2 of My Favorite Magazines for a FANTASTIC Price!
I just got an e-mail about this and I wanted to share it with you. There are very few magazines I'll actually pay for, but "TEACH Magazine" and "Homeschool Enrichment Magazine" both make the cut. If you've never subscribed to them, you can take advantage of an awesome deal they're having:

That's such an awesome deal; I was so surprised to see it in my inbox, and more than a little disappointed when I realized it was only for new subscribers. I wanted to pass it on, though, because I highly recommend both of these magazines! The only catch: The deal ends tomorrow (Wednesday) at 12pm EST!

Here's a quick bit of info about each (from their websites):
  • TEACH: "TEACH Magazine will calm your spirit and soothe your soul with lovely pages filled with edifying encouragement, inspiration, and practical ideas in a 44-page quarterly Christian magazine for moms. Published quarterly, you will anxiously await it's arrival in you mailbox."
  • Homeschool Enrichment Magazine: "Want to add some flavor to your homeschool? Then you need Home School Enrichment Magazine! Each issue will encourage, inspire, equip and inform you so you can make sure your homeschool is everything it needs to be!"

Bonus! (I love bonuses!)
The first 100 people who take advantage of this deal will get a free eBook called "A Homeschooler's Guide to Getting Started: Simple Patterns for Successful Homeschooling."

This is so neat! Two of my very favorite magazines for only $12.97. That's for both, not each! The deal's only running until TOMORROW at noon Eastern time, so if you're interested, check it out!

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Vacuuming with a bag that isn't totally full really Works for Me. I realized how well it Works for Me when I neglected to change my vacuum bag for a Very Long Time. So long, in fact, that the vacuum started turning itself off when I tried to use it. So long that when I finally did empty the bag, I had to do it outside, because it was FULL. As in, dust backing up out of the bag and into the hose. Yeah.

Not to mention it was doing a terrible job cleaning my carpets. Vacuuming is so much more pleasant when your vacuum actually works. While you're changing the bag, you might also want to take a look at the beater bar. Chickpea and I both have very long hair, and an amazing amount of it ends up wound around the bar. Attack it with scissors, a seam ripper, or whatever sharp implement you have handy so you can avoid burning out the motor. (I've almost done that several times.)

You may now shake your heads in disdain. I can only hope my mother-in-law doesn't know I have a blog.

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It's Friday, which means it's time to take a look at our goals!  If you set goals for yourself, or would like to, check out this post for more info about Philippians 3:14 Fridays!

My Goals: A Little Frustrating

Daily Goals:
  • Breakfast/Vitamin/Water- Haven't missed it this week.
  • Dinner Prep/Cook Dinner- Only missed prep. once, though I'm trying to do it earlier in the day instead of after lunch.  As for cooking dinner, I missed that once this week.  My pot roast took longer to defrost than I expected, and we ended up going out.  I'm happy, though, with the meals I've made this week.
  • Bible- Missed it the last two days.  I've been really tired and kind of "gave up" a little bit, which really frustrates me.
  • 15 Min. Cleaning/Straighten Up/Clean Kitchen- Missed my fifteen minutes three times this week.  Missed straightening up and cleaning the kitchen for the last two days.  Ugh.
  • Chickpea Park or Activity- Did it every day.  Yay!

Weekly Goals:
  • Laundry- This past Monday, I did the laundry but not the ironing.  On Wednesday, I didn't do it at all.  This makes me very sad.  =(
  • Meal Plan- Still having fun with this.  I actually have my meals planned out until we leave for vacation in early May.
  • Schedule Playdate- I haven't done it yet today, but it's early.  Chickpea had a playdate at the park the other day, and as I mentioned on Twitter, I'm not very good at Freeze Tag.

  • Reading- Two books are finished, one is in progress.  The fourth, I've decided not to read this month.  I'm reading some library books instead, because those need to be returned at some point.
  • Organize Scrapbooking Stuff- Not done.
  • Seasonal Clothing Switch- Ditto.
  • Dinner Binder- I've made some really good progress, but I need to keep going.  I still have a bunch of recipes to type up, but I'm really excited about it.
  • Garden- We decided to make our "small-scale farm" 10x5 feet instead of 10x10 because pulling up grass is a pain in the neck.  It's almost done, though.  Someone also loaned us a roto-tiller, whatever that is.  I think it breaks up the soil or something.
  • Paper/Info Organization- Stalled on this a bit, but I've been doing some thinking about how I want certain things organized.  Like, should I use a wall calendar or my Moleskine notebook to keep track of events?  I like how the wall calendar is right in my face, but I can take my notebook with me everywhere, which is handy.

Overall, I've stalled a bit.  I've just been really tired the last couple of days.  I've also been kind of frustrated at work, because I'm trying to figure out how to get QuickBooks to do what I want it to do.  I'm going to have Qwerty written backwards on my forehead from whacking my head against the keyboard.

Anyhoo, I think if I could do my dinner prep early in the morning, then my day would go a lot smoother.  It would be easier to cook dinner and much faster to clean up afterwards.

How are you doing with your goals?  Enter the Mr. Linky below!

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Planning my week totally Works for Me, and I've come up with all sorts of forms over the last few years to help me do it.

This is something I designed and used for quite a while last year, and it's something I might go back to at some point.  It's a four-page-per-week planner formatted for letter-sized paper.  Below is some info about it.  If you're interested, you can download it for free!  (It's a PDF file.)

  • The first page has a row of squares to write in calendar events for the week.
  • Below that is a section called "Things To Do."  You can write in tasks in four categories.  I usually labeled the categories Homeschool, Blog/Computer, For DangerBear, and General Tasks.
  • The bottom of the first page has a place to record money spent, as well as lines for notes.
  • The following three pages are daily planners.  Each day contains room to record things like your Most Important Tasks, daily chores, menu, Scripture reading, and so on.  I used the daily "theme" to note the day's focus, like cleaning, baking, or laundry.  You could also decide to focus on a certain character quality each day.
  • There are daily sections for homeschool/children and blogging.  I realize not everyone has kids or a blog.  This is just something I designed for myself that I wanted to share.  If you can think of more general categories to replace them, I can probably create a new form and offer that as a download.
I'm always open to suggestions, so if you have some ideas for improving the planner, I'd love to hear them!

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I tend to procrastinate doing my 15 minutes of daily cleaning, and the other night was no exception.  It was late, DangerBear had gone to bed early, and I was tempted to skip the cleaning and go to bed.

Then I realized that decluttering or organizing would definitely count!  I set my timer and promptly starting organizing my pantry cabinet.  Here's what it looked like before:

Eek!  Open packages of food, stuff shoved in everywhere...  I had no idea what was in there.  Now, here's what it looked like after my timer started beeping:

Oh, it makes me so happy!  Every time I pass by, I feel compelled to open the cabinet door and gaze upon the organized neatness.  Ahhh.

Isn't it nifty what you can accomplish in fifteen minutes?  Try it!  Set a timer and do something, anything!  Vacuum a room, sweep the floor, declutter a drawer...  I guarantee you'll be glad you did.  =)

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Welcome to the third edition of Philippians 3:14 Friday!  I've been really excited to see others posting their goals, and everybody commenting on others' posts.  If you're interested in joining us, you can find out how here.

My April Goals: How I'm Doing

First, the daily/weekly goals:
  • Bible Reading- I've missed two days so far this month, and am partway through Acts.
  • Play Outside/Fun Activity with Chickpea- Missed it twice this month, but I'm now getting into the habit of taking her to the park most days; I'm really happy about that!
  • Set Up a Playdate Once a Week- Check!  She's had two playdates in the last two weeks.  Woohoo!
  • Take Vitamin and Drink 3 Glasses of Water- Haven't missed any days.  =)
  • Eat Breakfast- Only missed it once.  I've started getting into the habit of having a small bowl of cereal with Chickpea in the morning.
Homemaking goals:
  • Follow Monday/Wednesday Laundry Schedule- I only missed this past Monday.  I totally forgot it was laundry day until late afternoon, and I just couldn't get it done.  That's okay, though, because I caught up on Wednesday.
  • Weekly Meal Plan- Really having fun with this one!  I've been typing up my meal plans in a pretty script font and posting them on the frig.
  • Straighten Up & Clean Kitchen Before Bed- I've missed straightening up twice and cleaning the kitchen three times this month.  Not a big deal, though, I'm back on track now!
  • 15 Minutes Cleaning Each Weekday- I've been having a really hard time with this one, though I thought it would be pretty easy.  It's just something I tend to procrastinate.  I've missed it five times so far this month.
  • Prep Dinner Early in the Day- Having a hard time with this one, too, but mostly because DangerBear has asked me to spend more time at his business, so I'm trying to manage my time.  I've missed it seven times this month.  =(
  • Cook Dinner- Doing better with this than I thought I would.  I'm actually starting to enjoy cooking!  I've missed it four times out of 16, although two of them were DangerBear's choice.  I had dinner planned but he wanted to go out instead.  Making a well-rounded dinner 75% of the time is a HUGE improvement for me!
  • Organizing Papers/Information- I've been going through the magazines that have been accumulating, and I've started using a wall calendar to keep track of events.  This seems to work well for me because it's right in my face.  =)
  • Garden- Ugh.  We're about 1/4 of the way through digging up the grass.  It's a real pain in the neck.
  • Seasonal Clothing- Not done yet, as we're still having cool weather here.
  • Dinner Binder- Working on it, and I'm very excited!  I have the binder and dividers, and I'm typing up my entree recipes.  This will make cooking dinner so much easier because everything will be in one place.  When I finish it, I'll be sure to post photos!
  • Organize Scrapbooking Stuff- Um, haven't touched this one yet.
  • Reading- Just finished "Totally Organized."  I'm part of the way through "Taming the Paper Tiger at Home" and "How to Pray."
I feel like I've been slipping a little bit, although it's not as bad as I thought.  I've started working with DangerBear about 15 hours per week instead of 5, so it's a big adjustment.  Still, I'm definitely improving!  I really need to work on getting things done earlier in the day, instead of saving it all for the evening.

So what about you?  How are you doing with your goals?
Enter your info in the Mr. Linky below:

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My kitchen has a filtered water dispenser next to the sink.  The refrigerator at our previous house had a dispenser (inside the refrigerator, not on the outside of the door).  I love having the dispenser, but it takes 20-30 seconds to fill a drinking glass.  That's not too much time, but when I have to fill all the glasses while I'm trying to get dinner on the table, it's kind of a pain.

Enter the pitchers:

I got them for a couple of dollars at Walmart, filled them with filtered water, and keep them in the refrigerator.  Whenever anyone wants a glass of water, they pour it from a pitcher.  When one is empty, I fill it from the dispenser.

Now we always have plenty of chilled, filtered water handy!  Super simple, but it Works for Me.  =)

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This is a test post.  I'm trying to figure out why my latest post (about magazines) didn't update in my feed reader.
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At least, that seems to be my belief, considering the number of magazines I've accumulated:

Eek!  Look at them all!

Plus, there are two bins full of catalogs (homeschooling and otherwise).

Yikes.  Now, in my defense, I don't subscribe to all these magazines.  The vast majority of them were free, and I really enjoy reading magazines.  I didn't want to just throw them out because I knew there would be articles I'd want to keep.

So I'm going through a small pile each day, flipping through and tearing out articles of interest.  Here's how many are left now:

I'd say I'm about halfway done, which isn't bad for a week's work!  My new rule: New issues go on the coffee table, and I go through them at least once a week.  I used to stash them in a bin upstairs, so they were never handy when I wanted to read them.

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Chickpea: "I can't wait until tomorrow to open my presents!"
Me: "Now Chickpea, what is Easter really about?"
C: "Jesus dying on the cross."
Me: "And...?"
C: "Rising from the dead."
Me: "What 'present' do you get from Jesus?"
C: "Forgiveness."
Me: "Right.  And that's the best present of all!"
C: "Yes, that's number one...  But I do love those chocolate bunnies."


Praise God for sending His Son to die for us that we might be forgiven our sins!  (We can praise God for chocolate bunnies, too.)

Have a Blessed Easter!

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Welcome to the second edition of Philippians 3:14 Fridays!  If you're interested in participating, you can find more information here.

April Goals Update

Reading- I'm about halfway through three of the four books I wanted to read this month, but that's mostly because I started them at the end of March.  Actually, there are a lot more books I want to read this month.  I went a little crazy at the Big City library and there is now a big stack of books just begging to be read before the due date.  I can renew them twice, and of course, I can always check them out again another time.  We'll see.

Craft- No progress on this yet, but I did write out the steps I need to take.  That's always the first thing I do for a project.

Projects- I got out the things I need to create my dinner binder, and I'm pretty excited about it.  It should make meal planning much easier.  I've also continued to make progress organizing papers and information.  I'm refining the way I use my Post-It wall and my little whiteboard.

  • Laundry- Doing well with my laundry schedule.  I was tempted to go to bed last night with laundry still in the dryer, but I picked myself up and finished it.
  • Meal Planning- I'm having a lot of fun planning meals, because I started typing them up in a pretty script font and describing the dishes like a restaurant menu.  Then I post it on the refrigerator.  (Tonight's dinner: "Individual chicken pot pies with juicy poached chicken, potatoes, green beans, carrots, and corn.  Topped with a flaky buttermilk biscuit crust.")
  • Cleaning- I've kept up with the house and cleaning the kitchen before bed.  I was tempted last night to go to bed with dishes in the sink, but I knew I wouldn't want to wake up to a messy kitchen, so I washed them.
  • Dinner Prep/Cooking- I've made dinner all but two nights so far.  One night was planned, to celebrate Chickpea's good report card.  The other time, I had dinner planned, but DangerBear wanted to go out instead.  At first, I was a little bit annoyed because I wouldn't get my check mark, but then I got my priorities in order.  I cook dinner to make my husband happy.  If he wants to go out, then I should submit without complaint.  It's not like he'd have to twist my arm anyway!  =)

Daily Goals:
  • Bible- I've been reading daily.  Sometimes only a chapter or two, but every day.
  • Playing Outside/Playing With Chickpea/Setting Up Playdates- Doing very well with these.  We're getting into the habit of going to the park most days, and she had a playdate yesterday.
  • Health Goals- I've been taking my vitamin and drinking water, and I've actually had breakfast every day!  It's really weird and I don't particularly like it, but I'm getting used to it.

I've been feeling a little overwhelmed the last few days.  DangerBear has asked me to help with his business every day instead of twice a week, so it's really like a part-time job (except I can take Chickpea with me).  I'm trying to manage my time well, but I sometimes fall prey to time-wasters like watching movies.

I'm not going to give up, though!  I've set similar goals for myself many, many times in the past, and I've always failed.  I'd be determined to cook dinner every night, and after a week I couldn't do it anymore.  Now, though, I'm not only cooking decent meals, but I'm actually enjoying it.  I'm not arguing with myself about whether or not I should cook; I just do it.  I don't know why this time is different from the others, but it is.  I really, really want these goals to turn into habits!

So What About You?

How are you doing on your goals?

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A big thanks to everyone who entered my giveaway by revealing their best cooking and meal-planning tips!  You all had some great advice!  There were two winners, one chosen randomly and the other chosen based on my favorite advice.

Randomly-Chosen Winner: Megret @ "Muses of Megret"

Favorite Advice Winner: Summer @ "Sublime Happiness"

Congratulations, ladies!  I'll be sending out your devotional books this week.  =)  I hope to be able to hold more giveaways in the future.

Come back on Friday for the second week of Philippians 3:14 Fridays.  I hope you'll participate by telling us about your goals!

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Oh, how I love my kitchen timer!  As someone who is easily distracted (Ooh look, something shiny!) and doesn't have a good concept of time, my kitchen timer is a lifesaver.

Uses for my timer:
  • Track Dishes Cooking in the Oven
  • To Remind Me to Take Action (ex: "In two hours I need to add green beans to the slow cooker.")
  • Convince Me to Start Cleaning ("It's only fifteen minutes.")
  • Time-Outs (Sometimes I forget Chickpea's in time-out because it's so nice and quiet!)
  • Keep Laundry Moving
  • Make Sure I Don't Spend Too Much Time on the Computer
  • Keep Me From Working Too Long on One Project
  • To Race Myself ("Let's see if I can clean the kitchen in ten minutes.")
  • Making a Cup of Tea
  • To Tell Chickpea When It's Time for Bed
  • Multitasking (Task A for 15 Minutes, Task B for 10 Minutes, etc.)
DangerBear gave me my kitchen timer for our first Christmas after we were married.  It's been dropped a few times, and had to be taped back together.

Occasionally it beeps loudly and starts counting seconds, which it's not supposed to be able to do...  But I love my timer!

Check out more Works for Me Wednesdays.

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Just a reminder that tomorrow is the last day to enter the giveaway for one of two devotional journals!

To enter, leave a comment here with your meal planning or cooking tips.  The deadline is tomorrow (Wednesday) at noon Pacific time.  =)

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Today I wanted to explain my "current papers" folders, something I mentioned in some of my goals posts.  For months, I was having an insane amount of trouble keeping track of papers.  At first, they were all over the house and I could never find anything.  I then managed to contain them in a plastic dishpan (or two), but I still couldn't find anything without rifling through a twelve-inch stack of paper.

I realized that I didn't have nearly that much trouble at work.  (I help DangerBear part-time with his business.)  Why was that?  After much pondering, the little light bulb finally went on.  I used folders.

I don't know why I didn't think of it before, especially considering my love of office supplies.  I took fifteen minutes to set up my folders and have saved untold minutes since.

This little blue file crate sits on top of my desk.  In it are file folders to hold all current papers.  At least once a day, I gather any mail and other accumulated paper and sort it into the folders.  Mine are labeled:
  • Bills to Pay
  • Actionable
  • To File
  • DangerBear's Company (This one isn't in the picture.)
  • Five Fat Files (Articles and information of interest to me.)
  • Reference
  • Scrapbooking

Super simple.  I go through the folders at least once a week and take care of them.  Then the papers either get thrown out or filed in the household filing cabinet.  And I can rest easy knowing I'm not forgetting anything important.

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Welcome to the very first edition of a new blog carnival: Philippians 3:14 Friday!  You can see more info and find out how to participate here.  I do hope you'll post about your goals on your own blogs, and then sign the Mr. Linky.  =)

This Friday is April 3, so let's share our goals for the month of April.  If you set goals for yourself for March, share how you did!

My March Goals: Results

Reading: I finished all three of my books, including typing up my notes, and started reading a few others.

Craft: I finished my heart swatch.  I really enjoyed knitting it!

  • Papers- A big project for me was trying to organize the papers that were constantly threatening to bury me.  Amazingly, I've made a ton of progress.  The top of my desk used to be covered in papers, and I never knew what important items were mixed in with the junk.  Now, I have a simple file folder system to handle papers, and a system to keep track of tasks.  I'll share photos and talk more about these things in upcoming posts.
  • Garden Planning- Chickpea wants to plant a garden (excuse me, I mean a small-scale farm), and I knew absolutely nothing about gardening.  My goal was to read a few library books, take notes, and figure out what we had to do and what tools/supplies we needed.  I got it done.  That was the easy part.  Next we get to dig up a portion of the lawn.

Daily Goals:
  • Vitamin/Water- Took my vitamin every day, and only missed one day of drinking three glasses of water.  Drinking soda definitely makes it harder for me to meet that goal.
  • Straighten Up/Kitchen- I straightened up the house every day this month, and I only missed the kitchen twice.  Both times, though, the only thing I didn't do was unload the dishwasher.  There used to be times when I'd go to bed without cleaning up dinner at all, so this is a HUGE improvement!
  • Bible- My initial goal was to listen to an audio Bible while driving Chickpea to/from school, but there were several days she didn't have school.  She was off a week for spring break, she was sick for a few days, etc.  I ended up just reading my KJV, which I really enjoyed.  I started at Matthew and I'm about halfway through Luke.
  • Laundry- I did a good job sticking to my laundry schedule (clothes on Mondays, linens on Wednesdays).  I did miss it last Monday, because I wasn't feeling well, but I got most of it done.

My Goals for April

  • Organize my scrapbooking stuff (ie ephemera, digital photos) so I can start scrapbooking on the computer.
  • Continue organizing papers/information
  • Garden!
  • Switch the seasonal clothing
  • Create a "dinner binder" with all my dinner recipes, ideas for side dishes, etc.
  • Continue with my laundry schedule (Mondays and Wednesdays).
  • Plan my meals weekly.
  • Straighten up and clean the kitchen before bed.
  • Spend fifteen minutes cleaning each weekday.  (Finally, my bathroom will be clean!)
  • Do some dinner prep before lunch, and cook dinner each night (instead of going out to eat!).
Daily Goals:
  • Read the Bible daily.  I want to finish the New Testament by the end of the month.
  • Play outside with Chickpea for half an hour on non-school days.
  • Chickpea's Choice: Each afternoon, Chickpea can choose something fun for us to do together, whether it's a craft, game, or book.
  • Set up one playdate for Chickpea each week.  I'm not a very social person, so this has always been difficult for me.
  • Continue taking my vitamin and drinking three glasses of water.
  • Have breakfast.  And no, cookies don't count.
Yikes, that's a lot of goals.  Fortunately, many of them are very small goals.  For example, it takes me five seconds to take my vitamin.  Hopefully, these will slowly become habits, and I'll eventually be able to take them off my list because I'll do them automatically.

So what are your goals?  Post about them on your blog, and sign up below.  I hope you'll also visit other participants' posts and leave encouraging comments.  =)  If you have trouble with the Mr. Linky, please let me know, as I've never done this before!  You can leave a comment or email me.

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