Week in Review

Meals for the week

  • Chicken burritos
  • Braised chicken with carrots and rice
  • Salisbury steak with mushroom gravy, potatoes au gratin, corn on the cob
  • Apple pancakes, sausage, bacon, scrambled cheese eggs, fresh fruit
  • Turkey breast, mashed potatoes, stuffing, broccoli
  • Chicken sausage and mushroom calzones
  • Thanksgiving sandwiches, fresh fruit

Eye Towards Rhythm

Circle time was re-established!  We sang the “Good Morning” song, “Where is Thumb-kin,” and the “ABC” song.  We marched counting by ones and talked about the day, season, and weather. We then read from my favorite childhood  book, The Grosset Treasury of Nursery Rhymes, which includes poetry from Robert Louis Stevenson, The Three Little Kittens, The House That Jack Built, and Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush, along with popular nursery rhymes.  It’s the same book that my mom read to me, minus the back cover.  This book has seen better days and is well used and adored!

We had a couple of activities this week.  I was able to spend time in the kitchen baking one-on-one with each child, which was wonderful!  Jackson helped me to make the dough for monkey bread.  Alex did the dipping of dough balls and helped to make some chocolate chip cookies.  Izzy helped with dinner each night by taking her seat on the counter in the corner next to the sink.  She loves to smell the various cooking herbs and spices while I chop, stir, cook, and wash.

We also painted twice this week.  While awaiting our watercolor order for school, I bought each child a cheapo set of watercolor cake paints that they’ve been enjoying.

The kids also helped with various chores around the house.  Izzy helped with the sweeping of the kitchen by being on dustpan patrol.  Jackson helped clean out the leaves in the toy shed.  And Alex mopped the entryway for me in addition to his regular jobs.

Handwork

I’ve been working on a hat for Christmas and Alex asked to knit something alongside me.  I wasn’t planning on incorporating handwork back into our days for another week or two, but since opportunity presented itself…

I casted on 20 stitches of white cotton yarn and passed it to Alex, who decided to knit up a coaster for daddy’s new bedside table (a Goodwill find for only $9!)  He’s worked on it in the evenings after dinner a few days this past week and is making excellent progress.

Around the House

I’ve been trying to complete a few bigger projects, de-clutter, and get organized.  I’m still trying to stick to my daily room cleaning schedule, but some days go better than others:

Monday – Kitchen – swept, mopped, sink and counters got a thorough scrub.

Tuesday – Bathrooms – James re-caulked the toilet, mopped, and normal weekly clean.

Wednesday – Bedrooms – I cleaned out our closet and Izzy’s armoire!  Boys’ closet still needs done.

Thursday – Open (This will be our homeschooling co-op day, which takes up most of the day.) – I worked outside on the toy shed.

Friday – Living room and playroom – Hoping to work on de-cluttering a bit.

For the Weekend

It’s finally going to start feeling like summertime around here and heat up into the 90s!  We’ll probably spend some time splashing in the kiddie pool.  Maybe a trip to the splash park will be order too?

We can’t put off looking for a minivan much longer with the baby due to arrive in as early as 8 weeks, so I’m hoping we start our search.  Even if we only look at one vehicle, it’s a start. 😉

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Nesting

It seems to happen in bursts for me.  I go into a frenzy of cleaning, de-cluttering, and organizing and well, I’m having another burst!  My recent and current projects:

Boys’ Room – I painted it RED!  James helped move the furniture and disassemble the bunk-beds and together we came up with a new layout for their room.  Alex and Jackson each have their own space and it seems to be helping them in keeping their room cleaner.  I found a couple of rocket paintings at Goodwill half off and need to hang those on the wall, as well as apply corkboard to the back of Alex’s bookshelf.  Anyone know a good adhesive to use for that so the corkboard won’t fall off?

Our Bedroom – All linens have been washed and clothes put away.  I finally put the down comforter up and away in the closet after an unseasonably cooler summer.  It’s August for crying out loud and I shouldn’t need that big ol’ thing at night to keep warm!

I squeezed the rocking chair into the layout and cleared out space in the closet – I’m thinking for baby clothes/diapers/blanket storage space.  I finally hung up Izzy’s dresses in the closet, down low where she can reach them. 😉

I also went through Izzy’s armoire and cleared out all the diapers.  She’s been potty-trained for over a month now and certainly doesn’t need them anymore.   More than half of the diapers are headed for the trash since they were in that poor of shape!  Mama is going to HAVE to go diaper shopping after Christmas.  The basket that held  all the diaper covers is also in poor shape and needs to be replaced, on the to-do list.

Kitchen – Swept and mopped.  I feel like I’ve gotten a handle on the food storage and freezer space after a few months of overload.  An inventory list has been made of the spices and herbs and one will soon be made for the freezers.

James has been helping me with meal planning, which makes all the difference in the world!   I have no problem shopping, prepping, and cooking meals when I know what’s coming.  We planned 16 meals in a single round.  I’m eating better and feeling better for it too!

Living and Play Room – Mainly maintaing some sense of order, or at least pretending.  I need to attack the top of the entertainment center and work on a few toys solutions, but that will come in time.

Outside – My parents gave us a wonderful used riding lawn mower for our anniversary last month!  This has been a huge help and inspired James to do a bit of extra yard work.  He trimmed all the bushes, weeded the various beds, and even mulched the front bed!  I followed his lead and have been working on the kids’ storage shed in the back.  It had lots of left-over toys, broken, toys, and leaves galore, so I’ve been working a little each week to clear out and get rid of a bit more.  I’ve cut the stuff at least in half and got rid of the leaves today!  Jackson thinks he has a new clubhouse and all the kids can play in there comfortably with bikes and all in there with them!

Homeschool – I’ve been a planning maniac!  I’m so excited for Alex’s third grade year and all that we have planned: farming, Old Testament, building structures, fiber arts, Native American and Jewish studies!  The planning is about done, a book wishlist made, and a few supplies ordered.

We’re trying to slide back into our rhythm this month and start full lessons come September.  Circle time has been sorely missed, as have the activities that follow.  I’m loving this re-connecting time with all the kids.

Holiday Planning – I have a few gifts done and ready to go.  I’m working on a few more and got another idea this week for another project.  I still have high hopes of finishing most of my sewn and knitted gifts before October.

Baby Prep – Um, we’re having a baby soon?  One would think that nesting behavior would include some baby preparation, but not really so in my case.  I finally thought to get out the newborn diapers and start to rip out nasty worn-out elastic, but that’s the only baby task happening.  There is nothing in our house or car for that matter that indicates that we’re expecting a baby in as little as 8 weeks.  Honestly though, what does a baby need!?

Well, we do need to start looking at minivans since a fourth carseat will not under any circumstances fit into our current family vehicle.

Seeing Red

I’ve wanted to paint the boys’ room for some time.  It was on the “to-do” list that kept growing instead of shrinking.

The boys were rooting for blue, but in order to match what we already have, it would have been navy blue or a light blue.  Light blue would have needed a primer coat and I was afraid of it approaching the dreaded country blue that I don’t much care for.  Navy would have been too dark, especially for a smaller room.

Red!

Being the brilliant man that he is, James recommended red.  It matches all of the boys’ bedding and wouldn’t need a primer coat since the mauve on the walls (before shot above) would be a perfect base layer.

So, around lunchtime yesterday, I declared that a trip to the hardware store was a necessity to buy paint.  James was working from home, so he kindly moved the furniture for me and by dinnertime, I had applied two coats of red paint.

The boys couldn’t be happier with the results.

Alex and Nova in Red

Jackson and Izzy in Red

Simplicity

Thread

I’m back on track with my de-cluttering the house.  No less than 6 cardboard boxes are stacked and waiting to be recycled.  A pile of things to be donated to Goodwill is being accumulated.  I discovered that I do indeed have a countertop in the kitchen and hope to find that I have lots of empty shelf space in the laundry closet once I get to that area as well.

Yesterday’s focus was on our bedroom and converting the office/sewing room into a sewing/bedroom.  One day it will become Izzy’s room, but we have no false expectations of that happening anytime soon and embrace as much.  I really love what is happening in both of the rooms.  We moved a dresser and our beds and now our bedroom is functional again.  No more climbing over a bed to attempt to get into the closet.  The toddler bed set-up is secure regardless of jumping and bouncing.  The lighting works better.

The other bedroom is a bit slower in progression.  I’m unpacking gifted sewing items and organizing them using mason jars and appreciating their vintage beauty.  The inspiration I’m getting every time I walk in the room is overwhelming and it’s hard to continue the work that needs to be done to finish the job and not stop immediately to sew or knit.

Oh, how I am enjoying the simpler things these days.  De-cluttered living space, lemonade, muffins, warm days on the blanket in the grass, watching the kids ride their bicycles, and farmer’s market.  Summer is almost here.

Pantry Organization

Pantry 1

It’s been on my to-do list for weeks and I finally got around to it!  I’ve been getting containers through Frontier ($2.10 for the gallon size) for the past couple of months to have some sort of affordable storage system and I’m quite happy with the results.

Top shelf

Storage on the top shelf for serving baskets and food dehydrator.  The next shelf has the rotisserie, white rice, cocoa powder, and baskets full of dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, and other randomness.

Bottom

Next is the grain and bean shelf.  I keep the various wheat berries behind the ground flour in the gallon size containers.  This is a great size and has an opening big enough to accommodate my measuring cups.  I keep both steel cut oats and rolled oats on hand and love to make oatmeal with both.  If you haven’t tried crockpot steelcut oatmeal from Alton Brown, I highly recommend it!

On the last shelf I have a basket of a variety of potatoes and a bag of onions.  I’d like to get a separate basket for onions as there are times when we have more than 2-3 onions.  We have some bottled water and boxed juice for picnics and then a corner full of various pastas.  I’m thinking another basket or container would be good for containing the pasta as well.  In front of that is boxed cereal, crackers and our snack basket.  The snack basket was recommended to me at a LLL meeting 5 years ago and has worked amazingly well for our family!  It allows the kids to make their own snack choice without my help.  It’s especially great for toddlers when there’s a new baby in the house.   I keep it filled with cereal bars, kid portions of nuts, dried fruit, pretzels, cereal, fruit leathers, applesauce, granola bars, etc.   They also have the fruit drawer as an option.

fruit drawer

Our pantry is a converted coat closet.  We have about 3 feet under the last shelf where I keep a 5-gallon bucket of beans, 10 pounds of AP flour, a big box of trash bags, a broom and dustpan for easy access and the trash can.  I don’t think you need a picture.

We also have a corner spinning cabinet where we keep various oils, vinegars, coffee, baking goods, canned goods, sugar, maple syrup, honey, etc.  It’s location is right next to the stove, which makes it ever so nice to have everything within an arm’s reach when needed!

So that’s my picture tour of my organized pantry.  I guarantee that it won’t look this neat and tidy in a couple of weeks.

A little fabric

My friend Maria gave me some wonderful fabric and notions from her grandmother and this inspired me to organize my fabric yesterday.  I’m hoping this small task will now inspire me to get sewing.  I have an anxious little girl waiting for her birdie pajama pants.  The pattern is pinned and will literally take me 15 minutes to complete once I start.  And then I plan on making lunch bags for all three kiddos for Easter and need to complete that by Sunday without them finding out, so I to to get to it!

Fabric

In the Kitchen

I didn’t give up the computer for Lent, but I have somehow managed to spend more time away from it lately, which definitely has it’s benefits, but does mean less blogging and such.

I found two cool baking sites that I wanted to share:

Baking Bites – Yummy recipes for making Girl Scout cookies.  I love Girl Scout cookies, but I hate fundraisers where very little of the profit goes to benefit the little people doing all the work of selling.  And then there’s the not so happy ingredients to preserve “freshness.”  Not to mention the increased cost and the reduced size of the cookies that happens every year.  So how happy am I to have stumbled onto this website yesterday so I can make my very own Girl Scout cookies at home any time of the year!

The Fresh Loaf – Breadbaking 101.  This website has video tutorials for making the perfect loaf of bread, many recipes, and forums for sharing and troubleshooting.

Speaking of baking, I’ll be throwing a bird-shaped cake together for my sweet little Izzy’s second birthday later on this week.  How can that be!?!  I haven’t decided on the kind of cake or frosting, but I better hurry up already since I only have 2 more days!

I’ve been good with my meal planning and I’ve been trying to cut down the grocery bill a bit to accommodate other coming expense.  I’m in awe of Kara at Rockin’ Granola with her $70 per week budget and I’m trying to learn a thing or two.  Our meals for this week include:

Shredded chicken Marsala over mashed potatoes – my recipe

Indian fried rice – James’ concoction

Corn dogs with baked sweet potatoes

Minestrone (not sure which recipe yet) and salad

Chicken and dumplings

Frittata with blueberry muffins (Cook’s Illustrated basic muffin)

Unstuffed peppers – my recipe based loosely on this recipe

Black bean soup (Trader Joe’s with extras added in) and corn muffins

Cheese tortellini with marinara (Trader Joe’s)

And I’ve gone breakfast happy and have grand plans for making a big batch of waffles and pancakes for the freezer at some point this week.  I love breakfast and get many of my recipes from Bed and Breakfast Online.  Nothing like treating yourself with a little homemade yumminess first thing in the morning!