Friday, October 30

Organizing idea for Halloween costumes

As I was cleaning my house yesterday I was reminded of the way I organize our costumes after Halloween, and I thought it might be a helpful idea to share today. My girls just love pretending, so dressing-up at Halloween is by far their favorite part. They love to pretend so much that I often hit the after-Halloween sales to pick up really cheap, good quality costumes. (My suggestion is to wait until they go at least 75% off before you buy extra costumes. . .that way you can really get some good deals). I needed a way to organize them all instead of throwing them all in a box/bin. I have finally found a way that works for us. We use our basement as a playroom so at the bottom of the stairs we hung three, 4-peg hooks on the wall. (see photo below) We then hang all the costumes we have collected/worn over the years. We can easily hang two costumes per hook. This makes the costumes easy to see and easy to put away. I also think it is an inviting way to enter our playroom. I do have one plastic tub right inside my storage room door where we keep all the accessories to the costumes (hats, crowns, helmets. . . things that cannot be easily hung). Every year we weed through the costumes and get rid of those that no longer fit Maddie. It is a really good way to get a lot of use out of the costumes we buy each year (I also try to buy the costumes a little big for both girls so that they can really play in them for a good year or more).

Please feel free to share your storage ideas in the comment section below. You never know if your idea will help someone be a little less stressed about her holiday!

Thursday, October 29

A few more thoughts. . .

Today I am sharing some more thoughts so that I could give Heidi a day off from a few responsibilities outside her home since she has two very precious responsibilities in her home right now! She has two beautiful little girls under the age of two-need I say more?!

She, along with some of you, have little plans this year when it comes to Halloween. Her babies are just too little to do any major celebrating. She did share with me that one of her fondest memories of Halloween as a child was getting out the “spooky sounds” tape and listening to that. I am sure that at some after-Halloween sale, Heidi will be picking one of those up to put in a safe place for when her girls are older.

That got me thinking. . .isn’t that what being intentional is all about (thinking about a topic and then making a conscience decision to do something)? So those of you with younger children can be thinking about what Halloween traditions you would like to start as your children grow. Those of us with older children can be thinking about those traditions we have started and decide which we want to keep and which we can let go of. I think being intentional involves constantly evaluating and re-evaluating our choices and that includes our traditions. If we want our Halloween celebrations to be about spending time together, then the activities we choose to do should reflect that. This Halloween, think about what you want for your family and then be intentional about the activities you choose to do. . .

I would love to hear some of your Halloween traditions. I am always looking for new ideas and fun ways to celebrate with my girls. Please feel free to post your favorite(s) in the comment section below. . .Happy Halloween. . .

Wednesday, October 28

Halloween Traditions

I think I first need to apologize for my fairly lengthy post today, but I just LOVE the holidays. I love any holiday really - any reason to entertain, decorate, or just make the day/season special for my family (especially my girls), is something I love! I also love the ages my children are at right now. They are 8 and 3 and love to play, create, and celebrate with me. Here are a few of the Halloween traditions we do/have done in our family:

We visit the pumpkin patch and carve pumpkins. We visit a local place that has a hayride, corn maze, petting zoo and an apple orchard. I love the opportunity to get a few good family photos on this outing as well. As you can probably tell by my posts, I love photos!

I also try to do a few craft projects with the girls. We have traced our hands and made handprint bats. I have painted the bottom of their feet and made footprint ghosts. One year Abigail and I painted acorns orange and when they were dry she drew pumpkin faces on them with a permanent marker. A favorite project would have to be painting fingernails orange and then drawing pumpkin faces on them with a permanent marker.

Over the years I have collected my share of Halloween dishes and decorations thanks to after Halloween sales. I look for those things that are fun and celebrate the season. I use my dishes throughout the entire month of October, which my girls love! On the actual day of Halloween I usually decorate the table and make a small activity packet to set at their place. I google activity sheets online, like coloring sheets, word finds, mazes. . .anything I think my girls will enjoy. They love waking up to a decorated table (I also set out a new set of markers or crayons with the activity packet. I usually stock up on both markers and crayons during back-to-school sales and use them through-out the year).

They usually enjoy a bowl of Boo-berry, Franken-Berry or Count-Chocula cereal for breakfast. These cereals are only available at this time of year and just happen to be my husband’s favorite from his childhood. They love being able to share this with their dad.

We will often make Halloween shape pancakes throughout the month as well (I bought these molds a few years back at William Sonoma-I’m pretty sure they sell them every year. I do know they sell out quickly. I have also used cookie cutters, but they are little harder to work with since they do not have a handle). You could also just make larger pancake and use a variety of Halloween cookie cutter to cut out shapes-kids just love eating things in fun shapes!

Our favorite part has to be dressing-up and trick-or-treating. A few years ago we decided to leave a neighborhood we absolutely loved to be closer to my husband’s job, but we miss it greatly. We choose to use this holiday as an opportunity to go see all those people we do not get to see on a regular basis. We drive across town and the girls are able to trick-or-treat at homes where we know the people. Since we have to drive across town, we do not hand out candy at our own home. We usually end the night going to grandma and grandpa’s house so the girls can show off their costumes one more time. It is a fun night we use to celebrate the people we love in our life.

The last tradition we have chosen to incorporate into our Halloween is one I came across when Abigail was about 4. We used to go the story time at Pottery Barn Kids and they were giving out these little cards that talked about “the legend of Jack-o-candy.” It is an obviously made-up character that comes at night to trade the treats you just collected and leave a gift in their place. I thought it was a great idea but never thought Abigail would want to trade in all her hard earned candy. To my surprise she asked if she could keep a few and trade in the rest. So we compromised and let her keep as many treats as she was old (i.e. she was 4 years old so we let her choose 4 treats to keep) and had her hang the rest on her door. That night “jack-o-candy” came and took her treats and replaced it with a gift. The gift can be anything you wish, big or small. We have kept ours between $20-$35 dollars depending on the year. It is a fun way to have the kids celebrate the fun of Halloween without a month of eating candy. It also keeps their focus off wanting to get more and more candy and allows us to enjoy all the homes we stop at to visit along the way. Every year we revisit this tradition to make sure the girls still want to trade in their goodies and so far they still want “jack-o-candy” to visit. This year he will be leaving a baby stroller for one and a baby doll for the other. They just can’t wait.

I think like with any holiday, we can get carried away if we are not intentional. My hope is to always make the holiday special in small ways. I want my girls to remember doing things as a family, just being together. I hope this Halloween, whatever part you choose to celebrate, you will enjoy spending it with your family. Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 26

Looking Back on Halloween...

Here are a few random tips that made Halloween run abit smoother at our house:

We visited the pumpkin patch yearly, but it took me awhile to realize I shouldn't carve the pumpkin immediately. Pumpkins rot quickly once they are carved. I learned to use a felt-tip marker to decorate the pumpkins a week or two ahead of time and then carved them on Halloween night.

Go Green! Use the whole pumpkin! One year I made a pumpkin pie from the rind. That gave me a whole new appreciation for Libby canned pumpkin!
We saved the seeds to roast. I would refrigerate them when we carved the pumpkin and roasted them a few days later.
Quick Recipe:
Wash and drain the seeds. This is a messy, tedius job but do it at least once with your kids so they appreciate the whole process!
2 cups pumpkin seeds
2 Tbsp butter or oil
1 tsp salt
Saute for 3 minutes in a skillet until all the seeds are coated with butter.
Bake for 30 minutes. I usually baked them longer to get the seeds crisp.
Eat them up!

I served pancakes for dinner the night of Halloween every year. It really cut my kids' appetite for sugar!

We tried to have the kids stick around and answer the door several times before heading out for their treats. It helped them to see the importance of thanking the giver.

The kids could 'pig' out on candy the night of Halloween. I monitored their selection after that. I offered to 'buy' candy from my kids. They willingly 'sold' me what they didn't want and I put it into a big jar that we had out for the babysitter to munch on. They liked having some spending money rather than all the candy once they got used to this plan.

I know Halloween has changed alot since my kids were young, but I still think it is a great time for fun. Focus on their imaginations and get involved!

Did You Do Halloween?

That's a question I am asked by younger women this time of year. They are wondering if my kids participated in Halloween activities.

I usually respond with a resounding YES! I know there are families that really don't want to encourage the dark side of Halloween, but I always saw it as an opportunity to stretch our kids' imagination!

What is more fun for kids than to dress up and play pretend?

Only humans have imagination, so let Halloween be a time when your kids are really encouraged to use their imagination.

Imagination will keep your kids occupied for hours.

A child's frame of reference is stretched with each new experience. Halloween is a great time to heighten an experience with dress-ups and props.

My mom made the greatest costumes for me when I was a kid and I still remember her excitement as I ventured out into the night as a princess, pirate or hobo. Memories can be made as parents interact with their children and imaginations make magical characters come alive.

Most moms take a ton of photos...but also provide many mirrors for your child on Halloween! Let them dress up all this week. Encourage them to stand in front of a mirror what ever their age. Have them make faces to discover a new 'mask' for themselves. Mirrors have a way of making a fussy child smile.

Halloween requires alot of parental involvement. Monitoring the treats, preparing the costumes, deciding which activities are appropriate, decorating the house, carving a jack-o-lantern....whew! Make Halloween a week long October-fest and let your own imagination be your guide!

Friday, October 23

Home Improvement...Be Intentional

Everyday this week on the blog there was something you could do as today I am going to just encourage you with a quote:

"From time to time, On-Purpose Persons may choose to be out of balance. Perhaps there's a major project that's essential to our purpose---then we go out of balance on a temporary basis. Giving ourselves consent to be off-balance tempers the ideal with the real---life, after all has surprises. A few words of caution are appropriate: Constant out-of-balance activity leads to being off-purpose."
(Kevin W.McCarthy, The On-Purpose Person:Making Your Life Make Sense)

Be an 'On-Purpose' (intentional) woman this weekend...and have fun!

Thursday, October 22

My Wheel of Life

Barb and Betsy shared earlier this week how the "wheel of life" exercise affected them. I too found the exercise to be meaningful, but in a different way. Three weeks ago we welcomed a new baby girl into our family. We also have a sixteen month old… (yikes!) Though I knew I would be busy, I had no idea HOW busy I would be. I feel like I am changing a record amount of diapers and although our family has only increased by 1… I think our laundry has quadrupled in size. I tend to be a person who likes my house neat, and with a newborn, I had forgotten that there are some things that I just need to let go.

With these things in mind, when the author challenged me to fill out the wheel of life, I thought it was going to reveal how unbalanced my life is right now. I honestly don't have a lot of time for self-care, dates with my husband, or coffee with girlfriends. Although we try to wish these things into our schedule as much as we can...right now we are pretty consumed with having two babies. (I don't know how all of you mothers of 3, 4, and 5 do it! My hat is off to you!) I was hesitant to do this exercise because I didn't want to feel guilty over how unbalanced my life seems right now. HOWEVER, I loved that instead of having us try to record how much time we have for all areas in our life, she had us think about our satisfaction levels. Because although I would love to have more time to sleep or converse with my girlfriends over lunch, I realized that I am incredibly satisfied in this stage of my life even though my wheel would look off-balanced. I am getting to do what I always wanted to do... raise children with a loving husband. Are there sacrifices I am making to stay at home with my kids? Yes, absolutely… but when I evaluate my level of satisfaction, it is so worth it; SO very worth it.

Regardless of your stage in life, I would challenge you to also think about your level of satisfaction in these areas. Like me, you may realize that even though some areas of your life are consuming most of your time... you really wouldn't want it any other way.

Wednesday, October 21

Balance, a word I can live with. . .as defined by the wheel of life

I feel a little bit like a broken record when I say this, but I am loving this book because of how it relates right back to my theme for this year, which is to be intentional. That is why after really giving this wheel of life a chance, I think it is something I will be able to use on a regular basis to check my intentionality.

Joan Webb states: anytime you feel overwhelmed, this simple exercise can help you evaluate your life situation and make adjustments to raise your satisfaction level. It gives you a base from which to work, helping you make proactive decisions instead of just letting life happen to you.

Isn’t that an awesome thought. . .to make proactive decisions instead of just letting life happen to you-wow!

If you know me at all, you know that I don’t love the word balance. It congers up feelings of the world telling me I must “do it all, have it all, and be it all - I just need to learn how to balance it all.” I don’t want to do it all! I just want to do those things the Lord wants me to do - the things He has gifted me for - and I want to do them as well as I can. That is why after reading this section of the book it was refreshing that their idea of balance has more to do with contentment of where I am rather than the balance of doing it all. Some examples they gave in the book were “that you might be a single woman and have little romance in your life right now, yet you are satisfied with that. Consider this when you mark your wheel. Or perhaps you just left a job and have not started a new one yet, but you are pleased with your situation. . .perhaps you have a chronic medical condition but have learned good coping skills and are pleased with your situation at the current time. In that case, you would register your physical well-being with a higher number than one might expect. Resist completing your wheel according to how you think someone else might register your level of satisfaction.” If we are not content, that indicates that we may be out of balance and should do something to change it. The responsibility is put back on me (where it should be). I know that I am ultimately responsible for my choices and decisions, and I can’t take responsibility for them unless I am regularly evaluating them. It also means evaluating our lives with our own priorities in mind not the worlds. I want to ask the Lord to regularly help me evaluate my wheel of life to make sure I am making decisions that align with His will and His plan for my life.

I also loved another quote from the book: “My felt ‘lacks’ are an opportunity to make decisions that fill the void.” So very true! I think we live in a world and a society that has us moving at the speed of light, and life just seems to be something that just happens to us. I don’t want my life to just happen. I want to take time to slow down and evaluate where I am at so that I use my time, energy and talents as wisely as possible. I challenge you to join me in this. Take a few minutes to fill out your wheel of life, what aren’t you satisfied with? Now, with God’s help, what are you going to do to change it?

I will leave you with one last quote from the book: “God is happy for you to slow down in order to determine where you want to go, what you want to do, and who you want to be. He wants-even expects-you to take responsibility for each area of your life.”

Lord, help us to each take responsibility for our own lives. Teach us to slow down and evaluate our decisions and learn to be content with our “balanced” lives!

Tuesday, October 20


(You can click on the images to enlarge)

We had a lively discussion at Homemakers last night about this diagram. All of us wanted to skip over it, thinking it was another exercise in BALANCE and we weren't ready to take on that guilt trip again.

We have all been told to get our life in balance, right?

As we followed the instructions we found this diagram had a lot of potential.

The upper 'wheel' is an example of how one might 'rate' their level of satisfaction with each area of their life. The outer edge would be a '10', while putting a curved line near the center of the circle would indicate a 1 or 2. A curved line is drawn to create a new outer edge, indicating how that area of life is measuring up.

The bottom 'wheel' is for the reader to fill out!

Go ahead, try it!

The object isn't to get all 9s and 10s. The aim is to gain a visual aid that helps me to make choices that lead to a more SATISFIED life.

The beauty of this exercise is that what may look like a bumpy road to others, may be just fine with me!

I am challenged to repeat this exercise any time I am overwhelmed with life. It can help me evaluate my life situation and make appropriate adjustments to raise my satisfaction level.

Isn't that what being balanced is all about?

When REALITY and EXPECTATIONS match up...SATISFACTION is usually the payoff.

Posted by Barbara

Monday, October 19

Personal Capital Account

Ever heard of it before? Carol Travilla says that we all have a personal capital account. It consists of our history, abilities, gifts, pain, forgiven sins, accomplishments, friendships, family, network, spiritual growth and reputation.

To determine what your account might look like ask yourself this question:

What is good about my life right now?

When I answered this question for myself, I quickly wrote down one-word answers. Later, I went back to review my response and realized I needed to be much more specific. In doing so, I really expanded my personal capital account and my outlook on life changed dramatically.

To figure out where our lives are going, we first need to figure out what is going on in our lives right now. It starts with good questions.

The second question Travilla poses is:

What concerns me about my life right now?
This questions identifies what fills my mind daily

The third question is;

What is lacking in my life right now?
By identifying what is lacking in my life, I will often find solutions for filling the void.


How do I want God to help me?
This question will help me to step out in faith, asking God to show me what I need to do to next.

At Homemakers with Hope, we shared our answers tonight. We agreed that this is an exercise that can be done often. It can be quite revealing if you are honest in your answers. Date the page when you are writing and save it to compare to the answers you have the next time around.

Are you up for a challenge? Take time to answer these questions for yourself...share them with us:) Don't get discouraged or overwhelmed. It is a process.

Friday, October 16

Home Improvement. . .re-think being organized and search for the ideas that will work for you

As I put together the entries for the blog this week, I felt like I wanted to end the week by emphasizing something that I think is fundamental to being organized. Yes, I happen to be an organized person by nature. I was blessed with the desire and ability to be organized (along with an awesome teacher in my mother). I LOVE cleaning out a drawer or closet and I will read anything I can get my hands on that has to do with organization. That said, I am very aware that there are women out there who do not find passion in being organized and feel like they can’t be that way. I think that is because people who are not organized by nature look at organized people and feel they need to be just like them. I think that is setting themselves up for failure. I am a firm believer that organization can be learned, but it needs to be organizing in a way that works for that person. What works for me may very well overwhelm an unorganized person. My desire is to share my passion and ideas with the hope that it will inspire and help someone else, but it needs to be couched in the fact that there are many ways to be organized. My hope is not to overwhelm but to inspire. Below is a list of a few of my favorite organizational books. I encourage you to choose one and see if an idea they offer will meet a need you have. My hope is you will be encouraged, inspired, and eventually organized!

Simplify your Life by Marcia Ramsland

A House that Cleans Itself by Mindy Starns Clark

Organizing Your Home and Family by Sandra Felton

Desperate Households by Kathy Peel

Thursday, October 15

Seasonal storage

I love the change in seasons and changing out my seasonal decorations. I thought I would share how I store my decorations and the process I use as I decorate for the fall. I discovered these sterilite containers years ago when I was teaching and I have been hooked ever since. Unfortunately these particular sterilite containers are now discontinued, but there isn’t a shortage of choices out there. The only reason I am sad I can not get these same ones is it is so convenient to have them all the same so they stack well. It just makes my life simpler. I also love the simplicity of the way they look. And let’s face it; I am one of those people who really, really like everything to match! I will say that the key to this is that bins you choose to purchase should be the same if you wish your system to flexible, efficient and easy to organize. Since all my tubs are the same kind, I can switch, stack and restack with little effort. This is very helpful for a busy mom.

I am blessed to have a great storage room in my basement. I keep all of my seasonal decorations in this room. (I know not everyone has a storage room to place all their decorations in. That is why it is so great to have all the choices that are available now when it comes to storage: tubs designed to go under beds, stacked in a closet, or even stored in a garage. Just take a walk through your house, find the available space then go out and find the tub that meets your needs). I have a select number of tubs for each holiday. When it comes time to change out my decorations, I pull the tubs for that holiday and bring them upstairs to where I want to decorate. As I pull out each new decoration and find a place for it, I will often take down a current decoration/photo etc. I then place those items into the tub I just emptied until the fall season is over. When it comes time to take down the fall decorations, I will pull those items out of the tubs before returning all the fall decorations to their home. I feel taking down some of my current decorations helps the room not become overwhelmed with stuff.

Well, this is my process; I would love to hear yours. As I stated before there is no right or wrong way to organize, just the way that works best for you. Organization is often a trial and error thing. If something isn’t working for you change it. Ask friends and family what works for them and use the ones that fit your personality and style. I hope this helped you think about the way you store your seasonal decorations. Enjoy your Thursday!

Wednesday, October 14

Changing seasonal/sizes children’s clothes Part 2

I have tried many ways of organizing my girls’ clothes, in the dresser, hanging in the closet. . .and we have landed on stacking on shelves and using buckets. They work for me as well as my girls. In Abigail’s room we have great shelves in her closet so together we organize her closet in a way that makes sense to her. This time around we have stacks of jeans, pants without matching tops, sweat suits, long sleeve shirts, short sleeves shirts, matching outfits and pajamas. Her socks, underwear and tights are in buckets. It makes it easy to put laundry away as well as easy for her to see all the choices she has. I do help her at bedtime choose her outfit for the next day. We talk about the weather, what her school day is like and basically what she feels like wearing. This really works well for her. She gets up in the morning and gets dressed right away (I must admit this does not work for me or my other daughter. I have tried to put clothes out the night before, but I have realized I am definitely a “what kind of mood am I in today” person. Maddie has inherited that same trait from me).

Here is a peek into Abigail's closet:

In Maddie’s room I also stack her clothes in piles but I also have buckets under what was her diaper-changing table (we have not gotten rid of it yet-it’s great storage). Each bucket has a different clothes item: long sleeve shirts, pajamas, diapers/underwear, pants, sweat suits and socks/tights. She knows what is in each one as well as all the stacks in her closet. When it comes to getting dressed I pretty much let her choose what she would like to wear, but there are times I need to redirect as she chooses clothes that do not match. I have found that limiting her choices, since she likes to have more of a say, works better for her. So I routinely hide some of her clothes and then rotate them.

Here is a peek into Maddie's buckets and closet:

My hope is you will begin to look at organizing in the light of knowing there is more than one-way to do something. Sometimes you need to do trial and error to find out what works best for you. Ask friends and family how they do things and then after trying a few, choose the one that works best for you. . .but always remember if something is not working for you-try something else. There is no right or wrong way to organize. I think the secret to being organized is finding a system that works for you and your family.

Tuesday, October 13

Changing seasonal/sizes children's clothes Part 1

Today and tomorrow I thought I would share how I go about changing the seasonal/size clothes for my girls as well as how we organize them in their closets. I am blessed with a wonderful friend who hands down all her daughter’s clothes for my daughters to enjoy. So I have had to come up with a system of organizing and rotating all the clothes through both girls’ rooms. When I get the hand-me-downs, I place them in banker boxes (we bought a ton of these when we moved home from college years ago and I have held onto them in the garage and have not regretted it once. They are worth their weight in gold. We have moved three times with these boxes, moved a kindergarten classroom around at least 5 times and now they house my children’s clothes-a great investment!) I label the outside of the box with a post-it note with the size written on it. (This way I can use the boxes for more than one thing without writing and crossing out the labeling) See the photo below. I then store them in the closets of each girl. When it comes to a change in season or size, I go through the current clothes, donate/throw-out used and out-grown clothes and trade out the new ones (I obviously put the clothes Abigail has outgrown in a new box and place in Maddie’s closet since she is younger). I also keep a grocery bag in each closet to place out-grown items in if they happen to out-grow something mid-season. When the bag gets full I put it in the garage to donate.

Stacy asked a question yesterday about organizing borrowed clothes. While I haven't personally had to deal with this exact situation, I am always happy to give you my ideas of what I would have tried and hopefully it will work for you. I think the main concern with borrowing clothes is that you will be able to get them back to the right person. I would first organize the clothes by size and by person and place them in a bucket or box labeled with the name/size. Do not think about the season, because you really have no way of knowing what size will fit when on which child. When you borrow clothes there are bound to be items that won't fit your child in the right season mainly because you did not buy them for your child. When you are in need of a new outfit, go to the size box you need and pull out an outfit or two. If you have a good enough memory, you can keep in with all your other clothes, otherwise once you've worn and washed it put it right back in the correct box/bin. I would like to make one side note on this, while it is so nice when you get hand-me-downs or clothes to borrow the tendency is to want to use them all. Give yourself permission to only rotate a few outfits at a time. I found when my girls were little, I only bought a few outfits at a time. It is much easier to handle a small amount of clothes, especially when your kids are little. It is okay to leave borrowed/hand-me-down clothes in the original box and donate them or give them back when you are done. Life is stressful enough without feeling the guilt of wearing all the clothes that were given to you. I hope that helps. I would love to hear more ideas on how you organize your children's clothes. Please leave a comment so we can learn from you.

Tomorrow I will share how I organize my girl's clothes in their closets. I hope you have a great Tuesday!

Monday, October 12

A week of organizing/cleaning ideas: my philosophy

This week Barb asked me to share a little about fall organizing. As much as I really like organizing, I realized that I tend to do most of my major organizing/cleaning in the spring. So this week I thought I would just share a few of the systems/routines or tips I use when organizing. I will try to focus on fall-related projects. I am someone who loves a new tip or idea relating to organizing/cleaning, and I am always looking for better ways of doing things. My best systems change and grow with me as my life and priorities change with the girls. It will more than likely be a little random, but my hope is you can find one new idea to put into place in your home to make your life just a little bit easier.

Today I will share my basic philosophy about organizing. Something my mother taught me (through her example) that I am very grateful for-maintenance cleaning. I think this is why I hesitated when Barb asked me to share about fall organizing. I am not a once or twice a year organizer. When I see a problem arise, I deal with it right away. I pick up as I go so the mess never gets out of hand. I do a load or 2 of laundry everyday so I do not have to do all the laundry on one day. I do the dishes as I cook and right after dinner so they do not sit there and get even harder to clean. I think this is probably one of the most important things I hope to teach my daughters. Life is overwhelming enough and everything seems to be easier when done in small pieces. I will admit this requires a little bit more work on the front end for you as the mom, but it will pay off in the long run. When the kids are done playing with a game, make them put it away right after they are done before they get another game out. Yes, you have to check on them and hold them accountable, but before long you will see the benefits as they begin to pick up after themselves instead of you doing it for them. There is nothing more overwhelming than going into a room that has every toy and game strewn all over the floor. No one wants to play in there and no one wants to clean it up. The project seems too big.

So my tip for today is start looking around your house for things you can do right away to help maintain the order in your home. You will be surprised that most jobs you put off doing will take less than 5 minutes. Find a home for your things and put them back right when you are done using them. I know it may seem overwhelming in the beginning, but I think you will be surprised at how quickly it can become a habit. Happy maintaining!

Thursday, October 8

Home Improvement...Try a New Recipe!

Here's another recipe to try out on your family. It is a fun, fall munchie:


Mix: 1 cup Orville Redenbacher popping oil
2 Tbsp garlic salt
1 Pkg Hidden Valley Original recipe salad dressing
Add to 2 bags of pretzel. Mix. Better if it sits a bit.

Enjoy a new recipe this weekend!

caramel apples

Another fall tradition at our house is making caramel apples. Yes, they are a little messy to make with little hands, but fun none-the-less. This year I discovered these caramel bits that make the process so much easier. No more unwrapping each caramel-yeah! Here are the ingredients I use:

12 small apples (I use Honeycrisp)

2 bags of caramel bits

2 Tbsp water

1 bag of peanut butter and milk chocolate chips

1 bag mini milk chocolate m&m’s

2 microwavable bowls (I used two bowls since I have two girls. They each had their own bowls to hold the apples over as they covered them with the caramel)

wax paper

Place the caramel bits in the bowl with 1 Tbsp of water. Melt caramel. It should only take a minute or 2 depending on the power of your microwave. I usually try 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between each time.

While the caramel is melting, help your kids push the sticks into each apple. (sticks come in each packet of caramels)

Place wax paper onto a couple of plates to place the apples after they are ready.

Place m&m’s and other toppers in separate bowls to dip.

After the caramel is melted, have each child dip the apple in one at a time. (If you use a small narrow bowl it will be easier for them to dip). Once the apple is covered, hold the apple above the bowl and twirl a little to let the excess drop off. Next hand a topping to the child to add to their apple. They can set the apple directly into the topping and with their hands press the topping onto the sides. This is the messy part. Once the apple is covered, place on the wax paper. It is best if you can place them directly in the fridge to set-up, but most of us do not have the fridge space for that. As you can see by my apples below, the toppings are falling off but they still taste delicious, they just don’t look that perfect.

I hope you will find some time this fall to make these with your kids. . .or just for yourself. If you are a peanut butter lover, you have to try the ones with those chips-they are delicious! Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 7

chunky applesauce

I absolutely love the fall. I think one of my favorite things about the fall season has to be apples. I know you can get apples year round, I just think they taste just a little bit better during the fall. And of course, my favorite kind of apple, honeycrisp, just happens to only be available during the fall. So I guess it would be appropriate to share a few of my favorite apple recipes this week. Both are very easy to make and require little ingredients, but they are both delicious and really fun to make with kids. Today I am going to share my homemade chunky applesauce recipe with you. It is really one of those recipes you just throw together-not much measuring. Here are the ingredients you will need:

6-8 granny smith apples

Approx. ¼ cup water

Approx. ¼ cup cinnamon and sugar (I tend to use less and taste it as it is cooking, depending on the sweetest of the apples you can usually get away with less sugar)

(I apologize to those of you who like an exact amount-I promise this is a very forgiving recipe)

I peel the apples and cut them into bite size chunks. Next, I place them in the crock pot, sprinkle on the cinnamon and sugar and add the water. I turn the crock pot on low and let them simmer. It usually only takes a few hours to soften. I prefer chunky applesauce so I watch mine pretty closely. It doesn’t hurt to stir it a few times to get the cinnamon and sugar mixed around either. When it reaches the consistency you like, spoon into a fun dish and enjoy! The smell alone is worth trying this recipe.

Tuesday, October 6

Shredded Beef Sandwiches

Yeah Twins! What a great game tonight...the entire state of Minnesota was cheering on the Twins and now we're off to New York!

Here is a great and very easy recipe for fall - on game day or any day!

Shredded Beef
Buy one chuck roast (pretty big one - around $15). Cook roast uncovered in oven for 1 hr at 400 degrees. Refrigerate overnight. Slice thin in the morning. Put meat in crockpot. Mix 1pkg Good Seasons Italian Dressing and one pkg au juice mix and then add two cups of water. Pour over the roast in the crockpot. Cook 5-6 hours in crockpot. Toast Kaiser Rolls with butter and garlic salt right before serving. Enjoy!!

Monday, October 5

Game Day Goodies

Vikings play the Packers tonight...

Twins play the Tigers tomorrow...

What do you have cookin' for the big games?

Try this easy, tasty treat:

Corn Bread Pizza Wheels

1# ground beef
1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (8ounces) tomato sauce
4 teaspoon chili powder
1 jar (4ounces) pimientos, drained
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies, drained
1 cup ( 4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons cornmeal
2 tubes refrigerated corn bread twists (Sometimes I can't find these so I use the refrig. bread sticks)

Shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and sour cream

Brown meat. Add beans, tomato sauce and chili powder. Simmer, uncovered, until liquid has evaporated.
Remove from heat; cool. Stir in pimientos, chilies and cheese. Set aside

Sprinkle 2 greased 14 in pizza pans with cornmeal. Pat corn bread dough into a 14 in circle on each pan. With a sharp knife, cut a 7-in "X" in the center of the dough. Cut another 7-in "X" to form eight pie-shaped wedges in the center.

Spoon filling around edge of dough. Fold points of dough over filling; tuck under ring and pinch to seal (filling will be visible and it will look like a pinwheel!)

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Fill center with lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream when serving it.

It's pretty, festive and delicious.

Friday, October 2

response to comment. . .

Yesterday someone commented on my thoughts on chapter one so I thought I would post it today to clarify if anyone else had the same question. Anonymous asked:

Could you elaborate on "ones who have less?" This phrase makes me feel uncomfortable for some reason though I can't pinpoint why.

When I was referring to those with more and less I was using it in a broad sense to represent all the ways we as women compare ourselves to other women. We look at other women and what they “have” or “do not have” and compare ourselves to them (i.e. their house, whether they are married or not, whether they have a supportive husband, whether they have kids, whether their kids are good/bad. . .all our perception of those things). We also compare ourselves to other women’s strengths or weaknesses (what we perceive as either). We tend to think less of ourselves when we compare ourselves to others strengths, but we also can do the opposite and compare ourselves to others weaknesses to make us feel better about ourselves. Both are very destructive to the way we view ourselves. God designed us each with unique strengths, and the last thing we should be doing is comparing them to others strengths or tearing someone else down because of a weakness-we all have too many of those and would not like others to be judging us based on them. It is not our job to look at others and judge them based on our perceptions of their strengths and weaknesses. My main point was what a change we could have on our families if we spent more time looking at the way God made us and His design for our lives than looking around at others and what they seem to have or not have. I hope that helps clarify things for you a bit. . .thanks for the question.

Thursday, October 1

My thoughts on chapter one. . .

There are so many parts in this first chapter that are worthy to be talked about, but I think the one I would most like to talk about today happens to be the same quote that Barb quoted on Monday.

If I live intentionally, being true to my own personality, serving out of my God-given giftedness and calling, I no longer feel a need to envy anyone else’s career, marriage, ministry, talents, or mission.

I think this quote could quite possibly change lives for the best if we women would actually put it into practice. I think one of the greatest tragedies with women in general is our unbelievable ability to compare ourselves to others (and I do not mean that in a good sense). One thing I have learned in my short life is that I can ALWAYS find a woman who has more than I do and one who has less. I think comparing myself either way is very dangerous and is not what God desires for me. Just think what could happen if we rejoiced with other women in their strengths and abilities while focusing on our own. We are all made in the image of God, designed by Him to use the gifts He gave us to ultimately glorify Him. When we compare ourselves to others we are basically telling God He made a mistake. When you think of that out loud you realize how really silly that sounds.

I challenge you to stop looking around at others and comparing yourself to them (either because they seem to more gifted or less gifted than you) and start focusing on all the gifts that God has given you. God has a purpose for you and your life alone-one that no other person can fulfill but you. Isn’t that amazing. . . isn’t that empowering? Put your trust in God. He did not make a mistake when he made you the way He did. Take your eyes off others and look up.