Friday, January 31, 2014

Wardrobe Project: The Banana Shape

Go Bananas! 
There may be more of us non-Bananas, but there is no larger grouping of any particular shape.

A study of more than 6,000 women conducted at North Carolina State University in 2005 revealed that 46% of women were banana-shaped; just over 20% were pear-shaped; just under 14% were apple-shaped; and only 8% were hourglass-shaped.--Source: Body Type Calculator

Your shape is defined by a waist that is less than 9 inches smaller than either the bust or the hips. You have a smaller bust and slender hips. Your arms and legs are also slender and there is not much definition in the torso. You tend to be considered long and lean.

You will be looking for clothing that will emphasize your understated curves. Your job is to create the curves that your body hints at.

Use pattern and color to make the shape you want!

Waist Not? Want Not!

Select waist lines below your natural waist as this will tend to make your actual waist line look much smaller than it actually is. The dropped waist flapper look, though, might emphasize matters too much. You'll need to try everything on. (See, non-Bananas? Every body has to dress her body!)

Belts are your friend. Belted outfits will create a visual waist for you.

A belted dress with breast pockets
make even this monochromatic number
(usually a Banana no-no) worth a try on!

The Bottom Line

Skinny jeans are a go. Cuffed jeans are fairly safe, but steer clear of cropped pants if they over-exaggerate the long, lean line of your body. In skirts and dresses a knee length and an A-line is flattering. Remember that the character of an outfit changes with the details. Even in the "wrong" category, you may be able to carry it off because of your ability to wear pockets and pleats. Be sure to check the rear view with every choice. You don't want a saggy bottom. Ever.

Skinny jeans will show every curve you've got!


A high neck line makes a smaller bust look fuller, as will going sleeveless. High halters, high scoops and even turtlenecks will flatter your shape. A plunging V or a sweetheart neckline will tend to make you look thinner and smaller than you are. Again, strategically placed ruffles, pockets, and color blocking will help you create volume where you want it.

A turtleneck on a Banana shaped gal is a show stopper!


You can go long, sleeveless, puffy, flowing, short, or capped. It will all depend on how you feel about your arms. Some bananas feel more self conscious about her thin arms. Some want to show them off! It is up to you, really!


Generally, your shape can get away with any shoe. Specifically, it depends on you. Some Bananas have thicker ankles and will want a solid looking heel to balance that. Some can't pull off a kitten heel, some can. Large and clunky might work in a boot for you, but not in a sandal. Don't be shy about trying anything on. Look and see!

The Take Away

Put visual volume where you want volume. Shallow Vs and higher necklines will help! Put your waist below your natural waist and tend to belt. Knee lengths are great. Skinny jeans are your friend. When in doubt, think pleats, pockets, and ruffles!

Gathered fabric and the bold patterning build volume strategically.
The waist is drawn in. The neckline is higher.
This is an awesome choice for a Banana!

For more ideas and tips follow my Banana Shape Fashion board on Pinterest!

Not Your Shape?

Exorcisms, Valentine's Day, and Renovations: 7 Quick Takes

Site of recent exorcism.

This story about an exorcism got quite a bit of traction in the blogosphere this week.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker blogger at Standing on my Head

Fr. Dwight Longenecker wrote about it and the lessons to be learned…I was especially interested in his comments on the need for Catholic intervention when dealing with evil.

This was the first exorcism
ever permitted by Bishop Dale Melczek.

Sue Brinkmann at Women of Grace discussed the exorcism, too.


Here's my take over at Deeper Truth Blog.

On a completely different note, if you need Valentine's Day Ideas, check out Sheila's blog. I highly recommend the Dice Game. Highly.

Did I say highly? Highly.


In all our remodeling we have found School House Electric. We're fantasizing about buying everything, but especially this chandelier. What do you think?

There are two types of posts that I struggle with my inner critic when I am writing. I am always tempted at some point in the composition or the editing to simply move the entire post to the trash icon. Both of those posts are seemingly unrelated. One type is the ones on evil and its influence on the world. I always hesitate to discuss my background and how it has made me sensitive to such things. It is embarrassing, frankly. The other? It's my marriage advice posts. I struggle with writing those, too. I have the same embarrassed desire to just forget the whole thing. What can you make of that?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Blogging about the Grammys

I'm blogging at my friends' blog again today. Before you ask, no I'm not obsessed with evil. It's just that John Benko, the founder of Deeper Truth is toying around with writing a book on the topic, so of course we've been discussing it a lot. You tend to write about what you're discussing, so there you go. Another evil blog post. This time he asked me to check out the Grammy Awards and give my opinion on Katy Perry's performance.

Go check it out!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Marriage Doesn't Fulfill You, It Transforms You

When I was only 14 my great grandmother gave me the greatest piece of advice I ever received about marriage. She said, "You don't start being married until you threaten to go home and he threatens to let you. Then you settle in." From that I learned that it's tough, but that it's also doable. I also learned that a sense of humor about it all never hurt either.

Nowadays, we have many silly ideas about marriage. We think that it is going to fulfill us, complete us, make us happy, and if it doesn't we're free to go. It may surprise you to learn marriage isn't designed for fulfillment. Marriage is a vocation, not a hobby or a real life version of a feel good summer movie.

Marriage is designed to tear down all your imperfections and build you into a new being: a married person. Marriage was meant to completely transform your heart from its self centered, self serving existence into a heart who loves and serves Christ first and Christ completely via service to a spouse and then via service to the children that come of the union.

We modern thinkers have forgotten that heart surgery always hurts. Always.

The good news is that you can and will find all that fulfillment and happiness you are looking for. The bad news is that you won't find that person who meets your every need and completes you in your spouse. You'll find that in the Eucharist Lord and in prayer and nowhere else.

What you will find in your spouse is a flawed human person. If this person is willing to hold your hand when you get that 3 a.m. phone call (those are never good) or who will scrape the ice off your windshield each and every winter, you've got something pretty good. So what if the trash never makes it to the curb on time on trash day?

If you take your marriage as the gift that it is rather than the ideal that you want, you just might discover you have something everyone else is longing for: a person committed to a life with you. You are loved and you love. That in itself is a miracle. The vows you took ensure that two flawed people can manage to pull the rabbit out of the hat day after day. That's really the magic of a life long marriage: the ancient art of never ever stopping being married.

My advice might not be as good as my great grandmother's, but it's this: don't expect so much from your marriage. Expect the best from God and make room for all the rest. You're a flawed person married to another flawed person. This is a person you can love and honor and serve all the days of your life because you love God so much that you'll keep your promise to Him through him.


This has been a Wifey Wednesday post. For an even wifier Wednesday click on over to To Love Honor and Vacuum!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Posting at Deeper Truth today

I'm posting over at Deeper Truth today about evil, exorcism, and messing with the occult. How salacious!*

Messing with Evil: Lessons from an Exorcism

Cue the creepy music!

*Just kidding. The post is more scintillating than salacious, really.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Because it is Monday

West Virginia pops up in the 1860s due to the Civil War, but what's going on in Oklahoma in the 1890s?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Birth Control Article

Pretty clear article. Here's the teaser to get you to click through…

Today's injunctions against birth control were re-affirmed in a 1968 document by Pope Paul VI called Humanae Vitae.  He warned of four results if the widespread use of contraceptives was accepted:
  • General lowering of moral standards
  • A rise in infidelity, and illegitimacy
  • The reduction of women to objects used to satisfy men. 
  • Government coercion in reproductive matters. 
Sound familiar?

Read more:

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Making a Good White Gravy in 3 Easy Steps

Texas is known for it's white gravy, so it's imperative that a transplant like me get it right. I've made gravy using drippings. I've made it using olive oil. I've made gravy since I was a little girl, and I've never made gravy like this. The buttery flavor can not be matched in my book.

The trick to making good gravy, it turns out, is to preheat the milk and don't let your roux scorch. Julia Child taught me that. Here's her recipe from her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

This is a restaurant quality white gravy for topping mashed potatoes or a chicken fried steak. For true Texas style, add cooked ground hamburger to the gravy and serve it over drop biscuits.

White Gravy

2 Tb butter
3 Tb flour
2 cups of milk with 1/4 tsp salt heated to boiling
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat 2 cups of milk with 1/4 tsp salt in the microwave or in a saucepan until just boiling. Keep at that temperature without reaching an active boil.
  2. Make the roux: in a saucepan melt the butter over low heat. Blend in the flour and cook slowly, stirring until the butter and flour froth together for 2 minutes without coloring. Remove from heat. 
  3. When the roux stops boiling, pour in all the hot salted milk at once. Beat vigorously with wire whisk to blend, gathering all bits of roux from the edges of the pan. Set saucepan over moderately high heat and stir with the wire whisk until the sauce comes to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Friday, January 17, 2014

7 Ways to Help Foster Children in Your Area

My husband and I have been foster parents (and adoptive and birth parents) since 2002. This past week we attended training to become teachers of future foster parents. We are so excited to pass on everything we have learned through the years and are looking forward to learning so much more. We all know that it is a Christian duty and privilege to help the neediest among us with our talents and abilities. With this post, I would like to present some ideas for you to consider helping the needy foster children in our communities.

What does a foster family look like?
Just like any other family,
It looks like love!

#1 Become a foster parent!

Of course the very best way you could help foster children would be to become a well trained, compassionate, and enthusiastic foster parent but not everyone has that option. There are numerous reasons why you might not be able to become a foster parent, but there is no reason why everyone in our communities can't help out foster children in some way.

There are other ways to help foster children 
even if you can't be a foster parent:

#2 Become a respite care giver

If your circumstances don't allow you to be a full time foster parent, is it possible that you could become a part-time foster parent? Is your life structured so that you could take in a child for a few days on occasion? There is a tremendous need for qualified people able to care for foster children temporarily while their regular foster families are unable to. They are suddenly faced with an unexpected business trip or a hospital stay, for example. You'd think it'd be easy for any family to find child care in such a situation, via a relative or a family friend, but it really isn't. Due to the licensing and background check requirements for anyone who cares for foster children, many foster families are unable to come up with temporary alternative care. 

That is why there is a pool of qualified, part time people who are pre-certified and willing to step in. They go through all the necessary training and background checks to become a foster parent, and then they simply wait for a phone call from foster families in their area who need them. Contact your local child protection agency and find out more about the requirements needed to become a respite care provider.

#3 Become involved in annual holiday gift drives.

The holidays are especially hard on foster children in care.

Each year, local child protection agencies take down information about their foster children and present it to Toys for Tots or other organizations to ensure that needy children in foster care are provided with necessities and gifts during the Holidays. People just like you get involved by donating money, going shopping, wrapping presents, or delivering them to the agency or child. Call your local department of child welfare and see when these activities begin in your area and what you can do as a volunteer. 

#4 Donate, Donate, Donate

When kids come into care, they often only come with the clothes on their backs (and sometimes not even that). Not only do they need clothing, all the little daily necessities of life need to be provided: toothbrushes, toothpaste, socks, underclothes, jackets, shoes, combs and brushes, hair ties and clips, diapers and wipes. Each child protection agency usually has a resource room for social workers to provide a change of clothing for a child newly entering the foster care system, so call your local office about the types of items that are needed and the procedure for making a donation.

Our local agency in Amarillo takes gently used items. Yours may, too. If you don't have a favorite charity that you donate your old children's items to already, seriously consider donating to your local foster care agency.

#5 Scrapbooking!

Making a scrapbook helps foster children maintain continuity.

"Scrapbooking?" Yes, scrapbooking. Children in care need to have connections with their family of origin. They need that tangible reminder of who they are and where they came from. Even if circumstances were bad enough for them to be placed into care, kids love their mommies. They miss their home, their friends, their old class at school. Those of us involved in foster care try to keep up a scrap book with pictures, letters, and reminders of their history. Is scrapbooking your thing? Could you help a child with updating her Lifebook or could you organize a scrapbooking workshop for several children? Some children who come in and out of care need to have their books recreated and others need to get started on one. If you love to scrapbook, we in the foster care world would love to have your help! Call your local agency and offer your talents!

#6 Spread the word!

In our communities, there are people who would make great foster parents but they've never even considered the option. They've never knowingly met a foster child or a foster parent, so it has simply never crossed their mind to get involved. We need your help reaching them! Become a foster advocate. Post information on upcoming trainings on your Facebook and Twitter pages. Post this article! Talk about foster care at your church!

#7 Be a great parent!
Work on your marriage and keep those intergenerational ties strong!

Finally, the best way to help children is to be the best parent you can be to your own children. Be a loving parent and raise up a new generation of loving parents. Help ensure that the circumstances that generate children in need of foster care don't exist in your little corner of the world.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Household Bill Binder Filing System: I gave up files and it worked

My filing systems prior to 2013 involved file folders, filing cabinets, and boxes. Despite all my resolutions, my foreknowledge of the consequences, my various talents, and my best intentions, my system inevitably resulted in nearly empty files and overwhelmingly overflowing piles. Every March my neat inbox tray from January had morphed into a monster pile of paid bills, unpaid bills, incoming mail, warranty information, articles my husband brought home from work, receipts, bank statements, cute kid drawings, and the like.
A photographic interpretation of my desk in midsummer.

This mess would be swept into a large cardboard box at random intervals throughout the year whenever my husband despaired of seeing my desktop ever again or when out of town company was expected. Every year it was the same blasted story: after a spate of filing in January and on a good year even into February, I wouldn't file regularly and I would simply sort through and file a bunch of papers around April when the tax bug hit and around September when the desire to start the school year with a clean slate would also hit.

An abstract art representation of my old filing system.

September 2012, after nearly 13 years of failing at filing, I looked up from my pile of sorting on the floor in my kitchen and finally admitted to myself that filing was not something I would ever do. Though I could file I tended not to file. That was simply that. I needed a new system. I needed something I would actually do. After an entire day digging myself out of my paperwork mess one last time (I vowed), I did a quick Pinterest search for something that would help me with the tendency to do this...

Still not my desk from that era, but an actual pile in progress here.(Do you seriously think I would photograph that old mess?)

I found something promising but I didn't want to make much fanfare over the new system until I actually tried it out for a year. Well, yesterday I cleared out my binder from 2013 and I am all set to begin working on totaling the exemptions for my 2013 taxes whenever I wish. This is the first time in…um…ever that I have been able to put my hands on an entire year's worth of tax exempt receipts without digging through a box first.

The only variation on the system is that though I filed my medical invoices in the binder, the little medical and prescription receipts were filed away in a Ziplock baggie tacked up on the inside of a closet door. They are all there, ready to be taken out and totaled! It's January and I am not staring at a pile or a box or a mess.

Let me say further that the system worked despite the fact that by August I got a bit lazy with it. Any system that doesn't spiral into disaster but continues to function relatively well even when the user doesn't follow it religiously is a system indeed.

So, after a year of using it, I'm ready to share the system and a photo of my desk.

My desk and inbox this very day!
(I moved the inbox so you could see it.)
Remember as you gaze upon my mess…
  • I haven't really filed since August.
  • I haven't paid my bills yet.
  • I need to enter last month's receipts into the register.
  • This is as messy as it ever gets!

I would never share a photograph my desk from a year ago--in fact I never even took a picture of it--but here is my proof that the system works. Interested in looking into it? Well, here is a teaser of the page and system. Click the title to visit the blog, Echoes of Laughter to learn more.

The Absolute Easiest Way To Track, Pay & Organize Your Household Bills...No Filing Involved!

For years, I kept our household bills filed in file folders in a file box..... just like hundreds of other people.
Let me also confess that I have gone through periods in my life where bills were 'filed' in a grocery bag hanging on the back of the bedroom door. 
Yep. Sad but true.
I have seen many examples of how to organize & 'file' bills around blogland lately.
But I want to share with you a different way.
 Two years ago I switched to this method...and I like it much better.
And here's another dirty little secret about me....although I love to organize... I HATE, with a capital 'H',  filing!
I like not having to go through different files to find things or put them away.
This system helps me avoid that!
Let me introduce the Household Bill Binder.
It's a simple method..... it's fast and it works.
I just get out the binder when I am ready to sit at the computer to make on-line payments with our bank.
And then I put the binder away. No filing!