Monday, October 3, 2011

Task sheet printable

I have realized more and more how much of a list person I am. I'm a visual person, so seeing a list of things written down in a way my brain can easily understand it is huge for me. I've been using a menu planning sheet that has really been working well for me. It's located here, if you're interested in that. But the area of my life that really needed help was keeping my apartment clean on a daily basis. I don't enjoy cleaning and can feel very easily overwhelmed by everything that piles up and needs to be done, especially in the last year or so while I've been pregnant and then dealing with a toddler and a baby in the house in addition to working part time. Yesterday, I came up with a method that I'm excited about and thought I'd share it for anyone who is interested.

I created a sheet that organizes daily tasks for a whole month in an at-a-glance format. I can print one page out per month and put it on my fridge.

This sheet acts as a guideline for me. I won't necessarily do everything listed every day, but since it has check boxes, I can easily keep track of what I do accomplish and see what I maybe need to do first the next week if I didn't get to it the last week.

I originally created this in InDesign, but I recreated it in Word so anyone can download and use this easily.

Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sixth Annual Fall Feast

This Saturday I am hosting our sixth annual fall feast. It is a special dinner I like to give for my closest friends and family where they can come and eat a nice meal without having to worry about cooking it or paying for it. It’s a small thing, but it’s something tangible I can do to express love to them.

This year, I am making braised beef short ribs, mashed potatoes, polenta, acorn squash, roasted asparagus, and pumpkin cheesecake.

Interestingly, when I called Cub to see about the short ribs, the butcher told me they haven’t sold beef short ribs since sometime last year, and he also said most Twin Cities grocery stores don’t carry them. That got me nervous. But after calling around to a couple other places, I found that the “nicer” or more specialty stores do carry them. Lunds/Byerly’s does, but they cost quite a bit more (almost double) than where I have ultimately decided to buy them: Widmer’s in St. Paul. The butcher I talked to was very knowledgeable and the price was right at $4.99/lb. He said he’d cut them how I wanted when I go and pick them up. Great service.

Here is the recipe I’m planning to use (scroll down for the recipe): I’m making the ribs gluten free by using rice flour for dredging the meat so my dear friend Jamie can eat a gluten free meal.

All of the recipes I’m using seem to be fairly simple, and that’s on purpose. I am 18 weeks pregnant and still not feeling the greatest, so I’m trying to make the meal a little simpler than usual. I am also using paper plates this year. They are nice looking and heavy duty, and I think they’ll hold up just fine. But that is 16 less plates to wash! I’ll probably do the same for dessert plates and save myself another 16 plates worth of dishes.

Here are links to the other recipes I’m using.

I’ve never made polenta before, and I may decide not to make it for the feast. I’ll see how the day goes.

Acorn Squash
I am trying to decide whether to make this recipe as is or modify it to make a squash puree instead.

Roasted Asparagus
Simple but, I’m sure, delicious. I love asparagus.

Pumpkin Cheesecake
I made this cheesecake one other time and it was very good. I will make a Maple Pecan drizzle to go over the top using the top commenter’s recipe. Yum.

I'll be posting details about the party next week, including a cost breakdown and how each recipe turned out!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Joy: Are you Filling it or Killing it?

I definitely struggle with being joyful sometimes. Check out this post on "Joy: are you filling it or killing it?" from my church's blog. I love the fun story Tahni shares at the beginning. That's the kind of mom I want to be! She also includes some practical tips for how to increase your joy. Check it out!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Taking the plunge: Part I

When I started this blog, one of the biggest desires of my heart was to live life in a simpler way -- a life that is more focused on what matters and less focused on what doesn't. We were recently put to the test and made life changing decisions with this end in mind. This will take a couple posts to tell. I hope you enjoy reading about our journey.

One of the largest areas contributing to stress and complication in our life -- and most people's lives, I think -- was money. Particularly, not having enough of it to pay our bills each month. When we had our son and we decided it was important for me to stay home part time with him, my income was cut in half. We had somewhat planned for that, but what we didn't plan on was that Matt's income would also be cut unexpectedly. He was cut back to 32 hours indefinitely, which ended up being for about 8 months, and that was a blow. At the time, we didn't have a very good handle on what we were spending versus what we were making each month. We had saved up some money before our son was born and had some padding in our checking account, but each month we saw it go down, and down, and down. It even continued to go down after Matt was back up to 40 hours per week. Through it all, though, we tithed, and God was faithful. Somehow we made it through, but not without a lot of stress and worry.

During this whole time, actually for a couple years, we had been trying to sell our house. At first it was just because I missed having a yard and garden, and we just wanted to have more space. Then it was because I hated how much we were paying for what we had -- we were spending more for our 2 BR 1.5 BA townhome than we could have for a 4 BR 2 BA single family home with a yard. And that really bothered me. During the first 2 years or so of looking at houses online, my price point was higher than it should have been. I was looking to pay as much as -- or slightly more -- than we were currently, but getting more house/land for the money. Not necessarily bad logic. However, God knew the big picture and I didn't, and I am so glad that we didn't end up going that route! If we had, I would not have had the flexibility to stay home part time, and our money situation would have been even more stressful than it already has been.

It has only been in the last year or so that my perspective has really started to change regarding housing and living expenses. Even though it was so hard and frustrating at the time, I am so thankful that our house did not sell in my time frame but in God's! It took about 2 1/2 years, but our house finally sold on April 30, 2010.

To be continued...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


I haven't been blogging much the past few months. Things have been so hectic with moving and getting settled that blogging has not been a top priority. I have, however, blogged the past two days in a row...just not on this blog! If you don't know, I have a second blog where I write specifically about kitchen-related things, mostly about homemade cooking. Check it out, if you like:

I will be blogging more here soon, as I start a new project of converting my cloth diapers from velcro to snaps! I just got my snaps and press in the mail today, so stay tuned.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Arizona the Beautiful

Well, we're back from Arizona. What an awesome trip! I didn't expect Arizona to be so mountainous and beautiful. I thought the Arizona desert would be dry, flat and sandy. I was pleasantly surprised!

We flew in Thursday morning (the 4th) to Phoenix and took a cab to my cousins' place just 5 miles south of the airport. We spent the afternoon lounging in the sun reading books on their patio and enjoyed some homemade Mac and Cheese and iced tea for lunch while we waited for Charity and Rick to get home from work.

Friday, Rick drove us up South Mountain overlooking Phoenix on one side and then up and around to the other side, which overlooks Ahwatukee. What a contrast! Then Charity took us to Papago Park, which had these really cool hills. We climbed one and enjoyed the view.

Saturday, Charity took us kayaking on Canyon Lake in the Tonto National Forest. That was really enjoyable. We found this little inlet and parked the kayak while we ate our lunch and hiked around. There was a rushing stream that we followed back quite a ways, and we were the only ones there. It was like we were discovering something no one else knew about (even though we knew that wasn't true). It was so nice to breathe in the crisp air and enjoy God's beautiful creation. Driving there and back was enjoyable as well -- the Tonto National Forest is gorgeous, especially the Superstition Mountains. That evening, we went out to eat at Rustler's Rooste, a cool cowboy style restaurant.We didn't leave hungry, that's for sure.

Sunday, we went to church with Charity -- Palm Valley Church -- and heard a great sermon about the End Times. Planning to listen to the full series online. Then Charity and I went shopping while Matt hung out at their place. We had Super Bowl apps for dinner and played some Uno. Good day.

Monday morning, we got up and left for Sedona in our rental car. We stopped for breakfast at Einstein Bros, one of Matt and my favorite things to do. Delicious, as usual. From there, we went to Cottonwood. Matt had agreed to stop and help a gift shop with some computer issues they were having, so we hung out there for a couple hours and then they took us out for lunch at a yummy Mexican restaurant. Great food. The shop owner also gave me a Woodwick candle. :)

From there, we took the scenic route to Sedona and drove along Oak Creek Canyon.. The red rocks of Sedona contrasted with the blue sky was so beautiful. We got out and parked and some nice women gave us their parking pass, good for the duration of our time there. What a blessing! We walked around the Oak Creek Canyon area and enjoyed the beautiful views and some moderate off-trail hiking. Glad I remembered to bring our tripod so we could get some nice pics of the two of us. After an hour or two in the Oak Creek Canyon area, we headed to our hotel. It was decent -- can't complain for $79. We went for dinner at a family-owned Italian Place just south of our hotel. We both had antipasto salad and meat & cheese ravioli with red sauce. Very good! At dinner, we were talking about our plans for the next day and decided to get up before sunrise (on vacation?!?) to hike up Cathedral Rock. What an experience. We both loved it -- this was the absolute highlight of our trip. It was the hardest hike I've ever done, with not much of a "trail" and a lot of hard spots to navigate. We were racing the sun to get to the top, so the first part of the hike was pretty exhausting. My heart was just pounding in my chest and I was out of breath. The first leg was the hardest terrain. It took about an hour to reach the top, and we made it in time to see the sun come over the top of the red rock in the distance. It was the most rewarding physical activity I've ever done -- simply amazing. The view was incredible, it was so serene, and we were completely alone. It was like we owned it. A memory I will cherish forever. The hike down was less intense from an aerobic perspective, but a little scarier because it was harder to grip the rocks going down. We made it though, with no injuries and a camera full of great memories.

We checked out of our hotel and headed toward the Grand Canyon. We were planning to go to Lava River Cave on the way up, but when we got to where the road was supposed to be, there was only a 3 foot tall snow bank! I guess they hadn't gotten around to plowing it, or maybe it's closed in the we continued on to the Grand Canyon. What an amazing sight! It was breathtaking. I teared up a bit when I first saw it. There are no words to describe its beauty. We spent about 2 1/2 hours there and toward the end, it got really hazy and actually began hailing! Thank goodness we got there when we did so we had a chance to see it before visibility became so low!

On the way back down to Phoenix, just southeast of the Grand Canyon about 10 miles, we stopped at a "scenic overlook" and saw another canyon. We don't know what the name of it is, but it was amazing too. It had a 1,000 ft sheer drop with only a guardrail. And we were along looking at it. To me, there is just something extra special about seeing something that isn't a typical "touristy" thing, but rather something you stumble upon yourself and experience alone. I love that!

We got back to Phoenix Tuesday evening in time for dinner with Charity and Rick, and we packed our things and headed to bed fairly early. Our flight was originally going to be at 4:30 in the afternoon the next day, but we were missing Evan so much we decided to try flying standby. It worked! We got home around 3:30 p.m. and Evan was waiting for us with my mom when we arrived. It was so good to see him -- it's crazy how much we missed him.

Matt and I had such a great time on this trip. The hike up Cathedral Rock inspired us to take up hiking as a regular hobby, so we'll be looking to do some hikes this year locally. If you have any suggestions, let me know!

Here is a link to the photos Matt uploaded to Facebook:

Not sure if you have to be friends with Matt to see it...


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Goodbye winter, hello sunshine!

Matt and I are headed to Phoenix early tomorrow morning for a long-overdue vacation. Evan will be staying with my parents for the week while Matt and I enjoy some hiking, kayaking, movie going, southwest eating, Grand Canyon gazing and cave exploring in Phoenix and the surrounding area.

We are going from 20 degree weather to 60-70 degree weather, and I cannot wait! See you next week...