Friday, January 19, 2018

No.73: Our Farmhouse Schoolhouse in Photos (Week 19)

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2018 is just zipping along - three weeks in already!  I've been having mixed levels of productivity: one day I am on fire, crossing off everything on my to-do list...and then the next day, I blow it all off to stay under a blanket and read.  This crazy weather we've been having in Virginia may have something to do with that...


+ We're still reading and loving Redwall.  The boys, especially J, has been inspired to draw the characters and act out the battle scenes.  So fun - and encouraging - to know that they're actually listening.

+ M is learning about World War I in history and the first half of Sergeant York was on his assignment list for the week.  He couldn't put it down!  He finished the entire book in two days.  Next up: watching the old 1940's movie this weekend with his dad.

+ In M's History of Science, he started learning about Isaac Newton.  A few facts I found fascinating:
- Did you know that some think Newton may have had Asperger's?
- Unconvinced with Descartes and his beliefs on light, Newton did some dangerous experiments, including poking a needle behind his eye to see what would happen and staring at the sun while reflected in a mirror. (!!)

+ We learned a new card game (100 Little Things #33) called SET: The Family Game of Visual Perception.  There's a little bit of a learning curve but we had fun working together to make the sets.  Speaking of games, we also bought Civilization for the computer and the boys are hooked!  They have to work together or the computer gets shut off - I love seeing their heads huddled together as they make their plans and strategies.  

Current 1000 Books Project Total: 92/1000
Poetry Teatime Treat: homemade granola


+ Health: I'm almost through Week 1 of the Mutu System, which is super easy: a handful of exercises and a daily walk.  My "walks" have just been to the mailbox, but I do have a really long driveway, so I guess it counts?  Still mostly sugar-free, but I did splurge with a little homemade granola.  So good.

+ Reading: Finished two books this week!  I'm still working on Anne of Avonlea and Water for Elephants before I start on our February book club book.

+ Spiritual: I'm reading one small section of Fulton Sheen's Guide to Contentment each day.  Also trying to make a game plan for Lent - I can't believe it's so close already!

+ Fun: Blogging and bread-making are at the top of the list this week. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

No.72: New Habits, Little by Little: Homesteading 101 - Make Your Daily Bread

I live in a farmhouse on five acres in the country.  It's time for this suburban girl to learn a few things!  
Welcome to my self-taught Homesteading 101.

I should probably start with this disclaimer: I'm still buying bread at the grocery store and this doesn't happen every day.  But steps in the right direction!

I've been fascinated by the art and skill of bread baking for awhile now...and honestly, more than a little intimidated.  But I've been telling my kids that to be better at something, we have to work hard at it and well, maybe Mama needs to listen to what she's preaching.

Below are the four recipes I've tried so far:
  • "Best Bread Machine Bread"
    • I started this on my bread machine's dough setting and then separated into two loaf pans.  After they rose again (about an hour or two, depending on the day), I baked for 40 minutes at 375 degrees.
    • Consensus: Delicious!  The kids ate the entire loaf in one sitting.  We've made the recipe four times since.
  • Ciabatta Bread
    • After getting a recommendation for ciabatta on Instagram (thank you Katherine!!), I googled and found this recipe.  Um... this definitely wasn't Ciabatta 101.  This required a two-day process and I even made my own starter/sponge!  
    • Consensus: I may have done something wrong here - I don't think it was as airy as it was supposed to be.  Still super delicious.  We ate it with soup.   
  • Ciabatta Bread
    • THIS is the recipe I think Katherine was talking about, hah!  The bread machine does most of the work for you, but the second half?  I was a hot mess.  The gooey, sticky dough is supposed to rest under a bowl for 15 minutes and I had the hardest time getting it underneath.  My kids kept yelling, "IT'S ALIVE!!"  Don't even get me started about transferring to a baking sheet to rise...  
    • Consensus: Yum.  My technique needs improvement, but definitely airier than the one I made above.
  • White Bread
    • Mark found this recipe and led the baking of this one.  It makes two massively tall loaves!  I'm thinking that we could separate it into four instead and it wouldn't make much of a difference.
    • Consensus: As far as sheer size, these are the clear winners, but I prefer the taste of the other breads above.
Still on my list: bread cooked in the Dutch oven, something that uses almond flour, pretzel bites, and maybe a cinnamon raisin loaf.  And probably a workout plan too.  Thank goodness there are 8 people in this house or I'd need a bigger pair of pants!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

No.71: Into the Depths of Catholicism - Book #1 and A Reading Challenge

"...I try to project a joyful, confident presence.  To be honest, I think the smile goes a long way.  I hope they see a joyfulness in being Catholic, that there's more to it than the scandal we've been through - without for a second denying those scandals, and how terrible they were, but there's more to it than that.  I like to believe that gives people hope." (p.219) 
I think I first stumbled upon Bishop Robert Barron's work with Word on Fire last winter.  After hearing glowing reviews, I purchased his Catholicism DVD series for Mark's birthday and we have really enjoyed watching them.  Barron has a way of making challenging theological concepts approachable and understandable and in a non-threatening way.  His evangelization method is a bit unique, so I was excited to read more in his new book, To Light a Fire on the Earth: Proclaiming the Gospel in a Secular Age.

To Light a Fire on the Earth is the result of hours of conversations between Bishop Barron and journalist John L. Allen Jr.  The book reads like an interview, with commentary from Allen and long quoted passages from Barron.  It is a healthy mix of biography, reflection and down-to-earth advice.  I like Barron's strategic use of beauty as an invitation for individuals to learn more about Catholicism:
In Christian tradition, beauty, goodness, and truth are known as ‘transcendentals,’ linked to the three core human abilities to feel, to wish, and to think. Jesus refers to them in the Great Commandment when he talks about the mind, the soul, and the heart and inducements to take the wrong path with each of the transcendentals formed the core of his temptation scene in the Gospels. While Barron is convinced that Catholic Christianity represents the fullness of all three, he’s equally convinced that the right way to open up the Catholic world to someone is with its beauty…
"There’s something winsome and less threatening about the beautiful. ‘Just look,’ the evangelist might say,' at Chartres Cathedral or the Sainte Chapelle or the Sistine Chapel ceiling or the mosaics at Ravenna. ‘Just read,’ he might urge, ‘Dante’s Divine Comedy or one of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poems, or Chesterton’s Orthodoxy.’ ‘Just watch,’ he might suggest, ‘Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity at work among the poorest of the poor.’ The wager is that the encounter with the beautiful will naturally lead someone to ask ‘What made such a thing possible?’" (p.41)
I appreciated Barron's analysis on a wide range of topics concerning Catholics today, everything from prayer to science to social media.  Lots of food for thought.  This book is a great choice for someone interested in a new way of evangelizing faith to a skeptical and/or uninterested generation.

I received this book from Blogging for Books and all opinions are my own.


One of my 2018 goals is to "Dive deep into faith" and this book was just the inspiration I needed to get started.  This quote really stuck out to me: 
...Barron's stock advice to aspiring evangelists is to "read, read, read," meaning to immerse oneself in Catholic thought and teaching, and in the great works of Catholic literature.  Secular nones sometimes ask a lot of smart questions of believers, Barron says, and without a solid intellectual foundation, evangelists will find themselves flustered, frustrated, and ultimately, ineffective. (p.126)
Faith is like a muscle - I need to do the work to make it stretch and grow.  I need to ask - and be able to answer - "What do I believe and why do I believe it?"  So to make it fun (and keep me on track!), I created this handy little reading challenge.  Feel free to use it too!  While the challenge was made with Catholicism in mind, it certainly can be adapted to other denominations too.  I'd love to know your favorite books - help me fill in the blanks!

Monday, January 15, 2018

No.70: Wintertime ABCs

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ANNE OF GREEN GABLES - I'm slowly working my way through this series (as part of 100 Little Things) and it's such a refreshing change from the majority of books I read.  I tend to be a bit of a pessimist and Anne's wonder and positive imagination remind me to seek the good in everything. 

BREAD - The idea of baking my own bread has been really intimidating, but I decided 2018 is the year to jump in with both feet!  I've started experimenting with a few recipes and it is SO satisfying to pull the loaves out of the oven.  Cue the crazy texts to my husband saying, "I made this!  Check out that crust.  Look at the crumb!"

CONTENTMENT - My mom gave me a copy of Fulton Sheen's Guide to Contentment and I've been reading a section or two every day.  In the book, Sheen covers multiple aspects of the human experience ("love, anxiety, beauty, meditation, honesty, freedom, compulsion, self-pity, success, failure, health, joy, marriage, sex, faith, and adventure...") and how they can move you toward or further from contentment.  Lots of food for thought in one little book.

DUTCH OVEN - My dinnertime workhorse!  I've been using my dutch oven at least once a week this winter.  A few of our favorites: Simple Tomato Soup, Pot Roast, and Chicken Orzo Soup.

EGGS - After Sophie was born, I developed some sort of egg sensitivity and haven't been able to eat them without feeling nauseous since.  I can have them in things (like baked goods) but not on their own.  Eating a healthy breakfast is tricky when you can't have the #1 go-to protein source.  Right now, I'm surviving on baked oatmeal and peanut butter and banana toast.  I'll add in green smoothies when it's warmer.

FIREPLACE - We've had gas fireplaces in our previous houses, but just used them for aesthetic value and never for warmth.  We're finally using the one in this house and oh my gosh, I can't believe what I was missing!  There's something so cozy and peaceful about reading, playing or shoot, even scrolling Instagram by the fire.

GROCERY PICKUP - This deserves a blog post all its own, but we've started using Walmart's Grocery Pickup and it has  My routine: I make a menu and grocery list on Thursday evening and add the items to the app by Friday afternoon.  Mark takes our recycling to the dump on Saturday mornings (#thatcountrylife) and then swings by Walmart on the way home.  They literally come out and put the bags in the car for you!  The idea of grocery shopping with all of these kids sends me into a panic, so this discovery has been a God-send.  (P.S. If you want to try it out, you can use this link to get $10 off your first order.)

HANDIWORK - My grandmother was an accomplished seamstress.  She taught me how to thread a needle and piece a quilt.  I've been thinking about her often as I add stitches to an old cross-stitch project I hope to finish this winter.  There's something so calming and meditative about handiwork.

INFINITY SCARF - Last year, I bought a chunky knit scarf secondhand on Thredup, but never really had an opportunity to wear it.  (We had such a mild winter in 2017.)  Thank goodness for this year's frigid weather!  Totally kidding, but it has given me ample opportunity to wear it and it's my new favorite scarf.  So warm.

JOURNALING - I'm rusty at this.  I guess blogging is a form of journaling, but I want to revisit the method of old-fashioned pen to paper.  I'm starting small with my One Line a Day journal for now.

KINDNESS - As I was reflecting on my word for 2018, I found this quote on Pinterest: "A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees."

LITTLE ACTIONS EVERYDAY - This is my motto as I work toward my big 2018 goals.  Every morning, I jot down four or five small actions that I can accomplish that day.  Examples are: texting a relative to check in and say hello (my "roots" goal), measuring a wall to see how many frames I need (my "home projects" goal), or eating something green at every meal (my "health" goal).  While the little actions must be small enough to complete that day, they really do add up.  I'm only two weeks in and am already feeling the momentum.

 - With my body seemingly falling apart right now, I'm going back to the basics and revisiting the Mutu System.  Last year, I only got four or five weeks in before the craziness of home buying/selling consumed me, so I'm anxious to complete the entire program this time.  After six babies, I know my core and pelvic floor could really use some work.

NO SUGAR - Two weeks in and so far, so good.  I haven't been nearly as grouchy as I expected!  During the first week, I felt constantly hungry and I could tell I was eating because I was trying to fill that sugar void.  I tried to eat intentionally, but I'm sure the carb content was pretty high.  That "hunger" is slowly going away now, although I do desire it when I'm feeling overwhelmed - hello, stress eater!  New habits, little by little...

ORDINARY TIME - I loved Kallah's post about her word of the year and have thought about it often: "Ordinary Time for a Catholic is interrupted by the extraordinary. It isn’t supposed to stretch out in an uninterrupted linear distance. It is a time set aside, intentionally, where you are grounded, specifically FOR the exciting (Christmas! Easter! Pentecost!) or difficult (LENT!) times ahead. To me, a sense of Ordinary Time is actually an appreciation of Time itself; how precious it is, and how easy it is to waste it."

PAINT - This keeps getting pushed to the back burner, but I'm hoping to finally start painting the first floor soon.  I can't wait!  I find painting a room about as calming as I do handiwork - is that my introvert showing? #alonetimeinmyhead

QUIET HOUR - Speaking of "Introverted Sanity Savers", we've started our daily Quiet Hour again after lunch.  The big boys read while the little ones play quietly upstairs, the baby (hopefully) naps and I get to enjoy the silence.  My self-imposed rules are that I cannot do chores or scroll social media (although I sometimes cheat at this one...) and I should either read, blog or do something creative.  I desperately need that space in my day just for me.

READING ON THE KINDLE - After years of fighting it, I finally broke down and asked for a Kindle for Christmas.  I have the super basic one and like it so far.  I really like that I can borrow and read books from the library.  It will never replace the feel and smell of a hardback novel, but it's close.  (I treated myself to this reading light and this cover and love both.  It's the little things.)

SNOW - After that magical weekend in December, we've been teased with bits of flurries, but nothing sticks.  The kids are dying for another round!  We'll see if we get lucky.

TWINKLE LIGHTS - The Christmas decorations have all been put away, but I kept the star lights up in the kitchen for January.  I love tidying up in there after dinner and then shutting off all the lights except for the stars.     

UNIFORM - Even though it's freezing outside, I've started thinking about my "mom uniform" for spring.  Like my fall/winter wardrobe, I'll be pretty much starting from scratch and want to make smart choices.  Right now, I've got casual dresses and simple tops with not-too-short-but-not-old-lady shorts on the list.  Clearly, I have some work to do in the next few months.

VALUABLE - You know how sometimes a Bible verse (many times one that you've read before) pops out at you in a new way?  This line from Mass on Sunday did that for me: "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been purchased at a price."  I must have needed the reminder that in the eyes of God, I have value.

WEANING - Can I just admit that I am SO ready to be done nursing?  The plan is to continue through cold season and then start making the switch.  I.can't.wait.

and X, Y...

Zzz'S - I know many people hate winter's short days, but I've been getting the best sleep because of it.  Because it gets dark so early, I'm drowsy and ready for bed by 9:00, and since it's pitch black outside, why not?!  It's like hibernation for humans.  Now if my fussy teething baby will get the hint, hah!

Like with my Summertime ABCs post back in July, I took a walk around our property.  So hard to find beauty when everything is bare and brown, but the sky sure was a gorgeous blue that day.

Friday, January 12, 2018

No.69: Our Farmhouse Schoolhouse in Photos (Week 18)

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And just like that, we're halfway through our school year!  I'm wearing that sentence as a badge of honor today.  Some weeks have been wonderfully easy and some weeks have been insanely hard.  But couldn't that be said for motherhood in general?  I'm trying to stop frantically worrying that I'm screwing up my kids and making wrong decisions and have peace that I'm doing what is best for them right this minute.  For now, the future can wait.


+ Our new read-aloud for the rest of January is Redwall.   I remember my brother reading and enjoying these as a kid and now I understand why!  When I shared the book on Instagram, there were so many positive comments about the series, so it definitely is a favorite among many.  As an addition, my little ones have been following along to the story using the graphic novel version.

+ M finished up his unit on Galileo.  Our last "project" is to finally put together the new-to-us telescope we were gifted a few months ago!  Two interesting links we found this week:
- This article about the Catholic perspective on the Galileo controversy
- A weird fact: Did you know that Galileo's middle finger is on display in the Florence History of Science Museum?

+ After getting back to normal, the last piece of the school day puzzle was including activities for Sophie and TJ from A Year of Playing Skillfully.   She loves having "special" school subjects just for her - I really need to be better about scheduling the time.  This week, we made cinnamon sugar tortilla snowflakes (a huge hit with everybody) and got the wiggles out with ABC exercise cards.  She and TJ also watched Leapfrog's Phonics Farm and Letter Factory on repeat.

Current 1000 Books Project Total: 91/1000
Poetry Teatime Treat: nothing this week - oops!


+ Health: My right leg/hip/groin feels all out of whack and I've been out of commission all week.  Maybe I should see a chiropractor?  I don't know what I managed to do to myself, but I need to be an adult about it and really let myself heal.  I think my May half marathon is out for 2018. Super frustrating and discouraging right out the gate for sure.  

+ Reading: I finished Such Good Girls.  I'm still making my way through Bishop Barron's new book, Jackson Pollock, Anne of Avonlea and I started Water for Elephants too.  Hoping to finish at least two of these this weekend.

+ Spiritual: I'm reading one small section of Fulton Sheen's Guide to Contentment each day.

+ Fun: I added a few stitches to my cross-stitch.  I've been keeping up with my photography project and have started making plans for a mini album.  My new kitchen table arrived (we've been without one for seven months) and I've been dreaming about ways to spruce up the room.  Creativity can manifest itself in so many unique ways in my everyday life - I just have to seek it.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

No.68: The Inspired Readers Book Club - The First Book of 2018!

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Are you hoping to read more in 2018?  After taking an extended break, we're hopping back into the book club and you should too!  Over the years, The Inspired Readers Book Club has helped me read a range of genres, introducing me to books I'd never think to pull off the shelf.  I also appreciate the accountability aspect of the book club; less mindless TV and more reading!

Shelly is leading our first book of the new year and chose Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon Self-Control, and My Other Experiments in Everyday Life.  I've read and enjoyed a few of Gretchen Rubin's books, so I'm sure this one will be just as good.  We'll be officially starting in February, so there's plenty of time to purchase a book or request one from the library.  

Our reading schedule will be as follows:
Week 1 (February 5): Preparation Chapter + Possessions
Week 2 (February 12): Marriage + Parenthood + Interior Design
Week 3 (February 19): Time + Body
Week 4 (February 26): Family + Neighborhood + Now

As always, we'll have discussion questions posted on Monday, so feel free to jump into the conversation whenever you have time.  New members are always welcome - we'd love to see you in the Facebook group!

Monday, January 8, 2018

No.67: Intentions for the Beginning of January

What is it about twinkle lights?  So calming and almost magical.  The tree and most of the Christmas decorations have been packed away for next year, but the twinkle lights in the kitchen and dining room are staying put for now.  Very hygge, don't you think?


  • Habit of the Month: Self-Discipline
  • no sugar all month (use honey/other natural sweeteners sparingly)
  • return to regular running and persevere despite freezing temps!
  • write thank you cards
  • find a family practice doctor in our new town (we've been driving 30min to our old doctors and are ready to make the switch)  
  • look into an extra-curricular activity for the big boys
  • find and join the local Facebook yard sale page
  • finish reading Anne of Avonlea
  • read at least two chapters in my Jackson Pollock book
  • buy paint for the living room
  • try baking ciabatta bread
  • bake bread in the dutch oven (100LT #51)
  • unpack and display my newly inherited china from my grandmother
  • upgrade Inlinkz for the Five Favorites linkup
  • see if someone can recover the files on my old laptop hard drive (St. Rita, patron saint of the impossible, pray for me!) 
  • choose fabric and buy an insert to make Sophia's princess pillow


  • stick with the Rooted in Hope journal (I made it a morning habit and it's been really great)
  • try to take a decent picture of the kids for Christmas cards (time got away from me and I never sent out cards - next year!)
  • buy P's needlepoint stocking (I ended up using one we already owned)
  • stick with December Daily (can't wait to show the finished product!)
  • bake one new type of cookie
  • make a calm down glitter jar (100LT #59)
  • watch the Nutcracker (100LT #68)
  • make a popcorn garland for the Christmas tree (100LT #67)
  • wrap and read one book everyday during Advent (100LT #66)
  • reflect back on 2017 and jot down intentions for the new year
  • choose my One Little Word for 2018 (I wrote all about it here)
  • slow down, unplug and enjoy this last month of the year

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

Friday, January 5, 2018

No.66: Our Farmhouse Schoolhouse in Photos (Week 17)

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We started back on Tuesday after taking two weeks off for Christmas vacation.  As much as I love the post-Christmas, "what day is it again?" lazy days, I'm also happy to be back into some sort of routine.

The biggest (and most unfortunate) story since my last school update is about my laptop.  A few days after Christmas, TJ spilled hot cocoa behind my computer and it seeped into the back.  I watched in horror as the screen literally faded to black.  We tried all the tricks but the damage was done. All of my lesson plans, photographs, links and tabs....gone in an instant.  You don't realize how dependent you are on a piece of technology until it's gone!  So this shortened school week was a weird mix of getting back into the groove and trying to remember what was on the schedule.  Note to self: find that external hard-drive and actually use it!


+ We read 26 Fairmount Avenue during Advent and loved it so much that we moved onto the next book in the series, Here We All Are.  That Tomie...the kids think he's hilarious.

+ We started reading about the Arctic Tundra in the little one's science book, which seemed appropriate with our frigid temperatures here!  Animals of the week: the musk ox and snow goose

+ D is starting multiplication, so I broke out my secret weapon: Schoolhouse Rock songs.  I did the same for M when he was in third grade, and while they both think they're lame and corny, they get the job done.  I love when I can hear him quietly humming the tune. #missionaccomplished
These are the songs we've practiced so far:
+ M wanted to learn a foreign language this year and chose Italian.  I started him on the free Duolingo app on my phone, but also learned that he could work on the lessons on the computer too.  One helpful tool we've found for practicing is Tiny Cards, another part of the Duolingo program.    We've had so much fun this week trying out words in our everyday conversations!  

Current 1000 Books Project Total: 91/1000
Poetry Teatime Treat: Homemade Bread and Jam


+ Health: A big week for me!  I've cut out 99% of all sugar (exception being a tiny bit of honey) and have focused on filling myself with nutrient-dense foods.  I made this chicken salad with the intention of eating it for lunch all week, but had to make it a second time on Wednesday because I devoured it!  My body is definitely craving protein after a month of eating crap.  I've also been running on the treadmill in the garage.  SO cold and NOT fun for the first mile, but I start to enjoy it again after that.

+ Reading: I finished My Not So Perfect Life.  Reading bits and pieces of Bishop Barron's new book, Jackson Pollock, Anne and one on the Holocaust.  I really need to simmer down on my currently-reading pile.

+ Spiritual: I'm reading one small section of Fulton Sheen's Guide to Contentment each day.

+ Fun: I pulled out an old half-finished cross-stitch and have been adding a few stitches here and there when I get a few minutes.  I'd forgotten how calming it can be!  I also have been working on making my blog's Facebook page a positive, inspiring place to be.  I just started a weekly series (fingers crossed!) of "rooting" for/cheering on small businesses or bloggers I find.  Here's the first one.  

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

No.65: New Habits, Little by Little: Cooking at Home (December 2017)

When I think of this December, the Bible verse that comes to mind is: "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord."  This month was full of celebrating and mourning, of laughing and crying.  We definitely ate out more than normal, but one thing is true: it doesn't matter whether we're in our dining room at home or a greasy pizza joint states away.  The beating heart of a family is around the table.  Ticking off the days before Christmas, we made delicious meals and treats crowded around the kitchen counter.  And after celebrating the life of my grandmother, tables full of aunts and uncles and cousins gathered together to eat, reminisce and share stories.  How fortunate am I?  May I never forget what a gift I have in family.

Week 22 (cont.):
Friday, December 1: waffles for the kids, Home Chef for date night (sirloin steak with brown butter bordelaise and brussel sprouts and roasted potatoes)

Week 23:
Saturday, December 2: P's birthday! apple-gouda smothered chicken with brussel sprouts
Sunday, December 3: panko crusted chicken fingers with homemade french fries
Monday, December 4: simple tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches (SO good!)
Tuesday, December 5: beef and broccoli ramen noodles (I didn't have a lot of the special ingredients, but made it work.)
Wednesday, December 6: skillet Italian meatballs and pasta
Thursday, December 7: slow cooker kielbasa and barbecue beans
Friday, December 8: popcorn and cocoa for the kids (while watching The Polar Express!), Home Chef for date night (ranch chicken with jalapeno popper twice-baked potatoes and green beans)

Week 24:
Saturday, December 9: chicken and bacon pasta in a garlic cream sauce
Sunday, December 10: leftovers
Monday, December 11: tacos
Tuesday, December 12: Refrigerator Clean-Out Night
Wednesday, December 13: salisbury steak meatballs with egg noodles
Thursday, December 14: Oktoberfest brats and roasted vegetables
Friday, December 15: homemade pizza for the kids, Home Chef for date night (ribeye steak quesadillas with pico de gallo)

Week 25:
Saturday, December 16: out for burgers before we looked at neighborhood Christmas lights
Sunday, December 17: slow roasted pulled pork
Monday, December 18: Memere's wake. out for pizza after the wake
Tuesday, December 19: Memere's funeral. late luncheon after the funeral
Wednesday, December 20: we were exhausted from our trip and just grabbed anything
Thursday, December 21: taco salads
Friday, December 22: cereal for the kids, steak and potatoes for date night

Week 26:
Saturday, December 23: A new Christmas "Adam" tradition: barbecue from our favorite local spot
Sunday, December 24: Christmas Eve! french onion meatball sandwiches, pizza dip
Monday, December 25: Christmas Day! Mom and Dad brought over leftover ham for panini sandwiches and pecan, blueberry and pumpkin pies
Tuesday, December 26: we snacked all day and just grabbed whatever for dinner - the joys of that post-Christmas fog!
Wednesday, December 27: spaghetti and homemade meat sauce
Thursday, December 28: simple tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches
Friday, December 29: homemade pizza for the kids, Home Chef for date night (sirloin steak and loaded potato wedges with smoky mushrooms)

Week 27:
Saturday, December 30: pot roast and potatoes in the Dutch oven
Sunday, December 31: New Year's Eve! chicken thighs, mashed potatoes and brussel sprouts

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

No.64: Books & Family Goals for Epiphany 2018

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Due to upcoming schedule conflicts, we held our second annual Epiphany dinner last Saturday night.  (Liturgically incorrect, but we're going with it...)  As we ate our pot roast and potatoes, we chatted about family goals for the new year.  Our top three are:
  • Out-do each other in kindness.  We are a team and we should seek ways to serve one another.
  • Be brave.  We are new to this town and feel a bit isolated.  We are ready to get out of our comfort zone, invest in our community and make new friends.
  • Cultivate a habit of reading.  This isn't really new but something I want to continue.  We are going to finally go get those library cards, help J with his fluency (so reading isn't so exhausting for him) and get Sophie started on simple stories.
After dinner, everyone ripped open their gifts wrapped in gold paper and cozied up by the fire.  It was something out of a storybook and the perfect way to usher in 2018.  Our Epiphany books:

MARK - Musashi: An Epic Novel of the Samurai Era by Eiji Yoshikawa

ASHLEY - Thrush Green (Book 1) by Miss Read

M (age 11) - The Ruins of Gorlan by John A. Flanagan

D (age 9) - File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents by Lemony Snicket

J (age 7) - The Adventures of Tin Tin (vol.1) by Herge 

S (age 5) - Mercy Watson to the Rescue by Kate DiCamillo

TJ (age 3) - Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry

P (age 1) - Little Blue Truck (the board book version) by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry

Monday, January 1, 2018

No.63: My 2018 Goals & Projects List

Happy New Year!  After a year of rest (except for that whole buying and selling a house part), I'm ready to roll up my sleeves again and get to work.  This list is ambitious, but exciting.  If I can complete even half of it, I'll be happy.


I've spent six months getting a feel for how we use each room in the house and I'm ready to get started on all of the projects I've pinned on Pinterest!  The list in my head is a mile long, but I tried (tried!!) to be realistic for one year.  
  • Paint the first floor. // I'm leaning toward Benjamin Moore's Classic Gray throughout.
  • Paint Sophia's and the little boys room. // Colors TBD.
  • Paint the shutters and the exterior doors. // Color choice is Benjamin Moore's Wrought Iron.
  • Strip and restain/seal the front porch.
  • Add one more rocking chair and a porch swing to the front.
  • Plan out and create front flower beds. (Possibly hire out?)
  • Have dead and fallen trees removed from our property.
  • Buy a console table for the front hallway and decorate.
  • Hire an electrician to replace the living room fan, front hallway light, dining room chandelier and outdoor lanterns.
  • Hang curtains in the dining room.
  • Create a gallery wall of black and white family photos in the living room.
  • Work on the little boys room: paint their headboards, purchase one more mattress and decide on bedding.
  • Find a special piece of artwork to add to the master bedroom.
  • Build a 10-foot table for the back porch.


Pace myself. // I tend to go full steam ahead for a few months and then crash and burn.  (Rinse and repeat.)  Hoping to avoid that this year by giving myself permission to slow down, taking frequent social media breaks and finding pockets of quiet, alone time to recharge.

Drastically reduce my sugar intake. // I am, no joke, addicted to sugar.  But I'm not getting any younger and I know it's time to make some big changes.  This is one of those goals that I know is good for me, but I'm definitely not excited about, hah!

Make major progress on the Amerithon Running Challenge. // The Amerithon Challenge is a virtual fitness challenge which has you spanning the United States - 3,521 miles!  You can choose your mode of travel (run, walk, swim, bike, a mix of all, etc.) and there is also the option to do the challenge as a team.  I decided to go it alone, solely tracking my running mileage.  I've been chipping away since July and predict that it will take me two years to complete.  I really want to be a better, faster runner and this is just the challenge to help me toward that goal.  

Run another half marathon and decide about running a full. // I'm excited to visit the same course I ran in 2015 and see if I can beat my first time.  I'm still undecided about the full marathon and probably won't make that decision until further into the year.    

Learn a few self-defense techniques. // I recently read a handful of scary stories from female runners, so I'd like to learn some things to stay safe.  My husband and boys are learning Jiu-Jitsu - I'll have to start paying attention. 


Learn new things directly from the source. // I've been thinking a lot about things my grandmothers passed down to me and how thankful I am for both the skills and the time together.  I really want to continue that with other family members this year.  So for example, my mom makes delicious strawberry jam.  Instead of just Googling for a recipe, I want to put a date on the calendar and learn right beside her.

Start a savings account for traveling to see out-of-state relatives. // This goes along with the idea that close relationships are a choice, regardless of distance.  Time to save those pennies for plane tickets!

Brainstorm new ways to spend time with my siblings.  // With my baby sister turning 20 this year, we're turning a corner - they've all finally joined me in adulthood!  I'd like to explore new ways that we can spend time together, both with and without spouses and children.  Ideas: monthly Sunday dinner at my parents, meeting for breakfast and giving experiences as gifts (an escape room sounds right up our alley)

Create new memories with my husband and my kids. //  More traveling.  More exploring.  It doesn't have to be fancy or expensive, as long as we're together.


Keep up with a year-long photo project. // I started a project a few years ago where I photographed what I was doing while drinking my morning coffee.  Thinking it may be a good year to try again.

Start a One Line a Day five year journal. // I've always wanted to do this!  I like the idea of having five years of memories in one little book.

Check off tasks on my 100 Little Things list. // As of this writing, I've completed 19 tasks since August.  I hope to keep chipping away - there are a lot of interesting things still to do.

Read 25 books. // I'm reducing my number (I read 38 in 2017) in an attempt to focus on quality vs. quantity.  There are some large books I'd like to get through this year. (I also think I should maybe start focusing on my to-read list on Goodreads.  The total there is 441 books!!)

Dip my toes into homesteading. // I don't see us getting farm animals anytime soon, but I do love the idea of having a big garden, regularly making homemade bread and learning new skills.

Invest in our new community. // Join the local Facebook group.  Attend the parades downtown on Main Street.  Meet the neighbors.  Shop from small businesses.  Volunteer at church.  Take the first steps to know others and have others know us.

Dive deep into faith. // One of my favorite priests always says, "You can't fall in love with someone you don't know."  My faith is precious to me, but I also know that there is SO much more to discover and learn.  I'd like to read, watch and pray widely this year.

Be creative again. //  This goal is purposefully vague.  I'm allowing myself the freedom to let it unfold naturally.  Maybe more blogging?  Scrapbooking?  Revisiting favorite handcrafts or trying something new?

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