Monday, August 29, 2011

The Nightly Routine

As I'm thinking and writing about my struggles with developing good housekeeping habits, I'd like to mention that I had no trouble getting into a routine when The Boy was still The Baby.  I was a teacher before The Boy was born and I knew that children need  a certain amount of structure and routine in order to thrive.  Of course, when The Baby came along, my routine was based around Nursing and Naptime. I was highly motivated to develop a good routine for my precious baby.

After The Boy started school I did make sure we had good routines for getting up and off to school, afternoons, and bedtime routines for him.  I knew children need a certain amount of structure and routine in order to thrive.

The Professor is one of those people who is naturally very orderly, and he seems to thrive on structure and routine.

I guess I thought that structure and routine were great for babies and children or for people like The Professor, but not for me.

It has taken me a long time to finally realize that I need a certain amount of structure and routine in order to thrive.

Here's my Nightly Routine:

Clean Kitchen
Look at Calendar and make To Do list for the next day
Wash face/brush teeth
Set out clothes for the next day
Make magnesium supplement drink
In bed to finish my drink and read by 9 or 9:30

I resisted a nightly routine for a long time. In fact, I spent many nights up late on the computer until 11 or 12.  Then I'd just fall in to bed, sometimes without even putting on my pajamas. Foolish, foolish me.  The Professor finally convinced me to start shutting off the computer at 9 pm.  Just to make him happy, I did. I'd shut off the computer at 9 and head for the bedroom to read and drink my Natural Calm.* Then I began to realize that it wouldn't take me 5 minutes to do the face/teeth thing after I shut down the computer.  And so the nightly routine ball began to roll.

Now I generally start the nightly routine around 8:30 by making sure the kitchen is clean and washing up the supper dishes if I haven't done it already.  Most of the time I'm totally finished with the routine by 9.

*Natural Calm is the magnesium supplement that I take every night. It's a powder that dissolves in hot water that I sip as I read before bedtime. It really helps me get to sleep and get a good night's rest.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bless The Lord, Oh My Soul

A Facebook friend posted this on his wall earlier today and I wanted to share it here, too.  
I have a CD of this version of Rachmaninov's All Night Vigil that this selection is taken from and when The Boy was about nine or so he used to ask for me to play it every night before bed. 

When I hear the beautiful alto solo in this piece, I always think of my mother and sister.
I love the painting at 3:11 in the video. The title is "Prayer of an Expectant Mother" by the artist Dmitri Petrov.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Morning Routine

As The Boy and The Professor have gotten back into their school/teaching routines, I have also gotten back into my own routine here at The House.  One of my goals for this year was to re-commit to my housekeeping routine and I have to say that I'm chugging right along on this.  I have to be quite strict with myself once I'm home alone again during the day because I have the tendency to waste lots of time browsing the Infinite Store of Knowledge that is the internet.  So far I've really been able to stick to my morning and evening routines which are really the backbone of all my housekeeping. The weekly stuff, the decluttering 15 minutes a day a la' Flylady, has all sort of fallen into place over the last few months.

I know that there are plenty of other mothers out there with more children at home, who do a lot more than I do during the day, plus homeschooling. I love those other mothers. I admire them. I read their blogs with a thankful heart. They are contributing so much to their families and communities. My contribution is much, much smaller.  But, it is my responsibility to contribute to my family what I can.

Here's my usual Morning Routine:

Up by 6:30 at the latest. I usually end up getting up around 6:20.
Cook breakfast for us all, make lunch for The Boy.
The Boy and The Professor leave for their schools about 7:15. (The Professor walks The Boy to school every morning before he walks to The College.)
Have COFFEE :)
Make the bed.
Shower and dress for the day.
Wash up the breakfast dishes and straighten up the kitchen.
Put in a load of laundry.
Sit down to check e-mail and Facebook and download a podcast to listen to while I'm doing my major project of the day.

This is a very simple routine, but believe me when I tell you it has taken me YEARS to figure out that getting up early, and doing a few simple but necessary things really does set the tone for a productive day.  Yes, I have to write down on my list "Make the bed" every day.  I have learned from sad experience that if it is to get done I must Write. It. Down.

Now, I love FlyLady and you can tell that I use her system to help me, but you can also tell, if you know anything about FlyLady, that she recommends making the bed as soon as you get out of it and getting dressed etc. before everybody else gets up.  I don't do it that way. Maybe it would be better if I did. I don't know. This is working for me and has been for a while now, so I'm not going to tweak it right now.

This morning I finished my coffee about 7:35 and I was through with my Morning Routine and sitting at the computer checking e-mail by 8:04.  In the not too distant past, I might take my coffee into the den, before doing anything else, "just to check e-mail" and find myself at noon, still sitting here in my bathrobe, with nothing accomplished around my house and feeling like a failure. It has taken me a long time to learn that the discipline of routine really does open the door to freedom.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday, Monday....

I made another batch of  yogurt over the weekend.  For dessert last night The Professor had fresh peaches cut up in a bowl, with a dollop of my yogurt, topped with walnuts, and drizzled with local honey.  The Boy does not care for plain yogurt, even with peaches and honey.  Strange child.

I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't get back to sleep again because I had an idea for a blog post that I kept thinking and thinking about.  Of course, I didn't write any of it down at 3:30 a.m. and now I'm sitting here trying to remember what I thought was so important that I needed to blog about it.

The process of decluttering my house continues.  Here's the bookshelf in the long hall, in mid-declutter. I have since gotten things rearranged on that shelf so that now it only holds part of my collection of vintage mystery novels.  I've also gotten the coats in this picture put away, now that it's August, of course.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thanks Be to God

My father's procedure went very well yesterday, and by late afternoon he was at home, with a normal heart rate.

I am so grateful!

I'll be going up to see Dad tomorrow.

I Can't Believe It's Yogurt!

I did it!!!!

Homemade yogurt in my crockpot!

Of course, all did not go perfectly. I made a mess and ended up with less yogurt because of it.  However, the final product came out really well.  What I ended up with after the incubation time had the consistency of  commercial "low-fat" yogurt, and of course I wanted something a bit thicker, so I took a portion of what I made and let it sit on a layer of paper towels in a strainer over a bowl for several more hours in the fridge, and this is what I got:

Sorry about the sloppy mess on the side of the cup. I was so excited about the thick, creamy yogurt I didn't pay much attention to the details of my photo!

Yogurt thick enough to hold up the spoon! And it tastes just the way I wanted it to taste.  It is not too tart, and it has a wonderful creamy texture.  It still isn't quite like a commercial brand as far as thickness, but I think it's great for my first attempt.

I will definitely be making more yogurt.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

In the meantime...

While I keep calm and carry on and pray for Daddy, I'm trying my hand at making yogurt this afternoon.

I mentioned before that I really love full-fat, Greek-style yogurt and cannot find it in our local stores. By local, I mean within a 60 mile radius from my home.  Every store I visit carries several brands of plain yogurt, but they are all of the "non-fat" variety.  I did find a couple of 7oz containers of  2% plain yogurt yesterday. (I had to travel to the bigger-than-my-town-but-still-pretty-small town about 45 minutes away for an appointment with the optometrist. He told me that my eyes are healthy, but I'll be needing bifocals probably by next year. Just call me Gramma.)

So, since I'm mad as heck, and I'm not going to take it anymore with the non-fat yogurt, I did a Google search and found this:  You Can Make Yogurt in Your CrockPot! from Stephanie O'Dea.  I found other methods, but this one seemed to be the easiest. I saw plenty of recipes for yogurt which involved complex kitchen equipment like a double boiler and a candy thermometer or strange items like a foam cooler and a heating pad.  Not for me, thank you.  This way all I have to do is pour the milk in the crockpot and not forget it's there.  Well, there are a couple of other steps, as you can see when you click on the link above.

In other news: I found some Darjeeling tea on my shopping trip yesterday! Finding my favorite kinds of tea is almost as difficult as finding my favorite kind of yogurt.  I usually have no trouble finding Earl Grey, which I love, but Darjeeling is harder to find on a regular basis, and I have given up on ever finding jasmine green tea anywhere outside of the Big City.

I also found out recently that drinking black tea actually helps reduce the stress hormone cortisol, unlike coffee which can elevate cortisol levels.  I think it's time for a fresh pot of tea right now.

Prayers Please...

I got a call last night around 9 from my step-mother, who told me that my father is in the hospital with an abnormal heart rhythm. I think the correct term is "atrial flutter."  

His heart rate had been super high all weekend, and she finally convinced him to get to the doctor yesterday. They put him in the hospital yesterday afternoon.

Daddy is having a procedure this afternoon to regulate the heart rhythm and he should be able to go home afterward. 

I'm trying to keep calm and carry on.  


Monday, August 15, 2011

Back to School, Back to Blogging

Well, it's that time of year again. The Boy started back to school (8th grade already!) on August 4th, which I thought was waaaayyyy too early. The Boy didn't seem to have any difficulty getting back into the routine and he is happy with his teachers, so that's going well enough.  The Professor starts teaching again on Thursday.  Things have already perked up around here, though. The college kids who live in the dorms on campus moved in over the weekend and they are busy these next few days doing fun college stuff.  I always love this time of year when the college kids move back to campus and our little community bursts with extra excitement and energy.

With The Boy and The Professor back at the academic grind, it's time for me to get some of my own projects going again.

Here are a few things I'm working on:

The Boy and I will be getting back to studying German. We've been very slack all summer and I am ready to finish this program.

I'm working my way through a math curriculum, which will be another post.

I need to rearrange the living room which will involve taking down and rearranging pictures and art. The arrival of The Piano has thrown that room out of kilter. I'm really dreading this job, so it probably will be two or three years before I get to it.

The Afghan I started last fall is languishing half finished in a corner of my bedroom and I really need to get that project done.

I'm going to start doing more cooking "from scratch." Actually, I already do a fair amount of cooking from scratch, but there are a few things that I have been purchasing that I really want to start making myself. For instance, bread, which I don't eat, but The Boy and The Professor eat it every day.  Back in the summer, before we left for our two week trip to Arizona, we had a half a loaf of bread (Nature's Own 100% Whole Wheat) that I meant to put in the freezer.  There's always something that gets forgotten, and I forgot to stick that bread in the freezer.  We were gone for two weeks, the house was pretty warm and humid, and when I got back and found that bread I was shocked to discover that it looked exactly the same. There was no mold. Not even a hint of that "moldy" smell. It was the George Hamilton of bread.  Uh, call me crazy, but that just ain't natural.

The other two things I plan to start making for myself are mayonnaise and yogurt.  Mayo, because I really don't like the use of soybean oil that is the basis for all commercial brands.  Yogurt, because I like full-fat, plain, Greek-style yogurt and I'm sick and tired of only finding no-fat, plain yogurt where I do my grocery shopping.

We finished the last container of  "store-bought" mayo last week, and so I made my first batch of homemade mayonnaise for our BLT salads for lunch today.  I found the recipe in my handy-dandy 1948 edition of The Boston Cooking School Cookbook, by Fannie Merritt Farmer. I made the mayo with my little hand blender while the bacon was cooking in the microwave. It did not take long at all, and although it didn't taste like Hellman's, The Professor gave it a "thumbs-up."  According to my Nourishing Traditions book, my homemade mayo should keep in the fridge for 2 weeks.

Here's a random picture:

Beethoven with Legos
Not even The Piano is spared from the Lego take-over of my home.