Thursday, June 30, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real} on June 30

~ Capturing the context of contentment in the everyday ~

We had a few warm sunny days this past week, but I was too busy out enjoying them to remember the camera!  So here are a few shots from inside the house.


I have one planter of flowers this year (a beautiful oaken barrel planter), and it's filled with pansies, which I think are one of the friendliest little flowers. They always make a room so cheerful in an unassuming way.


As I was sitting at the table one afternoon, I looked up and there was the sun streaming down the freshly swept hallway. It had that dreamy quality which I haven't learned to capture on the camera yet. This was one of those moments of satisfaction that came with my recent housekeeping efforts.


Funny is trying to catch a moving object in focus and in frame!


Canadian Tire had lovely spring and summer door mats, but they were over $15. This one from last fall was under $5!

~ ~ ~

round button chicken


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What seems to be working . . . most days!

This post is mainly me trying to organize my thoughts on household organization! I'm finding a rhythm that seems to be working most days, and at least gives me a framework so that if I get off track I know where I can get back on.


A few weeks ago I worked out a housekeeping plan for the different days of the week, sort of like the old "Wash on Monday" idea. The hope is that this cycle will keep me on top of most of the major areas, with room to adjust as necessary. So far, so good. This is what it looks like:

General tidy after the weekend
Budgeting & online banking
Grocery list & menu plan for the week
Catch up on emails/letters

Mop kitchen & dining room floors (which means those rooms have to be cleaned first!)
Bedrooms (tidy, dust, fresh sheets, etc.)

This is my brilliant idea to give myself a day midweek to catch up on what I've missed, tackle a project, or just take a day off! 

Organize (anything from paperwork to cutlery drawers)
A light day since I'm in town for work at least half the day

General tidy before the weekend
Mop floors
A heavier day, but I'd rather do it Friday and have more time on Saturday for...

Projects! (painting, renovation, outdoor stuff, deep cleaning, trips to the seaside)




That is the weekly rhythm. Now as far as the daily rhythm goes, I am finding it beneficial to focus on 2 things: meals/meal cleanup and laundry. (As my sister pointed out to me the other day, these are the things which actually multiply if left undone! So it's best to keep on top of them.)

Planning, shopping for and executing healthy, economical meals (with Arden involved of course!) actually takes up quite a lot of time! Having a menu for the week really helps. I don't always plan which meal will be on which day, but I have a list of 5 suppers to work with for the week, and usually pick whatever I feel like or have the time to make on that day. Lunches are hardest for me, so I try to think of options in advance so we don't just have toast. Though some days we do.

Meal Cleanup:
This really is least painful if done right away, and I just have to make myself do it (though I have already spent a bunch of time in the kitchen and have a thousand other things I'd like to do), which does not come naturally to me. But I have been trying to do the clean-up right after the meal in question. I have a little system I've developed, which is probably rather obvious and/or quite uninteresting to you, but makes things just right for me.
I start in the dining room. I clear the table and bring everything into the kitchen, but I don't do anything with it yet! I wipe down the table, wipe down Arden's chair, sweep/wipe the floor, and put everything back in order. Then I have one room that's all clean and tidy and ready for the next part of the day or the next morning, and I can turn my back on it and turn my attention to the kitchen. Only after the dining room is done I go to work there, putting away the food, loading the dishwasher, doing the other dishes, scrubbing the sinks, wiping down counters and stovetop and sweeping the floor. I try to do this after lunch as well, including the non-dishwasher dishes, so when the time comes to make supper, I don't have to fight through half a day's mess before I can even begin.
The day seems to go by much better, and I feel like I have a clean conscience, if I stay on top of this!

I do this as necessary, taking advantage of sunny days as much as possible to hang things on the line. Laundry rarely overwhelms me, at least at this stage of our family. Only it can be depressing with multiple damps days in a row, when the dining room is transformed into a Chinese laundry, or the dryer is eating up electricity.
We're still using cloth diapers, so I've got a load of those going every day or two.

Oh, and I suppose there's another thing I do daily, and that's keep the living room liveable. The living room is the only "baby-proof" room that we can corral Arden in, so it goes through a daily cycle of toys and things strewn about. At the end of most days, after Arden's bedtime, I pick up all the toys and books and sweep the floor. Arden's toys and books live happily in one corner. The coffee table, which is turned on its side throughout the day to block access to the TV and all its wires, is flipped back up the right way, and I try to make the room seem like an adult living room again, if only for a few hours!

Bedrooms. When Arden is awake and downstairs, I'm downstairs with her. When she's upstairs sleeping, it's hard to do cleaning (involving vacuuming and the like) in our room, and certainly not in hers! So they tend to be the forgotten rooms, at least till I'm ready to go to bed, and then the pile of clothes on the end of the bed just gets shoved onto the floor!

Projects. I know I only have one child, and many people do much more with many more children, but I do find it hard to devote a lot of time to something project-like, without the normal housekeeping stuff suffering. Renovation stuff, like prepping a room for painting, finishing the bathroom trim, hemming the curtains, or even tackling a few of the rooms in the house that have still yet to be truly organized and put together, just seems to take over everything else. Part of it is a mental thing, I am sure. I just have to decide one day that I will do one of these things, and devote all of Arden's nap time or my evening to just getting that one thing done. And sometimes I can do it! Frozen pizza always helps in such situations. :)

Overcoming initial inertia. (Did you know that inertia is from the Latin iners, meaning idle or lazy??) Yes, somedays I am lazy. And the longer I'm lazy, the longer I'm lazy, if you know what I mean. If I've already wasted half an hour looking up random things on Wikipedia, then it's just natural that I waste another hour doing something equally interesting, but not at all something that pushes me toward my goals of what I want to do that day and what I want our home to become like. Sure, lots of things are well and good and interesting and useful, but are they fitting? Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial, as someone very wise once said. Sometimes I just need to jump up and get going already.

And then, on the other hand, there are things which I love to do and feel are part of my journey toward my goals as a person and mother and homemaker and minister, such as reading, writing, journaling, studying, praying and just thinking. I'm a contemplative person by nature. I'm not one of those boundless get-up-and-go sorts who have to be moving to be living. If faced with the choice of mopping the floor or reading a book, who wouldn't choose the book?? So it's finding the balance, being able to relax and say, "Who cares if my house is not spotless when there is theology to ponder?" and and being responsible to steward the home I have been given.

So there you have it, a long drawn out description of my housekeeping!


Sunday, June 26, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real} on June 26

~ Capturing the context of contentment in the everyday ~

Better late than never! Here's a snapshot of life between Thursdays.


Red geraniums on the front porch, and a rare sunny evening


Micah put up the swing on the front porch again, and now we have a perch from which to watch the river, the traffic, the tourists stopping in the middle of the bridge to take pictures of our house (2 so far this week!!), the birds and the bats. We've spent many a (chilly) evening this week just watching the world go by, feeling on top of the world.

Cold enough for a wool blanket and moccasins, but it sure is great to be out on the porch!

Reading Barth on beauty (CD II.1)


Is this why onions are supposed to be stored in a cool, dry place?


I got this prayer cube of graces for meals from Iona Abbey in Scotland. You can never lose throwing this die!

Prayer in the middle of a messy table.

round button chicken


Friday, June 17, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real} on June 17

~ Capturing the context of contentment in the everyday ~

Contentment . . . I am reminded this morning of the verse in 1 Timothy 6:6 that says, "godliness with contentment is great gain." When godliness is my priority, it is much easier to look around at all He has given and be content.

I am trying to be more intentional about being thankful. It should become my default posture toward God, toward life. And that implies a sense of trust. I trust that what the Father of Lights has chosen to give me is good and perfect. I trust that I have all I need, and more than enough. I trust that poverty of spirit brings about the kingdom of heaven in so many ways, and thankfulness opens my eyes to see it and my heart to receive it.


The irises have come up on the south side of the house!


I now have a real clothesline! We had been making do with a line of old rope strung up between the house and the lamp post in the yard, but the colour on the rope was starting to rub off on the clothes, besides being a little too low and just not a real moving line. Last weekend Micah and Dave put up a big post beside the shed and hung up the line so I can access it right off the back porch. I've got three loads out drying now, and that makes me happy!

I just love the look of little diapers on the line :)


Arden was out crawling in the grass this morning, and when the neighbour's tractor went by she gave it a little wave! I just missed the wave on the camera, but here she is looking at it drive by.


This is the slope in the front yard which faces north. At one time you can see there was a perennial bed here. It has parts of the rock border left, mostly buried, and some of the black plastic stuff they put down to keep the weeds at bay. The weeds have obviously since taken over, and I'm not really sure what's in here. I probably won't get to it this year . . .  any ideas for low maintenance perennials that don't need much direct sun? I was wondering about planting heather. Does anyone have any experience with heather?


round button chicken


Thursday, June 9, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real} on June 9

~ Capturing the context of contentment in the everyday ~

Just down the road from us in New Glasgow is a lovely place called the Gardens of Hope, where a delightful garden and trail network tumble down the rolling hills to the riverside.

Oh we're pretty happy around here...

round button chicken


Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I have found another new favourite blog! It's And it's like coming out of the forest into a meadow of a thousand flowers and I don't know which one to smell first.

But for all the parents out there looking for peace and joy, here is a place to start:
10 Points of Joyful Parenting



Thursday, June 2, 2011

St Frances of Rome on Housekeeping

I came across this quote on a blog today. It's one of those thoughts that helps keep things in balance.

"It is most laudable in a married woman to be devout, but she must never forget that she is a housewife. And sometimes she must leave God at the altar to find Him in her housekeeping.”
 ~ St. Frances of Rome

I would also add that there are times that one needs to leave housekeeping to find God at the altar. I think the thing is to be living daily with God so one knows where God is speaking. And wherever that may be, in a sink full of dishes, or in the sanctuary at prayer meeting, listen.

{pretty, happy, funny, real} on June 2

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~


Finally, the flowers are blooming and the trees are rustling their new leaves in the spring breeze.

The apple tree in blossom!

Apple blossom buds

Pretty pansies


On Thursday it was warm enough for a real beach day! We took ourselves to Brackley Beach and enjoyed the sun. Oh how I love getting the sand between my toes...

Big toes

Little toes


Arden wasn't so sure of the sand when we got to the beach. She would not sit on it, and insisted on sitting on me instead. However, though she was too scared to sit on it, she wasn't too frightened to eat it out of her toes!! Silly girl.

The sand tastes better than the cookie, apparently!


This is my dining room. Sigh. It is in desperate need of renovation. I have lived with it for almost a year now, but I reached my breaking point on Saturday and started pulling down the hideous wallpaper! So now I am trying to envision what it will look like if I paint the puke-coloured wainscoting white and the walls a rich golden yellow. That paint sample is not a rich golden yellow, but rather a cream I had used in another room, but I was desperate to try and get a visual. And that is a curtain tacked up behind the stove. The only thing I'm concerned about is that the black stove will look funny against white wainscoting. Does anyone have any suggestions for colours? I want the room to look warm but bright, since it only ever gets the early morning sun. Any feedback would be most welcome!


round button chicken

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