Saturday, January 31, 2015

January Books

I get a lot of my reading done while sitting in the car waiting
for my kids to come out of their sports.
I had it in my mind that I would read 60 books this year.
I'm thinking I'll probably hit somewhere between 48 and 60.
I read two books to the kids each month, and then I like to fit in 2-3 of my own.
(I only completed one read aloud this month...January kind of knocked us around a bit.)
My thoughts on my January Books:
"Look, Son, if there's one thing I've figured out about life,
it's that if you want to be happy,
you have to learn how to be happy on your own."
I'm going to say it right now, that this will probably be the best book 
that I'll read all year, and it will definitely make it onto my 
Top 10 Books Ever Read list.
This style of book is my favorite way to read history.
I have definitely found a new favorite author.
He's right up there with Laura Hillenbrand (Seabiscuit and Unbroken), 
Candace Millard (Destiny of the Republic),
and Erik Larson (Devil in the White City).
It's about a 1930's rowing team from Washington.
It documents their journey to the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
Just buy this book and gobble it up.

"Focus on what you're uniquely gifted at."
This was a great book to read around New Years (or any time!).
I got motivated and inspired to make this year a great one.
It really got me looking at my days/weeks/months/and years.
This book inspired me to track my hours in a day and set some goals.
Great, practical advice in this one!

"Our purpose as parents is to teach our children about the 
awe-inspiring wonder of who God is,
how to have a relationship with Him,
and what it looks like to live our lives for Him and through Him."
This was one of those books that made me want to start
this parenting thing all over again.
It was SO good.
Michelle really focuses on the heart of the child.
This one is not only great for parents just starting out,
but I found it so helpful as a parent of tweens/teens.
She shared a lot of "parenting teens" stories.

"I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis.
I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead.
I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept.
I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile....
And I was the lion you do not remember, who pushed the boat in which you lay,
a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat,
wakeful at midnight, to receive you."
 This is Book 3 in the Chronicles of Narnia series.
(Though we read it as Book 5 out of 7)
I have loved reading through this series with my kids.
We've had this series of books since the kids were little,
but they would never pick the books up to read!
I finally took matters into my own hands,
and started reading the series aloud to them.
Needless to say, we're all hooked.
I don't prefer "fantasy" books, but these books
have won me over.
I read in anticipation for Aslan to make his first
appearance in each book.
And then I cry and cry at every word he speaks.
And then I ask my kids to quickly bring me a tissue.
Every.  Single.  Time.
Reading aloud is definitely a more emotional experience
than reading quietly to yourself.
I highly recommend reading aloud to someone!
And, the Narnia books make outstanding read alouds!
So...yeah, I liked it.
C.S. Lewis knew God like nobody's business.

Blog Housekeeping:
-I've decided to continue to email the blog posts each week.  If you don't receive these posts via email, and would like to, just add your email address over on the right-hand side, and you will get the post emailed to you every Saturday.   The post goes live at 5:30am on Saturdays, but the email doesn't send until about 3pm.  I'm not tech-y enough to figure out how to change that.
So, for now, that's the deal.
-My goal is to write 52 blog posts this year.  They will consist of meal planning and recipes, books, sewing projects, and anything else that is listed over there (top right) under my bio.  I hope you enjoy reading my little blog and feel free to comment below!

XOXO Tiffany

"What you believe and where you aim your heart determines the direction and outcome of your entire life for eternity."
Spiritual Parenting by Michelle Anthony

Saturday, January 24, 2015

From the Sewing Room

"From the Sewing Room" is where I'll share what I've been working on lately...
in my sewing room.
January has been a slow month as far as sewing time is concerned.
So, I thought I would share what I've done the last few months, and hopefully I'll have something fun and exciting to share in February!
October:
I made Daisy a superhero tutu for Halloween.
 November:
I shared a few things here.
I also hemmed 6 pairs of jeans.
 Then, I grabbed one of Matt's old flannels that he was "thinking" of getting rid of,
and chopped it up a bit.  I'm pretty sure he's resigned to the fact that he won't be wearing this flannel again.  On the left is a top from my closet about to get a make-over.
 A skirt and a new top.
 I think they turned out pretty cute!
 I also gathered up all of our old sweaters and started making scarves.
Then I made a quick stop at Goodwill to purchase some more.
These were fun...I still have a few left in my Etsy Shop!
 December:
As I was going through my flannel fabric stash, I made about 
45 Hot Rice/Lavender Cozies out of all the printed fabric, and then I made the girls some 
ruffled pillow cases with the white cotton flannel.
 My Book Club hosted our First Annual Gift Exchange, and it was the most thoughtful and wonderful gift exchange that any of us had ever done!
There are 9 of us in Book Club (though one is in Puerto Rico for the year),
and each of us were to bring a gift for everyone, keeping it around the $5 range.
I planned ahead (for once!) and made 9 of these little totes back in September.
Everyone went home with a tote filled with goodies!
 After our Book Club party...
I got 7 orders for totes!
The last thing I should have been doing in December was making a bunch of totes,
but it was so much fun!
 January:
I still have 7 days left in the month, but as of now, I haven't sewn a thing.
I did however take a girls trip to NYC and got majorly inspired!
 I'd like to make some more denim totes and I really want to get into quilting!
We stayed with a friend from high school and he introduced us to Indian kantha quilts.
More on that in a future post.
 As I was peeking through my sewing photos from the last few months,
I came across this mirror pic that I took with my girls in Minneapolis last fall.
I'm thankful that they're not really doubles, because those two singles are more than enough for one mama to handle!  #ilovethemtobits
 Next post...books.

Have a great weekend!
And don't forget to enjoy a day of rest!

XOXO Tiffany

"We've seen that faith teaching occurs best in the daily flow of life - from the living examples of parents who are modeling it."
Spiritual Parenting by Michelle Anthony

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Simple Meal Planning

 I'm always on a quest to make meal planning simpler.
I think I'm on to something with this plan.
Here's what I do...
On Saturday or Sunday:
1.  Select 5 dinners for the coming week + one homemade dessert
2.  Make a list of ingredients to pick up
 On Monday:
1.  Go to the store

I keep a little list of our 5 meals for the week, and then each morning, I decide what would be an appropriate dinner for that evening (based on how much time I have).
I like to do some of the dinner prep work in the morning.
Like, make rice, or prep veggies.
 Then, on an evening when I'm not driving kids around, I'll make a dessert.

I always have the ingredients on hand to make our favorite breakfasts:
buttermilk waffles, breakfast burritos, buttermilk pancakes, smoothies, or yogurt and granola.

And lunch is either leftovers from the previous dinner, or something simple like:
ham and lettuce roll-ups, nachos, toasted peanut butter and jelly, or salami/cheese/crackers.
I've started putting all of my favorite recipes on these 5 1/2 x 8" cards.
I really like the size of them, and also, its easy to gather 5 cards + 1 dessert card for the week.
I'm doing this project in batches.

Last week my 5 meals were:
2.  Tacos (hard and soft shell)
3.  Turkey Wild Rice Soup + french bread
4.  Fettuccini Alfredo w/ Grilled Chicken + Caesar Salad
5.  Hawaiian Sandwiches + Chips + Carrots/Dip

We're planning on eating at home Monday-Friday.
Weekends will be for leftovers, pizza, take-out, or eating out.
As in, I'm taking the weekends off.
You might have noticed on my Instagram, the boys made breakfast last Saturday:).

Let me know what you do for menu planning!

XOXO Tiffany

"He made a fire in the wood stove, put water on to boil, fried some bacon, and made some coffee."
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
(this is one of the best books I have ever read)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

2015 Planning! (part 2)

I love January!
Not only do I love the cold and the snow,
but it's been so fun to think, dream, pray, and plan for the coming year.
One thing that I worked on, prior to New Year's, was a 24-hour schedule.
Sometimes we feel so busy, but we forget that we have 24 hours.
That can be good news or bad news, depending.

This is how I broke down my day:
Monday-Friday
5:30-7:30am  God, Plan, Move
7:30-8am  Shower/dress
8-9am  kids up/breakfast/clean kitchen/prep dinner
9-1:30pm  Homeschool w/ 30 minute break for lunch + 90 minutes of sewing
1:30-2:30 Blog/check email
2:30-5:00  Home Project/Read/Rest
5:00-6:00  Dinner + Clean-up
6:00-9pm  Kids Sports/Margin/Play Games/Movie Night
9-10pm Read
10pm-5:30am Sleep

Homeschooling and making sure the kids get to and from their destinations takes up the bulk of my day.  I'm excited to have scheduled sewing, blogging, and reading!
Weekends will be for date nights, one-on-one time with the kids, home projects, getting together with friends, sports etc.

Though every day is a bit different, it's been nice to have a general outline!
Do you have a daily schedule?
What takes up the most of your 24-hours?

XOXO Tiffany

"Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated".
Confucius (quoted in Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2015 Planning! (part 1)

 While I was hoping for a 24-hour day to spend planning and praying for 2015,
I ended up with chunks of time instead.
A 5-hour chunk of time was my best time spent, and then there was an hour here
and a couple of hours there.  Eventually I got to a point where I was ready to ring in the New Year!

I use Apple Calendar on my MacBook Pro for all my calendar events and details.
I sync this with the calendar on my iPhone.
This is my main (master) calendar that I check daily.
I add details like "what to bring" to certain events + addresses.
I like the color coding option for the kids activities etc.

In addition to having my digital calendar,
I really enjoy having a paper planner of some sort where I can list all the nitty gritty bits of the day.
To do lists, journaling, meal planning, and schedule details all find their way on this daily plan sheet.
I designed my own planner this year, with a full planning page for each day of the year.
I purchased four 3-subject notebooks from Target.
Then, I divided my year into quarters.
Three month increments are much more manageable for planning purposes. 

The first page in the "month" section is a Month in Review page. (below)
I list any important dates to remember for the coming month.
I also list an Index for my Planning Pages that are in the back of the "month" section.
(More on the Planning Pages below)
I also list any gifts or cards that I want to purchase (or prepare) for the coming month.
 My Daily Planning Page has check boxes at the top for God, Plan, and Move.
This is a concept that I learned from Kat Lee at her Inspired to Action Blog.
She does a Hello Mornings challenge where you get up early each morning and only focus on three things: 
God Time, Planning Time, and Exercise (Move).
It is so simple and do-able, I love it!
Then I list out my Schedule for the day (center left).
And my To Do list for the day (center right).
Our Meal Plan (BLD for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner).
Then I leave room for my Journal at the bottom of the page.
Each night I write something I'm thankful for or happy about.
I also leave journal space up top under my check boxes so that I can journal from my God Time.
I usually write an inspiring verse or a passage out of my morning devotional.

After the Daily Pages, I have individual Planning Pages.
These pages include planning for things like birthdays, holidays, parties we're hosting, sewing plans, blog plans/ideas, and a home projects page.
 My goal for my Blog this year is simply to post 52 blog posts.
I'd like to keep it simple and consistent.
The weekly post will go live every Saturday morning at 5:30am.

I'm splitting this Planning Post into two parts.
Next Saturday, I'll share my daily schedule as well as some other goals for the year.

These four precious ones are the reason for my planning.
It's no small task raising a family and keeping the home fires burning.
(walking into the movie theatre on Christmas Day...
we saw Unbroken)

What are your plans for the 2015?
What is your favorite medium for keeping organized?

Hoping and Praying for a fabulous 2015!

XOXO Tiffany

"When you create the environment of service in your home and a heart of service toward the world, you establish a path for your children to embrace the cross and a relationship with Christ, through self-denial".
Spiritual Parenting by Michelle Anthony