Blog Archive

Friday, April 17, 2015

Fresh Vegetable Salad Recipe

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As soon as spring arrives (regardless of whether or not there are leaves on the trees or snow is still on the ground) my body starts to crave fresh vegetables.  I love all vegetables, and am constantly looking for ways to eat them.

I wrote earlier this year about trying to make salads a main meal every day, and how I do that, but these big salads aren't the only way to get a good dose of veggies into my diet (and my family's diet) every day!

For Easter I made the most delicious quinoa salad.  It had lots of fresh chopped veggies, lots of parsley, and a super simple dressing.  It was amazing, and I plan to make it often.  

However, my kids are not a huge fan of the quinoa with the vegetables.  They like the quinoa and the vegetables, but separately.

Yesterday I decided to make the vegetable portion of the quinoa salad.  My kids and I devoured it as a morning snack - odd I know.

Chopped Vegetable Salad

2-3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 large red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large english cucumber, chopped
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
1 bunch fresh parsley, roughly chopped (curly or flat, whichever you prefer)
juice of 1 lemon
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
sea salt to taste

Chop all veggies and parsley, put in a large glass bowl.  Sprinkle with sea salt and mix together.  Put juice of lemon and drizzle of evoo on top of salad and mix again.  Enjoy!

*To make this with the quinoa cook 1 1/2 cups rinsed and drained quinoa with 2 2/3 cups water.  Let cool to room temperature.  Mix with veggies.  Make dressing as juice of 2 lemons and 1/4-1/3 cup of evoo.  Pour dressing over top and mix altogether.

I love the addition of all the parsley to this dish.  Parsley is incredibly fresh tasting, and is so good for you.  Parsley is a great source of vitamin K and vitamin C, and it also is a good source of folic acid.

Is your body craving fresh veggies these days?  Are you starting to plan your garden?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

knitting and reading

A lesson in pattern reading.  Lesson 1 - read the pattern.  

I started these lovely socks last week, and as I was knitting, I was constantly miscounting stitches.  I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong, I am typically extremely careful about stitch counting.  I thought that because the stitches were so small, maybe I was accidentally picking up stitches as I went along.  But, I kept knitting because I hate to rip things out.  I re-counted my stitches again and again, yes, I had the number of stitches I was supposed to cast on.  Then I pulled out the pattern again.

Can you see those instructions under "Leg"?  Decreasing 6 stitches?  Yeah, I definitely skipped right over that intro to the leg pattern.  So rip rip rip went the sock I spent so much time starting.

I will let you in on a little secret, starting the sock a second time has gone much faster.  You wouldn't see that by looking at the progress I have made, but it was much easier working with the small stitches, and having the correct amount  of stitches has also helped as I move onto the leg pattern!

This book is one that I have had on my shelf for a while, and started it several times.  But, I haven't read through it in its entirety.  Since all that I seem to be thinking about lately is my garden, and fresh vegetables, I want to try and read through this book.  Not for weight loss, but just for general information about eating a whole foods, veggie based, diet.

What are you working on this week?  Has spring sprung in your neck of the woods?!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Making a School Chart

I have talked a lot in the past about how I am much more a “rhythm” than a “schedule” person.  I used to love schedules, when I was in school, knowing what time to be wherever was important.  However, after kids, I wanted to be able to go with the flow a bit more.  That especially hit home when I would try and put my new baby to bed at 10 and 2, and realized she was more interested in sleeping when she wanted to sleep rather than when I put her down for a nap.

That little baby that loved to do her own thing is now almost 7 years old.  My, how time flies!  And she is a little less enthusiastic about surprises throughout the day.  Instead, she likes to have an idea of what comes next.

I think that is only natural, of course.  As children grow up, they want to know a little bit more about life and what they are going to be doing during the day.  I realized that my not so little girl loves to know what the plan is for the day.

While I always have a plan, she hasn’t been involved with it at all.  She has no boxes to check off; instead she just listens to what I tell her to do.

I appreciate that she listens to me, but I have noticed lately – especially with school – she isn’t as enthusiastic about completing one subject and then going to the next.

I wanted to test my theory a bit, to see if what I thought might be troubling her (not knowing the direction of the day) was the problem, or if it was something more serious like not enjoying the coursework we are doing. 

I decided to have a morning meeting with her to tell her what I expected of her through the day – what subjects we would be working on, piano practice, and a craft.  She responded the way I hoped she would, with enthusiasm.  Having that morning meeting where we discussed what she would need to do that day was a huge help.  I didn’t need to go into the specifics all that much, like the order in which to do them, but I did tell her what would need to be done before she could get back to playing.

I realized that what she needed was a checklist – much the same as my own checklist.  Giving that control to my daughter, for her to see what needed to be finished before she moved onto more free play was exactly what she needed.

My solution for the time being was to create a laminated checklist for her to use each week.  She has a dry erase marker that she can use, and she can keep the sheet in her school bin to check off as she completes tasks.  This is a very simple checklist, which includes the subject, and boxes under the days of the week so that she can check them off.  It does not include all the coursework I expect her to complete in each subject.  Just a general list of what needs to be done each day.

Some subjects are required every day – Bible, math, reading; while others are only a couple times a week, like science and history.  If she wants to do more than the required subjects each day, I’m not going to stop her, so I listed boxes for each subject on each day.

I think that we will have to adjust it as we go along.  I’m sure at some point she will want to have more detail such as what pages she needs to read, what math lessons she is doing.  But, for now, this is what we are working with.

Do you give your children a weekly checklist?  Do your kids want to know “what’s next” or are they content to go with the flow?

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Creating a Master To-Do List

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I love lists.  I want to get that out to you right off the bat.  There is nothing I love more than making lists.  I love bullet points, and breaking things down into super simple steps. 

My love of lists started in high school.  Then it was taking notes, and that continued through college – this was before computers were regularly used in the classroom for note taking.  Instead, notebooks and pens – I know, totally old school!

As I got older, got married, and had children, my brain filled with more and more stuff to do, and I was starting to run around in circles, making the same list day after day.  There is constantly stuff going through my mind, sometimes not letting me move onto actually completing tasks.  I hope that I am not the only one this happens to.

I started making lists, many lists, all the time, on anything that I could find – sticky notes, pads of paper, envelopes from old mail.  There were a lot of lists, and they were anything but organized.

Often, I knew that I had written stuff down on a list, but then I couldn’t find the list, and so I would have to try and make sure that I could write everything out that I needed to do or buy again.

My lists tend to be huge brain dumps, where there can be stuff I need to do today – such as put laundry in to wash, or big things like clean out the basement. 

What I found was happening was that I would constantly make the same lists again and again, with the same stuff, so clearly my “brain dumps” were not actually working.  I was still thinking about the same things, most likely because I knew I would misplace my list (read: my kids would find the list and take it thinking they should make their own list).

Last week I had enough.  Encouraged by the many list makers on Instagram (search for #listersgottalist), I decided to turn one of my blank journals into a master to-do list

Wow, was that freeing.  I know, it probably sounds completely absurd to some of you, but having that spiral journal containing everything that I need or want to do was revolutionary for me.  I can add things as I go, check things off, or when I am trying to figure out what projects I should attack for the week, I can look there, realizing that I have a million projects waiting in the wings, and one of them will probably get accomplished if I am looking at the list!

It has worked exactly like a brain dump would.  I put everything down and made little boxes that I could check off.  I’m sure I will need to make changes to how it is organized at some point. 

What has worked is the fact that I can put everything in one spot, and I know I can look there for projects that I want to work on.  What it isn’t, however, is my general “daily to-dos” such as laundry and dishes.  I am re-vamping my daily planning worksheet to work better with how I want to organize my life, and my home. 

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While I still love notepads – and have many of them around the house – I think this is going to work better for me.  Instead of constantly thinking about the things that I need to put on my list for this week I can instead look at the master list and see what needs to be accomplished.

Being able to look back on all that I have done in the last year will also give me a great feeling.  It will allow me to reflect on the year, what I have done, what I haven’t, and what I want to change to move into the next year.  I often forget all that I have accomplished due to running around with my three kids every day!

As an added bonus, it serves as a list that my husband can look at – because I know that I will not be siding the chicken coop even if it is on my list!  Perhaps not a bonus to Matt, but a bonus to me!

I have only utilized this journal for a few days, but I feel so much more at peace than I had before.  I don’t know why.  I am probably slightly crazy, but not having to keep track of single sheets of paper is helpful.  Plus, who doesn’t love checking off a box when a task is finished?

Do you have a “master to-do list” or a project binder that you use as a brain dump tool?  Are you a list maker?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sunday Quotes

The beautiful spring came; and when nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.
~Harriet Ann Jacobs

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Leadership Handbook by John C. Maxwell

I have to say right off that this book is not the typical book that I review on my blog.  But, when I saw that it was an option for me, I jumped at it!  

I have heard the name John C. Maxwell for a long time.  I think the first time was in college for one of my business management classes - yes, I was a business and economics nerd in college.  That is quite the change from my current life as a SAHM and wannabe homesteader!  

Most people, when they hear the name John C. Maxwell, think of leadership.  I have not read many of his books.  Actually, I think I only have read one other, required reading for the above mentioned business management class.  When I read a lot of reviews that said he is regurgitating a lot of the same information in previous books, I was happy, figuring this book would be a "best of" as far as leadership advice.

I have to say that I wasn't disappointed.  This is an amazing book!  I like that each chapter ends with application exercises as well as a "mentoring moment."  It is essentially giving you the path that you need to take in order to become a great leader.

Some of the information contained in the book - like following your passion in order to find your potential - is similar to what I have been reading in other books this year, and lines right up with my "Project Life" goals for the year.  I want to operate at my potential, not below it.  And seeing another awesome author talk about using your passion to find your potential solidifies that thought in my mind even further.

He goes through 26 critical lessons every leader needs to know.  Everything from being a good listener, to managing your life not your time, and being a continuous learner.

I really enjoyed how he made the point that leaders make mistakes, and that is how they learn.  It is good for a leader to admit their mistakes and make the corrections needed in order to continue to better themselves, as well as their team.

I think that this book offers a lot of great life advice.  Not everyone wants to be a leader, and that is ok, not every person can be a leader.  But, for those of us who do want to lead, knowing the right path to take, as well as being able to admit and correct mistakes along the way is obviously important.

This book would be a good read for any business owner, blogger, or person trying to make real change in an organization, whether it be a business or a church.  

I received a free copy of this book in return for my review.  All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

knitting and reading

Can I let you in on a little secret?  I have never knit socks with sock yarn.  I always use worsted and larger needles - of course I haven't knit socks for anyone but my kids either, and the thicker socks seem to work best for them.

Well, I cast on a new project.  Socks, with the tiniest strand of yarn I could possibly find...The stitches are tiny!

It took me a good 45 minutes to get the 5 rows you see in the picture completed.  45 minutes.  I am a slow knitter, but that is extremely slow!  I hope that as time goes on it moves a little faster though, or else I will end up with one sock completed and the other never to see the needles.

These are not adult socks either, these are for Emma.  The pattern is called "Socks for Little Witches."  I am not sure where I found the pattern, but the picture of the finished project looks adorable, and something I think Emma will love...if I finish them!  I might need to pick a back-up project.

My reading is the same as last week.  I haven't had as much time to read the past couple of weeks, besides reading to the kids for school.  I am almost finished with the John C. Maxwell book, and we are still reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  I am also re-reading Pride and Prejudice for the 100th time.  I read it to Lucy before her naps, seems to do the trick of putting her right to sleep!

What are you working on this week?