Want to Join me in my De-Cluttering/Organizing Goal?

It’s not spring; but I’m obsessively organizing!  I’m determined this is THE year.

Are any of you like me, continuously frustrated with stuff that seems to multiply when we sleep?  Any of you want to join me in this goal I’ve set for myself?  I’m determined that this year, by the end of the year I will have achieved a goal I’ve wished I could for a long time.

The shop outside is a whole nother beast, but by year end (really I hope by summer’s end, but I’m giving myself the whole year, in case):

  • All closets in my house will be orderly and well organized.
  • My stuff (in closets and storage areas) will fit in those designated spaces without any random stuff outside of those areas because there is too much to fit.
  • I no longer want to look around certain rooms with a feeling of annoyance at what feels like clutter to me.

To achieve this goal, we will need to :

  • Remain committed, not allow ourselves to forget how the clutter makes us feel, therefore making this a priority.
  • Although it’s a lot of work, keep in mind this won’t last forever.  Remember, we’re doing this by year end!
  • Be ruthless in getting rid of things that we don’t need, use or love.
  • Establish some guidelines to help our homes stay de-cluttered, not overflowing.

I used to have a hard time parting with things. I am married to someone who still really struggles with parting with things, although he’s definitely gotten much better!

I used to think the only risk was in getting rid of something I might regret.  I came to realize though KEEPING THINGS HAS A COST TOO.  I’m more willing to risk the possibility now that I might wish I had something I got rid of.  I love to look at clean spaces and that is worth a small risk.  Things we keep have to be cleaned or dusted or reorganized.  Again and again and again.  I’m so tired of that cycle.  There are much fewer things that make the cut these days.

It has taken me a long time to get to this point, but I’m much quicker to donate something that I have a small pang of worry that I’ll regret, rather than keep it.

If I’m not using it, I don’t want to dust it or wash it again.

I’ve gotten off to a good start, and the progress I’ve made is providing motivation to keep going.  So far I have:

Reorganized My Christmas Decorations

Okay, these items are stored in our outdoor shop, but I wanted to include them in my progress.  I’ve wanted to do this for YEARS  and finally did it.  After I donated a small bag of ornaments, I reorganized all of my Christmas decorations and labeled them.

In years past, Jay and Evan would bring all the green and red boxes from the rafters of the outdoor shop.  You can see this is a lot of boxes.  I would have to lift the lids to see what is in them, and because it takes more than one day to decorate inside and outside, I would have to look in all the boxes TOO many times to find what I was looking for.

The before! All the Christmas decorations spread out for for sorting/reorganizing, plus any other items that had been shoved in here from other places to have room for the spread we had out on Christmas Day. What a mess!

All the boxes, sorted and labeled for easy retrieval of what items I’m looking for.

Ah, and now I have my little table back. It was used for food set-up on Christmas Day. It’s my favorite spot to work on blog related stuff. This is one of my favorite places in my house. I’ve got this little corner just how I want it.

Until this year, when I have a spare bedroom for the first time, these boxes would be cluttering up my kitchen and living room until I was done with them.  This way, they can be put in another room out of my way and I can easily find the box I need at that time and leave the others stacked up till I’m ready for them.

Two Options of How to Label the Boxes

I listed on the front all the categories of items that are in the box.  I’m going to try this method.  If I add much to the Christmas decorations or need them organized differently,  I will try the second method, described below the pictures.

Alternate box labeling method: you label the box itself with 1, 2, 3, 4 etc and then keep a small notebook or card file. The card or page labeled #1 would list all the items in box #1 .

If what is stored in the boxes changes much this might be the easier way.  OR, if you wanted to look at your list and pull out from storage only certain items this is a good way to go.

Done a TON of Work in my Closet 

I’m not 100% satisfied with the state of my closet, but I’ve put in a lot of work and it’s much closer to my end goal.  I will share pictures when it’s finished.  There’s still a couple of things I’m unsure of how to best store, and I didn’t get to the corner that has our Christmas boxes, ribbons and wrapping supplies.

One reason our closet is such a big job is for years it has been a catch all for stuff we didn’t have room for elsewhere.  We have board games, boxes (from purchases, like iPhones, Kindle’s, laptop) extra blankets, gifts purchased in advance, a box for donations, Christmas wrapping supplies, a large box of frames and decorative things not currently used, and memorabilia in addition to the “normal” closet stuff.  No matter how much I clean it, seems like before I know it, we’ve accumulated a bunch of stuff in there again.  I’m working now not only to declutter and organize what is there, but to stop the flow coming in.

With the exception of the small corner I didn’t get to, everything was pulled from the walls and I vacuumed crevices, dusted baseboards and any walls that needed it. Every game box and stored item was wiped with a damp cloth. Y’all, that alone was a pretty big job with lots of ups and downs on the step stool. The sore muscles I experienced the next day were a felt reminder of a job well done.

I worked a couple of hours on one day just getting rid of things, making quick decisions about clothing and items easier to part with.  The 2nd work day I spent the entire day cleaning, reorganizing, washing blankets and the baby clothes I mention in a paragraph below.  AFTER I had gone through the first time, on the 2nd day I had 3 boxes of donations and 2 bags of items I threw away.

This is my back seat loaded up with donations after the 2nd time going through my closet!

I Sorted Through the Linen Closet (except for the shelf with medicine that still needs to be done)

I got rid of a few things and washed almost everything that remained in here.  If it had been used recently, I didn’t, but all others got washed.  No more dusty/musty smell.

This closet houses the bed linens for all beds except mine, I keep those in a closet in our bathroom. We also keep the medicines that aren’t used regularly, and first aid supplies on a shelf here. That shelf still needs reorganizing.

Several years ago I read this tip and it’s right up my label-maker-loving alley! All the sheets on this shelf are full size. Another shelf for twin. If you have fewer you could keep them on the same shelf and just label under each. This is a time saver when you’re looking for a particular item. And, I just love how it makes me feel when I see those labels. It makes me feel a bit more organized whether it’s true or not.

As I Organize and Clean Closets I’m Washing any Dusty/Musty Smelling Items

The blankets stored in my closet and the linen closet smelled dusty/musty so I washed them with a 1 1/3 cup of vinegar in the wash water and then used a good smelling liquid softener in the final rinse.

Those Few Pieces of Sentimental Clothing Items From Each of My Kids

Over the years I had pared down and pared down until I have just a small amount of clothing items from all 3 kids. And the blankets that were special to me (they never cared a lick for blankets or stuffed animals!).

These items have hung in different closets in our home, moved from room to room over the last several years.  I took them off the hangers, treated the stains that had bled back through and packed them all up together in a clear comforter bag. Did you know that “old” stains that have been cleaned will bleed back through over time? Most of stains came out but there were 3 or 4 items that I didn’t put in the dryer because they need to be treated again.

On hangers, these items were taking up prime real estate space in my closet.  Stored in a comforter bag (and this is for all 3 kids so I think this is pretty good!) I can find a better place to put them.

Some of the Things I’ve Held onto in the past that didn’t make the cut this time:

  • I had saved some pillows and had planned to reuse the insides and make new covers. They had been in my closet long enough to be dusty/musty smelling.  It made me sad, but I threw them away.
  • Pretty bags I like but don’t love. I realized that I never chose those bags anymore. Although I liked them, I have others I like more. Pretty bags (I really do use them!) are a real weakness for me.

Our homes are continual works in progress.  I will never reach the point I think my house is perfect, I know that.  Something will always need doing, cleaning, organizing, freshening up with decor. I will never feel like I’m finished.

But, I am determined that there will be LESS to clean, LESS to reorganize and I know that some empty cleared spaces will feel so good to me.

What do you think?  Is this YOUR year to reduce and declutter?  Let’s do this together!

Hope you’re having a great week!

Josette

Cooking Ahead and Eating Lighter (and Simple)This Week

Without such a full house of hungry people to feed,  just 3 of us during the week, we’ve slid into some bad habits.  We’ve been eating out too much, and finding it so easy to get takeout instead of plan, shop and cook.

This week, right after church my sweet boy said, “Mom, I’ll take us all out to eat at LaBamba if you’ll cook food for me to take this week.”  I hadn’t cooked for him in a couple of weeks.  We had gone out to eat a more expensive meal for my birthday the night before so I had been planning to cook something simple (tacos) for lunch.  He knew if I cooked  lunch I wouldn’t want to turn right around and stand on my feet (plantar fasciitis) for more cooking.  When I send food with him I usually send a lot, so it isn’t quick unless I’ve done something in the slow cooker.

Y’all, at times it’s still hard, these kids growing up.  But, more and more they keep showing me some reasons why sometimes it’s a little sweet.  Like when they take you out for lunch on their dime.  Or give you $ for a weekend at the beach for your birthday.

We’ve all been wanting to eat a little better, my boy included.  It helps when we’re all on the same page that way.  I made a quick trip to the store and this is what I came up with for this week.  I hoped that for those of us at home, having something already cooked, and food that could be mixed and matched we wouldn’t be so tempted to pick something up. The plan has been a success.  For this week 🙂

I cooked several things we could mix and match to have some variety.

  • I pan-fried about 25 chicken breasts
  • Baked 15 sweet potatoes
  • Cooked a pile (a bunch, several cans) of green beans
  • browned 3-4 pounds of ground chuck and made taco meat with it .  I bought burrito sized tortillas, soft taco size, already had regular hard taco shells and I bought salad ingredients for taco salad for plenty of variety.
  • I bought a head of romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes, feta cheese and mexican cheese to use for taco salad or salad with the pan-fried chicken or side salad with the sweet potatoes and chicken.

I started the potatoes baking first, got the chicken started, then the green beans, last the taco meat.  I cooked it all, packed Evan’s food, put ours away and cleaned the kitchen.  We’ve eaten this food each day but only made the big cooking mess once and I’ve enjoyed that.

I sent some of each with Evan, and kept some of all of it for us.  Jay and I enjoyed eating the chicken a variety of ways and didn’t get tired of it so we never even ate taco meat.  When I saw we weren’t going to eat it I put most of ours in the freezer.  Jessie enjoyed the burritos and soft tacos.

The Chicken

I pan-fried the chicken in a little peanut oil and seasoned the chicken with Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning.  Although I’ve pan-fried chicken this way for years I realized something just this time.  The breast pieces that were the best and most moist (others were dry and not soft) were the ones that I cooked on med-high while they  browned and then covered them and turned them down to medium or medium low where they kind of steamed and kept the moisture in better.

Although it’s creole seasoning and can be spicy, you can control that somewhat by the amount you use.  This is a delicious seasoning that we all like, but I don’t put too much because some don’t like it as spicy as others.

 

I washed the potatoes and rubbed the skins with oil.  I used peanut oil this time and then baked them.  I put foil on the pan to keep it from getting sticky but didn’t individually wrap the potatoes.

I keep some bacon grease in the fridge for such as this.  I put a tablespoon or two and added some Lawry’s seasoned salt to the store brand (Shur Fine) green beans (with some of the juice from the can left in) and they were delicious!  I brought them to a boil and let them cook for just a few minutes to get the seasonings mixed in.  Jessie doesn’t like vegetables but tolerates green beans better than most others.

I made taco meat that could be used for burritos, soft or hard tacos or taco salad.

 

The second time we ate the chicken and sweet potatoes we switched out the green beans for salad.  Oh yeah, and that dark color in the sweet potato, I mixed 1/2 cup brown sugar with 2 tablespoons cinnamon to make a cinnamon sugar to use for the potatoes.  It takes very little to make the already sweet potato like a dessert.  The potatoes were on the small side so it was less than a teaspoon per potato that I used.  Delish!

Another day we had a big salad with chicken. I forgot to take the picture before it was messy looking with dressing.

We’ve eaten too much fried chicken tenders and such in recent weeks.  I think our bodies were craving some green beans and salad.

If Your Family Resists Eating Leftovers

I’ve had some friends say their family just doesn’t like leftovers.  Now that there are fewer of us, the temptation is greater not to cook.  But when our house was full of hungry people and a busy mama that doesn’t really love to cook, it just wouldn’t have worked for our family not to eat leftovers.

If your family doesn’t like to eat the same thing 2 times in a row, try cooking several things at once (only dirty the kitchen in a big way once) that you can rotate so the plate isn’t exactly the same each time.

Hope you’re having a good week!

Josette

Work With What You’ve Got {Freshen up your Christmas decor without spending a ton of cash}

This is one reason why I will never have a tattoo.  I just can’t be satisfied with the same look for very long.

When you have a wee budget  for Christmas decorating, this can be a bit of a problem.

Problem #1 I get tired of what I have.  Like, sometimes after just one year. I know, first world problem for sure.

I really don’t like to have everything look the same two years in a row.  What I like changes. Sometimes kinda drastically.

When it comes to home decor, I like to change things up, just make it feel a little different and fresh.   But I have a small budget for these non-necessities, so I have to be creative.  I’m tickled pink when I can move things around and use them in a way that feels fresh without spending a lot of cash.

Problem #2  I love a hodgepodge of things that I have to try to marry together in a way that makes sense.

I have many precious-to-me ornaments that each of the kids made in their younger years. While I might not display every single one of them every year, there will never be a time that there isn’t at least one or two on the tree that each kid has made.  When I’m ruthlessly decluttering, (which clearly hasn’t happened nearly enough!) Jay says I’m not sentimental about anything.  Not true, I’m just not sentimental about everything like he is.  The ornaments the kids made are some of my favorite things and I can’t imagine our tree without them.

Other than the ornaments the kids have made, for as long as I can remember, snowmen have been my favorite thing at Christmas. Then, for many years now, probably 10 or more, I have loved gingerbread house themed Christmas decorations.

I don’t want two trees, and it can be a bit tricky to marry some of the ice cream colored gingerbread house ornaments with the more traditional ones.   I’m satisfied though that I manage to make them get along well enough.

Changes I made this year:

Last year’s tree was topped with a glittery silvery topper and the ribbon round it was sheer and silver (might not be able to tell that in the picture). Although I didn’t use those items this year, I kept them, because in a couple of years I will want to use them again. Maybe in the same way, and maybe somewhere entirely different than on the tree. If I don’t want them on the tree, I can use them elsewhere in the house OR for gift wrapping.  This gorgeously full tree was a real pain to put together. Every single limb had to be placed one by one! I was gifted a new tree this year and will donate this tree.
I was given this tree by a friend who wasn’t going to use it anymore. I love it. It fits the space better and is much easier to put together. I bought the candy cane ribbon that is used like a garland on the tree thinking that I would make a bow for the top. I decided it wasn’t wide enough for that purpose and used it around the tree instead. I love how it turned out. The red and white and candy on the ribbon help marry some of my traditional red and green ornaments with those that are gingerbread house themed candies in more playful colors. I didn’t find anything I loved for the top so I decided to put nothing there.

Cost of changes to the tree:  I left off a lot of ornaments for a cleaner look = FREE.  I bought the ribbon on sale for less than $7  I added blue ball ornaments on the tree instead of the pink I used last year.  I already owned them = FREE.  I love to add just 1 or 2 new ornaments per year.  I added two new ornaments for about $5 for both.

I found this last year after Christmas for less than $2. A sweet addition to my gingerbread themed ornaments.
This new candy tree was $2 or $3. Traditional colors and candy themed. Marriage material.

For a few years, the kids influenced me and I was in love with colored lights on the Christmas tree. Colored lights everywhere, and non-traditional colors of ball ornaments on the tree along with our beloved favorites and homemade ones.  I still have some of the non-traditional colored ornaments on the tree, but this year all lights are white. There are fewer glittery decorations.

Year round this basket is on top of the wardrobe. This year I have had a hankering for white lights everywhere and I loved how this cheers up an otherwise un-decorated corner.
I love the combination of plain white and glittery ornaments on top. I bought two packages at the beginning of the season (at the Dollar Tree!), having no idea how I would use them, but I just loved them. For $2 total, I added some to the top of this wardrobe and still have some left over. The greenery had been used at a party I attended (and helped with the set up) and I was able to bring it home = FREE.
Purchased at the Dollar Tree for a whopping total of $2.

The changes to the kitchen table might seem subtle, but I’m excited about the little changes.

The kitchen table last year.

I blogged last year about how I freshened things up.  I used this same Pampered Chef tray all year in a variety of ways, so this Christmas I was just ready for a fresh look.  Also, the greenery last year was fake and I had a hankering for fresh.

The kitchen table this year. Although the burlap runner is a different one, it’s still one I already had. Since my daughter used them at her wedding reception, we have a few 🙂 This one didn’t have a fringe, so I added one to each end.

I found the Mason jar candle holders, they’re actually lanterns that can be hung, at Michael’s for 1/2 ($2.49 each) price and added the red tealights.  They aren’t very visible in the picture, but there are real cranberries under the tealights.  I still have 3/4 of the bag of cranberries that I will find another use for.  The fresh greenery was used at a party I helped with so I brought it home after the party for free.  Although our tree is artificial, it smells like a fresh, real Christmas tree up in here.  Total spent: about $20 with leftover cranberries and tealights AND the lanterns aren’t specific to Christmas, so they can be used year round.

When choosing the mason jar lanterns, I was tempted to choose red or green, but I decided #1 to keep it more natural/simple/clean looking and #2 to choose lanterns/candleholders that could be used all year long in a variety of ways.   This won’t be the last time you will see them I’m sure!

The last couple of years, Jessie has really enjoyed making some things IF she knows I will display them.

Jessie colored these wooden decorations and was excited for me to display her handiwork. I buy these wood coloring sets at Michael’s on sale every year. And, she loves for us to buy candy canes to have on hand, so we do.  They come in all kinds these days and we think it’s fun to try the different varieties. I recommend the Sweet Tart green apple!

I already blogged about what a great time we had making this gingerbread house.  I’m sure it will become a new annual tradition.

One evening a month, Jessie goes to a local church that has a program for special needs kids to allow the parents a date night.  She made this  “Joy to the World” there.

Last but not least, Jessie painstakingly painted this picture and I love it.  They come in a two pack of two different designs at the Dollar Tree, which includes the paint!  Later in the season I picked up another pack with a different design.  When a friend comes over, they will paint them.

I glued it to a piece of scrapbook paper, punched holes in the top and ran some twine through it.  This is hanging right as you come in the front door, which makes Jessie happy.

I know if I counted all the times in this post that I said I “loved” something, a real editor would say I should change some of those.  Don’t wanna.  I love decorating my home for  Christmas.  It takes me forever, because I keep tweaking it the entire season.  But I enjoy it in between obsessively watching Hallmark movies.

If you don’t have a lot to spend, but like to change things up, it CAN be done.  And it’s fun.

I hope you’re enjoying a very Merry Christmas season!

Josette

Easy DIY: How to Reupholster an Ottoman

This was a super easy and super inexpensive project, it just took a little time.  The matching chair and ottoman were given to us and each had only a small tear in them. This chair wasn’t used a lot at their house but between our heavy use and the dogs….well, the rips got bigger and bigger quickly.

I’m starting with the ottoman, the much easier project, but planning to soon give slip-covering a try for the first time with the chair.  Both are very comfortable and fit well in our living room.  Structurally, both chair and ottoman are in great shape so I think it will all be worth the effort.

I had been planning all summer to tackle this project.  Finally, one Saturday afternoon when the house was quiet and calm I put a show on Netflix and got to work.

You can see that our ottoman REALLY needed to be re-upholstered.

Honestly, it took longer to take all the staples out to get the old material off than it did to recover with the new fabric. I used a really small flat head screwdriver to lift the staples out.  Some lifted out easily that way and some would straighten out and make it hard to pull them out.  For those, I used pliers to grab hold of them and pull the staple out.  

In some sections I was able to pull the fabric off without removing every staple.

I didn’t remember to document this in photos, but on top of the cushion I first stapled a cotton/muslin type fabric over before adding the final drop cloth fabric that would show.  I already the cotton fabric on hand. I may not have done this step if I had to buy something extra.  You don’t have to do this, but since it had a thin layer done similarly under the decorator fabric when I took it off,  I decided to do the same.

I originally bought two canvas paint drop cloths at Walmart for 9.99 each, planning to use them as curtains in our spare bedroom I was redecorating at the time. I only used a part of one of them for this ottoman project.   I no longer have the packaging, but I think this is what I bought.  I knew when I bought them, that if I didn’t use them in that bedroom I would use them on this ottoman and the chair.

I washed both the drop cloths together on the longest possible cycle in hot water and added a good amount of Downy to the final rinse as this fabric has kind of a rough texture.  I LOVE textured fabrics, so I wanted that but also wanted it not to feel rough when we sit in the chair.  I may end up needing a third drop cloth when I slipcover the chair.  Even so, that will still be a really inexpensive way to get a new look!

After all the staples (the ones that needed to come out) were removed I laid the drop cloth over the top of the ottoman and cut the fabric, leaving enough hanging over the edge to staple underneath.  My cuts  were not perfectly straight and I didn’t measure. I knew I was planning to tuck the edges under and that they wouldn’t show.  Once my fabric was cut, I turned the ottoman upside down on top of my coffee table for the stapling.  That made it much easier to get to while sitting comfortably in my recliner.

When you make the folds around the legs it makes for a bunch of fabric to staple through, that’s why you see so many staples in those areas.

I turned the fabric under like a hem so the edge doesn’t show and stapled it to the wood.  I looked at a couple of other blog posts ( I searched on Pinterest) to get an idea how to do the corners.  I read somewhere to do it like wrapping a gift.  With that in mind I kinda winged it.  Wish I could show you precisely but I wasn’t very precise 🙂

This mesh looking fabric was under the ottoman to begin with and I put it back there, covering the fabric and staples.  If it hadn’t already been on the ottoman I wouldn’t have bothered with it.  It took a lot of effort to get all the staples out without tearing it, as it is fairly delicate, so if you don’t want to bother with it, it won’t really show anyway unless you turn the ottoman upside down.

This pic is a little blurry but you get the idea.
Finished product from the side.


Voile’.  I’m very pleased with how it turned out.  My corners are not all perfectly the same but I don’t think it’s terribly noticeable.  I’m happy with it.  I have sat in the chair and put my feet on the ottoman every day since I finished it.

Cost Breakdown:

  • I didn’t own a heavy duty stapler and had to buy one.   My husband got ours at Harbor Freight for around $15. They sell them at Walmart too.
  • With buying the stapler this entire project cost only about $25! If you have a stapler, the fabric was just $10, which makes for a crazy cheap and great project.  I still have some of the drop cloth left and may be able to use it in slip-covering the chair, not sure yet.

So, if you have an eye sore of an ottoman, you can fix it right up with some drop cloth and Netflix!  I first saw drop cloth used as a bed-skirt and curtains on Instagram which gave me the idea.  I like that it is textured, durable and some folks bleach (to make them more white than beige) or dye them too.  If you google paint drop cloth and upholstery or curtains, you can find a lot of projects on Pinterest using them. I’m sure this won’t be my last drop cloth project.

Hope you’re having a great week,

Josette.

DIY: Sparkle Up Your Plain Ole OtterBox

This was so super easy and fun!  When Jessie inherited my old phone, it needed a new case, and we were afraid to get anything but the very protective OtterBox Defender.  In fact, I use that kind of case myself as I am prone to drop my phone.

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Jessie saw sparkly and pretty ones when we looked on Amazon but we went with the pink OtterBox.  She was sweet about it but she was a little disappointed.

I had originally seen this idea when I got my own OtterBox.  I too had wanted a case I thought was prettier and I had googled how to fancy up my case but decided this was a little bit of a young look for me.

We watched this YouTube video together first. We followed her instructions.  We wiped the case first with a cotton ball with polish remover, to clean it and make the polish adhere well.

We used three different sparkly nail polishes.  We painted each coat and let it dry.  It dried quickly, then we added the next layer.  We had gotten out all 3 colors but I didn’t think we would actually use them all.  After each coat though, we weren’t quite satisfied with the look until we had used all three.

Jessie adding the second layer, the larger gold glitter.  It was still looking kind of plain at this point.  Yes, she is wearing pajamas and has wet from the shower hair. We always seem to get started on something when it is time to go to bed :). My sweet girl was so self conscious when she saw her bald spot in this picture. She decided it was ok for me to use it, but the “bald spot” makes her sad and self conscious.
Each of the polishes we used is a clear polish with floating sparkles in it. After the first polish, clear with pink and purple sparkles it was still pretty plain.   The gold was larger glitter and we liked what that added.  But it didn’t feel perfect quite yet.

Jessie was able to to do the back of the phone case and I did the sides.  It is important on the back of the case to keep the strokes going the same direction and I just needed to remind her a couple of times.

After a couple of coats she wanted me to finish it but she sat with me and we still enjoyed the project together and talking while we worked.


The third and last polish had silver and blue sparkles.  Blue is Jessie’s favorite color.  It finally looked “filled in”  and not plain.   Then we added a clear top coat . It is best to let it dry really well before handling.  We have one slightly smudged place because she was antsy to set her alarm clock before going to bed.

Jessie absolutely loved it!   She no longer feels there are prettier cases out there. She loves her case now AND mama feels good about the phone being protected.

It’s a win, win.   Mama’s happy and Jessie is happy.

Cooking In Bulk to Save Time in the Kitchen

Cooking in Bulk Quantities to Save Time In the Kitchen

I am all about saving time in the kitchen. The one thing I do on a regular basis that saves me tons of  time in the kitchen is cooking in bulk.  I very rarely ever cook just enough of something for our family to eat just once.

My oldest said something recently about me not really loving to cook.  It hit me kind of funny, because I’m a pretty good cook.  But it’s true.  I don’t hate cooking, but I guess I don’t love it.  I love having my family around the table together.  I really enjoy anytime we do any cooking in the family together, but that’s rare, and I just don’t enjoy spending a lot of time in the kitchen alone cooking.  I do it because it needs to be done.

The whole process of meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning up the kitchen takes so much time.   I am always looking for a way to eat yummy meals together, keep the meals for the most part frugal, and not spend all my time in the kitchen to do so.

My mother died when I was young, and my learning to cook and manage a home has been pieced together bit by bit.  It was only a couple of years ago I learned there were different measuring cups for liquids versus solids.  I’m 52.  That’s just one of those little facts that slipped through the cracks.

It’s only in recent years that I’ve been baking and cooking more from scratch.  Initially, mainly because it’s much less expensive than buying boxed/prepared ingredients and I was trying to find ways to save on our grocery bill.  Later, I also got interested in keeping the ingredients more “real” and less processed and without preservatives.

When it was just my dad, my brother and me at home, my dad taught me to cook a few things.  He was really good at those things, but his variety was somewhat limited. I still look back fondly though on the times we made pickles together and canned tomatoes.  We didn’t die, so I’m assuming he knew what he was doing with that 😉

Later, my stepmother taught me some cooking too.  At that time we were a blended family of 8, so the cooking I learned to do was for a large quantity at a time.  Truthfully, ever since then it’s been hard for me to cook in small quantities.  I have learned though to use that skill to keep from having to cook full meals every day.  Several days out of the week, either the entire meal or a portion of it, is leftover or partially previously prepared.  

Eventually, I purposefully started cooking more of everything than I needed at one meal so that we could have leftovers for the next day.  With homeschooling, since we were here for 3 meals a day most of the time, this was great.  We had something to eat for lunch that was “real” food that didn’t require much time.

One big advantage of cooking in bulk like this is saving tons of clean up time.  Cooking makes a big mess.  With Pots and pans, mixing bowls and measuring cups etc., it makes almost no difference in the mess as to what quantity you cook, the mess is almost the same.  Might as well cook and clean up once and benefit from 2 or more meals from the same amount of mess.

Here are some practical examples of ways that I cook in larger quantities to save clean up and preparation time.

  • If I’m making muffins I never bake just one recipe; at minimum, I double the recipe.   I recently made a double batch of banana muffin recipe and added chocolate chips to half of them.  Jessie and I (and Jordan when she is here) love the added chocolate chips and Jay likes his plain.  I kept out enough for the weekend and put the rest in the freezer.  As the fresh ones have been eaten I’ve pulled out a few more out at a time.  They’re so moist, this way you don’t have to worry about them getting moldy, just pull out the amount you think you will eat in the next few days.

 

  •  I don’t always make multiple kinds of items in the same day, but on this baking night I also made blueberry muffins  because I had some fresh blueberries.  My kitchen was totally blown up after this…..ONCE.   I used paper liners for the muffin pans so I could quickly refill them without having to wait to wash the pans.  With just 3 of us here full time and Evan on weekends I’ve had enough muffins to last a couple of weeks for breakfast or snacks.

 

  • So they won’t stick together in the bag, I freeze the muffins on a cookie sheet pan for roughly two hours first and then put them in a labelled ziploc bag.  I set the timer or else those muffins might be found days later on that cookie sheet 🙂

No matter what I’m cooking, I rarely ever cook the amount that we will finish that day.  Here’s what that looked like one week.  It doesn’t always work this way, but most often I cook a larger quantity a couple of days in a row and then don’t have to have to cook for a couple of days.  If you’re rotating what you’re eating between a couple of choices, you don’t tire of the leftovers so quickly.

  • Thursday I cooked a bag of turnips with a bag of mustard greens together.  I cooked white peas from the freezer and yellow rice.  I made fried cornbread and served with sliced tomatoes and a little Vidalia onion (for the greens, yum).  We ate this Thursday night and Friday for lunch and still had some leftover.
  • Friday night I made a large quantity of spaghetti sauce (not homemade, my family likes the Ragu traditional).  The amount of meat I had cooked (4 lbs.) was too much for the sauce I had bought so I improvised and added a can of Hunts Four Cheese Sauce and some additional spices.
  • We also had on hand turkey, cheese, lettuce and tomato and sub rolls for sub sandwiches.
  •  Between what I cooked Thursday and Friday and the sub sandwich supplies I didn’t have to cook over the whole weekend!
  • When we were tired of those items I  froze a quart size bag of leftover cooked turnips (enough for one meal) and some spaghetti sauce.  We will enjoy them another time without me having to start the entire meal from scratch.

Bulk cooking is the biggest time saver for me in the kitchen.  Intermittently, I like to use these already prepared meal plans to give me a break from meal planning, something I don’t enjoy.  I’m starting to work out a schedule also using the Walmart Grocery pickup, which I absolutely love!

Because it is such a time saver for me I’m thinking I will share more on the blog or facebook live when I cook in bulk, to give you busy mamas more ideas of how to spend less time in the kitchen and more time snuggling your babies or reading a book, or floating in the pool!  If this is of interest and helpful to you please be sure to let me know, and share it with your friends.

Till next week friends,

Josette

The Details You’ve Wanted to Know About Walmart Grocery Pickup!

I think I’m in love.  At least greatly infatuated.  

I just tried my first Walmart grocery pick up. I kept hearing about it; you order online and they deliver the groceries to your car when you arrive.  It sounded almost too good to be true.  It’s FREE!  Two of my friends had tried it and had posted on Facebook that it was amazing.

My hubby just had knee replacement surgery 6 days ago and I haven’t left him home alone yet; so this was the perfect time to give it a try. He promised not to get out of his chair while I was gone.  If he absolutely had to go to the bathroom he was to text me when he got up and text when he was safely back in his chair so I would know he hadn’t fallen.   I was gone from home less than an hour including time to stop and get Jessie an icee on the way home!  My grocery order consisted of 22 items.  Amazing!

I placed my order online.  I loved that as I added each new item there was a running total, so at all times I knew how much I had already spent.  In my case, when I placed the order late Sunday night the first available time for pickup was Tuesday, but I had my choice of most any time of the day for pick up.  The first times to fill up for weekdays seemed to be 5:00 and 6:00 pm, right when folks are getting off work.  

I went here for a promo code for $10 off first grocery pickup. $10, what a great coupon!  It looks like that promo code is good through the end of August.

I downloaded the Walmart grocery app.  I had already placed my order on my browser before I realized there was an app.  I received an email that told me my order was received and that I should “check in” to say I was on the way using the app when going to pick up my order.  There is a number you can call if you don’t have a smartphone to use the app.

At the end of the order it asked if there were any items they couldn’t substitute if they didn’t have the exact item.  I didn’t check that there were any they couldn’t substitute but that worried me a little.  When I picked up my order though, there were no substitutions and no deleted items.  The young man who delivered let me know that when I signed for my groceries.

In the email I was given a cutoff time until which I could make additions or changes to my order.   After placing my order, I went back twice to the app to add additional items.  After the initial time that I put my card number in I never had to do it again, it held my card number and it showed up as 3 separate charges/transactions when I checked my bank account online. 

I was very curious that it didn’t mention letting them know when you arrived.  I mean, you could be 15 minutes or 45 minutes away when you’re “on the way”.  Not sure how it was all going to work, I waited for a minutes after I left the house before I checked in so it would be closer to my arrival time.  

When I “checked in” the app asked permission to have my location when the app isn’t in use, so that they could know when I arrived.  As soon as I said yes, it pulled up my location on GPS and let me know I was 14 minutes away and they would have my groceries ready when I arrived!  When I drove up, I looked at the app and it said something like, “You’re here.   We’ll have your groceries right out.”  

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All over the parking lot there are orange signs with arrows pointing the way to the pickup area.

It was easy to find and there were 10 spaces marked 1-10 for customers waiting for their delivery.  When I parked there was only one other person waiting. When I left, there was the same car and one other waiting.


I got home about 20-25 minutes after my grocery pickup and my frozen items were still well frozen.  I didn’t purchase any produce or meat but I read online that Walmart is conscious of choosing good produce for their customer because they know a customer might be hesitant to buy produce they didn’t pick for themselves.  I did buy 3 limes, but you don’t have to be very choosy about those.  

I had ordered a 40 lb bucket of cat litter.  Knowing that my husband wouldn’t be able to help me unload groceries I was glad the young man that brought out my groceries had lifted it into the trunk so I only had to lift and carry it once.  Nice bonus.  

For moms with multiple small children, wives with husbands who have had knee replacements, moms who don’t want to say, “Come on, come on” fifty times while in the store, or, “No, we aren’t looking at makeup today.” this is an awesome service.  I foresee this making my life so much easier.  

Sometimes Jessie does just fine going to Walmart but it always takes me much longer than I could shop if I was alone.  Sometimes that’s okay and sometimes it makes me want to pull my already gray hair out.  

Jordan, my oldest who is a physical therapist assistant, was like, “Mom! Don’t do that!”  She  told encouraged me not to use this service all the time.  She worries that I won’t stay active enough.  She sorta implied it would make me lazy.  I told her I would rather spend that time and energy pulling weeds in my garden or planting something, cutting the grass, or doing almost any other thing that would keep me moving and active!

 I really dislike grocery shopping.  I seriously would rather clean house or would choose lots of other home keeping tasks over grocery shopping.  I think that’s because those other things leave you with a visual effect of having accomplished something. 

I asked the young man who brought out my groceries and loaded them in my trunk if he could accept a tip.  He said no he couldn’t, that it was just a part of their service.

I hope this service is here to stay.  Although it seems almost too good to be true that the service is free, it is.  And I love it.   

My girl was happy to get out of the house and happy to be surprised with an icee. Also happy that I didn’t drag her around in the store for an hour ?. Yeah, terrible photo planning with the huge trash can in the photo. She purchased the fidget spinner with her allowance money. She had been given one, but this was blue, her current favorite color. Those socks y’all. She has her own sense of style.

Hope you all are having a great week!

*Here’s a link to where the pickup service is available

Learning to be Content With the Home You Have

Do you sometimes find yourself dissatisfied with your home?  There are many areas in our lives that if not careful,  we find ourselves falling into the comparison trap or maybe because we are experiencing genuinely difficult life circumstances, it is really easy to find ourselves feeling discontented.

Without meaning to, we can lose the joy and enjoyment of our home when we focus too much on its imperfections. While we want our home to be the place of rest and comfort, it can be that instead we look around and see a reminder of all that isn’t quite right.  When I was a younger wife and mother sometimes that is what would temporarily happen to me.  I have since learned that I can choose to be joyful and content with the home I have.

For many years now, it has been on my heart that it is important  to learn to be content.  It was important to me in raising my children that they learn to be content too.  Because I feel I could write a book on my journey of learning to be content; for the sake of this blog post not being ridiculously long, I will confine my thoughts on contentment this week to being content with the home you have.

You may hope to live in a better or more nicely furnished home at some point in the future, but for now, until you do, let’s ponder learning to be content in the home you currently have, however small or sparsely furnished it is, or whatever imperfections your home has.

We tend to think of contentment as being something that we feel when circumstances in our life are good.  When all is well.  When we have most of what we want.  But Paul said, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what is it to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” * This last verse has been used out of context so frequently I hesitated to include it.  I don’t think the “everything” refers to anything we might think of, but I think my use is an accurate application.

Even before I was a stay at home mom,  when we were a two income family, we’ve never had lots of money to spend on furnishings, etc.  We went from being two college students, to paying off our car so that when we did have a baby I could stay at home.  While paying off our car we started spending money for doctor bills when we went through a period of infertility issues to try to find out why having a baby wasn’t just happening.

Then we became a one income family.   When I think of what we lived on when we first had just one baby, I wonder how we ever did it.  Of course this was before such expenses as cell phones and wifi.  As the kids got older we chose to prioritize their activities and things we could do together as a family over new furnishings or other things for our home.

For all wives and mothers, but especially for stay at home moms, our home is where we spend a lot of time.  It seems almost instinctual, that desire all women seem to have that makes them want to make their home beautiful. The desire to make our homes comfortable and lovely is, I think, a God-given one, but with all things we have a tendency to excess or to pervert what is intended to be a good and right thing.

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This canvas I made is imperfect, but I love the truth of what it says.  There is much about our lives and our homes that are beautiful although imperfect.  Now that I’ve learned how to use fonts online with carbon paper, maybe one day I will redo this with better spacing and lettering.  Till then, I enjoy this reminder of truth.

It’s easy to want what others have and sometimes that makes it harder to be satisfied with what we have.   It doesn’t help that these days we have Instagram and blogs and magazines and books that make us drool over pretty homes and lush yards and we want our homes to look like those.  For the most part, probably even those homes don’t look as perfect as the photo all the time.  I enjoy looking at all of those pretty things for inspiration and ideas for my home; but if we aren’t careful we are temped to spend money we shouldn’t or to feel dissatisfied with our home.

It isn’t wrong to want our homes to be lovely, but what if we don’t have money to spend on renovations, updates and all sorts of pretty things?  Well, then, we are better off if we learn to be content with we have and what we can do.

Because we haven’t had a lot to spend on decorating I have gotten to be a pro at hunting down a good bargain at regular stores, thrift stores; I love chasing down a good bargain!

I’ve even been known to pick up a thing or two beside the road, which my husband really hates.  I’ve tried to tell him it’s an “in” thing to do right now.  Like, they purposefully do it on tv shows!  He still isn’t a fan.  But sometimes you find some fabulous things really cheap or by the side of the road!  I will keep trying to convert him to my way of thinking.

Have you ever seen the movie, “Overboard”? ** I love that movie! It’s one of my favorites.  It was never a big hit at the box office, but it’s just a feel good and funny movie. I’m not one to watch movies over and over, but this one continues to make me laugh.   My sister Debbie and I have both seen it tons of times.  Seriously, if you haven’t seen it, you need to!  It comes on tv pretty regularly.

One thing I think about every single time I see the movie is their home. Without telling you too much if you haven’t seen it,  Goldie Hawn is initially appalled (and rightly so) at the home that Kurt Russell lives in with his boys.  It’s a complete dump.  Seemingly unredeemable without a bulldozer.  But, after Goldie is there a while and puts her womanly charm to work, the house begins to resemble a cozy home.   It is cleaned, she covers the ratty furniture with quilts, and with a little love the house feels like a warm and inviting home.   The house is still old.  All the furnishings are still very old and out of style and yet the home seems cozy and loved.

This is of course a movie; but I think there’s much about that situation that rings true in real life.  The finest of furnishings aren’t required to make our house a home where everyone feels comfortable, welcome and cozy.  A place that people like to be.

No matter where we have lived, I’ve loved making our house feel like “home”.  Though the reasons why have changed over the years, I’ve never had unlimited amounts (or even what many would consider reasonable amounts) of money to furnish and fix up our home.

Ya’ll we don’t live in a tent; we have a nice home.  But like most women, I could make you a list a mile long of all the things I would love to do to update our home, to make it prettier, to make it more comfortable (we need new furniture and a new mattress) and yet I can truthfully say, I love our home.

Learning to be content is something we can learn.   

When I was a younger wife and mother I didn’t realize how it hurt my husband’s feelings when he felt he couldn’t buy us everything we wanted.  I never meant expressing what I wanted for our home to make him feel that way.  I didn’t even know it did for a while. I try to be more careful now about the way I say things.

My husband works hard for our family and is willing to sacrifice things he would enjoy so that I can be at home.  I never want to make him feel what he is doing as a provider isn’t good enough.  I was making him feel that way,  but I didn’t mean to.

The first step in learning to be content is to be genuinely thankful for what we already have.

Several years ago I read  Katie Davis’ blog and later her book, “Kisses From Katie“.  It was in reading Katie’s blog that I was reminded what a luxury it truly is that I can have a hot shower or bath anytime that I want it, and step out onto tile that is reasonably clean (not a dirt floor) and only occasionally do I not have electricity.  I can’t tell you how often I think of this as I step from the hot shower onto a soft, dry rug.  It helps keeps in perspective for me that everything I want for our home is just that: want, not need.

None of the things I want are wrong.  They aren’t even extravagant.  But it is wrong when I allow myself to be discontented (ongoing) instead of thankful and content with what I have.

For the most part I am content, and what is a temptation for me might not be the same as what leads you to feel discontented.  While learning to be content gets easier over time, it isn’t a decision you make and then instantly and permanently feel content with your home.  Here a few things that I find helpful:

  • trying not to concentrate on too many areas of my home at one time (being content to see progress in that one area I’m currently focused on)
  • prioritizing projects or rooms to work on (one at a time)
  • repurposing objects (shopping other rooms in my home) to use them in a new way to freshen things up spending little or no money.  I do this A LOT!
  • accepting that the change I can make will be slow….this one is hardest for me
  • learning to DIY – there are many decorative projects you can make for much less than you can buy them pre-made.
  • reminding myself that although I greatly enjoy decorating my home, none of the things I want are necessities

Ultimately, I don’t think it honors God when I have all I need and yet I’m unsatisfied.  We can choose to have thankful hearts and learn to be patient.  It’s hard at times, but we can do it.

As women, we are probably always going to have that next project or home improvement in mind.  Let’s just set our hearts and minds to be content with what we have along the way.

Being content with the home we have does two good things for us. 1) Our thankfulness for what we have honors God and 2) We don’t lose our joy over something we can’t change at the moment.

Let’s choose to learn to be content.  Let’s choose joy.

I hope you’re having a great week!

Josette

*Here’s a link to an article I found that I thought did a good job discussing the context of this much misused Bible verse.

**There is one scene in the beginning of the movie with Goldie Hawn in a revealing swim suit (tv version doesn’t show her whole behind) and later some other women in bikinis.

Even If You Think You Can’t Grow Anything; Everyone Can Grow This

I’ve posted a lot about gardening lately on the blog, on facebook, on Instagram; it’s just that time of year! In Spring and Summer, gardening is just on my mind.   My vegetable garden this year was a bust.  I can’t seem to get the hang of the vegetables, yet.  I won’t write that depressing story today ; but my flowers have been so beautiful and I’ve enjoyed them so much.

Even if you’re one of those people that thinks you can’t grow a thing, I promise, these plants almost can’t be killed.  These have been growing in jars for 10-15 years now.  In the larger jars is pothos.  The smaller jar may be philodendron (has no variegation on the leaves).  The leaves are so small on that one it’s hard to tell.  I’ve grown both types of plants in water the way you see pictured.  They both do well growing this way.

This jar was given to me by someone who had it in their garage and planned to throw it away…30ish years ago. I still love this jar.

The little jar on the right is one of several (different sizes) that I bought at a garage sale many years ago. The seller said they were old pharmacy bottles. I love them,  especially the larger ones. The pitcher was a wedding gift. I’ve been married 29 years 🙂  I’m decluttering everything these days, trying to keep only the things I love.  These are some of the things I love.  
It was quite by accident that I learned they could survive this way.  Both philodendron and pothos have little nodes on them, that when you keep them submerged in water will begin to grow roots.  I was originally planning to root a new plant from the one I already had growing.  Well, I left it there a really long time and the roots started getting really long in the jar.  I googled it and realized, that yes, they could actually live that way.

My kids were much younger when I started these and the plant in soil that I got the cutting from has been long gone, but these in water just can’t be killed.   At times the water has gotten too low and some leaves will turn yellow to alert me.  I pluck the dead leaves off, refill the water  and they’re good to go.

This is an excellent way to enjoy something green growing when you’re in a season of life when time for much gardening is a luxury you don’t have.

Here are some tips if you want to grow philodendron or pothos in this way:

  1. To start the plant, just get a cutting from a friend.  If you don’t have a friend with one, you can buy a new one (Walmart usually carries them) to do this and it will make several jars.  Put in water, making sure the nodes are completely covered, as that’s where the roots will start.
  2. As the water evaporates, refill with water, keeping the water level above the roots growing and the nodes that you want to root in the water.
  3. The roots will eventually grow really long.  Just take the plant to the sink, trim the roots (however much so that the jar isn’t so crowded) with scissors, rinse out your jar and refill it with water.
  4. When the leaves get dusty, just sit the whole jar in the sink and shower it with your kitchen faucet sprayer.  That’s usually when I go ahead and change the water. Let it sit in the sink a few minutes if needed till the leaves are dry enough to put back where you have it displayed.
  5. Over time if you don’t change the water (I forget about them until I see the water start to turn green) algae will start to grow.  Just take the plant out of the water, give it a good shower with your kitchen sprayer in the sink.  Wash your jar and refill with clean water.
  6. I haven’t been doing this, so they can survive without it, but I have known this tip for watering houseplants.  I read that you should let city/chlorinated water sit 24 hours for the chlorine to dissipate and then replace the water in your jars with non-chlorinated water.  I used to keep a gallon jug of water under my kitchen sink for this purpose to water houseplants.  Over time the gallon milk jug would spring a leak (they’ve gotten less sturdy in recent years!) and caused water damage under my sink.  I need to get a sturdier container to save water in, plants really do like it better.
  7. Depending on what kind of water you have, city, well, hard, soft, it can cause a build up on the inside of your jar.   The crystal pitcher pictured has hard water deposits that I cannot get off no matter what I’ve tried, so consider what you want to use OR clean them more often than I do 🙂
  8. Both plants are poisonous, you can read here about it.  It doesn’t sound deadly but could make you sick.  I’ve never had my kids or pets bother mine, but just to be aware.
  9. These do require some light but can survive without a ton.  You can experiment with different locations.  My kitchen table is a great place with lots of light, but my cat is too tempted when it’s there.
  10. I have never fertilized mine, but read that tip when researching for this post. If you’re new to this, don’t stress over it, mine have survived more than 10 years without it.  They have stopped growing bigger the way they used to.  I will start fertilizing and see what happens.  The recommendation I read was for liquid fertilizer (like Miracle Gro, you mix it with water)  every 4-6 weeks.
  11. I read years ago that you after they’ve grown them in water for a really long time they may not transplant well to soil.  I haven’t tried to transplant any and I’m ok with that.  Maybe I will try it though just to see.
  12. Look for pretty jars at thrift stores or garage sales.  Most of my jars have come from garage sales for next to nothing.  I loved glass jars for long before they were a “cool thing” to love.

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This is our mantle currently. If your kids are little and you don’t have time for much gardening or anything else….know that one day you’ll have a beautiful picture of your married kid and you’ll have more time for your interests and you’ll have mixed feelings about it all. Enjoy every season. They each have their own beauty. 
Currently I only have one houseplant other than these growing in water and it was given to me.  My efforts at some point switched to outdoor plants.  I do plan to start growing some house plants again soon now that I feel that I can care for them.   I will still want to grow ones that are easy to grow and forgiving.

 

If you decide to grow some plants in water, or already do, please share your pictures.  Even if its weeks later, share them with me please!

Hope you’re having a great week!

Josette

Looking for a Good Book? 8 Books I’ve Read in 2017

I’m always curious to know what my friends are reading, because quite frequently that helps me know what I want to read next.   So, I thought I would share with you what I’ve been reading.  Well, I should say what I’ve been listening to.  As I said here, in this season of life I am really enjoying audiobooks.  Here’s what I’ve been listening to and my thoughts about them.

I recently listened to The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines , narrated by Chip and Joanna Gaines.  Since I’ve watched I think every episode of the show (who hasn’t?) and read about them online, I wondered if much of it would be repeat information.  Nope.  It was almost entirely new information to me.   The book tells how they met and dated and what their life has looked like since they met till now.  It tells how they got started with the show, which is a funny story.  I had wondered how much of their faith story would be in the book, but there isn’t a lot.  They share some circumstances where God clearly moved on their behalf but that is the extent of it.  I loved the book.   It was an easy and enjoyable listening experience and a good story, just what I was looking for.  Chip has a new book coming out soon and I look forward to listening to that too.

The book I most recently listened to was The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, narrated by Ian Cron.   I started hearing different folks mention the Enneagram over a period of probably a year when I was listening to podcasts and it piqued my interest. The Enneagram is a method of personality typing, with nine basic types.    Evidently, a lot of the other books on the Enneagram are pretty deep and complicated and multiple sources said start with this book.  There is a podcast by the same name The Road Back to You and I listened to it some before buying the book.  The podcast is hosted by the authors of the book.  The format of the podcast is interviewing guests and talking about their Enneagram type.  I initially enjoyed the podcast but began to find it annoying. The book doesn’t contain any of the aspects that I found annoying about the podcast and I really enjoyed the book.  I am always interested in personality, all the different types of personality testing and typing and  I’m always curious as to why people do what they do, so I found the book interesting.  I think I have figured out my Enneagram type.  I’m not 100% sure, but for those that know something about The Enneagram I’m pretty sure I’m a 9.  You can have a “wing” in other types, and there are aspects of other numbers that are true of me but almost everything about 9 is true of me.  Listening was a good initial way to take in the book, but it would be helpful to have this as a hard copy book for looking back at.

How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind….Dealing with You’re House’s Dirty Little Secrets, written and narrated by Dana K. White, creator of the blog A Slob Comes Clean.  I always resonate with the books whose authors find keeping their house clean and tidy a struggle.  That has certainly always been true for me.  In reading the reviews before I purchased, some reviewers said she keeps repeating, “just do the dishes”, and they felt it was just too much repetition of a simple concept, while others found it extremely helpful that she keeps it super simple. Her method mainly consists of starting first one routine (doing the dishes everyday) and then adding another then another, remembering that no matter how overwhelming things get, to always do the dishes. While I don’t feel my house was ever at the same level hers was, I have always struggled with keeping my house clean and tidy.   I’ve read a ton of organizing and cleaning books over the years and agree with the author that,”…most organizing advice is…written by organized people….but that’s not how my brain works.”  I have found the most helpful books for me have been written by people who really struggle in this area because we have the same faulty thinking, therefore their strategies are most helpful. We have the same thinking patterns in many ways, so her methods of keeping it super simple make a lot of sense to me.  This book isn’t for the person who occasionally can’t keep up; this book is helpful for the person who continually feels overwhelmed, and like me, feels that the house just blows up completely out of control.  For that person, like me, this is a good book.

Different:  The Story of an Outside the Box Kid and the Mom Who Loved Him by Sally Clarkson and Nathan Clarkson. Narrated by Nathan Clarkson, Ruda Sanda, and Virginia Wolf.   I’ve loved and admired Sally Clarkson for many years now.  My first introduction to Sally was when a friend introduced me to  Educating the WholeHearted Child, which greatly influenced me in my homeschooling and parenting.  Sally’s son, Nathan, struggles with OCD, anxiety and ADHD.  I found it both interesting and helpful, hearing the same story from two points of view; the child and the parent’s point of view.  There are parts of the book that I felt were repetitive, I think because Nathan’s struggle has continued for all his life. At first I thought what I perceived as repetitive was a negative point, but by the end of the book I thought it served a good purpose.  It is helpful for other families reading who share the same ongoing struggles, to see that they aren’t alone in not finding a simple medicinal or therapeutic solution.  Nathan continues as an adult to struggle with these same issues but he has matured, has learned methods of coping, and has learned to rely on God for help.  Different is a true story of the power of a godly mother’s never ending love.  Different shows us too, that while their child may continue to have these difficulties, a godly mother’s love DOES influence how a “different” child sees themself, their world and their God.  This book offers hope to the Christian parent who is parenting an “outside the box” kid.

All the Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth, narrated by Lisa Larson.  I had come across Edie’s blog and had read just a little and didn’t know a lot of her story.  What  I knew about her before reading the book was that she was a doctor, no longer practicing but staying home with her kids, and that she was big into essential oils. Initially, I was intrigued to know more about her for those reasons.  I read the book description when it came up on Audible as “recommended” because of other books I’ve chosen. I was eager to know more of her personal story.  I was drawn into the book right away and finished it very quickly.  All the Pretty Things is a memoir and tells how Edie grew up in poverty with an alcoholic and often absent father.  While we weren’t poor in the same way, there were aspects of her story I could identify with.  One story in particular, where Edie’s sister gets in trouble, reminded me so vividly of a time when my younger brother (who is no longer living) got in trouble because of me.  That story had me squalling like a baby.  This is a good book that can be enjoyed by anyone, but I  think too,  that each listener/reader of this book would take away something entirely different according to their own personal story. I thought about this book for a while after I finished it.  Every reader will be amazed that she achieves her dream of becoming a doctor, and for Christians, there is rejoicing that she finds a relationship with her heavenly Father.

Unstuffed:Decluttering Your Home, Mind &Soul by Ruth Soukup.  Narrated by Windy Lanzl. If you think I read a lot of this type of book, you’re right.  Reading this kind of book helps me stay motivated and gives me the tools to keep making the decisions to live with less stuff, less clutter.  It is an ongoing process. Like  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo that I read last year, it gives strategies for making decisions that help you let go of having too much stuff.

How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul by Ruth Soukup.  When I took a blogging course last December, this book was mentioned by several different people as a must read for new bloggers.  I actually read this one in print rather than audiobook, as there are pictures, graphics, etc.  It’s a pretty quick read the first time through but a book you’ll want to continue to go back to as a new blogger.  There are chapters that cover every aspect of blogging:  content, presentation, social media, growing your platform, monetization.  I agree with everyone that recommended the book to me, if you’re starting a blog, you’ll want to read this book.

The Bible.  In this post I shared my reading plan and a tip that has been helping me stick with it.  I’m tickled pink; I’ve reached 27% of my goal of reading the Bible in a year.

If you want to learn more about how to listen to audiobooks for free you can go here to one of my earlier posts.  To get a free trial from Audible, go here.  I listen to what I can for free and get one credit per month from Audible.

I am always looking for the next good book and prefer to read by personal recommendations.  So comment or send me a private message to let me know what I should read next!

Till next week,

Josette