January 29, 2014

cowls for the kiddos


I finished the scarves, woohoo!  I am really pleased with how they turned out, and I hope the recipients enjoy them.  It certainly is still cold enough to wear them, so that is a bonus!

I have now moved onto making a cowl for Emma.  It is in the same yarn as one of the scarves that I was knitting.  She was in charge of picking out yarn for the scarves, and also for her.  Apparently she really likes the pink sparkly yarn!  I guess I can't blame her, it is quite pretty.  I wish I could get a picture to show how sparkly it truly is.  I haven't done very many rounds yet, but it will eventually be in a basket weave pattern.  That is a pattern that I always like to go to when I am making something for Emma, it looks lovely on her.

As far as books go, I finished up Allegiant pretty much as soon as I started it.  It was a really great book!  I wasn't sure on the ending, and in fact I would have preferred a few things to be different, but overall, the series was great.  I think that the movies are going to be really interesting.  This is a series that I can see them definitely making three solid movies out of.

I recently started reading The Pleasure of His Company.  It is about cultivating a close relationship with God.  Honestly, I am using it more as a devotional than a book to just read right through.  It has some interesting stories, and the chapters are quite short, so it is easy to move through.

And I haven't done nearly as much reading as I would like in this past month because I have been binge watching the show Haven.  I was looking for a show that would appeal to my husband and also to me (does anyone else have that problem?!).  And I found Haven, the first three seasons are on Netflix.  I highly recommend it.  It is about an FBI agent that is sent to a little town in Maine, Haven, to search for an escaped convict, just to find out that this little town isn't what she thought it was.  Many of the people in Haven are troubled, they have these abilities, but don't know how to control them.  It is based on the Stephen King novel The Colorado Kid.  I have heard that the book is completely different though.  Actually, I think that might be another book to put on my list.  Excellent show, and it was just picked up for 26 more episodes, yay!  OK, I am done being a dweeb for now :-)

What are you working on this week?  Do you have any amazing books to share?  Or tv shows to recommend?

Linking up with Ginny, Nicole, and Tami

January 28, 2014

reinstating quiet time


Rest time, quiet time, nap time, whatever you want to call it; those glorious moments after lunch when your babes sleep.  Oh what a wonderful time that was.  Of course, my babes stopped napping a year and a half ago.  Jack was only just two at the time.  I thought for sure that he would pick up napping again, but he was more interested in hanging out with his big sister, and climbing on the furniture.  Our nap time was done.  Don’t feel too sorry for me though, when nap time ended, we started putting the kids to bed *much* earlier.  They are asleep by 7:10 most nights, and that has continued quite well.

Recently, however, I have noticed that the kids are getting extremely crabby in the afternoon.  I do not know how they go from playing so well together, doing school, enjoying each other and generally being kind to one another, to complete insanity after lunch time.

I decided to reinstate quiet time.

What does quiet time look like?  Well, yesterday was our first day back at it.  It mainly looked like me putting the kids in their bedroom, and turning on an audio book.  It also looked like, 20 minutes in, them yelling to me from upstairs if it was time to come down yet.  I tried to make it special by promising a fun activity after the story was done.  They did really well for about 30 minutes, and then they wanted to come down stairs to see what the “fun activity” was.  They did continue to go back in their room to listen to the story for the entire hour, but it was definitely a lot of me telling them to go back upstairs.  I hope that it gets easier.

I remember when I worked at a summer camp we had a rest time after lunch every.single.day.  Everyone did, all the way up to the teens.  It was not an easy time, getting eight girls to sit or lay on their bunks and be quiet for an hour, but somehow we managed.  And although I was laying in my own bed (praying for an hour of sleep, being a camp counselor is hard work!), telling them to be quiet for an hour, I am hoping that being in our own home, and in their own room, will help in this new part of our day.

My main goals for this time are to have an opportunity to clean up from lunch as well as catch up on some other chores that are no longer getting accomplished in the morning due to our homeschool time taking most of my attention.  And once in a while it would be nice to sit down for five minutes!  I think that as the kids get older (they are five and three right now), it will be easier to have them sit quietly and read a book or journal, or just rest.  Right now it is still about training them, wish me well for the rest of the week!


Do your kids still take naps?  When did they stop?  After napping stopped, did they still have a quiet time?

Linking up at Anything Goes and the Hip Homeschool Hop

January 26, 2014

Sunday Quotes


Winter is nature's way of saying, 'up yours.'
~Robert Byrne

January 23, 2014

vision boards - part 1


A couple of weeks ago I wrote about all of my goals for the year.  It was kind of crazy looking back on that week, and seeing all that I wanted to accomplish this year.  It seems very overwhelming sometimes, ok most of the time.  I have been doing research about so many different aspects of life for so long now; homesteading, homeschooling, life philosophies, being a lifelong learner, food, and slowly over the course of several years I have been making little, manageable changes.  But, once in a while I think that I need to make big changes, hence the very long list of goals I set for myself this year.

I have already talked a bit about how I am not necessarily going to hold myself to “you have to complete these in a year,” that seems too daunting, even for someone who enjoys change as much as I do!  Instead I am trying to think of ways to keep myself motivated throughout the year.

It is so easy to make a list of goals, or resolutions, or even to choose a word of the year, on January 1st; and then lose motivation after a few days or weeks, or maybe a month or so.  You can try, I can try, to keep everything at the forefront of life; thinking about accomplishing those goals constantly.  Then, life gets in the way.  There are little emergencies that seem to constantly creep up in life, and all of a sudden you realize a month has gone by and you haven’t thought once about making those little intentional choices to accomplish those goals.

I needed a second layer to my goal planning.  What was going to keep me motivated?  Of course I could set a time to look through my goals and make sure I was staying on track, but even that wasn’t entirely going to keep on the right path.  I needed something more visual.  That is when I thought of vision boards.

Vision boards, if you don’t already know, are essentially an inspiring collage of ideas.  Pictures, phrases, quotes, words.  They are all part of a vision board.  And a vision board serves to visually remind you of your goals or dreams for life (or really anything that you need to be motivated for!). 

Typically people cut pictures and words out of magazines to glue to some poster board.  I love this idea, but I wanted to make two.  The first one I am working on is essentially going to be all words, and I decided to make it a little art project myself.  So I am doodling away with the kids during our art time, and hopefully soon I will have it *done* enough in my mind to start adding the word I know I need to look at throughout this year in order to stay on track with my goals, and my mission for life.

It has been incredibly relaxing to go through this process!  Plus, sitting down and doing crafts with my kids is quite the stress reliever (after I let go of the mess).  I’m definitely not the best artist out there, but creating something pretty to look at is going to help me stay motivated.


Have you made a vision board?  Is it something you could work on with your kids?  Or as a relaxing evening activity?

Linking up at Making Monday, One Project at a Time and Anything Goes

January 22, 2014

knitting and reading


Yes, I am still knitting the scarves!  Actually, that pink scarf is almost done, and I just need to weave in the ends of the purple scarf.  I'm really just knitting a few rows here and there.  The kids have taken a bit longer to get back into homeschooling than I expected, so we have been spending a lot more time reading on the couch then doing a lot of individual work.  I think it is because they have been sick and sleepy and crabby, so stories on the couch with Mama are always preferred over math and writing!

This week I finished reading A Year of Biblical Womanhood.  It was interesting, to say the least.  I'm not sure I could do what she did, but at the same time I think some of her ideas were more extreme than others.  I guess you need that crazy aspect for some of these "one year" experiment books.  I did enjoy it, and it definitely made me question some of my own beliefs, as well as firming up others.  While I can definitely say that I don't agree with a lot of what she says, I still found the book highly enjoyable.

I started Allegiant last night, the last book in the Divergent series.  I have to say that I am definitely enjoying it.  My kindle app is telling me I am about 37% of the way into it, so reading it has been easy.  I definitely am enjoying this entire series.  I think there are some places that the writing could be stronger, but overall the story is addictive.  I'm slightly concerned about how it will end, because I have heard mixed reviews on the ending.  I like my books to wrap up nicely at the end, so we will see how this one goes.  I am excited that the series is being turned into a movie series.  I always like to see how a book is interpreted on the screen, and how it differs from what I picture in my head.

After I finish Allegiant, I will need to find another non-fiction book to read.  No clue what it will be, so suggestions are welcome.  Although, if I am being honest, I probably should start reading a gardening book.  Preferably one about companion planting and maximizing the space that you have.  Perhaps it will motivate me really plan my garden, instead of dream about the one that just isn't going to happen in my 9 4x4 garden beds :-)

What are you working on this week?  Have you read the Divergent series?  Are you looking forward to the first movie coming out this year?

Linking up with Tami, Nicole, and Ginny

January 20, 2014

the chicken dilemma


Oh the chickens, how I love them so, but not right now.  No, right now they are not laying eggs.  Actually, I’m not entirely sure that is the truth.  I think they are laying eggs, but they are eating them. 

We had been getting five glorious eggs each day.  I was shocked.  This is their second winter, and I know that normal chickens like to take the winter off.  But, my girls just kept on laying – well, not the araucana, she only ever laid one egg every couple of days and most definitely took last winter and this winter (and fall) off.

Then we had that incredible cold snap, and I am not sure why, but I think this triggered my girls into cannibals.  So, now they are eating their eggs.  Matt went to check on them one morning and they were all eating one egg – but just one.  Since then I was trying to get out there to get eggs as soon as they are laid.  Unfortunately, my chickens are also strange in their laying times.  Sometimes they lay early, sometimes they lay in the afternoon, and I swear that one likes to lay eggs around dinner time.  So unless I am prepared to go out and check every hour (I’m not), then I don’t think I have much of a chance of getting all the eggs.

Well, we haven’t gotten one blasted egg in the past two weeks.  It is cold here in Maine, obviously my hens are not out playing and eating grass and bugs.  No, they are eating very expensive organic feed.  And they were going through it like no tomorrow.  That was until I realized that we have something living under our chicken coop that has gnawed through the floor and was stealing chicken food (and possibly the eggs my chickens are not eating. 

So, we have a couple issues.  One being the infestation of something under the coop (please don’t say rats, please don’t say rats), which I think is probably rats, because I am assuming weasels would attack my chickens, any chicken experts out there?  The other issue is that we are going through too much feed, whether it is the chickens eating and not laying, or something stealing the feed out of the coop.  I think we will be butchering our chickens (or taking them somewhere to be processed) in the very near future.

It definitely makes me sad because these chickens have been a real blessing to us.  But, it also means that I can look forward to new chicks in the spring, which is always a fun thing to look forward to.  I’m not sure how excited my husband will be about getting chickens again (he hates when he has to do anything with regards to the chickens), but I know that he enjoys eating the many eggs we get.  My hope is that we can eradicate the problem of the critters under the coop and start new in the spring.  And in case anyone is wondering, we keep the bag of chicken feed in our house, and nothing is in our house eating the food!  We started taking the feed in at night hoping whatever is under the chicken coop would go away, so far it hasn’t worked. 


Any tips for chickens that eat their own eggs?  What do you do with hens that don’t lay in the winter?  Critter proofing a hen house?  We didn’t have any issues last year!  Why now?!

Linking up at the Homestead Barn Hop

January 19, 2014

Sunday Quotes


The shortest day has passed, and whatever nastiness of weather we may look forward to in January and February, at least we notice the days are getting longer.  Minute by minute they lengthen out.  It takes some weeks before we become aware of the change.  It is imperceptible even as the growth of a child, as you watch it day by day, until the moment comes when with a start of delighted surprise we realize we can stay out of doors in a twilight lasting for another quarter of a precious hour.
~Vita Sackville-West

January 16, 2014

Notes From a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider


This post is part of the Blue Bike Blog Tour, which I am excited to be a part of!  To learn more and join us, head here.

Intentional Living; something we all find enormously important.  Making those little choices every day about how we eat, how we want our kids to learn, where we are working, it is all done with intention.  Or is it?


Why is it so difficult in our Western world to slow down and really savor all that life has to offer?  Why are we so focused on moving so quickly through life?  Constantly onto the next thing.

These are questions that I have been asking myself for a while now.  What would it be like for me to slow down, to have my family slow down?  Is it even possible in this world full of smart phones and instant updates on everything from what you had for breakfast, to the cute thing your child just did (that was me, by the way, posting that cute picture of my kids making a mess)?

Intentional Living; the slowing down of life, realizing that we need to actively make these choices is the first step.  Then what?  It seems like I am constantly fighting against the current.  I want to have a presence on Facebook, because that seems to be the only way I can get updates on certain parts of life.  But, if that is the only way I can get an update on something, is it really worth knowing?  Should we be so tuned into the everyday of people we do not spend as much time with, or at all, in the real world?  Do I need to follow the trending hashtags of the day on Twitter?


With all of this noise around me, I get in my own way.  I did a series on getting back to the basics last fall, what it meant to me, attempting to be intentional.  Looking back, am I better off now than I was then?  Did I move ahead with the changes I wanted to make?  Well, of course yes to some and no to others.  I’m not entirely sure I know how to move ahead with so many changes that people view as off the beaten path.

Luckily, I do not seem to be alone in these thoughts.  In fact, Tsh Oxenreider has written an entire book on the subject, one that I am currently devouring.  It is amazing to hear her voice in this book; making the many choices to live intentionally.  It is not just one choice, it is many choices, and it is many choices made every single day. 


One of my favorite parts of this book was the section devoted to food (because it all seems to come back to food with me!).  She writes about the first time she heard about the “slow food” movement, and how she and her husband thought it was a joke for a long time, never having heard of “slow food” in the US before.  Food is a conscious choice I have to make every day.  I have to choose to cook from scratch.  I have to choose where or who I am going to buy my food from.  If I want to support local farmers, I need to seek out ways to buy my food from them; either through a CSA, or Farmers’ Market, or a local buying club.  If those choices are not available to me, I have to look at ways to make them available to me.

Eating local, organic, whole foods is important to me.  It is one reason I don’t keep a lot of convenience foods in the house.  If I had the convenience foods, it would make life a heck of a lot easier when I wanted to just fix something, but if it were there, I would have a harder time going the “slow food” route that is important to me.  If I want to eat cupcakes, I have to make the cupcakes from scratch.  If I want to eat a good dinner, I have to plan ahead for it otherwise we will be eating eggs and toast - again.  It is all these little choices throughout the day that we have to make, and we have to make in relation to what is important to us.

Below you can find the trailer for Notes From a Blue Bike




Notes From a Blue Bike is written by Tsh Oxenreider, founder and main voice of The Art of Simple. It doesn’t always feel like it, but we DO have the freedom to creatively change the everyday little things in our lives so that our path better aligns with our values and passions. Grab your copy here.

January 15, 2014

knitting and reading


Well here it is the second week in January and I still am working on some late Christmas presents.  It is sad, I know, but I hope the girlies who will receive these will enjoy them…and hopefully they will get them before the cold weather goes away!

After I finish these two projects, I will have to move on to something new.  And new means that I get to take a trip to the yarn store.  I have been considering a scrap yarn blanket for some time, but I haven’t actually started it.  I thought that might be a good project to finally start this year.  I’m sure that it won’t hold my interest all that long, but I was thinking of something that I could easily work on throughout the summer when I am most definitely not thinking of knitting.

I also talked a little last week during my crafting goals post that I wanted to make the kids some cowls.  I think that this will probably be a relatively easy project to do, I mean, they obviously have very small necks, so the cowl doesn’t need to be that big!  But, I need to get new yarn before I can make them.  I want something soft, and probably kind of chunky that will knit up quickly.  Any ideas would be welcome!

As far as reading goes, I have committed to reading 100 books again this year.  Well, I am not entirely sure that I reached that goal last year…I slacked off on recording the books that I did finish.  I am determined to keep better track this year though!  I don’t know how far I will get, or if it is a completely ridiculous goal; two books each week doesn’t sound too difficult to me, but we shall see!  However, considering I have only finished two books so far this year, and we are two weeks in, I am not sure how well this will is going to go!

Right now I am reading two books.  The first is one that I saw last year and wanted to read, but never got around to getting the book; A Year of BiblicalWomanhood.  The premise is really interesting.  A woman goes through the Bible and follows all the commands of women in the Bible.  I think it is really interesting to see how she reacts to things such as homemaking and cooking.  There are other areas where I think she may be stretching the Bible a bit, like the chapter on calling her husband “Master” – after Sarah calling Abraham Lord.  I am enjoying the book, but I do feel like she may take some things out of context.  Of course, this is all based on my own personal reading of the Bible, and the teachings that I have come to know over the years.  Obviously everyone has a different experience and will interpret things differently.

The other book that I am reading currently, and am extremely excited about, is Notes From a Blue Bike, by Tsh Oxenreider (of the Art of Simple, formerly Simple Mom).  So far it is amazing.  I love how she speaks about intentional living.  It challenges my own thinking on how to live intentionally.  Tomorrow I will have a lot more to say on this book, so come back to read more!


What are you working on this week?  Are you reading any new books?

Linking up with Tami, Nicole, and Ginny

January 14, 2014

revisiting project based homeschooling


Last year was the first year I really had heard about Project Based Homeschooling.  I had seen the book on a yarn along, being read by several other homeschooling mamas.  I thought it was a good idea to check it out, and I was not disappointed.  I love the idea of letting your children really take control of a project from start to finish.  The brainstorming involved, the ideas that flow from one step to another.  The problem that I had was that I was still trying to facilitate the project, giving ideas on the next step, which is the exact opposite of what project based homeschooling really is.

Honestly, I am not sure that is such a bad thing when my kids were and are so little.  They need my help on a lot of things (obviously!).  But, there is definitely a way that I can give them the freedom and wait for them to ask me for help.  I talked about this a little last week when I listed my homeschooling goals for the year.  I think the struggle I have is watching them struggle for the next step, so instead of letting them figure it out, I give them the answer.  It was not such an issue last year, but towards the end of the year, Emma was letting me know that I was cramping her style as far as leading her in the right direction.

Now we are going to try project based homeschooling again, hopefully in a better way so that the kids don’t get frustrated, and I don’t get flustered with things seemingly being derailed.  This week we are going to brainstorm different ideas of what they might want to start working on.  I want them to pick something they are interested in for more than five minutes.  I want to take the steps to get them the supplies they will need, and to not worry about the mess that is surely going to come.

Last week we started making collages.  It was hard for me to let them go about their work without me helping.  Emma was very excited to find a cheerios ad in a magazine, and had to put that on her collage.  Who am I to say that putting a cheerios ad on her collage is a bad idea?!  So I let them get to it, and they worked on it all week.  It was really nice to see them working together to create something they were so proud of.  Jack may have gotten a little out of control in the cutting up of magazines, but now we have scraps all ready for another project (one I have yet to figure out!). 


Are you a project based homeschooler?  Or someone who lets their kids work on projects for long periods of time?  

Linking up at Hip Homeschool Hop

January 13, 2014

2014 garden planning - part 1


I am still a bit in shock that it is January.  It seems like last year was a complete blur to me.  A good blur, but still a blur!  Now, typically January is such a long and cold month for me.  This year hasn’t disappointed where the cold is concerned.  Of course, the start of the new year means the start of garden planning!

I typically get one seed catalog right before Christmas, and it always makes me excited to start planning my garden.   This year I received three seed catalogs before Christmas.  I try to hold off until after the holiday madness to look at the catalogs though.  I’m sure some people can’t wait, and honestly, I have a hard time waiting.  But, I know that if I start when the catalogs come in, I will get lost in them, and won’t accomplish all I need to for the holidays.

This week will be the time that I get to sit down and start planning out our garden for the summer.  Last year I let Emma help me pick out some seeds that she wanted to try.  I think it is a great thing for kids to be involved in gardening.  And this year Jack will be more involved as well.  I like for them to see the complete life cycle of the garden, from starting the seeds to planting and eventually eating.

One of my homesteading goals for the year is to grow as much of our spring/summer/fall produce as possible.  In order to do that I really need to plan better.  I like to think that I have more garden space than I do, and because of that I tend to plan for more plants than I have space for.  This year I want to expand the garden some more (although, I think every year I end up expanding!). 

I would like to make sure that I have a constant stream of lettuce being planted.  Last year was the first time we grew lettuce, and my kids loved being able to just go out to the garden and literally pick their salad.  I also would like to try potatoes again.  We did try them a few years ago, just a few pounds planted, but it produced a solid amount, and they were DELICIOUS!  I would also love to set up a three sisters garden (corn/pole beans/squash) for the kids.  I thought it would be something they would enjoy. 

My first step for planning my garden this year should be looking back at what did really well for me last year.  I think I am going to start with the seed catalog, dream about what could be, and then come back down to reality to see what did well last year, and what I want to change. 


Have you started planning your garden yet?  Do you start seeds in the winter, or do you wait until the green house has all of their seedlings out?  Or is it a combination?  Have you been anxiously awaiting seed catalogs?

Linking up at Homestead Barn Hop

January 12, 2014

Sunday Quotes


Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.
~Abraham Lincoln

January 11, 2014

The Offering by Kimberly Derting

offering

The Offering by Kimberly Derting True love—and world war—is at stake in the conclusion to The Pledge trilogy, a dark and romantic blend of dystopia and fantasy. Charlie, otherwise known as Queen Charlaina of Ludania, has become comfortable as a leader and a ruler. She’s done admirable work to restore Ludania’s broken communications systems with other Queendoms, and she’s mastered the art of ignoring Sabara, the evil former queen whose Essence is alive within Charlie. Or so she thinks. When the negotiation of a peace agreement with the Queendom of Astonia goes awry, Charlie receives a brutal message that threatens Ludania, and it seems her only option is to sacrifice herself in exchange for Ludanian freedom. But things aren’t always as they seem. Charlie is walking into a trap—one set by Sabara, who is determined to reclaim the Queendoms at any cost.


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Praise for The Offering "This was a truly epic ending to the series." --Crystal Perkins, Goodreads Review "The final book in Kimberly Derting’s Pledge trilogy is a thrilling conclusion. I was immediately swept up into it and powered right through. It was pretty much what I wanted with a few surprises along the way." --Krys at Bibliopunkk Reads

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Pledge Trilogy

This series was incredible!  I loved it from the first book.  The Offering is the third book in the series, and I have to say that it was a quick series to get through.  The first book was incredibly fast paced, able to be read in nearly one sitting!  

The best part of this series for me, was the character development.  There are so many books these days that do not develop characters well, but the Pledge series is definitely not one of them.  To see the transformation of Charlie from the first book to the end was exciting.  

I think that anyone who loves the fantasy genre will enjoy this series!

Excerpt from The Offering:

The two guards dragged Xander toward a small, round opening in the stone floor, a hole through which blood could easily drain away to the sewers.  They, along with two others who’d appeared, pinned him to the ground while he continued to writhe and scream. They waited until he was too weary to fight any longer. Until he had no other option but to accept this fate he’d been handed.
Then the executioner raised his blade.
Niko would have closed his eyes, if Elena wasn’t observing him so keenly. Unlike Niko, she had no interest in turning away. She seemed to relish the moment.
When the axe fell and the sharp crack of metal struck stone beneath, he felt the slightest jerk from beside him. But when he turned his gaze on her, he saw that she was frowning at the hem of her gown, rather than at the grisly view at her feet.
“Will you look at that,” she clucked, craning her neck to get a better look, and ignoring everything else going on around her. “He got blood on my new dress.”

  kimberly derting

Author Kimberly Derting Kimberly Derting is the author of the BODY FINDER series, THE PLEDGE trilogy, and THE TAKING (coming April 2014 from HarperTeen). She lives in the Seattle area, with her husband and three children, who often find the outrageous things they say either in the pages of her books or posted on Twitter or Facebook for the entire world to see.

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January 10, 2014

food goals


Out of all the goals I have set for the new year this week, the food goals are probably the simplest, but also most difficult!  Food is such a funny thing; a very personal choice for so many people.  Everyone seems to know the “best” way that you should eat.  However, I think everyone is different, therefore some people do better with a different set of food rules than someone else would.

My main goal for food this year is to eat clean.  What does that mean exactly?  Well, it is mainly to stay away from the Standard American Diet (SAD).  I want to stay away from processed foods.  I want to make sure that I am making food from scratch.  I actually love to do this, but the problem I find is the time requirement involved.

I would like to start baking more than one loaf of bread at a time.  It seems I make one loaf and it is gone approximately 20 minutes after I take it out of the oven.  We are only a family of 4…two of whom are tiny little people with enormous appetites for freshly baked bread.  I made bagels yesterday for the second time in my life, and don’t know why it isn’t a part of my weekly routine. 

Really, I want to get back to the basics of food.  Like Michael Pollan says ask yourself if your grandmother or great-grandmother would recognize it as food, if not, don’t eat it.  

It is the dead of winter right now, so while thinking about my food goals, I am also thinking about my garden goals.  I want to produce as much of the food we eat as possible.  It is something that I take pride in, even if it is only a frittata with eggs from the chickens and veggies from our garden. 

Overall, I think clean eating is where it is at this year.  I have made so many changes to my family’s diet over the past several years, that now the main goal is to stick with it.  It isn’t easy to not eat processed food.  It isn’t easy to make all your snacks.  But, it is definitely rewarding (and usually tastes better!).


Do you have any specific food goals this year?  Have you tried a more local and seasonal diet?

January 9, 2014

personal goals


It is an interesting thing, putting your personal goals up for the entire world to see.  It definitely helps in the way of accountability.  I mean, who wants to put up a bunch of goals only to not finish them?  Well, I would like to say that isn’t me, but to be honest, I rarely ever complete all of my “goals for the year.”  I am definitely learning that it is ok to not accomplish all of my goals.  And realizing some goals take a lot longer than a year to accomplish.

My personal goals are really important to me this year.  Maybe because they are for my own well being, and not contingent on another’s actions.  That is key.  Not letting your goals be altered by any other person.  These are your  goals.  Without further ado, personal goals!

Being Present

This is an important one.  It seems like every day that goes by, more technology is available to take my mind away from what is important.  Do I really need to see every update on Facebook?  No.  Is it easy to get sucked into every update on Facebook?  Absolutely!  It isn’t just Facebook though, it is about anything that takes me away from the present.  I have so.many.things. that I want to accomplish, it is easy to get wrapped up in that and forget that I am also supposed to be living my life.  My kids are little now still, but I see how fast every year has been going, I want to be present for everything.  I don’t want life to pass by in a blur.  I’m sure many of you mamas can relate!

Books

Last year I had the crazy idea to read 100 books in 2013.  I have no idea if I actually finished that goal.  About 4 months into the year I stopped logging my books in Goodreads as soon as I finished them.  When you finish a book in the middle of the night, logging it online, or even putting in on a paper list, is not a top priority.  So in addition to reading 100 books this year, I would like to actually log all of the books I read.  I also hope to read a lot of non-fiction.  It is easy for me to read a novel; I get lost in the story and want to finish it as soon as possible.  With non-fiction, it typically makes me question my own life and choices, and therefore takes a lot longer to complete.  So far this year I started the Divergent series and also read Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson.  I think that if I read a fiction book, and then a non-fiction book, maybe I can increase my non-fiction reading.

Self-care

Self-care is a funny thing.  It obviously is something that is selfish, but it is also something that is so needed for every person (especially mamas!).  For the first several years of motherhood I put everything I had into my kids.  I didn’t take care of myself, and it was evident to me that I needed to.  This past year I spent a lot more time trying to center myself, figuring out what I needed to do to make my life as a stay at home mama to work.  I realized that taking time for myself was important.  However, as a mama of littles it seemed next to impossible to find that time.  That is when I realized my desire to wake up early in the morning wasn’t just a desire, it was a necessity. 

Over the past several weeks, maybe even months, I have let myself fall away from that practice of getting up early, but I definitely still need it.  I can’t expect to find time during the day homeschooling children who no longer nap.  No matter how well they play by themselves, I realize that as soon as they are happy and playing independently, and I sit down to do my own thing, there will be a crisis.  Maybe I am the only person this happens to, but I’m assuming I’m not the only one.  If I am, please give me your tips!

Taking the time to take care of myself is important.  It is hard work being present all day with my kids, and not taking any time for myself.  And by the end of the day I am completely spent, and feel like I must just zone out.  So early mornings it is!  Reflecting on the previous day and planning for a new day as well as journaling and having my quiet time is important, and I need to get back into it.  It feeds my soul and prepares me for the day ahead.  The days when I am up early and accomplish all I feel like I need to before starting breakfast for the kids (you know, like drinking my pot of coffee!), I am better off, and my kids are better off.


What about you?  Do you have important personal goals you would like to accomplish this year?  Any good books that you think I should put on my list?

January 8, 2014

crafting goals


Oh crafting, how I love you so!  Unfortunately, I never seem to accomplish all of my crafting goals – not even close!  This year I am giving myself a much bigger break than the other goals that I have.  Why?  Because I really do all of my crafting for my own enjoyment.  It is typically a relaxing activity for me (except around Christmas when I tend to put the pressure on myself), so why do I need goals at all?  Well, again, it gives me something so strive for.  What are my goals regarding crafting this year?

Sewing

This year I would like to spend a lot more time sewing.  I have in the past, but not as much last year.  It is something that I definitely enjoy, especially because it seems that I can whip up projects in such a short amount of time (which is the complete opposite of knitting for me!). 

Mainly, I would like to make more garments.  Specifically skirts and tops for Emma and I, and shorts and tops for Jack.  I would love to also do some pajama pants for the kids, I never seem to be able to get the sizes that I need, either the waist fits but they are too short or the length is right but they fall off when the kids are running around.

I would also love to make two quilts.  One for Emma from all of her receiving blankets, and one for Jack with all of his receiving blankets.  I have had the receiving blankets in bags for several years now, always looking at them and wanting to make a quilt, always afraid that I will totally screw it up.  I hope this is the year I just bite the bullet and start them – finishing would also be good!

Knitting

My hope for this year is to increase the amount of projects I do.  The only way that I will be able to do that is to knit faster, or find larger periods of dedicated knitting time.  I think that since the kids are a bit older, I will have a little more time for knitting. I won’t have to be as concerned about a little taking off with my yarn while I am not looking (or I am looking!). 

Last year I wanted to knit sweaters for both of the kids.  But, I ended up only knitting for Emma.  This year I would like to knit sweaters for the kids and also for myself.  I’m not sure I will knit something for myself…I really like knitting for kids because it doesn’t take nearly as long.  However, I think that knitting a sweater for myself would be wonderful. 

In the meantime I plan to knit more cowls for myself and the kids (and maybe Matt!).  I realized over Christmas that the kids preferred wearing a cowl that I had rather than their scarves, and it stayed on a heck of a lot better.  Cowls for kids seems like a relatively easy project, so I will be starting that after I finish the final two Christmas presents I am working on – yes Christmas presents!

My whole hope for this year, crafting wise, is to do more of it.  I feel like the kids are a little older and I can do a bit more, and I hope that I carve out the time to actually do what I set out to, instead of letting the time escape me.


What about you?  Do you have some pressing crafting goals this year?  Do you want to knit more, learn a new crafting skill?  And quilters – tell me the truth, is it really difficult?  Or have I been psyching myself out too much?

Linking up with Nicole, Tami, and Ginny

January 7, 2014

homeschooling goals

It might sound a bit odd to write up homeschooling goals in January.  However, I think it is a perfect time!  We do “school” all year, and I find that I am constantly revisiting my plans for the year.  I would love to say that I am great at picking out the entire curriculum and planning out the year, but I have come to realize it is better to go with the flow.  We add in things and we take things away, I will realize that a book is just not doing it for us, or the kids want to spend a large amount of time learning about bugs and I have to supplement.  Making new goals when we turn the calendar is always a good idea for me!

Projects

We love projects.  I am assuming that most kids do.  Projects mean freedom and also typically include a certain amount of mess (are my kids the only ones drawn to all that is messy?!).  Last year I read Project Based Homeschooling.  I really enjoyed the book, although aimed more at classrooms than homeschoolers.  The underlying information of allowing kids to fully explore something that interests them, giving them the tools to do it, and encouraging them to finish what they start is extremely appealing to me, and also seems to work well for my kids.  However, we haven’t done nearly as many projects as I would like.

It seems like the rest of school gets in the way.  I am not entirely sure how to fix that.  I am still planning on the kids doing math and reading and writing, but figuring out a way to do it in connection with their projects is a little difficult – mainly because my kids are still so young and need my help.  I can’t send them off to research something when they are learning how to read.  Instead, I think I will try and dedicate specific time in the day, or maybe weekly, for the kids to work on their projects.  I want them to be available to the kids whenever the mood strikes, so we will probably leave them out on the large table we have in their play room, which will mean it is out of my sight as far as mess goes!

Units

In addition to projects, I want to work more on units.  The kids are frequently coming up to me asking about something, this morning it was the life of a bug, and often I give a quick answer to the question and move on to “more important school things.”  But, I definitely don’t want to kill that curiosity.  I think that in conjunction with the projects, units would be a good idea.  It can still be the “interest-led” learning that I love for my kids, while being able to focus on certain ideas or subjects that they have questions about.  I don’t want to necessarily direct projects, but at 5 and 3 I am sure they could use a little encouragement.

Attitude

OK, so attitude is probably not what you think.  I am not talking about a “bad attitude” towards school or the kids.  Nope, I am really talking about my attitude on how the kids work through school.  Oftentimes I find myself telling Emma the “right” way to do things, and I am trying to stop that.  Obviously I know there is a correct way to write letters and 2 + 2 only ever equals four, but I need to let my girl do her own thing instead of immediately jumping in to tell her the way to do it.  If she fails, and asks for help, that is one thing, but I should at least let her try!  I do at some things, but I want to have a better attitude about this overall.  She is learning and has to have the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them. 


What about you?  Do you have goals for how the rest of your school year is going to go?  Things you might want to change or mix up?  home school, public school, private school, anything goes!

January 6, 2014

homesteading goals


Yesterday I wrote about how I was going to have a week’s worth of goals…which is a bit of a goal in and of itself!  I wanted to start with homesteading, but thought I should touch on what homesteading is to me.

If you have been reading here a long time you will know that we live on a very modest ¼ acre lot.  Now, that does not mean that I have ¼ acre of land to “homestead.”  No, that also includes our very large driveway and house.

Homesteading for us has always meant making ourselves, and our home, a producer instead of a consumer.  It is so easy to consume in this day and age, not as easy to balance that out with producing some of our needs (and wants!).

Homesteading goals:

Chickens.  We have them.  Laying hens currently, although I am not sure how much longer these particular hens will be with us.  We love our ladies, but it has been a cold winter of not many eggs and a very high cost of feed.  I know that we will get chicks again, but I am not sure that new layers will be this year.  This year I would like to get meat chickens.

I am not a big meat eater.  Actually, I would much prefer being a vegan.  My husband is not this way, and so I am trying to provide more meat dishes.  The problem is, and part of the reason I don’t eat a lot of meat to begin with, the way the animals are raised as well as food safety concerns.  I am not a fan of the whole big agribusiness model.  I believe in small, local farms.  Ones that know what is going on with their animals as well as the land the animals (or vegetables) are on.  We have several providers of meat in our area, and it is all delicious and happily raised.  But, I am at the point where I want to take it a step further.  I feel like raising our own meat would be a good choice if we continue to eat meat.  I also think that it is a good skill to learn for the future (for my husband and I, as well as our children).

I am pretty sure that we will not be processing the birds ourselves.  In fact I can guarantee that won’t happen.  So it will be baby steps (I love my baby steps!), raise the birds ourselves and then hire someone to help us process them.  Then maybe next year I will be able to get up the courage to do it myself.

Garden.  This past year I was so happy with our garden.  It produced a lot of food.  I was able to eat a salad out of the garden every day as well as make many meals with what we had just outside in our backyard.  My kids loved to pick the vegetables, and I realized that if I plant anything that turns out purple (tomatoes, beans, peppers, cabbage, carrots), they will eat it.  Not to mention, my wonderful husband built me several garden boxes to make the garden more organized, and much prettier!

This year I want to expand the garden more.  I really do love the garden.  I also know that I don’t plan well enough and the weeds take over halfway through the summer.  I need to be more diligent about pest management (this is me wishing I could spray the crap out of those cucumber beetles and squash bugs, but instead pick them off and squirt soapy water on them).  Expanding the garden will also involve expanding some fencing.  We need to fence off the garden due to some friendly wildlife that has decided to move nearby (and to protect against rogue chickens).   Someday I would like to have the entire backyard fenced in, and not be as concerned about the garden fencing, but I am not sure that will happen this year.

I want to be able to preserve more from the garden.  Last summer, pretty much all the veggies we ate came from our garden.  I also was able to save several pie pumpkins and winter squash, all of which have been feeding us well through this early winter, and will continue to feed us for a while longer.  I want to plant potatoes this year.  I planted some a few years ago, not a lot, and they were absolutely delicious.  We obviously don’t have the space to dedicate to a lot of winter storage vegetables, but some would be nice!

Finally, I would like to start all of my seedlings.  I know this is highly unlikely.  It seems like no matter how many seedlings I start inside, the greenhouse still offers ones I had not thought of, or look interesting and I want to try.  One of my first goals, this month really, is to go through my seed catalogs (all of which arrived in early December), and figure out what I am going to plant, what I have, and what I need.  I will be sharing more of that here as well.

These are the main things I would like to accomplish this year in regards to our little homestead.  We are limited somewhat in what we are able to do because we live in town, and my husband’s desire not to live on a little farm!  But, the kids and I do what we can. They love the chickens, they love the garden and planting seeds, and I believe these are all good activities for the kids to be involved in.


Have you started thinking about what you might change in your garden, or on your homestead this year?  Do you have improvement projects you have been putting off?  We certainly do!

Linking up at the Homestead Barn Hop

January 5, 2014

a week of goals

A couple years ago I thought it would be a good idea to have an entire week full of posts about my goals.  I have a lot of goals for completely different areas of my life, and find it useful to separate them into categories.  This week I will be spending some time looking at goals in these different categories once again.

Goals vs. Resolutions

I used to set resolutions for each and every New Year.  They would be the typical ones that most people set.  Lose weight, eat healthier, spend more time offline, read more books.  Unfortunately, they never really stick.  Maybe I don’t have the right attitude to make a resolution permanent, or maybe my mind just works differently.  Now, instead of resolutions, I set goals.

Goals are something that can be worked towards.  A resolution seems like you have to complete it on day one.  This, of course, works for a few days, but then it falls off because life gets busy. 

Goals are something that I can look at throughout the year and keep working on them.  Now, this isn’t to say that I complete all of my goals in a year; far from it actually.  In fact, I often look at my goals as a long term type of thing, not something that will be always finished in a year.  I constantly want to better myself, and so these goals act as guides to where I want to be.  I set short term goals as well, ones I know that I will be able to complete, but overall I think I set goals in order to see where I want to be, and how I want to get to that place.

Word of the year

Last week I talked about my word of the year for 2013, change.  And it worked really well for last year.  I spent a lot of time making drastic changes in my life.  I am at a much better place now emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  I really thrived on the changes I made, and still look forward to more changes this year as well.

I was not entirely sure I would choose another “word of the year,” but after some reflection on last year, I decided that I did want to find a guiding word.  This year, my word will be balance.

It is so easy to swing from one end to the other.  Either I am concentrating on everyone else, and forgetting about myself, or I am concentrating on myself and not able to be as committed to others.  I need to find a balance.  Balance with the internet and my blog, balance with commitments, balance between time with my kids and husband and myself.  Balance is something that is not easy to achieve, but I hope to use it as a guide while moving forward with my goals for this year.

Categories

Which categories will I be looking at as far as my goals go?  Well, they are all the things that I write about here at Townsend House.  Homesteading (dealing with my garden and our very small ¼ acre plot of land), homeschooling, crafting, personal goals, and finally health/foodrelated goals.  I would also love to add in a category of preparedness, although I am not sure I will get there.  These past few weeks of power outages and extremely cold temperatures have really made me re-access how prepared we are to deal with such things.

Overall, there will be many goals, and I most likely will not achieve all of them.  I am ok with that though.  This was not always the case.  In fact, it is why I moved away from resolutions to begin with.  I didn’t want to feel like a failure.  Now, however, I can continue to work on my goals regardless of the time frame.  Obviously there are some goals that need to be completed in certain amounts of time, but I try not to make all of my goals with a specific date in mind.  I give myself a little grace on some goals, and then I have enough gumption to power through the goals that need to be completed in a timely manner!


I hope you will join in the conversation of goals vs. resolutions.  And if you have written about your own goals or resolutions or word of the year, please leave a link below, I would love to read about them.  If you haven’t written a post about it, but still have some goals to share, leave a comment below!

Linking up with Clever Chicks

January 2, 2014

Welcome 2014!


OK, so obviously I should have wished everyone a Happy New Year yesterday, but I was enjoying time with my family and did not get to it.  In fact, I had many plans for recipes and other blog posts leading up to Christmas.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, a bunch of computer issues ensued, and I decided that I would instead take a blog break and enjoy time with my family instead of worrying about getting a post up.  

It was a great decision!

In fact, it was such a great decision that I didn't even attempt to try to do all the posts I was thinking about for the New Year.  You know, all of the resolutions, all of the goals, the word of the year.  All of which I typically will be fully ready to share.  

The rush between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year was a little crazy.  It was a short time period to get everything done, and I didn't get everything done.  Not even close.  Christmas picture?  Nope!  Christmas cards?  Definitely not!  I didn't even bake everything I had planned.  I realized it was OK though.  I needed to allow myself a little grace to not get everything done, including blog work.

So here we are, January 2nd in a brand new year.  What does that mean?  Well, I am pretty sure I will still be sharing goals and resolutions and whatever else I can pull out for changes I want to make this coming year.  But, it won't be this week!  It will be in the coming weeks.  And I think that it will be great.

Typically I am ready to roll in the new year with a very long list.  This year I am taking a bit more time to form my thoughts on what I want to do in the coming weeks and months.  The resources I typically use are from The Art of Simple.  I really like her reflection questions and goal setting questions for the new year.

What about you?  Have you figured out what your plans for this year are?  Are you going to take some time to reflect and set goals or resolutions?