Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Daybook - November 25th

I've seen these daybooks on other blogs, and I've thought about starting to add it to mine, but never have. Also, it is supposed to be done on Mondays, and today is not Monday. So I'm not going to commit yet to doing this every Monday yet, but I'm going to give a try today . . . and on a Tuesday.
Outside My Window ...
It is sunny, windy, and cold. I really need to clean out the gardens and the annuals from the front. There are a few toys and pieces of outdoor furniture that needed to be gathered up and put in the garage.
Towards rhythm and beauty ...
I am grateful for the rhythm of the seasons. I've really tried to embrace each month and appreciate the earth and how everything in it is growing and changing every day. I'm looking towards Thanksgiving to appreciate all that I have in my life and all of the wonderful things, and people, around me.
I am thankful for ...
the lesson that I've learned this year that people do care about me. I was never sitting around and wondering if they did, or trying to figure out how many friends I had, or anything like that but it has been illustrated to me over and over again this year that my family and I are in people's thoughts and hearts, and people show it to us through their actions.
From the learning rooms ...
For the preschoolers, it is letter sounds, counting pumpkins, and creating things out of materials on the art shelf. For Flower, she is on her 2nd month of studying the Ancient Greeks, and wants to do more. She started building a replica of the Trojan Horse yesterday. And lots of painting, drawing, cooking, and reading. And math, because I ask her to.
From the kitchen ...
I am happy that the pantry is mostly stocked, and that we should be back to our full three month supply by Friday. I am grateful that my children love to eat soup in the fall as much as I do.
I am wearing ...
a periwinkle hoodie, t-shirt, yoga pants and slippers. I usually dress a little nicer, but I've been feeling under the weather for a few days, and I wanted to be warm and comfortable.
I am creating ...
lots of Christmas presents! We are making or buying homemade gifts this year for Christmas. It has been so fun to see the children's creativity!
I am going ...
to Jelly Bean's school in a little while.
I am reading...
a little from all the books listed on my November bookstand over there. I read primarily non-fiction, because I enjoy it more, but also because I can read from lots of different books at one time, and because I can read in little snippets. When I read fiction, I have to stick with one book at a time, and I have to read it all in one sitting. Fiction just doesn't in my lifestyle right now.
I am hoping...
that I will find more peace in my life.
I am hearing ...
the quiet. The baby that I watch is off with his parents for the holidays, Flower is at choir, Jelly Bean is at school, and Super and our other little friends that I watch are sleeping. This is a RARE moment of quiet.
Around the house ...
I am trying to get the house straightened up. I've been under the weather for a few days now, and I've been doing essential tasks only. But this afternoon, I did manage to get Super's room and the playroom tidied up today, and the laundry into one area.
One of my favorite things ...
is teaching. I used to be a trainer, I teach at church, I teach the preschoolers and Super and Flower, and I try and teach all my children every day to be a good person and live a good life. Teaching brings me joy.
A few plans for the rest of the week ...
Getting ready to go out of town on Thursday, working on lesson plans for December, working on gifts, trying to get back to feeling better, and making a dr. appointment for myself.
Here is picture thought I am sharing ...

Super chasing bubbles

Monday, November 24, 2008

I Heart Goodwill

I would love to have my family wear 100% natural, homemade clothes, but it is just NOT going to happen around here anytime soon. We are on a very strict budget and it does not allow for purchasing even enough 100% natural fabric to make our clothes, not to mention, that I do not have the time to do it. So the next best option for me is to make sure that we are reusing clothes, and so I buy 90% of our clothes at Goodwill. I honestly don't shop often for myself - I have mostly have enough in my existing wardrobe, but when I have a need, I will always look there first.

Oh, and I should say before I go too much further, that I really try and limit the amount of clothing that we have. It makes it so there are less clothes that I need to buy, and less clothes that I need to wash, and less clothes that I need to store. I usually go with the 7 rule - 7 shirts, 7 pants, 7 sweaters, 7 underwear, 7 socks The girls tend to have a mix of 7 skirts and dresses. For shoes, I do 1 pair of gym shoes, one pair of dress shoes (one for spring/summer and another for fall/winter), and Super usually has two pairs of dress shoes (one black and one brown), and one pair of boots. The season before, I look to see what each child has and what they need, and put it on a list and carry it in my purse so that if I'm out, I can look for what we need so I don't end up with lots of bottoms and no tops or whatever.

Back to Goodwill - I usually hit Goodwill once a month, generally the first weekend, but not always. I do spend at least an hour there. I will look through the housewares and add to our cloth napkin supply, look to see if they have any bedding that we need (I want to get flannel sheets for everyone. So far, I've got one set.), then I look through all the trays, baskets, wooden items, vases, etc. for preschool. I find the BEST stuff for preschool here. Then I look at clothes for the kids, shoes for anyone, clothes for me, and then the children's books. I've really filled out the Montgomery Academy Library this way too. I've found some classic, out of print, hardcover books here. I almost felt bad as I paid them under 50 cents for it since I knew that it was worth much, much more.

We have other thrift stores here in town and I probably should check them out too, although I think that for right now, it does suit our needs to just do thrifting once a month. I think that if I shopped more often than that I would end up buying things that I didn't need.

I also try to do my part to donate to Goodwill too, or at the very least to give our clothes and other things to others that can use them. I'm hoping that if I keep giving, that I'll keep finding great stuff. So far, my theory is holding true!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thanksgiving Farmer's Market

I go to our local Farmer's Market, held outside in the town square, almost every Saturday from May until October. I've been missing going out and looking at the vegetables, touching them, trying to decide what I want to eat this week, looking at the flowers and spices, talking with the farmers. Well, I saw in the paper that they were having a Thanksgiving Farmer's Market today from 10 am - 2 pm held inside the sports coliseum, so of course, we went. We had a great time - we saw many of the "regulars" and a few new people. We tried samples of local cheese, roasted brussels sprouts and chestnuts (YUM!), chicken noodle and minestrone soup, and pumpkin almond bars.

They were selling turkey, beef, chicken, eggs, spinach, apples, sweet potatoes, potatoes, salsas, ornamental and squirrel corn, garlic, turnips, honey, and cheese and there were several craft/art tables too. I came home with ornamental corn (I mentioned that I was a preschool teacher, and I use the corn as a tweezing activity. I wasn't looking for him to give it to me for free, I was just having a conversation, but then he said to just take as much as I wanted for no charge! I took two and thanked him!) honey, garlic, eggs, and sweet potatoes. I was tempted to get some cheese curds, peach salsa, and a pair of earrings, but I resisted the urge.

So while still basking in my naturalness, I decided to go to the mall. LOL. Those people that know me know that I'm not a big fan of going to the mall, but I wasn't in the mood to go home yet, and it was close and it had been a LONG time since I'd been to the local mall. I ended up getting some great deals - a plum pullover sweater at JCPenney for $3.43 (with tax) and 4 shirts and a pair of socks at Old Navy for $5.82. When I can get those kind of prices at the mall for new clothes, then I don't feel quite as guilty for spending the money and shopping isn't quite the torture that it usually is for me.

I must admit that I went shopping a few weeks ago and it WAS pretty tortuous until right near the end when I ended up in Gap Kids (which I haven't been in in probably 5 years) and I was looking at the clearance rack, and they also had an additional 30% off that day. I ended up buying 9 pieces for $60.03. It is all for the Simple Kids for Christmas presents. I felt pretty good about that deal too.

So in case you are worried that I live a completely natural, simple, organized life all the time, I don't all the time. I'd like to do a better job with it, and I write about it here to motivate myself, and to write down the things that we are doing in case it can be helpful to anyone else. But I have days when I'm stressed out, days when I'm completely disorganized, days when the house is a mess, and days when I don't feel like cooking, and days when I am crabby. Hey, I even went to McDonald's today!

Friday, November 21, 2008

OK, if I want things to run well around the house

I simply need to get my children to help around the house every day. My children are 9, almost 7, and 4. They are all old enough to help around the house, even Super, although he needs closer supervision usually and sometimes a little assistance, and LOTS of positive encouragement.

Here are our DAILIES:

  • Make Beds
  • Tidy bedroom


  • Wipe bathroom sinks/counters/toilet
  • Wipe Kitchen sink/counters
  • Plan/Cook Dinner
  • Tidy learning room
  • Vacuum a main room (either the Family Room or Living Room)


  • Vacuum a main room (whatever room Mom isn't doing)
  • Tidy a main room (alternate between Family Room/Living Room)
  • Kitchen Job (either set/clear the table, unload the dishwater, or sweep the floor)

Jelly Bean

  • Dust a main room
  • Tidy a main room (whichever one Flower isn't doing)
  • Kitchen Job


  • Tidy shoes
  • Sweep the entry way or Clean windows
  • Kitchen Job

We tend to stay with the same daily jobs for awhile, but I know that many families change it weekly or monthly. We tend to change every other month or when it seems time.

Menus - An Important Part of Stockpiling

I think creating a monthly rotating menu is key to storing food. Most of the food that I stockpile is not ready to eat, so I need to be able to have a variety of things that I can make, and I don't do well to just make it up on the fly. It also helps me so I rotate through the food that I have. I have a montly menu (link to it in the documents section) of just general items.

Then, weekly, I get more specific (like if I list Chicken for lunch, I decide the week before what I'll make with chicken, like Chicken Noodle soup or whatever.) I look at recipes (I generally use Betty Crocker and Pantry Cooking and a few of recipe handouts that I've collected over the years. I look through the pantry, cupboards, freezer, etc. to make sure that I have all the ingredients for the recipes (at times, I will need to buy a vegetable or spice that we don't generally have on hand, although I've been known to substitute instead of buy something else.)

I try to cook things the night before, or get it thrown in the crockpot, or at the very least, set out the meat to defrost. Some days I do better at this than others, but I'm always grateful when I do. This month, I haven't been so good at doing this, and my family has had spaghetti or eggs or pancakes more often this month, and we have also eaten out once, which we REALLY try to avoid. Things just go smoother all around when I cook ahead of time. Sometimes it is just hard for me to remember that the night before when I want to relax, but I'm always kicking myself the next day at 4 pm when I've got kids coming and going, and we are trying to get ready to go to one of evening activities.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Updated the Simple Blog list

Just a quick post to let you know that I added some new blog links to the Simple Blog list. Check them out!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

3 months worth of food or stockpiling - updated with pics

A couple of years ago, I started getting interested in living a more self-reliant, provident life. Up until that time, I had never had any extra food or other supplies around our home. I never thought that we had the money, or more importantly, the space to store extra items. I have a small, compared to most American homes, kitchen, with a small pantry. I used the pantry to store dog food, larger pots, light bulbs, etc. Things that needed a home, and I decided that the small pantry was a good place to store them. But I decided that if I was going to live a more self-reliant life, that I probably needed to be able to live for longer than a couple of days off the food that was in my house.

A view of my kitchen from the back door.
Pantry door is behind the back door.

View of the pantry door - to the left of the dishwasher.

So I cleared out the pantry and found a new home for all of the things. Next I cleaned out a linen closet that I wasn't really using. And I started storing food, or as people tend to refer to it these days, I started stockpiling. My first goal was a week's worth of food, and then a month, and finally 3 months. I've seen people a lot of people who build their stockpile with coupons and spending very little money. I didn't do that. I'm not saying it is a bad way to build your stockpile - I just knew that it wouldn't work for us. Part of the idea to moving to a more self-reliant, provident life also meant eating more natural, simpler food, and many of the coupon items were for ready-made boxed food, food we didn't eat, or for name brands that I could get cheaper when buying the store brand.

So what I did was make a list of the vegetables that we eat on a regular basis (corn, peas, beans, and carrots), the fruits we eat on a regular basis (applesauce, pineapples, tomatoes - diced and sauce, and peaches), meat/protein that I could buy canned (chicken, tuna, beans), pasta (we like elbow, egg noodles, spaghetti, and penne), cereal (we eat oatmeal) and other things that I would need to build meals (brown rice, chicken and beef broth) condiments & sweeteners & sandwich stuff (ketchup, maple syrup, honey, peanut butter, jam) baking supplies (flour - wheat and white, cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa, chocolate chips, yeast, vinegar, molasses) spices (minced onions, basil, oregano, garlic powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and Worcestershire sauce.) and paper items (toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags.) For vegetables and fruits, I buy about 2/3 canned and 1/3 frozen.

Then I went to Aldi's to price out the items, and to Kroger to price anything that I couldn't find at Aldi's. I tend to buy almost everything for our stockpile at Aldi's, and then do my weekly shopping at Kroger and just a few items that I couldn't find at Aldi's. Weekly, I buy milk, eggs, and yogurt, some of my produce (I limit it to two types of vegetables and two types of fruit), and some meat if it is on sale, and generally chicken and ground turkey. I buy my organic produce at a natural food store.

Then I made a list of each item and how many I needed to have a three month supply (or a week supply of dairy and produce) and then a bunch of sheets that had the same items listed but a blank quantity. Then I can just look at the shelves and decide how many of each item I need to re-stock and write it in the blank spot. Then I take the sheet with me shopping so that I know how much to buy (I can also then, if I really want, figure out exactly how much I'll be spending on food this month. I did do this the first couple of months, but now I can pretty much tell how much it is going to be.)

I use the pantry upstairs to hold a couple weeks of canned food and the linen closet for the rest. I store the paper products in the garage, and the frozen vegetables/frozen fruit and baking supplies in the freezer. I also keep a month worth of meat in the freezer (8 pounds of ground meat, 8 pounds of chicken breasts, 8 whole chickens, 8 turkey breasts.)

The pantry closet - almost all of the contents are pictured here

This is the linen closet - about 2/3 of the contents are shown here.
There are two shelves not shown in this picture. This closet is narrower but the shelves are closer together and more shelves available, so I can get more in it than in the pantry.

I have another large closet (10 feet deep x 8 feet tall x 5 feet wide) in the basement that is currently holding our seasonal decorations and out of season clothes. In the next year, I plan on finding new homes for those items and putting shelves up allow one wall, and storing wheat, pasta, honey, and water. I'd also like to store the dehydrator, canning supplies and a hand grinder down there, as well as anything that I end up canning.

Of course, as always, this is just what is working for us, and you may come up with a totally different system that works better for you.

But if you think can't do it, really, you can. I had thought about it for years and always had reasons why I couldn't do it. And then one day, I decided to try. I started small, and then gradually built it up. I also concentrated on just the essential items for our family. My family wouldn't enjoy eating tuna fish every day for three months, but we would eat it once a week. I didn't get an endless variety of things either, just our favorites.

And although I do try and keep it stocked, there are times that it isn't kept completely stocked because we need grocery $$ to fix the car or get someone new shoes or whatever. (Right now, I only have a two week supply of corn and carrots. I had let the supply run down a little bit and it cost a little more than usual to replinish it, and I only had a certain amount that I could spend to build it back up. However, I should be able to get them restocked too next week.) It helps us to be able to accommodate those little bumps that appear out of nowhere in the budget, and I don't have to worry about not having enough money to feed everyone that month. It also helps me to be able to realistically budget our food money since I know how much each can/bag, etc. costs and how many I need to fill in.

Tomorrow, I'll add pictures of my pantry and my "food closet" (which is what the kids call it LOL). And in a day or two, I'll try to add a copy of my food lists. And in another post soon, I'll talk about my monthly menus. This is an intregal part, for me, to having a three month supply. It doesn't do me any good to have all this food around if I don't have a logical plan of how and when I'm going to use it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

More November Lists - In Season Foods and Provident Living

Sorry - I meant to do this last week, and it just totally slipped my mind and now all of a sudden, almost half the month is over.

My goal is to only buy fresh produce that is in season. Some months (like December through March) that gets trickier than others. Also, my kids like to eat bananas and they don't grow well here in Midwest, U.S.A, so there are certain exceptions. But like I said, it is the goal. Next year, I also hope to do more canning so we can eat local fruit and vegetables that were picked when they were in season. particularly during the winter monts. I meant to do canning this year, but didn't have the time or the $$. Another goal to put on my list . . . (Boy that list is getting long! LOL).

I also buy organic foods, but only if they have had high pesticide load. I will put an (O) to the right of a particular food if I buy it organically.

Also, keep in mind that this in-season list is only valid for Midwest U.S.A and your in-season foods may be different. I found this list through the local county extension office's website, so you may want to check with your local county extension to find out the in-season foods in your area.

November In-Season Foods
  • Apples (O)
  • Bell Peppers (O) (I don't actually buy these. My family does not like peppers, and I do NOT buy food if my family does like it. We have enough food that we do enjoy that I don't waste my money buying food just because it is in season.)
  • Garlic
  • Greens
  • Horseradish
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Potatoes (O)
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Pumpkins
  • Spinach (O)
  • Squash
Provident Living - November
  • Literacy: Volunteer to read at a local school
  • Education: Continue Reading plan
  • Career Development: Conduct mock interviews
  • Resource Management: Create a digital (document and photo) inventory
  • Health and Physical Fitness: Learn about disease prevention
  • Social and Emotional Health: Learn about communication
  • Food Storage: Week 1 - salt, Week 2 - vitamins, Week 3 - chocolate chips, cocoa, vanilla, Week 4 - oatmeal

Thursday, November 13, 2008

So is anyone joining me on the Caps to Cap-Haitien project?

Remember that December 10th is the deadline for the caps. And with Thanksgiving coming up, the time will go fast.

Our goal is still 25 caps. They are VERY quick to make up, and you can use repurpose t-shirts or use t-shirt jersey that you may have on hand.

Also, if you don't want to make hats, they are also accepting receiving blankets now too. Go to the Mama-To-Mama website to get the specifics about the blankets.

Martinmas and Veterans Day

From Wikipedia:

"St. Martin's Day (or Martinstag or Martinmas) is November 11, the feast day of Martin of Tours, who started out as a Roman soldier. He was baptized as an adult and became a monk. It is understood that he was a kind man who led a quiet and simple life. The most famous legend of his life is that he once cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snowstorm, to save the beggar from dying of the cold.
That night he dreamed that Jesus was wearing the half-cloak Martin had given away. Martin heard Jesus say to the angels: "Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptised; he has clothed me."
Click here to read more about how different countries and faiths celebrate Martinmas.

We celebrated Martinmas by reading Boxes for Katje - I really want to add this book to our own collection - and giving clothes away to some friends and to Goodwill. We also made some homemade lanterns. I had planned on having us glue tissue paper inside of the jars, but well, that didn't quite happen. But we did put some homemade beeswax candles in the jars and lit them.

For Veterans Day, we talked about the connection to wars and soldies in the Boxes for Katje book, and we talked about different wars and how soldiers help us have freedom. We spent quite a bit of time talking about the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.

Next year, we are going to have goose for dinner too. We have Scandanavian ancestors and I thought it would be a nice connection to our heritage to add that to our Martinmas celebration. Of course, I've never cooked goose before. I'm hoping it isn't much more difficult than a turkey.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Our daily routines

In my housekeeping binder, I keep a list of our daily routine for each day of week. In my binder, the document is about 10 pages long, but I'm going to try and keep it short and sweet here. I got many of my ideas from Large Family Logistics and then changed things to suit our family.

Daily - Morning Routine (Me)
  • Read Scriptures
  • Pray
  • Shower
  • Change Clothes
  • Check Calendar
  • Check Daily List
  • Prepare Breakfast
  • Clean Bathrooms

Daily - Afternoon Routine (Family)

  • Do Daily Chores
Daily - Evening Routine (Me)

  • Prepare the kitchen for breakfast
  • Check Calendar
  • Lay out clothes for tomorrow
  • Read Scriptures
  • Pray
Monday - Laundry Day

Sort, wash and dry with the following categories:
  • Whites
  • Grays/Lights
  • Red/Pinks, etc.
  • Blue/Black/Darks
  • Light Towels
  • Dark Towels
Tuesday - Kitchen Days

Do the following chores every Tuesday in the kitchen:
  • Wipe appliances
  • Clean stove hood
  • Clean top of stove
  • Organize and clean one drawer
  • Organize and clean one cupboard
  • Organize and clean one pantry shelf
  • Remove counter clutter and wipe counter
  • Clean out refrigerator
  • Clean top of refrigerator
  • Scrub kitchen sink and faucet crevices
  • Scrub dish drainer
Wednesday - Office Day

  • Balance Checkbook
  • Pay Bills
  • File Papers
  • Plan Menus
  • Plan stops for Town Day
  • Plan Lessons
  • Do any Internet Work
  • Write a letter to a friend
  • Clean desktop
  • Clean one desk drawer or cupboard
  • Put books in order
  • Gather library books
Thursday-Cleaning Day

Instead of making beds, strip them and take the sheets straight to the washer. Do any nappers’ bedding first and remake the beds as soon as the bedding is done.

Do regular Daily chores and dust and vacuum each room. Remake sheets with clean sheets. Reward with a break and a treat and then do deep cleaning.

Deep Cleaning
Focus on one Focus Area at a time. Write them on your calendar.
Do all the tasks in an hour.

Week 1
Dining Room & Kitchen – Clean all surfaces.

Week 2
Bathrooms – Clean corners, cracks, and crevices. Entry Areas – Wipe down the walls and clean in the corners, etc. Straighten bookcases.

Week 3
Bedrooms – Straighten closets and drawers.

Week 4
Living Room and Family Room – Clean inside couches, under tables, behind furniture, etc.

Friday - Town Day

The night before
Lay out clothes and shoes for everyone.

The morning of
Load the crock-pot so you do not have to worry about supper. Everyone has to use the toilet before leaving. Plan the most necessary stops first so if the little children begin to meltdown, you can cut your losses and head home.

Try to eat at home or pack sandwiches and stop for a picnic somewhere.

When you get home
Put any little ones down for a nap first. Have the older children unload the bags while you put them down for nap. Then everyone else goes to Quiet Time.

Put freezer and refrigerator items away. Put everything else away. Get your salad veggies washed. Cut up the dry stuff and toss. Cut tomatoes, mushrooms, cucumber and other moist items at each meal. Rest.

The Next Day
Balance the checkbook again.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Yes, I'm so lucky

Super: Mommy, I love you.
Me: Are you sure?
Super: Yes, I love for 5 years.
Me: Just 5 years? How about a million years?
Super: Yes, I love you for a million years.
Me: Thank you! I love you for a million years too.
Super: Mommy, you are lucky.
Me: Yes, I am. (Tears welling up.)
Super: And Mommy, I'm lucky too.
Me: (Gives him a hug to try and hide the tears)

I haven't always felt lucky in life, and I certainly haven't felt very lucky this year. But Super is right. I'm so lucky to have him - and all of my family and friends. Love to you all for a million years.

Monday, November 10, 2008

More about my binder system - Household Managment Binders

I posted about my binder system in this post. In this post, I will go into more detail about my Household Management System binders. I, of course, have to credit Dawn for getting me started on this idea. I use a file crate system in a similar way to her system, but my household management system is somewhat different. As always, it is important to tweak anybody's system to fit your family's needs.

I'll try and get some pictures up soon, but until then, here is my household management binder system.

Suggested Binders for a Household Management System

In addition to my Household Management Binders, I also have a file crate. The crate contains 52 weekly folders, and 4 seasonal folders and some of the household binders. I use one file folder upstairs to store the activities and invitations for the following week, and I also put things in it that need to be filed downstairs. Then on my planning day (Wednesday), I transfer the things for the next week and I file the things from the past week. I store my Household Management binders in a variety of places and I listed here where I store them.. In my binders, I have lots of page protectors and I place the information in them usually instead of printing and three-hold punching the things for each binder.

Planning Binder (stored in tote bag)
To start your Household Notebook, begin with the basics: planning and time management. I put in my monthly calendars, any additional schedules, seasonal activity lists, my file folder, journal, etc.

Faith Binder (stored in church bag)
This binder contains church magazines, proclamations, brochures, handouts, talks, etc.

Phone Binder (stored in phone book drawer)
The Phone Binder is a place to put class rosters, take-out phone numbers, club directories, emergency phone numbers, etc.

Family & School Binder (stored in file crate)
Family is where the heart is--and deserves its own binder. This binder tracks information needs of family members and family life:

  • personal information page for each family member
  • clothing sizes tracker
  • master occasions list (birthdays, anniversaries)
  • gift suggestion list
  • birthday party ideas
  • recommended Web sites
  • list of DVD/videos to rent
  • list of books to read
  • library information

Families with school-aged children will want to add a school divider to hold:

  • school schedules and holiday list
  • lunch menus
  • carpool schedule
  • school information page
  • school reading lists
  • summer programs information

Housekeeping Binder (Stored in file crate except for chore checklists)
The Housekeeping holds information central to house and home. Cleaning, entertaining, decorating and household storage information are stored here. Consider these ideas for the Home Management divider:

  • household cleaning schedule
  • seasonal chore checklists
  • children's chore checklists
  • home inventory
  • home decorating ideas
  • party planners
  • car maintenance schedule
  • stain removal guide
  • recycling locations
  • home storage inventory
  • yard sale checklist

Food Management Binder (Kept in the kitchen)
In the kitchen, this binder helps plan meals, create menus, and track inventory in pantry and freezer. Use this section to hold grocery shopping lists and price lists, weekly menus, etc.

Money and Finance Binder (Kept in file crate with the exception of the bills/purchases list)
Use this binder for information to help keep track of household finances with budget pages, inventory sheets and household information. Here are some examples of the kinds of information that can be included behind this binder:

  • budget/spending record
  • bills to pay
  • credit card list
  • online service/online account information
  • home inventory
  • insurance information
  • utilities/services directory
  • warranty information
  • vehicle records

Health and Fitness Binder (Kept in file crate with the exception of food journal)
Organize family health care with a Health and Fitness divider. Have a medical emergency? Grab the Health and Fitness Binder on the way to the Emergency Room. Visit to the pediatrician? Use this section to record illnesses, medication and medical history. Types of information to file in the Health and Fitness binder include:

  • food journal
  • first aid kit checklist
  • medical information sheet for each family member
  • emergency directory
  • medical authorization form
  • prescription drug record
  • insurance information
  • pet health records

Travel and Activities Binder (Kept in file crate)
Time for fun! The Travel and Activities binder covers the extra-curricular activities that make life worthwhile. Hobby, church, club, sports, volunteer, vacation and travel ideas are included here. These sections will vary from family to family, but here are some ideas:

  • picnic planner
  • travel packing checklist
  • before-we-leave checklist
  • camping checklist
  • vacation idea list
  • house-sitter information sheet
  • PTA newsletters and rosters
  • Scouting or PTA materials

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

November Themes

November isn't my favorite month (that has to be October I think) but I'm starting to enjoy it more. The weather is getting cool, but not as cold as winter yet, and there is so much good food to be eaten in November. I always have a big Thanksgiving feast for preschool, and I look forward to it all year. We even sometimes get "alumni" that come and it is wonderful to see children from years past. We have a pear tree out in front and we still have many leaves left on the tree, but they are finally turning colors. I'm sure that all the leaves will be off by the end of the month, or even more likely, by the end of next week. Anyway, here are the themes and activities that I have planned for the month.


From the Latin word, novum, meaning “nine”. November was the 9th month of the Roman calendar.
Flower: Chrysanthemum
Birthstone: Topaz
Zodiac Sign: Sagittarius (November 22-December 21); Sagittarians are good-natured and friendly. They are interested in everything and everybody.
Weather Report: On November 20, 1979, a blizzard struck Cheyenne, WY, producing 19.8 inches of snow in 24 hours.

Iroquois Prayer
We return thanks to our mother, the earth
Which sustains us.
We return thanks to the rivers and streams,
Which supply us with water.
We return thanks to all herbs,
which furnish medicines for the cure of our diseases.
We return thanks to the bushes and trees,
Which provide us with fruit.
We return thanks to the wind,
Which, moving the air, has banished diseases.
We return thanks to the moon and stars,
Which have given to us their light
When the sun was gone.
We return thanks to our grandfather He-no,
That he has protected his grandchildren from
Witches and reptiles, and has given to us his rain.
We return thanks to the sun,
that he has looked upon the earth with a beneficent eye.
Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit,
In whom is embodied all goodness, and who
Directs all things for the good of his children.


  • grey skies
  • frosty, brown grass
  • bare trees
  • rabbits
  • geese
  • crows
  • cut cornfields
  • squirrels
  • mice
  • wind
  • dark afternoons
  • turkeys
  • the Full Beaver Moon (13)


  • apples
  • winter squash
  • pears
  • oatmeal
  • hot cider
  • hot chocolate
  • pies - apple, cherry, pumpkin, berry
  • turkey and all the trimmings
  • homemade cranberry relish

Special Days:

  • National American Indian Heritage Month
  • Daylight Savings Day Ends (2)
  • Election Day (4)
  • Martinmas (11)
  • Veterans Day (11)
  • National Homemade Bread Day (17)
  • World Hello Day (21)
  • National Game and Puzzle Week (23)
  • Thanksgiving Day (27)


  • verify that the pantry and 3 month supply of food/supplies are stocked
  • verify that there is an adequate (perhaps 3 month! LOL) of Swiss Miss Milk Chocolate with Mini-Marshmellows Hot Chocolate
  • prepare the car for winter and holiday travel
  • inspect/replace holiday decorations
  • finish Christmas gifts
  • clean carpets
  • write/assemble Christmas cards
  • clean dining room and clean crystal, silver and table linens
  • stock medicine cabinet with cold and flu medications


  • In November by Cynthia Rylant
  • Apple cider making days by Ann Purmell
  • My goose Betsy by Trudi Braun
  • Squawk to the moon, little goose by Edna Mitchell Preston
  • The way home by Nan Parson Rossiter
  • Catching the wind by Joanne Ryder
  • Black crow, black crow by Ginger Guy
  • Mousekin's Thanksgiving by Edna Miller
  • The Turkey Girl : a Zuni Cinderella story by Penny Polluck

Field Trips:

  • nature center
  • polling center


  • sewing
  • crocheting
  • paper weaving
  • lanterns for Martinmas
  • pinecone people
  • clearing out the garden and planting fall/winter plants
  • a grateful tree

So I know how to sew and crochet and such

but I've never big on making actual "crafts". I wasn't very good at things involving glue guns and acrylic paint and it would drive me nuts when I had to look at things and see all my mistakes. Plus, I've always been a minimalist, even before I started down this simple living path, and so I didn't like having lots of little "crafty", useless things around the house.

I've always looked at sewing/weaving/crocheting, etc. as more of a skill and something that I can do that can bless my family and help us be more self-sufficient. I also have never been one to do a lot of "crafts" with my children. I am a big fan of clay and paper and scissors and ribbons and yarn, but not necessarily having a project that they had to put together in a certain way. I've taught my girls to fingerknit and Flower knows how to handsew and machine sew. I looked at these "crafts" as a way to spend time together as a family, a way for them to learn practical skills, and a way to them to do things in an organic, natural way.

But I've been reading the SouleMama blog for over a year now, and have considered putting her book in my Amazon cart on more than one occassion because her definition of crafts seemed to be more in line with my idea of crafts. Well, Amanda has just launched a new blog called Mama to Mama.

Here's a quote from her introduction on Mama to Mama:

There are so very many reasons why we craft. We craft out of necessity, we craft out of love, we craft for pleasure. And we craft, sometimes, to bring a little peace to our lives, to our hearts, and to our everyday moments. Taking that just a step further, we can - and do, like so many crafters before us - turn our crafting into peace for the world beyond our homes. The simple act of creating something with intention and heart - for someone in need, can have a beautiful effect on the lives of others. We can, indeed, do something to create a more just and peaceful world...all with the simple, mindful and crafty work of our hands.

The first project is the Caps to Cap-Haitien Project: A Partnership with Konbit Sante, that will provide newborn jersey caps to be distributed in Safe Birthing Kits in northern Haiti. The project is to make hats out of t-shirts or cotton jersey material. She provides the hat pattern on the website.

What a wonderful way to repurpose all the unworn t-shirts we have around here, and the pattern is simple enough for Flower and probably even Jelly Bean to do. And Super can tie the knot on top.

Our goal is to make 25 hats - including one out of the material that I was going to make a sleeping gown for Christopher. It seems right to use it for a hat for another little one.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween - Simple Style

I'm actually not a big fan of Halloween. I don't like the ghoulishness and goriness and the excessive amounts of candy that my children get, but we do still celebrate it here. I leave the fall decorations out as long as possible, and then go pretty basic with decorations. The wood pumpkin on the table I painted YEARS ago, but it gets pulled out every year for Halloween week. The tablecloth goes out that day. It was given to me by a relative. We got the little pumpkins when we went to the Montgomery Academy field trip.

And here is Super, Jelly Bean and Flower.

The girls saw the costumes at Goodwill for a $1 each and asked if they could get them. I said "Sure!" The skirts were given to the girls for dress-up a couple years ago. Oh, and they are Broadway dancers, not ballerinas, in case you were wondering.

Super's coat (and yellow rain boots, not seen in photo) were actually on sale last year at Gymboree, and it was his winter coat last year and rain boots this spring. The hat was part of a dress-up kit that he got for Christmas last year.
Total spent for three costumes: $2 and NO time. Simple.