Sep 162015

birds eye view of garden june 2015(This post was started in June)

Saying “no” is not easy.  We grow so accustomed to our lives that it feels like there are things we just can not live without, or rather things that would not function if we were not involved.  We can not imagine not doing XYZ, because we have always done it.  Saying “no” means stepping back and taking an honest look at life, yourself and the assumptions you have made.

Things are better now than they were this past Fall/Winter, but they are still tough.  I can feel the stress start to creep in, the feeling of things being on the verge of crumbling in one big mess.  I take a deep breath and remember to just do the next thing, not to try to fix or do everything right now.

I told my MOPS group that I could not volunteer again for the upcoming year.  I loved helping in this group, but knew that my home, my kids, and my true calling came first.  Also, I was much better at getting to know new moms one-on-one, rather than as a leader.  I volunteered on the Steering Committee because I knew that I could do the job, not because it was really where I shine.  It was time for someone else to have the opportunity to step up.

I had to tell Olaf’s parents that I could not continue to watch him over the summer.  This was a bit easier, as they had more options with school being out to find other arrangements.  He still comes over some, but not several times a week.  We’ll see what the new school year brings, but I think I am going to have to continue to say “no” to this one.  With Jack being home school and beginning 1st grade, I am looking to set more of a routine than I did last semester.  Watching another kid for several morning a week really sort of limits what we can do.  This was one “no” that made me really sad, as I was doing it because I knew it was helping out a friend, not because of the money.  Jack and Olaf also get along really well and I know they miss seeing each other.

Unlike the past 8 years, I started no garden plants at home. Zilch. I was trying to keep the house above freezing.  Getting the basement picked up enough to start plants was not exactly high on the list.  I gave myself grace to buy plants this year.  You know what?  I still somehow ended up with:

  • over 10 tomato plants
  • 26 pepper plants
  • 80 onion sets
  • tons of radishes
  • 3 cabbage plants (though I don’t think they will do anything)
  • Zinnias and marigolds
  • several handfuls of green bean plants
  • a zucchini plant
  • 3 unknown vine-ing plants
  • 4 or 5 cucumbers
  • and berry bushes/plants of various varieties.

I will say that I think it worked out okay this year.

school year 2015 2016 collage

Fast forward 3 months and I am in a slightly better place.  There are still a lot of things I have stopped doing, for now, but have picked back up a few.  I am also weighing whether I want to begin doing some things again in a few months when life calms down even more, hopefully.

As it turns out, Olaf does come two half days a week.  He goes to preschool in the mornings, so Jack and I are able to get his school work done before Olaf comes.  Usually.  Sometimes we are finishing as they are walking in the door.

The house remodel/work is nearing completion.  Not fully there, but oh so close.  My husband is finally able to see what I saw in my mind when we started this adventure.  The finishing touches on the drywall should be completed next week.  Then painting, finishing electrical work and install light fixtures, install a small HVAC system for the  new room, flooring, and finally trim and doors.  Yes, I know it is still not an extremely short list, but it is all quick stuff and some can be done simultaneously.

I have continued to say “no” to the produce stand.  A few people have asked me if I was planning to do it, to which I reply, “I have thought it was time to begin it several times lately, but was reminded that it was not time just yet.”  I was doing yard work outside today when someone stopped by looking for a particular item.  I did not have what she was looking for but told her I would see if I could find someone who did.  Seems roma tomatoes were not very popular to plant with gardeners in our are this year.  In talking with her, though, I mentioned I had hot peppers (that were planted to have something in that spot besides weeds) if she wanted them.  I would give them to her just so they could be used and not wasted.  And that, Dear Readers, is the extent of me ‘selling’ produce.

I also have not canned up any items.  There have been several bags of tomato soup added to the freezer, but nothing canned.  Thanks to previous years’ efforts I am still well stocked on most items and should be able to make it through to the next canning year.  I did relent and purchase commercially made spaghetti sauce.  I think pizza sauce will be the next thing I run out of and have to go buy.

There are more areas in life which have been affected by this attitude, the feeling that I have more say in my life.  It is a nice feeling to have when the expectations of others begin to feel more important than what you know is best for your family.  It is a nice feeling to have, to be able to clear things off your plate so you have room to enjoy the what is left.

nature center lounge

When my blog took an unexpected vacation, thanks to an error in a line of code, I was left examining the roll blogging plays in my life.  I felt a loss of the memories I have shared on here these past few years, ones that I have not journaled about.  This blog was begun at a point when taking time to hand write daily events seemed too overwhelming. It also provided a mental break for me, challenging me to keep growing while also being able to share a love of mine.  Was I ready to give it up at the drop of a hat?  Should I give it up?  Why not?  What if I did?  What creative outlet could I use instead, which would be realistic at this time?

These are questions I ask myself from time to time, but never faced with such a high likelihood of it actually happening.  This time, the questions felt very real, not just something out of the air to think through and debate.  I would rather have been thinking through which library books to get for Jack, new methods to help George get the next math step, or any other of the many decisions I could have been doing at that point.  These questions, however uncomfortable I felt thinking through them, had to be examined.  I was not willing to just keep going because that is what I have been doing for the past few years.

The thankfulness and relief I felt when the customer service representative told me the code had been fixed and that all should be back to the way it was, answered for me all the questions I had been asking myself.  It was a much different feeling from the relief I felt when I realized I would not have to be staying up for a few hours several evenings one week canning spaghetti sauce.

As I continue through the next few months, finishing up the work on the house, settling in to a home school routine, and going through daily life I am going to continue evaluating things as they come up.  It is so easy to let little things get added to your plate.  Before you know it, you have no room for the things you really want.

Jun 052015

highest aspirations quote louisa may alcott

Our days do not have a steady pattern to them.  It is more of a loose fitting routine that this Mama would like to be more structured and dependable.  However, we are imperfect humans who have to live life together.  Sometimes life gets in the way.  Other times we get in the way.  We do our best to reach the end of the day ahead of where we first began.  Sometimes it happens beautifully.  Other times, well, it would have been best to just stay in bed.

A (new) friend of mine recently mentioned that it seemed as if I had it all together.  Once I was done laughing, I assured her I did not and shared a bit of our not so perfect days.

This made me wonder how our life comes across here, in Internet Land.  I can post pretty pictures, descriptions of our latest craft or outing, complete menu plans and large plans for the garden.  I could share all the niceties and leave out all the ‘ugly’, but that would be dishonest.  No one’s life is like that.

So, if you are feeling like a failure, like everyone else has it together, I hope you can take some encouragement from this – no one has it all together, everyone has their struggles.

Or, maybe you are having a great day and just need a laugh.  Go for it.  Looking bad I would love to laugh at all the mistakes I made these past few days.  Give me a few weeks and I just may.


If you were a fly on the wall in our house Tuesday, here is what you would have seen.

5:30 a.m. – my alarm went off.

5:50 a.m. – I finally gout of of bed, got dressed and headed outside to do some yard work.

6:30 a.m. – I came back into the house, found George awake standing in the kitchen (probably wondering why I was not there making breakfast.)  I sent him back to his room to get dressed and make his bed.

6:40 a.m. – George came back, ready to help make muffins for breakfast.  Jack appeared in the kitchen, having just woken up.  When he heard what we were doing, and that he could also help, he headed to his room on his own to get dressed.

7:00 a.m. – The dishes from the night before had been put away, the muffin batter was made and resting.  Each boy got a banana and we headed to get started on our Summer Bridge workbooks.

7:30 a.m. – Workbooks are done.  The boys take a few minutes break while I print off some worksheets for our new math book.

7:40 a.m. – I then introduced our new math book, one that is more inline with Charlotte Mason’s living book philosophy.  It was a hit and the boys had fun doing the new worksheets. (It included a hunt through the house for numbers!)

8:40 a.m. – The kids played in the garage while I finished up drinks for breakfast, then we will sit down to eat.

10:00 a.m. – We finished breakfast, watched YouTube video, brushed teeth and headed outside.  (There was a bit of discipline training that took place, but it was corrected in about 10 minutes, rather than 2 hours.)

10:15 a.m. – Thinking ahead to the afternoon, I invited a mom and her son to join us in playing at the park in the afternoon. Turns out they were able to join us for the morning, too.

12:10 p.m. – Lunch time.

1:00 p.m. – Quiet time, even with a friend visiting. Every boy got some books and found a spot to sit/lay, while the dishes were cleaned.

2:00 p.m. – Paid bill that was due yesterday. 🙁  This is something I almost never do, so I was upset with myself when I realized I had missed the “Due by” date.

2:15 p.m. – We all headed to the park with bikes and scooters.

3:40 p.m. – We left the park to walk home, then drove our friends to their house.  It is quite a walk and her son was tired, but don’t tell him that.  🙂

4:10 p.m. – I turned a movie on for very tired kids. Talked with husband and cleaned up a few things.

5:00 p.m. – I begin cooking supper.

5:40 p.m. – Received a phone call to schedule appointment, so supper was delayed a few more minutes.

5:44 p.m. – Supper is served. This took a bit longer to make, due to being a newer recipe.

6:10 p.m. – The boys and I began their bed time routines – brush teeth, put on PJs, turn on classical music.

6:20 – 7:10 pm. – The boys head to bed at their appointed times.  Dad goes in to talk with the first one to head to bed, then spends time with the remaining one.

7:15 p.m. – I contemplate more yard work, but choose to sit by my husband and watch a movie for a few more minutes.

8:00 p.m. – With the sun still up, one part of summer I like, I head outside to get a bit more yard work finished before tomorrow.  I am hoping to have some wood chips then and want to be ready in case it turns out that way.

9:00 p.m. – Pick up the yard and head inside.  I clean up, warm up a cup of coffee from earlier (decaf, no worries) and sit down to finish watching a movie with my husband.

9:30 p.m. – bed time, expect I fell asleep on the couch.  🙂  It was a long day.

The shade garden in the front yard it coming together one slow step at a time.  I have a goal in mind that I am working towards and know I will get there, one evening at a time.

homeschool planner collage

After such a good day on Tuesday, I was sure we were getting into the groove of things and so had high hopes for Wednesday.  🙂  Yeah, it didn’t turn out so well.  I’ll give you a feel for the the day went and leave it at that.

The boys both decided they needed a restroom break at 3:30 a.m., then proceeded to talk together, getting louder and louder.  I separated them, putting one into our room

At 6:00 a.m. they both decided they were no longer tired and wanted to get up.  I felt as if I had not slept all night and told them both to go back to bed.  Whining and loud opposition ensued.

They did not want to get dressed, I was cranky, ignoring of house rules seemed to be the theme of the day, and I just did not have the energy to deal with it.  “Don’t they realize I’m exhausted?  Why can’t they have a little compassion and play quietly?”

I lost my calm temper endless patience and separated them into different rooms … they stood in the doorway of said rooms and played, yelling at each other so they could hear (because that is what you do when you are two feet away from each other).  I was determined (stubborn) to not reward the behavior with t.v. so it did not get turned on.  (That was mistake #50 of the day.)

No school work was accomplished, no beds were made, no crafts were done, very little housework was achieved, and over all it was a failure of a day.

Oh, and in case that does not give you an idea, there was also several bathroom issues, which is something we deal daily with one child, but which gets worse in high stress/andziety situations.  This time, both kids had at least three changes of clothes that day.

Quiet time turned into nap time.  “Oh, they are tired too!  Why didn’t they say something?”  Let me answer that one for you, “because sleep is another (of the many) struggle and they rarely say they are ready for a nap/bedtime.  You should have known instinctively.”

If you are one of those people whose kids basically behave, you probably read the above and wonder what is wrong with my kids.  I would have B.C. (before kids).  I would have judged, all be it quietly, and wondered what kind of parent this person was, “don’t they know how to control their kids?”

In talking with a friend of mine, she admitted that she was exactly that kind of person with her first several, quiet, compliant, fairly easy going kids.  Then she adopted a high energy, sweet, “why sit still when you can run?”, “I’ll obey as long as I agree with it, then apologize as honestly as my little toddler heart allows when I get into trouble, but do it again 10 seconds later” kid.  I love Olaf.  🙂  My friend admitted that it showed her how the Other Side looks and she no longer judges … usually.

We all went to bed that night, wondering “WHY?!?!?” and hoping the next day was not this way.

white oak tree collage

white oak tree

When I woke up on Thursday, it was to a boy coming into my bed at 5 a.m. and not going back to sleep, just doing circles and almost pushing me off the bed.  Looking back, after having a bit of sleep, I should have just gotten up with him, but again I was stubborn, “He WILL go back to sleep.”  Will I ever learn?

Once I did get up, it was a conscious decision that this day would be different, that I would  nip some things in the bud and change my attitude.  So, when I heard the kids running through the house yelling, before I was even out of bed, I sent one back to bed, because:

“If you can not handle being awake, then you need to go back to bed.”  (He was chasing his brother around with a marker, marking up his brother’s legs.)

The other, less offending kid, was told to sit on the couch with a book till I came back.  Then I got dressed, made my bed, and started breakfast.  The less offending kid was made a nicer breakfast by my husband and enjoyed some breakfast time with him.  The Back To Bed kid had a shake with me, though he did come out of his room dressed without me telling him.  I’m pretty sure that was in an effort to get out of the consequence.

The day got moving and I decided to give them an incentive for school work, “If you get done by 9:30, we can go to a yard sale and you can bring some money ($1) to spend.”  We were done at 9:33, but I showed grace.  It only took that long because George decided to do 3 math lessons rather than 1 math lesson and 1 phonics lesson, both of which are done independently.  Glad he got into the math, but I was wondering what was taking him so long and was questioning if having him do a whole lesson was too much.  Seems not.  🙂

Since things were going so well, I texted a friend, inviting her and her kid to join us.  Turns out they were having a day like my Wednesday.  Nothing like a change of scenery, friends and some fresh air to change things, so she agreed.

My kids did not know I had invited our friends over, so it was a complete surprise at the end of the lessons for me to open the front door and invite our friends (who were waiting on the porch) to come in.  We went to a garage sale, looked for a few more in the town over, watched a cartoon/visited, ate lunch and headed to the park.  All the kids cried when they learned they had to say goodbye.  Turns out they were tired from playing, and it was only 3:30 in the afternoon!  This time, I knew better and agreed to some not too bad t.v.  (They learned some new fact from it, so it was not all fluff.)

Jack went to sleep with minimal effort and George followed close behind.  They have both slept through the night.  I however, woke up at 3:30 and couldn’t fall back sleep.  🙂

yellow  purple iris

Moral of the story: You are in control of how you decide to view the day; it will affect how your day goes.  At times, you need to tell yourself to act as if you have energy in order to have energy.  It is okay to use all the tools in your tool box, at times including the t.v./other “bad parenting” one.

So, today, what kind of day are you going to have?  Not how has your day gone so far, but how are you going to choose to view your day?  Personally, I am aiming for a productive day.  After all, I got out of bed at 4 a.m. so there should be plenty of time to do things today.  🙂

May 272014

Garden Update 2014

Last week this was the plan for the week:

Still left to do:

Seed and fertilize grass – when you don’t remove the piles of leaves you gathered quickly enough, you end up with very large areas void of grass the next Spring

Plant spinach

Plant cucumbers and zucchini

Create plan for the rest of the large raised bed

This Week’s Gardening Goals:

Finish re-potting vegetable plants

Remove grass from driveway

Seed and fertilize yard

Plant spinach, cucumbers and/or zucchini

Weed beds along front walk

Spread wood chips in front walk beds

Then a bad storm came through and and that all changed.

hail damage collage

The goal at that point was to save all the garden transplants I had on the back deck when the storm came through.  Instead of having 50 tomato plants to plant and give away, I now have less than 10.  The 15 or so parsley plants were completely ruined.  I saved the plants in this container by placing the kids’ card table over them, or else they too would have been a complete loss.  As it was, one of the two basil plants didn’t make it, nor half of the parsley planted here.  The marigolds, though, are looking great and ready to start blooming.  (This is a picture from a few weeks ago.)

raised container garden 5 13 14

Instead of seeding grass, the kids and I spent two days raking leaves and picking up sticks.  It felt more like fall than mid-Spring.

At the beginning of the week I was feeling like a horrible gardening.  The week before last we had several days of rain.  At first I saw it as a blessing and put the transplants out to get a good soaking rain on them.  Turns out it was too much rain and they were beginning to look bad.  So I put them out in the sun to dry off.  Yeah, wrong idea.  It stressed them even more.  So back into the shade they went, to grow some new leaves.  The majority of them were beginning to do just that when the storm came along.  By the time I realized the hail was no stopping, but actually coming down faster and larger it was too late.  I chose to move my car into the garage before saving the plants.

I also realized my pepper plants were not growing like they should have been.  In my excitement to get them into the garden, I think I put them out too soon.  They really needed to have stayed in a sheltered area and grown for a few more weeks.

On a brighter note, all my onions are looking fabulous, the blackberry bushes have come back from the beating by the hail, the strawberry plants have produced their first strawberries and the Stevia plant in the herb garden is blooming.

Poppy flower

I also was able to save some poppy seeds before the storm came.  These are gorgeous flowers and are so easy to propagate.  When we first moved to this house I loved these suprise flowers that first Spring.  They began to decrease in numbers the following years and I couldn’t figure out why.  Now I know it was because their seeds were slowly falling further and furter outside the flower beds.  Now I make sure to save some each year and add to the snow covered ground or bare soil in late winter.  Their numbers are coming back and I LOVE their bright splash of color in my yard.

This upcoming week I’m not exactly sure what I hope to accomplish.  I’m thinking I am going to keep the list short and focus as much as possible on those things.

  1. Cover the strawberry and blackberry plants with netting to keep out the birds.
  2. Till parts of the yard and spread grass seed.

What do you do when you find yourself setback in your gardening by unforeseen events or mishaps you may have caused?

May 132014

Garden Update 2014

This past week has been a busy one.  The whole start to the gardening season this year has felt full, busy, rushed, as if I were running out of time.  Turns out it payed off this week.

Since my last update I have been able to knock several things off this list:

Mow grass

Spay yard for insects

Remove posts on deck from built in table and benches – table top and benches were removed a few years ago so this was way overdue

Add mulch to bed along deck

Add fencing to bed along deck to deter plant-eating rabbits

Plant tomatoes and other vegetables in bed along deck

Put up trellises for tomatoes along shed and in long raised bed

Plant tomatoes in long raise bed

Plant sunflowers (the last planting resulted in only one seed germinating)

Plant herbs that I started from seed

Spread rest of (saved) Zinnia seeds

deck garden bed

Still left to do:

Seed and fertilize grass – when you don’t remove the piles of leaves you gathered quickly enough, you end up with very large areas void of grass the next Spring

Plant spinach

Plant cucumbers and zucchini

Create plan for the rest of the large raised bed

raised container garden 5 13 14

Our “lawn boy” handed it down to younger sister so we had a bit of lapse in mowing.  At first I was not too worried, “Surely they’ll do it today.”  After saying that for a week, I realized I could not wait any longer and just did it myself.  That is something I have not done for several years thanks to the birthday/Christmas/Anniversary/Because I love you gift from my husband.  It started at a time in our lives when ALL of our energy was being zapped by a foster care placement.  There was no time or energy left for things like mowing the yard.  Turns out this young man was earning money to pay for the insurance on his car once he turned 16.  AND his dad works with my husband. AND he only lives 2 blocks from our house.  Perfect.

I quickly realized how much of a blessing this was when the school bus brought our school aged child home.  See, the first half of the yard took 30-40 minutes.  The second half of the yard took over 2 hours.  For the “lawn boy” they stand at the window and watch.  For Mom, well, they take a more in your face approach.  Especially if there is another kid to aide them in doing so.  Yes, training would solve this.  So does having a “lawn boy.”

If you have checked the Facebook page, or took note of the meal plan for the week, then you know there is a friend here this week.  Today that increased on very short notice yesterday, meaning I had to finish yesterday what I had planned to do today.  There is no written rule that you can only garden when the sun is up.  I was not sure how long the extra two kids, in addition to the friend, were going to need a babysitter, so I had two plans formed in my head.

Plan A = my kids plus friend = ability to do minimal gardening or easier yard chores such as pulling grass out of cracks in the driveway or adding pepper plants to a raised bed

Plan B = my kids plus friend plus two little ones = no gardening work, no yard work, no housework, just the basics

Neither of these situation would be for very long, a few weeks at most.  Basically just enough time to get into a routine before school was out for the summer.

Today I started out with my plan for the day, but by the end I had learned many lessons.  For one, do not have “sandbox day” on a day when you have a crawling baby and a toddler who likes to constantly thrown the sand out of the box while sitting (literally) in the middle of it.

poppy flower ready to bloom

One of the reasons I agreed to watch these kids, besides helping out some Moms who were in tight situations which were the initial reasons, was the opportunity to see how my youngest would react to having other/younger kids in the house taking Mommy’s attention away.  With the potential for new foster kids to come into our home, I wanted to see what I may expect in terms of attitudes and behaviors.  Our youngest has been the youngest for the past several years, and I realize he is a bit spoiled – he hasn’t had to share his Mommy during the day all school year.  He can also be stubborn and is not used to sharing toys with younger kids.  Now, isn’t that a great combination?  It was not the smoothest of days, but definitely can be improved with some heart work and encouragement.

Our oldest on the other hand did wonderfully with the younger kids.  This was not a surprise as this is a strong suite for this child and one reason we had no reservations about saying we are open for little kids.  If allowed, I think this child of mine would have been thrilled beyond belief to change a diaper.  The look of “I’m such a great helper” that showed up when I taught this child how to feed a baby and then let him do it was a great reminder that God makes us all unique and gives each of us different gifts.  This is where this child thrives.

Okay, so back to gardening.  Today was also a reminder to how life was just a few years ago when I had virtually no garden, put up very little food at the end of the season, and felt very much not like myself.  There just was not the time or energy to do so.  This has been a lot of the driving force for this year – I’m finally at a point that I can get to the old “to-do” items, such as removing posts on the deck.  There may be a point in the near future where I will not have that luxury, so now is the time and I am trying to get as much done as possible.

I felt no quilt for taking the day off and spending it with kids.  Walks were taken, books read, crafts completed, lunch made, snacks had, naps taken, toys spread out and picked up.  I could have done more, though for having no routine set, I think it went fine.

This upcoming week is going to have several more scheduling items to make working in the yard and garden a challenge.  I’m up for it.  There is nothing that can not be worked around with some forethought.

This Week’s Gardening Goals:

Finish re-potting vegetable plants

Remove grass from driveway

Seed and fertilize yard

Plant spinach, cucumbers and/or zucchini

Week beds along front walk

Spread wood chips in front walk beds

How is  your garden coming?  Had any evenings spent planting in the fading light?




Sep 292013

Weekly Goals collage May 2013

Having a list of goals this past week really helped me refocus my activities.  There were a few times where I wanted to be distracted by this project or that one, but always reminded myself of The List.  I really wanted to make a dent in it this week.  Here is how I did:

Last Week’s Goals:

  1. Paint porch ceiling
  2. Scrap porch floor
  3. Paint porch floor
  4. Scrap porch railing
  5. Make and freeze one batch of muffins
  6. Make and freeze 3 months worth of a soup
  7. Read 1 hour to the kids
  8. Take one day to do basic cleaning of house (vaccum, dust, laundry, basic declutter of main rooms, clear off flat surfaces)
  9. Turn compost pile
  10. Bring home some mulch to spread in the future
  11. Cut broken tree limbs in yard
  12. Give kids haircuts

Not only was I able to make one soup, but ended up making 2 different one.  The first gave me three month’s worth of soup and the second four months worth.  Of course, that was after we had them that night for supper.  Not only is it so much easier to make someone one time rather than 4, it is also nice to know that there is supper in the freezer waiting to be warmed up in a crockpot.  I have drifted away from freezer cooking this supper.  Perhaps it is because I don’t make the same sort of meals, they tend to be lighter affairs.  Either way, I’m really looking forward to having meals in my freezer again.

paper liners in muffin tin 3

While not everything was accomplished there was movement towards getting it there.  This past Spring and last Fall I realized just how much getting a bit done everyday motivates you to do more the next day.  A bit at a time and soon there will be major progress.

The habit I let myself fall into these past few months was not writing down what I wanted to do, and then giving myself a goal date of having it done.  Instead I said, “I would love to do this by the end of summer.”  Yet no certain date or plan to do it.  I relaxed and let things slide.  Soon, the feeling of being behind overwhelmed me and I got bogged down.  I hope to do another 21 Days Challenge to knock off some of the items on my list.

For now, though the focus is the porch and planning for a trip.  In there I want to keep the house picked up and do a bit of canning.  Four things, but the porch has priority with the larger part of my ‘work time’ being spent there.  It really is amazing what you can get done once you actually start.

This Week’s Goals:

  1. Make reservations for a trip at the end of the month – This is my main to-do this week.
  2. Make and freeze one batch of muffins (a different kind than last week)
  3. Make and freeze 3 months worth of a meal (meatloaf, pork chops in sauce, etc.)
  4. Read 1 hour to the kids
  5. Take limbs to yard waste site and bring home more mulch to spread at a future date.
  6. Finish scraping and painting porch
  7. Weed around rose bushes and spread mulch
  8. Add mulch to front flower bed
  9. Finish planning activities for trip
  10. Find places to stay and eat for trip

new flowers in bed pansy

Sep 172013

Weekly Menu Plan May 2013


What?  Oh, you didn’t see this up this morning.  Well … you are so observant! You earned a gold star.   This time it was because of procrastination.

The meal plan has actually been put together since Saturday.  Then my husband suggested a movie (the kids were all asleep), I suggested made-at-home cappuccinos and an impromptu date night was in order.  How could I say no?  So, the meal plan wasn’t posted on Sunday.

Sunday we left the house for church and didn’t return until 6:30, at which point supper had to be made and bed times quickly followed.  I fell asleep around 8:30.

Monday involved canning tomato jam and beginning to paint the porch ceiling.  That night, this is the procrastination part, I mentioned to my  husband that season 2 of “Call the Midwife” was now on Netflix.  Instead of doing the correct thing and turning on a manly, things exploding movie so I would go post the menu plan and do the dishes, silly man turned on the first episode of season 2.  I was hooked.  He went to bed.  🙂  I did show some restraint and not watch a second episode.

This morning was taken up by processing about 25 lbs of tomatoes into sauce and beginning the cooking down process, a trip to the produce auction, lunch and then a doctor’s appointment that took over an hour longer than it should have.  Back home to clean up the tomato mess from this morning, put a snack on the table, pick up some before my husband came home, and find out what was for supper.  It was at this point that I decided the dishes can wait a bit longer and I really need to come post the menu plan.

And I wonder how it is that the weeks have flown by.  It really seems like everyday is taken up by this or that and nothing that I had planned on getting done is actually getting done.  Well, except the canning.


  1. Fried Pancakes with Maple Creme Syrup, bananas
  2. Cereal
  3. Eggs, toast
  4. Perfect Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins
  5. Shakes
  6. Oatmeal with diced apples
  7. Traveling


  1. Eat Out
  2. Salad
  3. Eat Out (Subway with gift card)
  4. Sticky Blackberry Barbecue Pork Ribs, grilled potato slices with salt and vinegar, steamed carrots
  5. Pulled Chicken with Apple-cucumber slaw, fried potatoes and onions, vegetable
  6. Chipotle Chocolate Chili, peanut butter sandwiches
  7. Traveling


  1. Leftovers
  2. Pizza
  3. Watermelon, soup?
  4. Curried Chickpea Yogurt Dip, veggies, watermelon
  5. Salami Sandwiches, watermelon
  6. Leftovers
  7. Traveling

There you have it.  This week’s menu.  I’m trying to use up what we have in the freezer, one week at a time.  So far it hasn’t been too bad and is going a lot better than when I planned it a whole month at a time.  As for the watermelon, we got it from the Farmer’s Market last Saturday.  The leftover watermelon that was in the refrigerator was put into a bag and added to the freezer.  It will be turned into Watermelon Sorbet at some point in the future.  What ever is left of this melon at the end of the week will join the ‘leftovers’ already in the freezer.

Weekly Goals collage May 2013It has been a while since I wrote out my weekly goals.  Instead of dividing them out by categories, I am going to list them according to how I hope they get done this week.  I have three days of no where to go, which I hope translates into getting these items done or greatly progressed towards their completion.

  1. Can tomato jam
  2. Paint porch ceiling
  3. Can remaining tomatoes (from last week)
  4. Scrap porch floor
  5. Paint porch floor
  6. Scrap porch railing
  7. Make and freeze one batch of muffins
  8. Make and freeze 3 months worth of one of this week’s soups
  9. Start and finish laundry (put away as it finishes)
  10. Read 1 hour to the kids – I realized that this is something dropped once the school year began.  They seems to really miss it.

There you go.  #1 has already been done.  #2 and #3 are started.  If I can keep up the momentum tomorrow, then the rest of the week should follow and these will finally be completed.

It has been a while since I’ve done a freezer meal session.  My Wednesday breakfasts are sorely repetitive because of it.  It used to be so easy to go grab a muffin from the freezer.  Now I have to make french toast or do cereal because I didn’t plan enough time that morning to actually make muffins.  And there are just so many yummy ones to make.

What is your favorite muffin recipe?  Do you prefer to make them fresh, freeze the batter to bake fresh, or freeze muffins already made?


Jul 102013

Third review of my goals for the year … not exactly a good sign that I am reviewing them frequently, now is it?

Here are my goals for 2013:


Encourage learning

  • Read aloud 8 books per month from Reading List {ongoing.  I did get a Reading List for Children put together of all the books I was interest in reading.} – We have continued to read from the list, as well as added in some other books found along the way.  I actually started reading a book I had gotten from somewhere, only to find that both I and the kid I was reading it too didn’t like it.  So, without guilt it is being passed on.
  • Help kids learn to count to 50, without missing numbers – We haven’t worked on this like I wanted to.  I can say that those learning to count are getting more confident in the numbers they do know.
  • Teach the oldest to read, or try to {We have been going through “Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Steps”.  I think it will take us more than 100 days at this pace.  Hoping it is just a slow start.} Update: I stopped the reading lessons as it was not fun.  I have started a ‘game’ with the kids.  I say a word and see if they can figure out which letter it starts with.  They love it and are surprisingly good at it.  Though not reading, they find it fun and it helps them associate words and letters.
  • Have daily walks or times to explore outside.  Nothing official, though they are often getting evening swim times in with either their dad or both of us.

Encourage the kids to learn more about the Bible and God

  • Morning Bible Times during the week Can’t say I’m doing better on consistency, but it does happen.  I find myself including God/Jesus in our discussions throughout the day more – sort of linking what they learn at church/in Bible Time with life outside those times.
  • Memorized the Disciples’ names  One kid has accomplished this!  Ice cream was enjoyed.
  • Help them memorize the books of the Old Testament by August  (about 6 per month) We still haven’t even started these.  I’ve decided to give myself grace and take time off from them memorizing things.

Encourage positive self-esteem

  • Teach oldest to ride a bike without training wheels – While this hasn’t happened yet, we have graducated to a larger bike with training whells that give when you lean on them.  I wasn’t sure what to think of them at first, but it seems to be working.  The bike is being held up more, rather than leaning to one side on a training wheel.
  • Swimming lessons – Taking place as we speak.
Encourage self-sufficiency
  • Assign 1 habit/chore per month for each kid to work on {ongoing} – It would have really helped for me to sit down and make a list of these.  What I have done is advance one to helping with the cooking more (adding things to pots, etc.).  This has resulted in a trickle down effect on the chores.
  • Keep up with former habits {ongoing.  I am having to break the old bad habit of letting things slide.  It is a slow start but we are making progress.} – We are now at a point that sometimes I can use one word reminders for things.  Other times they do them automatically, tell me this is how things are supposed to be done, or completely forget there was ever a  habit there.  



Learn more about the Bible and God

  • Finish reading through the Bible (I’m over half way there) – I’m embarrased to report that there has been very little progress here.
  • Daily morning Bible (Quite) Times – I’ve been good about getting up earlier, but not so good about using that time for a Quiet Time.  

Take better care of myself

  • Run in a 5K {I’ve started walking several times a week to work my way up to this.} – I’ve been able to run 1.7 miles several times a week.  A several weeks long cold back in April/May really set me back by disrupting good habits.  I’ve been working on reestablishing them.
  • Get at least 8 hours rest – This happens sometimes, but not so much.  What has been happening is that the kids are finally starting to go to bed easily and at consistent times.  With this happening, it is easier to set a bed time goal for myself.
  • Play/practice my instrument weekly (it has been over 8 years since I played it.) – No progress.
  • Create a book list for myself. Read three books per month
  • Journal 3 x weekly – No progress.
  • Try new things – Grow {ongoing}


Stay connected

  • Go on at least one date a month {ongoing} –
  • Take time to talk each day {ongoing}
  • Say “I love you” meaningfully daily {ongoing}

breaded pork chop with peas cornbread muffins and carrot sticks


Create a schedule that works for the household

  • See “encouraging self-sufficiency” under the children’s section above, as well as my goal of getting 8 hours of rest each night
  • Focus on one habit a month {ongoing}
  • Plan meals – menu plan on a monthly basis, do freezer cooking for 3 months at a time of at least 14 meals, organize recipe bindertry 24 new recipes I feel as if I’m in a new stage of planning.  Using the Plan to Eat website has given me the next step I was looking for.  I am giving it another two months to see if it keeps being useful through some changes and different seasons.
  • Read 4 books on organization, scheduling, or setting goals {Books Read in January}

Create a welcoming environment (Finish incomplete tasks and get rid of clutter)

  • De-wallpaper and paint upstairs
  • Repaint porch – The porch is set to be painted in the middle of July, weather permitting.
  • Replace siding on house – The house is set to be painted in the middle of July, weather permitting.
  • Label pantry
  • Finish painting around “new” trim
  • Finish closet in downstairs bedroom
  • Decorate my bedroom
  • Pick up, organize and declutter basement and upstairs closet
  • Declutter – reduce number of cook books, spend 5 minutes a day on hot spots, reduce number of toys out
  • Garage – attach counter top, finish putting up cabinets, organize cabinets, declutter, wipe down walls
  • Find art work or pictures to put up in main living areas

Ministry/Friendships/Extended Family:

Keep in contact with family and friends

  • Skype once a week with my mother-in-law {ongoing}
  • Skype at least once a week with my nephew {ongoing}
Encourage those around me
  • Write at least two handwritten notes every month to encourage someone {ongoing}


Stand/Blogging/Other Income Sources:

Create a schedule

  • Take Sundays off (schedule posts ahead of time, don’t put stand out, stay off computer) – {ongoing}
  • Create a blog schedule with certain days having themes (Menu Plan Monday, etc.)


  • Earn money each month in Amazon gift cards (from SwagbucksBing and surveys) {ongoing}
  • Try new ways of making money – 
  • Sell what I have – repot aloe plants and sell, make starts of house plants, grow zucchini (something that does very well on our stand), objects decluttered from around the house (Craigslist, Facebook, etc.) – Aloe plants are sold, except for two.  Zucchini is growing, on the third try due to rabbits.



Preserve produce for upcoming year – I recently picked up more canning jars at a garage sale with these goals in mind.

  • Can 60 quarts of crushed tomatoes
  • Put up 77 quarts of tomato sauce
  • Can 52 quarts of beets – Due to family things going on I think I’ve missed most of the beet season.
  • Grow, and freeze, 12 sandwiches bags of green onions.  Freeze their stems separately. Accomplished, June 2013.  Will still plant more this fall.
  • Freeze 30 bags of red peppers; 12 for meatloafs, 12 for soups, 6 for omletes and various uses
  • Can apple/pear sauce, as much as can be done
  • Grow enough basil, parsley and cilantro to not have to buy any during the growing season; preserve herbs

Grow lettuce, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers to supplement our weekly salads and zucchini for stand

Redo garden layout

  • Relocate raised beds; seed where beds were – put down grass seed and have grass growing.
  • Make raised beds deeper
  • Convert or build raised bed for strawberries
  • Create a herb container garden
  • Create trellis for beans under kitchen window – this has been delayed till the repainting of the house, which I hope to be soon for the bean’s sake.
  • Remove weeping cherry tree (plant blackberries?)
  • Create large containers for blueberry bushes
  • Remove brushes and concrete blocks under hackberry tree; relocate daffodil bulbs; flatten area
  • Build 2 rain barrels


Wow, I was a bit over adventurous this past January.  However, I do still like that there are areas I’ve been trying to work in, broken down into steps to improve in those areas.  That is one think I hope to do again this coming year.  It is very encouraging to see that I have been able to mark off several goals from this list.  I also have to remember that the year is only half way over.  There are still 6 months to go to work on these things this year.

Jun 032013

Weekly Goals collage May 2013


The camping trip last week has left me anxious to finish getting the garden in and mulch down.  Maybe it is realizing that it is already June and there are still a few tomato plants on my kitchen counter.  It has been so cool this Spring that I have not felt a rush to get these in.  That is a good and bad thing.  At least I have been given time to replant seeds a few times … though I’m not sure why they are not coming up.  Maybe they would have earlier if it had been warmer.

This past weekend held a local strawberry festival.  I visited on Friday and saw they  had strawberry plants for $1 per 4″ pot.  As I wasn’t sure what the stores around me were selling them for I decided to wait.  Wrong choice.  After looking around today I realize what a great deal that was.  The local hardware store has them for $2.99 per pot.  The grocery story didn’t have any.  The last place I stopped was a smaller department store that usually has very high prices.  I’m glad to decided to “stop and take a look” as I was able to find strawberry plants for a much better price.  The label said, “CLEARANCE $8.98 per 6 pack”.  I figured it was the best I would get for a while and picked up a six pack of strawberry plants.  When I went to check out they rang up at $6.95.  Even better.  This was cheaper than if I had driven back to the festival before coming home from camping, taking into account gas and such.

While out I also picked up some potting mix for a container on my deck and my topsy turvy planters from cucumbers.  I should be pretty set to finish planting.

This Week’s Goals:

  1. Plant regular heirloom tomatoes.
  2. Plant white heirloom tomatoes.
  3. Add soil to planter and sow flower seeds.
  4. Plant sugar snap peas.
  5. “Plant” cucumbers – add soil to containers and hang
  6. Plant zucchini seeds (again)
  7. Hang laundry line.
  8. Lay newspapers down for mulch.
  9. Look for more (free) mulch.
  10. Plant iris bulbs.

You never know when the rain might quit coming.  Even though the temperatures are on the cool side I want to get everything in the ground.  Maybe then I can focus on getting the garage in order and continue removing weeds that have appeared because of all the rain.

What are your goals for this week?

May 262013

Weekly Goals collage May 2013

This is going to be a week of few goals.  With cool, damp weather lately there hasn’t been much happening in the garden.

  • If the weather is nice enough on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning I am going to plant more tomato plants.
  • Buy sand for deck container (it goes in the bottom to weigh it down) and potting mix.
  • Bring remaining seedlings up from the basement and place in a sunny location inside.
  • Take in paper and glass recycling.

See nothing too hard, but that is what life calls for sometimes.

What are your goals this week?

May 122013



Last Week’s Gardening Goals

  1. Plant basil seeds
  2. Plant parsley seeds
  3. Plant chive seeds
  4. Plant lettuce
  5. Plant spinach
  6. Trim bushes along front walkway
  7. Add mulch, as available, to beds around blackberry bushes
  8. Transplant tomato starts into larger containers


This week’s Gardening Goals

  1. Plant tomato plants
  2. Add mulch
  3. Trim bushes in yard
  4. Gather sticks for yard waste day
  5. Plant more bean plants
  6. Hang cucumber Topsy-turvys
  7. Add sand to porch planter, then plant with tomatoes

I’m actually not sure how much of this week’s goals I’ll get to.  Part of me wants to take things very lightly and enjoy our guest.  The other parts of me say that this can be done while working in the yard and doing our “normal” things.  With the kids being home, I think there will need to be a lot of outside time and nap times can be used for socializing among adults.

I do hope to keep the house “to-do list” to a minimum – pick up every night and do a load of laundry every day.  I may even get the clothes line finally hung – I’m trying to find the perfect place to hang it.  🙂

What things are you looking to get done in your garden this week?