September 28, 2014

Fall Decorating
For our family, this time of year is about Fall traditions.  My boys happily help choose gourds and pumpkins to decorate our home inside and out.  While I do enjoy decorating our home, the task is mostly about welcoming Fall.  I'm aware this year of not taking too much time and energy on the task of decor, because I'm much more excited about baking fall treats, updating photographs of our family,  and making memories with my boys whether on a hike, in a pile of leaves, or around a warm fire on a cool night.

I have to admit, however, that I was touched when a friend recently wrote: "I'm decorating for fall and thinking of you and your cute house! Hope you are enjoying your fall."  Honestly, I was especially grateful because she has an amazing talent for decorating and hospitality!  I was honest when I responded with the following: "I did a little decorating before my party... meaning Al was looking for something in the fall box and the boys dumped it and put a few things out around the living room.  I'm doing some deep cleaning this week, and then I think I'll do some decorating this weekend after we go to the Gays Mills apple festival."  Well, we are back from the festivities with apples, gourds, and small pumpkins. The photos at left are what we have done so far to welcome Fall to our home.

I love decorating with the beauty and bounty that God has provided.  It really reminds us to enjoy this time of Fall colors and harvest.

September 27, 2014

Fall Traditions

There are so many things that I love about Fall !  The crisp, cool air means I can keep out my capris and sandals, but I also get to bring out the sweaters and hoodies.  Of course, it's the perfect time of year for a backyard fire.  The air smells of cookouts and campfires and of crisp leaves under foot.  And the house smells of apples and cinnamon.
I love baking every month of the year, but there is something about buying apples and picking pumpkins that makes me a little more ambitious.  In October I look forward to sharing some new pumpkin recipes with you.  While I'm not freezing bushels of apples like last year, we have already been filling our freezer with bags of apples.  I'm also excited to share a variation of my traditional apple crisp that's healthier but still sooo delicious.

There would be no apple desserts without the apples though.  Last year we started a new tradition of visiting Wisconsin apple orchards.  We were joined this year and last by a number of family members from the Midwest.  The drive this morning was especially beautiful as the fog burned off while we drove through the hills.

September 5, 2014

Never Enough Time

I will openly admit that I was more emotional than I thought I'd be about my youngest starting Kindergarten.   How is it that it's already time for my baby boy to be in school all day?  Mid-August I started seeing posts and pictures of friends' children smiling brightly and heading off to school.  That's when the emotions started to set in.  That's when I publicly admitted how I was feeling.  That's when a handful of friends and family admitted that they too were in the same situation and feeling the same emotions.  What a pleasant surprise!  Thankfully, this was not the first time that I was honest and found out that I was not alone.
I will also admit that I had big plans for what I would do with all the time I would now have. 

September 3, 2014

Organizing Time: Weekly Meal Planning
Credits: #1, #2, #3, #4
This year I've been doing weekly meal planning, and I'm writing today to tell you it's well worth the effort!

So, why bother with meal planning?  It saves money and it saves time.  I'd say that is a win, win!

Our family saves money because we plan meals based on what's in season and on sale.  Also, planning ahead means we get all the food we need in one trip to the grocery store, instead of shopping multiple times a week.  Well, sometimes I go to a few stores on my errand day, depending on who has the best deals.  But, I have a list and stick to it.  

Not only does it save time to be prepared when I'm out running errands, but it saves time each night to know what we are making for meals and to know we have all the necessary ingredients.  I don't miss the talks a half an hour before supper is supposed to be ready, when everyone is hungry, and we're trying to decide who wants to eat what only to find out we don't have what we need anyway!

Everyone will have their own preference as too how much they want to plan ahead.  Simply do a Pinterest search for "weekly meal plan" to find a wide variety of meal planning methods, menus, and free printables.  I have included some of my favorites at left.  {Click the number below in the "Credits" caption to link to the website for each form.}

Of course, I couldn't just decide right away which form would fit our family... It was a process.  I have seen a variety of ideas similar to #1 and just love them.  Talk about cute and practical! {Some of them even listed the recipe or ingredients on the back of each meal card.}  But, I had to be honest about whether I would actually take the time to get this system all together... Not at this stage in our busy life.  Many people prefer a simple sheet with one column on the left for daily supper ideas and one column on the right for a grocery list {see #2}.  I did know that I wanted to plan for more than just supper, at least some days of the week.  I liked the design of #3 {because it's pretty} and it serves the purpose just described, but I think you could also use it to list more than one meal for each day down the right column.  In the end though, I figured that we would need something more like #4.  I did use this format for a little while.

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