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snow :: jars :: cereal







It wasn't much, but the first snow is always perfect no matter the depth. Even just a few inches seems to quiet the world. 


It was nice to have him with us for much of the day. One car is in the shop so schedules, classes, and business were merged together... somewhat seamlessly.


An afternoon stop between one class and the next. He told me this is where he bought my half gallon canning jars a few months back, the ones that I had such a hard time sourcing. Of course they were found here. Sundries...


It's Tuesday, which means my weekly trip to the grocery store. I snapped this pic for a few people that asked where bagged EnviroKidz can be found. Around here, at the co-op, elsewhere I'm sure Whole Foods type places carry it. I'm not sure. I usually buy Millet Rice cereal for Adam, Gorilla Munch was a fun treat - it's been a sale for $3 off per bag (about) so I've been stocking up. 

(I have this odd love for photos of groceries.)

austen :: library :: binder


Last night I had dinner with a friend who mentioned in conversation she (on one recent afternoon) re-read the first twelve chapters of Pride and Prejudice, just for fun. I've yet to complete any Jane Austen... not really sure why. Maybe this is the year. 

Dinner was after we took a whole bunch of girls to the movies. I was reminded of this beautiful song.

This morning, a late start.

The weekend was long and exhausting... so much worry, so much hope. 



The library is almost unpacked. It's nice to see the stacks take shape. 


Still no dish drain. I'm starting to think I may have to drive myself to one of those big stores with fluorescent lights and way too much off-gassing. Maybe the linen towel can work for a while longer still. 


For months now (years in conversation) a new farm table has been in the works. Now, our new dining area is a bit smaller than the farm table is designed for. To get a sense of things, we put all three leaves in our current table to try out the size, a very close approximate to the in progress table. It's big. Big enough to have doubts about my beloved farm table... perhaps it could be a new desk?


In the interest of the weekend... we're keeping it simple around here. 

(If you are so inclined, prayers and healing thoughts for someone we love would be greatly appreciated.)


A few people very kindly asked to peek inside this binder that I shared a glimpse of on this day. I'd love to share with you, but given the (umm...) excitement that was generated when I wrote about our housekeeping routine, I think I'll hold off for a while, I'm sure you understand. 

Many women have written about Home Management Notebooks, it's along those lines but I refer to this more as my Life Binder - it holds all things home, hobby and work (which happens from home). Similar to my chore charts, my binder thinks for me, I'm so very grateful for that. 




Tonight we'll be officially caught up with Downton Abbey, what a stunning show that is. Chamomile is poured. A quick call to my dad first, then we'll settle in.

I do hope to take my camera beyond these few rooms... soon. 

cardinals :: chai :: bliss




This morning I woke with a strong desire to read something uplifting. A powerful message to start the day. Browsing a bookshelf that thankfully has a few unpacked books on it, I pulled Simple Abundance and turned to January 11 (yesterday's date), just to see what I missed. 

"No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit."

~ Helen Keller

Beautiful and true. What a start to the day.

The cardinals arrive first at the feeder in the early morning. Come and gone long before the rest of the bird community has breakfast. I never knew that was their preference until recent days. Seekers of solitude?




Oh, the rain. My northern and western friends are having quite a snow storm today from what I understand. Here, beautifully rain-filled day. The kind of day that begged for a pot of chai to be made, and a good reason to use some milk. I'm still trying to work out the amount of milk we need for the week, we don't use much, I overestimated on my last shopping trip. Two quarts per week is plenty (including company use), chai it was!

I enjoyed a mug while updating our address book - such a great thing to do after the holidays with all of those cards and envelopes in the house. My cousin and her husband recently bought a beautiful new home (a Brooklyn, NY transplant), now sweet little Veda has a backyard to run around in... "Joy" is right!




I was grateful to have an extra block of time for work today, Adam was able to arrange his day to cover the homeschool block. I tucked myself away up in our bedroom and typed the afternoon away... sweet productive bliss.

blackberry :: cabbage :: trees


Woke up to a negative email - followed by an abundance of love. 

Next, a difficult, worrisome phone call - followed by an abundance of love.

After that, I tasted the most perfect blackberry, found in my frozen berry medley over breakfast. Oh my, that was delicious.

After a math quiz, she worked on the screenplay for a friend's short film, then her manuscript. She gives me many reasons to be proud.


I gazed over at this painting so many times. It's much bigger than this close up shows, a tranquil scene that I wanted to climb into more than once today. My friend painted this, she's so talented... putting this kind of beauty into the world. 





At least I was able to climb into these trees.  It made for a beautiful end to the day.

Our Housekeeping Routine

A break from journal posting tonight...


Okay friends, because you asked so nicely (and because I understand the desire to learn about other people's home systems), I'm going to give you a closer peek at our housekeeping routine. 

I'm sort of nervous about this... it feels intimate.

Basically what I'll do is discuss my charts here with a few notes about each, then attach my copies as downloads for you to peek at. In addition, I've prepared a blank version so you can create your own if you'd like. 

We work on a two week rotation, so many jobs only need to be done every other week. On one week, we may do a "full" bathroom cleaning, the following week a "quick" bathroom cleaning. Dusting is an every other week job, etc.

There are organizing blogs out there that do a much more beautiful and official job of presenting this sort of thing, but I'll share what I'm doing because if it helps me it just might help someone else too. 

And it's January, we all love this sort of thing in January!


Emily's Housekeeping Routine

You should know something about Emily. She is my hired help and cleans most of the house for us. About six months ago she came to us looking to earn a little money (in other words, she wanted a cell phone to text her friends and mama didn't feel the need to pay for that).

Remember when we were young teens and we all had babysitting jobs to earn money? It's not really the same anymore... maybe it's safety concerns, maybe it's liability issues... who knows, but kids don't babysit like they used to. 

Too young to have a regular job, we decided to look in-house for things she could do. My work has gotten busier, I manage the family homeschool details, I cook our meals, I'm busy! I had recently read an article on a homeschool blog about hiring help when and if you can, with the instructions to NOT feel bad about it!

Well, I wouldn't have felt bad about it, but the truth is it never occurred to me until I read that suggestion. And so I turned to Emily and offered her a job. She quite eagerly accepted (and has since purchased her own cell phone that she pays the monthly bill for - has a bit of spending money, saves a percentage and donates a percentage).

She doesn't do every single job around the house, but she does more than I'm interested in doing or (more importantly) have the time for. I take care of the master bedroom and bath as well as the weekly kitchen cleaning (because I'm territorial with my kitchen), she cleans the rest of the house.

In total, the job (as we calculated) should comfortably take her no more than three hours a week. She is payed $30. Ten bucks an hour is pretty good for a fourteen year old. 

We used to have one big cleaning day, but now we spread the jobs out over the week which is a lot better. 

You'll notice on her chart she has daily chores. Those are not things she is paid to do, just household chores that come from being part of a family. Oh, I was so annoyed when my mom said that to me... "I didn't ask to be born!" was my response. So dramatic.

I didn't add daily guinea pig care, but that is a responsibility she has each day.

Click here - Download Emily - Housekeeping Routine



Heather's Housekeeping Routine

As anybody with a 'hired housekeeper' knows, there is much more to do in a day or week, even with their help. I've developed this routine as a way to keep me organized and not forget anything. You wouldn't think so, but having this chart reminds me to toss a load of laundry in each morning (for example). Without that reminder, my laundry would pile up out of control. 

I don't strive for perfection. Life happens and things don't always get done. But if we get off track or get called out of the house on a day we weren't expecting to leave, no big deal. We pick up where we left off and keep going. With enough household chores visited on regular rotation the home stays in comfortable working order. 

What I like about keeping these charts is they think for me. Any busy mama knows how fantastic it is to have someone (or something) think for us. 

I should note that these charts will change as our lives do and with the seasons. Nothing stays the same forever and if we feel something isn't working we make changes as needed.

Click here - Download Heather - Housekeeping Routine




Daily Household Rhythm (Heather)

Note: I live, work, and attend school from home... if I didn't, my routine would look very different than this. We each have a unique set of circumstances that determine how we form our days. 

This page is so important to me. It's a daily reminder that I matter, that caring for my family matters, that my work matters... and so forth. 

Rather than schedule tasks like appointments in my day, I use blocks of time. If you look closely at the chart you'll see what I mean. 

For instance, I've got 3-5pm scheduled for housekeeping and extra work time. Though I've set aside a two hour block, it doesn't necessarily take all of that time. I may finish sooner and go outside with Emily, read, make a phone call, etc.

Blocks of time are not meant to be filled to the very minute, rather they are space held for certain tasks or projects to be completed within. 


The Daily Household Rhythm is (mostly) out the window on Tuesdays, our current out of the house day. We spend the day at various lessons, volunteer jobs, grocery shopping, etc. Aside from our daily tasks, we don't do any chores. 

Click here - Download Daily Household Rhythm (Heather)


Would you like to try this format?

Below is a blank download that follows my template. Enjoy!

Click here - Download Housekeeping Routine - Blank

So, those are my charts. There are many little things that don't make it on to them, of course. Adam totally pitches in when he's home and on the weekends (someone asked about that - he has an out of the house job). He's my drop everything and help out guy. Which works out so well for this "I've got an idea!" girl.

And now, I've blogged way past my blogging time and must get to bed. Have a great evening! I'll check in tomorrow if you have any question feel free to ask. I do hope the downloads work for everyone. 

housekeeping :: learning :: unwind


A new home, a new housekeeping routine. We all feel good about returning to some sort of rhythm beyond unpacking boxes and cooking meals. I began bookending my days (as Renee describes), what a lovely way to open and close the day.


I've located my Brain Drain! Why on earth did I pack it? Some of my most important ideas and thoughts are logged on these pages. Finding it was perfect timing as I just returned to my daily work time... oh, I wear many hats for sure. 








We've also returned to our daily homeschool time - though it did require searching through a few boxes to find our books! The way we approach school is so different now compared to a year ago. With the two of us in school, there is quite a good amount of tandem learning going on over here.

Today - a math lesson, a lot of reading, homemade deodorant.




Feeling a tight, scratchy throat this afternoon, I turned to my favorite remedy. A mug of hot water, a squeeze of lemon, a spoonful of local raw honey, and as much apple cider vinegar as I can stand. Repeat often... 

I spend so much time in the kitchen. I don't mind, but wow... it's a lot. Taking more pictures from the kitchen lately has been rather eye opening to me.

Tonight my family is off at basketball practice and I am cozy on the couch, unwinding and writing down a few notes from the day. With Downton Abbey and a glass of cabernet for company. 

The Weekend
















I wish I had more time to write down a few words about the weekend... it was nothing that I thought it would be and everything it needed to be. Which was perfect. 

Today we ignore the many yet to be unpacked boxes and all of the art needing to be hung. Today our familiar homeschool rhythm begins, but it will be different I'm sure, because everything is different now. (Different is good.)

olive oil :: bird feeder :: cookie jar


Prior to one week ago, I blogged for five (six?) years from a home with a dark, windowless kitchen. Suffice it to say, I take a lot more photos of our food now. Just a little snap here and there throughout the day. Oh, but I love how they add up, how I can recall and share so much more now. This was taken while making Adam's lunch. Berries, yogurt, granola, and a drizzle of honey. 

Emily has been going for a run every morning, something she's never been able to do alone before. She needed this bit of freedom and I'm so happy for her - physical activity (and lots of it, preferably in the fresh air) are a must for her everyday. Love watching her head down the driveway.


A gift from Adam. I am the girl you get fancy olive oil for over jewelry. He was listening to a piece on NPR before the holidays and knew how much I would love the oil mentioned in the story (described as some of the best olive oil that can be found in this country), as well as the book the program was mostly about. I can't wait to start reading it. 

We opened one bottle last night, truly the fruitiest tasting olive oil of my life.



Today Emily had a friend over to work on her room and hang out. They do not play anymore. After some teenage crib fluffing and a little bird feeding, they headed out for a hike (in a pink pleated skirt). They came home both exhilarated and filled with peace. Tales were told, the word sanctuary was used, tremendous appetites were created. Two city girls, free as birds. 

Speaking of birds, tomorrow we need to hang the feeder properly so it doesn't become a squirrel buffet. 




I tried a new cookie recipe that called for way too much flour. I knew that as I was moving through it but I didn't adjust, I should have. I normally trust and fiddle with a recipe when I sense the need to do so. They're more like biscuits than cookies, but with chocolate chips involved I'm sure they'll disappear nonetheless. Though I should freeze some. One gallon of cookies for three people is a little crazy.


Next week we return to our normal homeschool routine, with some midyear changes (love that we can do this!). The days are feeling really good. It's been a long time coming. 

baked granola :: new room :: inspiring conversation






Did a little baking to try out the new oven, it seems to run hot. Not too badly, but something to keep in mind. My previous oven being a convection (an option, but I always chose it) cooked more beautifully. This oven will be fine too, just a little time and temperature adjustment to consider. 

I used coconut oil for the fat in our everyday bread recipe and the coconut flavor was undetectable. I'll be doing that again.




Emily is having such fun setting up her new room. A friend is coming over Friday afternoon to do some more unpacking and decorating... I'll leave them to it and stay in the kitchen making chocolate chip cookies. They've definitely got their own ideas and don't need me in the way. The pink cushion is for meditation, leaned against the wall when not in use so cozy-seeking-Sukha doesn't mistake it for a dog bed. It sure would make a fine dog bed. 

This home is 55 years newer than our previous (Craftsman Bungalow), I'll be honest here... she really likes it. I'm sure I would have liked "newer" at her age too. It's kind of funny that 1978 feels contempoary to her. 

Emily and her friends will have really good times here. I feel at peace with staying in the area (relatively speaking), a benefit being her social circles remain intact. 


We love playing the Catholic school girls - it's always the friendliest, smiliest game of the season... plus, it was fun to have a weeknight game. 


After the game I snuck off next door to do some grocery shopping. I ran into a friend and we chatted in the parking lot for a good long while. I listened to tales of African dancing, her recent doula certification, midwifery dreams, Jamaican food, tutoring kids in the projects (and staying after the session is over to play Wii because she loves them so much), Etsy shop opening, writing, seedy underground dance clubs where there is no bar, no hooking up... just loud bass-filled music and sweaty people who love to dance. I was easily reminded of how much I adore this dynamic woman. We made plans for her to come to the new house soon. She's one of those ladies that you can't help but feel inspired by - and more than most anyone I know, our entrepreneurial spirits and 'can do' attitudes really connect. We've taught cooking classes together before, maybe we will again. I'd like that.

menu plan :: freezer food :: work day


My days are starting to feel like my days again. But better. This morning I made lists and menu plans for tomorrow's shopping trip. Or maybe it will be Friday, we'll see. My dad arrives on Friday, I've got Bean, Kale, Rice & Sausage Soup on the menu, he'll really like that. (I'm so bad at naming recipes.)


The remainder of last night's dinner was bottled up in quart jars and frozen for future meals. I always find it so curious how much satisfaction I get from putting my freezer to work for me. 


Late this afternoon I found my gaze on the calendar, happy to see so many blank squares. Hoping we all have a little pause this month, and perhaps next month too. 


Our temporary compost area has quite possibly been chosen based on the perfect (distant) view from my kitchen window. I figure the many deer that come to the field every night just might like a vegetable peel or two. Possibly not, but I sure don't mind if they help themselves to this very open air compost. I love watching them. In the spring, I'd like for us to build something like this.


Today I had nearly seven hours to myself, what a gift! I was able to play catch up on email and various workshop related tasks after a long weekend of moving and settling in. Still a few items on my list to finish before I'm fully back on track, but what a good, productive day it was.