Wednesday, November 30, 2011

30 Day Challenges - Recap and December's challenge

I have finished two 30 day challenges, both of them relatively easy and not much of a "challenge." First was the Get Dressed challenge. That one went very well and I got into the habit of changing out of my pajamas or workout clothes as soon as possible. I've spent the last six weeks wearing skirts and sweaters around the house, being much more presentable on a moment's notice! It's been nice and lends itself well to productivity.

My second challenge was to drink more water. This challenge didn't go as well as my Get Dressed challenge, but it did make me more aware of my water consumption. I don't drink enough! I'm currently on week 4 of the P90X workout program, plus I run several times a week. With all of the exercise, and living in a very dry state, I don't drink enough water and am almost constantly dehydrated. November went far toward helping me rehydrate, but I still don't drink enough several days a week. Thankfully, the challenge helped me to keep water nearby and make sure the water filter remains filled.

For my third challenge, I am choosing something more difficult. For the next 30 days, I will be reading nothing but nonfiction. I mentioned this briefly on my Nightstand post. I read a lot of drivel, or what Charlotte Mason calls "twaddle." Knowing that, I decided to challenge myself to read nothing but nonfiction for an entire month. My nightstand post outlines what I plan to read but I'll update periodically as I finish books. I can't wait to see what things I might learn this month!

I'm brainstorming ideas of what I might challenge myself to do in 2012. I want to keep the challenges somewhat related to homemaking, as that is one of my primary focuses in life. God, my husband, and my home. I want each challenge to improve one of these areas in my life, not just something I do for the sake of doing something. Any ideas? Want to join me on a 30 day challenge?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving in Wyoming

I have returned from my trip to Wyoming. Overall, it was a good trip. I'm so glad I got to see my grandparents. My grandfather is 84 and isn't doing very well. We have plans to see him next July for a family reunion but thought it might be wise to make this trip Just In Case.



Grandma playing Angry Birds on my tablet

Josh trying to get Grandpa to try a temporary tattoo

Three generations of boys

Grandpa, Josh, and I

Josh and I with the grandparents

In addition to visiting with my grandparents, I was also able to see an old friend of mine. I hadn't seen her since my wedding six years ago. It was nice to be able to chat face to face! Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of the two of us.

Hopefully we'll all be together again next July. If not, at least we were all able to spend some time together this Thanksgiving. For that, I am thankful.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving,
and into his courts with praise:
be thankful unto him,
and bless his name.
For the LORD is good;
his mercy is everlasting;
and his truth endureth to all generations

Psalm 100:4-5.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What's on My Nightstand? Nothing but nonfiction!

What's On Your Nightstand

Looking over my list this month, I haven't had very good luck with my selections. Most of the books were mediocre. My best read was a children's novel!

COMPLETED (links are to my full reviews)

Children's literature
  • The Time Garden by Edward Eager - 2 stars. I would have loved this book as a child but it just wasn't good as an adult reader.
  • Meet the Austins by Madeleine L'Engle - 3.5 stars. Great book, would make a good read-aloud. I can't wait until I have children and can share quality literature with them.
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry - 4 stars. My favorite read during the month of November!

Christian Fiction
  • John 3:16 by Nancy Moser - 3 stars. A quick read. I stand by what I've said before: her historical fiction is better!
  • Thicker than Blood by C.J. Darlington - 3.5 stars. A good debut novel. Can't wait to read more!

  • Fernande: The Story of a Courtesan by Alexandre Dumas - 3.5 stars. A very serious book by the author of The Three Musketeers. Great moral application, still applicable today.

Secular Fiction
  • The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus - 2 stars. I bought it to read on a plane. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
  • My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult - 3 stars. This was my first Picoult book. My sister-in-law loves her books so I'm giving the author a try.

  • Lost in Shangri-La (Memoir) by Mitchell Zuckoff - Still working my way through it. It's a good story but I'm reading it in spurts.
  • Eight Cousins (Children's Lit) by Louise May Alcott - Almost done! This will be another favorite.

For the month of December, I am tackling something completely different, something very unusual and difficult for me. For 31 days, I will be reading nothing but nonfiction books. Why? I came across a video on TED about 30 day challenges, trying something new for 30 (or 31) days. As evidenced by my list above, I read fiction almost exclusively. It is only recently that I've been branching out and reading classics. I decided it's time I push myself even farther out of my comfort zone and try reading nonfiction only for 30 days.

What's on my reading list so far:
  • The in-progress books listed above, except for Eight Cousins. I should have that novel finished tomorrow.
  • Behind the Veils of Yemen: How an American Woman Risked Her Life, Family, and Faith to Bring Jesus to Muslim Women by Audra Grace Shelby - A review copy that I am very excited to start reading.
  • December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World by Craig Shirley - A review copy. I had no idea this was such a huge book (544 pages!) until I received it in the mail.
  • Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman - If I am somehow able to finish all the books I am currently reading, plus the two review copies, I will tackle this book.

Whew. I am not going to pressure myself to start and finish all of these books before Christmas. I will do the best I can, but hopefully with the variety I have in my stack, I will not find myself longing for a novel. One can hope!

31 days of nonfiction

Happy December reading!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fast week!

I've been feeling contemplative all this week but haven't yet felt like I could share online. I'm slowly figuring out what is most important to me and reorganize my time around those priorities.

One change I've made this week involves my weekly room assignments. I designate one weekday to each room in our house. That's where I will concentrate my housekeeping efforts on that day, though the entire apartment will get a quick pick up/vacuum almost every day. Fridays are always busy because I'm prepping for the Sabbath, making sure we have church clothes, a meal for Sabbath afternoon, a tidy house, and that all has to be complete by sundown. Come sundown, my work week is over and I'm ready for the Sabbath.

Prior to this week, I would clean the bathroom on Friday. While it's not labor intensive, it does take time to thoroughly clean the mirrors, sink, toilet, floor, and shower. Cleaning the bathroom, on top of my normal Friday activities, always seemed so hectic. This week, I decided to clean the bathroom on Thursday. Wow! That made a huge difference on how rushed I felt today. I was able to take my time with each chore, cook, clean out the fridge, wash and put away the laundry, and tidy the apartment. It was such a nice change, one that I will definitely be making permanent.

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend! I'm off to tend to our supper and relax.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Quilting Update

My husband had a four day weekend so I have yet to brainstorm my schedule and priorities. We went to church, played games, watched a movie, and just enjoyed the time at home. However, I did spend a few hours working on my quilt! I would consider that productive.

The only thing left on the quilt top is to add the borders. Then I get to shop for backing! I'm excited that this quilt is almost done. I have no idea what's next on the project list, though I have a few ideas in mind. I guess we'll just have to see how long it takes me to finish this quilt.

So many quilts and so little time!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Quick update

It's amazing how fast time flies. This week, we've been diving back into our normal routine, my husband concentrating on his work and me trying to shift back into the housework. Once you get out of routine, it's hard to get back into it!

On Sunday, hubby and I started the P90X fitness program. It's intense! Workouts are around 60 minutes, 6 days a week. Today was day 6 so we get tomorrow off. On top of that, we're trying to stay current with our running schedule. We had two 1 mile runs and one 2 mile run this week. The running is scaled back but we're trying to keep our legs aware of what running is.

On the homemaking front, I've been struggling with my emotions a bit this week. I know I've been spending way too much time on things that don't really matter and not enough time on the things that do matter. It's too easy to spend 30-60 minutes wrapped up in a good book. I have a couple of really addicting games on my tablet. While I do not think these activities are inherently bad, I do feel that there has to be balance. Without it, nothing gets done.

There isn't much time left before sundown today, for which I am grateful. I'm looking forward to the Sabbath and going to church tomorrow. My homemaking ponderings will have to wait until Sunday. I am planning on sitting down with a cup of tea and my computer and making lists of what I do everyday versus what should be done. I need to get back to a good schedule.

Last Sabbath, I chatted with my grandma in Wyoming. It turns out my grandpa isn't doing very well and Grandma isn't sure how much longer he's going to be with us. My brother, my dad, and myself were planning on taking a trip to Wyoming late next spring but we moved the dates up. Now we're going to Wyoming for Thanksgiving. This was completely unexpected and has definitely thrown me for a loop. I like knowing WAY in advance when I'm going to travel and I'm not quite prepared to be away from home again, especially when my husband can't go with me. I'm flying up to Denver, which is where my brother is also flying to, and we're both getting picked up by my dad, who is driving from Texas. Then we'll be driving up to Casper for three days. While I'm not prepared to travel again, I am looking forward to seeing my grandparents.

On a much lighter note, I still haven't made a good pumpkin pie! The one last Friday was bland. I made another this week but something was off with the consistency. It was like eating pudding. I have two more recipes to try but something has to work out! Making pumpkin pie should not be this hard.

I hope everyone has a great weekend! I'll try to get back to regular posting next week, detailing how things are going with my priority lists and schedules.

Friday, November 4, 2011


I seem to be on a pumpkin kick today. Yesterday afternoon, I baked a pumpkin and stored it in the fridge, knowing I'd probably be using all of it today. Sure enough, all I have left is enough pumpkin to try making a pumpkin spiced latte!

First I made muffins. The recipe made two dozen. They are very good but I think next time I'll cut the recipe in half and serve them as a dessert.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

And of course, I had to make pumpkin pie! I'm still testing recipes, trying to find one that we love. We've tried a few that we've liked and a couple that were nasty, but haven't found the perfect recipe yet. Hopefully this one will be the winner.

Tofu Pumpkin Pie

Today hasn't been all about baking. I also made a new dish for lunch - Basil Garlic Linguine. Even hubby liked it and he typically prefers expensive jarred sauces. I altered the recipe a bit, sauteeing the garlic and heating up the entire sauce. Then I stirred in the basil right before serving. Yummy! Definitely a keeper.

Tonight I'm trying this recipe for Mushroom and Rice Cheezy-Q's. I'm so glad tomorrow is Sabbath and I'll have a day off from all of the dishes!

The best part of it? I still have these beauties to bake into something yummy!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

30 day challenge - water

My first challenge is still underway and going well. I knew starting the challenge that I would have a slight advantage as we were planning a 9 day vacation. When you're out of town and visiting family and friends, you have no choice but to dress up! I thought that it would be a good start to my challenge and get the ball rolling for getting dressed up at home. So far, so good.

As the Get Dressed! challenge is going well and is almost half over, I decided to start another 30 day challenge and let them overlap. For the month of November, I am concentrating on my water intake. While there are a few days here and there that I drink enough water, most days my water intake is too low. Living in Arizona, that is detrimental to both my exercise routine and my skin's health.

We own a Brita water filter, so I am going to track my water intake. Various resources have suggested a different recommended water intake. Some said that you should drink (in ounces) your body weight divided by 2. Other calculators suggested I drink 70 ounces of water based on my body weight and activity level. I decided I am going to aim for six of our 12 ounce glasses of water.

So far this month, I've been doing well! Yesterday I drank 6.5 glasses of water and today I finished 7. Hopefully this will help my skin and my ability to exercise! Even though it's a 30 day challenge to drink more water, I am hoping this will jump start a lifelong habit.