Grandma Susan’s Almanac Calendar is an informal monthly journal that encourages homemakers to do more things for themselves - crafts, handiwork, “from-scratch” cooking, gardening, and other domestic arts. Grandma's motto is: "Let's work together to improve our lives by simple living, self-reliance, maintaining our religious faith, and sharing the blessings of life with others."

 

 Saying of the month 

"Before green apples blush, Before green nuts embrown, Why, one day in the country Is worth a month in town."           - Christina G. Rossetti

July, 2010

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
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New Moon     First Quarter      Full Moon      Last Quarter
Jul 11/13:40   Jul 18/04:11    Jul 25/19:37    Aug  2/22:59   

U.S. Central Standard Time

 

 Some Bible verses for July

 "Some of you say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to some city. We will stay there a year, do business, and make money.' But you do not know what will happen tomorrow! Your life is like a mist. You can see it for a short time, but then it goes away. So you should say, 'If the Lord wants, we will live and do this or that.'  (James 4:13-17)

 

 Recommended reading for July

Power Through Constructive Thinking, Emmet Fox

 PAGE CONTENTS

Some Bible verses for July        

             *****    

Saying of the month

                *****

Reading recommendation

            *****

Why you don't need a wide-screen TV

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 Knit a triangular prayer shawl

               *****                          

Do you need a broom closet?

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"From scratch" recipe of the month - Vegetarian black bean chili

WHY YOU DON'T NEED A WIDE-SCREEN TV

Since the 1990's, a stunning collection of new technology has hit the TV market. Twenty years ago, everyone had a traditional cathode ray tube set (CRT). Now it is hard to find any of these being sold in the stores. The large screen sets are considered to be the latest and best, providing features like greater size, better picture quality and modern sleek design. They are also part of a "must have" competition among families and neighbors for what's considered the latest contemporary home décor.

Now, before you go into some store or showroom and allow yourself to become infatuated with a wide-screen TV, take a look at some reasons for not buying a new set.

High price
The wide-screen TV is new technology and expensive. While it now costs somewhat less than it did just a few years ago, nevertheless, the price of a big set-screen is twice to three times that of a good CRT TV. Besides, you probably already have one or more working CRT TVs in your home, and you wouldn't even consider buying another one, if it weren't for the chance to employ the latest viewing technology.

This is a serious issue to consider. We are going through an important economic recession and, if you're like most of us, it's hard to find enough money for necessary things, much less for our things on our wish list. Wide-screen TVs are big-ticket items - anywhere from $800 to $2000. Furthermore, most people only obtain such an expensive item because it is made "affordable" by putting it on a credit card. If your monthly credit card bills are already a problem, such a big purchase may send you over your ability to pay.

Questionable technology
While very attractive, new technology TVs have certain disadvantages, and here are some. First, in order to watch the big sets correctly, you must sit right in front of the unit and not move around too much or you won't get the benefit of the better picture quality. (That wasn't so much of a problem with the CRT.) Second, many of these new sets will produce unreliable images, such as uneven brightness and convergence issues. For these reasons, there is constant change in the technology, and today's great set may be tomorrow's obsolete one.

Also, who knows why, but some manufacturers have cut back their warranties from two years to one. The reasons might be related to the known fact that this type of TV is fragile and the units are easily damaged. They need extreme care while handling, moving, and mounting. Some experts say that the life span of higher technology TVs is only half of what the CRT had. When it comes to energy use, set size is important. On average, the plasma sets use twice the electricity of CRTs. And, any

 

increase in screen size, regardless of technology, makes a big difference in energy consumption. The new sets also consume some power even when they're not on. So, just adding an extra TV set to the home can add significantly to your total power consumption.

Home organization disaster
First of all, it's likely that your living or family room will suffer from a lack of balance, when you put a huge TV set in it. The big sets take up a lot of room in themselves, and you also have to display or house them in some fashion. So, there may be the need to make another purchase of a large table or media center, just for accommodating the new TV.  

The big sets also need a lot of distance between you and them, if you're to do correct viewing. For example, you need to be 10 to 14 feet in front of a 42-inch screen for optimal viewing. Many small rooms don't have that much space. While sitting the right distance from your TV is important for proper viewing, you don't want to sit too close either, because these TVs give off low-level radiation.

Consideration about room lighting is also important. Direct sunlight in the room creates a lot of glare on new technology TVs. Viewing angle is another factor that affects a TV's image. Your TV will look its best when viewed straight on, at a height where your eyes are level with the middle of the screen. So, you can forget about multi-tasking while watching TV. Activities like ironing, cutting up veggies, or exercising can't easily be done unless you can strategically place yourself in the right position to view the TV.

Too many hours of TV viewing
A huge body of scientific evidence indicates that the TV has become an unhealthy addiction for millions of people. So having a bigger, better TV set may mean more hours of family viewing. Do you actually want to sit, or watch your family sit, for more hours glued to the TV? Probably not, given that television is a medium that invites passivity and magnifies our compulsion to involve ourselves in an over-simplistic and consumer-based world.

And, all that TV viewing doesn't leave many hours for family get togethers for sports, games, conversation, supervised homework, crafts, etc. It's no wonder that many parents have poor communication with their children. There just isn't enough time. TV viewing seems to be more important, and the purchase of a wide-screen set just reinforces that viewpoint.

 KNIT A TRIANGULAR PRAYER SHAWL

Here’s a practical pattern for a shawl that can be made up in about a week, working a couple of hours per day. Since this is a fairly long wrap, it can be made as a prayer shawl. Of course, if you want to, this same pattern can be made to use only as a warm wrap -- and not as a prayer shawl.

As mentioned in an earlier page on needlecraft, here, I give only the most general ideas about how to go about these projects. They are not full instructions, but  general guides, given to encourage you to knit or crochet simple garments and other useful things for the home. Besides, once you get motivated, you will find dozens of detailed patterns on the Internet for knitting and crocheting almost anything that you can think of.

Why knit a prayer shawl?

Persons of many religions, including Christians, Jews, and Buddhists, wear prayer shawls. They are special wraps draped over the shoulders or head when praying or attending religious services. (If it is very warm, they can be held on the lap for seated prayer or simply laid out folded and touched during prayer.)

Prayer shawls help to focus the wearer on prayer, serving to mentally seal off outside influences and promoting a sense of calm and purposefulness during prayer. Sometimes prayer shawls are knitted for other people who need special support as they face illnesses or other serious problems in life.

The Jewish prayer shawl is usually rectangular, rather long, and made with particular symbolic colors. Christians, on the other hand, can use prayer shawls of any size, shape or color (preferably subdued colors, of course).

Shawl description

The triangular shawl described here, is one that I made. It follows a very simple pattern and goes fast with thicker needles. I used size 13 circular needles and worsted weight yarn in 2 shades of medium blue, which I found in my project leftovers bag. Although I didn’t use full skeins, my best guess is that this shawl can be knitted with about 16 ounces of worsted weight yarn, worked in double strand. 

My shawl turned out to be about 36 inches long and 64 inches wide. I used only knit stitch (K) throughout and yarn over (YO) for the increases. YO is the action of wrapping the yarn around the needle -- in this case in the direction of a knitted stitch ---and creating a small loop. The YO gives a finished, lace-look to the edges.

If it’s not a special garment for prayer, you can knit it in any length, color or combination of colors that you like. You can make it for yourself and it makes a great gift for a family member or friend. When it's not being worn, it can be draped  over a small table or chest of drawers.

Instructions
Begin this shawl at the triangle top, casting on three stitches. K four rows, front and reverse. From there on work two increases in every other row. To do this:
K 1, then YO once and K to the next to last stitch, then YO and K the last stitch. Increases are on the front side. The reverse rows are only K stitches.

Repeat this pattern and when your shawl is almost as long and wide as you like, then K four consecutive rows and bind off the stitches. The bound edge will be the base of the triangle, and the shawl is complete.

If you like you can put a simple fringe on the edges of your shawl, made with the same or contrasting yarn. You can also crochet a decorative edge. Choose a simple edge pattern. Remember you should always crochet edges on the front side and start at the bottom of the shawl to do the edging. There are plenty of instructions for making fringes and decorative edges on the Internet.

When the edge is finished, weave in any ends of yarn. Wash the shawl in warm water, towel dry it, and block it by pinning it to a towel, laid out flat.  As it dries, check it to make sure that it maintains its triangular shape.

 DO YOU NEED A BROOM CLOSET?

If you live in a really small house like ours, or in an apartment, your home probably doesn’t have a lot of closets. Most tiny homes lack conventional storage areas, such as a laundry room, pantry, basement, and garage. Because there is so little storage space, it’s hard to find the right spot for essential items. And even necessary things become clutter when they're not organized. This is particularly true for cleaning equipment, such as brooms, mops, vacuums, buckets, and dusters.

If you lack closets, you’ve probably tried putting cleaning equipment alternately, in the kitchen and in the bathroom, but those rooms aren't very big either. And, keeping cleaning things out for everyone to see is not attractive. What you need is a broom closet. Of course, if your home is small, you haven’t got any space to build a regular closet, and that’s precisely the problem. You may have been doing what I did when I first moved in. After using the broom, mop, and bucket, I put them in the bathroom behind the shower curtain. They were out of sight most of the time, but my husband and I had to remove them every time we wanted to take a shower. So, that wasn’t a very good solution to the problem.

After considering our storage needs, we decided to build a wall-hung cabinet that would serve as our “broom closet". Here’s a description of the "broom closet" project that didn’t involve a lot of fancy carpentry and was done in one afternoon.

Basically, what we did was make a long, narrow wall cabinet.  The cabinet is at my back when I work at the kitchen sink. Our cabinet isn’t a “hidden” broom closet, but it is unobtrusive and fits into the limited space that we have.

For the front, there wasn’t any room to open a regular kind of door, and sliding or bi-fold doors aren’t very practical on such a narrow cabinet. I just put up an attractive curtain from the front part of the top shelf, and it hangs to the bottom of the cabinet. The curtain gives me the advantage of easy access to everything in the cabinet. I’ve even put a tiny trashcan on the bottom shelf, and the bag of dog food also sits there.

Here’s how we did it. We took 2 shelves and hung them, 80” and 70” from the floor. The shelves are pieces of plywood, 12”, deep, by 16”,

wide. We attached 2 other pieces of plywood, 12”, wide, by 62”, long, to the sides of the shelves and to the wall. We boxed in the wall cabinet with a bottom shelf, the same size as the others.  The cabinet sits 8” off the floor, for easy cleaning below. We didn’t put  any back on the cabinet. (All the pieces were cut to measure at the store where we purchased the wood.) 

We installed inexpensive hooks (the kind that hold pots and pans on a utensil rack) as hangers for brooms, mops, and dusters. Cleaning supplies are stored in caddies on the top shelf: one for bathroom products, the kitchen cleansers in another, and a third holds floor cleaning supplies.

Now, with an organized “broom closet”, I feel more cheerful about cleaning the house. I know where everything is that I need for cleaning. Best of all, I know just where to store it when I get finished

"FROM-SCRATCH" RECIPE FOR JULY

Vegetarian black bean chili

Boil 2 cups of black beans in 2 quarts of water with 1 teaspoon of salt for 1 hour over medium high heat. From time to time, check to see if more water is necessary. When beans are tender, drain them, leaving only 1 cup of bean liquid.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add a cup of cut up onions, 1 chopped bell pepper and 2 minced garlic cloves. Cook onion and green pepper mixture until golden brown.

In a large pot, add the onion and green pepper mixture, along with the black beans, 3 ripe tomatoes cut up, 1 jalapeno pepper (remove seeds), 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth, 2 tablespoons of chili powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. Boil mixture for 1/2 hour over low heat, stirring occasionally.

Serve hot in soup bowls with shredded lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese, and sour cream, on top.

 

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