Monday, September 27, 2010

House Cleaning Schedule

*New* Print a condensed copy of this housekeeping schedule for your fridge or home-maintenance binder. 

Good house keeping starts with a good cleaning schedule, and there’s nothing like walking into a house that smells as good as it looks. When floors are washed, beds are made and dishes are put away, the family gains a sense of comfort in knowing that their surroundings are under control. Being clean and organized saves you both time and money. When all things are put in proper order you don’t have to spend minutes or hours looking for lost items. And when supplies are carefully organized, you can easily find them instead of replenishing stock. That's where a schedule like this comes in handy!

This schedule focuses on house cleaning. It does not cover meal planning, bill payment or personal hygiene. It is designed to get your house in tip-top shape each week and keep it looking that way.

Tackle one area of your house/day, and before you know it you’ll have it sparkling clean from top to bottom! If you’re starting from scratch, then the first week or two will take up much of your time, because there may be areas that you haven’t been cleaning on regular basis. But once you get a good deep cleaning done, up-keep will be a breeze!

My sister Betty always says, when the dishes and laundry are done a woman is happy, but that happiness dissipates quickly if we don’t make a daily effort to keep up those areas. Dishes and laundry are constantly in use, and therefore we must constantly be on top of those kinds of jobs.

This “Daily Upkeep” section of the schedule covers the cleaning that you’ll need to tend to each and every day.

Make the Beds

It only takes five minutes to make a bed. Five minutes goes a long way to making your family appreciate you. If your children are old enough, ensure that they make their own beds before school. Caring for the house is a great habit for all kids to get into.


Depending on the size of your family, you may need to schedule anywhere from one to four loads of laundry/day. Start with two loads each day (Monday-Friday) and decide if you need to increase that number or not.

While the water is running in the machine, wet a light-colored rag and wipe down the washer and dryer if necessary (keep a few on hand in that room). Throw the rag into the load.

Set a timer so you don’t forget to put the second load in. The timer is also necessary for clothes that are drying. Whether they are in an electric dryer or hanging on the line, we want to fold them as soon as possible to prevent wrinkles. And besides that—fresh laundry smells incredible!

Once they are folded, put everything away. Piles of laundry littering the couch only takes away from the hard work you have done.

About line drying: I had a clothes line in my last house that ran from the back door to the back lane. I loved using it in the summer time--felt like I stepped back into the '60s! Since moving to this house a few years back, we haven't put up a clothes line yet. However, I do try to dry sheets and towels and blankets on my deck railing when the weather is nice. It's not the best alternative, but it satisfies my craving for the outdoor smell.

Here are just a few reasons that line-drying is good:
  • We save money on hydro
  • The sun kills germs and therefore the clothes smell so much better
  • Dryers are more apt to shrink your clothing
  • The sun doesn't cause static cling
  • Hanging clothes is good 0ld-fashioned exercise
While I was in Jamaica I noticed that nearly every house had a clothes line. So when I mentioned it to our tourist guide, she told me that her doctor recommended line drying for good health. Makes sense since the sun offers vitamins and kills germs.

If you don't like the crunchy feeling that you get from hanging up towels and jeans, dry them 3/4 of the time on the line, and finish the load in the dryer.

Vinegar in the wash is also a great way to kill odors--even odors as foul as cigarette smoke. Don't worry about your clothes coming out smelling like pickles, the vinegar smell also washes away in the water and gives the clothes a good cleaning.

Wash Your Dishes

Empty your dishwasher every night, or put your hand washed dishes away. This clears space up for the next day’s activities. Keep on top of dishes that don’t fit into the dishwasher and wash them as soon as each one is emptied. Pots, pans, plastic bowls and juice jugs can clutter a sink, and a cluttered sink takes the charm away from any dining experience.

Find a liquid soap with an aroma that’s pleasing. It will make your dishwashing experience a more pleasurable one and your hands will smell great.

Every time you wash the dishes, also take a moment to sweep the kitchen floor.

10-Minute Tidy

In addition to your daily duties, which I will outline below, set your timer for 10 minutes three times/day and tidy things up. You’ll be surprised at how much you can achieve in only 10 minutes time. I like to do this after breakfast, lunch and supper. This step is in addition to laundry, dishes, and shedding your junk, which we’ll get to next.

Shed Your Junk

Again set your timer, but this time it’s only for 10 minutes/day. Tackle any cluttered area that you desire and discard junk. Have one box for “giveaways,” and another for “throwaways.”

(Also see my article "Toss out 25 Things")

While you’re purging, keep this rule in mind: if it isn’t pretty, useful, or sentimental, get it out of the house. As for clothing, if you haven't worn it in the past year, you likely won't wear it again. If you're hanging on to clothing "just in case" you might decide to wear it, chances are you won't. The longer it sits in your closet the less likely you are to ever put it on. Pack it up and give it to someone who will cherish it as much as you did the day you brought it home. Besides--how much clothing do we really need?

Lighten your load by giving away items that you don’t necessarily need. Want—perhaps, but need—no. Having less stuff makes cleaning and organization easier and there’s far less dusting to do!

Incorporate Routines to Your Schedule

Everyone's schedule is different and therefore one routine does not fit all. Choose daily routines that work for you and your family. It could be as simple as listing three cleaning chores for the morning and three more for days end. Don't overwhelm yourself with enthusiasm or you might tire out. Handle some tasks today, and others tomorrow--it will all get done in time.

Start a Journal

It may be helpful to start a home maintenance journal where you can record your routine, keep track of this schedule, grocery lists, plan menus and keep track of important "to-dos." A small three ring binder about the size of a Daytimer works well since the pages are removable. Target carries the cutest little notebooks, and of course I have a few on hand. You can't insert pages, but if you're creative you can always glue a little pocket onto the inside front cover to store coupons and grocery lists. Brown paper kraft paper is the perfect weight for book pockets. Cut out a square, fold the edges under on three sides (about 1/3 inch), apply glue for the three edges and fasten to the inside cover.

Don't Get Sidetracked

One of the best things I've ever purchased was a telephone headset. Mine broke about a year ago, but it's back on the top of my Christmas list for 2010 [update: I got it!]. Phone calls can be so disruptive when you have dishes to wash, and unless you're as talented as my friend Sandra, it's difficult to be juggling both. A hands-free headset is well worth the money if you find that telephone calls are tying you down. I roam the house with mine.

The computer is also a huge distraction for women today. Used to be that soap operas distracted women, but as least they were still able to turn up the volume and move freely through the house to get their cleaning done. Not so with computers. Facebook, Twitter, and Blogger are all things that draw my attention away from my home. I need to be cautious that I'm not too sidetracked when there is house work to be done. Sitting in front of a monitor will not result in a clean house, ladies.


Clean the bathroom/bathrooms. Wet a cloth and sprinkle soap onto the cloth, wipe down the bathtub, the sink and the counters. I use a hand scrubber to remove tough grime. Use one scrubber for the toilet, and a separate one for the sink, bathtub and floors.

While my sister was working for a professional cleaning company, she picked up an awesome cleaning tip from them. Instead of using a standard cleaning product, my sisters are now using laundry detergent to clean their bathroom sink and tub. Keep a small box of it handy under the sink (but away from the reach of little children) and sprinkle a bit onto a damp cloth. It works great for removing bathtub scum. Since it's much cheaper than the standard chemicals I'm switching too!

Paper towels are my best friend when it comes to the bathroom. After I wipe and scrub the areas with the hand brush, I dry with paper towels that I can discard. I also like to hang on to worn out socks, or undershirts that I cut into pieces and use as disposable cloths. One pair of long underwear goes a long way! Cleaning your bathtub weekly is important as a ring can build up, making it difficult to remove.

Give special attention to the floor. The area behind the toilet is a gathering place for filth, especially if you have little boys. Reach in with a moist hand brush, and wipe dry with paper towels.

Keep the soap and brush under the sink where you can easily touch up areas during the week.

Clean the mirrors with window cleaner until you can hear them laugh. Then use the moist paper towels to wipe down the door handle and light switch.

* See window cleaner recipe below.

Look up. Is there a fan that needs to be cleaned? Check your shower liner. Is it time for a wash?

Don't forget to empty the garbage. Next time you're picking up cleaning supplies, find a box of great smelling fabric softener and throw a sheet into the bathroom garbage to freshen up the scent. It doesn't have to be brand name, it just has to smell good.

Remember, when guests are sitting on your throne, they have nothing better to do than observe what kind of a housekeeper you are.


Spend time in the bedrooms on Tuesdays.

Change bedding, and toss sheets in the wash. Note: if you purchase deep sheets, they won't pop off of the corners as often. If it's nice outside, try hanging your sheets and blankets outside.

Organize clothes, and dust off your dressers. Take a look in your closet to see what you can give away. If it doesn’t fit, or you haven’t worn it in over a year, there is no reason to keep it. Put as much junk away as possible so that all clutter is eliminated.

Keep DVDs, CDs, and jewellry off of the dressers. Keep one or two books on each bed stand and put the others away in a book shelf.

Clean the windows and mirrors, and occasionally wash your drapes. Wipe down window sills, and clean inside the tracking of sliding windows. They say not to clean your windows on a sunny day, and the reason is that they dry too quickly, leaving you with a streaky finish.

Empty space makes for a comfortable bedroom so do your best to shed items when it comes to the most restful place in your home.


This is kitchen day. The kitchen is the hub of the family, so in addition to the daily maintenance you do, deep cleaning this room is necessary once a week.

Organize your pantry and discard old food. Repackage items that have torn torn or open boxes, and consider storing them in Tupperware to eliminate the threat of insects.

Empty and wipe out your refrigerator. Thursday is shopping day and you’ll need all of the space you can get. If you leave this chore to doing once monthly, you’ll find it’s far more difficult to get done. Constant maintenance is the key to keeping a refrigerator clean and functional.

Fill a glass bowl full of water. Place the bowl in the microwave for about three minutes. This should be long enough to steam the inside of the microwave. Now wiping it down is a snap! (My sister says she skips the bowl and just puts a wet cloth in--even easier!)

Wash your counters and disinfect them. Note: vinegar is a great disinfectant, and since it's edible it's a safe alternative to use on kitchen surfaces.

A little vanilla on vinyl flooring hides pet odors, but beware of possible stains.

Have a coffee maker to rinse? Powdered automatic dish detergent is the best for removing coffee stains whether they are in the pot or on your counter. Just a little bit will do. It also works well to clean a stainless steel sink.

Wipe down your appliances and your cupboards.

Empty your garbage. And before you put the next bag in, throw about five bags into the bottom of the can. This makes changing the garbage every day an even easier task.

Organize one or two drawers. Here's the thing--did you realize that most women have the same odds and ends in their "junk drawer?" Yes, we do. Ask one of your friends, and you'll see. And if you took a minute to analyze the junk you'd also see that this junk can be organized into 5-6 categories. Grab a handful of large Ziploc bags and slip items of similarity into each:
  • Pens, pencils, erasers, markers
  • Scotch tapes, masking tape electrical tape
  • Candles, birthday candles, matches, lighters
  • String, twine, shoelaces
  • Keys, padlocks
  • Etc.

It's a lot easier to pull out a bag when you need masking tape then to sift through a drawer of junk looking for it.

It's also a good idea to designate a shoe box for warranties, instruction booklets, and important receipts. It only takes five minutes to find a shoe box today, but you'll save yourself all kinds of time and frustration in the future.

Once per month clean the inside of your stove.

Use the hose of the vacuum to suck up crumbs when you're cleaning the toaster, and also use the vacuum hose to clean crumbs from the cutlery drawer. (Yes--we all seem to get crumbs in there!)


This is grocery day. Plan your meals for a week and write down the supplies you will need. Check to ensure that you have an adequate stock of light bulbs, cleaning supplies, toiletries, and the like.

If you have collected any coupons during the week, put them in your purse.
Call your husband to see if there is anything that he needs from the store before heading out.

If you have errands to run, this is a good day to do them. Save time and gas money by grouping trips together, and try to schedule errands for this day as well .


Vacuum all carpeted areas and clean all other floors. Pull the couches away from the walls and get behind there. Every second week, remove the cushions and vacuum the inside of the couch on this day.

* Also see carpet cleaning below.

Grab a dusting rag or a bounce sheet and dust any surfaces that you haven’t touched yet this week. Clean any windows and mirrors that haven’t been cleaned yet this week. See any scuff marks on your walls? Try using toothpaste to remove them.

Several decades ago, my sister Betty decided to jump on her bed with a pencil in hand. When mom discovered the mess she had made, Betty was sent to her room with an old toothbrush and toothpaste. It all came off.


Spend time with your family working outside. This is a great day to mow the lawn or shovel the walk, depending on the time of year. In summer, transfer your plants, in winter hang Christmas lights. Check your front door. Does the welcome mat need cleaning? Does your front steps need a shovel or sweeping? Consider what you want done, and use this day to do it.

Grab a garbage bag and clean out your car. Vacuuming and cleaning the interior should be done 2-3 times/year, but let’s stick with home maintenance here.

Take one day/month to clean out the garage. You may ask your husband to help you if it’s too large a job to take on yourself. If he agrees, spend the time cleaning with him.


Take time to enjoy a day of rest with the family.

* Carpet cleaning recipe:
1/2 cup amonia
1/2 gallon of water

Clean with rag or soft brush. Absorb moisture with a dry cloth. Also works on upholstery, but always test a small area first.

* Window cleaner recipe:
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 gallon warm water
1/2 teaspoon of liquid dish soap
Since newer glass is thinner, and therefore dries quicker omit the soap and use vinigar and water.

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Inexperienced Love

I still remember the way he felt the first time I held him close to my heart. He was brand new, but I already loved him with every breath that I had. It was much like holding Betsy Wetsy, except he was softer and blinked on his own. Careful attention was given to not poking the top of his head, lest I cause that little head to implode. My guess is that I probably would have been much better off not knowing the head thing, than being told not to poke. One wrong move and that could be it.

That fear was further tested the minute we brought him home from the hospital. I wouldn’t as much as tinkle without bringing the baby to the bathroom with me. Even while cooking, his Rock-A-Roo was propped up on the kitchen counter where I could watch the rise and fall of his chest beneath his terrycloth clothes. While I baked those cheese cakes I craved, I’m certain that he was craving them too. Passed down through his milk, he smelled like a cherry cheese himself. He was so yummy one could have gobbled him up. And I did.

His eyes were like a blue ocean on a cloudy day that’s warm enough to draw you in for a swim. His hair was feathery blond, and his cheeks a fair shade of pink. I loved to watch the way his full lips turned up when he smiled, while I refused to believe it was gas. It was only when he held his fists tight with a quizzical look in his eyes that I’d have to admit it was true, and that it was time for a change.

Picking him up, I kept one hand steady on the back of his neck careful that his head didn’t slip off and plunge to the floor. I was reminded of loose buttons on parkas that barely hang on by a thread.

Diaper changing was something I never thought I’d enjoy, until I witnessed the mighty stretch and the way his chubby legs kicked in that moment he was set free. It was a good time to tickle his tummy and give him the raspberries before zipping his Pooh sleepers back up.

He spent the days cooing and cawing, sucking and burping, peeing and pooping, and screaming. He loved to watch Jeopardy. I’m not sure what fascinated him the most, the music, the questions, or Alex Trebex’s halfro, but whatever it was, it kept him from crying for 30 minutes/day.

My baby is now 18 years old. His eyes are still as blue as an ocean on a cloudy day, his cheeks are a fair shade of pink, and I still love the way his full lips turn up when he smiles.

Adulthood was something I never thought I’d enjoy, until I witnessed the remarkable young man he’s become. He was my first born, which meant that motherhood was trial and error, with the best intentions of an inexperienced girl. I’d always wondered if I did my job well, if I held his head right, if I instilled faith, if I was a good enough mom.

I’m proud to say that he’s grown into an amazing young man. Breezed through the teen years without a hitch, and is now working as an assistant manager in my husband’s company.

He spends his days working and resting, laughing and smiling, writing and singing his songs. He’s an amazing musician with remarkable talent, and I’m proud of who he’s become!

Brendan, you are an amazing kid. You’ve come a long way, baby, and I still love you with every breath that I have.

Visit his website at:

Is Anything Uncomplicated In Life?

Sometimes I wonder what's going on in this world... I look around and see so many of my family and friends going through marital problems. I just have to wonder what's going on. I saw on the news that the most reasons that people divorce are due to  cheating and money problems. Why do people get so bored in marriage that they find the need to go out and cheat on their spouse?  Does it solve any problems? No, it doesn' only makes things worse. Money problems are almost always a problem, especially in this economy...but cheating has been around since forever. Do you think that after divorce comes from infidelity, that the next relationship is any better? What about trust?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Vintage Humor - What?!

What were they thinking? According to the first ad:

"Laboratory tests over the last few years have proven that babies who start drinking soda during that early formative period have a much higher chance of gaining acceptance and "fitting in" during those awkward pre-teen and teen years. So, do yourself a favor. Do your child a favor. Start them on a strict regimen of sodas and other sugary carbonated beverages right now, for a lifetime of guaranteed happiness."

And the last ad:

"So completely wholesome that even the youngest can "fresh up," just as often as they want...and with as much as they want too."

Oh my!

Have a great weekend, my friends. God bless.

The Little Chapel on Morrow

I’ll always remember that day. We stood at the front of the church, my sister and I—she in a teal colored sweater, and me wearing the same version in pink. Together we sang, “Jesus Loves Me This I know…” I sang the melody, while Bonnie chimed in with harmony. She always could sing better harmony than I; however that’s considering I couldn’t sing harmony at all. Neither one of us were amazing singers by any stretch of the imagination, but that morning we sang like we were--spreading the love of God, from radiant voices of praise.

It was a crisp February morning, the 14th to be exact. The congregation of maybe 45 people at most, were gathered together in the wee chapel on Morrow Avenue. Mr. Dorsette sat hunched over the keys of the organ that towered above him, while Mrs. Hensley shuffled through her purse in search of her specs. A Kleenex that fell to her lap was carefully tucked into the cuff of her sleeve. Our parents sat stage left, near the front, beaming with pride, since singing to a congregation of 45 was about the closest thing to success our family knew.

Members of the congregation leaned in, squinting, smiling, and glaring at the girl with the blond hair. I was new to the church, but one look revealed that I belonged with the red-headed girl--sisters that looked, sang, and dressed so much alike. We wore beige nylons beneath denim skirts, and flat pumps that added nothing to our short stature.

Sitting in the back row sat a group of young men. The leader of their pack, Michael Schacht, combed fingers through his hair with one hand while the other lay resting on the back of the pew. Listening more intently than he had for the past 20 years in attendance, his eyes remained steady on the girl with the golden hair.

“We need to get them in our band,” he whispered to the guys. And together they nodded wondering which one would get our phone numbers first.

Two weeks later, I answered a call from my sister Bonnie. “Hey, I forgot to tell you,” she said. “Remember when we sang at my church on Valentine’s Day?”

How could I forget? I was nervous beyond belief, wondering if the congregation had gathered a collection to have me taken out for stepping on stage that morning. It’s unnerving to look into the eyes of people whose relaxed demeanor shouts, “You’ll be burned at the stake if you miss that high note.” And I’m sure I missed several.

“Well,” she continued. “There’s a guy in our church who has a band, and he really wants us to sing in it.”

My first thought was What’s wrong with this band? Why would they ask US to sing with them? Weren’t we the girls who stood there only two weeks earlier sporting nail polished nylons (fyi it stops runs) and belting out kindergarten tunes? My second thought was BOYS. In fact my third, fourth, fifth, and sixth thoughts were Boys, Boys, Boys, Boys. So that afternoon in 1986, I joined the Crossroads band.

I hadn’t planned to join a band that morning, 24 years ago, nor did I plan to find my husband in the back row of a little chapel on Morrow Avenue. But God’s plan that Valentine's day was exceedingly abundant above anything I could have dreamed of or prayed for my life. He knew my desires, as he knew Michael’s heart, and so in that moment divinely orchestrated by the Father of love, our journey began.

24 years later, Michael is still the leader of the pack, but that pack has changed some with four children, two birds, three hamsters, and a little blond wife. The pink sweater and nylons are gone, the chapel is empty, and praise God--our house is full.

Today we are celebrating 22 years of marriage. Yes, we still miss the high notes now and then, but a happy marriage of 22 years is about the closest thing to success our family knows.

Happy Anniversary, Michael. I love you with all of my heart.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Chili Con Carne

1 lb hamburger
½ C celery
2 medium onions
2 Cans kidney beans
½ C ketchup
14 oz tomatoes chopped fresh or canned
½ tsp salt
2 tsp chili powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (for hotter chili)
1 sliced green pepper (optional)

Fry hamburger with onions and celery. Put all ingredients in pot and bring to boil. Simmer on low heat at least ½ hour.

Stir occasionally!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Remembering Dad

I still remember the day when I could barely hold the orange pencil that I carried over to my father. After taking a small carving knife from the yellow drawer in the kitchen, he sat in his chair at the red arborite table where he whittled the pencil and told a story from his past. His words captivated my soul while my body shook with laughter.

“Haven’t you ever been embarrassed, Dad?” I asked, with wide-eyed wonderment while I giggled behind my little hand.

“Only once,” he said blushing, “in grade two, when I asked a girl something I shouldn’t have...” His strong hands moved effortlessly with the wood while the story came to life. “Never worry about tomorrow,” he said placing the sharpened pencil in my hand, “just laugh about today. God will take care of the rest.”

I’ll always remember how the soft pink eraser smelled like the rubber soles of his shiny black shoes, and the freshly sharpened wood smelled like the dust of his workshop.

Centered in the long hallway of that house stood a cupboard, where inside lay a stack of fresh white paper. Each sheet held a life of it’s own within it’s magical fibers. That night, before resting my head on the white pillowcase, I waved my magic pencil over the canvas, bringing the paper to life with each mark I made.

Pictures of beautiful women in long flowing gowns, with honey colored hair and raspberry cheeks, filled the papers over time, reflecting my dreams of the future and what it would hold.

I longed for the day when I’d gallop away on a white horse with a handsome man who would take me far away to his palace. There we would embrace the joy of our children, until the time came to tuck them into bed.

Several years later, I found myself standing under a stream of urine at 3 am. It sprayed from the top bunk from which my daughter dangled—half in and half out of a dream world. While I sputtered and screamed and searched for the light switch, Madison made her way down the ladder. Like a drunken cat running from a bath, she left the room and locked herself in the bathroom.

It took me a while to coax her to open the door, but finally she did—wet and cold and confused. After I put clean pajamas on her and wiped up the floor, I held her in my arms for one more hug.

“I’m sorry, Mamma, she whispered, with her face buried into my chest.

Lowering my head closer to hers, I said, “Honey, you didn’t do anything wrong.” And then I held her closer and longer than I usually did, wishing I hadn’t sputtered and screamed like I had.

“I made a mess,” she cried. I felt the tension in her shoulders while she quietly sobbed.

I held her closer until she relaxed. “We all have accidents,” I assured her, “Come on, time for bed.”

When I stood outside her room that night with urine dripping from my honey colored hair, I realized that sometimes God’s plan is different than ours. With each glimpse that I get of His plan unfolding in the life of my family, I see so much more than I planned for myself.

Inspired by my father’s humor and zest for life, I continue to make my mark on the world, bringing my own words to life in the stories I write.

Dad was diagnosed with a brain tumor last week, and you know what? He's not worried one bit about tomorrow, and he's still laughing about today, because as he puts it, "God will take care of the rest." I don't think I've ever met a person with more zest for life than he.

Please keep him in your prayers as we face the weeks and months ahead.

Update: Today he was tested and diagnosed with four brain tumors and lung cancer. He is in great spirits, and ask that prayers be only for God's will to be done.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Preparation for Marriage

Perhaps you’re engaged to be married, maybe you’re married and hoping to rekindle a spark, or possibly your marriage is at the point where you feel it’s broken beyond repair. In any case, you're at a place where preparation for marriage is a must.

If you had a traditional wedding, then most likely special care was taken to ensure that every detail was just right: choosing flowers and bouquets, designing wedding invitations, fittings for tuxedo rental, deciding on a color scheme, shopping with bridesmaids for dresses, finding a church and booking a hall, accessorizing your outfit, finding a caterer, planning a rehearsal dinner, hiring a DJ, deciding on a menu, looking at wedding cakes, choosing his and her rings, deciding on the perfect wedding song, hiring a photographer, deciding on a hair style, and finally choosing the dress of your dreams—joyful preparation for one day of your life. Let me ask you, have you put the same energy into planning your marriage?

You are about to walk down the aisle of life. Your groom awaits your arrival, but before you step into his arms take a look in the mirror, and ask yourself, “Am I prepared?” Are you adorned with glory and splendor? Are you clothed in honor and majesty? Just as you took months of planning to prepare for your wedding I encourage you to apply the same diligence to preparing your life. If you don’t see a radiant bride looking back in the mirror, start making good changes, and before you know it--you will.

Imagine the look on his face when he starts to notice the little efforts you make. When you put on his favorite dress for dinner, when you leave a note in his lunch bag, when you turn on hockey instead of your show, when you’re sincerely interested in how his day went, or when you bite your lip instead of chewing him out. Just a few changes, and he’ll notice that you’re starting to shine.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Messy Faces In Divine Places

Brown paper covered the tables in place of a fancy tablecloth, while the head of a deer with over-sized antlers hung above our table in place of class. In place of a vase sat a cup of broken crayons, which came in handy when sometime after the drinks were served, I scribbled, “Help!” The six of us squeezed shoulder to shoulder into a booth that comfortably sits four. Each time a waiter rushed by, our jackets swung back and forth on the horseshoe from which they hung, like a pendulum thumping the back of my head. Trapped in a coo-coo clock, I waited for the hour to end.

I began reflecting on the days before kids, when tablecloths were white and dinner conversation didn’t consist of, “Oh honey, Nathaniel hasn’t been wiping again, and since he wears his pants inside-out with bum to the front, I think you’ll understand why the neighbor pulled me aside today.”

I also got to thinking about the days before kids, when a flickering candle gently lit up our space. Together we whispered sweet words of undying love. But that was the past, and now four children were present, competing to make their mark on the world.

No child makes his mark quite like our son Graham, who at some point in his six-year career as a boy morphed into a two-foot tall Billy Graham. Billy Boy Graham nearly had the restaurant staff singing "Just As I Am," while the customers walked through the aisle toward our table with all other heads bowed and eyes closed. Our entire time in the restaurant, Graham talked about Jesus and Satan:

“Dad, does Jesus walk the earth?” He asked.


“Is He inside me?”


“Does Satan walk the earth?”


“Is he inside me?”


He thought for a moment, “What do people do in hell?”

“They just burn forever and ever.”

Again, he asked, “Why do we have to do what Jesus said, just ‘cause He died on the cross?”

Dad tried to change the subject, “Can we talk about this later?”

Then very loudly, Graham calls out, “Whoever loves Jesus, put up your hand! Mom, don’t you love Jesus? Put up your hand!”

“Graham, no more of putting up hands in the restaurant OK? Yes, I love Jesus. Brendan how was school today?”

“Whoever doesn’t love Satan, put up your hand!”

“Graham, no more putting up hands, OK?” I yanked down his hand.

“You know who I love best in the world, Dad?”



Meanwhile, four-year-old Nathaniel ate sour cream with his fingers while Maddy picked fries off the floor and Brendan the teen-aged eating-machine surveyed the dessert menu. When he enters a restaurant, Brendan expects the full meal deal served on a silver platter. “How much is the sky high chocolate pie, Mom?” he asked.
“Seven-fifty I think. It’s expensive.”

“OK, I’ll have that next, and I need a refill on this drink.”

The way he sees it, money is no object until Mom and Dad start to object.
In stark contrast, Maddy sits in her spot and eats whatever is passed down to her: tomatoes, a chili fry, chunks of chicken, even the sour cream from Nathaniel’s fingers, if that’s all she can get her hands on. My daughter will eat until her eyes leak, and still want more. I know better than to ask my husband, “Do you want some of my meatloaf?” Because Maddy will start hopping up and down in her seat yelling, “I’ll have it.” And then a fist fight will breakout with her brothers, and she’ll win.

Ninety minutes and fifty dollars later we dragged the kids out with a crowd of sorrowful eyes watching us leave. Nathaniel was a walking sheet of fly paper—plastered in sour cream, salsa, and ice cream. We were careful not to brush Fly-Boy against anything on the way out, including small children that could have been dragged to the car by his cheek.

Twenty seconds passed and then a little voice from the back seat started up again, “Dad, why is Satan inside me?”

“Satan is not inside you, I told you that. Jesus is inside you.”

“No, you said Satan is inside us.”

“No, I didn’t.”

With that, Graham started again, “Whoever believes Dad, put up your hand!”

We arrived at home late, and before long, it was time to wash each messy face and tuck each little soul into bed. After tenderly kissing their foreheads good night, I reflected on the days before kids, when tablecloths were white and flickering candles lit up our space... Small hands never reached up for mine in the market, little lips didn’t press a kiss on my cheek, but most importantly, the day didn’t end with a tug on my heart and a child whispering, “I love you, Mommy; good night.”

I look at my children in awe of the gifts God sent my way, and how much He has abundantly blessed me today. I don’t want to look back on what was, or focus on what is to come. God has set my feet upon the path of motherhood, and with each step I take, I see a little more of His blessings unfurled. It’s when I discover that I’m right where He wants me to be; I see how He’s blessing me with messy faces in divine places.

I agree with Solomon’s wisdom when he wrote:
"Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift?
the fruit of the womb his generous legacy…
Oh how blessed are you parents,
with your quivers full of children!"
~ Psalm 127:3,5, The Message

Drawn from my archives

Radiant Love

Faith has the power to produce a love so radiant that it shines light on even the darkest of days. Radiant love is more than a choice, it’s more than a feeling, and it’s far more than emotion. It resides in the core of your being and extends to reach past the five senses. It’s enduring and respectful--glorious without limit; it’s powerful and passionate, invigorating yet challenging, painless and painful--it’s human. Yet with all of its imperfections, it’s perfect in every way.
Radiant love isn’t something you long for—it’s something we all can experience when we reshape our role as a wife. The moment we begin to accept, appreciate and understand our husbands, we begin to find that same admiration and respect mirrored back.

Is it self-seeking to want a loving and devoted husband who thinks you’re the greatest thing since the iPhone? Definitely not. While other men may complain about their wives, it gives a man a sense of pride to know his wife is different. She’s unique--she understands him when no one else does; she looks up to him as her protector and the one who provides; her admirable character is one he can trust.

When children see their parents are truly in love, they gain a sense of security and well being. The atmosphere of the home changes, because order is now how it should be. When you’re a radiant bride that your husband is proud to call his, you are a jewel in his crown.

Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her – Proverbs 31:28

Photo credit: Michael Schacht

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Kids Ride the Darndest Things!

Moms, dads, if you think skateboarding or rollerblading is dangerous, take a look at this. In 1907 ”Alligator Joe” Campbell opened a reptile park in Los Angeles, California, offering alligator rides to children for 25 cents.

Too bizarre a topic for this time-warp wife to pass up.


Speckled and freckled beneath the waves of his sun bleached hair, is a five-year-old boy who's "all growed up." The sun has stained his cheeks to a rosy shade of pink, but he takes little notice of this, as he's only particular about his adorable wavy blond hair. This new obsession of his has led to the fact that Mommy's brush is MIA most every day.

I can't bring myself to cut it, nor can I stop myself from brushing my lips against the softness every chance I get. So I do--unless he runs. Last night he ran.

I chased the giggling boy around the coffee table, through the dining room, out of the kitchen, and into his bedroom, until he was cornered. Smothering him with hugs and kisses, I savored the scent of his freshly washed hair, while feeling the soft wave of feathers against my nose and my cheek.

While crossing his arms, his bottom lip slipped forward in defiance. "What's your problem?" asked his sister, who was watching this all from the hallway.

"I wanted to try going to sleep without hugs and kisses tonight!" he huffed, once again releasing the lip that marked his desire for independence.

With little assistance, he tucked himself in, and waved me off into the night--his crown of curls encircling his rosy red cheeks on the pillow. I let out a yawn, and slipped off to bed myself.

About four hours later, we awoke to the clap of thunder, a flash of lightening, and the little man standing at the foot of our bed, hoping to crawl in beside me.

"I'm scared," he announced, then he slipped in beside me and pulled the covers up to his neck. For a while, I watched his young silhouette rise and fall with each breath he took. I smiled knowing that this little man was not "growed up" at all. He still needed his momma, and together we needed the storm.

I got to thinking about the storms of life that shake us, bringing us down to our knees. Perhaps it's financial, or a matter of health; perhaps it's losing the trust of someone you've grown accustomed to leaning on. Maybe it's shaking your faith, but hopefully it's doing the opposite--drawing you closer to the arms of the one who protects.

We need the storms. For without them we wouldn't see that we have need for Christ. We are all sinners, and we all walk the same soil that trips us up from time to time leaving us feeling alone in the storm. But like my son who wants so desperately to stand on his own, we aren't alone and shouldn't be. I praise God that He is there to comfort me, to cleanse me, and to shelter me under His wing. I need my Father, and because of Him, I can weather the storm.

Drawn from my archives

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mom's Homemade Buns

I'll always remember that familiar smell when I walked through the door after school. Mom had homemade buns in the oven, while others sat cooling on linen cloths she laid out. My personal preference was fresh from the oven. No butter, no jelly--just my tastebuds experiencing one of the greatest blessings in life--Mom's Homemade Buns.

Bake 400°F 15 - 20 min.

6 C Flour
2 T Yeast (heaping)
or 2 pkg.
1 ½ T salt (heaping)
¼ C milk (optional)
1 C oil
4 C warm water

Mix flour yeast and salt in a large bowl. Clear a center in the mixture and add oil and warm water (& milk). Mix together with dry ingredients.

Knead and add flour to consistency. Cover and let rise in slightly warm oven, approx. 1 hour. (Keep light on in oven for warmth and keep oven off). Put a pan of water in the bottom of the oven while dough is rising. It should double in consistency.

Punch Down and let rise again ½ hour.

Form into buns. Let rise in pans, approximately 1 hour. Bake 1 pan at a time.

Monday, September 13, 2010

About Me - Darlene Schacht

I love all things vintage: clothing, ornate furniture, dishes, and strong family values. I cherish the days when giving one’s word meant something to her in this life. When the sanctity of marriage was reserved for a man and his wife. When women were women and men were just men. When the only choice society offered was ‘life.’

I cherish vintage values, and yet I understand they are simply a means to an end. Yes they are to be cherished, but unless I couple those values with strong conviction based upon the Word of God and what is right in His sight, they are nothing but tradition, custom and practice.

Good values are the roots that help little ones grow. They are the threads that weave into the fabric of friendship. They are the strands that bind one man to his wife. They are of great worth, but the fruit we produce as a result of those values depend on the beliefs that are backing them up.
  • I believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God. My goal is to seek the will of God in every area of my life, and in doing so scripture isn’t up for debate.

  • I believe that I was created to be my husband’s helpmeet, and that he is the principal figure in our home. I joyfully accept this role and honor it as divine appointment from God.

    “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” Ephesians 5:22-24

  • I cherish messy faces in divine places, while I believe that I am called to ministry in my home. My role as their earthly shepherd includes nurturing our children to grow physically, spiritually, and mentally, nudging each little lamb should they stray.

  • I believe that life is to be cherished at the moment of conception, and that Dr. Seuss was right when he said, “A person’s a person no matter how small.”
As a Christian, I accept the Word of God to be true, and each time I apply it to my life I quickly discover that there is a good reason God put it there. His wisdom exceeds mine.

Does this mean that I am a doormat to my husband or that I’m compromising my beliefs in any way? Absolutely not—I’m reinforcing them. I’m living out my faith which is backed by belief. I’m happily choosing to be my husband’s helper because faith powers every decision I make.

I believe that I was created with purpose, and in living out our purpose we discover a peace which passes all understanding through Jesus Christ our Lord.

You are loved by an almighty God,


For comments or questions, contact me at:

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Meet the Schacht Six

Michael and Me


Graham and Madison


The True Image of God

May we always search for, and accept, the true image of God...

I remember an important rule in art class which is this: if you are drawing an object, ensure that you draw what you see, not what you think it should be.

Inexperienced artists will always place the eyes 1/3 third of the way down from the top of the head, while an experienced artist will recognize that although it goes against everything he feels it should be, he has studied that face long enough to know that the eyes are somewhere at mid point. The nose is longer than he'd like it to be, and the mouth is much lower than he expected it would be. Although the model is smiling there's no upward curve to her lips, but rather a line that rises and dips accross the pink tone of her skin. Her cheekbones gracefully mark the side of her face but remain different one from the other. And her eyes are far darker than one would expect, with a subtle glow reflecting the same light that caused a shadow to fall on her neck.

Look at the two sketches in comparison at the end of the class and you'll see that one is a true reflection of the model, while the other is simply a lifeless graven image without dimension, depth or character, drawn according to the image one thought it should be. One holds beauty and life while the other does not.

Stressful moments and times of unease are pivotal points in our lives that cause us, like artists, to either choose the true image of God or rationalize why that image of God should be changed. What we're left with is either a deeper relationship in a life that reflects the image of the Almighty God Who is and Was and Will be, or we begin to create a golden calf to be worshipped according to our own image of God.

It's important for me to not only study the true image of God, but to trust it enough to leave it alone rather than trying to change it into something I think it should be. To understand the difference that one holds beauty and life while the other does not.

"Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before... either into a creature that is in harmony with God, ...or into one that is in a state of war with God. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other."
~ C.S. Lewis ~
Mere Christianity

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Beef Stroganoff

Growing up I was known as "The Stroganoff Kid." The Lipton company had a boxed version of a type of noodles and sauce that I was seriously addicted to. Every Friday when Dad placed an allowance in my out-stretched hand I hopped on my bike in search of a box for $1.85. There was nothing in the world I wanted to eat more than Beef Stroganoff.

Even on the rare occasion on which my family traveled I would head out for a walk in search of a corner store. Every province catered to this crazy addiction I had.

For some bizarre reason my daughter has come down with the same ailment. She must cook a box of Beef Stroganoff any chance that she can. Unfortunately the original Lipton version has changed, but she's managed to find another version that does her just fine.

Because of our crazy love for Beef Stroganoff, I came up with a homemade recipe that's 10 times better than any package can offer. It's quite simple, and has definitely been a family favorite for years. Enjoy!

Coating for Beef:

½ c flour
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

Cut 1½ pounds of round steak into bite size pieces, and then roll them in coating mix until each piece is well covered.

Brown the beef with ¼ cup of margarine in a large skillet.

Add the following ingredients:

Approximately 2 cups of fresh mushrooms
or one can of drained mushrooms

½ cup of chopped onion

1 small clove garlic

Add the above ingredients to the beef, and brown lightly.

Stir in 1 can of beef consomme.

Cook covered on medium heat for 1 hour, stirring often. After a while, add water if needed to keep the mixture from burning.

Stir in 1 cup of sour cream.

Serve over 3 cups of cooked broad egg noodles.

Garnish lightly with parsley flakes.

This post is linked to:

Beauty and Bedlam

Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays

Monday, September 6, 2010

Am I Good Enough?

Before I clicked publish on this blog, I asked myself, "Am I good enough?" Am I good enough to call myself a Time-Warp Wife? Just because I seek to return to the time-past values I cherish, can I wear that title now--today? Am I good enough to share my beliefs and convictions with others, when I've failed so miserably myself?

I look around the room, and although I've cleaned the house this afternoon it looks like a hurricane hit it tonight. My profile photo is perfect, but I sit here and type in a white robe and socks. My hair is tied back in a pony, and my bangs are unkempt. I sent the children to bed hours ago, and I still hear the shuffle of papers in my daughter's room. She's anxious for school as we all are.

"Go to sleep, Sweetie," I remind her, before she enters the hall for one more trip to the loo. I strive for order in the house, but it gets the best of me most days.

Am I good enough, Lord?

My laundry is backed up, we have few socks to wear, and I have windows to wash. We vacuumed twice today, but the bird had a party in his cage, and seed needs to be vacuumed again.

I'm not a Caroline Ingalls, Olivia Walton, or June Cleaver. I've disappointed my friends, my Lord, and my husband at times. I feel that disappointment today and it wrenches my heart. Loneliness, fear and heartbreak set in.

Am I good enough, Lord?

A voice inside tells me I'm not. It points out my failures and my shortcomings. It reminds me of the many times I've driven my children to school and forgotten a lunch, a note or their gym clothes. It tells me that that I'm disorganized and that I don't measure up to other women my age. It tells me that I'm a sinner unworthy to stand before God.

And then I hear another voice that gently speaks:

"Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God." Titus 2:3-5, NIV

Again I ask, am I good enough Lord? Can I be that faithful servant with every shortcoming I have?

I find the answer in 2 Corinthians...

"Because of this decision we don't evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don't look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We're Christ's representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God's work of making things right between them. We're speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he's already a friend with you." - 2 Corinthians 5:16-20, The Message

Photo credit: Michael Schacht

Are You Getting What You Want From Your Relationship?

Everyone wants and deserves to have a great relationship...are you getting what you want from it? What things are most important to you? I think that  being able to trust your partner, respect is also way up high on the list of things for me. Being able to have the respect shows you that they honestly care about your feelings. I can remember a time when my ex used to be very loving towards me, and things were good....but towards the end of things, he began calling me names, humiliating me in front of others (especially my family) and I was always feeling terribly low about myself. I think that sometimes this kind of thing starts when there's an argument and people often say things that really hurt, only because they want to hurt the other person. I know that there is a RIGHT way and a WRONG way to argue....wished he would have gotten it.
Other things important to a relationship is being able to talk things out.  Very important.  Being able to be with someone that has pretty much the same values that you do, is also huge on my list. What are yours?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Cleaning House

While visiting a small vintage home in Lower Fort Garry, I noticed that this particular house has eight beds. Four beds in one room, three in the other, and one off of the kitchen.

I got to thinking about the days when my own grandmother raised 18 children. I'm certain that she didn't have a separate bedroom for each child, or for each pair. It was girls in one room, boys in the other. They all fit, because they didn't have an excess of junk.

In families like theirs, they had two sets of clothing, one for school, and one for play. School clothes were hung on a hook beside the bed, eliminating the need for dressers, closets, and credit card bills.

Today, families like mine have at least one dresser in every child's room as well as a closet that's full to bursting.

It really doesn't feel good to have that much stuff--in fact it feels terrible. On a recent trip to Jamaica, I saw how other people lived. People living in poverty were well dressed, because they cherished the clothes that they owned--washed them by hand and hung them outside to dry. I saw how a young woman cherished one pair of jeans because she couldn't possibly afford another. And then I thought of my denim collection back home and felt sick to my stomach.

Like a bulimic with chocolate cake in her throat, I couldn't wait to go home and purge my life. Get rid of the excess, and live as she did--happy with little.

But excess has a way of creeping back in through temptation, greed and envy. Things I must constantly keep in check. Empty space feels good for a reason, it's evidence of self control. I concentrate so much on the food that I eat, careful that I don't take too much, all the while living in outward excess. Where's the balance?

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21, NIV

I'm so thankful for those times I'm reminded of the simple life. Each time I'm given a glimpse of how good it would feel to be free of possessions. And every time that I'm inspired to move this treasure out of my house, and put it in storage, right where it belongs.

Photo credit: Michael Schacht

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