Starting Tomorrow…

ReadingAloudImage

My annual attempt at being a real blogger!

:-D

Honestly, though… Children’s literature has a Very Special Place in my heart, and I’m hoping to share a bit of the Who, What, When, Why, Where, and How of sharing great books with the children in your life! There are so many wonderful books for kids out there… Join us as we discuss them for the next 31 DAYS!

Multi-Tasking…

The idea of multi-tasking has always been a bit of a quandary to me.

To multi-task or not? That is the question.

Back in the 90’s, as a full-time Mama and homeschool teacher, I was constantly in pursuit of the “how to get it all done” goal, reading everything available by Emilie Barnes (who I dearly love, by the way) and The Sidetracked Home Executives (a.k.a. The Slob Sisters, who I secretly felt more akin to). I had thank you notes tucked in my purse for those fifteen minutes in the doctor’s waiting room and an hourly-daily-weekly-monthly-yearly plan on 3″ x 5″ cards. The first time I heard the “Put Your Rocks in the Jar” speech, I was taking notes about which size stones to put in first so I could squeeze in everything that had to be done. And then the punchline…

Put your rocks in first.

Wait, What?!?

That totally blew my mind.

Here I was, trying to schedule everything down to the minute to be more efficient, and someone had to burst my bubble by telling me there are Really Important Things that needed to be established in my daily routine before all the little mundane things choked them out. Of course I knew this deep down, but somewhere in the 90’s the be-all-you-can-be and the get-it-all-done-ness of life had taken over. The Rocks in the Jar speech set me on a new path. Thank goodness. I began to see the need to slow down, to live purposefully, to focus. There weren’t fancy names for this idea yet, no coined terms, but I did find a few signs to hang around the house that said “Simplify Simplify Simplify.” Sally Clarkson and Tasha Tudor and Karey Swan were my new mentors… and I still hung on to Emilie Barnes, who really was teaching the importance of balance between organized and calm in her books about “home.” (I was just clinging obsessively to the checklist chapters!) Yes, organization and efficiency was important, but it was the means to an end, not the sum of life. We need to be organized just a bit so we can get to the good stuff. And we need to make sure the good stuff has priority in our days. So, we pared down our outside activities to have more time as a family. Having it together and getting it all done evolved into a few simple routines. Daily schedules turned into “chunks of time” for home keeping, school work, read-aloud (a Very Big Chunk!), food prep, and project time. Life at home transitioned into a relatively peaceful existence for our girls’ school years.

However, the years since our girls finished homeschooling and flew the coop have been quite a change for us. With extra time on my hands and less dirt being tracked in, the “Now what?” quickly turned into overly full calendars. Craft shows and orders and college classes and volunteering took precedence over housework. Our schedule was crazy, because since we  weren’t tied to a schedule anymore we had more free time to fill. And fill, it did. With good things, but maybe not always the best. I was busy, busy, terribly busy (think Veggie Tales, you Moms from the 90’s) and I didn’t like it one bit. And so the quest began once again for peace and home and all things unhurried.

Since then, we have waxed and waned in our quest for a calm life since then, and some days we wonder if we’re headed in the right direction. (This summer, in particular!) Sometimes the house and the schedule are very full, but I do think we’re learning how to balance the hectic with the calm, and just go with the flow. And, it is so refreshing to see young moms seeking this same balance of living intentionally while embracing the craziness of little children. They are so open and honest with their insights on making a home for their families and appreciating this season of their lives. If you’d like a little inspiration or help, check out Mary Beth’s Steady Days posts, or Kate’s Get It Together posts, or Jordan’s Little Happy Things posts.

And… I’m still taking notes… from the young moms, who have fresh perspective
about simple ways of multi-tasking and establishing simple routines so when
life does get suddenly hectic the world (and the house!) doesn’t fall apart.

The Hole in my Floor, and other Sundry Items…

Many times when we’re doing a project, I forget to take “Before” pictures. Mostly because we jump right in and tear things apart before I remember to grab the camera, and sometimes because the “Before” is really not camera-worthy. At least it’s not a photo I’d like to put out on the internet for the world to see. However, sometimes we have a few “Mid-Remodel” pictures, where the worst of the dust has been swept away. This kitchen project is taking a while, so I snapped a couple of shots to share. First, let me present…

The Hole in my Floor
HoleInFloor

This may very well be the only picture I have of our old kitchen. Hubby built the cupboards when we built the house, and now we’ve stolen the “bar” section to use in the new kitchen. (We also stole the drawers, as you can see, to repurpose as an add-on to the cabinet we moved.) The good thing about being able to move this huge section of cabinets is that within a day I had a cabinet in the new kitchen to move lots of essentials into. Didn’t have to wait for Hubby to build a whole new one… Plus I still get to enjoy the original cabinets he built! The bad thing is that it left a cabinet-sized hole in the floor of one of the main rooms in our house, which then quickly turned into a room-sized hole when Hubby cleaned up the rest of the tile and leveled the subfloor. Another good thing about the Hole in the Floor was that it provided a temporary “art” space while we had kiddos visiting that I didn’t need to worry about messes! Shoes were mandatory, however, to avoid splinters. Hopefully, Some Day Very Soon, there will be a wall around the hole, creating a laundry hallway, and a new room that will either be a second full bathroom or a small art room to hide my creative messes. Still up in the air on that decision. My mind changes daily.

Important Note:
When laying ceramic tile, be sure to buy and keep several extra
boxes of the tile just in case you decide to remove a kitchen cabinet.
The Hole in my Floor could have been avoided,
had we thought of doing that when we tiled 8 years ago.

Another item of interest in this “Mid-Remodel” picture is the scale hanging in the middle of the walkway. I left it there to test our agility. And the Worm Bin, hiding under the high chair. We ordered a new batch of earthworms while our little friends were here, and let me tell you, 500 Red Wigglers in your kitchen is extremely interesting to a 3 year-old boy!

If only I could have caught that Blue-Tailed Lizard
that’s been living near our deck the past couple of weeks!
Wouldn’t that little guy have had fun being up
close and personal with that critter!

Now for the “Mid-Remodel” photo of the new kitchen…
Cabinet

Six feet of ready-made (almost) cabinetry let me move the Most Important Kitchen Stuff into the new kitchen right away! Ignore the multi-color aspect. It will get worse before it gets better… I need to paint the drawer fronts so I can put the knobs back on so the drawers are easier to open. Hubby is also going to make brand new doors, since the 20+ year-old hard-as-nails-oil-based-paint is super difficult to sand off the nooks and crannies of the old doors, but we’ll leave the funky brown ones on until that happens to conceal all the Most Important Kitchen Stuff inside. There will be upper cabinets as well, so also ignore all the random stuff on the countertop. They’re going to be extra tall to make use of the 10-foot ceilings in the new kitchen. My hope is that the cabinet section will look more like a step-back hutch than kitchen cabinets.

Mid-Remodel Disclaimer: I’m still in the “what in the world was
I thinking when I thought I wanted a new kitchen” phase of the remodel…
…Really hoping it starts looking like the vision I had in my head very soon!

Additional items of interest include the Play-Doh on the counter (used multiple times the past few weeks) and the kitschy vinyl tablecloth on the extreme left of the photo (which protected the as-yet-unsealed new butcher block tabletop from said Play-Doh). Oh, and the teapot sitting in a colander on the other counter.

So, our work is pretty much cut out for us for the next few weeks as we finish up this big change! It’s been a challenge to have everything in the “Betwixt and Between” phase while we had company, but I think it added a little thrill to our lives.

:-D

And before I go, I read through my last post and
realized I missed a few Very Important Things
that we experienced during The Last Six Weeks

LOTS of giggles and laughter.

LOTS of kisses and hugs, including
Fish kisses and Eskimo kisses,
and Bear Hugs and Bedtime Snuggles.

LOTS of silly songs, silly stories,
and general all-around silly-ness.

LOTS of Together Time getting to know
(and now miss!) a bunch of little people.

Now how could I have forgotten to write about all that?

:-)

The Last Six Weeks…

The Last Six Weeks have involved…

(… in no particular order…)

(…actually in a random-what-in-the-world
sort of order even though I planned things to
be done very quickly and fastly and orderly…)

(Spellcheck doen NOT  like the non-word “fastly.”)

Okay… here’s the list…

Moving the fridge into a new kitchen.

Moving the freezer into the family room.

Moving the freezer into the new kitchen.

Moving the stove into the new kitchen.

Moving a huge section of our old kitchen
cabinets into the new kitchen.

Creating a giant hole in the old kitchen
where the old cabinets used to be.

Needing to re-tile a floor.

Needing to build a wall.

Needing to build upper cabinets
in the new kitchen.

Putting together two sets of bunk beds.

Filling them with a variety of children.

Nine children , to be exact, in various configurations.

Lego’s, Barbies, Disney movies, kiddie pools,
the park, the beach, the state fair,
play-dough, trains, dolls, and balls.

Nosebleeds, bruised shins, fevers,
arthritis, coughs, and a bad sore throat.

Not quite enough time with my new grandboy.
Or to chat with my big grand boys.
Or  with my girls or my mom.
Or my BFF’s.

Finding out some things that I just can’t handle.
And some things I thought I couldn’t handle but did.
And lived to laugh about it.
And also to cry about it.

Feeling like I wasn’t able to help those around me
because I was helping those around me.

And most of all, learning to make do at the moment,
to adapt where needed, ignore the imperfect,
and take a nap whenever possible.

And then, just when the house was quiet again…
…although the dust hasn’t settled yet…
…and probably won’t for a while…

… a wonderful GIFT came in the mail…

NestingPlace

Mary Ostyn from Owl Haven
emailed me a week or so ago to let me know
that I had won a give-away on her blog!

A brand new copy of Myquillyn Smith’s
(a.k.a The Nester)
new book…

The Nesting Place!!!

Let me tell, that book came at just the right time.
Coupled with some strong coffee, it was just what I needed
to gather my gumption and begin to put my imperfectly
messy (and slightly sticky) home back together.

(Heavy on the “begin” part, mind you, because the
aforementioned  sore throat belongs to me.
So some of the gumption is only in my head.)

I’m reading… and re-reading… every page of this decorating book
that was written for those of us who have lived-in homes.
(Which is funny, because I’m a “picture-looker-atter”
when it comes to decorating books… not usually a reader!)

So thank-you-thank-you-thank-you-thank-you
to Mary and Myquillyn for the much needed picker-upper!!!

A Dead Flat Frog.

There will be no photos directly relating to the title of this post.

You’re welcome.

:-)

My Mom and I have started walking in the mornings again. This is the time of year when we always start walking, and we make a valiant effort until it gets Really Hot. And then we quit walking until there’s a chill in the air. But this year, we have a couple extra ladies in the Clarksville Walking Committee, so I’m hoping we stick it out a bit longer due to the incentive of extra company!

Not meaning to be gory or anything, but the other day, while walking on the gravel road, I noticed a Dead Flat Frog. Whenever I see one, it is absolutely necessary to point it out and mention that there is a Dead Flat Frog, thanks to a little girl I met about twenty years ago. Many moons ago, I volunteered to teach a 4-H Cloverbuds group during our homeschool support group meetings, and found myself trying to round up and contain a small mob of five through seven year-olds in about a 10′ x 10′ space at the end of a hallway. It was rather challenging. I found that the best thing to do was arrange everybody in a circle, which was about two kids deep in most places. (It got a little complicated when we had to color or draw.) And in that circle, EVERY SINGLE CHILD had something they wanted to tell me before we got started with our lesson. It was quite interesting, actually, and sometimes we even had a few minutes left at the end to do some 4-H stuff!

:-)

At one Cloverbud meeting, five year-old Meagan, who was (and most likely still is)
full of energy and excitement, could not wait to tell me what was new with her that week…

“Miss Kim! Miss Kim! Miss Kim! I saw a DEAD FLAT FROG!”

Evidently, a poor amphibian had met its demise in her
driveway,and with the help of moving vehicles and the
warmth of the sun, had become a Dead Flat Frog.

I wasn’t quite sure how to show the proper amount of excitement about Meagan’s discovery, but one thing I knew… She had been spending enough time out-of-doors to be observant of nature. She had time to poke around, look for rocks, ponder insects, get her hands and knees dirty, and discover the Dead Flat Frog. And that’s important for kids. Probably for us grown-ups too. 19th century educator Charlotte Mason wrote much about the importance of time out-of-doors, where children can experience nature first hand, and she encouraged families to do this on a daily basis, and then to grab a journal and draw what they saw or jot down notes about the day’s expedition.

So… as you look forward to the lazy days of Summer, plan to go outside…

Herbs

… Get up close and personal with nature…

Bug

… Spend some quiet moments with your sketchbook…

Draw

… And take a bit of nature back with you for later…

Journal

… Just maybe not any Dead Flat Frogs.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Sometimes a bunch of doodles…

Plans3

…that have been hanging out in your sketchbook…

Plans5

…will begin to sprout…

Grow1

… and even blossom!

Bloom1

It’s funny how your creative ideas reflect
what’s been going on in your heart and mind.

“Bloom where you are planted” and “How Does Your Garden Grow?”
are two little ditties that seem to sum up the thoughts I’ve been mulling
over about being content with what we have yet, not growing stagnant….

…about enjoying this season but preparing for the next…

…about tending the garden of “Home,” and waiting
expectantly for that fresh new blossom to pop open…

…about “Thistle Dew-ing.”

HowDoesGarden5x7Print

Just put some fun new prints are up in our Etsy Shop to help fund some
of the Blooming and Growing projects escapades around the Frey house!

Click here to pop on over! 

:-D

Happily Ever After…

Everyone loves the old fairy-tale ending: “And so they lived happily
ever after.” But in my opinion the best part of any true-life story
only
begins with these words. Certainly life’s greatest challenge is
raising a family. My own life has been exciting, 
rich and immensely
rewarding in every way. I have been lucky enough to win fame 
and
fortune beyond my dreams. An yet, the greatest and most satisfying
success 
by far that I have enjoyed lies in my children. Helping them,

watching them grow, has been my greatest joy and privilege.
~ Art Linkletter, 1959 ~

Very true words from Mr. Linkletter! Raising children… and then watching your children raise children… has got to be the most rewarding thing we’ve ever experienced! This week our family added another bit of “happily” to our “ever after”… Another grandboy!

ZekeWelcome to the world, Ezekiel!

Stretching Chickens and Raising Kids…

A slightly quirky blog post title, I know. I’m not quite sure if I’ve had too much coffee this morning… or too little. But there you have it. The things in my head at 8:00 a.m. And Hubby escaped into the world of hammers and nails before I started exponderating. Lucky readers.

:-D

Along the thought line of making do in the kitchen, have you ever heard of “Rubber Chicken” recipes? Go ahead… google “rubber chicken recipes” and you’ll find LOTS. I can’t quite remember where I first learned the term, but the idea has been passed down for generations by frugal homemakers. How to make a single chicken last and last and last. It’s quite a fun game. One night last week, Hubby and I were pondering dinner way past the time dinner should have been, and we decided to just run to the store for a couple of TV dinners. We walked past the rotisserie chickens and changed our plans. Out we walked with a skinny little $6 chicken and a package of microwave garlic mashed potatoes. I had applesauce at home to round it out. Fast food dinner for two for under $10. At least I knew I could pull another dinner out of the remains of the chicken the next night.

Since it was so late, we really didn’t eat much of the chicken. So, the next night, I pulled it out of the fridge, warmed up the rest of the white meat, and served it with broccoli and a package of brown rice pilaf  which I had purchased in bulk a few weeks ago when they were on sale for $1 a bag. (They make a great side dish for those just-the-two-of-us dinners!) So, a second dinner for about $3, counting up the broccoli, rice, and leftover applesauce.

Two nights later, the thought of dinner came up again, and I knew that bird was still hanging out in the fridge. As I was picking all the meat off the carcass, the kids called and said they were on the way over. Chicken soup was offered if they hadn’t eaten yet, and they hadn’t. The bones and skin went into a pot to boil, and I scrounged the kitchen for soup-makings. Several carrots, some celery, an onion, a potato, brown rice, and some spices were thrown with the leftover chicken once the broth was strained. Added in some homemade bread and opened another jar of applesauce, and we all had warm and full tummies.

And then last night, instead of heating the leftover soup, we opted for rolling out a pie crust and turning the soup and the leftover broccoli (from Dinner #2) into a chicken pot pie. Sides were corn and leftover applesauce. (We both really like applesauce, by the way.) We only ate half the pie, so dinner tonight is leftovers again. I stopped trying to figure out what the dinners cost after the first two nights, since all they “cost” was a bit of elbow grease and stuff that was already in my fridge threatening to mold if we ordered out. I do know that skinny little chicken ended up being a part of five dinners…one with company. Chicken stretching… favorite sport of frugal homemakers.

Pie

And in the area of raising kids… Mom and I have been taking my youngest daughter, Kate, who is great with child, on looong walks in hopes that the grand baby will be born soon. Last week we went to an antique shop that takes several hours to peruse, and I was very well-behaved, coming out with only a $3 book that looked interesting. And it has been. Absolutely, utterly refreshing, and rather funny… which couldn’t be helped considering who the author is. Common-sensical wisdom on child raising combined with humor and whit, written over 50 years ago. I’ve read a lot of books on parenting, but I’ve never laughed quite so much or agreed any more than I have while reading this one…

Kids

I have to put the disclaimer that I don’t agree with everything Mr. Linkletter writes, but Oh. My. Stars. he sure hits the nail on the head in so many areas. It’s like having a great conversation with your grandfather about how to raise happy, healthy kids. I may be sharing some of it with you in the next few posts.

Have a great Tuesday!

The Cookie Section…

I had an unexpected quiet hour this morning, and decided to tackle a pile of recipes that I had pulled out of my old recipe binder a while back. I’ve been slowly adding them to the new red Martha Stewart binder that I filled with cute Susan Branch recipe dividers from another binder.

Yep. I do tend to collect binders. And dividers.
And various other paper organizational materials.
And switch them out and rearrange them a little too often.

:-P

Anyway, I’ve been avoiding the “Cookie Section.”
It seemed just a tiny bit overwhelming.
Is it a major character flaw if the “Cookie Section” of
your recipes is the biggest and most used section?

I think not.

One thing that really impressed me when snipping out these old recipe pages and pasting them in the new binder, was how many ladies are represented in my “Cookie Section.” My Mom and my girls. Grandmoms and Teen-agers. Old and Young. Best friends and Ladies I just met. So many memories in a rather large stack of cookie recipes. Those recipes represent Christmas from my childhood, tea parties with my girls, “Wow, I really need that recipe,” mega-cooking adventures, Civil War balls, snow days, dinner with friends,  and because-we-need-cookies-right-now-why-won’t-the-butter-soften-any-faster?

Cookie Section

If you look closely, your name might be in that pile!

:-)

If not, it’s probably in the “Dessert Section.”

A Mood Board, of sorts…

One of my girls enlightened me on “Mood Boards” this past year.

I think I sort of knew about them, but for some reason never saw the importance of creating a mood board when coming up with a new design, a fresh brand, or a  snappy decorating scheme. Jo uses them with her graphic design clients to get a feel for who they are and what they are looking for in a logo or blog header. And today, while shuffling stuff around (Expert Stuff Shuffler here.) I gathered a few things that I LOVE and that have been an inspiration for Something-In-The-Works.

I’ve had this wonderful calligraphy mat for a while…

mat

…And lots of Verbage/Words/Signage…

etc

…And am slowly adding to a collection…

cups

…And a historic print that I have LOVED since childhood
has been developed into textiles…

inspiration

… which jumpstarted the Something-In-The-Works!

Any guesses?

:-)