Dec 152013

snow on trees

Yesterday I got a day of relaxing, for the most part.  It was the first day in 2 weeks that I felt like I had nothing to do.  That was mainly due to the snow we got.  Early last week they were calling for a 30%-40% chance of snow.  Thursday of last week they said, “1 inch on Saturday”. Saturday morning I woke up to what was obviously more than 1 inch.

Our plans for they day involved two things, both in Big Town about 40 minutes away, once you factor in traffic to reach our destinations.  The first was a visit with our foster kids’ sibling at 10 a.m.  Then a 2 p.m. our church was having a function for kids and adults – the adult were able to drop off their kids for a few hours to go shopping or on a date, then come back later for a meal the kids had prepared.  Knowing driving was going to be slower than normal I started shoveling out the driveway at 7 a.m.  (Why me and not my husband?  Well, he was already making breakfast and I was NOT going to interrupt him doing that.  It involved fresh baked croissants.)  Though I didn’t take the time to actually measure it, I’m sure it was in the 6-12 inch range.  Maybe more like 8 or 10 inches.  About 1.5 hours later I had finished the driveway and most of the sidewalks when my husband came to relieve me.  It was my turn for breakfast.

snow on rose bushes and bird bathThe photo above was from last winter.  The snow we had this time was not quite as deep, though close to it.

My sweet husband had make breakfast, dressed the kids and allowed me 1.5 hours of mainly quiet thinking.  It was a pretty good start to the day.  When I came inside I called the other foster mom to make sure we were still on.  She obviously had a different level of comfort with driving in the snow than I did.  Besides that, they  hadn’t plowed the streets where she was and she hadn’t shoveled out her drive yet.  Okay, so that was to be rescheduled.  While on the phone with her a call from church came in, the activity was being reschedule for possibly Sunday, though “more details will be available during morning services.”  Now, my day away from home had turned into a day at home with no where we had to be.  I pulled out a book and sat down to eat my eggs, croissant, and hot tea with no rush to be anywhere or do anything.  After two weeks of this or that needing to be done right now, it was great.

In the end, the kids watched more t.v. than I normally allow, the sidewalks were shoveled a second time (it was still snowing when we did it the first time) while the kids played in the snow, I read some of a book and played a game on my new phone.  Lunch and supper plans were put together as I hadn’t planned anything at all except “Eat out” and “Eat at church” which were no longer valid options.  Well, we could have eaten out, but that seemed silly as we were going to be at home all day. Homemade tomato soup and corn bread made up a very delicious lunch, followed by homemade pizza for supper.  Having some staples in the house made what could have been a source of stress into a non-issue.

Carrot Bread and Winter Spice tea

So, what have I been doing these past few weeks to make things so busy?

  • Took advantage of the 2 days with temperatures above 50 degrees to paint the porch, with a day at the beginning to scrap off some loose paint.  I didn’t get all of the painting done, but made significant progress.  When spring comes I have just over half of the railing, the edges where the wall meets the floor and a second coat on the floor to finish.  Now that I know what I’m doing, it should just take a few hours.  My main goal was to get a coat of paint on the floor to cover exposed wood before it snowed.  It snowed the day after I finished.  🙂
  • Because of the Thanksgiving holiday I had a planning meeting rescheduled for the first week of Decemeber.  This meeting alone took up most of a morning.
  • I cleaned the house up from being gone for Thanksgiving and so we could have a last minute birthday party.  Several cakes were baked, furniture moved and a strategic survey and selection of toys for the playroom made.  What may work for a few kids won’t necessarily work when you add 10 more.
  • We had a last minute birthday party with kids from school.  The kids’ whole families were invited, which most accepted.  This made for 20-30 people coming over.  In years past I haven’t made quiet enough cake for everyone.  This year, I didn’t make that mistake.  After sending cake home with a few people, we were still eating leftover cake as dessert for a week.
  • Monday of last week was a snow day.  The change in schedule really threw one of my kids off, behavior wise, making it a not-so-fun day here at home.  It wasn’t as productive as I had hoped.
  • On Tuesday of this past week I invited several ladies, and their kids, over for breakfast of muffins and biscotti.  It turned out to be a nice morning – the kids played well together while the adults got to socialize.  Those I invited mostly didn’t know each other, so it was fun to see conversations taking place.  I want to do this again next month, focusing just on muffins as the food though.  It is easy to plan for, as muffins can be frozen then taken back out the night before.
  • Wednesday of last week we then had a morning of set up, followed by a morning of the actual event on Thursday. This is what the planning meeting the week before had been for.
  • Friday I took my car to the mechanic.  I’ll get it back the middle of next week.

Once I had the house picked up, I decided to take time each day to get it back to that state. A good habit to get into, don’t you thing?  At first this was easy.  After several days though, I started to notice little things slipping.  Sometimes it is a decision between sitting an listening to fun music with a kid in your lap and getting up to sweep the floors. Other times it was just because a bad habit showed itself (putting dishes on the counter instead of in the dishwasher, sitting an item down instead of putting it away immediately, etc.) My most productive part of the day is the mornings, which is when all the kids are at home wanting attention.  I think I need to work on the little thing called self-discipline to get up and do the housework in the afternoon.  Otherwise I’m just whining.  Hm.  Don’t I tell the kids to, “Stop whining and just do it.  You’ve wasted more time whining about it than it would have taken to do it.”  No, surely I don’t ever say anything like that.


My meal plan, which I didn’t post, reflected all of this.  Pre-made meals in the freezer which were warmed up in the crock pot were the plan those days.  The day of the actual event I unashamedly told my husband we were eating out for lunch.  Subway has a good deal on $2 subs right now which I planned to take advantage of.  At first I felt guilty, then remembered that my husband has said in the past that he would rather do that than come home to a crazy household and a stressed wife.  We don’t order out often, so this hasn’t been a habit, I’ve tried instead to plan our meals ahead (pre-made meals in the freezer, using the crock pot, etc.), or else he may have a different opinion of this.

This week is a bit different than week’s past, for which I am thankful.  Without a car, or at least one to myself, I will not be able to go out as easily.  Yippee!  For this I really am thankful.  There are two things this week for which it may be nice to have had a car, but for which I can easily make other arrangements.  The meal plan for the week is already made and contains mainly ingredients we have here at home.  Stuff for salads can be picked up today after church, otherwise I don’t need anything.

Here are the items I plan to work on:

  1. Pick up the house – declutter by filling another box with items to get rid of, put misplaced items away, sweep several times
  2. Put out the rest of the Christmas decorations – right now we have stocking out and a holder for Christmas cards we receive.
  3. Finish Christmas shopping (after all Christmas is next week).
  4. Go through photos I’ve taken for the blog and see what I haven’t shared. (This is low on the list, and something I’ll be working on till it gets completed.)

That’s it.  I’m pretty sure other things will pop up, so I’m going to keep my “must do” list pretty short.  I’m very tempted to look through seeds I have and begin planning the garden for next year, but am trying to hold off on this till after Christmas.  February will find me seed starting, so it isn’t too far off.  Seems as though we just ended the season.  So much to do and so little time.  For now, I’m going to have some muffins (from the freezer) and coffee, admire the snow covered landscape outside and leave on time (i.e. early due to snow) for church.

Have a great day everyone.


Nov 172013

Weekly Goals collage May 2013

Last Week’s goals:

  1. Add a pull chain to our living room fan
  2. Add something to kids’ dresser so it doesn’t make a loud noise when closing
  3. Hang bird feed
  4. Install gutter guards
  5. Remove fence from around garden
  6. Pull up dead tomato plants and store trestles
  7. Mulch leaves
  8. Clear off kitchen shelf
  9. Prepare for a birthday party this coming weekend (it is a last minute decision so I’m keeping it as simple as I can considering we are actually inviting more than just family and family friends)
  10. Read through 21 Days To A More Disciplined Life in preparation for starting the challenge next week.

Menards had a great deal on gutter guards last week.  Since I was in Big Town at the beginning of the week I picked up a couple to take home and see if they would fit.  They did.  When I went back last night the store was out of the white colored ones.  I was able to order them, but will have to wait a week or two for the rest to come in.

As for the leaves, well, I decided it would be a great thing for the kids to play in outside at the end of the birthday party.  They had a lot of fun having leaf fights, throwing arm fulls of leaves at each other.  Update: we had very strong, constant winds last night … most of the leaves blew away.  🙂


This Week’s Goals:

  1. Begin working my way through 21 Days To A More Disciplined Life
  2. Mulch leaves
  3. Trim and remove tree limbs
  4. Send Thank You cards from birthday party

While working through the book, 21 Days To A More Disciplined Life, I hope to get things back in order while working on a larger project.  There will be a few days taken for Thanksgiving, but otherwise I hope to work my way through with few delays.  I would love it if you would join me. After considering the intent of this goal this morning I realized that I would be rushing into going through, trying to make it fit and becoming stressed out in the process.  Though I don’t really want to be starting this in December, it really would be a better time to do this.  

storage totes in basement

What better way to bring 2013 to a close than with setting yourself up for a more discipline life in 2014?  With that in mind, I’m going to wait a week and a half and begin working through the book on December 1st.  In the mean time here is what I am going to be thinking through:

  • What large goal do I want to work on?
  • How am I going to get there?
  • Are there smaller goals I also want to accomplish?
  • What needs to be done do I can focus on working on those goal? (Do I need to finish a current project so I can move on to the next thing?  Do I need to menu plan so I don’t have to think about it later?  Do I need to finish my Christmas shopping?)

I’m not going to stress myself out by saying “I am going to post every day with 10 gazillion pictures of my progress”, because life might happen and then I’ll feel guilty for not having told the truth.  What I am going to do is designate Tuesdays and Fridays as update days.  That is when I am going to post my progress and invite you to do the same.  It will be a great opportunity to encourage one another.


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Nov 122013

Weekly Goals collage May 2013


Our first snow fall of the year happened last night.  It looks to be about a quarter inch, which is just enough to cover the ground in a rough, white blanket.  So much for the 80 degree weather we were in just a few days ago.  What a welcome back to a part of the country that actually gets defined seasons.

Sorry for the week of silence.  It wasn’t intended and I was shocked to see I had left the blog quiet for so long this past week.  My intentions were to post on Saturday, but obviously that didn’t happen.  What did happen was ….

Saturday we flew back home, arriving at what should have been just after lunch according to our stomachs, but what was mid-afternoon according to the clocks.  After driving most of the way home, we stopped for an early supper then came home to unpack.  The first load of laundry was started, kids put to bed and my husband put on a movie. I joined him, made it through the movie, then fell asleep.  After two weeks of not sleeping through the night, for various reasons, I finally slept very soundly … on the couch.  Oh well.  It just felt good to sleep all the way through the night.

We weren’t sure what Sunday would hold, church or not.  While we didn’t make it to Sunday School, we were able to attend the main service and actually had one of our best Sundays, behavior wise, in a while.  It could be because the kids were still tired from traveling and time changes; there were some BIG yawns happening.  After lunch we came home and did yard work.  I pulled up most of the garden and removed the fencing around the edges.  Once the strawberry plants decided it is actually winter I will be adding mulch to the beds.  By 4 p.m. I was sure it was 8 p.m. and we came inside to eat and crash.  So much for putting together this week’s menu plan.

Yesterday, Monday, held shopping for me in the morning.  My husband had the day off, but the kids had school.  He stayed with the ones at home while I went BY MYSELF!! to shop.  I couldn’t believe how quiet it was and how quick I was able to go through the stores.  We have several meals in the freezer, so I was able to get mostly the items on sale plus ingredients for salads.  I also stopped and picked up a few items for small to-do items around the house.  The afternoon wasn’t so productive as I spent time actually talking with my husband, visited with a friend for about an hour after lunch, picked up my car that had been left with the mechanic while we were gone, and … I’m not really sure what else I did.  What I didn’t do was meal plan or post this week’s goals.  I also got another solid night of sleep, which should help today go smoother.

This week’s goals:

  1. Add a pull chain to our living room fan
  2. Add something to kids’ dresser so it doesn’t make a loud noise when closing
  3. Hang bird feed
  4. Install gutter guards
  5. Remove fence from around garden
  6. Pull up dead tomato plants and store trestles
  7. Mulch leaves
  8. Clear off kitchen shelf
  9. Prepare for a birthday party this coming weekend (it is a last minute decision so I’m keeping it as simple as I can considering we are actually inviting more than just family and family friends)
  10. Read through 21 Days To A More Disciplined Life in preparation for starting the challenge next week.

21 Days To A More Disciplined Life

There may only be 2.5 weeks till we leave for Thanksgiving with family, but I’m hoping to make the most of this “month”.  November has become one of my favorite months.  I see it as the start to the winter season and the opportunity to work inside the house more.

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Oct 132013

Weekly Goals collage May 2013Last Week’s Goals:

  1. Make and freeze 3 months worth of a meal (meatloaf, pork chops in sauce, etc.)
  2. Read 1 hour to the kids
  3. Take limbs to yard waste site and bring home more mulch to spread at a future date.
  4. Finish scraping and painting porch
  5. Weed around rose bushes and spread mulch
  6. Add mulch to front flower bed
  7. Finish planning activities for trip

Well, as you can see, nothing was completed on my to-do list.  I did read to the kids, but not for an hour.  The painting on the porch progressed more than where it was, but I didn’t get it finished.  And as for planning more for our upcoming trip … we have talked about some finer details, but didn’t necessarily plan anything.

I think I need to revisit the way I’ve written these goals, to be more specific and more realistic.



This week is very short for me.

  • Monday is a school holiday.  The morning will be spent in Big Town running a few small errands then meeting up with sibling(s) of my foster kids for lunch.  After that I plan to come home and paint some more on the porch.
  • Tuesday I want to go to the produce auction.  It is winding down and I’m still hoping to get some pumpkins.  Last Friday I went, only to find that it started late and ended early.  So goes the end of the growing season.  After this week it will be on a “as the weather allows and the fields provide” basis.  I’m a bit surprised as the weather hasn’t been all that cool.  Maybe everyone is ready to be done with this year’s growing season?
  • Wednesday I don’t have much planned.  It is my one ‘free’ day.  Even then it isn’t so free.  I need to pack from my trip.  There are also a few apples trees belonging to a friend that need to be picked.  I’m going with a different friend to pick them and this seems to be the best day for the two of us.
  • Thursday I’m leaving for MOMcon 2013.  This will be a first for me, going to MOMcon and to Kansas City.  I’m looking forward to the trip.  I’ll be gone till Sunday, which means I need to plan not only for me and the trip, but also for my family here at home.  Meals, having the house picked up, etc.  Posts also need to be written and scheduled.  If this doesn’t get completed, please allow me some grace.


Seeing as it is a short week for me, my goals list is also going to be short and more specific than last week.

This Week’s Goals

  1. Can blackberry jam (it is already pureed and in the refrigerator.  It just needs to be cooked and canned.)
  2. Can salsa (The tomatoes are picked, but need to be used.)
  3. Pick apples
  4. Make and freeze 3 months worth of corn bread muffins
  5. Read 1 hour to the kids
  6. Finish painting railing on 1/2 of the porch
  7. Print off more coupons, or get more gift cards, to use on upcoming family trip

Having more specific goals written down means I don’t have to keep remembering exactly what it is I want to do.  It gives me a clear plan.  For example, making 3 months of corn bread muffins rather than 3 months of a meal.  It is also more realistic for me to get the painting done on the railings rather than the whole porch.

Set yourself up for success rather than for failure.  I sometimes forget this when I make my weekly goals list.  It doesn’t mean to make it easy, just realistic.

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

Jul 222013

2013 Garden Update

Last week I never got around to posting my weekly gardening goals because I was too busy doing them.  Last week’s activities involved

  • clean the gutters
  • trimmed tree limbs along roof line
  • weed-eat around the garden
  • move extra produce stand plants off my porch and to extra space in the garden (move, not plant)
  • plant pepper plants in extra spaces in the garden
  • clear off the porch
  • clear items away from the base of the house

These were all completed, as well as:

  • trim the bushes along the garage
  • relocated hanging cucumber plants
  • pulled up the grass growing in gaps in the driveway

All these garden chores were done with a particular goal in mind – get ready for the house to be painted.  To say I’m happy to have these done and the painting on the house started would be an understatement.  This has been something we have been planning since the beginning of the year.  I’ve never picked out colors for a house before so I was also a bit apprehensive.  I think it will turn out okay, and something we like.  Here is a small preview, after some loose paint had been scraped off:



As you can see, the change will definitely be noticeable. Traffic along the street is already starting to slow down while curious people look.  (I joked that we should paint part of the front a neon green to give everyone something to talk about.) My vote was for a non-neutral color – blue, red, etc.  I was outvoted.  Or rather, I chose not to make a huge issue out of it.  Instead, I chose neutral colors I liked and put them up for a vote.  My future plans are for flower beds along the foundation of the house to add a variety of colors.

So what does this week hold?

  • trimming bushes along front walk
  • edge grass along sidewalk
  • take brush to yard waste recycling site
  • move extra produce stand plants to a shadier spot (the sun is wilting them)
  • plant (very late) sweet potato slips
  • spread out dirt piles (from replacement of water line)
  • trim trees along edge of porch (so it can be painted)

I was able to get a handful of items from the garden last week.  We had another rain last night, so I’m hoping all the squash blossoms will result in an onslaught of produce this week.  There are also a lot of green tomatoes that I’m looking forward to having turn.  Maybe the rain will finally do the trick.

I have decided to freeze the jalapeno peppers, whole and seedless, as they mature.  We don’t use them a lot them, but enough to make it worth while.  I also hope to try jalapeno poppers later on if I get enough of them.  Anyone know if I will be able to make poppers with previously frozen jalapeno peppers?



Jun 302013

Weekly Goals collage May 2013

 This past week found me harvesting all my green onions (which still need processed), planting a few extra pepper plants, trimming bushes and rethinking my roadside stand layout.

So what does this week hold?

  1. Weed and mulch around roses
  2. Plant garlic near roses
  3. Find out more about planting sweet potatoes and find a spot to do so
  4. Trim bushes along front walk
  5. Weed flower bed around tree in front yard

I feel as if this week holds a lot of maintenance items.  That is one part of gardening that I often forget about and do not associate with ‘gardening’.

What does you week look like?

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?