Apr 162016
 

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One of the trees in our front yard was surrounded with beautifully blooming tulips last week, similar to the ones pictured above.

Their beauty brightened my day, adding a much needed bright spot as I left to take George and Drake to school.  What a display of color! “I’m so glad I saved the bulbs when we reduced the size of our front flower bed a few years ago. It was time consuming work, but sooo worth it.” ….

By the afternoon my thoughts had turned to, “Rabbit stew anyone?”

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Dec 062012
 

Crystal from Serving Joyfully, Laura from Super Sweet Life, and Erin from Home With The Boys are were hosting a challenge/accountability group going through the ebook, 21 Days To A More Disciplined Life by Crystal Paine.  (Found here and here.)  This post follows my progress in joining their challenge.

Self-discipline Challenge

Yesterday I completed the step I had hoped to do 14 days ago – bulbs and plants were planted into the front flower bed.  I was going to take a picture, but decided a picture of a dark flower bed full of bulbs would not be all that exciting.  So, in the spring when all the flowers (hopefully) bloom I’ll take a picture to show you.

I am still waiting on wood chips to add.  Also the area that used to be in the flower bed, but no longer is, needs to be tilled and seeded.  Still, I am marking this project as completed.  Yes, there are two more steps.  Yet, they are not ones I can do right now, so I’m changing them to smaller goals rather than two final steps.

I really enjoyed doing this challenge.  So much so that I am already planning the next 21 day Mega Project for January.  It has nothing to do with gardening this time, so I’m not sure whether I’ll post about it or not.

If you haven’t had a chance to read Crystal’s book, I really would recommend it.  Even more so I would recommend doing the steps you suggests in her book.  Have you ever had the thought, “If only I had known this 3/5/10 years ago I would be in such a different place now.  I can’t believe how much time I have wasted!”  Well, that is how I felt after reading her book.  Instead of wallowing in self-pity I jumped right in and did something about it.  It feels so good to have that major goal accomplished.

As for the habit I was trying to create – setting out my clothes the night before, it has a hit and miss action.  I do it most nights, though sometimes I forget or fall asleep before doing it.  I am going to keep working on it, though, through the rest of the year.

Have you read Crystal’s book?  What were your thoughts before and after reading it?  Did you start a new habit?  How has it been going?

Dec 032012
 

Crystal from Serving Joyfully, Laura from Super Sweet Life, and Erin from Home With The Boys are were hosting a challenge/accountability group going through the ebook, 21 Days To A More Disciplined Life by Crystal Paine.  (Found here and here.)  This post follows my progress in joining their challenge.

Self-discipline Challenge 

This will be the last post in this series for a while, but for a good reason.  Today my utility bill came.  While looking through it I saw their 800 number and decided to just call them while opening the mail.  I’m sure the lady on the other side thought I was a bit off as I was nervous and really messed up what I had wanted to say.

Why was I nervous?  I have no clue as it was nothing major at all.

So, why did I call?   I called to ask for extra wood chips.  What a pleasant surprise to find out that they have a program you can sign up for, where if they are in your area and you want wood chips they will bring by a truck full.  You can request more, but I figured that would be enough for now.  So, every 30 days I will have to call back in to reregister for this, if I don’t get chips or if I want more.  She did tell me that their busiest time of year was the fall.  However, with it being winter, you never know when a snow or ice storm will come through and the crews will be busy.  I think I will hold off on calling other sources till after the new year.  If at that time I don’t have wood chips, I will call around to some more companies/sources.

Another item on my to-do list today was to plant bulbs in the bed.  If I get to that item it will be later this afternoon.  I did want to share something with all of you that I came across yesterday though.  I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want in the flower bed and have decided I want it as self sustaining as possible.  Having to go buy and plant flowers every spring, just for them to die every fall doesn’t sound fun to me.  I want this to be a perinnial bed, so lots of bulbs and plants that will come back every spring.  Some seed companies are having end of the season sales.  There are some good ones I’ve seen, though nothing that really caught my attention and made me skip my dessert.  Then I read this last night: Lowe’s may have their bulbs marked down to 75% off.

Have any of you been able to get bulbs for that price at Lowe’s?  How was the selection?  Do you perfer perrienials or are you do you not mind having to plant annuals every year?

Nov 282012
 

Crystal from Serving Joyfully, Laura from Super Sweet Life, and Erin from Home With The Boys are were hosting a challenge/accountability group going through the ebook, 21 Days To A More Disciplined Life by Crystal Paine.  (Found here and here.)  This post follows my progress in joining their challenge.

Self-discipline Challenge

Yes, I know it is past the 21 days, but I told you I would keep working on my Mega Project and show you how it is coming along.

This is what it looked like at the end of Monday:

Here is what took place on Tuesday:

two rows of rocks.  I still feel as if some tweeking needs to be done to make it look more even and sturdy.  Thankfully there are some rocks left over.

This was the transporation of choice for moving previously mulched and piled leaves from one place to their final destination.

All done.  Well sort of.  I should say, “border finished and first layer of planting medium put down.”  It would look a lot better without the brown square behind it.

To give you a better view of exactly how deep I made the leaves, look at it from this angle:

It is to the top of the rocks and a bit above.  Though it may seem like a lot now, I know from past experience that this will break down to almost nothing.

Next comes the compost, along with the wonderful worms who will help break this down.  First though, I think I’ll plant the bulbs and plants. Tomorrow is going to be a very busy morning.  We’ll see if the afternoon allows time for the  planting, or if that will have to wait till Thursday.

Nov 202012
 

Crystal from Serving Joyfully, Laura from Super Sweet Life, and Erin from Home With The Boys are hosting a challenge/accountability group going through the ebook, 21 Days To A More Disciplined Life by Crystal Paine.  (Found here and here.)  This post follows my progress in joining their challenge.

Self-discipline Challenge

My Mega Project, redoing the flower bed in my front yard, is actually coming along better than I thought.  I had meant to take a picture so that you could see what I did yesterday.  It didn’t happen obviously.  So, I’ll take a picture before I start working on it today so that you can see what got completed.  I just need the sun to come up so it isn’t a picture of black darkness.

{Update: here is the picture}

Initially I was going to lay down newspaper as a weed barrier, then top it with mulched leaves, compost and then wood chips.  My thoughts were to follow the methods shown in the Back to Eden video, as I knew they would work.  I had begun laying down the newspaper when this little voice showed up.  It reminded me of exactly how many weeds used to be there.

“Do you really want to risk it?  That is a lot of weeds to combat.  Grass is one thing, but weeds of the sort that were here …. shouldn’t you put down landscape fabric?  You have some in the house, you know.”

Fear won out. I went inside, grabbed the two rolls of fabric (one was new and one was partiall used) and layed it down.  Turns out I only needed to use the already opened one.  It was about two inches short after cutting it and laying down the second length.  This was a problem that was easily fixed as those two inches are going to be under rocks anyway.  Rocks, which had been removed from the old bed, were placed along the edges.  Where the seam of the two lengths of fabric overlapped I placed some wood from the old tree stump that is at one corner of the bed.   I made it around three sides with the first layer of stones before stopping to make lunch.  It had taken me about 30 minutes to get all that accomplished, after my conversation with the little voice, but seemed like I just bounded into the next stage.  I had hoped to make it out there during the afternoon to finish laying rocks, but that didn’t happen.

Today, my goal with this is to finish the rocks and begin adding the mulched leaves.  When I mulched them last week, I dumped them into a nearby bed, not spreading them out.  I knew that if I could only get to this point soon, it would be easy to relocate them.  If for some reason I didn’t make it to this point, I would only have to spread them out in that bed.  They would have gone there anyway, so it was really no extra work.

I still plan on placing compost on top of them, as well as wood chips once I find a source for them.

The part of the old bed, where I’m not putting the new one down, is still dirt and needs to be dealt with.  However, I realized that this part of the project was not my main point and I was not going to let it stop me from progressing.  I can work on getting the old roots out during the rest of winter, have it tilled in the spring, then rake it out and seed it with grass at that time.

I may decide to place some plants back in the ground before adding compost.  Either way, I want to get them planted again before putting woodchips down.  There are some lillies and columbine to be planted, as well as bulbs. The bulbs are what have me stumped and where I’m looking for a bit of input from my readers.

Should I plant the bulbs under the landscape fabric, cutting a hole where they will come up?  Or should I place them on top of the fabric, but under the leaves, compost, and wood chips?  These are tulip and hyacinth bulbs.

 Though I am not on schedule to have this done in the 21 days I originally hoped (that would mean by tomorrow), I am happy about the progress and the outcome.  There was a point in this process, around day 12, where I got really down about my ability to finish this.  At that point I almost called it quites and stopped.  So what kept me going?  I think it was the accountability.  Not with anyone in particular, but the fact that this is in my front yard and all my neighbors, the people driving down the street, and those who walk along our sidewalks every day are going to see if I don’t finish this.   Several have already commented about how it is great to see us working so hard on this project or that they are curious what we are going to do with the area.  I don’t want to be known as the “pretty house on XYZ street with the dirt patch in the front yard.”  Now I’m glad I continued on, even if it was because of imagined comments being made in every single car that drives by.

Tomorrow is the last day for the 21 Day to Self-Discipline Challenge.   I can’t believe it has only been 3 weeks since we started this. Even more, I cann’t believe it took me 4 years to get it started. Now I am looking around at all the other unfinished projects and wonder exactly how quickly they can be done.

How are you coming along with your project?  Did you make it or did you have some setbacks like I did?

Nov 192012
 

Crystal from Serving Joyfully, Laura from Super Sweet Life, and Erin from Home With The Boys are hosting a challenge/accountability group going through the ebook, 21 Days To A More Disciplined Life by Crystal Paine.  (Found here and here.)  This post follows my progress in joining their challenge.

Self-discipline Challenge

Practical Application

Just reading the article “The Secret of Success for Work-At-Home Moms” makes me want to do something ahead.  Well, something more than I already am.

A few days ago, we talked about not comparing ourselves to others.  One of the people that I find it easy to compare myself to is Crystal, the person whose book we are reading right now and who told us not to do just that.  Ironic isn’t it? Crystal seems to be able to balance everything.  However, she isn’t balancing the things I am, so technically she isn’t balancing everything.  She is handling the things she has either been given or chosen to do.  She is unique.

Another blog I have been reading regularly, and which has nothing to do with gardening, is Baker’s Dozen and Apollo XIV.  She runs a photography business, has 13 14 kids, home schools and is dealing currently with a lot of travel due to one of her kids needing medical attention at this time.

Both of these women are ones I greatly admire, even if I don’t know them in real life. Also, reading about the parts of their lives they choose to share has encouraged me to set higher goals for myself.  Not only are these women unique in who they are, I am willing to bet that neither sleeps in till 10 a.m. and then stays up till 2 a.m., spends 2 hours in front of the computer/television first thing when they get up, and then looks in the pantry to figure out what to make for lunch.  At least not on purpose, that is.

So, even if these women are not perfect in every way, I find myself thinking, “Well, if she can do that, surely I can handle what I have.  I need to get off here and focus on what I am supposed to be doing.”  Then I remember what I am already doing ahead of time or early.  These are things that I have not always done and that do not come naturally to me.  I have learned to do them and found them to make my day go easier.

  1. I lay out kids’ clothes the night before.
  2. I lay out my clothes the night before, those sometimes that just means grabbing something from the closet, along with a pair of socks, and tossing it on top of my jeans for the next day.
  3. I menu plan.  This may be a week ahead of time or a month at a time.  It really depends on life at that moment.
  4. I shop so that we always have at least one extra of a given item in the house.  This saves the “Oh, no! When did we run out?!?” from happening.
  5. I mark on my calendar to pay the water bill a week early.  Can you imagine why I started doing this?  Yeah, it took me being late twice to realize that writing it to do two days ahead was not far enough; there are other ways I want to spend my money.
  6. Order cards to be mailed.  This is one that can’t always be done, but if it can then I do it.  Some online card stores allow you to order a card to then be shipped at a future date.  For example, one birthday card this year was ordered pre-addressed and pre-stamped to be mailed out a whole month ahead of time.  The shipping date was set such that the receiver got it right at their birthday time.  They didn’t know I did it the month before.  If I already have a card, then I write it, address it, stamp it and seal it up.  I write on the calendar when it needs to be mailed, then put it in a certain place.
  7. Make my bed as soon as I get up.  It really does make the room feel bigger and half way picked up. (It is a large visual in the bedroom after all.)
  8. Get breakfast started or prepped the night before.  This is not always possible to do, but does make the morning go easier.
  9. Crock pot meals.  Need I say more?
  10. Scheduling, writing or outlining posts before they need to be published.  Want an example of when I didn’t do this?  Check back for those missing days in this series.  Even having the basic outline saved (the few lines and image at the top, along with the title and theme for the day) makes the post writing seem to go so much faster.

There are probably more things, but these are the ones that come to mind right now.  There are still things that I can do better at getting done early, but I am not going to stress over the long list.  Instead, I am going to focus on the items I have chosen to make a habit.  When they are ingrained, then I will review my “list” and choose another area to grow in.

Mega Project

I have been working on this a bit longer each day.  Actually, a lot longer.  This project was a large one and it didn’t help that I didn’t work on it several days last week.  What I am not doing though is giving up.  I am going to keep working at it this week and do as much as I can before the Thanksgiving holiday.  Then next week, I will work on it again as much as I can.  This isn’t exactly a project I can hide in a closet or behind a fenced yard.  It really is out there for everyone to see.  I have decided that if I am having trouble finding wood chips or someone to till up the area, I will continue on with what I can do.  I can layout the boundaries, add a weed barrier layer, mulched leaves and compost.  Then I can get the other nearby landscaping beds ready for the time when I do find wood chips available.  The nearby areas are not nearly as large or labor intensive.  They only need edging put up.

That is my plan right now.  I feel as if I went from “Oh woe is me” to “hear my roar”.  I love having a plan.

How is your project coming along?  Have any hiccups along the way?  Are you on target to get it finished in 21 days?  What is your plan if you don’t meet that date?

Nov 162012
 

Crystal from Serving Joyfully, Laura from Super Sweet Life, and Erin from Home With The Boys are hosting a challenge/accountability group going through the ebook, 21 Days To A More Disciplined Life by Crystal Paine.  (Found here and here.)  This post follows my progress in joining their challenge.

Self-discipline Challenge

I know it has been a while since I updated my efforts in this series.  My posts on this series went from Day 11 to Day 15, with nothing in between.  I promise I didn’t forget about this series or give up on it. Life has gotten a bit odd lately and my normal blog time was claimed by something else.

Last time I posted about this we were supposed to find an accountability partner … I haven’t.  Actually, I forgot to ask the person.  Not exactly a great start to that step.  So, what have I done?  Not a lot, but some has gotten done.  I made a call about having someone till the former flower bed, mulched some leaves to later add to the new flower bed, and marked off three corners I think I want for the future flower bed.

Today I was feeling a bit down, okay a lot down, about this so I chose to use something Crystal talked about at the beginning of her book.  I chose to do something that has been on my to-do list and which could be done within 24 hours.  I needed a quick accomplishment, a completion of a goal – adding weather stripping to two doors to decrease the air leaks.

The first door, an attic door, is the source of a major draft in our house.  I usually control the air difference by hanging a curtain at the bottom of our steps to the second floor, and then closing the door to the second floor.  Not the best idea, but it has been the easy solution.  This year I was not looking forward to doing the standard solution.

The second door is one off my kitchen.  The gaps around the edges are so great that they created an area of several degree difference.   Today, I woke up and decided that today was the day to actually fix the issue.  I needed a quick project to get me back on track and this was going to be “it”.

Two trips to the hardware store – the first to buy what I needed, the second to return something and order what I really wanted – and about an hour of time (I had little helpers) and both were finished.  Well, as much as they could be.  I had to order some items the store was out of so the last couple of minutes will be completed next week.  Still I love the fact that the draft is gone and the other will soon also be done away with.

Practical Application

Today, Crystal talked about the fact that you can not say “yes” to everything.  Sometimes you have to say “no” to something so you can say “yes” to something more important to you.

Practical Application #1 Evaluate all the activities in your life right now.  What is one you can get rid of to better focus on what is important to you in the long term?

Practical Application #2 Create guidelines for yourself and share them with your accountability partner.

Mega Project

I don’t have any further pictures to show you today.  Though I am still working on this, I have slowed down considerably.  Perhaps it is knowing that the hard part is over.  Perhaps it is the fact that I need to do some calling around to find what I am looking for before moving forward.  I think I may have to reevaluate part of what I assumed for this project.  Things like having assumed I would be able to easily find a source for free wood chips.

How is your project coming?  With 6 days left till day 21 are there any obstacles you are running into?  What are you doing to overcome them?  Are there things you are having to say “no” to in order to say “yes” to more important things?

Nov 112012
 

Crystal from Serving Joyfully, Laura from Super Sweet Life, and Erin from Home With The Boys are hosting a challenge/accountability group going through the ebook, 21 Days To A More Disciplined Life by Crystal Paine.  (Found here and here.)  This post is follows my progress in joining their challenge.

Self-discipline Challenge

Practical Application

Today is very timely, as I have been feeling the need for cheerleaders.  It seems like I have been working on this project forever and will never get done.  No true of course, but that is how it feels.  The posted notes around the house have helped as my family asks, “Why are those there?  What do they say?”  I don’t want this to be another thing I started, but didn’t finish.  So often, it is that motivation that has made me get back outside and finish what I started.

Yesterday I saw an acquaintance who mentioned having seen me out working.  “You have been working so hard.  It looks good.”  That alone was all I needed to hear that day.  It seemed to make all the effort worth it.  Amazing what a small kind word will do.

Application  #1: Find cheerleaders, either in real life or online.

Mega Project

Today is going to be a day of few words as the pictures will do all the talking.

End of Day 9:

End of Day 10:

Yippee!! All the dirt is gone, even the boxes and bags of it that you an see in the edge of the picture above.  Car is vacuumed (to say it needed it would be an understatement, there was dirt everywhere inside) and washed. The last part made my husband happy as he did not want to drive a dirty car to church.  He even said we would drive his  That may not seem like a big deal except that we never take his as a family if we go somewhere, unless it is snowing. My car is older, and a bit larger, so we put the miles on mine.

 

Nov 082012
 

Crystal from Serving Joyfully, Laura from Super Sweet Life, and Erin from Home With The Boys are hosting a challenge/accountability group going through the ebook, 21 Days To A More Disciplined Life by Crystal Paine.  (Found here and here.)  This post is follows my progress in joining their challenge.

Self-discipline Challenge

Practical Application

Application: Write down your goals and tape them in a spot you will see often throughout the day. Tape them in more than one location.

Mega Project

Comparing pictures yesterday really helped me see that I am actually making progress.  I went from feeling as if I have done  nothing to feeling like this might actually get completed.  Now to keep up the momentum.  Today’s Mega Project segment in the book seems to be exactly along these lines. Crystal encourages us to “make a sticky note that says “I have finished my Mega Project segment for the day.”” This falls in line what she talked about a few days before, wording things in a more positive way.  By writing that you have already finished the goal you are making it seem like an actual possibility.  She then says to post this in several places.  In a way you are brainwashing yourself; infusing your thinking to accept that you can do this.

Today I have another 1/4 of the flower bed to remove.  In light of the paragraph above it should probably be worded, “I have finished another 1/4 of the flower bed.”  Even better, “I have finished another 1/4 of the flower bed and have hauled the dirt away.”  I’m just hoping it doesn’t rain today.

How would you reword your goal for today?  Where did you decide to post them?

Nov 072012
 

Crystal from Serving Joyfully, Laura from Super Sweet Life, and Erin from Home With The Boys are hosting a challenge/accountability group going through the ebook, 21 Days To A More Disciplined Life by Crystal Paine.  (Found here and here.)  This post is follows my progress in joining their challenge.

Self-discipline Challenge

 

Practical Application

Assignment #1: When negative thought patterns arise, how do you squelch them?  How will you replace them with positive thoughts? Aye, what a question!  I have trouble with this very area, squelching negative thoughts.  It is more that I second guess myself a lot.  A lot of the negative thinking that goes on in my head is usually about something I did or didn’t do.  Replacing them with positive thoughts has been a hard one over the years.  Sometimes a scripture I have memorized helps, or something I’ve read lately, or listing off all the positive things (in relations to whatever area is involved) have taken place helps.  I find that often negative thoughts are in the here and now, dealing with short-sighted things.  They also tend to creep in when I am not busy doing something.  Keeping my hand and mind busy is usually a good way to not have time for such thinking.

Assignment #2: Watch “Just Do It speech

Mega Project – Front Flower Bed

I made a lot more progress today.  Yesterday, Day 6, wasn’t started till the afternoon and was cut short.  I actually started to do my dirt removal for the day while it was still sprinkling and stopped within about 15 minutes because it was just way too cold to be out there while getting wet. That meant I was further behind today.  Instead of wallowing in self-pitty (I’m NEVER going to get this done) I decided to set a challenge for myself.  Not only was I going to finish yesterday’s section, but also todays.  The house was picked up, the dishes were done, lunch was pretty simple … I could do it.

As of the time of posting this, this is how far I’ve gotten (I placed items at the former four corners of the bed so you can get a feel for the progress; leaves and a lack of border were making it hard to distiquish the former edge and size):

The only section left to finish today is the square upon which the shovel is laying.  The closest edge of that square was supposed to be how far I got yesterday.  It didn’t happen.  I did finish yesterday’s section before beginning on today.

To give you an idea of how much is taken out, here is a picture of my yard just to your right of the picture above:

You can see that I took the idea of using trashbags to the fullest.  Each one is filled to the breaking point with dirt, weeds and other debris from the flower bed area.  Actually, some are beyond the breaking point and have already ripped or can only be picked up if you also hold it from underneath.  This is NOT the most eco-friendly way to remove dirt, but it was the only option I had if I didn’t want to make a thousand trips to the yard waste disposal site.  (And in case you are wondering what they do there, they make compost.  They burn some of that large wood the city has removed and pile that up with yard waste citizens have brought in.  The compost is free to anyone who wants to use it.)  My hope was to use each bag more than once, to help out my feeling of guilt.

And just for self-motivation here is a picture of the flower bed before I started and a picture of the progress so far today (yes, I know, the ones I posted above):

 That was a great example of the answer to Assignment #1 above.  Earlier I was feeling as if I had been doing this forever and was making no progress.  I knew that wasn’t true and that just seeing a picture of the two side by side (or one after the other) would dispell that thinking.  And did it ever.  I can’t believe the change.

One more good thing happened today and is probably the main reason I still have that small section to work on.  I started finding flower bulbs!  Instead of having only 3 I now have a whole gallon pot worth.  One of my fears, which as kept me from doing this earlier, has now been dispelled: not all of the flower bulbs will be lost in this endeaver.

Have you been hearing those negative thoughts while working on your project or while trying to keep a new habit?  What have you done to change them?