The Christian Homekeeper

...a God to serve...a family to love... a work to do...

It Happens

Buying things online is a blessing and a curse. If it goes well, it’s great and when it doesn’t….. it can be a real bummer.

I ordered spring and summer clothing from Full Beauty which includes stores like Jessica London, Roamans, WomanWithin and others. It was a lot of money for me, my entire clothes budget for spring and summer. For the store it was too much to loose but they aren’t concerned with me for sure.

Any way, I got an email telling me that my package had been delivered. Nope. I waited all day because sometimes delivery services like Fed Ex in this case, mark their packages “delivered” before they actually deliver them. But it never showed up.

The next day I tried to contact Fed Ex, nope you have to contact the seller. So I contacted Jessica London/Full Beauty.  They said they’d send me an affidavit to fill out and return. It came in my email the next day.

The affidavit also required a police report!  Even though no crime had been committed, the package wasn’t stolen. Guess how I knew?? The photo the delivery person left was not of my porch. No where near.

My Porch

The porch where the package was left

So I filled it out and I called the local police, non-emergency line. Nope, they won’t file a crime report unless a crime has been committed. I knew that. I put that on the affidavit.

Just when I was resigned to having to send the thing today, my neighbor came walking down the road with my package! They had left it at his back door, I couldn’t see that porch from the road so I didn’t know! I did go looking all over the neighborhood for “The Porch”.

I’m so thankful for honest neighbors. Its so nice to know that there are still kind people in my neighborhood. I’m so thankful to have my work clothes finally.

But I still feel a caution about ordering online. I really prefer using Paypal or other service like that because then, you have recourse if something goes afoul. Your number can’t be stolen and you can remove businesses and people from your auto payments at places like Paypal. The business I used this time didn’t have that option.

I had my credit card number stolen a few years ago and used at a Nordstroms.  When the bank called I told them, ‘Uh, I’ve never shopped at a Nordstroms, I can’t afford to go inside a Nordstroms.” She laughed and said her too. The bank refunded my money.

I have never had much trouble at Amazon and I order most everything from them except groceries and the occasional piece of clothing. I once had a cup and saucer come as a gift from a relative and it was broken but it was replaced quickly and no questions asked.

The main trouble I have is with DELIVERY. Wrong address, merchandise never showing up or showing up days and days later after an email says it was delivered. That has happened a LOT.  Never with Amazon though.

Do you shop online much? What have been your experiences with it?

Is there somewhere we should avoid shopping online?? Delivery services to avoid?

And I Helped!

Remember that commercial for Shake and Bake? The little girl with the big Tennessee/Kentucky accent saying, “And I helped!” But it was more like “In ah hayelped!” I loved that commercial. I sounded just like her.

I have always liked Shake and Bake.  I bought it for quite a while. I used it on chicken and pork. Then I started making my own. You can find recipes all across the internet, but this is how I make it.  I think it’s really tasty.

Here’s my recipe for homemade shake and bake to use for pork. This is actually enough for 4 or 5 big pork chops so I’ll use some and store the rest in in a jar. You can double or triple your shake and bake and store it, too.

1 – 1/2 cups plain, dry breadcrumbs

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground celery seed, I crush it using a mortar and pestle

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

If you want to, you can add 1/2 teaspoon of ground sage. It’s very good with pork but I didn’t add it this time.

Mix it well and store it in an air tight container if you’re doubling or tripling the recipe and want to use it later.

To use it for pork chops:

You’ll need about 1/8 cup of cooking oil of your choice, I use avocado oil. You’ll need 2 big pork chops, I use bone-in chops that are thick. Heat your oven to 425*F.

Drizzle a baking sheet with the oil.
Place the coating in a plastic bag.
Wash the chops and let some of the water drain off.
Put one chop at a time in the bag with the coating, shake it around til coated.
Put the coated chops on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake at 425* F for 15 minutes, turn the chops over and bake another 10 minutes or a little longer so that they’re nice and brown.

Be sure to discard the leftover coating mix after using it.

These chops were extra thick so I checked their temperature, that’s what that metal stick is in the photo. Cook pork to an internal temp of 145*F.

Here On The Hill

Some few days ago, Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring for us.  I beat him by a week or more. Its just a prediction, a prognostication, if you will, but as I passed the front picture window in my house several days ago, there was a sign.

There was still some snow on the ground and it was cold but not frigid as it had been.  It was a balmy 35 degrees F and the snow was melting fast.

There in my front yard were not one, not two, but four American robin birds! These birds are not migratory but they are short-term migratory.  In other words, they go where the food is. The  song of the American Robin is my favorite of all the song bird songs. It is part of all my springs and summers since childhood.

When I see them return after winter, I know that spring is on the way.

Another sign are the rabbits coming to nibble on the new shoots in the yard and garden.  Once they have their babies, they’ll be out frequently and I may be able to get some pictures.

And finally, the most anticipated harbinger of spring here are the daffodil shoots coming up. Some came up while there was snow on the ground.  Now that the daily temperatures are in the 60s they’re coming up fast.

We’re 60 degrees today and I am headed for the deck with a cup of tea. Join me?

Winter Apple Tree


“You think I am dead,”
The apple tree said,
“Because I have never a leaf to show –
Because I stoop,
And my branches droop,
And the dull gray mosses over me grow!

“But I’m still alive in trunk and shoot;
The buds of next May
I fold away –
But I pity the withered grass at my root.”

“You think I am dead,”
The quick grass said,
“Because I have parted with stem and blade!
But under the ground,
I am safe and sound
With the snow’s thick blanket over me laid.

“I’m all alive, and ready to shoot,
Should the spring of the year
Come dancing here –
But I pity the flower without branch or root.”

“You think I am dead,”
A soft voice said,
“Because not a branch or root I own.
I never have died, but close I hide
In a plumy seed that the wind has sown.

“Patient I wait through the long winter hours;
You will see me again –
I shall laugh at you then,
Out of the eyes of a hundred flowers.

Edith Matilda Thomas (1854 – 1925)

Winter Weather in Middle Tennessee

Winter weather here in Middle Tennessee isn’t like winter weather in East or West Tennessee.  We don’t get much snow. So, when we do get it, it’s an exciting event.  Usually though we just get that dreaded ice. We’re right there where the Jet Stream dips down into the south.

When the Jet Stream dips very far into the south, the upper portions of Tennessee can get very cold and, if there is precipitation, we can have snow.

When it dips just a bit, and we have precipitation, we get ice. The colder it is the better because we like snow better than we like ice!

The forecast this coming week is precipitation Tuesday evening for 5 hours and they’re saying that the Jet Stream will dip down into Tennessee and cause it to be snow. I sure hope so. I like some snow. Especially now that I am not going as much as I was. I can stay indoors most of the time and look out at the snow instead of driving in it.

Ice causes so many problems. Not just with driving, but power outages. Power lines break, tree limbs break and fall and cause damage.  Roads are pretty much impassable.

Ice can cause those with animals to have to work extra hard to get them fed and watered.  We’re still pretty agrarian around here, lots of farms all around us even though we live in a city.

We live in an old neighborhood and the power goes out if the wind blows hard so ice will definitely be an issue. Thankfully we had all the big tree limbs cut back this past summer so if we have ice, it isn’t likely that limbs will fall on the house.

In 1994 we had an ice storm and limbs on trees were cracking and falling constantly for days. We were out of power for 11 days with 3 children at home and me very pregnant.  The scars on the landscape were evident for years in the neighborhoods and up and down the interstate.

We’re not expecting anything like that this week but I’ve been working on getting our act together for the cold weather. The gas tank on the cooker is filled, the Jeep is full of gas, we have plenty of blankets and clothes and we’re heading out today to get more kerosene for the heaters in case the power goes out.

I’ve got plenty of bread baked, lots of fruit, cans of soup and my ice chests are clean and ready to hold food out on the deck in case the power goes out and stays out very long, though our refrigerator stays cold a long time.

I’ve pulled out my big thermos. Did you know that you can cook in a thermos? Search for it here on my blog I have done it for years. I cook rice, pasta and keep coffee or tea hot for days.

I hope you’re prepared for cold weather and the possibility that your electricity will go out. Probably ought to make some plans.

One thing I’m not looking forward to is taking the short-legged dog out in the snow and I don’t think he is looking forward to it either.


It’s Been A While

I haven’t dropped off the ends of the earth. I’ve just been super busy. I don’t know when I won’t be busy so I made time today to come in here and write a bit.

Fall has arrived here in middle Tennessee. The mornings are cool and misty and the colors are gradually changing from greens to yellow, red and oranges.

Fall is my favorite season and it always has been, since I was a child. Even though school started and summer ended, I was that child who reveled in fall.

We started school the second week of September so it wasn’t long before the leaves started changing and the weather lost it’s hot temper.

I was the child who was ready for sweaters and boots, for walks in the woods and collecting leaves that I would put in albums. I drew pictures and painted pictures of the leaves and trees.

Later I acquired a camera and took most of my favorite pictures in the fall. I enjoyed visiting and talking to relatives and cooking something with Mother. I liked fuzzy hats and mittens.

Though my freckled face, brown skin and blonde hair told the story that I stayed out in the sun all day long, I didn’t miss summer at all. I waved goodbye to it over my shoulder and had my eyes set on fall.

Looking out my office doors today, I see a beautiful orange leaved tree and several that are red and different shades of yellow. Those colors make me happy and they are the ones I chose for our wedding and also for our first home.

Later, when I was ill, my Mother redecorated my kitchen and dining room with those ubiquitous geese with Cape Cod blue ribbons. And I liked it a lot but eventually I came back to the reds of fall.

And it isn’t too chilly yet to go barefoot, I’m still barefoot most of the day. I do wear my house shoes in the early mornings though.

My husband had a stroke in September, it was not a major stroke but enough that he can’t work right now and is in speech therapy. I knew in my heart it was coming and I told him so. But like so many people, he didn’t listen and didn’t change anything so here we are.

He is improving and I am very thankful for that. He’s sad that he can’t work but he is intent on improving as much as he possibly can.

Fall is a hard time to recover from anything, I think.  The weather often forces you indoors and the sun doesn’t shine with the same intensity. So it’s easier to feel down in the fall. I pray for my husband daily that he’ll stay chipper and focused on recovery and not succumb to the fall and winter doldrums.

Throughout all the events of September and October, God has been my ever present help and I lean on Him minute by minute. His strength and His grace is mine every day.  So much grace. I reach out daily and grab it and hold it to my heart and give thanks.

For now, I am preparing myself to enjoy the fall season with all my whole self.  We took a drive out into the country today and ate at a mom & pop place we like.

The weather was perfect and I drove just a little under the speed limit with the windows down so we could enjoy the air.  The leaves are beautiful out away from the city. However, there are some spots in our town where the leaves and old buildings are a glorious sight! Just look at this one:

My mind is already thinking of crafty items to make for gifts and warm, filling meals for the coming cold weather.

There have been falls and winters of late when I have felt alone and cold, where I mourned friendship and purpose.

I am determined not to mourn this year but to revel again like I did when I was a child, drawing, painting, walking, cooking, baking and talking to loved ones.

My Video Channel

Hi Friends

I have a new Vimeo Channel where you can come and hear me talk about this and that. I share  what’s going on in my life,  sometimes  a Bible teaching for women and what I’ve been studying.

I’d love it if you’d follow me, like and share my videos. I’m trying to get a little bit of a presence so I can continue to teach and encourage women online.

Here’s the link.  Sylvia’s Vimeo Channel

Be Kind

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. Titus 2:3-5 (NASB95)

This is a familiar passage, especially to most Christian women. It’s the passage that instructs women on how they are to live.

Let’s look at the word kind in this passage. The KJV uses the word good and we’ll consider these two words to have the same meaning.

Adjective: kind; comparative adjective: kinder; superlative adjective: kindest . Showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature.

Kindness is lacking in our society, would you agree? The intentional showing of generosity and consideration to others is rare online especially.

You’re aware I’m sure that people tend to be rude and vulgar to others online because of the perceived anonymity of  being hidden behind a phone or computer.

Women will talk to each other online as if only they know the truth and must have the last word in a conversation. It seems like whoever can be the wittiest, offer the best one-liner and say the most cutting thing is the perceived “winner” of a conversation. Those who do try to offer up kind, conciliatory words are often virtually shouted down.

This has trickled into our face-to-face interactions as well. Think of how people treat each other in the market place, in offices and in public places. This has definitely changed for the worse.  This worsening disrespect and unkind behavior shows online now more than ever from people who aren’t even attempting to hide their identity.

I regularly read posts on social media from professing Christian women that are decidedly not kind or even civil. Think of places like Twitter where many women and men put their cutting, sometimes shocking or rude thoughts out there to attract attention not caring if their words reflect the kindness they are called to.

Somehow as a whole Christian women have decided that it’s more important to make an impact and cause shock with their thoughts and opinions than to offer up kindness and consideration.

God, on the other hand, has His own plan for how a Christian woman should speak and type out her thoughts.  It can be said that He also has instruction for how we speak and how we think. Specifically, In Titus 2:5, He tells us that older women are to be kind and teach kindness to other women.

If you’re not careful you might skip over the command to be kind. It’s there in the middle of several other adjectives that we’re commanded to be like sensible and pure. Sometimes I wonder if we’re just so accustomed to the word kind that we miss the fact that being kind is a firm command. Just as firm as the command to be pure, sensible and subject to one’s husband.

Kindness is one of the Fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22. This lets us know plainly that we aren’t told to reach down in the depths of our souls to find some vestige of kindness to show others when we’d rather offer up a good lecture filled with biting rhetoric and told-you-sos.

The Holy Spirit in us produces kindness. If you’re not allowing the Holy Spirit to move in you like this what does that say about you? About your relationship with God?

The last sentence of Titus 2:5 should give us pause.   We are to be these things, including being kind,  under the influence of the Holy Spirit and teach these things so, ” ….that the word of God may not be reviled”.  When was the last time you heard the Word of God reviled because of how a Christian was acting or speaking? Yes, me too, just this week in fact.

Kindness eludes us so often. It's as if it is a kindergarten word and something we teach children, not women. We're more kind to animals than we are humans sometimes. Click To Tweet.

Yet kind/kindness is exactly what God expects us to be and to teach. Even when we must be firm and steadfast, we can be kind. It takes more effort than spewing words without thinking. And more prayer.

Such a simple word. Such a simple definition. Seemingly so difficult to show.

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