Wifely Wednesday: Pinteresting…Very, Very Pinteresting…

I used to be a Pinterest hater. In fact, I even looked down my lofty nose at all my friends who used Pinterest. Giant waste of time, I thought. So worldly, I sniffed. Well…guess what? I am now an converted user of Pinterest. It has been a great way for me to find homeschool ideas, recipes, craft plans, exercise routines, etc. My children have particularly benefited, since I now have the plans on hand to do any number of fun things with them that I might otherwise have never thought of.

To be sure, Pinterest has its faults. So I’ll get a few of those out of the way right now:

1) It inflates our already narcissistic natures. What is up with our national obsession in documenting every intimate detail of our life with posed photography?
2) It increases covetousness. After you look at 75 pictures of beautiful bookshelves, your own milk crate storage system seem a little, well, bland.
3) It can suck up a lot of time in a hurry. One of my favorite memes says something like, “Honey, please order a pizza for dinner tonight because I was too busy pinning nutritious recipes.”
4) If one doesn’t search wisely, one can see all sorts of immodest, immoral, and ungodly filth on Pinterest. No big surprise there!

Now, on to my point here. I always wonder how many of the things people pin they actually try. And of those things that they try, how many actually work? I have made it my goal to only pin things that I might realistically do. In other words, I have to have the time, finances, and practical interest in them. This way I avoid wasting time daydreaming about unattainable goals and I don’t make provision for discontent. So I’m not pinning pictures of million dollar homes, and I’m not pinning pictures of elaborate crafts that I don’t have the skills for.

I thought I’d share some pins that have been hits at the Dionne house and one that was a big loser. It’s hard to remember the losers, because I take them off my boards right away so that other people don’t repin them and have the same sad fate. But I really want to know what YOU are actually trying out on your own boards. What worked? What didn’t? Leave a comment and let me know!

Here is my short list of greatest hits (and greatest loser):

Carmelitas. Oh, so very good.

Cool 3D hand drawing. The kids and I had a blast doing this!

Embroidery tutorials. This has renewed my love for the craft and given me the tools to start teaching my daughters.

Shouting German. This just makes me laugh every time I read it. Na klar! To find this funny you probably have to have known my college German professor who stood only 5 feet tall but scared the pants off us when she shouted at us in German.

Science Experiments. These are simple enough that the older kids can do them on their own on those days when they want to be busy and I don’t have time to help.

Card holder for tiny hands. Pure genius! This has revolutionized game night for us.

Kid-tested jokes. We still giggle over these at lunch time. I won’t tell you which one makes us laugh the hardest.

Pepperoni bread. Perfect for taking to our church’s home fellowship groups on Sunday nights.

iPhone carrying case. I made a bunch of these for Christmas gifts, and they were so cute!

A quick guide to Southern grammar. Just the visual needed to explain this complicated concept.

Now the biggest loser!

Chicken pot pie muffins. These were so gross that my family named them “Barf Muffins.” I was unanimously asked to never make them again. Ever.

~Sarah Dionne

Wifely Wednesday: Better Late…

IMG_0003Well here it is, 12:30 in the afternoon and I only just now realized it’s Wednesday! I’ve been busy all morning cleaning out the homeschool cupboard. Finished text books are put on the bookshelf or cycled down to the younger sibling for next year, finished workbooks are filed away in case the great state of South Carolina should ever decide to check up on what I’m teaching my children, mini pencils and those without erasers have been thrown away, new pencils are sharpened and put in the basket, craft supplies were weeded out and reorganized. And, of course, all this cleaning had the delightful effect of making my children suddenly struck with a passion to use all the craft supplies we own. Which means I’ll get to clean it all again this afternoon.

Does this happen in your house? A newly cleaned room becomes the one room that everybody wants to play in? My attitude on this was changed radically after I read a post by Rachel Jankovic on the Femina blog. In it she said,

Imagine you spent the day rearranging and cleaning up the living space in your home. You have flowers and clean curtains and fresh throw pillows and maybe a candle. You are pleased. The right lights are on. Things are good. And then, like the wolf on the fold, the people in your life descend upon your work. They peel off socks and put their feet on the coffee table. They come from afar bringing baskets of craftiness to spread out upon the couch. They pop popcorn and carelessly munch. Someone goes so far as to get out the puzzles. In such a moment, it would be easy (don’t ask me how I know) to become shrill. It is easy to see each chin-glancing popcorn shrapnel as an insult. “Don’t you value the work I do?!” “Don’t you care how long this took me?!” “Why can’t you just not do this??” Even if you don’t say it, you may feel a little despair, a little resentment, and a little “why do I even try?”.

But the truth is, we need a new perspective. It is moments like this that should give us a lot of job satisfaction. These people are enjoying you. They are enjoying your work. But, like a great dinner all laid out on the table, you don’t enjoy it without touching it. A chef would not look at dishes coming back to the kitchen untouched as a sign of success. It would not mean great things about your work. Yet this is what we want from the work we do in our homes.

I’m sure most of you have noticed the magnetic power of what you clean. Clean the bookshelf up, and everyone wants to read. Organize the little toys, and everyone wants to play with the things they have been callously walking on for days. This is a sign that you are succeeding, that your people love your work. Think of it like food, because that is how it is getting used.

So as summer vacation takes off and our children are gathered around us, let’s take satisfaction in the pleasure they take from us and from our work. It may not come in the form of adoring praise or maintaining the pristine cleanliness of our homes. More likely it will be sticky faces from the lunch we made or elaborate forts built after we read a book that inspired their inner architect. Hooray for messy, happy summer!

~Sarah Dionne

Wifely Wednesday: Sarah’s Short List of Selfish Reasons to Show Hospitality

We all know that we should be showing hospitality on a regular basis, even to strangers. God has told us in His word to do it (Heb. 13:2), and we know that we will be blessed as we obey Him in this service. But have you ever stopped to consider some of the other perks that come along with having people into your home on a regular basis? Here, in no order of importance, is my Short List of Selfish Reasons to Show Hospitality.

1) Maid Service
Seriously, if I didn’t know that guests were arriving at my doorstep on a regular basis, I would not clean my toilets nearly as often as I do. Showing hospitality is just the impetus this lazy housekeeper needs to stay on top of cleaning. Most of the women I talk to dread the thought of cleaning more than the actual time it takes to do it. Showing regular hospitality is a proven cure for the problem of procrastination! I consider it a real blessing that I have this weekly motivation to do the chores I would otherwise ignore until they became an unpleasant burden nagging on my mind. Without it, I must admit, I would not be intrinsically motivated enough to keep up with the cleaning. Just to be clear, I could never pass a white glove inspection. I probably wouldn’t pass a brown glove inspection! But regular hospitality is a great help in forcing me to keep up with the bare minimum. So if you are ignoring a very messy house, call a family up right now and invite them over this week. I guarantee you’ll have a clean house in no time!

2) Chocolate
I love having a weekly excuse to bake dessert. While we don’t usually serve anything really fancy for guests, it’s fun to do the little extras: dessert, hot dinner rolls, etc.  Yes, I do need to spend extra time in the kitchen cooking for guests. But that means that I also get to eat more! In fact, having people over on Sunday in particular is a great time to feast in celebration of the Lord’s Day. And I certainly do like to feast. Let me be perfectly honest here; if I didn’t have people at my table regularly, that would be fewer opportunities for me to bake and eat brownies. And that, my friends, would be sad for me.

3) Nanny 911
Nothing serves to train our children in manners better than having to put it into practice every Sunday at the dinner table with our guests. We can teach the rules of etiquette to them during the week, but the rubber meets the road when their Sunday school teacher is observing how they eat soup. Of course, the fact that my husband throws dinner rolls to me across the table might be a slight detriment, but our guests have never complained. They’ve also never been hit in the face with a dinner roll. Yet.

4) Home Entertainment System
We all like to be entertained. Some people are entertained by watching other people’s lives on TV. Some people spend lots of money going places to be entertained. Some of us invite entertainment to come over and have dinner with us. Right in our dining room we’ve been able to meet the most interesting people, hear the best stories, and watch the greatest party tricks. And unlike the TV, we get to interact with our entertainment, to ask them questions, or to beg them to tell just one more joke. We may feed their bellies, but they feed our imaginations and our minds as they talk about the experiences God has brought them through.

So that’s my Short List. What would you add?

~Sarah Dionne

Wifely Wednesday: Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

This week I’m avoiding theological topics altogether. Instead I’m going to share three of my newest favorite tools in the kitchen. Although, I suppose even kitchen gadgets take on some eternal significance when one believes, as I do along with Nancy Wilson, that “reformation starts in the home” and is visibly shown by the mundane tasks we do!

My Beloved Potato Ricer

Andrew bought this for me for St. Nicholas Day. And I was so smitten with it, that I made a demonstration video and texted it to him. Here is the genius of the potato ricer: you can cook potatoes with their skins on, pop them into the ricer, give a squeeze, and have fluffy, mashed potatoes with no skins! It’s amazing. I’ve heard you can rice all sorts of other goodies, too, like cauliflower. It supposedly also makes good baby food, but I don’t have any babies around the house to try it out on (insert sad face).

My Rice Cooker

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My father in law bought this for me several years ago, although I didn’t really start using it until recently. The first few times I used it, I ignored the directions to rinse the rice first, so my initial attempts yielded dry, browned rice around the edges. I wasn’t thrilled, so I put it in the back of the cupboard and forgot about it. Recently, however, I pulled it out, actually followed the directions, and have been hooked ever since. It is so nice to throw the rice in on Sunday morning and come home to perfectly cooked, hot rice! And you have to love the 20 cup capacity (because you never know when you are going to need 20 cups of rice). It also steams food in a tray while the rice cooks, so you can cook a complete meal in one gadget. This model is rather pricey just because of the size, but there are smaller versions available for less money.

My New 24-Cup Muffin Tin

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I used some birthday money last month to buy this bad boy. 24 muffins in one pass through the oven. Enough said! Actually, I use it to make brown and serve potato rolls for our Sunday dinners. But I’m looking for an excuse to use the pan for something chocolate…

So what about you? What are your favorite kitchen gadgets? Do share!

~Sarah Dionne