Pragmatic Compendium

inspiring the pragmatic practice of intimacy with Christ

ordering my environment.

I wrote a few weeks ago that when my head is a mess, I am compelled to order my environment. In practical application, this means three things: cleaning. purging. painting.

and I guess decorating. If you count framing stuff I’ve been meaning to frame for…ever. and putting new flooring in downstairs. and getting rid of useless decorative items that just take up space in my house.

Like a bowl of rocks.


at one point in my life, I PAID for a bowl of rocks and put them on a flat surface in my house. To hold candles. Candles that are – to this day – still wrapped in plastic.

purging. This particular purge isn’t so bad. The biggest purge I’ve done was after my hysterectomy in 2009. That was bad. My house and it’s contents suffered nearly two years of female neglect because of chronic anemia and limited activity, followed by another 6 months of recovery after the surgery.

This purge is deeper.

A stripping down to basics purge.

On May 31st, I said I wanted “I want every superfluous thing in my house gone. GONE.” I’m looking at EVERYTHING in my house as if I were moving. Would I want to pack it? or get rid of it?

I’ve thrown away and shredded so. much. paper. We’ve already made one trip to the dump. I’ve completely emptied every bathroom cabinet and only put back the things we need. I’ve gotten rid of pointless dust collecting decorations, including the bowl of rocks. I’ve even gotten rid of over 100 books.

I’ve been posting some of my progress on my public facebook page. You don’t even need to have a facebook account to see it.

Yesterday’s facebook post:
An entire pick-up truck load of furniture and multiple boxes of books, clothing, appliances, and pointless decorative dust collectors – all now in the FUMCO Whale of a Sale storage POD. I have zero dining room chairs and I do not care. I didn’t love them and they took up too much space, so they had to go. Based on that criteria, all members of my family will be staying. I suppose the cats can stay too. Tomorrow? The linen closet purge. I have to make room for the single tablecloth and the single set of placemats I’m keeping after giving away my buffet. ‎#pruning ‎#purging

Today’s facebook posts:
11:57am – Can’t decide what to do today. So I’m going to do everything. 5 minutes at a time. & fb/tweet my progress for accountability & motivation.

12:15pm – 1st micro-action of the day: Weeding the rose bed. Took 10 minutes. Love it when a huge bunch of weeds turns out to be a lot of runners.

12:23pm – How many fridge shelves can I clean in 5 minutes? Three. & I cooled off enough to go back outside. I’m gonna need shoes. ‎#microactions

1:15pm – Prune long neglected roses-10 minutes, put roses in vase, download & learn photo editing app-15 min. ‎#microactions (click any of the photos to enlarge)


3:06pm – An hour deep cleaning the kitchen, including the window, the front of the cabinets, the wall, the prints and my cobalt. More dust collecting decorations to get rid of. ‎#microactions


3:13pm – This is going to be hideous. & hot. But tomorrow is yard waste day. Any guesses how long it will take? ‎#microactions


4:06pm – If you do it fast enough, weeding is cardio. (posted “before” pic earlier) ‎#microactions


4:56pm – 20 minutes to make this mess. But my view is much clearer. Gotta bind all this up after I pick PinkGirl up.‎#microactions


9:28pm – Got on a roll. FavoriteSon and I mowed and he whacked weeds while I bound up what seemed to equate to a small forest. I ran out of daylight. And I may have discovered a new smell. A cross between sunscreen, bug spray, gasoline and sweat. ‎#pruning ‎#purging


I took an antihistamine and an anti-inflammatory. Hopefully, I’ll be good to go tomorrow. I never did get to that linen closet today.

[CLICK HERE to see a listing of all the blog posts in this series “the search for Joy.”]

July 8, 2013 Posted by | 5 minutes, clean house, fragments, freakishly organized, home sweet home, intentional living, microactions, motivation, status updates, the search for Joy | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

blend until purple.

My daily addiction:

1 cup skim milk (90 calories)
1 cup fat free yogurt (any berry flavor) (100 calories)
2 fistfuls of frozen blueberries (1 cup = less than 85 calories)
6 frozen strawberries (about 5 calories each)
blend until purple.

An antioxidant, vitamin C loaded snack that tastes like dessert for around 300 calories!

I’ve spent decades of my life not eating fruit on a daily basis. I’ve gone weeks at a time without eating any fruit. Not because I don’t like it, because I really like most fruits. It just doesn’t occur to me to eat any. Multiple times per year, I make resolutions to eat just ONE fruit per day. Finally, I included it on my fitness log (see the sidebar to the right) to try and put myself in a situation where I have to be accountable.

I also have a problem getting enough calories, which causes my metabolism to drop. I tend to forget to eat.

Smoothies solve both problems. I’m actually consuming fruit on a daily basis for the first time in my life and making them is easy and takes less than 5 minutes, so eating doesn’t intrude on my day. It doesn’t hurt that I actually crave them now.

I stumbled upon the smoothie idea while trying to get PinkGirl to consume some sort of nourishment in the morning. Trying to get that girl to eat breakfast before school is a chore! A few friends suggested I try smoothies and since PinkGirl loves Planet Smoothie, I thought it might work. It only took about 3 or 4 months to finally hit on a recipe that I actually liked. (for ME, not her. She still wavers about what she likes. I don’t know if I’ll ever find a recipe she really likes.)

But I was having blender issues. If the Vitamix is the BMW of blenders, it seems my little Oster was the VW bug of blenders. It was either forming a little pocket of air at the bottom and doing nothing or it was spinning like crazy and only blending the bottom half of my smoothie. I had to add more and more milk to thin it out so the blender would actually blend the entire smoothie.

I put a new blender on my Christmas list.

Which really irritated me because I own an Oster Kitchen Center with nearly every possible attachment, similar to this one:

It transforms from a blender to a chopper to a slicer to a mixer to a juicer to a . . . it does everything but clean itself. We got one as a wedding present from my husband’s parents and about 10 years ago, it died and I replaced it at our church’s WHALE of a Sale. Since all Oster attachments are interchangeable with every Oster made, I even bought a newer countertop blender to switch to the chopper when I needed it:


So I was not looking forward to having a different blender on my countertop. It was going to mess up my system.

FirstHusband surprised me with an early Christmas present: An Oster Milkshake blade for my blender!

My little Oster just got tricked out!

And THIS ONE is also on its way, so we’ll see which one works better.

December 19, 2011 Posted by | 5 minutes, fight the frump, food, GoodStewardofthisBody, health, recipes, wise buys | , , , , , | 4 Comments

5 minutes for petrified croutons & other science experiments.

This post proves that I will do anything to distract myself while trying to get through the last half mile of a 5 mile catch-up walk on the treadmill at a 6.5 incline…

As usual, I don’t have time to devote a full day (or 7) to concentrated cleaning, so I’m once again applying my long time practice of microactions to tackle deep cleaning my kitchen.

The recent “worms in the fridge” episode has me focused on cleaning my refrigerator. You’d think that the shelf with the worms on it would get my attention, but no. The drawer that was so stuffed it wouldn’t open gets first dibs. I had 5 minutes, so I completely emptied and cleaned it out.

Includes emptying out the drawer (including the loose, petrified croutons) cleaning the drawer bottom, searching for science experiments and tossing them out, combining the contents of multiple open packages of the same items and reloading the drawer – leaving out the food that shouldn’t have been in there in the first place.

Here’s the photo documentary of this exciting event:

And my theory is that nobody really wants to see the science experiments that were discovered and discarded, but if I’m wrong, HERE THEY ARE.

What can you clean in 5 minutes?

June 14, 2011 Posted by | 5 minutes, clean house, freakishly organized, intentional living, laugh!, microactions | , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 minutes. one counter with magical magnetic properties.

oh, you get to see the ugly now. My last few 5 minute posts have been in line with my goal to spring/deep clean my kitchen, but today’s post is about a DAILY struggle.

I have to believe that my kitchen counter is not the only one with magical magnetic properties. Magical in that it attracts all materials, not just metal.

We’ve got paper, plastic, wood, glass, medicine, vitamins, food items, cleaning supplies, a doorknob (don’t ask), even flat out GARBAGE. Maybe if I put the garbage can ON the counter…

But I digress.

I decided to find out if I could clear it in 5 minutes. If so, maybe it won’t seem like such a daunting task in the future. Maybe if I SEE that I can do it in 5 minutes, I’ll be more likely to do it every day.

Bwahahaha! (in our house, that would be referred to the Zack and Cody laugh. a statement, followed by a brief pause, and then a burst of mocking laughter.)

Did I make it within 5 minutes?

I’ll admit right now that this was challenging, simply due to the distance I had to travel to put some of this stuff where it actually goes. Which is probably WHY it got dumped on the counter in the first place.

Nobody wanted to go the distance.

I did cheat a little bit and put the items that were supposed to go upstairs ON the stairs to carry up the next time I go.

You watch, the next 5 minute post will start with a picture of my cluttered staircase.

What can YOU clean in 5 minutes?

And I just want to state right now, that I am confident that I can not clear my minivan of CARbage in 5 minutes.

UPDATE @ 2:34pm: Right now, there’s only one thing on my kitchen counter. A crock pot full of Cream Cheese Chicken

Find more tips from other bloggers over at Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by Kristen at We Are THAT Family. MY previous Works for Me Wednesday posts are HERE.

Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer.

April 27, 2011 Posted by | 5 minutes, clean house, freakishly organized, home sweet home, intentional living, laugh!, microactions, poor me some whine | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

5 minutes. 1 drawer. and a kapoosh.

Still applying my long time practice of microactions to tackle deep cleaning my kitchen. Today, I had 5 minutes, so I completely emptied and cleaned out the knife drawer.

“BEFORE” photos:

If THAT photo doesn’t show how bad it really was, THIS one surely does:

I followed the same steps as yesterday’s 5 minute drawer cleanup: emptied the drawer, cleaned the bottom, scrubbed and dried the drawer organizers and put everything back. This time, I didn’t get rid of anything. It may have been dirty, but it’s stayed organized like this since we had the kitchen redone in November of 2000.

“AFTER” photo:

2000. I wonder if that’s when I last cleaned the bottom of this drawer. no . . . NO. I’ve definitely cleaned it since then. That’s my story and I’m stickin to it.

What can YOU clean in 5 minutes?

But that was only the knife DRAWER. My favorite knives live in my Kapoosh (Amazon link) And I know I clean THAT multiple times per year. because it’s fun. and easy. and it takes less than FIVE MINUTES to clean it.

April 26, 2011 Posted by | 5 minutes, clean house, freakishly organized, laugh!, microactions | , , , , , | 1 Comment

how to be the best mom EVER! (for a few minutes anyway)

Her children rise up and call her blessed…
Proverbs 31:28

…because she threw frozen chicken wings in a crock pot, smothered them with a bottle of barbecue sauce and cooked them on high for four hours selflessly dedicated four hours to cooking perfect, fall off the bone tender chicken wings dripping in finger-licking good sauce.

Prep/Work time? 5 minutes
End result? sticky fingers and happy kids

I’m ALWAYS on the lookout for “dump it in the crock pot and walk away” recipes, so if you have one, LINK UP or post it in a comment!!!

Click on over to check out the recipes at Tempt My Tummy Tuesday hosted by Lisa at Blessed With Grace MY past Tempt My Tummy posts can be found HERE.

Need more? Head over to Tasty Tuesday hosted by Jen at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam MY previous Tasty Tuesday posts are HERE. Tasty Tuesday posts prior to April of 2009 can be found at Forever . . . Wherever

April 25, 2011 Posted by | 5 minutes, food, recipes | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

5 minutes. 1 drawer: would you like chocolate sprinkles with that?

As usual, I don’t have time to devote a full day (or 7) to concentrated spring cleaning, so I’m applying my long time practice of microactions to tackle deep cleaning my kitchen. Today, I had 5 minutes, so I completely emptied and cleaned out the flatware drawer. I forgot to include a clock in the picture to prove that it only took 5 minutes, so you’re just gonna have to trust me.

FIVE minutes.

Includes emptying out the drawer, cleaning the drawer bottom, scrubbing and drying the drawer organizers and reloading the drawer – leaving out the flatware we don’t really use anymore.

What can you clean in 5 minutes?

“AFTER” photo: (“BEFORE” photo below)

Me, to PinkGirl: “Hey, take a look at this silverware drawer. See anything different?”

PinkGirl, crinkling brow, silently stares at the drawer.

Me: “It’s totally clean.”

PinkGirl: “ohhhhhh.”

Me: “So. I have a question. Why was the bottom of this drawer full of chocolate sprinkles?

PinkGirl, grinning: “Funny story….”

ummm hmmm.

(I had already gotten some of the sprinkles out before I remembered to take the photo.)

“BEFORE” photo:

April 25, 2011 Posted by | 5 minutes, freakishly organized, intentional living, laugh! | , , , , , | Leave a comment

penalties or rewards, pleasure or pain.

“Everything you and I do, we do either out of our need to avoid pain or our desire to gain pleasure…

Why don’t you do some of the things you know you should do? After all, what is procrastination? It’s when you know you should do something, but you still don’t do it. Why not? The answer is simple: at some level you believe that taking action in this moment would be more painful than just putting it off…

Why is it that people can experience pain yet fail to change? They haven’t experienced enough pain yet…hit a level of pain you weren’t willing to settle for anymore. We’ve all experienced those times in our lives when we’ve said, I’ve had it – never again – this must change now. This is the magical moment when pain becomes our friend. It drives us to take new action and produce new results.”

Awaken the Giant Within : How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny!
by Anthony Robbins

I hope that the negative consequences I just experienced will be motivating enough for me to never repeat the circumstances that led to them.

I skipped working out yesterday. According to my freakish self-commitment to be a good steward of this body God has blessed me with – which I was foolish smart enough to document on the internet – I had to make up what I skipped. Thank GOD I only skipped one day. I had to do double work today. If I had missed two days…

What happened yesterday that prevented me from working out?


I have no excuse. I just procrastinated and then I got distracted and then I rationalized that I would just make it up tomorrow.

I should not have listened to me. I really, really hope I remember how difficult it is to do TWO 2 minute forearm planks, TWO 1 minute supermans and FORTY Bosu push-ups.

I’m going out of town with PinkGirl to chaperon a field trip on Thursday and Friday. Excuse me while I have a little talk with myself:

“Julie. There is absolutely NO reason you can’t do your plank, superman and regular push-ups on Thursday and Friday. Do you feel your arms right now? Do you really want to go through this again on Saturday? Do NOT wimp out. You WILL regret it if you do. It’s LESS than FIVE minutes a day, for cryin out loud! Don’t be a whiny butt. Just suck it up and get it DONE.”

That said, here’s where I am with regard to my fitness goals for the month of March:

8 two minute forearm planks (caught up)
8 one minute supermans (caught up)
130 BOSU push-ups (doubled my daily goal after 3 days, need to catch up to 160)
17.7 miles walked. (To meet my average of 2.3 per day, I should be at 18.4. Got some catching up to do – and I should try to get a head start on making up Thursday and Friday because I can’t leave my post as chaperon to get my walking in. I’ll try to remember to wear a pedometer during the day as we do field trip stuff)

How are you doing with YOUR fitness goals? If you’re a beginner, I’m challenging you to exercise for only ONE minute per day this month. In April, I’ll tell you why I’m saying only ONE minute.

I’m blogging my daily fitness updates in my exercise log, and posting my daily progress on my Facebook page and my Twitter account, so follow along any way you like:
1. Subscribe to the blog via email or RSS (there are widgets in the sidebar to subscribe)
2. “Like” my Facebook page to see the updates in your news feed or
3. Follow me on Twitter!

I would LOVE it if you would join me in fitness accountability by commenting and letting me know your progress too!

March 8, 2011 Posted by | 5 minutes, books, christian living, fight the frump, health, intentional living, poor me some whine, pros and cons, women | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wassail. revised.

(I originally posted this back in December of 2008, but I’ve made a revision since then. I used to float cloves in a coffee filter, sealed with a twist tie. Not very Martha of me, I know. But I’m reformed. Check out the photo below.)

When I was in high school and college, I sang at a few madrigal dinners. If you’re unfamiliar with madrigal dinners, here’s a sampling. (and no, I’m not in this video).

Wassail Song

One thing was a constant in every madrigal dinner – Wassail. It’s a kind of warm cider drink my choral director would make every year. I’ve made it on Christmas Eve for years. It’s a family favorite and a longstanding tradition. It only takes about 5 minutes to prepare, but allow it to simmer for a couple of hours in the pot if you really want the flavors to blend together.


1/2 gallon apple juice
2 cups pineapple juice
2 cups orange juice
2 cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 orange (optional)

Pour all juices in a pot or crockpot.
Float Cinnamon sticks in the pot.

Here’s the update:
Take an awl and poke holes in an orange in any pattern that strikes you. Then insert the stems of whole cloves in the holes. Float the cloved orange in the pot while simmering.

When it the smell starts to waft, you know it’s gonna be GOOD.


For a print friendly version CLICK HERE.

December 22, 2010 Posted by | 5 minutes, food, holidays, recipes, youtube | , , , , | 2 Comments

no more wax, just a little thread

Until about two years ago, I didn’t think too much about my eyebrows. I plucked an obvious stray every once in a while, but for the most part, ehh.

Until September 6, 2008, when my manicurist abruptly told me I needed a brow wax. kinda harsh, but true. So I gave myself an early birthday present. It completely changed my eyes. I didn’t look tired! Even FirstHusband noticed a difference. I decided right then I was never going back to “natural” eyebrows. (BTW, I no longer have a manicurist. I’ve learned to do a better job, faster and cheaper, with no risk of fungus.)

Problem is, I have sensitive skin. When I put benzoyl peroxide on my face, I get a bright red welt. When I use certain moisturizers or eye makeup, my eyes swell and appear very, very tiny. When I get a brow (and lip) wax, I get lots of tiny clear water blisters that take 2 to 3 days to go away.

Nevertheless, I continued to get the waxing, figuring that a few days of blisters was the price I had to pay for arched brows and an “eyelash free” upper lip.

Until I tried threading. No blisters. Similar pricing. Long lasting. Check it out:

I tried threading a few months ago for the first time when I had my upper lip done. Today, I went back for a little “pick me up” and had my brows done too. Love it. Great shape. So fast – I was in and out of there in about 5 minutes! (Locals, I went to the little shop in the Oviedo Mall near the food court, to the left of the escalators. Can’t miss it. $11 for brows, $7 for upper lip, lasts months.)

(NOTE: My upper lip and brow area are bright red after. I make sure to give myself at least 15 to 20 minutes before I have to see humans. The redness is very noticeable.)

I’m probably going to try do it yourself threading for maintenance, but the speed and preciseness of the professionals can’t be beat for shaping. They can do an entire line at once – and they actually get exactly what they aim for. I’m not that good. I’ll be going for the strays, one or two at a time. Here’s the ebay tutorial that gives me the confidence (or cockiness) to try maintenance myself:

Find more ideas over at Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by Kristen at We Are THAT Family. MY previous Works for Me Wednesday posts are HERE.

Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer.

October 6, 2010 Posted by | 5 minutes, fight the frump, learning curve, women, youtube | , , , , | 1 Comment


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