Lisa's Homemaking Corner

Lisa's Homemaking Corner

Friday, December 31, 2010

No Resolutions Here, Just Renewed Goals

While I have come to view New Year's Resolutions with slight distain, I can't help but think about changes that need to be made and a renewed sense of purpose as the year comes to a close and a new year approaches.  In my head, resolutions are easily broken, too "set in stone."  It's either do it or don't, with no gray area in between.  However, I do recognize changes that need to be made, especially since the chaos of the holiday season usually throws many good habits to the wayside in our home.

When I set a goal or purpose to do something, I tend to pursue it full hilt, until I crash and burn.  With the list of changes I want to make floating around in my head, it seems as if that may be the case again, so I want to make sure and do this right.  No pressure.  :)

One of my goals for the upcoming year (although certainly not the first priority!) is to blog more regularly.  So with that, I intend to blog each of my goals in detail over the coming weeks.  Not only will that give me writing material, it will also help me really work out these goals in my mind, solidifying a good plan to actually carry them out and see them through to accomplishment.

So, for this, my first post in this "series," I really want to get a general idea of what I (and my family) want to accomplish this year.  Most of my goals have to do with habits.

1.  Godly/Bible habits
2.  Wifely habits
3.  Mommy habits/schooling habits
4.  Eating habits
5.  Exercise habits/health goals
6.  Internet habits
7.  TV habits
8.  Clutter-collecting habits
9.  Cleaning/homekeeping habits
10. Having fun habits :)

So, right there, it looks like I have ten posts coming up.  ;)  But, as someone who really doesn't like most things being absolutely resolute, they will be written as I have time.  And who knows, I may decide to do a few sub-posts on one habit, while skimming over another.  LOL!  But, it will be mine, and it will come from my heart, with guidance from the Lord.

Today, I have my son's birthday party to get ready for tomorrow (which is also my birthday, although his was earlier this week).  So, I will be busy with preparations for that as I hope for the family to be able to relax later.  :)  So, I wish you all a wonderful and blessed New Year's!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Restructuring the family routine, and a few new rules

It all started with sewing patches.  My oldest son is in his first year of the Boy Scouts, so I found myself sewing a lot of patches onto his new shirt a few days ago.  I'm a pretty amateur sewer on the machine, but especially with hand stitching.  I definitely improved my skills and patience, though!  :)  Hubby and I were talking about improving my sewing capabilities, and he said he was thinking of getting me a new sewing machine.  The machine I have now was his grandmother's, who passed away before he and I met.  She got it in the 60's, I believe.  When I first got it, I couldn't get it to sew without breaking thread, so he took it in for a tune-up, after which it worked pretty well.  That was about 3 years ago.  Shortly after we moved into this house, not quite 2 years ago, it started acting up again and I haven't been able to use it.  I've been wanting to get it in for another tune-up, but hubby said with what it costs for a tune-up every year or two, we'd be better off getting a new one.

That long story to say, I knew the first thing I wanted to make once I get my new machine and get a little more proficient at sewing:  a cover for the TV.  We have a LCD mounted on our living room wall, and I'm thinking something with elastic around the edge, kind of like those plastic wrap bowl covers that you just slip over the top.  But bigger and made of fabric.  And for the TV.  :)  We had gotten in the habit of having the TV on A LOT lately...even if we weren't watching, it was background.  The day after my TV cover idea, hubby came to me and said he wants the TV off from now on.  The only time we will have it on is as a treat or for special occasions, like football.  ;)  Hubby and I do have kind of a nightly "date" thing going where we watch an episode or two of CSI: NY on the blue-ray player before we go to bed, but it's always after the kids are all in bed and sleeping.  Yesterday was our first full day with no TV, and it didn't go quite as bad as I thought.  In fact, I swear the kids were in a better mood.  We're doing more fun things now, like playing board games or Go Fish, or reading together.  And doing more not-so-fun things, but things that really need to get done, like getting the house clean and organized, and thinking about getting ready for the upcoming holidays (okay, that last part is fun, at least for me!).

Another bad habit we had gotten ourselves into (and I think this one just naturally goes with having the TV on all the time) is not eating at the dinner table.  So, we re-instituted that rule yesterday as well.  And it has been nothing but wonderful.  :)  I really thought there would be protesting about this one, but the kids were actually excited.  And we're not just doing dinner, or just when Daddy's home.  EVERY meal is eaten together at the table.  I can't even describe to you what a wonderful time of fellowship and bonding this has been for us as a family already.  Not to mention, eating meals at the table forces me to make sure that I have meals planned out.  Yikes, I have let myself slip into these bad habits around the house lately, and meal planning (or lack thereof) has probably been the most disastrous.  It becomes too much of a free-for-all and it's too costly!

It's only been a day, but I am absolutely loving the changes that are already taking place because of these new "rules."  I'm already thinking about other things I can do to minister to my family and make this a more joyful household.  The next thing to work on is definitely my computer time.  I'm not constantly on the computer, but it's always ON (with the internet always up), and so easy to slip on for "just a few minutes."  It doesn't help that the chair at the computer desk has sort of become "my chair," either.  Even if I'm not on the computer, it's where I gravitate to when we're relaxing, or when I'm knitting, or reading, etc.  So, of course, that makes it even easier to slip on and see what's going on around the internet world.  So, I'm trying to change that.  I'm not there yet, but my goal is to have the computer logged off the internet and on sleep mode unless it's nap time or the kids are sleeping for the night.  Or, unless I need a recipe or something else pertinent that I need to look up while we're homeschooling.  The good thing is, is that when I AM on the computer, my time will be more focused and purposeful (such as planned blog posts, as I've been wanting to do!), as opposed to the "mindless wandering" I sometimes do.

I'm really excited about these changes, and, as always, I can't wait to see the plans that the Lord has for my family!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Frugal Friday: Books Revisited

I am a lover of books.  Anyone who knows me well knows this.  In my precious free-time, I can usually be found with my nose in a book...sometimes I can be found with my nose in a book when I technically shouldn't be having free time, but that's another story.  :)  Lately, I've been noticing that I've passed on my love of books to my kids, and I love that!  While I have been making frequent use of our local library--especially now that school is in full swing with my older two sons--I've been working on building our own library here at home, full of living books and classical literature.  And all at practically no cost to me.

How do I do this, you ask?  There are a couple of ways.  First, I registered for free at Paperback Swap (if you sign up, please use living4him2007 as your referrer!).  Upon signing up and posting 10 books, you get 2 free credits.  Each credit is good toward any book, or audio books cost 2 credits.  Then, when someone orders one of your books, you pay postage to send it to them.  When they receive the book, you get a credit.  Obviously when you order a book, the sender will pay the postage and you get it for free.  I have gotten quite a few books this way, and they come in very good condition.  I'm always on the lookout for free books or really cheaply priced books at garage sales, just so I can post them on Paperback Swap and keep my list fresh and keep my credits coming in.

Another way I get free books only costs me in time, and little at that.  I am registered at Swagbucks, and that is also a free registration.  Now, having been a member of quite a few "points" programs online, I have gotten very wary of these types of programs.  But, Swagbucks is completely legit!  All you do is use their search (as opposed to Google or yahoo).  Each search you do has a potential for getting Swagbucks.  That doesn't mean you will get Swagbucks every time you search--you won't!  But, if you like researching things like me, you can earn quite a few Swagbucks in a day.  Each search gives you the potential to earn up to 50 Swagbucks (realistically from my own experience, when you do get Swagbucks, it will be anywhere from 6-10 at a time), and Fridays are mega Swagbuck days, so then, the max you can earn per search goes up to 1000!  I haven't gotten that one yet, but I try!  :)  Plus, when you refer your friends to use Swagbucks, they will match what ever Swagbucks THEY get to YOUR account for their first 48 hours of being registered.  Take a look through the Swag Store and see what kind of things you can buy with your Swagbucks.  I always go for the $5 Amazon gift cards, which cost 450 Swagbucks each.  I have redeemed 6 of those in the past 3 months, and have been chipping away at my extensive Amazon wishlist with them.  I have my Swagbucks almost down to a science now...I just got a book in the mail that I ordered with a $5 gift card I earned, while I'm waiting for the last gift card I snagged to be credited to my account (it usually takes 5-7 days), AND I'm almost ready to snag another.

With just these two programs alone, I have a pretty steady stream of free books coming in the mail.  And, the kids love it, because most of the books are for them.  :)

One more way that I could earn more Amazon gift cards is through my Amazon Associates program.  There are 3 ways to get your commission: by check in the mail, by direct deposit, or by Amazon gift cards.  Right now, I have it set to gift cards, just because I don't want to wait to get $100 and pay the processing fee required for a check, and I haven't set up direct deposit yet, but I will eventually.

So there you have it.  If you love books and would love to build up a collection, but don't have the money, there are ways to do it very cheaply or even free.  It takes a little more time and patience, but--at least to me, anyway--it's worth it!

Monday, August 30, 2010

A new school year begins

Today was the first day of kindergarten for my middle son.  He is so excited to finally be doing his own school!  The curriculum we use for all the boys is from My Father's World, and if you click here, you can see their K curriculum.  It is wonderful!

Today, we are starting off a two-week introduction by focusing on the seven days of creation.  We started a creation poster and a creation book, after reading about the first day of creation.  I will post pictures when they're complete.  We also sang the alphabet song and I reviewed letter recognition with him...he already knows a lot of them!  We finished our day by learning the hymn, "My Father's World."  It was a pretty short school day...I think it only took us 20 minutes!  But, it's a good introduction to school for him, and once the first two weeks are done, we will take about an hour to an hour-and-a-half, and it will be a little more intense.

My oldest is still plugging away at fourth grade, which is great!  At his age, he's almost a year ahead, and we have taken our time with this year, as it is our first big year of history.  I'm hoping he'll be done before Christmas, then we can move on to fifth grade after a short break after the New Year.

That's all on the homeschool front for now.  We are down to one car, which I have for the day since we dropped hubby off at work this morning...therefore, it's errand day.  ;)  All that to say, I better sign off for now and get some things done!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Productive Day

Today turned out to be wonderful!  I pray the momentum keeps going.  I started today by getting my workout in before I even ate breakfast.  Now, I have to put in a bit of a plug here, because I absolutely LOVE Leslie Sansone's walking videos!  I remember getting her "Walk Away the Pounds" videos years ago.  The workouts are simple, yet they really are effective.  And she always includes levels of intensity from the novice to the veteran walker.  Here is the dvd I popped in today:

Don't be intimidated by the 5 miles!  She always includes "mile markers" so that you can do however many miles you want.  If you're a first-time walker, she even encourages you to try just 5 minutes.  Work your way up to that first mile if you have to.  If you keep it up, you'll find yourself motivated to keep doing a little more, and before you know it, you've got a five-mile walk under your belt (and most likely a little less cush!).  I was able to do the whole 5 miles today, and I'll tell you what, it felt pretty good to not only have accomplished that, but also to have it out of the way right away in the morning!

Another major accomplishment today is that I kept my eating under control.  I have not eaten any dairy (which is a given, I won't touch it anymore after I got sick last time!), gluten, or legume products.  Some days, it's a struggle to stay away from all three...I'm not sure why, since it's a lot simpler to cook without them!  Meat/protein, veggies, and fruit for meals is all I really need to have.  I didn't get advanced menus planned, but I started out today knowing what we would be having for all three meals, so I consider that a start!  Here's what we had today:

Breakfast: Fried eggs (cooked with olive oil) on gluten-free English muffins and topped with organic gluten-free ketchup
Lunch:  Cashew butter sandwiches on gluten-free bread and grapes
Dinner:  Mesquite chicken breasts and corn, and coconut milk ice cream for dessert

I also got some errands run and did some homeschool with my oldest son.  I'm starting Kindergarten with my middle son on Monday, and we are both very excited!  This weekend, I will be going through our curriculum and making sure we have everything we need.  :)

We finished our day with a walk around our neighborhood.  I am very proud of my boys as they were very good all day today!  The Lord has truly blessed us immensely, and I am so thankful to Him for this life He has given me!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Getting back in shape!

Even with year-round homeschooling, a lot of the structure I had previously established has fallen to the wayside in these late summer months.  And I am definitely beginning to feel the effects.  So, in the next few days, I will be working on getting back into shape, and I'm not just talking physically.  Three main things I want to focus on getting into shape are myself (both spiritually and physically), my family, and my home.

I had a good thing going with weight-loss, but that has come to a standstill as of late, and I fear that if I don't get active regularly again very soon, things may take a turn in a direction I'm not willing to go again.  I am really feeling the effects of my lack of activity lately, and I know I need to make being active a top priority right now.  Because if I'm not feeling good physically, it will do me no good to attempt the other things I want to do.  So first and foremost, I will be working on stricter menu plans that are healthy for myself and my family.  Coming in an extremely close second, will be making sure I have time carved out every day for getting a workout in, as well as making sure I get the kids out for a daily walk as long as it's nice outside.

The other aspect of getting myself into shape (and the most important one!) is making sure I am in the Word every day.  I finished reading through the bible a couple of weeks ago, and have decided to start a chronological bible reading plan this go around that I found here.  I've been reading every night before I turn in, so that aspect has been going well.  Now, I just want to make sure that I'm reading daily, and then I will hopefully be able to increase the time I spend doing that.  The one thing that I'm really working on is LISTENING, and not just reading.  I hate to admit it, but sometimes I get so caught up in reading a certain amount every day, that I forget to really absorb what God is trying to say to me.  So I am really praying that the Lord will give me a calm and peaceful heart, and a quiet mind, so that I can hear Him.  :)

As for getting the family into shape, I have a wonderful relationship with my husband...but I really want to make sure I'm reinforcing that, and I plan to pick up the Proverbs 31 study again very soon.  I have a pretty good relationship with my kids, too, but I am really working on my patience (or more like, God is working on it!) and having a meek and quiet spirit.  I really need to learn to "stop and smell the roses," so to just slow down and enjoy the time God has given me with these precious blessings, and teach them to enjoy and serve each other, as well!

As far as the house goes, I'm really split on how high up on the priority list I want to put it.  Right now, because of the de-cluttering and the fact that our yard sale has gotten postponed until a couple of weeks from now, certain areas of the house are a disaster.  The laundry room has become our "holding area" for yard sale things, and it's really decreased the functionality of that room.  This is one of those areas that comes around full circle back to working on me, because I really have a hard time functioning with a lot of clutter around.  So, I think I will pray that God will either help me to let go of that mental block or give me the energy to get it done without taking time away from the other priorities.  ;)

This post was basically me thinking and planning "out loud."  I also am hoping to put together a list of blog topics and blogging schedule soon, so that I have a more regular stream of posts here.  So, stay tuned and join me on my journey to get back into shape!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Get Excited!

Major progress has been made recently in my de-cluttering quest.  The gradual process spoken of in my last post was not needed.    My hubby got a hankering to de-clutter, and that's when you know it's going to be a DEEP clean.  :)  Now, it's all fine and good when I de-clutter by myself, but there's only so much I can do, not only physically, but also in the way of WHAT I can get rid of.  I know my hubby doesn't appreciate the "Honey, do you want to keep this, or get rid of it?" every 5 minutes, so I don't do it.  :) Not to mention, my husband can get done in a day, what usually takes me a week.  LOL!

So, yes, I was VERY excited when my hubby told me he wanted to get rid of clutter.  And then what happened?  The KIDS got excited and wanted to get rid of some of their stuff, too!  Yay!  :)  They did a very good job of going through their toys, and actually got rid of quite a bit, and were very willing to part with what Mom and Dad suggested, too.  They were also so nice about passing some things down to their little brother.

We now have some things to list on ebay and craig's list, as well as enough for a yard sale!  We love having yard sales, and so do the kids!  They get to help out and be outside all day, plus, we let them keep the money on anything of theirs that they sell.

I'm not totally done going through the house yet, but we are planning on having our sale this coming weekend, so I have the rest of the week to finish up.  My point is, if you want your kids to get excited about something, YOU need to get excited!  It's catchy.  :)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Toddler toys: minimize the clutter to maximize the fun!

I have to sigh as I go through the kids' toys...again.  Yikes, there's just too many!  Instead of asking, "Okay, what don't they like to play with?" I find myself having to ask instead, "What can I get rid of that they won't care about being gone?"  Because inevitably, they "like" to play with practically everything!  Each of my kids have their favorites, but are the plethora of toys that get played with once in a blue moon worth keeping?  Unless they're special to you or your child (and that's why they don't get played with), I say NO!  As a mother to three boys, I think I can say, it's just not worth the stress.

Here are my plans over the next week.  Take special note of which toys are out and being played with the most often.  I'm going to try and do this in my head ;) although I should probably write this can make the choice for yourself.  Gradually, take those toys getting left in the dust and stick them in a 5 gallon bin, somewhere where the kids won't be able to get to them.  Just one or two toys (or a handful) here and there.  Once it's full, keep it for a couple of weeks.

Now, the kids may notice toys are missing, but it they can't even really remember what's gone, obviously it needs to go.  Don't ask them if they want xyz back, because of course you will remind them of what's missing!  Just tell them you are going through the toys because they have too many, or something like that.  :)  If they whine, explain to them that if they can't even remember what's missing, it must not have been very special, and now they can have more fun with their favorite toys.  If a child requests a specific thing, tell them you will set it aside, but that you're not welcoming it back quite yet.  If they're anything like my oldest, he remembers everything that was there, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's special to him, he's just resisting the change.  LOL!  If the same child repeats the request a few times, then bring the toy back, but make sure to watch how often they play with it.  If after a week, you've seen him barely touch it, point that out to him and ask him if he REALLY enjoys the toy.  I may even go so far as to ask if it's fair to the toy to be in our home not being played with, when it can live in another home, where it's enjoyed and played with often.  But, really, that's up to you.  ;)

Once two weeks have gone by and the bin is still full, get it out of the house.  Donate or sell, just don't bring it back to the "keep" collection!  Every time a new toy comes in, find one that can leave in it's place.  Either that, or plan to do the above session once or twice a year.

Now, I was thinking about what kind of toys to keep, and I am actually kind of picky in this regards.  If I can help it, I like to have AS LITTLE TOYS AS POSSIBLE THAT REQUIRE BATTERIES.  I mean that with all my heart.  All you who are parents, I do not need to explain this one, it's pretty self explanatory.  :)  I also LOVE good quality wooden toys and puzzles, such as Melissa & Doug products.

Thinking about the toys I like to have around made me want to browse toddler toys, and here, I'll feature a few I think are cool.

My middle son totally wants one of these.  I LOVE pillow pets (instant lovey!), and thought it was so cool they had a moose, since my middle son's nickname is Moose.  :)

No puzzle pieces to get lost!  They're all attached.  :)

Especially fun for preschoolers.  :)  Introduces colors, shapes, and sorting.  Okay, seriously, anything Melissa & Doug, I think, would be cool.  :D  They make really good quality products!  Just do a search on Amazon for Melissa & Doug and you will find all kinds of amazing things.

Okay, and this one is TOTALLY ridiculous, but all in fun, you've gotta admit it would be SO fun to be the kid who got to ride in this!  LOL!  And, it has cup holders, which, as my hubby will tell you, is always a plus for me.  ;)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A new endeavor

Since I love to blog anyway and share my opinions (and really, who couldn't use a few extra dollars here and there?), I have decided to become an Amazon Associate.  Which means occasionally here on my blog, I will be sharing product and book reviews.  Those reviews will include a link to the product on, where if the link is clicked through and a purchase is made (on anything, not just the original product), I will get a little commission for the sale.

It's really not much (although there's good potential there!), but my dear hubby has been working so hard lately so we can get ALL of our debt paid off, and I figure it's a good thing if I can do what I'm already doing and contribute just a little to the effort.  :)

Now, back to regularly scheduled programming...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Busy season and life lessons

This is probably our busiest time of the year.  Unlike many families, we are plugging away at school...we school year-round so that we can take breaks as needed in addition to our planned breaks.  But, we are also squeezing in as much "summer vacation" as we can as well.  We are big-time campers, and have been taking advantage of my husband's time off as well as the beautiful weather we've been blessed with lately.  We just recently got back from a week-long camping trip up north, and had an absolutely wonderful time.

The chaos that ensued when we got home, however, really showed me how NOT consistent I've gotten lately with the boys.  Our first full day back when we got home was pretty rough.  So, hubby and I did an evaluation and made sure we got our own hearts back in the right place.  This is so very important with kids!  If you're having problems with obedience or attitudes, the first thing you should ALWAYS look at is yourself.  I will admit from first-hand experience, this is an extremely hard thing to do, but it's an important first step (and believe me when I say, this isn't the first time I've had to do this!).  If you really want a piece of humble pie, sincerely pray and ask God to show you where you're going wrong.  Okay, even if you don't want that piece of pie, if you want to effectively lead your children, you really need to do a self-evaluation and ask God to show you where you need to change.  The humble pie is a side-effect, but I think it's an important one, too.  Ask God for forgiveness, and ask Him to line your heart up with His will.  This alone will work wonders.  Today was a wonderful day, and I feel like not only do I have my boys back, but that I have myself back as well.  :)  Seriously, today was just amazing, and I just need to say thank you to my Father.  He is truly amazing and He is GOOD, all the time!

Another thing that I'm excited about is school.  Vincent has been showing so much more excitement about learning lately compared to the past, that it's catchy.  :)  So, I have decided that whatever books I assign him to read, I am going to read, too.  Even though I read a LOT when I was younger, I didn't really read a lot of the classics, and I didn't really read any informational books unless I "had" to for school.  So, I'm reading the informational books I assign him for the subjects we are studying, and I will even get "adult" books on those subjects if they really interest me.  He is also going through a list of age-appropriate classics as part of his free-time reading, and I am joining him in those, as well.  So, don't be surprised if you see a lot of kid books in the sidebar.  ;)  It's never too late to get in some good reading if you missed out when you were younger!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A few changes

Okay, I'm back in action!  It's been awhile since I've posted here because I've been busy starting a new recipe blog for people following the MS Diet.  You can check that out here.

I've also been struggling to find a cleaning routine at home, but I think I've found a good one.  I just couldn't keep consistent with flylady for some reason, and I was talking to a friend of mine from church, and she recommended this site to me.  I figured I'd better try it out for awhile to see how it works, and I gotta tell you, it works awesome for me!  I printed out the June calendar and follow all the tasks each day.  It's simple enough to not get overwhelming, but gets enough done to be noticeable each day.  Plus, I still have time to do school and anything else that needs to be done for the day.  I love it!  Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Struggling with balance and finding simplicity

As in my last post, I had made the decision to not obsess about housework so much.  In my efforts to do that, I found things seriously out of balance this week as the house is now driving me nuts!  I've been thinking and praying about what I should do to find balance in this area, and I have gotten my answer.  I am going back to flylady's way of doing things and using her baby steps.  :)

This will be a very good lesson for me, as I typically want to jump in to these things full force, and instead, I will be following the beginner's baby steps.  In the past, it has driven me crazy doing things so simple, and doing things so S-L-O-W-L-Y, but it is what I need to do.

So, today, I am shining my sink and getting VERY basic, minimal stuff done.  Then tomorrow, I will move on to baby step #2, and so on.

I hope to be updating my baby step progress with pictures as I go, so check back again!  :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Kicking out the robber

Yesterday, I finished reading Homeschooling With a Meek and Quiet Spirit, by Teri Maxwell.  I thank the Lord for what He showed me while reading that book.  Having a meek and quiet spirit is something I have struggled with for awhile now, and I've finally made the connection to a major robber of a meek and quiet spirit, thanks to this book.

My own mom was a stay-at-home mom until I was in high school.  Being a stay-at-home-mom myself, I have been holding myself to the same housekeeping standard that she kept.  I mean, I'm at home, with no other outside job, so my house should look nice.  Right?  And everything should be done by dinner time, so that when dishes are done, it's time for myself and the family to relax.  Shouldn't it?  I can attest to the fact that being at home is MUCH harder than anything I've done for outside work...although I will say, it's definitely not as stressful.  The only person's schedule you really have to follow is your husband's (or your own, if your husband is not big on sticking to schedules around the home-front), and he's usually a LOT nicer than a boss.  :)  Yes, staying at home IS harder, but I knew that and was prepared for that when I signed up for the job.  What I wasn't prepared for, however, was the whirlwind and utter exhaustion each day brought by it's end.  My husband kept telling me I was doing too much, while not getting the big things done...I'm a very detailed person, so when I take on a project, it can take me forever making sure I have it done just so, much to the detriment of things like meals and school.

Last night's reading brought on a light bulb moment for me.  Teri explained in her book that many stay-at-home, homeschooling moms today had stay-at-home-moms themselves.  These mothers have set these high standards for the homes that many of us try to hold to ourselves.  But here's the kicker:  Most of these moms (including my own) SENT THEIR KIDS OFF TO SCHOOL FOR 6-7 HOURS A DAY.  Did you get that?  I'm not knocking my mom, or any other mom, who sends their kids to school.  What I'm saying is, those moms had 6-7 hours each day kid-free!  That's when most of them did their housework, virtually free of distraction...kid distraction, anyway.  Plus, they didn't have messes being made during that time, and (most of the time) no one was home for lunch, so she just had to worry about herself for that meal.

So, here I am, not only with my kids home all day, but dedicating several hours to homeschooling.  On top of that, I've everyone but hubby here for all three meals (plus snacks, don't forget the snacks!), so more time gets spent on that, as well.  THEN, I am trying to get the same amount of housework done that my mom did, in the same time frame!  As you can guess, many days it hasn't all gotten done, and I drive myself insane with unnecessary pressure, all the while thinking that was just how it was supposed to be.  Duh!

After I read that chapter, I just sat staring at the ceiling for a good five minutes, thinking in amazement and asking God why I never made this connection before.  Seriously, you know it's really bad when *I* actually admit I was doing too much.  But it's true.  The most important things, like school and well-planned meals, had been suffering to let little, less important details take the front seat.  No more.

My way of thinking has done a complete turn-around.  I'm going back to the bare-bones basics around the house and bringing those important things back to where they belong, front and center.  I am working on readjusting my priorities as they should be...God, husband, children, everything else if there's time and I feel like it.  Do I want a super clean house?  Of course, but not more than I want my kids to be well trained and educated, and certainly not more than I want my husband to be happy.  I will keep the basics as far as housework goes...meals, laundry, dishes...and if I want to do anything else, I now realize that instead of cutting into the time it takes to make good meals or homeschool, I will have to find time somewhere else, AFTER those things are taken care of.  And if those extra things don't get done, I'm not going to kick myself about it.  And if I choose to do that work in the evening instead of relaxing, that's my choice, and that's perfectly okay.  As a homeschooling mom, my schedule is going to look very different from a non-homeschooling mom's, and, as I now realize, that's okay, too.  So if you happen to stop by my house and it's NOT clean (gasp!), just know that I had bigger priorities on my plate that day.  :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

MS Diet: Watch out for dairy detox!

I managed to go dairy-free for almost a week before Easter.  That day I decided to indulge in some foods that had cheese, were probably made with milk, and yes, some Easter candy.  Oy, never again.

Up until that point, I had made a pretty gradual cut of dairy, going from cutting out milk, which I didn't drink a whole lot of, to cutting out cheese, which was in/on A LOT of things I ate.  Well, on Sunday, I ate dairy, and Monday I didn't eat any.  I woke up Tuesday morning with what felt like some morning allergies.  Except, they didn't go away.  In fact, they got worse as the day progressed (still eating no dairy), to where I had the chills by Tuesday fever though!  I had a feeling, and did some research...sure enough, I was going through dairy detox.  Here's an interesting article.

The fact that I did my first major strength training session yesterday (before I felt too bad) didn't help either.  With the achy muscles, it felt like I was in the middle of a bad cold.  I definitely feel better today, although I'm still achy from the exercise yesterday, and I'm still stuffed's very obvious my body is trying to get rid of all the extra mucous brought on by my completely unnecessary indulgence on Sunday.

So, lesson learned!  No more dairy indulgences for's just not worth it!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Frugal Friday: Books

I know, I know, I'm a day late.  LOL!  Better late than never, especially if you love books and are looking for ways to indulge your passion and keep the pocketbook under control!

Do you love to read?  Can't get enough books?  I love to read, and use the library often, but I often find books that I want in my personal collection at home.  If you have books lying around that you just don't want to read for one reason or another, I recommend joining paperbackswap.  When you first join, see if you can find ten books around your house that you are willing to part with, and are in fairly good condition, and list them on paperbackswap.  You will then get two credits toward books.  Books are generally one credit each, two credits for audio books.  Here's how it works:  When people "order" the books you put up, you pay postage to send them out.  As each book is received by the person who requested it, you get another credit!  With your credits, you can order books, and the person sending the book to you covers the postage costs, just as you cover those costs sending out books.  You can use the two credits you get for listing your first ten books, right away.

I listed eleven books last week and already got my two books yesterday from that.  I also sent out three books, so should be getting three more credits any day.  My wish list is pretty long.  ;)

Another resource I found and love, is for those of you who own a ton of books and are trying to find a way to keep track of them.  Librarything is for you.  This is a free site to catalog your home library.  Enter in every book you own, and it will generate recommendations for other books you might enjoy.  You can also become friends with others on the site, and it will tell you which people have libraries similar to yours.  There's many other features, and the best part is, it's free!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Basic Pancakes: Dairy and Sugar Free

I wanted pancakes this morning and almost made the mistake of using a mix, with the intentions of just replacing the milk with coconut milk beverage.  Then I smacked my forehead as I looked at the ingredient list...Duh!  It was a BUTTERMILK pancake mix.  That was not going to work, so I got out my cookbook and looked up a pancake recipe.  I adapted it to make it dairy and sugar free.  Granted, it's not gluten free, but that can easily be fixed by replacing the flour with a gluten-free flour, such as white rice flour or almond flour.

Here's my version.  They turned out great!

1 cup all -purpose flour
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 beaten egg
1 cup coconut milk beverage (NOT canned coconut milk, but such as is found here)
2 tablespoons olive oil

1.  In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Make a well in the center of dry mixture and set aside.
2.  In another medium mixing bowl combine the egg, coconut milk, agave nectar, and olive oil.  Add mixture all at once to the dry mixture.  Stir just until moistened (batter will be lumpy).
3.  For standard-size pancakes, pour about 1/4 cup batter onto a hot, lightly greased griddle or heavy skillet.  Cook over medium heat about 2 minutes on each side or until pancakes are golden brown, turning to second sides when pancakes have bubbly surfaces and edges are slightly dry.  Serve warm

Now, instead of butter, I spread a little coconut oil on mine.  Also, make sure you watch any other toppings you want to use, to make sure they are dairy-free.


MS Diet: Hidden dairy ingredients

I'm happy to say that yesterday, I went completely dairy-free!  I feel great about the changes I'm making for my health.  It's important that if you're going this route, make sure and add things like more fruits and veggies, and supplements that will replace what you're missing in dairy, such as calcium and vitamin D.  I have also found that magnesium really helps with feelings of irritability and stress.

Today, I will get the rest of the ingredients I need to make dairy-, soy-, and gluten-free cheese.  I will post that after I make it and try it.  ;)  I have also replaced any butter I use with either coconut oil or olive oil, whichever is more appropriate to the situation.  I am still looking for something to replace cream cheese, so if anyone knows any good resources for that, let me know!

For now, I have found a very thorough list of hidden dairy in ingredient lists.  This list also includes ingredients that may contain some proponent of dairy, but is not usually a concern for those with a dairy sensitivity or allergy.  It also includes ingredients that may *look* like they contain dairy, but really do not.  Click here for the link.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Frugal Friday: Homemade Laundry Soap

Today I am sharing a recipe that, yes, I have tried, for powdered laundry soap.  I have tried the homemade liquid soaps before and neither myself nor my husband has liked them.  Someone shared this a long time ago on a yahoo group that I'm a part of, and I've been wanting to try it since.  I've been using it this week, and didn't say anything to my hubby to see if he'd notice...he didn't and that's a good thing!  LOL!

1 cup grated Fels Naptha soap (this is a bar you can find in the laundry soap aisle for just a little over a dollar...I used about 3/4 of it for 1 cup, so that's roughly $0.77.)
1/2 cup borax (I got a 4 lb. 12 oz. box for $4.26...I'm guessing there's about 8 cups in there so for this recipe, you're spending about $0.27.)
1/2 cup washing soda, NOT baking soda...I got Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (bought a 3.5 lb. box for $2.57, so guesstimating for this recipe, about $0.23)

This is enough for 16 loads at $1.27.  Not a bad deal!

Now, if you have a grater you can use for the soap that grates it into a nice powder, you can just mix all the ingredients together and use 2 tablespoons per load...Run the water, add a couple of drops of essential oil if you have it (I use tea tree oil), and add the 2 tablespoons of powder.  Give it a little stir before you add your clothes.  Be aware that you may not see suds as you do with store-bought soap (especially if you have hard water).  This is okay!  The ingredients will do their work.

If you only have something that will *shred* the soap, instead of grating it, here's what I like to do:  I first use my fingers after I shredded the soap to break it down a little more, then I store it in its own container.  I mix the borax and washing soda together in a different container (otherwise you won't have a very even mix because the powders will keep sinking to the bottom, with the soap shreds on top).  I start the water in the washer and add a few drops of tea tree oil.  Then I add 1 tablespoon of soap shreds and then 1 tablespoon of the powder mixture (after giving it a little shake).  I give the water in the machine a little stir as it's running, and then add the clothes.  That's it!

Another thing to be aware of, if you're used to using store-bought laundry soap...there is A LOT of scent in those soaps.  So when you use the homemade soap, you won't really have any scent when you pull them out of the dryer (unless you hang your clothes out to dry, then they will smell wonderful!).  But, you will notice they DO smell clean.  That kind of spooked me the first time I used this...I thought they weren't getting clean because of the lack of smell, but that's exactly how they're *supposed* to smell (NO smell)!  I was just too used to the heavy-scented store bought soap and figured that's how clean clothes were supposed to smell.  Go figure!

So, as I said earlier, I've been using this for most of the week and haven't said anything to Nick yet.  I'm really surprised he hasn't asked me if I'm doing anything different with the laundry lately, but, as I said earlier, this is a good sign!  :)  Wait until he finds out that I've been making our soap for less than half the cost of even the super good deals I've been getting combining sales and coupons!  ;)

I DO have a couple of bottles of Tide with Downy in my laundry room that I got a really good deal on awhile back.  I will save those for washing the bedding, as hubby really likes it when the sheets have that Downy smell (okay, so do I!).  :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

MS Diet: Yogurt

Since rice milk was a pretty easy transition, I've decided to move onto yogurt.  This one was bit more tough, since I LOVE yogurt (don't want to give it up completely!), and I needed to find something with neither dairy NOR soy.  Yikes.

After searching (LOTS of searching), I finally landed at a local co-op, where they have...get this...coconut milk yogurt!  Well, that certainly sounded good.  So, of course, you know I had to go right down and buy some.  ;)  Wow, it's definitely more expensive than regular yogurt, at $2.45 per 6-ounce container.  But, I did have a $1.00 off coupon, and I figured if I kept it down to a few a week, that would fend off my yogurt cravings.  Here's the yogurt I bought:  So Delicious

The texture was a little different than dairy yogurt...more like the full fat version with a VERY slightly grainy texture.  The taste was just awesome!  So far, I've tried vanilla, in which you can definitely taste the yummy coconutiness (is that a word?  I love making up words!) of it all.  The only other flavors this store has is mango (which I also bought) and plain.  Perhaps later on, I'll try and get them to stock a few more flavors. ;)

So, there's two of my major dairy items replaced.  :)  Next I'll be on a cheese quest, which, besides ice cream, will complete the most obvious forms of dairy.  After that, I'm going to have to dig a little deeper and start learning what mystery words mean on food lablels.  Fun stuff to look forward to!

Monday, March 22, 2010

An Infamous Day in History

Politicians and the media have called yesterday "A day where history was made."  History was made, alright, but it's not something to be proud of.

I went back and forth in my head about whether or not I even wanted to post this, as I really don't like getting into politics here.  But this was just too much in my face to ignore.  I did have a whole tirade thought out, but I'm not going to do it.  ;)  Let's just say that yesterday, the federal government threw the Constitution out the window and spit into the face of every single American.

Whether you wanted the health care bill to pass or not, when you look at it, the way it happened was just plain wrong.  Regardless of the fact that this country is *supposed* to be a Republic, even democracy was thrown out the window.  They are both done with, this was an act of DICTATORSHIP.  In regards to a Republic, Constitutional law was broken, and in regards to a democracy, the majority did NOT rule in this.  This was a group of government officials (who are supposed to work for US, by the way, you know, of the PEOPLE, for the PEOPLE, and by the PEOPLE) saying "No, no, I know you don't want it, but that's just plain crazy.  You people don't know what's best for you, so we're going to force you to take this anyway."  No, sir, that ain't my America.

And now, regardless of all the politicians that will get FIRED in this year's elections, we're stuck with this.  It doesn't matter if every single American that was originally for this bill stands up and says, "You know what, this isn't working out so well, let's take it back."  (And mark my words, there will be many that will, the first time they or someone they love gets struck with a serious ailment and will have to wait for months or even years for proper treatment...or when a society that has gotten so used to demanding what they want NOW suddenly finds themselves not getting it.)  Nope, history has shown in other countries that have adopted socialized health care, once you've created the beast, there's no way to get rid of it.  It's a done deal.  And THAT is a very sad day, indeed, in U.S. history.

All we can do now is lean on God, who is so good, and who has already won the most important battle for us.  I will leave you with some comforting words from God Himself.  HE is our refuge and strength.  We can trust in Him and His ultimate plan.

Psalm 46
 1God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
 2Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
 3Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
 4There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
 5God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
 6The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
 7The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
 8Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
 9He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
 10Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
 11The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

MS Diet: Milk

After much research on autoimmune disorders and diet, I have decided that I'm going to be giving the MS Diet a try.  This is something that I'm going to be integrating very slowly, as we cannot afford to do otherwise.  Also, hubby and the kids will be able to continue eating foods that I cut out for myself for the time being, although, they WILL be eating the meals I make.  ;)

The very first thing on the list of foods to eliminate is dairy products.  The protein that is found in milk (both cow milk and goat milk) is not good for the immune system of someone with an autoimmune can contribute to a "leaky gut."  So, the first thing I am doing is switching myself to rice milk, and at least cutting down on all other dairy products, eventually replacing them with dairy-free things.  I don't drink a lot of plain milk anyway, so this is a nice, small baby step.  :)

I tried to make my own rice milk, but it seems really watered down.  I like the stuff from the store better.  If anyone knows any good recipes, please let me know!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Frugal Friday: Introduction

Lately, I've been thinking of different ways to really stretch my husband's hard-earned money.  While I'm better than I have been in the past, there are still so many ways I could cut costs.  Each Friday, I am going to try and make a point of learning something new that will save us money.  I have a whole list of things that I want to try.  :)  I'm thinking of things here that we would normally buy, that I can make, or learn to make, for cheaper.  I'm also thinking of services for minor repairs that I could teach myself to handle.

So, while I'm getting my list together, I will leave you with a wonderful website I've found.  Money Saving Mom  This is a wonderful site for saving money on many things...she has links to free samples, store and coupon deals, and so much more.  Go check it out!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ah, Spring!

It may not be the official date yet, but Spring is definitely in the air! It actually got too hot to wear a sweatshirt outside today. We were able to throw open the windows, air out the house, and spend quite a bit of the day outside. My two older sons spent much of the morning outside. Then, after nap time, we all took a walk to the park that's about a block from our house.

What a joy it was to watch my youngest (20 months) discover fun new things! He LOVES to slide, and this Mama got a lot of exercise helping him get to the top! It was so cute the first time he fell in the sand as he walked across it...he put his hands up like he was saying, "Ew, I don't want to touch this!" LOL! But then I stuck my own hands in the sand and let him watch it sift through my fingers. After that, he was trying to pick some up every chance he got. :)

My oldest was a big help, standing at the bottom of the slide to wait for his youngest brother, and pushing his middle brother in the swing when I had to be with the youngest. We decided to take a round-about way home, and got in a little walk before dinner. :) We came home, had some simple sandwiches, and watched a movie together. What a great day!

A bit later, it did get a little rough as some attitudes flared up, so I'm definitely going to have to keep them closer to me tomorrow, and make sure we get back on track. Because I definitely want to have many more days like this one! :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Weight Loss-How I'm Doing It

One of the exciting things that has been happening in our family lately is that hubby and I are losing weight. We have been at it since mid-January, and to be honest, this is the longest in a long time that I have stuck with something that works. I don't want to say "diet," because that's NOT what it is at all. Hubby has lost a little over 20 pounds, and I have lost 13.5 pounds so far. We still have quite a ways to go (me more so than my hubby), and we've both been down this road before, so the stage we are in right now is nothing really new. But, the progress in encouraging nonetheless. :)

As I said, we are not following any diet...we have both had it with those! I am thoroughly convinced that if you combined all the diets out there, you would only be able to drink water all day (in some cases, maybe not even that!). Since I was about 12 years old, I have had my experience with the variety of dieting methods. Many of them worked for awhile, none were permanent.

The first thing we did, was start using our Wii Fit Plus again. :) It's a fun way to get exercise in, especially in the middle of winter. Hubby began tracking his calories, then a friend of mine referred me to a free website where you can set calorie goals and track calories. This was wonderful, since I'm not the speediest person when it comes to doing math in my head, and I have a hard time remembering things that aren't right in front of me. :) Hubby set his calorie goal, and I entered my weight, height, and activity level into the website and it gave me my calorie goal. THAT'S IT. All we do is make sure and stay under our calorie goal every day, and do some form of exercise every day. Sunday is our free day...we don't track calories, but we don't go obnoxious, either. We just take a day where we're not worrying about how many calories we have, and maybe treat ourselves to something we wouldn't indulge in during the week.

At first, we just stuck with our current way of eating, but making sure we didn't go over our daily calories. However, over time, we learned that making healthier decisions regarding food meant that we could eat more, thus keeping our bodies satisfied throughout the day. It also meant more energy and more efficient workouts. We still have our share of less-than-healthy food in the house, but control (not just portion control, but SELF-control as well!) is the key. If I have calories left over, it's okay to have a serving of Twizzlers...just not half the bag! We have really gotten into the habit of measuring out our food, even our snacks, and sticking to the portions. That way, we're not in front of the computer or TV with a bag of chips or something similar, and of course, before you know it, they're almost gone! I have not done that once since we started in mid-January.

And I just have to say, I am so proud of my husband! It is really because of him that we finally decided to get this kick-started once and for all. It was about that time that he started school to be a firefighter, and he realized that if he really wanted this to happen, he HAD to get into shape, no ifs, ands, or buts. No "Well, I just really don't FEEL like working out today." It's just not an option with what he's training for.

And of course, ALL the credit goes to God! It is by His grace alone that we even got started, let alone made it this far. I thank Him every single time I look in the mirror or step on the scale and see a change. He alone is our strength!

Annual Cleaning

As spring quickly approaches here, "Spring Cleaning" is on my mind. Being the defeated perfectionist that I am, I hate to admit that I really don't think I've ever fully completed a Spring Cleaning list that I've ever attempted to start. :) This year, I am going to give the annual list from Home Comforts a try. A few of these things I may also do in the fall, if needed, and many will probably just be added to my "Odd Jobs" list as time allows.

Wash blankets, comforters, and quilts
Give away unused clothing
Clean & polish gems, jewelry, silver, brass, copper
Clean light fixtures
Vacuum books
Move & clean under heavy appliances/furniture
Shampoo rugs and upholstery
Empty and clean all closets, drawers, and cabinets
Dust or wash china, crystal, knickknacks
Wash blinds and shades
Dry-clean/wash curtains
Organize/store photos, videos, CD's

Whew! For such a "short" list, it looks pretty daunting, but, we'll see how it goes this year. ;)

Monthly and Quarterly Cleaning

If I am on my game and get all my weekly chores done with time to spare, I move on to my monthly chores. I keep these on the same notebook page as my quarterly chores, as these lists are much shorter. So, if I have all my monthly cleaning done, and time to spare after my weekly chores are completed, I work on the quarterly cleaning.

Monthly Chores:
Launder underbedding (mattress covers) and blankets that are NOT comforters
Dust blinds, shades, door tops, and other hard-to-reach areas
Wash windows
Clean ceiling fan blades
Wash bathroom rugs

Quarterly Chores:
Turn mattresses
Wash or air pillows
Clean light shades, globes, dust lightbulbs

As needed:
Clean oven
Wash woodwork (I usually just do spot cleaning for this)
Organize drawers, cabinets, closets (these will usually get done as I have time as odd jobs)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Odd Jobs

Odd jobs are things I want to get done, but are not specifically mentioned on my other lists. Yes, I am a big list person. Especially with my MS, I have found that I NEED to make lists. If I don't write it down, it may or may not get done. ;)

Right now, my goal is to get the house completely organized and to get rid of clutter. I still go by the zones from Flylady. So, seeing as I am just beginning to implement these routines, I am starting in Zone 1. So, my current "Odd Jobs" list includes:

Organize front hall
Organize dining room
Clean the yard and decks

I do not give myself a specific period of time to complete odd jobs, so they will stay on the list until they are done. That way, I know they are getting done thoroughly, and not just rushed through to get them crossed off by the end of the week.


Weekly Homekeeping

Once the daily chores are done or in progress, I begin tackling the weekly chores.

Change beds
Wipe fingerprints/smears from doorknobs, woodwork, phones, computer, and switch plates
Wash entire bathroom (both)
Clean entire kitchen
Wash out garbage cans
Vacuum floors/furniture
Wash all washable floors
Odd jobs (will post about these later)
Mini-cleaning and laundering (because let's face it, a family of 5 cannot do laundry or vacuum just once per week!)
Iron clothes
As needed:
Wash mirrors

With the weekly list, I do cross off as I go. I don't really have a routine to complete this list, I just try to get it done before the next week starts.

If I finish the weekly list with time to spare, I begin on my monthly list.


Daily Homekeeping

I thought I would begin to post my new homekeeping routines. Much of these are taken and adapted from the book Home Comforts, by Cheryl Mendelson. It's a great book, and I highly recommend it.

I keep a notebook on my kitchen counter with lists of daily, weekly, monthly, bi-annual, and annual chores. For the daily chores, I don't really cross anything off, I just go through the list several times throughout the day and make sure everything is being maintained. Here is the list:

Dirty clothes in hamper (this reminds me to run a load of laundry if there is enough for a load)
Clean sinks after use (this reminds me to do the dishes if necessary)
Check bath supplies/towels
Meal prep/clean-up
Fresh kitchen towels/cloths
Fresh cleaning utensils (this reminds me to bleach kitchen brushes and dustpan if necessary)
Clean kitchen and hall floors (high traffic areas are done daily, and this includes washing if necessary)
Make beds
Pick up house/neaten
Empty trash (in evening, if full)

That's it. Once everything is done or in progress on the daily list, I work on the weekly chores, which I will post next.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Getting back into the swing of things

Oh, boy, there is so much on my plate right now it's not even funny. But the Good Lord has been getting me through. :) Yes, I have obviously taken a blogging break, and for now, I am taking a bit of a break from my Proverbs 31 study.

I kicked off the New Year with my birthday, and then an exacerbation of my MS symptoms. We had hosted Christmas, and with all I had going on, I had missed a few of my shots. The medication I had to take to help with the exacerbation took me on a whirlwind of not-so-fun side effects that lasted longer than usual. But, I'm all better now, and don't plan on missing my shots like that again!

The hubby took on another job as a paid on-call firefighter at our local fire station. As such, he is now going to school again to further his training. I am so proud of him! It has meant even more diligence is needed from me on the homefront, but I thrive on the pressure. ;) I came up with a much better routine for my household tasks, and it has been working great so far! I will try and post more details sometime this week.

Also, both the hubby and I have been losing weight! We are not on any particular diet (I have been sworn off diets for quite awhile now), just watching our calories and making sure we try and get in some exercise everyday. During these winter months, the Wii Fit has been working great for us. I have lost 11 pounds since mid-January, and I feel great and am looking forward to many more pounds lost! :)

Speaking of winter months, I do believe it is officially March and I have a bad case of spring fever! During the day here, it's been beautiful, and the snow is quickly melting away. I cannot wait to throw open all the windows and get some fresh air into this house.

As far as the kids go, I see it's time to get back to training better. Isaac, who's now almost 20 months old, has not been responding to "no" very well and has begun throwing tantrums over everything! Most people say it's because of his red hair, but I know's because of a lack of consistency from Mamma.

I'd like to get back to the Proverbs 31 study soon, especially during this season in my life. It may be busy, but what better time is there to study what the Proverbs 31 woman does? :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

You will notice more dinner "repeats" from last week. *Blush* We are still catching up...for some reason, we seem to have had an abundance of leftovers to go through. ;) From now on for Sunday, I will only be posting dinners, as on that day it's mostly a free-for-all for breakfast, and lunch at my parents'.

Sunday: Winter pot roast, wild rice pilaf, pumpkin dinner rolls

Breakfast-Cereal, yogurt
Lunch-Make-your-own sandwiches, chips or crackers
Dinner-Meat & potato salad, raw baby carrots and celery with homemade dill dip, baby dills

Breakfast-Peanut butter toast, orange juice, yogurt
Lunch-Egg salad sandwiches on toast, crackers
Dinner-BBQ chicken, sweet potato fries, corn sticks

Breakfast-Breakfast burritos, bananas
Dinner-Leftovers (Awana night)

Breakfast-Cereal, hard boiled eggs, tea
Lunch-Cheese quesadillas, spanish rice, corn
Dinner-Chili-mac skillet, veggies, bread

Breakfast-Waffles, fruit, yogurt
Lunch-Mac & cheese, bread

Breakfast-Scrambled eggs, muffins, yoogurt
Dinner-Noodle & veggie dinner, bread

Just shooting from the hip here, as my computer is bogging down and I can't open Word to get to my menu. :( That's okay. :) Since I can't open it, I will just be referencing my blog, anyway.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Lisa Project

While I was feeling yucky, my darling husband rented the movie "Julie & Julia." This movie is based on a true story of a woman named Julie, who was inspired by Julia Child's love of cooking. She committed to go through Mrs. Child's entire cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in a year, making each recipe. This was a wonderful movie, and I recommend it to anyone who loves to cook!

While I don't have the kind of commitment (or financial resources, for that matter!) to go through any of my cookbooks in a designated amount of time, I've been inspired to freshen up my cooking skills by simply choosing a cookbook and trying some new recipes I normally wouldn't consider for one reason or another. I LOVE to cook, and somewhat pride myself on being able to cook and bake a wide range of food, but there are certain recipes I stay away from...maybe because of certain ingredients, or an intimidating technique, and yes, maybe sometimes, too *simple*. LOL! Considering one of my ultimate goals is to cook more from scratch, this is a perfect "stretching" exercise for me. :)

So, last night, I began browsing one of my favorite general, go-to cookbooks, "The Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book." I was determined NOT to make a shopping list. I just wanted to see if there were maybe a few recipes in there that I already have all the ingredients for, and I did NOT want to try and come up with substitutes for ingredients, since I was determined to make the recipe AS IS, to see how it comes out that way first. Then, if something is off, I will work on making it more to our liking. My philosophy being, there's quite a bit out there that we've just never tried!

Anyway, I started in the Appetizer section and actually found quite a few recipes that I had everything for. So today, I got to work. For lunch, I made Potato Skins, which were excellent. I'm normally the only one in my family who likes tomatoes (especially those you can blatantly see sitting on your food), and everyone enjoyed these chopped-fresh-tomato-covered treats. I didn't even see any picked-off tomatoes laying around anywhere...nice! Then, right before dinner, I threw together some dill dip to chill for later, which I enjoyed on some crackers for an after-dinner snack. Sure beats that stuff we got once upon a time from Tastefully Simple, and was just as easy to make! Tomorrow, I will serve it to the boys with their fresh veggies for lunch (if there's any left...ahem!). I thought I was done, but found a huge bag of walnuts in the freezer after the boys went to bed. That meant I had all the ingredients for Sweet Spiced Walnuts! Whipped those together in less than 5 minutes, baked them for 20, and now they're sitting on the counter, cooling and waiting to be consumed. :)

Now, we have some interesting, and somewhat healthy (homemade is better anyway!) snacks for the week. I'm making notes in my cookbook of what we really like, so that I can integrate that into our staples, and work on my cooking in that area, if necessary. I LOVE to cook, and I'm so excited for what I'm going to learn! :)


Menu Plan Monday...on Wednesday?

Wow, what a week since my last post! A flare-up in my MS managed to sneak up on me, and I am just getting done with the treatment for it...which in some ways is worse than the symptoms! It's been a rough week on me, and needless to say, I haven't been spending a whole lot of time in the kitchen.

I had some menus all planned out for this week, and while so far they haven't gone as planned, let's just say we've been doing good. Much thanks to my wonderful husband and boys! :) Yes, you will see a few repeats in the menus from last week, only because I never got to make them when I intended. ;)

Breakfast-the usual Sunday morning free-for-all
Lunch-sandwiches for the boys, hubby brought me Sonic :)
Dinner-Taco ring, cucumber salad

Breakfast-Cereal, fruit
Lunch-homemade bread bowls filled with broccoli cheese soup

Breakfast-Cereal, fruit
Lunch-Scrambled eggs and toast (I was craving comfort food, so hubby made some up for everyone)
Dinner-Leftovers or sandwiches (kids' choice!)

Breakfast-Cereal, fruit (yes, keeping it simple this week!)
Lunch-Loaded potato skins with sour cream for dip
Dinner-Stuffing-topped venison chops, steamed green beans, pumpkin dinner rolls

Breakfast-Pancakes, bacon
Lunch-Tuna sandwiches, carrots & celery with homemade dill dip
Dinner-Homemade pizza, salad, brownie sundaes for dessert

Breakfast-Pumpkin scones w/ cinnamon icing, fruit
Dinner-Teriyaki roast, Rice pilaf, sunshine kiss cookies

Breakfast-Strawberry banana kefir smoothie
Dinner-Meat & potato salad, pickles, carrots, apple pie tarts for dessert

Praise be to God, I am on the mend now, and will be easing back into my normal duties over the next few days. :)


Monday, January 4, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Breakfast: Free-for-all :)
Lunch: Domino's pizza for ds4's birthday party
Dinner: Leftovers

Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Egg salad and sprouts on toast, chips (we have a lot to go through from Christmas and New Year's!)
Dinner: New England Corn Beef Supper (roasted corn beef brisket with cabbage and other veggies), French bread

Breakfast: Homemade lemon poppy seed muffins, fruit
Lunch: Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup
Dinner: Cheesy Chicken and Rice, salad

Breakfast: Baked oatmeal, fruit
Lunch: Peanut butter and honey sandwiches, carrots and celery sticks, homemade raspberry jell-o
Dinner: Leftovers (Awana night)

Breakfast: Overnight French toast, fruit
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Greek turkey burgers, 3 bean salad, lime sherbet with raspberries

Breakfast: Homemade cranberry orange muffins, fruit
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Taco ring, cucumber salad, double chocolate sundaes with homemade fudge topping

Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Tuna sandwiches, leftover bean salad, carrot sticks
Dinner: Stuffing-topped venison chops, steamed green beans, homemade pumpkin dinner rolls

A year with a deep focus on family, health, and home

I refused to do New Year's resolutions this year. I have given up on New Year's resolutions because, well, I always give up on New Year's resolutions. LOL!

However, I do have a vision for how I want this year to go (I know, I know, when we plan, God laughs). My aim (not just for the New Year) is for a closer family, for a home that is a sanctuary, and for good health for my family. I don't have a "start date", or a certain time that I want to accomplish these goals by, but rather, little things I want to start implementing a little at a time. I don't want to set myself or my family up for failure! All I want to see by the end of the year, is that my family has grown in their relationships with each other, that we are at least a little healthier than we are now, and that our home is a little bit cozier.

The first thing I have in mind, that will cover all three of my goals, is to make a habit of eating every meal we can *together* at the table. Over the last year, we have gotten out of the habit of that, and I want it back!

Also this week, as soon as all the pop is gone from the house, that's it, it's not coming back. That has to be the number one diet killer. It will be mostly water for us from now on if we are thirsty (the kids don't drink pop anyway, this one's mostly for Mom and Dad!). If we want a "treat," we do like the Arizona green tea and tend to keep that in our fridge, so we can have that. :) This is how it will be with most things in our diet...I don't like picking a start date for quitting something, only to have to throw whatever it is away and waste hard-earned money. We will just gradually replace our foods with healthier things as we are ready.

I think the only goal for my home this week is to get the Christmas things put away, and to keep it picked up and maintain laundry. There are so many things I have in mind for our home, but I am teaching myself to be content with what I have. I know that I can make our home a sanctuary more by the work of my hands, than by spending money on things that are not necessary. There will come a time for that when we are financially able, but for the moment, I am content to work with what I've got, which is already way more than enough. :)