Feb 032016
 

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for helping support this blog.

valentines

At the beginning of the year, I made it a point to start celebrating the various holidays throughout the year.  I had Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving pretty well down.  For activities related all the other holidays, though, I rarely did much, often forgetting about them until a day or two before.

Let me give you an example using the next holiday that will be coming up soon.  Valentines Day is a holiday my husband and I often forget about.  For example, the first year we were married we were doing our taxes when we realized the date, February 14.  Yup, we were spending our first Valentines Day as a married couple doing our taxes.  Romantic, eh?

With it already being into the month of February and Valentine’s Day once again approaching, I need to get on the ball and actually implement the thoughts I have going through my head in regards to activities with the kids.  In years past, I have had them make cards for school, or color hearts and attach them to pencils.  That was as far as I went.  And for the record, making home made cards with your Kindergartner for their class of 20-something kids may sound like a great skill building activity, but it is over rated.  The only skill you end up working on is your patience.

One of my favorite things about Valentines Day are those little heart candies.  They hold no nutritional value, they are a bit corny, but there is something about them I have a hard time refusing.  This year, one of my planned activities is to buy a bag of them and give one to each kid every day.  It will not be anything big, but will make a great quick moment to stop and remember to say, “I love you” every day.

Not only will I be able to find these wonderful little hearts at the store, but Swagbucks has also cooked up a batch that is sure to make you feel great.  They call them SwagHearts!

Collect all 5 candy heart-themed Collector Bills and you will earn a 20 SB bonus!

For those of you who are wondering what Collector Bills are, let me explain.

How Do I Get Collector Bills?

It is simple.  Search the web through the Swagbucks Search Engine through Friday, February 12th at 11:59 pm PT/Saturday, February 13th 2:59 am ET, and when you get a search win, you may get a special Collector Bill valued at either:

  • 8 SB
  • 14 SB
  • 25 SB
  • 32 SB
  • 39 SB

 

What happen when I get a Collector Bill?

When you win a limited edition Collector Bill you will receive the value of the bill and the bill will be added to your “Collector’s Bill” ledger.  Collect all 5 bills an you will instantly earn a 20 SB bonus!

Is it possible to collect the same Collector Bills multiple times?

Yes, you could collect any of the Collector Bills multiple times by February 12th, and you receive the value of the bill each time.  After all, who does not love candy!

Pro-tip: Default your search engine on your browser to Swagbucks to get collectors Bills and SB every time you google “What time is the Super Bowl?” without even thinking about it.

Happy Searching!

Dec 122013
 

Reviewing my Yearly Goals is always enlightening, and not always in a good way.  I am amazed at how daily life can intrude upon the goals we have for ourselves.  As of late, I feel as if I’ve been pulled this way and that, never getting to what I really wanted to be doing – cleaning out the basement and the garage.  Instead of complaining, I need to be giving thanks – for home I have to able to invite people over, for the car I have to be able to take the kids places, for the porch I have to paint and the two days of unseasonably warm weather last week in which to paint it before the ice came, for family I am able to visit.

When I put this list together last January, I chose to make overarching goals with some specific examples.  However, the specific examples were not necessarily the goals themselves.  To this end I want to note that I did a lot in several areas that aren’t noted in the list below.  For example:

Children, encouraging learning – we took a 2 week vacation at the beginning of November to visit extended family in a other state in a very different growing zone than us.  Instead of spending the time in from of the t.v. we took trips to botanical gardens, museums, the Grand Canyon, the Biosphere 2, and so on.  It isn’t necessarily the fact that we went to these places, but that we used them to point out things the kids are really into.  We were able to apply

Gardening – I took the plunge and decided to remove several landscaping plants and put in fruit plants.  I’ve added strawberry plants, blackberry plants, a blueberry bush and have ordered a peach tree to plant this upcoming Spring.  This is something I’ve wanted to do several years ago when we moved in, but kept feeling guilty for wanting to get rid of the “nice looking plants”.  I have finally realized that this is MY  house and MY yard.  I should have in it what I want, not what worked for others.  Yeah, I know.  It really shouldn’t have taken me this long.

 

Here are my goals for 2013:

DSCN8010

Gardening:

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 – 7 quarts canned
  • Put up 77 quarts of tomato sauce
  • Can 52 quarts of beets – 10.5 quarts are canned (was 11.5 but we ate one.)
  • Grow, and freeze, 12 sandwiches bags of green onions.  Freeze their stems separately.
  • 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 bedsseed where beds were –
  • Make raised beds deeper
  • Convert or build raised bed for strawberries
  • Create a herb container garden
  • Create trellis for beans under kitchen window – So far this  hasn’t happened.  Once the house painting is finished I’ll add something in.
  • 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 – began working on this yesterday.
  • Build 2 rain barrels

Children:

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.} – I’m working my way through a short book a day at nap time.  This has been working out really well for us.
  • Help kids learn to count to 50, without missing numbers  – We are almost here.  What an odd goal, now that I think about it.  The fact that this wasn’t even a possibility at the start of the year is amazing.  
  • Teach the oldest to read, or try toI’m counting this as achieved since site words and sounding out others does take place, at least when the brain is well rested.  The desire to work harder at this isn’t there.  Perhaps that will be an area of emphasis next year.
  • Have daily walks or times to explore outside.  

Encourage the kids to learn more about the Bible and God

  • Morning Bible Times during the week
  • Memorized the Disciples’ names  One kid has accomplished this! 
  • Help them memorize the books of the Old Testament by August  (about 6 per month) 
  • We just memorized our first verse.  Turns out the kid who I thought couldn’t do it was actually just being stubborn and knew if before everyone else … even after refusing to practice it with us.

Encourage positive self-esteem

  • Teach oldest to ride a bike without training wheels – I’m not pushing this, especially with snow and ice on the ground.  It will happen when it happens.
  • Swimming lessons
Encourage self-sufficiency
  • Assign 1 habit/chore per month for each kid to work on {ongoing}
  • Keep up with former habits {ongoing} – Turns out there was the “I’m not going to do that, it’s Mom’s job” attitude growing.  sigh After reminding them I don’t work for them, we have made some progress.  It is a daily journey.

DSCN8015

Personal:

Learn more about the Bible and God

  • Finish reading through the Bible (I’m over half way there) 
  • Daily morning Bible (Quite) Times – Doesn’t always happen in the morning, but it is going better.  

Take better care of myself

  • Run in a 5K
  • Get at least 8 hours rest – 
  • Play/practice my instrument weekly (it has been over 8 years since I played it.)
  • Create a book list for myself. Read three books per month
  • Journal 3 x weekly 
  • Try new things – Grow {ongoing}

Marriage:

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

Homemaking:

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 
  • Read 4 books on organization, scheduling, or setting goals

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

  • De-wallpaper and paint upstairs
  • Repaint porch A 2nd coat on the floor will be needed next Spring.
  • Replace siding on house – Accent colors will be added to trim next Spring.
  • 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} – my husband is good about this.  Me, not so much.
  • 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}

DSCN7336

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.)

Entrepreneurship

  • 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.) – I’ve started placing a box in the pantry and adding items to it as I come across them.  These are items I realize we don’t really like, need, want or use.  This has turned out to be easier than doing it room by room.

 

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:

Children:

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.  

DSCN8015

Personal:

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}

Marriage:

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

Homemaking:

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}

DSCN7336

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.)

Entrepreneurship

  • 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.

DSCN8010

Gardening:

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.

Apr 132013
 

Somehow I have forgotten to do these each month.  The last one I did was at the end of January.  Let’s see what has happened since then.

Here are my goals for 2013:

Children:

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.} – Update: my library redid their online system and all the books I had schedule ahead of time were deleted.  I need to go back and imput them again.  This has only made us a week or two behind where I wanted to be, so it isn’t a big deal.  I also may do this a bit different as I find I am paying a lot more in late fees due to the varying due dates.
  • Help kids learn to count to 50, without missing numbers – One kid can now count past 30 pretty easily and another can almost get to 20, though misses 13/14/15.
  • 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.} I stopped the reading lessons as it was not fun.  I need to look into something else and will pick it up again over the summer.
  • Have daily walks or times to explore outside I have been trying, but need to do better.  Our outside time has been more along the lines of “mommy needs to do outside work so we are all going to go outside.”

Encourage the kids to learn more about the Bible and God

  • Morning Bible Times during the week I have been forgetting more often than not. I still haven’t gotten a good morning routine down.  Between waking up, morning chores, getting ready, breakfast and the bus coming I just haven’t found our groove.  Summer will be here soon and I have higher hopes.
  • Memorized the Disciples’ names  This has been a lot harder than I thought.  Even harder than the New Testament books.  Any suggestions?
  • Help them memorize the books of the Old Testament by August  (about 6 per month) We haven’t even started these.

Encourage positive self-esteem

  • Teach oldest to ride a bike without training wheels
  • Swimming lessons
Encourage self-sufficiency
  • Assign 1 habit/chore per month for each kid to work on {ongoing}
  • 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.}

Personal:

Learn more about the Bible and God

  • Finish reading through the Bible (I’m over half way there)
  • Daily morning Bible (Quite) Times

Take better care of myself

  • Run in a 5K {I’ve started walking several times a week to work my way up to this.}
  • Get at least 8 hours rest
  • Play/practice my instrument weekly (it has been over 8 years since I played it.)
  • Create a book list for myself. Read three books per month
  • Journal 3 x weekly
  • Try new things – Grow {ongoing}

Marriage:

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}

Homemaking:

Create a schedule that works for the household

  • See “encouraging self-sufficiency” under the children’s section above, as well as my goal of getting8 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 binder, try 24 new recipes
  • 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
  • Replace siding on house
  • 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.)

Entrepreneurship

  • 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.)

Gardening:

Preserve produce for upcoming year

  • Can 60 quarts of crushed tomatoes
  • Put up 77 quarts of tomato sauce
  • Can 52 quarts of beets
  • Grow, and freeze, 12 sandwiches bags of green onions.  Freeze their stems separately.
  • 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
  • Make raised beds deeper
  • Convert or build raised bed for strawberries
  • Create a herb container garden
  • Create trellis for beans under kitchen window
  • 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

 

I was able to mark off several more things this time than perviously.  I’m really glad to see that result as I was afraid I hadn’t done anything.  It does seem obvious that there are holes in what I am doing and perhaps I need to refocus energy on those areas.  Or perhaps I should finish goals in one area before moving on.

Feb 282013
 

Favorite gardening book of the month:

 

Favorite non-gardening books of the month:

 

Twenty-Five Cent Dinners for Families of Six

Yes, this is an older book.  It was written in the late 1800’s and was actually the author’s second book on the subject.  After writing “Fifteen Cent Dinners for Families of Six” the author found that some readers were a bit more well off but still not wealthy.  These readers were interested in being good at pinching pennies but had a bit more leeway in their budgets.  They could afford a few more indulgences, like coffee and tea with their meals.

I really enjoyed reading this book, not only for some money saving ideas and recipes (though I’ll pass on the brain and ___ pudding), but also for some of the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Currently reading:

 

Read this month:

Feeding Wild Birds with Garden Plants: 3 (Specialty Garden Series) [Kindle Edition] by Dave Sandersfeld

I so wanted to like this book. However, it only took a few pages to get the feeling that I was missing something.  I even went back and read the brief description of the book and checked the title page to make sure it all lined up.  The format just did not work for me.  There were too many quotes, links to other websites, and the beginning felt more like an advertisement for becoming an environmentist than a book on feeding birds.  I stuck it out hoping it would get better.  

Near the end I finally found what I was looking for – a list of plants and their benefits for birds.  There were several in the list that I hadn’t thought of planting for birds.  Once I thought of them, though, they made sense.  There were also a few that I would shy away from, but I tend to like natives more than non-native plants.  Even if those plants are not invasive.  I’m not a purist, so don’t check the landscaping in my  yard, but natives are my preferences. 

In the end, I’m not sure I would recommend this book if you are wanting a reference book.  It is not a bad read if you are starting out and wondering why anyone would want to feed bird.  Or even if you are just being introduced to the idea.

 

 

 

 

The How to Book on Creating a Beautiful Container Garden: The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Container Garden all will Envy / The Planting in Pots System … to Plant in Pots & How to Plant in Pots)

This was a quick read, at least for me.  A lot of the science was stuff I knew but didn’t necessarily know how to apply to containers.  Jonah seemed to cover all the topics well, with recommendations and comparisons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Make and Freeze Recipes (Eat Better For Less Guides)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simple Hearty Soups from the Stockpot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Simple Tips To Declutter Your Basement: From Cluttered to Clean (Happy House Series)

 

5 Simple Tips To Declutter Your Basement: From Cluttered to Clean (Happy House Series) [Kindle Edition]

This is more of a booklet than a full fledged book of 100+ pages.  In other words, it took me about 30 minutes to read through it, not several days.  The tips reminded me a lot of tips I’ve read elsewhere, just used in reference to your basement.  I liked the first question asked, “Exactly what do you want to accomplish?”  Basements are as varied as the people who own them.  They are used for different things, and even that can change over time. Knowing where you want to end up will help you start heading in the right direction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kitchen Organization Made Easy: Creative Kitchen Storage and Pantry Storage Solutions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ready or Not (Aggie's Inheritance)

 

Ready or Not (Aggie’s Inheritance) by Chautona Havig

This was a reread from last month.  I enjoyed going through it again as I was able to pick up on some details I missed the first time.  I also realized that I laughed at the same funny moments.  Am I really that predictable?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Keeps (Aggie's Inheritance)

 

For Keeps (Aggie’s Inheritance) by Chautona Havig

As with the first book in this series, this was a reread.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here We Come (Aggie’s Inheritance) [Kindle Edition] by Chautona Havig

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listen for the Donkey Bells

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brother Enemy (Promise of Zion #4)

Feb 272013
 

Confessions Of A Homeschooler is offering a webinar, with Amy McCready, for the evening of March 6.  The topic?  “Get Kids to Listen Without Nagging!”

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one out there who could benefit from a talk like this.  Well, apparently I”m not, because there is a talk on this topic and there wouldn’t be if I was the only one dealing with it.  =)  I”m looking forward to learning a few tips and perhaps solve some of the issues I’m seeing as of late.  And, yes, I’m pretty sure it is something I’m doing wrong.  Just trying to keep it honest here.

If you would like to attend you will need to RSVP on the Confessions Of A Homeschooler website.  “See” you there!

Feb 062013
 

February is a few days old and I feel like time is just flying by.  I have been working on several different goals and feeling like the days are just full.  This is probably due to me trying to play catch-up and get-ahead at the same time.  Even with that, I am happy to see that some progress has been made.  Several of the goals are ongoing.

Here are my goals for 2013:

Children:

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.}
  • Help kids learn to count to 50, without missing numbers {We have been working on some of the lower numbers they are missing.  They may be able to count to 30, but it doesn’t help if they miss 15 and 23.}
  • 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.}
  • Have daily walks or times to explore outside {We have been walking to the gym several times a week instead of driving.  It may be cold outside, but the walk is only a couple blocks long and they enjoy getting to run.}

Encourage the kids to learn more about the Bible and God

  • Morning Bible Times during the week {ongoing. I’ve been trying to do these, even if it is only for a few minutes after breakfast.}
  • Memorized the Disciples’ names  {We have daily been singing a song to help learn these.}
  • Help them memorize the books of the Old Testament by August  (about 6 per month)

Encourage positive self-esteem

  • Teach oldest to ride a bike without training wheels
  • Swimming lessons
Encourage self-sufficiency
  • Assign 1 habit/chore per month for each kid to work on {ongoing}
  • 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.}

Personal:

Learn more about the Bible and God

  • Finish reading through the Bible (I’m over half way there)
  • Daily morning Bible (Quite) Times

Take better care of myself

  • Run in a 5K {I’ve started walking several times a week to work my way up to this.}
  • Get at least 8 hours rest
  • Play/practice my instrument weekly (it has been over 8 years since I played it.)
  • Create a book list for myself. Read three books per month {Posted about Books Read in January.  My current reading list is all the book on my Kindle.}
  • Journal 3 x weekly
  • Try new things – Grow

Marriage:

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}

Homemaking:

Create a schedule that works for the household

  • See “encouraging self-sufficiency” under the children’s section above, as well as my goal of getting8 hours of rest each night
  • Focus on one habit a month {I didn’t have time to think about this in January, but have started doing this in February.}
  • Plan meals – menu plan on a monthly basis, do freezer cooking for 3 months at a time of at least 14 meals, organize recipe binder, try 24 new recipes
  • 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 {current project}
  • Repaint porch
  • Replace siding on house
  • 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
  • Skype at least once a week with my nephew
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)
  • Create a blog schedule with certain days having themes (Menu Plan Monday, etc.)

Entrepreneurship

  • 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.)

Gardening:

Preserve produce for upcoming year

  • Can 60 quarts of crushed tomatoes
  • Put up 77 quarts of tomato sauce
  • Can 52 quarts of beets
  • Grow, and freeze, 12 sandwiches bags of green onions.  Freeze their stems separately.
  • 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
  • Make raised beds deeper
  • Convert or build raised bed for strawberries
  • Create a herb container garden
  • Create trellis for beans under kitchen window
  • 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
Feb 032013
 

 

Last week’s goals:

  1. I have spent 5 minutes each day clearing off the hotspots in the kitchen, dealing with the paper clutter and straightening the basement. – Because of how the week played out, I didn’t spend time everyday doing these.  Instead, I did larger blocks of time a few times during the week. It works out to 35 minutes in each area. Same results, just a different way of getting there.  Sometimes you  have to take life as it comes.
  2. I have made my bed each day, and swish and swiped the bathroom 2 times.
  3. I have vacuumed the rugs and swept the floor in the main rooms 2 times and swept the floors in the bedrooms once.
  4. I have posted four items for sale online. – two items were posted on PaperBackSwap.
  5. I have decluttered 14 objects (not counting papers).
  6. I have ordered seeds, strawberry plants and blueberry bushes. – I may not have ordered them, but I have selected the type of strawberries and blueberries I want, and decided to also order blackberries.
  7. I have spent 15 minutes each day reading with the kids. – Once I realized I didn’t have to do the 15 minutes with everyone at once, but just when it worked for us, this went easier
  8. I have gone to bed by 9: 30 each night and gotten up at 5:30 a.m. – this didn’t happen every night, but did happen several days.  I loved having some time in a quiet house before everyone woke up.
  9. I have finished writing February’s monthly goals.
  10. I have mailed written and mailed two notes of encouragement
Not only did we spend time reading together, but I was also able to request books for the upcoming months from the library.  I talked about doing so and working towards my yearly goals of encouraging learning by reading aloud in a post last week.  There are books scheduled till at least May for all the kids.  One has them requested out as far as August.
This week’s goals:
  1. I have spent 5 minute each day (or 35 minutes total) clearing off the hotspots in the kitchen, dealing with paper clutter, and straightening the basement.
  2. I have swish and swiped the bathroom 2 times, vacuumed the rugs and swept the floor in the main areas 2 times, swept the floors in the bedrooms once.
  3. I have ordered seeds, strawberry plants, blackberry plants and blueberry bushes.
  4. I have spent 15 minutes each day reading with the kids.
  5. I have gotten 8 hours of sleep each night.
  6. I have finished writing February’s monthly goals.
  7. I have mailed two notes of encouragement.
  8. I have cleared the kitchen every night after supper.
  9. I have buried kitchen scraps in the dirt of my side bed (under my kitchen window).
  10. I have processed all the apples – either chopped or made into jelly.

I tried a new apple muffin recipe this week and it turned out great.  There are still about 10 pounds of apples to process for the freezer.  I am also going to use the cores and peels to make jelly.  These are apples left over from last fall and which have been stored in our cool garage.  They really need to be used up by this point but I do NOT need more apple butter.

Last week’s list seemed to be thrown off by Sunday afternoon.  I actually didn’t think I would get it even half way accomplished, but am happy with what did get accomplished. The outlook for this week looks even better.

Do you have trouble accomplishing your weekly goals?  What usually sidetracks you or makes you stumble?

Jan 292013
 

 

Part of my Yearly Goals for 2013 included “Encouraging Learning”.  Our ages at home currently include preschoolers.  They are sponges when it comes to learning things, though they don’t always grasp difficult concepts.  One way I hope to accomplish this goal is by reading aloud 8 books per month to the kids.  (They look at or read additional books on their own, both from home and from ones they find at the library.)

To achieve this part of the goal I first created reading lists.  This is one of the things in life that you don’t need to spend a huge amount of time on.  A simple search resulted in places where people have already done the searching for me.  You may want to determine what sort of reading lists you want, which would also help define your list.  I chose to use two lists to combined to make our reading list.

The first was from Ambleside Online.  They have recommended reading lists for a variety of different years.  As this is a homeschooling site, they go by years rather than ages.

The second was a list that Simply Charlotte Mason had put together.  Their list is arranged by ages. (On a personal note, this decision was made after reading a few frivolous books.  I got tired of reading them over and over and feeling like I was wasting my brain cells.  The kids also wouldn’t listen to the whole story before getting bored.)

You might also choose Newbery Medal winners, or best sellers, or a theme.  There is no “right” way to choose books to read, so use what works for you.

The reading lists were combined by ages.  Next I divided each list into groups of books.  This way I have the 8 books already chosen, by selecting the appropriate number of groups.  Sometimes I may select more from one list than another, especially if I come across a series of books I just don’t care for.  This has already happened and resulted in us skipping about three books on the one list.  We have also already read some of the books on the list, so we skip over those.

Last week, while requesting a few of these books from our library’s network of libraries system, I saw that I could schedule requests to go in at future dates.  This meant I could request book for April, for example, but the requests would not be submitted till the date I entered.  My whole year just got easier for this goal.  I entered all the books I wanted to read.  The request dates were then set so that about 8 were requested for every month, or 4 for every two weeks.  I know some books won’t be available exactly when we want them, so some months I may have 10 books to read or 5 books.  However, overall it should even out.

 

How are your goals for the year going?  What strides have you made in accomplishing one of them?

Jan 242013
 

 

On Tuesday I posted about this past year and some of the things from this blog that stood out to me.  It was the first year for this blog and an interesting walk down memory lane.  It is amazing where it first started and where it is now.

Crystal, from MoneySavingMom, often says that public accountability does wonders for her.  I used to say, “It doesn’t work for me.  I only need personal accountability.  Whether people know I reached my goal or not doesn’t matter to me.”  However, now I disagree.  While putting together the links for the “2012 in Review” and remembering where I was this time last year, I do feel like I’ve grown because of writing out my goals in a place for others to see.   This growth has been both in gardening and non-gardening areas.

Over the course of last year, I realized how many of my goals, whether weekly or yearly, I had never actually said out loud to someone.  Posting them on here has been great for me, in that it created a place to write them down and review at the end of the week what got accomplished.  I know I am not always the best at this, but I am better than I used to be.  This is also one area I hope to improve on this year.  I have read through several books this past year, and even since 2013 has begun, which talk about planning or organizing your day.  These have included books such as:  21 Days To A More Disciplined Life, Attack Your Day, and 52 Mondaysicon.

I also subscribe to FlyLady’s daily emails, which help keep me going in the right direction, even if I don’t always get my list of tasks completed.  I like lists.  I like marking things off a list, even if I added it just so I could mark it off. (Thankfully the kids haven’t learned this yet when I say, while in the grocery store, “It’s not on the list, so we can’t get it this time.”)

Attack Your Day is actually a book I’m currently reading.  I may not be a fan of the writing style of the book, but I really like the direction it is going.  They describe what I call “planning backwards” much better than I have in the past.  They put it so clearly that it made me take a second look at the upcoming year.  My 2013 Yearly Goals list was made up when I started reading this book.  However, I decided to restructure the list after realizing that what I needed was to define my overarching goals.  The list had started to get very detailed, which is not what I wanted for the Yearly Goals list.  I plan on saving those for my Monthly and Weekly Goals.  If all the small details were put on the main list, then I could very easily see myself getting overwhelmed and lost in the non-important things.

By changing the layout I decided to give myself general goals (in bold) for each section.  These were then followed up with more detailed ways I could accomplish that goals.  After doing this I realized the reasoning behind several smaller goals was a similar larger goal that I was actually working towards.  So while the smaller goals were nice to work towards, if I missed the forest for the trees then I would have been disappointed with the results.

With all of that said, here is my revised 2013 Yearly Goals list.

Children:

Encourage learning

  • Read aloud 8 books per month from Reading List
  • Help kids learn to count to 50, without missing numbers
  • Teach the oldest to read, or try to
  • Have daily walks or times to explore outside

Encourage the kids to learn more about the Bible and God

  • Morning Bible Times during the week
  • Memorized the Disciples’ names
  • Help them memorize the books of the Old Testament by August  (about 6 per month)

Encourage positive self-esteem

  • Teach oldest to ride a bike without training wheels
  • Swimming lessons
  • Assign 1 habit/chore per month for each kid to work on
  • Keep up with former habits

Personal:

Learn more about the Bible and God

  • Finish reading through the Bible (I’m over half way there)
  • Daily morning Bible (Quite) Times

Take better care of myself

  • Run in a 5K
  • Get at least 8 hours rest
  • Play/practice my instrument weekly (it has been over 8 years since I played it.)
  • Create a book list for myself. Read three books per month
  • Journal 3 x weekly
  • Try new things – Grow

Marriage:

Stay connected

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

Homemaking:

Create a schedule that works for the household

  • See “encouraging self-sufficiency” under the children’s section above, as well as my goal of getting8 hours of rest each night
  • Focus on one habit a month
  • Plan meals – menu plan on a monthly basis, do freezer cooking for 3 months at a time of at least 14 meals, organize recipe binder, try 24 new recipes
  • Read 4 books on organization, scheduling, or setting goals

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

  • De-wallpaper and paint upstairs
  • Repaint porch
  • Replace siding on house
  • 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
  • Skype at least once a week with my nephew
Encourage those around me
  • Write at least two handwritten notes every month to encourage someone

Stand/Blogging/Other Income Sources:

Create a schedule

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

Entrepreneurship

  • Earn money each month in Amazon gift cards (from Swagbucks, Bing and surveys)
  • 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.)

Gardening:

Preserve produce for upcoming year

  • Can 60 quarts of crushed tomatoes
  • Put up 77 quarts of tomato sauce
  • Can 52 quarts of beets
  • Grow, and freeze, 12 sandwiches bags of green onions.  Freeze their stems seperately.
  • 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
  • Make raised beds deeper
  • Convert or build raised bed for strawberries
  • Create a herb container garden
  • Create trellis for beans under kitchen window
  • 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

 

This list is definantly going to be out of my comfort zone. There is a lot on here that I would love to accomplish, but don’t know if I have the courage to work towards.  The last goal in Gardening for example – “redo garden layout” scares me.  “What if I mess something up?  What if I fail at getting a good crop for all the effort?  What if …?  What if …?  What if ….?”  For those reasons alone I almost left that goal off.  I even went as far as trying to talk myself out of it.  However, if that would have happened I knew I would be unhappy all year.  I don’t want to be unhappy (about these particular aspects of my garden) for another year.  That is one great lesson my front flower bed redo taught me.  “Stop whining and just do it!”  So that goal was added.

Have you thought about the upcoming year?  Are there any themes or main goals you would like to work towards?  Are you already working towards them?

 

Note: Post contains affiliate links.