What is the best beauty/fashion tip that someone gave you?
My grandparents owned and operated a haberdashery store for men back in the 1950’s. My mother watched and helped my grandmother tailor clothing. She learned types and qualities of fabrics and lines of clothing from my grandfather. My mother sewed for herself and for me. She taught me to sew in the 7thgrade alongside my home economics class. She was strict. There were rivers of tears while ripping out sloppy seams until I attained desired results. But the lessons took hold. I sewed mostly everything I wore from 9th grade through age 32. It was the economical way to have clothing on a limited budget.
What I most appreciated learning from my mother was PROPORTION. Bluntly, I am short. Always was. I learned that I needed to acquire clothing that suits my frame, which involved the lines of garments, where the eye is drawn, designs, colors and sizes of patterns in the fabrics, length of hems, sleeves…. My mother taught me the importance of properly fitting clothing, classics vs trends, workmanship and maintaining clothing by mending promptly, moving a button here or there, treating stains (peroxide is fabulously effective on underarm stains), polishing shoes, getting heels replaced, ironing and hanging up clothes (what’s wrong with the chair method?).
I’m not a lover of shopping. I tend to wear things for a long time. I shop the sales and my choices have to fit many criteria. On occasion, I have looked at a magazine only to realize that I had all the pieces in my closet but I learned a new way of combining my items. Voila! New outfit. I keep a close eye on my friends who have good taste.
What is the best advice that you’ve received about cooking?
I grew up in a home where my mother did all of the cooking. If I did help her, she allowed me to fetch things or stir and do dishes. I observed her cooking but never got “hands on” opportunities. When I got married I finally got to do the cooking. It was quite a challenge to do healthy, interesting meals on a very LOW graduate school budget. The biggest motivators were: 1) I love to eat, 2) no eating out allowed for in budget and 3)we enjoyed having people over to share meals. My best resource at the time (and I still use it) was the More-With-Less Cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre. Ms. Longacre compiled “suggestions by Mennonites on how to eat better and consume less of the world’s limited food resources.” Before it was trendy, this book had numerous, very tasty recipes for basic foods, grains, legumes and small portions of meat. I can’t praise it enough. It got us through graduate school(s) and humble beginnings in the pastorate.
We are now in a position after 38 years of marriage to afford a variety of foods. We still do not eat out often. I cook all the time and my husband says it is a step down to eat out. I really should pull out the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese sometime. Only thing is, I couldn’t stand to eat it. My biggest motivation is still that I love to eat. Why can’t we do “restaurant food” at home I say? I do not plan out a formal menu for the week or shop with a menu in mind.
As money allows, I try to keep a well-stocked pantry and go from there. I buy specials. I buy lots of produce and make sure I use it in a creative and timely way. I do not throw away food. I try to rotate meals: chicken, beef, pork, fish, pasta, meatless. I LOVE to shop at Aldi. Why pay more for flour or have to make a decision among 5 brands?
When making a meal, I may do a labor-intensive dish and keep the rest of the meal simple. I try to have leftovers for another meal, for lunches, or for giving away to neighbors/family. I try to follow my 7th grade home economics teacher’s advice of making sure there is interesting color, texture and flavors in every meal. This all sounds lofty but it is a short-term, creative project for me.
I’ve done the sewing clothes, painting pictures and rooms projects but I have absolutely no time for that now. Cooking is a therapeutic, fun time to use God’s beautiful works of color, flavors, and textures and engineers’ works (big people toys) of food processors, mixers, tools to whip up something interesting for my family and ME. Bon appétit! (It also keeps sons-in-law pretty happy.)
What has God taught you about friendship?
Friendships take work! It takes a friend to get friends. Deep, close friendships are the rare jewels in the treasure box, even more so as couples. Over the years, we’ve moved many times. I have found that the first friends are not always the lasting friends and sometimes the Lord hasn’t brought your closest friends to that town right away. You have to wait for them to get there.
I’ve also been very intimidated by “outwardly put together” women. Do not be afraid of looks. These “put together” women turned out to be my kindred spirits, and I love them dearly for who they are. They love me for who I am.
Admire what is good in each other. Friends inspire one another. Learn and share with each other. At some point in a growing friendship, that friend will disappoint you or you will realize his/her true self. If that friendship is worth pursuing, pray, forgive, and accept them even with weaknesses. Think about how Jesus sees us, how we disappoint him and how he loves us faithfully.
We’ve also lived in a town for a short time. The question people ask: should I make friends even though I am here a short time or they know they are moving on? YES
What if a friend is so needy? That’s tricky. There are times to minister to friends, for sure, and those times may be lengthy. I am not a counselor and I do not have answers to difficult situations, but I do know that I need some friends who are not complicated and it is a mutually give/take relationship.
People are drawn to a warm, welcoming, friendly spirit. God will bring all sorts of people into your lives. Will you, can you, be a friend to them?
What is the best advice that you’ve received about cleaning?
OK. This is the creation mandate: subdue the earth, aka my house. Again, I refer to my upbringing because my German heritage parents taught me the importance of diligent work, maintaining our belongings and keeping things neat/clean. I may not have done or do the actual work as my folks did it but I sure know what to do if I choose to do it. Hurray for tilt-down windows!
Seasons in life allow for various modes and quality of cleaning. Baby to pre-school days, I aimed for the bare minimum. When our children were old enough to help, they had to do chores as functioning, contributing citizens of our family. If anyone watched TV he/she had to fold the laundry. Dishes during commercials. Putting clothes away during phone calls. Oldest child mopped the kitchen floor, passing on the job to next sibling in line when she left for college. Our girls cleaned their own bathrooms. Keeping their rooms clean was a blurry, unsuccessful endeavor. However, social life began after the rooms were cleaned. Amazing results. My husband enlisted our girls to help with outside chores. He made sure they knew how to work the power tools and mow the lawn.
Now that we are alone in our big house with many bathrooms and floor area, it is hard work. There are no hands to make it dirty and cluttered, but there are also no hands to keep it clean. Did I mention the family visits often and leaves their stuff behind? Get a “Lost and Found Box.” I tell you right now it doesn’t all get done and I don’t have a housekeeper. I am the fairy! The biggest thing I do is to try to keep after things so I don’t get too overwhelmed.
Rooms might not be clean, but rooms can be de-cluttered. I am blessed with an abundance of closets, drawers, cupboards, basement and a garage. I enjoy organizing and figuring out efficient storage. It is time-consuming to return items to their homes, but necessary. Throw out!
I designate a day to do the bathrooms. Keep to it and then don’t worry about them if it is not that day. Keep cleaning tools/products in all bathrooms. It takes only five minutes to wipe down a toilet and sink. Acquire good tools and keep them handy and organized. Prevention: if there is potential for mess, plan for it with drop cloths, rags, aprons, and go outside to do the job if possible.
I like to get things tidy on Saturday so I can enjoy the Lord’s Sunday rest. And, as my husband would frequently tell me during teenage days, “You can have a clean house or you can have a relationship with your children.”