Monday, September 1, 2014

Challenge: Simplify in September

Happy Labor Day! I am trying to be productive on this work holiday, particularly given this month's goal, which is to simplify even more than we have already. We have no definite moving plans yet, but my intent is to have a yard sale during either the first or second weekend of October, so even if our moving plans don't take definite shape anytime soon, I need to weed out as much as I can this month. My mini goals are as follows:

  • Finish using toiletries that are nearly gone anyway: I made quite a bit of lotion/cream with shea butter when I was preparing to nurse, and I have been using it on my feet. I want to finish using it so that I can reclaim the Pyrex container that holds it. I also have bottles of lotion from as many as ten years ago that I need to use (IF it's still usable) or discard.
  • Inventory my cabinets: I need to take an honest inventory of our freezer and cabinets and to use or donate food that is aging. I make this statement partially because I found a months-old can of Campbell's cream of mushroom soup in the cabinet this weekend. We've been making and freezing our own for a couple of months now. I likely have no idea what is actually in our cabinets at this point!
  • Sort through our child's clothing and toys: Our little one has outgrown a lot of clothing, much of it that we intend to keep. I need to pack clothes that I want to keep for another future little one in a rather large storage container I have. I need to place clothes I don't intend to keep in the sell or donate stack. Similarly, I need to begin sorting through the little one's toys and determine which ones she has outgrown such as her shoe and wrist rattles. Again, I need to decide whether to pack them away or sell or donate them. After all, the little one's toy wagon is already overflowing, and Christmas is just around the corner!
  • Assess my own clothing, accessories, purses, and jewelry: I have a lot of clothing and even some jewelry I am really not fond of at this point. If I don't wear it or want it, it needs to be sold or donated.
  • Discard paper: I have been scanning and then discarding old teaching units, old financial records, and other paper in the last couple of weeks. I need to continue doing so. The less paper we have to move when the time comes, the smaller moving truck we will need and the less weight we have to lift.
  • Reduce our home management binder to our tablet: I have begun the process of moving our recipes, contacts, and calendar to our tablet, but I want to complete that process. I am learning to like paper less every day, a bit of a miracle considering I used to buy paper notebooks by the tens during back-to-school time!
  • Complete projects: My project table is very cluttered right now, and I need to finish some projects before I begin any others.

Even if you are not moving and not intending to have a yard sale anytime soon, I challenge you to work on simplifying your life this month. People who begin reducing clutter in their household report feeling liberated after doing so. I think my husband and I need to do a "frugal fast" in the near future, and I'm hoping that simplifying a bit this month will give us the motivation to tackle that future task!

Until next time,


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fresh Starts

I quit teaching school 11 years ago. But school starts locally tomorrow, and I've been having "teacher nightmares" this week, dreams in which my students rebel and I'm unable to get them to behave and in which I'm supposed to give an exam I didn't yet create. I always loved the beginning of the school year, though, because despite the nightmares, I always loved the fresh start. I don't generally get fresh starts in the practice of law, even when I get a new case, because the client has generally already made decisions that have affected the case's outcome.

But I pray that tomorrow does bring about a fresh start of sorts. I can count on my hands the number of tasks I have to do at work this week. Four of them are tasks that I expect to bring cases to a close in the next 30 days. I have several other cases that should resolve in the next month if my clients do what they are supposed to do. In short, my work load is diminishing. And my husband doesn't want me to do any marketing of my law practice from this point forward, given that we will be moving, God willing before the end of the year.

Instead, he wants me to focus on tasks at home and on starting another business, one I would enjoy and could work in my spare time while our child is still young. To be frank, I have almost no faith in my abilities in this particular regard, but apparently he does. I want a Silhouette Portrait, so our deal is that if I work on creating for 30 days, I can buy one with my next paycheck, provided I use it to create, too.

So since my work load decreases greatly tomorrow, I intend to reduce my work hours and to spend more time working in my home and with my child--and more time creating. I guess you could say creating is my "new school year's resolution."

Hold me accountable, family and friends! Feel free to ask me daily what I am creating--and how many days I have left before I can buy a Silhouette!

Until next time,


Saturday, August 9, 2014

August 9th

Today is National Book Lovers Day. So take some time today to sit down and relax with a good book.

The former English teacher in me suggests this one: The Grapes of Wrath

And the domestic side of me likes this book: Organized Simplicity

But the cook in me loves this one: Southern Country Cooking from The Loveless Café: Fried Chicken, Hams, and Jams from Nashville's Favorite Café

Post your favorite book in the comments below.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Time Away

We've been absent from our home for a few weeks, spending some time with my husband's family in the Pacific Northwest. We did complete a few projects during our time away, however:
  • We made some inexpensive purchases at IKEA and Costco--stores we don't have locally--to complete some of the items on our project list.
  • We did some experimenting with my mother-in-law's breadmaker and discovered we would like one ourselves.
  • My husband had some smoothies his sister made with her Blendtec blender, and he decided that he would like one himself. (I decided that we would wait until our old blender, a five-year-old Black and Decker, dies.)
  • My husband made some homemade elk jerky using his brother's smoker, and we pondered the idea of our own dehydrator and smoker.
  • We made edible sidewalk paint/chalk, edible colored sand, and edible play dough for the little one.
  • We visited a county fair with quilting, flower arranging, sewing, and other exhibits.
  • We did some baking, making some pretty good four-ingredient peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and strawberry pizza, if I say so myself.
  • We discovered that our little one loves chickens and that slug hunting in the garden is a fun activity.
We try to glean some life lessons from everything these days. For us, during our time away, we realized how much we need to focus on our goals. For two Sundays, we attended my in-laws' church. The second week, the pastor preached on families and family roles. One of my sermon notes reads as follows:
If you cannot support yourself as a single man, you cannot afford to support anyone else and are not ready for marriage and family.
In the two years, I've embraced this idea that as an attorney I am helping support my family. But while I'm earning money to buy the items at IKEA and Costco, I'm not doing as good a job taking care of my family at home as I would like. My husband and I made the decision earlier this year that he again would be the breadwinner for our family, and that goal is what we are working toward. Still, I spent a lot more time on vacation than I had hoped working on my cases when my intent was to work on my blog and on my future non-attorney work goals. My dislike of that fact cements my assertion that I need to work more steadily toward getting away from my law practice and work on taking care of my family--and myself--better.

My little one certainly deserves it. While I had my daughter in the church nursery for a calm-down period on the second Sunday of our visit, I read some excerpts from a book of devotionals for mothers. More than one of the devotionals pointed out how critical are the first five years of a child's life. While working over the last year or so, I have convinced myself that I can work now and begin home schooling my child and spending more time with her when she is a bit older and the student loans are paid off. I was foolish to convince myself that my daughter needs more money now than she needs time.

My husband and I haven't lived together full-time in several months, so the last two weeks together were a bit bumpier than we had hoped. But we did realize a few things. No one's perfect, and we certainly aren't, but we are happy with ourselves, with our goals, and with our family. We have some tweaks to make, but we wouldn't want to be in anyone else's shoes. God put us where we are with the resources we have for a reason, right?

I've seen several friends' Facebook posts about praising God in the hallway while waiting for the window or door to open. We're in the hallway right now. We are slowly learning to rejoice about it. In fact, I am becoming more and more thankful that our current home is the hallway. I am certainly glad to be there today!

Until next time,


Friday, August 1, 2014

August 1st

MTV debuted on this date in 1981. The network kicked off its line-up with The Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star"! To celebrate, put on some great 1980's music! A few suggestions:

What's your favorite 1980's tune? Post it in the comments below.