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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