Monday, February 27, 2012

"She watches over the ways of her household."

I've been looking at Proverbs 31 a little lately, (about the virtuous wife) and one verse has really been sticking out to me. "She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness."

To me, at this moment in my life, it is speaking about financial stuff. Wes asked me before we were even married if I would manage our finances. That was one thing that really stressed him out, and he didn't think he could handle it. I agreed to do it, but I haven't always been very consistent.

For instance, we're pretty tight on money right now, and have been for a while, though some times are a little less tight than others. I've tried a few times to put us on a cash system - it's so much easier to know how much you have and how much you're spending when you can actually SEE it! Cards make it hard to keep track of - at least for us. We're more likely to go over on spending if we're using cards, because it's convenient and you can't tell when you're running out.

Anyway, I never was consistent enough with making withdrawals and keeping track of income and outflow to see how much we could spend and how much we could save... so we've had some trouble putting any money back for savings. This is something I would really like to get better at, and after reading that verse, I'm happy to say that I have added "check on finances" to my weekly list in my homemaking organization notebook. Every Monday, along with my other tasks, I will now be checking on our bank account and looking at our income and outflow, making sure things are on track and calculating how much money I can withdraw for us to use for groceries and spending.

To me, it's a way that I can "watch over the ways of my household." It's also a way that I can honor my husband, by doing what he requested of me to the best of my ability and by not being inconsistent with it (which would show that his requests are not a priority to me like they should be).

Teacher or student?

This is another lesson from a sermon at "You can't be a good teacher unless you first become a good student." Or something like that.

Deep stuff. Our own pastor (also Wes's uncle) Darrel Auvenshine is one of the greatest conversationalists I've ever met. He is a wise and good counselor. A while ago, another pastor, Scott Sharman, explained to me why that was. Darrel is a good listener. He goes into a conversation as a student first, a teacher second. He genuinely cares about what you have to say, and he listens and forms a wise and honest opinion before saying anything.

Me on the other hand - well, I'd like to be like that. One day. But right now, I tend to speak before I listen. When I'm listening, I'm also trying to work out what I'm going to say next, so I'm not really fully listening. (There's that focus thing again, popping up to nip me in the rear.) I'm so caught up in thinking about getting MY point across that I don't really listen to THEM. Selfishness. Another major struggle for me.

Also, I think it's a matter of mind vs. heart. I'm thinking more than caring. I do that a lot. It's something I've really been working on lately.

But I really do want to learn to be a better listener. I want to speak less, but speak more thoughtfully. I want to truly care. I want to consider my words well before I say them. I want to be wise!

I think it'll come with learning to slow down, focus, and be more in tune with the Holy Spirit.

The concept of being a student before you can be a teacher doesn't just apply to conversations, though. It applies to everything. If you want to have a solid opinion about something, you'd better listen to some other opinions first and make an informed decision about what you believe. If you want to teach something, you'd better make sure you understand it well first. We shouldn't rush to be teachers. The good teachers are the ones who really take time to learn their stuff first.

And if you haven't done so yet, you should definitely check out! They have some AMAZING sermons!!! (Cornerstone is Francis Chan's church - the author of Crazy Love.)

No evolution from flesh to spirit

Some thoughts on a sermon I just heard at

The pastor said (among many other things) that "there is no evolution from the flesh to the spirit." I may not have quoted him word for word, but it was something very close to that. At any rate, it reminded me of Galatians chapter 3 where it says:
Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

We can't be righteous on our own. Can't be holy. Can't be perfect. Not by God's standards. No matter how hard we try, (and I have tried VERY hard, many times) flesh can never become spirit. Only by drawing near to God do we become holy - not because WE change, but because HE changes us. We grow and learn to walk in the spirit by loving and seeking God. And we seek God and draw near to him by following Jesus Christ.

Just some thoughts. I frequently struggle with trying to change, so this is very meaningful to me. I try and try, but all I do is frustrate myself every time because I CAN'T change. Then I am reminded some way or another that God changes us - we don't change ourselves. Then I'm good for a while, and then at some point I start drifting back into my old habits again - I stop seeking God as much and start putting more effort into trying to change myself. Again. And then after I'm so frustrated I'm ready to pop, God reminds me (again) that drawing near to him is what's important, and that true, lasting change comes only when I put him first and seek him with all my heart.

You'd think I'd have learned by now. Well, I can be a pretty slow learner sometimes. I'm just thankful that God is so patient with me and loves me enough to put up with my slowness. :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

The other day Wes took me out to play miniature golf. We had a nice little bet going, too. If I won, we would get some Italian food and watch a sermon online together. If he won, we'd go to the store and get a package of crescent roll dough so I could make mini cinnamon rolls.

Well, Wes won, but we didn't go to the store right away. We came home to let Rachel take a nap. And she slept a little longer than we expected her to. As it turned out, Wes was planning to take me out to an Italian place anyway, whether I won or not. (I was very happy about this!) But we were running out of time before church, so we woke Rachel up and drove to the restaurant. I say all this to explain why we didn't end up going to the store to get crescent roll dough. And after church my brother came home with us and he and Wes hung out and played XBox.

While they were gaming, I thought I'd just try to make some cinnamon rolls from scratch and surprise Wes. (They thought I was just making Epic Cookies - which I was, but in between batches I was finding and making THESE.)

They are SO GOOD!!! I didn't have cream cheese, so I just made regular frosting with powdered sugar and water. (I doubt Wes would have liked cream cheese frosting, anyway.) I also didn't have brown sugar, so I just used white (organic), and I didn't have quite enough butter for the recipe, so I used some butter and some coconut oil. What else... Oh, I didn't have buttermilk either, but I did have some raw milk that had started to sour, so I used that plus a little bit of vinegar - and it turned out I had EXACTLY one cup of milk, which was what the recipe called for. :) I was very happy about that.

Wesley LOVED them! He said they were even better than the mini cinnamon rolls I used to make with packaged crescent roll dough. I'm so excited, because I'm trying to make as much food as I can from scratch now - this was kind of a special thing since he requested them, so I didn't mind, but I'm so glad things turned out the way they did! Now I have this great recipe that I'm sure I'll use whenever I make cinnamon rolls from now on.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Stuff I'm learning about myself

As I strive to become more organized, I'm learning there are some things that I'm taking to pretty well and others that I'm really struggling with, for whatever reason. For example: I'm doing pretty well keeping up with my new home management binder, making to-do lists and meal plans and grocery lists, but I'm struggling with consistently doing some of the tasks I've set out to accomplish. Particularly making the bed on a daily basis and going to bed before 10:30.

I don't know why making the bed is so hard. I did it every morning growing up, but for some reason, now I'm slacking in that area. Maybe it's because nobody ever comes in our room, so making the bed seems unimportant in relation to some of the other things I could choose to do with my time. But on the other hand, it's not like it takes that long, and I feel much better about myself when I get it done. I like keeping a neat home, and having an unmade bed keeps it from feeling neat (to me).

I know exactly why getting to bed earlier is hard. After the girls go to bed, I have free time! Well, sort of. I use a lot of it to catch up with chores that I didn't finish during the day - it's a lot easier to get them done when nobody needs feeding or changing or holding. But after I catch up on tasks around the house I usually take some time to get on the computer or read or do something else that I enjoy. And then I don't want to stop! I could be as tired as... well, I can't think of any clever endings to that phrase at the moment, but I can be extremely tired and still I will choose to stay up and blog, or read, or whatever. Which is honestly a little selfish, because my family depends on me and being well-rested is one of the ways I can keep my strength and energy up and make sure I'm fully capable of meeting their needs. Yet I choose to have a little more "me" time instead. And that's turning out to be a really hard habit for me to break! I want to make the selfless choice, but it's really been a struggle!

So I'm thinking in order to overcome this, I'll set a goal to go to bed early every night for six nights, (unless we're not at home or something) and then maybe I'll let myself stay up late one night and do stuff I enjoy, and then back to the six days.

I'll let you know how it goes. My goal is to start getting enough rest so that I can get up before my husband and kiddos and have some quiet time with the Lord in the mornings before the day begins. I'm thinking maybe I can take the dog out and fix breakfast, too, which will make my mornings much easier! (Not easy taking the dog out and cooking once the girls are up - they both need changing and Rachel needs to be fed, and sometimes it seems to take forever before I get breakfast made.)

Anyway, now I'm kind of rambling, so I'll sign off for now. Later!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Speak less, but speak more thoughtfully

Something the Holy Spirit revealed to me today. Or at least, I think it was the Holy Spirit. I have a hard time telling - sometimes I think it's just my imagination. But anyway, that's a whole different post and a whole different struggle.

Moving on. So I've really been having a hard time with one of my goals - focus. I'm doing pretty well with the organization, and I haven't really started concentrating on patience and contentment yet... but focus is turning out to be REALLY hard for me.

This is one aspect of focus that I would like to, uh, focus on for a while. :) Focus in my speech. This includes prayer. I would really like to learn to speak less, but to speak more thoughtfully. Something I really admire in people (and really desire to have more of myself) is wisdom. And if you think about it, the people who are truly wise are rarely, if ever, the people who talk a lot. They're the quiet ones, who only speak when they actually have something to say. And even better, they actually THINK before they say it.

Words are powerful. We really need to choose them carefully. But instead of thinking and considering before we speak, we sling words around mindlessly all day long (at least I do). This is something I really want to work on for the next couple of weeks, or however long it takes me to improve.

In other news, I am getting a little better about reminding myself to "be here, now." I'm also getting a little better about consciously choosing the single most important thing (or two) that needs to be done at the moment and focusing fully on it, rather than trying to do or think about ten things at once.

A little better. Not a lot, and I'm certainly not satisfied yet, but at least I'm improving. :)

Yummy rub recipe

Last week we hosted Lifegroup at our apartment (members of our Lifegroup, a small group from our church, take turns hosting), and Wes wanted to cook a nice dinner for everyone, so I bought a nice brisket at Central Market and Wes was going to fix it in the slow-cooker like a roast. But we didn't have any barbecue sauce, which is what he's used to using for roasts. (I was glad - most barbecue sauces are pretty unhealthy anyway, and we haven't found a healthy one that Wes likes yet.) Anyway, I went online and searched for seasoning recipes for brisket, and I found one to try. I had to modify it a little, as we didn't have all the seasonings it called for... but it was fantastic! Here it is:

5 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. chili powder

I used organic everything, of course. Except salt, which obviously can't be organic because you don't grow it, lol. But I did use nice pink Himalayan sea salt. :) It was so delicious! And today I used it again to cook Wes a nice grass-fed steak. (The steak was also delicious.) I mixed up a batch and put it in a little glass bowl so we can just use however much we want and it's already mixed up for whenever we need some. Unless we go and make a huge brisket again, which used the entire batch by itself.

Anyway, just wanted to share. You can find the original recipe here:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Not good enough.

Lately I've kind of been struggling with the feeling that I'm not good enough. I feel like I'm failing in my attempts to glorify God with my life. I keep doing things I know not to do, and then on the other hand I keep not doing things I know I should do. (Sound familiar? Romans 6, anyone?) I feel the same way with my mothering and... uh, wifing?.

On the spiritual side, I think it's just hard for me to accept the fact that I don't have to be "good enough" for God. That I'm accepted already, just like I am... it feels kind of like I should have to do better or something. Not to earn salvation or anything, but to honor him, I guess. I don't know. To thank him properly. By living for him. You know what I mean, right? But I don't feel like I'm honoring him very well. Like I'm not doing "good enough."

I mentioned these feelings in an email to my sister-in-law, along with my frustrations about not being able to focus and be "all there," and her response was so incredibly eye-opening that I had to share it here.

...maybe it has to do with the focusing part. You feel all over the place, so in the end you don't feel like you have accomplished anything at all, thus feeling not "good enough". I'm not sure that that exactly makes sense...

It totally made sense! It's not like I think I have to be better than I'm capable of being. Life is a journey, after all. You don't just pop up at the end. You develop as you go. God sort of molds and shapes you (if you let him, anyway), and you learn and grow and mature... So no, I don't feel like I have to be perfect. I just feel like I should be doing my best and putting my full effort in, and when I'm trying to do several things at once, or when my mind is wandering or I'm thinking about the next thing that has to be done, I don't give my full effort and attention to what I'm doing at the moment. So therefore I end up feeling like I didn't give it my best (because I didn't) and then I feel guilty because I want to give my best for God.

So there it is! Now it makes sense. But just because it makes sense doesn't mean I'll overcome it. God, please HELP ME WITH THIS!!! Haha, isn't it ironic that we need God's help to honor God? Lol. We're so useless on our own. But, you know, if we could be godly and righteous on our own we wouldn't need a savior, would we?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Worry isn't worth $20

Intriguing post title, isn't it? Well, here's the story behind it. Yesterday I bought a new phone with some of our tax return money. Out of all the things I was considering, it seemed a good choice - not because I needed a new phone, but because my current phone plan is around $50 a month, and this phone is for one of those no-contract service providers and will end up being only $30 a month (and I'll have texting!). So it was sort of an investment intended to give us an extra $20 a month, which is going to be really important now that we're going to be kind of tight living off Wes's income.

Anyway. I was very excited... until I got home and went online to activate the phone. While I was online an ad popped up at the top of my screen - the same phone was on sale if you bought it on the internet - $20 less. (I paid $60 for the phone.)

$20! That's a lot for us right now. I considered taking the phone back, but it was already late and I didn't want to go the next day because then I'd probably have to take Kaira and Rachel with me and it would take quite a while... plus I'd miss out on time with my husband (or as it turned out, a trip to the grocery store so my husband could sleep in - he wasn't feeling well so I think he really appreciated that).

But I asked Wes what he thought, and he said not to worry about it - just to go ahead and activate the phone. So I did.

And then this morning I was online and they had a smartphone for the same service provider - it was on sale, too (if you bought it online), and it was $50 off it's regular price. With the sale price, the smartphone would have been $10 cheaper than the one I bought!

I started kind of wishing I'd waited - but the truth was, I didn't know about the internet sale until after I purchased the phone. I was just making the best decision I could with the information I had at the time. So feeling guilty about it didn't really make sense.

And I wasn't only feeling guilty - I kind of started coveting the nicer phone. Until I caught myself. What the heck? The phone I bought was already way nicer than any phone I had ever owned, and I was still going to be saving $20 a month on my phone bill. Why was I investing so much mental energy on being negative - worrying and regretting and coveting a better phone - when I had gotten a great deal and a great phone?

I told myself - I would gladly pay much more than $20 to take all the worries and regrets and covetous thoughts out of my life. So why am I worrying over $20? So what if I could have saved it? I didn't know at the time. And I still got a great deal - I was perfectly happy with it until I started comparing it with something else. I think that was the main thing - it kind of reminded me of Jesus' parable about the workers who worked all day getting paid the same amount as the ones who were hired in the afternoon and only worked a few hours. The ones who worked all day were happy with what they had... until they compared it with something else.

So, lesson learned. Keep my eyes on where I am and what I have, and have a thankful heart. Worry isn't worth $20. Or maybe I should rephrase that - $20 isn't worth worrying about.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Home organization binder

I read a post yesterday at about creating a home organization binder, and it seemed like a really good idea, so I think it's something I'm going to try this year. Hopefully sooner rather than later. Here are some things I'd like to incorporate in mine:

A page for my life goals, both for godly character traits I would like to possess and things I would like to accomplish

A page for my goals for the year - goals in food preparation, writing, homemaking, loving my husband, raising my children, and honoring my God

Pages for goals for each month

A list of my weekly chores

A list of my daily chores

Paper for daily to-do lists

Paper for weekly grocery lists

Paper for weekly meal planning

Any ideas or thoughts about this? Am I missing anything?

UPDATE: Oh! Here's a thought. Maybe I can do this here on the blog. Hmm. Which would be better, on paper or on the computer? Paper I can take with me. On the computer I'll never have to replace or add pages, and I won't have to buy anything. What if we stop paying for internet?

Huh. Maybe I'll start on the computer for now and see how it goes. The only thing I really need on paper is my grocery list, and that takes all of two minutes to copy down onto a scrap of notepaper from the computer, so that's not much... Okay. We'll just try it and see how it goes for now. Can always change my mind later if it doesn't work.

Weekly housekeeping list

All right. I've really been in an organize-my-life sort of mood lately, so while I still feel this way I'm going to go ahead and make a list of some stuff that should probably be done around here on a weekly basis. I'm thinking divide the chores up and do them throughout the week so that there's never too much to do at once, and since everything's being maintained, the place will (hopefully) stay looking pretty nice.

There are also some things that have to be done daily (or every other day for some, as needed), so I'll get those out of the way first.

Daily - dishes; clean kitchen; vacuum; make the bed; wash diapers; fold diapers; take out trash; pick up clothes, toys, dishes, trash, etc.; check next day's menu and do any necessary food preparation (soaking, marinating, etc.)


Monday - laundry
Tuesday - organize something (one drawer, shelf, etc.)
Wednesday - dust surfaces
Thursday - grocery store (can be moved to another day depending on Wesley's work schedule)
Friday - clean bathrooms
Saturday - make up day for anything that got missed
Sunday - NOTHING! YAY!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Stuff I'd Like to Do This Year

Thought I'd make a list of some stuff I'd like to do this year - maybe it'll help me remember so I'll actually do it, lol.

March - make clarified butter
April - make sourdough bread (goal - get a good sandwich bread that Wes will like)
May - learn to make kombucha
June - make filmjolk yogurt
July - learn to make mustard
August - make (good-tasting) cream cheese
September - learn to make kefir
October - learn to make mayonnaise (that tastes good)
November - make (good-tasting) cultured raw butter
December - learn to make vinegar

Other things I'd like to do before the end of this year:
Finish the first book of The Legend of Talis
Learn about essential oils and massage
Go a day without talking
Go a week without asking for anything (selflessness)
Create a home-organization binder
Finish a scrapbook

Another thought on "being fully there"

This is going to be short - it's just something I've realized (something new) about the struggle to be fully focused and present and just being where you are. (Not distracted.)

I may be wrong, but I feel like being thankful and striving to glorify God in whatever you're doing are good ways to keep focused - and not just focused, but focused in the right way! Which may be a part of what I'm struggling with, too. Not just being there, but being there and being united with God at the same time.

Now THAT is true life - life at its fullest! And that's what I'm hoping to achieve, if God will be gracious enough to allow me to learn it! (Please, Lord, help me with this! It's soooo hard for me.)

Thought for the day

God revealed this to me tonight while I was lying in bed nursing Rachel. Lately I've been kind of struggling with the whole concept of Christian living. If we died with Christ and were raised to new life, why do we still struggle SO MUCH with sin? Why is it sometimes I feel like I'm no better now than I would be if I never knew God? People say that God gives us the strength to get through each day, and that only through prayer and closeness to God can we ever hope to grow and mature and become better people - they say that only through Christ can we overcome our temptations and our weaknesses.

But I don't think that's true. (Bear with me.) There are plenty of people in the world who don't follow Christ at all but who overcome temptations and weaknesses just the same. Maybe it's still through the power of God - he's the God of everyone, after all, lost or saved. But this whole concept of needing Christ to do anything... I don't know. I'm just really struggling with it.

After all, before Jesus there were still godly people. People who overcame the temptation to sin. People who got through the day without losing their patience. Weren't there? I'm definitely NOT saying anyone was perfect, or worthy of God's grace on their own - I know Christ's sacrifice was THE only way to repair the shattered bond between God and man. I'm just saying, if the only way to overcome anger is through the power of Christ in us, why are there people who don't know Christ who overcome their anger?

But I'm getting off-topic a little. So I've been struggling with this mostly because I feel like I should be living differently. Like I shouldn't be having so much trouble overcoming things like selfishness, pride, thoughtlessness, shame, and impatience. And this is where my thought for the day comes in. Maybe the reason I'm having so much trouble dying to the flesh and living in the spirit is because... get ready... there are still parts of the flesh that I WANT to keep alive. I'm not willing to die in certain areas. There are times when I still WANT to be selfish. Times when I want pity. Or chocolate. More than I want God. There are times when I want to be angry and just lash out instead of seeking the Holy Spirit. And what I realized tonight was this:

If you want to truly take hold of God, you have to let go of everything else.

Everything else.

It's like if you were hanging off a cliff and someone in a helicopter came to rescue you. The guy reaches down from a dangling ladder or something and tries to help you up. It's obvious he's a strong enough guy, and the ladder is more than sturdy enough to hold the both of you. But even though you can see him and be sort of close to him, and maybe even talk with him and get to know him a little, YOU CAN'T GET INTO THE HELICOPTER UNTIL YOU LET GO OF THE CLIFF. The guy can't save you if you're still holding onto the rocks.

Duh, right? But sometimes the most obvious things can become quite revelational when you look at them in new light.

Organization - cleaning the home

Hmm. This is something I've always admired and never been good at - keeping an area of space organized and clean. I was one of those kids that would go on a cleaning rampage and spend hours straightening up my room in one afternoon... and then neglect to keep up with the maintenance side of cleaning, so before too long it would look pretty much the same as it had before I cleaned.

But I would really, really like to be able to get my home clean and then keep it that way! Especially now that it has become my responsibility to demonstrate desirable disciplines (try saying that five times fast, ha!) and character traits to my children. I want them to grow up in a peaceful home, and at least for me personally, clutter and messiness equals stress, not peace. Actually, I think it's the thought that I'm not doing my best that leads to stress. I think I could be content with messiness if I needed to - and I'm going to have that tested here pretty soon, as we're moving in less than a month.

Actually, on that note, I'm going to be tested on it right away. Boxes are going to be everywhere, and things are slowly going to go from being "in their place" to being stacked up wherever they fit, ready to be loaded into a truck and hauled to our new home.

So we'll see how that goes. But a new home seems a great opportunity for a new start - a fresh try at organization from the beginning, starting with an empty home instead of having to re-organize something that's already set up.

With that in mind, I thought I'd jot down some ideas to keep me on track when we do move into our new place.

For one thing, I don't want to get overwhelmed. So I'm going to try and focus on one thing at a time, and not worry that it might take several weeks to get everything finished. I'd rather have it done right and take longer than get it done fast and then have to redo everything later.

For another thing, I want to remember my priorities. God is first in my life (or at least that's the way I want it to be - still working on that), so I don't want to get so distracted with setting up my new home that I forget that I'm doing it for his glory. I want to make a point of taking time to watch a few sermons at, and maybe go through a good Christian book on my breaks, reading just a few pages a day and really taking time to meditate on what I learn and let it sink in.

I also don't want to neglect my kids. It's tempting for me to just try to "get it done" when I start working on stuff like this (organizing the closet, for example), but I would rather let Kaira be involved and have a good time with it, even if the project takes longer or we have to do it in several small chunks. I don't want to approach this with a "just get through it" attitude - when I do that, I have this mindset that peace lies on the other end of whatever I'm trying to accomplish, but that leads to stress, and a kind of rushed feeling when I'm working, and I don't enjoy the work itself at all. We're supposed to throw our hearts into every task, doing it to glorify God - not rushing through it to get to the next thing.

Here's how I think I might divide the task of setting up our new home:

As we unload - make a place for downtime. Reading, using the computer, etc. Make a place for Kaira to play. Set up Indy's kennel somewhere.

Day 1 - Kitchen. Definitely a priority since I make almost all of our meals at home. Maybe we can plan to eat without cooking for the first day, to take away some of the stress of trying to get the kitchen cooking-ready. I'm thinking like fruit for breakfast and maybe go out to Chipotle for lunch. By dinnertime I think I should be able to cook something. Maybe I'll pack one box with all the essentials - a couple of plates and bowls, silverware, and a pot and pan, maybe a baking dish... and a couple of glasses and food storage containers. That way, in case something happens and I can't get the kitchen set up quick enough, we'll still be able to cook and eat. :)

Day 2 - Finish Kitchen

Day 3 - Bedroom - furniture, room layout

Day 4 - Bedroom closet - hang up clothes and get closet boxes unpacked

Day 5 - Bedroom closet - organize

Day 6 - Bedroom closet - organize

Day 7 - Living Room - furniture, room layout

Day 8 - Living Room - books

Day 9 - Living Room - movies

Day 10 - Living Room (or bedroom, maybe) - diapers (I'll have these in a pile somewhere until I get around to setting up a changing station)

Day 11 - Living Room - organize/details

Day 12 - Bedroom - organize/details

Day 13 - Dresser - organize

Day 14 - Nightstand - organize

Day 15 - Kids' dressers - organize

I'll probably let Kaira watch a little more TV than usual during these first couple of weeks (and the last few weeks over here before we move) - I've been trying to limit her TV-watching to one video every other day, but I'm going to try to make resting a priority so I don't exhaust myself during the move, and resting is generally easier when I know Kaira has something to keep her occupied. On the other hand, if she's content playing with toys or other items, maybe I'll be able to continue to limit the TV to once every other day. Who knows? I'm just not really going to worry about it either way until we're done with the move.

So, there's some semblance of a plan. We'll see how things turn out, I guess, huh?

Organization - meal planning!

All right. Time to knuckle down and get this thing done. Here goes an attempt at meal planning for next week. (For those of you who didn't read my earlier post on organization, this is NOT one of my strong points.)

Okay. So I think I'm going to try planning for two big meals every day plus snacks for lunch. And if we're hungrier, we can always have leftovers (assuming I make enough food).

I'm planning on going to the grocery store on Thursday, as that is Wes's day off this week. So this meal plan will go from Thursday evening to next Friday.

Thursday Dinner - Southwest dinner (fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans)
Friday Breakfast - Pancakes, fried eggs
Friday Dinner - Chicken broccoli rice
Saturday Breakfast - scrambled eggs
Saturday Dinner - Rice and beans
Monday Breakfast - Oatmeal and fruit
Monday Dinner - Fish and rice
Tuesday Breakfast - Eggs and biscuits
Tuesday Dinner - Steak and Fried Potatoes
Wednesday Breakfast - Muffins and fruit
Wednesday Dinner - Quesadillas and rice
Thursday Breakfast - Eggs and Hashbrowns
Thursday Dinner - Southwest dinner
Friday Breakfast - Oatmeal and fruit
Friday Dinner - Chicken broccoli rice

For lunch/snacks - plenty of bananas, pears, apples, and oranges. For Kaira, steamed broccoli. Extra eggs. And I'll make a pot of bean and vegetable soup that should last the week.

Desserts - I'll probably make at least one batch of Wes's favorite Epic Sugar Cookies, so I'll need to make sure I have enough coconut oil and evaporated cane juice. And I'll plan on a batch of chocolate ice cream, too, if I have enough milk left.

So. My grocery list is gonna look something like this:

Salt (almost out)
White Flour
Eggs (lots of eggs)
Evaporated Cane Juice
Coconut Oil
Dry Pinto Beans
Rolled Oats
Green Beans
Fruit (assorted, depending on prices)

There! That wasn't so bad. Now all I have to do is write this down on paper and I'm set for my Thursday shopping trip! My goal is to spend around $70, as I've already spent $20 on milk, eggs, and a sandwich at Subway... but if I don't quite make it, that'll be okay. Wes will get $10 to spend on lunches for when he's at work, and that brings us to $100 for the week for all our meals. (That's our goal - $400 a month on eating.)

Also a bit of random information to tack onto the end of this post - I'm looking into ideas for healthier lunches for Wes. I'd eventually like to learn to make a good sourdough sandwich bread, as the breads available in the stores are pretty bad for you - but in the meantime I'm thinking of trying tortilla wraps and other things. I'll keep you posted on what I figure out. For now, he just gets whatever he wants with his $10. But maybe soon I'll be able to fix healthy lunches for him to take with him.

UPDATE: We are now having beef brisket and vegetables for dinner on Thursday, as we will be hosting Lifegroup this week and that's what Wes wanted to cook. I have no idea how to make brisket - thankfully, Wes is going to be cooking the meal. I'm just making cookies.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Homemade Chocolate!

I am currently experimenting with making my own chocolate! I love chocolate - especially on those really emotional days when nothing seems to be going quite right. But since I'm trying to eat healthy, traditionally-prepared foods as much as possible, it seemed a good idea to try to learn how to make my own chocolate. So I started looking online for chocolate recipes using coconut oil and natural sweeteners.

I'm still in the experimenting process, but I'll update this post as soon as I have a successful recipe to share!


Okay, that didn't take long! And this recipe is sooooo easy! Equal amounts of cacao powder and melted (gently melted, not boiling) virgin coconut oil. Mix by hand. Add pure maple syrup to taste - it doesn't take much - and mix again. Refrigerate. Eat!

When I made it, it turned out sort of soft and fudgy - sooo delicious! If I'd left it in the fridge longer it might have hardened more like a chocolate bar - I don't know. I couldn't wait to try it, lol.

Next on the list - homemade milk chocolate!


Decided not to attempt milk chocolate, since I haven't been able to find a recipe (yet) that uses cocoa powder and real milk. (They mostly seem to call for cocoa butter and milk powder.)

Made the other recipe again and found out that yes, it does eventually harden completely in the fridge. :) But because the melting point of coconut oil is 76 degrees Fahrenheit, it melts again very quickly in your mouth and gives the chocolate a wonderful soft texture. Yum!

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Okay, time to write a little about how I intend to become more organized this year.

First, let me sort out the different areas I would like to become more organized. Then I think what I'll do is focus on one at a time until I've mastered it (or at least am doing well enough to satisfy myself for the time being).

Here they are, in random order:

1) Cleaning the home
2) Meal preparation
3) Morning stuff (diaper changes, getting everyone dressed, etc.)
4) Keeping myself looking (and smelling) nice
5) Clothing
6) Getting rid of extra stuff

Okay. So I'm gonna say that the most important thing here for me is going to be meal preparation. That frantic last-minute stuff when everyone's hungry and the fridge is empty just doesn't work well for me. Too stressful. So I think what I'm going to try for this is to be more persistent about preparing a meal list every week and making at least one or two meals ahead of time in case something unexpected happens and I don't have time to cook the meal I had planned to.

And grocery shopping, which kind of ties in here... I've been trying for the last month to do my grocery shopping only once every two weeks, but to be honest, it's just not working well for me. For one thing, I really enjoy going to the grocery store, so doing it a little more often is fun for me, not a hassle. (As long as I plan to do it when Wes can watch one of the kids.) For another thing, I'm not organized enough yet to be able to figure out exactly how much stuff I need to get to last us two weeks, and then I end up spending all my budgeted grocery money only to find out after one week has gone by that we're already out of something and I need to go back and re-stock on an item or two. So for now at least, I'm gonna go back to weekly.

Once I master this, I think the next thing I'm going to work on is a morning routine. Not one of those routines where everything has to happen just so or I'll go crazy. Just something to sort of help me get everyone going in the morning, you know? Like maybe having clothes already picked out for the girls, and possibly even getting up early to fix breakfast before Kaira and Rachel wake up. Maybe. We'll see.

As far as keeping myself looking and smelling good, lol, I really need to make a point of taking my showers/baths in the evening after the girls are asleep. It's WAY easier than trying to do it while they're awake, or hoping that they'll both nap at the same time so I can do it in the middle of the day - that's just too unpredictable. And maybe I can figure out a way to fix my hair that's both easy and attractive. Something that doesn't take more than a minute or two in the morning, and looks good all day.

Cleaning the home - I put stuff off, so I'm thinking of having like a weekly list. Certain days I'll vacuum, certain days I'll plan to do laundry, dust, etc. And I also want to try to do a better job of keeping drawers neat and stuff organized. But I tend to get overwhelmed trying to get everything done at once (I get motivated and then really want everything to be perfect, so I try to do it all), and then I get so burned out that I don't even care anymore and don't do anything at all. So I'm going to try for something closer to the middle of the road - organize one or two things a week, maybe. One drawer. One side of the closet. One bookshelf. Whatever. And then STOP when I'm done with that, and be content with it. Eventually it'll all get done, and I'll keep up with it so that I can maintain the orderliness all the time after that (hopefully).

Clothing - I'm going to try to simplify my wardrobe to one color scheme so that every top is compatible with every bottom.

And finally, getting rid of stuff. Maybe go through like one room at a time or something, and donate, sell, or throw away all the things that we don't use. Why keep it if you don't need it, right? I love simplicity - having only what you use. For me, having extra only adds stress and makes it harder to keep our home looking neat.

Okay. So there's my plan. We'll see what happens. I'll keep you posted.


So, uh, for this post I'm going to focus on one of the four things I chose to really try to improve this year - Focus. (No pun intended. I promise.)

I am super-frustrated in this area right now, so it seems a good time to blog about it. I just met a neighbor tonight. By the way, not something I'm good at. I'm friendly and considerate to pretty much everyone, and once a conversation has started, I'm pretty quick to open up and get deep; but I'm not a good initiator. Maybe I don't have to be. I don't know. Maybe it's good enough just to go with it when someone else initiates. For now anyway.

Moving on. So I met a neighbor, and we seemed to have a lot in common. She initiated a conversation and then invited me inside to see some of her pictures (she's a photographer), and next thing I knew I was giving her a large portion of my life story, nothing held back. And she shared with me just as openly, if not as much. (Not as much mostly because I kept talking and didn't give her much of a chance to share with me.)

And now I'm kind of disappointed in myself. I've really been trying hard to focus, especially since that revelation about choosing my activities so that I can be more "here and now" in each one. Why do my thoughts keep chasing rabbit trails and losing sight of the deer? Why can't I just focus on where I am and be there instead of mentally somewhere else? Why is this so FREAKING HARD for me??

I feel so bad for talking so much and not slowing down enough to really be there, and really listen to what she was saying. I honestly wanted to, but for some reason I was just pouring out so much stuff that I had trouble taking anything in.

So when I got home I typed "I can't focus" into my search engine and found this: (Sorry, I don't know why I can't get the links to work.)

It's meant for students, but the information is practical for just about anyone, I think. It certainly applied to me.

So, maybe I'm a little attention deficient? It's really hard for me to concentrate fully on any one thing. But it's something I definitely want to work on.

So I thought I would come up with a sort of study plan for my hoped-for mastering of this particular subject. Something that might help me take steps in the right direction. I know that God changes our hearts, so first and foremost I think I'm gonna have to start really praying about this. But, on the other hand, this is my mind, not my heart. So, does God change minds, too? Or is that our responsibility? Well, I think ultimately everything falls on God, so I'm definitely going to pray about this.

But my plan - first, I think I'm going to concentrate on mentally reminding myself to "be here now," like the article suggested. I think that kind of ties into the Bible verse about taking every thought captive... I'm thinking that if I can learn to be more aware of my thoughts, I'll be more likely to keep my mind from wandering.

Second, I'm going to try to be more conscious about choosing certain things to focus on - one or two at a time, and two only when it's necessary (example, I have something on the stove and need to leave the room to change a diaper or whatever). I'm going to try really hard not to get a bunch of things going at once.

Third, I'm going to try to set aside certain chunks of time to just think about stuff - important stuff - so I'll (hopefully) be less likely to try to think about it when I should be focusing on something else.

Fourth, I'm going to do only one housekeeping chore at a time. If I'm doing laundry, I'm not going to start cleaning the bathroom while the laundry is still going. If I don't have anything else to do, I'll use the waiting time to think about important stuff, blog, or here's a novel idea, just rest. That whole thing about "be still and know that I am God"? I'm not so good at that. But it's definitely something I'd like to be good at.

So. That seems like a good way to start. And I'll keep making lists to help me focus - that way I don't have to constantly keep thinking about what it was I was going to try to get done that day - I'll just have it written down so my mind will be free of at least one more thing.

I guess that's it for now. If I come up with some other practical ideas to help me work on this, I'll post them later. And I'll try to remember to post stuff about my progress, too. That'll help keep me more accountable as well as letting all of you see how it's going.

All right! Signing off for now.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


This is probably gonna be a fairly short entry - both the girls are napping but I have no idea how long that will last. :)

Okay. So last night at Lifegroup we talked about resolutions, and the things we'd like to change about ourselves in 2012. I was glad I had already done some thinking on that, but a little embarrassed that I could only remember 3 of the 4 areas I had chosen to focus on. (I forgot "Focus," haha.)

So I was in bed last night, just kind of thinking about those 4 things a little, and I felt God reveal something to me about the subject of focusing, and simplifying my life. It was one word. "Choose."

In order to be more focused on the things that you do, you sometimes have to simplify - to do fewer things so that you can be more fully involved in the things you're doing and not just rushing on to the next item on your list. But in order to do that, duh, we have to make choices. We have to say no to some things.

Before I went to bed last night I played a few rounds of Halo with Wes (my husband). In between rounds, I was carrying on two different Chat conversations on Facebook. And you know what? It was okay, but looking back I wish that I had just chosen one of those three things - Halo, or one of the two conversations - and really focused on it so that I could be "all there."

So today I am trying to be more aware of the choices I make. I've made a list (which is also helping me with one of the other things I'm working on - organization) of things I want to do today, and have tried to keep it simple and include only the things that are truly important to me.

Another thing I struggle with a lot of the time is choosing the right things at the wrong time. When Kaira and Rachel are both awake, that is almost always the WRONG time to write a new blog entry or work on my novel. I end up doing my writing in a semi-distracted state as I try to keep an eye on both my young daughters at the same time, and then I walk away from it feeling guilty for choosing writing over my kids, rather than feeling good about getting something important accomplished.

Don't get me wrong. Blogging and finishing my book are both very important to me. But not so important that they justify ignoring my girls when I could be spending quality time with them.

Now, blogging and writing can both wait. I can always skip either one - or both - for the day and pick up again tomorrow. There are other things, like preparing meals, that obviously cannot wait. Those more urgent things are the only things I want to be caught choosing over quality time with my kids or my husband. For everything else, I prefer to leave them for the spare bits of time (like right now) when I don't have to sacrifice something more important in order to work on them.

I do struggle with that a little. Ever get that feeling of "I just have to get that done"? Like, if one of the girls woke up right now, I'd probably try to finish this entry really fast instead of going straight upstairs and leaving the blog entry for later. I don't know why, I'm just kind of like that. I like things on my "list" to get finished. But slowly I think I'm learning to prioritize a little better, and I'm thankful that God has been working on my heart in this area, because to be honest, I have a lot more respect for myself when I put my children first and don't "sweat the small stuff," as they say.

Okay, wow. They're both still sleeping. Maybe I'll try and get a little work done on The Legend of Talis. Awesome.

But I have every intention of stopping as soon as my kids need me again. There. I said it. Now I'm accountable. :) This blogging thing is awesome.