Wednesday, August 30, 2017

No.24: Your Story Matters & Other Lessons Learned at the CWBN Mid-Atlantic Conference

I almost didn't go.

Our first week of homeschooling had been rough and I was mentally (and physically!) exhausted.  The idea of interacting with so many women overwhelmed my very introverted heart and I tried to come up with reasons to stay home: You're kinda awkward.  You have to bring your baby and that will just ruin the whole experience.  No one reads your blog anyway.  Thank goodness, I didn't listen to those negative voices in my head.

The conference was generously hosted at Ana's home and the three main speakers were Elizabeth, Kelly and Mary.  All four women spoke so beautifully and I've been thinking about their wisdom ever since.  Here are just a few:

Your Story Matters

Have you ever had truth spoken to you that almost shakes you to your core?  This one line was that for me.  For years, I've struggled with the idea that I'm just adding to the Internet noise, that my blog sounds like a narcissist who only talks about herself, that I really have nothing of any substance to offer the world.  To have someone tell me (well, the whole group, but it felt like it was said just for me) that the little things I write here matter...I was speechless and humbled.  Now to begin to believe it.

You Can Still Have Joy Amidst the Suffering

What's the saying? "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."  It's so true.  Because many stories are not just mine to tell, I often don't share much of the difficult parts of my life.  But like everyone else, my life is messy and complicated and sometimes really, really hard.  So in an attempt to combat the negative, I use this blog as a way to seek joy even in the suffering.  I intentionally seek gratitude when it feels like there's nothing really to be thankful for.  Mary said that, despite all of her suffering, people still tell her that she's so filled with joy.  I really hope that I can live my life so people will say the same about me.

Your Blog Can Be What You Make of It

I started this blog six years ago, a young mom of three little boys and in need of something that fueled my creativity.  Through the years, my writing has ebbed and flowed.  I've grown and changed and the blog has done the same.  During my break this past spring, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to share and the direction I wanted to take.  Now, months later, I don't have many clear answers, but I'm still showing up.  I think that's a good thing.      

A Community of Like-Minded Bloggers is a Gift

Being in community with so many like-minded women is so special.  Shortly after returning home from the conference, I was reading in St. Josemaria Escriva's The Way and came across this passage:
...Unity and variety.  You have to be different from one another, as the saints in Heaven are different, each having his own personal and very special characteristics.  But also, you have to be as identical as the saints, who would not be saints if each of them had not identified himself with Christ.  - #947
The bloggers at the conference represented a beautifully wide range and yet we all had our faith in common.  Unity and variety.  What a privilege and a gift.

P.S. In case you're curious, P was a good baby conference attendee!  He wouldn't stay with the sitters, but was happy and mostly non-distracting.
Thank you, Rosie, for the pictures!

Monday, August 28, 2017

No.23: Five August Favorites

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At the risk of sounding like total fat kids, Mark and I love food.  We aren't "foodies" by any stretch, but we love sitting down to a good meal together.  There's just something about dinner and good conversation...I don't know, it's our mutual love language.  When we moved to our new home two months ago, I wanted to find something special that we could do as a couple.  And randomly, I stumbled on Home Chef.  I know there are a ton of these dinner box subscriptions out there, but the price was right (with $30 off the first delivery, it ended up being less than $20 for 4 meals) and we tried it out, fully planning to cancel if we weren't impressed.  GUYS.  Friday nights have become our favorite time in the entire week.  I have our delivery set to Friday, so our friendly Fed/Ex lady drops the box off in the afternoon.  We usually make pizza with the kids, watch a movie and then whisk them off to bed so we can cook together.  For whatever reason - maybe because we didn't have to grocery shop or make the menu? - just following the instructions together is so fun.  And almost every single thing we've made has been delicious.  We have the "two meals for two" plan, so we'll usually cook one to eat together on Friday night and then make the other to give Mark two lunches for work.  If our budget is extra tight one paycheck, we skip one week's delivery and just spread the two meals out.  It's a bit of a frivolous expense, but I can't tell you how wonderful it's been for my marriage.  (If you're interested, you can use my referral link to get $30 off your first delivery too!)

I love this stuff.  Nuun is basically an electrolyte replenisher but without all the sugar and artificial coloring.  I use one tablet in a big glass of ice water after every run, along with a scoop of collagen peptides.  They are easy to transport, so we've also brought them for the boys after a hard soccer practice too.  My favorite flavor is Citrus Fruit, but they're all really good.  

My favorite hymn.  I randomly had it stuck in my head one day and a quick YouTube search revealed a version by Audrey Assad.  She sings it so beautifully!

Since I started lifting weights, CrossFit has begun to pique my interest.  Who am I?!  I don't recognize myself either, hah!  There are two documentary-type movies on Netflix about the CrossFit Games and I've watched them at least two or three times each.  (My favorite is Tia-Clair Toomey!)  I'll never be in the shape these athletes are in, but it's so amazing to see what the human body can do.  
I think I've mentioned how much I love Swagbucks on the blog before.  I'm always searching for something on the Internet anyway, so why not earn points and eventually get paid for it?  You can also earn points by completing surveys, shopping through their links or even watching videos.  I've been saving my points this summer and just cashed in for a $10 Amazon gift card.  I've got six birthdays and Christmas on the horizon, so every little bit helps!


What are five of your favorite things this month?  Comment with your five or write a post and leave the link in the comments.  I'll officially be making this a monthly link-up starting next month.  I'm so excited to read your lists!

Friday, August 25, 2017

No.22: Our Farmhouse Schoolhouse in Photos (Week 01)

Whew.  What a roller coaster of a week.  I feel like this is the first time I've come up for air!  There were days when I was in that perfect "this is the life" bubble of happiness and then there were days where I was questioning whether to send them all off to the local public school.  After being home with them all summer, I (naively) didn't expect to experience such a transition period for the beginning of the school year.  Clearly, I have no idea what I'm doing.

All in all, we survived and I think I'm more focused going into week two.  You should see all of my beautifully pre-made schedules and plans!  All marked up and switched around.  God loves to stretch my Type-A, "everything just so" personality.  

Notes and highlights:


Still working out the kinks in our Morning Basket routine.  We are looping Aesop's Fables (although I'm not impressed with my copy and in need of a new version), Beatrix Potter, and Once Upon a Time Saints.  Morning basket is primarily for the younger kids, but the big boys stuck around to listen and draw.  To keep little hands busy while listening, I brought out the one surprise I've kept all summer: gears! (Big hit.)  We also practiced saying the Pledge of Allegiance, prayed the Morning Offering and then started on this month's poem, "About the Teeth of Sharks" by John Ciardi.  I'm amazed at the ease in which children can memorize things.  After three days, Sophie could say just about the entire thing!  We finish Morning Basket time with our read aloud: The Cricket in Times Square.    


+ D and J are loving Viking history!  I had originally only scheduled this twice a week, but they begged and begged to have it everyday.  I spent a few evenings scrambling for more projects and books to read and I think I'm set for the next six weeks.  This week, we read from Leif the Lucky, traced the voyage from Norway to Greenland on the map and colored pictures of a Viking boy and Erik the Red.  I also read a story from d'Aulaire's Book of Norwegian Folktales, which we really enjoyed.  Last project of the week was creating a Viking ship collage.

+ For M's history, we got started on the Civil War unit.  He read the first six chapters of Across Five Aprils. (The first chapters are pretty slow-paced, but it picks up if you persevere.)  He also watched an animated map of the battle of Bull Run - I found it so helpful in my own understanding of battle strategy. #visuallearner


+ We're a week into our Brave Writer Arrow guide for A Cricket in Times Square and loving it!  This week, the boys used a passage from Chapter 1 for copywork.  We also talked about onomatopoeia.  I would throw out a situation and they would describe for me the words you could use to describe that sound.  They incorporated what they learned in their free writing later in the week.  I asked for 10 minutes, but they ended up going for closer to 30!


+ I introduced our exploration into Africa (our geography theme this year) and printed a huge map to keep on the wall (I did the 3x3).  The kids colored pictures while I read Africa is Not a Country.  On to Nigeria next week! 


+ Sophie's letter of the week was Ee.  We read a bunch of Piggie and Elephant books (her favorite was We Are in a Book!) and cooked hard-boiled eggs.  She's always dying to peel the eggs when Mark and I make them, so this was a BIG deal.

+ A Year of Playing Skillfully doesn't technically begin until September, so I just chose a couple activities for these first two weeks.  We read Frog and Toad All Year and then played with water beads and frog and turtle toys!  Huge hit, especially with TJ.  


+ Winslow Homer is our first artist of the year.  I read a short biography and then we checked out his painting, "Snap the Whip," from the Simply Charlotte Mason pack.  I explained the game to the kids to help them understand the painting and before I knew it, we were playing the game ourselves!  So many giggles as we ran around crazily in the school room.  It was the highlight of our week.

Current 1000 Books Project Total: 26/1000


+ Exercise: I managed to somehow tweak my hip flexor, so I took the entire week off.  It felt so strange not to workout everyday, but I'm sure my body needed the break.
+ Reading: I'm getting in a chapter or two of Anne of Green Gables before bed.
+ Fun: Getting ready for a day out (with P) at the CWBN Mid-Atlantic Conference tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

No.21: What We're Reading in August

There's always room for a story that can transport people to another place. - JK Rowling

D (age 8)
SOPHIE (age 4)
TJ (age 2)

Monday, August 21, 2017

No.20: 20 Things I Love - A Gratitude Journal vol.2

brand new sharpened pencils
the mama and baby turkeys that visit our backyard in the morning
big boys flying around the driveway on their bikes
Amazon boxes on the doorstep
the feeling of accomplishment after a sweaty run
the Ergo (fussy, teething babies are no joke!)
the fire pit that the kids spent all day creating in the yard
braiding Sophie's hair
texts with pictures of my sweet little nephew
peaceful rainstorms at dusk
deadlifting over 100 pounds for the first time
packing Big White Farmhouse orders to wonderful customers
wearing a dress to church that was way too tight two months ago
laughing with my sister
a freshly mopped floor (so strangely satisfying!)
watching Mark mow the lawn
Friday family movie nights with Mark's homemade pizza
starting a favorite book again after many years
peanut butter toast with sliced bananas on top
the first day of a new school year - wish us luck!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

No.19: Our 2017-2018 Homeschool Plan - Term One

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This year will be our fourth year homeschooling.  I'm doubling my students and will have kids in fifth, third, first and kindergarten!  I am really thankful for our public school experiences, but also excited to see how they grow back at home.  This time around, I have much more confidence in my abilities as a teacher.  I've been chipping away at this all summer, picking up books (I got probably 75% used) and marking up lots of blank calendars!  Planning is my jam - now to have the discipline to complete it.

As anyone who has ever even dipped a toe into homeschooling has seen, there are A LOT of amazing choices out there and it's really tempting to try all.the.things.  My personal goal for the school year is to be confident in the curriculum I've chosen and not compare/question my decisions when I see the next shiny new thing.  That said, I am also allowing myself the option to add a few things as we go: Shakespeare, maybe a foreign language, a few extra-curricular activities (martial arts?), a coding program for M, etc.  We don't have to begin every single thing on Day #1.

Below is the plan for Term One, or the goals of the first twelve weeks of school.  We may complete all of it or maybe just some, but it's helpful for me to see it all laid out in bullet form.  


TERM ONE: August 21-November 10


Spine: Beautiful Feet's Modern and US History program
I'm stretching this guide out a bit and estimating that it will last us over a year, maybe two.  We're spending our first term entirely on the Civil War!
Books, Field Trips and Projects:

Spine: Beautiful Feet's Early American History program
I'm stretching this guide out too and hoping to complete in two years.  Term one will focus on early explorers and Columbus.
Books and Projects:




Spine: Beautiful Feet's History of Science program


The three big boys will also be attending religious education at our parish.

We are focusing on the continent of Africa this year, learning about one country a week.  As a family, we will be completing a notebook of all we discover.
Spine: The Africa Book and the Discover Africa Notebooking Packet
Term One Countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Senegal, Mali, the Gambia, Sierra Leone, Morocco, Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia
Books and Projects:


The plan is to bake something delicious on Wednesdays and have special tea (or hot cocoa!) time in the afternoon.  For term one, we're going to learn about different poem types, enjoy them aloud and maybe even create a few ourselves.  Very low-key and (hopefully!) fun.
Spine: Child's Introduction to Poetry: Listen While You Learn About the Magic Words That Have Moved Mountains, Won Battles, and Made Us Laugh and Cry

This preschool-ish (it's for ages 3-7) curriculum is primarily for S and TJ, but I think J will be interested in some of the activities too.  I'm having my big boys help with the games.  I'm really hoping this will be the catalyst to making many memories as a family.


A quick note: Just because we have chosen to homeschool our children does not mean that I am anti-other forms of education.  Not at all!  We were very blessed to have wonderful teachers in public school last year and I'm so grateful for the time, effort (and money!) that they invested in my kids.  Having been on both sides of the schooling coin now, if you are sending your kids out into the world this fall, can I offer one little piece of wisdom?  Don't let the school have all the fun.  If your son comes home exploding with excitement over learning about the Civil War, head to the library to check out tons of books on the subject.  Offer to take him to a live reenactment that weekend.  Maybe your daughter thinks science experiments are really cool and complains in passing that they don't do enough in the classroom.  Do a quick Pinterest search and grab the ingredients for your kitchen scientist.  Buy a book on Amazon and leave it on her bed to discover.  In this way, regardless of where our children spend the majority of their day, we as parents still get to give our children the gift of curiosity and wonder.  And time.  In our busy busy culture, I think that's so important too.

Since this is a blog about my life and my family, I'm sure I'll have many posts about what we're learning and reading.  My hope is that it may also help mothers, homeschooling or not, with ideas for their families too.  Instead of writing it off as "Snooze! Another homeschool post.  Doesn't apply to me!", I hope you'll instead maybe use it as inspiration or bookmark a few things you know your kids will enjoy.  I'll do some of the legwork - you enjoy the memory-making!

Monday, August 14, 2017

No.18: Intentions for the End of August

I am in full school planning mode around here.  We've decided to start next week, so it's a mad dash to pull all of the curriculum, books, and ideas I've collected all summer and make them into one coherent outline.  It's a little overwhelming, but I'm in my element!  It also may explain why I didn't get to a lot of my previous intentions - oops.  Today's intentions will actually be for three weeks instead of two, so the list is a little bit longer.  Here's hoping I'm a little more productive!

Mark and I have decided to financially tighten our belt a little around here.  With a new house, I think it's easy to want to buy/change/DIY all the things, but we're trying to focus on gratitude. There will be plenty of time to paint and fluff.  Right now, we're going to be creative with what we already have and save for boring things like getting dead trees removed, a riding lawn mower and a new washer and dryer.  (Oh and six birthdays and Christmas on the horizon too!)  The other things will come!



  • Habit of the Month: HEALTH
  • more green smoothies with collagen peptides - maybe a mid-afternoon snack?
  • no cell phone scrolling right before bed!
  • make three more recipes from my new cookbook
  • bake bread in the dutch oven (100LT #51)
  • be able to barbell squat 70lb.
  • choose a dress/outfit to wear for the blogging conference
  • reorganize the garage
  • buy last few school supplies
  • start new Instagram account for our homeschool
  • celebrate the beginning of school by going out for ice cream
  • take out all of the kids' fall/winter clothes and see what needs to be purchased
  • make a list of clothing needs for the entire family
  • think about a fall capsule wardrobe (I'm in desperate need of new clothes! #chronicunderbuyer)
  • start reading Anne of Green Gables (part of 100LT #3)
  • read two chapters in my Jackson Pollock book
  • continue Operation Catechism catch-up
  • decide on big gifts for S and TJ's birthdays and add amount into budget
  • pull out Sophie's princess cross-stitch and do a few stitches
  • make root beer floats (100LT #97)
  • finish reading Mouse and the Motorcycle aloud to J and watch the movie together
  • finish kids' chore charts and start new allowance system
  • sign up for cards at our new library 
  • hang master curtains and artwork


If you're reading this on Bloglovin' or another reader, click through to see what I checked off!

  • lots of veggies in every meal (work on breakfast!) (still need work on breakfast, but getting there)
  • order collagen peptides
  • make three recipes from my new cookbook (2/3: fig jam cookies and Oregon berry crumble - both delicious!)
  • green smoothies for the kids at least twice a week
  • don't skip weight training even though it hurts! (started Stronglifts 5x5 and love it)
  • wear my new running shoes around (NOT running) to adjust and avoid blisters
  • finish kids' chore charts and start new allowance system
  • have a tea party in Sophie's room with real drinks/treats
  • continue Operation Catechism catch-up (didn't pick this up once!  need to get a better routine started)
  • read Across Five Aprils in preparation for M's history
  • read two chapters in my Jackson Pollock book
  • start thinking about birthday gifts for Sophie and TJ (found a few fun ideas)
  • make a big batch of taco seasoning to keep in the pantry (100LT #46) (this was way too easy - why did I wait so long?!)
  • organize and prepare the school room
  • register at our new parish
  • sign up the boys for CCD
  • hang master curtains and artwork (STILL on the list - argh)
  • sign up for cards at our new library (STILL on the list - I need to make the time to do this!)


What about you?  What's on your to-do list for the next few weeks?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

No.17: A Peek into my Commonplace Book

100 Little Things #26: Start a commonplace notebook.

I'm so excited about this one!  I have a really bad habit of jotting down quotes or information on the closest thing possible.  Sticky notes, napkins, discarded artwork from the kids...I end up with gazillions of random pieces of paper.  Then I'm left with a pile of clutter, I get frustrated with it all and typically throw the bunch in the trash.  Definitely time for a better system.

So I'm trying the commonplace notebook.  Wikipedia describes it as, "essentially scrapbooks filled with items of every kind: medical recipes, quotes, letters, poems, tables of weights and measures, proverbs, prayers, legal formulas. Commonplaces were used by readers, writers, students, and scholars as an aid for remembering useful concepts or facts they had learned. Each commonplace book was unique to its creator’s particular interests."

I found an unused notebook and I've been using it off and on for about a week now.  It's challenging in the way only our generation really understands - I could complete the task in a much more efficient (digital) way, but instead, I'm choosing the opposite.  Taking pen to paper is yet another way to slow down, to take the time to reflect on what moved/challenged/spoke to me in my reading.  I'm being stretched and I think that's a good thing.

Favorite quote this week (I loved the image of God's fatherly tenderness!):
"That discouragement, produced by your repeated lack of generosity, by your relapses, by your falls - perhaps only apparent - often makes you feel as if you had broken something of exceptional value: your sanctification.  
Don't be worried: bring to your supernatural life the wise way simple children have of resolving such a conflict.
They have broken - nearly always through frailty - an object that is dear to their father.  They're sorry, perhaps they shed tears, but they go to seek consolation from the owner of what has been damaged through their awkwardness; and their father forgets the value - great though it may be - of the broken object and, filled with tenderness, he not only pardons, but consoles and encourages the little one.  Learn."   --- #887

Monday, August 7, 2017

No.16: Reflections on the Year of Slow, Two-Thirds In

When I chose the word "slow" as my word for 2017, I was feeling a bit burnt out on life.  I was in the middle of a rough postpartum recovery.  I felt really frazzled and pulled in too many directions.  In my attempts to live a full, intentional life, I seemed to choose quantity over quality and it was taking its toll.  So in January, I chose to seek a change.

In what feels like a blink of an eye, we're eight months into the year (already!!) and I'm reflecting on the good, the bad and the ugly of 2017.  Here's what I've learned so far:

Sometimes living slow means making hard choices.  

A huge part of this process was determining what parts of my life to keep and what parts I needed to set aside.  I'll be the first to admit that this is agonizing!  There are pros and cons to everything in life and I'm quick to defend the positive aspects of all.the.things.  But.  This was a necessary first step.  Some examples:
+ Leaving suburbia and what is considered "normal" was a complicated decision.  We were driven by our desire to get away from the rat race and provide our children with a simpler life, but I definitely had many panicky moments along the way.  Buying our new home also meant letting some of our "dream home list" items go.  I don't think there is any decision in life that is 100% perfect and it's unrealistic to expect that.  So while we aren't living in New England near our relatives (we tried hard for this one, but no jobs panned out), aren't any closer to Mark's work (he still has a big commute) and aren't super close to shopping and restaurants, the pros still greatly outweigh the cons.
+ Giving up Big White Farmhouse has probably been one of the most difficult decisions I've ever made.  This is the perfect example of stepping away from something that is inherently good: it's fun, it fuels me creatively and I have an opportunity to do something good in the world.  But the stress and mental energy required with juggling a business and a big family was just too much.  I've spent way too much time ignoring my mental health and I just don't want to live that way anymore.

Sometimes people will not understand your choices and that's okay.

We're not immune to this by any stretch - I mean, I have six kids! - but the decisions that we've made have been questioned by many well-meaning people.  Why would you want to live in the middle of nowhere?  Why would you want to homeschool your kids again?  Why are you closing down something you love so much?  Why are you choosing to do x vs. y?  And on and on.  Mark and I have heard it all this year.  At the end of the day, it comes down to prayer and peace for us.  We may not be following the status quo and that's okay.  

Sometimes there are times in life where living slow is impossible.

From the day we put in an offer to the day we moved into the new house, living slow was not even a thought in my head!  I was in survival mode, pure and simple.  It was intense and stress-filled, but also a good reminder to avoid living in this manner long-term.  The stress was debilitating and the physical side effects were so bad - hives, poor sleeping, a spike in my anxiety and high blood pressure!  At the end of the whole experience, I said to Mark, "I don't ever want to feel remotely like that ever again."  

A big piece of living slow is in your mindset. 

I have six kids, so you could say that I'd never describe my life as slow.  From sun up to sun down, I'm interacting, feeding, changing, disciplining, playing, teaching and spending time with one or all of them.  But that doesn't mean that I have to live a frazzled life, right?  A few things I'm trying:
+ When you aren't attached to your phone, things are just better.  After reading more and more studies, I'm so passionate about this.  I want to see the Internet as a tool and something I intentionally use, not something that is addictive and has a hold on me.
+ One of my mottoes when I'm feeling crazy is, "What's the big rush?"  I use to wear multi-tasking as a badge of honor, but I don't want that anymore.  When one of the kids is telling me something important, I'm working on stopping what I'm doing and giving direct eye contact.  When I'm making dinner, I'm not also writing a blog post or reading the mail.  When we play outside, I'm trying to just be outside and not think about the chores and the to-do list I've yet to finish.  One thing at a time and do that one thing well.
+ After the process of weeding out some of the unimportant pieces of life, I'm making time for the things I've chosen to keep. Lifelong education is important to me, so I'm making sure I'm in a book at least once a day.  Health is important to me, so I'm running, lifting and eating better.  Storytelling and memory-keeping is important to me, so I'm prioritizing that too.  In all, it's not much, but it does wonders for my overall mental health.  

In full disclosure, this morning I dropped and cracked the screen of my cell phone as I tried to simultaneously hold a wiggly baby while checking my email and retrieving my hot coffee that I had microwaved for the third time.  Clearly I haven't figured it all out yet.  I'm hoping I'm headed in the right direction.

Friday, August 4, 2017

No.15: 100 Little Things, Round Four!

100 Little Things Round Three was a bit of a dud.  Moving automatically deleted almost a dozen home improvement items.  A lack of time, funds or excitement had me dragging my feet with many of the rest.  And like with Round Two, I was WAY too liberal with the multi-part items.  When will I learn that those take up so much time?

Anyway, I'm ready to take the lessons learned from last year, tuck that list away and start fresh.  I'm excited.

1. Re-read all the books in the Little House series
2. Read a book over 500 pages
3. Re-read all the books in the Anne of Green Gables series
4. Take the Catholic Mindfulness course
5. Finish reading the Catechism by January 1
6. Bake a new quick bread
7. Try a new dairy-free recipe
8. Run the Historic Half again and beat my first time
9. Run a 10K
10. Try a new breakfast spot with the "Fab 4" and my Dad
11. Meet a blog friend
12. Visit the Virginia Safari Park
13. Hike in Shenandoah National Park
14. Have another cousins weekend trip
15. Learn about Georgia O'Keeffe and try her techniques
16. Learn about Jackson Pollock and try his techniques
17. Learn about Edward Hopper and try his techniques
18. Learn about Maya Lin and try her techniques
19. Make lavender sachets
20. Learn (and be able to recite!) a new poem by heart
21. Make a photobook with our wedding photos
22. Start a Q&A journal for my kids
23. Blog everyday for a month (Write 31 Days)
24. Read aloud 1000 books
25. Send out 50 vintage postcards
26. Start a commonplace notebook
27. Build an outdoor dining table for the back porch
28. Participate in the International Correspondence Writing Month in Feb
29. Make a mini album
30. Make a "1 Second Everyday" video
31. Place an order on Mochi Things
32. Learn how to play cribbage
33. Learn a new card game
34. Come up with a solution for recyclables
35. Get a shorter haircut
36. Potty train TJ
37. Take an Epsom salt bath
38. Go apple picking
39. Complete a Week in the Life photo project in the fall
40. Complete a Week in the Life photo project in the spring
41. Sign up for a Blessed is She membership
42. Make kindness rocks with the kids
43. Learn the definitions to 20 SAT-like words
44. Clean my makeup brushes
45. Find a type of sushi that I like
46. Make a big batch of homemade taco seasoning to keep in the pantry
47. Buy a plant for the master bedroom
48. Buy a succulent
49. Join a CSA
50. Learn how to make baguettes
51. Bake bread in the dutch oven
52. Buy an ice cream maker
53. Grow tomatoes
54. Grow cucumbers
55. Buy another vintage globe for the collection
56. Pay off the car
57. Paint a piece of furniture with chalk paint
58. Try kombucha
59. Make a calm down glitter jar
60. Plan out flower beds for the front of the house
61. String lights throughout the back porch
62. Research composting
63. Paint the shutters and front door
64. Paint the entire second floor
65. Complete a December Daily project
66. Wrap and read one book everyday during Advent
67. Make a popcorn garland for the Christmas tree
68. Watch the Nutcracker (or see it live!)
69. Buy a piece of original art
70. Make a Kitchen Recipe Binder
71. Try a new essential oil diffuser blend
72. Host a brunch
73. Join Catholic Book of the Month Club
74. Add three saint picture books to our collection
75. Hang a gallery wall of family pictures
76. Camp indoors with the kids
77. Create a bird watching kit
78. Buy a rug for the master bedroom
79. Buy a rug for the school room
80. Eat dinner by candlelight
81. Try using the freezer paper stencil method on a t-shirt
82. Read a biography about Dorothy Day
83. Begin a monthly "Crafternoon" with the kids
84. Learn to paint with watercolors
85. Finally finish Sophie's princess cross-stitch
86. Complete a new cross-stitch project
87. Make a quilt
88. Replace the dining room light fixture
89. Make a fire pit
90. Bake a cake
91. Complete the PiYo program
92. Paint the little boys' headboards
93. Make oobleck
94. Try a new tea flavor
95. Hang a porch swing
96. Plant a Mary flower garden
97. Make root beer floats
98. Learn how to dehydrate fruit
99. Create a huge highway using painter's tape
100. Make a new wreath

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

No.14: New Habits, Little by Little - Cooking at Home (July 2017)

Have you ever read Dinner: A Love Story?  I bought it years ago, read it, loved it and then promptly put it on the shelf where my good intentions seem to die.  Fast forward to last month.  As I unpacked kitchen boxes, I flipped through it again and re-read about the dinner diary she kept for over a decade.  A decade!!  What a treasure trove that must be - not just for remembering what you ate, but also all the memories intertwined within it.  It struck a chord: I want to do this.  I need to do this.

Here's the thing: I've had trouble in the kitchen for a long time.  Mark cooks amazing food because he loves the creative process.  I cook so we don't go to bed hungry.  That (lazy?  burnt out?) attitude has never sat well with me, though, and I really want to change.  And this book was just the kick in the pants I needed to start.  

My new motto lately has been "Just show up."  It's mostly been applied to working out, but I think it works here too.  Even when my head's not in the game, I'm showing up, working the meal plan or stretching my creative muscles when I forget to make one.  (Ahem...)  Little by little, I'm starting to enjoy being in the kitchen again.

One month done.  Many, many more to go.

Week 1:
Saturday, July 1: hot dogs with all the fixin's
Sunday, July 2: out - Sonic on the way home from meeting our new nephew!
Monday, July 3: baked chicken fingers with potato wedges
Tuesday, July 4: brisket with homemade mac & cheese, pasta salad, coleslaw, and flag cake
Wednesday, July 5: barbecue cups and salad
Thursday, July 6: southwestern Caesar chicken wraps
Friday, July 7: homemade pizza for the kids, date night with Home Chef (Chicken Diane with mashed potatoes and green beans - yum!)

Week 2: 
Saturday, July 8: beans and rice
Sunday, July 9: Mark recreated our date night meal again - big hit with the kids!
Monday, July 10: burgers and hot dogs on the grill
Tuesday, July 11: philly cheesesteaks and chips
Wednesday, July 12: breakfast for dinner - chocolate chip waffles, bacon, and strawberries
Thursday, July 13: one pan healthy sausage and veggies
Friday, July 14: homemade pizza for the kids, date night with Home Chef (pork egg roll in a bowl with crispy wontons and peanuts)

Week 3:
Saturday, July 15: leftovers
Sunday, July 16: pasta from scratch with homemade meat sauce (all Mark!)
Monday, July 17: roasted chicken wings/thighs with rice and salad
Tuesday, July 18: crispy parmesan garlic chicken with vegetables
Wednesday, July 19: burgers and hot dogs on the grill
Thursday, July 20: linguine with summer tomato "sauce" and roasted shrimp
Friday, July 21: homemade pizza for the kids (using this recipe due to a lack of prior planning!), date night with Home Chef (sirloin steak with sauce robert, mashed cauliflower and green beans)

Week 4:
Saturday, July 22: leftovers
Sunday, July 23: make-your-own eggrolls with Mark's new "toy"
Monday, July 24: grilled chicken legs, rice and yellow squash
Tuesday, July 25: tacos
Wednesday, July 26: Refrigerator Clean-out Night (the kids strangely LOVED this!)
Thursday, July 27: kielbasa, rice and bacon brussel sprouts
Friday, July 28: smoothies and popcorn for the kids, date night with Home Chef (chicken with sauce soubise, swiss chard, mushrooms and tomatoes)

Week 5:
Saturday, July 29: panini sandwiches
Sunday, July 30: pasta and homemade meat sauce with salad and homemade bread
Monday, July 31: hot dogs and potato wedges
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