Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Secrets of the slightly organized

Make that "only slightly organized".  I'm a busy person and if I didn't make some attempt at being organized, nothing would get done.  For awhile I've been meaning to put together a post with links to some of my older posts about planning and organization, with the idea that it might be a help to homeschooling moms and other busy people.  But time constraints have prevented me.

A good place to start might be with considering the why of planning and goal setting.  This post, More thoughts on goal setting, from January 2015, will help you consider your overall purposes in life -- the why behind what you do.   If I am to bring glory to God with my life, then I need to use every moment to maximum effectiveness -- a lofty goal that I fall far short of every day.

I shouldn't, but I tend to get a little bit annoyed when people ask me what I do all day.  This post -- Just Busy -- from 2015 gives an idea of just what I'm busy with.  The only thing that has really changed since then is that I no longer have the responsibility of caring for my dad.  We do help my husband's mom with things occasionally, but she is still somewhat independent.  Also, she has other children and that responsibility is shared among them all.  The eldercare, though, has been replaced with responsibilities for his estate, so I am still spending an hour or two a day working on that.  And any references to making gifts and such -- I have much less time for that than I used to, so don't do much (if any) crafting in a given day.

This 2013 post, Where did it go? resulted from taking a look at my week to see just where it had, in fact, gone.  If you ever find yourself wondering that about your own week, it can be very valuable to sit and ponder just where the time has gone.  Looking honestly at this has really helped me purpose to use my time wisely.  This quote from Elizabeth George in A Woman After God's Own Heart is in that post, but it's worth copying and pasting it here, too:

  "God’s mercies are new every morning and His faithfulness is great!  So every morning remember that your goal is simple: you want to have just one good day of living your priorities.  Then keep focused on following God’s plan for your life for just this one day.  For just one day, try putting first things first.”  By God's grace, I intend to do just that today and every day this week!

Lovely graphic by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
Thinking about goals and accomplishing more of them, from 2012, tells what happened when I realized I wasn't accomplishing as much as I once did, and how I began to solve the problem.

A weekly calendar page, from 2008, tells how I designed the weekly calendar page that I use.  This is an invaluable part of my planning, as it shows me a picture of my entire week.

Every morning I then take a small note pad and jot down what the priorities for my day must be.  I suppose the list is usually ten items or less, but if I fit in more activities, that's fine too.  And then I like to make a time schedule for the day, just so I fit each priority in at the most effective time.  This really helps me to get things done in a timely way -- for example, to be sure I've allowed enough time for preparing a meal or getting ready to go somewhere.  It also helps me to schedule important tasks (like those  that require thinking clearly) for earlier in the day when I am fresher, and no-brainer tasks like folding laundry for the end of the day.  I tend to schedule my day in half-hour increments, but I don't stick rigidly to those times.  I just use the schedule as a guideline and stay pretty flexible.  Remember, if you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time!

If you can't face the idea of a time schedule, certainly you could start by just making a small list for each day's priorities.  Just considering what the priorities for each day must be is a huge help.  Start by listing things you must do,  like scheduled appointments, commitments, or kids' activities, and preparing supper or doing laundry.  If you can also find time for other things, good for you!

Another practice that has been a huge help to me is planning menus for each week.   I plan my menus at the same time I make my grocery shopping list, and I plan most of the meals around what's on sale that week, plus what's on hand in freezer, fridge, or pantry.  Having a plan means less scrambling around at the last minute for getting a meal together, and it prevents takeout or drive-through meals so often (though these measures do occasionally have their place).  In thinking about menu planning, I think this topic is worthy of its own post, so I will try to do that later this week.

Hope these simple thoughts are helpful to someone.  I am by no means a time-management expert (quite the reverse, in fact), but if I made no attempt at managing my time, I would be accomplishing even less than I do.  And we do realize God wants us to use our time wisely, for His glory, so let's be inspired to do just that!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Five things I love about fall

Inspired by this post: 5 More Things I Love about Fall at Creekside Cottage, I decided to answer her question here on my blog.

1. Gorgeous colors in fall foliage.  The photo at top was taken at my husband's job site (he works all over the state; never know where he'll be next!) last fall.  I also love looking at individual leaves; they vary so.

2. All things apple.  Cider, apples, apple crisp, apple pie, apple crisp pizza, pretty much anything apple.  Click "apples" in the sidebar label cloud for some good ideas.
3.  All things pumpkin.  Pumpkin desserts, pumpkin muffins, doughnuts, and coffeecakes, pumpkin spice coffee ... Again, click "pumpkin" in the label cloud to see some good recipes.

4.  Cooler temperatures.  I simply love the crisp, cool, brilliant sunny days of fall.  It's the nicest time of year here in New Hampshire.
5.  Fall retreats!  I've saved my favorite for last.  There is just nothing like a fall retreat.  I've been to 2 ladies' retreats this fall and am headed off to a couples' retreat soon.  The glorious scenery, the great fellowship and food, the encouragement from God's Word, the relaxed time to focus on God and on one another ... well, let's just say my hubby and I never want to miss a retreat.  We are so incredibly blessed to have The Wilds of New England here in our state!
And there you have my five favorite things about fall.  What would yours be?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

October 11 Hodgepodge

From Baptist Bible Hour
 It's time again for the Hodgepodge with Joyce and friends at From This Side of the Pond.  Head on over and get the questions, answer them on your own blog and then on back over to Joyce's to link up!   Here are the questions for this week:

1. On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate your sense of direction? 1=can't find my way out of a paper bag and 10=if I've been somewhere once I can find it blindfolded ten years later.

I think I would rate my sense of direction a 7.  I'm pretty good at remembering how to get places.  Not as good as my hubby, though -- I would rate him a 10.   He can even find his way out of the woods under almost any circumstances.

When was the last time you looked at/used a map you could hold in your hand? (phones don't count!) 

 Let's see.  Probably a few weeks ago.  I was trying to find a particular (and well hidden) cemetery. 
My husband has a New Hampshire Gazeteer with really detailed maps of every township, so I was looking at that.  This newer edition that he has doesn't show cemeteries, however.

back east, down south, out west, up north

Choose one of these directional expressions and tell us why you chose it.

I'll choose up north, because later this month we will be going up to northern New Hampshire for a three-day getaway at our favorite quiet, remote lake. 

2. Did you do more talking or listening yesterday? Is that typical? Describe your yesterday in one word.

Wow, that is a good question.  I chatted with my daughter on the phone, but that was really the only actual conversation out of the ordinary yesterday.  I would be hard-pressed to say whether I did more talking or more listening.  I would prefer to do more listening, for sure.

As for my yesterday described in one word -- full.
Beautiful graphic by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
3. Time, money, water-power-resources, opportunity...which one on the list are you most guilty of wasting? What might you do to change that?

Time, without a doubt.  Not really sure what I can do to change it.  I try hard to manage my time wisely, but right at this season of life I have more to do than I can find time for.

4. Did  your family take regular vacations when you were a kid? Tell us something you remember about a family road trip from your own childhood.

We didn't take regular vacations -- wait, let me rephrase that.  My dad had vacation time (usually about a week) every July.  We usually spent it at this little cottage above, which was located maybe a half hour from home on a dirt road deep in the woods.  It had electricity and even a phone, but no insulation or plumbing.  My dad rigged up a gravity feed system from a spring up in the woods, so we had cold running water into the kitchen and so could have water for cooking, brushing teeth, etc.  Of course we had to heat it to wash dishes.  The "bathroom" was an outhouse in the woods a short distance away.  Despite my dad's efforts to keep it clean and well sanitized, I still hated it. 

We did take a lot of day trips too, mostly to visit relatives, and there was apparently a day trip to Story Land that I'd nearly forgotten.

We took one memorable overnight road trip, to Plymouth Rock and other historic sites in that area.  I quite enjoyed it, but my parents declared "never again", so that was the only overnight trip I remember us taking.
At Story Land in 2012

5. If you could grow anything you wanted, what would you grow? Why?

Avocados, because I love them and they are so expensive at the grocery store.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Am I capable of random thought?  Or any thought, for that matter?  Really looking forward to the couples' retreat this weekend at  The Wilds of New England, always a refreshing and revitalizing time.  We now consider it a must for our marriage and we are so thankful for this wonderful place only a little over an hour from home.
And so ends another Hodgepodge.  Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A bit of fall decorating

I've done very little fall decorating this year.  Life is so busy that I seem to have very little heart for doing anything extra, I guess.  But seasonal decorating makes me happy, so I have taken time to do a little bit of it.

Here are just a few pictures of my hutch and table.  I do apologize for the faded look of these photos, which were taken with my tablet.

This shows the entire middle shelf.  I recently purchased the Autumn in the Country book from  ThriftBooks.com for very little money -- under $4, if I remember right.  It's in great shape.  I bought the Amazing Grace sign from a friend's craft booth in August.  Love it! 
Above are several pieces of my treasured black and white ironstone -- it's Ashworth Brothers Aesthetic Black -- plus a few other fallish odds and ends.
 Two of my favorite fall mugs with my jadeite plates and "Thankful" sign are above, along with a little maple leaf pitcher and green and yellow birds.
 I have a faded gold cloth (vintage) in the center of my table with a cream doily and pumpkin spice candle.  A sprig of dried hydrangea from a summer bouquet someone gave me, and the "watercolor" leaf I found at The Wilds of New England in September.
Hope you've enjoyed this simple look at my very simple fall decorating.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Early October Hodgepodge

  Another Wednesday and a new month!  The weeks, and the season, seem to be flying by so fast.  It's time again for the Hodgepodge with Joyce and friends at From This Side of the Pond.  Head on over and get the questions, answer them on your own blog and then on back over to Joyce's to link up! 

Now, for this week's questions ...

1.  Have you ever spent time on a farm? Tell us a little bit about it. 

Oh, yes.  I grew up right next door to my grandparents' farm.   There were cows, lots of cows,  a hired man, and a big red barn with a haymow and a rope swing.  There were vegetable and flower gardens, a big white farmhouse with a screen porch, acres of fields and woods to explore.  And much much more.
The barn nearing completion in 1951
Have you ever grown your own pumpkin? Been on a hayride?

I've grown my own pumpkin!  You all have seen this photo before.  I'm the second from the left.

 I've also been on a hayride, but that was not on a farm.  When we go to fall retreats at The Wilds of New England, a hayride is always a featured activity.  I skipped the hayride at the recent ladies' retreats I went to, but when we go to the couple's retreat Mr. T and I will likely enjoy a hayride together.  The photo below was taken while passing through the orchard on a hayride a year or two ago.
Driven a tractor? Milked a cow?
 I haven't driven a tractor, though I have in years past helped with haying.  Never milked a cow.  My hubby grew up on a small family farm and has done all of the above, of course.
2. What's something younger you would like about you now? 

 Going to have to think about this one... Most likely, the fact that I like to bake, write, and go on picnics -- all things that "younger me" enjoyed.

3. What are three things you'd like to do more often? 

1)Take a getaway with my hubby.
2) Find time to do needlework.
3) Go for long walks.

Three things you'd like to do less often?

1) Go to the dentist.
2) Deal with difficult people.
3) Vacuuming.

4. What's on your nachos?

Cheese sauce, I guess.   I almost never eat nachos.

5. What's the most random thing in your purse or wallet? Does it need to stay there?

I'm going to have to check this out.   Okay, it's a miniature cherry pie, maybe an inch and a quarter in diameter, made of resin.  This was an accessory for one of those dolls people make with an air freshener in the base.  I pitched the doll some time ago, but kept the pie as I thought my granddaughter would enjoy adding it to her collection of play food.  Tucked the pie in my purse so I didn't forget to give it to her.  Of course you know I forgot!  That was at least a year ago, I think. 
So no, of course it doesn't need to stay there.  Next time I see Julia, the pie is staying with her.

6.  Insert your own random thought here. 

It's decently warm outside today, but freezing cold here in the house.   (We've finally gotten some temps that are more seasonal, but still we resist starting the furnace, relying on the kitchen woodstove.)  I will shortly be going outdoors to work on my Sunday School lesson, and/or my grocery list, in the sunshine.
And so ends another Hodgepodge ... Happy Wednesday, all!  Have a wonderful week!

Monday, October 02, 2017

A picnic by the river

Last Thursday we ended up with a little bit of free time in the late afternoon, so we planned a supper picnic.  It was a chilly evening, but we weren't complaining.  After a September pretty much filled with heat and humidity, this first day of autumnal weather was a pleasant change.
I didn't have time to plan ahead, or I would have brought a warm main dish like chili or even a casserole.  Since there wasn't time for that, I made sandwiches with turkey, provolone cheese, and baby spinach on onion rolls from the supermarket bakery.  With chips and pickles, this was our supper.  Above you see our dessert -- Honeycrisp apple slices (in the plastic bag) and a jar of Carol’s Apple Spice Mix -- that would be the open jar with the spoon in it.  The other jar is cream for the coffee.

Since it was so chilly, hot decaf coffee was definitely in order.  I filled an insulated carafe with it and brought along a little jar filled with half-and-half cream, feeling quite like Gladys Taber as I did so.  Remember how she and Jill would set out for a picnic spot with a thermos of coffee to accompany their al fresco meal?  I would imagine there was a little jar of cream involved too, though I can't remember for sure.  It's been ages since I've read one of her books, a situation I need to remedy soon!
My hubby had been up in this area on a work-related errand earlier in the week, and found this nice day use area in the White Mountain National Forest.  He determined we needed to have a picnic here as soon as time allowed.  So time allowed, and we did!
I liked the look of the river as seen  through these pretty red leaves.  
We were in bear country!  Wonder if those snapping twigs we heard could have been a bear?

The little dirt road just curves back onto the state road.  There's a little path there to the right, but it just follows along the river a little way and then fades out into the woods.
The sun was fading fast.
There was a little bit of fall color here. 

Longtime readers will remember how Mr. T and I used to have a picnic by the river every Wednesday night!  A different river, and many years ago.  It was so nice to enjoy supper at a riverside picnic table again.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

October goals

 A new month!  I for one cannot believe how quickly September passed by.  Here are my goals for October:

* Work on Colossians Bible study in my quiet time †
* Memorize at least 4 Bible verses and review some older ones.
* Add 4 pages to my "What Do I Know About My God?" Scripture notebook
* Continue new study for Sunday School -- A Woman Who Reflects the Heart of Jesus
* Exercise or walk at least 20 times.
* Get to bed by 9:30 pm each night. 
* Limit sugar and red meat.
* Drink enough water each day.
* Drink kombucha each day.
* Keep up with Flylady's missions in homemaking zones of the week.
* Post in this blog most weekdays if possible
* Post regularly in my Christmas blog
* Continue working on several UFO craft projects
* Continue planning for family birthday gifts and work on crafting any handmade ones
* Declutter filing cabinets and bookshelves
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family
* Help and encourage my local daughter as I'm able
* Clean church and set up for potluck meal
* Sort out and declutter my dad's house; work on estate
* Plan meals with a greater emphasis on healthy eating
* Attend a couples' retreat with my husband
* Meet up with cousins for a Sunday evening
* Take a three-day getaway up north with my husband
* Continue upholding my husband as he continues on with our church's pastoral search

 † I'll resume my informal study of Come Before Winter, by Charles Swindoll, probably in November or possibly December, depending on how my study of Colossians goes.

OCTOBER'S HEALTHY HABITS:  Drink enough water/exercise/eat healthfully/drink kombucha

WORD for 2017: Stewardship
   🍁  🍂  🍁  🍂  🍁  🍂  🍁  🍂  🍁  🍂  🍁  🍂  🍁  
 And here is how September went:

* Continue with daily Scripture journaling for my quiet time -- done!
* Memorize at least 4 Bible verses and review some older ones - done!
* Add 4 pages to my "What Do I Know About My God?" Scripture notebook -- not done -- my daily Scripture journaling replaced it this month.
* Continue new study for Sunday School -- A Woman Who Reflects the Heart of Jesus - done!
* Exercise or walk at least 20 times -- done!
* Get to bed by 9:30 pm each night -- not done consistently, but I was in bed by 10 most nights.
* Limit sugar and red meat -- did great with meat, not so well with sugar -- but there's definitely been an improvement there.
* Drink enough water each day -- not done
* Drink kombucha each day -- missed a few days.
* Keep up with Flylady's missions in homemaking zones of the week -- not done consistently, but I plod on.
* Post in this blog most weekdays if possible -- did pretty well with this
* Post regularly in my Christmas blog -- only managed a few posts in September
* Continue working on several UFO craft projects -- not done
* Continue planning for family birthday gifts and work on crafting any handmade ones - done!
* Declutter filing cabinets and bookshelves -- not done
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family - done!
* Help and encourage my local daughter as I'm able -- haven't done much of that this month; it has been the other way around!
* Clean church and set up for potluck meal - done!
* Sort out and declutter my dad's house; work on estate-- work is ongoing with all of this
* Plan meals with a greater emphasis on healthy eating - done!
* Attend 2 ladies' retreats - done!
* Continue upholding my husband as he continues on with our church's pastoral search - done!

SEPTEMBER'S HEALTHY HABITS:  Drink enough water/exercise/eat healthfully/drink kombucha

WORD for 2017: Stewardship

I am certainly hoping for a much more productive October!🍁