Monday, June 30, 2008

PREPARING FOR FALL...While I am still in full-on summer mode, I know that I need to be proactive and start thinking about and preparing for the fall. I will begin homeschooling Caedmon in September, as well as returning to SLAH after more than a year off. This will be a year of trial and error, as I get my feet wet with homeschooling and learn what works for us and what doesn't, what our style is (unschooling? Charlotte Mason-inspired?), and just how a mother keeps a house clean, good food on the table, teaches one child with others running around, and maintains a graceful composition.

So, while I am definitely still in a vacation state of mind, I do have an eye to the future, and am starting to implement some changes that will hopefully be routines by September, and will help bring order and calm to our home.

-Flylady's methods. I was consistent with Flylady several years ago, and the results were simply astounding. After several months of sticking with the routines and decluttering, it was truly as though my house cleaned itself. I spent very little time cleaning, yet it was almost always company ready (or could be, within 15 minutes). I have fallen off the bandwagon since then, but am determined to do it again, because I think this will be a huge asset to homeschooling successfully. I have begun to do a thorough cleaning, and am sending more bags to Goodwill.

-Getting up early. This is a hard one for me, because I love to sleep, but is another tool that really helps my days run much more smoothly. Getting up by 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning gives me time to get dressed, have devotions, start a load of laundry, unload the dishwasher, go running, take a shower, etc. If I don't do this, I spend the whole day feeling like I am just trying to catch up. Getting up early allows me to be proactive, rather than reactive.

-Planning my meals. Every Sunday night, after the kids are in bed, my hubby goes to the theatre with some of his guy friends. I always look forward to Sunday nights, because it is my chance to sit and plan out the coming week. I make my to-do list, which I then divide up into daily to-do lists. This is also the time that I spend making out my menu for the following week. It is so relaxing to go through the pantry and freezer, peruse cookbooks, and thinking about who we will be having into our home the following week.

-Having a plan. While I love the idea of being a spur-of-the-moment, happy-go-lucky person, in reality, I need a loose schedule. Besides, my husband is already that way, so I need to balance him out! :)
Knowing what we will do on which days really helps me stay organized and efficient. Plus, by having a general idea of what happens when, I am able to ensure that activities that are important to me, such as devotions and working out, don't fall through the cracks. Sunday is worship and planning (evening), Monday is house cleaning and date night, etc.

-Keeping it simple. I am on a constant quest for simplicity. In my home, in my routines, in my schedule, in my cooking, in my wardrobe...
Keeping my life as uncluttered as possible is so important for my well being. I love simplicity in my home that allows my eyes to alight and find rest. The more simple my wardrobe, the easier it is to care for my clothes, the easier it is to decide what to wear. The less I complicate my cooking, the quicker I can have a meal prepared, the easier it is to plan menus, and (in my opinion) the better the food tastes.

-Thinking less, acting more. I tend to be analytical, which can often be paralyzing. I will think and plan and dream of projects I want to do in my home for months, nay years (!), but over thinking can easily lead to in-action. Well, I am making more of an effort to Carpe Diem! I spend a lot of time in our home, and I absolutely adore this place. I love to express myself creatively by decorating our home. There are several projects that I want to complete this summer. Instead of over analyzing it, I am just going to go for it!

Just a few things I am doing now, to be prepared for later...much like a squirrel, storing up nuts for the winter.

*Creative Commons Image from Gilles Gonthier on

Friday, June 20, 2008

SUMMER DINNER WITH FRIENDSWe are planning to have friends over tonight for a casual summer dinner. I just love the laid back vibe of summer. Light, easy meals made with fresh seasonal vegetables. Children playing into the twilight, catching fireflies, playing with sparklers, running through sprinklers. I wish I could feel this at ease all through the year. But then, I suppose, summer wouldn't feel so special, would it?

The Menu: Inspired by The New Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas and Susan's Food lists, I am focusing the meal on simple, satisfying, summer foods made from as many fresh, local ingredients as possible.

Spaghetti (always a husband and child-friendly meal!) with a just-made sauce of local tomatoes, fresh basil, whole cloves of garlic, and good olive oil. A hunk of parmesan and grater go straight to the table.

A country loaf, from the bakery

Wine, from the local winery

Greek salad with black olives and feta, with a light olive oil dressing

For dessert. Vanilla Bean ice cream with a Belgian Butter Crisp Cookie, and Bing Cherries (sauteed in butter, dark brown sugar, and balsamic vinegar) spooned on top.

Simple. Local. And (hopefully!) a crowd pleaser!

The Guest List:
Whoever we should happen to cross paths with today. I love finding our guests as the day goes on. Which tired mom would love an unexpected break from cooking? Perhaps I will run into a long lost friend at the grocery store. Or maybe Matt will talk to someone who has no plans for the week-end. That is one reason I like to make meals that I can stretch easily. It won't be any problem to adjust the amount of salad I make and pasta I cook, depending on the number of people that show up. It is always fun to reconnect with Matt at the end of the day, and see who we both have invited over. It never fails to be an interesting, eclectic group of people.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I am still in a vacation state of mind, and have been keeping up with only the bare essentials around the house. As such, I am thinking more in bullet points than paragraphs tonight. I hope you don't mind.

-I am enjoying Susan's lists so much. I am a list making kind of girl. And Susan has really good lists. Check it.

-A new nightly ritual this week has been curling up in bed with a big stack of cookbooks from the library. I am enjoying this one and this one very much.

-Today I have been contemplating the meaning of HOME. After standing next to yet another family friend (the second in six months!), watching as their home was reduced to a pile of smouldering ashes, the elements of home takes on a new dimension. How does one lose a lifetime of memories and comforts in just a few hours? How does it feel to suddenly become so unmoored? How do you best reach out to someone when it happens to them? What do they need most? And, when it comes down to it, what are the really important elements in a home? My friend was positive, even cheerful about losing the furniture, the appliances, the clothes. But realizing the sampler, that she had spent a year cross stitching for her soon-to-be husband over twenty four years ago, had burned, brought her to tears.

-I realized (again!) that baby steps can make a big impact over time. Only fifteen minutes spent working in my square foot gardens today helped me catch up with the weeds and add four new tomato plants. Doing this at dusk, after the children were in bed, was very relaxing.

-Blueberries, picked in the rain, are even sweeter than usual. I am in love with summer.

-I am signing up to receive a weekly box of produce. I am excited about the surprise of seeing what the box holds each week, then finding new recipes to use them in.

-Tomorrow I am making this as my contribution to the family dinner at my parents. Balsamic vinegar and cherries? My curiosity is peaked!

*Creative Commons photo from quacktaculous on

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


The books I brought are going unread, the movies unwatched, the letters unwritten. There's not a lot of time for soul searching or pontificating. The days are filled with sun, and sand, and water, and sunscreen, and popcicles. There have been a few less than perfect moments here at the beach. But tasting salt when I kiss my boys' cheeks, and watching them play for hours in the surf, happy and tan and acting like friends, is bliss. I love the beach.

Friday, June 06, 2008


We are headed back to Fripp Island tomorrow for another week at the beach and I am packing a little differently than I did for our trip last month.

-Fewer clothes. I am bringing two pairs of shorts and two shirts for each boy, plus swim trunks. Or maybe shorts that can double as swim trunks. For myself, two simple dresses, and two pairs of shorts and shirts. And a swim suit. Tennis shoes and flip flops.

-Fewer toiletries. No flat iron, hair dryer, or three types of lotion. I am taking a 2-n-1 shampoo/conditioner, deodorant, hairbrush, toothbrush/toothpaste. I am toying with leaving my make up bag behind. I didn't wear any makeup the last time we came.

-Fewer books. Sad as it is, I just didn't get to read much the last time. Just a few chapters in Gift from the Sea. With three little children to watch and chase, there isn't much leisure reading on the beach. But, because I am the eternal optimist, I am taking Gift from the Sea (it just feels wrong not to take it on a beach vacation!), Eat. Pray. Love. by Elizabeth Gilbert (I resisted this book for a while because it just seemed like such a cliche to read...I mean, come on, it's an Oprah Book (!) but it is GREAT. I really like it, though I think her theology is waaaaay off), and the fifth Outlander Book by Diana Gabaldon (there are no words to tell how unbelievably incredible these books are. Seriously. No words. You should just take my word that they will knock your socks off and go pick it up for cheap from Don't get it from the library. You will want to keep it. Trust me.).

-Less food. We took waaaaay too much food last time. As I am (poorly attempting) a 30 day raw food challenge, I will be bringing lots of salad fixings and fresh fruit. I will also be preparing 3 dinners, which are vegetarian (but not raw) and I have put together beforehand and stuck in the freezer.

-More books and toys for the kids. I am bringing a small blowup pool to put on the deck for the babies, plus balls, shovels, buckets, squirt guns, bubbles, etc. Lots of fun outdoor things for the kids.

-More games for the adults. I am hoping to borrow Imagine If! which is really fun.

-More popsicles!

-I am leaving home any agenda or preconceived ideas of how a great vacation should be. With 3 adults, 2 teenage babysitters, a five year old, 3 two year olds, and 3 babies one and under, it is going to be wild and loud and crazy most of the time. Having low expectations and LOVING WHAT IS will ensure a great, happy vacation.