Sunday, September 14, 2014

Security



Security.
A word that means different things to different people. 

Security may be a uniformed man with a gruff look and a squawking walkie talkie.
Security may be a small box on a wall with a mysterious code that must be entered to avoid loud alarms sounding.

To me, security is being prepared.
Prepared for the needs of the people I care about. 
The people I live with. 
The people I have promised to provide for. 

A stack of wood that took eight and a half hours to make, but that will keep us warm when the outside threatens with cold and ice. 
A pantry that houses snack choices for hungry children, straight off their school day.
A freezer that contains all I need to provide a hearty dinner to my family, and, if they are lucky, dessert too.
A planner that holds all the places my loved ones will be so I will not worry when I inevitably forget what the day's plan is.

But I can't help thinking of the people who cannot share in my security.

The people who shiver in the winter nights when their heat doesn't exist.
The people whose children do not have enough extra food to have a snack when they get off the bus.
The people who do not know where dinner is coming from next, or even when.
The people who do not know where their loved ones are, or who do not have someone wondering where they are.

I think of those people, and I try to be thankful.

Thankful for having the wood to stack and the sore body after.
Thankful for the snacks that I have to clean up from.
Thankful for the meal plan I need to make out for dinner each week.
Thankful for all the places I get to be with my loved ones that fill up my planner and my days.

And I pray for those who are without.
Those who have longing.
Those who struggle.

That someday, they will be thankful for their security.














Thursday, September 11, 2014

My Favorite Places

I have favorite places. I actually have a few of them. They aren't like other people's favorite places. For one thing, they are all in my house. I do not have to leave to go to them and they are available any time I want.

Some of my favorite places are inspiring.

This is where I stand to get inspired for what is going to be dinner for the week. 
Or, if that doesn't do it, I open up the freezer and stand there looking for inspiration.

They aren't what most people would call swanky. But I do find calm and peace in them.

Where I turn the chaos of dirty laundry piles into the calm of folded laundry. 

But there is one place I love more than any of the others. My kitchen.

My kitchen is the place I love the most. I spend a lot of time in here making deliciousness for my little family to enjoy. Here is where I make sure everyone is going to have cocoa for the ski day and warm bread and chili when we get home in the winter . Here is where I slice the watermelons and make the iced tea and lemonade in the summer to cool the hot and sweaty.



My favorite places. They are small, and they are simple, but they are mine.

Do you have favorite places in your home?

T

Monday, September 8, 2014

Article on Home Cooked Meals from The Federalist

I read this over the weekend, and I really had an emotional response to it. I felt it was important enough to share here as well. I am a firm believer in home cooking and making meals for the family to eat at home together. Yes, it is more work than eating out or eating processed food. Yes, sometimes I am tired after working all day. And yes, sometimes we do eat out and I skip cooking altogether. However, I would take doing this for them out of love because it not only feeds them physically, but it feeds us emotionally. All of us.

I hope you take some time to consider this article:

Article on Home Cooked Meals from The Federalist

Peace and happy eating!

T

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Routines and Things


The end of August/beginning of September just seem to sweep in, like a mom telling you it is time to put away your toys and get to work cleaning your room.

Or at least, so it seems around here.

We had such a full summer of adventure and family time, but now the calendar has ticked by, the air has gotten chilly at night, and the "Welcome Back" letters have been received. It is back to school time.

I always have bittersweet feelings about this particular transition. Bitter because I am going to miss my family, our days spent together, snuggles in the living room in the morning, campfires in the yard at night, traveling all over creation and discoveries made along the way. Sweet because we get back to our routine (and I am a fan of routine!), I get back to helping kids and hopefully making a difference in their lives, and life takes on a sense of normalcy.

Normalcy = laundry?

The one thing I cannot get past and have never really liked is that darned alarm clock going off at 4:45am. UGH! I love mornings, and am a morning person, but that clock seems to go off earlier and earlier each year. No matter how early I go to bed, it seems to mock me and my sleepy eyes when it gives me my wake up call.

This year, our routines are going to be just a little different. Loola has headed to seventh grade, and Moo has entered into fifth grade (and we'll be referring to him now as S, because Moo is just too little kiddish!).

Both kids have sports and after school activities. Keeping track of them is a full time job in and of itself. I have invested, for multiple years now, in a planner to write all of these things down in to keep track. I know there are people who use their smartphones to do this, but I am old fashioned and like to simply write things down. I also like sharpening my pencil and turning the pages. Again, pretty darned old fashioned.

Here is a page from my planner from last year. I do love these planners!


I have some goals for this year, and I'm not sure how I'm going to get them accomplished. Finding a regular exercise routine is one. Finding some time for meditation and prayer is another. Reducing our food waste is yet another, and finally I have financial goals for the year to work on.

I also have a calendar with BIG BOXES to write everything down onto. That way I'm not the only one with the information!

Phew. No wonder I feel overwhelmed when I think about it all.

So, do you see the new school year as a time to renew yourself as well? If so, what are your goals for the upcoming September to June? I would love to hear them!

T

Friday, August 22, 2014

Busy, Busy, Busy



Since returning home, my mind has been full of whirling ideas, new personal and professional goals, and items on a to-do list that was created when I was in a much more relaxed state of mind. Things like food inventory, extensive meal planning (I'm going to try to move beyond planning basic dinner and include breakfast AND lunch AND snacks), scheduled appointments, home and work organization, and necessary fall sports/back to school purchases are the things that have been filling my brain and dancing in my head at night when I sleep.

One thing I had on my goals list was to reduce our food budget this year. I am hoping to take the money I carve off the food budget and use it towards saving for a down payment for a new car. We are not in the market for one at this time, however, now that both of our cars are paid off and we do not have a car payment, it would be nice to start squirreling away some money so that when we actually do have to buy a new car we have a nest egg set aside for it. A big way for me to reduce our food expenditures is to use up the stores of goodies I have in the freezer and in my pantry. I will avoid a lot of grocery shopping, at least in the near future, if I really buckle down and use both of these.

So, keeping this in mind, I grabbed a clean sheet of paper and a clip board and headed downstairs to open up the freezer and see what bounty I had in it.  I discovered that I have quite a bit of beef left over from my shared cow order last fall, as well as some pork chops, country ribs, a pork shoulder and two surprise packages of bacon that were lurking in a dark corner. I took advantage of a strategy I had read about and bagged up the like items in brown bags and put them back into the freezer. Hopefully, this will reduce the chances of things (like the sneaky bacon) from slipping down the sides and spaces in between bigger items to the bottom of the freezer, never to see the light of day. I also discovered that I am painfully low on frozen veggies (one small bag of frozen corn), so that will need to be a priority when I do go to the store.

I further discovered that I had a weak moment somewhere and bought two big containers of popsicles. Huh.





Next on the list is to inventory the pantry. That will be no small feat, especially as it is spread out between three different places. Wish me luck! Once that is done, it's time to start planning how to use everything (read: time on Pinterest finding recipes).

Do you use an inventory system for your freezer and/or pantry?  If so, what kind do you use? Does it help you reduce your food expenditures and food waste?

I'll report in with progress from the front. Have a great day!

T


Tea in the Afternoon



I do not know if it is my little English mum or some constant need for caffeine, but every afternoon between 2 and 3 I get a hankering for a little quiet, a little time to veg out, and a nice, strong cup of tea.

There is just something about the taste and the feel of the warm cup in my hands. It is soothing to my soul.

It might have something to do with that time of day being the lull between the hectic day activities, be they family or work, and the dinner time rush.



That little cup of serenity.

Do you need to unwind a little each afternoon? How do you choose to find your peaceful place?

T

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Very Full Summer

The "Queen Mary"

We have had quite the summer trip.

My husband, J, and I packed up our two kids and headed out to see our great places. We traveled for five and a half weeks, with stops in Canada, Washington, California, Idaho, Montana, and Michigan. We saw amazing things.




Glaciers in Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies.




Beautiful mountains.



Coast lines with water that made rhythmic sounds to sleep by.




Trees bigger than anything my imagination could have predicted.





Delicate flowers that painted the landscape.





And a few new friends along the way.

I am so full of awe and appreciation for all I saw and experienced this summer. White water rafting, hiking, and biking just hits the tip of the iceberg for all we were able to do. I also appreciate all the time I had with my kids and husband uninterrupted by outside influences. We were completely unplugged for the majority of the trip, which allowed us to really absorb both each other and our surroundings. Time like that during the normal school year is fleeting, and so I know that each minute I have is a blessing.

I am also full of inspiration going into a new fall and a new school year. This vacation gave me quiet time to think and reflect on my personal goals and my goals for our family. I am looking forward to sharing my plans and escapades with you all.

For now, I am a very tired individual. Sleep is just what the doctor is ordering. Tomorrow is going to hold a start on the to-do list I have generated to get myself ready for the upcoming back to school experience.

Have a great evening!

T