The following is a repost of "The Homemaker's Kitchen" which I had posted on my former blog back in December 2018. It talks about my struggle of not liking my kitchen anymore and how I have solved this problem. I hope you will enjoy reading this post and perhaps gaining some useful tips out of it.
A homemaker will spend many hours of her day in the kitchen. What a joy for her if she loves to spend time in it. It’s the place where she stores her food supplies and where she bakes and cooks her family’s favorite meals.
Imagine for a minute, how much more is going on in this part of her home. Look at her kitchen table where she can do her arts and crafts and sewing projects, or where her children sit down to do their assignments. It’s there that the family gathers for daily worship, to play board games, or to host their guests.
What do you think of your kitchen? Do you like it? Or do you find it would need more cupboards? Perhaps its front doesn’t have such a lovely color as you might wish and/or the countertop reveals its age by now? Say, would you like to spend more time in it again and transform it into a cozy, clean and pleasant place for your family and guests?
“You don’t understand. We don’t have the money to buy a new kitchen,” some of you might say.
Theodore Roosevelt once said: "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." This is exactly what I’ve reminded myself of when I struggled very much with my own kitchen (we are renting the house we are living in).
You see, shortly before Christmas time I had just received the workbooks of my new home economic course and began working my way through a section called Efficient Kitchen Organization. The more I read, however, the more I frustrated I became. Why couldn’t I have a different, a better kitchen? One that works? I longed for a bigger and nicer one with new appliances; one that would have more than one hanging cupboard; one that would have a sink with two basins. It was no fun baking and cooking in this place. Oh my goodness! After taking a break and slowly reading through the same section again, I rolled up my sleeves and began to work with what I have and where I was at. By the end of the day the job was done and I was quite pleased with the outcome.
Yes, I did struggle and, to be honest, it wasn’t easy at all to rearrange everything and reorganize my working space according to what the workbook said, especially since my space is quite limited. But, I did it. Now it makes such a huge difference and working in it is so much fun again.
I worked my way through the lesson about Efficient Kitchen Organization which suggests to divide the kitchen into several areas. Here is what I have come up with:
The storage area for dry food and the refridgerator are to the left. In this area I keep everything I need to prepare bread, cakes and meals: measuring tools, mixer and its attachments, bowls, wooden spoons, baking pans, cupcake liners, dry ingredients like flour, sugar, seeds, recipes and cookbooks.
The workbook of the home economic course says to use a round tray for storing spices. However, I’m using a small box for salt, pepper, herbs, etc. (see on the countertop) and a small tin box that contains baking powder, soda, cinnamon, vanilla and so on (see right-hand side of top shelf inside the cupboard).
Here is where I store the frying pans and cooking utensils (hanging on hooks to the right), pots and colander and slow cookers (in the cupboard below), and where I’m baking and cooking (see the double oven with built in stove to the left).
Washing Up Area
There is a dishwasher on the right-hand side but I’m actually washing my dishes by hand. I find this more efficient and hygienic.
Dishes and Cutlery Area
I keep coffee, tea, bread and oats in the cupboard above and the coffeemaker, foodslicer, etc. on the countertop so I’m also calling this the Breakfast area.
I stack the plates that I use daily in the front and the others in the back. Cutlery, towels, cling film, aluminum foil and bags are found in the drawers.
I’m very happy that I was able to arrange all of the areas right next to each other and that I can continually work my way from left to right. You might doubt at first that dividing your kitchen into these specific areas will change anything. I did, too. I can tell you now, though, that this does make such a big difference. Give it a try and you will see!
Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all."
Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands, And let her own works praise her in the gates.
(Proverbs 31:28-31 NKJV)
This is for you, my precious friend and beloved sister in Christ - and to you, girls, who are insecure whenever praises are directed at you.
Notice that the praises the woman of Proverbs 31 is receiving are not coming from herself, which wouldn't be right (Proverbs 27:2). Instead, her children, her husband, others, and her works are the ones who praise her.
This woman is a great blessing to her family, her friends, and her neighbors. Her children stand up for her mom and call her blessed. Her husband praises her for he is convinced neither his own nor any other daughter could ever keep nor make his house the home his wife does. His love looks beyond her charm and beauty; he acknowledges that because of her love to God she is able to help him in the way she does. Her works are praising her, they speak louder than any words could ever do.
Back to you, my precious friend. ...
Did you see that soft glance in your husband's eyes while you were sharing something about the good old days? Have you noticed how his shoulder moved closer to yours after you've taken your seat next to him? Did you hear his tone of admiration when he mentioned that dish you are cooking so well? How about your children? You may think you have failed in one or another way but have a good look at them! Not too close, my friend! Keep a bit of a distance to see them through the eyes of someone who isn't part of your family. You will see how comfortable they feel in your home and how much they love you.
Myself? At times, yes, I find myself having trouble accepting praise. That usually happens when I'm in doubt of deserving it or if I question the honesty of it. And, sadly, I do find myself desiring approval from others now and then. On the other side, whenever I read Proverbs 31:23, I become more and more aware of what is giving me the greatest pleasure of all (praise):
Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land.
(Proverbs 31:23 NKJV)
Now, understand, this doesn't necessarily regard his place in the church. It might talk about his achievement at work or a position he is having within the community. A wife has quite an influence in her man's life: she can either support and encourage him and advance his reputation, or she can nag and drag him down. Remember, encouragement and praises mean a lot to your husband. I'll share some ideas about this in one of my future posts.
Sanitary pads that are reusable? Are you kidding me? Nope! Actually, I would like for you to reconsider using them if you have thought about them before. And, if you are new to this topic, please consider the numerous advantages that come from using washable feminine towels.
Do the math and add up the price for disposable ones, how many of them you are using per month and throughout the year, for how many years of your lifetime...
True, it will take a short while to get used to wearing them instead of disposable ones. However, you will feel the difference soon. These natural and washable cotton pads feel much nicer on the skin and they are healthier than their alternative chemical ones.
Yes, the plastic ones seem so much easier to handle and appear more convenient, at least most of the time. On the other side, however, they are absolutely not good for the environment. They contain quite a few chemicals (e.g. BPA and other plastics and fragrances and/or odor neutralizers) which can cause health issues to this sensitive part of your body. Restricting the free flow of air, they create a warmth and dampness in this area which can cause growth of bacteria and trigger yeast infections.
What to do with the pad after it has been used Keep a bucket (preferable with a lid on top), filled with cold water. Add a few drops of bleach to the water if you don't mind to do so. This will prevent smells and will prepare the pads for the wash later on. Put the used pads into it. Empty the bucket and refill the bucket frequently, rinsing the pads while doing so. Wash them later on, preferably at 60°C.
Store the washed ones in a non-transparent plastic or cardboard container close to where you will need them. Keep some of them in your handbag: put them inside a small bag along with a plastic zip lock bag for the used ones to take back home to wash.
Where to buy reusable sanitary pads Search for them online (e.g. at Amazon where you will usually find them). They come in different sizes and shapes. I've bought mine a few years back. I'm using Imse Vimse pads and I'm quite please with them. They are all white, including the inserts. Nowadays, they come in all kinds of patterns and colors.
If you were to write down the three top priorities in your life, who or what would come first? God? Your daily devotions? Time spent with and for your husband? Being together with your children? Your work? Your home? Your friends? Your ministry?
If you were told that you were only to live another 6-12 months, would you change anything? Why? Why not?
Honestly? I struggle now and then, setting my priorities right. I believe that the following is the perfect order:
2 Husband and Home
The problems start, of course, if God doesn't come first in our lives, but also whenever the ministry takes a higher place than our husband and our family. I'm guilty of having given my ministry too much attention while neglecting my marriage.
1 Putting God first. I'm not talking about plain Bible reading. I want to know more about God's Word, of course, but spending time with my LORD is so much more than that. It's about talking, praying to Him, listening to Him (e.g. verses He brings to my mind or points me to while reading His words) and praising Him through prayer and songs. The quantity of time doesn't matter as much as the quality of it. That changes everything!
2 Putting my husband second. He needs to be only second after God. I remind myself that he has a very special place in my life - even before my child/ren and, yes, before my ministry which goes beyond my home. I include many things I can and should do for him: keeping our home running and in order, guarding his time (after working hours end), supporting him in his work and encouraging him, minding our child/ren while he is working, acknowledging him as the head of our home, telling him how proud I'm of him.
3 Putting the ministry in third place. I find this so important. We are tempted to put the ministry before our husband. But we need to remember that woman was made for man (1 Corinthians 11:9), that we should be keepers of the home (Titus 2:5), and that we need to teach our children diligently (Deuteronomy 6:7). So, for a good amount of years, our ministry lies in meeting our husband's and family's needs and keeping our home.
Heard a great sermon from 1 Corinthians 11 about headship and head covering last Sunday. I want to share a little bit about it and another sermon that was preached in the same church a few weeks ago.
We know the verses in Ephesians that talk about a man loving his wife as Christ loves the Church and about the wife submitting to her husband as the Church submits to Christ. This has always been the picture I have kept in mind. However, things changed after a I have heard a sermon on this a couple of weeks ago and a reminder of it mentioned yesterday.
Think of it, we have to submit to our husband as the Church submits to Christ. But does the individual local church always submit to Christ as the Head of the Church? So, if even the church slips I shouldn't feel that guilty if now and then I don't submit, should I? Well... You see, both preachers mentioned that, in God's order, there needs to be a "loving authority" and a "loving submission". Both of the men pointed to the words found in the first book to the Corinthians and in Ephesians but also to the fact of the relationship between God and Jesus: God being the "Loving Authority" while Christ being the "Loving Submissive" One.
That picture changed everything for me. God, the "loving Authority" sends His Son and His Son responds in "loving submission". I asked myself what would have happened, if Jesus would have said: "Up to this point, yes, but not any further. It's not worth it. Nothing will change by Me submitting anyway." I was shocked about my attitudes and the many situations before in which I doubted that submission was the right way to go.
Nope! I'm not the perfect wife. Not at all! I'm more desperately preaching to myself here. I don't willingly, lovingly submit to my husband all the time. All too often I put my wants, my wishes, my pleasures first. But I also keep reminding myself that God's ways are best and that His Grace enables me to keep my feet on His path.
By the way, in the same passage (1 Corinthians 11) Paul is talking about head coverings. I will not get into details about this symbol today but leave it instead for another day's post. So, if you want to find out more about it, please stay tuned.
My post Finances - Introduction is a short overview what it means to live according to our available finances. Today I want to talk a little about debt in general.
Honestly? We have never experienced a great debt, beside the mortgage for our apartment. Yes, we did buy a few things on credit, mainly tempted by the 0% interest deals back then. We also had a credit card which we had used in some cases of emergency and to pay what we had ordered from stores outside of Europe. True, debt has not given us sleepless nights all too often. On the other side, we did have quite a few days in our lives when money was short and we were struggling to pay off what we have owed.
Of course, it's always best to avoid the burden of more or less big loans altogether. But how? We will need to learn to be content with less and/or what we have. How much house (clothing, food, etc.) do we really need? Before buying, and especially before applying for a credit, we should always ask ourselves if it is luxury we are craving for, and, how much of our freedom we are willing to give up for it.
God's Word says: The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender. (Proverb 22:7)
There is something about living debt-free, when we are no longer slaves to our creditors. No matter how small or large the amount of debt is, it's important to tackle it, to break free from it. Regardless of the reasons for our debts, we should give our best to get rid of them as quickly as possible, even after getting ourselves into debt due to unfortunate circumstances. There is something special about having more than enough so we can share and help the ones who are in need (Eph. 4:28).
How do we tackle debt? Stay tuned, I will write more on that in a future post.
Last week I have talked about the importance of taking the time to nurture our marriage. If we ignore this, things will get out of hand eventually. In the beginning we might still be able to downplay disagreements. However, sooner or later, a pile of problems that has not been dealt with will become a burden to the marriage.
Of course, keeping a marriage in good order is more serious than keeping a home tidy. Still, they are quite similar in some ways. If we pay attention and do not neglect them we can make things a bit easier on ourselves.
Think of this scenario: You receive a phone call from unexpected visitors, announcing that they are just around the corner of your house, planning to drop in shortly. All of the sudden, you are hard-pressed for time. You are in danger of losing it while running like mad through your home to put away at least some of the piled up clutter and cleanup what is absolutely necessary. Imagine how relaxed you could greet them at the door if you wouldn't have to worry about a thing before they'll arrive...
Now, let me say that a lonely home doesn't need cleaning, a family home does. We can't keep an occupied house spotless 24/7. There is no need to. It would lose the touch of coziness. Also remember that people are more important than stuff, so that a comforted child sitting on your lap is a greater reward than having a spotless bathroom.
Having said that, let me share just three things that will help us keep our homes clean:
The whole trick is to stay on top of things: accomplishing a little every day. That way you are facing no or a lesser burden during the weekly/monthly cleaning job and/or the cleanup before unexpected visitors arrive.