Over the last few weeks (okay, months), I've had this perpetual feeling that I was going under for the third time.  DangerBear's starting a new business has created stress and uncertainty, I'd fallen behind on everything under the sun, and I seemed to be unable to keep a two-story house straightened up.  I was putting off doing the big things that needed to be done (ie getting my life organized!) and I was instead spending my time doing...  nothing.  Not even something fun, like reading, scrapbooking, or even sleeping (or blogging).  In fact, the last few nights have been among the most restless of my life.  It wasn't that I was lying awake worrying; I was just lying awake.  I guess I was trying to escape, but of course, that was impossible!

So what do you do when you're having trouble keeping your head above water?  Here are some things that have been helping me:

  • Make a quick list of the things that are really bothering you.  You know, the ones that are causing that nasty churning feeling in your stomach.  Maybe it's an important task you've been putting off or an issue that's come up.
I'd been putting off homeschool planning and I felt guilty about it.  I was also putting off routine housekeeping tasks and was embarrassed every time DangerBear said he was out of undershirts or pondered aloud whether there were any clean drinking glasses in the universe.

I was also stressed out because we found out one of our credit card numbers had been compromised.  In reality, it wasn't too much of a problem.  The credit card company caught it and gave us a new account number.  It bothered me because I wondered who had stolen our number.  Was it someone we saw around town, who works in one of the shops?  Was it a trusted online business?  We'll probably never know.

  • Take that list and figure out what you can do about the problem.  If it's a complicated or time-consuming task, split it up into bite-size pieces.  I like to write down the estimated time for each piece, and then race myself to see how fast I can get it done.  Just getting started on it will help you feel better.
  • If you truly can't do anything about one of your issues (like my credit card theft), just take your worries to the Lord.  Matthew 6:27 says, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"  Unless you count the hours you spend lying awake at night instead of peacefully sleeping...
  • Remember your priorities.  I realized I'd been neglecting my Bible reading*, and the only praying I'd been doing was an occasional exasperated, "Oh, Lord!"  When all the details of your life threaten to overwhelm you, remind yourself of what is most important to you.  I am first a child of God, then a wife, then a mother, and then a homemaker.  Everything else is just gravy.  Yesterday, instead of trying to plan my day to the nth degree when I was already overwhelmed, I used my priority planner.  That helped me to get the important things done without worrying about the gravy.  =)
  • Figure out how to claw your way out.  For me, that meant, among other things, setting up a simple home management binder.  Having tasks and calendar items written down all over the place (and often getting lost) was driving me bonkers.  I'm almost done setting up a simple binder and I'm getting all those little post-its and scraps of paper onto a task list.  I'm in the middle of helping DangerBear with a big project for his business, but once that's done (by early next week), I can have fun knocking all those little things off my task list.
"Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own." -Matthew 6:34


*Into Thy Word has some great Bible reading plans, including their Genres reading plan.

 Like what you see? Subscribe!

Oh, my word, this has been the craziest month since...  I don't know when.  A quick list of what's been going on:

  • my family came to visit for a long weekend
  • DangerBear's parents and sisters came for a week
  • I did lots of baking for the state fair
  • getting Chickpea ready for kindergarten
  • getting ready to homeschool part-time
  • helping at DangerBear's business
  • still organizing after moving (sheesh)
  • trying to get my act together in terms of routines, housework, cooking, etc.
  • my birthday (Okay, not exactly a crazy sort of thing, but it was an event.)
  • have company coming on Saturday
  • our anniversary is on Sunday!  Yay!
  • started a blog (Why?!)
Maybe for some of you that all sounds like a walk in the park because you're dealing with lots more, and if so, I salute you.  ::salutes::

We did have a great time with our families, though, and I'm really glad we had them all over.  Also, I won a few awards at the state fair: Three first place ribbons for my hamburger rolls, Italian bread, and rye bread.  I also got third place overall for my Italian bread and second place overall for my rye bread!  One of my prizes was a nice set of cookbooks, so I'm very excited.  I think even DangerBear was impressed.  Not only is my bread now edible, but it's actually pretty good.  Or at least, some of it is.  The rest of it still needs work.  =)

So that's my update.  Coming down the pipeline is another post in the procrastination series, a post on my reading file binder (which I just put together), and a teary-eyed post about Chickpea's first day of kindergarten.  ::sniffle::  I can't believe she's so big already...  I remember when size twelve month clothing looked huge.  And she didn't have an attitude.  (I don't know where she got that from...)


 Like what you see? Subscribe!


FOR TODAY: Monday, August 11, 2008

Outside my window... are clear skies and rustling trees.  It's a gorgeous day!

I am thinking... that I need to get a new alarm clock, because mine occasionally decides to turn itself off.

I am thankful for... DangerBear's family.

From the kitchen... Lots of stuff!  Yesterday I made pumpkin bread, blueberry muffins, rye bread, white bread, and hamburger rolls.

I am wearing... jeans and a comfy shirt.

I am creating... plans for the day.I am going... on an adventure.

I am reading... To Live is Christ, by Beth Moore.  (I haven't started it yet, but I got it for my birthday.)

I am hoping... that I won't have to do any driving this week.  I hate driving.

I am hearing... a blow dryer coming from upstairs.  Oh no wait, that was the microwave in the kitchen.

Around the house... there are lots of computers.  Everyone brought their laptops.

One of my favorite things... my KitchenAid mixer.  I love using it to knead bread.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Exploring with DangerBear's family.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...
(This is a really good book!)


 Like what you see? Subscribe!


I have company this week (DangerBear's parents and two sisters are visiting), so my menu plan consists of anything that isn't burned or screwed up in any way.

Yesterday we were supposed to have spaghetti and meatballs, but everyone surprised me by going out for my birthday!  So here, I think, is my new plan:

Tuesday: spaghetti and meatballs with salad and fresh bread
Wednesday: soft tacos with brown rice
Thursday: buttermilk fried chicken with mashed potatoes, gravy, steamed carrots and green beans, and fresh bread
Friday: meat/shells/cheese casserole with salad and fresh bread
Saturday: out to eat
Sunday: leftovers

Tuesday: simple (blueberry muffins, pumpkin bread, cereal, fruit, etc.)
Wednesday: buttermilk pancakes with bacon and home fries
Thursday: scrambled eggs with toast and sausage
Friday: (maybe) french toast with bacon and eggs
Saturday and Sunday: simple

Depends, since we'll be out a lot with DangerBear's family.  On the days we're home, we'll have either dinner leftovers or sandwiches.

For desserts, there are peanut butter cookies made by Chickpea and leftover birthday cake.  Yummy.


 Like what you see? Subscribe!

Let’s talk about some more common causes of procrastination. Last time I talked about environmental causes (disorganization and lack of focus) and “habitual” causes (bad habits and letting jobs pile up). Today I’ll discuss incorrect thinking.

Incorrect thinking, in this case, is emotional or irrational thinking. Human beings are incredibly adept at making themselves believe things that aren’t true, and I think this is a big cause of procrastination. Incorrect thinking involves mistaken assumptions about ourselves, our abilities, and our work.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Feeling Overwhelmed ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

How often have you put off a project because you were completely overwhelmed, or you didn’t know where to start? Perhaps this is a “lack of thinking” more than "incorrect thinking," but basically it’s failing to think through the steps involved in a project. Say you have to plan your child’s birthday party. Perhaps you’re a natural at this sort of thing, but I am Party Challenged. Let's say Chickpea’s birthday is in a month, but it seems like such a big, involved project that I’m at a loss. Where do I start?

The answer, of course, is with a list! Take a few minutes (or a bit longer for a larger project) and visually walk yourself through all the steps involved to complete the project. In the birthday party example, you have to decide on a location, check availability, choose a date and time, decide on a guest list, buy/create and send invitations, pick out party favors, and so on. Now you’ve broken that big, amorphous project into a bunch of easier-to-visualize tasks. Keep breaking it down into smaller chunks until you can look at each task and think, “Yeah, I can do that!”

For a project with a due date, like the party, the next thing you’ll do is back-time. To do this, make sure the tasks are in chronological order. For example, you can’t send out invitations until you decide on the guest list, so “Decide Guest List” would go above “Send Invitations” on your master list. Thus, the last item on your list should be the last one you plan on doing. Now, using your project due date as a starting point, work backwards and give each task its own due date.

Let’s say the party date is September 15. The party location needs a final head count three days before the party, so the RSVP date should be before September 12. Say you’ll give people a week to respond, add in a couple of days for the postal service to do its thing, and you’ll want to mail the invitations by September 2. Remember to add in some buffer time. You might have to track some people down for their RSVPs, or maybe you decide to order party favors online and it takes a week for shipping. What you don’t want to happen is to fall behind on one item because of an unforeseen circumstance, then have all the following tasks pile up. Lots of leeway means less stress for you.

Perhaps your project isn’t obviously chronological. Maybe it’s just big. In that case, you still need to break it down into bite-sized pieces, but there are several ways you could go about eating them. You might want to start with the hardest thing on the list, or the one you’re least looking forward to. If you get it out of the way first, you can fly through the rest of the project. Or maybe you’d like to start with the easiest things first, if a list of mostly-completed items motivates you to tackle the few remaining tough ones.

If your project is something along the lines of deep-cleaning your house, you might want to work one task at a time. First straighten up, then dust, then wash the walls, then vacuum. One thing at a time can keep the project from being overwhelming. Or work in spatial order. Work your way clockwise around the room, or clean from top to bottom. Whichever method works with that particular project is the way to go!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ But It’ll Take Forever! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The next couple of incorrect thinking causes involve our awareness of time. I’m often amazed at how my perception of time can be so skewed, at both ends of the scale. DangerBear knows all too well that I am a notorious Under-Estimator when it comes to cooking. When he asks how long until dinner is ready, he knows to at least double whatever I tell him.

More often, I over-estimate the time required for tasks, especially cleaning or the things I can do in the kitchen to make sure dinner is ready on time (like chopping vegetables).

Think of something around the house that you routinely put off because you think it will take forever. Maybe it’s folding laundry, or unloading the dishwasher, or creating your meal plan. The next time you do it (force yourself, just this once), time yourself. Get out a stopwatch or a timer that can count up, and determine exactly how long it takes. You might even want to time yourself a few times, to get an average. How long does it really take to unload the dishwasher? I’ll bet it’s five minutes, max.

Maybe it really does take you a few minutes shy of forever to fold a load of whites. After all, there are hundreds of tiny socks to pair. In that case, work it in bits. Whenever you find yourself with a spare five minutes (perhaps while you’re procrastinating about something else), pair a few socks. Before you know it, you’ll be done. If you have to, set the timer for 5-15 minutes and give yourself permission to stop when the timer beeps. If you have a basket full of ironing, let yourself get it done fifteen minutes at a time. Preferably while listening to uplifting music!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Oh, It’ll Take No Time At All! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Let’s go to the other extreme. As I said before, I always underestimate how much time it will take me to get dinner on the table. It can be tempting to keep cramming more and more into our schedules, thinking that the new task or responsibility won’t take very long. (Example: For whatever reason, I decided to start a blog at the same time I was unpacking from a move, preparing to homeschool part-time, getting ready for two sets of overnight company, and baking for the state fair. Yeah. That’s what I’m talking about.)

What is the result? Lots of stress, that’s what. It’s no fun being pulled in twelve different directions all at once, and none of them get your full attention. If you’re so stressed out by everyone complaining that dinner is an hour late (again), how can you focus on doing it right? At that point, you’ll throw anything on the table and pray it tastes okay. Ladies, that’s not how we should be managing our God-given responsibilities!

Now what does all that have to do with procrastinating? It’s easy to put off getting dinner started when I tell myself it’ll only take half an hour. Underestimating how long something will take can give us “permission” to procrastinate. The solution, I think, is the same as for the other extreme. Think through all the steps involved and estimate how long it will really take, and time yourself!

Next time I’ll talk about… guess what? Even more causes of procrastination! Goodness, there are a bunch of them, aren’t there? In the meantime, if you’re a procrastinator, really think about which of these tips you could use, and try them out! I’d love to hear any tips you’d like to share, or ways in which you’ve improved or are struggling. Now it’s time for me to take some of my own advice, as DangerBear's family is coming tomorrow for a week-long visit!


 Like what you see? Subscribe!

I'm sorry I was MIA the last couple of days.  My parents were in from out of state, and as I hadn't seen them in a year, I didn't spend any time on the computer.  They had a blast spoiling Chickpea, and DangerBear and my dad got to talk politics for a while.

So now there's a few days of semi-normalcy before DangerBear's parents and sisters come for a week!

I have a huge long list of things to do before Saturday, including...  the second post in the procrastination series!  (I swear I'm not procrastinating on it.  I'm just not procrastinating on the other things I have to do.  Or something like that.)

How about another nifty YouTube video?  DangerBear is always showing me great videos he found online, but I can never find the nifty ones.  It was like the first time I went on eBay and thought it was dumb because all I could find for auction was cheap jewelry.


 Like what you see? Subscribe!

Labels: 0 comments | | edit post

Frugal Friday Tip of the Week: Split a Meal

Yes, I know, eating out is a treat.  If you really wanted to save money, you just wouldn't eat out.  But DangerBear, Chickpea, and I love to go out to eat.  Perhaps it's because of my cooking...

Even just for the three of us, though, eating out can be expensive.  It was not unusual for us to blow nearly $50 eating at Red Lobster!  Each of us got an entree, Chickpea got the kid's crab legs (!), plus an appetizer.  If they'd brought us the bill before the food, we'd have lost our appetites.  (Maybe that's a good way to save money?)

The past couple of times we've eaten there, though, we tried something a little different.  DangerBear and I each got an entree (just not the super-expensive ones), and Chickpea shared off our plates.  No appetizer, because who needs it after salads and bread?  That got us down to about $30, including tip.  Next time, we might all share one larger entree and just get an extra salad.  (The only thing I would recommend here is to tell your server up front that you're only hungry enough for one entree, but you'll be tipping as if everyone got their own.  No point being cheap.)  We figure that would give us a very nice meal for less than half what we used to spend.  And you know what?  We enjoy it just as much!


 Like what you see? Subscribe!

Did you read the post title and groan?  I did, and I'm the one who wrote it.  I hate procrastinating, but it's my favorite thing to do.  It's been the root of more problems in my life than anything else I can think of, and has caused more stress and grief to my family than I'd care to admit.

I know I'm not the only one who struggles with procrastination.  We procrastinate for so many reasons, and it has so many consequences in every area of our lives.  This series of posts is meant to explore some of the zillions of causes of procrastination, and what we can do about it.  Today I want to talk about environmental and habitual causes of procrastination.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Environmental Causes~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

(No, I'm not talking about global warming and the polar ice caps.)  Sometimes procrastination is caused by your environment.  These are usually the easiest problems to correct, as they generally don't require expensive trips to the psychologist to relive your childhood.  Perhaps the root of your procrastination is simply disorganization: You don't have what you need when you need it.  The solution to this problem is relatively simple.

Say, for example, you absolutely hate paying bills because the stuff you need is all over the house.  Pens are in the kitchen drawer, envelopes are in the office, your checkbook is hiding in the depths of your purse, and you don't know if you have any stamps left.  Once you finally track down the supplies you need, now you have to gather the bills themselves.  Some are in a folder, others are in a pile of mail, and more are hiding in stacks of paper on the table and counters.  This is just asking for trouble.

Start by making a simple list of everything you need to pay your bills (or to do whatever it is you're procrastinating).  Now gather everything on that list.  For some items, like envelopes and stamps, you'll probably want to keep some with your bill-paying kit and others in the office.  Put everything in a basket, file folder, or some other container.  Whenever you get a bill in the mail, immediately put it with your bill-paying stuff, or in a file folder dedicated to bills to pay.  Now, when it's time to pay bills, you have everything you need at your fingertips.  It's so much easier to get things done when we have what we need at the ready.

Another environmental cause of procrastination is trouble focusing.  Using the above example, it's hard to pay bills when music or the TV is blaring, dinner is boiling over, and the kids are tugging at your skirt.  It's time for some changes!  This may mean changing when or where you do the task.  It might be easier to pay the bills in the evening, after the children are in bed, or perhaps first thing in the morning.  You might work better at a desk instead of the kitchen table.  And for heaven's sake, turn off the TV!  If you must do something while the children are around (as opposed to squeezing all of your homemaking tasks into woefully-short naptimes), either give them something quiet to do or give them a way to help you.  Stuffing and stamping envelopes, or even just playing with a calculator, can make children feel important and let you get things done.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Bad Habits~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ah, habits.  I hate that word.  It conjures up all sorts of guilt and self-loathing.  We have all sorts of bad habits that keep us from being productive.  You throw the mail in a pile on the counter until it threatens to collapse on you.  You sit down to read your email "just for a minute" and suddenly realize it's lunchtime.  Yes, we have all sorts of bad habits and time wasters, and they've got to go!  The best way to get rid of a bad habit is to replace it with a good one.  It may be something you want to do gradually, or you might prefer to get it over with all at once.

For example, in the case of dealing with mail, you might want to get a basket to throw the mail in.  Then bring the basket to the couch in the evenings to go through it.  On the other hand, you might just want to force yourself to sort it before you ever put it down.  Put bills with your bill-paying kit, shred junk, and put mail to deal with in a folder or basket and jot a note down on your to-do list.

Let's say you're in the bad habit of getting up late in the mornings.  When you are roused to consciousness by your toddler jumping on your stomach (elbows and knees first, of course) or sneaking up to the bed and shouting "boo," it is not a good start to the day.  (Ask me how I know this.)  Well, it's time to replace that habit with a good one.  Set an alarm: I like to use the alarm function on my cell phone and keep it under my pillow (with the keypad lock on).  That way it doesn't bother my husband.  Make sure you've got something enjoyable and/or productive to do first thing, ideally the same thing every morning.  Have your quiet time with the Lord, get a head start on your housework, or do a Sudoku puzzle to wake you up.  The idea is to be excited about your morning.  Replacing a bad habit with a good one will help you be more productive "automatically."

You may also be in the habit of letting things pile up.  (I never do this...  Ahem.)  You forget about doing laundry until your husband doesn't have any underwear.  Dishes sit in the sink until you're out of glasses.  Housework gets put off until the Environmental Protection Agency calls.  It's so easy to let things go until they demand our attention right NOW, but that's hardly an enjoyable way to go about life.  Just ask my husband as he's trying to get dressed for work.

Obviously, the solution here is to keep things from becoming huge, unmanageable jobs.  Some things are best done a little at a time; what those things are is up to you.  You might decide to do one or two lauds of laundry a day, from start to finish, instead of trying to do it all every week or two.  Get in the habit of doing the dishes immediately after every meal.

One thing I like to do, although I admit I've gotten out of the habit lately, is to wipe down the bathroom each morning.  I take a disinfecting wipe or a rag and spray cleaner and quickly wipe down the sink and toilet.  When I take a shower, I bring in a washcloth and scrub the tub while I'm in there.  This takes me an extra five minutes a day, tops, but the benefits are great!  My bathroom is always clean and I never have to take an hour to scrub it because it's gotten really bad.  A little at a time goes a long way.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Go Get Something Done!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There are many more causes of procrastination, but right now, there are things I've put off doing for too long.  (I wasn't kidding about the underwear.)  Next time we'll deal with incorrect thinking and excuses.  I'll also be working on some fun forms and checklists for you to download that will hopefully make your life (and mine!) easier.  I hope you'll come back again to read the rest of the series.  If you'd like to subscribe to this feed, please click the Subscribe button on the left-hand side.

I'd welcome any comments you might have, as well as your own ideas for combating procrastination!

"Procrastination is the thief of time." -Edward Young, English Poet (1683-1765)


 Like what you see? Subscribe!

Tomorrow I will be posting the first in a three-part series on procrastination.

Yes, I see the irony in this announcement.

Until then, here's something fun to help you pass the time without doing anything productive:


 Like what you see? Subscribe!

Imagine, if you will, that you are in the ladies' restroom at a large bookstore.  Imagine further that there is another lady in the restroom as well, and that she happens to finish before you do.  Now, picture this lady passing her hands quickly under running water (three seconds, max) and then leaving the bathroom.

Three seconds.

No time for the water to get hot.  No time to dispense and lather up soap.  No time to scrub and rinse.  No time to kill any germs whatsoever.

And then she continues her shopping, picking up up books and putting them back on the shelves.

I witnessed this the other day.  Worse, there were actually two ladies in the restroom while I was there accompanying Chickpea.  They finished about a minute apart from each other, and both of them did the exact same thing.  I wanted to gag.

If I hadn't been inside a stall, I would have given each of them a Look.  Mind you, I don't dispense Looks lightly.  After all, we all make mistakes, myself included, and if everyone gave out looks to everyone who deserved it, we'd all get our faces stuck in ugly expressions.  (Just like my mom told me would happen!)

But both those women used the restroom and then didn't wash their hands.  It is nasty and gross and can spread disease.  I, personally, think that deserves a Look.

What do you think?  Have any of you seen someone do this?  What, if anything, did you do or say?  My husband, whose hand-washing is so thorough it would make a surgeon weep, says this behavior is all too common.  I shudder to think of it.


 Like what you see? Subscribe!

I posted yesterday about a Weekly Priority Planner I designed, but I don't think the thumbnail picture was enough to show what it is.  Basically, it's a planner sheet (for your home management binder, if you like) that lets you write in the day's top three tasks for each of five priorities: Christian, Wife, Mother, Homemaker, and Woman.  One week fits on two pages, and there is space below each day for notes.

If you're interested, it's a free PDF file, and you can get it here: Free Downloads.  (I've never done this before, so please let me know if there are any problems!)

UPDATE: You can also download a blank priority planner at the same link.  Use this one to fill in your own priorities.

 Like what you see? Subscribe!


Freezing Bread

I like to bake bread, but it's hard for the three of us to get through an entire loaf before it goes stale, especially since homemade bread doesn't last as long as store-bought.  But that's okay, because bread freezes incredibly well!

After the loaf of bread is completely cool, wrap it in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil.  You can pre-slice the bread, too, as long as you wrap it up well.  Then pop it in the freezer.  When you're ready to use it, let it thaw on the counter.  If you want to defrost it faster, remove the plastic wrap and put it in a slow oven for a while.  (For half a loaf, I usually have good luck with putting it in the oven and then preheating it to 350, then immediately turning it off.  Then just leave it in there until it's thawed.)

Then it's just a matter of not eating it all myself before dinner.


 Like what you see? Subscribe!

Have you ever felt like your actions were out of alignment with your priorities?  I'd say I feel that way, oh, I don't know...  all the time.

Supposedly, my priorities are, in order:
1. God
2. DangerBear
3. Chickpea
4. My Home
5 - 1,000,000. Other Stuff

However, if I were to list my priorities based on how I actually spend my time, they would probably look something like this:
1. Me
2. Myself
3. I
1,000,000. Everything and Everyone Else

I think the word "selfish" comes to mind right about now.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by all the things I want to do.  There are so many things I'm interested in and want to learn that I sometimes let my responsibilities fall by the wayside.  So I've decided to try something a little different.

Each day, I'll list the most important tasks for my most important priorities and I'll work through the list in order (as much as possible).  No reading magazines until I've read the Bible.  No organizing my computer bookmarks until I've done some organizing around the house.

I created a weekly template to help me do this, and I wanted to share it with you.  It looks like this (only the actual document is two pages):

UPDATE: I've just uploaded a blank version of the weekly priority planner.  You can find both versions on my downloads page.

 Like what you see? Subscribe!

Click above to join The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today, July 28, 2008...

Outside my window... are big, puffy, cotton ball clouds.  And birds that occasionally smack into the window.  =(

I am thinking...  about the toy tyrannosaurus rex my daughter has perched on top of my Bible.

I am thankful for... the new dishwasher that's being installed today!

From the kitchen... white bread and potato rosemary bread.

I am wearing... jeans and a pretty blue shirt with flowers.

I am creating... a blog.  I can't think of anything else I'm creating at the moment.

I am going... to the libary.  'Cuz having fun isn't hard when you have your library card.

I am reading... books about baking bread.

I am hoping... to win a ribbon at the state fair.

I am hearing... birds twittering outside.

Around the house... things are kind of messy.  I have to get the house ready for company!

One of my favorite things... DangerBear.  Okay, he's not a thing, but he's definitely my favorite.  =)

A few plans for the rest of the week... Um, cleaning, baking, more cleaning, generally going crazy.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing...

I generally have a black thumb, but several years ago I decided to plant flowers on our balcony.  My husband (and I) thought for sure I'd kill them.  The first bloom opened up while DangerBear was away on business, so I took a photo to prove it was alive.


 Like what you see? Subscribe!

Some time ago, while putzing around on the Internet, I came across a beautiful and inspiring picture.  At first I thought it was just pretty, but something kept bringing me back to it.  Every time I looked at it, I liked it even more.  It is called "The Standard."

"The Standard"
(If anyone can find this picture's source online, please let me know so I can link to the site.)

I absolutely love this picture, and when I create my home management binder, I will put it on the front cover.  For me, it neatly captures the kind of woman I want to be.  Unfortunately, I don't have any background information on the picture, but I imagine the woman to be the queen of a small kingdom.  Her husband is kept very busy with running the kingdom and protecting its borders, and she considers it her responsibility to help him in any way that she can.  But she doesn't pick up a sword to fight or try to take over the king's job of making laws and running government.  She helps her husband in distinctly feminine ways that, nonetheless, have great impact.

What is she doing?  She is sewing the "standard," the flag that represents her husband's kingdom.  The standard is meant to represent the king, his people, his castle, and his authority.  It is meant to welcome visitors and strike fear in the hearts of enemies.  And she is responsible for creating it!

She is a "behind the scenes" woman.  When the king and his men are marching off to battle, no one will wonder who made the flag under which they ride.  But they will be glad it's there!  In my mind, this woman is not thinking of how best to show off her talents to gain attention, but how best to use her talents to aid others, even though she likely won't get any credit.

I am also impressed with her work from a simply practical standpoint.  How much effort must have gone into that flag?  Designing it, weaving and dying the cloth, cutting out the pieces, and creating thousands and thousands of tiny stitches to bring it all together.  But she doesn't look as though she is dragged down by this work.  Her back is straight, her face peaceful.  She looks graceful and beautiful as she goes about her work with diligence.

That's the kind of woman I want to be.


 Like what you see? Subscribe!

"One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: 'Aren't you the Christ?  Save yourself and us!'

But the other criminal rebuked him.  'Don't you fear God,' he said, 'since you are under the same sentence?  We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.  But this man has done nothing wrong.'

Then he said, 'Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.'

Jesus answered him, 'I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.'"

-Luke 23:39-43

"But this man has done nothing wrong."  Usually when we say something like that- "I didn't do anything wrong!"- we don't mean it literally.  We may really mean something like, "I didn't do precisely what you are accusing me of."  But in regards to Jesus, it is literal.  He really, truly, did absolutely nothing wrong.  He never even thought sinful thoughts.  Never once gave into temptation.  And yet He was punished:

"Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, 'I find no basis for the charge against this man.'" -v.4

"'as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death.  Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.'" -v.15b-16

"'I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty.  Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.'" -v.22

Huh?  Pilate knew Jesus wasn't guilty of the charges, so...  he decides to punish Him.  Even though He didn't do anything.  Talk about injustice.  And God allowed it.  This injustice against Jesus brought justice for all of us.

Verses 39-43, I think, give a succinct picture of that Injustice for Justice.  We can either hate Jesus, or we can love Him.  We can mock Him or respect Him.  We deserve punishment; He doesn't, but He accepted the punishment anyway.  And if we ask for His mercy, He will grant it to us, and we will be with Him in paradise.


Yesterday was frustratingly busy.  I spent most of the day at DangerBear's office.  (I'm the unofficial office manager, even though I have no idea what I'm doing.)  I had to file withholding taxes and all that stuff, which I had never done before.  Rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's isn't what gets me; it's finding the right forms!  "Take line 6, add it to line 4, multiply it by line 8a, subtract line 43, spin around three times, and cluck like a chicken."  It's finally done, thank God, at least for this quarter.  I'm praying I didn't screw anything up.

Again, I didn't bake any bread, and I probably won't this weekend.  That's fine; I'll just bake as I have the time and whatever I end up with is great.  DangerBear actually likes my bread now.  (I think his exact words were along the lines of, "It actually tastes like bread now.")  So that makes me happy.  I also found out that baked bread freezes really well.  After it cools, I wrap it really well in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and pop it in the freezer.  I defrost it at room temperature, and I've also had good results with defrosting it in a slow oven, still wrapped in the foil (but not the plastic, obviously).

I'm enjoying writing these posts, although I don't think I'm a terribly good writer and I don't pretend my Bible reading notes are anything really deep.  I'm just writing about what's on my mind.  I saw on Google analytics that I've had some visitors, which is neat.  Actually, I logged on yesterday and it said I had something like 20 visitors the day before.  I was ridiculously excited until I realized that, like, 18 of them were me!

Priorities for today:
* Finish going through papers in living room
* Go through expanding file of papers
* Get through those inter-library loan books
* Have fun with DangerBear and Chickpea
* Don't think about taxes

I've been thinking through a daily planner template to help keep me on track.  Once I design it, I'll see if I can post it here for the 18 me, myself, and I's that visit.  In case all of me are interested.  Or something...

Lord, thank you so much for suffering injustice for our sake.  Thank you for accepting punishment that you didn't deserve so that I may join you in paradise.  Please forgive me for not playing with Chickpea enough yesterday.  Thank you that it's the weekend and that we can all spend some time together relaxing!  Please give us safe travels today, and I pray that I did DangerBear's taxes correctly.


 Like what you see? Subscribe!

"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.  And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."
-Luke 22:31-32

I don't know that this chapter of Luke details events in chronological order, but this verse occurs after the Last Supper and the argument between the disciples about who was greatest.  The thing that struck me most about this verse was the realization that Jesus prayed for his disciples.  I knew He prayed; I'd read the verses about Him going off alone to speak to God.  I guess I assumed He spent the entire time praying about the coming crucifixion.  But Jesus prayed for Peter.  Jesus knew what Satan wanted to do, and He knew that Peter would deny Him, and how awful Peter would feel afterwards.  And He prayed for Peter.

Why do we end our prayers with "In Jesus' name"?  Because Jesus is our intercessor!  He interceded on behalf of Peter and He does the same for us.  Isn't that awesome?  That verse made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, because I know that Jesus, my Lord and Savior and the beloved Son of God Himself, is praying for me!


Yesterday was Uno day; Chickpea and I played at least ten times, and she beat me at least eight.  And that's with me being able to see her cards.  When she was younger I used to let her win a lot, but lately I've been thinking she needs to learn to lose gracefully, so I've been trying to beat her.  Note the key word: Trying.  Maybe the Lord's trying to teach me to lose gracefully.  To a five year old.

She can also give me a good beating playing sword-fight.  Literally.  She has a wooden sword and a stiff foam sword that makes obnoxious noises, and she's always challenging us to a duel.  Well, I'm no fool.  I always say no.  That kid's vicious.  So yesterday she told me, "Aw, Mom!  I'll go easy on you because you're a woman."  She also refers to the action cards in Uno as weapons.

Unfortunately, I didn't do any baking yesterday.  I think at some point I'm going to run out of flour and butter, and maybe yeast.  I'm not sure if I'll be able to get some more (I've already gone through quite a bit of flour), so I might have to just stop when I run out.  Even if I don't win anything at the fair, at least my bread-making has greatly improved, which makes DangerBear happy.

Today's Priorities:
* Clean up the upstairs
* Clean out expanding file
* Bake bread for fair
* Go through inter-library loan books
* Pay personal bills
* Pay bills for DangerBear's business
* Defrost meat for today and tomorrow
* Go through papers in living room
* Fold laundry in dryer

Here's a nifty website that another, much more popular, blog (ZenHabits?) recommended: Now Do This

If you're ever overwhelmed by the length of your to-do list (which for me is only, like, every ten minutes), this website is about as simple as it gets.  Enter your list (preferably a short one) and it presents one task at a time.  Nifty.

Lord, help me learn to use my time wisely and to be diligent.  Give me the energy to do what needs to get done today, and the grace to do it with a cheerful heart.  Amen.
What is my beloved doing in my temple
as she works out her evil schemes with many?
Can consecrated meat avert your punishment?
When you engage in your wickedness,
then you rejoice.
-Jeremiah 11:15

Between moving, being generally busy, and sheer laziness, I've fallen embarrassingly behind on my Bible reading.  So today I finally cracked open my Bible and read Job 7-9 and Jeremiah 11.  The above verse caught my eye.  In "The Message" the consecrated meat is referred to as devising pious programs to save you from doom, and trying to become more religious.  And it reminded me of a few verses I had just read in Job:

What [the godless man] trusts in is fragile
what he relies on is a spider's web.

He leans on his web, but it gives way;
he clings to it, but it does not hold.
-Job 8:14-15

I think everyone trusts in something, whether it's karma, or salvation by works, or the belief that there is no afterlife..  But there's only one thing that won't fall away, and that's the grace of Jesus.

I'm the type of person that wants a simple checklist.  "Homeschool your kids, cook gourmet meals, and keep the house spotless and you'll be holy."  Of course, it doesn't work that way.  And when I think about it, I thank God that it doesn't!  Because every time I burned dinner or saw my vacuum collecting dust in the corner, I'd think, "I've blown it."  No matter what was on the checklist, I'd never be able to consistently live up to it.  Unless, maybe, the checklist went something like: Eat chocolate, sleep, and daydream.

Praise God that salvation is a gift and not a list of requirements and responsibilities!


This week has been a record Yahtzee week.  Chickpea and I played the other day, and she got two Yahtzee's (five of a kind).  Then yesterday afternoon, I got two Yahtzee's, and then when all of us played last night, I got another Yahtzee.  That's got to be some kind of a record.

I only baked one loaf of bread yesterday, but Chickpea and I baked cookies from one of her cookbooks.  They looked very pretty, and reminded me of the beach (sand, anyone?).

We ended up having breakfast for dinner last night, and I finally, finally managed to cook the potatoes correctly!  I've tried umpteen times to cook shredded hashbrowns, but I can never get it right.  I don't know; I guess I just have some sort of culinary block against them.  So I tried dicing the potatoes and cooking them in a little oil with salt and pepper, and they were quite tasty.  *does a little dance*

Today's Priorities:
* Play games with Chickpea.
* Bake for fair (and organize the freezer so everything fits).
* Check on credit card fiasco.
* Straighten up house.
* Defrost meat for dinner.
* Go through inter-library loan books.
* Pay some bills.
* Write out simple morning routine.

Lord, give me patience with Chickpea and energy to get ready for my in-laws' visit and the Fair.  Help me to not freak out when I find a bug in the house.  Give me a hunger for your Word and help me make the time to read it.  Please forgive me for my impatience and selfishness, and thank you for your grace.  Amen.


 Like what you see? Subscribe!

I'm getting a new dishwasher soon!  We moved into this house about a month ago, and the dishwasher was...  nearing its end.  It was loud and didn't sound quite right, and did a terrible job cleaning the dishes.  The other night in bed, DangerBear and I suddenly heard a horrible, loud grinding noise coming from downstairs.  We ran down; DangerBear was expecting to see something in flames, and I was expecting to see water on the floor, but we got off easy.  So the other day we picked out a nice, quiet model.  I'm very excited.  And I'm glad it decided to break now, and not in two weeks while my in-laws are visiting.

Which reminds me.  I have a ton to do to get ready!  The house isn't entirely unpacked, and what has been unpacked is generally in a mess.  Then there's the cleaning.  And the baking for the state fair.

High priorities for today:
* Clean kitchen, since it never got totally cleaned up from dinner last night. DONE
* Bake bread and freeze for the state fair. DONE (Though I only made one loaf.)
* Decide what's for dinner, since I forgot to defrost meat last night.  DONE (Breakfast for dinner!)
* Clean out refrigerator bins, because something leaked. DONE
* Clear up a credit card issue, because my bank is silly. DONE
* Take Chickpea to the park, because it's a nice day. DONE
* Clean up my house, because it looks like our closets sneezed
* Finish unpacking the office. ALMOST DONE (Yay!)

"The secret of joy in work is contained in one word- excellence.  To know how to do something well is to enjoy it." -Pearl S. Buck


 Like what you see? Subscribe!

Labels: 0 comments | | edit post
Hello, my name is Kate.  (Okay, that's not my real name.  I'll call it my Secret Identity.)

What a silly way to start a post.  I've never really been one for keeping a diary.  I always wanted to be the type to journal every day, and every so often I'd buy a pretty blank book and decide to keep a diary.  There was always, however, the problem of the first entry.  I felt like I ought to introduce myself (To whom?) and give a detailed summary of my life thus far.  Otherwise, how would anyone (Like who?) understand what I wrote about?  On the other hand, that detailed summary would take quite a long time to write, and there were other things I'd rather do.  So usually, I'd get about halfway through the first entry and then forget about it for six months.

Since I've already made it to the second entry, I'm doing a lot better than expected.

Still, though, some kind of background is necessary, so here it is:

I am a Christian homemaker in my 20s, living in Middle-of-Nowhere, USA with my husband (whom I'll call DangerBear) and my five-year-old daughter (Chickpea).  I didn't start this blog to gain a readership and spread my wisdom to the four corners of the earth.  Definitely not.  I started this blog to try and keep myself accountable in my quest to become a better Christian, wife, mother, and homemaker.  Hence, the title of this blog: "Which Proverbs 14:1 Woman?"

Proverbs 14:1-
"The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down."

So which Proverbs 14:1 woman am I?  Let's just say I have some construction work to do.


 Like what you see? Subscribe!

Labels: 3 comments | | edit post
Hello!  Hello!  Hello!

That would be this post echoing off into nowhere, as no one is reading this.  When I was in middle/high school, I wanted to have a webpage, but I didn't know what to put on it and didn't know who would ever read it.  I spent lots of time designing a fancy-pants site using FrontPage, but the content was, well, lacking.  And no one read it.

So here I am: Older, and presumably wiser.  Slightly.  And here is my blog.  I have a better idea of what I want to write about, but I have no idea if anyone will ever read it.  Ah, well.

On to business!  (In the next post...)


 Like what you see? Subscribe!

Labels: 0 comments | | edit post
Welcome, and thank you for stopping by!  My name is Kate, and I am a Christian homemaker living in a small town with my husband, DangerBear, and my six year old daughter, Chickpea.

Proverbs 14:1 says, "The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down."  I have been married for six years, and I often still feel as though I tear down two bricks for every one I cement in place.  As Christian women, we are called to build up our houses by being a helpmeet to our husbands, meeting the needs of our families and households, and obeying the Word of God.

Please join me in my quest to become the wise woman of Proverbs 14:1.

I hope you'll enjoy looking around and that you'll subscribe so you can automatically get updates (the link is on the right, in the sidebar).  I would also welcome comments on my posts and, if you like, you can email me.

Thanks very much, and I look forward to hearing from you!

 Like what you see? Subscribe!

This blog serves two purposes:

First, I enjoy the accountability it provides.  In my quest to "build up my house" like the wise woman of Proverbs 14:1, I set monthly goals for myself.  By sharing those goals, and my progress, with all of you, I am more motivated to persevere.  I truly enjoy reading your comments, as they always encourage me!  It is wonderful to hear from other women on the same journey, and also from women who've "been there, done that" and are willing to offer their advice and wisdom.

Second, I want to share the things I learn about godly living.  Not because I know so much, but because I get so excited when I find something that works!  There are so many different ways we can build up our house:
  • spending time with the Lord and His Word
  • learning to be a godly wife and mother
  • caring for the home
  • preparing meals
  • handwork, such as knitting, crochet, sewing, etc.
  • caring for ourselves (body and mind)
  • teaching our children
What a huge job we have!  It's so much easier and more enjoyable when we can fellowship with each other (even online) and share our collective knowledge.  I hope you'll leave comments with your own goals and ideas!

 Like what you see? Subscribe!

Below are some time management forms I had designed for myself at one time or another and wanted to share.  Feel free to use them for yourself.  I would like to ask that:
  • if you want to share any of these with someone else, that you'd refer them to my site.
  • you not remove the footer at the bottom of the documents with my blog name and link.
I'd love to hear your comments and suggestions!  I'll definitely be adding to this list, so you might want to subscribe so you'll know when there's a new one available.

Weekly Priority Planner
A two-page-per-week form to track the three most important tasks for each of five priorities: Christian, Wife, Mother, Homemaker, and Woman.  There's also space for notes at the bottom of each day.

Blank Weekly Priority Planner
This is the same as the Weekly Priority Planner, except you can fill in your own five priorities.

Four Page Per Week Planner
This planner, formatted for letter-sized paper, includes space for events, tasks, housework, dinner menu, and lots of other stuff.  Definitely for the detail-oriented.

 Like what you see? Subscribe!