Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Day!

I feel like it should be a holiday or something - after all, this day only comes around once every four years. Instead, I'm off to work as usual and even get to start the day with an early morning meeting. At least that way I get it over with sooner and can get on with the rest of my day.

Enjoy your leap day everyone!

Yay! It's Friday

And why am I so excited about Friday? Not only does it mean that the weekend is almost here & that's always nice, but most importantly this week it means:

my sweetie gets home tonight!

He's been gone since Monday. I know, anyone with a spouse who travels extensively or is deployed for months at a time is laughing at me, but still. It was a long week and I missed him. I'm not sleeping well without him home, so I'm also looking forward to more restful sleep.

Growing up, I laughed at my dad because he used to say that he couldn't sleep when my mom wasn't there. Now I understand. I've turned out the same way.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

This Makes No Sense To Me

Since L is out of town this week, I figured that would mean I'd have extra time to get stuff done around the house; after all, I would have that evening time I usually spend with him now open and available for other projects.

You can guess where this is going, can't you?

Monday I got a HUGE amount done with cleaning the bedroom - washed all the bedding, thoroughly vacuumed everything but the curtains. It took a lot of effort, and kept me up way past my bedtime but I was thrilled to have the bedroom so close to being completely finished. I also did some prep work for dinner Tuesday, and even read some while waiting for my sheets to dry so I could make the bed and go to sleep.

Tuesday I got some work down in the kitchen, and managed to fix myself dinner and clean up fairly well after dinner. I won't call it a thorough cleaning, but it wasn't bad. But the next thing I knew it was 11:00 and I really wanted to be in bed by 10 since I was so tired from the night before. I didn't spent much time on the computer, I read a little bit but nothing extreme. The hours between 8 & 11 vanished.

Wednesday was another vanishing evening - I did my usual routine until 7:30 but then the next thing I knew it was 10:30 and I needed to be in bed already, and nothing really to show for it.

What is going on? Is it because L isn't around to give more structure to my evening? I honestly don't know, but tonight I'm going to find my timer and set it to go off every 30 minutes to alert me to the passing of time and also to make me aware of what I'm doing (or not doing).

I do have some progress to show for my days - the bedroom is looking really good, all the bedding from our recent house guests is washed and folded and mostly put away (two more trips upstairs should do it) and that was a mountain of bedding (3 visitors + a fairly cold house + lots of sickness = a pile of blankets to wash). My kitchen is also almost sparkling after a lot of effort Wednesday (the sad state of the floors means I can't call it sparkling), my dining room table is again visible, and about half of the downstairs is even dusted. So why do I feel like I've done so little and could have done so much more with my time?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Work Thoughts and Updates

  • I am so far behind with some parts of my job it's not even funny. I keep thinking I'll have time to get caught up, and something else pops up.

  • Related to above, we've recently been given an absurdly sort deadline for an enormous project. So "catch up" time will be nonexistent for the next month. It really just makes me want to laugh it's so absurd. And frustrating too because the two people whose job it really is have yet to do anything with it. Sorry it's kind of vague, but I'm trying to retain some anonymity relating to my job situation

  • I caught some accounting-type issues that if they'd slipped through, would have made for a big headache next January when the time came to reconcile everything. Although I'm hoping I'm not there in January, whoever is won't have the headaches this would have otherwise caused. But it's so frustrating because it's just one person who is so sloppy with her paperwork that causes the issues. If she'd just slow down a little bit and be more careful, I would have saved at least a day and a half of detective work last month. This year at least I'm watching her paperwork closely so those things don't slip through. Or at least I'm trying.

  • On the whole possibly-quitting situation, due to us spending more than originally planned on our bathroom remodel, the plan is for me to keep working until August at least. We didn't go into debt or anything, we just pulled money from other sinking funds and especially raided our car replacement fund. We want to get it built back up. I may have already mentioned this, but I think I'm going to take an occasional day off too since whenever I do leave, I'd only be paid out for half of my banked time. So I'd much rather use the days up now! We have a trip planned in May that would use a chunk of time as well, and I used a depressing number of days last month and this month already due to being so ill (we just get a lump sum of days, and they are used for vacation, sick days, and holidays).

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Thankful Tuesday

  • I'm glad my internet connection is working again, especially since L is gone and he's the one who keeps our network running. If I hadn't been able to get it back I might have been internet-less until Friday.

  • L had a safe trip and even got an upgrade on his rental car. He's loving that!

  • Our bedroom is super close to being completely put to rights. This makes me incredibly happy. The biggest thing left is to either wash or at least vacuum the curtains. They are so dusty!

  • The weather looks like it's going to cooperate and we won't have any big snowstorms this week. I was hoping we wouldn't since I didn't want to have to worry about clearing the driveway. L takes good care of me usually and with him gone I might have had to shovel snow otherwise. Perish the thought! (Yes, I realize I'm spoiled.)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Making My Home a Haven

It's Monday, so that means another challenge by Crystal at Biblical Womanhood. Today is all about tackling a messy drawer.

This *generally* isn't a huge problem for me* - I usually have anything to do with clothes (storage, laundry, etc) under control. This is in part because I'm not that fussy about some things - I have two large drawers for socks, and they just get dumped into the drawer (darks in one, lights in another). If I cared about always having my socks perfectly matched up and folded in a row, this wouldn't work for me, but this works really well. Underwear is similar - I've got a drawer for it, and I don't really care if the drawer itself isn't perfectly tidy. My assigned drawer system has another benefit - limits on quantities. If my undie drawer gets hard to close, I know it's time to purge.

So, since straightening drawers isn't something I really needed to do today, I instead took care of what I did need to do, dresser-wise. I've slowly been getting our bedroom put to rights after the remodeling we experienced. It's been a slow process because the construction dust was EVERYWHERE and it's hard to remove. Today I tackled my dresser - the mirror top, surface and decorative drawer edging all required a lot of attention before I got them dust-free and shiny. All that was left was the bed, so I spent another 1/2 hour and polished it. After a thorough washing of all the bedding and even a detailed vacuum of the mattress, and our bedroom is just about done. What a fantastic feeling.

*I say generally because there have been times when everything seems to get out of control, no matter how smoothly it usually runs. I'm certainly not claiming to be anywhere close to perfect in any aspect of homemaking.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

The theme of this week's menu is "Meals my husband doesn't like." That's right, he's out of town all week so I'm fixing things I like but he's not crazy about. It also means I'm not cooking every night because I'll have leftovers to finish. I may end up swapping what day I make things on, but this is the general plan.

Monday - beef stroganoff. I love this, L hates it.

Tuesday - lentils and rice with carmelized onions. This is my version of the Lebanese dish mjaddarah. Again, I adore it and L barely tolerates it. I'm hoping there are cucumbers at the grocery store even though they're so out of season, because I especially like it with a side of cucumber salad, made with lots and lots of dill.

Wednesday - egg salad sandwich. Also made with lots and lots of dill. I really ought to grow dill the way I love it. L is not a fan of my egg salad.

Thursday - scalloped potatoes, and a frozen chicken patty & some sort of green vegetable. Ok, this is something that L does like, so if I think of something else that he doesn't like I'll probably swap it out, but I've been craving scalloped potatoes lately.

Friday - sherried tomato soup because it looks so good on the Pioneer Woman's site. Assuming his flight isn't delayed, L will be home tonight so something that will hold or reheat well is a good choice.

Saturday - spaghetti. Possibly my favorite meal of all time. And I'm not joking.

Sunday - beef in the slow cooker. I'm thinking pot roast.

For more menus, go to Organizing Junkie

Memory Verse

Psalm 32:8, New International Version

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Paper Confessions

I may have mentioned before my problem with paper items. I don't just mean mail or newspapers, because those I generally handle pretty well - it's only when we've been gone that those become a problem. My paper issues involve just about any other sort of paper that enters my house.

Specifically, where I struggle is:
  • Financial paperwork. I am paranoid that I'll need something. I've progressed to the point where I have a box of items that I'm about 99% sure I can shred. But that 1% is holding me back from actually shredding the box. Examples include: closed credit cards, old insurance policies, bills that have been paid for ages etc. This is probably the smallest of my paper problems - it's limited to about half of a box.

  • Cards. I *think* I've finally turned a corner on this one and am ready to pitch old cards - birthday, Christmas, anniversary, thank yous, sympathy, etc. I've put them all in a bag, just haven't gotten the bag into the trash. So far the only keepers are all the cards from my husband and one card (of any sort) from each significant person in my life. And a couple just because they either crack me up so much or there is something meaningful written in them.

  • School papers. Yes, school stuff. From Elementary school through masters degree. I've managed to pitch stuff from classes I hated (speech) or don't care about (all math courses). But that still leaves a LOT of classes. Too many history classes and theology and foreign languages and literature. And my masters degree - I'm not currently using it career-wise but what if I end up wanting to get a job in the field? Would it be helpful? Probably not, it's getting so dated. But it hurts to think of tossing it. I think I've got about 4 boxes of this sort.

  • Also on the school papers theme, just because it's similar in time is lots of random stuff from college - the school papers, notes from friends, and I don't even know what all. Enough to fill a banker's box & then some. College wasn't always the happiest time for me, so digging through that box doesn't really appeal. But would I someday wish that I had some mementos from those years if I just pitched the entire box? Oh, and school yearbooks too - high school and college. In so many ways I want to pitch them, but in another decade or two would I wish I had them to reminisce? Right now I can't see it - high school especially was not a real fun time, and college wasn't always much better, so reminiscing about those days doesn't seem like something I'll ever do. But I remember as a kid loving looking through my mom's old yearbooks - am I denying any possible kids the same pleasure?

  • Souvenirs & memorabilia. I have a HUGE problem with this. I have ticket stubs, tourist brochures, pictures, postcards, etc., etc., etc. from a lot of trips. I have managed to scrapbook *one* trip. Will I really scrapbook the other items? I have no idea. But my memory is so shoddy that having the tangible things are often the only way I remember what I've done and seen, so throwing those things away is especially difficult. I have no idea how many boxes of this stuff I have - 5 or more, and this is the category that just keeps growing.

I would LOVE suggestions if anyone has any. It really is my biggest homemaking challenge I think because things just get so crazy that I can't seem to face other things.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Semi-Snow Day

We've already gotten about 3 inches of snow (compared to the forecast of 1, maybe 2 inches) and the freshly-shoveled driveway is in danger of being covered again as the snow started falling again just after L finished clearing it.

I decided to take the day off; my whatever-it-was is lingering and being out in the cold makes it painful to breathe. If I didn't have such a hike from the parking lot into the building to get to work, I probably would have gone in but I just couldn't face it, which is why I'm calling it only a semi-snowday. It's snowy and I don't want to leave the house, although I certainly could if I HAD to.

Since I feel semi-ok as long as I'm not out in the cold, I'm trying to get some housekeeping type things accomplished today, but since it is only semi-ok, I'm following flylady's suggestion and only working for 15 minutes at a stretch. Then a 10-minute break, then another work session. So far I've got the downstairs bath cleaned (except for the floor) and stocked, a load of laundry started, trash gathered and out, more laundry gathered, the entryway tidied, and dishes gathered from around the house, newspapers and magazines recycled, and some general tidying downstairs.

Yes, it's lots of laundry because it's all the bedding from our houseguests; since they were all sick I do mean ALL the bedding, including blankets that don't usually get washed everytime someone visits). The nice thing about this stuff is there is no rush on getting it done; whatever I manage today is good, but I don't have to finish it in order to have clothes to wear tomorrow or anything.

This is one of my breaks, and the timer is about to ding telling me to get to work. I'm planning on updating because it helps keep me getting stuff done. Next up is a session in my closet.

I couldn't stop at just one session working on my closet; I got deep into it and accomplished a lot. Still have a lot to do, but I pulled out all the boxes of paperwork and have them in the guest room for easier sorting - I needed more space! I also pulled out a bunch of clothes and shoes to go to Goodwill. And finally, the extra stuff that was added to my closet due to the bathroom remodel is all restored so yay for that.

There is still plenty to do in there (like I said, it's a huge closet) but I'm feeling good about everything I managed to accomplish.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Thankful Tuesday

  • I am mostly recovered from being so sick last week. Antibiotics are a wonderful wonderful thing. I am so grateful to live in a time and place where they are available.

  • L is also on the road to recovery. He was much sicker than I am, and his antibiotics are giving him bad side effects so his recuperation has been slower than mine. He has to travel for work all next week though, so I'm praying he gets completely better soon.

  • Our houseguests are gone! We have peace and quiet in the house again, and I especially appreciated that after I was home from work one day because of being ill and they were working. It was not very conducive to resting and recuperating. Once they departed I could actually rest much more. They also had a safe trip home which was a relief since it's a very long drive and a good chunk of it was done in bad winter weather. Thank God for that!

  • Our bathroom is 98% done. Don't hold me accountable to exact statistics. What's left? Painting a couple of panels. The downstairs bathroom is basically done, and all that's left is cleaning it and stocking it (tp, extra towels). The guest bath is maybe 70% done. We need to replace the countertop & fixtures, paint the vanity, paint the walls, and seal the grout. The countertop and fixtures are waiting until L's brother returns in April (don't ask), but we need to paint and seal. Or seal and paint, I don't suppose we have to do it in any particular order. This will also involve picking out a paint color which is always a challenge for me.

  • I am so so so grateful that we have cable tv. When I was lying on the couch coughing and feeling generally miserable, it kept me somewhat sane, because daytime shows on non-cable channels are pathetic. Apologies to any who watch soaps and/or talk shows and/or courtroom shows. I can't stand any of them. Instead, I watched a lot of Food Network, HGTV & TLC.

  • I am even more grateful that my eyes have stopped bothering me enough so I can either wear my glasses or contacts again which means I can read again, and avoid tv altogether. I watched more last week than I usually watch in a couple of months, so I am very happy to be able to get back to my books (and blogs!) Yes, when I get sick it often involves watering eyes and/or sinus headaches to the point that I can't put in my contacts or bear the pressure of my glasses resting on my nose. It's one of the few times that I am jealous of people (like L) who doesn't use either. But it does make me more grateful that at least my vision is still good enough that I don't walk into walls or anything like some people I've known.

  • Finally, because it just can't be stressed enough, I am so thankful that I am getting better. I've had some years with major respiratory problems, so one week of illness, while difficult, is significantly better than months of problems like I've had in the not-too-distant past.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Making My Home a Haven

I missed last week's challenge because I was coming down with something. I didn't realize it on Monday, just knew then that trying to articulate our laundry system was beyond me. That probably should have clued me in because our system isn't that complicated. ;)

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that I'm glad to be participating again. I love the challenges posted on Biblical Womanhood.

This week is closet clean-up, which is absolutely perfect for me. Our bathroom remodel is basically done (more on that tomorrow) which means that the closet which had been holding everything from the bathroom can be put back in order. Yay for that because the closet is in dreadful shape from being stuffed with all those extra items. The floor is covered, I have bathroom supplies stashed just about everywhere, and any organization my clothes once had is long gone. And there might be a slight issue with papers (it's my storage area for old paperwork, such as tax returns, that I need to retain. But it's gotten super out of control, and I need to pare it down to just the items that need to be kept).

If I can get my computer to cooperate with pictures, I'll post a before and after. I'm not holding out a lot of hope however.

Updates to come, although it'll be awhile. I have to head off to work and then I'll tackle the closets when I return.

When I got home from work, instead of heading straight for the closet, I followed Crystal's advice from previous weeks and spent some time reading my Bible instead while having a drink. A few Psalms and some hot chocolate made a nice transition home after a tiring day at work.

While fixing dinner, I decided that my highest priority closet-wise wasn't my bedroom closet like I discussed this morning. Instead, it was my kitchen closet floor (a.k.a. my pantry floor). We'd had a water line to the fridge installed in preparation for the new fridge with automatic icemaker that we'll be getting sometime in, oh, 2013 perhaps. The installation process meant my brother-in-law had to remove everything from the pantry floor (which I would have gladly done if they'd told me it would need to be done), then he replaced everything. In whatever fashion was easiest for him because things were completely jumbled. My flour, which I use several times a week, was buried in the farthest corner, underneath some applesauce. Juice bottles were spread around in several places, well, you get the idea. I just needed some order. So I spent 10 minutes and got things back where I can access them more easily AND keep track of supply, rather than wondering just how much juice I have (as an example that happens frequently; L drinks juice daily and prefers the ready-made stuff in plastic bottles).

Before (two pics because some items were already pulled out from when I made dinner):


I realize it's still not fantastic or anything, but it's easily usable for me. And that's good enough.

And now, on to my closet. I figured I had twenty minutes to spend in my closet, so I picked the far left side and started in. My shoes were a jumble and there were random boxes scattered, as well as items for Goodwill and even some socks to throw away. Here it is before I started:

Twenty minutes later, here's that corner:

The empty spot on the top shoe rack is for the shoes I was wearing. I also spent some time rearranging some hanging clothes, but no pictures of that. Goodwill items in a pile ready to take, and trash is all thrown away. There's still a lot more work to do in that closet, but this is a start. :)

Menu Plan Monday

Last week's menu plan was mostly a bust due to me being sick most of the week - from Tuesday through Friday I cooked nothing. Saturday L & I managed to make chili mac, but just that simple meal wore me out. Sunday (yesterday) I made swiss steak in the slowcooker. This week I'm planning on easy stuff because I don't know how much energy I'll have.

Monday - leftovers. My weekend cooking pays off tonight!

Tuesday - minestrone soup. One of these weeks I will make this.

Wednesday - cream of mushroom casserole. Last week when I was so sick I spent a LOT of time on the couch, watching TV. Especially Food Network. I saw RR make this casserole and I cannot tell you how much I wanted it RIGHT THEN. I couldn't convince L to get off the couch, go to the store & buy mushrooms, and make it for me (perhaps because he was even sicker than I was) so it had to wait.

Thursday - sandwiches. See above, "easy stuff" for this week.

Friday - cheesy vegetable soup. No recipe for this because I make it up. Saute veggies in a combo of olive oil & butter. Add flour & cook for a minute or two. Add chicken broth & milk/half & half/whatever you have. Add cheese & stir until melted. Yummm! (Rice is good in this too and if I remember I like to add some.)

For more menus, go to Organizing Junkie!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Getting There...

And by "there" I mean healthy, not organized or the resident of a clean house or anything. But after last week, halfway healthy is a huge improvement. I actually feel like I may be able to get some projects done around the house this week. And do crazy things like cook dinner.

I've already got my Tuesday post half written. Let's just say it has a theme.

Memory Verse

Colossians 1:10, New International Version

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I guess I couldn't avoid it forever

Yeah, so remember my gratitude of last week that I'd managed to avoid the sickness that was running rampant throughout my house? The sinus infections & bronchitis that everyone else had?

Remember that?

Yeah, all I did was delay getting it, not avoid it. I am sick sick sick sick sick. Posting will resume when I feel better. Much better.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Thankful Tuesday

  • The remodel is almost finished.  
  • The remodelers are planning (hoping?) to leave Thursday.
  • I will soon be able to clean up my house.
Really, those three are so big, I can't even think of anything else.  

Monday, February 11, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Still have our houseguests, so just like last week I'm continuing to try to come up with fairly hearty meals that are at still semi-frugal. And last week's plan got changed a bit so yes, there are some repeats from last week.

Monday - White bean and chicken chili with cornbread. I base it from the recipe in Desperation Dinners.

Tuesday - Pizza. Or something else so long as it's not made by me. :) It's going to be a busy day for me so I'm not cooking.

Wednesday - I *think* it'll be a ground beef & rice skillet dish from Taste of Home. Unless I come up with something else that sounds tasty that uses about a pound of ground beef. Any suggestions? We just had meatloaf & mashed potatoes last Friday so I don't really want anything too similar to that.

Thursday - Chicken. Exact type to be determined. Perhaps chicken enchiladas? Right now nothing is sounding good so I'm having a harder time figuring out what I'll want to make.

Friday - Minestrone soup. Bread. Salad.

Saturday - The remodel should be finished I believe and I think the guys will be leaving. So we may go out as a final thank you for all their hard work. Or else I'll ask them what their favorite meal is & fix that. Or else I'll just fix my favorite meal, spaghetti.

Sunday - Slow-cooker day. Right now beef burgundy sounds good, but I'll probably decide Saturday or Sunday morning what I want.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Memory Verse

Hebrews 13:5, New International Version

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
"Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you."

Friday, February 8, 2008

Thought-Provoking Questions

I recently found a list of questions on the Girl Talk blog. Designed to encourage accountability and Christian fellowship among women, I thought they were great also for self-reflection. It gives me something to work towards, as I think about how I would answer some of the questions (truthfully, some of them I would answer I don't know. So maybe I should be able to answer.

The questions:

Describe your current practice of the spiritual disciplines.
  • Well, I'm working to get a better habit of prayer. I've fallen back into just having mostly on-the-run prayers as I think of them - as I'm going about my day I shoot up quick requests, praises, intercessions etc., but I don't have much of a dedicated prayer time. 
  • Quiet time & devotional reading I have every morning (and I do have brief prayer time then, but it's mixed in with the other stuff as well). I also read the day's devotional from the One Year NIV Devotional New Testament every evening just before bed. I love this as an evening devotional - it's primarily scripture, and the amount is just right at that time of day. 
  • I'm, well, I guess I'd call it talking myself into starting to fast. I have some hangups with it relating to my childhood/adolescence but I know it would be good for my spiritual growth. 
  • At the moment I can't think of any other spiritual disciplines. I'm sure I will as soon as I post this though. 

What is a passage of Scripture you have been meditating on recently?
I've got my weekly memory verses, but I can't say that I really meditate on any Scripture. I'm not actually sure what to do to meditate on scripture; I know that sounds silly, but there you have it. I've tried before but it ended up being me just reading the same verse or passage again and again, trying to think about it alone, but finding my mind wandering to anything else.

What fruit of the Spirit are you cultivating?
You know, I've never thought to specifically cultivate a fruit of the Spirit. But I do like that idea. The personal quality I had wanted to work on this year is discipline, and the way I mean it seems like I could call it self-control, so I would say that. I just never thought about it being a fruit of the Spirit.

What sin are you seeking to weaken?
Uh, yeah, transparency while blogging, right? I'm not sure what to call it exactly, besides the lack of self-control/no discipline. Specifically how it is manifested in what I eat, how I don't exercise, and my frequent laziness (sorry, no other word for it) when it comes to housework. It's frustrating, because I have very good self-control in some areas (financial for example) but why can't I translate that into other areas?

How can I pray for you?
Besides that I would grow in self-control? That we would either have a healthy child or we would find peace that parenting is not God's will for our lives. And actually, we had always hoped for 3 - 4 children so I am also needing to come to peace with the fact that based on my age, that possibility is growing more and more dim.

Here is an evidence of grace that I observe in your life.
Ok, this one doesn't really apply since this is where the accountability partner is supposed to answer.

How are you seeking to grow in expressing biblical femininity?
I have no idea how to answer this.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Remodeling Along

The bathroom continues on schedule (apparently; I never heard what the schedule was but they're pleased with the progress). The new vanity is in place, as are the dual medicine cabinets/mirrors. The shower is mostly tiled (still need to do the bench & shelves) and the tub is about 99% done. And by tub I mean the surround above it along the wall. Still to do is the wall between the tub and shower. And then I guess everything gets grouted, unless something else has to be done to it first. As you can tell, I'm not very aware of the specific details. But it looks great!

I think I've figured out part of what is giving me such difficulty with the process. I'm not the best housekeeper unfortunately, but our bedroom is virtually always in pristine condition. And about the only exceptions to that are due to illness or getting ready to travel or just returning from travel. And when traveling, it gets put back into shape within a day. And I didn't realize how much I counted on having something that truly is a haven. Even if my kitchen needs work, or my living room looks very lived in, I could go to the bedroom and see something peaceful and uncluttered. Except for now, when it is dusty and cluttered and furniture is pushed every which way, and dusty and we barely have a path to get to the bed, and did I mention it's dusty?

My haven is gone. And apparently I counted on it more than I realized.

So I'm counting down until the bedroom can be put to rights, and I'm trying to figure out if I can take any time off from work to devote to cleaning. I'm actually really looking forward to CLEANING. That may be a first.

I'm not sure why it makes a difference to my mental well-being to know what's bothering me, but it does, and I'm feeling significantly better than I was Monday.

Although I do know the real reason I'm feeling so much better than I was Monday. Prayer works.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


I'm new to even thinking about Lent, but I am getting more and more interested in the rhythm of the church calendar as followed by Lutherans, Episcopalians, Anglicans, and of course, Catholics. Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, and what I've decided to give up is what has become my unrestrained computer time. I don't want to go to no computer time at all; it's the primary way I stay in touch with friends and family, and I don't think it's a bad thing. I do think that I will greatly benefit from cutting it down. I'm giving myself a set amount of time for all computer work (with the exception of taxes & financial stuff; taxes will take longer than an hour and if I get into it I don't want to make myself stop those. But that's not exactly a big temptation for me like blog reading, writing, email, and general surfing can be. That's what I'm limiting).

But it's not just about taking away time, it's what I'm going to do with the time I will have. I have a Bible Study I want to work through, and that Holy Spirit correspondence course to finish. And I have a lot of work to do to put my house back in shape once the remodeling finishes. And, I want to firmly establish a habit of going to bed on time, following scripture reading and prayer.

That seems like a good way to spend 40 days.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Thankful Tuesday

  • The bathroom remodel is moving along. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it is.....dusty. Very very dusty. I am going to have to do so much cleaning when this is done. But the vanity and counter top are in and they look great, the floor is tiled (not yet grouted) and it looks great. The downstairs bath has a new toilet, countertop, vanity, and fixtures and they look great. It's actually closest to being done; it only needs to be painted and have the mirror hung and light fixture swapped out. 

  • We're actually right on budget for the remodel work which is amazing to me, especially when I picked out a pricier floor tile than had been budgeted for. I've made up for it with some of my other choices though and it wasn't that much more. This is a very good thing because although we're doing a lot of work, we certainly don't have an endless amount of money and we'd budgeted pretty carefully to know what we could do. 

  • So far I have managed to avoid the plague that has struck down everyone else in this house for at least a couple of days. And I'm telling myself that the headache I've had for several days is due to the construction noise and excessive amounts of dust in our house, certainly not a sign that I might also soon succumb to the flu that everyone else had. 

Monday, February 4, 2008

Making Your Home a Haven Challenge

It's Monday, so that means it's once again Crytstal's Making Your Home a Haven day. Today is especially for beginners too. I'm certainly feeling like a beginner today.

1) Refresh Your Spirit
Take five minutes, brew a cup of tea or coffee, and sit down and be still before the Lord. Pray, read a Psalm, thank the Lord for His goodness and blessing in your life.

Having a home that is a haven starts with an inner peace in our own hearts, a quiet resting in the Lord. You can have a beautifully decorated home with everything neat and orderly, but if you are frazzled and frustrated, your home will not be a peaceful place. After all, the saying is so true, "If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."

Done. This really helped today - it's been a stressful week with the houseguests and some additional issues with them I don't feel comfortable blogging about. Some hot chocolate and reading 1 Peter helped calm me.  If anyone is reading this, I could really use some prayers that they will finish soon and, most importantly, that they can all go home once they do.  

2) Take Time To Plan
Today's planning project is centered on a morning routine. Write down five things you want to do in the same order every morning. Keep it simple and only stick to five things. If five things seem overwhelming, start with three. Starting somewhere is better than not starting at all!

My morning routine was done before leaving for work, except for the bathroom. And once again, it's due to the remodeling work/houseguests - the master bath is still ripped out, and so there is nothing to clean. The guest bath is full of the guys' stuff and I'm near to deciding to quit trying to clean it until they leave. Finally, our downstairs half bath is also ripped out, and so once again there is nothing to clean. That's the positive way of looking at it anyway. ;) I *think* the half bath should be back tomorrow so I can clean it. It'll have a brand new toilet sink and mirror so that should be easier to keep clean than it was.

To review, my morning routine:
  • Dressed & ready for the day
  • Tidy a bathroom
  • Pray
  • Go over memory verse
  • 5 minute room rescue
  • Empty the dishwasher
  • Eat breakfast & take pills
  • Read daily devotionals
  • Read Bible passage(s)
I've been surprised in a way to see how routine my morning routine has become - I don't even have to look at the list anymore because I just go about what I've trained myself to do and it all gets done or else I very clearly notice that I'm missing something (typically the bathroom or room rescue is what gets cut). Following a routine like this is not something that comes naturally to me, and I think in a way it helps that it's morning and I don't even think about it being an option or not; it's just what I do to get out the door. I'm much better about my morning routine than my afternoon/evening routines; those seem to easily get ignored or shifted when things come up.

3) Do Something!
For those of you who have been following along with this series a bit longer: Today I encourage you to focus on cleaning your bathrooms. We'll be using baking soda and Basic H to scrub them from top to bottom. We'll also be washing the rugs, changing the towels, refilling the hand soap dispensers, and making sure there is plenty of toilet paper and other supplies.

Ok, ok, I can take a hint. I'll work on my guest bath & move their stuff in order to clean it well. In addition to that, I'll continue to follow my afternoon and evening routines. My afternoon routine is slightly different depending on the day of the week. Maybe that makes it harder for me to follow it so diligently like my morning routine? I'll have to think about this.

My routines seem especially out-of-kilter with the houseguests. I know, it seems like I'm blaming them for everything and I don't mean to, but they are changing things quite a bit compared to how I usually work. I'm having to go to the grocery store more often (multiple times a week) because I can't fit enough in the fridge to carry over. I usually shop only once a week and I NEVER make quick runs to the store to pick up something for dinner; I'll refigure what we have if I'm out. Because I'm having to cook so much more and I'm trying to make sure that I don't look stressed about it (otherwise L will just say to get takeout/pizza/etc and I know what that will do to our budget) it is changing how I usually shop and cook.  I had to go to the store again today to get some bread to go along with dinner. I don't have a reliable quick-bread recipe to fix to go along with the spaghetti, and if I don't serve bread with it they'll eat it all and then I'll be out of luck for lunch tomorrow and would have to scramble to figure something out for that.

And then just when I think I've got it planned and organized, something else comes up. When I got home today, wanting to get the baked spaghetti started etc., they've got the water shut off as they do some plumbing work. It's awfully hard to cook pasta with no water. And if they don't get the water back on reasonably soon then we may end up having pizza for dinner because it's getting later and later and we're running out of time for me to cook much of anything.

So anyway, I'm not feeling like my home is very haven-like.  I don't want to clean the bathrooms since I don't have any water and wouldn't be able to wash my hands after finishing.  I can't start dinner without water (again, no hand-washing is a problem even beyond the no water for boiling pasta).  I've tried to do some Bible study/coursework but the noise they're making is keeping me from concentrating (as is another pressing need that means I'm REALLY hoping they get the water back on soon if you know what I mean).  

I'm a little discouraged today.  My house is a disaster area and I don't feel like I can do anything about it until they finish their project.  And even once they do, we may have a very long-term houseguest as the one guy may not be able to return home for a few months.  I'm praying about it but I am struggling.

Menu Plan Monday

Still have our houseguests, so I'm continuing to try to come up with fairly hearty meals that are at least semi-frugal. Without burning us out on beans ever night or something.

Monday - Baked spaghetti. Recipe from Tammy's Recipes. It's goooood.

Tuesday - White bean and chicken chili with cornbread. I base it from the recipe in Desperation Dinners.

Wednesday - Mexican casserole. Or I may use the Mexican lasagna recipe from Desperation Dinners.

Thursday - Pizza. Or leftovers if there are any.

Friday - Shepherd's pie.

Saturday - Minestrone soup with bread of some sort. I'm still looking for a great minestrone soup recipe; I've used several, but none that made me say "this, this is the one I've been wanting."

Anyway, yeah, I realize that it might be better to not have Tuesday's & Wednesday's meals back-to-back, but I need a quick meal for Tuesday and that one is very easy. I might move up pizza night to Wednesday and have the casserole Thursday. Or I might not worry about it at all because I doubt the guys will.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Memory Verse

1 John 1:9, New International Version

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

February Goals

  1. Finish correspondence course!
  2. Pick up contacts
  3. Archive Quicken
  4. Backup Quicken & other computer data
  5. Hook up new printer
  6. Goodwill run
  7. Make 2008 files
  8. Return LE items
  9. January financials done
  10. Go over Jan financials & Feb budget with L
  11. Send family vacation pics
  12. Put bathroom back together once it's finished
  13. Put bedroom back together once bathroom is finished
  14. Decorate bathroom - get shower curtain, bath mats & new toothbrush holder.
  15. Burn disc for C with bathroom remodel photos
  16. Menu plan for month
  17. Clean out planner
  18. Tax stuff ready to go?
  19. Inventory bathroom, bedroom & closet
  20. Call or email A

& some specific cleaning tasks:
  1. vacuum bedroom
  2. dust bedroom
  3. clean bathroom floor
  4. clean tub
  5. clean baseboards
  6. wash curtains
  7. clean air filter
  8. clean out nightstands
  9. declutter dressers
  10. declutter closets
  11. dust ceiling fan
  12. dust air vents
  13. clean windows
  14. clean light switches
  15. clean windowsills
  16. wash bedding

That is a lot, isn't it? But the cleaning all desperately needs to be done because thanks to the remodel our bedroom is a dusty mess. My allergies need it to be dealt with asap.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Review of January's Goals

To recap, my goals for January. How did I do? Great on some of them, not-so-great on others.

  • FSA paperwork done
  • 2007 financials done & 2008 budget prepared
  • Bathroom plans not only sent, the bathroom remodel is well underway!
  • Filing is, believe it or not, about 98% caught up.  I just need to make 2008 files & I'd be 100% caught up.

Giving myself a pass:
  • The master bedroom/bathroom/closet work.  The bathroom remodel was unexpectedly moved up for when it would be done, so it stopped all other work in that area. It'll be finished this month and then I'll work on those goals, so they just got pushed back to February

Not successful at all:
  • Exercise.  I did it ONCE.  Bad bad bad bad bad.
  • Piano.  I did it more than once, but still not as much as I should.  And it's been really bad lately with the houseguests.
  • Correspondence course I wanted to finish?  Yeah, didn't even touch it.

But hey!  February is a new month and a chance for me to start fresh! 

Thoughts on 31 Days of Praying for My Husband

  • I really found it helpful to have a specific prayer focus for my husband for each day.
  • Unfortunately I found it becoming almost routine some days - I'd create the post, send up a quick prayer and that would be it. The first week or so I felt like I integrated the specifics into my overall prayers.
  • I did really like having the daily prayer posted on my blog however - I've gotten into a bit of a habit of viewing my blog from work as I eat lunch. I never post anything, but I've used the time to review my week's memory verse and the day's prayer. That was very beneficial - I especially like the way it brings my focus back on God and His Word during the work day. 
  • It made me appreciate my husband in specific ways, as I reflected on him and his character.  
  • I found it expanded into helping me think of specific prayers for other people - friends and family.