Thursday, 27 October 2011

Lies They Tell Us Part III: I need [insert coveted item here] so I can be more hospitable.

 My post isn't a long one today and to be honest it isn't about a lie someone else tells us.  It's a lie I've told myself.  Six years ago, living in our little town house I used to dream of our big farmhouse in the country where we could entertain and welcome friends and family into our home.
  We have spent the last 5 years renovating that big farmhouse in the country and it continues to be a work in progress.  A few weeks ago I caught myself thinking, "If we could build onto the house and have a bigger laundry room and then when we have people over...."  And then I thought about how many times I had coveted a nicer dishwasher, a bigger dining space, a new couch, a bigger pantry, a nicer floor...and justified such thoughts with the idea that with such things, I could show better hospitality.  Hospitality is biblical right?
  Sure...but what about always coveting nicer and better and bigger, and justifying it by telling myself that I could be so much more hospitable if I had these things?
  Is it wrong to upgrade your couch if it's ratty, or make a bigger laundry room?  Is it wrong to enjoy a "perfect home"? Absolutely not, but be honest with yourself about your motives.  Hospitality is not about impressing people with the size of your kitchen, or the colour of your walls.  Hospitality is about showing Christ's love and mercy to those around us.
  If you want a prettier light fixture, fine...but be honest with really just want a prettier light fixture.


Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Lies They Tell You Part II : "Exercise is Good for You."

You see them everywhere: running down Main Street, bobbing up and down in the pool, starting their cars in the early morning to go to the gym before work. They are believing the lie they're told every day by friends, family, media, and culture: that exercise is good for you.

I mean, any way you look at it, it's just not logical. Take running, for instance. Before people started to run because of a lie, why and when did people run? They either ran because they needed to catch something or because someone was trying to catch them. Either way, it was a stress-riddled pursuit (no pun intended) and only done when absolutely necessary. It was never meant to be a hobby, as it has now been turned into. I don't understand why people would want to spend their lives pretending that someone's chasing them, unless they have a persecution complex.

Another concern is that exercise is expensive. It is common knowledge that anything that wallet thinning just can't be good for you. Because you can't go to the gym in a pair of ratty cut-offs and an old t-shirt, you have to have trim, matching sportswear, a snazzy visor, Nike sneakers and not to mention loads of ankle socks. And, then of course some sort of device to listen to music while exerting yourself (we won't even mention the gym membership). Too bad your pretty outfit is rather marred by a red, sweating face as you go through your tortuous routine.

Which brings me to my next point. Do you know what sweat is? It's a salty liquid that, in moments of extreme exertion, comes out through your pores. How can that possibly be healthy?

Another little sign: You know the day after you do fifty push-ups...that feeling? I think you could call it feeling sore. It's your muscles screaming to you, "For heaven's sake! Enough, enough already!"

See? When you think of it logically, exercise just can't be good for you. Don't believe this troublesome lie and have true freedom from guilt.

Add some whole wheat flour to the pie pastry, vaccuum through your house once a week, wash the windows vigorously, and throw your visor in the garbage can. You'll live a happier life, I promise you.

- Millie

Note: The author of this post does not consider walking to be exercise and therefore indulges in the activity a few times a week. Also, the beliefs expressed in this post are not necessarily endorsed by all other contributing members of this blog. Please pray for Abigail. I hear she's been jogging...

Monday, 24 October 2011

Lies They Tell You

It has occurred to us here at Burnt Suppers, that there are certain lies we each are susceptible to swallowing. It’s different for each one of us – a concept that is widely accepted, and hits us where we are at. But thankfully, our obsession with analysis comes in handy now and then, and we are able to identify the lies we are told and believe. This week we are each going to share one with you and perhaps help you to overcome the certain lies in your own life.

It’s fair to warn you before hand, that some will be more serious than others…but I’ll let you decide which are which.


Lies They Tell You Part 1

 …That crafting/sewing/re-purposing is thrifty.

This is an overwhelming topic to me, as it is false on so many levels.

First: Crafting, sewing and beautifying projects are often unnecessary. I personally think loveliness in the home is important, but with zeal born of frugality-loving, we often go overboard with purely decorative things. I agree that the pillow made out of old ties is fascinating – but do you really want to add it to all the others already piled on the couch?

Second: No matter how hard you try to only use things you have – old shirts, old glue, leftover beads, you inevitably have to buy something else to complete the project. And let’s be honest here. Does a run to the Dollarama ever stay limited to one item? What about the fabric store?! And *cough cough*, Mardens anyone? These dens of crazy-eyed spending are going to suck you in and you are practically predestined to stagger out with oodles of surplus supplies. Let’s admit it. This is just gonna happen.

Third: Any time you enter into that crafting/sewing phase…that hazed, filmy eyed zone you have to get into, some other things are bound to slide. And that frequently costs money. Didn’t have a chance to make supper? Going out to eat is pricey. Forgot to pay the phone bill? That little rap on the knuckles they give you is disgruntling. Looking at your husband and not recognizing him? Divorce settlements are so distressing.

Just kidding!

Fourth: If time is money, I reason that space is money too. And it’s a realistic reality that a lot of projects require collecting stuff over time, before you can complete it. Popsicle sticks, toilet paper tubes, juice can lids, fabric fat quarters of a certain colour. I know this. I’ve been here.

Wait, who am I fooling?

 I AM here.

And all these collected items, stowed cozily away in totes, baskets, boxes and behind doors, take up space. And this space is worth money when translated into mental health, sore toes from endless stubbing, and general sanity.

To illustrate some of these points, I’m going to point to an instance in my life, where I realized with clarity, just how much of a lie this lie is.

Here is an apron.

It started as a thrifty project when I bought a sheet at Value Village. But here is a breakdown of the eventual cost.

Sheet: $3.00
Coordinating fabric: $6.95 per yard.
Rick-rack: $2.97
New sewing machine (because the old one choked on a straight pin): I draw a veil over that price.
Time: At $10 an hour – about $30 in total. Plus, if I’m sewing I am not doing anything else that I might be getting paid for – so that results in a loss of $30 or more.

So essentially – this apron cost me $872.92.

And I’ll probably wear it once every couple months.

Oh yeah. Soo thrifty.


Friday, 21 October 2011

Potluck Politics

It's inevitable. Sooner or later, if you contribute to any sort of organization or social community, you will have to attend a potluck dinner. Some look forward to such occasions as an opportunity for free food. Others dread the ordeal more than running the gauntlet. But the fact remains, if you don't want to sell your possessions, kiss your family goodbye and go live in the middle of the deepest, darkest forest you will have to participate in a potluck. Don't be downcast. You CAN survive, and even learn to enjoy them. In the interests of such an event, I have brought together some rules for you to follow. These will help you maneuver, survive and enjoy the potluck experience.


-If it has a strong, un-foodlike odor. You know the kind I mean. Think burnt rubber, ammonia, etc.
-If you are unable to identify ANY type of food in the dish. If at all possible, avoid the dreaded casserole in which everything is merely a brownish, bubbling mass. Look closely at its surface. If you identify a piece of carrot or celery, you're probably OK. Otherwise, put down the serving spoon as unassumingly as possible and move on.
-If you see large amounts of it left untouched on other people's plates. This is one of the advantages of not being the first to go through the line. You can rest on others' experiences. If your fellow church members, friends, co-workers, etc. are especially nice, they may give you hints on what to avoid. Keep a lookout for the person who, before running to the bathroom, whispers in your ear, 'Don't eat the casserole in the blue dish, second from left.' Take his or her warning, poor thing. It's probably in earnest.
-If you know it was brought by the local half-unhinged hillbilly who has squirrel tails nailed on his cabin door. Yeah. Self-explanatory.
-If you can see fingerprints on it. In other words, avoid devilled eggs and squished sandwiches.


-Do not just take a pound of butter if you happen to be a family of nine. If you are a person who does this, please STOP! You are a great source of torture to children everywhere whose Mothers obsess about the amount of food on the table. If there's not enough, they will be given the dreaded acronym: FHB. Meaning, of course, Family Hold Back. So, don't bring a pound of butter. Bring a side of beef, instead.
-Do not vigorously wash dishes throughout the entire meal with the air of a martyr. Chances are, no one wants you to do the dishes. Everyone else will feel guilty that you're in the kitchen washing dishes and they're out there trying to have a good time. Just come out and talk with a few people. They probably won't bite.
-Do not be the first to go through the buffet if you are a fast eater. You'll end up with an empty plate before everyone else is half done. You'll spend the rest of your time looking at people eat, a sickening pursuit and not very good for your mental health if they eat in a gross manner.
-Do not examine the food as if you suspect it to be full of arsenic. If the food actually does look questionable, feel free to pass it by. But, if it's perfectly good and you're just generally suspicious or hate mushrooms, then you must try to conquer such paranoia.
Most people aren't out to get you. And mushrooms don't taste as bad as you might think. Just. Eat. It.
-Do not, after having seen your child take another cookie from the plate and lick it, tell him to put it back. If necessary, wrestle the cookie from the child's hand and eat it yourself. Germophobes will thank you. And, just as a good rule of thumb, don't trust your children alone beside a dessert table. Not until they're at least 18.


-Do NOT say, 'Well, that was gross,' as you push away your plate. The cook may be lurking near by.
-Do not say, 'Who made this?' Unless you're prepared to say it was good. Never ever ever, ask who made it if it was bad, except if you enjoy lying. In which case, you have some problems.
-Do not say, 'Well, I was cleaning out the fridge and just threw it all together.' On second thought, don't DO that either. That's just gross.
-Do not say, 'Did you like what I brought?' This just puts people in an awkward position if they hated what you brought. Or worse, if they didn't dare to eat it. That's called tempting them to sin. For, only the bravest or most foolhardy person in the world would tell a cook her food was rotten, even if it was.
-Do not say, 'The kids were puking all yesterday. I barely had time to pull these devilled eggs together. Hope you don't catch the bug.' Don't feel offended if the person you were talking to abruptly leaves the table and heads for the bathroom.

I've often thought that one could become an experienced psychologist by just studying human behaviour at potlucks. I'm sure love languages and birth order factor in there somewhere. I myself have identified five types of people who surface at a potluck. I call them...


-Picky Patricia: This lovely lady seems to subsist on crackers and cheese alone for fear that her minions of hated foods lurk in every dish. Things like red peppers, celery, tuna and even olives.
-Snobby Bobby: A close cousin of Patricia's (you always find them sitting together), Bobby only eats food she herself brings. I don't know whether she has some sort of paranoia, or whether she thinks her cooking is more sanctified than everyone else's. Both of these ladies need major 'get over youself' therapy.
-Gluttonous Greg: This guy is a well-known potluck personality. Going far beyond just the good 'knife and fork', this man shows an exorbitant appetite. He's the one going back for seconds before some people have gotten their first helping. He's also the one still eating at the end of the meal like there's no tomorrow, while everyone else is cleaning up. Poor Greg does not mean harm, but a few hints might be in order.
-Wasteful Wendell: Making the penny-pincher's heart ache, this person loads his plate up with more than anyone could ever eat in one sitting (with the exception of Gluttonous Greg). And, he only eats about half of it! I have seen many an agonized look in the eyes of fastidious cooks as their precious creations are scraped into the garbage. The dirty looks that poor Wendell undergoes can't be topped. If only he knew...
-Kind Kathy: My brother and I both admit to being a 'Kind Kathy'. She is usually one of the last people to get some food and she keeps a close eye out for the dishes that have hardly been touched. Then, she takes a large, virtuous helping. She does this because she feels sorry for the cook. There is nothing worse than having to take home an untouched dish that declares you to be a failure. A 'Kind Kathy' is every bad cook's dream. And, sometimes Kathy gets a pleasant surprise. For, the dishes most unappetizing in how they look, are often the most delicious. Beauty is skin deep. But good taste lasts all the way to the bottom of the crock-pot.

I hope that this quick and easy guide to potlucks has helped you. I trust that, next potluck, you will be more mindful of what not to do, say and eat, as well as how to deal and identify with the five potluck personalities. It's really not as hard as it looks! Be strong and be sure that it really is possible to thrive and survive in the potluck world!


Monday, 17 October 2011

The Monday Blues

There is nothing like this food...

eaten with this person...

while looking at this view...

and working on this story... fix any case of the Monday blues.


Thursday, 13 October 2011

Necessity...the mother of new recipes?

I'm sure that's how it goes, right?  Have you ever accepted an invitation to dinner with a "Sure! What can I bring?" while your mind is thinking, " you HAVE anything to bring?"  I have...dozens of times and it generally all works out fine.

Here is the result of one of those moments... Pumpkin loaf, turned into Pumpkin Cake...with a little pizzazz on top. =)

What recipes have you re-invented?

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The Puree Cycle

The time has come. The time is now. Fall colours are at their peak, scarves and sweaters are being pulled out, everyone is sick of turkey and cranberry sauce….

Yes, the time has come to dig down deep in the freezer and pull out your frozen pumpkin puree from last October.

I swear I do it every year. With intentions good, I chop and mash a huge pumpkin and bundle it off into the deep freeze. You know – to make pies all winter long. I never appear to remember that no one in his or her right mind, makes pumpkin pie after Christmas (possibly not even after Thanksgiving). Thus my puree sits. One big block of wasted space.

And not to accuse or generalize, but I suspect there are more people out there who do this too. It’s all right to confess…I understand. We should have a support group.

I don’t usually have any qualms about chucking last year’s stuff before I start on a new batch, but this Fall I decided to rebel against my own worst failing. I was going to use all my puree up – and I wasn’t getting another pumpkin until it was gone.

So last week I took my defrosted puree to task and made…




                         and cake.

There. I think I might have this cycle of puree waste licked.

And that small container of orange stuff I found the next day, under a pork roast in the freezer? I firmly deny its existence.


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

When I Grow Up...

I wanna be this lady.

Photo courtesy of Pioneer Woman Photography Contest

Just look at her and admit admiration. She inspires me to grow old the way she has.

When I’m her age I don’t want to be afraid of doughnuts either.

I hope I’ll have never said – "Just a teeny piece of cake for me." I hope I won’t be afraid of my gray hair and its old lady curls. I hope I’ll have more laugh lines than you can count and use them every day…ever other second.

I hope I’ll wear a purple stripe shirt too, and high heels. Unless I have bunions. And then I’ll order my orthopedic shoes in pink and walk in confidence.

Yes indeedy – this picture should be me…

And off to one side there’s a man sitting and smiling at me. You and I can’t see him from where we are, but I think he probably has skinny old man legs and a plump middle (that you can bet I haven’t grown tired of hugging!)

Maybe he’s waiting to take a treat home to our grandbabies – the only kind of multiplication I’ve learned to love. I hope our house is full of chatter and crayoned drawings. I hope our floors are never clean for long, and that I don’t ever get tired of hearing an infant cry…seeing their first steps…

Is it too much to believe that it’s all possible?

What if, in reality, we’re left short at the end of life, tired and worn from living? What if jubilance isn’t possible when your body begins to break down?

But do sunsets grow less glorious? Does spring ever stop surprising us each year? Do kisses grow less sweet? Do God’s graces ever run dry? Ever?

That’s why I’m going to be this lady someday. His mercies are new every morning and even with arthritis, wrinkles and saggy skin, I’ll be fountain of His Grace.

And I’ll be able to love doughnuts to the very end.