Lately I’ve been ruminating over the fact that so many of the things worth doing in life are hard.
I’m just going to come out and say it – it’s hard to have convictions, especially when those convictions are counter-cultural. When you try to stretch your dollars; when you try to reach your children’s hearts and not just actions; when you try to eat whole foods; when you try to fill your mind with intelligent, wise thoughts; when you try to go against the culture – it’s hard.
I get very frustrated when I read frugal blogs or money saving blogs and the women that write them are constantly screaming at you (through the use of too many exclamation marks and overcapitalization, which seems to be a major problem on many of these blogs and Pinterest articles) that they can’t imagine how ANYbody could possibly spend more than $200 a month on groceries and life is so much SIMPLER this way and to actually pay FULL price for an item is just UNTHINKABLE I mean who could POSSIBLY actually want to buy mayonnaise at MORE than 50 CENTS???!!!!!!
I’ll be honest – I would so much rather pay full price. I would so much rather walk into a grocery store and buy the highest quality item at whatever price it happens to be at that moment. It’s much, much harder to try to pinch pennies and make things yourself. The whole idea that eating at home is more satisfying than eating out just doesn’t resonate with me. I’d much rather eat out at Panera, because they make a better salad than me – or Maggiano’s, because they make a better pasta than me. And really, the fact that I didn’t have to dirty pots and pans and dishes means that it tastes infinitely better than even my best recipe. So no, it is not really always more enjoyable to eat dinner at home than out.
Since I am fully aware that many of my (and my husband’s) convictions are intensely personal and not shared by many other thoughtful, godly people, I can also get awfully jealous. People who don’t feel convicted about Christian education get to send their kids to school for free. People who don’t feel convicted about children in church can put their kids in the nursery and actually pay attention in the service. People who don’t feel convicted about TV shows get to watch the Bachelor/Bachelorette (which my husband recently banned me from doing). People who don’t feel convicted about whole foods cooking can buy premade frozen meals and enjoy the ease of making them.
I have multiple friends who don’t use microwaves. That sounds hard. Sometimes I’ll bet they wish they could just pop something in the microwave. I have friends who compost. That sounds hard. I’ll bet they’d say it was easier to just throw things in the trash.
If I were to pretend that trying to teach a 13-month-old to sit through a sermon were easy and any other way was unthinkable, I would be lying. Perhaps some people are so passionate about certain things that the thought of doing anything else seems outrageous and stupid. And if you are, that must make your life easier – but don’t discourage others who aren’t always excited about following their convictions. I’m not tempted to put my children into public school, but I cannot possibly deny that it would be cheaper and easier than homeschooling or Christian schooling. Most of the time, MY way of doing things seems outrageous to me.
None of this is to say that following your convictions is not satisfying. But satisfying is very different from easy.
In the end, I think that this post is really about encouraging us all to accept that we are all at different places in our convictions. We need to be each other’s cheerleaders towards their own convictions, not towards ours. We need to have understanding that other people may not find things as easy as we do. We also need to acknowledge when it’s hard to do what we think is right or better, because pretending that it’s easy as pie is only confusing and frustrating to much of the rest of the world. When we don’t agree, we still need to support and be reasonable. I am thankful that recently I’ve been able to chat with a couple of friends who support, advise, and listen to my convictions even though they don’t share every aspect of them. I hope that I can turn around and do that for another.
One of the many reasons that I love Deb at Smitten Kitchen is that she isn’t afraid to just make things herself – and I don’t mean grilled chicken for dinner, I mean poptarts and wheat thins and sandwich bread and granola bars and real brownies. And she doesn’t do it so she can make things super fancy. She just does it because in the end, it’s way better.
It’s way better and it’s cheap. I could drive to the store and spend $3 on a box of Wheat Thins or I could have them right now in my own kitchen. Work? Yes. Better? Yes.
I’m trying this new way. I’ve always been a whole-foods sort of person and I really love to do things myself. But it’s not always cheaper, at least up front (buying tahini and dried garbanzo beans is pretty pricey at the start, even though you get your money’s worth over time), and I’ve always maintained that my time is often as valuable as my money. And I will hold that that is a valid excuse forever.
But right now I’m trying to do some more things myself because, to be honest, I need to be a little bit more resourceful around the house. And it’s really, really satisfying to be able to look into a kitchen and pantry full of yummy, hearty things and know that it’s the fruit of your own labors.
But let’s face it, it’s hard. Sandwiches for lunch and salads as a dinner side; cereal for breakfast and ice cream for dessert are so ingrained into our mentalities that it’s almost impossible to think of something else. And let’s be real, who wants to cook every single meal of the day from scratch? It’s exhausting.
But my parents blessed me by buying me a big, fat chest freezer and I’m trying hard to fill it up. A day or two of hard hard work every week or two means way better in-between periods, and it comes back down to that old attitude I’ve mentioned before that sacrificing now often means easy street later. So in trying to buy less cereal and deli meats and milk, I’d been scrambling every morning and noon time trying to come up with something, anything to eat and stressed beyond belief. But after spending a short weekend compiling breakfast burritos, muffins, premade steel cut oatmeal and granola bars, cookie dough and vegetable stews, baby fruits and lentil purees, I now wake up every morning happy in the knowledge that there’s something hearty and delicious for every meal of the day.
The real point of this post is to invite you to follow my Pinterest boards in the hopes of inspiring others to take the kitchen back into their own hands. I’ve been putting together some of the best recipes out there on the web for the simple things we never think to make ourselves (like tortillas and naan); practical dinners; cereal and sandwich alternatives; and drool-worthy recipes for when you JUST NEED SOMETHING RICH. These are all only my ideas, though – everything that I’ve made and liked I move over to the tested and loved board, so you know which recipes meet my approval :). Check it out!
I love the morning light in my house, and while enjoying it I realized that I haven’t shown you all my house in a long while, and there have been a lot of changes. So let’s take a very short tour. Excuse the lack of stylized photos – this is just my house, this morning, as is.
I love that all of my back windows look out onto a solid wall of greenery. So solid I didn’t know what was behind our house for several months, till all the leaves fell off the trees in the winter. Turns out that there are houses back there, and a large wooded gulley.
Yes, Ida’s birthday decorations are still up. I told you, I’m not perfect. :) The table below in the dining room is from my husband’s grandmother.
I love the beachy color in the front entry. I almost wish I’d carried it through the whole downstairs, but I think that might have been a bit over-beachy.
The living area is a hodge-podge of things. It needs more on the wall, but that will come in time.
This is one of my favorite bits of the house. Don’t you love how the chandelier casts so many light patterns in the stairwell?
There you are this morning, a little taste of what we’re currently living in. I didn’t even show you the book corner – but I’ll do that later. :)
Ida is now officially one year old.
Andy said to me as I was preparing for the party, “Does it seem ironic that we have this big party and she doesn’t even remember?”
We decided that a first birthday is just as much a celebration for the parents and the family as it is for the little one to enjoy.
The truth is, the first year is a lot of hard work, a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of change.
And a lot of big fat baby smiles, dimples, and rolls.
And so it was wonderful to take a day and celebrate God’s goodness to us. For me, it was as much a party of praise to Him as it was in honor of Ida.
It was also a chance for the whole family to get together and just purely enjoy Ida.
I’ll share a little bit more of the party later :)
I will say this: Ida did amazing. Even though she was sweaty and sticky and a little overwhelmed (and very frustrated that she’d get a new toy and then it would be taken away while yet another box would be shoved into her arms) she was cheery and happy and all around delightful. Even if she did not want to be held at all!
I want to share with you a picture of my baby. Not THAT baby. Well, okay, here’s a picture of my real baby (you twisted my arm):
I’ll give you a little break while you take a deep breath and marvel over her absolute beauty. I’m not kidding.
But on to my other baby. My darling, pet project. One of those things you generally want to do but never do… and I did! Here it is:
It’s hard for me not to break out into a rendition of “Isn’t She Lovely” here. This is my hideous, almond colored 1990s fridge that works too well for me to contemplate replacing it. Now, it is a fun chalkboard ready for Ida to get bigger and draw all over it while I make dinner! A fun chalkboard ready for my weekly menu! A fun chalkboard ready for notes written right on it rather than post-it notes stuck to the handle for Andy and my sister in the mornings!
It was a piece of cake to make, actually. I used three thin coats of Rustoleum’s Magnetic Primer, and then two medium coats of Valspar’s Chalkboard Paint. It took one afternoon – I gave the three priming coats 30 minutes to dry between applications (the first coat was the hardest, but after that it was easy peasy), and then took a break to run some errands for a few hours before I applied the chalk paint which meant it was good and ready. Then just another 30 minutes between the two layers of chalk paint and it was done!
There was then a minor disaster in which I decided to purchase chalk markers instead of regular chalk, and the ones that I bought brutally stained my lovely new chalk finish in neon colors. All it took was a paintbrush and a little more chalk paint to cover it up, though. So now we’re back to normal and we are using only regular chalk from here on out!
The only difficulty, really, was working with the magnetic primer. It was very grainy and hard to get smooth, so that combined with the already textured surface of the fridge left a slightly rough finish to my chalkboard. It’s no harm, just means that the chalk is a little dustier than it would need to be when you write with it and it takes a little extra effort to get it perfectly clean again (the chalk wipes off easily with a damp cloth, just leaves a little bit of a dusting behind in the grooves if you do it quickly). When I was covering up the stains with a paintbrush, though, I found that the result was much smoother than working with a roller, so if you’d like a smoother finish I suggest doing your last coat with a brush instead of a roller.
Cost was less than $50 for the primer, paint, and a small roller/tray kit. I also had to spend $5 on frog tape which put me up above $50 but if you have it on hand you’re good to go. Beats shelling out $1500+ for a new stainless steel fridge, huh? And I think it adds a fun, whimsical character to my kitchen. I’m in love! What do you think?
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