Rejoice & Encourage: A Crusade for Women

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 Though the Lenten season is a difficult one, I rejoice in my quiet times of reflection.  My thoughts come with clarity and I feel I have a better ability to draw conclusions from my journal entries.  One reoccurring theme in each entry is the idea that life is like a great juggling act—some balls float effortlessly through the air like graceful butterflies in the spring breeze while others balls constantly clunk clumsily to the ground like a baby learning to toddle.  Things like Relationships and Faith seem to be more delicate and are juggled with great care.  Other necessities like Mopping, Ironing, and Not Eating Cookies for Dinner Because You’re a Freaking Adult seem to be of less importance.  Those juggling balls are sturdier and can be dropped without fear.

 If my conclusion is true and life is an epic and fragile act of balance, we as faulty humans need assistance in our efforts to keep the important things afloat.  Surely the good Lord is watching over us in our acrobatic attempts for His eye is on the Sparrow, but we humans require relationships with other humans.  We need positive fellowship because as living creatures, we relate to other creatures.  While every one of us is different in our abilities, I’ve noticed that as a whole, women struggle with this.

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 Picture a mother in the grocery store who is well shod, perfectly coiffed, and dressed like she stepped freshly off the streets of Paris during Fashion Week.  Her children are of course, in perfectly starched outfits with pleats and smocking.  The smart looking bow tying back her daughter’s curls perfectly coordinates with her expensive looking stockings.

 The immediate reaction is to think something dreadfully terrible like who on God’s green Earth has the time or money for that?  What a Stepford Wife!

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 Picture yet another woman, a career minded lady with goals and aspirations.  Perhaps she’s without children or a spouse but she has a sporty car and a plush penthouse.  She’s an ace in the business world with a firm command of the boardroom.

 Why doesn’t she get married and have children?  This isn’t Working Girl!

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Or how about this scenario?  The Room Mother of your child’s class makes Easter goodie bags for the students.  They’re sweet and cute and obviously took a lot of time and effort.  She delivers her wares with pride and the children enjoy their homemade sweet treats along with the perfunctory Cheetos and store-bought cupcakes.

 Who has time to make goodie bags?  And homemade candies, cookies, and cheese straws?  She’s just trying to show me up!

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 An exhausted looking woman shuffles through the freezer section at the market dressed in yoga pants and an oversized Atlanta Hawks t-shirt.  Her hair is obviously filthy, she’s wearing Chacos and she isn’t even hiking, and her eye makeup was totally done for hours ago.  And to be honest, that frozen pizza she’s reaching for isn’t going to do her any favors.  {P.S. this is me}

 That girl has let herself go.  She obviously hasn’t worked out in months, so why’s she wearing yoga pants?  And her toenails are totally ratchet.

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 The point is women need to give each other a break.  We need to rejoice in womanly triumphs and support one another in both good times and bad times.

 The woman with the seemingly perfect children?  The balls she likes to juggle are obviously different from the mom who allows her daughter to dress herself.  And you know what?  That’s okay.  We need to rejoice in both the triumph of perfect pleats and the beauty of holey jeans.

 The Working Girl?  Yes, her aspirations differ from the dreams of a stay-at-home mother.  We should rejoice each time a merger and acquisition takes place.  Likewise, we should validate each batch of homemade play dough.

 That Room Mother who finds fulfillment in baked goods?  Rejoice in her accomplishments!  The mother who is doing all she can to drop off a bag of Lays and a two-liter soda should be celebrated as well.  Why does one have to be better than the other?

 And that poor woman in the freezer section who is obviously wearing her husband’s ratty old t-shirt?  Instead of instantly judging her for looking exactly how we all feel at the end of the day, offer a smile or nod of encouragement.  As women, we have days when we’re at the top of our game.  Likewise, we have days where we’re so low, we’re not completely certain that we’ll regain our footing.  If women as a whole could switch off that sinfully automatic “judging” switch in favor for the “encouragement” switch or the “rejoice for the accomplishments of others” switch, the world would be a better place.

 Life is a balancing act, both delicate and intricate in nature.  The balls or clubs we juggle may differ, but we each require support and encouragement from others.  Once the Lenten season is over, I plan to continue to encourage other women instead of judging them for having different priorities.  Will you join my Crusade?

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“The land you live on is like your mother…”

dominogarden

Daylight Savings Time is such a difficult transition, especially in the education world.  While I mourn the loss of an hour of priceless sleep, I welcome the changes that occur during this season of change.

Wintertime is difficult for me.  It’s so dark, it’s unbearably cold, and the overwhelming grayness of it all is too much.  No, I much prefer Springtime, with its brightness, warmth, and wonderfully brilliant colors spreading throughout the foothills.  Spring signifies a new beginning—a chance for a fresh start.  It’s a building crescendo of light, sound, and color just bursting forth from the ground.

The smell of Georgia red clay, rich and loamy, is perhaps my most favorite part of the coming season.  It signifies a willingness to grow, a trait the Earth displays wholeheartedly each year.  This smell of fertile clay triggers many memories in my mind—watching my mama plant gardenia bushes, helping my daddy pick up sweet potatoes, and wearing denim overalls to match my Pop Calvin as he plowed his gardens.  In the Deep South, love of the land is nothing new.  Gerald O’Hara said it best:

 “Do you mean to tell me, Katie Scarlett O’Hara, that Tara, that land doesn’t mean anything to you?  Why, land is the only thing in the world worth workin’ for, worth fightin’ for, worth dyin’ for, because it’s the only thing that lasts!”

 Armed with my knowledge of last year and the tenacity I inherited from my daddy, I’ve planned a bumper crop this year.  We’re so very close to planting season and I find myself giggling at the thought of scraping clay from beneath my nails while my manicurist clicks her tongue.

 Along with the traditional tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, herbs, and squash, we’re also going to try our hand at okra, garlic, Brussels sprouts, arugula, pumpkins, carrots, and bib lettuce.  Our kitchen will be filled with steam, Mason rings, and vinegar this summer as we set about canning, preserving, and freezing our crop.

In the coming weeks I’ll be sure to document our box gardens and the progress we’re making.  Change is good, change is welcome, and in this case, change smells like soil after a fresh Springtime rain.

XOXO,

Court

Do you garden?  If so, what do you grow?  And do you consume all of your produce while it’s fresh or do you preserve some for the winter months?

Spring Cleaning

Though I abhor cleaning, when the weather turns warm and the daffodils begin to bloom, I do experience an intense desire to scrub up my home.  I feel as though eliminating all the grime from wintertime is the perfect cure for the drab, gray existence that is winter in Northeast Georgia.  At the first hint of warmth and sunlight, I defiantly fling open my windows and doors and dare the doom and gloom to come back.

We’re very cautious about the cleaners that we use in our home.  Not only do we have two very curious kitties, but we also have a very old home that requires a bit of extra care and elbow grease.  Here are a few products that I absolutely could not clean without:

I’ve written about Mrs. Meyers Clean Day products before, so I’ll be brief.  I adore this all-purpose cleaner.  I use it to scrub baseboards, door frames, tile, my refrigerator, and a host of other items.  In a one-gallon bowl, I mix 1/4 cup of cleaner with one kettleful of boiling water.  The delicious lavender scent seems to linger for several days before finally dispersing, something that makes me quite happy.  I also use this cleaner to sanitize my piano keys {a must for a piano teacher!} and it’s perfect for scrubbing out my old cast iron bathtub.  Though it is a touch more expensive than other all-purpose cleaners {$7.99 for 32 fluid ounces}, a little goes quite a long way.  I’ve had one bottle since last October and I’ve barely made a dent {with regular cleanings}.  Purchase this and other Mrs. Meyers products by clicking here {and check out the heavenly new Radish scent!}.

Though I hate cleaning, I’ve always been quite fond of dusting.  To me, it feels therapeutic and I love how clean a room smells once I’m finished.  I love Scott’s Liquid Gold Wood Cleaner & Preservative because it contains no wax, no silicone, and it’s totally organic.  I find that I have to dust less often when using this product and it smells wonderful.  To use, I simply buff onto a wooden surface and then wipe down the surface with a clean cloth {my husband’s old t-shirts}.  It lends a gorgeous sheen to wood and leaves an almost mirror-like finish on flat surfaces like my dining room table.  It’s also great to use when cleaning cabinets.  It’s slightly more expensive than other dusting agents, but you’ll find it readily available at most markets or hardware stores for around $5.00.

I should preface this by saying that I do not use the Swiffer cleaning solution that is meant to pair with this product.  I love the mop and the cleaning pads, but I create my own cleaning solution that’s safe for kitties and babies alike.  I can’t be bothered to wring out a dirty mop over and over again, so I love the ease and accessibility that this product allows.

To read more about my cleaning solution, click here.

White vinegar is a literal gift from heaven.  Though the scent is quite pungent at first, upon drying it’s no longer detectable.  When diluted, it isn’t harmful to most surfaces and it’s safe to use around family pets and small children.  I splash in a bit when I wash funky smelling towels, I rinse off fruits and vegetables with a water/vinegar solution, and it’s perfect for cleaning out my teakettle.  Sometimes I even add in a tablespoon or two when I wash dishes!  White vinegar costs pennies when used as a cleaning agent and it’s 90% effective at killing mold and 99.9% effective at killing bacteria {per Good Housekeeping’s Heloise}.

Dryer sheets aren’t just useful in the laundry room.  I use them to wipe down baseboards, table legs, and other high traffic areas that tend to gather lots of dust or cat hair.  It leaves rooms smelling fresh and clean and it seems to cut down on the number of times I have to dust my baseboards.  I love Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day dryer sheets in Lemon Verbena {$7.99 for 80 sheets}.

 

With the products mentioned above in my arsenal, cleaning isn’t quite as miserable.  What about you?  Do you have any tricks or tips that make spring cleaning a bit more pleasant?  What are some of your favorite cleaning products?

 

Mopping Solution 101

Though I love my Swiffer Wet Jet for its convenience and easy-to-change cleaning pads, I do not like the cleaning solution that’s meant to be used with this system.  It’s bad for kitties, I don’t care for the lingering Febreze scent, and I don’t feel that it kills germs efficiently.  Instead of wasting money on the expensive refill bottles, I make a simple solution that cleans well, is safe for kitties and babies alike, and disinfects the old fashioned way.

To “jail break” a Swiffer Wet Jet refill container, you’ll need a small saucepan of boiling water and a thick dish cloth.  To begin, place the refill container twist-top side down into the boiling water for 1 1/2 — 2 minutes.  Remove and use the dishtowel to carefully twist the lid off.  You’ll hear a suction sound–that’s just the seal breaking.  You may have to repeat this step once or twice before the lid comes off completely.

Once the lid is off, combine four cups of hot water with 1/2 a cup of white vinegar.  I also added a few teaspoons of dish soap {I like this brand} to cut the vinegar smell.

To use your new cheap & chic mopping solution, simply twist the cap back onto the container and attach to your Swiffer Wet Jet.  It cleans like a dream and according to Good Housekeeping, white vinegar is 90% effective against mold and 99.9% effective against bacteria.