- PREPARE: Have large trash bags ready for charity and trash, boxes or plastic containers for off season or undecided items, label boxes. Also have a spiral notebook for making a list of what is needed to complete the job.
- BEGIN: Take everything out of the closet (you can sort quickly as you go for obvious discarded items like stained worn out t shirts or maternity clothes, but do not take the time to decide difficult items, move quickly).
- DIVIDE: Divide clothes and shoes into seasons (I use 2 categories: warm weather or cool weather)
- CLEAN: Clean closet well: dust, vacuum, wipe down shelves, But move quickly.
- CATEGORIZE: Go through the clothes in current season first, hang back in the closet – arranged by type then color (pants from white to black, shirts from sleeveless to turtleneck by color, etc), discarding obvious items for trash or charity into
- QUESTION: One category at a time, now go through and ask the hard questions: does it fit, do I love it, does it serve a purpose, does it go with other items (shoes, tops, etc), is it age appropriate, do I go places that allow me to wear this outfit? Still work as quickly as you can, placing undecided items on the bed, leaving only what you LOVE or use very often out of necessity in your closet.
- CHOOSE: After you have gone through each category, pulling out undecided items, see if there are obvious needs (like ‘I love this skirt but I never wear it because I don’t have a top or shoes that match’. Start making a list of what you need to complete those outfits. If you have room, place those misfit items at the back or side of the closet, out of the main view. At this stage I literally try clothes on to make sure they do in fact fit and enhance my appearance. (If I’m planning to loose weight, I choose a few very favorite pieces that are smaller and place them in a box or spare bedroom closet for one year, if I don’t loose the weight, I get rid of it, if I do, I pull those items out and place some of the larger ones in the spare closet
- LIST: Now look at what you have left and go back to the pile of undecided items on the bed, fine tune the selection only keeping what currently fits, is loved and/or is really necessary (for instance, if you don’t love your black blazer but you have to wear it to work tomorrow…keep it until you can replace it, add those items to your notebook list). Also add the list containers or tools needed to keep your closet organized (plastic boxes for folded sweaters, hooks or hangers for belts, etc).
- STORE: Now start the whole process with your off-season, if you have space place those clothes in a spare bedroom closet, by category, by color. If not, box them up and label them well (winter pants and sweaters, summer sandals, etc).
- GIVE: Place bags and boxes of clothes for charity in your car and take to Goodwill or Salvation Army the next time you can leave the house during their open hours. I keep them there in the trunk so that it’s harder to go back through them after I’ve decided to let them go.
- SHOP: Start the process of replacing the items you’ve discarded if they are really necessary. I like to live with less for a while and enjoy how freeing it feels to have fewer choices and less clutter before I start shopping. But for others the reward of getting to shop afterwards might help with motivation.
Hebrews 5:14 (NIV)
14 “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
Current political debate seems to hinge on how one defines what is good and what is evil. I hate politics. I hate arguing. I understand the need for debate but I seldom see it handled well. I watch in awe when I visit friends where the family members move in and out of discussions with disagreements and the relationships and emotional health of all seems to be just as strong as before. I’m sure my anxiety around this subject is related to how disagreements were handled in my family growing up. I wanted to handle conflict differently in my home. Model for our children a healthier way of discussing controversial subjects. We failed. Any attempts to discuss highly controversial subjects with our adult children seems to end in a few harsh statements or accusations and then complete avoidance of the subject for years…maybe forever.
More and more I have become silent when controversial subjects come up. I want to avoid the whole subject. I dread election years and simply hold my breath until they are over. But lately it seems there is always something stirring up controversy in such a way that I’m forced to admit an opinion. Or at least wrestle with the questions myself and try to come to some stance on the subject.
This morning I read the Book of Hebrews in one sitting. I like to do that from time to time so that I keep each verse in context and get the overall message. I’m always amazed how different verses catch my attention at different times in my life based on what I’ve been experiencing and thinking about. Today it was this verse.
I find I’m always internally asking ‘What is good or bad about any given situation.’ I don’t conscientiously want to be asking that question but I cannot seem to help myself. Sometimes in the shape of ’What is beautiful and what is ugly?’ Whether it be inside myself or in the environment around me. ‘What to feed and what to kill?’
I have another WordPress blog that is just about art. You can see more of my current and past work and the process of making art here at Creative Expressions by TJ.
This morning on page 14 of ’66 Love Letters’ by Dr. Larry Crabb, I read these words (it’s written as if God is speaking to us regarding the message of the book of Numbers): “You will experience terrible failure and crushing conflict on the road that leads to where I’m taking you, but it is the right road even when it feels like it’s killing you.
In My fourth love letter, I make clear that the road to life is rough. You will begin every new adventure in life with naive hope and excitement. Every wedding will begin with passion then move into problems. Every decorated nursery will receive a baby that will present unanticipated challenges. Every church plant, every new ministry, every small group that starts with happy hopes – everything you do, no matter how well organized and well intentioned – will run into trouble. If you are in touch with what I created you to enjoy, everything in this life will diappoint you, even the best spouse, the best kids, the best job, the best church, the best vacation.
And that disappointment will lead you to wonder if you’ve missed the right road, if perhaps there is a better, more satisfying, less bumpy road through your life. There isn’t, not one that leads to real joy. I wrote Numbers to tell you that. The road to life will expose you to terrible failure and crushing conflict. But only that road leads to the life you want, the life I give you.”
This was a good reminder for me as I enter the final days of preparation for my 50th Birthday trip to France. I have the hardest time letting go of the unknown and uncontrollable. I tend to go through life trying to prepare myself for every possible scenario. This trip is just a little window into how I deal with everything. ‘No matter how organized or well intentioned – will run into trouble’, I need to accept that and trust that this is part of being on ‘THE path to Life’, real life in a world that no longer functions as it should, with real people no longer loving as we were designed to love. But He is with me, He already knows what joys and sorrows and frustrations this trip will hold for me. My part is to find my balance between preparing and resting. I don’t need to be constantly paddling as if I’m going upstream nor do I want to drift with the current down over the waterfall.
A perfectly fine Spring morning ruined by words.
Over coffee, eggs and toast, words between us that push the other away.
I said, you are angry. More of an accusation than a question. I did ask a question earlier but that was also met with defensiveness.
It’s your tone, he said. It’s the self-righteous, I can’t believe you would do such a stupid thing tone. He said he would have responded differently if the words were more humbly from a place of I know you struggle with letting go, so do I.
He said, I said, attack, defend, avoid, blame. And the dance continues.
And then I opened my email to find Dr. Crabb’s Weekly Words:
“Once we see that words can have power, we must no longer be content with shallow words that mean little. We must set out to harness that power with a clear awareness that words can both tear down and build up.”
Encouragement, Page 22
Question for Reflection:
- How have you experienced the power of words in your life recently? Did they tear down or build up?
Prep: 20 mins
Cooking: About 5 mins
Other Total: About 25 mins
6 tblsp unsalted butter, cut into small dice
1 cup (8 fl oz) water
1 tsp salt
1 cup (5 oz) flour
In a saucepan, combine the butter, water and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often, and removed from the heat. Immediately pour in the flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth mixture. Put the pan back on gentle heat and continue to stir until there are no lumps and the mixture pulls away from the pan sides, 1 minute.
Remove from the heat and add the eggs, one at a time, making sure each egg is thoroughly mixed in before adding the next. Work the dough as little as possible after adding the first egg. The dough should be shiny and be stiff enough to hold a shape.
The dough is now ready to be used. It can be formed by spoonfuls or with a pastry bag fitted with a plain or decorative tip. The dough should be spooned or piped onto parchment-lined baking sheets or nonstick baking sheets. The dough may be stored in a plastic bag for 2 days in the refrigerator or for up to 2 months in the freezer.
Makes 1 lb of dough.
(To be used with Cheese Puffs recipe found here on this site.)
From the Williams-Sonoma Guide to Good Cooking c 1996. Published by Broderbund Software, Inc. & Weldon Owen, Inc.
Prep: 25 mins
Cooking: 15-20 mins
Other Total: About 45 mins
1 lb Puff Shell Pastry dough (recipe posted here on this site also)
1 cup (4 oz) shredded Emmenthaler or Gruyere cheese
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg freshly ground white pepper
Prepare the pastry dough. While it is still hot, vigorously beat in the cheese, nutmeg and pepper to taste with a rubber spatula.
Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F. Working in batches if necessary, spoon the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (one?) inch in diameter. Pipe small rounds about 1 1/2 inches in diameter onto a nonstick baking sheet at about 2-inch intervals. Alternatively, pipe the mixture into muffin-tin wells.
Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden, 15-20 minutes. If serving at room temperature, let cool on wire racks.
Serves 6. Makes about 30 puffs.
From the Williams-Sonoma Guide to Good Cooking c 1996. Published by Broderfund Software, Inc. & Weldon Owen, Inc.
“ I smiled when I saw the photo, thinking about you living life fearlessly (as you have written about) and taking risks, doing things that put you in harms way. Living life with the possibility of being hurt. These ripped jeans are testimony to me of that. I’m glad that you weren’t seriously injured, but I rejoice with you that you are able to do all the things you want to do and not give into a paralyzing fear that would keep you from them.”
This was written in the comment section of a photo I posted on facebook. A photo of my favorite jeans with a large rip in them just above the knee that was scraped when I slipped and fell while walking down a slightly declining wet ramp to board a mock pirate ship in Hakone Japan. Her first comment was “This is so awesome on so many levels.”
I was confused since it wasn’t awesome to look like a dork in front of so many people. I was actually more sad about the jeans first, then worried I’d be in pain for months to come (serious knee injury or just old lady back-out needing a chiropractor). It is that sort of fear that can lead to older people living a smaller and smaller life. Forgoing opportunities to see the world and connect with others along the way.
I’ve seen people do that, more women than men it seems. I don’t want to be that kind of woman. People who have known me for a long time think this adventure fits my personality. Some have always seen me as more brave than I am. Many think that because I’ve never met a stranger, talk easily and seem to make friends quickly that this has not been a very difficult transition.
Maybe it’s true that I was ‘born this way’, adventurous & brave. But the natural trajectory of (my) life since birth has been to pull into myself with each painful consequence of trying to live freely. The risks taken to live out my dreams were met by failure, disappointment and at times, excruciating pain, just like everyone else. I’ve been spared some trauma that others have had to face and I share in shameful secrets many will never admit to themselves, let alone talk about.
It has felt like war to keep pushing through the fear that would immobilize me. As I say this, I want to erase this whole post. The courage required to live my life pales in comparison to what so many women (and men) must deal with every day. This is clearly a “First World Problem”. But I’ll leave the post. It is real and we all must start where we are. Maybe I’ll be given the gift of more profound suffering.
I’m grateful to the people God has used to expose my fear that prompted the ugliest of un-loving interactions with others. I’m grateful for God’s kindness in giving me tastes of His goodness that calls me to trust Him and move into a world with many dangers, but none that can separate me from His love and His purposes. I want to look into the future with a smile, knowing that He will be with me no matter what dark valley I walk through and often times have a child or two of His to reach out and touch me at just the right time.
(Disclaimer: I haven’t made this yet but someone requested it. Turns out this recipe and the Corned Beef & Cabbage and Irish Soda Bread recipes I use, came from a Sunset Magazine back in 1994.)
The ingredients will be for a party of 12 first, will be in parenthesis following the comma for 25. The original had instructions for 50 but who is really going to serve 50?! And it looks to me like it’s just double the 25 amounts.
- Russet Potatoes……4 lb., (8 lb.)
- Cabbage, cut into find shreds…….1 lb, (2 lb.)
- Butter or margarine,…….. 1/2 cup (1/4 lb), (1 c. (1/2 lb))
- Milk…..1 1/4 cup, (2 1/2 c)
- Sliced green onions….1 cup, (2 c.)
- Salt and Pepper
To serve 12, you will need a 5-6 quart pan, for 25, an 8 quart pan. Peel potatoes; rinse. Submerge in water until all are peeled. Drain; cut into 2-inch pieces. Place potatoes in pan; cover with water. Bring to a boil, covered, over high heat (10-40 minutes). Reduce heat; simmer until tender when pierced, about 15 minutes.
If cooking for 25, remove pan from range so you can cook beef; let potatoes stand in water, covered. until near serving time, up to 4 hours. To reheat, return to boil, covered, over high heat (15-20 minutes).
Drain; mash, part at a time, in a heavy-duty mixer or by hand in a large bowl (I would use potato ricer for smaller amounts). As mashed, transfer to a very large bowl; cover.
Place cabbage and butter in pan used for potatoes. Cover; steam cabbage over medium-high heat until well wilted, (8-15 minutes), stirring often. Meanwhile, stir milk and onions often in a 3-4 quart pan over medium heat until simmering, 8-10 minutes. Stir milk mixture into potatoes until smooth; stir in cabbage. Season with salt and pepper.
(My note: I would add salt to the potato water)
My favorite time to sit and look out my window is as the sun is setting behind me. I don’t really get to see the sun set, but I see it’s affects as the angle changes. The bridge over the Bay here in Yokohama is white and it seems most of the larger boats (ships?) in the water are also white. So as the sun drops on the horizon behind me to the right, the white of these surfaces shines brightly but there is still enough light in the sky for the water to be a vivid blue. The other day I realized that on most days my floor to ceiling sliding glass door corner view is filled with my two favorite colors: blue and white.
I’ve tried to capture this beauty with a camera. Maybe a better camera or a better photographer can accomplish that. But I am always disappointed. I share my attempts on instagram or facebook and I always want to add ‘But it’s much better in person!’ And isn’t that true of most scenes. Our eyes are amazing. What we can see…even with imperfect vision is better than what we can re-create.
Another random thought as I look out at this amazing view is the old adage ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’ Not too many years back this scene would have depressed me. Oh I might have been able to ‘appreciate’ it when all lit up at night but my first few visits to big cities stirred some sort of deep fear or despair.
I’m sure I was influenced by how my mother and father both hated large cities; crowds, traffic, noise and life in the concrete jungle instead of the countryside or at least suburbia. I think I adopted the idea that living in small spaces with views of other buildings instead of rolling hills or farm land, was depressing. But after living here in Yokohama for just four months it’s been interesting to see how many people live the city life as if it’s just normal. In fact better than normal, preferred.
It’s very much a walking life. Yes there are crowded trains and stations, rushing from buses and taxi but there is something very good about walking in between those modes of transportation. Appreciating the changing seasons in parks and landscaped shopping centers.
A few years ago I heard a song that became a sort of anthem for me. ‘Add To The Beauty’ by Sara Groves. And I realized that in order for me to ADD to the beauty I must first notice the existing beauty around me. So here I am, in an overcrowded, concrete jungle, looking for beauty and finding it all around me.