Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Etsy shop sale!

I am offering a 10% discount in my etsy shop, from December 30th, until January 9th. Use coupon code newyear2011.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Back up!

Well, I was lucky enough to get an early present of a new computer from my mom. So even though both of my old computers are still gone, I am now back up and blogging! I am quite happy, and hope to share lots with you this week. For now, some links...

Help Others This Holiday

Compassion Child Survival Program

Unicef Gifts to Save Lives

Simplify this Season

Jill Savage at K-Love

Frugal Christmas Decorations at Passionate Homemaking

I hope that this ideas can bless your holiday season.


Monday, December 13, 2010

It's been awhile...

I cannot believe I haven't posted in almost a month! I have been offline for a few weeks now, as my computer crashed! I have had to bounce around on family's computers to finish my school work, which is now finally done! I still have no access at home, though, so I expect to be scarce here for the next week or so :( 

For the holiday season, I would like to focus on some of the charities that I am supporting here. Please go thru the links to learn more. I hope to share some information on them myself once I am back up and running.

Hoping your season is merry,

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On My New Path

As I have shared, I feel moved to take this blog on a different path than the one it has been geared towards. I hope to share more about my journey through my faith, and some information I hope can bless you in your life. I have said that this decision has been difficult for me. By nature, I do not like to share very personal things, and talking about my faith especially is hard since I am so new to it. I do not feel completely capable in giving advice. When I read Titus 2, I wish to be like the younger woman who is able to have mentors! However, I feel that I have grown ever so slightly, and am working towards the future. One of my favorite scriptures is Philippians 3:16-

"Only let us live up to what we have already attained."

So, I plan on talking more about my faith (though I will not ignore the posting on homeschooling, organizing, and homemaking!) I will try to post with a minimum of apologies for my possible ignorance on a topic, and use as much scripture as I can. This way, where I am wrong you will have the benefit of God's infallible Word.

Thank you for walking this new path with me.

I am happy to share this at WFMW.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

a change again...

...away from the previous path. I decided to not continue the re-posting of my 30 days series. I did not feel that it was flowing with the new direction I am trying to take this blog. I will still post the new holiday ideas, in a "Holiday Help" mini-series to premiere after Thanksgiving. Also, still look foward to new recipes, which I will be sharing at Authentic Homemade starting this week.

I do apologize for not following through, I hope that you can understand. There are not many new ideas to share for the series, but I feel like I have many plans in the spirit of the new path I hope to take MAHM to. In this line, I will be introducing some new things through December, leading up to what I hope is an exicitng new year here.

Thank you for sharing this time with me.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Making a gift-giving plan

originally posted November 2009

I have posted this early for those of you who do your gift preparations sooner rather than later. Although not the reason for the season, gift-giving is an integral part of our society's holiday celebrations. This can cause a major amount of stress if you're not careful. Especially considering the economy, which has probably reduced your holiday budget considerably, now it is more important than ever to

Make a Gift-Giving Plan

This one tip will make the season more enjoyable and relaxing. There are three easy points I recommend following:

  • Start with a budget- allotting a certain amount for each person and commit to not going over this amount. This alone helped my stress levels so much, knowing that I could work harder to find a simple gift that would actually have meaning; rather than just buying what seemed like a great gift but was actually just plain pricey.

  • Start writing down ideas now- whether you're planning homemade gifts or store-bought. This way, if you find a great deal at the store on something that would make a good gift, you can buy it. Likewise, for homemade gifts you'll have a way to make a timeline so you won't be making everything last minute.

  • Start getting a gift area prepared- a place to keep everything organized. I just started this last year, in a desperate attempt to save myself from Christmas Eve-itis. You know, the thing only men are supposed to have- the syndrome where on Christmas Eve (or at 5:30 am on Christmas Day) you're still wrapping gifts. Avoid this at all costs- store/hide all gifts in the same area, and get out all your gift-wrapping paraphernalia and put it there too. Paper, boxes, tape, scissors, ribbons- all in one place, all with your gifts. Doesn't that sound nice?

I am happy to share this at Homemaker Monday, come back tomorrow for more great holidays tips!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Holiday System Day 6 - menu planning

This originally posted November 2009.

For me, the holidays are about one main thing... besides the family, friends and faith I've already talked about here... FOOD. If you follow along here, you'll have noticed that food is a major part of my life. The holidays are all about dinners, special family recipes, and cookies (yum!) The importance of these meals can be overwhelming, but this only means you have a great opportunity to
De-stress with Meal Planning

Holiday menus are often traditional, and troublesome. Family members who insist on certain dishes, friends with special dietary needs, and finally your own tight budget... What can be done to bring these different points together and allow you to have an easy, stress free season? Plan it out!

The meal on the holiday (either Thanksgiving or Christmas) is something that most families have a set way of doing. This doesn't mean that you can never change anything, though. Plan on what dishes you all like, allowing for any dietary needs that anyone has. Figure out how much can reasonably be made. Take into account how many stove burners you have, how big your oven is, and how long each dish will take to prep and cook. Is there any sides that can be made mostly ahead of time? These will save you a lot of sanity when it's only 5 hours to Christmas dinner with your large extended family. Trust me.

If you will be entertaining guests for other dinners, plan ahead some easy meals. I love dishes that are either crockpot, one-pot, or completely make-ahead. I'll be sharing some of my favorite meals that fall into these categories over the next few weeks.

Holidays are meant to be enjoyable, and reflective- how can you focus on joy and faith when you're up to your neck in side-dish stress? Don't do this to yourself- plan ahead!
I am happy to share this post at Homemaker Monday, visit for lots of great ideas.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Holiday System Day 5 - scheduling tasks

Yesterday I posted on the importance of having a plan for both little details and big projects for the holidays. This will keep you on track. For instance, to keep a tight budget I make almost all of my holiday gifts. Some of these need time to develop, such as my flavored vinegars, pickles or mustard. It's important that I schedule these, I have to start them early so that they are finished in time to give as presents. Knowing when everything needs to be done is critical, so for today we will be

Putting A Schedule Together

I have told you how disorganized I am by nature- if I didn't write all my holiday tasks done I would be making sandwiches for Thanksgiving dinner! 

The simplest way to fit your tasks into a schedule is the same way you would with any other to-do list.

  1. First step- write in a due-date for each task: knowing the time when it needs to be accomplished will help you see which order things should be done in.
  2. Second- allot a certain amount of time for each task. If something is a multiple-day task, make sure to account for this. Examples might include decorating, visiting family or friends, and preparing dinner.
  3. Third step- put all the tasks into a schedule. I like using a monthly calendar for this, it allows you to see what is coming up for the next few weeks. Keeping one eye on the upcoming future is so important for sanity in the holiday season.

I hope these steps can help you simplify your planning (or just encourage you to plan if you're like me a few years ago!) Please share if you have any comments, questions or any advice of your own on holiday planning.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Holiday System Day 4 - plans...expanded

Today is a simple task- start filling out your holiday plan. Since this month we will cover Thanksgiving, we will focus on these tasks. Basically, you will be

Planning a Master To-do List

Think of all your tasks the way you would if you were writing a regular to-do list. I have heard this called "brain dumping" and I think the term applies well. Just grab a fresh paper (or word document) and start listing. Don't worry about editing- just get it all out. Big, time-consuming tasks (decorate, buy/ make all presents) and the small stuff (get stamps to mail cards, clean out guest rooms), it doesn't matter -put it all down.
Once you've written all your tasks down- relax! That's it- fitting these all into a schedule is a task for another day (namely, tomorrow.)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Holiday System Day 3- a plan

You'll see a recurring theme in today's post. I firmly believe in having a system for everything- and the more difficult or stressful a task is likely to be, the more I want my system. Put the holiday work on autopilot with

Your Holiday Season Plan

and this system will allow you to relax and enjoy the best parts of the season- family, friends, food and faith. oh yeah, and fun.

  1. I already talked about household binders, so again, it's no surprise that I make my plan right in my binder. That way I can just flip the pages and add every task in my plan to my weekly schedule. But no matter where you write it (or even type it) the most important thing is to just
  2. Start already! Stress around the holidays has one main cause: trying to fit 3 months worth of work into 1 or 2 weeks. This is just silly and unnecessary! Make a plan, even if at first it only includes where you'll be for the actual holiday. Slowly start writing in tasks you'll need to accomplish. I'll be covering this in more detail this week.
  3. Don't forget the extra details- a menu for holiday dinners, a timeline for gift-giving and all important in today's time: a budget. Do not let this fall through the crack or you will be kicking yourself come January. Trust me.

Your task- just write down the most basic of plans- even just one or two sentences. You can go back and flesh in the details over the next week or so. Remember yesterday's post- this is supposed to make the season more enjoyable, not less. And if you use it properly, and keep breathing, a system really will help- I promise.

This week will be filled with ideas on helping make a holiday season plan, so check back in.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Holiday System Day 2 - a focus

(This was originally posted in October 2009)

Thanks for joining us on our way to a happier holiday season. Stress is the opposite of the spirit of joy that should shine through this season. Unfortunately, it seems stress is unavoidable at the holidays- or is it? I always felt like it was just part of the whole package to be worried, anxious, and an all-around mess. Having my kids made me want the best holiday ever- the first year with Big Boy we went to three Christmas Eve parties, and three family houses on Christmas. Ahhh!

It was crazy- obviously- and made what should have been pleasant just overwhelming. The next two years I slowly moved away from the old way of doing things, and plan to continue in this path. My first tip for you is the simplest, and yet might be the most difficult to add into your life. Not a specific task, but a goal of focusing on what the holidays are meant to be about:

remember the meaning of the season

This time should be about family, friends, and faith- whatever your faith is personally. All traditions have a holiday (remember it means Holy Day) in this season. Thanksgiving is more secular but can be very close to your own faith, as it is a time for giving thanks. Gratitude is the way to happiness.

For this point I recommend writing down a Holiday Focus paper. Include what in your life is important in this season, what you have to be thankful for. If you follow a faith, what does it say about this holiday time? Maybe add a specific meditation or focus statement that will sum up the true meaning of the season for you.

I'd like to invite anyone who wants to include a comment on their holiday season focus. If you have a blog and want to write a post on this, feel free to include a link in the comments below. Sometimes sharing ideas with others can add an influence and strengthen your own focus.

Be sure to come back tomorrow for more.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

re-introducing... 30 days 'til the holidays... a system

I'm reposting my series from last year...

30 days 'til the holidays

This year there will be many brand-new tips on organizing, planning, and even more new recipes designed to get you ready for the holiday season. Just like last year, I will post once a day, Monday- Friday, for a month until Thanksgiving. I will share it again for the month from Thanksgiving- Christmas, and will include different recipes and tips each time!

I had so much fun with this last year, and the goal this year is the same... Having the holidays be stressful is upsetting, "but until the last two years when I had children, I thought it was inevitable. Well, it's not- even if you're a flaky disorganized mess by nature (like me!) The clue is to take it one step at a time, relax, and try to remember this time is supposed to by about enjoyment (and sharing joy, which grumpy, anxiety-ridden people don't do too well.)"

I hope you'll join me for this series. Tomorrow's post will be on how to remain focused on the true spirit of the holidays, even with all the responsibilities (ahem, stress). Here's to a great (and calm) holiday season!

Monday, October 25, 2010

my path to faith

This is a post I have been considering for some time. I felt called to share it, though this has been hampered my personal reluctance to not talk about things I know are going to bother people. Still, I feel that the time is right, so I will share a bit of how I came to my new faith.

After my second son was born, I was in the doctor’s office for his first check-up. (Disclaimer, the rest of this is not for unbelievers, you will laugh- though I wouldn’t blame you as I would have myself 2 years ago. You might just want to skip this.)

On the tv, there was the 700 club, the evangelical program. The show was on the section where they share miracles of faith healing. I will admit what was in my heart as I heard the speaker telling people to feel Christ healing them- complete derision. I remember thinking something like ‘right, maybe you- speaking to God here- should just heal my depression.’ I know- blasphemy! I had no belief and in fact was just about mocking and daring God. Little did I expect what happened next- I did in fact feel something. I could feel, just as the speaker was saying, the hand of Christ on me. I felt the pain I had in my shoulder, from a pinched nerve that I had struggled with for 7 years, disappear. I almost couldn’t get up when the nurse called me in because of my shock.

Now I know, this might sound absurd even to some believers out there. I will hold that I have been logical and scientific my whole life. I felt that we shouldn’t believe in things that couldn’t be proved. But possibly, what I will say next will shock you more. When this event happened, and I felt that I had been called through my disbelief and actual mocking of God himself, I did consider myself spiritual. I just wasn’t Christian. In fact, since I was 14 I had been a neo-pagan, a wiccan. Yes, you read that right.

Many would say that I had felt something that wasn’t real, but I know different. I know that I wouldn’t had felt something that wasn’t real, because I was the last person who would have expected on even wanted to feel that. I was perfectly happy with my religion, and had no desires to change. Now, over the last 1 ½ years I have changed. I wasn't really happy then, I just thought I was. I began this new path with much doubt and anxiety. God did not leave me in my faithlessness; instead I can tell you He kept drawing me to Him with a steady and understanding hand. When I questioned, He let me; when I complained, He remained there. In these most recent months I have felt called to share my path, that it might help even one person. I have had my relationship with Mr. Shelley, our boys, and in fact my entire outlook on life changed. Surely, things are not perfect, but I am grateful for the many blessings we have, and hope to share whatever I can, in God’s name to help where I can.

And, if you were wondering about my original request, though it was made wrongly, it seems it has been answered anyway. I have not been hampered my lifelong depression, and am so thankful now to be truly happy in the grace of God. May this bless you, also, and know that God is really there- (apparently even when you don’t believe) and He does really love.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Simplifying Your Kitchen

With the holiday season fast approaching, I am looking forward to a reprisal of my season preparation series. To get in the mood, I thought I would talk a bit about simplifying the most used (and most-visited) room in our homes, the kitchen. In the upcoming months, I am sure that there will be many hours spent cooking, whether for small family dinners or large holiday dinners. Let’s spend some time getting ready…

• Don’t try to clean the whole room in one day. Clean two cabinets, or a shelf in your pantry each day. This way it only takes 15 or 20 minutes a day, for one week and you’ll have it organized without burning out!

• Do use labels. I always thought this was silly, but here’s what happens if you don’t label each shelf… You will go away for a few days, or come down with a cold. And then someone else who doesn’t know your system will put things away in the wrong area, you won’t be able to find things for weeks. Trust me.

• Don’t mix things up all over the place. Assign one cabinet or shelf for baking items, one for spices, one for your pickles or jams. Whatever works for you, but put things together logically.

• Do remember to think about how you use the items. Put the tools and ingredients you use all the time in easy reach. That turkey roaster or fondue pot can go on the top shelf, in the back. If you use your mixer all the time, put it where you can get to it (mine is even on the counter, those things are really heavy to lift out!)

I hope that these ideas can be of some service to you. I just went through my own kitchen this week, and am feeling better every time I open the cabinets. I am planning to put labels in the fridge too! (And yes, I do have a problem with OCD, and no, I’m not joking.) Please share any tips you have, I know I always love getting new ideas (especially since with my housekeeping disorganization I do need all the help I can get.)
And later this week, I will be sharing a post on my journey to my faith. This is a very personal story, which I have been going back and forth on posting about. I have really felt like if it is something that might help one person, it is worth it to talk about.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Submitting in Marriage (part 2)

So, the last time I talked about submitting, I figured I would get some people who weren’t really into it. I know that a year ago, if someone had talked to me about submitting (especially to my fiancĂ©) that I would have gasped in disdain.

Which is really a sad reflection, I think, on our society- isn’t it? We balk at the idea of submitting to our spouse, when we take no notice of all the other people (and their rules) we have to acknowledge and abide by. Who else should I rather submit to than the man who loves me in spite of my short temper, displeasure at housekeeping, perpetual lateness, and frequent cooking experiments with natural foods?

God loves me despite my many shortcomings. I am lucky that my fiancĂ©’s love comes close to this. I am not perfect by any means, and am certainly no easy task to bear living with. Looking back, I am amazed by the years I spent kicking and screaming, fighting the idea of submission.

Now, for those of you who I can hear groaning in the background, I have a message:

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your husband as the Lord. … Husbands, love your wives…” Eph 5:21- 5:25

Many people do not note this verse, focusing on Colossians 3:18. Both verses clearly state that a wife is meant to submit to her husband, and a husband meant to love his wife.

But the verse in Ephesians has a prelude from the verse before it, ending with “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Eph 5:21) This relationship should be mutual, a giving in to put your spouse’s desires first.

“Love is patient, love is kind. … it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs.” 1Co 13:4- 13:5

Love does not desire it’s own selfish whims. Love doesn’t hold grudges. This is the ideal I will be striving for, and remembering to be willing to submit makes the difference.

Submission doesn’t mean laying down “like a doormat.” Submission is, instead, a conscious effort to stand up. Stand up, against common societal misconceptions. Stand up, against the mythologies of feminism. Stand up, with the Word and Truth, Stand up, with the message that the Lord has given to us. Submission in marriage is true liberation.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An Instruction Manual to Kids

So everyone says that there is no instruction manual for raising kids. Well, that's true. However, if you are or will be a stay-at-home parent, there's something pretty close. This semester in school, I decided to take an Early Childhood Education class. (Mainly because I registered so late the other classes were full!) Now, I've made no attempt to hide my belief that if at all possible, one parent- and yes, I do actually mean the mother (unless there's extenuating circumstances)- should stay home with the kids. I didn't really have a lot of high hopes for this class. People can be wrong, though, and I was wrong.

This class has covered topics on child development and psychology, which really helps parents understand the milestones their kids should be making. Also, it shows parents the different ways their kids could learn, very important for parents who are considering home-schooling. The most interesting part so far has been the required observations. I have had to go into preschool and day-care programs, and will also be attending two primary school classes. Although I went into these with very low expectations, again, I was wrong. I witnessed the teachers really interacting with all of the children, individually and in groups. The best thing was their language with the kids- completely appropriate to their ages and full of patience.
They all used phrases that were easy for the kids to understand and obey- and increased the social and emotional attachment the kids had to the teachers. I think this would be a great lesson for any parent.

Another one of the great aspects in observing was seeing how the classrooms are set up. I have talked about my ventures into Montessori schooling, and was pleasantly surprised to see that this has indeed invaded most classrooms (at least for the preschool set- we all know what those primary school classes post-K look like!) There was an opportunity to see how the activity centers were placed, and all of the different learning toys. I do think this will influence how I will be organizing our "school" room at home this year.

Now, obviously, the on-the-job experience that parents receive is well above the education in any class. Still, I can't help but wish that I had taken this class before I had my sons, and I would recommend any soon-to-be or new parent take the opportunity if it is possible.

Be sure to come back next week for some ideas on how to set up your learning area/ room!

I am happy to share this at Works For Me Wednesday.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Quiet Moment for Overwhelmed Moms

I have shared that I have been feeling really out-of-sorts lately. One of the things that seems to help is just writing out my feelings, and how I can work on altering how my time is spent to better my efforts. I wanted to share with you the last time I did this, about a week ago. I hope that this might help bless you in some way if you are feeling overwhelmed at all…

So I've been going through a season of stressed-out, overwhelmed, ready-to-snap… it seems like I just keep going in circles. I feel just on the edge, and then I'll think and pray about it, and feel better. But then after a bit I start getting all stressed again… and I just feel like it's never-ending. I have so many things going on, and I really need to step back and take stock of my priorities. This is something that always helps me, to just reflect on what I really need to be doing, and how I can go about allotting my time and energy to the things that really matter:

  • First is my faith, it is so important to remember this, especially when I'm overwhelmed. Only God knows what I am meant to do with my life, and only He can help me with everything I need.
  • My children- the most important use of my time, I know that being a mom is the one thing that God has planned for me to do. Right now, my focus is towards doing my home-schooling and planning good playtime activities and quality time with them, and making sure to work on teaching them about our faith.
  • Housekeeping work can really seem to pile up on me, so I need to be diligent about keeping up on my schedules. Also, we need to do a decluttering again, as we still have lots of extra stuff around. This is important to Mr. Shelley, he does get antsy when things aren't kept straightened up and nice and clean.
  • Last comes all the less-important things: schoolwork, having more time, blogging, and wedding planning. These are all things that I can get really involved in (and maybe because they're way more fun than sweeping and mopping!) but not as important. I need to really fight to put these aside and not start working on them until after my main priorities are accomplished.

Though it can be very difficult to setup your day to make the most of your time, it is so vital. Taking the time to attend first and foremost to your priorities allows you to get more done, and feel more at ease about your days. Remember that making your own plan is fine, but only God's plan really matters. What does He want you to do?

Please share, any tips and inspirations about how God works in your everyday life and helps you are most welcome!

I am happy to share this at Works For Me Wednesday.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Homemaking Inspiration

As I have said here many times, homemaking doesn't come easily for me. I like to cook, but the rest- not so much. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate how the house looks when it's taken care of. Still, with all the stuff I have to do, sometimes actually doing that to-do list seems like an impossible dream. Over time, I've realized I just need some things to motivate me to keep up on keeping home.


  • Have an "inspiration" picture- take this from a magazine, favorite blog, or even of a friend's house. Anything that looks beautiful to you, and showcases a well-kept house. I recommend keeping this on top of your housekeeping schedule or task list.


  • When you've tackled a difficult or particularly-despised task, take some time to enjoy the outcome. For me, this is the kitchen, I love to cook the mess, but cleaning it up- no, thanks! So when I clean the counters and put away dishes, I pause and admire the beauty of the clean. Make some hot water, pour a cup of tea, and sit at a chair pointed towards the kitchen. (Just be sure to clean up that mug afterwards!)


I hope these tips can help you if you are feeling overwhelmed or are struggling with your housekeeping. Sometimes you have to just push through those feelings of drudgery, but I think it's better to try and change those feelings around if you can. (And if I can, you can too!) Happy homemaking!

I am happy to share this at Homemaker Mondays.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

On Marriage and (gasp!) Submitting

Well, another 2 weeks have gone by... and we have another post on submitting in marriage. I wrote this a week or so ago, but as I stated last, I have some things to catch up on still, so kept postponing... However, school starts next week and by that time I need to be fixed up around here so normal posting should return soon! As I said in my last post, I want to focus here on marriage- and I have talked before on how I feel submitting can achieve a more successful relationship. I recently saw, while doing a Google search of Christian homemaking blogs, a listing which purports to be an "alternative" to the "regular" homemaking blogs who are written by Christian women who are conservative and submissive (cue disparaging tone.) Uh oh.
Personally, I thank her, I believe this only accentuates what I am trying to show here. I think many of us "conservative" ladies try to show how deriding us as weak is ridiculous. I believe that submission (in the biblical way) makes marriages stronger.
I have both submitted and not in the past five years with Mr. Shelley, and when I don't does it make our relationship better? Am I more "empowered" and happier? No! I feel worse, and can always see that my pride causes me to be irritable with hime for the least thing, or no thing at all. Then, I speak in a snippy tone (as my Mom always called it, basically it means I sound like a whiny kid!) We often end uf arguing because of this, and as much as in the moment I like to blame him... he didn't appreciate me, didn't help me with the kids, etc the fact is if I hadn't been thinking of myself I would have reacted differently.
Is this the example of a working relationship? Maybe- if you take your example of a good marriage from the sitcom shows where the husband and wife trade jibes back and forth and constantly bust each other up verbally. An example of marriage- sadly, yes. But successful, positive marriage? I don't think so.

I am happy to share this at Works For Me Wednesday.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Time Away and New Intentions

I can't believe how long it's been since I've posted! After a family trip 2 weeks ago, I've felt overwhelmed with a seemingly never-ending list of tasks to catch up on. This was worsened by my fight with persistent sleep issues, and a resulting lack of motivation to really work on my tasks. I've been beating myself up because I felt like I was dropping all the balls I should have been juggling and keeping up with. However, I have come to a realization due to the good work that God has been doing in me and my heart. When it does happen that I keep my balls all up in the air, it is only because of His grace. And the other more usual time, I am dropping most often the balls that are most important to me. It seem as if I have so much time for these things that don't matter to me, or that don't fit into my long term plans for our family and such, than things that I really care about and that are truly meaningful in my life. I have decided on a new course of action: a determined effort to move forward in my life on the path I feel God has laid out.

I have been thinking for a while now about how I might be able to provide a ministry for others through my blogs, and also be able to reach out more to my offline friends. I feel that everyone has a special gift, a place they can reach out to others from, and draw them in to God and His word. With so many things going on in the world, I kept moving back and forth, even though I knew what I wanted to talk about. My decision was difficult for me for a simple reason: I feel completely unqualified to impart much wisdom on this topic. First of all, it is a problem I stills struggle with on a regular basis, however, now I realize that I am in a unique position of dealing with the problem just as many others are. This is a close topic to m heart- I feel that this one aspect of life can improve the entire line of other common difficulties people have with parenting, and the fallout of troubled kids -a troubled society. This is what I really feel is the foundation of strong families, lives, and societies: a strong marriage.

I will still include much on homemaking here at MAHM, but am happy to introduce a new viewpoint geared towards strengthening marriages. For some great links, please see:

A Wise Woman Builds Her Home

Revive Our Hearts


I am happy to share this at Works For Me Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Simplifying Your Kitchen

Does it seem like your clutter is overtaking your life? I've been there- in fact, I still am sometimes! This is the first post in my Simplifying Home series, a part of the Keep It Simple series. I will take you through a different room or section of your house each week, sharing some ideas on how to simplify the space so you can enjoy it more.
The kitchen is one of the spots in our home that gets the most use, and the most notice from other people. The kitchen is the heart of the home- and one of the least appealing places to clean. Dirty dishes, spills, garbage bags, and stuck on gunk in your pots and pans… this does not exactly scream having a good time. Unfortunately, the way your kitchen goes is often how the rest of the house follows, and no-one ever promised that cleaning up was fun. Even more importantly, the kitchen is the one spot you are always bringing more stuff into- you have to eat, right? Here are some of my tips to simplify your kitchen.
  1. Make an inventory list. This sounds ridiculous- but sometimes more work does make for less work. More work now means less work later. Take an inventory of your fridge, freezer, and pantry areas. This is a great help when meal planning, and writing a shopping list. Also, this can help if you have trouble using up foods before they go bad. Write in things as soon as you bring them home, and then you can fit in the perishables into your meal plan.
  2. As far as cleaning- follow the Flylady system of shining you sink. Keep up on dishes throughout the day, and clean the sink area before you go to bed- fully! Make sure all the pots are cleaned, and wipe out your sink. This will vastly improve your mornings. Trust me, I know this personally.
  3. This sounds too basic: make sure there's a spot for everything. All of your pots, baking dishes, and utensils are so much easier to find when they're always put back in the same place. Also, make sure you don't have too many repeats: no-one needs three wooden spoons or sets of measuring cups!
  4. Don't keep too many odd ingredients around. If you don't use one thing more than a few times a year, consider not having it around.
I hope these tips can help make your kitchen a simpler place. Check out a connecting post at Authentic Homemade on Simplifying Your Home Cookbook. And come back next week for another Simplifying Home post with cleaning tips.

I am happy to share this at Works For Me Wednesday.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Admitting Our Difficulties

This was inspired by the radio program I talked about, based on advice for women in the ministry. Nancy Leigh Demoss hosted the program, which included various women speakers. I think the topics covered really apply for all women, though they are quite important for women who do ministry. The one idea I think really especially is great advice for those who choose to do a ministry online.

It is so easy to get a mistaken idea
of people when you don't know them in a real-life situation. Over the internet, well-meant words can seem to convey an image of a flawless life. I recognized this personally when a commenter on a recent post of mine wrote that I really have it all together. I started to laugh, until I realized that it might actually seem like that, especially considering my latest series. I started the Keep It Simple series to share what I was doing in my own life- not what I had done or accomplished, but am doing right now in this season. For the record, I don't have it even partially together most days!

On those rare days when I actually feel like things are going smoothly, I am not the one who made it happen. Firstly, I have to remember to keep my priorities straight. My efforts mean nothing when I do not stick to God's plan for me. The other important consideration is that I have so much help- mainly from Mr. Shelley who is always willing to help me. Even after a long day at work, he watches the kids for me. And, not just so that I can do regular housework- nope, he gives me time to enjoy myself (including here, blogging!) and even run weekly errands like grocery shopping.

In the radio program, one of the ladies spoke about making sure to not put out a representation that your situation is perfect. Whether you are intentionally leaving things out, or just not being careful to admit problems- both result in people getting a wrong idea. By letting your issues and concerns be out in the open, you present a unique opportunity. Others in the same situation can be blessed by knowing they are not alone, and just having this realization can help them more than sage advice from someone. Also, you will also be better knowing you don't have to seem perfect and that you too can commiserate with someone else. Remember, only one is perfect: the Creator. We don't have to try to seem perfect, because we aren't. What we should do is honor God by hoping to help others acknowledge Him and His work in our lives through our issues, difficulties and imperfections. And we can't do this if we're afraid to admit these things to anyone.

I intend to use this as a reminder to share my own difficulties and issues, in the hope to give people a place where they are not alone.

I am happy to share this at Works For Me Wednesday.

Friday, June 25, 2010

No Internet!

I apologize for being absent all week, we have had no internet connection and so I have been unable to post. I hope to have this fixed over this weekend. Look back next week for the posts on faith and praying with your spouse, as well as the newest Keep It Simple post on Simplifying Your Kitchen, including cooking tips! Thanks so much!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Montessori Education

I have been considering homeschooling my children for some time now- after years of saying that I would never ever want to do that. I went to public school, so I always figured that my kids would too. After watching them grow, and absorb so much of the world around them, I realized that I probably don't want them absorbing much of what's in our society today.

I started researching homeschooling, and came across something I had read about years before becoming pregnant: Montessori. For those who aren't really aware of this concept, here is a great primer. Basically, Montessori is a educational philosophy based on the methods founded by Dr. Maria Montessori. Dr Montessori was an Italian physician who introduced a method of education fo children which allows them to learn the information by their own work, through activities.

Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing more detailed information, and links. To start, this site has lots of great information and free text of some books.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thanksgiving Thursdays- 6/17/10

Welcome to another Thanksgiving Thursday (TT) here at Make A Home Mom! Again, I want to take today to give thanks for all that God has given to me, and I would love for you to share too.

Just post a comment with a link to a post you've written which deals with being thankful. Then, in that post, I just ask that you link back to this post so everyone can find their way around. If you don't have a blog, just share what you're giving thanks for in the comments.

In a few weeks, I will have a linky for this, but for now I will just add the comments in a list manually. Thanks for coming and sharing!


This week I am grateful for the unexpected gifts that God gives. Today was a long day, spent driving hours away to look for a farm to buy some real meat from, only to not be able to find it. My mother went with me, and she was then late for a meeting. I was feeling rather irritated an understatement! and rather upset. However, due to a great radio program and a beautiful drive, my heart was opened to another view. I realized that through these "problem" times God is showing me my plans are not His, and reminding me that to keep the focus on Him. This was a wake up that when things aren't seeming to be going well, that I should be grateful. I took this time to enjoy the gorgeous drive, and let my heart open to staying in a good mood instead of letting a moment turn my whole day negative. Again, I received a chance to remember what I should be doing.

I am grateful that God is continuing to make me a more grateful person. From my post last week, I see that He has answered my prayers to continue making myself more focused on thankfulness, and I am so glad for this. A weakness of mine has always been letting a small downfall in my day turn into a "catastrophe" and I am happy that God has chosen to work on this in me.


Now it's your turn! Please share your links in the comments, and I will post them below. Grab my button from the box in my sidebar if you wish.

For these first few weeks I will keep the comments open throughout the weekend, so that word can get out.

Format: Please post in the comments, at the least, Name @ Your Site (Name of Post) i.e. Shelley @ MAHM (Thanksgiving Thursdays)

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5


Come back tomorrow for the post introducing a Montessori education, and Saturday for a post on the uplifting and inspiring broadcast that helped change my mood- hosted by Nancy Leigh DeMoss from Revive our Hearts: topics I loved on praying together with your spouse and admitting your weaknesses.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Simplified Household Schedules

This post is adapted from two posts which ran on 10/2/09 and 10/7/09. I have updated them to reflect my new simplified schedules.


My schedules in my home binder are broken down into the following: (adapted in part from Flylady)


Daily (AM/PM) schedule

Weekly schedule

Monthly schedule




Create a blank weekly schedule. Make a graph set-up, with the days of the week listed across side, and then write in any things that are always done the same day. For example, if you go to class on Mondays and yoga is Thursday night, write it in. Now, you can start adding tasks. I set my schedule up so that each day I had a different room, i.e. Monday- upstairs bedroom, Tuesday- living room, and so on. I worked this around my other permanent duties. Mondays I always organized my coupons. At the time, our only computer was upstairs, so thus I made Monday the day I cleaned upstairs. Tuesday I run errands, and our living room is easy to clean, so since I don't like running errands, Tuesday is a simple housekeeping day. Set up a schedule that works for you.


UPDATE: I have since simplified the weekly schedule by reducing the amount of housekeeping- instead of dusting and cleaning in the specific room each day, I only pick up in those rooms. Now, dusting is Tuesdays only, and floors are cleaned on Thursdays. Likewise, I have two set laundry days.


After housekeeping responsibilities, I think it's very important to add in what I call "special times." Family day, couple day or date night, and personal time all fall in here. Life can be hectic, and if you don't schedule these things, they might never happen. I have a few little blocks of personal time for things I love doing throughout the week. UPDATE- I now include personal time every day in my daily schedule. Also, try to include time to spend with friends- especially important for at home parents. UPDATE- I have enforced these, simplicity means getting back to what's really important.


As I've said, I am not organized by nature. If you fit in this category with me, my suggestion to you is to simple: try to make a schedule that includes everything you will be doing. Otherwise, the recycling will build up, the sheets won't get washed, and your windows will be so dirty you'll start to think they just came with fingerprints imprinted on them originally. Every schedule is, and should be, different- customized for you, created around however your household is best run. The thing I hear the most is that people just can't actually do it- get up and get started with their duties every day. This is why the daily schedule is the basis, the blueprint, for your day.




This schedule is set up as an hourly schedule. It might seem too complicated, but it can actually provide a great way to stay on track. I set up a schedule with set "work times" at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. and it kept me working, instead of getting sidetracked or just plain giving up! I put in even the most basic, everyday tasks, such as meals and cleaning the kitchen afterwards. I leave about a half-hour to an hour for each main task, as to allow flexibility. Something will always come up, so don't make your schedule too tight or tasks will run into each other. UPDATE- I have included a daily reading/ devotion time in the morning, I notice the difference when I don't start off my day this way. I encourage you to take this time every day!


I have two "work" times, one in the morning (during baby's nap/rest time and William's snack time) and in the afternoon (naptime for both.) I find myself doing more complicated/detailed tasks in the morning, when I am more alert (such as filing or schoolwork.) Afternoon naptime is for easy tasks like cleaning. I also make some of this time for my personal time, when I might read or work on this blog. UPDATE- I also include specific playtime for the kids- this will soon evolve into an "educational" time. Come back next week for more on my upcoming series on homeschooling and Montessori.


Rember- simplicity is primarily about making things easiest for you and finding the best way for your home. Also, check your priorities.

I am happy to share this at Finer Things Friday.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thanksgiving Thursdays- 6/10/10

Welcome to another Thanksgiving Thursday (TT) here at Make A Home Mom! Again, I want to take today to give thanks for all that God has given to me, and I would love for you to share too.

Just post a comment with a link to a post you've written which deals with being thankful. Then, in that post, I just ask that you link back to this post so everyone can find their way around. If you don't have a blog, just share what you're giving thanks for in the comments.

In a few weeks, I will have a linky for this, but for now I will just add the comments in a list manually. Thanks for coming and sharing!


This week I am grateful the ways in which God is helping me become grateful. This has been a tricky week for me to find something to write about. Although I took times most days to give thanks, it was also filled with days of complete lack of gratitude. I spent one day feeling miserable because I found aphids on my lettuce. Another day was spent feeling like I had too much to do, and no chance of it getting done. (if only I had taken this time to listen to my own advice!) There was also problems with our telephone, and computer, leading to much frustration. Luckily for me, God does not give up as easily as I do! He keeps working on me, even when I take forever to learn something (and then promptly forget it again!)

This week I have been reminded of God's patience and understanding. Through difficulties, He is working on me, and reminding me that it is easy to be calm, loving and patient when things are going well for me. My work begins when I need to make an effort- when things aren't so great. At these times I need to remember that, firstly, my situation is still better than many and this is still a time to be grateful for everything we do have. Next, this is an opportunity for me to work on myself, and model proper actions (especially for my kids.) Finally, I might need to take a "time out" and let go of some things. This is a good time to take an assessment of what I am doing, and make sure it is in line with what I should be doing.

I am grateful that God uses these times to make me into a more patient and thankful person. I hope that over time, this will become more natural for me- and know that I am so blessed that God watches me more patiently than I watch my children. I hope to continue working on myself in this way.


Now it's your turn! Please share your links in the comments, and I will post them below. Grab my button from the box in my sidebar if you wish.

For these first few weeks I will keep the comments open throughout the weekend, so that word can get out.

Format: Please post in the comments, at the least, Name @ Your Site (Name of Post) i.e. Shelley @ MAHM (Thanksgiving Thursdays)

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5


Come back tomorrow for the postponed Simplified Schedule, and a bit of information on an upcoming series on Montessori education.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Simplifying Home Binder

This post originally ran on September 28, 2009. I am re-running it as part of my Keep It Simple series with updates.


This post is timely for me this week. It always seems that just when you think you're actually caught up with housework, something throws a wrench in the plans. For me, these unexpected events are why having a plan for your household is so important. Even the best of plans are useless, however, if you can't find your weekly schedule, or remember what need to buy to make dinner tomorrow night. UPDATE- One of the reasons I'm re-running this post this week is because again, my life has been in a season of challenge and too many things in not enough time. I have been simplifying my home binder as a concrete action of rearranging my priorities.


Basically, a household binder is a to-go place, an area to keep all of the lists, schedules, etc. that you need to keep your home running smoothly. See Flylady's control journal for more information on exactly what you could be adding to your binder. Everyone has different things in theirs, here is an index of mine:

  • Planning
  • Home Management
  • Meals/ Menus
  • Family Info
  • Travel/ Activities
  • Finances

Under planning I have my daily, weekly, and monthly schedules and lists, my calendar, detailed systems list, goal lists. Home management has mostly party/ holiday notes, including menu ideas/ notes, and gift ideas. UPDATE- This is also where I keep all of my past gift lists, so I know who got what and when, and also (with my homemade gifts) who liked what best. Meals and menus includes our family's favorite meals, and a list of easy meals, which I can turn to when making my weekly menu plans. I also have information on nutrition here, and clippings of recipes I want to try. I keep the clippings in plastic sheet covers that are in the back of each section. UPDATE- I now keep recipe ideas and clippings or printout in a section of my home cookbook. This will be the simplifying real food post at Authentic Homemade for tomorrow. They just go right in the binder rings, and are a great place to keep loose papers (for instance, in the Home Management section I put upcoming birthday and holiday cards that are signed and ready, so I don't lose them!) Family info has such things as a master phone number list, and sections for my work and schooling (when the kids start school in a few years, this section will be larger as I add in their things here.) UPDATE- I am now starting to keep things for the kids in here I am planning on starting a separate binder for them, as I am thinking about home-schooling. Travel and activities has a master packing list for when we go on vacations, and directions to places we travel to alot, like my sister's. Finally, finances holds our budgets, and information for rebates. In the sheet covers for this section I sometimes keep my coupons until they go into my containers.


Our next posts will feature in-depth details for how to start creating, and fleshing out, your schedules and to-do lists. Right now might be a good time to start a binder if you don't have one, though, because you'll need somewhere to put these papers once you make them. A note: although I am not one of them, many people like to have everything electronic. If you prefer this, I would suggest you try to create your binder on your computer (but please don't ask me for help, I barely just get along with technology and like to see everything in front of me in hard copy!) Here are some ideas to get you started on your own binder:

  1. Go over any papers, schedules, to-do lists, etc. you have currently. This will give you some idea of what sections you will need in your binder.
  2. Just start it- taking more action is a goal here- one end result of your binder is that it will allow you to work on auto-pilot. You won't spend all your time wondering what to do next, so let's try to stop that right now. Just find an old binder, or even a blank notebook to start.
  3. Begin with the sections, what topics are most important for your household? Work on these first. Try to keep them fairly general, if you make them to distinct you'll have 25 different sections.
  4. Work on putting any notes, papers etc. that you already have into your binder before making new ones. You might be surprised how much you have, and you won't be creating unnecessary duplicates (otherwise known as clutter!)

I hope this helps you to think about starting your own household binder. Over the next week I'll be sharing details on how to set up your schedules and task lists, and work them into your life. If you have any tips to share, please comment, and let me know if I can link to your information. UPDATE- I will be posting these next two weeks on the new simplified schedules- please come back and check them out. I have greatly decreased my stress and increased my daily well-being by planning and setting my day by my new 'Keep it Simple' schedules, and I hope they can be a blessing to you also.


I am happy to share this at Homemaker Mondays, be sure to stop by for great tips and posts.


Don't forget- only two more days to enter Real Food on a Real Budget giveaway! Today starts the Real Food In Season Giveaway here at MakeAHomeMom! Come back Wednesday for more Keep it Simple- Schedules and on Thursday for Thanksgiving Thursdays.


Like this? Please share.

Real Food In Season Giveaway!

This week I am gifting another giveaway of my new cookbook, Real Food In Season! Starting June 7th, and running through Friday June 11th, enter to win your copy of Real Food In Season. Entries for each of the following:

  1. Comment below and tell me why you would like this cookbook
  2. Subscribe to AH
  3. Follow me on twitter
  4. Share this on twitter
  5. Blog about this giveaway and comment with the link, or share it via email/ facebook if you don't have a blog


There will be giveaways on other blogs this month, I will be posting a list on Saturday when I announce the winner. Make sure to leave your entries in the comments- one comment for each entry please, it is easier for me to enter them into a random selector that way. Thanks and best of luck!


Friday, come back for the Real Food Made Real Simple series- this week is on Simplifying Your Home Cookbook.

I am happy to share this at Fight Back Friday.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Success, and giveaways!

Disclaimer: If you do not care about toilet training, and are just looking for a chance to get the free loot- visit Authentic Homemade for:

Real Food on a Real Budget giveaway and Real Food In Season Giveaway


However, if hearing about I how finally achieved success with potty training might interest you:

Yea! After months of on-again, off-again; trying to get my toddler to spend more than one or two time a week out of the diaper; desperation ahem, I mean patiently letting him know that whenever he wants to go is fine by me without it bothering me I have hit upon success! The method (as I'm sure many of you know, since everyone told me to do this) just take the diapers off and put him in underwear. Today was the true marker of achievement: he actually told me he needed to go before he went! Yesterday there was no 'leaks' but letting me know without me having to take him to the bathroom every hour to check is a sure sign that the work is almost to the end of the right track we've been on!

I am happy to share this at Finer Things Friday- and I think all the moms know why it is finer (especially with another younger one!)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thanksgiving Thursday 6/3

Welcome to the second Thanksgiving Thursday (TT) here at Make A Home Mom! I started TT so I would have a place to give thanks for all that God has given to me. I would love for you to share all that you're grateful for each week.

Just post a comment with a link to a post you've written which deals with being thankful. Then, in that post, I just ask that you link back to this post so everyone can find their way around. If you don't have a blog, just share what you're giving thanks for in the comments.

In a few weeks, I will have a linky for this, but for now I will just add the comments in a list manually. Thanks for coming and sharing!


This week I am especially grateful for Mr. Shelley. He is a wonderful man, who always forgives me for my mistakes. He stands by me when I least deserve it, and supports my wishes and whims. This week he got a full dump truck load of dirt for my new gardening beds, and dug up half the yard for me so the grass and weeds wouldn't be in my bed. All this- after coming home from work! And when it rained in the middle of his job, he came inside- and then went back out to finish (after dinner, in the late evening!)

He is always willing to watch the kids for me when he comes home from work- taking them for mile-long wagon rides so that I can get work done. And every week he watches them at home while I go to the grocery store, or comes with us and waits while I go in. He is always willing to help me, even when he is tired from his own work. He supports me, in my quest for healthy eating, and will tell Big Boy that a certain food in an ad is "yucky" because it's something I don't want him eating. I know that he appreciates my time in the kitchen cooking, and he will always complement my food (even when it's less than worthy!)

I am so grateful that God saw fit to give me this man to spend my life with. I cannot believe how lucky I am to have this man for my own- a man who loves me and supports me even when I don't deserve it.


Now it's your turn! Please share your links in the comments, and I will post them below. Grab my button from the box in my sidebar if you wish.

For these first few weeks I will add links through the weekend so that word can get out.

Format: Please post in the comments, at the least, Name @ Your Site (Name of Post) i.e. Shelley @ MAHM (Thanksgiving Thursdays)

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5



Thursday, May 27, 2010

Giving Thanks- Thanksgiving Thursdays

Welcome to the first ever Thanksgiving Thursday here at Make A Home Mom! I decided to start this so I would have a place to give thanks for some of the amazing gifts that God has given to me. I would love for this to be a place for you too- to share the things that you're feeling grateful for each week. Just share a comment that includes a link to a blog post you've written that deals with being thankful or grateful for something. Then, in that post, I just ask that you link back to this post so everyone can find their way around. If you don't have a blog, just share what you're giving thanks for in the comments. In a few weeks, I hope to have a linky up for this, but for now I will keep it in the comments and add in a list manually. Thanks for coming and sharing!


This week I am thankful for the work God has been doing in my to increase my patience and de-stressing so that I can better enjoy my time with my kids. I feel like this week especially has resulted in a small breakthrough in this area. Patience and staying calm has always been my weakness, and often cause my to become frustrated with my kids. Obviously they are the last people I want to lose my temper with, but being with them (and their high energy!) all day can be a challenge. God has really been working on me to change my attitude and behavior with them, and making me more calm and patient. I am very thankful He has done this work so patiently with me, and is making me more patient with my own precious children.


Now it's your turn! Please share your links in the comments, and I will post them below. Grab my button from the box in my sidebar if you wish.

For these first few weeks I will add links through the weekend so that word can get out.

Format: Please post in the comments, at the least, Name @ Your Site (Name of Post) i.e. Shelley @ MAHM (Thanksgiving Thursdays)

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5




I am happy to share this at Finer Things Friday.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Simplifying- Easier To-Do lists

Feel like your to-do list is really an add-one-more-thing, never-gonna-get-it-all-done list? I have, many times. It seemed that when I got most, or even all, of the things done I still hadn't finished. It felt like there was always more to do, and the things that got done didn't matter as much as they had when I planned them. Just having a schedule, a plan for the day isn't enough. It's a good start, but as I discovered recently, it doesn't mean much without a bit of focus.

It was just another day of feeling frustrated; like that to-do list was getting the better of me. Usually, when I start feeling like this, I would try to pick myself up, and just keep working. If nothing else, I'd think, at least I'll have my list finished. This often didn't work, however, as once my motivation was gone I found myself much less productive. This day, I decided to just stop, and take some time to pray and think through the difficulties and stress I was feeling. I simply closed the word document I was working in and opened a new one, and wrote out what I was thinking about. It sound so basic, but it completely changed my mood. What's more, it inspired me to go through my weekly and daily schedules and make them more in line with my new focus.

Only God can give us what we need/ want. I should be asking him always for His help and assistance. He is my provider. Stress comes from not walking God's path for me.

Review daily/ weekly lists and redo according to God's plan for me. Less housework, more "house-ministry" with children and family. Ministry using blogs, and church work at home. School- how can I bless God with this work? Always make sure work is blessing the Lord Almighty as He has blessed me with all in my life.

Work should reflect my true priorities – the work God has called me to do is the most important thing each day.

These are the notes I wrote down. Take note of the center paragraph- I was moved to lay out the practical ways in which this new realization could be put into action in my everyday life. This was where I really saw what I was needing- how can my priorities be observed so that I am not as overwhelmed in my daily work? The answer I was looking for is so simple, and yet very remarkable: go with God. Make sure the work I am doing is what He would have me do. This was especially extreme and essential for me, as a recent convert. I am learning how it is only with God that I can do anything, and to remember that when things seem so difficult. This observation affected me, as I said, by moving me to change my schedules- so that I would be less overwhelmed- and to make my main to-do list with these priorities in mind.

Come back on Thursday for my new, simplified daily and weekly schedules. Also on Thursday, I will be introducing Thanksgiving Thursdays, the first-ever carnival here at Make A Home. This will be a place for you to share posts on what you are thankful for each week, so that we can all give praise for the gifts we've received. A little bit of good news, shared with everyone- linky will be open this Thursday! More details on Thursday's post.

This week at Authentic Homemade: Tuesday: find out how to simplify menu planning by making seasonal meals, Thursday: how to simplify seasonal meals by keeping them frugal. Also, come on Sunday for a giveaway of Real Food In Season, my newest e-cookbook!

I am happy to share this at Works For Me Wednesday and Homemaker Mondays.















simplifying our priorities

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Simplifying- the story

It's a point of irony I've noticed in my own life… the times when you really need simplicity are the same times you are completely unable to simplify anything at all- let alone aspects of your life that are important. Do you know this feeling? Just when everything seems to overwhelm you in the season of life you're in (pregnant, new house, new baby, four kids under 6 yrs.) is when you really want things to be easier, simpler. It's also at these times when you can't keep up with the things already on you're plate- much less think about adding something new. I'm here to tell you- I get this. I first started decluttering my house when I was pregnant with Baby Boy, and it's a good thing too. After the baby shower, well-meaning friends and family gave us even more stuff- I've said it looked like Babies-R-Us!

Whether you are lucky enough to be thinking about simplifying when you have some free time, or you feel like you have to do something before the stuff overtakes you when you are overwhelmed with no time at all- I can help. This new series- Keep It Simple- is all about simplifying to make your life easier. We will cover each aspect of your life- housekeeping and homemaking room by room- and even the garden!- as well as special days with tips on cleaning quickly, and cooking efficiently. Some of this will extend from the Decluttering, Organizing, and Cleaning series- because removing the clutter is an important part of having a simpler home.

New ideas will include how to keep it simple- without making it more difficult. You can work a bit each day, a few minutes at a time, whatever your schedule allows. If I did this- you can too! Over at Authentic Homemade I will also be focusing on this idea over the next month with some Real Food Made Simple posts- including the upcoming OAMC/ Freezer cooking method with real food.

Simplifying is all about bringing your life back into focus- finding that place where your day, your home has a flow, a feeling of lightness and freshness. I hope these series will be for you what putting it into practice in my own home was- like opening the windows on the first warm day in spring to have the breeze come in.

Join me over the next two months as we draw back the curtains, and Keep It Simple.

I am happy to share this at Works For Me Wednesday.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Seasonal Menu Planning- Spring/ Summer

So I've already explained the why and how of making up a seasonal menu plan. Now I wanted to share with you my full plan- remember that I leave the meals open until each week's planning day, so that I can pick out whichever meal fits in with my pantry/ store ingredients.

Monday: Curry, gumbo, or jambalaya over rice; Pan-fried seafood over rice; Veggie frittata or quiche; Hummus with pitas and veggie tray

Tuesday: Tomato soup w/ grilled ham and cheese; Chicken corn and noodle (or rice) soup; Summer minestrone; Chicken Caesar or BLT salad; Spinach salad

Wednesday: Vegetable/ lentil/ barley 'chili'; Cannellini bean, tomato and spinach ragout; Frittata with salad; Sunny-side (over-easy) eggs over salad

Thursday: Pizza; Beef Stroganoff over pasta; Pasta primavera; Pasta with sausage and pesto; Vegetable and bacon crepes or chicken crepes; Mexican- tacos, enchiladas etc.

Friday: Steak Diane; Chicken Piccata; Chicken Cacciatore; Stir-fry; Hot wings, salad with bleu cheese

Saturday: Grilled steak or chicken with grilled seasonal vegetables or panzanella; Chicken and vegetable stew over barley; Ham, green beans and potatoes in chicken broth; Pot roast; Italian wedding soup

Sunday: Roast chicken with green salad/ veggies; Beef with roasted asparagus/ seasonal veggies; Roasted lamb with pea and mint salad; Roasted chicken or beef with Cobb or Caprese salad


I'll be using this new method in my meal planning mailers, but will still include all the good stuff- a focus on real foods, all new recipes, and lots of great tips and techniques! Also, be on the lookout- coming later this month: my new e-cookbook! Real Food In Season focuses on real foods, traditionally prepared. Recipes feature seasonal ingredients to make fresh, delicious, and frugal meals. Read more at Authentic Homemade….

Since talking about simplifying, I have decided to turn the extension of the Decluttering, Organizing and Cleaning series into a new series on simplifying. A lot of my organizing is focused on simplifying- decluttering and getting rid of all the extra unneeded stuff. So come back this week update- coming tomorrow- Saturday! for the new "Keep It Simple" series. First up: What is simple, and why should I want it?

I am happy to post this at Homemaker Mondays, Real Food Wednesday, Works For Me Wednesday, Finer Things Friday and Fight Back Friday.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Seasonal Menu Planning

So I talked about how I have decided to make a move from a regular weekly meal planning to a seasonal monthly plan. I really think this idea is great- letting me use in season ingredients, and keeping my life easier. I want to share how I set this up, and then on Monday I will post my Spring/ Summer menu!

  • Break down the days of the week


    This was the first step, and it was really simple since I already had daily 'themes' in my menu plan.


    Monday: seafood or veggie meal

    Tuesday: crockpot/ soup or main dish salad

    Wednesday: veggie meal, soup or salad

    Thursday: Leftovers night- pizzas, pastas

    Friday: Special - date night/ family night - meat

    Saturday: Make-ahead – grilling or crockpot

    Sunday: Make-ahead – roasts etc.


    Now there's a starting point to fit in the meals. This really makes it easier to plan out. I do mine around ingredients, it makes it easier for me because I have set days that are veggie (meat-lite or meat-less days) or meat focused (weekends, usually, since it makes Mr. Shelley happy!)


  • Figure out which ingredients are seasonable for you


    This is an important part, and is dependant on your area. I just jotted down a quick list of what's available here, trying to keep it in order from spring- summer for veggies and fruit. I also noted that for us, trying to buy meat from the farms, beef chicken and eggs are our mean proteins (and beans of course!) in this season. When I write out the specific meals (last step) I will keep in mind what's in season.


  • Make a basic list according to your daily 'themes'


    This was the longest step, and also really lays out the meal planning. I wrote down each day, and expanded more specific ideas according to the themes.


    Monday: Fish with a salad or rice; Bean or egg dish

    Tuesday: Soup with meat and veg; Main salad with meat

    Wednesday: Bean and grain soup; Egg dish and salad

    Thursday: Pizzas, pastas or crepe dishes; Mexican with tortillas

    Friday: Special – Meat with veg and grgain/ bread

    Saturday: Grilled meat and veg ; Crockpot meat and veg

    Sunday: Roast meat with salad


  • Write out your meals, taking note of family favorites


    This is the final step, the actual meal planning. I went through each day, and fit in meals as suggested by the previous step. I tried to keep in mind our favorite meals, this is a waste of time if your family won't like the food! I keep everything fairly flexible- and wrote down a few meals for each day. For us at least, I don't want to be eating the same thing every other Tuesday! Also this helps, when I go through and focus on a week's meals I can allow for whatever veggies are in season.


    Example for Monday: Seafood curry or gumbo over rice; Hummus with veggie tray and pitas, Egg and veggie frittata/quiche

    Example for Tuesday: Soup with meat/ cheese sandwiches (like tomato w/ ham and cheese),chicken corn noodle soup, summer minestrone; Chicken

    Caesar salad, Chicken BLT salad, Spinach salad w/ hot bacon dressing



    The final adjustment, and what I changed around from most monthly meal plans, is to leave the last step open. Then, each week I can go through the plan and pick on of the meals set for that day, and make sure to write in what meat and veggies I'll be using if it's an open recipe (like above for seafood gumbo- what fish will I use? Will I add chicken or sausage? What veggies can I put in?) This makes the plan work well for us, because we still get some things at the store, and at the farmer's market. I need to purchase whatever veggies are most budget friendly that week. Even for when the garden produces, one week I might have peas, one week peppers.


    This means I would use the plan as follows:


    For early summer, one week I might use Monday as curry, writing in I'll use shrimp and add in fresh peas. Next week, when I make the plan Monday could be an egg frittata with a tiny bit of cheese and spinach, zucchini and scallions.


    This schedule lets me have a definite plan what I'll be serving for six months straight, and still let me adjust it weekly as I need to, taking advantage of bounties of fresh garden produce and sales at the market (unavoidable for us for at least a while longer!)



    Come back Monday for my full seasonal monthly menu plan!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Organizing and Simplifying

Well, we've been talking about spring a lot here at MAHM. It's my favorite season, I love the finally getting outside after a long winter, and the preparing the garden for the summer growing season. Something about spring I've always loved a lot less is the spring cleaning- organizing and cleaning to spruce up for the new season.

You might know that organizing was not my strong point- and learning to embrace this part of homemaking was a real challenge for me. But the fact is, having a organized house with functioning systems in place is a relief. It means that I know where things are, and all tasks are done on a regular basis. This year for spring cleaning my focus is on simplifying our household. With two young children, this is especially important as well-meaning birthday and Christmas gifts have taken over our home. In addition, I have not pared down my own things in a long time.

Another thing getting the cut (in a way) is my menu planning. I am moving from a weekly plan to a hybrid monthly plan. I have never loved monthly plans, they seem much too complicated. Also, they don't usually allow for weekly sales, and as I am still purchasing a lot (until this fall meat season!) from the grocery store, the system didn't really work for me. Then, when reviewing a book (from Keeper of the Home- coming soon!) I found out about a post from Passionate Homemaking on seasonally based meal planning. I love seasonal cooking- so this really interested me. Check back in on Friday to see how I have adjusted this plan to suit me, and still buying according to weekly deals- plus an introduction to once a month cooking tips for real food at Authentic Homemade.

Over the next month I'll being posting on how to simplify and organize. Please join me, and get ready to have a house that's cleared out and ready to enjoy for the summer- just right for you to have more room
in the kitchen for preserving season and in the rest of the house for entertaining.

I am happy to share this at Works For Me Wednesday- Backwards edition today! So be sure to leave me any tips you have on organizing today in the comments- or share a link up to one of your own posts on organizing or simplifying. I'll be including some of my favorite links each Friday this month as my 'best things' on organizing. Thanks!


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