{SQT} Simple, Frugal Lenten Decor, Tofu, and Learning as I Go

~1~

Since I’m learning to incorporate the liturgical year into family life at the same time I’m adjusting to being a new Catholic, living in a new state, being a first-time homeowner, homeschooling with some unique challenges, and recovering from a serious financial slump, I’m keeping it simple. And cheap. I spent about 20 minutes on our Lent decor, if you include the time it took to figure out where they keep the plastic flowers at Walmart.

Of course, I’d probably keep it simple and cheap no matter what. I like it that way.

~2~

First up: our Lenten front door wreath, pictured above. I love having something on the front door! I picked up a grapevine wreath for $5 at Walmart, and I got the purple flower at the same time for $2.50. I don’t have a glue gun, or florist wire, or the ability to care about that, so I just cut the stem to a good length and wove it into the wreath. It took about two minutes, minus the Walmart-roving, and this way the flower could be readily removed to make way for some other seasonal whim.

Cost: $7.50

~3~

Next, the dresser in our dining room, which houses playdoh, school games, art stuff, and various junk that I shove in there when company is coming.  I put our Advent wreath on it this Advent past, and liked it so much I decided to just leave the space for “liturgical year stuff.” (There’s probably a lent 1better name for that).

Anyway, the purple cloth is actually just my favorite t-shirt (which is at least 10 years old). On top of that is Lenten Sacrifice Beans.  I got both the idea and the free printable from Lacy at Catholic Icing. The only thing I bought for this was the purple ribbon and the flowers.

Cost: $5.00

~4~

We “buried the alleuia” this year, too. This idea I got from Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas – both talleuiahe idea itself and the inspiration to keep it simple. I was happy that I was able to fancy up the Sharpie with some glitter paint that I borrowed from the three year old, though.

I made this on Ash Wednesday, but we forgot to bury it till the Tuesday following.

Cost: free

~5~

The last thing I did was change the top of the bookshelf by the door. It’s only vaguely Lenten, with purple candles and a plain basket, which I recently snagged at the thrift store for a couple bucks. Thelent 2 rest I already had.

Cost: about $2

~6~

Lenten cooking is on my mind, and we tried tofu for the first time in years this week. Last time I made it, it was awful; I think I tried putting it in lasagna, or something equally egregious. This time, I fried it and put sweet and sour sauce on it, and it was actually quite tasty. I have a Pinterest board for Meatless and Fish dishes, come on over and visit for some new Friday ideas.

~7~

Lent seems long, just now, as sacrifices already grow tiresome and I become forgetful of the positive additions I am trying to make to my day during this time. One thing I have learned to appreciate, though, in becoming Catholic, is the sense of the value of time. The value of waiting, of walking through the process instead of skipping to the end. Honestly, I don’t fully intuitively grasp the value of fasting (and I mean fasting in a broad sense) yet, though I have read enough about it by now that I should. I don’t understand it, or why it is beneficial, but I do accept that it is, and I hope to gain a clearer vision of that in this season.

Incorporating the liturgical year into our family uncovers these kinds of gaps in understanding. It brings to mind how, as a Protestant, I would not do something I did not understand the value of or see the Biblical mandate for. Each hymn I sang, each prayer I read, all had to be screened – by me, of course. I love that I can learn by doing, by following the ancient practices of the Church and discovering the richness of it as I go.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

Linked up at 

Over the Moon Link Party
and

and
 

Sweet Little Ones

and

This Is How We Roll Feature
aaannnndddd
Family Living Home Linkup

{SQT} 36 hours of panic in 7 quick takes

Seven Quick Takes

Or, how one mom and 8 kids cleaned the whole house in a day and a half, and lived to tell about it.

~1~

Panic

This is very important. Almost as important as an extra cup of coffee and the promise of a frappe when we’re done. Because when an untidy mom has to get ready for a rental inspection complete with realtor photos 2 1/2 weeks before moving out, and it looks like this, that’s the only answer. These are uncut, folks. You may want to scroll past if you are obsessively clean and/or have a weak heart.

Honestly, the pictures make it look pretty good comparatively. Only ample amounts of adrenaline could get us through.

~2~

Delegate

I took a sheet of paper, folded it, and unfolded it to make a grid from the creases. Then I put a kid’s name in each box. I went through the house, using a random housecleaning checklist from Pinterest. (Because I don’t have one of my own, clearly.) When I saw what all needed done, I sorted the jobs into the boxes of the kids who could accomplish each one.

My 16 year old deep cleaned the second bathroom, which gets neglected – and if you are a guest, you might be allowed to believe it doesn’t exist.

My 14 year old took over general operations, like dishes and laundry. The laundry was pretty behind, and she got it out of the way and kept the dishes from piling up.

~3~

Play

The middle kids weeded the front flowerbed, picked up their rooms, and did a “penny pickup.” (That’s a game. It’s fun. They run around and pick up, and keep track of how many items they pick up and put in the right place. I pay a penny per item. We don’t do it very often, but when the house is terrible and I’m strapped for time, it’s a miracle for only a few bucks.)

~4~

Stash

I couldn’t make the whole house perfect, and I didn’t need to. I moved some bigger junky looking things like empty rubbermaid bins and a broken dresser drawer awaiting repairs out to the garage.

~5~

Detail

Once the stuff was out of the way, I ran around doing whatever details I could see – wiping walls, swiping counters, straightening slipcovers, tacking up that dang piece of trim that keeps falling down. Like that.

~6~

Rescue

At T minus 15 minutes to the arrival of the realtor, my 3 year old woke up from her nap shrieking. She had several angry looking spider bites on her arm. So naturally I ripped her bed apart and even flipped it over trying to find that thing – to comfort her, to exact vengeance on the demon that robbed me of at least an hour of sleeping child, and to affirm that said demon wasn’t the poisonous variety, driven from some dark corner by the moving. Couldn’t find it, but there is a warrant out for its arrest. And Emily is fine.

~7~

Panic

Because I was going to spend that last 15 minutes straightening the kitchen, not hunting spiders. So I frantically called my teens back to help, which they did before vanishing out to go for a nice walk in the sweltering heat in full afternoon sun in order to not be around for the inspection.

Well, it worked out. Here’s what we came up with:

My house has never been that clean, ever. It’s kind of nice, but now I have to get back to packing, sooo…see ya, clean house. Maybe we’ll meet up again someday; some other house, some other time.

🙂

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

The Feast of St. Joan of Arc, the easy way

We wanted to have a French party for the feast of St. Joan of Arc, since she is Rebecca’s confirmation saint. So we did, kinda. Since we are getting ready to move, for most of the day my kitchen looked like this:20160530_152536.jpg

And like this:

20160530_152812.jpg

 

Basically, like this:

20160530_152609.jpg

20160530_152130.jpg
It’s French. Says so right there on the box.

So, we had “French” pot roast.  It’s a lot like any other pot roast, but I added wine. We also had croissants from a can, and, um, salad.  With French cafe music in the background.

And, eclair for dessert.  The sort made from graham crackers, generic French (!) vanilla pudding, and Cool Whip.  And canned frosting. Haven’t had it? It’s luscious. Look for Eclair Cake on Pinterest and you’ll find your way.

It was definitely low labor, but it was fun and the kiddos loved it. 🙂

20160530_182758.jpg

Linked up at:

Works for me Wednesday

and

Sweet Little Ones

Breakfast for 10: Simple Tips to Feed a Crowd without Losing Your Mind

I love to cook. It’s really one of my favorite things to do.

And it seems a little ironic that now that I have so many people to cook for, I have so little time to do it. I’ve got 10 people eating most of their meals at home; I have to simplify.

Especially when you consider that Timothy is grumpy at all mealtimes. I don’t know if he hates the confinement of his chair, or wishes he could just live on ketchup. But that kid yells a lot at meals. Around here we call that “ambience.” 

So, while I have a killer whole wheat pancake recipe, and we love muffins and scones, these days breakfast is a little more slapdash than that. Sometimes I make a more involved meal, but…not real often.

Method 1: You’re on your own

What’s for breakfast?  Whatever you can find or fix yourself, that is healthy enough to count as a meal. Unless you are too little for that – which is under 4ish. If you are 4, you can get yourself cereal or talk a sibling into making you toast. Bigger kids know how to fry and scramble eggs, get themselves bagels, smoothies, etc. This strategy means that I am only feeding 2 kids breakfast – the littlest – instead of a mob. And it teaches them good skills. They can care for themselves, contribute, make choices, plan, and appreciate that food involves work. They are also anxious to learn how to make new things so they can increase their options for these days. Unless things (or people) are totally crazy, I’m happy to teach new skills upon request. If I try to plan a time to do that, it never happens.

Method 2: Have one big batch of something simple

Um, oatmeal. That is what that means. Or possibly overnight pancakes, where the batter was in the fridge and the griddle is out and ready to go. Or maybe eggs, but eggs is pushing it because if you give a kid eggs, he’s gonna want some toast. And bacon. And cheese. And more eggs. So we do that sometimes, but not if we want to keep it simple.

Method 3: The hybrid of methods 1 & 2

This is my favorite, and I do it often. I like to throw a skillet full of sausages on the stove first thing when I get up, and then I just leave them on a plate on the counter. As sleepy, p.j.-clad kids stumble in asking for breakfast, I tell them that there’s sausage. They get some, and fix themselves whatever else sounds good to complete things.

I also might do this with yogurt, or boiled eggs, etc. Anything that is easy to leave out for people to help themselves. I prefer to make it protein, because that is what they don’t tend to get for themselves as easily.

Bam. Done. Go play. 🙂

Linked up at:

Works For Me Wednesday

and

Sweet Little Ones

 

 

 

Blended Life Happy Wife

 and

Wonderful Wednesday

and

Nourishing Joy.

and

 

This Is How We Roll Thursday Party

Basil the Great, KonMari, and the Great Eastbound Adventure

Desert caravan LCCN2001705578 (This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission from purchases made through affiliate links. My opinions are entirely my own. Thanks bunches.)

In a few months, we move east.

All ten of us.

We’re paying for the move by the cubic foot.  On a worn-out shoestring that’s been ready to snap for a couple of years.  So naturally, I took to Facebook to ask for advice. The advice I came out with all boiled down to what I already knew: get rid of stuff. Lots of stuff.

All. The. Stuff.

I read this post, and it’s been the foundation of my efforts.  Haley helped me realize that life does go on even if you don’t hoard your baby items.  Tight finances turn me into a hoarder – too scared to let anything go for fear I will need it. But I came across this quote from Basil the Great:

“The bread you store up belongs to the hungry; the cloak that lies in your chest belongs to the naked; the gold you have hidden in the ground belongs to the poor.”

It doesn’t make any sense to hang onto all the hand-me-downs and spare jackets and spare parts, at the cost of moving them across the nation.  There are people who need these things, and they are good things that should be used, not left to moulder in my garage for years on end. I’m not paring down, folks. I’m renovating. If I wouldn’t buy it for what it will cost me to move it, out it goes. And if I don’t need it, or use it, or love it, it isn’t even really mine. It really belongs to the person who needs it.

I’ve been going through the whole house, and selling/donating tons of toys, clothes, baby things, you name it.  The goal is half our stuff – except books.  (Any books gone is a good thing, but one must not expect too much.)

I also read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up – you know, the crazy Japanese decluttering book. It’s a little weird, (and in a family of 10 who even folds socks? We’re proud of ourselves if they match, guys.) but I like it overall and it’s also helped as I have had to decide what to keep and what not to. Honestly I am not convinced the KonMari system really can work for a family (this is a gal who got rid of her vacuum because it didn’t make her happy, until she got tired of cleaning her floors by hand and got a new one. If she can think for one second that she might be happier without a vacuum, we do not inhabit the same universe) but I do love a minimalist approach, and I always want everything as simple as possible.  I found the book to be very encouraging for developing a freer, more generous attitude towards our stuff. Also,  I don’t like a mess, but I’m not good at keeping up with things. Less stuff=less work AND less mess. Win.

My mother always used to tell me, “If you can’t take care of your things, you don’t deserve to have them.” I hated that, but the truth is, she was right.

It’s only lately I have decided that maybe the answer isn’t to wave my wand and somehow make myself into a person who is better at taking care of stuff.

Maybe I just need less stuff.  

Linked up at:

Women with Intention Wednesdays

and

WholeHearted Wednesday Linkup Banner

and:

 

Sweet Little Ones