a day in the life

A lot of people recently have been writing up "a day in the life" posts.  I thought it might be a fun exercise.  Be warned, this is not every.single.thing. that happens during the day.  I try to have a bit of rhythm to them anyways.

4am:  Wake up and nurse Jack.  Spend 15 minutes trying to get him to go back to sleep and then try really really hard to get out of bed without him waking up again.  9 times out of 10 this doesn't work, and I repeat until I can get out the door.  Usually by 4:30, this morning he didn't even wake up, so I went downstairs at 4:15, awesome!

Yes people, I really do wake up this early.  I decided to do the Hello Mornings Challenge again this winter.  I failed at it miserably in the fall.  The reason?  I realized it wasn't feasible for me to try and get up at 6am and expect to have quiet time.  So while I am up before the world (except the guy across the street who is always leaving for work at this time), I am thankful I am actually getting the time alone to sit and read and journal.

Take dog out, feed dog, brush teeth, get coffee/Bible/journal, sit on my couch and try to have some quiet time. It has really helped my day go so much smoother, although my husband is now in charge of mornings and keeping the kids upstairs while I am downstairs, which is why at

5:30am:  The whole house is awake and is running around upstairs.  That goes on for about 10 minutes while Matt figures out how to move :-)  And then everyone comes downstairs.  Now you know why I have to get up at 4am if I want to have my quiet time.  I have tried everything with these kids to make them sleep later, put them to bed later, try to not have naps, it doesn't work.  And if they don't nap...well...I end up being miserable most of the afternoon.

6am:  Breakfast.  Every morning everyone has oatmeal, or I make muffins, and occasionally egg sandwiches, but mostly, oatmeal.  It is something everyone will eat, and it is healthy and cheap.  Emma will get *special* oatmeal once in a while with a little brown sugar, but typically it is cinnamon/nutmeg and either blueberries or bananas.

During breakfast either Matt or myself reads their Bible reading for the day.  I tend to read out of the kids Bible, and then sometimes read a Psalm from my Bible.  Not sure if they pick up most of it, but they are quiet, and I figure it is the best time to read the Bible to them.

As soon as Emma is done, she immediately wants to play her favorite game, chase.  I explain that I have to get the dishes done but we are going to have music time.  First meltdown of the day.  Apparently she hates music, and never wants to have music time ever again.

We have a little talk about what our attitude should be like, and she calms down.  Then she requests "Fresh Beat Band" radio on Pandora.  Which apparently means that they take any current song (and actually some great 80's tunes that I like), and re-record them with Alvin and the Chipmunks.  She loves it, and Jack and Emma play chase by themselves while I take care of the breakfast dishes.

I try to figure out what I am going to make for dinner today (since everyone is at home, I tend to have a large afternoon meal and then leftovers in the evening).  I realize that it is only 7:15, and I don't need to start bread until 9.  So I start in on the game of chase for a little bit.

7:30am:  Music time is done, everyone needs a break.  We sit down and have circle time.  Jack thinks this means he can try to climb onto my shoulders while we are doing our stretches.  Emma tries to explain that he is doing it wrong and needs to watch her.  He doesn't.  We sing a song, say our thank you prayer, and then check the weather.  Emma explains what is going on to Jack and he watches her to make sure he gets everything she is saying :-)

8am:  Time for stories.  I take out the long books first.  We just started Little House in the Big Woods.  So I read a couple chapters from that.  Then I read whichever stories are in her curriculum planner for the day, usually not many, and they typically only take 20 minutes.  Then I open the school cupboard and Emma is free to pick whichever books she wants me to read.  It ends up being every Dr. Seuss book possible :-)

10am:  Play time again.

11am:  Tv time.  They watch Sid the Science Kid and Word World while I am making dinner.

12pm:  Eat lunch.  Explain to Emma that unless she eats what I have made, she won't be able to have afternoon snack.  She tries to get up from the table multiple times.  Jack eats all of his food, and then trades bowls with Emma and starts eating hers.  She thinks that she is all done eating because Jack's bowl is empty.

I put the timer on for a few last minutes of play time before rest time.

1pm:  Rest time.  I left a comment about how my kids still have naps every day, and another commenter was slightly jealous.  What I had left out was the ungodly hour my house is awake in the morning :-)  Even though Emma fights it, she eventually will fall asleep for a couple hours, and Jack will sleep about 3 hours.  During this time I mainly check e-mails and read and knit.  I always have these grand ideas about doing something around the house, but I never do anything.  I am too tired.  Remember, I was up at 4 :-)

3pm:  Emma is awake and tiptoes out of the living room (where they nap), and in order to keep her quiet she uses my iphone and I let her eat chocolate chip cookies we made the day before (each with 2 chocolate chips in them :-))

4pm:  Jack finally wakes up and I am convinced the kid could sleep later in the morning if I didn't let him sleep so long in the afternoon.  But, I don't bother waking him up earlier because waking babies up is never something you should do I have decided.

4:30pm:  Matt gets out of work, takes care of the dog and plays with the kids while I finish up dinner.

5:30pm:  Dinner is done and we are cleaning up.  Then we discuss all the things we *need* to do, but don't end up doing any of them.

7pm:  Upstairs for kids bedtime.  Matt reads stories and brushes teeth, and then everyone gets to shut out a light.  I nurse Jack and he falls asleep.  I think about getting up and going downstairs to watch TV.  I realize that I am too warm and comfy in the bed, so instead I opt for my nook and watching a movie on netflix.  I then read a little bit after I am bored with the movie.

9pm:  Totally asleep at this point, and happy to be after a very long day :-)

This is kind of how our day is every day, interspersed with many more meltdowns, someone takes a toy the other was playing with, someone sits on the book while it is being read so no pictures can be seen.  Food gets thrown all over the house.  Jack won't eat in his highchair anymore.  Dishes get piled up on the counter (I run the dishwasher 3 times/day every day).  I wonder why I bother to clean the house at all, and look at piles of laundry that will never be folded before they are worn and dirty again.  A typical day with my 3 1/2 & 1 1/2 year old babies :-)

large house vs. small house

Would you rather have a large house or a small house?  I have been thinking about this for several years.  Ever since I realized that my house is a lot larger than I thought when we bought it 6 years ago.  I constantly go back and forth.  I love the fact that I have a large house, a room for pretty much any purpose that I could think of.  I love that my kids have a huge area to run around in, that I have a large kitchen (since I love to cook so much), and that I can spread out.

What I don't like?  Well, it takes me several days during the week to actually clean the house.  I feel like we need a bunch of stuff to fill up the house, or it would look empty.  It bothers me.  I don't want to spend so much time cleaning or picking up after my kids, or even having them picking up their own things.

It seems like I spend so much time maintaining "stuff" that I can't enjoy the rest of life.  Obviously that is an over-exaggeration.  But, the fact that I spend half of the week cleaning the downstairs, and the other half cleaning the upstairs...well...it concerns me a bit.  I moved most of the kids toys out of use the past couple of weeks.  They have a total of maybe 8 toys to play with, as many books as they could possibly look at, but only a few toys.  They have been better behaved, and have entertained themselves longer with fewer toys.  Interesting...

Now, what if I had a very small house?  And a larger outdoor space?  What if I didn't have to worry so much about taking care of the house, dealing with the utility costs of a large house?  Would I be happier, more fulfilled?  Or would I remember my large house and feel like I was missing out?  I'm not sure my kids would care.  It would be the same box of toys, just in a smaller space, and they would have more outdoor space to run around in...while currently they have our driveway.

That is something that I am constantly thinking about.  And unfortunately, this market is not the best market to be thinking such things.  We are in a unique situation in that we own some land, and we own a very large house.  In order to build on the land, we would have to sell the house.  And if we build on the land, we want to build something small and energy efficient.  Something that will allow us to live our lives, and not be as concerned about how much we have to spend each month to keep a house running.

The problem with wanting to build something small?  The view of others.  The perception that we are making unwise decisions because we choose something different.  I know I posted about innermost house, but it isn't feasible with two littles.  I mean, obviously it would be if that were the option, but it really isn't.  If we build on our land, it has to be at least 1000sf.  We can work around that.  But, how do we explain to people that we want the kids to share a bedroom, or that we would rather have more outdoor space instead of a large indoor space?

Clearly, random thoughts are going through my head these days...like every day actually.  I would love to hear your thoughts.  What is adequate for a family of four?  What do you tell family and friends that thinks you are nuts? Would you rather spend time outside, have a smaller mortgage, and a smaller house?  Or would you rather have the indoor space?  Do you feel tied down?

I am joining in at the barn hop today :-)

cake :-)

For all of my talk about healthy eating, I must let you in on something.  I love junk too :-)  Now, it isn't something that I have all that often, well at least I try not to.  Last week I was browsing pinterest for birthday party ideas for my soon to be 4 year old *tear*.  As I was looking at all the beautiful cakes I started to think about making a cake for her birthday.  I continued to think about the cakes I have made (from scratch) in the past, and the fact that I have never actually been all that pleased with them.  And then I started to get hungry...so what is one to do?  Well of course, try out another cake recipe.

I got the cake recipe from smitten kitchen.  It was the "best birthday cake" recipe, and man did it live up to its name!  Typically, when I make a cake from scratch, it comes out too dry, not moist, and very dense.  This cake was none of those things.  I don't know what it is about this recipe, but it really worked for me!  I did divide this recipe in half and baked it in 2 8" round (obviously) cake pans.  

I did not use the chocolate frosting that is with the cake.  I am not a huge chocolate fan, and was slightly concerned that I wouldn't want to eat it if I used such a chocolaty frosting, and what is the point in making something if you can't actually enjoy it?!  However, my Emma is a huge chocolate lover, as is my husband, so I wanted to at least cater to them a bit.  Here is my fly by the cuff frosting recipe, that actually turned out delicious!

1 stick of butter
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup + 1/4 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips

Cream butter and marshmallow together, scraping sides.
Add cocoa powder and powdered sugar and mix on low so you don't get a puff of chocolate and sugar dust all over everything :-)
Add 3/4 cup heavy cream slowly and whip until it gets really thick.
Mix 1/4 cup heavy cream, and 1/2 cup chocolate chips and put in microwave for 30 seconds to melt them.
Mix it up, and then pour melted chocolate into bowl, whip some more.
Taste it frequently to see if you need to add anymore sugar/chocolate/cocoa powder :-)

Definitely will be making this again...although maybe not until actual birthdays...it only lasted us a couple of days :-)  Do you have a favorite cake recipe?

Today I am linking up to Food on Fridays at Ann Kroeker. Writer.

Organized Simplicity Part 1

This year is all about living intentionally for me.  I want to be able to look back at 2012 and know that I was living life to the fullest, not holding back, and being fully engaged with my family.  I decided to start this journey by working through the book Organized Simplicity.  I hope you will join me!

I have been re-reading Organized Simplicity.  It is the second time I have read it.  The first time was when it came out back in November 2010.  Around that time I had an infant and toddler, stuffed 2500sf of stuff into our 950sf first floor so we could rent the rest of the house to a family of 5 (including another infant), and had my husband attempting to work from home.  Let's just say life was slightly overwhelming!

A few months after that, we found out our tenants were moving, and I planned a huge purge.  Now, almost a year later, I am ready to do it again.  It is interesting to me the amount of stuff we accumulate.  We still have boxes that we stored in my mom's shed when the tenants were here.  Who knows what is in those boxes...I wasn't so organized when I packed them, just had to get them out of the house!  But clearly, it isn't something I really need (unless it is my white wine glasses which I discovered were missing when we were hosting Thanksgiving...).

Part one of this book is all about living simply in the real world.  What a concept, right?  Instead of thinking about how much you can get rid of, think about what you surround yourself with.  What does simplicity mean to you?  If that collection of china is important to you, by all means keep it, if not, why are you holding onto it?

This is where the family mission statement comes in.  How can we define our purpose as a family?  How do we know what is really important to us?  It is very easy for me to get caught up in how everyone else feels before attending to my own needs.  I have seen that continuing on that path is not good for me, emotionally or with regards to my nuclear family.  Unfortunately, I am still concerned with being perceived as selfish, such is life though.  And I know now that I need to take my own life seriously :-)

I think that a family mission statement will help in decision making.  It will help with deciding which goals are actually important, and which goals are really not going to help us in the long run.  It will help to show us what should be included in our life, and what should be far far away.  It will help us build relationships with others.  In short, it will allow our family to pursue our dreams, no matter how outlandish they may sound to everyone around us.

Tsh has an entire chapter on writing a family mission statement, but she also has the information available online here.  My hope this week is to be able to find a couple hours to sit down with my husband and flesh out what our family mission statement is.  I'm sure that once the kids are a little older we will need to re-evaluate and include them, but for now it will just be Matt and I.  I hope to have one to share next week...wish me luck!

Do you have a family mission statement?  Or an individual mission statement?  I would love to read them if you don't mind sharing, or if you have written about mission statements on your own blog, please leave a link!

knitting is very slow these days...

Remember last week, when I had planned to knit the second fingerless glove?  Well, I didn't end up casting on until Sunday, so that is what I am knitting right now.  I hope to start a cowl for Matt this week too, in a lovely charcoal alpaca yarn I have.  He claims that he is freezing in his office, and he is probably telling the truth :-)  I would like to make him some fingerless gloves too, out of the same yarn.  It can be his indoor winter garb :-)  We do keep our heat quiet low...

This week I am still reading Organized Simplicity.  The first time around, I read it in a day.  This time I am trying to really work through it all.  Look for a post tomorrow about the start of my journey through this book!

The other book I am reading is Mindset for Moms by Jamie Martin, of Steady Mom.  So far it is great!  The chapters are short, which is nice when you feel like you are being pulled in 100 different directions.  I am naturally a pessimist.  And I think this book will be perfect for me.  Change my thinking?  What a novel idea!  I definitely encourage any mama struggling out there to get a copy!

What is waiting in the wings for me to read is the final book in the The Hunger Games trilogy.  May have to put down all of my self help books to lose myself in some fiction!

Don't forget to enter the giveaway for the $20 off coupon code for Dayspring here.  I will be closing comments tonight and posting the winner in the morning!

And of course I am linking up at the wonderful yarn along!

where do you school?

One of the things that I love about homeschooling is that you can really do school anywhere.  However, I love to look at the wonderful homeschool rooms on pinterest and frequently look there for inspiration.  I am blessed in having a large house, which I have talked about before.  We are able to have a dedicated play/school room and a craft room, which I absolutely love.

I know that most people might think that because we put the play room and school room together, it doesn’t really count as a dedicated space, but because my kiddos are 3 ½ and 17 months…I think it definitely does.  I am sure that once they get older, the room will be more school and less play.  At that point I think I would prefer to move the toys into their room, with just a few toys out at a time…I may be dreaming of course!  And actually, in this picture the toy box is missing :-)  We are in the process of going through the toys to weed out what we no longer need, and to separate some for their room.

Since the curriculum I use is mainly based on reading, we end up doing a lot of schooling in our living room on the couch.  Don’t get me wrong, I love that we have a school room, but since there isn’t a lot of desk work, we do not use it for all of our schooling.  I tend to read to the kids in the morning in the living room while they play, or more often Jack is playing while Emma is sitting with me in the chair. 

We keep all of our school stuff in one armoire in the school room.  It helps to keep everything tidy, well at least it looks tidy when I shut the door to the armoire.  :-)  Clearly I need to reorganize!  It helps to have all the school books and workbooks all in one place.  I don’t have to worry about finding things on our bookshelves, and it is a special place for books, that we only use at certain times during the day.  Obviously the kids are able to choose any books for night time stories, but more often than not we have “school books,” “free time books,” and “nighttime books.”

I would love to see where you all spend school time, or if your kids go to school, where your kids do their homework.  If you have any ideas of things that should be in my school room, please let me know!  Are all of your books separated into different categories of time, or is any book up for grabs at any time?

deciding to get chickens

My poor husband really didn’t know what he got himself into marrying me.  In fact, it is interesting the amount of change that has happened in my thinking since we first started dating…13 years ago…wow that is a long time.  When we met I was pretty much a normal American, buy whatever at the grocery store, go out to eat all the time, make as many trips to the mall as humanly possible (I did go to college right next to a wonderful mall), yes, very much a consumer.  And then I studied economics in college and realized I was helping “the economy.”  I was a good person J

Now, however, I have changed my tune…although I am still up on the latest gadgets.  I am trying much harder to be healthy.  I have learned more than I ever thought possible over the past several years regarding food.  What the current food system is like, all the problems with the meat production in our country, the pesticides used.  I tell my sister-in-law frequently that I am destined to eat nothing at all, because everything is bad for you.

After I had Emma, and really while I was pregnant with her, I realized that I couldn’t feed her a lot of the foods that I had eaten all my life.  I wasn’t completely comfortable with her having dairy due to the growth hormones.  I didn’t want her to eat CAFO meat, because of the conditions the animals are raised in, and what they are fed.  I definitely didn’t want her to eat any vegetables that came out of Mexico, and then nothing that wasn’t organic and local to us. 

What ended up happening was that she had her own tastes.  I would roast an organic chicken that was raised 15 miles from my house, she didn’t like it.  I would buy excellent quality steak from a farmer at the farmers’ market; she had no desire to even try it.  I would make her eggs and she would gobble them up.  Clearly I have a vegetarian in the making.  I couldn’t understand why she didn’t want to eat steak, I love it.  Nope, all she wanted was eggs.

We could probably go through 4 dozen eggs in a week if I let her eat as many as she liked.  She can easily eat 4 hard-boiled eggs in one sitting.  And 4 dozen would be easy with a husband who works from home, a stay at home mama, and a 17 month old who will eat your fingers if you aren’t careful when passing food to him J  What is a person to do?  Free range eggs are expensive.  We pay $5/dozen for organic free range eggs from the farm…and with the amount of money I have in the budget for groceries, 4 dozen eggs a week is not realistic.

I decided that I wanted to get chickens.  Our city passed an ordinance allowing 6 hens, and I think that would be perfect for us, and if we need more eggs, we can get 6 more hens and put them at my mom’s house down the street…I’m sure she won’t mind J

My hope is to get chickens this spring, but I’m not sure that my husband wants to deal with said chickens.  I am trying to compromise by telling him we can buy pullets, hens that are ready to start laying, instead of starting from chicks.  A little less up front cost because we wouldn’t need to deal with the baby chicks.  Now, all I actually need him to do (in all of his spare time) is to build a chicken coop/run for the chickens.  I already have a place for them to go, I just need an enclosure for them.  I have told him that I will take care of the chickens, and he won’t have to worry about it at all.   All he has to do is build the structure.  I don’t even care if it is a pretty structure, just something that will keep them safe from predators. 

I am sure that Matt will have a rebuttal to this post, so if anyone has anything to add, I would love to hear it J  Mainly I would love to hear how fun/easy/enjoyable chickens are, and that they would be a good learning experience for my kiddos…not to mention the health benefits of getting eggs from our own yard!  But, if you have had a bad experience with chickens, I would love to hear that as well!

Linking up at the awesome barn hop today!

innermost house

Heather at beauty that moves posted a link to this video this past week.  It definitely inspired me to downsize our life.  I wonder if it would be possible for a family of 4 to live in such a space...probably not very comfortably, but it would be wonderful to have that peace and quiet.

What do you think?  After watching the video is it something you would want to do?

coconut curry roasted squash soup

We are all about the winter vegetables right now.  And soup is frequently on the menu.  I tend to make the basics.  Vegetable soup, chili, and variations of those.  But, I wanted something a little different.  We always get winter squash in our CSA share, so I wanted to make some sort of squash soup.  I like spicy food, and thought maybe a coconut curry would work with the squash soup that I normally make.

1 butternut squash, roasted
3 small onions, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 13.5oz can of coconut milk
1/2-1tsp of curry powder depending on taste
1 quart jar vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste

First you need to roast your butternut squash - I didn't end up using the delicata.  I cut it the butternut squash in half, took the seeds out, brushed the flesh with olive oil, and then baked in a 400 degree oven flesh side down until you can easily put a fork through the skin.  I meant to time this, but forgot to, and remembered it was in the oven when I could smell that it was done :-)

Next chop the onions and garlic and saute in a sauce pan in a little olive oil for a few minutes until the onions and garlic are soft.  Add your vegetable stock and bring up to a simmer.  Scoop out all the squash, put in the pan and let it simmer for a few minutes.  Add your curry powder, salt and pepper and then use a stick blender to blend the soup up.  Add the can of coconut milk and blend again.  If you don't have a stick blender, you can use a normal blender and do the soup in batches, or you could use a potato masher and have a chunkier soup.

Taste for seasoning.  Like I said, I love spicy, so I had to add some red pepper flakes in mine.  The kids prefer it without the spice though :-)  And while coconut milk and curry are not actually local to my little home in Maine, everything else came from our CSA just a few miles away.  If you are looking for ways to eat locally and seasonally this winter, there is a great post at Simple Organic that gives a good overview of what is available this time of year.

*Don't forget to enter to win a $20 coupon code for DaySpring here.

Linking to the barn hop!!  And also linking to the Mommy Club!!

Inspired Deals Review and giveaway!

Last week I talked a little bit about wanting to write more letters and cards this year.  As luck would have it, I was able to partner with (in)courage and DaySpring to do a review of their cards!  

I absolutely love getting cards in the mail.  Don't get me wrong, e-mail is great, but opening the mailbox and finding something other than bills and junk mail always makes me happy.  It has the ability to turn a particularly difficult day into a happy one.  At least it does for me.  When I was younger, my cousin and I would exchange cards quite frequently.  It was fun to go to the Hallmark store and pick out an interesting card to send.  It always brightened my day!

DaySpring sent me their lovely So True - All Occasion cards and the matching thank you cards to try out.  I have to say, I love them.  They have beautiful backgrounds and pictures on the front.  All different, and all in beautiful colors that fit me perfectly.  The blues greens and pinks always make me happy :-)  I have never actually bought packs of inspirational cards before.  Typically I will buy cards that are blank on the inside - I tend to write a lot when I send a card :-)  These cards have some great inspiration on the inside and still plenty of room for me to write a long note.  The cards are not too heavy, which is good because I try to also tuck some tea, or something else in there.  The envelopes are a more natural tone instead of the normal white which is nice.  It gives the card a bit of a rustic look when you receive it.

And because I love all my readers so much, I have a lovely giveaway for you guys from DaySpring!  You have the opportunity to win a $20 coupon code towards a purchase at DaySpring!  All you need to do is go over to DaySpring, have a look at the wonderful products they offer, and then come back here and leave a comment telling me what you would most like to buy with the coupon!  For extra entries you can follow my blog, tweet about this giveaway, share it on Facebook, or blog about it on your own blog.  Just come back here and leave a separate comment and link for each extra entry.  This giveaway will run until Wednesday, January 25th.

Please note that DaySpring sent me the note cards and thank you cards for free.  The opinions are, however, my own.  

*comments are now closed I will announce the winner soon!  And the winner is # 8 Randi, who said "I would love to buy the bless this home server, so pretty!!"  Congrats Randi!

knitting for me!

After Christmas, I felt like I needed a break from knitting.  I instead went full speed ahead and decided on so many goals for the year.  But, now I am back to knitting.  This time for myself.  I had such a fun time knitting the envelopes for everyone else for Christmas, and I decided that I wanted one for myself, so I knit one up, used my favorite button (note to self, buy more cool buttons), and was happy with the results.  I used some purple alpaca yarn that I had in my stash.  It is so soft, I kind of want to put stuffing in the envelope and use it as a very small pillow :-)  In this picture there is a clue to my post tomorrow which is a giveaway!

This week I am also trying to knit myself some fingerless gloves.  It has gotten quite cold in Maine.  It took a little while, but winter is in full force here.  It was evident by the wonderful 4 degree weather we had this past weekend.  I'm looking for that lovely mild winter we were having.  You know, the one with temps in the 40's and sometimes hitting 50...and no snow.  Yeah, that was nice :-)  But, I digress.  I have knit one fingerless glove, and will be casting on the second today...hopefully.

I am reading a few books this week. Organized Simplicity is at the top of the list.  It is currently FREE for the Kindle or Nook editions.  I own this book in print, but for free I jumped right over to get it for my nook as well!  I'm not sure how long this will last, so you better click over fast!  This book has really been inspirational for me.  It is all about finding your simple life.  It isn't about minimalism.  It is about finding joy in what you surround yourself with.  It speaks to writing a mission statement for your family, and then using it to make decisions.  And the second half of the book is my favorite...the decluttering/organizing section.  Tsh takes you through 10 days of intense cleaning.  Unfortunately, I don't have 10 days to dedicate entirely to this, so we end up taking it several days at a time.  Luckily, my life is mostly chaos, so having everything all over the place isn't too bad :-)

I just recently took out Off the Grid from the library.  I have really just started it, but it has been talking about why and how the electric grid and the water grid have come to be in the US.  So far it is pretty interesting.  I never realized that there were people that didn't want the electric grid.  Or the extent the companies would go to in order to control the market.  And that GE's light bulb industry was the only part of the company that continued to grow and have profits during the Great Depression.  I guess once you have electric light, it is hard to go back to candles.  I am looking forward to continuing this book though.  He travels across the US talking to all sorts of different people who live off the grid, from survivalists, to hippies, to ordinary families.

The other book that I am about to start is The Happiness Project which I heard about last year, but never got around to reading more than the introduction.  Hopefully I can plow through that today, it doesn't look to be long.

I am linking to the Mommy Club Wednesday today!  As well as the lovely yarn along!  Make sure you come back tomorrow to enter the giveaway!

choosing curriculum

It is easy to get wrapped up in choosing curriculum for homeschooling.  I never realized how many options were out there.  Back when I had many stereotypes in my head about homeschooling, I honestly thought the only curriculum was the ultra-conservative abeka or bob jones   Come to find out there are more styles of curriculum then I could ever imagine.

I’m sure that most homeschoolers have already bought their curriculum for the year, since most people start school in the fall.  I, on the other hand, tend to start my year in January.  I plan to homeschool all year, which will allow us to take breaks whenever we need them.  After the holidays, when a new year is upon us, I always want to start new.  Now, that isn’t to say that you can’t switch up a program that you started in September, but for me I like to get all new books, and start fresh J

There are a lot of ways that you can approach choosing (or not choosing) a curriculum.  It all starts with your educational philosophy, which I mentioned briefly in my post on deciding to homeschool.  I found a really great resource for figuring out your own personal curriculum choices here.  It definitely asks the right questions and puts you on the path to understanding more about what your style of teaching is, and what you want it to be.  Of course, you always have to keep in mind your child and their personality as well.

Because I like reading/reading aloud to my kids, and because my kids will sit and listen to books for long periods of time, I really felt like I should focus my curriculum search on literature based curriculum.  I found a few that I really liked, and ultimately decided on Sonlight.  I like the focus on history, because I love history, and I do view homeschooling as my second chance to learn as much as I possibly can J

I think that there are a lot of options out there though.  I have read that some people use the library almost entirely for their book selections.  I would love to do that, but most of the books I want, I have to request from inter-library loan, and while that is an amazing program, it seems like I always have to wait a while to get the books.  I do plan to supplement our core curriculum with a lot of books.  And I may take 2 years to get through this core anyways, depending on Emma’s advancing with the material.  And if she finds something she is really interested in while we are working, I won’t be afraid to put everything on hold and dive straight into the subject that interests her. 

While in my mind I need to have a curriculum to make sure she is learning what she needs to learn, I think I am most looking forward to her finding what she is passionate about.  I am excited to have her come to me and say she loves trains, or planes, or butterflies, and then finding as many resources to let her really  dive into learning.  Can you unschool and use a curriculum at the same time?  Or is that too backwards? 

I am planning on using Sonlight for the core.  I like that Sonlight carries other programs for other subjects.  Being able to choose from a few different math or handwriting programs is important to me.  But, I don’t necessarily want to search through every single program available out there.  I trust that the people behind Sonlight have done the research and pulled the best programs available.  We will be starting Core A with Emma in February.  We are currently finishing up the P 4/5 program for the second time, and she is really enjoying it.

Do you have a “curriculum” that you use?  Do you tend to take book lists and head to the library?

starting a gardening notebook/binder

Well, I have gotten through deciding which seeds to order, and what the main objectives for my garden are this year.  My next step?  Making a gardening binder.  I know that a lot of gardeners keep great track of weather patterns and which seeds they are planting, how they grow each season.  I have never done this before.  And I figure that if I am going to be serious about gardening, and actually produce a large majority of our own vegetable needs, then I should get organized.

The first step is not really included in the binder, but I figure I should let everyone know.  You need to figure out how much food you eat.  It is a bit of a daunting task.  Most people wouldn't actually sit down and say "I use 3 onions per week."  That is what I need to do.  I am slowly trying to compile a list of how much of each vegetable we eat.  Where I can increase production of a vegetable in place of something else, and how I can then preserve the extra for winter.  I typically keep an inventory of what I preserve from the summer, and when that has run out.  That helps when I am trying to figure out how many jars of

Once you know how much you are going to, or plan to, eat; it will be a little easier to figure out how many seedlings you are going to need, how many seeds you need to plant.  The first section of my binder is my seed list.  I like to type it up in Excel and then I have the name of the seed, where I purchased the seed from, if you plant it directly, or if I need to start it indoors, and how many days until the vegetable grows.

My next section is a calendar.  I put down when all the seeds need to be started, so each week I can just glance at the calendar to see which ones should be started.  It makes it easier on me to spend a couple hours putting all this data into a calendar, and on a spreadsheet, and then be able to easily glance at it when the time comes.  Because we all know once spring comes, the amount of time one has to peruse papers, and look at the info on the seed packets, there just is no time!

Then I have a paper with everything I actually end up planting.  I know that there will be some seeds that don't germinate, no space for another squash variety, extra tomatoes picked up at the greenhouse.  I need a place where all of that is put in.  In this section I also have a place to put how much I get from the plants.  This will help me in deciding whether or not to plant it again.

At this point, I put in some loose leaf lined paper.  I would like to try and take "garden notes."  When the last frost was, when I plant the peas, if there is a particularly long wet period.  It all goes on this paper, and at the end of the growing season I can look over these notes and know where I need to make improvements for the following year.  Well, that is at least the plan.  I haven't actually kept any garden notes before.  :-)

After the lined paper, I have some graph paper.  This is where I try and map out where I am going to put things.  I am not so good at space requirements, and tend to plant similar to the square foot gardening method...although not in nice neat little 4x4 foot plots :-)  I am sure that my plan, and how it turns out will be different, but having the plan is the first step.

At the back of the binder, I try to keep a list of inventory - pots, potting soil, seed starting flats.  This helps when I am going to pick up more supplies and I think "do I have enough potting soil?  maybe I should pick up another bag" just to end up with extra everything.  Good quality food is not the only objective in growing my own food, saving money is also in there as well.  If I am buying extra that I don't need...is that really helping me out?!  You may be saying "don't you make a list before you go?"  Well, yes, but inevitably I forget to put something on my list, or something really interesting catches my eye, and before I know it, I have fallen victim to buying too much...again.

I also like to keep a list of what vegetables should be planted close together, and which ones should be far apart.  As well as keeping a paper about rotating.  You shouldn't plant x the year after y.  Most of this information is easily accessible on the internet, but I find it nice to have the info at my fingertips, instead of running in with dirty hands to the computer to find what I am looking for.

Finally, the last section is my preservation inventory.  In this section I make a list of everything I have frozen/canned/fermented/dried/stored.  Once I put the garden to bed, I take this and put it in my family binder.  This helps in my menu planning.  It helps me to use up what I have before running out to the grocery store to pick something up for dinner.  And it definitely shows me where I need to fill in gaps.  Take this year for instance.  I am down to 1 jar of crushed tomatoes left.  And I have been using them sparingly.  I have 2 jars of tomato sauce left, and have been buying pizza sauce so that I can save my own canned goods for special occasions.  Now I know that in order to can enough tomatoes for my family, I need to have around 5000 lbs of tomatoes.  Probably a slight exaggeration, but you get the picture.

Do you keep a gardening notebook?  Is it something you have thought about but haven't been sure of where to start?  Am I missing something that you would put in?

I am linking up at the Barn Hop again this week.  There are always some amazing posts available!

food and health goals

Food is a big passion of mine.  You might have noticed that about me...Since 2006 I have been striving to have a healthier diet.  It isn't easy.  I have plenty of slips.  I love rich food.  I love carbs.  When Matt and I first got married we went out to eat just about every night...for a year.  I guess living in the city and getting home late after a long day makes you want more convenience.  I ended that year not so healthy and have been working ever since to improve my health.  This year I hope to continue in a positive direction.

Eat a plant based/whole foods diet

We try to do this anyways, but I also try to make everything from scratch, which means few, if any, convenience foods in the house.  The one thing we do have is pasta though, and that gets used way more often than it should.  This year I would like to eat a mainly plant based diet.  Throwing in some eggs hopefully from our own chickens.  I'm saying plant based whole foods because we often will go to refried beans and nachos for dinner, beans and rice, chili, bean burritos.  Are you seeing a trend here?  It isn't that we don't eat vegetables, we do, a lot of vegetables, but our main meals tend to be bean/rice/pasta based, and I would rather it be veggie based with a little bit of those other foods as fillers.

Plan more freezer meals

Because we don't have a lot of convenience foods in the house, I need to try and make my own.  Having ready made beans in the freezer, making a large batch of veggie stock for soup, having my own pizza dough ready for our Friday night pizza parties, that would help.  Hopefully we can get a new freezer for the basement to hold more food.  Then I can make large batches of food, and freeze some for later.  It would also help when I have my hobby night and Matt is at a loss as to what to make for dinner.  :-)

Workout at least 3 times/week

Ah, the traditional "work out" goal.  I am actually doing well with this so far.  It is kind of complicated to work out with the kids around, but I have found that if I put up a gate and put a movie on for them, I can get at least 30 minutes in before everyone starts freaking out :-)  I would actually prefer to work out every day, at the same time.  I figure routine will help me keep to it.  But, I am going to say 3 times per week just to stay on the safe side!

Learn more about fermented foods (and eat more of them)

I love kimchi, but that is about the only fermented food that I eat, and Matt doesn't like it.  I have read that there are so many benefits to fermented foods, but I don't know what they are.  I would like to learn more about fermented foods, and then also start making some of my own.  I figure the winter time is a great time to do this because it isn't hot, and it is when it will probably help our immune systems the most.

Get outside more often

In the summer I try to get out everyday, but in the winter I tend to stay indoors.  I am not big on the cold, which is funny since I live in Maine, and am participating in the freeze yer buns challenge.  I think it might be the time commitment of getting both kids ready to go outside, and then only stay outside for 5 minutes because everyone is cold, or  has fallen down so many times due to not being able to move in all the layers :-)  I would like to try and get outside everyday though, even if it is for only 5 minutes.  I think the extra vitamin D would be helpful.

Do you have some health related goals this year?  Are you already living your healthy life?  Any tips you want to share?

organization and general life goals

I commented recently on a post about making realistic goals for the new year that I may have too many goals.  I think that in general the goals I am writing about are not necessarily "this year" goals, and more like life goals in general.  I have been working to move my life into a different, more intentional direction.  After realizing how fast this past year was, and that my 1st baby is almost four, and 2nd baby almost 2, it really put life into perspective.  I need to slow down, I need to enjoy the days more.  Here are my plans to do that this year.

Keep a family binder

When I was pregnant with Jack I started making a household binder.  I really love lists, I love organizational activities, and I was worried that after having a 2nd c-section I would need to pass something to Matt so that he could handle some of my job as a wife/mama without getting overwhelmed.  Luckily I really bounced back from that surgery (which was the complete opposite of my first experience).  I had compiled a great binder, but then through lack of sleep and days that seemed to slip away from me having a toddler and infant, I didn't use it.

This year, I would really like to make my binder work for me.  I am planning on doing a series on home binders starting next week.  I think the addition of command central has helped me start using my binder as a planning tool for my day.  My hope is that this binder will give a flow to my days, and also allow me to have a place where everything goes.  And if someone ever needed to come in and help my family for some reason, having the information available to them would be a great help I believe.

Have an emergency plan

I am a bit of a doomer when it comes to the goings on of the economy/global warming/world events.  I think it is my natural pessimism.  Not that I am not a happy person, I probably smile more than anyone you know :-)  But preparing for some sort of problem in the future is something I feel like we need to do.  And I am not talking zombies, but if there was another ice storm like when I was in high school and we lost power for a few weeks, what would our options be?  I want to create an emergency plan for my family, where we would go if we needed to leave the house, and also to have some supplies in the house if we were to need them.  Can I tell you we have only lost power once in our house since we moved here 5 years ago?  And it was for 4 hours...in the middle of the night.  So our supply of flashlights is next to nil and batteries for said imaginary flashlights...also non-existent...or maybe they are being stored in some toys :-)

Keep Saturday free as a family day

With Matt working 6 and sometimes 7 days each week, having a day to recharge as a family is important.  Back in September I wrote about finding time.  We had been going straight with working, and then having plans on Saturdays was giving me a slight headache :-)  After our awesome vacation we realized that we needed some more down time as a family.  Then the holidays took hold and we were busy every. single. weekend.  I would like to have Saturday be our family day again.  Not that we will never make plans for a Saturday, but we want to keep them open for us to relax and enjoy each others' company.  It may sound selfish, but if we are unhappy in our daily life how are we able to find joy in spending time with others and not viewing it instead as a burden?

Extend my "local food" to "local living"

It is relatively easy for me to eat a mainly local diet now.  I have been doing it for so long.  I'm not a purist of course.  Avocados and bananas are currently on my counter.  I would, however, like to extend my local eating to local living.  My little city has quite a bit to offer, and I'm sure that I could find the majority of what I need in town.  I think it is a little too easy to go to the much larger city next door to shop.  And every time I do that, we tend to spend a lot of money.  I think that if I tried to live more locally, I would spend less money, and less time running around.  I wanted to do a year of local living with Matt, but couldn't get him on board.  Maybe if I show him that it is easy, saving us time and money, he will jump on board.

Write more cards/letters

I love getting mail.  Not junk mail...or bills...but real mail.  The little cards and letters that friends send you randomly throughout the year.  Love it!  In this day and age, it is so easy to write out an e-mail, so letter writing has taken a huge back seat.  I want to send more letters this year.  It is hard to figure out what to say to someone who you may e-mail everyday, but I think that sending little notes of encouragement could brighten someones day.  So I am hoping to really jump on board with writing letters and cards again.

Do you have any general life goals for the year?  Are you trying to steer your life into a new direction?

crafting goals

This past Christmas I made the majority of the presents we gave to everyone.  It was insanely stressful, but I loved giving something that I made with my own two hands.  Entirely satisfying.  This year, my kids will be older, I won't have a little baby like I did last year.  Instead, they are able to play together and occupy themselves for periods of time without me having to intervene (for the most part).  My goals for crafting this year are:

Knit sweaters for my little family

I have knit a few little sweaters in the past couple years, one for my daughter, and one for each of my nieces.  This year I would like to knit myself a sweater as well as Matt and both babes.  I think I will probably start with the kids because knitting for littles is so much easier.  I think because they knit up so fast.  And then I will have to look at patterns for men's sweaters.  I already know which one I want to make for myself, but that will be last.  Stay tuned for updates on this :-)

Knit socks for myself

I rarely knit myself anything, but I was given a gift card for Christmas with the expectation that I would get something for myself.  So I am going to go out and buy the yummiest yarn I can find and knit up some socks for myself.  I better work on finding a pattern...I only have baby sock patterns...I'm hoping it doesn't take too long.  I have heard adult socks can be a not so fun project.  I am hoping for an easy pattern that will knit up quickly though.

Handmade presents for Birthdays/Christmas

I have it in my mind that I will make all of my presents this year.  I'm not sure if I will be able to accomplish this goal or not, but I am going in with a positive attitude.  And while I don't want to be thinking about Christmas gifts for 2012 right now, I think what will help me accomplish this goal is to start making now, and setting things aside for the holidays.  I am also going to cut way back on who we make for this next year.  I think we may be getting close to the time when we just give presents to the kids in the family, instead of everyone.  It gets really expensive, even if you are making it yourself.

Learn to make soap

This is one I have been thinking about for a while now.  I would love to learn to make soap.  It seems like a  fun hobby.  I think it might be a little expensive to start though, so I might not start that until some of our homestead goals are taken care of.

Sell something I have made

I really would love to sell something that I make.  Maybe through a craft fair in the fall or on etsy.  I haven't decided what I want to make to sell, but I'm sure I will come up with something.

Get through all of my works in progress

Self-explanatory :-)

What about you?  Do you have some crafting goals this year?

Joining Ginny in her yarn along!

education goals

I have so many education related goals.  Goals for me, for my kids, for us as a family.  I think that is because I read so much, I feel like I am constantly on the learning path.  At least I like to think that :-)  Without further ado:

For me:

Read one book per week

I actually don't think this will be a difficult one.  I read a lot of books, I read books fast, and usually have several going at once.  Maybe I should revise this to read 52 non-fiction books.  Now that seems like a much loftier goal.  I am going to keep it at 52 books period though.  I like to have a bit of fiction in my life, especially with all the doom and gloom I tend to pick up at the book store.  global warming, check; CAFO farming, check; climate change, check; end of the world, check :-)  Perhaps I should try a couple uplifting books in there...if you have any book suggestions, please leave a comment on my 2012 book list page.


This will definitely coincide with some of my food and health related goals, which I will write about on Friday.  I want to take this year and really learn about nutrition.  I love food, and creating new dishes for my family to eat is fun for me.  I also want to eat healthy.  There are so many different theories out there.  Last year I read a lot about the health benefits of vegan eating, and even gave being vegan for 30 days a shot.  While I enjoyed the workshop, I realized that I was eating more grains/beans/pasta than I liked, and started gaining weight.  I want to do more research on a plant based diet, see the health benefits and then also what may not be so great about it.

Learn more about HTML

I really do not know much about HTML at all, but I would like to.  I have all kinds of dreams for this blog, but not the money to support those dreams.  I do enjoy all the little coding pieces I have done, and hope that I can expand on that this year.  Maybe I will read an HTML book, and knock out two goals at once :-)

For the kiddos:

Teach Emma to read

We have been working on this for several months now.  She knows all her letters upper and lower case, she knows all the sounds, and we spend a lot of time with her identifying the letters and sounding out the word.  I have no idea how to teach a babe to read, and maybe when we start her new curriculum in February I will have a better idea.

Teach Jack the alphabet

Jack kind of gets a pass on education goals this year.  He will be two in August, so I hope that he will learn the alphabet by the end of the year, which is about the age when Emma had the letters down.  If not, I hope he continues to have a lot of fun playing with his big sister, and listening to stories :-)

Read more classics with the kids

When I had Emma I went through about 6 weeks of reading her fairy tales and classic children's stories non-stop.  And then when she turned about 2 months old, I had enough of the children's books and started to read my books to her.  By her first birthday I had read her Harry Potter 1-7, all the Narnia books, the Little House series and Pride and Prejudice.  OK, I may have become a little selfish with our story time, but when she would lay there for hours and listen to me, why not?  I have gotten away from reading such long books to the kids since Jack was born.  It is hard to corral two for a long story time.  I want to read more of the classics with the kids this year.  Now, don't think my kids are all prim and proper at the ripe old age of 3 and 1, they will play quietly (or not so quietly) and I will read to them...or follow them around while I read a book.  And also don't think I only read chapter books to them.  We have a HUGE collection of children's books, and I read those as well.

It seems that reading is a big goal for me.  I want to pass on my love of reading to the kids, and feel like reading aloud to them as well as them seeing me reading a lot will hopefully inspire them to love reading.  How else could I learn without reading something?

What about you?  What are your education/learning goals for 2012?

homestead goals

It is probably no surprise that I would love to have a large parcel of land (think at least 20 acres) and be able to supply all the food my family would ever want or need.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), I am not in that situation.  Instead, I live on a quarter of an acre in a small city.  I need to learn to make my *right now* work for me.  The following is what I have come up with as far as homestead goals this year.

Replace the roof

This isn't so much a goal, but it is something that really should have been done this past year.  We are hoping to have Matt do the work with a couple of friends this summer.  That will definitely cut down on the cost.  We will need to figure out staging since our house is 3 stories high, but I think we might be able to rent/borrow some from a friend at church.  We are planning on using our tax refund to pay for this, no vacation this year :-)

Install a chimney

In the fall of 2008 we bought a wood stove.  We knew that the chimney had been closed off from the house, but assumed we would just need to put in a new liner.  Unfortunately, that was not the case, and after we had a mason come to our house and do an estimate, we realized that our wood stove dreams were way more expensive than we were comfortable with.  This fall we hope to have saved up enough money to get the chimney fixed and the wood stove installed.  Luckily, we have a close family friend who will let us cut wood for free as long as we haul it out.  Done.

Start all of my own seedlings/plant seeds directly

Have you seen my seed order?  I know I am completely over my head with the amount of seeds I am ordering.  And sometimes I think maybe in my head a quarter acre is actually 25 acres.  But I am going to give starting seeds a go, and hope for the best.  I am not as concerned about this goal being completely successful, as it is really my first time trying to be serious about it.

Provide 75% of our spring/summer/fall vegetables from my garden

As with the above starting seeds, I want to provide a lot of the vegetables that we eat this year.  I know that I don't have enough space to really dedicate to winter storage crops, but I think I can definitely manage the spring/summer veg.  I also hope to preserve a lot of food for winter usage, but not holding my breath that will actually happen.  We eat a lot of veggies, and to have them available right outside my door would be a huge help in the grocery budget department.  My neighbor will also be doing a garden this year...his garden is about the size of my entire lot, house included.  Maybe he will let me plant some of my seedlings over there...hmmm...that's an idea.

Get chickens

Matt and I have been talking about getting chickens for a while now.  Well, mainly I have been talking and Matt has been nodding his head in somewhat agreement (or he has totally tuned me out at this point and doesn't know what he is agreeing to).  We go through so many eggs, and at $5/dozen at the farm now, I can't see how getting chickens for eggs would be a bad thing.  Sure, there is a learning curve, and of course we will need to figure out how to house them, but overall, I think it is a good idea.  Eggs are the only non-bean protein source that Emma will eat, which is fine with me, but means we need to buy the fresh from the farm eggs.  So hopefully this spring we will be the proud owners of some little baby chicks, who will hopefully grow to give us lots of eggs.  We are allowed 6 in our city.  I think we might start out with a few more just in case though.

These are my main homestead goals this year.  Obviously not a huge amount.  Some are very necessary, like getting the roof done, and others not so necessary, like providing 75% of our vegetables.  But, overall I think they are attainable and not so outlandish.  What about you?  Do you have specific goals for your home this year?

I'm linking up at the Barn Hop today :-)

a week of goals

As the new year rings in, many people are concerned about writing up new years resolutions or goals.  I have also read about people who do not want to have goals.  While I applaud that idea, living without goals, I am not one of those people.  I need goals.  I love to have something to look forward to, to plan for.  Not that having goals is an easy thing.  I regularly make huge and lofty goals that go no where fast.  I like the long term goals, and try to move my life in that direction, however it doesn't always work out that way.

I know that most people probably wrote out their goals last week, or even the 1st of the year.  I needed some time after the holidays to gather myself though, and have been working on them for a couple weeks now.  I think that really sitting down and thinking them through has helped me find some baby steps to meet them this year.  Or at least put me on the right path.

A couple of helpful resources I found from simplemom in her downloads section.  She has questions to reflect on the previous year, as well as questions to help formulate your goals for the New Year.  All of her info is extremely helpful in figuring out my life goals.  I like her approach.  Very direct, and makes me think through what I probably would gloss over.

This year I wanted to write down my goals in a public forum.  Hopefully that will keep me on track to accomplish them.  Probably not, but it is a start.  Each day this week I will have goals relating to a specific aspect of life for me.  I would love for everyone to join in and tell me their goals as well!

Do you regularly assess your life and goals?  Or do you not have set goals?

getting back on track

I don't know about you, but between Thanksgiving and New Years I kind of throw diet out the window.  We always have so many holiday parties, people over, places to go, sweets to bake.  It is impossible for me to stay good during this time.  And, I don't necessarily want to deprive myself of some awesome food because it isn't local/organic/healthy :-)  Mainly our weeks are about leftovers from the holiday parties on the weekends.  And when we run out of leftovers, we eat bland to try and recover, then onto the next party

Now that the holidays are over, I am ready to get on track with our diet again.  I am always tempted to do one of those 2 week detox diets after the holidays, and have actually done those before back in college.  Since I am still nursing, that won't be happening anytime soon, and I'm not entirely sure it is healthy to begin with.

Instead, my plan is to eat a lot more fruit and veggies and cut back on the pasta and homemade bread (serious weakness of mine).  I also would like to cut out dairy for a bit.  I think that it will end up saving me money because a large portion of our budget goes towards dairy.  Not all dairy of course, I still need cream in my morning cup (pot) of coffee.

I am going to go back to the green smoothies for breakfast, salad for lunch, sensible dinner plan.  It will definitely be strange doing this in the winter.  I haven't really been eating salads in the winter for several years.  I think mainly because organic lettuce is so expensive, and it doesn't taste nearly as good as what we get from the farmers' market during the summer.  And also all of those crazy lettuce/spinach recalls of 2006 and beyond.  But, my body has been craving salads and greens lately, and when my body is craving a specific food, I usually go with it (unless that food is chips, which my body is always craving :-)).

What about you?  Are you trying to get back on track with your diet now that the holidays are done?

building command central

I know that I have mentioned before that I have a relatively large kitchen.  It isn't gourmet, by any means, but it is definitely an eat in kitchen with plenty of cabinets and counters.  The problem (or opportunity might be a better word) is that I also have a formal dining room.  So the area that is meant for a kitchen table is empty.  Well, it hasn't always been empty, it has held a card table and Emma's kitchen that Matt built a couple years ago, but most recently, just dead space.

I spend a huge amount of time in the kitchen every day.  I mean, I am a stay at home mama, and my husband works from home.  We are committed to a whole foods diet, which means I cook 3 meals plus snacks pretty much every day.  I have a desk with my computer/binders/library books/bills etc. in the kids toy/school room, where we also spend a large majority of time.  But, when you have a 3 1/2 year old who loves to practice her writing on any paper she can get her hands on (mainly my to-do lists and calendar), and 16 month old who loves to climb on my desk, shut my laptop, and then sit on it while proceeding to throw everything else on the floor...you realize you need another option.

My idea was to have my wonderful husband build me a table that it is as high as our counter tops to keep all of my important information on.  That means that no one can reach up and grab my papers, and no one can climb up on it.

Here he is building the table:

Here it is all finished:

I still plan to staple the fabric to the table top, but we didn't get that far.  We are trying to decide whether to keep the fabric or to paint it.  For the time being the fabric will be staying.  I have to say that I am so pleased with it.  It is the perfect height for me to stand and work on whatever I need to.  I may eventually get a bar stool to sit on...you know...after my kids stop climbing all over the place, perhaps when they have moved out?

Do you have a section in your house that you are able to keep everything without it getting disturbed?  I think I took for granted my time without kids...

Christmas Presents!

What a year for me as far as making Christmas presents.  I was trying to do ALL homemade.  I think just about everyone received something I knit this year, except for the guys...hopefully next year they will also get hand made present.

For all of the ladies I made these really neat knit envelope holders.  I put some nice note cards, as well as a Micron pen which I absolutely love for my letter writing.

For my nieces I made little canvas bags with a fun fabric inside.  It was filled with little goodies like fabric paint so they could decorate them as a craft after the holidays.  I also knit a little scarf for my niece's doll to match the one I made her last year.

For the kids, Matt and I made them little tents.  I think they came out really well.  They do need either some rubber on the bottom of the wood, or some sort of hook for the top so that they don't fall down on our slippery hard floors.  As long as they aren't rough housing in them, they are fine, but as soon as someone falls into one, it is all over :-)

I made the kids hats, Emma a scarf and a pair of socks.  Poor Jack only got one sock, the other one is on the way :-)  I also made Jack his little Eli doll.  He likes it.  Emma got two little baby dolls to match her Ellie doll.  I didn't put eyes on any of them, and she promptly told me that they need eyes, so I will be looking for some embroidery floss when my craft room is clean again.

Overall it was an amazing Christmas season for us.  We had a lot of people over for family and friend parties, and I made a lot of awesome food.  I hope to maybe scale back how many presents I need to make next year, or start this month.  :-)

What was your favorite present to give or receive this year?  As always I am linking up with Ginny and her awesome yarn along.