Friday, December 28, 2012

A Game for Organizing with the Kids

First, call the kids so that they can watch you dump out all of the plastic containers and lids all over the kitchen floor  - for some reason it is really fun for kids to watch mom/caregiver making a mess......they will squeal with delight.

Next talk with the kiddos about matching - shapes, color, size. Have the children match lids to containers. Hey, may as well make it "educational". 

Place correct lids on the correct containers and make a tower. I encourage the kiddos to try to make a tower taller then me!

Leave containers on the kitchen floor ALL day for two reasons:
1. The kids can come back to play, building more towers throughout the day. This beats any fancy "learning station" found at a daycare/preschool center.
2. By the end of the day I had a grudge against all those containers that I had been stepping over which made it much easier for me to say good bye to my "abundance".

Background are the "lid holders"
Organizing "likes with likes" and stacking, or nesting, biggest to smallest (I know, this seems like an obvious statement but I've learned that this isn't obvious to everyone. :)  In the past I have used one big container which had lost it's lid eons ago, to house all the lids. Yesterday I decided to try two lid containers (until I changed my mind) one for squares/rectangles, the other for rounds.                 
I also decided to dedicate one shelf per shape squares/rectangles on top shelf, rounds on middle shelf, which also houses my mixing  (round) bowls and (round) colanders.  My thought is that family members, if they choose to follow this system, will no longer try to nest a big square into a small round which, by the way, doesn't work so well. 

When I began arranging the containers in the cupboard I decided that the squares/rectangles and their lids took less room if I stored a few with their lids on. The rest were made into a few groups which are stored with their lids. This will make lid finding a little easier - if I keep up with this system.

We'll see how it works. Sometimes I get these brilliant ideas only to find that it only works in theory but doesn't work for me (or my family). The key is to try new tactics until I find what works for me. My goal is to simplify my housework AND make my space more organized.

A Bowl Full of Lemons
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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wreath Making

 Supplies ~ straw wreath, pruning "snippers", pins and fresh greens.
 Once the greens are done it's time for some "embellishments". I prefer simple.

Merry Christmas!

The Chicken ChickHearth & Soul Hop

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Quiet Month of November

It's been quiet here in this room. This room that I've created to share bits of me. I look back over the last couple weeks and I've missed three Five Minute Fridays. Even as much as I love these writing exercises I just couldn't find the desire to write. I could list my excuses such as an online class I'm taking this month that includes reading and a weekly paper to write. I could blame my month of writing, those 31 days of blogging which I loved doing, however that commitment left my house and other necessary work in a bit of a shambles from 31 days of neglect.

I think my silence here goes a little deeper then being busy. During October, while writing each day, a voice silently whispered in the back of my head, "What's this all for?" When I started this blog my wish was to encourage others. To share the things in life that I was learning. To teach and inspire. Yet somehow along the way I lost my inspiration. I've been humbled as I search my heart. I've been wondering if the time I spend writing has become a selfish endeavor. Too many times in October I harshly said to my son, "Shh....not NOW, Isaiah! I'm writing!" In my defense you must know that this boy talks A LOT and if he isn't talking he is making noise of some sort. Regardless, it broke my heart when I realized how often I was shushing my dear boy.

So how do I balance family, work, friends AND find time to write? I don't know the answer to that but I'm willing to figure it out. I do know that I'm called to serve my family first so I'll start there. In between cherishing my family I will be wiggling in some writing time when I can.  I'm not quite ready to give up this little space in my world.

Two of the Friday prompt words that I missed? Quiet and Stay. Well I'll be doing both of those. :)

I'll be back.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Giving Thanks

Sunday blessings as I reflect on my weekend:

199. Date Night with my darling son. I'm not sure why he's looking so forlorn because he really was excited for Medieval Feast that we were attending. 

200. Our Saturday night routine is attending church followed by dinner at church.While hubs and I have dinner my son heads off to Student Ministry activities. After dinner, my husband and I have an hour to "kill" before Isaiah is done which usually involves grocery shopping. I enjoy my Saturday night date night with my husband even if it includes dinner with others and grocery shopping.  

201. Instead of grocery shopping last night, Barry and I wandered a few stores at a local strip mall. I ooh'd over pretties at Pier One, we scrounged the Dollar Store for great deals (we left empty handed), and joked about the "stylish" clothes at Savers (thrift store). 

202. Going to church on Saturday night allows me to sleep in on Sunday mornings. After a week of rising early, this time for extra sleep restores me and prepares me for the week ahead. 

203. Sunday mornings also involves having my morning coffee in my pajamas with my husband. This little routine makes me happy. 

204. Thankful for the time on weekends to connect with my family and thankful for the time for physical restoration.

Psalm 69:30

I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify him with thanksgiving.

Monday, November 12, 2012

This Week's Menu Plan

Monday (Boy Scouts) 
                Lunch: Brats, homemade fries (baked in bacon good!), banana
                Dinner: Pork Roast, potatoes, carrots in the crock pot.

Tuesday (Online class for me/Bible Study for my boys)
                Lunch: Leftover brats diced into homemade Macaroni and Cheese, peas, apples
                Dinner: Stuffed Shells with Marinara (homemade spaghetti from the freezer), salad, garlic bread

Wednesday (Church Night) ~ this night always seems more rushed so it's been designated as "Soup Night"
                Lunch: Leftover Stuffed Shells, corn and pears
                Dinner: Chicken and Rice Soup

                Lunch: Leftover soup and PB&J Sandwiches, apples
                Dinner: hmm..haven't decided yet. I'm thinking the Monday night's roast will either turn into stew or pork fried rice. 

Friday (Date night for Mama and The Boy)
              Lunch: PIZZA FRIDAY! Pizza, apples, carrots and salad.
              Dinner: Mama's night off ~ you are on your own. :) 

The Chicken ChickHearth & Soul Hop

Friday, November 2, 2012


It's Friday, a joyous day to sing praises after a long week of work and activities and a day in which I join a community of writers to spend five minutes writing without fear. No fear of errors. Perfect grammar, punctuation and spelling are not needed here. No fears of sharing my heart. This morning, after seeing Lisa-Jo's (our fabulous hostess) prompt word, I headed straight to to find the verse that would inspire and shape my words. 

The verse from Jeremiah, as well as my (borrowed) prayer at the end were not included in my five minutes but only used as "framing" for my five minute of words. 

Jeremiah 17:5-10

This is what the Lord says:
Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh
and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
 That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.
 But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lordwhose confidence is in him.
 They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?
I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.

May I be like that tree planted by the water. Roots running deep, drinking the water to nourish me and give me life. 

My roots need to be planted firmly in God's truth. I search His Word and find comfort. I find a God who loves me deeply. I find a Heavenly Father in whom I can lay all my hearts burdens and all my hearts desires at His feet and He hears me! 

I want a faith that drives away all worry. For he has proven, over and over and over again, His faithfulness. He has provided for my every need. He has given me strength when I was weak. 

He alone is my strength, my rock, my fortress, my Almighty, my redeemer.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for loving me just as I am.

My five minutes are up but I would like to end in this prayer, a prayer from Paul to the church in Ephesus, a prayer that I pray over you, dear reader.

"For this reason I kneel before the Father,  from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. 

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (Ephesians 3:14-31)

May you know Him and may you be filled with His abundant blessings!

Now head on over to Lisa-Jo's. I promise you will be uplifted and inspired.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Welcoming Rest

I am so thankful that I can give God my days. The hard days. The days when my chest aches from various burdens, burdens of the heart. It's often difficult to find gratitude in days such as these however I know, a deep down in my heart knowledge, that HE will bring me through the hard days to days when the sun will shine brightly. And those bright, sunshiny, happy days will seem all the more brighter because I have seen and lived through the gray, cloudy, hard days. Thank you, God, for the end of a hard day, for rest for this weary soul, and for a new day dawning in tomorrow.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Day 31 ~ Halloween Spiders

I have to give my cousin credit for this cute craft! I did make a few alterations to make our spiders a little easier for the preschoolers to assist me. She used a real pumpkin, I opted for foam pumpkins. She also used a hot glue gun which I don't like using around the little kiddos. 

Small pumpkins
Pipe cleaners (2 or 4 depending on length of spider legs)
"Heavy-duty" glue
Wiggly eyes

1. The kids painted the foam pumpkins with black acrylic paint.
2. Attach the eyes. I found some crafter's glue at Walmart and it worked!
3. Cut pipe cleaners in half and then fold in half.
4. Carve a small hole into the pumpkin to "stuff" in the spider legs (pipe cleaners).
5. Bend pipe cleaners to make legs.
The middle spiders had full length pipe cleaners folded in half but I ran out of "legs" so decided to try shorter legs, using half a pipe cleaner folded in half. The kids loved this craft! I love that these pumpkin spiders can be saved for next year.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day 30 ~ Be thankful in everything....even spilled milk

This morning my schedule was disrupted by a cup of spilled milk. One of my girlies didn't finish her milk at breakfast so I had put it in the refrigerator. Unfortunately, an hour later, I forgot about the milk and knocked it over. I started wiping it up when I realized that the milk had dripped through the cracks of each shelf, finally draining into the crisper. If ignored, the milk-soaked vegetables would become tomorrow's problem. I guess it was time to deep clean the refrigerator.

A couple of years ago I had read (or heard) a great piece of advice; bring your daily schedule to God and pray over it every morning. While praying, tell Him what you would like to accomplish, ask for His blessings and end with "YOUR will be done". It's important that we relinquish control, even control of our days, to the one who truly is in charge. Although I've valued this advice I haven't been very good at following it. I do try to daily ask God to guide my day and to help me be productive. I'm a procrastinator, not to mention that I'm easily distracted, so divine intervention is necessary.

So this morning, instead of crying over spilled milk, I happily dug into the refrigerator which was in need of a good cleaning. I threw away leftovers that had gotten lost in the back of the frig. I filled a small bucket of sadly forgotten fruits and vegetables for the chickens (it was their lucky day!). I filled the sink with hot, soap water and pulled out all the shelves. I scrubbed until it sparkled.

Today I'm thankful for spilled milk and shiny, clean refrigerators.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 29 ~ Hidden Treasures

The wrought iron fence around the graveyard beckoned me, calling me to walk through it's gardens, to pause and wonder about the lives of those buried there.

The atmosphere caused me to slow my tourist pace so that I may marvel in the beauty of the garden, the church and the monuments. With the reverence of a scared place while taking in the breathtaking architecture, and listening to breeze rustle the remaining leaves on the trees, I slowed down long enough to thank God for his many blessings. 

Just outside this fence, the sidewalks of Wall Street bustled, yet inside? Inside was a sanctuary. Quiet and peaceful. A simple fence, a garden of flowers and head stones muffled the sounds from the street.

This hidden treasure was stumbled upon as we walked from Battery Park, after touring Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, towards the 9/11 Memorial. Yes, we were taking a round-about way as we explored this area of NYC....or maybe we were lost. Regardless of circumstance we were well pleased with this find. My daughter and niece quickly went in opposite directions as they studied the tombstones. My mother and grandmother took in the beauty of this place on a bench which gave them an opportunity to rest. 
The Trinity Church Cemetery is located at 74 Trinity Place at Wall Street and Broadway. The non-denominational cemetery "opened" in 1697 although the oldest gravestone in NYC is that of Richard Churcher (1676-1681). The cemetery is the final resting place of many senators, congressmen and U.S. representatives.

In the above photo (on the left) is a monument of one of our founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton. 

The gravestone on in upper right belongs to Robert Todd and is
inscribed with "Here Lyes ye Body of Robert Todd Decd Sept ye 21st 1745 Aged 49 years Also the Body of Margaret His wife Deceased the 4th of April 1776"

As I searched this morning for more information on the Trinity Church, Churchyard and Cemetery, which seemed that not a lot of information was readily available...or at least in the depth that I was looking for, when I found Trinity Wall Street website. On the website I found a listing of audio slideshows. I found this one fascinating (and even found out that Trinity Church was featured in the movie "National Treasurers").

I am so glad that we strayed off course, adding another fabulous site to our day even though it was not on our itinerary. A wonderful reminder to always keep one's eyes open in order to see the hidden treasures, the blessings, that abundantly available for us to find. 


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Day 28 ~ At the Door

The Dairy, Central Park

Revelation 3:19-21

I rebuke and punish all whom I love. 
Be in earnest, then, and turn from your sins. 
Listen! I stand at the door and knock; if any hear my voice and open the door, I will come into their house and eat with them, and they will eat with me. 
To those who win the victory I will give the right to sit beside me on my throne, just as I have been victorious and now sit by my Father on his throne.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Day 27 ~ Italian Meatloaf in a (Freezer) Bag

Making meals ahead of time saves time, energy and stress as I discussed on Day 12. This is another meal that I prepared a few weeks ago when I made ten meals for the freezer. This recipe won my families approval so I can now share it with you! :)
In a freezer bag combine: 2 lbs of ground beef (or turkey if you wish), 1/4 cup oatmeal, 2 T. Wildtree* Hearty Spaghetti Blend, 2 T. Wildtree*Rancher Steak Rub, 2 eggs. Now here's the fun part. Squish it all up to distribute the herbs into the meat. Label the bag and store in the freezer. Easy. Gathering supplies (if already on hand) and assembling this meal takes less then 15 minutes. The hard part is remembering ahead of time to take the meatloaf out of the freezer to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. This is where sticky notes on the refrigerator come in handy. 
When ready to bake, form into a loaf and bake for 50-55 minutes. Add marinara sauce during last 10-15 minutes of baking. 

While baking the meatloaf prepare the "topping" (I did not use the marinara sauce recipe because I know my family and knew that they would prefer ketchup on top of our meatloaf. It's what we're accustomed to.)

Marinara Topping:
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 T. Wildtree Hearty Spaghetti Blend*
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Heat in sauce pan while meatloaf is baking. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add to the top of meatloaf and continue baking for 10-15 minutes.

I was going to accompany the meatloaf with beets and baked potatoes however my garden potatoes were on the small side so I diced potatoes and topped them with Wildtree* Roasted Garlic Grapeseed Oil and Wildtree* Rancher Steak Rub. I baked the potatoes for 30-45 minutes.

~ The seasoning was a bit "strong" and the Rancher Steak added a bit too much "salty". I don't use salt much when cooking and this is simply my own preference but next time I will cut back slightly on both seasonings. 

~Wildtree products could be substituted by similar brands that you use. If you are interested in Wildtree products you can check out the website HERE. If you are interested in ordering, please contact me.

Hearth & Soul Hop

Friday, October 26, 2012

Day 26 ~ Five Minute Friday ~ VOICE

Years ago, during the years of my rebellion, one of my favorite songs was "Silent All These Years" by Tori Amos. I wanted to be heard. Ironic that this was a time when I was most vocal. However at that time of my life I was better at making noise then sharing my inner voice. My deepest thoughts, dreams and desires. At that time of my life I was still searching for my voice. 

Often we feel silenced.

Interruptions come in forms of people thinking they can complete your sentences and when corrected they still don't hear that your thought, your voice, was not the same thought as their own. 

Silenced when one is more interested in their agenda then your thoughts.

Questions are asked but your answer is not heard.

Then there are the Half-listeners. Those who are obviously are listening in order to appear to be listening but all the while not really caring what you have to say.

Interruptions come in simple everyday demands. The children need more milk at dinner time. The baby needs her diaper changed. The bigger kids want to paint. or want to make brownies. or have boo boo's to kiss. 

Sometimes the daily demands don't give time for the searching and sharing of souls.

Yet, in the quiet, with fingers clicking on the keyboard, I sometimes find a glimmer of me. I hear my voice. 

"........cause sometimes, I said sometimes,
I hear my voice
I hear my voice
I hear my voice
And it's been here.......silent all these years
I've been here.........silent all these years."

Today I am sharing my voice with other fabulous writers as we take Lisa-Jo's challenge to write unedited, with out any over thinking for five minutes flat. I invite you to share you voice in the best blog party ever.
Click on the button below to read the voices of others or to share your own! 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Day 25 ~ All I Really Need

This morning as I pondered my topic for today, I looked at the word art from yesterday's post, "all you need is less", when I was struck with a thought. "No, all I need is Jesus!"

It doesn't matter if my house is neat and orderly. Jesus loves me anyway.

Although He would be pleased if I managed my money and my time better, I know that He still loves me.

It doesn't matter if I carry around a few extra pounds (or more). Jesus STILL loves me anyway.

My worth is not found in having it all together or in having the perfect home or in having the perfect family or , well, having a perfect anything! Among all the imperfections in my life, I only have one perfect "thing". Christ's love. Let me tell you, I'm feeling mighty blessed to be a recipient of that love. And I've done nothing to deserve this love yet He loves me. I am mighty blessed indeed!

Want proof that you are loved? 

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. 

Romans 5:8 but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

Ephesians 2:4-10 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved useven when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

And one of my favorites which I find extremely powerful ~

Romans 8:37-39 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,  nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Wow! That is a whole lot of love. A love that sacrificed so that we may live abundantly. So that we may have an everlasting life with our Heavenly Father. That is all I need. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Day 24 ~Less

The Nesting Place posted the above photo in her post today. I love its simplicity, that even the image speaks "less". It reminded me that at the beginning of the year I had declared 2012 as the Year of Less.  I think it is time for me to do a little reflection and evaluating.

Less stuff/clutter?  Well, I still have too much.
Less "body stuff" (that's a nice way of saying body fat)? Yep, too much of that too.

Less wasted time? Argh......I've found a few more favorite blogs that I like to keep up with. I'd like to argue that inspiring words from like minded women is like reading a "self-help" book. I'm improving me, right? Oh, I know I could do better at managing my time.

Less exhaustion? Oh, I'm still pretty tired but I'm learning not to feel guilty about my Sunday afternoon nap time. :)

Less stress? I think I've been successful in this only because 2012 has taught me to lean on my Savior. Giving over all my worries to Him and having faith that He has a plan for me (Jer. 29:11) has alleviated a whole load of stress.

Less debt? YES! Still working on becoming debt free and despite the 5 weeks of unexpected time off of work this summer, I'm still moving forward....and forward is good enough.

What I have gained more of during this year?

A deeper appreciation for life, for faith and for family. I'd say it's been a pretty good year.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day 23 ~ These are a few of my favorite things.......

Larabars and Naked Juice. Yummy and nutritious. When I moved into my daughter's hospital room this summer these, along with God's grace, helped energize and sustain me.

I think I've tried almost every flavor of Larabar. I'm not particularily fond of any of the chocolate flavors. I'm not sure why as I am a chocolate lover. I guess when I think of Larabars, I think of fruit and nuts......and that's what I want. Top three flavors: Pecan, Cashew and Carrot Cake.

Carrot Cake is my absolute favorite however it is difficult to find. I was so excited last week, to find that the grocery store I was shopping at not only had Larabars on sale but they also had my favorite flavor! Yep, I bought 'em all. Larabars aren't cheap but I like keeping a few on hand for afternoon "slumps" when the sugar cravings hit. MOST (read the labels as I've found a few different Larabar varieties that aren't completely sugar free) Larabars are simply made from fruits and nuts. I really need to learn how to make my own. Here is a recipe that I would like try.

My favorite flavors of Naked Smoothies are Green Machine and Blue Machine. Yum. Breakfast in a bottle. I usually make my own morning smoothies but if I'm away from home all day and needing a healthy "pick-me-up" this is what I turn to. Like the Larabars, Naked drinks are expensive, but I justified the steep cost because they are healthier then soda pop and I don't buy them very often. Of course homemade smoothies are healthier than Naked Smoothies but I haven't bought a blender that I can use in my car yet.