Friday, November 24, 2017

Advent and Christmas Freebies For You

This week I've been gathering my planning supplies and looking forward into December. I like to take this Advent season and make it a time to remember. Slow down, do small things with my family that will create memories for them to carry into their adult lives, most importantly, prepare our hearts to celebrate the birth of our Saviour.

I am keeping all my plans together in a tabbed manila folder (which lives in the front of my FCS). I created a festive cover that I have stuck on the outside of my folder.

Click Here to Download

Inside, I have printed off a few festive pages to write down all my plans. When you download this file you will see that there are two different designs.

And finally, I have created this fun little plan of activities to try and do over the Advent season. It all kicks off this Sunday which is Stir Up Sunday. This, of course, is the time where you gather family or friends (or both) to make the Christmas pudding. Everyone gets a turn to stir the pudding mixture and make a wish. BBC Good Food has some great recipes for Stir Up Sunday, hop over and take a peek.

Well lovelies, I hope you enjoy these little printables and that they add a little festive cheer to your Christmas planning. Wishing you all a wonderful weekend and a memory-making Stir Up Sunday.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Throwback Thursday - Personal Mumblings on Creative Simplicity

Todays 'Throwback Thursday' Post is all about simplicity and was first posted in July 2012. It is comforting to see that I don't change much 😆. Sometimes I feel like life is rushing by and I am hanging onto its coattails for dear life, not knowing who or what I am. But reading some of these past posts I realise that not much has changed in my thoughts and in who I am and that, as I said, is comforting. Enjoy this past post...

I don't know about you, but I have a tendency to let my life get rather complicated. I over-think, over-plan and end up feeling over-whelmed! The important things are forgotten and the unimportant given way more time than is their due!

I usually find that this creeps up on me if I do not pay a little attention to purposefully seeking simplicity. It seems so silly - isn't striving to live a simple and uncomplicated life supposed to be - well, simple? It appears not.

For me, simplicity is linked with frugality and creativity. Simplicity does not mean less work and more time but most often more work and time better spent. It means making the most of my resources, creating a beautiful home utilising my talents and by learning new crafts. It means being purposeful, thinking carefully about where and on what I spend my time. It's about knowing where I am going and mapping out a way to get there.

Knowing where you are going really is about knowing yourself. What things are important to you, what things stir your heart. I have found that my Pinterest boards have really helped me to see what inspires me in my homemaking. Little things that help me to create the home atmosphere that tells my family, 'I love you', 'this is where you are safe, loved, and treasured'. Little touches that would convey to friends and family how much I care. This could be simply the way I gift wrap a gift - it lets the receiver know that, 'you're special and I want you to know that.' Lots of teeny tiny simple ways to love others. Ways that need not cost a fortune. Simple, uncluttered, and thoughtful ways to reach out to all who cross my path.

The Apprentice House at Quarry Bank Mill
I mentioned in yesterdays post that we had visited a National trust property over the weekend. There were two areas that appealed to me the most and stirred my heart. The first was the 'Apprentice House' gardens. These gardens were a necessity for most people in the 18th century. It provided not only their fruit and veg but also herbs for treating medical issues as well as plants to make natural dyes. It gave me great peace, inspiration and pleasure strolling through the neatly laid out garden. Stepping out of the kitchen garden we entered the orchard. The tree's branches were laden with fruit, promising a great harvest later on in the year. Rambling over the wooden fences, the blackberries and raspberries were ripe for the picking. Foxgloves grew intermittently,  added to the happy hodgepodge. An overwhelming sense of peace engulfed me. This is what makes me happy. Simple pleasures. Gathering from the hedgerows, preserving, cooking in my kitchen, making use of natures bounty throughout the seasons.

The other thing that appealed was the traditional art of spinning. This was a way of life for most people before the Industrial Revolution.  Gathering the lost arts of home-keeping makes me happy. Learning HOW to preserve, make cheese, soap, homemade cleaners and dyes, spinning, sewing - some of these arts I have gathered, many my heart still yearns to learn.

Life seems to go through seasons. In the fast-paced world in which we live, it is easy to stop doing the things that make us happy. It is easy to get swept up in empty busyness, neglecting those simple things that bring peace and fulfilment to our lives. Not only do the things I've mentioned bring peace and fulfilment to my life, but they bring along skills that are valuable and are worthy of being passed on to the next generation. Skills are for the most part forgotten in today's modern world. In times of power outages, I have realised how reliant the world and its inhabitants are on modern conveniences. I for one do not want to be so reliant on the services and products that the modern world offers. I want to be equipped for the unforeseen possibilities that life could throw at me. I want to be productive, creative, and resourceful.

I have such admiration for the woman of the past. Their lives could not be described as easy, as lives of leisure. They were lives of hard work, they were lives that were very productive -they had to be. Today's world seems to tell us that hard work is NOT something to strive for - that it is bad. That we should all be seeking a life of idleness, lives that pander to our wants, lives of endless frivolous days. This ridiculous notion is totally contrary to what the Word has to say regarding the conduct of our lives. Idleness is NOT something to aspire to. The woman of Proverbs 31 is portrayed as a hard working woman. She is up early, she is an excellent steward of her resources. She is intelligent, works hard and makes good investments. She clothes her family with her own hands, she is admired by her husband and called blessed by her children. What a beautiful picture!

Today (5 years ago)...

Another area in my life as a wife, homemaker and homeschool mom that I feel inspired to apply a bit of simple creative frugality to is our homeschooling. It is so easy to buy copious amounts of curriculum for our children, but I am discovering that there is a wealth of free or reasonably prices resources out there. This is the time of year where a lot of us home educating moms are planning out a new school year. I am determined that this year I am going to source resources that support our homeschool philosophy and are 'environmentally friendly' to my budget - but I think a separate post on this is in order 😄

Moms Household Planner

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Throwback Thursday - Keeping Home and Keeping Hearts

Welcome to another 'Throwback Thursday' post. I found this post from February 2012 quite interesting because this is exactly how I still operate. I still find myself having to do a life stock-take and it is still brought on by that same 'just-not-quite-right' feeling.

I've been going through this 'stock-taking' process for the last two months now, re-jigging things, re-thinking, pondering on certain things. It's ironic that I find myself in a similar life event 5 years down the line, only this house move was brought on by a bit of 'stock taking'.

I still use 'Moms Toolbelt' as my organisation tool 5 years later so I guess it has proved to be a good investment of £8 at the time. Anyhoo, without further ado, a peek into my life one February day 5 years ago...

'Mrs Tittlemouse was a terribly tidy particular little mouse, always sweeping and dusting the soft sandy floors.' - The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse - Beatrix Potter

I find that I have to do a little 'stock-taking' in my life every so often. You know, what's working, what's not, what needs to change - that sort of thing. I don't really have a 'set time' that this happens, usually, I start to feel that things are not sitting quite right. I feel a little out of my depth, uncomfortable and needing to address that 'something' that is making me feel that way. The past few months have been quite tough - I'm not sure why as life is generally good. It could be a bad case of the winter 'blah's' on top of the second move in a short period - who knows, but 2011 certainly brought A LOT of changes in our lives - good changes - but changes none the less.

So it seems that 'stock take' time is once again scratching at the door, demanding my attention and action. I pondered over what it was that was missing and I realised that it was the 'good' habits that I have lost by the wayside of change. It is quite amazing how a move - even a small local move - can disrupt the best-laid structures in your life. 

One of the things that was almost 'gospel' in my life, was the efficient running of my home. Those closest to me will attest to the fact that I was a monthly meal planner. Meals were diligently recorded on a monthly calendar for all the family to see. My shopping lists were born out of this meal plan which helped me to be a good steward of the housekeeping budget. Most days ran like clockwork and when they did not I was blessed with not having to think about what to feed my family! (This BTW is really a huge relief in my life. I absolutely hate living from meal to meal - always thinking of the next thing to nourish my family - life has to be about more than about constantly thinking about food!) My home ran on the railway tracks of habit - Wednesday was always bed linen day, Monday and Friday vacuum and mop day, Tuesday was furniture polish day etc...

Somehow, all that got set aside in the higgildy-piggildy of moving, settling down and life in general. It was only in the last two weeks that I realised that the comfort and peace that comes from not having to expend so much energy on thinking of these things were missing. My home seemed to be getting on top of me. Thinking about food constantly and often times finding that the cupboards were missing an ingredient right at crunch time began to take its toll on my patience.

About a week ago, I determined that the time had come to oust the bad habit of -well laziness- and get cracking on putting back the things that have helped me run my home efficiently. I decided to treat myself to 'Moms Toolbelt', a neat tool that I have been drooling and umming and ahhing over for ages now. Sale

 It did not cost the earth - only around £8.00 - for unlimited access to hundreds of seasonal appropriate forms to help me keep track of all, there is to running a home, a homeschool, a life. I love pretty, so these pretty forms were just the encouragement I needed -lol. I have not yet bought my fancy presentation binder, but I figured if I waited to have it 'just right' my home would continue to feel to be in a state of 'disarray'. No, I felt an URGENT need to get right on top of things. I found a small binder that is currently doing the job. I printed out the forms I needed most - meal planners, housework schedules and monthly calendars and got right on it. It felt good to set in stone some of my regular oldies. (I can be a bit funny that way - once it has been written down, then I am able to release the thought lol). Now all I do is look at the day and the tasks set and tick them off the list. Easy Peasy!

My Heart's at Home
I think the next area that is requiring my attention is what and how we homeschool. Our days seem SO looooong

Anyhoo, I think that's enough mumblings from me tonight. I hear the kettle calling my name! Until another day dear friends...

Moms Household Planner