Archive for the ‘housekeeping’ Category

I love that I hung these decorations across the kitchen window. It’s so homey to me, I can switch around what I clip up there, it’s cheap/free, and it’s portable (since we rent).

The wedding bell in the center is because March is our anniversary month!


I also crossed a big hurdle today: cleaning the girls’ room. We went through and purged, sorted, stored the toy box, threw away a bunch of stuff-we-are-done-with. It wasn’t anything major, but for that room, it was a good thing to do. I still need to go through and make a complete list of jobs that will pretty entirely clean that room (like wiping doors down). I also noted that the girls don’t have great clothes-keeping places, so I might tuck that in the back of my mind for a nice purchase if we see something like a dresser.

Onward ho!


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So, in one of the books I’m studying this year about hospitality, the author mentioned putting aside a cache of stuff for guests, like clean towels and sheets, so they’re always ready. It’s brilliant because I find myself scrambling sometimes when it’s unexpected overnight guests.

So, I started the collection a few days back when I saw sets of towels on sale in the mall. I bought two sets (a large and small towel in each set). Cost about $6 each.

To that idea, I recently added toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, and then some nuts and chocolate as snacks. The only thing I still need to get a handle on is having a set of clean sheets– I need to buy a duvet set and keep it separate and clean for guests, I think. And some water bottles. Not everything is necessary, but it’s just nice and friendly. Welcoming.

About 2 years ago, I started praying that we could have more hospitality opportunities, like people spending the night, and it’s been interesting seeing that prayer answered! The girls are helping me with this guest project now and asking who will come, and I say, I’m praying– we’ll see who God sends!

Here are photos of what I’ve done so far (I’m storing things in gift bags, as I have a lot of those):






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I’ve started preparing the Lord’s supper supplies for our church lately, as we’ve had a bit of a gap in this ministry. It revolved to Vitaliy, and he was gone, so I was making sure it got done.

I actually like doing it. We take Lord’s supper the first Sunday of each month, during the morning service. Our church only has a morning service all together (for the whole week), since we rent the hall in the House of Culture for meetings.

The supplies are kept locked in the somewhat-large safe that in the storage closet the House of Culture supplies our church (for all the AWANA supplies, nursery, etc.)

Anyway, in Ukraine, a cross-stitched cloth is spread out under the bread and juice display. We have two cross-stitched cloths, and I noticed that one was very dirty, a bit stained, and not ironed. So I brought it home.

In my homemaking skills studies this year, I’m doing more with laundry stain remover. (Not all my experimenting has been successful, I will note.)


So I soaked the cloth overnight in cool water with the whites stain remover. I scrubbed the spot with the deep stain. And it all got really clean! and none of the thread colors ran out! So I ironed it, folded it, and stored it in a clean, large, sealable baggy. I think I will keep them both in this baggy, as they were just open in the safe laying there. … Trying to get this ministry’s supplies well organized so that it can be easily passed on soon.

(We also wash and re-use the little communion cups, as we have to order them from the States.)

The cross-stitched words say “do this in remembrance of Me.”



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Sausage is a thing here. You know, buterbrod (bread, butter, cheese, sausage– or some combination of that).

So, I mentioned to Vitaliy’s mom that I’d like to try making sausage. There are just a lot of chemicals added to the store sausage. And I knew people here  did magic like this, like making your own sausages.

She wasted no time. She arrived yesterday with washed pig colons (she washed them, Thank her for doing that!) and her manual meat grinder.

I supplied the chicken breast and pig meat. She cut everything into small pieces. At first, I didn’t understand why she did this– I though, shucks, the meat grinder will mix it all up, why are you cutting it? But then I realized that you have to feed already-mixed-up stuff through the grinder right into the colon so it feeds into the colon in mixed up chunks and not huge chunks of chicken, then huge chunks of pig, etc.

So, our recipe was diced chicken, diced pig meat, garlic–pressed, salt and pepper. (I want to experiment with more spices later, but this was a calm recipe suitable for children’s stomachs.)

She set up the grinder on the table. We split the work–one grinds and ties the thread on the ends of the sausages, the other feeds the meat into the grinder and guides the filling of the colon. I said I would grind and tie. But we needed to wait for the KievEnergo guy to come and check out our electricity counter… Then we could get started. It’s a process better not to stop until it’s done.

Here’s how it went:

Putting the colon onto the grinder so the meat could feed through (while gradually pulling the colon off the grinder as it fills).



Woo Hoo!!! Grinding is fun!


Then I pricked holes in the colons (so they wouldn’t puff up and explode while boiling). Then they boiled for an hour.


Then she fried them, then we ATE! We didn’t eat all of them, but I see that they can disappear pretty fast around here. Tastes great!


And there we go!

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I realized today, after cleaning the kitchen floor well, that I’m getting the warm fuzzies for my kitchen. In all my years of homemaking in Ukraine, I’ve never had this. So. Let’s have a little party.

Well, OK. Let’s not have a little party, but let’s at least record the moment!!

My heart ornament from my birthday party ornament exchange–hung above the stove–oh, and there’s a part of my heart right below it, too!

20160123_130603I love these colorful rugs!


A Bible verse on the windowsill– reminded of the time in my life when I lived this verse: “God is my portion forever.”


Notes, cards, pictures– hung across the window–I like the friendly busyness.


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As follow-up, on these planning forms, there is a place for a bit of evaluation of how it went and what to do differently.


Here is what I noticed:

  1. As far as I can tell, the food was awesome. Menu: Pineapple-glazed ham, mashed potatoes, Korean carrot salad, beet salad (with nuts and prunes). This was a mix of American-Ukrainian that worked. The ham dish is traditional American, and the others were Ukrainian. It was all well-consumed and hugely praised. Thank You, God.
  2. They didn’t mind the buffet-style. I was a tad interested in this, as my friend who is a missionary in neighboring Georgia said that her guests pretty much refuse to eat buffet-style and re-set-up with the table in the middle, tightly spaced and all. It Must Be That Way, apparently, in Georgia. I forgot to ask Vitaliy, and he said nothing when we started, so I brought it up as a topic of conversation, asking if it was OK. They answered that it’s not their way, nationally, but they don’t mind it.
  3. The house was a good level of clean, for me. There was mess in the kitchen from cooking, but the current dishes were washed. And things were picked up well throughout the house–that’s a challenge with Una throwing things all over the place. She was asleep when they all arrived, so that gave us time to get the floors hazard-free. I also wiped down the toilet, but I didn’t get to the sink in the bathroom. It had some paint smears still on the sink from last night’s painting escapade. Oh well, I guess.

Saturday was my prep day, and I realized that I would be staying home Sunday morning with Andre and Una as they are both coughing again, so I could relax more on Saturday and not try to get everything done.


Here was my challenge, and I did pretty well. I’m determined that my experiments in housekeeping and hospitality will not torture my family. I want the process, the entire process, to be enjoyable for us all. Yesterday tested that. I awoke with big plans of what I needed to get done, and we were hosting Ladies’ Bible Study that night too.

So, I need to start factoring Vitaliy’s spontaneity into my plans. Around 9am (or later?) on Saturday, he started talking about taking Skyla and Vika ice skating. (School keeps us pretty rigid this year, so weekend spontaneity should be a planned thing, I guess.)

My Saturday plans became a lot of just being with Andre and Una. It was actually pretty fine. I got things set up in the living room. I made a salad. But I wanted to make a desert for Bible study and thought I needed to get to the store for buttermilk (or a substitute). But after a while, I found the same recipe with ingredients I had on hand. There were a few moments when I calmed myself down and reminded myself that I wasn’t going to be unpleasantly demanding things from  the family during my learning and life in general, and the hospitable spirit would be going all along and not just when guests walk in, and ice skating is a great thing to do with dad, and he’s leaving for a month soon …


I postponed my shopping until after Bible study. Kind of late, but since I was home Sunday morning, it was fine.

Skyla was appointed to stay home and help me this am. We peeled potatoes and beets, sliced ham, sliced bread, mashed potatoes, made sauces and stirred them, set stuff out on the table, kept Una and Andre entertained.

People came, I was calm, got things out in a good way, we ate. Some who were going to leave quickly stayed a bit longer to try the food. The man who organizes the mission trips is extremely gregarious, so that was fun, and his wife is so nice, too! We photographed ourselves (this is pretty Ukrainian perhaps).

Then we who remained had coffee or tea and peach cobbler and cookies and talked a while about stuff.


Dishes washed!


Things to improve: Screens. They are so everywhere. They need to be somehow contained. Or handled with a plan.

I’m still thinking about how to help the kids with politeness skills. They are all pretty quiet and non-smiling with first-time enterers. Thinking about how to handle this, some of it might be a matter of time, but we can be talking about it, too.

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In this book, by the same authors


The Christian Homemaker’s Handbook

they put a form for planning an event. It’s looks like this:



sorry it’s sideways– it used to be easy to edit that, but now I’m not sure how….


I have my first two “events” this weekend (Ladies’ Bible Study tonight and lunch tomorrow) so I went through these pages and just made some lists of things and got ideas of how to arrange the furniture and stuff.


So, I started today by cleaning up the living room in ways I normally don’t. Details and time. These are things I usually skimp on, BUT not now. This is Real Life University. And it’s a lot of fun, hands-on learning 🙂

Dusted! I could count on one hand how many times I’ve dusted in the last 12 years …. OK, slight exaggeration, but … not too far from the truth. But this cabinet really needed it. It had a thick layer of dust on the glass shelves. I also put some family photos inside and cleared out some books that made it look junky.


Some of Vitaliy’s artwork was laying in there, so I hung them in small places.


And I dusted around the computer, which always needs dusting. And rubbed old tape off the glass in a few places. Straightened books and stuff.


Moved furniture. Thinking this through, I’ve decided to do a buffet-style lunch instead of trying to cram us all in around a center table. It’s just so tight. I think circular seating with a long table to serve oneself might work better. Going to try it, if Vitaliy’s game with it.


I even gently ironed some wrinkles out of that green tablecloth. Before, I would’ve just let it go. Yes, it was a pain to get iron out and I nearly killed the computer trying to find a way to get it plugged into some outlet, BUT I did it!

I’m also praying about ways to include the kids. They are at such helpful ages. But I am not sure. I’m going to let it be spontaneous requests this time. Maybe plan out their tasks for other events, when I have a better idea of what I want them to help with.

Hoping to get salads made now, and clean the kitchen while Una sleeps….. But, we’ll see what happens 🙂

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