Book Review: Living Organized

I think this may be one of those books that gets really high reviews and really low reviews, depending on the situation of the person who reads it.

I bought this book after missing a friend’s wedding because I thought it was the next day. The book was on my book list, so obviously I recognized that I was in need of some general help in the area of organization. But after missing the wedding, I literally logged on to Amazon and clicked ‘purchase’ right then and there.

Well, it disappointed. But like I said, maybe it depends upon the personality or level of need in the person doing the reading. I know how to be organized and I know how to clean. I don’t have a problem with not knowing my decorating style and my husband is great in this area and does not contribute to the messiness. These are situations and problems she emphasizes in this book and then offers advice on how to deal with them. Since I don’t have those particular problems, the book was not as beneficial to me as it maybe would be to some.

But it was well worth the $9.99 to find out what my problem really is.

Inability to make a decision
So many things in my house accumulate because I just don’t know what to do with it at the time. Better to do nothing than make the wrong decision, right? Yeah, that’s not working so well for me.

Mess-maker
I have kids and stay home with them. Meaning that I make and clean up 3 meals a day. And I homeschool, which sort of adds constant mess all throughout the day, if I’m not careful.

Procrastination 
It can wait until later when I really need to do it.

Avoidance of frustration
Leaving things undone because I don’t want to deal with the frustration of it right now… only to deal with the frustration of it later. Frustration never just goes away.

Desire for instant gratification
“I’m so hungry; I want to eat the sandwich now! I’ll put the mustard away after I’m done.” Gets me a cluttered kitchen and house in no time.

The very most helpful part of the book for me, took up one whole page. Just one.

A Procrastinator’s Creed:

  • I will make the bed as soon as it is empty.
  • I will clear the table and do the dishes and clean the kitchen immediately after eating. I will consider cleanup part of the meal.
  • I will put away what I get out and will not say I will be using it again soon.
  • I will handle the mail as soon as I pick it up and will not leave it in a pile to consider later.
  • I will hang up my clothes and put away my shoes as soon as they are off my body.
  • I will remember those three tender little words: “DO IT NOW.”

So that’s my game plan, “DO IT NOW.” Thank you, little average to less-than-average book for your $10 page of gold.

Hard to give a straight review because of the subjectivity involved, but sadly, I have to give it a C.  May be helpful to those in need of professional-level organizational help!

Rating: C. Average

Title: Living Organized: Proven Steps for a Clutter-Free and Beautiful Home
Author: Sandra Felton
Length: 222 pages
Genre: Home

Weekly Dish: Greek Salad

I love salads and could maybe eat them for every meal. There are so many possibilities! Here is one of my favorites:

Greek Salad

1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 Cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 Cup Kalmata olives
1 cucumber, sliced into half moons
1 Cup cherry or grape tomatoes, or 1 tomato, chopped
1/2 Cup Red Onion, thinly sliced
Grilled or pan-fried chicken breast, chopped or sliced (optional)

Dressing:

1 Tablespoon homemade chicken stock
3 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
6 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 cloves crushed garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon real salt or celtic sea salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste

 

Fruit From the Vine: Chacah, Batach, Yachal

I think we might (it’s also quite possible I am just speaking for myself here) get a little confused when it comes to trusting the Lord. When I ask my child to trust me that I’m not going to let him fall, it’s because I really am not going to let him fall. So we naturally think that when we trust the Lord, it provides supernatural protection against all major and most minor harm.

So when you’re faced with no job or cancer or no money coming in or no financial plan for the future or retirement and you say, “I’m just trusting the Lord,” it seems really spiritual. Except really what you’re saying is, “God is going to make a job fall in my lap” or “God is not going to let me die from cancer” or “He meets all of our needs, we don’t need to worry. Our cell phone and TV and car payments will still be paid even without the numbers working out on paper.” This sometimes does happen. God sometimes does the miraculous in our lives, and for that I am thankful. But our picture of trust is tainted, still.

What about the Christian, who really is trusting the Lord with all their heart and not leaning on their own understanding, that is dying of a disease or that can’t pay the bills and is going into foreclosure or whose desires of their hearts aren’t being met? Not enough faith? God not being faithful?

The word trust has a few different meanings in Scripture. One word in the Hebrew that means trust is chacah and it means “to take refuge”. Another one is batach which means “to have confidence in, to set ones hope in.” Another is yachal, meaning “to wait, hope, expect.” (Note: The word list is not exhaustive…there are many more in Hebrew and Greek.)

With any one of these words, the definition is NOT: “trust because He will make everything work out okay. That’s God’s job.”

Trust does not mean that Jesus will work it all out just because you commit the situation to Him. It doesn’t mean safety, peace, comfort, prosperity, health, or even life. It certainly doesn’t mean that all of your American dreams or wishes are met. Yes, he has plans for you. But have you considered the possibility that those plans could be bankruptcy or disease or being murdered?

I don’t think I have considered this much in the past. God is indeed faithful to Himself and His promises but a good, prosperous, safe life with every desire being met is not one of his promises. When I say, “I trust you Lord,” what I mean is “I take refuge in You. I have confidence in You, that Your plan is better than mine. I put my hope in you and I wait for You. I expect you to be Faithful, because that is Who You are.”

Anything that I desire cannot be compared to Him and His glory. All things, material and otherwise, are to be in service to Him and point to Him. He does not serve US and the things in our lives. We gladly use and give thanks for the gifts He gives, holding on to them very loosely, knowing that we are not owed any of them. They are ALL evidence of grace. Our right response is to love Him, serve Him, obey Him, trust Him.

I cling to him during times of uncertainty or worry because He has Sovereign hands. And I trust Him, not because it will all work out for what I think is good, but that it will be what He deems good for me. Maybe that’s life, maybe that’s death. Maybe that’s poverty or illness or persecution or famine. Whatever it is, I place my trust in Him, because He is trust-worthy.

Book Review: Raising Godly Tomatoes

This book was recommended by a friend, and oh, I am so thankful. I have been in love with No Greater Joy ministries for a long time and have effectively used it for training my rugrats. But there was still some small thing missing and I found it in this book.

She presents the idea behind the name of the book like this: with a tomato vine/plant/whatever you call it (I am not a gardener if you can’t tell!) you stake it or cage it so that it grows up straight. While she doesn’t recommend caging your child (even if you may want to!), it is in your best interest to stake them. Keep them next to you at all times while they are learning how to obey. Once they are sufficiently trained, they may travel more than 3 feet from you. But until then, they must stay right next to you so that you may catch every act they are doing either right before they do it, or while they are in the act. This is helpful and I have been using it with great success. Keep in mind, you will have to keep your phone calls short and have to do some things at night or naps, rearranging your life for a while so that you can make this your highest priority.

I have a few small things I dislike in this book. One, there are typos. The English student in me is bothered by this. Plus, when I recommend the book, I feel that I have to apologize to the potential reader for the ghetto-ness of it. Secondly, she recommends swatting your child with your hand, which I try very hard not to do. We teach our children that hands are for hugs. I don’t want them to be afraid of my hands when I reach out to wipe something off their face or pull them in to hug them. Also, for me personally, I have found that it is too easy to lash out in anger when you use your hands. When you have to go find a spanker, it gives you a moment to calm down, so as not to discipline when you are mad. That never helps anyone and I actually recommend not spanking at all if you are going to do it in anger. Third, she recommends swatting on a covered, diapered bottom, to get their attention. I can see her rationale in this, however, I do not find it as effective as pulling down the pants or pulling up the pant legs and just putting a little sting on the skin. I am not talking about welts or bruises. Spank the inside of your arm first and you’ll know how hard you need to swat their sensitive skin. Hint: It’s not that hard at all. A little sting on the skin does more to help them remember to obey your words than a harder-than-necessary swat on a padded butt that they only feel because it moved them a few inches from where they were standing.

This is not necessarily a book on training your child’s heart to love and obey Jesus or to repent from their sin. It does have a little of that in there, but largely this is a book with intentions to teach a child, any child, to obey your voice. When you say, “No whining, no fits, no arguing, no hitting your sister, no throwing balls in the house, no poking people in the eye with your sword” (maybe that’s just me?!?!?!) you should be able to train to and expect an obedient end.

With those caveats, if you are a parent, read this book! (And it’s free here, so you have no excuses!)

Rating: A. Highly recommended! 

Title: Raising Godly Tomatoes: Loving Parenting With Only Occasional Trips to the Woodshed
Author: L. Elizabeth Krueger
Publication Info: L. Elizabeth Krueger 2007
Genre: Parenting

Buy on Amazon
Buy from her website
Read chapter by chapter free online 

Weekly Dish: Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna

We are in cold weather season (where the heat from dinner cooking in the oven is welcome), this makes a great winter meal. It is delicious. So delicious, I could eat plates and plates of it. And maybe I have…

Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna

12 whole wheat noodles or brown rice noodles (or 8- or 9-ounce package)*

Ricotta mixture:
15 oz. ricotta cheese
1 1/4 cups Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup minced fresh basil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon real salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

6 cups homemade tomato sauce:
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 onion, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
1 Tablespoon basil
1 Tablespoon oregano
dash of crushed red pepper

Mushroom/Spinach mixture:
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 pound assorted mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, minced
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed, thoroughly squeezed dry

1 pound whole-milk mozzarella, shredded (4 cups)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375.

Cook pasta in boiling water until just underdone, about 4-5 minutes. (You can also use no-boil noodles here if you are so inclined.)

Make the filling: Mix the ricotta, 1 cup of Parmesan, basil, egg, salt, pepper until well combined.

Make sauce: Heat oil in dutch oven. Saute onion in the oil until completely softened. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 10-30 seconds. Add crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes and spices and cook about 15 minutes.

Make mushroom/spinach mixture: Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet until shimmering. Add the mushrooms and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in 2 minced garlic gloves and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Off the heat, stir in the spinach and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spread 1/4 cup tomato sauce over bottom of 9×13 dish. Place 3 noodles on top of sauce and drop 3 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture down the center of each noodle, then spread out evenly. Sprinkle a third of the mushroom and spinach mixture over each layer of ricotta. Sprinkly evenly with 1 cup of the mozzarella. Spoon 1 1/2 cups of the sauce evenly over the cheese. Repeat layering two more times.

For the final layer, place the 3 remaining noodles on top. Spread the remaining sauce over the noodles. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella and then the remaining 1/4 cup parmesan. Spray a large sheet of foil lightly with olive oil spray and cover the lasagna. Bake for 15 minutes.

Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese is browned and the sauce is bubbling, about 25 minutes longer. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Variations: You can also make this as a simple cheese lasagna or with meat.

*If possible, find sprouted whole wheat or whole grain noodles.