Category Archives: Life


My little Anna turned 3!

My little Anna turned 3!

Anna turned 3 and her great grandfather turned 99!

Anna turned 3 and her great grandfather turned 99!

So this working mom thing really kicked me in the tushy more than I thought it would. All of a sudden I took a six month blogging break. I really thought I would be able to keep up the blog, but obviously that wasn’t the case. Sorry to leave you wondering. One thing I didn’t mention before is that I was taking 2 classes  on top of going back to work. Woooeeee. That was crazy.

I want to thank those of you who have been still checking in on me and sending me nice comments and emails. Even though I have been a stinker at responding, I have read them all and they mean a lot.

I had to make a decision about a month ago to either let the blog end for good or keep it going. Well, you can see that I’m still here. Yay!

One thing I’m realizing is that I might have to make myself let go of my perfectionistic procrastination. Anyone else have that? If things can’t be “perfect” (or as perfect as I can get them), then I put it off until I think I can make it perfect-enough to be worth doing. So silly.

And it seems really weird to me that I’m trying to be perfect about showing you what a mess I am. Well, I am trying to show that I can clean up, too, I suppose.

So I’m going to try to get going here again. I’m still working, but my classes are finished, so I think that will help. I might not have all of the “perfect” before and after shots, but something is better than nothing, right?

I’ve missed you and I’m glad to be back!


Filed under Blogging, Life

Working Mom

Hi everyone! I’ve missed you! Sorry I’ve been kind of absent lately.

There’s been a lot going on around here, and I wanted to fill you in a little. I let you know a while back that my husband is unemployed right now. Well, we made the decision that it would be best for our family for me to go back to work for this year.

So after 8 years of mostly being a stay at home mom, I’m back to working outside the home. It’s exciting and scary and sometimes overwhelming.

The job is a part time teaching job, which seems perfect for just getting back into working. And it’s helping me with my goal to become a morning person again! No choice there.

I actually have a couple of other very part time jobs, too. One of them involves cleaning.

I know. Me and cleaning. Ha ha ha.

So how about the blog? I’m still planning to get a blog post up once a week here. I hope I can do it! I actually already have at least a handful of recent projects to tell you about. And I have 66 posts in my drafts folder. Have I mentioned before that I have a hard time finishing things?

Oh, and the big toy purge? We really need to finish that one! I have some extra motivation to do it, too, because:

1. Someone is coming to the house soon who has never been here before.

2. Soon after that, my mother-in-law is coming for a visit.

These things are motivating to me!

And by the way, my desk at school is clean and clear. My desk at home is not-so-much.

The kitchen island has been beautiful, thanks to my man, Mr. RSS.


Filed under Life

Tips on how to be prepared for a power outage

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that we lost our power for 4 days. Not so fun, and very unexpected. What was supposed to be a thunderstorm, turned into a derecho storm. The strong winds brought down a lot of trees and power lines in our area.

If you’ve been a reader here for a while, you may remember that in the fall we lost power for 5 days from a hurricane. Most of the time though, if we lose power, it’s back on within 24 hours.

Yvonne commented on my Facebook post that she would love to hear strategies for coping with these situations. We have learned a lot about dealing with power outages over the past several years, so I thought I would pass along some tips. Being as prepared as you can be helps a lot. Some of these are in the obvious category, but I’ll include them anyway.

Also, when our power goes out, we also lose our running water from our well, so I’ve included a few tips related to this issue as well.

1. Fill old juice/soda bottles with water, and then keep them in the freezer.

This first tip is one from my mom. I’m putting it first because I want to make sure I remember to do this! I think it would have really helped us. It’s like having your own ice blocks handy. These can also be moved to a cooler, if needed.

2. Flashlights

Have at least one per floor/living area or per person. We also have a worklight just like this Cooper Lighting LED120 35 LED Rechargeable Worklight (see the picture at the top of the post). It can act as a regular flashlight or act as an area light. It has a magnet clip and stays on the side of our refrigerator until we need it.

3. Save the power outage reporting phone number for your power company in your cell phone.

This makes it easy to report the outage quickly and get outage updates.

4. Have at least one cooler to help keep important food cold, or to transport food to another location.

5. Generator

If you can afford one and have the space, this would be great to have. We don’t have one, but several of our neighbors do. We do have an extra-long outdoor extension cord and have plugged our sump pump into a kind neighbor’s generator to keep our basement from flooding.

6. Have extra batteries for flashlights and radios.

We also have this Black & Decker VEC026BD Electromate 400 Jump-Starter with Built-In Air Compressor. It’s basically a portable battery pack that we mostly use for my husband’s CPAP machine  (for sleep apnea), but it is also great for charging cell phones and laptop computers. It will only last us about one night, though, without needing to be recharged.

7. Grill (and propane tanks/charcoal)

Cook your food before it goes to waste!

8. Extra gas for cars (or don’t let cars be on empty)

When the power outage is widespread, like it was for us this time, getting gasoline can be a challenge! Most gas stations were closed in our area, so the few that were open had crazy lines and wait times, and were running out of gas themselves.

9. Have canned food and can opener on hand

10. A safe heat source

We don’t usually lose our power in the winter, but when we do, I’m glad we have a wood burning fireplace.

11. Find a friend or family member with power!

When we lost our power in the fall, the weather was nice, so we stuck it out here at the house for 4 of the 5 days before staying at a friend’s house. We did catch a shower and recharge batteries/cell phones at another friend’s house before that. This time around, we were having hot, hot, 100 degree weather, so after the first day, we stayed with some out of town friends, plus one night at my parent’s house after they got their power back. We feel very blessed to have wonderful friends and family!

Losing running water due to power outage

1. Fill the tub with water

When I know a bad storm is coming and we might lose power, I start filling the tub. This water can be used to manually flush the toilets.

2. Keep extra water on hand

There are lots of recommendations about how much to keep. We usually only keep about 2 gallons, plus I fill some other containers when I know a bad storm is coming. Edit: When we know a really bad storm is coming, we store more water (10+ gallons).

3. Paper plates, napkins, cups, plastic forks/spoons, etc.

It’s hard to do lots of dishes when you don’t have running water.

4. Have baby wipes, antibacterial hand wipes, and hand sanitizer available.

Especially in the bathroom!

I’m not an expert on this topic. I’m just sharing what I’ve learned from experience. Do you lose your power very often? Do you have any tips to share?

This post contains affiliate links.


Filed under How To, Life

Our Summer Bucket List

Hooray for summer! Here’s a list I put together of some things we want to do before summer is over. I asked everyone in the family to give ideas.

Go to the beach

Make a sandcastle

Swim in a creek, river, lake, and pool

Picnic at the park

Make smoothies

Make homemade popsicles (with the molds I just picked up from Freecycle!)

Plant some veggies and herbs with the kids

Library time, with special events and the Summer Reading Club

Make summer journals

Lots of grilling: burgers, hot dogs, chicken, veggies, pizza…

Run through the sprinkler

Declutter something every week (How did this get in here?!)

Make s’mores

Go on a road trip

Spend time with family and friends

Make a summer activity jar

Visit a museum, farm, and/or zoo

Participate in Vacation Bible School

Go fishing

Go to the farmer’s market

Make lemonade

Go to a free concert in the park

Stay on top of free family events around town

What are some activities you are planning for the summer?


Filed under Kids, Life, Simple Fun

Checking In

Hi. I’m swamped. How are you?

May is just a crazy month for us. I know I’m not the only one, right? It’s the end of school projects and activities, birthdays (Lots of that going on around here!), Anniversaries (Happy 11 years for us!), Mother’s Day, and what about all the regular stuff?


Speaking of Mother’s Day, this is one of the cards I received.


I’m taking it one day at a time here, and I’m trying to stick to what’s really important. So, no menu plan post, but I do have enough of a plan scribbled on paper to survive the week.

I actually decluttered my plastic food storage container cabinet last week! I have pictures to prove it, too. Maybe I’ll be able to share those with you next week.

OK, here’s a before picture just for fun.

I read 2 great posts on other blogs yesterday that I want to share with you!

*Want to Simplify? Start Here. (Small Notebook)

Great advice here, and it made me think of this post I did a while back: Where to start decluttering? 7 questions to help you (and me) figure it out.

*How to Overcome Burnout and Get Back on a Routine (Part 3) (Money Saving Mom)

I so appreciated this post. I think you will love it, too! Seriously. Read it.

Are you swamped right now or cool as a cucumber?


Filed under Life, Priorities

Another Reason to Simplify: Unemployment

Way back at the start of this blog, I listed 5 Reasons why I want to simplify. Well, here’s another one: Unemployment. I debated for quite a while about whether I should mention it here on the blog or not, but I have been realizing lately just how relevant it is to the topics here. Plus, I feel like you guys are my friends, and I just feel like letting you know.

Mr. RSS has been unemployed for several months now, and this has certainly caused us to make more moves towards simplifying.

-We aren’t buying a lot of unnecessary things.

-We aren’t going to extra events that cost money, unless it is free or someone else is treating us

-We cancelled cable TV

-We cancelled our home phone (This was actually one of the hardest things for me.)

-We are getting rid of things by selling them. In some ways, this actually slows down the process of getting rid of things, because this is more complicated than just bringing them to Goodwill. Some things will still be donated, though. I’m trying to post at least one thing for sale each week. Last week I posted 2 things on Craigslist. They haven’t sold. I think I’m going to try eBay and see what happens there.

-I am trying to simplify meals and make more frugal meals.

There are some things related to unemployment that are not really simplifying, too.

-We are both trying to bring in some income in various ways, so that can be a little crazy with schedules and such.

-Stress/anxiety/discouragement – It’s there all right. The good thing about this is that it gives us opportunities to grow in faith. Here are a few Bible verses I remind myself of often (maybe not often enough!)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:6-9

I also just want to say that we have been so blessed on this journey. God has provided for us and encouraged us in so many different ways and through so many different people. Perhaps I will write more about that another time. And I will keep you posted on the job situation, too.

Have you ever dealt with unemployment?


Filed under Life

A Belated Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! A little late, yes, but that’s just where I am right now. I still want to wish you a merry Christmas! I actually like it when I get Christmas cards in the mail after Christmas. It helps me to know that I’m not the only one who doesn’t have it all together and it makes the Christmas season last longer! Here are some pictures of Christmas around our house.

Gabe and Daddy made this gingerbread house at school. The top of an orange carton is in there as a base.

Gingerbread cookies and silly faces. Find the gingerbread snowman named “Mr. Bones.”

Our Christmas tree.


Lots of hang out and play time. Lots of PJ time, too. I loved this idea from Small Notebook to put Christmas books under the tree leading up to Christmas. I love getting Christmas books from the library.

Simple centerpiece with pine cones the kids collected while on a walk.

Making Daddy’s favorite Christmas cookie: Cranberry Cookies.


Making sugar cookies! We still haven’t decorated these, but I’m not giving up hope that it will happen this week.

Miss Anna turned 2! How does that happen? She’s trying to make her fingers show “2” here…

I dug out a few things  to make the table special.

Real fun. Real life. Real mess. Really need to clean this up!

Our celebration isn’t done yet. We’ll be celebrating Christmas with extended family on Sunday. More fun, more mess, but not at my house! I’m looking forward to more family time and traditions like my dad reading the Christmas story from the Bible.

We will also celebrate my grandfather’s 98th birthday! He still drives himself to the gym 5 days a week. He’s a blessing to us in many ways.

Merry Christmas!


Filed under Life, Simple Fun

2 Super Simple Thankful Activities

Here in the USA we are celebrating Thanksgiving. I thought I would share a couple of very simple (and fun) ways to incorporate thankfulness on this day or really any day would work! So, Happy Thanksgiving!

This first one is a tradition from my husband’s family. It’s perfect to do while you are sitting around the Thanksgiving table.

Kernels of Thanks

1. Pass around a bowl or basket of popcorn kernels (unpopped), and ask everyone to take a small handful.

2. Each person takes a turn and shares one thing they are thankful for for each kernel they have.

Of course, if you don’t have popcorn kernels, you can use something else to pass around.

Thanksgiving 2010

I’m Thankful Game

This idea came from a book we’ve been reading called My ABC Bible Verses: Hiding God’s Word in Little Hearts by Susan Hunt. The verse for letter U is “Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks” Psalm 75:1, and in the story for that verse, the family plays this little game.

Each person takes a turn giving a clue about something they are thankful for, and the others try to guess what it is. We played this with the kids, and it was really fun! Great for in the car, too!


With all of these thankful thoughts, I thought I would share my simple thankful list for today:

A warm home and warm socks

A husband who loves me, encourages me, and is a great father to our children

Chai tea and pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

Ella with her sweet and helpful spirit

Gabe with his hugs and inquisitive nature

Anna with her exuberance and toddler speak

Jesus: I’m lost without Him

You! Thanks for reading 🙂

Do you have any activities or traditions for sharing thankfulness?

Disclosure: The book link in this post is an affiliate link, so if you click on it and buy anything at Amazon, your price stays the same, but I get a small percentage of the purchase price. Same goes for the Amazon ad in the sidebar. Thanks!


Filed under Life, Priorities, Simple Fun

Hot Spot Check Up 5: Kitchen Island

Here’s the picture for today:

Not great, but of course it has been much worse.

I generally like to keep things light around here, but I have to tell you that I’ve had a tough day today. I’ve been feeling really overwhelmed.

I’m doing  a little better now. I’ve been praying about it all – that is so good for me. My sweet husband is a great encouragement to me, too. And I had some chocolate cake and tea (see pictured above).  Now I need some much needed rest. And I do have hope for tomorrow. Starting with right priorities, then one bite at a time, one step at a time. And not in my own strength.


Filed under Cleaning, Clutter, Declutter, Hot Spot Check Up, Life

We have power!

I am very happy to be sitting here with my laptop, the lights on, drinking tap water, air conditioning working, the hum of a refrigerator in the background, and a safe family. The dishwasher should be running right now, too…. I’ll get to that soon.

Hurricane Irene took out our power (and running water) for 5 full days (Sat.-Thurs.). There is a lot I could say about that, but overall I feel thankful.

Thankful that our family is safe, and our home is not damaged.

Thankful for kind neighbors who gave us access to one outlet on their generator, which kept our sump pump going and kept a lot of water from entering our basement.

Thankful for my husband, who worked hard to prepare us ahead of time. Including thinking to fill our outdoor trashcan with water in case we needed it to be able to flush our toilets. We filled the tub before the storm for the same reason, but it turned out that we needed that extra water!

Thankful for disinfecting wipes, baby wipes, and antibacterial wipes!

Thankful for children who took it all in stride and enjoyed playing with flashlights.

Thankful for friends who let us come shower, hang out, play, do laundry, and plug things in at their house. They also gave us extra bottled water and ice.

Thankful for other friends (also without power, like us) who treated us to a  picnic (take-out) dinner at a park!

Thankful for another friend who invited us to come and stay at her house Wednesday night. I felt like we were at a fancy hotel! With power!

Thankful for my parents, who let us eat dinner at their house for 2 nights in a row. And my dad did most of the cooking and cleaning up! Awesome!

Thankful for the opportunity to be grateful for things like power and running water. Many people in this world live every day without these luxuries.

I am praying for those who are still struggling with damage and loss from this storm.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures this week, but I thought I would share a few. Some of these were taken with our cell phones.

Boiling water on the grill to make coffee and tea.

The kids made a good ol' blanket fort.

I did remember on Wednesday that I should take a picture of my kitchen island for the hot spot check up. This week's picture is bound to be better!

The kids played driveway hockey with Daddy.

Crews working to fix the power lines right around the corner from our house. Yay!

 I’m hoping to be back on Monday with a regular meal plan post!

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Filed under Life