Saturday, December 31, 2011

The ultimate fresh start

sunrise

I love having a fresh start. I love starting the work week on Monday morning after beginning the week with a refreshing Sabbath. I enjoy beginning new months and new seasons. I love going to bed at night knowing that, should the Lord continue to sustain my life, I will have a fresh start in the morning. And, I love starting a new year.

So often, I fail. I waste time. I snap at my children. I nag my husband. I burn the biscuits. I add too much liquid to bread dough and don't realize it until the rise cycle in the bread maker is done. While most days in my life gratefully go reasonably well, some days are just plain bad. Fallen, sinful creature that I am, I really do thrive on new beginnings--there's something so refreshingly splendid about having a clean slate to work with.
23And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.
24For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.
25Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
26A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
27And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
~Ezekiel 36:23-27
Once upon a time, I was in rebellion against God. I always claimed to love Him, but my actions proved the opposite to be true: I hated Him. Inspite of myself, God graciously saved me, through faith in the work of Christ. He cleansed my filthiness and cut down my idols. He changed the desires of my heart so that I wanted to obey His law.

Salvation is the ultimate new beginning. From Hell to heaven, darkness to light. From hateful rebellion against God to loving submission. The Lord saved me about 8 1/2 years ago.

Since then, I've fallen more times than I can count. I fail in my obedience every day. But,
22It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
23They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
~Lamentations 3:22-23
Like I said, I love having a fresh start. All around us, folks are talking about the beginning of a new year. They are full of hope as they write lists of resolutions. They want to change. They want a new beginning.

As you all consider the beginning of a new year, I want to encourage you all to examine yourselves.

Has your soul experienced the fresh start of salvation? If not, don't delay in repenting and believing the gospel of Christ, Who is indeed powerful and mighty to save. Are you serving the Lord faithfully with your life? If you are, consider what you can do to serve Him better, by His grace. If not, why?

Happy New Year to you all. I truly hope 2012 is your most fruitful and blessed year yet.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

To my sweet Benjamin on your first birthday






My dearest Benjamin,

Having grown up as an only child without any boys around (at least not at home), though I was thrilled, I wondered if I would know what to do with a boy when we found out your gender in the middle of my pregnancy. As you grew in my womb, and even more once I held you in my arms for the very first time (after a beautiful, peaceful home birth), I fell completely in love. It's hard to believe it's already been a year--and as much as I loved you then, without a doubt, I love you even more now.


You are an inquisitive little explorer. You're not walking yet (though you did take a step the other day--but you quickly fell down, primarily because of a lack of confidence, I think), but you can crawl quite fast and you cruise around a lot. And you love to climb--which puts you in interesting predicaments at times. Strangely, you are also always finding ways to pinch your fingers. Hopefully someday you'll learn to avoid this!

You are also a sensitive little man, often seeking the approval of others. And with your adorable smile, you usually get it. Sometimes your feelings get really hurt when you are reprimanded. Hopefully that means you won't need too many spankings!  You love your big sister. It brings so much joy to my heart to see the two of you playing together. These days she helps me keep you out of trouble, but I bet one day you become a wonderful protector for her!

You don't say a whole lot of words yet (perhaps it's a boy thing?). Mostly, you says "Da-da" and more recently "Daaaaddy." Occasionally, you'll humor me and muster up a "Maaa-maa," which I love! You have also said "Doggie" and "Baba." You also like to point at things you want to see. And, when you raise your arms up signaling for me to hold you, it's really hard to resist!


You love to nurse and didn't start eating three solid meals per day until this fall. I am so thankful for all the good nutrition you've gotten through breast milk, and I wonder if that is part of the reason you have yet to get sick! You were much more attached to me than Katie was and still don't sleep through the night consistently (though you are getting there!).  However, your laid back and sweet disposition and irresistibly adorable four-toothed smile adds so much sweetness to my days.

When I look at you, I am amazed to think that one day, Lord willing, you'll be a man. My prayer for you today and always is that you will repent and believe the gospel at a young age, and that you'll grow into a godly man (like your daddy, whose name you bear)--one fit to provide for and lead a family of your own in advancing Christ's Kingdom.

My firstborn son, I could not be more thankful that the Lord gave you to me. I love you more than words can even say.

With all my love,

Mama

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas!


"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this." 
~Isaiah 9:6-7 

We hope you have a very blessed and joyful Christmas! 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Bloggers wanted to review cloth diapering products



As I've mentioned in the past, we started cloth diapering when Benjamin was just a couple weeks old. He is approaching his first birthday, and we're still at it. I love it and don't have any plans to go back to disposables! We just recently had a few diapers added to our stash, and now we have enough that Katie can use them too (she is mostly potty trained, but still sleeps in a diaper). 

Here is an opportunity I thought some of you might be interested in.


Kebbie's Diaper Bag, an online cloth diaper store, is looking for cloth diapering Mommy Bloggers to review products. If you are interested, go here for more information.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Prioritizing housework when you're tired

I became a mama in June of 2008 when Katie took up residence in my womb.  Without a doubt, the last 3 and a half years have been the best years of my life. Bringing two precious little people into the world (Katie's birth, Benjamin's birth) and having the joy of being their mama has been an incredible, beautiful, amazing, sanctifying, awesome experience. I wouldn't trade life with my babies for anything!

But, I'd be lying if I said it was easy. Caring for a young family really is hard work. I have spent most days in this season of life in varying degrees of tiredness. These past 3 and a half years, I have gone through two pregnancies and labors/deliveries. I've lived through the newborn fog twice. I've either been woken by a baby kicking me in the bladder or one who wants to nurse for the vast majority of nights since becoming a mama. I look at my two-year-old running laps around the house and wish I had half of her energy.

So often, I excuse disorganization and messiness in our home because I'm tired, saying to myself that I will be a better homemaker in the "next" season of life, when I'm not pregnant/nursing/chasing toddler(s). But the other day, I had a thought:  

We don't believe in birth control* and I'm only 21. There is a good chance that, in God's providence, this season of being tired will last another 20 years or more. Perhaps I should just accept it and try to do what I need to in spite of my sleepiness.

Thinking about this over the course of a few days was pretty motivating. In truth, I don't feel any less tired when I neglect my housework. I find that, more than being too tired to do the work I need to do around our house, most days I'm just too tired to feel motivated. 


Lack of motivation is a lame excuse for not keeping our home with excellence. God has ordained that I be tired during this season of my life, and He has also commanded me to industriously keep our home for His glory and the benefit of my family.

I am definitely not saying that tired mommies of little ones shouldn't give themselves some slack (it's unlikely you'll come over this week and find me scrubbing baseboards, washing ceilings, or moving our big bookshelves to vacuum underneath them), but we still need to our best, even if that's not quite as good as it will be when we're beyond this season (and also have older children who can help us).


I have found that having a prioritized to-do list works really well for me right now. Keeping our bedroom and the kitchen clean and the clothes washed are pretty close to the top of the list. A quick bathroom swish & swipe every morning keeps our bathrooms looking clean enough in between deep cleanings. A 5 minute pick-up in the afternoon keeps the toy clutter down in the living room.


One of the best things about a prioritized to-do list is that it leaves plenty of space for me to drop what I'm enjoy my babies. I can read books or get down on the floor and play because the most important things on my list are done first.

Whoever said, "When you're a mother, the days are long and the years are short," was right. Rather than exhaustion and chaos defining this tiring season of life, I want it to be defined by God-honoring simplicity and treasured times with my babies.

How do y'all deal with doing what you need to do when you're tired most of the time?

*We believe that, barring some unusual situations, Christian couples should not try to avoid having children. In short, this is because God commands us to be fruitful and multiply and to take dominion. One of the best ways to take dominion is to raise up godly children to advance the Kingdom in the next generation. Since God promises to provide for all our needs, He can be trusted to plan our families well.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Menu Plan, December 5-11

Hi, y'all! I've missed blogging, and am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things this week with a few posts. Thanks so much for sticking around during my time away.  I just needed a break to refocus. My house and family still aren't perfect, but I think my perspective has changed a bit and I am working towards a more simple and organized life for my people.

I can't believe it's already December. This year has really flown by at lightening speeds. I'm attributing it to closing out last year by giving birth to Benjamin and spending a good chunk of this year in a sleep-deprived state. :)

Anyway, here's what I'm planning to cook this week.

Breakfasts:
Soaked baked oatmeal with apples, raisins, and carrots (which I promise is not as weird as it sounds--think carrot cake!)
Banana bread, scrambled eggs
Potato, spinach, bacon, egg, and cheese skillet

Lunches:
Leftovers
Smoothies (if we get a warmer day!)
Taco corn fritters (from the freezer), black beans

Dinners:
Church children's Christmas party
Sherrie's Aussie Chicken (this is SO good!), mashed sweet potatoes, salad
Baked nachos (with leftover shredded chicken instead of beef)
Potato soup (with cooked, crumbled bacon instead of ham and chicken broth instead of water/bullion)
Beef burritos on homemade tortillas
Homemade pizza
Dinner at the farm with Ben's family

What are y'all fixing this week? If you need some meal-planning inspiration, but sure to check OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Life is a vapor

Steam coming off hot pool in Yellowstone park wyoming


"For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." ~James 4:14

Sitting around a fire with our family the other night, the question was posed: What would you do differently if you knew you only had two years left to live?

I listed some things I'd change and someone suggested that I ought to live my life the same way I'd live it if I knew when I would die. I've heard this before (who hasn't?), but for some reason, it really hit me this time.

And then again during Sunday's sermon, the same truth was discussed: You should live your life as one who is not promised another year, or even another day--because you're not. 

I'm only 21. I go through my days assuming that I've got at least another 50-60 years left before my soul says farewell to my body. I probably have another 16-18 years to train Katie while she still lives with me at home, and even longer with my little man.

But, bad things happen to families because of the fall. Children bury their parents before they graduate high school. Sometimes, parents bury their children. And when tragedy strikes, it doesn't really matter what the chances were that it wouldn't happen.

While I know I'll never be perfect this side of eternity, I want to strive to live a life without regrets. I don't want to waste time on things that don't matter. I want to really live every day like it could be my very last.  

 I've been thinking about this a lot--not in a morbid way. I don't want to live worrying about when I'm going to die. But, I want to live purposefully and use my days in a way I wouldn't regret even if I did only have two years left. But, really, even if I have another 80 years left--why waste any of it?

All of this talk and thought is vanity if it doesn't effect any change. How will it look for me? I'm not exactly sure.

I've been working on a revamped time budget/schedule for myself with these kind of questions in mind:
::What would I teach my children if I knew I only had a year left with them?
::What kind of effort would I pour into my marriage if I knew when death would part us?  
::How much time would I spend on facebook? (*gulp*)
::What necessary tasks would I streamline?
::What would I blog about?
::How much more effort would I spend studying Scripture and praying if I knew my face-to-face meeting with the Lord was imminent?
 ::What things would I forget about because they don't really matter that much?

By God's grace, I'm renewed in my determination to live my days out purposefully for His glory. You only get one chance at life. And then, like a vapor, you'll be gone. 

What about your life would you change if you knew you would stand before God before the end of 2012?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Full hands, full heart

Some people would describe me a "just" a housewife. I would venture to guess most of them have never been a homemaker before. (And, I'm guessing many of you are "Amen"ing in your mind!)

My hands are full. There is never a lack of thing to do--messes to clean, boo-boos to kiss, books to read, diapers to change, dishes to wash, laundry to fold, meals to cook, discipline to administer. My days are long, tiring, and beautiful. Even though I am occasionally tempted to complain about things, if I took an honest look at the life the Lord has blessed me with, I wouldn't have it any differently. It is the life I dreamed of and prayed for.

 

What else can I say? God is gracious. Ben and our children fill my life with such incredible joy. Truly, I could not ask for more. My hands are certainly full, but you should see my heart.

Thank you all for sticking around during a quieter season on my blog. I've been trying to find a balance with all the things that are vying for my time. I'm planning to be back to regular posting soon!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Menu Plan, October 24-30






It has been so nice having Mom here. Whenever she visits, I really wish she lived right around the corner! But, since she doesn't, I have to just enjoy her while I can. :) She'll be heading home Thursday (what will I do without her?!).

Here's what I have on the menu for this week:

Breakfasts:
Arepas, scrambled eggs
Baked oatmeal
Huevos rancheros
Bagels with ham and cream cheese (a quick breakfast for Thursday since we'll have to leave before 7 to get Mom to the airport--yikes!)
Pancake and sausage muffins, scrambled eggs

Lunches:
Leftovers
Smoothies (fruit/yogurt/spinach or peanut butter)
Quesadillas
Taco corn fritters (from the freezer), black beans

Dinners:
Sherry's Aussie Chicken, baked potatoes, salad
Salsa verde beef tacos, rice and beans
Chili
Cheeseburger Potato Casserole, mixed veggies, salad
Homemade Pizza, salad

What are y'all fixing this week? For menu planning inspiration, check out Menu Plan Monday and the Plan-It-Don't-Panic Challenge.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Menu Plan, 10/17-10/23






Last week was really busy! I was away from home a lot more than usual. While I enjoyed getting out, I was reminded of why I am usually intentional about staying home! There are some repeats on the menu plan this week, as some things got shuffled around and traded out for quicker meals.

My mom is coming up this week, which I am SO excited about! Thursday morning can't get here soon enough! It's always so wonderful to have Mom around. What a blessing it is to have a godly mother. :)

Here's what I have on the plan for this week--though I confess that after Wednesday, things are allowed to mix up depending on what Mom and I feel like cooking together. :)

Breakfasts:
Soaked baked oatmeal
Homemade bread (I make it in my amazing bread maker and I'm still able to soak it. I'll have to tell y'all about it one of these days!), scrambled eggs
Pancake and sausage muffins, scrambled eggs

Lunches:
Taco Corn Fritters (from the freezer)
Chicken Taco Soup (from the freezer)
Pizza pockets (leftover from dinner tonight)
Smoothies (Peanut butter or yogurt/fruit)

Dinners:
Pizza pockets, salad
Salmon patties, brown rice with veggies
Homemade chicken nuggets, carrot sticks, macaroni and cheese (got a really good deal on this recently)
Chili
Homemade breakfast hot pockets, applesauce (didn't make these breakfast pockets last week)

What are y'all eating this week? If you need some inspiration, be sure to check out OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday and the Plan-It-Don't-Panic Challenge at Keeper of the Home!

10 Goals for this week


Inspired by Crystal's weekly goals posts, I want to share my goals for this week with y'all. I have been meaning to start writing out and working towards weekly goals for quite some time now, and I just haven't done it. I'm hoping some accountability in the form of a blog post will be the shove in the right direction I need.

My main reason for goal-setting is that I do not want to reach the end of my life and regret wasting my days on things that don't really matter. I want to live intentionally and fulfill the tasks the Lord has called me to, making the most of the (limited number of) days He has given me.

With that in mind, here are my goals for the week (minus marriage goals, which I won't be sharing publicly):

Personal:
1. Spend time every day reading Scripture and praying. I am better with this when I'm able to rise early, but the past several weeks, Benjamin has been teething and waking up a couple times every night. I've been too tired too wake up early, but setting aside time for this is important even when I'm sleepy.

2.Work out 3 times.

Mothering:
3. Spend 15 minutes of one-on-one time with Katie every day while Benjamin takes his morning nap.

4. Take the children outside for at least a few minutes every day--before it gets too cold to enjoy much outside play!

5. Take some time while Mom is here to plan an early "preschool" routine for Katie.

6. Work with Katie 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the evening, teaching her to keep her room clean.

Homemaking:

7. Do my daily chores every day, including a load of laundry from start to finish.

8. Organize our freezer (which I've been having a hard time shutting every time I open it to get something out!).

Business:
9. Work 1 1/2 hours per day for my part-time job from home.

10. Work on coming up with a marketing plan for Ben's business.

Crystal is hosting a weekly goals link-up today. Head over there to share your goals for the week!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Healthier Homemaking in No Time: Intro

 Most moms want to provide a healthy environment for their children to grow up in. We want to be good stewards of all we have--our children, our homes, and our own bodies. But, with all the information available, it can be so hard to know where to start! If you're like me, the thought of adding something extra to your already overflowing plate is overwhelming. Most days, I do well to keep the baby from choking on all the things he shoves in his mouth, get some food made and the dishes cleaned before said food rots, do some laundry--and maybe take a shower.

Nevertheless, since I laid eyes on my first babe two and a half years ago, I've had a strong burden to give her (and now her brother, as well!) the healthiest start I can. And, over the course of time, I've found that (thankfully!) a lot of healthy changes really aren't hard to make at all.

During the next several weeks, I want to share with y'all simple changes you can make in your home that won't take you any extra time, but can have a great long-term impact on your family's health.

We'll talk about changes you can make in your cooking to remove harmful things from your family's diet, and also things you can do to give their nutrient intake a big boost. We'll also talk about changes you can make throughout your home to prevent your family from being exposed to many harmful (scary!) chemicals so often present in homes today--many of which most folks aren't even aware of! Some of these changes won't cost you a thing, while others will. Everything I'll be talking about are changes we have chosen to make because we think they're worth it. 

I hope y'all are inspired in your journey to healthier homemaking for the glory of God!


I'd love to hear from you! If any of you have questions or suggestions for this series, or would like to write a guest post, please contact me at maryjo at covenanthomemaking dot com.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Menu Plan, October 10-16



I did some impromptu freezer cooking throughout the week last week. It's a little bit of extra work, but it's so nice to have quick meals in the freezer--especially for lunch. My go-to lunch for months and months has been a delicious smoothie, but smoothie season is quickly coming to a halt as cooler weather moves in. We're not big on sandwiches since good quality sandwich meats are so pricey, but I love being able to have something quick at lunchtime so I don't have to spend a whole lot more time in the kitchen. Since I'm on a kick, I'm planning to double and freeze several recipes throughout the week this week, too. 

Here's what I've got planned:

Breakfasts:
Breakfast burritos (scrambled eggs, crumbled sausage, black beans, cheese, salsa, and sour cream in a tortilla)
Pancake and sausage muffins (I made these last week and they were great! I'm going to double and soak the recipe and freeze some), scrambled eggs
Soaked whole wheat bread, scrambled eggs
Soaked baked oatmeal

Lunches:
Taco corn fritters (from the freezer), beans, carrot sticks
Chicken taco soup (from the freezer)
Super simple bean burritos (going to make a double batch and freeze--I made the tortillas last week)
Snack lunch
Leftovers

Dinners:
Potato soup (I use chicken broth instead of water and skip the bullion)
Salmon patties, brown rice with steamed veggies
Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, salad
Homemade breakfast hot pockets (going to freeze a bunch for quick breakfasts), applesauce
Homemade pizza pockets (going to freeze some of these too), salad

What are y'all cooking this week?

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday and the Plan-It-Don't-Panic Challenge.



Friday, October 7, 2011

Six ways to love your husband when (even when you're exhausted)

Flowers


"God's will for every Christian wife is that her most important ministry be to her husband (Genesis 2:18). After a wife's own personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, nothing else should have greater priority. Her husband should be the primary benefactor of his wife's time and energy, not the recipient of what may be left over at the end of the day." 
~The Excellent Wife, page 4 (emphasis mine)


As I spend my days (and nights!) caring for two young children, it can be hard to remember that my primary ministry is to my husband--not my children. My number one goal in life must be to be the best wife I can be for him, to the glory of God. This is what I'm called to--and truly, if you're striving to be the absolute best wife you can be, you'll probably do a good job with your children too.

Your husband loves you. He married you because he wanted to spend his whole life with you. And he deserves better than your worst at the end of a day of chasing babies. There may not be any way to avoid being tired at the end of the day. So, what can you do?

Here are a couple suggestions (and I'm totally preaching to myself here, too!):

::Take ten minutes before he comes home to freshen things up. It's doable! In just two minutes, you could brush your hair and change your shirt if it's covered in spit-up. Then, spend the rest of the 10 minutes picking up messes. If your children are old enough, enlist their help!

::Keep your room picked up. A few minutes per day of tidying can make a world of difference. When you get up in the morning, make your bed (as long as your husband isn't still in it!), pick up dirty clothes, and when you leave your room, take a couple things that don't belong (toys the children dragged in, the glass on the nightstand, etc.). A clean room is more relaxing. And, let's face it--it's more romantic, too.

::Don't unload on him. If I've learned anything in my 3 1/2 years of marriage, it's that men are not as chatty as women. While I definitely think you should keep an open line of communication with your husband, his first minutes home should not be filled with your complaints about the day.

::Make sure he has clean clothes. Doing a load of laundry every day or every other day isn't that much work. Making sure your husband has clean underwear, socks, and clothes to wear to work should be a top priority. Here are some of my tips for staying caught up on laundry.

::The way to a man's heart is through his belly. You may not have the time or energy for gourmet meals, but you are going to be eating something every day. Keep your husband's preferences in mind when preparing food rather than catering to your children's picky-ness. Having a menu plan is a lifesaver for me in this regard. If I plan our menus and make a list of everything we need, I know I have food on hand for a meal for Ben every evening.

::Remember the other way to his heart. You know what I'm talking about. Even when you're tired, it's really important to bless your husband in this way. Look forward to it. Make time for it. Enjoy it. Enough said.


I'd love to hear from y'all--especially the older, more seasoned wives among us. Any advice you can share for us younger women in the spirit of Titus 2 would be much appreciated!

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link. Thanks for supporting this site!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Chicken Taco Soup

Excuse the Blackberry photo. Our camera was MIA and dinner was getting cold!

With fall weather setting in around here, I've been craving cool-weather foods. This delicious, nourishing, and simple taco soup definitely fits the bill. You can throw it together just half an hour before dinner time, or let it simmer all day in the crock pot. Either way, it's delicious!

Chicken Taco Soup
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 28oz. can diced tomatoes (I puree mine in the blender, as Ben doesn't care for tomato chunks)
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1 can corn, drained (I use organic to avoid genetically engineered corn--yuck!)
4 1/2 cups cooked beans, or 2-3 cans (I use a combination of black and pinto)
1 packet of taco seasoning mix
1 packet of Ranch dressing mix
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

Combine all ingredients and let them simmer for 20-30 minutes (or as long as you want--generally, the longer the better). Serve with cheese (we like queso fresco--yum!), sour cream, hot sauce, tortilla chips, green onions, etc.

This soup is so versatile. You can use whatever you have on hand. Feel free to substitute ground beef for the chicken (or add extra beans for a meatless dinner). You can use tomato sauce instead of diced tomatoes. If your family likes, you could add peppers and onions. Whatever sounds good to you!

What's your favorite soup to make when the days get a little cooler?

This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Menu Plan, October 3-9



Another month has come and gone. Can y'all believe it's October already?! We've definitely started having some fall weather, and some of our leaves are starting to change. I really enjoy fall, though it seems to turn into winter far too quickly in our little corner of the world. Now, to find some canned pumpkin on sale...

In any case, here's what we'll be eating this week.

Breakfasts:
Apple baked oatmeal (soaked)
Easy morning glory muffins (from the freezer--I made a double batch Saturday), scrambled eggs
Biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs

Lunches:
Pizza pockets (I'm going to make soaked, whole wheat crust in the bread machine), carrot sticks
Leftovers
Taco Corn fritters, fruit
Smoothies, if there's a warmer day (I'm going to miss smoothies during the cold weather!)

Dinners:
Rice and bean burritos with salsa, sour cream, lettuce, etc.
Chili, cornbread
Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, salad
Three cheese garlic chicken pasta, salad

What are y'all fixing this week?

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday and Plan-It-Don't-Panic Challenge.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Your season

Fall leaves in Vancouver


"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven..." 
~Ecclesiastes 3:1

Ah, the wisdom of Solomon! To every thing there is a season. Just as the seasons change outside, so do the seasons change in our lives.

If you're a single girl living at home, this season should be used to serve your family and the Body of Christ, learn as much as you can, and focus your energies on advancing the Kingdom in ways you won't be able to during the next season of your life, should the Lord give you a husband and children. If you're an older woman with grown children you are in a season of life when instructing younger women (and hopefully, helping your children raise their own!) is a biblically mandated priority (see Titus 2).

As for those of us wives with young children, it's not our season to prioritize outside ministry or outside work. Our ministry and work is in our home. It's our season to pour everything we possibly can into raising up the next generation of Christ-followers. Growing our children into godly adults is the best gift we can give the church, the world, and future generations with this season of our lives.

Like the beauty of fall, this beautiful season of life is so short and so fleeting. I know the days feel long--by the time the children are tucked into bed, you're tired and there's still work to do. But I also know that no matter how long the days feel, the years really do fly by.


One day your babies will be all grown up, and the outside ministries and outside work you'd like to do will still be there when they're not. I want to encourage y'all to relish this season of life with sweet little ones. Spend yourself loving them and leading them to submit to Christ, creating a home where they can be nurtured and making memories they will cherish forever--all for the glory of the One Who graciously gave them to you.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Menu Plan, September 26-October 2

Apple Baked Oatmeal--a favorite in our house!

I'm saving up for a meat purchase next week, so we're going to be mostly eating from the pantry this week. I also borrowed a canner from a friend, and I'm planning to make up a bunch of applesauce with some of the apples we have left from the two bushels I bought earlier this month.

Here's what I've got planned.

Breakfasts:
Apple baked oatmeal (soaked)
Huevos Rancheros, black beans
Applesauce bread, scrambled eggs

Lunches:
Snack-y lunch
Leftovers
Smoothies (Peanut Butter or yogurt/fruit)

Dinners:

Potato soup
Rice and bean burritos with cheese, salsa, lettuce, sour cream
Salmon patties, baked potatoes, salad
High protein alfredo sauce, pasta, salad

What are y'all fixing this week? Please feel free to share in the comments. I'm always keeping an eye out for tasty new recipes!

This post is linked to:

Friday, September 23, 2011

Visionary Womanhood Gatherings eBook Review & Giveaway

We live in a society completely and utterly obsessed with self. All too often, people bring children into the world just because that's what you do. They have no desire devote themselves to the great work of children rearing and they lack vision. My husband and I have decided to have as many children as we're able to for the purpose of raising them up to be used in Kingdom advancement. My goal is to use these years with my children at home to pour my life into them so that in 20 years or so, they'll go out and do the same. Our vision is not just for the here and now--it's a vision of generational obedience to Christ, that His gospel might be believed and His law obeyed in our descendants and in all the world.

Thankfully we are part of a faithful, very like-minded church. Outside our tiny congregation, though, it's not every day we come across people who share our vision. And when we do, it makes my heart flutter with excitement. When I stumbled across Visionary Womanhood a couple weeks ago (this post, actually), I was thrilled to not only find another very like-minded woman--but one who blogs. Yes! And, when I saw she had an eBook coming out this month, I jumped at the opportunity to review it.

This week, the Visionary Womanhood Gatherings ebook was released. Reading it was a breath of fresh air. Walking this road of counter-cultural, Christ-centered parenting is not always easy. Having others who are walking alongside you, going through the same things you're going through is a great blessing.

The first part of the book is an explanation of Visionary Womanhood. It is full of biblical truth and sweet encouragement. The second part of the book explains what Visionary Womanhood Gathering is--basically, it's a gathering of like-minded women to worship, pray for their posterity, and be edified together by solid, biblical teaching. The third section of the book gives you the tools, including a complete two year curriculum, for starting a Visionary Womanhood Gathering in your area.

Even if you don't feel like starting a group is something you want to do, I highly encourage you to read this eBook. You'll certainly be encouraged--and who knows? Maybe you'll change your mind.

To celebrate the release of the eBook, Natalie is offering a discount of $2 when you check out using the code LAUNCHWEEK, bringing the price down to just $2.99. After today, the price goes back up to $4.99.

I'm also excited to announce that Natalie is giving away one copy of her ebook to one of you all! To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment on this post sharing what resource has been the greatest source of encouragement to you as you strive to be a godly woman.

For bonus entries:
:: Like Visionary Womanhood on Facebook.
:: Subscribe to the Visionary Womanhood RSS feed.

:: Like Covenant Homemaking on Facebook.
:: Follow me on twitter (@mrsmurch)
:: Subscribe to the Covenant Homemaking RSS feed.

Please leave a separate comment for each entry! The winner for this giveaway will be chosen Wednesday, September 28--so get your comments in before then!

Disclosure: I was given a free copy of this ebook to review. No other compensation was provided. Sales links in this post are affiliate links. If you order through them, I receive a small kick-back. Thank you for supporting this site!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

54% off natural/organic groceries and more at Abe's Market






Abe's Market is a natural/organic grocery website. They also carry natural household products, cosmetics, and items for children/babies. Today on Eversave, you can get a $50 voucher to Abe's Market for only $25. If you open an Eversave account for the first time, you'll get an automatic $3 credit, bringing the total down to just $22. Abe's Market offers free shipping on all orders over $49, so if you use the whole voucher, you'll receive free shipping with your order.

I purchased this deal and am excited to try out some new products (and pick up some items I buy that are harder to find on sale!), and wanted to pass it along to y'all as well.

Disclosure: This is my referral link. If you purchase the deal through the link, I will receive a small kick-back. Thanks for supporting Covenant Homemaking!

Thawing baby food quickly without a microwave

I usually feed Benjamin a little bit of whatever we're eating for dinner (typically a cooked veggie), but occasionally when there's nothing to share with him, I take a couple cubes of homemade baby food out of the fridge. Obviously, it's ideal to think of this in the morning so they can thaw out. But, if you're like me, you won't always remember.

I wanted to share a quick tip with y'all for thawing out homemade baby food quickly without the microwave.
I have a set of small stainless steel prep. bowls that we received as a wedding gift. Last night, we had pizza braid and salad for dinner, so there wasn't anything to share with Benjamin. I put two baby food cubes in one of the small bowls, and placed the bowl in a pan of water on the stove. I let the water boil for a just few minutes, and it thawed the food out and warmed it up.

Easy, no extra clean-up, and no microwave. :)

Here's a photo. Sorry it's so blurry! There was steam coming up from the boiling water.


For more kitchen tips, check out Tammy's Recipes' Kitchen Tip Tuesday.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Menu Plan, September 19-26


We've had a short burst of fall weather the past few days, but the weatherman is saying it's not here to stay and things will be back up in the 80's this week. As I write this, it seems to still be chilly out, so we'll see. I love cooler weather, but truly--I don't like that it means winter is right around the corner. Having grown up in Florida (yes, I wore flip-flops in January!), the cold Virginia winters have yet to grow on me.

Here's what I have in the plans for this week of almost-fall-but-not-quite weather. You'll notice LOTS of apple recipes, as we're still making our way through the two bushes I bought last weekend. They are still nice and crisp, but I think I'll need to start putting them up this week. I'm planning to make some apple butter and freeze the rest using this method. Any of you all have a great apple butter recipe to share?

What are y'all cooking this week?

Breakfasts:
:: Soaked baked oatmeal with apples
:: Soaked oatmeal pancakes with homemade apple topping
:: Soaked apple coffee cake (new recipe), scrambled eggs

Lunches:
:: Leftovers
:: Smoothies (Peanut Butter or Yogurt/Fruit)

Dinners:
:: Pizza braid, salad
:: Taco corn fritters, watermelon
:: Salmon patties (I haven't tried this particular recipe before, but thought it sounded really good), fruit, salad
:: Rice and bean burritos (make some extras for the freezer)
:: Italian Cream Cheese Chicken Casserole, salad, homemade Italian braid loaf bread, Slab Apple Pie and vanilla ice cream

For lots of other meal planning inspiration, check out OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday and Keeper of the Home's Plan It-Don't Panic Challenge.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Just Mommy & me

I usually make great efforts to see that Katie and Benjamin go down for naps at around the same time in the afternoon because, let's face it, even though I love my babies to the moon and back, it's nice to have a little bit of quiet in the middle of the day in order to avoid insanity. ;)

Some days, like today, it just doesn't happen--and I try to go with the flow when things don't go according to plan. Benjamin went down for his nap at about 12:30, and Katie didn't seem tired so I let her stay up for a while. We had a grand time. We worked on learning the alphabet with magnetic "ABC's letters", and we built towers with blocks. And of course, she had a blast knocking them over. It was especially funny when the tower fell on Mommy. ;)

When it was naptime, Katie ran in Benjamin's room and woke him up. I think it was a (lame!) last-ditch effort on her part to avoid naptime. Needless to say, it didn't work. So, she went down for a nap just as he got up. After I finished up a couple things in the kitchen, I had some time to play with just Benjamin. We tickled and played with toys just us.

This may all seem pretty ordinary. However, most days I don't get to spend extended time with each child one-on-one. That's not to say there's no one-on-one time; it's just we are mostly all together. I was amazed at how their sweet little personalities shined through when I had opportunity to play with them individually. I guess when I'm with both of them all day it's easy to think of them as a pair of children ("the kids"), rather than two unique individuals. Katie loves to play with puzzles, blocks, dolls, and her "ABC's letters" and gets so excited when the opportunity prevents itself. Benjamin really likes to chew on things and roll around--and he sure is ticklish!

Will I change the routine so this can happen every day? Probably not. But, for the afternoon not going according to plan, it was a fun opportunity to "get to know" my children as individuals just a little better.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

This week's grocery trip: Kroger

As I mentioned in this week's menu plan post, I took some time yesterday to overhaul my coupon binder, and I picked out the right week to take care of it!

Kroger's current Buy 10, get $5 off sale has several healthier (or perhaps, less unhealthy?) items that I was able to get at really good prices. I also got some great prices on dairy that was reduced for quick sale.

This may not appear to be a very balanced bunch of food, but please bear in mind we already had lots of items on hand (produce, dairy, meat, grains, etc.).

Here's a breakdown of what I purchased, along with applicable coupon links.

10 Item Sales Event
:: 4 bags (one isn't in the picture because it was already eaten at Ben's brothers' house last night) of Boulder Canyon Natural chips--$0.49/bag with this coupon
:: 1 package of Oscary Mayer Selects angus hot dogs--free with coupon (also eaten last night)
:: 2 boxes Barbara's Bakery natural cereal--$1.49/box with this coupon
:: 2 Prego pasta sauce--$0.99/jar with a coupon from the Sunday paper
:: 1 Marzetti Simply Dressed natural salad dressing -- $1.49 with coupon from the Sunday paper

Other Items:
:: Diapers for Katie--$4.99 with Kroger eCoupon
:: 2 packages Lifeway BioKefir -- $1.15/package using coupons from mambosprouts.com
:: 1lb. Gunnoe's Sage flavored country sausage (the only sausage at "my" Kroger without MSG!) -- $3.49
:: 1 pint organic half and half -- $1.79
:: 3 6oz. cups Stoneyfield Organic yogurt -- $0.50 for all three after a coupon from the Stoneyfield site
:: 6 oz. package sliced Muenster cheese -- reduced for $1.29
:: 3 1lb. packages fresh whole milk Mozzarella -- reduced to $1.90/lb. (this is a GREAT price for good quality Mozzarella!)
:: 32oz. container Stoneyfield Organic whole milk plain yogurt -- $2.59 after coupon from the Stoneyfield site
:: 2.09lbs grapes -- $2.05 (also eaten last night)

Do y'all use coupons? Did you get any great deals this week?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Menu Plan, September 12-18


We had a nice time visiting with family for the second part of the week last week. We left Grandma's house way too early Sunday morning to get Dad to the airport on time, and then headed to church (we got there 15 minutes before the service started, which definitely felt like a success!).

Pretty exhausted from the trip, I slept in this morning (thanks to my sweet husband!) and we ate simply today, including hot dogs for dinner. I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of things tomorrow (and perhaps I'll get through the pile of dishes waiting for me in the kitchen!). I did take some time today to overhaul my coupon binder after a couple months of allowing it to collect dust, and I had a pretty successful grocery trip that I'll share more about tomorrow!

I got two bushels of low-spray apples from an orchard near Grandma's house for about $0.35/lb, so I'm excited to delve into canning for the first time. Any tips for a newbie?

Here's what I have planned for our meals this week:

Breakfasts:
Soaked apple cinnamon muffins, scrambled eggs
Oatmeal pancakes with apple topping
Soaked baked oatmeal  (probably with apples!)

Lunches:
Smoothies (yogurt and fruit, or peanut butter)
Leftovers

Dinners:
Hot dogs (all beef; nitrite/nitrate/by-product free), grapes, potato chips
Braised rosemary chicken and potatoes in the crock pot (new recipe), green beans, salad
Marinated chicken over brown rice, green beans, salad
Baked spaghetti, salad, green beans, rolls

What are y'all fixing this week?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Lessons from a lousy day

To say that the first half of today was not one of the highlights of my mothering career would be a major understatement. The children and I are a few hours of home visiting my grandma with my Dad who flew in Thursday from Florida.

Last night (to make a long story short) we started the bedtime routine at 8:00 and about 11:00, Katie finally went to sleep and Benjamin was still crying. Benjamin was up before 4:00am, and ended up spending the night with Katie and I in the double bed.

Needless to say, I was an exhausted grump when it came time to get up. I was impatient with both of my children, and grumbled my way through the morning and early afternoon. Then naptime came, and Katie went down great--and then got up about five minutes later. The get up, get disciplined, cry and go back to bed pattern continued for quite a while.

In between cycles, I was trying to read my Bible. Knowing I needed a major attitude adjustment in my attitude toward my children, I started reading Psalm 127 and 128.

"Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD; and the fruit of the womb is His reward." (Psalm 127:3)

"Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways.  For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD." (Psalm 128:1-4)

God has been gracious to give us children. They are a reward and a precious blessing from Him. Mothering Katie and Benjamin in a way that glorifies God is one of my foremost callings in life (second to being Ben's help meet), and like anything God calls us to--there will be trials along the way.

"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." (James 1:2-5)

Repeated disobedience may not seem like much of a trial, but I'm sure you other mamas know that when you're exhausted and grumpy, it can really be hard to keep your cool when children just disobey over and over again for (seemingly) no reason. So for me, on this day, it was a trial--even if a small one. And, this trial (and any trial) is for the purpose of refining me.

Since I became a mother, I have known that our children were mine to bring into submission to Christ. But, I hadn't ever really thought about the fact that not only was I given to my children for that purpose in their life, but they were given to me to accomplish that purpose in my life as well.

This post is linked to Finer Things Friday.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My Memories Suite Review & Giveaway!


Before my first child was born, I had grand plans to make beautiful, elaborate scrapbooks for my children. Then, reality hit and I find I do well to actually move the pictures from the camera to the computer. {Please tell me I'm not the only one!} 

I was recently contacted by Liz, from My Memories Suite, about reviewing their digital scrapbooking software. After browsing their website, I very excitedly accepted their offer. I have spent some time playing around with the software and have been really happy with it!

I think my favorite thing about My Memories Suite is how easy it is to use! I was able to create a digital scrapbook of some of family's main highlights from last year (9 pages with photos, embellishments, and captions) in just a couple of hours. It was my first time using the program, so there was definitely some learning to be done, but once I clicked around a little bit I got the hang of it pretty quickly. I was really pleased with how my little digital scrapbook turned out.

The My Memories Suite software comes with several ready-made templates, background papers, embellishments, and layouts--which I really like! For the more creative, you can definitely create a huge variety of layouts. And, for those of you who want something more straightfoward and simple, there are plain photo layouts you can choose without any embellishments. In addition to the things included with the software, there are several FREE templates you can download from the website, as well as templates you can purchase starting at just $0.99.

For me during this season of life, I think My Memories Suite is a great way to save our memories (I have big plans for using the software to make a yearly scrapbook for each child!). It's much more affordable than buying all the scrapbooking supplies to make a traditional scrapbook, and there's no mess to drag out and clean up again (and no little pieces of paper for little hands to drop all over my house!).

In addition to digital scrapbooks (which can be shared online), the software can be used to create calendars, printed photo books, and DVD's. The possibilities are endless!

The My Memories Suite software is $39.97, and can be purchased as a download or a CD to install. If you use the exclusive promo-code STMMMS78748 at check-out, you'll get $10 off, making for an even better deal.

The giveaway!
Even better than $10 off is getting to try this great software for free! My Memories Suite has offered to give away one copy of this software to one of y'all!

In order to enter the giveaway, just leave a comment on this post.

For bonus entries:
::Visit the My Memories site, and come back and tell us what your favorite digital paper pack or layout is.
::Subscribe to the My Memories blog.
::Like My Memories Suite and Covenant Homemaking on facebook.
::Follow me (@mrsmurch) and My Memories Suite on twitter. Then, tweet about the giveaway, tagging both of us and linking back to this post.
::Subscribe to the Covenant Homemaking RSS feed.
::You can also blog about this giveaway or share it with your facebook friends and link back to this post.

That makes for 7 possible entries. You must leave a separate comment for each entry. The giveaway will be open until next Wednesday, September 14.

The winner of the Tropical Traditions Powdered Laundry Detergent giveaway was Domestic Diva! Congratulations! I've sent an email with information on claiming the prize. :)

Disclosure: I was provided with a free copy of the software to review, and I receive a small kick-back if you order using the provided promo-code. I was under no obligation to write a positive review and all opinions in this post are mine. 

This post is linked to Things I Love Thursday.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My home management system, pt. 7: Remember the goal

We have come to the final post in this little series on my home management system. So far, we've talked about:

::The Daily Docket
::Managing Weekly Chores
::Menu Planning
::Having a flexible routine
::Rising early
::Keeping up with laundry

Whenever we put our hand to a task, we should consider our motive for completing it. We shouldn't strive to maintain our homes for the sake of getting a Susie-homemaker award, but rather to glorify God.

Here are a few goals to consider when seeking to manage your home:

::Blessing your husband. Most likely if you are a full-time homemaker, it means your husband goes out every day and works hard to provide for your family. What type of atmosphere does he enjoy coming home to? If you know he'd love to come home to a hot meal on the table, but doesn't really care whether all the toys are picked up off the floor when he walks in, make his preferences your priority. Obviously, it's good to make dinner and have the floor picked up, but sometimes we can't do everything and must prioritize. You honor God when you seek to honor your husband.

::Creating an atmosphere conducive to teaching your children. I don't know about you, but when our house is really messy, I have a hard time focusing on anything. The mess is a distraction for me, and I'm sure it can be for children as well. Keeping an organized, clean home will provide a calm, distraction-free atmosphere for training your children--and they are more likely to maintain orderly homes as adults if you teach them the necessary skills when they're young. As a mother, the training of your children is one of the main works God has called you to, and creating the best atmosphere you can for them is glorifying to God.

::Showing hospitality. Biblically, hospitality is not optional. Maintaining an orderly home not only makes you more likely to invite people over (I know I'm not the only one who stresses about the mess when we're expecting company!), but your home will be a much more inviting place if it's not a wreck. Creating a relaxing haven for your family and any guests who enter your home is an important reason to manage your home with excellence.

::Properly stewarding what God has provided. God has provided everything we have, and called us to be good stewards. Obviously, if we let our homes fall apart, we are not obeying that command. 

Despite all these, there are seasons of life when your home will be less-than-perfect. Right after your have a baby, the higher priority is clearly caring for your newborn and focusing on allowing your body to heal. If  your children or husband are sick, taking care of their immediate needs is more important than most housework. Early in pregnancy when you're exhausted all the time, you have to focus on resting up and growing a baby. During these seasons, it's important to use your time wisely and prioritize so at least the most important tasks get done (for example: washing the dishes or having clean laundry is a more immediate need than decluttering the whole house).

I hope y'all have found the posts in the series an encouragement to you in your homemaking endeavors. Maintaining an organized and orderly home is a noble goal for any homemaker to have. Just remember, having a clean home is a means to an end--not the end itself.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Menu Plan, September 5-11


We had a really nice holiday weekend, and I hope y'all did too! I'm trying to get back in the swing of things today. It's always hard to get back to normal household stuff after a relaxing long weekend! I found out Sunday that my Dad is going to make a quick trip up from Thursday to Sunday, so the kids and I will be picking him up at the airport Thursday morning and we'll head to Grandma's from there. I'll drop him off at the airport Sunday morning and then come home (I'm hoping we'll still be able to make it to church). So, it looks like it's going to be a busy and fun week.

Here's what I am planning to cook.

Breakfasts:
::Soaked baked oatmeal 
::Soaked homemade bread (from the bread machine), scrambled eggs
::Free breakfast at Chick-Fil-A

Lunches:
::leftovers
::snacks (yogurt, fruit, veggies, etc.)
::smoothies

Dinners:
::Homemade pizza
::Chicken and cornbread dumplings (a crockpot recipe), green beans
::Bachelor's hash (with fresh green beans instead of canned)

What are y'all cooking up this week?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Simplifying the toy stash

A project I had on my mental to-do list for quite some time (at least 6 months!) was to de-junk our toys and books and pare down to only the ones the children really enjoy. Thanks to my sister-in-law, Hannah, who helped me with this project for several hours yesterday, it's done! And I am so relieved.

We have toys in two cabinets in the living area--toys and books in one, and puzzles in the other, as well as toys in Katie and Benjamin's room. Before de-junking, Katie's room was always a total wreck because the toys were everywhere and the task of picking toys and books up off the living room floor was literally never ending.

In the end, we got rid of a big garbage bag full of toys plus a few books (I didn't get rid of many books--just ones that we have been given that didn't mesh well with the worldview we want to teach our children), and we threw a handful of items away--ones that were no longer really fit for use, but for some reason had been sticking around for who knows how long.

The bulk of the toys we got rid of were stuffed animals. We started off with a "keep because they're sentimental" pile, a "maybe" pile, and a "no" pile. The sentimental pile was so big (all the "friends" you'll see next to Katie's bed below) that I just got rid of everything else. I think she has plenty!

I am so pleased with how things worked out. There are definitely still an abundance of toys, but I am happy knowing the toys there are ones the children use and love and there aren't excess toys adding unnecessary work to my day!

Here are the toys, books, and puzzles we have in the living room:


And, here are the toys in Katie and Benjamin's room:

I also have a two baskets of smaller toys on top of their dresser--one for Benjamin that has rattles, teethers, etc. and one for Katie that has her threading shapes/ropes, a set of paper dolls, among other things. Katie is so happy to have her room all organized, and she's been great at putting the toys back where they belong when they're finished with them, with very little prompting from me!

This was our first time clearing out the toys since Katie was born. What are your methods for staying on top of the influx of toys that come in your homes throughout the year? Please share in the comments!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My home management system, pt. 6: Laundry (& a giveaway from Tropical Traditions!)

Laundry room



 If you haven't been with us for the rest of this series, you can find the rest of it under the Home Management label.

 I know many homemakers struggle with keeping on top of their laundry so as part of this little series, I wanted to share what works for me.

::Keep our wardrobes simple. Ben and I do not have a ton of clothes. I have 5-6 shirts that I wear most days, along with t-shirts for sleeping in, and undershirts. I wear a denim skirt almost every day, though I do have other skirts I mix things up with from time to time (and nicer ones for Sundays). The children have more clothes because they're messier, and because they have generous grandparents. But, obviously, fewer clothes equals less to wash, fold, and put away.

::Do one load from start to finish every day. Most weekdays, I do one load of laundry from start to finish (wash, dry, fold, put away). I wash the sheets once every week (Fridays), and other items as they get dirty during the week. I don't sort clothes/towels by color unless it's something brand new and very bright or dark. I wash everything together in super loads on warm, and usually do one cold load a week for more delicate items. Because of Ben's allergies/asthma, I do not hang clothes out to dry. I wash diapers every other day. Sometimes when I wash diapers, I don't do a load of clothes that day but other times I do. It depends on our schedule and the situation in the hamper. One benefit to washing clothes daily is that if I miss a day, it's not generally too hard to get caught back up (this could be in part because I only have two children!).

To tell you the truth, that's basically it. Most of the time I'm pretty much caught up on laundry, though there are certainly days (and even weeks) when things get out of hand and Ben is scrounging around for socks.


The Giveaway!
 As an added treat, Tropical Traditions has generously offered to give away a 5lb. container of their fabulous powdered laundry detergent to one of y'all!

I am always looking for ways to take toxins out of our home, and using this detergent is one great way to do it. It is free from the dyes, perfumes, fillers and phosphates so often contained in commercially made laundry detergents. The folks at Tropical Traditions sent me a package of this detergent to review, and I have been so happy with the results. Our clothes come out wonderfully clean, and I love knowing they've been washed without toxic chemicals. 


To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment on this post with your favorite tip for staying on top of the laundry pile at your house.

For bonus entries (please leave a separate comment for each one!):

::Subscribe to the Tropical Traditions newsletter.
::"Like" Tropical Traditions on facebook.
::"Like" Covenant Homemaking on facebook.
::Subscribe to the Covenant Homemaking RSS feed via feed reader or email.
::Follow @mrsmurch and @troptraditions on twitter and tweet about the giveaway, tagging both of us and linking back to this post.
::Share a link to this post on facebook.
::Post about the giveaway on your blog with a link back to this post.

That makes for eight possible entries! This giveaway will be open through Saturday evening, when I'll select a winner via random.org.

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Benjamin, 8 Months


My little man turned 8 months old on Sunday! Where, oh where, does the time go? Benjamin brings so much joy into our lives. Here's some of what he's been up to lately:

::Sleeping 9-10 hours at night (YES!) and taking 1-2 naps per day. He needs two, but I think he's working on a couple teeth so he's been a little fussier than usual. A corner of his very first tooth just broke through today!

::He wears 6-9 month clothes and size 3 diapers if we use a disposable (which is, gratefully, not very often!). I think he'll be bumping up a clothing size pretty soon.


::After a bout with pretty severe constipation, the little fellow is back to exclusive breastfeeding. I occasionally let him suck on a piece of fruit in his Fresh Food Feederstyle= if he gets offended while we're eating, but most days he's just having breast milk. I'm hoping to give him another 2-3 weeks, at least, before we start back to regular solids. He seems to be thriving pretty well without solids, so I'm not in any big hurry.

::Crawling! Benjamin is now crawling all over the place. He crawls around trying to find me and then reaches his hands up for me to hold him, which is just absolutely precious. With this stage has also come an insatiable desire to eat every small particle off of the floor (and since we have a 2 year old, those are plentiful!). I may or may not have found a couple stickers in his diaper this week. Ahem.

::He is starting to communicate a little more. He says "ba-ba" and "da-da." I'm pretty sure he recognizes Ben as dada, too. And, he definitely knows his own name.

I sure do love being a mama! What are your littlest ones up to these days?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Menu Plan, August 29-September 4




It's hard to believe autumn is already creeping up on us! I think this year has been one of the shortest years of my life (could that be because I've had TWO babies all year this year?). I am really looking forward to the cooler weather that will hopefully be showing its pretty face in the coming weeks. Since our children aren't school-aged yet, I'm looking forward to playing at park in the cooler weather while all the big kids are at school. :)

Anyway, here is what I'm planning to cook up this week. I have a few new recipes on the list that seem simple and delicious--and not overly adventurous. How often do y'all try new recipes?

Breakfasts:
::Cornmeal and rye pancakes (new recipe, will be soaking) with pastured butter and real maple syrup (x2)
::Scrambled eggs, toast, yogurt (x2)
::Egg & Cheese breakfast sandwiches (new recipe--will be freezing some)
 ::Soaked baked oatmeal (x2) (To soak: substitute half water and half plain yogurt for the milk. Combine yogurt/water mixture, oats, and coconut oil or butter for 12-24hrs. Mix in remaining ingredients and bake as usual)

Lunches:
::Smoothies (peanut butter or fruit and yogurt)
::Leftovers
::Snacks

Dinners:
::Homemade taco pizza (new recipe)
::Chihuahua Chili (new recipe), cornbread
::Salmon patties, salad, seasoned baked potato wedges
::Biscuits & gravy, scrambled eggs

What are y'all fixing this week? For menu planning inspiration, be sure to check out OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday.