Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cleaning and Organizing

I am not sure how much more cleaning out and organizing I can do!  I am nowhere near the end of my summer list, but I am running out of steam.  So far, this is what I have accomplished since we returned from the beach (July 21).

  • Completely cleaned out and reorganized my schoolroom.  I also rearranged some of the furniture.  I cleaned out drawers and closets that I have not touched since we moved in over seven years ago.  This job took me over 30 hours!
  • Cleaned out the kitchen junk drawer.
  • Cleaned out a cabinet area underneath my kitchen bookshelves.  These cabinets held my overflow of cookbooks, office supplies, some Christmas dishes, pet supplies, and lots and lots of Sam's and Clay's miscellaneous stuff.
  • Cleaned out the computer desk in the kitchen.  I moved all of my office supplies and files to this desk.
  • Created a charging center on the counter of the first cabinet I mentioned.  This is a catch-all area for keys, change, phones, etc.
  • Cleaned out my six filing drawers in the basement.  I had a pile of papers at least a foot tall that needed filing, so while I was at it, I looked through and cleaned out every single file folder!
  • I have already mentioned the following completed jobs, but I like to look at the entire list:
  • Cleaned out Leah's room, including all of her drawers, shelves, and closet.
  • Helped the girls clean out their bathroom.  I also gave it a good scrubbing while I was in there.
  • Cleaned out, rearranged and purged my children's bookshelves/desks upstairs.  This unit covers an entire wall, and is divided into four sections.  Sam was not born when we built this house, and this is one of a couple of things that I planned and had built for four children!  Olivia is going to do her schoolwork at her black desk, so I had to clear a shelf for her schoolbooks.
If I am motivated to work some more tomorrow, I plan to unload the full clothes basket of stuff that I collected in my kitchen that belongs in the basement.  I would also like to clean out a couple of my kitchen cabinets.  Most of my kitchen is in pretty good order, but I do have some work in there. I feel like I am doing a lot of shuffling things around.  The final resting place for many items is my storage room in my basement.  This also serves as my crafting/sewing/gift wrapping area, so when I am all through with the rest of my house I will have to do a final clean up of this room so I can use it.

Our back to school date is August 20.  If I can keep up my momentum, I think I can finish all of my summer list plus plan and organize my school material before that day.

How is your summer list going?
Are you doing major cleaning out/reorganizing at your house?
Are you ready for the new school year?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Running This Week

I ran the Nightcrawler 5K with Sam Friday night, and it was hot!  We walked a good bit, and we finished in 47 minutes, 41 seconds!  I think Sam will be taking a break from 5Ks for a while.

This morning I began my running week with a 6 mile run with Leanna.  It was great to be outside running with a friend.  I have a goal of 20 miles this week.  I plan to do two 6 mile runs and two 4 mile runs.

I have been doing MAJOR cleaning out and reorganizing in my house.  I began with Leah's room, and we also cleaned out the girls' bathroom and the set of bookcases/desks that are upstairs.  Next I moved to my schoolroom.  I have worked in there for 3 days, and I hope to finish today.  I have been taking pictures all along, and when I am completely done, I will share the before and after photos.

Also on today's list is to bake bread and clean out my kitchen office area. My goal for this week is to do as much as possible on my summer list.  I hope I have a good report to give by Saturday night!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Back to Running and Update 11

If you are my friend on Daily Mile, or if you are a real life friend that talks to me frequently, you will know that I have not run very much lately.  In fact, I have run only 4 miles in two weeks!  I have been in sort a slump.  I built up to an 18 mile week, and I have done two long runs of 7 miles each, but that is as far as I have gotten.

The main reason I had basically stopped running was because I have had increasing discomfort at my mastectomy site, particularly on the side where the lymph nodes were removed.  I could tell that the soreness was increased after running, so I was afraid that maybe I was hurting something.  Even though back in May my doctor cleared me for running as much as I wanted to do.  Also, I began to dread having to rest for 4-6 weeks after another upcoming surgery, so I just adopted the attitude of why run now, just to have to rest and start over again.

Yesterday I had an appointment with my kind doctor, and he reassured me that all was well. He said that my soreness, aches, and pains were a normal part of the reconstruction process, and for me not to worry.  He encouraged me to run as much as I wanted to.  To build up as many miles as I could before my next surgery.  He is well aware that I have a marathon planned for January, and he is working with me.  I still don't have a surgery date, but he said that we would maybe plan it when I go back to see him in six weeks.  I am finding out more and more that the type of reconstruction that I am having takes a long time.  But that's ok!

So, tonight I am getting back to running!  Our whole family, all seven of us, is signed up to run the Nightcrawler 5K.  I plan to run with Leah and Sam, but at least I will be running.  I also plan to run again tomorrow, and then to have a full week of running 20 miles next week.  This race is especially meaningful to me, because it benefits Lids for Lisa and the Women First Resource Center---both of these organizations provide support for breast cancer patients and survivors.

Happy Running!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My New Niece!

Leah, holding her newest cousin--
Millie Janalee Johnson

It is with great joy that I send you to Russ and Megan's blog to read all about the new member of their family!  She is just precious, and the answer to many, many prayers!  

"For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him."  1 Samuel 1:27

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Our Seaside Vacation

We spent all last week in Seaside, Florida, one of my favorite places.  I love the sound and smell of the ocean.  I enjoy so much sitting on the edge of the water with my feet in the waves and reading a book.  Seaside is such a neat little town.  It did seem a little bit busier and more crowded this year, but I still love that place.  

This is the one vacation that we take each year where I truly relax.  I wash clothes each day, and I prepare a simple breakfast and lunch for my family, but other than that, I am on vacation.  I always choose a book to read for my beach week, and this year I chose The Count of Monte Cristo.  I did not finish it.  I read for many, many hours, but this book is 1200 pages long!  I did get about half of it read.

I also put a new game on my iPad.....for the children....but I must admit that I played Where's My Perry? a good bit too!

Jimmy's sister and her family (Jenny, Jeff, Will and his fiance' Elle, Seth, and Grace) joined us. Jimmy's brother Russ and his wife Megan were supposed to come to Seaside too, but at the last minute, they were unable to come.  We really missed them!

Here are some pictures from the week.  They are in no particular order, and I am not really sure how to put them in chronological order.

 Eating supper one night at The Shrimp Shack.  As recommended by Kelly, we all ate the royal red shrimp.

 Sam and Clay digging in the sand.

 Reading my book--I was on about page 400 at this point.

 Sam and Clay--still digging in the sand.

 Olivia, Julie, and Clay

 Cousins, eating supper at Pickles

 The Mansel Family

 The Mansel Children

 Our family

 Jenny and Jeff

 Elle and Will

 Clay and Sam
Leaving the beach at 8:00 AM on the morning we left.

 Sam and Clay, walking back to our beach house for the last time.

 the view from the tower

 Clay, Jimmy, and Julie--ready for an early morning run.

 Olivia--reading.  All of us girls did a good bit of reading on this vacation.

 We took 6 bicycles.  The children and Jimmy enjoyed riding around Seaside, and they even went to the grocery store a few times for me on their bikes.

 Sam and Clay

 The Mansel Family--enjoying their dinner one night.

 Julie, reading too.

 We took lots of pictures in our matching shirts.

 more pictures

 and more pictures

 Sam in a tree.
Sam lost one of his top teeth right before we left, and the other one on the first day we were there.  


 Olivia and Julie

One last picture---the children playing around on the beach.

Well, now we are home, and the vacation is over!  I have been washing clothes and unpacking all day.  I also had to go to the grocery store and make bread.  

I still plan to finish my book!  In fact, I read until almost 1:00 AM this morning.  The Count of Monte Cristo is going to be one of my all time favorite books, I can already tell!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Avocado Hummus

This recipe is from my cousin-in-law Leanna.  I think she actually got the recipe from another cousin, Stacee.  Anyway, it is delicious, and I make it every few days.  I added the tomato to the recipe, and I serve it with pita chips.

Avocado Hummus

2 cans chickpeas (sometimes called garbanzo beans), drained--but save a little bit of the juice to add to the hummus if it seems dry
2 avocados
1/3 of an onion
juice of 1 lime
1 Tbs. garlic (the kind that is chopped and in a jar)
1 medium tomato, quartered
2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt, or more to taste

Cut the avocado in half, remove seed, and scoop the flesh into the chopper.  Add all other ingredients, and blend in chopper until smooth.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Snaggle Toothed Sam

Can you tell?  His top two teeth are now missing!  I have been taking lots of pictures of Sam's sweet smile.  I love the snaggle toothed look!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Homeschool Room Ideas?

I have chosen my starting date for the upcoming school year (and no, we are NOT through reading our Sonlight books yet, but we will be very soon!).

August 20th.

My list of things I want to accomplish both home and homeschool related is ever growing.  I sometimes ponder the idea of schooling year round, but then I remember how invigorating an extended summer break can be.  Even if it is for only 4-5 weeks, and even if we are still reading the previous year's read alouds.  (I read aloud to my children all year long, whether we are officially doing school or not). I need that mental break between the ending of one year's curriculum and beginning the next.

So, during this year's short break I want to re-do my schoolroom.  I am not planning on repainting or anything major like that, but just a small re-do.  I would like to  rearrange the furniture.  I definitely need to clean out my closets.  I have a "paper" cabinet where I keep all of our paper and various notebooks and school supplies.  I also have a small closet that is half full of Fisher Price Little People.  It is time to pack up the Little People and use that space for other things.  And then there is my large walk in closet with floor to ceiling shelves.  I think that half of the stuff on those shelves could be stored too.  Since my youngest is now 6, a lot of the items in that closet are items that he has outgrown.  Storing them would give me more room for supplies and books that we are currently using.

I have been looking online a little bit for inspiration and ideas.  Do you have pictures of your schoolroom or learning space?  Do you have some neat ideas for storage and organization of school supplies and books?

If so, please consider leaving a comment with a link to your great ideas or ideas that you have found on other websites that you would like to share.

I welcome your suggestions!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Julie's 15th Birthday

We began celebrating Julie's birthday when she arrived home from camp at 5:10 PM.  While Jimmy was picking up the girls, I busily baked cupcakes (both chocolate and vanilla), set the birthday table, and wrapped all of her gifts.  I was placing the last gift in front of the fireplace when they drove up the driveway!

 Julie with her gifts

The first thing we did was to watch Julie open her gifts.

Jimmy gave her a new Garmin running watch with a heart rate monitor.

 This is the letter opener that Clay made for Julie.

And my gift for Julie---an apron!  Julie is always helping me in the kitchen, and she frequently borrows one of my aprons.  I wanted to make one that was just for her!  I finished it Thursday morning--the day of her birthday and the day she was coming home from camp.

 Julie's colorful apron

Friday night, Julie had a Fabulous Fiesta for her 15th birthday.  She invited several of her friends over for a Mexican themed supper and then an outdoor movie in our backyard.  Since I had been so busy with VBS and sewing, I had not had any time to tidy up my basement (where the girls would be sleeping) or decorate for the party.  Thankfully my dear friend Heather came to the rescue!  She brought her girls a couple of hours early, and while I finished the cooking, she cleaned the basement (complete with vacuuming and cleaning the bathroom) and then decorated for the fiesta.  She even brought me a Mexican dress to wear!

 The girls (and me in the while Mexican dress!) posing in front of the movie screen.

Sam, Leah, and the other girls entertained us by singing in the microphone that came with the sound system of the (rented) movie system.

 This is a picture of the table from our family celebration.

 The cupcakes--I made these for both our family celebration and the fiesta.

I have certainly learned my lesson when it comes to making fancy birthday cakes!  However, Olivia and Julie found this cake on Pinterest, and Olivia wanted to make it for Julie for her birthday.  A labor of love!

The fabulous fruit cake!

The girls (and Clay and Sam) enjoyed their dinner, cupcakes, fruit cake, and the movie, National Treasure.  They finally went to sleep, and I woke them up at 7:00 AM to take them to the city park for a run!  Then we came home and Julie made homemade blueberry pancakes for everyone.

I think Julie had a nice celebration!  I certainly enjoyed trying to make the days special for her.  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Happy Birthday Julie!

Today is Julie's 15th birthday.  She was born just after midnight, and so last night at midnight all the girls in her bunkhouse at camp sang "Happy Birthday" to her.

Jimmy is going to pick up both girls from camp this afternoon.  We are in the middle of our VBS week, and it is going wonderfully!  Our theme is Proverbs, and the children seem to be learning a lot of God's Word.

While Jimmy is gone to get the girls, I plan to put the finishing touches on Julie's family birthday celebration.  I finished the gift I was making for her this morning!  I still need to buy a couple of more things, make a cake, wrap her gifts, and decorate the table.  I plan to have it all done by 5:00 when they arrive home.

We are all so excited!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Canning Salsa

This is the recipe I used, but I halved it.  Well, I almost halved it!  I forgot to half the jalapenos!  Thankfully, it is not too hot! Also, I did not wear gloves when chopping the jalapenos--big mistake!  Trust me!  Wear gloves!

30 tomatoes peeled and chopped
                                                    2 green bell peppers
2 red bell peppers
10 cups chopped onions
10 cloves garlic 
1 cup chopped jalapenos
1/2-3/4 cup sugar
2 cups vinegar
8 teaspoons pickling salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 large cans tomato paste

Step 1:
  • Gather all supplies and ingredients.  
  • Put your jars in the dishwasher and choose your sanitize setting.
  • Put your lids and rings in a pan of water.  You will bring these to a boil later when you are almost ready to actually put the cooked salsa in the prepared jars.
  • Remember:  hot salsa, hot jars, hot lids
 my pint jars

 the lids and rings in the pan of water...waiting to be heated

 the tomatoes---all from Julie's garden

Step 2:
  • Bring a very large pot of water to boiling.  I use my canning pot for this.
  • Core tomatoes and have them in a bowl, ready to dump into the boiling water.
  • Prepare a dishpan or other large bowl full of ice water.
  • While water is coming to a boil, chop the onions, peppers, and jalapenos.
  • Mix all chopped ingredients and everything else except tomatoes in a large pot. 
  • When water boils, put the tomatoes in, and let them boil for 2-3 minutes or until the skin begins to crack.
  • Use a slotted spoon to remove tomatoes from boiling water and place them in the ice water.
  • Let them cool a minute, and then slip the skins off.  Put the peeled tomatoes into another pot. 
  • Using your clean hands, squish the tomatoes.  You may have to use a knife of kitchen scissors to chop them into small pieces.
  • Add the tomatoes to the pot of other ingredients.  
  • Bring the salsa to a boil, and simmer, stirring often for at least 30 minutes but up to an hour or longer--until desired thickness is achieved.
Step 3:
  • Toward the end of the salsa cooking, bring your lids and rings to a boil.  Prepare canner according to instructions.
  • Using a canning funnel, ladle the salsa into your hot jars (remember, they are hot from being washed and sanitized in your dishwasher).
  • Carefully wipe off the top of each jar.
  • Use tongs to remove the lids and rings from the boiling water and place a lid and screw on a ring on each jar.
  • Process the jars in your water bath canner.  Process 35 minutes for pints.
  • Place jars on a dishtowel on the kitchen counter to cool.
  • You should hear each lid suction down to seal.  If one does not seal, just eat that salsa right now.
Step 4:
  • Proudly display your homemade canned salsa!