What are You Singing?

Making your home sing Mondays

I’m just gonna be really honest – it’s been awhile since I made my home sing. Lately, I’ve been content to just find a particular level of maintenance and call it “enough” when really, it is just barely squeaking by. sigh.

One day last week I was online and really – in my heart of hearts – I just wanted to get sucked into my computer and not have to deal with two bored girls, a needy cat, bills to be paid, loads of laundry and well, you know the rest.

I don’t like cleaning toilets.

I love writing and blogging.

I don’t like cleaning up after the cat who seems to have a serious problem with gorging and then vomiting weekly.

I do love visiting with friends on Twitter and playing Farmville on Facebook.

So, at some point, God entered the picture and began clearly telling me to get off the computer.  I didn’t want to.  But God, I’m writing “Christian” stuff here – can’t I have just a DAY to myself to do fun things I want to do?

Silence.

After some serious conviction I shut the computer down put it aside and began focusing on my girls.  My attitude hadn’t quite shifted, but I was moving and getting juice cups ready and thinking about lunch.  And I stayed off the computer for the rest of the day.

And you wouldn’t BELIEVE what I accomplished.  Even I couldn’t believe what I had accomplished.  It didn’t look like much had changed around here – but I knew I’d swept down the stairs and the kitchen.  I knew I’d rolled on the floor with the girls and played and laughed.  I knew several things got put back into their keeping place.

And it made a difference.  Maybe my blogging makes a difference – occasionally, on a good day – but Making My Home Sing – I can see and feel the difference…

So today, I am going to focus on my home & family – not just race through stuff – but FOCUS on what needs to be done and pray over my To Do list and pray over my computer time and ask God to help me DO the right thing.

I’m going to make My Home Sing today.

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Easy Relaxation Tips for Busy Moms

It seems like there is no rest of the weary. And, the weary person is usually mom. Moms take care of hearth and home, but who takes care of her? If you are a busy mom, learn to value yourself as a person and schedule personal time.

Personal time is a necessary part of being a person. Each of us has the capacity to nurture others but that type of care takes its toll.

A car is filled with gas to make it run. Eventually the gas runs out and your car won’t move unless the car is replenished with fuel. The same goes for you. (Even though it sounds wonderful, Moms cannot live on coffee alone!) Emotional issues can develop when you don’t take the time to take care of your emotional well-being, not to mention the physical results of emotional neglect.

Mom time refuels the tank so that you can give to your family as well as yourself in equal measure. Don’t be ashamed to sit for fifteen minutes ‘doing nothing.” In the springtime, relaxing in a hammock under a tree is the perfect getaway from the pressures of the day. Reading a book for 30 minutes can also seem like heaven to many moms.

Here are a few tips to help you fit in much needed “mom” time:

1. Get up early if you have to. When you have kids, the day begins at a hurried pace. Once you hit the ground running, there is no stopping you. Waking 30 minutes to an hour ahead of time means quiet solitude to drink your coffee, have devotions and pray to start your day, or listen to music.  Review your calendar and schedule for the day so you don’t hit any surprises!

2. Turn ordinary experiences into major events. When you take a bath, add candles, bubble bath, quiet music and/or an inflatable bath pillow.  (One of my favorite techniques!!!) Your regular bath has now become a spa level experience. If you watch a movie, turn out the lights, pop a bag of microwave popcorn and curl up on the couch.

3. Ask your husband for help.  You know your husband and how to approach him.  Just remember to be very clear about what you need.  They don’t automatically know!  And kids love their mom but time spent with dad is important too. Let them bond with dad while you go shopping for a new outfit or root around in the garden. Since the time is yours, do whatever you like.

4. Use the Boy Scout motto. Always be prepared and you can spend more time in a relaxed mode. Fix lunches the night before – Weekly or monthly menu planning helps take the stress out of eating, too! Iron clothes for the next day (or use a wrinkle releaser spray) and place backpacks by the front door so kids can grab them on their way out. The fewer things you have to do throughout the day, the calmer you will be with your family and not experience burnout.

5. Take exercise breaks. When you get a few minutes the last thing you want to do is exercise but getting a little physical activity in your day has far-reaching implications. Exercise helps you to think clearly and stretches the muscles. Also, stress will drain away as powerful endorphins are released into your system. Do jumping jacks during a television commercial or jog to the bus stop to pick up the kids.  Take a short, brisk walk to clear your head and get some deep breathing in.  Turn on your favorite upbeat Praise & Worship music while you clean – you’re likely to move with the tempo and enjoy it much more!

6. Laugh at regular intervals. Keep a funny calendar cube on your desk or subscribe to a daily joke site. Laughing releases stress and can lift your spirits significantly. It also keeps the abs tight.  Proverbs 15:13 – A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance…

Moms, in taking care of your family, don’t forget to take care of you. Your family would miss you if you were not around to love and care for them.

For more ideas on how to find more time for yourself and your family, get this free ebook:

Find Time Mama

So Much Time… So Little To Do…

“Reverse That!”


Did you ever catch that line in the original “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” with Gene Wilder?

Let me just say this is right where I am.

So little time. So much to do.

Summer courses start in 2 weeks.  And my (thank you LORD) 10-week Blogging Internship begins in less than one week.  Who needs a “J-O-B”???


But I am okay.  For the first time (in a long time) I have UNPLUGGED from the TO DO list of my life and am getting some things “in order” personally.

I’ve been saying (or maybe hinting) for some time that some big things are coming to this blog.  And while I am still unsure of the Big Picture, I do know some topics that are weighing heavily on me – topics I MUST address and write about.

However, I have been feeling… well…

Unable to dig in.

Unsure about my ability.

Unclear about my approach.

Unqualified, actually.


But I am still compelled to write, so Write I Must.

More to come.  Stay tuned…


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Interview with Queen Martha – Tips, Suggestions and More Recipes!

Due to a variety of schedule changes at home (including an unexpected but necessary 3 hour nap) yesterday, I was not able to get to the computer and post my interview with Queen Martha. So, today, I will share with you the ideas, tips, & suggestions she has for helping you keep your holiday preparations from taking over your life!

**Update 12/18:  Postings through the end of the year may be sporadic.  If we don’t touch base sooner – may you and your loved ones enjoy a SAFE, HEALTHY, and HOLY Merry Christmas!!!**

Q: How do you prepare for your holiday activities (calendar, lists, etc.)?

I make notes on a desk calendar for any activities going on from day to day, including cookie baking, cookie exchanges, Christmas concerts, etc.
I keep a pocket file folder in my recipe drawer – I have many – but one I have marked “Holidays”.  I keep my favorite recipes there so I don’t have to dig through all my recipes to try to find a holiday favorite.  I also use small photo albums (you know – the inexpensive ones from my local dollar store or walmart) and place recipes from newspaper/magazines in them, and mark each of them with the kind of recipes they contain.  I have one marked “Cookies” that I refer to often. Others are ‘desserts’  ‘9″ X 13″ pan desserts’   ‘snacks and appetizers’, etc. etc. I stand these little albums on end so I can easily see the one I’m looking for.

I keep a Christmas Card record book from year to year – that way I can make changes in addresses when needed ( I include the year of change also), and I keep track of to whom I send to, and receive from.  Most record books are good for 5-8 years. I keep a list of gifts I give to friends and customers from year to year so I will vary the kitchen ‘goodies’ I share with them and don’t repeat – unless it’s one of their favorites, which I record, also.

Q: What shortcuts and time savers do you rely on during your holiday preparations?

As I mentioned previously, I keep a list of recipes written out for review & reference.  I try to make every minute count – get up and do something while a commercial comes on TV, and I always make myself lists so I can think of what I need to do next.

One thing I do to keep things moving along in the kitchen, is to keep hot sudsy water in the sink all the time I’m working there, and wash dishes when I have a minute in between things.  It helps keep the counter cleared and dishes can dry (use HOT water to rinse) and you can put them away when you have another few minutes.

Sometimes, we just have to prioritize.  I do that often during this very busy month.  And I have to consider what REALLY needs to be done first – usually, according to the day of the week it needs to be ready. We gotta ‘keep the main thing, the main thing’….I always record comments on new recipes – ‘excellent’….’rubbery’ (just did that today with a sugar free cookie I tried =)  If the recipe isn’t in a book, and I’m not wild about it, I usually throw it away and keep trying new ones.


Q: What homemade gifts do you like to give? How do you package them?

White Christmas Mix is a really yummy, easy, pretty holiday gift to give. Giving it in the holiday printed zipper-seal bags is nice because you can see how pretty the mix is. Even plain ziploc bags, decorated with curly ribbons is ‘fun.’

Pretzel Pretties are fun to make with kids, and make a LOT so giving them away by themselves or along with other goodies is nice. If you can keep from eating them all…

Fruited Oatmeal Mix is a nice gift to give – it’s warm and filling and is a healthier option, too! It can be bagged and tucked into a pretty tin or given in a pretty gift jar.

(Recipes listed below and added to the **Holiday Recipes** page…)

Q: How do you prepare for last minute party invitations or gift ideas?

I buy things (on sale) throughout the year – candles, books, calendars, Avon, Melaleuca products, and have two file drawers in my desk with gifts in them, so I can look through and see if I can find anything ‘fitting’ for the person I desire it for.  And I always have something edible made up – even if it’s in the freezer.

**RECIPES**

WHITE CHRISTMAS MIX

1 lb. white chocolate (or vanilla almond bark)

Melt in double boiler or microwave according to directions

Mix together:

3 cups Rice Chex

3 cups Corn Chex

(or combined – 6 cups crispix)

3 cups Cheerios

2 cups mini pretzels

2 cups peanuts

1 lg. bag of M & M’s – plain or peanut (optional)

(We love using the holiday mix)

Pour white chocolate over everything and mix well. Let dry and place into gift containers.

PRETZEL PRETTIES

13 oz bag Rolos  (or 6-7 rolls)
1 bag tiny twists pretzels
1 bag peanut M & M’s – we like to use holiday colored ones

Line cookie sheet with foil or parchment paper. Lay out pretzels, place one unwrapped rolo on top of Pretzel. Bake at 300 for 5 -6 minutes or until chocolate becomes shiny.
Take out of oven, place M&M on each one, smashing down rolo. Let
cool for 10 minutes, then place entire sheet in fridge or cold room to set for at least 1 hour.  This is so great because you can make few or many at a time.  A cookie sheetful

will make 70-90 treats.  May also top with pecan halves instead of M & M’s.

FRUITED OATMEAL MIX

6 cups quick cooking oats

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped dried apples or dried banana chips or

any dried diced fruit

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

3 tsps. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. salt

(Yield: 7 cups of mix/two batches – each

makes 7 servings of oatmeal)

Directions to include with gift:

For each serving:

1/2 cup fruited oatmeal mix

3/4 cup water

In a deep microwave-safe bowl, combine mix and water.

Microwave, uncovered, on high for 45 seconds; stir. Cook 20-30 seconds longer or until bubbly.  let stand for 1 – 2 minutes.

A healthy gift – I used splenda, splenda brown sugar, and reduced sodium salt….Delicious!