Keep Your New Year's Goals on Track!

I have been talking a lot about goals this month.  I realize that in order to live my best life, I need to constantly be re-evaluating goals and the small steps in order to accomplish those goals.  Last week I talked a bit about how I have a lot of paper in my house, and how it is ok to have that paper.  But, there are some areas where I don’t want to have the paper.  And that is where my iPhone comes in handy!

I love to have different apps available to keep me on track. 

Families already have technology front and center in their lives why not use it to encourage growth in the areas that you most want to improve on?

In fact, recent survey findings by Prosper Mobile Insights indicate more than one in four US smartphone or tablet owners plan to use their smart mobile device to help keep them on track with their resolutions.

Some great apps for the coming year are:

The Runtastic Six Pack which is great for those looking to lose weight or get in shape.  It allows users to work out at home by creating custom workouts with a virtual personal trainer.  It can then be paired with UP by Jawbone which is a fitness wristband that measures what you eat and the different activities you do throughout the day.

Getting organized is one of my big goals for the year, and a great app to help me in that is Any.DoIt will enhance the typical to-do list by setting reminders, categorizing and setting the importance of different tasks.  Definitely something that will help with some of the more long term to-do lists I have going through my mind.

Another goal that a lot of people (me included) have is to get on track with better money management.  The app Check is great for linking up bills, bank accounts and credit cards.  It will send users a notification when bills are coming due and lets you also set up automatic payments.

With US Cellular’s 4G LTE network, which has speeds up to 10x faster than 3G, I am able to stay on track with my goals wherever I am. 

The New Year is a great time to set new goals, but don’t let it be the only time you visit that list!  Keep checking your goal list and make note of the small steps you are making every day to accomplish them. 

Are there some new apps you are using this year to accomplish your goals?  I would love to hear about them!

This post is sponsored by US Cellular.  I am a member of the US Cellular Blogger Brigade and was compensated for this post.  All opinions, as always, are my own.

knitting and reading

Yesterday was quite the snow storm!  I know I live in New England and should be used to it, but anytime we get over 20 inches in one storm I feel I am entitled to say "wow, that is a lot of snow!"

You would think with a day to be hunkered down inside I would have done more you wouldn't, you know me too well!  

School was going on most of the day yesterday, is it bad that I didn't give the kids a "snow day" even though the rest of the state was shut down?

I was able to finish one of Emma's wristlets.  I don't know if I can call it a wristlet though, maybe I should call it an arm warmer.  You can't really tell in the picture, but I used a button hole for her thumb.  It is what I typically do when I make these wristlet/arm warmer type things.  It seems easier to me, maybe it isn't.  

I used this tutorial  on youtube when I first learned how to knit a button hole.  Depending on the size of the thumb I increase how many stitches the button hole is.

As far as reading goes, I realized I have too many good books on my to-read shelf right now.  I have been looking at the books that came in the mail for over a week, but I have been trying to finish up some other ones first.  Yesterday I said screw it, and started a new one :-)

I just started Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker.  I have read reviews that say this book totally wrecks your life (in a good way!), so I am a little nervous about getting into it, but definitely excited too.

I have also been spending a lot of time working on the Upstream e-course that Tsh from the art of simple recently released.  It is incredibly thought provoking, and takes an enormous amount of introspection.  I wrote a little more about that here if you want to read more about the course and my journey on it.

Jack has asked me to knit him a new cowl, because the one that I knit him a couple years ago is too I will be looking for some new yarn this weekend to start on that - bummer, I will have to go to the yarn store!  :-)

What are you working on this week?  

Linking up with Nicole and Ginny!

Paddling Upstream

It seems like everyone wants to go in a different direction these days.  We are all trying to make changes to our lives.  Everyone wants a fresh start.  But, it seems to go beyond that.

We want to make huge shifts in our culture as a whole.

What that means is different for everyone.  We want to be better stewards of God’s creation, realizing that our resources are finite and we want to live simply so others can simply live.  We want to acquire less stuff so that we can have more space in our minds and our lives to do what is important to us, whether it be spending more time with our families or doing mission work or traveling.  We see the drain that technology can have on us, while it puts the entire world at our fingertips, it can also suck all of the life from that world.

How do we figure out what our version of paddling upstream is? An incredible amount of self-reflection and introspection is how.

I recently signed up for a new e-course by Tsh from The Art of Simple, Upstream, which deals with all of this.  I am four sessions into the course, and it has been incredibly informative so far.  Trying to figure out who you are as a person, knowing yourself, and figuring out your purpose – it is all pretty heavy stuff, but so enlightening as to why I am the way that I am.

My word of the year is intentional and I think this course is setting me on the right track. 

It seems like such a big thing, figuring out your life’s purpose, writing a purpose statement for you and your family, but it also is necessary.  How do you move in the right direction if you aren’t sure of the direction you should go?

Maybe I am the only one who struggles with priorities, making sure I am doing what is important to me and my family, so if that is the case, you can enjoy my personal journey!

One thing that I have been working on in this course is my personality type.  Have you taken a Myers-Briggs test before? 

Last year was the first time I had taken a personality test.  In fact I took a bunch of different versions.  I always thought of a personality test as something that wasn’t entirely accurate for me.  A lot of the questions I felt I could go either way.  Then I realized I wasn’t answering the questions honestly.  Sure, they could go either way, because there were ideals that I was thinking about while answering the questions. 

Once I stopped thinking about how I wanted to act in a situation, and instead answered how I truly do act, it was easier to pinpoint who I am.  

Hi, I’m Heather, and I am an INFJ.

What does that mean, exactly?  Well if you really want to know you can read about my personality type here

As I read through my personality type, I was able to nod my head at so much of the description, realizing why I enter into different situations the way that I do.

Once I was able to wrap my head around this incredibly accurate description of myself, I was able to project it outward towards my goals, what I want to do, the ways that I want to live, and what is important to me.

I want to have less “stuff.”  It takes up mental energy that I do not currently have (especially with three littles to take care of!).  I know that being a good steward of God’s creation, and what He has given to me and my family is important.  I want to give my family healthy food that hasn’t been tainted with GMO’s or large amounts of pesticides.  Realizing how lucky we are to have fresh, clean drinking water by just turning on the faucet has made me think about all of those who do not have that.  I want to conserve the water that we do have, not wanting to be wasteful of something that is so precious to so many.

I am still evaluating what my life’s purpose is, and it is a lot to think about, but it is encouraging to know that I am not alone in this desire.  There is an amazing group already formed on Facebook of others who are taking this e-course.  If you are interested in working through who you are and moving towards your goals this year, I would recommend checking out this e-course.

Have you thought about what your life’s purpose is?  Do you know your personality type?  I would love to hear it in the comments!

I'm not making any sort of commission off of this course, I just think it is that good! 

linking up at One Project at  a Time and Mommy Club

Sunday Quotes

You can't change what's going on around you until you start changing what's going on within you.

knitting and reading

Is it already Wednesday?!  Yes, yes it is.  And because that question was the first thing that I wrote in this post, I am sure you know what is coming next - very little progress has been made on my knitting!

I think that one of these days I am going to have to take a knitting retreat so that I can knit for more than 5 minutes at a time.  

Don't get me wrong, I am savoring every minute with my babes, but I would love to complete a project in the season it is needed!

I am still working on wristlets, but they are coming along nicely.  They need to be a bit longer before I do the button hole for the thumb.

Does anyone else use a button hole for a thumb on wristlets?  I'm not sure where I saw that originally, but it is incredibly easy to work right into any pattern, so I continue to use it.

As far as reading goes, I am still reading the books I was reading last week.  I am slowly making my way through The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness.  I am about 65% of the way through, and it is getting to the end, so it is a lot more fast paced.  I think that I may spend some time today trying to finish it up while nursing.

Last week I also posted my partial book list for 2015.  I would love for you to leave comments on that post for additional book recommendations!  I seem to be stuck with a lot of non-fiction to read.  I love non-fiction, but sometimes I need some light fiction to read quickly as well!

What are you working on this week?  

Is it all really Paper Clutter?

I will be the first to admit that we have a paper problem in our home.  It is everywhere!  Between bills that need to be filed, construction paper from the kids, and all the lists that I make daily, we have a lot of it.

I am always the first to say that I hate paper!  However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I actually love paper.

I looked at my "command central" and realized that it is all paper.  I do often have my computer here as well, but for the most part, paper.

Try as I may, I cannot seem to move to digital for the following pieces of my life: calendars, journals, lists - although I do have a great fondness for Evernote and use it regularly.

I have two calendars, an Erin Condren Life Planner for my personal calendar, and then another calendar for everything blog related.  I have numerous journals, the stack in the front are new ones that I just ordered.  I have my home management binder, and then tons of 5 cent notebooks that I purchase on sale at the beginning of the school year every year.

The paper clutter that I don't like, is the numerous pieces of paper the kids use in their crafts, the bills that come in - do I really need to keep them all?  All of the junk mail that doesn't quite make it to the trash is also included in that list.

I have a tip for keeping the paper clutter under control - use baskets!

I have a basket that the kids put their scrap paper in, since this is the biggest culprits of paper clutter.  My children love to cut out pictures, shapes or whatever from many pieces of construction paper, and then 75% of it is discarded to the craft table, never to be used again.  But, having a basket where they can place this paper allows them to have a source of paper when they need scrap paper, or small pieces for a project.

As far as bill clutter goes, the key to this is online bills.  Almost all of my bills I receive online now.  A few local bills such as water and sewer and oil still have paper bills that I need to deal with, and those go in a file folder in my filing cabinet.

Do you have a problem with paper clutter?  Do you secretly love paper in your home?  Have you moved to a completely digital system for organization?

Sunday Quotes

First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality.  The beginning, as you would observe, is in your imagination.
~Napoleon Hill

2015 Book List

100 books read.  That is what I want to be able to say at the end of 2015.  It is kind of a lofty goal.  I mean, that is two books a week!  I'll let you in on a little secret, I have only read one book so far this year.  And it is already the 16th!  

I have seen a lot of people put up their reading list for the year, and I thought that was an awesome idea!
Of course, compiling a reading list is not an easy feat.  

I thought that I might be able to easily write down 100 books that I wanted to read this year.  Writing down 100 books is easy, but figuring out the ones that I want to read this year, not so easy!

I have come up with a smaller list of books that I want to read though, and have ordered some of them.  I hope to use the library to fill in the gaps!  Some of these books I own and have never read, some I have read before and want to re-read because they are that good.  Here is my *much smaller than 100 books* book list for 2015, in no particular order.

Unglued - Lysa TerKeurst
The Book of Life: A Novel - Deborah Harkness
Dumbing us Down - John Taylor Gatto
Mothering from Scratch - Means & Helgemo
Make it Happen - Lara Casey
The Best Yes  - Lysa TerKeurst
Own Your Life - Sally Clarkson
Interrupted - Jen Hatmaker
Bread & Wine - Shauna Niequist
Back in the Day: 101 Things Everyone Used to Know How to Do - Michael Powell
Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100-mile Diet - Smith & Mackinnon
What to Eat - Marion Nestle
A Woman's Guide to Hearing God's Voice - Leighann McCoy
Simplicity Parenting - Kim John Payne
Mission of Motherhood - Sally Clarkson
No Impact Man - Colin Beavan
Mindset for Moms - Jamie Martin
Steady Days - Jamie Martin
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess - Jen Hatmaker
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are - Ann Voskamp
Harry Potter 1-7
Lord of the Rings

So technically this is only 30 books.  But, I feel like it is a really good start!  It certainly is heavy on the non-fiction, but that is what I am feeling right now.  I am sure I will easily get some fiction reading in.

I also want to reiterate: all books that are over 100 pages that I read with the kiddos will also be included in my 100 books read goal!

What is on your reading list this year?

*None of these books are affiliate links.  Amazon affiliates is not available in my state!

knitting and reading

The title of this post should be not knitting and a whole lot of reading!  My plan was to finish these wristlets that I started last week.  Instead what happened was that I received a bunch of books in the mail, and bought a couple e-books, so reading was taking the number 1 spot in my free time.

Excuses, excuses, I know!

I finished Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions this past weekend.  It was really an amazing book.  I recommend it to everyone.  I think we can all relate to a time in our life where we become unglued.  We either stuff our problems down and they eventually come out full steam, or we are quick with our words when we shouldn't be.  There is a lot of amazing advice in this book on how to curb that, and to figure out why you are coming unglued in the first place - go get it, awesome book!

I finally broke down and purchased The Book of Life realizing that it might be 2017 before my name is called on the library waiting list.  I'm glad that I did!  It is just as gripping as I expected it to be.  If you haven't read any of this trilogy, I seriously suggest picking it up.  The writing is amazing and there is so much history in the books.  I can't wait to find out how it all ends!

Finally, I am reading a new book called Mothering From Scratch: Finding the Best Parenting Style for You and Your Family.  I only just started it, but the title alone makes it sound like a really great book.  This is for review, so I will be posting a review of it shortly!

What are you working on this week?  Do you go through periods where you only knit or only read?  Or do you balance it better than I do?

Living Your Best Life

I have spent a lot of time thinking over the past couple weeks about living my best life.  That is a big part of the reason why I decided on my one word for the yearI’m sure I am not the only one.  We are all striving to be the best version of our self, right?

What does that mean, though, exactly?  Living your best life?  I think that it will take on a unique meaning for every person. 

For me it is defined as living a simple life in a complicated world.  I don’t want to overcomplicate life. 

I don’t want to miss the small things because of the busyness.

How can we go about getting to that best version of ourselves?  I think that setting goals is obviously an important step.  I have been reviewing my goals over the past couple of weeks; deciding to not have everything listed out on January 1st was a good idea for me.  I wanted to savor, and really decide on what was important for me this year.

My top priority right now is to get into a better rhythm. 

We welcomed a new baby home at the end of last year, and she is the most precious little baby!  However, I have two older children as well, who are just as precious to me.  I realized pretty soon after we came home that it would take a bit of time for us all to meld together.  My children adore one another, and for that I am extremely thankful, but I have obviously been spending quite a bit of time with the newest little one, and that has thrown our day to day out of sorts.

I’m sure that it will take some time for us to really get into a good rhythm with homeschooling, and housework, and making sure everyone eats something *somewhat* healthy during the day.

Right now I am trying to re-organize my home management binder.  It is a binder that I created right before my oldest was born.  It is really a go to for everything home.  I hope to go into more detail about this at some point!

One of the most important aspects of living my best life involves creating an environment that my kids thrive in.  Getting into a better rhythm is part of that, creating some more order in my day to day is part of that; and so is my relationship with God. 

I feel like when I am right with God, no matter how busy life gets, I feel centered and ready for anything.

Last week I realized I no longer have enough hours in the day.  I was getting up at my very early wake up time again (I am a morning person – but so are my kids!), but when I would look at the clock it already said 7pm and time to get the kids in bed!  I don’t know how that happens! 

I’m excited to get back into my Hello Mornings group today.  There is something amazing about waking up early in the morning, when the house is still and quiet, and being able to meditate and pray.  I know that my days are always better when I have that quiet time in the morning.  It also keeps me accountable to make sure that I am getting my planning time in, which I need.

When I don’t plan my day before the day gets going, I lose the entire day in the urgent, and miss the important.

I am looking forward to working towards living my best life this year!  I have a lot of plans.  I finally feel like I am at a place where I can make some desired changes that I have been considering for a long time, and strive for what really matters to me.

How are you living your best life?  Are there changes that you are trying to work on this year?  Do you know where I can find some more hours in the day?

Sunday Quotes

Intentional living is the art of making our own choices before others' choices make us.
~Richie Norton

Vegetable Soup Recipe

It is cold.  And when I say cold, I mean below zero cold.  Not just below zero, but "feels like" temperatures of -30.

When it is this cold, I have two main go-to meals.  One is chili, the other is soup.  There is nothing better on a cold winter's day than a big bowl of soup and some delicious homemade bread to go with it!

This vegetable soup is incredibly easy, and also does the job of warming up your body!

Vegetable Soup

1 quart turkey stock (or any other stock you have on hand)
1 onion, chopped
3-4 large carrots, chopped
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
8 oz frozen peas

Saute onion and carrots in a pan with some coconut oil for 3-5 minutes.  Add potatoes and stir for another couple of minutes.  Add turkey stock, a little poultry seasoning and salt and simmer until potatoes are almost done.  Add frozen peas, simmer for another 5 minutes and then serve with a hunk of bread.

Delicious, quick and easy!  Just the kind of meal I like to prepare.  

What are your go-to soup recipes for a cold winter's night?

My Word of the Year

I am certainly taking my time this year in setting goals and general New Year’s activities.  I did the same last year.  Giving me time to savor the end of 2014 and slowly move into the New Year was what I needed this year. 

I wasn’t sure that I would pick a word of the year this year.  I love goals, I love writing lists of goals, and I have been thinking about the steps I need to take in order to accomplish the goals.  One word continued to jump out at me through all of this introspection.

What does intentional mean?  Something that is done on purpose; deliberate.  That is exactly how I want my year to be.  I N T E N T I O N A L

Intentional about the goals that I have set for myself, and the positive changes I want to see in my life; intentional about parenting and intentional about my marriage.  I want to be intentional about the management of my home, and our outside activities. 

I don’t want this year to fly by like the last year, and the year before that.

It seems that as I get older, time moves faster.  I don’t like it!  I am constantly looking at the calendar pages flipping to the next month and then the next. 

I don’t want life to pass me by, I want to be fully engaged and LIVING it.  Intentional.

As I finish writing up my list of goals for the year, and the action steps I need to take, I am going to keep intentional in the forefront of my mind.  It is too easy to let life pass you by, being intentional takes a lot of work.  Work that I am ready to put forth this year.  Work that has been on my mind for quite some time now.

I am excited for this year.  To have the opportunity to explore what intentional living really means to me; and to see the changes and goals progress through the year will be exciting for sure!

Have you decided on your word of the year?  Am I the last one to talk about this?  Am I taking too long to write up my goals?

knitting and reading

It certainly turned cold pretty quickly!  I guess I should be used to that, living in Maine and all.  I think that I was in a bit of denial because it was over 50 on Christmas - that is unheard of.

Now that we are back to the beautiful sub-zero temperatures we are used to in January, I realized that I needed to get my knitting needles in gear in order for the kids to leave the house...ever.

One issue that I always have are mittens.  They don't stay on, or they come undone from the coat sleeves and the kids wrists get cold.  I finally thought to knit some long fingerless mitts to go underneath their mittens.  So I cast on for a pair yesterday.

It is essentially just a tube that will have a thumb hole.  I don't need them to be fancy, I just need them to be long!  I also love this blue yarn, it is so soft and will work for Emma or Jack.

I am still working on my reading list for the year, hopefully I can post that soon.  But, I did find this book - Unglued : Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions.

One of my goals this year is to not lose my temper so often.  I try hard not to, but it happens.  And I am working on making it not happen so often.  I think that I tend to push things down down down, and then when something finally sets me off, everything come backs out.  I am about a third of the way through the book, and a lot of it has resonated with me.  I definitely recommend it!

What are you working on this week?  Have you written out a book list for the year?  I would love to read it!  Leave a link in the comments!

Book Hoarders Unite!

There is just something about books that I love.  Perhaps it is getting lost in an amazing story, or maybe learning something new.  Books open the world to us.

You may have guessed that I have a bit of a passion for reading.  So much so, that we are taking a literature based approach to homeschooling.

With that approach, however, comes a lot of books.

Now, I know some people who are amazing at using their library and not purchasing a large amount of books.  I am not that person.  I mean, I love my library, and we take books out all the time (you know, when our accounts haven't been frozen due to late books or unpaid library fines!), but there is nothing like owning the book.  I love to go back time and time again to read the books that I love.

With all of these books, there comes a time each year that I have to reorganize them.  OK, so there are several times a year that I need to reorganize them.

That time is now.

We started back to homeschooling yesterday, and while it went amazingly well (I was definitely concerned about a certain little baby), I was having trouble finding the books that I wanted quickly.  Add to that the fact that we are expecting another very large box of books in the mail this week, and I need to take some time to take the books off the shelves, and figure out a new way to organize them.

The beautiful built in shelves that we have are not organized well at all.  I will blame that on letting the kids have free reign to take books down and put them back as they please.  

If they want to read a book, I don't want to stop them!

These shelves hold most of the kids' books.  I won't pretend that we don't have a bunch of other books stuffed all about the house.  In fact, all the kitchen cupboards in the second kitchen are stuffed full of books, as well as more book shelves upstairs...and yes even just random stacks of books in the office.  

I need to come up with some way to catalog all of these books and have them organized in some way besides curriculum books, college text books, other books.  Plus, as the kids get older, I want them to learn how to categorize and put books away in an organized manner.  

If you are thinking that I should probably downsize my book collection...well...I have.  It didn't do a whole lot of good.  And now that we have a new little one in the house, I am glad I never got rid of the earlier age books that we will need in the future!

How do you organize your books?  Do you primarily use your library?  Do you frequently purge books you aren't currently using?

Small Steps to Big Goals

Last week when I sat down to think about some of the goals that I have for the New Year, I realized the list was long.  Similar to last year.
Now, I do not think that having a long list of goals is a bad thing.  We should always be trying to improve upon our lives.  If we sit stagnant, what can we really say we have accomplished?  However, trying to meet a long list of goals is a challenge.

I want to make so many changes, but instead feel paralyzed with the amount of change that seems to be on my list.

Does this happen to you?  Do you feel like you can’t quite get to where you want to be because the mountain is too high to climb?

I am a dreamer, and because of that I am always dreaming about the next thing, forgetting about what is right in front of me.  Because of this, I have decided to take a little longer to work on my goals for this year.

When I wrote my New Year’s post, I alluded to a lot of the goals I have for myself, but I need to go deeper.

I want to make sure that I have the action steps listed out so that I can make measurable progress.

Change and I are good friends.  I am probably one of a very few people that thrive on change.  Every couple of months I spend time moving furniture around in my house so that I can feel like I have a fresh start.  I never quite feel settled.

This year, I want to make good on all the change that I keep introducing into my life.  I want it to mean something.  I want to make sure that the goals I set for myself are really what I want to accomplish, and who I want to become.  Taking the time to write out the small steps that will lead to accomplishing those goals is an important step in and of itself.

That is the action I need to take in order to not feel overwhelmed by the list of goals I have for myself and my family.

I also realize that some of my goals are life-long goals.  I want to live a green life.  That is a great goal, but I will never be perfectly there.  I want my family to have a simple life.  I need to figure out the small steps to take in order to make progress towards these life-long goals.

I need to take a little more time to flesh out the steps.

Instead of having everything in a neat little list at the beginning of the New Year, I am going to try and spend a little more time making good on my promise to get organized and really figure out what is most important to me and my family.

Do you have big goals and don’t know where to start?  What small steps can you take to start on that path?

Sunday Quotes

Infuse your life with action.  Don't wait for it to happen.  Make it happen.  Make your own future.  Make your own hope.  Make your own love.  And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen...yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.
~Bradley Whitford

After Holiday Detox and Meal Sized Salads

Is it just me, or do we all kind of go a little crazy with food during the holidays?  This year I tried to be better than in years past.  I think the reason I was able to get away with it was because we didn’t really go anywhere around the holidays, not that that is a bad thing!

I was able to cut back on the amount of sugar I ate between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I think that helped me to stay healthy for the first time in 8 years!

However, Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day we ate poorly…very poorly.  I am ready to start detoxing and getting back to the whole foods diet that is my favorite; lots of vegetables and fruit with delicious beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, and a little bit of meat once in a while.

One of my favorite ways to make my body feel better is to incorporate a lot of salads into my family’s diet.

I know what you are thinking, it is January, how can I be making salads in January?

It is difficult.  I have talked a bit before about my conflicting food philosophies.  I strive to eat as much local food as possible, but there is something about eating a salad every day that makes my body feel better.  I have become a big proponent on eating what your body craves.  For some reason, salads are it.  It helps that my kids will eat salads every day if they are available.

Over the past year I have started making meal sized salads.

These meal size salads are made with a lot of greens, and are most often eaten from a large mixing bowl. 

Even though I am eating a salad, I still try to incorporate local food as well.  And what is local in the middle of the winter in New England?  Root vegetables. A lot of carrots and beets and onions will be included.

What else goes into making a meal size salad?  Some things that we include are beans, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and a nutrient dense dressing – not all at once, but usually a couple of those options with the inclusion of the dressing. 

My favorite dressing in the winter is this recipe.  It is heavy on the parsley, which has many health benefits. 

Parsley can help reduces the risk of cancer, and is a great source of vitamin C and folic acid.  It helps with inflammation and boosts your immune system.  Overall a wonderful herb to include in a nutrient dense dressing – not to mention it tastes delicious!

While most people think of salads as a side to a main dish, we often include the salad as the main dish.

Are you still recovering from all the rich food of the holidays?  Do you try to detox in the New Year to get your health on track?  Have you tried meal size salads?  

Happy New Year!

Here we are again, a brand new year!  Happy 1st day of 2015 everyone!

I always love the first day of the year.  There is so much to be excited about.  I think that it helps me to get over the Christmas blues; to be able to look ahead at all the new and exciting opportunities for the New Year.

It also gives me a chance to start fresh.

The past several months I have been taking it easy.  That happens during your last trimester and the first weeks of a new baby, I have come to realize!  Taking it easy with the blog, taking it easy with homeschooling, taking it easy on food preparation.

Now, with the holidays over, I am ready to give myself permission to start a new rhythm, something I was holding off on due to having a new little one in the house.

I have a lot of goals in mind for the New Year.  I always have a lot of goals.  It is fun to look back and see my goals at the beginning of the year and how I did throughout the year.  I find that I often fall short.  I have long lists of changes I want to make, but actually making the change is sometimes the hardest part.  Not because I don’t desire a change, but because working through the steps to make a new habit is complicated and takes an amazing amount of diligence!

My biggest goal for this year is to get back to the basics.

When I started Townsend House, it was an extension of an old personal blog that I had.  It was about my life, about making changes to our diet, to live a more local lifestyle, to get organized and to really strive for simple living. 

What I found out was that living simply is not an easy task.

Simple living is difficult.  And it is a journey.

There are so many tasks that I do on a daily basis that are included in my idea of living simply, and I want to savor those tasks, but I also want to move forward.

When I think about getting back to the basics, I want to concentrate on what matters most to me. 

I want to concentrate more on homesteading on our little quarter of an acre, instead of thinking about when we may be able to move to a large plot of land.  I want to think about the food that I am making for my kids, and utilizing the local sources that I have found and savored over the past seven years. 

I want to make large strides in homeschooling.  I know how much my kids love to learn, but finding a good rhythm for us all to work in, especially with a new little one in the house, is my biggest priority.  We love to have supplies available for the kids to take off with whatever project they want to work on.  Lately, there have been fewer projects because I am too tired to clean up the very large mess involved with the projects. 

I want to concentrate more on “yes” this year.

My house is a disaster and needs a complete de-cluttering.  The tool that I have most used in the past is my homemaking binder.  I love my homemaking binder, but it needs an overhaul.  I created it when I was pregnant with my first baby, and now with three kids it is high time to give it a makeover.  Having three children is challenging, and I know that having this tool will help me move better through each day.

My oldest daughter is begging me daily to help her learn about cooking, sewing, knitting, and everything homemaking.  These are skills that she needs to learn, and wants to learn, and I need to figure out a way to teach her these skills!  Not only will it help her, it will help me to complete some new crafting goals for the year.

I am also working on a book list for the year.

It seems like I see amazing book lists at the beginning of every year from other bloggers, or by my friends on goodreads.  I have never taken the time to sit down and write out a book list.  What inevitably happens is I go through periods of time when I find a bunch of books I want to read immediately, and then I go through lulls where I have nothing to read, and no ideas for new books to read. 

The first place I will be looking is my own personal library.  I know that I have books on my shelves that I haven’t read, and ones that I want to re-read.  Those should be at the top of my list.  And then I hope to peruse some of my favorite bloggers and their lists.

I fell short of my 100 books read goal of last year, and instead only got to 70.  I am very happy with 70, but still am striving for that 100 books read goal this year.  Compiling a list of “to-read” books should help me with that…hopefully!

Here is to a year of getting back to basics.  I can’t wait to see what the year holds, and hope for many fun days ahead!

Have you written out your New Year’s goals?  Do you prefer resolutions?  Or a word of the year?