Shining the light of God's word into our confused world.

Month: January 2015 (Page 2 of 2)

In which Jean gets ranty about socks and other not-so-critical things.

I need to rant about a couple of things for a minute. Rant the first:, women’s socks. I’ve been in need of a few pairs of thick, warm socks for a while now, and with this Arctic blast heading our way, we swung by Target after our weekly sojourn to Sprouts to see what they had. This is the second time I’ve tried to find decent warm ladies’ socks at Target–last week we checked the nearest Super Target, where I came up empty. Why is this so hard? They’re socks, for crying out loud. They have one basic job: keep your feet warm. But in the women’s department, all of the socks I could find were more concerned with being cute than warm. I ended up having to go to the men’s department to find a good pair of thick, warm boot socks that weren’t made out of fuzzy acrylic and covered in polka dots. Not that I have anything against polka dots, but that fuzzy stuff isn’t nearly as warm as it looks, and I found it kind of insulting that Target (or at least their sock vendors) seem to think women only care about fashion and not about, y’know, warm feet.

At any rate, now I finally have some good socks keeping my toes warm, even if they are made for big man feet (fortunately (I guess?) I have big woman feet, so they’re not too terribly big for me).

Rant the second: Carrots, man. Why is it so hard just to buy a couple of carrots when you need one or two for a recipe? Why does every store want you to buy a huge bag that’ll feed a family of ten? I want to make a pot of chicken soup and I don’t need twenty carrots to go in there. I also don’t like carrots well enough to have to eat two dozen of them. Seriously, I was really getting frustrated trying to shop for carrots today (and yes, I do realize that this is a first world problem). But I went to three different stores and by the end I was really feeling discriminated against for only being part of a couple and not having an entire family to feed (I’m sure it’s even worse for single people). Remember when they used to sell them in bunches and by weight and you could just take what you needed? Sprouts had bunches instead of bags, but even they priced them by the bunch instead of by weight, and the bunches were still way more than I wanted. Shopping for the right amount of carrots should not be so difficult, people.


At any rate, we’re weathering the cold weather okay. I also picked up another pair of fleece leggings at Target, and between that and my long johns (and my PJs and ear warmers and wrist warmers and heating pad and heavy blankets and a warm doggie in my lap and plenty of hot tea), I’m staying toasty enough.

So far this week I’ve done a good job of following my adaptation of Ma’s weekly chore rhyme, although the true test will come tomorrow when it’s time to do some house cleaning. I have recently come to terms with the fact that I am not a homemaker; homemaking is a full-time job, and as long as I have to freelance in addition to writing books to help pay the bills, that’s just not a reasonable thing to expect of myself, so I’ve got to let go of the idea of having a perfectly spotless and decorated house (and the guilt associated with never accomplishing it). So if we can both just rein in the clutter and do what we can to make it feel clean, I think we’re good to go.

Monday was the official start of my business and writing new year, and so far it’s been a pretty productive week. I’ve added about a thousand words to Ghost of a Chance, which is less than I hoped for; yesterday’s and today’s errands kept me from my morning writing sessions, although I’m hoping to fit in 500 more words later today. I outlined my self-publishing guide, and I’m hoping to start writing on that later today, too. It should go fairly quickly once I get going, since it’s all stuff I know and shouldn’t require too much research or mental gymnastics. I also have a new ghost-blogging client, which promises to be a weekly gig if they like my first post well enough (this post is serving to warm up the gears for that).

…that’s actually a lot of writing to get done in one afternoon. I guess I should stop blogging and get started.

What about you guys? Are you staying warm? Is your first full week of 2015 as productive as you’d hoped it would be? Tell me about it in the comments!

The Power of Cliches: Life Lessons from Little House

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Not long ago, as the weather turned cold and we started looking forward to the holiday season, my husband and I both started reading the Little House book series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I had found an almost complete set at the used book store, and it seemed like just the sort of thing to put is in the mood for winter and Christmas.

Of course, like most GenXers, I grew up with the Little House on the Prairie TV series, so I thought I knew what to expect. I also thought I had read these books already when I was about 10 years old or so, although it turns out I had only read the titular book, not the entire series. At any rate, I didn’t expect to develop such a strong fascination for the Ingalls family and their way of life, or to become a Laura Wilder fangirl.

I also didn’t expect to get so much from these books that I can apply to my own life. Not just the detailed instructions for things like making cheese and sour dough bread and baked beans and building a log cabin (not that I’m likely to ever need that particular bit of knowledge… but you never know), but also attitudes and philosophies about life.

It seems that Charles and Caroline Ingalls (a.k.a. Pa and Ma) put a lot of stock in sayings that we think of as cliche. But sometimes the reason things get repeated to the point of becoming cliche is because they’re true. The Ingallses met with a lot of hardship and adversity in their quest to carve out a living from the land, and their ability to remain positive and keep their optimism in the face of catastrophe was breathtaking.

Here are a few of the sayings of which they were most fond, that did so much to carry them through hard times.

Wash on Monday . . .

This isn’t so much a saying meant to cope with hard times, but this little rhyme definitely helped Ma with her considerable amount of housework and chores:

Wash on Monday
Iron on Tuesday
Mend on Wednesday
Churn on Thursday
Clean on Friday
Bake on Saturday
Rest on Sunday

Other versions of this rhyme say “Market on Thursday,” but being that the Ingalls family usually lived quite a distance from town and raised their own food, Ma’s modification was more fitting.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought about how to adapt this rhyme to modern life and my own household needs, which don’t actually include having to make my own dairy products. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Vacuum on Monday
Laundry on Tuesday
Sprouts Market on Wednesday
Aldi on Thursday
Clean on Friday
Big projects/yard work on Saturday
Rest on Sunday

So far, so good. I vacuumed (and swept) the floors yesterday, and today I’m getting the laundry done. Wednesday’s and Thursday’s shopping trips are already part of our routine, so we’ll just have to see if I manage to fit in cleaning on Friday and muster up enough energy to tackle one of my big organizing projects on Saturday. I guess I’ll keep you posted.

All’s Well that Ends Well

Pa was fond of saying this after narrowly surviving disaster or narrowly avoiding getting his family killed. It seems at times like a way of brushing off boneheaded decisions, but really, it’s not a bad attitude to adopt. You can’t change the past and you can’t take back bad choices; and if things work out in spite of your mistakes, then there’s no point in dwelling on what you could have done differently. Just give thanks that nobody got (seriously) hurt and move on (and try to be more careful in the future).

There’s No Big Loss without Some Small Gain

This was one of Ma’s favorite sayings, a more modern equivalent of which might be “look for the silver lining.” Ma trotted out this chestnut in the face of some pretty major disasters — such as when blackbirds ate their entire crop of corn, but Pa managed to kill enough of the blackbirds to provide meat for days — as a means of staying focused on the positive. This is definitely a trait I could do well to emulate in my own life.

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

If you think about it, the pioneers never would have made it in the West without a tenacious streak a mile wide, and Pa exemplified this trait. This is something I used to believe wholeheartedly when I was younger, but since I’ve gotten older I’ve grown a lot more cautious and more likely to let obstacles dissuade me from pursuing my goals. Pa and the rest of the Ingalls family have reminded me how far hard work and determination can go toward achieving the life you want. You just have to be willing to do what’s necessary, and to not let fear hold you back — two things I’ll be doing my best to remember as I chase after my writing and publishing goals this year.

What about you guys? Do you have any favorite cliches that you’ve found to be true? Have you read the Little House books (and aren’t they great)? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

5 Ways to Bust Seasonal Depression

5 ways to bust seasonal depressionThis is another re-post from my homemaking blog, A Sensible Wife, which is now on permanent hiatus. This was one of my more popular posts there, and now that the holidays are done and we’re deep in the throes of winter, it seems an appropos time to update it here–although, somewhat ironically, today is the first sunny day we’ve had in weeks. Also one of the coldest, though, so I probably won’t be stepping out to soak up the rays.

Confession: as I write this intro, the weather outside is sunny and 55 degrees, and I’m about as chipper as it gets. When I started this post, though, we were in the midst of some seriously cold and dreary weather, and my seasonal depression was working hard to make a comeback.

 Normally, January is my worst month of the year (August is a close second, but for different reasons). There are no more holidays to distract me, and everything is dark and cold, and all I want to do is alternate between sleeping and stuffing my face with comfort food all day long. It’s usually really hard to drag myself out of bed in the morning, and nearly impossible to focus and actually be useful and productive. I think it’s safe to say that I tend to get a bad case of Seasonal Affective Disorder around this time of year.

This year, I’m pulling out all the stops to combat it (of course, the spring-like weather we’ve been having the last couple of days sure don’t hurt).  Here is a list of the things that have worked for me over the years, keeping in mind that I’m neither a doctor nor any kind of health expert. There isn’t really anything ground-breaking here, but if this post helps just one person pull themselves through the rest of winter, then it’s worth writing.

Get Some Light

Of course there’s no real substitute for the real thing, so whenever possible, spend some time outside in the sunshine, or spend 30 minutes sitting by a sunny window. For days when that’s not possible, you can use a therapeutic lamp with a 10,000 Lux setting to mimic daylight. The NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp fits the bill, and also releases negative ions, which studies have shown to have an antidepressant effect. If you don’t have the funds to spend on a fancy lamp, a friend of mine has had good results from simply swapping out his light bulbs with full-spectrum and daylight bulbs.

 Eat Healthy

If you’re like me, when you’re in the throes of SAD, you want ALL THE CARBS served up with a big side of fat. But as comforting as that big bowl of mac’ and cheese might be in the moment, it’s not really helping you feel better. A healthy diet of lean proteins, low-glycemic fruits and veggies and a reasonable amount of healthy fats (like olive oil, avocados and nuts) will do a lot more to boost your mood and energy levels — not to mention your overall health.

 Take Your Vitamins

Of course it’s important to get all of your vitamins and nutrients year-round, but in the winter it’s especially important to help keep up your energy. Taking extra vitamin D to make up for what you’re not getting from the sun has been shown to be helpful in alleviating seasonal depression. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, particularly EPA and DHA, have also been proven to help achieve emotional balance, according to Although you might need to take supplements to get high enough doses of both vitamin D and fish oil, you can also get both by eating tuna — which gives you a great excuse to have tuna melts for lunch (mmm, carbs and melty cheese). I recommend high-grade, purified fish oil if you take supplements; it can be a bit pricy, but at least you won’t have to worry about mercury poisoning. You can check the purity and safety of different fish oil brands at the International Fish Oil Standards Program.

 Get Enough Sleep

While some doctors and therapists will tell you that you should force your circadian rhythms into submission by forcing yourself to stick to a rigid sleep/wake cycle, that just has never worked for me. Over the years I’ve found that things go a lot better if I listen to my body when it cries out for sleep. So get to bed early when you can, but go ahead and sleep in once in a while if you need to, or make time for an afternoon nap. If you need help (I have a hard time getting my brain to hush up long enough to let me fall asleep no matter how tired I am), try drinking some Sleepytime tea or taking a supplement like Valerian or melatonin about an hour before bedtime.

 Get Moving

Exercise is always helpful in fighting off mild depression. Any chance you have to do it outside on a sunny day, so much the better (although if you’re like me, any kind of workout in freezing cold temperatures gets a big NOPE!). Besides being a great mood lifter by getting all those endorphins kicking around, regular exercise has also been shown to improve focus and aid in sleep (as long as it’s not done too late in the day) — both of which tend to be problems related to SAD.

 Of course, this is always the hardest part for me (well, that and the eating healthy part). As much as I KNOW exercise will help me feel better, some days it just feels impossible to put down the cocoa,  get myself off of the couch and out from under my big pile of afghans and pets and make myself move.  But on the days when I manage to do that, I’m always glad I did, because it really does help me feel better.

Do you struggle with seasonal depression, or just plain old winter blahs? How do you deal? Share your SAD-busting secrets in the comments!

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