The Reading Report, Vol. 12: Book Sale Edition

Hi, there, fellow book lovers! My how time flies in the spring! We have been so busy enjoying the beautiful weather and getting things done to wrap up the school year that I have had very little time to write. But it is nearly the end of May already, so it is high time I get to work on this month’s edition of The Reading Report! I know in many parts of the country, this is “book sale season” in local libraries or homeschool groups. In honor of that, I thought I’d share a bit about my recent finds at our library book sale a couple of weeks ago!

Fun Book Sale Finds:

The first table I stopped by at the library book sale was the section with books about animals. Last fall I found a few pocket field guides there, which we have loved pouring over. This time I was pleased to find a book on Song Birds and The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Butterflies and Moths. Both of these will be great resources for nature study, and the kids have already flipped through them several times just for fun!

Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates: I read this a couple of year ago on Kindle, and I’m glad to have a print copy now for my kids to read when they are a little older. It’s actually on the free read list for AmblesideOnline Year 5, so we’ll get there soon! (How can this be? My son will be doing Year 5 in 3 years. Eek! I’m going to try and not think about that…)

Gulliver’s Travels: This book is scheduled in Year 9 of AmblesideOnline, so, in theory, we will be using it for school eventually. But regardless, it is a classic worth owning and reading myself!

Watership Down: This is another AO book for the future, Year 7, I believe. I have heard mixed reviews from moms reading it, so I’m looking forward to digging in and reading it for myself!

Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales: I doubt any of us will be reading this cover-to-cover, but I thought it would be good to have as a reference when we start getting into edited versions of Chaucer in the upper years.

My Ántonia: This is now one of my favorite books ever since reading the ebook via my Libby app last fall, and I was so glad to find a print copy to call my very own!

The Hiding Place: Besides being a book that everyone should read, Corrie Ten Boom’s WWII concentration camp memoire is also scheduled in AmblesideOnline Year 11.

Night: A different Elie Wiesel book is scheduled in AO Year 11, but this is another important book that I think everyone should read and needs to be part of our family library.

Jane Eyre: For some reason, I forgot that I already owned one copy of Jane Eyre. I know it is many people’s favorite, and while I like it, it’s not a book I care to re-read often. So I forgot it was even on my shelf. I passed up a hardback copy of Emma, and regretted that when I got home an realized my mistake. Oh well!

That ends the fun book finds portion of this post. If you care to hear what I’ve finished reading recently and what I’m reading now…keep on going! 🙂 If not, I’d love to hear what good used book deals you’ve scored lately! Scroll on down to the bottom of this post and leave me a comment! 

The Books I’ve Finished Recently:

Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Wow. This book was heart wrenching and thought-provoking, even so many years after it was written. I am so glad I took the time to read it. Stowe writes with the typical somewhat “preachy” style of the Victorian period, but I think it worked well in this book, especially considering how much the message was needing to be preached at that time. May we never forget that all human beings are valued as equal in God’s sight and should be equally valued by us… We must keep history ever before our eyes, or we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. (Fulfilled the #1 spot of my Back to the Classics Challenge list.)

Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea: This books was much longer and more detailed than I was expecting. My first and only exposure to Jules Verne before now was Around the World in 80 Days, and that was a quick, fun read. I foolishly assumed 20000 Leagues would be similar. Nope! I did find the story fascinating, even suspenseful at times, but there were also long sections of detailed descriptions of nautical navigation and marine life that could really bog a person down. Since I listened to this on audio, I just let the narrator keep talking through those passages and didn’t let them bother me much. The open ending of the book was, perhaps, a little disappointing, but I guess it was in character with the mysterious nature of Captain Nemo and his amazing underwater vessel! (Fulfilled the #7 spot on my Back to the Classics Challenge list.)

What I’m Reading Now:

My current main read is Jane Austen’s Persuasion. It is actually a re-read (to fulfill the #12 spot on my B2tCC list), but it’s been so long since I read it the first time, I barely remember anything. What I do remember is all from the movie adaptation, and even that is pretty foggy in my mind. I’m enjoying it, even though to me it seems to be one of Austen’s least humorous and most melancholy novels. But it don’t mind that one single bit. I feel for Anne Elliot immensely and can identify with her more than I do many of Austen’s other leading ladies. I am both reading and listening to this one, depending on what I have time for, so I am sure it will be finished in no time. I am not sure what I will pick up next, but it’s likely to be another title from my B2tCC list. What can I say? I’m determined to get all these books read this year, and I unwittingly picked some looooong ones!

The Reluctant Cook’s Guide to Meal Planning: Homemaking Series, Pt. 5

In this final post in the Homemaking for Real People Series, I am getting really, really real! I am going to admit that I don’t like meal planning. But I still find it absolutely indispensable to the general health and happiness of my family, not to mention the maintenance of our budget. I also have to admit that I actually am not a big fan of cooking. Eating, yes. Cooking, not so much. It’s not that I can’t cook. I am actually a pretty good cook! I just don’t love it. I know some people who go bake or whip up a new recipe for the pure enjoyment of it. I don’t. I cook because I like to eat, and, as a matter of fact, so does my family! Since we believe that whole, natural foods are the healthiest way to fuel our bodies, we also like to eat food made from real ingredients. And having food allergies and sensitivities makes it even more necessary that I do a decent amount of cooking on a daily basis.

In order to manage all this cooking, I have to have a meal plan. But how does a reluctant cook go about doing this?

Enter, the Reluctant Cook’s Guide to Meal Planning:

Step 1: Make a Master Meal List

Make a master meal list of 20-30 meals that are simple family favorites that you can rotate again and again. For a lot of people, this means just dinners because they have about the same things for breakfast and lunch, like toast or cereal, and sandwiches or salad. Our family, however, doesn’t eat cereal except as an occasional snack, and since we have a wheat allergy, bread for sandwiches is a real pain. I also like a lot of variety, so I do actually have lists of our favorites for breakfast and lunch, as well. Your master meal list is something you can always fall back on when you are lacking creativity or just need a default for meal planning. Obviously, it is good to try new recipes, too, but it sure is handy to know you have this list of meals everyone will enjoy when you just need to hit the easy button.

Step 2: Find Your Style

This part takes some trial and error, in my experience, but once you find your groove, you’ll be set! Some people like to have a monthly meal plan, others plan weekly. I’m a weekly gal, thought sometimes I do plan for up to two weeks at a time. You may prefer to have a paper plan that you post in your kitchen, or a digital meal plan system like Plan to Eat. I actually put my meal plan right in my Happy Planner along with all my other weekly to-do’s so I can see everything all in one spot. There are myriad meal planning calendar printable online, so I encourage you to try out a few different styles until you find your sweet spot.

Step 3: Look at Your Calendar

Before you start writing out your actual meal plan, you need to consider what you have going on in your week. Knowing how much time you are going to have for meal prep each day helps you choose what to make. For example, I know if I’m going to be gone most of the day, I either need to plan to have leftovers for dinner or make a slow cooker meal that will cook itself while we are out. Also, consider the season and weather when choosing meals. If it’s going to 90 degrees and humid, you probably aren’t going to want to plan a lot of baking or roasting if you can help it.

Step 4: Make Your Meal Plan

Once you’ve got all the preliminaries done, all there is left to do is plug in meals from your master list (or maybe a few new recipes from a Pinterest board)! I like to write down breakfast, lunch and dinner in that order. For breakfast and lunch, I don’t have as many choices to rotate, so that goes pretty quickly. We like to try more new things for dinner, so sometimes it take me a bit longer. As I go, I have my grocery list alongside me, so I can write down any ingredients that we need for the coming week as I go. I also try and write in any prep-work that may need done ahead of time in my planner. If we are going to have soaked baked oatmeal on Sunday morning, for instance, I write down that I need to get the oats soaking while I’m making dinner Saturday evening.

Step 5: Follow Your Plan

So, you’ve gone to all the work of making a meal plan. Now you need to put it in a place where you will see it and do your best to follow the plan! I know there are times when plans change and meals will get switched or left out all together. I am fine with this as it is MY plan, after all. I have the freedom to change it as needed. But I also know that if I don’t take care, produce purchased for a specific meal may spoil, or meat may not get thawed in time, etc. If I want to be wise with my time and money, it helps to stick to the plan. And, yes, I do build leftovers into my meal plan as much as possible! It is frugal and time-saving, and even my kids have no problems with eating leftovers (most of the time).

Step 6: Have a Good Attitude

Okay, maybe this should have been first…and it certainly isn’t reserved just for meal planning and cooking! Having a good attitude and thinking positive about your role as cook and meal planner for your family will go a long way toward making it a more enjoyable experience. I know that I am always proud when I put a healthy, hot meal on the table for my family. It is satisfying to know that this is one way I can serve and bless my husband and children, and it really is not all that much trouble after all. Even on a frugal budget, we can enjoy good meals when I plan well and execute that plan. And so can you! So, go ahead. Make a meal plan and go cook something wholesome and delicious!

That wraps up our Homemaking for Real People blog series! I’ve enjoyed sharing a little more in depth on how we run our home, and I would love to hear what you’ve thought of the series! Would you like me to write more on topics of homemaking, planning, or routines? Leave me a comment below. I’m all ears!

Previous Posts in the Homemaking for Real People Series:

Intro to Homemaking for Real People: Homemaking Series, Pt. 1

Why Just “Good Enough” Housekeeping? Homemaking Series, Pt. 2

A Good-Enough Housekeeping Routine: Homemaking Series, Pt. 3

20 Daily “Quick Wins:” Homemaking Series, Pt. 4

Keeping the Laundry Monster at Bay: Homemaking Series, Pt. 5

Keeping the Laundry Monster at Bay: Homemaking Series, Part 5

Welcome back to the Homemaking For Real People series! We’ve made it to week 5 already, and today I’m talking about laundry. Yes, I know it is not the most glamorous or exciting part of our homemaking duties, but it is still important. And since it seems to be an area in which a lot of people struggle, I thought I’d share a few things that have helped me keep the dreaded “laundry monster” at bay in our home.

Have a Routine:

I’ve said it before in this series, but it bears repeating. Having a predictable routine for your housekeeping tasks will help you stay on top of everything, and laundry is no exception. In fact, in our house, even if there is not a set schedule or day for any other task, there is a schedule for laundry. No matter what else I have going on during laundry day, I try to make no excuses and just get it going. Since my husband and I got married nearly 14 years ago (say what?!) we have done laundry primarily on Friday and/or Saturday. This way I always know we have clean clothes for church and the coming work week. It just makes sense for us. As a young couple, we could generally do all of our laundry in 2-3 loads each week, making it pretty easy to get done in one day. Now that we have kids, I usually have a few more loads than that to do, but I still have specific days for washing clothing, towels, bedding and doing hand washing, when needed.

Fold and Put Away, Right Away:

I know that this is where a lot of people get tripped up, but believe me, friend. You will be able to stay on top of the laundry pile so much better if you just buck up and fold, hang and put away that clean laundry right away. Now, let me say this: in our house that doesn’t always happen exactly while the clothes are still hot from the dryer. It does, however, happen on the day the clothes are washed. I will frequently do 3 loads of clothes in a day, bringing them all to our bedroom and piling them on the bed. I hang things that will wring easily right away, but I will often wait until all the clothes I’m washing that day are done before starting to sort, fold and put away. But it always all get put away before anyone goes to bed at night. It is just part of the job, so I have disciplined myself to do it. My husband usually helps, but if he is busy, I don’t mind doing it all myself. I know there are seasons when this can seem overwhelming, but sometimes we have to stop making excuses and just do the work.

Train Your Kids to Help:

This is another things I’ve said before but will say again. Teach your children to help with the laundry. My son has been doing his own laundry since he was around 6 years old. Every week he has this on his chore chart. It is not his favorite thing to do, but he know how to do it and will not be bringing his clothes home for me to wash on his college breaks! Ha! Also, my daughter is learning how to sort the dirty clothes into colored piles and to help sort the clean ones into the correct family member’s pile. She can match up socks and fold wash cloths. Anything you can teach your children to do to help out, even if it takes more time in the beginning, will pay off in the end, I promise!

Don’t Buy Too Many Clothes:

Seriously. Capsule wardrobes, minimal amounts of clothing for each family member for each season, will help you. The fewer clothes you have to wear, the fewer clothes you have to wash! Also, if you don’t need to buy a lot of hand-wash or dry-clean only items, you will save yourself the time and money of needing to take special care of so many clothes. Buy permanent press or non-wrinkle dress clothes when possible to cut down on the need to iron.

Bonus tip:

Another way to cut down on laundry is to re-wear barely worn clothes. I’m obviously not talking about sweaty t-shirts or muddy jeans. But often we wear clothes lightly enough that they are fine for a second go round before hitting the wash. Teach your family members to hang up clothes that have only been worn for short periods and are still clean, instead of automatically tossing everything in the hamper. Dress clothes and jeans especially fall into this category.

It’s pretty no-nonsense and simple, but those are the things we do here to keep the laundry from getting out of control Do you have any other tips or tricks you use to keep from swimming in unfinished laundry? I’d love to hear them in the comments!

Previous Posts in the Homemaking for Real People Series:

Intro to Homemaking for Real People: Homemaking Series, Pt. 1

Why Just “Good Enough” Housekeeping? Homemaking Series, Pt. 2

A Good-Enough Housekeeping Routine: Homemaking Series, Pt. 3

20 Daily “Quick Wins:” Homemaking Series, Pt. 4

20 Daily “Quick Wins”: Homemaking Series, Part 4

Welcome back to my Homemaking for Real People blog series! This week I wanted to give you a list of 20 Quick Wins– small tasks that you can do when you are short on time that still make a big difference around the house. Most of these ideas are things that you should be doing daily, or at least weekly, anyway. All of them can be done in a few minutes, except perhaps washing a full load of dishes. For tasks that may take longer, or areas that have become overwhelming problem areas, try setting a timer and see how much you can get done in a 5-15 minute time period. I suggest printing off this list and posting a copy somewhere you will see it when you have few spare minutes. One great place to stick this list is in your planner so you will see it when you are checking off your to-do’s for the day! Also, if you have kids, many of these tasks are things your children can and should be taught to do, too. After all, as the saying goes, many hands make light work! Here goes:

20 Daily “Quick Wins”

  • Make the bed
  • Put dirty clothes in the hamper
  • Put shoes away
  • Clear off kitchen counters
  • Wipe bathroom counter and sink
  • Wipe kitchen counters
  • Wipe down microwave
  • Sweep kitchen/dining room floor
  • Fold throw blankets and fluff pillows
  • Hang up jackets
  • Fold a load of laundry
  • Put away clean clothes
  • Wash dishes
  • Put away clean dishes
  • Do a quick pick-up of one room
  • Empty waste baskets
  • Take out trash/recycling
  • Sort mail
  • Straighten a bookshelf
  • Clear off your desk/dresser/nightstand

How many quick wins will you have today? Click here to get the free printable list of the above 20 Quick Wins to help you make the most of your housekeeping time. It is formatted to print 3 lists on a page, so you can cut them apart and post them around the house where you will be able see them often. Happy cleaning!

 

 

 

Previous Posts in the Homemaking for Real People Series:

Intro to Homemaking for Real People: Homemaking Series, Pt. 1

Why Just “Good Enough” Housekeeping? Homemaking Series, Pt. 2

A Good-Enough Housekeeping Routine: Homemaking Series, Pt. 3

 

Adapt: becoming a new creation, #fiveminutefriday

adapt: to make fit (as for a new use), often by modification

~Mirriam-Webster dictionary~

I’ve been thinking a lot a bout “fit-ness” lately. My husband and I recently got FitBits, and we have been working on increasing our activity level and eating less. We realize we aren’t getting any younger or fitter by just sitting around doing nothing. If we want to feel better and be able to do the work we have to do and enjoy life, we know we have to get our physical bodies in line with those goals.

But at the same time, I’ve been trying to get in better shape emotionally and spiritually so that I can be a better servant of Christ and a better mother, wife and friend. I need to be fit for all the roles God has given me. And most importantly, I need to be fit for the kingdom!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Corinthians 5:17

As a new creation in Christ, I have a new identity. But I usually walk around identifying with the old self, believing lies from Satan about who I am. I often believe I am worthless, a failure, destined for a life of depression and destruction. But that is not who God says I am. He says I am worthy, holy, redeemed, and whole, destined for a crown and a life in His kingdom in glory! I have to adapt my body for physical success. I also have to adapt my mind and heart for spiritual success, speaking the truth to myself and believing what God says about me and my future.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

This post is part of the Five Minute Fridays link-up hosted by Kate Motaung. Join the FMF community and get your free-write on! Find my other Five Minute Fridays posts here.