Days 11-14: November Declutter Challenge

FullSizeRenderHere is my pile of 20 items for 4 days.  These toys and games are going to consignment. Maybe I can make a little extra moolah for Christmas! I also just took about 15 pieces of clothing to consignment last week and about 30 pounds of my decluttered stuff to Goodwill.  I hope to get this house so light it could fly with balloons like the house in the movie UP.

How is your decluttering going? 

Days 6 & 7: November Decluttering Challenge

Confession Time– I’m behind. Both in blogging and decluttering. I culled 10 items on day 6 because I knew day 7 would be crazy busy. What I didn’t count on was how busy the following 2 days would be. We had a barn dance for my daughter’s high school on Friday night and harvest and farmer’s market on top of that. So tomorrow I will be decluttering for 3 days.

My picture below is from 3 days ago. But I’m not giving up — I’ll will catch up!!

Decluttering/Organization tip #3: Keep a bag or box in your garage or behind your closet door and add things to it throughout the year.

 When I notice a piece of clothing has become too small halfway through the season for one of the children, it goes in this bag. When I notice a toy no longer being played with, it goes in this bag. This is an easy way to keep the clutter down without much effort. When the bag is full, it is dropped off at Goodwill or Salvation Army.

Old shoes, puzzles, toiletry bags, a basket go into the Goodwill box

Old shoes, puzzles, toiletry bags, a basket go into      the Goodwill box

Day 5: Decluttering Challenge

Decluttering/Organization Tip #2: If you are overwhelmed because you have a whole room to declutter, start with a wall, corner, shelf or drawer and work clockwise around the room. 

If you tackle a room without a plan and you clean a little here and a little there, it is difficult to see any progress. If you complete one section at a time, it is easier to see improvement right away. An uncluttered shelf or a straightened, neater drawer will inspire you to keep working! If you move in one direction, you won’t miss any areas and you won’t get distracted by something across the room.

Happy Decluttering!!

These are the belongings marching out my door today. As you can see I cleaned out some drawers in our bathroom.  The medicine was expired and the lip products were almost empty.


Day 4: Decluttering Challenge

I’ve had some comments and pictures from friends and family about the decluttering challenge. I think for many people it can just seem too overwhelming and they don’t know where to begin. I happen to love decluttering and organization (although that may seem unbelievable to you since you have seen the picture of my bonus room). I’ll try to share some of my favorite tips with you as we face this challenge together.

Decluttering/Organization Tip #1: Choose 5 items per day and find a home for them.

This can take less than 15 minutes per day. I have challenged you to get rid of 5 items per day, but maybe you just need to sort 5 items each day. Maybe you don’t have the excess that I seem to have. Instead, it might be more helpful to take 5 items per day and find a home for them. That place might be in a closet or drawer, in a bag to take to Goodwill or in a box for a future yard sale. HANDLE 5 OF THE BELONGINGS THAT MAKE UP YOUR CLUTTER AND MAKE A DECISION ABOUT THEM! Before long that pile of clutter will get smaller. After 4 days I have already been able to get rid of one emptied box in my bonus room!


Here are the items I purged today: some games that none of the children are interested in, an old graduation banner, small kid sunglasses, cross stitch magazines and book ([I haven’t done cross stitch since BK (before kids)], and some used wall hooks.


Days 2 and 3: November Decluttering Challenge

My Mom called yesterday to say she is joining me in my decluttering challenge. Yeah!! We discussed how mental clutter and physical clutter go hand in hand. If your mind is too cluttered with life it is hard to make decisions about your stuff and if you have too much stuff, there is always that burden on you mind of the tasks to take care of your stuff, find a place for your stuff, or look at it days without end and know that you need to do something about that stuff lying around or crowding out your closets and drawers.

Yesterday, I had to weed out 10 of my possessions to cover Sunday and Monday. I went up to the boxes in my bonus room and found 10 items in about 10 minutes. They included an old phone charger and an old router. Why did I keep these things??? I also found some items that I was keeping because I might use them someday. Ugh! Your house can fill up fast with these kinds of items.

Here is what I got rid of:

What I weekend out of my junk yesterday

What I weeded out of my junk yesterday


What are your thoughts on clutter in your house and clutter in your mind? Do you experience the same Brain Freeze when it comes to dealing with your clutter?

November Decluttering Challenge

My bonus room 5 months after our move

My bonus room 5 months after our move

HOW EMBARRASSING! I know! We moved to our new house at the end of May and this is my bonus room 5 months later. Next confession: I’ve had a yard sale after weeding out junk while packing for the move. And I still have this much stuff that hasn’t found a home yet. Lots of the boxes are books and school books. Hubby and I love books and we homeschool. Hopefully this winter my hubby will have time to build some bookcases like he did in our old house and they will have a place. But the rest of the stuff? Obviously, if I haven’t needed it for 5 months, I just don’t need it!

So, I’d like to invite you to join me in a challenge. My goal is to get rid of 5 things for every day of November. That will be 150 items removed from my home by the end of the month. And what better time to do it? My house will be cleaner for holiday guests and there will be more room for the gifts we receive at Christmas. Maybe people will even be blessed by receiving the things in good condition that I no longer need.

Anybody else on board with me? I will post a picture each day of what I am getting rid of.  Feel free to post a picture each day in comments if you would like. Let’s get rid of our junk!

IMG_2417Here are the 5 items I got rid of on November 1st. A decorative tube, a book and movie, an unused cell phone case and a kitchen doodad. Today I’ll have to find 10 items to count for yesterday and today.


4 Strategies to Encourage Your Children to Eat Healthy

Many families are becoming convinced that eating clean, organic vegetables and fruits and removing processed foods from their diets is essential. The switch to this kind of eating can be difficult for adults – but what about the kids?



As I look back on the days that my children were toddlers, I now feel guilty for the endless cups of juice they drank and the constant use of snacks, such as cheerios and goldfish, to keep them occupied — church, Target, the park, the doctor’s office–you get the picture. No wonder they weren’t that interested in the food at meals! I had filled them up on snacks that lacked any nutrition but kept their little bellies full. There is nothing wrong with a snack between meals, but keep it nutritious.


We began growing most of our food about 4 years ago. We had always had a garden with tomatoes and squash, but now we eat from our garden year round. The children have a vested interest in this food. They plant it, weed it, water it and harvest it. It’s difficult not to want to eat something that you’ve been exposed to at this level. They take pride in their the results of their labor.  If you are unable to grow your own food, then take your children grocery shopping with you. Allow them to pick out a vegetable or two. It is good for them to see food in its raw state, understand where it comes from (especially if you buy from local farmers at the farmer’s market), and have a choice in what they eat.


Even if it’s just stirring the pot, children love to help in the kitchen. My rough and tumble 5-year olds consistently grab a step stool so they can watch, or measure or stir. My 9 year-old loves to make omelets by himself that his own hens have layed. Even after naming the roosters that eventually end up in the oven, the children love to know that the food they are cooking comes from the fruit of our farm. My teenage daughters keep the cookie jar full and often prepare the dinners if I have a crazy day or get stuck at the farm. And you can bet that if they help prepare it, they will eat it.


When I was growing up, my mom had a “no thank-you helping” rule.  IF you didn’t want a particular food at the table you still had to take a “no thank-you” helping. I am sure that there are many foods that I still wouldn’t like today if my mother had not made me try them over and over again. Research has shown that when children are repeatedly exposed to food they don’t like, they will eventually learn to eat it.  It doesn’t have to be their favorite food, but they do need to be able to eat it. We have employed this technique with our children and have found they will eat anything put on their plate. Enjoying a variety of food assures that your child is receiving a good balance of nutrients. It also makes you and your children much better guests when invited to a friend’s house.  Your hostess will not need to fret, because you can assure her that your family will enjoy any food she wishes to prepare.


I Grew It, Now What Do I Do With It? –KALE

We just enjoyed a delicious meal and I have to share the recipe with you. It began with a picture of a stew in a Williams-Sonoma catalog. I like the fact that it used an ingredient that we have an abundance of this time of year–Kale. Of course, I didn’t have many of the ingredients on hand, so I improvised and made up my own.  I was hoping this would last for two meals, but everyone enjoyed it so much there are only a few servings left.


  • 3-4 lb. of pork stew meat or pork shoulder, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 2-3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, cut in half and sliced
  • 4 large or 6-8 medium carrots, cut into 1′ chunks
  • 2 cups of fresh or frozen pumpkin puree (or 1 cup of canned pumpkin)
  • 32 oz. beef broth
  • 1 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp.  rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 10 oz. kale, torn from the stem, into bite-size pieces
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. of oil over med-high heat. Salt and pepper pork pieces. Add only enough to cover the bottom of the skillet, browning the pieces on all sides. Remove with slotted spoon and place in crock pot.  If needed, add more oil to the skillet and continue cooking pork in batches until all is browned and placed in the crockpot. Add onions to skillet and cook until  they soften. Add onions to crock pot. Then add the next six ingredients to the crock pot and stir to mix well. Cover. Cook for 4 hours on high.  Remove 1 cup of cooking liquid from the crock pot and whisk together with the flour. Add this thick liquid back into the crock pot and stir well. Add kale and stir again. Cover and cook on high for 30 more minutes. Ladle into bowls or serve over rice. Makes approximately 10 servings.

I served this with rice and crusty bread for a complete meal.  If this makes too many servings for your family, eat half and freeze half to enjoy on a crazy day when you don’t have time to cook from scratch.


Here is the pdf for easy printing: SLOW COOKER PORK STEW WITH KALE

They’re Home!!!

Just a short note to let you all know that our new daughters are finally Home! They had an interview with the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa and we were cleared for travel that same day. We left for Ethiopia a week later and arrived home on Thanksgiving Day. What thankful hearts we had that day to be re-united with our children at home and see them receive their new sisters with open arms. Now comes the period of adjustment. All is well so far.  They have begun school and daily eagerly prove to me that they know their English A,B,C’s and can add numbers. One of my biggest worries was their adjustment to American food (and forks and knives etc.). I shouldn’t have worried — they are eating like champs. Tonight we opened a large can (yes, I said can, don’t tell anyone) of baked beans to serve with our barbecue and it was gone in one meal.  We are now contemplating those larger (100+ ounces) cans at Costco. And I thought those were just for restaurants! :O

Thanks to you friends and family for your prayers. God is good!