So today is backwards day over at We Are That Family!  For this week's Works for Me Wednesday, I get to present a dilemma and ask for everyone's advice.  This comes at a perfect time for me because one of my goals for April is...

To Actually Cook Dinner!!

I'm a decent cook, in that I'm capable of making things DangerBear will eat.  I just don't particularly enjoy cooking, and getting started is definitely the hardest part.

I have two questions for all of you:
  1. How do you make cooking more enjoyable?
  2. What are your tips to planning meals and actually following through with your plan?
Give me your best tips and tricks!  You can even give me your second-best tips and tricks!  I'll take anything, just help me out!  If I can actually make dinner consistently for the month of April, I'll turn cartwheels on the front lawn.

Okay, not really.  But I will do a little dance (inside, where the neighbors can't see).

Now for the giveaway part!

I am giving away two devotional journals.  The first is called "Closer to my Husband" and the second is called "Closer to God."  Here are some links in case you want to take a look at them:

To enter, leave a comment with your cooking/meal planning tips.  One winner will be chosen at random from all the comments.  The other winner will be the one who leaves my favorite tip.  You have one week to enter; I'll choose the winners from those who comment before Wednesday, April 8 at noon (Pacific time, let's say).  Make sure you're signed in or somehow leave me a way to contact you if you win.  =)

(I'm sorry, but I can only do the giveaway for those who live in the continental US.)

I'm really looking forward to hearing what you all have to say!

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As I mentioned here, I was thinking of starting a goal-themed meme.  Several of you have said you'd be interested in participating, so here it is!

This Friday, April 3, will be the first week of Philippians 3:14 Fridays!  Below is information about the meme and how to participate.  I hope you'll decide to join!  =)


What is Philippians 3:14 Fridays?
It's a weekly blog carnival, hosted each Friday here at Which Proverbs 14:1 Woman, in which we share our weekly or monthly goals.  Its purpose is twofold: encouragement and accountability.  Everyone is encouraged to visit other participants' blogs to see how they're doing, and to leave comments.

Why Philippians 3:14?
Philippians 3:14 says, "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."  I chose this verse for two reasons: First, it's about persevering toward achieving a goal!  Second, it's a reminder that what we do, we do for Christ.  We set goals for ourselves because we want to be more like Christ; we want to hear Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"

How Do I Participate?
Simply post on your own blog each Friday about the goals you set for yourself.  They might be weekly or monthly goals, or anything you're trying to accomplish.  Write about your progress, tips and tricks your learning (for example, about getting organized), share pictures, whatever you'd like!

Then come on over here and put your info in the Mr. Linky form at the bottom of the current Philippians 3:14 Fridays post.

I'd like to ask that you do four things:
  1. Use your post's perma-link, and not your blog's main URL, in the Mr. Linky.  That way, others can easily find your post.
  2. Somewhere on your post, please link back to me at http://proverbs14-1.blogspot.com.
  3. You don't have to do this, but you're welcome to use the graphic you see at the top of this post.  If you'd like to use it, just right click on the image and save it to your computer.  Then you can use it in your own posts.
  4. Please leave a comment after signing the Mr. Linky.

What If I Don't Have a Blog?
That's okay!  Just leave a comment on my post about your goals instead of signing the Mr. Linky.

Do I Have to Type Out the Full Meme Name Each Time?!
Um, yeah, I guess "Philippians 3:14 Fridays" is a little long.  Maybe we can call it PhilFri?  Or...  I don't know.  I'm open to suggestions.  =)

Please email me if you have any questions or suggestions!  I'll probably update this post as needed, so I'm putting a link to it in my header.

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Note: I'm getting things set up to start hosting a weekly goals meme here every Friday.  If you'd like to participate, I plan on having the first one next week.  =)

The month is very nearly over, and here's how I'm doing on my March goals:


I finished my heart swatch!

I really enjoyed working on it, and it didn't take me very long.  I'm still figuring out the purl stitch in terms of where my fingers should go.  So now I can make anything, providing it's rectangular, doesn't have cables, and is only one color...

  • Papers/Organization- I've definitely accomplished this one!  It was a big, amorphous goal, but I feel like I've made a lot of progress.  The big things were setting up folders for current papers (like bills to pay) and my Post-It wall.  I'll write more later about the things I've been doing to get more organized.
  • Garden Planning- Almost finished.  I read through a few gardening books and took notes.  I also made lists of things we need to get.  All I need to do is write out a quick timeline of when things need to be planted.

Daily Goals:
  • Vitamin/Water- I've taken my multivitamin every day this month.  I've had my three glasses of water every day except yesterday.  As I mentioned on Twitter, soda is evil because it crowds out water.  Unfortunately, I really like soda.  =)
  • Straighten Up/Kitchen- Every day I've straightened up the house.  I love this because now I can get it picked up in ten minutes, instead of the 90 minutes it used to take!  As for cleaning the kitchen before bed, I only missed once.  I'll count it as half, though, because the only thing I didn't do was unload the dishwasher.
  • Bible- I had decent success with listening to the audio Bible in the car, but I started reading my little pocket KJV every day instead.  I'm really enjoying it!

I'm so very, very happy with the way things are going this month.  God willing, these goals will become habits and I can keep moving forward!

If you've managed to read to the end of this post, I'm impressed!  Be sure to come back next Friday for the first edition of a weekly goals meme.  We can all share our goals and progress, and encourage each other!

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Want to know something that's really been Working for Me?  It's accountability.  When I started posting about my monthly goals, I started being more consistent in achieving them.  I didn't want to report back here that I forgot about my goals after three days and totally blew it.  That would be embarrassing!

In the past, I've tried asking DangerBear to hold me accountable, but he doesn't have the time to hound me about whether I've cleaned the bathroom this week.  Posting here, however, has been very effective!  I guess there's just something about showing the world my dirty kitchen that motivates me to clean it up...

Are You Interested?
I know many of you set goals for yourselves.  Would anyone be interested in a goal-themed meme hosted here each week?  We could share our monthly goals and our weekly progress toward achieving those goals.  How great would it be to leave encouraging comments for other ladies, and to receive encouragement in return?

If you'd be interested in participating, leave me a comment.  If enough people want to do it, I'll figure out how to use Mr. Linky and get it set up.  =)

Check out more Works for Me Wednesday.

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I recently wrote about my Post-It task wall, and I wanted to explain how I've designed a system to keep track of the things I need to do.  (Organizing papers and information is one of my goals for the month.)  Basically, keeping track of my tasks requires three tools:
  • Notebook (for notes and running task list)
  • Post-It Notes (and a wall...)
  • Small Whiteboard (magnetic is a huge plus)
First, I always keep my notebook with me.  It's a Moleskine notebook with squared (graph paper) pages.  (Can I just tell you how much I love Moleskine notebooks?  So much so that both my parents and my in-laws got me some for Christmas.)

Anyway, I have a section in it for my running task list, and a section with my random notes (divided by date).  The squared pages came in handy for copying down a knitting chart.

Now for the fun part.  Here is a picture of my desk with the Post-It notes.  As you can see, I now have little "header" notes with the days of the week.

Each weekend, I take a look at my notes and running task list and decide what I want to accomplish during the coming week.  I'm not talking about recurring tasks, like taking out the trash; just one-time things.  Each task gets written on a Post-It note, along with an estimate of how long it will take to complete.

I then arrange the tasks under the days of the week.  I try not to have too many things for one day.  I'm also careful not to put several time-consuming tasks on the same day.  The Post-It note off to the side lists the projects I'm currently working on.

The great thing about this system is that you can move things around as needed.  If I'm short on time and don't get to everything, I can just move the remaining notes to the rest of the week.  Conversely, if I have some extra time, I can do tasks that I've scheduled for later in the week.  It's also easy to add tasks during the week, as things come up.

On top of all that, it's a lot of fun to watch the wall get emptier as the week goes on.  =)

I love this system, but I needed a little something extra.  My desk is upstairs, and I spend most of my time downstairs.  That's where my whiteboard comes in!  I found it on clearance at Staples for $2, which made me very happy, and it's magnetic, which made me even happier.

Each evening, I take my whiteboard upstairs and copy down the next day's tasks.  I'll also make a note of any projects I want to work on.  Then, the whiteboard goes on the refrigerator so I'm ready for the next day.  As tasks are completed, I erase them from the whiteboard.  When the whiteboard is empty, I have a party.  =D  The next time I wander upstairs, I take down any completed Post-It notes.

This system might sound a little redundant, and in a sense, it is.  I had to make it work for the way I think and how I spend my time (i.e. downstairs vs. upstairs).  I'm a very visual person, so having my tasks in front of me all day keeps me from forgetting them.  In addition, the fun of literally throwing away a completed task (or at least, the note) is a neat motivator for me.

I'd love to hear your ideas for keeping track of tasks and for planning out your day!

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Ultimate Blog Party 2009

From today until March 27, "5 Minutes for Mom" is hosting the Ultimate Blog Party.  It's a great way to find other blogs, and there are prizes, too!  Definitely check it out!

For those of you who found your way over from the party's main site, welcome!

"The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down."  Which Proverbs 14:1 Woman is about building up our homes, one brick at a time.  Below are links to some of my previous posts.  I hope you'll check them out, leave comments, and subscribe!  (The subscription link is in the sidebar.)  You can also follow me on Twitter.

I hope you have fun looking around the site, and have fun at the party!  =D

Oh, and did I mention there are prizes?!  Here are my favorites:
  • Gift certificates to Amazon, Office Max, Target, Christian Book Distributors, Kohl's, Wendy's, or Old Navy
  • Monkey's Momma Surprise Box
  • Afternoon Tea in a Box
  • Yankee Candle Jar
  • Set of "Mommy Cards"

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For Today... March 16, 2009

Outside my window... sunny, lots of birds making noise

I am thinking... about everything I have to do today, and I'm excited about it!

From the learning rooms... reading Charlotte's Web and the Phantom Tollbooth

I am thankful for... file folders.  Yes, it's true.  I love them.

From the kitchen... homemade pizza!

I am wearing... black yoga pants, a pink tank top, and my favorite sweatshirt.  (Not exactly high style.)

I am reading... Praise Her in the Gates.

I am hoping... that I can manage to grow a garden this year.

I am creating... a pretty knitted square with a heart in the middle.

I am hearing... the shower running upstairs, Chickpea turning book pages, and the birds outside.

Around the house... laundry to do, and the carpets need vacuuming.

One of my favorite things... a fun weekend together as a family!

A few plans for the rest of the week... lots going on!  Garden planning, getting some things organized, bloggy stuff, and helping DangerBear at the building.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you... Chickpea's stuffed animals: Mr. Bear, The Owl, and Mr. Friendship Bear.  =)

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At fellowship time after church, Chickpea always makes a beeline for the cookies.  (Like she didn't just eat breakfast before church.)  Today they had tasty-looking spice muffins.  They smelled so good, I had to make some muffins myself:

The muffins themselves are a little plain, but after you bake them, you dip them in melted butter and in cinnamon-sugar.  Obviously, that would impart a lot of flavor!  I think next time I might add some more spice to the batter.

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This is what I saw when I opened up an order from eNasco.  Lots and lots of "Bit O Honey" wrappers.  Not individual wrappers, like someone ate a lot of candy.  Long strips of uncut wrappers, like you'd find on the manufacturing line.

I have to wonder: Why do they have rolls of candy wrappers?

Just something to ponder.

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"Home Sweet Home-School" by Sue Maakestad, wasn't on my original reading list, but I came across it at the library.  It was a quick read, and I got some good tips from it.

I think my favorite idea from the book was to have an end-of-quarter (or year) celebration of homeschool.  Have a little party with family, make a special meal or snacks, and decorate with the fruits of your homeschool labor.  Display their best work on the walls, and have a recital or performance.  The children can recite Bible verses or passages they've memorized, solve oral math problems, play a piece on an instrument, and so on.

I thought this would be a really great way to show family (including dad) what you've been doing with homeschool.

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There are so many ways in which I want to change and improve, and so many different areas of my life that need care and attention.  Sometimes I feel totally overwhelmed.  How can I ever get anywhere close to the Proverbs 31 Woman?

Of course, the Proverbs 31 woman is a standard of perfection.  We are to strive to be like her, and to be like Jesus, but it's the journey that's important here.  As sinners, we'll never attain perfection, but we can grow and mature!

That's why I love the analogy of Proverbs 14:1-
"The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down."

When I think of this verse, I imagine a woman literally building a house, one brick at a time.  That's when I come out of my overwhelmed fog and think, "I can do one brick at a time!"

I pick one thing, something that will have a big impact on my life and my family's lives.  For example, one of my goals for this month is to clean the kitchen before I go to bed.  It's something I've struggled with since I got married.  When I wake up to a clean kitchen, though, it tends to stay pretty clean.  That makes it easier to prepare and serve meals, and I'm also more likely to do a fun baking project.  Cleaning up after meals is a snap, because the dishwasher is already empty.  And DangerBear certainly can't complain about a nice-looking kitchen!

That one change has so many benefits.

Building up my house, one brick at a time, really works for me!

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I like to make pizza for dinner on Friday nights and pizza dough freezes very well.  The other day, I made enough dough for eight pizzas and I put them in the refrigerator overnight to retard.  I had neatly wrapped each ball of dough in plastic wrap.  Unfortunately, I neglected to consider the fact that the dough would expand considerably:

Lovely.  DangerBear took one look at that and wondered if he should be scared to eat my pizza.  The dough burst through the plastic wrap and oozed all over the place.

When I rewrapped them, I made sure to leave plenty of room!

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My tip for today is really simple, but for me it was an "Aha!" moment.

I had gotten into the habit of using an antibacterial spray and paper towels every time I wiped down the kitchen counters.  At over three dollars per (small) bottle, plus paper towels, this was costing a decent amount of money.

A few months ago, I picked up a plastic spray bottle at Walmart and filled it with water and a squirt of dish soap.  Give it a little shake, and you're good to go!  I still get the convenience of a spray cleaner, but much cheaper.  I also stopped using paper towels and started using rags instead.

Now, the only time I use antibacterial cleaner is when I've been working with raw meat.

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...because they're bite-size!

I took my standard brownie recipe and divided it into mini muffin cups.  What would normally make an 8x8 pan of thick brownies made about three dozen brownie bites.

They're so cute I just want to eat them up!

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For Today... March 9, 2009

Outside my window... it's chilly and windy.  A nice change from the rain we've gotten over the last two days, though.

I am thinking... about ways to get more organized!

From the learning rooms... coming up with ideas to make sure Chickpea has plenty of playtime with other kids.

I am thankful for... my red dishpan.

From the kitchen... cinnamon muffins, pizza dough, and pepperoni bread.

I am wearing... my not-favorite jeans, and a 3/4-sleeve cable-knit sweater.

I am reading... a lot of books, and a whole lot of blogs!

I am hoping... that I can achieve my goals this month.

I am creating... a simple knitted square.  At least, I'm trying to create it!

I am hearing... Chickpea talking non-stop about doing taxes.  DangerBear gave her some blank IRS forms, and she's trying to fill them out and work out all the numbers.  Right now she's asking me where the tax tables are, as referenced in line six.  Um... no idea.

Around the house... keeping up with the laundry, and trying to get caught up with the ironing.

One of my favorite things... my laptop!

A few plans for the rest of the week... work at DangerBear's business, continue working on my goals, get going on garden research.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you... the gorgeous sheets my mom gave Chickpea for Christmas.  Oh, how I love Pottery Barn bedding!

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The weather yesterday was absolutely gorgeous: Seventy degrees, sunny, and breezy!  Ah, Spring!  Chickpea and I took the opportunity to play outside without wearing coats.

After a while, I went back inside to work in the kitchen, and I let her play outside the front door.  After a while, she came in and asked for a drink of water.  I gave her one, and she took the cup outside with her.  A few minutes later, she came in and asked for more.  And a few minutes later, she asked for even more.  At this point, I'm thinking she's either going to wet her pants or she's up to something.  I peek out the front door and see:

You can't tell from the photo, but the bucket is filled with water.

It is, apparently, a well.  Except the water comes from my water pitcher instead of from the ground.  A reverse well, I guess.  I especially love the rocks arranged at the bottom.

No doubt about it, the child has a thing for sticks and rocks.  Add some string and a little scotch tape, and who knows what she'll come up with?

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About a month ago, I started a new laundry routine that I hoped would help me keep it up-to-date, as I was constantly falling behind.  Just days after starting that routine, something went wrong with the washing machine.  It didn't take long to fix, but it totally threw me off, and I ended up abandoning the routine.  I couldn't help but think that maybe Satan didn't want me to achieve my goals of becoming a better wife and homemaker and so threw a wrench into my plans.

Fast forward to last night.  One of my March goals is to go to bed with a clean kitchen.  That means wiping down the counters, putting away any dishes that were hand-washed, etc.  It also includes running the dishwasher right after dinner and unloading it before I go to bed.  Waking up to a clean kitchen and empty dishwasher makes it so much easier for me to keep the kitchen clean throughout the day.

Amazingly enough, I've achieved my goal every day of the month!  (Alright, I know it's still the beginning of the month, but still.)  Anyway, things were going smoothly, until... (cue dramatic music)...

I was nearly done cleaning up after dinner last night and started draining the water from one half of my double sink.  I heard a bad, splashy sort of sound.  I looked in the cabinet under the sink and, lo and behold, there was water pouring out of the pipe!  I quickly plugged the drain and ran to DangerBear for help.

Apparently, the plumber didn't see the need to actually connect two of the pipes under the sink.  They just sort of sit together.  Normally, it worked fine.  It seems, though, that there's a clog and since the water can't continue down the pipe, it comes out and pours into my cabinet.  Sheesh.

So this morning I took the remaining water out of the sink and took out a red dishpan I'd been using to organize things in the office.  The kitchen is clean, and no matter how long it takes to get it fixed, I will clean my kitchen every night!

I know it's a small thing, and in the grand scheme of life, dirty dishes isn't a big deal.  Still, DangerBear has told me that he really appreciates coming home to a clean house and kitchen.  So whether this is Satan trying to discourage me, the Lord testing me, or just plain bad luck, I'm gonna keep going!  So there.

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One of my goals for this month is to find a better system of dealing with papers.  Keeping track of tasks is one part of that, and I decided to tackle it first!

This is something I just started doing yesterday, but it's been working so well that I wanted to post about it.

I still have a master task list, but I needed a better way to keep track of the things I wanted to do each day.  I picked a few high-priority tasks, wrote each one on a Post-It note, and stuck them to the wall behind my desk:

(Please excuse the chipped paint!)

Now I can easily see what needs to be done today.  It's also easy to add tasks as things come up during the day.  Finally, if I don't get a particular task done, there's no need to re-write it on the next day's list.  I simply leave the Post-It note on the wall.

It's also really satisfying when I complete a task, because I get to crumple up the note and throw it away!

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