Monday, April 29, 2019

Living With Intention - My Morning Routine

I don't know if anyone else is like me, but in my life "routine", is almost laughable. With three of us currently living in an efficiency apartment (we are planning to move soon), and two of those occupants working retail jobs, our day to day lives are anything but routine. There are seldom two days in a given week when we are all on the same schedule. And when either Bill and Kate may open one day and close the next, that means there really are no set bed times or wake up times in our house anymore, and to be honest, it's left me a bit frazzled.

If it were not for the fact that I am not working outside the home at the time, I'm not sure how I would manage. And while being at home does allow for flexibility on my part, I often feel that trying to accommodate for the needs of everyone else makes my day feel unstructured. I'm not complaining here, I'm happy to help, even if I am teetering in the imbalance. 

Thankfully, I tend to be an early riser, so that even on days when both Bill and Kate open, I am usually up for a good hour before either of them. I am also a morning person and I am most productive before 2:00 p.m. After that I can physically feel my energy begin to dwindle, and while an afternoon cup of tea or coffee will usually carry me through the remainder of the afternoon, I still find it harder to focus and I am not as productive. Typically, I like to wrap dinner up no later than 6:30/7:00, earlier if the schedule allows, and after that I am pretty much done for the day both mentally and physically.

In light of this, I feel that most days I just fly by the seat of my pants and **hope** that the most important things get done. I do have set days for laundry (Mondays and Thursdays). I change the sheets every Friday, so I'm good with the weekly, perhaps, bigger tasks. It is often the little daily things, like eating breakfast, and I'm not joking here, that don't always happen. In most cases I am not hungry right away and my stomach needs a little time to wake up. But what often occurs is that someone will need my help getting out the door, or I might have an early appointment and need to be out at a certain time myself, and on those mornings I will frequently forget to eat. I used to never eat breakfast, and sometimes even forgot to eat lunch, but those bad habits wrecked my digestive system and I'm still paying for it today. I've also found that if/when I don't eat breakfast, I tend to snack more during the day and my sugar cravings are higher late in the day. Additionally, there are also days when my quiet time doesn't happen, and while my relationship with the Lord is strong, I recognize a notable difference in my spirit when too many days pass when I haven't been in the word. My relationship with Him affects every other area and relationship in my life and time has proven that my entire day flows better when I begin the day in His word.  

So, what do I do? Living in a one room apartment means that even if I get up earlier than everyone else, I still have to be extra quiet and keep lights to a minimum, which thankfully isn't hard for me, I tend to move pretty quietly through space anyway. But the lack of lighting is the biggest reason why my quiet time often doesn't happen and I instead find myself immediately drawn to Facebook or Instagram. To counter that,  last week I started doing an online devotional, since the light from my laptop provides the light I need without disturbing Bill.  The only problem with that is that I prefer to keep notes in my journal and highlight verses in my bible, which means I need more light.  I've tried breaking things up and waiting until Bill gets up to do that, but it makes it feel a little disjointed. I like for things to flow, so quiet time part 1 and part 2 isn't really working for me. It's also hard to make coffee right now, but only because Bill prefers whole beans and that means it has to be ground. Thankfully it only took a couple of days of carrying the grinder and coffee to the bathroom, to remind me to do it the night before. We use a pour over to make our coffee, so other than heating the water in the kettle, so as long as I make sure the beans are ground, making my morning cup isn't very noisy.

With all of that, the one thing I know is that if I am going to establish a routine and be successful, I'm going to have to keep things simple. Because when you're operating mostly in the dark or with very little light, you're limited in what you can do anyway. I'm just thankful that the bathroom is separated by a wall so that I don't have to brush my teeth and hair in the dark.  And so, after thinking things through, here are my initial thoughts on establishing a routine;

❈ - Get up at 5:00 a.m. - I tend to naturally wake up around this time anyway, but occasionally I will sleep later and it throws off my entire day, so I'm going to start setting an alarm just in case.

❈ - Brush teeth / hair - I may also start getting dressed first thing because it tends to make me more productive. Staying in my pajamas makes me feel lazy and I'm more prone not to do what needs to be done. Getting dressed signals my brain that my day has begun.

❈ - Do my quiet time in a chair, not spread out on the couch. For months now I've been moving straight from the bed to the couch every morning, but guess what happens?  I fall back to sleep!  Sitting at the table shouldn't disturb Bill any more than being on the couch, and I think if I move the light on the buffet that is behind the table to the opposite end, it may even give me enough light to do my quiet time and still be able to see my bible and journal.

❈ - Eat Breakfast!  Some mornings if Bill is going in late and I don't have anywhere to be he likes to cook, and that's GREAT! But on the mornings that he has to leave early or on the rare occasion that I have somewhere to be, I need to force myself to eat something and have easy, ready made options available, like yogurt, which I need to eat more of anyway.

And that's it, simple, easy and do-able, at least, I **think** it is.  But to test that, I've decided to commit to starting this routine on May 1 and keeping it for 30 days. Actually, it will end up being a little more than 30 days because I am going to do a test run beginning tomorrow morning while Bill is away on an overnight hike for a few days. That way I can figure out everything I need to have in place while he is gone so that when he gets back, I'll already know how to prepare and lessen the possibility of disturbing him. I've already discovered in thinking this through, that part of a successful morning begins the night before, like making sure the coffee is ground and ready. So that has me thinking about my evening routine and what that might look like, and I'll be sharing that with you as well. In the mean time, also be posting a few updates to let you know how things go over the next 30 days as I attempt to put this into practice, so be looking for that if you are interested!

To help in my reaching my goal, I've purchased Crystal Paine's program, Make Over Your Mornings! I actually bought this over a year ago, but remember what I said about things not getting things done?  Make Over Your Mornings is a 14 day program, so that will get me about half way into my 30 day goal, and in time I'm hoping to pick up a few ideas and tips for making my mornings and thus my days flow a little better!  I've already looked over the content and I'm really excited!  And just as an FYI, I am currently not an affiliate of this program, although I may choose to be once I've finished it. As a rule, I don't promote anything on my blog that I haven't personally tried! I want to always be able to give you a personal, honest opinion regarding the products I promote here!

If you are looking to bring a little structure and order to your days as well, then I encourage you to follow along and check out Crystal's program! Just click the image above to learn more and sign up!  I'm looking forward to a fresh start to my day and to sharing what I learn along the way!

Until then, seek the the beauty in every day, my friends!

Spring Playlist - Ten Songs For The Season

Shirley Jones

Louis Armstrong, Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald

Barbara Streisand

Frank Sintra

Ella Fitzgerald

Tony Bennett


John Denver

The Beach Boys

Peter, Paul and Mary

Friday, April 5, 2019

A Box Full of Memories

“I think preparing food and feeding people brings nourishment not only to our bodies but to our spirits. Feeding people is a way of loving them, in the same way that feeding ourselves is a way of honoring our own createdness and fragility.” 

 ― Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way

My mom loved to bake.  In fact, it's one of my fondest memories of her from my childhood.  Which is probably why her recipe box is one of my favorite possessions.

It's not much to look at, not picture worthy.  A small square metal box covered with what appears to be an early version of contact paper, (the patterns must have been limited), I found it way in the back of a cabinet in the weeks after her death. It had probably been years since she had used it. Towards the end of her life she often made the same recipes over and over again.  Which was fine, it was what she liked and could easily recall from memory which I am sure made things simpler.

I didn't have time to peruse the contents until after we were already settled in Virginia, but looking through those hand-written recipe cards was like taking a little trip down memory lane. There was the divinity that she made every Christmas for many years. Her chocolate pie, which is the best I've ever tasted. She was funny about that one. She would gladly share the recipe, at least, the altered version of it, which is why everyone who tried to replicate it would often sigh in dismay, "I've made that recipe dozens of times, but it never turns out like yours." Thankfully she filled me in on her little secret so that today I'm able to make it just as good as she did! Thanks, mom!

One of the recipes I found brought me to tears. It was for smiley face cookies, and she had even noted that she made them for my tenth birthday, a day I remember well. The smiley face was all the rage in the 70's. There were stickers, and t-shirts, in fact one of my birthday presents that year was a coveted pair of tennis shoes emblazoned with the happy little yellow faces. My desire for them is probably what gave mom the idea to make it the theme for my party. I remember coming home from school that day to find the little plate of cookies surrounded by all my presents. Mom had even drawn two smiley faces in each corner of the recipe card. I will probably never make the cookies themselves, as it's just a simple sugar cookie, but having that card, written in her familiar hand along with the documented memory is priceless!

With technology, recipe cards have fallen out of fashion. Even most of my collection is organized digitally on my computer or on Pinterest. I do have about a dozen cookbooks, but rather than flip through the pages, I will typically type out my favorites and add them to my recipe file on my laptop. But having my mom's recipe box has instilled a desire in me to perhaps keep a small one myself. A digital collection is nice, but it's certainly no replacement for a lovely card, written in that familiar hand, especially if an occasion in which it was served is noted. I was surprised at the memories those little cards stirred, and while I didn't keep all of them, I did keep the ones that were special to me.  Every now and then when I'm missing my mom, I will take them out and look through them again, and I am comforted.

I've made up a number of little recipe cards and shared them here over the years.  Every now and then I'll make a few changes and post them again, as I've done here.  Whether you use these cards, or if you have your own.  Even it's only a simple white index card as most of my mother's were, I would encourage you to take the time to write out some of your families favorite recipes and give a copy to each of your children.  They might make a nice stocking stuffer for the holidays, tied with a pretty ribbon, or a sweet insert inside a birthday card.  They are also nice for sharing at potlucks or when taking food to new mothers.  I've frequently been asked for recipes in such cases, and it would be so easy to simply write them out ahead of time and include them with the meal. In any case, I'm sharing these little cards with you today.  I will make them available as a .pdf file the you can download, hopefully later today, but for now, you can simply save them to your computer and print them out!

Click image to open. Right click and save to your computer. 

I hope you enjoy them!  

Until then,