Journaling My Christmas {Day 4}

taekwondo snowmanI remember the year I got a dollhouse.  My parents made it from scratch from a kit of some sort.  I must have been 9 or 10?  It was so amazingly cool!  Gingerbread trim, wallpaper inside.  It wasn’t the plastic, barbie type you see all over the place now. They had to stay up late at night and probably cuss a lot to assemble the thing but it dazzled me on Christmas morning.  Absolute perfection.

This had to have been 30-35 years ago and I have brought it with me through many life phases.  I still have it today, it’s my laundry room waiting for me to do something with it.  Some of the gingerbread trim fell off, there is no furniture and the wall paper screams “cusp of the 70s and 80s”.

I keep it though and I will restore it one of these days.  As a child I loved tiny things and miniatures.  I wanted to collect little bits of furniture and tiny dressed-up mice.  I think that love is still within me – a couple years ago I visited a new client and was in awe when I realized they were running a miniature shop.  I ooh and ahhed over their creations on display.  I also love the idea of fairy gardens – the potted gardens with little gazebos and tiny tea sets for fairies.

Writing this inspires me to look at how I can refurbish my old dollhouse. I’ll need to find parts, and figure out how to fix the broken pieces.  I am sure it will take some investment of cash and time, but what a wonderful way to revisit the loves of my childhood and the time my parents spent on a Christmas gift for me that year.

(Daily picture – taekwondo ornament, because we love TKD around here!)

Journaling My Christmas {Day 3}

002I normally like a low-key Christmas season – I prefer to keep the list of events I commit to kind of short.  I’m an introvert, which means I always feel better if I have time to recharge. This is twice as important to me during the holiday season.

However, every year it feels like way more events pop up than I originally expected and this is compounded by my kids being older and developing social lives of their own.  We have school stuff, church stuff, events for my work plus family and friends.

I try my best to keep in mind that it’s OK to pick and choose – it’s OK to say no to some of the events. They all look fun and I’d love to spend time with all these people but some years it’s just not possible!  Some are a must – we have to go see Santa at some point this month.  I look forward to our annual brunch at work and of course all the parties and pageants at school.

As much as I love all the festivities I also do my best to make time for quiet, unplanned time with my kids watching Christmas movies and eating buttery popcorn.

(The photo for the day is self explanatory, I think.)

Journaling My Christmas {Day 2}

060I remember the Christmas season being some how colder, crisper and brighter than it is today. Well, it’s stillcold a lot of the time (I don’t believe in global warming) but something seemed more vivid – the night stars were bright – cookies were cookier… huh?  I remember getting dressed to go to a party at my school, and how much I loved my lacy/velvet 70s dress.  Was it velvet?   I probably had white tights and Mary Janes because that’s how we rolled.  I remember cookies with those little silver beads on them – what are those called?

Somehow the smells seemed unique to the time – the scent of a fireplace fire (which I’d love to have now), maybe hot apple cider or simmering spices.  Frankincense and myrrh.

Funny how our mind can do a good job at remembering the fleeting details – the smells, the texture of the cookies and the feel of the cold night air, but the specifics are long gone.  Maybe it’s the impressions and feelings that matter for the long run.

(The picture above is a note that Ian left under the tree for Santa.)

 

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}

Manifesto

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

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

Filling
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

Instructions

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!