Weekly Habit #1 – Reboot the dishwasher daily

Here’s our first habit!  Read the background here if you’re just joining:  52 Weekly Habits for a more organized life

Hand wash dishes


Tell the truth – how often do you look at the kitchen and say “Aaah, it’s not that bad.  That’s not a full load anyways… I’ll wait til tomorrow.”

Tomorrow comes and you realize it was probably 2 full loads and there are not enough hours in the day to run it and unload, run it and unload.  You never finish the second re-load, and the next day you have to pile breakfast dishes in the sink. Then you want to cook the yummy dinner that you thought about all day, but the pots and pans you need are dirty.  So there you are either handwashing dishes or calling the pizza delivery guy again.

Or is that just me?

This week’s habit is easy-ish for starters – reboot the dishwasher daily. Unload it in the morning and load it before bed. Or unload it while you cook dinner and run it before you leave for work in the morning.  Whatever works for you individually.  You’ll be happy for this habit during the holidays since dirty dishes tend to spawn at an increased rate.

Every single day, go out of your way to do this, even if you see dust bunnies that need swept and laundry to fold. Do your dishwasher first.

If it’s full, run it – if it’s mostly full, run it.  I’m not telling you to waste water and electricity, but if there’s only room for one dish and you’re a few hours from your next meal, you’ll be glad to ran it.  If it’s not full, then by all means wait – but make sure you’re not working with tunnel vision and ignoring a sink full of dishes.

Empty it at the first opportunity.  Make that easier by loading it in a way that makes sense.  Put all the same size plates together, point silverware the same direction.

If you don’t have a dishwasher all of this still applies.  Wash your dishes routinely – don’t let them get ahead of you.

Are you in?  If you are, comment here and update on your progress. Time yourself loading and unloading or washing and putting away and post the results here.  I bet the task does not take nearly as long as it feels like it will take.  Keep this up for a week and beyond – it will be a conscious decision at first but it will become easier and more natural over the coming weeks.

52 Weekly Habits for a less stressful, more organized life

What???  52 habits?  That’s a lot – it can’t be possible to develop that many habits in the course of a year – especially healthy helpful ones.  Actually, I do think it is possible to slowly change your habits and gain a more organized life.

What is a habit? It’s something that you do without thinking about – it’s subconscious, second nature, ingrained – whatever words you want to use.

You don’t make a list to lock the front door, or turn out lights at night, or turn off the stove.  It’s something you are so used to doing it happens without any thought or engagement… which explains why so many of us worry that we forgot to to turn off the stove or lock the front door!

I’ve tried many methods to find a good routine and mindset for keeping my house clean and decluttered.  I’ve tried online lists and apps, reminder systems, binders and notebooks with checklists – none of them really have clicked for me.  I work full time in addition to overseeing homework and taking the kids to activities, but some of the great lists and methods I have found really work best if you’re at home every day.

I also find that I tend toward an “OMG I must do all this and declutter all the things right away!!!” and burn out quickly because what I envision just isn’t sustainable.

A year from today, it will be December 1, 2014.  It will be that day whether or not I take steps toward building life-changing habits. I have 52 weeks – 365 days to find my way to a more organized home bit by bit.

I invite you to join me in this process, I will post a task a week and work toward making it a second-nature habit through repetition.  Below are links to the weekly habits.  Post a comment if you’re joining!

Journaling My Christmas {Day 1}


I love Christmas – it’s my favorite time of year and I look forward to it all year long!Christmas Manifesto

This year I will journal my Christmas – I will do my best to capture the moments each day and take time to really fully enjoy this amazing time of year.  I believe that even the most normal, mundane day is magical during Christmas.

I’ll share the funny things the children say and try to find something to make each day special for them – I remembered so many moments during  Christmas as a child and want theirs to feel the same.



Journaling My Christmas 2013

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is journaling my Christmas.  I started this when Alexander was about to turn 2 and I was pregnant with Ian. Some years I do better than others – last year I didn’t manage to journal at all. 🙁

I follow the prompts from Shimelle’s blog – Journal  Your Christmas 2013  Every  year she offers a daily prompt for journaling/scrapbooking/photography – whatever your medium of choice might be. Once you sign up for the class, you are subscribed for life.  That takes the pressure off – if you miss a year you know you can always try again next year!  The prompts run from December 1 through January 6 (12th night)

Some years I scrapbook – 1 year I tried digital scrapbooking.  This year I know how busy I will be so I am going to pop up a blog post a day and try to grab and post a picture or three a day.


Gluten free, nut-free Pumpkin pie bar

I am newly gluten free, as of the last 3 months or so. I’m still learning how to navigate a world without wheat, but I’m happy to be doing so.gluten free pumpkin bar

My older son has nut allergies, the kind we don’t want to mess with. A lot of the gluten free/primal recipes I find have nuts of some kind – especially pies and pumpkin related goodies. I see pecan or walnut crusts, almond flour creations – so many ingredients we just can’t have at my house.

I wanted to make a pumpkin pie-ish dessert for Thanksgiving but didn’t feel up to learning to make a gluten free pie crust. I just haven’t tackled pastry yet. I started searching for a good candidate but so many have the ingredients that are forbidden to us.

I finally found a recipe that sounded amazing but is not specifically gluten free. I realized I could adapt it, though and make something for me that is also safe for my son. Here is the original recipe and how I adapted it:

Pumpkin Pie Bars

Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie Bars

1 stick butter
15 gluten free graham crackers, crushed
1/3 cup sugar

1 8 oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 can canned pumpkin (NOT pie filling)
2.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Line a 13 x 9 baking pan with foil and spray with non-stick spray.
Start melting the butter while you prepare the graham cracker crumbs.
Crush the graham crackers – you can put them in a gallon ziploc and use a rolling pin, or use your food processor. Next time I’ll use the food processor, they are not quite as crumbly as traditional graham crackers so they required some muscle to crush by hand.

Prepare the crust: Blend the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar, and press into the bottom of the pan. Do not forget the non-stick spray like I did. Bake for 10 minutes, and allow to cool before adding the filling.

Prepare the filling: Blend the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth (use a stand or hand mixer). Add the eggs, mix until blended, then add the pumpkin, spices, and vanilla and mix again. You’ll need to scrape down the sides a couple times to make sure everything mixes well.

Pour the filling over the crust and bake for 25 minutes. Cool in the pan before cutting into bars.

You can make this ahead of time – the crust keeps well and does not get soggy or anything. The kids loved it!


Two cool free e-books

Both of these Kindle books are currently free on Amazon. I love knitting and I love paleo so I was happy to grab both of them. You don’t have to have a Kindle to read them (I don’t) – there are apps that allow you to read on your phone or on your PC.

Welcome to Our Home – Knit and Crochet Ideas from Red Heart

I can’t wait to read this one – I am transitioning my boys to a Paleo/Primal WOE and looking for any ideas to help with the change.

The Paleo Kid’s Christmas: 16 Holiday Classics So They Don’t Miss A Thing (Primal Gluten Free Kids Cookbook)

As of this post these books are free but please check the pricing before ordering as this could change at any time.

Going into the holidays gluten-free (Part 1)

For months I kept seeing references to the book Wheat Belly, and for months I kept avoiding the book like the plague.  I’ve been a believer in low carb for quite awhile but not so great at sticking to my intentions.  I had a feeling that once I read Wheat Belly it would be a life changer.

It totally was.

I learned a lot about today’s wheat (and grains in general) and the information presented in the book was enough to convince me to back away from the wheat once and for all.  I went a week without it starting in late August and was feeling pretty good, if a bit off-kilter from the novelty of it all.  When we had a Lunch-and-Learn at work that Friday, I decided a few pieces of pizza wouldn’t hurt.

They totally did.

I felt awful after I ate the pizza – bloated, sick to my stomach, tired and achy. I was so uncomfortable. I was shocked by how strong my reaction was.  I’ve done some reading on gluten since and it’s super clear that I have a gluten intolerance.   As long as I was eating wheat regularly I was able to tolerate it to some degree.  My symptoms were more chronic than acute, and could be explained away as age, or a bad day, or something else mundane.  As soon as I stopped it for a time, my body started to heal and rebelled at the re-introduction.

I’ve had small amounts of wheat twice since then, and both times felt miserable afterwards.

When I avoid wheat, I have more energy than before (which I need, because my 5 year old hates sleep). I am sure I would sleep better if small people in my house didn’t wake at least once a night. I don’t have the aches and pains that I had before – I don’t ever need advil.  I never, ever have that awful gross bloated groggy full feeling after meals.

I’m slowly losing weight.  I’m good with slow because I feel like any change that happens slowly will become easier to sustain.  I am not always low carb as I would like, but just not eating wheat makes a difference.

So now I’m reading Grain Brain and contemplating how to bring my gluten-free ways into the holiday season, with the cookies and baked goods and other traditional temptations.  I’m not really tempted – I’m not – but I need a strategy.

Homemade Chunky Applesauce

My CSA for this year is still going and I’ve been getting tons of apples every week. We haven’t been able to keep up with them and I started looking for applesauce recipes to use them up yesterday. My original thought was to make something in the crockpot but realized that it was too late in the day to get that project started.

I did find a stovetop recipe that seemed suitable, on my favorite food blog, of course:

Pioneer Woman Homemade Applesauce

I adapted her recipe as follows:

I had about 9 or 10 apples of different sizes and varieties. I peeled them (but not completely because my goal was not perfectly smooth applesauce)(plus I hate peeling apples). I cored and cut them into large pieces, and threw them into a large pot.

I didn’t have the lemon juice or apple juice her recipe called for so I used about a cup of water. Next time I’d probably stick to about 3/4 cup. I sprinkled enough cinnamon to cover the surface of the apples, and added 1/4 cup of Florida Crystals Demerara Cane Sugar.

I let everything simmer on medium for about 30-40 minutes, until the apples were soft.  I started checking them around the 20 minute mark.  Once they were soft, I removed from heat and used a potato masher on them until I was happy with the texture.

Loved it!  This made enough for about 4 bowls and was not overly sweet.


How I cut the cord

That is, how I got rid of cable for once and for all.

I’ve been thinking about doing this for ages and finally got up the nerve. I don’t know why I waited so long, the company I’ve been using has awful customer service!

I got fiber optic internet, which is $30 cheaper and 10-20x faster. No kidding.  As soon as it was installed, I called and cancelled my cable TV/internet plan.

Mom gave me a Roku for my birthday – it streams Netflix and Amazon (like the Wii) but offers tons more cool stuff as well.  It’s a tiny device and connects with an optional HDMI cable for high-def.  I haven’t even been able to play with it yet, because my children are obsessed  with it.

Then I got an $8 antenna.  Yes, antenna, just like the old days.  You can get cool, flat ones that you paint to blend in with your decor, but my research indicated that the cheaper option would work as well as the fancy ones in my case. I have no shame, it’s on my window sill for all the world to see! This gives me my network shows at no additional cost.  You plug it in to the same connector that the cable TV uses. After I set it up I scanned and found 24 digital channels. The picture is better with the antenna than it was with my old cable box.

I’m so glad I did this!!! My total monthly expense is now $58 for fiber optic + $9 for netflix. I don’t count the Amazon Prime because I would have that no matter what.