Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Winter Days

I absolutely love the end of the day light that comes into our living room - unfortunately we haven't seen the sun in a very long time (we're hearing that this weekend it might make a comeback!).  : )

It has been a good homemaking week so far.  I keep crossing things off lists and you know I like that.  I'm kind of taking a break from clearing things out and have been back in the kitchen again.  I'm budgeting more this year for food (because I know that we've all noticed that prices are going up - again).  I would rather cut back in other places and buy/cook healthier because I have noticed that it HAS been making a difference in our lives.  I have been enjoying doing a lot of research and reading on nutrition and it takes me quite a long time to sit down and make the weekly menu and grocery list but it's something that I want to be a bit more serious about this year.  I'm incorporating good, healthy, food into our days because I truly believe that food is medicine to the body.  

What I'm finding with this careful planning and shopping, is that we tend to use everything up a lot better.  I'm much more careful with leftovers - I don't cook anything new until the leftovers are eaten.  Some recipes make quite a bit of food so the freezer is getting full and I'll appreciate that when I don't feel like cooking.  Just a few things we've tried to incorporate:

*better breakfasts making sure that we add important collagen to our oatmeal and drinking kefir and adding fresh blueberries or blackberries
*having lunch being our main meal of the day because we still have things to do in the afternoon that will burn calories
*a light supper so that we don't have full stomachs in the evening
*making EVERYTHING from scratch - I still believe in having a stocked pantry with canned goods but even they have to be something that will be good for us
*buying more organic foods - the ones that really matter - if you eat the whole fruit or vegetable, buy organic (let this be the year that you grow some of your own).  Coffee is the most highly sprayed food item on the planet - be VERY careful that you buy organic.
*more bone broth - if you buy it, make sure it's organic.  If you make it, use only organic meat/bones.  Bone broth provides the important collagen that your body needs - I buy collagen powder to put in our oatmeal every morning (or smoothies on weekends) in case we don't have the bone broth.

Just doing a few small things at a time is better than doing nothing!!!!!!!  Give up the obvious - if you're a soda drinker, stop.  If you're used to buying ready made things that are high in sodium or sugar, start with one thing and make it from scratch instead.  Then think about the next thing to give up and make from scratch.  If you're a snacker, make sure that you have healthy options around like fresh fruit or nuts and seeds.  Seriously.  Making little changes will make big changes within you.

Again, as I've been working around the house I wrote things down  as they came to mind so here are just a few:

*while cooking with onions, save the skins to dye fabric with
*the same with coffee grounds and tea bags - if you haven't done this, it's fun - it also works with paper
*when slicing up an apple, put the cores into a small saucepan, add cinnamon, cloves, and water and use this to simmer on the stove - smells really good, cozy, and homey
*when segmenting oranges, slice the rind and make candied orange rind - you can find this on-line - really a yummy treat!
...........what these things do is to help you in using the item up entirely.  If we're going to spend more on our food, this makes us feel like we're getting more for our money.

Other things:

*the other morning I had a small amount of apple cider vinegar in the shower and poured it over my hair after the final rinse.  I left it on, combed it through, and dried it.  What apple cider vinegar does is bring the natural pH level back that shampoos and conditioners can take out.  The same with our skin - I rub apple cider vinegar on my skin to restore the pH there too.  It's a refreshing feeling - but, again, make sure it's organic.  
*in these winter months try to work with indoor plants - repot some that are outgrowing their pots to larger pots, buy new plants to add to the home's air quality.  I bought new potting soil and when I opened it..........well, it smelled like summer!!!  What a boost.  And working with green plants helps us to feel better.  

If you have pets make sure you read about the plants that won't harm them.  Having a lot of plants in the house is one of the healthiest things you can do.  I hope you will do this!!!
*You probably already know this, but never buy potting soil at the Dollar Store - it was my experience a couple of years ago that it was dirt, not soil - very disappointed.

Well, I think that's it for this evening.  I'll keep working in the kitchen tomorrow as I have more things to cook and mixes to make for the pantry and I'll keep working on those lists.  : )  I hope you will begin to incorporate healthy food into your meals if you haven't already.  I hope you try new things in your home and keep learning. And then I hope you will be more conscious of what you can do this year in making healthy decisions with your own health, the health of your family, and the health of your home.  Thanks SO much for dropping by!!!!!!!  God bless.  : )

Saturday, January 25, 2020

A Very Mild Saturday Morning

An old photo of a winter past - not like this lately!!!

Well........for the end of January our weather around here is so very mild.  Usually we're in the deep freeze.  I'm NOT complaining!  I love the four seasons but when it comes to January and February it usually gets long so this mild weather feels great.  Still snow on the ground but it's getting all melty - even the birds are singing again.  : )

It's been another good week of going through things and getting areas organized.  I told myself that I would not clean those areas until they were organized first, so now that that has happened I will clean.  And maybe while cleaning, I will find even more to give away!!!!  : )  The thing for me about organizing and cleaning areas of my home, is the motivation that goes with it.  I find that I WANT to KEEP it clean and organized.  And once cleaned and organized it just feels so good and relaxing - it helps me to be able to get to other projects.  Because when I know that I have a mess in a certain area of the house, I can't relax and I feel guilty about not taking care of it.  I feel like this is what winter is for.  One less thing to think about when Spring comes and we want to start to be outdoors more.

As I was working I got to thinking about the importance and luxury of routines in the home.  Being a homemaker I think we have a natural routine at home that we don't even see.  We just do it.  But I was made aware of it this week.  In the darkness of the early morning hours it's the going out to the kitchen and turning on a little soft light and perking a new pot of coffee as the comforting aroma fills the house.  And then it's the turning on of a few more soft lights in the living room - NEVER strong light, but soft.  Having the fireplace going for that comfy feel as I settle into my rocking chair for my daily devotions and quiet time with the Lord.  This morning routine is important.  It tells me that I'm readying myself for the day ahead.  I do it as a part of having a home.

And then I noticed that towards the end of the day - and it's ALWAYS around 3:30 or 4:00, I have another routine.  After a day's work, I find myself (in the winter) going around to each window and pulling the blinds down (after having them half-way up during the day to let more light in) and close them slightly.  I begin turning on some lights for the upcoming evening hours and then I go into the kitchen and light a candle.  This is telling me that I'm readying myself for ending the day.  The work is done, the evening meal will be prepared, and then we relax for the night.  Again, I do it as an important part of keeping a home.  To make it feel special.  I wasn't even really aware until I got to thinking about it this week.  I'm always so focused on the getting things done part of the day that I hadn't thought about the importance of beginning and ending the day in a meaningful way.

It kind of goes with "life is what you make it."  I could choose to sleep in every morning and then feel rushed in just getting ready for the day.  I could choose to end the day with unfinished projects lying around, no energy to make a meal and order take-out, and not care about they way our home feels.  I believe that even if you work outside the home or are busy with other things that take you away from your home during the day, routines matter.  It gives us stability.  It gives us something to count on.  It's what make a house a home.  I hope you can think about what you do with your time and if you haven't established some kind of routine that you will be able to start. 

I understand that we all go through seasons of our lives.  We have the young married couple who are just starting out and they're just trying to get used to living with another person around and getting up every day and going to work and finding time to be with their friends.  We have the couple with children who are demanding and tiring and they're just trying to find time to be alone yet be responsible and do what they are supposed to do as parents.  Then we have the older couple with older kids and all the busy-ness with school and projects and running here and there.  So........I get it.  I'm in the season of the empty nest so all this wonderful, relaxing, routine is where I am right now.  It wasn't always like this.  If truth be told, I wish I still had the above scenarios going on.  I miss raising a child.  I miss the busy-ness.  But, again, life changes and it's what we make of it through the changes that helps our homes become the place we want to be.  : )

Lastly, I wanted to share a recipe with you.  It's called a Bakeover.  I have MaryJane's Idea book and it was in there, and now I'm hooked.  I tried one last weekend and we really liked it so I'm trying a different one today.  Let me explain.

It's not really a recipe.  What you do is cook up some meat (if you want meat, which we do) and set that aside.  In an oven-proof skillet, you saute' whatever vegetables you want (onions, garlic, carrots, potatoes, etc.), and whatever seasoning is appropriate for whatever dish you are preparing, add the meat back in and then top it with whatever "crust" you want.  Bake at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes or until crust is done.  Flip it out of the skillet onto a large plate, cut into segments and serve!
SO good!!!!  And how fast, easy, and delicious.

For example - last week I wanted to make a brunch bakeover.   I browned some mild Italian sausage, drained it, and set it aside.  Then in the fry-pan, I sauteed (in butter), sliced potatoes until they were beautifully browned and soft.  I added chopped onions and garlic and sauteed them until they were done.  I added shredded cheddar cheese and seasoned with fresh pepper and salt.  For the top crust, I had some buttermilk biscuits that I flattened a bit and laid them across the ingredients in the pan and baked it.  Flipped it out onto a plate and tah-dah!  I served it with sour cream and it would have been great sprinkled with green onions but I didn't have any.  Here is what it looked like:

The photo doesn't do it justice but it tasted really good.  : )  

The one I'm doing today is a chili inspired one.  I will brown and drain the hamburger.  Then I will saute' green peppers, onions, tomatoes, and celery in butter.  I'll add chili seasoning and shredded cheddar and stir well.  I will then make a cornbread batter to spread on top, bake it till done and flip it over, cut into wedges and serve it with sour cream again and green onions (because now I have them).  Can't wait!!!!!!

Like MaryJane said in her book - there are tons of different way you can make these!  I also wrote a chicken pot pie idea down along with a pizza idea that I will try in the upcoming weeks.  But, really, think of all the possibilities with all the different kinds of meats, veggies, cheeses, and crusts.  I hope you can give this a try!!!!  *The only thing about this is that it makes a lot.  So this would be something to have when you know you'll have someone to help you eat it OR, like us, we love leftovers so it's perfect.  : )

One more thing - I received my two books by George Eliot last week and am now reading the first one that she ever wrote and so far, so good!!!!

Her characters are so very real.  There is never a person in her books that is perfect - she exposes all the natural human tendencies (fear, worry, self-centeredness, frailty, charm, loving disposition, etc.) which, for me, is rather good to read about.  No fluff.  I feel like I'm off in a corner watching and listening to all these people and getting to know them - feeling compassion for some, feeling a bit sad for others, and then feeling downright disappointed about a few!  

Well..........thank you so much for dropping by again.  I SO appreciate it when you do.  I hope you will take the time today to notice the important routines in your home and maybe even begin to start one.  I hope you can take the time to clean and organize that one area that's been driving you crazy.  I hope you can cook and/or bake and make your home smell good and make it feel cozy.  I hope you will take the time to choose a good book and read.  Challenge your mind and get away from technology for a while.  God bless you as you do these things for yourself, for your family, or for your friends (or all three!).  : )

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Good Saturday Morning!

Pretty snowy-scene puzzle.

Yesterday afternoon and evening brought us a new blanket of white snow to cover up the old.  We were supposed to get a lot more than we did so I'm very thankful we didn't.  I don't mind a few inches but when they talk feet, now that's something entirely different!!!!  The temperatures are supposed to drop dramatically to the single digits by this afternoon and then the wind will pick up and probably make it a little blizzard-y with the snow we did get.  So, it's definitely a good day to stay in and get things done, or read a book, or work on a project, or get crafty, or...........................  : )

It's been another good week as far as cleaning out and organizing.  Quite a few more bags of stuff are gone and that's always a good thing.  This was the laundry area which is the ugliest area of our house - there isn't a lot we can do with it as that is where the furnace is and the hot water heater so there isn't much of a chance to pretty it up - it is what it is but it can be organized!  What are you working on in your home to get better organized?  Do you have any tips that you can share?

As I was busy, when an idea came to mind I wrote it down so that I could share it with you today.  So let's get started!

I really think that breakfast is a very important meal to eat because if you go by the principle of having supper as your last meal of the day and you don't snack in the evening, that is a long time for your body to go without food.  You need to re-fuel for the day's work.  We don't change what we eat too often - usually Monday through Friday we eat oatmeal made with collagen protein, flaxseed, cinnamon, and coconut oil, and then serve fresh oranges with it.  We are very much trying to eat foods in their original form.  We used to have orange juice, but we know that eating the orange is much better for us.  On weekends, we make smoothies with whatever frozen berries we have in the freezer, throw in a banana, add coconut milk or kefir, slice up an avocado and we're good to go.  With the smoothie we have a slice of toast with real butter and a bit of peanut butter sprinkled with a few raisins.  

The kind of oatmeal that I've been making lately is the steel cut oats.  Here is the difference between the 3 kinds of oatmeal:

*Quick oats - these are rolled thin, pre-cooked and dried.  That's why they are so quick to cook.
*Old-fashioned - these are also flattened but not as much as the quick, they are steamed and need a bit more time to cook.
*Steel cut - these are cut but are still in the original groat form which makes them a long-cook oat.

I had done quick oats for a long time, but because they are pre-cooked they are not as good for us but they are good for baking (breads, cookies, etc.).  Then I switched to the old-fashioned but still not feeling that we were getting the nutritional benefits so I use these for really good fruit crisps.  Now we are eating the steel cut oats, but unfortunately they really do take a long time to cook and because I don't want to fuss with the length of time, I found a method to cook the steel oats the night before and then just re-heat in the morning.  Wonderful!!!  Here is the method if you'd like to try it:

1.  Measure out the oats - I use 1 cup.  And then toast the oats in a 2-quart saucepan in 1 tsp. of butter and fry them until they start smelling toasty - about 2 minutes.

2.  Add 3 cups of water and just a pinch of salt.  Bring this to a rolling boil.

3.  Turn off the heat and cover the pan.  Leave it on the stove and go to bed!!!!!

4.  The next morning, just stir your oatmeal, put a low heat under it and bring it back to a simmer, stirring every once in a while.  And I always add 1 cup of coconut milk to it so it's a creamy consistency.  And serve!!!!!!  

Isn't that easy?  I'm always a proponent of getting as much done the night before as we can so this is perfect.  I must say that this makes a lot of oatmeal which is also a good thing because all you need to do is keep putting the leftovers into a smaller pan, put it into the fridge because it keeps up to 5 days and then re-heat what you need.  This is definitely a win-win recipe.  Easy, quick, healthy.  : )

What is a favorite breakfast meal that you eat?

Another thing to share with you is this:

I know these have been around for years now and my friend introduced them to me a long time ago but I just got out of the habit of using them.  Well, I'm buying them again because, honestly, this is the only product I've found that seriously cleans our old 1952 original bath tub.  They are excellent if you'd like to try them.  At this point, I think I'm supposed to say that I'm not getting paid to say this!  LOL  : )  Do you have a favorite housecleaning product that you'd like to share?

The other thing that gets me excited this time of year is this:

The seed catalogs are coming in the mail and there are magazines with articles on gardening!  : )  I can't honestly say that I have a green thumb - I do okay with our indoor houseplants, but gardening has always been daunting.  I do it, but 9 times out of 10 I really don't know what I'm doing!  But I'll continue to try because I love digging in the dirt and making things grow so having these catalogs come in is just the motivation I need to dream.  I would encourage you this year to begin growing something if you don't already.  Think of it as experimentation and learning something new even if you just choose one thing or two (a blooming plant and a vegetable).  If it doesn't work, try something else.  This is especially important if you have children or grandchildren around.  I've probably mentioned this before but when growing up my mom kept a big garden but she never asked us to help.  I think since she worked so hard outside the home, gardening was probably her escape.  Her time of being by herself and enjoying the work without anyone else around.  And I understand that but I sure wish she would have taught me what she knew.  So, please get your kids involved!!!!  Do you garden?  What do you usually grow?

Last week I had mentioned that I was reading "My Friend Flicka" - well..........I'm not reading it anymore.  It's not very often that I stop reading a book unless I'm finished but this book just wasn't me.  But since I NEED to have a book in my hands every day, I ordered two George Eliot books that will get here on Monday and I'm SO excited!  I looked her books up and they gave the top 5 books that she's written.  I have (and read) 3 of those books already (which I found at a thrift store) and so I ordered the other two of the top five.  I love reading a series of books by the same author.  I have many Grace Livingston Hill books.  I'm trying to collect a lot of Lucy Maude Montgomery books, I now I'm trying to collect George Eliot books.  There is just something about the authors of old.  So, again, I encourage you to READ!!!!!!!  Every day!!!!!!  Do you have a favorite book or author that you'd like to share?

Also, in regards to correspondence that I posted on a while back, I'm hoping to getting around to making Valentines this year to send out to the special women in my life (sisters, friends, ladies from church).  Again, I think it's important to let people know how much they mean in our lives and I've always felt that Valentine's day is more of a ladies day with all the pink and red and flowers and lace.   : )  So, maybe that is something that I could encourage you to do as well?  If making them isn't your thing, the dollar store has lovely cards right now.    Do you do anything special for someone on Valentine's day that you could share?

And, lastly, I think it's important to set goals in our lives.  Though I don't do New Year's resolutions, there are a few things that keep going on in my mind that I feel I should at least try.  There are two ideas that I've had for years and I'm hoping that this year is the year I will get around to them.  The first is to start a neighborhood women's Bible study.  I have felt this tug for a long time and our neighborhood has so changed that we don't really know each other and every Sunday morning it's pretty much my husband and I that go to church!  I have the desire within me to reach out and tell others about Jesus but it's not easy is it?  As with a lot of other people, I feel very inadequate but I also know that it's important.  So I keep asking myself if it's more important to feel comfortable and not do anything or is it more important to be a little uncomfortable and bring others to Christ?  So, right now I'm in the thinking and planning stage of that plan and we'll see what happens!  : )

The other goal that I've had for years is to write a homemaker's devotional book.  I love to write and I would love to try to write a book about what I'm passionate about.  And that is our relationship with the Lord and my job as a homemaker and putting those two things together.  Again, it is in the thinking and planning stage (with much prayer!).  

But those are the two goals for this year - two things that aren't just a passing thought but something that I've had on my mind for years and hoping to carry them through.  What is it that you have been wanting to do for years and just haven't gotten around to it (yet)?   That is your assignment for this post - think of that one thing that you might think impossible.  How can you make it possible?

Well, that is it for this snowy Saturday morning.  I wish you all the best and I thank you for stopping by.  I appreciate you!!!!!!!  God bless.  

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Pray Without Ceasing

I guess you'd have to be hiding under a rock if you don't know what's going on politically right now.  Even though I choose not to watch the proceedings, I encourage you to pray for our President.

What I've seen since our President has been elected is embarrassing to our country.  What the leftists and liberals are teaching our children and young people is that if you lose - act like a poor sport.  Don't put up with it.  Cry foul.  And then try to get even.  It's a sad state of affairs.

Please pray:

*that God will make the proud and unmoving politicians humble - helping them to understand that they are FAR from perfect themselves
*that President Trump and his family will be able to stand strong against all the attacks
*that we (the American people) will be protected from the spiritual battle going on in our country but will also be strong and bold and courageous to fight for our rights as citizens of the United States
*for renewal and a Christian revival  - that we have to awaken from our sleep and have eyes to see what will happen if we do not pray!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

God is still on His throne.  God is still in control.  But we have to do our part as well.  And THAT is calling upon the Name of Jesus for help.   He already knows what's going on but he's waiting for us to ask.  Please................we NEED to do this.  


Saturday, January 11, 2020

Saturday Morning in January

Our new calendar for the year is all about chickens and roosters - very country.  : )

Dark, dark, dark.........raise your hands if you can't wait for the sun to rise earlier again!  I've noticed that the sun goes down a wee bit later so that's encouraging.  : )

How have you all been this past week?  It has been a very good week as far as cleaning and purging and organizing.  Bags upon bags of stuff have been taken to the thrift store and after today I'm sure there will be more!  I'm determined to keep in this house only the things that mean something to us, is pretty and adds to the decor of the home, or useful to us.  We just absolutely cannot keep every little thing.  This is much easier for me to do than my husband.  It's more difficult for him to get rid of things.  And I understand that.

Last Saturday was the taking down of Christmas decorations and now only the cute little snowmen are scattered about along with some snowflakes.  I SO miss the tree though - it always adds that touch of beauty especially in the morning when it's dark and you need some pretty light.

I've also come up with a new way to do our menu:

I first think of our meals for every day and then below that I write down what I need to do the day before to prepare for that meal.  There have been one too many times that I forget to defrost something or bake something or prep something and then have to think of another meal to make.  This way each day has something that I need to do for the following day and it works beautifully.  For me, this is a breakthrough.  No more forgetting.  : )

Also this week I've been thinking about how important correspondence is.  I was so disappointed this Christmas with the people who sent out cards.  There were only a couple of people who actually took the time to write a little something - most just signed their names.  It almost seems like they weren't intending to send any card but because we did they hurriedly sent it off and it was done.  I understand that if that card was from someone you already see on a regular basis and talk all the time that there wouldn't be anything else to do but sign their name.  I mean people that live far away and you don't see all the time.  The reason I like to send my cards early is so that I have time to sit down and write in each one.  There were also a couple who sent a photo card and that was it!  No greetings whatsoever.  I think it's a pet peeve of mine.  I know we're all busy, but really?

Correspondence is SO important.  A long time ago I posted about correspondence.  Setting aside some time every month to reach out to others with a letter or a card.  How many of you enjoy going to the mailbox and seeing a personal card or letter?  I know I do - I love it!!!!  What this means is that someone was thinking about you.  They took the time to go to the store and pick up a card (or they took the time to actually make one), then they took the time to sit down and write a few lines.  How does that make you feel?  It makes me feel loved and cared about.  THAT'S why it's SO important.  The "do unto others as you would like others to do unto you" is true!  My assignment for you for the new year ahead is to write down all the people you care about in your life, write their name on the calendar (one a month) and send a greeting to them just telling them that you were thinking about them and give them something newsy.  Something that they can actually sit down and read and enjoy.  Give them the gift of going to the mail and finding a surprise.  It's the unexpected surprises in this life that give it spice.  It makes all of us feel like we're worthy of the time and attention it takes.  And, then, of course send cards (always) if you know of someone who is going through a difficult time - job loss, loss of a loved one, stress, health concerns, etc. - a timely note is sometimes exactly what they need.  Life can get very lonely.  Don't ever assume that if someone is married, or if someone has lots of friends, or if someone is always busy and doesn't seem lonely, that they aren't.  Your card or letter could make all the difference in the world.  There.  You have your assignment - make someone's day!!!!!  : )

Again, I've been thinking health and with planning meals I'm trying to buy healthy and cook healthy - it's a lot of work mentally.  I feel like you have to be a nutritionist in order to do it correctly.  But I think that just incorporating a few changes can make a lot of difference - limit sugar, buy more organic (if you eat the whole thing, organic is good - apples, pears, etc.).  My stomach is already feeling better by limiting dairy (I admit that I can't fully eliminate dairy because I love dairy - kefir, yogurt, etc.).   Your health tip for the day is that if you are a coffee drinker, you HAVE to drink more water every day.  Coffee is very dehydrating and if you look on-line at dehydration, you will find all the health problems that are associated with it.  I have limited my coffee intake to only one cup in the morning and that helps a lot, but I'm also finding myself to be drinking a lot more water than ever and it really does help.  

I made some organic chicken bone broth this past week.  It turned out great - that deep yellow gelatinous broth.  I've made a lot of things for the freezer - lots of pasta sauce, lots of soups, lots of broth and it's a good feeling to know those things are in their when needed.

Last week I finished the book "Middlemarch" (I highly recommend it) and am now on to a new book ("My Friend Flicka").

The original 1941 book I found at the thrift store - and don't you just love this.....

I love it when people signed the book as a gift.  Knowing that Sadie sat and read this book back in 1944 is amazing to me and I wonder if she's still around.

The only thing about this book is (and I hope you can help me with this) that I'm surprised with some of the language in this book.  Isn't this a children's book?  The father in here swears quite a bit and some of the topics they address are questionable if this was supposed to be a children's book.  So, I'm a bit confused.  Another assignment for you - begin, if you aren't already, to pick up a book a read (every day!) - and, in my opinion, the old books are the best!  : )

I think that's about it for today!  I hope you will take this day and use it to the fullest so that when you go to bed tonight you can look back and feel good about what you got done.  This day won't ever come around again - when it's gone, it's gone.  Tackle those projects that you've been putting off, begin by writing a letter to someone, cook a healthy meal, take care of yourself - whatever the need is, put your whole heart into it and you won't regret it.  : )

Thank you SO much for dropping by for a visit - I appreciate all of you.  God bless.  : )

Saturday, January 4, 2020

First Saturday of January

We're keeping this tree up in our backyard at least through January because it brings such beautiful light in the darkness.

Hello!  I hope you have enjoyed this first week of the new year.  Today is the day (for us) to take Christmas down in our home.  My husband took everything down on the outside already (except for the above tree).  Our snowmen (the ones that don't look like Christmas) will stay up through January as well.  

I'm looking forward to going through all the boxes again - what was left in the boxes this year will pretty much go to the thrift store.  And that means that our Christmas things will, once again, be pared down.  We agreed that the way we decorated this year (which was pretty minimal) was the way we liked it so I think that will be our new normal.  : )

The time consuming part of taking things down is the cleaning that goes along with it.  For over a month, there are areas that haven't been dusted so I can only imagine what certain areas will look like.  But that's okay - there is time and it will all get done like it does every year.

There is one thing that happens to me after the first of the year that motivates change - health.  And this year is no different.  With all the food we consume throughout the holidays (beginning with Thanksgiving) I ALWAYS feel this need to step up and change the way we eat.  I have been watching videos on-line for ideas, I have been re-reading my health books and the notes I've taken in the past, and I've been re-writing menus to incorporate healthy ways to eat.  This is fun to me but it's also very challenging because, of course, I'm not a nutritionist so to get that balance of foods into each and every day doesn't come easy.  And we all know that to eat relatively healthy isn't cheap so that's another balancing act.  But I'm determined to do this.  I'm tired of not feeling well and I'm a total believer in the idea that food IS medicine and what we eat does help us to feel better.  

So, I'm up for the challenge!  : )  One thing that I did yesterday was to look in our pantries and take out food that I would like out of the house or things that I know we won't need and filled a bag for the food shelf.  What was left was food that I knew I could prepare decent meals with and then took an inventory and wrote down what I needed to fill in with.  I organized the refrigerator and put healthy choices in bins - things such as nuts and seeds that we need to eat, and in another bin are the grains that we should have.  I'm making sure that I have salad fixings around.  Today I will make a chicken bone broth that I will can for the freezer and I bought beef bones the other day so that next week I can make beef bone broth as well.

And then eating less is, of course, always the best thing to do. It's SO hard for me to not go back for seconds!!!  Having said all of this, I know us.  I know our family.  Eating healthy is a priority, but I have to make concessions in having treats now and then.  I think it's totally okay to have a piece of cake or pie now and then.  We love our no-churn ice cream flavors (even though I'm cutting back on dairy) so we will have those once in a while.  A cinnamon roll for a special breakfast is a treat.  A fresh baked cookie satisfies the sweet tooth.  The "everything in moderation" is true if you can trust yourself to do it.  Small batch baking is best so that you don't constantly have it around as a temptation.  Also, keeping the "treats" for special occasions where you will know that you'll have other people around to help you eat it and then it will be gone is another good idea.  The problem comes when we constantly have these "unhealthy" foods around all the time.

The other area that I will be working on is the craft area.  I definitely need to go through and really re-think (once again) all the things that I enjoy doing and then the things that I think I enjoy doing and then the things that I know I don't enjoy doing.  Narrowing it all down and going through it all.  Purging and sifting those items that I don't enjoy anymore and giving them away.  At this point the things I do enjoy is crocheting (just very basic), embroidering, and card-making, and sewing.  So those will stay put (just re-organizing), but everything else will have to go in order to simplify.  It's not a good sign when you look for something crafty to do and you just stare at everything, get overwhelmed, and then walk out not doing anything at all!!!!  That kind of defeats the purpose of having a craft area!

And I know I've mentioned this before - I'm a big believer in having hobbies.  It gets us off the couch, it gets our brain going in another direction (and for those of us who are aging, that's a good thing!), it helps us to problem-solve and create something beautiful and useful.  Hobbies are VERY important!  So, I know it's one area that I won't and can't give up - I just need to get more organized so that it works for me.  : ) the house after Christmas, working on a healthier lifestyle, and better organization of my hobby area are the three things that will keep me busy for a while!  What are you working on now that we're in a new year?  What areas in your home need some special time and attention?  I wish you all the best in getting motivated!  I always say this but it is true - doing something is ALWAYS better than doing nothing.  I encourage you today to do something.  God bless.