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,

Erin

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,

Erin

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.

Erin

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,

Erin

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.

Erin

August

August is National Eye Exam Month. Schedule a check-up for yourself--and exams for your kids before school is back in session--now.

Erin

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

July 16th

Today is National Hot Dog Day, celebrated the third Wednesday of July. What are your favorite hot dog fixin's? Post in the comments below!

Erin

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Home Is Wherever You Are

Ricky Skaggs and his wife Sharon White-Skaggs sang a duet in the 1980's called "Home Is Wherever You Are." I won't post the lyrics here, but the song is really beautiful.

My husband and I are talking a lot about where our road will lead us next. Mississippi? Panama City? Tampa? We have options, and that's something we really couldn't say a year ago. Having options is a good thing. The uncertainty is nervewracking for me, however.

We have looked at house after house after house. We would like a house large enough for us to have a bedroom for our little one, a guest room, and a school room. My husband wants me to have a craft room as well, although I'm not insistent upon that. I want a big kitchen because we spend more awake time in our kitchen than in any other room. We also want at least 1.5 acres so that we can have a garden and a play area for the little one.

We also want to avoid a lot of debt. And what that means is that we are going to have to renovate something. I don't mind that idea at all, provided I don't have to redo plumbing or electrical because I cannot do those myself. Painting, putting down flooring, redoing counters, framing mirrors, replacing light fixtures, replacing appliances--those don't scare me. Ripping out walls scares me. I want something with good bones.

During my husband's previous career in the Navy, he was gone approximately 50% of the days each year. I grew accustomed to the schedule, but was determined that I hated it, so much so that post-Navy I put down my foot when my husband had an opportunity for a great job being away for weeks at a time. We slept in the same bed nearly every night for a year (he's a weekend warrior, so he was gone a weekend a month). And then he left for tech school in April, and since then, we've seen each other 2-3 days a week. Each week, the separation gets more difficult on both us and our child.

So while I don't know where we will be going next, I do know that we will build a home together because home really is where the three of us are together. Just as a church isn't about the building, a home isn't about the wall colors, the stainless steel appliances, or the hardwood floors.

Just as an update, the garage sale has been postponed. We want to ensure that we put everything up for sale that needs to go rather than having one sale now and one later in the year. Still, I'm making progress on the garage, don't you think?



Erin

Saturday, July 12, 2014

July 12th

Today is Henry David Thoreau's birthday--and Simplicity Day. I am working on cleaning out our house so that I can have a yard sale in preparation for my upcoming move. How have you simplified your life? Post in the comments below.

Erin

Monday, July 7, 2014

Clarity

My husband and I took a trip this July 4th weekend, one to Mississippi where we may be relocating. We viewed a number of houses in our budget, but what our budget is and what we want it to be differ greatly. We could afford the house we would really like to have in the area, but we would be uncomfortable with the mortgage without my income, and what we want at this point is for me to be home with our baby. Also, we would need to update the property immediately because our own safety concerns and later for aesthetic purposes, and where that money would come from is questionable at this point.

Faced with this reality, we looked at some fixer upper houses. The problem is that great fixer upper houses exist in suburbia or in the boondocks away from my husband's offered job. In the areas we want to live in, the houses have some major issues. One house we looked at had both water damage and foundation issues; another house we looked at had foundation issues and no septic tank or sewer as well as some potential easement problems.

In a sense, we lack the clarity we thought we would have today. But as we arrived last night at the rental house that we currently call home, we recalled our July 4th vacation last year. We went to Tampa last year for my cousin's wedding, and we stayed at my aunt's very nice house on Bradenton Beach. Frankly, we did not want to return home. My husband did not want to return to work, I certainly did not want to return to work, and neither one of us wanted to return to this rental house. I am proud to say that I was glad to walk in our humble door last night, and although I do not look forward to returning to work this morning, I haven't dreaded it as I did last year. Life has changed for us since last year's getaway, and for that I am thankful.

What we do know is this:

  • We are leaving the town in which we currently live. As much as I have loved my hometown, it barely resembles the place I was raised. It is too big, and the traffic is too crazy for a town that offers so few amenities.
  • I want to raise and educate my daughter myself, away from day care and even away from my parents, though they love her very much. I have cut my work hours greatly in the last month or two so that I am working true 9-5 work hours, and in the last month, I have begun closing my office on Fridays. Beginning today, my goal is to be out of my office by 4:30.
  • When we purchase a property, whether it's two acres near suburbia or five acres in a rural area, we want to LOVE it--or at least love our vision for it! What does Sandra Bullock's character say in The Blind Side? If you don't love it in the store, you won't wear it when you get it home. If we don't love the house now, we may not love it later.
  • We are going to praise the Lord in the hallway until the door opens. Maybe we will end up in Mississippi. Maybe we will take another job in the military and move toward Panama City. We realistically won't know which option is more likely for at least another six weeks. But in the meantime, we will be thankful that we are progressing toward happiness, and we will continue to work on doing what we feel is right, simplifying and organizing our lives so that when the opportunity to move does present itself, we are ready.


So yes, the water seems muddier than it did when we left on Friday. But it really isn't. We just have work to do. I said last year that I felt as though the Lord had lessons to teach us. Perhaps we have a few lessons left to learn here. Perhaps we have some tasks to handle.

Like cleaning up this mess, maybe? This is our garage. Garage sale is next Friday and Saturday, by the way. :)



Erin

Sunday, July 6, 2014

July 6th

Today is National Fried Chicken Day. For years, I couldn't fry chicken without being left with a bloody mess inside the chicken. In fact, the only way I can successfully fry chicken now is with a Fry Daddy!

What's your best fried chicken recipe? Post in the comments below!

Erin

Friday, July 4, 2014

July 4th

Happy July 4th! How are you celebrating? Post it the comments below!

Erin

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July 1st

President Ronald Reagan designated July National Ice Cream Month in 1984. Let's celebrate! Do you prefer homemade ice cream or store-bought? Post in the comments below.

Erin

Saturday, June 28, 2014

June 28th

Today is the Great American Backyard Campout. Grab your tent and a grill, and camp out in your backyard this evening! Just remember to set the alarm for church in the morning.

Do you enjoy camping out? What's your favorite part of camping? Post in the comments below.

Erin

Friday, June 20, 2014

June 20th

West Virginia became a state 151 years ago today. Welcome to all my visitors from the Mountain State!

Erin

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

June 17th

Today is National Eat Your Vegetables Day. What is your favorite vegetable, and how do you prepare it? Post in the comments.

Erin

Sunday, June 15, 2014

June 15th

Happy Father's Day to all the great dads! What are you doing for the father in your life today? Post in the comments.

Erin

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

June 10th

Today is National Iced Tea Day. Enjoy a glass on this late spring day! Do you enjoy your tea sweetened or unsweetened? Post your favorite in the comments.

Erin

Friday, June 6, 2014

June 6th

Today is National Donut Day! Visit Krispy Kreme or Dunkin' Donuts today--or make your own donuts from scratch. Do you have a good donut recipe? If so, post about it in the comments below.

Erin

Monday, June 2, 2014

June 2nd

Today is National Rocky Road Day. Eat some rocky road ice cream! Or try this recipe for Rocky Road Cake, one I intend to try today.

Do you have a good rocky road recipe? If so, post about it in the comments.

Erin

Monday, May 26, 2014

May 26th

Happy Memorial Day! How do you remember those who gave their lives for our freedom on this day? Post in the comments.

Erin

Saturday, May 17, 2014

May 17th

Happy Armed Forces Day. Thanks to all who have served.

Erin

Thursday, May 15, 2014

May 15th

Today is National Chocolate Chip Day! How do you prefer your chocolate chip cookies--thin and crunchy or chewy? I prefer chewy! Post in the comments below!

Erin

Sunday, May 11, 2014

May 11th

Happy Mother's Day! What did you receive--or get for your own mother? Post in the comments!

Erin

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

May 6th

Today is Teacher Appreciation Day. Did you make your child's teacher a gift? If so, what did you make her or him? Post in the comments!

Erin

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May 1st

May is Better Sleep Month. Do you get enough sleep? I never knew how important sleep was until I had my baby last year!

Erin

Monday, March 3, 2014

March 3rd

Tomorrow is Mardi Gras. Since I am originally from the gulf coast, I'm thinking about baking a king cake today. Have you ever made one, and if so, how did it turn out? Let me know in the comments.

Erin

Friday, February 14, 2014

February 14th

Happy Valentine's Day! What are you doing for your love today? Post in the comments.

Erin

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

February 11th

Today kicks off Random Acts of Kindness Week, which is celebrated February 11th through the 17th of each year. Let's all go out and perform at least one random act of kindness each day this week!

Erin

Sunday, February 2, 2014

February 2nd

Today is Groundhog Day. Will we have six more weeks of winter, or will we get an early spring? Post your predictions in the comments.

Erin

Saturday, February 1, 2014

February 1st

Today is the American Heart Association's National Wear Red Day. Are you wearing a red scarf, sweater, or dress today to show your support? Post in the comments below.

Erin

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Super Bowl Sunday

Super Bowl Sunday is coming up on February 2nd. Do you have any good décor or food ideas for the big game? If so, post them in the comments.

Erin

Monday, January 6, 2014

Facebook Page

I have a fairly new Facebook page, where--believe it or not--I have been actively posting for like a week now. Feel free to like and follow:

https://www.facebook.com/thedomesticattorney

Erin

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

January 1st

Happy New Year! Are you setting any resolutions for 2014? Whether yes or no, post in the comments!

Erin