Blog Archive

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

knitting and reading

I am knitting Emma's shawl.  All was going well last week after I cast on.  The pattern was easy and I could mindlessly work on it while I tended to other parts of our day (mainly school with the kids).  Well, that all changed when I realized I had been skipping a yarn over in the pattern.  I tried to fix it when I realized what I had done, tried to make it work, unfortunately it just wasn't going to work.  I ended up ripping it all out and starting again.  So technically this should be at least twice as long as it actually is.  I've learned the error of my ways and have moved to not knitting while trying to do school with the kids!

My reading has been going great!  I finished up 7 by Jen Hatmaker.  Wow, what a powerful book.  There was so much in that book that resonated with me - the same as her book Interrupted.  I have read so much non-fiction this year, I am going to need to take a weekend and let out all of my thoughts on paper I think!

I just started The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner.  It is part of the Bloom Book Study for this month.  I am enjoying it so far.  She put in an awful lot of time for research on this book, which is interesting.  There are loads of quotes from other women who are trying to find those moments for the self-care that we all desperately need, but tend to put off until everyone else is taken care of.  It is pretty eye-opening, like most of my reading this year.

What are you working on this week?  And reading?  Please give me some fiction recommendations!!  I may end up reading only non-fiction this year if I don't find a good novel to get lost in!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Home Binder Makeover

I have wanted to update my home binder for quite some time now.  I keep saying that I am going to do it, and then I remember that I have a little baby and two older ones whom I want to spend my time with instead.  However, now that the dust has settled a bit and we are making our way into a new routine, I figured it would be the perfect time to update it.

If you think that I have already completed this project, you would be mistaken.  I am writing this update in real time!

First, you need supplies.  I use a three inch binder.  I like that it is large so I have plenty of space to put more paper in.  As long as the paper is organized, I am happy to have it in my life!  I also have tab pages to separate out each category, or section, that I am using.  I like to include pocket folders as well, to hold things like recipes and other pages I might take from magazines.  Lined paper and printer paper are the last two big items that I need.  I print out a lot of pages for the binder, and I also like to have loose leaf paper available for me to jot down whatever I need.

I am starting to think about what categories I need in my home binder.  My previous home binder had a lot of categories – one of which was coupons, and I do not use coupons, so that will be deleted!  I don’t want the binder to be overwhelming.  It needs to function well and not be intimidating.

If there is too much information, no matter how well it is laid out and put together, it will not be used.

The categories that I have come up with are as follows:

Daily Planning Sheet

I use the daily planning sheet pretty much every day.  It is something that I like to prepare the night before, just so that I have an idea with where I am going in the morning. 

The fewer decisions I make, the easier it is for me to complete what needs to be completed.

On the daily docket, I have my rhythm for the day – essentially what I want to accomplish and about the times that I plan to do those things.  If Emma has piano lessons, I will put that in the rhythm.  If we are doing a field trip, going to the library, obviously that all goes in as well, and helps me to arrange the rest of the day around those out of the house activities.  I also include an inspiration section, meals for the day, meal prep for tomorrow, my to-do list and blog ideas.  It is a good at-a-glance sheet to keep me on task most of the day.


I keep my current Bible studies here.  I decided to read through the Bible chronologically (hopefully to be completed in a year) and that reading plan is also included here.  I keep an ongoing prayer list in this section that I can refer to, as well as the two prayer calendars that Kat from Inspired to Action has on her site – one for my children and one for my husband.

Meal Planning

Meal planning is something I am working hard to improve, and including this section in my binder should help – that is what I am telling myself anyways.  I keep recipes that I want to try in a pocket folder as well as meal lists – meals that I can easily make from ingredients that I typically have on hand.  I plan to expand this section a bit; I will let you know what I come up with!


The financial section is obviously everyone’s favorite section!  It centers on budgeting – yay for budgeting!  We use a zero-based budget.  What that means is that for every month we sit down and look at the money we have coming in, and then we give every dollar a name.  At the bottom of the budget, your income minus expenses should equal zero.  Genius, I know.


The inspiration section is one of my favorites.  I love quotes – you may have noticed that I run a Sunday Quotes post every week.  I am also trying to work on Bible memorization.  It isn’t something that I am very good at, but the kids work on a Bible verse every week, and I feel like I should be as well.  Often when I am having my quiet time, a verse will jump out at me, and I underline it and then write it in my “inspiration” section of my Daily Planning Sheet to meditate on throughout the day.


These are the projects that we are working on.  And they mainly are associated with the house.  I mean, what other projects could we possibly work on besides house projects?!


Goal lists are something that I am a pro at – completing every goal that I ever have?  Well, obviously that takes a lot more work.  This section is where I list my goals, goals for my kids, goals for my family.  I also include the steps I need to follow in order to complete those goals.

Emergency Information

All of the doctor information, health information, kids vaccination lists, emergency contact information; all of that goes here, plus more.  There seem to be a lot of phone numbers in this section!  But, it is good to have all of this available easily.  Also, it is where I keep a sheet of information for a babysitter, to put on the fridge when we go out. 

These are the sections that I am starting out with.  You may be wondering about a calendar section.  I don’t include one because I have a calendar/planner that I use.  I am sure that as I go through each section and put it all together, more may come to me.  But, like I said at the beginning, I don’t want it to be overwhelming.  I am looking forward to going through this process here, with you.  I hope that you will join me!

Do you use a home binder?  Are there sections that I have omitted that are valuable to you, or a section you think should be included?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sunday Quotes

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
~William Morris

Friday, February 27, 2015

Chicken Chili Recipe

It is no surprise that we eat a lot of chili in the winter.  For one, it is extremely economical.  Typically I make a vegan chili with only beans and vegetables, and my family loves it!  There is nothing easier than grabbing a jar of crushed tomatoes that I canned in the summer and putting it with some dry beans and seasonings.  

I wanted to make something a little different this past weekend though, since we had chicken to use.  So I came up with chicken chili instead.

Chicken Chili - makes a lot!

1/2 lb black turtle beans
1/2 lb pinto beans
1.5-2 lbs chicken breast
1/2 bag frozen peppers and onions
1/2 bag frozen corn
1 quart crushed tomatoes
1 pint salsa (I use hot - but use whatever you like!)
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes.

Soak beans overnight or use the quick soak method - boil beans for 2 minutes and then cover and let sit for an hour.  

Put beans in bottom of crock pot.  Put half the salt, half the chili powder, half the garlic powder over the beans.  

Put the chicken breast on top of the beans, add the rest of the salt, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin and red pepper flakes.  

Add frozen vegetables on top.  

Then pour crushed tomatoes and salsa over the top of the vegetables.  

Put on low for 8 hours.  Give it a stir half-way through if you can and shred the chicken with a fork.

My kids loved this.  Actually Emma asked for it several times.  We had plenty for several days, and re-purposed it as burritos towards the end of it.  This also freezes really well, so you could put some in the freezer if you don't like leftovers as much as we do!

Do you have a go-to chili recipe?  What are some of your favorite meals in the middle of winter?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

31 Bags in 31 Days

Self-reflection has been the name of the game since the beginning of the year.  All of the books I have been reading seem to be reinforcing ideas that I have had in the past, the biggest of which is that we have too much stuff.

After I read some of the statistics in Interrupted I realized that I have way more than I truly need.  My family has so much, and has been blessed in so many ways!  As we go through the normal day to day it can be easy to grumble and gripe about different situations in our lives, or not having x to help with y.  But, when you get down to it, we really have more than most people, and need to be thankful for it.

I don’t want you to think I am an ungrateful person, but when put in the context of what others do not have, it seems incredibly selfish to have as much as we do.  To help you with my line of thinking here are a couple of interesting facts from Interrupted, p25.

If you make thirty-five thousand dollars annually, you are in the top 4%.
If you make fifty thousand dollars annually, you are in the top 1%.
Half the world lives on less than two dollars and fifty cents a day.

These facts are sobering to me.  How can I ever feel need when I do not know real need? 

All of this led me back to my house, and the painful fact that I cannot seem to get a handle on the stuff we have.  We have so much stuff.  It seems like I am constantly de-cluttering and re-organizing stuff.  It is a full time job!  No wonder I don’t have enough time for other things, I am constantly moving stuff around!

I decided that I wanted to try and make better use of the space we have in our home, make better use of the time that I am given every day.  I don’t want to be a manager of stuff.

Since March is around the corner, and with March comes spring (hopefully!), I decided that I wanted to have a big old de-cluttering of stuff party!  What better way to welcome spring than with a clean house and less stuff to manage?

Please join me for 31 Bags in 31 Days.

The plan is for me to get rid of one bag of stuff each day.  Now, it doesn’t all have to be trash, in fact I hope that it isn’t!  I want to donate a lot of the stuff we have, but I realize a good portion may, in fact, be junk that needs to be thrown out or recycled.

One bag of stuff a day certainly sounds like a lot, but I am sure that when I start going through my clothes or books I will easily be able to find enough stuff.  Now, I am planning on using trash bags, but you could use the plastic grocery bags you get when getting food each week. 

This will all coincide with a huge spring cleaning of my house.  This winter has been long…OK it is still going strong here in Maine.  I need to freshen up everything and try to make sense of all the books that I have been reading.

Remember, my word of the year is intentional so I am trying to be intentional about the things that take up space in my life.  Are they really needed?  Is it helping me in some way?  Is it something that I think is incredibly beautiful, and therefore brings joy to my life?  Or is it something that just sits taking up space, or a toy that my kids do not play with, or a book that I never plan to read? 

Is this extreme?  Kind of.  But, I have to think about how much space this stuff actually takes up in my life, and how it isn’t needed.  I don’t want it here, and I feel sick thinking about the stuff that we spend our money on when someone else is unable to have clean drinking water. 

I am not saying that we all need to go into voluntary poverty, but will getting rid of broken toys or clothes that no longer fit, or even things we don’t use often but store just the same, really cause us to go into voluntary poverty?  Nope, but it will be a good lesson in realizing how much we have, and how much we don’t need crowding our lives.

Have you thought about how much you have lately?  Is it wearing on you trying to keep it organized and clean?  Have you thought about releasing some of that stuff to free up space in your mind and understand the blessings that you have?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

knitting and reading

After taking last week off to rest (and read) some more, I am back for this week's yarn along, and with something new on the needles!

I ended up casting on a little shrug in some purple cotton yarn that I have had forever.  It is knit in a rectangle and then the arms are sewn together by piecing the ends together.  It seems like a very easy knit, and something that Emma will love.  She is all about the knit by mama items lately, unfortunately most of those items take weeks and weeks to finish.  I'm hoping that this one will be quick!  We shall see!  I do need to put it on some circular needles though, because my needles are not long enough for the amount of stitches.

As far as reading goes, I recently finished The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst - amazing book!  I absolutely loved it!  I am having a good month as far as reading goes, all of the books have been amazing, and that is saying something.  Typically I will read one good book and then a couple of just OK books, but I have been happy with all of my selections recently.  In case you haven't been reading here recently, the other books I am talking about are:

Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker
Make it Happen by Lara Casey
Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson

Now I am starting 7 by Jen Hatmaker.  I bought this for kindle when it first came out, but I don't think I ever read it - not sure why!  But, I am reading it now, and it is quite good.  I just finished the chapter on food, and I'm not sure I could only eat 7 foods for one month...I mean of course I could do it, but it would be difficult.  After reading Interrupted I have been thinking a lot about how much I have and how little others have.

What are you working on this week?  Reading anything new?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Staying Healthy in Winter

It is still the winter here - and looks to be for about the next six months with the rate of snow and cold we have been getting lately!  For the past several weeks we have been passing around something in the family.  It is amazing once you have kids how long it takes for everyone to be healthy again!

I am happy to report that only one of us had the flu, how we managed that, I am not quite sure.  And the fact that it was my husband and not one of the littles, well that makes me happy!

The kids had fevers and a cough, and I had a cough, and little Lucy just ended up with a stuffy nose (the powers of breastfeeding!).

I do have some tips for staying as healthy as possible in the winter - because we all know that getting colds are inevitable, we want to make them as short in duration and as mild as we can.

The above four items are a central part of my health plan for the winter.  Whenever I feel a cold or chest cold coming on, I immediately start taking the raw apple cider vinegar.  My husband likes to mix his in water, I do not want to drink an entire glass of water with vinegar in it - so I always take two teaspoons full and then rinse my mouth thoroughly with water.

When I already have a cold I immediately start drinking Throat Coat tea - I love this stuff.  It soothes and makes me feel better all around.

The honey is perfect for the kids when they have a sore throat or are coughing a lot.  And the honey is also good in the spring when allergies start up.  Local, raw honey is the best because it contains to pollen that is common to your area and will help fend off those allergies.

The fifth ingredient, that is not pictured, is rest.  Rest is integral to being healthy again.  I know that it is hard to rest in this day and age, but it is so important!  If you don't rest, you will be unable to fight off any sickness, whether it is a cold or if it develops into something more serious like the flu.

Are you staying healthy this very long winter?  Do you have some tips to stay healthy?

*I am not a Dr. and this is not meant to replace a Dr.'s care.  These are the things that my family uses to help heal our bodies during illness.  Please consult your Dr. before making any changes to your health routine!