Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Virtuous Woman Plans

  • Who can find a virtuous woman?  her price is far above rubies
  • She looketh well to the ways of her household and eateth not the bread of idleness
Hello again, you virtuous women! I finally get internet back at my house, start doing some blogging, planning some future posts, etc, and then---I disappear for a month!  Let me just say--life got in the way! You may remember me mentioning us having to get our heating and cooling system replace, including moving a closet wall 6 inches.  That turned into a bigger job than we had planned, we ended up having to replace ductwork in the attic, ceiling boxes, and register covers. I had workmen (and woman) in my house for three days, smack in the middle of the house,in and out of rooms, up and down ladders, it was controlled chaos, all of this right as I was trying to gear up for the holidays.  Then came the actual holidays, ready or not.  Next a little family mini-vacation to the city; then came some sickness, and now, I'm finally ready to get back to my planned post--on what subject, you might ask?

Planning, of course!

Last month I wrote about how I was trying to get myself into a new routine, one that accommodated the changes in our lives and our schedules, it just seemed that nothing quite worked. I just could not seem to get myself back on track.

So I started thinking about the times when I was on track,when I was productive and life seemed to flow better. One of the things that I realized about myself, is that if I don't have a plan, I will drift through days or even weeks at a time without accomplishing much of anything at all.

And whether it's a grocery list jotted on the back of a used envelope, or a carefully orchestrated weekly calendar, for me, that means written down.

On paper.

In ink.

You'd think that at this stage in my life I could just wing it and still get it right, still get things done.


Tried that.  Obviously wasn't working.

I've also tried using virtual/electronic calendars, but for me, they don't work well.  For one thing, I never seem to keep everything synced up--phone calendar, kindle calendar, laptop, I have too many options. And for another thing, most of my technology is not the latest and greatest.  I don't have a smart phone and my laptop is eight years old, which makes it a dinosaur.  I used to have a Palm Pilot, which I loved, but even that technology is outdated now.  None of my devices work with any of my other devices.

So I thought about what works for me and what doesn't work for me. and this is what works.

(All of the photos are clickable, which means if you click on them, you can see them larger if you need to)

Three items--a planner-sized calendar, a notebook, and a purse calendar.

For my to-do lists, etc, I like to use a spiral bound 5x7 notebook with lined pages.  These are usually sold as journals. I've been known to buy these 10 at a time when I find them at a good price, which for me is around $2.99 each. Around here that means getting them at a chain discount store that's basically sort of an outlet store, or a chain bookstores when they run them on sale.  I don't buy usually buy them unless there's a deep discount or I have a store coupon, but occasionally I'll find one that I just fall in love with the picture on the cover or the page design, and I'll pay full price.  Just not often!

.I use them as a list-planners and journals, as you'll see in another post later this week. I try to jot a daily "to-do" list on one side, usually the left hand side, as you can see above, then mark things off as I do them, sometime with a check mark, or a line through it, usually both.  And if I do something spontaneous that isn't on my list, I write it down and mark it off as done, as well.  

Yes, I do. 

 Anything left unmarked usually gets transferred to the next day. On the right hand side, I usually jot notes for  outside the house things--errands to do, appointments to make, a grocery list, things to buy from the the Dollar Store, etc.  

I know it sounds weird, but I do my daily lists from front to back, but sometimes I flip to the back and write myself notes about things I need to remember for the long term--that way it doesn't get mixed up with my short term lists.  When my short term lists and long term lists/notes meet, it's time for a new notebook!

My next item is a purse calendar, the size of checkbook.  I'm picky about these, too, even though I write small, I want one with decent sized squares, and I want one with a cover that I like! Right now I'm floundering along with out one of these, my last couple of these were two-year calendars, and I didn't realize I was going to need a new one back in the fall when everyone had calendars everywhere!

Any time I'm out-and-about, if something comes up about a future date, I can add it immediately, or check for conflicts, appointments, etc.  I love my little purse calendars.

And my third item is a larger planner.calendar. This one is about 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches, a good size, but not too heavy or bulky.  

First of all is function, of course, but I also want one that's pretty.  I bought this one last fall at Barnes and Noble, I don't remember the price off hand, but it was very reasonable. It's about 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches, a good size, but not too heavy or bulky.  I like the little elastic thingy that holds it closed, too, it's easy to slip on and off, but keeps it neat, as well. 

The calendar part is a two page spread, this gives me plenty of room to write.  In the back it has some address book pages and some tear off pages for notes and lists.  No daily/hour by hour pages in this one, that's not something I really need at this season of my life.

And there you have it---the three tools that help me stay on track--if I use them!

My goal for the coming weeks is get back into my planing groove
  • writing things down
  • checking them off
  • using my calendars
  • keeping my calendar and planner syncronized
What do you do to keep yourself organized?

Until next time...

This post is linked to:

Make Your Home Sing Monday at Moms the Word
Treasure Box Tuesday at Memories by the Mile

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Virtuous Woman Cooks--The World's Best Peanut Butter Fudge

  • Who can find a virtuous woman?  for her price is far above rubies
  • She is like the merchant's ships, she bringeth her food from afar
  • She giveth meat to her household...

I tried a new recipe today and made seriously the world's best peanut butter fudge--check it out over on my food blog, Secrets of a Southern Kitchen!

Until next time...

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Keeping the Kitchen Table Clean

  • Who can find a virtuous woman? her price is far above rubies
  • She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness
  • She is like the merchants ships, she bringeth her food from afar
Yesterday's post in the 5 Days to Clean challenge was about getting back into my groove in the kitchen. Today I worked on getting back on track with my regular daily routine, and also tackled the other end of our kitchen, which we euphemistically call the "dining room", although it's part of one long room.  It's been a real mess lately due to a failure in my other routine--my weekly routine.

One of the worst failures I've had in the last few weeks involves the kitchen/dining table.  It's right by the carport door, and it's the landing pad for everything that comes into the house, from purchases to mail to purse or backpack.  

A few years ago, I started lighting candles every Friday night to welcome the Biblical Sabbath. I was working outside the home at the time, so Fridays involved stopping on the way home from work to pick up a rotisserie chicken from the deli of a local grocery, a loaf of bread and maybe a couple of sides, then rushing into the house, and hurrying to get a space cleared so we could light the candles and eat.  

Fast forward a few years, and I was no longer working, so I did better about clearing the table and getting things ready on Friday, but it was still hit-and-miss sometimes if I got the table cleared all the way before dinner.  

Then we started a Friday night Bible study in our home, centered around the table, so you can be sure that it was cleared every week!  When the Bible study ended, I kept up the habit of using Friday evenings to clear off the table and get it ready for our family Shabbat.  

Even though we use this table daily, and it's still our landing pad for whatever comes in the back door, there was something about clearing it off completely once a week that helped us to keep it picked up the rest of the week as well.  

Then several weeks ago we started attending Shabbat elsewhere, and without that weekly clearing off, the table disintegrated into chaos!  

I made up my mind last week when I came home to a messy table, that whether we are home or away on Friday nights, the table will be cleared and ready.  

And after today---it's ready!

I know from experience that we'll set the mail down on it again, and leave books and papers and everything else on it from time to time--but knowing that it will be cleared off every Friday helps us to be conscious about keeping it (somewhat) picked up the rest of the week.

How do you incorporate your cleaning into your weekly routine? Do you have certain days that you do certain things?

Until next time...

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Goovin' in the Kitchen

  • Who can find a virtuous woman? her price is far above rubies
  • She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness

As part of the 5 Days to Clean challenge, I'd like to say I got back into my groove again today,but unfortunately, I really didn't do too much.   I slept in a little, didn't get up until almost 7:00 a.m.  I did  a very brief quiet time before I got dressed for the gym and headed out.  After our work out, I visited with my mom and dad at their house for bit, came home and grabbed a glass of tea and a bite to eat, checked in here and on facebook, and honestly, vegged out in front of the tv for a while.  

I finally got up to take my glass and dish back to the kitchen, and realized I couldn't put it off any longer, I had to get my kitchen back in order.  

 The photo is a bit dark, but you can get the gist of it.  Not horrible, but not good, either!

I usually try to start at the sink. I  had clean dishes from last night on the drainboard, an empty tea pitcher and some dirty dishes in the sink.

First things first...

...put away the clean dishes.

Second, put the dishes to soak in hot, soapy water.  

While they were soaking for a few minutes, I made some tea and when I put it in the fridge, I used that opportunity to clean out a couple of things and wipe some of the fridge shelves down...

...then washed up the dishes.  

I went ahead and mixed up the cookies I had planned to make, and after they were done I wiped down the stove,  

and soaked a couple of the stove drip pans in the sink.  How in the world do they get so dirty?

In the end I had a clean stove...

clean counter top...

and a clean sink!

My house is still no where near ready for the holidays, and neither am I, but I'm a little closer now than I was earlier today.  

Until next time...

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Whole 'Nother Groove

  • Who can find a virtuous woman?  her price is far above rubies
  • She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy

"Hey, Pastor"

Something I haven't heard in a few months, these words came from the mouth of young black guy in the middle of convenience store in a town I don't live in and haven't worked in, either, for a while.  

For those of you who may not know, until a few months ago, I pastored a small church in a tiny little rural town almost 40 miles from the small town I call home.  I gave it up after a lot of soul searching and tears, but I felt it was the right thing to do, for the church, for my family, and for myself. 

Didn't mean it was easy, though.  

And here I was, several months down the road, in the tiny town for the briefest of stops, grabbing something to drink and a snack, with my head down and not even looking around.  

"Hey, Pastor".  A young man I knew from the jail work crew, who did some remodeling work for us after a leak flooded almost half of our little church.  He was part of the inmate crew who worked the local food pantry we hosted, too, once a month when the big truck came in from the regional food bank to pass out boxes to the needy in the area.  

"I still have the Bible you gave me."  

I'd lost track of the number of Bibles I'd given to these young men, inmates in the parish (county) jail, who requested large print Bibles regardless of their age or eyesight, because of the poor lighting in their cells.  

It started with one request from one inmate.  I didn't have any large print Bibles on hand, but I promised I'd get him one, and I did.  Plain, but sturdy and attractive.  

The next month another one asked if I could get him one, "just like the one you gave him".  I started haunting the sale tables at Christian bookstores, looking for nice large print Bibles.  Soft covers, because the jail rips the covers off of hardback books so the prisoners can't use them to make weapons.  Any translation would do, most of them weren't particular; occasionally I had a request for "one that's easy to understand" because "I'm not a good reader."  

One of the ladies in the church bought one of them a new pair of tennis shoes.  

I used to ask their wives and girlfriends who came to visit them on work days, bringing their little ones with them, if they wanted to sit in the sanctuary and visit, out of the heat and in a quiet place. 

"This is my boy", they'd say proudly, or "my baby girl".  One had an obviously ready-to-give-birth baby momma who came a couple of times.  Only thing was, the baby she brought to visit was his, but the baby she was about to have--not.  

These were young men who had done some crimes, true. But they were so respectful, so appreciative of any little thing we did for them.  

We fed them lunch every time they worked; sometimes something home made, sometimes something "from the corner store", at their request.  (Did I mention that this is a tiny town?  No fast food here, just a store that serves hamburgers and deep-fried everything from behind the counter.) 

Once I was heading the local dollar store to buy some soft drinks for their lunch, and asked if they wanted anything else from there.  "Debbie Cakes" one of them said.  And I obliged. "Bruce, you know you don't need all that sugar!" this from the deputy who ran the work crew.  He takes pride in what he teaches them--a work ethic, and skills that will help them get make a living once they get out--painting, yard work, light carpentry, even plumbing--and more--organization, taking care of tools, having pride in a job well done.  

"How are you doing?" I asked the young man in the store. 

"I'm doing good, pastor". 

When I paid for my drink and food, I told the gal behind the counter to add his lunch to my tab, too.  I couldn't help it, I wanted to feed him one last time.  

As I left the counter, I told him "I got yours" and gave him a big hug.  "You just do good".  

I've really struggled since I gave up my church.  I feel like I'm not sure who I am anymore.  Wife, mother, daughter--these are who I am to my family, but who am I to me? Or to the Lord?

Today was supposed to be a catch-up day on my 5 Days to Clean Challenge, but once again, I didn't get much done at home.  Sometimes I feel so ineffective at the one thing that remains constant in my life, and that's taking care of things at home. "Looking well to the ways of my household". We virtuous women have a big impact on our homes and our families, after all. 

And sometimes we get reminded of the ripples that spread longer and farther than we even realize.   

Until next time...

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Out of My Groove

  • Who can find a virtuous woman? her price is far above rubies
  • She rises while it is yet night
  • She looketh well to the ways of her household and eateth not the bread of idleness
Well, today was a so-so day of not being back into my groove.  

The first mistake I made was actually last night--I stayed up too late (remember those night-owl ways?) I meant to get up at 6:00 a.m. again, but I was tired, so I stayed in bed till 7:00, actually a little after, leaving me just enough time to get teeth brushed, face washed, and dressed in my gym clothes before it was time to pick up my gym partner and head to the gym.  

I did a decent enough work out, stopped to visit my mom and dad for a bit afterwards, just like yesterday, came home, changed into jeans and made the bed, put away the clean dishes in the dish drain, and put the few dirty ones to soak in hot soapy water.  

And after that my day seemed to just go awry!

For one thing, my husband had been home during the day the last couple of days.  He had some days off he needed to "use-or-lose" before the end of the year, so he's been doing some vehicle maintenance, scraping outside of the house getting ready for some paint, and having a repair guy come look at our heat-pump.  

Yes, even in Louisiana we occasionally have to have heat!  

And apparently our entire (really old) heating and cooling system needs to be replaced, inside and out, which will involve moving a closet wall six inches to make room for a slightly larger inside unit. Which means taking everything out of the closet it backs up to and having construction dust everywhere for a couple of days next week, right when I need to be on top of my game, cleaning, decorating, and cooking for the holidays. 


So, yes, I got a little distracted by that news, but to be honest, I don't really know what I did the rest of the day.  

I did write a letter I needed to do, vestiges of the position I used to hold at my church.  Had to re-load the printer software on my lap-top for some reason to get it to print, but got that done and even ran next door to get my signature notarized.

But beyond that, I don't think I did a thing constructive. 

So, not-so-much in my groove today.

But tomorrow is another day.  

This post is linked to:
5 Day Clean House Challenge at Money Saving Mom

Monday, December 8, 2014

Getting Back into My Groove

  • Who can find a virtuous woman? her price is far above rubies
  • She looketh well to the ways of her household...
  • She rises while it is yet night
  • She eateth not the bread of idleness
It's been a roller coaster of a ride for me the last few months--really the last year or more has been one change after another after another.  And one thing I've discovered about myself--even when it's change that I want, and possibly need--

I don't DO change well.  

About two years ago now, my husband changed from a job where he worked away from home (as in months at a time), to a local job where he got to come home every night.  The "normal" hours were four 10-hour days, so he was gone by 6:00 a.m. and home around 6:00 p.m., and was off every Friday, as well as weekends.  It was a really big change, but we (I!) adjusted.  Then this past summer he changed to a different job for a different company, and suddenly was working five 8 hour days, which made him home two hours earlier, but gone an extra day each week.  THEN they started a big project, and he was put on nights, 12-13 shifts, 6-7 days a week!  I was exhausted just thinking about it, much less doing it!

And to add insult to injury, my schedule changed, too, after I resigned from my position at my little church.  

Talk about putting a crimp on my routine!  I had worked up an easy, do-able morning routine, last year when I was doing the Clean in 30 challenge and had kept it up pretty well.  But suddenly, there was no point in making the bed because after I got up, my honey was coming in from work and heading to bed.  And I hated rattling dishes or even cleaning the bathroom (next door to the bedroom) because it was already hard for him to shift his sleep patterns around from nights to days.

Then I started going to the gym several days a week, pretty much first thing in the morning, so I would get dressed in my gym clothes, go exercise, then come home and veg out for while, because, you know, I'd already gone and exercised and all. I'd decide to check the news, maybe have some quiet time.  You know, stuff. Seemed like the next thing I knew, it was getting time for hubby to be home from work (now that he's switched back to his regular days, that is) and I'd done nothing.

So I'm trying to work out a different, slightly adjusted routine.

For one thing, I've realized that I have to work on my bedtime and wake-up time.  If I'm going to have time to do anything else at all, I need to do my quiet time before I go to the gym, if possible.  As I've shared before, I have major night-owl tendencies, and would stay in bed until at least 8:00 a.m. if I could, but right now in this season of my life, that just isn't working.

If I'm going to have time alone for Bible and prayer, go to the gym, keep up with my house, blog, and anything and everything else, I need to tweak my routine.

Which means get one again.

So, this is what my routine looked like today so far:
  • Up at 6:00 a.m.-ish
  • Brushed teeth, washed face, dressed in my gym clothes
  • Made myself a glass of tea, then settled down with my Tehillim (book of Psalms) and read and had some prayer. 
  • Picked up my mom, who is my week-day gym partner, a little before 8:00 a.m., made it to the gym, worked out. 
  • Visited with my mom and dad afterward for a bit at their house.
  • Once home--I changed immediately into "real" clothes--something I wasn't always doing before.
  • Made the bed 
  • Swished and swiped the bathroom
  • Finished a load of clothes I'd left in the dryer the night before by turning the dryer back on, then hanging, folding, and putting away the clothes
  • Started a new load in the washer
  • Put away clean dishes in the dish drainer
  • Put the few dirty dishes from last night and this morning to soak in hot-soapy water
  • Dusted in the living room and dining room
  • Got a fresh glass of tea (hydration is good for me!)
  • Checked facebook, and started this blog post

What's next for my routine?  Change the clothes from washer to dryer, then later fold and put away laundry.  Wash the dishes in the sink. Plan dinner.

And that's probably it for me for today, housework-wise, till I cook dinner and clean the kitchen afterwards.

Edited to add: I also washed the bathroom rugs, and my honey vacuumed the accumulated hair and dust from the bathroom floor.  Made a run to the dollar store for a few things, and dropped off some bags at the ARC thrift store next door while I was at it.  Made chili beans for dinner--a vegetarian version and one with meat, to fit all of the tastes of my family, and my honey cleaned the kitchen afterwards, and made us some no bake chocolate oatmeal cookies, his specialty. He's a handy guy to have around, I have to admit!

So what kind of routine do you have these days?

This post is linked to:

Make Your Home Sing at Mom's the Word
5 Day Clean Your House Challenge at Money Saving Mom


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