It’s Been a Rough Year {but I have hope}

I’ve had a rough year. It’s been a year of big changes and big emotions. There have been moments when I have felt utterly defeated and overwhelmed, and likewise, moments when I have been excited and equipped (unfortunately, those moments have been few and far between).

I’ve needed a lot of help this year just to keep going.  I’ve spent a lot of time crying out to the Lord to give me the strength and resources I need to rebuild my life after a year of such upheaval.

This week only, one of the resources that has helped me tremendously in this time of regrouping is available for only $29.97!

The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle!

This sale is over.

Every year, I look forward to this bundle, but this year, it came at just the right time for my weary heart.

“The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,

to the soul who seeks Him.”

~Lamentations 3:25

There is so much in this year’s bundle that is a balm to my soul.  My own ebook, Large Family Homeschooling is included in the Bundle (Yippee!), but my favorite part of this year’s bundle are the eCourses.  You get the entire Healthy Home eCourse from Vintage Remedies (retail $95) which also includes a ton of FREE resources I have literally devoured – they are SO good! The Bundle also includes the entire Homemaking from Scratch eCourse (retail $29.95) Such encouragement and useful information!  And in the Bonus Offers, you can get a FREE scarf from Deborah & Co. and a FREE Craftsy class (we chose cookie decorating)! And this is only a tiny fraction of what is included in this wonderful resource!

So, if you’ve had a rough year like I have, or you are simply looking to better your homemaking, homeschooling, mothering, and marriage, have hope!  The Lord does provide in all sorts of ways.  It might be a new friend, a passage of Scripture you never noticed before, or a resource that comes at just the right time.  I encourage you to take a look at The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle this year.  It is my absolute favorite online resource of the year, and this year, so many of the resource spoke to me right where I was at.

 

Here’s the entire rundown of what is included for the $29.97.  You can click on any of the pictures to learn more about the products.  If you choose to purchase using my links, I certainly appreciate your generosity, as your purchase does equal a commission for our family.  Thank you!

Free Homemaking eCourse!

This eCourse is no longer available.

If you need a little pick-me-up, get-the-week-started pep talk today, you’ll want to snag this FREE – yes, FREE – Homemaking eCourse.  This was put together by my blogging friend, Erin from The Humbled Homemaker, along with her mentor, Holly.  There are 4 short videos that give a few very simple tricks and tips to make your day run smoother.

As a large family homeschooling mom, I had to tweak a few of the things mentioned, but that’s the case with just about everything I do!  I’m sure you will find some great ideas you can adjust for your own family in these homemaking videos.  Plus, you’ll be introduced to The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle coming next week!  YIPPEE!  I am about to burst at the seams in anticipation of letting all of you know what will be in it.  This is my absolute favorite bundle of the year, and next week you’ll see why!

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR FREE HOMEMAKING ECOURSE!

Making Lunch Easy

It only took me 12 years of homeschooling and 9 kids to figure out how to make lunch easy.

Gah!  Why did I wait so long?

I finally figured out how to make lunch easy! | RaisingArrows.net

To be completely honest with you, what finally forced me to simplify our lunches was this new job/new house/new baby thing that all took place right around the holidays.  We did just about every major life change all in a matter of 6 weeks!  Go big or go home!

I was really struggling after Aspen’s birth (that’s another post) and needed to make life as simple as I could until I was back on my feet and fully present.  I made a list of all the things that were causing me stress, and one weekend I took some time away to pray and work through as many things on that list as I could.

Lunch was on that list, and the solution came in the form of 3 S’s:

Soup ~ Salad ~ Sandwiches

Make Lunch Easy with the 3's - Soup, Salad, Sandwiches | RaisingArrows.net

Soup

Last week, I told you about our Kitchen Sink Soup.  This is our go-to soup.  We make it a couple of times a week to finish off any random leftovers in the refrigerator.  I don’t really plan any soups besides this one.  When I originally made the 3S Plan, I was going to add in some “original” soups as well, but implementing that proved to be more work than I cared to do.

I try to keep a loaf of bread on hand to go with our soup.  I prefer it to be homemade, but will often grab some sort of specialty loaf from Aldi just in case I don’t get around to making something.  Sourdough or French bread are favorites here, as well as our homemade whole wheat buns.

Salad

Before I had Aspen, I ate salad almost every day for lunch, but rarely had the kids eat it.  Now, if I’m eating it, so are they!  The two salads we make most often are Taco Salad and Chicken Fajita Salad.  For the Fajita Salad, I buy chicken fajita strips at Aldi in the freezer case, warm them up and throw them in with salad greens and cheese.  Corn chips add filler to both of these salads.

Sandwiches

Because I need things to be as simple as possible, I purchase a couple of loaves of bread a week and keep sliced cheese and deli meat, peanut butter and jelly on hand at all times (although, I’ve never eaten a peanut butter & jelly sandwich myself, most of my kids like it).  If we have homemade bread, great, but if not, I know we can still throw together sandwiches with the store-bought loaves.  We will have the occasional deviation from these two types of sandwiches with something like my son’s fried egg sandwiches or my daughter’s grilled cheese or bagel sandwiches, but that is fairly rare.

This plan makes shopping for lunches super simple too!  My weekly list will always have these things on it:

Chicken broth
Shredded Cheese
Salad greens
Fajita Chicken
Chili Beans
Corn Chips
Peanut Butter
Jelly
Deli Meat & Cheese
Bread

I keep us stocked with those items so I always have what I need to make lunch easy!

**Huge sigh of relief!**

How have you simplified lunch at your house?  Or maybe you’ve learned to simplify another meal.  I’d love to hear your ideas!

Easy Homeschool Lunch – Kitchen Sink Soup

Some of you are going to laugh.  Some of you are going to wonder if I’ve lost my mind.  Kitchen Sink Soup?  That does not sound delicious…

Kitchen Sink Soup - because it includes everything BUT the kitchen sink! This is a grab and go lunch - video included!  (and yes, I should have named it something else, but this is what we call it - weird as it is!) | RaisingArrows.net

I seriously thought I ought to call this soup something else.  Something more…um…appealing?  But, for some reason this is what we started calling this pull-everything-out-of-the-refrigerator-and-stick-it-in-a-pot concoction, and well, if I were to name it anything else, I wouldn’t be true to the weirdness that is our family.  (Please tell me you have weird names for stuff too!)

The whole idea for Kitchen Sink Soup came about as a result of my needing to revamp homeschool lunches into something SUPER EASY.  Next week, I plan to share the full plan with you, but suffice it to say it has been a lifesaver!

So, what is Kitchen Sink Soup?  It’s everything but the kitchen sink!

Come on in to my kitchen and see what I mean…
(not seeing the video?  Click HERE!)

Kitchen Sink Soup is basically a soup made from your leftovers with a few add-ins to make it extra yummy!  Have a little leftover hamburger?  Throw it in there!  Have a few leftover veggies?  Throw them in there!  Have a can of beans or black olives?  Throw those in there too!  Add some broth or milk, some spices and cheese and you have a nutritious homeschool lunch that can simmer on the stove while you teach your little ones.

We have Kitchen Sink Soup a couple times a week to finish off any leftovers we’ve become tired of eating on.  I get quite a sense of satisfaction knowing I’m not throwing out leftovers, but reinventing them into something different and yummy!

In the video above, you’ll see how I make the soup, plus a short list of some add-in ideas.  You’ll also see me without makeup and my hair pulled up in my usual “mom-has-work-to-do hairdo.”  Try throwing together your own Kitchen Sink Soup – actually, why don’t you call it something else so no one will look at you funny the way they do when I tell them what we had for lunch – then, come back here and tell me what you put in it, as I’d love to have some new ideas for my soup!

***Read more about my easy lunch plan!***

Using Google Calendar for My Menu Planning

Menu planning has always been a pretty big deal at our house – even when I had less kiddos to cook for. I enjoy the process of menu planning to an extent (finding new recipes, dreaming about how much my family is going to love the meals, etc.), but it is a big chore that typically takes several hours to complete.

(affiliate links included)

I’ve also found that no matter how great my plan, it ALWAYS changes.  I have to cross things off the list, move them to another day, or sometimes just skip the meal altogether.  After reading Mystie Winckler’s Paperless Home Organization, I decided it was time to ditch the pen and paper when it comes to menu planning and find a better way.

(See my full review of Paperless Home Organization HERE.  Use Coupon Code: raisingarrows for 25% off through Sunday 3/22/15)

How I Use Google Calendar to Menu Plan | RaisingArrows.net

Mystie introduced me to using Google Calendar to handle my menu planning, and I LOVE IT!  It has fixed a lot of the issues I was having with menu planning, and has simplified the process altogether.

So, let me share how I do it…

I use Gmail, so the calendar is built in to my email program, and I have it set up to sync to all my devices (my phone and my iPad – this is important for reasons I’ll explain in a moment.)

If you click the squares in the right hand side of your Gmail screen, you will get a drop down menu in which you will find your Calendar.

Using Google Calendar to Menu Plan | RaisingArrows.net

Using Google Calendar to Menu Plan | RaisingArrows.net

A large calendar pops up and you can add all sorts of things to it.  I have a household calendar, a blogging calendar, an appointment calendar, and my menu planning calendar.  I usually have all of them together where I can see everything at a glance; however, you can turn on and off whatever calendars you would like.  You can also share the calendars with anyone who has a Gmail account.  When I am menu planning, I usually keep all the calendars on, so I can see what might be coming up that week and plan my meals accordingly.

I only put in lunch and supper on my calendar.  Breakfast is almost always the same – whatever you can find!  Actually, I keep cereal, bread, yogurt and fruit on hand as our staple breakfasts every day but Saturday, when we make a bigger hot breakfast.

As I work through my Pinterest boards and cookbooks, I am able to add the meal to the calendar and add a link if need be into the description section of each calendar item. (Read more HERE about how I do this – you will notice I was not using Google Calendar when I wrote that post.)

Using Google Calendar to Menu Plan | RaisingArrows.net

I can also make notes and set timers for anything I need to do to get the meal ready…thaw meat, start sourdough, etc.  I can set the calendar to sound an alarm, put a pop up on my screen, or send me an email.  This is a great feature for me because I am forever sidetracked it seems!

The great thing about syncing the calendar with my phone and iPad is that I can use those devices in the kitchen to cook.  I can simply click on the link in the calendar and it opens up to my recipe!  If the recipe isn’t online, I can make a note of what page and what cookbook it is in.

And the best part?  If I don’t use a meal that day, I just drag and drop it to another day!  It really has taken a lot of the headache out of meal planning for me

If you need a little more information on using Google Calendar itself, Mystie has a great tutorial to help you:

And if you are interested in learning more about managing your home in a paperless way, take a gander at Mystie’s ebook Paperless Home Organization!  Don’t forget to use Coupon Code: raisingarrows for 25% off through Sunday 3/22/15!

The Relaxing Room – How to find your space in a busy household

A few weeks ago, I was able to connect with an old friend who is a fellow homeschool mom as well as a pastor’s wife.  She was telling me how she has a parlor room in her home that she keeps free from toys and clutter that allows her a place to sit with a cup of tea and relax.

The concept of having a place you can go to relax may sound like a luxury you cannot afford.  Perhaps you feel your home is too small or your time too limited to allow for space to relax.  But, please, lend me your ear for just a moment…

The Relaxing Room - how to find your space in a busy household | RaisingArrows.net

In other cultures and in days gone by in our own, people took time throughout their day to breathe.  Some countries take long lunches.  Some countries take tea.  Some countries even take naps!  However, in America, busyness seems to be a badge of honor.  Now, don’t get me wrong…we are to be busy at home (Titus 2:5), but taking a moment to drink a little tea or coffee, read a chapter in a book, sit and hold a small child, open a window and breathe fresh air are not marks of laziness.  They are marks of thankfulness.

The Bible tells us to be still.  When we are still, we are able to know God more because we take the time to see His handiwork in the trees and clouds, the shadows and light, fresh air, and our children’s faces.  We are more in tune with the blessings we have been given, and therefore, live a life of thankfulness.

But, what if you can’t dedicate an entire room to relaxing?  No problem!  You can find this kind of space other ways.

The Relaxing Room - how to find your space in a busy household | RaisingArrows.net

The chair above is a hideous orange chair my mother-in-law picked up at a thrift store for me years ago.  It is the THE MOST COMFORTABLE CHAIR IN THE WORLD!  But, it’s orange!  So orange I don’t allow it out in public!  It sits in my bedroom with an end table beside it.  It is a place I can go to nurse when baby needs quiet (or mama needs quiet).  It is a place I can sit while I talk to my husband as he gets ready for work.  It is a place I can go to have a heart-to-heart discussion with one of the children.  It is my relaxing room.

I have a set of red-cushioned patio furniture I purchased a few years ago.  Sometimes my relaxing room is there.  I can sit in the sunlight and watch the children play.  I can read a book or work on my computer in the fresh air.  Sometimes I just go there and sit and do nothing but breathe.

Sometimes my relaxing room is a 15 passenger van with the windows rolled down and music on the radio.  It is the place I find margin in my day.  It is the place I praise the Lord for giving me all the little people in my rear view mirror.

Your relaxing room might be a tiny corner of the living room where you keep a rocking chair and your Bible.  It might be a garden with stepping stones made by your children or a front porch full of plants and flowers.  Wherever it is, it is a place you can go to be thankful.  It is a place you can go to find just a tiny moment of retreat…enough to renew and refocus.

Not sure how to find a relaxing room of your own?  Here are some ideas to get you started…

1.  Choose a place you can keep fairly clear of clutter.  I know in a busy household this can be next to impossible, but if you purpose to have one little space that doesn’t get overrun throughout the day, it really isn’t that hard to keep it clear.  Yes, you will have to be diligent about removing items from the area that don’t belong, but trust me, it’s doable.

2.  Put something there that makes you smile – your favorite quilt, a plaque with a Bible verse, a pretty notepad and pen, even just a nice coaster to set your coffee on!  It doesn’t have to be elaborate.

3.  Teach your children to respect the space.  They should know they are welcome there, but they should also respect the fact that the space is for relaxing and not for horsing around or cluttering up.  Granted, children are children and a stray army man or doll isn’t the end of the world.  I’d also encourage you to allow the children to use the relaxing room for their own breathers if need be…or even help them set up a space of their own!

4.  Find a few moments every day to go there and just breathe.  Even if your relaxing room is just a couple of steps outside your back door on a rectangle of concrete, go there every so often and breathe deep.  Thank the Lord for this day.  Thank the Lord for this moment.  Take a sip of tea and head back to your regularly scheduled life a little more relaxed!