Friday, December 29, 2017

Saving Money in the New Year

 A year ago I took a Dave Ramsey course and since then I have been creating a budget every month.  I haven't stuck to it completely for a whole month yet, so I think January is the month to change that!  Another thing I haven't been very good at is  recording my transactions each day, so I am going do that each evening, not every week and a half like I've been doing.  I use Dave Ramsey's free budgeting tool called EveryDollar. It's great!

This past year I've made some changes to reduce waste and save money that I've been very happy with. I joined a CSA  to eat locally grown food, I stopped buying paper towels and napkins, I bring my own water bottle and coffee cup instead of using disposable, and I started composting.  

This year I'm going to start shopping at thrift stores.  Up until now, I've only gone to thrift stores or good will a couple times a year.  I have many friends who only buy clothes at thrift stores, but I have a hard time with used clothing. People might think it's weird, but I don't like wearing something someone else has worn.  So, for clothes I want to commit to only buying discounted clothing.  But for other things we need,  I'll check out the local thrift stores.

I had to laugh at myself!  Right before I made this post I was looking at Anthony Ongaro's minimalism blog Break the Twitch.  I saw that he had a new book, and I had a "twitch" to purchase it! That is one area I can do better at-not buying e-books or TV shows and movies on Amazon.  We have a great library in our city, so I can get books and movies there. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Decluttering closets....again

 Our home is neat and tidy most of the time-except for the closets. I will declutter and organize, and a couple months later they are overrun with stuff again. I just spent the last 3 days going through everything we own-every closet, drawer and cupboard in the house.  I was shocked that I found about 8  bags of stuff to give away or throw away! This time I labeled the drawers and bins in the kitchen and bathroom closets so my kids know where to put things.

Kitchen closet:

Before                                                                         After

                                                           Bathroom closet

My upstairs hall closet:

 Here are some of the things I found while organizing that we have needed recently:
  • glue gun
  • gift bags
  • a necklace
  • missing game cards
  • nail clippers
  • post-it notes
  • trash bags
  • an overdue library book

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

My Bullet Journal 2017

 I started a Bullet Journal back in April.  It's been a great way to keep track of the different areas of my life.  In it I keep to-do lists, grocery lists, menu plans, books to read, quotes, homeschooling ideas, thoughts, my calendar and more.  It's been fun to decorate a page at the beginning of each month.  When I started it I wanted it to be artistic, neat and beautiful like many I had seen online, but I learned early on that I'm going to make mistakes and that's ok. I don't have the best handwriting anymore, and there are many pages where I have things crossed out, but I'm fine with it.   I've decorated throughout my journal with  washi-tape, stickers and stamps. I've used some fancy lettering and banners.  It's been great to look back and see the different things I've been interested in this year.  I will definitely continue to use my Bullet Journal into this new year!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

December Daybook 2017

For Today:

Looking out my window... is a snowstorm! It's been snowing all day. 

I am thinking... about how over this past year I became interested in environmentalism, tiny houses, and minimalism. I started using my own bags, jars, water bottles, and coffee cups instead of disposable.  I tried composting for the first time, which felt so good; it really cut down on our trash. This year I want to start shopping at thrift shops. 

I am thankful... for life, love, our home, nice clothes, homeschooling, good health, family, and friends!

One of my favorite things... is having all of my kids sleep over on Christmas Eve. Only two more days!

I am creating... Christmas cards with Sophie.

I am wearing... a stripped hoodie, rose colored pants, and warm, gray winter socks.

I am reading... Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  It's one of Sophie's favorite books. After seeing the movie, I decided to read it. Sophie and I are listening to Christy by Catherine Marshall.

I am watching... Wonder and The Last Jedi.  I went to the theater twice this month-very unusual for me. Wonder was awesome-I cried!  Watching Star Wars with my family is always fun!

I am listening to... Christmas music of course! And Lindsey Sterling.

I am hoping... to do even better with my budget this new year.   I'm planning a 90 day no spending challenge starting in January. 

I am learning... new work skills. Last month I finished the WorkReady class, and in a few weeks I'll be starting a 15 week Office Occupations class. 

In my kitchen... We've stopped eating out. This month I've followed my meal plans pretty well. This week we had mushroom and zucchini enchiladas. They were so yummy! And I made enchilada sauce for the first time!

In the school room...the kids have been working hard, and I am very proud of them! Christian is in his senior year of homeschooling and is getting A's in all of his classes.  Sophie has been asking for more school books, so I will be ordering more.  This last week we found a cool online history game called Mission US.

A moment from my day:
Sophie and her friend making Christmas cookies last week.

Checkout more daybooks here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Reading Log Sept/Oct/Nov

The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
The Magician's Nephew  by C.S. Lewis
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Star Wars Aftermath
Life Debt by Chuck Wending
The History of Sonic the Hedgehog
Star Wars Episode 1 Darth Maul
Star Wars Bloodline by Claudia Gray
Pokemon Adventures Ruby & Sapphire by Hidenori Kusakal

Short by Holly Goldburg Sloan
Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements
The Thing About Leftovers by C.C. Payne
Drive Me Crazy by Terra Elan McVoy
About Average by Andrew Clements
Sign Language by Amy Ackley
The Penderwicks on Gardem Street by Jeanne Birdsall
The Importance of Wings by Robyn Friedman
The Mother Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogal Frederick
The Mother Daughter Book Club: Much Ado About Anne by Heather Vogal Frederick
The Mother Daughter Book Club: Pies and Prejudice by Heather Vogal Frederick
All The Things You Are by Courtney Sheinmal
Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whellan
Perfect by Natasha Freind
The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time Series by Akria Himekawa
The Report Card by Andrew Clements
Holes by Lewis

The Omnivore's Dilemma: a natural history of four meals by Michael Pollan
The town that food saved: how one community found vitality in local food by Ben Hewitt
Modified: GMOs and the threat to our food, our land, our future by Caitlin Shetterly
Made from scratch: discovering the pleasures of a handmade life by Jenna Woginrich
Wolly: the true story of the quest to revive one of history's most iconic creatures by Ben Mezrich
Between breaths: a memoir of panic and addiction by Elizabeth Vargas
Not buying it: my year without shopping by Judith Levine

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Sophie's Day

  • Drawing -YouTube
  • Listened to an audio book
  • Worked on Photograpyhy assignment -VLACS
  • Helped a friend clean out some cupboards at church
  • Played with friend's 4 yo son
  • Crocheted
  • Blogged
  • Picked out books at the library
  • Read
  • Helped make dinner
  • Told me about Cat Island in Japan (learned about it through a  movie and a book)
  • biked
  • Joined in conversation with a friend we had over for dinner
  • Watched Anne with and E with me

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

What I did today

  • made granola
  • typed a blog post
  • took a bike ride
  • finished knitting a dish cloth
  • washed two loads of laundry-hung one out to dry
  • read Sophie's story
  • made salsa
  • helped Sophie with a photography assignment
  • made grilled cheese sandwiches w/tomato soup
  • read
  • washed 2 sink fulls of dishes
  • vacuumed the living room rug
  • took Christian to teen homegroup
  • colored while listening to a podcast
  • made taco salad
  • watched Anne with an E with Sophie
I love my life!

Monday, September 18, 2017

audio books, crocheting, and cleaning

Today Sophie and I  spent the morning listening to Extra Credit by Andrew Clements.   While listening to books on CD we usually color or draw, but lately I've been knitting dish clothes. Sophie decided to try crocheting again.  I was thrilled because I know it's something she will enjoy, but I didn't push her get it like I have in the past. And she pretty much figured it out on her own, with just a little guidance from me. Later when Christian was watching a drawing lesson on YouTube, Sophie listened to Short by Holly Goldburg Sloan with head phones while I read a John Holt book.  They both worked on their VLACS courses.

Sophie came with me in the afternoon when I cleaned a friends home. Sophie was going to help with the dog, and maybe do some dishes, but she ended up happily working with me almost the entire 4 hours we were there!  It was really a blessing. We got twice as much done as I would have alone. She washed dishes, dusted everything, organized, mopped and folded laundry.  While we were there, she listened to The Landry News by Andrew Clements, twice through!   Christian got some exercise biking to bring us supplies.

Friday, July 14, 2017

July Daybook

For Today

Looking out my's raining. It's also cold for a July day. 

I am thinking...about the road trip/camping trip we will be taking at the end of the summer with my older kids. We are having a planning meeting this weekend. 

I am thankful...for my home, for my family and friends, that my children are happy and healthy, and that God is for me!

One of my favorite hearing my children laugh. Sophie is upstairs with her friend Hannah this morning, and they have been laughing and laughing! Christian has a great laugh, too! He often bursts out laughing over something he's reading, watching, or just thinking about.  

I am creating...cloth napkins! I had this material and I occasionally used it as a table cloth.  We've stopped buying napkins and paper towels, so I made these!

I am wearing...jeans and a T-shirt. I had on shorts and a cute sleeveless shirt because I thought we might go to the lake again today, but it's going to rain all day. 

I am reading ...
Hard Times in Paradise: An American Family's Struggle to Carve Out a Homestead in California's Redwood Mountains by David and Micki Colfax (They also wrote Homeschooling for Excellence -the first homeschooling book I read), No Impact Man by Colin Beavan, and Zero Waste Home: The ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your waste by Bea Johnson

I am hoping...that the dance we have been practicing for church goes well.  I'm sure it will!  I'm excited that we will be performing in a few weeks!  

I am learning...that I can live with less, and that buying things won't ever make me happier. I'm also learning a lot about our plastic problem, and that I can make a difference by simply bringing my own water bottle and using reusable cloth bags at stores. 

In my kitchen...I have joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm, and we get fresh vegetables every other week. This week we have been snacking on sugar snap peas and cucumbers. Last night I used swiss chard ( which I had never had before), summer squash, and basil in a zucchini frittata. It was so yummy! Sophie and her friend Hannah loved it!

In the school room...Christian only has the final test to do and then he will be finished with his VLACS creative writing class. Then only a couple weeks left of Advanced Algebra and 11th grade will be completed!  

In my garden...we have jalapeno peppers, tomatoes, cilantro,  sugar snap peas, cucumber, lettuce, one onion (the others didn't make it), and oregano.

A moment from my day

Check out more Daybooks at

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Zero Waste Lifestyle

Many years ago I watched a documentary called Bag It, and for a while I tried to minimize my use of disposable plastics.  But it didn't last long. Soon those cloth bags got left behind when I went to the grocery store, and I eventually forgot about using them. And I'm embarrassed to say that I have not always recycled. I remember when our town started requiring us to recycle-I  still didn't most of the time. And when all of my children lived at home (there were 7 of us all together) we took out a bag of trash everyday! Even with three of us in the house now we were taking a bag to the dumpster every other day. This is crazy!

. I have been so impressed with the people who live a Zero Waste lifestyle. I want to be like them! I feel like I have finally woken up, and while I don't think our family will have "zero" waste, we are working towards having much less waste.

Here are some of the things we are doing:

  • buying from the bulk bins at a local co-op using mason jars and small cloth bags
  • bringing cloth bags to the grocery store and farmers market
  • composting with our community gardeners
  • recycling
  • not using plastic water bottles
  • using cloth napkins and towels instead of napkins and paper towels 

Friday, May 5, 2017

No Spending 6 Week Challenge

I made a decision halfway through last month that I wasn't going to spend any extra money. I have enough each month, but just enough, and I haven't been saving any lately. We are hoping to go on a road trip this summer, and we need money for that.  My other reason for not wanting to spend money is that I don't want extra stuff coming into our home. I want to use what we have-and be thankful for it!

It just so happens that some friends and I started a Bible study on the book of Daniel. We all decided to give up something, like expensive foods, sweets, or extra spending, for 6 weeks. So, now I have accountability!  I've been doing well, although I did buy a large ice coffee yesterday.  Giving up my ice coffee in the afternoon is the hardest!  So, now I'm making a pot of coffee in the morning and putting it in the refrigerator. Then in the afternoon, I can have ice coffee without spending extra money!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Meaningful Things

There are some things in our lives that have special meaning. When we see them remind us of a wonderful times with friends and family. These Pathway Readers do that for me. I have had them since Andrew was in kindergarten, and all five of my kids used them when learning to read.  They have stories about close families and life on a farm. We would snuggle on the couch and take turns reading every other page.

I would not have even considered getting rid of my Pathway Readers-until about a week ago. I had already gone through all of my books deciding what to sell and what to give away, and these were definitely staying!  But as I have gone back through the areas of my home that I've already cleaned out, I'm still finding things that I really don't need!   I don't want to sell them, but I'll give them to a family who will enjoy them as much as we did.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Steps on this Journey to Minimalism

For years I have struggled with clutter and keeping an orderly home. Nowadays the house stays clean, and I can have guests over at the drop of a hat. Finally! But how did I get here?

First thing in the morning I put anything away anything left out from the night before.
I love waking up to a clean house!  For the last couple years, my routine has been as soon as I come downstairs, while the coffee is brewing, I put away the few items that the kids might have left out. Next I fill the sink with sudsy water for the breakfast dishes and any glasses from the night before. After breakfast everything gets cleaned up and put away, then we are ready for homeschooling.

I gave away all our books that we can get at the library. 
I have a weakness for books, but I rarely read a book twice, so they just sit on the shelf.  I used to to have two large bookcases chock full of books-plus boxes of homeschooling books that weren't being used.  Now I only have a few books, and the kids have a number of favorite books they own kept in their rooms.  All of  the extra homeschooling books and educational materials are going to a curriculum sale next week!  Our librarian has told me that they can get almost any book I want through inter-library loan.

I went through every closet and drawer in our house and gave away or threw away all duplicates, or things we don't need or use. 
Even though my house is kept clean, the closets and drawers were messy most of the time. Filled to the brim with duplicates of everyday items and stuff we weren't using or didn't need.  I went through everything! This took me about two weeks. I also organized and put all like items together.

I organized the Fridge
This is what inspired me to go through every area of my home. There was no rhyme or reason to where our food was placed in the refrigerator. I asked Sophie to label on post-it-notes things like eggs, meat, veggies, breads, milk and juice, and leftovers.  It only took a few days for us to put things in the right spot. Now leftovers are being eaten!

Every item has a home.
I didn't think this would ever happen. It was because we owned way too much stuff! The answer was just getting rid of it!  Now I can easily find anything in our home. And I know what we have, because we don't have too much.

Saying no when friends want to give us things, and not buying new things.
This is a new one, and it's a challenge!  Today after church a friend wanted to give me a couple pairs of shorts for Sophie. She does need shorts, but I knew she wouldn't like them. Normally I would have taken them anyway, and they would have sat in my closet for a while, but this time I said, "No thank you".  One day this week we went to our neighbor's play, and there was  also a book fair going on. Sophie really wanted a book, but I said, "No, we can get it at the library".

I have the kids put their things away after using.
This is taking some time, and I still put things away from them.  I'm trying to be more aware and remind them to do it. I know we'll get there.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Some Other Things We've Been Doing

We have been doing other things besides decluttering and organizing.

Sophie is working on her bullet journal.  Next to her you can see the 1000 piece puzzle we are putting together.

                                                                  I made an apron!

             We visited friends out in the country. Their animals greeted us as we got out of the car!

Christian learned Power Point this week.  He got an A+ on a project  he worked on for Theater, Cinema & Film  class!

Sophie made two pies for the pie auction at church. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Finding Even More Things to Go Through

 It is so freeing to get rid of the things we don't need anymore, that we will never use again, and to realize that I don't have to hold onto things forever. I can let them go!

                              I thought I was done, but I'm still finding papers to go through.

I threw away this pile of papers after going through my file box. Some of it I've kept since the early 90's! I organized the papers I am keeping. I took pictures of some special letters from friends and family before tossing. I did keep the cute cards that the kids made me when they were little.

I found this attachment for my sewing machine. It had never been out of the box, and I've had it for 17 years! I tossed it, because I know I'll never use it.

Here is a knot-a-quilt craft project that sophie and I started 6 years ago. I know we'll never finish it. And she was fine getting rid of it.

I really think I've finished going through everything now, but we'll see!