So Very Domestic started as a food and crafty blog and has grown to be so much more than that! It now documents the domestic bliss, Southern California adventures and homeschooling that is this life of ours in pretty pictures with recipes and tutorials and reviews. Thanks for reading!
It’s Marriage Monday again! Last week, my Good Morning Girls group was talking about something Courtney had said in a recent blog post. Essentially, that if you bump a cup full of water, water will come out (duh lol) but that it’s the same with our hearts! If you have a heart full of frustration (or anger or resentment etc), that’s what will come out when you hit a bump! So if we work every day to fill our hearts with love and joy, that’s what will come out! I’ve been thinking about that a lot this week and it makes so much sense!
We are all human so it’s easy to do things that annoy the people around us, and it’s easy to let ourselves be annoyed. This morning, it is -37 with the wind chill and though I know I saw him wear it home on Friday, Wee One #1 could not find his hat as he was getting ready for the school bus – this bumped my cup. If I was already frustrated, (perhaps with him constantly losing tupperware at school), frustration would have spilled out and he would have taken off for the bus with a cloud over him and a chilly head. Instead I told him that he needed to keep track of his things, especially necessary things like that, and I gave him a spare hat! Had I reacted angrily or meanly, I may have ruined his day and likely mine too because I’d spend the rest of it feeling guilty!
My husband and I went to bed at 3:30 this morning because dear, dear friends we only get to spend time with once a year were here. When we went to bed he said he’d like to get up at 7:30 when I do – it is 10 and he is still sleeping. This doesn’t really bump my cup at the moment, but when he gets up in a few hours annoyed that I was unable to get him out of bed when he asked me to, I will not respond with anger or resentment for being the one that gets up early. I’ll make him and coffee and tell him playfully not to be so grumpy. When his Eeyore cloud passes I’ll be very happy that I didn’t incite an argument just because he can’t get by on as little sleep as I can.
I have tired to live like this since I noticed myself not paying attention to my reactions a couple of years ago and of course every day I can get better and better at it. I’m human so I’ll never totally get it right, but as long as everyone around me knows that I am trying, and if I get it right more often than not, it’s a win!
My husband works from home – we are incredibly blessed to be able to say that!! That means we are together pretty well all day, everyday. We each have things in our days that do not involve the other so we’re not as connected at the hip as that may sound, but being around each other this much could be horrible if we were not mindful of what’s in our cups!!
I’m ending Marriage Mondays now with my husband’s favorite recipe form the previous week. Last week it was Chicken Pot Pie!
This version of Chicken Pot Pie is the short of shortcut my Granny would take and then never tell anyone about. She was up making muffins almost every day at 5am for her family, so she could take as many shortcuts as she needed to in my book!
Shortcut Chicken Pot Pies Makes 6 individual 6″ pies
2 1/2 cups mixed frozen veggies
2 cups (or more) chopped cooked and seasoned chicken
2 cups thickened chicken stock or cream of chicken soup
2 cup Bisquick
1 cup milk
Preheat your oven to 400. Thicken your chicken stock by taking a little and mixing it with about 1 tbsp or so of cornstarch, then add that back into the rest of the chicken stock. The original recipe calls for cream of chicken soup, I’ve also seen it done with a can of gravy (!) but my husband likes it best with thickened chicken stock.
Mix 1 cup of the Bisquick, 1/2 cup of the milk and 1 egg together and pour that into the bottom of your pie pans (of course you could also just use a big pie pan), and bake for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, stir the veggies, chicken and thickened chicken stock (or soup or gravy) together. Once the bottom crusts are ready, pour this mixture over them. I made little fork indentations in the bottom crusts because they puff up a bit. The mix the rest of the Bisquick, milk and remaining egg and pour over top the veggie and chicken mixture.
Cook this for another 25-35 minutes, till puffy and golden on top and voila! Amazingly simple chicken pot pie without rolling any pie crust at all!
The original recipe just puts the veggies and chicken mix directly into the pan(s) with no bottom crust, so you only use half the Bisquick, milk and eggs but then you sacrifice having a bottom crust so it’s less a pie and more a savory cobbler situation.
Today’s an exciting day because it’s the first day of the Good Morning Girls Bible study of the book of James and it’s also the day the first book for the Bloom / (In)Courage book club is announced. No lie, I will be picking up (or ordering) that book as soon as I know what it is!
Don’t worry, I’m not going to drone on and on about scripture (unless you’re interested – email me!), I’ll stick to the theme of marriage and family on Mondays.
I’m going to give you a recipe for a chocolate tart that my husband adored last week – in just a sec.
First a quick note on not freaking out over your husband taking the lead.
I have had a great start to 2011 in my teeny tiny little town. The teeny tiny little town in the woods that I never in a million, billion years would have chosen to move to. My husband has been trying to get me to move to the middle of nowhere for years, but since neither of us drove it wasn’t really feasible until the summer of 2009 (when he got his license and a car) and I really wasn’t feeling it. Up to this point I had handed most major decisions to my husband without any trace of weirdness but this decision just felt too much. It was crazy. I’m a through and though city kid. I took streetcars and buses to school! I loved walking everywhere. I have a real affinity for the Toronto Public Library system. Most of all, I’m a seriously social creature and most of my dear friends either live in Toronto or pass through it a couple times a year. If I’m totally honest, that last point is the one I held on to the longest.
Eventually, I started to see that he wanted to live in the woods even more than I wanted to stay in Toronto. Friends reading this probably don’t believe that, but it’s true. He was borderline miserable. And now? Now that we’ve been here for 4 months I feel like so much in my life is better than it was. Don’t get me wrong, I miss my friends and the ability to take the streetcar to the library (or, well, anywhere), but I don’t miss the reality of three kids on a packed streetcar AT ALL.
I have found something out here that I never would have found within my life in Toronto. I have found a new, deeper connection to my husband, I have found that my priorities were not at all in line with really nurturing my family and I have found…wait for it…a desire to slow down. I still do a million things in a day, but I used to do 2 million. Now, when I look out the window while in the middle of the day’s ‘to do’, I see nature and God’s creation everywhere! I know He’s present in Toronto too, but out my old kitchen window I saw a concrete backyard, a neighbour I longed to avoid and rows upon rows of similar houses with hardly a few feet between them. Out this back window, I see snow. Lots and lots and lots of snow, and some days it comes down in such huge beautiful flakes that I have to just stop. I stop and I take my coffee to the big patio doors and I just stand there and watch it fall. So there we have it. He was right, and to put that better, he knew something I didn’t know, something he never could have explained to me. I had to experience it to know that it was better.
And now, onto the chocolate tart! Hilariously, I the title of the blog post that introduced me to this tart is No Bake Chocolate Tart for a Happy Husband. Ha!! It’s a brilliant recipe because it only has three ingredients (unless you count the ingredients for the crust which is only another 6 anyway).
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg yolk, room temperature
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (unbleached)
It’s pretty self-explanatory but here goes. Cream the butter, then add the sugar and beat till fluffy. Add the salt, vanilla & egg yolk, mix till combined. Now add flour and mix until the dough is crumbly and most of the flour is mixed in. Mix the rest by hand until the dough forms a ball. Pop it in the fridge for 4 hours before you roll it out. I’ll wait here.
Of course once you take it out of the fridge you’ve got to let it warm up a little, say 20 minutes or so before you roll it out between parchment paper (or on a floured surface if you must) and pinch it into a cute tart pan, or pie plate.
6 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
baked and cooled sweet tart crust
First, warm the cream in a stainless steel bowl (I set my bowl over a frying pan of simmering water but there are much fancier ways to do it), when it’s scalding add the chocolate. I took it off the frying pan of water for this part (because, as you probably know, water + chocolate = bad).
Once your chocolate is all melted and mixed in well with your scalding cream, pour it into your cooled tart shell. Pop it in the fridge and wait – forever. Ok, so technically it’s actually 2-3 hours, but when your husband is in the fridge every few minutes poking at it, it seems like forever.
Then, naturally, you take it out an hour early and have the first slice when it’s all gooey and not set up yet. Whoops! Yummy anyway! Hours later, once this treat is completely set, take another slice for photos and then eat that too.
I looooooove Courtney’s blog and her challenges. She’s an inspiration to me and a lot of other like-minded wives and mommies out there. I have participated in three of her challenges, the last one, Peace on Earth, challenged us to stay focused on what was really important during the holidays. Not the cookies and the gifts, or even the gatherings or even our families – but our faith! That’s what it’s all based in, right? Anyhoo, I really took to heart the first two challenges, to take a night just for me to pamper myself a bit, and to take a night to go to bed early. I made taking care of myself a priority and I started going to bed a little earlier on a regular basis. Then, I dropped off the blogosphere all together!
I did do my challenges though. <3 The next one, (#3) was to make a hot drink - I went with green tea - and sit alone in the quiet dark with the twinkling Christmas tree and just be alone with God. I didn't fall asleep, I didn't really let my mind wander much, I just thought about God and life and all the ways I am so thankful and appreciative for all that I have. It was so nice I did it a few more times before we took the tree down.
The fourth challenge was to get outside and be alone with God in nature. As you've read over and over on this blog, I live in the woods and have nature to spare! LOL So getting out and being in awe of all that He has created is a daily occurrence, but I did make sure to go out and with that in mind and just wander around the property for a while. I was greeted with blue jays, squirrels and chipmunks and the same day my husband was so lucky he got to drive (slowly) through a group of deer - they even ran with him for little, until he was going too fast. What a treat!!
The newest challenge is actually hosted by her other site, Good Morning Girls, it’s a full out study on the book of James. I’ll be tackling this with my Good Morning Girls group, so I likely will not be posting my deets about that here. However, there is a new link up on Women Living Well, called Living Well Wednesdays. That’s a bit of an issue for me though because, of course, I’m doing Work in Prorgress Wednesdays now. I think I will stick with Marriage Mondays, and just post my Monday link in the Wednesday linky.
I’ve blathered on quite a bit already, and I have a tart to make, but I want to share with you that I have been reading Come Have a Peace, the creator of Marriage Mondays, quite a bit in the last year or so and she’s taught me so much about being humble in marriage and taking a step back. A lot of people will tell you that if you have a servant’s heart and you work on being meek, it’ll come back to you tenfold. I tried several times in the past to make this work, but when I wasn’t met immediately with the response I had hoped for, I’d give up. Which was my mistake in the first place. I didn’t really have a servant’s heart if I was only giving of myself to get something back, was I?
So, when we moved out here in September, a lot of things changed. My husband’s home office is now on the main floor of our house when before it had always either been in the basement or tucked away in a spare bedroom. Now, the office is off the kitchen so I see him all day. Also, since my husband is the one who runs all the errands (his idea!), and now that we’re deep in the woods, there’s no way I could possibly go anywhere without him, he is on the same schedule as me and we are together all the time. Keeping that in mind, at the same time as this, I started really, honestly working towards having a servant’s heart. For about a month or so, we were pretty much the way we had always been – we had an amazing marriage but there were days of bickering, and heated moments (and not in the good way).
But then? After a month or so of this, something really amazing happened. There has been no bickering at all. Honest! Times when we’ve disagreed, if it’s been a subject that doesn’t actually affect us, we let it go, if it’s a decision that needs to be made, I have just given it to him and believe it or not, more than half the time my willingness to hand it over to him has opened him up to either rethinking my point of view and making a compromise or even making a full out concession. There is more joking and playfulness, there is a lot more time spent as a family. He even has taken a full out interest in my knitting and wants to play in the kitchen with me when I’m testing out new recipes. I hardly even need the tripod because he’s there lending a hand and making it even more fun.
Wait. I’m not gloating. I’m not going to air the dirty laundry of months and years prior with you either, but please know that our marriage was never this amazing, until I was willing to let go of myself and devote myself to it. Even the kids are turning a corner with my new approach because I’m not raising my voice to them anymore, I’m not short or rude when they forget their lunch bags at school or have a shower with the curtain on the outside of the tub <–that was a serious test, let me tell you. This has them reacting to me differently as well. But, it took at least a month (longer with the kids) of me modeling this behaviour before I saw it come back to me.
Last week’s challenge was to read the story of the birth of Jesus in Matthew 1, 2 and Luke 1,2 and to have a serious bubble bath. I opted for a serious pampering night instead, but with the same mission. Time to think about life and love and God and time to reflect on whole reason we celebrate Christmas!
This week’s challenge was amazing timing for me because my husband bought me a big box of goodies from Sephora so I had new gear to pamper myself with. I’m going to go on an unrelated rant for a quick minute here. As you know, we live in the woods, and I rarely leave the house. When I do it’s usually to the post office. My husband actually likes running errands (I know, he should be studied), so I never have to go to the grocery store or Walmart or anything like that unless I want to, which is pretty much never lol. Also, visitors are few and far between, the mail is dropped in the box at the end of our (ridiculously long) street, and the kids take the school bus to school. That’s all to say that for fairly long stretches of time, the only people that see me are my husband and our children. You can stretch that to include the bus driver waving to me as he drops the kids off and the lady at the post office every Tuesday when I pick up and drop off packages. And yet, every day since my Sephora package arrived, I’ve done a full face (with false lashes, no less) and not left the house. In part it is for my husband and kids, sure. I want them to see that their wife/mother hasn’t frumped out because that’s the easier thing to do. More than that though, getting all sparkly and dolled up just feels good. I think it’s wonderful that Courtney has included ‘me’ time in this challenge, of course to read your Bible and think about God and the meaning of Christmas, but also to just shut out the rest of the world and have a moment with yourself. I used my pamper time to blast away sore muscles, do my nails and think about how we can happily mix wish lists and Christmas parties with the birth of our Savior and how I can really instill that in my children.
Ok, rant over. Moving on. I recently came upon a blog that I am instantly in love with, A Holy Experience. They have made a beautiful Advent calendar with prayers and readings to count down to Christmas with – and it’s free. Amazing. Clearly a lot of work went into making it and I adore it. This, in addition to the introspection time I had on my pampering night has led me to look at Christmas a little differently this year and I think honestly, all of this thinking and reading has peppered my outlook on life in general.
I will still keep on baking my 300+ Christmas treats, but I will do so with the spirit of giving in my heart as I knead and roll and bake. My kids play in the kitchen with me quite a bit, but I will be sure to include them even more than I usually do when baking for others. This year, we’re also choosing a gift from the Samaritan’s Purse catalog for a child and their family in a developing country, in additional to our annual Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. Generally, when we do shoeboxes we include more ‘hygiene items’ and school supplies than toys. As much as I’m sure they’d adore a little Winnie the Pooh toy set, having pencils, paper, a toothbrush, toothpaste and even underwear is far more treasured, you know?
If the idea of this appeals to you, but you don’t have time to pack a shoebox yourself, you can make a financial donation. Some of that money will go to pack more shoeboxes and some will go to the transportation costs involved in getting all our boxes to the children that need them!
Now, this week’s challenge is to schedule a night when we go to bed early! Take a few minutes to read your Bible and get a connection and then actually go to sleep early. This too is in good timing, as I started feeling sick on Saturday night and actually had a 3 hour nap after the kids were in bed. I woke up to a silent house, did some knitting and put myself back to bed again. I’m was still sick, but much better than if I hadn’t taken the rest when I could get it! I think I will make Thursday night my bed early night this week. What a great challenge!
Wow. When I skip a few days or a week of blogging for real life, I tend to totally ignore it and carry on like it never happened, bu I’ve been absent for two whole weeks. It’s not life, it’s Christmas! I’ve been very dedicated to staying on task with my to do this year and it’s been going well, but I’m knitting every night, not blogging. So here I am, on track for my favorite holiday ever and back on track for blogging as well.
When I sat down to write this I was afraid that I was a week behind for Courtney’s December challenge – thankfully, I am right on time for the first in the series! The one thing she mentioned to do last week was light an extra large candle everyday and to make a note on the calendar that says ‘I Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.’ This passage has actually helped me quite a bit over the past couple of years so it’s familiar to me! As for the candle, I mentioned a few weeks ago that after the Making Your Home a Haven challenge was over, I kept on lighting my candle. I honestly feel that it has changed my attitude because I’m in the kitchen or in areas off the kitchen so much of the day and night that it catches my eye all the time, and at this point even when it’s not lit I still stop and take a moment.
The challenge for this week is to schedule a bubble bath. I’m not a bath sort of gal, but I will schedule an extra long pamper session for myself. My dear friend Lindsay, who I met in kindergarten and my still fairly new friend Jade who I met in January, always look their best and have really encouraged me to make the time to make that a priority if that’s important to me – and it really, really is. So far, so good. It is time consuming though, especially with my lifestyle (read: changing diapers, doing dishes, scrubbing corners, baking, etc) so time has to be taken every night to fix or change nail polish, take off make up, moisturize like you’d never think is necessary (‘your skin is thirsty May!’) and all that stuff. I have found that forcing myself to make time to ‘get pretty’ as I playfully call it, has helped me center myself too! I’m not really in that bathroom focusing on taking off my eyeliner or sugar scrubbing my knees and elbows – because really, what is there to think about? I’m in there letting my mind wander, thinking about the sort of things I’d never allow myself time to think about otherwise. You all know I’m a pretty thankful person as it is, but as I was changing my nail polish a few days ago, I thought about how amazing it is that I get to wake up everyday here in Canada and not in Haiti or Burma or somewhere I have never heard of that has equally scary situations going on. I think about how amazing it is that we have the cash for me to even have this ridiculous collection of nail polish or that I can somehow get away with wearing plastic jewelry at 30. I think about my babies and how none of them are technically babies at all anymore – about how healthy they all are!! Most of all though, I think about my husband and our marriage and I sigh. Not only are we still friends, but ever since we moved to the woods he’s gone above and beyond to make me fee happy here because he knows how much I miss Toronto.
Anyhoo, the second part of this challenge is to read about the birth of Jesus. You know, the whole reason December is a big deal in the first place? Matthew 1, 2 and Luke 1,2 are on my list to read and re-read this week. I am feeling much more churchy than usual, and I don’t know if it’s because of Christmas or if it’s just that He is using this time of year to make my heart feel three sizes too big for my chest, but it does. It really, really does.
*I just read this post over at Inspired to Action and stopped in my tracks because it’s exactly why I get up so early every morning for alone time. Some days I actually get all the way out of bed and read my Bible with a coffee. Some days I just read in bed, and some days I just lay there and think and steal an extra snuggle with my husband – always thankful for this life.*
I skipped a Marriage Monday post last week and there was so much I wanted to say about the challenge being over and what I’ll be doing in the coming weeks! I am very happy to read recently on Courtney’s blog that she has a December challenge coming up to remind us to stay close to the true meaning of Christmas during that incredibly busy time!
Lighting my kitchen candle every morning has reminded me to start each day with kindness and saying a little prayer for peace every time I saw it burning throughout the day has kept me focused. I keep burning my candle and I will get a new one when this one is gone and will continue this practice. It’s been a quick and simple reminder to be kind to those around me and to make my home the haven I have always aimed for it to be.
I’m looking forward to the December challenge because it’s coming at a time when I have decided to make myself sleep 7 or 8 hours a night. I usually get about 5 hours, sometimes 4 and last week I was going on about 3 hours a night – every night. Why do I do this to myself? I have a long history of wanting to do so much that I fill my plate till it’s overflowing and there is no time for sleep. Many of my friends could argue that I manage my time well, but just like the cute girl in a size 5 dress, I think I can do so much better.
Yesterday, I plunked down and made a schedule of all the things that need to get done for my sister’s birthday weekend here in the woods, and whatever I couldn’t fit in the schedule (that obviously included my regular life stuff), I dropped. I still want to try those things (like making croissants from scratch) but I can do that for next month’s girl’s weekend. Usually, I’d just cram those other things into the wee hours of the morning, but I am refusing to let myself get stressed out by things that should be fun. So now I know what I’m going to do for her birthday weekend, I know when I’m going to do it all and I know that there is time to get it done without losing my head. And last night? I got 7 hours of sleep AND I got the garbage out on time this morning!
Plus, we just moved from the biggest, busiest city in the country to a cute house in cottage country so shouldn’t my life be more laid back? Which also goes back to the Making Your Home a Haven challenge, a laid back house is always a more inviting house. I have always been a pretty laid back parent – with very clear lines drawn in the sand, but I need to learn to be a lot more laid back with myself. I have found that the flurry of Christmas knitting has actually helped me a lot in this, and actually the last time I felt nice and laid back was when I was at the end of my pregnancy with Wee One #3, and my husband was terrified that I was going to go into labor early like I had with our first two kids, so I was stuck in the house. So I knitted for three months – and it was wonderful!
It slows me down because knitting isn’t something you can rush! You can get faster over time (we call my sister a ‘turbo knitter’) but it is a process that just takes as long as it takes and there isn’t much you can do about it. So now, I get my chores done early, usually before the kids have even gotten on the school bus in the morning, get in a blog post, get in a workout and then off to the living room I go with the littlest one to watch Christmas shows and knit!
Tomorrow I’m posting about Snickerdoodle cupcakes and cookies!
I am so excited to get to this week’s challenge I want to breeze through last week, but I wont.
So last week was about tenderness, and the suggestion was a serious pillow fight in the living room. We had a pillow fight, but in the interest of not breaking our TV, we had the pillow fight in the girls’ room – home to many pillow fights already! I gave back rubs to everyone and they all got into it and they were all giving back rubs to each other! Wee one #3 is in the ‘mimicking everything everyone does’ stage and was really, really into it. It was both heart warming and hilarious. I said last week that I don’t know how long the tenderness will last with the kids as they grow up, especially my son! You never know what the future holds, so for now I’ll take as many snuggled as he’ll give me!
This week’s challenge is to cook things that smell good. As anyone who has ever read my blog knows – I’ve got this locked down. I have considered cooking and baking to be art since I was a kid and first decorated cakes with my Mother and sugar cookies with my Granny. I cook every meal from scratch with the exception of lunch for the kids when they want something ‘fast and boring’. Even breakfast is pancakes or french toast or oatmeal (you know, the kind you actually cook in a pot and not the instant ‘just add boiling water’ kind).
Sometimes I fall in love with a recipe that uses store bought pre-made stuff, I’ll take it a step further (most of the time) and make as much of it from scratch as I can. It sounds a little crazy but I swear it’s never as much work as you think and the house smells so so so good!
These mummie hot dogs are a great example! The recipe I first saw used refrigerated crescent roll dough and hot dogs. While I am not above making my own sausages I do use regular hot dogs, but never pre-fab dough! So I took an extra 10 minutes (literally) and made some pizza dough to wrap around our hot dogs! 10-15 minutes in the oven at 350 and they were done. Even if you do use the pre made dough, the whole house will smell a lot yummier than it would if you just cook up some hot dogs and pop them in buns.
My kids are 10, 4 and 20 months and already I know they all associate me with the kitchen and yummy smells. I even started sneaking veggies into their treats a couple of years ago and no one noticed the chick peas in the chocolate chip cookies or the black beans in the brownies (thanks Gilly!!)
These candy corn cupcakes were made with apple sauce instead of oil and no one even notices!
I made these cakeballs as Halloween treats for the kids classmates and they are made using mashed bananas instead of oil. The orange pumpkin though, he’s 100% orange candy melt, no nutrition there.
Of course there is a spiritual side to this too. The whole point of this challenge series is to make our homes more welcoming and inviting and full of love for our families. This only happens in the kitchen if you’re focusing on your family and your positive intentions while you’re in the cooking and baking. Have you ever seen an overstressed woman preparing a serious supper? It smells wonderful, but the moment a little one tries to cross the threshold into the kitchen, mama freaks out and wants the kids out of her way. It’s not about that, it’s not just the smell. It’s about the feeling of togetherness and warmth we’re creating, and coming from someone who is literally in the kitchen most of the day, I can say with certainty that sometimes it is a little stressful. But just like with everything else in life, when it gets too much for me, I give it up to God and feel a lot calmer. A kitchen that smells amazing is spoiled by a grouchy cook!
I am thankful that today’s post is food-focused so I can post about some of the fun treats I made and didn’t have a chance to post on Thursday and Friday. I’ll sneak in two more pics for this post! Chocolate coated and candy covered mini marshmallows!
There will be a handful of Halloween treats left that I’ll save for another foodie post tomorrow.
I am love, love, loving this challenge series! It occurred to me today that I will likely be begging Courtney to start another one when this one winds down! <3
So with my candle going and with softer music playing in the house (most of the time), I kept my mindfulness of being peaceful and kind to everyone in my home. Recapping last week, I tried to attack the mental clutter. Knitting, baking and cooking have helped a lot with that, as weird as that may sound because I have to focus my attention to the stitches or the ingredients and I can’t let my mind wander. While this is a decent quick fix it does not get to the root of the issue, so that every time I am not knitting or playing in the kitchen I am horribly distracted by hundreds of tiny thoughts that add up to a whole lot of mental clutter. So all week now, when I’ve noticed that it’s creeping in – these completely irrelevant thoughts, I’ve just turned them over to God and refused to make a big deal out of it. That’s not said lightly and yes it is difficult, but this week has been easier since I’ve been shelfing all the internal chatter. So far, so good.
As for the clutter in the house, we’ve been over this. I am very thankful to say there isn’t any, but of course that’s because I clean every day and not everyone has time for that. I wasn’t always this neat and I can honestly say that the overall feeling in a home when everything is put in it’s place is so much calmer and laid back than when there are piles everywhere and everyone is running late and where is that permission slip?!.
This week now we turn our attention to physical tenderness in our quests to make our homes havens for our families. This is an important but sometimes neglected part of being a close family to a lot of people. We’re big on snuggled in our family, but I can sense that it gets harder to keep that up the older they get. My oldest is 10, and he’s always got a hug for me when he gets off the bus after school or when he’s on his way to bed – but will it be like that when he’s 15? I have my doubts lol. For now though, we generally watch movies together on Friday nights and sunggle up under a huge blanket on the big couch in the living room. We also do a whole lot of blanket forts, and that usually results in some close together time too.
I will be mindful of it though, and encourage a serious pillowfest in the living room. I give back rubs to my littlest and to my husband. This week I will be sure to also give some to wee ones #1 and #2, and ask them how they feel about this challenge. I always move the pillar candle form the kitchen counter to the table for supper and they have all seemed to enjoy that. When I was a kid we ate a formal supper in the dining room every night, with candles, linen placemats and napkins – the whole nine. My mother is a very classy lady, one day I’ll get there!
So far in this challenge, we’ve started a routine of lighting a large candle every day in the hub of our home to help us to be mindful of creating a peaceful environment and to say a little prayer for peace when we see it. We’ve started listening to softer music in our homes to set the mood to our homes as welcoming and inviting. I have honestly noticed a difference – and our house is usually really laid back and approachable as it is.
This week’s challenge is to clean up the clutter. I know I mentioned this already recently, but when we moved last month, we eliminated all of our clutter. No really. However, there are three areas that need to be better organized. My accessories collection (I have an unhealthy obsession with sparkly, clinking and/or plastic jewelry and headbands), my craft supplies (this is way more under control that my headbands lol) and my husband’s office.
Spiritually though we are to be looking an our internal clutter. I was going to run around my house and show off my tidy bookshelves and my organized laundry room and pantry with all the labels facing out in neat rows like the grocery store – but that’s not my struggle. I can keep my home free from clutter – I have a serious issue with internal clutter. That’s what I have to work on this week.
When I’m putting wee one #3 down for a nap, and I’m sitting there knitting away, quietly at peace with myself, the internal clutter starts. I start thinking I should have done my fitness DVD twice that day because I had time and I was just lazy, or that I should move yardwork day from Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon so the kids can be playing out there while I’m working. Sometimes, it’s even other people’s clutter, like my husband’s cousin’s relationship issues or problems my friends are having in their jobs or marriages re-sorting to do lists in my head that are actually written down somewhere else. It’s mental clutter because it doesn’t matter if I did my fitness DVD once or twice once it’s done. If I’m thinking of switching yardwork days I should just do it and be done with it, it doesn’t require hours of mulling over. Neither, of course, do problems other people are going through! Seems like a little issue till I realize that I haven’t accomplished much in an afternoon because I’ve been fretting over my sister’s relationship issues or my best friend’s fight with her boss. It’s not that I shouldn’t ever think of these things, it’s that I should not let them rattle around in my head when I should be focusing on what I’m doing, being in the moment, to stop myself from snapping at those around me – those whom I love the best simply because I’m distracted and not giving my full attention. Does anyone else have this problem?!
So that’s what my focus will be this week, cleaning out the mental clutter and fighting to stay present.
So far, I am really enjoying these challenges. Last week, I lit my candle every morning and remembered to say a little prayer for peace in our home and family every time it caught my eye. I found that having the candle there as a reminder, when I started feeling myself pulled in too many directions, I was able to collect myself there at the kitchen sink, turn to my children and say ‘mommy is doing ___ right now, I’d love to help you with ____ in a few minutes just as soon as I can.’ Amazingly, it worked and the wee one who needed me for something so very pressing (like changing a game in the wii or to hear them tattle on one another), stepped back like I made perfect sense and let me finish when I was doing. So that rocked. I will be keeping that going for sure.
This week’s challenge is to play soft music and focus on using peaceful words to maintain peaceful relationships. I’ve always listened to loud, angry music. I’m not a horribly angry person, I just really love Soundgarden. However, at the same time, I have also got a real soft spot for Bing Crosby and Glenn Miller – music my grandparents adored. So this week I will not listen to my 90s rock and will instead focus on that. Courtney also posted a sample of the music she likes the most, it’s a lovely wordless piano piece and it really does change the feel of the house. I think I will switch to that at supper and keep it on through bedtime. I also really love Point of Grace and listen to them quiet a bit throughout the day, which is poppy and borderlines on country, but is also churchy, so I think that fits too.
Once the music is playing, it’s time to focus on the more important aspect of this week – our own reactions to others. As humans in general, I think most of us are guilty of this. I know that as I sit here typing this, I have a clear head and a positive attitude about greeting my husband when he gets up later. However, I also know that when he gets up and he’s got his morning grumpy cloud over him it will be very hard not to react to that! Maintaining a calm voice and greeting him with a smile will be my top priority this afternoon, so far it has worked well this morning with the kids. Anything that keeps the peace around here makes me happy.
Today is Thanksgiving here in Canada and as a family we all have so much to be thankful for it’s wonderful – and important to keep in mind when the little things in life are not going our way. We drove down to Toronto to see my parents, sister, aunt and uncles and had a great time with everyone. My father encouraged our two older kids to climb the tree in their yard and there was wee one #2, up in the tree in her stripey tights and jumper. So cute!! Sidebar: my father later climbed the same tree and broke a branch off! Really! He is 61 years old and still climbing trees!
With this mindset, I have already broken up many sibling squabbles without raising my voice this morning. This is something I am aiming for in my daily life. One squabble at a time!