Friday, December 26, 2008

Orderliness and Routine

Last year, Cherry presented the idea of choosing a word for the year. I chose two for 2008:

streamline and organize.

It seems having a word or two to focus on worked. I streamlined and organized a lot this year. We had a big garage sale and took truckloads of stuff to Goodwill. I try to continue to take a bag or two every few weeks. I minimized clothing and streamlined my laundry routine. I organized my pantry and other key areas, although there's still a long way to go. (I did not, however, streamline my cooking. Healthful meals and food allergies don't go very well with minimal time in the kitchen.)

This year I'm choosing two words as well:

orderliness and routine.

These words run on a parallel track to the words I chose last year, I think. They will keep me moving in the same direction. Besides the simple fact that it's good for grownups to have well-ordered surroundings and a workable routine, it's especially important for my kids. And out of my kids, there's one in particular who needs more order and structure. So that is my direction for the year.

The domestic work of Carl Larsson personifies this kind of order to me. I love his work pictured above, "Flowers on the Windowsill." It's tidy and peaceful, full of the routine of daily living. It's a visual reminder of the qualities I hope my life will one day embody.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

Each Monday Peggy hosts The Simple Woman's Daybook. I decided to participate this week.

For Today...December 22

Outside my's gray and chilly. Tomorrow is supposed to be in the 70's though!

I am thinking... how glad I am that I mixed and froze cookie dough next week for stress-free baking this week!

From the learning reading this week since we are on Christmas break.

I am thankful sweet husband and precious children who have gone Christmas shopping for me. :)

From the kitchen... pie crust for sweet potato pies. Fajitas for supper. Christmas cookies!

I am wearing... fave Keen shoes.

I am reading... Nourishing Traditions.

I am hoping... to get all my Christmas prep done in time for a peaceful holiday.

I am creating... a fruit of the Spirit quilt for my oldest girl, a little blue purse for my middle girl, and a secret gift for my son.

I am hearing... Baby fussing on my lap...she is so sleepy.

Around the house... laundry, holiday cleaning for a tidy Christmas, wrapping gifts.

One of my favorite things... quilts handmade by Grandma.

A few plans for the rest of the week... cooking.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

Thanksgiving at Grandpa's

I'm a little late posting pictures from our Thanksgiving visit to my mom and dad's farm. These are my mom's sheep.

Well house

Mouser Kitty cat

I love the barn!

Grandpa took all the kids on a hay ride. Do you think these cousins have something in common?

This is my dad's old horse, Drifter. Drifter is 25. That's very old in horse years.

We had an entourage for the hay ride.

For these guys, the emphasis was on "hay."


For more pictures of Grandpa and Grandma's farm, go here and here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Biscuits for Breakfast

We traditionally have a big breakfast on one of Billy's days off (Friday or Saturday). Lately I've been learning how to make biscuits. Good ones. Like his grandma used to make. Mmmmm...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

If You're Here for A Day in My Life...

Scroll down past the Christmas meme. It's here, just a bit buried! Welcome, Little Jenny Wren readers!

Christmas Meme

I was tagged for this meme via email by my good friend Jenny. I figured I'd just post it to my blog!

1. What do you use, wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper. I get nice, heavy paper on clearance at places like Hobby Lobby. My favorite in recent history looks like old-fashioned sheet music for Jingle Bells!

2. Real tree or artificial? I love a real tree but succumbed to the lure of artificial when our allergies got too bad year before last. It's pretty, but it has no smell.

3. When do you put up the tree? Early! This year it was before we left for Thanksgiving vacation.

4. When do you take the tree down? Whenever we get around to it. Last year it was February.

5. What is your favorite Christmas beverage? Nonalcoholic eggnog. I haven't had it in years though. I keep thinking about making my own.

6. Favorite gift(s) received as a child? A babydoll I named Blanche (WHAT was I thinking???!!!) that I got on the only white Christmas I ever had. A whole stack of books by the tree. A diary when I was 9. That started my love affair with journaling. The pearl earrings Billy gave me on our first Christmas. Oh wait, I wasn't a child then. Although at age 22 I might as well have been.

7. Hardest person to buy for? Billy, I guess. Sometimes he just tells me what he would like for Christmas and truthfully I like that. It helps me know, and then he gets something he really wants anyway. But I'm also getting better at guessing what he'd like so there are some surprises.

8. Easiest person(s) to buy for? My kids, of course.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes,actually two. One is a Willow Tree nativity and the other is white and gold porcelain.

10. Mail or e-mail Christmas cards? Email. I used to send cards but somehow I never get around to it any more.

11. Worst Christmas gift(s) you ever received? Honestly, I don't ever recall getting a bad gift. I'm fortunate! Also, my parents taught me to be thankful for whatever I got, so I learned to always love the gifts others give me.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Charlie Brown Christmas

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Theoretically all through the year. In reality, we shop online after Thanksgiving. We don't fight Christmas crowds anymore. Next year I'd like to make a lot of my gifts. Maybe I can carve out the time if I start in January.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I'm sure I probably have. (I know, tacky tacky.)

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Pie. Fudge. Oranges. I guess I have a sweet tooth.

16. Lights on the tree? Yes! My favorites are the big colored retro lights I grew up with. White lights are pretty too, though.

17. Favorite Christmas song? I love them all. I can't choose.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? We have usually traveled in the past. Last year we stayed home and it was such a peaceful Christmas. There are positives about both. We miss seeing family when we don't travel, but it's really nice to have a quiet day at home too. Of course I am a homebody anyway!

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? I don't know.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? A pretty metal star from Bass Pro Shop. It's not camouflage, I promise.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? People who overload themselves with stress and obligations to the point that they say, "I can't wait for Christmas to be over." Also, people who let you know they are disappointed with the gift you gave them. It's so rude. My pet peeve.

23. Favorite Christmas ornament or theme or decorations? Vintage glass from the 1940's.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Billy's cooking. I don't care what he makes as long as he makes it. He's an excellent cook. Last year he made some amazing spaghetti and meatballs.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? What I want most is to get our 3 years worth of digital pictures developed. I'm not a materialistic person, but I do keep thinking of silly things I'd like to have, like a tempered glass cutting board or particular books or cd's. Normally I can't think of anything, though, and if I were asked I'd forget all those silly things I thought of earlier.

Gosh, did I just sit here and answer 25 Christmas questions when I should have been washing dishes? Thanks, Jenny! That was fun!

A Day in My Life--December

On Sunday mornings I usually get up early and get myself ready about an hour before the kids get up. This makes our Sundays go so much more smoothly, since we attend the early service at 8:30. However, Sarah (my 3 year old) was up several times last night complaining of a sore throat, and sure enough, she is sick this morning. So I changed out of my church clothes and into jeans in preparation for a day at home.

After I fed the children, I put some turkey bones on to boil. I'm a huge fan of the Nourishing Traditions way of eating, and I've found homemade soup from bone broth very comforting and healing when we're sick. My kids look forward to it too. I made this little bouquet garni to add flavor. The rosemary is from my tiny herb bed, and the bay is from an elderly friend's huge bay tree. He gave me a six-foot branch and told me it's the most fragrant variety of bay.

Then I spent some time reading my Bible. I've been mulling over Psalm 119, which is a long treatise on God's Law. This verse (37) jumped out at me: "Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things." As a busy mom of 4 small children, time management is my greatest challenge. It's a struggle to know where to devote my limited energies because there are so many worthy things calling for my attention. I need God's help to know which things are "worthless" and which things deserve a second look.

This question was especially on my mind this morning as I spent a few minutes reading blogs. I find these journals of the wonderful things people do so inspiring, but at the same time I must understand that I can't do it all. So when I have a few minutes to read for inspiration, where should I go? Blogs about crafting, frugality and simplicity, homemaking, homeschooling, health, cooking, gardening??? Should I read for pleasure or simply for information? I wonder.

The kids and I had a little church/Sunday School time here at home. I plunked out a few songs on the piano (and plunk is right--Elizabeth says, "Mama, you need some more practice!") and Silas strummed his guitar and we make a joyful noise. Elizabeth read us the creation story and we talked about things God made and their Proverb from church Wednesday night. Then we prayed and they watched Veggie Tales. (OK, so Veggie Tales isn't part of the church thing--that's simple entertainment.)

Through the rest of the morning I rearranged the dining room, did laundry and cleaned, and finished the soup, as well as staying in touch with a couple friends via facebook. My sick baby didn't want to stay in the living room alone, so she brought a beanbag chair and the basket of Christmas books to the kitchen where I was.

Then Billy came home and we ate together before I tackled the pile of dishes on the counter. The afternoon was filled with mundane little things. One included the collapse of my cookbook book case. It's been wobbly for awhile, but it finally fell apart altogether. I guess I'll have to find a new place for my books, or get a new little book case.

Before I knew it it was time for Billy and the older kids to go to our church school's Christmas musical, leaving me with the little ones.

I plan to keep working on the house this evening, so it's tidy for a new week. There's bread in the machine and Sarah is watching Spot. Later, I'll feed everybody a light supper and we'll all head to bed.

Hope you all had a lovely Sunday!

Read more "A Day in My Life" posts at Little Jenny Wren!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Books I'd Love to Own

I've been keeping a running list of books I'd like to have, as I think of them. So often I think of a book I'd like and then forget about it because I don't write it down. Here's a portion of the list, so far.

Seventeenth Summer
We Had Everything But Money
The "Have More" Plan
Hungry Planet
Material World
Don't Make Me Count to Three
Leading Little Ones to God
Practical Herbalism
The Herbal Home Remedy Book
The How-To Herb Book
Square Foot Gardening

By Elizabeth Goudge:

A City of Bells
The Scent of Water
The Rosemary Tree

By Grace Livingston Hill:

The Enchanted Barn
A Daily Rate
Found Treasure
Cloudy Jewel
The Cloudy Jewel
The Seventh Hour
April Gold
The Prodigal Girl
The Christmas Bride
The Gold Shoe
The Substitute Guest
The Patch of Blue
The Strange Proposal
Mary Arden
Beauty for Ashes
Crimson Roses

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Seven Random Things

1. Well, I was on a roll when we went on vacation and I got sick. Yes, simultaneously.

Billy's also recovering, I'm still hacking, and the kids are snotty, so life is in the slow lane. Grace isn't complaining, but she's been up a lot at night and I'm a zombie. Billy ordered me to drink tea and watch TV today (awwww...sweet...), and I'm loosely interpreting that to mean clean the bedroom so I don' t want to cry/have a panic attack/throw up every time I peek in the door and blog. My brain is working in a very low gear, but those are two things I can't mess up too badly, I guess.

2. It's satsuma season again. I love those little easy-to-peel mandarins. So do my kids. We went through half a five-gallon bucket (from a friend's tree) in about 2 days.

3. I love my new Ergo! Wearing baby is so much more comfortable than any other carrier I've used, and she's much happier too.

4. For those of you who know my sister or used to read her blog, she has a new baby boy. This makes boy #3 and he is such a cutie! I was sufficiently recovered to see him on Thanksgiving day (two days after his home birth), but I didn't get too close and I certainly didn't hold him. Didn't want to take chances. I enjoyed him from afar, though.

5. I organized my pantry. That's another thing that was just about giving me panic attacks. Considering the frequent disarray of various areas of our home, I'm sure my husband doesn't believe me when I say disorganized messes make me physically ill. They just paralyze me, which is why they stay the way they do. I feel so happy every time I look into that orderly pantry!

6. I got pantry organizers in a most unorthodox way. Our freezer died (probably from power surges during Hurricane Gustav) and we had to get a new one. The wire baskets from the old freezer were perfect for the pantry shelves.

7. I've come up with a non-food reward for myself when I'm working through a really big job. I don't have time to sit down and read blogs like I used to, so I treat myself to a crafty or homey blog when I've finished a work milestone. Just one. Then on to the next chunk of work.

It suppose it's silly, but I get to read the blogs I love, my work gets done (somewhat), and it's noncaloric. I've lost 10 pounds in the last couple months, so I guess it's working.