Thursday, December 01, 2016

My Healthy Goal For December

Every December, I try to make an effort to prepare more simple and nutritious meals to offset the extra candy, cookies and junk (albeit yummy junk!), we inevitably consume during the holiday season.

Recently, I've noticed some health issues that I've been having. After doing some research, I've concluded that these symptoms could very likely be due to not drinking enough water. And I will admit that I've gotten slack on drinking enough water--some days only drinking 1-2 water bottles full!

My goal for December, in addition to eating reasonably well, is to drink enough water each day. I read somewhere a long time ago that we should drink half of our weight in ounces. So if a person is 150 pounds, they would drink 75 ounces of water each day. Makes sense to me and is a great goal to work towards!

This will be a challenge....especially at work, when bathroom breaks are few and far between. Just keeping it real, folks! But I'm willing to give it a try for the whole month to see how it affects my general health and well-being!
My favorite Lifefactory water bottle!

December is here. Let's end the year on a healthy note!

Friday, October 28, 2016

McGalliard Falls

On our way home from getting apples a couple weekends ago, we made a stop in Valdese, NC at McGalliard Falls.

Andy spent several of his growing up years around that area and fondly remembers visiting McGalliard Falls. He has wanted to take me there for quite some time but for one reason and another, it never quite worked out to go until now.

It was a beautiful morning! And very quiet except for a few other visitors, including two photo shoots.

We took the short hike to the falls, sat on the rocks by the stream and just enjoyed God's beauty and the lovely fall weather!

McGalliard Falls is not a huge falls and a fairly small park but still a nice little day trip if you are close. There's a picnic area and lots of wide open spaces for the littles to explore!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Applesauce Week

Last week was quiet in this space as I was spending my mornings making applesauce!

We made a quick trip to the mountains the weekend before and purchased 4 bushels of apples. 

In years past, I've calculated that one bushel of apples yields approximately 13 quart of applesauce. We go through 40-50 quart in a year's time. So 4 bushels of apples= 52 quart. Seemed simple. Some years I purchase 5 bushel of apples because I also make several batches of apple butter. But we still have plenty of apple butter on the shelf so I was just planning to make applesauce this year.

Well...I got a new sauce maker this year ( Yay for birthday and Christmas money!) and it is so much more efficient, cranking out the applesauce much more quickly. Plus I don't have to core the apples; just wash, quarter and cut off any bad spots. 

I did 1 bushel of apples each morning. The first day I was pleasantly surprised to end up with 20 quart of applesauce from just 1 bushel! The next 2 bushels yielded 21 quart each. 

The applesauce with the new sauce maker is a bit finer consistency and a little thinner but I'm good with that! 

Needless to say, 3 bushels gave us 62 quart of applesauce (60 quart canned) so  we should be good to go for the next year and possibly longer than that since it keeps longer than 1 year and I still have a few jars of applesauce left from last year! 

So since the 4th bushel doesn't need to be made into applesauce to can, we've been eating apples fresh, I'll make a batch of applesauce to eat fresh plus some apple pies to freeze. I may even make a few other fun things with them! 

We thank God for His bountiful provision!

For past apple sauce making posts:

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Anne Of Green Gables

Can you believe that I never liked the Anne Of Green Gables series?

I tried to read them when I was young and couldn't "get into them". Too much flowery speech and too small of print, probably.

Recently, I saw Anne Of Green Gables on my shelf and decided to give it another try.

And I am so glad I did!

The book took me over a week to read--reading a few pages each night--but held my attention from beginning to end. It was so enjoyable and the characters so relatable and loveable. And so quotable too!

And upon reading the last page, I immediately wanted to read the next book! That's the sign that I really enjoyed a book.

I need to check and make sure the library has Anne Of Avonlea...

"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. 
It would be terrible if we just skipped 
from September to November, wouldn't it?" 
--L.M Montgomery

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Clean On Tuesday

Continuing with revamping my homemaking schedule...

After determining that Monday would be my main Laundry Day, I chose to clean the house on Tuesday.

The main reason for choosing Tuesday was that I really do not care that much for cleaning. {However, I do love a house that has been cleaned. Just saying.}

There are things in life that are not our favorites but still need to be done!

I knew if I left housecleaning until Friday or Saturday, it would be more likely to not get done. I try to clean earlier in the week and then do a little more as needed toward the end. 

On Cleaning Day, I focus on very basic cleaning. I clean the bathrooms, dust, vacuum, clean kitchen surfaces, etc. My goal is to complete the basic cleaning in 2 hours or less. I don't always manage that but it is a goal. If surfaces have become cluttered, it takes longer. I try to put things away each day which helps Cleaning Day to run more smoothly.

Typically, the tasks are broken down something like this:
  • Clean bathrooms--20-30 minutes for both using this method
  • Dust--maybe 15 minutes? 
  • Vacuum all floors--this takes a good 30 minutes for hardwood floors and carpet. 
  • Clean kitchen: sinks, counters, microwave, wipe down all appliances--at least 30 minutes.
  • Windows and mirrors--as needed. I estimate about 15 minutes spent on these. 

Any deep cleaning or organizing is done in other small pockets of time throughout the week. 

Vacuuming floors and cleaning kitchen surfaces are done multiple times each week. 

I know there are some who are surprised that our house gets dirty with only two adults living in it. But it does! Someone is home almost all the time, we cook and eat most of our meals at home, we wear shoes in the house and we have a dog. In other words, we really do a lot of living in our home! 

Cleaning Day is one of my least favorite but such a great feeling to work a couple of hours and have a fresh smelling and sparkling clean house at the end! 

One thing that makes cleaning more enjoyable is using a cleaning product that smells nice! My current favorite is Mrs. Meyer's Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner in the Basil scent. This cleaner can be used for many surfaces in our home. I like that it actually works and is a cleaner I can safely use and not have respiratory problems the rest of the day. (Unlike when I use most chemical cleaners.)

Tell me about your cleaning schedule. What are your favorite cleaners to use? 

Friday, October 07, 2016

Frugal Five

Some frugal stuff happening around here lately....

1. I saw a bunch of Mason jars in the glass receptacle where we take our trash. I asked the attendants if I could take some. He said, "Yes!" So I took what fit in my bag--14 jars in all. Perfectly good condition and will be used here! I didn't think we were typically allowed to take out of the containers but it doesn't hurt to ask!

2. Mended some clothing and home items.

3. Accepted some wonderful home items from family members who are down-sizing. Items included a beautiful Oriental-style rug and an old dresser.
Rock approves of the new rug!

4. Used the library inter-loan system to request and borrow books I wanted to read. Also, I'm re-reading some books already on my bookshelf.

5. We've been eating at home a lot which is nothing new but continues to be a HUGE money-saver. We utilize leftovers for lunches so very little is wasted.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Fall Porch

Nothing like a home study visit to motivate me to clean up our porch and give it a fresh look for the fall season!

Aldi had mums for $2.99 and other plants for $4.50 so I bought a couple things to inexpensively add some pretty. A few pumpkins from the farm market instantly added some fall flavor! 

Almost anything looks better than pots overgrown with weeds...ahem! 

A good sweep of the porch, a quick wipe down for the table and chairs and some glass cleaner on the door and everything was looking fresher and more homey! 

Our wreath has been up for a couple of years and needs a refreshing so I took it down and made this little decoration from burlap, an embroidery hoop and a black Sharpie--all items I had on hand! 

Looking at the clean porch and touches of fall puts a smile on my face! 

Happy fall, y'all! 

Monday, October 03, 2016

Wash On Monday

In the past few months, I've been making a conscious effort to streamline some of my household tasks. I had gotten off track so it was time to get things done again!

One area I revamped was laundry. Over the years, I've tried different laundry schedules and all have worked for those seasons.

Previously, I was doing a load of laundry pretty much each day. Which worked well and I really like doing laundry. But I did feel that we wore the same clothes all the time because they were clean. That isn't a problem but I think they do wear out faster that way! Also, it just seemed to make better sense to do laundry a little less often during this season.

I decided to go back to the old-fashioned way of doing things and have a Laundry Day. Now I do laundry on Monday morning. Because I really like doing laundry, I look forward to this day. Really. I do.

I sort the clothes Sunday night when we get home from our church leadership meeting if I'm organized. If not, I sort in the morning. But it really does help speed things along if I can get everything sorted the night before and a load of towels/kitchen linens soaking in the wash machine.

I know some folks don't sort laundry. I am not particular about it and I do mix up colors from time to time. But I still like to sort.  However, this step takes very little time and I find it easier to wash certain things together.

I don't usually hand wash but I have some maxi skirts and camis that I always put in a mesh bag to wash. I have one bag so I empty it after washing and refill with the delicates from the next load. I set these items to the side of the pile when sorting so I can wash them in the bag. Things in the mesh bag also don't go into the dryer so that is a good way to not accidentally dry something I shouldn't.

On Wash Day, I start the first load as soon as I get up then just keep it moving throughout the morning. I'm usually done with laundry by around 10 am. 

Anything that doesn't go in the dryer gets hung on the shower rod and drying rack in our 2nd bathroom. It's out of the way and then I just fold and put away those items either that evening or the next morning. 

I usually do a load or two of laundry on Thursdays if we need anything and also to keep towels/kitchen cloths from setting too long and getting stinky. Sheets and dog bedding are usually washed later in the week too. 

Overall, having a designated Laundry Day has been a positive change to my homemaking schedule! 

What is your laundry style? 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

This Week's Menu

I took a few minutes to sit down and write out this week's menu so I thought I'd share with you! We've been shopping twice a month so all grocery items are already in the house. I just had to assign days to meals I'd already planned and add sides and such.  

  1. Crockpot Meatloaf, rice, fresh green beans, sauteed zucchini and yellow squash
  2. Pasta Salad with grilled chicken, deviled eggs, fruit
  3. Mexican Chicken Skillet, rice, cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips
  4. Beef & Veggie Skillet, zoodles (zucchini noodles), roasted sweet potatoes
  5. Crustless Pizza Pie, fresh veggies with dip
  6. Hot dogs, baked beans, pickles, fresh veggies, chips
  7. Leftovers
Lunches-served with veggies and fruit
  1. Hot dogs
  2. Peanut butter sandwiches
  3. Salads
  4. Snack plate--salami, cheese, pickles, fruit, etc. 
  5. Leftovers x3 
  1. Egg casserole, melon (to share with our church fellowship)
  2. Leftover egg casserole, toast, melon
  3. Smoothie, zucchini bread (w/ chocolate chips!), hard boiled eggs
  4. Scrambled eggs with veggies
  5. Cereal, hard boiled eggs, fruit
  6. Bacon, eggs, toast
  7. Coconut flour waffles with blueberry syrup
It's been hot here so I'm trying not to use the oven too often! What are you eating this week?

Have a wonderful week, my friends!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Pretty Spring

My heart has been craving some slowing and enjoying of natural beauty.

These are some things I captured on a recent walk around the neighborhood. 

Proof that beauty isn't always perfect and can be seen and enjoyed even among the weeds and imperfections. 

Green. Color. Life. Spring.

**Bonus points if you spot the photo bomb. LOL!**

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Handmade Christmas: Kitty Bags

These kitty bags are the only handmade Christmas gifts that I made last year. But totally worth the time creating.

Due to my grandmother's passing in early December and that I was able to fly to Oregon for the funeral, my schedule for getting gifts finished and sent out got pushed back quite a bit. Thus I ended up spending a late night creating these bags the week of Christmas! 

A little background: Our two youngest nieces ( ages 6 and 11) love cats. I mean, really LOVE cats. I pinned these cat coasters a while back as inspiration for creating a bag or something for the girls. 

Side note: Many of my Pinterest pins are ideas or inspiration for something else, not just because I want to make an identical item. Although sometimes I do! 

Back in early 2015, I found a 2 pack of kitty knee socks on super clearance at Kohl's. I knew the nieces would love them. Sadly, I could only find one pack of  the socks. They wear the same size so I divided the package up with one pair for each girl. I also found in my gift drawer some Hello Kitty pencils and a cat hair clip I'd bought at a craft fair. I had a few other small items as well. 

All these items brought inspiration for a kitty-themed gift! 

I decided to make kitty bags to hold all the loot. I used some thrifted linen-ish fabric for the front of the bag and added lots of colorful scraps for the rest. Everything was from my stash and I just picked things out and used them as I went, no real pre-planning involved! I used the idea from the cat coaster tutorial  and just enlarged and then did the rest accordingly.

The backs of the bags were super fun to make. I created a patchwork design as I went. All the prints made me happy! 

The handles turned out extra long; my plan was long enough to be used as a crossbody bag. They were a little long for a child but can be tied in a knot at the shoulder to adjust a bit. 

Anyways, just wanted to share some handmade creative fun! This was a fun gift to make! And the girls liked them too.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Few Things For 2016

In my last post, I wrote a little about the doozy of a year that 2015 was for us.

I am always eager for a new year. January always feels clean and bright to me. New. Calm. Purposeful.

I tend to be all or nothing. So either I make all kinds of grandiose goals and crash and burn or I set no goals at all. Either way, not a whole lot of progress!

This year, I have a few areas I/we want to make some headway in so I'm writing them here as a way to remember.
  • Health. Returning to a lower carb diet. For us, that means ditching most wheat and sugar products. Losing the extra pounds that have crept on this year. Simple whole foods meals.  Regular exercise. Learning more about natural remedies and ways to boost health.
  • Frugality. Staying within my grocery budget on a weekly/monthly basis. Using some coupons to save extra on food and household items. Saving as much as we can to bump our emergency savings back up to a reasonable amount after a costly 2015. Continuing to save for our adoption. Revamping the budget to allow for extra baby expenses when the time comes. 
  • Organizing. Cleaning, organizing and decluttering the house before baby. I started this in 2015 and continue to do a little at a time. Turning the guest room into a nursery. Get rid of extra stuff we don't need to make room for baby gear. Make some freezer meals each month to create a small stash for when baby comes. (Not knowing when the baby will come makes this planning part tricky. My mindset is to do what I can and not sweat the rest. It will all work out!)
  • Being more home-centered. I worked a lot of hours away from home in 2015. While this was a blessing financially, being away from home so much has taken it's toll. I will not be taking on as many extra hours this year as a way to create some breathing room and allow me to focus more fully on what we feel my greatest priorities are and should be at this time. 
What are you focusing on this year? 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

2015: The Year Of Very Few Posts

2015 was not my best blogging year, to say the least.

There are many reasons for this but the biggest one is that 2015 was. a. year. There was good. There was not as good. It was crazy. It was wonderful. It was overwhelming at times. It was exhausting most of the time.

With my Grandma. July 2015.

  • Andy's grandfather(92) passed away in January. My grandmother (94) passed away in December. I also lost 2 great-aunts and 2 great-uncles this year. 
  • We began the adoption process informally in January and formally in March. Our home study began in July and finished up in August. We received notification of approval in October. We are officially a waiting family--our next step is to be chosen by a birth mother to parent her child. 
  • We went to Oregon to visit family in July. I went again for Grandma's funeral in December. 
  • We had 3 yard sale fundraisers for our adoption. Three! Many people donated household items to sell and all proceeds went into our adoption fund. It was a blessing and each sale was a rousing success but by the last one--let's just say we were more than happy to let Goodwill have the leftovers!
  • I worked a LOT of extra hours in 2015. A blessing, yes. I believe I worked more full-time hours than not.
  • We kept our car mechanic in business during the summer. There was a day or two where both vehicles were in the shop at the same time. Crazy! 
  • At the same time, we got good use out of our AAA membership. You know it's bad when the towing company recognizes your name immediately and asks "Where to this time?" 
  • We did lots of paperwork. Hello, adoption!
  • I've met lots of wonderful adoptive moms. Some are in process just like we are. 
  • We didn't do any home projects this year. We didn't garden. There's a reason there were no follow-ups to my Lasagna Gardening post--there was no follow-up! Ha! We hardly even went to the Farmer's Market this year. It was definitely a year of survival!
  • We saw God's hand in our lives in a powerful way. We have felt His Presence. We have seen Him move mightily in not only our lives but the lives around us. 
  • And that, my friends, is why we can face 2016 with hope and confidence. Because God (Immanuel) is with us! 
Christmas at our house.