Mom’s Rhythm & Theme For Each Day

Many of you may know Emily P Freeman and her wonderful podcast “The Next Right Thing“.  I have loved listening to her gentle, wise counsel she shares in her weekly short 15 minute podcasts.  This March I bought her book also called The Next Right Thing, and along with my pre-order of her book, I received free access to her online course Discern & Decide where I learnt to apply many of her concepts she shares in her podcasts.  Today I want to share on how her Design a Rhythm of Work – Theme Days  made such a simple, but wonderfully freeing difference to my work each day.

In a very similar way, we have used Themes of the Day since 2012 in order to cover all the subjects that provide the richness of a Charlotte Mason education.  Here are some examples of  our themes which I refreshed each year.

Daily themes 2015

This simple daily focus reminded us to spend time on the specific subject of the day, usually before lunch, and this helped us fit in all the extras.   Here are our updated Themes for 2016 ~

I don’t know why I never thought to apply this approach to my own work days.  It is such a simple adaption which provides enormous focus and freedom.  As Emily shares,

“Designing a rhythm of life is something anyone in any season of life can do. It’s simple and life-giving and creates a beautiful and flexible framework for decision making.”

She encourages us  to look to topics rather than the tasks to allocate different theme days and says, “Theme days are not about completion, they are about focus.”

In my personal rhythm planning, I  prayed for the Lord’s guidance and wisdom, for His “yeses” in my life.  Then listed my main topics and tasks (my basic job descriptions or responsibilities) and I allocated one or two per day in the way that felt most compatible with our lifestyle, and, voila! I had my Rhythm of Work planned.   Most of these main themes are allocated for afternoons or after my daily farming activities (I hand-milk our cow Milly and I make cheeses every second day) as well as specific household chores or regular tasks which happen daily anyway.

For me this is what it looks like ~ Mondays are for laundry and the week’s planning, Tuesdays are for Lucerne Tree Farm business‘ marketing, bookkeeping and blog content, Wednesday for Practical Pages homeschool content and development,  Thursdays for town trips & appointments, Fridays to clean house & water plants, Saturdays for gardening and cleaning the chicken coop & ironing (if I don’t plan this I keep putting it off) and Sundays as a day of rest.

Because we live an hour away from our nearest town and because we don’t travel to town for shopping the same day each week, we have all learnt to be flexible and find our flow around this variable and simply shift a day’s theme.  We have always kept a 4-day homeschool schedule and we have completed all our work in this time-frame.  Having one “free” day is really very grace-giving and life-giving.

I have found that now I seem to have much more time for business development and blog content because I have a “whole day” for that theme.  As a result, I have managed to post more regularly and have seen some growth in readership and followers in both my homeschool blog and our business.  I feel much more focused when writing blog content because there are regular flow and continuity.  I find that I can delve deeper into each topic because it is the focus of my day.

This “work before play” approach and the simplicity of my daily rhythms provides wonderful peace and contentment and I love the simplicity of knowing what to focus on each day. And strangely enough, I also seem to have more time for my own interests and I have enjoyed a lot more daily art and art journaling.

Have you found the rhythm of your days?  Why not give this approach a try?  It may well be a method that helps you develop  a creative, fulfilling, life-giving work that can make a difference to yourself, your family as well as your homeschooling … even the world!

Blessings, Nadene

When your plans overwhelm

I am a planner.  I love “To Do ” lists, checklists, little boxes, and ticking things off a list.  I often place information in tables in documents.

When it comes to homeschool planning, I love creating the bird’s-eye view and then breaking it down into monthly plans.  (You can find all my free planner and organizer pages here.)

But here’s the snag … my kids don’t like my plans and they absolutely hate my checklists!

A few years ago my youngest child had a total meltdown when I showed her an overview of the work for her new school year. My high school kid freaked out when I showed her the year plan and the book lists at the beginning of her final year.

Okay – so they are not global or detailed thinkers. They are more free, creative, and spontaneous folk, and my detailed plans frustrate, frighten and freeze them.   I just need to show them the week, or even just the day ahead.

I have learnt to compromise. I need to plan for me first and then adjust the plans that I share with them. I often have to customize the day’s schedule so that they have a good idea of my expectations, and allow for their own choices and approach.  Even young children love to feel that they have some control by choosing what they prefer to do first, next or last.  Teenagers should be given this freedom of choice and learn to accept the consequences of their choices.

My children think and work at a different pace to me. When things are not essential, I have learnt to let them work at their own pace. Chores that I need to be done, should be done on time, but the rest they can do so long as it is done before I go to bed.
I am still learning not to drive my children crazy.

Right now, our daughter is getting married at the end of this month, and guess what? I started a 6-page checklist!  It even overwhelmed me and I became so stressed that I stopped. But, foolish mom that I was, I pressed on, continued, finished it and, what’s even worse, I presented it to my precious daughter-bride-to-be.  Her reaction was instant STRESS and anger.  My detailed plans did not help.  Frustration closed all communication channels and so I went into the shower to have a good cry.  You would think that I had learnt how to approach things with my children by now. I was filled with such sorrow and shame.

I came back and apologised.  I immediately resigned as the wedding planner.  We laughed at some of my ridiculous details on my checklist, and I put the file away.  Her best friend is an amazing wedding planner and is already helping her and us.  Her friend knows how to translate all the practical details into an approach that my creative, romantic, visionary daughter can visualize and process.  Weddings are stressful events to plan, people!  That’s why you have professionals who do this type of thing!

My daughter’s recent Kitchen Tea

We have celebrated her upcoming wedding hosting two kitchen teas.  The first kitchen tea (pictured above) was in the small town where she lives.  All her bridesmaids and close friends attended.  They prepared a beautiful venue and laid out a delicious spread, and we had fun with some kitchen tea activities as she unwrapped her gifts.  The other more recent kitchen tea was with family and friends in our nearest town.

Because I need to see things on paper, I will continue to work with the wedding plans to keep tab of things and I will act as my hubby’s PA and his admin help, keeping track of the budget and emails.  But I confess that I feel completely overwhelmed at times … especially sometimes when I lie awake at night …

We are in a slight lull right now, with most things booked, arranged and made, but in just 2 weeks, things will be revved up like crazy!  So, please excuse me from this little space while we are all busy, preparing, travelling and celebrating this incredible occasion!

Dear precious mom, learn from me and don’t overwhelm yourself or your kids with too many detailed plans.  Give yourself and your children the time and space to work in a way that allows them to use their best energy and focus.  Balance this grace with suitable, sensible training.   Teach them to prioritize,  set alarm clocks, be on time, and meet daily goals.  Allow for choices, alternatives, and options you may not have planned.  It will all work out fine in the end!

With every blessing, Nadene

 

  • Subscribe Click to receive all my new posts packed with practical tips, projects, plans, pages & art ideas by email
  • Facebook Follow Practical Pages on Facebook

 

Practical Tip ~ Rolodex

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~  (Revisiting my organization archives)

Rolodex

Years ago I bought an amazing organization book called Confessions of an Organized Homemaker by Deniece Schofield  (ISBN 1-55870-361-6) where she recommends filing recipes on a Rolodex.  I started mine too, way back in 2000.

Advantages of the Rolodex Recipe System ~

  • Easy to file and organize
  • Rolodex file is compact and doesn’t take up valuable counter top space
  • Recipe is visible; just press open at the card you need
  • When several people bake or cook at the same time, we each take our recipe card out and place it at our work station
  • Add new recipe cards  – quick and simple
  • New recipes are put up on the fridge.  If you haven’t cooked or baked it in 10 days – toss it out!  A great motivator!  If it works – simply file it.
  • The Rolodex holds stacks and stacks of recipes
  • Keep blank cards in your handbag to jot new recipes when waiting or visiting friends
  • In recent years I have added my Trim Healthy Mama and Low Carb recipes on yellow cards so that they stand out from my older, conventional recipes.

Some negatives ~

  • It seems a schlep to rewrite recipes, but I sat for a few hours each evening many years ago and wrote out my favorite recipes.  Now I sit with my blank cards when I read a new cookbook, and quickly jot down the new recipe and give it a try!
  • Because the cards are small, I abbreviate the recipe, especially the method.  This was fine until my younger kids started to cook and bake.  I simply rewrote some cards, and with experience and one-on-one training they master the abbreviated recipes.
  • Some cards have become smudged – use a waterproof pen!

How did I file my recipes?  I added colored stickers and labels to cards to separate the different groups.

  • A = conversions & substitutes
  • B = Biscuits, Breads, Baking ~ Crumpets, Dumplings, Muffins, Rusks, Scones
  • C = Cakes
  • D = Desserts, Dairy
  • E = Egg dishes
  • F = Fish
  • H = Herbs
  • J = Juicing, Jams, Jewish cooking
  • L = Lunches
  • M = Meat ~ Chicken, Lamb, Mince, Meat casseroles,
  • O = Other ~ play dough, salt dough, bath salts, bubbles, homemade soaps, dog food etc.
  • P = Pasta, Pastry, Pancakes, Pies
  • Q = Quiche & tarts
  • R = Rice
  • S = Salads, Sauces, Soups, Sweets
  • T = Tuna
  • V = Vegetables
  • W = Washing soap, laundry soaps

Nowadays everything is online, electronic, super-technical, Internet-based.  Many moms swear by their Kindles and iPad for their recipes. There are also amazing websites for menu planning and online recipe storage, but my Rolodex Recipe system serves me well and I don’t need to recharge it!

This system could work for other subjects too.  What about using a Rolodex instead of an index box for Scripture Memorization?

Happy organizing!  Blessings, Nadene

 

Save

Room for schoolroom?

A reader asked,
“My rental home is tiny and we don’t know if we can homeschool as we are supposed to. What suggestions do you have?”

2-20150123_065051Many new homeschool parents have a “school-at-home” mindset.  I was your typical first-time homeschool mom who took great pride in setting up a whiteboard and neat, organized schoolroom, only to find that we spent most our time together on the couch in the livingroom!  When your children are very young, there is no need to set up any formal schooling room or space.   Life is the lesson,  and your approach should be to provide  your children ample opportunity to explore and discover.  Add some good children’s story books to read aloud, and you have a wonderful, diverse, informal education.

Learning takes place everywhere, all the time.  I would recommend a low table and chairs for toddlers to play, paint, build on and do pre-writing activities.  You can place this in any suitable spot in your home.  Keep all your children’s supplies, books and equipment in a basket or on a shelf, low enough for the littlest child to reach.

We once travelled around South Africa for a year and a half with our kids who were then Pre-school, Grade 2 and Grade 7 ( Pre-school, Junior and Middle schoolers).  We packed our homeschool basics in a small suitcase and followed a very relaxed schedule.  Some weeks were filled with long car journeys and visits, while other weeks we were more settled at the places that we stopped at for a while.  Despite my fears that we would “fall behind”,  we didn’t!  We had no school room or special space to “do school”.  My kids journalled or did school work at the diningroom table or on the patio table.  I learnt how little one really needs to have a rich, rewarding education.

High school children need their own independent learning space to do their work.  They may need a laptop and desk in their rooms, and then they can join the family for read alouds, fine arts and crafts and hobbies.  We have one desktop computer in the study for all online schooling, research and printing needs.  This makes the study our schoolroom, but we still remain flexible and fluid in our working space and habits. Essentially, our study is a storage depot with space to be creative!

In my experience, any table with chairs become the schooling area.  You may need to come up with creative storage plans so that everyone can quickly pack away their stuff if the table is needed for meals.  Baskets, storage boxes, a bookshelf, a suitcase, chair bags, a trolley or cupboard can help keep things organized and on hand.

All good homeschooling families need maximum space for books!  Build and buy good, big bookshelves because your home library will grow over the next few years!

But, if you ever move to a larger home, I’m sure you will be relieved to have a study/ school/ hobby area dedicated to your homeschool needs.  And there are plenty of inspirational pictures and ideas of wonderful homeschool rooms on Pinterest and Google.  It will all depend on the seasons in your homeschool journey.

Hope this post encourages you to start anywhere, anytime, with no devoted school room.   What suggestions do you have for this new homeschool mom?  Please share your ideas in the comments.

Wishing you every blessing in your homeschool journey! Nadene

Save

Notice Board – Bible Verse

In my previous posts featuring our new homeschool notice board I shared details on our clipboards with Current Affairs and Nature Study.
20140220_164913.jpg (2244×3937)

Today I would like to share a bit more about our ~

Bible Verses

20140220_165148

For many years we used the Simply Charlotte Mason memory verses card system. You can download memory verse cards that I have created ~ Free Pages – Bible

But this year, focusing on my youngest visual-learner, I trusted the Lord for a fresh way to present her memory verses.

Faithfully the Lord led me to Ann Voskamp of A Holy Experience who has started “The Jesus Project” and she says,

“Scripture Memorization for the Rest of Us: The Jesus Project. We’d memorize the Soul Sustaining Words of Jesus. From the Gospel of John.

We’d start with just 24 verses (or you could choose just 12 of the 24) — all that would be rendered artistically, to make us see Beautiful in the Words of God. It would sort of be like this —  ”More Than Useful: He is Beautiful” Memory Prints… 24 verses that would chronologically unpack across the Gospel of John. We’ll memorize at least one verse from every chapter in the Gospel of John. Sometimes several verses from each chapter.”

In her amazing style, Ann created visually representative fonts, color and layout prints of each verse that emphasizes the scripture’s meaning. They are meant to be displayed.

I downloaded the large display format for our notice board and the small display for my child. I punched a hole in the corner of each verse and used a small plastic ring to keep them together. I have encouraged my child to review the memory verses daily – either on the notice board or in her file.

(Scroll down to the bottom of Ann’s post for the pdf file downloads.)

This year my youngest daughter asked me to re-use the Picture Smart Bible Homeschool Bible Curriculum program from www.bibledraw.com, focusing on the Old Testament.  (You can see my previous posts about our first experiences with this fantastic program here.)

Bible

May I quickly explain the Picture This! program ~

The lessons essentially form a single-page overview illustration of an entire book of the Bible.  Children draw, color in and label over a very light outline of the picture, as the lesson progresses.  The master copy and teacher’s notes are broken into sections with accompanying thumbnail illustrations and they have excellent cross-references, additional notes and wonderful life-application discussion suggestions.  They have linked each book of the Bible to reveal Christ which appear as a “star-burst” on each page. The kids love to draw and color as I read, and I love the pace of the lessons; slow yet detailed, full and flexible. When the page is completed, each child has a unique full-color page with a powerful, visual, symbolic summary of the book.

When I planned this year’s eclectic curriculum for my youngest daughter, I prayed and sought the Lord, then looked for suitable programs, themes or ideas.  I jotted some of these down and when I asked her what she  would like to study, she suggested the Picture This! OT program.  I asked her if she would like to memorize the Jesus Project memory verses with me this year.

Two seemingly separate approaches to our Bible Study lessons, but the Holy Spirit has marvelously joined them together in ways that bring tears to my eyes!  I call these moments “silver threads” where verses confirm and repeat, where His message is connected across the Old Testament and the New.

Here are two examples that blessed my heart and reassured me of the Lord’s intimate presence and provision in our homeschooling ~

When we started our Bible lesson the first week, we used our new memory verse prints and learnt  John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word …” and our first Picture This! lesson introduced the Bible as the miraculous living Word of God!

The next week, when I introduced our 2nd memory verse; “The Light shines in the darkness …”, we found the same message in our Picture This! lesson where it shows the Bible as the “light to our path and lamp to our feet” (Psalm 119:105). What amazed me was that we had stopped randomly in the previous Picture This! lesson and yet when we continued the next week, the Lord highlighted, connected and confirmed His Word across both Old and New Testaments.

I pray and trust that these precious memory verses and Bible lessons are faithfully written on my children’s hearts and minds so that the Holy Spirit can use His divine words to “light their way.”

May you be encouraged to see the divine hand of the Lord leading and guiding you in your homeschooling.

Blessings and much grace,

Notice Board – Nature Study

In my last post I featured the Current Affairs section of our new homeschool notice board.  In this post, I want to share about ~

Nature Study

20140220_165127

My Nature Study notice board includes 3 elements:

  1. Nature Photo of the Week
  2. Outdoor Hour Challenge month grid
  3. Nature Study tray display

Let me explain a bit more ~

Nature Photo of the Week

Barb of Handbook of Nature Study introduced aNature Photo of the Week.  She explains ~

“Nature photography is a huge favorite hobby of mine. Our home is filled with images from our travels near and far. This is something I have passed on down to my children and they all enjoy photography in their free time. I want to push my skills to the next level this year and in order to do that I have made myself a Nature Photo of the Week challenge. I will be taking photos each week to go along with a determined theme. At the end of the year, I will take my weekly photos, choose one from each month, and then use those images to create a customized family calendar for 2015.

I am happy to share my Nature Photo of the Week Challenge with any of you who want to play along. I have created a printable list of topics that you can use in any order you wish. I also have started a Pinterest board where I will pin my images and I invite you to as well.

You can join the Pinterest Board : Nature Photo of The Week 2014
You need to follow the Pinterest Board before I can send you an invite. 
You will need to send me your Pinterest name and I will send you an invite. You can comment here or email me directly at harmonyfinearts@yahoo.com”

My kids love capturing their nature study finds with a camera, so this challenge was right up their alley!  And with my smart phone, I can so easily snap and upload photos to the Pinterest Board.

I took Barb’s list (Nature Photo of the Week 2014 Printable and turned it into a quick-glance-chart ~

Nature Photo of the Week Chart
Here is your free download ~ Nature Photo of the Week Chart

Outdoor Hour Challenge month grid

You will also notice the Nature Study February Fun grid on the clip board.  Again Barb of Handbook of Nature Study encourages children to enjoy Nature Study with The Handbook of Nature Study with her Outdoor Hour Challenges. Each month she provides subscribers her OHC newsletter with articles, links, downloads and nature study activities according to season or theme.  The monthly grid (a lovely visual reminder) pinned up and on display encourages my children to get outdoors and observe, collect, journal or photograph.  And it doesn’t take an hour – just a short outing!

Nature Study Tray

Below the clipboard is our Nature Study Tray where we display any nature study finds.  Celeste (a mommy to 6 little kiddies under 8!) of Joyous Lessons has a marvelous method of displaying her children’s nature study finds.  Her young children collect interesting finds on their nature study outings and  when they return home, they place these items on a tray.  The children can then look up and label, draw and record their finds in their nature journals during the week.  Celeste describes:

The next week, I clear the tray, putting on our nature shelf the things we want to keep and discarding the rest.  Sometimes I grab some leaves and put them in the leaf press, between sheets of contact paper, or into someone’s journal with tape if he or she requests it.  Rocks, sticks, bark, and feathers either go into our little collection or out into the backyard for play.  And the tray is then wiped down, ready to be refilled with a new set of treasures after our next outing.  In a way, this holds me accountable too: I don’t like to clear out the tray until I have had time to document and sketch a bit, but the tray must be emptied to make room for our new finds. So through the routine, I’m nudged into at least a weekly journal entry.

This seems like such a minor tip–perhaps this is something you already do!  But if you’re anything like me, it’s little things, those easy habits that allow the “extras” to become smoothly woven into the rhythm of our days, that make all the difference.  Sometimes, when I’m having a busy week and I would normally be tempted to let our nature study slide, it’s this little habit that prods me to get out the colored pencils and notebooks!

This is a wonderful idea, Celeste!  Older children, homeschool graduates and parents can use the very enthusiastic younger children’s nature collections as a stimulus for nature journaling! No excuses for not doing nature journal entries!

As you can see, Nature Study is simple, easy and delightful!  Charlotte Mason encourages moms to also spend time outdoors with their children and simply observe and enjoy their children’s delight in nature.  This time is an investment in “Mother Culture” because, for an hour or so, you can forget the hum-drum of life and household chores!

Schedule in this “extra” in your week ~ see my “Theme of the Day” chart.

Much grace,

Google Calendar Planning

Earlier this year I shared how I use Google calendar for homeschool planning.

I want to emphatically declare that it was a huge success!

Not only was it quick and simple to plan all the school days, holidays and exam dates, but each child had their own calendar which helped me keep track of their work and their schedules.

My eldest wrote her matric and had a very strict schedule. After 11 years of fairly flexible homeschool scheduling, this was quite an adjustment for both of us. She has her own Gmail account and could get access to her own calendar on the desktop computer. I plotted out when her portfolio assignments had to be couriered to the marking department before the deadline dates. Also I added moderation dates, extra lessons and, most importantly, her exam dates. Because she wrote her exams at an exam centre in town, we had to book accommodation for some weeks. With Google calendar on my smart phone, I could easily confirm our accommodation bookings while in town.

For my youngest child, I did all my detailed planning in the beginning of the year and added details, websites, images, uploaded files and downloads to the description box for each event, sometimes fleshing these plans out a bit more as we went along.

I rescheduled some lessons if we fell behind with a quick click and change of dates. Some lessons I simply deleted (… sigh … we didn’t do it all …), but most the plan worked! Her calendar is now my record of work!  How nifty is that?

My middle child wrote Grade 8 this year. Her curriculum was fully planned and so I used Homeschool Tracker (HST) to record her exam and term marks. The HST program is quite complicated and I can only do the very basics. (I should have stayed with the free Homeschool Tracker Basic download … and buying the full offline HST program is one of my few homeschool purchase regrets …)  Despite my limitations, I typed in her subjects and exam dates for the year and entered her marks when done. It worked very well, and I printed her term reports and sent her mark sheets away with a click of a button.

For those clever moms that can plan and record using HST, my hats off to you! It is a brilliant program … I’m still just not brilliant enough to figure it all out!

Google calendar is a very versatile tool. You can add and change, delete and amend with no training. It is a wonderful platform on all the computers and smart phones.  It keeps the whole family, including dad, in sync. I am definitely going to continue to use it for our homeschooling!

As we enter 2014, I want to thank all my readers for their kindness and compassion and friendship.

May the Lord bless you and your families and fulfil all your hopes, prayers and plans for the New Year!

Blessings,

Immersion Study

In my recent post “Short and Sweet” I mentioned briefly that my high school daughter likes to stick to one subject all day, everyday, until she completes the work and then “write it off” or write the exam and conclude that subject for the term.

I called it an “immersion” approach because she focuses on that one subject exclusively until she completes it.

One of my readers wrote me this question:

“I have a high school  son who (studies) like this as well – studying one subject or book completely before moving on to another.  But the challenge we have is keeping him “on track”.  He gets immersed and ends up hitting the end of the school year with 2 courses incomplete or not even begun.  Do you have a suggestion on how to monitor or pace the immersion method?  Thank you in advance.”

This is what I shared:

“Like your son, my daughter has also miscalculated her time in previous years and faced the awful reality that one or 2 subjects were neglected or that she did not have enough time to properly complete the course.
It all boils down to breaking up the full course and some simple planning.
Basically we have a golden rule:
Short goals prevent big disasters.
Here are some strategies and tips we use ~
Break the year into quarters and allocate the work per term/semester/quarter and not per year:
  • Use a year calendar and mark out all the semesters/ quarters/ terms and school holidays.
  • Plot out the exam dates or weeks at the end of each term and allow for a few study dates for each exam.
  • Calculate the number of weeks left per quarter.
  • Divide out the subject(s) into these remaining weeks.
  • ALL SUBJECTS MUST BE COMPLETED PER TERM OR NO HOLIDAY!  This has been the biggest motivator to completing each term.
Allocate specific times for portfolio assignments:
  • Plot out enough time specifically for portfolios/ projects.
  • If a project is completed during normal school days, you can allocate fewer portfolio days

Monitor & check work off

  • Hold monthly monitor meetings.  Don’t leave it too long to discover that the whole semester is lost!  
  • The child ticks off all the work done.  It is a good motivator.
  • Mom can sign off exams and portfolio projects.
  • Break subjects into smaller “chunks” if work falls behind.  Instead of monthly meetings, hold weekly meetings, and if need be, daily meetings until the work is caught up.
This way, at the end of each quarter, all the subjects with their projects and exams are completed.  We have never had to face untouched or incomplete subjects again.
Hope this helps you with your child’s planning and gives some motivation for him and specific measures for you.
Do you have suggestions or further questions?  Feel free to write in the comments below.

Blessings,

Rolodex Recipe Cards

Practical Tip of the week ~

Here’s the most revolutionary organization tip from

Confessions of an Organized Homemaker 

Rolodex Recipe Cardsrolodex recipe card holder

Deniece Schofield recommends a good filing system to clip and save recipes.  Her tried and tested recipes are filed on her labelled Rolodex file. I started mine too, way back in 2000.

It works because ~

  • Easy to file
  • Rolodex file is compact and doesn’t take up valuable counter top space
  • Recipe is visible; just press open at the card you need
  • Add new cards  – quick and simple
  • Keep blank cards in your handbag to jot new recipes when waiting or visiting
  • New recipes are put up on the fridge.  If you haven’t cooked or baked it in 10 days – toss it out!  A great motivator!  If it works – simply file it.
  • Delegate – I can give each child her recipe card and we can all go for it!

My A,B,C filing system is ~

  • A = conversions & substitutes
  • B = Biscuits, Breads, Baking ~ Crumpets, Dumplings, Muffins, Rusks, Scones
  • C = Cakes
  • D = Desserts, Dairy
  • E = Egg dishes
  • F = Fish
  • H = Herbs
  • J = Juicing, Jams, Jewish cooking
  • L = Lunches
  • M = Meat ~ Chicken, Lamb, Mince, Meat casseroles,
  • O = Other ~ play dough, salt dough, bath salts, bubbles, homemade soaps, dog food etc.
  • P = Pasta, Pastry, Pancakes, Pies
  • Q = Quiche
  • R = Rice
  • S = Salads, Sauces, Soups, Sweets
  • T = Tuna
  • V = Vegetables
  • W = Washing soap, laundry soaps

Some negatives ~

  • It seems a schlep to rewrite recipes, but I sat for a few hours each evening many years ago and wrote out my favorite recipes.  Now I sit with my blank cards when I read a new cookbook, and quickly jot down the new recipe and give it a try!
  • I admit that because the cards are small, I abbreviate the recipe, especially the method.  This was fine until my younger kids started to cook and bake.  I simply rewrote some cards, and with experience and one-on-one training they master the recipes.
  • Some cards have become smudged – use a waterproof pen!

When we traveled for 18 months, and my Rolodex went into storage, I photocopied about 10 ‘very important’ recipes onto 1 page and kept it in my Filofax.

Now, everything is online, electronic, super-technical, Internet-based.  Many moms swear by their Kindles and iPad for their recipes. There are also amazing websites for menu planning and online recipe storage.  What are your favorites?

For now, my old system serves me well … and I don’t need to recharge it!

“Confessions of an Organized Homemaker is written by Deniece Schofield (ISBN 1-55870-361-6)

What works for you?  Share with us in the comments.

Blessings,

Small Steps

Be faithful where you are right now.

Just start where you can.

Take the first step.

Whether it is

  • cleaning the house,https://i1.wp.com/blog.buyspares.co.uk/files/2012/02/1.jpg
  • learning a new skill,
  • re-organizing a room,
  • developing a good habit,
  • starting a routine,
  • clearing a garden bed,
  • or beginning a new school phase …

just start

and take small steps.

In this way we have established a wonderful, rich homeschool education.

Last year we introduced new subjects.

I gently included Hymn Study in our Bible Study time.  We implemented the SCM Scripture Memory System.  We made a commitment to get outside at least once a week for Nature Study.

And I added Shakespeare.

Small Steps.

This year my 12-year-old started her junior-high curriculum.  It involves much more independent reading.  Her course is more political, more mature.  She needs to stretch her mind and her heart.  She has been afraid to start.

Fear has a way of crushing all joy and liberty.

Grace makes a way for growth.

I encourage her to take small steps.

We  start together.

Keep lessons short.

And trust the Lord that within a few weeks we will have found our way and even have mastered new areas.

I can approach some specific house cleaning in the same way.https://i1.wp.com/lh3.ggpht.com/_f6FIQqGNgBc/TVl9xYwg_gI/AAAAAAAADKU/XNX9B4pSWLo/home%20015_thumb%5B3%5D.jpg

While I wait for the kettle to boil I can …

  • clean a shelf
  • re-arrange the Tupperware and plastics cupboard,
  • wipe down a fridge shelf
  • re-organize a utensil drawer
  • clean inside the microwave …

With 15 minutes each day I can tackle a large task and break it down by working in small stages; each time sort/ clean/ rearrange/ give away.  I recently went through my wardrobe ~

  • 1st day – check through all the shoes,
  • 2nd day – go through just the undies and PJ’s
  • 3rd day – work through knitted garments
  • 4th day – sort through all skirts and dresses
  • 5th day – pack scarves
  • etc …

Just this weekend we tackled my 9-year-old’s stuff. 

It was a mountain! 

We were both discouraged to start, but we took small steps.

I placed 3 boxes in a row – Keep, Give Away, Throw Awayhttps://i0.wp.com/media.wiley.com/Lux/99/91999.image0.jpg

Quick as a flash we went through each shelf.

In just 20 minutes we had done all her clothes.

After a short break, we tackled her dressing table, then her toys.

I packaged the stuff for charity and for storage.

Phew!

Much relief for all!

We find that this works when we try train our children in new chores.

  • Show them clearly how to do a task in a simple way.
  • Spend a few minutes every time to focus and establish the skills.
  • Finally, set them to do it without our help or reminders.

Small deposits … great dividends.

How do you tackle big issues?

What tactics do you find works?  Share with us in your comments.

Blessings,