Thrift Store Decor

“I believe that thrift is essential to well-ordered living.” ~ John D. Rockefeller

What’s your decorating style . . . Thrift Shop!

A couple weeks ago, I posted here about some of our Thrift Store finds and plans.

We make it a weekly appointment to check out the thrift shops – not always the same day, but at least once a week. We have some lovely Thrift shops in a 30 mile radius as well as several antique shops. We also like to check out the Habitat ReStore’s wherever we can find them when looking for appliances and items such as doors. These shops take appliances and building materials such as wood, doors, paint, tiling, lighting, tubs, toilets, etc. from demolition homes and re-sell them with the proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity.

The first time I visited a Habitat ReStore was in Lawrence, Kansas (still one of my favorites) and where I lucked into my fireplace mantel and surround with the accompanying gas insert for a whopping $35. The price tag remained on the gas insert from a brand name major hardware line and cost $357 brand new. A couple of my daughters and I would make a day of it – first stopping there, then a particular fabric shop followed by lunch at Chipotle’s before heading back home.

Since my last post, we have scored a few more items — some personal and some for the home.

Eclectic storage TV stand

While I shared previously about the trunk and the brown suitcase, we really wanted a second suitcase to stack onto the trunk. We had bought a blue one that was the right vintage, but was the same size as the brown. It worked without quite lending the staggered effect we were hoping to achieve. Today, we found the green suitcase that is a better complement to the trunk and is slightly larger than the brown suitcase and . . . voila!

When we set out awhile back, we were looking for a sofa for the living room – something of the right period (early 20’s) that wasn’t worn too hard. That has been difficult. While we don’t mind some modern aspects, the sofa is a hard limit. An overall eclectic feel with some period pieces thrown in – if that makes sense. We had found one that was perfect . . . PERFECT! My van was in the shop at the time, and thrift stores don’t deliver. By the time we got the van out of the shop, the sofa was still there, but it had been sold and was awaiting pick up. *sigh*

Still on the prowl for just the ‘right’ sofa, we instead found these wooden rocking chairs. Not at all wobbly, but a bit weather worn. I sat in one and invited Jo to sit in the other. We sat and rocked for a bit, right there in the store. The salesman offered to mark them down to $20 each and I jumped up and said, without further ado, “I’ll take them!”

This is actually the five-panel door found in a Missouri flea market that came to Alabama with me when I moved. I had plans for that baby as soon as I saw it and those plans are coming to fruition now, but that’s fodder for another blog post unto itself.

This lovely table is another recent buy. I really wanted a long sofa table to set in front of my entry way windows for my plants to catch the morning sun. Tables abound, but they were either to tall, or too short, coffee tables or dining room tables, bar tables, bedside tables, and then snuggled between two couches, I found this! Originally marked $59, I passed it by until the following week when the salesman marked it down to $40 for me. (Yes, I know it’s not centered on the windows, but the paint stripper is there for the time being and . . .yes, it bothers my OCD self.)

Photo from personal collection
Photo from personal collection

The entire outfit being worn by my beautiful daughter is thrift store couture. She found the shoes for $3.50 and the dress for $5. Which then gives her more $$ to spend on make-up. She has found most of her jeans at thrift shops as well as using Kohl’s cash and percentage off coupons and shopping at Old Navy using their promotional offers.

Thrifting – part thrill of the hunt, part saving money, part repurposing and completely FUN!!!

Life Goes On

Photo by Akil Mazumder on

While we had to take a moment out of our regular life, for the crackpot warning yesterday . . . life does go on. Today is Mabon or the autumnal equinox. See my IG account (to the right and scroll down) for a list of things to do today to clear the way for the changing season.

With the cooler temperatures, we’ve ventured outside to do some yardwork. Leaves to be raked and burned, flower beds to be weeded and thinned, overgrown shrubs to be trimmed back and in some cases, removed.

I had a friend who sent me a photo of her plant. She believed she had a brown thumb. This was a Mother’s day gift. To be honest, it looked sad and forlorn when I first saw it – a fern with a wandering jew in the same pot. There were numerous dead leaves from the heat and it hadn’t been watered. So, I suggested she clear out the rubbish . . . all the dead leaves and stems and water it twice a week. It is now flourishing, the leaves are beautifully green and the wandering jew is spreading and climbing out of the pot. It’s amazing what a bit of care and attention can do.

People are a lot like plants. Or maybe plants are a lot like people. Either way, there is a lesson to be learned from the example above:

  1. Take care of yourself with plenty of water and sunshine.
  2. Get rid of the rubbish in your life. Throw it away, it’s taking up space.
  3. Give yourself room to grow.

We have a few saplings that need to be removed via chainsaw. Several hedgerows needing trimming and English Ivy . . . what the heck is the deal with all the ivy? It spreads everywhere. You can grab one end of the ivy and start pulling and it will go back 4-5′ into the bushes. Of course, there are 10 years worth of built up leaves under those bushes, so we’ve been raking and raking and raking and piling up and burning. Repeat the next day. And the next day. Did I mention raking?

On top of all the ornamental plantings, there is a huge bare spot in the back yard, as well as an overgrowth of kikuyu grass. This is a grass native to East Africa that spreads by propagation and by runners both, so trying to get rid of it will be quite the interesting feat. Because the runners have an almost sucker-like quality to them, pulling at them causes them to break off in pieces.

The weeding and brush removal in the front flower beds uncovered some additional Liriope plants that have beautiful, conical purple flowers. Those can stay. The English Ivy and the Holly bush are what I refer to as “gotta go’s” — they gotta go!! While the Holly bush is beautiful with it’s dark green color, it is also painful when you get poked with the spikey leaves. The goal is to plant some Knockout rose bushes on either side of the porch with some ground cover that isn’t that damn ivy, perhaps some iris near the sidewalks. Because of the house’s age, we’re aiming for more of an old-fashioned feel with the choice of plants.

I hope that everyone is enjoying the cooler temperatures, getting their homes ready for fall and winter. The seasonal changes remind me that life does go on — from one season to the next, making way for new beginnings.

Financial Fitness

“Financial fitness is not a pipe dream or a state of mind. It’s a reality if you are willing to pursue it and embrace it.” ~ Will Robinson

Photo by Pixabay on

Bills. Debts. Payments. Interest rates. Cash flow. Income. Expenses. Student loans. Bank loans. Credit cards. Taxes.

Those words have the ability to make people cringe. Finances and how to handle them are no longer taught in schools. I recall learning this important life skill in a class at school. I also learned a lot from my mother. As a single-parent, single income family, she had to learn to budget and thrift and save. She passed those skills along; I now pass them along to my children.

All of my children homeschooled off-and-on for different grades, and differing reasons. One of my daughters, with the exception of kindergarten, was completely homeschooled. As one of her high school classes, we focused on “Life Skills.”

She had to determine what type of job she was interested in, searching the want ads for listings. She then had to actually contact the job listing, explain that she was a student and, as part of her assignment, was required to complete a job interview. Putting together a resume was part of the assignment. Completing the interview, including choosing appropriate clothing and filling out the application was also required.

She was able to learn the rate of pay for the type of work that interested her during her interview including benefits and then proceeded with the assignment. Learning how to calculate her weekly and bi-weekly pay, included estimating taxes. How to select a bank account and checking account was next on the list. Then we got down to the nitty gritty.

We discussed renting versus owning and she was able to look at apartment ads and calculate her rent and whether (or what) utilities were included. Contact with the utility companies to determine what deposits would be required and what the projected monthly payment would be for the area in which she was looking was her next step. Of necessity, the housing would need to be near her job as she didn’t yet have a car (that was coming).

Next on the list after housing and utilities was looking for a car. She really enjoyed pricing different cars until we went to the bank and she discussed loan options with the bank and learned about interest. We also covered the cost of licensing and registering a vehicle as well as obtaining insurance.

All of this covered the course of a year. The first month was spent on the job search. The second month was spent on housing, and the third on car shopping. The fourth month, being December, we discussed budgeting money for gifts in addition to living expenses, since Christmas was an actual event in her virtual world of learning life skills. In January, we threw in having to prepare taxes. February we started with how to invest by learning the differences between stocks, bonds, money market accounts, savings, and annuities. She was told to choose several stocks from the NYSE and follow them for the month, charting the gains and losses based on a minimal investment.

By March, she had been calculating living expenses and taxes for 6 months. It was time to throw in the art of meal planning and budgeting for groceries. She became a sale ad aficionado for the grocery stores, comparing prices, looking for sales and cutting coupons. This was probably the most exciting month for me as her teacher — we did a lot of cooking and batch freezing of meals.

April brought with it the anticipated virtual tax return. While minimal for a first-time employee, she had to determine what to do with the money. By this point, based on everything she had learned so far, she decided to save part, invest part and spend a small part. Finally, the year came to a close, and in May she wrote a paper about the importance of life skills to a young high school student. This was probably the highlight of my homeschool career, and she remembers that year well and is highly successful as a wife, mother and nurse manager. Even now as we discuss things, she shakes her head in amazement at how little young people know about financial fitness.

Last night, I had a discussion with my youngest daughter. We have several unexpected expenses that have arisen. Her father has made noise about helping pay for medical and college expenses but the noise has never evolved into action, nor do I expect it to do so. While she’s no longer homeschooled, I have made no secret about our expenses and she is learning to thrift, use coupons, special offers, discounts and rewards programs as well.

Financial fitness . . . do you have it?

Thrift Store Finds

“Thrift is not an affair of the pocket, but an affair of character.” ~ S. W. Strauss

Photo by Tim Mossholder on

I was raised on thrift stores, I’m raising my kids on thrift stores. Thrift stores. Consignment shops. Garage sales. Craigslist. Freecycle.

Not that we don’t also shop off-the-rack for new items, but there are some awesome deals to be found at a fraction of the price. The saying, ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’? Couldn’t be more true.

While I fail epically at having success in shopping garage sales, one daughter is a whiz bang at finding things. Another daughter always scores big at consignment shops for name brand clothing for her boys. I’m more of a thrift shop success story. Antique shops – especially if they are full of things and needing to move items out — have been a success for me as well.

I don’t go in blindly. In the back of my mind, I always have an idea of certain items for which I’m looking, or inspiration I want to create whether with my clothing or in my home decor.

Here are a few of the finds from yesterday’s outing:

A plate with brightly colored flowers, a resting place for a potted plant.

A book on organic gardening published in 1961. Fifty-nine years of knowledge, wisdom and interesting reading.

A trunk just perfect for creating the base of a TV stand. A nice change from the empty Keurig box that had been serving that purpose.

An old suitcase from the 50’s which will also contribute to the eclectic TV stand.

In the past I’ve found:

  • a replacement pot and lid for my 5 quart crockpot (after inadvertently setting it on a hot stove burner and cracking it) – $3.00
  • a small dish to replace the broken top to a wax burner – $0.25
  • a book on investing – $0.50
  • a full-size cast iron bed frame – $129
  • an antique wooden chest of drawers – $35
  • a treadle sewing machine in excellent shape with attachments and the original instructions (delivered to my home) – $50
  • a fireplace surround, mantel, and gas insert – $35
  • a 5-panel wooden door – $30
  • a handmade wooden table with folding legs – $50
  • enough ceramic floor tile to do four bathrooms – $35
  • a complete underfloor heating system – $200
  • an apartment size stacking washer/dryer – $300

Growing up, we didn’t have much money, and I remember there were two thrift shops we frequented with our mother. One was rather clean, the other was dingy and dirty and quite honestly, you wanted to bathe when you got home. At that time there was an upscale store called ‘Chasnoff’s’ and we laughingly referred to that dingy thrift shop as our own Chasnoff’s because my mother would buy dresses, undo the seams and flatten out the material to make dresses for my sister and (eventually) myself when they were handed down.

Thrift shopping is like a treasure hunt – and who doesn’t like a treasure hunt?

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

“My favorite fall or winter lunch is big steaming bowls of soup.” ~ Ina Garten

It is September, yes? Time to get out the fall decor, and colors and . . . menu.

I love potato soup as a basic, comforting bowl of warmth. It reheats well and tastes delicious. When your child has just gotten braces and her teeth are hurting, it doesn’t require much effort to chew. It also contains some of my favorite ingredients: cheese, sour cream, and butter.

I started my day off easily — watering the plants and talking to them, checking on the tomatoes in the garden, feeding the kittens and playing with them, and then running errands before it got too hot. I spent a few minutes cutting and chopping and frying and . . . voila! Dinner was in the crockpot with nothing to do but go about the day and come home to finish it and enjoy the flavors.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


2# potatoes diced**

4-5 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

1/2 a red onion, diced

3 sprigs of fresh thyme

1-2 T. butter

3 c. chicken broth**

Salt and Pepper to taste

3/4 c. sour cream

1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 c. heavy cream


Using a 5 quart crockpot, combine the potatoes, onion, bacon, butter, thyme and chicken broth. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook on low 6-7 hours or until potatoes are tender. Mash with a potato masher until the potatoes are almost a pureed consistency, leaving some chunks. Stir in sour cream, cheddar cheese and heavy cream. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes or turn crockpot off and let sit 5-10- minutes before serving.

** here are some tips and/or trade-offs if you like to play around with a recipe.

  • You can use red potatoes, russet potatoes, white potatoes, any potato you prefer, each will alter the flavor ever so slightly. I prefer the Yukon Gold for appearance and flavor.
  • You can use store bought chicken broth or chicken stock. In a pinch you can also use three chicken bouillon cubes and 3 cups of water. I often make my own chicken broth by boiling chicken to be used in other dishes and storing the broth in the fridge or freezer.
  • The onion can be red, yellow, or vidalia – the taste again will differ slightly depending on the variety chosen.
  • Retain the grease from frying the bacon and add to the crockpot for an extra smokey flavor.
  • If you have slightly less than 2# of potatoes, throw in a couple ribs of celery, diced finely to add mass, texture and taste to the soup.
  • Cheddar comes in a variety of flavors – sharp, mild, extra sharp. The flavor again will vary depending on the cheese. Explore by using Pepper Jack or Swiss.
  • If you like spicy, try adding a finely diced jalapeno to the soup.
  • Fresh thyme is packaged in small, clear boxes in the grocery store’s fresh vegetable section. I just throw the entire sprig in the pot and fish it out with a fork when done cooking.

Food is a creative way to explore tastes and textures. Again I really prefer the Yukon gold potatoes, the red onion, homemade chicken broth (it just tastes richer), and sharp cheddar cheese. Pepper Jack runs a close second, but seeing as how this batch was being consumed by a new braces wearer – I made it to suit her tastes more than mine.

After stirring the sour cream, cheese and heavy cream into the crockpot and setting it on warm, we took the dog on a walk which was just enough time for the flavors to meld. The weight is slightly heavy with the density of the potatoes and cream, but the sensation of the warmth as it goes down is one of the most comforting tastes and feelings in the world.

Sacred Smoke

“Smoke of air and fire and earth, cleanse and bless this home and hearth. Drive away all harm and fear, only good may enter here.” ~ Home Blessing

There are some days when you just want a fresh start, a reset if you may . . . an opportunity to clear the air, refresh your surroundings, and remove any lingering negativity.

White sage has long been used by Native Americans for it’s healing and cleansing properties. It contains antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties and antimicrobial effects when used in small amounts. Slightly different from garden sage used in cooking, white sage is generally found in herbal stores or can be purchased online.

Especially when the house has been cooped up in the summer or winter and fresh air is at a minimum, an evening of cooler weather is the opportune time to open the doors and windows and light a bundle. Usually wrapped in a bundle and tied with twine or string, an abalone shell is used to rest the smoldering sage and let the smoke provide the sweet aroma.

As you’ll note from the Home Blessing above, it begins with the words “Smoke of air, fire and earth . . . ” There is a strong belief in all four aspects of nature working together in harmony. The sage is of the earth, the smoke is the air, the fire is . . fire, and the shell represents water.

Tonight was a perfect night for it. The temperatures had cooled and having the doors and windows open let a slight breeze in. The sage smells wonderful and uplifting – – and the house feels wonderfully peaceful.

How Do You Reward Yourself

“Self-care has become a new priority – the revelation that it’s perfectly permissible to listen to your body and do what it needs.” ~ Frances Ryan

Young Living Premium Starter Kit

Yesterday, I mentioned my love of my Young Living Oils and promised I would explain the concept of Essential Rewards.

If you are curious about essential oils, don’t know that much about them, worry that they may be too “new age” or hedonistic . . . by all means, read on. If you have no interest in essential oils, this post is not for you.

Essential oils are those that are pressed and extracted from certain plants and aromatics. There are different uses for different oils and have been for centuries. They are used for their aromatic properties, their natural cleaning properties, and some are safe for consumption internally and are used in cooking.

Young Living offers essential oils for sale at retail rates, which is available if you infrequently buy essential oils. The oils are the same regardless of the option you choose to take: retail or membership. If you frequently purchase oils or toxin-free cleaning products, a membership may be the optimal route. I can hear the eye-rolling starting . . . hear me out.

I believe we’re all familiar with subscription boxes:

  • Stitchfix
  • Misfits Market
  • FabFitFun
  • Ipsy
  • BirchBox
  • and others.

Each of those subscription boxes listed above offers goods that cater to specific interests. The contents are not chosen by you, you may not like them, you may not want them, they may not be the appropriate size, color or taste for you. With some, you can return items; with others, you cannot.

Young Living Essential Rewards is like a subscription box that you hand select yourself: from delivery date, to content, to price point. However, essential rewards is only available to those who have become a member which you can do here. Pictured at the top of this post is one of the Premium Starter Kits – perfect for the person new to essential oil use. You select the diffuser of your choice (not pictured), and the rest is shown in the photo: 12 of the most popular essential oils, two roller tops for easy topical applications, two samples of the Ninxgia red vitamin supplement drink, Thieves hand sanitizer, a guide to using your essential oils, a product catalog and a copy of the magazine with articles and recipes.

Maybe you just want the Starter Kit with the diffuser. Get a few oils, get your feet wet, see if you like them —great! It’s still a great deal. No one is going to call you or pester you to buy more. Your money and your decision on what to buy is up to you! BUT. . . if you enjoy the oils or want to try other products, why not get them at the reduced rate? We use the laundry soap, toothpaste, vitamins, car diffuser. . . because they’re eco-friendly and we like them.

When you sign up for Essential Rewards, you not only get to choose your monthly reward at a reduced cost but you earn points to apply towards future purchases or promotions. You can skip a month if you choose or change the date your order ships to accommodate your finances.

Not everyone is into diffusing oils, and that is fine! I purchased several of these Thieve Home Cleaning Kits to give as gifts to my daughters and friends. Everyone loves having a clean, fresh smelling home. The Thieves Laundry Soap has been in use at our home for many years, simply because it is gentle enough that it doesn’t exacerbate my youngest son’s eczema.

Feel free to check out the Young Living home page and ask if you have any questions! Again, if you want to check it out and get your very own Premium Starter Kit, click here.

Chicken Ranch Enchiladas

“If God dwells inside us like some people say, I sure hope he likes enchiladas, because that’s what he’s getting.” ~ Jack Hardy

Photo by Pixabay on

One of the recipe sites I frequent is one of those wonderful ones, where you select the number of servings you wish to make and it automatically adjusts the ingredients — love it, it makes my heart sing. It can be amusing as I’m not quite sure exactly how to get 2.67 chicken breasts, but . . . ooookay.

With all the emotional crap going on this month (and we’re only halfway thru – God love us!), I needed an anchor — something that grounds me and helps me maintain my equilibirum when life becomes chaotic. That would be . . .


I have modified the recipe a wee bit as it was waaaay too salty for us simple folks, but other than that, I didn’t tweak it much. Enjoy!

Chicken Ranch Enchiladas

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 3 chicken breasts, frozen
  • 1 packet of Ranch dry salad dressing mix
  • 2 T. chili powder
  • 1/2 t. cumin
  • 1 t. each, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika
  • 1 c. chicken broth (low sodium if available)
  • 1/2 c. fresh salsa
  • 1/2 c. ranch salad dressing (not the powder, the real thang)
  • Cheddar cheese for sprinkling
  • 8 flour tortillas


Place the chicken breasts, the spices – including the dry salad dressing packet – and the chicken broth in a slow cooker on low for about 4 hours. the chicken will easily flake with a fork when it has completed cooking.

Place the flour tortillas on a plate with a wet paper towel covering them. Place in the microwave for 30 seconds to warm them up for easier separation and rolling.

Preheat the oven to 350. As the oven heats, remove the chicken breasts from the crockpot and shred the meat. Set aside. Combine the fresh salsa with the liquid ranch dressing. Take 2 T. of the chicken drippings from the crockpot and stir into the salsa combination. Set aside. In a 9×13 baking dish, pour the rest of the chicken drippings from the crockpot into the bottom of the baking dish. This will be used in place of enchilada sauce.

In turns, take a flour tortilla and place in the baking dish. Spoon about 2 T. of chicken into the flour tortilla, top with salsa combination, sprinkle with cheese and roll. When all tortillas have been filled and rolled, top with another sprinkle of cheese. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

The recipe originally called for a packet of taco seasoning, which is what we did . . . but it was soooo salty. I’ll not make that mistake again.

We topped ours with guacamole, sour cream and fresh salsa. They were so delicious that Jo ate leftovers for lunch. (That girl does not normally do leftovers, so that says A LOT!)

Zuppa Toscano (Tuscan Soup)

“To feel safe and warm on a cold, wet night, all you really need is soup.” ~ Laurie Colwin


The idea of Italian sausage and kale in a soup was not appealing to me.  Not at all.  But after seeing mention of it several times in the same day, I figured . . . eh.  So I looked for a recipe.  It still didn’t seem appealing. BUT . . .

how can I encourage the kids to try new things and step out of their comfort zones, if I’m not willing to do the same.

I was wrong.

Italian sausage and kale go well together in this soup and I believe it will be on the menu regularly, it is that good!  I used mild Italian sausage as I was already leery of the taste and I wasn’t feeling spicy lately.  To be honest, I supplied the ingredients but Savannah did the actual cooking.

Without further ado . . .

Zuppa Toscano

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


5 slices bacon

1.25 lb. mild Italian sausage

1/2 a large yellow onion, chopped

1 T. minced garlic

32 oz. chicken broth

2 c. water

1 1/2 lbs potatoes, diced

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 T. sugar

1/4 t. nutmeg

3 c. kale, chopped

2 c. heavy cream


Fry the bacon until crispy.  Crumble the bacon into the crockpot.  Brown the Italian sausage into the same pan and crumble while cooking.  Remove the meat and place in the crockpot.  Saute the onions and garlic in the bacon and sausage grease until tender.  Add to the crockpot complete with the drippings.  Add diced potato, salt, pepper, nutmeg, water and chicken broth.  Cook on low 6 hours.  During the last 30 minutes of cooking, stir in the chopped kale and the heavy cream.  Continue to heat and serve done cooking.


So Much To Do, So Little Time

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem.  We all have twenty-four hour days.” ~ Zig Ziglar

assorted silver colored pocket watch lot selective focus photo

Photo by Giallo on

If I had a penny for every time I’ve been told, “I don’t know how you get so much done!” — I’d be a very rich woman!  It’s really not rocket science, it’s just planning.

One of my favorite sayings is: Plan your work and work your plan.

I start every day by reading my devotional verses from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).  These are emailed to me and appear on my phone about the time I awaken.  My entire days seems to go better when I start with my Scripture reading and prayer.

I plan my meals by using a printed menu template that I created.  From there I plan the grocery list which is planned around my paydays.  Everyone gets to make suggestions as to what goes on the menu.  If a suggestion doesn’t get included in the present menu, it is added to the next one.

Cleaning the refrigerator is done on Sunday evenings as the trash goes out Monday morning.  Scrubbing the sink happens every evening after the dishes are done.  I absolutely hate coming downstairs first thing in the morning to a sink full of dishes and gunk.  Setting up the Keurig at night is also a staple event — when I’m stumbling to the kitchen each morning, all I have to do is push the buttons to get my wake-up Java.

I plan the housework by the day of the week or around the activities taking place.  Each of us has specific days to do our laundry.  Sheets and towels are done at the weeks end.

I plan my blog posts *gasp* – they are written on Sundays and scheduled to post on various days.  UNLESS . . . something comes up that would make a compelling post, then I may add it in and delay the next scheduled one.

Each week I focus on renovating a certain room of the house.  There is so much to do — some of it major tasks such as painting, some of it not so major such as deep cleaning and scrubbing, but when you toss it all together, it becomes a mish-mash of confusion and utter wonder at what to tackle next.  Each room has a “to-do list” of needs and if I can only spend 15 minutes a day it eventually gets done.  Some days I may spend more than 15 minutes, but that is the minimum and you’d be amazed at what you can accomplish in that amount of time. By portioning it out to one room per week, the work never gets old or  relentlessly mundane (such as pulling carpet staples out of wood floors).  Besides, I have found that taking a break from a certain area leaves me free to brainstorm and consider ideas for those spaces that I may not have considered were I to get boxed in and develop tunnel-vision.

I schedule time to read.  I am an avid reader but it goes in waves, either I want to sit and read and let everything else go by the wayside, or I get busy and end up having books gathering dust.

I plan time to create.  Whether it is sewing, or crocheting or photography or looking at paint colors, or simply wandering through Lowe’s to get ideas . . . that creative outlet is fed on a regular basis.

I plan major purchases.  I do my research and cost analysis and then plan for the purchase and set the savings goal in place.

I plan time to be silly and relax and play with my kids.  Whether it’s going to the movies, or thrifting, or staying home and playing card games or board games, family time is very important to staying connected and in tune with what’s going on in the kids lives.  One of my favorite times of day is when we do the dishes together — it gives me some 1:1 time with each one to listen to their thoughts and ideas.

I plan time for myself.  Going for a walk alone, exercising, taking a hot bath, pedicures or just applying a foot mask at bedtime — all these things contribute to a sense of well-being for myself.  I cannot be a good Mom, employee or friend if I am running out of steam.  Self-care is just as important as taking care of everyone else.

I plan time with my sister.  Every Monday evening we talk on the phone.  These calls are full of laughter, anecdotes, and prayer requests.  There is no bond quite like the one between siblings, and being 700+ miles away, this is our time to stay connected.

If you were not gifted with planning genetics, start small.  Plan a week’s worth of meals.  Then two weeks.  Then add something else.  Anticipation is the key.  Review what is going on so you can adjust your schedule accordingly.  This requires being able to stay on top of kids school schedules and work schedules.  Above all, remain fluid.  Do not get so locked into your plans that you become rigid and unbending.

For example: Our menu is set, but if we don’t feel like having X for dinner, we can switch it to another evening and substitute Y.  Why?  Because I have all the ingredients to make any meal on the menu at any given day during that two-week period.  Occasionally, about once in a two-week period, we plan an evening out.  Sometimes we know where we’re going, other times we’ll take a vote to see what we’re doing.

Every one one of us gets twenty-four hours in our day, it’s up to you to decide how it gets spent.