of energy whose frankness reminds me very much of my daughter when she was four years old. Tonight, he said I looked “older.” I think that was because I was wearing a gray mock turtleneck that (somehow) manages to highlight every gray hair on my head. Anyway, over the course of an hour or so, we ate some wheat crackers, discussed his Halloween costume, and watched some old Disney cartoons, like this one: