Pragmatic Compendium

inspiring the pragmatic practice of intimacy with Christ

(hey Son! what happened to the) sausage balls?

1 lb. hot sausage
2 c. grated sharp Cheddar cheese
3 c. Bisquick (biscuit mix)

allow cheese to come to room temperature.
combine all ingredients (just get your hands dirty, it’s easier).
roll into 1 inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet.
bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
serve immediately (or keep them under lock and key until ready to serve).

makes 40-50 sausage balls when served immediately.
makes 3 sausage balls if served later (if you’re lucky).

(hey Son, what happened to the) sausage balls? (print friendly version)

November 21, 2007 Posted by | recipes | , , | Leave a comment

mom’s pumpkin soup

FirstHusband makes his momma’s soup every Thanksgiving (except when we go visit for Thanksgiving and she makes it!)

1 cup butter (we use Smart Balance)
1 cup onion (chopped)
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 scant tsp curry powder
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp coriander
½ tsp red pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1 16 oz can pumkin (or 16 ounces of jack-o-lantern puree)
1 cup half/half (or ½ cup evaporated skim and ½ cup skim)
sour cream

melt butter, saute onion and garlic.
add spices and cook one minute.
add broth and simmer uncovered 15 to 20 minutes.
add pumpkin and milk and cook 5 minutes.
puree in blender. (BE CAREFUL. Start on a slow speed. It has a tendency to burst/explode out of the top even when you are holding the lid. It’s HOT and it BURNS. REALLY. Start Slow!)

garnish with sour cream and chives.

Serves 6

mom’s pumpkin soup (print friendly version)

November 21, 2007 Posted by | recipes | , | Leave a comment

Stealth Birthday Streamers

This simple tradition is so easy (and inexpensive) and it makes my kids feel very special.

In our house, when a kid has a birthday, they wake up to a room which has been lovingly “T.P.’d” in colored paper streamers. The night before, after the kiddo falls asleep, my husband and I sneak in and run paper streamers all over the bedroom – from one corner to another, all over the ceiling fan, from the curtains, the bed and any protruding toy on a shelf. We stumble in the dark, say “shhhhhh” way too loudly and make confusing gestures at each other in the dark, trying to convey directions. You would not believe how loud tissue paper is when you unroll it in a quiet room! Despite all that, we’ve never had a kid wake up in the middle of the sneaky decorating and catch us!

The next morning, the kid wakes up to a maze of bright, colorful streamers. In the beginning, there would be a balloon or two as well. Not anymore. We can’t seem remember that part until we’re actually streaming the room and we will NOT drive to a 24 hour store in the middle of the night to buy balloons. We love our kids. But not enough to go out and buy balloons at midnight.

We usually leave the streamers up for a week – sometimes two. Lately, we take down all the streamers on the ceiling fan except for the ones draped over the blades. Then we can turn the fan on low and the streamers will twirl and drive the cats nuts.

Last night, putting my 6 (soon to be 7) year old daughter to bed, I said, “hmmmm. We’re going to have a hard time putting streamers in this room tonight. It’s so messy we can barely walk in here.

“Oh my goodness! I need to get out of this bed and get my hiney cleaning up this room!”

(If I knew that’s all it took to get her to clean her room without nagging, I would definitely have been the room more than once a year!)

November 20, 2007 Posted by | pragmatic parenting, traditions | , , , | 1 Comment

Pink Girl’s Six Year Old Soup

This was invented by my daughter one lazy Sunday afternoon :

Saute chopped mushrooms and minced garlic in olive oil

Add some diced ham

Season with Mrs. Dash Basil, Tomato and Oregano

Add 1 can of tomatoes and juice

Cook for a while, stirring occasionally

Add three cups chicken broth

Add two cups water

Add ½ can of chick peas

Puree the other half of the chick peas and stir it in.

Add one can drained peas

Add cooked pasta

cook for a while.

Top with shredded cheese.


Sarah’s Six Year Old Soup (printer friendly version)

November 17, 2007 Posted by | recipes | Leave a comment

put the book down. it’s okay. really.

I started a book recently. And decided not to finish it. And I’m okay with that.


It was “Running with Scissors.” Great reviews. “So funny!”

I hated it.

HATED IT.  (it’s VERY different from the movie)

H A T E D I T! (did I mention I hated it?)

And I don’t have to read stuff I hate. I’m a grown up and I get to choose. There was a time I wouldn’t have been comfortable with the idea of abandoning a book mid-read. I was taught to finish what I start. That not finishing was . . . failure.

So what changed my mind? A book, what else?

I read the book, “So Many Books, So Little Time” by Sara Nelson. In it, Sara chronicled her reading for an entire year. She had a reading list and a plan. A plan she didn’t stick to. She had books on her reading list she never got around to, books she hadn’t planned on reading, but devoured and (this is the revelation for me) a book or two she didn’t finish.

She didn’t finish a book.

And she was okay with that. She didn’t feel like she failed, was too ignorant or uncultured to understand or appreciate something or that she left something incomplete. She gave herself permission to put the book down and never look back.

Ahhhhh. My to do list just got so much lighter. Guilt is heavy. What I never realized before was that I actually did feel guilty when I didn’t finish reading a book. (If you think “Atlas Shrugged” is a heavy book, you can imagine how heavy the “still haven’t finished it” guilt is.)

Maybe it’s a book I’m not into. Why should I keep reading something I don’t like? Why? My discretionary time is so limited! Why should I spend it doing things I don’t like?

Maybe I do like a book, but it doesn’t reach in and touch me at this time in my life. I may LOVE it later. But not now. I can always read it later. If I want to. There have been spans of time in my life where I find great meaning and am edified by reading “My Utmost from His Highest” by Oswald Chambers and other times in my life where the book gathers dust on the shelf. Maybe I will finish Atlas Shrugged, but it’s not meaningful for me at this time in my life. Right now, I just don’t give a flip about John Gault.

So I’ll keep my leather bound copy of My Utmost for His Highest and my big, giant 40 pound copy of Atlas Shrugged and as I return Running with Scissors to the library, I’ll be thankful that I didn’t actually pay money for it.

November 9, 2007 Posted by | books | | Leave a comment

be consistent

When my son was a baby, I still worked full-time.  I found a wonderful care-giver, who we called “Miss Pat.”   After my 3 month maternity leave was over, I took him to her house  where she watched 4 other babies – all under 18 months old.  After 18 months, they “graduated” and were cared for by her neighbor (coincidentally, also a “Miss Pat”).

In Miss Pat’s house the living room was the only place the babies were allowed to go on their own steam.  She could carry them down the hall and put them in a crib for a nap, but they didn’t crawl down the hall on their own.  They stopped at the doorway.

Her living room, which was carpeted, opened up into her kitchen, which was tiled.  When she was in the kitchen, the babies would line up on the edge of the carpet, but never crawl onto the tile.

I was amazed.  Babies less than 18 months old.  Only crawling where they were allowed – the only “baby proofed” room in the house.  How in the world did those babies know?   I had to ask.  She said, “I’m consistent.”


She said, “When these little ones start to crawl, and they start over the edges of the living room, I pick them up and put them back.”

“That’s it?”

“Well, I don’t just do it once, honey.  I do it about a hundred times a day for at least a week, maybe two.  After being put back in the living room that many times, the babies get tired of it and spend their time playing instead of trying to get into the kitchen.”

Miss Pat taught me a lot, but this was key:  “Training a child is exhausting.”

But worth it.

Today, my son is 12 and my daughter is almost 7.  She has a habit of crying when things don’t go her way.  It is so tempting to give in.  When I’m tired and she’s tired and she’s crying and I feel like joining her . . . I don’t.  I have this thing I say, which sometimes infuriates her, sometimes works like a charm:

“Solve your problem.”

Sounds easy to say, right?  I don’t just say it once, honey.  I say it about a hundred times a day and it’s been WAY longer than a few weeks and sometimes she still cries when something doesn’t go her way.  The difference is that she doesn’t do it as often as she used to.  More importantly, she doesn’t do it as often as she would if I sometimes gave her what she wanted when she cries.

It is the simplest advice.  But it is exhausting.  It tests your patience to the furthest limit.  But if you give in – even once – that seed is planted “I wonder if she’ll give in this time?”

Don’t do it.  Decide what’s important and then be strong.

Be consistent.

November 3, 2007 Posted by | pragmatic parenting | , , , , | 2 Comments

just journal, even if it’s just one sentence.

Life goes by FAST. I’m so busy living it, I forget how fast. If I’m not careful, I can spend so much time trying to check things off my computerized (and nagging internal) to do list that I can arrive at the end of the day without having even one non-task related thought. For me,

Journaling slows things down. When I write, I think. I need to think. About things other than deadlines, carpool, permission slips, doctor appointments, haircuts, cats with diarrhea, groceries, vacuuming . . . there goes that internal to do list again. I need to reflect and I can’t see my reflection in the swimming pool if I’m always scooping leaves off the surface. Journaling is a float and a cool drink. The leaves can wait for ten freaking minutes.

Journaling reminds me of the past. Recorded data points help me make conscious, intentional (and, hopefully, better) choices today. I can avoid repeats of negative situations if I can remember what got me into a mess in the first place. When I write about a successful outcome, sometimes I can identify what I did and do it again. I can learn from both my losses and my wins. But only if I remember them.

Journaling captures memories. When my son or daughter (or husband, or friend, or parent or sibling) says something funny or profound, I think I’ll always remember it. Yeahhhh. No. When I jot it down, not only do I always remember it, but my children can as well. Some of my journal entries are a simple quote, with a date. Reading that one little sentence, the memory floods back. And when I read it, I’m so thankful I took the time. Such a simple thing, such a priceless reward.

Journaling helps me figure out my goals. When I journal, I can’t help but think about what is important to me. I can start an entry blabbering about all the stuff I have to do and how stressed I am and by the time I’m finished I realize which of those things are counter-productive to the life I really want to live. It becomes glaringly obvious which items on my plate I should never have cooked up in the first place. It’s also a reminder to to hold my hand over the plate and say “No, thank you.” the next time someone else wants to dish out some more. It reminds me to yank the plate away and say, “I said, no.” when someone tries to put stuff on my plate anyway.

Journaling is more convenient and much less expensive than therapy. I can journal anytime I want, not just on a Tuesday morning at 10:00 (or whatever time my weekly appointment would be.) If something (or someone) triggers anger or melancholy or any other reaction commonly addressed during therapy, I can write about it, and discover as the words land on paper, something I hadn’t considered before – either about me or another person or a situation. Journaling leads me to understanding, calmness, tolerance, choices. So much more.

I’m sure journaling has countless benefits in addition to the ones I’ve mentioned here, probably many I’ve never even considered. But these few are enough motivation for me to stop.

In the middle of the rushing forward, I have the power to stop time. So do you.

Wield it.

November 3, 2007 Posted by | intentional living, what I've learned | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment



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